This Just In
(1)State Rule Clarifies 60-Day Supply of Medical Marijuana
(2)Bike Gang Says It's Seen Light
(3)Mexican President Proposes Decriminalizing Some Drugs
(4)Editorial: Yes on Prop 1: Allow Seriously Ill People the Relief Marijuana

Hot Off The 'Net
-When The Crazies Came Out To Play / Pete Guither
-Survey Finds 70% Of Likely Voters Believe War On Drugs Is Failing
-The Global Cannabis Commission
-Marijuana Is Real Medicine / By Paul Krassner
-The House Of Death / By Radley Balko
-Drug Truth Network

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 3 Oct 2008
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Sara Jean Green, Seattle Times staff reporter

A new rule determining how much pot constitutes a 60-day supply for medical-marijuana users was finalized on Thursday, a decade after Washington voters passed an initiative legalizing marijuana for people suffering from terminal and debilitating illnesses.

The new state rule, which goes into effect Nov. 2, sets the supply limit at 24 ounces of usable marijuana plus 15 plants. Those who need more marijuana to manage their pain will have to prove they need it -- though how they would do that remains unclear.

While the new, 60-day-supply rule is meant to clarify the law and help police officers determine legitimate amounts, medical-marijuana advocates say the amounts are unreasonable -- especially the 15-plant limit -- and put patients at risk of criminal prosecution.

In King County, though, that's not going to happen, said Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, who has met with local law-enforcement officials and created an office policy that looks upon medical-marijuana cases "with a very lenient eye."



Pubdate: Thu, 02 Oct 2008
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2008 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Mike McIntyre

Group's Revival Nothing To Fear: Spokesman

This time, they promise to come in peace.

The resurgence of the notorious Rock Machine motorcycle gang in Canada - -- eight years after they vanished following a long and bloody war with the Hells Angels in Quebec -- is no reason for police or the public to be alarmed, the group's spokesman insists.

That's because they claim to be more interested in selling you a house than pushing drugs in your neighbourhood.

"There's lots of money to be made legally. The real estate market is looking really good right now," long-time biker "J.D.", who didn't want his full name published for security concerns, told the Free Press this week in a telephone interview from his Saskatchewan home.

"We're just trying to be a law-abiding alternative to the Hells Angels. We're not going to be competing with anybody. If you get caught selling drugs, you're kicked out. Losers sell drugs."

The Rock Machine had been off the national criminal radar until recently. But last month, two members of the Australian chapter sparked concern when they showed up at the Winnipeg airport claiming they were headed out to the Interlake for a week-long fishing trip.




Pubdate: Fri, 3 Oct 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Details: Authors: Elisabeth Malkin and Marc Lacey

MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderon, who has made fighting drug traffickers the centerpiece of his administration, proposed legislation on Thursday that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cocaine and other drugs for addicts who agreed to undergo treatment.

Mr. Calderon said that the proposal was intended to attack the growing problem of drug addiction in Mexico. Still, it will probably be controversial both at home and abroad. A similar measure two years ago provoked strong opposition from the United States and was eventually dropped.

A recent government survey found that the number of drug addicts in Mexico had almost doubled in the past six years to 307,000, while the number of those who had tried drugs rose to 4.5 million from 3.5 million.

Drugs used to flow through Mexico to the United States, and they still do, but an increasing amount of those narcotics now stays in Mexico to feed the habits of domestic consumers.

Under Mr. Calderon's proposal, Mexican authorities would not prosecute people found to be carrying small amounts of drugs if they declared they were addicts and submitted to a treatment program.

Those who are not addicts could avoid prosecution by entering a prevention program. Fines could be imposed for those who declined to enter such programs.

The new legislation caps the quantities that would not be subject to prosecution at 50 milligrams of heroin, 2 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine.

The Mexican attorney general's office has said that it is so overwhelmed with prosecuting organized crime that it cannot handle the large number of small-time drug cases.


Responding to Mr. Calderon's plan, American officials said Thursday that United States policy opposed the legalization of even small amounts of drugs. "It rewards the drug traffickers and doesn't make children's lives safer," said an American official, who asked not to be identified.




