Welcome to Pittsburgh NORML
Working to Reform Marijuana Laws in Western Pennsylvania
May 18, 2011 -
ANYBODY who intends to be active in the Medical Cannabis activism in today's world has GOT to read this! It is a MUST to understand exactly what we have to UNDO! Check Out the website here
The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States
by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School
A Speech to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference
Links to Related Documents
This speech is derived from The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge: An Inquiry into the Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition by Professor Richard J. Bonnie & Professor Charles H. Whitebread, II
In this speech, Professor Whitebread refers to the following documents which are online in this library, either in whole or in part.
The Hearings of the Marihuana Tax Act and related documents.
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.
The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 - text of the Act
This session is going to be about the history of the non-medical use of drugs. Let me say that, because this is going to be a story, that I think it will interest you quite a bit. The topic is the history of the non-medical use of drugs and I think you ought to know what my credentials are for talking about this topic. As you may know, before I taught at the University of Southern California, I taught at the University of Virginia for fifteen years, from 1968 to 1981. In that time period, the very first major piece that I wrote was a piece entitled, "The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge - The Legal History of Marihuana in the United States". I wrote it with Professor Richard Bonnie, still of the faculty of the University of Virginia. It was published in the Virginia Law Review in October of 1970 and I must say that our piece was the Virginia Law Review in October of 1970. The piece was 450 pages long. It got a ton of national attention because no one had ever done the legal history of marijuana before. As a result of that, Professor Bonnie was named the Deputy Director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse and I was a consultant to that commission.
As a result of Richard's two year executive directorship of the National Commission in 1971 and 1972 he and I were given access to both the open and the closed files of what was then called the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, what had historically been called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and what today is called the Drug Enforcement Agency. Based upon our access to those files, both open and closed, we wrote a book called "The Marihuana Conviction- The Legal History of Drugs in the United States" and that book went through six printings at the University of Virginia press before being sold out primarily in sales to my friends at the FBI over the years. It is based upon that work that I bring you this story.
History of the Non-Medical Use
Check Out the website here
May 17, 2011 - Radical" Russ Belville
n a case decided yesterday, Kentucky v. King, the US Supreme Court has ruled that cops who smell marijuana coming from your home can break down your door and arrest you, just as long as they knock first and claim to have heard you destroying evidence.
They don’t need a warrant or probable cause, either. Today in America, police can now randomly patrol neighborhoods and apartment complexes sniffing around for pot. When they smell it, they can knock on your door and then break it down, claiming they heard noises from within.
The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution plainly states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Writing for the Supreme Court in a 1980 case called Payton v. New York, Justice Stevens reiterated:
In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.
The smell of a burning flower and the sound of “scurrying” are now the “exigent circumstances” needed to “reasonably” cross that “firm line” without a warrant.
(Los Angeles Times) Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs.
Residents who “attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame” when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling gave police an easy way to ignore 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. She said the amendment’s “core requirement” is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house.
“How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and …forcibly enter?” Ginsburg asked.
The Supreme Court ruled in Kentucky vs. King that the officers’ conduct “was entirely lawful,” and they were justified in breaking in to prevent the destruction of the evidence.
Note to self and advice to others: When you’re smoking pot in your home and the cops come a-knockin’, be very, very quiet. I’m only half-kidding, for as Justice Alito writes:
When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do. And whether the person who knocks on the door and requests the opportunity to speak is a police officer or a private citizen, the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak. Cf. Florida v. Royer, 460 U. S. 491, 497-498 (1983). (“[H]e may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way”). When the police knock on a door but the occupants choose not to respond or to speak, “the investigation will have reached a conspicuously low point,” and the occupants “will have the kind of warning that even the most elaborate security system cannot provide.”
If you make noise when the cops knock, police can interpret that as you attempting to hide or destroy evidence (drugs), which creates the “exigent circumstance” needed to break down your door. Which leads me to ask, what does hiding or destroying cannabis sound like? I suppose the sounds of garbage disposals, trash compactors, and flushing toilets would be obvious answers. In King’s case, “scurrying” was enough; I guess cops could argue that he was running to the window throw out a baggie. Of course this all depends on taking the police at their word when they testify that they heard the “scurrying”.
In the King case, the cops weren’t even looking for King. They were conducting a sting operation on a street-level crack dealer. When he ran upstairs to his apartment on the right, the police followed, but they lost him. As they reached the apartment on the right, they smelled marijuana from King’s apartment on the left. The police knocked loudly on the apartment on the left. They then heard “scurrying”, so they broke down the door and caught King with marijuana and cocaine.
The smell of marijuana burning does give police indication there is a crime taking place behind that door – the possession of at least a joint or a bowl of marijuana. In Kentucky, such a first offense would be a crime worthy of a misdemeanor with a max of one year in jail and a $500 fine. It would take more than eight ounces on a first offense for felony charges. The police, not knowing King or having any probable cause to go after King, essential beat down his door on the “exigent circumstance” he may be destroying evidence of a misdemeanor. Is it “reasonable” to violate a man’s 4th Amendment rights over a potential misdemeanor?
Check out the original article here
May 17, 2011 -
Time Friday, June 17 · 8:00pm - 11:00pm
Location Lafayette Park, White House Fence
Created By GW Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy
More Info June 17th, 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon's declaration of the war on drugs. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or wounded across the globe under the banner of drug eradication. As the World's primary funder of this campaign, the American Taxpayer must stand up and make clear that we must the put an end to the bloodshed.
In America, the government prosecutes upwards of 850,000 people per year for violating state marijuana laws. Almost all of these arrests were for non-violent marijuana related offenses.
Please join us on June 17th, in front of the White House, to remember those US citizens and civilians abroad who have been victimized by the Drug War and to demand an end to this destructive and immoral War.
May 16, 2011 - Pittsburgh Norml
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We need everyone to call, email or write their delegates. Remember, we elected them to be our voice in the issues that matter and we want that voice to come through loud and clear. Ever think "what good will my email do, it probably won't even get read" or "why bother calling, I'll just end up leaving a message in a bottomless voice mail box"? Every elected official maintains a staff dedicated to public relations and constituent concerns. Why? Because elected officials want to be sure to endorse legislation that carries the greatest vote potential.
So just do it! Be counted! Pittsburgh Norml supports the officials who support legislation to reform marijuana laws.
Breaking Newz (5/1/11) - SB1003 in PA
May 15, 2011 -
The Flower contrasts a utopian society that freely farms and consumes a pleasure giving flower with a society where the same flower is illegal and its consumption is prohibited. The animation is a meditation on the social and economic costs of marijuana prohibition.