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Google Caught On Private Property 668

nathan halverson writes "Google recently launched Street View coverage in Sonoma and Mendocino counties — big pot growing counties. And while they hardly covered the area's biggest city, Santa Rosa, they canvassed many of the rural areas known for growing pot. I found at least one instance where they drove well onto private property, past a gate and no trespassing sign, and took photographs. I didn't spend a whole lot of time looking, but someone is likely to find some pot plants captured on Street View. That could cause big problems for residents. Because while growing a substantial amount of pot is legal in Mendocino and Sonoma County under state law, it's highly illegal under federal law and would be grounds for a federal raid."
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Google Caught On Private Property

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  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @04:47PM (#24350893) Homepage Journal

    Most pot growing is still illegal under California Law []. Under Prop 215 [] you can grow pot for personal use provided your doctor has prescribed it.

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @04:55PM (#24350961) Homepage Journal
    its whatever local company they contracted to do that business. they contract different companies in every country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @04:57PM (#24350997)

    On the books, national. One of these cases went to the Supreme Court, and they backed the DEA.

    Thing is, the feds have no real way of knowing about most of the grow operations without the cooperation of local law enforcement. Or, apparently, Google.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:06PM (#24351093)

    I am by no means well versed in this area of law. However, it makes no sense to me whatsoever how under state law, the growing of pot is legal, but illegal under federal law. How can a state tell you that you are allowed to violate a federal law? And, what happens if the feds do raid? Would you be able to make an arguable case in court on the premise that the state in which you reside said it is ok to violate the federal law?

    It works like this, if the state has no law against it and policies in place, the majority of law enforcement (state troopers, county sheriffs, city police, etc.) don't bother you. The only way to get "busted" is if the FBI, BATF, etc. discovers what you are doing and goes after you. There is little the state can do to prevent that, but it makes it highly unlikely you will be arrested because the feds don't have the manpower.

    In at least one instance California was distributing medical marijuana through the state police, since state police are immune to federal prosecution for possession of illicit drugs in the course of their duty. Basically, it is just a way for a state to be as uncooperative with federal laws they disagree with.

  • Re:In other words (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:09PM (#24351131)
    Actually for incidental exposure in public you don't need a model release. Otherwise you would be royally screwed anytime you took a shot in a stadium, at the beach, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:15PM (#24351185)

    IANAL, but it's not particularly complex. It's quite easy for something to be legal in a state and illegal at a Federal level. States are not obliged to maintain mirror images of the Federal code, and it wouldn't be practical anyway.

    If the Feds raid, then the Feds raid. The case would be tried in a Federal court, and Federal law would apply. An argument based on state law would fail miserably, because no one would be accused of breaking state law.

    Think of a child in school; he can't stab his teacher and expect to get off simply because the school has no rules forbidding it. State law would still apply.

    Laws do not generally permit so much as they neglect to forbid.

  • by sleigher ( 961421 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:27PM (#24351313)
    From a case about Prop 215:

    1. The California Constitution, Article III Section 3.5 (c) states: "An
    administrative agency...has no power. . . (c) To declare a statute
    unenforceable, or to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that
    federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such
    statute unless an appellate court has made a determination that the
    enforcement of such statute is prohibited by federal law or federal

    3. The California Constitution, Article V Section 13 states: "It shall
    be the duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State
    are...adequately enforced." []
  • Re:In other words (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:29PM (#24351327)

    Here's a clue: not all laws are just, and not all laws should be obeyed.

    Dealing with unjust laws is what the courts are for.

    But not exclusively. We also have the executive branch, not to mention simple civil disobedience.

  • Re:Ok wtf? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ron Bennett ( 14590 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:30PM (#24351337) Homepage

    Yes! And does so quite well :)

    Many states spend huge sums, often in the millions of dollars, to seek out and eradicate wild, naturally growing cannabis. And they still can't beat cannabis - much of it keeps growing back no matter what they do.

    What's so sad, is that many governments spend lots of money in their quest to eradicate cannabis, which directly kills no one ... and yet they spend little to nothing to eradicate truly deadly weeds, such as Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium), which directly kills numerous people, often teens, every year. The drug war is all about money and control, not safety ... but I digress.


  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:31PM (#24351355) Homepage

    There are two sovereigns in play here, the regional California state government and the United States federal government.

