This Just In
(1)OPED: Ending the Taliban's Money Stream
(2)U.S. Plans Border 'Surge' Against Any Drug Wars
(3)Colombia Drugs Lord Shot Dead In Madrid Hospital
(4)Appeals Court Questions Police Dog's Qualifications

Hot Off The 'Net
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-DEA Rejects Yet Another Rescheduling Petition
-When People Are Stupid / By Pete Guither
-Lou Dobbs Reacts To El Paso Resolution To Discuss Drug Policy Reform

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 8 Jan 2009
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: James Nathan
Note: James Nathan, a former Foreign Service officer, is the Khalid
bin Sultan Eminent Scholar at Auburn University.

At the start of the Afghan war, the British government implored the Bush administration to bomb Afghanistan's heroin labs and opium storehouses. The United States refused. America's Afghan partners in the struggle against the Taliban were involved in the drug trade. They were crooked, but useful.

In 2004, Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared a "jihad on the cultivation of drugs." Europeans guffawed. European intelligence had already named both the head of the Afghan Central Bank and Mr. Karzai's "anti-corruption czar" as "drug lords." And Mr. Karzai's youngest brother, Ahmed Wali, was named as a trafficker in early 2005 in U.S. intelligence documents discovered by CBS' "60 Minutes." In fact, there has never been a "drug lord" arrested in post September 11th Afghanistan. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2005 found more than nine tons of opium in the office of Sher Muhammad Akhundzada, the governor of Helmand Province. Under British pressure, Mr. Akhundzada was removed, but the next year, Mr. Karzai found a place for him in the Afghan Senate.

In April 2006, John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, enthused to reporters that "enormous progress" had been made in eradication of opium crops in Afghanistan. But by the end of 2007, U.S. officials estimated that Afghanistan had monopolized the world's supply of opium and heroin, with 93 percent of world supply.

"Eradication" was America's answer to the explosion of Afghanistan opium. The policy of paying day workers to attack poppy fields of farmers, with everything from sticks and weed whackers to tractors, backfired. "Hearts and minds" were lost. Eradication was billed to American taxpayers by contractors at up to $90,000 an acre - for a crop with a "commercial" value averaging less than $2,000, per farmer.

In sum, America's effort at Afghan drug control, seemed, in the words of one expert, Peter Bergen, "bananas." Few serious alternates to eradication were advanced except by a London based non-governmental organization, Senlis, which has suggested small-scale pilot programs of licensing villages for production of medically useful opiates. The Senlis approach has the backing of the European Parliament and many in the Canadian and British governments. But a reading of Senlis' proposals reveals an amazingly complicated scheme that would hardly impact the Taliban and drug lords in any meaningful way for years.




Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Randal C. Archibold

The soaring level of violence in Mexico resulting from the drug wars there has led the United States to develop plans for a "surge" of civilian and perhaps even military law enforcement should the bloodshed spread across the border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday.

Mr. Chertoff said the criminal activity in Mexico, which has caused more than 5,300 deaths in the last year, had long troubled American authorities. But it reached a point last summer, he said, where he ordered specific plans to confront in this country the kind of shootouts and other mayhem that in Mexico have killed members of warring drug cartels, law enforcement officials and bystanders, often not far from the border.

"We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge - if I may use that word - capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with" the Defense Department, Mr. Chertoff said in a telephone interview.

Officials of the Homeland Security Department said the plan called for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, with the size of the force depending on the scale of the problem. Military forces would be called upon if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were overwhelmed, but the officials said military involvement was considered unlikely.




Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2009
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2009

MADRID: One of Colombia's most notorious drug lords, Leonidas Vargas, was shot dead in his Madrid hospital bed on Thursday, Spanish police said.

At least one person entered the room in Madrid's October 12th Hospital where Vargas was being treated for a serious illness, and shot the drugs kingpin four times just before 8 p.m. local time, police said.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo said the assassin asked another patient who was sharing the Colombian's room if he was Vargas.

When the man said no, he took out a gun fitted with a silencer and shot Vargas, who was asleep. The hospital was still locked down at 10 p.m. as police searched for his killer, El Mundo said.




Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2009
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2009 The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Pamela Manson

Car Search ) Defendant Says Canine Inadequately Trained To Do His Job

An injury had kept K-9 officer Oso from completing an eight-week narcotics certification course, but his law enforcement partners insist he had the skills to perform his job.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals isn't so sure.

