This Just In
(1)Police Will Not Enforce New Cannabis Policy
(2)Veteran Lauds Court School Search Not Lawful
(3)Mayor's Letter Calls For Hearings Of DEA
(4)School Nurses Get Training To Spot Drug Use

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2008
Source: Evening Standard (London, UK)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Nicholas Cecil

Most people caught with cannabis will still be let off with a caution despite Gordon Brown's tougher stance on the drug, it was reported today.

The Prime Minister's determination to send a clear message on the danger of cannabis appeared to be undermined by police chiefs insisting they will continue to "confiscate and warn" in cases of simple possession.

Chief constables are also discussing whether fixed penalty fines should be handed out to cannabis offenders.

Mr Brown has signalled that he will reverse the downgrading to class C, which happened four years ago under his predecessor Tony Blair. He feels so strongly that he is understood to be ready to ignore the recommendation of an expert panel of advisers not to return cannabis to class B.

Nearly six out of 10 cases of cannabis possession used to be dealt with by arrest and formal caution before it was downgraded. But police chiefs are not expected to return to such a practice, blamed for wasting thousands of officers' hours that could be spent on other crime-fighting duties.

The Association of Chief Police Officers told the Guardian: "The key will be the discretion for officers to strike the right balance. We do not want to criminalise young people who are experimenting."




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Source: La Crosse Tribune (WI)
Copyright: 2008 The La Crosse Tribune
Author: Jo Anne Kileen, and Anne Jungen

Crime-prevention programs such as DARE - Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education - could take a hit in funding with a change in how citations can be paid.

A new law became effective March 27 that repeals the ability of judges to force a defendant or make a contribution to a crime-prevention organization as an alternative to sentencing or judgment.

In a letter to municipal court judges, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin stated, "Although the organizations that receive the funds are often valuable to the community, this funding mechanism creates the potential for inappropriate prosecutorial charging decisions, the appearance of fundraising or favoritism by the judges and a general perception by the public that favorable outcomes in criminal cases can be bought by defendants who can afford them."

According to Pam Sharp, administrative manager for the Onalaska Police Department, the forfeitures paid to DARE in Onalaska were a significant part of the revenue sources. In addition to those funds, the city has community fundraisers and applies for grants as other sources of revenue.

"Right now, because of (the new law), we won't get those contributions," Sharp said. "It has the potential to be a major blow to the program. We'll have to be creative and put alternative proposals before the finance committee and city council."




Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2008
Source: Daily Californian, The (UC Berkeley, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Californian
Author: Jessica Kwong

In a move reflecting the city's supportive stance as a sanctuary for medical marijuana, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wrote a letter last Thursday urging the federal government to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from intervening with the work of dispensaries.

Bates wrote the letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers calling for congressional hearings about letters the agency sent in 2007 that threatened landlords renting to medical marijuana dispensaries.

The landlords of dispensaries, three of which are in Berkeley, were threatened with property forfeiture or criminal prosecution.

"This is really a back-door way to try to eliminate access to medical marijuana," said Julie Sinai, chief of staff to Bates. "We want Congressman Conyers to call for hearings to get the (agency) to focus on issues of hard drug use and serious drug offenses instead of targeting medical marijuana dispensaries." Ad: Daily Cal News Blog

Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access, said the agency has raided upwards of 100 dispensaries across California since June 2005-with more than 50 occurring in 2007 alone-forcing many to close.

The agency's threatening letters led the City Council to pass a resolution on Jan. 29 declaring Berkeley a sanctuary for medical marijuana patients and dispensaries.


Bates' letter is the fifth in a string of requests already sent to Conyers by the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood.

"It's good to see that local and regional leadership is all on the same page on this issue," said Michael Hunt, spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. "It's the responsibility of the state and local governments to uphold the will of voters and adopt sensible guidelines to regulate the provision of medical cannabis in our communities."




Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2008
Source: Islington Gazette (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Archant Regional

SCHOOL nurses are being trained to spot whether children as young as four are high on drugs, the Gazette has learned.

All school nurses in Islington are now being taught to spot whether youngsters are under the influence of illegal drugs like cannabis, ecstasy or LSD. Even primary school nurses are given the training before starting work with pupils as young as four.

A further programme of drug training is due this summer to make sure school nurses are better prepared to spot signs of drug use.

Education bosses say it is a shame it has come to this - but that parents should feel reassured.

Councillor Ursula Woolley, executive member for children and young people, said: "It is a difficult issue. But we should be proud to know there are health professionals looking after our children. We all know what a social problem drugs are and it is important to have nurses with these skills."

