This Just In
(1)Obama Administration to Stop Raids on Medical Marijuana
(2)Column: Border Guns, Drugs
(3)Column: Homeless Alcoholics Can't Just Quit
(4)Column: Addiction Is A Sickness, And So Is Criminalizing Your Child

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday outlined a shift in the enforcement of federal drug laws, saying the administration would effectively end the Bush administration's frequent raids on distributors of medical marijuana.

Speaking with reporters, Mr. Holder provided few specifics but said the Justice Department's enforcement policy would now be restricted to traffickers who falsely masqueraded as medical dispensaries and "use medical marijuana laws as a shield."

In the Bush administration, federal agents raided medical marijuana distributors that violated federal statutes even if the dispensaries appeared to be complying with state laws. The raids produced a flood of complaints, particularly in California, which in 1996 became the first state to legalize marijuana sales to people with doctors' prescriptions.

Graham Boyd, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union drug law project, said Mr. Holder's remarks created a reasonable balance between conflicting state and federal laws and "seem to finally end the policy war over medical marijuana." He said officials in California and the 12 other states that have authorized the use of medical marijuana had hesitated to adopt regulations to carry out their laws because of uncertainty created by the Bush administration.




Source: North County Times (Escondido, CA)
Copyright: 2009 North County Times
Author: George F. Will

turmoil. The chaos there is the result of the Mexican government's  ( Top )

mostly against each other, but also against the portions of Mexican law enforcement they have not corrupted. Operating in that nation's north, they are serving this nation's appetite for illegal narcotics and illegal immigrants.

The gun shop's proprietor is on trial here, accused of selling at least 650 weapons, including AK-47 rifles, in small lots to "straw

Mexicans last year. That was more than 2,000 above the 2007 toll and  ( Top )

continues. ( U.S. military fatalities in Iraq in six years number 4,249. ) Fortunately, most of the fatalities are members of the warring cartels.

The prosecution of the proprietor is part of the U.S. attempt to stop the southward flow of weapons and bulk currency while Mexico combats the northward flow of drugs, and of human beings brought by "coyotes." But although almost all the cartels' weapons come from the United States, the cartels are generating upward of $15 billion annually from drugs, human trafficking and extortion. So they will

and people.  ( Top )




Pubdate: Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Elizabeth Payne

Managing alcohol addiction, including free drinks, has worked wonders - -- and shows why we must treat addictions equally

Every day, in the shadow of Parliament Hill, 30 homeless alcoholics are fed, housed and served drinks, each hour on the hour, between early morning and evening.

That this "managed alcohol" program run by Ottawa's Inner City Health Inc. in the ByWard Market, is effective, is beyond dispute. For one thing, it has saved the local health-care system in the neighbourhood of $3.5 million by reducing or eliminating its clients' frequent visits to hospital emergency rooms. For another, it has dramatically improved the quality of life for a group of people many would view as beyond hope.

What is remarkable is not so much that the program works, but that it is able to run relatively free of major controversy or political interference. Substitute 30 crack addicts for the homeless alcoholics, and it would be a different story.

In a country where harm reduction is frequently a lightning rod for controversy -- whether the issue is free crack pipes or a safe injection site -- we have a successful harm-reduction program flourishing in the nation's capital. That's a good thing, perhaps a remarkable thing, but it's too bad we can't extend its creativity to another group also in need of harm reduction -- drug addicts.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Mar 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Mark Johnson

I get quite a few letters from the relatives of addicts, and they are all saying the same thing: how can I help my loved one to change?

As a crack and heroin addict who managed to stop using and then wrote about the experience, I get quite a few letters from the relatives of addicts, and they are all saying the same thing in different ways: how can I help my loved one to change? Like this one from Suzie:

"Hi, Mark. I don't know who 2 turn 2. I read ur book. It made me cry. My son is 19 and on heroin. He's got a drug counsellor at the mo and has tried 2 get off it. He did 4 sessions a week but went back on it. NO ONE SEEMS 2 WANT 2 HELP HIM. He is going on subutex soon and wants 2 get off it. He is such a lovely boy but has got no confidence. I got him on a course and he has been going but feels an outcast with his problems. He is crying out 4 help. I luv him so much but I am scared 4 him. No one seems 2 care. Please help me and Jason. Suzie."

Thanks for writing, Suzie. I've chosen to answer your letter in this column - with your permission and your identities hidden - to highlight the difference between your experience and that of another mother, a member of London's chattering and writing elite. Her son used skunk for a few months when he was a teenager. Sorry if I'm hazy on the facts. I refuse to read her book. I refuse to buy it. And I refuse to name it.

