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This Just In
(1)Marijuana Verdict May Set Precedent Throughout Maine Hempstock
(2)Skid Row Settlement Orders Police to Undergo Civil Rights Training
(3)Agony and Ecstasy
(4)Fort Huachuca Restricts Travel To Mexico

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 19 Dec 2008
Source: Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME)
Copyright: 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc
Author: Doug Harlow

Organizer, Medical-Pot Backer Is Acquitted Using Affirmative Defense

SKOWHEGAN -- Longtime marijuana advocate Donald Christen was acquitted Thursday in Superior Court on cultivation and furnishing charges, convincing a jury that his pot is for medical purposes.

The verdict could have far-reaching effects on both sides of the medical marijuana issue in Maine, his lawyer, Walter McKee of Augusta, said.

"We had raised the affirmative defense that the marijuana being cultivated or being furnished was medical marijuana," McKee said Thursday afternoon. "Don acknowledged that he cultivated marijuana and he acknowledged that he possessed it with the intent to furnish it, but indicated that what he was cultivating and what he had possessed with the intent to furnish was medical marijuana, for one patient in particular."

Citing the state's medical marijuana law passed nearly a decade ago, Justice William Anderson told jurors that Christen, organizer of the annual Hempstock festivals and founder of Maine Vocals, met the criteria for medical marijuana under the statute, McKee said.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Dec 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Police officers patrolling the city's Skid Row area must undergo special training and face new restrictions on how they can search people and run parole status checks, under a settlement with a civil rights group announced Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California initially sued the Los Angeles Police Department in 2003, claiming officers in Skid Row were unconstitutionally searching people or running criminal checks after they had been stopped for trivial offenses such as jaywalking or littering. The city's Skid Row area, spanning about a square mile on the east side of downtown, is home to thousands of homeless.

"( Officers ) didn't have probable cause," said attorney Carol Sobel, who worked with the ACLU on the case. "They'd ask them for their ID, if the person said, 'No,' they would take them into custody."

The LAPD does not acknowledge any wrongdoing, city attorney spokesman Nick Velasquez said.

Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League union, said officers in Skid Row have always been "sensitive to the special needs and conditions of the people who live in the community."




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Dec 2008
Source: Economist, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Economist Newspaper Limited
Author: Craig Ward

Ecstasy May Be Good for Those Who Can't Get Over Something Truly Horrible

"I'VE been shot in the leg. I've been beat up. But that's pretty minor," says a 41-year-old American security contractor who spent four years in Iraq. "But when you get a vehicle blown out from under you and ambushed by six or eight al-Qaedas, it does tend to affect one a little bit."

With a broken back, two broken feet and neurological damage, the man, who asked that his name not be used, spent the next three months in hospitals in Iraq, Germany and America. But though he was physically on the mend by the start of this year, he found himself incapacitated. "I was having nightmares right off the bat," he recalls. "I couldn't do anything. Mostly, I'd just retreat to a room and not leave."

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is the persistence of debilitating psychological symptoms. It can include flashbacks and nightmares, increased arousal in the form of insomnia, anger and an inability to concentrate, and impaired personal relationships. Although lasting psychological damage from horrific experiences has been recognised since time immemorial, it is only since 1980, when veterans were still experiencing stress from the Vietnam war, that PTSD has been a formal psychiatric diagnosis.

By 2005 72,000 American veterans were receiving disability payments for PTSD. A study two years later estimated that 12% of American veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Thus far, 1.8m Americans have been deployed in those two theatres, implying 216,000 eventual cases.

Yet most PTSD sufferers are not drawn from the ranks of those for whom trauma is an occupational hazard: 5% of American men suffer from PTSD at some period in their lives. For American women, the rate is double that, mostly from exposure to such crimes as domestic violence and sexual abuse. Two in five rape victims are diagnosable with PTSD six months after the attack. "It can go on for ever", says Kathleen Brady, a professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina who studies the disorder, "but even after 30 years, PTSD is treatable."


So the results of a clinical trial recently announced by Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist in Charleston, South Carolina, are encouraging. Twenty patients with PTSD who had resisted standard treatments--including both Ms Westerfield and the security contractor--were given an experimental drug in combination with psychotherapy. After just two sessions all of them reported dramatic improvement. The compound, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is not new. Known as Ecstasy, it is illegal nearly everywhere.




