This Just In
(1)Editorial: Marijuana And College Aid
(2)Oped: Revisit Crack Sentences
(3)Medical Marijuana Business Opens In Livingston
(4)Dan Rather Here To Show Ugly Side Of Vancouver

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


(1) EDITORIAL: MARIJUANA AND COLLEGE AID

Pubdate: Fri, 02 Nov 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company

Anything that keeps ex-offenders from attending college makes it more likely that they will be caught in the revolving door that leads to prison. Tens of thousands of people have been pushed in that direction since the 1990s when Congress passed a law that barred even minor drug offenders from receiving federal education aid. The law applies even to offenses so minor that they are normally punished by probation, a small fine or community service.

Congress softened the law last year, eliminating a provision that denied assistance to people with even petty drug offenses more than a decade old. Now it's time to repeal the remaining part of the law, which affects students who commit crimes while actually receiving aid.

The law is wrong-headed on several counts. It primarily affects low-income students and exempts the wealthy, who don't need aid to attend college. It targets young people of color, who are disproportionately prosecuted for drug offenses and already less likely to complete college. It does not deter drug use, especially among addicts who need treatment to break their habits.

Beyond that, young people who commit errors in judgment, as young people can be counted on to do, are penalized twice -- once by the courts and once by the student aid system. They are also placed at risk of never getting an education at all.

Federal college aid was never intended to be used as a weapon of enforcement. Any attempt to employ it that way inevitably results in perverse and unintended results.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1265/a04.html



 (2) OPED: REVISIT CRACK SENTENCES  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 02 Nov 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Harlan Protass

Congress Nixed Outrageous Prison Terms for Crack Offenders, but the Decision Should Be Applied Retroactively.

[snip]

This week, Congress finally tacitly conceded that crack-related penalties are too harsh. On Thursday, lawmakers let pass into law new guidelines proposed by the Sentencing Commission that will cut crack prison terms by an average of just over two years, with the amount of narcotics involved still playing the determining factor in the length of sentences.

Now the commission needs to finish the job. On Nov. 13, it will hold a public hearing to consider whether the new scheme should be applied retroactively -- a move that could potentially reduce the sentences of nearly 20,000 men and women currently incarcerated for crimes involving crack. Backed by Congress' silent support, retroactive application is the right thing to do for the following reasons:

First, myths about crack, on which the 1980s laws were based, have been debunked. When those laws were introduced, Congress believed that crack was instantly addicting. Lawmakers feared that a generation of "crack babies" would plague the nation for years to come and believed there was a direct link between crack use and the commission of violent crimes.

It turns out that lawmakers were wrong. Relying on a finding detailed in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., the Sentencing Commission recently reported to Congress that crack is pharmacologically indistinguishable from, and produces harms no more severe than, powder cocaine, even to the unborn. The commission's research also showed that crack's use never reached the epidemic proportions that so many expected and that its consumption bears no higher correlation to violent crime than does that of other drugs.

What's more, the laws' objective of targeting high-level drug traffickers largely failed. The majority of crack offenders doing time today were street dealers, couriers and lookouts.

[snip]

Second, the 1980s' crack laws disproportionately affect minorities. About 80% of the 25,000 federal defendants jailed for crack offenses during the last five years have been black. This has created the perception that federal drug laws intentionally discriminate against minorities. If the new sentencing scheme is not applied retroactively, this perception will be perpetuated, further eroding confidence in the judicial system and respect for the law.

Third, Congress, in establishing the Sentencing Commission and enacting federal sentencing guidelines in 1987, specifically sought to eliminate incongruent penalties imposed on similarly situated defendants. If the commission does not apply the new crack penalty structure to those convicted before Nov. 1, it will undermine its own cause. Moreover, retroactive application is consistent with past modifications to other drug penalties, such as those for LSD, marijuana and oxycodone.

Finally, retroactive application would place no extraordinary burden on the courts. The primary fact necessary to recalculate prison time - -- the amount of crack involved -- already would have been determined in connection with offenders' original cases. Thus, while the courts likely would be flooded with requests for changed sentences, they wouldn't have to hold new hearings. Most motions could be dealt with on paper. Experience with other recent changes to federal sentencing laws has shown that the system is capable of revisiting many thousands of cases when justice so requires.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1267/a01.html



 (3) MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUSINESS OPENS IN LIVINGSTON  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 02 Nov 2007
Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT)
Copyright: 2007 The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Author: Scott McMillion, Chronicle Staff Writer

Three years ago, Montana voters decided by a 62 percent margin that marijuana should be available for medical purposes.

No issue or candidate had received that sort of statewide endorsement for 25 years.

Since then, a network of suppliers and users has been created around the state, working under new laws that limit the amount of marijuana that can be grown and sold and who can do it.

Mostly, it's been done quietly, under the radar, in part because providing marijuana remains a federal crime.

Now, two Livingston residents have opened a medical marijuana service and are doing so openly.

[snip]

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has issued what users call "green cards" to 468 people whose doctors have decided that cannabis can help them. It also has issued "caregiver" cards to 167 people who can grow up to six plants for each patient.

