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Posts Tagged ‘drug war’

Driving while Coloradan

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2014

A week ago, I posted about the 70-year-old Colorado man whose car was stopped and searched in Idaho because it had Colorado license plates. But it’s not just Idaho cops who think that a Colorado license plate is sufficient probable cause to stop and search a car.

Apparently, driving while Coloradan can get you stopped and searched in Nevada, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee… and those are just the easily found cases that made the news somewhere. Most are anecdotal, but the Des Moines Register analyzed some state data on highway patrol traffic stops in Iowa:

By far, drivers with license plates hailing from California, Colorado and Illinois received the most warnings and violations over the past five years — more than 30 percent. Almost 12 percent of the warnings and violations were given to motorists with California plates; 11 percent to Colorado plates; and almost 10 percent to Illinois plates.

Drivers with Iowa plates, meanwhile, accounted for about 14 percent of the warnings and citations.

What percentage of cars on the road in Iowa do you suppose have Colorado plates? I’m going to guess that Coloradans are at least ten times as likely (and maybe much more) to be stopped in Iowa as Iowans.

Lawsuits such as the one filed against Idaho are one way to deal with this geographic profiling. But I think some grass-roots action would also be a good idea. Someone (not me) ought to organize a letter-writing campaign targeting state tourism agencies and newspapers in the offending states, encouraging Coloradans to send them letters along these lines:

We’ve been considering a road trip [to/through] [name of state] to visit [cite one or more tourist destinations, including in that state]. But we’re having second thoughts because of reports that police in [name of state] stop and search cars from Colorado. Is anything being done to put a stop to this kind of illegal profiling? The idea of spending two hours on the side of the road while our car is searched just because we’re from Colorado makes a visit to [name of state] very unappealing.

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Don’t visit a hydroponics store in Kansas or Missouri

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2014

For that matter, it’s probably best if you don’t visit a hydroponics store anywhere. And if you brew tea from loose leaves, you may want to switch to those little pouches with tags attached. Otherwise, you could find yourself undergoing the same ordeal as the Harte family of Johnson County, Kansas.

On April 20, 2012, Bob Harte answered an early-morning knock and found an armed SWAT team outside:

It was 7:30 a.m. when he’d heard a knock at the door and pulled himself out of bed to answer it while his wife and two kids slept.  A SWAT team surrounded his home, and a deputy had a battering ram ready to charge through the door had Bob had not opened it.

The deputies pushed Bob to the floor of the entry way of his home and stood over him with rifles screaming, “Where are the children in the home?” Bob told them they were in their rooms and the deputies ran to find them.

The commotion woke his wife Addie Harte who came downstairs to find out what was going on.

“We just kept saying ‘You’re in the wrong house!’ said Addie.

Deputies searched the sofa and then allowed the family of four to sit on it, in front of their picture window, as armed deputies searched the home. For two hours, the family sat on that sofa, afraid and puzzled as to why deputies were in their home.

The Hartes weren’t shown a search warrant until the search was concluded — that’s the law in Kansas. The cops were looking for “narcotics,” but didn’t find anything. The Hartes wanted to know why their house was raided, but no one would tell them.

Kansas has terrible public records laws. It took a year, an attorney, and $25,000 for the Hartes to learn why they were targeted, and the answer is mind-boggling and chilling. Months earlier, Bob Harte and his son went to a hydroponics store in Kansas City, MO, to get some supplies for his son’s science project. Unbeknownst to him, the Missouri Highway Patrol apparently has nothing better to do than monitor hydroponics stores (because they sell equipment often used by pot growers) and record the license numbers and vehicle descriptions of their customers.

Eventually, the information about Harte’s vehicle was conveyed to the Johnson County, KS, sheriff’s office. Deputies were subsequently sent to the Harte home on multiple occasions to rifle through their garbage. That’s where they found Addie Harte’s discarded tea leaves. A field test (notoriously unreliable) identified the tea leaves as marijuana. That led to the raid. The tea leaves were only sent to the crime lab for verification after the raid. Their more accurate test was, of course, negative for marijuana.

The Hartes have filed a federal lawsuit and testified in front of the state legislature trying to get the laws regarding release of police records changed.

“This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be. You shouldn’t have to have $25,000, even $5,000. You shouldn’t have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state,” Addie Harte said.

You shouldn’t have your house raided for such bogus reasons like some sort of police state.

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It’s no longer safe for Coloradans to drive to other states

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2014

From CBS Seattle:

An Idaho state trooper arrested and fully searched a 70-year-old Washington man’s vehicle solely because he had a Colorado license plate – a state where marijuana is legal – a federal “license plate profiling” lawsuit alleges.

Read the whole outrageous story. And if you’re a Coloradan, keep this in mind when planning your next vacation.

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A question for 4/20

Posted by Richard on April 20, 2012

Here’s a cute poster that asks a question appropriate for 4/20:

If only stupid people smoke weed ...

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An unhappy anniversary

Posted by Richard on June 18, 2011

Mark J. Perry remembered the grim historical significance of this day (emphasis in original):

This is a post to recognize the 40th anniversary of the day in 1971 that President Nixon declared that the U.S. government would start waging a "War on Drugs" war on peaceful Americans who chose to use intoxicants not approved of by the U.S. government (HT: Don B.).

Q: Which repressive country puts the most people in jail for violating government laws? 

A. Iran
B. Saudi Arabia
C. Libya
D. Egypt
E. United States of America

Well, it's not even close…………..

Read the whole thing. And read Perry's other recent posts on the subject here, here, and here.

