This Just In
(1)Initiative Would Make Marijuana Legal For Ill
(2)VT. Senate To Consider Bills Easing Pot Laws
(3)25 Plants Per Parcel Stands
(4)Decision Opens Field For Medical Marijuana Growers

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2008
Source: East Valley Tribune (AZ)
Copyright: 2008 East Valley Tribune.
Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Arizona voters may get a chance this year to do what they thought they were doing in 1996: allow people who are ill to possess and use marijuana legally.

An initiative being crafted would spell out that individuals who are certified by their doctors as needing the drug would be able to possess small amounts -- the details are still being worked out -- without running afoul of state law. They also would be able to grow their own drugs.

Backers, organized as the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, have until July 3 to get the 153,365 signatures necessary to put the measure on the November ballot.

Financing for the initiative is coming from the national Marijuana Policy Project which bills itself as the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the country. It already has kicked in $10,000.


Alternate language for this measure, still being worked out, would allow doctors to "recommend" marijuana.

That distinction is crucial: The U.S. Supreme Court, in a historic 2003 ruling, blocked the DEA from going after California doctors who, using that state's law, recommend a patient use marijuana.




Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2008
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2008 Times Argus
Author: Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau

MONTPELIER - Senate lawmakers will consider a bill making it a civil, not criminal, offense to possess small amounts of marijuana. At the same time, they will also look at a second bill increasing the penalties for possessing heroin and cocaine by reducing the amount possessed that constitutes "trafficking."

The moves come following months of public debate on the efficacy and social and fiscal costs of Vermont's drug policies and whether it makes sense to decriminalize marijuana.

Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, has scheduled a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the evening of Jan. 23 to hear from members of the public who have concerns about Vermont's drug policies.

After the hearing, that committee is expected to begin taking testimony on the two-pronged approach, which would boost penalties for possessing the harder drugs and use civil violations and the court diversion program for marijuana possession.

"I thought it was important to let the public weigh in before we started taking a close look at the proposals," said Sears, the chair of the Judiciary Committee. "This is a change in state law regarding drugs, and the public probably has some thoughts about this."

The marijuana decriminalization bill, proposed last year by Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, would make it a civil violation, with a fine of up to $1,000, to possess up to four ounces of marijuana or two small marijuana plants. Selling small amounts of marijuana would result in a $250 fine, according to the bill.

Possessing or selling larger amounts of the plant more than four ounces or more than five plants would still be a criminal act, under the bill, and could result in fines of up to $100,000 and five years in prison.

The second bill, proposed last year by Sears, lowers the trafficking criminal charges threshold for cocaine from 300 grams to 150 and from seven grams for heroin to 3.5 grams. Penalties for being caught with these drugs would be jail time of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Sears said he believes the trafficking thresholds for the hard drugs are too low in Vermont, but he added that he and other committee members do have concerns with the levels of decriminalized marijuana in White's bill, opening the door to the possibility that the four ounces could lowered.

"Four ounces of marijuana is a felony," he said. "I don't think we want to go there."

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, has placed drug law reform as one of his priorities for this new legislative session -- a topic that Gov. James Douglas, a Republican, has said he is open to having discussed, although he has not endorsed the effort.


The public hearing on the two drug bills is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Room 11 at the Statehouse on Jan. 23.



Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Rob Burgess, The Daily Journal
Cited: Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

Neither the votes nor the opinions behind them wavered as the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors once again voted 3-2 Tuesday to affirm the restriction on the number of medical marijuana plants allowed on any one parcel of land to 25, regardless of the number of qualified patients residing there.


When the board opened the floor for public comment on the matter, Pebbles Trippet, Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board adviser, said the measure would be exclusionary to a large population of patients.

"It would discriminate against the joint tenant owners of land," she said. "It would also discriminate against the majority of marijuana patients who rent. This is not a good situation to put patients in...I feel this is not speaking for the majority."

Tom Davenport said the board was opening up the county to legal action if it passed the ordinance.

"The cultivation ordinance will not pass legal muster," he said. "You don't need to take my word for it, but take a good long look at fiscal responsibility. It's going to cost the county a lot of money on a legal battle that they are going to lose."

Asked by 4th District Supervisor Kendall Smith about the legality of the measure, County Counsel Jeanine Nadel said she had not encountered any discrepancies.

A ballot initiative that, if passed by voters in the June 3 primary, would repeal Measure G and institute the state medical marijuana limits was also passed at Tuesday's meeting by a 4-1 vote.

On Nov. 8, 2000, Mendocino County voters approved Measure G, a resolution calling for the decriminalization of personal use and cultivation of up to 25 adult female marijuana plants or the equivalent in dried marijuana, by a vote of 58 percent.




Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2008
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2008 The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Canadians who are prescribed marijuana to treat their illnesses will no longer be forced to rely on the federal government as a supplier following a Federal Court ruling that struck down a key restriction in Ottawa's controversial medical marijuana program.

The decision by Judge Barry Strayer, released late Thursday, essentially grants medical marijuana users more freedom in picking their own grower and allows growers to supply the drug to more than one patient.

It's also another blow to the federal government, whose attempts to tightly control access to medical marijuana have prompted numerous court challenges.

Currently, medical users can grow their own pot but growers can't supply the drug to more than one user at a time.

Lawyers for medical users argued that restriction effectively established Health Canada as the country's sole legal provider of medical marijuana.

They also said the restriction was unfair, and that it prevented seriously ill Canadians from obtaining the drug they needed to treat their debilitating illnesses.

In his decision, Strayer called the provision unconstitutional and arbitrary, as it "caused individuals a major difficulty with access..."

Ottawa must also reconsider requests made by a group of medical users who brought the matter to court to have a single outside supplier as their designated producer, Strayer said in his 23-page decision.

While the government has argued that medical users who can't grow their own marijuana can obtain it from its contract manufacturer, fewer than 20 per cent of patients actually use the government's supply, Strayer wrote.

"In my view it is not tenable for the government, consistently with the right established in other courts for qualified medical users to have reasonable access to marijuana, to force them either to buy from the government contractor, grow their own or be limited to the unnecessarily restrictive system of designated producers," he wrote.


"(It was) constitutionally suspect from the beginning," said lawyer Alan Young, who argued in court on behalf of the sick.

"My position always was that if you're going to do something like that, you'd better have an adequate alternative."

Ottawa could either rewrite the regulations, come up with a new ratio, "or they can simply leave it as an open market so that people who are experienced and have the right secure facility will be able to apply to grow for 10 patients, 20 patients," Young said.

The government may also draft quality-control regulations for outside suppliers to ensure patients get the best product possible, said Marzel.

But he believes the Crown will appeal the decision.




Alternet ran a thought-provoking and thorough piece on the fine line between licit and illicit psychotropic substances. An OPED by a CEO of a company which attempts to educate school-aged children about the dangers of popping pills they find in their home medicine cabinets.

Many pills sold as Ecstasy have always, and probably will always, contain some amphetamine. Recently drug warriors are attempting to turn this fact into a new 'epidemic' and blaming it on our neighbors to the North. They, of course, are not mentioning that this increases the importance of groups like DanceSafe who continue to fight for harm reduction. Ironically, we covered stories last week of North Wales Chief Constable who claims the substance to be safer than aspirin.

Ending on a positive note with an column which could and should run in every paper across our freedom-loving nation.


Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jan 2008
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 Independent Media Institute
Author: Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet

Many Prescription Drugs Have Effects Similar To Those Of Illegal Drugs. But We Still View Some Users As Criminals -- The Others As Patients

While Americans are inundated with coverage of the Democrats' quibbling over Barack Obama's use of marijuana and cocaine as a teenager, a truly important drug story continues to be neglected: The hypocrisy of Big Pharma, psychiatry officialdom, and justice institutions regarding mood-altering ( psychotropic ) drugs -- specifically the denial of the similarity between illegal and psychiatric drugs.

Author and science writer Michael Pollan observed the following about Americans' illegal-psychiatric drug hypocrisy: "Historians of the future will wonder how a people possessed of such a deep faith in the power of drugs also found themselves fighting a war against certain other drugs with not-dissimilar powers. ... We hate drugs. We love drugs. Or could it be that we hate the fact that we love drugs?"

When we recognize that psychotropic prescription drugs are chemically similar to illegal psychotropic drugs, and that all of these substances are used for similar purposes, we see two injustices. First, we see the classification of millions of Americans as criminals for using certain drugs, while millions of others, using essentially similar drugs for similar purposes, are seen as patients. Second, we see a denial of those societal realities that compel increasing numbers of Americans to use psychotropic drugs.


The illegal-psychiatric drug hypocrisy in the U.S. is an ugly triumph. It is a triumph of marketing over science. It is a triumph for pharmaceutical corporations and America's ever-growing prison-industrial complex. It is a triumph for those comfortably atop society who would rather Americans view their malaise as exclusively a medical rather than a social problem. And ultimately, it is a triumph of injustice and greed over human rights and a sane society.



Pubdate: Mon, 07 Jan 2008
Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Copyright: 2008 The Billings Gazette
Author: Sharon Sloane

Note: Sharon Sloane is president and CEO of Potomac, Md.-based WILL Interactive, Inc., which has produced a program used in more than 10,000 U.S. schools to educate students about the abuse of prescription drugs. She has 25 years of experience in producing cutting-edge instructional systems for behavior modification and performance improvement technology and holds a master's degree in counseling from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor's degree in education from Boston University.

