This Just In
(1)Sentencing Law Repealed
(2)Parolees OK to Use Medical Marijuana
(3)Marijuana-Fine Process Eased for Adults
(4)Douglas Won't Veto New Hemp Law

Hot Off The 'Net
-Failing Upward / Radley Balko
-Smoke A Joint And Your Whole Family Could End Up Homeless / Tony Newman
-Bush Can't Remember If He Used Cocaine Or Not
-New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law Is Working, But Still Has Some Kinks
-Drug Truth Network
-Committee Briefing On Harm Reduction Programs In Canada

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2008 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau

PROVIDENCE -- For the second year in a row, state lawmakers have approved a bill to wipe out the state's mandatory minimum sentences for serious drug crimes, such as the sale of heroin, cocaine or significant amounts of marijuana.

And for the second year in a row, Republican Governor Carcieri is likely to veto it.

Since this "is essentially the same bill that went to the governor last year, and he vetoed it, it is reasonable to believe it will receive the same treatment this year," said Carcieri spokeswoman Barbara Trainor in response to inquiries after the measure cleared its final legislative hurdle yesterday.

Passed by the House on a 52-to-13 vote after clearing the Senate earlier this session, the bill is one in a constellation of bills to reduce sentences, let prisoners out early and "quash and destroy" criminal records that are being pushed with notable success this year by criminal defense lawyers, prisoner-rights advocates and the minority community.




Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2008 Missoulian
Author: Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press

HELENA - The state Department of Corrections has backed off from a proposed rule that would bar anyone on parole or probation from obtaining medical marijuana without a judge's approval.

Proponents of the medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 2004, argued during a March hearing that the law does not allow any penalty for using medical marijuana, regardless of a person's criminal history.

"Our hands are tied by the way the initiative-passed law was written," Diana Koch, chief legal counsel for the department, said in a statement Thursday. "As a result, those who have broken the law cannot be subject to this reasonable restriction."




Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Felisa Cardona, The Denver Post

Adults cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in Denver will no longer have to appear in court under a rule adopted by the city attorney.

Now citations may be paid through the mail, Denver Assistant City Attorney Vincent DiCroce announced during the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel meeting Wednesday.

Also, the panel voted 5-4 to recommend in its first report to the City Council that the city attorney stop prosecuting the simple adult marijuana-possession cases altogether.

The panel was created when Denver voters approved a measure to make adult marijuana possession the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority." It is made of up representatives from law enforcement, city officials, marijuana proponents and members of the legal community.

Denver panelist Mason Tvert said the move to allow mailing the fines was a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.




Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2008 Times Argus
Author: Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Press Bureau

MONTPELIER - Gov. James Douglas will allow a bill legalizing hemp to become law despite concerns from the law enforcement community about its impact on marijuana eradication efforts in the state.

The legislation, which legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp in Vermont, won nearly unanimous support in the both the House and Senate this session. Though Douglas doesn't support the bill, and has refused to attach his signature to it, he will nonetheless forward the legislation to the Secretary of State, which will effectively enact the law.

"It's a do-nothing bill," Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs said Thursday. "The federal law still prohibits the cultivation of industrial hemp, and so the practical impact of this legislation is virtually nothing."

Douglas could have vetoed the legislation, an option he considered after law enforcement officials raised concerns. But Gibbs said Douglas does not "exercise his veto authority lightly," and that the bill is too insignificant to warrant such an extreme action.

"The consequence of this bill is so low, so insignificant, that it doesn't rise to the level of a gubernatorial veto," Gibbs said.





Support for boosting the drug war can no longer be taken for granted, either at the federal or local level, as our first two stories indicated. And, old drug warriors can be reformed. At the same time, prohibition can corrupt dedicated people, and despite prohibition, illegal drugs still find their way to seemingly protected places.


Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey

MEXICO CITY -- The United States Congress has scaled back on President Bush's anti-drug plans for Mexico and put human rights conditions on some of the aid, drawing fire from some Mexicans who accuse American lawmakers of meddling in their country's internal affairs.

As part of a broader emergency appropriations bill that remains under discussion and could face a presidential veto, the Senate on Thursday approved $350 million to aid Mexico in what has become a pitched battle against drug trafficking. The Senate would also give $100 million to countries in Central America that are in drug wars of their own, as well as to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Besides reducing the Bush administration's request, which would have sent $500 million to Mexico and $50 million to Central America, the Senate adopted language similar to that in a recently passed House bill that would hold up a quarter of the money until the State Department ruled that Mexico was meeting certain human rights markers. The House approved $400 million for Mexico, one of several differences that will be worked out in a House-Senate conference in the coming weeks.

The Senate measure still represents a major increase in aid to Mexico in a single year, legislative aides said, reflecting bipartisan concern over the fact that an estimated 90 percent of the cocaine entering the United States comes through Mexican territory.

But at issue is the performance of Mexico's army and the police, which have been accused by human rights organizations of engaging in abuses as they chase down the country's drug cartels.




Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2008
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2008 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Terry Smith

New election, same results. Three of four marijuana reform initiatives were approved by Hailey's electorate Tuesday.

Voters approved initiatives to legalize medical use of marijuana by a margin of 417-296, to legalize industrial use of hemp by 403-308 and to make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest police priority in the city by a margin of 381-331.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2008 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Valerie Richardson

DENVER -- Bob Barr has been to the Dark Side, and they do indeed have cookies.

The Libertarian National Convention kicked off yesterday with a tea-and-cookies reception hosted by the Marijuana Policy Project featuring none other than Mr. Barr, the party's leading candidate for its presidential nomination.

Such a scene would have been unthinkable a few years ago when Mr. Barr's name was synonymous with the war on drugs. In 1998, he authored the Barr Amendment, which prohibited the District of Columbia from voting to permit medical-marijuana use and became a lightning rod for drug-legalization advocates.

But times have changed. After leaving the Republican Party in 2006, Mr. Barr denounced the federal drug war and became a lobbyist for his former nemeses at the Marijuana Policy Project.

One of his top priorities during the last congressional session was the repeal of his own amendment, which has remained part of the congressional appropriations bill for the District of Columbia even though Mr. Barr left office in 2002.

"Ten years ago, we were natural enemies," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "But people do change their minds sometimes. He's been evolving over the last few years on legalization issues, and we're always happy when people come over to our side."




Pubdate: Tue, 27 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Authors: Randal C. Archibold and Andrew Becker

As Enforcement Grows, Corruption Cases Increase

SAN DIEGO -- The smuggler in the public service announcement sat handcuffed in prison garb, full of bravado and shrugging off the danger of bringing illegal immigrants across the border.

"Sometimes they die in the desert, or the cars crash, or they drown," he said. "But it's not my fault."

The smuggler in the commercial, produced by the Mexican government several years ago, was played by an American named Raul Villarreal, who at the time was a United States Border Patrol agent and a spokesman for the agency here.

Now, federal investigators are asking: Was he really acting?

Mr. Villarreal and a brother, Fidel, also a former Border Patrol agent, are suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border. The brothers quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to have fled to Mexico.

The Villarreal investigation is among scores of corruption cases in recent years that have alarmed officials in the Homeland Security Department just as it is hiring thousands of border agents to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes.




Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2008
Source: La Canada Valley Sun (CA)
Copyright: 2008 La Canada Valley Sun
Author: Mary O'Keefe

Part 3 of a series

Most interviewed for this series have said that alcohol is a problem with La Canada teenagers. However, illegal drugs are definitely present as well, law enforcement officials say.

"There are issues of drugs in the La Canada area," said Sgt. Harold Chilstrom of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's narcotics division.

He added that heroin is present, as it is in neighboring Crescenta Valley. "But I am hearing there is evidence of methamphetamine and marijuana [in La Canada]."

