This Just In
(1)Federal Sentence Urged For 3 Ex-Cops
(2)Pot Lawyers Walk Fine Line
(3)Borderline Madness
(4)Column: Sports Should Go Green, Allow Pot Smoking

Hot Off The 'Net
-Obama Makes A Good First Step On Medical Marijuana / Aaron Houston
-Media Hysterics About Supposed Cancer Link Nothing New / Paul Armentano
-Former Latin American Presidents Call For A `Paradigm Shift'
-Advice For The New Drug Czar / Mark Kleiman And Harold Pollack
-The Drug War Wall Begins To Fall / Al Giordano
-Drug Truth Network

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Tim Eberly, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday recommended federal sentences for three former Atlanta police officers who have pleaded guilty for their roles in the shooting death of an elderly woman during a botched drug raid.

The report describes the frequent misconduct that occurred in the Police Department's narcotics unit before the November 2006 shooting death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston. She was shot when narcotics officers mistakenly targeted her home as a drug house. They tried to cover up the deadly error.

The U.S. attorney's office is recommending that Jason R. Smith serve 151 months in federal prison - about 12 1/2 years - and that Gregg Junnier and Arthur Tesler serve 121 months ( roughly 10 years ).

Prosecutors are asking for some sentence reductions for cooperation with the investigation, and that the federal sentences be served concurrently with any jail time they receive from their state charges.

A federal judge will take the federal prosecutors' report and recommended sentences into consideration before sentencing the three former officers on Feb. 23.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Feb 2009
Source: Recorder, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 ALM Properties, Inc.
Author: Dan Levine

Taking on commercial pot growers as clients leads to hazy areas involving liability and ethics

Joshua Hedlund will soon be sentenced for his connections to an indoor marijuana farm in Berkeley, Calif., where police found more than 5,000 plants.

Years before pleading guilty, though, he appeared in tax solo Zachary Epstein's office as a young, clean-cut real estate developer on the make. Hedlund's father had been a Humboldt County, Calif., supervisor, and his grandfather, Earl Hedlund, was once district attorney in rural Tehama County, Calif.

"He was a very bright guy, college educated, his father was in politics," Epstein said. "Seemingly this is the kind of client I want."

California's booming, half-legitimate marijuana economy is throwing off all kinds of legal work, and not just to attorneys advising medical co-ops. It's also meant fees for real estate and tax lawyers who may or may not know their clients' true revenue source. Because of the tension between state and federal law, these lawyers walk a delicate line between business adviser and criminal conspirator.

Under the Bush administration, federal prosecutors targeted real estate agents who allegedly facilitated marijuana growing operations, but not attorneys, said McGregor Scott, recently the U.S. Attorney in California's Eastern District. In theory, Scott said, attorneys who know clients are involved in marijuana could be subject to aiding and abetting charges.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Copyright: 2009 Tucson Weekly
Author: Tim Vanderpool

The City Of Nogales, Ariz., Struggles As Narco Violence Spills In From Mexico

Allison Moore says drug violence is slowing the flow of Mexican produce into the Untied States. Gunshots can interrupt even the deepest slumber, burrowing into the most remote reaches of the tender subconscious. But down on the border, gunshots merely accent what the subconscious already grasps. Fear has pulled up a chair, settled in, refused to go.

Once fear has arrived, it never fully departs. This, Maria Tapia already knows.

Mexico reported nearly 5,500 drug-related deaths in 2008, and many of those murders touched very close to the border. The annual body count in Nogales, Sonora, alone more than doubled over the past year. Consider the shootout there in October: 10 narcos dead, after a long and vicious firefight among themselves and with police.

The state police chief was shot dead in November. Executions are routine and point-blank. Locations are erratic. Sometimes the gunshots echo through schoolyards. In Tijuana, a human body was liquefied in a vat of acid, then left on the curb.

And the beheadings. Don't forget those. An ultimate insult to thoughtfulness.

These things are fact. All of them. Although she can't recite details, Maria Tapia lives just a stone's throw from the steel border wall soaring above her home. Beyond that wall, she now knows that all things are possible. A resident of Nogales, Ariz., she might as well live in Mexico, for they actually do throw stones: Next to her address on Short Street, the roadway is rubble: rocks hurled over the wall, and sometimes concrete, in chunks.

Three grandchildren live in her home. This, she tells me through her fence. Except for school, she says, they do not go beyond the yard, wrapped in chain link. Before talking further, or succumbing to a photo, Maria Tapia must unlock the gate to that yard. This takes time, because she does so reluctantly, and because there are two locks and a latch. Her world, on the trembling cusp of Mexico, is a world of rocks and locks.

