THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) GUNMEN KILL CHIEF OF MEXICO'S POLICE
Pubdate: Fri, 9 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: James C. McKinley
MEXICO CITY -- Gunmen assassinated the acting chief of Mexico's federal police early on Thursday morning in the most brazen attack so far in the year-and-a-half-old struggle between the government and organized crime gangs.
The Mexican police have been under constant attack since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2007 and started an offensive against drug cartels that had corrupted the municipal police forces and local officials in several towns along the border with the United States and on both coasts.
Since then, Mr. Calderon has sent thousands of federal agents and troops into those areas to establish law and order, provoking retaliation from drug cartels that have killed about 200 officers, among them at least 30 federal agents.
The acting chief, Edgar Millan Gomez, was ambushed by several men wearing rubber gloves and carrying weapons as he entered his apartment building in the Guerrero neighborhood of Mexico City with two bodyguards at 2:30 a.m. He was hit eight times in the chest and once in a hand. He died a few hours later at Metropolitan Hospital.
Commander Millan was the highest ranking official to be killed since Mr. Calderon's campaign against drug dealers began. Intelligence officials said it was highly likely that he was killed in retribution for the arrest on Jan. 21 of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, one of the leaders of a cartel based in Sinaloa State.
(2) OPED: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS STILL HAVE RIGHT TO PRIVACY ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 07 May 2008
Source: Norwich Gazette, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Dave Sykes
The Supreme Court of Canada has issued a rather noteworthy ruling, reminding police and school officials that our high school students do not leave behind their rights to privacy when they walk through the doors and hallways of our school system.
The ruling stemmed from a case in 2002 in a Sarnia high school when a police dog uncovered narcotics in an unattended backpack during a search of the premises. As a result, a 17-year-old student was charged with drug offences.
The youth was later acquitted of the charges, after a trial judge ruled the search was unconstitutional and threw out the evidence. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld that decision and two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed that the student's privacy and constitutional rights were violated.
Police officers visited the school and conducted a sweep of the premises while students were confined to classrooms, actions that the court called "a random speculative search" based on a "standing invitation" from the school's principal for authorities to enter the facility for random searches rather than acting on reasonable suspicion.
It seems reasonable that schools invoke a zero tolerance policy on drugs but as the court pointed out, students should feel confident that their backpacks will not be subject to random searches by police. School officials have more latitude in dealing with suspicions about drug possession and should use that latitude prudently.
(3) VIEWS VARY AT HEARING ON STATE DRUG LAWS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 9 May 2008
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2008 Newsday Inc.
Author: Zachary R. Dowdy
As spectators booed and cheered, defense attorneys, prosecutors, treatment providers and reformers testified before state lawmakers yesterday about the ongoing battle of approaches in enforcing drug laws and rehabilitating offenders.
The daylong hearing in Manhattan marked to the day the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, a set of mandatory sentencing measures that made New York one of the most punitive states.
Speakers urged the panel to build on amendments to the laws in 2004 and 2005, with most calling for a more public-health based approach over a criminal justice strategy. Those alterations lifted the most draconian elements of the laws, such as lifetime incarceration for the most severe offenses.
The hearing is part of a process to determine what else should be done.
"The city bar believes more should be done," said Robert Gottlieb, an attorney in Commack and Manhattan, speaking for the criminal justice council of the bar association of New York. "Allow them into drug treatment, not prison."
Judy Whiting, of the city bar's corrections committee, said the Rockefeller Drug Laws have wreaked "collateral consequences" on people convicted of drug offenses and their families and communities.
"People convicted of drug-related felonies face really serious obstacles to joining society once they are released," she said.
(4) GROW-OP TEAM SUSPENDED OVER CLAIM OF THEFT ( Top )
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Province
Langley Township's marijuana grow-op busting team has been suspended in the wake of an allegation of theft against one of its members.
"One of the members took something that shouldn't have been taken and it was inappropriate," said Langley Township Fire Department Chief Doug Wade yesterday.
Wade is in charge of the township's Public Safety Inspection Team, a multi-agency group that uses B.C. Hydro information to target power-sucking marijuana grow operations. The Langley team comprises a firefighter, two Mounties, an electrical advisor and a bylaw inspector.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The U.S. Defense Secretary took a trip to Mexico to talk about drugs
last week. Once the Mexican and U.S. militaries put their combined
attention on drugs, we might just win this war. Or maybe not.
In other news, the mainstream press continues to miss the biggest
medical story of this century; students at one school stand up
against overly punitive drug policy; and a Utah newspaper takes a
long look at the failure of the drug war.
The U.S. Defense Secretary took a trip to Mexico to talk about drugs last week. Once the Mexican and U.S. militaries put their combined attention on drugs, we might just win this war. Or maybe not.
In other news, the mainstream press continues to miss the biggest medical story of this century; students at one school stand up against overly punitive drug policy; and a Utah newspaper takes a long look at the failure of the drug war.
(5) DEFENSE SECRETARY GATES CALLS FOR MEXICAN BORDER SECURITY ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 1 May 2008
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Copyright: 2008 The Christian Science Publishing Society
Author: David Montero
Visiting Mexico, the US's top defense official says he wants funds to fight drug-trafficking violence and ward off potential threats from militants entering the US.
As violence flares in Mexico's drug war, threatening security on the U.S. border, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a historic trip to Mexico this week as part of the Pentagon's push for Latin American countries to deploy more military resources against drug trafficking. It's also part of a security effort to shore up potential threats that could emerge from militants crossing the border.
