This Just In
(1)Nation's Pot Penalties Called A Hodgepodge
(2)Column: Gore III Case Spotlights Pot Debate
(3)Editorial: In The War On Drugs, One Victory
(4)Editorial: High Time

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


(1) NATION'S POT PENALTIES CALLED A HODGEPODGE

Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Smoke a joint in Alabama or Oregon, and you can permanently lose the right to adopt a child. Smoke one in Oklahoma, and you're ineligible ever to be a foster parent. Light up in Utah, and get a lifelong eviction notice from public housing.

Grow a marijuana plant in any one of a dozen states, including California, and you're permanently barred from receiving welfare or food stamps.

Those laws and others are detailed in the first nationwide study of the consequences of marijuana convictions, in areas ranging from family life to voting and jury service. Researchers headed by a Northern California lawyer said they had found a hodgepodge of state and federal restrictions that seemed to conflict with the overall trend of reduced criminal penalties for pot.

"For many people, (the penalties) can result in a lifetime of hardship -- an unrecognized punishment that continues long after they have served their criminal sentences or completed probation," said the report, which was paid for by a group that favors legalizing marijuana under state regulation.

The chief author, attorney Richard Boire of Davis, said Tuesday that many of those in the court system are unaware of the consequences of marijuana convictions.

[snip]

Report: http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/rpts/col_sanctions.htm Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n796.a04.html



 (2) GORE III CASE SPOTLIGHTS POT DEBATE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Washington Post Writers Group
Author: Kathleen Parker, Washington Post Writers Group

News that Al Gore's 24-year-old son, Al Gore III, was busted for pot and assorted prescription pills has unleashed a torrent of mirth in certain quarters.

Gore-phobes on the Internet apparently view the son's arrest and incarceration as comeuppance for the father's shortcomings. Especially rich was the fact that young Al was driving a Toyota Prius when he was pulled over for going 100 mph -- just as Papa Gore was set to preside over concerts during a 24-hour, seven-continent Live Earth celebration to raise awareness about global warming.

Whatever one may feel about the former vice president's environmental obsessions, his son's problems are no one's cause for celebration. The younger Gore's high-profile arrest does, however, offer Americans an opportunity to get real about drug prohibition, and especially about marijuana laws.

For the record, I have no interest in marijuana except as a public policy matter. My personal drug of choice is a heavenly elixir made from crushed grapes. But it is, alas, a drug.

Tasty, attractive and highly ritualized in our culture, wine and other alcoholic beverages are approved for responsible use despite the fact that alcoholism and attendant problems are a plague, while responsible use of a weed that, at worst, makes people boring and hungry, is criminal.

Pot smokers might revolt, if they weren't so mellow.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n800.a05.html



 (3) EDITORIAL: IN THE WAR ON DRUGS, ONE VICTORY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Copyright: 2007 The Christian Science Publishing Society
Website: http://www.csmonitor.com/

Action by states and the Congress has resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of US meth labs.

Virginia's attorney general calls methamphetamine "probably the ugliest drug...in 40 years." Many other law-enforcement officials agree. So it's heartening that state and federal effort targeting these illegal uglies is hitting a bull's eye - at least in reducing the US supply of "meth."

Since the early 1990s, a meth resurgence has spawned thousands of hidden labs in motel rooms, barns, and homes in rural and suburban America. But the number of these meth kitchens is radically declining, thanks to stepped-up law enforcement and laws that restrict the supply of a key ingredient.

Meth is known to be quickly addictive, with severe health repercussions. But it also has a social ripple effect. Children of users may be abused as the user turns violent, or neglected for days during the user's crash period. Kids and neighbors are also endangered by the potentially explosive manufacturing process, which produces five pounds of toxic waste for every pound of meth.

As the meth outbreak gathered steam, though, so did many states, followed by the US Congress. Awareness, training, and shared databases helped local and federal law enforcement, and many states passed laws restricting the supply of the key meth ingredient pseudoephedrine, found in cold medicines. Last year, Congress brought uniformity to those laws by requiring pharmacies to move the medicines behind the counter and limit the amount customers can buy in a day. Customers must also show an ID.

The results are striking. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the number of lab sites seized in the US has dropped by 58 percent since the peak in 2003 - to 7,347 last year. This is an instance in which laws worked.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n797.a02.html



 (4) EDITORIAL: HIGH TIME  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 North Shore News
Website: http://www.nsnews.com/

In handing a grow operator a conditional sentence last month, North Vancouver provincial judge Doug Moss expressed frustration the court could not do more to curb his activities.

We share Moss's frustration, but we believe it is misdirected. Moss is right the system has little power to kill grow ops. But stiffer sentences would do nothing to help. Our 80-year war on drugs has shown this in abundance.

Despite the endless resources we have poured into enforcement, the drug trade has thrived. Our efforts have driven up prices to the point it is among the most lucrative industries on the planet.

Sky-high profits and a dependent consumer base have drawn criminal organizations like flies, driving them to invest enormous effort into the trade's expansion. No law will deter them.

In this sense, drug laws are arguably the biggest driver of crime in the modern world. The trade can be tied to everything from gang violence to property crime to the dangerous and destructive grow ops Moss - like the rest of us - would like to see eradicated.

