Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bernie Giusto: Oregon and Marijuana: Doctors Cheech and Chong Will See You Now

MARIJUANA COPSDuring the latter days of the Vietnam War as a young Oregon State Trooper I was part of a drug street team to enforce our Zero Tolerance drug laws. I made my share of arrests for the then-crime of Possession of Less Than an Ounce of marijuana. Occasionally we’d make a felony arrest for much more serious holdings.

Back then it was serious business. There was nothing funny or even in the least accepting throughout this state about the manufacture, possession, or use of marijuana for any purpose. 

If you were part of that thin blue line and thought there was anything acceptable about marijuana possession, you were at best irreverent and more likely suspect. And if you wholly accepted its use then you were certainly suspect if not a suspect.

Long before “medical” marijuana was an excuse for having weed on you, possessing less than an ounce came close to being a felony. If you had Hashish (a concentrated THC marijuana derivative) it was certainly a felony.CHEECH AND CHONG POSTER

Who could have imagined that in those days we would have missed an idea for marijuana policy writ large—on the big screen?

The 1978 Paramount Pictures masterpiece “Up in Smoke”, followed the law-breaking antics of Cheech Marin, as Anthony “Man” Stoner and Tommy Chong as Pedro de Pacas.

Laugh if you will, but the all too obvious and ignored premise of Up in Smoke was that the manufacture, possession, sale and use of marijuana was a lot of harmless and profitable fun! And if you thought hard enough you could imagine redeeming social values as well. 

We laughed as the high and hapless protagonists showed the courts and cops as incapable of dealing with the taboo marijuana mentality.

CHEECH AND CHONG PARKED MEMEWhile Man and Pedro were having criminal charges dismissed by a judge who was caught with a water pitcher full of vodka during court, the police were either stoned from marijuana exhaust, or confused by reports of a stash of dope being peddled in town (which by the way was in the parking lot of the police station in the form of the Cheech and Chong dope van), the point was made: law enforcement was ineffectual. It was clear there was no way the criminal justice system could control a mini marijuana epidemic in the form of these two guys who couldn’t even navigate their own lives.   

Sadly, that is exactly where the Oregon criminal justice system finds itself today.

In Oregon, the argument no longer is whether marijuana is therapeutic. Voters have settled that matter. Oregon cops need help in sorting out the 21st century Cheech and Chongs from the voter-approved Doctor Feel Goods. We are waiting to find out if Oregon will license the 225 Medical Marijuana facilities across the state to show seriousness on the issue.

Legalizing marijuana, like prohibition before it, will result in a tsunami of social implications that social acceptance of marijuana will bring.  Imagine a fleet of vans filled with Cheech and Chongs and you begin to get the picture.

Oregon voters need to decide if a strong enforcement strategy going forward will include using money to prosecute the manufacture, sale, possession and use of marijuana. From breath test technologies based on new standards for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana to controlling the science of THC level in the marijuana produce, we should be confronting these questions now.

What about the predictable social complications that come with entertaining this kind of social change?  I can tell you, law enforcement has much better things to do than try to enforce the unaccountable and prosecute the MARIJUANA SCHOOLindefinable. 

What about preparing our children through well state funded and effectively delivered marijuana use education? If our children don’t have informed choices they will most often choose the ‘fun’ one.

Last week the Oregon District Attorneys Association asked the Oregon legislature to consider substantially lessening the penalties for some drug crimes in Oregon.  Of course the common cry is that we can’t pay for being that tough in many instances.

What I can’t believe is that our top county law enforcement officials haven’t suggested a well thought-out and carefully structured proposal to test the willingness of Oregon’s voters to rethink the marijuana effect in Oregon. I know that at best in 99.9% of possession and use cases it is on their list of “when prosecutor time and money allow”.  

Perhaps it is too much ask our top cops to tread into such deep political water.

Oregon voters have watched as Washington and Colorado have struggled with their new marijuana legalization law. They are no longer pretending they are dealing with the marijuana use issue. They are actually defining the real challenges of the presence of marijuana in their communities and addressing resources, if not perfectly, at least with informed purpose. Oregon voters get it.

The Oregon legislature is next up. Will they lead on this issue or decide to be the immovable, politically stuck public policy object? The Oregon initiative process waits in the wings as the irresistible force around this irresistible question.

MARIJUANA COP IN FIELDIt does not matter what I believe is a comprehensive approach and public policy right answer here, but in Oregon I can tell you we are nowhere near it. 

My guess is when the irresistible force meets the immovable object something big will give. I just know that our current overall public policy approach regarding marijuana use as a true social welfare question in Oregon makes no more sense than Up in Smoke does as a state enforcement strategy. 

