This Just In
(1)Kerlikowske Sails Through the Senate
(2)Drug Tests For Chess Club? Judge Says No
(3)Epis Ordered Back To Slammer
(4)Column: Marijuana Prohibitionists Are Just Blowing Smoke

Hot Off The 'Net
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-High Times Interview With Rick Doblin Of MAPS
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-First Week Of Global Marijuana March
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-Drug Truth Network
-Ethan Nadelmann On CNN: The Growing Debate To Legalize Marijuana

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 8 May 2009
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times Company

After years of overseeing drug-enforcement policies in the Seattle Police Department, former Chief Gil Kerlikowske now will take what he learned to a national stage.

On Thursday, Kerlikowske, as expected, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position commonly known as "drug czar."

Kerlikowske, a 36-year law-enforcement veteran who has been Seattle's top cop for nine years, has pledged to take a balanced approach to the job using scientific study to shape policy. He also said he will focus on reducing demand for illicit drugs in the United States -- a sharp contrast from the Bush administration's focus on intercepting drugs as they cross the border and punishing drug crimes.

Kerlikowske's official last day as police chief was last Friday. Seattle Deputy Chief John Diaz has been named the city's interim chief and said he will seek the job.

The Senate approved Kerlikowske's nomination 91-1, with a nay from Sen. Tom Coburn ( R-Okla. ).


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Pubdate: Thu, 07 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko

REDDING -- A Northern California high school district's drug testing of students taking part in competitive, nonathletic activities - such as the chess club, math team or school band - is an unjustified invasion of privacy, a judge ruled Wednesday in the first case of its kind in the state.

The Shasta Union High School District presented no evidence that drug use was more likely or more dangerous for those students than for others, said Judge Monica Marlow of Shasta County Superior Court.

She drew a distinction between students in the band or the chess club and student athletes. The state Supreme Court upheld the NCAA's urine testing of college athletes in postseason championship events and bowl games in 1994, saying athletic competitors are accustomed to being monitored and have little expectation of privacy.

Although drug testing has become both expected and accepted in sports, particularly at the college and professional level, Marlow said, "it is not a reasonably expected part of the life of a member of the choir or math club."




Pubdate: Thu, 07 May 2009
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.

Three-Judge Panel Nixes His Med-Pot Appeal

It's been a roller-coaster ride through the judicial system for Bryan Epis ( pictured in a file photo from 2007) ever since the Chico man made history of sorts in June 1997 by becoming the first person in California arrested for growing marijuana for use by medical-marijuana patients. That ride plunged sharply downward recently.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down Epis' appeal of his original 10-year federal prison sentence, of which he has already served two years, ordering him to finish his term.




Pubdate: Fri, 8 May 2009
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Record
Author: Michael Fitzgerald, Record Columnist

The amazing thing about marijuana is its ability to addle the brains of people who don't smoke it.

Saying so may not be the most diplomatic way to begin the debate Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just called for on legalizing marijuana. But then I've lost faith in that debate.

For years, my annual Red Ribbon Week rite was to point out - by marshalling responsible studies, science and common sense - that the war on marijuana has failed at a staggering cost.

Marijuana prohibitionists don't care. There is something blocking their ability to process opposing viewpoints. They are not in a debate, though they'll go through the motions if you engage them.

Then they'll summarily reject the best science in the universe, which says unequivocally marijuana is safe, even medically beneficial. Facts don't count, somehow.

Neither does policy failure. If it did, I'd mention 85 percent of high school seniors surveyed said marijuana is "easy to get."

Waste of time, such data. Blowing billions remains important to marijuana prohibitionists. They are as dissuaded by failure as they are dismissive of fact.

There must be a reason.

In 2005, I found a Nixon-era study that illuminated some of it.

"Many see the drug as fostering a counterculture, which conflicts with basic moral precepts as well as with the operating functions of our society," the report said.

In other words, rational drug policy is an afterthought; pot is a skirmish in the culture war. To defeat it is to defeat the counterculture. Liberalism. Whatever.





Remember all those "get tough" meth laws passed by states and the federal government a few years ago? How they were supposed to stem the tide of meth? In Tennessee, those plans seem to be off track, as the state is seeing meth production rise to levels not recorded since before the new laws.

A California newspaper suggests making some student drug tests a matter of parental choice. In Hailey, Idaho, local officials say a new committee will be formed to explore cannabis policy, but don't expect anyone to listen. And another common sense oped about Mexico will also likely be ignored.