She continued: "When we think of school nurses we think of nit nurses and jabs, but it's a good thing that the PCT are concerned. I think parents would be sorry it is needed but delighted it is provided."





Ah, the ironies of prohibition. A California brewer won't be allowed to use the phrase "Try Legal Weed" on his new beer, as federal alcohol regulators prohibit "drug references" on alcohol products. Thank goodness - we certainly wouldn't want any beer drinkers exposed to drug references.

In Wisconsin, DARE takes another funding hit, as a new law prohibits forced contributions to advocacy groups as part of court sentencing. Also last week, a North Carolina newspaper takes a hard look at one long drug sentence, and asks if the ends justify the means; while an Ohio town enacts a new law that will punish people who sell houses without disclosing that the houses had been used for meth labs.


Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
Author: Juliet Williams, Associated Press

Sacramento -- Vaune Dillmann thought the wording on his bottle caps was just a clever play on the name of the Siskiyou County town where he brews his beer - Weed.

Federal alcohol regulators thought differently. They have ordered Dillmann to stop selling beer bottles with caps that read "Try Legal Weed."

The dispute started in February when Dillmann sent the proposed label for his latest beer, Lemurian Lager, to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for approval. The agency, which regulates the industry, asked for some changes to the label, along with a sample bottle cap.

Dillmann obliged, sending the caps he has been using for his five current beers.

The agency responded that the message on the caps amounted to a drug reference. In a letter explaining its decision, the agency said the wording could "mislead consumers about the characteristics of the alcoholic beverage."

Dillmann scoffs at the notion that his label has anything to do with smoking pot.

"I've never tried marijuana in my life," he told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I don't advocate that. It's just our town's name."




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Source: La Crosse Tribune (WI)
Copyright: 2008 The La Crosse Tribune
Author: Jo anne Kileen, and Anne Jungen

Crime-prevention programs such as DARE - Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education - could take a hit in funding with a change in how citations can be paid.

A new law became effective March 27 that repeals the ability of judges to force a defendant or make a contribution to a crime-prevention organization as an alternative to sentencing or judgment.

In a letter to municipal court judges, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin stated, "Although the organizations that receive the funds are often valuable to the community, this funding mechanism creates the potential for inappropriate prosecutorial charging decisions, the appearance of fundraising or favoritism by the judges and a general perception by the public that favorable outcomes in criminal cases can be bought by defendants who can afford them."

According to Pam Sharp, administrative manager for the Onalaska Police Department, the forfeitures paid to DARE in Onalaska were a significant part of the revenue sources. In addition to those funds, the city has community fundraisers and applies for grants as other sources of revenue.

"Right now, because of ( the new law ), we won't get those contributions," Sharp said. "It has the potential to be a major blow to the program. We'll have to be creative and put alternative proposals before the finance committee and city council."




Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Source: Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The Herald-Sun
Author: John Stevenson

DURHAM -- When two men were sentenced last week to double-digit prison terms for transporting eye-popping amounts of heroin and cocaine into the Bull City, it brought satisfaction to police and prosecutors but raised questions among defense lawyers about the constitutionality of a local narcotics-interdiction program.

The interdiction effort is aimed at catching drug smugglers as they drive along interstate highways 85 and 40, and as they disembark at the local Amtrak station and intercity bus depot.

One of those sentenced last week was Edward Lee Banks, who had 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds ) of cocaine in his possession when stopped for speeding in a rental car registered to someone else. He received a sentence of 14 to 19 years in prison.

The other suspect was Alberto Cerano, targeted by police as he entered Durham with 2.2 kilograms of heroin ( nearly five pounds ) that had been shipped from Chicago. He was locked up for 18 to 23 years.

Reports indicated that, based on an investigation, local officers knew what kind of vehicle Cerano was driving and what time he would arrive here. A drug-sniffing dog was on standby for the occasion.

According to defense lawyer Woody Vann, Cerano merely was a "mule" -- or driver -- for the heroin shipment and possibly didn't even know what type of drug he was carrying, much less the quantity.

His purported ignorance wasn't enough to get him off the legal hook.


"That's an incredibly large amount," agreed prosecutor Jim Dornfried.

"If I get a few ounces of heroin, I consider it to be a lot," he added. "One kilo is amazing. Two kilos is outrageous."

Veteran defense lawyer James D. "Butch" Williams had the same impression last week.

"Wow," he said. "That's a hell of a lot. You're up in the million-dollar range. You're talking about a whole lot of bucks, brother."

But Williams and some other lawyers contend that police unfairly, and perhaps unconstitutionally, target Hispanic and black suspects.

