This Just In
(1)Mendocino Pot Measure in Limbo
(2)California Will Fight Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana
(3)En Garde! Health Ministers Duel Over Fate of Supervised Injections
(4)Drugs Grab Spotlight in Broadcom Case

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 5 Jun 2008
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Press Democrat
Author: Mike Geniella, The Press Democrat

With about 40 percent of the ballots still uncounted, victory is not a sure thing for backers of a hotly contested campaign to repeal Mendocino County's liberal marijuana guidelines.

Measure B appeared to win Tuesday by a 52-48 percent margin, amounting to 701 votes, in a closely watched election that has attracted national attention.

But county Clerk Susan Ranochak said Wednesday the preliminary results don't include 10,385 absentee ballots not yet tabulated. In addition, 439 "provisional" ballots that voters Tuesday dropped by polling places or the county's election office also are uncounted.

There were 16,364 votes counted Tuesday night from across the county, compared to the combined 10,824 ballots still outstanding.

The uncounted votes are roughly split between inland southern Mendocino County, where Measure B posted strong results, and the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Coast and Willits/Laytonville regions, where there's a long history of marijuana tolerance.

Ranochak said it could be up to 28 days before official election results are released, the maximum time allowed under state election laws.




Pubdate: Fri, 6 Jun 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Tim Reiterman and Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

The Appellate Decision Had Struck Down the Law That Specified the Amount of Pot Allowed.

SAN FRANCISCO -- State Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown says he will challenge a recent appellate court decision that struck down California's guidelines on medical marijuana possession and cultivation, leaving patients and police wondering how much weed is too much.

Brown said in an interview this week that he would ask the California Supreme Court to overturn last month's decision by the state Court of Appeal in Los Angeles because it inhibits authorities' ability to control abuses while protecting legitimate access to cannabis.

The court ruled that the Legislature in 2003 made an unconstitutional amendment to the 1996 voter-approved Compassionate Use Act by specifying the amount of marijuana that patients could possess for medicinal purposes.

The decision, hailed by some medical marijuana advocates, has not only cast doubt on the legislation's standard of 8 ounces of dried pot and six mature or 12 immature plants. It has also created a cloud of uncertainty over more liberal guidelines adopted by some counties, particularly those in the marijuana belt of the North Coast.

Brown, who supports medical marijuana, said the legislation was a reasonable approach to implementing a vaguely written ballot measure.




Pubdate: Fri, 6 Jun 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Ian Bailey

VANCOUVER -- It's the big, ugly weed in the otherwise rosy garden of relations between Ottawa and Victoria these days. Premier Gordon Campbell has often spoken of his devotion to civil, constructive relations with Ottawa, regardless of whether Conservatives or Liberals are running the place. But there is one point of sharp dispute these days.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement and B.C. Health Minister George Abbott are at odds over the value and propriety of Insite, North America's only sanctioned safe-injection operation.

And this dispute is headed back to court.

Mr. Clement has announced a federal appeal of a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling that Insite, where addicts shoot up under medical supervision, can operate indefinitely because it provides a valuable health service. In Victoria, Mr. Abbott says B.C. may intervene in the appeal to protect its right to run its health system as it sees fit.

Political scientist Allan Tupper of the University of British Columbia plays down the rift, suggesting the language between the parties has not yet turned inflammatory. "This is just an ongoing question of managing a complex country through a federal system of government," he said. "You have these disputes."

But Mr. Abbott has an exasperated tone as he talks about some of the things Mr. Clement has been saying about Insite these days.

In late May, Mr. Clement told the House of Commons health committee that "supervised injection is not medicine; it does not heal the person addicted to drugs.

"The evidence is that Insite's injection program saves, at best, one life a year. A precious life, yes. I believe we can do better and we must."

Mr. Abbott offers a perspective different from that of Mr. Clement, who was critical of safe-injection sites when he was Ontario's health minister.

"It gives us an opportunity to meet with people who, otherwise, would be injecting in back alleys beside dumpsters sometimes with needles that had been used by other users, consequently spreading HIV/AIDS and other intravenous drug-use diseases," Mr. Abbott said this week.




