This Just In
(1)Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Oppose Mandatory Minimum Sentences
(2)Senior Police Officers Hit Out at Moves to Downgrade Killer Ecstasy
(3)Poll: Michigan Voters Lean Toward Approval of Medical Marijuana
(4)Editorial: No on Proposition 5

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Copyright: 2008 The Christian Science Publishing Society
Author: Amanda Paulson, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Attitudes About One of the Toughest Crime Measures From the 1980s May Be Changing.

Chicago - For two decades, politicians have worked hard to polish their tough-on-crime credentials.

Now, though - at a time when concerns about crime are low, prison populations are skyrocketing, and voters are more informed about how sentencing laws play out - Americans may be starting to rethink one of the toughest crime reforms from the 1980s: mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

In a new poll, some 60 percent of respondents opposed mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Nearly 80 percent said the courts are best qualified to determine sentences for crimes, and nearly 60 percent said they'd be likely to vote for a politician who opposed mandatory minimum sentences.

"The public is ahead of the politicians on this," says Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums ( FAMM ), which commissioned the poll and released a new report on the issue Wednesday. "This is a message members of Congress haven't heard.... As a country we believe in individualized justice."




Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2008
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd

Senior police officers are urging a government advisory group to leave Ecstasy as a class A drug.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is meeting today to discuss whether the amphetamine should be downgraded to class B.

As part of discussions, panel members will consider a submission from the Association of Chief Police Officers, stating that transferring Ecstasy to a lower-classed drug would send out an 'unfortunate message'.

Presentations will be made from experts on how the drug, also known as MDMA, affects users.

The advisory council will then use the testimonies to assess whether Ecstasy remains as harmful as other class A drugs - such as cocaine and heroin - or whether it should be ranked instead as a class B substance alongside amphetamines and cannabis.

A final report on the drug is due to be published next year.

Even then, the decision on whether to reclassify Ecstasy will ultimately be made by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

However the Government's top drugs adviser Professor Sir Michael Rawlins said Ecstasy could remain a class A substance, even if it is shown to be safe, because other dangerous chemicals are being mixed into the pills.




Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2008 The Detroit News
Author: Charlie Cain, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

A majority of Michiganians is inclined to legalize marijuana for sick people, but a second statewide ballot proposal to relax restrictions on stem cell research in Michigan is a closer contest -- and the advertising blitz has just begun on that measure.

The latest Detroit News-WXYZ Action News poll found that the voters, by a 59-37 margin, favor the ballot proposal to allow terminally and seriously ill people to legally use marijuana if a doctor certified the drug could ease their suffering.

The statewide poll was conducted for The News, WXYZ and three outstate television stations from Saturday to Monday by Lansing's EPIC-MRA. It showed that the biggest backers were women (63 percent support), Metro Detroiters (60 percent) and Democrats (68 percent). Among men, the proposal garnered 51 percent support and 49 percent of Republicans favored it.




Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times

Proposition 5 Means Well, but the Measure Aimed at Rehabilitating Addicts Would Create Chaos.

Proposition 5 follows in the tradition of California ballot measures lined with good intentions and stuffed with disaster. It lures voters with a comforting mirage: a revamped and rational policy for treating drug addiction as an illness and confronting it through rehabilitation instead of punishment.




After law enforcement officials in Massachusetts predictably gathered to oppose an initiative aimed at reducing cannabis penalties, a newspaper columnist asked an important and obvious question that rarely gets asked: Why?

In California, a drug treatment initiative is being debated and receiving some fair coverage in the press (though the mainstream press isn't necessarily in love with the proposal, as evidenced by the Los Angeles Times editorial in the This Just In section above). Elsewhere, college students are demanding at least minimal fairness in the enforcement of some drug laws.


Pubdate: Sat, 20 Sep 2008
Source: Standard-Times (New Bedford, MA)
Copyright: 2008 South Coast Media Group
Author: Jack Spillane

All the suits who make a living -- monetarily, politically and otherwise -- off the criminal marijuana laws were there the other day.

There must have been 30 of them. Standing on the steps of the New Bedford Superior Court like a phalanx of armed guards, ready to protect the public against the enemy.

Protect us against what?

