THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) GERALD LE DAIN, 83: JURIST
Pubdate: Thu, 3 Jan 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Noreen Shanahan, Special to The Globe and Mail
His Landmark Commission on Drugs Urged Legalizing Marijuana in 1973
Already a Respected Legal Scholar, He Became an Improbable Counterculture Icon at the Height of the Hippy Era by Recommending Leniency and the Decriminalization of Recreational Drugs
TORONTO -- Gerald Le Dain's respect for civil liberties went so far as to rouse John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their bed. It was 1969, the year of the couple's "bed-in for peace" at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, and the year Judge Le Dain began chairing the much- referenced but largely ignored Commission of Inquiry into the Non- Medical Use of Drugs.
The Le Dain commission's final report was one of the most politically explosive documents ever put before the federal government. The commission held 46 days of public hearings, received 365 submissions and heard from 12,000 people in about 30 cities and at more than 20 university campuses across the country. In its final report, in 1973, the commission recommended decriminalizing marijuana possession because the law-enforcement costs of prohibition were too great, and suggested that Canada focus on frank education rather than harsh penalization. It also recommended treatment for heroin addiction and sharp warnings about nicotine and alcohol. This was delivered at a time when hysteria about the evils of pot was on everyone's lips and many parents wanted the law to save their drug-addled teenagers.
In 1990, the U.S. Drug Policy Alliance instituted an award in Gerald Le Dain's name, to be given to individuals involved in law who have worked within official institutions "when extremist pressures dominate government policies." The influential organization includes law- enforcement officials, academics, professionals, health-care workers, drug users and former users. "We sought to name the awards after our heroes," said founder Arnold Trebach. "Gerald Le Dain was certainly one of them. Few people realize the level of hate directed at drug users and drug policy reformers decades ago."
Judge Le Dain, the first Canadian to be so honoured, had earlier been made a companion of the Order of Canada.
Gerald Eric Le Dain was born on Nov. 27, 1924, in Montreal. He died in his sleep at home on Dec. 18, 2007. He was 83. He is survived by his son Eric and daughters Barbara, Jennifer and Caroline. He was predeceased by his wife, Cynthia, and by daughters Jacqueline and Catherine.
(2) COLUMN: A MATTER OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jan 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Author: Colby Cosh, National Post
On Dec. 31, the National Post comment pages published an open letter by columnist Karen Selick that asked Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to intervene in the extradition process against "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 21. For years, Mr. Emery has been openly running a lucrative business in mail-order marijuana seeds, selling to customers in both Canada and the U.S. Though this is technically illegal in both countries, the Vancouver police and the federal authorities took an indulgent view for years; Mr. Emery even reported his income to Revenue Canada and paid taxes, listing his occupation explicitly as "marijuana seed vendor."
Now Mr. Emery faces the possibility of lifelong imprisonment in a U.S. federal penitentiary without parole. Needless to say, it is a fate he has done much to tempt. He has been an overt opponent of the DEA and the U.S. government, and never concealed his seed sales to the United States or made any effort to avoid selling to American customers. Quite the contrary: As he told CBS's 60 Minutes last year, "The whole idea was that I would help facilitate the growth of so much marijuana that the DEA and all the agencies of the United States would never be able to destroy it at the rate I would help create it and that, ultimately, I, one man, would neutralize the work of the entire DEA with their multi-billion dollar budget."
He has taken his battle to the propaganda front too, making highly visible donations to anti-prohibition groups in the United States. It's no surprise to him that the Americans want to clap him in irons. What might have been a surprise was the election of a Conservative government in Canada, one which has made tougher laws against marijuana growers and users a cornerstore of its political agenda.
Still, that should not deter us from a fair assessment of his incredibly risky argument-by-botany. Many of those who consider Mr. Emery's plight get distracted by what sometimes seems like a desire for martyrdom on his part, or by the ethical and medical considerations surrounding the use of marijuana. The plain fact is that Canadian law never practically considered his seed business a major peril to public order or morals, or it would have done something about it. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of mail-order growers are continuing in the trade in B.C. even now. Marijuana is recognized as having medical benefits by our government, as it is in the law of nearly a dozen U.S. states. The U.S. is using the technical presence of an unenforced law on our books to carry its drug war onto our soil. If the Honourable Mr. Nicholson allows this to reach its logical conclusion, and Mr. Emery is sent south for notional crimes committed entirely on Canadian soil, it will constitute a blow to our national sovereignty.
After all, just imagine for a moment that the positions were reversed -- that by some historical quirk, it was the U.S. that had adopted liberal attitudes toward marijuana, while we were suppressing it here at home with paramilitary force and penalties normally reserved for killers and armed robbers. Does anybody think for a moment that a Canadian politician or prosecutor could blithely dash off a letter to Massachusetts or Texas and have U.S. law enforcement mobilized from coast to coast to deliver a peaceable, otherwise law-abiding American seed dealer into our hands?
The Americans wouldn't stand for it. They'd raise hell about foreigners telling them how to run their country. And they'd be right to do it. The principle of extradition between friendly neighbouring democracies is an important one, but where ideas of justice are expressed in such a different manner as they are on a point like this -- where the people of two countries so plainly disagree about what is right -- co-operation is tantamount to a surrender of values.
(3) ROGUE COPS GET STIFF SENTENCES FOR SHAKING DOWN DRUG DEALERS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jan 2008
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Jeff Coen, Tribune staff reporter
25 Years for Alleged Ringleader of Group That Robbed Dealers
Three rogue Chicago police officers who robbed drug dealers of cash and narcotics were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday by a federal judge who said the misconduct left him "at a total loss."
