This Just In
(1)U.S. Shifts Afghan Narcotics Strategy
(2)Home Office Reports Big Rise In Cocaine Use As Street Price Falls
(3)Marijuana Shop Fights Westlake In Court
(4)Ambushed By A Drug War

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Authors: Thom Shanker and Elisabeth Bumiller

WASHINGTON - The American-led mission in Afghanistan is all but abandoning efforts to destroy the poppy crops that provide the largest source of income to the insurgency, and instead will take significant steps to wean local farmers off the drug trade - including one proposal to pay them to grow nothing.

The strategy will shift from wiping out opium poppy crops, which senior officials acknowledged had served only to turn poor farmers into enemies of the central government in Kabul. New operations are already being mounted to attack not the crops, but the drug runners and the drug lords aligned with the insurgency.

Ultimately, farmers must be persuaded to plant other crops, including wheat for domestic consumption and pomegranates and flowers for export, officials said.

Michael G. Vickers, the Pentagon's top civilian official for counter-insurgency strategy, said Thursday that the specifics of the new antidrug effort still needed to be worked out, but that a decision had been reached on the new focus.

"We are reorienting our counternarcotics strategy rather significantly for Afghanistan to put much less emphasis on eradication and to shift the weight of our effort to interdiction," Mr. Vickers said.

The new strategy will "particularly focus on going after those targets where there is a strong nexus between the insurgency and the narcotics trade, to deny resources to the Taliban," he told a group of reporters.

Mr. Vickers, who was the principal C.I.A. strategist for arming anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, also predicated that there would be "more focus on other agricultural initiatives" in the coming year.

One short-term solution being urged by senior Defense Department and military officials would be to pay Afghan farmers not to plant poppies in the next growing season.




Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Alan Travis, home affairs editor

Almost 1 Million Adults Took Drug Last Year. Survey Shows Ketamine Popular With Under-25s

Plunging street prices and wide availability are fuelling a marked rise in the use of cocaine in England and Wales, with nearly 1 million users last year, 400,000 of them aged 16 to 24.

Home Office figures published today also show a big increase in the number of young people using ketamine, an anaesthetic and horse tranquilliser banned in Britain in 2006. Last year an estimated 125,000 young people tried this drug.

But the figures from the annual British Crime Survey's Drug Misuse Declared show a only slight increase in cannabis use, from 7.6% to 7.9% of adults in England and Wales in 2008-09. An estimated 2.5 million adults have used cannabis in the last year, the second lowest reported level since 1996, although it is still by far the most widely used illicit drug.

Cannabis use among 16- to 24-year-olds fell from a peak of 28% of young people in 1998 to 18.7% in 2008-09.

Overall drug use is seen as stable with 10% of 16- to 59-year-olds - about 3.2 million people - reporting the use of at least one illicit drug in the last year.




Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Christy Fenner

The Westlake Village City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to extend the city's temporary moratorium on marijuana distribution facilities.

The council's 5-0 vote came one day after lawyers for Amazing Healing Supply, a marijuana distribution facility in the city, announced that they plan to ask a court on Friday to issue a restraining order to block the city from interfering with the business.

The business contends that it did not violate the city's zoning ordinance when it began operating May 30 in a business park on La Baya Drive.

City officials imposed an initial, 45-day moratorium on July 8 after learning that the business had opened in the city.

The council's vote this week will extend the moratorium by a period of 10 months and 15 days, giving city officials time to study their zoning ordinances and adopt changes before the moratorium expires.

Westlake Village will oppose the business's legal challenge, said City Attorney Terence Boga.




Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: William Booth, Staff Writer

Mormon Clans In Mexico Find Themselves Targets Of The Cartels

COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico -- Mormon pioneer Alma Dayer LeBaron had a vision when he moved his breakaway sect of polygamists to this valley 60 years ago: His many children would live in peace and prosperity among the pretty pecan orchards they would plant in the desert.

Prosperity has come, but the peace has been shattered.

In the past three months, American Mormon communities in Mexico have been sucked into a dust devil of violence sweeping the borderlands. Their relative wealth has made them targets: Their telephones ring with threats of extortion. Their children and elders are taken by kidnappers. They have been drawn into the government's war with the drug cartels.

