This Just In
(1)High Court To Hear Drug Case From S.C.
(2)Mexican Forces Clash With Drug Cartel Gunmen In Tijuana
(3)Column: Condo Huff: Don't Fear The Reefer
(4)Patients Want Pot For Pain

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2008 The State
Author: Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers

Inmate Wins Himself a Hearing With Emotional Request

Keith L. Burgess is a one-time South Carolina drug dealer and that rarest of jailhouse lawyers: a successful one.

A 30-year-old high school dropout who later earned his GED, Burgess persuaded the Supreme Court to hear his appeal. Working with a fellow inmate, he handcrafted a heartfelt petition that could change how some criminals are sentenced.

"He has accomplished what tens of thousands of attorneys across the country have not been able to," said Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey L. Fisher, who now represents Burgess. "I told him he should really be proud of himself."

The Supreme Court will consider arguments and render a final decision later this year.

Burgess admits that he sold 240 grams of crack cocaine in a parking lot outside a Florence shopping mall.

He contests his 156-month sentence, however. His case turns on whether a prior one-year prison term counts as a felony that triggers a lengthy sentence after his second conviction.

Just getting this far was, for Burgess, a one-in-a-thousand shot.

He filed his Supreme Court petition last year as an "in forma pauperis" case so that he wouldn't have to pay the court's standard $300 filing fee. In forma pauperis, a Latin phrase meaning "in the form of a pauper," is a legal exemption granted by judges to the poor so that they don't have to pay court costs. Burgess reported having assets totaling $0.

During the court's 2006-2007 term, 7,186 in forma pauperis petitions were considered. Of these, the court accepted only seven for review. During the 2005-2006 term, the court heard one out of the 6,533 in forma pauperis petitions considered.


Burgess argues that state law hadn't specifically defined his initial crime as a felony, so it shouldn't count in sentencing. The Bush administration says it should count, since felonies are customarily defined as crimes punished by sentences of one year or more.

Different appellate courts disagree on the question, causing the kind of circuit court split that can prompt Supreme Court review.

But "the conflict is extremely limited," Solicitor General Paul Clement cautioned in a legal brief. "This issue does not arise often, . and, in any event, this conflict is of very recent vintage."

Burgess and his inmate legal assistant, Michael R. Ray, countered emotionally.

"Try telling that argument to the poor souls like the petitioner, who are today sitting in federal custody with 20 year mandatory minimums hanging over their head," the inmates wrote.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: James C. McKinley, Jr.

REYNOSA, Mexico -- Drug cartel gunmen and government forces fought a three-hour battle Thursday in Tijuana, the latest in a series of violent clashes in border towns where President Felipe Calderon has deployed the Mexican Army and federal agents to dismantle drug cartels.

One gunman was killed and four police officers were wounded in the fight, state authorities said in a bulletin Thursday night. The police later discovered at least six other bodies in a house where the gunmen had made a stand against the government, state officials said. Some of the dead appeared to be kidnapping victims who had been slain, they said.

During the fighting, the sound of machine guns and grenades terrorized the city, as residents hid in their houses and soldiers evacuated a preschool, according to reports from Mexican newspapers, television networks and radio stations.

As Mr. Calderon has put more pressure on them, the drug cartels have lashed back at the government. Gunmen assassinated three police commanders in Tijuana this week and killed four federal agents last week in the states of Tamaulipas and Michoacan.

The gunfight on Thursday in Tijuana broke out at 11 a.m., as federal agents tried to enter a house believed to belong to drug dealers in a neighborhood called La Mesa. The agents drew fire from black-garbed men in the house, and soldiers and federal police officers closed in, taking up positions outside.


As the battle raged nearby, soldiers evacuated dozens of children from the Mi Alegria preschool, the Televisa network reported. Residents of the neighborhood remained trapped in their homes.

The shootout occurred in the same neighborhood where gunmen ambushed and killed two senior state police officials in their car on Tuesday just after midnight.

Hours later, gunmen broke into the home of a police commander, killing him, his wife and his 12-year-old daughter.


Last week, a similar battle between drug dealers and government forces broke out in Rio Bravo, Mexico, just south of the Texas town of McAllen. In that fight, officials said, three gunmen were killed and 10 on the government side were wounded



Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Joe Fiorito

When Erin Maloughney came back from holidays - she was in Rhode Island over Christmas visiting her new niece, a cute little kid - she found a letter in the mail.

The letter, sent by lawyers representing the condo corporation that runs her building, is a modern bit of correspondence, unimaginable a few years ago. A few years ago the condo corporation would not have written any letters. They'd have called the cops.

Erin is a medical user of marijuana.

