SD Gov Banned by Tribes Over Cartel Comments, Brazil Senate Considering Prohibition Amendment, More... (4/15/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1209)

A political battle is looming in Brazil over drug decriminalization, New York's attorney general is investigating a hospital for drug testing pregnant patients without their consent, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Florida Poll Has Marijuana Initiative with Majority, But Not Enough to Win. A USA Today/Ipsos poll released Saturday finds that a constitutional amendment initiative to legalize marijuana has the support of 56 percent of registered voters. But under the state constitution, such initiatives need 60 percent of the vote to win.

The initiative sponsored by Smart & Safe Florida will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 3.

The poll had support strongest among Democrats (69 percent), followed by independents (63 percent), with Republicans trailing at 39 percent.

Pollsters also reported "no differences in self-reported plans to vote for recreational cannabis legalization by gender or age" but that "white Floridians are more likely than Hispanic Floridians to say they would vote in favor of recreational marijuana legalization this November (55 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively)".

Drug Policy

South Dakota Tribes Bar Governor from Reservations over Her Comment Linking Leadership to Mexican Drug Cartels. And then there were four: The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council has become the fourth tribal government to ban Gov. Kristi Noem (R) from its territory in the wake of her claim that tribal leaders were "personally benefiting" from cartel drug activity on their reservations.

The Rosebud Sioux join the Oglala Sioux, the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux in banning Noem from their reservations.

The Cheyenne Sioux were the first to ban Noem, on April 2.

"She said that council, councils were in on with the cartel, Mexican cartels and things like that, and she also made statements about our children, and the, our parents, our schools, pretty negative, derogatory statements," Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Ryman LeBeau said at the April 2 meeting.

Noem is now offering to meet with tribal leaders "down at Pine Ridge, if they wanted to come to Pierre, anywhere they wanted to meet" and claims the moves by the tribal governments do not represent their communities. "I don't believe it's the tribes that are banishing me," Noem said. "It is their tribal governments, and it is their presidents, their chairmen. I do not believe it is the community members."

Drug Testing

New York Attorney General Investigating Secret Drug Testing of Pregnant Women. State Attorney General Letitia James (D) is investigating charges by patients that they were drug tested without their consent while pregnant or in labor at Garnet Health Medical Center. The center has been accused by two former patients of discrimination for doing the drug tests without their knowledge and then reporting the preliminary results, which turned up false positive results for opiates, to Child Protective Services.

The news that James is investigating came in court papers filed in the case of the two patients. The papers revealed that Garnet Health had asked a judge to quash a subpoena for patient records dating back to 2018, claiming the investigation was "motivated by political interests."

The hospital changed its drug testing policy in 2021 to require a patient's verbal consent if a health care provider decides to seek a drug test. The state Department of Health has also issued guidance instructing providers to only perform drug testing on pregnant patients "when medically indicated" and to first obtain informed consent.


Brazilian Senate Ponders Constitutional Amendment to Entrench Drug Prohibition. The Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on a proposed constitutional amendment that is designed to entrench the criminalization of drug possession. The amendment is a clear ploy to change the constitution before the Supreme Court rules on a pending case that challenges the constitutionality of criminalizing drug possession.

Current law already criminalizes drug possession for personal use, but introducing this language in the constitution would make it much harder to pursue much-needed drug policy reforms in Brazil, Human Rights Watch said.

"Decades of drug policy failure in Brazil should make clear that criminal law is simply ineffective to address the harmful use of drugs and leads to serious human rights abuses," said Andreas Carvalho, Brazil researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Instead of cementing a failed policy in the constitution, lawmakers should follow the example of many other countries by decriminalizing the possession of drugs for personal use and developing effective health strategies to prevent and respond to problematic substance use."

In the current Supreme Court case, five justices have voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and three voted against. The votes of three more justices are still pending, but if just one of them votes for decriminalization, it will become the law of the land. But if the Senate approves the pending constitutional amendment to remove drug possession from the umbrella of the right to privacy, the high court will be blocked.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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