This Just In
(1)Obama Makes History in Live Internet Video Chat
(2)Albany Reaches Deal to Repeal '70s-Era Drug Laws
(3)Bill C-15 Could Fill Prisons
(4)Treat Addiction As A Disease, MDs Tell Victoria

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 27 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Sheryl Gay Stolberg

WASHINGTON -- The White House said more than 64,000 people watched President Obama answer questions on Thursday in the first live Internet video chat by an American president. But in declaring itself "Open for Questions," on the economy, the White House learned it must be careful what it wishes for.

More than 100,000 questions were submitted, with the idea that Mr. Obama would answer those that were most popular. But after 3.6 million votes were cast, one of the top questions turned out to be a query on whether legalizing marijuana might stimulate the economy by allowing the government to regulate and tax the drug.

"I don't know what this says about the online audience," Mr. Obama said, drawing a laugh from an audience gathered in the East Room, which included teachers, nurses and small-business people. "The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow the economy."

The marijuana question later took up a good chunk of the daily White House press briefing, where Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, suggested that advocates for legalizing marijuana had mounted a drive to rack up votes for the question.

Those advocates included NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which urged supporters to "let the president know that millions of American voters believe that the time has come to tax and regulate marijuana."

But however the marijuana query rose to the top of the White House list, it provided one of the livelier moments in the mostly staid 70-minute event.




Pubdate: Thu, 26 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Jeremy W. Peters

ALBANY - Gov. David A. Paterson and New York legislative leaders have reached an agreement to dismantle much of what remains of the state's strict 1970s-era drug laws, once among the toughest in the nation.

The deal would repeal many of the mandatory minimum prison sentences now in place for lower-level drug felons, giving judges the authority to send first-time nonviolent offenders to treatment instead of prison.

The plan would also expand drug treatment programs and widen the reach of drug courts at a cost of at least $50 million.

New York's drug sentencing laws, imposed during a heroin epidemic that was devastating urban areas nearly four decades ago, helped spur a nationwide trend toward mandatory sentences in drug crimes. But as many other states moved to roll back the mandatory minimum sentences in recent years, New York kept its laws on the books, leaving prosecutors with the sole discretion of whether offenders could be sent to treatment.




Pubdate: Thu, 26 Mar 2009
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Georgia Straight
Author: Carlito Pablo

On March 2, the Pew Center on the States, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, released a report on the staggering growth of the American correctional system.

Entitled One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections, the report noted that "sentencing and release laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s put so many more people behind bars that last year the incarcerated population reached 2.3 million and, for the first time, one in 100 adults was in prison or jail."

It also cited the tremendous increase in the number of people on probation or parole, such that "combined with those in prison and jail, a stunning 1 in every 31 adults, or 3.2 percent, is under some form of correctional control."

Why is this relevant to Canada?

"We only need to go south of the border and see a nation that enacted mandatory minimums related to drug offences from the mid-1980s on," criminologist Susan Boyd told the Georgia Straight. "It didn't reduce violence and drug use. So here we are saying, 'We're going to do this.' "

Boyd-an associate professor at UVic and research fellow at the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C.-was referring to the reintroduction in Parliament by the Conservative government of a bill that proposes mandatory minimum jail sentences for drug offenders.

If passed into law, Bill C-15 would, among its other provisions, throw people caught with one marijuana plant into the slammer for a minimum of six months. If growing a single plant is done on a property that belongs to another person or in an area where it may present a hazard to children, minimum jail time is nine months.




Pubdate: Thu, 26 Mar 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Kelly Sinoski

Health Care System Should Cover Alcoholics, Chronic Gamblers And Other Addicts, BCMA Says

B.C. doctors are calling for the provincial government to formally recognize addiction as a chronic disease -- and provide public funding to deal with it.

The call comes in a report being released today by the B.C. Medical Association that says more than 400,000 British Columbians suffer from some form of addiction.

These people are struggling to get help when they need it, the report says, because of a lack of resources or the high cost of treatment. This in turn puts strains on emergency departments, workplaces and families.

"For many years, addiction was seen as a personal failure rather than an illness," said Dr. Shao-Hua Lu, an addictions psychiatrist. "One tends to focus on the terrible losses in the Downtown Eastside, but in terms of overall cost, alcohol, gambling and tobacco probably costs society much more."