While drug education programs have contributed to the decline of illegal drug use among American youth, the abuse of prescription drugs by teens continues to rise. In fact, according to a federally financed study released last month by the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) at the White House, illicit drug use by teens has continued to gradually decline overall in 2007, but the use of prescription painkillers remains popular among young people. So while we have been fighting a battle to educate our youth about drug abuse on one front, another front has quietly opened and expanded.


The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported in February 2007 that three out of 10 teens believe pain relievers are not addictive, and 1/3 of teens believe that there is "nothing wrong" with occasional abuse of prescription medication. Further, the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 47.3 percent of teens obtained pain relievers from friends for free; 10.2 percent took them from a friend or relative without permission; and 10 percent bought them from a friend or relative. These findings suggest that there is a perception that misusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs.


What is required is a focus on the underlying root of the problem. We must concentrate on decision-making, judgment, critical thinking and how, why, and under what conditions teens make behavioral choices. The key to success lies in teaching youth how to think rather than what to think. This learning must occur with great attention paid to the context of teens' real life experiences, the stresses and resources at their disposal and the unique physical and emotional characteristics of this demographic.



Pubdate: Wed, 9 Jan 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Jane Gross

Methamphetamine-laced Ecstasy is flowing across the Canadian border into the United States, according to a warning last week from the federal government to public health and local law enforcement officials.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that seizures of Ecstasy at the northern border increased tenfold from 2003 to 2006, with more than half of the contraband tablets containing methamphetamine, a vastly more addicting drug. This matches findings by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The development comes after an uptick in Ecstasy use after years of waning popularity for the club drug and just as the supply of methamphetamine is being strangled at the Mexican border. Some law enforcement and treatment experts hypothesize that the turbocharged combination is an effort by traffickers to reverse trends unfavorable to their business by marketing a new product at a new point of entry.


Treatment professionals say addiction to Ecstasy, a synthetic stimulant, is rare. But it can induce euphoria, hallucinations, memory loss, elevated body temperature and increased heart rate. Methamphetamine, also a synthetic stimulant that can reduce sexual inhibitions, is highly addictive, these experts say, with a half life of 8 to 12 hours, versus an hour or two for Ecstasy alone. In combination, these experts say, the dangers of each drug could be magnified.




Pubdate: Fri, 04 Jan 2008
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Cynthia Tucker

You don't hear much about the nation's "war on drugs" these days. It's a has-been, a glamourless geezer.

Its glitz has been stolen by the "war on terror," which gets the 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?


The nation's so-called war on drugs recalls that old Vietnam War phrase about "burning the village" in order to save it. It also brings to mind Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Our war on drugs really is a war on people.

That's true insanity.



Last Friday night two more citizens became victims of the continuing unnecessary use of a SWAT team for a minor drug bust. Coverage of this tragedy is still confined to local media even though word has been quickly spreading via the 'net and those closest to this tragedy beg for answers. Contrast that story with one about an officer who decided not only to walk away from an obvious overdosing victim but made time to text a callous message about him.

I'm not sure if it'll make things better or worse but there were a couple reports of drug enforcement budget crunches this week. It has, though, certainly has gotten the hackles up of those who depend on those dollars.

A New York Nassau County DA was thinking "outside the box" with her recent handling of 17 alleged crack dealers. She hopes combining community members' peer pressure with a chance to avoid prosecution will keep the participants from returning to the wrong side of the law.


Pubdate: Sat, 5 Jan 2008
Source: Lima News (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Freedom Newspapers Inc.
Author: Greg Sowinski

LIMA -- Tarika Wilson was to begin college Monday to study business in hopes of making a better life for herself and her six children.

"She was supposed to start Monday with me," her sister, Tania Wilson, said.

Tarika Wilson will never have that chance.

A Lima Police Department SWAT team officer shot her to death Friday inside her home at 218 E. Third St. during an evening drug raid. The circumstances remained under investigation Saturday with police officials releasing few details about what happened inside the home.

Lima police officials turned the investigation over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for an independent investigation because it involves officers in the department, Chief Greg Garlock said.


The man police was after, Anthony Terry, the boyfriend of Tarika Wilson, was downstairs in the home. Tarika Wilson and her six children were upstairs, Tania Wilson said.

Tarika Wilson was with her children helping them clean their bedrooms when the home was raided. Tarika Wilson's daughter said her mom was holding the baby when she was shot, Tania Wilson said.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Todd Ruger

Lawsuit Claims Officer Should Have Called EMTs

SARASOTA COUNTY -- Deputy Gabriel Eckert stopped in a shopping center parking lot and noticed a 21-year-old man apparently passed out in the passenger seat of a Jeep, with mucus coming from his nose.

