THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) U.S. SEEDS NEW CROPS TO SUPPLANT AFGHAN POPPIES
Pubdate: Fri, 14 Aug 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Yochi J. Dreazen
QALAI BOST VILLAGE, Afghanistan -- The Obama administration is overhauling its strategy for eliminating Afghanistan's flourishing drug trade, a key source of funds for the Taliban. Its plan hinges on persuading farmers like Mohammed Walid to grow something other than poppies.
Mr. Walid's tidy fields here in southern Afghanistan once were full of poppy bulbs, the core ingredient in opium. He replaced the poppy with wheat and corn after receiving free seed from a U.S. government program, starting about two years ago. Today, he grows enough of both crops to feed his family and sell the remainder at a nearby bazaar.
"I tell my friends that I've gone into a different business," he says, looking out at his farm. "It's the same fields, but everything else has changed."
Obama administration officials say the U.S. will largely leave the eradication business and instead focus on giving Afghan farmers other ways of earning a living.
The new $300 million effort will give micro-grants to Afghan food-processing and food-storage businesses, fund the construction of new roads and irrigation channels, and sell Afghan farmers fruit seed and livestock at a heavy discount. The U.S. is spending six times as much on the push this year as the $50 million it spent in 2008.
(2) EDITORIAL: 40 YEARS AFTER WOODSTOCK, A MORE HARMONIOUS SOCIETY ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 14 Aug 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Historians often look at 1968 as the apex of that strange era known as the '60s. But running through the many 40-year anniversaries this summer, it is hard not to conclude that 1969 reveals more about where the nation was then and how far it has come.
The moon landing, Sen. Edward Kennedy's accident at Chappaquiddick, and the bizarre murders engineered by Charles Manson all happened within a few dizzying weeks of each other in July and August 40 years ago. And this weekend marks the anniversary of the ultimate '60s happening - the Woodstock music festival in rural Bethel, N.Y.
Woodstock, like the moon landing, was supposedly going to usher in a new era that never came. Today, we aren't living in space colonies. Nor have we arrived at some utopian society dedicated to peace, love and free music.
What has changed since then is almost all for the better. In 1969 the fissures over the Vietnam War, racial tensions, and social and sexual mores were incomprehensibly vast. The fabric of American society, already strained by the assassinations the previous year of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
The most radical of protesters were full of anger not just at politicians but also at law enforcement officers and soldiers. Many demonstrators showed little respect for private property or free enterprise. Some preached outright anarchy or violent overthrow of the government.
On the other side, the harshest critics of the protest movement were sometimes so agitated by lawlessness, drug usage and assaults on traditional values that they were willing to short-circuit the Constitution.
(3) MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMING TO ASPEN ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: Aspen Times (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Aspen Times
Author: Carolyn Sackariason, The Aspen Times
ASPEN -- Aspen is about to have its first medical marijuana dispensary.
The manager of Aspen L.E.A.F. ( Locals Emporium of Alternative Farms ), who asked to be identified only as Charlie at the wishes of his family, said Wednesday that a local ownership group plans to open a dispensary in downtown Aspen next week. They are currently looking at a couple of locations to set up shop, and a lease will be signed within days.
We're looking at two locations in the center of town," Charlie said. "We've spoken to the landlords, and they are very supportive of it."
Several strains of the plant, which is Colorado-grown, will be offered, and will be available in edible and vaporized form for those qualified to buy cannabis. Starter plants with lighting equipment will be sold, as will kief and hashish.
Under Colorado's medical marijuana law, approved by voters as Amendment 20 in 2000, patients with certain conditions, including HIV, muscle spasms and chronic pain, can use medical marijuana as long as they get a doctor's approval and register with the state.
The law permits patients or their designated caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants or possess two ounces of usable marijuana.
(4) TAINTED TOWN ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Tony Spears, The Ottawa Citizen
Hawkesbury's mayor says her town isn't 'saturated' with drugs, and says OPP ought to help with big policing bills by sending more officers free of charge, Tony Spears writes.
