This Just In
(1)House Panel Criticizes Latin America Anti-Drug Plan
(2)Group Readies Drug Test Lawsuit
(3)Editorial: Sentencing Fairness
(4)Political Crisis Nets Largest Cannabis Crop Since Civil War

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tina Marie Macias, Times Staff Writer

Members Say That Bush's $1.4-Billion Merida Initiative Focusing on Mexico Would Spend Money Unwisely, That Supplies Could Be Misused, and That Congress Should Have Been Involved in Planning.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's proposal to send $1.4 billion worth of equipment to Mexico and six South American nations to combat drug cartels was met with hostility from members of a House committee that examined the plan for the first time Wednesday.

Although most agreed that an initiative to stop drug cartels was overdue, Bush's plan worried some members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They said they thought that more money should be spent to "curb the appetite" for drugs, feared that corrupt Mexican military and police would take and misuse equipment, and were angry that Congress had not been aware that such a plan was being considered.

"We first learned of the initiative from the media. For an administration which is not particularly noted for its bipartisanship, this cavalier disregard of congressional concern is deeply disturbing," said committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Burlingame).

Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) said that by bypassing Congress' opinion, Bush was putting America's foreign relations in jeopardy.

"The Congress is not just a bank for the president to come to us for money. This kind of foreign policy is what put the U.S. in the position it's in worldwide," he said. "We're not just here to be a rubber stamp."

In October, after months of closed-door negotiations, Bush unveiled the Merida Initiative, named after the Mexican city where most of the negotiations were held. Mexico's Felipe Calderon has made the drug war the focus of his presidency, sending army troops to fight drug cartels that have killed 4,000 people in the last two years.


But many provisions of the plan were received skeptically by lawmakers from both major parties.

Twelve years ago, Lantos said, the U.S. gave 73 helicopters to Mexico. "They were used and did not work well, and we ended up with the Mexicans giving them back to us," he said.




Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2007
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2007 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: B. J. Reyes

The ACLU of Hawaii Intends to File Suit on Behalf of Teachers

A civil rights group says it has been contacted by more than 200 teachers who are interested in being part of a federal lawsuit challenging a new policy that calls for random drug tests for public school teachers.

Carlie Ware, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project, said the organization is interviewing potential plaintiffs and aims to file the lawsuit by January.

"The men and women who teach in the classrooms of Hawaii's public schools are demoralized by the governor's decision to spend hundreds of dollars to drug test one teacher while they barely have enough money to provide students with textbooks and school supplies," Ware said.

The ACLU of Hawaii says the policy is unconstitutional, and had threatened legal action in a letter to Gov. Linda Lingle last month, asking her to scrap the policy by yesterday or face a lawsuit.

Lingle said she is confident the policy will be upheld.

"It was voted for by a majority of the teachers," Lingle said yesterday. "We feel it's important for student safety and for teacher and staff safety as well."




Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2007
Source: Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
Copyright: 2007 The Blade

JUSTICE is supposed to be blind, especially color-blind. But legal and civil rights advocates have agreed that hasn't been the case in sentencing crack cocaine offenders. Usually they have been black, and usually they have received harsher penalties than middle-class white offenders convicted in powdered cocaine cases.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an agency of the federal judicial branch, is finally moving to correct this inequity.

For years, groups have lobbied for parity in sentencing for crack and powdered cocaine offenders. Crack cocaine is potentially more addictive, but its chemical properties are the same as powdered cocaine. Crack appeals more to the poor, many of whom are minorities, because it is less expensive. It's only right that the commission try for consistency in sentencing. Last spring it set more lenient sentencing guidelines to be issued to crack cocaine offenders in the future. Now it is weighing retroactively reducing sentences of crack inmates in federal prisons.

That would be the right thing to do, even though we don't condone crack or powdered cocaine use at all. Cocaine destroys those who use it. But there is no place for unfair sentencing in America, and there is a wide consensus among many federal judges, public defenders, and parole officers that penalties for crack fall disproportionately on African-Americans.

Moreover, there is a precedent for the commission to reduce sentences and make a policy retroactive. In fact, the panel, which was created in 1984 to bring consistency to sentencing in federal courts, did precisely that when it applied new sentencing guidelines in cases involving LSD, the cultivation of marijuana, and the painkiller OxyContin.

Under the new proposal, the sentences of 19,500 inmates could be reduced by an average of 27 months. It would apply only to those in federal prisons, not state facilities, where most drug offenders are incarcerated. Prison doors won't just start swinging open, though. Former inmates would go to halfway houses first.




Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2007
Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)
Copyright: 2007 The Daily Star
Author: Rym Ghazal, Daily Star staff

With the Army Busy With Security and Its Battle in Nahr AL-Bared, None of the Annual Cannabis-Eradication Projects Have Been Carried Out

Sporting a grey and green suit and a watch with golden trimmings, Abu Abbas takes a long drag from his cigarette, smiles, exhales into a room already filled with smoke, and declares that "business is good." His freshly cut fields of cannabis are being prepared for consumption.

