This Just In
(1)State May Take Over Growing Medical Pot
(2)Choice Of Drug Czar Indicates Focus On Treatment, Not Jail
(3)Fears In U.S. Drug War Will Destabilize Mexico
(4)War on Drugs 'Has Enriched Cartels'

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2009 Statesman Journal
Author: Tracy Loew

Lawmakers Say House Bill Would Improve Public Safety

The state would take over growing and distributing marijuana to patients in the medical-marijuana program under a bill introduced in the Legislature on Wednesday.

"Our current system isn't working, and we need to move quickly to protect patient safety," said Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass.

House Bill 3274 directs the state to establish and operate a marijuana production facility and distribute the drug to pharmacies for dispensing to cardholders and primary caregivers. The bill imposes a $98-per-ounce tax on marijuana, which would cover the state's costs of operating and securing the production center.

Lawmakers said they think the bill would improve public safety by eliminating private medical-marijuana grow sites.

Some private growers have been accused of illegally selling marijuana to noncardholders, and other sites have been targeted by burglaries and home invasions.

"House Bill 3274 takes medical marijuana off the streets and into a safer and more secure environment," said Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Carrie Johnson, and Amy Goldstein

The White House yesterday said that it will push for treatment, rather than incarceration, of people arrested for drug-related crimes as it announced the nomination of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to oversee the nation's effort to control illegal drugs.

The choice of drug czar and the emphasis on alternative drug courts, announced by Vice President Biden, signal a sharp departure from Bush administration policies, gravitating away from cutting the supply of illicit drugs from foreign countries and toward curbing drug use in communities across the United States.

Biden, who helped shape the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a U.S. senator in the 1980s, said the Obama administration would continue to focus on the southwest border, where Mexican authorities are facing thousands of drug-related murders and unchecked violence from drug cartels moving cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into American markets. But it remained unclear how the new administration would engineer its budget to tackle the problem.

Since President Richard Nixon first declared a war on drugs nearly four decades ago, the government has spent billions of dollars with mixed results, according to independent studies and drug policy scholars. In recent years, the number of high-school-age children abusing illegal substances has dipped, but marijuana use has inched upward, and drug offenders continue to flood the nation's courts.

"The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them," Kerlikowske said yesterday at a ceremony attended by his former law enforcement colleagues. "Our nation's drug problem is one of human suffering, and as a police officer but also in my own family, I have experienced the effects that drugs can have."

Kerlikowske's adult stepson, Jeffrey, has been arrested in the past on drug charges, an issue that the police chief referenced in his remarks yesterday.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Carolyn Lochhead

WASHINGTON - -- Concern about a potential failed state - not Pakistan, not Somalia, but California's neighbor Mexico - is mounting in Washington as an all-out war involving 45,000 Mexican military personnel fails to quell rising drug violence that is spilling from such Mexican cities as Tijuana into the United States. An estimated 6,290 drug-related murders occurred in Mexico last year, six times the standard definition of a civil war, said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a leading scholar on the issue at the Brookings Institution.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, described beheadings of Mexican mayors and police chiefs and said Mexican drug gangs have infiltrated the cannabis fields on both public and private lands in Northern California. He said Mexican villagers are kidnapped and smuggled into the northern coastal forests to grow pot, leaving environmental wreckage in their wake.

He said a timber company employee had been held at gunpoint by a Mexican gang, and he worried that hikers could be threatened. There also have been gang confrontations with firefighters.

"This isn't your '60s hippie growing a little pot on the back 40 to get through winter," Thompson said.

Two House committees will hold hearings today, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has scheduled a Senate hearing for Tuesday to determine how to respond. Ideas range from building a stronger border fence to decriminalizing marijuana.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Toby Green, in Vienna

Campaigners Criticise Draft Paper for Not Including Harm Reduction Tactics

United Nations member states are set to paper over their differences today and sign up to 10 more years of the much-criticised "war on drugs" at a drugs summit in Vienna. A draft policy declaration tabled at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs last night did not mention the innovation that campaigners had hoped for: "harm reduction" strategies such as needle exchange programmes to prevent the spread of HIV, or even legalisation and regulation to help erode the power of traffickers and drug lords.

The summit comes in the wake of high-profile indictments of the UN's drug strategy. A European Commission report published on Tuesday said the strategy had not made any progress in cutting supply and demand.

Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said that "measurable progress" had been made.

