This Just In
(1)Column: Get Your Cocaine From Superdrug
(2)'Prince of Pot' Plea Deal Delayed
(3)Lawmaker Lights Up Medical Pot Bill Again
(4)Bipolar Medication Helps Addicts Quit Cannabis

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 6 Mar 2008
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Camilla Cavendish

The Celebrity Glamorisation of Drugs Is Irrelevant. There Would Be Huge Benefits From Legalisation


The most powerful role models are dealers, not celebrities. All over Britain, men in gold jewellery flaunt their wealth at school gates. Teachers tell me how hard it is to convince teenagers to get NVQs, when they can have a career with Drugs Inc and aspire to make UKP1,000 a day. Drugs Inc is one of the most profitable, successful businesses of all time. The UN values it at about $330 billion, almost as big as the defence industry.

The criminals who run Drugs Inc shift staggering amounts of stock with no conventional advertising. They offer free samples to children and discounts for trading up to harder substances. They motivate their salesforce with threats.

As a result, drugs are now the second-largest revenue earner for organised crime.

The profit margins, according to the Downing Street Strategy Unit, are higher than those on luxury goods. Drugs Inc pays no tax. And with so much money at stake, its barons are vicious.


The only way to take back our streets is to wrest back control of the drugs from the criminals, by legalising and regulating their trade.


Annual deaths from drug use (about 2,000) are still minuscule compared with those related to alcohol and tobacco (about 160,000). These figures are not precise, because some people abuse all three.

But it is arguable that the violence associated with the illegal drugs trade does more harm than the drugs themselves.

The irony is that it is the UN and its drug conventions that are the biggest barrier to progress. Its ideological war on drugs makes it almost impossible for countries to be pragmatic. It has demanded that Portugal, which decriminalised possession, should recant.

Yet Portugal has accepted the reality that in GDP terms, it is dwarfed by Drugs Inc. As a result, it has seen crime fall.

The only way to make our streets safe is to wipe Drugs Inc off the map. The only way to do that is to legalise the trade.

That would also redraw the map, because drug lords from Colombia to Afghanistan would no longer find the trade so lucrative. The UN's blindness to this is unforgivable: even worse than its failure to understand that Amy Winehouse, despite her beautiful voice, is the perfect health warning.



Pubdate: Thu, 6 Mar 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Steve Mertl, Canadian Press

Marijuana crusader Marc Emery is blaming a clash of judicial cultures for delays in a plea bargain that would send him to prison briefly in the United States before serving several years in Canada. The so-called Prince of Pot's extradition case was put over yesterday until April 9 at the request of his lawyer and a federal prosecutor representing the U.S. Justice Department.

No reason was given but Mr. Emery said outside B.C. Supreme Court that there's a disagreement about the legality of the deal in Canada.

Mr. Emery said that in the U.S. system a non-violent first-time offender like him would normally be released in about 20 months, but American authorities refuse to accept that.

He said the U.S. wants a Canadian judge to be bound by the agreement for a minimum prison sentence, he said.

"What's at stake is the Canadian prosecutorial service doesn't think that it's possible to make a deal where a Canadian judge is compelled to do something specific, like put me in jail for a minimum length of time or set some kind of parole date," he said.

"The Canadian government says that's not legal in Canada and that's what they've told the U.S. prosecution and so the Justice Department in the United States is saying that our deal's not possible - that they have to actually put in writing - because the Canadians aren't playing ball, so to speak."

The Vancouver-based pot-legalization advocate and co-accused Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey are charged in the U.S. with selling marijuana seeds over the Internet.

A plea bargain was in the works that would see charges dropped against Mr. Williams and Ms. Rainey, while Mr. Emery would plead guilty and receive a prison sentence.


Mr. Emery said he finds the whole process odd.

"The Canadian government could just have me charged and that would lay the matter to rest and they wouldn't have to be concerned because some judge would come to a determination as to whether I should be incarcerated," he said.

"This to me is more like collaboration with the United States. It's like outsourcing our justice system to the United States.




Pubdate: Thu, 6 Mar 2008
Source: Times, The (Ottawa, IL)
Copyright: 2008 The Times, LLC
Author: Stephanie Sievers

Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton is making another run at legislation that would make it easier for the seriously ill to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"This is about the patients. It's not about somebody abusing this law to illegally obtain marijuana," said Cullerton, D-Chicago.

A Senate committee on Wednesday approved the measure that would allow people to obtain a state-issued medical marijuana identification card so they could legally possess and use marijuana.


Lawmakers have debated Cullerton's proposal before and while in year's past he has been able to get it out of committee, he's been short of having the votes needed to be approved by the Senate.

