This Just In
(1)Marijuana Activists Assemble Downtown
(2)Feds Raid Downtown L.A. Medical Marijuana Dispensary
(3)OPED: Europe: Curing, Not Punishing, Addicts
(4)In Mexico, A Fugitive's Arrest Captivates The Cameras

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Thursday more than 200 medical cannabis patients and advocates rallied in front of the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles demanding that he stand up for patients' rights and the will of California voters and lawmakers. Thursday evening the DEA and LAPD staged a raid on one of Los Angeles' most respected collectives, the Arts District Healing Center. Dozens of protesters turned out to defend the dispensary. The newspaper articles did not relate the two events, but we have to wonder if the DEA and the LAPD staged the raid when they did to thumb their nose at both the patients and California law.

Rick Steves, a speaker at the NORML convention Friday, tells it like it is. Your DrugSense Weekly staff wishes we could have attended the conference.

That people become folk heroes because they thumb their nose at drug laws is fairly common, which shows the ambivalence of the public towards the war on some drugs.


Pubdate: Fri, 12 Oct 2007
Source: Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Copley Press Inc.

About 200 pro-medical marijuana activists demonstrated Thursday outside Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in downtown Los Angeles, demanding he do more to end federal raids on cannabis clinics.

In a lively rally that lasted more than an hour, and was punctuated by the smell of pot, the protesters gathered outside the Ronald Reagan State Office Building to call on Schwarzenegger to urge the Bush administration to tell federal drug agents to back off.

Representatives from Schwarzenegger's office were not immediately available for comment.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine did not attend today's rally, but released a statement in support of the dispensaries.

"This year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments," he stated.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Norby, who also did not attend the rally, also expressed solidarity with the protesters via e-mail.

Norby urged Schwarzenegger to implement Proposition 215, the ballot initiative California voters approved in 1996 that legalized the sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law.




Pubdate: Fri, 12 Oct 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Federal agents seized marijuana and cash Thursday night from a medical marijuana dispensary in the loft district near Little Tokyo, officials said.

Twenty agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided the Arts District Healing Center in the 600 block of East 1st Street.

DEA spokesman Jose Martinez said the agents searched the two-story building for 3 1/4 hours.

There were no arrests.

Authorities had not determined as of late Thursday night the amount of cash and marijuana they seized, Martinez said.

The affidavit submitted by the DEA to search the offices stated that marijuana is classified as a schedule-one controlled substance, "which under federal law means that is not recognized for having any medicinal value."




Pubdate: Fri, 12 Oct 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Rick Steves

In Contrast to U.S. Policy, European Countries Focus on Harm Reduction -- and It Works.

Europe has a drug problem, and knows it. But the Europeans' approach to it is quite different from the American "war on drugs." I spend 120 days a year in Europe as a travel writer, so I decided to see for myself how it's working. I talked with locals, researched European drug policies and even visited a smoky marijuana "coffee shop" in Amsterdam. I got a close look at the alternative to a war on drugs.

Europeans are well aware of the U.S. track record against illegal drug use. Since President Nixon first declared the war on drugs in 1971, our country has locked up millions of its citizens and spent hundreds of billions of dollars (many claim that if incarceration costs are figured in, a trillion dollars) waging this "war." Despite these efforts, U.S. government figures show the overall rate of illicit drug use has remained about the same.

By contrast, according to the 2007 U.N. World Drug Report, the percentage of Europeans who use illicit drugs is about half that of Americans. (Europe also has fewer than half as many deaths from overdoses.) How have they managed that -- in Europe, no less, which shocks some American sensibilities with its underage drinking, marijuana tolerance and heroin-friendly "needle parks"?

Recently, in Zurich, Switzerland, I walked into a public toilet that had only blue lights. Why? So junkies can't find their veins. A short walk away, I saw a heroin maintenance clinic that gives junkies counseling, clean needles and a safe alternative to shooting up in the streets. Need a syringe? Cigarette machines have been retooled to sell clean, government-subsidized syringes.

While each European nation has its own drug laws and policies, they seem to share a pragmatic approach. They treat drug abuse not as a crime but as an illness. And they measure the effectiveness of their drug policy not in arrests but in harm reduction.


