This Just In
(1)Harper Vows Jail Time For Drug Dealers, Producers
(2)Editorial: Tories' 'New' Strategy To Fight Drugs
(3)A Patient Pleads For Access
(4)25 Years See Growth For Mama Supporters

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


There may not be a daily newspaper in Canada today that does not have a story about the new government war on some politically selected drugs, but is it really a new war?

Every day we see some California newspaper that has editorial page content questioning the excesses common under the cover of Proposition 215.

Hats off to Sandee Burbank for teaching harm reduction for a quarter of a century.


Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Authors: Meagan Fitzpatrick and Randy Shore

PM Mum on His Plans for Pot Growers

The federal government will introduce legislation this fall setting out mandatory minimum jail sentences for people convicted of "serious" drug crimes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.

"Currently there are no minimum prison sentences for producing and trafficking dangerous drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine," Harper told a news conference.

"But these are serious crimes; those who commit them should do serious time."

The $63.8-million national anti-drug strategy also promises more resources for identifying and closing down marijuana-growing operations, although Harper would not say whether marijuana growers would face tougher sentences.

About $22 million of the funding would go toward enforcement, while about $32 million would be directed to treatment and $10 million for prevention in the form of an awareness campaign. The money would be spent over two years.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan called the announcement a good start. Noting that enforcement has been well-funded for many years, he said treatment and prevention will require "a much larger investment."


Mark Townsend, of Vancouver, called the federal announcement "depressing" and dismissed it as meant to court the tough-on-crime vote.

Drug addiction is a devastating problem for the individuals and their families and the communities that they live in too," said Townsend, executive director for Insite, the city's supervised injection site.

These problems are very complicated. But in Vancouver we have a lot of consensus about harm reduction and Insite.


The federal government this week extended the special exemption that allows Insite to operate until June 30. The facility averages about 600 visits a day and has referred almost 2,000 people to some form of addiction treatment or counselling over the past four years.

Harper admitted Thursday that he remains skeptical about Insite and said even if it's effective, it's a "second-best strategy at best."




Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun


In fact, despite all the rhetoric surrounding the strategy, it can really be described as more of the same -- the same failed, enforcement-heavy approach toward illicit drugs that the Liberals took when they were in power.

Enforcement Is the Priority

Of the $64 million, $22 million will be directed toward enforcement, $10 million toward prevention programs and $32 million will be earmarked for treatment. The extra money for treatment and prevention are welcome, but it's clear that enforcement will continue to get the lion's share of funds, just as it did under the Liberals.

That's because the $64 million is only a small addition to the money already invested in the drug war. For example, in the 2004-2005 fiscal year, Canada devoted $271 million toward enforcement, compared with $51 million for treatment and $10 million for prevention.

The additional funds will therefore do little to tilt the emphasis away from the failed war-on-drugs approach. And while the Conservatives have painted the Liberals as having been soft on drug crime, it's clear that they were anything but. As just one example, the City of Vancouver noted that between 1992 and 2002, the marijuana offence rate rose nearly 80 per cent, due mainly to an increase in possession offences.

But while the Liberals were enthusiastic foot soldiers in the war on drugs, the Conservatives clearly want to lead the charge. Making good on a previous promise, Harper said the Conservatives will introduce legislation with mandatory sentences for those convicted of trafficking in drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine.


But not content to learn from U.S. failures, the Conservatives forge ahead. Their entire strategy is based on the myth that there is a sharp distinction between drug dealers and drug users. Yet many addicts become (low-level) dealers because it provides them with a steady source of income and a steady supply of drugs. The most severely addicted are the ones most likely to take up dealing.

It is these people who are most likely to be subject to mandatory sentences since high level dealers are good at insulating themselves from the police. Also, when large-scale traffickers are caught, they are often able to provide valuable information to prosecutors in exchange for lighter sentences.


In reality, though, we're on the same road that we've been on for decades. We're merely going a little faster, which is unfortunate since it's a dead end.



Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA)
Column: Viewpoint
Author: Tom Hennessy

"My husband has terminal lung cancer," said the woman on the phone.

That was her introduction to a complicated, sometimes harrowing story about trying to obtain the only medicine that gives her husband relief.

The medicine is marijuana.