Maybe we should ask Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Sad to say, forty years later maybe we can learn from them again.

Scott St. Clair: Let the IRS and the Whole Government Tremble in Fear Before the Wrath of the People

Ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, isIRS cartoon concerned that the IRS conservative-targeting scandal push back could have a “chilling effect” on IRS employees investigating taxpayers:

Good — I hope it scares the ever loving s*** out of them to the point where they cower in fear and trepidation under their desks and never venture out to harass or bully another American from now until the end of days.

I hope they become so terrified of the wrath of the American people that every IRS employee quits without noticeIRS cartoon2 and runs in fear of life and limb to parts unknown. And I hope those in other government agencies — EPA, DoJ — follow suit. I hope Eric Holder, wracked with guilt for being the lying sleaze and violator of the First Amendment that he is, pulls a Joe Payne-level breakdown as if lifted from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“:

I hope President Obama gets that arrogant smirk wiped off his face and he’s made to look into the mirror to see nothing looking back. And I hope he’s made to realize his does stink, stink bad and stink a lot because he’s dumped it all over the nation and the world for close on to five years.IRS PROTEST COLLAR

Government is NOT your friend. At best, its duty is to safeguard your liberty and property and maximize your freedom. We lost that type of government decades ago. Now it operates gulags, harasses citizens for not being sufficiently sheep-like, controls them and takes the fruit of their labor and increases its hold on them with a figurative boot on their necks. To those in government, their purpose isn’t altruistic — they go into it to do good, and too many do real good — but to obtain power, retain power, maximize power and quash all opposition.

Time for this?


Week’s End With Bernie Returns! The Former Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto Answers Your Law Enforcement Questions. Today: Can You Lie to A Cop?

police-officerIf you have a question for the former Multnomah County Sheriff in his new weekly column, please send your questions to and in the subject line put “Week’s End With Bernie.” 

Ly’n and Deny’n to The Police? Sure In Oregon That Works

In my early days as a Trooper with the Oregon State Police I had a very good friend who had resigned from the California Highway Patrol to join OSP.  I would jokingly remind him that after 8 years of service with CHP he finally had the good sense to finally join up with a real full service “State Police” organization. 

The comparison being the Police versus Patrol and the almost singular traffic patrol enforcement mission of the California “Highway Patrol”. Truth be known, the CHP is a great organization and their street work in protecting California citizens was second to none. Regardless I couldn’t resist jabbing my “tail light” chasing friend.
 police cartoon
But no matter how often I thought I was getting the best of him with the cutting edge humor, he would always pull the Ly’n and Deny’n card. He would then hammer me with the truism that at least working with the CHP the crooks caught trying to peddle a lie to the police were subject to being arrested for same.
That would shut me right up. Because in Oregon lying to the police is and was just the price of doing business. In fact,if you not being lied to at a traffic stop you hadn’t made the stop. 
Probably a little cynical but more accurately reflective I could not be. If honesty is the best policy usually it may not be the case when you talking to the police when the red and blues are dancing in your rearview mirror. 
So let’s say you get stopped in Oregon for a traffic violation, traffic crime or because you just robbed the local 7-11. Other than the purely ethical reason, what should the guiding principle be for your decision when the answer to the question from the police maybe at best, problematic.
Let’s say you don’t mind lying, you just want to go to jail simply because you are about to lie to the police. Go ahead. In Oregon lying to the police is just fine, no crime. 
You ought to be sure however you are lying to the “correct” police at the right time about the right issue. Recall I said the police at a traffic stop for a traffic violation or crime.  I didn’t say a FBI agent during a federal criminal investigation, I didn’t say a the US Attorney in a Federal Grand jury, I didn’t say a District Attorney after being sworn to tell the truth in a Circuit Courtroom in the State of Oregon.  But if it makes you feel better, it is not a crime to lie to the police even if it has nothing to do with a traffic stop.
Remember, I said to the police,city,county or state. Not the FBI investigating a high profile terrorism case.Let me demonstrate the difference.
After the smoke cleared from the Boston Marathon and with one suspect dead and the other a wounded capture, the FBI led investigation had a license to hunt. 
Then suddenly we heard that three other suspects had been arrested. One of two charges against the suspects was lying to a Federal Officer during a federal criminal investigation. At least two of the suspects were alleged to have had lied to the FBI about their relationship with the two main suspects during earlier FBI interviews.
Had the suspect lied to Boston Police Officers or Detectives functioning purely as city police and under the same circumstances around the same issues, it is highly unlikely that they could have or would been arrested for lying.  However on the second charge leveled at all three suspects of Obstruction of Justice all bets are off.
So remember the next time you get stopped, or the police serve a search warrant at your home you do not have to tell the truth, or answer question or let them search your vehicle. In fact you don’t have to say or do anything at all.  
Now did I say that lying was always a good idea? I did not. Nor did I say what you say or do or don’t say or do will have any effect on what the police ultimately do. 
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently wrestling with the question of whether lying to the police during an investigation can be mentioned at trial as an element of proving guilt. To this point in many states the answer is “no”.  That may change. 
So I guess the old saying is that if you can’t say something truthful about something criminal or even about why you were speeding it is still the best advice to say nothing at all.