Eckert tapped on the window with his flashlight and got no response. He spent about 15 seconds there, then sent a digital communication to other deputies: "U SHOULD C THIS 1 ... HE IS CLOSER TO DEAD ... NICE, JUST WHO U WANT DRIVING AROUND AT NITE."

Stephen M. Bongiorno was found dead of a heroin overdose in the Jeep the next morning, and his mother has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Eckert and Sarasota County for not doing more to help her son.


During an internal investigation, Eckert said he should have pulled on the door handle when he stopped at about 1 a.m. in the lot at 2881 Clark Road, Sheriff's Office records state. He also said he should have been more assertive in determining Bongiorno's condition and called an ambulance if needed.

A shopping center employee saw Bongiorno's body in the Jeep at about 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2006.

A cell phone was open on his lap, the vehicle doors were unlocked and the key was in the ignition, a Sheriff's Office record states.




Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jan 2008
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Derrick Nunnally

Prosecutors Predict Fewer Staff, Programs

Statewide programs for anti-drug task forces and crime victim/witness services are in line for drastic cuts, and the Milwaukee County district attorney's office might have to eliminate jobs if federal law enforcement funding cuts approved by President Bush hold up, Wisconsin prosecutors say.

"It is a dramatic issue for 2009," District Attorney John T. Chisholm said Friday.

"It's not a matter of calling it the sky falling. . . . The money's just not going to be there for any number of programs, including community prosecution ( and ) drug prosecution."

Chisholm and a spokesman for state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen both said significant rollbacks for state law-enforcement efforts are likely if a two-thirds cut in a key federal grant program isn't reversed.

In the federal appropriations bill signed in December, the nationwide Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program's fiscal-year 2008 funding was cut from $520 million to $170 million - and in Wisconsin, the two-thirds cut would affect federally funded programs statewide and a group of prosecuting jobs in the Milwaukee district attorney's office that the grants fund directly.




Pubdate: Wed, 9 Jan 2008
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2008 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Jerry Seper

A coalition that represents dozens of state narcotic officers associations wants Congress to explain what the group calls "massive cuts to critical criminal justice programs" in the fiscal 2008 appropriations bill.

"More than 26,000 Americans die each year as a direct result of drug abuse. Drug abuse and addiction destroys communities, robs children of their hopes and dreams and weakens our economy. Drug sales fuel gangs and are responsible for much of our nation's violent crime," said Ronald E. Brooks, president of National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition ( NNOAC ), which represents 44 state associations with nearly 70,000 drug-enforcement officers.

"Drug trafficking is domestic terrorism and is a chemical attack on American communities," he said, adding it was "extremely disappointing" and "irresponsible for our nation's leaders" when Congress cut the programs instead of supporting effective anti-drug initiatives.

The fiscal 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill cuts $350 million, or 67 percent, from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant ( JAG ) Program, which authorized the awarding of grants to states and local governments to improve the criminal justice system -- with emphasis on violent crime and serious offenders -- and enforce state and local laws that establish offenses similar to federal drug statutes.

Grants also are used to provide personnel, equipment, training, technical assistance and information systems for more widespread apprehension, prosecution, adjudication, detention and rehabilitation of offenders who violate such laws. Grants also have been used to provide assistance to victims of crime.




Pubdate: Wed, 9 Jan 2008
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2008 Newsday Inc.
Author: Michael Frazier

The 17 suspected drug dealers caught peddling narcotics on tape in sting operations on Terrace Avenue and Bedell Street in Hempstead had two choices offered to them by Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice: Go straight -- and go free -- or go straight to jail.

There are stipulations. It's a one-time offer for the suspects, who have previous arrests and face prison terms ranging from a year in jail to life in prison. And they had to show up Tuesday night to accept the terms of the deal at a town-hall meeting at the African-American Museum in Hempstead, Rice said.


"We are trying to eradicate the open-air drug market ... and give that neighborhood back to the community because all the people in that community are held hostage," Rice said.

If any of the 13 at Tuesday night's meeting get into trouble again, Rice said they'll face charges both from the current investigation as well as any new crimes.


At the meeting, the 13 candidates sat before chairs bearing pictures of 22 other suspects who were arrested on felony drug charges. The suspects in the pictures were not offered the same deal.

The 13 who were offered the deal were surrounded by more than 250 Hempstead residents, including Mayor Wayne Hall and Police Chief Joseph Wing.


During 2007, Rice's office and police identified 39 people as "major drug players" after conducting undercover drug buys, videotaped exchanges and taped conversations, Rice said.

From that group, all but 17 were arrested because of their violent arrest history. The 17, who all have prior drug arrests, were chosen because they appeared to be selling drugs to support an addiction or for a main source of employment.

