Drug War Scotches Property Rights 

Drug War Scotches Property Rights 
Posted by FoM on October 12, 2000 at 06:13:11 PT
Random Fire By Joel Miller
Source: WorldNetDaily
As America goes, so goes the world. Arrogant, I know, but apparently true. Obviously learning very little from blatant rights abuses in the U.S., Scotland is preparing to step up asset-forfeiture powers in its war on drugs. "New hard-line laws are planned which will create more powers to seize assets from criminals," reports the Oct. 9 BBC News, saying that "The proposals will be unveiled in the Queen's speech in Westminster next month in a bid to crack down on major drug dealers." 
For Scottish police, feelings of drug-war inadequacy began setting in when the estimates of the Glasgow heroin market high-marked the trade at $115 million a year, according to a June 14 BBC report. The drug-busting business, in contrast, was in a bit of a slump. By comparison, police had only seized a mere pittance -- some $1.15 million. If the plan goes through, however, you can expect that number to jump a bit, because soon the bobbies will be able to nab more than your bud; they'll be able to nab your house, bank accounts, whatever they want. "The new laws will mean that suspected criminals can have their assets seized -- unless they can prove they were obtained legitimately." Guilty until proven innocent. Sound familiar? While recent reforms in U.S. forfeiture law promise to bring some much-needed sanity to the problem, since the passage of the federal Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1984, Americans have been subject to confiscations of their property -- with or without warrants -- based solely on probable cause. Actual proof of wrongdoing is for the courts to figure out, which, despite all the grand images of Blind Lady Justice, was a boon to police. Because asset forfeiture cases are civil not criminal, once seized, the property can only be reclaimed by suing the government in civil court, a situation which greatly favors the government. The burden of proof in civil proceedings being much lighter, police can prove guilt based on a mere "preponderance of the evidence," not "beyond a reasonable doubt," as in a criminal case. Further, no criminal charges need ever be filed. Police can seize your property, and, unless you can afford the expenses of a lawsuit, you're bum out of luck. What's worse, because of the low standard of proof, even if innocent, you might lose anyway. That is the page, unfortunately, that the Scots are tearing out of our law-enforcement playbook. "If such new legislation was introduced it would give the authorities, the police service and other agencies the opportunity to attack the wealth of these individuals -- the criminal profits which they have siphoned off and create power for them in developing future criminal enterprises," said Graeme Pearson of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland. But others see the threat to liberty inherent in the proposal. "It is potentially a very dangerous area to move into where you say that these will be civil proceedings," explained John Scott of the Scottish Human Rights Centre. "We are going to take the money off you and it is up to you to prove that you acquired the money or the property innocently, and that puts it in a very difficult position," he went on to say, adding, "It is easy to see how, without very stringent safeguards, innocent people could suffer through that." Innocent people certainly do. Carol Thomas of Millville, N.J., had her 1990 Ford Thunderbird seized when her 17-year-old son used the car to sell marijuana to an undercover officer. Regardless of the fact that no drugs were actually found in the car and Thomas had no clue her son was using the car to pitch pot, the police kept the car. What's amusing is that, at the time of the bust, Thomas was an officer with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and had actually worked on the same narcotics team that filched her T-Bird. According to the Institute for Justice, the Washington D.C.-based civil-rights organization defending Thomas, she has left her position with the sheriff's department in favor of fighting forfeiture laws. No wonder. Even worse, however, are cases like Donald Scott, who lost his life and property in a bogus drug raid. America is often blamed for exporting the worst of our culture to the rest of the world, but if Scotland really wants to import this sort of idiocy, that's their problem. The U.S. is too busy cleaning up our own drug war disasters to take responsibility for the foolhardy decisions of other nations. Source: WorldNetDaily (US Web)Author: Joel MillerPublished: Thursday, October 12, 2000Copyright: 2000,, Inc.Contact: letters worldnetdaily.comAddress: PO Box 409, Cave Junction, OR 97523-0409Fax: (541) 597-1700Website: Articles - Joel Miller 
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Comment #5 posted by Dan B on October 13, 2000 at 10:07:48 PT:
Smokah--You're Funny
Actually, yes. That would be a kind of inadvertant self-titration.It was also quite a funny comment. Thanks.Dan B
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Comment #4 posted by smokah on October 12, 2000 at 16:53:38 PT
Like it!
"Most cannabis users take a break for a little bit whenalready stoned because, after all, it's expensive, and there is such a thing as the law of diminishing returns"I forget to smoke more sometimes... I smoke coupla hits, start surfing the net, and some time later I realise that I have not smoked as much as I intended. Is that self-titration? 
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on October 12, 2000 at 14:09:04 PT:
Tories Tried it, But Most Didn't Like it...Right?
