This Just In
(1)DEA Raids 10 Pot Shops
(2)McNerney Draws Fire From Backers Of Medicinal Pot
(3)Cannabis Use Linked To 40% Rise In Risk Of Schizophrenia
(4)U.S. Mayors Declare Drug War A Failure

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writer

Agents Hit the Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Shortly After the L.A. City Council Bars New Facilities for a Year to Write Better Regulations.

The gap between state and federal drug laws became apparent again Wednesday when federal agents raided 10 local medical marijuana facilities only minutes after the Los Angeles City Council placed a moratorium on new facilities so rules could be drafted to better regulate them.

The ban is for one year, but the council can extend it for another year.

The city move was widely applauded by medical marijuana activists who believe that having a solid set of rules will help prevent future city crackdowns and ensure that dispensaries remain open.


Drug Enforcement Administration officers served a search warrant on facilities across Los Angeles County, including the California Patients Group in Hollywood, said DEA spokeswoman Sarah Pullen. The timing of the raid was not intended to coincide with the council vote, she said.

"These are ongoing enforcement operations. As far as we know, we've been planning this for some time," Pullen said.




Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Freshmen Dems Blamed in Defeat of Plan to Stop Feds

Washington -- Backers of a proposal that would have blocked federal authorities from interfering in state-approved medicinal marijuana programs, stung by a disappointing defeat in the House, are zeroing in on freshmen Democrats such as Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton who opposed the proposal.

The proposal, which advocates have introduced for several years, would have barred the Drug Enforcement Administration from stopping the medicinal use of marijuana in the 12 states including California where voters or the legislature have moved to legalize such pot use.

But the House voted 262-165 to defeat the bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County).

The medicinal pot forces, who cite public opinion polls and votes of the public in California, among other states, as they lobby lawmakers, were particularly angry that freshman Democrats, including McNerney, voted late Wednesday against the proposal, which was an amendment to the annual Justice Department spending bill.


McNerney, who alone among the Bay Area's all-Democratic House delegation voted against the measure, tied marijuana use to other illegal drugs.

"We are facing a drug crisis with meth and other drug use on the rise. Until we get a handle on the crippling drug use in our society, I cannot support the relaxation of current drug policy," McNerney said in a statement.


"Not only does this amendment hurt law enforcement's efforts to combat drug trafficking, but it sends the wrong message. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the United States," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.




Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jul 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Polly Curtis, health correspondent

Smoking cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia by at least 40% according to research which indicates that there are at least 800 people suffering serious psychosis in the UK after smoking the drug.

Mental health groups called on the government last night to issue fresh health warnings and launch an education campaign to advise teenagers that even light consumption of the drug could trigger long- term mental health problems. The findings came after a rush of ministers declared their cannabis-smoking pasts and an order from the prime minister for officials to consider whether the drug should be reclassified amid fears about its more potent "skunk" form. Last night the Home Office said the research would be considered in that review.

The study, an analysis published in the Lancet medical journal of previous research into the effects of the drug on tens of thousands of people, provides the most persuasive evidence to date that smoking cannabis can cause mental illness years after people have stopped using it.

The overall additional risk to cannabis smokers is small, but measurable. One in 100 of the general population have a chance of developing severe schizophrenia; that rises to 1.4 in 100 for people who have smoked cannabis.

But the risk of developing other psychotic symptoms among people who smoke large quantities or are already prone to mental illness is significant, the researchers say.




Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Bay View, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The San Francisco Bay View
Author: Bob Curley

The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted the resolution during its June 21-26 annual meeting in Los Angeles, calling for a "new bottom line" in drug policy that "concentrates more fully on reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse, while ensuring that our policies do not exacerbate these problems or create new social problems of their own; establishes quantifiable, short- and long-term objectives for drug policy; saves taxpayers money and holds state and federal agencies responsible."

Sponsored by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, the resolution states that the drug war costs $40 billion annually but has not cut drug use or demand. It slams the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) drug-prevention programs specifically, the agency's national anti-drug media campaign as "costly and ineffective," but called drug treatment cost-effective and a major contributor to public safety because it prevents criminal behavior.

"This Conference recognizes that addiction is a chronic medical illness that is treatable, and drug treatment success rates exceed those of many cancer therapies," the document states.

The resolution condemns mandatory minimum sentences and incarceration of drug offenders, particularly minorities, and called for more control of anti-drug spending and priorities at the local level, where the impact is most acutely felt.

"U.S. policy should not be measured solely on drug-use levels or number of people imprisoned, but rather on the amount of drug-related harm reduced," according to the resolution. The document calls for more accountability among federal, state and local drug agencies, with funding tied to performance measures, more treatment funding, alternatives to incarceration and lifting the federal funding ban for needle-exchanges.

The resolution, which will be used to guide the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Washington lobbying on addiction issues, passed with minimal debate, clearing two committees and the general assembly by unanimous votes.





