This Just In
(1)Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?
(2)'Bong Hits' Case Going Back to Court
(3)Scared Probation
(4)Rights Intact After Bust, Court Rules

Hot Off The 'Net
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-A Dangerous Fiction / By Misha Glenny
-LEAP Speaker Tony Ryan on KFAB Radio
-20 Years For Pot Possession? / By Paul Armentano
-Drug Truth Network
-Anti-Heroin Hero Explains Why Afghan Flop Is Everyone Else's Fault
-Drug Policy Debate At Opposingviews.Com

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: New York Times Magazine (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Thomas Schweich

On March 1, 2006, I met Hamid Karzai for the first time. It was a clear, crisp day in Kabul. The Afghan president joined President and Mrs. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Ronald Neumann to dedicate the new United States Embassy. He thanked the American people for all they had done for Afghanistan. I was a senior counternarcotics official recently arrived in a country that supplied 90 percent of the world's heroin.

I took to heart Karzai's strong statements against the Afghan drug trade.

That was my first mistake.




Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2008
Source: Juneau Empire (AK)
Copyright: 2008 Southeastern Newspaper Corp
Author: Alan Suderman, Juneau Empire

Mertz Says Supreme Court Ruling Did Not Address All the Issues Involved in the Case

The "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case is headed back to court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case in September, local attorney Doug Mertz said Wednesday.

Mertz represents Joseph Frederick, the former Juneau-Douglas High School student who displayed the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner that sparked a free speech debate that has been going on for six years and has been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mertz said the Supreme Court ruling had not addressed all the issues involved in the case, particularly whether Alaska's free speech provisions protected Frederick's actions and whether the banner constituted a legitimate political or social protest rather than a pro-drug declaration.

Frederick pressed his case in district court, but was turned down. The appeal is in reaction to that decision.

"Frederick's banner had nothing to do with drugs, the principal's seizure of it was unreasonable, and ... the banner was well within the protections of the Alaska Constitution," Mertz said in a statement.

Mertz said he was notified directly that the same panel of three judges that had previously sided with his client agreed to hear the case.




Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Mark Schoofs

Honolulu - Jobert Sumibcay, father of a toddler, was in jail only for the weekend, but it was bitter. "Father's Day, missing Father's Day," he lamented. The 21-year-old admitted car thief and methamphetamine addict, usually free on probation, added: "It's actually real good that I come to prison" because it "wakes you up: Why are you doing this? You could be out there instead of being in here."

That is the message an innovative Hawaiian probation program aims to send. Started about four years ago by a former U.S. attorney who is now a judge, the program has the potential to transform the nation's broken probation system, some crime experts believe.

Known as HOPE, for Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, the strategy has sharply reduced probation violations among participating criminals.

Preliminary evidence from law enforcement suggests it can also reduce repeat crimes. The key: "flash incarceration" that sends offenders to jail for short but immediate sentences for violating virtually any probation condition.




Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2008
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2008 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Mike McIntyre

Winnipeg police didn't breach a man's charter rights when they went to check on his emotional well-being and found a marijuana grow operation inside his home.

Ryan Tereck tried to fight his drug conviction on the grounds police had no right busting into his home and seizing about 300 pot plans found inside.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal disagrees, ruling this week police were only looking out for his best interests and can't be faulted for stumbling across a crime in the process.

The unusual case dates back to April 2005, when Tereck apparently told his psychiatrist in a letter he planned to shoot and kill himself. The information was passed on to Tereck's father, who called police. He told officers his son seemed "agitated" during their last conversation and he was concerned he may follow through with his suicide threat.





Many recent news stories have suggested that an intensifying Mexican drug war is reaching into the U.S., particularly in Texas near the Mexican border. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the war is reaching all the way into Georgia, with drug-related kidnappings dramatically rising in one county.

Remember the clinking of champagne glasses at the Office of National Drug Control Policy over the alleged rise in cocaine prices? That story is being contradicted yet again at the local level, this time in Colorado, where cocaine is cheaper than ever. Also this week, another long-standing legal principle in the United States is under fire, and it will be attacked through a drug war case in the U.S. Supreme Court; and a new demon drug is reported in North Carolina.


Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Mary Lou Pickel, Staff writer

A recent increase in drug-related kidnappings in Gwinnett County has put a spotlight on drug violence in Georgia, federal agents say.

About nine drug-related kidnappings have occurred in Gwinnett this year. The latest involved a man bound and chained in a basement in Lilburn whom federal agents rescued earlier this month.

Mexican drug cartels are moving large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the country for distribution up the East Coast, said Rodney Benson, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta. Drug-related kidnappings have increased in the past 90 days, he said.

David Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said Gwinnett is a center of Mexican drug cartel activity in the area because of easy transportation on I-85 and a large Hispanic population where traffickers can try to blend in.

Three Gwinnett cases in the past three months have involved a kidnapping victim held in a home and released after a police rescue or a stakeout of a ransom drop.

In one case this month, police shot and killed a kidnapping suspect in a ransom pick-up. In another police arrested nine accused drug traffickers in Lawrenceville, the youngest a 16-year-old girl.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jul 2008
Source: Daily Sentinel, The (Grand Junction, CO)
Copyright: 2008 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Amy Hamilton

Nearly anyone these days can recognize the hollowed-out features, skinny limbs and pockmarked skin that characterize someone hooked on methamphetamine, thanks in part to intensive local education campaigns.

It's precisely that education, coupled with a crackdown on meth users and dealers that has helped get pounds of meth off local streets, law enforcement officials report.

Yet, like any supply-and-demand equation, that is causing a decrease in the amount of the locally available drug, lowering its quality and making it more expensive. That shift has tipped the scales in the drug-buying business, now making cocaine relatively less expensive and more likely to be discovered by undercover officers in drug raids, according to spokeswoman Karen Flowers, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Grand Junction.

"It's cheaper to buy cocaine," she said. "If you have an addiction, you want to do what it takes to stimulate that high. Cocaine is the closest thing ( next to meth ) that's readily available."




Pubdate: Sat, 19 Jul 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Adam Liptak

American Exception

Bradley Harrison was driving a rented Dodge Durango from Vancouver to Toronto in the fall of 2004 with 77 pounds of cocaine in the trunk when a police officer pulled him over, found the drugs and arrested him.

A year and a half later, an Ontario trial judge ruled that the officer's conduct was a "brazen and flagrant" violation of Mr. Harrison's rights. The officer's explanation for stopping and searching Mr. Harrison -- confusion about a license plate -- was contrived and defied credibility, the judge said, and the search "was certainly not reasonable."

In the United States, that would have been good news for Mr. Harrison. Under the American legal system's exclusionary rule, the evidence against Mr. Harrison would have been suppressed as the result of an unlawful search.

But both the Canadian trial judge and an appeals court refused to exclude the evidence. Mr. Harrison was sentenced to five years in prison.

"Without minimizing the seriousness of the police officer's conduct or in any way condoning it," the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled in Mr. Harrison's case in February, "the exclusion of 77 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of several millions of dollars and the potential to cause serious grief and misery to many, would bring the administration of justice into greater disrepute than would its admission." The case is now before the Canadian Supreme Court.

The United States is the only country to take the position that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence. The rule applies whether the misconduct is slight or serious, and without regard to the gravity of the crime or the power of the evidence.

"Foreign countries have flatly rejected our approach," said Craig M. Bradley, an expert in comparative criminal law at Indiana University. "In every other country, it's up to the trial judge to decide whether police misconduct has risen to the level of requiring the exclusion of evidence."

But there are signs that some justices on the United States Supreme Court may be ready to reconsider the American version of the exclusionary rule. Writing for the majority two years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia said that at least some unconstitutional conduct ought not require "resort to the massive remedy of suppressing evidence of guilt."

The court will soon have an opportunity to clarify matters. The justices will hear arguments on Oct. 7 about whether methamphetamines and a gun belonging to Bennie Dean Herring, of Brundidge, Ala., should be suppressed because the officers who conducted the search mistakenly believed he was subject to an outstanding arrest warrant as a result of careless record-keeping by another police department.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jul 2008
Source: Mountaineer, The (Waynesville, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The Mountaineer Publishing Company
Author: Beth Pleming

Local law enforcement officers are concerned about a drug that has recently surfaced on the streets of Haywood County known to induce psychotic and often violent behavior. Authorities said the drug, officially known as #64 DOC, is a danger not only to those under its influence, but also to the surrounding community and law enforcement officers charged with the responsibility of ensuring the community is safe for all.

