This Just In
(1)Drug-Cartel Links Haunt an Election South of Border
(2)Senate Commission To Study Marijuana Decriminalization
(3)Canadian Caught In U.S. Prison Limbo
(4)Medical Pot Users, Growers Can Sue Over Raids

Hot Off The 'Net
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-Drug Truth Network
-The Mclaughlin Group Discusses Medical Marijuana
-U.S. Gives Up On Eradicating Afghan Opium Poppies
-Americans For Safe Access Monthly Activist Newsletter

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 3 Jul 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Joel Millman and Jose de Cordoba

COLIMA, Mexico -- The candidacy of Mario Anguiano, running for governor in a state election here Sunday, says a lot about Mexican politics amid the rise of the drug cartels.

A brother of the candidate is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Mexico for peddling methamphetamine. Another Anguiano is serving 27 years in a Texas prison for running a huge meth ring. A few weeks ago, a hand-painted banner hung on a highway overpass cited the Zetas, the bloodthirsty executioners for the Gulf Cartel drug gang, praising the candidate: "The Zetas support you, and we are with you to the death."

Mr. Anguiano says his meth-dealing brother was just an addict who sold small amounts to support his habit. He says the man jailed in Texas, reported by local media to be his cousin, may or may not be a relative. "If he is my cousin, I've never met him," he says. Denying any involvement with traffickers, he says the supposed Zetas endorsement was just a dirty trick by his election rivals.

If so, it backfired. In the weeks after the banner made local headlines, new polls showed Mr. Anguiano pulling ahead in the race. He is expected to be elected governor on Sunday.

The reaction suggests how blase some voters have become about allegations of ties between their politicians and the drug underworld, as Mexico prepares to elect a new lower house of Congress, some state governors and many mayors. This, even as political experts and law-enforcement people worry that violent drug gangs are increasingly bankrolling a wide range of politicians' campaigns across Mexico, in return for turning a blind eye to their activities.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 2009
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau

PROVIDENCE - Weeks after legalizing the sale of marijuana to sick people, lawmakers have voted to explore how much Rhode Island might collect in revenue if it were to make all sales of marijuana legal and impose a "sin tax" of $35 per ounce.

During the General Assembly's aborted rush to adjournment Friday, the Senate approved a resolution - introduced earlier the same day - to create a nine-member special commission to study a swath of issues surrounding marijuana. Among them: "The experience of individuals and families sentenced for violating marijuana laws ... The experience of states and European countries, such as California, Massachusetts and the Netherlands, which have decriminalized the sale and use of marijuana."

The sponsors of the eleventh-hour measure - which requires no further action - include Senators Joshua Miller, D-Cranston; Leo Blais, R-Coventry; Rhoda Perry, D-Providence; Charles Levesque, D-Portsmouth, and Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown.

In a brief interview Wednesday, Miller said the resolution was sparked by the referendum-driven move to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts, and by what he perceives as "a national trend towards decriminalization." In November 2008, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, making getting caught with less than an ounce of pot punishable by a civil fine of $100.

Asked why he waited until what was to be the last day of the session to introduce the measure, Miller said he and his fellow sponsors felt it was "very important" for this study to be "defined as an issue" completely separate and apart from the passage - over Governor Carcieri's veto - of legislation allowing the creation of state-regulated dispensaries to sell marijuana for medicinal use.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Gary Dimmock

Americans OK Transfer From 'Tough' Jail, But Canada Fears Man Will Return To Organized Crime

The Harper government has denied an Alberta man's bid for a transfer from a U.S. jail to a Canadian prison on the grounds that he may one day commit a crime.

Brent James Curtis, 28, is in a privately-run, for-profit prison in California serving 57 months after pleading guilty to a $1-million U.S. drug trafficking conspiracy in 2007.

It was his first offence and he pleaded guilty to it right away, saying he was drawn to so-called easy money. He told his family that he didn't feel right mounting a defence because he was guilty.

