This Just In
(1)State Marijuana Law In Supreme Court's Hands
(2)Pair Get Prison In Pot Case
(3)Struggling For Solutions As Opium Trade Blossoms
(4)Editorial: House Right To Reduce Marijuana Penalties

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 21 Mar 2008
Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
Author: Anne Sutton, The Associated Press

JUNEAU -- An effort to recriminalize marijuana is in the hands of the Alaska Supreme Court after the high court heard oral arguments Thursday.

The latest round in a decades-old battle over the drug revolves around a 2-year-old state law that would make illegal the personal at-home use of small amounts of marijuana in Alaska.

A lower court struck down part of the law two years ago, saying it conflicts with past Supreme Court decisions. The state Department of Law appealed the case.

This week special assistant attorney general Dean Guaneli reprised his argument that the new law contains findings by the Legislature on the dangers of marijuana that were not considered by the court in the past.

"It's a different kind of drug, it's a different era and the Legislature considered all that and reached its decision," said Guaneli after the hearing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska challenged the law on the grounds that the state constitution and its privacy provisions protect adults who use marijuana in their homes.

Attorneys said the state has failed to prove that public health has suffered in Alaska as a result of the court's 1975 landmark decision, known as Ravin v. State.

"The effect of Ravin has been that privacy rights are respected. Nothing relevant has changed since 1975," said ACLU staff attorney Adam Wolf.

The state law at issue was approved by the 2006 Alaska Legislature, spurred on by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. The idea was to trigger a constitutional challenge and ultimately overturn the Ravin decision.

In gearing up for a court fight, Murkowski and the Legislature included in the bill a set of findings meant to prove that marijuana has increased in potency since the original Supreme court decision, and therefore had become more dangerous.

When the law took effect that June, the ACLU sued the state and Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins struck it down one month later, saying the new law conflicted with past constitutional decisions of the Supreme Court. Collins limited her decision to possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, even though the state law increases penalties for possession of more than that amount.

The Alaska Constitution has a special guarantee of privacy from government interference. And the Ravin decision said that right-to-privacy outweighs any social harm that might be caused by the personal at-home use of small amounts of marijuana. While the decision was not absolute, the court said the state would have to clear a very high hurdle to justify interfering with that right to privacy.


The court is expected to rule on the case within a year. The justices could remand the case back to the lower court for trial.



Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Denny Walsh

Judge Hands Out Five-Year Terms, Says It's 'A Terrible Day.'

An El Dorado County couple -- a physician and an attorney -- were sentenced Wednesday in Sacramento federal court to five years in prison for conspiring to grow and distribute marijuana.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. said federal law left him with no choice but to impose on both Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and attorney Dale Schafer the mandatory minimum sentence.

But, to the delight of supporters who packed the courtroom, the judge allowed the pair to remain free on bail until their appeals have been decided.

The statutory minimum applied because of the number of plants -- at least 100 -- found by a jury in August to be the crux of a conspiracy to grow and distribute pot from their offices in Cool and their home in Greenwood.

The couple went from personal marijuana use -- radical breast cancer surgery in Fry's case, severe back pain and a dangerous form of hemophilia for Schafer -- to supplying the drug to people who came to them with various ailments.

Fry supplied the physician's recommendation required under California law, and Schafer advised clients on the legalities of medicinal use. Each recommendation bore the warning that possession, use or manufacture of marijuana under any conditions violates federal law.

They insisted they didn't expect trouble from federal narcotics agents because they were not selling the drug, they were careful to comply with California's Compassionate Use Act, and what they were doing was encouraged by El Dorado County narcotics officers.


Damrell told Fry and Schafer they're martyrs, but he questioned whether their cause merited such a sacrifice, especially since they have children at home and help care for a grandchild.

Were it left up to him, the judge said, the punishment would be less. "It is a sad day, a terrible day," he said.

At the conclusion of a grueling, emotional hearing, Damrell ruled the couple could remain free on $25,000 bail each pending the outcome of their appeals.




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Mar 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Molly Moore, Washington Post Foreign Service

On a recent cold spring day, just as the first small sprouts of poppies began pushing out of the southern Afghanistan earth, the members of Uruzgan province's poppy eradication council gathered around a wood stove in the governor's compound here for their first meeting.

"We should encourage people to eliminate poppies voluntarily," offered one official. "Ministers will go to the radio stations and tell them to stop. Mullahs should go to the mosques and tell people it's forbidden by Islam."

Mohammad Mawlawi, a mullah with a curly black beard extending down the length of his chest, exploded in anger.

"The people won't listen to us if we go to the mosque and say it's against our culture," he insisted. "No one wants to stop because the government has done nothing for us. They say, 'We have no choice, we have to make a living to support our families.'

"The people won't stop!" he repeated, waving his lime-green prayer beads for emphasis.

In the last six years, the international community has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for Afghan poppy eradication, built a state-of-the-art maximum-security facility for drug traffickers outside Kabul and dispatched hundreds of troops to try to persuade farmers to plant wheat, fruit trees and saffron instead of poppies.