"It's scary from our standpoint," said Det. Mark Mease, Haywood County Sheriff's Office, "because those who take it are not only a danger to themselves and to the community around them, but also to us. We are responsible for protecting everyone, both those under the influence of drugs and all others around them. We feel like this drug is such a hazard to the community."

The psychedelic designer drug known on the street as "molly paper," is a close cousin of Ecstasy, said Det. Brad Shirley, Canton Police Department. The potent, long-acting psychoactive is a chemical, similar in form to LSD, in that it is absorbed through the skin or orally ingested on small tabs of blotter paper.

The quarter-inch tabs of paper are often decorated with images, cartoons or other designs.

But it produces a different high, often characterized by psychotic, violent behavior, Mease said.

Authorities suspect the drug may have been involved in certain recent incidents involving violent subjects, but that has not been confirmed.

While executing a search warrant issued because of suspected methamphetamines, Canton Police Department officers discovered small tabs of blotter paper in one subject's purse and, presuming it to be LSD, sent the substance to be analyzed by the State Bureau of Investigations.




More corruption, ineptitude and cruelty while allegedly enforcing drug laws.


Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2008
Source: Star Press, The (Muncie, IN)
Copyright: 2008 The Star Press
Author: Rick Yencer

MUNCIE -- Mark McKinney maintains he has not "done anything wrong" in accepting payment for work on civil forfeiture cases after taking office as Delaware County prosecutor in January 2007.

"That was for work I did before I took office," McKinney, who was a deputy prosecutor for several years before his November 2006 election, said during a Friday interview. "I never billed the city for anything after I took office."

McKinney was paid $5,969 in attorney fees in 2007, however, on a handful of civil forfeiture cases, with $4,193 for the seizure of property and money from accused drug dealer Adrian Kirtz. That case is among those being investigated after the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force and McKinney, acting as its attorney, allegedly distributed more than $50,000 in cash and other property through a confidential settlement after a judge had ordered the assets frozen.

Last year, McKinney also received a personal check for $8,418 from auctioneer Noah Mason, who sold property seized from suspected drug dealers and paid the proceeds to the DTF. State law prohibits full-time elected prosecutors from maintaining a private law practice.

McKinney said Friday that all the money he received after taking office as prosecutor in 2007 was for old cases, although most of them have no court order authorizing the distribution or spending. "I have not done anything wrong," the prosecutor said.

The State Board of Accounts has raised more questions about drug forfeiture funds and spending in a draft 2007 audit now being discussed with city officials.

Along with the $14,677 in attorney fees to McKinney and Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman for civil forfeiture work, auditors also questioned $17,873 the DTF spent to pay off a loan on a seized vehicle.





Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jul 2008
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2008 Orlando Sentinel
Author: Jim Leusner, Sentinel Staff Writer

An Altamonte Springs police officer - recently kicked out of a countywide drug task force -- and his wife have been arrested on federal drug and weapons charges. Authorities said he also was planning to kill a former drug unit supervisor.

Clay T. Adams, 36, a master patrolman, was arrested by a task force of agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. His wife, Robyn, also was charged.

Adams has been suspended without pay, Altamonte Springs Police Chief Robert Merchant said at a press conference held Tuesday.

"I am extremely upset," he said. "We work very, very hard to build our reputation only to have it brought down by ( Adams' ) actions."

Adams was arrested as he reported for duty at 7:30 p.m., said Altamonte Police spokesman Tim Hyer. "It was shocking to hear," PFC. Robert Pelton said. "It hit us out of left field. It's disappointing that one of your own could do something like that."



Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jul 2008
Source: Jacksonville Daily News (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Jacksonville Daily News
Author: Molly Dewitt

It's taking the North Carolina state crime lab between 15 and 18 months to get drug evidence processed. Bob Crumley, Republican candidate for North Carolina Attorney General, wants to do something about that. "There's been backlog and it's just tremendous," Crumley said. The backlog has contributed, he said, to more crime. While evidence is waiting to be processed at the crime lab, those involved in the crime are out on bond, walking the streets and possibly committing more crimes, Crumley said.