The one-time elite hockey player -- benched from any chance in the NHL after getting hit by a truck -- makes an interesting argument to win a prison transfer, saying not only that he wants to serve the remainder of his sentence -- two years -- closer to his family and support network, but that if he isn't transferred, he will return home after completing his U.S. sentence without a criminal record in Canada.

The Correctional Service of Canada has confirmed that if Curtis doesn't get a transfer and serves out his term in the U.S., he will return home "a free man" without a criminal record in the system.

But if the Harper government approves the transfer, which the U.S. administration has already done, Curtis would, in fact, have a criminal record in the Canadian criminal system.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Medical marijuana patients and growers can sue police for illegally raiding their property and destroying their plants, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 2-1 decision by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento was the first in the state to allow a patient or grower to sue claiming that their rights to cultivate and use medical marijuana have been violated. Those rights are protected by state law but banned by federal law.

Officials in Butte County, where the case arose, argued that patients and suppliers can invoke the medical marijuana law only as a defense to criminal charges, not to sue for damages. The court's dissenting justice said no one is entitled to compensation for the destruction of a drug banned under federal law.

But the court's majority said a marijuana patient or member of a collective has the same right as anyone else to sue officers who violate the constitutional ban on illegal searches and seizures.





An interesting variation on a familiar theme: Russian officials are demanding the U.S. reduce heroin exports from Afghanistan into their country, and threatening to restrict U.S. access to Russian controlled transport corridors.

Back in the U.S., some judges are serious about removing inequalities in sentencing standards for convictions involving crack and powder cocaine. Also the drug war continues to get hammered by different aspects of the political spectrum. Mother Jones spends a good portion of its current issue debunking the drug war, while Jacob Sullum effectively challenges the notion that gun trafficking is the cause of the drug war's failure.


Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jun 2009
Source: Moscow Times, The (Russia)
Copyright: 2009 The Moscow Times

The Federal Drug Control Agency said Friday that Moscow should stop the transportation of cargo across its territory to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan if they do not do more to cut the flow of heroin to Russia.

"The granting of transport corridors to NATO forces in Afghanistan should be conditioned on a commitment to destroy sown areas, laboratories, stocks and other infrastructure of the Afghan drug business," agency head Viktor Ivanov told a meeting of ministers and lawmakers.

"This would ... start the real process of improving the drug situation in Russia as well as in Central Asian and European countries," he said.

Earlier this year, Russia and its allies in Central Asia established a transit route for nonlethal supplies to the international forces in Afghanistan to complement a dangerous route via Pakistan.

Citing United Nations data, Ivanov said Afghanistan's output of opiates had grown more than 40-fold since 2001, when the U.S.-led coalition launched its assault on the Taliban. He said the 2008 raw opium crop topped 7,000 tons.




Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jun 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post Staff Writer

Disparity for Crack Crimes Criticized

Federal judges are beginning to equalize punishment for crack and powder cocaine crimes, resulting in shorter prison terms for crack dealers and putting pressure on Congress to address a wide disparity in how the legal system handles cocaine-related offenses.

In two recent rulings and interviews, a federal judge in the District and one in Iowa said they had policy differences with Congress and a judicial commission that they said did not go far enough to change the guidelines for crack sentences in 2007.

>From now on, the judges wrote, they will calculate sentences for crack offenders by using the more-lenient sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine crimes.

Recent Supreme Court rulings and supportive statements from top Justice Department officials paved the way for the judges' decisions. Nonetheless, such unilateral action from the bench is unusual. Legal scholars said the decisions highlight the judiciary's irritation at the slow pace of sentencing reform as Congress considers the first major revision of crack statutes in decades.




Pubdate: Wed, 1 Jul 2009
Source: Mother Jones (US)
Copyright: 2009 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress
Authors: Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery

Since 1998, the Drug Czar Has Been Mandated to Lie to the American People. So What Would a Fact-Based Drug Policy Look Like?

