THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) WHITE HOUSE CZAR CALLS FOR END TO 'WAR ON DRUGS'
Pubdate: Thu, 14 May 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Gary Fields
Kerlikowske Says Analogy Is Counterproductive; Shift Aligns With Administration Preference for Treatment Over Incarceration
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.
In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.
"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."
View Full Image Gil Kerlikowske, the new White House drug czar, signaled Wednesday his openness to rethinking the government's approach to fighting drug use.
(2) LAWMAKERS CONSIDER DEFYING VOTERS TO SAVE MONEY ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 15 May 2009
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2009 Statesman Journal
Author: Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal
Measure 57 Puts People in Jail Longer, Which Costs More
Eyeing ways to cut prison spending, some state legislators want to slam the brakes on a voter-approved measure that created longer prison terms for repeat property and drug offenders.
Talk about mothballing Measure 57, which took effect in January, comes as legislators confront a massive budget shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle, starting July 1.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said a legislative work group is considering whether to put the sentencing measure on hold.
"It's on the table for discussion," he said. "We're looking at all the options we've got to reduce the cost of state corrections."
Prozanski, a former prosecutor, said he favors placing the sentencing measure on hold for two years, potentially saving $75 million in the 2009-11 budget period.
Anti-crime activists denounce the idea.
(3) BROWARD SHERIFF WANTS TO END INMATE TREATMENT PROGRAMS TO SAVE MONEY ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 15 May 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Amy Sherman and David Smiley
Inmates in the Broward jails will no longer receive substance abuse treatment, anger management help, computer skills and some other training -- a stark result of budget cuts advocates say will prove costly in the long run.
The Broward Sheriff's Office sent a letter to judges and attorneys Wednesday saying the programs will be eliminated by Aug. 1.
"We know the value of these programs but we have no option but to reduce our services in the jails to their core," wrote Kristina Gulick, director of the Department of Community Control.
In an interview, Sheriff Al Lamberti said the county will save about $2.2 million a year by eliminating programs that employ 14 people and served more than 16,000 inmates last year -- more than one-fifth of the jail population.
"Unless the county decides to put it back into my budget it's done," said Lamberti, whose agency started sending pink slips to employees this week.
County officials asked Lamberti to cut more than $50 million from his budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 as part of the county's effort to cut $160 million from its $3.6 billion budget. Instead, Lamberti submitted a $722 million budget that is about $6 million more than this year. Lamberti's budget curbs growth in spending by cutting about 260 positions and requiring one-week furloughs for nonunion staff.
(4) MARIJUANA BILL DIES IN COMMITTEE ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 15 May 2009
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2009 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Cy Ryan
CARSON CITY - A bill to tighten the law for growing marijuana has died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 6-6 vote.
Eight votes are needed for passage by the committee of Senate Bill 262, which breezed through the Senate on an 18-3 vote.
The bill would have imposed a penalty on the number of marijuana plants discovered by law enforcement. Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, the chairman of the committee, said the criminal penalty now is based on the weight of the marijuana.
The penalty could range up to a felony, depending on the amount discovered.
Anderson said there is a loophole in the law and authorities sought to close it. There was testimony from California officials that growers come to Nevada to plant and harvest the plant and the sell it.
Anderson, D-Sparks, said marijuana is a "gateway" drug to the use of stronger drugs.
But Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, argued the nation was going in a different direction in dealing with laws on marijuana. The movement now is toward treatment, he said.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
The Obama administration seems to be sending mixed signals on the drug war. While the new drug czar seems to understand how unhelpful the rhetoric can be, the administration seems to be backing off previously stated real support for needle exchange programs.
In Florida, the Governor signed "Rachel's Law," though it seems to be a shadow of the original proposal. And, last week, there were more expressions of new thinking about cannabis. See the Cannabis and Hemp section for even more.
(5) OBAMA DISAPPOINTS NEEDLE-EXCHANGE ADVOCATES ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
President Obama has called for repealing the ban on federal funding for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users. His drug policy director supported such a program when he was Seattle's police chief. And last week, Obama's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration won praise in a Senate committee for her leadership on needle exchange.
