This Just In
(1)Killings Surge In Oakland, And Officials Are Unable To Explain Why
(2)Caught In The Middle
(3)New Merit Seen In Cannabis Remedy
(4)OPED: War On Drugs Claims Another Victim

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jun 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The names of friends and family members killed in this city over the last two years come easily to Rob Wilson, a rangy, dreadlocked 17-year-old gang member.

A brother was shot to death in a drug deal in 2005. Oakland police officers killed a cousin in a shootout last year. Gang members shot down a friend in March.

"It used to be I would just hear about somebody getting shot, but I wouldn't know them," said Mr. Wilson, who is known as Deka and who pulled up a pants leg to show a bullet wound from a shooting last year. "Now, it's getting closer and closer to me, these deaths."

The shootings are part of a cresting wave of violence in Oakland, which recorded 148 homicides in 2006, a 57 percent increase over 2005 and the highest number in 11 years. As of last week, 43 people had been killed in 2007, fewer than the 60 killed over the same period last year, but still far short of a turnaround.

Law enforcement officials and community organizers in Oakland are hard pressed to explain the rise, particularly since homicides in the two other big cities in the Bay Area, San Jose and San Francisco, have not increased substantially.

Possible explanations include large numbers of violent parolees returning from prison, increasing gang violence, the availability of guns, a growing methamphetamine trade and police recruitment shortfalls. But some of those factors also exist in San Francisco and San Jose, which has a comparable number of parolees and, arguably, a larger and longer-standing gang problem than Oakland.

"We're trying to make sense of it," said Officer Roland Holmgren, a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department. "But it's irrational."




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Robert Speer

After a decade of legal wrangling and more than two years in prison, med-pot pioneer Bryan Epis faces a return to prison

Today (Thursday, June 21) at 9:30 a.m., Bryan Epis will walk into the Sacramento courtroom of federal District Court Judge Frank Damrell Jr., where he is scheduled to testify once again in his marijuana- cultivation case.

Epis' case began with his arrest 10 years ago almost to the day and still isn't resolved. What started out as a small-time bust has become a legal roller-coaster ride, made Epis a hero among med-pot activists, and raised serious constitutional issues.

It all goes back to June 25, 1997, when sheriff's deputies raided Epis' home on West Francis Willard Avenue in Chico, where he was growing marijuana plants in his basement. The pot, Epis insisted, was meant for sick people with doctors' recommendations to use marijuana under terms of California's landmark Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, passed in 1996.

The deputies seized 458 plants, most of them seedlings, and arrested Epis. They soon turned his case over to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, however, and he was tried in federal court, which doesn't recognize Prop. 215.

As a result, Epis, who had a doctor's recommendation to smoke marijuana because of spinal injuries he'd suffered in an auto accident, earned a place in the history books by becoming the first med-pot patient in California tried and convicted under the federal Controlled Substances Act.




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 Allied Press Limited

A cannabis folk remedy has been resurrected by scientists who found that active ingredients in the drug reduce allergic reactions.

The research, conducted on mice, points the way toward new cannabis- based treatments for irritated skin.

Extracts from the hemp plant were traditionally used to treat inflammation and could be bought from chemists in the early part of the 20th century.

But fears about the intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes the cannabis high, led to a ban on sales in the 1930s.

The new research suggests that the herbalists who used cannabis ointments to treat eczema knew what they were doing. Scientists now believe that cannabis skin lotion, in a safe form too diluted to affect the brain, could make a comeback.

The team from the University of Bonn in Germany stumbled on the anti- inflammatory effect of THC while conducting a brain study on mice.

The animals were genetically engineered so they could not respond to cannabinoids, either THC or its natural equivalents generated in the brain.

Unexpectedly, the skin around ear clips placed on the mice to identify them became red and sore. The scientists realised what this meant - that cannabinoids act like a brake preventing the immune system from running out of control and triggering inflammation.




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, IL)
Copyright: 2007 Daily Southtown
Author: James E. Gierach, Guest columnist

I guess I feel like venting a little. This past weekend, I spent my time in Orlando, Fla., because my cousin's 29-year-old-son Chris, who recently was admitted to the Colorado bar to practice law, killed himself with cocaine. Such a tragedy.

Chris's family, and girlfriend of the past year, learned of Chris' cocaine affliction three weeks before his death. He suffered a grand mal seizure that led to the discovery of his trouble, and, three weeks later (June 5), he succumbed to a prohibited and uncontrolled addictive substance.

The pain of this Father's Day weekend will ache forever and ever. The ache is the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, the brothers, the girlfriends, the cousins and all of us who care about one another. So many tears.

Already in a somber mood, I returned home Saturday night to celebrate Father's Day with my son (who at the age of 12 already has been offered drugs) and family, only to read that people were marching in the streets on Chicago 's Far South Side, because so many kids have been killed this past school year in gang-turf wars.

