This Just In
(1)Designated Immigration Agents Authorized to Participate in Drug Enforcement
(2)Budget Omits Grants for School Drug Programs
(3)Report Calls for Overhaul of Drug Crime Policies
(4)Garden Grove's Tab on Medical Marijuana Case Reaches $219,000

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 19 Jun 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Josh Meyer, Reporting from Washington

An Agreement Is Reached to Limit Drug Trafficking at the U.S.-Mexico Border, a Move Intended to End the Turf War Between the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In an effort to plug a hole in U.S.-Mexico drug enforcement, the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced an agreement Thursday that will give designated immigration agents expanded powers to pursue drug investigations.

A key goal is to end the long-standing turf battles between the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement that many critics believe have hampered investigations.

The agreement will allow an "unlimited" number of ICE agents to be cross-designated as DEA agents, giving them the authority to investigate suspected drug smugglers at the border and internationally -- a prerogative that in the past has been jealously guarded by the DEA.

Both departments also pledged greater information sharing and better coordination of activities.

"Moving past old disputes and ensuring cooperation between all levels of our departments has been one of our top priorities since taking office," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.


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Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

Obama Reverses Previous Support; Administration Calls Them Ineffective

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's first budget proposes to end state grants for school drug programs that he and Vice President Biden fought for as senators.

Last year, when President Bush asked Congress to stop funding the grants under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program, Obama, Biden and 35 other senators protested. They signed a letter calling it "the backbone of youth drug prevention" that was "making a difference" for 37 million children. They signed similar letters in 2006 and 2007.

Obama's budget calls the program "poorly designed" and cites a 2001 study by the RAND Drug Policy Research Center that found it "profoundly flawed."

The grants are too small to be effective, says William Modzeleski, head of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the Education Department. More than half the recipients get less than $10,000, he says.

Funding has declined since 2003, when Congress allotted $472 million for the grants. In 2006 and 2007, Bush proposed cutting out the program but Congress allotted $346.5 million each year. Last year, Bush requested $100 million; Congress nearly tripled it to $295 million.

"The inherent flaw in these state grants is it tries to do too much with too little," Modzeleski says. "It's not that we don't need to spend some money on creating safe schools for kids. That's paramount. That's critical. But we have to do it in an effective manner."




Pubdate: Fri, 19 Jun 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Matt Byrne, Globe Correspondent

The Massachusetts Bar Association, in a wide-ranging report released yesterday, called for the overhaul and reexamination of law enforcement efforts to combat drug use and the penalties nonviolent drug users face under current laws.

The report, titled "The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth," says its recommendations could save the state $25 million annually through reduced minimum sentencing and the parole of nonviolent drug offenders, according to a statement from the bar association.

The report calls drug policies obsolete. "What appears to the task force as obsolete in state drug policy is the idea of using the criminal justice system to control what people consume," it says.

The report points to four areas of widespread failure: the increase of arrests without the diminished use of illegal drugs, a disparate impact of drug laws on minority groups, economic effects for offenders looking for work with a criminal record, and high rates of recidivism.

In the short term, the report calls for reformulation of mandatory minimum sentences linked to drug crimes in school zones, diversion programs for nonviolent offenders with drug addiction, and more opportunities for work-release, parole, and "good conduct" credit.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 2009
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Orange County Register
Author: Deepa Bharath, The Orange County Register

The City Fought a Lengthy Court Battle Refusing to Return Man's Medical Marijuana.

GARDEN GROVE The city has paid out $139,000 in attorney's fees to medical marijuana advocates, bringing to an end a four-year court battle in which the city fought the return of a patient's 8 grams in spite of repeated court decisions ordering the city to give his marijuana back.

Americans for Safe Access received the check Wednesday as part of a settlement agreement in the case involving Felix Kha, whose marijuana was seized during a traffic stop. He was issued a citation.

Including this payment, the city has spent about $219,000 on this case, City Attorney Thomas Nixon said today.

Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said the outcome of Kha's case is a victory for medical marijuana patients' rights.

"It's unfortunate that the city of Garden Grove felt the need to spend $250,000 over marijuana that was worth about $200," he said, referring to his estimate of what the city has paid. "They made it extremely difficult for us when they should have returned the marijuana to Mr. Kha three years ago."

