This Just In
(1)Police Raid Berwyn Heights Mayor's Home, Kill His 2 Dogs
(2)California's Pot Law Upheld In Appeals Court
(3)OPED: We Could Keep Drugs Out of Prison If We Wanted To
(4)Thomason Hospital Seeks Fed Aid To Treat Drug War Victims

Hot Off The 'Net
-The Killing Of Rachel Hoffman And The Tragedy That Is Pot Prohibition
-Mexico's Drug War
-Drug Truth Network
-Two Dogs Dead, A Family Traumatized, Another Day In The Drug War
-Tackling Drug Markets And Distribution Networks In The UK
-Legalisation Is A No-Go Area / By Steve Rolles
-Congress Sets Sights On Cannabis Prohibition Laws / Allen St. Pierre
-Paul Armentano On The Dr. Drew Radio Show

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post Staff Writer

A police SWAT team raided the home of the mayor in the Prince George's County town of Berwyn Heights on Tuesday, shooting and killing his two dogs, after he brought in a 32-pound package of marijuana that had been delivered to his doorstep, police said.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was not arrested in the raid, which was carried out about 7 p.m. by the Sheriff's Office SWAT team and county police narcotics officers. Prince George's police spokesman Henry Tippett said yesterday that all the residents of the house -- Calvo, his wife and his mother-in-law -- are "persons of interest" in the case.

The package was addressed to Calvo's wife, Trinity Tomsic, said law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

Tippett said police are working to determine for whom the drugs were meant.

Calvo said yesterday that he did not know how the drugs wound up on his doorstep. He works part time as the mayor and serves as director of expansion for the SEED Foundation, a well-known national nonprofit group that runs urban public boarding schools.




Pubdate: Fri, 01 Aug 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko

A state appeals court upheld California's 12-year-old medical marijuana law Thursday, rejecting two counties' arguments that allowing patients to use the drug with their doctor's approval condones violations of federal narcotics laws.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego dismissed challenges by San Diego and San Bernardino counties, which objected both to the 1996 marijuana initiative and to recent legislation requiring counties to issue identification cards to users of medical pot.

The cards protect their holders from arrest by state or local police for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can enforce its drug laws, which ban marijuana use and cultivation, against patients and their suppliers in California and the 11 other states that have legalized medical marijuana under their own laws.

But in Thursday's ruling, the appeals court said states remain free to decide whether to punish drug users under their own laws.




Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2008
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Mary Dejevsky

There are three phenomena of the British world c.2008 that I find unfathomable to the point of disbelieving fury. The first is the fatalism with which my fellow countrymen have resigned themselves to their losses from the economic downturn. Why are prudent savers not laying siege to the speculators' palaces and smashing the graven images of capitalism?

The second is the persistence of mixed wards even in some of our newest, glitziest hospitals. It is 12 years since Tony Blair -- then Leader of the Opposition -- expressed amazement that such indignity was still possible. Was it, he asked, beyond the wit of the Government and the health administrators to deal with the problem? Oh yes, to their eternal shame, it was.

And the third, right up there with the other two, is the lily-livered acceptance by almost every authority in the land that drugs in prison are an immutable fact of life. It may indeed be, as yesterday's report by a think-tank called the UK Drug Policy Commission concluded bleakly, that the drug trade has remained "extremely resilient" to everything the Government has thrown at it in recent years. But you -- sorry, I -- would have thought that prison is the one point at which the whole sad chain of exploitation and misery could be broken. Is there not here a captive constituency for treatment?

Of course, such a sentiment is itself defeatist. It would be consoling to believe that the country's borders could be hermetically sealed against illegal drugs -- as against illegal bush-meat, black-market firearms and everything else that threatens the public good. But we know that is not possible. Ditto the level of policing that would convince everyone, from kingpins to petty street traders, that they should pack up and leave.

But even if improvements could be made in both these areas -- and I'm sure they could -- there would still be the deserted coves and private airfields; concealed cannabis factories in private houses, and would- be drug mules ready to risk their lives in quest of a pathetically small fortune. And when you consider the figures assembled by the UK Drug Policy Commission, you almost wonder whether it might not be better simply to abandon the field to the traffickers. The value of their illegal trade in Britain is estimated at UKP 5.3bn. The Government currently spends a total of UKP 1.5bn trying to combat it, plus the diverse costs of drug-related crime, for which the most recent estimates -- surely underestimates -- come in at UKP 4bn. The taxpayer thus seems to be spending as much to fight the traffickers as the traffickers are earning. Clearly there is much that cannot be done.




Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2008
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2008 El Paso Times
Author: Erica Molina Johnson

EL PASO - Local officials received assurances from federal agencies Wednesday that there is no coordination between the United States and Mexican governments to transfer patients wounded in Mexico's drug wars to Thomason Hospital.

Thomason CEO Jim Valenti, the hospital's Board of Managers Chairman Ron Acton and County Commissioner Veronica Escobar traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and leaders from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the issue of people injured in Mexico crossing the border to receive treatment at the hospital.

"We've received 24 patients related to the violence and the drug cartel, and this is a disturbing trend," Valenti said.

Reyes arranged for the closed-door meeting in Washington after being contacted by Valenti and others who asked for help in determining how and why these patients are crossing the international border into El Paso.

Valenti said he was grateful Reyes set up the meeting so soon after receiving a letter from hospital officials July 21 asking for assistance from the federal government in understanding and handling the situation.

"I think primarily it was very positive because, number one, it helped connect everyone and I really thank the congressman for having done that," Escobar said. Among the top concerns for local officials was whether El Paso was unique in the crossing of wounded patients into the U.S.

"We received complete assurance that they are discharging their duties uniformly and consistently across the U.S.-Mexico border," Valenti said.





A new study indicates exercise may inhibit drug use. Certainly it must do a better job than jail. More contradictory stories on the state of cocaine supplies in U.S. cities. In Pennsylvania towns, coke is so hard to get, some people can only get one ounce, instead of two or three, according to the Beaver County Times. While that doesn't seem like a huge crisis, a different story out of Pittsburgh suggests that crack is still the most "sought after and abused drug" in the city, and there doesn't seem to be any shortage. Also this week, a report New Jersey's entrance to the twenty-first century in terms of harm reduction policies.


Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Nancy Vendley

Recent published research by Davidson College Associate Professor Mark Smith shows that exercise can help prevent drug addiction. According to recent statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 20 million Americans age 12 and older ( about 8.3 percent of the population ) have used an illicit drug in the past month. The institute has committed $4 million for studies about the effect of exercise on drug use. Smith, a neuroscientist, worked for about two years on the study with three Davidson student research assistants: Karl Schmidt, Jordan Iordanou and Martina Mustroph.

They compared the tendency to self-administer cocaine between two groups of rats. One group lived in cages with a running wheel; the other group had no wheel. During six weeks, the rats in the wheel cages increased their running to about 10 kilometers per day while those without wheels got no exercise at all. Then the rats were connected to an infusion pump that provided cocaine if they pushed a lever in their cage, with an increasing number of pushes each time. They found that the fit rats pushed the lever up to 70 times for the cocaine, and the sedentary rats continued to push the lever for 250 presses. Within the exercising group of rats, the ones that ran the most abandoned the pushing of the lever sooner than other rats.

"We concluded that aerobic exercise reduces the rewarding effects of cocaine, and probably also has protective effects against cocaine abuse," Smith said in a news release. "That shows me that, in the real world, exercise can be an effective intervention in drug abuse prevention and treatment programs."



 (6) 'DRUG DROUGHT'  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: Beaver County Times, The (PA)
Copyright: 2008 Beaver County Times
Author: Bill Vidonic

Less Supply, Higher Cost

Previous cost of an ounce of cocaine: $1,000.

Cost in recent weeks, with the cocaine supply disruption: $1,200 to $1,300.

Source: Beaver County district attorney's office

Mexican Drug War

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed 25,000 soldiers across the country to battle drug gangs, which have responded with bold attacks on the military and police. More than 4,000 people have been killed in turf wars, assassinations and shootouts since Calderon took office in December 2006.

That number is on par with the number of troops killed in the Iraq War over the last five years.

Grocery shoppers these days are paying the same amount of money for a smaller amount of cereal.

Strangely enough, the same can be said for crack cocaine users.

Because of an ongoing drug war in Mexico, Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh and county Detective Capt. Anthony Q. McClure say, the supply of cocaine from Colombia to the United States has been disrupted within the last couple of months.

Dealers are trying to stretch their cocaine supplies further, Berosh and McClure said. That's means there's probably about half the usual amount of the drug in a rock of crack cocaine.

"Our confidential informants are telling us it's dry for the moment," McClure said.