Pubdate: Sun, 03 May 2009
Source: Tennessean, The (Nashville, TN)
Copyright: 2009 The Tennessean
Author: Nicole Young

New Ingredients And Methods Speed Production Of Drug

Tennessee drug agents are witnessing an alarming comeback in the production of methamphetamine.

Police call it the poor man's drug, appealing because it is cheap to make with household ingredients and turns a lucrative profit on the streets. Also, the drug elicits an almost immediate, long-term high that outlasts more expensive drugs. But it can destroy the human body in a matter of months.

"If we stay on course with the seizures this year, we'll be at about 1,300 labs, which brings us back to 2004 figures," said Tommy Farmer, director of the TBI's Methamphetamine Task Force. "It would be the highest number since 2004."

Tennessee ranked third in the nation in meth production in 2008. In the Nashville area, Williamson County stands out for a spike in cases.

The resurgence began when tighter border security made it increasingly difficult to import meth from Mexico, and when producers here discovered they could make meth more quickly and efficiently by using new ingredients and new methods.

Experts say a first-time meth user can get hooked immediately, sometimes with deadly consequences.




Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2009
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record Searchlight

In California, parents have the right to keep their children out of sex education and "family life" classes that contradict their values.

Parents have the right to skip the normally required vaccinations when their children start kindergarten.

So why shouldn't parents have the choice to not subject their children to the drug testing that the Shasta Union High School District recently expanded?

This school year, the district began randomly testing students who participate in all competitive extracurricular activities - such as choir, band and even Science Bowl - in addition to the student-athletes who have long faced random drug screening.

The district's admirable goal is to give students one more reason to say no to drugs - but instead, several families have said no to drug testing and sued the district with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. They had their first day in court Monday, as Judge Monica Marlow considered a request for a temporary injunction blocking the policy's enforcement.

The issue isn't an abstract constitutional debate. One of the students, a senior who will graduate later this spring, would compete in a statewide flute competition Saturday but has refused a drug test as her family fights the policy. Given the hard work involved in reaching that level of musical contest, it's difficult to avoid the impression that the district's policy, however well-intentioned, is punishing the wrong kids.




Pubdate: Wed, 06 May 2009
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2009 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Tony Evans

Group To Pursue Remnants Of Marijuana Initiatives

The city of Hailey will soon have a seven-member committee to oversee all things cannabis. Whether the committee succeeds in reforming marijuana laws will depend on who is on the committee and how motivated they are to push for change.

Hailey voters approved three marijuana and industrial hemp initiatives in 2007 and again in 2008. The initiatives were titled the Hailey Medical Marijuana Act, the Hailey Lowest Police Priority Act and the Hailey Industrial Hemp Act.

The city delayed implementing the initiatives, and instead Mayor Rick Davis, City Councilman Don Keirn and Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter filed a lawsuit last May against the city seeking judicial review of their legality. Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee ruled in March that most of the initiatives' provisions were either contrary to Idaho law, in conflict with "free speech" guarantees of the U.S. Constitution or illegal because they address administrative functions of local government.

But remnants of those ordinances still exist, including a call to form a community oversight committee.

"The people voted for this and they are getting the committee as required," City Attorney Ned Williamson said. "I'm not sure what will come out of them. They were never designed to make laws or implement policy."

The committee will instead make recommendations to the City Council in keeping with the remaining provisions in the three ordinances, which only have portions of the original language approved by voters. The most significant declares the city in support of the legalization of industrial hemp.

Seven committee members will be appointed--one by the mayor, one by the police chief and four by the City Council. The seventh will be appointed by the Liberty Lobby, which began the city's marijuana initiative process in 2007.

"What the committee achieves will depend on who sits on it and how active they are," said Mayor Davis, who is required to hear any recommendations formulated by the committee. "The council will decide if they are worth pursuing or not."




Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2009
Source: Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
Copyright: 2009 The Union Leader Corp.
Author: Isaac Campos

LAST MONTH, Mexico's Congress convened a special forum to consider marijuana policy reform as a remedy for that country's current crisis of violence. The forum bucked a century of staunch prohibitionist history in Mexico, a history that has contributed to the continued criminalization of marijuana use throughout North America.