City officials say Kha did not have documentation for the marijuana at the time police stopped him, but later produced documentation. The citation was dismissed by an Orange County Superior Court Judge.

But the city of Garden Grove fought it, maintaining that the marijuana should not be returned because federal law lists marijuana as an illegal substance.

The biggest legal challenge before the city was this dichotomy between state and federal law when it comes to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The case has turned out to be a "disaster" for Garden Grove, said City Councilman Bruce Broadwater.

"I don't think that we should have spent so much money on an issue where the law is so fuzzy," he said. "To be honest, this one got by us. We, the city council, should have been more savvy and stopped when we should have."

Broadwater acknowledged that City Council members "went along" with the police department on this matter and said they should not have.

Garden Grove police Chief Joseph Polisar said the City Council unanimously supported the decision to move forward with the case. Nothing was done without the council's wholehearted approval, the chief said.

It would be easy to fix this legal mess if marijuana was taken off the schedule of narcotics at the federal level, he said.

"It would be a good thing to ask our federal representatives why they haven't done that," Polisar said.





The drug war has been intellectually bankrupt since it started. But as drug prohibition (particularly cannabis prohibition) faces increased public criticism, it's proponents are becoming even more idiotic. Take U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, for example. Far from acknowledging the failure of the war on marijuana, Kirk unveiled a proposal last week that amounts to a fantasy plan that will merely bloat budgets and prison populations while having no actual impact on drug use or distribution.

Elsewhere, some others are approaching the problem with more thought. Many cities are trying a new anti-drug program that attempts to avoid arrests. And two more voices rip apart prohibition ideology.


Pubdate: Mon, 15 Jun 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Lisa Black, Tribune reporter

North Shore Republican to Propose Legislation Setting Penalties of Up to 25 Years in Prison for Selling 'Kush'

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk will call for legislation Monday that would toughen drug-trafficking laws regarding a highly potent form of marijuana, with penalties of up to 25 years in prison for a first-time offense.

The law would target offenders who sell or distribute marijuana that has a THC content exceeding 15 percent, which is between 5 and 10 percentage points higher than average marijuana, according to Kirk's office.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main active ingredient in marijuana.

Drug dealers are increasingly cross-breeding plants to produce high-potency variants of marijuana, which are called "kush" in street slang when they have 20 percent THC, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curransaid.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jun 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Gary Fields

At least 30 cities are expected to announce Monday that they are joining an unorthodox crime-fighting program that relies on persuasion, rather than arrests, to cut down on criminal behavior.

The initiative, run by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, targets violent crime and open-air drug markets that are the scourge of some communities. The program is potentially controversial because it involves not prosecuting known offenders if they agree to quit their criminal activities.

The National Network for Safe Communities, which is slated to be unveiled at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will be run in cities including Boston, Cincinnati, High Point, N.C., Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Providence, R.I., where the mayors' gathering began Friday. Developed by David Kennedy, a criminologist at John Jay College in New York, the crime program combines elements of initiatives run in the 1990s in Boston and in High Point in 2004 that were credited by authorities with helping reduce youth gang and drug violence.

Boston authorities say their program cut youth homicides by two-thirds and homicides citywide by half. The High Point plan eliminated drug markets citywide, the city says. Under the project, law-enforcement officials and prosecutors in the cities identify individuals operating in violent-crime areas who haven't yet committed serious violent crimes, and build cases against them, including undercover operations and surveillance. The culmination is a "call in" when the case is presented to the would-be suspect in front of law enforcement, community leaders, ex-offenders and friends and family.




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Jun 2009
Source: Albany Herald, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Albany Herald Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Carlton Fletcher

What I'm about to say bears explanation. I'll try to get there ... so stick with me.

The United States government's so-called war on drugs is a dismal failure. The outlaws who grow, manufacture and distribute illegal substances are far too clever, motivated and well-equipped to be stopped by the understaffed and underfunded agencies charged with stopping them.

The results: We've turned our neighbor to the south into a dangerous drug state run by drug lords whose operations are financed by this country's demand for an ever-increasing supply of their product.

With that scenario in mind, I'd like to go on record as favoring the decriminalization of marijuana in this country. Now, my simply repeating what others more educated and eloquent have said before me is of little significance. But let me give you a little background to help you understand why my making such a statement will at least raise the eyebrows of those who know me.

I have never tried pot. Ever. Not one hit, one toke, one puff, one .. whatever cool word is in vogue today. Never even been tempted.