Hawkesbury isn't "saturated" with methamphetamine, says the town's mayor, who fears the impression police gave of Hawkesbury after a series of drug-related arrests will increase the town's already big policing bill.
"I'm not stupid, I know there are drugs here," said Jeanne Charlebois, just over a week after Ontario Provincial Police arrested a number of alleged drug dealers in the Eastern Ontario region. "There are drugs in my town like there are drugs in everybody else's town."
After inviting reporters from across the region at the end of July, police announced they'd seized 2,506 methamphetamine tablets and 183 oxycodone pills, in addition to smaller amounts of hash, marijuana, cocaine, steroids and contraband tobacco. They charged 21 people with 148 criminal offences in the 11-month undercover operation, Project Dover.
Det. Insp. Bryan Martin said Hawkesbury is "saturated" with methamphetamine, commonly known as speed.
"I don't doubt what ( OPP ) said at that press conference," Charlebois said, but added that if Ontario's own police force is saying there's a big problem in Hawkesbury, "well, then the Ontario Provincial Police should send more policemen down here and not charge us for it."
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
The disconnect between reality and politicians continues with regard to the drug war. As Mexico tries to get tough on cartels, the violence only intensifies. Meanwhile, as California races towards insolvency, candidates for governor don't want to talk too much about further liberalization of cannabis laws. Also, Stanton Peele identifies a syndrome affecting drug policy reformers who supported Obama, while over-the-counter drug tests come to Australia with some criticism.
(5) DRUG KILLINGS SOAR AS OBAMA HEADS TO THREE AMIGOS MEETING ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 7 Aug 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Reuters
Author: Julian Cardona, Reuters
U.S. Must Do More To Fight Drug War, Mexico Says
Mexican drug gangs are killing rivals in record numbers in a major setback for the government, which will seek more support from U.S. President Barack Obama when he visits the country this weekend.
Severed heads, burned bodies, daylight shootouts and dead children are daily fare from Mexico's Caribbean coast to its desert border with the United States, even as army generals pour soldiers and elite police onto city streets.
Last month was the deadliest of President Felipe Calderon's nearly three-year army assault on powerful cartels across Mexico with 850 deaths, according to media tallies.
The death rate so far this year stands at around 4,000, about a third higher than in the same period in 2008 despite a brief lull earlier in the year.
(6) LEGALIZED POT A TOUGH SELL IN GOVERNOR'S RACE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 8 Aug 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Legalizing marijuana in California could generate $1.4 billion a year for the cash-starved state treasury, according to the state Board of Equalization. It's supported by 56 percent of the public, according to a Field Poll in April.
But it's not a proposal that any of the five leading candidates for governor is willing to embrace.
"If the whole society starts getting stoned, we're going to be even less competitive," Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown - who as governor signed a 1975 law reducing possession of small amounts of pot to a $100 misdemeanor - said on a recent radio show.
"Like electing Jerry Brown as governor, the idea of legalizing drugs is one more bad idea from a bygone era," said Jarrod Agen, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says the state needs "a new direction in drug policy," but opposes legalizing marijuana -though he welcomes an "open dialogue" on the subject as he seeks the Democratic nomination.
(7) THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF OVER OBAMA'S DRUG POLICIES ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 8 Aug 2009
Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 HuffingtonPost com, Inc.
Author: Stanton Peele, addiction expert, psychologist, raconteur
Like the stages people who experience grief due to a personal tragedy pass through, people concerned about modifying American drug policies have dialed through these five stages since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States:
1. Unbounded enthusiasm. Drug reform advocates, along with other progressives, were wild with anticipation when Barack Obama was elected President. Aside from his remarkable background and intelligence, he was extremely well-informed about drug reform initiatives -- including clean needle programs, discrepancies in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine ( which punish minorities disproportionately ), and noninterference with states that have enacted medical marijuana ( MM ) statutes. Moreover, he called the war on drugs an "utter failure."
2. Anxiety. During the run-up to Obama's selection of a Drug Czar, a name often mentioned was Jim Ramstad, former Congressman and a recovering alcoholic who opposed all major drug reforms ( e.g., needle exchange, methadone maintenance ). Why would Obama even consider such a Neanderthal, his supporters wondered. Where was he coming from in all of this, they asked themselves through sleepless nights.