>From early on, marijuana was portrayed in Mexico as a frightening substance that produced madness in its users. In 1897, Revista Medica, one of Mexico's leading scientific journals, reported that marijuana produced "pleasant visions and hallucinations," an "expansion of the spirit that leads to exaltation" but also an "impulsive delirium" with often fatal consequences: "It is true that in other regions the delirium that is produced by marijuana is a turbulent one, but in our country it reaches the point of furor, terrible and blind impulse, and leads to murder."

Although use of the drug was not widespread at the time, the plant was increasingly seen as a national menace and, in 1920, was banned. Gradually, the idea that marijuana was dangerous seeped into the U.S., fostering American notions of "reefer madness" and eventually helping to inspire marijuana prohibition here as well ( in 1937).

Since then, Mexico has continued to be tough on marijuana, even in the face of softening U.S. attitudes toward the drug. The last time widespread sentiment for marijuana policy reform emerged in the U.S., it was Mexico that leveled some of the harshest criticism against the trend. "We don't accept that marijuana is less important than heroin," Mexican Attorney General Pedro Ojeda Paullada declared in 1974.

A few years later, a scandal over use of the herbicide paraquat on Mexican marijuana fields produced a similar response from Ojeda's successor, Oscar Flores Sanchez. Paraquat spraying, which often failed to completely destroy the targeted crops, led to the sale of poison-soaked pot to unknowing consumers in both countries.

Public outcry in the U.S. inspired congressional action that threatened to eliminate funding for the program if the paraquat spraying continued. Behind closed doors, Flores went ballistic, warning that if the U.S. refused to back Mexico's war on marijuana, Mexico might go soft on heroin, the major U.S. priority of that era.

Mexico is now being forced to re-evaluate these policies. Ironically, decades of being "tough" on drugs has produced a new link between marijuana and violence, but of a different kind. Indeed, the nation's "drug-related" violence today might more accurately be termed "drug-policy-related" violence.



COMMENTS: (9-12)

Drug war corruption seems to be scattered around the U.S., infecting various police departments to certain degrees. But there's an epidemic in one North Carolina town that just lost its last two officers to corruption charges.

Elsewhere, a prosecutor laments a new Supreme Court ruling; the Dutch develop a Cannachopper; and police make a mistaken drug raid in Canada, but unlike their American counterparts, the Canadian police actually expressed regret.


Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2009
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Fayetteville Observer
Author: Drew Brooks and Corey G. Johnson

SPRING LAKE -- The Spring Lake Police Department was stripped of its remaining police powers Monday, and two of its officers were arrested. Sgt. Alfonzo Devone Whittington Jr. and Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. were arrested after being indicted by a special Cumberland County grand jury. About midafternoon, Sheriff Moose Butler and District Attorney Ed Grannis met with Police Chief A.C. Brown and Town Manager Larry Faison to discuss the action being taken against the Police Department. They delivered an order from Chief District Court Judge Beth Keever saying that all criminal work within the town, including misdemeanors, would be handled by the Sheriff's Office.

Grannis also said he plans to dismiss all pending misdemeanor cases filed by Spring Lake officers and will evaluate pending felony cases. The action, which Grannis later called unprecedented, has in effect stripped Spring Lake police of any remaining powers.

The Sheriff's Office set up a mobile command unit at the Spring Lake Family Resource Center on Odell Road. Butler said roughly four deputies on rotating shifts will work out of that location.

Starting today, all emergency calls in the town will be forwarded to the Sheriff's Office. Residents who need assistance should call 323-1500. Butler could not say how long his officers would handle Spring Lake's investigations.




Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 2009
Source: Port Orchard Independent (WA)
Copyright: 2009 Port Orchard Independent
Author: Charlie Bermant

The Kitsap County Prosecutor's office has expressed concern about a Supreme Court decision that narrows the definition of vehicular searches, saying that it will change how policemen do their jobs while forcing the dismissal of several criminal cases.

"There is no upside to this," said Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Casad of the decision. "Unless you are a criminal, and trafficking in stolen property or drugs."

A Port Orchard criminal attorney disagrees, and feels the ruling is not so significant.

"This is neither bad nor good," Eric Fong said. "It is a further evolution of the interpretation of the Constitution, and the definition of individual rights.

This is just a shift in the landscape."




Pubdate: Thu, 30 Apr 2009
Source: Der Spiegel (Germany)
Copyright: 2009 Der Spiegel

Dutch police unveiled the brand new "Cannachopper" on Tuesday, the latest addition to their crime-fighting arsenal. The unmanned mini-helicopter is fitted with diagnostic and surveillance instruments allowing it to detect cannabis plants from the air.