U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman appeared most disturbed that the officers resold the stolen drugs, putting "lethal poison" back onto streets that they had sworn to serve and protect.
"You and your merry band essentially raped and plundered entire areas," said the judge, noting the robberies by the plainclothes tactical officers in the Englewood District took place in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
The ring damaged the reputations of good cops and sullied the entire legal system in neighborhoods where trust of the police already may have been at its thinnest, the judge said.
"People see and hear what goes on in these courtrooms, and the next time they look at a police officer, they see you," Guzman said.
The judge sentenced Broderick Jones, 36, the alleged ringleader, to 25 years in prison; Darek Haynes, 37, to 19 years; and Eural Black, 44, the only officer to take his case to trial, to 40 years, the statutory minimum he could receive under the law.
Five officers in all were indicted in 2005 for robbing dealers while on-duty after being tipped to drug deals about to go down. The officers wore their stars and body armor and often tried to make the "rip-offs" appear to be legitimate traffic stops.
One drug dealer, Brent Terry, 36, was also sentenced Thursday to more than 20 years for helping target dealers for Jones.
(4) AGENTS WARN OF NEW DRUG HITTING U.S. ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jan 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Webpage: http://drugsense.org/url/3063rABP Copyright: 2008 The Detroit News
Author: Santiago Esparza, The Detroit News
Federal Officials Say 'Extreme Ecstasy' Is a Potent Drug Laced With Methamphetamines.
Federal agents are targeting a turbo-charged form of Ecstasy that is gaining in popularity, fearing it will lead to fatal overdoses similar to ones experienced a few years ago caused by heroin mixed with fentanyl.
Michigan and nine other states along Canada's border would see the first wave of any such overdoses, and officials are warning that the so-called "extreme Ecstasy," which is mixed with methamphetamines, is becoming a problem.
"They (drug dealers) are remarketing and packaging it and trying to glamorize it," said Scott Burns, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "We just went through this issue with fentanyl. We learned a lot of things from that. We have to get on it early and get on it aggressively."
Lax views toward drug use in Canada, coupled with successes scored by U.S. agents against European Ecstasy producers and smugglers, have fueled the problem, Burns said.
Federal agents seized about 5.4 million dosage units of Ecstasy in the 10 states near the Canadian border in 2006, up dramatically from the 568,000 units seized in 2003, according to statistics from Burns' office.
About 55 percent of the units had methamphetamines in them, Burns said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officials do not dispute that their country has seen an increase in Ecstasy production or smuggling. They said 5.2 million units smuggled in from Canada were seized in the United States in 2004, up from 1.1 million in 2004, according to data collected with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, RCMP officials said.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
A year-end report out of Pennsylvania suggested that deaths related
to oxycontin have decreased, deaths related to methadone have
increased. At the same time, one Pennsylvania newspaper took the
time to determine whether officials were following the law when they
charged a man with possessing a toad with the intent of licking it.
A pair of interesting opinion pieces fill out the section this week;
the first features Cynthia Tucker cogently dissecting the racial
implications of the drug war again; and Stanton Peele explaining why
presidential candidates who have tried drugs show that the drug war
is an unnecessary waste.
A year-end report out of Pennsylvania suggested that deaths related to oxycontin have decreased, deaths related to methadone have increased. At the same time, one Pennsylvania newspaper took the time to determine whether officials were following the law when they charged a man with possessing a toad with the intent of licking it.
A pair of interesting opinion pieces fill out the section this week; the first features Cynthia Tucker cogently dissecting the racial implications of the drug war again; and Stanton Peele explaining why presidential candidates who have tried drugs show that the drug war is an unnecessary waste.
(5) METHADONE-RELATED DEATHS SOAR ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 23 Dec 2007
Source: Tribune-Democrat, The (PA)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune-Democrat
Author: Julie Benamati
A recent report issued by the National Drug Intelligence Center indicates an alarming trend in the number of methadone-related deaths - -- estimated to be about a 400 percent increase since 1999.
And while some local experts agree that the NDIC's figure mirrors that of local trends, they say the increase is not a result of methadone clinics, commonly frequented by drug addicts to treat heroin addiction.
According to the report, methadone-related deaths increased from 786 in 1999 to almost 4,000 in 2004, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In comparison, the number of cocaine-related deaths during the same period increased 43 percent.
In addition to treating heroin addiction, methadone is a commonly prescribed narcotic used to treat chronic pain.
Key findings of the report say the total amount of methadone distributed in the last five years has increased, with the greatest percentage occurring at the practitioner level.
In addition, thefts of the drug from manufacturers and distributors, such as pharmacies, are on the rise.
Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski agrees with NDIC's assessment.
"Most of the drug deaths that we have had lately are methadone-related," Kwiatkowski said. "For most of them, it's just like NDIC says ... it's coming from a prescription."
Kwiatkowski said methadone has become the illegal drug of choice on the street.
"It seems like methadone has taken over for Oxycontin," Kwiatkowski said. "We don't see ( Oxycontin ) deaths like we used to.
"Three or four years ago, there was a lot of Oxycontin on the streets, and the drug task force and FDA really busted down on the Oxycontin pushers," he continued. "Now there is a trend for methadone."
Kwiatkowski said people are obtaining prescriptions from physicians and then selling it on the street. Others are stealing the drug.