She lives in a co-op downtown, a handsome and secure building not far from the subway, close to everything she needs. Her building has a pool, a sauna, a weight room, a library; she uses these often.

She is also licensed to grow a little dope at home, with the permission of the government. I think that makes the condo corporation nervous.

A bit of background:

Erin broke her back in a car accident when she was in high school. She recovered, painfully and partially, over several years.

And then, when she was grown up and working, she got clipped by a car while riding her bike downtown - the driver's fault - and she broke her back again.

The insurance settlement helped her buy the two-level, one-bedroom, big-city apartment where she lives. She no longer works. She is in constant pain.

She is growing 18 marijuana plants - that's all she needs - in what used to be the closet of her bedroom. The closet reno was done by a contractor friend; he did a nice job in a tight space.

But the condo corporation has expressed concerns about the safety of the wiring, and the possibility of mould. Erin said, "Those are valid issues in a multi-unit dwelling." She showed me around the other day.

Her closet is nothing like the drug-trade grow-ops you see on the news. It is not damp, nor a hothouse, nor does she use mass amounts of electricity, nor does she grow dope by the bushel, nor is there any danger from outsiders. Her building has a politely vigilant concierge on duty all the time.

Erin's needs are modest. She takes one hit every hour on the hour, using a black ceramic bong; when that moment came - you could tell it was coming on, because her eyes had gradually narrowed and her pain now seemed to radiate from every pore - she went outside on her balcony, fired up the bong with a barbecue lighter and inhaled once.

Legally, mind you.

She said that if she did not smoke, her pain would clock in at seven out of 10 if, on the pain chart, 10 is blow-your-brains-out misery. A single hit, once an hour, keeps her more or less at level three.

Beats opiates any day.

She said, "A lot of people think my garden grounds me. I sing to my plants. I worry about them. I spray them. It gives me something to do." That's important, when you can't walk very far. She said, "I have a green thumb. I'm good at what I do." But the letter from the condo corporation is stern.

She isn't sure what she will do.




Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jan 2008
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2008 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Author: Chris Andrews, Gannett News Service

Lynn Allen is in a great deal of pain. And he thinks marijuana would ease it.

The 51-year-old Williamston man was born with hemophilia and infected with HIV and hepatitis C more than 20 years ago.

His greatest pain comes from arthritis related to his hemophilia. He must use a wheelchair to get around. He takes narcotics that help with pain, but they have side effects, including constipation and memory problems. Unless it's legal, he won't use marijuana.

"I had children in the home, and I didn't want to set a bad example for them," Allen said. "They've since gone off to college, but I just don't think it's a good idea to break the law."

Michigan voters will likely decide in November whether to allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana based on the recommendation of a physician.

Supporters have turned in nearly half a million petition signatures to the secretary of state's office -- they need 304,000 valid signatures to get the issue on the ballot. The state Legislature gets first crack at passing the petition as law, but that seems unlikely. In that case, the question would appear on the November ballot.


Twelve states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In Michigan, five cities -- Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint and Traverse City -- have ordinances to do so, although use and possession are illegal under state and federal law.

Under the Michigan proposal, seriously ill patients could legally use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.


"You find it primarily used for people who are going through chemotherapy and have a difficult time keeping anything down, people with muscular pain such as multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, people who are in serious pain and that have life-threatening illnesses," said Dianne Byrum, a former legislator whose political consulting firm is leading the drive.

Byrum says other states with medical marijuana laws have seen up to one half of 1 percent of the population take advantage of the law. In Michigan, that would be about 50,000 people.


In theory, the Legislature could enact the marijuana law, eliminating the need for sending it to the voters. But that's not likely to happen, said Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt.

"These folks are trying to pull the wool over people's eyes," Cropsey said. "They'll get a couple of very sympathetic examples out there, but when it comes right down to it, they are just plain trying to legalize marijuana eventually."




The federal drug czar has been crowing for months about the alleged scarcity of cocaine in American cities (assertions based on data he won't release), but out in the real world, more contradictions to the "success story" are surfacing. This week, U.S. military officials said seizures of cocaine from Latin America dropped dramatically in 2007 - suggesting that more cocaine, not less, was imported into the U.S. during the year. On a more local level, officials in a peaceful, upscale Wisconsin community fear that some cocaine dealers are profiting enough to quietly move into the neighborhood.

In a Texas community, border violence is getting so close that an end to the drug war is starting to look more appealing to some newspaper editorialists compared to attempts at enhanced enforcement. And, where is that enhanced enforcement going to come from? Federal anti-drug money has been slashed so deeply that not even longtime hard-core drug warrior legislators like Indiana's Mark Souder can manage to bring home much prohibition pork these days.


Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2008
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Gainesville Sun

MIAMI - U.S.-directed seizures and disruptions of cocaine shipments from Latin America dropped sharply in 2007 from the year before, reflecting in part a successful shift in tactics by drug traffickers to avoid detection at sea, senior U.S. officials said in releasing new figures.

Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in the region, said seizures fell from 262 metric tons in 2006 to about 210 tons last year.

"It's difficult to say why that is," he said Monday in an interview with three reporters who visited his headquarters with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who expressed concern at the shift.

The 2007 figure was the lowest since 2003, other officials said. Last year's drop broke a string of yearly increases in cocaine seizures and disruptions dating to the late 1990s. The numbers include estimates of cocaine thrown overboard or scuttled with vessels -- a common response by smugglers who are detected at sea.

The biggest dropoff last year was in seizures at sea, which fell from nearly 160 metric tons in 2006 to about 100 metric tons last year, according to the figures, which are preliminary but were described by officials as reliable estimates.




Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2008
Source: Oshkosh Northwestern (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Gannett Co., Inc.
Author: Kate Briquelet

When trying to lure business to the Fox Valley, development groups often say it's among the safest places nationwide. But the area's security may also be attracting a different kind of entrepreneur -- the cocaine trafficker.

Authorities are arresting more dealers from outside the area -- namely Milwaukee and Chicago -- for selling powder or crack cocaine.

The Fox Valley "is a very lucrative area for these dealers to peddle their wares," said Brad Dunlap, Wisconsin Department of Justice agent in charge of the Lake Winnebago Metropolitan Enforcement Group ( MEG ) drug unit. "It's a much safer place. You don't have to worry about drive-by shootings, there's no turf wars, rival gangs or dealers killing each other or assaulting each other . It's a relatively large market for their product, and a safe market to operate in."

Investigators say drug trafficking has escalated significantly, making cocaine the No. 1 drug threat in the Fox Valley. According to the drug unit's 2007 threat assessment, Adult arrests went up 22 percent from 2004 to 2006. Records show there were 126 arrests in 2004, 145 in 2005 and 154 in 2006. Dunlap said the numbers are projected to increase.

"There's a high degree of naivete of what is actually going on," he said. "Historically, we haven't had the issues we do now."

Morgan Quitno, a company ranking America's safest and most dangerous cities, consistently ranks the Fox Valley within the top 15 safest metropolitan areas.

New North Inc., an association of business, chambers of commerce and other development entities, is one organization touting the Fox Valley's below-average crime rates to bring industry to the area. New North's Web site shows that Fond du Lac ranked as the safest metropolitan area nationwide in 2007, Appleton ranked fifth and Oshkosh-Neenah ranked 12th.

However, the area's security also provides a good market for drug trafficking, law enforcement officials said.

"We have a relatively safe community ( and ) unfortunately drug dealers are aware of this," said Eric Sparr, a Winnebago County assistant district attorney. "The community is safe for us and for the drug dealers, too."




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Monitor, The (McAllen, TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Monitor

It May Be Time To Get Rid Of Drug Laws -- Or At Least Change Them.

If the drug-war violence that erupted this week across the border in Rio Bravo and in Reynosa leaves you apprehensive, your head is probably in the right place.

It is a very scary situation akin to the Capone-era gangland wars in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s, which left scores of bad guys and innocent bystanders dead and injured.

Although we would like to think not, there is a distinct possibility - -- because of the extreme mobility of the cross-border illicit drug trade and its practitioners -- that more of this violence could spread to the U.S. side. We say "more" because if you think it isn't already happening here, you're deluding yourself. Many of the stories we have covered regarding home invasions, burned bodies found in cars, corpses discovered here and there around the Valley and instances in which U.S. Border Patrol officers have been fired on from across the Rio Grande have been associated with cross-border drug trafficking.

We have so far been spared overt violence like that which broke out this week in the streets of Rio Bravo and Reynosa. But how much longer we will be able to say that remains to be seen unless the Mexican government moves swiftly and decisively to break up the warring cartels. That, however, might be only a temporary fix.

Even if the existing cartels are broken up and their leaders jailed or more permanently dispatched, it will be just a matter of time before new ones take their place so long as there is the sort of money to be made that comes from drug trafficking.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Indianapolis Star (IN)
Copyright: 2008 Indianapolis Newspapers Inc.
Author: James A. Gillaspy

Federal Funds Were Cut 68%, And Officer Says Investigations In State Will Be Affected

A sharp reduction in federal funding for the war on drugs threatens to hamper the efforts of law enforcement agencies across Indiana, police say. Indiana State Police Maj. Larry Turner, who oversees the agency's drug enforcement effort, said Congress' decision last month to cut 68 percent of funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program will hurt drug investigations.

President Bush's signature on the legislation means $350 million less for applicants nationwide this year.