Meanwhile, according to FBI statistics, in recent years about 40% of the roughly 80,000 annual drug arrests were for marijuana -- the majority (80%) for possession.

In short, Europe is making sure that the cure isn't more costly than the problem. While the U.S. spends tax dollars on police, courts and prisons, Europe spends its taxes on doctors, counselors and clinics. EU policymakers estimate that they save 15 euros in police and health costs for each euro invested in drug education and counseling.

European leaders understand that a society has a choice: tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They've made their choice. We're still building more prisons.



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Oct 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: James C. McKinley Jr.

MEXICO CITY -- A woman who succeeds in a field dominated by men is always intriguing to the public, but when that field happens to be big-time cocaine trafficking, and the woman is graced with both charm and beauty, a criminal celebrity is born.

Ever since her arrest last month, Sandra Avila Beltran, better known as the Queen of the Pacific, has been getting the kind of press here that would have made Jesse James envious. Mexicans are closely following the case against her and the efforts to extradite her to United States, where she is wanted in Florida.

Prosecutors here say Ms. Avila Beltran, a shapely, raven-haired, 46- year-old with a taste for high fashion, has played an important role in forging a federation of drug traffickers in western Sinaloa State as well as creating an alliance between them and Colombian suppliers.

Along the way, she seduced many drug kingpins and upper-echelon police officers, becoming a powerful force in the cocaine world through a combination of ruthless business sense, a mobster's wiles and her sex appeal, prosecutors say.

It is a measure of her importance in the Mexican underworld that some Tijuana musicians have written a song in her honor. This "narco- corrido" extols her virtues as "a top lady who is a key part of the business." It has been played over and over on radio stations since her arrest.





Hawaiian education officials are still determining how to gently take away student rights without seeming too unconcerned. Vocal support for allowing school officials in the state to search student lockers came, not surprisingly, from the industry which will gain most from the new policy. In other education news, student activists in Maryland are trying every route to lighten up on marijuana users at a local college. And in New Hampshire, some college students are unhappy about what they see as overbearing police tactics, which relate to overbearing campus policies.


Pubdate: Sat, 06 Oct 2007
Source: Maui News, The (HI)
Copyright: 2007 The Maui News

HONOLULU - The state Board of Education tried to settle the contentious issue of allowing school officials to order student locker searches with drug-sniffing dogs late Thursday, but in the end decided to put off a decision.

With a 12-1 vote to defer a proposal to allow searches "with or without cause" for further consideration, the board said it is not satisfied with the proposal as written but could not decide on acceptable language Thursday night.

The state attorney general's office is expect to come up with new wording, but it was not clear whether there would be any significant change in the policy proposal that would expose student lockers to "open inspection and external dog sniff."




Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Whitney White

The Board of Education is considering the use of "drug-sniffing dogs" as a tool to fight the substance-abuse crisis in Hawai'i public schools. This program would use dogs that are proficient and certified to detect not only drugs, but alcohol, gunpowder and abused medications.

A detection-canine program is critically needed in Hawai'i schools. School canine programs have been proven to be effective and have been supported by courts across the country. News reports have pointed to U.S. Department of Justice findings that Hawai'i has the highest rate in the nation of high school students who drink on campus -- more than twice the national average. And our state is tied for second in the nation for marijuana use on campus.

A 2002 state Department of Health study reports that one in five high school seniors admits to having been drunk or "stoned" on campus; one in four needs treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse upon graduation. A 2003 study by the University of Hawai'i's Social Sciences Department reports that one in three Hawai'i high school students was "offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property." The same study reports that Hawai'i's youth are 26 percent more likely than Mainland counterparts to be offered or sold drugs on public school campuses.

Why does Hawai'i take top honors in this crisis? Perhaps because Hawai'i and Alaska are the only two states that have not been using detection canines in schools. Detection canines have been used in schools for more than 30 years across the Mainland. In 2003, two Hawai'i private schools began using this safety tool and continue to benefit from the results.




Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Diamondback
Author: Nathan Cohen

In a "last-ditch" effort to get better treatment for students accused of using drugs in dorms, university activists are asking resident assistants not to immediately call police or write students up if they smell or suspect drug use.

