cannabisnews.com: Drug War Shrinking Bill of Rights 





Drug War Shrinking Bill of Rights 
Posted by CN Staff on January 27, 2005 at 15:04:56 PT
By Radley Balko
Source: Fox News Network
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that if you're pulled over by the police for speeding or, say, not wearing your seatbelt, they may bring out drug-sniffing dogs to investigate your car without violating the Fourth Amendment. On the Volokh Conspiracy blog, Orin Kerr observes that Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, indicated that the Fourth Amendment protects not against violations of privacy or invasiveness, but against violation of property rights. Since one can't have property rights for illicit drugs, a search can't violate the Fourth Amendment.
It's a troubling precedent. It's hard to see how any police search would violate any rights under Justice Stevens' ruling, so long as the search turned up something illegal. That sort of undermines what the Fourth Amendment is all about.That case is just the latest in a number of court rulings and pieces of legislation that have been chipping away at the criminal justice rights of substance-abuse suspects. Ours is quickly becoming a two-tiered criminal justice system, one in which there are one set of criminal protections for drug and alcohol defendants, and a broader set of protections for everyone else.Last month in Virginia, pain physician Dr. William Hurwitz was convicted on dozens of counts of drug distribution. Prosecutors and the foreman of the jury that convicted him conceded that Hurwitz didn't knowingly participate in a drug trade, but because the pain medication he prescribed made it to the black market, he was nevertheless found guilty. He faces life in prison. Proving intent  as is required to secure a conviction in nearly every other crime  apparently wasn't necessary.The drug war has been eating at the Bill of Rights since its inception. Asset forfeiture laws, for example, allow law enforcement to seize the assets of suspected drug dealers before they're ever convicted of a crime. Even if the defendant is acquitted or the charges are dropped, the mere presence of an illicit substance in a car or home can mean the loss of the property, on the bizarre, novel legal principle that property can be guilty of a crime.Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, a judge in Utah recently had no choice but to sentence a first-time marijuana dealer to 55 years in prison (he had a pistol strapped to his ankle during the one-time deal, though he never brandished it). Frustrated but hamstrung by drug laws, the judge in the case noted that just hours earlier, he had sentenced a convicted murderer to just 22 years for beating an elderly woman to death with a log. Courts have carved out a "drug war exemption" in the Bill of Rights for multiple search and seizure scenarios, privacy, wiretapping, opening your mail, highway profiling, and posse comitatus  the forbidden use of the U.S. military for domestic policing.The other area where criminal protections are withering in the face of substance-abuse hysteria is in Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated cases.The most notable example is the 1990 case of Michigan vs. Sitz, where the Supreme Court ruled that the problem of drunk driving was so pervasive, the Court could allow "random sobriety checkpoints" in which cops stop motorists without probable cause and give them breath tests, a practice that would otherwise again violate the Fourth Amendment.The Court has since ruled that the urgency of the drunken driving problem gives states the option to legislate away a motorist's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In 2002, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that police officers could forcibly extract blood from anyone suspected of drunk driving. Other courts have ruled that prosecutors aren't obligated to provide defendants with blood or breath test samples for independent testing, even though both could be done relatively easily.State legislatures have pounced on these rulings. The state of Washington just passed two laws remarkable in their disdain for everything our criminal justice system is supposed to represent. The first instructs juries in drunk driving cases to consider the evidence "in a light most favorable to the prosecution," an evidentiary standard that's unheard of anywhere else in criminal law. The second mandates that breath test evidence be admissible, no matter what  even if the defense can prove that the breath test machine was broken, or jiggered toward higher readings.Last year, Pennsylvanian Keith Emerich had his license revoked by state authorities after he revealed to his doctor during an emergency room visit that he sometimes drinks a six-pack of beer per day. His doctor reported him. Emerich wasn't accused or charged with drunk driving. In a bizarre twist on