The Organized Crime Task Force developed the chopper, which can stay in the air for hours at a time. The Dutch police are hoping to make great strides in their bid to uncover illegal cannabis plants.

The cultivation of the plant is a big business in the Netherlands, with profits estimated to have reached over 2 billion in 2008 alone. Only around 10 percent of the crops are sold legally in the country's many coffee shops, according to the Dutch police. The vast majority of it is smuggled abroad.


Continues :


Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Jane Armstrong

VANCOUVER -- Emad Hovaizavi felt "pure terror" when the police dog clamped its mighty jaws on his leg. He felt the animal's teeth crunch through bone before it dragged him out of his apartment. Out in the corridor, police kicked him in the head and ribs as he lay face down on the floor. Men in black masks and bulletproof vests pointed their guns at Mr. Hovaizavi.

He tried to tell the officers they had the wrong people. He and two men were just drinking tea at his place after work, he told them. Police swore at him and told him to shut up.

"I was in pure terror," Mr. Hovaizavi said in an affidavit released yesterday by his lawyer, Craig Costantino. Mr. Hovaizavi and the two other men have complained to the RCMP Commission for Public Complaints about the police raid at Mr. Hovaizavi's Surrey, B.C., apartment on Nov. 7, 2008.

They want to know why police burst into Mr. Hovaizavi's unit and sent a vicious dog inside to drag two of the men out.

"I didn't know what was happening; I just felt the crunch of my bone as the dog bit into my right shin just above my ankle and began to drag me out of my apartment," Mr. Hovaizavi said in the written statement. "I screamed. I did not understand what was happening."

Mr. Costantino described the police raid as "shocking, negligent and incredibly reckless."

The RCMP yesterday called the incident "regrettable" and said a police team went to the wrong door that night. Surrey Mounties, backed by members of the Emergency Response Team, arrived at the building with search warrants for other units, but went to Mr. Hovaizavi's apartment by mistake.



COMMENTS: (13-16)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger caused a stir last week by calling for a public debate on cannabis legalization. As Rep. Barney Frank explained to Lou Dobbs, when a politician calls for debate, it generally means they are for it, but afraid it isn't popular enough yet.

On the heels of a Zogby poll showing that about 52 per cent of American voters are in favor of "the government's effort to legalize marijuana," a poll in Canada found that about 65 per cent of British Columbians prefer legalization to harsher penalties to quell prohibition-related violence.

The police appear to have abandoned the Nuremberg defense, "we only enforce the law," in favor of actively and dishonestly lobbying against medicinal cannabis regulation in Minnesota.

Marc "The Prince of Pot" Emery came to the rescue of a diabetic woman facing eviction for smoking medicinal cannabis in her apartment by providing her with a Volcano Vaporizer.


Pubdate: Wed, 6 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that the time is right to debate legalizing marijuana for recreational use in California.

The governor's comments were made as support grows nationwide for relaxing pot laws and only days after a poll found that for the first time a majority of California voters back legal marijuana. Also, a San Francisco legislator has proposed regulating and taxing marijuana to bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue.

Schwarzenegger was cautious when answering a reporter's question Tuesday about whether the state should regulate and tax the substance, saying it is not time to go that far.

But, he said: "I think it's time for debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues - I'm always for an open debate on it."

The governor said California should look to the experiences of other nations around the world in relaxing laws on marijuana.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol, with people over 21 years old allowed to grow, buy, sell and possess cannabis - all of which are barred by federal law.


Ammiano said he was pleased the governor is "open-minded" on the issue and added that he was sure the two could "hash it out."


Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization, said the governor's comments about marijuana are part of a "tectonic shift" in attitudes toward the issue.

"I think, frankly, the public is going to drag the politicians into doing what is right," he said.



Pubdate: Sat, 02 May 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Rebecca Tebrake

Poll Shows Support For Reducing Violence By Changing Laws

The majority of British Columbians think the legalization of marijuana would reduce violence related to the drug trade, an Angus Reid Strategies poll suggests.

Sixty-five per cent of the respondents would legalize marijuana in order to minimize violence, while 35 per cent think harsher penalties for marijuana trafficking are the answer.

"The illegal marijuana industry is linked to much of the gang violence on B.C.'s streets," said the poll, which asked respondents to choose between either the legalization of pot or increased penalties as a way to decrease violence. Police have linked at least 17 of this year's 34 homicides in the Lower Mainland to gangs or drugs.