Indiana received $5.4 million from the program in 2007 and will get $1.8 million this year. Both figures are in sharp contrast to levels at the beginning of the decade, when Indiana received at least $10 million a year. Turner, who also serves as president of the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, said the grant money, provided through the Department of Justice, is a vital tool in the nation's war on drugs. "Projects and task forces funded with Byrne/JAG funds have historically been the most effective," Turner said in a memo this week to alliance members. "A spending reduction of this magnitude will effectively cripple many local jurisdictions and their task forces." Turner said he plans to go to Washington next month to seek help from Indiana's congressional delegation to persuade other legislators to find replacement dollars.

"This Byrne/JAG funding is a big issue in every state, not just in Indiana," said Turner, whose detectives use grant money to conduct investigations in counties where there is little or no money or manpower for intensive drug enforcement.

Turner will find a sympathetic ear from Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., who criticized the cuts.

"I am extremely disappointed after having worked so hard to overturn President Bush's proposed reductions," the Fort Wayne congressman said. "I understand we have a budget crunch, but the Byrne grants are absolutely critical.




In Cleveland, Ohio, the mayor wants a crack-down on drugs and guns, even though he knows the crackdown will lead to violence. He and his supporters suggest that violence will be between police and criminals, but the mayor apparently hasn't been paying attention to events elsewhere in his state. Citizens in Lima, Ohio remain upset over the police raid that left a mother dead and a young child injured, and now the incident is being turned into a federal case, but one wonders if the public will trust the feds to bring justice. The mayor of Cleveland might also want to read a new book about the all-encompassing power of the drug trade in some poor communities to understand what he's really against, and why some residents might feel closer to deals than police. And, finally, as California's Governor contemplates ways out of a budget crisis, police are up in arms about the possible release of non-violent offenders.


Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Copyright: 2008 The Plain Dealer
Authors: Mark Puente, Gabriel Baird and Damian Guevara, Plain Dealer

"We're going after whoever is likely to carry a gun. Their skin color does not matter to me. If you got a gun, we're coming to get you."

Mayor admits violence will get worse before it gets better; critics worry racial strife could flare up if black youths are targeted by sweeps

Mayor Frank Jackson doesn't want to see more deadly car chases and shootouts between cops and suspects, but under his new police plan, he expects them.

Jackson told the police this week to be more aggressive in targeting gun-toting drug dealers. He has said repeatedly that he expects there to be violent, perhaps deadly, run-ins between police and criminals.

"This is not a game," Jackson said Wednesday. "People are killing each other. We expect more confrontations."

At least one local defense lawyer worries that the cornerstone of Jackson's plan -- pairing police with federal agents to seek out and confront criminals carrying guns -- will result in police indiscriminately going after young black men.

"What troubled me is the idea that police officers can tell who is concealing a weapon," said defense attorney Terry Gilbert, who has sued several police officers over the years, claiming they violated people's civil rights.

"It usually centers on African-American youths congregating on street corners," Gilbert said. "You can't just go up to people and shake them down."

Two councilmen applauded the plan, but warned that Jackson has much work to do in selling it to the black community. Councilman Kevin Conwell said the relationship between some black residents and the police has become adversarial.

"They see them just like a military force," said Conwell, who leads council's Public Safety Committee. "If you bring in a military force, you better have a relationship with the community."




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Source: Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
Copyright: 2008 The Blade
Author: Jennifer Feehan, Blade Staff Writer

Veteran Officer Identified As Shooter

LIMA, Ohio - The FBI has joined state investigators in a probe of the fatal shooting of a Lima woman and a veteran police sergeant was identified as the shooter yesterday.

Jennifer Brindisi, a spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, said federal agents are working with the agency to determine how Tarika Wilson, 26, was shot to death and her 14-month-old son, Sincere Wilson, wounded during the Friday night raid at their East Third Street home. She said the FBI likely will examine the case for possible civil-rights violations as well.

Sgt. Joseph A. Chavalia, 52, was identified by Lima Police Chief Greg Garlock as the officer who fired the shots that killed Wilson and injured her son, who was in her arms at the time. An autopsy showed Wilson was shot twice in the upper torso, said Dr. Gary Beasley, Allen County coroner.

Sergeant Chavalia, who was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident, has been with the police department for 30 years and has been part of its Special Weapons and Tactical team since 1986, ac-cording to a statement released by Chief Garlock.

During Friday's raid, police arrested Wilson's boyfriend, Anthony Terry, on a charge of trafficking in drugs. Police, who have not released any details about the events leading up to the shooting, said they found marijuana and crack cocaine in the house.