The court has ordered a federal judge in Salt Lake City to review whether Oso was qualified to sniff out evidence on the night he helped find a handgun and drug paraphernalia in a Utah man's car. Police say Oso had 10 weeks of training with his handler, although he hadn't completed certification.

The Denver-based court said Tuesday police might be able to establish the dog was reliable through presenting evidence other than the certification course.





If there was ever a doubt that the drug war isn't primarily an effort toward cultural authoritarianism, check out the arguments for further prohibiting khat in the United States. If somebody likes a drug other than culturally accepted drugs, we better make it illegal; at least that seems to be the attitude. Some advocates for reclassifying ecstasy in the UK learned a similar lesson this week.

Elsewhere, a mayor on the U.S. side of the Mexican border doesn't want his city council to even propose a discussion about legalizing drugs; while in New York, another year and another hope for Rockefeller reform.


Pubdate: Sat, 3 Jan 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Cynthia Dizikes, Reporting from Washington

The Narcotic Leaf Is a Time-Honored Tradition in Africa but Illegal In the U.S., Where Demand Is Growing.

In the heart of the Ethiopian community here, a group of friends gathered after work in an office to chew on dried khat leaves before going home to their wives and children. Sweet tea and sodas stood on a circular wooden table between green mounds of the plant, a mild narcotic grown in the Horn of Africa.

As the sky grew darker the conversation became increasingly heated, flipping from religion to jobs to local politics. Suddenly, one of the men paused and turned in his chair. "See, it is the green leaf," he said, explaining the unusually animated discussion as he pinched a few more leaves together and tossed them into his mouth.

For centuries the "flower of paradise" has been used legally in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as a stimulant and social tonic.

But in the United States khat is illegal, and an increased demand for the plant in cities such as Washington and San Diego is leading to stepped up law enforcement efforts and escalating clashes between narcotics officers and immigrants who defend their use of khat as a time-honored tradition.

In the last few years, San Diego, which has a large Somali population, has seen an almost eight-fold increase in khat seizures. Nationally, the amount of khat seized annually at the country's ports of entry has grown from 14 metric tons to 55 in about the last decade.

Most recently, California joined 27 other states and the federal government in banning the most potent substance in khat, and the District of Columbia is proposing to do the same.




Pubdate: Sun, 04 Jan 2009
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Brian Brady and Jonathan Owen

Advisory Council Has 'Pro-Drug' Agenda, Say Critics, Raising Questions Over Its Fitness To Advise Ministers

An independent committee that advises ministers on drug classification is poised to recommend the controversial downgrading of ecstasy to a class B drug. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ( ACMD ) is expected to call for ecstasy, a drug blamed for the deaths of at least 30 people a year, to be changed from its top-rated class A category when it reports later this month.

The proposal will bring the council into direct conflict with the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith ( below ), who is expected to veto any such move, and propel the Government into a row over its treatment of expert bodies charged with advising ministers on key issues. The controversy comes just months after the Home Office ignored ACMD opposition to the decision to move cannabis from class C to class B.

Senior Home Office sources said they "fully expected" the ACMD to call for the relaxation of ecstasy's classification. Professor David Nutt, chairman of the committee, which is reviewing ecstasy at the request of MPs, has suggested it is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, and stated that it is "probably too highly classified".

Downgrading the drug, which is popular with clubbers, to class B would reduce the maximum prison sentence for possession from seven years to five, while the maximum prison sentence for dealers would fall from life in prison to 14 years. It shares its current classification with drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.




Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jan 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Gustavo Reveles Acosta

EL PASO - Mayor John Cook on Tuesday vetoed a unanimously supported resolution from City Council asking the federal government to seriously study the legalization of narcotics as a way to respond to the plague of violence that last year killed 1,600 people in Juarez.

The council on Tuesday had voted 8-0 on a resolution drafted by the city's Border Relations Committee, outlining 11 steps the U.S. and Mexican governments can take to help El Paso's "beleaguered and besieged sister city."

All city representatives also supported an amendment by South-West city Rep. Beto O'Rourke that added a 12th step: the encouragement of the U.S. federal government to start a "serious debate" on the legalization of drugs.

Cook said it was the amendment that forced him to use his veto power for just the third time in his administration.