"When there is political instability, business is always good," says Abu Abbas, 40, who like scores of other farmers in Baalbek, has benefited from the ongoing political crisis in the country. Like many others, he decided this year not to plant conventional crops like potatoes, opting instead to grow the more profitable cannabis plant.

According to the farmers interviewed, the cannabis industry is at its best this year, with the rate of production in 2007 matching that of the "golden years" of drug cultivation during the 1975-90 Civil War, when militias and warlords raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from the industry.

"The army couldn't get to us this year, it was busy with other crises," says Abu Abbas.

Away from the main roads and beyond the fields of grapes and tomatoes lay hundreds of hectares of freshly cut fields of cannabis. Much of the abundant marijuana harvest is being processed into hashish in hidden workshops in the mountainous area of Baalbek, near the Syrian border.


The production of hashish is nothing new in the Bekaa Valley. Cultivated off and on for centuries, popularized by the Turks of the Ottoman empire, but hashish first gained notoriety from an 11th- century sect, the "assassins." It was said that members would indulge in hashish consumption before undertaking killing assignments - - hence the term "assassin" derived from the Arabic hashashin.

More recently, the "red Lebanon" variety gained fame and became the household name for Lebanese hashish - allegedly called that due to the red soil in which it grows - and it sells for $1,200 per kilo.

Drugs dealers told The Daily Star that most of the drugs cultivated in Lebanon get exported to Europe, and a large amount to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The drugs are then sold for two to three times their price - in Saudi Arabia the prices reach as high as $4,000 a kilo.


There have been several UN-backed programs and non-governmental projects launched over the past 10 years to assist farmers in Baalbek and surrounding areas in finding sustainable means of livelihood. However, none of them has proven successful or sustainable, due to an apparent lack of commitment on the part of officials and the overall instability in the country.





Is the artificial sweetener saccharin more addictive than cocaine? A bunch of lab rats in Bordeaux, France apparently think so. What would happen if scientists gave the rats a substance that actually tastes good?

In a seemingly, but not really, unrelated story, some businessmen in Northern California apparently think the financial benefits of medical cannabis outweigh any benefits of total cannabis prohibition. In other news, drug tests are becoming a legitimate part of one tribal council's political process in South Dakota; and more thoughts on cannabis and young people.


Pubdate: Sat, 10 Nov 2007
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Edmonton Journal

LOS ANGELES - Researchers have learned that rats overwhelmingly prefer water sweetened with saccharin to cocaine, a finding that demonstrates the addictive potential of sweets.

Offering larger doses of cocaine did not alter the rats' preference for saccharin.

Scientists said the study, presented this week in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, might help explain the rise in human obesity, which has been driven, in part, by an overconsumption of sugary foods.

"Intense sweetness is more rewarding to the rats than cocaine," said co-author Magalie Lenoir of the University of Bordeaux in France.




Pubdate: Thu, 8 Nov 2007
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcatia, CA)
Copyright: 2007 North Coast Journal
Author: Bob Doran

You Might Be Surprised Who Profits From the Semi-Legal Marijuana Trade

A gentleman with a neatly trimmed beard stands at the counter of an Arcata business on a weekday morning and asks the clerk for an eighth of an ounce of Trainwreck, a popular strain of sinsemilla marijuana. The young woman on the other side of a glass partition, who looks to be a typical Arcata college student, reaches under the counter and produces a bag of fresh green buds. She pours a portion into a paper cup set on an electronic scale, then carefully transfers it to a plastic bag.As she does so, the customer asks questions about other strains available. He's looking for some variety. He ends up buying small bags of several different kinds, paying the going rate - $40 per eighth of an ounce - with a handful of $20 bills.


It's true, there's gold in those green buds. How much is anybody's guess. Since 1996, when California voters passed Proposition 215 and legalized marijuana for medical use, the drug has slowly been working its way out of the shadows. There's still not much data on the marijuana trade - almost none on the black market side and precious little on the medical marijuana gray market. That said, according to a report in The Economist magazine last month, pot is California's biggest cash crop, surpassing grapes. Everyone agrees, it's a lucrative business.

And that fact might make things difficult for those who, like Richmond, oppose the ever-expanding marijuana trade in Humboldt County. In Arcata, at least, some high-powered members of the business establishment are getting their taste of the proceeds. So is the public. It's not just the problems of the marijuana trade in the City Council's lap - it's the profits, too.

It's not news to anyone that plenty of legitimate businesses are thriving off the marijuana gray market. Examples? Take a look in the new phonebook and you'll find a dozen or more hydroponic supply businesses. Know anybody who grows hydroponic tomatoes or lettuce?

But with medical marijuana becoming more and more mainstream, even straight businesses are getting their cut. One such business is the Danco Group, Arcata's largest contractor and real estate company. The Humboldt Cooperative is only one of four medical marijuana dispensaries in Arcata. Danco is currently landlord to two of those dispensaries, and it's building a brand-spanking-new facility right off the Arcata Plaza for another of them.

Danco manages the large building that once housed Arcata's Isaacson Ford auto dealership, at the corner of Sixth and I streets. The building complex is currently home to two medical marijuana dispensaries - the Humboldt Cooperative and the Humboldt Patient Resource Center - as well as a hydroponics store. Both dispensaries grow marijuana on site. ( Danco manages the property through one of its arms, Danco Property Management. It's owned by a land partnership called RUI Partners, whose ownership is not clear.)