Opening the Vienna talks, he said addiction to illicit drugs had "stabilised" in the past few years but admitted that a "dramatic unintended consequence" of the battle to stamp out the illicit trade was that drug cartels had become so rich they could destabilise impoverished and vulnerable nations in Africa and South America.

"When mafias can buy elections, candidates, political parties, in a word, power, the consequences can only be highly destabilising" he said.

"While ghettoes burn, West Africa is under attack [by Latin American traffickers transporting cocaine to Europe], drug cartels threaten Central America and drug money penetrates bankrupt financial institutions".





U.S. authorities are sounding more distressed in their call for protecting the U.S.-Mexico border from drug cartels. One U.S. Rep. recently suggested that trouble there is more significant for the U.S. than trouble in Afghanistan. Other reports continue to suggest that the Mexican cartels are already well-established north of the border. Finally, at least one analyst sees a real solution.


Pubdate: Wed, 11 Mar 2009
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

WASHINGTON - A top Republican lawmaker criticized the Defense Department yesterday for not making the drug violence in Mexico as big a priority as Afghanistan and for not coordinating U.S. resources to confront it.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, told the Associated Press that the Mexican turmoil is "a lot more important, in my own judgment, than Afghanistan at this moment."

He added: "We need to raise this to a higher level."

Lewis praised the Homeland Security Department for deploying unmanned aerial vehicles to track human activity along the U.S.-Mexico border, but he criticized the Pentagon for not providing helicopters to help patrol it.

You can't chase these people around in trucks," said Lewis, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.




Pubdate: Sat, 07 Mar 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst
Author: Dane Schiller

Recent Arrests In A Mistaken Killing Point To The Perilous Presence Of Gangs

The order was clear: Kill the guy in the Astros jersey.

But in a case of mistaken identity, Jose Perez ended up dead. The intended target -- the Houston-based head of a Mexican drug cartel cell pumping millions of dollars of cocaine into the city -- walked away.

Perez, 27, was just a working guy, out getting dinner late on a Friday with his wife and young children at Chilos, a seafood restaurant on the Gulf Freeway.

His murder and the assassination gone awry point to the perilous presence of Mexican organized crime and how cartel violence has seeped into the city.

Arrests came in December when police and federal agents got a break in the 2006 shooting as they charted the relationship and rivalries between at least five cartel cells operating in Houston. A rogue's gallery of about 100 names and mug shots taken at Texas jails and morgues offers a blueprint for Mexican organized crime.




Pubdate: Mon, 9 Mar 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Authors: Larry Copeland and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Justice Dept. Says City Is Main Drug-Trafficking Center for All of the Eastern U.S.

ATLANTA -- In a city where Coca Cola, United Parcel Service and Home Depot are the titans of industry, there are new powerful forces on the block: Mexican drug cartels.

Their presence and ruthless tactics are largely unknown to most here. Yet, of the 195 U.S. cities where Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are operating, federal law enforcement officials say Atlanta has emerged as the new gateway to the troubled Southwest border.

Rival drug cartels, the same violent groups warring in Mexico for control of routes to lucrative U.S. markets, have established Atlanta as the principal distribution center for the entire eastern U.S., according to the Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center.

In fiscal year 2008, federal drug authorities seized more drug-related cash in Atlanta -- about $70 million -- than any other region in the country, Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA ) records show.

This year, more than $30 million has been intercepted in the Atlanta area -- far more than the $19 million in Los Angeles and $18 million in Chicago.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2009
Source: East Valley Tribune (AZ)
Copyright: 2009 East Valley Tribune.
Author: Steven Greenhut

When it comes to foreign affairs, Americans are used to debating progress or setbacks in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or on the Israeli invasion last month of the Gaza Strip.

We're used to thinking about death and destruction thousands of miles from home and, as a result, tend to debate these matters based more on glancing impressions, quick reads of newspapers and Web sites and sound bites rather than personal knowledge or the knowledge of those who live in the countries at issue.

What if I mentioned that thousands of people have been killed - 7,337 at last count - since 2007 in open warfare just a short drive from here? Or that the grisly violence has reached close to areas within the readership of this newspaper? What if I noted that the violence has altered the lives of many of our neighbors, friends and co-workers, who have family members who dwell in the heart of the war zone? What if I added that, because of this war, we place our lives in jeopardy by simply visiting some of our favorite vacation spots? Would that cause you to think twice about your foreign-policy priorities?

