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.: Drugs and Crime

Welcome to where we hope to serve up the latest sceptical slant on the 'Drugs War' lunacy.



"It's nice to know we caught one coming through before it made it to its destination,"
Feburary 21st 2008

NEW CARROLLTON , Md. -- A minor car accident turns into a huge pot bust in New Carrollton.

A 72-year-old man apparently bumped another car in a convenience store parking lot. Nobody was hurt, but police found Rodell Alton Cole was driving on a suspended license.

Police ordered him to empty his car. He removed one bag and an officer removed another.

"When the officer removed the large bag, and wrapped his arms around it to lay it on the ground, not only could he smell it but he could feel what he believed to be dope of some kind," says New Carrollton Police Chief David Rice.

The bags contained 156.2 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $1,3790,504, according to police. A photo of the drugs indicated a slightly smaller quantity of drugs.

Police believe Cole, 72, of Manhattan was making a drug run from New York .

"It's nice to know we caught one coming through before it made it to its destination," Rice says.


Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Rules Passengers Can Challenge Police Stops
June 23rd 2007

In a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court held Monday that passengers in a car stopped by police have the same right to challenge the constitutionality of that stop as the driver. The court held that when police stop a vehicle, the passengers are "seized" and have the right to challenge the legality of that seizure in court.

The ruling came in the case of California resident Bruce Edward Brendlin, who was arrested on parole violation and drug charges after the car in which he was riding was pulled over for what turned out to be bogus reasons by police. Once police had stopped the vehicle, they ordered Brendlin out of the car, searched him, the driver, and the vehicle, and found a syringe cap, a small amount of marijuana, and ingredients used to home cook methamphetamine.

While the driver of the vehicle did not challenge the constitutionality of the traffic stop, Brendlin did. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that the traffic stop amounted to "an unlawful seizure of his person."

A California appeals court agreed, but the California Supreme Court overturned the appeals court decision. Instead, the California high court agreed with the state that even though police "had no adequate justification" to stop the vehicle in which Brendlin was riding, only the driver -- not any passengers -- had been "seized." Passengers in a vehicle stopped by police "would feel free to depart or otherwise to conduct his or her affairs as though the police were not present," the court reasoned.

But the US Supreme Court begged to differ. Any "reasonable passenger" would not feel free to simply leave the scene of a traffic stop, wrote Justice David Souter in the opinion in Brendlin v. California . "A traffic stop necessarily curtails the travel a passenger has chosen just as much as it halts the driver," Souder wrote. "Brendlin was seized from the moment [the driver's] car came to a halt on the side of the road, and it was error to deny his suppression motion on the ground that seizure occurred only at the formal arrest."

To find in favor of California's position that passengers are not "seized" during a traffic stop "would invite police officers to stop cars with passengers regardless of probable cause or reasonable suspicion of anything illegal," Souter wrote. "The fact that evidence uncovered as a result of an arbitrary traffic stop would still be admissible against any passengers would be a powerful incentive to run the kind of 'roving patrols' that would still violate the driver's Fourth Amendment right."


Snapshots of the Drug War
Stop The Drug War
May 13th 2007

Day after day, week after week, year after year, the war on drugs in the US is filling court dockets across the land. This week, we visit three different jurisdictions to get a snapshot of the role of the drug war down at the local courthouse.

In April, district court judges in Grayson County, Texas, about an hour north of Dallas, sentenced 95 people on felony charges . Of the 95 cases, the most serious charges in 16 were for simple methamphetamine possession, making that charge by far the most common of any before the court. Most people convicted of meth possession were given probation. One person was charged with enhanced meth possession and sentenced to 14 years, while two were charged with possession with intent to distribute. One got 20 years, the other got 10 years probation.

Seven people were sentenced for simple cocaine possession, with sentences ranging from probation to a month in jail to 10 years in prison. One person was sentenced for enhanced cocaine possession and got 6 years, while one other was sentenced for possession with intent to distribute and got 15 years. Four people were sentenced for possession of more than four ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana; two got probation, one got one year, and one got two years. One person was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana.

Probation violators made up a sizeable contingent, with 13 being sentenced in April. Drug offenders accounted for nine of the violators, with meth, cocaine, and marijuana each accounting for three violators. Every drug-related probation violator was sent to prison, as were all other probation violators.

The rest of the cases where sentences were handed out were your typical array of assaults, aggravated and otherwise, burglaries, DWIs, frauds, robberies, and sexual assaults. In only two cases, aggravated sexual assaults on a child, were the sentences as long as the 20-year meth distribution sentence mentioned above.