The BCMA says alcohol, gambling and drug addictions, which are often linked to some form of mental illness, are akin to heart disease and diabetes and the province should treat them the same way. While treating a gambling addict the same as a cancer patient would add new costs to the system, the BCMA argues it would ultimately save money by preventing the costly results of untreated addictions.





The Obama administration is ready to send more manpower to the Mexican border. Will the effort have any more effect than DEA surveillance planes? Hard to tell, but the DEA surveillance planes fit the profile of a classic government boondoogle: overpriced, secretly and questionably funded, and a complete failure (with bonus points since the last point had already been determined by another government agency).

Drug policy reform is coming piecemeal around the country as a way to cope with other crises. In Ohio, prosecutors are hoping to phase out mandatory minimums for some drug offenders to save money; while the city of Cleveland has liberalized itself to the point of not considering possession of drug residue in pipes as a felony. And, in Connecticut, some legislators like what the people have done in Massachusetts.


Pubdate: Sun, 22 Mar 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Spencer S. Hsu, and Mary Beth Sheridan

Obama Plans to Send Agents, Equipment To Aid Mexican Fight

President Obama is finalizing plans to move federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border with Mexico to support Mexican President Felipe Calderon's campaign against violent drug cartels, according to U.S. security officials.

In Obama's first major domestic security initiative, administration officials are expected to announce as early as this week a crackdown on the supply of weapons and cash moving from the United States into Mexico that helps sustain that country's narco-traffickers, officials said.

The announcement sets the stage for Mexico City visits by three Cabinet members, beginning Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and followed next week by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano, designated by Obama to convene a multi-agency security plan for the border, said the government is preparing plans to send more agents and intensify its investigation and prosecution of cartel-related activity in the United States. In addition, she said, the government may expand efforts to trace the sources of guns that move from the United States into Mexico.

To combat the southbound flow of guns, ammunition and grenades at border checkpoints, the government may deploy new equipment, such as scales to weigh vehicles and automated license-plate readers linked to databases, as well as other surveillance technology, she said.




Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus,GA)
Copyright: 2009 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Marisa Taylor

Why Secretly Funded DEA Surveillance Planes Aren't Flying

WASHINGTON -- The first sign of trouble with the Drug Enforcement Administration's new surveillance planes surfaced almost immediately. On the way from the manufacturer to the agency's aviation headquarters, one of them veered off a runway during a fuel stop.

The malfunction last spring was only the beginning. A month later, the windshield unlatched in mid-flight and smashed into the engine. Then, in a third incident on the same plane, a connection between the propeller and the engine came loose and forced an emergency landing.

In January, after less than 10 months of operation, the cascade of mechanical problems forced the DEA to ground the planes.

The planes recently were scheduled to be "cannibalized" so the DEA could sell the parts and recover as much of its money as possible.

The story behind why the DEA sought out the three planes, only to become the second federal agency to give them up, illustrates the pitfalls of "black," or classified, budgeting in which Congress approves tens of billions of dollars for intelligence agencies outside the public's view.

The twin-engine planes, manufactured by Schweizer Aircraft, likely came out of an even more shadowy funding provision known as "black earmarks," according to government officials with knowledge of the contract. The officials asked to remain anonymous because the planes, known as "Shadowhawks," received funding secretly.

Lawmakers often earmark projects to score sought-after contracts for companies back home.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2009
Source: Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Plain Dealer
Author: Mark Puente

Trace Amounts Now Bring Misdemeanors

People busted with drug residue in pipes and syringes in Cleveland are no longer automatically charged as felons, bringing the city's policies in line with other urban areas throughout the state.

Until two weeks ago, drug abusers faced felony possession charges if caught with trace amounts of drugs in a crack pipe or heroin syringe. They now face misdemeanor charges, which allows them to seek treatment through the Greater Cleveland Drug Court.

City officials announced the policy change in November, but it took about four months to implement it because the courts and prosecutor's office had to prepare for the change.

The goal of switching from felonies to misdemeanors is to get addicts treatment without saddling them with a felony that could hamper them in turning their lives around, Mayor Frank Jackson said.

With treatment, the offenders are more likely to kick the habit and less likely to commit more crimes, Jackson said.

"It will greatly reduce the number of crimes committed," the mayor said.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2009
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio's county prosecutors are recommending major changes to state drug laws, including the elimination of mandatory prison sentences for trafficking and possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, except in the most serious cases.