"We expect this is the type of bill which is a long battle," he said. "There's been a number of issues that didn't pass the first time and we keep coming back until people figure out and believe what we're saying."


 (4) Bipolar Medication Helps Addicts Quit Cannabis  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 7 Mar 2008
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Kate Benson, Medical Reporter

A COMMON medication used to treat people with bipolar disorder could help cannabis addicts kick the habit without suffering withdrawal symptoms such as aggression and depression, a study has found.

Researchers at Corella Drug Treatment Services and the University of NSW studied 20 people who used cannabis every day for at least nine years, prescribing them 500 milligrams of lithium twice a day for seven days. They found that three months after the treatment most of the users were smoking cannabis less often, and many had given up completely.

Cannabis is the most commonly abused illicit drug in Australia, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre estimates that one in 10 people who try it will become addicted.

Heavy users who try to give up usually experience marked disturbances in mood, sleep and hostility, which can cause them to relapse, making recovery more difficult, but the chief investigator of the study, Adam Winstock, said yesterday that the possibility of finding an effective treatment to manage withdrawal was exciting. "This was a very small trial, and it was carried out in hospital with people who were highly motivated and did not have mental health problems or used other drugs, so it had its limitations, but I'm hoping the results can be matched in a controlled trial next year because we were very impressed with the outcome." Dr Winstock said.

All the participants reported they had been abstinent for an average of 88 per cent of the days since their treatment, and 29 per cent had not used cannabis at all. Studies in rats had shown they experienced an increase in levels of the hormone oxytocin when given lithium during withdrawal from cannabis. Oxytocin is dubbed the "happy hormone" and is released during lactation, orgasm, childbirth, hugging and touching and can produce feelings of wellbeing.





New Jersey's needle exchange programs are providing services, but some are better funded than others.

Boise Weekly has an interesting interview with the sponsor of a series of initiatives to liberalize cannabis laws in Idaho towns, including the sponsor's contention that he's not really that concerned about cannabis.

And, another state legislature is getting its collective undies in a bunch over salvia divinorum. At least in California, they are considering just banning it for minors, not everyone.


Pubdate: Mon, 03 Mar 2008
Source: Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 South Jersey Publishing Co.
Author: Michael Clark

ATLANTIC CITY - It's hard to imagine things could be any worse for Tommy Fagan.

The 25-year-old has been shooting heroin since he was 14, starting by secretly pinching the dope from his addict mother. His 11-year relationship with heroin has left him homeless, and in 2004 he tested positive for Hepatitis C, a disease he says he acquired because of his tendency to share syringes.

"I could be worse off right now," Fagan says with his face in this hands, trying to quell a headache resulting from his head being cut open by a box-cutter during a recent altercation. "I could be dying from AIDS."

Instead, Fagan learned last week he tested negative for HIV during a routine visit to the city's needle-exchange program. He says the clean needles he gets have prevented him from contracting the deadly disease or sickening others.

Fagan is one of more than 200 heroin users enrolled in the city's pilot program since its inception in November. The program, located on the second floor of the Oasis Drop-In Center, was the state's first legal exchange and appears to be its only successful program.

In just three months, the city's program has registered 204 users and sees about eight clients per day, according to recent statistics provided by the city Health Department.




Pubdate: Sun, 02 Mar 2008
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Asbury Park Press
Authors: Leo Strupczewski, and William H. Sokolic

It Is A Weekly Ritual.

Every Tuesday between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., drug users looking for clean needles and impromptu counseling trickle down to Camden's needle exchange program, buried in the shadows of Interstate 676 and the city's port terminals.

But, so far, turnout has been low and funding is scarce.

That pales in comparison to the state's first program, which began at an Atlantic City outreach center with public funding and now boasts a crowd of clients.

About 10 drug users were registered with the Camden program as of Feb. 12, when Kim McCargo and a number of other workers stood in the cold sipping coffee and waiting for new and returning clients.

Their blue van -- the one that houses the needles and provides some shelter from the elements -- was in the shop. A dead battery had rendered it useless.

On this day, McCargo, the program's director, and others stood by their cars. Needles and other drug paraphernalia were stored in their trunks.

"Our services are our services," said McCargo, of the program run by the Camden Area Health Education Center. "We don't have anything else to attract."




Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2008
Source: Boise Weekly (ID)
Copyright: 2008 Boise Weekly
Author: Deanna Darr

Boise Man Champions Marijuana Laws In Blaine County

For the last four years, one Boise resident has turned Blaine County into a lawsuit-fueled marijuana battleground.