The university's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy is asking RAs to use discretion before calling police when they smell marijuana in their halls because of the harsh consequences that come with drug violations. Those punishments include expulsion from housing at the university level, and arrest and automatic loss of state and federal financial aid if the case enters the judicial system.

"As you know, university policy dictates that students caught with marijuana be automatically evicted from the residence halls and suspended or expelled," states the letter the group has distributed to most North Campus RAs. Over the next week, they expect to deliver a total of 250 letters. "But as you also know, most of your residents don't deserve such harsh punishments for a relatively minor and common offense."

After months of lobbying for looser punishments for students caught with marijuana, the Department of Resident Life budged slightly this summer. Previously, community directors who doled out punishments would automatically suspend residents from housing for at least a year. Now community assistants can simply suspend students for a semester or less if they have a "small" amount of marijuana. The punishments for any large amounts remains the same.

"Something we didn't want to suggest [in a policy change] was that the university would literally be more tolerant [of marijuana]," said Steven Petkas, associate director of Resident Life.

Unsatisfied with the change - which would have only saved four of 92 students accused of using marijuana in the dorms during the past two years, according to Petkas - the activists are using letters as a last resort to curb the number of students who get in trouble for marijuana violations in their rooms.




Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Keene Sentinel (NH)
Copyright: 2007 Keene Publishing Corporation.
Author: Jake Berry

FPU Dorm Locked While Search Warrant Obtained

RINDGE - The handcuffs that circled Robert Braverman's wrists made him more victim than villain in the eyes of the nearly 30 students who rallied in support Wednesday as police escorted him from his home at Franklin Pierce University.

"You're the bravest one of us, Rob," supporters shouted to Braverman, one of four students displaced from their on-campus house this week after Rindge police allegedly found marijuana paraphernalia.

"Stay strong. You'll be out soon," they said.

Parts of the campus community erupted in protest this week after Rindge police locked Braverman, a sophomore, and his roommates - juniors Jeff E. Bernier, Robert C. Nicholson and Skye Perry - out of their on-campus home, they said, while police obtained a search warrant.

But the student body grew even more enraged when Braverman was taken away in handcuffs, facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled drug.

"We're students," they shouted as police walked Braverman to the police cruiser. "Not criminals."




Our first two stories show again that law enforcement in small towns are not immune from drug corruption. In Portland, now that drug zone laws have been repealed, officials are trying to figure out why the laws impacted minorities much more heavily. And a first person story out of California show how the drug war has failed at the street level and what that failure is doing to one small neighborhood.


Pubdate: Tue, 02 Oct 2007
Source: Daily Jeffersonian, The (OH)
Copyright: 2007 Jeffersonian Co, LLC.
Author: Rick Stillion, The Daily Jeffersonian

COLUMBUS -- Three Zanesville police officers remained locked up in the Franklin County jail today following their arrest Monday on federal charges resulting from an alleged cocaine distribution ring.

Officers Sean Beck, 28, Trevor Fusner, 31, and Chad Mills, 29, were arrested by the FBI and Muskingum County sheriff's deputies on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

The locations of their arrests were not released by authorities.




Pubdate: Sun, 07 Oct 2007
Source: Star-News (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Wilmington Morning Star

Aiken, S.C. - Aiken County is dealing with the fallout of the firings of the sheriff's entire narcotics unit as prosecutors check cases made by the investigators and the county asks federal agents to help with drug crimes.

The four officers were fired Thursday by Sheriff Michael Hunt who said they drove unmarked, county-owned cars to bars last month. The sheriff said at least one woman performed a sex act on one of the officers as they drove around.

Hunt has asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate whether the officers misused government money, improperly destroyed evidence or committed other misconduct.

Prosecutor Barbara Morgan said how she handles the drug cases made by the fired investigators depends on whether they are charged with any crimes.




Pubdate: Tue, 2 Oct 2007
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2007 The Oregonian
Author: Andy Dworkin, The Oregonian Staff

Drug-Free Zones - Hidden Bias Is Among the Ideas Floated for Why More Blacks Were Cited

A vexing mystery faces Portland police: Why did they ban African Americans from the city's defunct drug-free zones more often than whites or Latinos?