Perceptions can vary widely in the drug war. A Washington, D.C. publication that looks inside Beltway politics featured a rather light cover story on "The Marijuana Lobbyist," as if it's hard to believe that someone actually does this job. But, another publication featured a rare story critical of a leading U.S. presidential candidate who lobbied for a notorious pharmaceutical company in recent years, even after talking tough about drugs for his whole career. That notorious pharmaceutical company, by the way, was fined heavily last week for promoting a legal drug, but no company representatives will see any jail time.

The last two selections also show how two jailed border patrol agents are polarizing law enforcement observers across the country. More members of congress, including those perceived as liberal, like U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, are expressing support for the border patrol agents, who shot a suspect and then tried to cover up the incident, while some supporters of law and order still insist the law has to apply to everyone, including law enforcement officers. It's a shame jailed non-violent drug offenders don't garner so much attention and serious consideration. Without the drug war, particularly the war on cannabis, the border agents would not have found themselves in such an unfortunate situation.


Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Hill, The (US DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Hill
Author: Betsy Rothstein

So this is how he is: The chief lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project has short, clean-cut blond hair, and wears crisp, dark suits and conservative red-and-blue patterned ties. There is not a hint of dope pusher about him. He's 28, married with three children, and possesses a boyish face, easy laugh and driven demeanor. He doesn't even have a tattoo.

And his office? Downtown Geekville. His desk is neat and tidy. Volumes of Riddick's Senate Procedure and Deschler-Brown Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives are displayed prominently on it. Like other buttoned-up lobbyists, he dines at locales such as Bistro Bis, The Monocle and Sonoma.

His only nod to liberal living is that he lives in Takoma Park, Md., a hippyish community where people stick anti-war and "Impeach Bush" cardboard signs in their front lawns.

Last week, Showtime aired "In Pot We Trust," a documentary that shines light on Washington's marijuana lobby by spending days with Houston and four chronically ill patients who rely on marijuana but are tripped up by federal narcotics laws. The youthful lobbyist walks the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building and has a chance encounter with the chief opponent of the marijuana lobby, Rep. Mark Souder ( R-Ind. ), who closes a door on him. Souder insists there is no such thing as medical marijuana.

Houston also has hugfest encounters with lawmakers who support the cause, such as Rep. Maurice Hinchey ( D-N.Y. ), Ron Paul ( R-Texas ) and Sam Farr ( D-Calif. ).




Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jul 2007
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2007 Newsday Inc.
Author: John Riley

On Oct. 23, 2003, Rudy Giuliani appeared with Rep. Curt Weldon in suburban Upper Darby, Pa., to announce a new program -- called "Dime Out a Dealer" -- that was designed to combat the growing scourge of prescription drug abuse by offering $1,500 rewards to anyone who turned in a pusher.

"Congressman Weldon's new program helps us go after the real villains here, the illegal dealer," Giuliani said, praising both Weldon ( R-Pa. ) and Purdue Pharma, the Stamford, Conn., drugmaker that was underwriting the program, according to a news release. "By doing so, we ensure that the patients who require these same life-saving and enhancing medicines are not denied access based upon the illegal conduct of others."

The appearance was one in a series of efforts Giuliani undertook over a five-year period after leaving City Hall in 2002 -- from image-building and security-consulting to behind-the-scenes lawyering - -- that helped Purdue grapple with the fallout from widespread abuse of its blockbuster painkiller, OxyContin, by focusing attention on street criminals rather than corporate misconduct and lax regulation.

In May, however, the company and three top executives agreed to pay a $640-million fine and plead guilty to fraudulently marketing the drug between 1995 and 2001 by minimizing its addictive potential. Federal prosecutors said scores had died and many more became addicted, and with Giuliani now running for president, the plea deal he helped negotiate has drawn new attention from some OxyContin critics who say he provided a "smoke screen" that deflected attention from the over-marketing and under-regulation they blame for the crisis.

"The country was being devastated, continues to be devastated, and his function was to convince the public that there wasn't a problem with the drug," said Marianne Skolek, a New Jersey nurse whose daughter Jill died in 2002 of heart failure after she was prescribed OxyContin for a herniated disc. " ... He is not a hero to the thousands of parents who have lost kids or whose kids are in rehab facilities as a result of Purdue peddling this drug."




Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jul 2007
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2007 Roanoke Times
Author: Laurence Hammack

The Deal Ordering $634.5 Million Over OxyContin's Marketing Is One Of The Largest Such Fines

ABINGDON, Va. --A pharmaceutical company and three executives were fined $634.5 million Friday for the deceptive marketing of OxyContin, a painkiller that reaped billions for the company and misery for its victims. Before accepting a plea agreement between federal prosecutors and Purdue Pharma, Judge James Jones said he was troubled by the lack of jail sentences for three company officials.

"While this may not be a popular decision, my job is not to make popular decisions but to follow the law," Jones said.

Earlier in the day, the three Purdue executives sat impassively through emotional statements by people who blame them for the overdose deaths of their loved ones. Other speakers recounted their own near-death experiences with addiction to a potent painkiller hailed by the company as a miracle drug in the fight against pain.

One woman brandished an urn holding the ashes of her cremated son at the defendants.

"This is from your drug, OxyContin, and here he is, in this courtroom," said Lee Nuss of Palm Coast, Fla., whose 18-year-old son, Randall, died from an overdose. "Here he is, for you all to see."

