This Just In
(1)Influx Of U.S. Inmates Slowing, Census Says
(2)Column: Ouch! The DEA's Bad-Faith War On Pain Doctors
(3)Marijuana Initiative Will Be On 08 Ballot
(4)OPED: Medical Marijuana A Decoy In Effort To Legalize All Drugs

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Even a Census Bureau analysis points to the war on some politically selected drugs as a cause for the United States to be the world's incarceration nation.

Many millions suffer needless pain because the Drug Enforcement Agency as a matter of policy looks over the shoulders of our doctors.

Perhaps we will see some belated justice as a judge firmly slaps Alameda County, California officials for their conspiracy to undermine the rights of the voters.

We are reminded that a goal of MAP is to call attention to the propaganda and spin presented by the opposition, which takes its 'facts' from the ONDCP right down to the use of the words 'smoked marijuana,' so that readers may submit their own letters to the editor and OPEDs in response.


Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: N. C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer

Number Incarcerated Still a Record High; Sentencing in '90s Cited As Factor

After two decades of massive growth, the U.S. prison population began to level off in the first six years of this century, according to 2006 census statistics released today.

At nearly 2.1 million, the number of adults in correctional institutions remains at an all-time high. Still, that figure represents a 4 percent rise since 2000 -- nowhere near the 77 percent spike in the prison population from 1990 to 2000.

The data, from the yearly American Community Survey, represent the Census Bureau's first in-depth look at people in prisons since the 1980 Census. Although the numbers vary, the census findings generally track with trends in twice-yearly statistics compiled by the Justice Department.

Many analysts point to crack cocaine in the 1980s as a catalyst for the subsequent boom in incarceration rates. Attracted by the drug's low price, dealers in impoverished urban neighborhoods began selling it in open-air markets, where they and their customers were targets for arrest. Thirst for the drug also fueled other crimes by addicts.

Perhaps the most significant factor, however, was the introduction of tough sentencing laws in the 1990s.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Phoenix, The (MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group
Author: Harvey Silverglate

Things haven't been going well as of late for Needham-based chronic-pain specialist Dr. Joseph Zolot. In May, state and federal officials seized his office records. One month later, the state Board of Registration for medicine revoked his license. Now that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and local police have launched a criminal investigation into whether he overprescribed narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin to patients, Zolot's troubles are about to multiply.

The notion that Zolot crossed the line that separates legitimate treatment from enabling destructive narcotic addictions -- that is, the line between ethical doctoring and a serious federal felony -- presumes that such a distinction has been made. In fact, federal drug-enforcement authorities have never given physicians much guidance as to what constitutes legal versus criminal prescribing conduct.

Yet the feds continue to prosecute a handful of pain specialists every year, sending well-meaning doctors into a panic that they, too, will be the victim of ill-defined laws. For Zolot, that threat is all too real, as his will likely be the next name on the docket.


In 2004, in a rare and long-overdue gesture of cooperation with health-care professionals, the DEA produced a pamphlet, also posted on its Web site, titled "Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals and Law Enforcement Personnel." The tract, co-written with the Pain & Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin, was a well-reasoned and thorough guide to prescribing controlled narcotics. June Dahl, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of pharmacology, even hailed the guidelines as "a great step toward reducing the barriers" to the treatment of severe pain.

"It's amazing how much confusion there still is," Dahl told the Associated Press in August 2004. "There is a reluctance to give adequate doses. It kind of seems unbelievable that there is a reluctance to treat people who are dying."

Two months later, though, the tract was removed from the DEA's Web site. Doctors expressed shock, while 30 state attorneys general signed a letter to the Justice Department protesting the puzzling move. "Adequate pain management is often difficult to obtain," wrote the attorneys general, "because many physicians fear investigations and enforcement actions if they prescribe adequate levels of opioids or have many patients with prescriptions for pain medication."




Pubdate: Fri, 28 Sep 2007
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Chris Metinko, Staff Writer

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has nullified the results of a hotly-contested 2004 election due to mishandling of a recount by Alameda County election officials, and ordered Berkeley's Measure R -- a citizen-sponsored medical-marijuana initiative -- back on the ballot for a re-vote in 2008.