She called a day after Tracy Manzer's Sunday story listing 11 Long Beach locations where, police say, marijuana is sold to people in medical need, and perhaps to people pretending to be in medical need.


The man and wife cited above are Long Beach residents. She has given me permission to use her name. However, I will not do so because the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has a history of making raids on people using marijuana for medical relief.


For all her troubles and those of her husband, Mrs. X says she understands the city's position: even if medical marijuana sales were sanctioned by the federal government, it would be difficult to prevent ineligible marijuana users from abusing the system.

"I agree there are people who are getting marijuana and are not eligible for it," she says. "How do we stop that? How do we get that under control?"


Please do not interpret this column as an argument to legalize marijuana. That is a different debate.

The column is actually a plea on behalf of one cancer patient, and thousands of others who, like him, are seriously ill.

Are they to suffer because the government cannot devise a system whereby those in pain can be helped, and those seeking to get high can be turned away?

Not even the government can be that stupid and that lacking in compassion. Or can it?



Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Dalles Chronicle, The (OR)
Copyright: 2007 Eagle Newspapers Inc.
Author: Ed Cox, of The Chronicle

After 25 years, Sandee Burbank's controversial views on drugs haven't changed, but she's become more comfortable -- and better at -- backing them up.


It's a testament to how Burbank and her organization, founded in 1982 by seven women at a mountain cabin near Mosier, have grown up.

That maturity includes Burbank's 1997 recognition by the Drug Policy Foundation with the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action.

It also includes the 2005 opening of an office and clinic in Portland that now helps patients register for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and use the drug to effectively to deal with severe pain and other qualifying conditions.

That state program fits right in with the philosophy of MAMA, which, while not a strictly pro-cannabis group, asks that all drugs -- legal and illegal -- be judged on a level playing field.





After years of failure, federal drug warriors are crowing over alleged success. A new report claims that the cocaine supply in the U.S. has been reduced to the point that prices are going up in some American cities. Never mind that there could be alternate explanations for the situation (see the DrugSense Weekly feature article below for more on that subject), or that if the shortages are indeed occurring, it will lead to more violence in the market.

Elsewhere, the drug war is not going as usual. In Oregon, a controversial drug-free zone policy has been ended, while in New York a judge's order for a drug-using couple not to have children has been deemed unconstitutional. And, some officials in Palm Beach do not want to be known as the rehab capital of the world.


Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Drug Policy Critics Say It's Too Soon to Tell Whether the Data Signal Success in the Drug War.

SAN DIEGO -- Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels and U.S. authorities' seizures at sea have helped to sharply reduce the availability of cocaine in 37 American cities, according to a report released Tuesday by federal anti-narcotics officials.

The shortage has driven up prices to their highest levels in nearly two decades, with the cost of cocaine increasing 24%, from $95.89 to $118.70 per gram over the six-month period ending in June, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Washington and New York are among the cities reportedly experiencing shortages.

Critics of U.S. drug policy remain skeptical, saying it's too early to determine whether the statistics signal an important milestone in the war on drugs.

The report, they say, comes as the Bush administration prepares to ask Congress for an aid package of nearly $1 billion to help Mexico fight traffickers.




Pubdate: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2007 The Oregonian
Author:Andy Dworkin, the Oregonian Staff

Neighborhoods - Residents Have Mixed Feelings About the Demise of the Controversial Exclusion Policy

Albert Johnson cuts through an alley near Northeast Simpson and MLK. Police say the area is a waiting room for junkies, though just blocks from the police precinct and in the heart of one of Portland's expiring "drug-free zones."

Johnson pleaded guilty a year ago to possessing heroin. He became one of the hundreds of Portlanders to get banned from the city's drug-free zones. That meant he could only travel his neighborhood to get to work, home or necessary social services, not to visit friends, buy socks or grab a beer.

Officer Mark Zylawy stops his cruiser. Johnson says he's just walking home. Zylawy tells him the drug exclusion laws are ending.

"They're going away? Cool," says Johnson, 63.

The exclusion made it hard to move around, Johnson says. On the other hand, he used less heroin after his exclusion, though he still uses "now and then." And he tells Zylawy the neighborhood may be safer for the law: "I'm for it."

Johnson's split feelings mirror a city divided on its 15-year experiment to bar people arrested for open drug and prostitution crimes from wandering through big parts of the city for 90 days (one year after a conviction).