The letter they got told them, "After we conducted an extensive drug investigation on Terrace Avenue and Bedell Street you have been positively identified as selling drugs on the street."

"All you have to do is agree to turn your life around," Rice said. "For those of you who have a need, we are going to make all the social services available to you. You all are going to be fast-tracked through the system."




Marc Emery, Canada's "Prince of Pot," is generating more ink on Canadian opinion pages as the final extradition hearing for Marc and his co-accused, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, draws near.

It is refreshing to see more than one U.S. presidential candidate making the case for drug policy reform, even if they are merely stating the obvious, that cannabis is safer than alcohol.

In Britain, the Home Office seems determined to re-reclassify cannabis no matter what the experts say, and is urging the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, who have thusfar rejected re-reclassification on solid scientific grounds, to reconsider the wrong message reclassification sent to kids.

A new report from Seattle, where cannabis possession is the lowest law enforcement priority, has confirmed the findings of similar studies; relaxing cannabis laws does not increase usage rates, although giving the police more descretion exacerbates existing enforcement disparities.


Pubdate: Wed, 9 Jan 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: Les Leyne, Times Colonist

It would be a fascinating and revealing political debate that would tell us a lot about B.C. Too bad it will likely never happen.

B.C. Liberals and New Democrats are much too careful to say publicly what they really think about Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot. He might soon be a hot political issue, but provincial politicians want little to do with him. To ask an MLA about Emery is to discover how many incredibly important other things they have to do right now -- goodbye.

Emery is scheduled for an extradition hearing Jan. 21. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency wants to take him across the border and try him on charges relating to the marijuana seed business he ran flagrantly and successfully in Vancouver for years.

A conviction for selling seeds to U.S. customers would likely land him in prison for a number of years. That's an outcome he publicly dreads, but has been courting for ages.

Emery is a martyr, and his case is a good example of how uncomfortable it is to be around martyrs. He's a relentless self-promoter and professional agitator who's given Canadian and U.S. authorities fits for years.

His arrest almost three years ago at the request of the DEA is payback for all the embarrassment he's created. After years of advocating legalized pot, smoking joints in front of TV cameras and making a pile of money selling seeds around the world, he was busted and his business was raided by Canadian police acting on the request/order of the DEA.

Delivering him to the front lines of the "war on drugs" would be an embarrassment to Canadians and a terrible example of caving in to the biggest public policy failure since Prohibition. But there's a good chance that's exactly what's going to happen.




Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Rick Pearson, Tribune political reporter

Not much has been heard recently from former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel as the candidate continues his long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he did gain attention with recent remarks on alcohol and drugs during a high school visit.

Gravel, 77, appeared Sunday night at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter as part of a series in which candidates and candidate representatives were asked to speak to students about their campaigns. At one point Gravel, who has called the war on drugs a failure, offered the students some advice.

"I'm sure a lot of you have tripped out on alcohol," Gravel said. "It's a lot safer to do it on marijuana."

Gravel, whose comments were recorded by WMUR-TV in Manchester, also told the students, "With respect to other drugs, if you've got a problem with coke, go to a doctor, get a prescription and get it filled at a drug store."


He has maintained that drug use is a public health problem, not a criminal one, and has proposed replacing what he calls "prohibition" with a regulation of hard drugs.


"Go get yourself a fifth of Scotch or a fifth of gin and chug-a-lug it down and you'll find you lose your senses a lot faster than you would smoking some marijuana," Gravel said.

Julie Quinn, director of communications for Phillips Exeter, would say only that "the candidates have a right to their own opinions."



Pubdate: Wed, 9 Jan 2008
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd
Authors: Francis Elliott and Richard Ford

Cannabis is to be reclassified as a Class B drug after an official review this spring, The Times has learnt.

Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith are determined to reverse the decision to downgrade the drug when the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs completes its report in the next few months.

While its recommendations are not yet known, ministers are already making plain that the Home Secretary is prepared to overrule the expert body if necessary.

Reclassifying cannabis as a Class B drug will mean that anyone found in possession of the substance could face a five-year jail term and an unlimited fine rather than a police warning and confiscation of the drug. The penalty for supplying would remain the same, at a maximum 14 years in jail and unlimited fines.

The advisory council, which rejected a previous attempt to reclassify cannabis in 2006, has been told to take into account public attitudes to cannabis as well as the medical evidence of its harm in reaching its conclusion.

Ms Smith wants the council to acknowledge the signal that the reclassification of cannabis from Class B to Class C in 2004 sent to the public, including the perception that the drug was harmless and even legal.




Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Angela Galloway, P-I Reporter

All Marijuana Cases Down After Initiative

White Seattleites have enjoyed a disproportionately larger share of the reduction in misdemeanor marijuana charges -- compared with black people -- since Seattle voters designated such crimes the city's lowest law enforcement priority, according to a new city study.