Radical Imam Says He “Understands” Why Terrorist Killed British Soldier in Street

Anjem ChoudaryWhile the MSNBC Nancy Boys conclude the killing of a British soldier is just a “murder,” the Imam who helped radicalize one of the killers says ‘he understands’ why he did it. In fact, not only does he understand, he just can’t bring himself to repudiate it. Amazing. Watch this interview and if your jaw isn’t dropping by the end, you just refuse to see what you see.

UPDATED WITH VIDEO! I-5 Bridge Collapse Over Skagit River On State List of Deficient Bridges

Here’s a pic from King 5 News in Seattle. No word on injuries.

From King 5 News, “witnesses reported seeing a semitruck with an oversized load crossing the bridge and striking a girder before the bridge collapsed.”

That bridge was on the WSDOT list of deficient bridges (here) H/T Roman Robinson. Also apologies. I previously mismarked the wrong bridge. I’ve correctly identified it on the list now.
Skagit river bridge deficient
skagit river bridge
skagit river bridge collapse
skagit river

Your High School 16 Year Old is Oregon Democrats’ Latest Political Pawn

bus project pps 1 It’s not bad enough that the Oregon Bus Project has been laughably installed in the Portland Public Schools as part of the “Politicorps” to teach students about politics–really, I’m not kidding (“BFF’s for Democrats, I mean Democracy”). It’s not bad enough that our students are being used to do door knocking on behalf of far left candidates and given school credit via the Bus Project, but now far left lawmaker and self described community organizer, Ben Unger is trying to make it easier for his ilk to convince your child to register to vote as a Democrat. How? By allowing your school’s teachers to register your child to vote.

ben ungerBus Project Your Election is ShowingHouse Bill 2988  received a public hearing this week in the state Senate after being passed out of the House. It’s one of those aspirational programs that come right out of the far left playbook. 

Unger hasn’t made a particularly compelling case for why 16 year olds should register to vote when they can’t vote till 18, but the Democrats LOVE the idea. He got the law changed to 17 in the last couple of years. And you know why. Why not get your compliant student to fill out a voter registration form for the Democrat Party when they’re in thrall of their favorite social studies teacher who’s the socialist Occupy member and unionist? Why not hand out those registration forms right after the MoveOn.commies come to the classroom or the Bus Project paid ‘volunteers” tell your child how wonderful the teachers union and redistribution are? I’ll be they’ll go all Bus Project and give kids voter reg card oregonextra credit for filling out a voter registration form. In class. Under the nose of the teacher. Who belongs to the union. Who gives her dues money to the union. Who gives the money to the Democrats.

Have I missed anything?

Oh, yes, the motor voter folks get their fix. This bill would allow the DMV to give out the Voter Registration form to all 16 year olds getting their licenses. Well, they’ll be handing out the reg forms to illegal aliens again soon enough, so what the heck!

They’ll probably dress it up a little like the Reynolds High School teacher who’s the far left Occupy member and teachers’ unionist who moonlights as–a RAPPER! 

And here’s a good one: Unger’s got Bob Jensen to go along with this idea. Oh, Bob. Jensen is one of two Republicans that the Bus Project stumped for in the last couple of years. They’re the “bipartisan” veneer the Portland Public Schools laughably pointed to in giving the Bus Project the Politicorps gig. We know better. Jensen was given the help from the Bus Project for being a key vote to refer the huge new income and gross receipts taxes, Measures 66 and 67, to Oregon voters. It was a quid pro quo. Looks like they got another favor out of him. He must need  “volunteers” from the Bus Project to help him again in his next campaign. 


Issa: IRS’s Lois Lerner Told to Return To Testify Before Congress

By making her speech today which amounted to testimony, Lerner arguable waived her right to take the 5th.
By making her speech today which amounted to testimony, Lerner arguable waived her right to take the 5th.







Watch House Governmental Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa reveal to Sean Hannity that Lois Lerner will be asked back to answer questions because she basically waived her fifth amendment privilege by giving a statement that was testimony.