"The action of council ... undermines the hard work of the committee by adding new language which may affect the credibility of the entire resolution," he said in his veto.

"It is not realistic to believe that the U.S. Congress will seriously consider any broad-based debate on the legalization of narcotics," Cook added. "That position is not consistent with the community standards both locally and nationally."




Pubdate: Wed, 7 Jan 2009
Source: New York Observer, The (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Observer
Author: Jimmy Vielkind

ALBANY--Will this actually be the year for Rockefeller Drug Law reform?

"I think we have a better shot than ever if Paterson takes a leadership role," said Anthony Papa, who served 12 years under the laws before he was granted clemency by George Pataki in 1997.

David Paterson mentioned the need to reform the laws in his speech yesterday, saying he "cannot think of a criminal justice strategy that has been more unsuccessful" in its purpose. He was a supporter of reforming the laws as a state senator.

"Even to have the issue addressed in the State of the State is big news. It shows he has some compassion for Rockefeller offenders," said Papa. He noted that a week ago, the laws didn't appear to be on Paterson's radar. The governor eventually granted clemency to one inmate serving a drug crime sentence.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was glad to hear the call for reform in the speech, and called the laws "draconian."




According to anonymous sources, Mexican drug cartels may be ready to cut the violence - not in response to government force, but in order to reduce bad publicity that could hurt business. Elsewhere, in Ohio a court bailiff may have been corrupted by drug money; a Canadian DARE speaker is such a great role model that he heads back to jail; and an Alabama sheriff seems shocked to learn that he can't starve the inmates in his jails and then keep all the money he saved on food.


Pubdate: Sun, 04 Jan 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Author: Alfredo Corchado

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Mexico's warring cartels are negotiating a truce that, if it holds, could end one of the bloodiest eras since the 1910-20 Mexican Revolution, according to a U.S. official and experts familiar with the talks.

A peace agreement would be the second in two years and, like the last one, its chances of surviving are slim, the U.S. official said.

"In the end, greed prevails over reason," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Last year was one of the bloodiest ever, with more than 5,700 people killed nationwide, including 1,600 in Ciudad Juarez.

Because of the mounting violence, some experts, including Howard Campbell, author of the upcoming book Drug War Zone, believe a truce is possible. Campbell, a border anthropologist at the University of Texas at El Paso, said violence will soon "peak out because all the attention is bad for business."

"These guys are businessmen," Campbell said. "Violence hurts the bottom line, their profits."

However, many experts and analysts on both sides of the border expect rising violence.




Pubdate: Sun, 04 Jan 2009
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Cincinnati Enquirer
Author: Kimball Perry

Defendants Allegedly Could Buy Secret Friend In Courtroom

Hoping to crack a federal drug case, investigators were listening in on telephone calls when they stumbled across a conversation that is sending shock waves through Hamilton County's judicial system.

On that wiretap, federal officials heard what they believe was an attempt by convicted drug dealer Charles Johnson to buy his freedom by arranging a meeting with a court bailiff he hoped would fix his sentence.

That alleged incident is the centerpiece of a criminal investigation into Damon Ridley, who was the bailiff for Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge John "Skip" West until Ridley was confronted with the allegations and resigned.

Johnson's case has investigators poring over thousands of court documents involving criminal cases before West over the last five years. They are looking at why some cases presided over by West never had their sentences carried out and why other cases before him had no activity for years.

The issue is whether Ridley, 37, who also is the girls' varsity basketball coach at Woodward High, accepted money or favors in exchange for fixing sentences handed down by West or delaying them so long that thousands of dollars in fines and court fees were never paid. Bailiffs run the day-to-day operations of courtrooms and schedule when cases are heard.




Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jan 2009
Source: Red Deer Advocate (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Black Press
Author: Jack Wilson

A man who once spoke to students about the dangers of drugs for a police program was sentenced to a federal jail term on Monday.

Clinton Augustin McIntosh, 40, of Red Deer pleaded guilty to a single armed robbery charge and a charge of resisting police when he appeared in provincial court.

He was sentenced to an additional 26 months in jail after receiving a three-year term. Judge John Holmes reduced the sentence by 10 months based on five months that McIntosh spent in remand awaiting his trial.

His first five months in custody were tacked onto a previous federal sentence he was forced to serve for violating terms of parole.