No doubt this spell of teenage drug use was very upsetting for her, but she has publicly defined her son as a drug addict, leaving him stigmatised and reacting to that stigma for the rest of his life.

She claims she did so to help others, but what possible use can her book be to Suzie and the thousands like her who are relatives of serious addicts? Her wails can only draw attention away from the real problem, which is the thousands of young people who are causing misery and harm to themselves, their loved ones and the victims of their crimes by serious long-term addiction.





A seemingly mundane story out of a little newspaper in California helps to explain why the drug war gets perpetuated despite its many demonstrated failings and counterproductive results. The story is a light profile on a federal lobbyist for the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department in California. The lobbyist describes her efforts to promote police interests - particularly in tough economic times. One of the lobbyist's issues to push on lawmakers: keep cannabis illegal. This is just one county lobbyist pushing the message - imagine the impact when it comes from other police lobbyists from other counties and states around the country.

Our other stories this week again focus on the U.S.-Mexico border - where the cartels are pulling out the really big guns, according to the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere, the Latin American drug war in general, and U.S. reactions to it, are questioned.


Pubdate: Sun, 15 Mar 2009
Source: Daily Press (Victorville, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Freedom Communications, Inc.
Author: Beatriz Valenzuela

For more than five years, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Lt. Barbara Ferguson has been helping the men and women of the department protect the public.

But instead of a gun and badge, Ferguson relies on her powers of persuasion as she maneuvers through the state Capitol and the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., serving as the Sheriff's Department's legislative liaison. The High Desert resident lobbies legislators to help pass or defeat bills that affect public safety and the Sheriff's Department.

"She is very important," Karen Hunt, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Victorville station, said. "She is in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento as a representative of our sheriff and for our concerns on all issues."

One of her top priorities is dealing with the current economic situation.


Ferguson is not only instrumental in lobbying for the passage of bills but also for the defeat of bills that will hinder the ability of law enforcement to keep communities safe.

"There is currently legislation that will attempt to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana, and we are opposed to that," she said, adding that marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead to other harder drugs. "We have a big fight on our hands with that."

Ferguson became a sergeant at the Victor Valley station until 1999, when she was transfered to Sheriff's Headquarters to be in charge of doing background checks. Ferguson was hand-picked by former Sheriff Gary Penrod for the position in 2003.




Pubdate: Sun, 15 Mar 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: Front
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Ken Ellingwood and Tracy Wilkinson

Mexico Under Siege

Narcotics traffickers are acquiring firepower more appropriate to an army -- including grenade launchers and antitank rockets -- and the police are feeling outgunned.

Reporting from Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and Mexico City -- It was a brazen assault, not just because it targeted the city's police station, but for the choice of weapon: grenades.

The Feb. 21 attack on police headquarters in coastal Zihuatanejo, which injured four people, fit a disturbing trend of Mexico's drug wars. Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.




Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Evo Morales Ayma
Note: Evo Morales Ayma is the president of Bolivia.

THIS week in Vienna, a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs took place that will help shape international antidrug efforts for the next 10 years. I attended the meeting to reaffirm Bolivia's commitment to this struggle but also to call for the reversal of a mistake made 48 years ago.

In 1961, the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs placed the coca leaf in the same category with cocaine - thus promoting the false notion that the coca leaf is a narcotic - and ordered that "coca leaf chewing must be abolished within 25 years from the coming into force of this convention." Bolivia signed the convention in 1976, during the brutal dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer, and the 25-year deadline expired in 2001.

So for the past eight years, the millions of us who maintain the traditional practice of chewing coca have been, according to the convention, criminals who violate international law. This is an unacceptable and absurd state of affairs for Bolivians and other Andean peoples.

Many plants have small quantities of various chemical compounds called alkaloids. One common alkaloid is caffeine, which is found in more than 50 varieties of plants, from coffee to cacao, and even in the flowers of orange and lemon trees. Excessive use of caffeine can cause nervousness, elevated pulse, insomnia and other unwanted effects.

Another common alkaloid is nicotine, found in the tobacco plant. Its consumption can lead to addiction, high blood pressure and cancer; smoking causes one in five deaths in the United States. Some alkaloids have important medicinal qualities. Quinine, for example, the first known treatment for malaria, was discovered by the Quechua Indians of Peru in the bark of the cinchona tree.

The coca leaf also has alkaloids; the one that concerns antidrug officials is the cocaine alkaloid, which amounts to less than one-tenth of a percent of the leaf. But as the above examples show, that a plant, leaf or flower contains a minimal amount of alkaloids does not make it a narcotic. To be made into a narcotic, alkaloids must typically be extracted, concentrated and in many cases processed chemically. What is absurd about the 1961 convention is that it considers the coca leaf in its natural, unaltered state to be a narcotic. The paste or the concentrate that is extracted from the coca leaf, commonly known as cocaine, is indeed a narcotic, but the plant itself is not.