The result of those efforts: Last year Afghanistan produced 90 percent of the world's opium and its derivative, heroin -- more than at any time in the country's history. The only major drug traffickers held in the new prison wing were allowed to escape. And a special international fund for motivating Afghan leaders to eradicate poppies has barely been touched, according to international officials involved in Afghan anti-drug efforts.

While 13 provinces in the north and central parts of Afghanistan were poppy-free last year, the number of acres under cultivation nationwide increased 17 percent, according to a U.N. survey. More than three-quarters of the poppy crop is cultivated in areas outside government control, primarily in five southern provinces.

The war against poppies has been undercut by disagreements among NATO allies and Afghan officials over how to stop cultivation, corrupt Afghan officials and inefficient reconstruction efforts, according to U.S., U.N., NATO and Afghan officials involved in the anti-drug effort.

Most militaries are loath to engage in eradication efforts because of the danger to soldiers and the risk of angering the very farmers whose support they are trying to win. Many poor farmers have managed to survive only by selling their crops to the Taliban, the extremist militia that has used profits from the drug trade to fund its resurgence.




Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Monitor Publishing Company

Forty years ago, Harvard psychology professor Lester Grinspoon, alarmed at the widespread use of marijuana, set out to write a scientific paper that would definitively prove that the drug was harming its young users. Here is what he found:

"By 1971 . . . I knew that far more harmful than any psychopharmacological property of this substance was the way we as a society were dealing with its use. While marijuana is, in fact, remarkably free of toxicity, the consequence of annually arresting 300,000 young people were not."

We'll leave it to the scientists to decide issues like toxicity, but 60 years have passed since the United States made possession of marijuana illegal and the evidence is clear. As the young sponsors of a bill that passed the New Hampshire House Tuesday articulated, the consequences of an arrest for even a minute amount of marijuana are serious and can have repercussions for decades.

People convicted of possessing marijuana face a year in jail and a lifetime criminal record that could make it difficult to get some jobs. They also lose their eligibility for federal financial aid, a ban that could make attending college difficult and more costly. The punishment, particularly when it is so often given to young people whose judgment is not yet fully formed, is greatly out of proportion with the crime.

The bill makes possession of a quarter ounce of marijuana or less a violation punishable by a $200 fine and confiscation of the drug. It does not legalize marijuana or change the penalties for larger quantities, manufacturing or sale. At least 11 states have decriminalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana, generally one ounce or less. Oregon did so in 1973. Studies in those states suggest that marijuana usage increases only slightly or not at all. In Great Britain, in fact, after marijuana was decriminalized in 2004, usage went down - the theory being that the drug lost some of its allure for rebellious youth because of its new status.

It makes no sense to make criminals of young people prone to experiment with a drug most experts consider much safer than alcohol. That's no argument for legalizing marijuana, but it is cause to rethink the state's criminal penalties.





As the drug czar continues to suggest that the drug war is succeeding, more questions are being raised about his office's ability to provide its own budget numbers with transparency and accuracy.

In the Western U.S., a federal appeals court ruled that cities can drug test employees, but not necessarily all employees (not part-time library workers, for example). In Illinois, a well-respected high school newspaper adviser is suspended for allowing an article perceived by administrators as pro-marijuana. And, in Florida, the legislature is starting to see the need for prison reform, particularly in regards to non-violent drug offenders. The governor, unfortunately, still doesn't get it.


Pubdate: Wed, 12 Mar 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Christopher Lee, Washington Post Staff Writer

Experts Note Difficulty in Tracking and Evaluating Priorities

Despite congressional demands for transparency, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has a murky budget that understates its emphasis on popular law enforcement efforts over treatment and prevention programs, budget and drug policy experts say.

In February, the White House requested $14.1 billion for drug control efforts in fiscal 2009, a 3.4 percent increase. Nearly two-thirds would go to law enforcement, interdiction efforts and programs to destroy drug crops abroad. Just over a third, or $4.9 billion, would fund treatment and prevention efforts.

"The federal government will continue to do its part to keep our young people safe, and I urge all Americans to do the same," President Bush said in a March 1 radio address.

But the White House has made the job harder, experts say. In 2002, the administration narrowed the way it counts federal anti-drug spending, which is scattered across programs in about two dozen agencies. As a result, billions of dollars spent by several agencies moved off of the drug control office's books.

The White House argued that the new budget method merely stripped out spending over which the drug control office had no influence, such as law enforcement grants that only minimally involved anti-drug efforts.

"The way the budget had been compiled for years was designed to make the drug control budget look as big as it possibly could," said Tom Riley, a drug office spokesman. "This was to really say, 'Let's make the budget more about the things we actually manage and the things that we actually do focus on.' "

But some lawmakers have complained that the new method does not provide the full picture, and in 2006 Congress directed the administration to return to the old one.

That has not happened. The latest budget request contains an appendix summarizing nearly $4.8 billion in spending of the sort lawmakers want in the more detailed main budget, including more than $4 billion at the Justice Department.




Pubdate: Fri, 14 Mar 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Note: The decision

SAN FRANCISCO - A city can't require all job applicants to be tested for narcotics and must instead show why drug use in a particular job would be dangerous, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against the city of Woodburn, Ore., which argued it was entitled to maintain a drug-free workplace by requiring job candidates to be screened for drugs and alcohol.