This month, a leader of their colony was abducted by heavily armed men dressed as police, then beaten and shot dead 10 minutes from town. Benjamin LeBaron, 31, whom everyone called Benji, had dared to denounce the criminals, while refusing to pay a $1 million ransom demanded by kidnappers who had grabbed his teenage brother from a family ranch in May.

Amid the blood and mesquite at the site of his last breath, Benjamin LeBaron's killers posted a sign that read: "This is for the leaders of LeBaron who didn't believe and who still don't believe."





The U.S. once again plays the pot who calls the kettle black as a new government report suggests that Venezuela's anti-drug efforts are failing. On a much more local level, an attorney in Georgia learned that constitutional concerns will not get in the way of a judge who thinks drug tests will "save the children."

And, another articulate argument against drug prohibition appears in another mainstream newspaper.


Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jul 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Kraul, Reporting from Caracas, Venezuela

A Report From the General Accounting Office Blames Corruption and Lack of Cooperation With the U.S. for an Increase in Cocaine Trafficking. Venezuela's Ambassador Calls It a 'Poor Analysis.'

A breakdown in anti-drug cooperation between Venezuela and the United States has contributed to an alarming surge in cocaine trafficking from Venezuela, according to a report issued Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The volume of drugs passing through Venezuela more than quadrupled from 66 tons in 2004 to 287 tons in 2007, the GAO said. U.S.-Venezuelan counter-narcotics cooperation ended in 2005, as friction intensified between the Bush administration and leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Although Venezuela was already a major corridor for Colombian cocaine before Chavez took office in 1999, the volume has increased to the point that in 2007, one-quarter of all Colombian cocaine produced passed through Venezuela, according to estimates.

The GAO said trafficking has increased in part because of Chavez's alleged tolerance of Colombian rebels in Venezuelan territory and because of widespread corruption in his military and police ranks.

"Venezuela is caught between the world's largest producer of cocaine, Colombia, and largest consumer, the United States," the report concludes. "Nevertheless, absent greater initiative by the Venezuelan government to resume counter-narcotics cooperation with the United States, U.S. efforts to address the increasing flow of cocaine through Venezuela will continue to be problematic."

Venezuela denies it has failed to hold up its end of the drug fight, saying that it only chooses to no longer work with the United States. In an interview Monday, Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, said the report is "poor analysis that relies on old news and slanted sources."




Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jul 2009
Source: News Observer, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Community Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Brian K. Finnicum

Blue Ridge attorney Scott Kiker filed a motion in Fannin County Superior Court this week seeking an emergency injunction to halt the Fannin County Board of Education from implementing its mandatory drug testing program at Fannin County High School.

The motion was filed with the Clerk of Superior Court Monday, July 13, on behalf of petitioner Marion M. Kiker as natural guardian of two minor children who are students at the school.

It lists the Fannin County Board of Education, board Chairman Terry Bramlett and high school Principal Erik Cioffi as respondents.

The petition alleges that the newly enacted mandatory drug testing program is unconstitutional in its nature and application, in that it violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless searches and seizures; federal and state constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, rights not to incriminate oneself; and the right to confidentiality of medical and psychological records.

In addition, the petition alleges that the mandatory testing program violates the Constitution's equal protection clause in that it applies only to high school students and not to other students who participate in the same activities, and that it makes no provision for confidentiality of test results in violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Kiker said Tuesday that he filed the motion in hopes that it would be heard in court this week, but said that was not likely because no judge was available to hear it.

He said that unlike drug testing policies adopted by other school districts, the Fannin County policy does not limit testing to urine samples only. Kiker said no court has ever approved any testing other than urinalysis for school students.

Kiker said the school board may be correct in attempting to apply the testing procedure only to students who participate in extracurricular activities because those activities are considered privileges, but he does not believe that the board has established a rational relationship between extracurricular activity participants and drug use.




Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Source: News Observer, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Community Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Brian K. Finnicum

A motion filed by Blue Ridge attorney Scott Kiker seeking an emergency injunction halting the Fannin County Board of Education from implementing its new mandatory drug testing program was withdrawn following a hearing in Fannin County Superior Court Friday.

Kiker had filed the motion early last week on behalf of petitioner Marion M. Kiker as natural guardian of two minor children who are students at Fannin County High School, where the policy recently approved by the board of education now requires drug testing of students wishing to drive to school or participate in any extracurricular activities or sports.