Judge Winifred Smith upheld a tentative decision from July where she sided with an organization of medical marijuana advocates who sought to contest the narrow defeat of the marijuana dispensary initiative that year. The initiative failed by 191 votes, or less than half a percent of the ballots cast.


Smith found that the medical-marijuana group never could exercise its right to contest the election because county officials barred access to electronic voting machine records needed to show whether the ballots were recorded accurately.

Within days after voters went to the polls and voted on Measure R, Alameda County's then-Registrar of Voters Bradley Clark charged Americans for Safe Access a little more than $22,600 to recount electronic ballots on the county's touch-screen voting machines, made by Diebold Election Systems Inc.


Smith ruled Tuesday that Alameda County officials have engaged in "a pattern of withholding relevant evidence and failing to preserve evidence" necessary to conduct a recount of the hotly contested measure, evidence the judge found "to be irretrievable due to (the county's) mishandling" of the Diebold voting machines.




Pubdate: Fri, 28 Sep 2007
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Brenda Chabot, Guest Columnist

The Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition stands firmly against medical-marijuana dispensaries. We have a tough fight in front of us, but one that we are winning - and it's due in large part to the efforts of political leaders, community volunteers and parents who are standing up against the plight of medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Leadership in this community has helped to expose the dangers of smoked marijuana and the dangers of allowing marijuana shops to operate in our communities. We applaud Ontario and Norco, just to name a few, who have had the courage to stand up and ban these dispensaries outright from their cities. We want other cities to do the same, especially those who continue to sit on the fence with a moratorium.

Research has not demonstrated that smoked marijuana can be helpful as medicine.

Marinol is a medicine - smoked marijuana is not. Unfortunately, positive coverage of the medical-marijuana debate has contributed to misperception that marijuana is harmless or may even have health benefits. Interviews with teens found that some believe that marijuana can cure cancer and other serious diseases.





The drug war is supposed to protect kids, but who's protecting their sense of liberty? As drug testing gains popularity in high schools, one school district is looking at drug testing junior high students. A private high school in Illinois which has implemented mandatory drug testing for all students reflects on the policy as about half the students have completed testing. The flaws and expenses are recognized, but the administration still seems happy with it. And, the war on drugs certainly isn't helping families involved in medical marijuana in California. And, finally, in meth news: The big federal grants are being handed out, and at least one area is planning on overtime for drug officers.


Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2007
Source: Times, The (Gainesville, GA)
Copyright: 2007 Gainesville Times
Author: Jeff Gill, The Times

The notion of expanding random drug screening beyond high school athletics is picking up steam in Hall County schools.

A systemwide committee has been exploring that possibility as it relates to students in middle and high school athletics and other extracurricular programs, as well as students who drive their cars to school.

School officials issued a statement Tuesday summarizing the committee's work, which includes a survey of staff members at several schools over the potential policy expansion.

"The vast majority ... supported the possible expansion of the program," the report stated.

District spokesman Gordon Higgins, who directs the committee, said that possibly by January the committee could ask the Hall County Board of Education to schedule public hearings on the matter.

The panel comprises administrators, coaches and parents. School board approval would be required for any changes to the current policy.

Higgins said that at this point, the committee envisions changes, if they happen, taking effect in the fall of 2008.

"The middle school piece ( of the potential changes ) is the most interesting thing to me," he said. "I don't know how parents will think about kids at those ages being tested for drugs."




Pubdate: Sun, 23 Sep 2007
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2007 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Kerry Lester, Daily Herald

With More Than Half of School Tested, Even President Admits It's Not Perfect

Four months after announcing its controversial decision to drug test every student with a sample of hair, reality has hit at St. Viator High School.

And for some students, reality bites.

"I had to have part of my leg shaved," said senior Rob Smith.

Smith, who sports a close cropped hairstyle, didn't have long enough hair on his head to clip for drug testing.

A sample, which must be several centimeters long and approximately the diameter of a shoelace, is taken from each student's body and sent to Psychemedics Corp. laboratories in California, where it is evaluated for traces of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, PCP and ecstasy.