Pubdate: Fri, 19 Dec 2008
Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)
Copyright: 2008 Arizona Daily Star
Author: Carol Ann Alaimo and Brady McCombs

Rising drug violence in Mexico's border region has prompted Southern Arizona's largest military installation to issue new restrictions on troop travel and a warning to military families and civilian staffers to stay away. As of Tuesday, nearly 7,000 troops at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista must get prior approval from the Army post's top brass to cross the border.

Violators would be subject to military discipline. Another 11,000 or so family members, civilian staffers and contractors at the fort are "strongly urged" not to visit Mexican cities such as Naco, Agua Prieta and Nogales, a popular shopping, dining and nightlife destination. The Army can't legally stop family members and civilian workers from visiting Mexico, but it is warning them not to do so for their own safety, said Tanja Linton, a spokeswoman for Fort Huachuca. The post is about 75 miles southeast of Tucson and less than 20 miles from Mexico. "We are constantly monitoring this situation in the interest of protecting our people," Linton said. Fort Huachuca's travel restrictions are less severe than those at Fort Hood in central Texas, the nation's largest Army post, where soldiers are banned outright from traveling to numerous Mexican border cities, including Nogales. Travel restrictions are set by installation commanders and vary with local conditions, Linton said. Fort Huachuca's new restrictions could be tightened further or eased if warranted, she said. In May 2007, for example, Fort Huachuca banned its soldiers from Mexico for a week after violence erupted in the town of Cananea. More recently, the fort has allowed cross-border travel with approval from lower-level commanders. Drug-cartel-fueled violence has reached unprecedented levels this year in the state of Sonora and specifically in Nogales, where official government figures show homicides have tripled in recent years.




While the new federal drug czar hasn't been chosen yet, one of the names being bandied about is getting more criticism, even from the mainstream press. In one Mexico border town, an anonymous email pleads for a few peaceful days around Christmas; meanwhile as the narco-war intensifies in Mexico, some cartels may prove to be better propagandists than the government. And in New Jersey, more than a little irony from a judge ruling in a cannabis case.


Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper Company

Representative Jim Ramstad, a Republican from Minnesota, is said to be a candidate for drug czar in the Obama administration. This would take bipartisanship one step too far, at the expense of public health.

Ramstad, who is retiring after 18 years in office, gets high marks for working with a Democratic colleague, Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, to require insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment ( the two men are alcohol recovery partners ). But Ramstad has also voted repeatedly against federal funding for needle exchange programs for drug users to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. Washington's paralysis on this issue goes back to when President Clinton let his drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, sabotage funding efforts by Donna Shalala, then secretary of Health and Human Services. McCaffrey hyperbolically called clean-needle programs "magnets for all social ills." In 2002, Clinton admitted that "I was wrong" not to lift the funding ban.

A study this fall in The Lancet found that only 1.5 percent of injecting drug users in Australia have HIV, compared with 16 percent in the United States. "That's largely because we acted very quickly in the 1980s to implement methadone programs and needle exchange programs when other countries like the U.S. were dragging their heels," study author Bradley Mathers of Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Center told the Associated Press. Anthony Fauci, director for infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health, flatly says, "needle exchange programs work. There's no doubt about that."




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)
Copyright: 2008 El Paso Times
Author: Daniel Borunda

EL PASO - It is a simple Christmas wish.

Peace for three days in Juarez, Dec. 24-26.

No shootings. No killings. No executions.

In a bloody year in which Juarez was submerged in a war between drug cartels and a crime wave with more than 1,500 homicides, an anonymous e-mail floating in the borderland is asking for "a truce for Christmas in Juarez."

The e-mail in Spanish is addressed to "narcos, capos, agents, hit men, the press, those affected by violence, friends and others," and narrates a conversation between a young boy and his uncle. The boy wishes Santa Claus and el ninito Jesus to end the violence after the boy witnesses his father's death.

"Don't let what happened to my nephew happen to any other children. . If you are involved in this, I ask you, I beg you ... think of a child you love and do it for them," the letter requests.