Ryan Davidson has been a thorn in the side of city officials in Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey since he began his campaign to legalize marijuana in one of Idaho's Democratic strongholds. It started with the 30-year-old's desire to make politics a career and a chance discovery of the Marijuana Policy Project's grant program.

He was awarded a $60,000 grant, but less than a month later, the group pulled his funding after giving him only $16,000.

Still, in the last four years, he took all three cities to court numerous times, managed to get four pro-marijuana initiatives on the ballot-three of which were passed by voters last year-and is now threatening to put all four initiatives back on the May primary ballot in an effort to force city officials to enact them.

The fact that the initiatives violate both state and federal law hasn't seemed to faze him. In fact, he's preparing for another round of lawsuits under the auspices of the Idaho Liberty Lobby, his one-man Libertarian juggernaut.

It seems an unlikely path for a Canadian native who didn't move to the United States until 1995. But his largely self-funded fight is far from typical-especially considering Davidson doesn't smoke marijuana himself, doesn't seem to care all that much about it, and had never been to the Wood River Valley before starting his campaign.

It's the principle he said he's fighting for. He has lost several major lawsuits, had damages slapped on him by a Blaine County District Court for filing a frivolous lawsuit, and nearly pushed himself into bankruptcy, but one Idaho Supreme Court victory allowed him to get his initiatives passed.

Now, as the City of Ketchum is threatening to sue itself over the legality of those initiatives, Davidson sat down with BW to offer some insight into his thought process.

BW: What got you involved in these issues in the first place?

Ryan Davidson: I thought it had the potential to be a good career for a while-at least for the next couple years-going from city to city doing local ballot initiatives, sort of paving the way to do a state initiative some time in the future.

BW: What went wrong?

RD: ,Well, we handed in the preliminary petition to all three cities, and all three cities refused to process it, surprisingly, because their own city code [and] state code says you hand the clerk a petition, they certify it, they hand it back to you. There's nothing in there that they can look at the substance of the petition.

BW: What did you do?

RD: I basically filed lawsuits against all three cities ... I knew no attorney would take this case, we had no money, we were broke, we were stranded up there ... so it's like, "I'm going to do it myself." [I] didn't know what I was doing, I had never filed a lawsuit against anyone before. [I] played around in traffic court quite a bit, but that's a different thing. So, I filed a lawsuit against Ketchum in Idaho Supreme Court, I filed a lawsuit against Sun Valley in the local District Court, and then I filed a lawsuit against Hailey in the federal court under the Civil Rights Act. I kind of figured, three different courts, one of them is bound to pay off.

BW: Why did you take it this far?

RD: I did this not for marijuana, I did this for the initiatives process . For me, as an initiatives proponent ... I see the harm that befalls initiative sponsors by having to go through litigation before you can even get your initiative on the ballot.

BW: Litigation is like the death of the initiatives process, and if the court or the government makes it so that your opponents can take you to court before you can even get the initiative on the ballot, it kills you, and it means that only people with a lot of money that can survive a legal challenge can ever get an initiative on the ballot. So I just saw that as a huge policy issue that we need to take litigation and this kind of crap out of the initiatives process.

RD: How have you been funding all of this?

BW: Just out of my own pocket. I work a low-paying job at a hospital and I spend a lot of time on these lawsuits ... so I'm just poor.




Pubdate: Sun, 2 Mar 2008
Source: Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Tribune
Author: Jim Sanders

Assembly Bill Would Ban Sales of Hallucinogenic Salvia to Minors; Internet Seller Defends Its Use

SACRAMENTO-California kids legally can tune in, turn on and freak out these days with a potent, mind-altering drug that is readily available but targeted for a crackdown by police and lawmakers. Typically smoked or chewed, Salvia divinorum has become increasingly known on the Internet the past few years through sales on eBay and through YouTube videos of users tripping with it.

The drug is produced from a Mexican plant used by Mazatec Indians for healing and ritual prophecy. Users in the United States have reported effects ranging from relaxation and sensual pleasure to out-of-body experiences and frightening hallucinations.

"This is the first really new illicit drug in a long time," said Dr. John Mendelson, a researcher at California Pacific Medical Center who is preparing to study how much salvia users must consume to become intoxicated.

San Luis Obispo County sheriff's officials said they are not seeing the drug much locally but do believe it is extremely dangerous. About 10 years ago, detectives came across an incident involving a man who was selling salvia through the mail, but they did not remember any other cases involving sales of the drug.




In Alabama, prisoners whose crimes don't involve "moral turpitude" (including minor drug possession) should be able to vote, but that hasn't been happening. An activist is trying to change the situation.