 (11) REVIEW: CRACKONOMICS 101  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 13 Jan 2008
Source: New York Post (NY)
Copyright: 2008 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
Author: James Hart

The Sociology Of Drug Dealing

During the height of the crack epidemic, sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh went into one of the nation's most notorious housing projects, Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, and learned how the drug economy worked by hanging out with a crack gang for a few years. "Gang Leader for a Day" tells how Venkatesh, then a graduate student at the University of Chicago, won the trust of a gang leader named J.T., who became his guide to the projects. Many readers may remember that Venkatesh's research helped form the basis for the chapter of "Freakonomics" dealing with why some drug dealers live with their mothers. "Gang Leader," too, gets into the day-to-day business realities of selling crack.

J.T. - who went to college and worked a legit sale job before moving back to Robert Taylor - had to motivate and manage dozens of "sales teams," prevent ambitious junior associates from taking his spot and increase revenue, all the time wondering if he'd end up dead or in prison. "Sometimes he spoke of his job with dispassion, as if he were the CEO of some widget manufacturer - an attitude that I found not only jarring but, given the violence and destruction his enterprise caused, irresponsible," Venkatesh writes.

Not that drugs are the only way that J.T. and his gang, the Black Kings, made money. The gang took a cut from prostitutes, squatters and other hustlers who did business in the housing project. If somebody acted up, gang members delivered warnings and, if necessary, beatings to make things run smoothly.

Venkatesh uncovers that other tenants in the project - those who weren't dealing - often went to J.T. and his men for help before they tried contacting police, social workers or any other authority outside the project. Need money so the building's kids can have a party? Is your daughter's boyfriend smacking her around? The Kings got results, so they became a de facto government, providing everything from building security to weekend cookouts. "J.T. may have been a lawbreaker, but he was very much a lawmaker as well," Venkatesh says. "He acted as if his organization truly did rule the neighborhood, and sometimes the takeover was complete. The Black Kings policed the buildings more aggressively than the Chicago police did."




Pubdate: Sat, 12 Jan 2008
Source: Reporter, The (Vacaville, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Reporter
Author: Robin Miller, City Editor

The governor's suggestion to release thousands of prison inmates before their sentences are complete is getting a lukewarm reception from local law enforcers.

As part of his budget proposal Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed releasing some 22,159 non-violent inmates determined to be "low risk" and who have less than 20 months remaining on their sentences. He also proposed eliminating active supervision of 18,522 parolees and making it far more difficult to return lawbreakers to prison

"We don't like it," said Solano County Sheriff Gary Stanton on Friday. "We expected it. There has been a lot of talk about this in recent months, but the whole idea is contrary to what we in law enforcement want to see."

Vacaville Police Chief Richard Word agreed.

"My concern is that some of these inmates may have been sentenced for non-violent offense but that does not mean they don't have violent priors or violent records," he said.

Word came to Vacaville from the Oakland Police Department where he said his experience was that many non-violent offenders were incarcerated for drug offenses. "And what we saw is that they steal to support their drug habits and it fuels that environment and can result in more violent crime," Word said.

District Attorney David Paulson said there is one part of the release proposal that could help and grew out of a meeting he attended several months ago with the governor.

At the meeting, the governor was talking to the state's law enforcement community about a pilot program in Orange County where felons could earn early release from parole with good behavior and how it might be applied statewide. Paulson asked him to reconsider and instead place inmates on a "banked" parole wherein they wouldn't report regularly to a parole agent, but could still be subject to search and seizure by law enforcement.




One of two national papers in Canada editorialized in defense of Marc Emery last week, charging Ottawa with sacrificing Marc to Washington at the expense of judicial integrity.

More judicial developments from Canada where the courts further eroded the constitutionally questionable medicinal cannabis policy on which cannabis prohibition depends.

One step forward and a Nebraskan senator wishes to take a step back by overturning a successful 30-year-old law that lets Nebraskans off with a $100 fine for possessing less than an ounce.

In the spirit of emergency room "mentions", the Daily Telegraph blamed cannabis abuse for 500 hospital admissions per week! Be sure to see "Drugscope debunks misleading Telegraph canna-panic stats" at


Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)

Drug policy in Canada, particularly as it pertains to marijuana, is stuck in a sort of legal no-man's-land. Politicians want to appear tough on crime, but at the same time are loath to make criminals out of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians -- perhaps as many one or two million -- who are casual tokers. They tiptoe up to the precipice of decriminalization, always to scurry back at the last minute for fear of offending the United States, or the many domestic voters who oppose more liberal marijuana laws. At best, our leaders can only ever summon the courage for a de facto decriminalization: Keep personal pot possession nominally illegal, but instruct Crown prosecutors not to prosecute most offenders.

The irony is: This gutless approach undermines the rule of law more assuredly than decriminalization or full legalization ever could.