"I don't have a lot of faith in the highway interdiction program," said Williams. "Number one, I don't think it's constitutional. It's unjust to Hispanics and blacks. If you're a Hispanic or black male with a rental car and an out-of-state [license] plate, you're going to be stopped. Simple as that. If the police do that often enough, they're going to hit a home run. They've been hitting home runs left and right."

Mihaich, the assistant police chief, and Dornfried, the drug prosecutor, denied that ethnic profiling occurs, although neither provided statistics.




Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Source: Stow Sentry (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Record Publishing Co, LLC.
Author: Kristin Casale

Stow -- Stow property owners now must disclose whether their homes were former methamphetamine labs during property transactions or face jail time.

Property owners have to disclose such information to potential homebuyers and renters and anyone receiving property as a gift, per legislation Council passed April 24.

Deputy Law Director Joe Haefner said property sellers are required to specify in writing whether their properties were former meth houses. Those who violate the ordinance would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and could face a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Haefner said a listing of former meth houses would be available through the Summit County Health District.

The city originally considered creating its own database of former meth houses in Stow, but Haefner said the city does not want to duplicate the county's efforts.

He said the city's legislation will take the county's effort a step further by requiring property sellers to submit information about their residences to homebuyers and renters, instead of putting the burden of investigation entirely on buyers and renters.




A story out of Louisiana brings DARE's level of absurdity to a whole new height. Not only was the DARE officer making a drug deal while on duty at an elementary school, he was so dumb that the deal was broadcast on police scanners, so it's now available for the public to hear. Perhaps a new motto is in order, something like, "DARE to resist transmitting your drug deals publicly."

As the story of crack sentence reductions continues to unfold, it looks like poor inmates will be handicapped again, this time without lawyers. In California, some non-violent female offenders have to make a terrible choice: teeth or treatment. And, an anti-snitch website may be leading to even more openness about police informants.


Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Source: Town Talk, The (Alexandria, LA)
Copyright: 2008 The Town Talk
Author: Abbey Brown

A Pineville Police DARE officer and Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office corrections officer were arrested after the DARE officer reportedly made a drug deal with a police informant while on duty Wednesday afternoon at Lessie Moore Elementary School in Pineville, officials said today.

The correction officer's connection to the deal and operation wasn't released as the investigation is ongoing.

Much of the undercover drug deal involving the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office Metro Narcotics Division was somehow broadcast over the police scanner, although sheriff's officials still aren't sure how.

"That could be an extremely serious problem," Sheriff's Assistant Chief Herman Walters said, referring to officer safety with the information going out over the scanner. "We need to sit down and talk with the ( officers ) involved and see if they did anything differently to try to determine what happened."




Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2008
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Marisa Taylor, McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - As the federal courts begin the unprecedented task of deciding whether thousands of prisoners should receive lower crack cocaine sentences, some judges are telling poor convicts that they won't get lawyers to help them argue for leniency.

As a result, some prisoners are being left to argue on their own behalf against skilled prosecutors, raising questions about fairness. The recalculations come after a 20-year debate over racial disparities in cocaine sentences. A majority of crack cocaine defendants are black, while most powder cocaine defendants are white and received much less severe sentences. The U.S. Sentencing Commission issued new recommendations last year for lighter penalties.

Many of the 20,000 prisoners who are eligible say they're too poor to hire lawyers to ask for lower sentences. Many judges have appointed federal defenders to represent poor prisoners at taxpayers' expense, saying it ensures that the requests will be handled efficiently. Other judges have not appointed attorneys, saying they aren't needed for a straightforward sentencing matter.

The constitutional right to an attorney after criminal indictment and during trial and sentencing is undisputed. But several federal appeals and district courts have said that judges generally don't have to appoint attorneys for convicted criminals who are seeking corrected sentences. Without lawyers, some defendants with legitimate requests will be overlooked, say federal defenders who are screening many of the crack cocaine cases.




Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2008
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Edwin Garcia, Medianews Sacramento Bureau

Some Opt to Have Extractions to Access Prison Rehab Programs

SACRAMENTO - Sarina Borg had a tough choice to make.

She could wait for months, maybe more than a year, to have her rotting teeth repaired by a dentist. Or she could get them pulled in order to be reunited with her baby daughter.

In California women's prisons, dozens if not hundreds of inmates like Borg are faced with the same wrenching decision: To gain access to a host of vocational-training and drug-rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders - including a course that teaches them parenting skills while living with their children in special housing - - they must be cleared of any pre-existing health problems.

Just one badly damaged tooth will block them from entering a program.

"It's unconscionable," said Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Jose, who has proposed legislation to shorten the waiting list for women wanting to get their teeth fixed by a prison dentist, a measure that passed its first committee hearing last week.

