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State-Federal cannabis sweep in Colorado illuminates the essential flaws of prohibition

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

The search warrant allowed the agents to seize “everything from pot plants and cash to financial records, safes and computer flash drives”.

cross posted at mLaw

This past week state and federal officials raided more than a dozen Colorado cannabis dispensaries and greenhouses and two homes. The agents, including officers from both the DEA and the IRS, had obtained warrants for 10 individuals connected with the raided properties. The Denver Post obtained a copy of the search warrant that allowed the agents to seize “everything from pot plants and cash to financial records, safes and computer flash drives”. No arrests were made during the sweep that took place over the course of several hours on Thursday.

An attorney for one of the individuals cited in the warrant, Laszlo Bagi the owner of Swiss Medical in Boulder, said that the agents seized $1 million worth of plants from his client’s facility and that the agents left no “instructions saying don’t replant. There was no court order of cease and desist. No explanation,” adding that his client adheres to Colorado’s state laws regarding cannabis sale and cultivation.

Also named in the warrant are Luis Uribe, Carlos Solano, Gerardo Uribe-Christancho, David Furtado, Juan Guardarrama, Carlos Solano-Bocanegro, Jared Bringhurst, Felix Perez, John Frank Esmeral and Joseph Tavares.

At the time of the raids on Thursday, which took place a short six weeks before the historic Colorado law legalizing the recreational use of cannabis by adults will allow the commercial sale of the substance for the first time in the nation, with no additional context, some cannabis advocates cautiously questioned the motives of DEA as reported in articles such as the Huffington Post’s report on the raids titled, “Colorado Medical Marijuana Raids Show Industry Still Risky“.

The Denver Post dug deeper and on Friday reported that the, “Colorado marijuana businesses raided this week by federal agents are being investigated for a possible connection to Colombian drug cartels,” and that the targets of the warrants have been “actively purchasing area dispensaries and grow warehouses over a sustained period of time.”

The Post reports that the raids were based upon allegations of “trafficking marijuana outside of states where it has been legalized, money laundering and providing revenue for criminal enterprises, including gangs and cartels.” One of the subjects of the search warrant, Juan Guardarrama, was recently convicted of racketeering in a case that involved Colombian and Cuban gangs in Miami selling diamonds stolen from gem dealers. During the investigation that resulted in his arrest, Guardarrama reportedly asked under cover agents to help him traffic legally grown Coloradan cannabis in Miami and “take out” a Coloradan business partner.

The state-federal action has been lauded by both supporters and critics of cannabis legalization. Law enforcement officials pointed out to the Post that the agents were doing their job, and Andy Williams, a Denver cannabis dispensary owner and a member of the local Medical Marijuana Industry Group confided, “I want the bad actors gone, quite honestly.”

The entire incident serves also to deftly exemplify the fatal flaws of cannabis prohibition, especially in the new world created by the citizens’ initiatives in both Washington and Colorado and where broad and sustained majorities of American adults approve of ending cannabis prohibition.

What we saw this week and what all parties agreed was the most appropriate course of action was, a daylight police raid with its attendant dangers, pulled off in several locations including at a home in a toney suburban subdivision (a mile from Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning’s home). Where alleged international gang members’ properties and possessions were confiscated, although no arrests were made. Where the confiscated property belongs to individuals who had multiple business locations and, in the case of two of the suspects, had received approval to invest $6 million to build a cannabis grow house in Pueblo County to help boost to economic development. Where the legal product of other cannabis distributors was destroyed by state and federal officials (many distributors rent growing facilities that are shared by other distributors- as was the case in this raid). Where the crazy quilt of local townships’ desires to increase economic growth, local and state regulations covering everything from simple city licensing and state registration requirements to state and federal criminal statutes and as always with the inextinguishable human impulse to “maximize profits” (in a manner of speaking) in this world of commerce can, really, only lead to 26 year-old Columbian gang members buying $1.5 million homes in a suburb near you (should you live in one of the two visionary and courageous states that have legalized consumption of the benign and medically important natural and easy to grow substance, cannabis).

