This Just In
(1)Drug Case Could Backfire In Mexico
(2)Column: The Police Aren't Experts On Drug Use
(3)Drug Czar Gives Warning
(4)Oped: The Paris Effect

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Laurence Iliff, The Dallas Morning News

Government Denies Claims That Seized Cash Was Tied to Ruling Party

MEXICO CITY - President Felipe Calderon's biggest bust in his biggest battle - against drug traffickers who have taken over large swaths of territory as they move narcotics to the U.S. - yielded no drugs and no cartel kingpins.

Mexican and U.S. authorities seized more than $200 million from Mr. Ye Gon's home in Mexico City in March. Authorities have called it the largest cash seizure in history. When federal police raided a house in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood, they found the largest stash of alleged drug money in the history of the fight, the government said. It came in at $205 million. Guns and equipment to make amphetamine pills were also seized, authorities said. Seven people, most household employees, were arrested.

The huge cash reserve came from the illegal sale of a restricted cold medicine, pseudoephedrine, to narco labs that turn it into illegal methamphetamine, officials said.

Zhenli Ye Gon, in New York last month, accused Mexico's ruling party of using him to hoard illegal money. Mr. Calderon's approval rating, boosted by the drug war in general, hit 65 percent.

But recent video images of the home's owner - the Mexican nationalized Chinese native Zhenli Ye Gon - strolling New York streets and accusing the ruling party of using him to hoard its illegal money now threatens to taint the spectacular DEA-assisted seizure.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Dan Gardner

Well, thank goodness the Conservative government has silenced all talk of liberalizing Canada's marijuana laws. The way things were going, teenagers may have completely stopped smoking pot.

What's that, you say? I have it backward?

Everybody knows it's the namby-pamby approach that leads to more teens using drugs, while a hard line keeps kids on the straight and narrow. It's common sense. It's what the police say. And as we all know, what the police say is the gold standard of common sense.

When the renowned social scientists of the Canadian Police Association testified to a Senate committee on illicit drugs, they claimed there is lots of evidence that liberal drug policies lead to greater drug use. "Legalization and permissiveness will increase drug use and abuse substantially," a spokesman told the senators.

Everybody knows the police are the real experts on drugs, right? And the experts came out against decriminalization. Even talking about it sends a bad message to the kids, they argued. It says the drug is harmless. Acceptable. Keep it up, the police warned, and pretty soon your kid's high school will look like the set of a Cheech and Chong movie.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2007
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Record Searchlight
Author: Dylan Darling

Federal Official Calls Marijuana Growers Dangerous Terrorists

The nation's top anti-drug official said people need to overcome their "reefer blindness" and see that illicit marijuana gardens are a terrorist threat to the public's health and safety, as well as to the environment.

John P. Walters, President Bush's drug czar, said the people who plant and tend the gardens are terrorists who wouldn't hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties. Walters made the comments at a Thursday press conference that provided an update on the "Operation Alesia" marijuana- eradication effort.

"Don't buy drugs. They fund violence and terror," he said.

After touring gardens raided this week in Shasta County, Walters said the officers who are destroying the gardens are performing hard, dangerous work in rough terrain. He said growers have been known to have weapons, including assault rifles.

"These people are armed; they're dangerous," he said. He called them "violent criminal terrorists."




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Alan Young

We Should Consider Jailing More Celebs If We Want To Develop Sound Justice Policies

When Paris Hilton was languishing in jail reading her Bible, the Los Angeles Times set out to determine if her sentence was consistent with the punishments meted out to offenders in similar circumstances. To that end, the paper reviewed 2 million cases, found 1,500 that resembled Hilton's and concluded that in fact she was sentenced more harshly than most.

The research undertaken by the Times is the type of methodical and comprehensive approach needed for the development of sound public policy, but it appears this empirical work will only be done when the rich and famous stumble into the clutches of the criminal justice industrial complex.

This data deficiency struck me last month when alleged Versace Crew gang member Nicholas Ebanks was acquitted of attempted murder.

Justice W. Brian Trafford of the Ontario Superior Court excluded all the incriminating evidence obtained through a wiretap investigation because the police showed a "reckless disregard for the truth" when they applied for the tap. Their application was riddled with misleading inaccuracies and speculative opinions asserted as proven facts.

I often wonder how many other prosecutions of serious offences fall apart because public officials fail to respect the constitutional and procedural requirements for investigation. The sad truth is that no one really knows, because no one is keeping track.