"We have women who are getting 16 and 18 out of 34 teeth pulled, and that really destroys their future job prospects," Lieber said. "We have to change the situation."




Pubdate: Sat, 26 Apr 2008
Source: Quad-City Times (IA)
Copyright: 2008 Quad-City Times
Author: Ann McGlynn

Sean Bucci got busted in 2003 for trafficking marijuana.

A former high school classmate, a confidential informant working for the federal government, led authorities to Bucci's door.

So Bucci decided to get even. He created a Web site called before he went to prison for 12 1/2 years. He featured his "snitch" as "Rat of the Week."

The federal court system took notice. His Web site launched a debate about how much access the public should have to plea agreements -- documents that can reveal who is cooperating with the federal government.

That debate is no more obvious than in the Quad-Cities' two federal courthouses.

In Rock Island, the public can see the documents in a visit to the clerk's office in downtown Rock Island. They are not available online.

In Davenport, the documents were routinely sealed from public view for several months. However, after inquiries from the Quad-City Times, the rules are changing.

The lead federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Iowa, which includes Davenport, agreed last week that his attorneys will more closely scrutinize which plea agreements they will ask to be sealed.

Attorneys will work on the presumption of openness, said U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker. A request for sealing will have to be approved by supervisors. The changes will begin May 1.

"After I looked at the situation, I concluded we were sealing too many plea agreements and we're going to move toward making sure we have a more calculated system for sealing the important ones," Whitaker said. Past sealed plea agreements will not be revisited, he added.




On the eve of Gordon Brown's expected cannabis re-reclassification, the Daily Mail snuck in one last low-blow "cannapanic" article. The new government truth; if you smoke skunk, you will become sexually impotent.

A study by Harry G. Levine and Deborah Small revealed that between 1988 and 1997, New York City police arrested a mere 45,300 people for cannabis possession, whereas between 1998 and 2007 that number had climbed to 374,900 glaringly racially disproportionate arrests.

The proprietors of the Holy Smoke headshop are proud to be fighting charges of trafficking cannabis from their storefront in Nelson, British Columbia, rightfully pointing out that their act of commercial disobedience drove less desirable street dealers out of their community.

Timothy Garon, a musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used medicinal cannabis under Washington state law to ease his symptoms of advanced hepatitis C, passed away yesterday.


Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2008
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Author: Maureen Culley

Growing numbers of teenage boys are being treated for impotence after smoking cannabis for several years.

Doctors have reported a large rise in cases of young men seeking advice to combat potential lifelong impotence. They said most have a history of heavy cannabis abuse.

Experts are now calling for more research to be carried out into the links between sexual dysfunction and the drug. Anecdotal evidence already points towards its role in causing impotence and in lowering testosterone and sexual desire.

Ian Russell, a specialist nurse practitioner in andrology and urology at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Scotland, said:

"In my clinic I see youngsters from the age of 17 onwards with sexual dysfunction. The age of onset of smoking cannabis is young, ten-year- olds in some areas.

"Puberty's kicking in and they're smoking regularly - five, six joints a week.

"This can potentially suppress and traumatise the formation of leydig cells, which secrete testosterone, in the testes.


The research came to light as it emerged today that Gordon Brown has decided to throw out the recommendation by a high-powered group of government advisers who say cannabis should stay a "soft" drug.

The Prime Minister will instead take a hard line, sending a message that drugs are dangerous to young people's health and heavily linked to serious crime.




Pubdate: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Author: Jim Dwyer
Referenced: Bookmark: (Marijuana)

Among those washed into Manhattan Criminal Court by the Tuesday morning tides was a 25-year-old man who works in technology support for a large company.

He had been caught with $30 worth of marijuana after his car was stopped on Riverside Drive, an offense against Section 221.10 of the New York State penal code. His case involved surveillance by an unmarked car and two officers who then stayed late into the night processing their prisoner, fingerprinting him, writing a complaint and taking his mug shot.

The court proceeding lasted about 45 seconds. The charges would be permanently dismissed if he stayed out of trouble for a year, which did not appear to be a big challenge, since he had never been arrested before.

If the case seemed like much ado about hardly anything, the laws of the State of New York agree. The city's Police Department and the mayor, however, have other ideas.

A study released Tuesday reported that between 1998 and 2007, the police arrested 374,900 people whose most serious crime was the lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana offense.

That is more than eight times the number of arrests on those same charges between 1988 and 1997, when 45,300 people were picked up for having a small amount of pot.

Here are other figures from the study, which was conducted by Harry G. Levine, a sociologist at Queens College, and Deborah Peterson Small, a lawyer and an advocate for changes in drug laws and enforcement practices.

