THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) TRYING TO BREAK CYCLE OF PRISON AT STREET LEVEL
Pubdate: Fri, 23 Nov 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore
HOUSTON -- Corey Taylor, a convicted drug dealer, recently got out of prison and moved into his grandmother's house in Sunnyside, a south central Houston neighborhood of small, tidy yards.
During his first days home, Mr. Taylor, 26, got a sharp reminder of the neighborhood's chronic problems.
"Out of 10 of my partners, only one is doing anything different," he said, referring to his former drug-dealing companions. "I have some friends I haven't seen for 10 years because either I was locked up or they were locked up."
Last year, 32,585 prisoners were released on state parole in Texas, and many of them returned to neighborhoods where they live among thousands of other parolees and probationers.
Sunnyside is one of 10 neighborhoods in Houston that together accounted for 15 percent of the city's population, yet received half of the 6,283 prisoners released in Houston in 2005, according to the Justice Mapping Center, a criminal justice research group.
The group, which is based in Brooklyn, has done work for the Texas Legislature that helped lead to a $217 million expansion of rehabilitation services.
Neighborhoods like Sunnyside can be found in virtually every big city in the nation. Even as violent crime statistics trend downward, incarceration rates throughout the country remain at a historic high of 750 per 100,000 residents. Each year about 650,000 prisoners are released on parole, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Mapping studies in neighborhoods as distant as the Phoenix suburb of South Mountain and the Newhallville area of New Haven show incarceration rates far higher than the national rate.
The parolees are almost always coming back to areas where support systems, like schools and public assistance programs, receive less money and attention than incarceration does, the studies show. In an effort to break the cycle, Texas this fall began its expansion of services for former inmates, including job training classes, drug treatment programs and psychological counseling.
The approach, based in part on legislative presentations by the Justice Mapping Center, is a sharp departure from the state's longtime criminal justice focus on retribution.
The shift is intended to save the state money by slowing the revolving door between state prisons and neighborhoods like Sunnyside. The parolees released last year cost the state $100 million over the course of their prison terms; the 85 who returned to Sunnyside, population 21,000, accounted for almost $8 million of that, according to data by the mapping group.
(2) ONE IN SEVEN UNDER-13s HAVE TRIED CANNABIS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 23 Nov 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Alan Travis, in Brussels
Referenced: The report http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index407EN.html
Britain Worst in EU on Child Drug Abuse, Report Finds
Adult Cocaine Use Rises, but Cannabis Levels Down
Evidence of a growing pre-teen drug problem in Britain emerged yesterday with research showing that one in seven children have tried cannabis before the age of 13.
The study, reported by the EU's drug agency, says there has been an explosion in the number of children under 15 going into drug treatment across Europe.
The annual report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction shows that the UK's drug problem among young teenagers is far worse than in any other EU country. The research shows that 13% of British schoolchildren say they first tried cannabis before they were 13. This is much higher than any other European country - it compares with 8% in the Netherlands and Ireland - and is more than three times the EU average.
The EU drugs agency also said that the growth of cocaine use in Britain and Spain had proved to be a precursor of a new boom in cocaine use across Europe. The market has grown by a million new users in the past year alone, making it the second most popular illegal drug after cannabis.
Britain is no longer at the top of the European cannabis league among people aged 15-34, with 16.3% using it in the last year compared with 20% for Spain, 19% for the Czech Republic and 16.5% for Italy.
(3) EDITORIAL: HARPER'S MISGUIDED WAR ON POT ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 23 Nov 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Southam Inc.
We are glad to see the Conservative government using the excess lifespan donated by Her Majesty's Opposition to get tough on crime. But was it really necessary to include victimless acts among the list of crimes being targeted?
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's new package of mandatory sentences for marijuana dealers, announced on Tuesday, seems to involve some perverse incentives. Under the bill, a grower who is caught with between one and 200 plants and is found to have the intention of trafficking will receive a non-negotiable minimum of six months in prison, unless he can show that he is eligible for judicially ordered treatment under the auspices of a drug court. The maximum penalty for having a few pot plants on the premises will be increased to 14 years.
Certainly, this will discourage some small-time growers from dealing marijuana, since only a fraction of them now receive jail terms for a first offence. But it's equally certain that it will encourage others to reason that they might as well go to prison for 199 plants as for five.
The government of British Columbia, which is where the effect of the new sentencing guidelines is likely to hit hardest, doesn't think the province is going to transform overnight into a utopia of temperance. The provincial corrections department said on Wednesday that if Mr. Nicholson's guidelines are enacted, it will probably have to find room in its jails for about 700 more marijuana growers per year -- people who are currently punished with house arrest or a fine. And nobody is sure where these additional prisoners are going to be put, since 80% of provincial prisoners in B.C. are already double-bunked and the rest are either in protective custody or are too violent for a cellmate.
There are serious criminal problems to be tackled in this country -- such as those involving gangs and guns. Compared to these, marijuana is simply not on the risk radar screen. It is baffling that, at this point in history, any government in Ottawa would bring an American-style War on Drugs approach to Canada's small-scale marijuana growers.
(4) LEGAL-LEAF BACKERS CLAIM BALLOT SUPPORT ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2007
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: By Herald staff and wire services
BOSTON - Advocates for decriminalizing marijuana in Massachusetts say they've collected more than enough signatures to get the initiative on next year's ballot.
Supporters say they filed about 105,000 signatures - far more than the 67,000 required.
The ballot question would impose civil, not criminal, penalties on anyone caught with 1 ounce or less of marijuana.