It is only when we realize we're heading the wrong way, when we acknowledge our courts are indeed ineffectual under the current system, that we will begin to make progress.

Drugs - marijuana included - should be legalized, regulated, and restricted internationally, much the way cigarettes are. Drugs cannot be vanquished, but the criminals who pedal them can. The dangers of legalized drugs are manifold, but they are nothing compared to the dangers of the status quo.

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n795.a09.html


 WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW  ( Top )




COMMENTS: ( Top )

Pressure on Wall Street has been leading to increase drug use among financial workers, according to a Reuters story. Some sources cited in the article challenged the premise, but it does seem to follow stories out of some colleges in recent years which detail prescription drug use to cope with pressure and enhance academic performance.

Elsewhere, an indefatigable drug policy reformer from Illinois is challenging the use of the DARE logo on local vehicle stickers; one columnist argues its time to abandon Plan Colombia (the failures of which are discussed in the International Section of DrugSense Weekly); and a Wisconsin city adopts civil fines for low level marijuana offenders, but somehow brings driving privileges into the equation.



 (5) HILLBILLY HEROIN AND THE WALL STREET BOOM  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Calgary Herald
Author: Tim McLaughlin, Reuters

Bankers Are Buckling Under The Strain

NEW YORK - Wall Street's push for record profits is ruining careers, tearing apart families and keeping drug dealers busy, mental health experts say.

While record bonuses make some Wall Street bankers feel invincible, others become emotional wrecks from pressure to perform and some hit rock bottom, experts say.

Harris Stratyner, a psychologist at Caron's New York Recovery Center, said some executives he treats are experimenting with cocaine, opiate-based drugs, ecstasy and marijuana, as well as abusing alcohol.

"It's like they're chasing a dream. Even when they make tremendous profits, they're still worried," he said.

Alden Cass, a clinical psychologist who counsels Wall Streeters with drug addictions, said drug abuse and high anxiety are undercurrents to the current boom.

"When things are really good, they feel invulnerable," Cass said. "That can lead to adultery, substance abuse, problems with the law."

When it comes to profits, things are really good. Six of the largest U.S. investment banks -- Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, JPMorgan & Chase Co., Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns -- combined for $17.6 billion U.S. in first-quarter profit this year. That's after shelling out $28.8 billion U.S. for pay and benefits, financial statements show.

Those profit and pay figures are more than double those seen in the first quarter of 2000, the last days before the dot-com bubble burst. New York's comptroller estimates Wall Street's 2006 bonuses will generate $1.6 billion in state tax revenue.

"To my knowledge, we have not seen an uptick in drug use," Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Jean Marie McFadden said.

The other five firms declined comment or did not return telephone calls.

But Cass said opiate abuse among his clients is rising and they openly talk about being hooked on prescription drugs like OxyContin, known as hillbilly heroin.

"That's what has changed from previous booms on Wall Street," he said.

Cass and Stratyner said their clients sometimes conceal their habits by taking prescription drugs they get for back surgery or sports-related injuries. The Internet has also expanded the black market for drugs.

Wall Street professionals in their 20s use Ritalin and Adderall, prescription drugs used to treat attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity, to enhance their performance as they grind out 100-hour weeks, Cass said.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n777/a08.html



 (6) COLUMN: LAWYER WANTS DARE OFF VEHICLE STICKERS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, IL)
Copyright: 2007 Daily Southtown
Author: Phil Kadner

Jim Gierach has written a letter to the mayor of Oak Lawn, saying he is offended by village vehicle stickers that feature the insignia of one of the most popular anti-drug programs in the country -- DARE.

An attorney with offices in Oak Lawn, Gierach has spent nearly 20 years campaigning for the legalization of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

"There isn't a single problem in this country, make that the world, that isn't somehow tied to this country's prohibition against certain drugs," Gierach said during a recent telephone conversation.

"You can't afford new schools because tax money is being used to build new prisons to hold the people arrested for using or selling drugs.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n779/a04.html



 (7) COLUMN: TIME TO END PLAN COLOMBIA  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jun 2007
Source: Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)
Copyright: 2007 The Spokesman-Review
Author: Froma Harrop, Providence Journal

How to make enemies, squander billions and accomplish nothing: That's a U.S. program called Plan Colombia. Its central idea is to slow the flow of cocaine into the nostrils of American night-clubbers by poisoning crops in the Andes.

Five billion wasted dollars later, cocaine surges cheaper and purer into our cities and suburbs.

Since 2000, Plan Colombia has sprayed an area the size of Delaware and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Colombia's coca acreage rose 9 percent last year.

Indigenous peoples have been growing coca in the Andes for the last 2,000 years, give or take a few centuries. These farmers are not keen on having their culture destroyed as they're dragged into our War-on-Drugs lunacy. You can imagine.

So why do we do it?

Here's a hint: Almost half of the $630 million in military aid to Colombia last year was scooped up by U.S. defense contractors. There's money in the madness.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n757/a04.html



 (8) CITY ADOPTS BOND AMOUNTS FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSORS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jul 2007
Source: Herald Times Reporter (Manitowoc, WI)
Copyright: 2007 Herald Times Reporter
Author: Kristopher Wenn

MANITOWOC - First-time offenders of the city's new marijuana and drug paraphernalia ordinance will have to account for hefty bond amounts after Monday's Manitowoc Common Council meeting.