Why, those horrible marijuana laws, the ones that if we don't keep in place, everyone in Massachusetts under 18 will soon be heading for the corner drug dealer. As if any kid who wants to doesn't do that now.

You know the criminal marijuana possession laws.

They're the same laws that 11 other states have already eliminated ( some of them as long ago as the 1970s ) with little to no change in the rates of drug use.

You know the kind of places where they've decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, exotic places like Maine and Ohio. But don't go downeast on vacation -- those Maine drug gangs are out of control!

Other states that have decriminalized marijuana include such libertine hotbeds as Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Nebraska and Minnesota.

But there they stood the other day, Bristol and Barnstable counties' finest, all the folks employed by this big, big government business we call the War on Drugs. They as much as warned that we could become like China during the opium wars if those marijuana penalties are loosened.




Pubdate: Wed, 24 Sep 2008
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Kathleen Wilson

Life without heroin didn't look good to Melinda Greene.

The Ventura woman used the narcotic for 16 years, turning over her children for others to raise and serving time in prison.

Then in mid-2005, her body shrunken to 98 pounds as she mourned her fiance's death, the forces collided. She was tired of her addict's life when authorities gave her the choice of treatment or two more years in prison for heroin possession.

"I gave up," she recalled. "I said, I'm through.'"

Greene, 46, entered residential treatment in Oxnard, followed by a few months in a sober living home for recovering addicts. With that, she became part of the sweeping change in California's treatment of drug offenders approved by voters in 2000 with the passage of Proposition 36.

Under the initiative, nonviolent drug offenders avoid jail and prison by completing treatment. Primarily, they are people accused of possessing controlled substances or being under their influence.

Greene said the program that addicts call "Prop" gave her the tools to recover. She is now raising her 12-year-old son and studying to be a substance abuse counselor. "I never had a plan before," Greene said. "It taught me how to go through what you're going through."

But whether Proposition 36 has worked as public policy is at issue.

Eight years after passage and with a measure on the November ballot to cut jail terms for drug offenders and expand treatment, backers call Proposition 36 a "phenomenal success."




Pubdate: Mon, 22 Sep 2008
Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Camera.
Author: Vanessa Miller

Advocates Tout 'Victory' For Patients and Caregivers

Outside the University of Colorado Police Department on Monday, cheers erupted from a crowd of marijuana advocates -- some of whom were dressed as giant pot leaves -- when a student was given back medical marijuana that police took from him in May.

"I wish I had a chance to talk to the officers who said I'd never get this back," said CU sophomore Edward Nicholson, 20, who's a medical-marijuana cardholder in Colorado.

CU police confiscated about 2 ounces of marijuana from Nicholson in his residence hall last spring, even though the then-freshman has a card legally certifying him to hold and administer the drug to his brother. Nicholson said his brother suffers from chronic, debilitating pain from football injuries and has been prescribed marijuana to help deal with the discomfort.

Nicholson faced criminal charges for drug possession and was suspended from CU over the summer. But, after he hired an attorney and threatened to sue CU, the school has dropped its case against him and changed its rules.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2008
Source: Chronicle, The (Duke U, NC Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Duke Student Publishing Company
Author: Shuchi Parikh

Residence Life and Housing Services officials implemented a revised protocol this Fall for residence hall staff and Duke police to follow when responding to suspicion of drug use.

It was drafted in April in response to "several incidents" last year concerning suspected drug use, particularly involving marijuana, Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said.

In April, Duke University Police Department officers confiscated "leafy-green vegetable matter," white powder and pills from a room in Randolph Dormitory. The two freshmen residents told The Chronicle then that the substances were not drugs and alleged that police officers had entered their room to view the substances without permission.

The RLHS protocol is meant to serve as a clarification and guideline for resident assistants and residence coordinators rather than debut new policies or changes, said Terry Lynch, RLHS assistant dean for staff development and Central Campus.


The guidelines, however, have not been publicly released to students. RLHS officials introduced the protocol to RAs at their general training in August.

Several students said the policy should be made known to those living on campus.




More corruption, crackdowns, killing and claiming of assets.


Pubdate: Fri, 19 Sep 2008
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Bill Rankin, The AJC

After his college football career, Greg Campion became a decorated law enforcement officer for cracking large-scale drug rings and apprehending high-value suspects.