Buzz cut or long flowing locks, everyone is getting tested.

"There have even been guys who have lost some armpit hair," said freshman Cory Kay.

More than half of the Arlington Heights school's 1,000 students have been tested since Aug. 27, according to the Rev. Mick Egan, president of St. Viator. Those who refuse the test face the possibility of expulsion.




Pubdate: Tue, 25 Sep 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Dan Bernath

Automatic weapons. Check. Helicopters. Check. Dogs. Check. Bulletproof vests. Check.

You may not buy the government's characterization of its campaign against medical marijuana patients as a "war on drugs," but increasingly violent, militaristic tactics in recent months offer a troubling glimpse into the federal law enforcement community's mentality: To them, this is war.

Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries throughout California on July 17 by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents, often with local law enforcement officers in tow, seemed designed to send a clear signal that the feds were deliberately escalating their war on medical marijuana patients.

The enemy, then, are people like Ronnie Naulls, a Riverside medical marijuana patient who owned two of the dispensaries raided that day.

A church-going family man who used medical marijuana to ease chronic pain from injuries sustained in a 2001 car accident, Naulls already had two successful businesses -- one as an IT consultant and another as a real estate property manager -- when he established the Healing Nations Collective to save fellow Corona patients the hours-long drive to Los Angeles for medicine.

By all accounts, Naulls ran his collectives with exemplary scrupulousness. He maintained strict dress codes and professional standards for all employees. He paid state taxes on the dispensaries - -- amounting to several hundred thousand dollars a year -- even when loose tax regulations allowed other dispensary owners to slip through the cracks. Profits from the dispensaries went to local and national cancer organizations.

Nevertheless, at 5:50 a.m., July 17, Naulls' home and businesses were invaded by DEA agents armed with shotguns, automatic rifles -- even helicopters. They seized everything he owned: his businesses, his property, all of his accounts.

But that wasn't the worst of it. County child protective services came along on the raid and took Naulls' three daughters, aged 1 to 5, and charged him and his wife with child endangerment. They weren't even accused of breaking any state laws.




Pubdate: Tue, 25 Sep 2007
Source: REPUBLICAN & Herald (PA)
Author: Stephen J. Pytak

The Schuylkill County district attorney will hire a third full-time prosecutor and Pottsville police will have the ability to give officers overtime in the war on drugs thanks to a $449,993 federal grant, city and county officials said Monday.

Advertisement Schuylkill Community Education Council "This is a substantial grant," said District Attorney James P. Goodman, "and it will go a long way in helping local law enforcement."

The COPS 2007 Methamphetamine Initiative grant is targeting communities facing significant meth problems. This year, the federal government awarded 117 law enforcement agencies across the nation a total of $43.6 million through the program. And the only other grant this year was awarded to a law enforcement agency in the state, a $377,965 grant to state police, according to the Department of Justice Web site.




Another botched drug raid results in a lawsuit; how many happen that don't get reported because no one sues? In Alaska, federal authorities may be forced to reimburse a man for improperly seizing his property after a drug investigation.

The Boston Globe featured an interesting analysis of how the drug-war-driven prison binge is fundamentally changing culture in America; while another study confirms again that minorities are treated more harshly for drug crimes. And, in Missouri, a police chief who actually understands the nature of democracy, even when it comes to cannabis.


Pubdate: Tue, 25 Sep 2007
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Press Democrat
Author: Lori A. Carter, The Press Democrat

Damages Sought Against DEA Agents, Petaluma Officer In Mistaken ID Case

A North Bay couple whose home was raided by drug agents has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers, claiming they violated their civil and constitutional rights in a slipshod investigation that ended with the case being dismissed for lack of evidence.


No drugs, drug residue, money or weapons were found during the search of Keane's house, which included the use of Accornero's drug-sniffing dog.

Still, Sonoma County prosecutors charged Keane with felony possession of marijuana and he was booked into Sonoma County Jail.

Prosecutors later conceded there wasn't enough evidence to prove Keane, 49, had committed any crime and dismissed the case "in the interest of justice." The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. No hearing dates have been set.