The motion and petition had alleged that the policy violated several state and federal constitutional and statutory provisions.

The hearing was held before Chief Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver, who noted at the outset of the hearing that although she had not been involved in writing Fannin's policy, she had recommended that the board of education adopt the policy, and that Kiker had notified her office that he was aware of her situation and still wanted to proceed in her court.

Weaver said that several things were going on in the circuit: that it had one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the state; that in operating drug court, family drug court and juvenile drug court, that it had been found that while it is never easy to get a person off drugs, that the sooner it can be done the better; and that most drug court participants had begun using drugs as teenagers.

Weaver said the school testing program was not designed or intended to be used for prosecution. She said that she believed that if a preventive program was put in place, that the schools would be able to work with both parents and children to reduce drug use.

It is especially hard, Weaver said, for the young to resist peer pressure, and that the program provides positive peer pressure and helps give students an "out" to resist negative peer pressure and say they don't want to do drugs.

Weaver noted that the policy helps convey the community's seriousness about combating the drug problem, and that no tax money is involved in the school screening process. Rather, all costs are paid out of drug surcharge fees assessed of court defendants after conviction.

Weaver did say that there were a few problems with some of the wording of the testing policy, and that there may be some cleanup of the policy necessary.

"This is not to harm children, this it to help children," Weaver said. She said the policy was "never meant to be punitive," rather that it was hoped that it would stop students from trying drugs the first time.

"I want everyone in this courtroom to know where this judge stands - I will always stand there," Weaver said. "If I am going to be in error, I'm going to be in error on the side of saving every child I can possibly save. I am passionate about this."




Pubdate: Sun, 19 Jul 2009
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Star-Telegram Operating, Ltd.
Author: Shane Warner

In the past two weeks before this column went to press, at least 40 people were either killed or their bodies were found in Mexico. The dead include 12 federal agents, one mayor, one police officer and two anti-crime activists, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. In that same time span at least 112 police officers were detained for alleged corruption.

Just to our south, some 11,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past two and a half years. Decapitated bodies, mutilated victims, dead police officers and a country gripped with fear are all the result of our country's obscene drug policy.

We're to blame, they say. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and Mexico's attorney general all put at least part of the blame for the skyrocketing violence in Mexico, if not a majority of it, on the shoulders of you and me.

In Mexico this year, Clinton said "our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade." Her statement, however, is based on the premise that drug use and possession needs to be against the law.

If the U.S. government were to re-legalize or even decriminalize drugs, the incentive for drug cartels to behead Mexican police officers would vanish. Mexican politicians wouldn't have to relocate their families to Texas to keep them safe. I might be inclined to visit Juarez the next time I see my in-laws in El Paso.



COMMENTS: (9-12)

The very unfortunate consequences of fighting a war on drugs should be clear to law enforcement and others if they read this week's news.


Pubdate: Sat, 18 Jul 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Randal C. Archibold

SAN DIEGO -- They move north in rickety fishing boats, often overloaded and barely seaworthy, slipping through the darkness and hidden from the watchful radar of American patrols.

Along beaches north of here, the migrants from Mexico and beyond scramble ashore, in groups of a dozen or two, and dash past stunned beachgoers, sometimes even leaving behind their boats, known as pangas. Drug smugglers, too, take this sea route, including one last month found paddling a surfboard north with a duffel bag full of marijuana on it.

As the land border with Mexico tightens with new fencing and technology, the authorities are seeing a sharp spike in the number of people and drugs being moved into the United States by sea off the San Diego coast.

Law enforcement authorities in the United States said the shift demonstrated the resolve of smugglers to exploit the vastness of the sea, the difficulty in monitoring it, and the desperation of migrants willing to risk crossing it.

"It's like spillover from a dam," said Cmdr. Guy Pearce, who oversees the antismuggling effort for the Coast Guard in San Diego.




Pubdate: Sat, 18 Jul 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Author: Sue Bailey, Canadian Press

Illegal Search Of SUV In 2004 Was Flagrant Breach Of Suspect's Charter Rights, Supreme Court Rules

OTTAWA ( CP ) - Even the discovery of cocaine worth up to $4 million was no excuse for a police pull-over and search that trampled Charter rights, says Canada's top court.