Chilstrom said that La Canada is not immune to the same drug dangers that other communities face and parents can play an important role in protecting their children.

"Ask questions. Get more involved with the kids," Chilstrom said.

Other law enforcement officers interviewed for this series have said that La Canada teens spend a lot of time behind closed doors and estate gates.

"Don't allow them to be clandestine," Chilstrom said.

He added that parents should go into their teen's room and not necessarily search, but look around.

"A good way to conduct spot checks is by Mom doing the laundry and putting the clothes in drawers," he said, "if the situation is a touchy subject."

Chilstrom added that teenagers in both La Canada and Crescenta Valley are obtaining drugs from outside their communities.

In interviews with teens who have used drugs, the most common scenario is that the teen travels to an area in Los Angeles, buys the drugs and brings them back to sell or share with friends.




There's a little bit of justice coming out of a deadly botched drug raid in Atlanta two years ago, but constitutional rights are under assault in Michigan. In Hawaii, a county government again rejected federal funds for marijuana eradication funds thanks to complaint by citizens. And, stories about the loss of federal funding for many area drug task forces is not new, but few are as biased and dramatic as a piece published in West Virginia last week.


Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2008
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Steve Visser, Staff Write

Arthur Bruce Tesler's acquittal on two of three charges Tuesday may have spared him a long prison term for his role in the killing of a 92-year-old woman -- but a spectator at his trial said the Almighty would have the last word.

"I put it all in God's hands," said Esther Woltz as she waited on the Fulton County jury's verdict for the Atlanta police detective.

The jury acquitted Tesler on two charges from the illegal 2006 narcotics raid in which officers shot and killed Kathryn Johnston in her northwest Atlanta home. It found him guilty of lying in an official investigation in the cover-up of police wrongdoing that followed the shooting.

"It is not like anyone intended to hurt her, but that's what came out of it," Woltz said. "Right will win out."

Tesler, 42, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Thursday. If he had been convicted on all counts, he could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The verdict came shortly after the jury reviewed a transcript of Tesler's defense testimony. He and his two partners were accused of lying to get the no-knock search warrant for Johnston's home on the mistaken belief it was the house of a drug dealer.




Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2008, The Detroit News

The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling released Wednesday, said police may use dogs to sniff outside a house for drugs without a search warrant. A Wayne County judge had suppressed evidence and dismissed marijuana charges against Detroiter Jeffrey Jones -- who had been convicted of previous drug charges -- because Jones argued the sniffing was an illegal search. The majority on the appeals panel agreed with prosecutors that police, acting on a tip, may use a trained dog to sniff the front door, and use that information to get a warrant to search inside the house.




Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2008
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2008 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Kevin Dayton, Advertiser Big Island Bureau

Big Island Police Say Council Vote May Limit Other Law Enforcement

HILO, Hawai'i -- For the second time in eight years, the Big Island County Council has refused to accept grant money to finance county marijuana eradication programs, and Big Island police say that move may hamper other law enforcement work, including efforts to crack down on harder drugs.

The council last week deadlocked in a 4-4 vote over whether to accept $282,000 in federal money and $159,000 in state funds to target marijuana-growing operations. The tie means the council will not accept the money, and East Hawai'i Vice Commander Lt. Samuel Jelsma said he is not aware of any plan by police to resubmit the measures to the council for reconsideration.

Danielle Ciccone, who submitted testimony to the council opposed to eradication, said she hopes the vote will increase public awareness of the problems with the overflights. She sees the eradication efforts as violations of residents' constitutional right to be free of illegal searches and seizures of their property.

"I think they should respect the people and respect the council and cease these overflights immediately for good of the land and the good of the people," she said.

Ciccone is a supporter of Project Peaceful Sky, an initiative organizers say has collected 3,000 signatures on a petition urging the county to make marijuana eradication "the lowest police priority."




Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph (WV)
Copyright: 2008 Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Author: Tammie Toler, Princeton Times

PRINCETON - When members of two Princeton neighborhoods became convinced this spring that drug dealers were living and working next door, they called the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

For weeks, officers with the undercover unit and other Mercer County law enforcement agencies kept their eyes on the Old Beckley Road and Lower Bell Street houses in question, stopping motorists as they left and tracing potential drug-trafficking patterns. In early April, they arrested two suspects accused of a variety of drug and weapons charges.

At the time, task force Coordinator Sgt. J. Centeno said his officers had answered the community calls for help.

Now, he's asking for assistance from the citizens he hopes to continue serving and the lawmakers who charge him with protecting local streets. Without that help, there may not be anyone there to take similar calls in the future.

The Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force is a multi-agency partnership forged with local law enforcement officers and federal funds and tasked with tracking and removing drug activity in Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties. Armed with six officers, including Centeno, in-depth drug training and sophisticated surveillance equipment, the task force works an average of 300 drug-related cases per year.

Centeno isn't sure his elite law enforcement team will be able to continue that trend if he loses 67 percent of the federal funds previously allotted to the task force, and time is running out for lawmakers to rewrite the current budget bill.




The evidence mounts like falling leaves that reducing cannabis use and availability is a very bad idea from a public health perspective. In addition to forcing consumers to choose more harmful alternatives, prohibition is forcing hundreds of thousands of war veterans to needlessly suffer from PTSD.

A Canadian student has been suspended for attending a cannabis rally, and being foolish enough to allow his friends to hand in photographs of the event with their homework.

Not even the promise of federal funding can convince the Big Island County Council to waste more time and resources on futile, nay counter-productive, cannabis search and destroy operations.

Finally, a reminder from California that, even when the laws are relaxed, the stigma, stereotypes and discrimination remain. Cannabis use may be a victimless crime, but prohibitionists are still doing all they can to change that.


Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2008
Source: CounterPunch (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 CounterPunch
Author: Fred Gardner

Does the VA Care?

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti will rule any day now on a suit brought by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth. The vets want the judge to order the Department of Veterans Affairs to upgrade its mental-health services. Some 500 vets are committing suicide every month. There is a backlog of 600,000 disability claims, half of them involving post-traumatic stress and depression. The wait to have your claim adjudicated can be five years or more. Lawyers for the VA state that 1,300 therapists have been hired to solve the problem; and anyway, they contend, a judge can't tell the VA how to conduct itself, only Congress can.

Outside Conti's courtroom in the San Francisco federal building one morning a Vietnam vet I'd met long ago asked what I was doing there. I said maybe I'd write about the runaround that vets have been getting from the VA in connection with PTSD. He said, "Welcome back," as if I had gone somewhere. Single Issue Politics separates us from our potential allies.

California cannabis specialists report that 3-5% of their patients have PTSD diagnoses. The late Tod Mikuriya, MD, being a psychiatrist who made his own diagnoses, saw a slightly higher percentage. This is from Mikuriya's classic 2005 paper on the subject:

"Approximately eight percent of the 9,000 Californians whose cannabis use I have monitored presented with PTSD (309.81) as a primary diagnosis. Many of them are Vietnam veterans whose chronic depression, insomnia, and accompanying irritability cannot be relieved by conventional psychotherapeutics and is worsened by alcohol. For many of these veterans, chronic pain from old physical injury compounds problems with narcotic dependence and side effects of opioids.

"Cannabis relieves pain, enables sleep, normalizes gastrointestinal function and restores peristalsis. Fortified by improved digestion and adequate rest, the patient can resist being overwhelmed by triggering stimuli. There is no other psychotherapeutic drug with these synergistic and complementary effects."



 (15) POT SMOKER'S LAMENT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 24 May 2008
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Ben Spencer

2-Day School Suspension Doesn't Smell Right For Marijuana Marcher

For most 17-year-old high school students, it doesn't get much better than a four-day weekend.