"They were so physically and emotionally abusive and excessive in how they handled them," he said. "These are two very low-key, docile people who were treated as if they were ax murderers."

Strange, 63, said in the suit that a DEA agent held her down with a boot on her head as agents stormed through the house yelling, "Where are your weapons?" and "You know why we're here." The officers damaged the home furnishings, threatened and intimidated the couple, ransacked their personal belongings and left the home "violated and in disarray," the suit claims.

The couple says police violated their constitutional rights when they failed to properly announce their presence or identify themselves, didn't have permission to seize their property or arrest Keane, lacked probable cause to search and used excessive force.

Keane says he spent about $20,000 trying to clear his name, and still feels traumatized.




Pubdate: Sat, 22 Sep 2007
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2007 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Amanda Bohman

A Fairbanks man whose multimillion-dollar marijuana growing operation was disbanded in the early 1990s is poised to be reimbursed for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property seized by the federal government.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that John Collette did not receive proper notice for items confiscated, including two aircraft, a dump truck, snowmachines, a computer and more than $40,000 from bank accounts, according to court documents.

A lower court will determine the items' worth, plus interest, unless the federal government settles with Collette or exercises an appeal.

"Beating up on the government at every opportunity has been my deal since I was 20 years old," said Collette, who is now 60.




Pubdate: Sun, 23 Sep 2007
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2007 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Christopher Shea

It's A Government Program Whose Impact Rivals the New Deal. It Pushes Whole Communities Out of Society's Mainstream. It Costs Tens of Billions of Dollars a Year. Scholars Are Just Beginning to Understand How Prison Is Reshaping the Country.

WHAT if America launched a new New Deal and no one noticed? And what if, instead of lifting the unemployed out of poverty, this multibillion-dollar project steadily drove poor communities further and further out of the American mainstream?

That's how America should think about its growing prison system, some leading social scientists are saying, in research that suggests prisons have a far deeper impact on the nation than simply punishing criminals.

Fueled by the war on drugs, "three-strike" laws, and mandatory minimum sentences, America's prisons and jails now house some 2.2 million inmates - roughly seven times the figure of the early 1970s. And Americans are investing vast resources to keep the system running: The cost to maintain American correctional institutions is some $60 billion a year.

For years sociologists saw prisons - with their disproportionately poor, black, and uneducated populations - partly as mirrors of the social and economic disparities that cleave American life. Now, however, a new crop of books and articles are looking at the penal system not just as a reflection of society, but a force that shapes it.




Pubdate: Wed, 26 Sep 2007
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: David Doege

Hispanics, too, sent to prison more than whites, study finds

African-Americans and Hispanics convicted of drug trafficking in Wisconsin are more likely to wind up in prison than white drug dealers, according to a report on race and sentencing by the state Sentencing Commission.

Compared with whites, Hispanics are 2 1/2 times as likely to be imprisoned, while blacks are nearly twice as likely to end up behind bars for dealing drugs, according to the report issued last month.

The amount of racial disparity found in sentences increased as the offense severity decreased. Less severe crimes, such as drug trafficking, robbery, burglary and third-degree sexual assault, showed greater levels of prison/probation racial disparity than more severe offenses such as armed robbery, sexual assault of a child and first- and second-degree sexual assault.

"Racial disparities do exist within Wisconsin's sentencing system," the report concludes. "Yet the true causes of these disparities are often difficult to identify and measure."




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Joplin Globe, The (MO)
Copyright: 2007 The Joplin Globe
Author: Dave Woods

Joplin police Chief Lane Roberts interview

Joplin police Chief Lane J. Roberts, a self-described child of the '60s with more than 30 years of law-enforcement experience, makes no bones about his previous use of marijuana.

As a young man serving in the U.S. military, he says he smoked the drug a couple of times, but unlike former President Bill Clinton, Roberts acknowledges he inhaled. "Like a lot of people my age, I had an opportunity to experiment with it," he said during a recent interview with the Globe concerning the launch of a marijuana decriminalization initiative, spearheaded by a petition signature drive in Joplin. "I didn't like it. It made me feel like a criminal. I don't know how else I can put it."

