This Just In
(1)Medical Marijuana Use No Longer Means Automatic License Suspension
(2)Colombia Hands Ex-Paramilitary Leader Over to U.S.
(3)Attorney: Man Grew Pot For Medical Reasons
(4)OPED: Tapping into California's Forgotten Cash Crop

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 05 Mar 2009
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Times-Standard
Author: Jessie Faulkner

The use of medical marijuana can no longer be the sole grounds for losing driving privileges.

In a policy revision -- or clarification, depending upon who you speak with -- the state Department of Motor Vehicles has determined, in writing, that the use of medical marijuana prescribed by a physician is to be treated the same as any other prescription medication that may affect safe driving.

The update came about after the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access ( ASA ) filed suit on behalf of a 53-year-old Atwater woman who lost her driver's license due to her use of medical marijuana.

"Despite Ms. [Rose] Johnson's clean driving record, not having caused an accident in 37 years of driving, the DMV revoked her license on July 26, 2008," according to the Americans for Safe Access' announcement.

The specific DMV language, according to the ASA, cited Johnson's addiction to or habitual use of a drug preventing her from safely operating a vehicle.

Prior to the case going to trial, the DMV added the change to its Driver Safety Procedure Manual and reinstated Johnson's driving privileges, according to the ASA.

"The new DMV policy is a significant departure from how the agency approached medical marijuana in the past," ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said. "Drivers no longer have their licenses suspended or revoked simply because of their status as medical marijuana patients."




Pubdate: Fri, 6 Mar 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Kraul, Reporting from Bogota, Colombia

Hebert Veloza Garcia Is Sent to New York to Face Drug-Trafficking Charges. Rights Groups Fear That Could Mean Details of Government Collusion With the Militias May Never Be Known.

One of Colombia's most feared paramilitary leaders was extradited to the United States on Thursday despite protests from human rights groups concerned that details of atrocities and government collusion with militias may never be revealed.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials escorted Hebert Veloza Garcia, better known as "HH," onto a plane headed for New York, where he will face drug-trafficking charges.

Half a dozen Colombian human rights groups wrote a letter last month to U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. asking that he delay the transfer of Veloza until after judicial proceedings here that focus on alleged paramilitary atrocities.

Similar protests were heard in May, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe gave the green light to extraditions of 14 top paramilitary leaders wanted in the United States on drug and terrorism charges.




Pubdate: Fri, 6 Mar 2009
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Author: Lisa Roose-Church

A Farmington Hills defense attorney is asking a Livingston County judge to dismiss charges against a Hartland Township man who allegedly grew marijuana in his home for medicinal purposes.

This is the first case in Livingston County to test Michigan's medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters in November and went into effect Dec. 4.

Police say they found the marijuana at Ryan Andrew Burke's Pine Hill Trail home in August.

On April 2, defense attorney Barry Resnick will ask Circuit Judge David Reader to set a hearing to take testimony on whether his client meets the legal requirements to grow and possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.

If Reader finds that Burke did possess the marijuana legally, then Resnick says the case must be dismissed.




Pubdate: Thu, 5 Mar 2009
Source: Capitol Weekly (Sacramento, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Capitol Weekly Group
Author: F. Aaron Smith
Referenced: AB390

In the wake of a budget agreement that even those who supported it loathe for its tax increases and deep cuts to education and health care, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano ( D-SanFrancisco ) has offered a proposal that will bolster the state's budget while protecting our environment and helping keep drugs away from kids.

Ammiano's bill, AB 390, would put marijuana under the same regulatory system that now applies to beer, wine and liquor. It would end the bizarre and untenable situation in which California's largest cash crop - valued at $13.8 billion annually - is completely untaxed.

Like it or not, California's marijuana industry is huge. Indeed, our marijuana crop is worth more each year than the combined value of all the wheat and cotton produced in the entire U.S.

