This Just In
(1)Full Pardon Begins To Ease Man's Pain
(2)Mexican Drug Cartels Move North
(3)ATMs Become Handy Tool For Laundering Dirty Cash
(4)Former Officer's Message Riles Some

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Millions suffer needless pain because the laws and those who enforce them get between doctors and patients. Rarely some small belated justice points out how serious the issue is. Few newspapers have given coverage to the GAO report

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal we find out that drug cartels find ways to conduct business despite any laws. Finally, almost every day Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speakers confront the traditional arguments supporting the war on drugs.


Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2007 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer

Governor and Cabinet Rule a Pain Patient Shouldn't Be in Prison.

TALLAHASSEE -- Richard Paey wanted to be a lawyer and then a cop, but the searing pain in his legs robbed him of that. He settled for being a son, husband and father.

Then the state said he was a drug trafficker. After a decade he was convicted on the third try and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But the drugs were for Paey's own chronic pain, the result of a car crash, back surgery and multiple sclerosis.

Appeal after appeal fell through. He found sympathy, in the courts of law and public opinion, but not relief.

Now, after more than three years in prison, Paey can call himself something else:

A free man.

Paey, 48, was granted a full pardon Thursday by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet in Tallahassee.

"We aim to right a wrong," Crist said. "And to do it with grace."

Paey never dared dream of a full pardon. All he asked the clemency board to do was commute his sentence to time served.

Then the governor stunned Paey's wife, Linda, and their three teenage children:

"I state he should be released today," Crist said.

Applause broke out in the Cabinet meeting room. The Paey family and lawyer John Flannery II hugged. It was 9:40 a.m.

Nine hours later, Richard Paey came home to Hudson.

"In the immortal words of Dorothy," he said, pausing to kiss his wife, "there's no place like home."

The reasons why Paey, who was convicted in 2004, ended up in prison are still disputed.




Pubdate: Thu, 20 Sep 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post Foreign Service

U.S. Effort to Battle Groups Is Flawed, GAO Report Says

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican drug cartels now operate in almost every region of the United States and bring in as much as $23 billion a year in revenue, according to a Government Accountability Office report that will be released Thursday.

U.S. assistance has helped Mexico combat cartels, the report says, but those efforts have been hampered by Mexican government corruption and by the failure of key players in the United States, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to coordinate better with Mexican law enforcement. The White House drug policy office, the report says, has prepared a counter-narcotics plan but has not discussed portions of the initiative that require Mexican cooperation with authorities in Mexico.

"The Office of National Drug Control Policy has to stop dropping the ball and doing sloppy work," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who requested the report, said in an e-mail Wednesday. "They had plenty of time to forge a working relationship with the Mexican government, but it appears that nothing has been accomplished."

The agency, Grassley added, "needs to realize that we're in this fight together, and it's foolish to think we can implement an effective plan to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico on our own."

Patrick Ward, assistant deputy director of the White House drug office, said in an interview Wednesday that his office has had extensive contact with Mexican authorities about counter-narcotics plans since the GAO conducted its probe.

"Our cooperation with the Mexican government, especially in the last eight to 10 months since President [Felipe] Calderon took office, has been absolutely phenomenal," Ward said.

The report, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the starkest evidence yet of Mexico's emergence as the main conduit of illegal drugs into the United States. The share of cocaine arriving in the United States through Mexico, for instance, leapt from 66 percent in 2000 to 90 percent in 2005. Other transshipment points include Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Central America.

Combined, Mexican drug cartels generate more revenue than at least 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and the U.S. government's highest estimate of cartel revenue tops that of Merck, Deere and Halliburton.




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Mark Schoofs

With Small Deposits, Couriers Outwit Banks; Bag of Money in Queens

At 8:50 a.m. on March 15, 2006, Luis Saavedra and Carlos Roca began going from bank to bank in Queens, New York, depositing cash into accounts held by a network of other people, according to law-enforcement officials. Their deposits never exceeded $2,000. Most ranged from $500 to $1,500.

Around lunchtime, they crossed into Manhattan and worked their way up Third Avenue, then visited two banks on Madison Avenue. By 2:52 p.m., they had placed more than $111,000 into 112 accounts, say the officials, who reconstructed their movements from seized deposit slips.

Confederates in Colombia used ATM cards to withdraw the money in pesos, moving quickly from machine to machine in a withdrawal whirlwind, the officials say. "The organization at its height was moving about $2 million a month," estimates Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City.