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Alan Young



It was a relatively light week in national news, leading to the selection of our first story. A U.S. Senator and reliable drug warrior was outed by a former roommate as a college pot smoker. Interesting, but how many of our current national legislators didn't smoke pot in college? In other political news, at least one U.S. Presidential candidate has spoken out against prohibition, at least as it is practiced in urban areas. At the same time, yet another report shows drug abuse as a problem for which the drug war is no cure. And, some good news for students in Tennessee, who may get protection from random drug testing from the state's constitution.


Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Norman Kent

Editor's Note: The following is a letter addressed to Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman -- a strong advocate of the brutal federal drug laws on the books -- reminding him that he used to be a happy, safe, fun-loving pot smoker.

My friend Norman,

Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope.

Sure, we had to tape the doors shut, burn incense and open the windows, but we got high, and yet we grew up okay, without the help of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's advice.

We grew up to become lawyers. Our other friends, as you go down the list, are doctors, professors, parents, political consultants and professionals. No one ever got cancer from smoking pot or diabetes from using a joint. And the days of our youth we look back fondly upon as years where we stood up, were counted and made a difference, from Earth Day in 1970 to helping bring down a president and end a war in Southeast Asia a few years later. We smoked pot when we took over Weller Hall to protest administrative abuses of students' rights. You smoked pot as you stood on the roof of the University Senate protesting faculty exclusivity. As the President of the Student Senate in 1969, you condemned the raid by Nassau County police on our dormitories, busting scores of students for pot possession.

You never said then that pot was dangerous. What was scary then, and is as frightening now, is when national leaders become voices of hypocrisy, harbingers of the status quo, and protect their own position instead of the public good. Welcome to the crowd of those who have become a likeness of which they despised. Welcome to the mindless myriad of legislators who gather in cocktail lounges to manhandle their martinis while passing laws against drunk driving.

We have seen more people die last year from spinach then pot. We have endured generations of drug addicts overdosing on a multitude of drugs, from heroin to crystal methamphetamine. In your public life, as an attorney general, mayor and United States senator, you have been in the forefront of speaking out against abuses which are harmful. You have been a noble and honorable public servant. How about not being such a dope on dope?

How about admitting that if the Rockefeller drug laws were applied to Norman Bruce Coleman on Long Island in 1968, or to me, or to our friends, and fellow students, you, I and others we knew and loved might just be getting out of jail now? How about recognizing that for too long too many have been wrongly arrested, unjustly prosecuted and illegally incarcerated for unconscionable periods of time?




Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jul 2007
Source: Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, IL)
Copyright: 2007 Daily Southtown
Author: DeWayne Wickham, Guest columnist

Of the eight Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination, I think it's fair to say former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel is the longest of the long shots.

In presidential preference polls, support for him hovers around 1 percent. When it comes to fundraising, his campaign coffers are nearly bare. So it's not surprising journalists tend to treat Gravel as a gadfly.

And that's what I thought of him late last month when I sat across from the Democratic presidential candidates on the stage of Howard University's Crampton Auditorium. I was one of the three journalists who got to question the full field of Democratic contenders during a PBS presidential forum hosted by Tavis Smiley.

The 90-minute, nationally televised program was billed as a chance for the candidates to "address issues of concern to black America."

When the eight Democrats came on stage, they were introduced by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the only sitting black governor -- and only the second black governor ever.

Virtually everyone was there to see and hear the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination -- New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. In terms of polling numbers and money raised, they are light-years ahead of Gravel.

But when the forum ended, it was what Gravel said that I found most intriguing.

When journalist Michel Martin of NPR asked the candidates what they would do about the "scourge" of HIV/AIDS infection among black teenagers, Gravel's answer -- though not on point -- hit an important mark.

"The scourge of our present society, particularly in the African-American community, is the war on drugs," Gravel said in response to a question about the high rate of HIV/AIDS infections among black teenagers.

Then he said this about the other Democrats on the stage: "If they really want to do something about the inner cities, if they really want to do something about what's happening to the health of the African-American community, it's time to end this war. ... All it does is create criminals out of people who are not criminals."

His words drew applause from the mostly black audience, but not even a nod of agreement from the other Democrats on stage with him.




Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas
Author: Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Drug abuse experts say the arrest of Al Gore's son underscores the growing problem of prescription drug abuse among America's youth. College students use the stimulant Adderall, an attention-deficit drug, to get a speedy high or pull all-nighters.

The other drugs police say they found in Al Gore III's possession -- marijuana, Xanax, Valium and Vicodin -- also are campus favorites, experts say.

