This Just In
(1)U.S., Mexico In Talks To Bolster Drug Fight
(2)Canada: Church Argues Marijuana A Sacrament
(3)Column: And The Good News Is ...
(4)LTE: Harsher Punishments Needed For Criminals

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 09 Aug 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Sam Enriquez

Amid Plans to Increase Levels of American Aid and Intelligence, Calderon Tries to Balance the Need for Security and Preservation of His Nation's Sovereignty.

Mexico and the Bush administration are negotiating plans to greatly increase levels of U.S. aid and intelligence sharing on narcotics trafficking, presenting President Felipe Calderon with a politically challenging balancing act as his nation tries to stem runaway drug violence and assuage fears of a greater U.S. role in Mexican affairs.

If approved by Congress, the reported aid package to Mexico would be well below the $5 billion Washington has spent fighting the cocaine industry in Colombia over the last seven years. But politically, such an agreement could mark a turning point in U.S.-Mexico relations, which for decades have been marked by mutual suspicion despite closer trade ties.

Already, Mexico is installing a surveillance system, funded by the U.S. State Department, to enable eavesdropping on e-mails and cellphone calls.

Further details of the new aid have been kept secret, but officials said Wednesday that proposals totaled hundreds of millions of dollars and included more surveillance, a national radar system, as well as communications systems, aircraft and training.




Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2007
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Toronto Star
Author: Tracey Tyler

If some religions sip wine at the altar, others should be allowed to smoke pot. At least according to Rev. Edwin Pearson and Rev. Michel Ethier, two ordained ministers behind a proposed $25 million class action lawsuit challenging Canada's marijuana laws.

The ministers, along with lay preacher James Hoad, allege the federal government is violating the religious freedom of members of the Church of the Universe, which claims marijuana as a "sacrament."

In a statement of claim filed with the Federal Court of Canada, the trio accuses the government of harassing church members and "denuding" them of their dignity, often stopping them as they leave services seizing "sacramental cannabis" and rifling through parish records.


The lawsuit, filed on behalf of as many as 4,000 church members, claims $9,000 in damages for each member for various breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the alleged abuse of public office by unnamed government officials. The plaintiffs are also seeking $25 million in punitive damages.

The case is the latest gambit in the church's long-running battle against pot prohibitions. The basis of this latest challenge appears to be the plaintiffs' claim that since 2003, Canada has had no valid criminal law banning marijuana possession.

That allegation might just "have some foundation in reality," says Toronto criminal lawyer Paul Burstein, who has no involvement in the case but extensive litigation experience in the area.

Earlier this month, an Ontario Court judge in Toronto acquitted a man named Clifford Long, holding that Canada's marijuana possession laws are unconstitutional. Justice Howard Borenstein's verdict had its roots in a case decided by the Ontario Court of Appeal seven years ago. In that case, the court said the criminal prohibition on marijuana possession was unconstitutional because the law did not include provisions to allow medical users to obtain the drug legally.



 (3) COLUMN: AND THE GOOD NEWS IS ...  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Calgary Sun
Author: Rick Bell

You want good news.

It is good to see the cops out in full force on the downtown river pathway, the foot soldiers of Operation Riverwalk, a thin blue line standing up for us and against those who figure they can do what they damn well please.

Yes, it is mighty good to see the drug-dealing dirtbags crawl back into their holes, nowhere to be seen, not smoking their crack in our faces, not selling their stuff shamelessly in open view, not looking to prey on an easy mark, not strutting around like they own the place when they contribute sweet tweet to this city except grief.

And it is really good to hear citizens thank the badges and give a thumbs-up and a smile, feeling just that little bit safer as they go about their lives not wanting to be hassled. The folks closest to the idiots, who have no way to be sheltered from a rude reality, know the score all too well.

Chico Ziegler is with his shopping cart and his bottles, standing on the sidelines yesterday afternoon.

"Get rid of the crackheads. Take them all down. Either that or let them kill each other, then come back and pick up the aftermath," says Chico, offering some advice to all the police on patrol -- the vans, the cars, the bikes, the shoes on pavement.

"I'm alive but I could sleep here and be stabbed or shot. The crackheads can slit your throat. You never know."


And those going to work in the towers and in the storefronts see things they do not like, things making them feel nervous, no matter what public relations spin they hear.

Acting Sgt. Scott Todd does not dismiss the attitude of unease. "If people say they don't feel safe, it's a legitimate belief. It doesn't matter what the statistics say, you can't tell them what to feel," says Todd.

People do have fears. They imagine nastiness happening to them. Is it perception? Is it real? Save such stuff for the shrinks.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Florida Today
Author: K.D. Williams

Americans are disgusted with light punishment of criminals.

Only really bad murderers are sometimes executed after years of waiting, and everyone else gets tasty food, air conditioning, exercise, television, and other amenities in prison.

Why? Liberal interpretation about what "cruel and unusual" punishment means, plus ignorant interpretation of Jesus' teachings by religious activists.

Swift, severe punishment controls crime but lawyers and judges might lose their jobs.