Pubdate: Sun, 14 Jun 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Nicholas D. Kristof

This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's start of the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won.

"We've spent a trillion dollars prosecuting the war on drugs," Norm Stamper, a former police chief of Seattle, told me. "What do we have to show for it? Drugs are more readily available, at lower prices and higher levels of potency. It's a dismal failure."

For that reason, he favors legalization of drugs, perhaps by the equivalent of state liquor stores or registered pharmacists. Other experts favor keeping drug production and sales illegal but decriminalizing possession, as some foreign countries have done.



COMMENTS: (9-12)

Does economic recession make the illegal drug market more dangerous? A report out of Toronto suggests so.

Elsewhere, a Florida newspaper criticizes the state on a bad plan to export prisoners to other states; a Mexican police chief wants asylum from drug war violence; and brazen dealers in Canada allegedly hand out business cards to students.


Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jun 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Author: Robyn Doolittle

More People Take To Dealing As Economy Worsens And City Police Say It Has Set Off String Of Violence

It seems no industry, even among the illicit ones, has been able to escape the global recession.

Toronto police officials say the economic downturn is one factor in a violent turf war playing out in the city, as dealers flood the market and buyers find themselves hard up for cash.

"The drug economy is changing. Because of the ( global ) economy, it seems more people are dealing or are working in the drug trade now," said Deputy Chief Tony Warr.

At the same time, buyers have less money to spend.

It comes down to basic supply and demand, Warr said.

"There's more competition, but less money. And the disputes between drug dealers are getting violent ... as they fight over turf."

It's a trend in cities across North America, said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

"Communities that are right on the economic margin suffer the most during an economic downturn," he said. "Those persons who may already be criminally active to some degree may expand their activity when there's little to no legitimate economic activity available."


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Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.

Tackle Prison Overcrowding From the Other End

The Florida Legislature passed a "just in case" bill that its author, Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, calls a "passive safety net," not a mandate. But the philosophy behind SB 1722, which becomes law July 1, is based on regressive thinking.

It would allow the corrections department to ship inmates to other states in case prison overcrowding forces early releases here.

Fund Programs

This is a patchwork solution that misses the point. Florida should be fighting crime at the front end -- not shipping prisoners to be warehoused out of state.

To reduce prison beds the state has to adequately fund programs to reduce school drop-out rates and increase job-training and life-skills classes. It means counseling and access to needed services for troubled families with teens who have strayed but not fallen off the deep end yet.


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Pubdate: Mon, 15 Jun 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Andrew Becker

Mexico Under Siege

Julio Ledezma had been chief of police in La Junta, a town of 8,700 in northern Mexico, for barely three months when a pair of strangers paid him a visit.

They said an aide to the mayor had sent them, and they bore gifts: a briefcase stuffed with cash and a truck for Ledezma's personal use.

In return, the new chief was to distract federal police at security checkpoints with fake calls for assistance. The diversion would allow drug traffickers to drive through the area without inspection.

Ledezma could refuse -- and be killed.

He could take the bribe -- and be owned by the Juarez cartel.

He chose to stall. He told the men he had to talk to his boss first. He approached civic leaders, trying to rally support. Word got back to the traffickers, and on Ledezma's 45th birthday, six men with military rifles surrounded his home while he was out buying steaks and jalapenos for his birthday dinner.

The gunmen told his wife that they would find him and kill him, no matter where he went in Mexico. They waited about 20 minutes, then left.

When Ledezma returned, he realized that resistance was not an option. He drove to Juarez with his wife and their 15-year-old daughter and crossed the Bridge of the Americas into El Paso. There, they asked for political asylum.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jun 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Surrey Now

Surrey RCMP have shut down a blatant drug-dealing operation at Johnston Heights secondary school where police say the accused traffickers were handing out business cards to students.

The drug squad, acting on information from students, said it arrested two males, ages 21 and 23, and seized four ounces of crack cocaine and more than a pound of marijuana -- a combined estimated value of about $10,000. They also seized $1,600 in cash. Police learned of the operation through the school's RCMP liaison program.



COMMENTS: (13-16)

An international consortium of treatment providers has published guidelines on how to intervene when friends and relatives become addicted to cannabis.

The Rhode Island House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode Governor Donald Carcieri's veto of a bill to establish state-licensed medicinal cannabis dispensaries.