The city was sued by Janet Lanier, whose job offer as a part-time page at the city library was withdrawn in 2004 when she refused a drug and alcohol test. A federal judge ruled the policy unconstitutional and awarded Lanier $12,400 in damages and $44,000 in legal fees, her lawyer said.

The appeals court said Thursday that the judge's ruling went too far, because the city may be able to justify drug-testing of applicants for some jobs. But the court found no basis to test applicants for library positions.




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2008
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Herald Company
Details: Author: Melissa Jenco

Current and former Naperville Central High School newspaper staff members are banding together to support longtime adviser Linda Kane, who has been asked to resign her post with the paper.

Administrators are upset over recent articles in the Central Times they say glorified marijuana use and contained unacceptable profanity.

It isn't the first time the award-winning student paper has clashed with school officials.

But this time Kane, who is set to retire in two years, says administrators told her she must either resign from the newspaper or she will be fired as its adviser.

She said she refuses to step down and is exploring legal options.

In the meantime, students who have worked with her at the Central Times are rushing to her defense.




Pubdate: Sat, 15 Mar 2008
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Miami Herald
Details: Author: Marc Caputo

Gov. Charlie Crist Said He Doesn't Support Legislative Plans to Review Whether to Lessen Penalties for Some Crimes Such As Non-Violent Drug Possession

TALLAHASSEE - Though he has admitted to smoking marijuana, Gov. Charlie Crist said he still favors Florida's tough drug laws and doesn't support legislative plans to review whether to lessen penalties for some crimes such as non-violent drug possession.

The state's prison population is expected to swell at year's end to a record 100,000, about 20 percent of whom are non-violent drug offenders convicted of crimes such as trafficking and simple possession.

And some legislators have wondered aloud and in private how the state can afford to pay for it now that Florida's economy is sagging and crime is rising It costs more than $19,000 a year to lock up an inmate, not counting the millions it will cost to build two prisons per year through 2013 to keep up with prison-population growth.

While no legislator has filed a bill to decriminalize drug laws outright, the Senate and House are considering measures that allow some inmates early and supervised work release, that establish a commission to review mandatory-minimum prison sentences -- a legacy of the drug war -- and that lessen penalties for driving with a suspended license.




While efforts to merge the war on drugs with the war on terror have been underway for a while, a report out of Phoenix suggests that strict immigration laws are being conflated with an attack on recreational marijuana users. Also last week, more police corruption, along with a reprimand for an officer who may have tried to do the right thing.


Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2008
Source: Phoenix New Times (AZ)
Copyright: 2008 New Times, Inc.
Author: Ray Stern

The small sedan slowed as it approached the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on a deserted section of Interstate 8 east of Yuma. The car contained three middle-age women on their way back to the Valley after a planning retreat in San Diego.

The past three days had been idyllic and productive as the women lounged on the beach, making art and chatting over ideas for the future of their ceramics business.

The self-described hippies had taken marijuana to the beach and were returning with some of it in the car. One of them, Mary ( like others quoted in this article, she agreed to talk about her experience only if New Times used a pseudonym ) was unapologetic.

"I would never quit. I like my life, you know?" the 56-year-old says later of her pot use. "None of us drink. We're leftover people from the '60s and '70s."

Mary, the oldest of the group, was driving. She didn't sweat the traffic stop as her car rolled up. She'd been through this same movable checkpoint along the stretch of I-8 East before and had never had a problem.

This time, something was different. She noticed that the checkpoint seemed better staffed than usual. One green-shirted agent manned a small, white booth while others milled about near tents, office-trailers, and patrol cars. Another agent walked a dog, which held its snout high as it sniffed along a line of slowing vehicles.

As Mary's sedan neared, the dog tensed as if it had seen a rabbit, straining at its leash and jerking its human handler forward. Mary was told to park her car under a large canopy to the right of the road. An agent walked up to the driver's-side window and asked her if she would consent to a search of the vehicle.

"This was pretty intimidating," she recalls. "They had guns and were wearing fatigues. We're three little ladies from Phoenix who are calm, peaceful people."




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2008, The Detroit News
Author: Mike Wilkinson

Metro Officers, Attorney Face Charges From FBI Drug Investigation Of Motorcycle Gang

DETROIT - A former Detroit reserve police officer told members of a notorious motorcycle gang who among them was a snitch. A Hamtramck officer told them which gang members were under surveillance. And a Garden City officer joined the gang and got involved in drug sales. Those are the allegations by federal authorities in a stinging indictment released Thursday.

The Metro Detroit police officers were among four indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on drug charges and for lying to federal agents and a grand jury.

The charges are an outgrowth of the massive federal investigation into the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club, considered Metro Detroit's largest outlaw motorcycle gang, accused of being involved in drug dealing, murder for hire, interstate theft, acts of violence, mortgage and insurance fraud and police corruption.

"As troubling as any criminal charges are, these indictments are an egregious example of police corruption," Murphy said in a written statement. "It is conduct that undermines the public's faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system and besmirches the profession of the thousands of police officers and agents who perform their duties with the utmost integrity, bravery, and sense of ethics."