I am referring, of course, to Mexico, which has turned into a horror show in the past couple of years. There's been sporadic news coverage of these events. But the average American - and the average politician, for that matter - doesn't seem attuned or interested in a human tragedy that's starting to spill not just across the border, but deeply into the American interior.

I still receive many phone calls and e-mails from readers upset about the "Mexican" situation, but they aren't talking about the beheadings, murders, kidnappings, assassinations of newspaper editors, gunfights in town squares between drug lords and the military, killings of bystanders and children, or about the huge numbers of Mexican police who work for the cartels.

No, they are referring to the immigration situation, and they generally are upset at the number of Mexican nationals who come north mainly to escape grueling poverty. But, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out at a recent speech to an Orange County, Calif., trade association, there isn't a wall big enough to keep out the nasty problems now destroying Mexico. Americans need to think more broadly about this matter. Since hearing Gingrich, I've been reading about, and fuming over, these horrors.

American policy - in particular, the federal government's insistence on funding and fighting a drug war here and in pushing the Mexican government to battle the drug cartels down south - has exacerbated the carnage in Mexico.




Our first two stories this week illustrate contrasting attitudes toward drug policy in the press. Both stories are about former star athletes who got caught up in the criminal justice system through selling relatively small amounts of drugs. But one story highlights viewpoints that suggest the initial sentence was unjust, while the other story suggests that the only injustice is that the convict was released early. Elsewhere in the U.S., a big drug operation has allegedly infiltrated another small town. And in Ireland, drug cartels may have infiltrated Garda.


Pubdate: Sun, 8 Mar 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Claire Cooper

Willie Mays Aikens has returned to Kansas City, where he's still a star. He's worked in construction and hopes to land a job with Major League Baseball, maybe as a counselor, he says, "talking to people about what drugs can do to a person."

People in Kansas City still talk about Aikens' four home runs for the Royals in the 1980 World Series. They seem ready to forgive the crack cocaine bust that earned him a 16-year prison term.

"It takes a big man to step back into the limelight after such a dark path," wrote one blogger.

Aikens' path was dark indeed, but not because his crime was large. The drug sale that sent him to prison was 64 grams, about a quarter cup. The federal cocaine sentencing statutes treat that much crack the same as a bucket of cocaine powder, the material from which crack is produced.

Aikens' case exemplifies all that's gone wrong because of these federal sentencing laws: The focus on petty crimes. The distortion of priorities in the war on drugs. The lopsided impact on African Americans - the 83 percent of federal crack defendants who are black, though a federal health survey found most crack users are white.

The problems have been documented for years. Now it's time for a change.

Finally, key congressional members seem to be in a negotiating mood, and the Obama administration wants the crack/powder disparity eliminated. In the last session of Congress, then-Sen. Barack Obama co-sponsored a bill introduced by then-Sen. Joe Biden to do just that.

The same bill is on the table again. HR 265, introduced in the House by Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, would increase federal penalties for big-time trafficking while reducing them for possession or dealing in trivial quantities of crack - offenses that should be left to state prosecutors or public health officials.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2009
Source: Starkville Daily News (MS)
Copyright: Starkville Daily News 2009
Author: Brian Hawkins

The scheduled release of a former Mississippi State football player from prison this week has local prosecutors voicing renewed concerns about the inadequacies of the state's correctional system.

Dontay Walker, 29, is scheduled to be released from a Mississippi Department of Corrections facility on Tuesday after serving four years of a 25-year sentence for his 2005 conviction on charges of possession of more than an ounce of marijuana and possession of more than an ounce of crack cocaine.

Walker, according to a letter sent by fax from MDOC officials to Judge Jim Kitchens, the District Attorney's Office and Starkville and Oktibbeha County authorities, will be placed under house arrest. The decision has prosecutors in the District Attorney's Office unhappy.

"Apparently there's nothing we can do about it," said Assistant District Attorney Frank Clark, who prosecuted Walker.

"It's getting to the point of being absurd. The penitentiary is getting to be like the car dealer that advertises on TV - 'We're turnin' 'em loose' - because that's all they seem to be doing these days. It doesn't matter what the judge sentences somebody to serve, the penitentiary is going to let them go whenever they're ready," Clark said.

Walker, a starting running back for the MSU football team until he left the team late in the 2002 season, and another man were arrested on Aug. 28, 2003, after Oktibbeha County sheriff's deputies and Starkville police officers recovered felony amounts of crack cocaine and marijuana, various drug packaging paraphernalia from the gray 1980s model Chevrolet Caprice in which the two had been traveling.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2009
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Fayetteville Observer
Author: Drew Brooks

LINDEN - Gossip has a way of channeling through the Heads of State Hair Salon on Main Street.