Why is Bolivia so concerned with the coca leaf? Because it is an important symbol of the history and identity of the indigenous cultures of the Andes.




Pubdate: Sun, 15 Mar 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Joel Brinkley

President Obama says he is determined to cut the federal deficit in half, so I have an idea that will start saving millions of dollars right now: Shut down Plan Colombia. To date it has wasted about $6 billion.

Over the past few weeks, senior Colombian officials have been flooding Washington, lobbying everyone they can find to renew federal funding for this ridiculous enterprise. One of those officials, Vice President Francisco Santos, spoke to The Chronicle's editorial board. "So far," he said, "we have not heard of any changes to Plan Colombia." That's too bad.

The program began in 1999, under President Clinton, and it seemed to make sense at the time. The United States deployed a small air force in Colombia, 82 aircraft, and began spraying coca plants with a non-toxic herbicide, while also helping Colombia fight insurgents and shut down processing plants that use coca leaves to produce cocaine. Back then, Colombian traffickers had 463,322 acres of coca-plant cultivation. From that, they produced 90 percent of the world's cocaine.

After 10 years of eradication efforts, Columbia now has more than 575,750 acres of coca-plant cultivation - an almost 25 percent increase! The United Nations reports that cultivation increased by 27 percent over the past year, and Colombia still produces 90 percent of the world's cocaine. So what gives?

Over the years, Plan Colombia officials have released perfectly believable statistics showing that they have eradicated many hundreds of thousands of acres. But the simple truth is, as spray planes kill coca plants, the traffickers simply plant new bushes in different parts of the country. Plan Colombia just can't keep up.




Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Stephanie Simon

Some civic leaders along the Texas-Mexico border are beginning to speak out against a request by Texas Gov. Rick Perry for federal troops to protect American communities from the drug wars in Mexico.

The White House is reviewing Gov. Perry's request for 1,000 National Guard troops and six helicopters with infrared night vision. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week that the administration was committed to providing additional resources soon.

Many border officials welcome the promise of additional federal resources. But some are pushing back against a possible military deployment, saying federal troops would inflame tensions and spread fear. They say the border has been unfairly depicted as a scary, lawless place. "It's incendiary rhetoric," said Tony Payan, a political-science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. "The border gets a bad rap." El Paso, which sits directly across the Rio Grande from the violent Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, consistently ranks among the top three safest U.S. cities of its size, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics. "That side of the story is not getting out," Mayor John Cook said. Bob Cook, who runs the economic development corporation that covers El Paso and Juarez, says he hears plenty of concern about instability in Mexico. "It comes up in almost every business meeting I have, every dinner party I go to," he said. But he has lived in El Paso on and off for 20 years and says he has seen no deterioration in the quality of life -- except that Americans are less inclined to cross the border at night. Corporations continue to express interest in setting up factories on both sides of the Rio Grande, he said; four new plants are under construction in Juarez now. Stationing the military along the border, he said, "would be completely the wrong thing to do," because conditions don't warrant it. Both Mayor Cook and the sheriff of El Paso County, Richard Wiles, reject the call for immediate deployment of federal troops.

Instead, they are requesting federal help to search all vehicles heading south into Mexico, in hopes of cutting off the cash and weapons that sustain the drug cartels and their affiliated gangs.




Has the police state arrived? Bus passengers arriving on a recent route into Reading Pennsylvania might think so, as each passenger was welcomed to town by being searched. And a student at a Michigan university might also think so, after being shot in the chest despite being unarmed during a botched drug raid.

Elsewhere, at least one local DEA official admits that tying drug laws to immigration laws has very little impact on drug traffic; and it could be that Democratic leadership in the U.S. Congress is ready to change focus at the Mexican border by stepping up drug and gun laws while decreasing the focus on immigration laws.


Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 2009
Source: Reading Eagle-Times (PA)
Copyright: 2009 Reading Eagle Company
Author: Jason A. Kahl

People coming to Reading on buses from New York and Philadelphia on Friday were greeted by city and state police and a drug-detecting dog in a new effort to crack down on drugs entering the city.

It was the first time Reading police have searched everyone coming off buses at the Inter-City Bus Terminal at Third and Court streets, but officials said they plan to conduct similar searches at least once a month.

Police arrested one man who investigators said threw a bag of marijuana on the ground when officers approached him as he got off a bus from New York.

The man ran but was caught after a chase on Penn Street. He was awaiting arraignment late Friday. Police did not release his name.