The Founding Fathers would turn in their graves if they could see what liberal judges and lawmakers have done for "justice." Horse thieves were once hanged and inmates had few of the "constitutional rights" that today's lawyer's demand.

Jehovah was a merciless judge. Stoning of adulterers and rebellious children was condoned. Enemies of the Jews were wiped out by the thousands.

Then along came Jesus of Nazareth, with messages of love and compassion. Modern day judges listen to "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemies" as something governments should implement.

Wrong. That philosophy was about personal behavior.

Stop burning millions of dollars in courtrooms over what is supposedly cruel, and let voters decide. Why not execute murderers, rapists, scammers, drug traffickers, and crooked politicians?

Because most legislators are either crooked or tied to crooked associates.

K.D. "Don" Williams,

Palm Bay




A slow week in drug war news with few surprises. For example, as usual, innocence is no excuse in the drug war in Florida. San Francisco tries to fix a needle exchange program in which too few needles are being returned compared to programs in other cities. Hawaiian civil libertarians protest student locker searches; and the FBI is further lifting restrictions on previous cannabis users as agents.


Pubdate: Mon, 06 Aug 2007
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2007 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writer

Prosecutors May Retry Him For Having 58 Pills

TAMPA - Prosecutor Darrell Dirks couldn't help but be suspicious.

He had offered Mark O'Hara an out on a 25-year prison sentence. All O'Hara had to do was tell prosecutors the truth about why he had 58 Vicodin pills in his possession.

But O'Hara, a bread business owner from Dunedin, wouldn't cooperate. Three years in prison didn't sound like a deal, given that a doctor had prescribed the pills.

He took his chances at trial and lost.

An appellate court overturned the drug trafficking conviction last month, two years after O'Hara went to prison. The court said the trial judge should have let O'Hara's lawyer tell jurors that it's legal to possess Vicodin with a prescription.

Now, O'Hara waits for prosecutors to decide whether they will retry his case.

In their minds, O'Hara's stubbornness sent him to prison.

O'Hara's attorneys say he had no other choice.




Pubdate: Fri, 03 Aug 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer

City officials and nonprofit agency leaders, responding to an outcry over used syringes littering parks, say they are looking at ways to reform San Francisco's needle-exchange program - including locked, 24-hour syringe drop boxes and technologically advanced syringes.

The city's needle-exchange program gives out 2.4 million needles a year and receives 65 to 70 percent of them back after they're used. Other cities - including Portland, Seattle and jurisdictions throughout New Mexico - have return rates of well over 90 percent.

In San Francisco, The Chronicle reported recently, many unreturned needles wind up in parks, playgrounds and other outdoor expanses.

"We can recover a lot more needles," said Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which runs most of the city's needle-exchange sites. "We understand it's a public health problem, and we're excited about the attention that's happening."

Cloutier said a locked, 24-hour biohazard drop box will be installed on Sixth Street within the next six weeks. It will be available for anonymous needle drop-off any time, sort of like drop boxes for library books or rented movies. The AIDS Foundation likely will test it for six months but expects to open others around the city.

"We're not going to put it in the middle of Union Square," he said. "It's where people can experience some anonymity."

As it is now, injection drug users usually return their used syringes during the hours needle exchanges or health clinics are open. The AIDS Foundation operates seven exchange sites around the city, each of which is open two to four hours a week.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2007
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2007 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: Alexandre Da Silva

It Says a Push to Allow Principals Access With No Cause Is Worrisome

The American Civil Liberties Union is protesting a state push to allow drug-sniffing dogs in public schools and let officials open students' lockers without establishing reasonable suspicion.

The state Department of Education argues that changes to the student discipline code known as Chapter 19 are needed to make campuses safer.

The revisions come as education officials are considering expanding a pilot program through which a drug-sniffing dog found marijuana and several liquor bottles at all three Maui public schools it visited this spring.

Members of a Board of Education committee debating the revisions to Chapter 19 agree the code needs to be updated with definitions like cyberbullying, forgery and hazing; and a prohibition of gadgets like laser pointers, iPods and DVD players, as well as gang paraphernalia, on school grounds.

The issue of locker searches has been more controversial.

"I think that if you are on a school campus, that it's not really your own personal property," said board Chairwoman Karen Knudsen. "But if the dog is specifically trained to be able to detect drugs, I don't see that that should be a problem if you don't have drugs."

But Laurie Temple, a Hawaii ACLU attorney, said giving principals access to students' lockers at any time without reason or cause is "unnecessary, potentially unconstitutional and opens the schools up to liability."




Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer

Policy Change Comes as Agency Struggles to Fill Openings

The buttoned-down FBI is loosening up: Under a little-noticed new hiring policy introduced this year, job applicants with a history of drug use will no longer be disqualified from employment throughout the bureau.

Old guidelines barred FBI employment to anyone who had used marijuana more than 15 times in their lives or who had tried other illegal narcotics more than five times.