Maria Tapia refuses to let me photograph her face. On Short Street, one necessarily does not wish for recognition.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Gwen Knapp, Chronicle Staff Writer

Weed, the Breakfast of Champions.

I've been waiting a long time - 11 years to be exact - for the sports world to seize on that concept, but no one's had the guts. Now, far later than I expected, we've entered pot's perfect storm.

Just as the economy has tanked, strangling sponsorships all over the athletic map, a Super Bowl MVP and the most decorated Olympian of all time have emerged as partakers. Advocates for drug reform have long said that legalizing marijuana would increase tax revenue, not to mention reduce violence in the dealer population. In sports, the door would open for a cash flow to fill the creek bed left dry by a shriveling General Motors, Citigroup and their ilk.

So when Michael Phelps got caught on camera taking a bong hit, Kellogg's should have followed Disney's example and let it go. Santonio Holmes was stopped by police and cited for having three grass-filled cigars in his car last fall, but he still got to party with Goofy and Mickey in Florida after catching the winning touchdown pass for the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Both Phelps and Holmes, when caught, had to apologize, and both accepted sabbaticals from their sports. The Steelers held Holmes out of a game the following Sunday, and USA Swimming gave Phelps a comically symbolic three-month suspension. ( The next truly significant competition for U.S. swimmers is in July. )

The interesting thing is that neither of them denied what happened. Phelps owned up to what the photograph clearly revealed. Holmes, according to published reports, willingly turned the cigars over to police and, when asked if the smell of burned pot indicated that he had just smoked one, said no. He told them he had done it the day before.





Contrasts in perception are highlighted in two pairs of articles this week. Where the first article discusses demands for more restrictions on pain drugs, another article looks at giving away opiates under some circumstances. And, at the U.S.-Mexico border, some U.S. officials ask how to evaluate the effectiveness of the Meridia Initiative, while Texas officials ask how to prepare for the fall of the Mexico.


Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Jennifer Corbett Dooren

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it will subject the makers of certain extended-release pain drugs to a new risk-management program designed to cut down on misuse and abuse of the products.

New government figures show a rise in nonmedical use of prescription pain drugs among adults. Opioid drugs formulated in extended-release versions of OxyContin, morphine and fentanyl patches are meant for round-the-clock pain management for patients with cancer and other chronic conditions.

Misuse and Abuse FDA officials have said they've seen reports of inappropriate prescribing by doctors amid the increase in misuse and abuse, both intentional and unintentional, of the products since the drugs were first approved in the mid-1990s. Active ingredients in the drugs are designed to treat pain for an extended time, such as 12 hours.

Drug abusers can tamper with such products and get all the effects of a drug at once, creating a heroin-like high. "We continue to see reports of an ankle sprain and [patients] are given a fentanyl patch," said John Jenkins, the director of the FDA's office of new drugs. He said a major part of the new program will be efforts to educate doctors about appropriate prescribing of the products. "This obviously is going to be the largest risk-management program we've undertaken," he said. Although Mr. Jenkins and other agency officials wouldn't speculate about what the final risk-mitigation program would look like, it could have elements of a program designed to limit the use of the acne drug isotretinion ( commonly known by the brand name Accutane ) by women of child-bearing age because the product causes birth defects.

That program requires doctors, pharmacists and patients to register and meet certain requirements in order to get a new prescription each month. The agency sent letters to 16 manufacturers of 24 products including Purdue Pharma LP, the maker of OxyContin, which is available in an extended-release form; a unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes a fentanyl patch; and King Pharmaceuticals Inc., the maker of an extended-release form of morphine.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2009
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2009 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Kelly Brewington

Giving Drug To Addicts Could Reduce Crime, Some Say, But Critics Call Method Costly, Dangerous

A new study done for Baltimore's Abell Foundation concludes that programs that give heroin to hard-core addicts can reduce crime and improve public health - findings some hope will spur renewed debate about whether such an effort could help combat the city's unrelenting drug problem.

Peter Reuter, a drug policy expert at the University of Maryland, College Park, analyzed heroin maintenance programs in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Vancouver, Canada. He found some positive results. In Germany, for instance, participants were less likely to commit crimes, and in Switzerland, many addicts moved from the heroin distribution program to drug treatment aimed at helping them kick their habit.