(6) DRUG CZAR: JUST SAY NO TO TOAD LICKING ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 27 Dec 2007
Source: Evening Sun (Hanover, PA)
Copyright: 2007 Evening Sun
Author: Rick Lee, For The Evening Sun
After he stopped laughing, York County drug czar Bill Graff got on the phone with the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab.
"You can lick all the toads you want," had been Graff's initial response. "I don't think it's a crime. There's nothing in the ( state ) crimes code banning the licking of toads."
Graff didn't believe it, but the question of toad licking came up after a man was arrested in November in Missouri, accused of possession of a Colorado River toad with the intent to lick it to get high.
But the chemists at the crime lab informed Graff, the county's first assistant district attorney and head of the county drug task force, that certain members of the bufo toad family - specifically the Colorado River toad and the cane toad - secrete bufotenine, a hallucinogenic alkaloid and a Schedule I controlled substance under both federal and state drug laws.
The chemists told Graff the question of toad licking to get high does not come up very often. They said they vaguely remembered a toad licking case "a long time Advertisement ago." The toads in question are native to western and southwestern states.
"I stand corrected," Graff said. "It's not just an urban legend.
"So, I guess if you caught someone with a Colorado River toad, you could charge them with a Schedule I violation. It's no different from mushrooms or LSD. You would have to prove they intended to use them to lick. I mean not having them as pets.
"It would be delivery of a controlled substance, and the package is the frog, I mean the toad."
Pennsylvania State law does not specifically address bufo toads or any other non-endangered amphibians.
(7) COLUMN: DECADES LATER, WAR ON DRUGS IS STILL A LOSER ( Top )
Pubdate: Suni, 30 Dec 2007
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Column: My Opinion
Author: Cynthia Tucker
You don't hear much about the nation's "war on drugs" these days. It's a has-been, a glamorless geezer, a holdover from bygone days. Its glitz has been stolen by the "war on terror," which gets the news media hype and campaign trail rhetoric. Railing against recreational drug use and demanding that offenders be locked away is so '90s.
But the drug war proceeds, mostly away from news cameras and photo ops, still chewing up federal and state resources and casting criminal sanctions over entire neighborhoods. Some four or so decades into an intensive effort to stamp out recreational drug use, billions of dollars have been spent; thousands of criminals, many of them foreigners, have been enriched; and hundreds of thousands of Americans have been imprisoned. And the use of illegal substances continues unabated.
With the nation poised on the brink of a new political era, isn't it time to abandon the wrongheaded war on drugs? Isn't it time to admit that this second Prohibition has been as big a failure as the last - the one aimed at alcohol?
Every war has its collateral damage, and the war on drugs is no different. As it happens, its unintended victims have been disproportionately black. The stunning rise in incarceration rates for black men began after the nation became serious about stamping out recreational drug use.
In 1954, black inmates accounted for 30 percent of the nation's prison population, according to Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group that advocates alternative sentencing. Fifty years later, he wrote, blacks account for almost half of all prison admissions. Much of that increase has come from arrests for drug crimes. Very few of those black men are wildly successful drug lords, such as the Harlem kingpin Frank Lucas, portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film "American Gangster." Instead, they are usually penny-ante dealers addicted to their product.
(8) OPED: DRUG USE AND THE CANDIDATES ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 31 Dec 2007
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Stanton Peele
In his 1996 autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," presidential candidate Barack Obama admitted using alcohol and drugs in high school.
He was unusually frank compared to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- to name just two politicians reputed to have used drugs.
Mr. Obama raised the issue again in November in Manchester, N.H. In response to a request by Central High School's principal that he reveal his "human side," he discussed his high school years in Hawaii: "I was kind of a goof-off. . . . There were times when I got into drinking and experimented with drugs." He added that he had righted himself to become a "grind" by the end of college.
Then an influential New Hampshire Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, Bill Shaheen, said Mr. Obama's drug use made him vulnerable to attacks from Republicans. Mr. Shaheen quickly retracted his remarks, but voter attention was directed to the candidate's teen behavior just weeks before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary.
Are there many other prominent people who used illicit substances when young? Messrs. Bush and Clinton are likely only the tip of the iceberg. According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey, in 2007 about half of high school seniors had used an illegal drug. More than seven of 10 seniors had consumed alcohol, and 55% had been drunk.
In fact, 44% drank alcohol in the past month.
These figures rise and fall over the years: In 1980, the spring of Mr. Obama's 18th year, two-thirds of seniors had used an illicit drug and more than 70% had consumed alcohol in the past month. There has been massive drug and underage alcohol use by Americans over the years -- more than 110 million Americans, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, have used illicit drugs.
Yet the overwhelming majority of them -- like Messrs. Bush, Clinton and Obama -- have grown up to be productive citizens.
Some believe there's no need to know about their youthful misconduct.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
While politicians are still trying to think of new ways to get tough
on meth, their excesses are starting to be exposed by the people
impacted by the laws, like one mother from Arkansas. She may find
those excesses hard to undo, as story in the New York Times about
the unintended consequences of Newark, New Jersey's war on crack
shows. Also, another county takes a hard look at the drug war's race
statistics; and major newspaper rightfully mocks a state legislature
for taking the time to ban Salvia divinorum when the state clearly
has more serious problems.
While politicians are still trying to think of new ways to get tough on meth, their excesses are starting to be exposed by the people impacted by the laws, like one mother from Arkansas. She may find those excesses hard to undo, as story in the New York Times about the unintended consequences of Newark, New Jersey's war on crack shows. Also, another county takes a hard look at the drug war's race statistics; and major newspaper rightfully mocks a state legislature for taking the time to ban Salvia divinorum when the state clearly has more serious problems.
