US Appeals Court Rules: DEA Allowed Access to NH Opioid Database Without a Warrant

On January 27, 2022, the US Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard, ruled in “US Dep’t of Justice v. Jonas, No. 19-1243,” that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) can “legally” access New Hampshire’s prescription drug database via an administrative subpoena, not a warrant. This is despite New Hampshire and United States laws to the contrary.

While 48 states have submitted to maintaining a networked prescription database (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program / PDMP), most people would argue that their personal medical and prescription records are protected by the 4th amendment (“no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”) Personal healthcare and medical information is generally protected under doctor-patient confidentiality laws and is regarded as almost sacrosanct in the healthcare world (think HIPAA.) In this case, confidentiality was further supported by the 4th amendment to the US Constitution.

Overwhelming Support From the Liberty Community

Michelle Ricco Jonas, manager of the New Hampshire PDMP in 2018, refused the DEA’s request to fork over 2.5 years’ worth of prescription data of a “person of interest.” After being subpoenaed she argued that the records belong to the state, not an individual person. Since March 12, 2019, when the notice of appeal was docketed, Michelle Jonas and New Hampshire state received an outpouring of support from the ACLU of California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island – in other words, all the districts represented by the 1st Circuit Court.

Over the past two grueling years of appeal, the ACLU supported Jonas, and questioned whether issuing a subpoena to a state employee is within the bounds of the district court. They argued that medical records, for all intents and purposes, are considered private information. While the DEA has the ability to subpoena an individual, the ACLU asked if that gave them the right to subpoena a representative, or employee, of the state. They also argued that the 4th Amendment requires law enforcement “to obtain a warrant based on probable cause only to secure records over which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.” The ACLU argued that medical records warrant an expectation of privacy.

The prescription records at issue in this case reveal intimate, private, and potentially stigmatizing details about patients’ health, including details of those patients’ underlying medical conditions. For that reason, as with other medical records, people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in them.” – Summary of Argument, US Dep’t of Justice v. Jonas, No. 19-1243

 

So What Was the Loophole?

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NH HB 1022 – Permitting Pharmacists to Dispense Ivermectin Without a Prescription

Rep. Leah Cushman presents HB 1022 at the public hearing on 1/18/22

 

On January 12, 2022, Rep. Leah Cushman (R – NH) introduced New Hampshire HB 1022: an act permitting pharmacists to dispense the drug ivermectin by means of a standing order entered into by licensed healthcare professionals. The general argument is that many healthcare workers are unable to prescribe ivermectin, either because of hospital politics or outside pressures. This bill would override the need for a prescription for ivermectin, allowing everyone in New Hampshire to pick it up over-the-counter.

A public hearing for this bill took place on January 18, 2022. Rep. Cushman, House committee (Health, Human Services, & Elderly Affairs) members, doctors, and others took part in a lively discussion that spanned over two hours. The overall consensus appeared to be in favor of the bill, with a few speakers pleading that those who cannot (or do not) get the covid-19 vaccine need another readily-available, tried, and tested alternative.

The Benefits of Ivermectin Are Well Established

The only medicine for infectious diseases to win the Nobel Prize has recently been smeared in the mainstream media. Surprised? There are innumerable studies that have overwhelmingly shown the benefits of this drug to combat all types of disease. The difference is that now the media has portrayed it as livestock medicine, and nobody can seem to counteract the bad press–not even Joe Rogan.

However, most of those in attendance, including multiple committee members, fully supported pushing this bill further. Even those who believe that vaccines are the best option had to admit that withholding medicine to those who cannot or do not get the vaccine doesn’t make sense. In fact, people who have received the vaccine can benefit from ivermectin as well.

Dr. Paul Marik Was in Attendance

One speaker of note was Dr. Paul Marik, who traveled to the public hearing for NH HB 1022 all the way from Virginia.

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Update: New NH HB 1025 Aims to Limit Witnessing Police

This bill would give police the right to tell any person they must stay back at least 30 feet.

 

A new bill was introduced to the NH House on January 5, 2022 that, if passed, could have serious, far-reaching consequences for 1st amendment auditors and anyone attempting to witness or film police interactions in New Hampshire.  

Introduced by Rep. Al Baldasaro (R – Rockingham 5) and cosponsored by Rep. David LoveRep. Vanessa SheehanSen. Sharon CarsonSen. Bob Giuda, and other Republicans, the bill attempts to add an 11th section to Chapter 642 of the Criminal Code; (642:11 Impeding or Provoking a Law Enforcement Officer.) 

Update

NH HB 1025 was presented to the New Hampshire House Committee on January 19, 2022. Committee members voted unanimously to recommend ITL (inexpedient to legislate) status for this bill. Nineteen of the 21 members were present, with a final vote in favor of ITL: “Yea” – 19 votes; “Nay” – 0 votes; with 2 not voting. You can view the vote in the video below (48:35 – 52:10.)