You'll also see the Danco name in the window of the former P.C. Sacchi Chevy dealership next door to the Arcata Post Office, immediately off the Arcata Plaza, which is currently being remodeled. Soon the Sacchi building will be home to Humboldt Medical Supply ( HMS ), a medical marijuana clinic currently located in a hole in the wall office on Eleventh Street. HMS's plans will feature an "intake area," where patients will be able to purchase their marijuana, as well as a large growing operation. The Sacchi property belongs to JBL Plaza Associates, a partnership between three prominent local businessmen - "J" for Dan Johnson of Danco, "B" for local realtor Mark Burtchett and "L" for Paul Lubitz of Holly Yashi Jewelry.

In an e-mailed statement, Danco spokesperson Lindsey Myers emphasized that all the facilities strictly comply with the law.




Pubdate: Fri, 09 Nov 2007
Source: Rapid City Journal (SD)
Copyright: 2007 The Rapid City Journal
Author: Bill Harlan, Journal staff

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has suspended some members for refusing to take a drug test, and a tribal judge in Pine Ridge upheld the suspensions in a ruling Friday afternoon.

In the same ruling, Chief Judge Lisa Adams reversed the suspension of the tribe's treasurer, Crystal Eagle Elk, saying the council did not have authority to suspend her.

"My ruling was really simple," Adams said late Friday afternoon, after a court hearing that lasted all day. It was not clear Friday how many council members had been suspended for refusing the test. Adams' list had six members, and possibly a seventh, but council members put the number at four or five.

It was clear, however, that Eagle Elk was not suspended. The judge said suspending her would have resulted in a "crisis" because the tribe would have been unable to pay employees or provide vital assistance.

Adams also struck down two parts of a resolution to suspend council members who refused the drug test. One of those provisions would have required publication of the results of the drug tests in newspapers. The other would have required members who failed tests to resign or be impeached.




Pubdate: Sat, 10 Nov 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Bruce Mirken

A new study from Switzerland raises the question: Might marijuana actually be good for teens? The answer is almost certainly no, but if one follows the logic used by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy ( ONDCP, aka the Drug Czar's office ), the answer would be, "In some ways, yes."

If that seems confusing, allow me to explain.

The Swiss study, just published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine was based on a survey of 5,263 students, aged 16-20. Scientists compared teens who smoked both cigarettes and marijuana, those who used only marijuana, and those who abstained from both substances. The results were surprising.

By pretty much all measures, the youths using both marijuana and tobacco were doing the worst. Compared to those using marijuana only, they had poorer grades, were less likely to finish school, more likely to be depressed and more likely to get drunk frequently. Their marijuana use was also much more frequent than the marijuana-only group, and they were much more likely to have started smoking marijuana before age 15.

But the marijuana-only teens were strikingly similar to the abstainers, with very few statistically significant differences. The marijuana smokers were more likely to skip school but had comparable grades and were just as likely to finish their schooling as the abstainers. The marijuana users had more "sensation-seeking" personalities, which -- not surprisingly -- translated to somewhat higher use of alcohol or other drugs than the abstainers. But the marijuana-only group's use of alcohol and other drugs was far lower than the marijuana/cigarette group.

And in some ways the teens using marijuana looked better than the abstainers. They had better peer relationships, were more likely to be involved in sports and more likely to be on an academic ( as opposed to vocational ) track in school.




Lots of questions this week, many with answers too obvious to be recognized by the drug war establishment. A Michigan legislator looking for reasons that prisons are so overcrowded made the connection between drug laws and low-level offenders, but stopped short of talking about real reform. Speaking of wrong answers, how much bad behavior does one government contractor have to display before being denied consideration for federal drug war dollars? The contractor in question seems to hope that "infinite" is the correct response.

In Hawaii, the question, "When is a rising cocaine supply a good thing?" leads police to reply, "When it indicates a dwindling supply of meth!" And in Virginia, asked if district attorneys have to follow the law, even in drug cases, the State Supreme Court said, "Yes."


Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2007
Source: Michigan Citizen (Detroit, MI)
Copyright: 2007 Michigan Citizen
Author: David Salisbury, Capital News Service

LANSING - Drug abuse can lead to criminal activity, but are the state's current drug laws too uncompromising?

Many convicted drug violators are non-violent, but they are lumped in with other criminals who harm people, critics of the present sentencing rules say.

But Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wants to revamp the punishment for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Condino is working on legislation to divert marijuana offenders from prison into drug courts and programs where rehabilitation and court-mandated screenings attempt to treat drug users.

"These aren't people who are murderers or rapists," he said. "These are non-violent people who need treatment."

Patricia Caruso, director of the Department of Corrections, said that prison sentences for drug violations are "extremely lengthy" in Michigan compared to other states.

For example, a person convicted of dealing or possessing more than 1.75 ounces of cocaine faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.




Pubdate: Tue, 13 Nov 2007
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: August Cole

Can Firm Get New Pentagon Work After Iraq Incident?

