This Just In
(1)Cannabis: Tough Penalties On Way After Another Change Of Mind
(2)Council Opposes Federal Raids On Medical Pot Clinics
(3)Freedom Eludes Many Crack Inmates
(4)Couple Cries Foul After Police Issue Drug Search Warrant

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 4 Apr 2008
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd
Authors: Richard Ford and Francis Elliott

Gordon Brown is preparing to overrule the advice of the Government's drug advisory body and upgrade cannabis to a Class B drug, carrying tougher penalties for its possession.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs made a recommendation in private that cannabis should remain a Class C drug. Its decision came after the presentation of evidence this week showing a huge increase in the potency of cannabis seized by police but no consistent evidence to support theories that this is causing an increase in schizophrenia.

Of particular concern is the prevalence of skunk, a strain of cannabis which is typically two to three times more powerful than other forms of the drug, although some types can be even stronger. The drug's potency comes from the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that it contains.

While normal cannabis contains about five per cent of THC, skunk's concentration is about 10 to 15 per cent.

Ministers have made clear that they are not bound by recommendations from the council and that in the end any decision on classification is a matter of political judgment. It will be only the second time since the council was set up under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to advise ministers that a government has rejected a recommendation on reclassification.

A senior Whitehall official made clear yesterday that Mr Brown was prepared to reclassify cannabis even if the advisory body recommended leaving the drug in the C class. "Whatever the scientific evaluation is, it is the Government's duty to decide what signal classification sends," the official said.




Pubdate: Thu, 3 Apr 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Rick Orlov, Staff Writer

Renewing its opposition to federal raids at medical marijuana facilities, the Los Angeles City Council went on record again Wednesday in urging the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to allow the city to regulate the clinics.

"We have put a moratorium in place on all new clinics until we develop regulations," Councilman Dennis Zine said. "Our goal is to bring the sale of medical marijuana under control so it is accessible to people who truly need it.

"This is about the compassionate use of a medicine that helps sick people."

The council voted 9-1 to support a state resolution on the issue after a number of people who use medical marijuana testified on behalf of the resolution, saying it is a key to helping them enjoy a decent quality of life.


The council's vote supports a resolution pending in the state Legislature that calls on the federal government to ban DEA raids on the clinics. In the last two years, officials said the DEA has conducted 50 raids on various clinics.

DEA Special Agent Sara Pullen said the agency will continue its activities.

"The use of marijuana is still a violation of federal laws," Pullen said. "Until Congress changes the law, marijuana use is illegal in any form."




Pubdate: Thu, 3 Apr 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

New federal sentencing guidelines designed to end the racially tinged disparity between prison sentences for powder and crack cocaine dealers went into effect a month ago, and so far more than 3,000 inmates have had their prison terms reduced.

Dozens have been released, including at least 15 in California, but many others who should have been released have not. Attorneys involved in the process blame bureaucratic delays as well as opposition from the Justice Department.

In North Carolina, which has the country's fifth largest population of crack offenders eligible for early release, four inmates have been freed out of some three dozen who lawyers say should have been released, in some cases, years ago.

The delays appear to be due in part to a procedural bottleneck: Federal judges there did not approve a plan for processing requests for sentence reductions until five days before the new rules were to go into effect. Courts in parts of Texas and south Florida also appear to be lagging.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission approved the guidelines in December after a two-decade debate over the fairness and efficacy of laws that have punished dealers of crack cocaine much more severely than those who sell powder cocaine. The disparity has weighed particularly hard on African Americans, who represent about 90% of the defendants prosecuted for crack offenses in federal court.

The sentencing commission has estimated that about 20,000 inmates are eligible for the reduced sentences.

When the rules were approved, the commission deferred the effective date until March 3 to give courts time to prepare. As of Tuesday, the federal Bureau of Prisons said it had received 3,077 signed orders from judges modifying the sentences of prisoners nationwide. The prisons bureau won't say how many have actually been released; even after the reductions, some inmates will still have much time to serve.

In Dallas, one judge has refused to allow federal defenders to represent crack offenders in his court, saying they have no right to counsel at this stage of the proceedings. That has left hundreds of inmates having to file jailhouse petitions to gain their freedom.

