This Just In
(1)Oldest Stash of Marijuana Unearthed in Ancient Tomb
(2)Afghanistan: U.N. Reports That Taliban Is Stockpiling Opium
(3)AS Teachers' Union Sues Over Drug Testing, County Wants To Expand
(4)Column: Bill 50 Is Set To Take The Air Out Of Drunk Drivers' Tires

Hot Off The 'Net
-Obama's Drug Czar Pick / By Maia Szalavitz
-Willie Nelson On A Colbert Christmas
-27 Years In Prison For A Nonviolent Offense / By Hamedah Hasan
-President Bush Commutes John Forte's Sentence
-Drug Truth Network
-The Kids Are Alright -- The SSDP 10Th International Conference
-It Isn't About No-Knocks. It's About Home Invasions / Radley Balko
-Lords Jump On The Canna-Panic Bandwagon

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 28 Nov 2008
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2008 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Dean Beeby, Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Researchers say they have located the world's oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China.

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China. The extremely dry conditions and alkaline soil acted as preservatives, allowing a team of scientists to carefully analyze the stash, which still looked green though it had lost its distinctive odour.

"To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent," says the newly published paper, whose lead author was American neurologist Dr. Ethan B. Russo.

Remnants of cannabis have been found in ancient Egypt and other sites, and the substance has been referred to by authors such as the Greek historian Herodotus. But the tomb stash is the oldest so far that could be thoroughly tested for its properties.

The 18 researchers, most of them based in China, subjected the cannabis to a battery of tests, including carbon dating and genetic analysis. Scientists also tried to germinate 100 of the seeds found in the cache, without success.

The marijuana was found to have a relatively high content of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, but the sample was too old to determine a precise percentage.




Pubdate: Fri, 28 Nov 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Kirk Kraeutler

UNITED NATIONS -- Afghanistan has produced so much opium in recent years that the Taliban are cutting poppy cultivation and stockpiling raw opium in an effort to support prices and preserve a major source of financing for the insurgency, Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations drug office, says.

Mr. Costa made his remarks to reporters last week as his office prepared to release its latest survey of Afghanistan's opium crop. Issued Thursday, it showed that poppy cultivation had retreated in much of the country and was now overwhelmingly concentrated in the 7 of 34 provinces where the insurgency remains strong, most of those in the south.

The result was a 19 percent reduction in the amount of land devoted to opium in Afghanistan, the United Nations found, even though the total tonnage of opium produced dropped by just 6 percent.

The high output per acre was attributed to a good growing season in the south, a heavily irrigated area where the Taliban maintain a strong presence in five provinces and have for several years "systematically encouraged" opium cultivation as a way to finance their insurgency, the study said.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Nov 2008
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2008 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Ry Rivard

The Kanawha County Commission may join forces with the county school system in a legal fray and begin drug testing more, if not most, of its employees.

Its president, Kent Carper, wants the commission to expand its random drug-testing policy to include employees who handle money and records or deal with the public. This could include accountants, clerical workers and housing inspectors.

The commission already randomly tests "safety sensitive" county employees who operate vehicles and equipment or have firearms. Those categories include about 170 of its 417 employees.

Carper hopes the commission will join with the school board -- a separate entity that is not controlled by the commission -- to fight what may be a long and costly legal battle over the school system's new policy to randomly drug test teachers.

Carper said the outcome of a lawsuit filed by one teachers union would affect the county commission's current policy, the expanded policy he hopes to put in place, and drug testing policies around the state.

"To believe that the final result of this lawsuit will not affect and set the road map, the rules of the road, for drug testing public employees, you'd have to be naive," he said.

County commissioner Dave Hardy said that while he supports the Kanawha County school board's endeavor to implement what he calls a well-thought out testing policy, he doesn't want the commission to "jump on the bandwagon and make a rash decision" that could cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Nov 2008
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 The Calgary Sun
Author: Michael Platt

Somewhere in Alberta, sometime in the near future, a drunk driver is going to lose his car -- not for the night, not for a few days, but forever.

Gone, sold, no more car.

That's the theory and, at least for now, it's the law.

Drunk-driving deterrence is what Minister of Justice Alison Redford hopes is one result of a weighty piece of legislation called the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act, more easily stated as Bill 50.

Passed by the Alberta legislature on Tuesday, Bill 50 amends the existing rules to allow courts to seize and auction property connected to crime.