Pubdate: Fri, 6 Jun 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Authors: Mark Maremont and Justin Scheck

Federal fraud charges unsealed Thursday against former Broadcom Corp. Chief Executive Henry T. Nicholas III for allegedly backdating stock options were overshadowed by a second federal indictment accusing the executive of distributing drugs and slipping them in business associates' drinks. The criminal charges are a major blow to Mr. Nicholas, a prominent Southern California technology executive who co-founded Broadcom, a maker of specialized computer chips based in Irvine, Calif.

Reached Thursday, John Spiegel, a lawyer for Mr. Nicholas, wouldn't comment on the case. Mr. Nicholas left Broadcom in 2003.

A 21-count indictment unsealed Thursday focuses on Mr. Nicholas's alleged role in options backdating at Broadcom. In it, prosecutors included excerpts of many emails in which Mr. Nicholas and other top executives allegedly discussed and coordinated the improper practice.

Prosecutors also allege that in 2000 an attorney for a fired former executive threatened to expose the backdating, but that Mr. Nicholas covered up the matter by arranging a settlement with the executive valued at $7 million. William J. Ruehle, Broadcom's former chief financial officer, also was charged in the criminal backdating complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif.

In a separate four-count indictment against Mr. Nicholas alone, prosecutors allege that the former Broadcom chief engaged in a pattern of drug use and abuse over a nearly seven-year period. The charges against him include conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine. Among the more sensational charges is that Mr. Nicholas spiked the drinks of Broadcom customers and others with drugs without their knowledge. Although the indictment doesn't identify any such persons by name, it cites an early 2000 incident in New Orleans at which the Broadcom chief allegedly used Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, to spike the drink of a "technology executive." Prosecutors also allege that Mr. Nicholas in 2001 directed a Broadcom employee to pay a drug courier between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash in the lobby of Broadcom's headquarters. The same year, they say, marijuana smoke aboard Mr. Nicholas's private plane was so thick during a trip to Las Vegas that the pilot had to put on an oxygen mask.





Drug war politics triumphs over fundamental democracy and reasonable policy again, this week in both Idaho and New Hampshire. Elsewhere, another episode of prohibition-related corruption in the U.S. armed forces; and at least one observer near the U.S.-Mexico border seems to suspect that increased militarization will not bring drug peace.


Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2008 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Terry Smith

Marijuana Lawsuit to Continue in 5th District Court

Hailey city officials will continue with their anti-marijuana lawsuit despite an election earlier this week in which the city's electorate approved three pro-pot initiatives for the second time.

"I have no intention of withdrawing it," City Councilman Don Keirn said Wednesday. "The whole purpose of the lawsuit is to get this in front of the court. We need a declaratory judgment, maybe now more than ever.

"In theory, the judge will say this whole thing is illegal and that's the end of it. I'd like to get it behind us."

Keirn, Mayor Rick Davis and Police Chief Jeff Gunter filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Blaine County 5th District Court seeking a ruling on three marijuana reform initiatives that were approved by the electorate last November.

"I have no intention of withdrawing it either," Gunter said Thursday. "Just because it passed twice doesn't mean it's not in conflict with state law and we need to have it resolved."

Davis was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

The three initiatives, one to legalize medical use of marijuana, another to legalize industrial hemp and a third to make enforcement of marijuana laws the city's lowest police priority, were first approved in November. They were approved by voters once again on Tuesday.

Marijuana advocate Ryan Davidson, the man who initiated petition drives to get the initiatives on the ballots, said Wednesday that Hailey city officials should follow the will of the electorate.




Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jun 2008
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2008 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Ray Warren

My friends in New Hampshire say politics in Concord sometimes baffles them.

No wonder. The state Senate, at the behest of its Democratic leadership and the Democratic governor, recently thumbed its nose at public opinion and sent a strange message to young adults.

For a party in control of state government for the first time since 1874, it was hardly a profile in courage.

The Senate killed a sensible reform of New Hampshire's anachronistic marijuana possession law. But the end came after a surprisingly long journey through the legislative process that demonstrated the courage of the citizen-based state House and the timidity of the politician-based state Senate.

New Hampshire's marijuana possession law is among the nation's harshest, providing for a year in jail and a $2,000 fine for possession of a single marijuana cigarette. That stands in contrast to neighboring Maine and 10 other states, where possession of small quantities is punishable only by a fine.

Two Nashua-area House members, Reps. Jeff Fontas and Andrew Edwards, introduced a bill to move New Hampshire in a less punitive direction.