The marchers called for "tighter gun-control measures and an end to gang violence," according to a Chicago Tribune story. Bishop Paul Hall asked: "How much is dope worth to take a young life? How much is gang- banging worth to take a young life?"

"Enough," the actions of gang-banging dope dealers seem to say louder than words.





If you've ever been curious about Salvia divinorum, the time for ingesting it legally is nearing an end. Four states have already banned it and Wisconsin now joins 7 other states with pending legislation.

The Atlantic Monthly published a fairly extensive review of Plan Colombia beginning with the 15 and 20 ton recent cocaine busts. After 7 years and 5 billion dollars, cocaine production has not decreased and U.S. street prices have dropped from the 1980's $600 grams to 2007 $50 grams.

In 1989, Jackson County, Missouri was the first U.S. County to pass an anti-drug sales tax with proceeds being spread between enforcement, treatment and prevention programs. Since prohibition prevents valid drug use data collection officials have only arrest statistics and court proceedings to rely on while determining how well the tax money is being spent.

Although DARE officers will probably never admit DARE does not work - there is hope that a new replacement program is on the way. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the new program, based on actual research, is being evaluated in several pilot cities and may be implemented in more schools next year.

Ending this section on a positive note - the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that car passengers have the same constitutional rights as drivers during traffic stops!


Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jun 2007
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Chris Martell


Salvia divinorum, related to but different from the backyard salvia, is a perennial herb of the mint family native to the Sierra Mazateca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. It contains a powerful hallucinogen considered by some to be as potent as LSD, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.


Federal authorities consider salvia a "drug of concern," but it's not outlawed. In Wisconsin, as in other states, that could soon change. Democratic Reps. Sheldon Wasserman and David Cullen of Milwaukee last week began seeking sponsors for a bill that would ban the manufacture and sale of Salvia divinorum for consumption in Wisconsin, with a penalty of up to $10,000.


But not everywhere. Four states have banned Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A, the ingredient responsible for the plant's psychoactive effects. In addition, as of January, legislative bills proposing regulatory controls on salvinorin A or Salvia divinorum were pending in Alaska, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota and Virginia.

Internationally, a variety of regulatory controls have been enacted in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Spain and Sweden.


Salvia would join the list of banned substances only after a long trip through the legislative process that starts with the introduction of the bill and its referral to an Assembly committees.



 (6) SNOW FALL  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: Atlantic Monthly, The (US)
Copyright: 2007 The Atlantic Monthly Company
Author: Ken Dermota

The World In Numbers

Attacking Cocaine at Its Source Was Meant to Drive Up Prices, Yet U.S. Street Dealers Are Selling It for Less Than Ever.


In March, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a freighter off Panama laden with 20 tons of cocaine, in the largest maritime bust ever. That was followed in April by Colombian authorities' seizure of a 15-ton cache most likely awaiting shipment to Mexico.

Of course, the good news is soured by the fact that cocaine production remains robust enough to allow shipment in 20-ton batches.

The Coast Guard would need to repeat its recent haul about every two weeks to intercept all the cocaine that Colombia sends north, and there's no guarantee traffickers wouldn't just ship more to make up for the losses, as they have always done.


Clearly, policing has a big impact on cocaine prices: On the streets of Bogota, a gram of cocaine can be had for under $2. Recreational users in America, on the other hand, typically pay upward of $50 a gram.

Yet over time, cocaine prices per pure gram in the United States have steadily fallen, from $600 in the early 1980s to less than $200 by the mid-1990s. In 2000, under Plan Colombia, the U.S. took the fight directly to the coca fields, spending nearly as much each year on aerial coca eradication and fighting cocaine-dealing rebels in Colombia as Ireland spends on its entire military. Plan Colombia has cost $4.7 billion since its inception, but cocaine on U.S. streets has only gotten cheaper, while American demand has remained steady.

Why the Price Decline?

More-efficient distribution networks may be part of the answer. Some smugglers now bring "factory-to-you" prices to New York by picking up their dope in Colombia and eliminating middlemen.

At the same time, a surge in trade between the U.S. and Mexico has made smuggling safer and cheaper by providing endless nooks and crannies among the billions of dollars' worth of legitimate goods flowing over the border each year.

Inside the United States, retailers have reduced prices by cutting the take of street-corner vendors, some of whom now make less than the minimum wage. Ironically, aggressive imprisonment of drug offenders may contribute to this phenomenon: When convicts rotate out of prison, stigmatized by felony convictions and possessing no licit skills, they are sometimes willing to sell dope for less than they were earning before they went in. Sellers up and down the food chain also appear willing to work for less because the risks involved in selling cocaine have declined: Violence has trailed off since the 1980s crack boom ended, and since 2001, federal drug prosecutions have fallen 25 percent, as agents have been reassigned to chase terrorists.

Many experts say that if we can't keep the price of cocaine out of reach for more people, some money would be better spent on rehabilitation of drug users, and on education.