That's crime, as in any crime -- and that's what has the teeth of this particular law jutting out like the fangs of a sabre-tooth tiger.

If it's deemed a criminal act in Alberta, any property associated with said behaviour is fair game to be taken away and sold.





As another series of reports demonstrating the failure of the drug war is ignored by governments around the world, the U.S. government has take on a new strategy that will surely save us all from demon drugs: imprisoning makers of prosthetic penis devices. And, in Canada, a study suggests methadone might help cocaine users who are trying to quit.


Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 The Edmonton Journal

NEW YORK - Two men who sold prosthetic penises enabling drug cheats to give fake urine samples have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday.

Gerald Wills and Robert Catalano, the president and vice-president of Puck Technology, entered guilty pleas Monday at a federal court in Pittsburgh.

They were charged last month with selling the Whizzinator penis -- a lifelike device used to emit clean, realistically warm urine instead of the user's true urine.




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Mark Landler

WASHINGTON -- With the election of Barack Obama, the United States has a fresh chance to reinvigorate its relations with Latin America, according to a new report that recommends Washington overhaul its drug policies at home and pursue a rapprochement with Cuba.

The report, compiled by prominent former policy-makers from the United States and Latin America and scheduled for release on Monday by the Brookings Institution, called on the new administration to put Latin America at the center of its foreign policy radar screen.

Among the most striking recommendations is a near-total reversal in policy toward Cuba. The report advocates lifting all restrictions on travel by Americans, promoting more contacts with Cuban diplomats and taking Cuba off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"This may make the over-40 generation of Cuban-Americans in Miami jump-up-and-down mad, but there is a whole generation of Cuban-Americans who want to change this relationship," said Thomas R. Pickering, a longtime diplomat and former under secretary of state.

Mr. Pickering, who once served as American ambassador to El Salvador, is co-chairman of a commission that produced the report, along with the former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo.

Younger Cuban-Americans, Mr. Pickering said, are less interested in isolating the Castro government than in bettering the conditions of their families still living in Cuba. Lowering barriers between Cuba and the United States, the report says, would enable other voices to emerge there.

The report sets out several other specific and general measures, including Congressional approval of free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and a re-evaluation of American counternarcotics policy -- the war on drugs -- which it condemns as a failure.

"We've been reluctant to acknowledge this in the United States," Mr. Pickering said. "We don't want to shine a spotlight on ourselves; we want to shine it on places where the stuff is coming from."




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 2008
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Diamondback
Author: Allison Stice

Campus Students for Sensible Drug Policy activists said they feel reinvigorated in their fight for campus and national drug policy reform after this weekend's largely successful conference, where members from more than 100 sister chapters across the country, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia gathered to share tips and success stories.

Drug policy activists said they will discuss and improve the campus chapter's battles to implement a Good Samaritan Policy and equalize punishments for marijuana and alcohol violations.

"We're trying a couple different strategies, one of which would involve a coalition of student groups, [Student Government Association] members and members of different boards like the student conduct committee [of the University Senate]," said chapter president Amanda Simmons. "When we do push this through, we want to have all these people on board."

In 2006, the group managed to push a bill that would make marijuana violations on par with alcohol offenses through the SGA and the Residence Halls Association before it was halted by university officials.

"The whole conference gave me a very renewing feeling, because it can get depressing to be involved in this cause when you come up against an administration like ours," said SSDP member Dave Shaughnessy.




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Duncan Smith-Rohrberg Maru

The Key Is Cutting Demand, Not Supply

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, commissioned by Sen. Joe Biden, has come to an unsurprising conclusion: After more than $6 billion spent, the controversial drug control operation known as Plan Colombia has failed by large margins to meet its targets.

The goal had been to cut cocaine production in Colombia by 50 percent from 2000 to 2006 through eradication of coca crops and training of anti-narcotics police and military personnel. In fact, cocaine production in Colombia rose 4 percent during that period, the GAO found. With increases in Peru and Bolivia, production of cocaine in South America increased by 12 percent during that period. In 1999 it cost $142 to buy a gram of cocaine on the street in the United States, according to inflation-adjusted figures from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. By 2006 the price had fallen to $94 per gram. ad_icon

President-elect Barack Obama won his historic victory by promising pragmatic, results-oriented solutions aimed at the common good. The recent report demonstrates that Plan Colombia does not fit those criteria.