In June, the council moved to make possession of marijuana an ordinance violation instead of a misdemeanor charge in circuit court.

Under the recently adopted rules, first-time offenders caught with less than 8 grams will receive a city ticket. Those caught with more than 8 grams of marijuana will face a misdemeanor charge, and second and later offenses will be handled in circuit court, District Attorney Mark Rohrer said in February.

On Monday, the council voted unanimously to adopt bond amounts that were recommended by Municipal Judge Daniel Glaeser.

Adults found in possession of marijuana will have to pay a $300 bond and get a minimum six-month driver's license suspension. For possession of drug paraphernalia, adults will have to pay a $150 bond and get a six-month or longer driver's license suspension.

A juvenile in possession of marijuana will have a $150 bond and a six-month or longer suspension of the juvenile's driver's license. For possession of drug paraphernalia, juveniles will have a bond amount of $75 plus costs and will have their driver's license suspended for six months or longer.

"I think it's reasonable," said Alderman Paul Tittl. "I believe that it is painful enough to cause people to think twice . There has got to be some teeth to it for it to be effective."

[snip]

Continues: URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n791/a09.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

At least one columnist made the connection between President Bush's commutation of Lewis Libby's prison sentence as "excessive," and the hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated for excessive terms due to the war on drugs. In other news, some activists in Florida are speaking out against the racism inherent in "drug-free zones"; some drug cases are dropped in the wake of a police corruption scandal in North Carolina, but not all the cases involving the controversial officers; and the criminal case against Oxycontin continues, with the judge arranging time for victim statements.



 (9) COLUMN: LIBBY'S INDEPENDENCE DAY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Debra J. Saunders

OK. I'M GLAD President Bush commuted the 30-month prison sentence of Scooter Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Like Bush, I buy the jury's verdict that Libby committed perjury and obstructed justice in a Department of Justice probe to discover who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Perjury is no small crime and Libby could have spared himself a long legal ordeal, if only he had not lied to investigators. Libby made his own bed.

That said, Libby's prosecution has seemed overwrought and overly political from the beginning. Note that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald never prosecuted Richard Armitage, who originally leaked the operative's identity.

Bush split the judge's sentence down the middle. He did not pardon Libby, but instead upheld the $250,000 fine and two years of probation. Bush reasoned that the fine, probation and prison time, however, were "excessive."

As Bush noted in a written statement, in making the sentencing decision, the judge "rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation."

My complaint is that Bush did not commute other sentences for individuals serving "excessive" time under the federal mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

About an hour after the news, Amy Ralston called me. Ralston had been sentenced to 24 years for her role in her former husband's reputed Ecstasy ring, until President Clinton commuted her sentence in July 2000.

"I only look at it one way," Ralston said. "I want to know if he granted additional pardons for other people who are serving 20 to life for minor drug crimes. I know so many who have had their petitions denied by the Bush administration, who are deserving."

Ralston was crying as she discussed friends left behind in prison, serving sentences far longer than their crimes warranted. ( Her Web site is http://www.candoclemency.com/ )

As long as Bush is looking at "excessive" sentences that cry out for a presidential fix, he should consider the sad case of Clarence Aaron. Aaron was 22 years old when he made the huge mistake of hooking up two drug dealers for two cocaine deals. He was paid $1,500 - -- but because he did not testify against the big fish in the deal and he pleaded not guilty, he was sentenced to life without parole -- that's right, life without parole -- for a first-time nonviolent drug offense.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n788/a02.html



 (10) DRUG-FREE ZONES UNFAIRLY TARGET BLACKS, CRITIC SAY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2007
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Palm Beach Post

BOYNTON BEACH -- The 400 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard, where four men stood on a recent Sunday beckoning passing cars, doesn't appear to enjoy special protection from drug crimes.

But with two signs warning that this city street is a "drug-free" zone, this neighborhood of modest homes and aged apartment complexes is one of the front lines of a quarter-century-old "war on drugs."

It is a war that has seen years of casualties with no end in sight; the number of people imprisoned for drug-related crimes has only climbed each year since 1982. And while police say the heightened penalties for selling drugs in drug-free zones fortify their position, critics say the size and number of these zones have only increased the toll with a disproportionate impact on black offenders.

"The crimes aren't being displaced because there's nowhere to displace them to. There's no incentive for drug dealers to move," said Ben Barlyn, a New Jersey deputy attorney general who heads a state commission that in 2004 examined the impact of drug-free zones in that state.

That study, followed by two more, concluded that drug-free zones cover densely populated urban corridors where black neighborhoods predominate. As a result, researchers said, zones have created two systems of justice, penalizing black offenders for where they live as well as for their crimes, while white offenders who tend to live and work out of the zone face lesser penalties.

