On July 12, 2011 the Seattle city council took the first steps toward the regulation of medical-marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The city would require that "medical-marijuana operations get a city business license and comply with city land-use, fire safety, and other rules." (Martin) The state of Washington has had legalized medical-marijuana for 13 years, but the voter-approved law is scheduled to change on July 22, due to the governor's partial veto of a bill that would have legalized and regulated dispensaries and farms that grow marijuana. Governor Chris Gregoire's veto clearly makes medical-marijuana dispensaries illegal, and in response to the partial veto, the city of Seattle has taken the steps to regulate medical-marijuana dispensaries on their own.
The issue of medical-marijuana had become a major issue with the advance of medical technologies and treatments, specifically chemotherapy, but also other ailments such as AIDS. In July of 1998, a CNN news poll found that "a stunning 96% of respondents supported the medical use of marijuana." (CannabisMD) According to supporters, the use of marijuana can ease the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and lack of appetite. Since the late 1990's ten of thousands of seriously ill Americans now are considered to be physician-certified users of medical marijuana.
Whatever medicinal uses marijuana may have, it still is considered a Schedule I substance according to the federal government. This classification puts marijuana in the same category as LSD, PCP, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Heroin, and other very dangerous narcotics. Law enforcement has not been given proper protocols for dealing with those who obtain and use marijuana for medicinal purposes, even though cannabis collectives operate throughout America. This issue has also not been completely settled by the courts, as individual states and municipalities have been attempting to deal with the issue of medical-marijuana. According to supporters, at stake in this legal argument are no less than the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as defined in the United States Constitution. But there are also questions of patient's rights, doctor-patient confidentiality, rights of the disabled, and sovereign rights of the states to exist without federal interference.
With the partial veto of the new medical-marijuana bill by Governor Gregoire, the issue has once again become a controversy. Seattle's attempt to regulate medical-marijuana dispensaries is an attempt by a local government to counteract the actions taken by the state government. While the veto has clearly made marijuana dispensaries illegal in the state of Washington, Seattle is attempting to circumvent the state's ban on dispensaries by simply declaring that if they obey city ordinances, the dispensaries can stay in business. How this will be resolved is still uncertain, but as the situation is now, the city of Seattle will allow medical-marijuana dispensaries within city limits as long as they follow the rules of any other business. It will be up to the state to act to shut down these dispensaries, or simply look the other way in an attempt to "kick the can down the road" and see what the U.S. federal courts will do about this issue.
A federal court recently decided that Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, was liable for a racial profiling case and has been ordered to pay two Mexican men $200,000 in damages. Maricopa County deputies stopped the two men outside a landscaping company in February of 2009, and held them for three hours. A federal judge ruled that the deputies had no right to initially stop the two men, who have been identified as Julian and Julio Mora, and ordered the County to pay $200,000. Immigrant rights groups have called this a major victory for their cause and a blow against racial profiling.
In the law enforcement community, a "profile is a coherent set of facts - known conditions and observable behavior - that indicate a particular individual may be engaged in criminal activity." (History of Racial Profiling Analysis) It has been a long standing law enforcement tactic since the term "profiling" became associated with the interdiction of drug traffickers in the late 1970's. But a 1998 U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the New Jersey State Police raised the awareness that law enforcement was "singling out members of a racial or ethnic groups for relatively minor traffic or petty criminal offenses in order to question and/or search them for drugs, guns, or other contraband." (History of Racial Profiling) Since then, the issue of law enforcement singling out individuals of a specific racial or ethnic group has become a controversial subject with some, like Sheriff Arpaio, supporting the idea, while others opposing the idea as unconstitutional and racist.
The state of Arizona has become the center of the argument since the governor, Jan Brewer, sign a controversial anti-immigration bill into law in April of 2010. This law granted law enforcement broad powers to stop suspected illegal immigrants and search them for contraband. It also allowed for law enforcement officials to require proof of citizenship from suspected illegal aliens. This law has sparked off a bitter court battle between those who support the draconian measures, and those who feel they are a violation of the civil liberties of immigrants.
Sheriff Arpaio, the self proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," has come under criticism for his other types of harsh treatment of people under his authority, including making prisoners live in "tent cities" in the desert, as well as dressing his male prisoners in pink prison garb and forcing them to live on a diet of bologna sandwiches. While Arpaio's case did not fall under the new legislation, he has been accused of racial profiling in the past and the incident in question did occur in 2009.
But Sheriff Arpaio's current legal decision is an example of the controversy currently raging over this particular issue. While profiling has been a tried and true tactic of the police, the addition of racial. Or ethnic components, has created an entirely new controversy. In a nation divided over race and racial issues, the inclusion of race as a component of profiling conjures up the old days of police discrimination and racial suspicion. While the majority of Americans want to give the police the necessary tools to keep them safe, they do not want those tools to be misused against any particular racial or ethnic group. Racial profiling, because it has been abused by police in the past, can no longer be an effective means of law enforcement. There will always be the tinge of racism surrounding such a tool, and Sheriff Arpaio is learning that however well it can be used in the proper hands, it is no longer a law enforcement tool that is trusted by the public.
Baseball great and winner of seven Cy Young awards, Roger Clemens is on trial charged with perjury, obstructing Congress and making false statements. This trial stems from congressional hearings held three years ago that investigated the claims that HGH, human growth hormone and steroid use was prevalent throughout major league baseball in the 1990's. During the hearings, Clemens testified that "I have never taken steroids or HGH…I am just making it as possibly clear as I can. I haven't done steroids or growth hormone." (Serrano) However, the prosecutors will present evidence that not only did Roger Clemens use illegal performance-enhancing substances while playing baseball in the 1990's, but that he also knowingly lied before Congress in their investigations in the issue.
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 made it a crime for those who "distribute or possess anabolic steroids with the intent to distribute for any use in humans other that the treatment of disease based on the order of a physician." Despite this, Baseball Commissioner, Fay Vincent, did not announce that steroids were added to the league's list of banned substances until 1991. Throughout the 1990's players got around the ban on steroids by using substances that were just as effective but technically not on the list. Many players during this time went on to have record breaking seasons.
In early 2006, former major league player Jose Conseco released a book which detailed the rampant substance abuse in major league baseball, and how he personally injected several other players with performance enhancing drugs. Following this revelation, Congress opened hearings into the allegations of "sports doping," at which several current and former players testified. Roger Clemens was called to testify before congress, where he made unequivocal denials of drug use. In fact, every player testifying before these hearings either refused to comment on the allegations, or vehemently denied them. Many of those who denied using drugs before congress, like homerun record holder Barry Bonds, have been charged with a number of crimes related to their testimony. Roger Clemens is only the latest to face charges in regards to his testimony in the scandal.
This scandal was created when a single player, Jose Conseco, blew the lid on the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in major league baseball.…