The poll also found 77 per cent of Green party and 74 per cent of NDP voters support legalizing pot.

The B.C. Green party's platform includes the legalization and regulation of marijuana, while decriminalization or legalization are absent from both NDP and Liberal platforms. The Liberals have committed to increasing the number of police officers and prosecutors working on gang crime.

"The poll shows that people are way ahead of politicians on this issue," said Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University.


The poll of 822 people, conducted from April 24 to 26, has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points, 19 times in 20.



Pubdate: Mon, 04 May 2009
Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Copyright: 2009 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC
Author: Dennis Flaherty
Note: Dennis J. Flaherty is the executive director and chief lobbyist
of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

This year at the Legislature we're at it again, engaged in what has become the annual debate about "medical" marijuana.

The stage has long been set. On one side you have a group of people wanting to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, and on the other you have every legitimate group in our state representing law enforcement. Very soon our elected representatives will have to choose a side. They will decide on what type of Minnesota they want.

You have a very loosely written piece of legislation that, if passed, would clearly hamper law enforcement's ability to enforce marijuana laws. Laws on both the state and federal level prohibit the possession and sale of marijuana. If legalized for any purpose, it will put us in conflict with the feds.

In addition, it creates penalty provisions for unlawful cultivation, distribution and possession of the drug that are much less severe than existing statutes.

The proposal gives the Commissioner of Health the sole responsibility to regulate this new bureaucracy and excludes the Commissioner of Public Safety with any oversight role. The very agency best suited to help regulate this new industry will be sidelined.

The proposal does not limit the use of marijuana to treating patients confronting a terminal illness, but instead would allow many to access it including for the treatment of pain. Don't believe that it is designed only for those that are in the final stages of their life finding some relief from a "joint." That is not what the bill says.

The facts are that marijuana is a drug that is associated with violent crimes such as robberies and assaults. Many have and will resort to almost anything to get their hands on it. Families and caregivers of the sick could easily become victims of yet another illness called crime.




Pubdate: Thu, 07 May 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: John Colebourn

Wheelchair-bound double-amputee Marilyn Holsten is clearing the air in her pot-puffing fight with her landlord.

Holsten, who faces eviction at the end of the month because she smokes marijuana inside her East Vancouver suite, was yesterday given a vapourizer by pot activist Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie. Emery and his wife dropped the $750 German-made Volcano Vaporizer off at Holsten's suite on East 8th Avenue and she wasted no time in putting it to use.

Besides the donated vapourizer, Holsten was also given a baggie of Blueberry Island Sweet Skunk, a marijuana variant prized by pot puffers.

After a quick instructional session on using the high-end machine, Holsten took a few tokes and sang praise of the machine that allows her to get stoned while eliminating smoke.

"Wow is this ever nice, it doesn't burn your throat," said Holsten, 49, who uses marijuana to help with the unbearable pain she gets in the stumps of her legs. Holsten is a diabetic and has lived for more than eight years in a building run by the nonprofit Anavets Seniors Citizens Housing Society.

After pot smoke was detected coming from her suite, she was given an eviction notice in April 2008. In order to stay, she was forced to sign a document promising to light up outdoors only. Then last month Holsten was given a final eviction notice after management said the smell of pot was noticed in public areas of the building.



COMMENTS: (17-20)

We give a special focus this week to C-15, a proposed harsh new Canadian mandatory-minimum law, which actually targets cannabis users.

The Canadian Conservative Party got a snoot full this week on proposed new mandatory-minimum-for-pot laws which are ostensibly are aimed at gangs and gun crimes, but instead will lock up small-time marijuana users in great numbers. The NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties oppose the Draconian new mandatory minimum laws. "[C-15] is a wonderful gift to organized crime," noted University of Ottawa law professor Eugene Oscapella.

In the Telegraph-Journal newspaper from New Brunswick, Canada, Max Wolfe pulls out the 50-year-old LeDain Commission report and wonders why it was buried. The 1972 Canadian government report found there "was no evidence that the moderate use of moderate amounts of marijuana harmed anyone's health, was addictive, led to crime or to the use of more potent drugs." So why not legalize in Canada? One oft-expressed fear: the U.S. "would probably send in the Marines if we tried to legalize drugs."

