This Just In
(1)Editorial: Some New Taxes
(2)Hingham Cruisers Equipped With Marijuana Scales
(3)Tijuana Off-Limits to U.S. Marines
(4)Two Sides of a Border: One Violent, One Peaceful

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2009
Source: Reno News & Review (NV)
Copyright: 2009 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.

Nevada has a unique way of looking at taxes. We don't want to pay them. We know our government needs money to provide services--to build roads, to provide public safety, to educate students--and we want those services. We just think someone else should shell out for them. Saying that statement is not true, that it's somehow irresponsible, doesn't really advance the debate over how to solve the budget crisis.

As Nevadans, we prefer our tax-base to come from two sources, out-of- staters and the iniquitous. We especially like it when the two groups come together. We like to take advantage of other people's and business' weaknesses to fund our state's most basic needs.

So, let's cut through the bullshit. Let's be real. Until we accept that we are unwilling to pay our own way for our own government, we can't solve our state's budget crisis. It's that simple. Once we acknowledge that, though, we have a clear strategy for looking for new sources of revenue.


Legalizing the growth and sale of marijuana certainly appears to hit those two categories. A straight legalization of pot and hemp within our state borders would encourage a whole new kind of agriculture (and by the way, marijuana is a very low impact plant, requiring less water than many plants like corn, less fertilizer than beans and is usable in a variety of applications from paper to clothing to psychoactive mood enhancer), a new bracket of excise tax and a whole stream of regulatory fees and fines.

We can guarantee a steady stream of income if the state of Nevada were to legalize this fairly innocuous plant before one of the other desperate states in this desperate union decides to make the leap.




Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2009
Source: Daily News Tribune (Waltham, MA)
Copyright: 2009 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Mary Ford

HINGHAM, Mass. -- Possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana has been decriminalized, but marijuana has not been legalized.

That is the message that Hingham police want to get out there.

Since the "decriminalization law" went into effect on Jan. 2 police have imposed civil fines on five individuals in four Hingham incidents. If those incidents had occurred before Jan. 2, arrests would have been made.

The number of marijuana incidents is high for a time period of less than a month, police said. One incident involved two people smoking pot in a parking lot, and another involved a 17-year-old who had previously been arrested twice for possession of marijuana.

Many people think the vote made possession of marijuana legal so we are seeing people more brazen than ever smoking pot," said police spokesman Lt. Michael Peraino.

Police cruisers are equipped with battery-operated scales to weigh the marijuana, Peraino said.




Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: William M. Welch, USA TODAY

Restriction Imposed Due to Violence

LOS ANGELES -- For tens of thousands of U.S. Marines in Southern California, new orders from the brass amount to: Baghdad si, Tijuana no.

Citing a wave of violence and murder in Mexico, the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton has made the popular military "R&R" destinations of Tijuana and nearby beaches effectively off-limits for his Marines.

The order by Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland restricts travel into Mexico by the 44,000 members of the unit, many of whom have had multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones under their belts - -- or are there now.

The limits were first put in place for the Christmas holiday. Last week the commander extended the order indefinitely, said Mike Alvarez, civilian public information officer for the unit at Camp Pendleton.

"The situation in Mexico is now more dangerous than usual," he said. "The intent is just to look out for the Marines' safety and well-being."

Tijuana has been a popular attraction for Californians since Prohibition days, when legal liquor was unavailable north of the border. In more recent times, its 18-year-old drinking age, cheap prices, gambling, beaches, tourist-oriented businesses and bars have attracted civilians and off-duty military from the San Diego area and elsewhere.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: James McKinley Jr.

EL PASO -- Every day, as she gets off a bus in Mexico and crosses the border to go to work in downtown El Paso, Edith Escobedo says she feels a sense of relief. For at least the next eight hours, she says to herself, she is safe from the violence ripping apart Ciudad Juarez.

"One lives with fear over there," Ms. Escobedo said, as she waited for customers in the Casa Sylvia clothes shop. "It is pure fear, pure insecurity. One cannot even go out at night. It's curious that here it's so different. It's another way of life."

Juarez and El Paso are divided only by the narrow Rio Grande and a couple of border checkpoints that have done little over the years to stop the steady back and forth of trade and family visits.

The two cities are so close that the mayor of El Paso can look out his office window to view downtown Juarez.

But in other ways the two cities are worlds apart these days.