All in all, persons charged under the drug laws accounted for 41 of the 95 cases adjudicated in Grayson County last month. That's more than 43% of the court's business being taken up with the drug war.

Meanwhile, down in the Pensacola, Florida, area, Tuesday was a typical day for felony arrests in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties . In Escambia County, there were five arrests for probation violation (original offense unspecified), four arrests for narcotics violations, three for aggravated assault, two for aggravated child abuse, and one for introducing contraband into a jail. All in all, 29 people were arrested on felony charges Tuesday, with only six directly linked to drug prohibition.

In neighboring Santa Rosa County, there were a total of nine felony arrests Tuesday. One was for drug possession, one for possession with intent to distribute. Three were for unspecified probation violations. Throw in an aggravated assault, a failure to appear, a DWI, and "throwing/shooting deadly missiles," and there's your daily docket.

If the drug war seems mellow in the Florida Panhandle, that's definitely not the case in Licking County, Ohio. Last Thursday, five people had bond hearings in Licking County Municipal Court in Newark . All five were on drug charges, and every case seems to be an example of over-charging. Three people were charged with drug trafficking offenses for buying drugs. As the local paper noted in the case of a woman charged with crack cocaine trafficking: " On April 11, she allegedly was observed by Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force buying less than one gram of crack cocaine, according to court reports."

One woman was charged with aggravated drug possession for having a methadone tablet without a prescription. But most bizarre was the charge facing a Newark woman. She was charged with "permitting drug abuse, a fifth-degree felony." As the local paper noted: "Between March 29 and 30, [she] allegedly allowed an associate to buy about seven grams of methamphetamine on two occasions. Both alleged purchases were made in the vicinity of a Newark City school, according to court reports."

In Licking County, Ohio, the drug war accounted for all the court's business one day last week. In Grayson County, Texas, the drug war accounted for nearly half of the court's business last month. In the Florida Panhandle, the proportion was much lower. But all across the country, drug prohibition is taking up the time of police, prosecutors, judges, and prison guards. But then again, that's their choice because policing and prosecuting drug offenses is a matter of deliberate policy.



Drugs plan pledged to help addicts break cycle of crime
April 16th 2007

Every police division in Glasgow will have access to an arrest-and-referral scheme for drug addicts and alcoholics if Labour is re-elected to run the city council, the party has pledged. The programme would offer immediate treatment to addicts and includes home visits and counselling in an effort to break the cycle between crime and addiction. It is reckoned that around 70% of all cases handled by Scottish courts are drug related, with addiction inextricably linked to house-breaking, shoplifting and prostitution. With the local government election race now gathering pace, council leader Steven Purcell has also promised an extra 20 residential rehabilitation beds in the city by early-2008 if he continues in the post after May 3. It follows pledges by Mr Purcell to target social needs in the city and sits well with his mantra of allowing every Glasgow citizen to "share in the city's success", Full Cycle....

'charges of tax evasion and money laundering against Ed Rosenthal dismissed'
The San Francisco Chronicle
March 15th 2007

We all knew Ed Rosenthal was being vindictively prosecuted, but it's nice to a hear a federal judge say it. From The San Francisco Chronicle :
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco dismissed charges of tax evasion and money laundering against Ed Rosenthal, 62, an author and activist who has been dubbed the "Guru of Ganja."

The'charges of tax evasion and money laundering against Ed Rosenthal dismissed' judge said he based his decision in part on the comments by prosecutor George Bevan during a hearing on the case. Bevan, according to transcripts, explained the decision to re-file charges, saying, "The purpose is this: Mr. Rosenthal, after the verdict, took to the microphone and said, 'I didn't get a fair trial.' ... So I'm saying, this time around, he wants the financial side reflected, fine, let's air this thing out. Let's have the whole conduct before the jury: Tax, money laundering, marijuana."

It's delightful to see the smug George Bevan held to account for his maliciousness, but frankly this only scratches the surface. Many have surmised that the targeting of Ed Rosenthal has always had everything to do with his notoriety as a cannabis cultivation expert. Considering what Rosenthal has been put through over the past several years, today's vindictive prosecution finding is long overdue.
He was first arrested after a federal raid in February 2002 at a West Oakland warehouse where Rosenthal was growing marijuana for what he said was medical use, with the support of Alameda County and Oakland officials. At trial in 2003, Breyer refused to let jurors learn about the intended medical use of the plants and excluded evidence about Proposition 215, California's 1996 medical marijuana initiative.

Rosenthal was convicted of violating federal drug laws, but seven of the 12 jurors said afterward that their verdict would have been different if they had been allowed to consider evidence about the medical use of the marijuana and Rosenthal's status as an agent in the Oakland program.