Neighborhood activists pushed the exclusion ideas, tired of seeing drugs dealt on downtown and inner eastside streets. Business groups and cops praised the law, and other cities copied it. Civil rights advocates attacked it as racist and unconstitutional, since no conviction was needed to exclude someone.




Pubdate: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY)
Copyright: 2007 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Author: Michael Zeigler, Staff writer

Monroe Judge's Unprecedented Ruling in Error, Says Appeals Court

An appeals court has overturned a controversial, first-of-its-kind ruling that ordered a homeless and drug-addicted Rochester couple to have no more children.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court said Friday that Monroe County Family Court Judge Marilyn L. O'Connor overstepped her bounds in 2004 when she banned Stephanie Pendleton and Rodney Evers Sr. from having more children until they could redeem the four they lost to foster care.

"We conclude that the court had no authority to prohibit (Pendleton) from procreating," a five-judge panel of the appellate court said in a written decision.




Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2007
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Mark Hollis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Caron Foundation Won't Receive Tax-Exempt Bonds

With Web sites decorated with images of sunsets at the beach, sea gulls and big ocean waves, at least 40 substance-abuse treatment centers in south Palm Beach County attract thousands from around the globe for help with their addictions.

Now, some local officials say the drug and alcohol abuse treatments are an economic enterprise that the community doesn't desire.

On Tuesday, after hearing Delray Beach Mayor Rita Ellis complain that clients at many treatment centers have become a burden on local law enforcement, Palm Beach County commissioners rejected one center's request for financial help.

The commission voted 6-1 to deny granting tax-exempt bonds to help the Caron Foundation of Florida, a nonprofit substance abuse center, expand its facilities. The bond was sought to assist the foundation in paying for the construction and furnishing of an addiction treatment facility at 8051 Congress Ave. in Delray Beach and to refurbish its residential facilities in Boca Raton.

"I want to be known for quality care, but I don't want to be known as the drug rehab capital of the world," said Commissioner Mary McCarty, who led the opposition to the request and who represents a south county district.




In North Carolina, a sheriff who took federal anti-drug money and then used it to pay deputies to do menial or political work has pled guilty to perjury and conspiracy. So one crooked one gets caught, but in Florida, an officer accused of lying in a drug case appears ready to get off the hook, as witnesses involved in the case can't be found.

Also last week, a disturbing story out of Wisconsin and another way the drug war impedes justice; and in Mississippi, who's going to pay for the anti-drug task forces, and when?


Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Fayetteville Observer
Author: Greg Barnes

RALEIGH -- Former Robeson County Sheriff Glenn Maynor pleaded guilty Wednesday to perjury and conspiring to misapply federal money. Maynor, who is 61, declined to comment after the hearing in U.S. District Court in Raleigh.

He was charged two weeks ago in a two-count bill of criminal information. Each count carries a sentence of no more than five years and a $250,000 fine. Maynor's sentencing has not been scheduled.

"North Carolinians must have confidence in the integrity of our peace officers. Prosecuting corrupt law enforcement officials is a top priority," U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding said in a statement. Maynor becomes the highest ranking of 20 former Robeson County law enforcement officers to plead guilty since a state and federal investigation called Operation Tarnished Badge began nearly five years ago. The investigation continues.

Wes Camden, an assistant U.S. attorney, said the Robeson County Sheriff's Office received more than $10,000 in federal money meant for law enforcement programs between September 2002 and September 2003.

Camden said Maynor conspired with his deputies to use $5,000 or more of that money to benefit the former sheriff personally and politically. Maynor solicited employees to clear trees and other debris from his property, to collect contributions for his political campaigns and to work fundraisers for his campaigns, including his annual golf tournament, Camden said. The deputies were paid for their time.




Pubdate: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2007 Orlando Sentinel
Author: Willoughby Mariano, Sentinel Staff Writer

Prosecutors cite the loss of 2 witnesses. The Orange cop says he did nothing wrong in the drug case.

The State Attorney's Office decided Friday not to pursue a perjury charge against an Orange County deputy sheriff accused of lying to a jury in a drug case.

Kevin Carter, 46, was arrested in May because he told a jury in January 2005 that an anonymous stranger at a bus stop tipped him off to drug-dealing behind a Pine Hills liquor store. A sheriff's investigation determined that the tipster was actually a suspected prostitute Carter threatened with arrest if she failed to cooperate.