(9) MOTHER WORKS TO MAKE SHORTENED SENTENCES FOR METH OFFENSES ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 23 Dec 2007
Source: Morning News, The (Springdale, AR)
Copyright: 2007 The Stephens Media Group
Author: Rob Moritz, The Morning News
LITTLE ROCK -- The one thing Lynn Burch wants for Christmas more than anything else is for her son to come home from prison.
Nearly four years ago, Lynn and her husband, Jeff, who live in Springdale, watched as their middle son, Daniel, stood before a judge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver.
The highly addictive drug, which had already made addicts of her two other boys -- they have since gone into drug rehab and have kicked the habit -- had their third son in its clutches.
Daniel Burch was sentenced under a 1997 state law that added meth offenses to the list of crimes that require murderers, rapists and other violent offenders to serve at least 70 percent of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
"It's heartbreaking," Lynn Burch said. "I've never said my son shouldn't do time. But I don't think they need to send him away for seven years when he was 23 years old. He won't get out until he's 30.
"He's having to serve more time than some child molesters or people that rape ... Ricky Crisp even served less time and he was convicted of killing two."
Crisp, whose 16-month-old daughter and her 4-month-old cousin died in a sweltering car after he and a friend went looking for mushrooms and arrowheads, was convicted in early 1999 of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The Garfield man was paroled in December 2002 after serving just over three years in prison.
"I just don't understand it. I've just given up asking why," Lynn Burch said.
She said her son and other meth offenders need rehabilitation and treatment rather than extended prison time. She said she has counseled and helped several friends of her sons who are addicted to the drug kick the habit.
(10) DRUG WAR, MINUS SIGNS, PERSISTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 29 Dec 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Kevin Coyne
AS he drove slowly along the streets he first traveled more than 40 years ago, when he was still a young parole officer who wished he could do more than just check in and move on, David Kerr was looking for a sign.
"It's been a while since I've seen one," he said about the signs that are meant to mark the 1,000-foot perimeter around all schools within which the penalty for dealing drugs is mandatory and more severe than elsewhere. "The problem is, there are schools everywhere. 'Entering Newark, Drug-Free School Zone,' that's what the signs should say."
But block after block, school after school, none were to be found. The "Drug-Free School Zone" signs may be mostly gone here in the Central Ward, but their impact persists, and they have surfaced again at the center of a policy debate that exposes the wide gulf between the two New Jerseys: the one that is dense and urban and heavily black and Hispanic; and the one that is not.
"It snares everybody, and really does nothing but put nonviolent addicts in jail for a long time, people who should be in treatment instead," said Mr. Kerr, 65, who left his state parole job in 1968 and started what is now the state's oldest and largest drug-treatment center, Integrity House, which has 360 always-full beds -- in one large building in Secaucus, and 18 smaller ones in Newark -- and a waiting list of 450. "It's clear it's just a net that's very biased toward any community that has schools close together, like Newark."
It was hard to argue against drug-free school zones when they were established in New Jersey as part of a tough antidrug law in 1987. Crack was spreading, and the war on drugs was escalating, arming the police and prosecutors with new legal weapons. Dealers anywhere near schoolchildren? Lock them up.
(11) JAIL MORE LIKELY FOR BLACK DRUG USERS, STUDY FINDS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 29 Dec 2007
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2007 Chattanooga Publishing Co.
Author: Adam Crisp, Staff Writer
Black Hamilton County residents are sent to prison on drug convictions 19 times more often per capita than whites, but local District Attorney Bill Cox challenged the recent study that reached the conclusion.
The study, compiled by the nonprofit Justice Policy Institute, compared the nation's 200 largest counties. It stated that 97 percent of those counties sent blacks to prison more often than whites for drug-related convictions.
Mr. Cox said the Justice Institute's claims are tied to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study showing that in 2006 about 8.9 percent of blacks admitted to using drugs in the last month, and 8.5 percent of whites admitted to the same practices.
"There is a difference between being a drug user and being someone who goes to jail for drugs," Mr. Cox said. "Drug users don't typically go to jail. People who possess quantities of drugs for resale go to jail."
The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C., reported that, despite similar use patterns, black people account for more than 50 percent of sentenced drug offenders, while they are about 13 percent of the nation's population. The research institution is "dedicated to ending society's reliance on incarceration" and promotes "appropriate alternatives" to it, according to its Internet site.
The institute found that in Hamilton County about 24 out of every 100,000 people are sent to state prison each year for a drug crime. Whites are sent to prison at a rate of five per 100,000 white people, while blacks are sent at a rate of about 95 per 100,000 black people, the report found.
Walter Williams, a retired Chattanooga City Court judge now in private practice, said the institute's findings confirm "what all of us have been saying through the years."
(12) EDITORIAL: LAWMAKERS MANAGE TO OUTLAW LICKING AN OBSCURE PLANT ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 31 Dec 2007
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2007 The Sun-Times Co.
Those creatively efficient politicians down in the Illinois Legislature might be stumped on really important issues like funding the CTA or betting our future on casinos. But they are clear about saving us from ourselves -- even if we don't need it. Case in point: the salvia ban.
Lawmakers banned the sale and possession of Salvia divinorum, a virtually unknown sage plant that causes hallucinations. People who buy it in tobacco and "head" shops or online experience a 5- to 10-minute high, followed by a 20-minute comedown. Come New Year's Day, anyone who smokes, licks, chews or possesses salvia will go directly to jail -- for no less than four years. The penalty is the same as shooting heroin or snorting cocaine.