The backlog is also affecting the jails, which are being filled with people who can't make bond but are waiting on evidence in order to be tried, he said. "Predominantly, people are not serving a sentence, they're awaiting trial," Crumley said. "If you get the evidence analysis quicker then you'll get those folks out of jail quicker."

Although he doesn't expect miracles, he does expect a faster more reasonable turn around time closer to 30 or 60 days, he said.

"You're never going to get CSI and have the case solved in an hour," he said. Part of the problem is that current Attorney General Roy Cooper, Crumley's opponent on Nov. 4, and those previous have been more concerned with the next election, or running for another office, Crumley said. "We need an attorney general whose priority is that office," he said. "We've had a whole series of attorney generals who are not focused on ( the crime lab problem ) but rather on the next election."




Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jul 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Angelita Able

Paroled after Michigan legislators, in 1998 and 2003, enacted sweeping reforms reducing lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences, Angelita Able walked out prison last year and did what she had not done in a decade: She made dinner for her daughters.

"The first time they laid eyes on me, we cried together," says Able, now 33, looking at daughters Re-Nae, 15, and Roshinique, 12. "We were a family unit and that was torn apart."

Wearing shy smiles, the girls sit across the table from their mom in her sparsely furnished first-floor townhouse on West 7 Mile Road.

The eldest, Che'Nae, 19, has just completed her freshman year at Michigan State University.

Across town the girls' father, Reginald Alford, 36, continues to serve his sentence for the same crime that sent Able away for 10 years.

In 1997, police charged Able and Alford, who were living together, with conspiracy to deliver, or traffic, in cocaine. They seized 433 grams and police claimed she had handled a baggie subsequently sold to an undercover officer.

Neither had criminal records. "We're not the major drug players that the law was intended for," explains Able.

Able received two consecutive sentences of 10 to 30 years each for cocaine delivery and was originally eligible for parole in 2017. After a series of sentencing reforms, she was paroled in 2007. Alford, also sentenced to 30 to 60 years, might be released later this year.

Other than phone calls and pictures sent in the mail, the couple has had no contact since their arrest, when their daughters were 8, 5 and 1.

Both spent time with convicted murderers who were serving lighter sentences.




A quaint specimen of British cannapanic, featuring the exclusive opinion of a police officer. "Equipment needed to start a cannabis farm can be bought from supermarkets and garden centres at a relatively low cost of around [UKP] 1,000 and the return can be massive." Thanks for the tip.

James L. Capra of the DEA had some nasty words for Joy Strickland of Mothers Against Teen Violence for daring to suggest that the drug war brings crime and violence to communities. It seems his best justification for laws against cannabis possession is that they are seldom enforced, and that "drug advocacy groups" are misleading the public when they claim otherwise. And I thought we were sending the right message to kids.

I recommend an antiemetic before reading Kevin A. Sabet, "adviser" to the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition, who outed the "pro-legalization movement" for exploiting the sick and dying for political gain. And we would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't of been for you meddling moral entrepreneurs.

The current issue of New Yorker Magazine, yes that New Yorker Magazine, carries a somewhat more realistic account of a journalist's immersion into the world of medicinal cannabis in California.

 (13) OVERRUN BY WEED  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Oldham Evening Chronicle (UK)
Copyright: Oldham Evening Chronicle 2008
Author: Dawn Eckerslet

It could be going on right under your nose and there's a good chance you wouldn't suspect a thing. Domestic cannabis farms have become a very real problem and police in Oldham have uncovered a number of organised crime rings operating across the borough this year. Setting up a cannabis farm can be fairly cheap and offers a sizeable return - but it is an extremely dangerous practice. Reporter Dawn Eckersley spoke to DC Dave Millwood from Oldham Police's Operational Support Unit to see what is being done to tackle the borough's growing cannabis problem.

Over the past year, officers working within the OSU have arrested more than 100 people for drugs-related offences and seized around 50 kilos of controlled substances with a street value of [UKP] 1.4 million.