But those strict numbers no longer apply. Applicants for jobs such as analysts, programmers or special agents must still swear that they have not used any illegal substances recently -- three years for marijuana and 10 years for other drugs -- but they are no longer ruled out of consideration because of more frequent drug use in the past.

Such tolerance of admitted lawbreaking might seem odd for the FBI, whose longtime director J. Edgar Hoover once railed against young thugs filled with "false courage from a Marijuana cigarette."

But FBI officials say the move is simply an acknowledgment of reality in a country where, according to some estimates, up to a third of the population has tried marijuana at some point.

The loosened standards also come as the FBI struggles to fill the jobs it has -- particularly in the areas of counterterrorism and intelligence, which draw from a more varied pool of applicants than traditional agent positions.




The drug war claims another innocent victim, this time in Jacksonville, Florida, where an 80 year-old man was shot and killed by undercover officers after he assumed they were drug dealers and confronted them about being on his property.

Even a minor bust can claim a citizen's voting rights too.

And Texas justice is interesting as always. In Dallas, a former officer is making accusations of high level corruption; while in Bexar County, the local DA says police may be unable to control themselves from busting a needle exchange, despite a new law from the legislature.


Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jul 2007
Source: Savannah Morning News (GA)
Copyright: 2007 Savannah Morning News
Author: Bridget Murphy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If anyone besides police had fatally shot 80-year-old Issac Singletary on his own Jacksonville property, they'd be charged with murder and in jail awaiting justice, his family said Friday.

Standing on the front lawn of the Westmont Street property where police fired four shots that killed Singletary six months ago Friday during an undercover drug operation, some local leaders along with the family's lawyers demanded that the police officers be held accountable.

Singletary came outside on Jan. 27 to tell two undercover detectives he mistook for drug dealers to get off his property, "which the law said he had every right to do," lawyer Benjamin Crump said, also standing with local NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin and state Sen. Tony Hill.

Crump said Singletary's autopsy report shows police shot the man four times, including once in the back, something else that makes the family believe that authorities used excessive force.

In April, State Attorney Harry Shorstein cleared police of any criminal wrongdoing in the case, although he found some aspects of it troubling. After one police official changed stories about whether he believed Singletary or a detective fired first, Shorstein said police actions were justified anyway since the 80-year-old man was an armed civilian who refused orders to drop his gun.




Pubdate: Tue, 31 Jul 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Silja J. A. Talvi

When a person is sent to prison for the first time on a drug-related felony charge, there is little chance that he or she will be told about the "collateral consequences" of their sentence.

The severity of these residual punishments depends on the state. "Life Sentences: The Collateral Sanctions Associated with Marijuana Offenses," a report released in July by the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics ( CCLE ), ranks Florida, Delaware, Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Virginia, Utah, Arizona and South Carolina as the 10 states with the worst records for continuing the punishments of people who have already served their time.

"Life Sentences" author Richard Boire writes that the long-term sanctions for drug crimes, even for relatively benign drugs like marijuana, can exceed those of violent crimes like premeditated assault, rape and murder. Intense criminalization of drugs began with the Nixon administration, which ignored its own appointed "marihuana" commission's recommendation that legalization for personal use was a logical alternative to costly and ineffective criminalization. The drug war intensified during the Reagan era and has since grown worse: Today, fully 45 percent of 1.5 million annual drug arrests are related to marijuana.

Up until the early '90s, people who smoked pot were rarely arrested in large numbers. If sentenced, most users and small-time dealers did not face long sentences. That has changed. According to the Washington D.C.-based Sentencing Project, marijuana-related arrests jumped up by 113 percent from 1990 to 2002, while overall drug arrests only increased by three percent during that time. Meanwhile, the Office of National Drug Control Policy ( ONDCP ) has linked smoking weed to everything from teen violence to terrorism.

"ONDCP's crusade seems to get more incoherent and detached from reality every day," says Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "One minute they say marijuana makes you an apathetic slug, the next they say it turns you into a violent gangbanger. Neither has the remotest connection with reality, and these latest claims of a link between marijuana and violence are based on shameless manipulation of statistics taken completely out of context."

Government-funded propaganda has been disseminated everywhere, from ads in some progressive magazines, to press releases regurgitated as "news" on cable stations like FOX News, to websites such as, which recently posted an ONDCP article, "Early Marijuana Use an Early Warning Sign for Gang Involvement." For all of its hoopla about the consequences of drug use, the ONDCP hasn't shown an interest in documenting the problems faced by those convicted of felony drug charges after release.



 (11) A BUST GOES BUST  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 02 Aug 2007
Source: Dallas Observer (TX)
Copyright: 2007 New Times, Inc.
Author: Matt Pulle

A Former Dallas Police Officer Says Her Partner Had No Right To Search A Car For Drugs

On an April evening in 2006, two police officers were patrolling a crime-ridden neighborhood in Northwest Dallas, a few miles south of Love Field. One cop was a respected veteran, the other a rookie less than a month out of the academy, now learning on the job. The two saw a BMW pull out of a dilapidated apartment complex where drugs are often peddled.