But on Thursday, with some of his old colleagues looking on, the disgraced former federal agent stood before a judge and begged for mercy.

"I have made a terrible mistake," said Campion, 38, his hands clasped behind his back. "I will offer no excuse to you, whatsoever."

U.S. District Judge Jack Camp sentenced the former agent to one year and nine months in federal prison for failing to report more than $200,000 in cash income. Camp also ordered Campion to pay back $92,614 to the IRS and the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Campion's career as a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration ended in 2006 when he was indicted for embezzling drug money seized in narcotics investigations while serving as an agent in Atlanta.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Jason Trahan, The Dallas Morning News

14 Held in Dallas Include Driver in Fatal DWI Crash

An unprecedented international crackdown on Mexico's notorious Gulf Cartel has resulted in the arrests of 175 people this week - including 14 in Dallas - and garnered record-setting drug seizures.

In announcing "Project Reckoning" on Wednesday, federal officials also publicly acknowledged for the first time that the Gulf Cartel's international reach includes ties with Italian organized crime.

Among those swept up in the massive investigation is Uriel Palacios, who was named in one of two local drug indictments. The 22-year-old faces two murder charges after police say he killed a newlywed couple on Labor Day when he crashed into their vehicle in northeast Dallas while driving drunk as he fled police.

Another federal indictment targets three of the cartel's most-wanted leaders: Zeta chief Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano, Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sanchez and Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen. All are thought to be hiding in Mexico.

The 15-month operation has resulted in multiple indictments across the U.S. In addition to those in Dallas, indictments were filed elsewhere in Texas and in New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey.




Pubdate: Sat, 20 Sep 2008
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008, West Partners Publishing Ltd.

B.C.'s civil forfeiture program is rolling into year three with nearly $5-million in property forfeited to the province, Solicitor-General John van Dongen said Friday as he released a report on the first two years of the program.

As of June 30, the report indicated, the province has successfully seen items forfeited to them in 35 cases, totaling nearly $4.5 million in cash, vehicles and other property. That total has since climbed to nearly $5-million.

None of those completed cases stem from Kelowna investigations, but Rob Kroeker, executive director of the civil forfeiture office, said that there are a number of cases pending before the courts in the Central Okanagan, including a couple of houses used in a grow operation and a business involved in drug trafficking.

The Civil Forfeiture Act came into force in April 2006, and allows for the seizure of property if it can be proven in court it was obtained through unlawful acts or used to further wrongdoing.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Sun, 21 Sep 2008
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times

A drug-sniffing dog pulled the U.S. Border Patrol agent to a rusty cargo container in the storage yard just north of the Mexican border. Peeking inside, he saw stacks of bundled marijuana and a man with a gun tucked in his waistband.

The officer and the man locked eyes for a moment before the smuggler scrambled down a hole and disappeared. By the time backup agents cast their flashlights into the opening, he was long gone, through a winding tunnel to Mexico.

US authorities called a trusted friend on the other side, Juan Jose Soriano.

The deputy commander of the Tecate Police Department gathered the entire shift of 30 officers at the decrepit police headquarters on Avenida Benito Juarez. Soriano knew any of them might leak information to the tunnel's gangster operators.

So he took their cellphones and sent them away on a ruse about a car chase near the border.

The veteran officer told only a few trusted aides about the tunnel. Later that day, the officers went into the United States and traversed the length of the passageway to an empty building, where they found computers, ledgers, and other key evidence.

For U.S. authorities, it was an encouraging example of cross-border cooperation in the drug war. For Mexico's crime bosses, it was a police victory that could not go unpunished.

That night last December, while Soriano slept with his wife and baby daughter, two heavily armed men broke into his house and shot him 45 times. The 35-year-old father of three young daughters died in his bedroom. He had lasted two days as second in command of the department.

The death of a police officer is generally greeted in Mexico with a knowing smirk. All too often it is assumed the officer in question was playing for both sides in the drug war, which has claimed at least 2,000 lives in Mexico this year.

But all indications, from American and Mexican sources, suggest that Soriano was among the good ones, poorly paid but somehow immune to the lure of big money and the threat of deadly firepower from Mexico's violent drug gangs.