This month, the hot topic is drugs. On Feb. 26, agents from the Cumberland County Bureau of Narcotics arrested 10 people on the outskirts of this small town on the county's northeastern edge. The arrests came six months into an investigation of drug-related crime in the area. Agents seized marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs, money and weapons during a search of six homes.

The arrests have caused shock and disbelief in Linden, where 132 people live. "It hits close to home," said Dana Byrd, a stylist at the salon. Byrd said many of her customers know those arrested or their families. Because of those relationships, some residents declined to talk beyond calling the situation "scary" or expressing disbelief. "It is a little shocking," Byrd said. "But when everybody knows everybody, you can't keep that quiet." The arrests are particularly disturbing because Linden is such a small and rural town.

Visitors driving in from the west are greeted by a cemetery and several churches. Main Street is little more than a post office, town hall, a volunteer fire department and a mixed bag of homes, farmland and businesses. Linden's churches dominate the landscape as the largest buildings in town, aside from an abandoned brick schoolhouse.

Pastor Wayne T. Bone of Linden First Baptist Church said the town has for the most part stayed true to the "old-timey core values" that once covered the Bible Belt.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Mar 2009
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: John Mooney

Suspicion Grows That Heroin Dealer Was 'Permitted' To Import Hard Drugs

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission ( GSOC ) is examining scores of drug seizures, arrests and covert operations involving Kieran Boylan, a convicted heroin dealer whose relationship with the force is the subject of a collusion inquiry following an expose by The Sunday Times.

The garda ombudsman now suspects that Boylan was "permitted" to import huge quantities of heroin, cocaine and cannabis, which he supplied to low-level dealers, who were later arrested, while he continued to wholesale drugs to other criminal gangs.

The scope of the GSOC inquiry has been extended to examine other startling claims, among them allegations that gardai informed Boylan that he was being targeted by other garda units. Personal details on gardai were also leaked to the criminal.

The disclosure has prompted calls for Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, to stand down an internal inquiry he set up to examine Boylan's relationship with members of the force.




President Obama appointed his drug czar last week, but it remains to be seen who will direct the DEA. If the DEA follows Obama's lead, and begins to base policies on evidence and science rather than intuition and ideology, then perhaps, in addition to halting their raids on cannabis dispensaries, the DEA will stop obstructing industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis research.

But just in case you were beginning to wonder if the truth would finally prevail, and cannabis activists could move on to other pressing matters, there are still a few die-hard prohibitionists, such as Kevin A. Sabet, begging for more public humiliation. Keep writing those LTEs!


Pubdate: Sat, 7 Mar 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Froma Harrop

When a pizzeria closes, the pizzeria down the block usually sees a surge in business. That principle applies to commerce in the larger North American neighborhood. Whenever the United States locks the gate on a plausible economic activity, Canadians move in and profit.

The Bush administration's hostility toward stem-cell science created opportunity in Canada. Starved of adequate federal support, American labs doing this cutting-edge science shrank or closed down, and many of their researchers moved to Canada. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of American university professors and assistants relocating to Canada jumped 27 percent. Some were stars in stem-cell research.

The Obama administration has reversed the Bush policy. Canadians now fear they might suffer their own brain-drain back to the United States. A recent headline from Toronto's Globe and Mail says it all: "As U.S. emerges from Dark Age, Canada's scientific edge fades."

Hemp is a plant used to make paper, oils, textiles and other products. But because hemp is related to marijuana, the U.S. government outlawed its cultivation in the '50s. Now get this: American manufacturers are free to import hemp fibers, oil and seed from other countries. For example, U.S. carmakers use hemp inside door panels and for insulation in seats.

Industrial hemp doesn't contain enough THC (the euphoric agent in marijuana) to get anyone high, but that hasn't stopped the Drug Enforcement Administration from sending out helicopters to scour the land for hemp plants growing wild in ditches.




Pubdate: Mon, 9 Mar 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Details: Authors: Stu Woo and Justin Scheck

SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the federal government will no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries was cheered by California dealers as well as state legislators who seek to legalize and tax sales of the drug.

Under the Bush administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided dispensaries across the country. Such seizures were especially common in California, which in 1996 became the first state to legalize marijuana sales to people with doctor's prescriptions -- in opposition to federal laws banning any use of the drug.

