This Just In
(1)In Drug Trial, Sharply Differing Portraits of Afghan With Ties To The Taliban
(2)Alleging Coup Plot, Chavez Ousts U.S. Envoy
(3)80% of Pot Crop Invades Parkland
(4)Alameda County Sheriff's Office Nearing a Total of 30,000 Pot Plants Seized This Year

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 12 Sep 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Benjamin Weiser

In the trial of Haji Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan man charged with running an international drug ring, there was little disagreement on Thursday over some basic facts.

In opening arguments before the jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan, a prosecutor and a defense lawyer both depicted Mr. Noorzai as a powerful tribal leader in Afghanistan who had developed close ties with the ruling Taliban before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He controlled vast tracts of land and employed hundreds of laborers, and had his own police force and courts.



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Sep 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Simon Romero

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said Thursday that he was expelling the American ambassador, Patrick Duddy, giving him 72 hours to leave the country. Mr. Chavez took this step after he said his government had discovered an American-supported plot by military officers to topple him.

He also recalled his ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, and explained his decision by expressing solidarity with Bolivia's embattled president, Evo Morales, who on Wednesday expelled the American ambassador there, Philip S. Goldberg, accusing him of supporting rebellious groups in eastern Bolivia..



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Sep 2008
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Judy Keen, USA TODAY

Busting 'Bad Characters' Risky, Strains U.S. Funds

CHICAGO -- Mexican drug cartels are stepping up marijuana cultivation in U.S. national parks and on other public land, endangering visitors and damaging the environment, law enforcement and National Park Service officials say.

John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says 75%-80% of marijuana grown outdoors is on state or federal land. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says there were more than 4.8 million marijuana-plant seizures at outdoor sites in 2006.



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Sep 2008
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 ANG Newspapers
Author: Gideon Rubin, The Daily Review

Before this year, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office had never seized more than 10,000 marijuana plants in one year.

The department now stands near the brink of hitting an all-time high of 30,000 seized plants. Two recent related busts pushed the total to 26,376 so far this year.

On Sept. 5, deputies seized 1,790 plants from a heavily wooded location in Southern Alameda County near the Calaveras watershed. The seized plants had an estimated street value of $5.3 million, said Sgt. Shawn Peterson, who heads the sheriff's special investigations unit.

A week earlier, deputies seized 1,167 plants from a location less than 400 yards away.




Some conflicts and contradictions over drug policy this week. The U.S. Sentencing Commission may soon be at odds, again, with the U.S. Justice Department over suggested alternatives to incarceration. A columnist noted the total lack of leadership and even discussion from presidential candidates regarding one of the biggest issues faced by the country. Now that several states have outlawed Salvia Divinorum, hopes for medical research become further diminished. And, despite what you hear about that goal of drug-free schools in America, young people are being bombarded with messages to use drugs from sources that somehow fail to draw the wrath of drug warriors.


Pubdate: Sat, 6 Sep 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Gary Fields

WASHINGTON -- The panel that sets sentencing guidelines for federal courts plans to focus on developing alternatives to incarceration, setting up a possible clash with the Justice Department.

Exactly what the U.S. Sentencing Commission might recommend isn't clear. Possible models include bodies such as drug courts, which place offenders in treatment instead of prison. The panel's intention, which it mentioned in a filing in the Federal Register, could provide an impetus for cash-strapped states to follow suit.

Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said the department is hopeful about the use of monitoring technologies and other strategies, but "we do not believe the use of alternatives should be expanded without further rigorous research showing their effectiveness in promoting public safety." The commission, created in 1984, is made up of seven presidential appointees who are confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel promulgates sentencing recommendations that become law automatically unless Congress votes to reject them.

More than two million people are in prison in the U.S., including more than 200,000 in the federal system, both record highs. Prisons are responsible for some of the largest increases in state spending. According to National Association of State Budget Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax revenue on corrections last year, compared with $10.6 billion in 1987. The commission and Congress have been inching toward such a move in recent years. In 2007, a commission guideline eased sentences handed down to crack cocaine defendants; then, over the objections of the Justice Department, the commission made the change retroactive. Earlier this year, Congress passed the Second Chance Act, which focuses on helping prisoners successfully re-enter society. This summer, the commission hosted a two-day symposium on alternatives to prison.