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Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Bill to Have Second Hearing

Liberty Cap Mushrooms

HB 1349 is a bill that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms sponsored by Amherst Representative Tony Labranche. The bill had its first hearing in the Criminal Justice committee on January 11th, but while all the other bills heard that day got voted on, HB 1349 had a new hearing date scheduled. That means you have another chance to go and show your support for the bill on Thursday, January 20, 2022 in the Legislative Office Building in Concord at 9am. Alternatively, if you can’t make it you can email the committee and tell them to vote Ought To Pass.

The bill is very interesting because it is modeled word for word after the bill that decriminalized marijuana in New Hampshire. What argument does a member of this committee have against this bill? Psilocybin mushrooms are even safer for people and society than marijuana, according to Dr. David Nutt, former chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the UK.

I spoke at the hearing on January 11th and so did 4 others. The only person who spoke against this bill was a police lieutenant. How typical. The only person who didn’t want to see Granite Staters gain more freedom was a person who personally profits from the war on drugs.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court already decided that psilocybin use was constitutionally protected if you’re using it for religious practice or to worship god. My spiritual beliefs include worshiping the god in myself by allowing myself the ability to ascend beyond what and who I am now. Psilocybin is a great tool to do that and more people experiencing this medicine would help heal our community which is in part damaged by the war on drugs.

The bill: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/billText.aspx?id=1711&type=4

If would like to contact the committee hearing this bill use this email: HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us

Free Software: Something Most Libertarians & Socialists Agree On? Or Almost

On Tuesday a democrat in New Hampshire’s house introduced a bill in support of free software. The House Bill (HB) 1273 would be a step forward for software freedom. It proposes to help protect the user freedom of New Hampshire residents in a number of important ways.

  • Prohibits the state government from requiring residents to use proprietary software, whether in remote court appearances, tax filings, standardized test-taking, coursework in public schools, or matters relating to any state benefits
  • Forbid employers from using non-compete clauses to prevent their employees from contributing to free software
  • Prevents state agencies from mandating the use of non-free JavaScript
  • Prohibits NH law enforcement from participating in the investigation or prosecution of copyright claims brought by proprietary software developers against free software developers
  • Forms a state commission to promote the use of free software in state agencies

Now much of the legislation is a bit wishy-washy with no real teeth, but there are some parts that in theory if passed could have a beneficial impact on our freedom. Other parts could be a little more problematic for those who are libertarian and do not believe in the use of violence to achieve social and political objectives (outside that of a defensive nature anyway). Fortunately most of the bill is tailored toward government and is more defensive in nature than not. Some not so great parts would likely also not have much real world impact.

One part in particular should get libertarians everywhere excited. While it probably was not intended by the legislator proposing the bill, a democrat, it would none-the-less be an amazing step forward in reducing the harm of violent thugs in government. The bill would ensure that users have the right to access the source code for any device utilized in the creation of evidence. This would in effect result in evidence being thrown out whereby the government could not produce the source code to the device that created it. Evidence from such devices as radar guns would no longer be valid in court for all practical purposes. The reason for this is that the suppliers of such devices will not release such source code and thereby prosecutors won’t be able to comply with the law. Before the socialists get upset by this though it’s something everyone should be concerned about. It’s already well known that these devices are full of bugs and this would likely result in evidence being invalidated everywhere if the code were released- not just in NH- and so the device manufacturers would never want to do this short of significant improvements to the code. The solution is to pass this in more states and force manufacturers hand-else let this stand as a means of eliminating a law that should not be in that there is no party that can actually show injury.

To have any real chance of seeing this pass the legislation would likely need to be significantly trimmed. Some parts are problematic such as the forbidding of employers from using non-compete clauses to prevent their employees from contributing to free software for instance. This would likely be unpopular with many state legislators who otherwise support software freedom while also supporting ones right to negotiate a contract free of government interference. Maybe there is a way to put this into law that were more freedom-focused, like letting such terms be unenforceable via law, but either way much of the legislature isn’t going to want to interfere in the private affairs of employee-employer relations either way. I suspect this is likely to have little impact in either case given non-compete clauses within the free software world are already taboo and many of us (myself included) would not sign (or require it) such in an employment contract.

One interesting aspect of the bill is that it would prohibit NH law enforcement from partaking in investigation or prosecution of copyright claims against free software developers. While I can in good conscious support this and would go farther to argue for the elimination of copyright it’s unclear to me where this is currently an issue. Maybe it’s connected to the breaking of digital restrictions such as would be the case with something like DeCSS. A free software program that breaks encryption on commercial DVDs. This falls under copyright law and might be prosecuted by state agencies although that said it’s normally a federal offense. State law enforcement can generally however prosecute federal crimes as I understand it or otherwise partake in federal investigation and prosecution thereof. Of which is more common I do believe with civil asset forfeiture cases.

In spite of some of the issues with the legislation a small contingent of libertarians showed up to more or less in support the legislation as well as others from the free software community. One Jon “maddog” Hall, the Board Chair for the Linux Professional Institute, for instance came out and spoke in favor of the legislation.

