This Just In
(1)NM Marijuana Case Sidetracks Former Major Leaguer
(2)The Antidrug Campaign Tries a New Message
(3)Web Riddled With Drug Cartel Videos, Messages
(4)Column: Legalization Key to Ending Drug Violence

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 09 Apr 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division
Author: Tim Korte, Associated Press

Years ago, Gilberto Reyes was a major league catcher working with Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez and Randy Johnson.

These days, he's jailed and facing the challenge of his life. Four days before Christmas 2007, Reyes was driving a truck that slid off an icy freeway in northeastern New Mexico, right into a tangle of legal trouble.

The vehicle toppled and spilled a load of furniture, along with hidden cargo -- 420 pounds of marijuana, bundled in 42 cellophane-wrapped bricks. The drugs tumbled onto the snowy ground after the crash.

Authorities estimated the street value at $250,000.

Reyes, a native of the Dominican Republic who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos during a seven-year career in the majors, has been jailed since but staunchly maintains his innocence on drug trafficking charges.

"I've never been in jail before this. I've never been in trouble with police," Reyes said last month during a one-hour interview with The Associated Press at the San Miguel County Detention Center.

Despite his troubles, Reyes smiled and laughed often after taking a seat inside a cinderblock-walled jailhouse classroom. He wore an orange jail-issued shirt, orange pants, white socks and sneakers.

He had his 45th birthday behind bars last winter. Reyes said he rejected a plea bargain during his more than 15 months of incarceration because he had to protect his good name.

"To be honest, they had a good case," Reyes said. "The D.A. was very good. He was just doing his job. He can't let me go free. That was his case. He had to prove I knew something about it."

In February, Reyes' trial ended with a hung jury that was leaning 8-4 in support of his acquittal. But that meant he was facing even more jail time because a retrial was slated for July.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Ellen Gamerman

Every April 20, marijuana smokers around the country light up for an unofficial holiday celebrating pot that stems from the smoker slang "420." This year, as the drug war rages in Mexico, the festivities fall against an increasingly violent backdrop.

Some antidrug advocates are using the occasion to jump-start a movement against marijuana not just for health and legal reasons, but on moral grounds. American pot smokers, they say, are unwittingly supporting drug cartels in Mexico.

Aaron Byzak, president of the North Coastal Prevention Coalition, an antidrug group in north San Diego County, says he'll focus on the Mexican drug war when he addresses 1,000 seventh-to 10th-graders at the group's annual antidrug festival, also held on April 20, at an amusement park in Vista, Calif. Mr. Byzak will urge the kids to think of Mexico's drug lords if they're offered a puff.

"This is a prime opportunity for us to educate them about how every bit of marijuana someone smokes here is giving more power and more money to the drug cartels in Mexico," he says.

The drug war in Mexico, which in the past two years has left thousands dead, comes as prevention groups search for new ways to send a clear message about the dangers of pot. Unlike campaigns against cocaine or heroin use, the argument against marijuana is more complex. Thirteen states have legalized its use for medical purposes, and an organized movement is pushing to decriminalize it altogether.

John Redman, who heads Californians for Drug Free Youth, says violence in Mexico helped spark the creation of a new antipot group, the California Marijuana Initiative, two months ago. One of its central themes: Smoking marijuana is not a victimless crime.

Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator of the University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future Study," which is funded by the federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse and tracks drug, alcohol and tobacco use, says he plans to press the Obama administration and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to use the death toll in Mexico to engage the consciences of pot smokers.

Mr. Johnston likens the Mexico argument to the campaign against secondhand cigarette smoke; when smokers learned their habit was harming others, he says, many quit who wouldn't have otherwise.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

Rival Gangs Using Sites Such As YouTube to Intimidate, Recruit

The violence among Mexican drug cartels is not filling just the streets of Mexican border towns: It's also spilling into gruesome online videos and chat rooms.

The videos on YouTube and Mexican-based sites are polished -- professional singers croon about cartel leaders while images of murdered victims fade one into the next. In the comment area, those loyal to the opposing cartels trade insults and threats.

Such videos are used to intimidate enemies and recruit members by touting "virtues" of cartel leaders, says Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence for Stratfor, a Texas-based global-intelligence company.

Howard Campbell, an anthropologist at the University of Texas-El Paso who studies border issues, says the videos also signal how the cartels have evolved from pure moneymaking ventures to sophisticated groups with political agendas.

One YouTube video sympathetic to the Sinaloa Cartel opens with white lettering: "This is what happens to all my enemies." A singer launches into an up-tempo song against a montage of images: slain police officers, bullet-ridden police cruisers, shell casings, crumpled bodies.

Victoria Grand, head of policy for YouTube, says company officials have seen the cartel videos on their website but would not comment on specific videos.