The attorney general signaled recently that states will be able to set their own medical-marijuana laws, which President Barack Obama said during his campaign that he supported. What Mr. Obama said then "is now American policy," Mr. Holder said.

"We may be seeing the end of an era," said Rob MacCoun, a law professor who studies drug policy at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's not likely to be a priority for the Obama administration."

That news relieved Kevin Reed, who owns the Green Cross, a medical- marijuana-delivery service in San Francisco. He said he wasn't too concerned about raids because they usually target large dispensaries that "get out of control" with high traffic and cash flow. But federal seizures were constantly "in the back of your head," Mr. Reed said.

Mr. MacCoun said the Obama administration's stance may help to legitimize a "quasi-legal" marijuana culture in California. The state has as many as 200,000 medical-marijuana users, the most out of the 13 states that allow such use of the drug.




Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times

The attorney general should heed calls to end the DEA's obstruction of serious research into the medicinal value of marijuana.

At the heart of the debate about marijuana's medicinal value is a dearth of academic research into its therapeutic properties. For 40 years, the federal government has frustrated such study by restricting cultivation of marijuana for research to a single source, the University of Mississippi. Most recently, the Bush administration denied the application of a well-regarded botanist at the University of Massachusetts to establish another cultivation facility, despite a ruling by an administrative law judge determining that it should go forward.

For eight years, professor Lyle Craker has struggled to obtain a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration to grow research- grade cannabis. His proposal is to supply marijuana to DEA-approved researchers who have undergone a rigorous review and approval process by the U.S. Public Health Service, and whose protocols have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The DEA, however, has behaved as if this serious scientist wants to start a backyard plot for campus parties.

In February 2007, after nine days of testimony from expert witnesses and administration officials, light broke through the DEA's bureaucratic murk: Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner issued an 87-page opinion saying that the supply of marijuana from the University of Mississippi is insufficient in quality and quantity and that Craker's project should go forward. In a case study of governmental intransigence, the DEA dithered for two years. Then, a few days before the Obama administration took power, acting Administrator Michele Leonhart issued a final order denying Craker's application.

Members of Congress have urged Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to amend or overrule the order, and he should do so. Then he should go further and change the culture of the agency. Instead of thwarting the advancement of science, the DEA should encourage cannabis research. As California and the U.S. government continue to debate the future of medical marijuana, what we need is a body of work on the drug's efficacy in treating a variety of illnesses and conditions. Instead, we have a collection of small studies and individual testimony. On Monday, President Obama signed a "scientific integrity presidential memorandum" and promised that his administration would base its public policies on science, not politics; the DEA is one of many federal agencies ready for enlightenment.



Pubdate: Sun, 8 Mar 2009
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2009 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Kevin A. Sabet
Referenced: AB390

It's a tempting idea: Legalize and tax a commodity that a lot of people like, collect the revenue, and reap the budgetary benefits. In economic times like these, that might be just the formula we need to pull us out of the red. In this case, the truth does not live up to the hype.

Legalizing marijuana will not solve our budget woes, nor will it be good for public health. Introducing marijuana into the open market is very likely to do some other things, however: increase the drug's consumption, and with it, the enormous social costs associated with marijuana-related accidents, illness and productivity loss.

The example of legal alcohol and tobacco reveal an unsettling pattern. Legal drugs are by definition easy to obtain, and commercialization glamorizes their use and furthers their social acceptance. Their price is low, and high profits make promotion worthwhile for sellers. Addiction is simply the price of doing business. Any revenue gained from taxing these drugs is quickly offset by the heavy costs associated with their increased prevalence. Because today's high- potency marijuana is much more harmful than once thought, a spike in use from legalization would result in a financial burden California cannot afford to bear.

It is almost universally accepted in the medical community that marijuana use is linked with mental illness. Since the appearance of the British Medical Journal's famous 2002 headline, "Marijuana and psychiatric illness: the link grows stronger," the research showing marijuana's link with illnesses like psychosis and schizophrenia has become frighteningly commonplace. In fact, researchers from King's College in London have shown that eliminating marijuana use would decrease the incidence of schizophrenia in the American population by more than 8 percent.


Note: Kevin A. Sabet, a senior drug policy adviser in the Clinton and Bush administrations, is a native of Anaheim. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.



