DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Shifting Paradigms

"Since the medicinal use of cannabis has not caused and is not causing addiction, the prevention of the use of the drug for medicinal purposes can accomplish no good end whatsoever. How far it may serve to deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value, it is impossible to foresee." – Letter from the American Medical Association to Congress, protesting the Marijuana Tax Act, July 10, 1937
June 12, 2001 (Reuters) The U.S. Supreme Court rules that using thermal imaging to record the amount of heat emanating from a house, a police practice often used to help detect indoor marijuana cultivation, is an unlawful search.

The court's 5-4 ruling was a setback for the U.S. Justice Department, which argued the use of a thermal imager by law enforcement officers to detect the heat emitting from a house is not a search and therefore does not require a warrant.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that condoning the practice "would leave the homeowner at the mercy of advancing technology -- including imaging technology that could discern all human activity in the home."

June 13 The Washington Times, in an article titled "U.S. Military Plans Drug War Buildup," reports: The United States will expand its military presence in South America this fall when a major anti-drug airborne surveillance facility begins operating at the coastal airport of Manta, Ecuador, U.S. officials said.

The buildup will be the first in Latin America since U.S. military bases closed in Panama in 1999 and will intensify American operations in the war against the drug trade centered in Colombia, the world´s largest cocaine producer.

June 14 The Idaho Statesman reports: Boise Mayor Brent Coles and a committee made up mostly of law enforcement officials challenged Idaho city leaders Wednesday to work to stop efforts to legalize marijuana before they become legislative or election issues.

Idaho State Police Deputy Director Glenn Ford pointed to recent successful campaigns in other western states -- Oregon, California, Colorado and Nevada among them -- to legalize at least some element of marijuana consumption or cultivation.

"We know we are the next target," Ford said. "We want to fire the first shot."

June 14 Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn signs Assembly Bill 453 into law, making Nevada the ninth state where patients can use marijuana as medicine. Nevadans with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other illnesses may now grow as many as seven marijuana plants.

June 15 London, UK (AP)- Scotland Yard plans to ease its enforcement of laws against possessing marijuana so officers can focus on arresting crack cocaine dealers and violent criminals, police said Friday.

"We are not turning a blind eye to crime, but we have to prioritize," said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens. "Possession and use of cannabis is not a priority."

Stevens has said that processing an arrest for even the smallest amount of marijuana can take an officer off the streets for as long as six hours. Officials believe department resources could be better used against drug dealers and violent criminals.

June 16 The Washington Post reports: One month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the medical use of marijuana, the American Medical Association is being urged to endorse the illegal drug as last-resort pain relief for seriously ill patients ... at its policy-setting annual meeting in Chicago on Sunday.

The AMA's current policy opposes use of medical marijuana but says there should be more research on the issue. But a report by an AMA council says the group should support the "compassionate use" of marijuana while also urging further research.

June 17 (UK) The Times reports: Braving torrential rain, thousands gathered in a park in London on Saturday to call for the legalization of marijuana. Organizers estimated that 30,000 people attended the Cannabis Freedom Festival in the Brixton area of south London. There were no reports of arrests.

Kevin Nelson can be reached at kcnelson@premier1.net

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