She says YouTube does remove graphic, violent video if other users flag it as offensive and it lacks documentary or educational purposes. "If the video is clearly violent and the purpose is to shock or disgust, we will remove it," she says. YouTube officials have alerted law enforcement agencies to criminal activity posted on the site, she says.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Herald News, The (Fall River, MA)
Copyright: 2009 The Herald News
Author: Bill Steigerwald, The Herald News

You don't have to be a Harvard economics professor like Jeffrey Miron to know that America's war on drugs has been a lost cause for decades. Now a bloody war between the Mexican government and vicious drug cartels is raging just across our southern border, killing thousands and threatening to spread into the U.S.A.

The Obama administration's response, typically and predictably, is to send more police and troops to try to protect and control the border. But as Miron recently pointed out in a piece for, the cause of the violence in Mexico is our country's own misbegotten policy of drug prohibition, which drives the market for drugs underground and creates the same kind of violence, corruption and disrespect for the law among the populace that we saw during our failed war against alcohol.

Miron, who believes that legalizing all drugs is the best way to reduce drug violence on our borders and in our cities, was in Boston when I talked to him Monday morning.

Q: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently blamed our inability to prevent weapons from being smuggled across the border to arm the drug cartels in Mexico for the deaths of thousands of police officers, soldiers and civilians there. She also said it was America's "insatiable demand" for drugs that fuels the violence on the border. Should she have emphasized that "demand" part of it more?

A: Well, no. Of course at some level she's right. If there were no demand for drugs, there would be no drug market. It wouldn't matter whether we prohibited drugs; there would be no violence. But there is going to be a demand for drugs whether we like it or not, and if we drive the market underground we are going to have many more negative side effects of that market than if we were to adopt a regime of legalization.... I think she is really missing the key way in which the U.S. policy of drug prohibition is responsible for the current situation.





The tragic outcomes of the war on drugs are well catalogued and understood, yet the individual cases can still be shocking, like one high school student who was literally driven to suicide by "zero tolerance" policies that were allegedly designed to keep him safe. Another general, but predictable, outcome of the drug war has been scientifically validated again: street drugs can be impure. A new book looks back at model for other South American drug lords; and in Canada, Highway 420 seems to be attracting bad elements, so local leaders want to change the name of the road.


Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Marc Fisher

Josh Anderson had just finished four homework assignments. He did his laundry. He watched TV with his mother -- "House," which he had Tivo'd for viewing that night. He played with the dogs. Then, at his mom's urging, he went up to bed. It was 12:30, and the next day, March 19, was a big one: Josh was scheduled for a hearing that probably would end with his expulsion from the Fairfax County school system.

The Andersons weren't blind to what got Josh into this pickle. He had been caught leaving campus, going to Taco Bell with a friend. When the boys returned to South Lakes High in Reston, an assistant principal confronted them in the parking lot, smelled marijuana and had the car searched. This was the second time in two years that Josh, a junior, had been found with pot.

"I really have been working hard on this," Josh wrote to the hearing officers. "I can't believe I'm putting my parents through this now. I can't believe how selfish and stupid I've been. . . . I'm honestly going to try my hardest to fix this."

The Andersons were told that Josh would be barred from any regular Fairfax high school and might be tossed out of the system entirely. His parents were looking into private schools or moving.

But there would be no hearing, no new school, no more visits from college football coaches asking about Josh's talents.

When Sue Anderson went into her son's room the next morning, he was dead. Without a word to his girlfriend, parents, psychologist, coach or teachers, Josh Anderson, 17, had killed himself.

He left a note, just two lines. "Why does it have to be like this?" And, to his girlfriend, "I love you."

There is little anger in Tim and Sue Anderson's voices now. Waves of grief strike at random intervals. Their eyes water when they look up the stairs toward Josh's room in their house in Vienna. They don't want to sue anyone. They praise coaches and teachers at South Lakes who did what they could to help their boy. But they have come to believe that the system did Josh a terrible wrong, that the zero-tolerance mentality contradicts the goal of educating or helping an immature adolescent.




Pubdate: Fri, 03 Apr 2009
Source: Chilliwack Progress (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Chilliwack Progress
Author: Jennifer Feinberg

Ecstasy users may be placing too much trust in their dealers, since the street drug is often cut with dangerous contaminants, says a UFV criminologist.

"Hundreds of young people around the world die each year because they take drugs that they believed were something other than what they consumed," UFV researcher Darryl Plecas explains by e-mail.

Plecas and Fraser Health addictions expert Sherry Mumford were in Oxford, England on Monday to present their paper, The Problem of Adulterated Drugs, at an invitation-only roundtable event.

Last year Plecas presented his research on marijuana grow-ops to the Oxford roundtable, and this year they've zeroed in on the practice adding potentially harmful ingredients to illegal drugs, like ecstasy.

"The question is, when people are buying what they think is a party drug such as ecstasy, is that all they're getting?" asks Plecas.

Testing has found it's often laced with more addictive drugs such as methamphetamine, oxycontin nicknamed "hillbilly heroin," or even ketamine, a horse tranquilizer.