AMONG OUR LEADERS in Washington, who's been the biggest liar? There are all too many contenders, yet one is so floridly surreal that he deserves special attention. Nope, it's not Dick Cheney or Alberto Gonzales or John Yoo. It's a trusted authority figure who's lied for 11 years now, no matter which party held sway. ( Nope, it's not Alan Greenspan. ) This liar didn't end-run Congress, or bully it, or have its surreptitious blessing at the time only to face its indignation later. No, this liar was ordered by Congress to lie--as a prerequisite for holding the job.

Give up? It's the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy ( ONDCP ), a.k.a. the drug czar, who in 1998 was mandated by Congress to oppose legislation that would legalize, decriminalize, or medicalize marijuana, or redirect anti-trafficking funding into treatment. And the drug czar has also--here's where the lying comes in--been prohibited from funding research that might give credence to any of the above. These provisions were crafted by Dennis Hastert ( R-Ill. ) and Bob Barr ( R-Ga. ) and pushed for by then-czar Barry McCaffrey, best remembered for being somewhat comically obsessed with the evils of medical marijuana. A few Dems complained that the bill, which set "hard targets" of an 80 percent drop in the availability of drugs, a 60 percent decrease in street purity, and a 50 percent reduction in drug-related crime and ER visits, all by 2004--whoops!--was "simplistic" and "designed to achieve political advantage." Though the vote count was not recorded for history, it got enough bipartisan support to be signed into law by Bill "Didn't Inhale" Clinton.

If this tale strikes you as the kind of paranoid fantasy you'd expect from someone who's taken one too many hits off the joint, consider that it isn't the most bizarre, hypocritical, counterproductive moment in our nation's history with drugs. Not by a long shot. Consider that Prohibition came about when progressives got into bed with the Ku Klux Klan, but was rolled back once they'd had enough of the Mob. Or that the precursor to today's drug czar supplied morphine to Sen. Joe McCarthy because he worried about the national security consequences--not of the red-baiter's habit, but of its potential exposure. Or that drug war progenitor Richard Nixon ordered a comprehensive study on the perils of marijuana, and then ignored the study once he learned it recommended decriminalization.

But then, the drug war has never been about facts--about, dare we say, soberly weighing which policies might alleviate suffering, save taxpayers money, rob the cartels of revenue. Instead, we've been stuck in a cycle of prohibition, failure, and counterfactual claims of success. ( To wit: Since 1998, the ONDCP has spent $1.4 billion on youth anti-pot ads. It also spent $43 million to study their effectiveness. When the study found that kids who've seen the ads are more likely to smoke pot, the ONDCP buried the evidence, choosing to spend hundreds of millions more on the counterproductive ads. )




Pubdate: Wed, 1 Jul 2009
Source: Reason Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.
Author: Jacob Sullum

The Violence in Mexico Is Caused by Prohibition, Not Firearms.

During his April visit to Mexico, President Barack Obama suggested that Americans are partly to blame for the appalling violence associated with the illegal drug trade there. "The demand for these drugs in the United States is what's helping keep these cartels in business," he said. "This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States."

Obama is right that the U.S. is largely responsible for the carnage in Mexico, which claimed more than 6,000 lives last year. But the problem is neither the drugs Americans buy nor the guns they sell; it's the war on drugs our government has drafted the rest of the world to fight. Instead of acknowledging the failure of drug control, Obama is using it as an excuse for an equally vain attempt at gun control.

"More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States," Obama claimed, repeating a favorite factoid of politicians who believe American gun rights endanger our southern neighbor's security. The claim has been parroted by many news organizations, including ABC, which used it in a 2008 story that suggested the sort of policy changes the number is meant to encourage. The story, which asked if "the Second Amendment [is] to blame" for "arming Mexican drug gangs," quoted an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives who said, "It's virtually impossible to buy a firearm in Mexico as a private citizen, so this country is where they come."

But as Fox News and have shown, the percentage cited by the president greatly exaggerates the share of guns used by Mexican criminals that were bought in the United States. Fox estimates it's less than a fifth, while says it may be more like a third.