For Roberts, it is not about what he thinks of marijuana use that matters, it's what the voters in Joplin choose at the polls, he said.

"My opinion about the use or non-use is frankly irrelevant," he said.

"I will be objective about it. So, if the public says this is what we want ... my job is to support the public's mandates."




Yet another "canna-panic" article from the British tabloids. Admire how they associate the new "cannabis slave" problem with the reclassification of cannabis in 2004, which, contrary to the article, did not increase the rewards nor decrease the risks of cannabis cultivation in the U.K.

Advocates of a decrim' initiative in Joplin, Missouri seem to have their work cut out for them, including winning the support of young voters turned off by their parent's cannabis use.

A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom discovered and insightfully explored the question, "Can medical marijuana help returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan war deal with post- traumatic stress disorder?"

Last week the DEA continued their campaign against California's medicinal cannabis dispensaries, raiding clubs in Sacramento and Oakland, and sending intimidating letters to landlords in Santa Barbara. Be sure to chuckle at the obligatory pot puns.


Pubdate: Sun, 23 Sep 2007
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Nina Lakhani

Youngsters Are Being Shipped Across the World and Held Captive in Towns and Suburbs Up and Down the Country.

Hundreds of young children illegally trafficked into the UK are the new victims of Britain's booming cannabis trade. Figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveal that, as organised criminals push cannabis production to record levels, at least one child a week is being found by police raiding cannabis factories.

Experts warn that children as young as 13 are been smuggled from south-east Asia to work as "slaves" for gangs in dangerous conditions, being kept captive in towns and suburbs across the UK. They believe there has been a five-fold increase in the trade in the past 12 months.

Police believe organised crime gangs, largely Vietnamese, have moved quickly to dominate the UK cannabis market after declassification in 2004 increased the potential rewards of growing and selling the drug and decreased the risks of punishment.


Martin Barnes, chief executive of the charity DrugScope, said: "Many of these young people are victims twice over - at the hands of the criminal gangs who brought them to this country, forcing them to work in cramped, dangerous conditions, and again when they find themselves treated as criminals by the UK authorities. The presumption should be against these young people serving jail terms and instead given support and protection."




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Joplin Globe, The (MO)
Copyright: 2007 The Joplin Globe
Author: Dave Woods

Kelly Maddy, president of the Joplin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, took a deep breath on Friday and started his fight.

Joplin's City Hall was chosen as the starting point of a year-long battle to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Joplin and the paraphernalia that's used to smoke it.

"We are here today to introduce an opportunity for the citizens of Joplin to enact a more sensible marijuana policy," he announced.

Maddy was flanked by Kris Krane, the executive director of national organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Ryan Denham, president of the Alliance for Drug Reform Policy in Arkansas.


The Sensible Sentencing Initiative, as proposed by Maddy and Joplin NORML, would, if endorsed by a majority of Joplin voters in November 2008, make possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia an administrative offense.

The petition also makes clear that adults arrested for simple possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia would not be jailed or have to post bond. Those found guilty of the infraction in municipal court would be subject to a $250 maximum fine.


For R. Lewis Phillips, 69, of Joplin, the idea of decriminalizing marijuana is a non-issue.

"No, not even ... no way would I support that," said Phillips.

"It's (marijuana) a drug. I don't approve of drugs at all. Marijuana, cocaine ... they are all the same. I don't think medical marijuana is the answer either. Once you open that can of worms, there is no end to it," he said.


Paula Phillips, 68, agreed with her husband, R. Lewis Phillips, about the possible decriminalization of marijuana and said her mind is made up about the initiative petition.

"I would not sign it. It sends the wrong message," she said. "We older citizens should give the younger people an example of what is right and what is wrong. Just say no."

At 19 years old, Joplin resident Samantha Helmes said she would not support the decriminalization effort either.

"I'm against the whole drug, tobacco and alcohol thing anyway," she explained. "I don't think the laws against it are tough enough as it is. I'm the daughter of a marijuana addict and don't think it's a good idea. It's an issue I've faced a long time, I would never sign the petition."