Why would anyone trust a dealer in the first place on the purity question?

"A great question," Plecas continues. "In fact, we suspect that they will trust their dealer before they would trust their doctor.

"Part of that is perhaps a function of their suspecting that the doctor is going to tell them that they shouldn't be taking drugs at all and that all illicit drugs are bad."




Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 2009
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Misha Glenny

In the museum of organised crime, Pablo Escobar deserves a room of his own. He was the first gangster billionaire, listed by Forbes magazine in 1989 as the world's seventh richest man; in the late 1980s he offered to pay Colombia's national debt as a way of fending off the ever-present threat of extradition to America. The rise of his cocaine-trafficking organisation, the Medellin cartel, triggered a period of mayhem unprecedented even by the standards of Colombia's modern history.

There are passages in this biography written by Pablo's brother and chief accountant, Roberto, that are jaw-dropping, especially when detailing the sheer ingenuity required in smuggling hundreds of tons annually into America and Europe. At first, simply packing the drug in aircraft tyres was effective. But as the cocaine craze began to grip the nightclubs of New York, Miami and LA, the inventiveness of the Medellin cartel reached new heights.

One of the most successful tricks early on involved stuffing cocaine into the vaginas of mares being transported to America for racing. But before long, the chemists of Medellin had perfected the technique of dissolving cocaine that allowed them to mix it with any liquid - wine, cooking oil, paint. If it sloshes around and originates in South America, it may well contain coke. Roberto explains how the chemists then blended it "into plastic, forming it into many different items, including PVC pipe, religious statues, and when we started shipping it to Europe, the fibreglass shells of small boats". Consumers may wish to remember that during a night on the razzle they could well be snorting paint or fibreglass.



 (8) RENAME HIGHWAY 420  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 1 Apr 2009
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Alison Bell

Pietrangelo Gateway to Falls Should Have a Significant Name, Says Councillor

If Coun. Victor Pietrangelo has his way, this year will be the last for the 420 pro-marijuana rally.

Pietrangelo introduced a motion at last week's council meeting to rename Highway 420 to a name more significant to the city.

"I think we can create a better first impression for visitors in our city," Pietrangelo told This Week.

With the name change would come a new image. From a cannon placed along the streetscape to a new gateway and signage, the possibilities for revamping the main throughway to the tourist district are endless, said Pietrangelo.

Pietrangelo added that with the new arena, the city is losing the names Niagara Falls Memorial Arena and Stamford Memorial Arena, and perhaps the new name could reflect a memorial of some sort. "I'm partial to renaming it to something significant to veterans," he said.

The new name would also rid the 420's association to marijuana.

For more than five years, tourists visiting Clifton Hill every April 20 have caught a pungent scent as pro-marijuana activists march through the tourism district lighting up joints to protest the criminalization of marijuana and to demand that cannabis be legalized.



The over-reaching of drug warriors, particularly those in law enforcement, is highlighted in this weeks story. Drug warriors in congress want more control over the ingredients in cough syrup. Is this another over-the-counter medication that Americans have to present their papers in order to obtain it? In Ohio, cops literally could not wait for a new salvia divinorum law to go into effect. Lawmakers in Minnesota rightfully slam state law enforcement for its knee-jerk reaction to medical marijuana. And the attorney general of Arizona talks about what he sees as the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border, while a "big" bust in Canada is placed in proper perspective.


Pubdate: Thu, 2 Apr 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Jared A. Favole

WASHINGTON -- A bill seeking to stop an ingredient in cough syrups from being diverted to deadly street drugs overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday. The bill, introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., would make it illegal to distribute bulk forms of dextromethorphan, a cough-suppressant found in cough medicines, to businesses or people who aren't registered with the Food and Drug Administration. The bill passed 407 to eight.

Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is commonly found in cough medicines that are available over the counter at pharmacies, meaning consumers don't need a prescription to buy the product. When DXM is consumed in high amounts, it has hallucinogenic effects.

Similar bills passed the House in 2006 and 2007, but none have passed the Senate. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Vice President Joe Biden, then a senator, in 2007 introduced a bill that would ban the sale of products containing DXM to anyone under 18.




Pubdate: Tue, 7 Apr 2009
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Cincinnati Enquirer
Author: Sheila McLaughlin


Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones jumped the gun when he sent out a press release this morning touting the first arrest in his county under a new law that bans a hallucinogenic herb called Salvia divinorum.

The law doesn't go into effect until Tuesday.

Sheriff's officials wound up dropping the charge.

Jones had his staff fax the information to the media about 11:08 a.m.




Pubdate: Fri, 3 Apr 2009
Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
Copyright: 2009 St. Paul Pioneer Press
Authors: Steve Murphy, and Tom Rukavina

As chief authors of the bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill moving through the Legislature, we felt compelled to respond to Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom's misleading column regarding our bill ( "Law enforcement groups oppose it, and here's why," March 20).