So advocates of the programs in the Bay Area and elsewhere were surprised and dismayed when Obama's budget for 2009-10 proposed to continue the funding prohibition that dates from the 1980s.
"We hoped that the president would seize the first opportunity for lifting federal restrictions on this life-saving prevention strategy," said Paola Barahona of Physicians for Human Rights. "Denying people at risk for HIV a proven prevention intervention is a denial of their basic human rights."
"Without the federal funding, we're missing people that we could reach," said Laura Thomas, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance office in San Francisco and volunteers at a local needle-exchange program. "It's ridiculous that at this point in the epidemic, we're not looking to science in determining what we're funding."
A similar view could be found on the White House Web site soon after Obama took office in January: "The president also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users."
That comment was erased from the site recently.
(6) CRIST SIGNS "RACHEL'S LAW" ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 8 May 2009
Source: Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Tallahassee Democrat
Author: Jennifer Portman, Democrat Senior Writer
Hoffman's Parents Plan to Return Next Year to Build on What Was Accomplished
Irv Hoffman wiped away tears and Margie Weiss hugged Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday as Crist made official the first law in the nation intended to protect confidential informants.
Crist's signing of "Rachel's Law" came a year to the day after their 23-year-old daughter Rachel Morningstar Hoffman was killed during an assignment as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.
Her death during a botched drug sting was the catalyst for the law.
"One year ago today was a very difficult day, and I want to thank you for your continued perseverance," Crist said to Hoffman's parents at a morning event at the Capitol. "To have a law on the books now that makes it more safe for people to cooperate with law-enforcement officers across our state is very important."
Hoffman's parents, who live in Pinellas County, thanked the governor, lawmakers and others who helped them see the law pass swiftly.
"This has been a long exhaustive journey," Irv Hoffman said. "We made history today. Rachel made history today."
The law will require law-enforcement agencies to have policies and procedures that consider an informant's age and maturity and the potential of physical harm.
The original bill Hoffman's parents pushed for included greater protections, including prohibiting police from using informants in drug treatment programs and requiring that informants be told they have a right to legal counsel. Those provisions were stripped after opposition by law-enforcement officials, who said they would compromise their most effective tool in fighting drug crimes.
(7) ATTORNEY TO ASK JUDGE TO THROW OUT CHARGES IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 May 2009
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2009 The Detroit News
Author: Jennifer Chambers, The Detroit News
Madison Heights -- An attorney for a Madison Heights woman who is physician-certified to use medical marijuana plans to ask a judge today to dismiss felony drug charges against her.
Torey Alison Clark, along with her co-defendant, Robert Redden, is scheduled to appear in Madison Heights 43rd District Court in a case being widely watched by legal observers and community leaders who are trying to understand the parameters of Michigan's new medical marijuana law.
Clark and Redden, who live together, say they are physician-certified to grow and use medical marijuana, yet 21 marijuana plants were seized from their home March 30. Madison Heights Police used a battering ram to knock down their front door.
Oakland County prosecutors charged them with felonies that could land them in prison for up to 14 years.
(8) COLUMN: GROUP WANTS MARIJUANA STUDIES PROGRAM ON CAMPUS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 12 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Andrew S. Ross, Chronicle columnist
With California getting serious about legalizing marijuana, can university business courses be far behind? No, believes the Treatments, Herbs and Cannabis Foundation. The recently founded Petaluma organization is lobbying for a "Marijuana Business Program" at Sonoma State University.
The program, which would initially offer a bachelor of science degree in business administration, would be "intended for the student who wishes to be involved in the evolution of today's marijuana industry."
The foundation, which favors the spread of medical marijuana clubs, also would like to see a "California Marijuana Research Program" and "Authorized/University Operated Production Facilities." Such programs would help to "bring forward and cleanse an industry currently infiltrated by gangs, criminals and frauds."
So far, job postings and program details have been placed on Craigslist, an invitation to join the cause is on Facebook and letters have been dispatched to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris and Petaluma Police Chief Steve Hood, among others.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
More corruption and failure.
(9) BAD COPS. SHADY, LAW-BREAKING SHERIFFS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 May 2009
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Fayetteville Observer
Despite the tenet that law officers need to hold themselves to higher standards, corruption stands as one of the oldest problems in law enforcement.