"Al Gore's son is just like everyone else's," said Dr. Donald Misch, director of health services at Northwestern University in Evanston. "The only thing missing was the No. 1 abused drug, which is alcohol."

Al Gore III's arrest may raise awareness among parents, Misch said.

"This is an opportunity for people to understand this is happening in your household," he said. "These are your kids. The drug dealers they're going to are their doctors, their parents and their friends."

Students commonly pair pills with beer and cigarettes, experts say. They trade tips about the effects of prescription drugs on networking sites like Facebook and trade pills they've stolen from home medicine cabinets, ordered on the Internet or taken from friends with legitimate prescriptions.




Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jul 2007
Source: Tennessean, The (Nashville, TN)
Copyright: 2007 The Tennessean
Author: Jaime Sarrio, Staff Writer

Opinion May Affect Midstate Schools

A new state attorney general's opinion could jeopardize random drug-testing programs at several Midstate high schools, including those in Wilson County.

The opinion, issued this week, states that Tennessee school districts cannot randomly test students for drugs just because they participate in extracurricular activities. Despite two decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that random drug testing does not violate a student's rights, state law provides more protection than the U.S. Constitution against search and seizure.

A survey by The Tennessean last fall found that of the 137 high schools in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, 40 have drug-testing policies. More districts are exploring the idea of random drug tests for athletes and club participants.

Grant Now in Question

"I'm disappointed," said Ralph Ringstaff, a school board member in Williamson County, where school officials applied for a $560,000 federal grant to launch a random drug-testing program this fall. "Anything to keep young kids from using drugs I'm in support of."

No one available Thursday knew the grant's status.




The drug war has led to yet another diminished expectation of privacy, as a judged ruled that federal agents don't need a warrant to monitor a suspect's computer use. In California, a report from a women's prison shows the facility packed to twice its capacity, thanks in large part to the drug war. Also last week, a prominent activist gets no prison time in a medical marijuana case, but still plans to appeal; and despite everything else you read each week in this section of the newsletter and others, the drug problem is under control, at least according to the United Nations.


Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Privacy Rules Don't Apply to Internet Messages, Court Says

Federal agents do not need a search warrant to monitor a suspect's computer use and determine the e-mail addresses and Web pages the suspect is contacting, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

In a drug case from San Diego County, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco likened computer surveillance to the "pen register" devices that officers use to pinpoint the phone numbers a suspect dials, without listening to the phone calls themselves.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of pen registers in 1979, saying callers have no right to conceal from the government the numbers they communicate electronically to the phone companies that carry their calls.

Federal law requires court approval for a pen register. But because it is not considered a search, authorities do not need a search warrant, which would require them to show that the surveillance is likely to produce evidence of a crime.

They also do not need a wiretap order, which would require them to show that less intrusive methods of surveillance have failed or would be futile.

In Friday's ruling, the court said computer users should know that they lose privacy protections with e-mail and Web site addresses when they are communicated to the company whose equipment carries the messages.




Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jul 2007
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Sacramento Bee
Author: E. J. Schultz

Chowchilla Lockups Are at More Than Double Their Capacity, Provoking Health Concerns

State corrections officials have crammed hundreds of inmates into two already overstuffed women's prisons in Chowchilla -- an influx that the state's prison medical czar says could cause health care services to "collapse entirely" in one of the prisons.

By moving about 600 inmates from Southern California, prison officials have worsened crowding in the state's three all-female prisons. And with most of the attention on the state's jampacked male prisons, not much relief is in sight.

"Because of the sheer numbers of men, women have just become what we call 'correctional afterthoughts,' " said Barbara Owen, a criminology professor at California State University, Fresno, and a national expert on women's prisons.

Populations at the Valley State Prison for Women and the Central California Women's Facility have swelled by 8 percent, leaving both prisons housing more than twice as many inmates as they were designed to hold.

About 400 women are sleeping in prison gymnasiums, squeezed side by side in bunk beds. At Valley State, the increasing demand for medical care forced officials to shut down a preventive care clinic to focus on urgent aid.


Owen and other experts say the spike is due to stiffer penalties for drug crimes.

Nearly 65 percent of female inmates are incarcerated for nonviolent drug or property crimes, compared with about 40 percent of male inmates, according to a 2004 study by the Little Hoover Commission.


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Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times

Ed Rosenthal, the self-described "Guru of Ganja," will get no prison time despite a conviction for growing and distributing hundreds of marijuana plants, a federal judge ruled Friday.