Overall, police and prosecutors less often pursue possession charges against both blacks and whites. But the proportion of those charged who are African-American has grown.

In fact, although whites vastly outnumber black men and women in Seattle, authorities arrested and charged more African-Americans in 2006 on marijuana allegations, according to a report presented by the Marijuana Policy Review Panel. The panel recommended officials dig deeper into that data to determine what is causing the disparity.

'The report highlights the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement, which is indicative of the disparity of all drug enforcement," said Dominic Holden, who was chairman of the Initiative 75 campaign and a member of the review panel.

But City Attorney Tom Carr insisted that the numbers were too small to indicate a trend. "Drawing conclusions from data in the hundreds (of cases) is something that you can't do," Carr told the City Council on Monday.

In late 2003, Seattle voters approved an initiative directing city law enforcement to treat personal marijuana use by adults as its lowest priority. Since then, the overall number of cases investigated by police and pursued by city prosecutors has dropped, the report found. However, the study acknowledged it was unable to definitively link the decrease to I-75.

Still, Holden said in an interview that the report generally shows, "I-75 worked exactly as voters had hoped and as the campaign had promised."




Why, Canadian Senator and former policeman Larry Campbell is asking, would the rightist regime of Prime Minister Stephen Harper deliberately choose drug policies that end up maximizing the miseries of drugs and creating more hard drug users? "More prisons and more people in prisons has not worked for our southern neighbors, and there is no logic behind the move to increase criminal penalties for drugs," says Campbell in a Vancouver Sun piece this week. Whatever the reason, gung-ho US-style drug prohibition policies certainly wouldn't be a jobs program for police, prison guards, and myriad other drug war camp followers and growth industries like privatized prisons, drug testing companies, and the drug rehab industry. Nothing like that.

The Canadian Supreme Court will review The Province of Ontario's property seizure laws, laws which allow government to simply take money and property, without charges that any laws have been broken. The court decided to hear an appeal stemming from a 2003 case where the Ontario government confiscated $29,000 from a man, because police allege he owned "equipment often used in marijuana grow operations". Defense lawyers argue the law violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom's presumption-of-innocence guarantee.

When things aren't going well, and the news isn't good news - perhaps it is best to keep it short. This seems to be the Sun-Sentinel's policy this week when it took all of three short paragraphs to announce that (despite a zealous shoot-em-up drug warrior installed as the President of Mexico) most illegal meth in the U.S. comes from Mexico. All that talk about meth lab strike forces, get tough, and shoot first? It simply pushed production south-of-the-border.

The scandal of it! Not one of Bangladesh's drug rehabilitation clinics - all 115 of them - complied with the law, which requires a "trained doctor and nurse" on staff. "With absolutely no monitoring... the centres are virtually run by people who are tantamount to quacks", noted The Daily Star newspaper in Bangladesh. Come to think of it, the same situation exists in the modern, western nations like the United States, where drug rehabilitation "councilors" are frequently last year's drug rehab graduates. "The capital witnessed a mushrooming of drug addict treatment and rehab centres over the years as the business has proven to be a money churner."


Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Larry Campbell, Special to the Sun

Note: Senator Larry W. Campbell is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international, non-profit educational organization made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing U.S. drug policies have failed.

The Harper Government's U.S.-Style Tough Line on Drugs Benefits No One but Criminals and Their Syndicates

Is there really anyone anywhere in Canada who believes that U.S. drug policies are working? Or that they are deserving of being copied here?

This is the direction Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have us go.

More prisons and more people in prisons has not worked for our southern neighbours, and there is no logic behind the move to increase criminal penalties for drugs.

In fact, logic dictates that we move away from criminalization and focus instead on a policy that emphasizes medical intervention for those Canadians who abuse drugs.

What about our teens? In the pique of a rebellious phase they grow a few plants, get arrested and end up getting their higher education in prison rather then university. And the burden of a criminal record makes them pariahs in the job market.


Prohibition is a failure that bears no resemblance to any logical solution to our drug problems.

We must end prohibition, not expand it.



Pubdate: Mon, 7 Jan 2008
Source: Law Times (Canada)
Copyright: CLB Media 2008
Author: Robert Todd

The Supreme Court of Canada will scrutinize Ontario's Civil Remedies Act after granting a Toronto-area man leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that backed the seizure of his property.

Police found Robin Chatterjee in 2003 in a vehicle, carrying $29,020 in cash and equipment often used in marijuana grow operations, but he was not charged.

The Attorney General's Office later seized the cash and equipment under the CRA, which Chatterjee argues treads into federal jurisdiction. He also claims the law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom's presumption-of-innocence guarantee.