Pubdate: Mon, 01 Oct 2007
Source: Esquire (US)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications, Inc.
Author: Colby Buzzell

We're Back From the War. We Can't Sleep. We're Getting Divorced. If Marijuana Is Good for Post-Traumatic Stress, Who Are We to Deny Its Medicinal Properties?

Can medical marijuana help returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan war deal with post-traumatic stress disorder?

This question -- that it might, that it might not, or that it might even make it worse -- hadn't even occurred to me until recently, when I was on the phone with the receptionist at a local medical-marijuana clinic trying to line up an appointment with a doctor in high hopes of obtaining a California medical-marijuana ID card so that I could purchase some cannabis as "medication."

I'm what you might call a recreational drug user, as well as an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran and a card-carrying member of the VFW. To be honest, the real reason I was looking to score a coveted medical-marijuana card was because I had plans that night to go and watch Zodiac at the Los Feliz theater here in Los Angeles. I read the book years ago, thoroughly enjoyed it, and wanted to see the movie adaptation while under the influence of a narcotic, which at that moment I didn't have.

The idea to obtain a medical-marijuana card came after I clicked on a link that was posted on the Drudge Report that morning, "Calif. high school students 'openly smoking medical marijuana in class'..."

The article essentially said that some high school students down in San Diego armed with medical-marijuana cards were coming to class baked, thinking that these cards might help them get away with it. Hysterically brilliant yet insanely retarded way of thinking. But this got me thinking that if high school kids can easily obtain these cards, then I could, too. Right?




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Santa Barbara Independent, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Santa Barbara Independent, Inc.

Up in Smoke?

After enjoying years of relatively hassle-free business, Santa Barbara's medical marijuana scene is feeling the heat this week, with a distinctly ganja-scented cloud of uncertainty hanging over its future in the wake of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) letter-writing campaign.

In recent days, more than a dozen local property owners have received word from the DEA that they could face the potential seizure of their property and assets if they continue to rent space to cannabis companies - a threat that has dispensary operators and building owners alike waiting to exhale. Feeling the fallout from the letters, at least two of the City of Santa Barbara's 10 dispensaries are facing eviction notices, while many others are working overtime with their landlords to prevent a similar fate from befalling their storefronts. "Make no mistake about it: The DEA has officially come to Santa Barbara," said Jennifer Nelson, the head of Santa Barbara's chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients.

Though no actual litigation has yet resulted, the DEA has in the past month sent out at least 150 similar letters to property owners throughout the state - the bulk of them to addresses in Southern California, said Kris Hermes, an ASA spokesperson. "Basically, for no more than the cost of postage, [the DEA] gets to shut down as many dispensaries as possible," Hermes said.




From Mexico this week, the army is again accused of rape and torture in their execution of President Calderon's drug war, but this time the accusations carry a new twist. The Mexican government's own "Human Rights Commission" were the ones making the accusation. Get the military out of the business of enforcing prohibition, says the Commission.

In New Zealand, the Greens and a nationalist party wrangled over a proposed "stoned driver law" which, on the surface, is intended to spare the public from impaired drivers. But when the nationalist NZ First party wanted to go beyond getting impaired drivers off the road, and expressed a desire to heap punishments on such drivers - beyond punishments meted out to drunk drivers - the Greens balked.

In Bolivia, it has been legal to grow almost an acre of coca per farm, for almost three years, the length of time Evo Morales has been in office. While Washington prohibitionists lust after the day the coca plant is extinct, peasant farmers on the ground in Bolivia are pleased they may legally grow a limited amount of the sacred leaf.

And finally this week, we leave you with a thought-provoking piece from Matthew Claxton of the Langley Advance newspaper in British Columbia, Canada. "Legalize drugs, and we can forget about grow ops destroying houses, about chemicals from meth labs being dumped in local creeks. We can stop worrying that the Hells Angels or the Big Circle Boys are controlling the drug trade; the trade will be controlled by dull pharmaceutical firm executives."