3. Cautious optimism. Instead, the President selected Gil Kerlikowske, who was not known for being out front in reforming drug policies as Seattle Police Chief, but who also didn't fight the city's needle exchange program and low priority on marijuana possession enforcement, nor Washington state's MM laws. Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance and the country's leading reform advocate, declared himself "cautiously optimistic" due to Kerlikowske's middle-of-the-road stance, even as he was disappointed that Obama had chosen a law enforcement officer rather than a public health advocate to be Drug Czar.
(8) Pubdate: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 ( Top )
Copyright: 2009 The Sydney Morning Herald Author: Rachel Browne
DRUG TESTING KIT FOR KIDS 'RUINS TRUST'
A NEW home-testing kit that detects drug use through hair samples has been branded an invasion of privacy by civil liberties and health groups.
One spokesman said the tests would ruin trust between parents and their children.
HairConfirm, produced by American biotech company Confirm BioSciences and launched in Australia this month, is marketed to those concerned their children are using drugs.
Parents who buy the $65 kit can collect a lock of their child's hair and send it to the U.S. to be analysed for drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamine and methamphetamine. The results, claimed to be 99.9 per cent accurate, are available online within 48 hours.
Peter Menedis - a consultant to the kit's international distributor, Instant Drug Testing - said people had a right to know if their child was using drugs. "The parent is responsible for the child. No parent wants to see their child descend into addiction. Every parent wants to be the best parent they can be and they want to do what's best for their children."
NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said such kits were notoriously inaccurate and called for consumers to be wary.
"All parents worry about their kids and these companies exploit their fears," he said.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
The drug war is looking rather tired this week, as budget limitations and opponents block drug war expansion, while prison fails to stop the activities of drug cartels in Mexico. And yet, no one has told police in New York, where residents are still being arrested in droves for mere cannabis possession.
(9) FINANCIAL SHORTAGES MAY SNUFF OUT DRUG TASK FORCE ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 07 Aug 2009
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Summit Daily News
Author: Robert Allen
Local, State Funds Dwindling
SUMMIT COUNTY - Financial shortages could cause the Summit County Drug Task Force to be terminated within a year.
"It's terribly disappointing. It's something that many of us have put a lot of time and effort into," said Derek Woodman, Summit County undersheriff and task force director. "It's just one of those phenomenons that take place - cuts got to go somewhere."
The task force runs on about $200,000 per year, which comes mostly from state and local governments. It functions as a "central, concerted effort" for countywide drug enforcement, developing about 60 of its own cases per year.
The budget includes two full-time agents, a half-time administrative person and expenses for equipment, undercover buy money and payments for confidential information, Woodman said.
Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said drug task forces no longer appear to be high enough a priority for the advisory board distributing Justice Assistance Grants.
"It's likely funding for task forces throughout the state - for this program, anyway - is going to disappear," Clem said. "So what you're seeing in Summit County is indicative of what's going on through the rest of the state."
(10) LAWYERS QUESTION ANTI-DRUG PROPOSAL ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 9 Aug 2009
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Matt Garfield
Police department asks city to create a ban on bongs, other devices used to do drugs.
Defense lawyers around Rock Hill are raising questions about the Police Department's request for a drug paraphernalia law that would criminalize bongs, pipes and other devices used to do drugs.
The way the law is written, attorneys say, suspects could also be arrested for having ordinary household items such as spoons and bottle caps.
Attorneys question whether the real aim is to generate more money in fines through the city-run court system. As in other municipal cases handled at the downtown law building, suspects could face fines up to $500 or 30 days in jail.
"This isn't any kind of a battle against drugs," said attorney Leland Greeley. "That law is already in place by the state. This is just so that they can charge under a municipal ordinance and keep all the money."
(11) MEXICO'S DRUG TRAFFICKERS CONTINUE TRADE IN PRISON ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 11 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey
War Without Borders
MEXICO CITY -- The surveillance cameras captured it all: guards looking on nonchalantly as 53 inmates -- many of them associated with one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels -- let themselves out of their cells and sped off in waiting vehicles.