El Paso still enjoys its status as one of the safest cities in the United States, while Juarez, a city of 1.5 million that has always been rough, has become a battleground for drug cartels. More than 1,550 people were killed there in drug wars last year.





Many institutions got overly excited about drugs and drug policy last week. The U.S. Airforce has joined in salvia divinorum hysteria, banning airmen from using the substance, even though it is still legal in many states and countries. Ongoing heavy-handed government idiocy over drug paraphernalia is explored by Jacob Sullum at Reason. In Montana, state legislators push and pull at a voter approved medical marijuana law. And, in one of his final acts as president, George Bush partially gives in to true believer prohibitionists who saw a pair of border guards convicted of misconduct as victims.


Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2009
Source: Stars and Stripes - European Edition (Europe)
Copyright: 2009 Stars and Stripes
Author: Mark Abramson

Getting high on substances or drugs that are legal in some European countries and the States can now cost U.S. Air Forces Europe airmen their ranks, their careers, or more.

USAFE commander Gen. Roger Brady issued an order earlier this month banning the use of salvia divinorum, a drug called Spice and some inhalants. A similar ban was issued in the RAF Lakenheath-based 48th Fighter Wing in September, and other Air Force installations, including Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., have like prohibitions.

"I am concerned with reports of military personnel abusing salvia divinorum, inhalants and a mixture of herbs with psychoactive effects commonly known as Spice," Brady said in an Air Force release. Officials at Yokota Air Base in Japan have also recognized the dangers of those drugs by issuing a warning about Spice and over-the-counter medications.

Salvia divinorum, also known as Sally D and Magic Mint, is an herb native to parts of Mexico. It is chewed or smoked, and its hallucinogenic effects can last up to 30 minutes. Spice is an herb comparable to marijuana.

As for inhalants, the new order bans airmen from sniffing, snorting or huffing household and commercial products such as glues, lighter and cleaning fluids, paint products and medical anesthetics.

Although nobody has been court-martialed in USAFE for any offense related to using salvia and the other drugs under the ban, the order was issued to ensure that USAFE maintains its mission capabilities, said Col. Zeb Pischnotte, the 3rd Air Force's staff judge advocate.

"We don't see that we have a problem in USAFE, [Gen. Brady] wanted to give commanders in the field a tool to get ahead of this emerging problem. We are seeing a problem in the States," Pischnotte said.



 (6) BONGS AWAY!  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 1 Feb 2009
Source: Reason Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2009 The Reason Foundation
Author: Jacob Sullum

How the Crusade Against Drug Paraphernalia Punishes Controversial Speech

A few weeks before Barack Obama was elected president, Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania, filed criminal charges against the makers of the Whizzinator, a fake penis used to deliver clean urine for drug tests. The strap-on phallus, which comes in assorted "natural, lifelike skin tones," is connected by a tube to a hidden bladder containing urine ( sold separately ) that is untainted by marijuana metabolites. According to its manufacturer, Puck Technology of Signal Hill, California, the Whizzinator is so realistic that "we can't show you the whole thing," which is why ads for it in publications such as High Times had to be censored, with a marijuana leaf obscuring a photograph of the product in action.

Puck openly sold the Whizzinator and a companion product aimed at women, Number 1, through its website for several years. Its president, Gerald Wills, and vice president, Robert Catalano, did not believe they were violating any laws. But Buchanan argued that Wills and Catalano were selling illegal drug paraphernalia, a federal crime punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A 1986 amendment to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 defines drug paraphernalia as any item "primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance." After some research ( presumably focused on possible interpretations of concealing ), Puck's attorney concluded that Buchanan might have a case, so Wills and Catalano decided to plead guilty.

It was fitting that one of Buchanan's last prosecutions before the election involved drug paraphernalia disguised as a penis. Taking up causes championed by the Bush administration in response to the demands of social conservatives, she has shown a conspicuous enthusiasm for attacking both paraphernalia and pornography, areas that were of little interest to the Clinton administration and are not likely to be high priorities under President Obama. In addition to taking down the Whizzinator and investigating the manufacturer of Urine Luck, a drug-masking product, Buchanan spearheaded a highly publicized 2003 operation that resulted in drug paraphernalia charges against dozens of defendants, including comic actor Tommy Chong, nabbed for selling bongs. That same year, she charged Robert and Janet Zicari, operators of the porn studio Extreme Associates, with 10 obscenity violations that carry penalties of up to 50 years in prison. After being dismissed by the trial judge and reinstated by an appeals court, the Extreme Associates case is finally scheduled to be heard by a jury in March.




Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jan 2009
Source: Great Falls Tribune (MT)
Copyright: 2009 Great Falls Tribune
Author: John S. Adams

HELENA -- When voters passed the Montana Medical Marijuana Act by a wide margin in 2004, would-be medical marijuana patients across state the rejoiced.

For the first time, Montana doctors could legally recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, debilitating pain, multiple sclerosis and many other ailments. Supporters and patients saw the passage of the initiative as validation for the plant they say is a wonder drug.

Marijuana's detractors still have their doubts.

Lawmakers will hear from both sides this week as the Legislature begins hearings on two bills designed to modify the 2004 medical marijuana law.

Supporters of medical marijuana say a bill scheduled for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning is an attempt by detractors to unfairly single out marijuana patients in the case of traffic stops.

Senate Bill 212, sponsored by Sen. Verdell Jackson, R-Kalispell, says that if a medical-marijuana patient or caregiver is stopped for a traffic violation or is involved in a crash, the police can demand the person submit to a blood test. Under the proposed law, if the driver is found to be impaired by marijuana -- based on limits outlined in the bill -- they could face prosecution and forfeiture of their medical marijuana privileges.


The two medical marijuana bills up for hearing this week are the first of several expected to come before the Legislature this session. Other bills that have yet to be introduced include a measure to increase the amount of marijuana patients and caregivers are allowed to possess. Another would add ailments such as PTSD and Alzheimer's disease to the list of ailments for which marijuana could be recommended.

Tom Berry, R-Roundup, is working on a bill that would bar persons convicted of a felony drug offense from the state medical marijuana registry. That bill would also stiffen the penalties for people who violate the restriction of the medical marijuana law.




Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jan 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: John D. Mckinnon and Evan Perez

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush commuted the prison terms of two former Border Patrol agents who became a conservative cause celebre after being convicted in the 2005 shooting of an unarmed, suspected drug smuggler. The White House said Monday that Mr. Bush, who leaves office Tuesday, would not be issuing any more grants of clemency. That means there will be no last-minute pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Mr. Bush had commuted Mr. Libby's 30-month sentence after he was convicted of perjury in 2007 in a case involving the leaking of the identity of intelligence agent Valerie Plame.

Nor will there be pardons for several business executives and members of Congress who are serving, or face, prison time.

The two Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were serving 12- and 11-year sentences, respectively, for shooting Mexican Osvaldo Aldrete Davila as he was fleeing from the vicinity of an abandoned van containing about 700 pounds of marijuana, along the Rio Grande border near El Paso, Tex. The agents later said they thought they saw something shiny in Mr. Davila's hand, leading them to think he was armed. They said they fired in self-defense.

A federal court in Texas convicted them of assault, civil rights violations and other charges. Most of the charges were upheld on appeal. The victim survived and is suing the U.S. government.




Will prison reform finally come because of money - or to be more precise - a lack there of? It seems likely as states scramble to cut prison and other judicial costs as a result of budget shortfalls. At the same time, the spoils of the drug war for the other side are displayed at a Mexican museum; and, drugs continue to flow into prisons despite strict measures to stop the activity.


Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2009
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2009 The Huntsville Times
Author: Bob Lowery, Times Staff Writer

Increase Unlikely; Fewer Prisoners Is Answer, Chief Says

MONTGOMERY - State prisons aren't likely to receive a budget increase for the next budget year, so state prison Commissioner Richard Allen said Thursday he saw no reason Thursday to mention a dollar figure during legislative budget hearings.

The Department of Corrections received $363.85 million this fiscal year.

Allen said he presented a $477-million budget in August for fiscal 2010 to Gov. Bob Riley, but that was before the nation fell into a recession.

That figure "has no meaning now," he said. "It's obsolete."

For the new fiscal year, Allen said his agency will focus on how to "dampen down" the number of new inmates.

Those programs will center on sentencing reform, community corrections, new goals for pardons and paroles and a supervised re-entry program.




Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jan 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Jennifer Liberto

The State's Budget Cuts Have Hit The Ranks Of Probation Officers, With 66 Of Them Losing Jobs, 22 Of Those In South Florida

TALLAHASSEE -- With the state budget tightening, 66 Department of Corrections probation officers lost their jobs last week.