But it's not just the organised gangs that are being targeted by police and the penalties for being caught in possession of cannabis can vary enormously.

DC Millwood said: "Whether you are growing one plant or 100 plants we will be banging your door down. It is the bigger farms that cause us the bigger problems but that doesn't mean we ignore the people who grow cannabis for their own personal use.

"The penalties you can receive for being caught with cannabis on you can vary. At the lower end, police will confiscate your cannabis and give you a caution but it is more than likely you will be arrested and, if charged, you could end up in court looking at anything from a conditional discharge, or a fine, to 10 years in prison if the judge thinks you have enough cannabis on you to supply others.

"Our work reflects the work of other departments as different types of crime are often linked. For example, a lot of burglaries are committed for drugs money so if you take away the dealers there is no need for the burglaries."


"We often work with former drug addicts and many of them say that their cannabis use led on to harder drugs. It's not always the case but as the effects of cannabis become less strong and the buzz less intense, users often look to harder drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine, in search of the hit that cannabis once gave them."



Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: James Capra

The column last week by the local CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence once again highlights the misguided understanding and myths about marijuana legalization. Joy Strickland is on point when she writes, "every child deserves a safe and supportive home, school and community." But how does decriminalizing marijuana ensure that this will happen?

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that legalization or decriminalization would reduce crime in our communities. However, ample evidence suggests that such action would result in more users and health costs.

Many advocates of decriminalization or legalization consistently point to The Netherlands and other European nations as an effective model for nirvana-like drug control. But these statements border on fantasy. Officials in The Netherlands blame the rise in crime in the past several years on their lax drug policy. Addicts are blamed for 80 percent of all property crime, and Amsterdam's burglary rate a few years ago was twice the rate of Newark, N.J.


The other myth intimated by Ms. Strickland is that the prisons are filled with drug users, in particular, marijuana users. This is an illusion that has been perpetuated by drug advocacy groups seeking to relax or abolish our marijuana laws.

For Ms. Strickland to suggest that she "is not aware of one single death directly caused by marijuana" or that it "is irrational to lock up an individual because of what he chooses to put into to his own body" as justification to decriminalize is disturbing logic. Ongoing scientific research continues to prove the harmful effects of marijuana on the body. More young people seek treatment for marijuana abuse than for any other substance.

In addition, many serious motor vehicle accidents and fatalities have occurred where the drivers have been charged with being under the influence of marijuana.




Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2008
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Kevin A. Sabet

A recent article in the Daily Bulletin regarding medical marijuana failed to mention the fallacies and problems associated with what has become a personal mission and profession for a limited few to blatantly distort the truth in an attempt to lead readers to believe that smoked marijuana is medicine.

The simple failure to mention the scores of young adults and others who obtain marijuana cards simply to get high is rather astonishing. Instead, The Sun was scammed by the pro-legalization movement that constantly seeks out and pushes the sick in the view of the media for their own selfish cause.

Never will they tell you about the scores of youth and adults who have California-issued marijuana cards for no other purpose than to get high. Now that would make a story worth publishing.

The public is not fooled. After a decade of watching the failures of Prop 215, enough is enough. With all of the talk about medical marijuana it is hard to separate truth and science from ideology and dogma. In recent years, marijuana activists in the state have donned white coats and exclaimed a new-found concern for the seriously ill, while legislators and judges have been left to wrestle with the consequences of a poorly written referendum, Proposition 215.


Concerned communities, parents, educators and youth can learn more about the dangers of marijuana at


 (16) DR. KUSH  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: New Yorker, The (US)
Copyright: 2008 Conde Nast Publications Inc.
Author: David Samuels

A Reporter at Large

How Medical Marijuana Is Transforming the Pot Industry.

California now has more than two hundred thousand physician-sanctioned pot users and hundreds of dispensaries.

The Tibetan prayer flags suspended on a string over the sleeping body of Captain Blue rose and fell in fluttering counterpoint to the wheezy rhythm of his breath. Lifted by a gentle breeze off the Pacific Ocean, each swatch of red, white, yellow, or green cotton bore a paragraph of Asian script. Every time a flag flaps in the breeze, it is thought, a prayer flies off to Heaven. Blue's mother says that when her son was an infant he used to sleep until noon, which is still the time that he wakes up most days, on his platform bed in a one-bedroom apartment overlooking Venice Beach, a neighborhood of Los Angeles.