It was extremely disappointing to note that Backstrom began his column by asserting that he and the groups he represents will never agree to sit down with us to negotiate a bill that meets their concerns. This is unfortunate, because in other states, law enforcement has been supportive of the legalization of medical marijuana. They got involved in the process early on and worked with lawmakers to craft a system that would be workable. Because of their involvement, other states' medical marijuana systems have been successful.

Instead, in Minnesota, law enforcement comes before legislative committees and authors editorials vilifying our efforts to provide the seriously ill with relief from their pain and suffering.

Backstrom criticizes our bill by saying that medical-marijuana patients in Minnesota would have access to more marijuana than they needed. In reality, the possession limits offered under our bill are reasonable and identical to the limits established by Rhode Island, Maine and Michigan. Eligible patients would be monitored through a registration system, and people who misuse their registration card would face felony prosecution -- a stricter penalty than the misdemeanor offense for illegal possession of the drug.

It is also not true that our bill does not provide effective law enforcement oversight. Law enforcement would have access to all of the Health Department's registered patient cardholder information.

Also, we feel the primary oversight by the Health Department is appropriate because this is an issue concerning medicine. Just as doctors do not hand out traffic tickets, police should not be dispensing medication.




Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company

As Mexico's war against its drug cartels heats up, Arizona is becoming a front-line state. Phoenix leads the nation in kidnappings. The border south of Tucson and Yuma has become the main conduit for smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants into the United States. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has made waves for employing controversial techniques to fight money laundering and for suggesting that the United States might need to rethink its drug laws. Goddard spoke with Outlook's John Pomfret about Mexico, marijuana and an operation known as Tumbleweed. Excerpts:

Is Mexico a failed state?

No. Not even close. The thing that I find appalling about the failed-state analysis is that the instability and the violence is precisely because the Calderon administration made the strategic decision to take on the cartels and to reestablish national sovereignty and the rule of law. And we're criticizing them for it.

Is Mexico's violence going to spread north?

Yes. I hate to say that, but I don't think there's anything about our current response that keeps it from coming north.

Talking to one of the border sheriffs recently, I asked: How long do you think it will be before there's a violent episode in your county? And his response was, I think it'll happen this year. It's going to be a gun battle between two criminal organizations and one of my rookies is going to get caught in the crossfire.

Most Americans think that drug smugglers make their big profits off cocaine, but you say otherwise.

Marijuana is the horse. Marijuana is the profit center for the cartels. We think approximately 65 percent of the total revenue that the cartels get from drug smuggling is based on marijuana. You could say indirectly that much of the carnage in Mexico is financed because of profits from marijuana.

Should marijuana be legal?

I personally don't think so. But I believe that we need to put all of the various options on the table. Legalization is one of those options. Would it reduce the profits of the cartels? Would it increase the risk to the population of the United States?




Pubdate: Mon, 06 Apr 2009
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Andrew Hanon

In terms of the number of people charged, it was a huge drug bust.

Last week city police announced that they had charged 51 people with dealing drugs after a three-week operation with the wince-evoking code name Project Geld.

In all, 120 charges were laid: 44 counts of trafficking, 18 counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, 43 counts of possession of the proceeds of crime and 19 other charges. Police also seized $14,500 in cash and six vehicles.

All in all, it's a pretty impressive box score for the cops.

But when you look at the small amount of narcotics seized, you get a better picture of just how sophisticated drug-dealing operations are, and how cagey the street dealers' puppetmasters have become.

A total of 205 grams of cocaine was seized, along with small amounts of marijuana, crystal meth and dilaudid. The coke's value on the street is just under $25,000, a negligible sum given the massive amounts flowing into the city each month.

But that's the way the major players in the drug trade have designed it -- the little guys take the fall while the big fish just keep doing business.




Veteran Canadian medicinal cannabis activist Grant Krieger appears to have lost his war of attrition with the government, despite winning several significant legal battles on behalf of medicinal cannabis consumers along the way. Thanks Grant.

Several more states, such as Florida, starting moving toward liberating medicinal cannabis last week.

Canadian activists are ambivalent over a private member's bill tabled last week that would reduce the penalty for possessing an ounce or less, or cultivating up to two plants, to a civil infraction subject to escalating fines. Would "decrim" burst the bubble of tolerance around Vancouver? Would it widen the net?

Evidence for a shifting zeitgeist around cannabis includes a column by Joe Klein in Time Magazine on the shifting zeitgeist around cannabis.


Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Robert Remington
Bookmark: (Krieger, Grant)

'Flawed' System Leaves Krieger Hermit With Dogs

As expected of someone who indulges in the medicinal use of marijuana, Grant Krieger is a gentle soul. His dogs, not so much.