Drug warriors in Florida are discovering what happens when police crack down on outdoor cultivation.

Many Americans are wondering if it is finally time to legalize cannabis, but how long will this reefer renaissance last?


Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jun 2009
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Julia Medew and Ari Sharp

When Sean started smoking cannabis as a teenager, it seemed like a harmless thing to do. At first, he and his mates smoked "joints" at parties to relax and have a laugh, but as the years went by, Sean found himself smoking the drug about four times a week.

"Of all the drugs around, it was totally acceptable," he said.

But when Sean started university a few years ago, things changed. One day, the voice of a female friend started talking to him when she was not around.

"It seemed OK at first, I kinda thought it was normal, but then I started hearing my neighbours voices too," he said.

Within months of the voices starting, Sean, who does not want to disclose his full name, was an involuntary patient suffering from drug-induced psychosis. He is now working and his illness is controlled by medication, but sometimes, Sean wishes someone had intervened to stop his cannabis use before he became ill.

People like Sean's family and friends are now the target of a world- first set of guidelines on how to talk to cannabis users, when to seek professional help, and how to administer "mental health first aid" when people become psychotic or have panic attacks on the drug. "The sooner someone receives help for their cannabis use or mental health problems the better the outcome," said Dan Lubman from Orygen Youth Health, one of the groups behind the guidelines.

The guidelines, which had input from a panel of experts in five countries, are targetted at problem users among the more than one- third of people aged 14 and over who have used the drug, according to a 2007 survey from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jun 2009
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal Company
Authors: Donita Naylor and Cynthia Needham, Journal Staff Writers

Rhode Island became the third state in the country Tuesday to allow the sale of marijuana for medical purposes.

The House and Senate easily overrode Governor Carcieri's veto of bills that would permit up to three dispensaries that advocates have dubbed "compassion centers."

In 2006, the General Assembly permanently legalized the use of medical marijuana. Doctors could prescribe it for critically ill patients. But there was no legal way to buy the drug, leaving patients or their caregivers to grow it, or buy it on the street.

For the more than 600 Rhode Islanders who rely on medical marijuana to help relieve the unimaginable suffering that some diseases cause, or to relieve their nausea enough to take food, this will provide not only relief and safety, but also dignity," said Rep. Thomas C. Slater, who sponsored the bill in the House and is himself battling advanced cancer.

Sick people should not be forced to associate with drug dealers and the dark underbelly of society to get the help they need. I'm glad we're finally recognizing their right to access marijuana safely, legally and without needless shame or fear," said Slater, a Providence Democrat.


States now considering creation of state-licensed dispensaries include Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and a ballot initiative is being circulated in Arizona, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. This November, Maine voters will consider a ballot initiative to add dispensaries to the state's medical marijuana law.




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jun 2009
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2009 News-Journal Corporation
Author: Julie Murphy, Staff Writer

Self-sufficiency, pride, the economy and a perceived responsibility to stem international terrorism all are reasons why a growing number of people are cultivating their own marijuana, according to lobbyists who want to change pot laws.

"The more government has pushed on 'outside' growers (both out of country and out of doors), the more this has moved indoors," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Through government programs meant to eradicate marijuana, local production has grown."

And local law enforcement agrees on one point -- more times than not, the grow houses busted belong to individuals and not drug cartels.

"Most are isolated, stand-alone cases," Volusia County sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said after the latest operation in which two grow houses were raided on the west side of the county and three others taken down on the east side of the county. Agents seized 1,085 plants total.

Two recent raids involved highly engineered enterprises with hundreds of plants each.

One in DeLeon Springs had caverns dug below a backyard storage shed and a 65-foot crawlspace tunnel leading to it from the house. The other, west of DeLand, was a compound fortified with an 8-foot-tall concrete wall to help hide a 22-foot-tall, two-story storage shed of at least 5,000 square feet.

Two of the men arrested recently in the grow house busts are middle- age with minimal criminal backgrounds.

This jibes with what St. Pierre says of the "average" grower.

"Of the user patterns in the United States, the vast amount who grow take themselves out of the black market," St. Pierre said.


St. Pierre said it's only because of a "bizarre incentive" given to Florida law enforcement that grow houses have become targets. The grow houses themselves are possible because of information and technology, thanks largely to the Internet.