Suspicious that the driver of the car may have just hooked up with a dealer, they looked for an excuse to stop the vehicle for a traffic violation.

When the driver rolled through a stop sign on a right turn onto Maple Avenue, the officers pulled the car over into a lit parking lot.

The veteran officer, David W. Kattner, approached the vehicle on the driver's side window, while the rookie, Shanna Lopez, took the passenger side. Both shined their flashlights into the BMW. According to the police report, Kattner could clearly see a bright-blue plastic bottle top with an attached spoon, which is commonly used for snorting cocaine.

On the tip of the spoon, he saw a residue of white powder.

Also, on the passenger seat, they saw a pink plastic straw, which appeared to contain a powdery white substance.

They arrested the driver, a Mongolian woman named Buyandelger Galbadrakh, and Kattner searched the vehicle and found meth, ecstasy and coke. That night they took her to the Dallas County jail and booked her on felony drug possession charges.

It was just another routine drug arrest in a bad part of town, but more than a year later, it may come back to haunt a department reeling from accusations that at least three of its officers may have written fake tickets and made false arrests.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Aug 2007
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Don Finley, Express-News Medical Writer

In a move that could threaten a pilot syringe exchange program for drug addicts in Bexar County, District Attorney Susan Reed has warned local officials that the legislation authorizing it doesn't trump the state's narcotics laws.

"I'm telling them, and I'm telling the police chief, I don't think they have any kind of criminal immunity," Reed said. "That's the bottom line. It has nothing to do with whether they do it or don't do it -- other than if you do it you might find yourself in jail."

An attorney general's opinion likely will be sought to resolve the issue, Reed and others said, which at best could delay the start of the program until sometime next year.

An amendment attached to Medicaid legislation by state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, in the waning hours of the legislative session authorized the pilot program here, after her bill that would have permitted such programs statewide died in committee.

McClendon said she might seek an attorney general's opinion on the matter, which could take as long as six months. That would make it difficult for local authorities to gather enough evidence of the program's success -- should it prove successful -- to show the Legislature when it meets again in 2009. Supporters hope a successful local program will ease passage of a statewide bill next time.




The constitutional challenge to Canada's marijuana laws and regulations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms being heard in the British Columbia Supreme Court may be the most important challenge of this decade. The first hearings were in May. More testimony is scheduled for later this year. The constitutional challenge contends government regulations force Canadians onto the black market to buy marijuana. That interferes with the charter right to life, liberty and security of person, a position supported by other court rulings.

While United States farmers, and a growing number of states, struggle to convince the DEA that they should be allowed to grow hemp like their Canadian counterparts, we read about how easily the British treat hemp for what it is.

There is a growing awareness of the damage caused by marijuana gardens hidden in forests, as the report below notes.

From a California newspaper which has supported Proposition 215 in the past comes a call for a new initiative to bring into check the excesses which it believes the voters never intended. If you have been following the news from California you should be aware that a backlash is growing. Could California be faced with an initiative which would roll back some of the medicinal marijuana progress of the past decade? An initiative to do just that in Oregon appears likely to be on the ballot.


Pubdate: Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist

Victoria's No. 2 cop testified in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday that neither the Vancouver Island Compassion Society nor its distribution of medical marijuana has ever been the subject of a criminal investigation.

Deputy Chief Bill Naughton said the society's Cormorant Street office of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society has not generated any complaints, adding marijuana ranks behind drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin in terms of Victoria police priorities.

"The enforcement of federal laws against marijuana takes a back seat," said Naughton, who was subpoenaed by the defence in the trial of Michael Swallow, 41, and Mat Beren, 33.

Both men were charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and production of marijuana after a police raid on a compassion club grow-op.

In fact, it was the RCMP, not Victoria police, who in May 2004 raided the house near Sooke used by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to grow marijuana for its 600-odd members. Compassion club is the name commonly given to groups organized by citizens to supply marijuana as medicine.

Swallow and Beren's lawyers have mounted a constitutional challenge to Canada's medical-marijuana regulations, contending they force people to obtain drugs on the black market.

That's because, critics say, government-produced pot is poor quality, and rules for designated growers are too restrictive.

Also testifying yesterday in Victoria was Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who chaired the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, which called in 2002 for the legalization of marijuana in Canada.

Nolin told the court the regulations, as they currently exist, are an obstacle to Canadians who want access to medical marijuana.

He said the rules ask doctors to be "gatekeepers" for access to legal marijuana. It's a role doctors don't want, and so Canadians are being denied access to a medical product.

"[The] medical profession is reluctant, generally reluctant," he said. "They don't want to be the gatekeepers, they don't want that responsibility."

Canada's medical-marijuana laws, developed in response to earlier court rulings, allow citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes - for example, for relief from seizures or nausea. But approval requires a doctor to fill out and sign a form.

Patients can then grow their own marijuana, designate someone to grow it for them or buy it from the government, which has hired a company to grow pot in Flin Flon, Man.