Police also seized several hundred dollars worth of marijuana that was found in a backpack on the last bus from New York after all the passengers had gotten off.

Police also took the names of 10 to 15 people who they thought had left drugs on buses or were acting suspiciously, said Sgt. Felix Carr, who helped oversee the operation.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Mar 2009
Source: Holland Sentinel (MI)
Copyright: 2009 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Megan Schmidt

Student shot by Ottawa County deputy pleads 'Give peace a chance' to demonstrators

Allendale, MI - Two days after being shot in the chest by an Ottawa County deputy, Derek Copp's voice rang out on the Grand Valley State University campus, Friday, March 13.

Copp's friends and supporters used a bullhorn to project his voice via cell phone during a campus anti-shooting protest on Friday.

"I love you all, I appreciate everything you have done for me," said Copp, who remains in stable condition at Spectrum Hospital. "We have to give peace a chance."

Police said Thursday that a GVSU student, whom they would not name, was not armed when a deputy shot him in the chest at his off-campus apartment Wednesday night, March 11.

Five deputies entered the residence at Campus View Apartments through a sliding glass door on a search warrant for drugs, Lt. Cam Henke of the West Michigan Enforcement Team said.

WEMET is a drug investigation unit comprised of officers from several law enforcement agencies, including the Michigan State Police, Ottawa County Sheriff's Office and Holland Police Department.

Police provided no details on why the deputy -- a 12-year veteran of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office -- shot Copp. They did say the 20-year-old student did not threaten or confront police when they entered the residence.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Mar 2009
Source: Burlington Times-News (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Freedom Communications, Inc.
Author: Robert Boyer

Alamance County's 287( g ) program has "no effect" on local illicit drug trafficking, said Wally Serniak, the resident agent in charge of the Greensboro office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The program, named after a portion of a congressional act, allows local lawmen and detention officers to be trained and deputized as federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents.

Serniak made his conclusion Monday after Alamance County Commissioner Tim Sutton, an anti-illegal immigration advocate, asked Serniak "how bad" the illicit drug trade might be in Alamance County if Sheriff Terry Johnson had not taken on 287( g ), the illegal immigration enforcement partnership with the federal Department of Homeland Security. The program has been in place in Alamance County for two years.

"287 ( g ) has no effect on trafficking," Serniak replied. The drug trafficking organizations in the county are "like a family business," and stretch back several generations, the agent said. "In the short time that I've been here, we've seen the generational takeover of these drug traffickers. A lot of them have been naturalized, or they're born here, so they're not illegal. I don't believe that the 287( g ) affects that," Serniak said.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Wed, 18 Mar 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 (03-18) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- California lawmakers and the Obama administration have begun to shift U.S. border policy with Mexico, abruptly changing focus from illegal immigration to the flow of cash and weapons from the United States that is fueling a savage war between the Mexican government and powerful drug cartels.

"It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers, mayors, kidnap innocent people and do terrible things come from the United States," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at a hearing Tuesday. "I am appalled that you can buy a 50-caliber sniper weapon anywhere and it's not restricted to a federal firearms dealer - you can just buy it."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee panel on immigration and border security, faulted the Bush administration for focusing on northbound immigrants and neglecting southbound arms and drug cash that some analysts contend are destabilizing the Mexican government.

"It was a priority policy decision that tens of thousands of agents would go arrest dishwashers and busboys, meanwhile letting the machine guns get smuggled into Mexico, which has contributed to a very serious problem in Mexico that should concern all Americans," Lofgren said in an interview.

"Nobody is for people not adhering to the rules, but if I had to say what's more threatening to me, some guy busing my table or some guy shipping machine guns down to the drug cartels, I'd say it's the latter."




Last week the Obama administration elaborated on their pledge to stop DEA raids on cannabis dispensaries, saying they will only tolerate providers who comply with state regulations. The fate of compliant clubs and proprietors arrested before the shift in policy remains unknown.

Lacking any direction, the police in Canada are also attempting to discriminate between responsible and irresponsible compassion clubs.

Journalists and columnists are increasingly recognizing the folly of abdicating cannabis to the black market, particularly to the extent that prohibition enriches traffickers who settle their disputes with violence and intimidation.

The British cannapanic over high potency cannabis continues, and may be convincing some anxious parents that today's "skunk" is not the mild weed they "experimented" with in their youth.


Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2009 New Haven Register
Author: Clarence Page

When Charles Lynch asked local officials for permission to sell an herbal medicine in the central California town of Morro Bay, they granted it to him, even though the medicine was marijuana.

Marijuana recommended by a doctor has been legal in California since 1996. A dozen other states have passed similar laws. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and New Hampshire are among about 10 states that have been debating similar measures.