Those examining the impact of drug laws have pointed to other factors leading to disproportionate numbers of blacks serving time for drug crimes, including higher penalties for crack cocaine than powder cocaine, and for street narcotics than unauthorized prescription drugs. Racial profiling also has been cited as contributing to racially disparate incarceration rates.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n776/a08.html



 (11) FORMER DEPUTIES' CASES TO PROCEED  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jul 2007
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Fayetteville Observer
Author: Venita Jenkins

LUMBERTON -- The Robeson County district attorney says he plans to prosecute cases that were handled by deputies who have pleaded guilty as part of a federal investigation into corruption in the Sheriff's Office. Johnson Britt said he doesn't think the recent pleas by the former lawmen will have an adverse effect on the cases.

Britt said he plans to prosecute what he calls victim cases -- murders, assaults and robberies -- where the state can rely on testimony from victims and other witnesses.

"If you have a confession or statement of omission of responsibility, there is no grounds to dismiss it," he said. "There may be other evidence to substantiate the statements. So the former deputies' involvement doesn't become a major issue."

Sixteen deputies with the Robeson County Sheriff's Office pleaded guilty between December and May to various charges in U.S. District Court. Their pleas came after a four-year investigation called Operation Tarnished Badge. High-ranking officers, including the chief of detectives and a homicide investigator, were among those accused of various criminal violations, including conspiracy to violate racketeering laws, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the government, conspiracy to commit satellite piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The number of cases involving the lawmen is in the hundreds, Britt said. Those cases include forgery, breaking and entering and at least a dozen murder cases.

"It runs the gamut," Britt said. The District Attorney's Office has dismissed 200 to 300 drug cases involving 130 defendants since 2004.

Those cases included drug trafficking charges, Britt said. The cases were investigated by members of the sheriff's Drug Enforcement Division. Several of its members were charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the government and conspiracy to commit satellite piracy.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n783/a09.html



 (12) JUDGE IN OXYCONTIN CASE INVITES VICTIMS TO SPEAK  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jul 2007
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2007 Roanoke Times
Author: Laurence Hammack

Prosecutors Have Already Said That Identifying Victims Of The Deceptively Marketed Drug Would Be Difficult

981-3239 Those wishing to speak at the July 20 hearing must notify the U.S. Attorney's Office in Abingdon by July 18.

Before sentencing three pharmaceutical executives for overpromoting OxyContin, a federal judge wants to hear from the victims of what prosecutors are calling one of the greatest prescription drug failures in U.S. history.

In an order filed Monday, U.S. District Judge James Jones said he will allow brief statements at a July 20 sentencing hearing from any of those who consider themselves a victim of Purdue Pharma's crimes.

That could include a grieving parent who lost a child to an overdose, an addict who emptied his bank account to pay for pills, or an insurance company that paid millions of dollars a year to cover OxyContin prescriptions.

Jones -- who has raised questions about a plea agreement that calls for $634.5 million in fines but no jail time for Purdue's top three executives -- apparently intends to hear from the witnesses before deciding whether to accept the agreement.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n787/a06.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

The potential consequences of a marijuana conviction vary considerably within the United States. Thus a new report from the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, "Life Sentences: Collateral Sanctions Associated With Marijuana Offenses," on line at http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/rpts/col_sanctions.htm, should be a "Must Read" for not only users but also any lawyer who defends anyone arrested for marijuana.

In Canada popular support for legalizing marijuana is close to a majority nationally, and has a solid majority in a few provinces. The efforts to send the message to Parliament are many. One is the Freedom Tour.

In Colorado a judge questions the logic behind a Colorado Department of Health and Environment five-patient policy for the number of patients an authorized medicinal marijuana grower may have.

In Oregon an attempt is being made to destroy the state's medicinal marijuana law through an initiative. Hidden deep in the proposed initiative is a requirement that only pills containing a synthetic form of THC be authorized for use, as if the 59 other known medically active chemicals in marijuana did not exist. While the initiative is a long way from even being on a ballot, patients and their supporters need to be alert for efforts like The Oregon Crimefighting Act of 2008, on line at http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/irr/2008/104text.pdf



 (13) NATION'S POT PENALTIES CALLED A HODGEPODGE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Smoke a joint in Alabama or Oregon, and you can permanently lose the right to adopt a child. Smoke one in Oklahoma, and you're ineligible ever to be a foster parent. Light up in Utah, and get a lifelong eviction notice from public housing.

Grow a marijuana plant in any one of a dozen states, including California, and you're permanently barred from receiving welfare or food stamps.

Those laws and others are detailed in the first nationwide study of the consequences of marijuana convictions, in areas ranging from family life to voting and jury service. Researchers headed by a Northern California lawyer said they had found a hodgepodge of state and federal restrictions that seemed to conflict with the overall trend of reduced criminal penalties for pot.

[snip]

The study was released by the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, which Boire described as a group of academics and lawyers studying ethical and legal issues involving new technologies and drugs. It was funded by the Marijuana Policy Project.

The report ranks states by the extent of the penalties that accompany a marijuana conviction, apart from a criminal sentence. California -- where legislators reduced criminal penalties for personal possession of pot to a traffic-ticket-type infraction in 1975, and where voters passed the nation's first law legalizing medical marijuana in 1996 -- was among the least severe in noncriminal sanctions. The report ranked it as tied with Pennsylvania and Kansas for 42nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Florida was listed as having the harshest noncriminal penalties and New Mexico the least severe.