Backers say it would save millions in law enforcement costs and spare thousands from getting a criminal record. Opponents say loosening drug laws sets a bad precedent.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
After spending yesterday recognizing all the things I am thankful
for in my personal life, I was pleased to find several positive
pieces in our archives to highlight.
A nod to presidential candidate John Edwards who discussed drug
policy reform at a campus rally. Thousands of recovering addicts
appreciate the safe haven being provided by the community of Delray
Beach, Florida. Many thanks to the ACLU for their preparation of a
law suit against drug testing of Hawaiian public school teachers.
Closing this section with immense gratitude to Julie Stewart for all
the work she has done towards reforming our incredibly unjust
mandatory minimum laws.
After spending yesterday recognizing all the things I am thankful for in my personal life, I was pleased to find several positive pieces in our archives to highlight.
A nod to presidential candidate John Edwards who discussed drug policy reform at a campus rally. Thousands of recovering addicts appreciate the safe haven being provided by the community of Delray Beach, Florida. Many thanks to the ACLU for their preparation of a law suit against drug testing of Hawaiian public school teachers. Closing this section with immense gratitude to Julie Stewart for all the work she has done towards reforming our incredibly unjust mandatory minimum laws.
(5) EDWARDS: WAR ON DRUGS TOO PUNITIVE ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2007
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Author: Tony Leys, Register Staff Writer
Grinnell, Ia. - America needs to reconsider its punitive approach to "the so-called war on drugs," presidential candidate John Edwards said here today.
"We're not going to build enough prisons to solve this problem," he told a crowd of about 800 at Grinnell College.
The former North Carolina senator grinned when a young man sitting behind him on stage asked about drug policy. "Only on college campuses," Edwards joked before answering.
He said he's especially concerned about mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders, which he said should be reconsidered. He added that too few drug offenders get treatment.
"You go to jail, you come out of jail, and a lot of people go right back to the environment that got them in trouble to begin with," he said. "...We need to get them the help that they need; if they need education, if they need job training, if they need drug rehabilitation."
He also said he favored drug courts, in which non-violent offenders often are given alternatives to prison. And he said he would beef up the probation system, so probation officers aren't each expected to oversee hundreds of cases.
(6) RECOVERING ADDICTS FIND HOME ON THE FLORIDA COAST ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Jane Gross
Note: Terry Aguayo contributed reporting from Miami.
Delray Beach, a funky outpost of sobriety between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is the epicenter of the country's largest and most vibrant recovery community, with scores of halfway houses, more than 5,000 people at 12-step meetings each week, recovery radio shows, a recovery motorcycle club and a coffeehouse that boasts its own therapy group.
Recovery communities are springing up outside the walls of rehab centers for alumni seeking the safety in numbers.
The prototype community is in Minnesota, near the Hazelden clinic. But recovering substance abusers are also sinking roots in Arizona, Southern California and the Gold Coast of Florida -- places with more sizzle and better weather. Lindsay Lohan spoke hopefully of finding eternal rehab in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, near Provo, where some graduates of her latest drug treatment center have moved.
Delray Beach is in a class by itself, experts say, because of its compact geography and critical mass of recovering addicts who cross paths daily in the shops and bistros along Atlantic Avenue. They fly beneath the radar of tourists oblivious to telltale signs of addiction, like unapologetic chain smoking. But they see one another everywhere:
It is difficult to count the recovery population here because only residential treatment beds are licensed by the state. As of Nov. 1, almost 3,500 people were being treated as in-patients in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties in southeastern Florida, by far the largest concentration in the state.
Halfway houses, by contrast, are unregulated. But Dr. Jonas said there were about 1,200 halfway house beds in this city alone. With rent averaging $175 a week, these businesses generate almost $11 million a year.
Low-wage jobs for people in recovery are plentiful in a tourist economy. Recovering addicts make smoothies at Ben and Jerry's, and sell housewares at Crate and Barrel. Among the current worker bees are an executive chef and a professional baseball player, both busing tables.
Typically modest bungalows, halfway houses provide structure and supervision -- curfews, random urine tests, the requirement that tenants have jobs and attend meetings. Still, unscrupulous owners prey on tenants by "flipping" the same bed, insisting on several months' rent up front, then evicting someone for rules violations and re-renting the room. Some owners also put rule-breakers out on the curb, with no alternative housing, which can lead to crime and an outcry from neighborhood homeowners.
A movement to ban halfway houses in residential neighborhoods has so far been unsuccessful, with courts ruling that such restrictions violate the Americans with Disability Act. The association of halfway-house owners is trying self-regulation, and its members are required to find a placement for an evicted tenant, often at a discounted rate in a motel Dr. Jonas owns.
(7) GROUP READIES DRUG TEST LAWSUIT ( Top )
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 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.
The policy was added as a non-negotiable item in a contract ratified last spring by the 13,000-member Hawaii State Teachers Association. In May, 61.3 percent of more than 8,000 union members approved the contract, which also provided 4 percent raises in the current and next school years.
Attorney General Mark Bennett has said the ratification makes any legal challenge moot. The ACLU argues that teachers' constitutional right to privacy cannot be negotiated into a contract.
(8) BROTHER'S DRUG SENTENCE IGNITED WOMAN'S CRUSADE ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Avis Thomas-Lester, Washington Post Staff Writer
D.C. Group Helps Win Relaxed Penalties
Julie Stewart was sitting at her desk at a think tank in the District 17 years ago when her telephone rang. It was her brother calling to say he had been busted for growing marijuana.
