This Just In
(1)Bush Signs Into Law A Program That Gives Grants To Former Convicts
(2)Marijuana Foes See Through Smoke Screen
(3)House Panel Revives Bill On Medical Marijuana
(4)Bong Ban Will Harm Cannabis Smokers, Users And Experts Say

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 10 Apr 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer

President Bush yesterday reached across traditional political dividing lines to sign into law a broad program that provides federal grants for assistance to ex-convicts, pointing to his own struggle with alcohol addiction as an example of redemption.

The Second Chance Act represents a bit of accommodation by Bush during his final months in office, even as his relations with congressional Democrats continue to deteriorate over Iraq war policy, housing assistance and, as of yesterday, an apparently doomed Colombian trade agreement.

During a signing ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the president was flanked by lawmakers from both parties, including frequent foe John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), a key backer of the bill.

"We believe that even those who have struggled with a dark past can find brighter days ahead," Bush said in his remarks, which included numerous references to renewal and a brief mention of his own vow years ago to quit drinking.

The new law has broad support among prisoner advocacy groups, liberal criminal-justice organizations, and many Democrats who otherwise differ with Bush or his policies. It grew out of at least five years of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, partly about the participation of religious organizations in counseling financed by Washington, according to administration officials, lawmakers and others involved in the process.

The law would provide $326 million in grants to local governments and nonprofit groups for various programs aimed at departing or former convicts, including housing and medical assistance, drug treatment and employment services. Appropriations for the grants still await approval by Congress and Bush, however.


Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said she supports the prisoner reentry initiative, but she hopes that Bush will also begin focusing on easing sentencing policies that have led to record incarceration rates.

"If we're concerned [about] people coming out of prison, maybe we should think about how many people are going to prison in the first place," Stewart said. "This is the back end of the problem. We need to look at the front end."




Pubdate: Fri, 11 Apr 2008
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2008 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Author: Mark Melady, Telegram & Gazette Staff

William T. Breault, head of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety, called efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana "a cynical dopey smoke screen" to cover "the real agenda, an attempt to derail current effective drug laws."

"We want to put a bright light on this," said Mr. Breault, a longtime opponent of decriminalization as well as needle exchange, who helped to defeat a medical marijuana ballot question in 2000. "We think this is not about decriminalization, it's about eventual legalization given who's put up most of the money."

He referred to George Soros, the billionaire who has contributed millions of dollars nationwide over the years to change marijuana laws. Mr. Soros contributed $400,000 of the $429,000 raised for the 2008 initiative in Massachusetts.

"He's got a right to push for his ideas, but we're going to put the statistical data out there that we have," Mr. Breault said. "We don't want this thing decided by the Sugar Daddy of the legalization movement."

Mr. Breault said his group plans a statewide campaign modeled after the successful 2000 effort, to fight this year's ballot question, which would make possession of less than an ounce of cannabis a civil offense.

"We've sent letters to 250 police departments, all the district attorneys, the attorney general, the secretary of state, 48 mayors and we're going to be in contact with individual councilors in cities all over the state," he said. "We'll be telling chambers of commerce that decriminalization is bad for business. We'll be talking to Rotary Clubs, the Boy Scouts -- everybody."

Proponents of decriminalization say recreational marijuana use is not connected to hard drug addiction, while conviction can trail a person for life and negatively affect job opportunities, the ability to borrow money and even to rent an apartment.

Decriminalization would save the state more than $150 million in police, prosecution, court and incarceration costs, according to two studies done by Harvard professor Jeffrey A. Miron in 2002 and 2005.

By Mr. Miron's estimation, getting small possession arrests out of the criminal system would save $53.9 million in police costs, $68.4 million in court costs, $7.95 million in prison costs and $24.3 million on the administrative aspects of arrests, including booking.

The ballot initiative would make possession of less than an ounce punishable by a $100 fine, require attendance in a drug awareness program and parental notification for offenders under 18.

Mr. Breault dismissed Mr. Miron's studies, saying "they were bought and paid for by the legalization movement."

He said today's marijuana is four times more potent than the weed of 30 years ago and the Supreme Court has twice turned back efforts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Apr 2008
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2008 Star Tribune
Author: Mark Brunswick, Star Tribune

A bill that would allow some patients in Minnesota to use medical marijuana was resurrected on Wednesday.

The bill, which passed the House Ways and Means Committee easily, would not legalize marijuana. But it would allow patients who qualify to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and to receive similar amounts on a regular basis from groups set up to dispense the drug.