Pubdate: Tue, 18 Mar 2008
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Fayetteville Observer
Author: John Fuquay

RALEIGH -- As a Robeson County deputy, James Owen Hunt stole at least $150,000 from drug dealers he stopped on Interstate 95. On Monday, a federal judge ordered him to spend two years in prison and repay the money. Hunt, 41, of Ladson, S.C., cried as he apologized to U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle before his sentencing.

"Every day, I think about what I've done and how bad it was," Hunt said. "How it affects my life, and it hurts." He thanked federal prosecutors for giving him the chance to offset his wrongdoing by providing evidence against at least 22 other former Robeson County lawmen who have been implicated in the Operation Tarnished Badge corruption investigation. Hunt had faced a maximum 20 years, but his cooperation landed him a far lower term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Bradsher said Hunt was unique among the former lawmen who have been prosecuted since the state and federal investigation began about five years ago. The U.S. Attorney's Office says 22 former deputies have pleaded guilty in the investigation.

"James Owen Hunt provided the greatest level of cooperation. There is no individual who provided the same level of information as Mr. Hunt," Bradsher said. He said Hunt was interviewed by investigators 21 times. In May 2005, he became the first lawman to break a "code of silence." "When he did, that changed everything. That was a turning point," Bradsher said. Hunt gave information about deputies who planted evidence, beat people and stole their property, Bradsher said. The information made it difficult for other suspects to remain silent and prompted several to plead guilty.




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Christina Jewett

As an undercover hit man, Detective Scott Kolb has negotiated the terms of two murders.

His long hair and tattoos allowed him to infiltrate the haunts of midlevel drug czars. He learned the intricacies of surveillance. He put in 18-hour days and six-day weeks to bring down an outlaw biker gang.

Kolb, 46, was an asset to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department for 26 years, his performance reviews show. But officials began to treat him like a liability after he spoke up on behalf of a member of the Hell's Angels.

The result was an internal affairs investigation that led sheriff's officials to reprimand Kolb. He since has been transferred from his post in narcotics, gotten a pay cut and been asked to cut his hair.

Kolb, in turn, filed a lawsuit and is speaking out: He insists he did nothing but uphold a law that compels officers to come forward with information that could clear a criminal defendant.

"I want to be vindicated that I did the right thing," Kolb said in an interview at his attorney's downtown office. "I did the legal thing and everything else. I followed the rules."

The dispute stems from a sheriff's raid on the Embers topless bar on Auburn Boulevard late on a Friday night, Jan. 19, 2007.




Legislators in New Hampshire sent the wrong message to young people last Tuesday by approving a bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing 7 grams or less of cannabis from a criminal to a civil offense, subject to a $200 fine. Advocates of the bill cited the collateral damage criminal convictions cause, such as the loss of student loans. Opponents of the bill essentially argued that decriminalization would give young people the misimpression that cannabis laws are harmless.

Patients and law enforcement officials took predictable sides in Sacramento County, where supervisors ultimately rejected a call to abide by state law and implement a medicinal cannabis consumer identification card program.

A survey of Canadian physicians found that many are prescribing larger doses of cannabis to registered patients than Health Canada recommends, giving little if any consideration to the risk of overdose.

The Guardian UK published some entertaining excerpts from a new book on organized crime, including a chapter on "BC Bud" and the adventure and affluence to be had smuggling it into the United States.


Pubdate: Wed, 19 Mar 2008
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2008 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Kevin Landrigan, Telegraph Staff

CONCORD - In a stunning development, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to decriminalize possession of up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana.

Currently, possession of this small amount equal to about seven or eight joints can result in up to a year in jail or $2,000 fine. The typical punishment is a large fine.

The amended bill makes it a violation rather than a criminal misdemeanor with a fine of up to $200.

The 193-141 vote came over the strong opposition of a House policy committee and law enforcement officials. Rep. Jeffrey Fontas, D- Nashua, said it's unfair young students lose their federally financed aid for college after any drug conviction.

"How can we expect young people to get back on the right path if we take away every opportunity to do so?" Fontas said.

Rep. John Tholl, R-Whitefield, said the measure was fraught with unintended consequences. For example, someone who possessed the small amount of marijuana and decided to share it with a friend could be charged with a felony.

Anyone caught transporting this small amount of marijuana could still be subject to a jail term, said Tholl, who is the part-time police chief in the North County town of Dalton.

"If you send a message to the young people of our state that a quarter ounce of marijuana is no big deal, like a traffic ticket, what you are doing is you are telling them we are not going to be looking at this very hard," Tholl said.

Gov. John Lynch is opposed to the measure and will urge the state Senate to reject it, according to press secretary Colin Manning. "This sends absolutely the wrong message to New Hampshire's young people about the very real dangers of drug use. That is why the governor joins with the House Criminal Justice Committee and law enforcement in opposing this bill," Manning said.


Bill No. HB 1623

SPONSORS: Reps. Jeffrey Fontas and Andrew Edwards, D- Nashua.

DESCRIPTION: Decriminalizes the possession of up to one quarter of one ounce of marijuana to a violation that carries a $200 fine. Currently, possession is a criminal misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $2,000.