The prosecutors also want to reduce several other non-drug crimes to misdemeanors from felonies, including assaulting a school teacher, administrator or school bus operator without physical harm; injuring a police dog or horse; illegal use of food stamps; and unauthorized use of a cable television or telecommunication device.

If approved, the changes would ratchet back some "tough-on-crime" laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s.

John E. Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said the changes are intended to counter the Strickland administration's proposal to ease prison overcrowding by allowing inmates to accumulate seven days of "earned credit" per month by participating in programming. The credit would allow them to reduce their sentences -- even if they're serving definite or "flat" sentences -- so they can be released earlier.

"We do support a lot of mandatory penalties that deal with violence. But for crimes like drug trafficking, we have some reservation about whether there should be a mandatory prison sentence. It's still a crime. It still has a presumption for prison.

"It would still be up to the judge. In many cases, the judges would still send them to prison," Murphy said.


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Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT)
Copyright: 2009sMediaNews Group, Inc
Author: Ken Dixon

HARTFORD -- The legislative push began Tuesday for a Massachusetts-style law to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, making it punishable by a small fine and removing the lifetime stigma of a misdemeanor arrest.

Led by Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, the bill would save the state an estimated $11 million a year in police, court and incarceration costs and produce about $320,000 in revenue from fines.

More than a dozen people, including college students and drug-policy advocates, from throughout the state testified in favor of the legislation during an afternoon-long hearing before the powerful Judiciary Committee.

If approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. M. Jodi Rell -- who last year vetoed legislation to allow medical uses of marijuana -- Connecticut would join a dozen other states with reduced penalties for marijuana kept for personal use.

But Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said that there are as many as five programs that divert small-time users from state prisons and that current law essentially decriminalizes small-time possession.




More corruption, waste, overkill and tragedy in the war on drugs.


Pubdate: Fri, 20 Mar 2009
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Winnipeg Free Press
Authors: Mike McIntyre, and Gabrielle Giroday

Case Stayed After Two Accused Of Fabricating Evidence In Drug Case

At first glance, it must have looked like an open-and-shut case -- a Winnipeg man apparently caught red-handed with a stash of cocaine and cash.

But now it is the arresting officers, not the suspected drug dealer, who are before the courts facing serious criminal allegations.

The Crown attorney stayed charges of trafficking and proceeds of crime against the 20-year-old accused based on information that surfaced at his preliminary hearing last fall, according to court documents. That surprise development triggered an internal Winnipeg police investigation that ended this week with the arrests of the two officers who arrested the young man in May 2008 following a search of an inner-city home.

Const. Graeme Beattie, 29, and Const. Paul Clark, 40, now face an internal hearing, which will determine their employment status while charges of fabricating evidence, obstructing justice and public mischief remain before the courts. Both officers were released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

The case against the inner-city resident appeared to be going smoothly when it came up in court on Oct. 31 for a preliminary hearing. Federal Crown attorney Erin Magas told provincial court Judge Mary Curtis she expected defence lawyer Bruce Bonney to consent to having the case committed to trial.

However, she said, Bonney had a few "charter issues" to raise with the two arresting officers and would question them on the witness stand. The lawyers requested a short recess for a private discussion-- only to have Magas return saying the case won't be proceeding.




Pubdate: Fri, 20 Mar 2009
Source: Guilfordian, The (Guilford College, NC Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Guilfordian.
Author: Jasmine Ashton

The federal government can no longer afford to incarcerate the 2.3 million in jails and prisons across the nation - another symptom of the current financial crisis. As a result, states are beginning to consider criminal justice and policy changes in order to save funds and alleviate overcrowding.

New policy recommendations are designed to reduce prison and jail populations through sentencing changes, recidivism reduction programs, and early release modifications.

"In order to solve a problem you must work to prevent it from the root," said junior Jossie Dowling, the project coordinator for the Guilford Correctional Center ( McLeansville ) reading and discussion group. "I believe that there are several different roots to the overcrowding issue: globalization, the War on Drugs, and the three strikes policy."

The War on Drugs is a prohibition campaign undertaken by the U.S. government with the assistance of participating countries. It is intended to reduce the illegal drug trade - to curb supply and diminish the demand for drugs deemed immoral, harmful, dangerous, or undesirable.