"How stupid," she recalled thinking. She figured he would get off with a relatively light punishment -- perhaps a little jail time, maybe probation. After all, she reasoned, he had no record. And it was "only" marijuana.
Instead, for cultivating 365 six-inch marijuana plants, Stewart's brother received five years in federal prison, a sentence Stewart considered harsh.
"I was astounded," said Stewart, 51, of Chevy Chase. "We are putting people in prison with sentence lengths that used to be reserved for the most violent offenders."
That was Stewart's introduction to the nation's mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which dictated how much time her brother would spend behind bars. Anguish over that sentence led her to establish Families Against Mandatory Minimums ( FAMM ), one of several advocacy groups credited with persuading the U.S. Sentencing Commission recently to relax the penalties prescribed for some crack cocaine offenses.
A self-described libertarian, Stewart said she believes lawbreakers should face penalties. But the time, she said, should fit the crime.
"I think it's easy for members of Congress to forget how long 10 years is," Stewart said. "Sentences have gotten so inflated in the last 20 years that we no longer think about what that means to the person serving the sentence or their family."
Besides fighting to get mandatory minimums repealed, FAMM also works to change some states' sentencing laws and serves as a resource for organizations across the country.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The one year anniversary of a botched drug raid, which ended in the
death of a 92-year-old woman, gave the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
an opportunity to provide updates in several articles. I have
selected one covering the newly-formed narcotics squad and another
addressing the family's civil suit.
While not quite singing LEAP phrases, it appears that Baltimore's
newest police commissioner will be concentrating his resources on
violent crime. In a recent Baltimore Sun interview he called for
increased funding for quality drug treatment and outlined some
refreshing policy ideas.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. gets the Law Enforcement
Blunder of the Year Award with this quote: "If you're going to fire
every cop who violates the Constitution," Clarke explained, "we're
not going to have many left."
The one year anniversary of a botched drug raid, which ended in the death of a 92-year-old woman, gave the Atlanta Journal-Constitution an opportunity to provide updates in several articles. I have selected one covering the newly-formed narcotics squad and another addressing the family's civil suit.
While not quite singing LEAP phrases, it appears that Baltimore's newest police commissioner will be concentrating his resources on violent crime. In a recent Baltimore Sun interview he called for increased funding for quality drug treatment and outlined some refreshing policy ideas.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. gets the Law Enforcement Blunder of the Year Award with this quote: "If you're going to fire every cop who violates the Constitution," Clarke explained, "we're not going to have many left."
(9) ATLANTA POLICE CHIEF ANNOUNCES NEW NARCOTICS UNIT ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Cameron McWhirter
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the worst scandal to hit the Atlanta Police Department in his four years as leader, Chief Richard Pennington announced that the department's newly revamped anti-drug section is "the best-trained narcotics unit in the Southeast."
With Mayor Shirley Franklin by his side, Pennington said the Nov. 21, 2006, police killing of Kathryn Johnston, 92, in her home on the city's northwest side was a tragedy that "tore at the heart of the community" and caused an overhaul of police training and procedures to ensure such a thing doesn't happen again.
The reborn unit -- doubled from 15 officers to 30 -- has been up and running since the first week of October, Pennington said.
At his news conference at police headquarters, Pennington detailed his overhaul of the narcotics unit, including replacing everyone in the entire unit and putting the new officers through extensive training from outside police agencies.
Other APD narcotics changes include:
* "No-knock" search warrants must be approved by a major.
* Search warrants must be approved by a lieutenant.
* Drugs seized must be field-tested.
* Officers conducting raids will wear special uniforms, not street clothes.
* Narcotics unit officers will be interviewed annually and given random drug tests.
* Informants receiving money for information will have to be paid in the presence of a supervisor.
(10) FAMILY FILES SUIT IN FATAL POLICE RAID ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2007
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Cameron McWhirter, Saeed Ahmed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The family of the 92-year-old woman fatally shot in a botched police raid filed a civil suit against the city and the Police Department on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of a police killing that shocked the nation.
The suit, filed in Fulton County Court by Johnston's family, does not specify a dollar amount, but Markel Hutchins, an Atlanta minister who is serving as a spokesman for the estate, said the family would consider anything less than a multimillion-dollar settlement an insult.
As a comparison, Hutchins cited a reverse-discrimination lawsuit that awarded $17 million to seven white Fulton County librarians who were ousted from their jobs and said the circumstances in that case were "far less egregious."
The suit charges the corrupt practices of the Police Department led to violations of the U.S. Constitution and state law.
It names the city of Atlanta, Pennington and individual officers involved in the fateful raid on Johnston's home.
The officers named include Gregg Junnier and Jason Smith, who have both pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other state charges in the incident.
They face sentencing soon.
It also names Arthur Tesler, who has been indicted on federal charges in the case, and two supervisors involved in the raid, Sgt. W.T. Stallings and Lt. Stacie Gibbs.
Police had raided Johnston's northwest Atlanta house using a warrant obtained with false testimony from an informant. They obtained a "no-knock" search warrant, meaning they could enter the house without warning.
A fearful Johnston apparently thought the police were criminals and brought out an old gun to stop the intruders. She fired one shot and missed. Police fired 39 times, fatally injuring her and wounding other officers.
They handcuffed Johnston as she lay dying, and then several officers attempted to plant marijuana in the house to cover up the mistake. They falsified reports to make it look as though drug dealing had occurred in the house.