The video shows that prison guards only pulled out their weapons after the inmates were well on their way. The brazen escape in May in the northern state of Zacatecas -- carried out in minutes without a single shot fired -- is just one of many glaring examples of how Mexico's crowded and cruel prison system represents a critical weak link in the drug war.
Mexico's prisons, as described by inmates and insiders and viewed during several visits, are places where drug traffickers find a new base of operations for their criminal empires, recruit underlings, and bribe their way out for the right price. The system is so flawed, in fact, that the Mexican government is extraditing record numbers of drug traffickers to the United States, where they find it much harder to intimidate witnesses, run their drug operations or escape.
(12) THE EPIDEMIC OF POT ARRESTS IN NEW YORK CITY ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 10 Aug 2009
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Media Institute
Author: Harry G. Levine
There are two things that need to be understood about marijuana arrests in New York City.
First, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not a crime in New York State. Since 1977 and passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, state law has made simple possession of less than seventh-eights of an ounce of pot a violation, like a traffic violation. One can be given a ticket and fined $100 for marijuana possession, but not fingerprinted and jailed. For over thirty years, New York State has formally, legally, decriminalized possession of marijuana.
Second, despite that law, since 1997 the New York City Police Department has arrested 430,000 people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly teenagers and young people in their twenties. Most people arrested were not smoking pot. Usually they just carried a bit of it in a pocket. In 2008 alone, the NYPD arrested and jailed 40,300 people for possessing a small amount of marijuana. These extraordinary numbers of arrests and jailings, continuing for over twelve years, now make New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the world.
The arrests for marijuana possession first increased dramatically under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. They have continued unabated under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. By 2008 Bloomberg had arrested more people for pot possession than Giuliani, and more than other mayor in the world.
Why has the NYPD continued to order narcotics and patrol officers to make so many misdemeanor pot arrests? For many reasons. The arrests are easy, safe, and provide training for new officers. The arrests gain overtime pay for patrol and narcotics police and their supervisors. The pot arrests allow officers to show productivity, which counts for promotions and choice assignments. Marijuana arrests enable the NYPD to obtain fingerprints, photographs and other data on many young people they would not otherwise have in their criminal justice databases. And there is very little public criticism and thus far no political opposition to New York City's marijuana arrest crusade.
Do the pot arrests reduce serious and violent crimes? No, if anything they increase other crimes. Professors Harcourt and Ludwig at the University of Chicago Law School analyzed NYPD data and concluded that the pot possession arrests took officers off the street and distracted them from other crime-fighting activities. "New York City's marijuana policing strategy," they reported, "is having exactly the wrong effect on serious crime - increasing it, rather than decreasing it." Veteran police officers agree terming the possession arrests "a waste of time." The arrests drain resources not just of police, but also of courts, jails, prosecutors and public defenders.
Cannabis & Hemp-
Abraham Lincoln once said "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." A corollary is that one way to get an absurd law repealed is to force authorities to enforce it.
As Americans ponder the costs and benefits of health care reform, a reminder that hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers who think they have health care coverage don't.
Performing certain jobs stoned may never be - and arguably should never be - tolerated. On the other hand, legalization will allow us to define where, when and how getting high is acceptable and remove the impediments to our cultivating social customs and mores.
Cannabis legalization may be inevitable, but sadly, many who have guided us toward the promised land will not get there with us.
(13) COUPLE BRINGS POT PLANT TO CAPITOL ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 11 Aug 2009
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2009 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/452 Author: James M. Odato, Capitol bureau
'We're On a Mission From God -- Like the Blues Brothers," Says Kingston Man Lobbying to Legalize Marijuana
ALBANY -- Most lobbyists come to the Capitol with a briefcase, a position paper and a cellphone. At least one arrived with a pot plant, and for this she must answer.