The UN summit on drugs policy in Vienna, Austria was held this week, ten years after the 1998 UN prohibition summit was held, promising, "A Drug-Free World" in which government force (police weapons, arrests, prison) would eliminate or significantly reduce cannabis, cocaine, and opium by 2008. While little has changed in illegal drug usage or availability over the last ten years, governments worldwide remain enchanted as ever with the failed policy of prohibition.

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia and former coca farmer, surprised delegates at the UN summit by eating a coca leaf during a speech. "This is coca leaf, this is not cocaine, this is part and parcel of a culture." Morales argued that coca should be legal for medicine and food.

A cogent analysis by Ed Howker of the UN summit appeared in the UK Independent newspaper. "So, why did we lose the drugs war? The answer is simple economics. Demand will find a supply... [O]ur nations are addicted to a policy which is ruining the lives of their own people while enslaving the peoples of others... Like any addict, their first step should be to admit to themselves that they have the problem."

In Canada, amidst a saturation barrage of media coverage repeatedly asserting recent shootings were "drug related", the right-wing minority conservative Harper government has re-introduced legislation which conflates gang violence (of which there is little in Canada) with marijuana "crimes" (of which there is much in Canada). The move, while widening the net for planned for-profit prisons, also plays to the Conservatives' "law and order" and "tough on drugs" themes, believed to be popular with Conservative party voters. Ironically, most people in British Columbia, while saying they support a crackdown on "gangs", at the same time support the outright "legalization" of cannabis, according to an Angus Reid poll released this week.

We leave you this week with a piece from Dan Gardner in the Canadian Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper, which related the research of Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron. "[T]he hypothesis that drug prohibition generates violence is generally consistent with the long time-series and cross-country facts." Read that again. "[D]rug prohibition generates violence". To police and others irked with columnist Dan Gardner for such drug-war heresy ("the police are sick of me writing that their hard work is worse than useless"), Gardner offers a challenge: form a new commission and honestly look at the evidence.


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Toby Green

Evo Morales, the Bolivian leader, ate a coca leaf in front of delegates at the UN summit on drugs yesterday, to underline his demand that the raw ingredient of cocaine should be allowed for medicinal and other uses.

President Morales, a former peasant coca farmer, brandished the leaf during an impassioned speech, saying: "This is coca leaf, this is not cocaine, this is part and parcel of a culture." He told ministers that the ban on coca was a "major historical mistake".

He added: "It has no harmful impact, no harmful impact at all in its natural state. It causes no mental disturbances, it does not make people run mad, as some would have us believe, and it does not cause addiction."




Pubdate: Monday 9 March 2009
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Ed Howker

Our policy is based on the belief that the war against drugs is winnable. It is not


This is called evidence-based analysis and the sooner international policy makers get their head around it the better. The UN hoped to achieve their goals by "eliminating or significantly reducing" the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008. Well, here we are, so let's see how they have been getting on. Today the UN places a value on the international drugs trade at around $320bn (UKP 227bn) a year - that's more than twice the annual budget of the European Union - - while the U.S. spends $40bn in fighting it. We are hopelessly out-gunned.

Since 1998 we've read a Downing Street strategy memo which admitted that the UK government seizes less than 20 per cent of the hundreds of tonnes of cocaine and heroin that enters our country, and that to make trafficking unprofitable would require us to capture 80 per cent - a plain impossibility.

So, why did we lose the drugs war? The answer is simple economics. Demand will find a supply.


Instead we have an international drug mafia more powerful and wealthy than any organised criminals in the history of human society. They are the beneficiaries of the alchemy of prohibition which turns virtually worthless crops into a commodity worth its weight in gold. And, unsurprisingly when the product is so valuable, they will stop at nothing, literally nothing, to get it to market and realise the profit. If you were not stung by the banking crisis and are still looking for a justification for market regulation, this is it. The results are all around us.


Before the last UN convention more than 100 political and community leaders, including the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wrote to the UN Secretary General to call for an open, honest and rational debate about drugs. Last week, this plea was repeated by 26 peers, who seek the immediate creation of an intergovernmental panel to do the same. They perceive, rightly, that our nations are addicted to a policy which is ruining the lives of their own people while enslaving the peoples of others.

Tomorrow, in Vienna, the UN has another opportunity to stage an intervention. Like any addict, their first step should be to admit to themselves that they have the problem.



Pubdate: Wed, 11 Mar 2009
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Surrey Leader
Author: Jeff Nagel

A new poll shows B.C. residents strongly support a series of proposed justice reforms to curb gang activity and nearly two-thirds also back the legalization of marijuana.