the principle of "presumption of innocence," Emerich must now prove to the state that he doesn't drive after drinking before he can get his license back.More and more states are taking advantage of the Supreme Court's granted exemption to a right to a jury trial for DUI-DWI suspects, particularly in states where judges are elected, not appointed. That, of course, is because elected judges deemed insufficiently harsh on such defendants can have their "leniency" used against them when it comes time for re-election.Though no such bill has yet to be signed into law, several state legislatures have also now considered bills that would mandate ignition interlock devices in every car sold in the state. New Mexico's version of the law would require all drivers to blow into a tube before starting their car, then again every ten minutes while driving. Drivers over the legal limit would not be able to start their cars or, if already on the road, given a window of time to pull over. Onboard computer systems would keep data on each test, which service centers would download once a month or so and send to law enforcement officials for evaluation.The problem, as Thomas Jefferson famously said, is that the natural process of things is for liberty to yield and for government to gain ground. It would take a rare and brave politician to stand up and say that we need to roll back or reconsider our drug laws, or that it's unfair to give accused murderers or rapists more rights than we give DWI defendants. But that's exactly what needs to happen.Radley Balko maintains a Weblog at: http://www.TheAgitator.com/Newshawk: Paul Armentano Source: Fox News Network (US)Author: Radley BalkoPublished: Thursday, January 27, 2005Copyright: Fox News NetworkWebsite: http://www.foxnews.com/Comments: foxnewsonline foxnews.comRelated Articles:Prepare for Life in a Police Statehttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20162.shtmlJustices Uphold Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20157.shtmlCourt OKs Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20156.shtml
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Comment #33 posted by potpal on January 29, 2005 at 09:26:16 PT
the link to nazism vs george1 laws...
http://cannabis.iwarp.com/nazi.htm
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Comment #32 posted by kaptinemo on January 28, 2005 at 18:41:03 PT:
Truer than you know, AB
Immediately after the First World War, the clinicians came up with a euphemism: "Soldiers Disease". They meant opiate addiction caused by their being treated with morphine for wounds. My Grandpa on my Da's side lost a leg in WW1, and the hushed family rumor was he as one of those who suffered through the eventual withdrawal. It explains why my Da grew up so stoic and rarely took anything for pain; he was scared he'd wind up like *his* Da. That's why he was so blunt and honest with us kids about 'dope'.
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Comment #31 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 13:02:21 PT
afterburner
That is so true.
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Comment #30 posted by afterburner on January 28, 2005 at 12:51:11 PT
''Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere''
My condolences on the loss of your relatives to the heroin epidemic. I was shocked a few years ago to discover that my little suburban town had a high school heroin problem. Perhaps, we can learn from those who have experienced these horrors for years in the inner city slums. Jesse Jackson said once, "Children are shooting dope in their veins because parents [and I would add politicians] forgot to shoot hope in their brains."I saw a program recently on CNN about returning soldiers from Iraq who have lost legs in battle and are struggling with the pain, the adjustment to prosthetic limbs and loss of self-esteem. I thought how cruel the government is to ban medical cannabis which could help these brave soldiers cope with their new realities. Instead, the government has traditionally prescribed morphine and other opiates, running the risk of turning these heroes into despised junkies to be abused and reviled by bigots and drug warriors.
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Comment #29 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 09:33:02 PT
Sam
It was a sad story and one that has been a big part of my life. I also have talked to a mother who is a friend of my sister in law whose son at the age of 19 died of a heroin overdose. That was really hard for me to do. She was very angry at the heroin drug dealer and I understood her anger. A person shooting any drug can die from the drug or from an air bubble in the syringe. It's also a way to get Hep or any communicable disease. I don't believe that hard drugs are the same issue as Cannabis. Cannabis helps people feel better and it doesn't kill no matter how it is consumed.
