Blog of Rights

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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review in School Strip Search Case

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 10:31pm
You may have heard the infamous case of the 13-year-old girl who was strip-searched by school officials for allegedly possession ibuprofen (Advil). Perhaps as surprising as the strip search itself is today’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted review in the case — meaning it will reconsider a lower court’s ruling that the student’s constitutional rights were violated.

Massachusetts First State to Decriminalize Marijuana

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 11:22pm

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly (65 percent pro, 35 percent con) passed Question 2 today, which decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana — putting penalties on par with receiving a traffic ticket. The new law replaces criminal penalties…

This is your Bill of Rights...on Drugs

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 3:33pm

You probably remember the good ole' frying pan, fried egg, fried brain anti-drug commercial from back in the day. If taking a good beating from a frying pan is what happens to your brain on drugs, you should check out what's happened to your Bill of Rights on drugs.

Almost 40 years ago, perhaps sparking the Bush team's bright idea to declare a "war on terror," President Nixon declared a "war on drugs." By the time George Bush Sr. entered the White House in 1989, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll found that 62 percent of Americans would be willing to give up a few of their freedoms in order to fight the war on drugs. And Uncle Sam has been more than willing to take them up on it. Most of the court cases within the past 40 years that have methodically abridged individual rights like freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and property rights, have all concerned drugs. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall even coined a term for the growing practice of sacrificing constitutional rights in the name of the fighting drugs: the "drug exception."

It seems appropriate on this Constitution Day to take a few moments to mourn all that we've lost from the Bill of Rights and the Constitution due to these "drug exceptions:"

Death of Medical Marijuana Patient Denied Organ Transplant Shines a Light on the Federal Government's Absurd Marijuana Policy

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 3:17pm
Timothy Garon, a 56-year old Seattle-based musician, died last night from liver failure due to hepatitis C. Like so many critically ill people in the United States, he needed an organ transplant to survive. Unfortunately, the University of Washington…

This Week's Top Snitch Scandal: Strip-Searched for Advil

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 5:44pm
We have a new twist on informant-related scandals to report today that involves using students as snitches and the bad things that happen to good people as a result. Today the ACLU filed as co-counsel in representing a 13-year-old girl who was strip-searched…

Frankenstein's Monster and Maple Trees: the Latest Snitch Scandals

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 11:56am
If fair and effective drug policing were New Year's Resolutions, we'd have already fallen off the wagon. Unfortunately, the first few months of 2008 have ushered in a steady parade of informant-related scandals that could have been averted if key safeguards…

Informants: Are they also a poison?

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 10:11am
Yesterday's New York Times story about the recent news that four Brooklyn narcotics officers were caught paying informants with drugs seized from busted dealers brilliantly tied the recent spate of informant-related scandals together by stating: "It is…

Supreme Court Finds Cocaine Sentencing Disparities Unfair

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 4:47pm
Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kimbrough v. U.S. represents a watershed in the history of drug sentencing. After two decades of escalating prison populations, the Court has finally signaled a changed in course, branding the crack/powder cocaine…

Minorities and Drug Offenses in The Vortex

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 12:15pm
We can all agree that our nation's drug laws should be fair and effective. To be effective, they need to keep our neighborhoods safe. To be fair, the police, judges and prosecutors who enforce drug laws should not treat people differently just because…

This Week's Top Snitch Scandals: "I Was Trying to Create a Snitch"

By Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project at 12:25pm
Check out a few stories that have hit the headlines over the past week. They are just a snapshot of the injustices that occur every day in America when known criminals work as informants to do the work police should be doing: The Associated Press reported…
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