COMMENTS: (9-12)

More incompetence, waste and corruption in the war on drugs.


Pubdate: Fri, 26 Jun 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ruben Vives

L.A. County Sheriff's Department Alleges a Large Meth Lab Was in Operation, but a Hazmat Unit With the County Fire Department Says No Traces of the Drug Were Found.

In the early hours one Saturday last month, more than a dozen narcotic agents led by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department stormed into a cream stucco house in the city of Bell.

Inside, agents said, they seized the components of a large meth lab capable of producing 20 pounds of the drug in a single batch. Two men were taken into custody and two children were placed under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, authorities had said. Making the bust more newsworthy: The home -- one of three on the property -- is owned by the mayor of Bell, Oscar Hernandez. The raid occurred in a rental home in the back.

But nearly three weeks later, questions are being raised about the account the Sheriff's Department released about the discovery.

While the Sheriff's Department insists meth was found in the house, officials with the county Fire Department's hazardous materials said their test results showed no traces of meth inside or outside the home.

They also said there was no evidence to indicate meth had been ever produced there.

"Solvents were detected in the soil of the yard," said Erick Gonzalez, a hazardous materials specialist for the Fire Department, who added that it is unclear whether the solvents could be used to make meth. Soil samples were dug up and placed in blue barrels for testing and disposal, he said.

Children's department spokeswoman Susan Jakubowski said no children were taken from the home the day of the raid, a fact sheriff's investigators now acknowledge is true. Officials blamed the inaccurate information on miscommunication between them and the reporting officer. But they stand by their assertion that meth was found at the home, disputing the Fire Department's findings.




Pubdate: Sun, 28 Jun 2009
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Detroit Free Press
Author: Brian Dickerson, Free Press Columnist

I have bad news and really bad news about the war on drugs.

The bad news is that the good guys are still losing.

The really bad news is that continuing this futile battle is about to get a lot more expensive. And for that you can blame the U.S. Supreme Court -- or, if you take the long view, the criminal-coddling crowd that gave us the Bill of Rights.

In a 5-4 decision Thursday, the justices ruled that prosecutors are forbidden to use crime lab test results against criminal defendants unless the analysts who produced them are available to testify in court and face cross-examination by defense attorneys.

The majority said the exclusion of such unaccompanied lab evidence was mandated by the Sixth Amendment, which gives all defendants the right to confront witnesses against them.

Four dissenting justices said the majority had put "a crushing burden" on prosecutors and forecast that "guilty defendants would go free, on the most technical grounds" as a result. Writing for the dissenters, Justice Anthony Kennedy called the majority ruling "a windfall for defendants" that contravened 90 years of legal precedent.

Michigan's Used to It

The decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts will have relatively little impact on prosecutors in Michigan, which is among a minority of states that already require lab technicians to testify about any test results they produce.

But it effectively precludes legislation to ease that burden on Michigan State Police scientists, who are currently logging 15 or more hours of overtime a week to process an enormous backlog of forensic evidence.




Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Neal Hall, Staff Writer

Man Was Paid $2,000 By Prisoner After Smuggling Contraband

Roger Brian Moore, a former corrections officer caught selling drugs in 2006 at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neill Brown said the crime was very serious because it put other corrections officers and prisoners at risk. The judge noted seven out of 10 convicts have drug-abuse problems.

"Incarceration is a window of opportunity to interrupt the cycle of addiction," the judge said, pointing out that five people died of drug overdoses in provincial jails last year.

The judge said once an officer is corrupted, it risks operational security and increases violence among the jail population. Moore also jeopardized the safety and security of his fellow officers, the judge said.

Moore, 35, was the first provincial corrections officer in B.C. to be prosecuted for drug trafficking. He was convicted last Feb. 27 of trafficking marijuana, ecstasy and anabolic steroids.




Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jun 2009
Source: SouthtownStar (Tinley Park, IL)
Copyright: 2009 Digital Chicago, Inc.

An ex-Chicago police officer was sentenced today to almost 11 years in for robbing drug dealers -- a case that prompted the judge to declare he's tired of the growing pace of wrongdoing by cops.