The measure passed the Minnesota Senate last year but did not receive a House vote.

The effort to have medical marijuana approved in Minnesota has been more than 10 years in the making and most recently has seen growing support among Republicans who previously might have been expected to oppose to it.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty has sympathized with objections to the proposal from law-enforcement groups, and spokesman Brian McClung reiterated on Wednesday that he would veto a bill if it does not contain provisions that are palatable to the law-enforcement community.

The state measure would be in conflict with federal law, which makes the possession of marijuana illegal. Doctors would recommend medical marijuana to patients but would not actually prescribe it under the bill. Twelve other states have medical-marijuana laws. Similar bills are now under consideration in Illinois and New York, and an initiative is expected to appear on Michigan's November ballot.



Pubdate: Fri, 11 Apr 2008
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 Advertiser Newspapers Ltd
Author: Tory Shepherd, Health Reporter

THE Rann Government's ban on bongs will not stop drug use and could have dangerous flow-on effects on the health of pot smokers, according to users and experts.

The State Government last night passed tough new laws so anyone selling cannabis bongs or drug implements will face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail.

The laws cover the sale of implements such as hookahs, bongs, cocaine kits and pipes used to smoke deadly crystal methamphetamine, otherwise known as ice.

One local drug expert, pharmacology associate professor Rodney Irvine, said users will seek other ways to inhale smoke and that could be more dangerous.

"When you close one loophole another one emerges, a different pattern of use emerges," he said

"They'll make them out of anything, obviously.

"I would say that there's a possibility those alternative homemade ones will have some problems."





Federal prosecutors are challenging free speech rights in Kansas; in Arkansas, legislators want to drug test welfare recipients; an exploitation video passes for education at a North Carolina University; and the mainstream press celebrates the continued funding of the Monitoring the Future study, unfortunately without noting the study's long-term implication that the drug war simply doesn't work.


Pubdate: Sat, 05 Apr 2008
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2008 The Topeka Capital-Journal

WICHITA -- Federal prosecutors asked a federal judge Friday to issue a gag order to silence a Haysville physician and his wife indicted for operating a "pill mill" linked to at least 56 overdose deaths.

In court papers, the U.S. attorney's office asked for a restraining order to keep physician Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, from talking to the media. Prosecutors also asked that the judge extend that order to include the Schneiders' family members and Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network, a patient advocacy group.

Lawrence Williamson, the doctor's defense attorney, said he opposes the government motion.

"We strongly oppose a gag order because we believe in the public's access to the justice system," Williamson said. "We think the request is overbroad and not supported by law at all."




Pubdate: Tue, 8 Apr 2008
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR)
Copyright: 2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.
Author: Michael R. Wickline

Two legislative committees authorized on Monday a study prior to the 2009 legislative session of a proposal to require recipients of certain public assistance to undergo random drug testing in order to continue receiving assistance.

Those who failed a drug test would have to successfully complete a one-year drug treatment program approved by the state Department of Human Services and remain drug-free during the program.

The proposal was submitted by Rep. Frank Glidewell and Sen. Denny Altes, both Republicans from Fort Smith.

The public assistance "shall be discontinued" if the person fails to complete the drug treatment program or fails to remain drug-free in the program.

The state would be required to seek any federal government approvals needed to implement the proposal's provisions.

The House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committees OK'd the study with no discussion, debate or questions.




Pubdate: Thu, 3 Apr 2008
Source: East Carolinian (NC Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The East Carolinian
Author: Kimberly Bellamy

National Pan-Hellenic Council Sponsors Educational Event

Students got the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of individuals suffering from drug addictions through a documentary called "Crack Heads Gone Wild."

Crack Heads Gone Wild was also the title of the program in which the documentary was shown.

The program allowed the audience to view the movie and then engage in a panel discussion with representatives from the ECU Police Department and Student Health Services.

The event began at 6 p.m. with a welcome from Sheree Hawthorne, president of National Pan-Hellenic Council ( NPHC ).

The event was sponsored by NPHC, which includes eight of the nine historically African American Greek organizations. ECU doesn't have a chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

Shawntee McMillan of Student Health Services followed Hawthorne by giving statistics about the introduction and evolution of cocaine and averages of cocaine usage among college students.

About 8 percent of college students have tried cocaine, according to statistics from 2005-2006 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy Web site.