Breyer let Rosenthal off with a one-day sentence, humiliating federal prosecutors and sealing Ed's fate as a perpetual target.

The details of this ongoing legal saga are too numerous to list here, but the great irony of it all is worth fleshing out: after lying to the jury in order to convict him and being publicly humiliated when those same jurors turned against them, federal prosecutors responded to Rosenthal's appeal by piling on more charges in an attempt to punish him for challenging them. Today's vindictive prosecution finding not only exposes their malfeasance but also publicly reveals this tasty fact:
Breyer did not throw out the drug charges, but noted that "the government agreed at oral argument" that it will not seek more than the one-day sentence on those counts.

That's right, American taxpayers. Behold the glorious retribution of the principled and incorruptible federal prosecutors who've exhausted untold sums and incalculable man hours to protect you from your medicine. Amidst Iraq, Katrina, Medicare, etc. the federal government was trying to save you from Ed Rosenthal by putting him in jail for one goddamn day. And they're still working on it, knowing as they have all along, that this is the best they can hope for.

There can be no redemption for the spiteful, treacherous cretins who label medical providers as drug dealers and seek to deceive Californian jurors about California's laws in order to imprison Californians. There can be no redemption for them, for they are the real criminals and the story of their shameful vendetta becomes more obscene with each attempt to rewrite it.

Still, the question remains: when is it not vindictive prosecution to launch a political war on medical providers as they carry out the will of the people?


Police on danger drug lab alert
March 13th 2007

Police have recovered cannabis worth £2.6m from illegal factories in the area around Sheffield city centre in the past year – and there is now concern the gangs cultivating the plants could switch to producing a highly dangerous but more profitable drug instead.
The scale of cannabis prod-uction in this country is illustrated by the results of police raids in an area that covers only communities dir-ectly around the city centre.
Investigators accept there will be other factories they have not yet discovered, and even more in the wider area of the city suburbs and around South Yorkshire.
With a catalogue of successful operations against cannabis factories in Sheffield, senior officers have been able to establish that many are operated by criminal gangs from outside this area. Some Vietnamese criminals are orchestrating the production, using immigrants brought in specifically for the task.
The cannabis plants are grown under artificial light with equipment normally used for legitimate agricultural production.Evidence has emerged elsewhere in the country that criminal gangs operating similar factories have been trying to switch them over to making meth amphetamine, a manufactured drug which is produced using readily available chemicals, Full Alert....

Abuse of legal drugs worse than heroin and ice
March 12th 2007

Overdosing on prescription or over-the-counter drugs is twice as common as overdosing on illicit drugs, new Melbourne ambulance figures show. With heroin abuse declining dramatically after a glut at the turn of the century, the city's paramedics have attended a far greater proportion of legal-drug overdoses — 6150 in the 12 months to February last year.
Over the same period, data from the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre show there were 3011 ambulance calls for illicit drug overdoses, comprising 1369 for heroin and 1642 for all others, including ice and ecstasy.
"The recent media hysteria around methamphetamines and ice is unfortunate in one way because it detracts from the true scope of the problem," Turning Point research fellow Stefan Cvetkovski said. "Illicit drugs obviously attract more attention, but we need to get some perspective on other kinds of overdose and substance dependence."
Sedatives such as Valium, Mogadon and Rohypnol were the most abused category of legal drugs, followed by analgesics such as Nurofen and Panadeine Forte, Full Abuse....

'heroin, cannabis and amphetamines'
Lee Peace

Police have raided a series of suspected drugs dens across the Dearne Valley during a robust operation targeting known criminals.
More than £6,000 worth of illegal drugs were seized during raids across houses in the Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster areas.
The three-day operation started last Wednesday morning when officers executed warrants at six properties in Thurnscoe and elsewhere in the Barnsley area.
They found nearly £3,000 worth of heroin, cannabis and amphetamines while three people were arrested and others were given cautions.
On Thursday more than £2,500 worth of cannabis and what was suspected to be heroin were recovered during several raids in Swinton, West Melton and Wath. Six people were arrested and questioned.
On the final day police raided five suspected drugs dens in Mexborough where they recovered £980 worth of heroin, cannabis, diazepam and methadone. Six people were arrested.
The operation, which pulled in resources from all three police districts, also targeted other crimes.
A further 29 people were arrested for a range of crimes from burglary and assault to non payment of fines and failing to attend court, Full Haul....

California's 1906 Pharmacy and Poison Act
CA 1906 Pharmacy and Poison Act

"State's war on drugs a 100-year-old bust
Rate of addiction has doubled since crackdown on use"

Dale Gieringer March 9th 2007
San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday marks the centennial of a fateful but forgotten watershed in
state history: the start of California's war on drugs.