Shootouts in Tijuana, Mexico's most violent city, are nothing new. But a recent firefight between drug cartels was one of the more violent episodes, Reuters reports.
Mexico's government sent more than 3,000 soldiers and federal police to Tijuana on Tuesday, stepping up a war against violent drug smugglers after 17 gunmen were killed in a street battle between cartels.
The move is part of a broader deployment of soldiers that Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, has initiated at Washington's behest. Mr. Calderon has sent 24,000 military and security forces to areas overrun by drug gangs; Mexico drug trade resulted more than 2,500 deaths in 2007, reported The Christian Science Monitor.
The violence comes as Mr. Gates was in Mexico to meet with Mexican defense ministry officials - the second-ever visit to Mexico by a U.S. defense secretary, Agence France-Presse reports.
Gates said the focus of his talks in Mexico was the so-called Merida Initiative proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush in October to build up the capabilities of the Mexican military and law enforcement to battle drug cartels.
The multi-year package would provide, among other things, helicopters and surveillance aircraft to the Mexican military, which the Pentagon sees as an opportunity to strengthen military ties that historically have been chilly.
(6) STUDY: SMOKING POT DOESN'T CAUSE CANCER--IT MAY PREVENT IT! ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 3 May 2008
Source: CounterPunch (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 CounterPunch
Author: Fred Gardner
The Greatest Story Never Told
Smoking Cannabis Does Not Cause Cancer Of Lung or Upper Airways, Tashkin Finds; Data Suggest Possible Protective Effect
The story summarized by that headline ran in O'Shaughnessy's ( Autumn 2005), CounterPunch, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Did we win Pulitzers, dude? No, the story was ignored or buried by the corporate media. It didn't even make the "Project Censored" list of under-reported stories for 2005. "We were even censored by Project Censored," said Tod Mikuriya, who liked his shot of wry.
It's not that the subject is trivial. One in three Americans will be afflicted with cancer, we are told by the government ( as if it's our immutable fate and somehow acceptable ). Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and lung cancer the leading killer among cancers. You'd think it would have been very big news when UCLA medical school professor Donald Tashkin revealed that components of marijuana smoke -although they damage cells in respiratory tissue- somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. In other words, something in marijuana exerts an anti-cancer effect.
Tashkin has special credibility. He was the lead investigator on studies dating back to the 1970s that identified the components in marijuana smoke that are toxic. It was Tashkin et al who published photomicrographs showing that marijuana smoke damages cells lining the upper airways. It was the Tashkin lab reporting that benzpyrene - -a component of tobacco smoke that plays a role in most lung cancers-is especially prevalent in marijuana smoke. It was Tashkin's data documenting that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to cough, wheeze, and produce sputum.
Tashkin reviewed his findings April 4 at a conference organized by "Patients Out of Time," a reform group devoted to educating doctors and the public ( as opposed to lobbying politicians ). Some 30 MDs and nurses got continuing medical education credits for attending.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported Tashkin's marijuana-related research over the decades and readily gave him a grant to conduct a large, population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers. What Tashkin and his colleagues found, however, disproved their hypothesis. ( Tashkin is to marijuana as a cause of lung cancer what Hans Blick is to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -an honest investigator who set out to find something, concluded that it wasn't there, and reported his results. )
Tashkin's team interviewed 1,212 cancer patients from the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program, matched for age, gender, and neighborhood with 1,040 cancer-free controls. Marijuana use was measured in "joint years" ( number of years smoked times number of joints per day ). It turned out that increased marijuana use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer ( whereas tobacco smokers were at greater risk the more they smoked ). Tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana were at slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than tobacco-only smokers.
These findings were not deemed worthy of publication in "NIDA Notes." Tashkin reported them at the 2005 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and they were published in the October 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Without a press release from NIDA calling attention to its significance, the assignment editors of America had no idea that "Marijuana Use and the Risk of Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancers: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control Study" by Mia Hashibe1, Hal Morgenstern, Yan Cui, Donald P. Tashkin, Zuo-Feng Zhang, Wendy Cozen, Thomas M. Mack and Sander Greenland was a blockbuster story.
I suggested to Eric Bailey of the L.A. Times that he write up Tashkin's findings -UCLA provided the local angle if the anti-cancer effect wasn't enough. Bailey said his editors wouldn't be interested for some time because he had just filed a marijuana-related piece ( about the special rapport Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access enjoyed with some old corporado back in Washington, D.C. ) The Tashkin scoop is still there for the taking!
(7) STUDENTS TO PUSH FOR REVISED DRUG POLICY ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2008
Source: Patriot-News, The (PA)
Copyright: 2008 The Patriot-News
Author: Joe Elias
Suspended Teen Says He Didn't Know About Burnt Marijuana In Car
Several West Perry High School students will ask the school board tonight to modify its policy regarding punishment for students caught with drugs on campus.
At issue is a senior who was suspended from school for five days and the track team for 30 days after a police drug dog in the school lot April 25 detected marijuana in a used car the boy had recently purchased.
Friends of the student said police found a small amount of burnt marijuana in the car's ashtray -- drugs they say their friend knew nothing about.
"The punishment seems a little harsh," classmate Samuel Dubois said. "He got the car for basically nothing, but he's paying for it now."
Attempts to reach the student were unsuccessful.
(8) U.S. DRUG POLICY A TOTAL FAILURE, SAY USERS AND EXPERTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 4 May 2008
Source: Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, UT)
Copyright: 2008 Deseret News Publishing Corp.