Pubdate: Sun, 6 Apr 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
Author: David N. Goodman, Associated Press

Researchers Given $33 Million Grant to Continue Useful Task

Hamburg Township, Mich. -- President Nixon may not have dented the nation's drug epidemic when he named Elvis Presley a "federal agent at large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in 1970.

But a $120 million research program born during the Nixon administration continues to shape America's drug policies.

And it all started with a 33-year-old psychology graduate student's bold plan to poll thousands of teens nationwide each year about their drug habits and beliefs at a time when reefer madness had them in its grip.

Lloyd Johnston, now 67, still runs that study from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. His group recently was awarded a $33 million National Institute on Drug Abuse grant to continue through 2012.

"It's just unparalleled in its importance in our field," said Tom Hendrick, founding director of the Partnership for a Drug Free America - the group created the iconic TV ads showing a frying egg and a narrator who says, "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"

The study owes its birth to Nixon drug czar Dr. Robert DuPont, who read Johnston's 1973 book "Drugs and American Youth" and invited the research assistant to Washington to brief his staff. Johnston pitched DuPont the idea he and colleague Jerald Bachman dreamed up of asking teens across the country about their drug, alcohol and tobacco habits and attitudes.




It's failure everywhere you look as law enforcement applies itself to the drug war. In Florida, police have been burned after relying on a sleazy informant. In New York, big conspiracy cases against alleged drug gangs have fizzled. In Tennessee, fewer meth labs are being shut down, but authorities say there's still plenty operating. A huge blitz to blow what's left of Byrne Grant money rounds up a lot of little fish. And, one financial success story: the prison industrial complex.


Pubdate: Tue, 08 Apr 2008
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Tribune Co.
Author: Thomas W. Krause, Tampa Tribune Reporter

TAMPA - A man with felony convictions stole motorcycles, conspired to traffic in drugs and made violent threats against his girlfriend - all while he was paid thousands of dollars a month as a confidential informant for the FBI and Tampa Police Department, according to a judge's ruling released Monday.

Calling into question law enforcement tactics and Luis "Danny" Agosto's credibility, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet threw out racketeering and conspiracy charges against 23 defendants in the investigation of a suspected Tampa faction of the Latin Kings street gang.

Although defense attorneys argued prosecutorial misconduct, Sleet said he saw no evidence that the state attorney's office advocated, directed or concealed any wrongdoing.

Instead, Sleet used his 42-page written order to turn his ire toward law enforcement and the crimes of the 30-year-old informant.

"Rather than terminating their relationship with him, law enforcement excused these crimes and continued to employ his services and paid his monthly expenses," Sleet wrote. "Dismissal is an extreme sanction; however an extreme sanction is warranted to punish extreme conduct."

Lyann Goudie, a defense attorney for one of the defendants, wrote the 114-page document requesting that Sleet drop the charges. On Monday she congratulated Sleet for his tough decision.

"Most of these defendants should not have been charged at all," she said.

More than 50 people were arrested in the investigation. Many defendants had family members post bail bonds for large sums of money. Others have been jailed since their arrest 1 1/2 years ago.




Pubdate: Sun, 6 Apr 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Michael Brick

It was a big show of force: 60 people under arrest, 5 gangs vanquished, more than 200 criminal charges, a $1.5 million narcotics enterprise shattered and an urban village of 3,500 liberated.

The 2002 raid on the sprawling Cypress Hills housing project in East New York, said Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, shut down "a historic conspiracy."

His choice of words signaled an aggressive change in prosecution tactics. Prosecutors planned to file felony conspiracy charges. That approach, long used against Mafia suspects, could produce sentences unheard of among the housing project's pushers, lookouts and addicts: life in prison.

Again and again in the years to come, similar raids concentrated on housing projects in Coney Island, Fort Greene and East New York. The numbers peaked with the arrest of more than 140 people at the Red Hook Houses in 2006. Nearly all the defendants were charged with first-degree conspiracy, their bail set at $100,000, sometimes $1 million. Tenant associations and community boards lavished praise on the district attorney.

But soon, the strategy stumbled at the courthouse steps.

Judges rebuked the prosecution tactics. Juries rejected the conspiracy charges.

And after six years, eight major operations and more than 500 arrests, no one has been convicted of first-degree conspiracy. Instead, many defendants have spent a year or more on Rikers Island, awaiting trials that in the end never come. Typically, they plead guilty to lesser crimes, are sentenced to time served and then are released.




