freedom of information act

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U.S.: Drug Deportations Tearing Families Apart

HumanRightsWatchMelidaRuiz

Thousands of families in the United States have been torn apart in recent years by detention and deportation for drug offenses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday. Disproportionately harsh laws and policies relating to drug offenses can lead to deportation for lawful permanent residents and unauthorized immigrants alike.

The 93-page report, “A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses,” documents how the United States regularly places legal residents and other immigrants with strong ties to American families into deportation proceedings for drug offenses. Often, those offenses are decades old or so minor they resulted in little or no prison time.

Deportations after convictions for drug possession in particular have spiked, increasing 43 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to U.S. government data obtained by Human Rights Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Even as many U.S. states are legalizing and decriminalizing some drugs, or reducing sentences for drug offenses, federal immigration policy too often imposes exile for the same offenses,” said Grace Meng, senior U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Americans believe the punishment should fit the crime, but that is not what is happening to immigrants convicted of what are often relatively minor drug offenses.”

Illinois Considers Expanding Disease List For Medical Marijuana Program

IllinoisMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program. Among the conditions requested to be added are anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Petitioners identifying themselves as combat veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, according to 269 pages of petitions obtained by Carla K. Johnson at The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. The state redacted the names of petitioners before releasing the documents, to protect patients' privacy.

“I am a Vietnam Vet and can only imagine how things would have been,” wrote one PTSD petitioner. “While visiting in Colorado I had the benefit of trying cannabis in candy form…. and I felt wonderful. No thoughts of violence, self-deprecation, or hopelessness. My life would be different today.”

Illinois law lists cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS as qualifying conditions for cannabis, but is more restrictive than most other medical marijuana states. The Illinois Department of Health must approve any additions to the list.

An advisory board of doctors, patients, nurses and a pharmacist is looking over the petitions, and will make a recommendation after a public hearing on May 4. People can submit petitions twice each year, in January and July.

Washington: Military Department Paying $110K To Settle Marijuana Activist's Suit

NationalGuardCounterDrugProgram[FredsPatchCorner]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington state Military Department has agreed to pay $110,000 to a King County marijuana activist and a Seattle attorney to settle a long-running public records lawsuit centered around the Washington National Guard's counterdrug task force.

Activist John Worthington of Renton and attorney William Crittenden sought the release of flight records and other documents, reports Adam Ashton at the Tacoma News Tribune.

Worthington, 51, had tried to get the records since 2008 under Washington's Public Records Act, which applies to state agencies. King County Sheriff's deputies seized six marijuana plants from Worthington's home in 2007.

"They went after me because I'm an activist, and I've been terrorized out of growing," Worthington told the Seattle PI at the time, reports Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. "I can't have my kids frisked like they're criminals. That was disgusting. I'm not Al Capone -- I'm a dad."

The National Guard wasn't involved in that raid, but Worthington views the Guard's involvement as a federal entity in a state counterdrug task force as a violation of federal law prohibiting military authorities from participating in domestic law enforcement.

U.S.: Huge DEA Program Revealed To Trace Americans' Locations With License Plates

YouAreBeingWatched(CafePress)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Big Brother is watching you. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has started a huge national license plate tracking program, and civil liberties advocates are not happy.

The DEA disclosed very few details, reports Bennett Stein at the American Civil Liberties Union, according to new documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The National License Plate Recognition program connects DEA license plate reading technology with that of other law enforcement agencies around the United States. The program, which already exists and has existed since 2008, but the DEA has provided very limited information to the public on the program's goals, capabilities and policies.

The ACLU in 2012 filed public records information requests in 38 states and Washington, D.C., seeking information about the use of automatic license plate readers. The organization's July 2013 report, "You Are Being Tracked," found that technology was being rapidly adopted, all too often with very little attention paid to the privacy risks.

In addition to filing public records requests with state agencies, the ACLU also filed FOIA requests with federal agencies, including the DEA. The new DEA records received by the ACLU this month are heavily redacted and incomplete, but they also provide the most complete picture yet of the DEA's burgeoning database.

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