"I've seen the argument to legalize marijuana. It is a gateway drug, like salvia could be a gateway drug," said state Rep. Dennis Reboletti ( R-Elmhurst ), a former narcotics prosecutor who sponsored the bill. Reboletti admitted he wanted to move forward on banning the plant "rather than waiting for someone to be killed because of it."
Legislators must have been on something to zero in on this obscure organic substance, sometimes called "magic mint" or "Sally D" by salvia afficionados. The last time we checked, Illinois was not besieged by a salvia epidemic. We don't see the urgency in criminalizing a substance with no clear track record of causing people to act in a dangerous manner or hurt other people.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
A new year begins, but the drug war rhetoric remains as tedious
as ever. Critics in Texas are concerned that treating cannabis
possession as a misdemeanor sends the wrong message to kids.
Despite a recommendation last month from U.S. District Judge Daniel
Hovland that hemp advocates take their cause to congress, it seems
congress lacks the political will to risk appearing soft on drugs.
The Alberta Court of Appeal struck down an earlier human rights
tribunal ruling which found that an employer discriminated against a
cannabis consumer when they fired him for failing a drug test, noting
that the consumer did not seem to be "addicted," and was therefore
not "disabled" as he claimed, and that "the evidence established that
effects of cannabis use lingers for days particularly given that the
concentration of active ingredients is now many times higher than
it was in the past."
Last year marked the passing of too many medicinal cannabis activists
and patients, including Catherine Devries of Kitchener, Ontario.
A new year begins, but the drug war rhetoric remains as tedious as ever. Critics in Texas are concerned that treating cannabis possession as a misdemeanor sends the wrong message to kids.
Despite a recommendation last month from U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland that hemp advocates take their cause to congress, it seems congress lacks the political will to risk appearing soft on drugs.
The Alberta Court of Appeal struck down an earlier human rights tribunal ruling which found that an employer discriminated against a cannabis consumer when they fired him for failing a drug test, noting that the consumer did not seem to be "addicted," and was therefore not "disabled" as he claimed, and that "the evidence established that effects of cannabis use lingers for days particularly given that the concentration of active ingredients is now many times higher than it was in the past."
Last year marked the passing of too many medicinal cannabis activists and patients, including Catherine Devries of Kitchener, Ontario.
(13) MARIJUANA TICKETS NOT CATCHING ON ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 31 Dec 2007
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Tiara M. Ellis, The Dallas Morning News
Law Designed to Free Jail Space Not Used Beyond Austin As Prosecutors Question Propriety
Texas lawmakers thought they could help ease jail overcrowding when they passed legislation allowing police to write tickets for misdemeanor marijuana possession and a few other nonviolent crimes, instead of hauling suspects to the clink.
But the new law, which went into effect Sept. 1, is being used only in Travis County. Prosecutors in Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties never set up a system to process the misdemeanor citations and, they say, they have no plans to do so.
"I think the Legislature was very sensitive to the fact that there are so many jails that are overcrowded," said Terri Moore, Dallas County's first assistant district attorney. "This was a great idea, but it raises a lot more questions that we are not ready to answer."
The new law gives officers the option to arrest, as they have been doing, or write tickets for possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana. Some supporters of the law say these nonviolent offenders could be treated the same as drivers who get caught speeding and agree to go before a judge. But critics say these class A and B misdemeanors, although not violent crimes, could still result in jail time and require investigators to build a solid case for prosecution.
As a result, the burden of making sure that suspects make it to court and no one is misidentified is higher. For Greg Davis, Collin County's first assistant district attorney, one of his qualms with the new law is the perception created by ticketing for a drug offense, instead of making an arrest.
"It may... lead some people to believe that drug use is no more serious than double parking," Mr. Davis said. "We don't want to send that message to potential drug users, particularly young people."
(14) N.D. DELEGATION WON'T TAKE UP HEMP ISSUE ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 01 Jan 2008
Source: Minot Daily News (ND)
Copyright: 2008 Minot Daily News
The three members of North Dakota's congressional delegation see little hope in Congress for state farmers who want to grow industrial hemp.
Members of the state's all-Democratic delegation -- Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and Rep. Earl Pomeroy -- say they have no plans to introduce or push legislation that would make it easier for farmers around the country to grow the crop.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland last month dismissed a lawsuit filed against the U.S government by two North Dakota farmers, saying federal law considers industrial hemp to be the same as marijuana, which is an illegal drug. In his ruling, Hovland suggested asking Congress to change the definition of industrial hemp to explicitly distinguish it from marijuana.
That idea has no traction in Congress, the state's delegation says.
``When the (federal) drug enforcement agency takes this hard line position, there is not the political will in Congress to challenge them,'' Pomeroy said. ``No one wants to be involved in something that some might perceive as loosening our drug laws.''
(15) JOB DRUG-TESTING DEBATE NOT OVER ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jan 2008
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media
A court ruling against a fired marijuana user won't stop the province's human rights commission seeking changes to workplace drug- testing policies, a lawyer on the case said yesterday.
"I think automatic termination is troubling because you're denying someone employment," said Arman Chak, an Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission lawyer who represented the fired worker, John Chiasson, during a recent court case.