Pubdate: Thu, 3 Apr 2008
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2008 Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Jacqueline Koch

Methamphetamine lab seizures have fallen statewide in the last four years, and officials say many factors -- from tougher laws and better education to meth makers who are more wary -- contributed to the decline.

Since 2004, when Tennessee had nearly 1,600 meth labs seized, seizures decreased to 583 in 2007, according to the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force.

The statistics do not mean the fight against meth will wane, said Larry C. Black, commander of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Task Force serving Walker, Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade counties.

"We feel like meth is still a plague on our society," Mr. Black said. "We still have a lot of people that are cooking meth and getting better educated."

Smarter meth makers in Tennessee and Georgia are finding new ways to evade law enforcement officials, he said. Clandestine operations that are more difficult to detect also cause a drop in seizures, Mr. Black said.

"What's happened is they're getting harder to catch," he said. "There's still a tremendous amount of meth being made."




Pubdate: Mon, 07 Apr 2008
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2008 The Huntsville Times
Author: Jim Henderson

One-Day Raids Seized 24 Meth Labs In State

On March 5, 2008, 41 states participated in a nationwide arrest roundup of drug violators, called "Operation Byrne Blitz."

The name is in reference to the federally funded Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant that not only funds vital drug task forces across the nation, but also Drug Courts and rehabilitation programs.

The roundup targeted drug dealers in rural and urban neighborhoods, not addicts or users. This operation was planned and coordinated at the national level by the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies in partnership with the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition.

Nationally, the operation resulted in the arrests of 4,220 individuals on drug-related charges, the seizure of 20,851 pounds of marijuana, 886 marijuana plants, 1,749 pounds of cocaine, 120 pounds of methamphetamine, 6,973 pharmaceutical pills, 13,244 ecstasy pills and a variety of other drugs.

Also seized were 666 firearms and $13.4 million in U.S. currency. Most importantly, 228 children were determined to be endangered and those cases were referred to their respected child protection agencies.

In Alabama, nineteen Byrne-JAG drug task forces participated on the operation. The roundup resulted in the arrest of 286 persons, seizures of 1,872 grams of methamphetamine oil, 205.7 grams of methamphetamine, 101 grams of cocaine, 60.7 grams of crack cocaine, 13,987 grams of marijuana, 11 firearms, numerous stolen property and $25,013.00 in U.S. currency.

Also, 36 search warrants were executed. Again, most importantly in the operation was the discovery of 15 endangered children who were referred to the Department of Human Resources.

One striking statistic in this one-day operation is the seizure of 105 meth labs nationally. This number includes 24 meth labs in Alabama alone.




Pubdate: Sun, 6 Apr 2008
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Tribune Co.
Author: Ronald Fraser

In Florida's booming prison economy, there are winners and losers. Inmates face financial ruin and state taxpayers lose too - about $17,000 per year, per inmate. Prison entrepreneurs, for whom each inmate is a government subsidized business opportunity, are the big winners.

Growing nationally by 3.4 percent a year for the past 10 years, federal, state and local prisons hold 2.3 million inmates - one half of whom are nonviolent and small-time drug offenders. In 2006 prison populations went up in 41 states, including 3,201 new inmates in Florida. From 2000-2005, the state's prison population grew at a steady 4.7 percent per year.

Florida's annual taxpayer contribution for state prisons, $2.5 billion in 2005 and rising, keeps the prison market hot. Here is how that money is used to exploit the losers and enrich the winners:

Public Jobs. Of the 720,000 state and local corrections employees in the United States in 2005, 43,657 worked in Florida guarding 148,521 inmates. That means for every four new inmates locked up in Florida, one new corrections job follows. That is good news for job seekers but bad news for the four inmates who actually create each new job.

Private Profiteers. A new book by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, "Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration," tells how the prison gravy train actually works. In addition to supplying food, clothing and medical care, private companies profit in other less-visible ways.




Some local governments in California are still making a mess of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, attempting to return the paste to the tube.

The government of New South Wales is introducing legislation that will legalize and regulate industrial hemp cultivation.

GW Pharmaceuticals suffered a setback last week with disappointing results from final phase clinical trials of its cannabis-based medicine, Sativex.

The U.S. Forest Service intends to field unmanned "robo-planes" to locate cannabis fields in remote wilderness areas, but as one retired official pointed out, the Forest Service has never lacked intelligence ... so to speak. "Our problem is we don't have enough officers to take them down." One wonders what counter-measures growers will deploy.


