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Search and Seizure: Minnesota Supreme Court Okays Drug Dog Sniff Outside Apartment Door

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled May 24 that police need only articulable suspicion -- not the higher standard of probable cause -- to be able to use a drug sniffing dog to sniff the outside door of a person's residence. The 5-2 decision sparked a bitter dissent.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/drugdog.jpg
drug dog
The ruling came in Minnesota v. Davis, in which Burnsville police were informed by maintenance workers in an apartment complex that they thought they saw marijuana grow lights and that Evans would not let them in the apartment to fix a water leak. Based on that information, police brought a drug dog to the location, and the dog reacted outside the apartment door. Police then used the maintenance workers' information, the drug dog alert, and Davis's past criminal record to obtain a search warrant, which resulted in the finding of various items of contraband and three drug charges against Davis.

At trial, Davis moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that police needed probable cause to sic a drug dog on his apartment door because the drug dog sniff of his door exterior actually amounted to a "search" of his apartment, thus requiring probable cause. He lost at the trial court, which concluded that police needed only articulable suspicion and had met that standard. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, and now the state Supreme Court has reaffirmed it.

While the state constitution requires the courts to balance individuals' privacy interest against the public interest in effective law enforcement, the state Supreme Court held that the intrusion into Davis's privacy was so minimal as to not require the higher standard of probable cause. The only intrusion into Davis's privacy occurred because the dog could sniff what the public could not. "This intrusion, however, is minimal," Justice Gildea wrote for the majority.

"When we balance the minimal intrusion on [the defendant's] privacy interests inside his residence against the governmental interest in the use of narcotics-detection dogs as an investigative tool to combat drug crime, we conclude that the police needed a reasonable, articulable suspicion to walk a narcotics-detection dog down the common hallway outside [the defendant's] apartment," Gildea wrote. The report from maintenance workers rose to the level of articulable suspicion, the opinion added.

Justice Alan Page, joined by Justice Helen Meyer, strongly dissented from the majority's opinion. "This case marks a significant departure from our constitutional jurisprudence because it is the first time the court has authorized the search of a private residence based on anything less than probable cause in the absence of exigent circumstances," Page wrote. "It is a departure that takes us down a road that erodes Fourth Amendment protections in one's home. That is a road I am unwilling to go down." Unfortunately, Page was in the minority.

Editorial: Compassion -- Connecticut should allow medical marijuana

Location: 
CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Danbury News-Times (CT)
URL: 
http://www.newstimes.com/opinion/edit.php?id=1054596&source=tabbox

Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island Bill Awaits Expected Veto, Override

A bill that would make Rhode Island's medical marijuana law permanent has passed its final legislative hurdle and is now proceeding to the desk of Gov. Donald Carcieri (R), who vows to veto it. But the measure has passed both houses by margins sufficient to override that threat. If so, it would mark the second time in as many years that the legislature overrode Carcieri's veto of a medical marijuana law.

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leading RI patient activist Rhonda O'Donnell, at DC protest
When passed last year, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act contained a sunset provision causing the state's program to die June 30 if not re-approved by the legislature. This year's bill actually passed both houses earlier this month, but the final procedural hurdle was cleared when the full House voted this week to pass the Senate version of the bill.

The bill would allow a patient diagnosed as having a debilitating medical condition to possess up to 12 marijuana plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana. A caregiver could have 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana for each of up to five qualified patients. The state Health Department would register patients and caregivers.

The bill has been pushed by a coalition of medical, legal, and drug reform groups, the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. It appears the group is just a veto override vote away from victory.

AL: House panel hears case for medical marijuana

Location: 
Montgomery, AL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Mobile Register (AL)
URL: 
http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/news/1179998521164330.xml&coll=3

RI: House approves medical marijuana law

Location: 
Providence, RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
WPRI-TV (RI)
URL: 
http://www.eyewitnessnewstv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6562446

CT: House votes to legalize medical use of marijuana; Wilton's Rep. Boucher tries in vain to change the bill, files 50 amendments

Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Wilton Villager (CT)
URL: 
http://www.wiltonvillager.com/wilton_templates/wilton_story/288959901209870.php

Medical Marijuana: Connecticut Bill Passes House, Heads for Senate

A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for some patients has passed out of the Connecticut House of Representatives on a vote of 89-58. It now heads for the state Senate, which approved a similar measure in 2005. That bill was defeated in the House. The vote came after six hours of debate in the House, where lawmakers cited their own experiences with debilitating illness.