Friday's sentencing in U.S. District Court in Abingdon ended a lengthy federal investigation that forced guilty pleas from a company that has long argued it should not be held responsible for what happens when its painkiller is abused.




Pubdate: Sun, 22 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Washington -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, normally a target for criticism from outspoken conservatives, is being hailed as an unlikely hero by the political right for joining them in calling for President Bush to free two U.S. border agents convicted of shooting a suspected drug smuggler.

The case of agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos has become a cause celebre for conservative talk radio, bloggers and politicians. The agents were sentenced in October 2006 to 12 and 11 years in prison, respectively, by a federal judge in El Paso, Texas. Supporters say the initial verdict and the sentences were unbelievably harsh, an example of overzealous prosecution and of misplaced government priorities.

The critics of the sentence, many of whom opposed the failed immigration reform bill that Feinstein backed, also say the incident shows the U.S.-Mexico border is out of control because of drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

The two agents admit they shot and wounded unarmed drug smuggling suspect Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks as he fled from them after crashing a van loaded with 743 pounds of marijuana. He fled on foot, they caught him and scuffled. He escaped and refused their order to stop as he ran toward the Mexican border.




Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jul 2007
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Austin American-Statesman

One of the odder controversies swirling these days is the bitter criticism being flung at Johnny Sutton, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, which is based in San Antonio and includes Austin. Sutton's shortcoming, it appears, is his strict enforcement of the law even when the law-breakers are Border Patrol agents.

Sutton, appointed by President Bush, prosecuted the two agents for shooting at and wounding a fleeing but unarmed drug suspect and then lying about it in 2005.

However, it wasn't Sutton who convicted them; a West Texas jury did that after a 2=-week trial laying out all evidence. The agents are Jose Alonso Compean, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence, and Ignacio Ramos, who is serving an 11-year sentence.

Among many Americans alarmed about the nation's porous border with Mexico, Compean and Ramos are seen as martyrs, unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned by an over-zealous prosecutor while trying to protect the country from drug runners.

Sutton, though, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington this week that Compean and Ramos "are not heroes. They deliberately shot an unarmed man in the back without justification, destroyed evidence to cover it up and lied about it."

The agents contended that they saw an object in the suspect's hand that looked like a gun. But they first made that claim a month after the shooting, Sutton said.




More corruption and more cruel overkill by law enforcement, and yet the smugglers still find new paths.


Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jul 2007
Source: Daily Advance, The (Elizabeth City, NC)
Copyright: 2007 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Diana Mazzella

The state probe of an Edenton police detective facing felony criminal charges was sparked by allegations he planted criminal evidence on several suspects he arrested, court documents show.

The State Bureau of Investigation's application for a search warrant also indicates that Michael Aaron Davidson -- charged July 10 with altering evidence in a criminal investigation -- has been investigated multiple times during his law enforcement career for allegations that include missing money, use of excessive force and planting evidence. The investigations occurred while Davidson was a police officer with the Kinston Police Department and a deputy with the Tyrrell County Sheriff's Office, the application states.

Davidson, 32, was arrested and charged last Tuesday before being released on $1,000 unsecured bond. He is currently on administrative leave from the Edenton Police Department.

The application, filed with a Superior Court judge July 9, also lists allegations of misconduct during Davidson's employment in Edenton. Three years before Davidson was hired by the Edenton Police Department, he was investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation while he was an officer in Kinston, according to court documents.

That probe was prompted by Davidson's arrest of Claude O'Neal Petteway in 2000. According to the search warrant application, Petteway alleged that Davidson planted evidence on him.

Petteway told investigators that he was beaten by Davidson who took a crack pipe from his police car and charged Petteway with possessing drug paraphernalia.




Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2007, The Detroit News
Author: Norman Sinclair, The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A 17-year veteran narcotics officer is suspected of stealing six kilos, or 13 pounds, of pure cocaine worth at least $2.4 million, authorities said.

Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said Thursday the officer, whom she didn't identify, signed out the drugs from the department's evidence room and replaced it last week with imitation cocaine.

The officer has been suspended, she said, and the matter has been turned over to the FBI for further investigation. Meanwhile, the department will continue to review whether the officer is suspected in other illegal activities, she said.

Bully-Cummings would not reveal the officer's specific assignment, but she did say it wouldn't raise suspicion for him to sign out actual drugs. Bully-Cummings said the criminal case in which the cocaine was evidence had ended before they discovered the theft.



 (12) OPED: BUDTHIRSTY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Stranger, The (Seattle, WA)
Copyright: 2007 The Stranger
Author: Dominic Holden

The Washington State Patrol Will Do Almost Anything to Bust a Pot Grower

On July 11, Washington State Patrol troopers found 8-year-old Chandler Osman in the cab of a truck that had just crushed her grandfather to death. Larry Maurer, 63, was trying to repair the vehicle after it broke down coming over Snoqualmie Pass. When he unhooked the driveline, the tractor rolled over him. How did troopers console the little girl? By questioning her, raiding her home, and arresting her parents.