While Reuter notes there are drawbacks as well - including high costs and low rates of participation - he says public health officials and city leaders should at least discuss the concept.

"It is a sensible innovation to consider," he said. "I am not a passionate advocate for it, but I do think someone should try it in the U.S. It has enough plausibility that it's worth trying."

But the issue raises thorny moral and legal questions and is politically contentious. Baltimore officials call the report unconvincing and say they would not consider the option, especially when proven treatments go underfunded.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Darren Meritz

EL PASO -- As drug violence claims lives every day across the border in Juarez, lingering questions about the Merida Initiative may come to dog lawmakers, who could find themselves under pressure if the cooperative agreement to fight drugs is not a success.

Security experts have urged Congress to consider a range of indicators when evaluating the progress of the Merida Initiative.

Whether the initiative will work and whether benchmarks have been set to measure success of failure remain key questions for lawmakers and local officials, some of whom are skeptical about the three-year, $1.4 billion plan.

Ray Walser, an analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C., said the Merida Initiative appears to be sound policy because it was put together by both governments. The Heritage Foundation analyzes the federal government's public policy programs.

"From a technical standpoint it is a good plan," said Walser, a former foreign service officer for the U.S. "It will provide Mexico the equipment it needs right now to battle the cartels."

In El Paso, elected officials are less certain, especially with their backs against widespread drug violence just across the river in Juarez. Since January 2008, more than 1,800 people have been killed in Juarez, most in what police think are drug-related executions.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Brandi Grissom

"You hope for the best, plan for the worst"

AUSTIN -- Texas officials are working on a plan to respond to a potential collapse of the Mexican government and the specter of thousands fleeing north in fear for their lives after recent reports indicated the country could be on the verge of chaos.

"You hope for the best, plan for the worst," Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said last week. "At this point, we've got a contingency plan that's in development."

Late last year the U.S. Department of Defense issued a report that listed Pakistan and Mexico as countries that could rapidly collapse. The report came after similar alarms sounded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey.

"I think their fears are well-grounded," Texas Home land Security Director Steve McCraw told lawmakers recently at a border security briefing.

Lawmakers expressed concern that the state's southern neighbor, embroiled in drug violence and facing uncertain economic conditions, could send thousands north in search of safety.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Sugarland, asked McCraw at the meeting whether Texas had a plan to cope with such a situation.

"We have a preliminary plan," McCraw said. "There needs to be one in place."

McCraw, a Perry appointee, was unavailable to comment for this story, but Cesinger said the plan was in early stages.




It looks as if the new federal drug czar will come from a law enforcement background. For more analysis, see the Feature Article below. In New York, a revamping of the drug laws is recommended yet again. In North Carolina, another innocent family is traumatized by drug raid overkill. And speaking of overkill, that sheriff in South Carolina is really out investigating the Michael Phelps with a bong picture. Seriously. People with tenuous connections to the event have been raided and apparently pressured to give evidence about Phelps.


Pubdate: Wed, 11 Feb 2009
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times Company
Authors: Steve Miletich and Mike Carter, Seattle Times staff reporters

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has accepted a job in the Obama administration, most likely overseeing the nation's drug policies, according to sources familiar with the chief's plans.

Kerlikowske, who has led the department for more than eight years, has told the department's top commanders he expects to leave to take a top federal position, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't officially authorized to disclose the information.


Sources say Kerlikowske is expected to be named head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Cabinet-level position otherwise known as the drug czar. The office, established in 1988, directs drug-control policy in the U.S. It's subject to Senate confirmation.

Edward Jurith, the current acting drug czar, declined to talk about Kerlikowske when called at home in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2009
Source: Star-Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2009sStar-Gazette
Author: Cara Matthews

It Says Current Sentencing, Drug Treatment Laws Are Confounding

ALBANY - New York should expand access to drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent felony offenders, establish a system of largely fixed prison terms, and adopt a graduated system for parole violations, according to a state report released last week.

The Commission on Sentencing Reform released its recommendations after about 18 months of studying sentencing laws, which have not undergone a thorough revision in more than 40 years. The state has an "incredibly complex sentencing structure capable of confounding even the most experienced practitioners," the report said.

"The commission's recommendations, if followed, will bring clarity to our patchwork quilt of accumulated sentencing reforms, improve ( prisoner ) reentry outcomes, and support more rational uses of our prisons and our parole systems," Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said in a statement.

The Drug Policy Alliance blasted the commission's report, saying it failed to propose any "substantive" changes to the Rockefeller-era drug laws. The alliance's mission is to "reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition." Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also criticized the report.