While witness after witness testified that mandatory minimums would do nothing but pack Canada's prisons with petty cannabis users, Conservatives trotted out a hired choir of paid police and regular RCMP consultants like Dr. Daryl Plecas to bolster the case for C-15 as a "tough" new "tool" to allow hamstrung police to go after only the most dangerous organized criminals (grandpa and grandma with a single pot plant in the basement).

Finally this week, from British Columbia, Canada, candidate Chris Emery is interviewed in the Salmon Arm Observer. Keeping cannabis illegal is "the lifeblood of gangs and the violence that brings on. They ended alcohol prohibition and with it went bathtub gin, Al Capone and the Purple Gang... [T]he vast majority of Canadians want to see it legalized. So does the Canadian senate. So does a Royal Commission that we're not listening to."


Pubdate: Mon, 04 May 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service

Under Canada's proposed new drug laws, an 18-year-old who shares a joint with a 17-year-old friend could end up in jail.

Small-time addicts, who are convicted of pushing drugs near schools, parks, malls or any other prospective youth hangouts, would be automatically imprisoned for two years.

And growers caught selling even one plant to a friend would also be incarcerated.

The Harper government's bill to impose Canada's first mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes -- removing discretion for judges to sentence as they see fit--has come under intense scrutiny in public hearings that began last week.


The all-party committee will likely get an earful again today when it hears from another half-dozen opponents, including Ottawa drug policy analyst Eugene Oscapella.

"It's a wonderful gift to organized crime," said Oscapella, a lawyer who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

"We're going to drive some of the smaller players out of the business and they'll be replaced by people who do not respond to law-enforcement initiatives," he said.

The Conservative government proposes to automatically jail dealers and growers at a time when several American states, most recently New York, have retreated from mandatory minimum sentences, saying they are a glaring symbol of the failed U. S. war on drugs.




Pubdate: Sat, 02 May 2009
Source: Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, CN NK)
Copyright: 2009 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Max Wolfe

Does anyone remember Gerald LeDain?

He created more stir in this country in his time than most would ever do. He was a Supreme Court of Canada justice and the author of what became known popularly as the LeDain Commission Report on the non- medical use of drugs in Canada, In simple terms, it stated there was no evidence that the moderate use of moderate amounts of marijuana harmed anyone's health, was addictive, led to crime or to the use of more potent drugs. On the other hand, apart from the obvious and significant financial cost, the prohibition of the use of marijuana entailed extraordinary means of enforcement that has the potential of leading to corruption and brutality.

It suggested that enforcement costs might be better spent elsewhere. It urged the feds to repeal possession laws and let people grow their own supply for personal use. And guess what came of the report.... Nothing. I am sure no one is surprised.


The arguments against prohibition are old and oft repeated, but we keep forgetting - or at least the prohibition people do. Do we try to regulate mountaineering, scuba diving and rock-climbing... to say nothing of rugby or hockey? They are more dangerous than many illegal drugs. We discourage smoking and obesity, but we don't make them illegal.


We have a particular problem here in Canada. The States would probably send in the Marines if we tried to legalize drugs. But even they are coming to the realization that the whole idea of a war on drugs simply isn't working and probably never has.

There is a comparatively progressive incumbent in the White House. It's an opening and we should take it. It's time for a re-think.



Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 2009
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Surrey Leader
Author: Kevin Diakiw

Give cities and police the tools and legislation they need to hammer down the growing marijuana trade, Mayor Dianne Watts was expected to tell a powerful federal justice committee Thursday night.

A team of five were to appear before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in Vancouver in order to address this region's problem with pot grow operations.

Watts was joined by City of Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender, Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, RCMP Supt. Janice Armstrong and criminologist Dr. Darryl Plecas.

The appearance before the standing committee is being described as "one of the highest levels yet" that will hear potential solutions to the marijuana trade.


The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has the power to conduct investigations and recommend policy or legislative changes.



Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2009
Source: Salmon Arm Observer (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Salmon Arm Observer

Not legalizing marijuana is costing billions, says the Marijuana Party candidate in the Shuswap riding, and that's why he's running for office.

"I'm running to keep the discussion about pot honest," says candidate Chris Emery, running for a second consecutive time in this riding. "I want the message to get out, not just to the general public, but to our next representative in the legislature. Re-legalize it - it used to be legal, we need to regulate and tax it. Right now we spend billions chasing folks like me around, yet we leave billions of tax dollars on the table. That's a double whammy. It's the economics."

Emery says the fact that marijuana is illegal fuels gangs.