However, most of those people provide marijuana for only one person, usually a spouse, relative or close friend, according to Roy Kemp, who runs the medical marijuana registry program for the state health department.

Minnick and Rusio are among the 23 "caregivers," who legally grow and sell medical marijuana to multiple patients. Minnick said he started his medical marijuana business four months ago for two reasons: to help sick people and to make some money.

[snip]

Kemp said 135 medical doctors and osteopaths work with the program, but he isn't allowed to give their names to anybody. Nor can he provide names or discuss any specific patients or caregivers.

[snip]

"As long as he's operating in compliance with the law, he's legal, and I guess we'll act accordingly," Livingston Police Chief Darren Raney said of Minnick's marijuana business.

The federal government could be another issue. Officials have cracked down on medical marijuana operations in California and on a patient in Missoula who obtained marijuana through the mail, but so far haven't busted any Montana caregivers.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1266/a07.html



 (4) DAN RATHER HERE TO SHOW UGLY SIDE OF VANCOUVER  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 02 Nov 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Miro Cernetig, Vancouver Sun

The Downtown Eastside, the poorest neighbourhood in Canada, has long been a time-bomb this city has never bothered to defuse. Now it's about to explode on the international stage. Dan Rather, one of the best and most famous U.S. TV journalists of his generation, is in Vancouver for the next few days with a news crew.

His subject is the drug- and crime-infested neighbourhood in Vancouver's heart, our very own made-in-Canada ghetto that could hold its own with any in Rather's home country.

This is not going to be the sort of report the board of trade will be touting.

Some unflattering international attention became inevitable the day Vancouver won the competition to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, of course.

[snip]

When Rather sat down with Mayor Sam Sullivan Thursday, the newsman asked whether the world would see the "Dickensian" underbelly of Vancouver in 2010.

He zeroed in on the mayor's drug policy and the Insite project, which helps addicts to inject illegally obtained heroin. Isn't the mayor "mollycoddling" drug users, prostitutes and ne'er-do-wells in the Downtown Eastside? the Texan asked. And what of U.S. officials who contend it is tantamount to "state-assisted suicide?"

Sullivan likened addiction to his life as a quadriplegic: a disability people need help with. "I need help managing my disability, just like they need help managing their disability."

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1267/a02.html


 WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW  ( Top )




COMMENTS: ( Top )

Despite the state and federal crackdown on meth (and users of common cold medicine as we head into flu season) through limitations on precursors, meth labs continue to sprout up in certain areas. In other news, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the mere presence of drugs in house does not necessarily constitute child endangerment; an outspoken and persecuted medical marijuana activist ended her life; and sometimes evil pro-drug messages lurkeverywhere, even in anti-drug bracelets.



 (5) METH LABS CONTINUE TO BE PROBLEM  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 26 Oct 2007
Source: Missourian (MO)
Copyright: Washington Missourian 2007
Author: Ed Pruneau, Missourian Managing Editor

The Head Of Franklin County's Drug Task Force Said Missouri Is On Track To Being No. 1 Again This Year In Meth Labs Seizures.

"Missouri will lead the nation again in meth labs," predicted Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit ( FCNEU ).

Grellner said Missouri authorities expect the number of meth lab seizures to reach between 1,000 and 1,200 by the end of the year. Nearly 50 percent of those will be in the St. Louis region which includes Franklin County and other nearby counties.

While Missouri will remain at the top, the actual number of labs seized will be down from last year, Grellner said.

Despite passage of new state and federal laws that restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine, "labs continue to be a problem," Grellner said.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1241/a02.html



 (6) JUSTICES SAY DRUGS IN HOME MAY NOT ENDANGER KIDS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 27 Oct 2007
Source: Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, UT)
Copyright: 2007 Deseret News Publishing Corp.
Author: Geoffrey Fattah, Deseret Morning News

The Utah Supreme Court has ruled a child must have "reasonable" access to drugs in order for a parent to be charged under the child-endangerment statute. Prosecutors say the ruling narrows their ability to charge drug-dealing parents under the statute, but they have already worked on a remedy to amend the law during the next legislative session.

The ruling stems from two separate drug cases in which two women were arrested on drug and drug paraphernalia possession charges while children were in the homes. Both defendants were charged with child endangerment.

In one case, parole officers visited a home to conduct an inspection. During the inspection, officers noticed that four children were in the home, a 2-year-old asleep on a sofa and three in an upstairs bedroom, including an infant. Upon entering the adults' bedroom, they noticed an open purse sitting on top of a dresser with a plastic bag containing what appeared to be drugs. The parolee's girlfriend claimed that the bag belonged to her, and she was arrested along with her boyfriend. Further investigation turned up another bag with two rocks of cocaine.