Whether the Christmas spirit will quell the killings is anyone's guess. Threats, rumors and urban legends related to Juarez have spread frequently this year through the anonymity of the Internet.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Laurence Iliff, Staff Writer

A Roman Catholic cathedral in the border state of Nuevo Leon was the backdrop this week for the drug cartels' latest salvo in a drug war that is looking more like a conventional war, complete with increasingly sophisticated propaganda.

Hanging from the church fence in Monterrey was a banner more than a dozen feet high addressed to President Felipe Calderon, accusing the government of favoring some cartel groups over others -- a charge the government denies -- and appealing for a more balanced approach.

"We urge you to put neutral commanders in these jobs and not allow the narco police to stay," it read in neat black block letters.

At least two dozen similar banners in 14 cities and six states appeared Monday in public places. The Monterrey church is in front of City Hall.

The sudden proliferation of "narco-banners" across Mexican cities, including tourist zones like Cancan, shows that the cartels are prepared to ratchet up a fight that has taken more than 5,000 lives this year, analysts said.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Record
Author: Peggy Wright, Daily Record

Men Spared Prison; Long Valley Roommate Was Growing Marijuana

Two former Long Valley residents who were charged in February, along with a third roommate, with running a marijuana harvesting operation in their attic were spared prison sentences Friday by a judge who gave them probation, community service and ordered them to write essays.

Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan ordered John Coates III of Great Meadows and John A. O'Connell of Succasunna, both 24, to read "Judgment at Nuremberg," a 1957 play by Abby Mann that was adapted into the Academy Award-winning 1961 film about Nazi war criminals brought to justice for their crimes against humanity.

The significance of the assignment is that the war criminals claimed to just be following orders, just as Coates and O'Connell said they went along with the marijuana-growing plan of roommate Zachary Toomey, 27.

Toomey pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to maintain or operate a drug production facility in February from the rented Fairmount Road home in Washington Township and to an unrelated aggravated assault charge. The Morris County Prosecutor's Office has recommended that Toomey be sentenced in January to seven years in prison and more than $2,000 in fines.


Continues: :


Another corruption conviction leads off the news, and then two stories about all the things that can go wrong when police recklessly bust down doors looking for drugs. And, another drug war tragedy may be getting closer to settlement, with more acknowledgement by officials that something went wrong.


Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Tribune Co.
Author: Elaine Silvestrini

TAMPA - A former Pasco County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison for participating in a drug ring by using his patrol car and service weapon to rob a man he thought was a drug courier.

Don Riggans, 35, tearfully apologized to the court, prosecutors, the community and his family for not only breaking the law, but going against everything he said he stood for.

He told U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara he did it to get money so he could pay off debts and purchase a dream house for his wife and young daughters. The hardest thing he ever had to do, Riggans said in an emotion-choked voice, was look his daughters in the eye and explain his crime.

Riggans' wife, Kimberly, also a Pasco sheriff's deputy, tearfully pleaded for mercy, saying one horrible mistake should not define who her husband is as a person.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2008 The Boston Herald, Inc
Author: Jessica Van Sack

A Roxbury woman who says firefighters and police busted down her door last summer, ignoring her when she said they were at the wrong house, will air her concerns at a City Council hearing today.

Shirley A. Hunter, 56, a professor of international accounting at Tufts University, was in the shower Aug. 9 when she heard her front door and exterior iron gate being pried open. She said she leaned out the window and told authorities, "You have the wrong house."

A city council order for the hearing states that cops received a call from a woman on Forbes Avenue stating she had overdosed on drugs, but were dispatched to Hunter's house on Fort Avenue in Roxbury. It could not be confirmed yesterday that police were dispatched to the wrong house.

After a firefighter forced open her door, two cops charged up her stairs, guns drawn, Hunter said. She said when cops realized they had the wrong house, "They were about to leave, and I said, 'Wait guys, what about my front door' "

"It was traumatic," she said. "They were pretty pumped up. It was as if they were angry they didn't find something."

Hunter said she's spent more than $4,000 on repairs to her door and had to suspend her consulting business for over a month because she couldn't leave her home for long periods of time until a repairman finally secured her iron gate in October.



 (11) SHE REALLY IS A GOOD 'SHOT'  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: News Leader, The (VA)
Copyright: 2008 News Leader
Author: Gregory Trotter

Alyssa Kaye Smith's bedroom is filled with saddles, fishing poles, a gurgling fish tank with an albino frog inside, some books and, yes, normally, a shotgun under the bed.The Smiths don't deny they have guns at their home in the Bolivar countryside and aren't shy about expressing their rights to use them for hunting, trap-shooting and self-defense.

