This Just In
(1)Strip Searches at School: Discipline Gone Too Far?
(2)123 Arrested In Huge Hells Angels Raid
(3)Calderon, Obama Vow to Battle Drug Cartels
(4)Medical Pot Law Gets First Test

Hot Off The 'Net
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-Baltimore Narc Debates Bush's Dea Head
-The Jon Dore Television Show - "Jon Does Drugs"

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 16 Apr 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

Court Case Tests Limits of Anti-Drug Programs

SAFFORD, Ariz. -- Eighth-grader Savana Redding was scared and confused when an assistant principal searching for drugs ordered her out of math class, searched her backpack and then instructed an administrative aide and school nurse to conduct a strip search.

"I went into the nurse's office and kept following what they asked me to do," Savana, now 19, recalls of the incident six years ago that she says still leaves her shaken and humiliated. "I thought, 'What could I be in trouble for?'"

That morning, another student had been caught with prescription-strength ibuprofen and had told the assistant principal, Kerry Wilson, that she'd gotten the pills from Savana. The nurse and administrative assistant, both women, were alone with Savana in the nurse's office when they asked the girl to take off her shoes and socks, then her shirt and pants. The two women then asked Savana to pull open her bra and panties so they could see whether she was hiding any pills. None was found.

Drug searches, along with drug tests for students in athletics and other extracurricular activities, have become common in schools across the nation, but the search of Savana at Safford Middle School on Oct. 8, 2003, ignited a legal dispute that has landed before the U.S. Supreme Court -- and could transform the landscape of drug searches in public schools.

On Tuesday, the nine justices will hear Safford officials' appeal of a lower court's decision that said the administrators violated Savana's constitutional rights and should be held financially responsible.

Attorneys for the Safford school district, about 80 miles east of Tucson in the Pinaleno Mountains, portray the school as "on the front lines of a decades-long war against drug abuse among students" and defend the search of Savana as necessary.

They echo the concerns of administrator groups nationwide who say increasingly younger students are experimenting with drugs and are abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

They cite a 2006 Office of National Drug Control Policy report that said more than 2.1 million teens abused prescription drugs in 2005 and that youths ages 12-17 abused prescription drugs more than any other illicit drug except marijuana.

If the Supreme Court upholds the search, it will give administrators broad discretion on drug searches across the board.




Pubdate: Thu, 16 Apr 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Paul Cherry, Canwest News Service

Full-Patch-Member-Turned-Informant Aided In Quebec Bust

( CNS ) The tough shell of secrecy that protected the Hells Angels in Quebec for years finally cracked during an investigation that has produced the arrests of almost the gang's entire membership in Quebec.

Canwest News Service has learned the key to the investigation that generated the arrests of 123 people Wednesday in Operation SharQc involved a full-patch member of the gang who turned informant, an extremely rare occurrence in Quebec.

According to two sources familiar with the investigation, Sylvain Boulanger, a former sergeant-at-arms in the gang's Sherbrooke chapter, supplied investigators with information about an important vote the gang's membership across the province held in July 1994.

Hells Angels across Quebec essentially voted in favour of engaging in the bloody turf war, with rival gangs such as the Rock Machine and Dark Circle, that ran from 1994 to 2002 and involved the deaths of more than 160 people, including several innocent victims.

At least two other informants, Martin Roy and another man, both former underlings in the gang's vast drug trafficking network, gave evidence in support of the investigation. The fact that Roy was an informant was already revealed in Operation South, an investigation that produced the arrests of several Hells Angels in Montreal a few years ago.

In past investigations, the Regional Integrated Squads who investigate biker gangs could only rely on underlings such as Roy for inside information. Having an actual full-patch member supply information about the gang's operation has not been witnessed in decades. A few Hells Angels ditched their loyalty to the gang after the 1985 Lennoxville Purge, when the gang killed five of its own members at a bunker near Sherbrooke, Que. But since then, getting a Hells Angel to ditch his colours and turn his back against a gang that demands fierce loyalty appeared to be impossible in Quebec.