In a second case, Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies searched a woman's home on a tip there was a meth lab. When deputies arrived, the woman appeared to be moving out of the home. One deputy testified that he "could smell the odor of a methamphetamine lab from the curb." In a detached garage officers found items indicating a meth lab. In the home's basement, officers found a glass pipe wrapped in tissue paper on a closet shelf. In another downstairs bedroom, methamphetamine was found. During the investigation, the woman's 13-year-old daughter was in the living room.

In both cases, the women were charged with possession of either drugs or drug paraphernalia and child endangerment. Both then argued in court that the state failed to establish enough probable cause. The court, however, bound them over on the charges.

In Friday's ruling, the justices said that a case needs more than just the presence of drugs in a home in order for child endangerment to apply. The law "requires a real, physical risk of harm to a child; the child must have the reasonable capacity to access the substance or paraphernalia or to be subject to its harmful effects, such as by inhalation," the justices wrote in a unanimous opinion.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1246/a03.html



 (7) MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATE KILLS HERSELF  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 27 Oct 2007
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2007 Missoulian
Author: Michael Moore, of the Missoulian

Robin Prosser, a Missoula woman who struggled for a quarter century to live with the pain of an immunosuppressive disorder, tried years ago to kill herself. Last week, she tried again. This time, she succeeded.

After her earlier attempt failed, Proser wound up in even more trouble after investigating police found marijuana in her home. She used the marijuana to help cope with pain.

That marijuana charge was eventually dropped in an agreement with the city of Missoula, and Prosser had reason to rejoice in 2004 when Montanans passed a law allowing medical use of the drug.

She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were "protecting people from their own state laws" by seizing such shipments.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1242/a15.html



 (8) COMPANY DUMPS ANTI-DRUG BRACELET  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 26 Oct 2007
Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)
Copyright: 2007 The Hawk Eye
Author: Craig T. Neises

Unintended Message Not the One Business Wants to Convey.

WAYLAND -- Acknowledging that design got in the way of meaning, a New York state promotional products company will stop producing and discard the remaining inventory of Red Ribbon Week bracelets that were provided to students here this week.

The bracelet, which carried the slogan "I've Got BETTER Things To DO Than DRUGS," was called into question by some parents of WACO Junior/Senior High School students because of the unintended message suggested by the all-uppercase words: Better do drugs.

Mark Taxel, executive vice president of Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Positive Promotions, said the bracelet was among the top-selling items in the company's merchandise catalog, but no one there noticed how the words looked on the bracelet and could impede the message.

"( Overall ) it's a good message," he said by telephone Thursday.

Taxel said his company received just two concerned phone calls about the bracelet. But whether it is two or a million, he said the company doesn't want to put out a product whose message could be misconstrued.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1248/a03.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

At least one jury in California has started to wonder if some DEA informants aren't more trouble than good. In Hawaii, impatience and poor police work by a narcotics squad left one innocent family terrorized and the county short of $325,000. And, the drug corruption within law enforcement, and its aftermath, continues to play out around the nation.



 (9) WESTERN ADDITION DRUG PROSECUTIONS HOBBLED BY DEA INFORMANT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 28 Oct 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer

Last year, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong asked for help from federal authorities to fight drug-fueled violence in the city's crime-plagued Western Addition.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration responded in June by deploying its Mobile Enforcement Team - which relied on a paid federal informant who lived among and reported on drug dealers.

The four-month operation that followed netted arrests of more than two dozen alleged members of the Chopper City and Knockout Posse ( KOP ) street gangs, DEA officials proudly announced last fall.

"Mobile Enforcement Teams were designed to hit hard, fast and accurately," Javier Pena, the special agent in charge of the agency in San Francisco, said in a news release at the time. "The results of this collaborative crackdown speak for themselves."

But now that the first trials of one of the Western Addition defendants have played out at San Francisco's Hall of Justice, juror reviews of the touted Mobile Enforcement Team leave plenty to be desired.

The defendant, a 28-year-old alleged gang member named Sala Thorn, also known as Sly, was acquitted on two counts of felony drug trafficking over the course of two trials in which the key informant's credibility was all but demolished.

As if that weren't bad enough for local law enforcement authorities - they had to watch Thorn, who had previously been acquitted of murder and robbery, returned to the street. Several other defendants arrested on evidence provided by the same informant are headed to trial in San Francisco - and prosecutors are starting to feel the reverberations as far as Stockton, where the same informant was key to making dozens of arrests in an operation that ended in July.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1247/a04.html



 (10) 'WRONG HOUSE' RAID COSTS COUNTY $325K  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
Source: Garden Island (Lihue, HI)
Copyright: 2007 Kauai Publishing Co.
Author: Amanda C. Gregg

The couple baby-sitting their grandchildren when police mistook their home for a drug dealer's residence has been awarded a $325,000 settlement, their attorney said yesterday.

Police had been tracking a package that allegedly contained 11 pounds of marijuana that had been picked up at the Koloa post office by a man who was driving a Toyota truck on March 15, 2005, according to court documents.

Though police followed the car onto Kaumuali'i Highway and onto a private road with seven houses, when the transmitter inside the box went off indicating the package had been opened, police had lost visual contact with the vehicle.

