Why Libertarians Should Be Wary of Brexit ‘Victory’: New at Reason

Many American libertarians have lauded British voters’ decision to leave the European Union. After all, any blow to such a federal structure must be good for liberty, right? Not so fast, writes Johan Norberg. Many European libertarians view Brexit as a dangerous blow to openness and free trade that removes one of the strongest voices against E.U. centralization from the negotiating table in Brussels.

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Despite Medical Marijuana, Pot Smell Justifies Searches in Arizona

In a pair of cases decided yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the smell of marijuana still generally supplies probable cause for a search in that state, nothwithstanding the legality of medical use. Since the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) allows possession and cultivation only for people who meet specified conditions, the court reasoned, “the odor of marijuana in most circumstances will warrant a reasonable person believing there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime is present.”

One of the cases involved Ronald Sisco, whose indoor growing operation at a Tucson storage facility was discovered in 2013 after police obtained a warrant based on “a strong odor of fresh marijuana.” The other case involved Ian Cheatham, whose car was pulled over in 2013 based on suspicion of illegal window tinting and searched based on a “pretty strong” odor of burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle, in which police found a small amount of pot under the driver’s seat. Both defendants argued that in light of AMMA—which allows a patient with a state-recognized “debilitating medical condition” and a doctor’s recommendation to possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana and to grow up to 12 plants at home if he lives more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary—what used to be incriminating smells no longer suffice to justify a search. The court disagreed (citations omitted):

AMMA did not decriminalize the possession or use of marijuana generally….Instead, AMMA makes marijuana legal in only limited circumstances. Possession of any amount of marijuana by persons other than a registered qualifying patient, designated caregiver, or medical marijuana dispensary agent is still unlawful, and even those subject to AMMA must strictly comply with its provisions to trigger its protections and immunities. Thus, when an officer detects marijuana by sight or smell, the “degree of suspicion that attaches” remains high, notwithstanding AMMA. A reasonable officer is therefore justified in concluding that such sight or smell is indicative of criminal activity, and thus probable cause exists.

The court added that other considerations, such as the presentation of a patient ID card issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services, might negate what would otherwise be odor-based probable cause. “Because probable cause is determined by the totality of the circumstances, and marijuana possession or use is lawful when pursuant to AMMA,” it said, “a reasonable officer cannot ignore indicia of AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use that could dispel probable cause.” Neither Sisco nor Cheatham was a state-registered patient.

If Arizona did “decriminalize the possession or use of marijuana generally,” the court noted, “our analysis and conclusion in this context might well be different.” Courts in Alaska and Massachusetts have ruled that decriminalization means the smell of pot by itself is no longer provides probable cause for a search. An initiative that is expected to be on Arizona’s ballot in November would legalize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana for recreational use.

A lawsuit filed yesterday by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and other prohibitionists seeks to block that initiative. Among other things, the plaintiffs argue that the initiative summary presented to petition signers is legally indadequate and that the measure violates the state constitution’s Gift Clause by giving licensing preference to current operators of medical marijuana dispensaries.

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A.M. Links: Bernie Expected to Endorse Hillary Today, Trump Still Deciding on Running Mate

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Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Party Hold Two-Day Festival Against Free Speech

Yesterday, as normal Americans were wrapping up their work day, gearing up for baseball’s home-run derby, or playing cell-phone video games in the park, 19 senators from the Democratic Party began taking to the floor of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to express their collective “disapproval” of the way 33 organizations speak about climate change, and to urge these allegedly “interconnected” groups to cooperate maximally with various ongoing government investigations into their uncorrect opinions. The purpose of this two-day name-and-shame exercise, the senators bragged in a press release, is “to call out Koch brothers- and fossil fuel industry-funded groups that have fashioned a web of denial to block action on climate change.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a co-sponsor of the concurrent resolution under discussion, embodied the spirit of the exercise yesterday by decrying oil companies’ “huge secret contributions” to “fake-science think tanks,” which are “so dangerous” because they enable politicians “to keep right on blocking meaningful action while the earth slowly chokes on its own filth”:

The #WebOfDenial/#TimetoCallOut exercise, designed openly to criminalize one side of a public policy debate by using such grossly inappropriate statutes as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), continues into its second day with an attack that adds illiteracy to intimidation: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) this afternoon is scheduled to decry those scurvy climate denialists at…um, the Reason Foundation?