The lifetime ban on welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony, which includes cultivation of marijuana, was part of a 1996 federal welfare law signed by President Bill Clinton.

The law allows states to pass their own laws that partly or completely restore eligibility for welfare and food stamps. All but 12 states have passed some such law, the report said. California is one of the 12.

[snip]

Other findings included:

Possession of marijuana can result in ineligibility to become an adoptive parent in 38 states, and a lifetime ban in seven states. California is not among them.

Twenty states, though not California, allow their agencies to deny professional and occupational licenses to anyone convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor, regardless of whether it had any connection to the person's work.

Most states make people with any marijuana conviction ineligible for publicly subsidized housing for a certain period, usually at least three years. California is one of only four states with no such restriction. A separate federal law allows public housing tenants to be evicted for any drug-related activity, on or off the premises, by any resident or guest.

A 1998 law bars federal grants and loans to any student with a drug conviction. In addition, 28 states, though not California, withhold state financial aid from students with drug convictions, including marijuana possession.

In 21 states and the District of Columbia, a conviction for marijuana possession can result in a driver's license suspension for at least six months. California is not among them, but the state suspends a driver's license for up to three years for driving under the influence of drugs or committing a drug crime that involved a motor vehicle. Minors convicted of any drug crime in California lose their license for at least a year.

In six states, people convicted of marijuana cultivation and other felonies can be banned from voting for life. In 23 states, including California, and the District of Columbia, drug felons are barred from jury service for life.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n796/a04.html



 (14) MEN ROLLING CROSS-COUNTRY TO FREE POT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jul 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Lexi Bainas

If you saw a man rollerblading through the Cowichan Valley late last week following a vehicle sporting a huge flag and sign, you were seeing the first leg of a cross-Canada trek that won't finish until Remembrance Day.

It's a long haul for the rollerblader Neil Magnuson and his driver, Bert Easterbrook, but both men say it's worth it to get across their point.

They're concerned that government, particularly in Ottawa, is beginning to look upon itself as Canada's moral arbiter, even though no one elected politicians to fulfill that role.

Magnuson laced up the blades last year on his first trip to Ottawa. This is the second of what both men hope will be an annual event.

[snip]

He wants government to take control of the pot trade. "There's enormous costs and damage that's being done by anti-drug prohibition. Criminal groups are being formed to handle the supply side because the government refuses to take control of these substances the people demand. The very act of prohibition only makes these drugs more alluring for some people so use and abuse goes up."

Easterbrook said they're operating on a shoestring but are hopeful they'll be able to get their points across. They're posting their progress at freedomtour.ca

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n792/a05.html



 (15) JUDGE TEMPORARILY HALTS MEDICAL MARIJUANA LIMIT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jul 2007
Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2007 Denver Publishing Co.
Author: David Montero, Rocky Mountain News

For now, David Damien LaGoy can get his marijuana - thanks in large part to a judge's ruling Tuesday.

LaGoy sued the state because the registered medical marijuana provider he wanted to use, Daniel Pope, had reached the state's five-patient maximum and couldn't help him.

The lawsuit claimed the five-patient rule was unfair. Denver District Judge Larry Naves agreed, calling the policy arbitrary. Naves granted an injunction that temporarily allows registered providers to take on as many patients as they like.

"There is no reason this plaintiff should suffer," Naves said.

[snip]

Lawyers for the Colorado attorney general's office argued there were many medical marijuana providers registered with the state and that LaGoy had options. State Registrar Ron Hyman testified that of the 636 caregivers registered with the state, 548 were single-patient providers - meaning each one could take on four more patients under the state statute.

But LaGoy said providers were hard to find and that he had developed a trusting relationship with Pope.

[snip]

No date has been set for LaGoy's lawsuit to be tried on its merits, although attorneys for LaGoy believe it could happen in the fall. Based on LaGoy's health, Naves said he was inclined to hurry things along.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n797/a01.html



 (16) TAKING UP THE FIGHT TO PROTECT MEDICAL MARIJUANA  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jun 2007
Source: Newberg Graphic (OR)
Copyright: 2007 Newberg Graphic
Author: David Sale, Newberg Graphic reporter

Newberg resident Pamela Sterling is not ashamed of her drug use. Due to chronic illness, the 43-year-old former registered nurse enrolled four years ago in Oregon's medical marijuana program, one of 231 current members in Yamhill County.

Approved by voters in 1998, participants are issued cards identifying them as members on the recommendation of a qualified doctor -- a M.D. or osteopath (D.O.) -- who has diagnosed them with a qualifying condition such as glaucoma, cancer, Alzheimer's disease or chronic pain. Enrollment allows members to possess and use marijuana, as well as to grow up to seven marijuana plants for personal use.

"I used to work as a labor and delivery (OB/GYN) nurse and I injured my neck and shoulder (on a difficult birth)," Sterling said. "I have a lot of muscle tremors and spasms and I used to be on a lot of pills, but medical marijuana has taken the place of that."

Sterling is not alone in her experience. A 2004 study at the University of California in San Francisco has shown that medical marijuana can lower, by up to half, a patient's narcotics use.

[snip]

So when Sterling heard that former state representative and political activist Kevin Mannix (R-Salem) was preparing an initiative that would replace Oregon's medical marijuana program with synthetic alternatives, she decided to speak out.