For a self-proclaimed -- albeit occasional -- pot smoker, it's like manna from heaven.

But Matthew Bruni would rather have been at school instead of at home yesterday after being handed a two-day suspension from Richmond Hill's Saint Theresa Catholic High School.

His crime?

Joining two of his toking buddies -- plus another 20,000 weed walkers - -- at the 10th annual Global Marijuana March at Queen's Park earlier this month.

Matthew's buddies handed a teacher footage of the three of them at the May 3 "freedom festival" for a school assignment.

The Grade 11 student wasn't involved in the assignment and says the footage shows him smoking a cigarette.

But the school claims it's a joint and that Matthew is high as a kite.

"They claim I was too stoned to remember," Matthew said, adding his school is taking a "holier-than-thou" attitude.

So was he?

"I was, but they don't have it on camera so they can't prove it," he said.




Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2008
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2008 The Honolulu Advertiser

Big Island Police Say Council Vote May Limit Other Law Enforcement

HILO, Hawai'i -- For the second time in eight years, the Big Island County Council has refused to accept grant money to finance county marijuana eradication programs, and Big Island police say that move may hamper other law enforcement work, including efforts to crack down on harder drugs.

The council last week deadlocked in a 4-4 vote over whether to accept $282,000 in federal money and $159,000 in state funds to target marijuana-growing operations. The tie means the council will not accept the money, and East Hawai'i Vice Commander Lt. Samuel Jelsma said he is not aware of any plan by police to resubmit the measures to the council for reconsideration.

Danielle Ciccone, who submitted testimony to the council opposed to eradication, said she hopes the vote will increase public awareness of the problems with the overflights. She sees the eradication efforts as violations of residents' constitutional right to be free of illegal searches and seizures of their property.

"I think they should respect the people and respect the council and cease these overflights immediately for good of the land and the good of the people," she said.

Ciccone is a supporter of Project Peaceful Sky, an initiative organizers say has collected 3,000 signatures on a petition urging the county to make marijuana eradication "the lowest police priority."




Pubdate: Sun, 25 May 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Jim Sanders

Californians gave Gary Ross the legal right to smoke medicinal marijuana at home.

But that didn't keep the Carmichael resident from being fired for doing so.

Ross is at the epicenter of a fight pitting the rights of more than a quarter-million medicinal marijuana users against those of business owners.

"It's insane that someone has to fight so hard to use a medication that a doctor says is best for your treatment," said Ross, 46.

The issue is not whether workers can be stoned on the job - they can't - but whether even trace amounts of doctor-approved pot are grounds for firing.

The California Supreme Court ruled against Ross in January, sparking recent legislation to protect the jobs of medicinal users. The court found that California's medicinal marijuana initiative, passed in 1996, did not address employment.

Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, businesses have the right to fire anyone who tests positive for it, the court ruled.

"An employer may require pre-employment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration," the Supreme Court ruled.

Stewart Katz, Ross' attorney, said the ruling essentially forces medicinal pot smokers to choose between work or medication.

Because marijuana can be detected in the system for days or weeks after use, medicinal users can be fired long after any effects are felt, Katz said.

"They shouldn't be rendered second-class citizens," he said. "On a fundamental moral, ethical level, it's just completely wrong."

"It's a medicine, folks," said Ross, a single father of two who now works in park management. "Why can't we take our mind out of the Sixties, move forward and apply the science that's available to us?"




In Mexico, President Calderon's strategy of out-brutalizing the cartels is continuing to backfire, as drug traffickers battle over market share. The reverberations from last week's killing of a top police official in Mexico City is giving other lawmen there second thoughts about their career choices.

Philippine police in Cebu ponder the killing of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent Priscillano Gingoyon Jr. - supposedly killed by a drug courier, because Gingoyon was (says his suspected killer) in reality a drug trafficker. The situation was further complicated when police revealed the agent's suspected killer, Romulo Deo Soreno, was a "vital asset" in fighting drugs there. For years, the Philippines has been plagued with extralegal executions of drug suspects, which are suspected to be carried out by police themselves.