Nolin, a Tory, said it would be more effective to have the government control the flow of marijuana through licensed distribution centres set up across the country.

"We need to have a controlled environment," he said.



Pubdate: Wed, 8 Aug 2007
Source: East Anglian Daily Times (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Archant
Author: David Green

THE WORLD'S biggest factory for processing hemp - claimed to be the "green" building material of the future - is being planned for a Suffolk town at a cost of UKP3.6 million.

When running at full capacity the plant will employ 35 people and enable operator, Hemcore Limited, the UK's only commercial hemp processing company, to process 50,000 tonnes of hemp straw a year.


Use of hemp-based products would help the UK to reduce its carbon emissions. Emerging markets included plastics reinforcement, nutrition, clothing and horticulture, he added.


Hemp, which grows up to four metres high, is tolerant of both drought and heavy rain and does not require pesticides.

Environment Minister, Phil Woolas, said: "This new investment in Suffolk will provide many benefits - for local jobs, the economy, and for those farmers who will have the opportunity to help meet increased demand for this crop.

"It also gives a clear signal that the UK is serious about developing the bio-economy because of the many benefits it can provide - including reducing greenhouse gases, cutting waste and pollution and helping biodiversity."

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family but has virtually no drug content. It has been used to make textiles for at least 6,000 years and was once widely cultivated in the UK to produce fibre for sails and rigging.



Pubdate: Mon, 06 Aug 2007
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Record
Author: Alex Breitler, Record Staff Writer

Toxic Poisons, Waste Foul Public Lands

Come September, marijuana growers who have labored for five months in some of California's most remote country will abandon their secret gardens, taking their multimillion-dollar crops.

What will they leave behind? Irrigation tubes that snake for a mile or more over forested ridges. Pesticides that have drained into creeks and entered the food chain, sickening wildlife. Piles of trash and human waste in the most rugged and bucolic drainages.

The environmental consequences of marijuana gardens - or plantations, as they're more aptly called - are increasingly apparent as law enforcement continues its statewide crackdown on the illicit operations.


Another concern revolves around endangered species. Pesticides are used to keep rodents out of the marijuana; those rodents, including wood rats, are a primary food source for the California spotted owl.

At Whiskeytown National Recreation Area near Redding, park rangers investigating a tadpole die-off in a creek wandered upstream and found a small dam in which someone had rigged an open can of fertilizer. According to testimony later delivered before Congress, rangers crawled on their bellies up steep slopes and found marijuana gardens perched atop cliffs.

Supporters of legalizing marijuana say the environmental destruction that accompanies these hidden gardens would not occur if pot was treated like any legal agricultural product.




Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2007
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Ukiah Daily Journal


While Prop. 215, the medical marijuana law, allows patients to appoint caregivers to grow their marijuana for them, we believe the vast majority who voted for Prop. 215 did not mean for it to allow any local resident to start growing enormous quantities of marijuana for people in San Francisco. We also believe that anyone who takes even one thin dime in return, is nothing more than a drug dealer. We believe medical marijuana caregivers are intended to be construed as caregivers are in other health care arenas: people who have personal contact with a patient and who care for them in many ways, not just by growing marijuana for them at a distance of hundreds of miles and then selling it to cooperatives. The law does not cite medical marijuana patients and their appointed "growers." It cites caregivers. That is something very different which has been twisted out of all proportion by people who are making big bucks using our neighborhoods to grow pot under false pretenses.

We think it may be time for a new statewide ballot measure to amend Prop. 215 to specify exactly - and limit - what a caregiver is, how many plants can be grown by one person, and provide for local governments to regulate medical marijuana as they see fit as long as patients have access to marijuana - which we believe can be provided through local government growing programs in places like county jail gardens.

It's time to bring Prop. 215 back to the compassionate law it was intended to be, not the drug dealer's haven it is now.



The policies of prohibition once again brings a bumper harvest of opium from Afghanistan, news this week confirms. NATO has allocated some $475 million for "counternarcotics" there, but the allies can't decide how best to spend it. Gung-ho Washington prohibitionists are trembling with excitement at the prospect of using additional "coercive" tactics spending the loot. "[Opium farmers] need to be dealt with in a more severe way... There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from," proclaimed Tom Schweich, the State Department's top counternarcotics official. Others, including even the U.S. ONDCP, ironically, say use of more force "will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists."

Just like Vietnam was back in the 1960s, modern Afghanistan is becoming a heroin bazaar for U.S. troops, according to an investigative report by Shaun McCanna in this week's Salon magazine. Detailing the ease which U.S. troops can score heroin near the big U.S. base at Bagram, McCanna looks at heroin addiction in the ranks. What can troops expect if they're caught using heroin? "They don't do anything to you... Two from my unit were sent home after they got caught more than once... They're still in the unit. Just got sent home."

Canada's Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for well over a year now, has dramatically increased the number of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Now we are informed by the RCMP, that, lo and behold, more heroin from Afghanistan now "makes its way" back to Canada. "It's clear: there is a disaster there. Nobody can say that it's working. It's not working," said Thomas Pietschmann, researcher and author of the UN drug report warning of a flood of Afghan heroin headed for Canada.