The Supreme Court of Canada has thrown out a drug conviction linked to the 2004 seizure because the officer who hit the narcotics motherlode "flagrantly" breached his suspect's Charter protections.

The high court ruled 6-1 to acquit Bradley Harrison.

It was one of four judgments handed down yesterday that clarify legal limits for judges and police when it comes to evidence obtained through detention or searches that cross the Charter line.

The rulings underscore that any breach of rights must be carefully balanced against the value of the evidence, how it was obtained and the facts of each case.

In the Harrison case, the high court overruled both the trial judge and the majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal in stressing that a provincial police officer went much too far.

"While an officer's 'hunch' is a valuable investigative tool - indeed, here it proved to be highly accurate - it is no substitute for proper Charter standards when interfering with a suspect's liberty," wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.




Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez, Staff Writer

EL PASO -- A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was fired earlier this year is trying to get his job back.

Raul M. Bencomo, 47, a former ICE senior special agent, said he was wrongfully fired in part because of his role in a Juarez case that involved a dozen drug cartel murders.

"I was singled out because I was the lowest-level member involved in the case," Bencomo said. "I had a clean record. I even took a polygraph for the ( Merit Systems Protection ) board hearing and passed it. I believe I was made the scapegoat."

The Merit Systems Protection Board -- an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the executive branch that presides over federal employee appeals -- is receiving final arguments on Bencomo's petition to be reinstated. After that, the board has 120 days to render its decision.

Bencomo is one of several U.S. officials who were at the center of an undercover ICE investigation that began in 2003 and ended later when the Drug Enforcement Administration learned its DEA agents in Juarez had become cartel targets.

Bencomo, who had been on administrative leave with pay since 2004, was fired on Feb. 10. The agency would not say why he was let go.




Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jul 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Daniel Borunda, Staff Writer

EL PASO -- The U.S. State Department is warning travelers about the resurgence in drug violence in the state of Chihuahua that has claimed the lives of U.S. citizens, activists and bystanders.

Americans should "exercise a high degree of caution" when in Juarez and other parts of Chihuahua, said an advisory, called a Warden Message, from the U.S. Consulate in Juarez.

"Drug cartels and associated criminal elements have retaliated violently against individuals who speak out against them or who they otherwise view to be a threat to their organization, regardless of the individuals' citizenship," said the advisory, posted Friday.

The alert apparently refers to the death of anti-kidnapping activist Benjamin LeBaron, a dual U.S.-Mexico citizen, killed two weeks ago by gunmen who took him from his home near Galeana in the northwestern part of Chihuahua.

Because of murders and kidnappings, Americans should avoid nonessential trips to that corner of Chihuahua, including the towns of Nuevo Casas Grandes, Madera and Namiquipa, whose mayor was slain last week, the consulate advised.



COMMENTS: (13-16)

The New York Times treated us to one of those melodramatic articles that begins with a personal anecdote about someone who recovered from a drug problem, in this case, a dependence on the "new" high- potency weed, which the hapless victim began smoking 37 years ago.

The citizens of Oakland voted overwhelming in favor of taxing cannabis dispensaries, an offer they couldn't afford to refuse from dispensary owners.

The Wall Street Journal was only one of many papers to report and editorialize last week on how economics are trumping pharmacophobia, but why not send a letter to their editor? See "What you can do this week" below.

Speaking of cashing in on cannabis, Oregon has joined the states who are eagerly looking forward to farming industrial hemp, just as soon as the DEA gets out of the way.


Pubdate: Sun, 19 Jul 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Sarah Kershaw and Rebecca Cathcart

IT was as if she woke up one day and decades of her life had disappeared.

Joyce, 52 and a writer in Manhattan, started smoking pot when she was 15, and for years it was a pleasant escape, a calming protective cloud. Then it became an obsession, something she needed to get through the day. She found herself hiding her addiction from her family, friends and co-workers.

"I would come home from work, close my door, have my bong, my food, my music and my dog, and I wouldn't see another person until I went to work the next day," said Joyce, who like most others in this article asked that her full name not be published, because she does not want people to know about her past drug use.

"What kind of life is that? I did that for 20 years."

She tried to stop, but was anxious, irritable, sleepless and lost. At one point, to soothe her cravings, she took morphine that she found at her dying father's bedside. She almost overdosed.