Noting that conviction of a Class A misdemeanor carries significant collateral consequences for young adults -- including loss of student financial aid and job opportunities -- they proposed to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation punishable by a fine alone, similar to other hotbeds of liberalism such as Ohio and North Carolina.

The political establishment in Concord, busily attending Chardonnay-fueled political fundraisers, collectively gasped.




Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2008
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Bill Rankin

Soldiers To Plead Guilty In Robbery Scheme

Four U.S. Army soldiers who were caught planning a commando-style armed robbery of a purported drug stash house are preparing to plead guilty for their roles in the incident, according to court records and lawyers for the servicemen.

The four soldiers from the Camp Frank D. Merrill mountain training facility in Dahlonega initially were charged with drug conspiracy and weapon offenses after being arrested in January. If convicted, they each faced mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least 15 years.

But in recent court filings, federal prosecutors have reduced charges for three of the soldiers --- Andre Champagne, Carlos Lopez and David White --- to unlawfully conspiring to take cocaine by means of violence and fear of injury. A fourth soldier, Randy Spivey, plans to plead guilty to concealing a felony, said his lawyer, Page Pate.

The new charges mean the soldiers will not face the minimum mandatory sentences and are likely to receive only a few years in prison. Pate said he will argue for a probated sentence for Spivey, who was not going to participate in the purported raid but covered for a colleague.




Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jun 2008
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2008 The Arizona Republic
Author: Linda Valdez

Those anxious folks who say we face grave dangers from Mexico are right. They are just wrong about the reason.

It's not illegal immigrants.

It's not the Spanish language.

It's not the reconquista.

The reason Mexico represents a danger to America is American drug use.

Because of U.S. drug laws, the American quest for chemically induced nirvana has created some very nasty criminal gangs in Mexico.

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora says murders by drug syndicates increased 47 percent from January through May 23 over the same period last year. The numbers: 1,378 gangland killings this year.

Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and began going after the cartels, 4,152 people have died in drug-related violence, including 450 police, prosecutors and soldiers.

The killings continue. On Tuesday, seven federal police died in a shootout in Culiacan, headquarters for the Sinaloa drug cartel.

The cartels are not just reacting to Calderon's crackdown. They are battling for control of shipping routes to the U.S. market.

They have an astonishing amount of money with which to bribe officials and buy cover for their evil doings. They also have an arsenal of weapons acquired in the United States and smuggled into Mexico.

President Bush wants Congress to send lots of money to Mexico to beef up law enforcement, but past U.S. aid to Mexico hasn't made much of a dent in this dirty business.




Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the benefit of the doubt to property owners in a money-laundering case. A new law has been proposed to protect young drug informants was explained in an oped by the father of a young woman who was killed while working as an informant. Police corruption continues this week. It's interesting to note that the city of Cicero, IL, long renowned for corruption, plans to fire a police officer not for corruption, but for being allegedly caught with a small amount of marijuana.


Pubdate: Tue, 3 Jun 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Robert Barnes, Washington Post Staff Writer
Referenced: The Santos decision Referenced: The Cuellar decision

The Supreme Court yesterday made it tougher for prosecutors to prove money-laundering charges, ruling twice against the government's employment of what it says is a critical weapon in fighting drug lords and other criminals.

The justices were unanimous in one case that merely proving that a person hid drug money while transporting it was not enough to satisfy the law's standard that the transportation was intended to disguise the "nature, location, the source, the ownership or the control" of the funds.

But the court was splintered in the other case, interpreting the law to refer only to the profits garnered from an illegal enterprise, rather than gross receipts. The government said that would make indictment far more difficult to prove.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a former prosecutor, led the dissenters in the 5 to 4 ruling, saying the opinion "would frustrate Congress' intent and maim a statute that was enacted as an important defense against organized criminal enterprises."

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote for a four-member plurality in the case, said that the money-laundering statute refers to criminal "proceeds" but that Congress did not define the word further to mean "receipts" or "profits."

"Under a long line of our decisions, the tie must go to the defendant," Scalia wrote, saying the "rule of lenity" requires the court to interpret the law in the light most favorable to those subject to it.




Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2008
Source: Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
Copyright: 2008 Tallahassee Democrat
Author: Irv Hoffman

My daughter, Rachel Hoffman, was a 23-year-old graduate of Florida State University who gave her life working under cover for the Tallahassee Police Department. The details of this event are still being investigated. But my meeting next week with state Sen. Mike Fasano about Rachel's Law concerns the process of becoming an undercover informant and preventing another vulnerable person whose judgment may be impaired or is under duress from being treated as expendable, then murdered. Advertisement

Undercover informants are often addicted, young, frightened, vulnerable people who are looking at the ruin of their life and the threat of prosecution, and often they will do anything. Informants, civilians working under cover, are not being treated as helpers of law enforcement but as tools of law enforcement, tools of law enforcement that may at times be treated as expendable.




Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2008
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Jo Napolitano, Tribune reporter

Cops Found Marijuana In Car During Stop; Town Has Zero-Tolerance Policy

Cicero is moving to fire a police commander who had a small amount of marijuana in his car this year when Chicago police pulled him over for a traffic infraction, the town president said Friday.

Wesley Scott, Cicero's first black police officer, also would be the first town employee to be fired under a new zero-tolerance drug policy, a Cicero spokesman said.

"This is an extremely difficult decision for me," Town President Larry Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, said in a prepared statement. "I promoted Wesley Scott to police commander. I have known Wesley Scott for more than 20 years and have long considered him a good friend. I still believe Wesley Scott is a good and decent man."

Scott, who has been on paid administrative leave for more than four months, is now being placed on 30 days of unpaid leave pending the outcome of the effort. Dominick said he soon will file charges of conduct unbecoming an officer against Scott with the Cicero Police Board, the group that would have to approve his termination.

Scott, who earns more than $80,000 a year, repeatedly has declined to comment on the matter and did not return calls seeking comment Friday.




Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)
Copyright: 2008 The Times-Picayune
Author: Laura Maggi

DA Drops Charges in 37 Prosecutions

As a member of the New Orleans Police Department's 4th District task force, officer Joseph Lusk was involved in a plethora of Algiers drug busts, arresting people for dealing or using illegal drugs.

Lusk's own arrest last month on suspicion of malfeasance in office means 37 of those cases have been dropped so far by the Orleans Parish district attorney's office -- whose prosecutors can't press forward on cases with an allegedly corrupt cop as a main witness.

Each case needed to be evaluated to determine whether Lusk was an "essential witness," or whether prosecutors could go forward without his testimony, relying on other NOPD officers, said District Attorney Keva Landrum-Johnson. Almost all of the cases involve drugs -- save for the battery of a police officer charge in which Lusk was the alleged victim, an office spokesman said. "Once an officer is under investigation of any sort, we wouldn't want to call him to testify for us," Landrum-Johnson said.




Drug war apologists often exaggerate prohibition-related harm to justify more of the same. Last week saw Californians blaming a proliferation of indoor growing operations on medicinal cannabis law reform.

Meanwhile, the sheer magnitude of the medicinal cannabis market in California is spawning ancillary businesses and industries, once again demonstrating that cannabis policy should be the domain of economics and public health, not the criminal law.

As our friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition say, "You can get over an addiction, but you will never get over a conviction." Yet another Canadian who would like to join his family in the United States has discovered the long memory of the law.

An interesting so-called "debate" erupted last week at the National Post, one of two national newspapers in Canada, when a regular columnist, Barbara Kay, criticized the editorial board for endorsing cannabis legalization. The board responded with a challenge to Ms. Kay to justify prohibiting cannabis while alcohol remains legal, and she took the bait. Now Ms. Kay's son, columnist Jonathon Kay, has joined the discussion with a critique of his mother's pro-alcohol argument.


Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jun 2008
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Tim Reiterman and Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times

ARCATA - LaVina Collenberg thought she had ideal tenants for her tidy ranch-style home on the outskirts of this university town nestled in the redwoods of the state's northern coast.

Then the 74-year-old widow received an urgent call last September from a neighbor who said firefighters had descended on the house she had rented to a pleasant young man from Wisconsin.

Collenberg found her charred and sooty rental filled with growing lights and 3-foot-tall marijuana plants. Seeds were germinating in the spa. Water from the growing operation had soaked through the carpeting and subflooring. Air vents had been cut into the new roof. A fan had fallen over, causing the fire.

"It was the first time I had been in a 'grow' house," Collenberg said. "I had heard about them but never thought I had one. I was completely shocked."