"They are the final line, something that separates society from the bad guys. They are the protectors," said Dr. Hamid Kusha, an assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at East Carolina University. "The mandate of police is to serve and protect. Therefore, we look at police as good guys. We want them to have high ethical standards." Obviously, that's not always the case. In Spring Lake, an assortment of alleged misdeeds has turned the Police Department into an ineffectual force. Tuesday, Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned one day after the arrests of Sgt. Alfonzo Devone Whittington Jr. and Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr., who were indicted last week by a special Cumberland County grand jury.
The charges against Whittington and Coulter include embezzlement by public officer, obtaining property by false pretense, breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice. Along with those indictments, the Police Department was stripped of its remaining police powers.
But law enforcement misconduct spreads much further than Spring Lake. In the last three years, four sheriffs in this state have been convicted of breaking the very laws that they swore to uphold. In the past six years, five North Carolina sheriffs have faced serious charges. "Four is too many, and one is too many. It's very regrettable," said Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president of the N.C. Sheriffs' Association. But Caldwell questions whether more cases exist today than in the past. The immediacy of the news A- with breaking stories running around the clock on television and on the Internet A- produces a glut of information. Caldwell said some newspapers seem to thrive on the misdeeds of religious leaders, teachers and government officials.
"Those stories get front-page coverage," he said. "There's much more transparency. Things that happened decades ago that did not get prosecuted or reported get fully prosecuted or reported today. If a government official gets a parking ticket, that's reported. That changes public opinion." The N.C. Attorney General's Office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation have investigated more than 500 public corruption cases in the past eight years, according to Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice.
(10) COCAINE CASE FALLS APART ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 12 May 2009
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2009 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Sarah Ovaska
After 21 Months in Jail, a Cleared Man Goes Home
RALEIGH - For 21 months, Gerardo Vilchez's life was contained inside a jail cell as he awaited a trial on trafficking charges that stemmed from one of Wake County's biggest drug busts.
He was set free last week, after a Wake jury rejected accusations by a Wake sheriff's investigator and prosecutors that Vilchez conspired to transport 32 kilograms of cocaine, or more than 70 pounds, in the tires of a passenger bus he drove from northern Mexico.
Now the criminal case surrounding the $3.2 million worth of drugs appears to be nearing an end, with little chance that whoever placed the cocaine inside the tires or who intended to profit from it will be charged. The only two people ever charged were Vilchez and Victor Hugo Lopez, a bus attendant, who remains in jail awaiting a trial on the same charges Vilchez faced. Vilchez, a U.S. citizen who lives in Mexico, told jurors he had no idea the drugs were hidden in the tires of his bus. He said he was just driving the vehicle to places along a route selected by dispatchers for the Texas tour bus company that employed him.
He also said he resents the drug trade and what narcotics smuggling has done to Mexico, which has been torn apart by violence as Mexico's federal government struggles to crack down on powerful, wealthy drug cartels. "The people that are involved in drug trafficking, they use the innocent people," Vilchez said. "All they want is to make money." In jail, his only view was through a small window that looks out on Raleigh's downtown streets.
(11) U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENT INDICTED IN OHIO ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 13 May 2009
Source: Macon Telegraph (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Associated Press
CLEVELAND -- A federal drug enforcement agent has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment that accuses him of framing 17 people during controlled drug buys through an informant.
Lee Michael Lucas, 41, of Cleveland appeared Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver on charges, including obstruction of justice and violating civil rights. Lucas allegedly used a drug informant in 2005 to make controlled drug buys and then put false information in his reports on the transactions
He was released on personal bond, and has a Jan. 6 trial date.
(12) BIGGEST METH SEIZURE IN EASTERN U.S. MADE IN ATLANTA ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 13 May 2009
Source: Macon Telegraph (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Associated Press
Author: Kate Brumback
Biggest Meth Seizure In Eastern U.S. Made In Atlanta
ATLANTA ( AP ) -- Federal authorities in Atlanta on Wednesday announced the biggest seizure of Mexican crystal methamphetamine ever recorded east of the Mississippi River.