Pubdate: Thu, 2 Oct 2008
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2008 Detroit Free Press

If people who are seriously or chronically ill can convince their doctors that using marijuana will make them feel better, the State of Michigan should not stand in the way. Proposal 1 on the statewide ballot Nov. 4 would allow Michigan residents to cultivate and possess small amounts of marijuana for medical reasons with a doctor's approval. Voters should say yes to this proposal, which was placed on the ballot by a petition campaign that collected almost 378,000 signatures.

This is not about drug use. It's about compassion. The initiative would amend Michigan law to allow seriously ill people to seek authorization from a doctor to grow up to a dozen marijuana plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of the weed, strictly for personal use. The continuing, regulated sale of alcoholic beverages poses more of a problem for society than will passage of this law.

Voters in five Michigan cities -- Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Ferndale and Traverse City -- and a dozen other states have already approved similar statutes without the dire consequences forecast by federal drug-control authorities who fear the start of a slippery slope toward broad drug legalization.





A drug reform initiative in California finds some support and some opposition as election day draws closer.

In Canada, a perfect illustration of the "balloon principle," which suggests that cracking down on illegal drugs in one area simply displaces the drug activity to another area (like the air in a balloon, which simply stretches the balloon in another place if the balloon is squeezed). As one crime-prone area is cleaned-up, problems pop up elsewhere. And the same approaches are tried again... And, finally, some smart thoughts on prohibition on a college campus.


Pubdate: Wed, 1 Oct 2008
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Appeal-Democrat

Opponents of Proposition 5, a modest reform of California's drug laws and parole practices designed in part to help alleviate the woeful crowding of the state prison system, paint a scary picture of what will happen if voters approve this measure. Parole for methamphetamine dealers will be shortened from three years to six months! Lock the doors!

Well, yes, the measure will reduce parole to six months from three years for a wide range of nonviolent crimes, reducing the stress on the parole system. But parole eligibility for certain violent crimes actually will be increased, in some cases from the current maximum of four years to five years. So if that former meth dealer -- who will have actually undergone drug treatment and education while in prison - -- does anything violent, it's back to prison.

Prop. 5 would expand drug treatment for nonviolent drug offenders and reduce the use of incarceration as a way to deal with addicts and other drug users. It builds on Prop. 36, which voters passed in 2000 and which puts certain nonviolent drug users into rehabilitation rather than jail or prison. Prop. 36 has saved taxpayers about $2 billion and graduated 84,000 people with drug problems from rehabilitation programs. It hasn't been perfect, but it has been productive. Prop. 5 would build on that success.

Prop. 5 would increase the number of nonviolent drug offenders, including vulnerable young people, who receive rehabilitation rather than imprisonment. It would require prisons to offer drug rehabilitation programs, which most do not do presently.




Pubdate: Sun, 28 Sep 2008
Source: Daily Democrat (Woodland, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Democrat
Authors: David Rosenberg and Janet Gaard

Normally, judges take no positions on propositions. However, when ballot measures directly impact the administration of justice, Judges can and do voice their opinions. Proposition 5 will be on the November ballot and calls itself the "Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act." It purports to support drug courts and rehabilitation, but it doesn't accomplish the mission. We write this op-ed article as concerned Judges of the Yolo Superior Court who are or have been actively involved in running drug courts. In our opinion, this proposition will have a serious and negative impact on the administration of justice in California. There are literally dozens of defects in this complex proposal - too numerous to detail in this brief op-ed piece. Here are some of the more significant defects we see in this proposition:

. This is an initiative written by an advocacy group. It is very long, encompassing 36 single-spaced pages in a relatively small font. It makes intricate and detailed amendments to a significant number of existing statutes and executive policies. We doubt that 5 percent of the voters of California will have read the entire text of this new law before they vote on it. Is this a good way to make state law?

. Prop. 5 imposes dramatically increased workloads on Courts and Judges without providing any increase in the number of Judges or needed funding. The increased cost to the Los Angeles Superior Court alone has been calculated at $63 million per year with an additional 183,000 hearings required. Orange County estimates that its caseload will increase some 300 percent.




Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Kathy Michaels

While the red zone may have helped ebb the tide of criminal behaviour in Kelowna's most highly trod areas, it subsequently helped ramp up the number of crimes in neighbourhoods outside its downtown boundaries.

The red zone is an area of downtown Kelowna created by the RCMP where known criminals, drug dealers, drug addicts and the homeless are prohibited.