A Superior Court judge turned down Chatterjee's constitutional challenge, a ruling the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed in May 2007.

James Diamond, one of Chatterjee's lawyers, says his client is pleased by the Supreme Court's Dec. 20, 2007 decision to hear the challenge.




Pubdate: Sun, 06 Jan 2008
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2008 Sun-Sentinel Company

Mexico City Quito Caracas - Mexican drug traffickers are the main suppliers of methamphetamine to the United States and produce enormous quantities of the drug despite government crackdowns, according to a recent U.S. Justice Department report.

Mexico's efforts to restrict imports of precursor chemicals needed to make the drug, and a number of high-profile drug busts, have not led to lower meth production, the report said.

"Despite heightened chemical import restrictions in Mexico, methamphetamine production in that country has increased since 2004, and Mexico is now the primary source of methamphetamine to U.S. drug markets," the National Drug Intelligence Center's 2008 report on methamphetamine said.



Pubdate: Mon, 07 Jan 2008
Source: The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
Copyright: 2005 The Daily Star
Author: Shariful Islam and Shaheen Mollah

Most Of The 115 Clinics In City Lacks Trained Doctors

Although the law makes it mandatory for all drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation centres to obtain licenses from the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), none of the 115 such centres in the capital has any.

Almost all of those centres also do not have any trained doctor and nurse despite a gazette notification by the home ministry on July 2, 2005 making it mandatory for those centres to have full-time doctors, psychiatrists, and trained nurses.

With absolutely no monitoring by DNC, which is responsible for the job, the centres are virtually run by people who are tantamount to quacks, resulting in a majority of the patients relapsing into the addiction even after getting treatment or after being 'rehabilitated'. An investigation by The Daily Star revealed that even former heroin addicts are running a number of those centres.

The capital witnessed a mushrooming of drug addict treatment and rehab centres over the years as the business has proven to be a money churner. A recent DNC survey reveals that there are 115 drug addiction treatment and rehab centres in the capital, all of which are operating without any license.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet

Many prescription drugs have effects similar to those of illegal drugs. But we still view some users as criminals -- the others as patients.


By Jacob Sullum, January 10, 2008


James Q. Wilson, Professor of Management and Public Policy debates Ethan A. Nadelmann, Founder and Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, University of San Francisco, 3/27/2007


Pot Law Reform Group Calls For Science-Based Educational Campaign Targeting Drugged Driving Behavior

Washington, DC: Motorists should be discouraged from driving if they have recently smoked cannabis, and they should never operate a motor vehicle after having recently consumed both marijuana and alcohol, according to a comprehensive new report published today by the NORML Foundation.


If you missed last month's International Drug Policy Reform Conference in New Orleans, think about the issues you most would have liked to take on. If you were there, think about what inspired you, opened your eyes, or made you look at things in a new way.

You can experience those moments all over again or immerse yourself for the first time, thanks to downloadable audio recordings now available on the DPA website.


Century of Lies

Marc Emery, Canada's "Prince of Pot" discusses his forthcoming extradition hearing to send him to the US for a potential life sentence for exporting marijuana seeds + Paul Wright, publisher of Prison Legal News.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Alison Chinn Holcomb of ACLU of Washington Foundation discusses marijuana laws + Report on cadmium poisoning of federal prisoners with Karen Garrison whose son Lawrence was exposed plus Paul Wright, publisher of Prison Legal News.


from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #518, 1/11/08

Despite the steadily rising toll, the use of the death penalty as a tool in the war on drugs rarely receives much attention, let alone sustained analysis. But that could be beginning to change as harm reduction and human rights organizations gear up to put the state- sanctioned killing of drug offenders in the international spotlight.




Inspired by the recent success of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in awakening the world to the dangers of global warming by receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy work, NORML is coordinating the nomination of the Netherlands for a Nobel Peace Prize for its achievements in minimizing drug use in its citizens, while at the same time restricting imprisonment. More details available at


Discussing the various roles of women in the drug war is the only way to really elevate this issue to the level that it deserves. If you would be interested in adding to this discussion or connecting with other women in the movement, please email to be added to the listserve, all genders welcome!


The Marijuana Policy Project, a fast-paced, well-respected lobbying organization, is seeking a Graphic Designer. The Graphic Designer is MPP's sole design employee and thus is responsible for all aspects of design work - from the design work itself to obtaining price quotes from printers and mail shops and shepherding projects through all stages of production.

For more information see:



By Suzanne Wills

Re: "Marijuana tickets not catching on - Law designed to free jail space not used by N. Texas counties as prosecutors question propriety," Monday news story.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has brought honor to his office with his smart-on-crime approach to the job. He should extend it to setting up a system for processing misdemeanor citations.