On March 6, 1907, Gov. James Gillett signed amendments to the Pharmacy
and Poison Act making it a crime to sell opiates or cocaine in the state
without a prescription. The act made California a national leader in the
war on drugs seven years before Congress enacted national drug
prohibition with the Harrison Act.

Many Americans don't know there was a time when people could freely buy
any drug they wanted, including opium, cocaine, cannabis and other
so-called narcotics. For most of the nation's history, there was no such
thing as an illegal drug. That began to change after the turn of the
20th century, when an alliance of Progressive Era bureaucrats and moral
crusaders began to push for prohibition of narcotics and alcohol.

California's law was engineered by the state Board of Pharmacy, a
national pioneer in drug enforcement whose exploits have been largely
lost to history. The board was established in 1891 to regulate
pharmacies and the sale of poisons. The 1891 law required that narcotics
carry warning labels and that their sales be recorded in a register, but
it did not restrict purchases.

However, a rising national tide for pure food and drug legislation
prompted the board to propose stronger measures to the Legislature. In
1907, the law was quietly amended without any press coverage or public
debate -- or any discussion of possible adverse effects. As soon as the
law took effect, the board began a high-profile enforcement campaign,
dispatching its agents from city to city, investigating and busting
offending pharmacists, raiding opium dens, and publicizing their arrests
in the newspapers.

The campaign proved to be the opening battle in a 100-year war that
still rages with no signs of ultimate victory.

California's anti-drug efforts go even further back. In 1875, San
Francisco passed the nation's first anti-drug law, the Opium Den
Ordinance, aimed specifically at Chinese opium smoking. Passed at the
height of anti-Chinese hysteria, the law was the legacy of the city's
shortest serving mayor, Dr. George Hewston, who was in office for a
month after the sudden death of Mayor James Otis.

Although the dens had been around for years, Hewston decried the
increase in dens "frequented by white males and females of various
ages," and called on the supervisors to suppress practices "which are
against good morals and contrary to public order." The ordinance did not
prohibit sale or private use of opium, but banned dens for public
smoking. Conscious that the city remained a lucrative center of the
opium trade, the supervisors went on to impose a license fee on opium
dealers, which the Chinese adeptly evaded.

For years, the dens continued to thrive underground, a lucrative
industry of vice and a source of bribery and corruption, like
prostitution and gambling. The Chinese were typically left alone, but
dens that catered to whites were considered fair game for law

Other cities began to ban the dens, and in 1881 the Legislature enacted
a statewide ban. Nonetheless, the dens persisted, as did anti-Chinese
sentiment, and stricter measures were proposed. Among them was an
opium-prohibition bill by state Sen. George Perry of San Francisco, that
managed to pass the 1885 Legislature but was vetoed.

The Perry bill would have banned sale of the drug except with a doctor's
prescription. Opponents charged it was secretly aimed at extracting a
bribe from the opium dealers to stop it -- charges that gained momentum
when the bill was obligingly vetoed by Gov. George Stoneman, a crony of
Perry's. The next session, another opium-prohibition bill was withdrawn
amid renewed charges of bribery. The Legislature finally washed its
hands of the matter by passing a resolution calling on Congress to act,
but there was little interest in Washington.

San Francisco enacted a pioneering anti-narcotics law of its own in
1889. The move came in response to a petition from the San Francisco
Medical Society, which, lamenting the ruination of the city's young men
and women by Chinese opium, called for sales to be restricted to
pharmacies and used for medical purposes only.

Meanwhile, the superintendent of the local House of Corrections reported
a disturbing influx of inmates who were addicted to the newly
popularized hypodermic use of morphine and cocaine. The supervisors
responded with one of the nation's first comprehensive anti-narcotics
laws, the Morphine/Cocaine Ordinance.

The ordinance, in effect a prototype of the 1907 law, banned the sale of
opium, morphine and cocaine except by pharmacies on a doctor's
prescription. Ironically for a city destined to become the mecca of the
1960s drug culture, the ordinance specifically forbade recreational use,
disallowing prescriptions for the purpose of satisfying "curiosity or to
experience any of the sensations produced thereby."

The ordinance proved unsuccessful. It faced significant opposition from
the city's druggists, who objected to the hardship of requiring
suffering patients to get a doctor's prescription. An initial flurry of
arrests drove the drug fiends to Oakland, which in turn passed its own

However, enforcement efforts soon lagged, as police were reluctant to
hassle otherwise peaceable pharmacists. By 1893, The Chronicle declared
the ordinance a "dead letter."