It's an issue that was brought to the forefront last week when Kelowna resident David Post was attacked by apparent drug users outside his home in the area of Kelglen Street and Richmond Avenue. At that time, Post expressed his frustration with the increasing number of drug users in his neighbourhood, and put together a community meeting to deal with the issue.

RCMP have been aware of the displacement problem for some time, and in the past couple of weeks they've been moving ahead to create an "orange zone," which will essentially work the same as the already established red-zone, explained superintendent Bill McKinnon.

"Because of the number of incidents we are repeatedly having with the homeless, and drug-addicted we established the orange zone for that high crime area," he said.




Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: Brown Daily Herald, The (Brown, RI Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Brown Daily Herald
Author: Sarah Husk

Libertarian Favors Legalization

After growing up with "Just Say No" with television commercials imploring them to be "Above the Influence," today's college students have spent their youths grounded in America's so-called "war on drugs." But on Tuesday night, students filled List Auditorium to hear one man's take on exactly why the whole campaign makes no sense.

Jeffrey Miron, Harvard economics professor, outspoken libertarian and staunch advocate of drug legalization, told his audience that since his positions tend to be unpopular, he gets a "weird feeling" when an audience agrees with him.

Miron focused his lecture on deconstructing the liberal and libertarian arguments on drug policy, and differentiating them on the basis of liberals' interest in decriminalization versus libertarians' agenda to legalize them completely.




In Louisiana, a group of narcotics officers was so corrupt the system is still trying to sort out the damage they did. In Oregon, a push for more jails and jail time for non-violent offenders. In Mexico, the violent atrocities allegedly committed by drug cartels continue to get worse. And in Canada, prohibition turns a bike gang into big business.


Pubdate: Mon, 29 Sep 2008
Source: Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)
Copyright: 2008 The Times-Picayune

The raid on Russell's Tire Shop had the look of a successful garden-variety drug bust.

Acting on an informant's tip, police stormed the building on North Galvez Street and hauled out three suspects, a bag of heroin, a quarter-ounce of crack cocaine and more than $4,000 in cash. Police say they found the evidence in plain sight.

But 11 months after the August 2002 bust, prosecutors dropped the charges. And this June, attorneys for the city offered the men accused of dealing the drugs $85,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged the four New Orleans police detectives involved in the raid planted the drugs - -- and uprooted the lives of innocent people.

Prosecutors had a problem: In the years since the bust, the police officers involved ran into legal troubles of their own.

One detective tested positive for cocaine and another was caught using a stolen Social Security number to lease a Corvette. A third officer was pulled over in Illinois driving an unauthorized New Orleans Police Department squad car; authorities found him with some marijuana and a woman wanted for prostitution. The fourth detective resigned as police were investigating a stolen gun found in his squad car. All four officers were ultimately fired or quit.

Sharply diverging claims surrounding the 2002 drug bust may never be put to rest; no judge or jury rendered a final judgment. But a look at the raid and its aftermath offers a window into the tactics of one team of narcotics officers -- the kinds of alleged abuses that critics say foster suspicion toward police.



 (10) JAIL JUNKIES  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 1 Oct 2008
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2008 Willamette Week Newspaper
Author: Nigel Jaquiss

Who Knows More About Stopping Property Crime: Kevin Mannix or an Ex-Addict WHO Stole 1,000 Cars?

Kevin Mannix, meet John Goodman.

Twelve years ago, Mannix was a Democrat and a candidate for Oregon attorney general.

Twelve years ago, Goodman was a hardcore drug addict who financed his habit with other people's property.

"I broke into way more than 500 houses," Goodman claims. "And I stole maybe 1,000 cars."

Both, you could say, are adaptable creatures.

The Queens, N.Y.-born Mannix switched parties in 1997 and became a Republican. The former legislator ran unsuccessfully for higher office several times, built a law practice and is once again in the headlines thanks to Measure 61--his tough-on-crime initiative that is among the most costly measures on the crowded November ballot.

Measure 61 would mandate minimum sentences of 14 to 36 months for a batch of property and drug--i.e., nonviolent--crimes, including those committed by first offenders.

The measure would require more than $1 billion to build new prisons, according to state estimates, and another $200 million annually to operate them. And the measure would lead to the imprisonment of about 5,000 more Oregonians--boosting the prison population by more than one-third.




Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey

MEXICO CITY -- When Mexican homicide investigators pull up at the scene of the latest drug-related slaughter, they go through a mental checklist: How many corpses? What sort of wounds? And, finally, where is the note scrawled by the killers?

Mexico's drug violence seems to be spiraling out of control, with each mass killing followed by an even gorier one and innocents increasingly falling victim to traffickers' ruthlessness. Yet there is often a sinister order to the chaos, as killers in Mexico's drug war frequently leave a calling card with the bodies that spells out a motive for the massacre, or at least their version of it.

That is what has the authorities here puzzling over the two grenades that were hurled into a crowd of innocent revelers in Michoacan State on Independence Day last week, which killed eight people ( a 13-year-old boy succumbed to his injuries on Saturday ) and wounded more than 100 more. In this case, nobody has claimed responsibility for it. In fact, just the opposite has occurred. La Familia, a violent drug gang based in Michoacan that the authorities have suggested might be responsible, has gone to extraordinary lengths to distance itself from the unprecedented attack on innocents, which has long been considered ungentlemanly behavior among cartel killers.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Authors: Peter Edwards, and Peter Small

Many Multinational Companies Would 'Envy' Hells Angels' Structure, Jurist Notes In His Ruling

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a highly structured criminal organization that's better run than many multinational corporations, says a Toronto judge.

Justice John McMahon of Ontario Superior Court ruled yesterday that the outlaw biker organization has a "vertical corporate structure" that "would be the envy of many international corporations."

He made the comments in the trial of Kenneth ( Wags ) Wagner, 43, of the Hells Angels Niagara chapter, who was found guilty of trafficking drugs and a pistol for a criminal enterprise.

The judge's finding that the Canadian Hells Angels are a criminal organization supports a landmark ruling in Barrie, Ont., by Madam Justice Michelle Fuerst during a 2005 extortion trial.

Yesterday, McMahon told court that one of the reasons he concluded the Hells Angels are a criminal enterprise in Canada is because the club actively gathers intelligence on its enemies, including police.

In his ruling, the judge noted a police report that states Ontario Hells Angels maintain photos and lists of police officers and rival bikers, and information on officers' wives.




Arnold Schwarzenegger killed a bill introduced by our friend Mark Leno that would have allowed medicinal cannabis consumers to test positive in the workplace without fear of termination.

One wonders if and when the costs of cannabis prohibition, and the foregone tax revenue, will become more than struggling taxpayers are willing to prioritize.

For those more interested in jurisprudence than economics, an interesting case from British Columbia, where a provincial court has ruled that promoting public health and safety is no excuse for selling cannabis to consenting adults.

Ending on a positive note, the WAMM Festival was a great success in Santa Cruz, after organizers and authorities found a way to accommodate medicinal cannabis consumers at the family event.


Pubdate: Thu, 2 Oct 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill sponsored by medical marijuana advocates that would have protected most employees from being fired for testing positive for pot that they used outside the workplace with their doctor's approval.

The measure, AB2279 by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would have overturned a state Supreme Court ruling in January that allowed employers to punish workers for using medical marijuana that was legalized by a state ballot measure in 1996. Under Leno's measure, the only workers who could have been fired for using medical marijuana would have been those in safety-related or law-enforcement jobs.

In its 5-2 ruling, the Supreme Court said the initiative, Proposition 215, exempted medical marijuana patients and their caregivers from state prosecution, but wasn't intended to limit an employer's authority to fire workers for violating federal drug laws.

Schwarzenegger used the same rationale in his veto message Tuesday.

"I am concerned with interference in employment decisions as they relate to marijuana use," the governor wrote. "Employment protection was not a goal of the initiative as passed by voters in 1996."

Medical marijuana supporters disagreed.




Pubdate: Tue, 30 Sep 2008
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Chris Rickert
Cited: Cited:

President Bush and the two leading presidential contenders were urging lawmakers to take one for the good of the country Tuesday and pass a highly unpopular Wall Street bailout package.

Some drug-reform advocates, meanwhile, were suggesting that a better way out of the current financial mess would be to toke one for the country.

"Society could get a great deal of funding by bringing cannabis into our society," said Gary Storck, co-founder of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

More specifically, legalizing and taxing marijuana and industrial hemp could open up a lucrative revenue stream and help offset a $700 billion taxpayer outlay to save the country's financial system.

