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May-19-2009 10:15printcomments

Are Drug Dogs and Increasing Police Scrutiny the Answer for Oregonians?

A special traffic operation on an Oregon Highway raises many questions about Civil Rights.

police pullover
Salem-News.com file photo by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - It's a different world out there these days when it comes to law enforcement. As the nation heads into the possibly unknown depths of a severe economic recession, or depression, I fail to see the wisdom of increasing secret police tactics on our highways, but that is what is taking place.

You see Americans have this thing called the Fourth Amendment. Regardless of what police and government agencies say or admit, they do not have a right to randomly search your car or person or home.

The reason police get away with what they do is attributable to nothing less than a weak citizenry; one that does not adequately involve itself in the actions of our lawmakers. This is sad.

I know they're just "doing their jobs" and all, but State Police in Oregon spent seven hours Friday conducting activities with drug dogs near The Dalles that led to scores of residents being in trouble. I fail to see what is really gained. I wouldn't feel this way if I didn't know that police in the United States regularly skirt the legal lines of this issue. I'm not saying the Oregon cops did that in this event, but the situation raises questions.

It is unlawful for officers to just pull a car over and run the dog up for a sniff. They can employ a drug dog if they have sufficient cause.

But what is taking place in Oregon, is that motorists are being told to submit to search and seizure, or drug dog will be brought to their location. This happened a few weeks ago on Highway 101 on the Oregon coast. The individual, who was Hispanic, told Salem-News.com that he was aware of the state trooper's presence, and kept his speed legal. He was still pulled over. When he told the officer he knew his Fourth Amendment rights, the trooper called in a canine unit.

This individual was apparently in possession of marijuana, and ultimately was cited for it, but it was never visible or detectable without a dog. That means there was not reasonable suspicion. What did the court do? They threw it out, that's what they did. It seems like some officers like to play the odds.

I spent time around deputies from Oklahoma while covering the war in Afghanistan. These were members of the Oklahoma National Guard who had been mobilized for combat. They candidly told me about how they orchestrate traffic pullovers by using a second deputy with a drug dog who would "coincidentally" be in the area.

Sure enough, the use of the dog in this way was getting them around the law that banned random use of drug dogs on traffic stops, and getting them convictions in court. This particular group told me they liked to pull over "rich college girls" who usually had some pot in their car. They talked about how people don't know their rights when it comes to search and seizure.

And they knew their drug dog trick was a sham.

In Friday's special traffic operation in Oregon, the police made a felony arrest for Child Neglect in the First Degree when an adult female caring for a 4-month old child was stopped for a traffic violation and subsequently arrested after she was found in possession of approximately 1 1/2 lbs. of marijuana.

So now one more Oregon mom is down for the count and off to prison; her kid to be raised by God knows who. A pound of pot, while enough to get you life in some states, is small change in Oregon and California. Even state medical marijuana laws allow a sizable amount to be transported. In fact I think that amount would be covered if the woman was a medical marijuana patient.

In Oregon you go from being medical patient to somebody who feels like Al Capone, in about two shakes of a lamb's tail.

The nation is changing fast when it comes to marijuana. Perhaps these cops arresting young mothers are part of the "Reefer Madness" generation; people who have just refused to acknowledge that the marijuana is anything but the evil "drug" it has been portrayed as.

Increasing numbers of Americans disagree with criminal penalties over marijuana, and most do so by experience. Tens of millions of Americans have or do regularly smoke pot.

Also, don't think there aren't cops out there who smoke it too. No names come to mind and I wouldn't disclose them if they did, but it is true and has always been true. In New York City back in the 1970's, cops used to be required to smoke a joint just to understand what they were dealing with. Now there was some wisdom.

Marijuana has never caused a death over several thousand years of use. It was widely accepted and used until two American firms; Dow Chemical and DuPont, created synthetic rope. In order to market it, they had to do something about getting the strongest natural fiber known to man off the store shelves; you guessed it, that fiber is the natural plant marijuana in its industrial form known as hemp.