Federal drug enforcement agents seized about 351 pounds of meth from two houses in Duluth, in suburban Atlanta, in an operation that began Sunday and extended into Monday morning. They arrested four Mexican nationals, three of whom are in the U.S. illegally.
"This is very typical of what we see regarding Mexican drug trafficking organizations and how they operate," said Rodney Benson, who heads the Drug Enforcement Administration's Atlanta field office. "They want to blend in to communities in nondescript locations to conduct their business."
The seizure is the culmination of a two-month investigation. In addition to the crystal meth, commonly known as "ice," agents found one kilogram of cocaine, an undetermined amount of cash and chemicals and equipment for making meth.
The wholesale value of the meth seized is about $6 million, Benson said. The highly-addictive drug was packaged for distribution along the East Coast and would likely be worth tens of millions of dollars on the street, he said.
Over the last several years, the Atlanta area, and especially suburban Gwinnett County, has become a major drug distribution hub for Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Drugs are brought across the southwest border and along the interstates to Atlanta, where they are processed into the final product and repackaged. The traffickers tend to compartmentalize their operations so a bust doesn't bring down their whole operation.
Cannabis & Hemp-
The euphoria continues over the apparent shift in political and public attitudes in the United States toward cannabis legalization, with some governors and public servants echoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's timid call for a debate.
But opponents are not short of bizarre rationalizations and logical contortions in defense of the status quo.
Meanwhile, Canadians are lamenting the fact that, while finally Washington might tolerate or ignore cannabis law reform in Canada, Ottawa is completely out of step.
(13) LEGALIZE POT? ADVOCATES THRILLED WITH CHANGE IN POLLS, GOVERNOR'S ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 13 May 2009
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 ANG Newspapers
Author: John Simerman, Contra Costa Times
OAKLAND -- Here in the East Bay's growing hotbed of marijuana-related commerce -- an uptown stretch that some call "Oaksterdam" -- the buzz just got thicker.
They're talking about it at Oaksterdam University, where seminars fill up months in advance on marijuana law, cultivation, bud-tending and other pot topics; and at a shop across Broadway that sells the latest hash-making machines and German vaporizers, while a dozen people wait for patient ID cards in the back, some with babies on their laps.
In the backroom of Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a dispensary on 17th Street, mention of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's statement last week that "it's time for debate" about legalizing pot drew a wide smile from Air Force veteran Rosanne Rutherford, who sat waiting to plunk down $22 for some "Blue Dream" in a brown paper bag.
"It's been demonized for years, just because of politics," said Rutherford, 41. "It was a happy surprise. How things change."
Even the most ardent pot advocates say they're a bit dizzy over the governor's comments and the speed of an apparent shift in public opinion toward legalizing and taxing pot. A Field Poll in April found 56 percent of California voters now favor it. As recently as 2004, a similar poll found less than 40 percent did. Nationally, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 46 percent of Americans favor legalizing small amounts of pot for personal use, up from 22 percent in 1997.
And while some marijuana reform advocates expect a federal prohibition to remain firmly in the way of legalizing pot use for years, others say they aim to press the issue with a state ballot measure, possibly as early as next year.
(14) PROMPTED BY SCHWARZENEGGER, NORTH COAST BEGINS DEBATING LEGALIZING POT ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson
North Coast officials are skeptical of proposals to legalize and tax marijuana. But some said they would welcome and participate in the debate that could put the drug in the same category as alcohol.
We have to get the discussion started," said Mendocino County Supervisor Kendall Smith, who believes legalization and regulation of marijuana for general adult use is likely to occur at some point.
The debate over legalization is familiar to North Coast residents, who supported Proposition 215 in 1996, saw Mendocino County adopt liberal growth standards in 2000, only to see a backlash against loosening restrictions as both the stench of marijuana and related crime invaded neighborhoods.
I think we need another drug like we need a hole in the head," Sonoma County Sheriff's Capt. Matt McCaffrey said.
The societal costs of having more people using drugs would exceed the tax benefits, he said.
A lot of the money would be going to the ills caused by this drug," in much the same way alcohol taxes don't cover the costs of problems caused by alcohol consumption, he said.
Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said he'd be willing to participate in discussions about legalization. But he questioned whether now is the time.
I don't think on an important topic like this it can be done when we're facing a deficit at our doorsteps," he said. "At this point it serves as a needless distraction to Sacramento."
Education officials said legalization would do more harm than good.
It would contribute to greater abuse" by children if it's freely available to adults, said Sonoma County schools Superintendent Carl Wong.
(15) LOCAL OFFICIALS: WHAT'S GOVERNOR SMOKING? ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer
Suggestion To Study Legalizing Marijuana Criticized
Reaction to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's suggestion that California should study legalizing marijuana had a familiar refrain locally: Just say no.
Local elected officials and law enforcement see little benefit to the idea, and even a local advocate for pot legalization acknowledges there are a lot of questions that would need answers before the idea was viable.
Sutter County Supervisor Jim Whiteaker had a response that could speak for many: "The governor's idea would explain a lot of the decisions made at the state level lately."
Whiteaker, who opposes the idea, said the effects of drug addiction on families and communities would be worsened if someone could pick up marijuana at the corner store legally.
"Marijuana itself does impede judgments," Whiteaker said, adding he'd worry that people responsible for public safety, such as bus drivers, might partake of marijuana if it was legal.
Last April, Yuba County supervisors voted to create an ID card for medicinal marijuana users to make their use less likely to result in arrest.
In Sutter County, however, the planning commission and the cities of Yuba City and Live Oak have banned medical marijuana dispensaries from opening. No dispensaries are openly operating in either Yuba or Sutter counties.
Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda) said now is not the time to discuss full legalization, especially when the state has larger problems.
(16) IS U.S. HIGH ON POT LEGALIZATION? ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 12 May 2009
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Mindelle Jacobs
Canada has been terrified of liberalizing our drug laws for fear of angering Uncle Sam. Ironically, the United States is now closer to legalizing pot than we are.
While the federal Conservatives in the Great White North are poised to bring in mandatory jail time for producing and selling illicit drugs, the sweet smell of drug reform is wafting across America. Wouldn't that be a weird buzz? Canada as the uptight, anti-pot zealot and America as the laid-back, rational progressive.
In some states, the simple possession of marijuana has been effectively decriminalized (although more than 800,000 Americans were still arrested for pot possession last year). And in Alaska, possession of a small amount of weed in your own home is legal.
Thirteen states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. And a California legislator has introduced a bill to legalize the adult use of pot. He proposes a $50-an-ounce tax which would bring in an estimated $1.3 billion for the state, which has a staggering multibillion-dollar deficit.
Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged that it's time to debate whether to legalize and tax marijuana.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the Conservatives' proposed amendments include a mandatory six-month jail sentence for growing even one pot plant for the purpose of trafficking.
And our medical pot regulations are so complex -- thanks to the constant tug of war between the government and the courts over how the scheme should be run -- that no one really has a clue how it's supposed to work.
It's enough to make you want to head to the rec room to partake in the consciousness-altering substance of your choice.
True, more opium flows from Afghanistan under the U.S. occupation than ever did before, but that's no reason not to blame those namby-pamby Europeans for going soft on drugs in bandit country. Or so the new party line goes: the problem with the Afghanistan war is the NATO allies muzzle the wise anti-drug zeal of the Americans. Allow them to crush the Afghan poppy farmer with a prohibitionist blitzkrieg of power and death from above, and terror shall be vanquished.
In Canada, government statistics released this week showed an increase in police activity against people for using cannabis - "a police crackdown on drugs... that cast more drugs as illicit and made drug production a crime." Net-widening laws "affect the drug offence rate by criminalizing certain behaviours that were not previously considered to be a crime." As in the US, Canada's cannabis "crimes" account "for two-thirds of all reported drug crimes" and 3/4 of those were for simple possession.
A U.S. DEA report released this week accused (deceased) former Mexican drug czar Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos of accepting money from drug cartels. Vasconcelos, who was killed in an air accident last year, was accused of taking bribes from the Beltran Leyva cartel.