That's when, without a warrant authorizing entrance into the home of William and Sharon McCulley, but rather with an "anticipatory search warrant" that authorized them to search any property where the marijuana was transported, police entered their home.

Though the Toyota truck they had been following and the transported box wasn't at the McCulley's home, police then threw Sharon McCulley on the ground next to her grandchild and handcuffed her, pressing a gun so hard into her head it left a circular mark, according to the complaint.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1250/a02.html



 (11) NHPD NARCOTICS COP PLEADS GUILTY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 29 Oct 2007
Source: Yale Daily News (CT Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Yale Daily News
Author: Patrick Lee

Former Lt. White Changes Original Plea

Former New Haven Police Department Lt. William "Billy" White, who headed the department's narcotics unit for more than a decade, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit bribery and theft of government property.

White's change of plea status -- he pleaded not guilty shortly after his arrest last March -- may result in a lesser sentence than if had he not changed his plea and had then been found guilty. White's decision follows close on the heels of guilty pleas by former NHPD Detectives Jose Silva and Justen Kasperzyk, two other subjects of the federal investigation.

Following White and Kasperzyk's arrest, the NHPD disbanded the narcotics unit and the city hired the Police Executive Research Forum to evaluate the NHPD. At forums since the original arrests, some city residents expressed frustration with a department they said has lost sight of community policing.

City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the three former police officers do not represent the general conduct of the rest of New Haven's police force.

"It's important for the community to understand that this is three officers who did despicable things," Mayorga said. "These ... officers do not represent the hard work of those 400 other officers."

White has been charged with one count of bribery conspiracy -- for which he faces up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine -- and two counts of government property theft, which could lead to 10 years and $250,000 in penalties. White must also pay restitution for the stolen federal and local funds and forfeit the money he gained from the bribery conspiracy, which will total over $25,000.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1256/a02.html



 (12) SHERIFF'S OFFICE NARCOTICS OFFICERS FIRED  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 26 Oct 2007
Source: Aiken Standard (SC)
Copyright: 2007sAiken Standard

Visibly shaken, Aiken County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Dwayne Courtney choked back tears last Thursday, saying his agency has been "knocked to its knees" by revelations of betrayal and misconduct within the ranks.

The allegations center on four narcotics officers who spent a night bar-hopping and picking up women in the Augusta and North Augusta areas. At least one illicit sex act in an unmarked county vehicle was alleged in a press release issued by the Sheriff's Office.

The four narcotic investigators have been fired and another has been suspended, wiping out the entire narcotics team at the agency and calling into question the status of a number of previous, ongoing and pending drug cases in and around Aiken County.

Sheriff Michael Hunt has called on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct a full criminal investigation.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1249/a04.html



 (13) FLIP TO DRUG TRADE GETS NARCOTICS TASK FORCE DEPUTY EIGHT YEARS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 27 Oct 2007
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Lynn Brezosky

A former narcotics task force deputy who admitted using his position to squeeze money from drug dealers was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in federal prison followed by 200 hours of community service after his release.

Julio Alfonso Lopez, 46, of Zapata, pleaded guilty in July 2006 to extorting $44,500 from drug traffickers to "protect" drug loads coming through Zapata County on the Mexican border.

Meliton Valadez, 33, who pleaded guilty to acting as the middle man between drug traffickers and Lopez, was sentenced to six years and six months in federal prison followed by 150 hours of community service. Valadez also is from Zapata.

FBI investigators in Laredo showed Valadez took cash from drug dealers on four occasions between July 2005 and April 2006.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1244/a09.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

Americans for Safe Access reports that cannabis dispensary raids are escalating in California. It appears that the DEA is working with the IRS to target and seize the assets of the most affluent caregivers.

Florida's AG Bill McCollum grossly exaggerated the unintended consequences of cannabis prohibition to lobby for more.

British police are reportedly frustrated by the discretion afforded them by the downgrading of cannabis from class B to class C, but clairvoyants say that could change. "Gordon Brown announced a two- year study which should reverse David Blunkett's 2004 decision."

North Dakota farmers struggling in the courts for their right to grow industrial hemp are facing a challenge new to this Canadian annotator, the concern that "there are ways to make plants with lower THC concentrations produce a high."



 (14) FEDERAL AGENTS RAID MARIJUANA DISPENSARY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 31 Oct 2007
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Jason Sweeney, Staff Writer
Cited: http://www.americansforsafeaccess.org/

Activists Protest Arrests of Two Alameda County Business Owners

CHERRYLAND -- Federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Cherryland early Tuesday, prompting activists to converge on the location in protest.

The Compassionate Collective of Alameda County, at 21222 Mission Blvd. near Blossom Way, just north of Hayward, was invaded at 6 a.m. by employees of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office provided security and traffic control during the raid.

Sites in Oakland, Berkeley, Lafayette and Albany also were raided in connection with the dispensary bust, officials said.