An intense, soft-spoken man, Soriano struggled for years to clean up the troubled department. But his corruption-busting ways earned him only contempt from many on the force.




Police in California have begun to utilize new medical marijuana guidelines issued by the Attorney General, arresting medical cannabis collective founder Martin Victor for allegedly making a profit.

Californian activists see record breaking cannabis arrests as evidence of a failed policy, but the police attribute the rising numbers to more vigorous enforcement, read misallocation of their time and resources, stemming from their frustration.

The record for largest cannabis growing operation in Canada has been broken again, "with an estimated street value of $40 million." Another drug war success?

Canadian courts may be, once again, gradually coming to the conclusion that laws prohibiting possession are unconstitutional because they fail to make allowance for medicinal use.


Pubdate: Tue, 23 Sep 2008
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Sarah Burge, The Press-Enterprise

TEMECULA - Police seized dozens of marijuana plants and about five pounds of dried marijuana Friday from the Temecula home of a medical user well known in Riverside County for his activism on the issue.

Martin J. Victor, 56, said Monday that he and his wife, both of whom suffer from debilitating health problems that prevent them from working, run a 10-member medicinal marijuana collective from their home.

Victor was arrested Friday on suspicion of possession of concentrated cannabis, cultivation of more than 50 marijuana plants and possession of marijuana for sale, jail records show. He was booked into the Southwest Detention Center and released Saturday morning on $50,000 bail.

Police served a search warrant on Palmetto Way about 5:30 p.m., said Lt. Scot Collins. They learned about the large number of marijuana plants being cultivated in a suburban backyard near the Pechanga Casino, Collins said, through sheriff's helicopter surveillance and complaints from neighbors.

"The people in the neighborhood weren't too happy about it," Collins said.

Collins said the operation was not in compliance with new guidelines on medical marijuana issued last month by the state attorney general's office. The Victors were not collecting sales tax, he said, and they did not have a nonprofit business license.

Collins also suggested Victor was making a profit from marijuana sales.


Victor and another member of the collective, Dave Herrick, said they are convinced that Friday's raid was timed to coincide with Victor's testimony Monday on behalf of another medical marijuana advocate charged with battery in San Bernardino County.

"It's nothing but persecution," Herrick said. "And vindictiveness."

They have been growing medicinal marijuana in their backyard for five years, Victor said.



Pubdate: Tue, 23 Sep 2008
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2008 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Details: Author: Donna Tam, The Times-Standard

The nearly 75,000 marijuana-related arrests in California last year are prompting marijuana law reform activists to say that laws aren't stopping people from getting what they want, while local law enforcement responds that the increased number of arrests is simply the result of tighter enforcement.

"This has been going on for close to a century now and they're clearly not eradicating or stopping anything. It just continues," said Dale Gieringer, a spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

According to the state Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Statistics Center, 74,119 felony and misdemeanor marijuana arrests were made in 2007, a jump of nearly 10,000 arrests from 2006, which saw 65,386.


Gieringer said the statewide numbers are the highest since 1990, which he says is a sign that these arrests are only wasting taxpayer money.

Marijuana should be legalized and taxed like alcohol, he said.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said while there may be some legitimate reasons to legalize marijuana, increased arrests is not one of them.

"I don't think the increased arrest is any indication that this needs to be legalized," he said. "It's no more than if murder went up that we should legalize murder."

Gallegos said there could be more marijuana in the streets, but more arrests could also mean an increase in the amount of resources dedicated to intercepting the drug, as demonstrated by recent federal activity.

"There's been an increase of federal presence, and there's going to be more increases of fed presence," he said. "What they're seeing is law enforcement saying, enough is enough."




Pubdate: Tue, 23 Sep 2008
Source: Daily Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Details: Author: Danielle Vanderbrink

The Ontario Provincial Police are calling Thursday's drug bust on B- Line Road near Pembroke the largest ever in Canada.

More than 40,000 plants were seized at the farm property at 1970 B- Line Road in Laurentian Valley Township over the weekend, with an estimated street value of $40 million.

On Thursday, members of the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Crime Unit, assisted by the OPP Drug Enforcement Section and the Emergency Response Team, executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act warrant on the 200-acre farm.