Make no mistake, however: Cocaine hasn't vanished from the streets of Beaver County. The county law officials say other drugs, including marijuana, heroin and OxyContin are still available, as well.

But with the cocaine supply, McClure said, it's being disrupted on the way to cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Youngstown, Ohio, and other areas from which the drug eventually makes its way into Beaver County.

McClure said local buyers once were able to get three or four ounces of cocaine at one time, according to the confidential sources, only an ounce or so is available now.




Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: Times, The (Trenton, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 The Times
Author: George Amick

The state of New Jersey has begun to recognize that drug addiction should be treated primarily as a medical problem, not a crime. Its change in attitude is having some positive effects.

Four cities are taking advantage of hard-won permission from the state to try to stem the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases by making clean syringes available to drug users. Trenton isn't one of the cities, unfortunately, although it has kept open the option to join them later.

The capital is set to benefit, however, from a related shift in state policy that has made more dollars available to help users overcome their addiction. Trenton will be one of four locations for state- funded mobile units that will dispense methadone and suboxone for maintenance treatment and detoxification.

The mobile units have been purchased by the New Jersey Division of Addiction Services at a cost of $250,000 each and will be operated with state grants of $1.2 million a year to each host municipality. They will set up shop in sites that are convenient to substance abusers who have no money or insurance but who want help in breaking the grip of drugs.

The Trenton unit will be run by NHS Human Services, a Pennsylvania- based nonprofit group, and will open its doors later this year, after the City Council has enacted some necessary ordinances. Like the other units, it will contain doctors' offices, computers and lab facilities, a confidential counseling office, a client waiting area and lavatory, and safes for storing medication.




Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2008 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Jill King Greenwood

Twenty years ago, Roy put a crack pipe to his lips, flicked a cigarette lighter and breathed the sweet-smelling combination of powder cocaine and baking soda deep into his lungs.

A lifelong drug user who has struggled with addictions to marijuana, heroin and alcohol since age 10, Roy said it was crack that took over his life. He married and divorced four wives. Only two of his five children speak to him. He lost every job he tried to hold onto, and has been homeless on and off for years.

Today he's broke, financing his habit by scoring crack for other addicts in exchange for a few pieces of rock.

"Crack cocaine is so evil," said Roy, whose last name is not being used to protect his identity as a police informant.

"I've watched it destroy this city, neighborhood by neighborhood, for the past 20 years. I've seen it ruin lives. I've lost everything important in my life because crack mattered more. That's what crack does. It makes you love it more than you love anything else, including your own life."

It was the summer of 1988 when crack cocaine came blowing into Pittsburgh, first popping up in low-income black neighborhoods. By fall, the drug and its effects could be seen in nearly every city neighborhood and had a hold on people from a wide range of backgrounds and lifestyles -- many of whom never touched crack only months before, said city police Chief Nate Harper.

"We knew crack was coming our way, because we were watching it destroy New York, Los Angeles and other cities, and Pittsburgh is usually a few years behind whatever is happening there," said Harper, who was a sergeant in the narcotics unit when the drug surfaced here. "It hit the streets so fast and cut a swath through the city. You could see the destruction it left behind."

Today, crack still holds the top spot as the most abused and sought-after drug in the city, Harper said. The problem isn't isolated to Pittsburgh. Addicts from across Allegheny County and surrounding counties travel into the city to score crack, Harper said. Users have been known to take a bus from another county to buy crack for several addicts, return home and sell it at a higher price, said city police narcotics Sgt. Doug Epler.




Not much new stuff this week, mostly the same old stories from slightly different perspectives.


Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company
Authors: Jeff Coen and Gary Marx

Federal authorities say that when Jesse Guajardo betrayed the Latin Kings, it was a major victory in fight against street crime

Jesse Guajardo choked back tears on the witness stand in federal court as he abandoned his second family once and for all.

He had grown up in the Latin Kings street gang, peddling drugs when he was only 8 and becoming a soldier when he was a young teenager. After an uncle recommended him for membership in 1988, he suffered a beating or "violation" by three Latin Kings to join the gang's ranks.

By 2006, at age 29, he was a chapter leader in the southwest suburbs, commanding two dozen soldiers and making his betrayal of the Latin Kings that much more stunning. He was facing life in prison in a drug case when he decided to cooperate with the government.