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Comment #28 posted by Sam Adams on January 28, 2005 at 09:26:27 PT
FOM
Wow, sorry to hear about that. I've heard that most OD's are caused by fluctations in the potency of the heroin, another direct result of the prohibtion. It seems pretty simple: when people experience undue misery, they will try to blot out the pain with anything they can. I suspect it's been that way throughout human history. The thing people need to understand now is that if your kid likes heroin or opiates, the police CAN'T HELP YOU. Urine testing all the kids at school CAN'T HELP YOU.  If the kid wants heroin he or she will get it.I recently read that in every American high school classroom (20-30 kids), there is 1 boy who tried to commit suicide, and 2 girls that tried it. There is the problem, right there. You want to stop drug use, fix that problem.The said thing is that many kids are miserable in our culture. Humans have always needed a strong culture to grow up & survive, to channel destructive impluses into something positive. Our culture is empty, video games, selling sex to teens, commercialism, materialism. And the kicker is, after 20 years of extended childhood, you get to serve as a slave to the upper class in some sterile cubicle. Who wouldn't consider suicide?
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Comment #27 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 09:00:47 PT
One More Comment
He found his wife dead from a heroin overdose a few months before he died. I didn't know her but they had been together for many years and it was sad all the way around. 
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 08:40:16 PT
Sam
I lost a relative to a heroin overdose. He just couldn't get clean. He was a Navy Seal in Vietnam. If he had been able to ask for help maybe he wouldn't have been found dead in his semi truck after 3 days. He only had a little heroin in his system. Heroin when injected can kill and that's the problem. It does take a good bit of alcohol to kill a person though.
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Comment #25 posted by Sam Adams on January 28, 2005 at 08:34:15 PT
eductation
Fom - yes, and of course, I haven't heard anyone at all suggest banning alcohol to stop alcoholism in the last 20 years.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 08:18:04 PT
Helping a Person
Sam also drug testing wasn't an issue either. We were told relapses would happen and judging a person wouldn't help. It would only alienate. So judging an addict and threatening an addict wasn't something to do. It was a great drug education course.
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 08:13:20 PT
Sam
What I feel about heroin. Years ago my husband and I took part in a drug education course at Kent State University. This was in the 70s. It was assumed that marijuana was going to be legalized soon so we talked way more about hard drugs. No one ever thought or even mentioned hard drugs being legal. We talked about how to deal with addictive drugs and jail was never the solution. Helping a person who is strung out was what we talked about. I guess that is what is called Harm Reduction. Addiction is a medical problem not a criminal one. That made sense to me.
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Comment #22 posted by Sam Adams on January 28, 2005 at 07:56:09 PT
Good article
This article highlights an interesting point. Look at how the drunk driving problem was attacked - stripping away people's civil rights. Among the constellation of different strategies to reduce the problem, has anyone ever bothered to compare whether removing civil rights actually WORKS?My point is, most people that kill or cause accidents by driving drunk are habitual offenders.  In my state, people with 5, 10, even 15 drunk driving arrests are not unusual. I think it's what happens AFTER the arrest that saves lives. Don't let someone with three offenses ever drive again! Put people that drive on suspended licenses in jail. These things will actually PREVENT crashes and deaths, instead of punishing people that are innocent, and changing our world into a police state.I never cease to be shocked at how brainwashed most Americans are to accept police and government controlling their lives. I was talking to a very liberal friend recently, and I said, "you know, at first I wasn't sure but after researching & talking to all different types of people, I think even heroin must be legalized." My friend was like, whoa, marijuana, OK, but never HEROIN.Then I explained how I arrived at my point of view. It's from seeing ALL the perspectives, instead of just the affluent person off in their suburban castle perspective. For instance, I've talked to women who are recovered heroin addicts who have done jail time. The reality is that most women who are in jail have the exact same profile: dirt-poor family with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents, raped & abused by a family relative or friend at a young age, turned to alcohol & drugs in the early teens, addicted to opiates by mid-to-late teens. I've read studies showing that like 80-90 percent of women in jail have this history.So, the question is not "do you want to legalize heroin"? The question is, do you want to use police & prison guard thugs to treat poor, abused women? Are jails the best cure for some of our toughest social problems? Is locking adult women addicts in cages for years the answer to child abuse? 