Wednesday's roundup represented an unprecedented strike against one of the biggest criminal organizations in the province with 111 full-patch Hells Angels arrested or sought on arrest warrants.




Pubdate: Fri, 17 Apr 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Agence France-Presse
Author: Laurent Lozano, Agence France-Presse

First Trip by U. S. President to Mexico in 12 Years

Barack Obama, the U. S. President, and Mexican leader Felipe Calderon vowed to tackle Mexico's violent drug cartels together at the start of Mr. Obama's brief, but symbolic first visit south of the border.

It was also his first trip to Latin America since taking office in January and the first to Mexico by a U. S. president in 12 years.

He was greeted by a sea of screaming schoolchildren, waving U. S. and Mexican flags, at the presidential residence Los Pinos, before talks with Mr. Calderon, who has gambled his presidency on the battle against traffickers.

"At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the border, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue ... also on our side of the border in dealing with the flow of guns and cash south," Mr. Obama said.

On the eve of his visit, Mr. Obama slapped sanctions on three drug cartels and named a top U. S. official to stiffen enforcement on the southern border.




Pubdate: Fri, 17 Apr 2009
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Author: Lisa Roose-Church, Daily Press & Argus

A defense attorney will appeal a Livingston County judge's decision that the state's new medical marijuana law does not retroactively apply to his client, who allegedly grew marijuana in his backyard for medicinal purposes.

Judge David Reader's ruling is the first in the state to test a law passed in November by 63 percent of the voters and which went into full effect April 4 when the Michigan Department of Community Health began accepting applications from patients and caregivers seeking registry identification cards under the law.

Farmington Hills defense attorney Barry Resnick said he will appeal the decision.

Ryan Andrew Burke was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, a four-year felony, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana after undercover narcotics officers received a tip Aug. 18 that he was growing marijuana at his Pine Hill Trail home.

Police say they found 13 marijuana plants in 23-year-old Burke's backyard as well as remnants of marijuana in three bags of discarded garbage.





Activists want the government to tell the truth about medical cannabis. The government maintains it has the right to lie. The court case continues.

The Obama administration has announced the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. And, the chorus of voices calling for a real debate about drug policy continues to grow. This week that chorus included a retired DEA agent as well as a convicted smuggler.


Pubdate: Wed, 15 Apr 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

A medical marijuana advocacy group and the Obama administration argued Tuesday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco over a private citizen's right to force the government to correct alleged misstatements - in this case, about the therapeutic properties of pot.

Americans for Safe Access filed suit in San Francisco two years ago under the Information Quality Act, a federal law that allows members of the public to "seek and obtain correction" of false or misleading government information that affects them.

The organization said its members include seriously ill people who had been discouraged from using marijuana by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' long-standing position that the drug has no medical value. The department declined to respond to the suit, saying the Drug Enforcement Administration was still considering the advocacy group's 2002 request to reconsider the status of marijuana.

On Tuesday, a Justice Department lawyer told the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the law allowing private citizens to seek correction of government misinformation can't be enforced in court.

Congress created "no judicially enforceable rights" when it passed the Information Quality Act in 2000, said attorney Alisa Klein. She said the law requires only that a federal agency review such requests from members of the public; otherwise, she said, courts would be flooded with demands to second-guess government decisions on countless subjects.

The government's position would make the law meaningless, argued Alan Morrison, the lawyer for Americans for Safe Access. Although some disputes are too subjective for court intervention, he said, others can be measured objectively - for example, "two plus two is four and not five" - and the law gives judges a role in keeping the government on track.




Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company

PHILADELPHIA -- In another clear break from past policy, President Obama announced Friday that he intended to nominate as the nation's No. 2 drug czar a scientist often considered the No. 1 researcher on addiction and treatment.

A. Thomas McLellan, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, will be charged with reducing demand for drugs, a part of the foreign-supply-and-domestic-demand equation that many policy experts say has been underemphasized for years.