The layoffs targeted those with less than a year of service and represented a 3 percent reduction in the probation officer force statewide, including 22 in South Florida. The cuts, made Thursday, stemmed from last year's cuts in the prison system's budget, which faces a $28 million hole in its balance sheet.

''I truly regret having to take this action, but we have no other options, given the current budget situation,'' said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil.

Cutting probation officers statewide ''minimizes the impact to public safety,'' said spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger.

The cuts came a few years after probation officers stepped into the spotlight with two high-profile murders of children, Carlie Brucia and Jessica Lunsford. Both were killed by felons who had violated their probation, prompting lawmakers to crack down on probation violators and increase the workload of probation officers.

The office of Gov. Charlie Crist, who led the crackdown charge, said the layoffs would not affect how the law is carried out.

''It's purely economics. You can only do what you can afford to do,'' said Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa. ``Right now, there's not enough revenue to do what should be done.''




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jan 2009
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Copyright: 2009 Seattle Weekly
Author: Nina Shapiro

Gregoire's Crafting A Bill, As Part Of Her Sweeping Cost-Cutting Plan, That Would Further Reduce Drug Sentences.

It took two years of political warfare before the state Legislature managed to pass a bill in 2002 that reduced prison sentences for drug offenders by as much as two-thirds, and offered treatment instead of incarceration in some cases. The fight drew media attention as conservative legislators dug in their heels. "I'm not willing to go there," Sen. Pam Roach ( R-Auburn ) was quoted as saying in The Seattle Times.

What a difference a collapsing economy makes.

As the legislative session got underway last week, Gov. Christine Gregoire began crafting a bill that would further reduce drug sentences as part of her sweeping cost-cutting plan. Sentences would be cut by 25 percent for virtually all drug crimes, says John Lane, the Governor's public safety policy advisor. Only the most serious, "Level III" offenses ( such as involving a minor in drug-dealing ) would be untouched. In fiscal 2008, just 95 of nearly 8,000 drug offenses were Level III, according to state figures. Gregoire isn't motivated by a desire to reform our drug laws, says Lane, but rather by sheer economics.




Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jan 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Jo Tuckman

Mexican drug traffickers not only shoot with their pistols, they make statements with them too. Take the Colt 45 that one hitman embellished with rubies and emeralds in the shape of a crown, or the inscription on the firearm of a high-ranking rival proclaiming: "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees." A third trafficker gold-plated his weapon and set 221 diamonds on its handle.

All three weapons now lie together in display cases alongside other examples of "narco bling" at the drug trafficking museum in Mexico City.

"This room has examples of the culture of people who traffic drugs; it can be a little eccentric," said Captain Claudio Montane, a guide at the military museum, whose exhibits include bulletproof clothes and a shrine to the popular folklore hero Jesus Malverde, a bandit turned "narco saint". The gallery also contains a wooden door carved with a smuggler ready for battle, and a photograph of a trafficker's baby posed in front of a dozen rifles.

The museum, first opened in 1985 and repeatedly expanded, has taken on added resonance in a country in the grip of some of the worst drugs-related violence in the western hemisphere.

Mexico's cartels control most of the Colombian-grown cocaine heading to the US. They also oversee local production of methamphetamines, cannabis and heroin, as well as supply in a growing domestic market. A recent report estimated that 500,000 Mexicans are directly involved. Last year, deaths from drugs-related crime more than doubled to a record 5,600.




Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2009
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Randy Ludlow

Despite Penalties, Scores Are Caught Each Year Trying To Smuggle Them In

The contraband was lobbed over the fence in tennis balls, swapped and swallowed from a shared cup of coffee, and tucked into gutted TV converters and hollowed-out books.

Some Ohio prison inmates with a craving for drugs regularly succeed in recruiting friends and family in hopes of scoring an illicit high behind the confines of the razor wire.

The methods used to smuggle narcotics into state prisons last year ranged from the ingenious to the obvious, but at least 115 attempts met the same fate: They failed.

More than 100 people were apprehended during 2008 while trying to slip illegal drugs to inmates in Ohio's 32 state prisons, with most, in turn, earning their own time behind bars.


Illegal conveyance of drugs in a prison or jail is a third-degree felony punishable by one to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Inmates on the receiving end face up to six months in isolation and transfer to a higher-security prison.

Despite the potential punishments, drugs still trickle in. Random testing last year yielded 355 dirty drug tests among inmates, nearly 1 percent of all those tested.