Law enforcement officials estimate that as many as 1,000 of the 7,500 homes in this Humboldt County community are being used to cultivate marijuana, slashing into the housing stock, spreading building-safety problems and sowing neighborhood discord.

Indoor pot farms proliferated in recent years as California communities have implemented Proposition 215, the statewide "medical marijuana" measure passed overwhelmingly a dozen years ago. Backlash over the effects and abuses of legally sanctioned marijuana growing has emerged in some of the most liberal parts of the state.

For example, in neighboring Mendocino County, a measure on Tuesday's election ballot seeks to repeal a local proposition passed eight years ago that decriminalized cultivation of as many as 25 pot plants.


Medical marijuana advocates say problems have been isolated, and they question the validity of attempts to link crime to a medicine.

"Law enforcement sensationalizes a lot of the issues around growing and dispensaries," said Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access.




Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Dan Mitchell

JANE WELLS of CNBC keeps a blog called Funny Business, but her recent reports on California's medical marijuana industry are about a business that is increasingly being taken seriously. They amount to a short primer on how the business works and how the operators of the state's estimated 500 dispensaries deal with the high risks and high costs of working in a legal gray area (

Medical marijuana is legal in California, but federal law still bans sales. Amid the uncertainty that this creates -- including the occasional raid by federal agents -- a full-fledged industry has blossomed, taking in about $2 billion a year and generating $100 million in state sales taxes, CNBC reported.

Setting up a clinic "can cost as much as a hundred grand," Ms. Wells reports. The equipment, the cuttings from which plants are grown and office space all tend to be expensive. And from there, the costs only grow, mostly in the form of legal fees. Many clinics keep lawyers on retainer.

Nonetheless, "this is the business model of the future," says JoAnna La Force of Farmacy, an herbal remedy shop in Southern California. Ms. LaForce says her business is close to breaking even (

A slew of ancillary businesses has grown up around medical marijuana. Bill Britt, identified on the Web site as a patient, has found a new career as an expert witness in cases brought against dispensaries and patients, earning $250 to $350 a case.


Back on Drugs

As a test of airport security, a customs officer planted marijuana in the side pocket of a random suitcase at Narita International Airport in Tokyo, the BBC reports (

The test failed when the sniffer dogs were unable to detect the pot. But the officer could not remember which bag he had used.

Using an actual passenger's suitcase is against regulations, and the airport's customs service has apologized.

Meanwhile, the marijuana is still out there. "Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials," according to the BBC. So far, nobody has spoken up.


 (15) DRUGS IN '70s, NO GREEN CARD NOW  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jun 2008
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Jesse James DeConto

Hillsborough Man Says Denial Unfair

HILLSBOROUGH - Terry VanDuzee and his wife lived the first two years of their marriage apart -- he in Canada, she in Hillsborough -- so he could enter the U.S. legally.

Now he must leave the country within two weeks because he was charged with marijuana possession in Canada 30 years ago. He has been pardoned by his native country.

VanDuzee has worked for a software company in RTP. He plays bass guitar in a worship band at River of Joy Church in Durham. He and his wife, Debbie, who has never lived outside North Carolina, have been trying for six years to get him a green card to make him a permanent legal U.S. resident. But U.S. law disqualifies him because of three drug violations in 1977, 1978 and 1979. Controlled substance violations are one of only two categories of crimes that make visa applicants ineligible. The other involves "moral turpitude."

"There is no waiver available for an individual who has two or more controlled substance violations," Jeffrey Sapko, Durham field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, informed VanDuzee in a letter last month.

VanDuzee has no criminal record in North Carolina. "I quit doing drugs and everything else in 1979 and haven't done them since," he said.

VanDuzee admits he's to blame for the 1979 charge; he was caught with 2 ounces of marijuana after stealing a pair of shoes as a homeless 19- year-old.


"They're saying you can't come into the United States if you smoked marijuana 30 years ago," he said. "From the time I was 13 years old, I didn't know a single person in that era that didn't smoke drugs, except for maybe my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles."




Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Website: Details: Author: Jonathan Kay

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should, with joy, pleasance revel and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!

- --Cassio, in Othello, Act II, Scene III

There are 100,000 marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.