Even Jane Mayer’s 2010 New Yorker hit piece on the Koch Brothers, the ur-text of modern Kochspiracy-mongering, knew well enough to keep Reason—on whose Board of Trustees David Koch sits—out of the whole, they’re-just-into-libertarianism-in-order-to-pollute narrative. For the easily discoverable reason that calling Reason a climate-change denialist is like calling Barbara Boxer a Republican. Since the targets of this shaming exercise are not being afforded the courtesy to rebut the charges in the forum at which they are being smeared, consider this a prebuttal: Sen. Boxer, if you present the Reason Foundation as a climate denier on the Senate floor, you will be lying. About one of your constituents.

But make no mistake: This coordinated campaign would be an assault on free speech even if it were not drenched in conspiratorial inaccuracy. Democratic lawmakers, attorneys general, and activists are systematically singling out free-market think tanks for potential criminal prosecution and one-sided disclosure requirements based on the content of the think tanks’ research and commentary. They are literally trying to criminalize dissent. If successful, they will establish as “fraud” or “racketeering” any future think-tank work that runs afoul of political orthodoxy. President Trump will have a helpful precedent to sic his Justice Department on groups that advocate for free trade and open immigration. George Soros will no longer get away with his current levels of foundation transparency.

Sadly, this heavy-handed act of government intimidation will likely go as unnoticed as Hillary Clinton’s long track record against free speech. Why? Because generally speaking both the mainstream press and the organized left reserve their First Amendment outrage for politicians they disagree with. Their silence is shameful, and deafening.

The senators’ action this week is no hyperbolic one-off: Prosecuting ungood climatology is baked right into the Democratic Party Platform. The two major Democratic nominees for president agree. There was a time when lefties at least pretended to be the political bloc that most favored free speech. The best you can say about this latest episode is that they’ve finally dropped the pretense.

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Bursting the Pentagon Spending Bubble (New at Reason)

Jets!If you find yourself convinced that a presidential vote for a candidate not named either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is simply a waste, you had better also be convinced that more massive military spending is the “smart power” needed to “Make America Great Again.” 

The standard-bearers of the Republican and Democratic parties are on record saying they would oppose any cuts in defense spending. Worse, the (at least in theory, and on only occassion) supposedly less-interventionist Trump has pledged to make the military commit war crimes, while Clinton has never met a military misadventure she didn’t endorse.

In a new column by appearing in the August/Septmeber 2016 issue of Reason, Veronique de Rugy takes on both fear-mongering and recklessly wasteful expenditures:

There’s also an exaggerated sense that the security of individual Americans is existentially threatened. Both Democrats and Republicans on the campaign trail contribute to this collective anxiety. “We live in a complex and dangerous world!” Clinton told a March rally in Seattle. Speaking before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in February 2015, former Republican candidate Jeb Bush insisted that America needs “a military equal to any threat,” while Marco Rubio’s campaign website informed us that the “world has never been more dangerous than it is today” and that “Nothing matters if we aren’t safe.”

This is crazy. The United States has wide oceans to the east and west and friendly neighbors to the north and south, and is decidedly not at risk of being invaded by its enemies any time soon. And as Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen pointed out in Foreign Affairs last November, Americans are more likely to be crushed to death by their televisions and furniture than to be killed in a terrorist attack.

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Occupational Licensing Reform Becomes a Cause Both Republicans and Democrats Can Love: New at Reason

There’s positive bipartisan movement toward occupational licensing reform.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

The White House recently announced $7.5 million in grants to organizations working to reduce licensing requirements and make those that remain portable across state lines.

“Today nearly one-quarter of all U.S. workers need a government license to do their jobs,” a White House press release publicizing the grants noted. “The prevalence of occupational licensing has risen from less than 5 percent in the early 1950s with the majority of the growth coming from an increase in the number of professions that require a license rather than composition in the workforce.”