According to Dowling, the three strikes policy, which often goes along with the War on Drugs, has unjustly put many minor offenders behind bars.

"It is essentially the idea that after committing three crimes it is mandatory that you serve time in prison," said Dowling. "So many different things count as felonies that people can really get screwed if they commit three minor crimes




Pubdate: Sat, 21 Mar 2009
Source: Grand Rapids Press (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Grand Rapids Press

It's been 11 days since an unarmed Grand Valley State University student was shot by police during a drug raid at his off-campus apartment. The public knows little more now about the circumstances surrounding the shooting than when it occurred. Law enforcement officials need to move with more dispatch in making the facts of this case known. The longer authorities remain silent, the more time for rumors, speculation and even anger to grow.

We entrust officers, State Police troopers, sheriff's deputies and others with considerable power, including the right to use deadly force when circumstances warrant. That extraordinary authority needs to be balanced by a heavy dose of accountability and public disclosure. But details from the authorities have been in short supply regarding this case.

We know Derek Copp, a 20-year-old GVSU student, was shot in the chest by police March 11 during the execution of a drug-related search warrant. We know he was unarmed. We know the 12-year Ottawa County sheriff's deputy who fired his weapon is on paid administrative leave.

We know. . .well, that's about all we know.




Pubdate: Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Source: Pacific Northwest Inlander, The (US WA)
Copyright: Inland Publications, Inc. 2009
Author: Kevin Taylor

A Young Canadian Mountain Biker, Facing U.S. Drug Charges, Takes His Own Life In Spokane's Jail

Any suicide leaves behind painful, unanswered questions, but the hanging death three weeks ago of Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown leaves more than most.

In addition to the searing questions for family and friends over why he ended his life, no information has yet been released about Lindsay-Brown's involvement in the murky world of cross-border drug smuggling and why undercover agents busted him when they did. His passing has become big news across western Canada, where he is seen as a casualty in the U.S. government's war on drugs.

The 24-year-old Canadian was arrested Feb. 23 on federal drug trafficking charges after flying a helicopter bearing 350 pounds of marijuana over the border in crappy weather at night. Lindsay-Brown landed in a clearing in the Colville National Forest to rendezvous with men who turned out to be undercover agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

He was booked into the Spokane County Jail Feb. 24 and, using ingenuity and a bed sheet, hanged himself in his cell three days later.

His loss is keenly felt in the tight-knit world of mountain bikers, where a tribute site soon appeared on the Web and continues to draw postings that mourn Lindsay-Brown's death as well as videos of his daredevil riding feats and stories of his charisma and skill.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2009
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Detroit Free Press
Authors: Joe Swickard, and Ben Schmitt

Case Turns Law Enforcement Upside Down

Even in metro Detroit, an area long familiar with staggering levels of dope trafficking, Inkster cops earned high-fives all around when they grabbed 47 kilos of cocaine back in 2005.

But now that seizure from a Texas narcotics pipeline -- one of the largest local narcotics busts this area has seen -- has turned the regular law enforcement roles upside down, with the state now expecting to seek felony charges against the cops and the trial prosecutor. The trial judge also may be named in a criminal warrant request brought after a nine-month investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

The original drug cases against Alexander Aceval and Ricardo Pena were ruined, authorities contend, by the cops' false testimony that a key witness had no prior contact with Inkster police. The man, who also testified falsely, was actually a paid police informant, a fact shielded from jurors and defense lawyers.

Aceval and Pena pleaded guilty to drug charges after the lies were exposed.

Lawyers involved in or familiar with the state's perjury investigation said Monday that former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Karen Plants and Inkster Sgt. Scott Rechtzigel and Officer Robert McArthur said they've been told the state is seeking charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy against them. The judge who heard the 2005 drug prosecution, Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone, who has retired, could also be named as a defendant for learning of the false testimony from Plants, but allowing jurors to hear it anyway.

People familiar with the investigation said the exact charges being sought could change by the time they are filed. It is also possible, said one, that the state could decide at the last moment not to charge one or more of the four.




In the wake of cannabis decriminalization in Massachusetts, several cities are imposing additional fines for those found smoking cannabis in public.

Misapprehensions in D.C. notwithstanding, beleaguered state governments are seriously considering if legalizing cannabis "would improve the economy and job creation."