Prosecutors decided to take the case off the docket because two key witnesses disappeared, said Randy Means, executive director of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office. If the witnesses in Carter's case surface, his office may file charges again.

Carter is one of three former undercover drug-squad members arrested on perjury charges. The cases against deputies Jeffrey Lane and Nicholas Ortiz are ongoing.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Isthmus (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Isthmus
Author: Jason Shepard

Police Identified Suspect, But No Charges Were Ever Filed In Amos Mortier Case

In the front room of her small east side home, Margie Milutinovich skims computer records she's compiled over the nearly three years of searching for her son, Amos Mortier. "Missing" posters hang on the walls. Notes, timelines and piles of court records are scattered on a desk.

"Should I put on the coffee?" Milutinovich asks a reporter. "Once you get started, it's hard to keep anything straight."

Indeed, trying to figure out what happened to her son in November 2004 has eluded both Milutinovich and the authorities. But this summer, dozens of new clues emerged after a judge unsealed 18 search warrants executed more than two years ago.

"Reading the search warrants has diminished a lot of the hope I had that Amos is still alive," says Mortier's friend Martin Frank. "They suggest something bad happened to Amos. I have a million more questions than I did before."

The documents ( see this story at ) identify a central suspect, Jacob Stadfeld, a 31-year-old Madison resident who works for a pub on Park Street. Stadfeld purportedly owed Mortier $90,000 for marijuana Mortier fronted him to sell. The search warrants show police sought evidence of "kidnapping, false imprisonment [and] homicide" in searches of Stadfeld's home, office, truck and property rented by his mother.

Among the evidence cited to justify these warrants: a verbal argument between Stadfeld and Mortier days before Mortier vanished; Stadfeld's presence near Mortier's home hours after Mortier was last seen; and two phone calls placed by Stadfeld to a gun shop days earlier. Stadfeld has previous convictions for possessing and selling marijuana. Earlier this month, he lost his Madison home after defaulting on his mortgage.

Mortier, 27 at the time of his disappearance on Nov. 8, 2004, was a quiet but friendly man who worked at State Street shops, hung out at the Inferno, shopped at the Willy Street Co-op, and had an interest in organic farming. He took classes at MATC and supplemented his income, it's now clear, by selling large quantities of marijuana.

The Fitchburg police, Dane County Sheriff's and District Attorney's Offices, FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have all been involved in investigating Mortier's disappearance. Sources also say the case has come before a federal grand jury and been the subject of a rare state "John Doe" probe. No arrests have been made nor charges filed in what authorities have long considered a homicide investigation.




Pubdate: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (Jackson, MS)
Copyright: 2007 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: Jimmie E. Gates

State's Units Investigate Street-Level Trafficking, Homicides And Burglaries

The future of the state's 14 multijurisdictional narcotics task forces was left in limbo Friday with uncertainty over funding for the new fiscal year that begins Monday.

A committee appointed by Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner George Phillips has not approved funding for the task forces, said Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis, whose county is a member of the North Central Narcotics Task Force.

The task forces attack street-level drug trafficking and also investigate major crimes such as homicides and burglaries.

"We went through this same thing last year," Davis said of the task force that serves his county. "As it stands right now, we have not been funded." Other counties in the eight-member North Central Narcotics Task Force are Tunica, Coahoma, Grenada, Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore and Yazoo.

Four employees of the North Central Task Force, the state's largest, will be out of work beginning Monday if no money is appropriated by then, said Holmes County Sheriff Willie March. He questioned why task force members must wait to learn if they will receive money from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. About $1 million of the nearly $3 million grant is to go to the task forces, he said.




Last week saw a refreshingly realistic interpretation of the relationship between cannabis, alcohol and crime by Australian police.

The DEA continued their campaign against California's medicinal cannabis patients, growers and dispensaries, pressing federal charges to deprive selected defendants of a medical defense under state law.

The British press trumpeted Howard Marks' admission that cannabis may not be completely harmless as an endorsement of the proposed re-rescheduling of the herb from Class C back to B.

It's harvest time again in the green hills of Kentucky.

Finally, a poignant reminder from the fragrant streets of Vancouver that cannabis dealers are people too.