Last week's federal prison report showed a continuing growth in inmate populations. On a more local level, Colorado has seen its prison population triple in 15 years. And, two more stories show disturbing abuses among the ranks of drug law enforcement.


Pubdate: Sun, 2 Mar 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Shaila Dewan

DOTHAN, Ala. -- The Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, onetime criminal and founder of a ministry called The Ordinary People Society, spent years helping people with criminal records regain the right to vote in Alabama, where an estimated 250,000 people are prohibited from voting because of past criminal activity.

Then he discovered that many of them had never actually lost the right.

Because of a quirk in its Constitution, Alabama disqualifies from voting only those who have committed a "felony involving moral turpitude." Those who have committed other felonies -- like marijuana possession or drunken driving -- can cast ballots even if they are still in prison, according to the state attorney general.

But it has been slow work cajoling public officials to enforce and publicize the law. Until Friday, the secretary of state's Web site advised, incorrectly, that those with any kind of felony conviction could not register unless they had served their time and their right to vote had been restored by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Because neither the Legislature nor the attorney general has offered a definitive list of crimes involving moral turpitude, there is no way of knowing how many inmates are eligible to vote. But state agencies generally agree that those convicted of drug possession -- at least 3,000 of Alabama's 29,000 prison inmates and thousands more on probation -- are eligible. Most felons and former felons, however, assume that they have lost the right to vote.

"This is an issue that's never come up before," said Richard F. Allen, the commissioner of corrections. "I would think that if there were any latent feeling out there that they wanted to vote, they would have expressed it by now."

Mr. Glasgow, who is the half-brother of a far less obscure crusader based in New York, the Rev. Al Sharpton, believes that not only do inmates and former convicts want to vote, but also that their ballots could alter the political landscape in this Republican-leaning state, adding that his group has registered more than 500 people by visiting a handful of county jails.




Pubdate: Mon, 03 Mar 2008
Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: Rocky Mountain News
Author: Bill Scanlon

Colorado Spent $599 Million On Corrections In '07

The number of Coloradans in prison has nearly tripled in 15 years, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

The prison population stands at 22,424. That number, plus 9,567 parolees and 13,200 people in county jails, represents more than 1 percent of the state's adult population, according to statistics kept by the Colorado Department of Corrections and County Sheriffs of Colorado.

The Pew Center on the States last week reported that 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 - one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it's more than any other nation.

The study found that 8.8 percent of Colorado's general fund - $599 million - was spent on corrections in 2007, compared with the national average of 6.8 percent. Only Oregon, Florida and Vermont had higher percentages.




Pubdate: Sat, 01 Mar 2008
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Marin Independent Journal
Author: Gary Klien

A drug informant's allegations that a Marin narcotics agent offered her leniency in exchange for three-way sex - and then sent a photo of his penis to her cell phone - have left a legal mess at the Hall of Justice that could take months to clean up.

The claims against former sheriff's Deputy Tyrone Williams have so far led to the dismissal of two criminal cases, defense challenges against three others, and at least one subpoena for Williams to testify.

"It appears that an out-of-control officer assembled a coterie of out-of-control informers and in that way polluted the criminal process," attorney Douglas Horngrad, representing a Novato man charged in a Williams investigation, wrote in a legal motion.




Pubdate: Sun, 02 Mar 2008
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2008 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Brendan J. Lyons

ALBANY-- The cops in the marked patrol car had circled through West Hill a couple times keeping an eye on their female target. They were part of the Street Drug Unit, an aggressive squad assigned to help rid Albany's neighborhoods of drug dealers and addicts blamed for much of the city's problems.

It was early evening and already dark when the patrol car's emergency lights flashed in the rearview mirror of Lisa Shutter's Mitsubishi sedan on Quail Street, just off Central Avenue.

Police records show the officers called out a "Signal 38" to alert a dispatcher they were onto something suspicious and about to pull someone over. They would later write in a report that they had pulled her over for "failure to signal," although no ticket was issued, according to police records shared with the Times Union.

The actions of police in the minutes that followed would end in controversy rather than with an arrest. They would also leave Shutter, a 28-year-old single mother from Ravena, shaken and angry after one of the officers allegedly inserted his finger into Shutter's vagina on a public street during an apparent search for drugs.

When it was over, "I pulled off down the road and I just cried for probably a half hour," Shutter said. "I called my dad. ... I felt like I had been basically raped."

The incident has triggered an ongoing internal affairs investigation by the Albany Police Department.