Messrs. Saavedra and Roca were arrested in June and charged under state money-laundering laws. Officials say they were moving money for a Colombian drug-trafficking organization that sells cocaine and the club-drug Ecstasy. Prosecutors say the two men engaged in a laundering practice called "microstructuring," a scheme notable for its simplicity. To evade suspicion by banks, they always made small deposits. In Colombia, getting at that money was as easy as pushing buttons on an ATM.

Microstructuring has emerged as a vexing challenge for law-enforcement officials charged with stanching the illegal movement of money by drug traffickers, terrorists and organized-crime rings. The deposits and withdrawals are so small they can pass for ordinary ATM transactions. It's an extreme variation of a practice sometimes called "smurfing" -- the breaking down of large transactions into many smaller ones to evade detection by financial regulators. That activity was criminalized by Congress in 1986.


The International Monetary Fund has estimated that between 2% and 5% of the world's gross domestic product -- between $962 billion and $2.4 trillion based on 2006 GDP data from the IMF -- is laundered world-wide every year. Experts say much of it flows through the U.S. financial system. Law enforcement has been hard pressed to keep up with money-laundering schemes, which criminals use to make proceeds from illegal activities appear legitimate. Authorities rely heavily on banks, which are required to report all cash transactions larger than $10,000 and to institute "know your customer" procedures to ferret out money laundering and other suspicious activity.

Drug dealers, in particular, have lots of cash they want to slip surreptitiously into the banking system. Colombian traffickers want much of their money in Colombian pesos, so the cash they collect in the U.S. and Europe has to be converted. Many money-laundering schemes are complex, employing layers of transactions to move money through multiple countries to obscure the trail.




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Post-Star, The ( NY)
Copyright: 2007 Glens Falls Newspapers Inc.
Author: Nick Reisman, Staff Writer

Retired Drug Officer Says Legalization Is Best Choice For U.S.

GLENS FALLS -- Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan and a retired police captain got into a heated exchange Thursday over whether the United States should legalize drugs like heroin and marijuana.

"These laws create crime and violence in our society that we wouldn't have without prohibition (of drugs)," Peter Christ, a former narcotics officer from western New York, told the Rotary Club of Glens Falls at the Queensbury Hotel.

Christ (rhymes with "wrist") is the founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a Massachusetts-based group that includes judges and police officers.

In his speech, he drew a parallel with current drug policy and the national ban on alcohol that lasted from 1920 to 1933. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed production and distribution of alcohol but was later repealed by the 21st Amendment. During that time, gangsters like Al Capone capitalized on the law by bootlegging.

"We are in another period of prohibition today," said Christ, 61. "There's gang violence on the streets. Children are seduced by mobsters. Nothing has changed."

He added that the government should regulate hard drugs like it does the lottery and tobacco.





American taxpayers, hold on to your wallets: More startlingly large government contracts are being prepared to develop plans for battling "narcoterrorism." Last week, this space noted a story out of Maryland which lauded the big money suddenly available to an area contractor for a high-tech attack on prohibited drugs. This week, a new story out of the Washington Post shows that a select handful of firms from around the country are set to split up about $15 billion over five years. And we sometimes wonder why the drug war goes on. At least some politicians have recognized the dead end of the drug war, as demonstrated by a story about a city councilman who has seen the light in Baltimore.

The Hawaiian public education system seems to be poised on the brink of no-holds-barred drug crackdown. The State Board of Education is pushing to widely broaden the opportunities for the searching of student lockers, even without cause. And, as teachers in the state prepare to be pulled out of class for random drug tests, the ACLU is looking for educators who want to stand up against the new policy.


Pubdate: Mon, 17 Sep 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Michael Hardy, Special to the Washington Post

The Defense Department has picked five companies, four of them from the Washington area, for a contract to support the Pentagon's counter-narcoterrorism activities. The government may spend as much as $15 billion through the five-year contract.

The local companies are Arinc of Annapolis, Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Raytheon Technical Services of Reston and Northrop Grumman Information Technology of McLean. The fifth company is Blackwater USA of Moyock, N.C.

The companies will provide equipment, material and services to the Defense Department's Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office ( CNTPO ). The office's mission is to attack the narcotics trade and the flow of money and support from drug traffickers to terrorist groups.

Drug trafficking provides money for terror organizations in various ways. According to a 2002 report that the Library of Congress's Federal Research Division prepared for the Defense Department, the drug trade funds guerrilla groups in Latin America and Islamic fundamentalist organizations -- including Al Qaeda -- around the world. The funding comes directly, from proceeds of drug sales, and indirectly, through use of drugs to bartering for weapons or other supplies.