Chak noted the commission hasn't yet decided on whether to challenge a ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal rejecting Chiasson's claims that a Fort McMurray employer's drug-testing policies were discriminatory. While Chiasson himself admitted he was only a recreational pot smoker, a lower-court judge had earlier ruled that in firing anyone who tested positive for drugs, engineering and construction company Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) had essentially treated him as an addict and therefore disabled.
Alberta's human-rights legislation forbids discrimination on the basis of disability. The appeal judges, however, have now ruled that safety concerns justify workplace drug-testing policies, thereby overturning the earlier court decision.
Chak pointed to evidence that a urine test showing the presence of marijuana doesn't necessarily mean a person is impaired. He noted that in Chiasson's case, the worker had started his job as a receiving clerk at a Syncrude Canada construction site by the time the test results came back. By then, it had been weeks since he had smoked the pot.
(16) WOMAN LED FIGHT TO LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 29 Dec 2007
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Record
Author: Karen Kawawada, Record Staff
KITCHENER - In recent years, when people saw Catherine Devries of Kitchener, they saw a tiny and obviously ill woman who needed to use a wheelchair when she managed to get out of bed at all.
But her family and friends don't remember the trail-blazing medical- marijuana activist as frail. Anything but.
"Cathy was a very, very strong fighter," said her father Carl Devries. "She would not give up even when her life was extremely difficult for her."
Catherine died last Sunday in St. Mary's Hospital, at the age of 49. Most of her life, she had struggled with a host of health problems and pain.
The more public side of her was her activism. She was one of the first Canadians to be legally allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes.
"Catherine fought very hard for that licence," said fellow medical- marijuana activist Alison Myrden of Burlington. "She was one of the first people to speak up about it and she should be recognized for that . . .
"She knew cannabis worked for her. I watched the difference when I saw her smoke. She'd go from lying in bed and slumping over and falling asleep to sitting up and talking a mile a minute. It was incredible, the transformation."
In 2000, police seized 21 grams of marijuana she had ordered from B.C.'s Compassion Club, which provides the drug to sick people. Devries went to court to get it back, and won.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
In the UK this week, North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom
was again at the center of a media-created tempest when he announced
that "ecstasy is safer than aspirin... Ecstasy is not a safe
substance and I'm not suggesting that it is. But it's much less
dangerous than, for instance, tobacco and alcohol, both of which are
freely available." Subsequent howls from prohibitionists were swift
and predictable, calling for the Chief Constable to resign for
holding such opinions. While the legalization of all drugs was
"inevitable" Brunstrom added, decriminalization was some "10 years
In Canada, two provinces were in the news because of harm reducing
crack pipe giveaway programs. In Ontario, the province agreed to
pick up the cost for the crack pipe program in the city of Ottawa.
Ottawa's crack pipe program had been funded by the city, but
discontinued. In the Province of B.C., Interior Health is "looking
into the possibility" for a crack pipe distribution of its own.
Crack pipe programs are intended to decrease transmission of
hepatitis B, C and tuberculosis.
Communist China has a drug problem (despite the copious executions
of traffickers), but government there have just the solution, you
know, to protect the "children." The solution? Forced rehab, just
like they do in Mississippi, Texas and, Sweden. The compulsory
drug-rehab measures, now before the Law Committee of the National
People's Congress, lists opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine,
morphine and cocaine as banned drugs. (No word on LSD, psilocybin,
MDMA, and khat.)
In the UK this week, North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom was again at the center of a media-created tempest when he announced that "ecstasy is safer than aspirin... Ecstasy is not a safe substance and I'm not suggesting that it is. But it's much less dangerous than, for instance, tobacco and alcohol, both of which are freely available." Subsequent howls from prohibitionists were swift and predictable, calling for the Chief Constable to resign for holding such opinions. While the legalization of all drugs was "inevitable" Brunstrom added, decriminalization was some "10 years away."
In Canada, two provinces were in the news because of harm reducing crack pipe giveaway programs. In Ontario, the province agreed to pick up the cost for the crack pipe program in the city of Ottawa. Ottawa's crack pipe program had been funded by the city, but discontinued. In the Province of B.C., Interior Health is "looking into the possibility" for a crack pipe distribution of its own. Crack pipe programs are intended to decrease transmission of hepatitis B, C and tuberculosis.
Communist China has a drug problem (despite the copious executions of traffickers), but government there have just the solution, you know, to protect the "children." The solution? Forced rehab, just like they do in Mississippi, Texas and, Sweden. The compulsory drug-rehab measures, now before the Law Committee of the National People's Congress, lists opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, morphine and cocaine as banned drugs. (No word on LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and khat.)
(17) DRUGS 'LEGAL IN 10 YEARS' CLAIM ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 01 Jan 2008
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2008 BBC
The legalisation of all drugs is "inevitable", according to the Chief Constable of North Wales.
Richard Brunstrom, who has campaigned for drugs like heroin to be made legal, says he believes the move towards decriminalisation is "10 years away."
The chief constable said repealing the Misuse of Drugs Act would destroy a major source of organised crime.
He also said he thinks ecstasy is safer than aspirin.
(18) DRUG CALL CHIEF 'SHOULD QUIT' ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jan 2008
Source: Evening Gazette (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Gazette Media Company Limited
Author: Simon Haworth, Evening Gazette
A CONTROVERSIAL former Cleveland Police chief was facing calls to quit today after claiming ecstasy is safer than aspirin.
"Ecstasy is a remarkably safe substance - it's far safer than aspirin," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"But if you look at the Government's own research you will find that ecstasy by comparison to many other substances, legal and illegal, is a comparatively safe substance.