In British Columbia, Canada, the provincial Supreme Court unexpectedly ruled this week that attempts to close down the Insite supervised injection center violated the Canadian Charter of Rights, and so Insite should be permitted to operate. Casting pretense of objectivity aside, the Harper government promised to appeal the decision. Insite, North America's only supervised injection center, is credited with saving lives from drug overdoses with prompt medical attention.

And in Saanich, British Columbia, a raid on the wrong house gives the public a peek into police practices, as the victim of the mistaken police raid are left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Held at gunpoint on the floor for an hour, forced to soil themselves, then arrested and taken to the police station - the police later "apologized" for the raid: they thought someone there might have had meth. One humiliated occupant now suffering from the trauma of the raid is unable to work. Any counseling or medical help? No, says government: for they aren't victims of crime.


Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: James C. McKinley, Jr.

Attacks Erode Efforts to Cut Corruption

MEXICO CITY -- The assassination was an inside job. The federal police commander kept his schedule secret and slept in a different place each night, yet the killer had the keys to the official's apartment and was waiting for him when he arrived after midnight.

When the commander, Commissioner Edgar Millan Gomez, the acting chief of the federal police, died with eight bullets in his chest on May 8, it sent chills through a force that had increasingly found itself a target.


Since coming to office in December 2006, Mr. Calderon has sought to revamp and professionalize the federal police force, using it, with the army, to mount huge interventions in cities and states once controlled by drug traffickers.

The result has been mayhem: a street war in which no target has been too big, no attack too brazen for the gangs.


The violence between drug cartels that Mr. Calderon has sought to end has only worsened over the past year and a half. The death toll has jumped 47 percent to 1,378 this year, prosecutors say. All told, 4,125 people have been killed in drug violence since Mr. Calderon took office.

But the steady drumbeat of police killings has caused more shock here. On Wednesday, for instance, the second in command of the police in Morelos State and his driver were found dead in the trunk of a car. A placard on the bodies warned against joining the Sinaloa Cartel.




Pubdate: Tue, 27 May 2008
Source: Sun.Star Cebu (Philippines)
Copyright: 2008 Sun.Star

CLARENCE Paul Oaminal, legal consultant of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7, was correct on the need for the Lapu-Lapu City police to set its priorities right.

In the killing of PDEA 7 agent Priscillano Gingoyon Jr., the first task of Acting Lapu-Lapu City Police Chief Louie Oppus is to identify the killers and prosecute them.

Whether Gingoyon was part of a drug syndicate or not, and was killed by a former courier of his group, could not alter the fact that he was slain and the killers must be punished.


But this does not mean that the claims of the suspected perpetrator, Romulo Deo Soreno, about Gingoyon's involvement in the drug trade should not be looked into.


The tricky part, of course, is in dealing with Soreno, both the prime suspect in Gingoyon's killing and Oppus' "vital asset" in crushing the city's illegal drug trade.

Sooner or later, a choice must be made whether to serve the ends of justice sought for by Gingoyon's family or to be lenient on Soreno for some "noble" ends.




Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun

Rules Section of National Drug Law Conflicts With Provincial Responsibilities

The B.C. Supreme Court has thrown Canada's drug law into limbo, saying a key section conflicts with provincial health responsibilities and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a stunning and surprising ruling Tuesday, the court supported Vancouver's experimental supervised injection clinic and halted the threatened closure of the facility.

Justice Ian Pitfield declared a key section of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of no force and effect and gave Ottawa until June 30, 2009 to rectify the law because it appears to interfere with medical treatment.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: Tom McMillan

Innocent Saanich Family Still Feeling Effects Of Emergency Response Team Raid

Patty Cushing can still see the gun pointed at her face.