Two years ago, she checked into the Caron Foundation, a treatment center in Wernersville, Pa. Even there, she said, some other addicts - -- cocaine and heroin users or alcoholics -- downplayed her dependence on marijuana.

"The reality is, I was as sick as them," Joyce said. She now attends Alcoholics Anonymous, which is also open to drug addicts, and recently married.

Smoking pot, she said, "was a slow form of suicide."

Marijuana, the country's most widely used illicit drug, is typically not thought to destroy lives. Like alcohol, pot has been romanticized by writers and musicians, from Louis Armstrong to Bob Dylan, and it has been depicted as harmless or silly in movies like "Harold and Kumar." And addiction experts agree, marijuana does not pose as serious a public health problem as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Its hazards pale in comparison with those of alcohol. But at the same time, marijuana can be up to five times more potent than the cannabis of the 1970s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.




Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jul 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Julie Strack, Reporting from San Francisco

Shops Selling Pot in the Cash-Strapped City Will Pay $18 on Each $1,000 in Sales. the City Administrator Estimates That It Could Raise $300,000 in Annual Revenue.

Oakland voters resoundingly approved a tax increase on medical marijuana Tuesday evening, the first such tax of its kind in the nation.

The measure will levy an $18 tax for every $1,000 in gross marijuana sales. Firms in the city now pay a $1.20 business tax on each $1,000 in sales. Other cities may soon follow suit. Voters approved the measure by a margin of 80%, according to preliminary results released by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who co-sponsored the measure, said it could generate $1 million in annual revenue.

The city administrator places the estimate at about $300,000.

The Los Angeles City Council proposed a medical marijuana tax July 15, and Kaplan said Berkeley and San Francisco may consider similar legislation.

"Oakland will show that this can work if it's done right," said Keith Stephenson, executive director of the Purple Heart Patient Center.

"There will be some cash-strapped areas that will use this to balance their budgets."

The legislation was backed by Oakland's four medical marijuana dispensaries. There was no organized opposition.




Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Authors: Justin Scheck and Stu Woo

LAKE FOREST, Calif. -- Sellers of marijuana as a medicine here don't fret about raids any more. They've stopped stressing over where to hide their stash or how to move it unseen.

Now their concerns involve the state Board of Equalization, which collects sales tax and requires a retailer ID number. Or city planning offices, which insist that staircases comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Then there is marketing strategy, which can mean paying to be a "featured dispensary" on a Web site for pot smokers.

After years in the shadows, medical marijuana in California is aspiring to crack the commercial mainstream.

"I want to do everything I can to run this as a legitimate business," says Jan Werner, 55 years old, who invested in a pot store in a shopping mall after 36 years as a car salesman.

State voters decreed back in 1996 that Californians had a right to use marijuana for any illness -- from cancer to anorexia to any other condition it might help. But supplying "med pot" remained risky. The ballot measure didn't specify who could sell it or how. The state provided few guidelines, leaving local governments to impose a patchwork of restrictions. Above all, because pot possession remained illegal under U.S. law, sellers had to worry about federal raids.

But in February, the Justice Department said it would adhere to President Barack Obama's campaign statement that federal agents no longer would target med-pot dealers who comply with state law. Since then, vendors who had kept a low profile have begun to expand, and entrepreneurs who had avoided cannabis have begun to invest.

Some now are using traditional business practices like political lobbying and supply-chain consolidation. Others are seeking capital or offering investment banking for pot purveyors. In Oakland, a school offers courses such as "Cannabusiness 102" and calls itself Oaksterdam University, after the pot-friendly Dutch city. As shops proliferate, there are even signs the nascent industry could be heading for another familiar business phenomenon: the bubble.



 (16) HEMP HUBBUB  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2009 The Register-Guard
Author: David Steves

Oregon's Potential As A Crop-Growing Hub Excites Some

SALEM - Oregon is about to become the first Western state to permit its farmers to grow industrial hemp.

But there are a couple of problems to be confronted before Oregon becomes a Hemptopia by the Pacific:

It's still an illegal crop, according to the federal government.

Oregon wasn't an ideal place to grow hemp the first time it was legal. And it won't be the next time, either.

