This Just In
(1)Drug Cartels Winning the Evil War
(2)Measure B Enforcement on Hold Until Court Rules
(3)Toronto Cops Face Charges in Grow-Op Raids
(4)WHO: NZ Second to U.S. in Cannabis, Cocaine Use

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jul 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Webpage: Copyright: 2008 Reuters
Author: Catherine Bremer, Reuters

Analysts Estimate That As Many As Half of Police Officers Paid by Cartels

MEXICO CITY - President Felipe Calderon has staked his reputation on wiping out Mexico's drug violence but his campaign is in trouble as trafficking gangs murder ever more people, target police and openly recruit hitmen.

Calderon's first move on taking power 18 months ago was to launch a bold $7-billion army-led assault on powerful drug cartels, vowing to wrest back control of violence-scarred northern border states.

His army busts have put a string of senior smugglers behind bars and captured truckloads of cocaine and cash.




Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jul 2008
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Ben Brown, The Daily Journal

A tangle of lawsuits have brought enforcement of Measure B to a temporary halt while county law enforcement officials await court rulings.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said the Sheriff's Office would be delaying enforcement of Measure B's new medical marijuana plant limits until Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke rules on the lawsuit filed by county residents George Hanamoto and Paula Laguna.

"County counsel asked that we hold off until the next hearing date," Allman said.

Behnke is scheduled to hear the case July 25. He dismissed Hanamoto and Laguna's first complaint on April 23, ruling that Measure B did not violate the Compassionate Use Act, which set California's state medical marijuana plant limits.

Hanamoto and Laguna have since refiled their suit based on the decision in People v. Kelly in which a California Appellate court ruled that the state medical marijuana limits set by SB 420 were unconstitutional. Measure B set the same limits.




Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jul 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Timothy Appleby, with reports from Sarah Boesveld and
Jennifer Lewington

2 Officers, 3 Prison Guards Arrested

Two uniformed Toronto police constables face multiple criminal charges, including organized-crime allegations, for their role in what investigators describe as an elaborate marijuana-cultivation operation that ran for at least two years and involved dozens of "grow houses."

In early morning raids that scooped up a total of 23 people, mostly in York Region, three prison guards who work at the Toronto West Detention Centre were also arrested, as was a real estate agent accused of buying properties in York Region for the express purpose of turning them into marijuana factories.




Pubdate: Wed, 2 Jul 2008
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 New Zealand Herald

New Zealand ranks second only to the United States in a scientific survey of illegal cocaine and cannabis use in 17 countries.

The study uses data from the countries participating in the World Health Organisation's world mental health survey.

It found that 16.2 per cent of people in the United States reported having used using cocaine at some time.

The second highest level of cocaine use was in New Zealand, where 4.3 per cent of people reported having used the drug.

Cannabis use was highest in the U.S. (42.4 per cent), followed by New Zealand (41.9 per cent).





The Los Angeles Daily News ran several stories last week about newborn babies being taken from mothers due to false positives on drug tests. The stories are so important that we excerpt three of the stories here, and strongly recommend the full stories to anyone with time to read them. In addition to the overview and a shocking look at the high numbers of false positives, there is a heartbreaking story of one family who paid the ultimate price for this cruel policy.

Also last week, trouble in the U.S. peyote market; and one Ohio town is having a conversation in the wake of drug sweeps at a local school.

 (5) DRUG WAR ON MOMS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 29 Jun 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Troy Anderson

Toddler, Newborn Wrongly Torn From Family in Stepped-Up Screening of Pregnant Women

Awakened by late-night pounding and his doorbell ringing, Palmdale resident Jesus Bejarano found a social worker and two sheriff's deputies demanding he turn over his 20-month-old daughter, Kelly.

The social worker said Bejarano's 29-year-old wife, Cheila Herrera, had tested positive for amphetamines and PCP at Antelope Valley Hospital after giving birth to the couple's son a week earlier. Their son, Jesse, who was born prematurely and was still at the hospital, had already been placed in protective custody.

"It was terrible," Herrera said of the Feb. 14 ordeal. "It was pretty shocking to us. We didn't know what to do or say. We called my mom, saying, 'They are taking our baby away.'