The fate of Charles Lynch and other dispensary operators charged under federal cannabis laws, despite their compliance with state laws, remains unknown.

The conservative government in Canada is posed to exploit public fear over gangland violence to escalate the war on cannabis, including imposing mandatory prison sentences for growing a single plant.


Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jonathan Saltzman

Officials Want Children Shielded

Dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns are taking steps to impose stiff new fines for smoking marijuana in public and even to charge some violators with misdemeanors, a trend that critics say subverts the state ballot question passed overwhelmingly last fall to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

In recent weeks, at least seven communities - Duxbury, Lynn, Methuen, Medway, Milford, Salem, and Springfield - have passed bylaws that target people who light up in public. And two dozen cities and towns expect to vote this spring on similar measures, which proponents liken to local open container laws that ban drinking alcohol in public.

Police officials say they want to discourage flagrant marijuana smoking, particularly in public parks, schoolyards, and on beaches where young children gather. While last year's ballot initiative reduced possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction carrying a $100 fine, police say that some marijuana smokers mistakenly believe that the voters legalized the drug entirely.

"If you're smoking marijuana in front of schoolchildren, to me that's a little bit more serious than smoking a joint by yourself out in the middle of the woods," said Salem police Captain Brian Gilligan. His city recently authorized officers to fine public smokers $300 in addition to the $100 fine for possession. The Salem bylaw also lets officers give them a misdemeanor summons, although Gilligan predicted that few will get them.

Advocates of last fall's ballot initiative say the new civil fines for smoking marijuana in public are, at best, unnecessary because those individuals can already be fined for possession. At worst, they say, bylaws that treat smoking violations as a misdemeanor are a backdoor attempt to subvert the will of Massachusetts voters, who approved decriminalization in November by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.


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Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Richard M. Evans

IS IT TIME -- yet -- to tax marijuana?

California dodged a budget bullet, and now Massachusetts, New York and other states are under the same gun. As governors and state legislatures scrape for new sources of revenue, has the time come to talk seriously -- really seriously, without winks, puns and smirks -- about regulating and taxing marijuana?

It's hard to avoid the brutal truths, and even harder to admit them. The marijuana market is immense, barely restrained by prohibition laws, while the harm it causes society is minuscule compared with alcohol and tobacco.

If there is anyone, anywhere, who believes that investing more taxpayer dollars in prohibition enforcement will extirpate marijuana from within our national borders, let him or her step forward and answer a few plain questions:

* How many more millions of people will have to be arrested, prosecuted, convicted and punished to achieve success in the struggle against marijuana?

* When "success" is achieved, how many more people will be in jails and prisons?

* How much will that cost taxpayers and where will the money come from?

This is the time for defenders of prohibition to answer those questions, or otherwise explain specifically how the war against marijuana can be won. If they can't, let them forever hold their peace, letting the debate turn productively to the alternatives.




Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Rebecca Cathcart

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge here Monday postponed the sentencing of a man convicted of running a medical marijuana dispensary and asked the Department of Justice to clarify its revised position on such cases.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said last week that federal authorities would not seek to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries if the operations complied with state and local laws, a departure from the Bush administration policy that federal narcotics laws held sway. California is one of 13 states that allow the growth and sales of medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

"The judge said this statement raises more questions than it answers," said Reuven Cohen, a lawyer for the defendant, Charles Lynch. "He said he needed an explanation, and he needed it from the Department of Justice, not the local prosecutor."

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Los Angeles, said that he could not comment on the specifics of the request by Judge George H. Wu, but that prosecutors "do believe that Mr. Lynch violated state law."

Last August, a jury convicted Mr. Lynch on five counts related to running a dispensary and selling medical marijuana to customers under 21, considered minors under a federal statute that prohibits the sale of marijuana and other narcotics to minors. Mr. Lynch faces a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison.

The case has been widely followed by medical marijuana advocates since Mr. Lynch was arrested after a 2007 raid on his dispensary in Morro Bay, Calif.


Mr. Mrozek said both sides would have a conference with Judge Wu on Friday, but prosecutors may not have a filing from the Department of Justice by then. The sentencing hearing has been postponed until April 30.



Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Adrian Nieoczym

Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson came to Kelowna to give a colleague a hand and to make it clear that the Conservative Party has a tough on crime agenda.