North Central Correctional Institution near Marion had the largest problem, by far, among state prisons with 80 inmates (5.6 percent of those tested ) testing positive for illegal drug use.




Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini of New Jersey pinned a mind-numbingly inane oped in opposition to proposed medicinal cannabis regulations in her state. Her piece contained so many mischaracterizations, distortions, omissions, inaccuracies and threadbare prohibitionist arguments that MAP letter writers were left wondering which points to counter.

Potheads who insist that cannabis is relatively harmless need to put down their bongs and think again. Cannabis leads to loss of parental custody, loss of life and entanglement in a violent criminal underworld.


Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jan 2009
Source: Times, The (Trenton, NJ)
Copyright: 2009 The Times
Author: Mary Pat Angelini

Marijuana use has been shown to affect short-term memory, disrupt cognitive functions and lead to depression and anxiety. Studies have also demonstrated links between massive marijuana usage to occurrences of heart attack, stroke and abnormalities in the brain.

Despite these dangerous consequences, a national survey by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that nearly 95 million Americans over the age of 21 have tried marijuana at least once. Roughly 7.1 million Americans abuse illegal drugs, and more than 60 percent abuse marijuana. In fact, our country is currently struggling to control this substance and make it very clear that policies must be initiated that will further restrict access to the drug versus granting permission to obtain the substance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which opposes the use of smoked marijuana, is the federal agency that certifies what drugs are safe and those that have a medicinal benefit. It is critical that scientific research be conducted to determine the ramifications of smoking a potentially dangerous substance. In 2006, the FDA declared that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and that there is a lack of accepted safety for its use, even under medical supervision. The very idea of ingesting a "medicine" by smoking it is counter- intuitive.


What is troubling about this legislation is the message that it sends to our youth. I have seen firsthand the devastation that drugs and alcohol bring not only to the individual who uses these products, but to their families and friends, as well. We should not be in the position of trying to justify to young people that smoking marijuana under certain circumstances is permissible, but unlawful and harmful under others.




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jan 2009
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009, The Australian
Author: Caroline Overington

Two healthy children who had never been abused or neglected by their parents were forced into foster care last September after it was found the couple had smoked cannabis.

The two children -- a girl, aged two, and her baby brother -- were removed from their home by police officers after two case workers from the NSW Department of Community Services had reported their concerns over the parents' drug use.

But three months later, NSW Supreme Court judge George Palmer ordered that the children be returned to their parents, whom a psychologist had found to be "loving, sensitive and ... well able to provide for the safety, welfare and well-being of their infant children".

Justice Palmer described the actions of the DOCS workers as a "serious abuse" of their position, and questioned whether it was the policy of the department "that any parent who uses cannabis, no matter how infrequently, is for that reason alone unfit to care for a child".

If so, "that view should be made public, so there may be public debate about it", the judge said. "There was no evidence that their cannabis use in itself posed any direct risk of harm to the children."




Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jan 2009
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Ryan Haggerty

A 26-year-old man shot and killed Sunday night by a Milwaukee police officer who believed the man had a weapon was identified Monday by the Police Department as Domonick Washington.

Washington began fighting with two officers during a traffic stop and appeared to be reaching for a weapon in his waistband, but police did not find a weapon at the scene and do not believe Washington was armed, department spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said.

Police did recover half a pound of marijuana from Washington, including marijuana that had been packaged for sale, Schwartz said. Washington also had $740 and was wanted on a municipal warrant in connection with a drug charge, she said.

Washington's family said he was not a drug dealer and said they doubted he would have fought with police officers.

"He's not aggressive at all," said Washington's cousin, Tosha Powell. "He wouldn't ever, ever attack a police officer. I wasn't there, but I would bet my life that that wouldn't happen. That's just not his character."




Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jan 2009
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2009 The Tribune Co.
Website: Bookmark:

Tallahassee-area law enforcement officers failed Rachel Hoffman horribly last spring while she was working as an informant during a controlled drug buy. They lost visual and audible contact with her, and the 23-year-old, who had recently graduated from Florida State University, was gunned down.

The Pinellas County woman's death - at the hands of drug dealers she was trying to help police put behind bars - illustrates the need for the state to establish minimum standards for the use of informants. Her parents, wanting to prevent similar tragedies, are pushing for reforms with the help of two Tampa Bay area lawmakers.