You see, Chandler reportedly admitted that her mother and father, Rainee and Bruce Osman, grew marijuana--as medicine--in their Kent home. Washington State Patrol Lt. Jeff Sass says the topic came up when a female officer asked Chandler questions intended to comfort. "Her number-one concern was to get the girl home without upsetting her," Sass told The Stranger. The female officer inquired, "Where does mommy work?" to which Chandler replied: "Mommy doesn't work. Daddy doesn't work. Daddy grows medicine for mommy," Sass says.

A routine background search under the parents' names would have revealed the couple was arrested for growing marijuana in 2005. But search returns would also have shown no criminal charges were filed against the couple because they were authorized by their doctor to cultivate marijuana under Washington's Medical Use of Marijuana Act, passed in 1998.

Rather than trust records showing that the parents were abiding by the law, rather than check to make sure their pot paperwork was valid, rather than get a warrant before entering the home, and rather than take any humane step to comfort the grieving family, WSP troopers immediately dispatched several patrol cars to search the family's apartment.

"An officer pushed [my wife] into the house, flipped her around, and handcuffed her," explains Bruce Osman. "Then they slammed me against the wall and told us to shut up, and dragged us out of our house onto the steps of our apartment." He continues, "They went in and out of the house several times, and said they were waiting for a search warrant."

The Osmans, who are both disabled from hepatitis C and use marijuana to curb nausea and wasting syndrome, were not allowed to reenter for four hours while officers ransacked their apartment, removed the plants, and seized $2,000. KING-5 TV ran sympathetic footage of the couple's upturned house the next day.




Pubdate: Sun, 22 Jul 2007
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Julia Glick, The Press-Enterprise

CALEXICO - U.S. Border Patrol agents in inland California are catching more and more drugs welded into gas tanks, secreted under upholstery or stacked brazenly in car trunks and driven across the desert.

The Border Patrol's El Centro Sector, which includes 72 miles of California's inland stretch of the border and areas north -- including sections of Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- has seized hundreds of more pounds of cocaine and thousands of more pounds of marijuana than neighboring sectors have since the current fiscal year began in October.

Border Patrol and other law enforcement officials say the federal government's unprecedented buildup of agents along the border, a greater focus on border enforcement in San Diego and Arizona, and grisly cartel wars in Mexico may all be driving the sector's exponential increase in confiscated drugs over the past few years. The trend may indicate a shift in international drug trafficking toward the inland region or just a larger dent in the vast amounts of undetected drugs flowing up from Mexico along inland routes.

"It is clear that your numbers of seizures of at least marijuana and cocaine are up, way up, but the problem is trying to explain that," said Scott Stewart, a senior terrorism and security expert with Strategic Forecasting. The Texas-based firm, known by the nickname Stratfor, provides geopolitical analysis to international companies.




As the Los Angeles' City Council votes, the Drug Enforcement Agency conducts raids. The DEA seldom goes after individual patients, but in Canada there is growing evidence that law enforcement is looking for any excuse to bust medicinal marijuana patients.

From the newspaper of Canada's capitol comes a reefer madness column. " many as one in four cannabis users is genetically at risk for developing schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder" The actual risk, according to peer reviewed medical journal articles, is about 1 in 6,000 users. The studies also make clear that the psychotic disorders could be pre-existing - the users self-medicating with marijuana. B.C. Bud and skunk are 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago? Drug War Distortions states "According to data from the Potency Monitoring Project, the THC content of commercial-grade marijuana increased from 1997 to 2000 for commercial-grade (4.25% to 4.92%) and for sinsemilla (11.62% to 13.20%)" Hmmm. If we multiply 11% by 25 times we have the best bud at an amazing 275% THC! Oh, the newspaper is the Independent on Sunday, which has a separate, independent, staff from the weekday Independent. Margret Kopala seems to have a hard time getting anything right.

On the other hand, the Health Editor for the Independent tells it as it is.

Your commentator and others from the DrugSense Weekly staff watched Virginia Resner receive the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action in 2001. She has passed on to a better place.


Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: USA Today (US)
Author: William M. Welch, USA TODAY

Threatens to Seize Properties Where Medical Marijuana Sold

LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Justice Department is unleashing a potent new weapon in its battle against California's hundreds of medical pot clinics, threatening landlords with arrest and property seizures for renting to tenants who flout federal drug laws.

Intensifying its crackdown on pot sales that are legal under California law but illegal under U.S. law, agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency executed search warrants Wednesday in raids on 10 marijuana dispensaries across Los Angeles.

As agents were moving in, Los Angeles' City Council voted 11-0 to tentatively approve a one-year moratorium on more medical marijuana stores, which have exploded in number in the past two years.

Federal officials estimate there are 400 storefront and office operations selling medical marijuana in Los Angeles and L.A. County, up from 20 two years ago and more than double the number at the start of the year, DEA Special Agent Sarah Pullen said. Law enforcement officials contend the sales have become a source for recreational pot users.

"It's clearly not about compassion or care at this point," Pullen said. "It's about money."

The most serious threat to California's voter-approved pot sales came in a letter last week from the DEA to 150 property owners or managers informing them that a tenant is operating a marijuana dispensary on the property in violation of federal law.