The state should adopt a plan to provide the necessary treatment beds and community-based resources and adopt a uniform statewide drug- diversion model, the panel recommended. New York has successful programs, such as prison diversion and the drug court system, but they are not always available. Many nonviolent drug-addicted offenders, particularly persons of color, don't have access to these alternatives. About 3,000 people a year would meet the criteria for diversion, the report said.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Sat, 07 Feb 2009
Source: Burlington Times-News (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Freedom Communications, Inc.
Author: Roselee Papandrea

Jessica Garrison was driving on Interstate 40 Wednesday morning heading to Greensboro to pick up her fiance when she was pulled over by a Burlington police officer in an unmarked car.

Garrison, 23, of 918 E. Davis St., knew she wasn't speeding and didn't know why she was pulled over. She said the officer wasn't quick to tell her. Instead, her cell phone was taken from her, and she was questioned. Eventually, Garrison, who was waiting on the shoulder of the interstate with her 2-year-old daughter and pet Chow-Chow, was told that the SBI was searching the home she rents on East Davis Street, but she wasn't told why. Meanwhile, Burlington police officers, who had obtained a search warrant, were breaking into her house along with the SBI's clandestine laboratory response team. The officers were looking for a possible methamphetamine lab or remnants of one.

Burlington police blocked traffic on a portion of East Davis Street, between Flanner and Anthony streets, and about 60 officers and agents worked the scene. A small amount of marijuana and a homemade smoking device were found but there were no signs of a meth lab in the house.

After searching for a couple of hours and securing the area, Burlington police eventually let Garrison back into her house. By that time, she had already seen the nine-page search warrant detailing law enforcement's suspicions that there was a meth lab operation at the house. It was then that she saw the gaping hole in her front door that officers made to get into her home and clothing from her closets and dresser drawers pulled out of place.

Garrison's photo, as well as information about her including the fact she doesn't have a criminal record, were in the search warrant along with information about her fiance's friend, who was staying with them because he was "down on his luck."




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2009 The State
Author: Rick Brundrett

As many as eight people have been arrested on drug charges in an effort to build a marijuana possession case against Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, an attorney for one of the defendants confirmed this morning.

Longtime Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian said Richland County Sheriff's deputies arrested his client - whom he declined to identify - -- in a raid Saturday at his Lake Murray-area home after seizing a small amount of marijuana.

"He's sitting there on Saturday, and 12 cops kick in the door with guns drawn, search his house and find 5, maybe 6, grams of pot," Harpootlian said."They never asked him, 'Who sold you the pot?' ... They were asking, 'Were you at the party with Michael Phelps? Did you see him using marijuana?' It was all about Michael Phelps."

Local defense attorney Joseph McCulloch also said he is representing someone in the case.

Harpootlian, a former solicitor for Richland and Kershaw counties, said in his entire legal career he had "never seen a search warrant executed for simple possession of marijuana."




In an unusual demonstration of solidarity and strength, the major cannabis law reform organizations in the U.S. attracted media attention by coordinating a boycott of Kellogg Co. for terminating their advertising contract with Michael Phelps.

Travel guide and TV host Rick Steves continues to foster a dialogue on the cannabis issue, and criticize the mainstream media for not doing the same.

Contradictions and incompatibilities between cannabis laws and civil rights are becoming more and more difficult to avoid in Canada.

New Mexico is on the verge of implementing a voter-approved, state- licensed medicinal cannabis production and distribution system, assuming the federal government does not interfere.


Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 The Charlotte Observer
Author: David Crary, Associated Press

NEW YORK - Snap, crackle ... pot?

Bursting with indignation, legions of legalize-marijuana advocates are urging a boycott of Kellogg Co., including all of its popular munchies, for deciding to cut ties with Olympic hero Michael Phelps after he was photographed with a pot pipe.

The leader of one of the biggest groups, the Marijuana Policy Project, called Kellogg's action "hypocritical and disgusting," and said he'd never seen his membership so angry, with more than 2,300 of them signing an online petition. "Kellogg's had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone," said Rob Kampia, the group's executive director. "To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that's safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people."

Also urging a boycott were the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Alliance. They encouraged their members to contact Kellogg to vent their views. In one sign of the campaign's impact, the Phelps saga took precedence over the tainted peanut butter outbreak in the recorded reply on Kellogg's consumer hot line Tuesday.

"If you would like to share your comments regarding our relationship with Michael Phelps, please press one to speak to a representative," said the recording. "If you're calling about the recent peanut butter recall, please press two now."