There never was good reason for criminalizing a plant that grows naturally out of the ground. The only thing unnatural is the law against it. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both hemp farmers.

-----------------------------------------------------

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Blair Anderson June 2, 2009 4:51 am (Pacific time)

While there may be some truth to a industrial lead anti-competitive maneuverings of DuPont and Dow, and there may even be a Big-Pharma conspiracy today, the move to marginalise cannabis began way further back in time than polymers like 'Nylon'. To maintain that historical argument (as fact enough) doesnt do justice to the real historical basis... and USA should tell that history like it is, not fit it to seemingly credible associations. One needs to go back to Jamestown/Virgina to see industrial scale profits from the exports from the new world to the old (tobacco). And there is the clue to cannabis's importance to global trade. So important was hempen materials is was classed as a strategic munition. New 'Hemp'shire? Take a look at the history of Boston, the ropewalks, the tow pots, the Boston Massacre etc.. and that leads us to the requiest from the America that Napoleon march on Moscow to stop the Russians supplying Ukranian (superior quality)hemp the the British. Old Ironsides was built to protect US interests and prevent Bristish dominance of the Mediteranean trade route, but when Russia continues to supply Britania via barge to Baltic ports, US far east interests (colonisation) was impaired. The failings of Napolean set the scene fo nationalism in Europe... and led to WWI and subsequently to WWII. Now look at the body count from prohibition of the god given herb and tell me it wasnt badly managed.


Rosie May 27, 2009 8:35 am (Pacific time)

I'll ask again, because you clearly must have an opinion on the matter...how do you suggest the police "catch" drug smugglers? And, would you only be concerned with individuals smuggling meth, coke, and heroin? Because it doesn't seem you were concerned with the mother transporting 1 1/2 pounds of weed. If she WAS a medical card holder or provider, I'm assuming she would have notified law enforcement of such and she would have gone on her way. The fact that she is a mother should make little difference. I would venture to bet that the men trafficking drugs are also fathers.


Rosie May 26, 2009 11:37 am (Pacific time)

I beg to differ the fact that marijuana has never caused a death; I am sure that there have been many fatal traffic crashes due to drivers being under the influence of marijuana. Also, I have yet to find marijuana growing naturally in the forests of Oregon. Seems like most of those gardens are cultivated by Mexican Nationals. I would also argue that a good portion of the folks found to be in possession of quantities of illegal drugs aren't taxpayers in Oregon, but rest assured that their product was destined for the streets in our communities, feeding those violent offenders. How about an article geared towards a solution, or how you suggest we combat the war on drugs instead of focusing on what you perceive as Civil Rights violations? For the sake of the argument, take MJ out of the mix, making it less controversial. That is assuming that you aren't in favor of legalizing methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and other currently illegal drugs. How would you suggest the police "catch" the bad guys?

Editor: That is ridiculous.  To all those reading this, there is a standing reward of several thousand dollars for any person who can prove that a death was caused by marijuana.  We haven't published it yet, but we have actual test data conducted in the USA by the DOT that demonstrates that marijuana is not anything even slightly close to alcohol in terms of impared driving.   I also caught your line about "violent offenders" and the way you try to tie that to pot.  "False" is the only retort to that, as anyone who knows anything about it knows that marijuana does not cause violence in the vast majority of people.  But then falsehood is the underlying current when it comes to drug education in this country, right?  Sort of like George W. politics; just lie enough and you will draw a certain amount of people in.  But the ones you draw are the frightened and uneducated, and then you shove more BS down their throats.  Our children are educated in ways they shouldn't be about DRUGS in the DARE program  Finally, you throw all the other drugs in and suddenly, you are saying what we always say.  


None Provided May 26, 2009 11:06 am (Pacific time)

"Marijuana has never caused a death over several thousand years of use." So DUII fatalities where the driver was under the influence of MJ doesn't count?