Pubdate: Mon, 01 Oct 2007
Source: Courier-Mail, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Queensland Newspapers
Author: Matt Cunningham

Three out of four people arrested and detained by police in Darwin are under the influence of illicit drugs, research shows.

Australian Institute of Criminology data reveals 73 per cent of Darwin detainees tested positive to cannabis in July and August, steadily increasing from 46 per cent in January last year.


Drug Free Australia executive officer Jo Baxter said there was a common misconception that cannabis was a "soft" drug.

"Research now shows just how complex and dangerous this drug is," she said.

She said Australian Governments needed to be tougher on illicit drugs.

"Then, and only then, will we begin to get the results similar to those countries that have been successful reducing illicit drug use," she said.

But NT police say alcohol is a far bigger problem than any illicit drug when it comes to crime.


"It's that really high level of drinking and offending that's the problem," said Sgt Mitchell.

"People when they get drunk do dumb things. They get into cars and drive. We know they shot someone because they looked at their girlfriend.

"Cannabis users, by and large, are fairly mellow."



Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2007
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record
Author: Terry Vau Dell

OROVILLE -- In a surprise move, federal prosecutors Tuesday took over a Chico pot cultivation case, effectively depriving the suspect of a medical marijuana defense in court, his attorney objected.

At the request of the U.S. Attorney in Sacramento, the Butte County District Attorney's Office moved in court Tuesday to dismiss local charges against Robert Gordon Rasmussen, 23.

Federal prosecutors intend to seek an indictment on new marijuana cultivation charges, which could carry up to 20 years in prison.

The Chico man is accused of growing about 210 marijuana plants at his Bennington Drive home earlier this year.

He claimed through his lawyer he was growing the pot as part of a lawful seven-person medical marijuana patient collective.

The U.S. government takes the position that federal drug laws that prohibit growing marijuana trump Proposition 215, the 1996 voter- approved initiative that permits smoking pot with a doctor's recommendation in California.

Rasmussen's attorney, Omar Figueroa, contends Tuesday's development is an effort by federal prosecutors to "subvert the will of the voters" by depriving defendants like Rasmussen of his right to raise a medical marijuana defense in court.



 (15) NO MORE MR NICE GUY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2007
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers Ltd.
Author: David Connett

Howard Marks, Poster Boy for Cannabis, Doubts Safety of Drug

The man who made a career, in and out of prison, from cannabis has for the first time expressed concern about its links to mental illness in the light of reports in The Independent on Sunday. David Connett reports

Howard Marks, the one-time "King of Dope", is a living icon for campaigners for the legalisation of cannabis. But yesterday he admitted for the first time that he is concerned about links between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Marks, better known as Mr Nice - one of 43 aliases he used when running his worldwide drug empire and the title of his best-selling autobiography - said more medical research into the issue is vital. Marks admitted he was uneasy over growing evidence which suggested that being "stoned and being off your head" may be connected. By that, he meant the temporary high from the drug and long-term mental health illness.

Marks, speaking in a TV interview, said: "I think it is difficult to establish whether these two states are similar. If, as a result of smoking a lot of dope, one becomes schizophrenic, that's reason for concern. If being slightly schizophrenic makes you want to smoke some dope to ease you through the day, I don't think that's a cause for concern.

"To find out which of these is true will require research. One has to look into the action [of cannabis] on the brain and what happens."




Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2007
Source: Courier-Journal, The (Louisville, KY)
Copyright: 2007 The Courier-Journal
Author: Chris Kenning

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Deep in the Appalachian woods near the Knox-Bell county line, Kentucky State Police Trooper Dewayne Holden's Humvee belched smoke and roared as it struggled up what once was an old logging trail.

As his three-truck convoy stopped at a clearing atop a 3,000-foot ridge, Holden grabbed a machete and joined eight other armed troopers and National Guardsmen, hiking toward a hill under some power lines.

Keeping an eye out for nail pits, pipe bombs and poison-snake booby traps, they found fresh ATV tracks.


Welcome to the battle police and marijuana growers wage each fall in Kentucky's remote Appalachian counties, where 75 percent of the state's top cash crop is grown.

Kentucky produces more marijuana than any other state except California, making it home to one of the nation's more intensive eradication efforts -- a yearly game of harvest-time cat and mouse in national forests, abandoned farms, shady hollows, backyards and mountainsides.