The proliferation of licensing rules tends to “artificially create higher costs for consumers and prohibit skilled American workers like florists or hairdressers from entering jobs in which they could otherwise excel,” the release continued.

The announcement by a Democratic president came just a month after Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed several bills “to begin the elimination of burdensome licensure of scores of odd jobs—regulations that are often designed to kill competition or keep out the little guy, including the elimination of licenses for talent agents.”

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Britain Should Emulate Singapore: New at Reason

As the United Kingdom prepares to exit the European Union, it ough to emulate Singapore, which separated from the Malaysian Federation in 1965.

Marian Tupy writes:

Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the Conservative Party’s leadership race ensures that Home Secretary, Theresa May, will become the next Prime Minister of Great Britain, on Wednesday afternoon. What should May’s priorities be?

First, she should endorse Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s suggestion to cut the corporate tax rate from its current 20 percent rate to a 15 percent rate, which would make it the second lowest corporate tax rate in the OECD. In fact, she should go even lower and match Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate. That way, the newspapers will not write about a “tax-cut,” but instead about the “lowest” tax rate in the rich world. A low corporate tax rate will indicate to the rest of the world that Britain will retain its business-friendly environment.

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Brickbat: When Life Hands You Lemons

LemonadeIn Ottawa, an officer of the National Capital Commission shut down a lemonade stand run by Eliza Andrews, 7, and her sister Adela, 5, for not having a permit. But when their dad later went to buy a permit, and after local media had picked up the story, the commission decided to waive the $35 fee.

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Colorado Pot Regulation Amendment Pulled By Its Own Supporters

A proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would have placed restrictions on marijuana businesses was withdrawn last Friday by the amendment’s supporters.

Proponents of the motion, Initiative 139, pulled the measure, citing the financial power of the marijuana industry as the main reason.

If Initiative 139 had made it onto the ballot, voters could have approved new regulations in November. The amendment would have required:

  • retail marijuana to be sold in child-resistant packaging;
  • edible marijuana products to be sold in individual, single-serving packaging;
  • health warnings to be placed on the packaging of retail marijuana and marijuana-infused products; and
  • the THC potency of the products on the market to be limited to 16 percent.

This measure was met with sharp opposition from industry as well as supporters of pot legalization, who formed the Colorado Health Research Council to argue that it would do more harm than good for Coloradans.

“Less than 20 percent of products currently on the market would still be legal for sale, and all extracts and concentrates would be illegal,” the group posted on its website. “This will decimate tax revenue, which was almost $140 million just last year.” (The state actually raised closer to $135 million in pot tax revenue and fees in 2015, according to The Denver Post.)

The council also called the measure “poorly drafted,” adding that it could be seen as applying to both retail and medical marijuana, thus impacting those who use the substance to treat health conditions.

In order to combat this initiative, the group raised $368,000 and spent around $33,000, according to financial reports. Many of the donations came from parties connected to the state’s marijuana industry.

With the financial odds against them, supporters of Initiative 139 stood down, but they say they’re not going away anytime soon. They’ve formed a new group called the Healthy Colorado Coalition, whose mission is “to hold Big Marijuana accountable.”

“The commercialized marijuana industry once again showed that they are willing to put their profits ahead of the safety of our children and our communities,” said former high school principal Ron Castagna in a statement announcing the decision to pull the amendment. “At least for now, the racketeers have won. The Marijuana Moguls put a pile of campaign cash on the table and won. Our kids, and our communities are in crisis, for now.”

The group could not be reached for comment.

Despite the focus on protecting kids, placing more regulations on the market is unlikely to stop young people from smoking pot. Nearly four years after legalization was approved in the state, the rate of marijuana use among Colorado teens has remained flat, The Denver Post reported in June.

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Do We Live in a Nation Riven Asunder Over Race, Policing and Crime?

Tonight’s Kennedy (Fox Business Network at 8 p.m. ET, with a repeat at midnight) will be focused, as one can imagine, on the police controversies of the week. I will be on the main panel along with Red Eye‘s Joanne Nosuchinsky and comedian Joe DeVito talking about the politicization of police abuse, the ethics of cop-robots, and suchlike. Also coming under consideration will be Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s latest notorious interview, plus some new scare about e-cigarettes.

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