Jon “maddog” Hall is the Board Chair for the Linux Professional Institute

The main theme surrounding the hearing seemed to be that of software security and the cost of implementation. New Hampshire’s head of IT for instance also spoke from what appeared to be a purchased lobbyist point-of-view. Declaring more or less that it would be of significant burden and cost to transition to free software (while saying they’re already using free software humorously). The opposing side of course pointed out the truth in that there is always a cost to migrate from one release of a program to another, but it’s not significantly different from that of migrating to free software. Not to mention that while free software isn’t about price, but the liberty, security, and control, this twisting and confusing of the bill was quite disingenuous. The long term costs are reduced as no license agreements need be acquired. Commercial support is generally available too despite the head of IT trying to confuse the reps by comparing commercial software to free software. These are for all intensive purposes one and the same. You can acquire commercial support from Redhat for instance for free software and even much of Microsoft’s own code is based on free software. This bill was about libre, not gratis where libre means freedom, and gratis means price.

While the head of NH IT argued against free software on the basis of features, commercial support, and security the reality is these are more often than not mute points given features can be added to free software unlike the proprietary software he favored. Security bugs can be fixed not at the whim of a particular company, but that of either, you, the community, or the commercial entity you contract with for said free software (example: Redhat). Yes- you can buy free software and many companies do. Just because something is libre doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t pay for its development/support. And unlike proprietary software free software can be seen, read, and audited by third parties with or without the consent of the company producing it (once released). These are the things that ensure security- not anti-virus software or proprietary software vendors of which the former is a kin to putting up a fence and expecting it to stop ants from coming onto your property. The head of IT didn’t stop there- even implying that free software was insecure through association with Bitcoin. While not said outright during the hearing he referenced recent socially engineered attacks on municipalities. Somewhat recently there were reports of municipalities being ‘hacked’- which were in reality social engineering attacks primarily involving the traditional banking system. It was only after the attacks occurred and the money paid by employees of the municipalities to criminals overseas that said money was utilized to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. If there is a flaw- it’s not the software- and it’s certainly not the result of it being libre.

Video Of The Hearing On House Bill (HB) 1273

Keene Police Lieutenant Advocates Mask Civil Disobedience

Jason Short Dodges DEA Questions

Jason Short, in 2014 outside Phat Stuff DEA raid.

In the most pleasantly surprising news of the year, the Keene Sentinel has broken a story about Keene Police lieutenant Jason Short advocating mass civil disobedience regarding the city’s recently passed mask mandate. Though the Sentinel piece appears to want to shock readers with Short’s opinions, those of us who have engaged with him over more than a decade of peaceful civil disobedience activism are proud to see his evolution.

The Sentinel reveals that Short posted the following to his facebook account:

“Remember the bad guys in movies don’t know they are bad, they think they are doing the ‘right thing’ for the benefit of society. It is only when the ‘good guy’ stands up to them that they realize they are wrong. Citizens need to stand up and stop simply complying to this nonsense mandates.”

The rest of the Sentinel piece is designed to gin up outrage that a police officer dared to openly speak against the city gang’s precious mask ordinance. However, surprisingly, Keene Police chief Steven Russo actually covered for Short rather than throwing him under the bus, explaining to the reporter that it’s Short’s right to express himself as Short doesn’t lose the right to free speech just because he works for the state. Russo claims, “Lt. Short will enforce the Ordinance consistent with my guidance and in the same spirit as all of our Officers regardless of his personal feelings”, but doesn’t say what his “guidance” is. There is a good chance Russo’s “guidance” is to encourage Keene police to use discretion regarding enforcing the ordinance.

Many people, including those railing against Short online for expressing independent thoughts, simply do not understand that all police officers have discretion. Discretion is the ability for each officer to decide whether to enforce any given statute or ordinance, with few exceptions. As I understand it, generally, police officers are only obligated to enforce certain violent felonies. So, even if Russo tells Short to enforce the mask mandate, Short can still use his discretion and the worst than can be done to him is he’d likely get a stern talking-to or perhaps reassigned to the night shift.

Keene Police Officer Jason Short

Keene Police Officer Jason Short, Civil Disobedience Advocate

City mob boss Elizabeth Dragon was even approached by Sentinel reporter Caleb Symons for comment on whether Short could be disciplined, but she wisely refused to return his calls, as she probably doesn’t want to admit there’s nothing the city council can do if the police refuse to enforce their ordinance. From what I understand, Short isn’t the only police officer who feels as he does.

A decade ago, Short was the antagonist during Derrick J Freeman’s “Victimless Crime Spree“, arresting Free Keene blogger Derrick J in Central Square for open possession of cannabis. In 2014, as the DEA was raiding then-Main Street business Phat Stuff, Keene police were running cover for them and I confronted Short outside the business about his role in the situation. During the conversation, I asked him how he feels about a productive downtown business being destroyed by the DEA, and he told me, “what I feel don’t matter”. I responded that it does matter, which is why I asked him for his opinion.

Now, more than half a decade later, Short appears to have changed his tune, and for the better. He’s not only expressing his opinion about bad law publicly, he’s also taking the correct position – that the mask mandate is evil and needs to be disobeyed. That’s because good people disobey bad laws and good cops refuse to enforce them.

If Jason Short can go from bad guy to good guy, maybe there is hope. Whether or not activists like Derrick J have had a positive influence on Short over the years, kudos to Short for taking a stand.