"We're blown away. He understands," said Stephen J. Pasierb, president and chief executive of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, that addiction "is a parent, a family, a child issue."

If confirmed by the Senate, McLellan will be deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which advises the president and coordinates anti-drug efforts. Obama last month nominated Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to head the office.

Kerlikowske's reputation for innovative approaches to law enforcement and McLellan's stature as a treatment scientist make them "a perfect match," Pasierb said.

Although hardly known outside his field, McLellan is regarded as a leading researcher on a range of addiction-related issues.

As a scientist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Philadelphia in the 1980s, he led development of two measures, known as the addiction severity index and treatment services review, that characterized multiple dimensions of substance abuse. The tools, used worldwide, help determine the type and duration of treatment.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 2009
Source: Virginia Gazette, The (Williamsburg, VA)
Copyright: 2009 The Virginia Gazette
Author: David L. Westrate

Professor George W. Grayson's new book, "Mexico's Struggle With Drugs and Thugs," could not be more timely. It is a must read to understand what is going on in Mexico today.

We are bombarded with news stories of the unprecedented violence in Mexico, particularly in the northern border areas along the United States. The situation is commonly referred to as a war, and commentators speculate daily whether Mexico will deteriorate into a failed state, with unthinkable consequences for the United States.


Grayson poses two questions about the prospects for U.S.-Mexican relations. (1) Continue the war on drugs? ( 2 ) Think about the unthinkable: decriminalization? He provides discussion questions for students and groups in a "talking it over" section that's followed by an annotated reading list.

An appendix describes in detail eight Mexican cartels with an accurate assessment of their strength and the challenge both governments face. The reader can quickly grasp the seriousness of the situation.

Professor Grayson has produced a book that is a must read for all of us concerned with this issue.




Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Brian O'Dea

I was one of the "masterminds" behind the importation and sale of approximately 75 tons of pot from Southeast Asia to the U.S. in 1986 and 1987. It was the culmination of a 20-year career as a drug smuggler, a deal that netted in excess of $180 million wholesale. And the only thing the government got out of those drug hauls was the sales tax from the cash my gang spent. There were, of course, some financial forfeitures once my gang was finally rounded up some years later. However, had rational minds prevailed over the past 70-plus years, the U.S. government would have reaped huge benefits from organizations like ours.

But no. Rather than accept the fact that some 30 million Americans cannot possibly be criminals, our society has squandered almost a trillion dollars in a futile effort to stop drug use.

We're hearing a lot about drug-related violence in Mexico these days. But listening to the news recently, I heard of a police sweep in Toronto-where I live some months out of the year. The operation involved more than 1,000 police officers and netted, among other things, a vast quantity of firearms, including loaded AK-47s, sawed-off shotguns and 34 handguns, none of which were obtained legally. These weapons came from the United States and were smuggled north. Here is how it works ( I know firsthand ): Canadian gangs grow pot in apartment buildings, putting everyone who lives there in danger. Once harvested, the pot is traded to U.S. gangs for cocaine and guns. America's arcane drug laws provide the currency for these gangs to exist.

South of the border, it's even worse. Some analysts say Mexico is on the slipperiest of slopes toward becoming a failed state, and illegal drugs are playing a huge part. Drug traffickers are able to operate only because they have currency. Take away the currency, you take away the drug traffickers.

In my days in that business, guns were nowhere to be found. Now, however, I cannot imagine anyone being in the trade without a gun. It has to stop, but how?




The law enforcement aspect of the drug war continues to intensify in Canada.


Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Authors: Janice Tibbetts And Valerie Fortney

Canadians have no constitutional right to the privacy of the trash they set outside for collection, as a Calgary man learned Thursday.

Russell Stephen Patrick will have to begin serving a four-year prison sentence after the Supreme Court of Canada, in a7-0 decision, ruled he had no right to privacy after police, during a 2003 investigation, picked through his trash on the curb.

Patrick, convicted of producing and trafficking ecstasy, argued in a court hearing last fall that police violated his rights against unreasonable search and seizure when they rummaged through his rubbish in the middle of the night, obtaining enough evidence to obtain a warrant to search his home which led to the charges.