    California, the regional government, has indicated that it doesn't violate California law, in some circumstances, to grow marijuana. California based law enforcement is under compulsion by state law to go after people growing marijuana in these circumstances.

    At the same time, however, there is a federal law that says that growing marijuana is illegal under all (I think, maybe excepting research?) circumstances. Federal law on this point preempts (trumps, overrules) state law on this point, thanks to the federal constitution.

    So, because federal law preempts state law on this point, the activity IS illegal in California. Federal law enforcement (mostly the FBI) have the authority to, and will, enforce the law in California. California law enforcement doesn't care as much, and hence is laid back about enforcement. I'm under the impression that state authorities still do have the power to enforce federal law, but don't hold me to that point.

    Now, there's also municipal (town, city, county) level legislation and enforcement, which adds yet another wrinkle to this mess.

    But yeah, in general, if the federal government makes something illegal, it's illegal nationwide regardless of what a state might say. The only impact of state legalization is that state enforcement will be non-existent for state laws and at least lax on federal law.

    Did that help at all?

  • Would you be able to make an arguable case in court on the premise that the state in which you reside said it is ok to violate the federal law?

    In a word, no. A number of people licensed to grow or sell medical marijuana by their local cities have been sent to federal prison, and I believe they couldn't mention their local-government blessing in federal court.

    There's a good article [] in today's LA Times. A guy who ran a dispensary is up on Federal charges, and at the top of the article is a photo of him cutting the ribbon with the whole city council standing with him. Boing Boing has some related coverage about the high school student with advanced cancer [] who Lynch was supplying with pot to help with pain and appetite loss. The feds are using that to push for a bigger sentence. Lynch probably won't even be able to use the term "medical marijuana" in court.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:58PM (#24351635) Homepage Journal

    Of course the federales can do a bust, but prosecuting people for trivial offenses which don't cross state lines is normally done on the State's dime; and I doubt the people of Wyoming want their taxes raised to keep all those California pot-heads in federal prisons if they manage to get a conviction.

    People in Wyoming mostly have common sense. People in Washington do not [].

  • by lixee ( 863589 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:02PM (#24351677)
    Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance Executive Summary National Highway Traffic Safety Administration By Robbe HWJ, O'Hanlon JF November 1993 [] Abstract Abstract: This report concerns the effects of marijuana smoking on actual driving performance. It presents the results of one pilot and three actual driving studies. The pilot study's major purpose was to establish the THC dose current marijuana users smoke to achieve their desired "high". From these results it was decided that the maximum THC dose for subsequent driving studies would be 300 mcg / kg (0.3 mg / kg). The first driving study was conducted on a closed section of a primary highway. After smoking marijuana delivering THC doses of 0, 100, 200, and 300 mcg / kg, subjects drove a car while maintaining a constant speed and lateral position. This study was replicated with a new group of subjects, but now in the presence of other traffic. In addition, a car following test was executed. The third driving study compared the effects of a modest dose of THC (100 mcg / kg) and alcohol )BAC of 0.04 g %) on city driving performance. This program of research has shown that marijuana, when taken alone, produces a moderate degree of driving impairment which is related to the consumed THC dose. The impairment manifests itself mainly in the ability to maintain a steady lateral position on the road, but its magnitude is not exceptional in comparison with changes produced by many medicinal drugs and alcohol. Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance and will compensate where they can, for example, by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THC's adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small. Marijuana Use and Driving By Robbe HWJ November 1994 [] Abstract Abstract: This article concerns the effects of marijuana smoking on actual driving performance. It presents the major results of one laboratory and three on-road driving studies. The latter were conducted on a closed section of a primary highway, on a highway in the presence of other traffic and in urban traffic, respectively. This program of research has shown that marijuana produces only a moderate degree of driving impairment which is related to the consumed THC dose. The impairment manifests itself mainly in the ability to maintain a steady lateral position on the road, but its magnitude is not exceptional in comparison with changes produced by many medicinal drugs and alcohol. Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight into their performance and will compensate where they can (e.g., by increasing distance between vehicles or increasing effort). As a consequence, THC's adverse effects on driving performance appeared relatively small in the tests employed in this program. Marijuana, Alcohol and Actual Driving Performance By Hindrik W. J. Robbe, Ph.D. and James F. O'Hanlon, Ph.D. 1999? [] In a previous series of studies on the effects of THC alone we concluded that THC given in doses up to 300 1lg/kg has "slight" effects on driving performance (Robbe & O'Hanlon, 1993). The results of the present study now compel us to revise that conclusion. The present subjects' performance was more affected than their predecessors'. The present subjects showed impaired car following performance after THC 100 1lg/kg whereas the previous ones were not impaired by doses up to 300 1lg/kg. In the present study, road tracking performance after 200 ~g/kg was worse than the performance after 300 ~g/kg in the previous study. We believe that these differences are attributable to the groups' respective experience with THC smoking and to driving under the influence of THC. The present group was less experienced and probably had not developed the same degree of behavioral tolerance as their predecessors. Yet
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:09PM (#24351735) Journal