- -- Henry Anslinger, U. S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner, 1937

Like many middle-aged men, I spend a lot of time reflecting on the reckless stunts my friends and I unleashed on the world when we were young and stupid. Whether the exploits took place in cars, beds, barrooms or back alleys, one common factor jumps out from these reveries: alcohol. World Health Organization data suggests that alcohol kills nearly two million people every year. Stumbling down memory lane, I can think of a dozen different ways that -- had dumb luck failed us -- my friends and I might have been part of that statistic.

In some communities, the horrors associated with alcohol extend into every household. These include many Canadian native reserves, where booze has generated nothing short of a liquid holocaust. Even the staggering fatality statistics don't include the legions of victims who never take a sip: children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, abused spouses of alcoholics, the prey of drunk drivers. In Mexico, this week, one of those drunks fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into a group of bike racers -- a horrific scene captured by a local photographer. There but for the grace of God.

Oh wait, sorry -- scratch all that. I just read last week's column by Barbara Kay on the subject of marijuana policy, and it turns out I've gotten it precisely wrong. "Wine and spirits in moderation confer health benefits," she writes. "From antiquity, the loving cultivation of vineyards wherever possible, and the enjoyment of wine and spirits has been a positive feature of all Western societies ... in which alcohol [has] generally played a benign role."

"Because alcohol in moderation is culturally aligned with enhanced fellowship and human interaction, it is therefore a communal as well as an individual good," she adds. "Conversely, the purpose of marijuana is the alteration of consciousness, an end achieved by a process that thrives in solitude and mental torpor."

Of all the specious tactics trotted out by the enemies of marijuana legalization, this is by far the most annoying. In their bid to gloss over the hypocrisy of a society that criminalizes reefer while permitting its far more dangerous, bottled cousin, traditionalists compose odes to alcohol's virtues that would make a Bacardi marketing executive blush.




In Australia, as police in New South Wales zealously bust Nimbin hippies for Marigrass cannabis, the assistant director of the New South Wales Crime Commission, Mark Standen, was arrested this week, charged with conspiring to import the chemicals needed to produce about $120 million worth of methamphetamines, "enough ephedrine to flood Sydney and Melbourne with ice." Similar to the former American Drugs "Czar", William Bennett - who also famously lost millions of dollars gambling - Standen was reported to have lost around a million dollars betting prior to hatching the failed meth scheme.

The Mexican government will gladly take all the money the Colossus of the north will send, and prohibitionists in Washington like sending Mexico hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer money each year. Because this is money spent to "fight drugs", all is well. But given a backdrop of escalated violence in Mexico this year, some in the U.S. Congress want assurances the money won't be used to violate human rights. To the Mexican government, all this looks too much like "certification", so the U.S. can keep its money, if there are such sovereignty-violating strings attached.

Well, OK, says the Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Dionisio Santiago: the police do, in fact "plant evidence." But only for really good reasons, you see. Only for bad people, who are "known" to police. How could police prove anything against bad people, if police can't plant a little evidence, anyway? Not to worry, "PDEA operatives make sure that they won't know that we put planted evidence." It's all for the kids, anyway. "We are doing this because we want to neutralize big personalities engaged in the illegal drug trade which destroys the future of the youth," said the Director General.

And finally, a plea from Liz Evans, nurse and executive director of the society which operates Insite, the supervised injection center in Vancouver, Canada. Denouncing the "collective ignorance", over the Harper government decision to appeal a B.C. Supreme Court ruling allowing Insite to remain open, Evans writes, "Judge Ian Pitfield of the B. C. Supreme Court demonstrated his understanding of a principle that Mr. Harper seems incapable of grasping: Addiction is a complex, chronic and relapsing disease. Justice Pitfield's ruling recognizes that Insite's program deserves protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."


Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 Herald and Weekly Times
Author: Charles Miranda and Lisa Davies

A TOP crime buster is believed to have lost $1 million on the punt before he was arrested over allegations that he masterminded one of Australia's biggest drug runs.

Mark Standen re-mortgaged his family home and cashed in his superannuation to pay for losses on the horses, a source told the Herald Sun.

The NSW Crime Commission assistant director was arrested on Monday over his alleged role in trying to import chemicals to produce $120 million worth of the deadly drug ice.

It was also revealed last night that Mr Standen's lover works at NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Australian Federal Police boss Mick Keelty yesterday described the allegations against Mr Standen as some one of the most serious potential breaches of law enforcement he had seen.