"We're going to be looking at what might fit at the starting point, before somebody is sent to prison," said District Court Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, who is chairman of the commission. Mr. Hinojosa said the commission will likely proceed cautiously, with considerations of public safety being paramount. Advocates for the idea say the panel's planned consideration is a significant step. "If the commissioners are creating materials and making recommendations to Congress that we should expand alternatives to incarceration in the federal system, that will have a big impact," said Kara Gotsch, advocacy director for the Sentencing Project, a Washington research and advocacy group for criminal-justice policy.

Mary Price, general counsel of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a Washington, D.C.-based sentencing advocacy group, said it became clear the commission was turning its attention this way when it hosted the symposium and brought in local, state and federal criminal-justice practitioners from across the country to talk about what they have been doing to ease prison overcrowding and cut correction expenses.




Pubdate: Mon, 8 Sep 2008
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Writers Group
Author: Neal Peirce

Will America's ill-starred "war on drugs" and its expanding prison culture make it into the presidential campaign?

Standard wisdom says "no way."

We may have the world's highest rate of incarceration - with only 5 percent of global population, 25 percent of prisoners worldwide. We may be throwing hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders, many barely of age, behind bars - one reason a stunning one out of every 100 Americans is now imprisoned. We may have created a huge "prison-industrial complex" of prison builders, contractors and swollen criminal justice bureaucracies.

Costs Affecting Other Needs

Federal, state and local outlays for law enforcement and incarceration are costing, according to a Senate committee estimate, a stunning $200 billion annually, siphoning off funds from enterprises that actually build our future: universities, schools, health, infrastructure.

We are reaping the whirlwind of "get tough" on crime statutes ranging from "three strikes you're in" to mandatory sentences to reincarcerating recent prisoners for minor parole violations. And every year we're seeing hundreds of thousands of convicts leave prison with scant chances of being employed, no right to vote, no access to public housing, high levels of addiction, illiteracy and mental illness. Overwhelmed by the odds against them, at least 50 percent get rearrested within two years.

A serious set of problems, a shadow over our national future? No doubt. But do our politicians talk much about alternatives? No way - they typically find it too risky to be attacked as "soft on crime."




Pubdate: Tue, 9 Sep 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Kevin Sack and Brent McDonald

DALLAS -- With a friend videotaping, 27-year-old Christopher Lenzini of Dallas took a hit of Salvia divinorum, regarded as the world's most potent hallucinogenic herb, and soon began to imagine, he said, that he was in a boat with little green men. Mr. Lenzini quickly collapsed to the floor and dissolved into convulsive laughter.

When he posted the video on YouTube this summer, friends could not get enough. "It's just funny to see a friend act like a total idiot," he said, "so everybody loved it."

Until a decade ago, the use of salvia was largely limited to those seeking revelation under the tutelage of Mazatec shamans in its native Oaxaca, Mexico.

Today, this mind-altering member of the mint family is broadly available for lawful sale online and in head shops across the United States.

Though older Americans typically have never heard of salvia, the psychoactive sage has become something of a phenomenon among this country's thrill-seeking youth.

More than 5,000 YouTube videos -- equal parts "Jackass" and "Up in Smoke" -- document their journeys into rubber-legged incoherence.

Some of the videos have been viewed half a million times.

Yet these very images that have helped popularize salvia may also hasten its demise and undermine the promising research into its possible medical uses.

Pharmacologists who believe salvia could open new frontiers for the treatment of addiction, depression and pain fear that its criminalization would make it burdensome to obtain and store the plant, and difficult to gain government permission for tests on human subjects. In state after state, however, including here in Texas, the YouTube videos have become Exhibit A in legislative efforts to regulate salvia. This year, Florida made possession or sale a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. California took a gentler approach by making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute to minors.




Pubdate: Tue, 09 Sep 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Francesca Lunzer Kritz

Some Messages Help, Others Are Troubling

Here's a multiple-choice question for parents of tweens and teens.

You're monitoring your child's cellphone and come across a text message encouraging her to try a prescription drug. Could the message be coming from:

A. a drugmaker trolling for a new customer.

B. an adolescent friend urging a raid on your medicine cabinet for a "pharm" party.

C. a trusted physician, offering a reminder to the 25 percent of teenagers who take a daily prescription for conditions ranging from allergies to cancer.