The primary lesson for the new administration to take from Plan Colombia's failures is something that many economists have been saying for years: Efforts to decrease the supply of drugs in America without major efforts to curb demand for them will only increase the profits of drug dealers and the associated crime rates.




Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Tom Spears, Canwest News Service

Methadone, a drug used for many years to treat heroin addiction, also appears to work well against cocaine addiction, a new Canadian study suggests.

Psychologist Francesco Leri of the University of Guelph has been making rats addicted to cocaine, and then treating them with methadone.

Most of the rats responded well, he says. They lost their powerful urge for cocaine and, in addition, their brains "re-set" themselves into the same pattern that existed before they first used cocaine.

"It can be done tomorrow with humans, and should be done tomorrow," Leri said.

That's because methadone -- unlike some new drug -- already exists as a tested drug, with clear prescription rules and clinical staff trained in giving it out.




Another week showing little honor and less justice in the drug war.


Pubdate: Sat, 22 Nov 2008
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The spokesman for the family of a 92-year-old woman gunned down by a rogue Atlanta police drug squad two years ago put pressure Friday on city officials to settle their lawsuit against the city.

"This family does not need to go through a long and bitter [court] process,," the Rev. Markel Hutchins said outside the northwest Atlanta home of Kathryn Johnston, pushing for a quick settlement.

The Johnston shooting and the subsequent revelations stunned many Atlantans. On Nov. 21, 2006, police used a "no-knock" warrant to gain entry into Johnston's home. Johnston, apparently surprised by the intruders, fired a gun at the officers. The officers shot her twice in the chest.

An investigation ensued, and officers admitted they cut corners, faked search warrants, planted drugs and raided homes because of pressure from supervisors to make arrests.

Three officers pleaded guilty to violating Johnston's civil rights and are awaiting sentencing. Police Chief Richard Pennington disbanded the department's narcotics unit and filled it last year with a new batch of officers. The Atlanta City Council created a civilian review board to investigate alleged police misconduct.

Johnston's family filed a lawsuit against the city last November. Hutchins said the city has not negotiated in good faith with Johnston family representatives. He delivered a letter Friday afternoon to the mayor and city council offices outlining his concerns.




Pubdate: Sun, 23 Nov 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Guardian News and Media Limited
Authors: Graham Johnson and Mark Townsend, The Observer

Gang bosses John Haase and Paul Bennett posed as supergrasses in an audacious scheme that saw them released from prison less than one year into their 18-year sentences. Graham Johnson and Mark Townsend reveal how these two Liverpool master criminals duped the justice system

They were the brains behind one of the most audacious plots to subvert the criminal justice system. From their prison cells, John Haase and Paul Bennett orchestrated the planting of 35 huge caches of firearms and drugs across the UK in a successful ruse to secure their early release from jail.

Last week the pair were jailed for a total of 42 years for perverting the course of justice. By falsifying evidence on an industrial scale, heroin barons Haase, 59, and Bennett, 44, conned two royal pardons out of the highest powers in the land.

The cast of characters they duped reads like a Who's Who of the justice system: a former Home Secretary and Conservative party leader, a senior High Court judge, operatives of MI5, high-ranking Customs investigators and detectives.

'From inside they were able to arrange the transport, finance, contacts and firearms over a long period of time and at great cost. It was incredible,' said Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Graham McNulty. 'It corrupted the criminal justice system and Home Secretary because the facts were not known to them.'




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 2008
Source: Daily Press (Newport News,VA)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Press
Author: Matthew Sturdevant

The Agency Lied About a 2001 Plane Downing in Peru That Killed a Woman and Her Daughter, a Report Says.

Former Poquoson resident Gloria Luttig learned this week that her daughter's and granddaughter's deaths were shrouded by a CIA cover-up.

"My daughter was murdered. My granddaughter was murdered," Luttig said during a phone interview from her home in Pace, Fla., outside Pensacola.

Veronica L. "Roni" Bowers, 35, was aboard a small floatplane April 20, 2001, flying with her husband and two children from Brazil to their houseboat on the Amazon River in Iquitos, Peru, where they lived and worked as missionaries.

A U.S. anti-drug surveillance plane alerted Peru's military that the Cessna 185 the Bowers were aboard was operating without a flight plan and in airspace frequented by narcotics traffickers -- two allegations that are disputed.