Author: James Thalman
In a word, everybody's crazy about drugs.
Whether by prescription or on the street, whether you like your pill dressed in Pfizer blue or prefer little dull ones stamped with a bat emblem, love them or hate them, we've got a thing for drugs.
Government agencies of every variety want to control or get rid of them altogether, while every little criminal -- from the two-bit grifter on the corner to the really nice doctor eight floors above -- seem to do all they can to keep them coming.
"Yes, we're pretty down the rabbit hole on all this," says Pat Flemming, who, for the past 20 years, has led the state's substance abuse prevention program or directed Salt Lake County's efforts. "We're at a crossroads. We're either going to keep at it as if it were some kind of war or we're going to make some real headway. We're starting to -- the endmethnow campaign, for example -- go in the right direction.
"Compassion and treatment is the morally right and the much more economically sensible thing to do," he said. "Continuing to turn people into criminals has never worked and never will."
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
A District Attorney in Texas wants to punish prosecutors who
withhold evidence and break other rules. Two new reports suggest
that the drug war is racist, and some states are finding it
expensive, but at least one commentator doesn't think that the drug
war is racist or responsible for much prison overcrowding.
A District Attorney in Texas wants to punish prosecutors who withhold evidence and break other rules. Two new reports suggest that the drug war is racist, and some states are finding it expensive, but at least one commentator doesn't think that the drug war is racist or responsible for much prison overcrowding.
(9) DALLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY WANTS UNETHICAL PROSECUTORS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 4 May 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News
Authors: Jennifer Emily and Steve McGonigle, The Dallas Morning News
The Dallas County district attorney who has built a national reputation on freeing the wrongfully convicted says prosecutors who intentionally withhold evidence should themselves face harsh sanctions possibly even jail time.
"Something should be done," said Craig Watkins, whose jurisdiction leads the nation in the number of DNA exonerations. "If the harm is a great harm, yes, it should be criminalized."
Wrongful convictions, nearly half of them involving prosecutorial misconduct, have cost Texas taxpayers $8.6 million in compensation since 2001, according to state comptroller records obtained by The Dallas Morning News. Dallas County accounts for about one-third of that.
Mr. Watkins said that he was still pondering what kind of punishment unethical prosecutors deserve but that the worst offenders might deserve prison time. He said he also was considering the launch of a campaign to mandate disbarment for any prosecutor found to have intentionally withheld evidence from the defense.
(10) REPORTS FIND RACIAL GAP IN DRUG ARRESTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 6 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Erik Eckholm
More than two decades after President Ronald Reagan escalated the war on drugs, arrests for drug sales or, more often, drug possession are still rising. And despite public debate and limited efforts to reduce them, large disparities persist in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two races use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates.
Two new reports, issued Monday by the Sentencing Project in Washington and by Human Rights Watch in New York, both say the racial disparities reflect, in large part, an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, with arrests and incarceration the main weapon.
But they note that the murderous crack-related urban violence of the 1980s, which spawned the war on drugs, has largely subsided, reducing the rationale for a strategy that has sowed mistrust in the justice system among many blacks.
In 2006, according to federal data, drug-related arrests climbed to 1.89 million, up from 1.85 million in 2005 and 581,000 in 1980.
More than four in five of the arrests were for possession of banned substances, rather than for their sale or manufacture. Four in 10 of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession, according to the latest F.B.I. data.
Apart from crowding prisons, one result is a devastating impact on the lives of black men: they are nearly 12 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men, according to the Human Rights Watch report.
(11) FISCAL PRESSURES LEAD SOME STATES TO FREE INMATES EARLY ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 5 May 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Authors: Keith B. Richburg and Ashley Surdin, Washington Post Staff Writers
NEW YORK -- Reversing decades of tough-on-crime policies, including mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug offenders, many cash-strapped states are embracing a view once dismissed as dangerously naive: It costs far less to let some felons go free than to keep them locked up.
It is a theory that has long been pushed by criminal justice advocates and liberal politicians -- that some felons, particularly those convicted of minor drug offenses, would be better served by treatment, parole or early release for good behavior. But the states' conversion to that view has less to do with a change of heart on crime than with stark fiscal realities. At a time of shrinking resources, prisons are eating up an increasing share of many state budgets.
"It's the fiscal stuff that's driving it," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group that advocates for more lenient sentencing. "Do you want to build prisons or do you want to build colleges? If you're a governor, it's kind of come to that choice right now."
Mauer and other observers point to a number of recent actions, some from states facing huge budget shortfalls, some not, but still worried about exploding costs.
(12) OPED: IS THE CRIMINAL-JUSTICE SYSTEM RACIST? ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2008
Source: City Journal (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The Manhattan Institute
Author: Heather Mac Donald
No: the high percentage of blacks behind bars reflects crime rates, not bigotry.
The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination. At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites "are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime." Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the "disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites."
If a listener didn't know anything about crime, such charges of disparate treatment might seem plausible.
After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13 percent of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail. The dramatic rise in the prison and jail population over the last three decades-to 2.3 million people at the end of 2007 ( see box )-has only amplified the racial accusations against the criminal-justice system.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
As expected, the British government proudy announced that it will
re-reclassify cannabis to "send out a message" to youth that skunk
weed can be "lethal," but as an editorial in the Guardian
illustrates, being tough on cannabis consumers, regardless of logic,
science and reason, is not the political points winner it once was.