Pubdate: Wed, 9 Apr 2008
Source: Daily Triplicate, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Western Communications, Inc.
Author: Nicholas Grube, Triplicate staff writer

It was like a town hall meeting in the movies.

Citizens packed the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors chambers Tuesday, spilling into the hallways waiting for their chance to speak on a proposal to greatly reduce the amount of medical marijuana people can grow and possess.

"It's not enough," one man yelled from the crowd.

"What about the meth?" asked a woman.

"This will force us to get it from the streets," someone said.

Amid the interjections, both residents and law enforcement officials addressed the board--some receiving applause for their comments, others getting scoffs and laughter.

Today, the county's medical marijuana guidelines allow a person to cultivate up to 99 plants in a 100-square-foot area and possess up to 1 pound of processed pot. The county wants to reduce these numbers to six mature plants and 4 ounces.

Many at the meeting said the new proposal is too strict, and, in at least one sense, they were right.

Del Norte County's attorney, Dohn Henion, said the county cannot set limits on medical marijuana possession that are less than what the state allows, which is six mature plants and 8 ounces.

"We are prohibited from going less than that," Henion said, specifically commenting on the 8 ounces.

The county will now try to come up with a new set of rules that comply with state laws. As a result of the meeting, affected medical marijuana patients and growers will now be included in this discussion.




Pubdate: Wed, 9 Apr 2008
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Ben Cubby, Environment Reporter

THE NSW Government has turned over a new leaf after decades of opposing commercial cannabis, revealing plans for a new scheme to grow the plant on an industrial scale.

It will introduce legislation in weeks to allow farms to grow hemp, the fibres and oil of which can be used in food and clothes, biofuels and skin-care products.

The state's first legal hemp crop has been approved by police and will contain only tiny amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound that some people smoke for recreation. It will be planted later this year, with farmers no longer needing their licences to be approved by the NSW Health Department.

"Industrial hemp fibre produced here in NSW could pave the way for the establishment of a new viable industry that creates and sells textiles, cloth and building products made from locally grown industrial hemp," said the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, who will oversee the licences for the new crop.

"There is growing support from the agricultural sector for the development of such a new industry. This is a direct result of the environmentally friendly nature of industrial hemp and a perceived interest for hemp products in the market."




Pubdate: Wed, 9 Apr 2008
Source: Independent (UK)
Author: Alistair Dawber

Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals lost more than a quarter of their value yesterday after the announcement that a trial of its cannabis-based drug Sativex had failed its final phase of testing.

The trial is one of three the company is undertaking to assess the suitability of cannabis as an effective treatment for combating multiple sclerosis and relieving pain for cancer sufferers.

The bad results announced yesterday, which centred on a mouth spray form of the drug used to relieve neuropathic pain among MS sufferers, caused the group's share price to tumble to 52p, down 19.5p or 27 per cent.

However, analysts covering the pharmaceutical sector stressed that it does not mean the end for Sativex. The results were due to an unexpectedly large placebo effect among some of the patients in the trial, which the company said it had only become aware of during testing.

About half of the patients treated with Sativex saw a 30 per cent improvement in pain relief, according to a scoring system. However, to show the trial had worked, the company was required not only to demonstrate that the drug actually reduced pain, but also that it was more effective than a placebo. The trail results showed that nearly half of the placebo group that had not received Sativex also enjoyed a 30 per cent pain improvement.

According to Justin Gover, GW Pharmaceutical's managing director, the drop in share price was an over-reaction by the market. "The results are certainly unfortunate," he said. "But all our testing shows that this treatment works and is effective. With the way the market is at present, any negative news does not go down well with investors."




Pubdate: Fri, 4 Apr 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Chris Bowman

The federal government plans to escalate its eradication of marijuana plantations in the backwoods of national forests this year, beginning in California with the deployment of larger strike teams and the controversial launching of miniature, remote-controlled spy planes to outfox growers, a top Bush administration official said Thursday.

Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said an increasing number of pot growers financed by Mexican drug cartels are taking cover in the forest, particularly in the southern Sierra Nevada.

"We believe there are as many of them working marijuana gardens on national forests in California as there are Forest Service employees in the state - upwards of 5,000," said Rey, who oversees the agency.

According to Rey, the administration decided to disclose the planned surge in forest surveillance after The Bee and Associated Press persisted in questioning U.S. Forest Service officials about a $100,000 purchase of two battery-powered "unmanned aerial vehicles."