A Peruvian warplane followed and fired shots at the Cessna.

"There was no communication. It happened very fast. The planes flew by first, did some swooping and then came in from behind and started shooting," Veronica's brother-in-law -- Phil Bowers, a pilot who sat with his brother during a government debriefing on the situation -- told The Associated Press in 2001.

One of the bullets hit Veronica in her back, zipped through her body and went into the skull of her infant daughter, Charity, who sat on her mother's lap. Both died.


Excerpts of a Central Intelligence Agency internal investigation released Thursday said the agency tried to hide negligence in the case. The report said agency officials lied to Congress and withheld information from federal investigators -- including senior Bush administration officials -- looking to see whether a crime had been committed by intelligence agents.

Sections of the report were released by Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Veronica and Jim Bowers lived in Hoekstra's district.

Hoekstra's office sent a letter to CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, asking to declassify other parts of the report, which was submitted in August.

The document was turned over to the Justice Department, which closed its investigation into the case in 2005 without any prosecutions. A CIA spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the agency's internal review was "still open" and that no decisions had been made regarding disciplinary action.

As difficult as it is to talk about it, Veronica's family members want the public to know.

And, they said, they want justice.




Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Bob Mitchell, Staff Writer

RCMP-Controlled Cargo Of Bogus Drugs From Peru Went Missing From Airport 12 Hours Later, Court Told

An RCMP-controlled delivery of 88 boxes containing 146 bricks of fake cocaine arrived at Pearson International Airport from Peru on Nov. 16, 2005.

Incredibly, despite being under surveillance, the shipment went missing about 12 hours later, a Brampton court was told yesterday.

"We had no idea where it was," RCMP Staff Sgt. Kevin Nicholson testified.

Some 15 bricks, including one with a tracking device, were later located at the Cambridge residence of Peel police Const. Sheldon Cook.

Federal prosecutors David Rowcliffe and Ania Weiler contend Cook intercepted the shipment after it left the Air Canada cargo warehouse that night, unaware it was part of an RCMP sting, and hid the bricks at his home.




Last week's cannabis headlines reflect the awkward and sometimes absurd logical contortions policy-makers are forced to make as they reconcile zero tolerance with reality.

In Britain, the government seems determined to re-re-classify cannabis, despite a complete lack of evidence to justify such a change and credible warnings from drug policy experts that the move would be counter-productive at best.

A recent court ruling in Canada may have undermined the government's monopoly on medicinal cannabis and opened the door to compassion clubs, dispensaries and commercially viable growing operations.

Dutch mayors have endorsed a pilot project in the city of Eindhoven to see if supplying cannabis coffee shops from state-owned and - operated cannabis farms can drive out underground competition.

The California Supreme Court narrowly redefined the term "caregiver," essentially forcing patients to band together into non-profit growing collectives.


Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2008

LONDON - A group of senior British scientists has condemned the government's push to toughen the penalties for possessing marijuana, saying in a letter published Tuesday the move ignores scientific evidence.

Britain's House of Lords voted to reclassifying the drug Tuesday, and the House of Commons, Britain's powerful lower house, already approved the measure earlier this month and the Lords' vote is seen as a formality.

The Home Office said it expected the change to come into effect in January.

In Britain, drugs are classified into three different categories with "Class A" the most dangerous. Marijuana is currently classified as a "Class C" drug and the change will upgrade it to "Class B" - something the government argues is necessary in part because of the increasing potency of some cannabis varieties.

The change would reverse the relaxation of British cannabis laws in 2004 and ignore the recommendations of a government drug advisory council.

In a letter published in The Guardian newspaper, 10 scientists said the reclassification could be "very damaging" because it sends a confusing message to the public about the true dangers of other "Class B" drugs.

The letter's signatories include Michael Rawlins, former head of the advisory council, and two former chief scientific advisers to the government, David King and Robert May.

"Cannabis use has fallen in recent years, especially following the downgrading to Class C in 2004, and its obviously unwise to risk reversing that trend," the letter said. It said reclassification "would send out an ambiguous message about the dangers of current Class B drugs."


The Home Office has said it wants to send a message to marijuana users that possessing the drug is a serious crime. It said the evidence about the risks of marijuana use was more uncertain now than it had been in the past.