According to U.S. government surveys, two million Californians use marijuana at least monthly, but both the producers and consumers of this crop escape paying any taxes on it whatsoever. While precise figures are impossible given the current illicit market, revenues from taxed and regulated marijuana could well be in the neighborhood of at least $1 billion per year.





In New York, maybe time for reform has arrived at last. In West Virginia, maybe not. And, one columnist looks at how American drug policies helped to bring violence to Mexico, while another story examines how the violence is bringing a different kind of refugee to America.


Pubdate: Thu, 5 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Jeremy W. Peters

ALBANY -- The State Legislature took pivotal steps on Wednesday toward repealing much of what remains of the state's 1970s-era drug laws, which have tied judges' hands and required them to impose mandatory prison terms for many nonviolent drug offenses.

The Assembly approved legislation, 96 to 46, that would restore judges' discretion in many lower-level drug-possession crimes that are felonies by eliminating laws that require a prosecutor's consent before judges can send certain felons to drug treatment instead of prison.

In addition, the measure would permit about 2,000 prisoners to apply to have their sentences reduced.

The same bill was introduced on Wednesday in the Senate, where Democratic leaders vowed to quickly take it up. But the task now confronting legislative leaders and Gov. David A. Paterson is to reconcile the Assembly bill -- which is considered the widest-reaching of the proposals under consideration -- with the governor's plan and the bill that Senate Democrats expect to pass after amending the Assembly bill.




Pubdate: Sun, 1 Mar 2009
Source: Times West Virginian (Fairmont, WV)
Copyright: 2009 The Times West Virginian
Author: Tom Breen, Associated Press

CHARLESTON -- It's on talk radio, the Internet and the Republican Party's priority list: so far, a GOP delegate's attention-grabbing drug testing bill is everywhere but before the Legislature.

Berkeley County lawmaker Craig Blair has been promising for over a week to introduce a bill requiring drug testing for people who receive food stamps, unemployment or "welfare," which could refer to several federal programs.

With a rollout that includes his own dedicated Web site, mentions in the press and the rare step of an endorsement from the state party's executive committee, the proposal has become like the Mothman of legislation -- everyone's talking about it, but not many people have actually seen it.

Blair, who hoped the bill would be ready by last Wednesday, put the draft language on his Web site,, to answer some of the questions about specifics.

I was hoping it would be ready this week, to be honest," Blair said, adding that the proposal has been sent to the legislative bill drafting room -- the step before it can be offered to co-sponsors. "I'm not sure what's taking so long."

In a session devoted largely to fiscal policy, with little in the way of major initiatives or new proposals, Blair's idea is stealing the spotlight.

I'm having people walk up to me and give me a hug and say thank you," Blair said. "It doesn't matter if it's Republicans, Democrats. People have wanted something like this for a long time."




Pubdate: Sat, 28 Feb 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tim Rutten

The Drugs, Guns and Culture That Fuel the Violence All Are Linked to the U.S.

Early in the last century, near the end of his 34 bloody years in power, the aging Mexican strongman Porfirio Diaz mused that his country's great misfortune was to be located "so far from God and so near the United States."

The shrewd old thief's observation came to mind this week when U.S. officials announced they'd joined with Mexican authorities in arresting more than 730 people allegedly linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel. That gang is the most powerful of the numerous criminal organizations smuggling drugs into the United States. Their intramural quarrels and resistance to a government crackdown have plunged Mexico into a round of violence unseen since the Cristero Wars in the 1920s. Over the last year, about 6,000 Mexicans have been killed.

Many fear that Mexico could be sliding into civil instability because of the cartels' increasing willingness to use violence and bribery to protect their business. It's an old story in other parts of Latin America, and for that reason, three of the region's former heads of state -- including onetime Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo -- recently issued a report urging the U.S. to consider legalizing at least marijuana. Fat chance.