Pubdate: Sat, 22 Sep 2007
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Associated Press
Author: The Associated Press

Panel: Pull Troops Out of Drug War

MEXICO CITY - A government-run human rights commission accused soldiers of rape and torture on Friday and recommended the army be pulled out of Mexico's nationwide drug war.

The report by the National Human Rights Commission is the first official document to back up long-standing allegations of human rights abuses by soldiers who are under orders by President Felipe Calderon to retake large swaths of territory controlled by powerful drug cartels.




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Sep 2007
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 The Dominion Post
Author: Haydon Dewes

Government plans to crack down on stoned drivers have stalled, with a political scrap emerging over whether the culprits should also face drugs charges.

The Government is drafting laws to make driving while impaired by illegal drugs an offence similar to drink-driving.

But it is now unclear whether the law change, yet to be introduced to Parliament, has the support to pass.

Government allies the Greens and NZ First are on a collision course over whether motorists who are proved to be on drugs should face prosecution for also using illicit substances before getting behind the wheel.

It is understood the Greens have insisted on a provision being added to the bill preventing evidence gathered during bloodtesting of impaired drivers being used for any other purpose - including prosecution under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

It is highly unlikely that NZ First would support such a move, which would see police turning a blind eye to concrete evidence of illegal drug use.




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2007 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Jack Chang, McClatchy Newspapers

Farmers Hope They Have A Friend In President, Who Was Once A Grower

SHINAHOTA, Bolivia -- Vitalia Merida grows as much coca as Bolivian law allows -- four-tenths of an acre, or a "cato," as the measure is known here.


"Our belief is that if we could eradicate all coca, we could eradicate all cocaine, because it is the basic ingredient for cocaine," said Christy McCampbell, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.


"There are no soldiers who show up at 3 or 4 in the morning with tear gas to take away your crops," she said one afternoon as she rested in the shade of a tree. "We have Evo now, and he's protecting us."



Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2007
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Matthew Claxton, Langley Advance

Here's A Few Headlines You Won't See Any Time Soon:

- - Coors kingpin held in murder of Molson's godfather

- - Police blame massacre on whiskey dealers

- - Tobacco pusher gunned down in drive-by

- - New strain of booze kills addicts

We don't see headlines like this because the drugs involved, alcohol and nicotine, are legally available. You can follow government guidelines to make them, sell them, ingest them and even commit slow suicide, if that's your pleasure.


Legalize drugs, and we can forget about grow ops destroying houses, about chemicals from meth labs being dumped in local creeks. We can stop worrying that the Hells Angels or the Big Circle Boys are controlling the drug trade; the trade will be controlled by dull pharmaceutical firm executives.

The life of an addict, I admit, will still be miserable. But a few things will be better. With drugs made legally, dosages and purity will be standard. Accidental overdoses will be less frequent.

The petty property crime that is necessary to pay for drugs - one of the most massively marked-up products in the world - will drop.

The most important thing to do for a society contemplating this legalization is to spend the money needed for education and treatment. The policing money saved has to go into realistic and comprehensive warnings, and help for the people who ignore those warnings. Then we can start dealing with the problem.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Nearly 6 Percent Increase Over 2005


Why risk provoking the American public's outrage by escalating its war on medical marijuana patients?

By Dan Bernath


by Kyle Johnson


Last: 09/21/07 - Tony Papa of Drug Policy Alliance + Barry Hargrove, Deborah Vagins & Dr. Ken Collins + Official Govt. Truth




by Scott Morgan

The superb efforts of our friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition notwithstanding, police generally oppose efforts to reform marijuana laws.


In case you missed it, the video is online.



Chronic Pain Patient Pardoned - A DrugSense Focus Alert.



By N. Bill Smeathers

I am not in anyway opposed to law enforcement. As a civilized society we must have it. However, we do not need law enforcement which functions in such a way that it becomes oppressive. Sadly enough, in one way or another, the problem stems from or is influenced by, The War on Drugs, and why we need to fight to end The War on Drugs.

To end this war, where do we start? There are so many important reasons.

Drug prohibition creates a lucrative black market that causes violence and disorder, particularly in the inner cities. It draws young people into lives of crime. Thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses or poisonings by adulterants every year. Most of these deaths would be preventable through quality control which would exist if drugs were legal.