Pubdate: Sun, 23 Nov 2008
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun; Canwest News Service

With the Courts Striking Down the Federal Government's Monopoly on Supplying Medical Marijuana, Private Growers Are Bullish on Pot's Commercial Potential

Eric Nash can barely contain his excitement waiting to hear from Health Canada whether he can start growing marijuana for 250 patients now that the Federal Court of Appeal has struck down the government's monopoly on supplying medical marijuana.

That would be just the start. He says there are tens of thousands more who are ailing across the country, clamouring for his organic B.C. bud.

"There is a great opportunity here for the government to collect significant tax revenue currently being lost to the street market," enthused Nash, whose company, Island Harvest, has cleared the industrial security regulatory hurdles and meets the standards set by Ottawa to grow cannabis legally.

"Our vision is to have a sustainable commercial agriculture operation," he said. "There's no reason we can't achieve that. Look at the number of compassion clubs, look at the number of people using marijuana to relieve a headache or premenstrual cramps!"

On Oct. 27, the federal government lost its appeal of a 2007 Federal Court ruling that the government's policy allowing licensed producers to only grow marijuana for one sick person was unconstitutional. That decision was stayed pending the appeal.

The appeal court agreed with the trial judge -- the medical marijuana scheme was constitutionally deficient -- and refused to suspend the impact of their ruling to give the government time to amend the regulations.

Health Canada spokesman Phillipe Laroche said the department was still studying the ruling and had not decided on its response.


Since the impugned marijuana access scheme is a product of regulation rather than statute, the government can quickly promulgate new rules.

"They could make cosmetic regulatory changes," Nash acknowledged, "which would force another court challenge.

"But I think the judges are pretty fed up with them doing that."



Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 2008
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Vanessa Mock

Plans For Giant Cannabis Farm To Cut Out 'Back-Door' Supply To Coffee Shops

The Dutch city of Eindhoven has caused a stir with a plan to set up a cannabis plantation to supply marijuana to its coffee shops. The move was announced at a "weed summit", when dozens of Dutch mayors urged the government to back the pilot project in an effort to clamp down on the criminals who supply the drug.

The Netherlands, famed for having one of Europe's most tolerant policies on soft drugs, allows for the possession of less than 5g of marijuana and its sale in coffee shops, but bans the cultivation and supply of the drug to these shops. The majority of Dutch mayors say this legal "back door" has spawned an illicit industry worth 2bn (UKP 1.7bn) a year.

"It's time that we experimented with a system of regulated plantations so we can have strict guidelines and controls on the quality and price," Rob de Gijzel, the Mayor of Eindhoven, told the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant. "Authorities must get a grip on the supply of drugs to coffee shops."

There are also concerns about the increasing strength of unregulated cannabis, with the content of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical ingredient, doubling in recent years.

The weed summit was called to thrash out a revamp of drugs policy after the provincial cities Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom announced plans to shut all their coffee shops in the next two years to combat drugs tourism and criminal activity. They complain that the 1.3 million French and Belgians who come every year for a puff of weed or dash of hash are often badly behaved. Worse still, they are targeted by "drugs runners" who lure them away from legal outlets to back-door suppliers that offer harder, illegal drugs.




Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Ukiah Daily Journal

CalNORML Calls It A Blow' To Growers

The California Supreme Court on Monday for the first time defined "caregiver" as it relates to medical marijuana growing and struck down a line of defense that many marijuana growers have used when faced with prosecution.

According to the Court, a caregiver must have a consistent relationship with the medical marijuana patient and one that existed before the use of medical marijuana. It specifically looked at the wording of the medical marijuana law, Prop. 215, which defines a caregiver as the person who has "consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person." The Court concluded that simply supplying someone with medical marijuana - or even taking them to the doctor now and then - does not make you a caregiver for the purpose of protecting you from prosecution for cultivating and transporting marijuana.

The California Supreme Court's decision stems from a case in Santa Cruz County in which Roger Mentch was convicted of marijuana cultivation and transportation even though he had two people testify that he provided them with medical marijuana and he testified that the more than 175 marijuana plants growing in his home were solely for either his own medicinal use or medical marijuana sales.


Calling the court's action, "a blow to medical marijuana providers," CalNORML stated, "The Court's ruling effectively limits the caregiver defense to relatives, personal friends and attendants, nurses, etc. In particular, it excludes its use by medical marijuana buyers' clubs,' retail dispensaries and delivery services. The remaining legal defense for medical marijuana providers is to organize as patient cooperatives and collectives, which are legal under SB 420."