But the handling of that investigation has raised questions about whether the department has sought to cover up the incident. Shutter claims Burris Beattie, a commander in internal affairs, dissuaded her from reporting the incident to a civilian police oversight board.




Efforts to prohibit alcohol and curtail petrol sniffing in Australian aboriginal communities have once again demonstrated that cannabis, alcohol and other more problematic substances are economic substitutes with cross-price elasticities. What's more, the substitution fad appears to be spreading from young to old.

Police in Michigan, whom you may recall merely enforce the law, offered their expert medical opinions in opposition to an initiative that would regulate possession and personal cultivation for medical purposes.

Police officials in New Hampshire are lobbying against a bill that would decriminalize simple possession. Hopefully Richard Van Wickler of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who supports the bill, brought hand puppets.

A Modesto medicinal cannabis dispensary owner is suing the city for conspiring with the DEA to shut down his very lucrative business.


Pubdate: Tue, 04 Mar 2008
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 West Australian Newspapers Limited

A move from petrol sniffing and alcohol to smoking cannabis is creating a whole new set of problems in remote Aboriginal communities, a new study shows.

The growing use of marijuana has also extended beyond youth to adults, says the report in the Australian Journal of Rural Health, using research from one Arnhem Land community in the Northern Territory.

The growth in cannabis use follows alcohol restrictions imposed by the federal intervention in the territory, and the roll-out of non- sniffable Opal fuel to combat petrol sniffing.

Report authors Dr Kate Senior and Dr Richard Chenhall, from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, said marijuana was smoked at home and often had a more immediate impact on domestic violence and neglect than alcohol.

"The move from alcohol and petrol sniffing to marijuana use has created a new set of problems, many of which arise in the domestic setting, not outside the community," the report said.

"Rather than being a practice confined to distinct sub-populations - as was the case for drinking and sniffing petrol - marijuana use is widespread among both adults and youth."

As a result, Dr Senior said the prohibition of alcohol within the remote Aboriginal community "without any attendant efforts to address underlying social causes" had created a new set of problems.

"The existing marijuana market has grown and its use has extended beyond youths to include adults," she said.




Pubdate: Wed, 5 Mar 2008
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2008 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Author: Lisa Roose-Church, Daily Press & Argus

A proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes does not have the support of Livingston County authorities, who say such action could lead to bigger troubles.

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte said Tuesday that opening the door to legalization of marijuana is "ridiculous."

"It would be a nightmare for law enforcement," he said.

The Board of State Canvassers OK'd petitions Monday to put the issue before state lawmakers. If lawmakers don't approve the measure within 40 days, the proposal will be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide.

That may be the most likely scenario because lawmakers haven't acted on similar legislation introduced in recent years. Capt. John Kowalski of the Howell Police Department said he is not convinced there is any legitimate medical use of marijuana.

"I think the person who uses it may have some psychological 'easement,' but I haven't seen any data that says marijuana has a legitimate use," he said.

The Michigan initiative would allow patients to grow and use small amounts of marijuana for relief from pain associated with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

Under the proposal, a doctor's approval or recommendation would be required to use the drug. Registry cards would be created so police could tell who was a registered patient with an OK to use the drug.


Kowalski and Bezotte agree that it is unnecessary to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes because there already exists approved prescription medications to treat cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

"It's been proven that marijuana leads to other drugs," Bezotte said. "Where is it going to stop? Will we legalize cocaine?"



 (15) GOING TO POT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 2 Mar 2008
Source: Portsmouth Herald (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Seacoast Newspapers
Author: Michael Mccord

N.H. Legislature Debating Decriminalization

Alaska has done it. So has California, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, Mississippi and Maine. A total of 12 states have enacted some version of marijuana decriminalization since 1973 and supporters of a small marijuana reform bill in the New Hampshire Legislature are asking, why not here?

Because, said Rep. Everett Weare, R-Seabrook, "I think you're opening a Pandora's box" of problems and abuse and it "would violate federal policy and federal law."

David Welch, one of Weare's fellow members on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, understands the concerns of decriminalization critics but the Kingston Republican believes it's time to talk - especially about the long-term potential harm to young people caught in the capricious nature of the criminal justice system.

Welch said that "young people do a lot of foolish things" and that a misdemeanor record for possessing a small amount of marijuana can haunt someone for life. They can be banned from scholarships and federal Pell grants - or even from serving as a police officer and in the armed forces.

"It's a debate we need," the 12-term legislator told Seacoast Sunday. "It's about time we had a discussion about marijuana use on the floor of the House."


The bill is strongly opposed by a wide range of law enforcement agencies across the state and state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte because it might condone marijuana use or would be the first step to wider legalization.