From Kellogg's media office, there was no immediate reply to a request for an assessment of the boycott campaign. A Kellogg spokeswoman, Kris Charles, said by e-mail, "Our contract with Michael Phelps was set to expire at the end of February and we made a business decision not to extend that contract."




Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Kirkland Reporter (WA)
Copyright: 2009 Sound Publishing

Only days after a photo surfaced of Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana, television host Rick Steves criticized the press for giving the athlete a hard time.

In his quest to decriminalize marijuana, Steves has criticized local media as well.

The travel writer produced a televised "infomercial" out of his own pocket last year to get viewers thinking about the issue, but local television stations, such as KING, KOMO and KIRO refused to broadcast it or offered 1 a.m. Sunday broadcast times.

"If you care about democracy and it's considered courageous to talk about a law that is counter-productive, we've got problems," he said.

Host to a sold-out crowd Feb. 4 at the Kirkland Performance Center, Steves and other speakers such as State Rep. Roger Goodman (D- Kirkland) discussed the history of marijuana laws and their effects for the "Marijuana: It's time for a Conversation" program.

He took the opportunity to criticize local media companies for failing to foster a dialogue on the issue, claiming the law is more costly than the drug problem. Steves did acknowledge, however, a unique advantage in campaigning for the issue.

"Nobody can fire me, basically," he said amidst a roar of laughter.

Steves screened the station-censored 30-minute "infomercial," which was filmed at KOMO's Seattle studios, detailing marijuana's emergence as a controlled substance after the U.S. prohibition on alcohol was lifted.


"If I can inspire you to talk about marijuana in polite company, we're all going to get somewhere," he said.

Seated in the audience next to Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend and several Issaquah Councilmembers, Deputy Mayor Joan McBride said she was surprised by some of the presentation's claims, such as the stiff penalties for possession. Possession of 40 grams of marijuana (a little over an ounce) or less in Washington state is a misdemeanor offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one day in jail and a fine of $250 for the first offense. Any amount over that is a felony, which could result in up to a 5-year jail term and a $10,000 fine.

"I'm information gathering right now," McBride said. "I just put in a call to the chief of police and would like to sit down and talk to him."




Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Jordana Huber

TORONTO - A restaurant owner facing a discrimination complaint for asking a medical marijuana smoker not to light up outside his business says Ottawa needs to clarify its regulations governing where authorized permit holders can smoke.

Ted Kindos, owner of Gator Ted's Tap and Grill in Burlington, says he will ask the Federal Court to require Health Canada to expressly condition any medical marijuana permits upon compliance with provincial liquor licensing laws.

The court challenge comes as the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal set aside eight days for hearings this summer to determine whether Mr. Kindos discriminated against Steve Gibson when he asked him not to smoke marijuana outside his restaurant.

"We're really looking to the court for assistance," said Mr. Kindos' lawyer, Gary Graham.

Mr. Graham said he and his client were hoping to resolve "the tension between the liquor laws that apply to Mr. Kindos, which he is obligated to comply with, and the rights granted to the holder of a permit for the medicinal use of marijuana."

Mr. Gibson's case is one of three dealing with medical marijuana working its way through the human rights complaints process in Ontario.

Two other men have filed complaints against the province claiming its liquor laws -- prohibiting controlled substances where alcohol is served -- are discriminatory and should be amended.




Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2009
Source: New Mexican, The (Santa Fe, NM)
Copyright: 2009 The Santa Fe New Mexican
Author: Tim Korte, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE - Eighteen months after New Mexico enacted a first-of-its- kind medical marijuana law, the state is moving gingerly ahead, mindful that the closely watched program could go up in smoke because it conflicts with federal law.

New Mexico's statute, which took effect in July 2007, differs from 12 other states that have approved medical marijuana legislation in one major way - state health officials will oversee a production and distribution system.

To borrow the street metaphor, the state needs a dealer.

Of course, that puts New Mexico's Health Department sideways with federal drug laws that make it illegal for anyone to possess, grow or distribute marijuana. It's also illegal under federal law to solicit someone for those purposes.

The new administration of President Barack Obama isn't likely to change anything - not immediately anyway.

"This is a matter of the law and the law hasn't changed," said Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the National Office for Drug Control Policy. "It's still illegal to grow, possess and distribute marijuana."

He said he couldn't discuss specifics of the New Mexico plan.

Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based advocacy group, said New Mexico is being closely monitored because it is apparent that state officials have put a lot of thought into the program.