"The Mentch decision highlights the inadequacy of California's current medical marijuana supply system," said CalNORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. "The law needs to allow for professional licensed growers, as with other medicinal herbs."




From Russia this week (by way of the Canadian Province newspaper) a tidy summary of the politics of opium in central Asia, before and after. Before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan? In the spring of 2001, President Bush sent Colin Powell to personally hand the Taliban $55 million for doing such a good job of eliminating opium. After the U.S. invasion and occupation? "Afghanistan has become the absolute leader in narcotics production, producing 93 per cent of the world's entire opiates... According to the United Nations, Afghanistan's opium production [was] 7,440 tonnes in 2007."

In Canada, as the Ministry of Health decides to ban one so-called "party pill" (BZP), local police and Health Canada look eagerly upon the short-acting herb salvia divinorum as a possible target for future prohibition campaigns. As BZP is banned, expect the already-banned MDMA to take its place, as BZP was commonly used as a substitute for MDMA. "[R]ecent media reports and the U.S.regulations have made [the herb salvia divinorum] more popular in Toronto," and despite a spate of youtube "five-minute intoxication on salvia" -genre videos, very few actual problems have resulted. "When you prohibit, it does not necessarily stop use," noted psychiatric pharmacist Wende Wood of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Sage words.

And finally this week, a summary of the U.S. justice system and war on drugs, as seen from the eyes of U.K. House of Lords member Conrad Black, the Canadian-born newspaper magnate convicted and sentenced to a U.S. federal prison for 6 1/2 years in 2007. Lord Black of Crossharbour, inmate number 18330-424: "The U.S. is now a carceral state that imprisons eight to 12 times more people (2.5m) per capita than the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany or Japan. US justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers' unions that agitate for an unlimited increase in the number of prosecutions and the length of sentences. The entire 'war on drugs', by contrast, is a classic illustration of supply-side economics: a trillion taxpayers' dollars squandered and 1m small fry imprisoned at a cost of $50 billion a year; as supply of and demand for illegal drugs have increased, prices have fallen and product quality has improved."


Pubdate: Fri, 21 Nov 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.

MOSCOW -- Opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 150 per cent since a NATO-led security and development mission entered the country in 2001, Russia's Federal Drug Control Service said yesterday.

"Afghanistan has become the absolute leader in narcotics production, producing 93 per cent of the world's entire opiates.


Since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led campaign, Afghanistan, with almost all its arable land being used to grow opium poppies, remains the world's leading producer of heroin.

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan's opium production increased from 5.534 tonnes in 2006 to 7,440 tonnes in 2007.




Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Tom Blackwell, Staff Writer

BZP Found To Pose A Risk

Health Canada is taking steps to all but ban a new, hallucinogenic party drug that it says is becoming increasingly popular, has potentially dangerous side effects and is essentially unregulated.

The department is proposing to declare BZP and other members of the piperazine class controlled substances, making possession and trafficking in the drugs a crime except for purposes authorized by the government. The move, announced in a notice published on Saturday, would effectively end the pills' current street status as the "legal ecstasy."


In fact, when Health Canada first issued a warning in July about piperazines, many retailers stopped selling the pills, said Mr. Wookey. His company, which distributes the drugs to stores and sells them online, was flooded with calls and e-mails from people who said they would revert to using alternatives like crystal meth if they could not get a supply of BZP.

"Why is it we have products like alcohol and tobacco that kill people regularly that are legal, and here we have a product that doesn't kill people ... and we're so quick to run and ban it?"


BZP seems to have similar effects --both desired and negative--as ecstasy, though there is little scientific data available on the substance, said Wende Wood, a psychiatric pharmacist at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She questioned claims they are a safer alternative to ecstasy, but also said an outright ban might not achieve much.

"When you prohibit, it does not necessarily stop use," said Ms. Wood.


Health Canada says it is accepting input on its proposal for the next 30 days, before drafting a tentative new regulation and inviting more feedback. It says it does not want to ban legitimate industrial and medicinal uses of the drugs.


 (20) SALVIA . . . A STRANGE, LEGAL HIGH  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Nicole Baute, Staff Writer

Users tend to curl into a fetal ball. Experts say most people don't like it. But YouTube is turning a new generation on to the legal hallucinogen - and Toronto police are watching


"Excuse me, I have to go to space now," he says, and spends the remainder of the two-minute video exploring the ceiling of his car like an astronaut who has just landed on the moon.