A jury convicted Rosenthal, 63, in May of three cultivation and conspiracy charges after U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer prohibited Rosenthal's lawyers from telling the jury that he was working for a pot club sanctioned by the city of Oakland.

On Friday, Breyer said a one-day prison sentence was punishment enough for Rosenthal, who once wrote the "Ask Ed" column for High Times magazine and has written books with titles including "The Big Book of Buds" and "Ask Ed: Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted."

Nonetheless, Rosenthal said he planned to appeal his conviction. "I should not remain a felon," he said.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jul 2007
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Miami Herald
Author: Frank Greve

New Figures Point To Success In the Global War on Drugs, Thanks to Worldwide Efforts to Step Up Seizures and Disrupt Production

WASHINGTON -- One war appears to be going well for the United States and its allies these days: the drug war.

The availability of all major illegal drugs -- except Afghan heroin -- is flat or down, and drug seizures are up sharply, according to newly released global figures.

No one's saying the world's drug problem is solved, and the data on cocaine production in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia show little overall change. But one top analyst said the problem appears to be contained for now.

"We seem to have reached a point where the world drug situation has stabilized and been brought under control," Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, wrote in an analysis of world drug trends released last week.

Some experts say Costa is reading too much into small fluctuations in short-term supply and ignoring grim long-term forecasts.




Americans for Safe Access continues its efforts to require the federal government to be honest about medicinal marijuana in a case which, if successful, could help force the feds to stop its lies about medical and scientific facts.

This week in Canada both the national newspapers, the Globe and Mail and the National Post, called for decriminalization of marijuana.

A California article indicates that many government agencies are involved in removing marijuana grows, and, of course, telling tall stories about the value of the marijuana destroyed. The entire underground market for marijuana benefits from the government's apparent price support plan. And a judge's decision about Santa Barbara's Measure P speaks for itself.

In last week's analysis comments I wrote, "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." Canadian expert Philippe Lucas, recently returned from a conference of researchers, tells me that over 500 medically active chemicals have now been identified in marijuana. I stand corrected.


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Recorder, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 ALM Properties, Inc.
Author: Matthew Hirsch, The Recorder

Medical marijuana advocates and federal prosecutors have never agreed on whether the drug has medical value.

Now, an Oakland, Calif.-based advocacy group wants a court order that would force the feds to see it their way.

Americans for Safe Access is trying to use a little-known Clinton-era law to make federal agencies take back statements about marijuana -- for example, that pot has "no currently accepted medical use." The group says this "misinformation" costs it time and money to refute.

But before the nonprofit can put any experts on the witness stand, it has to overcome a challenge to its standing to sue. The government's motion to dismiss the case is scheduled to be heard today before U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California.

ASA sued in February under the Information Quality Act. That law calls on federal agencies to maximize the "quality, objectivity, utility and integrity" of information they send out to the public, and it includes an administrative process for people who seek to correct inaccuracies.

In 2001 the Drug Enforcement Administration published a statement in the Federal Register saying marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in the United States.

ASA, claiming that the government's position on medical marijuana is "patently false," petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services, so far unsuccessfully, to correct the statements in its analysis.


In a brief by its lawyer, Stanford law professor Alan Morrison, ASA argues that it can satisfy the standing requirements by alleging that the government's statements increased the resources ASA had to spend on its work.

According to Morrison, the group has spent more than $100,000 and hundreds of hours of staff time combating the government's position. A favorable decision in court would reduce the need to spend that money, he added. Even though a favorable ruling wouldn't legalize marijuana, he said it could encourage people to lobby Congress to reform the drug laws.




Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jul 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Southam Inc.


The latest report on trends in international drug use from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime reveals that Canada leads the industrialized world in cannabis consumption.

Worldwide, about 3.8% of members of the human species between the ages of 15 and 64 are thought to have used marijuana or hashish at least once during 2005. In Asia the figure is just 1.9%; in Europe, 5.6%; in the United States, a sobering 12.6%; but in Canada, it reaches a remarkable 16.8%, or more than one in six adults under pension age. Our proportion of pot users is virtually double that of England (8.7%) or France (8.6%) and, in a truly eyebrow-raising development, is nearly triple that of the famously libertine Netherlands (6.1%), a rather remarkable signal that cannabis would not necessarily become ubiquitous if it became available legally at the corner coffee shop. We apparently even have more THC tokers than Jamaica (10.1%). Only a handful of countries in Africa and the Pacific can rival us in affection for hemp-based smokeables.

