This Just In
(1)Crack Offenders Set For Release Mostly Nonviolent, Study Says
(2)RCMP Announces Arrival To Pot Growers With Siren
(3)Bureaucrats Forget Weed's Influence On Art World
(4)Debunking The Hemp Conspiracy Theory

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 22 Feb 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Darryl Fears, Washington Post Staff Writer

Most of the more than 1,500 crack cocaine offenders who are immediately eligible to petition courts to be released from federal prisons under new guidelines issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission are small-time dealers or addicts who are not career criminals and whose charges did not involve violence or firearms, according to a new analysis by the commission staff.

About 6 percent of the inmates were supervisors or leaders of drug rings, and about 5 percent were convicted of obstructing justice, generally by trying to get rid of their drugs as they were being arrested or contacting witnesses or co-defendants before trial, according to the analysis being circulated on Capitol Hill by the commission to counter Bush administration assertions that the guidelines would prompt the release of thousands of dangerous criminals.

About one-quarter of these inmates were given enhanced sentences because of weapons charges, though the charge can apply to defendants who were actually not carrying a gun or a knife but were with someone who was armed.

About 18 percent of the offenders' sentences were reduced because they were arrested and charged for the first time, were forced into a drug ring by someone such as a boyfriend, were unwittingly caught up in a drug operation during a police raid, or for some other reason.

The largest group -- 41 percent -- consists of small-time crack offenders who do not fall under any of the criteria that would cause authorities to increase their sentences or have them reduced.

"What portion of these are violent and what portion of those are girlfriends just caught up . . . with their boyfriends and they're serving for decades, more than bank robbers and murderers?" said Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.), who has been critical of the administration's attempts to overturn the U.S. Sentencing Commission's decision to reduce federal prison sentences for crack offenders and make that policy retroactive to cover current prisoners.




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Kim Bolan

Police Take New Approach To Executing Search Warrant After Court Ruling

Surrey RCMP not only knocked and announced their arrival at a million- dollar home of suspected pot growers Tuesday, they blasted a police siren as well.

The innovative approach to executing a search warrant was in response to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago in which police were criticized for not giving enough warning to a pot grower before breaking down his door.

Justice Catherine Bruce dismissed the charges against Van Dung Cao, who was found with 704 pot plants, because police waited just two minutes after knocking before using a battering ram on his side door.

Bruce said the RCMP violated the "knock and announce" protection afforded by the Charter.

The controversial ruling left police flabbergasted, saying a delay in entry could risk the lives of the officers involved. An appeal has now been filed by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Drug investigators from the Surrey detachment were taking no chances when they arrived at a palatial home at 8517-171 St. late Tuesday morning.

"They thought for something different, we will get a marked car, we'll plunk it out front and we'll let the siren rip," Sgt. Roger Morrow explained.

"And that is what they did and this guy comes to the venetian blinds and pulls them apart and goes 'ugh' and retreats back into the house."




Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Vancouver Courier
Author: Geoff Olson

Creative City Report Decidedly Uncreative

The Creative City Task Force released its Culture Plan for Vancouver 2008-2018 last month, entitled Creative City. If the document is adopted by council, the plan will dictate the breadth and depth of cultural investment by the civic government over the next 10 years, and as a result, the quality of cultural life in the city for a long time.

For a report that uses the word "creative" 120 times in just 26 pages, there isn't much creativity in it. It is, to be fair, a literary product of government bureaucracy, and so the report's introduction by the Culture Department predictably brims with literary gems like: "Staff will then use the consolidated Implementation Plan to identify operational actions for the City to be incorporated into annual workplans over the coming years."

Artists they are not.

Given the overblown statements in the report's introduction and conclusion, what lies between is strictly processed meat. "Vancouver is poised to establish itself as a city on the cutting edge of art, culture, education, entertainment, and support of the creative industries," the executive summary exclaims. Its hyperventilating conclusion announces: "The arts and cultural sector has the potential to create and capture a new energy which will come from within, form new collaborations and relationships across the sector from the local, national and international focus arising from a number of extraordinary opportunities over the next six to 10 years."

Inside these statements, however, there is nothing more than plans to build on this, expand on that, restore funding here, streamline funding processes there. As for creativity in the Creative City report, there is none. Nothing new is proposed. Vancouver's new cultural plan, one meant to take the city over the cutting edge of art and culture by exploiting extraordinary opportunities, is the old plan all over again. Help the neighbourhoods do festivals a bit more, reduce policing costs for events, streamline grant applications, get the libraries and schools more involved, and so on.

The task force is right to sense the time is ripe for something extraordinary in Vancouver. This has only a little to do with the Olympics and much more to do with Vancouver's history. We tend to forget, for example, this arts and culture hotbed is a direct result of a relatively relaxed attitude toward marijuana consumption. If pot wasn't readily available and smokeable out the back door, it's doubtful there would be any musicians to play any neighbourhood venue in the city.




Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 Independent Media Institute
Website: Author: Steven Wishnia

Scratch a pothead and ask them why marijuana is outlawed, and there's a good chance you'll get some version of the "hemp conspiracy" theory. Federal pot prohibition, the story goes, resulted from a plot by the Hearst and DuPont business empires to squelch hemp as a possible competitor to wood-pulp paper and nylon.

These allegations can be found anywhere from Wikipedia entries on William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont Company to comments on pot- related articles published here on AlterNet. And these allegations are virtually unchallenged; many people fervently believe in the hemp conspiracy, even though the evidence to back it up evaporates under even minimal scrutiny.