D. any one of the above.

The answer? D. These days, messages aimed at drawing teens' attention to drugs are being televised, e-mailed, texted and even downloaded with music every day.

"These new media choices create a buzz and certainly a perception of a rising trend toward targeting teens," says Jim Joseph, executive vice president of Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Health+Wellness, a Manhattan advertising agency.




Many sad stories this week from courtrooms where justice hasn't been served yet.


Pubdate: Sat, 6 Sep 2008
Source: Lake County Record-Bee (Lakeport, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Record-Bee
Author: Tiffany Revelle, Staff reporter

Faces 10 Years to Life in State Prison

LAKE COUNTY -- A jury convicted Upper Lake resident Charles "Eddy" Lepp Thursday of cultivating and possessing more than 1,000 marijuana plants with the intent to distribute them, according to U.S. District Court, Northern California District records.

Lepp faces 10 years to life in state prison, according to his San Francisco defense attorney Michael Hinckley. Federal agents and Lake County Sheriff's Department officials raided Lepp's 20-acre garden in August 2004 and seized more than 32,000 plants. The incident spurred a legal battle, with Lepp claiming the marijuana was to be used for religious and medical purposes.

"As long as the state and federal governments are in conflict on the issue of medical marijuana, regrettable consequences like Eddy going to occur again," Hinckley said Friday.

Hinckley said even though the 2004 search was deemed by the court to be improper, the fact that Lepp's marijuana crop was across Highway 20 from an open strawberry field meant he could still be prosecuted for possessing the marijuana.

A 2005 United States Supreme Court ruling upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute marijuana growers, despite the passage of California's Compassionate Use Act, which says marijuana can be grown and used for medical purposes.

Hinckley said his defense strategy was two-fold. The 2005 Supreme Court ruling struck down the first, which was that Lepp's actions were legal under the Compassionate Use Act. The second strategy was that Lepp grew the marijuana on behalf of church members, not for personal use.

Lepp said in a prior interview that he is a Rastafarian and ordained minister of the Universal Church of Life. He said he makes plots of ground available to members of his church who want to grow marijuana for medical use.




Pubdate: Fri, 05 Sep 2008
Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)
Copyright: 2008 Arizona Daily Star
Author: Stephanie Innes

The founders of an Arizona church that deifies marijuana have pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and are now each facing up to 20 years in prison.

But Dan and Mary Quaintance, founders of the Church of Cognizance, remain confident that they will not end up behind bars. Although sentencing in federal court is set to take place within the next 75 days, the Quaintances are confident an appeal will keep them out of prison.

The couple on Aug. 18 pleaded guilty to two counts relating to their 2006 federal arrest - one count of conspiracy with intent to distribute 200 pounds or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; and one count of possession with the intent to distribute 100 pounds or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, as well as aiding and abetting.

The sentence will depend on the discretion of the judge, said Dan Quaintance's lawyer, Jerry Daniel Herrera.

Dan Quaintance believes freedom of religion will prevail, and predicts the case could go as far as the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It was tough to plead guilty, but really we were just pleading to what we said we did. There is no doubt we had marijuana with us," he said.

"We think ultimately the courts will see that we are just people using marijuana for our religion. It's the First Amendment. We think we've got a pretty good case."




Pubdate: Mon, 08 Sep 2008
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2008 Austin American-Statesman
Author: Chuck Lindell

For the mother who made a promise she couldn't keep, the reckoning arrives at 10:50 a.m. in a Travis County courtroom.

Papers relinquishing her parental rights are ready to sign, but letting go of her 2-year-old daughter is proving to be too much. Tears flow down both cheeks and onto her blouse. Words catch in her throat.

But for H, there's no way out. She promised to give up her daughter if her drug test came back dirty. It did.

"I don't understand how cocaine got into my system," she says in a quivering voice. "I don't have a drug problem."

"That's not what the evidence shows," Judge Rhonda Hurley snaps.

H is in court for a permanency hearing, held six and 10 months after Child Protective Services removes a child from the home. They are the last mandatory hearings following seizure of a child, and they're meant to steer each case toward a final solution -- family reunification or separation.

As always on the CPS docket, a deadline is pressing. Courts have one year to resolve each CPS case, and by the permanency hearings, time is critical.