Upon arrival at Krieger's house, visitors are greeted by a pack of six barking hounds. One, a half-wolf named Shifty, stays in the background, swaying back and forth. Before long, the dogs settle. They surround the visitor, seeking pats on the head, shakes of outstretched paws and an irresistible scratch behind the ear. All, that is, but the wary Shifty, who dares to enter the room only after nearly an hour and remains aloof.

The home has a lived-in, bachelor look: the TV is on, there's an ironing board in the living room, DVDs are lined up on the floor, tattered throws cover furniture in a futile effort to protect them against fur. On the kitchen table is the beginning of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a snow leopard. A treadmill sits in the middle of another room, where a rowing machine is propped against a wall.

Krieger offers herbal tea. We sit in the room with the TV blaring and begin to talk of his 13-year legal struggle as a medicinal marijuana advocate, which the multiple sclerosis sufferer ended this week by signing a legal document pledging to not engage in any cultivation or distribution.

The windows are covered to block natural light, the entrance-way dark. The room has the mood and feel of a comfortable cave.

"I've become a hermit," says the gaunt 54-year-old. "I don't even like to leave the house anymore be-cause I don't like police officers."

Krieger's crusade has cost him a marriage, the estrangement of family, his driving privileges and debt. It is the sad and tragic story of an individual fighting a system stacked against him, a system that never tolerated his in-your-face defiance of what he felt were unjust laws.

One could argue that he became his own worst enemy. If Krieger had simply stuck quietly to his personal use of medicinal marijuana, as he was legally allowed to do, he might have escaped the torment of enforcement officials and a judiciary that treated him like a pusher. Instead, Krieger listened to the call of his kind heart.




Pubdate: Mon, 6 Apr 2009
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Anna Scott

Marijuana is the only drug Cathy Jordan says helps her fight Lou Gehrig's disease. The 59-year-old mother smokes two joints every night to relieve depression and muscle spasms, and to boost her appetite.

"It's keeping me alive," said Jordan in an interview at her home in Parrish. "Anti-depressants made me a zombie and other drugs had bad side effects. The crime is that people like me can't get it legally."

Floridians could vote for the first time next year to allow marijuana for medical use. A petition drive, started last week by an Orlando woman whose father has Parkinson's disease, would make the drug legal for any condition as prescribed by a doctor.

The last time such an organized effort to legalize marijuana occurred in Florida was 1997, just one year after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. But in Florida the petitioners fell hundreds of thousands of signatures short of getting to a state referendum.

This time the movement faces some of the same roadblocks, such as opposition from law enforcement and a lack of support by the majority of the medical community.

But the climate has become more favorable in ways that could shift the balance.




Pubdate: Fri, 03 Apr 2009
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Black Press
Author: Rebecca Aldous

As he dished out cash for a slim, silver scale the Sacred Herbs customer scoffed at the idea.

If Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca's MP Keith Martin thinks his proposed bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana is going to take money out of gang member's pockets, he doesn't understand system, he said while stuffing the scale into his bag.

"I fail to see any correlation there," he said, shaking his head. "People who would say that don't understand the situation."

Standing behind the glass counter that holds a kaleidoscope of bright red, yellow, blue and pink glass pipes, Dan Brown smiles at the comment. He's worked at the marijuana paraphernalia store for just over five years and the majority of customers he sees are between the ages of 40 to 60.

Although Martin's private member's bill introduced in the House of Commons last week, which recommends fines instead of criminal charges for anyone with two pot plants or less than 30 grams of marijuana, re-ignites the debate, it does little else, Brown said.

"Overall it doesn't change the whole criminal thing," he said. "Really when it comes down to it it's still illegal."

Until that changes, the government will have no control over gangs who use pot as currency, Brown said.



 (17) IT'S HIGH TIME  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 13 Apr 2009
Source: Time Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2009 Time Inc
Author: Joe Klein

Legalizing Marijuana May Be Politically Risky. But the Economic Benefits Are Becoming Difficult to Ignore

For the past several years, I've been harboring a fantasy, a last political crusade for the baby-boom generation. We, who started on the path of righteousness, marching for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, need to find an appropriately high-minded approach to life's exit ramp. In this case, I mean the high-minded part literally.

And so, a deal: give us drugs, after a certain age -- say, 80 -- all drugs, any drugs we want. In return, we will give you our driver's licenses. (I mean, can you imagine how terrifying a nation of decrepit, solipsistic 90-year-old boomers behind the wheel would be?)

We'll let you proceed with your lives -- much of which will be spent paying for our retirement, in any case -- without having to hear us complain about our every ache and reflux. We'll be too busy exploring altered states of consciousness. I even have a slogan for the campaign: "Tune in, turn on, drop dead."

A fantasy, I suppose. But, beneath the furious roil of the economic crisis, a national conversation has quietly begun about the irrationality of our drug laws. It is going on in state legislatures, like New York's, where the draconian Rockefeller drug laws are up for review; in other states, from California to Massachusetts, various forms of marijuana decriminalization are being enacted. And it has reached the floor of Congress, where Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter have proposed a major prison-reform package, which would directly address drug-sentencing policy.