The director of the federal law enforcement program called the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Tom Gorman, told the Post “I have said it before and I’ll say it again — you cannot regulate this illegal industry. You can’t any time you talk about money and profits, and dealing with a customer base and selling product. There are too many loopholes, too many ways to get around it. You just can’t do it.”

Smedley Butler’s formulation interestingly holds true in this “war on drugs” military engagement: “There is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by…conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys…Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.” Read the rest of this entry →

Sabet slays science with propagandists’ sabre

8:25 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

In an opinion piece posted recently on the CNN International news website, a former White House Drug Policy Advisor named Kevin Sabet denounced the nascent but growing movement to end the prohibition of cannabis in the US in a 763 word ‘comment’ that does not include a single statistic about the subject substance : Cannabis. That the writer spends 377 words of the piece presenting alarming statistics about the horrible and horribly addicting drugs heroin, cocaine and tobacco should cause readers to question the motivations of this law enforcement scientist and his use of the misrepresentational mechanism of false equivalency and scare tactics may lead readers to question the honesty of CNN International for presenting this piece of propaganda (even couched as it is as opinion) to its readers.
TurkSabre_c1917
While reading Sabet’s piece we grew more and more furious with every paragraph and with each incidence of an intellectually dishonest apple to oranges example that Sabet presents, we were moved to find out more about this lying flack for the disgusting alliance who seek the continuation of the harmful ‘war on drugs’ that we all know is addicted to cannabis prohibition; drug criminals, militarized law enforcement, pharmaceutical companies and private prison builders. As readers of mLaw are aware, we have zero tolerance for vested players who lie and frighten uninformed or ill-informed citizens to support their goal of perpetuating the insane, discriminatory, harmful, anti-science prohibition of cannabis through lies, distortions and reiterations of discredited scientific studies as well as other more disturbing forms of propaganda including those that rely upon promoting stereotypes and bigotry.

It turns out that this scientist (and Sabet is indeed a scientist – well, he’s not a medical professional, but rather holds a doctorate in the field of “social policy”) was actually an unabashed drug warrior from the wee age of 15, when he stood up to the Orange County school board who chose not to accept federal matching funds for an after school anti-drug program. That action brought Sabet at that young age to national prominence amongst drug warriors, which eventually led to the youth (and when I say youth- I’m talking about a teenager) to work with the National Institute of Drug Abuse in its public relations department. We wonder why Bill Clinton’s (dry doper) NIDA would hire a 19 year old, not yet graduated from college, non-scientist to work on public relations projects?

This serial prohibitionist’s past history of being utilized by the propaganda spreading federal boosters of the notion that criminal enforcement action is the only effective response to drug use in the US includes Sabet’s work for all of the ‘dry doper’ presidents who have occupied the White House over the past 20 years, all of whom (embarrassed or ashamed of their own cannabis use and how it threatened their narcissistic march to be ‘the most powerful man on the planet’) have been proud, swamp-science supporting, let patients live in pain, swarthy American jailing drug war enthusiasts – countering compassion, reason and scientific study with their aggressive pro-prohibition actions.

Throughout the past 20 years, the same time that Sabet has been a paid functionary in the ‘war on drugs’, the medical establishment and popular consciousness have made a dramatic shifts in their perceptions of the natural and curative substance cannabis. While at the same time, federal and state prosecutors have arrested hundreds of thousands of American citizens for cannabis related crimes every year (over 700,000 last year alone), the largest percentage of these arrests being for simple possession of cannabis for personal use.

An awareness of how this anti-drug ex-teenage-zealot has been used for his entire post-adolescent life by propagandists to uphold the drug war and proselytize dross of the type that fills the easily debunked CNN piece can inform us of the tactics used by those who conspire to continue cannabis prohibition. It is also instructive to observe the statements of propagandists like Sabet to identify some of their most often employed tactics. The pro-prohibitionists in DC, including the choomer in chief Barack Obama, know full well that cannabis is curative and minimally harmlful, and they also know they need the support of both soccer-moms and hippy busting cops; and therefore, they must lie. And, when the goal is to counter good sense, compassion, known science and objective reality as it is perceived by the tens of millions of adult Americans based upon their own experiences, propagandists must make appeals to unreasoned fear.