A self-described soccer mom gave us her impressions of last week's
Global Marijuana March, as manifested in Toronto, Ontario.
An hysterical parents group is finding little enthusiasm from local
law enforcers for a war on shops selling cannabis paraphernalia.
Australian drug expert Alex Wodak suggested cannabis be sold via mail
order through the post office while speaking at the Mardi Grass
festival in Nimbin.
As expected, the British government proudy announced that it will re-reclassify cannabis to "send out a message" to youth that skunk weed can be "lethal," but as an editorial in the Guardian illustrates, being tough on cannabis consumers, regardless of logic, science and reason, is not the political points winner it once was.
A self-described soccer mom gave us her impressions of last week's Global Marijuana March, as manifested in Toronto, Ontario.
An hysterical parents group is finding little enthusiasm from local law enforcers for a war on shops selling cannabis paraphernalia.
Australian drug expert Alex Wodak suggested cannabis be sold via mail order through the post office while speaking at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin.
(13) EDITORIAL: WARPED PERCEPTIONS ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 5 May 2008
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Section: Lead Editorial
Copyright: 2008 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Drugs may open the doors of perception, but drugs policy seems bent on weaving perceptions out of thin air. Last week, headlines proclaimed a new crackdown on cannabis. Based on unattributable briefings, which bypassed the bar on official announcements ahead of the May Day elections, the stories said the drug would be shifted back from class C into class B. That may create the hallucination of action, but it will achieve nothing more substantial.
The stories gained credence when the prime minister publicly described new strains of cannabis as "lethal", as if they could trigger a fatal overdose. That is as fanciful as the idea that sending a moral message will do any good. True, cannabis has got somewhat stronger and - for a minority of users - there is evidence of a link with disabling psychosis. But Whitehall's own panel of experts has concluded that increased marijuana use has not been matched by a corresponding rise in mental illness. As a result it is reported to have rejected reclassification.
Even if the science were different, changing the law would be a mistake - for it will not cut cannabis use. From the 1970s until 2004 harsh dope laws sat on the statute book as a symbol of political resolve, yet with every year that passed more people smoked the drug. A new crackdown now will be even more of a sham, as the current policy shows some signs of working. After cannabis was downgraded four years ago it became more straightforward for police to confiscate and caution. Figures last month showed a big rise in the warnings being handed out - around 20,000 extra cannabis smokers annually are being dealt with by the police. For the first time since records began, cannabis is falling out of fashion: the British Crime Survey shows that the proportion of young people trying the drug has fallen by four percentage points since 2003. Whether or not that is connected to the new laws, going back to the approach followed through the decades when use was relentlessly rising would be perverse.
Which is why it is not going to happen. For dubious reasons, the police chiefs are backing reclassification. But they said last week that they would not revert to the days when cannabis possession gave rise to automatic arrest, something that wasted so much time that officers often turned a blind eye. If the policy on arrest is not changing, the only effect of reclassification will be to threaten cannabis smokers with five-year prison terms. As in the past, that threat will be no deterrent as users know it will be imposed only rarely. But a small minority, who for whatever reason the authorities turn against, will find themselves thrown into jail. For them, a policy based on appearances rather than fact will come at a very real price.
(14) TORONTIANS ROLL SOME JOINTS IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 06 May 2008
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Sudbury Star
Author: Michele Mandel
Organizers were handing out festival maps at Queen's Park yesterday, but the kids ahead of me just laughed them off.
"Who the hell needs a map?" chuckled one freedom toker to the other. "Just follow the smell."
You sure couldn't miss it. My editor told me not to inhale, but I'm not sure what he was smoking when he offered that impossible advice. At Saturday's Toronto Freedom Festival and Global Marijuana March, the pungent aroma of weed was everywhere as thousands converged in the pouring rain to openly puff away in the leafy backyard of our provincial legislature.
Ah, yes, plunk a soccer mom in the midst of a muddy marijuana smokefest and behold her confusion. How many different shaped bongs can there possibly be? Who knew you could smoke a doobie the size of an Arnold Schwarzenegger cigar? And why is that guy inhaling his grass through a gas mask?
"It's just funny," coughs Josh Spatz, an 18-year-old aficionado from Uxbridge, after removing said gas mask to explain. "It just makes your eyes burn a lot more but it grabs your attention."
Sure does. So Josh, I hate to be maternal, but do your parents know where you are?
"Oh, yeah, my mom's cool with it. If it's not at her house, it's not her problem," he laughs. "I've been smoking since Grade 8 - weekends, weekdays. It's a way of life. It calms me down and keeps me centred and it's a lot better than prescription drugs."
Wrapped in a red and white flag with a cannabis leaf at its centre, he decided to come down to find out what the festival was all about. "It's pretty cool. I never thought I could smoke pot in downtown Toronto without getting arrested."
Yeah, about that. Aren't all these happy, mellow people breaking the law? "We've been doing this for 10 years and we've never had a single charge," boasts festival co-founder Neev Tapiro.
(15) GROUP: ENFORCE POT-PARAPHERNALIA BAN ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 3 May 2008
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: Sherry Saavedra, Staff Writer
City Is Focusing on Sale of Pipes for Meth, Crack
COLLEGE AREA - College Area residents are going after smoke shops near San Diego State University, demanding that city officials ban the businesses from selling bongs and other marijuana paraphernalia, from stash kits to scales.
The College Area Community Council has sent letters to Councilman Jim Madaffer and Mayor Jerry Sanders requesting that they enforce two state health and safety codes that together make it a misdemeanor to sell the paraphernalia at seven shops along El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue.