"In this city, it seems to me we are bombarded by stories and cases and prosecutions of police misconduct," said U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who imposed the sentence on Richard Doroniuk.

"It's been accelerating . . . It's very discouraging."

Last week, Chicago cop Anthony Abbate was sentenced to 18 months probation by a Cook County judge for pummeling a much smaller female bartender while he was drunk, in a caught-on-video beating that drew national attention.

Earlier this month, ex-Chicago cop William Cozzi was sentenced in federal court to three years in prison for the 2005 videotaped beating of a 60-year-old man who was handcuffed and shackled to a wheelchair.

The 131-month sentence imposed today by Gettleman actually was a break for Doroniuk, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and bribery, and testified against another police officer. Without a plea deal that saw prosecutors drop a civil rights charge, he could have faced 30 years in prison.

"I'm sorry for what I did," the tanned, 33-year-old Doroniuk said in court. "I regret it."



COMMENTS: (13-16)

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch must be wondering if vetoing a very popular medicinal cannabis bill will cost him more political capital than would approving it.

The Governor of Oregon has been asked to sign a bill that would legalize industrial hemp in that state.

Cannabis law reform sometimes involves first repealing laws specifically erected to preserve the status quo.

We will probably never know or truly appreciate how many people have used cannabis prohibition as a weapon to blackmail, threaten and extort money from their estranged spouses and once trusted romantic partners.


Pubdate: Wed, 1 Jul 2009
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2009 Telegraph Publishing Company

Back in the 1980s, there was a popular series of TV commercials that extolled the virtues of a particular stock brokerage firm.

In one such commercial, an elementary school teacher calls on one of her young charges to recite the alphabet. When the young girl gets a few letters into it, she pauses: "E. . . F . . . EF Hutton."

Immediately, all her classmates rush to crowd around her, cup a hand to their ears and remain absolutely motionless.

When EF Hutton talks," the announcer says, "people listen."

Well, given Gov. John Lynch's reluctance to embrace medical marijuana legislation this session, you can't blame supporters of the bill if they feel a bit like the students craning their necks to hear what the little girl has to say.

For every time the governor has expressed reservations over a particular aspect of the bill (HB 648), they have jumped through hoops to make the issue go away.


We understand the political ramifications of backing any legislation that is opposed by your attorney general and nine of the state's 10 county attorneys.

And, yes, we understand the political ramifications of backing any legislation that has the potential of sending a signal to our young people that smoking marijuana is OK.

Well, this is one of those times when "reality" trumps "message."




Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jun 2009
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2009 The Oregonian
Author: Melissa Repko, The Oregonian

SALEM -- Oregon is a step closer to growing industrial hemp with a House vote on Monday.

Industrial hemp, a cousin to marijuana, can be used to make clothes and food products. The bill would allow the production, commerce, and possession of hemp products. The House passed the bill on Monday with a 46-11 vote.

Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland, demonstrated the diversity of industrial hemp products with visual aids like hemp tortilla chips and a non-dairy milk product.

Holding up a T-shirt, Bailey said "Senate Bill 676 is about rope, not dope."

The bill heads to the governor's desk.



Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jun 2009
Source: Washington Examiner (DC)
Copyright: 2009 Washington Examiner
Author: Michael Neibauer, Examiner Staff Writer

A House appropriations subcommittee has lifted a long-standing budget rider banning the District government from spending any money to decriminalize marijuana.

The Financial Services panel, which has oversight of D.C., has removed from the 2010 budget 11-year-old language outlawing the District's use of federal or local funds to legalize marijuana or reduce penalties for its possession or distribution.

This is definitely something we've been working with Congress on for a few years now and communicated with the committee about," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It's taken a while to get it done, but it looks like maybe this will be the year that it happens."

The financial services budget, marked up Thursday, "takes further steps towards reducing undue congressional interference in local affairs," Rep. Jose Serrano, the subcommittee chairman, said in a statement.