Mr Standen is said to have had more than $1 million in gambling debts to telephone bookies and to have cashed in his AFP superannuation, and mortgaged a marital home to the hilt.

His girlfriend, who worked with him at the Crime Commission in the top-secret area of telephone intercepts, was recently seconded to the ICAC, where she works in the assessments section.

Sources said Mr Standen and his lover had lunch together on Monday before he was arrested at his desk.


He said Mr Standen's lover was not a suspect in the plan to import enough ephedrine to flood Sydney and Melbourne with ice.

Senior officers were shocked at the ICAC link.

"This is worse than we realised," a source said.



Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Laurence Iliff, The Dallas Morning News

Congress Seeks Legal, Human Rights Reforms; Border Partner Say It's Return of 'Certification'

MEXICO CITY - Mexico will tell the U.S. to keep its money, if the U.S. Congress insists on linking a proposed anti-drug aid package to a series of human rights and legal conditions along with whittling down its dollar value, Mexican politicians, analysts and a top law enforcement official said Wednesday. Both houses of Congress have passed the package but have not agreed on a final version.

The conditions - which touch on human rights, judicial reforms and other issues - amount to a return to "certification," a past practice in which the U.S. unilaterally decided whether nations were doing enough to fight drug production and trafficking, said Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, assistant attorney general for international affairs.

Mexico considered certification a violation of its sovereignty.

"Why don't we tell the Americans to use those [funds] for their own interdiction forces or interception forces ... and stop the flow of weapons," Mr. Santiago Vasconcelos said in a radio interview. "Rather than giving them to Mexico, they can be used by the Americans to reinforce their Customs service, their Border Patrol, and stop the arms trafficking to our country."




Pubdate: Fri, 30 May 2008
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2008
Author: Miriam Desacada

CANDAHUG, PALO, LEYTE - The Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) admitted that hisagency, tasked with the elimination of the supply of and demand for illegal drugs in the country, is forced to "plant evidence" in "some special cases."

Undersecretary Dionisio Santiago's admission of the planting of evidence like shabu or other drug paraphernalia stemmed from the question of a reporter during a news conference here Wednesday.

The reporter asked how the agency is helping victims of planted drug evidence.

Santiago did not directly answer the question but said that under certain circumstances, they too are forced to plant evidence, but only on "well-known drug traffickers under PDEA's watchlist" who always escape arrest.

"We sometimes do this although this is against the rule of law. Definitely we only apply this matter to some cases, like a subject who is publicly known to be peddling drugs but always escapes arrest. This is when we enter the picture," Santiago told reporters.

"But PDEA operatives make sure that they (known drug traffickers) won't know that we put planted evidence. We are doing this because we want to neutralize big personalities engaged in the illegal drug trade which destroys the future of the youth," he said.




Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Author: Liz Evans

I am trained as a nurse, not a lobbyist. So perhaps I was naive to think that when I was invited last week to address the House of Commons health committee (along with a team of health and policy experts from Vancouver), Stephen Harper's government would listen to the facts about Insite, North America's first supervised drug- injection site. Instead, we were lectured by federal Health Minister Tony Clement about how those supporting Insite were misguided ideologues -- a position Mr. Clement amplified in his recent National Post column ("A better way to treat addicts," May 30). Apparently, Messrs. Clement and Harper really care about drug addiction, whereas medical professionals such as myself are the ones who endorse suffering.

I wanted to weep at the implications of our government's collective ignorance. The committee offered statement after statement that was plain wrong. It was a huge affront to the legions of researchers, public health officials, medical scientists, nurses, doctors and representatives of international bodies (such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization) who have long endorsed harm-reduction strategies as essential to assisting those with drug addictions.


In his recent decision supporting Insite, Judge Ian Pitfield of the B. C. Supreme Court demonstrated his understanding of a principle that Mr. Harper seems incapable of grasping: Addiction is a complex, chronic and relapsing disease. Justice Pitfield's ruling recognizes that Insite's program deserves protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He recognizes the facility's essential role as a primary health care facility and a necessary treatment access point for people who are clearly sick.


-- Liz Evans is a nurse and the executive director of the PHS Community Services Society, which operates Insite.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Alexander Zaitchik

With key medical marijuana ballot initiatives likely to pass, and a more pot-friendly majority in Congress, there is room for optimism.