California's war on drugs began in earnest with the 1907 amendments. The
Board of Pharmacy launched an aggressive campaign and pioneered the
modern tactics of drug enforcement. The board hired undercover agents
who posed as suffering patients, wheedling drugs from unsuspecting
pharmacists, then arresting them.

The board swept down on the Chinatown dens, busting down doors and
arresting hundreds. It strategically expanded its powers through new
legislation. In a crucial move, possession was outlawed in 1909. This
set the stage for the criminalization of users, today the largest single
class of criminals in California.

The board also moved to ban possession of opium pipes. It then garnered
headlines by staging gigantic public bonfires of confiscated
paraphernalia and drugs in the heart of Chinatown.

The raids broke the back of the opium-smoking culture, but the addicts
moved on to morphine and heroin. The board proceeded to launch a
pre-emptive attack on "Indian hemp" or cannabis in 1913.

At the time, cannabis was virtually unheard of in California.
Nonetheless, the board warned of an influx of cannabis-using "Hindoos"
(actually Sikhs) from India, and prevailed on the Legislature to ban the
drug lest the habit spread to whites. Ironically, only after being
outlawed did marijuana become popular, eventually being used by millions
of Californians.

To a public unaccustomed to drug enforcement, the board's conduct
initially stirred consternation. The public "has been disgusted with the
sending of spies and stool-pigeons to gather evidence," the Santa Cruz
News said in an editorial. Board inspectors were accused of brutal
beatings and violence of a kind unknown in pre-prohibition days.

Inevitably, corruption also ensued. The board's chief inspector,
Frederick Sutherland, was fired amid allegations of bribery after he
married a drug-dealing widow.

In subsequent years, attitudes hardened. As black market dealers moved
in, drugs were increasingly viewed as a criminal problem. At first,
penalties were relatively mild: Sale was classified as only a
misdemeanor. Later, possession became punishable by up to six years in
prison. Originally, the board had envisioned that drug fiends would be
treated in asylums rather than sent to jail. However, funding for
asylums was repeatedly vetoed, sending addicts to prison.

As the screws tightened, the problem got worse. Federal and state laws
forced prices out of sight, pushing addicts into crime. By 1919, the Los
Angeles Times reported a "saturnalia of violent crime" caused by drug
fiends desperate to get narcotics. Stories of drug crime and violence,
rarely seen before prohibition, became a staple item in the press.

In the end, the drug laws became a giant crime-creation program.

Before 1907, the state's drug crime involved a few hundred opium den
misdemeanors. Today, the state records 400,000 drug arrests per year,
250,000 of them felonies. Drug felons -- nonexistent in 1906 -- now
account for 36,000 prisoners, 20 percent of the state's prison
population. Drug gangs plague our cities, thousands of innocent people
are victimized by prohibition-related theft and violence, and the rough
stuff has escalated into outright war in Afghanistan, Colombia and

Today's addiction rate is more than twice what existed during the free
market a century ago -- only about one-half percent.

After 100 years, it is hard to escape the conclusion that drug
prohibition has failed. In recent years, Californians have begun to show
second thoughts, approving initiatives to re-legalize medical cannabis
and to send drug users for treatment rather than to prison. As the state
with the longest historical experience with drug laws, it is fitting
that California should be exploring new directions out of its 100-year
war on drugs.

Dale Gieringer is California director of NORML. Contact us at

Six dogs were used in checking lockers
March 8th 2007

Bloomington: A small amount of marijuana was found in a locker Wednesday during a routine check at Bloomington High School.
The school was on temporary lockdown Wednesday morning as part of a routine drug check in cooperation with Bloomington Police Department. Students remain in their classrooms when the locker search is taking place.
Six dogs were used in checking lockers, said Bloomington Principal Cindy Helmers. “They did a wonderful job,” she said of the police and dogs.
Bloomington police spokesman Duane Moss confirmed the school requested assistance of the canine unit for a sweep through the school.
No arrests were made as a result of the sweep. The student in possession of the marijuana was issued a city ordinance violence ticket which usually requires paying a fine, he said, Full Stink....

Homeowners have a right to know..
March 8th 2007

Hamilton: Homeowners have a right to know whether their house has ever been used as a marijuana grow op and the province is looking at ways to make that happen, Attorney General Michael Bryant said yesterday.
Ontario has focused on shutting down active grow operations, he said, but is now looking at how to single out homes or apartments that have a history as grow ops. The province is looking at ways to impose renovation standards on homes used as grow ops, as well as possibly creating a registry so homeowners have all the information before they buy, Bryant said before attending a cabinet meeting in Hamilton, Full Dissclosure....

.: Crime & Violence: