This Just In
(1)Blacks, Hispanics Imprisoned In Larger Numbers Than Whites, Report Says
(2)Seven Cabinet Members Admit Smoking Cannabis In Youth
(3)DEA Fears Spread Of New Drug
(4)Cocaine Drug Of Choice In Europe

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2007 New Haven Register
Author: Maria Garriga, Register Staff

Blacks in Connecticut are jailed at more than 12 times the rate of whites, and Hispanics nearly seven times the white rate, according to a study released Wednesday by a criminal justice policy group.

The study shows that Connecticut has one of the greatest disparities in the nation in incarceration rates. Blacks are incarcerated 5.6 times the rate as whites nationally.

Hispanic men in Connecticut are incarcerated at 6.6 times the rate of whites, the largest disparity in the nation. Nationally, the rate is 1.8.

The study by the Washington, D.C., nonprofit advocacy group The Sentencing Project also shows that Connecticut incarcerates whites at a lower rate than the national average, according to the report.

"The national figures are disturbing, with African Americans incarcerated at six times the rate of whites and Connecticut has twice that rate," said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project.

Put another way, the national ratios suggest that out of every 100,000 whites, 412 are incarcerated; out of every 100,000 blacks, 2,290 are incarcerated; and out of every 100,000 Hispanics, 742 are incarcerated.

In Connecticut, out of every 100,000 whites, 211 are incarcerated; out of every 100,000 blacks, 2,532 are jailed; out of every 100,000 Hispanics, 1,401 are in prison.

"If you are black and born in Connecticut, you are more likely to be incarcerated," Mauer said.

He said minorities were less likely to have the resources to avoid prison when charged with a crime. "It's not that wealthy people don't commit crimes. They can afford better defense attorneys and pay for treatment programs," he said.

Out of the nation's 2.2 million prisoners, 900,000 are black. The study concluded that if current trends continue, one in every three black men and one in six Hispanic men can expect to spend time in prison.




Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jul 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Patrick Wintour, The Guardian

Seven cabinet members, including Jacqui Smith the home secretary, admitted yesterday they had broken the law by smoking cannabis.

The admissions came before a government statement next week that will see ministers propose the drug's classification is raised from class C to the more serious status of class B. Possession of a class C drug is largely a non-arrestable offence.

It also emerged that two members of Ms Smith's Home Office frontbench team, Vernon Coaker and Tony McNulty, smoked cannabis in their youth.

The prime minister's spokesman insisted that Gordon Brown regarded it as a personal matter and said he did not send out questionnaires asking cabinet colleagues whether they had taken drugs. He did not ask Ms Smith about her past when he appointed her as home secretary although she will have been subject to positive vetting by the security services.

Ms Smith's indiscretion - she has been described as sensible but fun- loving at university - is unlikely to cost her politically as admissions of drug taking do not usually result in a serious backlash.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, who has repeatedly refused to say whether he took drugs before he became a public figure, again refused to follow the cabinet's example and admit he had taken cannabis. There have been persistent rumours that he took more serious drugs in his youth.

The Conservatives refused to make any political capital out of the revelations, partly due to Mr Cameron's position and partly because many members of the shadow cabinet have admitted they used cannabis.

Ms Smith started a day of personal admissions before 8am yesterday when she talked on breakfast television about smoking cannabis while at Oxford University in the 1980s. "I did break the law ... I was wrong ... drugs are wrong," she said.




Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Miami Herald
Author: Dave Montgomery

WASHINGTON -- Federal and state officials are stepping up efforts to block the spread of an emerging drug menace called cheese heroin, which has been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 young people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the past two years.

The drug, a mixture of black tar heroin and cold medicine, sells for as little as $2 a hit and is being targeted at kids, often as an inducement to join a gang.

Thus far, the drug is largely confined to Dallas and its suburbs. But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and other officials warn that, with its low price and easy marketability by drug dealers, deadly cheese heroin could spread into other communities.

"We're still seeing the highest concentration in the Dallas area, but last year we started to see a spread to outlying cities," said Jeremy Liebbe, a police officer with the Dallas Independent School District who has investigated nearly 250 cheese heroin cases. "What that tells us is that it isn't a problem that's going to go away anytime soon."

Cornyn sponsored an amendment to pending Senate antigang legislation that would add cheese heroin to the list of targeted drugs in a youth- oriented media campaign sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2007 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Henrique Almeida, Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -- Saturday night and thrill-seekers from around the world crowd the streets of Amsterdam's red-light district ready to binge on sex, drugs and alcohol.

"Hey, mister, do you want some cocaine?" a man mutters from a dark corner while a blonde prostitute removes her bra in a shop window, to lure customers into her room.

It's no accident the dealer was offering cocaine before he moved on to other drugs. Cocaine use has almost tripled in Europe over the past decade, while U.S. consumption has stabilised, according to U.N. figures released in June.

"There is a certain glamour to cocaine in the media which has become very appealing to all sectors of European society," said Peter Thomas, a spokesman for European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon.

Portuguese police say a stronger euro is also attracting cocaine smugglers into European cities like Amsterdam, London and Madrid where party-goers can easily pay up to 60 euros ($82.78) to get high on a few lines of the white powder.

Wholesale, the drug in Europe fetches up to $77,000 per kg, almost twice the amount it sells for in the U.S., according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Dealers focus their trade in cities with money," Jose Braz, the director of the Department of Narcotics in Portugal, which has become a significant entry-point for cocaine into Europe, told Reuters. "There is more and more dirty money in euros."

"There was a lot of euphoria with love-drugs like ecstasy 10 years ago but that is going away now," said an employee of the Magic Mushroom Smartshop near Amsterdam's night club scene in Rembrandtplein square. He identified himself simply as AR.

"Coke is cold and ego-boosting and allows people to forget about their insecurities. I suppose the world is becoming a colder place these days," he added.





The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee believes ONDCP representatives may have broken a 1994 law by appearing at several republican campaign events. The supporting documents were found during an ongoing and broader investigation.

After decades of blaming Mexico for allowing illegal drugs to flow into the US, the tables turned as Mexico claims illegal weapons from the north are fueling the recent explosion of violence. A Dallas Morning News editorial explains their fear as this violence continues to spill across the border and is now being directed towards U.S. reporters. Still, they refuse to point a finger at prohibition.

On a lighter note, a pioneer LSD maker's visit to the bay area spurred a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article reveals he was much more than just the creator of the infamous Owsley Purple.


Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post Staff Writer

White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman ( Calif. ), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said documents obtained by his panel suggest that the appearances by the drug control officials were part of a larger White House effort to politicize the work of federal agencies that "may be more widespread than previously known."

Waxman cited a memo written by former White House political director Sara M. Taylor showing that John P. Walters, director of the drug control office, and his deputies traveled at taxpayer expense to about 20 events with vulnerable GOP members of Congress in the three months leading up to the elections.


The drug control office has had a history of being nonpartisan, and a 1994 law bars the agency's officials from engaging in political activities even on their own time.

Waxman's investigation is part of a broad effort by Congress to look into White House political involvement in federal agencies. So far, Democratic lawmakers have found evidence that White House officials were involved with the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and that Rove deputies made presentations to officials at the General Services Administration and other agencies about Democrats targeted for defeat by the GOP in 2008.

The new disclosure comes after former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona testified last week that the White House routinely blocked him from speaking out on politically sensitive public health matters such as stem cell research and abstinence-only sex education. Carmona also said he was asked to make appearances to help Republican candidates and discouraged from travel that might help a liberal politician.


White House officials denied that Walters or other drug policy officials were directed to make appearances in an effort to prop up GOP candidates. Likewise, Taylor said through her attorney that she ran the White House political office no differently than her predecessors had under former presidents.


But in the three months immediately leading up to the 2006 election, Walters or his deputies held events almost exclusively with GOP officials, many of whom were embroiled in tough reelection campaigns.




Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Louis E.V. Nevaer
Note: Louis E.V. Nevaer is author of "HR and the New Hispanic Workforce," a
book about Latinos in the labor force. This article was written for New
America Media.

Mexico City -- For more than a decade, Mexico has had military checkpoints on all northbound highways leading to the United States. It's part of the campaign to crack down on the flow of drugs to the United States. This summer, things have changed, and Mexico's military is inspecting vehicles traveling on the southbound lanes, checking for shipments of weapons.

This reversal is testament to the dangers Mexico faces, bordering the United States, a country unable to secure its own borders, where assault and paramilitary weapons are sold to anyone with ready cash.

"We are concerned about the number of weapons coming into Mexico and Central America illegally from the United States," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last month when he was attending a conference in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. "There is more that we can do, and we are looking to do, to try and stem the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico."

Mexican officials are frantic over the escalation of violence -- more than a thousand people have been slain throughout the country in the first six months of this year in drug-related violence as drug cartels establish new leaders to replace the ones who have been arrested and extradited to the United States.


Combat-style rifles pour into Mexico, and this has escalated since the end of the U.S. Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. "In the United States, all you need is a pile of cash to buy all the weapons you want," said Santiago Vasconcelos. "These weapons are being sold like candy."

The expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban has made it possible for assault rifles, including the AR-15, AK-47 copies and the TEC-9 pistols, which were banned, along with 16 other types of semiautomatic weapons, to be shipped throughout Mexico. The AK-15, a version of the U.S. Army's famous M16, and the AK-47, of Russian design, have been used in recent execution-style killings among rival gangs, and in attacks on Mexican police officers and soldiers.


The White House claims that it is doing all it can: Joint police forces along the border look for weapons leaving the United States, Mexican police are equipped with X-ray scanners, and border cities have stepped up their gun "buy-back" programs.

This has proved to be ineffectual: Mexico's military took over the airport at Mexicali to prevent shipments of smuggled weapons from being flown into the interior of the country; Mexico now X-rays all baggage arriving from U.S. flights into Mexico, because U.S. airlines do not prevent passengers from carrying weapons in their checked luggage; and the mandatory military checkpoints along the highways have seized more than 11,000 weapons in the first half of this year.

Mexico has strong gun control laws. In a country of 110 million people, there are fewer than 6,000 legally registered guns. But it is now reeling from the gun-related violence. Making matters worse is the refusal of American officials to be on the same page. Although Gonzales admitted that the "iron river" of weapons was a problem, months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Congress: "I don't know where the weapons come from."

That infuriated Mexican officials. "The ATF's Operation Gunrunner knows where these weapons are coming from," fumed Santiago Vasconcelos.




Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jul 2007
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 The Dallas Morning News

Zetas Bring Fear of Violence to Our Back Yard

It's a rare moment when American journalism goes into retreat. Reporters have been on the front lines of every U.S. conflict from World War II to Iraq. The presses have continued to roll despite earthquakes and hurricanes, riots and domestic political turmoil such as Watergate.

That's because the dangers and threats always paled in comparison to the goal of keeping the public informed. But today, journalists are under direct threat and in retreat at America's doorstep because drug traffickers do not like the uncomfortable attention U.S. reporters are giving to their bloody enterprise.

Last week, newspapers received word that the Zetas, Mafia-style hit squads working for drug traffickers, are threatening to kill an American reporter in Laredo. The San Antonio Express News decided to pull its reporter temporarily from the paper's Laredo bureau. The Dallas Morning News, which regularly covers cartel operations in Nuevo Laredo, also is taking precautions.


One can only speculate why a group of killers, rich with drug money and obviously unconcerned about public opinion polls, would care what the U.S. news media report about them. But it's clear that these groups rule by fear. And when the public loses access to information, manipulation by fear becomes far easier.

Last month, we decried the closure of Cambio Sonora because it signaled the slow death of civilized, sane discourse in Mexico. Cambio 's reporters and editors are not to blame because it's their government's job to provide for the public safety, and it has failed.

We shudder to think that, now, we must sound a similar alert right here in Texas.



Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

The small, barefoot man in black T-shirt and blue jeans barely rates a second glance from the other Starbucks patrons in downtown San Rafael, although he is one of the men who virtually made the '60s. Because Augustus Owsley Stanley III has spent his life avoiding photographs, few people would know what he looks like.

The name Owsley became a noun that appears in the Oxford dictionary as English street slang for good acid. It is the most famous brand name in LSD history. Probably the first private individual to manufacture the psychedelic, "Owsley" is a folk hero of the counterculture, celebrated in songs by the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan.

For more than 20 years, Stanley -- at 72, still known as the Bear -- has been living with his wife, Sheila, off the grid, in the outback of Queensland, Australia, where he makes small gold and enamel sculptures and keeps in touch with the world through the Internet.

As a planned two-week visit to the Bay Area stretched to three, four and then five weeks, Bear agreed to give The Chronicle an interview because a friend asked him. He has rarely consented to speak to the press about his life, his work or his unconventional thinking on matters such as the coming ice age or his all-meat diet.


By conservative estimates, Bear Research Group made more than 1.25 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967, essentially seeding the entire modern psychedelic movement.

Less well known are Bear's contributions to rock concert sound. As the original sound mixer for the Grateful Dead, he was responsible for fundamental advances in audio technology, things as basic now as monitor speakers that allow vocalists to hear themselves onstage.


He found the recipe for making LSD in the Journal of Organic Chemistry at the UC Berkeley library. Soon after, Bear began to cook acid.

The Berkeley police raided his first lab in 1966 and confiscated a substance that they claimed was methedrine. When it turned out to be something else -- probably a component of LSD -- Bear not only walked free but successfully sued the cops for the return of his lab equipment.

By the time he made a special batch called Monterey Purple for the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival -- Owsley Purple was the secret smile on Jimi Hendrix's face that night -- "Owsley" was an underground legend.




Some disturbing reports came out of Florida this week. Two cover alleged police misconduct and another reveals an incredible "deal" for a narc.

After years of severe overcrowding and recent federal threats, California officials seem to finally be taking steps towards solving their bloated prison industrial complex. One article discusses improvements to inmate substance abuse treatment programs while another reveals a much lower rate of parolees being returned to prison.

Thankfully, LEAP can always be counted on to end this section on a positive note.


Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2007
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Anthony Cormier and Michael A. Scarcella

BRADENTON - On May 30, a woman in jail on prostitution charges was pulled from her cell by a Bradenton police internal affairs officer and taken to police headquarters, according to jail records.

For three hours, Dawn Marie Gibson said she described to the investigators how she had sex numerous times with on-duty Bradenton police officers in a patrol car, at a substation and in alleyways.

She said the officers gave her money and crack cocaine and offered her protection from arrest in exchange for the sex acts. The head of the police department's internal affairs division acknowledged that Gibson was taken from jail and interviewed.

The day after the interview, Bradenton officer William Anderson resigned. Two days later, officer Larry Pritchett resigned.

At about that time, decorated undercover agent Pete Biddlecome took a leave of absence. He resigned five weeks later, despite a service record that included recognition as officer of the year.


Gibson claimed an officer once had oral sex with her and gave her five pieces of crack cocaine.

She said the men offered to protect Gibson and her friends, looking the other way if they were caught up in undercover stings along Tamiami Trail. When she turned down the offer to be a confidential informant, Gibson said the officers remained persistent.

She claimed that officers tailed her to her mother's house in the Manatee Woods apartment complex, picked her up outside motels and drove her to remote parts of the city. Her mother, Judy Dillon, said she saw officers' cars parked outside her home.

Some of the officers, Gibson said, wanted sex and promised to "make old warrants go away" while protecting her from future arrests.




Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2007
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Todd Ruger

SARASOTA -- A 65-year-old Arkansas woman is suing the sheriff, saying a deputy slammed her to the ground during a raid at the Sarasota house where she was staying.

Patsy Croom came to visit her son in Sarasota when his wife died in 2004, and she was sunning herself in the yard when the raid started, the federal lawsuit filed this week states.

Earlier in the day, an undercover U.S. Postal Service investigator came up to her as she watered flowers and asked her to sign for a package, Croom's lawsuit states.

During the conversation, Croom told him the sunning made her rheumatoid arthritis feel better and she showed him scars from past surgeries for the disease.

About 30 minutes later, deputies wearing masks and carrying guns descended on her, yelling at her to get on the ground. She told them her arthritis prevented her from getting down quickly.

A deputy then put his foot on her back and pushed her to the ground. Croom said she suffered a torn rotator cuff and herniated disc, the lawsuit claims.

She says the deputy who knocked her down was the one who planned the raid and directed all the law enforcement on the scene.

Croom is asking for more than $75,000 in damages.

The raid led to the arrest of Tashko Dinev, 32, another resident of the house, on charges of possession of illegal prescription drugs.



Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune Co.
Author: Elaine Silvestrini, The Tampa Tribune

He Helped DEA as Part of Plea Deal

TAMPA - The prosecution's key witness in an overdose death case testified Wednesday he encouraged the defendant to sell him larger quantities of drugs.

Brandon Erwin is standing trial on drug distribution charges and a charge that he is criminally responsible for the November 2005 overdose death of Andrew Culver, a 35-year-old businessman who authorities say bought cocaine and methadone from Erwin.

Erwin worked part time as a host in the Blue Martini nightclub in International Plaza. The key witness, Stephen Wilkinson, was free on bail after being arrested on drug distribution charges when he met Erwin and others in the club and told law enforcement he could provide information about drug dealing in the club.

Wilkinson testified he was trying to find a way to provide "substantial assistance" to authorities in order to receive more lenient treatment in his own case.

He was facing a minimum of 15 years behind bars and, after his cooperation, wound up with a year of probation, he said Wednesday under cross-examination from defense attorney Rachel May.

"Kind of hit a home run, huh?" May remarked.

Wilkinson didn't respond.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Daniel Weintraub

It would be difficult to imagine a more scathing indictment of a government program than the Inspector General's report earlier this year on California's services for prison inmates addicted to alcohol and drugs.

The programs, the report said, were almost a complete failure. There was no evidence that they were preventing inmates from committing new crimes after their release from prison. And remarkably, inmates who went through some of the programs were returning to prison at higher rates than criminals who got no treatment at all.


"Overall, the state appears to be receiving almost no value for its $36 million annual investment in in-prison substance abuse treatment services," the audit concluded. "And because less than 10 percent of inmates who participate in in-prison substance abuse programs also attend aftercare for at least 90 days -- which studies show to be crucial in reducing recidivism -- the entire $143 million the state spends each year for in-prison and aftercare substance abuse treatment combined appears to be wasted."

That kind of critique would usually generate a defensive response from the bureaucracy. Excuses. Explanations. Finger-pointing.

But something different happened in this case. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation essentially agreed with the Inspector General's conclusions. There was some quibbling about the details, but nobody tried to claim that the anti-addiction programs were actually a success.

Since then, the department has hired Kathy Jett, formerly the state's highly regarded director of Drug and Alcohol Programs, to come run the prison programs for addicts. Jett was named a deputy director of the department, elevating her role and giving her more clout to do her job.


Jett said that fixing the broken programs will be crucial to the Schwarzenegger administration's ability to keep its commitment to overhaul and vastly improve all rehabilitation efforts throughout the state's 170,000-inmate prison system.

"The substance abuse program is a cornerstone of rehabilitation for the institutions," Jett said. "I believe strongly that we must get this right."




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2007
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Edwin Garcia

Rehab Option Helps Cut Overcrowding

SACRAMENTO - Prison officials in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration acknowledged Thursday that some parole violators are no longer being sent back to prison - part of a philosophical shift that will reduce overcrowding in the state's prisons.

The state's parole chief insisted that most of those being given a second chance are not violent offenders, but the notion that an increasing number of parolees are getting a break rankles some tough-on-crime advocates and conservative lawmakers.

Nearly 10,000 more parolees are on the streets today than last July, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - an 8.4 percent increase that far outpaces the growth in the prison population, which was just 0.6 per cent over that same time.

When asked about those numbers, administration officials acknowledged Thursday that, indeed, parole agents are directing more parolees into rehabilitation programs instead of prisons, particularly for minor violations that used to keep them locked up for months.

The change in direction - hailed by parole-reform advocates and criminal defense attorneys - occurred quietly at a time when federal judges are threatening to impose a population cap for the state's prison system. Currently, 173,000 inmates are packed into space built for 100,000.


Last month, the state's rehabilitation oversight board suggested that a policy shift on parolees was warranted, but the numbers suggest that parole commissioners had already stopped sending some parole violators back to prison. The parolee population has jumped to 127,151 from 117,354 over the past year.


Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, a proponent of parole and sentencing reform, doubted the administration was succeeding in solving overcrowding.

"So they've got more people in prison, and more people on parole than last year, and they're claiming victory?" she said. "I think they've got to keep working on it. I don't think they've got it solved yet."


Schwarzenegger is a firm believer in recently enacted legislation, AB 900, which promises to build tens of thousands of prison and jail beds, and tie them to rehabilitation programs. And he has stated repeatedly that he will not release violent inmates from prison.

His administration also is pleading with the federal court to not impose a prison population cap but instead allow the state to solve the overcrowding crisis through a number of measures, including rehabilitation of inmates who are addicted to drugs.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Morning News, The (Springdale, AR)
Copyright: 2007 The Stephens Media Group
Author: John Lyon, The Morning News

NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- America's war on drugs has done more to spur the drug trade than throttle it, said a former big-city cop who now advocates legalizing narcotics.

"The war on drugs has been one of the biggest public policy failures this country has ever seen," former Denver police Lt. Tony Ryan, who was in Arkansas on Thursday as part of a speaking tour organized by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an nonprofit organization founded in 2002 that claims existing drug policies have failed.


Ryan said in the decades since the Nixon administration launched the drug war, drugs have become stronger, cheaper and easier to obtain. About $69 billion is spent every year on drug enforcement, yet the percentage of Americans with drug addictions has remained constant at about 1.3 percent, he said.

"In this country, which has 5 percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prison population," he said. "About 28 percent of our prison population are people who were sentenced for drug possession -- drug possession, not even for sale or distribution."

Ryan said 1.9 million Americans are arrested every year on drug charges, 760,000 of them on marijuana charges. Of the marijuana arrests, 88 percent are for simple possession, he said.

A better approach, Ryan said, would be to legalize narcotics and allow the government to control and regulate them as it does other drugs. He said the government would do well to follow the examples of European countries such as Switzerland and The Netherlands, where drug addiction is regarded more as a health and social issue than a crime.




With about 250 marijuana or hemp related articles MAP archived since the last DSW, it is not easy to decide on four or five to call to your attention. The first reminds us that next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the 2007 Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment. Have you contacted your congresscritter?

A columnist points out New York City's version of reefer madness. The dedicated efforts of medicinal marijuana activists in conservative Orange County, California, are successful.

And in Canada, while marijuana arrests rise, the laws remain under legal attack.


Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times


THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT Administration has notified more than 150 Los Angeles property owners that their fortunes and their sacred honor are forfeit to the state. What crime must a landlady commit to deserve this punishment? Renting to a tenant who operates a medical marijuana dispensary. The DEA sent out letters last week notifying owners that they stand to lose their properties and face 20 years in prison for allowing their buildings to be used for "unlawfully ... distributing or using a controlled substance."

The only good news in this deplorable new bullying tactic by the federal drug cops is that if you're a property owner, your least-bad option is fairly clear. You can honor the will of California voters, allow the dispensary to stay and lose your property, or you can evict the tenant and risk a costly lawsuit. You're better off taking your chances with the lawsuit, although the DEA will not admit this. A representative of the agency's L.A. office uses the Orwellian phrase "these letters were merely to educate property owners," but concedes that in fact the letters serve to weaken the legal position of landlords.

That's because the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 specifies that landlords must have provable knowledge of drug activities to be subject to asset forfeiture. The DEA's letter-writing campaign establishes that paper trail, while coyly avoiding giving property owners any advice about what to do. The agency confirms, however, that the "long-term goal" is to get landlords to evict dispensaries. Nor is this strictly a private property matter; public property is at risk, as the city of West Hollywood found out a few years ago when the DEA seized $300,000 the city had provided to help purchase a building for a dispensary.

As they have for the last several years, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.) are sponsoring an amendment that would kill funding for federal efforts to preempt state medical marijuana initiatives, and although Congress should in general avoid this kind of procedural finagling, it would at least halt the DEA's efforts to thwart the will of voters and legislatures in 12 states. And if the DEA refuses to listen, Congress should consider doing away with civil asset forfeiture altogether.



Pubdate: Mon, 16 Jul 2007
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2007 Newsday Inc.
Author: Sheryl McCarthy

'I call it an epidemic of marijuana arrests. New York City has been on a binge of marijuana arrests for the last 10 years."

"I would call it a dragnet."

These are the conclusions of Harry Levine, a professor of sociology at Queens College, and Deborah Small, director of Break the Chains, a nonprofit drug policy reform group and a longtime advocate of changing the city's drug policies.

The two, who are studying the city's marijuana arrest policy, want to see the police give summonses to people who are caught smoking marijuana in public or with small amounts of marijuana on them, instead of the current practice of arresting them and jailing them overnight.

According to arrest data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the number of arrests for marijuana possession skyrocketed from about 10,000 in 1996 to more than 50,000 in 2000. The arrests have tapered off somewhat since then, but remain high: 33,000 arrests for marijuana possession last year.


Marijuana arrests in the city surged in the late 1990s as part of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's quality-of-life policing strategy, and have continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But although early law enforcement efforts concentrated on heavily trafficked public areas like Central Park and midtown Manhattan, the efforts shifted to lower-income black and Latino communities, the studies say.


"We're socializing black and Latino youths to the criminal justice system," Levine says. "We're teaching them how to be in the system." It's like telling them this is a rehearsal for a future of getting arrested and spending time in jail, Small says.


Arresting people, especially teenagers, for smoking a joint, passing one to a friend, or having a small bag of marijuana needs to stop. Far more serious crimes are going on. And no parent of a teenager wants to see her kid thrown in jail and treated like a criminal for a minor transgression that could be handled with a summons.



Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Christian Berthelsen, Times Staff Writer

Orange County will begin licensing medical marijuana use and issuing identification cards to patients who are entitled to it under a plan approved by county supervisors Tuesday.

The decision marked a surprise turnabout from just three months ago, when the proposal initially seemed doomed to failure.

Under the plan, the county will create a system to identify patients eligible to use marijuana for medical purposes, and issue them identification cards, validate prescriptions and monitor the qualifications of care providers who dispense the drug.

It was a departure from Orange County's usual conservative position, one that overrode objections by the county's top law enforcement officials and put the county squarely in the middle of a years-long tussle between federal and state governments over the legality of marijuana use for medical purposes.


Since the issue first surfaced three months ago in Orange County, advocates of medical marijuana use have lobbied intensely to convince the supervisors of its worth, and ultimately succeeded in changing enough minds to win a decisive 4-1 vote.

Advocates said their pitch to the all-Republican board focused on fiscal soundness -- that issuing the IDs would eliminate wasted court costs and prosecution time on medical possession cases.

Though 32 other counties, including Los Angeles and Riverside, have already moved forward with plans, getting Orange County's approval was a milestone.

"By having this in Orange County, it sends a message to other counties throughout California that it's time to move forward," said Aaron Smith, the statewide coordinator for Safe Access Now, a medical marijuana advocacy group. "If Orange County can do it, anybody can do it."

The bill's passage was also a testament to the vociferous advocacy of board Chairman Chris Norby, who first floated the proposal, and the consensus-building skill of Supervisor Bill Campbell, who resuscitated the proposal after it failed on a first vote by getting supervisors to find enough common ground to give it another chance.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited

TORONTO (CP) - Ottawa needs to fix long-standing loopholes and inconsistencies in Canada's marijuana laws to help the justice system contend with a surge of court cases resulting from the Conservative government's new zeal for enforcement, legal experts say.

With witnesses reporting a dramatic increase in the number of possession cases before the courts, those familiar with the intricacies of the law say it remains vulnerable to the argument that Canada's medicinal marijuana program renders it unconstitutional.

"Every time a judge calls into question our marijuana laws, it undercuts the legitimacy of the law," said Alan Young, a Osgoode Hall law professor and veteran of the long-standing debate about marijuana, its medicinal benefits and decriminalizing its possession.

Four years after Ottawa supposedly closed off a complex legal loophole that effectively rendered the law unenforceable, an Ontario Court judge agreed Friday that the law governing pot possession in Canada was unconstitutional.

The Liberal government's decision in 2003 to allow eligible patients access to marijuana for medicinal reasons was made by an informal policy statement and never changed the existing statutes or regulations, Lawyer Bryan McAllister argued.

"It is a departmental policy that can be changed at whim, or even ignored," McAllister said in an interview.

"An aggrieved party cannot go to court to seek enforcement of a government policy."

Without a clause that makes an exception for medicinal marijuana users, "the policy is not enshrined in law, it has no value, and the law as it stands is unconstitutional," McAllister said.


Eric Nash, who has testified as an expert witness in a number of cannabis cases across Canada, said the number of cases he has been involved in has "tripled" in recent months.

"All of the sudden there seems to be a huge increase in the number of marijuana possession cases going to court," Nash said.

That's because the number of people arrested for smoking pot rose dramatically in several Canadian cities last year after the Conservatives took office and killed Liberal legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Preliminary figures suggested the number of arrests jumped by more than one-third in several Canadian cities; Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax all reported increases of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2006.



When the fortunes of your political party are waning because of failing foreign adventures, what's a politician to do for diversion? Go after pot smokers, of course! In the UK, prime minister Gordon Brown surprised onlookers by ordering a review of the laws that have lessened the penalties for cannabis use. The move follows a media flap over "concerns" and "fears" that "potent 'skunk'" cannabis is causing youth to become "psychotic". The UK government will release a report next week which is expected to call for greater punishment ("enforcement") for cannabis use. In the UK, penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis were reduced in 2004 after a re-classification from "Class B" to a less-serious "Class C". Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, author of the reclassification of cannabis in 2004, noted that cannabis use has actually dropped. "[C]annabis use amongst young people has fallen and the campaign to educate and inform young people has been the most successful government information programme in recent years."

In France, a new national study that shows teenagers are using more cannabis than ever before. "Our studies show that they are turning to cannabis because its effects reinforce their state of mind without fundamentally altering it. They don't want to get wasted," said Jean-Michel Costes, author of the study and director of the drugs and addiction group, OFDT. The upsurge in French youth using cannabis follows the passage of harsher punishments for cannabis possession enacted in France in 2004.

If you're a "Justice" Minister in Ireland, you've got a bully pulpit from which to rail against those "who make the argument for decriminalisation". Best of all, you needn't provide any evidence whatsoever for your assertions. Irish Justice Minister Brian Lenihan did just that last week when he announced decriminalizing or legalizing "drugs" would worsen crime and dependency. "The harm that would be done by going down that road would far exceed any benefits that might be gained from it," proclaimed the prescient minister. He added, "We have seen a spate of savage killings. Sometimes, they happen because of rows that take place related to the drugs trade."

Why don't we see Pfizer or Bayer act this way?


Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

Gordon Brown signalled a tougher approach to "soft" drugs yesterday with a surprise announcement of the second review in two years of the classification of cannabis.

Concern has been raised over the increased use of more potent "skunk" forms of the drug. There have been fears that its use is linked to psychotic illness, depression and suicide among young people.


Next week, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will publish a consultation paper on the next steps for the Government's drug strategy, focusing on education and enforcement.

Mr Brown told MPs at Prime Minister's Questions: "As part of the consultation, and the Cabinet discussed this yesterday, the Home Secretary will also consult on whether it is now right that cannabis should be moved from Class C to Class B."


The council said at the time that smoking cannabis may worsen asthma and damage the respiratory tract and that its use during pregnancy produced adverse effects on the child. It added that cannabis use may worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia and lead to a relapse in some patients. But it said: "For individuals, the current evidence suggests, at worst, that using cannabis increases the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by 1 per cent."

It added: "The evidence for the existence of an association between frequency of cannabis use and the development of psychosis is, on the available evidence, weak.

"In the last year, over three million people appear to have used cannabis but very few will ever develop this distressing and disabling condition.

"And many people who develop schizophrenia have never consumed cannabis. Based on the available data the use of cannabis makes (at worst) only a small contribution to an individual's risk for developing schizophrenia."


Mr Blunkett said in a statement that he was "quite relaxed" about the prospect of a review of his decision to downgrade the drug. The statement said: "It is worth reflecting that cannabis use amongst young people has fallen and the campaign to educate and inform young people has been the most successful government information programme in recent years."




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jul 2007
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Author: Henry Samuel, in Paris

French teenagers see wine and alcohol as "old France" and are increasingly turning to cannabis to let their hair down, according to a national study on its consumption.

Jean-Michel Costes, head of the French drugs and addiction watchdog, OFDT, said yesterday that French cannabis use has soared in the past 15 years and is now almost on a par with Britain.

While the French drink half the amount they did in the 1960s, cannabis consumption among the 18- to 35-year age group has more than trebled since the early 1990s, the report found.

France is now just behind Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Europe's heaviest cannabis users, the Czech Republic.


"Young people who want to rebel don't want the 'old-fashioned' image associated with wine and alcohol," said Mr Costes. "Unlike in the UK, binge-drinking is very uncommon - the French steer clear of hangovers or feeling ill.

"Our studies show that they are turning to cannabis because its effects reinforce their state of mind without fundamentally altering it. They don't want to get wasted."


"There is a general rise in the amount of anti-depressants taken in France and the precursor to this in the young is cannabis," he said.


Marie Choquet, research head of the medical body Inserm, said yesterday that anti-cannabis legislation had only been in force since 2004.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Irish Independent (Ireland)

Decriminalisation, he argued, would be a recipe for a vastly increased dependency on drugs.

"The harm that would be done by going down that road would far exceed any benefits that might be gained from it," he told the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal.

Mr Lenihan said it was nonsense to think Ireland could take that step while drugs remained controlled in other jurisdictions.

"People who make the argument for decriminalisation rarely seem to carry its logic to its conclusion and say that if people stopped using illicit drugs then the crime associated with supply would disappear."


"We have seen a spate of savage killings. Sometimes, they happen because of rows that take place related to the drugs trade.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Why would a legitimate doctor worry about the DEA?

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The story of a FBI-sponsored orgy, the cocaine sting that went wrong, and the ensuing fall-out

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The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Tonight: 07/20/07 - Jack Cole, Director Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Listen Live Fridays 8:00 PM, ET, 7:00 CT, 6:00 MT & 5:00 PT at

Last: 07/13/07 - Jay Fisher, asst Atty General in Georgia, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition



Why are pro sports bosses so skittish about marijuana?

By Paul Armentano and Mark Stepnoski, July 19, 2007


July 18, 2007



On June 6, 2005, the US Supreme Court, unfortunately, upheld the power of the federal government to ban medical marijuana. This month (probably next week, mid-July, 2007), Congress will vote on an amendment that if passed would give patients the protection the court has denied. There might not be another Congressional vote on medical marijuana until next year, so your emails and phone calls are critically needed right now.