It's widely known that in their youth, each of our last three presidents chose to use intoxicants not approved by the U.S. government. Yet each of them subsequently supported, advocated, and directed a policy of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of non-violent "drug offenders" every year, and even sanctimoniously claimed that it's for their own good.

Would Clinton, Bush, and Obama be better off today if they'd been arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for 3-5 years when they were young, destroying their careers before they got started? Would the country be better off today if they'd been … 

Um … maybe I shouldn't go there. Just weakens my argument.

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Happy Repeal Day

Posted by Richard on December 5, 2008

Today is the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, the repeal of alcohol prohibition. That's certainly an occasion worth toasting!

In today's Wall Street Journal, Ethan Nadelman, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, argues that it's also an occasion we should learn from:

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Read the whole thing. If you agree, donate a few bucks to the Drug Policy Alliance

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LEAP billboard up in Omaha

Posted by Richard on July 28, 2008

Thanks to a generous donor, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has its first billboard up. Check it out — it looks pretty good. Here's the scoop from Tony Ryan of LEAP:

That’s right – LEAP’s first ever billboard – now showing at 108th and I street in Omaha, Nebraska. It is up high, where many can see it, and it shows a new website for us which we can use to measure response and effectiveness.

It will be there three months and then will move around the city to other locations for additional three month periods for at least a year – all thanks to LEAP supporter and donor Melanie Marshall.

I was in Omaha to assist with the unveiling of the billboard via an on-air interview with talk-show host Scott Vorhees of Omaha’s superstation KFAB (1110 AM).

While in Omaha July 17 and 18, I also spoke at three Kiwanis Club meetings, wrote an Op-Ed on the War on Drugs which was published Friday, July 18 in Omaha’s World-Herald, did an interview with the Bellevue Leader weekly and, along with Melanie and her husband, spoke with Omaha’s US Congressman Lee Terry about the Drug War.

Tony is a retired Denver cop and one of the really good guys. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, do it. Meanwhile, how about donating a few bucks to LEAP?

(HT: Chicago Boyz)

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More manufacturing jobs lost

Posted by Richard on April 13, 2008

In the last five years, another American manufacturing industry has quietly been decimated destroyed (see comments), and more well-paying American jobs have been lost. And once again, the Federal government is doing nothing to save these American jobs. In fact, it's helping to drive them abroad. Government bureaucrats insist it's a good thing:

According to the DEA, there were 44 meth lab busts on the local, state and federal level in Colorado last year. In 2003 there were 345 of those types of busts.

Jeffrey Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Field Division, oversees DEA operations in four states including Colorado. He says decreasing the number of labs locally is a major step in the right direction.

"There were hundreds of labs seized in each of my four states every year. Now we do 2 or 3 in a state per year. So that's a great success story."

So, what's happened to America's meth manufacturing jobs? Apparently, 80% of them have been outsourced to Mexico:

Federal agents say as much as 20 percent of the meth found in the country was made here. The rest typically comes from Mexico, and the meth out of Mexico is getting more potent and more dangerous.

"There's still a demand. There's still a demand for meth so the Mexican drug traffickers have filled that demand," Sweetin said.

Mexican meth, made with cheap third-world labor, comes into this country tariff-free. And thanks to NAFTA, it may even be transported on uninspected Mexican trucks.

Shouldn't something be done to keep these skilled manufacturing jobs here in America? What do Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs think of this? Have Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton addressed the growing unemployment problem among America's meth workers or promised to protect their jobs from this unfair foreign competition?

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Call or write your Congresscritter!

Posted by Richard on June 23, 2006

In the next few days, Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) will once again introduce an important amendment to the Science, State, and Justice spending bill. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from federally prosecuting medical marijuana patients and caregivers who are in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana law.

It was a little over a year ago that the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that federal law trumps state medical marijuana law and the 10th Amendment doesn’t mean what it says. At the time, I wrote:

In a nutshell, the Raich (medical marijuana) ruling means that Lopez was an abberation and that Wickard is alive and well. Damn it. It also means we have exactly one Supreme Court justice who can be counted on to stand by the Constitution — Clarence Thomas.

We also have some members of Congress, including good conservatives like Rohrabacher, who still stand by the Constitution. Unfortunately, too many Republicans mouth allegiance to "states’ rights," but run from the concept quickly when that eeeevilll cannabis — reefer madness! — comes up.

And too many Democrats say they’re sympathetic, but just can’t bring themselves to support even the slightest weakening of their beloved federal government (they still believe they’ll wrest control of it from the Rethuglicans soon — hah!).

Last year, Hinchey-Rohrabacher fell 57 votes short. And yet, polls and referenda consistently show that the American people overwhelmingly support state medical marijuana laws. It’s an election year — let’s put the pressure on and get Hinchey-Rohrabacher passed this time.

Please contact your representative. Americans for Safe Access has a very easy-to-use Take Action page. Just scroll to your state to see how its representatives voted last year. Click on your Congresscritter’s name, and it’ll take you to one of two Write Your Rep pages with appropriate suggested wording, based on their vote last year.

Or use the NORML Take Action page. Or the DRCNet Take Action page (use their Tell-A-Friend page to enlist your friends in the effort, too). Or go to the House website, look up your representative, and contact him or her directly.

In fact, calling your congresscritter’s office (in Washington or in your district) is probably the most effective step you can take. Sending a personally-written letter (snail mail) is next. Email is less effective, but better than nothing. Do take a few minutes to personalize the message, though. And try to remain polite, even if your Congresscritter deserves to be given what-for. 🙂

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