And from the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper, a column from Isaac Campos renews calls to legalize marijuana, to cut off funding for violent drug cartels. The article follows a Mexican congressional forum which looked at decriminalizing marijuana. Concludes Campos: "if we hope to use legislative reform to reduce Mexico's drug-policy-related violence, Mexico and the U.S. need to go all the way on marijuana legalization."
(17) WESTERN MILITARY LOOKED OTHER WAY AS THE AFGHAN DRUG TRADE BOOMED ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 May 2009
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Tom Lasseter
Some Western and Afghan officials say southern Afghanistan spun out of control because of a serious miscalculation by U.S. and British officials, who all but ignored the long rows of poppy and the opium trafficking that flows from them.
As a lead donor nation to Afghanistan, Britain agreed in 2002 to head up counternarcotics efforts, but it did little to crack down on drugs and largely avoided the eradication of poppy crops.
While NATO-led forces in Afghanistan provided training for Afghan anti-narcotics units, they would "not take part in the eradication of opium poppy or in pre-planned and direct military action against the drugs trade," Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary from 2001 to 2006, wrote in a 2006 letter to Parliament.
"Peace first, drugs next," said Ekaterina Stepanova, a senior analyst at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute who's studied drug economies in conflict zones. "If you want counternarcotics policy to succeed, you first need a functional and domestically accepted state."
The issue was left mainly to underequipped and often-corrupt Afghan police, who had little inclination to take on the hordes of militants and warlords who were protecting poppy fields.
In Helmand, the Afghan government - with U.S. and British backing - has distributed wheat seed to about 30,000 farmers as part of a pilot program for crop substitution and has begun to map out supply chains for fruits and vegetables to lucrative markets such as Dubai.
The president's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, recently lashed out at U.S. policy, saying that American efforts to date have been useless.
"We have gotten nothing out of it, nothing," Holbrooke said at a March conference in Brussels, Belgium. "It is the most wasteful and ineffective program I have seen in 40 years."
(18) CANADIAN DRUG OFFENCES HIT 30-YEAR HIGH ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 May 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service
Use By Youth Increases
(CNS) - Canada's illicit-drug problem hit a 30-year high in 2007, with marijuana leading the way but losing ground to cocaine, Ecstasy, crystal meth and date-rape drugs.
Statistics Canada reported yesterday the increase in drug crimes reported to police, which reached more than 100,000, coincided with the overall crime rate hitting a 30-year low.
The agency speculated that a police crackdown on drugs could be responsible for the opposite trends, along with a decade-old change in federal law that cast more drugs as illicit and made drug production a crime.
"Police may focus law enforcement efforts more on addressing drug-related crimes when time, resources and priorities permit," said the report. "It is also possible that legislative changes may affect the drug offence rate by criminalizing certain behaviours that were not previously considered to be a crime."
Cannabis accounted for two-thirds of all reported drug crimes and 75% were for possession, 13% for trafficking and 11% for production.
(19) DEA: BRIBES TAINT LATE MEXICAN DRUG CZAR ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 May 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper
Author: Dane Schiller
A highly trusted former deputy attorney general, who later became Mexico's drug czar and was embraced by Washington until his death, is accused in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration report of taking bribes from one of Mexico's oldest narcotics trafficking cartels.
Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, killed in November in a mysterious plane crash over Mexico City, is among three senior federal law-enforcement officials named in an April 21-page DEA briefing on organized crime and drug trafficking south of the border.
When contacted Wednesday, DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney, said the agency could neither refute nor offer a source for the highly charged allegation, which appears in the report as fact. The information was included without being fully vetted for release, Courtney said.
(20) BETTER MEXICAN DRUG POLICY CAN STEM THE VIOLENCE ( Top )
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.
Last month's forum at least opened a dialogue among Mexicans. That is certainly a step in the right direction. But if we hope to use legislative reform to reduce Mexico's drug-policy-related violence, Mexico and the U.S. need to go all the way on marijuana legalization.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
OBAMA'S DRUG CZAR CALLS FOR END TO 'WAR ON DRUGS' ( Top )
By Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Czar reaffirms support for clean syringes to reduce HIV and ending raids on marijuana dispensaries.