The former University of Calgary swimming star, who once held national and world records, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2006.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Kirk Makin

The Supreme Court of Canada said yesterday that governments have the right to sift through personal garbage once it reaches your property line, concluding a classic contest over property rights.

In a 7-0 ruling, the court said the rubbish is fair game for police, tax investigators or any other government scrutineer.

The decision means that Russell Patrick, a former record-holding swimmer on the Canadian swim team, will spend four years in prison for drug offences that came to light after police snatched garbage bags from behind his Calgary home on Dec. 17, 2003.




Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Kelly Sinoski

They might still get calls for dope, but some North Vancouver drug dealers will find it harder to deliver as police crack down on dial-a-dopers by seizing their cars.

In the past two weeks, North Vancouver RCMP have arrested and charged five alleged street-level dealers, seizing not only their drugs and money but their wheels. Thirteen charges were laid.

"Five arrests in the last two weeks -- we're pretty happy with that," said RCMP Cpl. Sue Tupper, who heads North Vancouver's crime reduction unit. "With the first three arrests, we basically smashed their drug line and disabled them ... at least temporarily."

Dial-a-dope lines operate much like a pizza delivery service. Customers call a designated drug number and organize a meeting at a specific location. The dealer then sends runners out to deliver the dope.

Tupper said police hope to put a dent in street-level drug crime by hitting dealers in the pocketbook and making it hard for runners to deliver the drugs.

"It's a pain for them when this happens," she said. "That's the bottom line for them, the dollars."

In the latest arrest, Soroosh Nassimdoost, 26, was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession for trafficking. Police also seized his leased Honda.




Pubdate: Wed, 15 Apr 2009
Source: Standard Freeholder (Cornwall, CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: David Nesseth

Town Hall meeting set for April 22, 7 p.m., at Nativity Hall, 301 McConnell Ave.

The city's controversial drug search warrant sign program is on hold after local police recently submitted their side of the story to the provincial privacy commission.

Chief Dan Parkinson of the Cornwall Community Police Service said only "a half-dozen" of the real estate-like signs were planted in Cornwall before he halted the initiative not only to appease civil libertarians, but to get feedback from the community in the form of a town hall style meeting.

"It's out of an abundance of caution and sensitivity," said Parkinson, who launched the sign program in January to visibly publicize execution of drug search warrants.

The catalyst for the search warrant signs was actually town hall meetings held more than a year ago.

The message Parkinson got from the community was mainly a question: What are police doing to stop crime?




New Hampshire is pondering becoming the 14th state to regulate medicinal cannabis, in the face of the usual dire predictions from the usual opponents.

Now that the Obama administration has pledged to tolerate medicinal cannabis dispensaries in compliance with state regulations, the "next step" may be cash-strapped municipal governments muscling in on the action.

A new study has found that smoking cannabis may make smoking tobacco worse for you. Another good reason, short of criminal sanctions, to not smoke tobacco.

It may be a little disconcerting to some veteran cannabis law reformers to have their arguments finally taken seriously and repeated in the mainstream media.


Pubdate: Wed, 15 Apr 2009
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2009 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Kevin Landrigan

CONCORD - Wheelchair-bound Clayton Holden, 23, said that at least 10 times, police in this state have approached but never arrested him for smoking marijuana.

"They took one look at me, one look at my condition, and they tell me to be careful and have a good day," Holden told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

Since he was 10, Holden has suffered from Duchene Muscular Dystrophy and found using marijuana dulls the chronic pain and allows him to have to use less other medication to function.

Holden spoke near the close of a three-hour hearing on a controversial bill to legalize the use of marijuana for those with a "debilitating medical condition."

Strong opposition from a state prosecutor and State Police lieutenant interrupted a steady stream of patients, supportive legislators and advocates, all of whom want to make New Hampshire the 14th state to legalize medical use of marijuana.

The House of Representatives passed the bill (HB 648) by a healthy margin last month.