Rep. Otto Grote, D-Rye, is opposed to the bill and was not persuaded by the "various long presentations" he saw at the hearings.

But the law enforcement consensus is not unanimous. Rep. John Tholl, R-Whitefield, voted in favor of the bill in subcommittee and he's the police chief of Dalton. And one of the state's most passionate critics against current drug policy is Richard Van Wickler, the superintendent of the Cheshire County Jail.



Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2008
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Modesto Bee
Author: Susan Herendeen

Lawsuit Claims City Conspired With Feds To Drive Out Business

A Modesto man who managed a medical marijuana dispensary on McHenry Avenue is suing the city, saying local authorities conspired with the federal government to shut down a lucrative business that raked in $6 million in less than two years.

Luke Scarmazzo, formerly the treasurer and secretary of California Healthcare Collective, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Stanislaus County Superior Court, seeking compensation for emotional distress, mental anguish and the loss of a job that paid him $13,000 a month.

Scarmazzo said he cooperated with local officials even as the City Council sought to ban pot clubs, turning over business records to show that everything was on the up and up. In return, he said, the city shared information with federal authorities, who shuttered the dispensary after a September 2006 raid.

In his lawsuit, Scarmazzo claims that the city worked in concert with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency so it could close the business without compensating its owners. He wants the city to pay the fair market value of the dispensary at the time it was closed -- $3.8 million.

"This was something that was legal in our state," Scarmazzo said during a recent interview with former business partner Ricardo Montes and defense attorney Robert Forkner.

The lawsuit is an offshoot of a criminal case against Scar-mazzo, Montes and four others who face federal drug trafficking charges and are scheduled for trial April 15 in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Scarmazzo, 27, is free on $400,000 bail. Montes, 27, is free on $250,000 bail.

The dispensary operators said city officials negotiated in bad faith, because they said they wanted to shut the business down after a six- month amortization period, but were collecting information that fueled a federal investigation.




If Canadians thought their laws were made-in-Canada, they received a shock last week when the head of the U.N. drug control board, Philip Emafo, called on Canada to ban Insite, North America's only supervised-injection center. The center, credited for saving lives from accidental overdose, "cannot go on forever," proclaimed Emafo. But Nathan Allen, co-ordinator for the Insite For Community Safety campaign, says Insite is not violating any treaties. "Insite is in compliance, and all it's doing is providing an intake bridge to recovery for users,"

Meanwhile in Canada, Harper's Draconian new supposedly "anti-crime" laws Bill C-26, continued to worm its way through parliament, denounced by criminologists and just about everyone else who doesn't stand to directly gain monetarily from the Bill's passage. As such, police associations, crown attorneys, prison profiteers and other assorted drug war camp followers heartily support the government scheme to pack newly-built for-profit prisons, just like they do in the states. "Most grow-ops are mom and pop operations, and they are generally non-violent. Mom and pop might be scared off by tougher legislation, but organized crime is not dissuaded. If mom and pop go out of business, organized crime will leap into the vacuum, and organized crime is violent and dangerous."

The "latest" drugs scare is dutifully transmitted with the all the speed and efficiency of a modern communications system. However, when the original scare stories turn out to be false, that same modern mainstream media is somehow muffled. Which might explain how a West Oxfordshire U.K. police officer was taken in by a warning of sinister child-corrupting Strawberry Quick Meth. You know, the meth we all read about last year, meth laced with strawberry flavor to make it easier for schoolyard pushers to hook unwary kids? Trouble is, Strawberry Meth is as real as Blue Star' temporary tattoo LSD - another urban myth. The misunderstanding came to light after an Oxfordshire police officer sounded the ill-conceived warning to schools there.

Why did Moses hear God on the mountain? Drugs. Moses was dosing on heavy psychedelic drugs, according to cognitive psychology professor Benny Shanon of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was... an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics." Psychedelic drugs might have accounted for Moses seeing the burning bush. "The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a classic phenomenon."


Pubdate: Wed, 5 Mar 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Steven Edwards, The Ottawa Citizen

UN Body Says Sites 'Enable' Illicit Use; Flout Treaties

UNITED NATIONS - The head of the United Nations drug control board put the federal government on notice yesterday to rein in provincial and other health authorities deemed to be flouting international treaties aimed at combating illicit drug use.

Speaking just ahead of today's release of the board's annual report, Philip Emafo signalled the federal government could do more to make sure all parts of Canada respect the agreements.

In the new report, the International Narcotics Control Board calls on Canada to ban various community-backed programs that enable illicit drug use.