McIntosh was set to begin a seven-day trial on 21 offences, including eight robberies and an attempted robbery in Red Deer between Feb. 24 and March 10, 2008.

However, Crown prosecutor Denis Huot told the judge that he didn't have enough evidence to proceed with the majority of charges.

McIntosh once spoke to students for the RCMP during their DARE ( Drug Awareness Resistance Education ) program about drug use.




Pubdate: Fri, 9 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Page: A11
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Adam Nossiter

DECATUR, Ala. -- The prisoners in the Morgan County jail here were always hungry. The sheriff, meanwhile, was getting a little richer. Alabama law allowed it: the chief lawman could go light on prisoners' meals and pocket the leftover change.

And that is just what the sheriff, Greg Bartlett, did, to the tune of $212,000 over the last three years, despite a state food allowance of only $1.75 per prisoner per day.

In the view of a federal judge, who heard testimony from the hungry inmates, the sheriff was in "blatant" violation of past agreements that his prisoners be properly cared for.

"There was undisputed evidence that most of the inmates had lost significant weight," the judge, U. W. Clemon of Federal District Court in Birmingham, said Thursday in an interview. "I could not ignore them."

So this week, Judge Clemon ordered Sheriff Bartlett himself jailed until he came up with a plan to adequately feed prisoners more, anyway, than a few spoonfuls of grits, part of an egg and a piece of toast at breakfast, and bits of undercooked, bloody chicken at supper.




Another attempt is being made to carve out a religious exemption for the sacramental use of cannabis.

A disturbing court ruling in New Brunswick, Canada, where a judge considered an accused cultivators participation in online activism and cannabis legalization advocacy an aggravating factor.

In a reversal of fortune, Canadians are beginning to envy American progress in cannabis law reform.

Patients and advocates are seeking a judicial remedy to the recalcitrance of some Californian counties to issue patient identification cards.


Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jan 2009
Source: East Valley Tribune (AZ)
Copyright: 2009 East Valley Tribune.
Author: Howard Fischer
Bookmark: (Spiritual or Sacramental)

The Arizona Supreme Court Agreed Tuesday To Decide Whether There Is A Religious Right To Possess Marijuana.

Without comment, the justices granted to hear the arguments of Daniel Hardesty who contends the First Amendment protections of free exercise of religion entitle him to use marijuana as a "sacrament" of his church. Both a trial judge and the state Court of Appeals rejected those arguments.

If the high court decides otherwise, it would be the first time in Arizona that judges have concluded there is a legal defense for those who use marijuana.


Attorney Daniel DeRienzo, who represents Hardesty, said there is no evidence that allowing church members to use marijuana would result in serious harms. He called that "the 'Reefer Madness' argument," referring to a 1936 propaganda film which showed high schoolers lured into marijuana use engaging in manslaughter, suicide, rape and a descent into madness.

There is a precedent for what Hardesty wants. Arizona courts have allowed the possession of peyote for religious use by the Native American Church. But Weisberg said that is different, as prosecutors in that case never showed that peyote was addictive or being used in quantities that was harmful to the health of the participants.




Pubdate: Wed, 07 Jan 2009
Source: Miramichi Leader (CN NK)
Copyright: 2009 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Laura MacInnis

MIRAMICHI - The woman who was caught growing what she described as a "compassionate marijuana grow op" in her home in Bay du Vin will be going to jail in spite of telling the court she was attempting to help people who were sick and not to make money.

Eva Marie Duplessie, 45, flew back to Miramichi from her home in Toronto to hear her sentence on Monday, and found out she wouldn't be flying home soon.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette sentenced her to 12 months in jail for the operation, which was uncovered in 2007.

During the investigation, officers uncovered 213 plants growing in her home, along with highly elaborate equipment including lighting and timers. In total 24 pounds of harvested marijuana bud was seized from the home.

Standing to hear the decision, Duplessie did not cry but grew stone- faced, staring straight ahead.


But in his decision Ouellette said it was not his job to assess the ethics of her crime.

"This court does not decide the rightfulness of the offense."

He noted the large amounts of marijuana seized from her home and her attitude toward the drug as part of the reason for the jail time.

"This was clearly to feed her own addiction, but she felt morally justified," said Ouellette. "The offender does not intend to seek help."

As an aggravating factor he listed her presence in the drug culture and online network involved in aims to legalize marijuana.