After that ruling, the federal public defender in Dallas, Richard Anderson, sent out a mass mailing to several hundred eligible inmates to help them prepare their cases. Many of the inmates' applications are incomplete or have errors. The complexities of federal sentencing law have caused added confusion.

"The playing field isn't very level," Anderson said.

Some judges have recently begun to reconsider the approach and are more readily appointing lawyers for inmates, he said.

The delays stand in sharp contrast to the experience in other regions of the country where the new rules have unleashed an outpouring of federal clemency.

The process seems to be working best in jurisdictions where prosecutors, judges and probation officers were working weeks and in some cases months in advance of the effective date to mitigate delays.




Pubdate: Thu, 3 Apr 2008
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Scott Trudeau

A Penticton woman is adamant police targeted the wrong people after its Drug Task Force members swarmed her residence Friday night.

About 8:30 Candice Cullum and her boyfriend, Dustin Gee, were relaxing at their rental home located directly in front of the Mid City Manor and adjacent to the 24-Seven store on Eckhardt Avenue.

They had their pajamas on and had settled in to watch TV for the evening when a group of police officers marched through their unlocked front door, arrested them and held them in a jail cell before releasing them.

"The door opened and I had guns pointed at me and I was told to get on the floor," she said Tuesday. "At first I kind of thought it was a joke until I actually saw a uniform. The third cop in had a uniform."

Cullum and Gee were instructed to lie face down on the floor, held down by a knee in their back. Whenever Cullum asked what was happening she claims she was told repeatedly to "shut up" by police.

The couple was perplexed by the search warrant and ensuing arrest.

"Neither of us has any criminal record whatsoever so I don't even understand the suspicion of this," said Cullum.


Cullum - who was also strip searched at the detachment by a female officer - believes it was about midnight when she was released and left to walk home in her pajamas and slippers. She waited outside for Gee who arrived a short time later.

The couple spent the next two to three hours cleaning up the pictures, clothes, CDs and an overturned bed mattress strewn on the floor by police during its search.

Dellebuur said the couple can take their concerns to the watch commander or the head of the detachment's drug task force. If that isn't satisfactory they can contact the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

The couple wants police to apologize for what happened but Cullum admitted she's hesitant to discuss the matter with police.

"If they got away with doing this in the first place," she said. "I'm not sure if it would do any good at all. I'm not sure if I would be taken seriously."





After the debut of a new reality show lauding the excitement and danger of the Drug Enforcement Agency, most TV critics seem underwhelmed. And some, like Vinay Menon at the Toronto Star, aren't just bored by the trite story lines, but irritated by the glaring ideological agenda of the show.

Other media commentators still seem much more impressed with the finale of cable TV's The Wire, which unflinching stared down the disaster of the war on drugs. Also last week, the student government at a New York university moved towards drug policy reform on campus; and the New York Times looks at Narcan and how its used in on New Mexico town.


Pubdate: Wed, 02 Apr 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Vinay Menon

In The End, It All Seems So Futile.

Undoubtedly, this was not the intended message of DEA ( Spike TV, 11 tonight ), a new six-part series that returns a spotlight to the battle that once occupied the zeitgeist before terror: the war on drugs.

Executive-produced by Al Roker - yes, he does more than the weather - - DEA takes viewers behind the scenes in Detroit, where brawny agents navigate the narcotics labyrinth while looking for the bad guys.

Cameras are rolling as Group 14 of the Drug Enforcement Administration - a unit that's tackled 100 cases over the past year resulting in more than 200 busts and $9 million in seizures - executes warrants and high-risk takedowns.

These scenes do not deviate from fictional portrayals: unmarked vehicles roll into dodgy neighbourhoods carrying a squad of heavily armed agents in flak jackets. The agents race toward the target house in stack formation. They use metal Hallagan tools to pry open screens. They smash doors from hinges with battering rams.

In a disorienting haze of shouts, threats and constant identification, they storm the premises, guns drawn.

If all goes according to plan, the suspects will be subdued without incident during the controlled chaos.

As the opening graphic states, this is "one of the most dangerous jobs in the world." Or in the words of agent Roy Hoyt: "Anytime that dope and money come together there is always the possibility of violence."

In fact, since the DEA was created in 1973 by executive order of U.S. president Richard Nixon, 75 agents have been killed in the line of duty.

This isn't mentioned tonight, nor is the cost of the war on drugs, estimated to be $500 billion over the past 35 years.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2008
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.

