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NH Pot Legalization Bill Still Lives, Deadly Bomb Strikes Taliban Opium Eradicators, More... (5/9/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1211)
Consequences of Prohibition

Mayor Eric Adams (D) is heralding a crackdown on illicit pot shops in New York City, the Supreme Court demurs on faster hearings in asset forfeiture cases, and more.

The Supreme Court rejects a call for faster asset forfeiture hearings in two cases where cars were seized for offenses the owners did not commit. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire Marijuana Legalization Effort Still Alive. Weeks after being declared "dead on arrival" in the Senate, a House-passed marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 1633 has come back to life and is now closer to what Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has said he can live with.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to overhaul the House bill, replacing it with an amended version that more closely adheres to Sununu's desires: a franchise model capping the number of stores at 15, local control over allowing pot shops, and limits on franchisees lobbying the legislature.

The measure won the backing of Democrats even though they objected to its tougher treatment of public consumption.

"The vast majority of our constituents believe that cannabis should not be illegal," said state Sen. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst).

But the bill's prospects are still clouded. Both Senate President Jeb Bradley (R) and Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson (R) say they remain opposed to legalization. Carson even suggested that Granite Staters who want to buy weed "just go across the border and drive home."

New Hampshire is the only New England state to maintain pot prohibition.

New York City Crackdown on Illicit Pot Shops. Municipal authorities have launched what they are calling a city-wide crackdown on illicit pot sales, with sheriff's deputies and police visiting at least 20 locations suspected of unpermitted marijuana sales and padlocking the doors of one shop in Tribeca.

Hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of unpermitted pot shops operate in the city. Mayor Eric Adams (D) put the number at 2,800 as he vowed to go after them.

"The team is going to be ready to go hit those 2,800," the mayor said Tuesday. "We have a lock with your name on it."

The clampdown comes after the legislature granted officials new powers to crack down on the illicit market, which has thrived as the state struggled to get the legal market up and running since legalization in 2021.

Adams had earlier vowed to shut down all illicit pot shops "within 30 days" of receiving the new powers to do inspections and lock violators' doors. But on Tuesday, he declined to reiterate that promise or say how many have been shut down so far.

Asset Forfeiture

US Supreme Court Declines to Require Quicker Asset Forfeiture Hearings. In the cases of two women whose vehicles were seized for drug offenses when their owners were not driving them, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the women were not entitled to immediate hearings to reclaim cars that were seized for crimes they did not commit.

In the case of Halima Culley, her 2015 Nissan Altima was seized when police caught her son with marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a loaded weapon; in the case of Lena Sutton, a friend was driving her 2012 Chevy Sonic when police found methamphetamine in the vehicle. Both women filed class actions against the state and local governments for violating their due process rights by not providing prompt hearings on the seized vehicles.

But "the court's precedents already require a timely hearing," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority. "Congress and the States have long authorized law enforcement to seize personal property and hold it until a forfeiture hearing," he said. "The absence of separate preliminary hearings in civil forfeiture proceedings -- from the Founding until the late 20th century -- is weighty evidence that due process does not require such hearings."

But three justices -- Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Sonia Sotomayor == dissented, saying the court went further than the narrower question that was presented and that the decision hamstrings lower courts from addressing what Sotomayor called the myriad abuses of the civil forfeiture system.

"In short, law enforcement can seize cars, hold them indefinitely, and then rely on an owner's lack of resources to forfeit those cars to fund agency budgets, all without any initial check by a judge as to whether there is a basis to hold the car in the first place," she said.

The case is Culley v. Marshall, U.S., No. 22-585.


Three Taliban Killed in Bomb Attack on Opium Eradication Operations. Just a day after national and provincial Taliban officials said unrest over opium eradication in Badakshan province had died down, three Taliban security personnel were killed when a bomb-laden motorcycle was exploded amidst their eradication operations.

"The explosion took place as the police convoy was passing for the purpose of opium poppy eradication," said interior ministry spokesman Abdul Matin Qaniee, adding that five other people were injured.

After years as the world's primary source of opium, the Taliban banned the trade in 2022 and are attempting to strictly enforce the crackdown this year. But the ban has a deleterious impact on hundreds of thousands of peasants and rural laborers who depend on the poppy for a livelihood, and unrest has roiled the province in recent days. At least two people were killed earlier in clashes between the Taliban and protesting farmers.

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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