Sabet says legalization of cannabis will increase addiction. But, as a scientist I am sure he must be aware that that statement is not supported by science. A review of the science by the Institute of Medicine reveals;

“Because it is an illegal substance, some people consider any use of marijuana as substance abuse. However, this report uses the medical definition; that is, substance abuse is a maladaptive pattern of repeated substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences. Substance abuse and dependence are both diagnoses of pathological substance use. Dependence is the more serious diagnosis and implies compulsive drug use that is difficult to stop despite significant substance related problems,

and further; Read the rest of this entry →

Musicians applaud Mujica for having the courage to ‘dream on’

12:29 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica

cross posted at mLaw

Honoring the heart of passion of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, members of one of America’s oldest rock bands, Aerosmith, made an unusual personal request to have an audience with the visionary leader when they recently visited Uruguay to perform.

Mujica, who has chosen to draw the line calling to end the destructive war on drugs and for the legalization of cannabis in his nation, is hopeful that a critical mass of Uruguayan popular support for cannabis legalization will help chip away the stone of drug violence and crime profits.

President Mujica met with the band members in the afternoon prior to an evening performance in Montvideo’s Centenario stadium on October 9 spending more than two hours participating in both public and private events, culminating in the president and rock stars contemplating the beyond beautiful Motevidian sunset together.

The band’s singer, Steven Tyler expressed the band’s support and appreciation for Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla who was at one point imprisoned for his views and now is the elected president of his country who gives away his salary to house impoverished families headed by single mothers in Uruguay. “He gives 70 percent of his salary for people’s homes. Here in this small country, Uruguay,” said Tyler, “I think he’s doing it the right way, (at the) grass roots, and we believe in that.”

Many in Uruguay believe that Mujica’s action attempting to permanently seal the Pandora’s Box of the US supported ‘War on Drugs’ by ending cannabis prohibition is a good thing because criminally prohibiting the medicinal, recreational and creative natural substance has proven to be a tragic failure. And, like the band members of Aerosmith, many people around the world see Mujica is a man of peace who has what it takes to break these chains of drug war violence and discompassion, who beacons to reasonable and compassionate citizens of all countries to “walk this way”. Read the rest of this entry →

Will it be modern madness or reefer madness?

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

Half Ounce of Pot Gets Louisiana Man Twenty Years in Prison

Man sentenced to 3 years for cannabis plea

California dispensary owner sentenced to 22 years in federal prison

Marijuana dispensary operator Aaron Sandusky sentenced to 10 years

Hennepin County sheriff: Lax marijuana enforcement is bad

Homeless man with sign: Give Me Weed, a cop approaches

Is cannabis dangerous to American empire?

For the record, for what it’s worth, and while every (generally assumed to be well intentioned, but still demonstrably) ill-informed, under-informed or outright propagandized ‘stake holder’ is chiming in about how to legalize cannabis, or not legalize as the case may be, we here at mLaw think it is part of our civic duty to express our very real concern, founded as it is upon significant anecdotal experience and ceaseless empirical study, regarding what is, to our minds, perhaps the most frightening and destructive (frightening and destructive to average American families, institutions of higher learning and the halls of power in the US) aspect of a typical American cannabis user’s outlook and mindset that, should cannabis be legalized in the US, could weave its way into the fabric of the American psyche.