STATUS: The House of Representatives approved the amended bill, 193-141.



Pubdate: Wed, 19 Mar 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Ed Fletcher

Turning away pleas from an elderly glaucoma patient, a local man with AIDS and a teen with a rare bone illness, Sacramento County supervisors rejected a call to implement a program allowing medical marijuana patients to obtain a state-issued identification card.

Tuesday's 3-2 vote was instead in step with the position of Sacramento County's law enforcement officials that implementing the program would invite residents to violate federal law.

While state law allows the use of marijuana for legitimate medicinal purposes, federal law does not.

Of the state's 58 counties, Sacramento County is among 18 that haven't adopted the state program. Advocates say pot ID cards help law enforcement by identifying those with a legitimate need for medicinal marijuana.

Neoma Denny, 75, called medical marijuana her "lifeline." "I can't take medicine for nausea. I can't take medicine for pain," said Denny, who said she suffers from glaucoma and cirrhosis of the liver. "If I did not use medical marijuana, I would not be here. This is my lifeline."


Sheriff John McGinness and District Attorney Jan Scully argued against the program. McGinness said that since sheriff's deputies aren't jailing people for having a small amount of pot, the program wouldn't be of much help.

He added that issuing cards would encourage pot use. "We have a conflict," he said. "We are talking about a behavior that is illegal by federal law."

Jan Scully said marijuana cultivation and use sets people up for crime - from home invasion robberies to murders. She also made light of what she characterized as pot prescriptions for back pain, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, flatulence and insomnia.

"The courts are going to have to sort this out," MacGlashan said. "We can't sort it out on this level."




Pubdate: Tue, 18 Mar 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Jack Aubry

Canadian doctors have been increasing daily dosages of marijuana for patients using cannabis for medical purposes, Health Canada reports.

The increase in prescribed dosages is noted in a recent report on the views of physicians regarding the use of marijuana, adding that this information "surprised" most doctors when they were told during interviews.

It said the doctors identified seven "logical" explanations for the trend, including the perception that Health Canada marijuana is "not as potent" as that produced and grown by patients or their suppliers.

"Higher doses of Health Canada marijuana for medical purposes may be warranted to achieve the same result obtainable through more potent strains," added the report.

Completed by Les Etudes de Marche Createc, the study found physicians were unclear about Health Canada's maximum dosage recommendation, stating that "not one participant was able to guess the maximum level." For most doctors, the report said, overdose or dosage beyond an "optimal" limit was not a concern or even a consideration.

The study found unanimous agreement and even "enthusiastic support" among doctors for Health Canada to begin supplying dried marijuana to pharmacists trained to dispense it to patients, although they suggested that the quality be improved and the price be reduced while insuring that medical insurance programs cover the cost.

The reporting of the trend follows Health Canada's campaign last summer to keep doses below five grams, which included postings on its website referring to studies that indicated that most medical users need only one to three grams daily.



 (16) THE DOPE RUSH  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 17 Mar 2008
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Misha Glenny

Think of drugs, and you think of Colombia, Thailand, Afghanistan. But Canada? Nice, peaceful, dull Canada? Believe it or not, there are parts of the country where cannabis provides more jobs than logging, mining, oil and gas combined. Misha Glenny investigates, in the first of two extracts from his new book on organised crime

"Open the back for me, please, Dan." Quiet yet firm - that's how they speak around Metaline Falls, in the far north of Washington State. Dan Wheeler walked around his pick-up truck and unbolted the tray. "Let's clear away all that stuff, please, Dan." Wheeler started hauling the grubby but neatly piled strips of chromium that were lying on the flatbed. The U.S. customs officer at the border with Canada helped by shifting the snow chains, toolbox, rags, oilcans and the detritus common to an artisan's vehicle.

"I'd like a look at the propane tank, please, Dan." Wheeler skipped under the car to unbolt the thick mesh that shielded the tank - a mesh that another border official had recommended as protection against an explosion if the truck were back-ended. Stooping deliberately, the customs officer positioned his nose just above the propane tank's outlet valve. A jet of noxious gas flew up and the guard straightened smartly. Then he tapped the fuel gauge, which shimmered gently - the normal reaction.

"Thank you, Dan. What fuel is the truck running on right now?"

"I'm not sure. Gasoline, I think."

"Switch it over to the propane, please, Dan, and turn on the engine."

Dan switched the fuel supply and started cranking the engine.

Nothing. He tried again. Then again. On the third try, the liquid petroleum gas (also known as LPG or propane) reached the carburetor and the motor burst into life. The officer bent down and breathed in the exhaust from the pipe. He could tell from the fumes that this was propane; it has a very different odour from petrol. He had ascertained what he needed to know: that Dan Wheeler was not smuggling BC bud, one of the most popular and potent brands of cannabis in the world, from Canada into the United States.

These elaborate tests were necessary; the only other way he could have established Dan's innocence would be by sawing open the LPG tank. And the resulting explosion would have blown apart him and everything else within a 500-yard radius.

"OK, Dan. Just come on into the office to fill in the forms and you'll be on your way!"