Similarly, at a news conference this week, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. set off a firestorm when he mentioned in passing that the U.S. should consider restoring its ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons. That prohibition, adopted in 1994, contained a clause requiring Congress to renew the ban after 10 years. To nobody's surprise, Congress didn't, and now assault weapons, semiautomatic pistols and .50-caliber rifles that are illegal in Mexico flow into the hands of the drug traffickers there from an estimated 6,000 American gun dealers in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Thus, America's political decisions to treat drug addiction as a crime rather than a public health problem, and to legalize AK-47s but not pot, fuel an incipient civil war in Mexico.




Pubdate: Wed, 4 Mar 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Andrew Becker and Patrick J. McDonnell, Reporting from El Paso

Mexico Under Siege

Business Owners, Law Enforcement Officers, Journalists and Other Professionals Are Among Those Seeking Asylum in the U.S. -- Even When It Means Sitting in Jail.

The Juarez police lieutenant was recovering from three gunshot wounds, the result of an assault by hit men for a drug cartel. His name was on a death list brazenly posted at a monument for fallen peace officers. Lt. Salvador Hernandez Arvizu didn't like his odds of surviving in Mexico. So he fled his hospital bed, hoping to take refuge in the U.S.

At a border post in El Paso, he filled out immigration paperwork, made a formal request for political asylum -- and was taken directly to jail.

The Juarez policeman is part of a new breed of would-be refugees -- business owners, law enforcement officers, journalists and other professionals -- on the run from Mexico's vicious drug wars. Increasingly, they are seeking safe haven in the U.S. by filing for asylum.

The number of asylum requests filed at U.S. border entries by Mexican nationals nearly doubled to almost 200 in the last fiscal year, and the pace has increased this year. Seventy Mexican asylum-seekers filed petitions in the first quarter, most of them in El Paso and San Diego. The figures are small compared with the vast scale of illegal immigration, but many fear explosive growth if the bloodshed worsens.




In some ways, the drug war is getting more intense around the world for police and those who live near the violence. But in one North Carolina county, a drug raid was so casual it turned into a beer and pizza party courtesy of the sheriff.


Pubdate: Sun, 01 Mar 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Steve Ortega

Over the last couple of years, our community has engaged in an intriguing debate as to how El Paso should be branded.

Some thought that curiosity should be piqued with "El Paso -- You Have No Idea."

Others sought to capitalize on our location and culture with "El Paso - -- Capital of the Border."

Some loyalists remained committed to the nostalgic "Sun City" designation.

Undoubtedly, El Paso holds many assets deserving of promotion and celebration. While the branding debate is fun, telling, and at times touchy, there is one brand that wields tremendous danger, damage and is injurious to this city: "El Paso -- Militarized Zone."


Protection of the public safety is paramount and therefore, federal and state government must provide additional law-enforcement resources. Additionally, federal assistance is needed to assist local government in defraying the costs of protecting the community from narco-violence.

But, we must remember that it is the function and training of law enforcement -- and not the military -- to protect and enforce local laws. A military response should only be entertained when local, state, and federal law enforcement have been exhausted and failed -- and we are not there and hopefully never will be.

Finally, sincere American policy proposals for dealing with the Mexican cartel-related violence must confront the fact that there is a reason that the destination of many of these drugs is the United States.

Simply put, Americans have an insatiable appetite for drug consumption. As long as that market is lucrative, its needs will be met. Enforcement-centric proposals that ignore demand issues are doomed for continued failure because they ignore core issues.




Pubdate: Wed, 04 Mar 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Stephane Massinon

Five Accused Of Targeting Other Dealers

Equipped with body armour marked "police, "a siren, flashing lights and handcuffs, a group of Calgarians with alleged organized crime connections in British Columbia is believed to have used law-enforcement-like equipment to rob drug dealers.

"Someone being in possession of this police paraphernalia had intended to use it for illegitimate purposes," Acting Staff Sgt. John Orr said on Tuesday.

"At this time, we don't believe it was taken from a police force; we believe it was made by these individuals. Investigators in this specific case believe that these individuals were using it in an effort to steal drugs and money from other people involved in the drug trade."