The fiasco caused national headlines and led to a hiatus of almost a year on police efforts to shut down drug houses. The city's reborn narcotics unit, made up of entirely new officers, began investigating drug houses in October.
(11) BEALEFELD URGES MORE EFFORT TO FIGHT VIOLENT CRIME ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 19 Nov 2007
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2007 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Gus G. Sentementes, Sun Reporter
Here are excerpts from a 45-minute interview with Bealefeld, during which he questioned how the drug war is being fought and policies of predecessors that led to thousands of questionable arrests:
Fighting drugs: Can anyone in this country say the war on drugs has been a success? If they can, I really don't know who they are. ... We've had victories here and there. But have we solved the drug problem in America?
We can't be overwhelmed by the notion of drug enforcement. The fact of the matter is old strategies, a drug arrest, in the scheme of things, was ranked as high as some other arrests, because the problem was mounted so high on our radar screen. Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs. So cops, a lot of these guys came through their careers thinking, "Man, I got to attack this drug problem ... " We can't do that and give burglars and car thieves and robbers a pass.
Drug treatment: I can tell you this ... without trepidation: We need real investments - and there have been incremental investments - there needs to be real, real work on drug treatment in this city. That has to be done. And we need to come to grips with that. We need real treatment programs, and they have to be effective. That is as important as holding me accountable for arresting more drug offenders. It can't be one or the other
(12) SHERIFF SHRUGS AT DEPUTIES' TRANSGRESSIONS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2007
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Daniel Bice
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. was rightfully angry the other day at officials who shrugged their shoulders after a felon on probation recently failed two drug tests. Clarke went so far as to call Judge Joe Donald "soft."
It was easy to identify with the tough-talking sheriff's frustration.
But now the question must be asked of Clarke: Why did he use such a light touch himself with a half-dozen deputies who violated department policy - and the U.S. Constitution - by entering an empty house without a warrant?
Recall that two of the deputies were less than honest about the improper search in their reports, and county prosecutors have said they won't use the pair on the stand again.
All six walked with nothing more than a written reprimand and some training on the Fourth Amendment.
"If you're going to fire every cop who violates the Constitution," Clarke explained, "we're not going to have many left."
Read that again. It's just a stunning admission for a guy who likes to talk about his high standards.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
As in the U.S., British youngsters are being referred to treatment
in greater numbers for cannabis dependence. It seems many depend on
cannabis to ameliorate anxiety and psychological disorders stemming
from dysfunctional upbringings.
Seemingly oblivious to the U.S. experience, Canada's conservative
government tabled legislation last week that would impose mandatory
minimum prison sentences for various drug crimes, including cannabis
It appears the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care has gathered
more than enough signatures to put a medicinal cannabis initiative on
the 2008 ballot. If the measure is certified and passed by a majority
of voters, it will allow patients to use, possess, and grow their own
with a doctors' approval.
A Denver judge may have cleared the way for compassion clubs in
Colorado by striking down a health department policy which limited
caregivers to five patients or less.
As in the U.S., British youngsters are being referred to treatment in greater numbers for cannabis dependence. It seems many depend on cannabis to ameliorate anxiety and psychological disorders stemming from dysfunctional upbringings.
Seemingly oblivious to the U.S. experience, Canada's conservative government tabled legislation last week that would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for various drug crimes, including cannabis cultivation.
It appears the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care has gathered more than enough signatures to put a medicinal cannabis initiative on the 2008 ballot. If the measure is certified and passed by a majority of voters, it will allow patients to use, possess, and grow their own with a doctors' approval.
A Denver judge may have cleared the way for compassion clubs in Colorado by striking down a health department policy which limited caregivers to five patients or less.
(13) NINE-YEAR-OLDS AMONG THOUSANDS SEEKING HELP WITH THEIR ADDICTION ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 18 Nov 2007
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Brian Brady and Nina Lakhani
Family breakdown and school exclusion are just two factors that are turning Britain's youngsters into drug abusers, especially of cannabis. Last year, more than 9,000 went into treatment - an increase of 20 per cent.
Thousands of British children are receiving treatment for drug abuse as stresses including family breakdown and expulsion from school fuel a rise in young people appealing for help with their addictions.
Official figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday have revealed that more than 9,000 children aged as young as nine entered treatment for drug problems in England last year. The total, revealed by health ministers, was up a fifth on the figure for 2005-06.
More than half the young people in residential treatment units or reporting to GPs and community action teams list cannabis as the main drug they are abusing. But, in a disturbing signal that abuse of class A drugs is creeping into Britain's playgrounds, the proportion of young people in treatment listing cannabis as their principal drug is falling.
The latest Department of Health figures come only days after the school inspection organisation, Ofsted, warned that one in seven 12- to 15-year-olds had tried illegal drugs.
Experts warned that the rising toll of disclosed drug problems did not tell the full story, as many youngsters were suffering in silence - - or refusing to accept that their drug use had become a problem. But they insisted that the most of the youngsters involved were turning to drugs in a desperate attempt to deal with a mountain of problems.
Drugscope spokesman Harry Shapiro said the rise was closely linked to an increase in the stresses facing Britain's youth, documented in a shocking United Nations survey that put the UK bottom of an international table of child well-being.
(14) TORIES REVEAL MANDATORY JAIL TERMS FOR GROWING MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Vancouver Sun
Authors: Richard Foot, Canwest News Service, Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government unveiled legislation Tuesday to create the first mandatory prison terms in Canada for people convicted of trafficking illicit drugs, including those who grow marijuana for profit.