Police said the marijuana was hidden between stalks of corn in a field adjacent to a house and barn, and was fed by an irrigation system of plastic pipe from a pond and above-ground swimming pool.


"It's one of the largest grows that I've ever encountered," said Sgt. Henry, who has been with the section for 22 years.

In 2003, police seized 30,000 plants at a former brewery in Barrie, Ont.

"It's unbelievable how many of these grow ops crop up all over the province," he said.

He said growing marijuana is a lucrative business because "there's just an unbelievable profit that can be made."

"Unfortunately, the sentencing is very rarely used to its extent when it gets to court," he said.

He said large-scale grow operations create problems for the Ontario Provincial Police because they deplete resources.

Sgt. Henry said there were approximately 30 officers at the scene at one point during the investigation on B-Line Road.

"It's very cumbersome financially and resource wise," he said.




Pubdate: Mon, 22 Sep 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Details: Author: Shannon Kari

There may be no legal prohibition against possession of cannabis in Ontario if a Superior Court judge upholds an earlier finding in an ongoing challenge to the medical marijuana laws.

Health Canada is asking Justice Eva Frank to overturn a ruling last year by a provincial court judge in Toronto who found there was no law against possession, because the medical marijuana scheme was still unconstitutional.

A provincial court ruling is not binding on other judges in the province, as it would be if it is by a Superior Court judge.

The federal government has conceded that if Judge Frank finds that the medical marijuana scheme is invalid, then the prohibition against simple possession also cannot stand.

But it argued in court on Friday that its "entrenched policy" of providing a supply of cannabis to medical users complies with previous rulings by the Ontario Court of Appeal on this issue.

Health Canada has been making "a good faith effort with its legal supply," said government lawyer Lisa Csele.


Ms. Csele urged Judge Frank to look at all of the government's actions when deciding if it has done enough to comply with the Court of Appeal's ruling in 2003.

"What about the potential for arbitrary change [in the policy]," Judge Frank asked.

"There is no evidence people are not receiving their marijuana," Ms. Csele responded. If the federal government does not provide an adequate supply, then medical users could launch a court action, she said.

The government must enact formal regulations that recognize its responsibilities, said Corbin Cawkell, who represents Mr. Long. "A policy is not enough," said Mr. Cawkell.

The ruling by Judge Borenstein is one of a number of decisions in the past eight years to declare aspects of the medical marijuana regulations unconstitutional.



In the town of Nimbin, Australia, police boast they are "not afraid to walk the streets" in the wake of unpopular police raids and orders closing the Hemp Bar cannabis cafe. In a tacit admission cannabis is popular in Nimbin and that open, above-board cannabis sales have caused little problem, Superintendent Bruce Lyons boasted of police powers: "If businesses in Nimbin want to trade in drugs, police will do what they can to shut down their drug trade."

Prohibitionists in Vancouver, British Columbia hired former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, trotting him out to rail against InSite, the supervised injection center. Even the conservative Globe and Mail found Giuliani's predictable criticism of the injection center to be too much: "With all due respect for Mr. Giuliani... he and the American war-on-drugs model have no lessons to offer Canada on drug control."

In the U.K., it looks as if MDMA may be downgraded to a less-serious B class from the current A (most dangerous) classification. "Ecstasy is not an addictive drug and it is already eight years since a Police Foundation inquiry found it to be several thousand times less dangerous than heroin and to play a part in fewer than 10 deaths per year." Expect prohibitions to strike back, claiming this would be the wrong message for youth, and an invitation to use.

And finally this week, from the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Professor Judith Pratt asks if the Beatles would have sounded the same if they hadn't taken drugs? Pratt, who spoke at the Cavern Club in Liverpool last week looked at the possible influences of cannabis and LSD on the Fab Four's creativity. "What would their songs be like if they hadn't been exposed to drugs? Taking drugs certainly had a positive influence on The Beatles's songwriting... They might not have gone into that more spiritual spiral if they hadn't taken LSD."


Pubdate: Fri, 19 Sep 2008
Source: Lismore Northern Star (Australia)
Copyright: APN News & Media Ltd 2008

WHILE there has been vocal opposition to police raids on Nimbin businesses, the only criticism of police in the village yesterday came from a woman angry they were not doing more.