[snip]

In the raid, agents reportedly seized several hundred pounds of marijuana, packaging materials and about $200,000 in cash. Several vehicles including two late-model Mercedes cars and a Ford F-250 pickup, three motorcycles, two bank accounts, two IRAs, a home in Lafayette and a commercial building in Albany also were seized.

The DEA and IRS began investigating the Nortons' dispensary about a year ago. The dispensary generated sales of more than $74,000 in 2004, $1.3 million in 2005, $21.5 million in 2006 and $26.3 million through June 2007, according to the Department of Justice.

The drug conspiracy count has a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years and a minimum of five years, along with a $2 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

Bob Swanson, constituent liaison to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, said he was on the scene observing the raid and would be reporting back to the county Board of Supervisors.

"This is a federal raid based on federal law. It's truly unfortunate that the DEA feels they have to come in and waste taxpayer dollars to keep medical marijuana from patients.

"As far as we know, (Winslow and Abraham Norton) were operating within the (county) ordinance and within state law," Swanson said.

[snip]

Americans For Safe Access spokesman Kris Hermes said his organization has tracked 46 DEA raids of medical marijuana dispensaries this year. He said there were 20 raids last year.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1261.a03.html



 (15) TARGET 'MARIJUANA MCMANSIONS'  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 30 Oct 2007
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2007 Orlando Sentinel
Author: Bill McCollum, Special to the Sentinel
Note: Bill McCollum is Florida's attorney general. He wrote this
commentary for the Orlando Sentinel.

Apparently California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was only joking when he recently said marijuana "is not a drug. It's a leaf." I certainly hope so. Statistics show marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in America, with more than half of our young adults between the ages of 19 to 28 saying they have used it. But today's marijuana is no Woodstock rerun; it's potent and dangerous.

The most alarming aspect of marijuana's resurgence is the much greater potency of today's plant, particularly the hydroponic variety. In the 1960s and '70s, the average THC content (THC produces the high and causes physiological problems) in marijuana was approximately 4 percent. The THC level in the hydroponic marijuana grown today in Florida has tested up to 30 percent, and the level continues to rise through plant cloning by growers. This increase in potency has not only increased the dangerous physical effects of the drug, but also the addictive nature of marijuana use. Experts believe that the rate of addiction among daily marijuana users is now higher than that among daily alcohol drinkers.

The increase in the drug's potency has also caused marijuana's market value to skyrocket. Hydroponic marijuana in some areas actually trades ounce for ounce with cocaine. The drug is so lucrative that grow houses are popping up in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the state. These "Marijuana McMansions" are home to multimillion- dollar growing operations. Grow houses primarily specializing in hydroponic marijuana have been detected in 41 of Florida's 67 counties, and Florida had the second-highest number of grow-house seizures in the country in 2006.

[snip]

As the profit incentives increase for trafficking hydroponic marijuana, the risks to our children and fellow citizens also increase. Grow houses are often the targets of other violent crimes, including home invasions and robberies carried out by rival criminal groups, as the plants alone are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Marijuana is no longer grown and traded by amateurs -- it is being trafficked by organized and dangerous rings of criminals who are intent upon bringing this poison into our communities and neighborhoods.

Taking this threat seriously, our state must pass tougher laws to crack down on these sophisticated growing operations. I am supporting legislation sponsored by Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville and Rep. Nick Thompson of Fort Myers that would lower from 300 plants to 25 plants the standard for creating a presumption that a person is intending to distribute for profit. The bill also would create a new penalty for growers who own a house for the purpose of cultivating marijuana, as well as a new penalty for people who live in or are the caretakers of marijuana grow houses.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1257.a03.html



 (16) CANNABIS LAWS ARE A NO-MAN'S LAND  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 30 Oct 2007
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Miles Godfrey

Government figures reveal that police have opened a new front against drugs.

But one senior officer admits police are thinking the unthinkable - moving those who smoke pot in their own homes way down the list of priorities.

Imagine a discretionary law which police sometimes enforce but at other times don't bother. Picture a crime in which you will get thrown in jail for up to two years on occasions but get let off with a caution on others. Welcome to modern Britain, a country characterised by an increasingly confused attitude to cannabis.

Ever since the drug was downgraded from class B to class C in 2004, we have been caught in a no-man's land of legislation which police officers are feeling increasingly unsure, nervous even, about how to negotiate.

Recent figures show that cannabis use has once again fallen significantly, particularly among young people. This is an extremely encouraging sign that the Government's decision to downgrade has had positive benefits.

However, we are increasingly being caught in the entirely ludicrous situation where our police officers are unsure whether to arrest people for possession of the drug.

[snip]

Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs, district commander for Adur, conceded few resources were devoted to tackling those who smoke cannabis in small quantities in their own homes.

[snip]

Mr Hobbs would not be drawn on his personal opinion as to whether he would like to see cannabis upgraded to class B.

But all the signs are that it soon will be. Almost immediately after taking power, Gordon Brown announced a two-year study which should reverse David Blunkett's 2004 decision.

This would, at the very least, give police more confidence to act decisively. At the moment, cannabis laws state that punishment for having the drug largely depends on what age you are.