"She really is a good shot," said David Smith, Alyssa's father, proudly holding up a target practice sheet Tuesday that was riddled with holes in the middle.

The family vehemently denies, however, that Alyssa knew the intruders in her house were a Missouri Highway Patrol SWAT team when she fired her 12-gauge shotgun through her closed bedroom door during a marijuana raid last weekend.

Alyssa Smith, 19, was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and armed criminal action. She faces a minimum of 10 years in jail -- and a maximum sentence of 30 years to life -- if convicted of the crimes.

Though no one was injured, the prosecutor's complaint charges that she knew there was an officer behind the door and attempted to kill or seriously injure him.

Standing in their daughter's bedroom Tuesday, David and Barbara Smith painted a very different picture of what transpired during the dark morning hours Saturday.




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
Copyright: 2008 Tallahassee Democrat
Author: Jennifer Portman, Democrat Senior Writer

The city of Tallahassee hopes to avoid a wrongful-death lawsuit by working out a settlement with the parents of Rachel Hoffman, who was killed in May during a botched drug sting.

In a letter sent to the family's attorney this week, City Attorney Jim English requested that the two sides jointly initiate voluntary pre-lawsuit mediation.

"It's really been very helpful in settling a lot of cases," English said. "I wouldn't even begin to predict this one."

On June 30, attorney Lance Block put the city on required six-month notice that the family intends to file a wrongful-death claim for the Tallahassee Police Department's role in the 23-year-old's death.

The family contends -- and a Leon County jury concurred -- that police were negligent in Hoffman's death.




New Jersey is one step closer to joining other states that have regulated medicinal cannabis.

Law enforcement authorities in Massachusetts are still finding fault with their new civil penalty regime in an effort to stall its implementation.

Marking the 75th anniversary of repeal, an amusing column on the stark contrasts between stereotypical alcohol and cannabis consumers.

The Ohio state senate heard testimony from doctors who support medicinal cannabis regulation Bill SB 343.


Pubdate: Tue, 16 Dec 2008
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Susan K. Livio, Star-Ledger Staff

Moved by pleas from chronically ill patients, a state Senate committee approved legislation yesterday that would regulate the sale and use of medical marijuana for people who can show they need the drug to ease their suffering.

Over the objections of family rights groups and attorneys who warned the bill sends a conflicting message to youth about illegal drug use, the majority of members from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee said they felt compelled to approve the bill.

Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Mercer) said he was swayed by the testimony of Charles Kwiatkowski, a 37-year-old Hazlet resident who said the pain and muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis prevents him from playing with his children, ages 3, 8 and 9.

"There is too much pain, too much hurt, and too much suffering, and we can do something about it," Baroni said.

Kwiatkowski called marijuana "an illegal miracle" that enables him to "walk better, see better, go fishing with my kids. ... It's not right there are 13 states I could live in, in less pain."


Joyce Nalepka, president of the national organization Drug Free Kids: America's Challenge, urged the committee to consider the effects legalizing medical marijuana would have on children and young adults.

From 1999 to 2008, the National Household Surveys on Drug Use by the National Institutes of Health found higher than average use of the drug in the states that legalized medical marijuana, Nalepka said.

"Can it be that declaring -- by popular legislative opinion -- a dangerous drug to be medicine increases use by making it more acceptable?" she asked the committee.

Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), a committee member and a bill sponsor, disagreed that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes would elevate awareness of the drug among youngsters. "I think our youth are pretty much aware of marijuana today. I think we are kidding ourselves if we don't think that."




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Abby Goodnough

BOSTON -- Last month, voters approved a statewide measure decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Now, wary authorities say, comes the hard part. They are scrambling to set up a new system of civil penalties before Jan. 2, when the change becomes law. From then on, anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana will owe a $100 civil fine instead of ending up with an arrest record and possibly facing jail time.

It sounds simple, but David Capeless, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said the new policy presented a thicket of questions and complications.

