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Toking photo keeps Amy Winehouse from the Grammys?

Feb 10, 2008 Toking photo keeps Amy Winehouse from the Grammys?

Image from public domain.

Tonight will air portions of the fiftieth Grammy awards. I say portions, because the annual awards are notorious for going off-camera and offstage for giving awards for high quality music that draws limited mass appeal.

However, being wildly popular does not automatically guarantee a Grammy stage spot for non-United States citizens suspected of committing drug crimes, even if the suspected activity is as minor as smoking marijuana. Amy Winehouse learned that, and I suspect that U.S. immigration authorities may not have sped along her visa denial appeal so quickly had the whole story not been so much in the spotlight. Although her appeal was ultimately granted, that happened too late for her to have had enough time to arrive at the Grammys ready to perform.

According to the Associated Press: “Winehouse’s original visa application was denied under U.S. immigration rules regarding the ‘use and abuse of narcotics,’ a senior State Department official said Friday, on condition of anonymity because the U.S. Embassy in London’s application deliberations are confidential.”

What evidence did U.S. immigration officials have of Ms. Winehouse’s alleged “narcotics” abuse? The A.P. report also states: “Last month, The Sun newspaper ran still images from a video that it claimed showed Winehouse inhaling fumes from a small pipe. The images were said to have been filmed during a party at her London home. Shortly thereafter, Winehouse entered a London rehabilitation center, and has been questioned by police.” Was that the sole basis for the initial denial of a visa for Winehouse to travel to the United States? Since when is marijuana a narcotic, anyway, aside from any 1984-speak description of marijuana in the law books?

One is left to wonder whether the United States’ Orwellian state of immigration law and enforcement will continue like this even if Clinton or Obama take over the White House. Jon Katz.

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