Pubdate: Wed, 04 Mar 2009
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus,GA)
Copyright: 2009 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Michelle Roberts

SAN ANTONIO --The drug violence in Mexico has gotten so bad that booming numbers of Mexican and American professionals are having their cars fitted with armor plates, bulletproof glass and James Bond-style gadgets such as electrified door handles and push-button smokescreens.

Until recently, it was mostly movie stars, business moguls and politicians who took such precautions. But now, industry officials say, the customers include factory owners, doctors, newspaper publishers and others who have business on both sides of the border and fear killings, kidnappings and carjackings by drug dealers or people in their debt.

The customers "don't have to be very big," said Mark Burton, CEO of International Armoring Corp. of Ogden, Utah. "This becomes almost a necessity."

One San Antonio company said it expects a 50 percent increase in business this year.




Pubdate: Tue, 03 Mar 2009
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jon Ostendorff

HAYESVILLE - Narcotics officers assigned to a two-county drug task force drank beer and ate pizza outside the home of a suspected marijuana dealer after executing a search warrant there, authorities acknowledged Monday.

The incident nearly two years ago became public last week after the prosecutor trying the case that came from that search questioned the officers about the beer and pizza on the witness stand. No one was drunk that day in July 2007, said Clay County Sheriff Joe Shook, who crossed the state line into Georgia to get the beer because his county is dry. "It was bad judgment on my part that I let it happen," Shook said Monday. "I can assure you it won't happen again, and it shouldn't have happened then." Though not a beer drinker himself, Shook said he got the 12-pack after one person in the group suggested a beer would be good with the pizza the sheriff had offered to buy.

The team had spent the day searching the house and they were waiting for a truck to arrive so that they could pack up the marijuana growing equipment. They worked three more hours after dinner loading the truck in what the sheriff called "tropical" heat created by the lamps used in the pot growing operation.




The Japanese are re-discovering cannabis, having come to terms with hemp long ago, and Japanese authorities are discovering that all strata of society share this renewed interest.

In a way, it is disheartening to see the harsh reality of an economic meltdown in the U.S. do more to advance cannabis law reform than mountains of scientific evidence, years of informed debate and decades of activism.

Those of us who avidly follow cannabis issues in the press have learned to spot where writers are coming from, and where they are going, by the second or third paragraph. However, a sheriff in Massachusetts deked me out by citing the ancillary damage of legal entanglements as an argument against decriminalization. I was expecting him to argue that no one gets arrested for cannabis possession anyway.

As we see in the international section of this week, in Canada, it is not so much economics but gangland violence that has rekindled the debate over cannabis legalization, and this time, rather than dismiss the concept, prohibitionists are offering spurious objections, such as accusing legalizers of lacking a business plan.


Pubdate: Wed, 04 Mar 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Yuka Hayashi

TOKYO -- Marijuana arrests are soaring in Japan, causing a public sensation in a nation where illegal-drug use is relatively rare. What has made the wave of arrests especially shocking to some Japanese is numerous drug busts involving the country's elite -- professional athletes, doctors and students at top universities -- who are expected to act as exemplary citizens.

Last month, a 25-year-old sumo wrestler known as Wakakirin was arrested in Roppongi, a Tokyo neighborhood known for its bars and clubs, for alleged marijuana possession. The sumo association dismissed him, likely ending his career as a wrestler. In a letter presented to the association by his father and his manager, the wrestler, whose real name is Shinichi Suzuki, apologized and said he would decline a retirement bonus to which he is entitled. Mr. Suzuki didn't return calls seeking comment. In the past, the drug arrests that got attention in Japan usually involved dealers of heroin and cocaine in cases linked to organized crime. But last year, police reported 3,793 arrests for alleged marijuana use, up 16% from the previous year and nearly double the number a decade ago. About 70% of those arrested were under the age of 30.

While Japan has been known for its tolerance of cigarette smoking and public drunkenness, the nation has long had some of the strictest laws against marijuana-related offenses. Those convicted for possessing marijuana face prison terms of up to five years, though first-time offenders are usually given suspended sentences. In contrast, in most parts of the U.S., possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor typically punished by a small fine and possibly a short prison stay.