Gov. John Lynch said he's concerned that marijuana possession would remain against the law but has declined to say whether he would veto this bill if the state Senate passed it.

Assistant Attorney General Karin Eckel testified Tuesday that this effort is a stalking horse for those who want to more broadly legalize marijuana use.

"Clearly if this bill is passed into law, it will only fuel the growing, largely unregulated criminal enterprise that is sweeping our country under the guise of medical marijuana," Eckel said.




Pubdate: Wed, 15 Apr 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer

San Francisco would be the first city in the nation to sell and distribute medical marijuana under legislation proposed Tuesday by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

Mirkarimi, who spearheaded legislation more than three years ago to regulate the city's proliferating medical marijuana dispensaries, asked the city attorney to craft a measure that would create a pilot program for medical cannabis sales. The details are still being worked out, Mirkarimi said, but he envisions a pilot program under which the Department of Public Health could distribute pot to medical marijuana patients of city clinics.

Mirkarimi called the legislation the "next step" toward codifying the state laws that legalized medical marijuana, adding that he wanted to introduce the legislation in 2005 when the city was passing the laws regulating the city's marijuana clubs. But he said he waited out of concern that federal law does not recognize California's legalization of medical marijuana.

However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last month that federal authorities would prosecute only "those people who violate both federal and state law," implying that the government no longer would try to shut down California pot dispensaries.

"We're spending much more money keeping marijuana underground, trying to hide a fact that is occurring all around us," Mirkarimi said. "Now is the time to take responsibility for something we've deflected to others and to test our ability to take responsibility."

Mayor Gavin Newsom's office wasn't so sure. Although the mayor supports medical marijuana, Newsom has said he does not favor efforts to legalize pot, and his office was noncommittal about the proposal for the city to sell it.

"The mayor will have to hash this out with public health officials," press secretary Nathan Ballard said. "It's the mayor's job to weed out bad legislation. And to be blunt, this sounds pretty bad."




Pubdate: Tue, 14 Apr 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Carly Weeks
Referenced: The study

Smokers who light up an occasional joint may be putting themselves at a dramatically higher risk of developing chronic lung disease, according to a new study by Canadian researchers.

The findings indicate that marijuana, even in small doses, seems to accelerate the harmful effects of smoking and greatly boosts respiratory problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The disease, which is often caused by smoking, actually encompasses a few disorders, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD often have difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, and experience increased coughing. It's one of the leading causes of death in Canada.

In the study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers found that, as expected, smokers were at an increased risk of developing COPD. But that risk was much higher among those who smoked cigarettes as well as marijuana, according to Wan Tan of the James Hogg iCapture Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, based at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

"Smoking marijuana and cigarettes is harmful for your lungs even in small amounts if you smoke them together," said Dr. Tan, who is the study's lead author.

But the risk of developing COPD was not heightened among those study participants who said they smoked only marijuana.




Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer

Marijuana has been a part of the American cultural landscape for nearly a century, tried by millions - including, apparently, the last three presidents and the current California governor.

So why has it taken so long to arrive at a political moment of truth - - a full national debate about the legalization, taxation and regulation of cannabis?

Experts say an unprecedented confluence of factors might finally be driving a change on a topic once seen as politically too hot to handle.

Among them: the recession-fueled need for more public revenue, increased calls to redirect scarce law enforcement, court and prison resources, and a growing desire to declaw powerful and violent Mexican drug cartels. Also in the mix is a public opinion shift driven by a generation of Baby Boomers, combined with some new high-profile calls for legislation - including some well-known conservative voices joining with liberals.

Leading conservatives like former Secretary of State George Shultz and the late economist Milton Friedman years ago called for legalization and a change in the strategy in the war on drugs. This year mainstream pundits like Fox News' Glenn Beck and CNN's Jack Cafferty have publicly questioned the billions spent each year fighting the endless war against drugs and to suggest it now makes more financial and social sense to tax and regulate marijuana.