VIRGINIA RESNER 1946-2007  ( Top )

It is with deep sorrow that I inform you that our dear friend and colleague, Virginia Resner, passed away July 18th. We are calling it her "liberation" day as she is now released from her body and the suffering from her 5 1/2 year battle with breast cancer.

Her energy, her compassion, her efforts, and her selfless and loving friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Please light a candle, burn some sage, and pray for peace (which is what she wanted above all) in her honor.

More details to come regarding Virginia's life and plans for memorial services.

We are truly blessed to have known her and to have had her in our lives.

-- Mikki Norris



By Robert Guest

Re: "At the End of the Line - There are hidden costs of recreational drug use," July 8 Editorials.

Let me tell you why you can step away from the sink and put down the blood-washing soap: Your editorial points out negative externalities of prohibition. By choosing prohibition, we have chosen everything the editorial wants people to feel bad about.

Do you really think the Taliban can supply heroin better than Pfizer? Do Colombian guerrilla armies sell us laptops or organic milk? Do we have Oak Cliff gangs enforcing alcohol and tobacco turf and selling beer to kids?

If we had legal markets for drugs, those entities would be out of business. The government chose criminals and terrorists as our nation's drug suppliers. We incarcerate millions of Americans and conduct home invasion searches to enforce this failed policy.

This misguided guilt trip from The Dallas Morning News is typical of those who do not understand that prohibition is the cause of our nation's drug problems, foreign and domestic. We can only win the drug war by ending prohibition.

Until then, spare me the moral outrage.

Robert Guest, Ennis

Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jul 2007
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)


DrugSense recognizes Kirk Muse of Mesa, Arizona for his 20 letters published during June, bringing the total number of published letters archived by MAP to 915. Kirk is also a dedicated volunteer newshawk, having newshawked 542 MAP archived articles so far this year.

You may read Kirk's published letters at


No Taxation without Representation in Court!  ( Top )

By Sheldon Richman

The July 4th holiday readily brings to mind the phrase "no taxation without representation." A major reason for the Americans' wish to be independent from the British empire was their belief that people should have a say in the tax policies imposed on them.

Well, we got representation -- and a whole lot more taxes too. Is representation the taxpayers' only recourse? Perhaps the courts could provide another form of recourse. If the government is supposed to be bound by the Constitution, then shouldn't taxpayers be able to sue the government when their money is used improperly?

Alas, that's not how the courts see it.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled -- once again -- that merely being a taxpayer confers no standing to sue the government when it spends money unconstitutionally. The 5-4 decision in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation left intact the Bush administration's power to run its Faith-Based Organization and Communities Initiative. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed suit after officials of the Bush administration held conferences and gave speeches to encourage the participation of religious groups in the Faith-Based Initiative. The purpose of this program is to permit religious social-service organizations to compete with secular organizations for taxpayer money to carry out various government purposes, such as drug counseling. FFRF argued that using tax money for religious beneficiaries violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion."

The Court did not say the plaintiff's argument had no constitutional merit. It said that simply being a taxpayer does not qualify a person to make that argument in court.

The Supreme Court has allowed one exception to its rule against taxpayer suits. If a specific congressional appropriation violates the Establishment Clause, a taxpayer can sue. But a majority of justices said the FFRF case doesn't qualify because a presidential order, not Congress, authorized spending on the Faith-Based Initiative. Why that distinction should matter is anyone's guess.

What explains this bad attitude toward taxpayer suits? The answer given is that no taxpayer is specifically harmed by the spending. As the Supreme Court put it previously, "Interest in the moneys of the Treasury ... is shared with millions of others; is comparatively minute and indeterminable; and the effect upon future taxation, of any payment out of the funds, so remote, fluctuating and uncertain, that no basis is afforded for an appeal to the preventive powers of a court of equity."

In the FFRF case Justice Antonin Scalia added, "Is a taxpayer's purely psychological displeasure that his funds are being spent in an allegedly unlawful manner ever sufficiently concrete and particularized to support ... standing? The answer is plainly no."

Another rationale for not permitting the suits is that they would prompt a violation of the separation of powers. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "Permitting any and all taxpayers to challenge the content of ... executive operations and dialogues would lead to judicial intervention so far exceeding traditional boundaries on the Judiciary that there would arise a real danger of judicial oversight of executive duties."

Justice Samuel Alito added another reason: "In light of the size of the federal budget, it is a complete fiction to argue that an unconstitutional federal expenditure causes an individual federal taxpayer any measurable economic harm. And if every federal taxpayer could sue to challenge any Government expenditure, the federal courts would cease to function as courts of law and would be cast in the role of general complaint bureaus."

To all of which, one may ask, so what? Who's supposed to be in charge, the government or the people?

Taxpayer standing may seem like an arcane technical legal issue of little consequence for freedom But that's not the case. It's critical to keeping government on a short leash.

Isn't that why our ancestors revolted?

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine ( ). Visit his blog "Free Association" at Send him email @


"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

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