While hard numbers are difficult to come by, marijuana use in Japan appears to be low compared with other countries. In a survey of 85,000 households from 17 countries published last year by the Public Library of Science, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco and Cambridge, U.K., only 1.5% of Japanese respondents said they have used cannabis, compared with 42% in the U.S. and 18% in Germany.




Pubdate: Tue, 03 Mar 2009
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2009 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Steve Huntley

Its budget meltdown has California taking a look at legalizing marijuana as a means to revive its depleted treasury. But common sense, not economic need, should persuade Americans it's past time for a sober look at our mad "reefer madness" laws.

The Golden State legislator pushing the idea, Tom Ammiano of -- plug in the appropriate joke -- San Francisco, says licensing and taxing legal marijuana production and sales would earn California $1.3 billion a year. His bill would legalize marijuana possession and use for adults 21 or older, license commercial farming of it and tax it at $50 an ounce.

A big problem: California can't do this on its own. The federal prohibition law would have to be changed for Sacramento to impose and collect the licensing fees and taxes. Given all the controversial financial and social engineering bills on its plate, Congress likely isn't eager to take on this contentious issue. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found only 41 percent of Americans favor legalization. That's an improvement over the 34 percent in a 2002 CNN/Time poll, but still 52 percent are against it.

It would be best if Washington could leave this matter in the hands of states. Thirteen states have to some extent decriminalized marijuana. Massachusetts is the latest. Its voters last month eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts.




Pubdate: Tue, 03 Mar 2009
Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA)
Copyright: 2009 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company
Author: Frank G. Cousins Jr.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with a group of students from Newburyport High School who were on a tour of the Middleton House of Correction. We talked about a number of issues that dealt with the correctional industry and the business of law enforcement. The discussions were insightful and showed that the young people are paying attention to the world around them.

As the visit continued, the focus of the students' questions shifted toward my view of the voters' recent decision to diminish the criminal penalties if someone is caught with an ounce or less of marijuana.

In the past, the potential punishment ranged from being incarcerated for up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine up to $500. The ballot referendum that passed in November eliminated the possibility of being jailed and reduced the penalty to an infraction that carries a fine of $100. For those arrested under the age of 18, they must complete a drug awareness program. Failure to complete the course could increase the fine to $1,000.

What I told the students was that as a matter of public policy, the change in the law was not a good one, and would cause more problems than it was designed to solve. Some of the students agreed. Some did not. Two, in fact, were under the misguided perception that if you get stopped with marijuana, you no longer get into trouble.

They could not have been more wrong.


Frank G. Cousins Jr. of Newburyport is sheriff of Essex County.



Pubdate: Wed, 04 Mar 2009
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 North Shore News
Author: Wallace Gilby Craig

Public outrage over recent gang murders by feuding traffickers in B.C. Bud and other illicit drugs has forced the federal government to target gangsters in upcoming changes to our criminal law.

But according to our local drug-legalization crowd, led by marijuana's false prophets, those feds just don't understand the way we choose to live in la-la-land. This clutch of deceitful addicts and their myopic supporters propose legalization of cannabis and other illicit drugs, and the introduction of a bureaucratic system of drug regulation and distribution.

Their dream-world fantasy is based on a misty notion that illicit drugs could be produced and distributed like alcohol; that by the stroke of a pen the multi-billion dollar gangland drug manufacturing/importing/exporting business would be transformed into a legal, manageable and taxable government monopoly. Yet to be explained by marijuana's false prophets: How a pussycat government monopoly hopes to persuade gangsters to trade in their guns for bongs, become choir boys, and refrain from continuing to sell drugs in an inevitable black market.

Fat chance, I say.

Marijuana's false prophets send a steady stream of misinformation about a supposed similarity between the brief period when alcohol was prohibited and our hundred years of criminalization of illicit drugs, always ending with the same catchphrase: Let's take control of marijuana -- tax it, standardize and regulate it.