The contract is broad in scope and could involve several divisions of the winning companies, said Kerry Beresford, senior director of advance aviation applications at Arinc. That unit, based in Oklahoma City, is likely to handle many task orders that come through the contract, but other Arinc divisions specializing in intelligence gathering and other disciplines would be better suited for other demands, he said.




Pubdate: Fri, 14 Sep 2007
Source: Baltimore Examiner (MD)
Copyright: 2007 Baltimore Examiner
Author: Stephen Janis, The Examiner

Baltimore City Councilman Jack Young is taking his war against the "war on drugs" one step farther.

On Monday, Young said he will introduce a resolution seeking a hearing - -- with testimony from the Baltimore Police Department and the city Health Department -- to open a dialogue on what he said is a failed strategy against illegal drugs.

"Like I've said before -- what we've done is not working," he said.

"We need to have a dialogue about taking the profit motive out of drug dealing and ending the so-called war on drugs."

In August, Young floated the idea of decriminalizing drugs at a City Council meeting, but has now decided to formalize his proposal after receiving a commitment to testify at the hearing from an organization called Law Enforcement Officers Against prohibition.




Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2007
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2007 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Loren Moreno

State Board of Education officials expect to encounter vocal opposition next month when they take up a proposal to allow locker searches and the use of drug-sniffing dogs on school campuses statewide.

But even as the American Civil Liberties Union, legal experts, some principals and students express concern over the proposed revisions to the schools' disciplinary code, board members say they expect the proposal will pass when taken up by the full board at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting.

At the request of the state attorney general's office, the board is considering searches "with or without cause" and the use of drug detection canines on public school campuses, said board member Mary Cochran, whose committee on Monday gave preliminary approval to the Chapter 19 disciplinary code changes.

Previously, the panel backed away from "without cause" searches. But following an executive session discussion with the attorney general's office, the committee decided in a majority vote to reinstate the language.

Four members of the 11-member panel voted against the change.

"While I don't necessarily have a problem with the dogs being on campus, when you say we can search a locker without cause, I just have some concern about that phrase and what it could imply," said Karen Knudsen, chairwoman of the state BOE.




Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2007
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2007 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans a legal challenge to a new contract that allows random drug testing of Hawai'i public school employees and is actively seeking people who want to be part of the lawsuit, the group announced yesterday.

ACLU leaders will begin touring the state later this month to meet with unionized public school employees who are subject to the tests under the terms of their new collective bargaining agreement.

The group is looking for teachers and others who want to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit that will challenge the testing program, said Lois Perrin, legal director of the ACLU of Hawai'i.

"Our education system is failing students by resorting to dragnet searches that do little to protect anyone while violating the rights of everyone," Perrin said.

The Hawai'i State Teachers Association and the state earlier this year agreed to a contract that would allow random drug testing of teachers, librarians and administrative workers in the public school system.

Union members narrowly approved the contract with the state. The policy is the first of its kind in the nation, the ACLU said.




In Wisconsin, police were shocked by a judge's ruling that they actually have to get a warrant in order for a informant wearing a wire during an alleged drug deal. The legislature has tried to make it easier for police, but they are still complaining about being handcuffed. More corruption this week, but with a couple of twists. In Florida, a school resource officer allegedly planned to rip off drug dealers, while in Virginia, a sheriff is sentenced to eight months over corruption charges, though some supporters say he was framed by an informant.

No more bake sales to save a drug task force in Texas, the task force has officially died from a lack of funding, like others in the state. And in Ohio, one woman was released from prison and many other cases are now in question worked by a federal agent involved in the case.


Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2007
Source: State Journal, The (WV)
Copyright: 2007 The State Journal
Author: J. Turchetta

Agencies Must Not Obtain A Warrant Before Putting A Wire On An Informant.

BUCKHANNON -- The State Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that law enforcement agencies would have to obtain a warrant before placing a wire on informants.

After a recent special legislative session, Governor Joe Manchin signed a bill that eased some of those restrictions but it is still keeping many departments hand-cuffed when it comes to surveillance.

When the court made its ruling, it said that if you wanted to place a wire on an informant and send him into a suspect's home, you first had to get a warrant to do so. But only five circuit court judges in the state were authorized to grant those warrants.

The bill signed by the Governor allows any circuit judge or magistrate to sign those warrants. But many departments, including the Upshur County Sheriff's Department, said it still is a major road block.

If a department has a tip that a drug deal is going down, they would first have to get their warrant approved before allowing their informant to enter into a buy.




Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2007
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2007 News-Journal Corporation
Author: Patricio G. Balona, Staff Writer

DELAND -- The plan was to make a traffic stop on the outskirts of Daytona Beach and with the help of an accomplice rob a street-level drug dealer of money.

But the Volusia County sheriff's deputy accused of plotting the robbery did not carry out his plan as agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested him Tuesday afternoon.

Eugene Walton, a school resource deputy at Campbell Middle School in Daytona Beach, was charged with one count of unlawful compensation and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, said Susie Murphy, FDLE spokeswoman.




Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2007
Source: Martinsville Bulletin (VA)
Copyright: 2007 Martinsville Bulletin
Author: Amanda Buck, Bulletin, Staff Writer

ROANOKE -- About a dozen family members and at least 40 friends, neighbors and church members packed into a crowded courtroom here Tuesday to show their support for former Henry County sheriff H. Frank Cassell.

After U.S. District Judge James C. Turk sentenced Cassell to eight months in prison and a $15,000 fine for making a false statement to a federal agent, supporters crowded around him and his wife Margaret, offering hugs and handshakes. Outside the courtroom, several wiped away tears as they discussed the judge's decision.

Olaf Hurd of Ridgeway, who has known Cassell since the 1960s, said the sentence, which fell within the government's guidelines, would have been more lenient if Turk knew the Cassell he knows.

"The judge didn't know Frank," Hurd said. "His men let him down. The only thing he's guilty of is being too good to his men."

It was a statement that echoed what Cassell's attorney, John Lichtenstein, said in court. He depicted Cassell, 69, as a compassionate man who was all but trapped by James Vaught, a former deputy who came to him for help. Vaught, who was working as a government informant, persuaded Cassell to help him secure a loan so Vaught could launder thousands of dollars in what he said was drug money, Lichtenstein said.

Cassell later lied to an FBI agent when he denied knowing how Vaught got the money.

Although what Cassell did was wrong, he did it not for personal gain but because he wanted to help a man who had fallen on hard times, Lichtenstein argued.




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2007
Source: Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX)
Copyright: 2007 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Jessica Langdon, Times Record News

Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker went into the budget process for 2007-08 knowing that part of the undertaking would have to include salaries to fold six employees into the Wichita Falls Police Department.

Those six had been part of the North Texas Regional Drug Enforcement Task Force, which appears set to shut down at the end of September as the interagency agreement funding it ends.

The reality started to sink in several months ago as the Texas Legislature wrapped up its session without bolstering the task force, Leiker said. The city and surrounding areas had hoped some dollars would come through.

The task force has been operating for the past year and a half on funds scraped together through forfeitures and contributions from the entities that use the task force's services.

That's been putting a Band-Aid on the situation for a while to keep it going, and the goal was to work with the state toward new funding, Leiker said.




Pubdate: Tue, 11 Sep 2007
Source: Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Copyright: 2007 The Plain Dealer
Author: John Caniglia

Federal prosecutors on Monday dismissed their charges against a woman who served 16 months in prison after being snared in a botched drug investigation.

Prosecutors said the allegations against Geneva France, a Mansfield mother of three, would have been impossible to prove and cited an informant who recanted his testimony against her.

It marks the first time prosecutors tossed out a conviction in the case that snagged 26 people and accused them of peddling cocaine and marijuana in Mansfield. Twenty people were convicted, and four were acquitted. One had charges dropped after spending months in jail.

France's case is a focus of a Justice Department task force that is examining the work of Lee Lucas, the federal drug agent who handled the case, and Lucas' informant, Jerrell Bray. The unit will meet with more attorneys and witnesses in Cleveland this week.

Defense attorneys said the task force, headed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Teitelbaum from Pittsburgh, also is looking at other cases that Lucas worked.




Two veterans of the cannabis community were among those detained at the annual Boston Freedom Rally. As Keith Stroup, attorney and founder of NORML explained, "We forgot that it is still illegal; that's my defense and I'm sticking with it!"

Speaking of memory loss, DSW readers may recall former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales anointing Marc Emery "the number one drug trafficking kingpin in Canada, one of the 51 top kingpins in the world." Now Canada's "Prince of Pot" can add "Cowboy of Cannabis" to his list of titles, or should it be "Good Guy of Ganja?"

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the "Journey for Justice," a 210-mile wheel-chair trip across Wisconsin to the state capital, organized by IMMLY, or "Is My Medicine Legal Yet?" Ten years later, the sad answer is still "no," but Jacki Rickert won't take "no" for an answer.