[snip]

Many believe police officers should not be forced to work like this and Britain needs to take a firm line on cannabis once and for all. Either fully legalise it or criminalise it, in other words. The middle ground, they say, is doing nobody any favours.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1263.a12.html



 (17) GOVERNMENT: HEMP LAWSUIT ARGUMENTS ARE WEAK  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 27 Oct 2007
Source: Jamestown Sun (ND)
Copyright: 2007 The Associated Press
Author: Blake Nicholson
Cited: Vote Hemp http://www.votehemp.com/

BISMARCK - Arguments by two North Dakota farmers who say they have a right to grow industrial hemp cannot change "unambiguous" federal law prohibiting commercial cultivation of the plant, Justice Department lawyers say.

Farmers Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge also have no more standing to sue than someone who wants to use drugs recreationally, the lawyers said in their response to the farmers' request that a judge rule in their favor without a trial.

Unless the federal Drug Enforcement Administration takes action against the farmers, the government lawyers say, Monson and Hauge "are in the same position as any hypothetical plaintiff who seeks to change federal drug law so that he can grow, smoke and/or sell marijuana free from DEA oversight."

Tim Purdon, the attorney for the farmers, said in an interview that there is a difference between the farmers' rights to grow hemp and those of pot smokers.

"The North Dakota Legislature has specifically passed a law allowing farmers in this state to grow industrial hemp," he said Friday. "So the farmers in this state who wish to do that are very different from some hypothetical plaintiff who wants to grow marijuana."

Monson, a state legislator who farms near Osnabrock, and Hauge, a farmer from Ray, want a federal judge to rule that they cannot be criminally prosecuted for growing industrial hemp under the North Dakota regulations.

[snip]

Government lawyers argue that there are ways to make plants with lower THC concentrations produce a high. The farmers dispute that, and say in court documents that "such hemp simply has no practical potential to be used as an illicit drug."

[snip]

"NDSU's experience demonstrates that applying to DEA for a registration to cultivate industrial hemp clearly involves an 'unreasonable or indefinite timeframe for administrative action,'" the brief says.

The farmers' lawsuit, filed in June, is being funded by the nonprofit Vote Hemp group. The Justice Department has asked that U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck dismiss it. Oral arguments are scheduled Nov. 14 on that motion and on the farmers' request that Hovland rule in their favor.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1259.a02.html





COMMENTS: ( Top )

Indonesia's "Constitutional Court" this week dashed the hopes of three Australians who are about to be executed for drug trafficking. The three were part of a drug ring that attempted to smuggle 18 pounds of heroin out of Bali in 2005. At the same time in Malaysia, near to Indonesia in both location and culture, a "painter" was this week sentenced to hang for possessing about 1/2 pound of cannabis in 2001.

Police in the Australian state of Queensland are to begin testing drivers for "illicit substances" (read: cannabis) next month. The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, attempted to milk the invasive police fishing expeditions for as much political mileage as possible. "I don't want my family on the road with people who are using drugs and getting into vehicles."

Authorities in Sri Lanka report the number of people with HIV there is increasing as a result of intravenous drug use. Ironically, the very drug prohibition laws - meant to protect people - are making the problem worse. "As there is a shortage of heroin [in Sri Lanka] drug addicts seem to opt for injecting drugs," said Health Ministry STD/AIDS Control Programme National Director Dr. Nimal Edirisinghe. Prohibition maximizes harm in other ways, too: "the same needle is being used a few times," making transmission of diseases like HIV possible.



 (18) INDONESIA UPHOLDS DEATH IN DRUG CASES  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 31 Oct 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Peter Gelling

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The Constitutional Court of Indonesia upheld the death penalty for serious drug offenses on Tuesday, dimming hopes of a reprieve for three Australians facing execution for trying to smuggle heroin off the resort island of Bali.

Lawyers for the three men, members of a group of Australians convicted of drug offenses who have become known as the Bali Nine, had hoped a successful constitutional challenge would add weight to their final appeal to the Supreme Court. Should that appeal fail, their last avenue would be a direct plea to Indonesia's president.

The Constitutional Court ruled 6 to 3 that a 2000 constitutional amendment upholding the right to life did not apply to capital punishment. The court added that the right to life had to be balanced against the rights of the victims of drug trafficking.

[snip]

The nine Australian men were arrested in 2005 for trying to smuggle 18 pounds of heroin out of Bali. They ranged in age from 18 to 28 at the time.

[snip]

At the beginning of this year 134 people, including 34 foreigners, were on death row in Indonesia, a vast majority for drug-related crimes, according to government statistics.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1264.a04.htm



 (19) EX-PAINTER SENT TO GALLOWS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 29 Oct 2007
Source: Star, The (Malaysia)
Copyright: 2007 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd.
Author: K. Kasturi Dewi

PENANG: Former painter Chuah Kok Eng was sentenced to death by a High Court for trafficking 271.9g of cannabis.