'A Hell of a Lot of Coca'

Since 2000, American crop dusters have cumulatively sprayed an area the size of Delaware and Rhode Island to eradicate coca bushes in Colombia. But coca cultivation on small plots and in out-of-the-way places has made up for lost production. The State Department, after discovering thousands of hectares planted outside the areas it had been tracking, said last year it cannot reliably tally coca production. "It's all rather irrelevant," a State Department official who wished to remain anonymous said. "There's still a hell of a lot of coca out there."


Cocaine bound for Brazil mostly stays there: A recent boom in demand has made Brazil the No. 2 destination for cocaine, behind the U.S.; it has also fueled the growth of larger and more powerful gangs.




Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jun 2007
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2007 The Kansas City Star
Author: Joe Lambe

Jackson County officials look at ways to best use sales-tax money to get narcotics off the streets.

The number of drug cases filed in Jackson County dropped nearly 25 percent last year to the lowest level in five years.

Some people call that a hard-won victory in the first American county to impose a tax to fight drugs. Others wonder whether dealers simply have gotten smarter and harder to catch.

Despite the decline in prosecutions, Kansas City police officers still spend a substantial amount of time fighting the war on drugs. An examination of the local drug scene shows that crack cocaine remains the city's big-money street drug, but marijuana seizures have skyrocketed.

Jackson County officials now are pondering how best to spend future anti-drug sales-tax money to keep the drug problem in retreat. It may be time for changes, they say.


On any given day in Kansas City, a disheveled man somewhere takes cash and tells a customer to get his rock of cocaine nearby -- maybe in a chink in a wall or under a box of diapers in a store. Or maybe there is a quick handoff through a car window.

The street dealers often are addicts working to obtain some of the product. Midlevel bosses roam elsewhere and control their help by using cell phones.

Sergeants in the street narcotics unit would not say how many officers monitor the streets, but they said the work is plentiful.

"We could put 2,000 down there on every shift and keep them busy," Mak said.


Last year the amount of marijuana seized in Kansas City increased more than 7,000 percent, in part because of one or two giant raids. The amount of cocaine seized fell 70 percent. The amount of seized methamphetamine fell 34 percent.

Overall, Jackson County's drug cases dropped from 2,223 two years ago to 1,711 last year.

Possession cases dropped from 1,579 in 2004 to 1,037 in 2006.

Those numbers encourage Kanatzar, who said they signaled a drop in drug use. But drug prices also are dropping -- and that typically indicates a stronger market.

Undercover Kansas City police officers recently bought an ounce of pure powder cocaine for $500, about half the price from five or six years ago. And a dealer can still cook the powder cocaine into crack and triple his money, police said.




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jun 2007
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2007 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Shawntaye Hopkins

DARE Is Expected To Adopt New Method After Evaluation

The drug prevention program that law enforcement officers have delivered to youngsters nationwide for decades could change significantly after a University of Akron study concludes this year.

The DARE program started in Los Angeles in 1983 with little, if any, research to support its curriculum and delivery method. Still, the program spread nationally and is now taught in every state and 43 countries. Fayette County implemented DARE as a pilot program in 1986, then as part of all public elementary school curricula the next year.

Researchers at the University of Akron created an evidence-based, research-driven drug prevention curriculum and delivery method after receiving a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

DARE officers have been used to test the curriculum, although the study is independent of the well-known drug prevention program.

But DARE is expected to adopt this new drug prevention program after analysis concludes this year. Akron's curriculum is being evaluated in Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark and St. Louis with about 19,000 students followed from seventh through 11th grades.




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jun 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: David Stout

WASHINGTON -- A passenger as well as a driver has the right to challenge the legality of a police officer's decision to stop a car, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously today.

The ruling came in the case of Bruce E. Brendlin, who was a passenger in a car that was stopped by a deputy sheriff in Yuba City, Calif., on Nov. 27, 2001. The deputy soon ascertained that Mr. Brendlin was an ex-convict who was wanted for violating his parole. An ensuing search of the driver, the car and Mr. Brendlin turned up methamphetamine supplies.

Eventually, Mr. Brendlin pleaded guilty to a drug charge and drew a four-year prison sentence. But he continued to appeal on the issue of whether the evidence of drugs found on him resulted from an illegal search and should have been suppressed because of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The California Supreme Court found that, constitutionally speaking, only the driver had been "seized" by the stop, and that therefore Mr. Brendlin had no basis for challenging the search that turned up the drugs. The State of California made that argument again when the case was heard before the United States Supreme Court on April 23.

But Mr. Brendlin's lawyer, Elizabeth M. Campbell, argued that when an officer makes a traffic stop, "he seizes not only the driver of the car, but also the car, and every person and every thing in that car."

The justices agreed. "When police make a traffic stop, a passenger in the car, like the driver, is seized for Fourth Amendment purposes and so may challenge the stop's constitutionality," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the high court.