There are also more puckish signs of a zeitgeist shift.




In Cuernavaca, Mexico top U.S. and Mexican government lawyers met to discuss the increasingly violent Mexican "drug cartels" -- while studiously avoiding the topic of drug legalization. Casting about for scapegoats, "drug cartels" and their guns (smuggled from the U.S., the narrative goes, due to gun laws there), and of course U.S. drug users were settled upon. "I don't think our Second Amendment will stand in the way of what we have begun," proclaimed meeting attendee U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Not all are scapegoating the users and cartels, and this week the Financial Times newspaper in the U.K. called for a debate on decriminalization. "Surely it is time for a debate on whether a tightly regulated ... decriminalisation of narcotics... is the way to destroy the financial basis of the industry - and take it out of the hands of organised crime."

Earlier this week, the results of a comprehensive cost-benefit study of drug policy was released in the U.K. Undertaken by the drug policy group Transform, it was believed to be the first of its kind. Conclusion: "regulating the drugs market is a dramatically more cost-effective policy than prohibition and that moving from prohibition to regulated drugs markets in England and Wales would provide a net saving to taxpayers, victims of crime, communities, the criminal justice system and drug users".

"Even by the government's own measures it is now clear that drug enforcement is causing more harm than the drugs themselves," said Steve Rolles, Transform's director of research. The U.K. government was quick to denounce the idea of legalization as causing "a huge increase in consumption with an associated cost to public health." But the government has never done such a study, says Transform.


Pubdate: Fri, 3 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: William Booth, Washington Post Foreign Service

CUERNAVACA, Mexico -- Top cabinet officials from the United States and Mexico met here Thursday to decry the violence unleashed by the drug cartels, but failed to announce any new bilateral programs to combat the traffickers.


Mexican officials, including Medina, have blamed loose U.S. gun-control laws for the weapons smuggled south, and he has repeatedly called on the United States to pass a ban on assault weapons.

Holder agreed that the "vast majority" of weapons used by the cartels come from north of the border. "This is a reality we have to face in the United States," Holder said, adding that the United States is not seeking to change any of its gun laws to slow weapons smuggling.

"I don't think our Second Amendment will stand in the way of what we have begun," Holder said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also attended the meeting, where she described the drug smugglers as a "scourge."

On Wednesday, Napolitano announced that the United States would spend $400 million to improve search and surveillance technologies at U.S. ports of entry.



 (19) MEXICO'S DRUGS WAR  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sat, 4 Apr 2009
Source: Financial Times (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2009


Indeed, the present problem originates in a US "victory" in the war on drugs. In 1984, then Vice-President George H.W. Bush's South Florida Task Force succeeded in bottling up the favoured point of entry for cocaine into the US. The Colombian cartels switched to the longer Pacific seaboard, inevitably godfathering a new cocaine power in north-west Mexico. Mexican cartels were soon buying politicians and policemen, generals and judges.

Mr Calderon's offensive, designed to end this mafia impunity and seize back control, is a bloody and uphill battle; around 10,000 people have been killed over the past two years. As Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, acknowledged on a visit to Mexico last month, it is not just America's "insatiable demand for illegal drugs" that is doing the damage, but licensed U.S. gun dealers. They help keep Mexico's narco-gangs better armed than its army and security services, while the US Congress is cutting back funding that would help redress the balance.

Mexico needs and has the right to expect fuller US co-operation. Both countries need to take down the ultra-violent drugs mafias. The problem is that the economics of illicit drugs ensure new criminal gangs emerge to take their place.

US drugs policy is asymmetrical in its effects on supply and demand. It has led ineluctably to the growth and spread of narcotics production. It subverts the laws of the market by putting a floor price under the product. Interdiction and eradication - especially when successful - provide narcotics with great price resilience. Disruption of supply lifts profits and recapitalises the chains of production and distribution - increasing and diversifying supply in the next phase of the cycle.

Surely it is time for a debate on whether a tightly regulated and internationally agreed decriminalisation of narcotics, along with greater effort to curb demand, is the way to destroy the financial basis of the industry - and take it out of the hands of organised crime.



Pubdate: Tue, 07 Apr 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Duncan Campbell

The regulated legalisation of drugs would have major benefits for taxpayers, victims of crime, local communities and the criminal justice system, according to the first comprehensive comparison between the cost-effectiveness of legalisation and prohibition. The authors of the report, which is due to be published today, suggest that a legalised, regulated market could save the country around UKP 14bn.

For many years the government has been under pressure to conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of the current drugs policy, but has failed to do so despite calls from MPs. Now the drugs reform charity, Transform, has commissioned its own report, examining all aspects of prohibition from the costs of policing and investigating drugs users and dealers to processing them through the courts and their eventual incarceration.


