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DEA Warns E-Sellers on Pill Presses, Indiana Sees Another Year With No Pot Law Reforms, More... (2/28/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1206)
Politics & Advocacy

Big city mayors in the Netherlands take different lines on drug use, Maryland lawmakers fend off an effort to let cops once again search vehicles because of the smell of weed, and more.

Marijuana Policy

Maryland GOP efforts to reinstate a law allowing vehicle searches over the odor of weed has come up short. (Creative Commons)
Indiana Sees No Progress on Marijuana Law Reform for Another Year. Last year, for the first time, the state legislature gave a hearing to a marijuana reform bill, one that would have decriminalized two ounces or less of weed. But if anyone thought that signaled changing times on pot policy in the state, this year's legislative session has proven them wrong.

This year, at least 10 marijuana bills calling for decriminalization, legalization, or medical marijuana were filed -- and promptly went nowhere. None of them made it out of committee in the GOP-dominated House and Senate.

Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo), who coauthored five of those bills, remains optimistic: "We're going to get there at some point," he said.

Maryland Democrats Fend Off GOP Attempt to Reinstate Odor of Marijuana as Grounds for Vehicle Search. A hearing Tuesday on an effort by Republican lawmakers and prosecutors to reinstate the odor of marijuana as grounds for a vehicle search likely marked the end of that effort. In the hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, Republicans warned that the current law forbidding such searches was protecting criminals and that Senate Bill 396 could rectify that situation.

"Criminals are savvy in most cases," said bill sponsor Rep. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick County). "If I was going to transport drugs or guns through Maryland, I'd light up a joint and do it. You know why? Because my chances of them actually convicting me on all that other stuff would be very slim."

But Democrats, who control the legislature, said such a move would just be an excuse for police to harass Black drivers.

"What I'm talking about is how you can find that there's more African American people that's been charged with having cannabis [in their cars] in the past, and you don’t want to bring it up now," said Rep. Frank Conaway Jr. (D-Baltimore) as he skirmished with Pippy.

The committee took no action on the bill, effectively assigning it to the dustbin of history.

Drug Policy

DEA Issues Letter to E-Commerce Companies on the Sale of Pill Presses Used to Make Fentanyl Pills. The DEA on Monday sent a letter to e-commerce companies regarding the sale of pill presses. As regulated entities under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), e-commerce platforms are generally required to comply with CSA recordkeeping, identification, and reporting requirements on the distribution, importation, and exportation of pill press machines.

In a press release announcing the letter, the agency noted that: "The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented drug poisoning epidemic. In 2022, approximately 110,757 Americans were killed by drug poisonings. Approximately 70% of these drug poisonings involved fentanyl... With [pill presses', criminal actors are able to produce pills that look like legitimate prescription medication... but are not. Those pills actually contain fentanyl and other deadly drugs."

DEA noted that it had seized more than 79 million fake pills containing fentanyl and that seven out of 10 of those pills contained a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl. It also noted in response to the agency's 2019 Industry Liaison Project, several prominent businesses including Amazon and Etsy banned the sale of the presses.


Rotterdam Mayor Calls for Crackdown on Middle-Class Drug Use. As the Netherlands reels from the specter of prohibition-related violence, the mayor of Amsterdam recently called for the legalization and regulated sale of cocaine, but the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is taking the opposite tack and demanding that police take a tougher line on cocaine use.

Rotterdam, home to Europe's largest port, is a major hub of cocaine trafficking.

"I think we have been negligent about this dimension [of drug users], society as a whole, not just in the Netherlands but also in Europe," Aboutaleb said. "This is because cocaine has mainly been used in the higher echelons of society. And that has been seen as less serious, just as crime in higher echelons is often seen as less serious. There is an advanced form of acceptance and socialization around cocaine."

Unlike Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, Aboutaleb does not believe legalization is the answer. "Pleas to regulate or legalize drugs… ignore the fact that entire groups of young people in our working-class neighborhoods are confronted with this misery and are corrupted. The phenomenon of high-class users enjoying a line on a Friday night has heavy repercussions in working-class neighborhoods. I don't want to close my eyes to this anymore: I'm putting it on the agenda," he said. "And I question that acceptance of use. I have no problem with accepting that people have different theories. But I don't want to put a banana and an apple and a line of coke on the same shelf, with a government stamp: 'all good.'"

He is even down on legalized marijuana: "We've been too relaxed about cannabis for a long time. You can buy cannabis when you are 18 years old, while everyone knows that cannabis affects the growth of your brain until the age of 25. But there is also no social debate about it. We just merrily plough on."

Aboutaleb leaves office later this year after serving for 15 years.

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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