One of the most basic, Mr. Capeless said, is who will collect the fines and enforce other provisions of the law. For example, violators under 18 will be required to attend a drug awareness class within a year, but it is unclear who will make sure that they do so. The fine increases to $1,000 for those who skip the class.

A complicating factor, said Mr. Capeless, the district attorney in Berkshire County, is that state law bans the police from demanding identification for civil infractions.

"Not only do you not have to identify yourself," he said, "but it would appear from a strict reading that people can get a citation, walk away, never pay a fine and have no repercussion."

Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, says he anticipates that many violators will lie about their identities.

"You can tell us that you're Mickey Mouse of One Disneyland Way," Mr. Sampson said, "and we have to assume that's true."


A spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, which supports the drug's legalization and created the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy to get the ballot question passed here, said that judging from the experience of other states with civil penalties for marijuana possession, Massachusetts officials were exaggerating the challenges.

"I can't help but think that the real difficulty in implementing it," said the spokesman, Dan Bernath, "is they don't want to do it."




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: Telluride Daily Planet (CO)
Copyright: 2008 Telluride Daily Planet, A Division of Womack Publishing Company
Website: Details: Author: Reilly Capps, Staff Writer, Daily Planet

Every week I write the Cop Shop -- my favorite task at this paper. My life is so boring, and some of my neighbors' lives are so interesting in all these incredible, horrible, spectacular ways.

The Telluride cops sometimes capture, in their police reports, a side of this town in a way official records rarely do.

Every week we brawl over little things, we pass out on the sidewalk, we steal our roommate's stuff and pilfer little girls' bicycles.

And why are we acting so boneheaded?

It's (partly) because we are confused or frustrated, or angry or selfish, or because life hasn't panned out the way we thought it would. But partly it's because we are drunk.

Nothing turns regular people into criminals faster than alcohol.


Meanwhile, every so often, someone gets caught smoking marijuana. And every time the cops catch dope smokers, without fail, that illegal drug causes them to do absolutely nothing that is violent, cruel, deadly, or criminally stupid. (Sure, people do stupid things on weed. But forgetting to show up to work is not illegal. Changing your car's oil using Mrs. Butterworth's syrup is not illegal.)

Me, I don't like weed. It makes me Jessica Simpson-dumb and paranoid to the point of paralysis, and when I smoke I end up cowering in my apartment, phone off, eating Fritos and watching South Park.

But other people like it. And while it's probably not good for anybody, there's no way it should be illegal.



 (16) DOCS FOR DOPE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2008
Source: Cincinnati City Beat (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Lightborne Publishing Inc.
Author: Margo Pierce
Referenced: Senate Bill 343

Ohio Senate Considers New Medical Marijuana Legislation Backed by Doctors

Marijuana is a medicine. Not many doctors are willing to make that kind of statement publicly, especially when U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raids result in the jailing of physicians, terminally ill patients and statelicensed marijuana growers in states where the medicinal use of marijuana is permitted by law.

But Richard J. Wyderski, a physician at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, believes the benefits of the herbal therapy far outweigh the risks of pushing for legalization. In this case he's publicly backing Senate Bill 343, most commonly referred to as the Ohio Medical Compassion Act sponsored by Sen. Tom Roberts (D-Dayton).

"I provided testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee," Wyderski says. "I talked about the historical aspects of marijuana - it was a medicine back in the 1800s and early 1900s - and the regulatory stuff that happened that led to it no longer being used medicinally even though it was on the U.S. pharmacopoeia until the early 1940s.

Patients who have chronic, debilitating conditions do benefit and should have access to medical marijuana to be able to use it in a safe manner under medical supervision unadulterated by other substances that might be supplied if they obtain it illegally."

SB 343 is similar to the medical marijuana legislation proposed by State Sen. Robert F. Hagan (D- Youngstown) in 2005 (see "Toking the Cure," Issue of March 2, 2005). That law never received a hearing, but the new bill was the subject of expert testimony in November.

The bill would create a "registry identification" card for individuals who use medical marijuana for specific medical conditions. Those with a diagnosis that fits the definition of "debilitating medical condition" outlined in the legislation would be able to apply for the card and use marijuana under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor.