"We started calling friends, but no one we know has gone through something like this. We were crying. We thought, oh my God, they took our baby."

Last month, the couple sued Los Angeles County government for unspecified damages, saying Herrera had never used drugs and the social worker ignored a battery of expensive tests that proved the initial drug-test results were wrong.

Experts say the case highlights widespread problems with California's system of drug-testing pregnant mothers, using urine-screening tests that produce false-positives up to 70 percent of the time, and inconsistent compliance by hospitals with a state law designed to regulate the process.




Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jun 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Troy Anderson

Up to 70 Percent of Initial Checks Can Be Wrong

Hospitals' initial urine-screening drug tests on pregnant women can produce a high rate of false positives - particularly for methamphetamine and opiates - because they are technically complex and interpretation of the results can be difficult, some experts say.

Tests for methamphetamine are wrong an average of 26 percent - and possibly up to 70 percent - of the time, according to studies by the University of Kansas Medical Center, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

And even the gold standard of maternal drug testing - meconium, a baby's first stool that is analyzed to assess a mother's drug usage over the past four or five months - can produce false positives for methamphetamine up to 70 percent of the time, said Dr. Barry Lester, a national expert on drug-exposed babies and a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Brown University in Providence, R.I. False positives can be triggered by everything from cold medicines and diet pills to poppy seeds, according to a January study by the University of Kansas published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The study found cold remedy compounds, herbal medications and doctor-prescribed medicines for anxiety or depression often produce false positives for methamphetamines.

On average, the study found initial urine screens for methamphetamines produced false positives 26 percent of the time. For opiates, the percentage rose to 29 percent. Less than 8 percent of tests for cocaine and marijuana resulted in false positives.




Pubdate: Sun, 29 Jun 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Troy Anderson

Mother Accused of Using Cocaine, Marijuana

Growing up in Los Angeles County's foster care system, Elizabeth Espinoza is sure of one thing: A baby needs its mother.

Espinoza, who was separated from her own mother when she was young because of neglect, also had her newborn baby taken by the foster-care system when she tested positive for marijuana and cocaine at the hospital after giving birth.

Just three months later, the baby, Gerardo, died when his foster mother strapped him into a car seat, took him to a neighbor's home and left him in the car seat on a bed, according to a lawsuit filed against the county's Department of Children and Family Services seeking unspecified damages.

The autopsy listed the cause of Gerardo's death as unknown, but noted that "airway compromise" could not be ruled out and that a car seat is not "a proper sleep environment for an infant."

"The last time I saw him I hugged him," said Espinoza, 21, of Los Angeles. "I felt something different. I felt like he was trying to catch his breath. I think he missed his mother.

"A lot of people say it, and I believe it myself: A baby should not be taken away from their mother."

Principal Deputy County Counsel Rosemarie Belda said the county had not been served with the lawsuit yet and could not comment on pending litigation.

The case began two years ago when DCFS took 1-year-old Alexis R. Martinez and her newborn baby brother, Gerardo, from Espinoza after the positive drug test, according to Beverly Hills attorney L. Wallace Pate, who is representing Espinoza.

The suit alleges DCFS took Espinoza's children based on false and perjured allegations that she was incapable of caring for her children because of the positive drug test.

Espinoza says a county social worker took her children despite her insistence she didn't take drugs. Gerardo had tested negative for drugs and had no signs of withdrawals, according to the lawsuit.

Espinoza enrolled in a drug treatment program and had monitored visits with her children until Gerardo's death two months later on Aug. 2, 2006.



 (8) PEYOTE PITY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jun 2008
Source: Monitor, The (McAllen, TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Monitor
Author: Jeremy Roebuck

For South Texas Vendors of the Ceremonial Drug, Business Is Dwindling

A sign in front of Mauro Morales' Rio Grande City home announces his business for everyone to see. "Peyote Dealer," it proclaims in large block letters.

Each day, drivers passing by slow down for double takes and some even pull over, get out and snap photos.

Who can blame them?, Morales asks with a mischievous grin.

He is, after all, part of a dwindling fraternity.