"Theoretically, what New Mexico is trying to do makes a great deal of sense," he said. "We'll see how it plays out. But it certainly makes sense for patients to have someplace they can go that is reliable and safe to get their medicine."




While you probably won't see much about this in your local paper, three former Latin American presidents joined this week in denouncing U.S.-led drug "prohibition". Prohibiting drugs has filled American prisons and fueled violent turf battles, say former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria. The three also requested that the U.S. and other governments begin to "debate the legalization of marijuana". Few papers chose to cover the presidents' announcement. The Washington Post, which did mention the events, did so in three paragraphs, on page A13.

In the U.K., there was apoplectic outrage and prohibitionist concern over the "wrong message to young people", following government drugs adviser Dr David Nutt's comments last week that horseback riding caused more deaths annually than MDMA. While true, Nutt was nonetheless forced to recant by home secretary Jacqui Smith.

In the Philippines, Dumaguete City Councilor Dr. Noel De Jesus was met with indignation last week after he suggested that decriminalizing marijuana should simply be studied. We "won't even think about" decriminalizing marijuana, say Rep. George Arnaiz and Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, who proclaimed such talk was "foolish and ludicrous". Most countries, declared Arnaiz, made marijuana illegal "after it was proven to do more harm than good."

And in Mexico this week, nearly two dozen were killed in the state of Chihuahua in ongoing violence believed to be related to rival drug gangs, battling over market share.


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: Stuart Grudgings, Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The war against drugs is failing and the U.S. government should break with "prohibition" policies that have achieved little more than cram its prisons and stoke violence, three former Latin American presidents said on Wednesday.

The respected former presidents urged the United States and Latin American governments to move away from jailing drug users to debate the legalization of marijuana and place more emphasis on the treatment of addicts.

Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said there was no meaningful debate over drugs policy in the United States, despite a broad consensus that current policies had failed.

"The problem today in the U.S. is that narco-trafficking is a crime and so any politician is fearful of talking about narco-trafficking or talking about policies because they will be called soft," he said.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Joshua Partlow

BUENOS AIRES-- A group of former Latin American presidents on Wednesday described U.S. drug policies as a failure and called for debate on making marijuana legal while treating drug use more as a public health problem than as a crime.

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo presided over the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, which also released a report in Buenos Aires about the need to find alternatives to eradication, interdiction and penalizing drug use.




Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Alan Travis

The government's drugs adviser last night apologised for saying that the risk in taking ecstasy was no worse than in riding a horse. Home secretary Jacqui Smith had yesterday carpeted Dr David Nutt over comments that emerged 48 hours before his committee was expected to recommend downgrading the drug.

She demanded an apology and told the professor that his comments went beyond the scientific advice she expected from him. "I've spoken to him. I've told him that I was surprised and profoundly disappointed," Smith told MPs yesterday. She said they made light of a serious problem, trivialised the dangers of drugs, showed insensitivity to the families of victims, and sent the wrong message to young people.

Smith's attack on Nutt, the new chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, comes when this week it will publish a report expected to recommend downgrading ecstasy from class A to class B. Smith has made clear she will veto the council's view as she rejected its advice last year not to reclassify cannabis.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris complained to the Speaker at Smith's attack, describing Nutt as a "distinguished scientist" unable to answer back in parliament for what was set out in a scientific publication. His article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology was written before he became chairman, but picked up in the weekend press.

Ecstasy is the UK's third most popular illicit drug with an estimated 470,000 people using it last year, including 5% of 16- to 24-year-olds. Last night, Nutt apologised saying he had "no intention of trivialising the dangers of ecstasy".

"I am sorry to those who may have been offended by my article. I would like to apologise to those who have lost friends and family due to ecstasy use," he said.

The article, "Equasy", [sic] ironically argued "equine addiction syndrome" accounted for 100 deaths a year, as against 30 a year for ecstasy use.



Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2009
Source: Negros Chronicle (Philippines)
Copyright: 2009 The Negros Chronicle

Negros Oriental's three district representatives are unanimous in declaring "they won't even think about sponsoring or taking the initiative of introducing to the House Representatives a proposal that would express the need to take a second hard look on decriminalizing marijuana use."


Rep. George Arnaiz of the 2nd District and Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District) both branded the proposal as foolish and ludicrous.

Arnaiz criticized Dumaguete City Councilor Dr. Noel De Jesus for proposing to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. He said that in most countries marijuana has been made illegal after it was proven to do more harm than good.