The letter warns that California's pot law, approved as Proposition 215 a decade ago, "is not a defense to this crime or to the seizure of the property." Landlords, the DEA warned, could lose their buildings and land and face felonies with 20-year prison sentences.


Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a pro-marijuana lobby, called the warning an "attempt by DEA to intimidate these operators and force these facilities to close."

His group has not opposed the moratorium, reasoning it could be a step toward city regulations recognizing legal pot sales. He said the DEA's timing appeared intended to shut down as many clinics as possible just as a city moratorium takes effect, preventing stores from reopening at another location.

L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine, sponsor of the moratorium, wrote DEA Administrator Karen Tandy on Wednesday protesting the focus on landlords. He asked "that you abandon this tactic."

"Voters in California and in Los Angeles support the medical use of cannabis and want safe, well-regulated access," he said.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jul 2007
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media

An Evansburg man who takes pot for his pain fears he's about to get sicker after police seized his weed yesterday.

Steve Chorney, 39, has been on painkillers for years, but over time they've started to damage his liver.

As an alternative, he started smoking pot under Health Canada's medical-marijuana program, but yesterday's police raid at his farm means he'll have to go back on his other pain medication.

"If I don't get off these pills, I'm going to die," he said.

The RCMP, meanwhile, says Chorney was growing the plants illegally.

"According to Health Canada, there is no licence in place for this individual," said Cpl. James House of the Evansburg RCMP.

Chorney, though, said he was in the midst of getting his licence renewed in order to move his plants outdoors.

After applying to Health Canada in late winter, he was asked last month for another form.

He admits the licence had expired but said he had advice from Health Canada officials to keep growing the pot in the meantime and to call them if he had problems with police.

"I tried showing the paperwork (to police), and they threatened to arrest me," said Chorney.


Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver lawyer who acts for medical-marijuana users, said he knows of cases in which police have waited for pot licences to expire in order to launch raids.

Tousaw added users are increasingly in limbo as the process to renew licences gets more complicated.



Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Margret Kopala, The Ottawa Citizen

Scientific developments have established that as many as one in four cannabis users is genetically at risk for developing schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder.

Given recent statistics from the United Nations citing Canada as the industrial world's leading consumer of cannabis, this information should set alarm bells ringing. Instead, Canada's mainstream media responded as if someone had passed out The Happy Hippy Hymn Book that no one noticed is 10 years out of date.

"Legalizing pot makes sense," intoned a National Post editorial. Comparing cannabis with alcohol and tobacco, it asked where's the "health footprint of our love for the weed?" A Globe and Mail article titled "The True North Stoned and Free" giggled about Canada's "little pot habit." Then there were the columnists. Suffice to say, only one mentioned the word "psychosis" and that, only in passing.


To its credit, Paul Martin's Liberal government quietly withdrew its marijuana decriminalization bill shortly after publication of my 2005 column. I like to think that someone in that government had finally managed to do their homework. But did anyone else?

Apparently not, even though the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry featured marijuana and psychosis as the cover story of its summer 2006 issue. Recently, Addiction magazine predicted that a quarter of new cases of schizophrenia by 2010 will result from cannabis smoking. In March of this year, the Independent -- a major British newspaper - -- retracted and apologized for its stand on decriminalizing marijuana: "Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a result of smoking skunk, the highly potent cannabis strain that is 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago."




Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jul 2007
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

In a week in which Gordon Brown signalled a toughening of the law on cannabis and Labour MPs queued up to confess to smoking dope in their youth - a dozen cabinet ministers at the last count - there has been a widespread assumption bandied about that the country is in the grip of an epidemic of cannabis-induced psychosis.

But there is no evidence that cannabis poses a greater threat to health today than it did 30 years ago, and reports that stronger forms of the drug, called skunk, have 25 times the potency are wildly exaggerated. The joint, symbol of peace and love in the 1960s, has become a totem of degenerate Britain - increasingly linked with mental breakdown and axe-wielding maniacs.

The Prime Minister, who has ordered the second review of the classification of cannabis in two years, is said by insiders to want to reverse the decision of the former home secretary, David Blunkett, who downgraded the drug from class B to class C in 2004.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which examined the issue 18 months ago, will be asked to do so again. It concluded in its report in December 2005 that the strength of cannabis resin (hash) had changed little over 30 years and was about 5 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Skunk, it found was 10 to 15 per cent THC - - two to three times as strong, not 25 times.

Professor Leslie Iversen, a pharmacologist at Oxford University, said the widespread belief that skunk was 20 to 30 times as powerful was "simply not true".

The biggest change over recent decades has been in the strength of indoor-cultivated herbal cannabis, but even this has only doubled to 12 to 14 per cent THC. Although exceptionally strong skunk can be found on the market in Britain, it always has been available, according to reports from the UN Drug Control Programme.

On the question of psychosis, the advisory council was clear. Cannabis use may worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia and lead to a relapse in some patients. But on causation, it said: "The evidence suggests, at worst, that using cannabis increases the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by 1 per cent."

It added that more than three million people were estimated to have used cannabis in the previous year, but "very few will ever develop this distressing and disabling condition".




Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

Virginia Resner, a longtime advocate for drug policy reform and the families of imprisoned drug offenders, died July 18 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 60.

Ms. Resner was co-author of the book "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War," which won the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Foundation in 2001. The book documents how families are affected by federal drug enforcement policy.

She was also president of Green-Aid, an Oakland medical marijuana legal defense fund that champions the plight of Ed Rosenthal, a former High Times columnist who twice has been convicted of violating federal drug laws for growing medical marijuana.

"She was a very compassionate and very caring person," said Rosenthal. "Some people get bogged down in the intricacies of issues, but not Virginia. She had a good strong sense of herself and what she believed in."

Ms. Resner was born in San Francisco and graduated from Galileo High School. Her father was Herbert Resner, a prominent labor lawyer who worked with longshoreman union activist Harry Bridges.

"She was a real red-diaper baby," said Ms. Resner's brother, Hillel Resner. "A lot of her values and interest in social justice came from our father."

In the early 1990s, Ms. Resner's boyfriend, Steven Faulkner, was arrested for drug dealing and sentenced to five years in prison. Even though Ms. Resner did not know about Faulkner's activities, federal agents raided her house searching for evidence. She became involved with a group that helps families of drug offenders and fought against mandatory drug sentencing minimums.

She also helped gain clemency for Amy Pofahl, a Los Angeles woman who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy in her estranged husband's ecstasy operation. President Bill Clinton granted Pofahl clemency in 2000 after she served nine years.

To all her activist endeavors, Ms. Resner brought energy, a strong sense of purpose and outstanding organizational skills, Rosenthal said.

"Virginia had a very strong commitment to social justice and was very well loved," said Mikki Norris, Ms. Resner's co-author on "Shattered Lives." "She had a real solid inner strength and wisdom."

She is survived by her brother.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco.

Donations can be sent to Coming Home Hospice of San Francisco, Green-Aid or Temple Emanu-El.



In Thailand, the Justice Ministry is again looking at the impact of the deposed Thaksin government's war on drugs, which killed 2,500 drug suspects who were summarily executed by police. Former attorney-general Khanit na Nakhon was invited to head a special committee, focusing on "studying in depth the Thaksin Shinawatra government's anti-drugs policy, in which more than 2,500 suspects lost their lives." Human rights observers welcomed the announcement, but doubt much help will come from "police, who were suspected of having a hand in most of the killings."

Methamphetamines is increasingly linked with HIV, according to a study presented to the International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in Sydney last week. "The effect of methamphetamine on behaviour is disastrous for the gay population," said Professor David Cooper, director of the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Australia. "And I fear that young straight Australians experimenting are also more at risk."

Police in Ottawa, Canada said this week that "drug use" is their biggest problem, as arrests for cocaine soar. Recorded criminal offenses in Ottawa rose across the board last year, but "violent crime dropped seven per cent". Ottawa police had earlier claimed that "criminal activity" was increasing in Ottawa. Others noted that the price of cocaine has fallen, and "because it's so cheap, people who didn't used to use are using." Ottawa city council was criticized last month after voting to stop a sterile crack pipe distribution program which was praised for helping stop the spread of Hep C and HIV.

And we leave you with a remarkably lucid article from the New Statesman in the UK. "Prohibition Has Failed, Just As It Did With Alcohol." While there were but 10,000 "problematic drug users" in the UK in 1971, now there are 300,000, which makes the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 "one of the least effective pieces of legislation ever enacted." Summarizing a report by the Royal Society of Arts released last March, "The authors would deny it, but the logic of these reports is that cannabis, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin and the rest should be legalised." Drug "prohibition has failed, just as prohibition of alcohol once failed in America... Many - perhaps most - users handle drugs without significant harm to themselves or others."


Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jul 2007
Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)
Copyright: The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2007
Author: Anucha Charoenpo

The Justice Ministry is setting up a special committee to study the Thaksin government's war on drugs and its impact on innocent victims, so that proper financial help can be extended to them and their families.

Deputy justice permanent secretary Charnchao Chaiyanukij said the secretary-general of the Office of the Prime Minister sent a letter to the ministry last week instructing it to set up the committee.

Mr Charnchao said the ministry had invited former attorney-general Khanit na Nakhon to chair the panel.


Working guidelines have already been drawn up for the committee. The panel will focus on studying in depth the Thaksin Shinawatra government's anti-drugs policy, in which more than 2,500 suspects lost their lives.


Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairwoman of the Working Group on Justice for Peace, said she welcomed the government's latest move.

However she was sceptical about whether the inquiry would receive any cooperation from law enforcement agencies, particularly police, who were suspected of having a hand in most of the killings.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jul 2007
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Herald and Weekly Times
Author: Tamara McLean


A U.S. survey of young men newly-diagnosed with HIV shows that an increasing number are using methamphetamines like the dangerous stimulant ice, the International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in Sydney has been told.

Between 2000 and 2005, the number of HIV-positive American men under 30 who also took club drugs rose from 1.7 to five per cent.

The study is one of the first in the world to strongly link methamphetamines and HIV infection - a trend that leading Australian HIV researcher Professor David Cooper believes could be fuelling the resurgence of the virus here.