Angus Reid Strategies surveyed Canadians across the country and found at least 95 per cent of the B.C. respondents back mandatory minimum sentences for serious drug crime like drive-by shootings and designating gang-related homicide first-degree murder.

Those proposed changes are being spearheaded by the federal Conservative government.


B.C. was the province most likely to back legalization of marijuana - 64 per cent of respondents support the idea, compared to 50 per cent nationally.

Two-thirds of B.C. respondents also said the federal government should not eliminate harm reduction programs such as supervised injection sites and needle exchanges.

A majority from B.C. (53 per cent) said the federal Tories shouldn't have scrapped the marijuana decriminalization legislation previously introduced by the Liberals.




Pubdate: Sat, 07 Mar 2009
Source: Maple Ridge News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Maple Ridge News
Author: Phil Melnychuk

While bullets continue to fly and bodies fall, the federal government is trying again to make jail time mandatory for drug crimes.


"We need to take action and impose stronger penalties so that there is a real deterrent to people who get involved with gangs, and with drugs."

The government has re-introduced a bill that would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to ensure drug producers and pushers serve time if convicted.

The specifics include:

. one-year in jail for dealing drugs such as marijuana, when carried out for organized crime purposes or when a weapon or violence is involved;




Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Dan Gardner


Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard University, has been studying the drug trade for 15 years. He stresses that "drug-related violence" has little to do with drugs.

Prohibition of "any commodity for which there's demand leads to violence because the market is driven underground," he said in an interview. "It has relatively little to do with the commodity that is prohibited. It has almost everything to do with the fact that if you make it illegal, people are going to resolve their disputes with violence, not lawyers.

"If we banned coffee, we'd have a huge black market in coffee." And thugs in the coffee trade would be blasting away at each other.


Examining data spanning countries and decades, Miron and his colleagues found things like arrest rates, capital punishment and gun laws didn't explain the numbers.

But "the hypothesis that drug prohibition generates violence," they concluded, "is generally consistent with the long time-series and cross-country facts."

Miron's conclusion is sobering: If governments respond to gang violence with tougher laws and crackdowns, they will ultimately produce more violence.


The best way to make a significant, lasting reduction in gang violence, Miron contends, is to remove drugs from the black market. They can be strictly regulated using any of a hundred different policy models. But they must be legalized.


Look, I know the police are sick of me writing that their hard work is worse than useless. To be honest, I'm sick of writing it, too.


So let's have a commission of inquiry that can gather the best evidence from all over the world, analyze it properly and draw conclusions without regard to political expediency.

Let the evidence decide. If the police and other supporters of the status quo are confident they are right, they should welcome an inquiry as a chance to silence the critics.

In fact, that's the deal I'm offering. Call for the creation of an inquiry. Demand wide terms of reference, a serious research budget and a respected voice to lead it.

Do that and I'll shut up.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


The effect has been to stifle critics of the status quo, and make a rational and mature exploration of alternative approaches into a political no-go area, by inaccurately and offensively portraying advocates of change as `pro-drug'.


Retired police detective Howard Wooldridge says we can hurt gangs and cartels by legalizing and regulating all drugs after spending years fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs."


By Al Giordano


By John Tierney

Which way is the Obama administration heading in dealing with illicit drugs? It depends which speaker you heeded at Wednesday's ceremony announcing that Gil Kerlikowske, the Seattle police chief, will become the White House's new drug czar.


On March 11, 2009, lawyers for Prof. Craker submitted a powerful Supplemental Motion To Reconsider and Exhibits to DEA Deputy Administrator Michelle Leonhart, adding to a Motion to Reconsider filed January 30.


UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs Prepares to Head Further Down Same Prohibitionist Path, But Dissenting Voices Grow Louder

Drug War Chronicle, Issue #576, 3/13/09


MPP Director of Communications Bruce Mirken discusses marijuana policy and the new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, with Rachel Maddow.


Century of Lies - 03/10/09 - Bruce Mirken

Time For YOU To Get Involved: Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project, Matt Simon of New Hampshire medical marijuana effort, Stephen Betzer of Texas' effort, editorial from Coleen McCool, UK's Guardian on Colombian coca & report on Australia's chopper raids on marijuana.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/11/09 - Charles Lynch

Charles Lynch, cannabis dispensary operator aligned with the mayor and chamber of commerce now facing 5 years in federal prison & Cheryl Aichele, ally of Mr. Lynch + Doug McVay with Drug War Facts, Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & a DTN Editorial


With Potential Deployment of National Guard to Mexico Border

President Obama is considering deploying National Guard troops along the border with Mexico in response to the escalating drug war.