The drug-free zones, which faded into oblivion Sunday, lost key political support last week when a report showed that police did not equally issue exclusion notices, which bar people arrested or cited on drug accusations from returning to the zones where the alleged crimes happened.

More than two-thirds -- 68.2 percent -- of the African Americans arrested got exclusion notices. That compares with 53.5 percent of the non-Latino whites arrested and 46.4 percent of Latinos arrested.

"Pretty obviously, there was racial disparity in the numbers. That's a huge concern," Police Chief Rosie Sizer said.

The numbers don't explain how that disparity came to be. But Portland officials have hypotheses ranging from hidden bias to inadequate training for police patrolling the most recently created East zone, which ran along 82nd Avenue.

Mayor Tom Potter commissioned the report by consultant John Campbell. Potter said the difference in arrests could share roots with "racial profiling," the concept that police stop and question minorities more often than they do whites. The mayor has started a committee to study whether Portland has a racial profiling problem, how bad it is and how to address it.




Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2007
Source: Inland Empire Weekly (Corona, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Inland Empire Weekly
Author: David Silva

Open drug dealing in a quiet Riverside neighborhood is perfectly ignorable if you're the police--but if you're a resident?

The neighbors to the right of us are moving, which bothers me like you wouldn't believe. Good neighbors are hard to come by, and these folks--a couple and their three small children--were good neighbors. My wife talked to the husband, who confirmed what we already knew: The family was moving to get away from the drug dealers.

If it were just he and his wife, they'd try to stick it out, he said. But they had kids to think about, and the dealers were a problem that wouldn't go away. They'd tried getting the city to do something, but nothing had been done and there was every reason to believe nothing would continue being done. For all practical purposes, our little corner of central Riverside had been ceded to the drug trade. No one at City Hall seemed to care, and the Riverside cops were invisible.

Was the husband bitter about any of this?

"I'm selling to the worst buyer I can find," he said. "For every car the buyer agrees to park on the grass, I'm dropping the price $10,000."

From what we could tell, the plight of the neighbors to the right of us affected the neighbors to the left of us not at all. Those neighbors, who we refer to as "the dealers next door" to distinguish them from our other neighbors, don't care about quality of life or property values, and they sure as hell don't care about who lives next to them. These neighbors--a constantly shifting assortment of parents, adult siblings, aunts, uncles and assorted nephews and nieces--appear to care about only one thing: making money as fast as they can by selling drugs to anyone who wants them.

With an invisible police department and a city hall that can't be bothered, business is booming.




The Canadian Medical Association Journal inexplicably published a target-rich oped for MAP letter writers. It seems chronic cannabis consumers face a 200 per cent risk of schizophrenia, a brain disorder exacerbated by stress.

A British mother who allowed her teenagers to raid her hashish stash concluded that there is "nothing relaxing about it if you think the police are going to burst into your home at any moment."

Would-be presidents Giuliani, McCain and Romney were agitated by wheelchair-bound patients asking if and why they should worry about federal agents bursting into their homes.

Is the fastest way to a cold heart through the stomach? Is the slippery slope lubricated with Canadian hemp oil?

 (13) REEFER MADNESS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 09 Oct 2007
Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Canadian Medical Association
Webpage: Author: Margret Kopala

Studies have suggested that as many as 1 in 4 cannabis users may be genetically at risk for developing schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder. Now, a new study reveals all users are at risk.

Given recent United Nations' statistics citing Canada as the industrial world's leading consumer of cannabis, this news should set alarm bells ringing. After all, a leading role in cannabis consumption sets the stage for a leading role in psychotic disorders. Instead, Canada's mainstream media responded in chorus from The Happy Hippy Hymn Book, failing to notice that it is 10 years out of date.

"Legalizing pot makes sense," intoned a National Post editorial earlier this summer, while a Globe and Mail article entitled "The True North Stoned and Free" giggled about Canada's "little pot habit."

Schizophrenia, a severe form of psychosis, is a brain disorder that typically produces delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disturbances in problem solving, memory and concentration, along with depressed mood, anxiety and social withdrawal. Its causes are not fully understood though environmental stressors (e.g., childhood trauma, neglect) are thought to interact with genes to produce disruptions in brain chemistry.