Pubdate: Wed, 11 Feb 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times

Gunmen in the Northern Mexico State of Chihuahua Abduct Nine People and Kill Six of Them Before Being Killed Themselves in Shootouts With Soldiers.

Gunmen seized and killed six people, then got into a rolling shootout with Mexican soldiers Tuesday in a burst of violence that left at least 21 dead in the northern state of Chihuahua, officials said.

The scale of bloodletting was remarkable even for Chihuahua, the deadliest spot in Mexico as a year-old turf war has raged in the state between rival drug-trafficking groups.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Here's What He Should Do Next

By Aaron Houston, AlterNet

Install new leadership at the DEA, push for a change in the classification of marijuana, allow research projects to continue and more.


By Paul Armentano, NORML

So why does the mainstream media continue to get the story wrong when it comes to pot?


The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, convened by former presidents Fernando Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico in order to evaluate the impacts of the 'war on drugs', has released a statement this week saying that prohibition has failed and calling for a 'broad debate about alternative strategies'.


Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is Obama's pick to head the Office of National Drug Control. We're not sure whether to offer congratulations or condolences.

By Mark Kleiman and Harold Pollack


From Washington, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle and South Carolina, a Convergence into a Mighty River of Reform

By Al Giordano, Special to The Narco News Bulletin


Century of Lies - 02/10/09 - John Delaney

John Delaney, a working Texas judge decries the drug war + Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance says "Just Say No To Kelloggs'" & retired USAF Lt. Col Russ Shaw calls for common sense in the drug war

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 02/11/09 - Dana Larsen

Dana Larsen of British Columbia re Canadian court rulings and marijuana dispensaries & Doug McVay with Drug War Facts + report on school administrators new hit: "Smell the Jacket"


Write A Letter (Or Two)  ( Top )

DrugSense released two focus alerts this week.

Kellogg's Gets Stupid Over A Bong


Three B.C. Newspapers Call For The Legalization Of Drugs

Apply For A Job as MPP Online Content Manager  ( Top )

The Marijuana Policy Project, a fast-paced, well-respected lobbying organization, is seeking an experienced Online Content Manager to develop and manage MPP's online communications strategy.

This position is an exciting opportunity to play an integral role in a successful organization with a strong track record of changing laws. You'll have an enormous impact on MPP's online presence, work with emerging technologies, be surrounded by smart people, and have a direct part in changing U.S. marijuana policy.

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To apply, see



By Steve Harbin

If anyone should be embarrassed about the recent photo that surfaced in a British tabloid showing Michael Phelps apparently smoking marijuana, it should be each American citizen ( "Phelps: 'I am sorry,'" Feb. 2). And it is not Mr. Phelps we should be embarrassed by. Rather, we should be ashamed of our lawmakers who continue to support marijuana prohibition.

There are no more absurd laws on the books than those that criminalize the use of marijuana by responsible adults.

Billions of dollars are wasted annually in the United States as we wage a war on drugs, and they accomplish little - with the notable exception of creating a black market that makes some violent criminals very wealthy.

Ending prohibition would allow legitimate companies rather than gun-toting criminals to produce marijuana. This would create a safer product and a safer marketplace for consumers and allow the profits of those companies to be taxed like those of any other corporate entity.

I have never been a user of illegal drugs. But I am not self-righteous enough to use the force of law to tell other informed adults about what substances they can put into their bodies.

We all know how poorly the prohibition of alcohol worked decades ago, yet our lawmakers continue to prohibit marijuana today and expect a different result.

That's insane.

Steve Harbin Woodbine

Pubdate: Tue, 3 Feb 2009
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)


DrugSense recognizes Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (retired) of Washington, D.C for his seven published letters during January, which brings his total published letters that we know of up to 158. Howard is an Education Specialist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition You may read his published letters at:


Czar Struck: Obama's Brilliant Pick for Drug Czar  ( Top )

By Dominic Holden

Obama choosing Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to become the next drug czar in Washington, D.C., at first, looks like the same old beltway logic: cops and prison terms are the snake-oil cure for drug addictions. Some change, Obama. Right?

Under Clinton's and Bush's drug czars, the United States experienced the steepest spike drug arrests in its history (contributing to the fattest swell of anti-drug spending). Drug arrests jumped over 80 percent since 1992. And despite the effort, the White House reports that drug use has Risen

But Kerlikowske, since he became chief in 2000, has been at the police department's helm while Seattle made some of the most aggressive to drug enforcement allowed under federal law. He never stood in the way. And now Kerlikowske is poised to become the most influential person in federal government to set new drug laws.