The "war on drugs" seems just about as successful as the one on "terror." Instead of a decrease in drug use and a drop in addiction rates, we see more Americans ( one out of every 100) imprisoned. People like Chico's Brian Epis, convicted for growing pot plants, do not belong in jail. Neither do most other casualties of the "drug war."

Californians know this. We've attempted to create more humane drug laws, as in the provisions of Proposition 36, allowing for treatment rather than incarceration, and our decision under Proposition 215 to allow the use of marijuana by patients with a prescription.

But as the federal government and local law enforcement continue to show no respect for California's decision to decriminalize the medical use of marijuana, it's time for citizens to take action.

The creators of the award-winning television series The Wire recently called for an unusual step. Noting the high rate of incarceration in America, the disparity in sentencing among races and social classes and the resources spent chasing drug convictions rather than being used to make our cities safer, they've called for citizens to engage in "jury nullification."




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2008
Source: New Paltz Oracle (SUNY, NY Edu)
Copyright: 2008 New Paltz Oracle
Author: Gina Marinelli, Copy Editor

For the first time in three years, the SUNY New Paltz administration has been listening more than ever to the student senate in regards to drug policy reform, said Student Association President Brian Gold.

The two parties which once held aggressive and antagonistic discourse now have been able to maintain a productive relationship which "has potential for a great deal of success," said Gold.

Most recently, the student senate has passed a resolution aimed towards changing the drug policy for students found in possession of marijuana. The legislation would remove expulsion as a possible punishment for second time marijuana offenders, establishing a new policy that includes removal from residence halls as a punishment and potentially creating a drug education program. Written by former Sen. Josh Goldberg, this piece of legislation focuses on a specific aspect of the entire drug policy. "Some think it's small," Goldberg said of the resolution. "I think it's a big step."




Pubdate: Wed, 2 Apr 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Page: 18, Section A
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Erik Eckholm

ESPANOLA, N.M. -- Eric Lucero has been addicted to heroin for three decades and says he has known at least 100 people in this pastoral county who died from overdoses, some in his presence.

But Mr. Lucero has recently become a popular -- and, he would argue, safer -- injection buddy. Seven times, he says, he has revived companions by using an anti-overdose drug, Narcan, which the state now hands out to addicts and their relatives as part of its effort to reduce the toll of one of the country's most pervasive epidemics of narcotics use.

Mr. Lucero, 48, said, "People know I'm good at saving them."

Rio Arriba County, just north of Santa Fe, is a Georgia O'Keeffe landscape of juniper-dotted desert and mountain valleys populated mostly by Hispanics who proudly trace their lineage to settlers of the 1600s -- and who, a decade ago, discovered that their county had the nation's highest per capita rate of deaths from overdoses. Hundreds of families are struggling to live with a multigenerational plague of narcotics; Mr. Lucero's own son is addicted.

Federal data released in March showed that the county ranked first in drug fatalities for 2001 to 2005, with a death rate of 42.5 per 100,000, compared with a national average of 7.3.




Kentucky continues to look at ways to reduce inmate populations in state prisons - it looks like alternatives for non-violent drug offenders might be a partial solution. However, elsewhere, some police have the resources to arrest upstanding members of the community on non-existent evidence.

In Lima, Ohio, one activist doesn't see many changes after a mother was killed in a botched drug raid; and prescription drug abuse seems to have hit another tipping point, as the police and DEA in one New Jersey city hold a meeting to focus exclusively on that problem with parents.


Pubdate: Sun, 23 Mar 2008
Source: Bowling Green Daily News (KY)
Copyright: 2008 News Publishing LLC
Author: Burton Speakman, The Daily News

Committee Wants to Change Penal Code, Create Alternative Sentences for Nonviolent Offenders

The Kentucky Justice and Safety Cabinet is working to alter the state's penal code to reduce prison and jail populations. But a reduction in jail population might actually be a financial blow to the Warren County Regional Jail.

A state committee has been set up - incorporating law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders and others - to review the code and recommend changes.

The first meeting of the committee was Monday, and it went extremely well, Kentucky Public Advocate Ernie Lewis said.

There's a new head of the cabinet, a new governor and a new sense of urgency, he said - the last making changes a lot more likely to succeed.