"The message is simple: We have compassion for people who are suffering in this state," said Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) during the debate.

"Today, we have the opportunity to give relief to Connecticut residents who are sick, who are dying, who are wasting away, who are losing their quality of life," she said. "And we can tell those Connecticut residents that the state of Connecticut no longer will prosecute you," said Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R-Somers), who led the fight for the bill.

The bill, HB 6715, would allow physicians to certify an adult patient's use of marijuana after determining he or she has a debilitating condition and could potentially benefit from marijuana. Patients and their primary caregivers would then register with the state's Department of Consumer Protection. Patients and caregivers could grow up to four plants four feet high in an indoor facility.

The bill was supported by a broad coalition including The Alliance Connecticut, United Methodist Church of Connecticut, Connecticut Nurses Association, Dr. Andrew Salner -- Director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital, A Better Way Foundation, the Drug Policy Alliance Network, and the Drug Policy Alliance.

It was opposed by law enforcement and by Rep. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), who led a virtual legislative crusade against it. Boucher filed 50 hostile amendments to the bill before Thursday's vote, but gave up after the first eight got shot down. Her proposals included informing police departments of the names of registered medical marijuana users and requiring the state Agriculture Department to set up a pilot program.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero put on his best street hustler accent as he opposed the bill. "How do you get it?" he asked, referring to the seeds for starting the four plants allowed under the bill "You've got to buy it. How do you buy it? As Rep.(Michael) Lawlor said, you've got to hit the streets folks -- nickel bag, dime bag. You gotta make a drug deal, baby."

Cafero's Scarface imitation notwithstanding, the bill has passed and now heads to the Senate, where it faces committee votes.

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Dies Without House Vote as Legislature Adjourns

A bill that would have made Minnesota the 13th medical marijuana state died for lack of a House floor vote before the state legislature adjourned Tuesday. A companion bill had passed the Senate earlier in the session, but even if the House had passed it, it faced a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The bill, HF 655, would have allowed patients with specified chronic debilitating conditions to possess up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Patients would have been able to designate caregivers to grow for them. The bill also called for patients to register with the state after obtaining a written recommendation from a physician, registered nurse, or physician's assistant.

Although the Minnesota medical marijuana bill could not clear the final legislative hurdle this year, supporters said their success this year left them well-positioned for next year. Under the state's two-year session, next year's drive will begin with the legislation having already passed the Senate, and with the momentum of an unbroken string of committee wins.

"We are in a very strong position to pass this sensible, compassionate bill into law next year, and making sure that happens will be a top priority," said Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth) in a press release from Minnesotans for Compassionate Care (MCC), a coalition of citizens, patients, medical professionals and others working to pass the bill.

"Passage of the medical marijuana bill in the Senate this year gave the effort incredible momentum, and I look forward to passing the House in 2008," added Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing).

Another legislative supporter, bill cosponsor and former House speaker Rep. Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon) vowed to work on bringing Gov. Pawlenty around in the mean time. "I look forward to having a continuing dialogue with the governor about the need to protect seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana, and about the safeguards built into this legislation," he said. "I'm confident we will pass it when we return next year because it's the right thing to do."

Last month, New Mexico became the latest state to enact a medical marijuana law when Gov. Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, signed a bill into law there. That gave some hope to MCC director Neal Levine. "As states like New Mexico continue to step forward and new research continues to document the relief that medical marijuana can provide for suffering patients, the momentum is overwhelming," said Levine. "No Minnesotan should fear arrest and jail simply for trying to stay alive, and I have no doubt that 2008 will be the year that protection for patients becomes law."

If that is indeed the case, Minnesota will join Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington as medical marijuana states.

RI: House, Senate committee to vote on making medical marijuana law permanent

Location: 
Providence, RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
WPRI-TV (RI)
URL: 
http://www.eyewitnessnewstv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6556382&nav=F2DO

As Illinois' drug policy changes, incarcerations soar

Location: 
IL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Tribune
URL: 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0705210673may22,1,6522493.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

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