"We wanted to (clarify) what they are being used for, and what they aren't being used for," Rey said. "Random hunters aren't being spied on by their government."

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit group representing whistle-blowers in government, called attention to the robo-planes earlier this week as Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell appeared before two U.S. Senate committees to justify the agency's annual budget request.

"A cash-starved Forest Service is buying glitzy hardware with zero justification," the group's director, Jeff Ruch, said in a press release, adding that "the use of spy technology in the domestic U.S. should not be undertaken lightly."




Though opium poppies are grown ornamentally in Canada, and though alkaloid containing poppy-seeds may be purchased in bulk in grocery stores across North America, Gurdev Samra, a senior citizen in Calgary, Canada earned the title of the "first person in Canada to be convicted" of poppy-growing. For some reason, the judge found the 63-year-old's poppy-flower-tea to be "completely offensive to the community. A loud message has to be sent." Gurdev's tea was something he had taken "since he was a youngster in India."

In the province of British Columbia, Canada, the city of Victoria is scheduled to begin handing out sterile crack pipe kits to area crack users in a bid to keep a lid on the transmission of Hep C and other diseases spread by the sharing of dirty crack pipes. The pipes will be distributed by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

When the convicted drug "gangster" Omid Tahvili escaped jail last year in B.C., Canada, he had some inside help from a prison guard. This week, the guard, Edwin Ticne, plead guilty to a list of charges in connection with the escape. Canadian prisons have recently come under scrutiny for rampant drug use by prisoners.

In Northern Ireland, freedom of information requests have revealed that about 12% of those tested for drugs in prison had some illegal drugs in their system. Not to worry, forced drug testing - as the government does in England and Wales - that will help, according to the government, as will sniffer dogs. Still, in a frank admission, the government acknowledged, "it is impossible, without imposing the most draconian measures, to prevent drugs being smuggled into prisons altogether".


Pubdate: Wed, 09 Apr 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun

CALGARY -- Gurdev Samra's garden of opium poppies once offered him a euphoric cup of tea, but this week, it made him the first person in Canada to be convicted of growing the illicit plant.

Samra, 63, was handed a one-year conditional sentence after pleading guilty to growing 1,200 opium poppy plants at his home on Eldorado Close N.E., which was busted by police last July.

The judge took a dim view of the poppy garden, despite the fact cultivation of the plants was for personal use in tea, which Samra had done since he was a youngster in India.

"Clearly, there is no place in Canadian society for growth of this product," Provincial Court Judge William Cummings said. "It is completely offensive to the community. A loud message has to be sent."




Pubdate: Fri, 04 Apr 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist

Crack-pipe components could be distributed to the capital region's approximate 500 hard-core crack-cocaine smokers and 1,200 casual users by this summer, according to the chief medical health officer of the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Dr. Richard Stanwick will first answer more questions by regional polticians about the cost and effectiveness of the harm-reduction program, which has been mandated by the province.




Pubdate: Wed, 9 Apr 2008
Source: Coquitlam Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008Lower Mainland Publishing Group, Inc.
Author: Simone Blais

A Port Coquitlam prison guard has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and accepting a bribe as an officer for his involvement in springing a notorious Persian crime boss from jail in November.

Edwin Ticne, 35, appeared briefly in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Friday to enter the pleas in connection with the escape of Omid Tahvili -- a gangster convicted of kidnapping and torturing a man for $350,000 in drug money -- from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre on Nov. 15.




Pubdate: Mon, 07 Apr 2008
Source: News Letter (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Johnston Press PLC

Prisoners failed almost 600 drug tests in Northern Ireland jails last year - with a further 400 inmates refusing to undertake the voluntary testing.

They were discovered to have taken a range of illegal substances, including cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, opiates, non-prescribed tranquillisers and sedatives such as diazepam.

In addition, there were almost 1,800 drug finds made across Northern Ireland's three prisons in the past five years, including 400 last year.

The figures, released under Freedom of Information legislation, have led to calls for tougher measures to be brought in to tackle the problem.

Policing Board member Peter Weir said security at Northern Ireland jails - which currently house approximately 1,000 sentenced prisoners and another 470 on remand - had to be reviewed.

"The amount of drugs getting into prisons is deeply disturbing," he said.

The North Down DUP MLA added: "I think most people would find the figures fairly shocking."