For months, H has been skipping drug treatment and ducking calls from her CPS caseworker -- lapses that put her at risk of losing her daughter.

So she made a deal. If she could pass a hair follicle test, which detects long-term drug use, she would get a six-month extension on her case and more time to succeed in drug treatment. Fail, and she gives up her child.




Pubdate: Mon, 8 Sep 2008
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Modesto Bee
Author: Susan Herendeen

Marijuana Dispensary Case Jurors Regret Voting Guilty; Lawyers Want New Hearing

Buyer's remorse from two of 12 jurors is not enough to toss out guilty verdicts that could send two men who ran a Modesto-based medical marijuana dispensary to prison for decades or even life.

So attorneys who want to win a new trial for Ricardo Ruiz Montes and Luke Scarmazzo are taking a different approach, arguing that jurors were unduly influenced by a San Francisco Chronicle story about pot clubs that was published during their deliberations.

The lawyers are backed by Juror No. 3, Craig Will of Twain Harte, and Juror No. 5, Larry Silva of Tollhouse, east of Fresno. They said they would not have convicted Montes and Scarmazzo of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise had they realized the felony carries a mandatory prison sentence of 20 years to life.

In a declaration filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Will said he intended to find the men not guilty until he read a summary of a news story that said future administrations likely would not prosecute dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana for medical uses.

"I then decided to find the defendants guilty, since it appeared as though this wasn't a serious crime," Will told the court.

In a companion declaration, Silva said Will's mention of the news story prompted him to change his vote as well.

"I did not think that this was a serious case and decided to find the defendants guilty, even though I had doubts about both defendants' guilt in this matter," Silva told the court.




Pubdate: Wed, 10 Sep 2008
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Anthony Cormier

SARASOTA - A Sarasota man who said he was strip-searched outside an apartment complex in front of at least a dozen people, including children, has filed a complaint against the Sarasota Police Department sergeant who conducted the search.

Barry Mitchell said he was humiliated last week when Sgt. Joseph Stiff, wearing a latex glove, pulled back Mitchell's boxer shorts and ran his hand along Mitchell's buttocks, touching his anus.

"It was the most embarrassing thing in my life," Mitchell, 21, said. He filed the complaint Monday.

Florida law prohibits strip searches in public. Such searches are supposed to occur in private and no one other than law enforcement officers is allowed to be present. In most cases, experts say, police take drug suspects to jail or an interrogation room to conduct the search.

Public strip searches also violate police policy, which says they should not be conducted outside detention or holding facilities except under "extraordinary circumstances."

"There's no way you should be doing this on the side of the road," said Charlie Britt, a Bradenton attorney and former narcotics detective.

A police spokesman, Capt. Stan Duncan, said the department will not comment on Mitchell's complaint because it is part of an ongoing internal investigation.




Researchers around the world are simultaneously rediscovering the anti-bacterial properties of several compounds found in cannabis, including THC.

A judge in Ireland recognized that cannabinoid metabolites in urine are not sufficient evidence of impairment.

The Canadian government has called a snap election for October. Canadian activists hope to make cannabis law reform an election issue.

Authorities in Australia have succeeded in shutting down the Nimbin HEMP Bar and Hemp Museum by threatening landlords.


Pubdate: Sun, 7 Sep 2008
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2008
Author: Henry Fountain

Marijuana may be something of a wonder drug -- though perhaps not in the way you might think.

Researchers in Italy and Britain have found that the main active ingredient in marijuana -- tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC -- and related compounds show promise as antibacterial agents, particularly against microbial strains that are already resistant to several classes of drugs.

It has been known for decades that Cannabis sativa has antibacterial properties. Experiments in the 1950s tested various marijuana preparations against skin and other infections, but researchers at the time had little understanding of marijuana's chemical makeup.

The current research, by Giovanni Appendino of the University of the Eastern Piedmont and colleagues and published in The Journal of Natural Products, looked at the antibacterial activity of the five most common cannabinoids. All were found effective against several common multi-resistant bacterial strains, although, perhaps understandably, the researchers suggested that the nonpsychotropic cannabinoids might prove more promising for eventual use.




