Posts tagged as:

illegal drugs

Presumptions of guilt without actual evidence? It squeaked by at the Supreme Court by only one vote, in a case that should be better known [my new Cato post]

December 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 23, 2013

  • Metro-North train crash spurs calls for mandatory crash-prevention devices. Think twice [Steve Chapman]
  • BP sues attorney Mikal Watts [Insurance Journal] Exaggerated Gulf-spill claims as a business ethics issue [Legal NewsLine]
  • Pot-war fan: “Freedom also means the right not to be subjected to a product I consider immoral” [one of several Baltimore Sun letters to the editor in reaction to my piece on marijuana legalization, and Gregory Kline's response]
  • Aaron Powell, The Humble Case for Liberty []
  • Allegation: lawprof borrowed a lot of his expert witness report from Wikipedia [Above the Law]
  • Frivolous “sovereign citizen” lawsuits on rise in southern Jersey [New Jersey Law Journal, earlier]
  • Star of Hitchcock avian thriller had filed legal malpractice action: “Tippi Hedren wins $1.5 million in bird-related law suit” [Telegraph]


Surveillance roundup

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2013

  • “That Thing They Said They’re Not Doing? They’re Totally Doing.” [Daily Show with Jon Stewart] “Exactly What the State Says to Deceive You About Surveillance” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • “Warrantless Cellphone ‘Tower Dumps’ Becoming Go-To Tool For Law Enforcement” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post; David Kravets, Wired; USA Today (local law enforcement using, not just federal)]
  • Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn, but telecoms absent: “U.S. Tech Industry Calls for Surveillance Reform” [Corporate Counsel, EFF, Marvin Ammori/USA Today]
  • New Federalist Society symposium on NSA/FISA surveillance and bulk data collection includes names like Randy Barnett, Jim Harper, Jeremy Rabkin, Stewart Baker, Grover Joseph Rees [Engage, Randy Barnett]
  • Nowadays “law enforcement can feel free to admit their traffic stops are pretextual” Thanks, Drug War! [Popehat] “Sobriety Checkpoints Paved Path to NSA Email Spying” [Wired]
  • FATCA, the intrusive overseas tax enforcement law, isn’t couched in public controversy as a federal data-snooping issue, but it should be [Radley Balko, McClatchy]

I’ve got an op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun urging lawmakers in Annapolis to keep an open mind (as many of them indeed seem to be doing) on the growing movement to end the war on cannabis. One plan proposed by delegate and gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D-Takoma Park) would legalize and tax the plant; others have suggested various degrees of decriminalization. I did not at all care for the reaction of one of my own representatives, Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Middletown), who told a reporter: “It’s my firm belief that marijuana makes you lazy and stupid, and while this may really encourage Delegate Mizeur’s base, my base are the hard-working taxpayers of Maryland who are probably not the ones who are smoking marijuana and being lazy.” Yikes!


“Shannon Renee McNeal was torn from her screaming children by police who were seeking a woman with a similar name — a woman who they should have known had been murdered seven months before.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Radley Balko]

More of the week’s awful-police-happenings coverage: Atlantic City beating and canine attack [Tim Lynch, Cato]; Ames, Ia. police shoot and kill son after dad calls to report he’s taken truck without permission [Des Moines Register]; “Man Dies In Jail Cell After Misdemeanor Pot Offense” [Snohomish County, Wash., severe allergies; Radley Balko again]; New Mexico man’s lawsuit alleges “worst traffic stop ever” [Jalopnik, Popehat, Lowering the Bar and more, Orin Kerr, Michelle Meyer/Faculty Lounge]


Some folks think that by posting so many stories of public agencies doing horrible things, I’m improperly undermining confidence in the government we must all depend on. Every time I try to taper off, however, I seem to run into a story like this. [Eugene Volokh]



Some reactions, and cautious praise for the changes, from Tim Lynch at Cato, Ken at Popehat, and J.D. Tuccille at Reason (and more on lawmakers’ reaction).

“State Seizes Two-Year-Old Child From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Child Dies in Foster Care” [Rockdale, Texas; Ed Krajewski, Reason] On the propensity of some local authorities to seize kids in marijuana cases, see this report last year on one California county.

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August 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2013

  • 7th Circuit cites Rumpelstiltskin; quashes plaintiff’s bid to turn straw to gold [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “One of the most prolific writers and tweeters in the online legal world. A must read.” Thanks Jim D. [Abnormal Use, and his suggestion about ABA best-blawg nominations is worth heeding]
  • “… as if compliance departments actually are associated with law-abiding behavior…” [Ira Stoll]
  • Sex extortion lawyer Mary Roberts won’t have to pay restitution [MySanAntonio, background]
  • Guess who’s the big new lobby fighting marijuana legalization? Medical-pot providers [Politico]
  • “Woman awarded $775,000 after tripping on speed bump at a Vegas casino” [Calgary Herald]
  • Some thoughts on “libertarian populism” [Jesse Walker, Josh Barro/Tim Carney]

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Following a letter from 22 state attorneys general, Urban Outfitters has agreed to stop selling a humorous mug with a “Prescription: Coffee” design. The AGs argued that prescription drug abuse is a very serious matter and not something to be joked about. [via Eugene Volokh]

The humor-impaired AGs participating (is yours on this list?) included those from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as Guam. According to Maggie Thurber at Ohio Watchdog, “the Partnership at went further and categorized [the mugs and related coasters and other trinkets] as ‘prescription drug paraphernalia products.'”

Aside from a few core functions such as defending their states in litigation and issuing legal opinions to guide state agencies, state attorneys general have far too much discretionary authority to butt into whatever controversial areas may suit their taste for popularity and political advancement, even when, as here, there is no evident basis to think that Urban Outfitters had violated any actual law. It seems highly unlikely that the novelty mugs send any particular message that undermines public respect for prescription drug laws, but if for some reason they did, they would be entitled to more protection against AG bullying, not less, since expressive objects that send a symbolic message of disrespect for government policy will often qualify for First Amendment protection.

Congratulations to the 28 AGs who resisted the temptation to join in this busybody intimidation. (cross-posted at Cato at Liberty)


“A pot-smoking city [of Ottawa] worker couldn’t convince a court that his reefer madness was a disability. …[Claude] Lavoie tried to claim his penchant for pot qualified as a disability, which would have obliged the city to accommodate him under provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code.” [Ottawa Sun]


The city of Minneapolis attaches “voluntary conditions” to a permit for a convenience store at a location previously troubled by crime, and among them are prohibitions on the sale of “drug paraphernalia” that many of us would not have recognized as such, including small plastic bags, dice, and steel-wool pads. [Volokh]


The couple say they believe they were raided because of their use of an indoor gardening setup to raise six tomato, melon and squash plants in their basement. “A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to help, but deputies ultimately left after providing a receipt stating, ‘No items taken.'” [Heather Hollingsworth, AP]


“A bill that would allow patients addicted to prescription drugs to sue the doctors who prescribed the medication — and the drug’s makers — was met with stiff opposition Wednesday in a Nevada legislative hearing.” Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), who introduced SB 75, defended the measure: “They know the person can get addicted to the drug so they should pay for the process of them getting off it.” [AP; related effort to use drug-dealer-liability laws] (& White Coat)