"I'm not lighting a joint and trying to stick it in someone else's mouth," she said. "I only want the right to medicate myself the way my physicians and I see fit."

Mannix' proposal, titled "The Oregon Crimefighting Act of 2008," addresses many more issues than medical marijuana. Among its provisions are a program of tax credits to fund methamphetamine investigation and treatment; stiffer sentences for repeat arrests for drunk driving or sexual offenses; and increasing law enforcement.

But the act would also require the use of Marinol or Cesamet -- pills containing a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana -- to be used in place of medical marijuana.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n774/a08.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

Ten Ugandan nationals who were arrested for body-packing heroin into China "will soon be lined up for public execution as punishment," said Ugandan youth minister James Kinobe this week. Apparently, the trial is a mere formality, the outcome having been decided already. "It's very sad that our people will soon be killed in China for drug trafficking... They were arrested recently and are now still in jail waiting for trial."

Canadians in British Columbia want the Insite supervised injection center to stay, according to the results of a poll of almost 900 adults in the province that was released last week. 63% of adults asked in a Mustel Group survey said the government should allow Insite to stay, and 76% of those polled in Vancouver agree. Such results were surprising, given the government's low-key approach to telling the public about the site. "What is significant is that a majority of people support it when no effort has been made by the government to educate the public about the site or harm reduction," noted Ann Livingston, executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

The U.S. has dumped more than 5 billion dollars into Plan Colombia since 2000, and what's there to show for it? The U.S. cocaine market is saturated. Cocaine is cheaper, more pure, and more plentiful than ever, despite dousing Colombian rainforests with plant poisons. A piece from this week's St. Petersburg Times newspaper puts the situation in a bit of perspective. Although U.S. prohibition officials paint a scary scenario where, "funding cuts in the spraying program could flood the United States in even more cocaine," Congressional Democrats proposed cutting the Plan Colombia budget, and diverting much of the money to economic and social programs, away from military and spraying.

And we leave you this week with news from New Zealand, where, after months of political posturing, moralizing and grandstanding, New Zealand politicians banned the so-called "party pill" BZP. BZP, popular in New Zealand precisely because the more popular MDMA was already banned, will join the ranks of drugs for which possession will result in fines and jail time. Although the government "found no evidence of deaths from the pills," and "conceded there was no guarantee a ban would lead to decreased use of party pills," a ban was sought anyway by prohibitionists. Expect deaths to rise as adulterated "party pills" containing the more popular MDMA quickly fills the demand, as elsewhere worldwide.



 (17) 10 UGANDANS FACE DEATH IN CHINA OVER NARCOTICS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jul 2007
Source: Monitor, The (Uganda)
Copyright: 2007 The Monitor.
Authors: Yasiin Mugerwa and Jude Luggya

KAMPALA -- TEN Ugandans held on charges of illicit drug trafficking in China will soon be lined up for public execution as punishment, a government minister has said. James Kinobe, the state minister for youth who has just returned from China, said some 10 Ugandans were duped into illicit drug smuggling by a network of gangs to act as carriers of heroin pills to China.

[snip]

"The suspects, who are aged between 18 and 23, including one woman, were found with heroin amounting to over 1.5kg each, far beyond the limit. This automatically spells a death sentence," Mr Kinobe said.

While speaking on a local FM radio in Kampala on Thursday, Mr Kinobe revealed that if the 10, Ugandans are found guilty, they will be executed. The minister, however, said there are diplomatic efforts by the two governments to try and save the lives of the suspects.

[snip]

"It's very sad that our people will soon be killed in China for drug trafficking. Most of these people are youth who wanted to make cheap money. They were arrested recently and are now still in jail waiting for trial," Mr Kinobe said.

[snip]

A source told Daily Monitor over the weekend that the Ugandan government, through Amnesty International, is desperately calling on the Chinese government to halt these executions pending diplomatic negotiations.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n783.a03.html



 (18) 63% OF B.C. PEOPLE WANT INSITE TO STAY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2007
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Inc
Author: Matt Kieltyka, 24 Hours

The future of Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site may be in doubt, but harm reduction advocates are encouraged by the results of a recent public survey.

According to a Mustel Group survey released yesterday, 63 per cent of B.C. adults think the federal government should extend InSite's licence beyond this year.

Among Vancouver residents alone, that number jumps to 76 per cent.

The survey, which polled 852 B.C. adults, has a margin of error of 3.4 per cent.

"What is significant is that a majority of people support it when no effort has been made by the government to educate the public about the site or harm reduction," said Ann Livingston, the executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU).

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n781.a08.html



 (19) BILLIONS SPENT, BUT DRUG TRADE GROWS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jun 2007
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2007 St. Petersburg Times
Author: David Adams, Times Latin America correspondent

Critics And Farmers Say Old Approaches Aren't Working In Colombia.

[snip]

Despite its apparent lack of precision, U.S. and Colombian officials defend the spray program as the most efficient means of eliminating coca production in Colombia, the world's largest producer of cocaine.

But critics of antinarcotics policy in Colombia say the latest data shows that eight years of intense spraying of coca crops, at a cost of billions in U.S. taxpayers' money, have failed to make a dent in the illegal drug market.