Pubdate: Sat, 06 Sep 2008
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2008 The Irish Times
Author: Paddy Clancy
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)

THE ROAD Safety Medical Bureau was criticised yesterday by a judge for failing to test for the level of drug intoxication in a driver arrested by gardai. Ballyshannon District Court, Co Donegal, was told that a breath-test for alcohol on a young driver, Peter Gillen, proved negative.

But Garda Sean Flynn still had suspicions about the reason for Mr Gillen's unusual driving at 4.10am when he turned at speed into a housing estate without using his indicator. Mr Gillen, who was "very shocked, unsteady and very agitated", was arrested on suspicion of drug-driving and later gave a urine sample.

Judge Kevin Kilrane said that while a certificate from the bureau showed there was cannabis in Mr Gillen's system, the positive result could have been caused by a tiny trace of drugs. The judge said that when he recently practised as a solicitor he queried the bureau about such tests which did not reveal the concentration of drugs.

He said: "The defendant could have been stoned out of his mind or he might have had a trace element only."

Judge Kilrane said the evidence was "too thin" to convict on a charge that carried a "huge penalty" of an automatic four-year drive ban. There was no way of knowing if the cannabis traces found in Mr Gillen's system were recent, or had been there some days, the judge said.




Pubdate: Fri, 05 Sep 2008
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dave Mabell

Legalizing The Use Of Marijuana Will Be An Election Issue If Proponents Across Canada Listen To Neil Magnuson.

In Lethbridge as part of the "2008 Freedom Tour" on Thursday, the long-time activist said three of the four national parties have spoken out in favour of decriminalizing the recreational drug.

For the Green Party, he said, it's one of the key issues.

"If Elizabeth May is allowed to take part in the debate, she'll talk about it."

May, the party's leader, is battling the reigning Conservatives' efforts to keep her out of the televised debates. Magnuson, in Alberta as part of the movement's annual trek to the House of Commons in Ottawa, said he'll be urging legalization advocates to take full part in the upcoming election.

Pro-pot websites, Facebook and other vehicles will be used to urge advocates to speak up during the campaign and then vote for candidates who support their cause.

Many Liberal and New Democratic Party candidates are also expected to back legalization, he pointed out, though it may not be a platform plank as it is for the nation's Greens. Not many Conservatives are in favour, he conceded.

"They're in the pockets of the United States," a nation where marijuana use is heavily proscribed.

But in Canada today, Magnuson said most adults see the prohibition on marijuana as no more effective as the nation's generations-ago ban on alcohol.

"I think people across Canada are fairly aware of this issue," he said. "But they feel helpless about changing the law," especially when a Tory government is promoting longer jail terms for people caught selling pot.

"Very few Canadians think we should use criminal law against it."




Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2008
Source: Northern River Echo, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 TAOW P/L
Author: Terra Sword

The Nimbin HEMP Bar has closed indefinitely and the Nimbin Museum will only remain open if a new tenant can be found who is willing to manage the premises under a series of conditions set down by the landlord.

After hearing the news of the Museum's imminent closure in New York, long-time Nimbin activist and artist Benny Zable has said he will remove his mural above the building in a show of solidarity and protest against the move.

Police recently advised both landlords they would be applying to have the buildings declared 'restricted premises' under the Restricted Premises Act of 1943 if the landlords did not attempt to limit drug dealing. The declaration means the police can search or raid the premises at will.

A volunteer from the Nimbin HEMP Bar said it closed Friday, August 29, after volunteers collectively decided to shut the shop rather than see the landlord, a Nimbin local, forced to comply or be the subject of further action.

Museum curator Michael Balderstone, who has been a tenant of the building for more than 20 years, said the conditions are "ridiculous and virtually impossible" and he feels like it's a scene from Orwell's 1984 playing out, with the police citing a law created in World War II to close the tourist attraction, where drug dealing has become commonplace. Police deny they wanted to see either building close.

The conditions imposed on the Nimbin Museum include finding a new tenant with no criminal record who agrees to house CCTV in and out of the shop with access by police at anytime or by video link. The new tenant must also make an undertaking to the landlord that they will not support and allow any illegal activity by staff or customers and will report any potential illegal activity to police unconditionally.

"With these rules I have to phone the sarge every time I see a joint or a bong, or even each time I see someone pocket an empty orchy bottle suspiciously! I'll never be able to get off the phone," Mr Balderstone said, although police claim he doesn't fit the criteria for a new tenant anyway.