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 07:10:14 PT
billos
Amen back at ya! LOL!
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on January 28, 2005 at 07:09:32 PT
Ron
Thank you. I thought html was still a risk factor too. CNews is a wonderful and stable web site with great people. Thanks for making it! Also thanks for caring enough to check for us. That made my night last night!
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Comment #19 posted by kaptinemo on January 28, 2005 at 04:09:56 PT:
Unrelated: DARE money used for booze
This is one of the reasons why I go to Pete Guither's DrugWarrant http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/The full article can be seen here:http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-13/1106118842262920.xml&storylist=louisianaSeems the local LEO's were docked for improperly using DARE funds for having a party for Drug Abuse Resistance Education volunteers that included alcoholic refreshments. I can just see it: (hiccup) "You kiddiesh shouldn't do drugsh. Now buzsh off an' let me fin'sh mah martini. (hiccup)(burp)(barf) "And of course, the inherent hypocrisy of this flies so far over their heads it leaves a contrail...
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Comment #18 posted by billos on January 28, 2005 at 03:21:33 PT
.......FOM.................
Amen, honey....I'm with ya.
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Comment #17 posted by Ron Bennett on January 28, 2005 at 00:58:17 PT
I just noticed comment #5 ... html is trouble
Allowing people post HTML is asking for trouble for both visitors and the server(s) this site is on.I recall way back that Matt had changed something which allowed some HTML tags to be used here by posters - not sure why that later stopped working, but it's a good thing it did...Yes, the ability to include images may be helpful, but privacy, security, load times for visitors could all be issues; remotely hosted embedded images can be used to track visitors - a compremise is to limit image embedding to select sites only.From a technical aspect, allowing HTML is not that difficult, but that's a change Matt would need to make, if desired, since allowing HTML comes with some potential security/privacy risks.Ron
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on January 27, 2005 at 23:09:15 PT
Ron
Thanks for asking. I think goneposthole means like on this page but be able to do it in a comment.http://www.freedomtoexhale.com/dc.htm
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Comment #15 posted by Ron Bennett on January 27, 2005 at 23:04:37 PT
Embedded links ...
Embedded links? Do you mean such as images (img src), iframes, etc? ... or something else?I'm not sure what modifications have since been made to the software in regards to filtering, but it was originally written to *not* allow any embedding, such as images; protects the privacy of visitors and for faster loading.Ron
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on January 27, 2005 at 18:44:48 PT
Kaptinemo and Goneposthole
Kaptin, I'm interested. Thank you.Someone on this site a few weeks ago, I forget who, asked us if we would mind sharing some of the blogs we read. I remember thinking about it and then forgetting to answer.I like http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/ and some you mentioned...but not daily...like CNews. Oh yes...and a secret...I love the ghost story sites like Shadowlands and Fortean Times. *smile* ...Goneposthole...no one has to worry about me getting too smart. I liked that Kissmyasthma blog, but I lost it in my last meltdown and have yet to find it again.
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Comment #13 posted by mayan on January 27, 2005 at 18:20:43 PT
miscelaneous...
It is now clear to all that our mis-leaders are determined to take every last ounce of our freedom. The "Inner Party" has sealed themselves off from any demands of accountability. We are being ruled by criminals!On an unrelated note...US Drops Afghan Opium Spraying Plans:
http://rense.com/general62/opium.htmKeep in mind that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is merely a puppet and the U.S. is really calling the shots over there. Why won't the U.S. government spray the opium? Because the U.S. and the Brits are the ones making money off of it! Whoever supports the drug war is supporting the biggest illicit drug dealers on the planet.THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...9/11 Families and Whistleblowers Demand End to Secrecy, Cover-up -- Ask for Protection:
http://911citizenswatch.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=444&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0Book Review - The New Pearl Harbor:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0501/S00258.htm9/11 Was an Inside Job - A Call to All True Patriots:
http://www.911sharethetruth.com/
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Comment #12 posted by Dark Star on January 27, 2005 at 18:06:12 PT
Stop Propaganda? Hah!