The slight, 65-year-old Rio Grande City man is one of only three people in the United States - all in Starr and Webb counties - -authorized to harvest and sell the psychedelic cactus.

But as overharvesting continues to threaten peyote's growth range in Starr County, he may not have much of a business for long - and Native Americans may lose their access to a substance that drives their religion.

"It used to be you'd go out for a couple of hours and you'd find 500 to 1,000 plants," he said. "Now, you go out for six hours and you don't come back with much."




Pubdate: Tue, 1 Jul 2008
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2008 The Hartford Courant
Author: Daniela Altimari

CANTON - - The 30 or so people who attended an informational meeting Monday on last month's controversial drug sweeps at Canton middle and high schools fell into two camps: those who support it and those who believe it went too far.

"I applaud the superintendent for going forward with this search," said Sandy Sarmuk, a grandmother who is also a retired teacher. "The presence of the police in the building should be [a] comfort to every kid in the school."

Others, including Elisa L. Villa, the mother and lawyer who organized the meeting, sharply disagreed. In their view, the searches chipped away at students' civil liberties, created a climate of fear and violated the school board's policy, which permits such searches only in response to a specific concern.

Moreover, "everyone knows these things don't work," said Dr. Edward Kavle, a pediatrician in town. An educational campaign about the dangers of substance abuse and support for students coping with drugs and alcohol would prove far more effective, he said.

But others cautioned against vilifying the police. "This is legal, what they did," said Peter Getz, a retired Hartford police officer who lives in town. Instead of being traumatized by the presence of drug-sniffing police dogs, his daughter thought they were "cool," he said.




At least some former law and order conservatives are seeing the folly of the drug war, according to a story in the New York Times. But in Ohio, at least one law and order judge still doesn't get it at all. A different judge in Indiana is trying to sort out the mess made by police who appear to have used money confiscated from alleged drug deals as a general slush fund. And, finally, mark my words, when semi-subs are outlawed, only outlaws will have semi-subs.


Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jun 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Samuel G. Freedman

During his years as the attorney general of Virginia, Mark Earley periodically visited his state's prisons. In a very real way, he was looking at the human consequences of his career as a public servant, the men and women jailed for fixed, lengthy sentences without parole under laws Mr. Earley had endorsed. Not surprisingly, many inmates pulled back a few steps when introduced to their visitor.

Eventually, though, Mr. Earley took their measure. What he discovered, he recalled in a recent interview, were "not the Ted Bundys, the mass murderers" but "kids who reminded me of my kids, serving 5, 10, 15 years for drugs and going out and being rearrested again."

In those moments of recognition, Mr. Earley began a startling transformation from a tough-on-crime crusader to an advocate for prison reform and a prominent critic of the very type of drug laws he had formerly promoted. Since leaving the attorney's general's position in 2001, Mr. Earley has taken his new cause to a position as president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, a national organization based in the Washington suburbs.

Motivated both by religious faith and a secular analysis of public policy, Mr. Earley and the fellowship's vice president, Pat Nolan, a former California legislator, have regularly testified before Congress, written op-ed essays and given speeches on behalf of efforts to roll back mandatory-minimum sentencing, equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine, and offer nonviolent offenders treatment rather than incarceration, among other initiatives.

On the surface a redoubt of the religious right, firmly rooted in evangelical Christianity and conservative politics, the Prison Fellowship Ministries' liberal position on such issues underscores the increasing irrelevance of such rigid categories.




Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jun 2008
Source: Cleveland Free Times (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Cleveland Free Times Media
Author: Dan Harkins

Randy Brush got some solid whiffs of what ails America in recent years, after serving nearly a year of a three-year prison sentence for getting caught growing four marijuana plants on the roof of his rural Wellsville home ( "Just What the Doctor Ordered," Jan. 24, 2007). The middle-aged, now-divorced father of three teens was adamant: He was using the home pharmacy to calm the effects of a multitude of medical ailments and pharmaceutical side-effects: Arthritis. High blood pressure. Depression. And on...

But try telling that, then or now, to Republican Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County, who openly called Brush a lowlife in court for quixotically assuming the medical cannabis defense and attracting so many potheads to the courthouse.