Importantly, "Rachel's Law," sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano and Rep. Peter Nehr, does not seek to ban the use of informants, who are necessary in police work. They often have needed contacts and provide law enforcement critical evidence, especially when they had been engaged in wrongdoing themselves. They usually receive breaks on their sentences or lesser charges and sometimes even avoid prosecution altogether for successful efforts. As any veteran law enforcement officer can tell you this is often essential to making a case.

But investigating drug dealing and other crimes is dangerous - more so for untrained people such as Hoffman, who had been charged with felony marijuana possession and was described in a grand jury report as having a "well-established" marijuana distribution business. She clearly was vulnerable and left exposed in the $13,000 botched police operation to purchase 1,500 ecstasy pills, two ounces of cocaine and a gun from dealers she didn't know in the Panhandle.




What happens if Mexico collapses and "the cartels did somehow take over Mexico?", asks Andy Comer in The Monitor newspaper this week. The "federal troops would be likely powerless to stop drug lords from butchering each other," pretty much the situation now. Followed by a ray of sunshine and sense: "Cartel violence [in Mexico] will only subside when America's prohibition of drugs is loosened or ended altogether. People will always want drugs, and dealers will always find ways to supply users."

Likewise from Trinidad and Tobago, sociology professor and University of the West Indies criminology lecturer Onwubiko Agozino has some advice for governments "on how to solve crime". Number one, "Decriminalise marijuana for five years and see if it will make a difference. It will create jobs for young people who sell it. Doctors will be able to prescribe it for Aids and cancer patients. You have a product that could make huge contributions to the economy, and you are saying no?"

Two items from the U.K. this week. In the first, we are informed not by researchers, scientists, or health professionals, but the diagnosis of police in West Yorkshire is the really potent cannabis "on the streets" is damaging the mental health of cannabis users. On the other hand, in the second report a mediaeval (though commonplace) punishment of 'pain or prison' was meted out to medical cannabis user Stuart Wyatt, in Plymouth by Judge Francis Gilbert. Quick to criticize the decision was the Legalise Cannabis Alliance: "How can it be just to send a man to prison, or to torture him by keeping him away from pain-relieving plants when he has caused no trouble, done no harm and posed no threat?"

And finally this week, many prohibitionists will be sock-hopping mad when it was revealed the "1950s dance craze" song, "The Hokey Pokey" (known in the U.K. as "The Hokey Cokey") was -- according to the son of the man who copyrighted the song in 1942 -- a song about cocaine. The Hokey Cokey's "unusual title was to do with drugs taken by the miners in Canada to cheer themselves up in the harsh environment where they were prospecting... The word 'Cokey' means a dope-fiend." Shake it all about, indeed.


Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2009
Source: Monitor, The (McAllen, TX)
Copyright: 2009 The Monitor
Author: Andy Comer


If the cartels did somehow take over Mexico, the nation's federal troops would be likely powerless to stop drug lords from butchering each other in border towns like Progreso or Reynosa. Violence would inevitably spill over into the Valley, putting innocent American lives at risk.


Cartel violence will only subside when America's prohibition of drugs is loosened or ended altogether. People will always want drugs, and dealers will always find ways to supply users. Anyone who reads The Monitor even on a casual basis is likely to see stories about drug seizures involving marijuana - as in several hundred pounds of the stuff - confiscated almost daily. Some Libertarians suggest that the legalization of marijuana would reduce crime in both the United States and especially Mexico. Perhaps the governments of both countries could create new jobs and make billions of dollars off of taxes or tariffs on legalized, strictly controlled marijuana, which would do nothing but help in a time of economic distress.




Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2009
Source: Trinidad Express (Trinidad)
Copyright: 2009 Trinidad Express
Author: Nazma Muller

Nazma Muller talks to Onwubiko Agozino, a professor of sociology and a graduate of Edinburgh University in Scotland, Cambridge University in England and Calabar University in Nigeria. A lecturer in criminology at UWI, he had some very interesting propositions for the Government on how to solve crime.


This country is not different from any country in the world today. We are seeing a lot of violent crime related to the narcotics trade. Narco-terrorism in South America is related to attempts to extradite drug lords. A lot of young people are involved in the drug trade because it's very lucrative, although the foot soldiers often make less than the minimum wage. The trade has a lot of resources. It's a very serious threat to security at the national and the international levels.

Obviously, though, the narcotics trade is not the only reason for violent crimes, because there was violence before the trade. Go back into the history of the Caribbean to the years of slavery, to the wars between European powers over these islands. The slave trade yielded huge profits through systemic violence, so there is systemic violence in the very foundation of these societies. The trade in humans was treated as legal by the colonising powers, but it is recognised today as a crime against humanity.