This comment hearkens back to a comment FoM made on another thread: it isn't okay to feel good anymore. Notice that of the seven Tories who tried cannabis, only one admitted that the experience was enjoyable (as kaptinemo has pointed out). One of two things is going on here:(1) Great Britain had a rash of bad weed at the time these Tories were experimenting, or(2) These politicians are afraid to say they enjoyed being high because they do not want to be perceived as "sending the wrong message to the children."Heaven forbid, so they would say, that we enjoyed an herb! Our culture strongly forbids joy, after all. Everyone knows that pleasure is sin, right? We wouldn't want our neighbors to catch us having a good time! When are these people going to learn that we only have one shot at life, and each individual has the right to use that time the way he or she sees fit?If a person wants to drink him or herself to death, that is perfectly legitimate in the eyes of the law (a la Leaving Las Vegas) because along the way that person will end up with some nasty hangovers as punishment. If a person wants to smoke tobacco until death, that too is viewed as perfectly legitimate because the person will likely die an agonizingly slow death as a result of inhaling carcinogens on a continuous basis. But smoking or otherwise ingesting cannabis is illegal. Why? Perhaps because this is the one drug for which there are no known serious consequences, outside of government "intervention."When I was a psychology major, I learned the concept that one does not have a behavioral problem unless one attributes negative consequences or connotations to one's behavior. In other words, a behavior is only a problem when it is perceived that way by oneself or violates the rights of others. This concept was especially important with regard to sexual "disorders." For example, I worked with a person who had become extremely neurotic as a result of the belief that masturbation is evil (to those easily offended, pardon my frankness--no pun intended). The syllogism worked like this: masturbation is evil; I masturbate; therefore, I am evil. Notice that the problem is with the perception of masturbation as evil. The cure was to convince the client/patient that masturbation is a normal part of healthy humanity.A similar viewpoint is often taken with regard to drinking alcohol--that it is not "bad" if done in moderation. I'm sure everyone has heard the term "social drinker," which implies that drinking is socially acceptable if not carried to excess (drunkenness). But anyone who has had a beer, if honest, will admit that even one or two beers (moderate drinking) will give a person a buzz. So it is with any drug: a little bit will often be enough. Most cannabis users take a break for a little bit when already stoned because, after all, it's expensive, and there is such a thing as the law of diminishing returns. At any rate, the definition of "a little bit" is different for different people.The reason why cannabis is treated differently is because it has been labeled "evil." In fact, American culture encourages this label, even going so far as to place commercials on television just to hammer the point home.Of course, we know that cannabis got the label "evil" from politicians and profiteers who deliberately connected its use with certain hated minority groups (classic propaganda construction). The purpose behind this type of association was twofold: (1) many would profit by driving business away from cannabis and toward other pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and the lumber industry, and (2) others wanted an excuse to escalate of acts of hatred toward the already hated minority groups ("I don't hate you because of the color of your skin; I hate you because the government says you use drugs that make you kill and rape, and I can tell you use these drugs based on the color of your skin"). My point is that the label is arbitrary. It means nothing because it is a fabrication. Yet, many have bought the lie, and we have been stuck with the consequences of that lie for eight decades: increased addiction rates, increased violence due to black market commerce, increased human rights violations, etc.Part of the reason why the lie continues is that psychologists--not all, but many of them--profit from the lie, as do law enforcement officers, politicians, the pharmaceuticals industry, the petrochemicals industry, etc. A large portion of the country's economy is based on the perpetuation of the lie that cannabis is "evil."So, what can we do? For starters, we can speak up about the injustices of the drug war. Each of us may take a different approach: some may become vocal about their own drug use as a form of protest, some may choose to completely abstain in order to feel more comfortable being vocal. Neither option is wrong. The only "wrong" option is remaining silent.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on October 12, 2000 at 09:35:50 PT:
Freedom and tyranny are neck and neck
I am not surprised at the actions of the Scottish police. I *am* surprised, however, at their *timing*.Throughout Europe and the UK, there are movements towards 'liberalization' of drug policies. The tyranny of the American style DrugWar is giving way to the freedom and its converse, personal responsibility. The reality of this is amply demonstrated by what's happening right now in Britain.The Tories in Britain have commited a gross tactical error in having tried, through the office of Ms. Widdecombe, to steer the country back toward a hardline approach, only to be hammered in the press and by professional organizations (like those representing police!) because of the H-factor. "H" as in hypocrite.With the admission of some members of the shadow cabinet having some youthful (and one admitted, pleasant!) experience with Lady Cannabia, their credibility has taken a torpedo directly amidships, and the political pumps have been working overtime to keep the ship from sinking. They have, with almost Klintonesque skill, been backpedalling while trying to give the illusion of maintaining their ground. The Tories are learning very painfully just how out of step they are with the rest of the country, there. A lesson that will prove to be very costly.Surely the Scotts, a very sensible, rock-steady people, can learn from their Anglo-Saxon cousins the value in not trying to traverse a minefield that's plainly marked as such.But those forces which see nothing wrong in trying to ape the American Experiment are not evidently concerned with such concepts as freedom and dignity that reform represents; they just see all the lovely money the American police can steal 'legally', and want to 'get theirs while the getting's good'.I hope the Scottish Parliament remembers what had been done to Scotts for centuries by outsiders, and don't decide to mimic their former 'protectors'.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on October 12, 2000 at 07:03:59 PT:
Hard-Hitting Journalism
One would hope that cooler heads would prevail in the UK and prevent them from emulating the horrible excesses of US policy on search and seizure. Our laws and Constitution were based on ideals dating to the Magna Carta. The Brits may need to go to the source and attempt to honor the letter and spirit of their own traditions.
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