At the time, Brush blamed his then-wife for tipping off the authorities. He's not sure who's responsible this time for why the DEA rammed through the doors of his new Columbiana County apartment on May 28 with a fresh search warrant from Pike, more than a year after he was released from a halfway house in Cleveland.

"They got me down and handcuffed me and were screaming, "Where is it? Where is it?' and I was like, "I'm not helping you out this time around, guys,'" the 48-year-old recalled via phone Monday while enjoying a camping trip with two of his three kids. "I had two plants but I destroyed them before they could get to them."

In all, Brush estimates the feds found "not even an ounce" for their troubles - a weight he believes will prevent a grand jury from levying new felony charges. That doesn't mean he doesn't fear the worst.

"This county is ruled by Republicans," Brush says. "[Pike] was angry I got out early. He wanted me sitting in jail. But if I go to court again, I promise a show. I won't pay a fine or court costs or anything. I'll go to jail. It doesn't bother me. I'm going to have them wheel me everywhere I have to go, too [due to arthritis]. You know how much I'll cost them?"

Brush says his medical conditions cost the state as much as $250,000 for his 10 months of incarceration, including an appendectomy that was long-overlooked because medical staff didn't believe his complaints of lingering pain.




Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jun 2008
Source: Star Press, The (Muncie, IN)
Copyright: 2008 The Star Press
Author: Douglas Walker

MUNCIE -- Judge Richard Dailey wants records reflecting all deposits and withdrawals -- and copies of cashed checks -- from a First Merchants Bank account that contained funds confiscated from accused drug dealers by the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force and the county prosecutor's office.

The Delaware Circuit Court 2 judge on Friday issued court orders for those banking records, along with those of two city government accounts and tax forms reflecting payments to Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney, Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman and former Deputy Prosecutor Louis Denney, who filed the civil lawsuits that led to the forfeitures.

Dailey -- who in recent weeks has conducted a series of hearings on what the judge referred to in Friday's orders as "allegations of fraud upon the court in civil drug forfeiture cases" -- also issued an order for "all information" on federal grants that city government, the DTF and the county sheriff's department "used for drug interdiction or enforcement, in Muncie, Ind., from 1996 to present..."

In one of Friday's orders, Dailey wrote that McKinney had "repeatedly asserted to this court that he may enter into confidential agreements and dispose of drug forfeiture funds without court adjudication..."

The judge wrote that through his own investigation he had determined that grants from the U.S. Department of Justice required that all forfeitures "must first be adjudicated in state courts."

In ordering that he be given copies of the banking and tax records, Dailey also noted testimony that McKinney last year received a personal check for $8,413 from an auctioneer who had sold property seized from suspected drug dealers, and that a tax form reflects the city in 2007 paid the prosecutor more than $5,000, also in drug forfeiture funds.




Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2008
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Tribune Co.
Author: Elaine Silvestrini, The Tampa Tribune

U.S. Bill Surfaces to Target

TAMPA -- Semi-submarines are plying the eastern Pacific and Caribbean packed with tons of cocaine.

Just a few years ago a novelty, the vessels, which travel 99 percent below the surface of the sea, are becoming the method of choice for drug lords to smuggle cocaine from Colombia, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ruddy, who oversees "Operation Panama Express," an international drug investigation headquartered in Tampa.

The vessels are becoming so common, a bill has been introduced in Congress to make it a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison just to be on one, regardless of whether there are drugs onboard. That's because authorities think the only purpose of the vessels is to smuggle drugs.

"This is our new challenge in the maritime counter-drug mission," Ruddy said.

Today, the bleary-eyed crew of the fifth semi-submersible interdicted by investigators appeared in U.S. District Court here. Crews of four other vessels interdicted since 2006 have all pleaded guilty to drug trafficking. Those who have been sentenced have received prison terms ranging from nine years to 17 years and six months.




As noted in the last issue of this newsletter, a recent drug war surge in California has caused at least one columnist to question federal priorities.

Yet another cannabis consumer has fallen victim to a grossly disproportional paramilitary police raid.

The depiction of "cannabis culture" in the popular media is a double- edged sword, normalizing cannabis and humanizing growers, sellers and consumers on the one hand, while fostering and perpetuating stereotypes on the other.