Lynch applied for a business license, joined the Chamber of Commerce, talked to lawyers and even called the federal Drug Enforcement Administration before opening his medical marijuana dispensary with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Unfortunately for Lynch, none of this prevented him from being arrested in March 2007 when federal authorities raided his home and small business. That's because the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Gonzalez v. Raich in 2005 that in the issue of medical marijuana, federal law trumps the states.

"Today's decision," crowed President George W. Bush's drug czar at the time, John Walters, "marks the end of medical marijuana as a political issue."

Not quite. President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, has announced that the Justice Department will stop raiding marijuana dispensaries in California and other states that allow medical marijuana.

But, that doesn't help Lynch, whose sentencing is scheduled for March 23. Lynch, who tried to conduct his business as openly and legally as possible under the laws enacted by Californians, is one of the more poignant examples of nonviolent offenders arrested and jailed by federal raiders.




Pubdate: Wed, 18 Mar 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Ian Bailey

North Vancouver RCMP charge 13 after ring allegedly supplied recreational users, not those with medical marijuana needs

VANCOUVER -- The RCMP say they have busted a pot-delivery operation that was masquerading as a compassion club that provided marijuana for medical needs.

Mounties in North Vancouver yesterday announced 13 people had been charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, following an investigation that began in September, 2007, after police received an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers. The arrests put an end to the operation of the so-called Internet Compassion Association, police said.

"People would call them up and make their order. [The organization] would make the delivery," RCMP Corporal Marlene Morton said.

Cpl. Morton said the customers were not people with medical marijuana needs, but rather recreational drug users looking for a convenient source of product.

It's an unusual case, she said. "We have busted other dial-a-dope rings, but this is the first time I have seen one that has been passing themselves off as a compassion association," she added.


The B.C. Compassion Club Society said the group had caused some concern.

"It was definitely creating some confusion, and we were receiving calls from people looking for them and not aware we have much more stringent requirements for becoming a member," said Jay Leung, a spokesman for the non-profit organization that has been providing medicinal cannabis since 1997.


"There's still this controversy, so the compassion clubs worked long and hard over the past decade to establish good practices and standards and establish our credibility," he said. "So it's problematic when people don't have those motivations, aren't following those guidelines but are just using the name in the hopes of protecting what they are doing."



Pubdate: Sun, 15 Mar 2009
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2009 The Arizona Republic
Author: Linda Valdez

Imagine you had a really smart bomb - a genius bomb - that could blow up the leaders of every drug cartel in Mexico.

By the time the smoke cleared, a new pusher would be sitting in every cartel's big chair and the distribution networks would continue satisfying the demand of every junkie and recreational-drug user in America.

Mexico's drug cartels would continue to be, in the words of the Justice Department's National Drug Threat Assessment for 2009, "the greatest drug-trafficking threat to the United States."

Now, imagine a different weapon.

Consider the impact of eliminating the most profitable product the cartels sell.

All we have to do is legalize marijuana.


Some argue that if you legalize marijuana there would still be a black market. They say that because the product is so cheap to produce, the black market could underprice legal pot and sell to kids. But consider what we know about alcohol.




Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Helen Rumbelow, and Chloe Lambert

As The Row Over Skunk Use By British Teenagers Grows, We Trace The History Of Super-Potent Cannabis

There was a furore last week when the novelist Julie Myerson wrote about evicting her teenage son for his "skunk addiction". She justified it by saying that Britain needed to wake up to the "emergency out there called skunk".

Myerson's outburst may have seemed slightly hysterical to anyone whose rite of passage included smoking a joint at some hazy point in the past, yet everything about skunk is more powerful than what came before. Its strength and its pervasiveness were cited by the Government as its reasons for raising cannabis back to a Class B drug in January.

Skunk has created a new domestic drugs industry, making millions for illegal farmers - mainly Vietnamese immigrants - on Britain's industrial estates, and it has done so in an astonishingly short time. Police seizures show that it accounted for barely 10 per cent of the cannabis sold here in the late 1990s; last year it was 80 per cent

What struck me, talking to teenagers in the course of writing this piece, was the sheer rapidity of this transformation. I'm in my thirties, yet what young people now regard as "normal" cannabis was unheard of in this country a decade ago. "Skunk is horribly strong - you can practically feel your brain cells knocking off," says Ben, a 19-year-old student. "But it wasn't that we asked for it. Growing up in rural Herefordshire, it was all we could get."

Say the word "skunk" to teenagers and they may nod their heads, while politicians will shake their heads. Only a few brave ones will then whisper: "What exactly is skunk?" One public health study tried to ask teenagers about their skunk use but concluded that "it was unclear what people surveyed understood the term skunk to mean ... it is a confusing picture".