We have to find a way of dealing with the trade in illicit drugs in such a way that we can reduce the violence and the crimes associated with that trade.


I would tell him, try the Dutch experiment. Decriminalise marijuana for five years and see if it will make a difference. It will create jobs for young people who sell it. Doctors will be able to prescribe it for Aids and cancer patients. You have a product that could make huge contributions to the economy, and you are saying no? And it doesn't cost the Government anything.




Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2009
Source: Yorkshire Post (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Johnston Press New Media
Author: Andrew Robinson

High strength cannabis on the streets of West Yorkshire could be damaging the mental health of smokers, claim police.

The warning came after several more cannabis "farms" were discovered in houses across the county, bringing the total number discovered since the start of 2007 to 520 -- a total of more than 57,500 cannabis plants.

Officers have discovered that cannabis on the streets of West Yorkshire tends to be more potent. It also warns that the reclassification of cannabis from class C to class B on Monday January 26 will have serious implications for those who consume and cultivate the drug.




Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2009
Source: Herald, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 The Western Morning News Co. Ltd

Supporters have condemned the choice of 'pain or prison' given to cannabis campaigner Stuart Wyatt by a Plymouth judge.

The Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) said that people in constant suffering such as 36-year-old Wyatt should not be penalised by the law.


Wyatt, who has a working diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome but is also being tested for multiple sclerosis, admitted using cannabis for medicinal purposes. He often turned the drug into a paste which he rubbed on to his body.

He also admitted that he supplied the paste to other people in pain.


A spokesman for the LCA said: "This is an outrageously unjust misapplication of the law.

"The Misuse of Drugs Act was supposedly created to try to protect people from the risks of harm from certain drugs, not to prevent people from growing a few plants to use to ease their pain and suffering.

"How can it be just to send a man to prison, or to torture him by keeping him away from pain-relieving plants when he has caused no trouble, done no harm and posed no threat?

"It is a sad day for British justice when the law is misapplied in this way -- when an innocent man gets punished. The judge rightly said that nobody is above the law -- which proves beyond doubt that the law now needs to be changed."



 (22) DOPE ON HOKEY POKEY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service

Popular Ditty Was Not About Catholics, Just Drug-Addled Canadian Miners

The Hokey Pokey -- the right-hand-in, right-handout ditty that is a musical staple of nursery schools -- has become the focus of a bizarre controversy in Britain that has drawn in politicians, the Catholic Church and soccer fans accused of exploiting the song's alleged anti-Catholic roots to taunt opposing teams.

To add to the strangeness, the son of famed Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy -- the man credited with penning the lyrics to one of the world's most familiar melodies -- has now weighed in on the controversy to reveal what he says is the true inspiration for his father's hit: a traditional Canadian folk tune sung by miners in the early 20th century as a drug anthem celebrating the therapeutic powers of cocaine.


Now, in a letter published on Tuesday in the Financial Times, Jimmy Kennedy Jr. has written that the version created by his late father, the renowned lyricist of Teddy Bears' Picnic, "was founded on a traditional Canadian song and is the one copyrighted and played and danced to all over the world --and still earns royalties."

He quoted his father's own recollections about how the ditty emerged from a 1942 gathering of Canadian soldiers at a London nightclub.

"They were having a hilarious time, singing and playing games, one of which they said was a Canadian children's game called the Cokey Cokey. I thought to myself, wouldn't that be fun as a dance to cheer people up! So when I got back to my hotel, I wrote a chorus based on the feet and hand movements the Canadians had used, with a few adaptations. A few days later, I wrote additional lyrics to it but kept the title, Cokey Cokey, and, as everybody knows, it became a big hit."

Mr. Kennedy Jr. said his father told him "the unusual title was to do with drugs taken by the miners in Canada to cheer themselves up in the harsh environment where they were prospecting" and said his father even had a notation on the back of the sheet music: "The word 'Cokey' means a dope-fiend."


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Phillip S. Smith, DRCNet

Mexico's drug war has escalated to the level of increasing concern among US policy and defense analysts.


The House of Lords will be debated `the United Nations Declaration on countering the world drug problem', in the Main Chamber, January 21st at 11am. The debate was led by Baroness Meacher (cross bench) who called on the Government to follow the recommendation of the 2002 Home Affairs Select Committee to debate alternatives to prohibition at the UN level at this year's upcoming 10 year review of UN drug policy in Vienna.