STUDENTS SAY LEGALIZING DRUGS WILL SAVE MEXICO FROM VIOLENT CARTELS ( Top )
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE! POTENT POT, SO WHAT? ( Top )
By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR LEGALIZING MARIJUANA ( Top )
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox says it is time to 'open the debate' on legalizing drugs.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 05/13/09 - Maia Szalavitz
Maia Szalavitz, author of "Help at Any Cost" + Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & Abolitionist Moment/DTN Editorial
Century of Lies - 05/10/09 - Eric Sterling
Eric Sterling, president of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation discusses mandatory minimums + Professor Jeffrey Miron & former drug czar John Walters on CNN + Abolitionists Moment
MAPS NEWS - MAY 2009 ( Top )
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies News
BILL O' REILLY AND JOSEPH CALIFANO ON CANNABIS LEGALIZATION ( Top )
Intellectual discretion is advised.
HOW COCAINE MARKETS HAVE BEEN HIT BY THE FINANCIAL CRISES ( Top )
The following commentary on the recent SOCA report has been prepared for the Transform Blog by Axel Klein, Lecturer in the Study of Addictive Behaviour, Centre for Health Service Studies, University of Kent.
Q&A WITH THE NEW DRUG CZAR ( Top )
Gil Kerlikowske, the new director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy sat down with The Wall Street Journal for his first interview since his confirmation last week.
ENDING THE WAR ON DRUGS: THE MOMENT IS NOW ( Top )
By Arianna Huffington
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
WRITE A LETTER ( Top )
White House Czar Calls For End To 'War On Drugs'
DrugSense FOCUS Alert #403 - Thursday, 14 May 2009
TELL THE DRUG CZAR TO END THIS WAR ( Top )
The drug czar said he "wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting 'a war on drugs.'" Urge him to back up the rhetoric by supporting real policy change.
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
EVIDENCE SUGGESTS DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA ( Top )
By TG Storey
I don't use marijuana ( cannabis ). Therefore, from a consumption perspective, I have no interest whether or not it is ever legalized or decriminalized.
As a Canadian taxpayer, though, I do care. I believe that our rate of income taxation is much too high and that our prohibition of cannabis contributes both directly and indirectly to that rate.
On this basis, and also because I believe that adults should be the sole judge of what they put into their bodies, I think that marijuana should be decriminalized and legitimized in the same way that alcohol is now.
No one knows just how big the cannabis industry is in Canada, other than it's BIG. One estimate of its size near the beginning of the century was about $4 billion annually. A Forbes magazine article from 2003 suggested that British Columbia alone might produce more than that.
Four billion dollars is about what drug store giant Shopper's Drug Mart tallied in gross revenues in 2002.
One important difference between that company and the Canadian marijuana industry is that Shopper's Drug Mart reportedly paid more than $130 million in income taxes that year.
The underground marijuana industry paid none.
Cannabis was also exempt from the taxes, including GST, that are paid on products like tobacco and alcohol.
In addition to missing out on substantial tax revenues, Canadian taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars every year in an attempt to enforce our marijuana laws and, in so doing, divert valuable police resources from other concerns.
Does our prohibition of marijuana work? Obviously not, if it spawns a $4 billion a year underground industry. There are even marijuana grow houses springing up here in Cochrane.
In 2006, Canada had the highest per capita marijuana use of any industrialized country. The 2007 United Nations World Drug Report indicates that in the previous year 16.8 per cent of Canadians between ages 15 and 64 had used marijuana.
That's a million Canadians.
But at least we're keeping it out of the hands of kids!
Well no, actually, we are not. The same United Nations report indicates that marijuana use by Canadian young people is widespread. For example, in 2005 an estimated 24.4 per cent of Ontario students in Grades 7 through 11 used marijuana.
It's strange how our laws work in that regard. In the 1960s Toronto I, as a teenager, observed that marijuana, a strictly illegal drug, was more accessible to people my age than was alcohol, a decriminalized but regulated drug. Cannabis was available through contacts at school, at church and even Boy Scouts. Bootleggers of alcohol were harder to find.
Support for at least the partial decriminalization of marijuana is found in some unlikely places. One such place is the 2002 Senate Special Committee Summary Report on Illegal Drugs. It recommends that "the government of Canada amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to create a criminal exemption scheme.