Serrano, D-N.Y., said the budget bill "allows the District to conduct and implement a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in various states."

The District voted on medical marijuana once before, in 1998, but the votes were declared invalid. Former Rep. Bob Barr raced to have his anti-legalization language added to the budget two weeks before the initiative vote was held. When the ballots were unofficially tallied nearly a year after they were cast, it was learned that 69 percent of voters backed legalization.




Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jun 2009
Source: News Herald (Panama City, FL)
Copyright: 2009 The News Herald
Author: Wendy Victora

CRESTVIEW -- A man called police June 20 to complain that his wife was smoking marijuana and that she allowed her brother to grow marijuana in her yard.

The 32-year-old woman showed the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputy a green eye glass case containing marijuana that she had in her dresser drawer.

Her husband led the deputy to a Busch beer can, which had two holes punched in it and had apparently been used as a smoking device, according to her arrest report.

He then showed the deputy a plastic bucket in the back yard with three marijuana plants in it.

The woman told the deputy that she had invited her brother to live with her and that she knew he was growing marijuana in her yard. Toys were scattered near the plants, the report said.

Evelina Louise Farley was charged with child neglect, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.


COMMENTS: (17-20)

Reactions to U.N. drug chief Antonio Maria Costa and the U.N. anti-drug report were heard around the world this week prompting renewed calls for a new approach to drug policy.

Tory Shepherd in the Australian Advertiser newspaper noted the futility of attempting to prevent adults from getting their hands on the substances they choose. "Governments ... act tough on illicit drugs. But it's not proving to be the right thing. Prohibition of alcohol did not work, and neither did zero tolerance. It's pointless and expensive to try banning drugs."

In Canada, in a Calgary Sun column this week, Dave Breakenridge cautions hard-core drug warriors their misplaced moralizing could sway voters, as increasingly people openly admit they smoke pot and resent being threatened with jail. Alberta Justice Minister Alison Redford "should remember that as more and more people find themselves comfortable in admitting they are recreational drug users, especially pot smokers, the more she risks alienating a large number of people who identify themselves as Tory voters. In a war to win the hearts and minds of Albertans, Redford is likely hitting all the right notes for the choir, but this kind of performance will do little to sway the congregation."

Andrew Hanon, in the Canadian Edmonton Sun newspaper responded also to U.N. drug czar Antonio Maria Costa's acknowledgment "drug control is uniquely subject to calls that the struggle should be abandoned." By a "serious and concerned group of academics and civil society organizations who feel the present system causes more harm than good." Precisely. Prohibiting drugs adults want - jailing adults for taking or selling these drugs - causes more harm than good and is an approach which should be abandoned.

And finally this week, from the U.K. Guardian newspaper George Monbiot questions Costa and the U.N. sincerity in admitting, "Law enforcement should shift its focus from drug users to drug traffickers ... people who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution." Asks Monbiot, "So Costa's office has produced a study comparing the global costs of prohibition with the global costs of legalisation, allowing us to see whether the current policy (murder, corruption, war, adulteration) causes less misery than the alternative (widespread addiction in poorer nations)?" An honest report on the harms of drug prohibition from the U.N.? That will be the day.


Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jun 2009
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 Advertiser Newspapers Ltd
Author: Tory Shepherd

PEOPLE have been getting high for thousands of years, and there's nothing that will stop them.


Opium, cannabis and hallucinogens have been important parts of trade, of history, of religious and spiritual enlightenment.


Society is full of functioning drug users who look at gritty black-and-white ads telling them that speed will make them dig up the skin on their arms and feel nothing, because that is not them.

Drugs are not some pure evil.


Governments have to be seen to be doing something.

So they do something. They act tough on illicit drugs. But it's not proving to be the right thing.

Prohibition of alcohol did not work, and neither did zero tolerance. It's pointless and expensive to try banning drugs.


Society has categorised drugs, but the categories they have chosen are moral, not medical, and that needs to change.



Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jun 2009
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 The Calgary Sun
Author: Dave Breakenridge, Columnist


Forget the argument alcohol was once the subject of violent organized crime clashes, during a time when it was prohibited.

Legalize drugs? What have you been smoking?

Those arguments don't take well in Alberta.


If users are truly to blame for the drug war in our midst then the province should under no circumstances be coughing up any money to let addicts who turn to crime to feed their habits off the hook.


This kind of talk is especially troubling in a province that takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, which Redford lumped in with marijuana as being equally harmful.

They're either both bad or they're not.

But it's time to stop pretending one is worse for society solely because it's illegal.


And Redford should remember that as more and more people find themselves comfortable in admitting they are recreational drug users, especially pot smokers, the more she risks alienating a large number of people who identify themselves as Tory voters.

In a war to win the hearts and minds of Albertans, Redford is likely hitting all the right notes for the choir, but this kind of performance will do little to sway the congregation.



Pubdate: Sun, 28 Jun 2009
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Andrew Hanon

Critics of the war on drugs can take a small amount of comfort in the United Nations' annual World Drug Report, which was released last week.

The 300-plus page document is a detailed evaluation of the global war on drugs, assessing how much is being produced and by whom, who's using it and what's being done to stop it.

The report also contains a lengthy defence of continuing the century-long war, though the authors acknowledge that it's one that can never be won.

"Oddly, of all the areas of international cooperation, drug control is uniquely subject to calls that the struggle should be abandoned.

"Despite equally mixed results in international interventions, no one advocates accepting poverty or war as inevitable," the authors argue, missing the point that those things don't involve average citizens' personal choice.

However, they also acknowledge the "serious and concerned group of academics and civil society organizations who feel the present system causes more harm than good."




Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jun 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: George Monbiot


It looked like the first drop of rain in the desert of drugs policy. Last week Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the UN office on drugs and crime, said what millions of liberal-minded people have been waiting to hear. "Law enforcement should shift its focus from drug users to drug traffickers ... people who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution." Drug production should remain illegal, possession and use should be decriminalised. Guardian readers toasted him with bumpers of peppermint tea, and, perhaps, a celebratory spliff.


So Costa's office has produced a study comparing the global costs of prohibition with the global costs of legalisation, allowing us to see whether the current policy (murder, corruption, war, adulteration) causes less misery than the alternative (widespread addiction in poorer nations)? The hell it has. Even to raise the possibility of such research would be to invite the testerics in Congress to shut off the UN's funding.

The drug charity Transform has addressed this question, but only for the UK, where the results are clear-cut: prohibition is the worse option.

As far as I can discover, no one has attempted a global study.

Until that happens, Costa's opinions on this issue are worth as much as mine or anyone else's: nothing at all.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Pete Guither at


By Todd Miller

In five minutes, without shooting a bullet, a 20-man armed commando unit burst into a prison in the Mexican state of Zacatecas and freed 53 prisoners - all of them connected with the Gulf Cartel. The lightning speed of the operation and the crisp Federal Police uniforms worn by the gunmen was the work of the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel's armed wing.


The new website,, has just posted a free online version of the full text of "Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out."

With legalization of all drugs as the central thrust of this 198-page non-fiction thriller, the timing could not be better.


Largest marijuana merchandising exhibit in US History indicates fundamental change in public acceptance. THC Expo event draws crowds and exhibitors from all over the world to the Los Angeles Convention Center


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director


Century of Lies - 06/28/09 - Peter Moskos

Prof. Peter Moskos, LEAP speaker, former Baltimore cop and author of "Cop in the Hood" + Doug McVay interview of Amsterdam cannabis pioneer Bernard Bruining & Phil Jackson

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 07/01/09 - Jamie Fellner

Jamie Fellner, senior counsel, US Human Rights Watch + DTN editorial & song "Stash of Bags"



Will Target Traffickers Instead

from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #592, 7/3/09


July 2009, Volume 4, Issue 7



A Syndicated Columnist Supports Legalization. A DrugSense Focus Alert.