It has been said that American politicians are addicted to the war on drugs. If this is true, then Canada is the "enabler" of U.S. prohibition worldwide. Carried in several Canadian papers this week, columnist Dan Gardner shows how -- at an international policy level -- Canada cheers and enables U.S. drug war pipe dreams, predictably reaping bloodshed and failure as a result. "And so," says Gardner, "the misery will continue, thanks in part to the complicity of Canadian politicians and officials too foolish or cowardly to admit that drug prohibition is a catastrophic mistake."

University of Western Australia clinical psychology researcher David Erceg-Hurn called for Australia to dump anti-meth "shock" ads after they were shown to actually encourage drug use, rather than prevent it. While shock meth ads -- ads graphically depicting open sores, vomit, drug injection, teenage prostitution, and violence -- are ostensibly designed to shock teens into abstemious, drug-free lives, they appear to be having the exact opposite effect. Following studies with similar results, research recently reviewed in the journal "Prevention Science" indicates such ads "made the illicit drug more appealing to teenagers... making the drug appear less risky."

And finally this week, two governments, two distant places on the map, two different police forces, yet the same incessant plea: give us more money, or your kids will end up on dope. In Nanaimo, Canada, police are angling for ways to transfer public unease with visible homelessness and hard drug addiction, into approval for going after an extensive domestic cannabis trade. Homelessness? Addiction? All can be solved with the hammer of "harsher penalties for convicted drug traffickers," say Nanaimo police. "It takes an entire community to raise a child, it takes an entire community to recognize youth with substance abuse issues," added another bureaucrat.

Similarly, in Nigeria this week, Executive Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshomole and the Nigerian DEA Chief Ahmadu Giade decried the existence of cannabis in communities in the "the South South region [who are] neck-deep in cannabis cultivation and trafficking... We shall trace them to their cannabis plantations as we have always done. We shall also trace them to their secret warehouses and take the battle to their living rooms," thundered Ahmadu. Why go after adults involved with cannabis? Because drugs are "a danger to our youths who are the future hope of the country."


Pubdate: Tue, 16 Dec 2008
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Windsor Star
Author: Dan Gardner


Last Monday, Mexico's attorney general told reporters the record-high rate of drug-related murders in 2007 had doubled in 2008. As of Dec. 2, it stood at 5,376.

Canadians will be dimly aware that drug-related violence is soaring in Mexico. We read the occasional story and see a picture now and then of a sheet drawn over a corpse that was somebody's son. But there's little analysis or concern here. Why would there be? To us, this is just more bloodshed far away. It has nothing to do with us.

Or so we think. In truth, the government of Canada is at least partly responsible for the tragedy unfolding in Mexico.


In fact, it has everything to do with Canada because, on the international level, Canada is very much a soldier in the War on Drugs.

In 1988, the American government drafted a new international convention on drug prohibition and took it to the United Nations. Canada saluted and signed.

In 1998, American officials dominated a United Nations special assembly that produced new commitments on drug policy. Canada saluted and signed.

When American officials asked other governments to contribute money to Plan Colombia, Canada saluted and kicked in.

The Canadian military is involved in drug interdiction. Canadian police and other officials stationed around the world fight the War on Drugs every day. Very simply, this country has never done anything but aid and abet the drug policies issuing from Washington D.C.


And so the misery will continue, thanks in part to the complicity of Canadian politicians and officials too foolish or cowardly to admit that drug prohibition is a catastrophic mistake.

Dan Gardner is an Ottawa Citizen columnist.



Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Cathy O'Leary

A University of Western Australia researcher has called for the scrapping of a multimillion-dollar anti-methamphetamine campaign by the Federal Government, after finding that graphic advertisements actually made the illicit drug more appealing to teenagers.

A study by clinical psychology researcher David Erceg-Hurn found that a similar American campaign warning of violent behaviour and self-harm associated with crystal methamphetamine had the opposite effect to what was intended, making the drug appear less risky to young people.

The review, published in the international journal Prevention Science, found that after six months of exposure to an expensive anti-ice advertising campaign in the American state of Montana, three times as many teenagers believed using ice was not risky.


Mr Erceg-Hurn said the campaign was very similar to that used in the third phase of Australia's National Drugs Campaign, which was launched last year and based on the slogan "Don't let ice destroy you".

He said the results from his study suggested that the shock advertisements could be making the drug seem more acceptable and less harmful.



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Dec 2008
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Jenn Marshall

Nanaimo's drug problem is serious and will continue to get worse unless more resources are committed, say community stakeholders.