"This was not one of impulse or a momentary lapse of judgment," he said.




Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Ian Mulgrew, Staff Writer

Barricade the border, America is going to pot.

For years we've heard Canada couldn't liberalize its marijuana laws without inciting a crackdown by U.S. authorities and creating chaos along the international boundary.

Well, the shoe's now on the other foot with some American jurisdictions telling police forces to quit making minor marijuana arrests and instead issue tickets.

In the country that four decades ago launched the interminable so- called War on Drugs? Perfidy.

Imagine, American legislators have been adopting progressive drug policies while Ottawa invoked Washington's wrath every time a commission or smart person said hobbling someone with a criminal record for smoking a joint is misguided.

Massachusetts last week became the latest American bailiwick to abandon the failed criminal prohibition strategy and embrace a more cost-effective regulatory approach to marijuana.

Guidelines for the new state law that went into effect at the start of the New Year end criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of THC -- the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, hashish or hash oil. They also recommend local municipalities adopt bylaws banning the use of cannabis in public.

The change was the result of a referendum in November that proposed treating pot possession not as a crime but as a civil offence carrying a penalty of a $100 fine and forfeiture of the drug.

It's not the best approach, but it's a start and it would be a good place for Canada to begin in terms of crafting a better drug regulatory regime. And I've learned a move is already under way here.




Pubdate: Tue, 6 Jan 2009
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Cindy Martinez Rhodes

SAN BERNARDINO - About 20 people from all points of San Bernardino County met in front of a San Bernardino courthouse Monday to cheer one of the last vestiges of the counterculture -- marijuana.

They came to show support for medical marijuana activist Scott Bledsoe, of Crestline, who filed a lawsuit Monday against San Bernardino County for refusing to issue him a medical marijuana card.

Named in the petition writ as respondent is Jim Lindley, director of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. A petition writ such as this only seeks enforcement of a law. It does not ask for financial compensation.

The pull between state law, which allows the sale of prescription marijuana, and federal law that bans it, has muddled the issue throughout the state. Locally, Riverside and Orange counties issue cards, while San Bernardino and San Diego counties do not.

"I'm thrilled. Beyond thrilled," Bledsoe said after filing his lawsuit with his lawyer, J. David Nick. "My phone rings constantly, people thanking me and telling me their stories. My heart breaks. They fear going to jail and in San Bernardino, it's a real possibility."

Nick said the lawsuit has been referred to the Superior Court in Needles and would be assigned a hearing date within the next week.




As the lame-duck Bush administration prepares to hand over power to an Obama administration, Washington "released" another 100 million dollars of U.S. taxpayer money to Mexico's notoriously corrupt police and military to "fight against drug cartels." In the past two years of intensified drug warring, the Calderon regime in Mexico has only managed to make the drug trade more violence filled, as drugs flow freely. Throwing U.S. taxpayer money freely at Mexican politicians, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza claimed the money would go to the Mexican military: to stop drugs, of course.

Quick, call out the drug war propagandists, because another newspaper let slip some prohibition heresy. Despite all the sensational publicity over decriminalized cannabis coffee shops in Holland, the Dutch use less cannabis than where cannabis is illegal, like Alabama, or Alberta. "UN statistics tell it like it is: 16.8 per cent of adult Canadians have tried cannabis, yet only 6.1 per cent of Dutch have," Canwest newspaper The Montreal Gazette admitted. "We want to make the case," said psychiatrist Frederik Polak, "that for most users, the recreational and functional use of drugs provides pleasure and enhances quality of life." Oh, the blasphemy!

And finally this week, two editorials, two prohibitionist points of view, two different places, yet both share the same big blind spot and just can't seem to understand how prohibition causes the very problems they attribute to "drugs". In the Westmeath Examiner's editorial this week, heroin use in rural Ireland (we are told) causes Aids, causes crime to pay for the heroin. Yet the Examiner's editors can't see how prohibition causes illicit heroin to assume black market prices, and the sharing of scarce, illegal needles encourages spread of disease. Instead, the answer is to denounce "your neighbors, your friends, or your relations" to the drug police.