Just before Thanksgiving, City Attorney Michael Aguirre sent cease- and-desist notices to 52 smoke shops citywide. The letters instructed the shops to stop selling drug paraphernalia or face consequences for the misdemeanor, which include up to six months in custody and a $1,000 fine for each violation, plus possible civil prosecution.
But Deputy City Attorney Makini Hammond said the office is targeting paraphernalia for crack and methamphetamine use, not for marijuana, at this time.
Members of the College Area Community Council and community groups elsewhere believe the city isn't fully enforcing the law.
"Clearly, under the code as we read it, bongs are not allowed," said Doug Case, president of the community council. "The reality is that the city attorney doesn't think it's politically popular to prosecute smoke shops for marijuana paraphernalia."
Case said residents support "high-quality retail businesses" in the neighborhoods surrounding San Diego State University and a revitalization of El Cajon Boulevard. Smoke shops don't contribute to a "family-oriented community," he said.
Hammond doesn't dispute that selling marijuana paraphernalia is against the law, but getting a conviction is another matter.
"We've primarily been targeting meth and rock-cocaine pipes because those are the things we believed we would be successful in prosecuting," she said. "The problem with going after marijuana pipes is . . . there's always the defense that the stuff is being used for tobacco purposes."
Hammond said another factor is a lack of adequate police and prosecutorial staffing.
"We have limited resources," Hammond said. "Should we use them going after smoke shops and marijuana bongs or drug houses? What does the community want us to do?"
(16) 'SELL DOPE IN POST OFFICES' ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2008
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Erik Jensen
Cannabis would be sold legally in post offices, in packets that warn against its effects, under a proposal outlined by the head of one of Sydney's major drug and alcohol clinics.
The director of the alcohol and drug service at St Vincent's Hospital, Alex Wodak, said Australia needed to learn from the tobacco industry and the US prohibition in coming to terms with his belief that cannabis would replace cigarettes in consumption levels over the next decade.
"The general principal is that it's not sustainable that we continue to give criminals and corrupt police a monopoly to sell a drug that is soon going to be consumed by more people than tobacco," he said.
"I don't want to see that [industry] fall into the hands of tobacco companies or rapacious business men. I'd like to see it fall into the hands of the failed business people Australia seems so good at producing or, the Australia Post that seems so successful in driving away customers."
Dr Wodak made the proposal for taxed and legalised cannabis at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin yesterday, but said he would be happy to express his opinion to the Federal Government.
"In general terms, among senior doctors, professors, deans, college presidents, I can tell you, from having done a straw poll, there's very strong support for ending the distribution of cannabis by a monopoly of criminals and corrupt police," he said.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Back in Hampshire, England, poppies growing in 26 nearby fields may
indeed be sweet to the eye and delightful to the senses, but not for
the commoner - for these opium poppies are known to Government, and
are destined to be used for officially recognised pain medications.
UK Officials rejected a Freedom of Information request to reveal the
opium fields made by the Southern Daily Echo newspaper. The largest
opium poppy field is said to be over 1,200 hectares.
When a Canadian tank or personnel carrier takes a shortcut through
an Afghan farmer's field, the farmer must be compensated for value
of the crops lost. But when the crop is opium poppies which are
never legal for Afghan farmers (unlike in Hampshire where they are
legal to grow, ironically), the Canadians won't reimburse farmers.
Why? Though farmers may suffer devastating financial loss from the
trampling of his most lucrative cash crop, Canadian forces don't
wish to be seen to be giving money to lawbreakers.
Business must be booming for Mexican cartels, according to the
Washington Post this week, cartels are making ever more brazen job
offers. One recently placed 16-foot advertising banner in the city
of Nuevo Laredo, ostensibly left by the Gulf Cartel, reads, "We're
offering you a good salary, food and medical care for your
families." At the behest of Washington, Mexican President Felipe
Calder=F3n has waged an intensified drug war since 2006, only to see
cartels grow larger and more numerous.
In Canada, there's talk of the Province of British Columbia picking
up the tab for Insite, should the federal government decide to cut
off funding. The legal authority for allowing drug users to legally
inject there, however, runs out June 30. While a host of studies
shows that Insite has saved lives, "opponents are left quoting from
a single, dubious study that suggests the experiment has been a
failure," written by "the research director of the Drug Prevention
Network of Canada, a prohibition group led by former Conservative MP
Meanwhile in Canada, the minority conservative government of Stephen
Harper continues to demagogue the drug issue, copying failed
prohibition policies from the U.S. Mandatory minimums, which turn
judges into rubber-stamping figureheads and let prosecutors become
de facto judges, have failed in the U.S. to do anything but pack
jails with bit players. "If [get-tough drug policies were] the best
way to produce safety, we should be the safest country in the world,
and clearly that's not the case," noted one U.S. activist. Instead
of keeping drugs away from anyone, such laws have made America the
world's largest jailer. "Do we want to be building prisons or
creating opportunities for education for our children?"
Back in Hampshire, England, poppies growing in 26 nearby fields may indeed be sweet to the eye and delightful to the senses, but not for the commoner - for these opium poppies are known to Government, and are destined to be used for officially recognised pain medications. UK Officials rejected a Freedom of Information request to reveal the opium fields made by the Southern Daily Echo newspaper. The largest opium poppy field is said to be over 1,200 hectares.
