July 29, 2014
Colossal Canadian StupidityWe're used to thinking of our neighbors to the North as more conservative and less zany than us Americans, but every so often, as if to show that we can't take then for granted, our Northern cousins do something really bizarre. This time it was a ruling by Health Canada that Liam McKnight, a little boy with Dravet syndrome whose seizures were being well controlled with a cannabis edible, would have to switch to another mode of administration in order to comply with a truly clueless ruling from Health Canada.
In fact, it had been only about a year ago that the first significant mention of the use of marijuana for medical purposes had appeared on a series of CNN broadcasts featuring British host Piers Morgan and American neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta on a case involving a Colorado child named Charlotte Figi who was also a victim of Dravet Syndrome.
Since than, Dravet Syndrome, first described by a neurologist named Charlotte Dravet in 1978, (whom I'd never heard of before) has been popping up frequently in news related to the medical use of cannabis– always with remarkable reductions in the number and frequency of seizures.
In fact, the frequency of that association makes me wonder if there might be a class action case on behalf of young people with seizure disorders who are clearly being impeded by the DEA's single minded quest to reduce use of cannabis on the spurious grounds asserted by Richard Nixon in 1970.
It was just such a case that overturned the disastrous policy of segregation that had effectively re-imposed chattel Slavery on the nation by stealing the victory won by the Civil War.
What the Court can impose, it can also take away. All that's required is the right case, some good will, and a modicum of common sense.
Are we up to it?
July 19, 2014
Police ShootingsEven before starting to take histories from applicants hoping to use cannabis legally in California, I'd spent 4 years– from 1997 to 2001, editing a weekly newsletter based on a database of media reports on the drug war. Because it required reading about three hundred news items a week; it became an intense education on how our drug policy was corrupting the nation and encouraging gross injustice.
It soon became clear that that police agencies at all levels had to participate in the policy to make it work; also that they required almost complete legal immunity for whatever untoward events their enforcement activities might produce.
I recently had occasion to recall two particularly egregious cases from that early experience; both involved people of color who had come to the attention of police during Rudy Giuliani's tenure as New York's mayor. One was the 1999 case of a man named Amadu Diallo in what turned out to be a case of mistaken suspicion. Because he was thought to resemble the description of a serial rapist, Diallo was hailed by four plain clothes cops. Apparently spooked, and not realizing the men were police, Diallo ran for the apparent security of his apartment building, with its automatically locking door (for which he had the key). Once inside the vestibule and apparently still confused, he reached for his wallet. One of the officers, thinking he was reaching for a weapon, shouted "Gun!" 19 of the ensuing 41 shots struck Diallo, killing him instantly.
News reports of the event soon led to demands that charges be filed against the police. A change of venue to the state capital in Albany, was granted, where a predictably conservative jury recommended dropping all charges.
The other case, although equally shocking had a much happier outcome; primarily because the victim, although treated with equal disregard by NYC's "finest," survived his ordeal, collected a large settlement, and has continued to advocate on behalf of police reform. If there are any bright spots in this narrative, they have to do with Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who also ran afoul of the NYPD 2 years before Diallo, but managed to survive. Clearly; in a tort liability case, a living victim the jury can identify with is worth a lot more in court than a dead one.
I just had occasion to learn of another case in the nearby town of Santa Rosa, one that could serve as a Rosetta Stone for the realities of modern American "Criminal Jusice" in the nation we're all so proud of. Our cops seem now able to gun down any citizen they have "probable cause" to think is carrying a firearm and represents a threat, even if he's an immature 13-year old Eighth grader carrying a toy gun down a sunny street on a school afternoon.