Wheeler fumed. "Hey, can you at least give me a hand with reloading the car?" The officer turned and grimaced before reluctantly helping.


Telling me the story inside his voluminous garage and workshop, Dan demonstrated the routine with the propane tank. "You can't tell by looking at it, but if you chisel away at the right place with a screwdriver and a hammer, you bust away this glass-fibre body filler, which I use to cover up a socket," Dan explained. He then started to unscrew a small square nut. Pang! "There we go!" he exclaimed with a broad smile. And the end of the tank came off.

There was no mighty explosion. Instead, I saw small-bore copper tubes inside, which ran from the external sniffer valve, gauges and fuel pipe to a small cylinder of propane intended to fire camping stoves.

"The truck actually runs for 15 kilometres on the propane, and of course if anyone checks the sniffer valves or the fuel gauge, everything appears to be normal," said Dan proudly.




In the resort town of Goa, the death of a British tourist leads to questioning the authority of drug prohibition in a Times of India piece this week. "If drugs were not banned, would Scarlett Keeling... be alive today? Perhaps... Legalise drugs? Scandalous idea. But is it any more, or less, scandalous than the possibly preventable death of Scarlett, and many more like her? A question, perhaps, whose time has come to be asked."

After the multi-year and multi-billion dollar failed pork-barrel boondoggle of "Plan Colombia" (attempting to budge the U.S. cocaine 'street price' by dousing rainforest with plant poison), the "balloon effect" appears spectacularly once again, this time in the direction of the Brazilian rainforest. Last week reports of "the first known coca plantations" in the Brazilian Amazon surfaced in the media.

As the BZP "party pill" ban comes into effect in New Zealand, authorities fear potential BZP use might balloon into something else, like "Neuro Blast" (said to have a pinch of diphenyl prolinol to perk up parties), or perhaps TFMPP (3-Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine) - both legal, currently.

In Australia, after a long string of all types of reefer madness in a Geelong Advertiser newspaper piece this week, the editorial ends with the observation those who use cannabis should not be jailed, by concluding, "Jail, after all, is hardly the way to tackle mental health." Good point: authorities never believed the reefer madness in the first place, or else they would have put cannabis users in mental hospitals, not jail.

Stop jailing drug users was the same conclusion the U.K. Drug Policy Commission came to this week, also. Jail isn't "the solution" to "drug crime" says the commission, as drug use is increasing and "heroin use is now more widespread than cannabis," in prison.


Pubdate: Fri, 14 Mar 2008
Source: Times of India, The (India)
Copyright: Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 2008
Author: Jug Suraiya

If drugs were not banned, would Scarlett Keeling, the British teenager who was raped and murdered in Goa, be alive today? Perhaps.

It was not drugs that killed Scarlett; it was the criminalisation of drugs that led to her death and to the subsequent cover-up attempt by the local police who allegedly are in collaboration with the drug mafias, mainly from Russia and Israel, who have reportedly set up operations in the state.

Scarlett's murder raises a question often asked by libertarians: Does the prohibition of certain substances (tobacco, liquor, drugs) do more harm than good? In the case of liquor, the experience with prohibition worldwide, from the U.S. to Stalinist Russia, has been emphatically negative.

Indeed, the growth of the mafia in the U.S. has been traced to prohibition. In India, sporadic or piecemeal attempts at prohibition in various parts of the country have led to organised bootlegging, rampant corruption, gang wars and liquor deaths caused by toxic moonshine.


Forget morality or public health issues. The real reason that drugs can never be legitimised is purely economic. Just too many people -- in Goa and elsewhere -- are making too much money thanks to the ban.

By driving drugs underground so that their dealership is in the hands of criminals rather than legitimate, and accountable, entrepreneurs, prohibition increases the risk factor, not just for drug users but also for the community as a whole which faces the consequences of organised crime networks, on the one hand, and a corrupt 'enforcement' machinery, on the other.

Legalise drugs? Scandalous idea. But is it any more, or less, scandalous than the possibly preventable death of Scarlett, and many more like her? A question, perhaps, whose time has come to be asked.



Pubdate: Mon, 17 Mar 2008
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Tales Azzoni

Army Surprised by Discovery

Lab Equipped to Make Leaves into Cocaine Also Found in the Amazon

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The army said Sunday it has discovered the first known coca plantations in Brazil's Amazon, along with a fully equipped laboratory to manufacture cocaine. The army used helicopters and small boats to reach the plantations and the lab near the northwestern city of Tabatinga, close to the border with cocaine-producing nations Peru and Colombia, army Lt. Col. Antonio Elcio Franco Filho said.

"It is the first time these plantations have been found in Brazil," he said. The discovery surprised authorities and prompted a search for similar fields in the region.

"This is new in Brazil and it's a concern," Walter Maierovitch, an organized-crime expert who once headed Brazil's anti-drug efforts, told the government's Agencia Brasil news service. "It could mean a change in the geo-strategy of some Colombian cartels."




Pubdate: Sat, 15 Mar 2008
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 The Dominion Post


He had collapsed at a dance party. Initial tests found BZP and caffeine in his system and a urine test revealed traces of ecstasy. Doctors said BZP was likely to have caused the collapse.