Abigail Storm-Eggink, 58, doesn't deny she's the owner of the two 18- inch plants cops took from her in separate incidents recently. One was confiscated by the Albany Police Department on June 30 as she carried it down Pearl Street on her way to the Capitol, where the Kingston woman and her 71-year-old husband, Dan Eggink, have been coming regularly for 14 months -- including the past 10 weeks straight, five days a week -- to protest pot laws.
"The police (officer) told me not to walk the street with it, to put it in a plastic bag," she said.
A couple of days later, she brought a second plant covered by a bag, and got it past the Capitol's security screeners. It was on the same afternoon as a plant sale outside Empire State Plaza.
For two days, Storm-Eggink and her husband had paraded outside the government complex with the weed. But on July 3, according to a court document, after she brought it inside and used it as a visual aid while confronting senators in the corridors, she was charged by State Police with unlawful possession of a controlled substance as soon as she stepped out onto the landing on State Street.
Storm-Eggink and her husband say they have been called by God to right a wrong. She refused a chance to settle the two cases -- which have been merged -- with the offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
"That would mean I'm guilty," she said. "I don't want to plead guilty. The whole purpose is to expose fraud. I want my plants; they have value. It belonged to the people. God gave it to the people."
Storm-Eggink hopes to use the trial before City Court Judge Rachel Kretser to make a larger case based on the First Amendment, religious freedom and what she sees as the inalienable right to the bounty of the land -- including marijuana. Storm-Eggink, who plans to represent herself, is to appear Friday morning on the charges.
(14) LAWYER: WOMAN DENIED TRANSPLANT DUE TO POT USE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 8 Aug 2009
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2009 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Author: Chelsea Jensen, Stephens Media
Cited: HMSA http://www.hmsa.com/customerservice/contact/
Kimberly Reyes Dies After HMSA Declines to Cover Liver Transplant
Taking a hit off a marijuana cigarette may cost your life -- literally.
Waimea resident Kimberly Reyes, who was diagnosed with hepatitis - in March 2008, had been told in July that she had less than 30 days to live. Her family claimed she had followed doctor's orders, but her insurance carrier, Hawaii Medical Service Association, denied the liver transplant she needed to survive because three toxicology tests showed trace amounts of cannabis in her system.
According to Reyes' attorney, Ted Herhold of the San Francisco-based Townsend and Townsend, toxicology tests from June 14, July 3 and July 14 were the sole basis for HMSA's denial of coverage for the 51-year- old mother of five.
Reyes' husband, Robin, and her mother, Noni Kuhns, said HMSA's decision was based upon a failure to comply with the insurer's policy strictly forbidding drug use. However, both maintain that neither HMSA nor her doctors told them of HMSA's policy on drug use.
Following at least five phone calls from Stephens Media over a one- week period, HMSA Public Information Officer Chuck Marshall replied through an e-mail that HMSA would not comment. HMSA also declined to provide the insurance carrier's policies on drug use or transplant approval.
Reyes died July 27 at Hilo Medical Center, 16 months after being diagnosed. She suffered cirrhosis of the liver, chronic hepatitis - infection, and end-stage kidney disease.
"Just because someone takes a hit off of a joint doesn't mean that it should be the end of their life -- this is not a reason to deny life," said Reyes' mother.
(15) DRUG CULTURE OF DISGRACED NZ SOLDIERS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 9 Aug 2009
Source: Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2009 Sunday Star-Times
Author: Tim Hume
A group of soldiers sent home from Afghanistan in disgrace for smoking hashish used a codeword to summon members to regular drug sessions, held in an army workshop where two bongs were stashed.
Internal New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) reports, released last week under the Official Information Act, reveal the drug use among the six soldiers was "not an isolated incident or a 'one-off' affair".
Junior members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) took part in at least six drug sessions, held in an electrical workshop at Kiwi base in Bamiyan and at forward operating base Romero, seven hours' drive away, where one was suspected of being stoned when reporting late for sentry duty.
A soldier at Romero was also described by personnel as being "plastered". Afghanistan is a dry mission, with servicemen forbidden from drinking alcohol.