A Defense Department contract involving antidrug training missions may test the durability of the political controversy over Blackwater Worldwide's security work in Iraq.

The Moyock, N.C., company, which was involved in a September shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead, is one of five military contractors competing for as much as $15 billion over five years to help fight a narcotics trade that the government says finances terrorist groups. Also competing for contracts from the Pentagon's Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office are military-industry giants Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as well as Arinc Inc., a smaller aerospace and technology contractor.

The contracts are expected to be awarded as the need arises, so the Pentagon's level of concern about employing Blackwater will likely be measured over time and by whether the company wins leading roles or is shut out. Companies competing for the work might be called on to develop detection or surveillance technology; train U.S. and foreign forces; or provide logistics, communications and information-technology systems, among other areas. Blackwater faces the question of whether it is too tainted to be tapped for such work, even though the contract doesn't involve the kind of security detail that it performs in Iraq. The Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad strained relations between Washington and the Iraqi government, which alleged that the shooting was unnecessary.

The company, formerly known as Blackwater USA, maintains that its ability to win additional government business hasn't been affected by scrutiny from Congress, the State Department and the Justice Department. Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said customers have "confidence in our ability to perform in a capable and professional manner."




Pubdate: Tue, 06 Nov 2007
Source: Garden Island (Lihue, HI)
Copyright: 2007 Kauai Publishing Co.
Author: Amanda C. Gregg, The Garden Island

Cocaine continues to grow in popularity on the island and across the state as law enforcement puts the pinch on methamphetamine dealers, officials said yesterday.

Though the U.S. Attorney General's Office recently alluded to an increase in the amounts of crack cocaine and powdered cocaine present statewide - the Attorney General's Office said more than 500 grams of crack cocaine had been seized through September of this year, up from 442 grams in 2006 - Lt. Michael Contrades of the Kaua'i Police Department narcotics and vice section said local law enforcement hasn't seen an increase in seizures of the smokeable, highly-addictive version of the drug.

What Kaua'i police have seen, he said, is "a tremendous increase in cocaine seizures as opposed to ice."

The shift has made the demand and cost of ice higher, he added.

"Currently the cost of ice is at an all-time high and more difficult to acquire," he said.




Pubdate: Fri, 09 Nov 2007
Source: Daily Press (Newport News,VA)
Copyright: 2007 The Daily Press
Details: Author: Peter Dujardin

The state's highest court says it was wrong for a Hampton Circuit Court judge to allow evidence about a separate crime into a drug dealing case.

HAMPTON - The Virginia Supreme Court has reversed a Hampton conviction in a cocaine distribution case, saying a Hampton Circuit Court judge erred in allowing "misleading" evidence to be introduced at a jury trial.

The state's highest court said last week that it was wrong for Judge William C. Andrews to allow a prosecutor from the Hampton Commonwealth Attorney's office to question a defendant about a drug possession incident that occurred four months after the drug dealing charge at issue at the trial.

"The Commonwealth cannot be allowed to essentially smuggle into evidence during its cross examination ... proof of another crime not admissible in its case-in-chief," the state's highest court said in the Nov. 2 ruling.

Kyna Chanelle McGowan was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison for distributing cocaine in March 2004.

While on the witness stand, McGowan testified that she "wouldn't know crack cocaine if she saw it." But during a cross-examination, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Matthew Hoffman attempted to question her credibility by bringing up a separate incident that occurred four months later. "So when you were arrested on July 13, 2004, did you have any crack cocaine on your person?"

Evidence of other crimes is generally not allowed at trials. But Andrews allowed such questioning to proceed, reasoning that McGowan had "opened the door" to such questioning when she said she didn't know what it looked like.

Though the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled twice in split decisions that the line of questioning was justified, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. Bringing up the later incident "is not only highly inflammatory and misleading to a jury," but also lacking a serious attempt to answer the issue, the court said.




A federal judge in North Dakota has said that the legality of growing hemp should be handled by Congress, not the courts. However, many members of Congress are waiting on legislating until the North Dakota legal case is resolved. The judge has promised a decision by December.

The Bush administration may have finally found a way to reduce the flow of "B.C. Bud" crossing the northern border. One wonders how much longer the U.S. can afford to import Canadian hemp.

A Malaysian man is relieved to be facing a mere twenty years in prison and strokes with a cane after languishing on death row for almost a decade. Presumably he has already served half of his sentence.

Finally, a sad reminder that you can never get over a conviction, even in Denver, where voters think a $100.00 fine is too harsh. One wonders how much longer the U.S. can afford to "send a message to kids" by undermining their futures.


Pubdate: Mon, 12 Nov 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Peter Slevin, Washington Post Staff Writer

Wayne Hauge grows grains, chickpeas and some lentils on 2,000 acres in northern North Dakota. Business is up and down, as the farming trade tends to be, and he is always on the lookout for a new crop. He tried sunflowers and safflowers and black beans. Now he has set his sights on hemp.

Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture.

On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers.

"I'm looking forward to the court battle," said Hauge, a 49-year-old father of three. "I don't know why the DEA is so afraid of this."