"The conclusion is that regulating the drugs market is a dramatically more cost-effective policy than prohibition and that moving from prohibition to regulated drugs markets in England and Wales would provide a net saving to taxpayers, victims of crime, communities, the criminal justice system and drug users of somewhere within the range of, for the four scenarios, UKP 13.9bn, UKP 10.8bn, UKP 7.7bn, UKP 4.6bn."

Titled a Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs, the report uses government figures on the costs of crime to assess the potential benefits and disadvantages of change.


Taxing drugs would also provide big revenue gains, says the survey. An Independent Drug Monitoring Unit estimate, quoted in the report, suggests up to UKP 1.3bn could be generated by a UKP 1 per gram tax on cannabis resin and UKP 2 per gram on skunk.

The report follows calls for legalisation or a full debate on reform. Last month, the Economist concluded: "Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution."



Pubdate: Tue, 07 Apr 2009
Source: Financial Times (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2009
Author: Nicholas Timmins


Transform, a charity founded to challenge the validity of drugs policy, carried out what it claimed was the first thoroughgoing analysis of the costs and benefits of prohibition compared with a legal, controlled market. It found the policy of prohibition "is delivering precisely the opposite of the government's stated claims".


The Home Office argues the benefits of legalisation would be outweighed by the costs. But Transform maintains that the Home Office has never undertaken a full assessment.

Steve Rolles, Transform's head of research, said research to fill "substantial gaps" must be commissioned, and a full academic study undertaken along with independent analysis by the Audit Commission.


Mr Rolles said: "Even by the government's own measures it is now clear that drug enforcement is causing more harm than the drugs themselves. There can no longer be any excuses for not carrying out a comprehensive impact assessment to count the costs of its drugs policy."

The Home Office said: "Legalisation would risk a huge increase in consumption with an associated cost to public health. It would not eliminate the crime committed by organised career criminals."


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Renee Wolfe from Ann Arbor became the first to apply in person Monday to join the Michigan Medical Marijuana Registry. A group of 55 people chartered a bus to take them from a Lansing cafe to a nearby state office building to pay $100 and file paperwork. Video at


Chris Goldstein of Active Voice Radio talks to congressmen about hemp. Paul is in the first link, Frank in the second.


A Cancer Patient Finds a Cure and Love in Ecuador

By Adam Elenbaas, Reality Sandwich. Posted April 8, 2009.

Margaret De Wys's cancer battle led to a life-altering romantic relationship with the shaman who healed her.


A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs


American Violet is based on the true story of one of those horribly destructive and racist drug war situations involving a snitch and the arrests of dozens of African-Americans in Hearne, Texas who often had no recourse but to plead guilty, even when they were innocent.


MPP-TV just released a video highlighting the need to tax and regulate marijuana. This piece is especially relevant now that California is considering groundbreaking reform legislation that has triggered a national discussion about the wisdom of marijuana prohibition.


Century of Lies - 04/05/09 - Roger Goodman

Roger Goodman, a Washington State Rep. and director of the King County Bar Associations' drug policy group, discusses regulation and rules necessary to end drug prohibition + US Senator Jim Webb outlines the need to reform America's prison industrial complex.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/08/09 - Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald speech to Cato Institute about 7 years of decrim in Portugal, intro by Tim Lynch + Corrupt Cop Story with Phil Smith & Terry Nelson for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition


by Kevin Zeese

Webb Faces Up to the U.S. Incarceration Machine, Seeks Re-thinking the War on Drugs



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #399 - Monday, 6 April 2009

Michigan's law sends a strong message to elected and appointed officials at all levels of government that marijuana is medicine - reinforce that message.


New York residents: Thank Governor Paterson for signing the Rockefeller reform bill into law


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's cops, judges and prosecutors are fighting on the front lines of the war against the "war on drugs," but definitely cannot win without the help of citizen supporters like you. If you make a one-time or monthly donation of $5 or more today, they will mail you a LEAP badge pin that you can proudly wear.



By Hendrik de Pagter

Re: Martin pushes softer pot law, April 2

Good for local MP Keith Martin trying yet again, via a private member's bill, to reduce the horrific damage done by the war on drugs. Fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana, instead of criminal charges, is a step in the right direction.

Victoria city councillor Philippe Lucas offers a more sensible option, the legalization and regulation of marijuana, just as alcohol and tobacco products are legal and regulated, generating tax revenue but not depriving adults of the right to consume what are well-known to be dangerous drugs ( nicotine and ethyl alcohol ) with serious impact on informed individuals and our health system.

Whether or not marijuana is legalized, there will always be substance abuse. Such is human nature.

Regulation is therefore needed to prevent children from accessing marijuana.

The prohibition model, epitomized by the fruitless multi-decade "war on drugs," has given the world the Mafia, widespread vicious drug-gang wars, narco-states such as Afghanistan and Colombia, gross underfunding of addiction treatment and research, and global resentment of America, the world's self-appointed drug cop.