More than 100 state police, guardsmen, DEA agents, U.S. Forest Service spotters and others are part of a strike force based in London that works dawn to dark, sometimes roping into remote patches from Blackhawk helicopters.

With a budget of $1.5 million and help from a $6 million federal anti- drug effort in the region, last year the state seized 557,628 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1.3 billion.


Authorities say their efforts keep drugs off the streets and illicit profits out of criminal hands. But critics call it a waste of time and money that has failed to curb availability or demand.

"Trying to eradicate marijuana is like taking a teaspoon and saying you're going to empty the Atlantic Ocean," said Gary Potter, an Eastern Kentucky University professor of criminal justice who has researched the issue for decades.




Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Pam Chandler

By The Time Our Transaction Was Complete, I Had Seen The Person Behind The Occupation

One night this year, I met a man whom I frequently think about, although not romantically. This man, who told me his name was Jay, was by no means an angel; in fact he was, and very likely still is, a drug dealer.

I met Jay at a very low point in my life. I had separated from my husband, my birth mother was in the hospital dying and I had a fractured jaw due to a hellish extraction of wisdom teeth.

My friend and I met Jay after a day of hard drinking in downtown Vancouver. We were trying very hard to forget. We were two middle- aged women who had not smoked a joint since high school, more than 20 years ago, but for some reason we decided we would try it again. Because I recalled someone saying that whenever he walked down Granville Street he was offered drugs, we decided to try our luck there.

En route, we discussed the fact that we had no idea how you "score dope." Our only experience with dope was being passed a joint at a party.

I first saw Jay with another man loitering at a payphone on a street corner. My first thought was these guys look like pretty shifty characters. I don't remember any details about the other young man; only Jay stands out in my mind. The way he was dressed led me to believe he was a drug dealer. He had on clothes that were worn and torn, he wore a black bandana as though he were from the 'hood, and wraparound sunglasses even though it was nighttime.

I approached him and asked him very loudly for "weed." He seemed stunned by the request. He said, "You want dope?"

I said yes. I remember fumbling in my pocket for change and asking him how much you could get for $2.50. His friend and my friend started laughing; he simply said, "Nothing."




While U.S. aerial spraying of glyphosate on Colombia hasn't done much but spread out coca plots and create hardier hybrids, the central planners of prohibition in Washington D.C. know best. They know that doing the same thing in Afghanistan must be the key to forcing farmers not to grow opium. Even Hamid Karzai (the U.S.-installed satrap there) has been "resisting American pressure" to spray. But this is bound to change as pressure increases, year after year, and bumper opium crop after bumper crop. The split (to spray or not to spray) cuts across the alliance, with the British said to oppose the idea. The U.S. denies that spraying "causes harm to people or cattle."

Officials in the Western Canadian city of Port Alberni say an outbreak of tuberculosis there is "linked" to crack. "There is a close connection with crack cocaine use" stated Vancouver Island Health Authority spokesman Janice Jesperson. Health officials have reportedly identified over thirty cases of TB there since the spring of 2007. The nearby city of Nanaimo only recently stopped a crack-pipe exchange program last summer. The purpose of the program was to reduce the spread of disease from used crack-pipes.

"Most" of the youth in the Gulu district of Uganda are using illicit drugs, says a Gulu mental health specialist quoted in the Ugandan New Vision newspaper. Many of the children in Gulu have "witnessed atrocities during the insurgency in the region" and were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Police in Gulu "arrest four teenage drug abusers every week, including girls."

And in the Czech Republic, lawmakers look to loosening drug laws, after their "get tough" approach backfired. It sounds much like the Dutch approach. The "idea behind the amendment is to separate recreational drug users from 'the black market'," said Justice Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Kuncova. The proposal seeks to also separate "light" drugs like cannabis from meth and heroin by making penalties for cannabis less severe. In 1999, the Czech legislature made possession of drugs illegal. "But far from lowering the amount of marijuana found on the streets, the tougher approach seemed to make things worse, according to a government study on the effects of the new policy conducted one year later." Expect the little Czech Republic to come under intense pressure from the U.S. to recant such heresy.


Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Kim Sengupta

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is resisting American pressure to authorise a major programme of crop spraying to eradicate the country's massive opium crop amid warnings that it would lead to a rise in support for the Taliban.