"It's a combination of all these things coming together at once and producing that 'aha' moment," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, who for years has monitored the wavering political winds on the subject. He says so much has changed in recent months that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, it looks possible."

"If you'd asked me 10 years ago - or three years ago - I would have said it will be a long, slow slog," he said. "And now, it looks like it might happen faster than any of us believed."




A national talk about marijuana decriminalization in Mexico this week, as the Mexican Congress debates "legalizing marijuana for personal use". The timing of the Congressional debate - immediately before U.S. President Obama arrived for talks - seems designed to send a message to the colossus north of the border. The idea of legalization has been gaining strength in Mexico as the U.S.-financed drug war escalation by Mexican President Calderon fails and backfires spectacularly.

A piece from Ottawa Citizen columnist Dan Gardner this week highlights the possibilities for drug legalization - "the most straightforward way to reduce demand, of course," according to political scientist Francis Fukuyama. While drug prohibitionists may suppose legalization is a remote possibility, the same was true of alcohol prohibition a few short years before it too, was repealed. "The history of politics is stuffed with such transformation," notes Gardner.

From the U.K.'s Financial Times newspaper, author Clive Cook gives an overview of the "criminally stupid" regime of drug prohibition in the U.S. The "country's implacable blend of prohibition and punitive criminal justice is wrong-headed in every way: immoral in principle, since it prosecutes victimless crimes, and in practice a disaster of remarkable proportions," yet politicians can't stop ratcheting up drug-punishments all the same. "The consequences of prohibition corrupt governments everywhere, and the U.S. is no exception," notes Cook.

And finally from Colombia, ultra-right President Alvaro Uribe may not be able to stop drugs in any way shape or form, but he seems to have discovered a way to get Colombians to take more marijuana. You see, Colombians may legally possess up to 20 grams of cannabis, and have been able to do so since 1993. But only 2.3 percent of Colombians use cannabis - as compared to 5.8 percent of Americans who regularly take cannabis illegally. Uribe has been itching to remove Colombian citizens' right to take cannabis for years, but now appears to have growing political backing for a forced-treatment bill re-criminalizing marijuana users there. "Drug users are not criminals; they are sick," explained Interior Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio. And government only wants to help.


Pubdate: Tue, 14 Apr 2009
Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)
Copyright: 2009 Arizona Daily Star

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's Congress opened a three-day debate Monday on the merits of legalizing marijuana for personal use, a policy backed by three former Latin American presidents who warned that a crackdown on drug cartels is not working.

Although President Felipe Calderon has opposed the idea, the unprecedented forum shows legalizing marijuana is gaining support in Mexico amid brutal drug violence.

Such a measure would be sure to strain relations with the United States at a time when the two countries are stepping up cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. The congressional debate - open to academics, experts and government officials - ends a day before President Obama arrives in Mexico for talks on the drug war.


The congressional discussion takes on a subject "that had been taboo" in our country, said opposition lawmaker Javier Gonzalez, adding that his Democratic Revolution Party supports legalizing personal marijuana consumption.

"What we don't want is to criminalize youths for consuming or possessing marijuana," he said.


In 2006, Mexico backed off a law that would have abolished prison sentences for drug possession in small amounts after the U.S. protested.




Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen

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."


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."


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.


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."


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.




Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: Financial Times (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2009
Author: Clive Crook

How much misery can a policy cause before it is acknowledged as a failure and reversed? The U.S. "war on drugs" suggests there is no upper limit. The country's implacable blend of prohibition and punitive criminal justice is wrong-headed in every way: immoral in principle, since it prosecutes victimless crimes, and in practice a disaster of remarkable proportions. Yet for a U.S. politician to suggest wholesale reform of this brainless regime is still seen as an act of reckless self-harm.

Even a casual observer can see that much of the damage done in the U.S. by illegal drugs is a result of the fact that they are illegal, not the fact that they are drugs. Vastly more lives are blighted by the brutality of prohibition, and by the enormous criminal networks it has created, than by the substances themselves. This is true of cocaine and heroin as well as of soft drugs such as marijuana. But the assault on consumption of marijuana sets the standard for the policy's stupidity.