Pubdate: Tue, 16 Jun 2009
Source: Hartford Advocate (CT)
Copyright: 2009 New Mass. Media, Inc.
Author: Mike Miliard
Note: This story first appeared in the Boston Phoenix.

Is Now The Time To Legalize Pot?

The Obama administration, already overtaxed with two foreign campaigns, made headlines when it waved a white flag in a fight much closer to home. Gil Kerlikowske, the White House's newly minted director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy -- the so- called drug czar -- called for an end to the "War on Drugs."

Granted, Kerlikowske wasn't signaling an intention to lay down arms and pick up a pack of E-Z Widers. His was a semantic shift -- a pledge to abandon gung-ho fighting words and imprisonment in favor of treatment. But it was newsworthy nonetheless. As Bruce Mirken, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project -- the biggest pot-policy-reform group in the country -- puts it: "Can you imagine [Bush administration czar] John Walters saying that? The Earth would open up!"

It wouldn't be surprising if Kerlikowske's speech was actually a subtle testing of the political landscape surrounding the marijuana question, as we find ourselves, quite suddenly, at a pivotal moment in the push for pot legalization.

The horrific violence of Mexican cartels, which make perhaps as much as 75 percent of their money from marijuana (in Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's estimation), has started ebbing across our Southwestern borders. The budget meltdown in California has led state pols -- even, once unthinkably, GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- to reconsider the tax revenues ($14 billion, according to Time) that could be harvested from the Golden State's biggest cash crop. Politicians, no longer confined to the left and libertarian right, are increasingly willing to say that legalization makes sense.

Nearly every day offers another object lesson in the merits of marijuana reform. And the American people seem to be noticing.



COMMENTS: (17-20)

Suppose you're a prohibitionist, and suppose that you ordered up a nice report on coca and cocaine - one that was sure to illustrate the human misery and evil this substance symbolizes. Ok, now suppose the report you ordered up (from the scientists you hired) instead of saying that coca and cocaine were evil incarnate, instead, explained, "Occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems ... a minority of people ... use casually for a short or long period, and suffer little or no negative consequences." What about chewing coca leaves, or sipping coca leaf tea? "Use of coca leaves appears to have no negative health effects and has positive, therapeutic, sacred and social functions for indigenous Andean populations." What's a drug warrior to do? The UN Health body, WHO, after producing such a report was threatened by the U.S. and so pretended they never saw the nasty legalizer report. The report, which was highly critical of U.S. drug prohibition, was produced in 1997, but leaked only now, 12 years later.

Prohibitionists are always itching to undo cannabis reforms (however modest they may be). In West Australia last week, a Westpoll survey showed that most West Australians expect jailing people for a few cannabis plants will "actually encourage the use of amphetamines." The State Government in Western Australia made the repeal of existing (very modest) cannabis decrim laws there a centerpiece its policy seeking to have the "two plants allowance abolished and the possession threshold lowered to 15g."

And finally this week, two perspectives on the new Canadian C-15 mandatory-minimums-for-cannabis laws. "[T]he failed 'war on drugs", which costs taxpayers billions... every year, but does absolutely nothing to lower availability or use," is a "cheap public gesture" that "will not help." C-15 imposes "minimum jail sentences to anybody convicted of trafficking marihuana or producing [even a] small quantity." Asks Pierre Lemieux of the Western Standard, "Whose body is it, anyway?"


Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jun 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Ben Goldacre, The Guardian


In the case of cocaine there is an even more striking precedent for evidence being ignored: the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted what is probably the largest ever study of global use. In March 1995 they released a briefing kit which summarised their conclusions, with some tantalising bullet points.

"Health problems from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater than health problems from cocaine use," they said. "Cocaine-related problems are widely perceived to be more common and more severe for intensive, high-dosage users and very rare and much less severe for occasional, low-dosage users."

The full report - which has never been published - was extremely critical of most U.S. policies. It suggested that supply reduction and law enforcement strategies have failed, and that options such as decriminalisation might be explored, flagging up such programmes in Australia, Bolivia, Canada and Colombia. "Approaches which over-emphasise punitive drug control measures may actually contribute to the development of heath-related problems," it said, before committing heresy by recommending research into the adverse consequences of prohibition, and discussing "harm reduction" strategies.


It then descended into outright heresy. "Occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems ... a minority of people ... use casually for a short or long period, and suffer little or no negative consequences."