That's not bringing Dena Purich down, though. The owner of a business that makes hemp-based clothing, Purich is excited about the possibility that the supply chain is one step closer to running from Oregon farmers to her Eugene-based Earthbound Creations. Right now, she and her two employees design and assemble men's sports shirts, women's skirts and other garments from hemp that's grown in China, woven or knitted there into 100-yard bolts, and shipped across the Pacific Ocean.

It would be awesome to keep everything in Oregon," she said. "That would be great not only for our local economy, but for businesses like mine."

Local enthusiasm for hemp's possibilities also was evident at a three- day Emerald Empire Hempfest, featuring music, speakers and other entertainment, that wrapped up Sunday at Eugene's Washington-Jefferson Park.

A spokesman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he plans to sign Oregon's new hemp legislation, Senate Bill 676, into law. When that happens, Oregon will become the seventh state to allow farmers to grow hemp. And it will be the only one in the continental United States west of the Rockies. Hawaii's governor signed a similar law this month, and Maine's governor did the same in June.


All that will have a very positive impact on getting things shifted and changed at the federal level," Prozanski said. "I expect to see things change there within the next two years."

A bill introduced this year in Congress with bipartisan sponsorship would make it legal for American farmers to resume growing hemp. An act of Congress would be unnecessary if the Obama administration decided to rule that industrial hemp no longer should be considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, as it has been since 1970. Advocates of such a move, including Prozanski, say that's the most sensible approach.



COMMENTS: (17-20)

In the Philippines, following the abduction of a daughter of a government drug agent, officials have re-dedicated themselves to the anti-drug fight. "This group drew first blood and we will not take this lightly. They will pay for what they did to the victim and her family," said PDEA director Dionisio Santiago. "Parang Mexico na ito. Bakbakan. Ubusan. [It's going to be like in Mexico. It's a war of attrition]."

The DEA has done such a good job ridding the nation of drugs, that the U.S. government will deploy DEA agents - in Afghanistan. It is "the most prolific expansion in DEA history," said Thomas Harrigan, deputy administrator for the DEA. The Taliban "use the money to sustain their operations, feed their fighters, to assist Al Qaeda," explained Harrigan.

After a two month news blackout in Canada, Bill C-15 (mandatory minimums for cannabis) awaits approval in the Canadian Senate. Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, in a photo-op publicity event ("a mock Vancouver marijuana grow-op"), urged the senate to pass the bill immediately. Even as the U.S. begins to back away from mandatory minimums, the conservative Justice Minister claimed the mandatory minimums of bill C-15 "would be a deterrent to those willing to set up clandestine labs and grow-ops." Apparently bolstering the case for proposed mandatory minimums for cannabis, the B.C. town of Abbotsford was crowned "Murder Capital of Canada," in the media after Statistics Canada identified the area with the most murders. However, noted the Abbotsford news, the murder rate for Canada is low and, "citizens who don't get caught up in the underground world of illicit drugs and grow-ops need not feel less safe."


Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Source: Manila Standard Today (Philippines)
Copyright: 2009 Manila Standard Today
Author: Florante Solmerin, Christine Herrera

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is digging in for a Mexican-style war on drug syndicates.

PDEA director Dionisio Santiago declared war on drug lords after learning that a teenage daughter of a government agent was abducted and raped by members of a certain drug syndicate.

But lawmakers warned against making such sound bites without taking action, with some pushing for the restoration of the death penalty for drug trafficking among other heinous crimes. "Why declare a war on drugs only now when any administration is supposed to be doing so from Day One?" asked Senator Francis Escudero.

Escudero added the fact that the President herself continues to act as the anti-drug czar may indicate her lack of confidence in the military and police to resolve the drug problem.


"This group drew first blood and we will not take this lightly. They will pay for what they did to the victim and her family," Santiago said. "Parang Mexico na ito. Bakbakan. Ubusan. [It's going to be like in Mexico. It's a war of attrition]," Dionisio said.

Mexico's war on drug cartels claimed 10,000 lives since 2007.


The drug agency said around 3.4 million Filipinos were drug users, and of that number, 1.6 million were regular users.



Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Josh Meyer, Reporting from Washington

U.S. Shifts Its Drug Focus From Eradicating Poppy to Targeting Trafficking, Seen As Aiding the Taliban.

The U.S. government is deploying dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Afghanistan in a new kind of "surge," targeting trafficking networks that officials say are increasingly fueling the Taliban insurgency and corrupting the Afghan government.