"In Canada and Europe, where industrial hemp is grown, no one is trying to smoke it and the sky is not falling," said Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group. Likening hemp seeds to marijuana, he said, is like equating poppy seeds with opium.

Hauge is joined by Monson, a Republican state legislator who helped pass a law in 1999 that would permit hemp cultivation and establish limits to ease the federal government's worries. They have the backing of Vote Hemp, an advocacy organization, and state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, who personally delivered paperwork to the DEA in February on the farmers' behalf.




Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2007
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2007 Missoulian
Author: Michael Jamison

WHITEFISH - For years, backpacks crammed with cash have slipped north into Canada, followed closely by hockey bags packed with premium marijuana skating south into Montana.

A favorable exchange rate (not long ago, one American dollar bought one and a half Canadian dollars) made the smuggling profitable, and thus popular.

But last month, for the first time in more than 30 years, the two currencies were at par, matched in value, and today a Canadian dollar buys $1.10 U.S.

The financial tables have turned, and global economics have done what U.S. law enforcement could not: Capitalism has stopped the smugglers in their tracks.

Call it Marijuanomics 101.

America borrows itself deep into the hole, ratchets up its trade deficits, buries itself beneath subprime mortgage debt, devalues its dollar with interest-rate cuts, and the currency plunges.

Meanwhile, Canada's economy booms on oil, foreign investors turn north for stability, and the "Loonie" - Canada's dollar, named for the bird on the coin - hits a 50-year high.

Suddenly, it's far more expensive to buy Canadian exports, legal or otherwise, and smuggling profits disappear.

"It's very simple," said Stephen Easton, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. "Canadian marijuana production costs are met in Canadian dollars, and those are worth more now."


"The upshot is that the Canadian marijuana is now less competitive against marijuana grown elsewhere," Easton said. "This is a cost- driven business. With exports no longer viable, the British Columbia marijuana industry has certainly taken a hit, so to speak."




Pubdate: Tue, 13 Nov 2007
Source: New Straits Times (Malaysia)
Copyright: 2007 New Straits Times
Author: A. Hafiz Yatim

PUTRAJAYA: He was on Death Row for the past nine years but when his case came up for appeal yesterday, a vegetable seller had every reason to smile. Baha Jambol's conviction was amended from trafficking to possession which meant that his death sentence was overturned.

The reason for the amendment was simply because the High Court judge who had found him guilty of trafficking in 50kg of cannabis and had sentenced him to death, only delivered the written judgment on Sept 26 -- more than nine years after sentencing Baha.

Deputy public prosecutor C.K. Wong told the court that the prosecution realised the special circumstances in Baha's case. "There was a delay in providing the judgment. But this, in no way represented the weakness of the prosecution," Wong said.

Baha's counsel Karpal Singh said he accepted the reduction of the charge and withdrew his application for his client to be freed. Baha, 45, a vegetable seller from Pasir Mas, Kelantan, was charged with trafficking in 50,607.5g of cannabis in front of the Gua Musang police station about 12.30am on Dec 31, 1996.

He was convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court on April 26, 1998, while his friend, Azman Ahmad, 35, was acquitted without his defence being called.

Karpal, in mitigation, had earlier said while there was no doubt the amount of cannabis was large, his client had to wait nine years and six months to get the judgment. Baha is also married with three children.

"I urge the court to consider these important factors as this is the first case where a person on Death Row had to wait more than nine years for the written judgment," Karpal said.


"We are proposing that he be sentenced to the maximum 20 years' imprisonment with more than 10 strokes of the rotan," Wong said.




Pubdate: Mon, 12 Nov 2007
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2007 The Denver Post Corp
Author: David Harsanyi, The Denver Post

Hayley Jaqua has a big problem.

Jaqua is a 25-year-old full-time student at Metropolitan State College of Denver and an anthropology major who also works part time at a trendy restaurant on the 16th Street Mall.

In September, Jaqua was ticketed for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

I've spoken to Jaqua only once, so I dare not vouch for the incorruptibility of her soul. But from what I can tell, we have a pleasant and bright person here - a woman whose only brush with the law before this incident was an improperly licensed dog in 2003.

Jaqua's petty offense carries with it a maximum fine of $100. Not a huge deal, to be sure. But the long-term consequences of this transgression could be life-changing.

According to the Higher Education Act's aid elimination penalty provision - passed through Congress without any debate in 1998 - a student must check off a box on financial aid applications, revealing any drug offenses. A check could mean no college aid.

There is no box for "child molestation" or "arson" or "racketeering" or ... well, you get the point.


"It's a lot to take on the government," Jaqua tells me. "If you're in class, it's tough to go to court hearings and conferences. It's taking time away from concentrating on graduating. But I guess I am happy to do it. Because it's a good cause. Though I definitely wish it never happened to me to begin with."

Typically, I'd say stop being a crybaby; the law is the law. But in the case of Denver, the law isn't exactly the law.

In case anyone has forgotten, Denver residents - the same residents who just passed I-100 last week, making marijuana the city's lowest enforcement priority, by a 57 percent majority - passed a 2005 SAFER initiative that made the possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in the city.