You could make a stronger case for Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of John F. Kennedy; Oswald at least left a not-quite-smoking gun at the scene.

Pot activist Jack Herer's book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is the prime source for the hemp-conspiracy theory.

It alleges that in the mid-1930s, "when the new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machines to conserve hemp's high-cellulose pulp finally became state of the art, available and affordable," Hearst, with enormous holdings in timber acreage and investments in paper manufacturing, "stood to lose billions of dollars and perhaps go bankrupt." Meanwhile, DuPont in 1937 had just patented nylon and "a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp" -- so "if hemp had not been made illegal, 80 percent of DuPont's business would never have materialized."

Herer, a somewhat cantankerous former marijuana-pipe salesman, deserves a lot of credit for his cannabis activism.


Steven Wishnia is the author of "Exit 25 Utopia," "The Cannabis Companion" and "Invincible Coney Island." He lives in New York.




This week several columns explored the history and continued racial bias of our drug laws. Another symptom of our drug policies has been the excruciatingly slow acceptance of the health benefits from needle exchange programs. New Jersey showed more progress this week but Texas continues to be the last state to resist this important and necessary step.


Pubdate: Thu, 14 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Gleaner (CN NK)
Copyright: 2008 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Chris McCormick

We tend to take the law for granted, but sometimes its origins deserve a little thought.

For example, it's something of a puzzle why certain narcotics were seen as dangerous and criminalized in the early 20th century when before 1908, there were few restrictions placed on the sale or consumption of narcotics.

For example, tonics, elixirs and cough syrups containing opium were widely available. As well, cocaine was used as an ingredient in hair dressing, wine, children's toothache drops and an obscure soft drink that shall remain nameless.

Did society suddenly discover how dangerous these ingredients were?


One theory as to why all this happened is that the anti-drug campaign was motivated by a highly racialized drug panic. Chinese-Canadians were said to be the victims of discrimination and to have been disproportionately targeted by enforcement officials. People were resisting the tide of immigration everywhere, and the consequent threat to "Canadian" values.

A more benevolent theory is that the debate about drug addiction was initiated by medical reformers in Victorian Canada.The emergence of anti-narcotic legislation in the early 20th century was not simply thinly-veiled anti-Chinese sentiment. Rather, the motive behind the 1908 Opium Act and its unanimous acceptance by Parliament was initiated by physicians' in their self-prescribed role as protectors of national health.


However, research has looked at the role of opium legislation in the context of the government's need to deal with an increasingly difficult labour situation.

Chinese labour constituted both real and symbolic threats within the British Columbia working class, which was itself being de-skilled and unionized.


The opium laws were a momentous change in criminal law in Canada. The result was the transformation of private drug use into a public problem. The responsibility was put on the heads of Mongolians, in King's terms.

This turned people away from socialism as a solution to labour problems. It also turned them away from seeing the labour crisis as a class issue rather than an ethnic issue.

In the process the role of the state was preserved as legitimate, the Chinese were vilified as a threat and drugs were demonized as the problem.

Did the state intend the crisis to further its legitimation? Probably not.

Did it benefit? Certainly.

Chris McCormick teaches criminology at St. Thomas University. His column on crime and criminal justice appears every second Thursday.



Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Hudson Valley Press, The (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The Hudson Valley Press
Author: George Curry

As one who has written extensively on disparities in the criminal justice system, I am familiar with assorted statistics associated with selective prosecution. The Justice Policy Institute recently released a comprehensive study on the issues of race, poverty, unemployment and selective prosecution within the context of the so-called war on drugs.

The report's conclusion was blunt: "The drug war is primarily being waged against African American citizens of our local jurisdictions, despite solid evidence that they are no more likely than their white counterparts to be engaged in drug use or drug delivery behaviors."

The study is titled, "The Vortex: The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties." It examined detailed data from 198 large counties ( with a population of more than 250,000) that contains 51.2 percent of the U.S. population.


Citing one federal survey, the report noted, "In 2002, there were approximately 14 million white Americans who had used drugs in the previous month, compared to about 2.6 million African Americans who had done so. In other words, there were five times as many whites using drugs as African Americans.

However, our analyses indicate African Americans were admitted to prison for drug offenses at nearly 10 times the rate of whites."

Black youth are also selectively prosecuted.

"According to the Monitoring the Future ( MTF ) survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, African American adolescents have slightly lower illicit drug use than their white counterparts - whether for illicit drug use generally or for use of a wide variety of specific drugs, including crack cocaine...However, in 2003, African Americans youth were arrested for drug abuse violations at nearly twice the rate of whites."


A report from the Justice Policy Institute in 2000 showed that Whites admitted to prison for drug offenses increased by 115 percent between 1986 and 1996. Over that same period, the rate for Blacks increased by 465 percent.


"On average, counties with higher unemployment rates, higher poverty rate, and larger percentages of African American citizens tend to have higher rates of admission to prison for drug offenses," the report stated.

Phillip Beatty, coauthor of the study, said, "Laws - like drug laws - that are violated by a large percentage of the population are particularly prone to selective enforcement. The reason African Americans are so disproportionately impacted may, in part, be related to social policy, the amount spent on law enforcement and judiciary systems, and local drug enforcement practices."