It was refreshing this week to see an article about the DEA which covered more than one side of the story. Houston Chronicle DC reporter, Daniel Dale, included opinions from both supporters and critics in his piece about the DEA's museum of "spoils".

A former DEA agent dedicated most of his OPED to defending the NDIC and, of course, none of it justifying our current drug policies. But, it was interesting to learn about this agency from an insider's perspective.

And, not surprisingly, smuggling contraband into jails occurs in places other than the U.S. as our closing story from Quebec reveals.


Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jun 2007
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper
Author: Daniel Dale

The Drug Enforcement Agency Museum Highlights Law and Order, but Critics Say Drug Policy Outcomes Are Distorted

ARLINGTON, VA. - Bongs, syringes and cocaine spoons line the display's back wall. Across the aisle, next to yet more drug paraphernalia, sits the replica crack house door.

You're not hallucinating: The Drug Enforcement Administration Museum is a taxpayer-funded, government-run institution filled with artifacts that could've been Cheech and Chong props.

Opened in 1999 on the ground floor of the DEA's offices in suburban Washington, D.C., the one-room museum draws about 12,000 visitors annually, director Sean Fearns says. Admission is free. Most visitors are middle and high school students on class trips.

According to critics such as Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, it's a "terrific waste" of public money, a "boys with toys museum" that glorifies the DEA and its agents at the expense of the truth.


Fearns says students, parents and educators appreciate the museum and the DEA's traveling exhibit, "Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists and You," which visited Dallas in 2003 and 2004 and has drawn 150,000 to 350,000 visitors per year.

"Parents say to us, 'Thank you for allowing us to start the conversation about drugs and drug abuse," he says.

But St. Pierre and other critics of U.S. drug policy argue that the public shouldn't have to pay for a supposedly educational institution that provides a "massively flawed" education.

The museum received $349,000 from Congress to open. At present, it operates as a public-private partnership, getting at least $380,000 per year from the government.

St. Pierre says the museum fails to note the cost of the war on drugs to taxpayers and ignores the nuances of drug policy. Caren Woodson, director of government affairs for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, says its displays boast of raids on violent cocaine traffickers without mentioning raids on harmless medical marijuana users.

Fearns says the museum's space is limited. Tentative plans are in the works for an exhibit on the history of marijuana use; drug policy "is certainly an area we want to further look at."




Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jun 2007
Source: Tribune-Democrat, The (PA)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune-Democrat
Author: John T. Counihan

What I read in or hear from the media about the National Drug Intelligence Center can only be characterized as either misinformation or disinformation.

It is difficult to ascertain whether this occurs because of benign ignorance of NDIC's assigned role within the counter-drug community, or more insidiously from petty partisan politics combined with interagency funding envy. ( I have my idea as to the answer, and I will let the reader decide for him-or herself. ) Unfortunately, since the perception of media reporting about NDIC, although inaccurate, is viewed as reality, both the reputation and employees of NDIC are continuously painted with a tarnished brush. I speak with some experience, as I am a retired Drug Enforcement Administration supervisory special agent with 30-plus years of narcotic enforcement experience - almost seven (1997-2004) of which were an assignment by the DEA to the NDIC.

I served in a number of positions at NDIC. The majority of my time was spent in the Document and Computer Exploitation Division ( DOCEX ), and for more than a year I had the privilege of serving as an acting assistant director of NDIC, directly in charge of this division. Among other assignments, I served in a supervisory capacity in the intelligence division.

As a result of my service and experience with NDIC, I can unequivocally state that the DOCEX performs a unique and invaluable service for the federal narcotics-enforcement community, and on occasion provides assistance to state and local narcotics-enforcement agencies operating in a task-force environment with a federal agency.

The tedious and labor-intensive work of NDIC's employees, which results in comprehensive analysis of seized documents and electronic equipment ( computers, cell phones, etc. ), has proven invaluable to law-enforcement officers and prosecutors throughout the United States. A testimony to their effectiveness in helping to obtain guilty pleas and convictions in major drug-trafficking cases is evidenced by the numerous letters received by NDIC from the agencies to which assistance was provided. These letters, written by assistant U.S. attorneys, local prosecutors and federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies, are received on a regular basis and contain effusive praise for the work and effort expended by NDIC analysts.


NDIC is involved in other tangential efforts, providing intelligence and DOCEX training to law enforcement, but the core work is clearly defined. There is no duplication of effort among the centers. The constant media barrage against NDIC, most recently spearheaded by Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who to my knowledge has never been to NDIC, nor has any firsthand knowledge of this agency, is difficult to comprehend unless seen in the light of petty partisan politics. Also, the constant argument and harping that NDIC's location in Pennsylvania is too far from Washington to be effective is fallacious. It is an easy three-hour drive away. Does anyone who puts forth this argument have a map of the United States?