However, health groups running them say the programs aim to help drug abusers kick the habit, or at least not to become any sicker.

They've pushed to keep them operational despite successive the board's calls for them to close.

"It cannot go on forever," Mr. Emafo said from Vienna, where he serves as board president.

"We want the government of Canada to be in compliance with their treaty obligations, but there is an internal problem, and we would urge the government of Canada to sort (it) out."


Specifically mentioned is the "safer crack kit" that the Vancouver Island Health Authority was giving away, while Ottawa and Toronto are listed as cities where similar distribution programs are under way.


However, the report says the kits' distribution contravenes an article in the 1988 UN anti-drug trafficking convention that Canada signed.

The article says governments should not allow trade in drug equipment.

In calling for a ban on drug injection sites, the report is repeating a call made last year that mainly focused on the Vancouver facility Insite, which bills itself as a "clean, safe environment where users can inject their own drugs off the streets."

The board has said the Insite facility contravenes a 1961 treaty signed by Canada. It says countries should pass laws ensuring drugs are used only for medical or scientific purposes.


"It's clear from the legal brief that Insite is in compliance, and all it's doing is providing an intake bridge to recovery for users," said Nathan Allen, co-ordinator for the Insite For Community Safety campaign.



Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Joe Fiorito

Eugene Oscapella is a criminologist who teaches at the University of Ottawa. He dresses like a modern academic hipster: short leather jacket, blue shirt, dark tie, grey strides. He is also a lawyer who is sharp on the subject of drug policy. He was in town recently, speaking to front-line health and harm-reduction workers about the perils of the government's proposed crime legislation.

Let me give you a tip. If Bill C-26 is enacted into law, and you own stock in companies that build jails, you stand to make a killing; prison is about to become a growth industry in Canada.


What does Bill C-26 do?

Among many other things, it provides mandatory minimum sentences of a year in jail for people who deal drugs on behalf of organized crime, or who use weapons or violence; two years minimum for people dealing coke, heroin or meth to kids, or for dealing drugs near schools or other places frequented by kids; and two years minimum for anyone growing at least 500 marijuana plants, with a maximum of 14 years, instead of the current seven.


Speaking of the increase in penalties for running a marijuana grow-op, Oscapella was genial but withering:

"Most grow-ops are mom and pop operations, and they are generally non-violent. Mom and pop might be scared off by tougher legislation, but organized crime is not dissuaded. If mom and pop go out of business, organized crime will leap into the vacuum, and organized crime is violent and dangerous."

In other words, the threat of increased punishment actually makes things worse; call it the law of unintended consequences.

Bill C-26 also adds "aggravating factors" in the consideration of sentencing: among these are whether the crime was committed in a prison. This provoked scorn from Oscapella: "If we can't prevent the sale of drugs in prison, how can we prevent the sale of drugs in open society?"


If it were me, I'd spend millions to provide drug treatment on demand before I spend a lousy nickel on enforcing bad laws.



Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2008
Source: Metro (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Limited

A policeman alerted hundreds of families to the danger-drug Strawberry Meth - despite the fact it does not exist.

Pupils and parents at 80 schools in Oxfordshire were warned of the possible risks of the fruit-flavoured drug, also known as Strawberry Quick, by the unwitting officer.

The spurious alert came after the officer sent an email via a special system connecting police and schools without checking it with colleagues.

The drug, said to contain deadly crystal meth, had apparently been given to children in sweet form by strangers outside school gates, leading to two victims being hospitalised.

But there had never been such an incident, and the officer had forwarded on an email well known for being an Internet hoax.


West Oxfordshire's most senior police officer was forced to apologise over the fiasco.




Pubdate: Wed, 5 Mar 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Agence France-Presse, Reuters

JERUSALEM - High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claims in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the first issue of Time and Mind, a new peer-reviewed British journal.

"As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Prof. Shanon told Israeli public radio yesterday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested the Israeli researcher, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a classic phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see" music.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Does our high incarceration rate represent the right kind of toughness?

By Jacob Sullum


Prohibitions impose huge costs on individuals and society, yet produce few benefits in return.


Disproportionate Application Of Drug Laws Undermines The Conventions, Says Incb

Vienna, 5 March (United Nations Information Service)-The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) today called on Governments to apply the law proportionately when prosecuting drug offenders, as not doing so could undermine efforts to effectively implement the very conventions that these laws seeks to enforce.


By Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen

According to what the media described as "a United Nations report released Wednesday" - more on that description in a moment - the soft treatment of celebrity drug offenders gives young people the impression that drug use is no big thing. Thus, it "could undermine wider social efforts at reducing demand for drugs."