According to a recent study, 14% of British patients with schizophrenia could have avoided the illness if they had not used cannabis. This meta-analysis also reveals that while the issue of whether cannabis causes psychosis remains unclear, the risk of developing psychosis from cannabis use by the general population, irrespective of age or genes, is 41%. For heavy users - defined as daily or weekly - the risk is in the range of 50% to 200%.




Pubdate: Tue, 09 Oct 2007
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Author: Andrew Levy

A teaching assistant who gave her children cannabis was spared jail yesterday after a judge heard she did it to stop them visiting street dealers.

Nicola Cooper, 43, intervened when she learned her teenage son and daughter had experimented with the drug.

She feared they would be lured into trying harder drugs and become involved in crime.

When police raided her home they found 116 grams of cannabis resin, worth UKP200.

Cooper could have been jailed but a district judge ordered her to 200 hours' community work after hearing about her good character.

She had already quit her job following her arrest earlier this year.

Speaking after the hearing, Cooper insisted she had "done the right thing" to keep her children away from dealers.

But she added: "I don't want my children involved in it any more.

"I think I was very lucky today. I could have been given a much heavier sentence or even jailed.

"The kids would just come down and say, 'Do you mind if we pinch a little smoke because we fancy one?'

"I regret breaking the law and feel sorry for that.

"Some people give their children alcohol and cigarettes at an early age - but I gave mine cannabis."


Cooper, a former nursery nurse, nanny and ceramics painter, added after the case that while she had smoked cannabis since her teens, she had often gone without it for long periods.

"I don't want to touch it again," she said.

"The whole point was that it was a relaxing thing. But there is nothing relaxing about it if you think the police are going to burst into your home at any moment."




Pubdate: Mon, 8 Oct 2007
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2007 Creators Syndicate
Author: Steve Chapman, Creators Syndicate

Through all his years in politics, despite the endless obligation to shake hands, smile for the cameras and coax money out of contributors, John McCain has somehow avoided becoming a complete phony - something that John Edwards and Mitt Romney managed to achieve within a week of entering politics. Annoy McCain, and you won't have to wait long to find out.

Even a sickly, soft-spoken woman in a wheelchair gets no pass from him. The other day, at a meeting with voters in New Hampshire, Linda Macia mentioned her use of medical marijuana and politely asked his position on permitting it. Barely were the words out of her mouth before the Arizona senator spun on his heel, stalked away and heaped scorn on the idea.

"You may be one of the unique cases in America that only medical marijuana can relieve pain from," he said, in a skeptical tone. "Every medical expert I know of, including the AMA, says there are much more effective and much more, uh, better treatments for pain." He also ridiculed the notion that police would arrest patients for using marijuana as medicine.

It's refreshing that McCain is willing to state his position with such unvarnished candor. It would be even better if he knew what he was talking about.


The mystery is not why anyone believes cannabis can be safe and effective therapy. The mystery is why so many politicians, particularly Republican presidential candidates - Ron Paul, a physician, being the heroic exception - are unwilling to consider the possibility, or to leave the matter up to the states. It's not even clear their hardline stance is smart politics in their own party.



 (16) GREAT HEMP HOPE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 11 Oct 2007
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Wayne Roberts

Is Barrie Farmer's Hemp Oil The Key To The Future Of Ontario Agriculture?

"Rope, not dope" was my slogan some years back, when I was involved in a successful campaign (yes, we do win some battles) to legalize industrial hemp in Canada.

My eye was on the 25,000 industrial products hemp was thought to offer, a farm-friendly, pesticide-free, green source for everything from clothing to rope to paper to plastic.

It never occurred to me that food would be first out of the gate once the plant was legalized.

But it did occur to Greg Herriott, who was then running a design shop that had just won acclaim for producing a reusable takeout coffee cup.

Herriott understood that paper, clothing and plastic are volume businesses. Manufacturers won't switch inputs until they can be guaranteed a continuous and reliable supply. So the place to start ramping up the volume of the hemp supply was food, he figured.

Food products are small-scale, niche-friendly and offer a base for independent entrepreneurs who can substitute sweat and chutzpah for equity a gateway industry, so to speak.