And we leave you this week with a plea from professor of European political economy Willem Buiter, which appeared in the Financial Times this week. "As an economist with a strong commitment to personal liberty and responsibility, my preference would be to see all illegal drugs legalised... Following legalisation, the production and sale of these drugs should be regulated to ensure quality and purity. They should also be taxed, as are tobacco products and alcoholic beverages... The principle-based argument for legalisation is that behaviour that harms others ought to be criminalised, not behaviour that hurts only the person engaged in it." Hard to put it any better than that.


Pubdate: Sun, 05 Aug 2007
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world's near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.

As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.

U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world's crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.


The program represents a 13 percent increase over the $420 million in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Afghanistan last year. It would adopt a bold new approach to "coercive eradication" and set out criteria for local officials to receive development assistance based on their cooperation, the officials said.


"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."


Schweich, an advocate of the now-stalled plan, has argued for more vigorous eradication efforts, particularly in southern Helmand province, responsible for some 80 percent of Afghanistan's poppy production. It is where, he says, growers must be punished for ignoring good-faith appeals to switch to alternative, but less lucrative, crops.

"They need to be dealt with in a more severe way," he said at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from."

But, in fact, many question whether this is the right approach with Afghanistan mired in poverty and in the throes of an insurgency run by the Taliban and residual al-Qaida forces.

Along with Britain, whose troops patrol Helmand, elements in the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Defense Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have expressed concern, saying that more raids will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists.

There is also skepticism about the incentives in the new strategy from those who believe development assistance should not be denied to local communities because of poppy growth, officials said.




Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2007
Source: Salon (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Salon
Author: Shaun McCanna

Simultaneously Stressed and Bored, U.S. Soldiers Are Turning to the Widely Available Drug for a Quick Escape.


The true extent of the heroin problem among American soldiers now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is unknown.

At Bagram, according to a written statement provided by a spokesperson for the base, Army Maj. Chris Belcher, the "Military Police receive few reports of alcohol or drug issues." The military has statistics on how many troops failed drug tests, but the best information on long-term addiction comes from the U.S. Veterans Administration. The VA is the world's largest provider of substance abuse services, caring for more than 350,000 veterans per year, of whom about 30,000 are being treated for opiate addiction.


Experts think it could be a decade before the true scope of heroin use in Iraq and Afghanistan is known.

Dr. Jodie Trafton, a healthcare specialist with the VA's Center for Health Care Evaluation in Palo Alto, Calif., says it takes five or 10 years after a conflict for veterans to enter the system in significant numbers.

The VA has recently seen a surge in cases from the first U.S. war in Iraq. "We're just starting to get a lot of Gulf War veterans," she explains.

For the first few years after a conflict, it's hard to gauge the number of soldiers who've developed a substance problem.


The anecdotal information, however, suggests there may be a wave of new patients coming, and it will include many heroin users.


I asked to buy heroin a dozen times during two trips a year apart and never heard the word "no"; I also saw ample evidence that soldiers were trading sensitive military equipment, like computer drives and bulletproof vests, for drugs.

Other soldiers who have served at Bagram agree: Heroin, they say "is everywhere." And although they haven't shown up in the statistics yet, reports from methadone clinics suggest the VA's future patients may already be back in the States in force.

Much like the caskets that return to the Dover Air Force base in the dead of night, America's new addicts are returning undetected.

Back in the States, it is not difficult to find a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan with an addiction.


"They don't do anything to you [for using]," a reservist tells me. "Two from my unit were sent home after they got caught more than once." What happened to them? "Nothing. They're still in the unit. Just got sent home." Are they still using? "Don't know. I never asked."




Pubdate: Mon, 06 Aug 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Steve Rennie, Canadian Press

Counter-Narcotics Efforts Clearly Flawed, Says Report Researcher

The Mounties have warned at least two federal agencies that Afghan heroin is "increasingly" making its way to Canada and poses a direct threat to the public despite millions of dollars from Ottawa to fund the war-torn country' s counter-narcotics efforts, newly released documents reveal.

"The RCMP informs us that Afghan heroin is increasingly ending up on, or is destined for Canadian streets," say Foreign Affairs and Defence Department briefings, obtained separately by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The Afghan-produced heroin "directly threatens" Canadians, say the identically worded briefings.

Paul Nadeau, the director of the RCMP's drug branch in Ottawa, said about 60 per cent of the heroin on Canadian streets comes from Afghanistan.


Roughly 92 per cent of the world's heroin comes from opium poppies grown in Afghanistan, according to the 2007 World Drug Report, released in June by the United Nations Office on Drugs.


The Afghan counter-narcotics programs are co-ordinated by that country's national drug control strategy. But the drug control strategy is badly flawed, said Thomas Pietschmann, a researcher who authored the UN drug report.

"It's clear: there is a disaster there. Nobody can say that it's working. It's not working," Pietschmann said from his office in Vienna, Austria.