The plan has been strongly opposed by the British, who hold that it will make the task of the military in Helmand, the province which produces 50 per cent of the opium crop, much harder. Spraying from the air, critics say, carries with it the danger of destroying other crops, causing long-term ecological damage, and affecting the health of livestock.

But according to senior Western and Afghan officials, the American position has been significantly strengthened following the latest poppy harvest, which shows a jump of 34 per cent from last year, which was already a world record.


The policy in Colombia came under severe criticism with claims that it damaged legitimate crops and ultimately failed in its aims of destroying the coca crop. However, during his confirmation hearing before Congress, Mr Wood said the Colombian option may be repeated in Afghanistan and General Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, has also voiced the opinion that it could be a template for Afghanistan. Members of the Colombian security forces are already training Afghan police in counter-narcotics.


A U.S. diplomatic source said: "There is absolutely no evidence that spraying causes harm to people or cattle. Everyone has seen the rise in the poppy harvest, and obviously the current policy is not working."



Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: CanWest News Service

PORT ALBERNI -- Vancouver Island health officials have linked the current tuberculosis outbreak in Port Alberni to the use and abuse of crack cocaine.

"There is a close connection with crack cocaine use [in the outbreak]," Janice Jespersen, public health nurse with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, told Port Alberni city councillors this week.




Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2007
Source: New Vision (Uganda)
Author: Caroline Ayugi

Most youth in Gulu district have resorted to use of drugs as an assumed remedy to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatrist at the Gulu mental health unit has revealed.

Dr. Thomas Oyok said the abuse of drugs had resulted into increased cases of mental illness and poor performance at school.


"Teachers might think a student is a slow learner but when you dig deep, you find that he might have lost both parents, was abducted and witnessed atrocities during the insurgency in the region."


The community liaison officer at the Gulu central Police station, Johnson Kilama, said the Police on average arrest four teenage drug abusers every week, including girls.



Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2007
Source: Prague Post (Czech Republic)
Author: Eva Munkova

Penalties for Marijuana and Magic Mushroom Growers May Drop

The Idea Behind the Changes Is to Separate Users From Dealers.

Lawmakers are considering lower penalties for small-scale recreational drug growers under a Criminal Code change that decriminalizes recreational drug use.

If the new Criminal Code passes, marijuana growers would face six months in jail if they produce more than an amount deemed to be for their own use. Anyone who makes drugs or possesses them in certain quantities can go to jail for one to five years if caught under the current law.

The idea behind the amendment is to separate recreational drug users from "the black market," says Justice Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Kuncova.

Police officers will still have the same abilities to arrest dealers if the new rules pass, Kuncova says, because the rules related to the criminal manufacture or sale of drugs are essentially unaltered by the code.

Under the proposed new rules, penalties would be more lenient for possession or cultivation of "light" drugs such as marijuana for individual use, but remain strict for possession or sale of hard drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin.


Lawmakers first made cultivation and possession of any amount of drugs a criminal offense in 1999, said Josef Radimecky, a former member of the government commission that penned the original amendment.


But far from lowering the amount of marijuana found on the streets, the tougher approach seemed to make things worse, according to a government study on the effects of the new policy conducted one year later.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


I've looked forward to interviewing the U.S. drug czar for years, and Tuesday afternoon I finally got the chance when current czar John Walters visited with the U-T editorial board.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a two-pronged anti-drug campaign, focusing on prevention for users and harsher penalties for producers. At the heart of the announcement was the introduction of mandatory sentences for people convicted of serious drug charges.



By Paul Armentano

Since 1990, over 10.4 million Americans have been busted for pot. When will we recognize it's time to stand up to the war on harmless pot smoking?



For women who inject drugs, the stigma of injection drug use is added to gendered discrimination; these factors combined can push women into behaviors that increase their risk of HIV, according to this report published by OSI's International Harm Reduction Development Program.


10/03/07: Dr. Joel Hochman Dir Natl. Foundation for Treatment of Pain


09/28/07: Sanho Tree on the situation in Colombia plus Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project


Listen Live Tuesdays 12.30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 MT & 9:30 AM PT at


Operating in a legal no-man's-land and facing criminal action at any time, dedicated activists at compassion clubs across Canada are working to make medicinal marijuana available to any PHA who needs it. Derek Thaczuk explores how they work and why they are so important.


by Jon Gettman


The pain issue shows why medical policy should be left to the states.