As the debate churns on in the US about how to move beyond the prohibition of cannabis it is mostly being carried out by;

• ashamed dry-dopers who are as concerned today about burnishing their “legacies” as they were years ago about ensuring that all of the “choom” is consumed by employing the technique of “total absorbsion”,

• interested private parties who have made scads of booty while cannabis has been illegal (from private prison builders to pharmaceutical manufacturers and liquor distillers),

• propagandized daddies and mommies who fear for their toddlers who someday may choose to put a buzz on and consequently find themselves at ‘rock bottom’ (after taking a frightening and uncontrolled death ride on the devil’s own highway) being elected president of the United States (see the horrific life stories of Ronald Reagan, Bill/and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for example), and,

• members of our respected federal, state and local law enforcement establishment (who worked together to arrest more than 800,000 Americans for drug possession in 2011 and 749,825 last year, with 87 percent being cannabis possessors, and during the same time period arrested just over 500,000 Americans for violent crimes – 4.2 percent of all arrests, compared to drug arrests which comprise 12.7 of all arrests in 2012) who just love throwing scary and dangerous college kids into jail, ruining their lives forever with a criminal record, because they look so good in their body armor and mirrored aviator sunglasses.

While any sentient being can see that the debate is hopelessly tilted toward ill-conceived and dangerous support for maintaining federal prohibition by these highly vested parties, we have to remember the deep and ever metastasizing psychological and philosophical toll exacted on our country’s body politic when our citizens choose to use cannabis. Because of this, the editors of mLaw want to go on record to state our belief that:

The use of cannabis by otherwise law abiding, thoughtful, intelligent, productive US citizens is in fact a threat to our current society in general and modern America in particular…

Read the rest of this entry →

Uruguay, the world’s laboratory for cannabis legalization

3:32 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

A diverse coalition of groups and individuals who support ending cannabis prohibition in Uruguay took to the streets of Montevideo on Wednesday using the occasion of Global Marijuana Day to express their support for a quick vote approving legalization in Uruguay’s senate. After being approved in the country’s lower house in August, the senate vote to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults in Uruguay is set to take place later this fall, likely in November.

The bill to legalize cannabis was initially put forward last year by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. Although polling in Uruguay reflects that the measure is not supported by a majority of Uruguayans, and even Mujica himself has spoken about moving forward with cannabis legalization with caution, the bill is expected to be signed into law by the president should it pass out of the senate.

This week in a radio address, Mujica stressed his concern that Uruguay be able to identify and offer treatment to people who suffer from addiction should cannabis be legalized. He added that, in his mind, drug trafficking and the violence associated with it are “worse than addiction.” One of the reasons Mujica proposed legalizing cannabis for use by adults in Uruguay is to remove the profit from the black market sale of the substance, and thereby reduce the violence associated with prohibition.

Groups who support the measure have initiated media campaigns attempting to sway the popular consensus away from cannabis prohibition in Uruguay using television and internet announcements and a poster campaign featuring historical and cultural figures from Uruguay reminding citizens that by “Cultivating freedom, Uruguay grows.”

Obama DEA employs ‘smashing’ new tactic to intimidate cannabis pharmacies

12:46 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

The Drug Enforcement Administration in cooperation with a patchwork of Michigan state law enforcement entities has, over the past three weeks, conducted a series of cannabis dispensary searches in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas that have been described by the press as “smash and grab” raids.

The series of raids, including two just last week, are characterized by groups of federal drug agents, sometimes supported by local or state police, swooping into cannabis pharmacies in unmarked vans and SUVs with no sirens or flashing lights. The federal agents’ flash Michigan state warrants and seize cannabis plants and cash. In a series of raids beginning on July 30, agents did not leave copies of the state warrants at the three cannabis pharmacies that were raided.

No arrests have been made in the series of ‘smash and grab’ raids, and the searches seem to end as abruptly as they begin when cash is confiscated and dispensary employees begin photographing the raiding agents. The Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a ‘raid alert’ after the Ann Arbor pharmacy raid.

In addition to these raids, three cannabis dispensaries in Detroit were raided in the past weeks by the Detroit Police using the same pattern of quick entry and quick exit. In these raids, the Detroit Police were accompanied by Michigan State Police, agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a Detroit city code enforcement official.