Similarly, an editorial in the Calgary Herald attempted to persuade readers that, rather than blaming prohibition for violent drug turf battles, "Calgarians must accept that if they do illegal drugs, they are part of the problem." Pontificating from on high, the Calgary Herald editorial board asserted "society has already taken a position on the availability of substances likely to be harmful to one's health" so "legalizing narcotics" is an idea held by "holdouts" who are thus in "denial". "The truth is that a straight line of consequence connects the recreational buyer of banned drugs to Keni Su'a's body in the morgue". The answer -- and just in time to mesh with the Harper regime's lust to jail more cannabis users -- "time to go after the buyers."


Pubdate: Thu, 8 Jan 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press


Washington Releases an Additional $99 Million As Part of an Aid Package to Help Security Forces in Their Battle With Drug Cartels.

Mexico City -- The United States has released an additional $99 million as part of an aid package to support Mexico's police and soldiers in their fight against drug cartels.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said Wednesday that the funds would help Mexico's military buy aircraft and other equipment to help detect drugs, cash and weapons. He said the equipment would arrive in the fall.

Washington released $197 million in December as part of a $400-million U.S. anti-drug package for Mexico for this fiscal year.

The money is coming at a crucial time. Mexico's death toll from drug violence soared above 5,000 in 2008, and the killing has continued this year.




Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2009
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Connie Littlefield

Dutch Experience Shows Usage Going Down When Marijuana Is Legalized

It's official: The Dutch have managed to make pot smoking uncool. The Dutch don't smoke nearly as much cannabis as Canadians, which is surprising because cannabis use is legal in the Netherlands. What can we learn from this?

Cannabis is not taboo, as it is in North America under prohibition. That could be why there is no real attraction for Dutch youth to take up the practice. UN statistics tell it like it is: 16.8 per cent of adult Canadians have tried cannabis, yet only 6.1 per cent of Dutch have (2007 World Drug Report, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). Yet cannabis is legally available in 280 licensed coffeeshops in the Netherlands. Obviously, there is no connection between availability and higher consumption rates.

Despite the lower rates of use among adults, and despite the fact that Dutch teens try cannabis at much lower rates than North Americans, the coffeeshops are constantly threatened with closing. That's because the drug-warrior mentality has spread like fundamentalist wildfire across the globe.

I met a few folks on a recent trip to Amsterdam, and of those who grew up there, many said that they had not been interested in cannabis as teens. Most didn't even try it until they were adults - that's very different from the Great White North. When teens in Amsterdam think of pot smoking, they think of the chronically bewildered tourists they have to look out for while cycling downtown. For many, smoking pot is just not that much fun if there aren't any laws being broken.


"Another point that is not clear is whether this must be seen as a grave problem, a small problem, or as no problem," he said. "In general it is automatically assumed that higher drug-use levels are a bad thing. Many people see even unproblematic drug use as morally wrong. We want to make the case that for most users, the recreational and functional use of drugs provides pleasure and enhances quality of life."


Connie Littlefield's films include, Hofmann's Potion: The Early Years of LSD, and Damage Done: The Drug War Odyssey.



Pubdate: Tue, 6 Jan 2009
Source: Westmeath Examiner (Ireland)
Copyright: 2009 Westmeath Examiner

That there could be as many as 200 people in Mullingar using heroin is a shock. But to anyone who sits in a regular basis in Mullingar courthouse, it's probably less of a shock than to most people.

At every court sitting in Mullingar, there are appearances by people caught in possession of drugs - and by people in possession of drugs with intent to sell them or supply them to others.


So serious, indeed, is Westmeath's drugs problem that the Midland Regional Drugs Taskforce wants a needle exchange programme set up for the midlands, to reduce the possibility of addicts sharing needles, and perhaps, contracting and/or spreading diseases such as Aids.

It sounds like we could be facing into the sort of problems that bedevilled the 1980s, when drug addicts desperate to get money to pay for their drugs, were engaged heavily in crime, breaking into houses, snatching handbags, and selling whatever they could get their hands on for whatever they could get. And what's worrying is that if drugs are now so great a problem that there is a need for a needle exchange problem locally, it's clear that rural Ireland could be about to feel the full force of the sort of drugs problems that cities have long been coping with.

That said, there is not a village in this county where drugs are not available, nor where drugs are not used. We may console ourselves by thinking "Ah, it's only cannabis", even though it's long been known that cannabis is a "gateway" drug, one that starts people off on the road to addiction.