In the beginning, MDMA was legal. So the New Zealand government banned it. In response, BZP became popular. So the New Zealand government is banning that, too. New Zealand's "party pill" saga continues. Side-stepping the government's looming ban on BZP pills, there are new, legal pills (diphenyl prolinol, a.k.a., "Neuro Blast") which have prohibitionists up in arms and politicians ready to ban this one, too. While the effects of MDMA and BZP are documented, the effects of diphenyl prolinol aren't as understood.

By day western occupying forces in Afghanistan may be slashing and burning opium fields to American ideals of drug-free purity. But the opportunity to smuggle a little opium or heroin home on a military transport hasn't gone unnoticed. The Canadian Chronicle Herald newspaper this week reports Canadian military police have begun to more closely monitor troops returning home. Drugs are a "temptation for Canadian troops in the form of personal use and in the form of importation for the purpose of trafficking."

While cannibalism is supposedly no longer practiced in New Guinea, politicians there are lusting after the blood of potheads. Because "rapes, armed robberies, arms trafficking, assaults and many other types of crime were often committed by people under the influence of marijuana," said former politician Francis Harokave, New Guinea "should consider capital punishment as practiced by countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand." Harokave's "get tough" comments were reported in New Guinea's The National newspaper.

And again, in this week's Record newspaper, in British Columbia, Canada, columnist Keith Baldrey pleads, as so many have before him, that "the legalization of drugs might at least be considered". For, apparently, while many things may be considered, "the legalization of drugs" is something the politicians are only rarely able to consider. "Neither the B.C. Liberals nor the New Democrats want to go down that road. They prefer to yell at each other about which party is tougher on criminals. ... [E]liminating the profit margin from the gangs' core economic activity - drug trafficking - may do a heck of a lot more than shuffling the police bureaucracy."


Pubdate: Sat, 10 Nov 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald
Author: Patrick Gower

Party pills on sale in Auckland are made with an experimental substance virtually unknown to scientists worldwide.

The London Underground "Neuro Blast" pills were withdrawn from sale this week after a Weekend Herald investigation revealed they contained the potentially illegal substance diphenyl prolinol.

But further testing by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has found the "Head Candy" pills from the same range - still available in the city yesterday - also contain the substance.

The pills, marketed as "next generation" and "non-BZP", are designed to side-step the Government's imminent ban on BZP.


"We have essentially come up with next to nothing on the effects or hazards or risks associated with it.

"There has been virtually no testing that we can identify."

Police were first alerted to the potential illegality of the Neuro Blast pills by the Ministry of Health in late September. They notified London Underground but followed that up only last Friday with a visit by officers.


The Government aims to ban BZP by Christmas, with a law change making it a class-C controlled drug.

A legal loophole means party-pill makers can sell products without having to prove their safety.

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton is aware of the loophole, but says it will not be addressed until after a Law Commission review of the 30-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act scheduled for some time next year.

National Party health spokeswoman Jacqui Dean called for the loophole to be closed immediately.



Pubdate: Mon, 12 Nov 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Steve Rennie, Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Canadian military police have started using drug dogs to search troops' bags at Kandahar Air Field after being tipped about soldiers suspected of using heroin, hash and pot, say newly released documents.

Although there were no drug seizures reported, a briefing note says illegal drugs are readily available in Afghanistan and present a "temptation for Canadian troops in the form of personal use and in the form of importation for the purpose of trafficking."


Defence Department spokeswoman Capt. Julie Roberge said she wouldn't comment on specific searches.

She said the military uses the dogs if it has a "reasonable doubt" there may be drugs at Kandahar Air Field or at one of the forward operating bases.

"As soon as there's a doubt . . . of course there's going to be a followup," Roberge said.




Pubdate: Mon, 12 Nov 2007
Source: National, The (New Guinea)
Copyright: 2007, The National
Author: James Kila

A FORMER politician in Goroka has urged the Government to get tough on the penalties for marijuana-related offences, saying that the drug was the cause of many other crimes.

Francis Harokave said marijuana had become a serious problem among youths nationwide.

He said rapes, armed robberies, arms trafficking, assaults and many other types of crime were often committed by people under the influence of marijuana.

"The authorities must amend the laws as the present prison sentences of between three months and nine are not tough enough," he told The National.

He said the Government should consider capital punishment as practised by countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

"The Government must act before the problem really gets out of hand," he said.



Pubdate: Wed, 14 Nov 2007
Source: Record, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Keith Baldrey

It's not often that gang warfare makes its way into the legislature as the main topic of debate, but that's exactly what happened this month as the Lower Mainland seemed to morph into something out of The Untouchables.

Gangland shootings - almost a dozen deaths in recent weeks - have dominated the headlines and newscasts, and politicians on both sides of the house found themselves grappling with an issue usually far from their bailiwick.


But one issue wasn't raised: whether or not the legalization of drugs might at least be considered a viable option in the face of apparent unstoppable growth of organized crime and gang activity in this province.

Neither the B.C. Liberals nor the New Democrats want to go down that road.

They prefer to yell at each other about which party is tougher on criminals.