The Independent on Sunday has been seduced by the dark side since they eloquently editorialized in favour of cannabis law reform a few years ago, now putting one of the many costs of prohibition on the wrong side of the ledger, in addition to citing potential health risks as cause to keep the British market unregulated.


Pubdate: Sun, 16 Sep 2007
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Boston Herald, Inc
Author: O'Ryan Johnson
Cited: Boston Freedom Rally

Two of the nation's leading advocates for legalized marijuana were arrested on Boston Common yesterday for lighting up a joint during the Boston Freedom Rally, a pro-hemp event that promotes decriminalizing the drug.

R. Keith Stroup, 63, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Rick Cusick, 53, an editor at High Times magazine, were charged with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. "We were smoking a joint behind the booth here," Stroup said. "I'm sure the police would rather be chasing real criminals. We're both productive, hard-working taxpayers."

High Times and NORML are co-sponsors of the annual rally that celebrates pot culture and traditionally results in dozens of arrests of addle-brained youths who mistakenly believe it is legal to toke up for just that day.

"A lot of them said they thought it was an amnesty," said one of the cops at the makeshift booking area where plainclothes police led the shame-faced youths who were caught smoking reefer. The 60-plus arrested found it was not only not legal for that day but would cost them a day in court.


Stroup, who was arrested once before 24 years ago, said he and Cusick were relaxing and smoking a joint in the park, an activity he said was no harm to anyone.

Both men said police treated them well and professionally during the booking process.

"I've been waiting 33 years to get arrested," said Cusick, chuckling. "When it happened I was calm, like a monk. I told them I'd call my lawyer, but he got arrested with me."



Pubdate: Sun, 16 Sep 2007
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Calgary Herald
Author: Paula Beauchamp and Colette Derworitz

Canada's "Prince of Pot" has joined the ranks of Dolly Parton, Prince Philip and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean.

Arriving at the Calgary airport for a two-day visit Saturday, Canada's best-known marijuana activist, Marc Emery, was white-hatted by the Calgary airport's official White Hat Volunteers.

"I'm the Prince of Pot," he said.

"That's a royalty, a monarchy of sorts, so I guess it fits."

Saturday's warm welcome, arranged by Emery's supporters, comes in stark contrast to his visit to Calgary in 2003 when Emery was arrested for marijuana possession.

Emery is in Calgary to show his support for medical marijuana crusader Grant Krieger, and to raise both awareness of his extradition proceedings and money for looming court battles.

Emery has been arrested 22 times on marijuana-related offences, and jailed 17 times.

He now faces a U.S. extradition hearing on Nov. 5. for selling thousands of marijuana seeds to Americans through his Internet business.

Emery's business partners, Gregory Keith Williams and Michelle Rainey- Fenkarek, were also charged.


"He truly deserves that hat. He is a freedom fighter," Krieger said.


Lorn Sheehan, chairman of the board of directors of Calgary Tourism, said Calgary should show hospitality to a broad range of people.

"If you white-hat absolutely terrible people, it could devalue (the practice)," he said.

"But if this man is walking the streets, he can't be that terrible."



Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2007
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Badger Herald
Author: Cara Harshman
Cited: Is My Medicine Legal Yet?

Is your medicine legal?

Jacki Rickert's isn't. The Wisconsin mother suffers from several incurable medical conditions and says the only effective treatment is marijuana.

Rickert joined two state legislators and other medical marijuana supporters Tuesday for a press conference to announce the introduction of new medical marijuana legislation.

Tuesday was a symbolic day for Rickert, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the "Journey-for-Justice," a 210-mile trek across the state Rickert and an entourage of medical marijuana supporters made in their wheelchairs that ended at the Capitol.

In honor of Rickert, Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, named the new legislation the "Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act".

"I'm real proud that for the first time we are giving the bill a real name," Boyle said. "This bill will forever be known as the Jacki Rickert Bill."


"Please, we have to make this legal," Rickert said. "I beg all of you."




Pubdate: Sun, 16 Sep 2007
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers Ltd.

When The Independent on Sunday campaigned for the decriminalisation of cannabis, we reflected the common view among informed opinion that the drug was less dangerous than either tobacco or alcohol. So widespread did that view become that our editorial line was followed within a few years by The Daily Telegraph. No wonder people were confused.

Now that confusion, which was perhaps inevitable as changes in public opinion, government policy and scientific research interacted, has become a real problem.