When a Canadian tank or personnel carrier takes a shortcut through an Afghan farmer's field, the farmer must be compensated for value of the crops lost. But when the crop is opium poppies which are never legal for Afghan farmers (unlike in Hampshire where they are legal to grow, ironically), the Canadians won't reimburse farmers. Why? Though farmers may suffer devastating financial loss from the trampling of his most lucrative cash crop, Canadian forces don't wish to be seen to be giving money to lawbreakers.
Business must be booming for Mexican cartels, according to the Washington Post this week, cartels are making ever more brazen job offers. One recently placed 16-foot advertising banner in the city of Nuevo Laredo, ostensibly left by the Gulf Cartel, reads, "We're offering you a good salary, food and medical care for your families." At the behest of Washington, Mexican President Felipe Calder=F3n has waged an intensified drug war since 2006, only to see cartels grow larger and more numerous.
In Canada, there's talk of the Province of British Columbia picking up the tab for Insite, should the federal government decide to cut off funding. The legal authority for allowing drug users to legally inject there, however, runs out June 30. While a host of studies shows that Insite has saved lives, "opponents are left quoting from a single, dubious study that suggests the experiment has been a failure," written by "the research director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, a prohibition group led by former Conservative MP Randy White.
Meanwhile in Canada, the minority conservative government of Stephen Harper continues to demagogue the drug issue, copying failed prohibition policies from the U.S. Mandatory minimums, which turn judges into rubber-stamping figureheads and let prosecutors become de facto judges, have failed in the U.S. to do anything but pack jails with bit players. "If [get-tough drug policies were] the best way to produce safety, we should be the safest country in the world, and clearly that's not the case," noted one U.S. activist. Instead of keeping drugs away from anyone, such laws have made America the world's largest jailer. "Do we want to be building prisons or creating opportunities for education for our children?"
(17) LOCATION OF OPIUM POPPY FIELDS TO REMAIN SECRET ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2008
Source: Southern Daily Echo (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Southern Daily Echo
The Government has insisted that the location of dozens of Hampshire fields used to grow the raw materials for heroin must stay secret - to stop people stealing the controversial crop.
The Home Office rejected a Freedom of Information request lodged by the Daily Echo to find out the precise locations of 26 sites in the county used to cultivate opium poppies for medicinal use last year.
The poppies, from which the illegal Class A drug heroin is derived, are used to produce legal morphine, which is used by the NHS to relieve pain.
In February, the Daily Echo revealed that Hampshire was the UK's capital for opium production, with the county's 2007 crop, taking up 1,238 hectares, almost as large as the rest of the UK's put together.
(18) MAKING HAY? NOT IF YOU GROW POPPIES ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Author: Ryan Cormier, Canwest News Service
In Afghanistan, Compensating For Ruined Crops Is A Tricky Task; Canadian Forces
PANJWAII DISTRICT, Afghanistan - When paying compensation to Afghans for collateral damage from military operations, Canadian Forces have drawn a line in the sand where the poppies grow.
Soldiers in the Mushan region were in a unique bind recently after their 83-vehicle convoy rumbled over two crops -- one wheat, one poppy -- to set up an overnight security perimeter.
Land was torn up and both crops ground into the mud. The wheat farmer would have to be compensated, but the poppy growers presented a Catch-22. Replacement Canadian and Afghanistan soldiers in the region had just arrived that day. Angering locals by not paying for poppies was a poor start for soldiers about to forge new relationships. But the alternative was to finance the drug trade.
According to a recent NATO report, 93% of the global opium supply comes fromAfghanistan poppies. Poor farmers grow the illegal crop because it is profitable, but much of the money lands in Taliban pockets.
Canadians discussed the security implications, but decided they had little choice. They agreed it would look unseemly and send the wrong message.
"Poppies are not recognized as a legal crop by the government of Afghanistan," Major Mark Campbell of the operational mentoring and liaison team later told the group who met to negotiate and collect their compensation. "We will not pay for it. We will only pay for the land so it can be properly irrigated to grow a proper crop, like wheat."
(19) LOCATION OF OPIUM POPPY FIELDS TO REMAIN SECRET ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 7 May 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post Foreign Service
Banners Taunt Military With Appeals to Soldiers and Deserters
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- The job offer was tempting.
It was printed on a 16-foot-wide banner and strung above one of the busiest roads here, calling out to any "soldier or ex-soldier."
"We're offering you a good salary, food and medical care for your families," it said in block letters.
But there was a catch: The employer was Los Zetas, a notorious Gulf cartel hit squad formed by elite Mexican army deserters. The group even included a phone number for job seekers that linked to a voice mailbox.
Outrageous as they seem, drug cartel messages such as the banner hung here late last month are becoming increasingly common along the violence-savaged U.S.-Mexico border and in other parts of the region. As soldiers wage a massive campaign against drug trafficking across Mexico, they are encountering an information war managed by criminal networks that operate with near impunity.
Marcelino, a 74-year-old pensioner who did not provide his last name for fear of retribution, said that he had been wronged plenty of times by police but that drug traffickers had given him a sturdy mountain bike. When the subject of the cartel's banner here came up, he laughed until he broke down in a coughing fit.
"We are all Zetas. No doubt about it, we are all Zetas," he said.
A few days after the cartel recruitment banner appeared in Nuevo Laredo, Martinez said, he came across a group of 8-year-olds talking - -- as 8-year-olds are wont to do -- about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
One little boy stood up, Martinez said, and proudly announced his hope: "I want to be a Zeta."