Ben Rodden was now working on the Gold Coast.

"He's right off it all. He said he'd never take them again," his father said.

Mr Rodden said he was worried that alternatives to the banned pills were being manufactured.


Wellington Hospital emergency medicine specialist Paul Quigley said yesterday that BZP had not been a big problem in the capital, perhaps because the population was relatively well-educated.


He expected people would start taking other drugs to fill the gap.

Late last year, the department had a "surprisingly large" number of people turning up who had taken the non-BZP party pill Neuro Blast, he said.

"That had quite a few problems, mainly causing significant insomnia and anxiety."

But that problem had died down.

Neuro Blast was investigated by the police last year because it allegedly contained a stimulating substance called diphenyl prolinol.

Wellington's Medical Research Institute pulled the plug on the first major clinical study of TFMPP and BZP-based party pills because of adverse health effects on participants.


Drug Foundation director Ross Bell said the agency remained sceptical about the law change. While some users would give up drugs, many would find an alternative.




Pubdate: Sat, 15 Mar 2008
Source: Geelong Advertiser (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Geelong Advertiser Pty Ltd


Moreover, it threatens to overlook, as governments around the country continue to overlook, the more important task of educating marijuana users of the inherent dangers in their drug of choice. These are many and varied, and arguably one of the chief contributors to the nation's mental health crisis _ a crisis that is not going to be fixed by belting grass-smokers with $10,000 fines or jail terms. There are enough mentally-ill prisoners in jail as it is.

Marijuana is linked to schizophrenia, depression, paranoia, anxiety and other mental health problems. But these aren't the only problems. A lengthy list of disorders are suspected to be tied to marijuana use _ immuno deficiencies, chromosomal damage, sperm mobility dysfunction, respiratory tract cancer, short-term memory loss . . . the list goes on.

Results of a 15-year study by Melbourne University's Centre for Adolescent Health released last year suggest all too clearly that marijuana is serious bad news for long-term mental health. And that it is likely to encourage young users toward other drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine. Researcher George Patton, who studied more than 1900 people aged 14 or 15, put it bluntly: cannabis was the drug of choice for "life's future losers".

Decriminalisation, given these findings, hardly seems such a sensible move. But it appears rather clear that laws for trafficking need to be toughened ahead of a wholesale assault on small-time personal users. Jail, after all, is hardly the way to tackle mental health.



Pubdate: Sun, 16 Mar 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Mark Townsend, crime correspondent

Convicted drug users should not be sent to prison because it does more harm than good, a report from the influential UK Drug Policy Commission will say tomorrow. Up to 65,000 prisoners in England and Wales are thought to be problem drug users and, of these, two-thirds are convicted of less serious crimes such as shoplifting and burglary. The commission believes these offenders should not be jailed.

Although the report accepts that almost a third of heroin and crack users arrested admit to committing an average of one crime a day, it says that community treatment programmes would be more effective than prison.


The report arrives as the problem of drug use in prison appears to be increasing, with results from random tests revealing that heroin use is now more widespread than cannabis.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


The arbitrary distinctions at the root of prohibition.

By Jacob Sullum


The March 2008 MAPS' Email News Update is now available online. This issue, written by author David Jay Brown, discusses MAPS' Swiss LSD/End-of-Life Anxiety study, the upcoming third edition of LSD Psychotherapy, MAPS' new MDMA/PTSD study in Canada, MAPS' involvement in the upcoming World Psychedelic Forum and 2008 Boom festival and a whole lot more...



Our friends at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union captured a great moment from the United Nations Committee on Narcotics Drugs where Antonio Maria Costa refused to answer a question about why the Netherlands has lower cannabis usage rates than surrounding countries.


A report written by DPA's Bill Piper lays out the fundamentals of an effective national strategy for reducing the problems associated with both methamphetamine misuse and misguided U.S. methamphetamine policies.


Century of Lies - 3/18/08 - Doug McVay

Doug McVay, director of research for Common Sense for Drug Policy and editor of Drug War Facts reports from Vienna, Austria on the 51st annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs with Boaz Wachtel, executive director of the Green Leaf Party of Israel, Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Eric Carlin, executive director of Mentor UK and a vice chair in the VNGOC and Mike Trace, co-founder and co-coordinator of the International Drug Policy Consortium.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/19/08 - Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower, author of "Swim Against the Current - Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow" plus Cliff Thornton of Efficacy-Online on the UN Convention in Vienna & Obama's Preacher

Support the Drug Truth Network

Get a "World War - Infinity Squared" T-Shirt


Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union and featuring noted travel writer and television host Rick Steves, "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation" begins a long-overdue public discussion about marijuana and marijuana prohibition.



Check out this special publication, and consider becoming a financial supporter of DrugSense.

Here's the link to it in PDF format:


The Marijuana Policy Project is now hiring summer interns. MPP internships offer the chance to gain experience in a successful nonprofit organization - while helping to restore sense to our nation's marijuana policies. MPP summer internships are unpaid and part-time (12-20 hours per week), with class credit available.

For more information visit



By Rev. Steven B. Thompson

Dear Editor,

In ref: to Keith Campbell & Bob Wood

As the Executive Director of Michigan NORML ( National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ), I am both honored and blessed to have members in our organization like these two men.