"I had no choice," Guajardo told a defense lawyer who called him a traitor at the drug conspiracy trial of his onetime gang boss, Fernando King. "I had to choose to continue to be a Latin King or continue being a father. I didn't ask for this."

Federal authorities call Guajardo's cooperation remarkable and say his testimony was a significant moment in their battle against Chicago's entrenched street gangs. He became one of the highest-ranking Latin Kings to testify against his superiors, in the process offering a rare glimpse into the powerful gang's structure and reach.




Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Hal Brands
Note: Hal Brands is the author of "From Berlin to Baghdad: America's
Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World" and is a doctoral
candidate in history at Yale University.

On June 30, President Bush signed into law an initiative called Plan Merida, a $465 million program designed to help Mexico deal with the unchecked drug trafficking and violence that have recently turned much of the U.S.-Mexican border into a war zone. The initiative is the most recent chapter in the long history of attempts to regulate activity along America's southern frontier. It is bold and ambitious - and it probably won't work.

Plan Merida dwarfs previous U.S. counter-narcotics assistance to Mexico, and the Bush administration has touted the aid package as a major step forward in the fight against the drug trade. As currently designed, however, Plan Merida stands little chance of producing meaningful long-term results. Why? Because at its core, Plan Merida represents the same flawed ideas that have long bedeviled U.S. drug policy. If not modified substantially, this program will go down as simply another failed offensive in the war on drugs.

The trouble with Plan Merida is the same problem that has traditionally plagued U.S. efforts to halt the flow of illegal narcotics from Latin America: It overemphasizes security and military issues to the exclusion of social and economic questions. The $465 million devoted to Plan Merida is slanted heavily toward Mexico's military and security forces, with other initiatives - most notably economic development and the protection of human rights - meriting only a small fraction of American aid.

This approach is certainly understandable; drug-related violence has claimed more than 1,500 lives in Mexico over the last two years, and well-armed gangs like Los Zetas are ruthlessly terrorizing Nuevo Laredo and other border communities.




Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jul 2008
Source: Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
Copyright: 2008 The Blade
Author: Jennifer Feehan, Blade Staff Writer

Panel of 8 Whites to Weigh Case With Racial Overtones

LIMA, Ohio -- After a full day of questioning, a jury of four white men and four white women was seated yesterday to decide the fate of a Lima police sergeant charged with shooting a biracial woman and her young son during a drug raid.

Joseph Chavalia, 52, is charged with negligent homicide stemming from the Jan. 4 death of Tarika Wilson, 26, and negligent assault for the wounding of 1-year-old Sincere Wilson. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Attorneys representing Sergeant Chavalia had asked that the 30-year police veteran's trial be moved out of town due to extensive media coverage the case attracted -- and the community reaction that followed. Wilson was biracial; Sergeant Chavalia is white.

In the aftermath of the shooting, some blacks and whites complained they did not trust Lima police, and some accused police of unfairly targeting African-Americans. Blacks make up 26.4 percent of the city's population of 40,081 people.




Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: Winona Daily News (MN)
Copyright: 2008 Winona Daily News
Author: Kevin Behr

A 16-year-old girl nearly died at the hands of three rapists in a West End apartment on Nov. 4, 2004.

Sue "Acorn" Hang, 21, used an empty beer can to sexually assault the unconscious teen and was sentenced to 8 3/4 years in prison.

Three years later, on the other end of town, Carl Dickalo Gipson, 33, sold seven grams of cocaine -- a little more than the weight of a U.S. nickel -- to a police informant. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

How does a drug dealer receive nearly the same sentence as a brutal rapist?

Minnesota judges are bound by a Legislature-mandated sentencing guidelines developed in the late 1970s.

Some herald the guidelines as a way to administer similar sentences to like offenders. Others, including some Winona judges, express a kind of claustrophobia regarding the guidelines

and want more leeway to ensure that the punishments fit the crimes.

The guidelines are subject to regular amendments and revisions, but the road to widespread change is difficult. Nevertheless, judges, prosecutors and public defenders say the same thing: Something needs to change.



It's the season for search and destroy operations involving local, state and federal law enforcement agencies taking to the skies to spot and uproot cannabis plants, or a cannabis plant, as the case may be. The statistics read like Vietnam War body counts, but the cops are confident they are making progress because cultivators are moving indoors.

The ONDCP is still trying to convince experienced parents that the cannabis in their children's schools is way better than the schwag hippies smoked at Woodstock. A disturbing trend that the ONDCP attributes to cultivators moving indoors.