"There are too many nonviolent class C and D felons in the prison system who are drug abusers or mentally ill," Lewis said. "That's what we're talking about: nonviolent and non-sex-offenders convicted of class C and D felonies."




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2008
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Anne Blythe, Staff Writer

Trafficking Counts Filed Against a Duke Student Are Dismissed in a Package Delivery Bust

DURHAM - A prosecutor has tossed out marijuana trafficking charges against a Duke University student, prompting criticism from a defense lawyer that police are doing their business backward.

Bill Thomas, a lawyer called in to help two Duke students facing drug charges, said he feared police were rushing to arrest first and waiting to conduct their investigations later.

"The power to arrest someone is a tremendous power," Thomas said Wednesday. "But with that power goes a tremendous responsibility to conduct a full and complete investigation. You investigate first, and you arrest after the investigation."

The most recent case to draw a rebuke from Thomas involved Eric Halperin, a senior honors student at Duke. Charges against him were dropped early this week.

Police had intercepted a package at a DHL delivery service station with 27 pounds of marijuana addressed to the off-campus fraternity house where Halperin lived.

As part of an undercover operation, an investigator posted a note on the fraternity house door. The note mentioned an attempt to deliver the package, according to court documents, and gave a phone number to call.

Halperin, according to his attorney, called the number. The undercover officer, according to court documents, said the package was addressed to a woman at that address.

Halperin, according to Thomas, said no one by that name lived at that address. But the package was delivered Feb. 27.

Shortly after that, Halperin was sitting on his couch next to the unopened package when a special police enforcement team rushed in with guns raised.

"He was handcuffed at gunpoint, strip-searched, taken to jail and placed under a $25,000 secured bond for a crime he did not commit," Thomas said. "Sadly, this is the third innocent Duke student who has had their good name tarnished for a crime they clearly did not participate in."




Pubdate: Fri, 28 Mar 2008
Source: Lima News (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Freedom Newspapers Inc.
Details: Author: Greg Sowinski
Bookmark: (Drug Raids) Bookmark: (Racial Issues)

LIMA - A city leader and community activist is telling everyone to "wake up" while warning the criminal justice system is drifting down the same path that led to the fatal police shooting of a woman during a January drug raid.

Police and others in the community have operated in the same way that created the conditions that led to the shooting of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson, a mother of six, inside her East Third Street home Jan. 4, said Fifth Ward City Councilman Tommy Pitts.

Pitts also repeated what he has for the past year about disparities in arrest procedures with black and white drug dealers. That disparity showed through court records blacks were allowed to make more drug sales than whites in similar circumstances.

On top of that, the additional buys meant more charges and more prison time as is the case with Anthony Terry, the man police were after during the botched raid, Pitts said.

"When it comes to healing there can be no healing until there is equal justice," he said.

Pitts, who has never said blacks should be treated better only equal in drug arrests, was speaking after reading in the newspaper Terry is scheduled to plea and possibly go to prison for up to five years.

Pitts' comments are far from the first time he has addressed the disparity.

Although some have seemed to not take Pitts serious for addressing race issues as it relates to drug arrests, especially since he first raised it while his sons were facing drug charges, he has continued to push the issue long after the cases against his sons were over and the time




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2008
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Asbury Park Press
Author: Michelle Sahn

DEA Will Teach Parents About Drug Abuse

MARLBORO -- Township police are teaming up with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, school administrators and the local municipal drug abuse prevention alliance to teach parents about the danger of prescription drug abuse by young people.

Nationwide, prescription drug abuse is a problem among people of all ages, and at Marlboro High School, there are students who are addicted to prescription drugs, Township Police Lt. Doug Van Note said.

"We noticed the problem in our school," Van Note said. "We're seeing kids who are actual addicts now. They have to take these prescription drugs in order to make it through the day."

The drugs also have been sold by students in school, police said.

Van Note said police and school administrators realize there is an issue and want to deal with it.

"We got together and saw the problem we were having, and we knew we had to reach the parents," Van Note said. "We want to tell the parents it happens in our town."