Pubdate: Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Campus, The (UConn, CT Edu)
Copyright: 2008 ThesDaily Campus
Author: Greg Pivarnik

Marijuana has been illegal for a long time. However, unlike with most drugs there has always been a rather distinguished movement to have it legalized. In the American psyche, it lies somewhere between alcohol and everything else. It recent years, doctors and patients touting its medical benefits have brought it back to the forefront, causing some states and cities to either decriminalize it or to allow doctors to prescribe it for medical uses. It is time that the history and reasons for marijuana prohibition be reexamined and hopefully significant and serious debate can be reopened among politicians.

Any intelligent debate, especially in Congress, has been stifled by the knee-jerk reaction to say that it is illegal and it should stay that way. There is some fear marijuana will open a can of worms and "corrupt our youth." However this argument has no firm ground to stand on, especially when upon further examination - marijuana was made illegal without any scientific basis. The passages of the first prohibitive pieces of legislation regarding marijuana, the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act (1932) and the Marihuana Tax Act (1937), were passed based only on racist agendas against minority classes - especially Mexicans - and by overly exaggerated tales of murder and mayhem caused by the drug.

Marijuana legislation began primarily as a regional phenomenon based in southern and western states. For the most part, the legislation was racially motivated. Despite what people may think, Mexican immigration is not a new issue. Today it may be based on nationalism and fairness to the working class, though some may argue otherwise, but in the 1920s and 30s anti-Mexican sentiment was based on blatant racism.


The second leg of marijuana prohibition involved yellow journalism, mainly under the leadership of William Randolph Hearst, the owner of one of the largest newspaper chains in the United States. In many stories, writers often tied marijuana to violent crimes, including rapes and murders, earning its reputation as the "killer weed." Often these reports were unsubstantiated. There was never any scientific proof cited that marijuana caused the violence. Many of the culprits tried to pin their behavior on their marijuana use, claiming it made them crazy. This was good enough for many reporters despite the lack of scientific evidence. This could allow states to rationalize the deportation, imprisonment, and immigration quotas of Mexican workers.


Despite the racial motivations for the first marijuana legislative measures, this not did not stop Congress from passing the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, making marijuana a Schedule I drug ( along with heroin, while cocaine is a Schedule II ). This is not to say Congress was motivated by racial intolerance. However, the previous laws which had their basis in racial prejudice contributed unconsciously to the mindset that marijuana is evil. This mindset has unfortunately lasted in the psyches of people to this day, who refuse to look at marijuana legislation with an open mind. However, since marijuana is illegal, it will be very hard to overturn such a law. Alcohol prohibition lasted 13 years, and was repealed after an exhausting fight. Despite this pitfall, any laws that have a historical basis in racial prejudice need to be reexamined and reevaluated.

Weekly columnist Greg Pivarnik is an 8th-semester molecular and cell biology major. His columns run on Tuesdays.



Pubdate: Sat, 16 Feb 2008
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Edition: New Jersey
Copyright: 2008 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc

A Weapon Against HIV

New Jersey finally has needle-exchange programs in Camden, Paterson and Atlantic City. That's good news in the fight to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS by drug addicts.

The move was long overdue in New Jersey, which was the last state to accept such programs. Gov. Corzine signed legislation in 2006 allowing needle exchange in at least six cities.

Now, the state needs to provide some funding to keep the fledging effort afloat long-term and proceed quickly with plans to start programs in other key cities.


Experts estimate the injection of illegal drugs is responsible for a third of new HIV cases nationally. An estimated one million people in the United States inject drugs, and fewer than 20 percent use needle exchange, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, which wants to repeal the federal funding ban. Many among the remaining 80 percent are sharing needles.

New Jersey ranks fifth nationally in AIDS cases, with 48,431 cumulative cases reported in 2005 and injection drug users accounting for half of the cases.


Critics say needle exchange sends the wrong message to addicts and promotes illegal drug use. They believe any additional funding should be used for treatment programs to help them kick the habit.

But needle exchange has merit, too, and should be given a chance. The programs have tremendous health benefits for those who would otherwise use contaminated syringes. Needle exchange could save millions in medical costs and save lives.


While New Jersey was last in legalizing needle-exchange programs, it has finally done the right thing by starting three in a short time. Now the state needs to make sure the programs get the financial support they need to make a difference.



Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Source: Waco Tribune-Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2008 Waco-Tribune Herald

Bill Day, a 73-year-old lay chaplain, may be thrown into jail for his efforts to reduce suffering on the streets of San Antonio.

Only in Texas, according to a news story by Los Angeles Times staff writer Miguel Bustillo, could Day be prosecuted for breaking the law.

Texas needs to join the 21st century and support Day in his efforts to reduce suffering and save tax dollars.

Day's offense stems from a needle-exchange program launched by his nonprofit group, the Bexar Area Harm Reduction Coalition.

Day was arrested on drug paraphernalia charges when a San Antonio police officer spotted him exchanging syringes with prostitutes and junkies on a seedy Alamo City street.


In 1998, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said, "There is conclusive scientific evidence that syringe-exchange programs, as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention that reduces transmission of HIV and does not encourage the illegal use of drugs."

But lawmakers signalled that one day Texas could join the rest of the nation during the last legislative session a bill passed permitting a pilot needle-exchange program in San Antonio.

Unfortunately, that pilot program has not been launched.

In the meantime, Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed has said she will prosecute anyone who distributes clean needles to addicts.




A Star-Gazette columnist lightly touches on the problems of using snitches but uses most of his ink attempting to justify it - including an unchallenged comment about drugs driving crime vs. prohibition doing so. Another usual casualty of prohibition is good cops turning bad. A North Carolina case reveals how bad those who have sworn to serve and protect the public can get. Some light continues to shine through as a North Carolina Sheriff publicly states his belief that arresting and locking up addicts is not the answer.