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and Captain Blue was dozing after a copious inhalation of purified marijuana vapor. (His nickname is an homage to his favorite variety of bud.) His hair was black and greasy, and was spread across his pillow. On the front of his purple T-shirt, which had slid up to expose his round belly, were the words "Big Daddy." With his arm wrapped around a three-foot-long green bong, he resembled a large, contented baby who has fallen asleep with his milk bottle.

Captain Blue is a pot broker. More precisely, he helps connect growers of high-grade marijuana upstate to the retail dispensaries that sell marijuana legally to Californians on a doctor's recommendation. Since 1996, when a referendum known as Proposition 215 was approved by California voters, it has been legal, under California state law, for authorized patients to possess or cultivate the drug. The proposition also allowed a grower to cultivate marijuana for a patient, as long as he had been designated a "primary caregiver" by that patient. Although much of the public discussion centered on the needs of patients with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases that are synonymous with extraordinary suffering, the language of the proposition was intentionally broad, covering any medical condition for which a licensed physician might judge marijuana to be an appropriate remedy-- insomnia, say, or attention-deficit disorder.


Like many other dispensary owners I spoke with, Cindy derives particular satisfaction from providing medication to people who suffer from chronic diseases. Although she suspects that there is nothing seriously wrong with many of the young men who come in to buy an eighth of L.A. Confidential, she doesn't regard marijuana as a harmful drug when compared with Xanax, Valium, Prozac, and other pills that are commonly prescribed by physicians to treat vague complaints of anxiety or dysphoria.




Though Dublin, Ireland is now "like Chicago in the 1920s" the U.K. Observer newspaper just can't take the next little logical step, the realization that gangland turf battles caused by the ill-advised prohibition of one drug (alcohol), are very much like the gangland turf battles caused by the ill-advised prohibition of other drugs.

In the U.K., a leaked position paper from the ruling Liberal party reveals plans to force unemployed benefit claimants to declare illicit cannabis use and attend treatment programs - "compelled to seek treatment if necessary". To garner public support, the program would first target heroin and crack cocaine users before moving on to the real target, the use of "cannabis".

In Canada, the release last week of government (Statistics Canada) numbers showing "the national crime rate had fallen to a 30-year low" prompted the minority conservative government to deny it mattered. "We are not governing by statistics," snorted Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. The right-wing minority government of Stephen Harper had been loudly claiming Canadians are "less safe today", making that the cornerstone for mandatory minimum laws which eternally ratchet up jail time for trivial and non-violent drug offences. Police and prosecutors - partners with the Tories in their drive to incarcerate more Canadians - are salivating over the possibilities. "The law would also automatically jail those caught growing even a single marijuana plant." By fine-tuning charges, and with threats of heavy jail time, prosecutors use mandatory minimums to coerce guilty pleas, often from innocent people. Not to worry: those investing in new private prisons stand to make a killing.


Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Henry McDonald, Ireland editor

Gangland wars have turned Dublin into the Chicago of the 21st century, a TD and chairman of a drugs task force in the Irish capital said last night.

Labour TD Joe Costello also revealed that a preliminary study by the Inner City Drugs Task Force has found that a majority of drug dealers arrested on serious offences were out on bail.




Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Gaby Hinsliff, political editor, The Observer

Jobcentre Staff Will Be Able to Withhold Cash and Force Claimants to Attend Treatment Programmes

The unemployed will be forced to declare drug or heavy drinking habits when they apply for benefits and will have payments cut if they give misleading answers, under government proposals which were announced yesterday.

Probation officers, prison staff and the police will also be asked to share with Jobcentres any information they have about individuals' habits so that those deemed to have problem habits can be identified and compelled to seek treatment if necessary. Those who conceal drug use, or refuse to co-operate with treatment, face benefit cuts.

A leaked copy of the green paper to be published tomorrow by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, suggests that the scheme could start with heroin and crack cocaine users before extending it to 'those dependent on cannabis and alcohol'.