On Feb. 27, marijuana's false prophets were on the street outside the Vancouver police station in front of television cameras with signs proclaiming Gang Violence Is Caused by Drug Prohibition . . . End Drug Prohibition to End Gang Violence.

It is a false message. Gang violence and murder will not end with fairy-tale legalization. International crime syndicates, coupled with source countries around the world profiting in the production of narcotics, will continue to target Canada and the United States. Legalization would cause them to increase their activity to accommodate an increase in the numbers of addicts in Canada.




It is almost spring in the northern hemisphere, and there seems to be a thaw in drug policy thinking. While the minority Harper government in Canada is hell-bent on building jails and stuffing them full of cannabis growers and sellers, increasing calls for legalization are heard. The Regina Leader-Post this week carried a 12-year retrospective and renewed call by columnist Dan Gardner for legalization, in the face of a steady propaganda drumbeat for U.S.-style mandatory minimums. "[F]ailure doesn't seem to matter to policymakers... when gang violence once again flares up and innocent people are gunned down, virtually no politician or senior official will even ask whether the current approach is doing more harm than good. Instead, they will talk about doing more of the same. Tougher punishments. Great surveillance powers."

Canadian Margaret Evans in the British Columbia newspaper Chilliwack Progress last week joined calls for legalization, reminding readers that even police have formed anti-prohibition groups. "Those who support legalizing marijuana aren't just recreational users. Current and former members of the law enforcement and justice communities have spoken out on the failure of current drug laws... Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was formed by a group of concerned police and justice individuals."

In the U.K. this week, columnist George Monbiot exposes the corrupting influences of for-profit prisons in the Guardian newspaper. "In the U.S. and the UK they have a powerful incentive to ensure that the number of prisoners keeps rising... Prison expansion [has] spawned a new set of vested interests with stakes in keeping prisons full and in building more... Even as crime declines, lawmakers are pressed by their sponsors to increase the rate of imprisonment."

And finally this week from the U.K., a frank piece in the Economist Newspaper tells us precisely how to stop the drug wars: legalization. "Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same... By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs... Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated."


Pubdate: Thu, 05 Mar 2009
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen

Gangsters murdering each other in public. Innocent bystanders gunned down. The police demanding more power and money. The government responding with tougher laws.


"Allan Rock's laws will fail," I predicted. Yes, lots of bikers will go to prison. But the enormous profit margins of the illicit trade will recruit plenty of replacements. "Long, hard experience shows that criminalization will never eradicate the sale of illegal drugs." Lots of bikers did go to prison. But cocaine and other illicit drugs didn't suddenly disappear from the streets of Montreal. New people stepped in to claim the abandoned market share and the flow of drugs was as smooth as a glass of legal scotch.


But decades of failure doesn't seem to matter to policymakers.

In 1998, the Canadian government signed on to a United Nations declaration that solemnly committed the nations of the world to "eliminate or significantly reduce" the production of drug crops. The UN slogan: "A drug-free world -- we can do it!" Today, the world is not drug-free. In fact, drug production is greater than ever, distribution is wider, and prices lower. The conclusion could not be clearer: Drug prohibition is the most futile public policy since the Persian emperor Xerxes ordered the Hellespont -- the narrow strait separating Europe and Asia Minor -- to be whipped.

And yet, when gang violence once again flares up and innocent people are gunned down, virtually no politician or senior official will even ask whether the current approach is doing more harm than good. Instead, they will talk about doing more of the same. Tougher punishments. Great surveillance powers. Whatever. The details don't matter any more than it matters what type of whip Xerxes used.

In the United States, law enforcement budgets are massive. Powers of search and seizure are sweeping, particularly when organized crime is involved. Punishments are so savage a dealer with a bag of pot and a handgun may face life in prison with no chance of parole -- while traffickers who fire their guns may face the death penalty.

It has accomplished nothing. The laws of economics cannot be defeated by the laws of legislatures.