The Government responded slowly to the liberalisation of attitudes, in which our campaign played a part. In 2001 David Blunkett, then Home Secretary, asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs whether cannabis should be downgraded from class B to the least serious category of illegal drugs, class C. The council said it should, although the change did not take place until January 2004. The delay in implementing the change meant that for some time the formal legal position was out of line with police practice.


Meanwhile, the evidence of a link between cannabis and psychosis among a minority of users was growing stronger. That meant that no sooner had cannabis been downgraded in the eyes of the law than most credible authorities began to warn it was considerably more dangerous than previously thought. That evidence led this newspaper, in March, to renounce its campaign to decriminalise cannabis. We felt the evidence forced us to choose between our campaigns for better understanding of mental health issues and our liberal instinct.


Today, we report a further complication. One of the arguments for reclassifying cannabis as less serious was that users did not tend to steal to pay for their habit. But disturbing new research suggests otherwise. Our own investigations suggest cannabis use is high and rising among young offenders, and an academic study in Sheffield suggests one in four young offenders has stolen to pay for cannabis.


In July, Jacqui Smith, the new Home Secretary, began the third big review of government policy towards illegal drugs in recent years. Let us hope she achieves the clarity, the effective policing and the priority for treatment that eluded her predecessors.



An Australian House inquest into "illicit drug use" turned into a field day for demagogues after liberal MPs called for seizing the children of "drug-using parents" (including cannabis users). The committee also recommended scrapping any "harm minimisation policy", replacing it with additional punishments. Labour MPs, shut out from the inquiry, complained of "outright hostility because their expert views did not accord with the personal beliefs or political aims of" the Liberal MPs leading the bandwagon. A rather lucid editorial appeared in the Canberra Times last week ("Punitive Response No Help On Drugs"), which cut through the rhetoric. Concluded the Times, the "demand for a rethink on drug rehabilitation is recognised for what it is - an unreasonably harsh and punitive approach that is more likely to drive drug-users underground."

Canadian Prime Minister Harper's right-wing government conducted a poll to see if their plans to do what authoritarian governments always do (expand police and prisons) was supported by the common people. The results of the government poll are in, and the poll results tell us (says the government), that the people want more government police and they don't really mind if the police commit crimes, if they are fighting drug "trafficking". Civil liberties experts "wondered if the Conservative government was preparing legislation giving police greater powers and was using the survey to create the need for new laws."

And from New Zealand this week, the MP who wanted to ban the drug dihydrogen monoxide. It isn't the first time a sitting New Zealand MP set their sights on the substance. True, dihydrogen monoxide can be abused. Some succumb to crystal dihydrogen monoxide's life-stopping power. Seeking thrills, children can and do lose their lives to a literal sea of dihydrogen monoxide. What can government do? When an Auckland resident demanded answers from Otago MP Jacqui Dean, she knew what to do: ban it. But what was to be the Triumph of Government instead turned out to be an embarrassment for the sitting MP, when it was revealed that the "drug" called "dihydrogen monoxide" was really just another name for water. Ms Dean had fallen for an old hoax: renaming water, while accurately describing its dangers.


Pubdate: Fri, 14 Sep 2007
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Advertiser Newspapers Ltd
Author: Laura Anderson

CHILDREN of drug-addicted parents should be adopted out if their parents can't "sort themselves out", a parliamentary committee has recommended.

Liberal MPs on a House of Representatives committee inquiry into illicit drug use have called for a hardline approach to drug policy, including dumping the Government's "harm minimisation policy".


Ms Bishop said the tough approach to child protection had resulted from stories of "appalling neglect and abuse" of children of drug-using parents. The committee recommends adoption be established as the "default" care option for children aged five and under, where child protection authorities had identified illicit drug use by the parents.


Labor MPs on the committee, in a dissenting report, raised concerns about how the inquiry had been conducted.

Some witnesses had experienced "outright hostility because their expert views did not accord with the personal beliefs or political aims of those questioning them", they said.



Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2007
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Canberra Times

Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop is well known for her conservative social views and the forthright manner in which she expresses them. In August 2005, she called for a ban on Muslim headscarves in public schools, and last year she told a federal Young Liberal convention that burning or violating the Australian flag should be made a federal offence.

She is also well-known as a strident anti-drugs campaigner.


Among the most controversial of the recommendations is that the infant children of illicit drug-users be put up for adoption, that Centrelink direct drug-using parents to spend their welfare payments only on food and essentials, and that what are disparagingly called "drug industry elites" that is, treatment services, counsellors and research organisations should only receive taxpayer funding if they abandon the philosophy of harm minimisation in favour of zero tolerance.