Consider two scenarios:

A student is caught with a small amount of marijuana. She is arrested and taken to jail where she is subjected to the humiliation and degradation that is unavoidable in the situation.

She cannot post bail, so she spends several days awaiting trial. She misses school so she is dropped by her college. She misses work, so she loses her job. She is tried and released with the stigma of being on probation.

She is no longer a student and will have a difficult time finding work.

Or, the same student is issued a ticket and given a court date. She works extra hours to earn money for the fine. She goes to court and pays it. She is still a student and is still employed. The county is saved the cost of a trial and has collected the fine.

Both the student and the citizens of Dallas County are far better off.

Suzanne Wills, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dallas

Pubdate: Sat, 5 Jan 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)


DrugSense recognizes Greg Francisco of Paw Paw, Michigan for his four letters published during December, which brings his total published letters that we know of to 54. Greg is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition , a member of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy and the webmaster for Michigan NORML

You may read his published letters at:



By Mary Jane Borden

Let's say a major funder came calling and asked what we as activists did with our time. What value do we offer the movement? What have we accomplished over the past year? What might any one of us tell them? Here's my response:

Drug policy as a vocation reflects more of a calling than a job. No day is the same. It's not something you do 8:00 to 5:00; rather, you bleed this issue 24/7. Ironically, I find myself doing less actual activism - LTES, political phone trees, or blogging - than I would like. Instead, I perform the many, varied business tasks that advance our issue at both the macro and micro levels.

DrugSense represents my macro effort in that I work on a national and international level often with people I rarely see. The folks in the next metaphoric cubical actually reside as much as 3,000 miles away. Therefore, the organization's primary communication tools are the Internet services we offer to others. Guess you might say we try them out and master them first.

Naturally, in this electronic world, e-mail is king. Like many of reformers, I begin by checking e-mail and reacting to the issue of the day - fighting the immediate fires before tackling the various other projects on my plate. I can receive as many as 100 drug-policy-focused messages daily, although only a subset requires immediate attention.

After e-mail, I focus on marketing DrugSense to stakeholders in my capacity as DrugSense Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist. I write and publish the quarterly postal newsletter, the DrugSense/MAP Insider, and compose all grant applications. I pen weekly meeting notes, edit fundraisers, create collateral material, and author strategic plans. And, from 'soup to nuts,' I field at least one direct mail campaign per year.

Some of my more significant 2007 accomplishments include:

- Three PUB LTEs published in the Zanesville Times Recorder/Coshocton Tribune (O'Reilly Right on Medical Marijuana ), the Marion Star, and the Columbus Dispatch (Voters Should Back Cannabis as Medicine ).

- Eight DrugSense Weekly Feature Articles.

- Twelve monthly columns for OPNews, many focusing on Chemical Bigotry,

- Some of the above articles can be found at, a new site designed to counter this growing civil rights injustice.

- Wrote three funded grant proposals and associated follow-up reports.

- Published four DrugSense/MAP Insider newsletters,

- Designed four DrugSense flyers or brochures,

- Represented DrugSense at three conferences: the MPP GREAT conference in April, selling attendees on the value of DrugSense resources; ICMA Conference in Pittsburgh in October for LEAP; and the DPA Conference in December, representing DrugSense's on a media activism panel.

- Named October 2007 LEAP Volunteer of the Month for work at the ICMA Conference.

You might think that my day was done once my DrugSense work was complete. I must be a compulsive workaholic, for DrugSense represents only one side of my drug policy brain.

On the micro, grassroots level, I co-founded the 501(c)(3) Ohio Patient Network ( ) seven years ago and have served as its President and Treasurer. I also co-founded this group's 501(c)(4) lobbying arm, the Ohio Patient Action Network ( ), for which I have served as Secretary. My accomplishments there include preparing almost all corporate filings, writing or participating in the composition of all grant proposals, securing/retaining the c-3 tax status, composing all bylaws, and penning the group's Statement of Values. I've also lobbied dozens of legislators about medical marijuana and spoken at numerous events on the topic.

Aside from completing my day-to-day duties and culling through a lengthy to-do list, my primary interests now lie in creating an endowment to fund DrugSense and drug policy reform in perpetuity and in organizational dynamics, which include building on my growing knowledge of how non-profits should function both legally and ethically.

So as you see, there is no typical day in the life of this drug policy reform activist. Although I'll probably be spending my retirement 'saving the world,' I believe that that I have the means, opportunity, and motivation to do this important work. If not me, who? My overall goal is to do 'good' work, with good defined as being both of high quality and of altruistic benefit to others. DrugSense and drug policy are the vehicles by which I bring this goal to reality.

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


"The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war." - John Milton, seventeenth-century English poet

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

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