Yet another study has concluded that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, which is rather like saying that the Earth is smaller than the Sun ... by several orders of magnitude. Do we really need more studies on this subject?


Pubdate: Tue, 1 Jul 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Peter Schrag

Almost anybody who's lived in California for even a few years knows from where that acrid smell in the air and the yellow haze in the sky have been coming. And we know the scary feeling that comes with them. The only exceptions are the narcs, state and federal, who think it's marijuana smoke.

As California's wildfires overwhelm the resources to fight them, federal and state agents - hundreds of them - have been sweeping through Humboldt County and a sliver of Mendocino County in pursuit of commercial pot growers.

An FBI spokesman was quoted in the Eureka Times-Standard last week as saying that 450 agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies would be executing 27 search warrants in what they called "Operation Southern Sweep." But, he said, they wouldn't be going after medical marijuana dispensaries or their patients. "We're not here to set policy or interfere with California's compassionate use."

There's good reason for that forbearance. The investigation of the pot growers, as in the past, was initiated by the California Justice Department's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and involved state drug agents as well as the California Highway Patrol, county sheriff's deputies, and local cops. Years ago, Attorney General - later governor - George Deukmejian, wearing a flak jacket, himself choppered in to lead one of the raids.


When the feds act alone, they don't have to bother with fine lines, or worry about whether the cancer, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma patients they bust or whose property they seize will now live with even more pain and difficulty negotiating their already tough lives. Federal law pre-empts state law, and federal law, still stuck in the absolutism of the G-man era, says pot is a terrible drug now and forever.

The link between the wildfires and the pot raids is more than symbolic. That's a no-brainer. If more resources were diverted from the drug wars to things that really endangered the community, firefighters would have gotten some of the help last week they were begging for.




Pubdate: Sun, 29 Jun 2008
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2008 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Michael Mayo

What prompted Pembroke Pines police to conduct a dawn paramilitary raid that ended with the June 12 shooting death of homeowner Vincent Hodgkiss?

In its application for a narcotics search warrant, police cited an anonymous complaint of drug dealing, surveillance of high-turnover visitors and two searches of Hodgkiss' trash by detectives, who found scraps of paper with handwritten numbers and trace amounts of "green, leafy substance" that tested positive for marijuana.

Police conducted the raid with its Special Response Team (similar to SWAT) two days after Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen approved the search warrant.

As a result of the investigation, police recovered about an ounce and a half of pot -- and a 46-year-old father ended up dead.

Is this what America really wants from its War on Drugs?

"None of this makes sense," said Roger Scott, an Orlando defense attorney who heads the Florida chapter of NORML, which advocates the legalization of marijuana. "Do you realize that right now prisons are releasing violent criminals early to make room for drug offenders?"

Instead of relaxing marijuana laws, the Florida Legislature keeps getting tougher. This year, it approved a new law increasing penalties for marijuana growhouses. Those possessing more than 25 plants would get mandatory prison time, up to 30 years if children live at the house.




Pubdate: Mon, 7 Jul 2008
Source: Time Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2008 Time Inc
Author: Belinda Luscombe

Judd Apatow had a problem. The test screenings for his movie The 40- Year-Old Virgin were killing. But the jokes that were really landing were the ones featuring pot. Sophomoric, Cheech-and-Chong-y cheap yuks about weed. But funny ones. He called his old friend Garry Shandling to ask whether he should leave them in. They went with the only responsible choice: comedy comes first.

The film opened, and nobody made a big deal about the pot. Nor did Apatow get called out when the lead character in his next big hit, Knocked Up, was an inveterate stoner. And on Aug. 8, Pineapple Express, which he produced, arrives; it's named after a particularly potent (and fictional) strain of Cannabis sativa.

Time was, pot movies were like Grateful Dead concerts or parent- teacher conferences: you had to be wasted to enjoy them. And the genre had two tones, either apoplectic or apologist. But this summer is bringing us a bumper crop of movies and TV shows--Pineapple Express, The Wackness, Humboldt County and Showtime's Weeds among them--with THC in their DNA. Not stoner stories so much as plots that happen to involve pot, they ask, 37 years after the war on drugs was declared, whether there's a place in the culture for treatments of pot that neither criminalize nor celebrate it.