Some 580 drugs tests were failed across the Province's three prisons - Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood - during 2007. That amounts to 12 per cent of the total 5,007 tests conducted for drugs.

A Northern Ireland Prison Service spokesman said: "We take very seriously the problem of drug abuse and use a system of voluntary drug testing as part of the progressive regimes which operate in all establishments."


"Whereas it is impossible, without imposing the most draconian measures, to prevent drugs being smuggled into prisons altogether we are satisfied that the problem is being tackled effectively," said the spokesman.

"That is not to say we will not continue to seek ways to eradicate the abuse of drugs within prisons in Northern Ireland altogether.

"Prisons reflect the community they serve and the service is very aware of the growing drugs culture in society.

"The number of prisoners who fail drugs tests is symptomatic of this problem," the spokesman added.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Tony Newman, Huffington Post

Whaddya know? As soon as CA schools started banning candy, students started dealing it on the "underground market" at a marked up price.


Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/09/08 - Donald Tashkin

From the International Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics: Dr. Donald Tashkin & Dr. Donald Abrams.

Century of Lies - 04/08/08 - Richard Lee

Reporting from the International Cannabis Therapeutics Convention in Monterey California with Richard Lee, Dr. Steve Hosea, Professor Joe White, Don Duncan of ASA, Jeff Jones and Nurse Francis Deforest


A short film produced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union on the struggle of the Bolivian people for legal coca.


By Arianna Huffington


Cannabis can be very bad for your health, but especially so when it is contaminated with glass beads or, as is reported in the the April 10th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, with lead - causing 29 cases of lead poisoning in the Leipzig area of Germany, 16 of them emergency admissions.


The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has launched a multimedia public-education campaign on the country's marijuana laws and all their impact on taxpayers, communities and those arrested. As part of this effort, travel guru Rick Steves hosts this infomercial-style panel discussion produced by the Washington ACLU.



The Marijuana Policy Project has two full-time jobs and two internships available in their Washington, D.C. headquarters.

For all positions, please visit for full job descriptions, salary information, and instructions on how to apply.



By Herb Couch

Yes, let's stop marijuana grow-ops from stealing power from you and me. The best way to accomplish this would be to immediately legalize and regulate marijuana.

Prohibition did not stop alcohol use and it does not stop marijuana production.

Let's send the correct message to our young people. We will no longer allow prohibition to make organized crime rich at our expense. There will be huge financial savings for society by ending the war on pot.

That money would be better used to make sure that there is adequate educational funding for all students in B.C.

Herb Couch, Nelson

Pubdate: Tue, 8 Apr 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)


DrugSense recognizes Loretta Nall of Alexander City, Alabama for her six letters published during March which brings her total published letters that we know of up to 45. Loretta maintains her activist blog at

In addition to letters, Loretta has had some OPEDs published. You may read both the letters and OPEDs at:


Assessing 75 Years With Legal Beer  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

On April 7, 1933, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt partially repealed alcohol prohibition.

That day 75 years ago wasn't a time for hard liquor drinkers to celebrate yet (at least for those who obeyed the law); only beer became formally regulated that day. But it was a chink in the wall the led to the eventual collapse of an institution that had wrecked havoc on the country.

I imagine at the time, there were prohibitionists who predicted the collapse of society. It did not come.

And now today, as we continue to take halting steps toward drug policy reform, it important to remember both that fact, and, another. The change came at a quick pace once it really started, but it had to start in smaller steps.

The prohibitionist policies we have today are more complex - they are a web of federal, state and local laws that reinforce each other in ways that are difficult to unravel. But, slowly through the work of activists specializing in different areas of the law, the policies are slowly becoming unraveled.

So celebrate with a beer sometime this week, if you are an adult who enjoys that sort of thing.

And then get ready to get to focus on the problems again as we approach another significant date in the United States: April 15.

As the government sends back that tiny fraction of the taxes you've paid this year (or if you're unlucky, demands more), think about how much you labor you've expended over the past 12 months to support the drug war, whether you wanted to or not.

Today, many state and local governments couldn't run without the revenue they generate from legal alcohol sales. And of course, it makes much more sense to draw public revenue from alcohol than it does to spend public revenue in efforts to stamp it out.

People understood that 75 years ago with regard to beer. Many today are starting to see it with cannabis.

Some are starting to see it with other drugs. There will be a time when the end of drug prohibition is just an anniversary to be celebrated, but there will be more than a few small steps, and less notable anniversaries, on the way.

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly.


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