"I think Nanaimo's problem isn't out of control yet, but if we don't start adding resources, it will get there," said Marg Fraser, the Vancouver Island Health Authority's manager of mental health and addiction services.


Const. Gary O'Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said an increased police presence downtown and collaboration with downtown business and bar owners has displaced some of the drug activity there.

"Many times that's the sad reality of police work," he said. "You have to find other means other than displacement. We have to think more out of the box."

O'Brien said looking at harsher penalties for convicted drug traffickers and more intensive rehabilitation opportunities for addicts, who are often responsible for committing petty crimes around the city, is needed.

He said the recent decision of the federal arm of the RCMP's E- Division law enforcement operations to centralize in Nanaimo will improve the city's ability to combat the import and export of illegal drugs.


"It takes an entire community to raise a child, it takes an entire community to recognize youth with substance abuse issues," she said



Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Leadership Nigeria (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2008 Leadership Newspapers Group Limited
Author: Joshua Uma

Worried by the high rate of cannabis cultivation in the country particularly in the South South geo-political area, the Executive Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshomole and the Honourable Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade have strongly advocated for youth empowerment in the country, as the only option to end cannabis cultivation and narcotics problem in the state.

This was disclosed at a workshop organised by the anti-narcotics Agency in Benin City Edo State at the weekend. In which Oshiomhole identified lack of adequate planning for youths in the country as one of the factors responsible for the involvement in illicit drug activities. He noted that "in the past the nation planned for the youth but in today Nigeria , the situation is not the same. At the University of Benin some years back, before graduation as a 400 level student, there are various employers of labour as well as various public authorities coming to conduct interviews in order to identify potential employees but the situation today has also changed".


The honourable Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade in his welcome address said that the choice of Edo State as the host of the South South campaign was because the State has the highest seizure of cannabis in the country. He lamented that illicit drug activities are not only becoming a threat to the image of the country but also a danger to our youths who are the future hope of the country.

According to Giade whose address was presented by the Director General of the Agency, Otunba Lanre Ipinmisho, "the South South region is neck-deep in cannabis cultivation and trafficking. The situation is very bad. In the course of our discreet covert operations we have uncovered very many illicit cannabis plantations in the South South than in any other region of the country. We have equally found to our chagrin that most of the young men and women being used as labourers on these clandestine farm locations are school age children".


"We are determined more than ever before to smash these cartels. We are not going to spare anyone hiding under any cover to perpetrate criminal act. Any attempt to aid and abet or obstruct our determination to sanitise this geo-political area and the country of illicit drugs will be vehemently resisted. The Agency will continue to investigate and trace drug barons to their hideouts. We shall trace them to their cannabis plantations as we have always done. We shall also trace them to their secret warehouses and take the battle to their living rooms. There will be no hiding place for them" Giade warned.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Aaron Houston, AlterNet

A new survey reveals 13% of 10th-graders reported smoking marijuana in the past 30 days, while just 12.3 smoked cigarettes.


By Scott Thill, AlterNet. Posted December 18, 2008.

Bill Richardson believes we need to "rethink and decriminalize" our cannabis laws. Now that he's in office, he has the chance to achieve it.


By Jacob Sullum

Perusing material submitted by the DEA in response to a query from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, marijuana reform activist Dale Gieringer catches the California Police Chiefs Association actively subverting state law.


By Anthony Papa

Just about this time last year I wrote to Governor Elliot Spitzer asking him to go on a personal rescue mission and grant clemency to a large number of Rockefeller Drug Law offenders who have fully rehabilitated themselves and already served enormous amounts of time behind bars under the draconian provisions of mandatory-minimum sentencing.


Well, not in so many words. But anyone reading between the lines of the National Drug Intelligence Center's National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 could easily come to that conclusion.


By Stanton Peele

These Three Things I Know are True


Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 12/17/08 - Neill Franklin

Neill Franklin, working Baltimore cop with more than 32 years experience and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Century of Lies - 12/16/08 - Vikki Hankins

Vikki Hankins who served 18 years behind bars for crack cocaine + Neal Peirce of the Washington Post


By Amy Long

President-elect Barack Obama offered Americans a unique opportunity to directly relay their concerns to the incoming administration when his website unveiled its "Open for Questions" tool late last week. The result of that tool's first round of voting may have surprised Obama and his staff: two of the top ten questions -including the highest ranking question - concerned marijuana policy and questions that challenged the drug war in general took 16 of the top 50 spots.



