Am I a drug paraphernalia-owning domestic terrorist?

No, I’m not. But our government thinks I might be. For I have in my possession a plastic bag with some pipe tobacco in it. That seems innocent enough, but people could also use such a bag for coins, or stamps, or even put their weed in it. From Philadelphia:

In the city’s toughest neighborhoods, narcotics officers routinely bust mini-marts and bodegas for selling tiny ziplock plastic bags.

Police consider the bags to be drug paraphernalia. But many store owners say they bought the bags legally from tobacco wholesalers and other distributors and thought they could sell them.

At issue is whether the buyer is using the bags for drugs or for legitimate items like coins, jewelry, stamps and small amounts of tobacco.

“The question is whether the item is for a legal function or an illegal function,” said Tennessee-based lawyer Robert T. Vaughn, an expert on drug-paraphernalia laws.

To be safe I should probably keep the tobacco in a shoebox or a paper bag. I would hate to have such a suspicious item in my car if a cop pulled me over for sporting a Ron Paul bumper sticker:

A new document meant to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists has drawn criticism for some of the warning signs mentioned.

The Feb. 20 report called “The Modern Militia Movement” mentions such red flags as political bumper stickers for third-party candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president last year; talk of conspiracy theories, such as the plan for a superhighway linking Canada to Mexico; and possession of subversive literature.

“It seems like they want to stifle political thought,” said Roger Webb, president of the University of Missouri campus Libertarians. “There are a lot of third parties out there, and none of them express any violence. In fact, if you join the Libertarian Party, one of the things you sign in your membership application is that you don’t support violence as a means to any ends.”

The latter story probably won’t cause any real harm, but the anti-baggie crackdown has had tragic consequences for Philadelphia store owners. Many of them are vulnerable immigrants who have been victimized by thuggish anti-narcotics cops. The corrupt officers have allegedly cut the wires to surveillance cameras while conducting busts, stolen property, and threatened victims who report them. All of this not even to prevent people from buying illegal drugs, but just to prevent them from having bags to keep them in. The absurdity of the War on Drugs knows no bounds.

[Links via Radley Balko, of course.]

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