"Why not look at it?" said Storck, who likens the idea to President Roosevelt's support for ending prohibition during the Depression. "We need the money. How else are we going to get it?"

The possible fiscal boon of legalizing marijuana has long been an argument put forth by NORML and like-minded groups, who point to studies showing that the government could be billions of dollars to the good if it taxed the plant and ended its marijuana-related law enforcement efforts.

Bruce Mirken, director of communications with the Washington, D.C.- based Marijuana Policy Project, said legalization and regulation could mean between $10 billion and $40 billion a year to state and federal budgets.

"The bottom line is we have a very large industry in this country ... that is entirely untaxed and unregulated," he said.




Pubdate: Mon, 29 Sep 2008
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Nelson Daily News
Author: Colin Payne

Legalization Fight: Judge shoots down defence arguments in case involving downtown Nelson business; prosecutor says no remorse from four men should lead to a harsh sentence

A guilty verdict came down Friday in Nelson Provincial Court for the four men charged with marijuana trafficking out of the Holy Smoke Culture Shop on Baker Street in Nelson.

After the guilty verdict, three of the four men could be looking at spending nine months to a year in jail when they head back to court for sentencing in two weeks time.

Holy Smoke co-owners, Alan Middlemiss and Paul DeFelice and sales associates Kelsey Stratas and Akka Annis were each charged with two counts of trafficking cannabis after the Nelson Police Department raided the store on July 15, 2006 and said they found a pound and a half of marijuana and between $8,000 and $9,000 in cash.

When the four men went to court in late-April 2008 to face their charges, they did not deny the charges, but instead admitted to selling marijuana from the shop as a way to provide a safe, quality product to adults, and to provide easy access to those who use marijuana for medical purposes.

In an effort to show just cause for the marijuana sale, Don Skogstad, attorney for the four men, brought in witnesses such as recovering drug addicts who stated that marijuana helped them get off hard drugs, people with chronic illnesses who bought pot from the shop to help them deal with their diseases, and expert witness, Dr. Robert Melamede of the University of Colorado, who testified about the effects of marijuana on the human body.

They also argued that they initially started selling marijuana out of the store in an effort to stop the drug dealing activities taking place in the community park next to the business, and to ensure that people were getting safe, quality marijuana - instead of getting pot laced with hard drugs like crystal meth.




Pubdate: Sun, 28 Sep 2008
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Alia Wilson, Sentinel Staff Writer
Cited: WAMMfest

SANTA CRUZ - Thousands of medicinal marijuana patients and supporters attended WAMMfest to celebrate and learn about the herbal medicine Saturday.

Though medical marijuana patients were able to smoke their medicine at the event that featured music, crafts and speeches, that portion of the festivities was in question until this week. After failing to muster the votes to lift the city smoking ban in parks in a prior meeting, the council Tuesday agreed to do so. Only those with a medical marijuana identification card were allowed to smoke in a specially-designated tent Saturday.

Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana co-founder Valerie Corral said the event is an opportunity to normalize the use of medicinal marijuana and bring its members' stories to the public eye.

"Almost 200 of our members have died in the past 15 years since our inception," said Corral. "We do this work for a lot of reasons and for all aspects of illness. We get to be with people at the most important time in their lives when they are facing death. We are here to take care of each other and to be by their bedside and it takes you to places you can't even imagine."

WAMM is a collective of patients and caregivers that offers free medical marijuana to seriously ill patients with a doctor's recommendation and aims to, provide hope and build community.

Santa Cruz police reported that there were no problems during the event, and that the festival provided its own security.


Councilman Tony Madrigal, who spoke at the event, said he was happy the council was able find a compromise that allowed patients to use their medication in a controlled, confined and secure area, while still taking part in a community event.

"This is an example of the community working together with the local government to find a solution for many of the problems the city faces," Madrigal said. "People are loyal to WAMM and come to celebrate the good work that WAMM does."




In Mexico, the aftermath of a September 15 grenade attack by assumed drug cartels leaves Presidente Calderon with little choice but to continue to escalate the bloody conflict. "[N]either the government nor the public can turn back," asserts the Mexican El Universal paper. Even the government admits "drug gangs have infiltrated police forces." According to the Los Angeles Times, the "Legalization" word has been mentioned - if only in hushed whispers. But the Mexican leader will have none of that. "Since the Sept. 15 attack in Morelia, the president and top aides have vowed to continue their crackdown."