The region's top cop, Superintendent Bruce Lyons, had come to Nimbin to walk the main street and tell businesses they had nothing to fear from police - provided they were not involved in the illicit drug trade.

Police shut down Nimbin's Hemp Bar last month under laws that allow them to close premises suspected of being involved in the supply of drugs.

The Nimbin Museum was issued with an eviction notice and will close by the end of the month.

Supt Lyons warned police would not tolerate drug dealing at Nimbin.

"If businesses in Nimbin want to trade in drugs, police will do what they can to shut down their drug trade," he said.


Supt Lyons said: "I am not afraid to walk the streets of Nimbin."



Pubdate: Mon, 22 Sep 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 The Globe and Mail Company

While in British Columbia for an economic conference last week, Rudolph Giuliani pronounced the supervised-injection site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside a "terrible mistake." Mr. Giuliani's tough-on-crime track record may qualify him to talk about the benefits of vigorous policing but his criticism of Insite is misplaced. Further, it seems inconsistent with the broken-windows theory of policing: the basis for his "zero-tolerance" approach to crime while mayor of New York City.


Failure to take steps to reduce disease transmission will lead to greater social ills, much as one broken window left untended results in a building full of broken windows. With all due respect for Mr. Giuliani, who distinguished himself in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, he and the American war-on-drugs model have no lessons to offer Canada on drug control.



Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2008
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Sophie Morris

The 50,000 people who spent last weekend expanding their minds and sensory perceptions on ecstasy will probably have missed the news that the drug might soon be reclassified from A down to B. The fact that it is officially considered one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets of Britain has most likely escaped them too, for if the after-effects of a night taking ecstasy gave even a hint to users that it should be ranked alongside heroin, they would probably have stuck to the vodka and tonics.

Those convicted of possession of ecstasy face up to seven years' imprisonment and dealing could confer a life sentence; the point of the archaic classification system being to match the punishment with the harm caused by the drug, something it fails to do. "Harm" here means the harm caused to the person taking that drug, not those around them.


Ecstasy is not an addictive drug and it is already eight years since a Police Foundation inquiry found it to be several thousand times less dangerous than heroin and to play a part in fewer than 10 deaths per year. Ever since the tragic death of Leah Betts in 1995, though, it has been difficult to shake ecstasy's reputation as a killer.


Does anyone remember the one about the clubber who was so blissed out on ecstasy that he started a fight on a bus and stabbed an innocent bystander? What about the group of lads who each necked a handful of pills and gang raped a fellow raver? Or the party-goer who stands accused of date rape and is using the fact that he took ecstasy with his accuser as a defence? Then there's the woman who broke into her own parents home and stole and pawned her mother's jewellery to fund her ecstasy habit.

Of course you haven't heard any such tales, because ecstasy does not lead to the sort of violent and aggressive behaviour that alcohol does, nor does it develop into a dependency which users turn to crime to fund.




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Sep 2008
Source: Sunday Herald, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Sunday Herald
Author: Jasper Hamill

Exploration of Effects of Mind-Altering Drugs Says They May Have Opened Doors of Perception for the Fabs

Could a drug-free mind ever imagine sailing the oceans in a yellow submarine, or talking to a girl with kaleidoscope eyes? That was the question asked by a Scottish scientist who spoke at Liverpool's famous Cavern Club last week in an attempt to divine whether The Beatles would have been as good if they had not indulged in illegal substances.

Professor Judith Pratt, of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, examined the effects drugs have on the way individuals perceive the world before relating it back to The Beatles's evolution from innocent boy band to spaced-out hippies, a trip that saw their music evolve from pop to Technicolor psychedelia and eventually into heroin-influenced blues.

The event was not a normal scientific symposium: after her talk, the audience stood up and sang along to Hey Jude.

Pratt said: "What would their songs be like if they hadn't been exposed to drugs? Taking drugs certainly had a positive influence on The Beatles's songwriting, although that's not to say you should encourage people to take them. The boost in creativity comes from the way drugs changed their perception. But it's a moot point whether they would have made the same music if it weren't for what they were taking."

