Drug War Briefs: Another Florida Vote Scam

June 29- The Ottowa Citizen reports: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether the federal government can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana on the advice of a doctor.

The case involves the Bush administration's appeal of a case it lost last year involving two California women who say marijuana is the only drug that eases their chronic pain.

June 30- The Oakland Tribune reports: Local support for recreational pot smoking will be tested in November under a largely symbolic ballot measure.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters late Monday certified the 20,000 signatures required to get the Oakland Cannabis Initiative on the ballot, said City Clerk Ceda Floyd.

The initiative directs local police and prosecutors to turn a blind eye to recreational use of marijuana by adults at least 21 years old, giving it the lowest priority for enforcement that police already give to medical cannabis users.

Both Seattle and Mendocino County have passed measures requiring law enforcement to give a low priority to adult marijuana use.

July 1- The Charleston Gazette reports: In a decision with national implications, a federal judge in Charleston ruled Wednesday that a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that gutted sentencing rules in Washington state also applies to federal sentencing guidelines used here and across the country.

Before an unusually crowded courtroom filled with lawyers and probation officers, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin reduced the sentence of a St. Albans man who conspired to make methamphetamine from 20 years to one year.

Goodwin is only the second federal judge in the United States to rule that the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington applies to the federal system.

In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a judge cannot add time to a convict's sentence based upon facts not considered by a jury or admitted to by the defendant.

July 2- Miami Herald reports: More than 2,100 Florida voters – many of them black Democrats – could be wrongly barred from voting in November because Tallahassee elections officials included them on a list of felons potentially ineligible to vote, a Herald investigation has found.

A Florida Division of Elections database lists more than 47,000 people the department said may be ineligible to vote because of felony records. The state is directing local election offices to check the list and scrub felons from voter rolls.

But a Herald review shows that at least 2,119 of those names – including 547 in South Florida – shouldn't be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state's clemency process.

That's a potentially jarring flaw, critics say, in a state that turned the 2000 presidential election to Gov. Jeb Bush's brother George on the narrowest of margins – 537 votes.

Florida – one of just six states that don't allow felons to vote – has come under intense criticism over its botched attempts to purge felons since the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election, when myriad problems prompted many elections officials to ignore the purge altogether.

The new list is causing its own problems, raising more questions about the fairness and accuracy of the state's efforts to purge the voter rolls of ineligible voters.

July 3- South Carolina's Sun News reports: South Carolina's attorney general said Friday that it was "highly inappropriate" for police to draw guns during a drug sweep at a Charleston-area high school last year but that the action did not warrant charges. "It was clear that there was no criminal intent, no evidence of a crime having been committed by the police officers or the school personnel," Attorney General Henry McMaster told The Associated Press. Still, McMaster was highly critical of the way Goose Creek police conducted the Nov. 5 raid at Stratford High School. Surveillance video showed officers with guns drawn ordering 100 students to the floor as a barking drug dog sniffed them for drugs.

No drugs were found, and no arrests were made. "The tactics were good tactics for a crack house, a drug den or a methamphetamine lab, but highly inappropriate tactics for a schoolhouse," the attorney general said. "Any kind of loud bang, noise, slamming door or dropped book or some other unforeseen thing could have resulted in someone firing a pistol."

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