The move to dramatically expand a second front is seen as the latest acknowledgment in Washington that security in Afghanistan cannot be won with military force alone.

For much of its eight-year tenure, the Bush administration's counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan were focused on destroying the vast fields of poppy that have long been the source of the world's heroin. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Afghanistan's contribution to the global heroin trade has risen to 93%, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime.

But the Obama administration believes that the effort drove many farmers and influential tribesmen into supporting the Islamist insurgency. The Afghan government and some NATO allies in the country agree.

The United States is now shifting to a counterinsurgency campaign that in addition to sending more troops is funding nation-building efforts and promoting alternative crops to farmers who have long profited from poppy production.

The increased DEA effort is aimed at more than a dozen drug kingpins whose networks are producing vast amounts of hashish, opium, morphine and heroin, some of which ends up in the United States.

Some of these figures belong either to the Taliban or to influential tribes allied with it, and they are assisted by international drug trafficking rings that have flourished for decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and nearby countries, DEA officials say.

In interviews, more than a dozen current and former U.S. counter-narcotics officials said they were alarmed by the growing ties between drug traffickers and insurgents and the Afghan government's inability or lack of interest by many Afghan officials to go after them.

As hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the U.S.-led coalition was allocated to build Afghan police and security agencies, the forces were being corrupted simultaneously at the highest levels by the very traffickers they were supposed to be capturing, said Bruce Riedel, who chaired the Obama administration's interagency review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Our whole effort at developing security in Afghanistan was undermined by having a Ministry of Interior that was interested in facilitating the drug trade rather than combating it," said Riedel, who retired from the CIA in 2006 after three decades of advising administrations on South Asia national security issues. The current Afghan interior minister, Mohammed Hanif Atmar, Riedel said, is honest and well-intentioned -- and in mortal danger because of it.

"If we can keep him alive, he'll do a great job. But he's got a lot of enemies," said Riedel, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

With the Taliban now controlling large swaths of Afghanistan, traffickers and their networks pay the militants as much as $500 million a year, according to U.S. and U.N. intelligence estimates, to grow and protect the poppy fields, smuggle the drugs and run sophisticated processing labs and drug bazaars in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

Similar drug trafficking activity is flourishing in the tribal belt that includes northwestern Pakistan, and it is providing huge amounts of cash to the Pakistani Taliban and possibly Al Qaeda, the officials said.

"We see their involvement through just about every stage of drug trafficking, and in each of the four corners of Afghanistan," Thomas Harrigan, deputy administrator and chief of operations for the DEA, said of the Taliban. "They use the money to sustain their operations, feed their fighters, to assist Al Qaeda."

In response, the number of DEA agents and analysts in Afghanistan will rise from 13 to 68 by September, and to 81 in 2010. More agents will also be deployed in Pakistan. It is "the most prolific expansion in DEA history," Harrigan said.




Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen

Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson slammed the Senate Wednesday for not pushing through new legislation implementing mandatory jail terms for drug producers, smugglers and traffickers.

Nicholson toured a mock Vancouver marijuana grow-op with police and firefighters before telling reporters that the holdup in passing Bill C-15 was risking the lives of Canadians.

He said the proposed law would be a deterrent to those willing to set up clandestine labs and grow-ops.



Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Abbotsford News

No city should have to be labelled the "Murder Capital of Canada," especially considering that the name is a misnomer.

It is not a title bestowed by Statistics Canada after analyzing the number of homicides in cities and regions in relation to population. Rather, it is a label given by the media as it reviews these stats. The title might just as easily be given to the area with the most murders, regardless of population.


What's more, the victims are mostly those involved in organized crime - - people whose chosen path put them in danger. Average citizens who don't get caught up in the underground world of illicit drugs and grow-ops need not feel less safe.

That said, everyone who lives in the Abbotsford area is aware of the gang violence that has rocked the community. With the targeted killings have come other non-fatal woundings, drive-bys where houses and vehicles are shot up, and other brazen acts of violence.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Andrew Taylor (AP)

WASHINGTON - The House voted Friday to lift a ban on using taxpayer dollars for needle exchange programs for intravenous drug users intended to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases.

The vote to lift a longstanding ban on federal aid for such programs - in place since 1988 - came after a brief but passionate debate on an amendment by Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., to keep the ban in place. His amendment failed by a 211-218 vote.