Speaking of cause and effect, the ONDCP continues to completely misinterpret the relationship between cannabis, mental health, self-medication and economic substitution theory.

It is always nice to see reformers quoted in the press. Last week our friends gearing up for the Seattle Hempfest enjoyed a rare opportunity to reiterate the painfully obvious.


Pubdate: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2008 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Martha Quillin

Success of aerial spotting seems to be driving the cultivation of pot indoors, officials say

ALERT - From April to October, while North Carolina farmers are planting, tending and harvesting their crops, hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state are engaged in the annual ritual of weed-pulling.

The Marijuana Eradication Program is a joint effort that uses federal funds, state-owned aircraft and county sheriff's officers to find and destroy marijuana plants. After more than three decades, investigators say, the program has helped bring about a change in the illicit industry: Local growers have begun to move their operations indoors, out of the sight of aerial spotters, leaving only tiny plots for pilots to search for in the verdant landscape.

When spotters do find a large crop, usually divided into parcels over several acres where the landowners are unaware of their presence, investigators think the plants are often being tended as part of an organized criminal effort.


Huge effort questioned

After news of the big Harnett County bust in June traveled across the country, Harnett Sheriff Larry Rollins says, he was inundated with calls and e-mail from people questioning the value of putting so many resources to work on investigations that rarely result in arrests. When charges are made, they are usually for manufacturing or trafficking marijuana. Even then, police say, the courts treat the charges lightly.

The odds played out better in Johnston County when the spotters came there last week, with investigators making arrests in two of the three cases where pilots found marijuana growing. In one, Sheriff's Capt. Alex Fish said, spotters found seven plants in a man's vegetable garden. In another, they found one plant in a pot on a man's back porch.

"Bless his heart," Fish said. "It's kind of hard to deny the marijuana plant on your back doorstep."




Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
Copyright: 2008 Poughkeepsie Journal
Author: Christine Pizzuti

Agency Warns About Drug's 'Harmless' Image

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is warning baby boomers the marijuana their children could be smoking is not the same as the drug of their generation.

Studies by the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project found the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana seized throughout the country have more than doubled since the 1960s.

"It's very serious. Marijuana is a huge blind spot among many Americans, particularly baby boomer parents," Rafael Lemaitre, the agency's deputy press secretary, said. "Many parents grew up in the '60s and '70s, where the image of the drug was that of a harmless drug, and clearly, things have changed."

Potency has doubled since the mid-'80s. According to the latest data on seized marijuana samples, the average amount of THC has reached a new high of 9.6 percent, compared to an average of a little less than 4 percent in 1983, the office reported.

"We like to call it 'Pot 2.0' because it reflects the dramatic increases in potency," Lemaitre said. "It's not that it creates a different kind of high. We're seeing dramatic changes in consequences of youth."


"The techniques for marijuana growing are so sophisticated now," Tasciotti said. "They grow hydroponically, which is much stronger, isolate the seeds and do quite a bit of genetic engineering."




Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jul 2008
Source: Westport News (CT)
Copyright: 2008 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Author: Michael C. Juliano

Recent studies show that marijuana use amongst teens is on the decline, yet it is still in widespread use and their number-one drug of choice.

A report released in May by the White House Office of National Drug Policy states that although marijuana use among teens has dropped by 25 percent since 2001, more teens use marijuana than all other illicit drugs combined. The study also states that teens are using marijuana to "self-medicate" to deal with depression, thus furthering and worsening the depression.

Prolonged use can lead to schizophrenia, anxiety and even suicide, according to the report.

"Depressed teens are also almost twice as likely to have used illicit drugs as non-depressed teens," the study states. "They are also more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana."

The full report, "Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows 'Self-Medicating' Could Actually Make Things Worse," may be read at

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) 2008 "Monitoring the Future" survey, marijuana use by 10th- and 12th-graders remained steady, but use by eighth-graders fell from 11.7 percent in 2006 to 10.3 percent in 2007, and is down from its 1996 peak of 18.3 percent.

"In the past decade, there has been a slow downward trend in overall illicit drug use driven by gradual declines in marijuana smoking," the survey states.

The survey, which may be viewed at, showed, however, that the abuse of prescription drugs amongst teens remains high.