Such videos are bringing new attention to salvia, which traditionally has been used by Mexican shamans for meditation and healing. It is legal in Canada and can be purchased online and in Toronto head shops and some convenience stores.

But the surge in awareness is prompting U.S. lawmakers to take a closer look at salvia. More than a dozen states have regulated or banned it.


"But in terms of complaints coming to the drug squad, there isn't a large problem with it at the moment, so we'll have to see how it develops over the next couple of years."

Monitoring a drug for abuse means ensuring it is not causing a problem in the community, Theriault says. "It means in a nutshell, are people using it, becoming sick as a result of it, or are there any problems resulting from it, any violence or anything?"


Duffy says recent media reports and the U.S. regulations have made the drug more popular in Toronto.

"People are starting to realize they might not be able to access it forever."




Pubdate: Sun, 23 Nov 2008
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Conrad Black

I write to you from a U.S. federal prison. It is far from a country club or even a regimental health spa.


US federal prosecutors, almost all of whom would be disbarred for their antics if they were in Britain or Canada, win more than 90% of their cases thanks to the withering of the constitutional guarantees of due process that is, the grand jury as an assurance against capricious prosecution, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel, an impartial jury, speedy justice and reasonable bail.


The system is based on the plea bargain: the barefaced exchange of incriminating testimony for immunity or a reduced sentence. It is intimidation and suborned or extorted perjury, an outright rape of any plausible definition of justice.

The U.S. is now a carceral state that imprisons eight to 12 times more people (2.5m) per capita than the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany or Japan. U.S. justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers' unions that agitate for an unlimited increase in the number of prosecutions and the length of sentences. The entire "war on drugs", by contrast, is a classic illustration of supply-side economics: a trillion taxpayers' dollars squandered and 1m small fry imprisoned at a cost of $50 billion a year; as supply of and demand for illegal drugs have increased, prices have fallen and product quality has improved.


I would be distinctly consolable if the United States really was in decline and I have more legitimate grievances against that country than do The Guardian or the BBC, but it is still a country of incomparable vitality even as its moral, judicial soul atrophies and reeks.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Will We Ever Get Past Having a War on Drugs?

By Maia Szalavitz, Huffington Post. Posted November 25, 2008.

We can't ignore science like Bill Clinton did and install a drug czar who will ignore science and push dogma.



Hamedah Hasan Tells Her Story

By Hamedah Hasan, The Women's Media Center

I'm a prisoner of America's Drug War, serving a 27-year sentence for a non-violent crime.


A Close Friend is Coming Home

By Camilla Field


Century of Lies - 11/25/08 - Kris Krane

Kris Krane, president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy discusses recent SSDP conference to celebrate their 10th anniversary + 7 years later, CIA found responsible for shooting missionary's plane from the sky.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 11/26/08 - Bruce Alexander

Bruce K. Alexander, author of "The Globalization of Addiction, A Study in Poverty of The Spirit"


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #562, 11/28/08


By Radley Balko


Transform Drug Policy Foundation



Tuesday, December 2nd 10 p.m. on the National Geographic channel

View the trailer at


The Drug Policy Alliance has an immediate opening for a Managing Director, Public Policy, to lead its federal, state and local advocacy efforts. This is a new position that will harness the organization's various policy functions behind a unified vision for change.



By Alison Myrden

At the end of Mindelle Jacobs's Nov. 14 column, she asks rhetorically, "Why have a ( marijuana ) law at all?" Good question. Why IS the use of cannabis prohibited? More than 10 million people have smoked cannabis in the last year in Canada. Not ONE died. Ill people use it as medicine, factories make clothes and rope out of it, people eat the seeds, the flower and the leaves in cooking and baking and the stock in tea.

I DO have a problem when anyone serves time in jail or loses their home due to any drug. Drugs are a health issue and should be treated as such. As a retired law enforcement officer and a legal cannabis patient, I say the answers are right here if you look.

Legalize and regulate all drugs and keep them out of the hands of the criminal element and away from our children. We at LEAP ( Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ) are a group of retired and present- day law enforcement officers looking for more answers. Give us a chance. What we are doing now is not working.