"Ecstasy is not a safe substance and I'm not suggesting that it is. But it's much less dangerous than, for instance, tobacco and alcohol, both of which are freely available."
(19) INTERIOR HEALTH CONSIDERS PROVIDING CRACK PIPE KITS ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 26 Dec 2007
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Penticton Western
Interior Health is looking into the possibility of distributing "crack kits" to help prevent the spread of disease.
But it could be some time yet before people on the streets get them.
The kits, supplied by the provincial government through the Harm Reduction Supply Services Committee, are really just pieces of rubber tubing which go on the end of crack pipes, that drug users routinely share.
"At Interior Health we haven't made any decision about if or how we would distribute them or use them," said IH's senior medical health officer Andrew Larder.
The province has given health authorities a year to decide whether to take and distribute the kits to drug users.
Larder said researchers have known for years that using crack puts someone at higher risk of testing positive for hepatitis B or C and is associated with the spread of tuberculosis.
A recent study found live Hep C virus on the ends of crack pipes
(20) PROVINCE TO FUND CRACK-PIPE PROGRAM IN CITY ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 23 Dec 2007
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Ottawa Citizen
Access to free, clean crack pipes in Ottawa will continue next year despite the city's opposition to the controversial program.
Jack McCarthy, director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, confirmed Friday in a conversation with a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spokesman that the province will fund the program without city involvement.
"The minister is committed to funding this program," Mr. McCarthy said, adding he is pleased with the news.
The province will provide $287,000 to run the crack pipe program in 2008. The money will go toward paying for two outreach workers, transportation and supplies. Mr. McCarthy said he hopes the funding will be made permanent.
The goal of the crack-pipe program is to reduce the sharing of used crack pipes in order to curb the spread of diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV.
(21) READY TO ADOPT ANTI-DRUG RULES TO PROTECT NATION'S CHILDREN ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 24 Dec 2007
Source: China Daily (China)
Copyright: 2007 China Daily
Chinese lawmakers are expected to adopt the country's first anti-drug law to curb drug-related crime, reduce the soaring number of users and provide more appropriate care for under-aged addicts.
The law's final draft was "ready for adoption", the Law Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) told the 31st session of the NPC Standing Committee on its opening day Sunday, when the third and possibly final deliberation of the began.
Lawmakers said the introduction of an anti-drug law was imperative to prevent and seriously punish drug-related crimes, protect public health and maintain social order.
Opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine hydrochloride - commonly known as "ice" - morphine and cocaine were listed as banned drugs in the draft.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
DRUGSENSE 2007 IN REVIEW ( Top )
2007 saw almost fifteen thousand new news clippings added to the drugnews.org archives. Over a half million different readers from about 125 countries accessed the clippings during the year. Based on a formula which recognizes that older clippings may have been accessed more than the more recent ones, selections of the 600 most read clippings by areas of the world are provided at the following link: http://www.mapinc.org/alert/0357.html
DEATH BY DRUG WAR ( Top )
By Radley Balko at Reason Hit & Run
WHAT DARWIN COULD TELL US ABOUT THE "WAR ON DRUGS" ( Top )
By Sanho Tree, MinuteMan Media, December 27, 2007.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the "law and order" response by our politicians only intensifies the problem.
HOLES FOUND IN U.S. CLAIMS OF A DRUG-WAR WIN ( Top )
by John Burnett
NORML'S TOP 10 EVENTS IN 2007 THAT SHAPED MARIJUANA POLICY ( Top )
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK WEBSITE UPGRADE ( Top )
DrugSense is proud to announce a new DTN website, at http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/, which dramatically improves access to DTN radio programs. Host Dean Becker and webmaster Matt Elrod discuss some of the features of the new site on the Cultural Baggage Radio Show at: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/1709
DEA - 2007 IN PHOTOS ( Top )
"DEA enjoyed many successes in 2007 including the arrests of many high-profile drug traffickers, record drug and money seizures, and the largest steroid enforcement action in U.S. history. Many of these operations are featured in a slide show that highlights a remarkable year of accomplishments."
AN INTERVIEW WITH GEOFFREY GUY OF GW PHARMACEUTICALS ( Top )
GW is licensed by the UK Home Office to work with a range of controlled drugs for medical research purposes. The Group's lead programme is the development of a product portfolio of cannabinoid prescription medicines , including Sativex(r) Oromucosal Spray, to meet patient needs in a wide range of therapeutic indications.
BRUNSTROM ON DRUGS (AGAIN) ( Top )
Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales has again hit the news over his views in support of drug law reform. The media don't seem to know quite what to make of him, torn between an intelligent engagement in the debates he highlights, or tearing into him with personal attacks. The most recent spasm of media coverage followed an appearance on BBC's Today programme.
BUSH AND CALDERON ON OUTS ( Top )
'Merida Initiative' may not pass Congressional muster
Grits for Breakfast
It sounds like President Bush may already be suffering from buyer's remorse regarding the proposed $1.4 billion anti-drug aid package, according to a Mexican political reporter.