It is not every day that the U.S. is criticized, for allowing drugs to slip past its guard, but that is exactly what happened this week as Iran criticized U.S. Afghan drug policy. The "situation in Afghanistan every day is getting worse and worse... 350 laboratories [in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan] are converting opium to heroin," said Mehdi Safari Iran's deputy foreign minister.

When your only tool is a hammer, the old saying goes, then every problem looks like a nail. And if your main tool is jail? Then longer jail terms will make everything all better. In Nigeria, a Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency complained bitterly in a column last week that judges only sentence "drug barons" whom police feel (but can't prove) might be murderers to only "three months in imprisonment, sometimes two." And though 5,000 bags of pot ("Indian Hemp") were seized by vigilant cops, only 20 of 81 persons arrested for this dastardly drug crime were convicted this year, bemoaned the top Nigerian narc. So, drop those murder cases, and forget about catching thieves: "you cannot fight criminality in the society without fighting drugs first because armed robbers use drugs before embarking in robbery activities." And that's why we must jail Indian hemp users.

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistic's report released last week continues to reverberate in the media, undercutting the political strategy of capitalizing on fear of crime. The ruling conservatives' call for an election the middle of October has many examining MP Seven Harper's rationale for eternally ratcheting up punishments for "drugs" (read: cannabis). While murders and thefts are at a 30-year low in Canada, "drug rates rose by 10%... Possession offences, specifically of cannabis and other drugs, have been responsible for a 10% hike." Not enough real crimes with victims? Go out and pad arrest stats by snagging cannabis users, all the while proclaiming drugs are "not a victimless crime".

And finally this week, Ontario cops knew the man was a doper, some kind of a "marijuana activist". So when cops found a pound of leafy green substance, and a field test was positive for THC, what further need of witnesses have we? Lots according to the accused, who demonstrated how the catnip he grows looks like pot to some drug tests. "It's a simple mistake -- it looks like good stuff," said Ron McInnes of Ontario, Canada. The "MP Rapid test kit" thought it looked like the good stuff, too: "indicating a positive sample for THC -- even though there is no THC in catnip."


Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2008
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Julian Borger, Diplomatic Editor, The Guardian

Heroin Addiction On Rise, Tehran Official Warns

Britain Points To Decrease In Land Used For Cultivation

Young Iranians are paying the price for NATO's "failure" to curb opium production in neighbouring Afghanistan, according to the Iranian government.

Iran's deputy foreign minister, Mehdi Safari, made the complaint at the end of a three-day visit to Britain, after talks with the foreign secretary, David Miliband, and other Foreign Office and Downing Street officials, in an attempt to improve relations. One of the few areas of cooperation between Iran and Britain is counter-narcotics, but Safari expressed frustration at what the Iranian government sees as a lack of progress.

"Unfortunately the situation in Afghanistan every day is getting worse and worse. If you compare it to five or six years ago, it is more than gloomy," Safari told the Guardian. He said the volume of opium-based drugs being smuggled through Iran from Afghanistan - the source of more than 90% of the world's opium - had increased fivefold over five years, and the drugs themselves had become far more potent.

"I wish we could have just opium. But with 350 laboratories [Afghan drug producers] are converting opium to heroin and crystal," he said. Crystal is a particularly pure form of heroin also known in Iran as "crack".

Safari added that 65% of the laboratories were in Helmand province, the centre of Afghanistan's opium production, where British forces are garrisoned.




Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2008
Source: Vanguard (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2008 Vanguard.
Author: Simon Ebegbulem

THE Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Edo State, Mr. Okey Ihebom, says some of the sentences given to drug barons by the courts are discouraging to law enforcement agencies in the country, saying that the activities of the barons would persist unless they are given more severe punishment by the courts.

The NDLEA Commander who disclosed that over five thousand bags of Indian hemp were seized in the state since January this year till date, regretted that out of eighty-one suspects that were taken to court since the beginning of the year, only twenty persons were convicted.


Some of our people in the course of their duty are killed and it is painful that when they are finally arrested and prosecuted, the court will give three months in imprisonment, sometimes two. Though there are also some judges that understand it too and they give appropriate punishment," he said.