Marijuana is growing onscreen while use of the drug, which has been widespread for nigh on 40 years, is flattening. About 6% of Americans smoked it regularly in 2002, and about 6% of them lit up in 2006. And no, it's not the same 15 million stoners. Many users tend to pick it up in their teens, then drop it in their 20s. And 50% of them don't use any other drugs. Selling it is still illegal, but the pot dealer is no longer the panic-inducing bogeyman he used to be. In movieland, he's become a stock character, about as threatening as the hot woman's quirky roommate.

But funnier. "I'm always a proponent for the comedy involved in people who are under the influence," says Apatow. "I just think it's fun watching anyone acting like an idiot." Alcohol, the comic intoxicant of choice for generations of filmmakers, is now too strongly associated in people's minds with spousal battery and drunk driving to be truly hilarious.




Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2008
Source: Irish Examiner (Ireland)
Copyright: Examiner Publications Ltd, 2008
Author: Cormac O'Keeffe

CANNABIS is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, according to a major review published by the EU drugs agency.

The report said most users cease smoking cannabis by their late 20s or early 30s and that the vast majority did not experience any negative effects.

"On every comparison of dangerousness we have considered, cannabis is at or near the bottom in comparison with other psychoactive substances," said author Robin Room, in an analysis contained in a 700-page EU report on cannabis.

The report, A Cannabis Reader: Global Issues and Local Experiences, was published yesterday by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction to coincide with international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Mr Room examined a range of research on the health effects of legal and illegal drugs, which compared the substances based on dangerousness or harm, degree of intoxication and dependence. These found:

* Harm: Ecstasy and cocaine highest, followed by alcohol and heroin, with cannabis lowest.

* Intoxication: Alcohol highest, heroin next, then cocaine, cannabis fourth.

* Dependence: Tobacco highest, heroin second, cocaine third, alcohol fourth and cannabis lowest.

The study follows a report this week by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, which highlighted sharp rises in cannabis use in many parts of Ireland.




To demonstrate their drug-fighting zeal, communist officials in China had six "drug dealers" executed last week. While China regularly executes ostensible drug "dealers," the executions have little effect. "The number of drug-related cases have been growing," admitted Supreme People's Court spokesman Ni Shouming. With China's growing economic prowess comes a growing smorgasbord of drugs: "The quantity and new types of drugs are increasing."

The Mexican government last week gladly accepted $400 million of money courtesy the U.S. taxpayer, "to fight drugs." To make the arrangement more acceptable to Mexican politicians and law enforcement, "House and Senate leaders toned down the human rights" concerns. Ironically, shortly after the $400 million gift to Mexican drug war camp followers was announced, embarrassing police training videos surfaced in Leon, Mexico in which police are shown being taught how to torture suspects. "Perhaps it looks inhuman to us," explained one Mexican official, but everyone else is doing it, too: this is a "method that is used all over the world." Police are shown training how to force a victim "to crawl through vomit and injecting carbonated water into the nose of another."

And in Canada this week, another B.C. grow op bust. Fifteen police, trained in the latest U.S. SWAT-team tactics, raided a grow operation in Prince Rupert. As is customary, guns were drawn, and "perps" were roughed up and thrown to the ground. After all, grow ops are associated with possible danger to children. Electrical hazards, chemical hazards: all these things and more inside of a grow op could harm kids, we are told: so police want to take grow shows down - to save the kids. Confused police suspected something was amiss when the marijuana plants they expected to find turned out to be, well, tomatoes. A search of the employee's cars failed to turn up so much as a single cannabis cigarette. Police left, but so far haven't mentioned the flub, nor have they apologized to the indoor tomato farmers they roughed up. And all that talk about how grow shows might "endanger children" with the indoor lights, chemicals and dangerous wiring? Switch the plant from cannabis to tomatoes, and such indoor grow op concerns vanish.


Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2008
Source: China Daily (China)
Copyright: 2008 China Daily
Author: Xie Chuanjiao

Six people were executed in Yunnan and Henan provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region for dealing in large quantities of drugs in three separate cases, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said yesterday.