 (16) THE CASE FOR POT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Fri, 1 Aug 2008
Source: Seattle (WA)
Copyright: 2008 Tiger Oak Publications
Author: Yemaya Maurer

What do a Seattle cop, an Edmonds travel writer and the ACLU have in common? They all want to legalize marijuana, and not just for medical purposes. As Seattle's annual Hempfest returns to Myrtle Edward Park this month, these odd bedfellows are putting Seattle at the center of a national conversation about marijuana reform

Hempfest: August 2006. On the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle's Myrtle Edwards Park, a hard rock band wraps up its set. Amid vendors hawking colorful bongs, hemp knapsacks and Love Your Mother bumper stickers, the crowd of 20- and 30-somethings applauds.

As the last strains of guitar music drift upward into the air, mixing with plumes of marijuana smoke, a broad-shouldered man with short, white hair pushes through the crowd.

In bold print, the back of his T-shirt reads: cops say legalize drugs. ask me why. When he takes the stage and turns around, it's clear why he's prompting the question: This is Seattle's former police chief Norm Stamper.

While Stamper isn't scheduled to appear at this year's Hempfest, at the event two years ago he addressed the crowd on an issue that he continues to speak out on: the legalization of marijuana.

So how does a cop go from busting people for pot to advocating its decriminalization?

Stamper recently recounted a story from his rookie year as a cop when he arrested a 19-year-old for marijuana possession, handcuffed him, put him in the back of his squad car and started driving toward the station. As he looked at his charge in the rear-view mirror, he realized he'd just arrested a young man who hadn't been hurting anybody. "I could have been doing real police work," Stamper says. "I could have been intervening in domestic violence.




The crime rate in Canada has been falling, but never mind the Canadian government's own statistics. There's a "tough on crime" agenda to be followed: more people must be jailed for drugs, say the ruling minority Conservatives led by Stephen Harper. The Toronto Star newspaper this week highlights the disconnect between falling crime ("Canada's crime rate has dropped more than 25 per cent in the last 15 years"), and rising "law and order" demagoguery. In an Ottawa Citizen newspaper article last week ("Statistics Only Count When They Prove Your Point"), Dan Gardner lays out a recipe politicians all too often use to ratchet up police power. When crime is falling, it is because government policies are working. When crime is rising, it is because more government is needed. Heads, government gets more power; tails, you lose traditional rights.

It is time to treat Afghan poppy farmers like poppy farmers in Turkey and India, says Senlis council representative Almas Bawar Zakhilwal. In a Montreal Gazette article this week, Zakhilwal asks why not do in Afghanistan what is done in India and Turkey (and merry old England too, he might have added): the government simply buys the poppies from farmers, and makes needed medicines from them. U.S. interests there (DynCorp International, U.S. State Department) don't like that idea. "Billions have been spent with no success," noted Zakhilwal. Expect poppy eradication in Afghanistan to enjoy the same success as coca eradication in Colombia.

An Arizona Republic article last week let slip the drug war in Mexico has been an even bigger resounding failure than previously thought. The price of a gram of cocaine has plummeted to the equivalent of $19. "Before, cocaine was expensive here. Now, you can get it for practically nothing," lamented one medical official in Mexico. Presidente Calderon's Washington-based, prohibition-fueled "offensive against the four main drug cartels" resulted in "a hydra - a monster of many heads.. Now there are 50 mini-cartels, and people have started claiming little pieces of the market for themselves," noted another researcher.

And from the Daily Record newspaper in the U.K. this week we learn that, not only is heroin abundantly available inside of U.K. prisons, it is "half the price" of heroin outside of prison walls.


Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jul 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Bruce Campion-Smith

OTTAWA-The crime rate in Canada remains "unacceptably high" and the federal Conservatives are "just getting started" on their measures to tackle it, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says.

The justice minister yesterday defended the Tories' move to mandatory sentences, saying it's vital to send a message to criminals involved in drugs and guns. And he made clear that the Conservatives intend to take further action to tackle crime in the country.

The Conservatives campaigned on a law-and-order agenda in the last election and in recent months have implemented legislation dictating longer minimum sentences for some drug and gun crimes.

A recent Star series, titled Crime and Punishment, raised questions about the effectiveness of such sentences. The series profiled several U.S. jurisdictions, suggesting that mandatory minimums result in prison overcrowding and drive correctional costs up, but provide little deterrence to would-be criminals.