An ironic twist in timing appeared from articles in different UK papers on the same day covering thermal scanning for cannabis gardens. The first parrots officers' praise of the equipment while the second reveals the consequences of "operator error".


Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Star-Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2008sStar-Gazette
Author: Jim Pfiffer

Investigators sometimes rely on confidential informants to help nail down a case.

To catch a thief, use a thief.

That axiom is especially true in busting drug dealers. Use a drug user to bring down a dealer. Cast a minnow to hook the big fish.

Those minnows are confidential informants -- CI's in police talk.


"Drugs drive the criminal justice system," says Richard W. Rich Jr., the Chemung County Public Advocate who has represented hundreds of drug defendants. "Other crimes, like burglaries, robberies and petit larcenies, are done to get money to buy drugs or for the drug dealers to exist."


Often, police develop and nurture potential informants.

"Let's say you pull a guy over for speeding, and you know he's running around with some bad guys you're investigating," says O'Brien, owner of O'Brien Private Investigations in Horseheads. "You give him a break. You give him a scolding and let him go, but you do it with the understanding that he will come through with some confidential information for you in the future on a felony."

Some people may disagree with cutting a criminal a break. If someone does the crime, he does the time. But police say the end justifies the means.

Reliable informants save time and money, and more importantly, they are often the best way to get an airtight conviction against drug dealers, say cops and lawyers.

Police know that using informants is a delicate give-and-take situation that can go bad faster than a speeding bullet.


That's why the cops don't tell informants much of anything. If they do, it's to test the informant.

"Sometimes we ask them to get us information we already know to see if what they come back with and tell us is true," says Field, who worked more than 150 drug cases involving CI's. "It takes a lot of police investigation work to make sure an informant is reliable."




Pubdate: Fri, 15 Feb 2008
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Fayetteville Observer
Author: John Fuquay

RALEIGH - Former Robeson County deputy Vincent Sinclair spit on a State Bureau of Investigation agent Thursday while being led out of court after his federal sentencing to more than 34 years in prison for posing as an on-duty officer and terrorizing drug dealers.

Earlier in the hearing, Sinclair, 45, accused the agent and two assistant U.S. attorneys of lying. Minutes later, he threatened them.

"It might not be today, but somebody is going to trip you up, and you're going to get it," Sinclair said during an animated argument that U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle allowed for several minutes.


Sinclair was implicated in 2006 in Operation Tarnished Badge, a corruption investigation into the Robeson County Sheriff's Office. He pleaded guilty last year to kidnapping and armed robbery charges, most of which stemmed from an incident involving two drug dealers who were kidnapped in Virginia in an attempt to steal between $300,000 and $400,000 that was believed to have been hidden in their van.


Sinclair denied having a major role in the kidnapping and robberies, countering the government's claim that he was one of the leaders.

"They can cover it up, but that's not going to stop what's happening. What's happening outside this courtroom is wrong. ... This man right here is a liar, and this man here is an even bigger liar," he said, pointing to prosecutors and Francisco. "I don't know how you go home and sleep at night."

Boyle threatened to sentence Sinclair without further proceedings unless Sinclair adhered to court decorum. After a short break, Sinclair apologized, saying, "I just got a little out of hand. I got upset."


Francisco said Sinclair and former deputy Patrick Ferguson accompanied three other men to Virginia Beach, Va., on a drug dealer's tip that another dealer had between $300,000 and $400,000 hidden in a van. Sinclair and Ferguson used their Robeson County badges to kidnap two drug dealers and brought them back to North Carolina. The dealers were bound with duct tape and beaten. One was shot in the leg.

Francisco said Sinclair admitted to the kidnapping when he was arrested on state charges May, 11, 2005.

In another robbery, Sinclair and Ferguson were among a group that beat and terrorized another drug dealer to steal his money. Francisco said Sinclair repeatedly cocked and dry fired his pistol with the muzzle against the man's head. They stole $150,000 and two kilograms of cocaine from the dealer, Francisco said.

In still another incident, Francisco said Sinclair used lighter fluid to burn a man's arm - then put the flame out and then lit it again - in an attempt to force the man to reveal a stash of money. The man was a laborer with no connection to drugs.


Boyle had just left the courtroom when Sinclair, in handcuffs and ankle chains led by U.S. marshals, glared at Francisco. As Sinclair passed Francisco, he lunged toward the agent and spit, hitting Francisco's suit coat lapel. Marshals mobbed Sinclair and whisked him through the courtroom's side door.




Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Smoky Mountain News (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Smoky Mountain News
Author: Julia Merchant

The beautiful mountain scenery that covers Swain County hides an ugly truth -- the area is combating a major drug problem, and officials aren't quite sure how to stop it.

Sheriff Curtis Cochran first expressed his concern to county commissioners in January when he finished compiling his department's 2007 statistics. His findings: a startling one in three arrests made last year were for drug charges.

"Any time a third of your total arrests are for one item, that's high," Cochran said.

The major culprit is methamphetamine. The stimulant has been a problem in Swain and many areas of Western North Carolina for several years. Thanks in part to legislation that put medicines in the meth manufacturing process behind the counters at drug and grocery stores, only one meth lab was busted in the county in 2007. Manufacturing of the drug is way down, but possession and use aren't, Cochran said.


The sheriff admits he's stumped as to what the solution is. With only two officers on the county roads at any given time, Cochran doesn't have the manpower he needs to fight the problem. But it's more than that, he says.