SPC spokesman Ni Shouming said the country's anti-drug campaign remains tough.

"The number of drug-related cases have been growing with more gangs, families, and organizations involved," he said.

The quantity and new types of drugs are increasing, he said.




Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jun 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey

MEXICO CITY -- With a deadly drug war spreading around the country, beleaguered Mexican officials on Friday welcomed $400 million in anti-narcotics assistance in a bill that was given final Congressional approval in Washington on Thursday night.

The White House said that President Bush would sign the bill, though lawmakers had trimmed $100 million from his request. The aid package, which will send helicopters, drug-sniffing dogs and technical help to Mexico, came dangerously close to falling apart.


In subsequent negotiations, House and Senate leaders toned down the human rights language but did not eliminate it altogether. The bill still calls on Mexico's armed forces to cooperate with civilian prosecutors when soldiers are accused of committing abuses, and still requires the State Department to report to Congress on the Mexican government's collaboration with civilian groups who have been strongly critical of the security forces in the past.




Pubdate: Wed, 2 Jul 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post Foreign

MEXICO CITY -- Videos showing Mexican police learning torture methods appeared on the Internet this week as the country, soon to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. anti-drug aid, is seeking to improve its human rights record.

The videos show officers in the city of Leon, about 150 miles northwest of Mexico City, forcing one of their colleagues to crawl through vomit and injecting carbonated water into the nose of another. An instructor, whose face can be seen in one video, barks out commands in English. Leon Police Chief Carlos Tornero told the Associated Press that the instructor is from a private U.S. security firm, but he declined to say which one.


The videos -- first uncovered by a local newspaper, El Heraldo de Leon -- ran repeatedly Tuesday on television stations here and prompted huge headlines in daily newspapers. La Jornada, a left-leaning Mexico City newspaper, declared, "Law enforcement in Leon teaches police to torture."


Residents in several states have accused Mexican soldiers of committing hundreds of human rights violations, including rape and unjustified shootings, during a crackdown on drug cartels. Activists say Mexicans frequently do not make human rights complaints against local police for fear of retribution.

In recent months, human rights concerns shaped negotiations between U.S. and Mexican lawmakers over a $400 million U.S. aid package designed to help Mexico fight drug cartels.

Mexican officials persuaded the U.S. Congress to remove some human rights conditions, but a provision prohibiting Mexico from using testimony derived from tortured witnesses remained in the final bill.


"Perhaps it looks inhuman to us," Guerrero told El Heraldo de Leon. "But it is part of a preparation method that is used all over the world."



Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jul 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: John Colebourn

Red-faced drug cops looking for a marijuana grow-op came up with a tomato grow-op instead.

Prince Rupert commercial fisherman Bruce Aleksich said yesterday that about 15 Mounties burst into his business last Thursday, only to find 400 tomato plants in various stages of growth.

After a bleak spring, Aleksich decided to grow the tomatoes under lights.

He has recently been rotating the tomatoes between the indoors and outdoors.

When RCMP arrived at about 9 p.m., Aleksich told them he was a good gardener with nothing but tasty tomatoes in the building.

Despite his edible alibi, Aleksich, two employees and two visitors were forced to the ground. "They had us on the floor for over an hour," he said. "All of us were cuffed. I don't know how it got to the point where guns were drawn."

After finding the tomatoes, the cops checked all the vehicles for drugs, Aleksich said. Aleksich said he has heard nothing from the RCMP about their mistake.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Bruce Mirken, AlterNet. Posted July 2, 2008.

WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the U.S. has the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use.


By Laura Carlsen

On June 26, after months of intense manoeuvering in Washington, the U.S. Senate passed the final version of the "Merida Initiative" and the President subsequently signed it into law.


By David Borden, Drug War Chronicle

The day we legalize drugs is the day we can begin to clean up the mess that the drug prohibition experiment has created.