In Canada, with less than two weeks to the federal elections, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is again anxiously seeking scapegoats to denounce, so that he may "solve" the problem with more punishments. Harper continually says that people aren't punished enough for his liking, and has proposed law after law to punish an ever bigger dragnet full of "drug" related criminals, for ever longer jail terms. In a Packet & Times article this week, Carl Garland, a criminal lawyer in Ontario, says that longer jail terms won't solve anything - but drug-rehabilitation can. Harper's "stance is political theatre; an effort to play to a specific demographic. It is designed to create an emotional response based on peoples' common sense of justice."

Also this week in Canada, an Abbotsford News piece trots out conservative "tough on crime" mouthpiece Darryl Plecas to attempt to kindle fear of crime in the wake of official crime statistics which show crimes to be falling in Canada. Fear greatly O Canada, because "what about all the crimes that people don't report... the so-called victimless crimes." If longer jail terms for victimless (marijuana) crimes seem to be Plecas' goal, the "RCMP research" chair was emphatic that cannabis decrim was a bogeyman to be denounced: "I am not a fan of decriminalizing marijuana."

And from the U.K., the Guardian newspaper reports that next year's United Nations Global Cannabis Commission review will say regulating cannabis and allowing it to be sold to adults would be less harmful than the current prohibition. States the report: "Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco." Expect outrage from prohibitionists, who claim anything but jail for cannabis use sends the wrong message to children.


Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ken Ellingwood, Staff Writer

Though An Attack On Civilians In Morelia Has Tested The Public's Stomach For The Increasingly Savage Conflict, The President Has Little Room To Pull Back From His Crackdown.

MEXICO CITY -- Stretched thin in an uphill battle against drug gangs, the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon faces increasingly stark options at a pivotal moment.

A fatal Sept. 15 grenade attack on civilians in western Mexico, coming on top of a steadily rising death toll nationwide, drastically altered the stakes in the nearly 2-year-old crackdown.

Calderon now has little room to pull back without appearing beaten.


"The violence is not going to stop soon. There will be more actions," political analyst Alfonso Zarate warned last week in the daily El Universal newspaper. "However, neither the government nor the public can turn back."

The crisis has reopened debate over alternatives, including legalizing drugs. Many Mexicans wonder aloud whether Calderon should revert to the practices of earlier governments, led by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, that tolerated traffickers as long as they kept the killings of noncombatants down and bribes up.

Calderon's aides have publicly ruled out any peace deals with the drug underworld.

"There are two options: to fight it or not fight it," security analyst Jorge Chabat wrote in El Universal last week.

Walking away from the battle would worsen corruption and could leave the Mexican government critically weakened, he said. Staying with the crackdown will almost surely mean more bloodshed.


But in raising the specter of a possible terrorism campaign, the grenade attack has left Mexicans feeling more at risk than at any time since Calderon launched the offensive.


Although polls show most Mexicans support the crackdown, they also indicate that people increasingly question whether this type of campaign can succeed.


Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino also confirmed what everybody already suspected: that drug gangs have infiltrated police forces so thoroughly that authorities can't fully guarantee public safety. And he expressed concern that drug money could make its way into midterm congressional elections in July.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2008
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.

Criminal lawyer Carl Garland is correct.

When it comes to fighting crime in this region, and probably across the country, we don't need longer jail sentences. We need effective drug-rehabilitation and crime prevention programs.

Garland is as familiar with the local face of crime as any individual in this community. This week he soundly criticized the federal Conservative strategy calling for tougher sentences as a way of battling crime.

The Conservative plan includes stiffer sentences for gun crimes, a crack down on drug-impaired driving offences, changing conditional sentencing options for violent offenders and lifting the ban on naming teenagers convicted of serious crimes.


Garland argues that the big problem is drug addiction. He says deterrence just doesn't figure into the consciousness of someone who can't think beyond the next fix of crack.

The Conservative stance is political theatre; an effort to play to a specific demographic. It is designed to create an emotional response based on peoples' common sense of justice.

It has little to do with fighting crime and everything to do with winning an election.




Pubdate: Sat, 27 Sep 2008
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Abbotsford News
Author: Kevin Mills

Do you think we live in a safe community? If you do, you may be fooling yourself.