Century of Lies - 03/04/08 - Phil Smith

Phil Smith of discusses empowerment of criminals through the drug laws, plus Al Byrne of Patients Out of Time on the upcoming National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/05/08 - Catherine Austin Fitts

Catherine Austin Fitts, former HUD assistant secretary discusses the economic nightmare of the drug war.


Cocaleros in Bolivia threathen to occupy the installations of the United Nations in the country as well as those of Coca Cola in El Alto in protest against the decision by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to "abolish or prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea," according to the newspaper La Razon.


Host John Mounteer interviews teacher and author Dr. Mitch Earleywine, and discuss his recent book, Parents' Guide to Marijuana



Download and print out a petition calling on your U.S. Senators to support access to materials for FDA-approved medical cannabis research. The goal is to collect 30,000 signatures by April 21st.


Referenced:  ( Top )


By Tony Newman

Kudos to Ms. O'Grady for pointing out some uncomfortable truths that the federal government and many of our elected officials are afraid to admit: The drug war is failing and prohibition has led to thousands of violent deaths in Mexico.

It is shocking to think that more Mexicans died last year due to drug prohibition than did American soldiers in Iraq. There is nothing in the coca or marijuana plant that causes these deaths. Rather, it is prohibition that creates a profit motive that people are willing to kill for. Remember, when alcohol consumption was illegal in this country we had Al Capone and shootouts in the streets. Today, no one dies over the sale of a beer.

It is time for an honest and open international debate about controlling, taxing and regulating illegal drugs so we can find an exit strategy from this unwinnable war.

Tony Newman

Drug Policy Alliance, New York

Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)


Change  ( Top )

By Buford C. Terrell

The word for this political season is "Change." We hear it from the candidates and from the commentators and pundits, but mainly we hear it from the voters. I'm starting to believe them. Change is in the air; and it smells a lot like burning bud.

At the state level, three New England states -- Vermont, Massachusetts, and now New Hampshire -- have some kind of decriminalization bill actively in the legislative process; and the debate is substantive in all of them. Medical marijuana is nearing ballot status as a referendum in Wisconsin and has been introduced into one mid-Atlantic legislature.

In the halls of Congress, the radical restructuring of crack cocaine sentencing, including retroactive application has been accepted and a needle exchange program for the District of Columbia has been approved. At least one bill recognizing state medical marijuana programs will probably be on the agenda for the next term. Perhaps the two reforms of the last session will convince some politicians that they can vote for reform without committing political suicide.

Internationally, Israel is set to begin free distribution of heroin to addicts. Morales of Bolivia and Chavez of Venezuela are both supporting native coca growers.

The American College of Physicians, the largest and most prestigious organization of practicing doctors, has just passed a resolution supporting medical marijuana, calling for its availability for some patients and for more research. The clinical trials for using MDMA in therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are progressing. An Administrative Law Judge has recommended approval of a marijuana-growing license for the University of Massachusetts.

Even more, the public is for change. Large majorities nationwide favor making medical marijuana available to patients, and large numbers oppose imprisonment for simple possession of marijuana.

But will any of those things happen? Won't next year just be politics as usual.

I'm going to be braver than the pundits here. Nearly all of them are predicting a Democratic President and larger Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. When I compare what I am seeing this year with what I have seen in fifty years of watching presidential politics, I predict that this year will bring a realignment -- both in Congress and in the states -- larger than anything since FDR and the New Deal routed the Republicans in 1932.

So what should Drug Reformers do? The first, and most important, thing is to vote and to assist your favored candidates in campaigning. The second is to never publicly ask one of your favored candidates his or her position on a drug question. The issue is still such a fright factor in politics that they will almost certainly come up with some equivocating answer that makes them look dumb. Instead, take an opportunity to ask that question of some one you oppose and give him a chance to look ignorant or uncaring.

Next, begin planning and organizing now. The opening days and weeks of a new Congress or legislature is when they will feel the most powerful and confident and when the opposition will be most demoralized. Petitions, resolutions, and proposed bills should reach their targets between Election Day and the opening of the sessions. And talk to them -- write, telephone, text, and if possible, visit them. Let them know you care -- a lot.

I feel optimistic. Change IS in the air. But it takes a lot of thought and work to pull that wispy idea out of the air and nail it to solid ground. Change is in the air, but only you can make it happen.

Buford C. Terrell is a retired law professor whose teaching fields included drug laws, law and sex, First Amendment, and legal history. He is also the host a public interest television show in Houston called "Drugs, Crime, and Politics."


"How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!" - Samuel Adams

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