"So the truth is that if we must fight these drug barons, the judiciary must play a major role. Most times, the very day you release this people after serving three months they go back to the business.

But if they are allowed to spend some time in the prison, they will know it is dangerous for them to engage in such illicit business" he said.


We must also know that you cannot fight criminality in the society without fighting drugs first because armed robbers use drugs before embarking in robbery activities. So we must first of all curb drug trafficking before fighting other forms of criminality".



Pubdate: Tue, 09 Sep 2008
Source: Valley Echo, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Valley Echo

British Columbia has reached its lowest crime rate in 30 years, declining for the third year in a row.

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistic's latest report shows a large decrease in crime with regard to nonviolent crimes such as theft and motor vehicle theft, while drug rates rose by 10%.

The report also showed a 9% drop in property crime rates, even though B.C. continues to have the highest recorded rates in this category.


Possession offences, specifically of cannabis and other drugs, have been responsible for a 10% hike. Drug crimes have increased over the past decade resulting in a 10-year high of 28,632 offences reported in 2007, about 3,000 more than in 2006.


"Ask any family who has a family member who is trying to overcome a drug addiction and they'll tell you it's not a victimless crime," he said.

The number of youths charged in correlation with the increase in drug use, has also dramatically increased. Statistics show a 20% increase in the number of youths charged for drug-related crimes involving cocaine since 2006.




Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2008
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008, OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Tracy McLaughlin

A marijuana activist who was allegedly busted with a pound of pot claims police have no proof that what they seized is not catnip -- and he intends to try to prove it in court.

"It's a simple mistake -- it looks like good stuff," said Ron McInnes, 60, owner of The Pot Shop in Orillia, which sells pipes, bongs and a variety of deliciously-flavoured rolling papers.


His plan is to show that catnip, which he keeps around his home and even grows in his yard for his two chubby cats, tests positive for THC -- the psychoactive chemical in cannabis marijuana.


He dipped a handful of catnip into a container of water and shook it up, then used an MP Rapid test kit specifically designed to test for THC in Marijuana.

Seconds after putting droplets of the liquid onto the test card, two pink lines appeared in the test window -- indicating a positive sample for THC -- even though there is no THC in catnip.


"I don't even jay-walk," he said. No date has been set yet for McInnes' new trial.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Bruce Mirken

It was probably inevitable: Lacking actual facts to make their case, opponents of Question 2 in Massachusetts have begun spinning fictional scare stories in order to frighten voters out of reforming that state's marijuana laws.

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By Steven Wishnia

Economists estimate tens of billions for governments if we taxed pot like tobacco and stopped wasting money on the drug war.


Join MPP-TV's Noah Brozinsky as he reviews five of the 2008 presidential candidates' positions on marijuana policy.


By Marsha Rosenbaum and Jennifer Kern

Abstinence-only education simply doesn't work, no matter how much Sarah Palin or George Bush dream it will.


By Bob Barr

As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work.


By Arran Frood

New indications that illegal hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and psilocybin could become credible prescription medicines some day.


By Rob Kampia

Twenty years ago a DEA chief judge concluded that doctors should be allowed to prescribe pot -- and the government is still ignoring his ruling.


by Earth and Fire Erowid

Modern humans must learn how to relate to psychoactives responsibly, treating them with respect and awareness, working to minimize harms and maximize benefits, and integrating use into a healthy, enjoyable, and productive life.


by Jonathan Caulkins

What distinguishes the Erowids is their assertion that modern humans must integrate psychoactive use into life. Apparently from their perspective, choosing abstinence, at either the individual or societal level, is inherently inconsistent with being modern.


by Jacob Sullum

To say that "modern humans must learn how to relate to psychoactives responsibly," as Earth and Fire Erowid do, is not the same as "denying or denigrating an individual's right to choose temperance," as Jonathan Caulkins suggests.


By Bill Piper

While possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use is legal in Alaska, it's still illegal under federal law. That makes Gov. Palin a criminal in the eyes of the federal government. Does she think she should be sent to federal prison?



Presidential Leadership Needed. A DrugSense Focus Alert.



By Russell Barth


Re: "Technical breech" of pot law not worth prosecuting: Crown

"There is nothing constitutionally wrong with the CDSA," Conlan said.