In his presentation entitled Let's Stop Being Stupid About Crime, Dr. Darryl Plecas - a 29 year veteran of the UFV criminology department, director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Research, and RCMP research chair in crime reduction - told the crowd at Wednesday's Chamber luncheon that when it comes to crime statistics, we may not be as safe as we thought.


And Canada's crime rate gets even worse if you factor in other data.

"What about all the crimes that people don't report," asked Plecas. "The so-called victimless crimes."


During a brief question period, Plecas was asked if he felt the legalization of marijuana and other drugs would help decrease the number of crimes.

"I am not a fan of decriminalizing marijuana," he said.


- - There are 20,000 grow ops in B.C. right now.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Oct 2008
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Duncan Campbell

A report on cannabis prepared for next year's UN drug policy review will suggest that a "regulated market" would cause less harm than the current international prohibition. The report, which is likely to reopen the debate about cannabis laws, suggests that controls such as taxation, minimum age requirements and labelling could be explored.

The Global Cannabis Commission report, which will be launched today at a conference in the House of Lords, has reached conclusions which its authors suggest "challenge the received wisdom concerning cannabis". It was carried out for the Beckley foundation, a UN-accredited NGO, for the 2009 UN strategic drug policy review.

There are, according to the report, now more than 160 million users of the drug worldwide. "Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," according to the report.


The report, compiled by a group of scientists, academics and drug policy experts, suggests that much of the harm associated with cannabis use is "the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment." Policies that control cannabis, whether draconian or liberal, appear to have little impact on the prevalence of consumption, it concluded.


The authors suggest there is evidence that "the current system of cannabis regulation is not working, and ... there needs to be a serious rethink if we are to minimise the harms caused by cannabis use."


The report is being launched at a two-day conference, which will be attended by leading figures in the drugs policy world.

The conclusions are unlikely to be embraced by the government or the Conservative party, both of which are opposed to relaxing restrictions on cannabis use.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Pete Guither, Drug War Rant -

We've talked a little bit about the World Forum Against Drugs held in Sweden earlier in September, and their bizarre declaration.

But there's so much more to ridicule...


UTICA, New York - The views of likely voters on issues involving other countries in the Western Hemisphere, including the war on drugs, immigration, and relations with Cuba, are often in contrast with current U.S. policies, a new Zogby /Inter-American Dialogue interactive survey shows


The Cannabis Commission is an international group of academics and experts in drug policy analysis, commissioned by the Beckley Foundation to produce a Report on cannabis policy in a global perspective.


By Paul Krassner, Huffington Post

The stories of the medicinal properties of pot will blow you away.


An interview with DEA whistleblower Sandy Gonzalez

Radley Balko


Century of Lies - 09/30/08 - Kurt Schmoke

Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, Deborah Peterson Small of, Dr. Donald Vareen of NIDA + DTN Premiere of country version of Eternal War

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 10/01/08 - David Bratzer

David Bratzer, an active Victoria B.C. constable and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition



The 7 State Ballot Propositions And Proposals. A DrugSense Focus Alert.


The Canadian government continues to resist evidence of the success of Canada's supervised injection project, Insite. Sign a petition calling on the Canadian federal government to accept a recent British Columbia Supreme Court decision supporting Insite, accept the results of studies affirming Insite's success, and expand the provision of safe injection sites to ensure access to basic health care by all Canadian citizens.



By Terry Nelson

A state-funded task force, the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, operates out of Bemidji and includes officers from many local city and county jurisdictions.

I find this story fascinating in that the task force is named after a mythical person who hung out with a mythical ox because all the information in the article, while possibly true, is based on the myth that we will ever "win" this crazy war.

I am a retired federal agent with more than three decades of service to my country in this failed effort. It was initially hard for me to admit that we had failed and that we could never win. Perhaps if we had not called it a "war" then we could have changed our policy once we saw that it would not work. I am now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Our 10,000-member organization consists of police, judges, lawyers, prison wardens and the general public.

Strategic findings of the NDIC 2008 report on drugs:

. Potential South American cocaine production increased in 2006 as Colombian coca growers adapted their growing practices to counter intensified coca eradication.

. High levels of cocaine-related crime, rates of abuse, and overdose incidents are a considerable burden to the nation -- a condition not likely to diminish in the near term.