On May 16, police raided what they suspected was a base for manufacturing crystal meth and other illegal drugs.


"I kept saying, 'There's no drugs here,'" she remembers. "They wouldn't believe me."

Yesterday, Saanich police publicly apologized for the raid, which turned up nothing. The Cushings call the apology "a good first step" in an ordeal that's left them shaken and searching for answers.

"The people I assumed would protect me, traumatized me," Cushing said. "Tomorrow will be Day 7 and it's not near over."

Cushing, her husband Mark and their daughter Jean were all in the house the afternoon of the raid. Patty was cooking in the kitchen while Jean watched Canada play at the world hockey championships.

Suddenly, the front and back doors burst open and more than a dozen SWAT and police members poured in, Patty said.

The family didn't know how to react. Patty assumed police had the wrong house. Jean didn't recognize the black uniforms of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team and assumed the house was being robbed.

"She thought they were going to rape her," said her sister Robin, 19, who was not in the house during the raid. "I can't even imagine what that would feel like."

The family lay on their floor for 45 minutes as police searched their house for crystal meth. Eventually, they were handcuffed, read their rights and taken to the Saanich police station. "We were there for another two hours," Patty said. "Eventually they said they made a mistake and apologized. I told them I wanted a public apology."


The Cushings accept the police apology, but say the only support they received was a telephone number for victim's services. When Robin called, the agency refused to offer counselling.

"They told us we weren't the victims of crime," Robin said.

A week after the raid, Jean is afraid to go out at night and has trouble sleeping or being alone.

Patty has not been able to work as a receptionist at the Broadmead Hearing Clinic because she fears leaving the house. She has also begun drinking more and smoking two packs a day.

A meeting between the Cushings and senior officers of the Saanich police will take place this afternoon. The family, who will also meet with a lawyer tomorrow, say they want to ensure this never happens again.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Radley Balko


By Tony Newman, Huffington Post

For 40 years, we have been waging a "war on drugs." Families are kicked out of housing when many have done nothing wrong.


There is an interesting section about George Bush's alleged cocaine use in Scott Mclellan's new book 'What happened: Inside the Bush Whitehouse and Washington's culture of Deception' that documents his seven years as George W's press secretary.


By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle

Issues remain over production and distribution.


Century of Lies - 05/27/08 - Neal Peirce

Washington Post writer Neal Peirce regarding Bush's Faulty Prescription for Mexican Drug Violence, Paul Armentano regarding use of cannabis for brain cancer and CNBC clip of marijuana businesses in California.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 05/28/08 - Terry Nelson

Terry Nelson of LEAP, just returned from duty in Iraq, Poppygate Report with Glenn Greenway + Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project


The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health see witnesses, including the Minister of Health, regarding harm reduction and Insite, the supervised injection facility in Vancouver.

Click "View this clip" to watch or listen to the three hour briefing in various qualities.



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #367 - Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Below the Florida Times-Union Senior Columnist Tonya Weathersbee provides a disturbing analysis of an aspect of the failure of the War on Drugs.

Please consider writing and sending a Letter to the Editor of the Florida Times Union expressing your reaction to this column.


Mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses tear apart families and communities and waste taxpayer money. Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey is launching a new campaign to do something about it.



By Dan Linn

America needs to remember that alcohol prohibition failed and the war on drugs is just another prohibition.

People abuse prescription drugs and alcohol but surely nobody wants to outlaw those! There is not one good reason to continue arresting for responsible cannabis use.

Taxing and regulating responsible adult cannabis consumption would generate needed government funds and is long overdue, considering this plant has not one overdose death despite widespread use.

Furthermore, establishing government-controlled and regulated markets for currently illegal drugs is more sensible than letting criminals profit from these markets.

Most drugs are dangerous and that is the very reason that government control of those markets is needed. However, free people should legally be able to use drugs so long as there is no harm to others.