She focused on two drugs: LSD and cannabis. Smoking marijuana, Pratt claimed, gave them their first boost in creativity. The possible reasons why cannabis didn't cause psychosis in the Fab Four include the relative weakness of the drug, compared to the hyper-strength "skunk" smoked nowadays, but also because the herbal variety contains a substance called cannabidiol, which some scientists think could work to prevent psychosis.


Pratt said: "They might not have gone into that more spiritual spiral if they hadn't taken LSD."

She was unable to conclude whether The Beatles would have been as good, or at least as adventurous, had they never been introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan in 1964, and insisted there was "not an absolute, direct link" between the drugs and their greatest work.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


From the Transform Blog.


By Steven Wishnia, AlterNet.

The Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference in New York presented an older and wiser psychedelic movement.


NDP leader Jack Layton denies that he had a deal with Marc Emery's BC Marijuana Party to join forces, but he's on video saying that he supports ending penalties for having, growing or selling marijuana


Following the recent World Forum Against Drugs in Sweden, the Executive Director of the US based Drug Free Schools Coalition , David Evans, sent an email to a number of colleagues in the field encouraging them to sign an anti-harm reduction declaration from that event.


Century of Lies - 09/23/08 - Jack Cole

Jack Cole director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition reports on recent trip to UK on behalf of LEAP

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 09/24/08 - Martin Jansen

Report from Martin Jansen in Nimbin Australia regarding police efforts to close their Hemp Museum


The investigation into the bungled police drug sting operation that led to the tragic death of Rachel Hoffman has now concluded with one of the investigators being fired, four more being suspended on no pay, and one reprimanded. The details, including the full internal affairs report are available here.


This is getting really out of hand. What kind of cop is scared of a Jack Russell terrier?


This November, moments before millions of voters flock to the polls to elect America's 44th president, law enforcement officials will make their 20 millionth marijuana arrest.

By Paul Armentano



The Marijuana Policy Project is hiring a Membership Assistant to work in its Membership Department.

This is a full-time, paid internship and pays $9 per hour. Most MPP interns are recent or semi-recent grads, although that's not required.

This position is a chance for a meticulous, detail-oriented person to play a crucial and responsible role in a successful nonprofit organization.



The 2008 NORML Conference will be held Friday, October 17 through Sunday, October 19 in Berkeley, CA. Please mark your calendar now and plan to attend NORML's annual political conference where they focus on the latest marijuana policy developments at both the state and federal levels, celebrate victories over the last year, analyze losses, and hear from an array of the leading NORML activists and cannabis law reform organizers.



By J.D. Bourgeois


I have noticed that many Canadians seemed more upset about Dana Larsen's ( former NDP candidate in West Vancouver ) involvement with coca and poppy seeds than with the cannabis seeds.

It's a misplaced concern there, for sure; however, Canadians were rightfully concerned about Larsen's drug use while at the controls of a moving vehicle on a public road. My guess is that he was young and trying desperately to get the public's attention.

Who amongst us has never driven under the influence of something like alcohol, pain killers, sedatives or when sleepy or distracted? Larsen is absolutely correct in that all seeds and products of nature are a free individual's birthright.

The "don't drink and drive" approach should be applied fairly to all intoxicants. Period. No other drug prohibition can be seen as fair, given alcohol's legal status. Public safety is our only legitimate concern.

Legalize cannabis, sell it from the corner booze store and turn every grower into a tax-paying citizen. Methamphetamines, sedatives, cocaine and opiates could be, and should be, dispensed under medical supervision and then the harm from them could be minimized.

It would be the end of drug wars, the end of gangs, of grow homes and meth labs, and of all of the side effects of prohibition. Just like in the days of Al Capone, rum runners, bootleggers and speakeasies, it would all come to an abrupt end.

The 17 tons of cocaine, found in the submarine that shared the news headlines with Larsen, represents a drop in an unstoppable ocean of drugs. Legitimize all drugs immediately.

All cocaine and opiates should be purchased in their entirety every year to answer the world's need for drugs and to end the supply of cash feeding the extremists and drug profiteers.

The educated among us know that nature is not to be mindlessly feared. Cannabis, coca, and opiates come from plants. Think of all of the famous artists and writers who used drugs to gain insight into the nature of consciousness.