Spurred on by tabloid hysteria over "super skunk" causing psychosis, Gordon Brown is pushing ahead with plans to re-reclassify cannabis as a class B drug, sending a "signal" of misunderstanding and dismissing the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

At the ACMD's most recent meeting, the Council heard evidence that between 1996 and 2005, levels of schizophrenia had actually dropped in the UK. According to The Guardian, the authors say this data is "not consistent with the hypothesis that increasing cannabis use in earlier decades is associated with increasing schizophrenia or psychoses from the mid-1990s onwards".

A campaign to decriminalize cannabis possession in Massachusetts is inspiring some insightful editorials and exposing those who will always oppose reforming cannabis laws on ideological grounds, regardless of the evidence.

A SWAT team from Sydney went on an unexpected and expensive fishing expedition to the marijuana Mecca of Nimbin, Australia.

The New York Times has taken notice of travel author and television host Rick Steves' latest effort to foster a rational public discourse on cannabis policy.


Pubdate: Wed, 2 Apr 2008
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Author: Benedict Brogan

The Prime Minister said he wanted to give teenagers a clear message that smoking the drug is not only illegal but also dangerous.

At his monthly press conference, Mr Brown said he was waiting for a report from scientific advisers on whether to return the drug to its Class B category.

He expects the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs this month to recommend tightening the law, he added.

A crackdown would follow three years of dithering by the Government after the downgrading of the drug in 2004 was followed rapidly by clear evidence of a negative impact.

Mr Brown has made it obvious that he is in favour of reversing the decision to downgrade the drug, made under his predecessor Tony Blair.

"I believe that if we are sending out a signal particularly to teenagers, and particularly those at the most vulnerable age, young teenagers, that we in any way find cannabis acceptable, given all that we now know about the changes in the way cannabis is being sold in this country, that is not the right thing to do.

"My personal view has been pretty well known for some time.

"Given the changing nature of the stock of cannabis that is coming into the country and greater damage that appears to be doing to people who use it, there is a stronger case for sending out a signal that cannabis is not only illegal but it is unacceptable."




Pubdate: Sun, 30 Mar 2008
Source: Milford Daily News, The (MA)
Copyright: 2008 The Milford Daily News
Author: Rick Holmes, Opinion editor

Now that we've settled the casino thing, anybody for a joint?

Marijuana decriminalization is the next hot-button social issue moving through the state Legislature. But unlike casino gambling, marijuana reform can't be stopped by House Speaker Sal DiMasi. If the Legislature doesn't enact it, voters will see it on the November ballot.

The initiative is simple. Possession of marijuana is now a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. A single joint can get you a criminal record, a CORI file that can keep you from getting housing or a job and that makes you ineligible for a student loan.

The initiative proposes reducing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100. The laws concerning manufacturing or trafficking in pot wouldn't change, nor would the law against driving under the influence of marijuana. Juveniles would be fined, sentenced to perform community service and attend a drug education course.

Sound radical? It isn't. Eleven states already consider possession a civil offense, including New York, Maine, Nevada and even Mississippi. In those places, lower penalties have been in place for as long as 30 years. Several studies could find no significant difference in marijuana use in those states as opposed to states with criminal penalties.

Decriminalization has public support, with 72 percent of respondents in a 2002 CNN/Time Magazine poll in favor of fines, but no jail time, for marijuana possession. Over the last eight years, non-binding decriminalization proposals have won voter approval in 30 Massachusetts legislative districts - with an average "Yes" vote of 62 percent.

But reefer madness persists in the dusty corners of the State House.

"I do not know a thing about this piece of legislation," Rep. Martin Walsh, D-Boston, told the Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the initiative earlier this month, "but it doesn't make sense. It's not good policy."




Pubdate: Wed, 2 Apr 2008
Source: Lismore Northern Star (Australia)
Copyright: APN News & Media Ltd 2008
Author: Andsy Parks

"Everybody get down on the ground." Those were the first words Nimbin resident Nurit heard when 50 police from across the State yesterday raided the Nimbin Museum, Hemp Embassy and Hemp Bar.

Eight people were arrested and police seized four kilograms of cannabis, as well as cannabis cookies and smoking implements.

Sydney-based police from the Public Order and Riot Squad, wearing bullet-proof jackets and protective pads, led the raids, along with officers from the Dog Unit and the Richmond, Tweed and Coffs Harbour Local Area Commands.

About six police four-wheel-drives, as well as an RBT bus, were used to transport the officers into town.

Nurit was inside the museum about 11.30am when the police arrived. She said the police grabbed her shoulders and forced her to the ground.