The Marijuana Policy Project is hiring fall interns to work in our State Policies and Federal Policies departments. These are unpaid, part-time internships, with class credit available. Interns work approximately two days per week and have the chance to play a responsible role in a successful nonprofit organization.

To apply, please visit ...

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By Howard J Wooldridge

It's obvious to this 18-year police veteran who fought in the trenches of the drug war that Trib columnist and rock musician Ted Nugent never did ["We could be winning the war on drugs," June 12]. Moreover, he must not know the good guys have arrested 39 million citizens on drug charges.

Despite that and the largest prison system in the world, drugs are cheaper, stronger and easier for our kids to buy. Can Mr. Nugent spell prohibition? And is he credible when he says this nation has not been serious enough or diligent enough?

Mr. Nugent loves the liberal, nanny-state policy of drug prohibition. He supports the policy where citizens are threatened with government punishment, backed by government police, prosecutors and prisons if they dare step outside the box of alcohol, cigarettes, Prozac and Valium.

Does he really think that denying citizens marijuana but forcing people to drink alcohol improves anything?

As I said, obviously he has never been a street cop.

Howard Wooldridge retired police officer Dallas

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald (TX)
Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jun 2009

Editor's Note: Howard "Cowboy" Wooldridge served as a police officer in Lansing, Mich. He is one of the founders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. In 2005 he rode a horse from Los Angeles to New York to advocate a public health approach to the drug problem.



By Norm Stamper

It's official. We can now talk openly about what the great majority of us have known for a long time: drug prohibition isn't working, and never will. It's time to try something different. News organizations are awash in stories about the failure of the "drug war." Latest issues of three of the most influential progressive magazines have feature stories on the topic.

Mother Jones puts drug policy on its cover -- under the headline "Totally Wasted" ( as in, money and lives ) -- as part of a package including at least 10 separate pieces on topic.

The American Prospect also fronts the issue, proclaiming "The End of the War on Drugs."

The Nation has a feature ( quoting yours truly and other drug policy reformers, including my Law Enforcement Against Prohibition colleagues ) confirming that the topic has finally ripened to maturity, its earnest discourse inescapable.

It's not only newsprint publications calling out the futility and harmfulness of our decades-old prohibition policy. The progressive blogosphere, including Daily Kos, TalkLeft, Crooks and Liars, and, of course, Huffington Post has been devoting more and more bits and bytes to bashing our insane, inhumane drug laws.

So, why does the President of the United States insist on making a joke of the issue? Why, indeed, do most Democrats in Washington scramble to avoid the conversation altogether?

Three out of four Americans believe the "war on drugs" is a failure and can never be won. Serious people like Sen. Jim Webb, former Mexican president Vicente Fox, Congressmen Barney Frank, Charlie Rangel, Steve Cohen and others, even a growing body of right-of-center analysts and politicians have been saying it's time to fundamentally reshape our approach to drug control.

So, why this divide between massive public opposition to current policies and the positions taken by our leaders? Fear, of course. They're afraid of being punished for touching what has been perceived, mistakenly, as a third rail issue.

And the cause of this "drug war dementia"? I'm guessing it has something to do with a brilliant 2004 poll on the topic of medical marijuana. The poll asked two questions, the first confirming what had already been shown over and over again: that about 70 percent of people support the idea of legalizing marijuana, at least for medical purposes.

But then, pollsters asked something interesting:

"Regardless of your own opinion, do you think the majority of people support making marijuana medically available, or do you think the majority opposes making marijuana medically available?"

The result? In Rhode Island, where the poll was conducted, only 26.5 percent thought that most people support medical marijuana.

The lesson here? While many of our elected representatives privately support serious changes to our failed drug laws, they believe they are alone. They think if they stick their necks out they'll be handed their heads come election time.

Which is why we must rise up and let our elected officials know they are safe to support drug law reform. And in considerable political danger if they do not.

Norm Stamper is the former Police Chief of Seattle and a member of LEAP.

Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 2009
Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 HuffingtonPost com, Inc.


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