Alison Myrden

Pubdate: Sun, 23 Nov 2008
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)



By Ronald Fraser, Ph.D.

Advertised as an effective drug control policy, America's harsh drug laws only give the illusion of progress.

Two recent reports show, once again, that the arrest and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent adult drug offenders have done little to stem the use and trafficking of illicit drugs. Drug Use. A senior fellow at the George Mason University School of Public Policy, Dr. Jon Gettman's recent study, Consistent, Persistent and Resistant, Marijuana Use in the United States - funded by the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation - finds that the "Bush Administration anti-drug policies have been unsuccessful in reducing the demand for and use of marijuana and other illegal drugs." Further, Gettman reports, the government's own Office of National Drug Control Policy ( ONDCP ) did not come close to reaching its recent goal: the reduction in the use of illicit drugs among adults 18 years and older by 25 percent between 2002 and 2007. After five years of effort and many millions of tax dollars, illicit drug use among adults declined by less than one percent. Of the six tax-funded programs designed by the ONDCP to reach its 25 percent reduction goal, the Bush Administration's Office of Management and Budget found that only one program rated an "adequate" grade.

The other five were rated "ineffective" or "results-not-demonstrated." Drug Trafficking. In its new report, Correcting Course: Lessons from the 1970 Repeal of Mandatory Minimums, the Washington advocacy organization, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, finds that, to date, "No conclusive studies demonstrate any positive impact of federal mandatory minimum sentences on the rate at which drugs are being manufactured, imported, and trafficked throughout the country." The U.S. Congress first enacted mandatory sentences for drug offenses in 1951 only to repeal the law in 1970 because it was not reducing drug use. Then, in 1986, the Congress set new mandatory sentences aimed at locking up big-time drug traffickers and, in 1988, expanded the law to apply to simple possession of crack cocaine. By 2008, more than one-half of the 200,000 federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses.

But instead of filling federal prisons with drug kingpins, 66 percent of crack cocaine offenders in 2005 were low-level street dealers, lookouts and couriers and only 33 percent were higher-level suppliers. Instead of ending the drug war, mandatory sentences promise to keep prisons full of nonviolent, low level offenders, while drug use continues unabated. Setting goals in the absence of any reasonable means to achieve those goals is plain dumb, except in Washington. Perhaps the non-performing drug war programs are not really expected to deliver on their publicly stated goals, but continue because they serve a very different purpose.

They give the politically useful illusion of "controlling" crime and allow morally righteous members of society to impose their values on the actions of others. Instead of ending the drug war, each year Washington drug warriors issue a new round of optimistic forecasts to keep the illusion alive, to justify another round of funding from American taxpayers. In the absence of a strategy that can both win the drug war and pass Constitutional and affordability tests, police departments, prison operators and hundreds of thousands of prison guards keep themselves busy wasting money on non-performing programs and arresting more low level drug offenders. Forget pie-in-the-sky government promises that build false expectations. When the toughest action governments can take to change individual behavior - sending its citizens to prison - doesn't work, it is time to try another approach. Building more prisons will not reduce drug use in America. Instead, across America, let's build thousands of down-to-earth education and health programs that can actually help individuals in your hometown and mine make informed life-style choices.

Ronald Fraser, Ph.D., writes on public policy issues for the DKT Liberty Project, a Washington-based civil liberties organization. Write him at


"Justice shines by its own light." - Cicero

DS Weekly is one of the many free educational services DrugSense offers our members. Watch this feature to learn more about what DrugSense can do for you.


Please utilize the following URLs


Policy and Law Enforcement/Prison content selection and analysis by Stephen Young (, This Just In selection by Richard Lake ( and Stephen Young, International content selection and analysis by Doug Snead (, Cannabis/Hemp content selection and analysis, Hot Off The Net selection and Layout by Matt Elrod ( Analysis comments represent the personal views of editors, not necessarily the views of DrugSense.

We wish to thank all our contributors, editors, NewsHawks and letter writing activists. Please help us help reform. Become a NewsHawk See for info on contributing clippings.

NOTICE:  ( Top )

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



Mail in your contribution. Make checks payable to MAP Inc. send your contribution to:

The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. D/B/a DrugSense 14252 Culver Drive #328 Irvine, CA, 92604-0326 (800) 266 5759

RSS DrugSense Weekly current issue this issue

Back Issues: 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010