By Maia Szalavitz


(But Don't Worry, White People, It Won't Be You)

By Ezekiel Edwards

One has to wonder, what on earth are the police and the Mayor smoking?



Cannabis, Creativity and Commerce

Los Angeles, California, October 12-13, 2007


Nearly 250,000 online subscribers to the online social networking website Facebook have voiced their support for marijuana law reform by joining NORML's newly launched `Cause' group.



By Gary Storck

Dear Editor: Ten years ago The Capital Times published the first letter to the editor I ever wrote about medical marijuana. I wrote it days after meeting the medical marijuana "Journey for Justice" at the Capitol on Sept. 18, 1997.

The journey was a 15-patient, 210-mile, seven-day, 4 mph wheelchair march from Mondovi, just south of Eau Claire, to the Capitol. It was led by a very determined woman named Jacki Rickert. We first met that day and have been friends ever since, trying to build awareness of what a difference this simple herb, cannabis, can make in seriously and chronically ill patients' lives.

This year on Sept. 18, Jacki and a number of patients in wheelchairs and on foot, accompanied by more than a dozen supporters and press, rolled up State Street to the Capitol in a "last mile" tribute to fallen patients.

Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, was waiting to greet Jacki. At a press conference, Boyle and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, announced they were introducing new state medical marijuana legislation appropriately titled "the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act."

I report this because readers may be unaware of these developments as the briefing lacked a Capital Times reporter.

In the last 10 years there have been dozens of drug recalls, widespread and growing painkiller addiction, and indications that excreted drugs enter our water supplies. Meanwhile, nontoxic herbal cannabis remains illegal for medicinal use.

Although polling has found that upward of 80 percent of Wisconsinites support legal access, most citizens seem to be content to leave it at that and allow frail, seriously ill patients like Jacki to carry the load.

As special interest bills get the fast track to passage, lack of legal access to medical cannabis puts patients on the fast track to an early grave.

Call and write your legislators early and often. Until people learn to exercise their support for medical marijuana by not just calling and writing, but also voting out those who find ways to justify this cruelty, the frail, the sick, the dying will be on their own.

As Jacki would say, "Just do something!"

Gary Storck, Is My Medicine Legal YET?, Madison

Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2007
Source: Capital Times, The (WI)



By Doug Snead and Stephen Young

Federal drug czar John Walters got rather excited last week after a new report suggested the price of cocaine is increasing in many American cities.

The czar read the report as happy proof that prohibitionists can indeed make one of their policies work sort of the way it's supposed to work (as long as they've got several billion dollars and several years to help the project along).

But, as usual, there could be other explanations. First, it's curious that this report comes in just as drug war contractors salivate over plans to partner with Mexico in the drug war. After so many years of dismal failure in the stated goals of Plan Colombia, isn't it interesting that a little alleged success comes as the strategy is being sold to another country?

Of course there could be a simple economic explanation too, given the drug czar's troubled relationship with economic facts, we wouldn't be surprised if he just didn't get it (or just doesn't want to get it).

The value of the U.S. dollar is sinking like a stone against, well, most currencies. The dollar buys less gold, buys less oil, buys fewer Pesos or Loonies than it did before.

So why do these "Victory Over Drugs" articles fail to mention that?

The U.S. dollar is inflating fast. It is buying less stuff then it used to. So when the U.S. dollar also buys marginally less cocaine than it did before, U.S. Prohibitionists now take credit?

"That's right, it's our drug war that made cocaine prices rise ten whole percent!"

Yeah, just like that there drug war "Victory" just made the price of oil, gold, copper, and imports (etc, etc) all get more expensive (in U.S. dollars), too.

It is not the "drug war" that is making cocaine prices rise, it is the debasing and inflation of the U.S. dollar that takes care of that.

Most prohibitionists seem to unwilling to consider the most basic law of economics when it comes to their crusade; this specific instance doesn't seem unusual.

This perceived victory may bring little short-term excitement to the prohibitionists, but if the price of cocaine really is rising, there's another group who's going to be celebrating even harder: methamphetamine cartels looking for market share in the illicit stimulant trade.

Doug Snead and Stephen Young are editors with DrugSense Weekly


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