Make sure you catch Issa’s comment about former IRS Chief Doug Shulman who has a case of “Obamnesia” saying, “If I had a nickel for every time he couldn’t remember I could pay off the national debt.”

Scott St. Clair: Can’t a Guy Get an Honest Drink in This Town?

drink scottNew Jersey state officials recently completed a sting operation against 29 bars and restaurants uncovering their alleged substitution of cheap liquor for premium brands while continuing to charge premium prices.  From the Asbury Park Press:

“Officials say the establishments allegedly filled premium brand bottles with non- premium brands in an effort to fool customers and increase their profits. The customer paid for the premium brand, but was instead, unbeknownst to the customer, poured the non-premium brand.”

Can’t a guy get an honest drink in this town?drink  4

Getting screwed by watered drinks of underwhelming quantity is nothing new to Garden State imbibers. We’re spending more to get less of a buzz all the time. Atlantic City casino regulars have seen their second-favorite floor attraction – the complimentary gambler’s cocktail – get phased out.

But the switcheroo scandal is out-and-out fraud. Ordering my favorite Lagavulin 16 single-malt or Belvedere vodka and running the risk of getting some swill out of a five-gallon jug is a crime against humanity. But it’s not as if I wouldn’t notice – until maybe the seventh or eighth.

When people pay premium prices for a premium product, they should get what they pay for even if they can’t tell the difference. That’s business ethics 101. Anything else is stealing.

Some would say the sting is a testimonial to the need for government regulation of the unscrupulous private sector. Some would – but I’m not one of some. Instead, I attribute causation of the underlying consumer deception to government regulation of the private sector, specifically New Jersey’s bizarre set of liquor laws that drink 3make Obamacare and the Internal Revenue Code Dick-and-Jane simple by comparison.

Getting a liquor license in Jersey is severely restricted with cities and townships having final say on whether they’ll allow liquor-by-the-drink at all. Here’s how the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control  explains it:

The number of licenses to sell alcohol for consumption on a licensed premises (restaurants and bars) and to sell alcohol for off premise consumption (packaged goods) within a municipality is determined based upon the population. A municipality may issue one consumption license for every 3,000 of its population. As to distribution licenses, which allow the sale of alcohol for off premise consumption, a municipality may issue one license for every 7,500 of its population. A municipality is allowed to ban all sales of alcohol within its borders if it so desires.

Practically speaking,  nobody really knows how the formula works, which makes it more problematic

Licenses are so much in demand that the current prices to buy one from an existing license holder are as high as $225,000. That’s for the license alone – no real estate, going business, equipment, good will or anything else.

In 2006, one license sold for an astounding $1.6 million.drink 2

License restrictions are defended as necessary for public sobriety – other blue laws in some areas mandate the closure of all retail businesses on Sunday – but they are more entrepreneurial  barriers to entry than anything. With barriers, you have fewer in the business, which means fewer competitors and leads to near or actual monopoly.

Without competition, there’s no incentive to improve products or services. Since your customer has no alternative but your cheesy over-priced bar, why should you? And heaven help anyone who wants to increase the number of licenses in a given area because those who have them will come out of the woodwork to oppose it claiming, with straight faces, that competition will hurt their business.

BYOB restaurant owners have been complaining about this for years to no avail. In Jersey, reform comes slowly if at all. So the government that created the problem comes in claiming white-knight status when it polices the inevitable result of limiting options and then sends taxpayers the bill.

drink 1Limiting liquor licenses does nothing but line the pockets of those who have them, stifle job creation and restrict economic growth. If you’re the only game in town, go ahead and switch to the rotgut. What’s the customer going to do – find another bar in a one-bar town?  

Bottoms up, sucker.

Rein in IRS Rally in Portland. Click Here for Best Sign Ever.

Best sign ever.


A band of folks answered the call to come take stand and be counted at the Rein in the IRS Rally Tuesday in Portland. We stood in the rain and protested the IRS’s targeting the political views of taxpayers and organizations. The story is well known. In anticipation of this event–which was called mere hours before (because that’s when I found out about it), the IRS hired a rentacop to quell the madding crowds. 



















Five people out of the 50 or so gathered had never been to a protest. In this way it reminded me of that first Tea Party organized by the father of the Oregon Tea Party, Geoff Ludt, in February of 2009. About 100 people came to the Federal Courthouse and walked to the Willamette to dump tea into the river. A few months later nearly 6000 people turned out for a Tea Party at Pioneer Square.

IRS RentaCop. Glad We Could Create a Job for This Guy