Is this a cause for concern? For those opposed to marijuana usage as a matter of principle, the report offers some encouraging news. The numbers provided to the UN by our police agencies suggest that overall marijuana and hashish production stabilized and possibly even declined in 2005, reflecting global trends, after a period of ferocious growth that saw the harvest double between 2000 and 2004. Trafficking to the United States is also down, and youth use within Canada seems to be declining rather quickly; the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's measurements of cannabis use among junior-high and high-school students in Ontario show a 19% falloff in the proportion of onetime users between 2003 and 2005. It may be that we have reached a state of relatively comfortable equilibrium among law enforcement, cultural attitudes towards marijuana, protection of our children and the pure aggregate black-market demand for the product.

What's really remarkable about Canada's status as a cannabis capital is that if you were to set out looking for reasons to worry about it - -- reasons that do not amount to disliking it for its own sake -- you would have an awfully hard time finding them. If Canada had rates of alcohol consumption that were more than four times the world average, the fact would be written in fire in dozens of different tables of medical and social statistics. You could tell from our auto-accident rates, from our rates of cirrhosis of the liver or even from family violence statistics, that we had a propensity for a very dangerous and nasty substance. If Canada had four times as many tobacco smokers as the average country, you could easily extract the news and quantify it to two decimal places from our statistics on cancer and cardiac health, or indeed from overall life-expectancy figures.

But where is the health "footprint" of our love for the weed? Maybe it's hidden in our labour productivity statistics; it certainly doesn't seem to have any impact on our life expectancy or our other measurable health outcomes. Despite dauntingly high ostensible rates of use, and despite the hazards of adulteration and intensification that are attendant upon cannabis's illegal status, we don't seem to be doing ourselves any major harm from a long experiment in comparative weed tolerance.

This is a strong datum in favour of the view that marijuana is fundamentally innocuous compared with the "historical" drugs of abuse that enjoy broad social and legal acceptance, and a blow to those who contend that it is a "gateway" to harder drugs, since there is nothing in the UN data on those drugs to suggest that we are passing through that gate in particularly large numbers. That would seem to leave very little, aside from the omnipresent trade and travel considerations that come from being a neighbour of the U.S., to stand logically in the way of decriminalization.



Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jul 2007
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Record Searchlight
Author: Dylan Darling

Although its sheriff's office is leading a 17-agency blitz on illegal marijuana gardens in Shasta County, funds for the operation aren't coming from the county.

Grants totaling $180,000 from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies are paying expenses, including office supplies, deputy overtime, gasoline, food, ice and water for "Operation Alesia," Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Tuesday.

"This is money we received from state and federal grants for marijuana eradication," he said.

Also leading the charge on the marijuana gardens every day for the next two weeks are the U.S. Forest Service and California National Guard, but their spokesmen said they don't know how much will be spent on the operation.

The other agencies involved are spending money they normally have earmarked for marijuana eradication on the operation, said Mike Odle, spokesman for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

He said there wasn't one grant to cover the entire operation. Rather, the different agencies are providing resources for the effort.

Along with pulling marijuana plants tucked into corners of publicly managed land in Shasta County, crews will tear out irrigation lines and remove fertilizers and pesticides used by pot growers, Odle said.

In announcing the raid Monday, Bosenko quoted a National Park Service study that estimated restoration of a 1-acre marijuana garden to its natural state costs $11,000, but Odle said work during the operation shouldn't cost that much.

He said the crews will be "reclaiming" the land, not "restoring" it. The difference is that there won't be work to smooth out terracing or planting native vegetation. He estimated the work will cost about $5,500 per acre.

In the past, irrigation lines, small dams and supplies helpful to growers often would be left behind because the focus was on eradication, Odle said. This led to gardens popping up in the same spots each year.

With Operation Alesia, officials hope to stop the gardens from sprouting anew.


While the sheriff's office tagged the street value of the 8,000 plants at $35 million -- saying each plant could produce a pound of processed pot worth $4,000 -- a marijuana legalization advocate said the numbers seemed inflated.

Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said plants usually produce about 3 to 5 ounces. While he wasn't sure how much an ounce of marijuana was selling for on the street in California, another advocate last year said an ounce goes for about $250. At that price, a pot plant would be worth from $750 to $1,250.

He said the operation could have the unintended results of driving the price of marijuana up and driving growers deeper into the woods where it would be more expensive to try to stop their work.

"This doesn't work," he said.



Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer

A Santa Barbara judge has upheld a city ordinance requiring police to make enforcement of marijuana laws their lowest crime-fighting priority.