Pubdate: Tue, 03 Mar 2009
Source: Chilliwack Progress (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Chilliwack Progress
Author: Margaret Evans

Amid the uproar over guns, gangs, and government intervention there persists a question that is constantly swept aside in the law enforcement stomp to rid the world of guns and gangs through government intervention.

Should marijuana be legalized or at least decriminalized?


Those who support legalizing marijuana aren't just recreational users. Current and former members of the law enforcement and justice communities have spoken out on the failure of current drug laws. The same year StatsCan's health report came out, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was formed by a group of concerned police and justice individuals. LEAP's aim is to reduce the harmful consequences from the war on drugs and lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

Their beliefs echo those of another time when prohibition against alcohol was collapsing. In the early 1900s prohibition had been driven by religious intolerance and came into effect in 1920. But as wealthy industrialist John Rockefeller Jr. wrote in 1932, "When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped the day would come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; an army of lawbreakers has appeared; respect for the law has greatly lessened and crime has increased to a level never seen before."

In 1933, responding to public pressure for repeal of the Volstead Act that had outlawed alcohol, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an Amendment allowing the manufacture and sale of beer and light wines. Apparently he was pretty relieved. Putting his pen down, he commented famously, "I think this would be a good time for a beer."




Pubdate: Tue, 3 Mar 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: George Monbiot

The Inmate Population Has Soared Since Britain Started Running Prisons for Profit. Little Wonder Lobbyists Want Titan Jails


Even as crime declines, lawmakers are pressed by their sponsors to increase the rate of imprisonment. The US has, by a very long way, the world's highest proportion of people behind bars: 756 prisoners per100,000 people, just over 1% of the adult population. Similarly wealthy countries have around one-tenth of this rate of imprisonment.


And there's another line of possible evidence. In the two countries whose economies most resemble the UK's -- Germany and France -- the prison population has risen quite slowly. France has 96 inmates per 100,000 people, an increase of 14% since 1992. Germany has 89 prisoners per 100,000 -- 25% more than in 1992 but 9% less than in 2001. But the UK now locks up 151 out of every 100,000 inhabitants: 73% more than in 1992 and 20% more than in 2001. Yes, our politicians have barely come down from the trees, yes we are still governed out of the offices of the Daily Mail, but it would be foolish to dismiss the likely influence of the private prison industry.

This revolting trade in human lives creates a permanent incentive to lock people up: not because prison works, not because it makes us safer, but because it makes money. Privatisation appears to have locked this country into mass imprisonment.



Pubdate: Thu, 5 Mar 2009
Source: Economist, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 The Economist Newspaper Limited

Failed States and Failed Policies

Prohibition Has Failed; Legalisation Is the Least Bad Solution

A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug.


Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world.

By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless.

That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.

"Least bad" does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries. As we outline below, many vulnerable drug-takers would suffer. But in our view, more would gain.


Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated.

Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade, and use the funds raised (and the billions saved on law-enforcement) to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction.

The sale of drugs to minors should remain banned.



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By Anthony Papa and Gabriel Sayegh

Drug addiction shouldn't be a crime -- the real crime would be if reform of New York's draconian drug laws were stymied yet again.


Celebrating 100 years of failure and futility

By Brian Doherty

The United Nations is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the "international war on drugs." Yes, it was in 1909 that 13 countries joined together in the "International Opium Commission" to halt the Chinese opium trade. And how did that go?


United Nations University Midday Forum

There is a great need to reform current global drug policy. Some propose legalization, while others emphasize greater priority for health and human rights.

Date: Monday, February 23rd Time: 1:15pm to 2:45pm Venue: Conference Room 8, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Watch The Video Of The Event


Century of Lies - 03/03/09 - Michael McSpadden

Judge Michael McSpadden, one of sixteen Houston/Harris County judges who see the drug war as draconian.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/04/09 - Steve DeAngelo

Steve DeAngelo, CEO of Harborside Health Center, a medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland California gives us a tour of the facility + Official Govt. Truth with Winston Francis, the LEAP report from Terry Nelson & Doug McVay with Drug War Facts


By David Downs

If pot is truly medicine, shouldn't it be standardized? A lab has big plans to test the potency of Cali cannabis sold in dispensaries.