However, eliminating the profit margin from the gangs' core economic activity - drug trafficking - may do a heck of a lot more than shuffling the police bureaucracy.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


The British Medical Journal, which along with the Lancet, is arguably the UK's most prestigious medical journal, has this week run two articles in its regular Head to Head section, entitled 'Should drugs be decriminalised' (with a cover teaser titled: 'Should street drugs be decriminalised'). The two articles, printed on facing pages, were produced by Dr Kailash Chand, a General practitioner arguing the 'Yes' position, and Joseph A Califano from the The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University arguing the 'No' position.


The video "Cannabis and Cannabinoids in the 21st Century: Medical Marijuana" is now live. You can view it at:


Canada's prohibition of the possession of marijuana has once again been declared to be constitutionally invalid and of no legal force or effect. In a judgment released last Tuesday of a decision he rendered in Oshawa on October 19, Justice Edmondson of the Ontario Court of Justice dismissed charges against three young men accused of simple possession of marijuana, declaring that "there is no offence known to law which the accused have committed."


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speaker Rusty White, author and columnist Jacob Sullum and a former Dallas, Texas drug intelligence officer, Phil Jordan, debate the "war on drugs" on the McCuistion show.


Cultural Baggage Radio Show

11/14/07 - Karen Garrison, mother of two sons in Fed prison on mandatory minimums of 15 and 19 years + Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project


Century of Lies

11/13/07 - Jerry Epstein, founding member of Drug Policy Forum of Texas



by Robert Hercz


The November issue of Cannabinoid Chronicles is now available online at:


National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Dept. of Justice

"This interagency assessment provides a strategic overview and predictive outlook of the threat to the United States from the illicit trafficking and use of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, pharmaceutical drugs, and other dangerous drugs."



Late Wednesday night Congress turned its back on students with drug convictions. When the House Education and Labor Committee debated the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill Wednesday night, Chairman George Miller (D-CA) prevented a vote on an amendment offered by our friends in Congress who are actively working to repeal the harmful and unfair aid elimination penalty.

While we are extremely disappointed that the Democratic leadership refused to allow a vote on such an important issue, those who spoke in favor of the amendment proved that support for repealing this penalty is strong and growing in Congress. You can watch clips of this historic debate at:


While the committee's inaction is undoubtedly a major setback, it is clear that this fight isn't over yet. There's still a chance we can win a vote on an amendment on the House floor or shepherd a good outcome through the House-Senate conference committee, so if you haven't already, please send a letter to your member of Congress now at



By Hugh Garavan

I write concerning your report 'cannabis far more toxic to the adolescent brain' ( Irish Independent, November 5).

There are ongoing studies at Trinity College, Dublin, on the effects of cannabis, but none that have studied the effects of cannabis in adolescents, using brain imaging.

The hypothesis that cannabis may be of particular risk to the developing adolescent brain is a reasonable one, worth investigating, but your report erroneously suggests that the research has already been conducted and the findings known.

As this is an important public health matter, it is essential that statements regarding deleterious effects of cannabis be guided by research-based evidence.

Professor Hugh Garavan

Institute Of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin

Pubdate: Wed, 07 Nov 2007
Source: Irish Independent (Ireland)


DrugSense recognizes Allan Erickson of Eugene, Oregon for his seven published letters during October, which brings his total published letters that we know of to 113. Allan signs his letters "Allan Erickson, Drug Policy Forum of Oregon, Eugene, Ore." All seven of the letters as printed included the Drug Policy Forum of Oregon line, indicating that using an organization title may help get letters published.

You may read his published letters at:


Connecting with the Congregation  ( Top )

By Mary Jane Borden

Sometimes we have choices. We can stay in our groove and speak to the choir, or we can step outside of our comfort zone and interact with the congregation. Drug policy reform conferences, while interesting and energizing, often involve the same people in similar places and under common circumstances. More rarely do we converse with those whose ideas and attitudes are uncommon to us. I recently had such an opportunity in Pittsburgh where former police officer Tim Datig and I represented Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) at the annual ICMA conference.

Pittsburgh is like going home. I grew up in the Ohio River Valley, where Pittsburgh embodied the allure of the big city. The last time I was there, Led Zeppelin rocked Three Rivers Stadium with tunes from their Houses of the Holy tour. The group and the stadium are now things of the past much like Pittsburgh's rust belt decay. The city underwent revitalization, replacing crumbled steel mills with Heinz Field, PNC Park, and the glistening David L. Lawrence Convention Center that lines one block near the Allegheny River with glass. Any group that can utilize the entire Center for its annual conference must be huge. Such a group is the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA).

The ICMA is the trade group for local government managers, employees, academics, students, and others with interests, affiliations, or business relationships with these locales. It maintains a diverse membership - 8,000 worldwide - and a $27,000,000 annual budget. Of this budget, quite likely $1.5 million was devoted to this conference alone. (*) Rumor had it that there were more than 4,000 in attendance, staying at 14 hotels across the city. Four exclusive bus lines ran to and from each of these hotels every half hour for all days of the conference. It is that big.