During its deliberations, the House of Representatives committee heard similarly harrowing stories of the accidental death and ill-treatment of children whose parents were drug-users, and while forcing parents to give up custody of their children might seem like a justifiable response to such neglect, there are many people who fear that implementing such a regime will only discourage parents from seeking treatment.

Many experts who made submissions or were called before the committee are unhappy with its methods and findings.


It is to be hoped that Bishop's demand for a rethink on drug rehabilitation is recognised for what it is an unreasonably harsh and punitive approach that is more likely to drive drug-users underground than to Naltrexone clinics and that the minister for Families and Community Services, Mal Brough, gives it the response it deserves.



Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Jack Aubry, CanWest News Service

Civil Libertarian Wonders If Ottawa Is Using The Survey To Justify Its Plans

OTTAWA -- Canadians want a crackdown on organized crime and overwhelmingly support police officers breaking the law to infiltrate gangs, a new federal government poll indicates.

The national survey, conducted for the Department of Public Safety, also reveals that a majority of Canadians believe organized crime is "as serious" a threat to Canada as terrorism, with seven of 10 wanting improvements in the federal government's current level of effort to combat it.

A remarkable 48 per cent of Canadians responded that organized crime had an impact on them personally and identified drug trafficking as the crime with the highest level of correlation to the criminal activity. And more than half (54 per cent) agree that members of motorcycle gangs should be prosecuted based on participation alone, regardless of whether they have committed a crime.


But Alan Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, wondered if the Conservative government was preparing legislation giving police greater powers and was using the survey to create the need for new laws. He warned that the issue is not as black and white as presented by the survey, and that police already have sweeping powers to battle crime.


"In the past, they've argued for these powers at a time when you were reading in the newspapers about police conducting busts here and busts there, and busting up that ring and this ring, and you start to wonder, if they are doing so well with all these powers, where is the argument for anything new?" said Borovoy.

"So they may want to legislate and they have a survey now that demands that they legislate. This is a marvellous way to run a country."



 (21) MP TRIES TO BAN WATER  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 16 Sep 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald

Otago MP Jacqui Dean felt like a bit of a "wally" yesterday, after it was revealed she tried to ban North Otago's most precious commodity - water.

Mrs Dean has confirmed she was caught in a hoax by an online blogger asking for her help in banning dihydrogen monoxide - which, it turns out, is the chemical name for ordinary H20.


A letter, signed by Mrs Dean, was sent to Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton last month, asking if the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs had a view on banning the "drug".

A blogger, Michael Earley, of Auckland, published the original letter to Mrs Dean yesterday.

On Tuesday's first reading of the Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill, Mr Anderton took the opportunity to rub Mrs Dean's nose in it.

Mrs Dean responded with a note across the house that said "touchi - you got me".


Mr Anderton said he would not be banning dihydrogen monoxide or asking for the experts to consider it.

He responded saying: "Thank you for your letter of 23 August, 2007 about your constituent call for the ban on dihydrogen monoxide, (but) dihydrogen monoxide is water," he said.


It is not the first time MPs have had a brush with the hoax.

In 2001, a staff member in Green MP Sue Kedgley's office responded to a request for support saying she would be "absolutely supportive of the campaign to ban this toxic substance".



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society

This report, recently released by The Sentencing Project, documents how the drug war has produced a record expansion of prison and jail systems and highlights additional indicators of the war's impact on the criminal justice system and communities.


Effects of Ayahuasca on Psychometric Measures of Anxiety, Panic-like and Hopelessness in Santo Daime Members

A study recently published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology has demonstrated that the South American psychedelic plant brew ayahuasca can alleviate signs of anxiety, panic, and hopelessness.


Washington, D.C. - A letter signed by 45 members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be delivered today to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) demanding an end to the obstruction of scientific research aimed at developing marijuana as a legal prescription medicine.


Last: 09/14/07 - Dr. Stanton Peele author "Addiction-Proof Your Child" + Drug War Facts


I've been honest with them about everything, but I'm not sure about this.

By Cary Tennis


One of the chief cheerleaders for bringing BZP within the ineffectual clutches of criminal law is New Zealand National Party politician (and former Play School presenter) Jacqui Dean. New Zealand blogger Micheal Earley (and friends) thought they'd see how much Dean really knew about drugs by deploying the Di-hydrogen Monoxide hoax - seeing if he could get her to call for the prohibition on water on the basis that it was a dangerous drug.


The September 2007 MAPS news update is now available.



