- Published on 14 April 2013
- Written by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel
Washington, DC: The Supreme Court of the United States ruled last week 5 to 4 to limit law enforcement's use of drug sniffing dogs in situations where police did not possess probable cause or a warrant. The ruling upheld a Florida Supreme Court decision finding that police violated the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution when they allowed a drug identification dog to sniff around the front door of a private home absent a search warrant specifically authorizing them to do so.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia opined: "The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home. And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion's, planted firmly on that curtilage - the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home."
Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the opinion.
Writing for the minority, Justice Samuel Alito opined that law enforcement's use of the dog "did not constitute a trespass and did not violate respondent's reasonable expectations of privacy."
The case is Florida v. Jardines.
The Supreme Court in 2005 had previously ruled (Illinois v. Caballes) that an alert from a police dog during a traffic stop provides a constitutional basis for law enforcement to search the interior of the vehicle.
According to a 2011 study published in the scientific journal Animal Recognition, the performance of drug-sniffing dogs is significantly influenced by whether or not their handlers believe illicit substances are present. International statistics indicate that drug dogs are prone to false alerts, with data indicating an 80 percent failure rate in some cases.
- Published on 14 April 2013
- Written by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director
Washington, DC: Fifty-two percent of Americans say that the adult consumption of cannabis ought to be legal, according to national polling data released last week by the Pew Research Center. The total is the highest percentage of support ever reported by Pew, which began surveying public opinion on this issue in 1973.
This year's percentage marks an 11 percent increase in support since 2010, the last time Pew posed the question. Forty-five percent of respondents said they opposed liberalizing marijuana laws.
Democrats, (59 percent), males (57 percent), African Americans (56 percent), and those respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 (64 percent) were most likely to favor legalizing marijuana. Female respondents (48 percent), Republicans (37 percent), and those age 65 and over (33 percent) were least likely to back legalization.
Pollsters also reported that 77 percent of Americans - including 72 percent of self-identified Republicans and 60 percent of those respondents age 65 or older - believe that cannabis possesses "legitimate medical uses," a position that directly conflicts with federal policy.
According to Pew, a solid majority of Americans also question present federal efforts to enforce the criminalization of cannabis. The poll reported that 72 percent of respondents agreed that "government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth," and 60 percent of Americans said that the government should no longer enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have approved of its use.
- Published on 15 March 2013
- Written by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Baltimore, MD: Chronic cannabis consumers may test positive for trace, residual levels of THC in blood for several weeks after ceasing their marijuana use, according to clinical trial data published in the journal of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry.
Thirty long-term, daily cannabis consumers participated in the trial. The mean self-reported daily consumption of cannabis among subjects in the study was ten joints per day.
Of the 22 subjects tested 24 hours following admission into the trial, 12 (59 percent) tested positive for THC levels greater than 1ng/ml, but none tested at levels greater than 5ng/ml. All of the subjects' THC/blood levels tested below 1ng/ml within seven days following admission.
Investigators reported that subjects' THC/blood levels "did not always decrease in a consistent manner" and that one subject continued to test positive for trace levels of THC for a total of 33 days.
Authors concluded: "To our knowledge, these are the first blood cannabinoid concentrations in chronic daily cannabis smokers during extended (up to 33 days) continuously monitored abstinence. These data are critical for understanding cannabinoid pharmacokinetics in this population, and for interpreting blood cannabinoid tests."