"They came out of nowhere," she said.

"I've never been so scared. I was treated like a terrorist.

"My first thought was that I was glad I didn't have my kid here - it was full on. I respect the law and if something is wrong I would go to the police, but this is unjustified. How much money and effort is being spent? It was scary."

Cafe owner and Hemp Embassy volunteer Andrew Kavasilas said police used saliva swabs on people inside the embassy to determine whether they had marijuana in their blood system.

"Busting people for pot in Nimbin is like shooting fish in a barrel," he said.




Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Timothy Egan

The travel writer and public television host, Rick Steves, is a certain kind of innocent abroad - benignly suburban to the core, with a bit of a paunch and the ever-quizzical look of someone who would try raw squid for breakfast and not complain about it.

At 52, he has spent a third of his adult life living out of a suitcase, ever in search of that bargain room with a view, encouraging his fellow Americans to become "temporary locals." His influence is vast and one of the reasons our citizens aren't more hated abroad in Bush's final days.

I was having lunch once in Vernazza, in the Italian Cinque Terre, watching waves of people pour into the tiny village to look for their serendipitous Stevesian encounter while clutching his guidebook. A sudden outburst came from my 7-year-old son: "Rick Steves has got to be stopped!"

Steves, who lives just north of Seattle, is packing his wrinkle-free clothes for his latest expedition to Europe. One can only hope customs will let him back in, for Steves has become a most unlikely voice on behalf of ending the tragedy of the drug war.

He looks at the 800,000 Americans arrested every year on marijuana charges and wonders why the waste of time, money and lives. Year after year, nothing changes, except the faces of those in jail. He thinks marijuana should be decriminalized, and that drug use in general should be treated primarily as a health issue - as the Canadians, the British, the Swiss and others do.

His views are not novel. But it's been fascinating to watch the reaction since Steves started speaking out on this. Sponsors of his television shows have hardly blinked. Cops and conservatives have told him how much they agree with him. And, less than a month ago, the Luther Institute gave Steves its annual Wittenberg Award, recognizing "outstanding service to church and society." Steves is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.




In Dubai, the outrage of the week: a Kenyan woman was sentenced to life in prison for selling .6 of a gram of hashish. People are regularly snared in this Gulf Oil Emirate when accused by police of possessing hundredths of a gram (a crumb) of cannabis.

While the Vancouver, Canada supervised-injection site may be on the cutting block, in Victoria, Canada, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall has joined calls for the city to set up a supervised injection center of its own.

A former member of the Vancouver police force, Tony Smith, now speaks out against same the drug prohibition laws he used to enforce before retiring. "Dealers are right outside the pawnshops taking the money for drugs.. If you're needing $200 for drugs, then you're going to need to steal around $2,000 worth of goods." Tony Smith now is a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), and argues that legalizing all drugs would actually lower crime.

In New Zealand, the party's over for benzylpiperazine (BZP) pills. As predicted, new, legal, "party pills" are now on sale there, and they pack a wallop. Trouble is, little research has been done on the new varieties. One manufacturer "whose BZP products were part of the clearout, will release more than 20 new varieties."


Pubdate: Mon, 31 Mar 2008
Source: Khaleej Times (UAE)
Copyright: 2008 Khaleej Times
Author: Mary Nammour

DUBAI -- The Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday sentenced a Kenyan woman, identified as S.H., 27, to life in prison followed by deportation for possession of hashish with the intent of trafficking.

According to court records, on August 20, 2007 the anti-narcotics unit in Dubai Police was tipped off about an African woman who was in possession of narcotics and was about to sell it to a source for Dh300.


A search carried out at her house revealed 0.61 grammes of hashish along with tools used by drug addicts. She also admitted having smoked hashish," a police officer testified.

The accused's urine sample showed traces of the drug.



Pubdate: Mon, 31 Mar 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Cindy Harnett, Canwest News Service

Arguments Will Be Made In A B.C. Medical Journal Editorial

At a time when the issue of injection drugs is at one of its most controversial in Victoria, the province's health officer and a prominent drug expert are making renewed calls for a supervised injection site in the city -- where addicts can inject and consume drugs.

"More so than ever before, it's probably time for concrete decisions and action on whether we want to take the step forward to at least to try and make this happen," said University of Victoria addictions researcher Benedikt Fischer in an interview.