By Jacob Sullum

The latest data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicate that the percentage of teenagers who smoke marijuana is essentially the same as the percentage who smoke cigarettes.


Getting Busted Going to the Festival (If You're Not Careful)

By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle

Music lovers this summer should be prepared to encounter drug checkpoints and undercover cops working inside the festival grounds.


Michael Heney follows the drugs trail and asks if there is an alternative to this war without end.


Cultural Baggage Radio Show- 06/04/08 - Pierre Claude Nolin

Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin discusses Canada's pell-mell rush towards all out drug war (or legalization.)

Century of Lies- 06/03/08 - Gary Blankenship

Gary Blankenship, president of Houston Police Officers Union, plus Drug War Facts with Doug McVay


Great moments in the drug war Kulturkampf

By Nick Gillespie



Summer vacation provides parents with an opportunity to spend time with their children and to educate them about drug use and abuse. There are several good books available on the subject, such as "Parents' Guide to Marijuana / by Dr. Mitch Earleywine," and online resources such as "Don't Panic! A Parent's Guide To Understanding and Preventing Alcohol and Drug Abuse / by Stanton Peele and Marianne Apostolides.



By John Walker

I am a U.S. Army veteran who was once stationed with the 101st Airborne Division and Special Forces, so I know what makes a hero. Heroes are noted for feats of noble courage and often risk everything for a greater cause.

The medical cannabis patients who have come forward in support of this year's medical cannabis bill are heroes.

Not only have these brave patients mustered the strength to battle life-threatening disease, they have also demonstrated great courage by talking openly about their cannabis use despite the fact that using cannabis for any reason remains illegal under Illinois law.

Julie Falco, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two decades ago, is the perfect example of a hero.

She has put herself at great personal risk by publicly acknowledging that she uses cannabis. She has taken every available MS medication, but none have worked as well for her as cannabis brownies.

Although thousands of Illinois doctors, the Illinois Nurses Association, two former U.S. surgeons general and a majority of Illinois voters, 68 percent, according to a recent Mason-Dixon Poll, support Falco's right to treat her MS symptoms with medical cannabis, she could very easily find herself in jail tomorrow if the police decided to arrest her.

As you celebrate the nation's heroes this Memorial Day, please keep local heroes like Falco in your thoughts as well.

John Walker, Illinois Compassion Action Network

Pubdate: 27 May 2008
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)


'Cannabis Is Not A Cause Of Anti-Social Behaviour'  ( Top )

By Dr. Margaret Melrose (Based on Interview by Chris Green)

I don't see the value of asking a panel of independent experts to review all the evidence and make recommendations, and then not to accept the recommendations they make. The Government seems to be pandering to various powerful lobby groups because it accepted all the other recommendations but rejected that one: it seems determined to stick to its policy regardless of what the evidence suggests, because the issue is such a political hot potato.

Reclassification will mean that the penalties for smoking cannabis will be commensurate with other class B drugs: this could mean five years in prison for possession and 14 for supply. But the young people I interviewed during my research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation weren't bothered by the drug's legal classification. Most of them said they would continue to smoke it regardless, until they wanted to stop. The Advisory Council also found that cannabis use isn't actually associated with antisocial or criminal behaviour, but the public perception is that it is, because there's a lot of misleading information which confuses people.

Criminalising young people for using cannabis is potentially a lot more harmful for their future opportunities and employment prospects than moderate use of it would be. Scientists have said they can't find a causal connection between smoking cannabis and the development of mental health problems, and the majority of users clearly do not develop psychotic symptoms. There's a lot of hysteria in this area, but there's still no evidence to suggest that cannabis is the causal factor.

Policing of the new classification system would have differential impacts. Young people who smoke joints on the streets of London are much more likely to be caught and criminalised than those who are able to do it in the privacy of their back gardens or in the grounds of their grammar or public schools. So those who are already the most socially disadvantaged will be the ones who suffer.

I agree that there are definitely public health issues surrounding the use of cannabis, and young people need to be warned of them in a very direct way. There's a lot more we could do in terms of educating them about its potential dangers, but making the drug increasingly criminalised could have grave consequences for the future of our young people.

Dr Margaret Melrose is a reader in applied social science at the University of Bedfordshire, and submitted evidence to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs' recent review of cannabis's legal classification. A free copy of the Advisory Council's report is available at . This piece was first published in The Independent on June 5.


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