Nowhere has this truth been more evident than in the two-year-long efforts by American drug police to extradite Marc Emery, entrepreneur, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party and the West Coast's self-styled "Prince of Pot." For years, the government has looked the other way as Mr. Emery has become a millionaire many times over. But even as he has remained a free man in Canada, Ottawa has felt pressured by Washington to crack down on Mr. Emery for alleged breach of U.S. drug laws (Americans complain that his mail-order business has sold seeds to U.S. buyers.) The result of this application of War on Drugs heavy- handedness by remote control has been a diminution of our national sovereignty and a blow to Canada's own rule of law.



 (14) PLENTY O' POT NEWS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 16 Jan 2008
Source: Monday Magazine (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Monday Publications
Author: Jason Youmans

Lawyers for the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS) will be back in court in February to defend the organization's constitutional right to distribute medical cannabis, despite the death of the judge who was presiding over the now two-year-old trial.

VICS defence lawyer Kirk Tousaw was informed by Madame Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg on Monday the case will continue next month from where it left off in November, before the fatal heart attack of Justice Robert Edwards.

VICS executive director Philippe Lucas says that's good new for his group, which has spent $200,000 defending Mike Swallow and Mat Beren against charges stemming from a 2004 police raid on a grow operation the group managed at an East Sooke property.

The crown has now dropped charges against Swallow, citing evidence presented at trial that he was only visiting the house when the raid occurred.


Last, but in now way least, on Thursday last week federal court Justice Barry Strayer struck down Health Canada's monopoly on the distribution of medical marijuana to patients unable to grow their own. The feds medical marijuana monopoly has long been criticized by clients for the long waits for prescriptions and the second-tier quality of the product.

Strayer said in his 23-page decision that the bureaucratic hoops required to access Health Canada pot, "caused individuals major difficulty with access," constituting a significant impediment for those with critical illnesses.

It is expected the Crown will appeal the decision, but in the meantime, licensed growers on Vancouver Island are ready to do Jah's work for the critically and chronically ill.




Pubdate: Sat, 12 Jan 2008
Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2008 Omaha World-Herald Company
Authors: Leslie Reed and Michaela Saunders

LINCOLN - Smoking pot is just as serious a crime as teenage drinking, a state legislator says.

So State Sen. Russ Karpisek has introduced a bill to overturn the 30- year-old law that lets Nebraskans off with a $100 fine if caught with less than one ounce of marijuana.

Karpisek said marijuana users, no matter their age, should face the same potential penalties as a 20-year-old caught with a half-full can of beer - up to 90 days in jail and as much as a $500 fine.

"Alcohol is legal for adults, while marijuana is an illegal substance," the Wilber lawmaker said. "It's one of those things us rednecks really get mad about."

Nebraska is one of 12 states that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. That means first-time offenses are treated like minor traffic violations that result in no jail time or criminal records, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a group that seeks to legalize marijuana.


Margaret Grove is co-executive director of the parent resource group PRIDE-Omaha Inc. She said passage of Karpisek's bill would add teeth to the current law and challenge societal acceptance of marijuana use among youth and adults.

"Current law is too lenient. It's kind of viewed as a slap on the wrist. Society in general ties the seriousness to the punishment. Our kids are growing up in a culture that really normalizes the use of marijuana," Grove said.




Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2008
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Telegraph Group Limited
Authors: James Kirkup, and Richard Edwards

The public health impact of the Government's decision to downgrade cannabis is disclosed today in official figures showing a 50 per cent rise in the number of people requiring medical treatment after using the drug.

Since cannabis was downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug, the number of adults being treated in hospitals and clinics in England for its effects has risen to more than 16,500 a year. In addition, the number of children needing medical attention after smoking the drug has risen to more than 9,200.

Doctors say cannabis abuse can contribute to a series of mental health problems

Almost 500 adults and children are treated in hospitals and clinics every week for the effects of cannabis.

Its health toll is revealed in official data compiled by health authorities and obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

Drug campaigners last night said the figures proved Labour's decision to reclassify cannabis in January 2004, which made the penalties for its possession less severe, was badly mistaken and had sent out the wrong signals about it being a "soft" drug.

Doctors say cannabis abuse can contribute to mental health problems including forms of psychosis, paranoia and schizophrenia. There can be harmful physical side-effects, disrupting blood pressure and exacerbating heart and circulation disorders.

The data will add to the pressure on Gordon Brown to reverse its reclassification when a review of the decision by Home Office scientific advisers concludes in the Spring.