"Every day that passes you have 2,000 people doing very unhealthy things to themselves and the community."

Fischer and B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall will make their argument in a B.C. Medical Journal editorial to be published Tuesday.

They say the sites are more critical in Victoria than ever before.


Supervised consumption sites were first established in Europe about 20 years ago, and now exist in about 15 countries, including Switzerland and Germany.

The only site in North America, called Insite, is located in the Downtown Eastside.

The facility provides high-risk street drug users -- such as those who inject drugs or smoke crack cocaine -- with a protected environment to prevent overdoses and clean equipment.

It also provides other support, including treatment referrals.

In Victoria, the sites have been identified as a way to bring drug users in off the street, and complement the city's needle exchange which gives users new equipment but nowhere to inject their drugs.



Pubdate: Fri, 28 Mar 2008
Source: Red Deer Advocate (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Red Deer Advocate
Author: Ashley Joannou

After 28 years on the Vancouver police force, Tony Smith believes the "war on drugs" is creating far more problems than it's solving.

During a 45-minute speech at the Alberta Harm Reduction Conference on Thursday, Smith argued legalizing all drugs would lower crime, and take control of the drug industry out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

The retired officer is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a non-profit organization of former judges, prosecutors, federal agents and police officers from around the world that argues that drugs should be legalized and taxed similar to alcohol.

A former member of the force's pawn shop squad, he told the crowd of about 350 people about a man who arrived at a Vancouver pawn shop still tearing the tags off stolen goods with his teeth.

"Dealers are right outside the pawnshops taking the money for drugs," he said. "If you're needing $200 for drugs, then you're going to need to steal around $2,000 worth of goods."




Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2008
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 The Dominion Post
Author: Anna Chalmers

BZP-laced party pills are off shelves from today but retailers say new stock, which is "just as good", will be in store by the weekend.

A ban on benzylpiperazine-based pills took effect at midnight, making any retailer selling the drugs from today liable for prosecution.


Party pill retailer Dan O'Neill said his Wellington store Herbal Heaven would be closed today, but would reopen by Friday with a new name and "ample" varieties. "Our [new] stuff will be just as good."


Christchurch manufacturer Wize Marketing, whose BZP products were part of the clearout, will release more than 20 new varieties, most imported.


Director Ross Bell said there was no information about what was in the new products, or their effects, and users' health could be compromised.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Pete Guiter at


The report below is a fascinating read from the Florida NGO Consultation. They did not invite drug policy reformers to participate in their forum, and the report below reflects their mindset. It was a completely different experience from the Vancouver NGO Consultation. (See )


Fighting the Advil menace, one strip search at a time

By Jacob Sullum


By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle

They won't give up -- Alaska Supreme Court hears oral argument in state's bid to overturn legal marijuana at home.


A new mini-documentary produced by Mike Gray,, of Common Sense for Drug Policy,, with assistance from Chuck Thomas and Tyler Smith of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative,


DEA agents put their lives in the hands of a drug and weapons trafficker turned informant as they mount an operation to burrow deep into Detroit's drug underworld. Each undercover buy and daring raid brings them one step closer to a deadly showdown with a violent drug kingpin.


An overview of Canada's federal medical cannabis policy and practice.

By Philippe Lucas, Vancouver Island Compassion Society

In response to a number of court challenges brought forth by Canadian patients who demonstrated that they benefited from the use of medicinal cannabis but remained vulnerable to arrest and persecution as a result of its status as a controlled substance, in 1999 Canada became the second nation in the world to initiate a centralized medicinal cannabis program. Over its six years of existence, this controversial program has been found unconstitutional by a number of courts, and has faced criticism from the medical establishment, law enforcement, as well as the patient/participants themselves.


By Ira Chernus

The strange nature of McCain's appeal is directly tied to the distractions of the unwinnable Iraq occupation and the "War on Drugs."


Century of Lies - 04/01/08 - Paul Wright

Mass Imprisonment extract from KUOW in Seattle featuring Paul Wright of Prison Legal News

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/02/08 - Drugs and Pregnancy

Pregnant Women, another casualty in the drug war with Dutch Chatenberg, Lynn Paltrow and Susan Boyd



We would like to invite consumers and carers to participate in our project developing first aid guidelines for problem drinking.