Nicholson was the guest speaker for Conservative Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan's fundraising dinner Saturday at the Coast Capri Hotel.

"Ron Cannan is an outstanding member of parliament," Nicholson told the roomful of Conservative party members and supporters.

"It's not just a coincidence I am out here. I appreciate the support that he has delivered."

Cannan and Nicholson, who hails from Niagara Falls, both represent regions with vibrant wine industries.

Nicholson credited Cannan for helping do away with the federal excise tax on Canadian wine. He also praised Cannan for helping with the government's crime agenda.

"He has been consistently supportive of what we have been trying to do to get tough on violent crime in this country," he said to loud applause.

Speaking with reporters after his speech, Nicholson said the recent gang violence in the Lower Mainland has got politicians of all stripes focusing on crime.

He expressed his hope that as a result, the government will be able to get its recent crime bills passed.

"This is a terrible tragedy what is taking place in the Lower Mainland. At the same time we seem to have had the attention of all political parties now. I hope it sustains. We have to get it passed not only the House of Commons but in the Senate as well and that's always a challenge," he said.

The Conservative government has tabled legislation which would mandate automatic first degree murder charges for gang-related killings and introduce stiffer penalties for drive by shootings, attacks on police and the production and distribution of illegal drugs.

Nicholson also rejected the notion that legalizing marijuana would eliminate the incentive for criminals to grow and distribute the drug, and in the process reduce gang violence.

"We won't be legalizing marijuana. We believe that previous governments sent out the wrong message on this," he said.

"We're going to be taking some very firm measures against people who produce drugs, manufacture drugs, people who ship drugs out of this country or import drugs into this country. We're sending a very clear message to them that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated."




He was a 114-year-old tribal chief, according to the Nigerian "Punch" newspaper, but that didn't stop the man from having over six tons of cannabis in the backyard. "I don't know anything about it," claimed Chief Sulaimon Adebayo. Nigerian police shudder to think of the devastation narrowly averted. "Imagine what could have happened if this drug had not been intercepted. Imagine the lives that would have been destroyed by this illicit drug."

Mexican President Felipe Calderon's "war" against drug cartels, while failing utterly to put a dent into the colossal flow of illegal drugs moving north did, instead, manage to decapitate the cartels - repeatedly stirring up deadly turf battles. As the turf battles become ever more murderous, the new U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Mexico to meet with Mexican leaders. Unable to admit drug prohibition itself drives violence, Clinton instead proceeded to blame (the supply of) drugs on the demand for them, "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade." Clinton pledged additional U.S. taxpayer dollars for weapons to bolster the Mexican police and military.

The NDLEA, Hillary, and prohibitionists around the world would do well this week to heed the words of Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew. "The issue isn't gangs; it's illicit drugs. Illegal drugs are big money precisely because they are prohibited: Marijuana grows like a weed and cocaine can be processed for pennies... the gangs are a symptom, not the disease... There is only one solution that promises to reduce the violence -- the end of the drug prohibition."

And finally this week, British Columbia Green Party leader, Jane Sterk, said gang wars might not be happening if cannabis were legal. "The war on drugs is a colossal failure," said Sterk. Shoot-outs are "over the control of controlled substances that are now deemed to be illegal." Legalize cannabis and "There should not be any money to be made for the gangs in this whole production and distribution end."


Pubdate: Sat, 21 Mar 2009
Source: Punch (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2009 The Punch
Author: Ademola Oni

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 114-year-old man, Chief Sulaimon Adebayo, in Ogun State, in connection with the discovery of 6.5 tonnes of weeds suspected to be marijuana, popularly called Indian Hemp, behind his house.

Parading the suspect in Abeokuta on Friday, the State Commandant of the NDLEA, Mrs. Chinyere Obijuru, said the anti-drug agency, acting on a tip off, swooped on the house of the centenarian, who claimed to be the Baale (community leader) of Oja Sango, Odeda Local Government of the state.


"Imagine what could have happened if this drug had not been intercepted. Imagine the lives that would have been destroyed by this illicit drug."


"Someone came and dropped them at the back of my house in the night. The first time he came, I saw him but I thought what he dropped were bags of rice and I did not see him until the police came. I don't know anything about it," he said.




