DEA Arrests Owners of Keene Headshop - Each Facing 23 Years in Prison
In a terrible update to an already awful story, the DEA has arrested the owners of Phat Stuff, the popular local head shop on Main Street that was raided in May of 2014. Panos and Katie Eliopoulos were arrested (allegedly in front of their kids) in February and have been charged with one count of "Conspiracy to Offer Drug Paraphernalia for Sale" and one count of "Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering". You can read the short, three page indictment here.
The paraphernalia sales charge carries up to three years in prison and an unspecified fine and the money laundering charge carries up to twenty years in prison, an up to $500,000 fine, and an additional fine relating to the value of the property involved.
Longtime readers of Free Keene may recall that the raid nearly destroyed their business and left them penniless as the federal gangsters cleaned out their bank account and even stole their truck. Oh, and don't forget the DEA's theft of an entire box-truckload of store merchandise - probably $100,000 in inventory, which they'll likely never get back, even if they're found not guilty. The raid was done with the assistance of Keene police, who were protecting and serving their federal masters, not the people of this community. In an ideal world, the Keene police would have arrested the DEA agents and charged them with armed robbery. You can watch the 17-minute video of the raid, cut down from over four hours of raw footage here.
The indictment was issued on February 11th and the arrests appear to have occurred a week later on February 18th, according to the bail paperwork. Bail conditions for Panos (and presumably Katie, though I haven't seen her bail paperwork) include him submitting to search anytime police want, submit to urine testing, and give up any weapons, among other conditions.
Trial is currently slated for two weeks in federal court in Concord beginning on April 21st, 2015 at 9:30am. The Eliopouloses are represented by attorney Charles Keefe. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
74% of NH House Votes For Cannabis Decriminalization – Up From 53% in 2014
With a solid veto-proof margin, the New Hampshire house of representatives overwhelmingly passed cannabis decriminalization today, 297-67, according to state rep Kyle Tasker. That’s a significant increase over 2014’s 215-92 vote on decrim. 297 votes is 35% higher than last year’s 215. A total of 74.25% of the house’s 400 members voted for the bill and 16.75% voted against. That leaves 9% who did not vote. Of those who voted, over 81% voted in favor of decrim.
If this isn’t a mandate, I don’t know what is. Now the bill moves on to the senate, where it died last time. However, it’s a new senate and a new year. With evidence of cannabis legalization’s success mounting, and now even Washington DC legalizing, politicians in NH are finding a little backbone. Sadly, they are late to the party – the other New England states have decriminalized cannabis, some more recently, but Maine as far back as the 1970s.
Maybe the overwhelming support for decrim in this house vote will transfer to the senate, or maybe not. If it passes the senate, unless governor Maggie Hassan finds her conscience, they’ll have to pass this with a 2/3rds veto-proof margin in order to stop Hassan from striking this much-needed legislation down.
Gilford School Bus Drivers Admit Recording Audio Without Notice, Signs Went Up Tuesday
As reported here at Free Keene yesterday, buses for the Gilford school district have been illegally equipped with video cameras that capture audio. Now, much better, longer video has been posted where drivers admit that the cameras have been present for months and without any posted notice until Tuesday of this week. This is a clear violation of the awful NH “wiretapping” statute. There is a section of the statute exempting school districts, but only if notice is posted. It wasn’t, as the drivers make clear. Though the police in NH have arrested countless average folk and activists for violating the statute, the school board will avoid any consequence – just watch.
Congrats to whatever brave teens who produced this VERY entertaining video. It’s particularly entertaining thanks to the ridiculous third bus driver who gets on her two-way radio to report the dastardly students who are conducting an investigation. Thanks also to Josh Youssef for posting the hilarious video.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or would like to interview an activist, Ian Freeman Blogger, FreeKeene.com
State Rep Commits Cannabis Civil Disobedience in Front of Committee
At a recent, well-attended and lengthy hearing held by the criminal justice committee at the state house regarding studying cannabis legalization, a state representative from Rockingham, Kyle Tasker, put his freedom on the line.
The cop behind him didn't seem to know what to do. After all, he likely wouldn't hesitate to arrest Tasker for possessing cannabis in the streets. However, arresting him in front of the committee would only prove the point of the cannabis freedom activists - that people are arrested all the time for cannabis - something about which the police frequently mislead the legislators.
They like to claim that no one goes to jail for simple cannabis possession in New Hampshire, which is a lie. Even if it were true, people still get arrested and processed all the time, then forced into court and paying fines. It's tyranny, over a plant, and everyone knows it.
While Tasker did admit that the cookies were actually purchased from the kitchen in the state house basement, and it appeared the vaporizer was for nicotine, he wasn't so clear on what was in the tincture bottle, despite questions from the committee. Everyone, except the cop, seemed to be enjoying Tasker's testimony, and multiple committee members took the opportunity to laugh and crack jokes.
Nearly everyone, including the multiple elderly members of the committee seem to be aware of the absurdity of cannabis prohibition, as well as its imminent demise.
I've attended a LOT of these hearings (on medical, decrim, legalization) over the years, and the committee members have become less-and-less hostile, to the point where the committee has become well-educated on the issue. In an exclusive interview with Free Keene, Tasker agreed, "Things have changed a lot since I took office in 2010. Edibles were something snickered about and jokes about brownies were the typical response, with less-enlightened reps bringing up issues like health consequences of smoking unfiltered joints...Before the legal marijuana industry was established no one had ever considered a personal vaporizer, or a drops placed under the tongue. It was not something that was taken seriously by a majority of the committee. Now that we are getting empirical data and the jokes have stopped its much easier to address the policy directly and analyze the pros and cons, the latter of which are few and far between."
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or would like to interview an activist,