"Incarcerating them and keeping them in for 70 to 80 months and turning them back on the street is not the answer. There's going to have to be treatment and education. A lot of these people probably are not going to have a high school diploma -- they need some job skills," Cochran said.




Pubdate: Sat, 16 Feb 2008
Source: News, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008, The News
Author: Adam Kula

POLICE are using heat-seeking cameras strapped to aircraft in a bid to spot drug factories.

The thermal imaging technology is used to hone in on unusual concentrations of heat, allowing the police to spot likely locations of suspicious hydroponic growing equipment - powerful bulbs which can run at between 400 and 5,000 watts.

Hampshire's Boxer aircraft is fitted with heat-sensitive equipment, which police confirmed is used in Hampshire as a weapon in cornering drugs gangs.

Milne Rowntree, a policeman with 26 years' experience, said it was a valuable tool in the police's arsenal.


The news comes a day after police stormed a drugs factory in Portsmouth.


Police would not confirm whether the spotter plane was used to spot this factory.




Pubdate: Sat, 16 Feb 2008
Source: Liverpool Echo (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Limited
Author: Luke Traynor

A MUM-TO-BE today told how police smashed their way into her Merseyside home -- expecting to find a cannabis farm.

Cops swooped at the house in Green Gates, Huyton, on Tuesday while seven-months-pregnant Nicola King and her boyfriend were asleep in bed.

It appears sophisticated computer equipment aboard the force helicopter detected an unusual heat source coming from the roof of the house.

But a quick search of the property revealed it was coming from an uninsulated boiler located in the loft.

Today Merseyside Police apologised to the couple for any distress caused by the early morning drama.




Researchers in Toronto have discovered a correlation between cannabis consumption and mental acuity in a small sample of MS patients. They concede the findings are preliminary and not evidence of causation and, of course, more research of this nature should be generously funded.

A medicinal cannabis user has been granted a hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, claiming he was discriminated against because of his disability after he was barred from Gator Ted's Tap and Grill in Burlington for smoking cannabis by the restaurant's front door. Meanwhile, British authorities seem to be taking shutting down a singularly resilient cannabis-friendly cafe personally.

Barack Obama may have been boasting when he confessed to smoking cannabis, and inhaling ('That was the point.'), more than once in his reckless youth. Good thing he didn't get caught. Hope and audacity can't erase a criminal record.


Pubdate: Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Gleaner (CN NK)
Copyright: 2008 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Sheryl Ubelacker

TORONTO - Some people with multiple sclerosis have turned to street marijuana in a bid to ease pain and other symptoms of the disabling neurological disorder, but new research suggests smoking pot may further harm already vulnerable cognitive abilities.

The study compared mental skills and emotional status of MS patients who smoked cannabis for symptom relief against others with the disease who did not use the illicit street drug.

"We found that the individuals who smoked cannabis performed more poorly on the tests that measured the speed of thinking, speed of cognition, speed of information processing," said co-investigator Dr. Anthony Feinstein.

"So they were not as quick when it came to their thinking."

Feinstein, a neuropsychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said study subjects who partook of the weed were about 50- per-cent slower on average in cognitive tests than non-marijuana users.

"We also found that the group that smoked cannabis had a higher lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in general," he said, referring to depression, anxiety and other mood alterations.

"Now we don't know whether it was the cannabis that led to this disorder or the disorder was there before they smoked cannabis, so we couldn't really attribute the direction of that relationship. It was just an association."


While pot users scored more poorly compared to non-users, Feinstein conceded the researchers don't know for sure that it was the cannabis and not the natural progression of MS behind the toking patients' reduced mental acuity.

"I don't think you can have any definitive result on the basis of 10 subjects. It's just an interesting observation," he acknowledged.




Pubdate: Sun, 17 Feb 2008
Source: Burlington Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Burlington Post
Author: Tim Whitnell

Garth Turner pleased with health minister's reply to recent letter

Halton's Member of Parliament has convinced Canada's health minister to re-examine the use of medical marijuana in public places following recent news reports of a Burlington bar owner being taken to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by a former patron.

Garth Turner, Liberal MP for the riding of Halton, which includes parts of north Burlington and Oakville, told the Post last Thursday he received a response to a Feb. 11 letter he sent to federal health minister Tony Clement.

"Under the current regulations there are no limits on where the medical practitioner can utilize the prescribed (marijuana) medication, an oversight which has led to unfortunate consequences in my riding and, I am sure, in other jurisdictions of Canada," Turner wrote, in his letter to Clement.

"This is a matter that must be addressed, as it affects the health of Canadians who have no wish to be exposed to marijuana, or second-hand smoke.

"Numerous jurisdictions around the world have legalized medical marijuana and many of them have also regulated where it can be used. It is time for Canada to follow their example and implement crystal clear and enforceable restrictions on the use of medical marijuana in public spaces," Turner's letter concluded.

The MP said he is siding with Ted Kindos, the longtime owner of Gator Ted's restaurant/bar on Guelph Line. Kindos is awaiting a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing in May, following failed Ontario Human Rights Commission mediation talks in the wake of claims of discrimination by former longtime customer Steve Gibson.

Gibson, 42, a local resident who has a federal licence to smoke medical marijuana for a job-related neck injury in 1989, believes he was unfairly treated by Kindos three years ago when he was first asked to stay further away from the bar's entrance than regular cigarette smokers, and later told by Kindos not to smoke his legal pot anywhere near the Gator Ted's property.

Kindos, 42, counters that bar patrons had complained about the marijuana smoke.