As soon as he tasted some hemp oil in 1993, Herriott was hooked. "It was a no-brainer, since it could work itself into gourmet and health circles," he said, referring to the rich store of essential fatty acids and antioxidants that make hemp oil an alternative to flax and fish oils, the latter not an option for vegans or those concerned about mercury contamination.




Pressure mounts on U.S.-installed Afghan "president" Hamid Karzai to allow the U.S. to put chemicals on Afghan poppy crops. Like the proverbial pusher trying to foist unwanted chemicals on his little brother, U.S. officials are again trying to "persuade" Karzai to give in and take the spray according to a report in this week's San Jose Mercury News. Of course, "Bush administration officials say they will respect whatever decision the Afghan government makes on the matter."

In Canada this week, a chorus of articles across the country gave Prime Minister Steven Harper rotten tomatoes for his blatant electioneering of the drugs issue. The Vancouver Courier this week saw Harper's handling of Insite as playing politics. "This is simply a delaying tactic to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his minority government past the next general election. Once it's over, the injection site will be shut down."

The Edmonton Criminal Trial Lawyers Association saw Harper's mandatory minimum sentences for drugs announcement last week as "electioneering", also. Quoted in the Edmonton Journal last week, association president Brian Hurley describes Harper as, "a man in full election mode who would like nothing better than his government to be brought down on a piece of legislation for mandatory minimum drug sentences... This is about a callous, callous effort by Mr. Harper to win votes and get a majority."

And from the U.K. this week, police chief Richard Brunstrom of North Wales joins the ranks of police officials who have denounced the prohibition of drugs, calling present drugs laws "not fit for purpose" and "immoral," labeling the drug war "unwinnable." Said Police Chief Brunstrom, "The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 should be repealed and replaced by a new Substance Misuse Act based upon the legalisation and careful regulation of all substances of abuse in one consistent manner... one based upon evidence, not moralistic dogma."


Pubdate: Tue, 09 Oct 2007
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Authors: Kirk Semple and Tim Golden, New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan - After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan's history, U.S. officials have renewed efforts to persuade the Afghan government to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai's administration, officials of both countries said.

Since early this year, Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.

But Afghan officials said that the Karzai administration was now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.


"There has always been a need to balance the obvious greater effectiveness of spray against the potential for losing hearts and minds," said Thomas Schweich, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics issues.

Bush administration officials say they will respect whatever decision the Afghan government makes on the matter. Crop-eradication efforts, they insist, are only part of a broad, new counter-narcotics strategy that will include increased efforts against traffickers, more aid for legal agriculture and development and greater military support for the drug fight.




Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Vancouver Courier
Author: Allen Garr

No one should have any illusion about Ottawa's decision to grant the supervised injection site a six-month extension.

Rather than breathing a sigh of relief at Tory Health Minister Tony Clement's curt announcement Tuesday, people were outraged. Former mayors, leading scientists and community activists have all come to the same cynical conclusion: This is simply a delaying tactic to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his minority government past the next general election. Once it's over, the injection site will be shut down.


Meanwhile, qualified scientists have been refusing the work in droves. And not just because of the short time frame. Ottawa is insisting on a gag rule in all its contracts. People involved in the research are prohibited from talking about their results publicly until six months after their work is completed.


The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at UBC had one project approved but turned it down. Both UBC's lawyers and the university's research ethics board considered the gag order "unethical."

Further, an article in Open Medicine by University of Toronto researcher Stephen Hwang, signed by 130 Canadian doctors, scientists and public health public health professionals, denounced Clement saying: "Scientific evidence is about to be trumped by ideology."

And do the Tories care? Apparently not.



Pubdate: Sat, 06 Oct 2007
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Duncan Thorne, The Edmonton Journal

Mandatory Minimum Sentences Don't Work, Local Criminal Trial Lawyers Group Says

EDMONTON - The Harper government's promise of mandatory jail sentences for drug pushers is repugnant electioneering, says the Edmonton Criminal Trial Lawyers Association.

The federal government knows through its own studies that mandatory minimum sentences don't work, association president Brian Hurley said Friday.


Harper announced his government will introduce legislation this fall to impose minimum jail terms for making and trafficking dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine. He has suggested the defeat of major government bills may trigger an election.