But make no mistake about it: even in rural Ireland, cocaine is in use - - and widely so. Ecstasy is in use. And it's not that difficult to come by, and indeed, in some circles, there is absolutely no stigma about using drugs.

The responsibility is back with us now. If we know who is involved in the drugs scene, it's not enough that we warn our children to keep away from them. We need to get on the phone, and tell the guards. It doesn't matter if they are your neighbours, your friends, or your relations. The fight against drugs must be absolute.




Pubdate: Wed, 07 Jan 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.

First it was an innocent person blinded by a bullet in the face. Now, another innocent man lies dead, a victim of gang violence in Calgary.The time has come for us all to adjust to a disturbing new reality.


Even more, however, Calgarians must accept that if they do illegal drugs, they are part of the problem. For without the attraction of the high profits for little effort that goes with the trade in illegal substances, there would be little reason for gangs to organize. Some holdouts, of course, might make this an argument for legalizing narcotics. But that, too, is a form of denial; society has already taken a position on the availability of substances likely to be harmful to one's health. The idea that the tobacco trade should be legally and progressively stifled, but that far more damaging substances should be legalized simply stands common sense on its head.

The truth is that a straight line of consequence connects the recreational buyer of banned drugs to Keni Su'a's body in the morgue and Jose Ribeiro Neto's blindness.


However, it's also time to go after the buyers. The Canadian Criminal Code already contains significant penalties for drug possession, that judges are strangely reluctant to impose. That has to change: the law not only forbids certain behaviours, but also signals what is right, and wrong. That is, contrary to the popular bromide one can legislate morality and when the penalties imposed on the customers of organized crime become sufficiently meaningful, public perceptions will change. It is within the power of government and the judicial system to make getting caught with drugs so harmful to personal reputations that it, too, won't be worth the risk.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


DPA's executive director, Ethan Nadelmann was interviewed for the Independent Film Channel's intriguing, and often hilarious, episode of "The IFC Media Project" which dissects the history and policies of drug prohibition in the U.S.


How a reckless mayor, heartless federal agents and a disorganized drug-consuming public led to a pointless raid on head shops.

By Norman Kent, CounterPunch


Fire Up The Digital Recorders! January Is `Marijuana' Month On The Groove Tube

By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director


Century of Lies - 01/06/09 - Norm Stamper

Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle and author of Breaking Rank - A Top Cops' Expose of the Dark Side of Policing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/07/09 - Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett discusses the history of the drug war + Fred Burton, VP of counterterrorism at Stratfor & author of "Ghost - Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent", Sigifredo Gonzales, sheriff of Zapata county and Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth county both call for a look at legalization & Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition


The Next Surgeon General Needs to Stop Putting Politics Before Science. Gupta May Not Be Ready for That.

By Russ Belville, NORML


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #567, 1/9/09

The DEA has rejected yet another petition seeking to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), this one from Iowa-based marijuana reformer Carl Olsen. It is only the latest petition rejection by the agency in a glacially-paced struggle to reschedule marijuana that has been going on since 1972.


The recent comments to various articles in the El Paso story yesterday reminded me of one of the frustrating parts of being in drug policy reform and, well, having a brain. It's the incredibly stupid arguments that reappear time and time again.

By Pete Guither




DrugSense FOCUS Alert #390 - Monday, 29 December 2008

It's A War' - Mexican President Felipe Calderon


Tuesday and Wednesday January 12th & 13th 2009, Washington DC

A Demonstration And Campaign To Gain Amnesty For Medical Marijuana Patients

For more information visit:



By Michelle Cohen

After nearly four decades of fueling the U.S. war on drugs with over a trillion tax dollars and 37 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses, our confined population has quadrupled, making prison building the fastest growing industry in the United States.

More than 2.2 million of our citizens are currently incarcerated, and every year we arrest an additional 1.9 million more, guaranteeing those prisons will be bursting at their seams. Every year we choose to continue this war will cost U.S. taxpayers another $69 billion. Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent and far easier to get than they were 35 years ago, at the beginning of the war on drugs.

Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before. We would suggest that this scenario must be the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!

We believe that to save lives and lower the rates of disease, crime and addiction, as well as to conserve tax dollars, we must end drug prohibition. LEAP [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition] believes that a system of regulation, and control of production and distribution, will be far more effective and ethical than one of prohibition.