Read the last post.  We have no recotds of DUII fatalities that only involved marijuana 


Pariah Burke May 22, 2009 5:01 pm (Pacific time)

@Daniel without sources or factual data to back up the above story, it's this news agency creating a divisive, us versus the police mentality

Editor: Wow, where are you coming from?  There is no question about the facts stated in this article.  The best source is Jack Herer and we gave you the link.  There are many, many others.  You are coming from a defunct point of view and the last thing it was ever about was 'us versus them'.  Industry collaborated to bring about the laws against this natural plant.  You need to do a little research.

 

 


Pariah Burke May 22, 2009 5:00 pm (Pacific time)

You had there the beginning of a compelling story about police abuse of civil liberties. Regrettably you abandoned the original point of the story and switched in mid-stream to a completely different piece--an op-ed expressing your dissatisfaction with the illegality of marijuana. Did you interview the police officers performing the questionable roadside stops? Did you contact the OR State Police for comment? When and where was the hearing in which the Hispanic man's case was heard and subsequently dismissed?  Next you start a story, finish it. Your headline and dek caught attention, but you used them as a bait and switch to jump on a soapbox about the legalization of marijuana. I don't disagree with your position on that topic, but I also don't appreciate being suckered into reading your opinion on the matter. Unfortunately your low-on-facts, slanted, and shoddy article is not atypical of newspaper and online reporting these days. While mainstream media whines that they're losing readers and viewers to the Internet, they fail to recognize that they are themselves the cause. After all, a COMPLETE news story or factually supported editorial can more easily and reliably be found online amidst blogs and tweets than in the average mainstream newspaper or news broadcast.

Tim King:  This is slugged "Political Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com" and it is an opinion piece, clearly.  Sorry if that wasn't apparent to you.  I n addition to writing this, I am the person who publishes all of the news here and we have news and opinion like most news agencies.  Please understand that my intent with this, was publishing opinion.  By the way, we feature all kinds of stories about OSP and I think I can safely say that 98% of it is positive.  You probably know that there is pending legislation to allow DUII checkpoints and I see a connection with this type of enforcement.   I think you don't like it because it flies in the face of your belief system and that I can not help.  Just know that when I am critical about police matters in my writing, I do it with twenty years of dealings under my belt.  I am 100% behind every good and trustworthy law-abiding law enforcement officer in this nation.  If police in Oregon and other states believe using a drug dog on citizens is fair and civil, then we will have to agree to disagree. 

 Finally, if you watch or read my reports from the wars overseas, you will see the same type of ratio.  I am not always critical and when I am, I believe it is for good reason.  Thanks for your time.   


Vic May 20, 2009 6:57 am (Pacific time)

The police in Canby used to do this little dance...they would ask to search your car..if you said no, your refusal was "probable cause" , as they figured that if you didnt have anything, you wouldnt mind cops ransacking your car. They would threaten to hold you "for a couple of hours" until the drug dog got there...so most people would just go along with it to get it over with. We used to do all the signs for the City of Canby, but quit in protest a couple of years ago.


Daniel May 19, 2009 6:44 pm (Pacific time)

Jack Herer goes into detail with sources. This whole dog thing just creates more of a divisive police vs us mentality . What ever happened to SERVE and protect ? We the people pay the taxes that pay the salaries of those who are suppose to SERVE . There are plenty of violent hard core criminals who should be concentrated on and incarcerated , not time wasted harassing the tax payers using the states limited resources . If the police keep it up , eventually they will po enough people and their funding will be cut , or they may find themselfs in court ! Its a new day coming any many are pretty sick of the control games .


Source? May 19, 2009 3:07 pm (Pacific time)

Do you have a source for the connection between Mary Jane, Dow and DuPont?

Tim King: I think the very best is The Emperor Wears No Clothes by  Jack Herer; world class author and friend of Salem-News.com

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