"This is a man in full election mode who would like nothing better than his government to be brought down on a piece of legislation for mandatory minimum drug sentences," Hurley said.

"This is about a callous, callous effort by Mr. Harper to win votes and get a majority," he said. "To do something as significant as to change the criminal code in a way you know is not going to be helpful, for pure electioneering, is just repugnant."


The promise of minimum prison terms comes as federal prosecutors, who handle drug prosecutions in Alberta, are negotiating for higher pay. Most of the 2,900 federal prosecutors across Canada were unionized last year, under the Association of Justice Counsel.




Pubdate: Thu, 11 Oct 2007
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Associated Newspapers Ltd

Controversial police chief Richard Brunstrom has called for the legalisation and regulation of all drugs in a report published today.

Mr Brunstrom, the chief constable of North Wales, described the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as "not fit for purpose" and "immoral" and urged its repeal.

Mr Brunstrom, in a report to North Wales police authority, described the current UK drugs strategy as "unwinnable".

He said: "The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 should be repealed and replaced by a new Substance Misuse Act based upon the legalisation and careful regulation of all substances of abuse in one consistent manner."

Mr Brunstrom urged his authority to support the stance in its response to the Government's Drugs: Our Community, Your Say consultation paper.

In a 30-page document - Drugs Policy, A Radical Look Ahead - Mr Brunstrom said: "UK drugs policy for the last several decades has been based upon prohibition with a list of banned substances placed into three classes - the ABC system - and draconian criminal penalties for the possession or supply of controlled drugs.

"This system has not worked well. Illegal drugs are now in plentiful supply, and have become consistently cheaper in real terms over the years.

"The number of users has increased dramatically. Drug crime has soared equally dramatically as a direct consequence of the illegality of some drugs and the huge profits from illegal trading have supported a massive rise in organised criminality.

"Most importantly, the current system illogically excludes both alcohol and tobacco.

"A new classification system, a 'hierarchy of harm' encompassing all substances of abuse and based upon identified social harms, should, in my opinion, be at the centre of a new substance misuse regime - one based upon evidence, not moralistic dogma."



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


GAO-08-146T, October 10, 2007

GAO found thousands of allegations of abuse, some of which involved death, at residential treatment programs across the country and in American-owned and American-operated facilities abroad between the years 1990 and 2007.


By Rob Kampia

What else could we spend $42 billion each year on? Health insurance for kids? Better paid teachers? It's our choice.


An Advocacy Guide for Civil Society

This advocacy guide, published by the International Drug Policy Consortium, serves as an introduction to the structure and operation of the UN drug control system, and describes the forthcoming process of review leading to the political meeting in 2009. It also introduces the advocacy themes that the IDPC will be working on throughout this process, and invites like-minded NGOs to become involved.


10/10/07: Celebrating 6 Years of Drug Truth, Mike Smithson LEAP, Kevin Zeese, Bruce Mirken + Canada's PM, Marc Emery, Poppygate & more!

09/28/07: Sanho Tree situation in Colombia + Poppygate & Bruce Mirken Marijuana Policy Project

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By Peter Guither

Most people know that the "drug czar" -- the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) -- is an advocate for the government position regarding the drug war. But not everyone knows that he and his office are mandated to tell lies as part of their Congressional authorization.


Stanton Peele says other cultures have figured it out. He points to Italy, Greece and Israel, where children are given small amounts of wine at religious celebrations or watered-down alcohol on special occasions.

But many other experts say the psychologist is off base. "That's ridiculous," says Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. "By allowing teens to drink," Fay says, "you are giving permission to your children to do harmful things."



Demand Action for Safe Access!

As the presidential primaries get closer and closer, we need to know where all the candidates stand on important medical marijuana issues. Call, write, and ask the candidates in person on their campaign trail where they stand on medical marijuana.


Largely due to the unpopular war in Iraq, the U.S. Military is having trouble meeting its recruiting goals.

To make up for the enlistment shortcomings, the Bush administration has loosened restrictions and is granting more so-called "character waivers" to allow more people with drug convictions to sign up.

Meanwhile, President Bush and some of his friends in Congress support a law that has prevented 200,000 aspiring students from getting the financial aid they need to afford college just because they have drug convictions (most often for misdemeanor marijuana possession).