FINAL REPORT OF THE SEATTLE MARIJUANA POLICY REVIEW PANEL ( Top )
The "Final Report of the Marijuana Policy Review Panel on the Implementation of Initiative 75" (Seattle's Lowest Law Enforcement Priority initiative) has been filed with the Seattle City Clerk and is available for download and review at the Panel's web page, http://www.seattle.gov/council/mpp/, and also on the City Council's homepage, http://www.seattle.gov/council/
MARIJUANA ACTIVIST MAE NUTT DIES ( Top )
Medical marijuana activist and grandmother Mae Nutt, died January 1, 2008 in Roseville, CA. Mrs. Nutt was a medical marijuana activist for over 25 years, motivated by the cancer battle she witnessed in her son Keith, who alleviated his chemotherapy symptoms by secretly smoking marijuana.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
SUPPORT THE BC3 ( Top )
Extradition Hearing To Begin January 21
by Jodie Emery (21 Jan, 2008)
Three Canadians face extradition to, and life imprisonment in, the United States - but they've never been there!
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
LET'S ABSORB LESSONS FROM THE U.S. ( Top )
By Paul Whitehouse
I Read John Pye's letter ( Never forget the influence of this devastating rug ) with some sadness. Like all police officers ( and I was one for 34 years ) he knows that in order to prove a case you need to assemble the evidence. Like many, he doesn't carry that thinking with him when it comes to arguing for a particular policy or course of action. If John Pye's position is the correct one, then alcohol should be banned tomorrow. I was one of the first members of the Durham Constabulary Drugs Squad when it was formed in 1969 to deal with the results of The Misuse Of Drugs Act of that year. The UK hadn't had a problem until then, but we had learnt from the experience of the USA, which demonstrated such startling success with its prohibition of alcohol some 50 years earlier, and we wanted to follow them.
Well, we've succeeded. The rate of consumption of all drugs has grown beyond our wildest hopes, the profits to be made are higher than anyone could have expected, and the proliferation of guns on our streets is moving towards the levels of Chicago in the 1930s.
Are we able to learn from this? I remain confident that we will. The USA did eventually repeal its laws on the prohibition of alcohol. Let us destroy the market which we've created and stop encouraging young men to make so much money out of the misery of others.
Member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Former Chief Constable of Sussex
Pubdate: Fri, 28 Dec 2007
Source: Sentinel, The (UK)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
THE 2007 LETTER TO THE EDITOR AWARDS ( Top )
By Richard Lake
For the fourth year in a row, it is our pleasure to recognize Robert Sharpe as Published Letter to the Editor Writer of the Year for 2007 for the number of letters that he had published during the year.
Robert Sharpe had 273 letters published last year, raising his career total to an amazing 1,913 published, without a doubt the record for any drug policy reform letter writer.
In 1999, Robert started writing letters as a student at George Washington University and a member of their Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( http://www.ssdp.org/ ). Then he often used his SSDP chapter membership in his signature block to improve his chances of being published. We first recognized Robert's letter writing accomplishments in May, 2000 as you may see in this photo http://www.mapinc.org/images/Robert.jpg
Today Robert writes as a volunteer for CSDP ( http://www.csdp.org ). He signs his letters "Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C." Robert tells us that he is spending about an hour a day after work sending out letters, and yes, many more are not published than are. Robert has provided us with his tips for letter writing success at http://www.mapinc.org/resource/tips.htm.
You may read all of Robert's published letters at http://www.mapinc.org/writer/Robert+Sharpe.
The year's end brought another award: MAP's Published Letters Platinum Award for achieving one thousand published letters to Kirk Muse. You may view the award at http://www.mapinc.org/lte_awards/lte_platinum.htm. You may read all of Kirk's published letters at http://www.mapinc.org/writer/Kirk+Muse
Kirk writes, "'Powerful Paragraphs' helped me go from 1 in 50 letters published to 1 in 5 published!" http://www.clearwriter.com/cleartips/powerfulparagraphs/
Kirk also supports the Media Awareness Project by newshawking news clippings, of which 894 were archived last year. By newshawking, Kirk sees targets and frequently sends his letters to the editor to the newspapers before others are even aware of the news clipping. Kirk is pictured, with MAP editor Beth Wehrman, at the 2005 Drug Policy Alliance conference here http://www.mapinc.org/images/kirkdpa.jpg
Each month during the year, MAP recognizes a letter writer for the number of letters published during the previous month. Those recognized during the past year, with links to the DrugSense Weekly announcements, are shown on this webpage http://www.mapinc.org/lte_awards/monthly.php
And every week a committee of letter writing experts selects one published letter to recognize as the Letter Of The Week, by this process http://www.mapinc.org/lte_awards/weekly.php#how
The list of those letters is at http://www.mapinc.org/lte_awards/weekly.php
We know of no major drug policy reform organization, none, which somewhere on its website does not encourage the writing of letters to the editor. It is perhaps the way that Internet connected activists living anywhere may communicate their views to the huge audience of newspaper editorial page readers at very little cost other than their time. The difference between MAP's news clipping service and others is the fact that we provide the contact information with each clipping for writing letters. We hope you will take advantage of it to write your own letters in the year ahead. If you need suggestions for success please go to this webpage http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides
We thank all of you who do write letters. A graphical display of the accomplishments, with links to their letters by simply clicking on their names, for the top 100 letter writers is at http://www.mapinc.org/lte/topwrit.htm
A special thank you from MAP to Derek Rea. It is Derek who volunteers his time every week by reading each and every published letter and then recommends to the selection committee letters to consider for Letter Of The Week. He also keeps us straight on the Letter Writer of The Month recognitions. Derek is in a rare photo with other MAPsters, seated, on the right, at http://www.mapinc.org/images/hawk3.jpg
Richard Lake is the Senior Editor for the Media Awareness Project's news clipping service.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." -- Socrates
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NOTICE: ( Top )
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MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION TO DRUGSENSE ON-LINE ( Top )
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