Once upon a time, heroin was touted as a safer and non-addictive replacement for morphine. Later, the opioid methadone was hailed by government and industry alike as a way to get people off of heroin. But times change. Modern man can leave that behind with buprenorphine, which began to be used in the late 1990s as a treatment for opioid addictions. Alas, it seems that buprenorphine also "offered users a 'high', increasing its likelihood of being abused." Prisoners in Australian jails were recently discovered to be addicted to the buprenorphine used in prison drug treatment programs, prompting prison authorities to clampdown. Although in prison (often for non-violent cannabis "offenses"), prisoners end up addicted to the hard drugs rampant in the prisons. "Documents obtained by The Age under freedom of information laws reveal that hundreds of Victorian prisoners are being convicted of drug offences, despite being in custody."

Few are looking while Canada's rightist government expands plans for a made-in-the-USA prison-happy drug war. While loudly beating their chests that this is only "for the children", the rightist government of Steven Harper is proceeding with plans for prison-packing mandatory minimums for "serious" drug (read: marijuana) offences. Mandatory minimums make judges into powerless rubber-stampers as prosecutors get all the power by fine-tuning indictments for what often is a single act of simple drug possession. Proceeding along the same authoritarian lines as the USA, expect Canadian police to become even more brutal, and prisons to become Canada's new growth industry: a boon to demagogic "get tough" politicians who will paint opposition as "soft on drugs."

The money laundering laws, enacted in the U.S. in the 1980s, were sold as an important "tool" to "fight drugs" to "save the children". Of course, such laws have prevented no one from getting all the illicit drugs they want, so, in that sense (the stated, original intent), money laundering laws failed miserably. This week we learn of yet another trick illegal drug smugglers use to launder drug money: using other currencies, in this case, Euros.

Meanwhile, back in New Guinea, the people of the Kakagl villages in Simbu province, have been praised by local police for publicly testifying as to their conversion from a previous life of sin and marijuana use. Swearing off reefer for good, one regretful Kakagli young man related, "while I am under the influence of marijuana I am always forced to steal domesticated animals and cause unnecessary fight with village elders", something police worldwide will recognize as effects of the illicit weed.


Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2008
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Peter Ker

PRISON authorities have expanded drug detection tests in Victorian jails after discovering an increasing number of inmates abusing a heroin addiction substitute.

The addition of the drug buprenorphine to Corrections Victoria's drug-testing regime comes amid a separate review into the administration of drug users in prisons, and new statistics that reveal scores of prisoners remain drug-dependent while in Victorian prisons.

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opiate introduced in Victoria in the late 1990s as a treatment for heroin dependency in cases where methadone was deemed inappropriate.


Professor Nick Crofts, from Melbourne University's Nossal Institute, said that although buprenorphine was a treatment drug, it also offered users a "high", increasing its likelihood of being abused.

Corrections Victoria randomly tests about 50 prisoners each week for a range of drugs.

Documents obtained by The Age under freedom of information laws reveal that hundreds of Victorian prisoners are being convicted of drug offences, despite being in custody.


But Professor Crofts said Victorian prisons would never be free of drugs. "Drugs are an issue in prison because of boredom and lack of meaningful occupation. Until the prison system is reformed then you are going to continue to have a demand for drugs," he said.



Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Rob Nicholson

Re: Why is Canada copying failure?, Larry Campbell, Jan. 8


The proposed set of mandatory minimum penalties simply does not target minor drug offenders. Only those drug traffickers who have aggravating factors in their cases, such as using violence or selling drugs near schools, will be eligible to receive the mandatory minimum sentence.


We want to prevent people from becoming enslaved by drugs, and free them from drugs when they get hooked.


Rob Nicholson is Canada's minister of justice.



Dirty Euros Enter U.S. Via Latin America; The African Connection

A cocaine boom in Europe and the continent's strong currency have combined to fuel a thriving industry: euro laundering.

With the euro approaching $1.50 and soaring demand for cocaine in countries like Spain and Italy, Europe has become a far more lucrative place to do business for Latin American drug cartels than in previous years.


The first step is to convert small bills accumulated from thousands of street sales into =80500 notes, which are easy to transport. Obtaining large quantities of these conspicuous notes, though, isn't easy. So drug traffickers turn to specialized criminal rings -- whose members are often involved in banking and real estate -- to gain access to them, says Jose Manuel Alvarez Luna, chief of the money-laundering section of the Spanish police.

Spain is the center for such aggregation, according to authorities. A high-level Spanish banking official says a disproportionate share of the euro zone's =80500 notes, known as Bin Ladens for their scarcity, circulate in Spain.


Particularly since 9/11, tightened antilaundering regulations, known by banks as "know your customer" rules, have forced drug cartels to use more circuitous routes to circulate their funds around the globe.




Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jan 2008
Source: National, The (New Guinea)
Copyright: 2008, The National
Author: Zachery Per

The people of Kakagl village one, two and three in Gembogl district, Simbu province, have been praised for their move to quit cultivating and consuming marijuana.


A total of 100 people actively involved in the business of cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana for more than 10 years testified in public how they got involved in the marijuana business and why they were saying no to marijuana.

An 18-year-old youth said "I don't want to cause any more problems for the village, because while I am under the influence of marijuana I am always forced to steal domesticated animals and cause unnecessary fight with village elders".



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


A mini-documentary by Dean Kuipers


Join Kirk as he discusses the possibility that the Canadian pot laws are invalid. With a recent court decision just handed down, look for an update in the days ahead.


By Milagros Gamero

Whenever we watch TV or go to the movies, we repeatedly find references of characters using drugs. However, the portrayal of this drug consumption is depicted in a different way depending on who is the person doing them.


Century of Lies

Dominic Holden re the harms of drug prohibition. Marc Emery faces 5 years in prison for selling seeds. Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project re police killing of medical marijuana patient. Phil Smith re widespread swat raids on drug users.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

In memory of Judge Eleanor Schockett who passed from this Earth on Jan 12, 2007. Judge Schockett was a member of the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Joining us is Peter Christ a founding member of LEAP.


On Monday the news was leaked that Marc was looking at taking a deal that would see him go to prison for 5 years in exchange for the freedom of Michelle and Greg. Even though no deal has yet been signed, here's some of the local news coverage from CBC, CTV and A-Channel.


Days before the first presidential caucuses in a medical marijuana state, the Marijuana Policy Project today doubled its offer to presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney to back up their statements opposing medical marijuana with scientific evidence.


Flags Fly at Half-Mast In Miami to Honor Judge Eleanor Levingston Schockett who died Saturday January 12, 2008

Jurist-Activist-Friend LEAP Board Member and Speaker



A DrugSense Focus Alert - please write a letter.


The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is once again sponsoring a series of regional summits to encourage middle- school and high school administrators to enact federally sponsored random student drug testing.

Free registration to attend any of this year's summits is available online at:


Here are some tips and tools for those able to attend one of the summits. Let educators know that random student drug testing programs are invasive, potentially counterproductive and unsupported by the scientific literature.



By Tony Newman

Dr. Alan Blum's letter shows why drug prevention efforts fail to reach so many of our youth ( "Medical Consequences of Recreational Drug Use," Jan. 4). Mr. Blum criticizes Stanton Peele's editorial for advocating honest drug education instead of scare tactics.

Mr. Blum claims that even a single episode of drug use can have serious adverse heath consequences. He then implies that Mr. Peele would back away from urging adolescents not to smoke cigarettes, since most smokers will eventually quit. Mr. Blum appears to share the philosophy of many abstinence-only programs that try to scare teens out of ever even trying drugs by highlighting phony horror stories such as "Try marijuana and you may become a homeless heroin addict." Yet despite 20 years of "Just Say No" D.A.R.E. programs, half of all 18-year-olds will have tried marijuana before they graduate.

And for most of those who try it or have friends or family members who have, there are no nightmare experiences that our "experts" predict.

This leads to many teens ignoring all the information told them by people in authority who have now lost their credibility.

One area of substantial progress when it comes to young people and drugs is the campaign against cigarette smoking.

This campaign has treated teens with respect and has given honest information about its true consequences. Most teens have seen the harm of cigarette smoking in the lives of their loved ones. Honest drug information that respects teens enough to give it to them straight gets results.

Dishonest information that tries to scare them with propaganda that conflicts with their real-life experiences leads to dismissal and failure.

Tony Newman Drug Policy Alliance New York

Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)


American Gangsters  ( Top )

By Mark Draughn

Some former DEA agents are annoyed by the movie American Gangster, according to a story at which is excerpted below.

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three former Drug Enforcement Administration agents filed a $55 million defamation lawsuit against the movie studio that made "American Gangster" on Wednesday, claiming it tarnished hundreds of reputations...

"The movie hurt the agents' reputations by falsely claiming in text at the end that a collaboration between Lucas and Roberts "led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency" agents between 1973 and 1985, according to the suit, which seeks class action status.

"The lawsuit said the public believed the film's text referred to federal DEA agents, not police officers, and regardless, no New York police officers were convicted as a result of Lucas' cooperation."

The DEA agents' demands are about what you'd expect from drug warriors who confiscate people's cars when they find drug residue in the ash tray:

"The suit seeks to stop the film's distribution or change the text at the end of the film and turn over all of its profits to a fund for federal DEA agents."

Once a legal gangster, always a legal gangster.

Mark Draughn offers commentary at, where this piece appeared.


"The cost of liberty is less than the cost of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois

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