I do not know whether the Bush administration or Rogers actually pays much attention to the war on drugs, but, in my assessment, it is at best - utilizing all of the resources available - a holding action. For the Bush administration - if in fact this is what is occurring - to try to eliminate a national resource in the war on drugs for purely political purposes is unconscionable.


None of this affected the constant, consistent effort of the NDIC work force to diligently complete its assigned responsibilities. Unfortunately, the persistent negative media attention relating to the possible removal of funding and closing of the center, through the efforts of the Bush administration and Republican legislators, affects the employees' morale, and this is unjust and unwarranted. The war on drugs is not a partisan issue; it affects all Americans. NDIC, because it is a small agency operating within the confines of a vocal Democratic congressman, should not continually be made the punching bag for Washington bureaucrats and for those who have no clue, nor seem to care, how the NDIC employees' efforts and hard work are assisting in the war on drugs.


John T. Counihan spent 17 years as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York City before being assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. While in Canada, he spent almost seven years as a DEA special agent ( his title was assistant country attache ) assigned to work on collaborative cross-border investigations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He retired in 2004 as a supervisor with the National Drug Intelligence Center.



Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2007 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Paul Cherry, The Gazette

Street Gang Runs Ring. Bordeaux Guards Implicated In Operation That Supplied Drugs, Booze, Cellphones

Provincial prison guard Pierre-Arold Agnant will see what life is like on the other side of the bars for at least a week after he was arrested on allegations he helped a street gang smuggle drugs into the Montreal Detention Centre.

He was among nine people arrested yesterday by the Surete du Quebec in an investigation of corruption at the site, formerly known as Bordeaux jail, in north-end Montreal.

Agnant, 44, is alleged to have taken bribes to allow a smuggling ring - - said to be controlled by members of the Crack Down Posse, a street gang - to bring drugs, alcohol and other contraband into the prison for months.

In a statement, the public security minister confirmed that four provincial prison guards, including Agnant, have been suspended pending the results of an internal investigation. The three other guards were not arrested yesterday.




Neither Connecticut nor New York will become the 13th state to approve of the use of medical marijuana under state law, at least during the current sessions of the state legislature. Connecticut's Governor prefers to have state and local police arrest medical marijuana users, perhaps because she believes the federal government's propaganda.

When the issue hits close to home a California newspaper editorializes for easier access for medical marijuana users. Health Canada, never happy with the court ordered medical marijuana program, continues to do everything possible to scare doctors away from approving applications. The Canadian free speech issue heats up while we wait for the results of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case.

Industrial hemp receives attention from the largest circulation newspaper in the United States.


Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jun 2007
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2007 The Hartford Courant
Author: Mark Pazniokas, Courant Staff Writer

Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have legalized the medical use of marijuana, saying that the bill was a well-intended, but flawed attempt to alleviate suffering.

"I am not unfamiliar with the incredible pain and heartbreak associated with battling cancer," said Rell, who was treated for breast cancer 2 1/2 years ago. "I have struggled with the decision about signing or vetoing this bill."

The legislation would have allowed patients with conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS to grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes with a doctor's prescription.

But in a three-page veto message, Rell said her sympathies for those with unmanageable pain did not overcome her concern that citizens still would have to break the law to obtain marijuana or marijuana seeds.

"There are no pharmacies, storefronts or mail order catalogs where patients or caregivers can legally purchase marijuana plants or seeds," Rell said. "I am troubled by the fact that in essence, this bill forces law-abiding citizens to seek out drug dealers to make their marijuana purchases."

Medical marijuana is supported by 83 percent of residents, according to a poll by the University of Connecticut Center for Survey Research and Analysis.

The bill passed easily, 89-58 in the House and 23-13 in the Senate. But supporters are short of the votes necessary for a veto override: 24 in the Senate and 101 in the House.

Sen. Andrew J. McDonald, D-Stamford, a proponent, said the veto is the result of Rell's failure to engage the legislature about her objections prior to passage.

"We've been trying to pass this for three years in a complicated legal and medical environment with little or no involvement from the governor or her staff," McDonald said.




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group

We can't say it any better than Leo said it. Still, it bears repeating.

Leo, of course, is Leo Greene, our colleague and friend who is battling ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. He has been chronicling his thoughts and feelings as he confronts his illness in an award-winning series of columns and videos called "Leo's Story."

In Sunday's installment, he made the case for the use of medical marijuana to fight his terminal disease. It could buy him time, he wrote:

"Time to see my two younger sons graduate. Time to see another grandson born.

"Time, perhaps, for a cure to come along."

Those are powerful words, especially for those of us who know and love Leo and admire the incredible grace and dignity with which he has faced his illness. It puts the legal and law-enforcement wrangling over medical marijuana in a new light - a personal, gut-wrenching light.