If they have to stop government propaganda, ONDCP will be out of business entirely!
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Comment #11 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on January 27, 2005 at 17:55:13 PT
Stop Government Propaganda legislation proposed
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000778976
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on January 27, 2005 at 17:54:58 PT
billos
I'm 57 and am really glad that I am not just starting my adult life. I can see that at the rate society is being destroyed from within that we will do less and less and stay home and watch DVDs and use the computer and let time go by. I have lost all my enthusiasm for the challenges that this administration has pushed on us.
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Comment #9 posted by billos on January 27, 2005 at 17:47:57 PT
  .......I'm now convinced.......
give some people an education and they become very dangerous. Look at these fools that run our country. I'm glad I'm 52.
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Comment #8 posted by goneposthole on January 27, 2005 at 17:06:12 PT
Kaptinemo
You're use to too much freedom.Your noosphere is busting out; it must be reined in and bit and bridled. It would be for your own good; you know too much, you know. Now cut that out.
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Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on January 27, 2005 at 16:44:00 PT:
For those who didn't know, Mr. Balko has a blog:
http://www.theagitator.com/ I go there almost every day; need I say more?And if anyone were that interested in my reading habits:Talk Left: http://www.talkleft.com/ Last One Speaks: http://lastonespeaks.blogspot.com/Lew Rockwell: http://www.lewrockwell.com/DrugWarRant: http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/I read a lot more, of course, but these...these are like my vitamins. Every day, without fail... 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 27, 2005 at 16:43:50 PT
goneposthole
Thanks for the link. I can embed links on my FTE site but I can't work at all on CNews. It's very complicated and if I tried I know I would break something. Ron is a great programmer and so is Matt. They know how to do things that I just can't. PS: I never had a Harvey Wallbanger when I drank alcohol years ago. I always thought it was a funny name.
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on January 27, 2005 at 16:35:06 PT
link to show how it's done
http://www.htmlgoodies.com/primers/primer_4.htmluse lower case letters for the A HREF /AJust got to the screwdrivers (actually, only one), didn't have any Galiano. I'm a light weight when it comes to drinking alkyhol.I'd rather have cannabis anyday. 
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Comment #4 posted by siege on January 27, 2005 at 16:33:38 PT
Dummy Gov't.
What is next stick your finger on a pin for blood test for drugs in the car. just look at the people that would be walking to work or to the story every one over 40 walk baby walk. Just another way to lose money for the Dummy Gov't. With the blessing of its Republican and Democratic leaders, America is being pulled into a global framework of states that are now "interdependent" as all of the barriers between the nation-states have been torn down.
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Comment #3 posted by Deboche on January 27, 2005 at 16:22:47 PT
what a great new quote
the title of this article has a magical little something
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 27, 2005 at 16:21:43 PT
goneposthole 
You would need to contact Matt about embedding links. He does that stuff. I wish I knew how but I don't or I'd give it a try. PS: Did Harvey bang your head to bad?I couldn't resist! LOL!
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on January 27, 2005 at 16:14:28 PT
a rare and brave politician 
The Honorable Ron Paul is one. The Honorable Robert Byrd is one. We must conform to the rash interpretations of a myopic SC Justice? The individual has no rights, just his property?  Your body no longer belongs to you, it is the State's. That's nice. Socrates assassinated in 399 BC:http://www.mith.demon.co.uk/Christianity.htmA quote by Tommy Jefferson:"If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."http://www.thinkexist.com/english/Author/x/Author_2104_1.htmFom, is it possible to fix the software so embedded links can be used?
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