Gibson contends that he should have been able to light up his legal weed and stand in the same area where tobacco smokers congregate, which he says is often within 10 feet of the bar's entrance. He has said he's never asked or demanded to be allowed to smoke inside Gator Ted's and that he is not seeking such treatment through his human rights case.


"The point is, nobody should be exposed to second-hand smoke. The bar owner has got to have some assurance that some guy's not going to come into his bar under the influence of drugs as that endangers his liquor licence. That's why we need restrictions on this federal law. If he (Gibson) has to do it (smoke marijuana) in a private place, then that's not going to be a sidewalk," he added.

Turner said that if Clement stalls on making changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which regulates marijuana use, he will introduce a motion in Parliament asking for a limit on the use of medical marijuana "to private residences and other designated locations."




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Feb 2008
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Miles Godfrey

When police tried to smash their way into Britain's most fortified cannabis cafe for a fifth time on Thursday, nobody really expected it to be closed down. Why would they?

During previous raids, only five arrests had ever been made, resulting in no prosecutions and only trace amounts of cannabis being recovered.

There is a tiny room on the first floor of the Lancing cannabis cafe which is crucial to its existence.

The fortifications around the building, in a slip road off Freshbrook Road, include protective tyres, a high-tech CCTV system and heavy steel doors making it look like a nuclear bunker.

But it is the 10ft by 10ft room upstairs which is its nerve centre. The only items in this room, which is protected by a steel door, is a small incinerator, a bottle of oxygen and a gas mask.

Every time the police raid the cafe - and on each occasion it has taken at least ten minutes to get past the fortifications - a substantial plume of smoke has been seen coming from the chimney which is connected to the incinerator.

Once inside, officers have only ever found tiny quantities of cannabis. Only five arrests have ever been made during the raids - and no prosecutions. The raids have cost thousands of pounds and used up many, many man hours.

But the situation has resulted in a stand-off between the police and the cafe's owners worthy of a scene from a spaghetti western.

And while there are many who believe the raids should stop, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton is not one of them. He is calling for new police powers to ensure officers can close cannabis cafes.




Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: New Yorker Magazine (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The Conde Nast Publications Inc.
Author: Hendrik Hertzberg

A few days before Senator Barack Obama swept the Democratic primaries in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, people across the country, picking up their favorite newspaper, were greeted with the following headline:


In any event, that's what some readers thought they read. On second glance, they realized their mistake. The headline actually said this:


Maybe, though, the mistake wasn't just the readers', especially the bleary-eyed among them who hadn't yet had their morning coffee. After all, it wasn't exactly news that "drugs" had played a part (and only a "bit part" at that) in the adolescence of the junior senator from Illinois. That particular factoid had been on the public record for more than twelve years. And if it wasn't news, what was it doing on the front page of the New York Times?

The big news, or bit news, about Obama and drugs had been broken by the future Presidential candidate himself, in "Dreams from My Father," published in 1995, when he was thirty-three years old. In "Dreams," Obama treats his teen-age chemical indulgences the way he treats pretty much everything else in his coming-of-age story: subtly, with impressive emotional acuity, against a richly drawn personal, cultural, and social background. Ripped from their context like the heart of an Aztec sacrifice, the facts Obama presents are these: He smoked pot during his last couple of years of high school, in Hawaii, and his first couple of years of college, at Occidental, in California. Once in a while, he treated himself to "a little blow." After his sophomore year, he transferred east, to Columbia, where he took up running (three miles a day), stopped hanging out in bars, and started keeping a journal. Also, he writes, "I quit getting high." That's about all. Substance,! apparently, became more interesting to him than substance abuse.

But it's not as if the Times' nearly two thousand words had nothing to add to this. "Mr. Obama's account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others," the paper's story teases, as if promising scandal. Is a Perry Mason moment at hand? Not really:

In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.

The news here is--what, exactly? That Obama, who now appears grounded, motivated, and poised, formerly appeared grounded, motivated, and poised? That his inner uncertainties, such as they were, were more apparent to himself than to others? That he was marginally less of a pothead than he has made himself out to be?




Dubai is in the news again this week as another hapless professional is caught unawares and facing a mandatory minimum of four years jail in the oil-rich gulf emirate after uber-sensitive Dubai officials accused the man (U.K. TV executive Cat Le-Huy) of possessing 0.03 grams of hashish "an amount so small it can't be seen by the naked eye."

To sell Plan Colombia, the U.S. Congress was assured that corruption and human rights issues would not be a problem. But the abuses continue. Last week, an army colonel and 14 soldiers were convicted of the 2006 killings of 10 "elite, U.S.-trained counter- narcotics police".

In Ireland, as elsewhere, drug users are jailed - ostensibly to keep them away from soul-destroying narcotics. But the truth of the matter is far different as we learn that in prison after prison, hard drugs are more available inside many prisons than outside.

Authorities in Tel Aviv, Israel are mulling a plan to simply give heroin to addicts there in a bid to prevent "the social damage caused by addicts trying to obtain money to buy the illicit drugs." Expect criticism from moralizing prohibitionists in the U.S. who would rather heap on and increase the harms of drugs, rather than try to reduce them.

The "Beyond 2008 Regional Consultation for Australasia" conference begins this week in Wellington, New Zealand. Participants hope to emphasize alternatives to drug prohibition and prison.


Pubdate: Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Source: Hampstead And Highgate Express, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Archant Regional

Hampstead TV executive Cat Le-Huy is facing four years in a Dubai jail after hashish weighing less than a grain of sugar was found in his bag.