First aid for problem drinking is the help provided to a person developing a drinking problem or in an alcohol-related crisis (e.g. alcohol poisoning). The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves. At present, there are conflicting views about how to support a person with drinking problems. Thus, the aim of this project is to get consensus between experts (consumers, carers and clinicians) on the best way to help.

Once developed, the Guidelines will direct the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program. The MHFA training program was developed in 2000 in an attempt to provide basic knowledge to people on how to help someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties (see for more details). The course has been very well-received by the Australian public and has now been taught in Scotland, the USA, Hong Kong, Canada, Ireland, Finland, and the UK.

We are currently recruiting clinicians, consumers and carers to complete our survey.

See link below for more information.




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Mar 2008
Author: Jacqueline Patterson
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)

I was born with cerebral palsy and discovered early on that cannabis mitigated the most painful physical and emotional manifestations of my disorder. I later learned that cannabis can help stutterers speak more clearly and that decades ago, doctors discovered the herb's ability to alleviate muscle spasms, from which I also suffer.

A year ago my children and I reluctantly fled our home in Kansas City and headed for the sanctuary of California's Compassionate Use Act.

Although 12 states have enacted medical cannabis laws that protect patients against state penalties, patients in the remaining states risk losing their careers, their freedom and even their families because they use a natural, nontoxic medicine to treat illness rather than expensive and addictive pharmaceutical drugs.

Now that a bill to protect medical cannabis patients has been introduced in the General Assembly, Missouri has an opportunity to step up and do the right thing.

Patients all over the state are anxiously awaiting the assignment of House Bill 1830 to the Health and Public Policy Committee. Please contact House Speaker Rod Jetton and ask him to open his heart to Missouri medical cannabis patients so that they may stop living in pain, fear and misery.

Jacqueline Patterson,

Bolinas, Calif.



By Ted Barnes

The "wrong message" to send to any teenager, to any child, is hypocrisy. It turns them cynical and makes them disrespect the law, when trusted adults evade reality for the sake of political concerns.

The reality is that the inclusion of marijuana on the federal government's Schedule I list of controlled substances along with heroin and cocaine has always been a mistake. But the politicians' bogus "war on drugs" gets a boost from the illegality of marijuana. It is bulky, smelly and easy to detect. The "war on drugs" gets big results, big statistics, and therefore big budget and big media, from pot busts.

Marijuana is infinitely less harmful than all the other drugs, including legal alcohol. It has positive uses. It has the lowest profit margin in the underground economy. It is used recreationally by just about everybody at one time or another, without damaging results.

As a criminal defense lawyer for 27 years, I have dealt with thousands of people affected by drugs and alcohol. I have yet to find anyone who became physically addicted to marijuana, or who became aggressive and got into a fight after smoking it; or who burglarized a home or raped someone because the weed so affected their judgment. Mostly, people get mellow and hang out. At worst, they become unproductive. Danger, Will Robinson!

Teenagers do not know much and certainly a lot less than they think they do. But one thing they learn before they graduate from high school is that marijuana, aside from its illegality, is dramatically less harmful than alcohol. Yet in a few years, they can drink legally. Do you not see that disconnect? They do. The adults who are running things need to shake off their blinders and recognize that one of the two people next to them has used marijuana, maybe frequently, and nonetheless leads a productive life.

Those adults who use or have used marijuana need to muster the integrity to act on the reality they know, even if they cannot openly admit their use for fear of castigation by those who remain unyielding in their misperceptions.

I can imagine a state, a country, where a teenager admires the elected officials who discuss and debate issues intelligently, and without knee-jerk political posturing. That teenager respects the law, which leads to nothing but positive societal consequences because the law tracks with the reality he knows.

Billions of dollars could be taken out of the underground economy and made legitimate and subject to taxation. Thousands of drug police could focus on crimes where someone is actually victimized.

I have supported Gov. Lynch and probably will again. But his promise to veto this tiny bill ( unless he does so in favor of more sweeping decriminalization ) is a disservice to the people of this state. It is my hope that the members of the Senate approach the bill with confidence and grace.

Ted Barnes lives in Concord. This piece originally appeared in the Concord Monitor.

Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2008
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Monitor Publishing Company
Author: Ted Barnes


"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." - William Hazlitt

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