This legislation should stipulate the conditions for obtaining licenses as well as for producing and selling cannabis; criminal penalties for illegal trafficking and export; and the preservation of criminal penalties for all activities falling outside the scope of the exemption scheme."
The report is a real eye-opener. Some other interesting highlights are as follows:
* Cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use.
* Cannabis itself is not a cause of delinquency and crime.
* Physical dependency on cannabis is virtually non-existent.
* Psychological dependency is moderate and is certainly lower than for nicotine or alcohol.
* Cannabis alone, particularly in low doses, has little effect on the skills involved in automobile driving.
* The prohibition of cannabis does not bring about the desired reduction in cannabis consumption.
* Over 20,000 Canadians are arrested each year for cannabis possession.
* The continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself or the regulated marketing of the substance.
To believe that marijuana is harmless, however, is naive.
The Senate report outlines numerous negative consequences of using it as does every drug pamphlet you read. For that and other reasons the use of cannabis is generally a poor life choice and a misuse of one's time and money.
The same applies to smoking and excessive alcohol use.
The fact of the matter, however, is that marijuana is here in a big way and we must deal with it. To date we've done that rather expensively and ineffectively. A new approach is needed.
According to Angus Reid polls conducted in 2007 and 2008, a majority of Canadians believe that marijuana should be legalized.
I do not entirely agree. To me the term "legalization" suggests the removal of all restrictions.
I suggest instead that we decriminalize cannabis, legitimize it, tax it and sell it under government control to adults at prices low enough to compete with the $4 billion-plus underground marijuana industry and put that industry out of business.
There would still be government oversight, enforcement and control but criminal sanctions for possession of cannabis for personal use would disappear. And as is the case with tobacco, advertising of cannabis would be prohibited.
The tax revenues gained on the legitimate sale of cannabis and the money saved on ineffective enforcement efforts could finance drug education programs in our schools to hammer an anti-drug message into students from their first day of kindergarten to their last year of college.
In a generation, the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and a host of other drugs would be firmly ingrained in the minds of young people.
Stupidity relative to the use of drugs cannot be legislated out of existence.
We can, however, eliminate ignorance through education. Armed with knowledge of drugs, including nicotine and alcohol, people can make informed, intelligent choices.
And who knows, drug use just might decrease.
Pubdate: Wed, 06 May 2009
Source: Cochrane Eagle (CN AB)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
600 Weeks Of DrugSense ( Top )
By Stephen Young
Six years ago, this space contained a piece I wrote called "300 Weeks of DrugSense."
The article examined the history of the DrugSense Weekly newsletter as it published its three-hundreth issue and thanked supporters. It closed like this: "We hope your efforts will lead to this newsletter's redundancy before we put out another 300 issues."
Well... We're still here at Issue 600. And it would appear that, with the continued help of our supporters, we will be publishing for the foreseeable future.
The drug war continues to rage, but more are questioning it, particularly with respect to cannabis. Back in the spring of 2003, I would not have imagined that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the person to bring a new level of seriousness to the debate over cannabis policy.
At the same time, I wouldn't have imagined that Schwarzenegger would also be the person who single-handedly stopped industrial hemp in California just a few years earlier.
But that's what we've seen, and I suspect, what we will continue to see. We will keep sifting through the news that comes through the Media Awareness Project watch for small evolutions like the one Schwarzenegger displayed.
We will also continue to sift through the news to watch for the excesses which define the war on drugs.
This time, I'm not going out on a limb and say that our final issue is in sight at any given date. However, I suspect in the course of the next 600 issues, the number of stories about reforms will increase, while the number of stories about excesses will decrease.
We wouldn't have been able to come this far without help from volunteers who hawk and edit the news, as well as DrugSense financial contributors who keep us online - thanks to all of you.
We can always use more help with time and money - see how to newshawk here -http://www.mapinc.org/hawk.htm
And, you can always donate here - http://www.drugsense.org/donate/
Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly. He is the producer of the documentary Government Grown - http://www.governmentgrownhemp.com/ - and the author of How to Inhale The Universe Without Wheezing.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffers, not the state." - Mark Twain
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NOTICE: ( Top )
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