Basically, Conlan is admitting that the only thing keeping marijuana prohibition alive is a legal technicality, and not any real validity in the law itself.

"It is still valid because the government says it is valid" is not acceptable. Like a parent saying "Because I said so!" when a child asks "why".

When one considers that recent science out of Germany shows how cannabinoids stimulate the body's production of TIMP-1, which helps healthy cells resist cancer invasion ( ), the government's prohibition seems downright criminal!

Besides that, if you accept that the government has any say at all as to what you can and cannot put into your own body, then you must accept their ownership. That means, the government owns you -- like a pet, or slave, or livestock -- and that you have only the rights that they grant.

If you accept that, then you deserve to have no rights at all.

Russell Barth federally licensed medical marijuana user Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis

Pubdate: Tue, 02 Sep 2008
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)


Crime And Drug Policy  ( Top )

By Art Carden

The United States imprisons almost one in one hundred American adults- a higher number and percentage of its population than any other country, according to a February 29, 2008 Washington Post article. This has been especially devastating for minorities-as the Post points out, "(o)ne in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars." Many of these people remain in a continual pattern of crime. Are we a safer society as a result, or should we re-evaluate our crime policies?

When I was in college, Johnnie Cochran gave a talk in which he asked whether we are doing a service to the country by building a land of barbed wire and concrete "from sea to shining sea." There is a psychological and social effect that has been pointed out by Ayn Rand, who argued (astutely) that social control is easier if we create a nation of criminals. Many statutes do not prevent crimes; they create them. Drug laws are a perfect example: drug use infringes on no one's rights; it is the essence of a "victimless crime."

Some might respond that there is no such thing as a "victimless crime" because of the effects of drug use on the user's friends and families. These costs are all too real as the legacy of families torn apart by drug abuse suggests. If we are going to adopt this utilitarian line of reasoning, though, then we have to weigh the costs to families against the social costs created by the unintended consequences of the war on drugs.

The drug war is an integral part of the rapidly growing American prison population. Outlawing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs created a whole new class of crimes and moved traffic in psychoactive drugs out of the legitimate marketplace and into the black market.

Another one of the unintended consequences of the drug war is the escalating potency of the drugs people use today. The marijuana on the streets today is much more potent than the marijuana that was on the streets thirty and forty years ago. As penalties have changed, so too have the drugs people use. Cocaine became more prevalent after the government cracked down on heroin in the 1970s. The crack epidemic was in part a response to attempts to eradicate cocaine, and the crystal meth epidemic of the last decade has happened in part in response to the war on crack. Criminal penalties give people incentives to pack as much potency into as small a space as possible; therefore, drug dealers have incentives to increase the potency of the drugs they deal.

Yet other examples of the unintended consequence of the drug war are the extremely low quality of the drugs that appear on the street and the violent means that drug dealers use to settle disputes. Someone who buys bad aspirin has legal recourse against the company that sold it to him. Someone who buys bad heroin or bad crack has no such legal recourse, and disputes over quality will be settled violently, if at all. Epidemics of urban crime are among the unintended consequences of the drug war.

It appears that we learned nothing from our experiment with alcohol prohibition in the first part of the twentieth century. When alcohol was outlawed, alcohol production and distribution were taken over by organized criminal syndicates-think Al Capone-and crime skyrocketed.

Prison is not the answer. In a recent set of lectures given on behalf of the Institute for Humane Studies, Georgetown University legal scholar John Hasnas argued in favor of restitution as opposed to incarceration and statutory law. Hasnas argued that people are not necessarily reformed while in prisons and jails. They learn to be better criminals. They attach themselves to larger criminal networks. After some of the horrible experiences of prison-like prison rape, for example-still others are likely to become even more withdrawn and antisocial. The current system isn't working.

Proponents of law and order might see this as bleeding-heart, soft-on- crime liberalism. I agree that crime should be punished; indeed, a strong legal system is essential for a well-functioning society. To take one example, it has been argued by legal scholar Richard Posner (and I agree) that the penalties for drunken driving are not nearly severe enough. It is quite another matter, however, to argue that our current system is doing what it was meant to do. It is time to re- examine our drug policy.

Art Carden is an Adjunct Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and an assistant professor at Rhodes College (Department of Economics and Business). This piece was originally published by The Independent Institute -


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