By Pete Guither,


Vietnam and the War on Drugs

By Ethan Nadelmann

Later in life, Cronkite became an outspoken crusader to end our nation's disastrous policies on illicit drugs.


Last week Danny Kushlick, Mike Trace and David Raynes spoke at the Frontline Club to explore whether the war on drugs can be won.


If you say something like "marijuana has no medicinal benefit," you are either a liar or an idiot.

By Jacob Sullum


Century of Lies - 07/19/09 - Lawrence Garrison

Lawrence Garrison, who spent more than 10 years behind bars on a bogus cocaine conspiracy charge + Ali Muhammad who lost his social worker status on a bogus marijuana charge.


Colorado Medical Marijuana Supporters Defeat Effort to Restrict Caregivers, Dispensaries

Drug War Chronicle, Issue #595, 7/24/09


Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


How phony statistics about cocaine prices hide the truth about the war on drugs

By Ryan Grim


Americans who've been locked up in a foreign land share their stories in this documentary series from National Geographic



California Marijuana In The News. A DrugSense Focus Alert.


Video Assistant Internship -- Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is hiring an intern to assist with its video production work. This is an unpaid, part-time internship, with class credit available. The intern will work 12-16 hours per week (starting either now or in the fall) and have the chance to play a responsible role in a successful nonprofit organization.

To apply for this position, please visit and follow the instructions there. Please e-mail if you have any questions about this internship.



By Kirk Tousaw


Your article on the Richmond grow-op bylaw program contained some interesting facts and assertions. I found it particularly telling that 89 per cent of the grow-op inspections in 2008 revealed no evidence of grow-ops. That's a pretty large range of error if the point of the inspections is to find grows.

Of 54 houses searched, 48 homeowners were totally innocent of wrongdoing yet suffered the indignity, hassle and stigmatization associated with a search of their private residences. And this is a program the city wants to revive?

The assertion that I found most interesting was that the city considered this program a success. The evidence of success appears to be a decline in the number of high-power-using homes which is assumed to mean a decline in the number of grows. The alternative explanation, and the more likely one, is that growers have gone back to stealing power to avoid detection. Stealing power, by the way, is the most dangerous part of indoor growing. I find it ironic that the city's "safety oriented" program is actually driving people into less safe practices.

The bottom line is that getting rid of residential grow-ops is only going to happen when we come to our senses, legalize and regulate the marijuana industry and put the growing into the hands of farmers and legitimate businesses rather than black-market cultivators.

Kirk Tousaw Vancouver

Pubdate: Sat, 18 Jul 2009
Source: Richmond Review, The (CN BC)


Book Review: This is Your Country on Drugs / By Ryan Grim  ( Top )

Reviewed by Stephen Young

Ryan Grim's new book starts with a quest to determine why the LSD supply seemingly vanished in the United States during the early part of this millennium.

The pursuit of that question allows Grim to weave an engaging narrative thread through this unconventional account of the U.S. drug war.

Though it is relatively short, the book lives up to its subtitle: "The Secret History of Getting High in America."

Grim's use of his own personal experience with illegal drugs to help analyze data about the past, present and future of drug prohibition makes the book particularly interesting.

Somehow at the same time, the author conveys the sense that he is reporting as objectively as possible. While he is clearly critical of the excesses of the drug war (as most objective observers would be), he also harbors no illusions about a truce being called any time soon.

Patterns get repeated throughout the book: A particular drug gains in popularity for its positive effects before its negative effects are widely perceived, leading to prohibition and increased risks in the black market.

Generally, the author lets the stupidity of the drug war and its enablers speak for themselves. In a chapter that examines the CIA-Contra connection to cocaine importation in the mid-1980s, Grim interviews the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, perhaps the most famous press analyst in America.

While Grim clearly asked Kurtz tough questions, Grim doesn't explicitly pass judgement on Kurtz. However, Kurtz's own answers suggest that he still fails to understand what happened in that episode and why it was significant.

Grim, on the other hand, seems to see that story and others for what they are: Misguided policy decisions that made problems worse instead of better.

Most people reading this probably already accept that premise. However, even for the most well-read drug policy observers, "This Is Your Country on Drugs" offers fresh insights and intriguing details on a subject that will continue to define America's relationship with the world, and its own citizens.

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


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