(20) IDEOLOGICAL PREJUDICES NOT SMART ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 06 May 2008
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Keith Baldrey
The clock is ticking on the future of one of Canada's most important and unique attempts to deal with drug addiction. Perhaps that's a good thing.
It may very well be good that the federal government is sending signals it will soon no longer support Vancouver's supervised injection facility [Insite]. Getting Ottawa out of the picture may actually create some certainty and stability for the controversial facility in Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside.
That's because Health Minister George Abbott has said the province supports the facility remaining open, which suggests the B.C. government is willing to operate it should the feds decide to bail.
Insite, which opened its doors in 2003, has been allowed to exist because the federal government granted it an exemption from the country's narcotic laws [illegal drugs, notably heroin, are allowed to be on the premises].
But the exemption expires on June 30. A host of supporters of Insite have pooled efforts to keep the facility open - including a court challenge - and goodness knows they're pushing a big rock up a steep hill when it comes to dealing with the feds.
Instead, opponents of Insite are reduced to relying on a couple of Vancouver police officers who don't like the fact the facility exists [although more than a 1,000 ex-U.S. drug police officers think the whole approach to fighting drugs has been a dismal failure, and support some kind of end to prohibition].
And opponents are left quoting from a single, dubious study that suggests the experiment has been a failure. But when one looks further, it turns out the study's author is the research director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, a prohibition group led by former Conservative MP Randy White.
For the federal government to give greater weight to such a flawed, questionable report [done, by the way, for a non-scientific anti-drug organization] over such esteemed and credible sources as the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and Dr. Kendall would be a travesty.
But then again, maybe that would be a good thing. If we can get rid of ideological, moralistic attitudes shaping our approach to dealing with drug addiction then maybe we can make some progress on that bleak landscape.
So a word to Ottawa: hand this facility over to the B.C. government. Let it continue its operations and good work.
Keep your ideological prejudices to yourselves. This province, and particularly the people who literally need Insite to stay alive, would be all the better for it.
(21) TORIES ARE COPYING U.S. CRIME LAWS THAT FAILED, EXPERT SAYS ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Province
Author: Don Butler, Canwest News Service
2.3 Million Americans Behind Bars
The Harper government is embracing tough-on-crime policies even as the United States backs away from similar approaches that have produced record levels of incarceration, huge costs and racialized prisons, says an American expert on sentencing policy.
"We've had this get-tough movement for three decades now," says Marc Mauer, head of the Sentencing Project, which promotes reforms in sentencing law and alternatives to incarceration.
"If that's the best way to produce safety, we should be the safest country in the world, and clearly that's not the case."
Mauer's observations are relevant because the federal Tackling Violent Crime Act echoes the punitive approach to crime adopted in the U.S.
Among other things, it increases mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes and impaired driving and requires those convicted of three serious sexual or violent offences to prove why they should not be jailed indefinitely.
The Harper government pushed the bill through even though crime rates in Canada are falling and are now at their lowest level in 25 years.
In the U.S., three-strike laws and widespread use of mandatory minimum sentences have resulted in a record 2.3 million people behind bars -- 700,000 more than China, which has four times the population.
"Essentially it's become a question of where do we want to go. Do we want to be building prisons or creating opportunities for education for our children?"
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
TRACY INGLE: ANOTHER DRUG WAR OUTRAGE / RADLEY BALKO ( Top )
At Reason Hit & Run
TO CATCH A LEAF ( Top )
New York City's little-noticed crackdown on pot smokers
By Jacob Sullum
RANDOM STUDENT DRUG TESTING IS NOT THE ANSWER ( Top )
By Jennifer Kern
The drug czar's staff is touring the country hosting summits designed to entice local educators to start drug testing their students -- randomly and without cause.
MISSISSIPPI DRUG WAR BLUES - THE CASE OF CORY MAYE ( Top )
At 11p.m on December 26, 2001 police in Prentiss, Mississippi raided the residence of Cory Maye, a 21-year-old father who was at home with his 18-month-old daughter Ta'Corriana.
SAN DIEGO STUDENTS TAKE ON THE DEA ( Top )
On Tuesday, May 6th, the Drug Enforcement Administration swept into San Diego State University and arrested 75 students accused of selling drugs on campus. The news media swarmed on the story, eager to declare victory in San Diego's War on Drugs, but the SDSU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy wouldn't let that happen.
CANNABIS UPGRADED TO CLASS B DRUG ( Top )
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has confirmed in the House of Commons that cannabis will be upgraded from a Class C to a Class B drug.
MILLIONS QUIT CANNABIS FOLLOWING RECLASSIFICATION ( Top )
By Steve Rolles, Transform Drug Policy Foundation
After listening to Jacqui Smith MP talking about skunk cannabis in Parliament today millions of young people have decided to quit using cannabis and drink 3 litre bottles of white-lightning cider instead.
NYC'S ARREST RATE FOR POT ACHIEVED BY POLICE DECEPTION AND SCAMS ( Top )
By Steven Wishnia
New study says New York's cannabis crackdown is both racist and fraudulent -- and that more have been arrested under Bloomberg than Giuliani.
DEPRESSED TEENS USING MARIJUANA, OTHER DRUGS TO RELIEVE SYMPTOMS ( Top )
Millions of American teens report experiencing weeks of hopelessness and loss of interest in normal daily activities and many of these depressed teens are using marijuana and other drugs, making their situation worse, according to a new White House report.
The report, from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), reveals that marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.