[snip]

Chuah was found guilty at the end of the defence case of committing the offence at a house in Jalan Jelutong at 12.45am on Nov 3, 2001.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1255.a01.html



 (20) POLICE TO BEGIN DRUG TESTING MOTORISTS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 28 Oct 2007
Source: Sunday Herald, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Sunday Herald

Queensland police will begin drug testing motorists in the next month in a crackdown on drivers who get behind the wheel after using illicit substances.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said on Sunday she was putting drug-drivers on notice, and warned them roadside drug tests would soon be carried out alongside random alcohol breath tests.

She said officers would take swabs of saliva from motorists and test for drugs such as speed, ecstasy and cannabis at mobile testing stations.

"Those drivers who use drugs and then get behind the wheel of a car put themselves at risk, put their passengers at risk and, worst of all, put those drivers in other vehicles at risk," she told reporters in Brisbane.

"I don't want my family on the road with people who are using drugs and getting into vehicles."

Ms Bligh admitted the tests, which take three to five minutes, could cause some irritation for motorists but appealed for patience.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1253.a04.htm



 (21) AIDS THREAT INCREASING WITH DRUG INJECTIONS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 28 Oct 2007
Source: Sunday Times, The (Sri Lanka)
Copyright: 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Nadia Fazlulhaq

Around 3500 Sri Lankans are living with HIV and the number is increasing rapidly as a newest trend of injecting drugs is becoming popular among many parties. Health Ministry STD/AIDS Control Programme National Director Dr. Nimal Edirisinghe told The Sunday Times that although there was a popular belief that injecting drugs was uncommon in Sri Lanka, at present it has been a major contributor to enhance the number of AIDS patients.

"There is a popular fashion among youth going to nightclubs and parties to inject drugs, which creates a high risk. As there is a shortage of heroin drug addicts seem to opt for injecting drugs. We also got to know that some prisoners too are getting injected with drugs and in most of these cases the same needle is being used a few times," he said.

[snip]

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07.n1251.a07.htm


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )

CULTURAL BAGGAGE RADIO SHOW  ( Top )

Last: 10/31/07 - Eric Sterling of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Dr. Rick Doblin of MAPS and Drug War Facts

Audio: http://drugtruth.net/007DTNaudio/FDBCB_103107.mp3

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



DREW CAREY DEFENDS MEDICAL MARIJUANA  ( Top )

In Episode 2 of Reason.tv's Drew Carey Project, Drew takes a look at patients who need and use medical marijuana in California, and how the federal government is making their lives even worse.

http://reason.tv/video/show/57.html



UNNECESSARY EVIL  ( Top )

Blind Trust and Unchecked Abuse In America's Informant System

http://www.aclu.org/unnecessaryevil



PLAN MEXICO  ( Top )

Characteristic of the "war on drugs" model, Plan Mexico takes a serious transnational problem and casts it in such a way as to promote the specific interests of the U.S. and Mexican rightwing governments.

By Laura Carlsen, October 30, 2007

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/4684



THE MURDER OF ROBIN PROSSER  ( Top )

Analysis by Richard Cowan

An Indictment of Karen Tandy and Motorola By Their Own Words and Standards.

http://marijuananews.com/news.php3?sid=917



DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES REJECT CALL TO DECRIMINALIZE POT  ( Top )

http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7411



ON THE LEGALIZATION - OR NOT - OF MARIJUANA  ( Top )

By Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics

The alcohol vs. marijuana question is so speculative as to be nearly useless beyond a thought experiment. So we assembled a group of folks with expertise in this area and asked them a much more targeted pair of questions:

Should marijuana be legalized in the U.S.? Why or why not?

Grinspoon and St. Pierre v. Dupont and Murray

http://tinyurl.com/2wfagu



INJECTING DRUG USE AND THE RIGHT TO HEALTH IN SWEDEN  ( Top )

The International Harm Reduction Association's new HR2 Harm Reduction & Human Rights programme, in conjunction with the Swedish drug users union, has published a report examining the issues around the state's response to the growing health problems (specifically blood borne diseases) relating to injecting drug use in Sweden, and the inadequate provision of harm reduction services for Sweden's growing population of drug injectors.

http://tinyurl.com/32glq5



MESSAGES FROM RAINBOW FARM  ( Top )

Memorial Day Weekend 1997 Featuring speeches from Gatewood Galbraith, (The Last Free Man In America), Jack Herer (Godfather of The Hemp ... all Movement), Chris Conrad, (Hemp Guru), & Elvy Musikka, (Federal Medical Marijuana Patient & advocate)& Master of Ceremonies Derrik DeCrane.