To see that picture clearly through the fug, it is necessary to rewind the clock several decades.


It is not yet entirely clear what effect high does of TCH [sic] without the restraining effect of CBD will have on a generation of British teenagers. If this is the last unknown, it is the most worrying one.

What would you do if you found your child was smoking skunk?




In Mexico, three years and thousands of lives later, some political chickens are coming home to roost for President Calderon's conservative National Action Party. As violent turf battles continue, "many voters appear to be warming up to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years until Calderon's party wrested away the presidency in 2000." Other parties have different ideas to stem the violence. The "Green Party has filed a bill to reinstate the death penalty," while the Social Democratic Party "filed a bill legalizing drugs."

In Nigeria, Ogun State Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel held forth with the observation that Nigeria burns so great a volume of seized drugs as to create an "environmental hazard" which "had weakened the fight against climatic change." Unlike other countries, Nigerian "strategy is to cut off the source of illicit drug supplies thereby denying drug addicts access to drug," explained Otunba.

Meanwhile the western African nation of Senegal is seeing an unexpected economic boom as a bustling new cocaine trans-shipment point en route to Europe. The U.K. Guardian newspaper identified Senegal's drug problem as one of "unmonitored coasts, poorly paid officials, porous borders and booming informal markets". Answer? Government monitored coasts, more money for government officials, government monitored borders, and government regulation of markets: in short, more government. Could this be why government loves prohibition so?

And finally this week, police in Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside are changing tact. New plan: seize the drugs, send the person on their way, sans arrest. "Technically, yes, you could arrest and you could tie up two officers for four hours writing a report like that," explained Constable Jana McGuinness. "That's where the discretion will be employed." Less paperwork translates into more time for police to be "on the street."


Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2009 The Arizona Republic
Author: Chris Hawley

Voters Growing Tired Of Violence


Back then, promises by Calderon's National Action Party, known as the PAN, to crack down on drug cartels sounded like a good idea, Arroyo said. But now, as Mexico staggers under a wave of drug-related violence and with congressional elections looming, he and other Mexicans are having their doubts.


Across Mexico, voters and political experts say Calderon's two-year-old offensive against drug traffickers is beginning to have political repercussions as Mexicans tire of the violence.

Calderon's party is in danger of losing control of the lower house of Congress to the old-guard Institutional Revolutionary Party as Mexicans get nostalgic for quieter times, said Hector Zamitiz, a political-science professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Other parties are loudly demanding a change in anti-crime strategy, with proposals ranging from reinstating the death penalty to legalizing drugs.


Some 50,000 troops - more than the United States has in Afghanistan - are now patrolling Mexican border cities and combing the deserts for drug smugglers. The United States has pledged $1.4 billion in aid for the effort.

The offensive has splintered the cartels, created power vacuums and ignited infighting, the Mexican attorney general's office says. Kidnappings, torture cases and beheadings have soared. More than 6,000 people have been killed, including dozens of police and soldiers.

Polls show Calderon himself still enjoys an approval rating of around 60 percent. But many voters appear to be warming up to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years until Calderon's party wrested away the presidency in 2000.


Smaller parties put forth even more radical proposals. The Green Party has filed a bill to reinstate the death penalty, which has not been used since the 1950s. That would be a dramatic reversal in this Roman Catholic country.


The Social Democratic Party, meanwhile, has filed a bill legalizing drugs. Mexicans could grow marijuana and mushrooms for their own use but couldn't sell the drugs. The government would produce cocaine and heroin and administer it to addicts at centers supervised by doctors.




Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 2009
Source: Punch (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2009 The Punch
Author: Ademola Oni


The State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who spoke at the burning of 3,015 kilogrammes of cannabis, cocaine and heroine in Abeokuta on Friday, said the burning of exhibits in open air constituted environmental hazard.

Represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Olukoya Adeleke-Adedoyin, the governor expressed worry that the burning of the exhibits had weakened the fight against climatic change.


"Our strategy is to cut off the source of illicit drug supplies thereby denying drug addicts access to drug. We will also embark on anti-drug enlightenment activities to educate people on the dangers of drug cultivation, trafficking and abuse."




Pubdate: Tuesday 10 March 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Christopher Thompson

Part Two: How Porous Borders And Poverty Make Fertile Terrain For Drug Traffickers


European donors and local politicians alike worry that Senegal, an oasis of political stability in one of the world's most politically turbulent regions, is gradually succumbing to cocaine's lure.


But Senegal is just one piece in the jigsaw of west African countries that have become a cocaine smugglers' paradise. Unmonitored coasts, poorly paid officials, porous borders and booming informal markets: to freewheeling drugs cartels it's an ideal market entry point.


