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Federal Judge Blocks "Kansas Two-Step" Traffic Stops, Ecuador President Ends De Facto Drug Decriminalization, More... (11/27/23)

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German marijuana legalization is headed for a final parliamentary vote this week, the Ukrainian medical marijuana bill is being blocked by hundreds of "spam" amendments, and more.

Honduran troops seize a coca field. (HPM)
Law Enforcement

Federal Judge Blocks Kansas Highway Patrol from Detaining Motorists Without Reasonable Suspicion. A federal judge last week entered a permanent injunction against the Kansas Highway Patrol, warning troopers to stop detaining motorists without reasonable suspicion.

The Highway Patrol had become notorious for its "Kansas Two-Step," where officers would use delaying tactics to keep motorists on the side of the road long enough for them to engage in unwarranted drug investigations. The tactic was aimed especially at cars with out-of-state license plates heading to or from Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

The judge in the case had already ruled that the Highway Patrol was violating the Fourth Amendment's proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures.

"Defendant was responsible for a policy or practice which unlawfully detains motorists in Kansas (especially out-of-state motorists) without reasonable suspicion or consent, based on out-of-state residency and — to more than a minimal extent — based on travel plans that are not implausible or inherently contradictory," Judge Kathryn Vratil said.  "Defendant was responsible for a policy or practice of using the Kansas Two-Step to extend traffic stops of motorists in Kansas without reasonable suspicion and without the motorists' knowing, intelligent and voluntary consent."

"The Kansas Highway Patrol is not above the law," said Sharon Brett, the state ACLU legal director. "While KHP made various attempts to side-step accountability for its practices and put off this injunction, the Constitution has prevailed."


Ecuador's New President Repeals Guidelines that Effectively Decriminalilzed Small-Time Drug Possession. Less than 48 hours after being sworn into office, incoming President Daniel Noboa has repealed criminal justice guidelines that eliminated penalties for people found carrying personal use amounts of illicit drugs.

Noboa had campaigned with a promise to fight drug trafficking, and he characterized the move as working toward that goal. In a statement, his office said the guidelines "encouraged micro-trafficking"and characterized them as a "harmful element for Ecuadorian society."Noboa also directed the ministries of interior and public health to develop "coordinated information, prevention and control programs on the consumption of narcotic and psychotropic substances"and to offer treatment and rehabilitation to "habitual and problematic occasional users."

The guidelines had effectively decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, 2 grams of cocaine paste, 1 gram of cocaine, 0.10 grams of heroin and 0.04 grams of amphetamine. They were adopted in 2013 under the presidency of Rafael Correa, who argued that drug use was a public health problem and that prisons should not be filled with drug users.

German Lawmakers Reach Agreement on Revised Marijuana Legalization Bill, Final Vote Expected This Week. Lawmakers have reached an agreement to revise a marijuana legalization bill to address concerns from reform supporters, setting the stage for a final vote in the Bundestag later this week.

A Green Party lawmaker, Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, said on Monday that following "intensive negotiations," the bill is being changed in several key ways that will "make the law even better. In the negotiations, we managed to find practical regulations that guarantee the protection of young people and health and make the decriminalization of adult consumers a reality," she said.

One change is that possessing slightly more marijuana than the amount allowed will not automatically be treated as a criminal offense, with possession of between 25 and 30 grams treated as an administrative violation. Likewise, the possession limit for marijuana at home is doubled from 25 to 50 grams, with possession of up to 60 grams treated administratively.

Lawmakers also agreed to legalize marijuana in stages, with possession and home cultivation legal for adults beginning in April. Social clubs that could distribute marijuana to members could now start to open in July.

After the legalization bill passes the Bundestag, lawmakers will work on creating a system for legal, regulated sales. That will happen while they wait for a concurring vote in the Bundesrat, a separate body that represents the states.

Honduran Security Forces Seize 68,000 Coca Bushes. Honduran Military Police reported over the weekend that they had seized 68,000 coca leaf bushes in Las Brisas de Olancho, in the department of Yoro. They also discovered a wooden hut they said was used as a drug processing center. It contained several barrels of gasoline and other substances, scales, sacks used to transport coca leaves, and paddles used to press the coca leaf mixture.

Coca has traditionally been grown in the Andes in South America, but in recent years, sporadic busts of coca plantations in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico have been recorded. More rare are seizures of processing lab, even crude ones.

Ukrainian Medical Marijuana Bill Blocked by Hundreds of Spam Amendments. A long-awaited bill to legalize medical marijuana that was supposed to see a final vote last week has been held up as members of one party filed hundreds of "spam" amendments to delay passage.

The bill has the support of President Volodymr Zelensky and was expected to easily pass in a final reading—until the big stall emerged. It is the fault of the Motherland Party, whose members filed 226 amendments designed to "exhaust" the process and "deprive the law of votes," said MP Olga Stefanyshina.

"The bill on medical cannabis is blocked in the Council."

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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