    You are correct but there is a difference here between something being illegal and criminalized. If our ferderal government makes growning pot a crime, its a crime everywhere include the whole of CA. Now CA can decide its not going to enforce that federal law, or enforce it only conditionally, provided the codifiy the conditions they will enforce under ( still have to have due porcess and equal protection ).

    So you can be growning pot on your front porch in parts of CA and if a local cop rolls down the street he may very well do nothing, if a federal agent rolls down the street he can snap the cuffs on you. The reality is though in the United States it is local law enforcement that does most of the enforcing . Federal Agents don't work a beat, as a rule. The investigate and go after priority offenders, the guy growing fields of it or transporting it across multiple state lines running some sort of distribution network, not the guy who takes a hit or two from the stuff grown in his closet after work, that person will never be a federal priority.

  • Wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shandalar ( 1152907 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:23PM (#24351841)
    Releases are to avoid getting sued for violating someone's rights of publicity. You aren't required to do it because of some law. Do you really think Google is without lawyers? They obviously believe that they're within their rights to publicly post photographs of people who were photographed in public, just as I am within my rights to photograph people in public and post them. What I can be sued for is to use your likeness as the label for my products, as this violates your ability to control the use of your image for commercial purposes. Your photo sitting on the side of the road (harvesting pot plants, perhaps) sitting in a photo database that has to do with looking at a location and not to sell something? Google is doing Streetview perfectly correctly.
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#24352065) Homepage Journal

    State law takes precedence, according to our Constitution.

    You should try reading a document before you make statements about what it says. The constitution specifies many situations where federal law trumps state law: coinage, war powers, interstate commerce, etc. And these powers have gradually been expanded by amendment.

  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#24352073)

    ... to get to our property.

  • Re:In other words (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:51PM (#24352123) Journal

    It is not fruit of a poisonous tree because the police neither asked nor encouraged google to take the pictures.

    If the evidence of one crime is found in the commission of a second crime, that evidence can still be used because the evidence would be evidence of both the second and first crimes.

  • Re:Don't snitch.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmyrfield ( 1157811 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @07:14PM (#24352329)
    1. No kidding. Don't drive while impaired period. So you have a dumb friend.

    2. Second hand pot smoke doesn't get you high unless you're trying. The majority of the THC (the active ingredient) is absorbed by the lungs in the first 3 seconds, not to mention the fact that it is available and possible to consume in many other forms (baked goods, pills, topical lotions etc). And the "kids will try it more because it's legal" argument is a logical fallacy, plain and simple. Salvia is legal in many states (and Canada as well) and is there a salvia epidemic?

    I can stand the view of a nanny state as a good thing. Let people make their own informed decisions, and feel their own consequences.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @07:17PM (#24352355)

    Dealing with unjust laws is what the courts are for.

    No they are not. The courts implement, interpret, and enforce laws. They do NOT have the role of declaring a given law as being unjust.

    What have you been smoking (and those who modded you insightful)? Courts strike down laws all the time.

    Take a very recent case: the US Supreme Court struck down the Washington D.C. law banning all private ownership of handguns as being unconstitutional.

    And the dear public sitting in the jury benches has no freedom to comment on the law whatsoever.

    Also not true. A jury has the legal power to judge the facts of a case, but also can judge the law. If a jury believes that the accused broke the law, but that the law is fundamentally wrong, the jury can acquit and there is nothing the government can do about it.