Although Measure P, which was approved by 65% of the city's voters last November, does not decriminalize marijuana, it will further reduce the already infrequent arrests of adults possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The ordinance requires officers to fill out extra paperwork on marijuana offenses and establishes a seven-member commission to monitor the department's compliance with the law.

The law is similar to those passed in at least 10 other cities in the U.S., including Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and West Hollywood.

After Measure P passed, the city of Santa Barbara sued one of its chief proponents, local activist Heather Poet, claiming that the measure she backed was unconstitutional. But on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Anderle threw out the city's suit, ruling that Poet had done nothing wrong and that the measure was "a proper legislative enactment."

Santa Barbara City Atty. Stephen Wiley said he was uncertain whether the City Council would appeal the ruling. Some city officials and the Santa Barbara Police Department opposed Measure P, saying it was a burden on officers and created a needless layer of city bureaucracy.

The city's lawsuit was the first substantive legal challenge to such laws, according to Adam Wolf, an ACLU attorney who represented Poet.

"It's a resounding victory for free speech and the democratic process," Wolf said. "It affirms the fact that communities across America can tell their local police departments that they should be focusing on serious crime, not on low-level drug offenses."

The judge rejected the city's claim that state and federal drug laws made the local measure invalid. "Police officers can still arrest those who violate drug possession laws in their presence," Anderle wrote in his ruling. "The voters have simply instructed them that they have higher priority work to do."

After Poet was sued, she countersued, citing a state law intended to quash litigation known as strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. The law is intended to stop large organizations from silencing critics by filing lawsuits of questionable merit.




Drug cartels in Mexico have reached a "cease fire" agreement, according to an unnamed "U.S. federal law enforcer", reported the San Antonio Express-News this week. According to the Spanish-language Proceso newspaper, "leaders from the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels met in early June in the border state of Tamaulipas," to hammer out details of the cease-fire. Around 1,400 people have died "at the hand of organized criminals" according to San Antonio Express-News, a pace which would top the previous record of nearly 2,000 killed last year.

Reports keep coming in: this year's opium poppy crop in Afghanistan looks like it is the biggest ever. On the heels of this news, Afghanistan's counternarcotics minister, Habibullah Qaderi, resigned, clearing the way for U.S.-sponsored aerial spraying of herbicides. Qaderi and U.S.-installed Afghan president Hamid Karzai had opposed the idea of aerial spraying, but are expected to cave in the face of increasing U.S. pressure. Opium production in the arid land-locked nation had all but been eliminated under the Taliban, only to rebound to record levels since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country.

In a surprise vote, Ottawa, Canada city councilor Rick Chiarelli was able to halt the harm-reduction measure of the distribution of clean crack pipes. "We just voted to basically kill six to 12 people a year," said councilor Clive Douce, who had supported the harm-reduction effort in the city. Dr. David Salisbury, chief medical officer who administered the sterile smoking kit harm-reduction program that was cut, "noted the hospital bill for a patient who develops AIDS is $600,000." Although Councilor Rick Chiarelli claimed "absolutely no evidence" any harm was ever reduced to crack addicts, a University of Ottawa study last year found the sterile smoking kits had indeed "reduced the sharing of drug paraphernalia."

And in Vancouver, Canada, Mayor Sam Sullivan caught the attention of media last week when the Vancouver Courier used a Freedom of Information request to learn that the Mayor "met 18 times over five weeks to discuss CAST." CAST (Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment) is the mayor's "privately based plan to treat drug addicts with prescription medication," a plan which has attracted criticism as deferring to the federal Conservative party. Noted COPE Councilor David Cadman: "The public would be much better served if the mayor focused on the Four Pillars drug strategy and stopped kowtowing to the drug policy views of the federal Conservatives."


Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jul 2007
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Sean Mattson, Express-News Mexico Correspondent

MONTERREY, Mexico -- The bullets still fly and the bodies pile up in disputed cartel turf in Mexico.

But a sudden downturn in narco-executions near the Texas border is fueling speculation in recent weeks that Mexico's warring drug cartels have agreed to a truce.

Mexican officials deny there was a "narco summit," but a U.S. federal law enforcer familiar with cartel movements said capos from the Gulf and Sinaloa drug-trafficking syndicates have agreed to peacefully divide some northeastern and central Mexican states.

"That's why you don't see as much chaos," said the official, on condition of anonymity.

Compared to May, when police regularly were targeted and nationwide body counts topped 90 per week, Mexico's drug war has cooled off.