Yesterday, Nicholson made no apologies for his government's crime reforms. "Crime rates are unacceptably high in Canada and we are prepared to do something about it," Nicholson said after touring a youth detention centre in Ottawa.


While Canada's crime rate has dropped more than 25 per cent in the last 15 years, Nicholson said his government is only responding to public demand to do more.

"People say `violent youth crime is stable.' Well, I can tell you that is unacceptable to Canadians and we have indicated to Canadians that we are prepared to do something about it," he said. "We don't govern by statistics in our government. We're governing by what we told and promised Canadians."

The federal Liberals said yesterday that crime reforms "should be based on strong evidence - not ideology" and accused the Tories of putting partisan politics ahead of the safety of Canadians.




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jul 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen

As a long-time student of crime policy, I didn't predict that national crime statistics released last week would show a substantial drop in most categories of crime in most parts of the country.

Predicting long-term crime trends is hard. Predicting year-to-year variations is pretty much impossible.

But when the news broke, I did predict the reactions. That's dead easy. Follow three basic rules and you can't go wrong.

. Rule No. 1: Responsibility for crime trends depends entirely on whether those trends are good or bad.

When national crime stats decline, everyone rushes to take credit. The mayor boasts his new initiative is working exactly as he said it would. The police chief proudly declares that the strategy he implemented is a great success. Social service agencies insist their new programs are responsible.


If statistics show crime is rising, the statistics are a perfectly accurate reflection of the frightening reality.

If they suggest crime is falling, they are so transparently flawed that only fools, Liberals and criminologists would believe them.

This rule explains Prime Minister Stephen Harper's complicated relationship with crime data.


"Unfortunately," he noted, "people's perceptions are often created around a single incident or a series of incidents over a short period of time."

It was the smartest thing anyone said all week.



Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jul 2008
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Kevin Dougherty, The Gazette

Almas Bawar Zakhilwal, an Afghani living in Canada, says the poppy eradication program in his country is a failure and stepping it up would only fuel the war. Canadian troops are not part of the poppy eradication program; it has been contracted out to DynCorp International, an American company, which also provides bodyguards for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

"Billions have been spent with no success," Zakhilwal said in a telephone interview. Zakhilwal is Canadian representative of the Senlis Council, a Paris-based organization which advocates licensing poppy production to make medical morphine.

Kakhilwal noted that the United States already has a "poppy for medicine" program to buy morphine from poppies grown in India and Turkey.

"So why not try it in Afghanistan?" he asked, noting that Liberal leader Stephane Dion and the Green Party agree.




Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2008
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2008 The Arizona Republic
Author: Chris Hawley


The problem is not just along the border, addiction experts say. In the Mexico City area, cocaine and crack are beginning to displace marijuana and inhalants.

"Before, cocaine was expensive here. Now, you can get it for practically nothing," said Irving Aguilar, medical director at the Clinicas Claider treatment center.

A gram of cocaine now sells in central Mexico for 200 pesos, or about $19, he said. Crack is $9.50 a rock and getting cheaper.


In December 2006, President Calderon launched an offensive against the four main drug cartels, sending 20,000 troops to patrol border cities, killing or arresting kingpins and extraditing suspects to the United States.

With their chiefs gone, discipline has broken down within the cartels. Former lieutenants want their own side businesses and have begun peddling drugs locally, said Arturo Arango, a researcher with the Citizens' Institute for Studies on Crime.

"You've got a hydra - a monster of many heads - now," Arango said. "Now there are 50 mini-cartels, and people have started claiming little pieces of the market for themselves."




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jul 2008
Source: Daily Record (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd.

A DRUG dealer yesterday claimed he bought heroin inside a prison for half the price he would have paid for it on the street.

Andrew Crawley was caught dealing after warders became suspicious of the large queue of inmates trailing in and out of his cell.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Paul Armentano

Police caught Hoffman with pot but promised to drop charges if she agreed to go undercover in a drug bust. She was killed soon afterward.


Inside USA travels to Mexico to look at the country's drug war and to examine the role the U.S. is playing in it.

1) 2)


Cultural Baggage Radio Show- 07/30/08 - Marie Gottschalk

Marie Gottschalk, U of Penn Professor & author of "The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration"

Century of Lies - 07/29/08 - Arthur Burnett

Judge Arthur Burnett, director of National African American Drug Policy Coalition & Jay Rorty, Deputy Director of ACLU Drug Law Reform Project


David Borden, Drug War Chronicle



A review of the recent literature

UK Drug Policy Commission


A report on drug policy, like so many before it, fails to recognise the simple fact that prohibition is actually part of the problem.