The paper admits there are potential 'drawbacks' to the plan and its impact would need to be studied, since only half a per cent of those applying for the job seekers allowance every year were thought to be problem drug users. "The law would also automatically jail those caught growing even a single marijuana plant.




Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star

Despite Falling Crime Rate, Liberals And Tories Have Both Embraced Mandatory Minimums

"Canada was founded on the principles of peace, order and good government. This is the birthright of all Canadians; yet Canadians feel less safe today and rightly worry about the security of their neighbourhoods and the country. There is no greater responsibility for a government than to protect this right to safety and security."

Speech from the Throne, Oct. 16, 2007


Despite repeated requests from the Star, neither Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day nor Justice Minister Rob Nicholson agreed to be interviewed on the subject of mandatory minimum sentences and the government's approach on crime and punishment. Instead, staff sent emails outlining the government's agenda, and in the case of Day, said he was too busy.

On Thursday, when Statistics Canada reported that the national crime rate had fallen to a 30-year low, Nicholson told Canadian Press: "We are not governing by statistics. We are governing by what we promised Canadians in the last election and what Canadians have told us."


The federal government now wants to bring in mandatory sentences aimed at mid- and high-level drug dealers, adding to the list of crimes for which judges no longer have sentencing discretion. (See accompanying fact box for details on the legislation, known as Bill C-26.)

But critics point out that low-level dealers who are often addicted to the drugs they are peddling will also be caught by these measures. The law would also automatically jail those caught growing even a single marijuana plant.


Another perverse side effect, said Kulik: Removing judicial discretion on sentences shifts discretion to police and Crown attorneys, meaning more plea bargaining for those who may not be guilty but are fearful of an automatic jail term and, conversely, more not-guilty pleas from people who are guilty.




Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jul 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell

With new laws in Canada that will put more people away, for longer - in jail and prison systems where rehabilitative programs are unavailable or difficult to access - the cost of jailing is about to go up. If the aim is to reduce crime, Michigan is proof otherwise. And the cost is more than dollars.


If mandatory minimums were intended to target drug kingpins, they failed abysmally, casting "such a wide net that low-level addicts and couriers and people very much at the bottom of the drug trade are swept in a wide net and sent to prison for decades for really what is very minor activity," says Sager.


"Releasing felons back onto our streets through lower penalties isn't the answer," Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, a Republican, says in a posting on his web site. Senate Republicans say privatizing prison services such as medical care and transportation can save up to $200 million a year.


"You've got a massive investment in the local community, roads, sewers, to support the facility, jobs...a lot of people work in the prison (and in a) tough economy is this the time to lay off all these people? No, it's horrible, devastating for the community," says Switalski, a Democrat from Roseville, a town across the river from Windsor. He volunteers at a women's prison as a teacher.

"Is that what prisons should be about? It should be about keeping the public safe, about reforming people, not about jobs' programs. You can't separate that. Once you create it, it's going to try to preserve itself."


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )

3 DAYS IN 10 MINUTES  ( Top )

The Vienna NGO Committee organized a global NGO forum on the review of the implementation of goals set by the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 1998. More than 300 NGOs were invited to this Beyond 2008 forum from all regions of the world.


Friends Say She Had to Choose: Go to Prison or Work as an Informant

By Brian Ross And Vic Walter


By Misha Glenny

The war on drugs is a non sequitur - and is equally harmful to both producers and consumers.


Scott Voorhees Show, KFAB News Radio, Omaha, Nebraska. Tony Ryan is with an organization of current and former cops who say it's time to legalize drugs.


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

According to an investigative report by the New Orleans City Business newspaper, Orleans Parish District Attorney Keva Landrum-Johnson is routinely seeking five-to-20 years sentences for minor pot possession offenders.


Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 07/23/08 - Jeremy Scahill

Reports from the Netroots Nation convention: Jeremy Scahill, Cliff Schecter, Jim Hightower, Gloria Littleshield & dozens of voices answering the question: "Can you name the #1 success of the drug war."