While remarkably efficient at getting narcotics to their multibillion-dollar American market, Mexico's cartels struggle with internal rifts as well as enemy gangs, experts said.

"For that simple fact, it's very difficult to think of a meeting in the style of 'The Godfather,'" said Tirado, who doubts talk of a cartel truce.

Rumored details of the ceasefire between cartels are sketchy and differ depending on the source.

News magazine Proceso reported last week that leaders from the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels met in early June in the border state of Tamaulipas.

The U.S. law enforcer said a series of meetings occurred in central Zacatecas state and Mexico City, where they agreed to share Michoacan state, in western Mexico, and the border state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is the capital.

The Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, will retain control over the border states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila, said the official, and Sinaloa will have Chihuahua, Sonora and Durango.


But military operations have interrupted cartel activity. Scaling back the violence might be the most pragmatic way to avoid too much attention from authorities, said Javier Oliva, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

"Drug trafficking needs social peace," he said. "If there's violence, there's more vigilance (from authorities)."

Edgardo Buscaglia, an expert on international organized crime and law at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said talk of an alleged truce was not surprising.

"It's very compatible with what happens elsewhere," he said, adding that there will always be some violence "no matter how many meetings they have."




Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jul 2007
Copyright: 2007 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Jason Straziuso, Associated Press

Last Year's Crop Accounted For 90% Of World's Heroin Supply

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's counternarcotics minister has resigned only weeks after Afghan laborers finished cultivating an opium poppy crop that could exceed last year's record haul.

Habibullah Qaderi's resignation, confirmed by a deputy minister Sunday, came as U.S. and Afghan officials debate privately whether to use herbicides to reduce the drug problem.


Qaderi headed the ministry since December 2004 and survived several Cabinet shuffles, but Afghanistan's poppy crop has ballooned under his watch and the country's production last year accounted for more than 90 percent of the world's heroin supply. Western and U.N. officials have said this year's harvest could equal or exceed last year's record crop. The U.S. has proposed spraying the crops with herbicide as it does with coca plants in Colombia, where the current U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, William Wood, previously served. Britain, whose troops are in charge of Helmand province, the world's largest poppy growing region, has said it would support limited spraying.



Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Katie Daubs, With files from Jake Rupert

Surprise Move Called A Blow For Public Health In Ottawa

Council decided yesterday to end the city's controversial crack pipe program -- a move heralded as a great day for tourism, but a sad day for public health.

"We just voted to basically kill six to 12 people a year," said Councillor Clive Doucet. He was referring to the estimated number of people who, because of the program, did not contract communicable diseases from sharing infected drug paraphernalia.

The program's intent, said chief medical officer Dr. David Salisbury, was not to prevent drug use, but to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.


"If we cannot control the HIV epidemic, it will affect all of us. Whether in the pocketbook, or with the ones we lose," he said.

Dr. Salisbury noted the hospital bill for a patient who develops AIDS is $600,000. The crack pipe program cost the city $7,500 a year.

After the motion carried, a visibly upset Dr. Salisbury said the city could see a rise in incidences of HIV and Hepatitis C.

Councillor Rick Chiarelli, who introduced the surprise motion to end the program, said there was "absolutely no evidence" the program had reduced communicable diseases.

But last year, a University of Ottawa study said it radically reduced the sharing of drug paraphernalia, although it increased crack smoking.

University of Ottawa epidemiologist Lynne Leonard said despite the increase in crack use, there was "significant scientific evidence" that showed the program reduced the harm associated with crack smoking.

Originally, council was supposed to only decide yesterday whether to review the program.


Earlier, the group of about 25 residents marched to City Hall with bags of used crack pipes they'd picked up on their front lawns. They clashed with a small group from the AIDS Committee of Ottawa who yelled "Crack kits save lives." As a shouting match ensued, Mayor Larry O'Brien arrived, and stood with used crack pipes sprinkled at his feet. He had to ask his staff for protection from the boisterous protesters.


In a press release, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network called the decision to cancel the program "irresponsible" and "shortsighted." The group from Sandy Hill stood on the sidelines and applauded the mayor. They saw things differently. "It's a great day for Ottawa," said member Sabina Sauter. "It's a great day for tourism."




Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jul 2007
Copyright: 2007 Vancouver Courier
Author: Mike Howell

According to his calendar, Sullivan met 18 times over five weeks to discuss CAST

Mayor Sam Sullivan spent more time on his privately based plan to treat drug addicts with prescription medication than any other city issue in January and February.

Sullivan met 18 times with doctors, business people and others between Jan. 12 and Feb. 26 to discuss his Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment (CAST) proposal, according to his calendar.