Nearly half of all Americans say they have tried marijuana. That makes them criminals in the eyes of the law. Luckily, not all of them have been found out - but when one is grateful that most law-breakers go undetected, there is something wrong with the law.


The consequences of prohibition corrupt governments everywhere, and the U.S. is no exception. Since a drug transaction has no victims in the ordinary sense, witnesses to assist a prosecution are in short supply. US drug-law enforcement tends to infringe civil liberties, relying on warrantless searches, entrapment, extorted testimony in the form of plea bargains, and so forth.




Pubdate: Mon, 13 Apr 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Sibylla Brodzinsky

President Alvaro Uribe Has Not Given Up On His Campaign To Get Personal Drug Use Outlawed.


The Colombian Congress this month will begin discussing a bill introduced by the government that would prohibit possession of any drug and would punish addicts and drug users with mandatory clinical treatment.

The bill would overturn a 1994 Constitutional Court sentence which ruled that prohibiting the use of drugs violated the right to "free development of personality" set forth in Colombia's constitution. Since then, adults can possess up to 20 grams of marijuana and one gram of cocaine for consumption in the privacy of their homes.


The latest drug-use survey, conducted by the Uribe administration last year and released in February, showed 2.3 percent of Colombians admitted using marijuana at least once in the past year, while less than 1 percent admitted using cocaine in the last 12 months. In the United States, 5.8 percent used marijuana and 0.8 percent used cocaine, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


"If [the government bill] is approved, Colombia will not be a country free of drugs. It will be a less free country," wrote Alfredo Rangel, a security analyst who usually supports Uribe's initiatives, in a recent column.


"Drug users are not criminals; they are sick. The state will offer the possibility of rehabilitation," Interior Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio said on presenting the text of the bill.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Allie Brody

"It should be common sense that scaring students won't help them any to make smarter decisions."


by Radley Balko

As he leaves on a trip to Mexico, the president looks poised to continue the same ruinous drug policies and the same failing tactics in the war on drugs.

MAPS NEWS APRIL 2009  ( Top )


By Paul Armentano

Even the most mainstream figures are now taking the idea of legalizing and taxing pot seriously -- budget-crunched governments should listen.


Century of Lies - 04/12/09 - Terry Nelson

CNN Power Lunch with Rob Kampia of Marijuana Policy Project, Soros production on UN Drug Policy + Terry Nelson of LEAP on Al Jazeera & with Anderson Cooper.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/15/09 - Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald presentation to the Cato Institute regarding 7 successful years of drug decriminalization in Portugal 2/2 + Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.


Retired Baltimore narcotics officer Neill Franklin debates President Bush's former DEA administrator, Asa Hutchinson, on the issue of legalizing marijuana.


Known to police as a tireless soldier for the war on drugs, Jon assists with the arrest of a pot smoker. Deciding that the only way to understand the true effects of narcotics is through experience, Jon tries them all at once.



We Tried A War Like This Once Before - A DrugSense Focus Alert


Since 1990, IHRA's annual international harm reduction conferences (formerly known as the `International Conferences on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm') have grown in importance and become the main meeting point for all those interested in harm reduction around the world.

In April 2009, the conference will once again come to Thailand, taking place at the Imperial Queen's Park Hotel in Bangkok from the 20th to the 23rd April 2009.


A few weeks ago, the president dismissed the idea of ending marijuana prohibition as a joke. Now that he's in Mexico and seeing first hand the awful effects of prohibition, it's time to make sure he takes it seriously.



By Amy Rogers

Re "It's time to seriously consider ending prohibition on drugs" ( Viewpoints, April 5): Prohibition, whether of alcohol or the illegal drugs du jour, never works in the sense that it fails to eliminate the problem of drug abuse and addiction. What it does is create an entirely new set of problems and costs through supporting violent, organized crime, and the costs of incarceration and criminal justice. Which is more costly to society: a small percentage of legal drug addicts ( who will probably be on welfare, but that's cheaper than jail ), or financing the Taliban and gangs at home, destabilizing Mexican society by corrupting police forces, funding the FARC leftist rebels in Colombia and so many drug-related murders . not to mention billions upon billions of dollars on interdiction and incarceration? It's not a question of whether drug use is bad. It's a practical question of how best to deal with the existence of addictive substances in the natural world.