Nearly everyone involved in this wave of marijuana arrests is male: 90 percent were men, although national studies show that men and women use pot in roughly equal rates.

And 83 percent of those charged in these cases were black or Latino, according to the study. Blacks accounted for 52 percent of the arrests, twice their share of the city's population. Whites, who are about 35 percent of the population, were only 15 percent of those charged -- even though federal surveys show that whites are more likely than blacks or Latinos to use pot.




Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2008
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Nelson Daily News
Author: Sara Newham

Hopefulness and happiness were among the sentiments expressed by two of the accused in the Holy Smoke drug trafficking case moments before their trial began Monday.

With a handful of supporters milling outside the Nelson Courthouse, Holy Smoke co-owners Paul DeFelice and Alan Middlemiss explained that it was an opportunity to tell the truth about their business.

"For me I think it's a chance to get on the stand and to be able to tell the truth about what we were up to and the whys and hows, the issue around cannabis," said Middlemiss, who is charged with trafficking cannabis and psilocybins. "A lot of times you go to go and the lawyers say just zip your mouth and I'll do all the talking. This is kind of the opposite."

Sauntering up to the courthouse with lawyer Donald Skogstad, DeFelice said he was hopeful, excited, and a little nervous. He said he planned to use the trial as a platform for their cause to legalize marijuana.

"We're taking the high road. We're trying to prove that we were preventing more harm than we were causing. We're not to play cagey or pull technicalities," said DeFelice, who was arrested in July 2006 outside the store and is also facing a separate charge of possession of cannabis.

"We're not even going to question police, we're just going to state our case that we have our community's best interests at heart and I think we can show where we eliminated a lot of street dealing and kids coming into contact with hard drugs and dealers. It will be interesting."




Pubdate: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Referenced: Referenced: Cited:

Is Death the Price of Inaction?

By the time state governments have resolved their differences over medical marijuana with the federal government, Timothy Garon will be dead, if he isn't already.

Mr. Garon, lead singer for Nearly Dan, a Steely Dan cover-band in Seattle, was reported Sunday by The Associated Press to be dying from Hepatitis C, which has destroyed his liver. He needs a new one.

He would be on an organ transplant list to have at least a crack at a new liver, if it weren't for one thing: He used medical marijuana, under the authorization of a Seattle physician, as allowed by Washington state law. Dr. Brad Roter recommended the marijuana for Mr. Garon's nausea, abdominal pain and to increase his appetite.

Little did they know that at several U.S. hospitals, people who use illegal substances -- even medical marijuana where it is legal -- are not eligible for a transplant. The University of Washington Medical Center has strict rules about transplant candidates' drug use, but reconsidered Mr. Garon's case when his attorney pressed the issue. Still, the university denied Mr. Garon a shot at a new liver. AP reported that UCLA Medical Center allows patients a chance to reapply for a transplant list if they stay off marijuana for six months.

The Star understands that with a shortage of organs for transplant, available organs should go to those most likely to take care of them. That is why patients who drink heavily or use illegal drugs are often excluded from transplant lists. However, it is inconceivable that a sick person a doctor has deemed a candidate for medical marijuana is lumped in the same category as a drug abuser.




In Mexico. cartels continue to slug it out for their share of the lucrative prohibited drug market. Last week, thirteen people were killed in gun battles in the border city of Tijuana. Ironically, "experts said the recent surge in violence undoubtedly is linked to a major [anti-drug] offensive" in Tijuana and elsewhere ordered by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

In Afghanistan, a drug eradication team was attacked by a suicide bomber and gunfire, resulting in 19 killed. The U.S.-propped Afghan government in Kabul was quick to capitalize on events, issuing a statement that the killing "proves" poppy growing is "inseparably tied to terrorist forces."

After an April 1 raid on the Hempbar in Nimbin, Australia, authorities ordered it closed for the town's annual Mardi Grass celebration. The Hempbar has been operating openly as a cannabis cafe for over a decade - complete with a live webcam showing how cannabis users act when ingesting the drug (indistinguishable from coffee drinkers). This week, in preparation for Mardi Grass, Nimbin activists mounted a protest at the police station in nearby Lismore, calling on Police Superintendent Bruce 'Bluey' Lyons "to get it right and make peace now" with Nimbin and cannabis.

The supervised injection center in British Columbia, Canada (Insite) is on the chopping block, but clinic operators this week went to the B.C. Supreme Court in a bid to block its closure. Stated barrister John Conroy (arguing against closure of Insite), "The criminal approach leads to death. Harm reduction leads to life."


Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times

A Running Firefight Between Apparent Drug Rivals Leaves a Trail of Bodies and Spent Shell Casings Across the City.

TIJUANA -- In one of the most violent eruptions in the ongoing border drug war, suspected traffickers clashed on the streets of Tijuana early Saturday morning in a wild and bloody shootout that left 13 people dead and eight others injured in a series of moving gun battles.


The shootout is just the latest in a spasm of drug-related violence that has gripped the border town this year. In the first four months of 2008, Tijuana has seen dozens of kidnappings, assaults and homicides, including children gunned down in the mayhem.

The violence has had a major economic effect on the city's tourism business and underscores the larger drug problem facing the Mexican government.

The motive for Saturday's bloodshed was unclear. Police said it could have been a falling-out between factions of the Arellano Felix narcotics cartel, which has long controlled the drug trade in the city. Or it could be another cartel trying to move in on its turf.


Still, experts said the recent surge in violence undoubtedly is linked to a major offensive by authorities against organized-crime drug traffickers, an operation that has strained delicate alliances between traffickers who had previously cooperated with one another in the lucrative narcotics trade.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in cooperation with state and local authorities, has sent hundreds of soldiers and federal police to Tijuana and other trafficking hot spots this year.




Pubdate: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- A suicide bomber and gunmen attacked a drug-eradication team in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 40 others, authorities said.

Twelve police officers were among the dead in the assault, the latest in a string of attacks by militants against government teams responsible for destroying the lucrative opium poppy crop during the planting season. The insurgency is fueled with profits from the drug trade.


"This event proves that . . . cultivation and production of narcotics in Afghanistan are inseparably tied to terrorist forces," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.




Pubdate: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
Source: Northern River Echo, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 TAOW P/L
Author: Luis Felin

The Lismore area's top cop has been asked to come in peace or stay away for this weekend's annual MardiGrass festival and cannabis law reform rally in Nimbin. He has also been invited to take part in workshops on the myriad uses of hemp and listen to experts on drugs and criminality at this weekend's 16th annual MardiGrass. The call to Richmond Local Area Command chief, Superintendent Bruce 'Bluey' Lyons, was made publicly over a loudhailer during a street protest in Lismore on Monday morning outside Lismore Courthouse where several people were due to face cannabis charges related to the controversial police raid on the village on April Fool's Day. After the raid, which netted mostly cannabis leaf, cakes and cookies, Supt Lyons vowed to continue targetting Nimbin and its popular festival, saying the days of Nimbin's tourist trade "living off the back of drug dealing" were over.

Hemp activist and festival parade marshall Graeme Dunstan invited Supt Lyons and his officers to "enjoy" MardiGrass, making an impassioned address to the small crowd about harassment by police of "peaceful, ever-loving hippies" at Nimbin saying "Bluey Lyons has to get it right and make peace now" with the community. His pleas were well within earshot of the courthouse and the adjacent new police station.




Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh

VANCOUVER -- With just two months to go before its doors may be closed by the Conservative government, operators of North America's only supervised injection site for users of illegal drugs have gone to court to stay open.

The facility saves lives, reduces harm to drug addicts and increases their motivation to seek treatment, lawyers argued in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday. As a result, they said, federal drug laws against possession of heroin and cocaine should not apply there.

"The criminal approach leads to death. Harm reduction leads to life," said John Conroy, representing the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

The controversial injection centre, known as Insite, has been operating under a special judicial exemption from prosecution, but that is scheduled to run out at the end of June.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle. Posted May 1, 2008.

A North Dakota man with an interest in herbalism and spirituality faces years in prison for $32 worth of salvia leaves he bought on eBay.


By Steven Wishnia

Five signs that pot might become legal soon -- and five reasons why it probably won't.


Racial Bias and Police Policy in New York City, 1997-2007

By Harry G. Levine and Deborah Peterson Small


Century of Lies- 04/29/08 - Barney Frank

US Representative Barney Frank discusses marijuana bills now before US Congress + Fred Gardner seeks input from veterans.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/30/08 - Rick Doblin

Tribute to Dr. Albert Hofmann with Dr. Rick Doblin, Phil Smith reports from Mexico, North Dakotan busted for salvia.


By Steve Rolles, Transform Drug Policy Foundation


And Destruction of Lives

By Anthony Papa


Doctors at the University of British Columbia's Department of Medicine last year unanimously urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to keep Vancouver's supervised injection site open, a letter leaked to the CBC reveals.



May 11-15, Barcelona, Spain

HRA's harm reduction conferences have been key forums for the dissemination of harm reduction ideas and practice around the world since 1990. In 2008, over five days in the stunning Mediterranean city of Barcelona, the programme includes over 50 sessions and 200 speakers.