Friends and family have been told this week by the Dubai authorities that the Garnett Road businessman faces being imprisoned after a microscopic trace of the drug was found in dirt in his bag.

Mr Le-Huy, head of technology at Endemol, makers of big Brother, has been held for three weeks without charge after flying into the United Arab Emirates on January 26.

At first customs authorities said he was being held for carrying suspicious jet leg pills, but they now allege finding 0.03grammes of hashish - an amount so small it can't be seen by the naked eye.




Pubdate: Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Kraul Los, Angeles Times Staff Writer

They're Found to Have Slaughtered 10 Police Officers on the Orders of Drug Traffickers in May 2006.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- A Colombian army colonel and 14 soldiers were convicted Monday of killing members of an elite, U.S.-trained counter- narcotics police squad on the orders of drug traffickers, one of the most sordid of several recent cases of alleged corruption in the armed forces.

A judge in Cali found Col. Bayron Carvajal and the soldiers guilty of aggravated homicide in the slaughter of 10 police officers and an informant in a May 2006 ambush outside a rural nursing home near Cali. Sentences will be imposed in two weeks.




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Feb 2008
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2008 The Irish Times

Inmates in the Republic's prisons have tested positive for drugs 40,000 times over the past three years, according to figures obtained by The Irish Times. Detection rates are as high as 75 per cent in some jails.

The results were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. They represent the first published evidence of the extent of the prison drug problem and will prove embarrassing for the Government.




Pubdate: Sun, 17 Feb 2008
Source: Jerusalem Post (Israel)
Copyright: 2008 The Jerusalem Post
Author: Miriam Bulwar David-Hay

Tel Aviv has come up with a controversial new plan to give free heroin to addicts who have failed rehabilitation attempts, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. City health and welfare officials are putting together the revolutionary plan, which is aimed at preventing the social damage caused by addicts trying to obtain money to buy the illicit drugs.

According to the report, four out of every five heroin addicts who complete rehabilitation programs eventually end up back on the drug, and three out of every four property crimes are committed by drug addicts. The city's welfare service has decided to follow the example of some European countries and has come up with a plan to provide controlled quantities of heroin free to adult addicts who have failed several rehabilitation attempts. The distribution would be done at a specific medical clinic under the supervision of doctors. The plan will need to come before the Health Ministry for approval before it can go ahead.




Pubdate: Mon, 18 Feb 2008
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 New Zealand Herald
Author: David Eames


At the Beyond 2008 Regional Consultation for Australasia, delegates from community organisations meet to discuss alternative answers to the drug problem.


National Addictions Centre director Doug Sellman said it was time a more "rational" approach was taken to drug legislation, by "thinking about all drugs in general", including the legal ones such as alcohol and tobacco.

Mr Sellman told the Weekend Herald he wanted to see two major changes in drug legislation: an expanding of the drug scale from justice system-run class A, B and C to a health-based scale that included classes D, E and F.

Such a reclassification would include all drugs, graded from "very high" public health risk, to "very low", he said.

The war on drugs had failed, and Mr Sellman said he now wanted to see law makers try to "tame" drug use.

Simply "declaring war" on drugs only made the problem "wilder".


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Vancouver, Canada is often called one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. But it is also home to the highest HIV rate in the western world. And the city is supporting a controversial measure that allows for a safe place to inject drugs and, they hope, lower the risk of AIDS transmission.

The Vancouver segment begins at about 17:00 mins in.


What the senator's pot smoking should have taught him about drug policy

By Jacob Sullum


A Good Anti-Drug Strategy Would Result in the Reduction of Violence, but in Mexico, Just the Opposite is Happening

By Erich Moncada


The event was hosted by The International Hempology 101 Society and the UVSS Hempology 101 Club. Speakers included Chris Bennett, Dr. Paul Hornby, Jim Byron, and attorney Kirk Tousaw.


Dr. John P. Morgan, a drug policy reform leader and close friend to DPA, died suddenly last Friday of acute myeloid leukemia. Morgan was a professor of pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School for 26 years until he retired in 2004, and published widely in medical journals on pharmacology, drug toxicity and other topics.


by Jodie Emery


By Loretta Nall

Yesterday, I was invited to attend the Birmingham Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society luncheon and panel discussion. The topic of the panel discussion was "Is Drug Court a Good Idea?"


Cultural Baggage Radio Show- 02/20/08 - Mark Bennett

LEAP speaker Dean Becker interviews Mark Bennett, incoming head of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association regarding the DA scandal, the jail scandal, the decades long and ineffective waging of the drug war.


By Steve Rolles, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

I attended the ACMD cannabis classification hearings on February 5th. It was comprehensive to the point of tedium; I was there for the whole occasionally interesting but generally rather miserable day and if there is a condition called power point induced psychosis, I was in danger of suffering it by nightfall. It was also in the grisly Excel conference center in the middle of nowhere, a magnificent 25 tube stops from my house.



In a new report released this week by the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB - a quasi judicial body set up within the UN drug control agencies to 'police' the UN drug conventions) comes in for some heavy criticism for being overly secretive, closed to external dialogue with civil society, and out of kilter with similar agencies in other UN programmes.