Are we going to negate all of those experiences such as Huxley's Doors of Perception ( about LSD ), Coleridge's Kubla Khan ( about opium ), and all of the other great drug-induced works? Prohibition itself, just as with alcohol during the 1920's, is the only true problem.

As a public school teacher for the last 30 years, let me assure all of my fellow Canadians that the present confusion over drugs is a proven recipe for continuing disaster. Let's move on with new, logical policies for the 21st century. Live and let live.

J.D. Bourgeois, Surrey

Editor's note - The writer is a former candidate with the Marijuana Party.

Pubdate: Sat, 20 Sep 2008
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)


The War We Won't Talk About  ( Top )

By Salim Muwakkil

The war on drugs has gotten little traction during this presidential campaign. The last time it was even mentioned was during the Republican debate in September 2007 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, when Republican candidate Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) spoke of its inordinate toll on the black community.

"I think inner-city folks and minorities are punished unfairly in the war on drugs," Paul had said. "For instance, blacks make up 14 percent of those who use drugs, yet 36 percent of those arrested are blacks and it ends up that 63 percent of those who finally end up in prison are blacks. This has to change."

Paul is right, but his sense of urgency never caught on. The social injustices encouraged by these policies are seeding unprecedented domestic turmoil, and its racial biases are threatening black America's viability.

The United States is the world's leading jailer, and a growing number of those jailed are drug offenders. Between 1980 and 2006, arrests for drug offenses more than tripled, according to a Human Rights Watch study released in May. In 1980, the number of arrests was 581,000. By 2006, it was 1,889,810.

African Americans have paid a heavy toll. In many resource-poor communities, young blacks often are tracked into the underground economy and invariably into the prison pipeline. Incarceration has become a central part of life for at least two generations of black youth.

According to the Sentencing Project, at the current rate of incarceration, one out of every three black males born today can expect to be imprisoned in his lifetime. Drug offenses are the major reason for this. More than 38 percent of all blacks entering prison in 2003 had been convicted of drug offenses, noted the Human Rights Watch report.

On average, one of every 14 black children has a parent in prison. Many cities with high incarceration rates also have serious gender imbalances. In parts of Washington, D.C., there are only 62 men for every 100 women. Black communities in many other parts of the country suffer similar imbalances.

I wrote about the ominous prospects of these imbalances more than three years ago. "There are more than 30 percent more black women than men in Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago and Cleveland," I noted in June 2005. "In New York City the number is 36 percent, and in Philadelphia, 37 percent."

Those statistics spell out catastrophe. Yet, discussions of this seem to be off limits, even for Sen. Barack Obama, a black man from the South Side of Chicago - one of the many "ground zeros" of the crisis.

Many in the black community are reluctant to discuss the drug war's collateral damage for fear it might tarnish Obama's glow. But shouldn't someone mention it?

During the heat of the campaign early this year, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a study that documented the disproportionate damage the drug war has caused the African-American community.

"In 2002 . there were five times as many whites using drugs as African American," the report read. "However our analyses indicate that African Americans are admitted to prison for drug offenses at nearly 10 times the rate of whites."

JPI's study is one of many that have made the same point about adverse affects of the drug war and the delusions of the prohibitionists. We should have learned long ago that prohibition and crime are mutually reinforcing.

That symbiotic relationship is crippling much of the black community.

On a weekly talk show I host on Chicago's only black-owned radio station (WVON-AM), the callers' most consistent complaint is about neighborhoods brimming with ex-inmates seeking capital but lacking skills. This is another part of the deadly formula keeping much of black America in a descending spiral. That descent will pull all of America down, but many Americans are unaware of the danger.

We have heard much about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but little has been said about a domestic policy that is endangering this nation's future by threatening black America's viability.

Expressing the urgency of this task has been left to fringe candidates, such as the libertarian Paul, the Green Party's Cynthia McKinney or the independent Ralph Nader.

But the crisis demands mainstream attention because change won't come until the new president ends the drug war and, with Congress, channels massive investment into education and employment.

Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times, where he has worked since 1983, and where this article was published. He is currently a Crime and Communities Media Fellow of the Open Society Institute, examining the impact of ex-inmates and gang leaders in leadership positions in the black community.


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