The latest U.S. government estimate puts the amount of coca in Colombia at 385, 500 acres in 2006 -- 27 percent more than in 1999 when "Plan Colombia" was enacted. It was the third straight year of increases.

More coca has meant more cocaine. A recent dip in the street price of cocaine and a rise in purity points to an abundant supply.

Democrats in Congress, concerned over the disappointing results of the drug war, want to slash funding for the spray program. Instead, they propose spending more on social and economic projects, including funding for alternative crops to replace coca.

But U.S. and Colombian officials warn that funding cuts in the spraying program could flood the United States in even more cocaine. Colombia says it cannot afford to run the spray program on its own.

[snip]

Colombia is the largest recipient of U.S. aid outside the Middle East and Afghanistan, more $5.4-billion since 2000 when Plan Colombia went into effect.

Of that money about $4.4-billion is military-related aid, while $1-billion is social and economic funds, including alternative agriculture and support for democratic institutions.

About three-quarters of the military aid is dedicated to supporting the aerial crop spraying program, which uses an enhanced form of Roundup weed killer, containing the chemical defoliant glyphosate.

What's next -- the 2008 budget

The Bush administration has asked Congress for $590-million for Colombia in the Foreign Aid Bill. As in previous years the majority of this money -- $450-million -- would be dedicated to military support.

Democrats in Congress this week proposed cutting the overall budget by about 10 percent to $530.6-million, of which only $290-million would be for military support, including deep cuts in the aerial fumigation program. Democrats have proposed increasing economic and social funding by $100-million.

"This is a major step away from what's happened in the last years," said Adam Isacson with the Center for International Policy.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n780.a09.html



 (20) BAN MAKES PARTY PILL TRADE WORSE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jun 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald

Matt Bowden, of the Social Tonics Association, doubts the Government's decision to ban the manufacturing and sale of party pills will be the end of the matter. "Legal party pills are an established part of the social scene and you can't pretend that you can just ban them without generating a reaction," he says. He, and others in the trade, see it prospering underground, possibly with gangs becoming far more involved. They would, of course, say that, especially while fighting to keep the trade legal to those aged over 18. Unfortunately, however, there is a good chance they are right.

[snip]

The Government has acted on the recommendation late last year of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, which studied research on the danger of party pills containing benzylpiperazine (BZP). It found no evidence of deaths from the pills but worried about their frequent use with other substances, such as alcohol, or in high doses. It conceded there was no guarantee a ban would lead to decreased use of party pills but suggested their side-effects, such as nausea, dehydration and lack of appetite, would dissuade use if they became harder to find, more expensive and carried the risk of a fine or imprisonment.

[snip]

Yet, in practice, a ban will, as those in the industry suggest, drive the pill trade underground with the rest of the illegal drug business. A more cogent response would have been to place stricter regulations on the making and sale of party pills, especially in relation to the BZP dosage and the presence of illicit substances.

[snip]

This would certainly suffice until more definitive research is done into the long-term consequences of BZP use. This may, or may not, confirm the validity of the Government's decision. Until then, a ban is based more on morality than measured thought. One thing is certain. The party pill trade is about to become more dangerous for all those involved and significantly harder to control.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n777.a04.html


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )

STANDING SILENT NATION  ( Top )

"The Navajo Nation and a number of different Indian reservations have passed legislation to grow industrial hemp, but they are all waiting for me to get it legalized, so I have to do a lot of work. " - Alex White Plume

http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/standing/update.html



ROMNEY, TORTURE, AND TEENS  ( Top )

The former governor's connections to abusive "tough love" camps

Maia Szalavitz, June 27, 2007

http://www.reason.com/news/show/121088.html



WHY CORY BOOKER IS MAD AS HELL  ( Top )

Enraged by his city's unfair drug policies, the Newark mayor vows to stop being polite and start making a difference.

By Debra Dickerson

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/07/05/cory_booker/



NET DANGER  ( Top )

Online searches are new, and problematic, tools for border guards

By Samer Elatrash

There is nothing more perilous at a border crossing than a Google- happy border guard. Over the past year, two Canadians reported they were denied entry into the U.S. after a border guard Googled their names and decided, based on the search results, that they were undesirables.

http://www.montrealmirror.com/2007/070507/news1.html



IN POT WE TRUST  ( Top )

Provocative documentary takes an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding medical marijuana premieres July 9th on Showtime

http://www.sho.com/site/announcements/20070611inpot.do



CULTURAL BAGGAGE RADIO SHOW  ( Top )

Tonight: 0706/07 - Voices from U.S. Social Forum, panel "How to end the drug war, today" Pt.2 + Aaron Dixon of Center House, Poppygate, Black Perspective & Drug War Facts

Audio: http://drugtruth.net/007DTNaudio/FDBCB_070607.mp3

Last: 06/29/07 - Presidential Candidate Ron Paul discusses the drug war (2003 rebroadcast) plus Drug War Facts

Audio: http://drugtruth.net/007DTNaudio/FDBCB_062907.mp3



THE MAPS BULLETIN  ( Top )

Volume XVII, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2007

The MAPS Bulletin is published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v17n1/maps-sprsmr07.pdf



BAN LIFTED ON D.C. NEEDLE EXCHANGE  ( Top )

Talk of the Nation, July 2, 2007 Last week, Congress lifted a ban that prevented the use of District of Columbia tax dollars for needle exchange programs. The programs allow drug users to exchange dirty needles for clean ones in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV.