The conference indeed occupied the entire Convention Center. Imagine your local big box store. It's the approximate size of Exhibit Hall A. The hall contained not only seven aisles aligned with 150 booths, but also 12 glass-enclosed mini lecture halls. Exhibitors hailed from a myriad of organizations from Keep America Beautiful to Waste Management. From Black Box to Bobcat. Government was there, too, via the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Department of Justice.

LEAP required me to keep tick marks for each person I spoke with: Agree, Undecided, or Disagree. My undercounted tallies equalled: Day 1 (13 agree, 4 undecided, 1 disagree); Day 2 (38 agree, 7 undecided, 4 disagree); and Day 3 (16 agree, 6 undecided). Of the three-day total of 89 people, more than 75% agreed with LEAP's position about drugs: policies should reduce the harms that result from fighting the War on Drugs with the ultimate goal of ending drug prohibition.

Some of the more colorful attendees included:

- The Greetless Greeter. Beginning at the far end of our aisle, a woman sauntered left to right, booth to booth, greeting each one as she passed. Good morning sir, good morning ma'am, that is, until she reached us. Silence. Then onto the next booth. Good morning sir, good morning ma'am.

- The Chemical Bigot. I have found the Chemical Bigotry poster child. A muscular 30-something introduced himself as a veteran of DEA anti- drug missions in Colombia. He just wanted to find out what we were about, he said, while declaring that, if a drugged up pinhead harmed his family, he would kill him. He went on to assert support for the death penalty, suggesting that users should be executed because drugs are against the law. When soft spoken, yet assertive ex-police officer Tim injected reason into the argument, the drug warrior retreated to a libertarian, you-can't-legislate-against-everything viewpoint, only to return to name calling and bullying. Finally, I apologetically replied, "With all due respect, sir, [and reiterating my respect] you are a bigot." He bristled. "I am NOT! Bigots are racists." Calmly, Tim piped in again, "Bigotry involves more than race." Slipping my Ohio Patient Network business card in the warrior's shirt pocket, I told him to read my Chemical Bigotry essay ( The warrior quipped as he ambled away, "We'll have to agree to disagree. You agree that if a druggie hurts my kid, I'm going to kill him, right?"

- The Nutty Professor. When I asked a matronly chemistry professor if she thought the War on Drugs was working, she replied, "No. It's evident in medical students. They're only there to get drugs." "What?" I queried, "I find that hard to believe. Medical school is rigorous and you as a teacher must demand much of your students." "No," she responded, "they know how to game the system." Reflecting her observation, let's see: med students work untold hours to learn a mountain of minutia at a price tag of over $100,000 just to get drugs. Yeah, right.

- The Gateway Theorist. One of the most confusing drug-related conjectures belongs to the Gateway Theory: marijuana inevitably leads to hard drugs. I could see this written on the face of one gentleman as he wavered in his support for decriminalization. Postulating back to him I replied, "Something like 100 million Americans have tried marijuana, yet the number of hard drug users consistently remains around 2 million. Wouldn't you expect many more hard drug users if marijuana were indeed a gateway?" As he processed this query, I could see this logical-thinking public servant transform into an advocate.

- Garden Geometry. A slightly disabled California woman claimed to agree with medical marijuana in concept, but felt that garden sizes were way out of control, indicating to her that cannabis in California is less about medicine than recreation. In response, I pointed to the five legal Compassionate IND patients who receive a tin of 300 marijuana cigarettes each month from the federal government. I explained how the monthly use of just one of them might equate to a 10' x 10' garden with a four-foot canopy. Extrapolating that size to tens if not hundreds of patients multiplies the grow size proportionately. Computing this concept, she appeared to walk away with a change of heart toward the garden dimensions necessary to maintain an adequate patient supply.

Other memorable characters included young woman who briskly parted the crowd, making a beeline toward our booth to tell us about the thesis concerning the drug war she wrote for her Masters in Public Policy. A Southern Ohio township administrator dashed through taking a sample of every brochure we had. We made sure he left with his hands full. Two enlightened Japanese cops, a city manager from Dublin, Ireland, and an academic from Ontario illustrated the international scope of the ICMA and worldwide appreciation for viable drug policy alternatives. Several of the wait staff eagerly digested LEAP information, dismayed that few reform groups seem to exist in the Pittsburgh area. We made sure they visited MAP to find or even begin a local group ( A number of attendees specifically took information for their police chiefs and prosecutors.

Conferences like ICMA's bring together a wide variety of individuals, few of whom are drug policy wonks. Despite how we're sometimes treated by the greetless, the bigots, or the downright nutty, the congregation in reality contains fewer disbelievers than we perceive. Instead - and perhaps the most hearting aspect of the ICMA conference - many, many people stopped by just to show their support and to simply thank LEAP for being there.

Participating with LEAP at the ICMA conference gave me the opportunity to step out of my own comfort zone and speak with scores of people for whom our drug policy reform ideas are uncommon. I clarified inconsistencies, challenged preconceived notions, and, in so doing, believe I changed minds and hearts by personally connecting with the congregation, one ICMA member at a time.

(*) Estimate from the ICMA FY 2007 Year End Financial Results, Annual Business Meeting booklet.

Mary Jane Borden is a writer, artist, and activist in drug policy from Westerville, Ohio. She serves as Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist for DrugSense.


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