A memorial service for Dr. Morgan will be held at 2:00pm, Saturday, February 23 at City College on 140th Street and Amsterdam in Manhattan. It will be in the Faculty Dining Hall in the North Academic Center at Amsterdam and 138th street. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in his name be made to support Stem Cell or Multiple Sclerosis research at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Call the hospital's Development Office at (212) 659-8500 or use their online gift form at



By Peter Guither

Judy Guenseth's guest column "Dangers, costs of legalizing marijuana too great" is disappointing and a bit odd, as it seems to undermine its own arguments. Ms. Guenseth properly notes the concerns regarding drug use by young people, something that prohibition has done nothing to stop ( in fact, any gains in that area can be more properly attributed to reality based education ).

So what does she want? To continue putting the decisions regarding drug safety and age of use in the hands of criminals, while feeding enormous black market profits. Legalizing marijuana doesn't mean giving up control -- in fact, it is exactly the opposite. She said, "Our society is right to prohibit the use of cigarettes and alcohol to underage youth." Yes, and we should do the same with marijuana by regulating it. It would also put the drug dealers out of business and away from kids.

On a separate note, it is disingenuous to equate health costs of cigarette with marijuana use for adults, particularly since the largest study of its kind ( Tashkin, UCLA ) has shown no increased risk of lung cancer from even heavy use of marijuana. Let's stick with the facts and find solutions that really address the problems rather than the heavy-handed sledge hammer of prohibition, which all too often misses the mark entirely.

Peter Guither, Bloomington

Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2008
Source: Galesburg Register-Mail (IL)



By Matthew Robinson

In our book - Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics - my co-author and I found numerous examples of misleading and outright false claims by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the federal agency of accountability in the nation's drug war. Among the many forms of misleading claims are improper presentations of statistics with regard to drug use trends; the (in)effectiveness of several drug war efforts such as market disruption and student drug testing programs; and even the presentation of partial drug war budget data.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) was among the first organization to call ONDCP on its "fuzzy math" in the drug war budget. DPA found that, beginning with the 2003 National Drug Control Strategy, ONDCP removed from the budget those dollars spent on the drug war that did not directly relate to reducing drug use. Somehow, ONDCP reasoned it did not need to include in the drug war budget things like arresting and incarcerating drug offenders! ONDCP explained, in the 2003 Strategy, that "the budget reflects those expenditures aimed at reducing drug use rather than, as in the past, those associated with the consequences of drug use" (p. 6).

Of course, getting arrested and sent to prison for using drugs is not a consequence of drug use, as claimed by ONDCP, but rather is a consequence of the nation's prohibitionist drug policy. Leaving this point aside, it boggles the mind to think that failing to include such spending in the drug war budget makes the budget more useful for policymakers, but that is exactly what ONDCP claims!

The net effect of the changes to drug war budget is the appearance that: 1) we are spending less money on the nation's drug war than we actually are (the drug war budget was magically reduced from more than $19 billion in 2002 to only about $11 billion in 2003); and 2) a higher proportion of drug war spending was going to the more successful demand side efforts of prevention and treatment rather than the less successful supply side efforts of market disruption. Table 2 of the FY 2003 budget summary, contained in the 2002 Strategy, reports that 67% of spending went to supply side measures versus only 33% to demand side measures. Yet, Table 2 of the FY 2003 budget summary, contained in the 2003 Strategy, reports that 53% of spending will go to supply side measures versus 47% to demand side measures!. Get that? Just by changing the budget format, ONDCP magically shrank the amount going to supply side measures from 67% to 53% and grew the amount going to demand side measures from 33% to 47%.

Notice that I wrote "appearance" above, because the fact remains that: 1) taxpayers are still paying billions of additional dollars to fight the drug war (even though it is not shown in ONDCP's budget); and 2) the vast majority of drug war spending is still going to supply side efforts rather than the more effective demand side measures.

Presently, ONDCP is nearing release of its 2008 National Drug Control Strategy, which promises more of the same drug war rhetoric found in past versions. I recently was given access to the FY 2009 drug war budget (not yet released to the public), and funding for supply side measures will grow to 65.2% of total funds, versus only 34.8% for demand side measures. Yet, ONDCP will continue to call the drug war "balanced and compassionate."

This is astounding, because even after ONDCP's budget change, the disparity between supply side and demand side spending has grown rapidly. In FY 2002, supply side spending made up 55.1% of the budget, then grew to 56.6% in FY 2003, 58% in FY 2004, 60.4% in FY 2005, 63% in FY 2006, 63.4% in FY 2007, 64.4% in FY 2008, and ultimately 65.2% in FY 2009. To be clear, this is money spent on the "war" part of the drug war, including law enforcement, interdiction, and international spending.

Unfortunately for ONDCP and our nation, research shows that the most effective and cost-effective drug reduction approaches are demand side approaches such as prevention and treatment. One might then wonder why funding for these demand side measures has fallen from 49.6% in FY 2001 to only 34.8% for FY 2009.

Research very clearly points out that drug treatment works. One might then wonder why funding for drug treatment does not make up a larger portion of the drug war budget (funding for treatment in FY 2009 consists of only 24.1% of funds, and this includes money spent on treatment research)?

Research also shows that well-designed prevention messages reduce drug use among young people. One might then wonder why funding for prevention does not make up a larger portion of the drug war budget (funding for prevention in FY 2009 consists of only 10.7% of funds, and this includes money spent on prevention research)?

When you see the 2008 National Drug Control Strategy, you might also wonder why ONDCP continues to support funding for prevention efforts such as the Department of Education's Student Drug Testing program and ONDCP's Drug-Free Communities and National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, when evidence shows these measures are ineffective?

These are questions ONDCP must answer. After all, this is our drug war and ONDCP works for us.

Matthew Robinson is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He is co-author of Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, State University of New York Press, 2007.


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