"It's the lifeblood of gangs and the violence that brings on. They ended alcohol prohibition and with it went bathtub gin, Al Capone and the Purple Gang."


"It's not for kids, neither is alcohol. But what bothers me is when folks come into my kids' classrooms, with and without guns, and tell them that my pot is the same as crystal meth and crack cocaine."

He says legalizing marijuana would not be introducing marijuana - it's already here.

"I would say it's mainstream. Better than one in three people admit to smoking it, but, more importantly, in survey after survey, the vast majority of Canadians want to see it legalized. So does the Canadian senate. So does a Royal Commission that we're not listening to."



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Human Rights Organizations Break from Amnesty International's 2008 Pro-Merida Initiative Letter

By Kristin Bricker, Special to The Narco News Bulletin

Yesterday, 72 Mexican civil society organizations and a Brigadier General of the Mexican Army sent the following letter to US Congress demanding that all military aid to Mexico be immediately halted. The letter comes as the US House of Representative is considering more than doubling 2009 funding for the war on drugs in Mexico.


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

In a revelation that I'm sure will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, it turns out that ex-Drug Czar John Walters is still full of s-- t.


Both Houses in Mexico's legislature have now approved a bill decriminalising possession of small amounts of all drugs for personal use. Both the Senate and Congress have supported the bill, meaning that President Calderon, just needs to rubber stamp the policy before it becomes law, expected to happen in the next few days.


From Another Top Cop: End the Drug War

By Norm Stamper


High Times magazine published an in-depth interview with MAPS President Rick Doblin in their April edition.


By Jacob Sullum

In a recent Zogby poll, 52 percent of voters said they supported marijuana legalization. As far as I know, this is the first time a national survey has found majority support for repealing cannabis prohibition, as opposed to merely decriminalizing possession for personal use.


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #584, 5/8/09


by Dan Bernath

In yet another sign of the growing acceptance for marijuana policy reform, MPP's Rob Kampia appeared on MSNBC and CNBC yesterday to discuss California Gov. Arnold Schwarzegger's recent statement supporting an open discussion about ending marijuana prohibition.


Century of Lies - 05/03/09 - Sandee Burbank

Sandee Burbank director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse + Dr. Robert Melamede on swine flu, Ethan Nadelmann on Colbert Report + Borat: "please buy our heroin"

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 05/06/09 - Brian O'dea

Brian O'dea, author of HIGH, Confessions of a Pot Smuggler + Phil Smith, reporter with Stop the Drug War


Anderson Cooper of CNN does a segment on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the growing debate to legalize marijuana.



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CNN, via their I-reporter (the public) is asking for input from people who have a loved one imprisoned.

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URGE MOVEON.ORG TO SUPPORT ENDING PROHIBITION  ( Top ) is one of the nation's most powerful grassroots political organizations.

Imagine if they added ending drug prohibition to their action agenda?

If you want to suggest this to them, you can write to them here.

Put "Ending drug prohibition is important" in the subject line.



By Lee Gilbert

An open letter to our elected representatives regarding marijuana legalization:

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal ( Weekend Edition, April 26) made the case for marijuana decriminalization leading to legalization. ( There was also a column offering an opposing position on drugs. )

Also recently, the University of Colorado was the site for a National Forum on Marijuana sponsored by the student organization NORML. I attended some of those sessions.

On April 20, there was the non-sanctioned, non-violent, civil-disobedient 4/20 cannabis celebration on the CU campus that I observed. An estimated 10,000 people attended.

Marijuana is wrongly listed as a Schedule 1 drug -- that it is highly addictive and has no medical use.

Clearly this classification is wrong.

Given the widespread and routine use of marijuana by large segments of the public, the acknowledged use of it by prominent public officials and its relatively safe profile ( certainly as compared to tobacco and alcohol ), it is absolutely astounding to me that marijuana prohibition continues.

That in a time of huge budget deficits we are wasting money enforcing this marijuana prohibition, arresting and imprisoning non-violent marijuana users at great cost and increasing violent drug-related crime by artificially increasing the profitability of the marijuana industry is simply unconscionable.

I strongly urge that you work to decriminalize and then legalize marijuana.

Having on the books a law that is routinely ignored and only selectively enforced is a prescription for disrespect for all laws.

It's time to repeal marijuana prohibition.