The UN estimates around 50 tonnes a year, worth almost $2bn (UKP 1.5bn) at western European wholesale prices, passes through west Africa. In some cases the value of the trafficked drugs is greater than the country's national income.

Some cocaine leaves Colombia aboard planes small enough to fly at altitudes of around 2,000m, making them undetectable by radar. The planes land, often at night, in towns such as Boke in Guinea-Conakry, from where the convoy is transported under escort to the city for storage. Last month the son of former president Lansana Conte confessed to being involved in drug trafficking on television.


Some locals are phlegmatic about the problem. One Dakar-based journalist questioned why Africans should care what Europeans - and increasingly, Arabs in the Gulf - choose to put up their noses.



Pubdate: Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Catherine Rolfsen

Plan Calls For Seizing Narcotics, But Not Prosecuting Low-Level Offenders In Downtown Eastside

The Vancouver Police Department is shifting its focus in the Downtown Eastside away from arresting and charging people for simple drug possession in a bid to keep cops on the street by avoiding hours of paperwork.

The directive, in the VPD's 2009 business plan presented to the police board Wednesday, is part of a push to reduce street disorder in the troubled neighbourhood by increasing police presence.

Although police have always had discretion as to whether to charge low-level drug offenders, according to the business plan the priority will now be on seizing drugs rather than prosecution.

"We'll come across people all day long who have maybe a few rocks of cocaine in their pocket, or maybe a bit of methamphetamine, [for] personal use," said Const. Jana McGuinness. "Technically, yes, you could arrest and you could tie up two officers for four hours writing a report like that.

"That's where the discretion will be employed. Where they can, say, seize the drugs, get the drugs off the street and then go about their business of being out there stopping other crimes."

Less paperwork will mean more officers on the street to tackle street disorder, McGuinness said.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


See protest after police shoot student during drug raid.


We're All Out -- Of Money, And Time

By Tamar Todd

People are serving 25 years to life in California for drug possession, for stealing a pizza, and in one especially sad case, chocolate chip cookies.



Guns from the U.S. Are Destabilizing the Country

By Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet. Posted March 18, 2009.

Mexican drug cartels have easy access to thousands of American gun dealers just on the other side of the border.


Century of Lies - 03/15/09 - Russ Jones

Russ Jones, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition with more than 30 years experience as a cop and DEA agent + Terry Nelson of LEAP reports on the UN conference in Vienna

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/18/09 - Amanda Fielding

Lady Neidpath, Amanda Fielding, director of the Beckley Foundation on drug research in the UK is interviewed at the UN drug conference in Vienna by Michael Krawitz


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

President Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of `change.' Two months into his Presidency, it is clear that this `change' pertains to the way Washington governs U.S. marijuana policy.


Policy Forum, Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Featuring Donald Abrams, M.D., Director of Clinical Programs, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California; Robert DuPont, M.D., President, Institute for Behavior and Health; Rob Kampia, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project; Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute


The latest issue of the Razor Wire, Vol. 12, No. 1, is now online at:

You may also download a printable, PDF version of the Razor Wire at:


By HCLU on Mar 15 09

The United Nations held its High Level Meeting on drugs on March 11-12, 2009 in Vienna. HCLU and its allies, SSDP, INPUD, ENCOD and Youth R.I.S.E. organized a demonstration against the global war on drugs on March 11, at the entrance of the Vienna International Center, to call for a drug policy based on human rights and harm reduction.

Witness the event here:


Interviews on Vienna Public Radio:

Featuring Fredrick Polak, Terry Nelson, Beatriz Negrety, Adriana Rodiguez Salazar, Lennice Werth, Chris Conrad, Mikki Norris.


Side Effects And Contra Indications Of Global Prohibition

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs completes its marathon session on evaluating the `success' of the drug control system tomorrow, and the `coalition of the willing (and not so willing)' march out of the building, not quite in lock step, but maintaining de facto support for the global war on drugs. It is timely to examine whether these `unintended' consequences, can still be seen as 'unanticipated'.



Kellogg's announced that it would not renew its contract with Michael Phelps because the swimming champion is no longer "consistent with the image of Kellogg's." It has hurt the Kellogg's public image more than the peanut recall, and millions of Americans (those who smoke marijuana and plenty who don't) chose not to buy Kellogg's products because this decision smacks of intolerance. The company continues to ignore repeated requests for meetings from representatives of the drug policy reform movement. Tell them to meet with us today!


Offended? Insulted? Just plain pissed off? Then why not give him a piece of your mind?

After all, he certainly doesn't mind imposing his own views upon you.