By Steve Rolles


By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director


Dr. Drew welcomes Musician Toby Keith to talk about his new film "Beer For My Horses." Then, he talks to Deputy Director of NORML, Paul Armentano. Paul comes on 19 minutes in (following Toby Keith) and discusses HR 5843 and the futility of government efforts to control what substances people put in their bodies.


Write A Letter  ( Top )

Insite Works. A DrugSense Focus Alert.



By Kirk Muse

I'm writing about Jill Watkins' not-so-thoughtful letter defending the Drug Enforcement Administration ( "Drugs, war and the DEA," July 20.

The size and number of drug busts are not a sign of success but rather of failure. Success would be indicated by smaller and less frequent drug busts. Such is not the case.

The only way to achieve victory in the so-called drug war is to re-legalize all of our now illegal drugs so they can be sold in licensed, regulated and taxed businesses.

Victory is not really the goal of the drug war. Victory in the drug war would mean that the drug war bureaucracy is out of business.

Victory in the drug war would mean that our robust prison building industry would come to a screeching halt.

Victory in the drug war would mean that thousands of so-called drug warriors would be looking for a job or working at quickie marts.

Kirk Muse Mesa, Ariz.

Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)


California And The Repeal Of Prohibition  ( Top )

By David J. Hanson

Seventy-five years ago this month, California ratified the 21st Amendment that repealed national prohibition, and it did so with a resounding three-to-one majority.

Ironically, California had largely welcomed the establishment of national prohibition in 1920. Temperance sentiment had long been strong in the state. It had elected the only Prohibition Party member of Congress and had given the Prohibition Party's presidential candidate the largest popular vote in history.

Californians widely believed that national prohibition would improve health, increase safety, reduce crime, improve the economy and raise public morality. Experience would prove them wrong.

Prohibition didn't decrease drinking. The Anti-Saloon League ranked San Francisco second only to New York as the wettest city in the country. The New York Times commissioned surveys and reported that prohibition had not reduced the quantity, but only the quality of alcohol consumed in Los Angeles County. Arrests for drunkenness climbed steadily during Prohibition.

The State Prohibition Commissioner reported that hair tonics and other products containing alcohol accounted for one-half of the drunkenness in the state. Even worse, bootleg alcohol frequently contained creosote, lead and embalming fluid. Some consumers were paralyzed, blinded and even killed by it.

The number of alcohol deaths jumped from 69 to 418 in just five years during Prohibition.

A state senator declared California a "bootlegger's paradise" and speakeasies mushroomed in every city and town. Their operation required that law enforcement officials be bribed and some departments were completely corrupted by the lure of easy money.

The federal director of prohibition enforcement for Northern California resigned after he was indicted for embezzling alcohol for his own consumption. When not corrupt, enforcement agents were generally ignorant of constitutional protections limiting search and seizures, complained a U.S. attorney. Police in Los Angeles and elsewhere entered homes without search warrants. Property was frequently destroyed and innocent citizens assaulted by the very people who were paid to protect them.

Prohibition made formerly legal activities illegal and made ordinary citizens into criminals. Consequently, respect for law and societal institutions declined, often openly. In 1928, a Los Angeles jury consumed the evidence against a bootlegger on trial, who had to be released for lack of evidence.

Prohibition deprived the state of alcohol tax revenues at the very time crime was mounting and enforcement expenses were increasing.

As the situation caused by prohibition steadily deteriorated, Californians increasingly came to the conclusion that "the cure was worse than the disease." Prohibition didn't reduce drinking, but simply made it much more dangerous to life and health; didn't reduce crime, but increased it; didn't increase prosperity (except for bootleggers and organized criminals); didn't improve public morality, but directly led to its rapid deterioration.

As the state marks this historic 75th anniversary of prohibition repeal, raise a toast to those sensible citizens who took a stand against one of the biggest policy debacles in American history; and, let's hope California continues its push into the 21st century by abolishing the last remaining vestiges of the failed experiment in social engineering that was prohibition.

David J. Hanson is an emeritus professor of the State University of New York. He is a longtime alcohol researcher and amateur historian. He lives in chapel Hill, North Carolina. This piece originally appeared in the Eureka Reporter.


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NOTICE:  ( Top )

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