Australia's infection rates have almost doubled in the last seven years and new figures also show an increasing number - now one in eight young Australians - have had speed or the more potent ice in the past year.


Lead researcher Dr Christopher Hurt said while it could not confirm that club drugs directly caused the infection, there were definite increasing trends over time that couldn't be overlooked.


Dr Hurt said previous studies had already shown that gay methamphetamine users were more at risk of HIV infection.


Prof Cooper, co-convener of the conference and director of the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, said the trend was alarming.

"The effect of methamphetamine on behaviour is disastrous for the gay population," he said. "And I fear that young straight Australians experimenting are also more at risk."



Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Authors: Andrew Seymour, and Jake Rupert

Charges For Possession, Trafficking, Importing Up 57%

The number of drug charges Ottawa police laid for the possession, trafficking and importation of cocaine jumped 57 per cent last year.


While the dramatic increases could partially be attributed to increased enforcement and attention by police, Chief Vernon White said the statistics are an indication that the use of crack cocaine is on the rise in Ottawa.

"It tells me that the concerns about drug use downtown are absolutely right. That is probably our biggest challenge right now," said Chief White.

It is the third year in a row the number of charges laid in relation to cocaine under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have risen. That number has more than doubled since 2004.


The police statistics also showed a 28-per-cent increase in the number of charges in relation to marijuana, and a 78-per-cent increase in relation to a broad category labelled "other drugs." Overall, drug charges were up 40 per cent last year.

Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa Inner City Health, said there's been a marked increase in the number of people using crack in the city over the last couple of years.


"It's a volume business now," Ms. Muckle said. "They sell smaller amounts for less and because it's so cheap, people who didn't used to use are using."


Overall, the number of Criminal Code offences rose slightly in Ottawa last year, although violent crime dropped seven per cent.


Meanwhile, a group of social support and health organizations will hold a meeting tomorrow night to discuss their next moves after city council voted two weeks ago to kill the crack-pipe program.

The program saw the city making clean crack pipes available on demand through the organizations, with the goal of reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among users. The organizations supported the program because they believe, along with the city's chief medical officer of health and an epidemiologist who studied the program, that it was reducing the spread of disease.

Officials from the organizations have roundly criticized council for the decision to kill the program, and have called on the provincial government to strip council of its responsibilities as a board of public health.



Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2007
Source: New Statesman (UK)
Copyright: 2007 New Statesman
Author: Peter Wilby

Prohibition Has Failed, Just As It Did With Alcohol

Almost anybody who takes a sustained, unprejudiced look at the current drugs laws eventually reaches the conclusion that they are hopelessly unfit for purpose.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 must be one of the least effective pieces of legislation ever enacted.

At that time, there were perhaps 10,000 problematic drug users in the UK; now there are nearly 300,000.

The Downing Street Strategy Unit concluded that "government interventions against the drugs business are a cost of business rather than a substantive threat to the industry's viability".


In March, a Royal Society of Arts commission - which included a recovering addict, a senior police officer, a drug treatment specialist and a Telegraph journalist - decided that "drugs policy should, like our policy on alcohol and tobacco, seek to regulate use and prevent harm rather than to prohibit use altogether". The authors would deny it, but the logic of these reports is that cannabis, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin and the rest should be legalised.

The harm the various drugs do is irrelevant. Their prohibition has failed, just as prohibition of alcohol once failed in America. Calls for politicians to "get tough" are, as the RSA observes, "meretricious, vapid and out of date".


Stronger types of cannabis are now on sale, we are told, and research shows a link with schizophrenia.

This is like saying Chablis should be banned because cognac is much stronger and because some people become alcoholics, with dire effects on themselves, their families and society.


If we are trying to send "messages" to young people about the dangers of drugs, as press and politicians claim, we do it in a pretty confusing way. Many who try one class A drug without ill effects may well conclude they can all be taken freely.


Many - perhaps most - users handle drugs without significant harm to themselves or others.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Pete Guither

Four years ago today, I started this blog with the notion of maybe posting something once a week or so. 2,378 posts and 1.7 million page views later, I guess it's fair to say that this is an important part of me.



A 37-year-old Kitchener, Ontario mother has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for transporting illegal drugs through the United States.


The myths behind 'potent' pot

By Paul Armetano and Marsha Rosenbaum

Heard the latest buzz about cannabis? Word on the street is that today's pot is exponentially more powerful, and thus more dangerous, than the marijuana available some 20, or even 10, years ago.


By Bill Conroy

Over the past 17 years since its creation, probably no other initiative has done more in seeking to coordinate the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement in the so-called War on Drugs than the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.


By Margaret Dooley, AlterNet, July 26, 2007

Al Gore III, the 24-year-old son of the former vice president, is facing more than three years in prison for simple drug possession following his arrest in Southern California earlier this month.


Last: 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



Stephen gets the munchies with medical marijuana lobbyist, Aaron Houston.



The Drug Czar's office has been caught - yet again - using taxpayer money to influence elections. Tell your members of Congress to amend federal law to prohibit the Drug Czar and his deputies from using taxpayer money to lobby or campaign.