Martin is right. Substance abuse ought to be a medical and social issue rather than a legal issue. Lucas points the way: legalize, regulate and tax marijuana now.

Hendrik de Pagter Victoria

Source: Victoria Times
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist


DrugSense recognizes Ralph Givens of Daly City, California for his nine published letters during March, which brings his total published letters that we know of to 56. You may read his published letters at:



By Dan Gardner

Writing in The American Interest, esteemed political scientist Francis Fukuyama called on the United States to do more to help Mexico in its battle with the drug trade -- namely by boosting security on both sides of the border and assisting reform of the Mexican justice system. So far, so routine. But then Fukuyama made an interesting observation.

The ultimate source of the problem, Fukuyama noted, is American demand for illicit drugs -- and "the most straightforward way to reduce demand, of course, would be legalization under a tightly controlled regime."

Note the phrase "of course." Fukuyama is a leading American thinker, a conservative, whose views are widely respected by powerful people. And he is saying, almost with a shrug, that it's perfectly obvious that legalization would do away with the most terrible problems associated with illicit drugs.

But then politics rushes in. "While legalization has been proposed by many people over the years," Fukuyama writes, "it has very little chance of being enacted by Congress, and therefore is not for the time being a realistic policy choice."

For those of us who think the criminal prohibition of the production, sale, and possession of ( some ) drugs is the single most destructive public policy of the last century, Fukuyama's argument may be frustrating. First, he raises the possibility that serious policy thinkers finally get it. Then, he dismisses legalization as a fantasy.

But keep some history in mind.

"There is as much chance of repealing the 18th Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail," claimed Morris Sheppard, a U.S. Senator from Texas.

The 18th Amendment was the constitutional provision banning alcohol. It was passed in 1920. Sheppard made his statement in 1930.

The 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933.

Sheppard wasn't the only one caught out by history. Far from it.

"They can never repeal it," boasted Congressman Andrew Volstead in 1921.

"I will never see the day when the 18th Amendment is out of the Constitution of the U.S.," said Senator William Borah in 1929.

Prohibition's supporters had good reason to be confident. Legalization wasn't merely unpopular. It required an amendment to the constitution. "Thirteen states with a population less than that of New York State alone can prevent repeal until Halley's Comet returns," Clarence Darrow observed when Prohibition came into force in 1920. "One might as well talk about his summer vacation on Mars."

So what happened? Prohibition failed, for one thing. It failed blatantly, spectacularly. Instead of the sunny nation where children grew up innocent of the evils of alcohol, the United States became the land of bathtub gin and speakeasies. It also became the land of opportunity for every thug looking to make big money, which inevitably meant corruption and gangland violence on a scale never before experienced.

But just as important was the coming of the Great Depression. While the economy roared, most people were prepared to put up with an idealistic, but futile crusade. But with banks crashing and unemployment soaring, Prohibition felt like what it was -- an asinine waste of time and money.

The solution became something obvious. It became something you describe with the phrase "of course." Of course alcohol should be legalized. Of course. In the end, Prohibition went quietly.

No, I don't think we are at our own "of course" moment, notwithstanding Francis Fukuyama's "of course." But it is conceivable we are heading that way.

In private conversations, I have heard many senior people say "of course." I suspect the number of those thinking "of course" grows daily.

CNN's coverage of the bloodshed in Mexico has repeatedly raised legalization as an option worth debating. That's a big change.

Critically, however, we lack the personal experience that people had when they judged alcohol prohibition a failure. Most people today don't know that drugs have not always been criminalized. Fewer still know that when drugs were legal, they were not a source of ghettoes, gang wars, and narco-states.

They do know, however, that developed countries spend tens of billions of dollars every year trying to stamp out the illicit drug trade. And they do know drugs are cheaper and more widely available than ever.

They also know we face an economic crisis. As in 1933, they may conclude that there are better ways to spend precious tax dollars than trying to enforce unenforceable laws.

The political barrier remains massive, but in politics even the mightiest wall can turn to vapour with startling speed -- a fact Fukuyama implicitly acknowledged when he said legalization was not a realistic policy choice "for the time being."

It was impossible that alcohol would be legalized only a few years before it was legalized. It was impossible that a black man would become president of the United States in the year that the black president of the United States was born.

The history of politics is stuffed with such transformation. Only 15 years ago, the NDP government of Ontario tore itself apart over a modest plan to extend benefits to same-sex partners. Gay marriage? Gay marriage was a fantasy. And today, that fantasy is law.

Never doubt that hummingbirds can fly to Mars.

Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Note: This will be Dan Gardner's last regular column for six months.


"Chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by making you happy. Therefore, it counteracts depression, in turn reducing the stress of depression. Your stress-free life helps you maintain a youthful disposition, both physically and mentally. So, eat lots of chocolate!" -- Elaine Sherman, Book of Divine Indulgences

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