Susan Levine, reporter, the Washington Post

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11664095


 WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK  ( Top )

NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION WEBSITE  ( Top )

DrugSense is proud to announce a new and improved LEAP website is now online, thanks in part to our tech team members Deb Harper and Matt Elrod. Surf on by and CREATE AN ACCOUNT to enjoy all the site features; blogs, audio/video, forums, photos, networking and much more.

http://www.leap.cc/



DPA SEEKS PART-TIME WEBSITE ASSISTANT  ( Top )

Note: this position requires the candidate live in the Washington DC area. Telecommuting will not be considered.

http://www.drugpolicy.org/about/jobsfunding/jobs/


 LETTER OF THE WEEK  ( Top )

WHERE'S THE HARM?  ( Top )

By Ralph Givens

Re: "Caught in the middle" ( Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, June 21 ):

The very idea that people are being imprisoned for using marijuana makes me ashamed to be an American. When I hear that Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Wong is using fraudulent evidence to convict a medical marijuana user, my disgust becomes complete.

Refusing to recognize the right of California voters to legalize medical marijuana makes President Bush guilty of lying, because before he was elected he said, "I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose."

What evil has Bryan Epis done by growing and using marijuana? Has he murdered anyone under the influence? Has he gone on a one-man crime wave because of smoking pot? Has Epis assaulted, robbed or done any wrong to his fellow man because of using marijuana?

If Epis has harmed no one, why is he facing [the resumption of] a 10- year prison sentence? Could it be because of the fables, fictions and false witness marijuana prohibition is based on? It is a sign of moral bankruptcy to enforce such absurd laws.

RALPH GIVENS

Daly City

Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2007
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n742/a05.html


 FEATURE ARTICLE  ( Top )

And the Winner Is ...  ( Top )

By Mary Jane Borden

Volunteers form the core of DrugSense's mission to advance the cause of drug policy reform, and we recognize these volunteers and contributors with several different awards.

One 'winner' recognized each week is the individual who writes the best reform-focused Letter-to-the-Editor (LTE). Volunteer, Derek Rea, scans the hundreds of LTEs submitted each week to the MAP DrugNews Archive. From these, he picks five that best convey the reform message. He then posts links to these five on a couple of DrugSense e-mail discussion lists. List members vote for the best LTE, and the winning LTE is published in that week's DrugSense Weekly.

Winning LTE authors have included well-known reform advocates like Bruce Mirken of MPP or Loretta Nall, as well as ordinary concerned citizens. Those who have composed the most LTEs during a particular month are recognized as the Letter Writer of the Month.

At the We Get Published page, DrugSense also honors LTE writers who have written the most letters over the last ten years. This page lists the top ten letter writers and the dollar values for reform accrued from their effort. (http://www.mapinc.org/lte/) DrugSense confers three Published Letters Awards to top writers ( http://www.mapinc.org/lteaward.htm).

The Silver LTE Award is given to the writer who has at least 100 published letters in the MAP archive. Twelve LTE authors have been recognized with this award.

The Gold LTE Award is accorded to those who have more than 500 published LTEs. Only two writers have achieved this remarkable feat, Robert Sharpe and Kirk Muse.

Only one letter writer has earned our highest award, the Platinum LTE Award. Robert Sharpe has had a remarkable 1,741 LTEs published in the last ten years. That's the equivalent of giving drug policy reform over $1.7 million of free advertising.

Sharpe has also been honored with the Letter Writer of the Year award four times in the last seven years: 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2002. In 2006 alone, 226 of his letters were published in response to a newspaper or magazine article in the DrugNews Archive.

On a final note, DrugSense was the proud recipient of the prestigious 2005 Robert C. Randall Award for Citizen Activism from the Drug Policy Alliance. This award not only recognized us, but also the volunteers who have help make a difference through DrugSense.

Mary Jane Borden is a writer, artist, and activist in drug policy from Westerville, Ohio. She serves as Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist for DrugSense.


 QUOTE OF THE WEEK  ( Top )

"Freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with champagne...Oh no! It's a...long distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting." - Albert Camus


DS Weekly is one of the many free educational services DrugSense offers our members. Watch this feature to learn more about what DrugSense can do for you.

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CREDITS:

Policy and Law Enforcement/Prison content selection and analysis by Stephen Young (steve@drugsense.org), Cannabis/Hemp content selection and analysis by Richard Lake (rlake@mapinc.org), International content selection and analysis by Doug Snead (doug@drugsense.org), This Just In selection, Hot Off The Net selection and Layout by Matt Elrod (webmaster@drugsense.org). Analysis comments represent the personal views of editors, not necessarily the views of DrugSense.

We wish to thank all our contributors, editors, NewsHawks and letter writing activists. Please help us help reform. Become a NewsHawk See http://www.mapinc.org/hawk.htm for info on contributing clippings.



NOTICE:  ( Top )

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MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION TO DRUGSENSE ON-LINE  ( Top )

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