PSST... GOVERNMENT-SUPPLIED MARIJUANA PROGRAM TURNS 30 ( Top )
That's right, our government has been supplying medical marijuana to some patients for three full decades.
By Bruce Mirken
A PRIMER ON PLAN MEXICO ( Top )
By Laura Carlsen
The Bush Administration Has Put Its Proposal to Militarize Mexico to the Upcoming Iraq Supplemental Bill
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 05/06/08 - Doug Hiatt
Douglas Hiatt a Seattle attorney discusses the death of Hep C patient Tim Garon who was refused a liver transplant because of his use of medical marijuana. Noted chemist Sasha Shulgin and his wife Ann discuss the passing of Dr. Albert Hofmann. Steven Wishnia gives the reasons why pot will soon be legal (and why it won't).
Cultural Baggage - 05/07/08 - Clarence Bradford
Clarence Bradford, the former police chief of Houston, Texas now running for District Attorney of Harris County discusses the drug war with host Dean Becker a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
HELP STUDENTS RISE ABOVE DRUG CONVICTIONS ( Top )
Students for Sensible Drug Policy needs your help to overturn a federal law that takes away college aid as a punishment for drug offenses. Since this aid elimination penalty was enacted in 1998, more than 200,000 students have been punished by it!
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
MARIJUANA WORKS WHEN OTHER MEDICATIONS FAIL ( Top )
State Sen. Thomas George's statement that Michigan's medical marijuana ballot proposal is unnecessary, "because we already have medical marijuana in pill form" is incorrect ( "Michigan to vote on legalizing marijuana for medical use," April 29).
Marinol, the pill he's referring to, is a synthetic form of THC, one of more than 60 active compounds in marijuana. Like other medications, Marinol doesn't work for everyone. That's why there are many different drugs on the market to treat the same ailment.
Before my wife, Beverly, passed away from ovarian cancer, we tried several medications to relieve the intense nausea brought on by chemotherapy. None of them worked for her. Beverly was particularly sensitive to drugs, including Marinol, which made her hallucinate, even at the lowest dose available. With just two puffs of marijuana, her nausea disappeared. She didn't hallucinate.
Many patients cannot swallow a pill when they are constantly vomiting. If they hold it down, it can take several hours to take effect. Marinol is also expensive.
There is promising research into the therapeutic values of other active components in marijuana. The American College of Physicians strongly supports giving seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana without fear of arrest or jail.
We have an opportunity in Michigan to make sure seriously ill patients can get relief.
Dr. George Wagoner, Manistee
Pubdate: Mon, 5 May 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
LETTER WRITER OF THE MONTH - APRIL ( Top )
DrugSense recognizes Suzanne Wills of Dallas, Texas for her three letters published during April which brings her total published letters that we know of up to 30. Suzy signs her letters with Drug Policy Forum of Texas ( http://www.dpft.org/ ) as part of her signature, which is usually printed. Suzy is also a MAP Newshawk, most often newshawking Texas newspapers. You may read her published letters at http://www.mapinc.org/writers/Suzanne+Wills
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
Hypocrisy of Appalachian State University Drug Policy ( Top )
By Matthew Robinson, PhD
Recent stories in "The Appalachian" give students an opportunity to see the hypocrisy of our approach to drug policy. From these stories, we learn: 1) Appalachian State University is unwilling to enforce its own policy on tobacco smoking near campus buildings in spite of the dangers associated with tobacco smoke; and 2) students will be arrested for possessing and intending to sell marijuana in spite of the relative harmlessness of the drug.
Simple math demonstrates the ludicrous nature of this situation (keep in mind these are estimates). There are approximately 15,000 Appalachian students. Roughly 30% of them smoke, meaning there are approximately 4,500 smokers on campus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 33% and 50% of smokers will die from smoking-related illnesses; thus, between 1,485 and 2,250 current ASU students will die from smoking tobacco.
Assuming even 20% of Appalachian students smoke marijuana each month, there are approximately 3,000 current marijuana smokers among our students. Of these 3,000 students, it is possible that a grand total of one may die from marijuana-related illnesses (the CDC says there are only approximately 1 to 2 marijuana deaths in the entire country in any given year, so odds are not a single Appalachian student will die from marijuana).
Comparing the death rate of these two drugs, we see that tobacco is about 990 to 1,500 times more deadly per user than marijuana! In spite of this obvious discrepancy, the university police will continue to arrest marijuana possessors and would-be sellers, and yet, they are "uninterested" in enforcing the tobacco ban.
Meanwhile, those of us who are sick of being exposed to the harmful chemicals and carcinogens of tobacco smokers on campus are told to use "positive reinforcement" to deal with this problem. I can barely stomach the hypocrisy.
Ten years ago I proposed a six-element plan to my university to deal with this problem, once and for all. The elements included: 1) banning smoking near university entrances; 2) posting large and visible no smoking signs at each university entrance; 3) widely publicizing the new policy; 4) removing all ashtrays from near campus entries; 5) enforcing the policy with police officers the first two weeks of every semester until a new, voluntary anti-smoking culture took over; and 6) providing smokers with a place to smoke that is not near any campus entrance. Unless every one of these elements is implemented, the problem will persist.
I call on university officials with the power to do something about this problem to do something about it once and for all. I am sick of seeing marijuana offenders arrested while the people who force me to breathe in the harmful chemicals and carcinogens of tobacco smoke are literally ignored.
Matthew Robinson is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He is co-author of Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, State University of New York Press, 2007.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they can never make him wise, virtuous or happy." - John Quincy Adams
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