By Robert Gonzalez

On Feb. 23, California Assemblyman Ammiano introduced a bill in Sacramento to legalize and tax cannabis.

This is terrible legislation, as it would force hard-working Mexican drug cartels out of business. Instead, legalization would cause this money to go to the state, depriving entrepreneurs of their income.

Prohibition keeps prices high, and those profits are necessary to buy the guns and personnel needed to maintain market control. Furthermore, taxation of cannabis places an undue burden on dealers, who have historically operated with no regulation or taxation. How will marijuana remain more accessible to children than alcohol if the only place you can buy it is from authorized licensed sellers?

With the economy in dark times, the black market stands as a beacon of light, drawing the young and talented to its ranks. Legalization would not only deprive the black market of a labor pool, but the prison industry would lose untold millions due to plummeting incarceration and recidivism rates. Police resources would be forced to be spent on actual crimes instead of pursuing Michael Phelps.

For the sake of the drug cartels, kingpins, gangsters, dealers, and prisons all across America, we mustn't allow this legalization idea to come to Nevada!

Robert Gonzalez Carson City

Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2009
Source: Reno Gazette-Journal (NV)


Jake Myerson: Parents 'Tough Love' Approach To Cannabis Was Wrong  ( Top )

By Jon Land

Jake Myerson, whose novelist mother detailed the family's struggle to deal with his cannabis smoking, today urged parents not to take a tough love approach to their children's drug use.

Julie Myerson's book, The Lost Child, sparked controversy for laying bare her teenage son's life in the public eye.

At the heart of the debate was her decision to throw her then 17-year-old son out of the house in a bid to stop him from smoking cannabis.

In his first television interview, for ITV1's Tonight programme, Jake detailed the impact of that decision on his life.

He admitted to smoking marijuana but insisted he has never been addicted to the drug.

The 20-year-old said his drug use became a "scapegoat" when he did not follow the path his family wanted.

He said: "My parents had always wanted me to go to Oxford.

"I was a very academic child and I think you know I chose at a certain age that I wanted to not do that, that I wanted to go and make art and be a musician.

"And they assumed that I'd made that decision because of the drugs rather than the other way round, which of course is the way it was.

"The drugs became a scapegoat for that, but no, the fights were about the fact that I no longer wanted to be a lawyer."

Jake said that the decision to kick him out of the family home was the wrong way to handle the situation.

He said he barely slept after the first month and continued: "You're trying to sort out where you're going to stay, the next place, but then of course, once you're there, you know, it also makes you fall back on drugs a lot more because it's a crutch, it's easy, you know you're going to be stoned - it's something that's constant."

He added: "I was living with crackheads at one point. I could have so easily slipped into that and then gone and nicked a TV and got some more. The streets would have been a bad place for any budding drug addict."

He called for parents to be more realistic about how they handle the existence of drugs with their children.

He told the show: "One thing I have noticed is the only kids I've ever known who've had no trouble with drugs - who've never even started slipping into any kind of habits, the ones who have complete control, do it when they want, don't do it when they don't want - are the ones whose parents have been completely frank with them from the beginning.

"They've sat them down when they're 13 and said 'look cannabis is fun, bad for your motivation; I wouldn't do it too often but if you want to do it, do it'.

"Those kids never have trouble."

Jake believes that honesty is the best policy, otherwise teenage rebellion can take hold.

He said: "You're 15, you've just discovered that there's this thing you can smoke that changes how you think and feel, and then you're fighting your parents and they say this is wrong. Well it's only going to get caught up more, the two become closely interwoven."

But his writer mother said in an emotional interview with the programme that after two years of trying to negotiate boundaries, kicking him out was the only alternative.

Breaking down with emotion, she said: "Sorry, it was the hardest thing I've done. I mean what I'm trying to say is I didn't say that lightly."

She added: "I think you know the best thing that could happen is this book does, in a rather much more gruesome and public way than I intended, push him to face his problem and admit he has a problem.

"I mean I should make that clear actually, he has always been welcome back at home without drugs, if he accepts some help. I think anyone who does tough love would say the same."

Her husband Jonathan added: "We have been vilified for how we treated our son, by people who do not understand what happens in a household.

"A bomb explodes - cannabis and the young male mind is an explosive combination ... when that happens a bomb goes off and you to have to protect yourself.

"And you also have to take the right steps and if you have not had that bomb explode in your house, you will not understand, and you will look at us and say 'aren't they the worst parents in Britain', and I'm sure people are thinking that now.

"They have no idea what it's like and also the strength it takes to do what we did."

Programme makers said that Jake lives in a shared flat with friends in London. He is studying at music college.

Jon Land is the Editor of where this piece first appeared -


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