By Bia Labate and Sergio Vidal

Translated by Luana Malheiro; Revised by Brian Anderson


Century of Lies- 07/01/08 - Cliff Thornton

Cliff Thornton of Efficacy discusses the political implications of the drug war + Russ Bellville of NORML's audio stash opinion piece & Loretta Nall discusses Alabama's justice system.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show- 07/02/08 - Arnold Trebach

Professor Arnold Trebach, author of Fatal Distraction + LEAP report from Terry Nelson, Glenn Greenway with Poppygate report, OP-ED from Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project & Amsterdam prohibits tobacco not pot.


By Jacob Sullum

With the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration celebrating its 35th birthday this week, the publication of a new study estimating drug use rates across countries is well-timed.



In 1997, U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexico border as part of the War on Drugs shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez Jr. Mistaken for a drug runner, the 18-year-old was, in fact, a U.S. citizen tending his family's goats with a .22 rifle. He became the first American killed by U.S. military forces on native soil since the 1970 Kent State shootings. "The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez," narrated by Tommy Lee Jones, explores Hernandez's tragic death and its torturous aftermath.



Don't Teach Our Children Crime. A DrugSense Focus Alert




By Matthew M. Elrod

Re: "That little joint could kill your child, MD says," June 26.

I would have hoped that it goes without saying that parents should not leave cannabis within reach of young children, but if a child dies from cannabis poisoning it will be the first such death in recorded history.

Whole cannabis is non-toxic and it is physically impossible to fatally overdose on it. In contrast, dozens of children die from eating cigarettes and cigarette butts every year. Hundreds more are poisoned from eating house and garden plants.

Further, whole cannabis is not psychoactive when ingested orally, unless it is first heated to several hundred degrees for a period of time or, as your cautionary article mentioned, baked into food.

All the same, a child would have to consume several times its own weight in cannabis brownies to fatally overdose on cannabinoids, long after the caffeine, chocolate and sugar consumed reached toxic levels.

Matthew M. Elrod Victoria

Pubdate: Sat, 28 Jun 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)



By Pete Guither

I've long talked about how the war on drugs damages the inner cities and low income areas. The lure of black market profits is greater, the transactions tend to be more public, and there's a stronger direct push for arrest and incarceration.

One of the casualties of this is the family left behind when dad is sent to prison for dealing. Now you've got a poor family in a poor neighborhood, without a father figure, dependent on welfare, and the kids grow up looking for an escape from that life (gangs, drugs, etc.)

And again, for any of the mindless "well, don't do the crime if you can't do the time" law and order types, this is not just about individual choices -- it's about the fact that prohibition creates certain destructive economic incentives and realities. By continuing to stand in front of a long line of about-to-be incarcerated drug criminals individually saying "he deserves it... he deserves it... he deserves it..." you ignore your responsibility as a rational player in society to make societal changes for the better.

So one of the realities is the broken family. But Reason's Kerry Howley takes it a step further in the Los Angeles Times ( ), opining that more families suffer the fallout than just those who have a male in prison:

"For low-income black women, the world really isn't cooperating. We put an awful lot of nonviolent black men behind bars, which is not generally conducive to good fathering. With so many young men absent, the marriage markets are heavily skewed against women, and mothers who might otherwise demand that men stay home and change diapers find themselves in a miserable bargaining position. In his book 'The Logic of Life,' Tim Harford describes one study indicating that 'a one-percentage- point increase in the proportion of young black men in prison reduces the proportion of young black women who have ever been married by three percentage points.'"

Ilya Somin of Volokh Conspiracy follows up in "Why the War on Drugs is Bad for Family Values" ( ):

"Some conservatives might argue that the kinds of men who get arrested for drug possession or dealing wouldn't make good husbands even if they stay out of prison. Perhaps that is true in some cases. But these men still probably beat the alternative of single parenthood. Moreover, Kerry's point about bargaining position is crucial here. If fewer men from these communities were in prison, there would be more competition between them in the dating market and thus stronger incentives for them to behave in ways that appeal to women."

These are important points to remember when discussing the war on drugs with social conservatives in particular.

If they believe that the two-parent family is a value that should be desired, then the drug war is a negative factor in achieving that dream.

And stop worrying about gays destroying marriage. The real danger to marriage is prohibition.

Pete Guither is the author of Drug WarRant - - a weblog at the front lines of the drug war, where this piece was first presented.


"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning." - Frederick Douglass

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