Miami-Dade commissioners want to ban sales of ‘bath salt’ synthetic drugs

Miami-Dade commissioners are scheduled to take a preliminary vote Tuesday to outlaw the synthetic drug known as “bath salts,” and to back away from their original plan to ban candy-flavored tobacco products.

The votes come on the heels of the commission’s preliminary vote earlier this month to prohibit sales of synthetic marijuana.

The state has already outlawed specific chemicals in bath salts, but manufacturers have managed to sidestep state law by slightly altering the drugs’ chemical makeup. The county’s ordinance goes a step further, banning sales or displays for “anything structurally similar” to the banned compounds, said Assistant County Attorney Jesse McCarty.

The products, which are easily available at many convenience stores, go by colorful names like Blizzard, Blue Silk, Hurricane Charley, Ivory Snow and Snow Leopard.

The county’s ordinance calls for a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail for selling the product.

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Do Monetary Incentives, Not Public Safety, Drive Police Activity?

A new article from Radley Balko in the Huffington Post raises some serious questions involving our countries war on drugs.  It claims that federal anti-drug grants and state civil asset forfeiture laws drive police policies to arrest drug dealers (perferably after they’ve already sold and distributed their product onto the streets) in greater and greater numbers.  Even more daming, Balko claims these incentives force police departments to focus their resources on non-violent drug crimes and away from victim-driven violent crimes.
This article also mentions that police make it a habit of stopping people “who look suspicious” and frisk them or ask them to empty their pockets.  This stop and frisk is also called a Terry stop after the famous United States Supreme Court case which stated it was legal for an officer with reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to do a pat-down of the suspect’s outer clothing for the officer’s safety.
Also, Jessica Shaver, the woman mentioned in the article, was treated in an abhorent and degrading manner by the Chicago police.  During the raid of her apartment, the police were less than kind to her.  However, even when she was a victim of a crime, the police gave Ms. Shaver the run around, denying her access and information and forcing her to investigate her own case.  This was a shameful outcome.  That is why it is so important to seek the help of a good attorney, even when you are the victim of a crime, to help you fight for your rights.  It is unfortunate, but the reality is that whether because of misguided priorities, economics or just a plan lack of interest, you may need an advocate to help you get the attention you deserve from the police.
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US Supreme Court May Hear Miami "Dog Drug-Sniff" Case

The case of a Florida man arrested for allegedly trafficking in marijuana may be taken up by the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks. As some of you may be aware, the Miami-Dade Police Department arrested Joelis Jardines on charges of drug trafficking after a trained narcotics sniffing dog, Franky, alerted police to the presence of marijuana in the house. Police were originally alerted to suspicious behavior from an anonymous tip. The Florida Supreme Court, in Florida v. Jardines, found that using Franky the drug sniffing dog constituted an illegal search in violation of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, and suppressed all subsequently discovered evidence as fruit of the poisonous tree. Because of the “special status accorded a citizen’s home in Anglo-American jurisprudence,” the Court distinguished prior Federal case law holding warrantless dog drug sniff tests of luggage at airports and cars in traffic stops legal. Florida v. Jardines, No. SC08-2101, slip op. at * 39 (Fla April 14, 2011). In addition, the Court held the lack of a more extensive police investigation (the police only did a 15 minute surveillance of the home and observed the air conditioner running constantly and the blinds drawn) made it necessary to obtain a warrant.
In a particularly interesting exchange in his special concurrence, Justice Fred Lewis said that, “The scent of items cooking on a stove, the whiff of an air freshener, or even the foul smell associated with a ruptured sewage line are all intimate details of a home that are expected to remain private and unavailable to the public.” Id. at 43. So, for Justice Lewis at least, a dog sniff test can never occur without a warrant, since even the air emanating from a home is protected under the Fourth Amendment.
What do you think? Should the police be allowed to use a drug-sniffing dog without a warrant? Are smells and odors coming from a home meant to be private?  Would the fact that the AC was continuously running for 15 minutes in the middle of December when the surveillance occurred, change your opinion of the police investigation?  Let us know.
Here is a link to the actual Florida Supreme Court Opinion possibly before the US Supreme Court:
Here is a link to a recent Miami Herald article on this case:

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