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-4143909010054104519


 WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK  ( Top )

DONATE YOUR CAR  ( Top )

If your automobile (car, truck, boat, motorcycle, RV, or aircraft) is no longer of use to you, it can still go a long way towards supporting our work to end marijuana prohibition. MPP will get money from the sale of your used vehicle at auction, and you will get a tax deduction.

http://tinyurl.com/2vemem



REGISTER FOR THE 2007 INTERNATIONAL DRUG POLICY REFORM CONFERENCE  ( Top )

With about a month to go until the 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, things are coming together at a very fast pace. This looks to be our biggest and best conference yet! Early-bird registration ends november 5th, so if you haven't yet registered yet, please do.

http://kessjones.com/conf07/


 LETTER OF THE WEEK  ( Top )

THE FOLLY OF DRUG PROHIBITION  ( Top )

Peter Christopher

I read with interest Ms. Lisa Kaiser's reporting on how the Milwaukee County district attorney views the pot scene in "Want Saner Marijuana Laws?" ( Oct. 18). Ultimate reform must come from Washington, and like most huge issues, it will one day have its day at the polls. America is ever-so-slowly waking up to the folly of drug prohibition, especially marijuana, and may one day come to know they have been propagandized into a $42 billion a year "Blackwater" operation that is never supposed to end, complete with asset forfeiture, corruption, expanding prisons and drug testing. It tears us apart as a country and we must fix it. The internecine relationship of guns, money and drugs worldwide can only be reined in through regulation and treatment. The talking points of the drug war industrial complex are based on fear, gutter science and racism thrown in when necessary, like any war--but this one is against ourselves. I ask District Attorney John Chisholm to contact LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, www.leap.cc, and have a visit with his colleagues to discuss prohibition as law enforcement professionals and not drug war sycophants.

Peter Christopher Hurdle Mills, N.C.

Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
Source: Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI)
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1198/a07.html


 FEATURE ARTICLE  ( Top )

ARNOLD'S MARIJUANA FIG LEAF  ( Top )

By Debra J. Saunders

When the Associated Press released a story that reported Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said marijuana is "not a drug," press secretary Aaron McLear was quick to announce that Schwarzenegger was joking. During an interview with Piers Morgan, a judge of "America's Got Talent," the governator had said that he had never taken drugs, even though he has admitted to smoking marijuana and the 1977 documentary film, "Pumping Iron," showed him inhaling.

So Schwarzenegger quipped, "That is not a drug. It's a leaf. My drug was pumping iron, trust me."

McLear told me that just as Schwarzenegger is more playful when appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," with some TV personalities, Schwarzenegger "says things that are a bit more shocking because he's playing to the audience." And: "The governor was not taking marijuana off the drug list. This was a light-hearted interview."

Too bad. I was hoping that Schwarzenegger was signaling a more sane drug policy for California - one that would direct the state not to waste money on marijuana enforcement, so that police can concentrate on violent crime or drugs that, unlike marijuana, kill people.

"The thing about Gov. Schwarzenegger is, we all know that he smoked marijuana," noted Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He is one of a great many accomplished people who smoked marijuana and have gone on to lead a successful life."

Mayor Gavin Newsom is the rare politician to take on the war on drugs. As CBS5's Hank Plante reported earlier this month, Newsom said, "If you want to get serious, if you want to reduce crime by 70 percent in this country overnight, end this war on drugs."

I called Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes to discuss Newsom's remarks - and figured Delagnes, who spent more than a decade on the drug beat - would take me on when I told him I think marijuana should be legal.

Instead, Delagnes said, "So do I." Delagnes added that unlike methamphetamine and heroin, "You can't really die from marijuana; all it can do is fry your brain." ( Be it noted: Frying your brain is not a good thing. )

"Ask any cop if they'd rather arrest somebody who is drunk or somebody who is stoned," Mirken had asked rhetorically. For Delagnes, the answer was easy. Tell a man who is stoned to put his hands against the wall, "he'll probably say that's cool."

But a drunk might just react violently.

Legalize all drugs? Newsom said he wasn't calling for that, but one certainly could infer that Newsom was toying with the idea. After all, some drug-war critics argue that if all drugs were legal, then drug crime would not pay.

Delagnes believes that more than 80 percent of San Francisco drug arrests are for serious drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine - drugs that destroy whole communities. In Ess Eff, marijuana arrests are rare - and almost always in response to a citizen complaint.

"I don't believe that users belong in prison. But I do believe that police departments and cities do have to address the qualify-of-life issues," Delagnes noted. Law-abiding folk "have every right to go home and not have to walk over two whacked out homeless people" on the way to the front door. And in his professional opinion, marijuana is not related to the city's homeless problem.

Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper is a board member of LEAP ( Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ). Former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara wrote a Letter to the Editor to The Chronicle in support of Newsom's drug remark. McNamara called the drug war "a total failure." Yet even an iconoclastic politician like Arnold Schwarzenegger is positively timid when treading drug-war turf.

Newsom criticized fellow Democrats for being afraid to call for drug-war reform, lest they seem weak on crime. He lamented "a failure of the imagination." More than that, there is a failure of political courage.

Pubdate: Tue, 30 Oct 2007
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Cited: http://www.mpp.org/ Cited: http://www.copssaylegalizedrugs.org/ Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n1176/a11.html


 QUOTE OF THE WEEK  ( Top )

"Congress, the press, and the bureaucracy too often focus on how much money or effort is spent, rather than whether the money or effort actually achieves the announced goal." -- Donald Rumsfeld


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