Our state wide membership is made up of good, hard-working folks from all walks of life, who stand in solidarity to say, "Enough is enough!!" in regards to Cannabis Prohibition.

I myself am 60 years old, a born-again Christian, a minister of God and a responsible, adult cannabis consumer for 42 years now. I deplore drugs of any kind, prescription or otherwise, but cannabis is my sacrament, my medicine and my choice for recreational use.

What has happened to Keith should never happen to any American citizen, but it does every 42 seconds now, leaving their lives in total destruction, while we, the taxpayer, pick up the tab and condone it.

Search your heart and ask yourself if someone growing a few plants and using them in the privacy of their own home threatens public safety, or affects you in any way. Then, just imagine if the same thing happened to you in your home while having an alcoholic beverage, smoking a little tobacco or even having a cup of coffee, because your government said it was prohibited.

Then, you will know what Keith Campbell is going through.

I have been to Tuscola County, been to Caro, and I found it to be a warm and friendly farming community. Keith is one of you. Bob is one of you. Treat them with the respect that they deserve and help us stop this insane violation of everyone's civil liberties that has been going on for 72 years now.

God bless you all and thank you, Rev. Steven B.Thompson

Pubdate: Sat, 8 Mar 2008
Source: Tuscola County Advertiser (Caro, MI)


DrugSense recognizes Clifford Schaffer from Agua Dulce, California for his three published letters during February, which brings his total published letters that we know of up to 99. Clifford is the Director of the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

You may read his published letters at:



By Ned Cabaniss

As of 2005, the total prison population of China was 1,565,771, the second largest in the world.

Not too surprising, of course.

After all, China is a dictatorship with little regard for the rule of law or individual rights.

As of 2006, the per capita rate of incarceration for Cuba was 531 per 100,000 persons. That ranks Cuba fifth in the world.

Once again, not much of a surprise.

Cuba, too, is a dictatorship. But what is surprising ( at least to me ) is the country that ranks first both in absolute prison population numbers and in per capita rate of incarceration. As of 2006, the U.S. prison population was 2,258,983. That's more than 40 percent higher than second place China. The U.S. also is first in per capita prison population rate at 751 per 100,000. Russia ranks second at 628. To put the U.S. position in further perspective, here are rates for other Western democracies: France -- 91, Germany -- 92, England -- 147, and Spain -- 149 ( King's College London, ). The European rates are nearly an order of magnitude lower than ours. Surprising numbers I don't know about you, but those figures shock me. Maybe I'm naive, but I thought we were the good guys. I believe in being tough on crime.

I worry about liberal judges who slap hardened criminals on the wrist and allow them to return to a life of crime after a nominal stay in prison. But more Americans in jail than Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Iranians, Syrians? There is something jarringly wrong with that. And why aren't we talking about that situation?

Why aren't most of us even aware of it? The Citizen-Times recently did report that the U.S. had just reached a milestone of one American in jail for every 100 adults ( King's College figures are based on total population ). But I must have missed the context. I suppose I assumed that if we had one in 100 adults in jail, then countries like Russia, China and Cuba had one in 50.

I recently wrote a guest column for the Citizen-Times arguing that we ought to legalize cocaine and other "hard" drugs.

Does that mean I don't recognize cocaine as a dangerous substance?

No, I have no doubt it is both highly addictive and very dangerous.

However, as I pointed out in my earlier article, "... illicit drugs are cheaper and purer ( now ) than they were in 1980, and continue to be readily available." If you understand how the market works to set prices, you understand that our current policy is not working ( or illegal drugs wouldn't be both purer and cheaper ). Illegal drug sales generate massive profits that are a source both of violent competition and social corruption. If the policy of prohibition isn't working, doesn't it make sense to consider changing the policy?

What's best course? So what do we do? Mandatory sentencing so that we could prevent liberal judges from coddling drug dealers?

Oops. We already have mandatory sentencing. Implement harsher penalties for drug dealing?

But our current laws already impose a life sentence for a first time conviction for drug dealing, even for a person with no prior criminal record.

The next step, I suppose, would be to physically punish offenders.

Could we consider cutting off an arm? I am all for whatever might work, but I am skeptical that this is a politically viable alternative. I suggested legalizing cocaine.

That's, I admit, a radical step. But what's your alternative? We appear to have reached our socially acceptable limit on punishment, and all we are doing is filling our jails.

I started out by reviewing incarceration statistics. I don't see how anyone can rationally support our current sentencing policies ( and not just for drugs ). For whatever reason, we are putting too many people in jail. Surely we can agree that something is wrong when we have more people in jail than any other society on earth, and by a wide margin?

At least 20 percent of the people in jail are there for drug-related offenses ( ). Maybe one place to start is to legalize "hard" drugs and release 20 percent of the current prison population. What's your solution?

Ned Cabaniss is a retired U.S. Army colonel. For much of his 30-year career, he served as an intelligence officer. He is a member of the Citizen-Times advisory board and lives in Fairview.

Pubdate: Sun, 16 Mar 2008
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Asheville Citizen-Times
Details: URL:


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