The needle-exchange test: The Obama administration has already identified this as its most pressing drug issue. Last week, Obama sent American negotiators to the UN orders to reverse Bush's block on needle exchange. He wants to allow clean needles-in Europe and in the US. What's Kerlikowske's record?

"There has been long-standing support in the community as a whole and from SPD for our continued operation of the needle exchange," says James Apa, a spokesman for Seattle King County Public Health, which runs one of first and the nation's largest needle-exchange programs. Seattle IV drug users have some of the lowest HIV-infection rates in the country, he says. But acceptance of the controversial program hasn't been that long standing.

"What we would find is that police would hang around the exchange site and watch who came and went," says Kris Nyrop, former director of Street Outreach Services, a pioneering needle exchange group that operated a table in downtown Seattle in the late 1980s. "Their presence itself would be somewhat intimidating ... people would see four police officers halfway down the block and they would turn around and go home," he says. "Harassment like that happened routinely up until the mid `90s."

But under Kerlikowske, "It has been a laissez-faire thing and the police basically leave needle exchanges alone," says Nyrop.

Pot arrests have plummeted under Kerlikowske's watch. When he took office in 2000, Seattle police arrested 332 people for misdemeanor marijuana possession; by 2006, the number had dropped to 148. Some of that decline is likely due to Seattle passing Initiative 75, which made marijuana enforcement the city's lowest law-enforcement priority. But Kerlikowske didn't try to block I-75. While City Attorney Tom Carr joined Bush's Drug Czar John Walters at a press conference to oppose the measure-and Carr campaigned against the measure for months-Kerlikoske was mum. And after voters passed the law in 2003, SPD told a City Council Marijuana Policy Review Panel that "officers [had] been verbally advised during their roll calls that investigation and arrest of adults for possession of cannabis intended for personal use is to be their lowest priority." At Hempfest-where tens of thousands of people smoke pot in unison-SPD sergeant Lou Eagle told a reporter, "We are not out there to enforce the marijuana laws." And medical-marijuana patients, who could still be arrested despite the state's medical-pot law, found Kerlikowske fair. Had Kerlikowske chosen, SPD could have maintained or increased pot arrests. But he didn't.

In striking contrast, Walters's number-one priority was marijuana. "[N]o drug matches the threat posed by marijuana," his office wrote in a letter telling federal attorneys to ratchet up prosecutions. And under Walters, the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors made a point of busting medical pot collectives in California. But for Kerlikowske, pot was his lowest priority.

Hold on-Obama's not about to legalize pot.

The bigger issue-and safer issue, politically-is replacing enforcement with public services. On that issue Kerlkowske has incubated a revolution. Seattle implemented two programs that get drug users off the street before they get arrested. Most notably, the Get Off The Streets (GOTS) program hatched in the Central District when Lieutenant John Hayes (now a captain) set up a table as an arrest-free area that people with criminal warrants could visit for health and human services.

"That was, at that time, a very edgy approach, and the chief was willing to let one of his people staff the program," says City Council Member Nick Licata, who soon seized on the idea, passing legislation to fund the project permanently. "It was a stage where Gil could have stopped it from [getting funding], but he allowed it go forward," he says.

"He's not saying we should do away with the drug war, but I think he recognizes that it has not been a success and I think he is open to other strategies," Licata continues. "That may be due to some of his experiences here. Seattle may get some credit for exposing him to real-time experiments, such as I-75, as to what could happen nationally."

And nationally, Kerlikowske could be a drug czar who pushes to lift the federal ban on funding needle exchange, stops the medical pot raids in California, overhauls our nonsensical anti-drug commercials, and enthusiastically seeks funding for drug-treatment programs.

The brilliance of Obama's pick for drug czar is not just finding someone who is open to new strategies, but someone who nonetheless holds undeniable qualifications as a cop. Nobody can claim Kerlikowske is a public-health nut who doesn't know the impact of drugs on the streets. Like many Americans, he agrees that drugs should be illegal. But he understands the place for low priorities and public health-and he's willing to step back where enforcement alone has failed.

Dominic Holden is a reporter for The Stranger and a board member of the National Organizations for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In years past, he served as director of the Seattle Hempfest, organizer of the ACLU of Washington's Marijuana Education Project, and chair of campaign to pass Initiative 75, which made marijuana possession the Seattle's lowest law-enforcement priority. He can be reached at .This piece was originally posted at the Stranger Slog -


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