Century of Lies - 07/22/08 - Rick Noriega

Tex Rep Rick Noriega running for US Senate + Roger Goodman running for re-election as Wash state rep + Ada Fisher disses Obama's drug use


By Jacob Sullum

In this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Thomas Schweich, a former State Department counternarcotics official, asks, "Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?" Schweich takes 5,500 words to tell his tale of how the good work of brave, committed drug warriors like himself was stymied by "an odd cabal of timorous Europeans, myopic media outlets, corrupt Afghans, blinkered Pentagon officers, politically motivated Democrats and the Taliban." But the short answer to the headline question is yes. A more interesting question, one that Schweich never asks: Why is Afghanistan a narco-state?


A new website launched this week will likely be of interest. The website offers an opportunity to publicly debate (in writing, at least) many of the prohibitionists who refuse to engage in other forums. Already, the website features several back-and-forth debates pertaining to drug policy.


Write A Letter  ( Top )

DEA Agent Does Dallas Wrong. A DrugSense Focus Alert.



By Howard J. Wooldridge

As a Michigan police officer, marijuana use generated zero calls for service during my 18 years on the street. The fact is marijuana prohibition is a cash cow for law enforcement in terms of job security and an excellent way to earn overtime ( going to court for pot cases ).

My colleague Chief Rohmer's support for continued prohibition is curious. He knows that every hour his officers spend searching for and arresting an adult using pot in their own homes means less time for the deadly DUI, child molesters etc. No question that pot prohibition reduces public safety.

Howard J. Wooldridge

Education Specialist, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Washington, DC

Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jul 2008
Source: Metrowest Daily News (MA)


Prohibition: Empowering Gangs In Chicago For 90 Years  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

Raymond Figueroa says he's fighting gangs by selling liquor.

Figueroa, a former judge and Chicago City Alderman, was featured in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week for his efforts to discourage gang activity in his frequently chaotic Humboldt Park neighborhood ( see the story here - ).

Figueroa uses a liquor store he operates as headquarters for his campaign.

The story presented Figueroa as a guy who's trying to bring order to his neighborhood, but it raised questions from critics who wonder how a liquor store helps the community. According to the story, it's not the product, it's the atmosphere Figueora is trying to create in his business. He doesn't allow gang members in the store; he calls police if there is gang trouble; he doesn't allow the "N-word" in the business; he tries to help teens in trouble; and offers cash for those who turn in guns to police.

He is lauded by many for those stands, but then I got to a part of the article that made me question Figueroa's intentions.

According to the story: "Figueroa is asking businesses along the Division Street business corridor, dubbed the 'Paseo Boricua,' to cease selling flavored cigars, which are emptied of tobacco and filled with marijuana or crack cocaine. Figueroa then hopes to present signed petitions to the City Council advocating a citywide ban."

I find it amusing that a guy who profits from liquor sales thinks the world will be a better place if no one could buy cigars to fill with marijuana.

Aside from showing that cannabis prohibition is a total joke ( We can't stop the pot, so let's ban the delivery systems! ), any liquor salesman who supports marijuana paraphernalia prohibition doesn't understand what's really going on in his own community. Indeed, it's easy to understand why liquor sellers want booze to be the only legal intoxicant - he's looking out for his own interests, not the community's interests. Liquor is more damaging to individuals and communities than marijuana, and prohibition is more damaging than legal liquor.

Take cannabis out of the legal equation - start collecting taxes on it instead of wasting police time on it. Let police spend time on violence instead of kids smoking blunts. Then the gangs have no reason to use violence in the cannabis market, just as they have no reason to use violence within the alcohol market. Violence is only a business asset in black markets - in legal markets other ways are found to resolve disputes.

Prohibition is, and has always been, a gang empowerment program. If this were the 1920s, Figueora would be the public enemy, and cannabis smokers would be on the right side of the law. It was the gangbangers of the 1920 who used alcohol prohibition as a ladder to increased influence.

Would Figueroa prefer if the gangs still controlled liquor, or would he prefer a responsible member of the community (like himself) to be in charge of distribution in his neighborhood? I suspect he'd prefer the second option.

Liquor sellers couldn't be responsible members of the community in the 1920s. It makes no sense to insist cannabis sellers be put in the same bind by a law that doesn't work.

Maybe a liquor store can improve the community. But not as long as prohibition is still part of its agenda.

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly and author of How to Inhale the Universe Without Wheezing and other Unconventional Asthma Lessons published by


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