Our ( America's ) drug was in the South American Andes fuels a continuing civil war in Columbia, with prohibition-generated illicit drug profits aiding its escalation. Opium growing, and the attempts to stop it, both hurt Afghanistan's attempts at nation building and helps our enemies.

Profiling assaults the dignity of members of minority groups, and of the poor, denying them equal justice. From drug testing in our schools, to SWAT and SLANT teams invading our homes and terrorizing our children and handicapped persons, assaulting the citizenry's very existence, privacy has been gutted.

That's not all of it, and it isn't a pretty picture. This is why we must oppose drug laws.

N. Bill Smeathers, Freeport

Pubdate: Sun, 23 Sep 2007
Source: Journal Standard, The (Freeport, IL)



By Anthony Papa

The U.S. government recently praised the arrest of Colombia's top drug lord Diego Montoya when he was captured earlier this month. Law enforcement and military officials say it was a powerful blow to Colombia's most powerful drug cartel, comparing it to the capture of Al Capone during Prohibition.

Montoya, who had been on the FBI's top ten most wanted list, is said to be responsible for providing as much as 70 percent of all the cocaine in the United States. In 1999, a $5 million bounty for his capture and extradition was offered after he was indicted in a federal court in Miami.

There is much talk about how this capture will affect the drug trade and the flow of drugs into the United States. But the question on my mind is how much time will he serve when he is brought to the United States to stand trial for the death and destruction he has caused? I would be willing to bet that he will get less time than many Americans who are now serving extraordinarily long sentences, many for low-level, nonviolent drug law violations under the notorious mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Some would ask how would I come to this conclusion.

If you look at the recently completed federal sentence of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who served a 17-year federal sentence for drug trafficking, it might give you a hint what is in store for Montoya. In Noriega's case the U.S. attorney negotiated deals with 26 high-level drug dealers, including drug lord Carlos Lehder. They in turn received a package of perks that included leniency and cash payments, and were allowed to keep their drug earnings in return for testimony against the infamous general who was once a strong United States ally before he fell from grace in 1989, when the U.S. invaded Panama.

There are many Americans in prison that are serving sentences of more than 17 years in prison for simple drug crimes. These are marginalized offenders that don't have the bargaining chips to establish deals. For example, Elaine Bartlett, a mother of four, served a 20-to-life sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws for seven ounces of cocaine. Her husband, Nathan Brooks, was sentenced to 25 years to life. The list goes on and on. There are an estimated 500,000 Americans locked up because of the drug war. Many of them are serving lengthy sentences because of a 30-year government campaign to demonize illicit drug use and implement mandatory minimum sentencing.

In 1986, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were enacted by Congress, which compelled judges to deliver fixed sentences to individuals convicted of certain crimes, regardless of mitigating factors or culpability. Federal mandatory drug sentences are determined based on three factors: the type of drug, weight of the drug mixture (or alleged weight in conspiracy cases), and the number of prior convictions. Judges are unable to consider other important factors, such as the offender's role, motivation and the likelihood of recidivism.

The push to incarcerate drug offenders has been further exacerbated through the current federal sentencing law that punishes crack cocaine offenders much more severely than offenders possessing other types of drugs, for example, powder cocaine. Distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. This 100:1 sentencing disparity has been almost universally criticized for its racially discriminatory impact by a wide variety of criminal justice and civil rights groups, and in Congress. Although whites and Hispanics form the majority of crack users, the vast majority of those convicted for crack cocaine offenses are African Americans.

Because of the war on drugs, which mandates mandatory minimum sentencing, average drug offenders are routinely elevated to kingpin status and condemned to serve out long prison sentences that should be reserved only for actual drug kingpins, not individuals that are fabricated to that level. It's time to end these draconian laws and implement a sentencing structure that promotes fairness and justice.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and a communications specialist for Drug Policy Alliance.


"Prison continues, on those who are entrusted to it, a work begun elsewhere, which the whole of society pursues on each individual through innumerable mechanisms of discipline." - Michel Foucault

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