By Peter Christopher

Dear Editor,

I read with interest Mr. Sizemore's letter entitled 'I ran a drug enforcement team,' 19 April 2008. America is ever so slowly waking up to the folly of drug prohibition, especially marijuana, and may one day come to know they have been propagandized into a $42B/year "Blackwater" operation that is never supposed to end complete with asset forfeiture, corruption, expanding prisons and drug testing.

It tears us apart as a country and we must fix it.

The internecine relationship of guns, money and drugs worldwide can only be reined in through regulation and treatment.

Drug war industrial complex talking points are based on fear, gutter science, and sometimes racism thrown in when necessary, like any war, but this one is against ourselves.

I ask Mr. Sizemore to contact LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,, and have a visit with his colleagues and discuss prohibition as law enforcement professionals and not drug war sycophants.

Peter Christopher Hurdle Mills, NC

Pubdate: Wed, 23 Apr 2008
Source: Tuscola County Advertiser (Caro, MI)


Albert Hofmann, 1906-2008  ( Top )

By Dieter A. Hagenbach and Lucius Werthmuller

At the age of 102 years, Albert Hofmann died peacefully last Tuesday morning, 29th April, in his home near Basel, Switzerland. Still last weekend we talked to him, and he expressed his great joy about the blooming plants and the fresh green of the meadows and trees around his house. His vitality and his open mind conducted him until his last breath.

He is reputed to be one of the most important chemists of our times. He is the discoverer of LSD, which he considers, up to date, as both a "wonder drug" and a "problem child". In addition he did pioneering work as a researcher of other psychoactive substances as well as active agents of important medicinal plants and mushrooms. Under the spell of the consciousness-expanding potential of LSD the scientist turned increasingly into a philosopher of nature and a visionary critical of contemporary culture.

Until his death Albert Hofmann remained active. He communicated with colleagues and experts from all over the world, gave interviews, and showed great interest in the world's affairs, although he decided to retire from public life already a few years ago. Nevertheless he welcomed visitors at his home on the Rittimatte, and opened the door for late in the evening.

He managed to keep his almost childlike curiosity for the wonders of nature and creation. In his "paradise," as he would call his home, he enjoyed being close to nature, especially to plants. During one of our last visits he said to us with luminous eyes: "The Rittimatte is my second most important discovery." It was always a unique experience to stroll with him over his meadows and to share his enjoying the living nature all around. Gratefully and lovingly we grieve for an outstanding scientist, an important philosopher, a dear and true friend, and our member of the board.

Albert Hofmann was born on January 1906 in the quiet small town of Baden, Switzerland, as the eldest one of four children. His father is a toolmaker in a factory where he meets Albert's mother-to-be; when he falls seriously ill, Albert has to support the family. That's why he decides for a commercial apprenticeship. At the same time he starts studying Latin and other languages, since he wants to take his A-levels, which he succeeds in at a private school, paid for by a godfather.

In 1926, at the age of twenty, Albert Hofmann begins to study chemistry at the University of Zurich. Four years later he does his doctorate with distinction. Subsequently he works at the Sandoz pharmaceutical-chemical research laboratory in Basel, a company to which he proves his loyalty for more than four uninterrupted decades. (In 1996 Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy merged to become Novartis.) That's where he mainly works with medicinal plants and mushrooms. He's specifically interested in alkaloids (nitrogen compounds) of ergot, a cereal fungus. In 1938 he isolates the basic component of all therapeutically essential ergot alkaloids, lysergic acid; he mixes it with a series of chemicals. He then tests the effects of the thus derived lysergic acid derivatives as circulatory and respiratory stimulant among others LSD-25 (Lysergic acid diethylamide). Because the effects observed fell short of expectations, however, the pharmacologists at Sandoz quickly lose interest in it.

Five years later, following a "peculiar presentiment," Albert Hofmann devotes himself again to LSD-25. On 16 April 1943, while synthesizing, he is overcome by unusual sensations "a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness," which prompt him to interrupt his laboratory work. "At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxication like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight too unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away."

Three days later, on 19 April 1943, Hofmann sets out for the first voluntary LSD trip in the history of man. Because he cannot yet judge the enormous efficacy of the drug, he takes, at 4:20 pm, with 250 microgram a relatively high dose - and gets to know the hallucinogenic power of the substance with all its intensity. With his discovery of LSD Albert Hofmann has caused a snowball effect, which turns into an avalanche in no time. It influences the late second millennium at least in the Western world - to an extent, comparable only to the "pill". Consciousness researchers respectfully spoke of an "atom bomb of the mind."