Pubdate: Thu, 26 Mar 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican officials announced the capture of an alleged drug lord Wednesday as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived, carrying a conciliatory message: U.S. demand is a principal reason for spiraling drug-related violence in Mexico.

Mrs. Clinton pledged that the Obama administration will work aggressively to reduce drug demand, while seeking to cut off the flow of high-tech weapons from the U.S. that Mexican narcotics gangs are using in their internal wars and in conflict with Mexican authorities.

The U.S. will also seek to expedite shipments of military hardware and technical assistance, she said, part of $700 million in aid this year to help Mexico respond to the narcotics threat.

Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration would seek $80 million from Congress for three Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico, $66 million of which is new money. "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. ...So yes, I feel very strongly that we have a co-responsibility" to confront it, Mrs. Clinton told reporters traveling with her to Mexico City from Washington.




Pubdate: Mon, 23 Mar 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Ian Mulgrew


We didn't get any solutions from the justice ministers Saturday because they are avoiding the truth: The issue isn't gangs; it's illicit drugs.

Illegal drugs are big money precisely because they are prohibited: Marijuana grows like a weed and cocaine can be processed for pennies.

The U.S. and Mexico don't have our legal niceties problem and neither is dealing with the burgeoning gangsterism any better than we are. No country is.

That's because the gangs are a symptom, not the disease.

Whether you live in Tijuana, New York or Vancouver, murders and shootings have become common because of the illegal drug market.

There is only one solution that promises to reduce the violence -- the end of the drug prohibition. We can only sap the strength of the gangs by removing the enormous profits reaped from drug trafficking.


Removing massive drug profits from the underground economy won't eliminate gangs, but it will reduce their number and scope considerably.



Pubdate: Sun, 22 Mar 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: John Bermingham

Party Also Wants To Ban Tasers, Increase Energy Production

B.C. Green leader Jane Sterk said if cannabis was legalized, there might not be a gang war going on around the Lower Mainland.

Sterk was speaking with The Province after the release of her party's platform for the May 12 provincial election, which calls for the legalization of cannabis, among its 500 ideas.

"The war on drugs is a colossal failure," Sterk said Friday. "It's illogical to do something that has been such a failure."

The current gang violence is an offshoot of failed prohibition policies, she said.

"It's over the control of controlled substances that are now deemed to be illegal," she said.

Government should take over the production and distribution of marijuana, she said, and take the money-making incentive away from the criminals.

"There should not be any money to be made for the gangs in this whole production and distribution end," she said.

Sterk said addiction should be treated as a public health issue, and doctors given the power to prescribe drug substitutes.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )



By Paul Armentano, NORML

Since 1965, police have arrested over 20 million Americans for violating marijuana laws. Obama shouldn't laugh at questions about legalizing it.



This was the debate between Kirk Tousaw and Barry Joneson which took place as part of the Langara College Dialogues series held in Vancouver.


Contrary to scientific opinion, the U.S. government still posits that marijuana has no medical value. Not only has the government used this position to harmfully intrude in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, it has done so with scorn for the voters and legislatures that enacted state medical marijuana laws

By David E. Krahl, Ph.D.


Dr Frederick Polak and others have been trying to get the UNODC to publish their discussion document on the Dutch coffee shop system for some time now. Here's the latest attempt to get some answers about the report.


Will the Justice Department's new medical marijuana policy save Charlie Lynch?

By Jacob Sullum


By Bill Piper and Ethan Nadelmann

If ever there were a time for politicians to open up this debate, it is now.


Century of Lies - 03/22/09 - Martin Jelsma

Martin Jelsma director of Transnational Institute, interviewed at the UN Drug Conference in Vienna by Michael Krawitz

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 03/25/09 - Terry Nelson

UN Drug Conference NGO's speak in Vienna, with Professor Fredrick Polak, Terry Nelson of LEAP, Lennice Werth, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, courtesy Vienna Public Radio


MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia debates the failure of the war on marijuana and the benefits of taxation and regulation on CNBC Power Lunch. Also on the show was Asa Hutchinson, former head of the DEA.


Are We Wasting Valuable Treatment Resources?

Even as the demand for drug treatment slots continues to grow, an increasing number of people who enter drug treatment are being treated for marijuana as their primary drug of abuse, leading some observers to question whether scarce drug treatment resources are being wasted on people who don't need drug treatment.