Amy Rogers Sacramento

Pubdate: Wed, 08 Apr 2009
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)


Ending The Drug War Would End The Violence  ( Top )

By Sheldon Richman

The news media are rife with stories about Mexican drug cartels operating throughout the United States and drug-related violence threatening U.S. cities near the border. Americans are becoming reluctant to cross into Mexican towns for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

Do we need another reason to end the abominable war on "drugs" (a war on people, actually)?

You read that right. The drug trade is violent because the U.S. government persists in trying to eradicate the manufacture, sale, and consumption of certain substances. If there were no drug war, there would be no drug violence. Those who doubt this should ask themselves why violent cartels aren't fighting over the tobacco and liquor trades.

In America we play a dangerous game. We pretend that if the government outlaws a product - such as heroin or cocaine or marijuana - it vanishes. But we know it's not true. The product simply goes into the black market, where anyone who wants it can get it. They still can't keep drugs out of prisons!

The key question is, who provides it? When a product is banned, respectable people tend to stay out of the trade. That leaves it to those who have few scruples - including scruples about the use of violence. Indeed, the black market rewards such people. If a party reneges on a contract for heroin, the other has to take matters into his own hands because he can't sue. Cutthroats prosper.

So we shouldn't be surprised when violence erupts between drug gangs and harms innocent people. While each perpetrator of mayhem is responsible for his actions, we must also condemn the entity that created the environment in which violence pays.

That entity is government. As long as it enforces the ban on drugs, there will be violence within the drug trade. And there will be more than that: police brutality, particularly in minority communities; erosion of civil liberties; corruption of the legal system; prisons full of nonviolent drug consumers; development of more-potent substances; and the enticement of youth - the lure of forbidden fruit.

Those are only the domestic effects. By trying to suppress the growing of coca and poppy in foreign countries, the U.S. government makes enemies for America, creates constituencies for terrorist and guerilla movements, and helps to finance their operations.

Nothing good comes from prohibition. Yet the evils of prohibition are blamed on drug consumers and guns!

So why is there a "war on drugs"? It provides a nice living for demagogic politicians, DEA thugs, and all kinds of "drug-abuse experts" who gladly accept taxpayer money for services no one would pay for willingly. There are big bucks in prohibition, compliments of the taxpayers. The only people less eager for an end to it are the cartel bosses, whose profits would evaporate overnight.

Americans have been systematically propagandized by the aforementioned people into believing that chaos would rule if drugs were legal. How absurd. Most who abstain from forbidden drugs today wouldn't start using them if they became legal tomorrow. Besides, as former drug czar Bill Bennett acknowledges, most consumers of illegal substances are self-responsible. We aren't aware of them because they support their families, hold decent jobs, and pay their bills. Contrary to the anti-drug government-industrial complex, the danger is not in the drug; it's in people and how they choose to use drugs. A drug habit is a choice. True, some people harm themselves with illegal drugs, but other people harm themselves with things that are perfectly legal, such as the drug we call alcohol. To the extent people get hurt because black-market drugs are impure, again the blame belongs largely with government. An open market would offer consumer protection.

In a free society adults would be free to ingest what they want. Drug consumers would be responsible for their actions, but as long as they were peaceful the law would leave them alone.

The drug war should end simply because it is unfit for a free society. Perhaps the latest violence will finally prompt people to think about this outrage.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Visit his blog "Free Association" at


Did you know America ranks the lowest in education but the highest in drug use? It's nice to be number one, but we can fix that. All we need to do is start the war on education. If it's anywhere near as successful as our war on drugs, in no time we'll all be hooked on phonics." - Leighann Lord

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