The proposed changes are the newest chapter in the Harper government's sweeping crackdown on crime, which includes bills before Parliament to toughen rules for repeat violent offenders, to keep accused young offenders in jail before their trials, and now, to impose automatic prison penalties on serious drug offenders.
Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act has no mandatory prison sentences. Judges use their own discretion about whether to send drug pushers and growers to jail.
The new bill proposes:
- A mandatory six-month sentence for growing as little as one marijuana plant for the purposes of trafficking, sure to be felt in B.C., where marijuana-growing operations are common and fines are the usual penalty.
- A two-year mandatory term for running a marijuana-growing operation of 500 plants or more.
- A doubling of the maximum prison term for cannabis production from seven to 14 years.
Vancouver's "Prince of Pot," Marc Emery, said he was alarmed by the news, and it will clog the courts and jails.
"You can never beat organized crime as long as you have prohibition," Emery said. "If we just legalized these drugs and distributed them to addicts, we'd see an evaporation of organized crime."
Eugene Oscapella, a criminal lawyer who teaches drug policy at the University of Ottawa, said decades of experience with tough, mandatory penalties in the United States have proven that the threat of prison terms doesn't deter drug traffickers or growers.
(15) LEGAL POT FOR VERY ILL GETS LIFT ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2007 Detroit Free Press
Authors: Dawson Bell and Naomi R. Patton, Free Press Staff Writers
LANSING -- Michigan residents may get a chance to vote next fall on whether to decriminalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, after supporters of the idea submitted nearly a half-million petition signatures to state elections officials Tuesday.
The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care claimed to have gathered the signatures of 496,000 registered voters, far in excess of the 304,000 required to put the issue before the Legislature and, if no action is taken, to state voters.
Dianne Byrum, a former state legislator from Ingham County now working with the coalition, said the use of medical marijuana enjoys broad support around the country and in Michigan.
Twelve states allow citizens some access to medical marijuana, giving seriously ill patients the right to use the drug, mainly for pain relief. They also may be able to grow it. Voters in five cities in Michigan -- Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, Ferndale and Traverse City -- have approved similar ordinances in recent years.
But use and possession of marijuana for any purpose remains illegal under state and federal laws.
Byrum said the Michigan initiative has been narrowly crafted to restrict marijuana use to people who have specific, serious illnesses certified by physicians. It has been endorsed in concept by resolution of the state Democratic Party, said Byrum, a former Democratic state senator and representative who runs a political consulting firm.
(16) MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACCESS EASES ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2007
Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2007 Denver Publishing Co.
Author: Sue Lindsay
Access to medical marijuana will be easier as a result of a ruling by a Denver judge.
District Judge Larry Naves last week overturned a state health department policy that restricted providers of medical marijuana to five patients.
The ruling endorses a settlement reached between the health department and attorneys for AIDS patient Damien LaGoy, who sued after his caregiver request was denied in May based on the five-patient rule.
The denial forced him to buy marijuana on the street, LaGoy said.
"I was in a very dangerous situation," LaGoy said at a news conference Monday. "I was trying to get medical marijuana from some of the darkest spots in town, risking my life at times. I actually have been robbed once trying to find medical marijuana. Also, you never know what you're getting."
Naves granted an injunction this summer preventing the health department from enforcing the policy, which he said was adopted by the department in a closed meeting in 2004.
That ruling led to negotiations in which the state agreed not to enforce the five-patient rule and to notify patients, caregivers and others when considering policies affecting medical marijuana users.
Naves subsequently overturned the five-patient policy, saying its adoption violated the Colorado open meetings act.
"The health department just randomly selected five as the limit in a secret, clandestine meeting that was not open to patients or caregivers or doctors or the scientific community," said attorney Brian Vicente.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
While political parties should be able to debate certain issues,
debating the legalization of cannabis is off-limits, according to
the European prohibitionist organization EURAD. Only "those who have
a vested interest or are merely armchair generals" could debate the
legalization of cannabis, said Grainne Kenny, EURAD spokesperson.
Kenny made the remarks in a letter to Irish Labour Party leaders
last week after the party attempted to simply debate the issue.
"While cannabis is banned and criminalised, criminals will continue
to supply it and young people and others will continue to use it and
will be placed in the hands and control of criminals," noted Labour
party official Emmett Stagg.
Usually, one country must conquer another before the victor may
re-write the laws of the vanquished. But Prohibitionists from
Washington D.C. have descended upon Mexico and are determined to
re-write the Mexicans' drug laws for them. "The Bush
administration's proposed counternarcotics aid package for Mexico
would set in motion a vast reengineering of the country's justice
system, revamping the legal education process." The $500 million
carrot contains money for Mexican military and Mexican police, and
East of Mexico, in the West Indies, the nation of Trinidad and
Tobago was rocked with allegations that "police officers are
involved in the drug and guns trade in the Southern Division."
Police Superintendent Chandrabhan Maharaj made the allegations last
week. The accusations came to light after Maharaj refused a
promotion, citing the entrenched corruption as a reason.
Another year of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's occupation
of the central Asian nation of Afghanistan, and another record
bumper harvest of opium, especially troubling to the western
occupying forces when it is grown in hostile Helmand province in the
south. While some have proposed simply buying the opium from Afghan
farmers, UK PM Gordon Brown has another idea. Why not pay farmers
for not growing opium? Reports did not say how it will be determined
how much opium each farmer has not been growing.