Take action now and tell Congress to have the character it takes to give young people all the opportunities they need for success.




By Craig Jones

Re: Tories Take Harder Line On Illegal Drug Users, Oct. 5.

The Conservative government's antidrug strategy -- relying heavily on prohibition, punishment and fear mongering -- empowers organized crime, stigmatizes already marginalized people and further endangers the health and lives of persons battling addictions. Although we don't have the actual strategy in front of us yet, it is telling that the words "evidence-based" and "harm reduction" appear nowhere in the Prime Minister's remarks.

There is no reason to think that what has not worked for the last 40 years, and what has swollen the U.S. prison population beyond those of China and Russia, will produce any positive effect on drug use or abuse in Canada.

And mandatory minimum sentences are unjust because they punish classes of crimes rather than individual wrong-doers.

After 40 years of "getting tough" by following the failed U.S. war on drugs model, street prices for most drugs are lower, their purity is higher and their availability is better. If the Conservatives would listen to their own experts, they would have devised a very different, much more humane, just, effective, compassionate and evidence-based drug strategy.

But this is not it.

Craig Jones, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, Kingston, Ont.

Pubdate: Sat, 06 Oct 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)


four letters published during September, bringing his career total that we know of to 113. Matt does this in spare cycles while leading the Drug Policy Central webmastering team. Check out his home page at

You may read Matt's published letters here:


Is Justice Just A Matter Of Perspective?  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

Editing this newsletter each week offers an opportunity not only to see how the drug war works, but to see how news works.

Despite claims of objectivity, the news media is informed (sometimes dictated) by particular perspectives, just as judgements about drug prohibition are impacted by personal observations of the drug war in action.

In recent weeks, two different reporters at two different newspapers in two different states wrote essentially the same story in an almost completely contradictory way.

Both stories were about police generating revenue by seizing the assets of alleged drug suspects. But one story started like this: "Even if you're a law-abiding citizen who's never been convicted of a crime, local police are allowed to confiscate your property and money and keep up to 80 percent of it for themselves, with the legal stipulation that this windfall be spent only on programs likely to result in additional confiscations where the police can keep up to 80 percent of the booty for themselves."

This is the opening of the second story: " If a criminal conviction, the potential loss of freedom and a ruined reputation aren't enough to get drug dealers to say no to the lucrative trade, how about homelessness?"

The first story was written by Jennifer Abel and published in Connecticut's Hartford Advocate ( see ). This thoughtful piece contains direct quotes from a variety of experts on the subject, and like most great reporting, asks uncomfortable questions about the status quo.

The second story, by Mary Schenk, was published in the News-Gazette out of Champaign, IL ( see ). Every source quoted in the piece works for an agency which benefits from forfeiture.

To describe the anecdotes in Schenk's story as self-serving is an astonishing understatement. Calling the piece a press release instead of a news story doesn't convey the sycophantism at work; it's actually more of a love letter (or at least a crush note).

The author would likely protest that she was just conveying the opinions and statements of the subjects. Which is not completely untrue, but journalists are taught that there are at least two sides to every story. For too long the drug war has been a one-sided story in which only the prohibitionists had a voice - those individuals subject to the laws were more like mute props merely tossed in to add realism to certain scenes.

Now, there are more reporters who are willing to interview sources who challenge the drug war, as Abel's excellent piece shows.

Articles that allow uncritical cheerleading for the drug war simply aren't telling the whole story - which is why MAP exists. The Media Awareness Project of DrugSense has likely helped to accelerate this process of getting more perspectives out in the open - so why not show your support and offer a donation today at

You may help others understand how one side of the story just isn't enough.

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly.


"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." - Albert Camus

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Policy and Law Enforcement/Prison content selection and analysis by Stephen Young (, This Just In selection by Richard Lake (, International content selection and analysis by Doug Snead (, Cannabis/Hemp content selection and analysis, Hot Off The Net selection and Layout by Matt Elrod ( Analysis comments represent the personal views of editors, not necessarily the views of DrugSense.

We wish to thank all our contributors, editors, NewsHawks and letter writing activists. Please help us help reform. Become a NewsHawk See for info on contributing clippings.

NOTICE:  ( Top )

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