  • Re:In other words (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @07:28PM (#24352431)

    Federal trumps state

    Not unless it's part of the US Constitution. The Tenth Amendment says that anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution is reserved to the states, and then the people.

    Congress can pass an amendment making pot illegal (like they once did making alcohol's why it had to be an amendment). The Feds can perform drug busts if the drugs cross state lines. Congress can do the speed limit and drinking age trick and withhold federal funds to california unless they change their laws. However, legally, they can't do shit if it is indeed legal in the state for those people to grow pot. If they try a bust, they will lose in court, which would be awesome to see.

  • Re:Don't snitch.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:01PM (#24352761)

    The British Government's scientists found that cannabis was less dangerous than nicotine or alcohol. []
    Still, driving under the influence of any drug is unsafe

    (They ignored the results, and reversed an earlier decision to make cannabis "less illegal", but that's irrelevant to the science.)

    I would gladly swap drunks on streets for stoned people. Stoned people, generally, talk a lot, or grin. Drunk people shout and fight.

  • Re:Don't snitch.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:12PM (#24352865) Journal

    Is that person seriously worried about a "contact high" effect? Does anyone believe that you can ingest enough cannibas from other people smoking it to impair your driving.

    Jesus, don't people learn anything in high school these days?

  • by Free_Meson ( 706323 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:15PM (#24352881)

    and the fact that the Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to prohibit growing crops for personal use (or even for intrastate commerce), and the the 9th Amendment (growing plants/crops on one's own land is a completely natural right).

    The supreme court has held that the interstate commerce clause gives congress the authority to regulate wheat grown on a farm for consumption on the same farm. That case would probably be decided differently if brought to the court now, but it's still the law of the land (and frequently tested on the bar exam). The name of the case escapes me or I'd give you a citation.

  • Absurdium (Score:3, Informative)

    by eh2o ( 471262 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:32PM (#24353073)

    OK, first of all no medical MJ patient in their right mind would grow OUTDOORS. The cops are not the only problem--there is also theft and even armed robbery.

    Second, Google needs to be extra careful in rural areas. There are many places where the roads are privately owned but may not be clearly marked (there is one in my home neighborhood in unincorporated Sonoma county, in fact). The county knows about these full well (they won't pave them, for example). Google needs to check the land ownership records before they publish pictures... but this has nothing to do with pot growing, nor did TFA...

  • Re:Don't snitch.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:42PM (#24353619) Homepage

    I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain pot doesn't give you "flashbacks"

  • by skulgnome ( 1114401 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @06:41AM (#24356497)

    No law from Brussels takes precendence over national laws of the EU member countries. The reason is simple. The EU cannot make _laws_, only _directives_.

    These do obligate member states to pass laws to the effect of something, but implementations vary very very widely: for instance Italy is infamous for wiping their arses with just about every directive that they don't happen to like (though they mostly have to do with Berlusconi's corruption rather than something righteous like legalized pot). This is the reason why e.g. laws passed in accordance to the EUCD can be very different in their anti-circumvention clauses across the EU members.

  • Re:Don't snitch.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2008 @06:52AM (#24356549)

    Here in Ireland the smoking ban was not so much for the customers as for people that have to work in these places. If you're a bartender and every bar allows smoking it forces you into a career change in order to avoid second hand smoke in your workplace

  • Re:In other words (Score:2, Informative)

    by muridae ( 966931 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:09AM (#24358039)
    You have no expectation of privacy when you are in view of a public place. So, no, they could not claim an unlawful search.

    If you are out in a park and I, as a photographer, take your picture and later see you were smoking crack in that picture, I could turn it in to the police and it could be used as evidence. If you have pot growing in your window, visible from the road, I could take a picture and send to the cops. Same thing, visible from a public place. Chances are, though, I would just shred said pictures unless the guilty party was handing out the drugs to 3 year olds or something.

    In this specific incident, the parties involved should just sue Google for breach of privacy. Google could turn over pictures to the police, so get the pictures out of Google's possession. File a suit and get the pictures destroyed before that has a chance to happen. And, for added measure, get a punitive damage attached to 'failure to destroy the pictures.' Then, if Google gets a court summons to turn over pictures that had been destroyed, they will be paying for legal defense as well as data recovery.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."