While political parties should be able to debate certain issues, debating the legalization of cannabis is off-limits, according to the European prohibitionist organization EURAD. Only "those who have a vested interest or are merely armchair generals" could debate the legalization of cannabis, said Grainne Kenny, EURAD spokesperson. Kenny made the remarks in a letter to Irish Labour Party leaders last week after the party attempted to simply debate the issue. "While cannabis is banned and criminalised, criminals will continue to supply it and young people and others will continue to use it and will be placed in the hands and control of criminals," noted Labour party official Emmett Stagg.
Usually, one country must conquer another before the victor may re-write the laws of the vanquished. But Prohibitionists from Washington D.C. have descended upon Mexico and are determined to re-write the Mexicans' drug laws for them. "The Bush administration's proposed counternarcotics aid package for Mexico would set in motion a vast reengineering of the country's justice system, revamping the legal education process." The $500 million carrot contains money for Mexican military and Mexican police, and anti-drug propaganda.
East of Mexico, in the West Indies, the nation of Trinidad and Tobago was rocked with allegations that "police officers are involved in the drug and guns trade in the Southern Division." Police Superintendent Chandrabhan Maharaj made the allegations last week. The accusations came to light after Maharaj refused a promotion, citing the entrenched corruption as a reason.
Another year of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's occupation of the central Asian nation of Afghanistan, and another record bumper harvest of opium, especially troubling to the western occupying forces when it is grown in hostile Helmand province in the south. While some have proposed simply buying the opium from Afghan farmers, UK PM Gordon Brown has another idea. Why not pay farmers for not growing opium? Reports did not say how it will be determined how much opium each farmer has not been growing.
(17) ANTI-DRUGS LOBBY CONDEMNS PARTY FOR LEGALISATION DEBATE ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 19 Nov 2007
Source: Irish Independent (Ireland)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd
Author: Fionnan Sheahan
Anti-drugs campaigners yesterday criticised the Labour Party for even debating the legalisation of cannabis.
The party kicked to touch a call for the decriminalisation, regulation and taxation of the supply of marijuana and cannabis.
A motion at the party conference, supported by Labour chief whip Emmett Stagg, was passed on to the national executive for further consideration.
"While cannabis is banned and criminalised, criminals will continue to supply it and young people and others will continue to use it and will be placed in the hands and control of criminals," he said.
But Europe Against Drugs (EURAD) spokeswoman, Grainne Kenny, in a letter to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and deputy leader Joan Burton, criticised the debate.
"I am indeed surprised that the 'new' Labour Party is wasting precious time at your very important conference debating an issue that is wearing thin, except of course to those who have a vested interest or are merely armchair generals," she said.
(18) ANTI-DRUG PLAN WOULD RECAST LEGAL SYSTEM IN MEXICO ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 18 Nov 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post Foreign Service
MEXICO CITY -- The Bush administration's proposed counternarcotics aid package for Mexico would set in motion a vast reengineering of the country's justice system, revamping the legal education process, creating a network of court clerks and helping to write new laws, according to two summaries obtained by The Washington Post.
The $500 million plan would also fund anti-drug and human rights campaigns and new citizen complaint centers. It would provide money for efforts to develop "centers of moral authority" and for media campaigns to create "a culture of lawfulness."
Under the plan, which has drawn criticism from some on Capitol Hill, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons would conduct training sessions and military officers would provide instruction related to aircraft.
Nearly every sector of Mexico's federal justice system would receive a slice of the proposed aid, with millions being doled out for equipment and training for prosecutors, federal police, prison managers and customs inspectors. It would also give birth to new institutions: Money has been set aside, for instance, to help establish a training academy for drug-sniffing dogs and their handlers.
The documents include unusually blunt criticisms of Mexico, with one declaring that "there is widespread popular distrust within Mexico for its law enforcement institutions."
While the documents provide a trove of details about the drug plan, some areas are not fully fleshed out. Half a million dollars would be set aside for media campaigns designed to create a "culture of lawfulness" and for helping nongovernmental organizations develop "centers of moral authority." But the document does not define a center of moral authority.
(19) DIRTY COPS DOWN SOUTH ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2007
Source: Trinidad Express (Trinidad)
Copyright: 2007 Trinidad Express
Author: Richard Charan
Senior Officer Refuses Promotion
An investigation has been launched into claims made by a Police Superintendent that police officers are involved in the drug and guns trade in the Southern Division.
The allegation that rampant corruption exists in the division was made by Supt Chandrabhan Maharaj, in a letter written to Police Commissioner Trevor Paul.
In the letter, Maharaj, who is in charge of the Princes Town Police Station, refused to accept a promotion to the position of Acting Senior Superintendent in charge of the entire Southern Division because of the alleged crooked activities of police officers.
(20) BID TO WIPE OUT AFGHAN OPIUM FAILED, SAYS UN ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 17 Nov 2007
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
The head of the UN's anti-narcotics unit has called on Nato forces to crack down on heroin production in Afghanistan -- a policy which contradicts proposals by the Brown government.
Gordon Brown will propose paying farmers more than they earn from their poppy harvests in return for ceasing to grow the crop when he makes a statement to the Commons in the next few weeks on his strategy for winning over Afghans and curbing the influence of the Taliban.
Thus far the British campaign to destroy poppy production has been an abject failure, according to the annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The biggest growth area is in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold, where British forces are fighting daily battles.
British and allied forces are looking at ways of targeting the heroin dealers by destroying drug factories inside Afghanistan. However, British ministers are keen to avoid alienating the farmers who are making a living out of the poppy crop.