Dan Linn, executive director, Illinois NORML

Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2008
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)


Bobby and Me  ( Top )

By Mary Jane Borden

"A good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

I've recently learned a few lessons about social justice. They've caused me to ask myself again why I do what I do.

I travel back in time to May of 1968. An unpopular war was being waged half a world away, aired in all its ugliness on the nightly news. An iconic political figure had just lost his life to a sniper's bullet. Protest preached revolution. Hair grew longer, as paisley, pink, and plaid miniskirts inched past the knee. It was the Age of Aquarius, a time when it was truly believed that Jupiter was aligning with Mars to allow peace to guide the planet.

In March of that year, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York declared his candidacy for President of the United States by stating, "I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies." And new they were. It seemed that for the first time, a politician stood for something other than pure self-interest. The code words for his campaign became social justice, ending the war, and a new American based on equality and empowerment. Baby Boomers, imprinted on these ideals, followed them - and him - en masse. I was among them.

Bobby Kennedy soared onto the national spotlight during May of 1968. Even after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there still seemed one ray of hope that spoke to the better instincts of man. We all believed until June. When another assassin's bullet murdered Bobby in the early hours of June 5, part of those better instincts died with him. The words that resonated with me - that eulogized Bobby at his funeral mass - were eloquently, yet ironically spoken by his brother Ted: Bobby "was a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." This Baby Boomer has tried to emulate those words ever since.

For one, the failed War on Drugs defines social INjustice, and we, who work in the field of drug policy reform, have dedicated our lives to trying to stop it. In its assault on human rights, the drug war has fueled incarceration rates, placing more than two million U.S. citizens behind bars, 25% of them on drug-related charges. With people of color comprising as many as three-quarters of these prisoners, no doubt Bobby, too, would have tried to stop this new version of Jim Crow just as he stood against Apartheid twenty years before Little Steven refused to play Sun City.

Which brings me to suffering. This "war" approach to drugs has thwarted research into the clinical applications of cannabis, MDMA, LSD, and other "illegal" drugs. Worse, those for whom these medications work - sometimes more effectively than legal pharmaceuticals - suffer not only from their maladies, but also from the threat of arrest, prosecution, criminal records, and the loss of jobs, child custody, education, and housing. Seeing such suffering, we are obligated as reform advocates to try to heal it, but in truth, a Kennedy administration would probably never have waged this war in the first place.

But right now, it's the first part of that famous phrase that has become my teacher: righting wrongs. What do we do when we see wrongs, even wrongs in everyday life? Do we ignore them? Do we bow to them out of convenience? Too much trouble. Not worth our time. Are we willing to right wrongs at our own expense?

They say that charity begins at home. I challenge that social justice begins there as well. Social Justice defines how we treat others, in both global and highly personal terms. Today's world is marked by ever greater distances from one person to one another. The Internet empowers us, but makes us anonymous. Words and pictures become the product of machines, not human beings. When an impersonal temperament morphs into a cruel one, it is time to be ever more vigilant about social and interpersonal justice and to commit our better selves to righting the wrongs we see in the world.

Flashing forward forty years from that June 5th turning point finds another poignant irony. Senator Ted Kennedy, who spoke those imprinted words about his late brother, has just been diagnosed with a malignant glioma brain tumor. Ironically, cannabis has been found to inhibit the growth of such tumors. It is if that endless war, needless suffering, and a highly personal wrong came full circle to resonate with those timeless words.

As one whose life was framed by Senator Robert F. Kennedy's passion for social justice, the moral code of stopping wars, healing suffering, and righting wrongs has become a primary motivational force for me. Yes, it has caused me to again ask myself why I do what I do -- and to regain my passion for it.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope...." Robert F. Kennedy's gravestone at Arlington Cemetery

Mary Jane Borden is a writer, artist, and activist in drug policy from Westerville, Ohio. She serves as Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist for DrugSense.


"In justice is all virtues found in sum." - Aristotle

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