Pietschmann said it's "extremely logical" that there's more Afghan heroin on Canadian streets because of a spike in the central Asian nation's opium poppy production.




Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2007
Source: Financial Times (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2007
Author: Willem Buiter

The UK government is considering reclassifying cannabis from a class C drug to a class B drug, carrying higher penalties for using and dealing. As an economist with a strong commitment to personal liberty and responsibility, my preference would be to see all illegal drugs legalised. The only exception would be substances whose consumption leads to behaviour likely to cause material harm to others.

Following legalisation, the production and sale of these drugs should be regulated to ensure quality and purity. They should also be taxed, as are tobacco products and alcoholic beverages. Greater resources should be devoted to educating the public, especially children and teenagers, about the health hazards associated with the drugs; more money should be spent on the rehabilitation of addicts.


The principle-based argument for legalisation is that behaviour that harms others ought to be criminalised, not behaviour that hurts only the person engaged in it. It is not the government's job to protect adults of sound mind from the predictable consequences of their actions.


Parents should be paternalistic, but when it comes to mentally competent grown-ups the state should not be. It is not the responsibility of the state to ensure our "happiness" - whatever that is. That is the road to a Brave New World.


The United Nations estimates that opium production in Afghanistan grew to more than 6,000 metric tonnes last year with a value exceeding $3bn. It is the origin of more than 90 per cent of the world's illegally consumed opiates.

A significant portion of the profits flows to the Taliban, who act as middlemen in the opium business. They combine extortion and threats of violence towards the poppy farmers with the sale of protection to these same farmers against those who would destroy their livelihood, mainly the Nato allies and the Afghan central government.

Following legalisation, the allies in Afghanistan could further undermine the financial strength of the Taliban and al-Qaeda by buying up the entire poppy harvest. If a sufficient premium over the prevailing market price were offered, the Taliban/al-Qaeda middle-man could be cut out altogether, and thus would lose his tax base. Winning the hearts and minds of poppy growers and coca growers is a lot easier when you are not seen as intent on destroying their livelihood.


So legalise, regulate, tax, educate and rehabilitate. Stop a losing war, get the government off our backs, beat the Taliban and deal a blow to al-Qaeda in the process. Not a bad deal!


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Congress protects America from privacy

By Jacob Sullum, August 8, 2007


Transform's latest publication is now available to download in PDF format. After the War on Drugs: Tools for the debate is a 76 page guide to making the case for drug policy reform.


By Daniel Lazare

How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they're not for "people like us" (in Woody Allen's marvelous phrase) but for the others, the troublemakers, the ones you can tell are guilty merely by the color of their skin, the shape of their nose or their social class?


By Bill Conroy, Aug 6th, 2007


What if Past Drug Use Barred You From Running for President?

By Bill Piper and Tony Newman, August 8, 2007


Tonight: 08/10/07 - Thomas Schweich, State Dept Counter-Narcotics official's "plan" for Afghanistan.


Last: 08/03/07 - Valerie Corral, director of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, plus Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project



Colleen McCool is a portrait artist, poet and peace activist who lives deep in the heart of Texas. She recently finished her two yearly awarded portraits dedicated to the freedom philosophy or the American dream.This work and many others can be viewed on her website:


Excellent documentary by Dean Jefferys about the Amazonian Shamans and their use of the sacred Ayahuasca vine to communicate with the Spirits of the Forest.

Includes footage of peaceful drug-prohibition protests, an interview with Terence Mckenna, criticism of the so called "war on drugs" (essentially a form of cultural genocide), the corruption within large oil companies and governments, many civil rights issues, etc.




Common Sense for Drug Policy has just printed up another 20,000 tabloids containing over 40 of their public service advertisements.


CSDP is are offering the tabloids free without charge to organizations willing to provide a few words about how they would put them to use. For more information contact CSDP at


The Marijuana Policy Project has one full-time job opening in Washington, D.C., as well as several contract positions around the country.



By Francis A. Podrebarac, M.D.

AP medical writer Maria Cheng erroneously reported in the The Desert Sun that cannabis use "may" increase the risk of psychosis ( Study: Pot may increase psychosis risk, stoking talk of drug's dangers," July 27).

This is reminiscent of previous misleading medical reports that cannabis "may" increase cancer risk. It is always important to look for the word "may" in conclusions drawn by biased researchers and journalists.

The truth is that there is no relevant increased risk of psychosis or cancer in cannabis use. Epidemiological studies consistently show no link between marijuana use and an increased risk of psychosis. Moreover, these large population studies show a significant decreased risk of cancer as well as tumor load in chronic marijuana users.

The fifth paragraph of Cheng's article contradicts the headline given to it by clearly stating, "The researchers said they couldn't prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis." So why go with a misleading headline?

On the other hand, there is a pronounced increased incidents of psychosis and liver cancer in people who drink alcohol and in people who chronically uses narcotics and/or over-the-counter pain medications.

Let's try to keep the facts straight.