Medical cannabis advocates in Michigan are concerned about the new tactics used in these DEA raids, especially in light of the fact that federal agents are serving state-issued warrants. Also of concern is the DEA’s reliance upon state police instead of local police to support the raids. Critics feel the federal agents are choosing to partner with statewide law enforcement entities to preclude local police from participating in the raids in locations, such as Ann Arbor, where there is broad public support for the use of cannabis for medical relief.

The DEA is a federal law enforcement organization within the US Justice Department, an agency under the executive branch. Just last week, a spokesperson for President Obama told the nation that “the president and the administration believe that targeting individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation for federal law enforcement resources.” Read the rest of this entry →

Obama tells the truth, Obama re-tells the lie

6:41 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

Following the punch-a-hippy&sick-person scheme that has worked so well for President Obama, the White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, responding to a reporter’s question, stated on August 21, apparently reading from a prepared text, that the president will not reschedule the substance cannabis for medical or recreational use, even suggesting that Obama will not even consider rescheduling to allow for medical research of the curative and pain management potential of the promising natural medicine. And that’s the truth.

Obama, I believed you, I trusted you, I voted for you.  marijuana, pot, cannabis, medical marijuana, mmj, protest signObama’s spokesperson then segued serpentine-like into the established position of the administration, that “the president and the administration believe that targeting individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation for federal law enforcement resources.” A statement that, on it’s face is difficult to assail as it suggests the Obama team has endeavored to formulate a cogent, mature, reasoned, aware, progressive and public safety conscious program to acknowledge our ill brethren and protect our children. And that’s the lie.

The administration’s continued attacks on the systems of dispensing medical cannabis reveal Obama’s dishonesty and dis-compassion. One has only to scan recent headlines to understand that our leaders are cynically deploying talking points, memes that infer compassion for the sick, as they continue a pogrom of intimidation and aggressive enforcement actions against the very pharmacies that are allowed by state law to provide medicine to “those with serious illnesses and their caregivers.”

Earlier this year, President Obama released his administration’s revamped compassion forward new think war on drugs program (reported here by mLaw). In it’s justification to thwart the onrush of medical progress and quash the nascent small d democratic movement afoot in the US to legalize recreational use of cannabis by adults, the president’s appointees equated cannabis to the drugs heroin and ‘crack’ cocaine. The administration says that it truly believes that there are “addictive” properties to the natural substance cannabis. Because of this, and (of course) for the protection of our children, cannabis has therefore to be dealt with in the same fashion as heroin, cocaine and meth. It’s all about public safety, don’t you know.

Additionally, we as concerned Americans, can’t possibly want criminals to hijack the system of cannabis pharmacies (the administration warns) to traffic cannabis to states that have not yet legalized cannabis for medicinal relief. With this reasoning, the Drug Enforcement Administration, a federal agency under the office of the president, raided the People’s Choice Alternative Medicine pharmacy in Ann Arbor MI on Tuesday August 20. The DEA raided Los Angeles’ oldest cannabis pharmacy on August 8 (cannabis has been legal for medical relief in California for more than ten years). In late July, the DEA raided three cannabis pharmacies in Washington state. All of this follows the May 2013 US Department of Justice coordinated action threatening over 100 cannabis pharmacies in Long Beach, CA and Los Angeles county with up to 40 year jail sentences if the did not close their doors immediately.

Obama’s spokesperson ended the questioning about the future for sick Americans who want to be able to use the medical substance for pain relief by saying that he was, “not really sure what steps are required or what changes could be implemented into the law to have an impact on marijuana research,” adding an attempted joke “this is going to draw me all kinds of traffic on twitter … I’m predicting that now, and maybe I’ll have an update for you later.”

Well, moments before Mr. Earnest stated quite plainly and in apparent earnestness that the administration has concern for “individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers.” One would think that after five years on the job they may have given some consideration to the state of cannabis research in the US and its relationship to the prolonged prohibition of the medically useful substance, you know, in an act of compassion for our sick neighbors.