By Alison Myrden

I am a federal medical marijuana exemptee in Canada and also retired from law enforcement. Thus I was very pleased to read the extraordinary common sense of Kathleen Parker.

Not only will North Americans benefit when adult marijuana use is legalized, so will those who rely on steady access to appropriately grown medical marijuana will benefit as well.

In a legal system, the medicine ( marijuana ) is distributed by regulated dealers in a cross between pharmacies and adults-only alcohol sellers.

Commercial production, when legal, is likewise motivated to operate in regulated settings, so products can be as healthy as possible and thus safer for the consumer or patient.

Those insisting on marijuana prohibition ignore the lessons of history and are endorsing all production and commercial dealing be 100 percent unregulated and dealt totally on the street, often by nefarious sellers whose product is unpredictable and who often openly market to kids.

The primary obstacle to the Canadian government agreeably legalizing and regulating the multibillion-dollar marijuana trade is Washington, D.C.-inspired prohibition. Americans, if you lead, we will follow.

Alison Myrden Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)



By Donald J. Boudreaux

The standard, schoolbook history of alcohol prohibition in the United States goes like this:

Americans in 1920 embarked on a noble experiment to force everyone to give up drinking. Alas, despite its nobility, this experiment was too naive to work. It soon became clear that people weren't giving up drinking. Worse, it also became clear that Prohibition fueled mobsters who grew rich supplying illegal booze. So, recognizing the futility of Prohibition, Americans repealed it in 1934.

This popular belief is completely mistaken. Here's what really happened:

National alcohol prohibition did begin on Jan. 16, 1920, following ratification of the 18th Amendment and enactment of the Volstead Act.

Speakeasies and gangster violence did become familiar during the 1920s.

And Americans did indeed keep drinking.

But contrary to popular belief, the 1920s witnessed virtually no sympathy for ending Prohibition. Neither citizens nor politicians concluded from the obvious failure of Prohibition that it should end.

As historian Norman Clark reports:

"Before 1930 few people called for outright repeal of the (18th ) Amendment. No amendment had ever been repealed, and it was clear that few Americans were moved to political action yet by the partial successes or failures of the Eighteenth. ... The repeal movement, which since the early 1920s had been a sullen and hopeless expression of minority discontent, astounded even its most dedicated supporters when it suddenly gained political momentum."

What happened in 1930 that suddenly gave the repeal movement political muscle? The answer is the Great Depression and the ravages that it inflicted on federal income-tax revenues.

Prior to the creation in 1913 of the national income tax, about a third of Uncle Sam's annual revenue came from liquor taxes. ( The bulk of Uncle Sam's revenues came from customs duties. ) Not so after 1913. Especially after the income tax surprised politicians during World War I with its incredible ability to rake in tax revenue, the importance of liquor taxation fell precipitously.

By 1920, the income tax supplied two-thirds of Uncle Sam's revenues and nine times more revenue than was then supplied by liquor taxes and customs duties combined. In research that I did with University of Michigan law professor Adam Pritchard, we found that bulging income-tax revenues made it possible for Congress finally to give in to the decades-old movement for alcohol prohibition.

Before the income tax, Congress effectively ignored such calls because to prohibit alcohol sales then would have hit Congress hard in the place it guards most zealously: its purse. But once a new and much more intoxicating source of revenue was discovered, the cost to politicians of pandering to the puritans and other anti-liquor lobbies dramatically fell.

Prohibition was launched.

Despite pleas throughout the 1920s by journalist H.L. Mencken and a tiny handful of other sensible people to end Prohibition, Congress gave no hint that it would repeal this folly. Prohibition appeared to be here to stay -- until income-tax revenues nose-dived in the early 1930s.

From 1930 to 1931, income-tax revenues fell by 15 percent.

In 1932 they fell another 37 percent; 1932 income-tax revenues were 46 percent lower than just two years earlier. And by 1933 they were fully 60 percent lower than in 1930.

With no end of the Depression in sight, Washington got anxious for a substitute source of revenue.

That source was liquor sales.

Jouett Shouse, president of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, was a powerful figure in the Democratic Party that had just nominated Franklin Roosevelt as its candidate for the White House. Shouse emphasized that ending Prohibition would boost government revenue.

And a House leader of Congress' successful attempt to propose the Prohibition-ending 21st Amendment said in 1934 that "if ( anti-prohibitionists ) had not had the opportunity of using that argument, that repeal meant needed revenue for our government, we would not have had repeal for at least 10 years."

There's no doubt that widespread understanding of Prohibition's futility and of its ugly, unintended side-effects made it easier for Congress to repeal the 18th Amendment. But these public sentiments were insufficient, by themselves, to end the war on alcohol.

Ending it required a gargantuan revenue shock -- to the U.S. Treasury.

So, if the history of alcohol prohibition is a guide, drug prohibition will not end merely because there are many sound, sensible and humane reasons to end it. Instead, it will end only if and when Congress gets desperate for another revenue source.

That's the sorry logic of politics and Prohibition.

Donald J. Boudreaux is chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. His column runs twice monthly.

Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2007
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2007 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.


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