Aaron Renier

In soccer games, if a player gets a bit too unruly, the referee whips out a yellow card and flashes it at the player--effectively saying, "watch yourself, pal, or you're out of here."

It seems as if Portland police have taken a page from soccer's playbook: Recently, police began handing out yellow warning cards to would-be offenders of the city's sit-lie rules, under which police have the discretion to ticket anyone sitting, loitering, or simply standing in place.

A year ago, that law was declared unconstitutional. But shortly afterwards, city council re-drafted the law slightly to squeak it back into compliance. Until now, when cops started handing out the yellow cards, its enforcement seemed to have been in hibernation.

"It's ramping up," warned Alan Graf, an attorney with Northwest Constitutional Center who is looking at ways to re-challenge the law. PB


Like 10 other states, Oregon allows physicians to prescribe small amounts of marijuana to patients. But, on Monday, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court declared that the federal government may override those state laws and prosecute users. In reaction, state officials in Oregon immediately declared they would stop issuing medical marijuana cards. The ruling throws into question what to do with the 10,000 Oregon card holders.

Monday's ruling reinforces a federal protocol that was approved four years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could shut down distributors of medical marijuana. At that time, the court also said that the states could choose not to prosecute physicians--a position Oregon has largely adopted.

But this most recent ruling essentially punishes users, instead of distributors. The case focused on two women in California, both suffering from chronic pain. Three years ago, they sued then-Attorney General John Ashcroft after their medical marijuana center was raided by federal agents. In California's state courts, they won injunctions barring the federal government from prosecuting their suppliers. Monday's ruling reverses those decisions. In response, one of the women (who suffers from a brain tumor) told reporters, "I guess I'm going to have to be prepared to be arrested." PB