As it stands today, Obama is happy to continue the cynical self-imposed standoff catch-22 that criminalizes research into the medically beneficial qualities of cannabis; because cannabis is said by politicians and law enforcers to have no medical benefits, researchers cannot procure the drug legally to perform the research that will establish that the politicians and law enforcers are wrong in their assertions. Obama’s continuation of this obvious to all double talk on cannabis research signifies the extent to which the administration desires to help sick Americans.

I live in a country that says it is compassionate and caring for those who are struggling with terminal disease, with debilitating conditions for which there is no cure. I live in a country whose president’s spokesperson replied to a question about our country’s intentional embargo on the medical research of cannabis with a sophomoric joke about twitter retribution.

Obama plays a lot of these semantic games: “no laws were broken,” with respect to the banking criminals, “look forward not back,” with respect to war criminals, “nobody’s listening to your phone calls” with respect to warrantless surveillance of Americans. And most often our courageous White House press corps snicker along with his spokespersons because they are all ‘in on the joke’. Read the rest of this entry →

Uruguay challenges drug warriors with courageous armistice plan; in US, dollars challenge democracy

6:43 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

Cannabis Leaves

Uruguay is setting progressive policies on cannabis.

The Uruguayan government voted to establish a publicly overseen system of growing and distributing legal cannabis after hours of debate in the legislature.

The government plan would allow individuals to grow their own cannabis, form non-profit cooperatives to grow the medicine and recreational substance and allow private companies to grow the plant for sale only directly to the Uruguayan government that would then sell the substance through a network of government run pharmacies.

The measure, which has the mixed support of Uruguayan citizens, was narrowly passed by the Uruguayan House reflecting the country’s leaders courageous attempt to shatter the worldwide paradigm where drug warring nations fund militarized police actions and drug kingpins reap billions.

The measure was supported by a broad coalition of non-profit groups that undertook a nationwide education program to convince Uruguayans that prohibiting cannabis is not worth the crime, death and suffering that have been the historical consequences of the standoff between drug warriors and drug kingpins, and their country had to take a step that challenges the current paradigm at it’s core by eliminating the cannabis black market.

In other news, the medical marijuana industry has begun a lobbying blitz in Washington DC, working, as described by the UPI, “to head off general legalization of marijuana in the United States.” A spokesperson for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws suggested to Politico that the lobby groups are more concerned with profits than patients, stating; “There are people who are benefiting financially and would prefer to see nothing change.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Breaking: Obama Justice Department serves Oregon officials with warrant seeking the identities of the state’s medical cannabis patients

12:32 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at mLaw

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has reported that the US Department of Justice secured a court order demanding that the state agency in Oregon that oversees the provision of medical cannabis to Oregonian patients who are suffering from serious, and in some cases, life threatening diseases to turn over records that personally identify patients, care givers and suppliers of the medicine.

The search warrant was filed in November of 2012 and requires the Oregon Medical Marijuana Project to turn over the names, addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers of “patients, growers and care givers in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program database files.”

The state officials who register patients and suppliers were ordered by the US Department of Justice to not disclose the existence or contents of the search warrant. The federal demand for patient records was discovered in public court filings.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program was concerned to ensure that Oregon patients understand that the agency’s patient records are stored in a secure location and cannot be accessed without a written request from a patient, in the same fashion that other sick American’s medical records are protected. The agency’s spokesperson said that while the privacy of the state’s medical cannabis patients is of paramount importance, the agency was compelled by the federal government to turn over the otherwise safeguarded patient identifying records.

The federal investigator who sought the demand for the patient’s records from the courts said in his request for the warrant; “I am familiar with narcotics trafficker’s tactics in using the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to shield their activities…(and I have) cause to believe that the records from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program will contain evidence of…conspiracy to commit marijuana and trafficking offenses.”

Patients who suffer from debilitating, chronic and terminal diseases have been able to receive prescriptions for medical cannabis from doctors in Oregon since 1998. During that period of nearly 15 years; during the final 2 years of the Bill Clinton presidency and over the 8 year course of the George W. Bush presidency, there are no previous warrants known to have been served upon the Oregon Medical Marijuana Project for patient’s private medical records by the federal government. Read the rest of this entry →