Leo reported on marijuana research that has shown great promise for extending the life of those with ALS, as well as relieving the muscle twitching, spasms and potentially fatal excess mucous associated with the disease. Cannabis compounds have been found to offer symptomatic relief and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease; to relieve rheumatoid arthritis; to slow nerve degeneration in Alzheimer's patients; and of course, to help cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy.



 (15) LIMIT POT RX: OTTAWA  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jun 2007
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Health Canada has been contacting doctors who prescribe medical marijuana for their government-approved patients, advising them to keep the dosages low.

Some users say that not only violates doctor-patient confidentiality, it's also wrong for bureaucrats to make judgments about the medical needs of people they've never seen.

"A person's medication should be between him and his doctor," said Tony Adams, 60, a medical marijuana user in Victoria. "There shouldn't be some bureaucrat in Ottawa that's never met me.


Similarly, Alison Myrden in Burlington, Ont., says her doctor was challenged by Health Canada bureaucrats about her 20- to 28-gram daily dose.

"They asked to lower it more than once, and my doctor and I both refused," said Myrden, 43, who uses marijuana for multiple sclerosis and another painful condition. Her message to Health Canada: "Back off -- leave our doctors alone."

The department's campaign to keep doses to five grams or less includes postings on its website.

Health Canada also sent a letter recently to the Canadian Medical Association advising doctors about appropriate amounts.

A spokesman for the department said dosage decisions are always left to doctors.

As of last month, 1,774 patients were licensed to use medical marijuana, about a thousand of whom grow it themselves. Another 166 have someone else grow it for them under licence, and 538 are approved to order government-certified marijuana grown in Flin Flon, Man., by a firm under contract with the department.



Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Joe Friesen

WINNIPEG -- A video recording of a free-speech protest at a Saskatchewan high school shows a school superintendent saying publicly that 15-year-old Kieran King had been accused of selling drugs at his school, even though his mother says he had never been investigated or charged, or even spoken to by the school principal.

Kieran's mother, Jo Anne Euler, says the drug-selling accusation is false, but hasn't yet decided whether to pursue legal action. Her first priority is to appeal the school's decision to prevent Kieran from writing his final exams, which means his grades will fall from the high 80s to the mid-50s.

The video, which can be seen on YouTube, shows the peculiar seven-person protest outside Wawota Parkland School last week. It was organized, with the help of the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party, after the principal threatened to call police if Kieran continued to talk about the relative health risks of cannabis, alcohol and tobacco - his response to a school presentation on the dangers of drugs.

Just before the start of the protest, the principal ordered a school lockdown, brought in the RCMP and later conducted a threat-assessment on Kieran. He and his brother were suspended for three days for leaving school grounds, preventing him from writing his exams.

Superintendent of education Velda Weatherald tries to explain on the video why Kieran was told not to talk about marijuana in school after a student complained to the principal.

"When a student or parent comes with a complaint to the principal, all she did say was if ever anyone was promoting drug use or was actually trying to sell drugs - and there was an accusation," Ms. Weatherald says.

A voice off camera asks, "Against Kieran?"

"Yes," Ms. Weatherald replies, but refuses to offer further details.

Kieran has said several times that he has never used or even seen marijuana.


Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa lawyer and founding member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, said Kieran should be commended for standing up for his rights.

"If he is saying that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, he's probably dead right," Mr. Oscapella said. "So what is wrong in an educational institution with discussing these issues?"




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jun 2007
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2007 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

Two North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp are filing a federal lawsuit today to challenge the Drug Enforcement Administration's ban on the plant that is the same species that produces marijuana.

Hemp can be imported from Canada, Europe and China, but growing hemp in the USA is illegal, the DEA says.

"Hemp is marijuana," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney says. "There's no distinguishing feature between marijuana and hemp."

Lawyers for the farmers say the Controlled Substances Act, which governs illegal drugs, makes a specific exception for hemp, a non-drug version of the marijuana plant. They are seeking a court ruling that says the federal authorities cannot arrest the North Dakota farmers for growing hemp.

The federal government used to encourage farmers to grow what is known as "industrial hemp," says attorney Joseph Sandler in Washington, D.C., who is representing the farmers. Hemp plants have a low concentration of the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana users a high, he said.

"You can smoke 17 fields of this stuff, and it's not going to do anything," Sandler says. "It doesn't make sense to say you can import all this hemp, but you can't grow it and import it from North Dakota to South Dakota."

North Dakota's Legislature began considering allowing farmers to grow hemp more than 10 years ago after disease wiped out the wheat and barley crop, says state Rep. Dave Monson, a Republican leader in the Legislature and one of the farmers filing the lawsuit.

In 1993, the disease was so bad, "we actually burned every acre of wheat and barley we produced," says Monson, who lives in Osnabrock. "I came to the realization that we needed alternative crops."

Just across the North Dakota border, farmers in Canada are growing hemp and making a profit, he says. U.S. manufacturers who use hemp to produce textiles, soaps and other materials must import the crop from countries that allow hemp farming.