With only a two weeks left in 2008, please make your year-end donation to DrugSense RIGHT NOW! Tax rules may well change with the new Congress, so don't forget that your contribution to DrugSense is tax deductible today.



By Calvin C. Acuff, M.D.

I was a youngster when Franklin Roosevelt ran for president promising, among other things, to repeal Prohibition. My parents didn't want alcohol to be legalized. However, since then I have realized Prohibition was a tremendous idea, but one that didn't work because people were determined to drink and they got liquor from bootleggers, moonshiners or imported by Joe Kennedy ( making him fabulously wealthy ). Today alcohol is freely available and is controlled fairly well and taxed.

I notice that people who want to smoke pot, drink alcohol and use other drugs are going to get them one way or another. The drug dealers are the ones benefitting by keeping them illegal while the government could tax these drugs and the dealers would lose their source of income.

We have spent multiple billions on the drug war and we are no closer to winning than we were 20 years ago. There is the saying that to repeat the same action over and over and expect a different result is a sure sign of stupidity. If we learned something from how we dealt with alcohol, why not apply it to other drugs?

One of the immediate benefits we would see is that overcrowding of prisons would end or at least greatly decrease. Lest anyone think I'm advocating the use of alcohol and other drugs, let me explain. During my 40 years of medical practice, I saw many people ruin their lives and destroy their brains. I have never seen one person who was better in any way from using alcohol and other drugs. Even one drink impairs one's judgment and functional ability. I have never smoked, tasted alcohol or used any illegal drug because there is not one benefit in any of them.

I believe the only solution is to legalize and control drugs as we have alcohol. People who are determined to use drugs will get them one way or another.

Calvin C. Acuff, M.D.

Pubdate: Thu, 11 Dec 2008
Source: Morganton News Herald, The (NC)


Drug Czar of My Dreams  ( Top )

By Matthew M. Elrod

For over 35 years America's war at home, the Drug War, has been raging. Owing in large part to drug war excesses, the United States now locks up more of its citizens than any nation on earth -- more than 2.3 million, with half a million of them behind bars for nonviolent drug offenses alone. That is more than Western Europe, with a much higher population, incarcerates for all crimes combined.

The historic election of Barack Obama signals a unique opportunity to begin to heal one of America's worst open sores and end the drug war, but that is not going to happen unless President-elect Obama nominates someone exceptional to the position of drug czar, or director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The appointment of "moderate" will not be sufficient, particularly when President-elect Obama's stated goals are to repeal the harshest drug sentences, remove federal bans on syringe-exchange funding to reduce HIV/AIDS, allow medical cannabis research, and support treatment alternatives for low-level drug offenders.

The Christian Science Monitor recently opined, "In his selection of a 'drug czar,' President-elect Obama needs to place more emphasis on addiction as a health problem," Christian Science Monitor, December 3, 2008. Columnist Maia Szalavitz, who covers addiction and treatment issues, perhaps put it best, "We need someone who knows the science, recognizes that there are many paths to recovery -- and understands that dead addicts can't recover," "Obama Drug Czar Pick: No Recovery from War on Drugs?", Huffington Post, November 21, 2008.

A significant reallocation of scarce resources from criminal justice to public health solutions is long overdue, but drug policy is multi-disciplinary and international in scope. We have had cops, doctors and soldiers. Call me crazy, but I think our drug czar should be an experienced drug policy expert who comprehends the full breadth, depth and importance of this issue on day one.

I have seen Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, and Judge Jim P. Gray suggested in comments appended to articles and blog posts on the topic, but I think Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, personifies the consummate drug policy expert, in both domestic and international affairs, that I would like to see directing the drug czar's office.

To this end, I started a petition called, "Drug Czar of My Dreams,"

Perhaps Nadelmann for drug czar is too much to hope for but, with any luck, this petition will at least encourage President-elect Obama to think twice about his choice of drug czar. In addition to your signature and feedback, I would appreciate your help with promoting this petition.

Matthew M. Elrod is co-founder and webmaster of DrugSense/MAP.


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