The Courier obtained the mayor's calendar for Jan. 1 to May 6 under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The number of meetings on CAST has opposition city councillors scratching their heads. Sullivan says the CAST proposal will not go before council because it doesn't involve city money.

Then why, say COPE Coun. David Cadman and Vision Vancouver Coun. George Chow, is the mayor using his office to work on a proposal that the public likely won't see?

"This is the way the man operates," Cadman said. "He operates using the mayor's office to do business other than city business."

Cadman said the public would be much better served if the mayor focused on the Four Pillars drug strategy and stopped kowtowing to the drug policy views of the federal Conservatives.


"I don't think Mayor Sullivan seems to understand what his role is as mayor of this city in working with this council to move ahead on these strategies," Cadman said. "He thinks he's better off to move outside the city and bring in people like John Reynolds, who are influential in Ottawa to make this [CAST proposal] happen."



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published July 2, 2007


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When I say one of the best, I mean that in every sense of those words. Barry, who just died at the young age of 60, was a superb scholar, teacher, social activist, and human being. He was wise, compassionate, and kind to everyone with whom he came in contact. I cannot remember in all of the years I knew him -- almost half of his life -- any action on his part that was not gentle and caring and very, very wise.

By Arnold Trebach



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By Robert Dougherty

Drug testing of students, as well intentioned as it may be, is not a substitute for real, fact-based drug education. When we relegate our responsibility to teach our children about drugs to an agency such as the ONDCP ( Office of Drug Control Policy ) we can only cross our fingers and hope for the worst.

Any agency that relies on keeping people in the dark about drugs in order to cash its paycheck should not be the model here. ( Have you seen the talking dog commercial? ) If this is supposed to be the best way to teach our children about the dangers of drugs there is something seriously wrong.

John Walters should have been booed out of the room when he asserted that marijuana use leads kids to crime and violence. Our policy of prohibition is the one to blame here.

Walters is nothing but a public figurehead for the drug testing industry, playing with people's emotions in a city stricken by the plague of violence. In the end it's worth it to note that Mr. Walters is still receiving his paycheck and every one of us is signing the check.

Robert Dougherty Philadelphia

Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jul 2007
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)



By Kathleen Parker

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.

Efforts over the past few decades to relax marijuana laws have been moderately successful. Twelve states have decriminalized marijuana, which usually means no prison or criminal record for first-time possession of small amounts for personal consumption. ( Those states are: Alabama, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon. )

Yet even now, federal law enforcement agents raid the homes of terminally ill patients who use marijuana for relief from suffering in states where medical marijuana use is permitted. These federal raids have become an issue in the 2008 presidential race as candidates have been asked to take a position. A summary is available on the Marijuana Policy Project Web site ( ).

Beyond the medical issue is the practical question of criminalizing otherwise good citizens for consuming a nontoxic substance" described by the British medical journal Lancet as less harmful to health than alcohol or tobacco" at great economic and social cost. Each year, more than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana-related offenses at a cost of more than $7 billion, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Here's a Bingo thought for people concerned about the federal deficit, America's 4.5 million uninsured children or our soon-to-be-bankrupt Social Security system:

If marijuana were legalized, regulated and taxed at the rates applied to alcohol and tobacco, revenues would reach about $6.2 billion annually, according to an open letter signed by 500 economists who urged President Bush and other public officials to debate marijuana prohibition. Among those economists were three Nobel Prize winners, including the late Milton Friedman of Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Friedman and others were acting in response to a 2005 report on the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard. By Miron's estimate, regulating marijuana would save about $7.7 billion annually in government prohibition enforcement" $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.

That's a lot of money for English tutors and health care for indigents. Add to that amount income taxes that would have to be paid by marijuana producers. Drug dealers don't pay taxes, after all. Nor do they concern themselves much with rules of the workplace and worker welfare. Miron argues that legalizing marijuana would not increase use because decriminalization hasn't increased use. But, he says, legalization would reduce crime by neutralizing dealers and eliminating the violent black market.

Legalizing marijuana isn't an endorsement of underage or irresponsible use.

Best would be that everyone deal with life unmedicated, but adults arguably have a right to amuse themselves in ways that don't harm others.

While some may balk at the idea of legalized pot, it seems clear that some remedy is in order. At the very least, a fresh, freewheeling debate free of politics and bureaucratic self-interest is overdue.

Maybe Al Gore could moderate.

Kathleen Parker's column is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. This column was published in several newspapers.


"Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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