Washington, DC - 03/02/2009 - Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on the States.


Produced by an Oscar-winning studio for the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute, International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009 highlights some of the disastrous effects of drug policy in recent years and proposes solutions for a way forward.


Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


Legalizing Marijuana? A California lawmaker last week introduced a bill to "tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol." Later in the week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the Obama administration may end raids on pot dispensaries in California. Is this the beginning of a sea change in drug policy both in California and the nation? Host: Michael Krasny, Guests: James P. Gray, retired Orange County Superior Court judge and speaker for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), John Lovell, lobbyist for California Peace Officers' Association



Is Medicinal Marijuana Legal Yet? A DrugSense Focus Alert.


Did you?



By Charles Muser

Re "730 in U.S. arrested in cartel probe," Feb. 26

The Times' map and article detailing the "success" in busting the Sinaloa drug gang in the United States seem to me to be instead an illustration of the abject failure of our drug policies.

How in God's name can anyone associated with the anti-drug establishment think the fact that a single drug gang from Mexico was able to infiltrate so deeply into our country and operate long enough to amass billions of dollars demonstrates a shining example of the success of the "war on drugs"?

I'm 71 years old and have been hearing about this war my entire adult life. In that time, the only accomplishment has been that many have had lifelong careers fighting drugs. Isn't it about time we tried something different?

Charles Muser Irvine

Pubdate: Sun, 1 Mar 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)


New Report Calls for Moratorium on Use of Most Widely Used Field  ( Top )

Report Entitled 'False Positives Equal False Justice' Reveals that the Most Widely Used Field Test for Identifying Marijuana and other Drugs Tests Positive on Non-Illegal Substances

Earlier this week, the Marijuana Policy Project and Mintwood Media Collective released a new report exposing faulty drug tests used by law enforcement in the U.S. and Canada. The study, entitled "False Positives Equal False Justice," reveals that the NIK NarcoPouch 908/Duquenois-Levine Reagent field test kit, the most widely used field test for identifying marijuana, as well as the majority of other drug test kits used as the basis for arrest and prosecution by law enforcement have an unacceptably high rate of rendering false positives. Read the report at

Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, explained their position, "In terms of policy recommendations, it's real simple, no one should be using these faulty field tests, they should be thrown out and the company that's making them should probably be put out of business." Natural soap, chocolate and newspaper, among other household items, all will test positive for marijuana and other drugs such as GHB, yet these kits continue to be used in both arrests and prosecutions nationwide. Kampia continued, "In our society we have the principle that you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, these tests turn that on its head."

Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology at Claflin University commented on the experiments he conducted for the report. "While testing the specificity of the KN Reagent test kits with 42 non-marijuana substances, I observed that 70% of these tests rendered a false positive."

The report documents that law enforcement officials, forensic drug analysts, and prosecutors knowingly employ the flawed Duquenois-Levine and KN Reagent tests as well as mere conclusory police reports to wrongfully prosecute and convict millions of individuals for anti-marijuana law violations. These wrongful prosecutions and convictions violate Supreme Court rulings, specifically Jackson v. Virginia and Daubert v. Dow Merrell Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which prohibit the use of inaccurate, nonspecific tests and/or conclusory reports because they do not prove the presence of marijuana in a seized substance.

Forensics expert and author of the report, John Kelly writes in the Executive Summary, "It is imperative that law enforcement agencies take notice and voluntarily end the use of these flawed drug tests. The essential need of protecting the innocent must outweigh the convenience of a field drug test that only gives accurate information some of the time."

To view video of experiments of these tests and other clips from a March 3 press conference about the report, please go to:


"Laws do not persuade because they threaten." - Seneca

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

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