That has caused tensions with the U.S. administration, which has been pressing Britain to support aerial spraying to destroy the crop. But aerial spraying is opposed by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and a senior Downing Street official made it clear yesterday that Mr Brown will call for a more sympathetic approach to the farmers. "We have to work closely with the communities involved," he said.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UNODC, gave new figures showing Afghanistan's export of drugs to the West was fuelling the insurgency in Afghanistan. Releasing the final draft of its 2007 Afghan opium survey, the UNODC chief said poppy growth increased 17 per cent to 193,000 hectares and the growth in heroin production leapt a third to 8,200 tonnes.
The report shows that Afghanistan now accounts for 93 per cent of world opium production and is the biggest narcotics producer since 19th-century China. Helmand produces about half of the national output of heroin. Farmers gained around $1bn (UKP 500m) from the total income from the heroin trade, estimated at $4bn, while district officials took a percentage through a levy on the crops. The rest was shared among insurgents, warlords and drugs traffickers, it said.
The wholesale price of a gram of heroin grew with every border crossed, it noted, rising from $2.50 in Afghanistan itself to $3.50 in Pakistan and Iran, $8 in Turkey, $22 in Germany, $30 in Britain and $33 in Russia.
"The potential windfall for criminals, insurgents and terrorists is staggering and runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars," Mr Costa said.
"Since drugs are funding the insurgency, Nato has a self-interest in supporting Afghan forces in destroying drugs labs, markets and convoys. Destroy the drug trade and you cut off the Taliban's main funding source."
Lord Malloch-Brown, the Foreign Office minister, told peers recently that the Department for International Development was preparing plans to provide long-term payments to farmers for stopping poppy production and growing alternative crops.
However, a British charity, the Senlis Council, is winning support from MPs for an alternative plan to buy up the annual poppy harvest for morphine, which is in short supply.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
OBAMA, DRUGS AND EVERYONE ELSE ( Top )
By Froma Harrop
And so Barack Obama tells high school kids in New Hampshire that he "made some bad decisions" at their age. He "experimented" with pot and cocaine. This is old news -- but even if it were new news, it would be ho-hum in today's politics.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
11/21/07 - Dr. David Bearman speaks to Wisconsin Medical School
Century of Lies
11/20/07 - Medical Marijuana to Senior Citizens and "Flushing Kids Down the Toilet"
LEAP SPEAKER JERRY PARADIS ON THE AIR IN CALGARY ( Top )
Guest Jerry Paradis and caller Alison Myrden of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition discuss proposed mandatory minimum prison sentences on The World Tonight, CHQR AM Radio, Calgary, Alberta, November 22, 2007
THE ADDICT'S VETO ( Top )
By Jacob Sullum
Why should problem gamblers ruin online betting for everyone?
LEGAL EASE WITH KIRK TOUSAW ( Top )
Criminal lawyer and friend to the Cannabis Culture, Kirk Tousaw discusses Canadian cannabis law, his current case with The Vancouver Island Compassionate Society and gives an update on the "BC3" extradition proceedings.
TEXAS WORST COURT: COPS CAN HAND OUT DOPE TO CREATE SNITCHES ( Top )
Grits for Breakfast
If court watchers didn't already have enough reasons to disdain the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which Texas Monthly famously called "Texas' Worst Court," now they've ruled that it's okay for police officers to distribute drugs to informants in order to convince them to become snitches.
RICHARD PAEY SPEAKS ( Top )
An interview with the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain.
UNLOCKING AMERICA ( Top )
Why and How to Reduce America's Prison Population
By James Austin [et al.], JFA Institute, November 2007
BRITAIN'S FIRST DRUG 'SHOOTING GALLERIES' HAILED A SUCCESS ( Top )
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
A trial scheme which set up "shooting galleries" in three cities, enabling heroin users to obtain drugs and inject them under supervision, has dramatically cut crime rates and stopped addicts buying their supplies on the streets.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
BECOME A MAP VOLUNTEER FROM THE COMFORT OF HOME ( Top )
MPP DOWNLOAD MATERIALS ( Top )
Looking for materials to distribute in your community to help educate others about the need for marijuana policy reform? Download printer- friendly PDFs of some of MPP's most popular brochures and other materials here:
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
OUTCOME OF TEACHERS' CASE IS TRAGIC AND TOO SEVERE ( Top )
By Deb Walker
Regarding the Oct. 27 article, "Former Gull Lake teachers sentenced for growing pot," I don't know any more of the facts than what I read and I haven't heard any of the local gossip since my youngest child graduated from Gull Lake High School in 2002, but I was deeply saddened to hear about the legal troubles facing Brett and Keri Johnson.
Both of my children were students of Mr. Johnson's. My oldest child had Mr. Johnson when he was a student teacher at Gull Lake, and my youngest child had Mr. Johnson as an English teacher for several classes. They both liked him very much. I thought he was an excellent teacher, also.
I think the penalties the Johnsons face, including possibly losing their home and their teaching licenses, already having lost their jobs at Gull Lake, are far too severe for what they have done.
I don't use marijuana or alcohol, but I cannot condemn those ADULTS who do use them in moderation.
The Johnsons were not harming anyone else by their actions. They are not accused of selling marijuana, pushing it to their students, teaching classes while impaired, giving it to their own children or making their own children suffer the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke. The punishment does not fit the crime in this case.
People who choose to drink alcohol and drive and injure and/or kill others face less punishment. I think what has happened to the Johnsons is tragic, and I think they deserve support at this difficult time.
Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2007
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette (MI)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
UNPARALLEL PATHS ( Top )
By Mary Jane Borden
The statistics are staggering. In 2006, marijuana arrests reached a record 829,627, with one occurring every 38 seconds. Of these, 89% involved mere possession, not sale or 'manufacture'. (1) The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2004 that state and federal prisons held 41,507 individuals on marijuana-related offenses. (2)
So, when Irv Rosenfeld of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, lit a joint at a press conference this past Tuesday, November 20, the fact that he wasn't arrested should be newsworthy by itself. But the absence of handcuffs, Miranda warnings, plea agreements, and parole officers are what make Irv Rosenfeld a prominent public figure and what formed the basis for this groundbreaking press conference. That day, he celebrated his 25th anniversary as the second individual to participate in FDA's now defunct Compassionate IND program. He marked this 'Silver Anniversary' by pulling another pre-rolled joint out of a round, silver tin containing 300 such cigarettes that he continues to receive each month from the federal government.
To me, Irv would have been just another reform advocate had it not been for a video of him taken on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the U.S. vs. Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative hearing. In that video, he uttered four magic words, "Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis." I played it over and over.
That snowy February evening, I had returned from the Alzheimer's care unit where my father lay dying. Until that video, my dad was only one of three people whom I had ever known to have 'Multiple Exostosis.' My son and I were the other two. In a matter of days, I would lose one of those people, only to find another. It had always been comforting to be close to someone who understood this condition so well.
Multiple Exostosis is a rather rare disorder, occurring in one of every 50,000 people, for an estimated 5,000 cases nationwide. (3) It is characterized by numerous lesions called tumors, which occur at the end of long bones and can result in a deformity of the bone, pain, spasticity, and even cancer.
Even though we share an uncommon condition, it's hard to suggest that Irv's life and my life followed parallel paths. Although we're almost the same age, Irv's condition occurred spontaneously, while mine manifested genetically. Irv learned he had it after a childhood baseball injury; I knew from birth. We both grew up in middle class homes, but his condition was treated in a prestigious New England medical center; I went to a community hospital. By age 17, we both had relearned walking as a result of multiple surgeries. Irv underwent four procedures, three on his left leg and one on his right wrist; I had tumors removed from both of my knees.
We both entered college in the early 1970s, and because it was, well, the 1970s, experimentation with marijuana was a 'required course.' From cannabis, Irv regained the ability to sit for more than 10 minutes. I was introduced to cannabis by my boyfriend and have enjoyed a 35-year love affair with both ever since.
During the early 1980s, Irv was accepted into the FDA's Compassionate IND program, which provided cannabis to patients who could complete a complex application process. I tracked this program through that decade as a market analyst for a pharmaceutical company. In the early 1990s, the program closed to all but current patients at about the same time a corporate merger eliminated my job.
Both Irv and I have gone on to successful careers, which defy the stereotypes that often accompany marijuana. As a Ft. Lauderdale stockbroker, Irv handles financial transactions each day in the millions of dollars. He is also a skilled disabled sailor and avid softball player. A graphic designer by trade, I earned my APR (5) certification in 2000 and, shortly thereafter, joined the staff of DrugSense/MAP and co-founded the Ohio Patient Network.
Fast-forward to 2007 finds us both well-known medical marijuana activists who share the same rare bone disorder. This commonality is where our unparallel paths end.
When medical marijuana laws slice and dice qualifiers, the condition becomes a pivotal point. Have the more common cancer, glaucoma, or Multiple Sclerosis, and you're in. Have a rare disorder like Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis and you're out ... unless you have been grandfathered into the Compassionate IND program.
This program accords Irv the special privilege of lighting a joint at a press conference without fear of arrest or prosecution. He will not lose any driving privileges or professional licenses. There will be no handcuffs, Miranda warnings, plea agreements, and parole officers. Unlike me, if I were to do the same, he will never become a statistic.
And that's the poignant irony. The Compassionate IND program showed what was possible for those with both common and rare medical conditions. It was based on cannabis' therapeutic value, a physician's care, a prescription, and a distribution model. Under the Compassionate IND, participants - even 25 years later - cannot be arrested, prosecuted, or hassled in any way for their marijuana use.
Irv is a remarkable man. He could remain a successful Ft. Lauderdale stockbroker, who quietly receives his government-issued silver tin each month. Instead, he chooses to venture into a world where others risk arrest to testify before the cameras about the difference that cannabis has made in his life. He is a hero to many.
To me, however, there is a unique connection. I hearken back to that snowy February evening, remembering the special man that Irv replaced. Irv holds an esteemed position. He is now only one of three people whom I have ever known to have Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis.
Happy 25th Anniversary, Irv. May our paths converge to end this war on medicinal cannabis.
(1) "War Against Marijuana Consumers" NORML http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3400
(2) "Senate Committee Weighs Costs of 'Mass Incarceration' as Marijuana Arrests Top 800,000," Marijuana Policy Project. http://drugsense.org/url/25hYzkvg
(3) "The Genetics of Hereditary Multiple Exostosis (HME)," Sandra A. Darilek, MS and Jaqueline T. Hecht, PhD. http://drugsense.org/url/26WU5cOZ
(4) Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). http://www.prsa.org/PD/apr/index.html
Mary Jane Borden is a writer, artist, and activist in drug policy, with a focus on medical marijuana. She serves as the Fundraising Specialist/Business Manager for DrugSense/MAP. This article was composed with the grateful assistance of Irv Rosenfeld to mark his 25th anniversary as a Compassionate IND patient.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." -- Brian Tracy
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