Lee Gilbert Boulder

Pubdate: Mon, 27 Apr 2009
Source: Colorado Daily (Boulder, CO)


DrugSense recognizes Darral Good from Shoreline, Washington for his six letters published during April, bringing his career total that we know of to 34. You may read Darral's published letters here


Frank J. Melton - 1949-2009: The Drug War Word Made Flesh  ( Top )

By Stephen Young

Frank Melton didn't just become a soldier in the drug war. Frank Melton was his own drug war.

He personified all the excesses and hypocrisies that the phrase "drug war" suggests.

I suspected he was someone to watch when I first read about him seven years ago.

That's when Melton made the sudden transition from television executive/commentator to the head of Mississippi's war on drugs.

I never met the man or even saw him in person, but while editing this newsletter, I found it difficult not to read the news stories about him (all which remain archived by the Media Awareness Project).

After working in broadcast media for decades, Melton was suddenly and surprisingly named to lead the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in 2002. Before the appointment, Melton had made a name for himself presenting tough-talking TV commentaries in which he ranted against criminals and those who were too soft on them.

He had absolutely no experience in law enforcement, criminal justice, public health or drug policy.

But, as so often is the case with the drug war, rhetoric is all that really matters, even when rhetoric is at odds with reality.

Within a month of his appointment, Melton turned words into action. Not content being an administrator behind a desk, Melton went out on calls with enforcement units.

He didn't just order constitutionally prohibited roadblocks in the state's capitol; Melton knocked on motorists' windows to personally inspect licenses. Without legitimate law enforcement credentials, the state's attorney general noted at the time, the Narcotics Bureau head had no legal right to even request IDs.

But Melton would not be deterred. He stayed on the streets, increasingly disturbed by the legal obstacles blocking a real drug war.

He expressed dismay that obtaining a warrant for a drug search cost valuable time, and he pressed legislators to expedite the process.

It didn't take Melton long to realize the resources he had available were not enough. He needed more, and wanted to take it in forfeited assets. He thought the state should take a bigger cut, even if that left municipal police with less.

But Melton's visions were derailed by politics. When a new governor was elected, a new state drug czar was appointed. By that time, Melton had gained enough notoriety to win his own political job.

He was elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi in 2005, with the drug war still on his mind. He started carrying guns everywhere thanks to a law enforcement waiver he obtained (though the federal Transportation Security Administration reportedly insisted that he cease bringing weapons on planes).

In his most notorious act as mayor, he gathered employees and volunteers armed with sledgehammers to destroy an alleged drug house. No warning, no warrant, just a bunch of thugs led by the mayor, tearing down a private residence in the middle of the night.

This appeared to be Melton's Col. Kurtz moment, the point be became fully integrated into the drug war. It went beyond cause or crusade. He was his own weapon of choice, and he didn't believe that weapon should have limitations.

In the drug war, results don't matter. Messages matter. Any proposed reform will always be met with the reply, "That sends the wrong message."

Though he hadn't been a TV professional for years, Melton was still sending a message. He just delivered that message with a sledgehammer instead of broadcast television as his primary medium. While it's difficult to translate such a primal message into words, I think it was intended to say: There's a new drug war in town, and it's named Frank Melton.

Other authorities took notice, and Melton soon faced his own legal troubles. Only about a year into his term, Melton was indicted on charges stemming from the house beating incident. But he never resigned office and never acknowledged wrongdoing.

By 2007, Reason Magazine ran a story naming Melton as "Worst Mayor in America." Aside from the public relations nightmare he created for the city, his administration took a balanced budget and ran it into a multi-million dollar deficit.

Melton had created a firm power base by exploiting the drug war. But as in the larger drug war, personal prohibition victories can be completely illusory.

In recent months, he campaigned for another term as mayor. He finished third among nine candidates in the primary election. Melton died May 7, two days after primary voters rejected him.

Though he was acquitted locally, at the time of his death, Melton was preparing to face federal civil rights charges related to the sledgehammer raid.

I don't know what killed Melton; press reports have been contradictory so far. But I suspect willing oneself to be an instrument of war places a fair amount of stress on a human being.

Some news reports suggest that Melton had a history of heart problems, but until very late in his life, he had refused to give up tobacco and alcohol. (Other reports indicate he was actually drunk on the night of the infamous raid).

Maybe if he could have broken his own obsession with other people's drug use, Melton might have been able to address some personal issues related to his own drugs of choice.

Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly. He is the producer of the documentary Government Grown - - and the author of How to Inhale The Universe Without Wheezing.


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