It's the Economic Stimulus and Green Jobs Solution We Need

By Dara Colwell

We can make over 25,000 things with it. Farmers love it. Environmentalists love it. You can't get high from it. So why is it still illegal?



Since many of you are writing President Obama on your own, NORML would like to assist the process by providing you with a link for contacting the White House directly.


Tell your state senator, the senate president and the governor to finalize real Rockefeller reform.



By Alan Randell


Re: Helping Port Alberni become crystal clear, March 16

May I respond to the above propaganda so that your readers are exposed to both sides of the issue?

If users were free to purchase clean, cheap, quality-tested marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. at the corner store, why would anyone bother with such an awful drug as meth?

In any event, most of the harm done by meth is very likely caused by adulterants in the drug. If the drug were legally produced in government inspected premises by knowledgeable and experienced people, it would probably be much less harmful. When alcohol was made legal again after being prohibited, the number of users dying or suffering harm as a result of ingesting that drug dropped precipitously.

The best way to reduce the harm and heartbreak of illegal drugs is to legalize them.

Alan Randell Victoria

Pubdate: Thu, 19 Mar 2009
Source: Alberni Valley Times (CN BC)


There are no victories in the war on drugs, only victims. There Are  ( Top )

There's a war going on, adding more victims each day. Stories such as these, representing less than one-month's-worth of drug war abuses, are still far too common:

1. An estimated 6,290 drug-related murders occurred last year in Mexico, six times the standard definition of a civil war, according to a leading scholar at the Brookings Institution.

2. Within 24 hours, the president and the army-chief-of-staff of Guinea-Bissau, a small country in Africa, lost their lives following violent explosions linked to the drug trade.

3. Engaged in a "battle against drug trafficking" along a busy highway connecting Houston with Louisiana, police in Tehana, Texas have been increasing city coffers by seizing cash from black motorists - including a grandmother and an interracial couple - without charging them with a crime. stacks o cash

4. Two executives with the Mutual Benefits insurance company have been charged with orchestrating a billion dollar Ponzi scheme that allowed narcotics traffickers to purchase life insurance policies payable upon the deaths of people with AIDS and other fatal diseases.

5. After a disabled Colorado medical marijuana patient was busted for growing a couple of marijuana plants, police checked county records, found that he had paid off his mortgage with accident settlement money, and started forfeiture proceedings against him, profiting their agency while seizing his home.

6. After learning of vandalism and several thefts in a Baltimore neighborhood, about two dozen SWAT officers, wearing all black with guns drawn, raided a nearby mobile home belonging to a computer analyst with no criminal record; they handcuffed his wife and shot his dog near his bed.

7. Suspicious of drug sales, an Ontario, Canada, high school vice principal took away a student's cell phone, deleted its numbers, summoned the holders of the numbers to his office, and forced them to confess to drug trafficking.

8. A farm purchased and operated by widows from Colombia's civil war was decimated by the chemical defoliant spray used by U.S. contractors to kill coca plants on 2.6 million acres of Colombian land at the cost of a half billion dollars.

Angry Yet?

There are actions that you can take to end this failed and costly drug prohibition. Here are several suggestions: newspaper a. Write a letter. Articles about each of these atrocities (see references below) can be found in our DrugNews Archive,

Each article contains an e-mail address or web link to directly contact the source publication. It's "point and click" access to editors and Websites that want to hear what you think. b. Join local, state or federal groups working on drug policy reform here and around the world. Our Drug Policy Central provides web services to more than 120 drug policy focused organizations.

Check out for a group in your area. Hate the drug war, but can't locate a group near you? Join DrugSense at to find and network with thousands of like-minded people.

We're able to get the word out about the incredible harms of the drug war and alternatives to prohibition because people like you.

Donate. It's quick, easy, and secure. Just visit Help stop this war on our personal rights and freedoms.

Get involved. Write. Join. Donate.

References to the articles about the drug war victims described above:

1) Mexico,

2) Guinea-Bissau, Africa.

3) Tenaha, Texas.

4) Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Donate Now!

5) Denver, Colorado.

6) Baltimore, Maryland.

7) Peterborough, Ontario.

8) Colombia.

Convinced? DONATE NOW to help us stop the War on Drugs.

Mark Greer is the Executive Director of DrugSense. DrugSense is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization. Your donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.


"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." -Earnest Benn

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