Cannabis, Creativity and Commerce

Los Angeles, California October 12-13, 2007


Sept. 20, 2007(CBS) The idea was a noble one: pass a law to make marijuana legal for cancer and AIDS sufferers whose pain and nausea the drug is known to relieve. But the law the Rev. Scott Imler thought would one day put the drug in pharmacies has instead created "pot dealers in storefronts" who sell to anyone with doctors' notes that are fairly easy to obtain.

60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer speaks to Imler and others for a report on medical marijuana, this Sunday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.



By John Robarge

I am writing in response to Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya's stance on the use of medicinal marijuana. I was severely injured in a car accident in 1995, and again in a job-related accident in 2005. As a consequence, I feel I was used as a guinea pig by various doctors and pharmaceutical companies for pain management primarily involving opiates in one form or another.

Anyone who has gone through a prolonged period involving the use of opiates for pain relief knows the results: mood swings, anger and depression, nausea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, addiction, etc.

While living in Oregon, a state that allows the use of medical marijuana, my doctor recommended that I try pot as a substitute for the Vicodin, Demerol, Loritab, codeine and other pain killers I'd been prescribed. It worked, not only as an analgesic for pain relief, but it helped considerably with the cramping and spasms I was subject to, without the annoying side effects of the pharmaceutical cures. It didn't cost me anything, as I was allowed to grow it.

Since the year 2000, there have been an estimated 2,000 alcohol-related deaths and an appalling 15,000 tobacco-related deaths in New Mexico alone. Both are drugs, both are legal, both are taxed, hence providing a profit to our government, which pays our politicians salaries. I could not find one marijuana-related death nationwide.

Please, Commissioner Montoya, let's send the proper message to our children. Tell the truth! And end the madness. The money spent on incarcerating people for the use of marijuana, either prescribed or otherwise, would be much better spent on rehabilitation and education about the much more dangerous -- and legal -- drugs that are out there.

John Robarge John Robarge lives in Santa Cruz, where he works as a carpenter.

Pubdate: Sat, 08 Sep 2007
Source: New Mexican, The (Santa Fe, NM)



DrugSense recognizes Stan White of Dillon, Colorado for his eight letters published during August, bringing his career total that we know of to 419. You may read Stan's published letters by clicking this link:


Political Elites Are Revolting On The Drug War  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

The title above can be read two ways, depending on the meaning assigned to the word "revolting." Up until recently, if I saw such a phrase, I would think of revolting in the sense of disgusting or repulsive.

Most politicians above the local level have supported the drug war without reservation for decades. There have been notable exceptions, like New Mexico's former governor Gary Johnson, but he only spoke out after he decided he wasn't going to run for office again.

However, there may be cause to interpret the word "revolting" differently, as in the sense of refusing to accept something. Earlier this week, Florida's Republican Governor Charlie Crist offered a complete and surprising pardon for pain victim Richard Paey, who had been imprisoned on a drug conviction for more than three years. Crist declined to criticize the whole drug war, but he did recognize that in this case it was pushed to absurd proportions.

To many it would appear to be common sense, but measured by drug war standards, this is a big step. Even extreme cases like this are routinely winked at by elected officials afraid of appearing soft on drugs.

Crist wasn't the only one to express some shock. Even former hard core drug warrior congressman, now the Florida's attorney general, Bill McCollum expressed his dismay.

Maybe if Crist and McCollum took a close look at other drug cases they might be even more disturbed. But, these guys are Republicans, they allowed themselves some justified apprehension over one drug war excess, and they used their power to correct it.

My hat is off to them.

As the season of U.S. presidential politics is already well underway, it's hard not to notice some other dissension from drug war orthodoxy. Outsiders in the race from both sides of the mainstream parties (Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich) have criticized multiple aspects of the drug war and have sponsored and/or signed on to legislation that challenges some drug war policies.

All of the Democratic candidates have now somewhat famously agreed if elected to stop federal raids on medical marijuana clinics in places where they are allowed by state law. Current New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is pushing to implement his state's medical marijuana program, even as he runs for president.

Sadly, there's still more prohibitionist rhetoric flowing in the campaign - John McCain has said the drug war should be stepped up, and I'm awaiting new anti-drug pronouncements by the law and order wing of the Republicans with a cringe.

But, politicians say lots of things while they are campaigning. Candidate George W. Bush said medical marijuana issues should be left to the states.

So listen to the talk with a grain of salt, but pay attention to the actions. The occasional good deed can slightly reduce the nausea inspired by typical drug war politics, while demonstrating the perceived need for ideological purity on drug issues may be going out of political fashion.

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly.


"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance." - Woodrow Wilson

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