To worldwide setting-in research Albert Hofmann makes essential contributions. So he is, in 1958, the first one to succeed in isolating the psychoactive substances psilocybin and psilocin from Mexican magic mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana); in Ololiuqui, the seeds of a climbing plant, he finds substances related to LSD. He isolates and synthesizes substances of important medicinal plants in order to study their effects. His basic research blesses Sandoz with several successful remedies: Hydergine, an effective one in geriatrics, Dihydergot, a circulation- and blood-pressure stabilizing medicament, and Methergine, an active agent applied in gynecology. Hofmann stays with Sandoz until his retirement in 1971, last as head of the research department for natural medicines. From then on he devotes more and more of his time to writing and lecturing. He increasingly wins recognition for his scientific pioneering ventures: he is given honorary doctorates by the ETH Zurich, the Stockholm university, and the Berlin Free University; and he is called into the Nobel Prize Committee.

Here, outstanding contributions to research were honored - but Albert Hofmann's life's work comprises much more. From the start he took a favorable view of efforts by physicians and psychotherapists to include LSD into new approaches for the treatment of manifold chronic diseases. But LSD isn't only useful with special diagnoses it's Hofmann's firm belief that the "psychedelic" potential of this "wonder drug" could be beneficial to all of us. In LSD-induced altered states of consciousness its discoverer doesn't only see psychotic delusions of a chemically manipulated mind, but windows to a higher reality true spiritual experiences during which a normally deeply buried potential of our mind, the heavenly element of creation, our unity with it reveals itself. "The one-sided belief in the scientific view of life is based on a far-reaching misunderstanding," Hofmann says in his book Insight Outlook. "Certainly, everything it contains is real but this represents just one half of reality; only its material, quantifiable part. It lacks all those spiritual dimensions which cannot be described in physical or chemical terms; and it's exactly these which include the most important characteristics of all life."

It's not the single consumer alone who profits from chemicals which help to understand these aspects of the world; for Hofmann it could help to heal deficits the Western world chronically suffers from: "Materialism, estrangement from nature (...), lack of professional fulfillment in a mechanized, lifeless world of employment, boredom and aimlessness in a rich, saturated society, the missing of a sense-making philosophical fundamentalness of life." Starting from experiences as LSD conveys them, we could "develop a new awareness of reality" which "could become the basis of a spirituality that's not founded on the dogmas of existing religions, but on insights into a higher and profounder sense" on that we recognize, read, and understand "the revelations of the book which God's finger wrote." When such insights "become established in our collective consciousness, it could arise from that, that scientific research and the previous destroyers of nature - technology and industry - will serve the purpose of changing back our world into what it formerly was: into an earthly Garden of Eden."

With this message the genius chemist turns into a profound philosopher of nature and visionary critical of contemporary culture. The critical distance from the LSD euphoria of the hippie- and flower power-driven ones Albert Hofmann has never given up, however; that he has fathered a "problem child" he already emphasizes with the title of one of his most known works. He always underlines the risks of an uncontrolled intake. On the other hand he never tires of emphasizing what's the basic difference between LSD and most of the other drugs: even if used repeatedly, it doesn't make addictive; it doesn't reduce one's awareness; taken in a normal dose it's absolutely non-toxic. The total demonizing of psychedelics, as pursued by the mass media, conservative politicians, and governments from the sixties onward, he never could understand; for him, there is no reason why mentally stable persons in the right set and setting shouldn't enjoy LSD. All the more disappointed Albert Hofmann was when, in the late sixties, he had to see it happen that the use of LSD was worldwide criminalized and prohibited - even for therapeutic and research purposes

The impetus for a change emanating from the impact of the international Symposium "LSD - Problem Child and Wonder Drug" in 2006 in Basel, at the occasion of his 100th birthday, quickened him to say that "after this conference my problem child has definitely turned into a wonder child," and he regarded this development as his most beautiful birthday present.

And after just shortly before his 102nd birthday, he enjoyed taking notice that the first LSD study with humans has received the permission from the Federal Office of Public Health in Bern, which he called the "fulfillment of my heart's desire."

His life has become an ideal for many for how we can reach a great age in mental and physical vigor by retaining a childlike curiosity.

Albert Hofmann repeatedly expressed his conviction, that his mystical experiences and his trips into other worlds of consciousness, which he experienced first spontaneously as a child and later during his experiments with psychedelic substances would be the best preparations for the last journey which everybody has to go on at the end of her or his life. He has retained his curiosity for himself for his last journey.

This piece was originally published at Gaia Media, and is available here


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