And finally: "Use of coca leaves appears to have no negative health effects and has positive, therapeutic, sacred and social functions for indigenous Andean populations."

At the point where mild cocaine use was described in positive tones the Americans presumably blew some kind of outrage fuse. This report was never published because the U.S. representative to the WHO threatened to [snip]



Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jun 2009
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Author: Robert Taylor, State Political Editor

The majority of West Australians believe repealing the State's cannabis laws will either have no effect or actually encourage the use of amphetamines, according to the latest Westpoll.

The State Government wants to repeal Labor's drug laws, which allow people caught with up to 30g of cannabis, two plants or a smoking implement to be given an infringement notice rather than face a criminal charge. The Liberals plan to reinstate the cautioning system for possession only, lower the threshold to 10g and scrap the two plants allowance.

Before the last election, Labor also promised amendments to the laws which would have seen the two plants allowance abolished and the possession threshold lowered to 15g.




Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2009
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Sault Star

To toughen up criminal justice, the federal government has chosen to pursue mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers.

It's not only cowardly, following the ongoing and vapid assumption that any anti-drug policy will instantly garner wide public support; it also shows federal politicians to be dreadfully out of touch with the Canadian public.

Though the results of opinion surveys vary widely, few any more show a majority support for continuing or escalating the failed "war on drugs", which costs taxpayers billions--yes, billions--of enforcement dollars every year, but does absolutely nothing to lower availability or use.


Mandatory minimums are cheap public gestures and will not help make Canadian streets safer. Legalizing, controlling content and distributing drugs in the same manner as alcohol would take profits away from criminals, so that they could instead be used for public benefit, including treating the small percentage that become addicted.



Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2009
Source: Western Standard (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Western Standard
Author: Pierre Lemieux

Bill C-15, Imposing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug-Related "Crimes", Passed on Third Reading. Expect to Lose More of Your Liberty.


Remember C-15 when your neighbour or your son or granddaughter will be sent to jail.

The war on drugs has served as an excuse for a wholesale onslaught on our liberties and an obscene increase in government power. It has justified money laundering laws, detailed surveillance of money transactions, new search and seizure powers, civil forfeiture, reversal of the burden of proof, militarization of the police, and so forth. Bill C-15 continues the trend.

We paid this humongous price not only for countering hard, debilitating drugs, but also to fight soft drugs like marihuana which is not more risky than tobacco and certainly wreaks less havoc than alcohol.

And who are we to think that this or that individual should not consume this or that product? If he is so stupid, why does he have the right to vote? Perhaps drugs (whatever you include in this category) are like "soma" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, repressing unwelcome but useful emotions and experiences; or perhaps, in certain circumstances, they open new dimensions of reality. Whose body is it, anyway? John Stuart Mill gave the definitive answer in On Liberty (1859): "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

Last but not least, those of us who don't consume the drugs that the state actually defines as illegal should remember one unavoidable feature of a free society: there is no way we can expect drug consumers to defend our own peaceful rights -- to browse the internet or have guns in our bedrooms or purchase incandescent light bulbs or whatever -- if we don't also recognize their rights to do what they please on their own property.

How did MPs vote on C-15? All the Liberals present in the House sided with the Conservatives. The NDP and Bloc Quebecois, who usually jump on any opportunity to crush individual sovereignty, were, in this case, on the libertarian side of the fence, and voted "Nay". Two Conservative MPs who many of us thought could be trusted to rise in defence of liberty chose instead to do their job as obedient voting machines and to bring their little stone to the construction of the Soft Police State.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Medical Marijuana presents laws, studies, statistics, surveys, government reports, and pro and con statements on questions related to marijuana as medicine.


Drug Warrior Congressman's Idea Is Way Obsolete

By Paul Armentano, NORML

Rep. Mark Kirk thinks that the magic number of 15% THC concentration in marijuana should lead to a 25-year prison penalty.


from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #590, 6/19/09


We're taking a close look at marijuana this week. Is there a case for legalization? What about using marijuana for medical purposes? We're digging deeper tonight and we talk to people on all sides of the debate. What are your questions? (Day 1 Pt 1) (Day 1 Pt 2)

Dr. Sanja Gupta On Medical Marijuana

Rob Kampia, MPP vs. David Evans, DFAF


Century of Lies - 06/14/09 - Joel Hochman

Dr. Joel Hochman, Exec. Dir. of National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain + Charles Lynch gets 1 year & 1 day for dispensing cannabis + Phil Smith on California's fall into the abyss.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 06/17/09 - Casper Leitch

Casper Leitch, producer and host of, discusses history of his efforts + Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project on the legislatures over ride of the governors veto in Rhode Island & more


By Don Hazen, AlterNet

Pot entrepreneur Richard Lee envisions a professional marijuana industry much like the one that exists in Amsterdam.


The largest ever study of cocaine use around the globe was carried out in the early 90's by the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) and funded by the UN Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), but under pressure from the US its publication was suppressed when it became clear the report's findings were in direct conflict with the myths, stereotypes and propaganda that prop up the war on drugs.



Please use the form below to write your member of Congress and ask for his or her support.


By Jill Harris

We must learn how to reduce the harms from drug use, including reducing the unconscionable and unnecessary number of deaths from overdose.



By Walter Hoffman

For some four decades or more the federal government has been waging a "war" on narcotic drugs. Presidents have come and gone, all swearing to control the use of such drugs and appoint drug czars with great fanfare to wage this "war," only to have such czars fade away into oblivion without victory in sight. During this time our prisons have become filled to overflowing with minor drug dealers and users; entire nations have become narco-states in order to supply the world's demand for these drugs; and we are spending $40 billion annually on trying to control this supply ( The Economist, March 7). All with what result?

Today, our neighbor to the south, Mexico, is becoming a narco-state, with the drug cartels controlling much of the law enforcement, judicial and the political bodies of the state; the tentacles of these cartels are now reaching into the United States where they control the drug traffic and are certainly suborning many of our law enforcement officials; drugs may be purchased at many street corners throughout our nation; the Taliban in Afghanistan is financed by the opium trade in their war against us; and we continue to spend millions of dollars without any hope of overcoming this problem. The solution?

Legalize these controlled substances and establish government operated stores to dispense retail amounts of these drugs at prices that would damp down their use while discouraging a black market. Such a move would not only put the drug lords out of business but also transform drugs from a law and order problem into a public health problem. Proceeds from the sale of these drugs would be used to educate the public.

Walter Hoffman Polk City

Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jun 2009
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)


Lawmakers Call For An End To Federal Marijuana Prosecutions  ( Top )

By Allen St. Pierre

Washington, DC: Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with co-sponsors Ron Paul (R-TX); Maurice Hinchey (D-NY); Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), will reintroduce legislation today to limit the federal government's authority to arrest and prosecute minor marijuana offenders.norml_remember_prohibition_

The measure, entitled an "Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults," would eliminate federal penalties for the personal possession of up to 100 grams (over three and one-half ounces) of cannabis and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of pot - making the prosecutions of these offenses strictly a state matter.

Under federal law, defendants found guilty of possessing small amounts of cannabis for their own personal use face up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

Passage of this act would provide state lawmakers the choice to maintain their current penalties for minor marijuana offenses or eliminate them completely. Lawmakers would also have the option to explore legal alternatives to tax and regulate the adult use and distribution of cannabis free from federal interference.

To date, thirteen states have enacted laws "decriminalizing" the possession of marijuana by adults. Minor marijuana offenders face a citation and small fine in lieu of a criminal arrest or time in jail.

"The federal government has much more important business to attend to than targeting, arresting and prosecuting adults who use marijuana responsibly," NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. "This is an issue that ought to be handled by the states, not the Feds."

According to nationwide polls, three out of four voters believe that adults who possess marijuana should not face arrest or jail, and one out of two now say that cannabis should be regulated like alcohol.

The reintroduction of the Frank/Paul bill comes one week after the duo reintroduced HR 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009 - which seeks to halt federal interference in states that have enacted medical marijuana laws - and just days after Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) called for federal legislation to sentence certain first-time marijuana offenders to 25 years in prison.

"The U.S. Congress has a definite choice," said St. Pierre. "They can choose the path of compassion, fiscal responsibility, and common sense by supporting Barney Frank's and Ron Paul's efforts, or they can continue down America's failed drug war path by endorsing Rep. Kirk's draconian legislation. It is abundantly clear which direction the voters wish to go; will their elected officials follow?"

Allen St. Pierre is NORML Executive Director. This piece originally appeared at the NORML Blog -


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