By Allan Clear, AlterNet

Regardless of how one might feel about drug users, syringe exchange is effective, is essential and there is momentum for change.


Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

By Barack Obama, President of the United States


Health Ledger was nominated for a posthumous Oscar award today for his haunting role as the Joker in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight. The announcement happens to coincide with the anniversary of Heath Ledger's tragic overdose death last year in New York.

By Isaac Skelton and Meghan Ralston


Century of Lies - 01/20/09 - Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke, El Paso city councilman re call to consider legalization & AMF Bush! : Keith Olberman + DTN Editorial

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/21/09 - Ed Rosenthal

Ed Rosenthal & Dale Gieringer, Co-Authors of "Medical Marijuana Handbook" + Terry Nelson of LEAP & a visit from Ray Hill of the Prison Show


By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

With the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, the rhetoric of change echoes through the corridors of power in the nation's capital. Nowhere is it more urgent or important to convert that rhetoric into reality than in the area of substance abuse and addiction. And nowhere would the return on investment of public funds be higher.


CNBC's Trish Regan goes behind the scenes to explore the inner workings of this secretive industry, focusing on Northern California's "Emerald Triangle," now the marijuana capital of the U.S. In this scenic pocket of America, the pot business, much of it legal under state law, now makes up as much as two-thirds of the local economy.



Advocates call on president Obama to quickly change harmful, outdated policy.

Tell President Obama to end medical marijuana raids.


The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is looking for creative, attention-grabbing and poignant images and videos that graphically express the everyday reality and impact of the global drug war on public health, public security and human rights.



By Matt Wolfgang

Drug dealers and drug users did not create the dangerous black market in which they do business. Politicians did. Drinkers didn't make Al Capone a dangerous and rich man. Prohibition did. In much the same way drug users aren't at fault for Senior Cpl. Norman Smith's death - -- it's the market in which they are forced to do business.

If our politicians refuse to take control of the illicit drug market by taxing and regulating these substances, other brave men will die in the name of letting criminals control the drug market.

We took control of tobacco, and now teen tobacco use is at its lowest level since the '90s.

Who do you really want controlling the supply of these drugs, legitimate businesses or criminals?

Matt Wolfgang, Dallas

Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jan 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)


Narcs Toss Political Gift To New President  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

Dear President Obama,

How about the congratulations offered to you by the Drug Enforcement Administration? Only days into your tenure, a federal agency challenges your authority and attempts to undermine your credibility.

Some say yesterday's raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on a medical cannabis dispensary in California was primarily an act of disrespect to you, as you pledged to stop such raids while campaigning.

And while the raid was indeed disrespectful to you and the voters of California, it offers a great opportunity.

I imagine you and your advisers are already on this, but I can't resist tossing in my two cents, hoping you might run across it via Blackberry.

You talked about change, you talked about the end of wasteful practices, you talked about the importance of inclusiveness. Here's an easy way to show you meant it.

Tell the DEA to stop blocking medicine from the sick, and to respect the will of state voters. Tell the DEA to expect consequences if they do not listen.

Such an act would have the following effects:

* Show that you are serious about change * Demonstrate that you will protect the weak * Stop a stupid and wasteful practice that is not supported by a majority of Americans * Indicate to other federal agencies (and the American people) that you are not afraid to kick a little bureaucratic ass if those agencies seem to be going rogue

What's the downside? You will irritate some DEA people and some professional prohibitionists.

They are irrelevant.

Many within the DEA know that there are much bigger problems to be addressed and that the cannabis club raids offer nothing more than bad publicity.

As for the prohibitionists, you'll quickly learn that they will display something akin to withdrawal tremors any time they perceive a challenge to their domain. And far from accepting austerity, they will always demand more resources. (I used to tell a joke about it: How many prohibitionists does it take to change a light bulb? Nobody knows, but they need a lot more money and power to get the job done.)

Prohibitionists need to understand lean times call for cut-backs on obvious waste; sometimes entire government efforts need to go, as you noted in this section of your inauguration address:

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end."

General prohibition meets none of the standards you set forth. Cannabis club raids demonstrates a direct mockery of those standards.

When you demand that the raids end, you and the people win politically.

If only all the conflicts you will face were this easy to resolve.


Stephen Young

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly and author of How to Inhale the Universe Without Wheezing.


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