We do this in hopes that we in law enforcement can regain the public's respect and trust, which have been greatly diminished by our involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

Michelle Cohen Schenectady

The writer is a LEAP volunteer and criminal justice student at SCCC.

Pubdate: Mon, 29 Dec 2008
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)


DrugSense recognizes Robert Sharpe as Letter to the Editor Writer of  ( Top )

Robert had 162 letters published last year, raising his career total to 2,075 published.

Robert writes as a volunteer for Common Sense for Drug Policy, Robert tells us that he is spending about an hour a day after work sending out letters, and yes, many more are not published than are. Robert's tips for letter writing are at You may read all of Robert's published letters at


Three Things You Can Do to Make a Difference  ( Top )

By Robert Sharpe

2009 presents unprecedented opportunities for drug policy reform. The drug war has always been part of a larger culture war, with grassroots activists on the frontlines. Now is the time to step it up. The economic downturn is putting tremendous pressure on state and local governments. Faced with the prospect of cutting police forces and reducing education funding, legislators are going to think twice before adding to what is already the highest incarceration rate in the world. The drug war as it is waged today is not sustainable. Following are three things you can do to speed up its inevitable end:

1. Write letters to the editor -- This especially applies to small community newspapers. According to a 2008 University of Missouri study, in towns served by community newspapers of 25,000 circulation or less, 86 percent of the population read a community newspaper each week. This is a critical prohibitionist audience that, before the Media Awareness Project came along, had little, if any, exposure to reform arguments.

Don't forget the major dailies. While readership has declined and their business model is suffering due to online ad competition, 2008 Pew Research suggests impressive newspaper readership, ranging from a low of 33 percent weekly readers among 18-24 year olds to a high of a 66 percent among those over 65. Until someone gives me $100 million to place ads on television, I'll continue to make use of the most cost-effective means of reaching large segments of the population with a reform message.

The newspaper vs. internet debate is a false dichotomy. Published LTEs appear online and reverberate in blogs throughout the internet. Pew research suggests that consumers who abandon hard copy newspapers turn to tradition media sources online. For local news, increasingly relevant during an economic decline, this means online newspapers.

2. Write your local elected officials - This is an area the reform movement has long overlooked. I don't get paid for drug policy activism. My day job is in a small local government. You'd be surprised at how easy it is for a handful of engaged citizens to sway a County Board. We're talking responsive government, not Congress members skeptical of e-activism with staff who respond with non-committal form letters when they respond at all.

When you write a local elected official, it's highly likely that he or she will personally read your letter. So if you want to kill DARE in your community because you don't want your school-age kids exposed to a counterproductive program, don't write your Senator, write your County Board member. Get a handful of like-minded citizens to do the same, throw in some credible research findings, and you might be surprised at the results.

I challenge all grassroots activists to do the following. Write your local elected officials and ask them three questions. How many drug offenders are currently incarcerated in the County jail? What does it cost to incarcerate someone for one day? How much does it cost to incarcerate someone for an entire year? Don't use a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for this. You won't get good results. FOIA requests are considered obnoxious. Unless a document already exists that directly relates to your concerns, you won't get a response. Write as a concerned citizen. Be polite, keep it short, and avoid long-winded policy prescriptions.

Your question will come at a time when elected officials are agonizing over the prospect of laying off dozens if not hundreds of local government employees. You'll definitely get them thinking. You may well inspire a new reform advocate. This is important. Elected officials become state legislators, who go on to become Congress members. Sow the seeds of reform.

If you get a written response that answers your questions - and there is a very good chance you will - put a press release cover page on it filled with reform arguments and send it to your local community newspaper as a citizen activist. Again, you might be surprised at the results. Starting a heated community debate during desperate economic times is easier done than you might think.

3. Support the Media Awareness Project - Last but definitely not least, support the Media Awareness Project: newshawk articles, volunteer as an editor, donate to DrugSense. The latter is especially important during these tough economic times. The Media Awareness Project leverages tremendous volunteer support and gets tremendous results on a shoestring budget. It serves as an information repository and catalyst for the entire movement; the sum is greater than the parts. I consider myself one of many grassroots activists. I get a lot of LTE hits, but I'm nothing without the newshawks, volunteer editors and donors. I give what I can and encourage you to do the same. Together, we are making a difference!

Activist Robert Sharpe is MAP's Letter Writer of The Year.


"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority." - Thomas Huxley

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