So, all the effort of your drug task force to seize a mere few kilo of cocaine when more than 2.1 million pounds of cocaine is produced annually is laughable. Colombia has seen an increase of approximately 27 percent in their production and this after the United States spent $5.2 billion on Plan Colombia ( a plan to eradicate cocaine by aerial spraying ).

There are more drugs available, of higher purity and cheaper price than at the beginning of the current "war on drugs" in the early '80s. We have spent over $1 trillion on this war and have absolutely nothing to show for it except prisons bursting at the seams. We have 2.2 million people incarcerated and 1.8 million of them are for non-violent drug offenses. That is what we call success in this drug war.

LEAP calls for a policy change to one of regulation and control to replace the current failed public policy called the "War on Drugs."

Terry Nelson Granbury, Texas

Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2008
Source: Bemidji Pioneer (MN)



By Tony Newman, AlterNet

I know a lot about drugs and the drug war, both personally and professionally. Drugs have had, at alternating times, a positive and a detrimental impact on my life. I have laughed, relaxed and found inspiration while intoxicated. I have also struggled, fought and become despondent because of my addiction to drugs (think cigarettes).

I have spent the last eight years working at the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization working to reform drug laws. With the economic crisis in the United States dominating the news, I find myself wondering what the impact will be on people's drug use and our country's drug policies. Here are some of my reflections on these uncertain and stressful times and how my fellow Americans' drug use may be affected.

People Use Drugs for Joy and Pain, in Good Times and Bad

The New York Times Style Section had a story on September 21st about the bars on Wall Street being packed during the crazy ups and downs of the last couple of weeks. One man was quoted as saying that he and his friends came to drink when something great happened or when something terrible happened. Basically, people drink to celebrate the good and drown out the bad. People are losing their homes, their jobs and their life-savings. I have to believe that the fear and anxiety being felt by so many will lead to increased use of alcohol and other drugs to calm fears or numb pain.

We Will Likely Continue or Increase Some Drug Use and Give up Others

With people struggling to pay the bills, most of us will have to make some sacrifices and cut back on some of our expenses. For many of us, our drugs will not be one of the items cut from our lives. There have been stories about alcohol and cigarette sales holding strong, even in bad times. Many of us will still have our vodka sodas or wine, but we will drink them at home instead of paying triple the price for a drink at the local bar.

While some people feel dependent on their drugs, others who use drugs more recreationally may curb some of their drug use. I have been to spots in New York where people are out on the town and using cocaine. Some people may hold off on dropping 50 bucks for a drug they could take or leave. Some people who only smoke cigarettes socially ("only when I drink"), may stop paying nine bucks for a pack of smokes. For others, cigarettes would be purchased at any cost.

Getting Your Drugs from the Pharmacy or the Street

Despite a $40 billion-a-year "war on drugs" and political speeches about a "drug-free society," our society is swimming in drugs: cigarettes, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, Viagra, steroids and caffeine. The vast majority of Americans use drugs on a regular basis. Some people get their sleeping pills or uppers at a pharmacy. Others get them on the street. If more and more people lose jobs and/or health insurance we may see a shift from pharmacy drugs to illicit drugs. Alcohol or marijuana may be a cheaper sleeping aid or anti-anxiety drugs than their prescribed competitors.

Will the Budget Crisis Lead to Smarter and More Cost-Effective Drug Policy?

There are reasons for hope and concern when it comes to our elected officials advocating for cost-effective and money-saving drug policy strategies during the budget crisis. The fear is that treatment and prevention programs will continue to be cut as states look for ways to balance their budgets. On the flip side, states can save millions of dollars by implementing and funding treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. "Tough on Crime" rhetoric is cheap, but paying $40,000 per person to lock someone in a cage is not. It could be a win-win solution for states to offer treatment instead of jail for those struggling with addiction. This policy would save money and lives. Hopefully the economic savings will get our leaders to do what they already should have been doing, treat substance abuse as a public health issue instead of criminal justice one.

Bottom Line: Drugs Aren't Going Anywhere

The drug war has been waged over the last 30 years, during good economic times and bad. Currently we have 500,000 people behind bars on drug charges. Despite decades of war, incarceration rates and billions of dollars spent, drugs are as plentiful as ever and easily accessible. We have to accept that drugs have been around for thousands of years and will be here for thousands more. We need to educate people about the possible harm from drug use, offer compassion and treatment to people who have problems, and leave in peace the people who are causing harm to no one.

Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance,


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