Francis A. Podrebarac, M.D.

Pubdate: Tue, 31 Jul 2007
Author: Francis A. Podrebarac
Source: Desert Sun, The (Palm Springs, CA)


DrugSense recognizes Bruce Mirken of San Francisco for his four published letters during July, which brings his total published letters up to 174. Bruce is the Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project

You may read his published letters at:

Bruce has also published several OPEDs. You may read all his writings that we know of at:


In Search Of A Presidential Candidate Who Will "Just Say No"  ( Top )

By Jessica Peck Corry

Hillary or Obama? Mitt or Rudy? The candidates are spending millions to distinguish themselves from each other. Except on the Drug War, where they remain united in their silence about our country's continued flawed approach toward drug treatment and prohibition.

On every major presidential candidate's campaign Web site, you'll find their policy positions on diverse issues ranging from the war in Iraq to mortgage fraud. You will not find, however, a single reference to the Drug War by front-runners, including U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

These candidates are merely following a path of conformity that has historically served both parties well. The GOP remains silent in an effort to solidify its base with social conservatives and Democrats are quiet to deflect the perception that they are soft on crime.

While their continued silence doesn't hurt their electoral chances, voters deserve a candidate who can acknowledge our failed drug war for what it is-a multi-decade failure that costs us billions of dollars each year.

We simply cannot have an honest debate about America's social ills without first acknowledging our serious drug problems. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 22 million Americans suffer from drug or alcohol abuse. Department of Justice statistics demonstrate that 55 percent of all federal prison inmates are there because of drugs.

And too often, it's our own government that serves as the source of our problems. Want drugs? Find your nearest agent from Drug Enforcement Agency and you may just learn how to whip up a nice batch of the illegal stuff.

At a DEA-hosted event earlier this summer in Denver, invited residents were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at just how the federal government fights drugs. As part of the day, agents taught participants how to make methamphetamine. One can only hope that participants were screened for past or present drug addiction.

Agents defended this flawed public relations effort, saying that meth recipes can be found easily on the Internet. I looked, and sure enough, more than 44,000 sites popped up. An important question remains, however: How do you and I benefit from the government giving meth cooking classes?

The answer: We don't. History has proven the government wrong time and again in its hands-on anti-drug efforts. When the government says, "Just Say No," the public response is all too often to just say "yes." As a child during Nancy Reagan's anti-drug campaign of the 1980's, I lived this reality.

I first learned about alcohol, marijuana, hallucinogens, and cigarettes from law enforcement officials when whey came to my school representing D.A.R.E.-an acronym standing for "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" pledging "To Keep Our Kids Off Drugs."

In seventh grade, my classmates and I giggled as we learned that it took three times as much beer than hard alcohol to get drunk. Wine was somewhere in the middle. Too much of any of it and you might start spinning in circles. Also, if you put special stickers called LSD on your tongue, you could start to see all kinds of strange things.

The program was little more than an advertisement for bad behavior. Students joked as they signed their sobriety pledges. Students are still having the last laugh today. According to D.A.R.E.'s Web page, more than 75 percent of the nation's school districts still participate in the program. Meanwhile, according to government reports, more than 6,000 Americans try marijuana for the first time every day.

By the time I made it to ninth grade in a new suburban junior high, local law enforcement sat us down for a more serious anti-drug speech. I sat in shocked awe as I held the marijuana pipe and bong the officer had passed around. What would my parents think? This was the first time I'd ever seen illegal drug paraphernalia. For the officer, however, the demonstration ended abruptly when one of the students secretly made off with the pipe. So much for keeping kids off drugs.

From a fiscal perspective, the government simply cannot justify spending money on teaching people how to most effectively make or use illegal drugs. The federal government continues to drive us into debt with its irresponsible spending and our leaders at the state and local level have made a full time job out of convincing us they need more of our hard-earned money.

In Denver alone, taxpayers have approved 13 new tax increases in just the last four years totaling more than $280 million. One such increase was for a new prison-sold to voters based on the idea that more space was needed to house our exploding drug-using inmate population.

According to a report compiled by the non-partisan Colorado Legislative Council, the number of Colorado residents sent to prison because of drug-related offenses has skyrocketed nearly 500 percent in the last decade. Likewise, a recent study by the National Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse found that Colorado has the lowest per capita spending on substance abuse prevention, treatment, and research out of 46 reporting states. While we don't have the money to treat drug addiction, we do have the money to send users to prison. Meanwhile, if you listen to the DEA, we definitely have the cash to teach presumed non-users how to mix their own illegal drug cocktails.

It's time for a presidential candidate who will have the courage to "Just Say No" to our failed Drug War. Stop wasting our tax dollars. At minimum, and as a mother, I respectfully request that the government refrain from putting a bong in the hands of my children.

Jessica Peck Corry's weekly blogs are part of a new feature on NewWest.Net/Politics ( ) called "Diary of a Mad Voter," a group blog where this piece first appeared on Aug. 9.


"If government were a product, selling it would be illegal." - P.J. O'Rourke

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