A North Dakota State University study in 1997 found a good market for hemp in the USA, so the Legislature passed laws to regulate hemp farming, Monson said. The laws require background checks on the farmers and monitoring to make sure illicit marijuana crops aren't growing in the middle of the hemp field, he says.




Prohibitionists in Washington D.C. cheer on any ratcheting-up of any drug war anywhere, so don't expect the bloodbath south of the border in Mexico to change hard-core prohibitionists' minds. (But what does?) While more than 1,000 people have died in prohibition-related violence in Mexico so far this year, there is also word of widespread human rights abuses at the hands of the Mexican military, according to a report in the In These Times newspaper this week. Even the Mexican Congress urged President Calderon not to use the army for domestic counter-drug operations. Noting Calderon's prohibitionist zeal, the Mexican Congressional resolution stated Calderon's drug war had "taken on a Messianic dimension."

A secretive report concerning Afghan opium was prepared by the Canadian Privy Council Office last November, and warned then that an opium crackdown "would provoke economic dislocation and hardship for large numbers of Afghan citizens," posing, "added threats to security and political stability... Counter-narcotic eradication programs are making things worse," said the report, entitled, "Afghanistan: Curse of the Opium Economy." The sensitive government report, obtained by the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper, was "heavily redacted" (censored). No mention was made of an Afghan opium buy-back program, an idea which has been gaining adherents in recent months.

And in Dubai this week, a Canadian counter-narcotics official was this week sentenced to fours years in prison for attempting to get two poppy heads and .6 of a gram of hashish through a Dubai airport in May. The counter-narcotics official claimed the poppies were for lecture props, and he had no idea how the hash got there. The official, Vancouver resident Bert Tatham, plans to appeal the verdict.


Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jul 2007
Source: In These Times (US)
Copyright: 2007 In These Times
Author: John Gibler

More Than 1,000 Police Officers, Soldiers and Members of Enemy Cartels Have Been Killed This Year As President Calderon Has Turned Up the Heat

"In the helicopter is where they began to beat us," recalls Sara, a 17-year-old who was released on May 16 after a week in military detention. (Her name has been changed to protect her identity.)


Seven months ago, President Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party took office and declared war on drug traffickers, ordering 20,000 troops into the streets to put an end to drug-cartel related murders. Despite the troops, the number of drug-related murders has tripled and the army's massive deployment has yielded tales of widespread human rights violations, like that of Sara.

More than 1,000 people, mostly police officers, soldiers and members of enemy cartels, have been killed since Jan. 1.


Two of the girls told members of the Human Rights Commission that during the helicopter ride, after being threatened, beaten and molested, the soldiers placed warm rags over their mouths that caused them to lose consciousness. One girl awoke with vaginal pain and bleeding.

Police with close connections to the army said that Sara and her friends were "connected to the Zetas," a gang connected to the Gulf Cartel. One police official told the Mexican national newspaper, El Milenio: "No, look, these girls even have kids and like to party. I don't think the soldiers raped them; I'm sure they just grabbed them in a few places, just a couple of touches here and there, but no rape, they were even ugly."


On May 23, the Mexican Congress passed a resolution urging Calderon to professionalize and train the federal police forces so as to avoid using the army to fight drug traffickers. The resolution noted that the army's involvement has "taken on a Messianic dimension." But the following day Calderon said he had no intention of backing down.




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jun 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Alan Freeman, with a report from Jeff Esau

Report Warned Federal Government That Poppy Eradication Could Lead To Instability, And Leave The International Security Assistance Force At Risk

OTTAWA - Top government officials were warned last fall that Western-led efforts to wipe out Afghanistan's opium trade risked undermining the country's shaky economy, increasing instability and endangering Canadian and other NATO troops in the country.

The report, prepared by the International Assessment Staff of the Privy Council Office, points out that the huge increase in Afghan poppy production is damaging efforts to create a healthy, stable economy. Yet Afghans have become so financially dependent on the drug trade that simply eradicating poppy plants could risk making things worse.

"Any aggressive clampdown on the opium trade would provoke economic dislocation and hardship for large numbers of Afghan citizens," said the report, entitled Afghanistan: Curse of the Opium Economy.

"Such an outcome would pose added threats to security and political stability in Afghanistan, and could add to the vulnerability of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces."

The report, dated Nov. 22, was provided to The Globe and Mail by Access to Information expert and writer Jeff Esau, who obtained the documents from the PCO under an access request.


The report was circulated widely among top levels of the government with recipients including Ward Elcock, deputy minister of National Defence; Peter Harder, who was then deputy minister of Foreign Affairs; and David Mulroney, who was then Prime Minister Stephen Harper's foreign and defence policy adviser.


"Counter-narcotic eradication programs are making things worse because the other elements of the counter-narcotics strategy are not being implemented," says the heavily-redacted document, which is dated Nov. 24.




Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jun 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Steven Edwards

Anti-Narcotics Official Fights 4-Year Sentence

UNITED NATIONS - Sentenced to four years in an Arab prison yesterday, Canadian anti-drugs official Bert Tatham vows to clear his name of his drug possession conviction.

Within minutes of the verdict in Dubai, the Vancouver resident instructed his lawyers to launch appeal proceedings.


A three-judge panel sentenced Mr. Tatham after finding him guilty of entering Dubai on April 23 with two poppy flowers and a tiny quantity of hashish -- both banned substances in the emirate -- despite defence arguments the possession had been job-related.

Mr. Tatham had flown into Dubai after completing the first leg of a return trip to Canada from Afghanistan, where he'd spent the previous 12 months working in drug eradication, which involved handling the narcotics he had with him.

While he said he intended to use the poppy flowers as props while giving lectures in Canada, he speculated that he'd inadvertently neglected to dispose of the hashish before leaving Afghanistan.



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(Philadelphia, PA)-John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, today released a new Special Report showing that teens who use drugs are more likely to engage in violent and delinquent behavior and join gangs. Early use of marijuana-the most commonly used drug among teens-is a warning sign for later gang involvement.


Does the U.S. government really deliver canisters of pot to people each month? M&J have the surprising story. Plus, Montel Williams gives some provocative news about his crusade to legalize medicinal marijuana!


In a rare public address to the Washington policy community, Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad addressed the unfolding events and U.S. policy toward Afghanistan at this New America event.


The Verdict with Paula Todd gives viewers an in-depth look at the hard-hitting legal and justice news making headlines from around the world.

June 20, 2007

Tips to hide pot 7:14 [Barry Cooper]

June 19, 2007

Revamping drug sentences 10:14 [Zero Tolerance in Dubai]

Pot in jail 6:24 [Grant Krieger]



The bipartisan medical marijuana amendment would prohibit the U.S. Department of Justice -- which includes the DEA -- from spending taxpayer money to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.



By Gary Storck

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Victor Montori's comments that his patients must choose medications on the basis of "the least painful poison," rather than by the benefit, exposes a plight affecting all patients ( "Diabetics face risk on drug choices," News, June 5).

Many patients often begin exploring the medical uses of cannabis to treat the side effects of conventional medications. That's why it's so maddening to hear politicians say things such as, "There are other options," as Rudy Giuliani said recently when asked about medical cannabis for cancer patients.

Dr. Steve Nissen's comments at the Avandia hearing ( "This is about patients; it's not about politics." ) appropriately sum up what medical cannabis opponents refuse to concede: It's about money. The "poison" is not only painful but profitable, and a portion goes toward funding the sort of candidates, generally Republicans, who spout, "There are other options," while generations of patients are denied a safer, often more effective drug alternative.

Gary Storck, co-founder

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Madison, Wis.

Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jun 2007
Source: USA Today (US)


The Freedom Side of the Cannabis Curtain  ( Top )

By Steve Kubby

My landlord called the other day to tell me that a neighbor had complained about me starting a "marijuana factory" at the house.

I told my landlord I was in full legal compliance and he politely asked me to deal with the neighbor and get it resolved.

Turns out the neighbor was upset about having to look at my greenhouse and just wanted it moved. No problemo.

Meanwhile my other neighbor has a brother who is alive today because of cannabis and she not only supports me, she even plans to vote for me.

Don't get me wrong, people still get busted here in Mendocino and those stupid enough to plea bargain will suffer the full weight of the criminal justice system. But, the simple fact of life here is that no jury has ever convicted a grower, much less a medical cannabis patient. Recently, a jury took less than an hour to acquit a patient with 540 plants.

If I were to be arrested in Mendocino, I would refuse to waive my right to a speedy trial and demand an immediate jury trial. That puts the court in the position of having to put together a full trial in less than 30 days or the case MUST be dismissed.

The one thing I have learned about courts is that they cannot do anything in a timely fashion. Any court appearance today has about a 95% chance of the matter being continued to another date.

Furthermore, few prosecutors can make a decent argument before a jury, since their function is nearly always to bully helpless defendants into a plea bargain.

So I would demand a speedy trial and simply tell the jury why the law is supposed to protect patients like myself. Considering that about half the members of any jury in Mendocino are probably also growers, I am confident that no jury here is going to convict a bona fide patient.

Life is good here in Mendocino and it is my hope and mission to spread the word of what life can be like on the freedom side of the cannabis curtain.

Steve Kubby, Libertarian for President, is the only 2008 presidential candidate who's played a key role in passing pro-freedom legislation, then gone to court -- and to jail -- defending that legislation. He is also founder and director of the American Medical Marijuana Association,, and played a key role in the drafting and passage of California Proposition 215. Read more about and learn how to support his campaign at .


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