By Fred Gardner

Two plants strains relatively rich in cannabidiol (CBD) have been identified by an analytic test lab recently established to serve the medical cannabis industry in California. That's two major stories in one sentence. Let's take it from the bottom.



"Al Roker Reporting: Marijuana Inc.," premieres this Sunday at 10 PM ET. In this edition of "Al Roker Reporting," Al takes an in-depth look at the nation's most used illicit drug. California is one of the 13 states that has decriminalized marijuana for medical use. Here, Al visits the "Farmacy," which is one of the state's many distributors of medical marijuana.


CBC's The Fifth Estate

Friday, March 13, 2009 at 9 p.m.EST ( 6pm PST)

The federal government wants it shut down. The people who use it and who work there say it is saving lives. It is Insite, provincially- funded, and the first and only supervised injection site in North America where addicts can bring their drug of choice and, with the clean needles provided, can inject themselves. Follow Hana Gartner inside and make up your own mind about whether Insite is, as one federal politician has said, an "abomination", or whether there should be more of them in this country.



By Travis Erbacher


Stephen Harper's visit to Vancouver on Thursday, Feb. 26 was highly disturbing. Mr. Harper's Conservative party wants to re-introduce previously expired legislation, which would increase the penalty for growing one marijuana plant to a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison, as well as increasing penalties for other drug offences.

The way that Mr.Harper has decided to do this, very opportunistically, has been to slide it under reasonable legislation which would increase gang-related murders to a first-degree murder charge. This is dishonest politics. It is also guaranteed to fail.

When alcohol prohibition was in effect, many people died from impure homemade alcohol, and innocent people were shot down in the streets over territorial disputes. Does this sound familiar? That was nearly a century ago.

Prohibition of any substance increases prices, reduces purity causing accidental deaths, and increases the violence of gang rivalries, due to higher sums of money being involved. Even with a century of data to show that prohibition is a failed policy, Mr. Harper wants to move us further in the wrong direction.

Want a real solution? Legalize all drugs. Put the gangs out of business. Politicians who support prohibition are guaranteeing gangs in B.C. increasingly high profit margins from drug sales, as well as a monopoly on the drug trade. If there was no money in the drug trade, there would be nothing to fight over, and there would be no more innocent deaths.

Until that happens, the blood of innocents will be on all of our hands. Hopefully, before it's too late, this fact will weigh heavily on all of our minds, and finally, after a century of failed drug policy and unnecessary deaths, we will do the right thing.

Travis Erbacher Langley

Pubdate: Fri, 06 Mar 2009
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)


DrugSense recognizes Dan Linn of Sycamore, Illinois for his six published letters during February, which brings his total published letters that we know of to 42. Dan is the Executive Director of the Illinois Chapter of NORML A volunteer MAP newshawk and editor, Dan manages the selection process for the Letter Of The Week You may read his published letters at:


The Drug War Is Not A Failure  ( Top )

By Pete Guither

People often talk about the drug war being a failure, and, in fact, three quarters of the voting public believe the drug war is a failure ( see ).

I've said it myself.

But it's really not a good description, and calling it a failure doesn't do what we need to motivate the public to care enough about reform.

You see, the word "failure" conjures up images of merely not succeeding. We often think of it like grades in school. A failure is someone who didn't apply himself, or failed to do the necessary things to "pass." It implies that there could be a path that would result in "success" if only more effort was given, or a different approach.

By calling the drug war a failure, we're treating it like some kid getting an "F" in chemistry because he slept through too many classes, when in fact it's more like the kid blew up the chemistry building and released toxic chemicals into the drinking water.

That's not a failure to accomplish something. That is accomplishing something very, very bad.

We need to remind people that, yes, the drug war has failed to accomplish any of its stated goals, but the drug war is not a failure.

It is the problem.

Pete Guither is the author of Drug WarRant, http:/ a weblog at the front lines of the drug war, where this piece was first presented.


"The entire American media apparatus bought into the drug war - which is an enormously damaging and costly undertaking for this country - and there wasn't enough critical reporting about it and that's why it's gotten out of hand." -David Talbot

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NOTICE:  ( Top )

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