The reports, released to the Sunday Star-Times after eight months of stalling by NZDF, describe how the soldiers used a flat soldering iron to smoke "spots" of the class-B drug in the workshop, beginning within a month of starting the deployment. Cut-off plastic drink bottles, used to funnel the hashish smoke, were found "well-concealed" in the workshop.
The "Bamiyan Six" were sent home under military police guard in March last year, following an investigation triggered when one of the soldiers was overheard discussing his drug use.
Defence Force spokesman Commander Shaun Fogarty said that despite five of the six admitting to investigating officers they had smoked the drug, all charges against them were later dismissed because of procedural errors in the investigation.
"Our investigators didn't advise them of their rights and what have you; because that wasn't administered ... the evidence taken was inadmissible."
(16) T. C. SLATER, WHO LED A STATE EFFORT ON MARIJUANA, IS DEAD AT 68 ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Referenced: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText09/HouseText09/H5359A.pdf Referenced: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText09/SenateText09/S0185aa.pdf
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- State Representative Thomas C. Slater, who successfully urged legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island, died Monday at his home in Providence. He was 68.
The cause was cancer, other legislative leaders on the issue said in announcing his death.
Despite being seriously ill, Mr. Slater, Democrat of Providence, attended General Assembly sessions this summer to oversee an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program.
A former Marine first elected to office in 1994, Mr. Slater was best known for sponsoring legislation that in 2006 made Rhode Island the 11th state in the country to allow chronically ill patients to possess small amounts of marijuana to ease their symptoms. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
Mr. Slater cast the sole vote in 2005 against an amendment naming the new law for him.
The law had a defect: it never explained how patients could legally buy the drug. At Mr. Slater's urging, lawmakers passed legislation this year by a wide margin allowing up to three nonprofit stores to sell marijuana legally to registered patients.
He is survived by his wife, Jody McKiernan, and three children.
The New York Times newspaper this week reported a new U.S. policy in Afghanistan to place over 300 alleged Afghan "drug traffickers" known to "link drugs and the insurgency" on a hit list, meaning the U.S. military can hunt and kill them, no trial needed. This revelation comes on the heels of news the "Taliban has been getting less money from the drug trade than previous public studies have suggested," according to a new Senate report.
In Toronto, Canada, a city-commissioned study on the projected impact of a safe injection site there has critics up in arms. "I'll do everything in my power to stop it," said city councillor Rob Ford of the study. "Who's going to want to live in a community that's invaded every day and night by drug users?" The study will look at "whether [a supervised injection site] could cut transmission of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis B and C."
The Mexican drug cartels may be slaughtering as many people as ever to retain lucrative drug smuggling to the U.S., but government is "winning" the drug "war" in Mexico claimed U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week. "We are not only fighting this fight, but we are winning it." Proof, according to Napolitano? Big seizures: "So far this year, we have seized 2.4 million pounds (one million kilograms) of drugs."
And from Argentina, the first Latin American Conference on Drug Policy last week ended with declarations that drug prohibition "did not achieve its goal," and "could not manage in 10 years to reduce the area under cultivation" of coca. "[U]nder the pretext of a war on drugs, the borders of the region's countries are being militarized." According to the Latin American Herald-Tribune report, "The Argentine government defended Thursday the legalization of drug possession for personal consumption."
(17) U.S. TO HUNT DOWN AFGHAN DRUG LORDS TIED TO TALIBAN ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 10 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: James Risen
WASHINGTON -- Fifty Afghans believed to be drug traffickers with ties to the Taliban have been placed on a Pentagon target list to be captured or killed, reflecting a major shift in American counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional study to be released this week.
"We have a list of 367 'kill or capture' targets, including 50 nexus targets who link drugs and the insurgency," one of the generals told the committee staff. The generals were not identified in the Senate report, which was obtained by The New York Times.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary general of NATO until last month, told the Senate committee staff that to deal with the concerns of other nations with troops in Afghanistan, safeguards had been put in place to make sure the alliance remained within legal bounds while pursuing drug traffickers. Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, is also informed before a mission takes place, according to a senior military official.
General Craddock said that some NATO countries were also concerned that the new policy would draw the drug lords closer to the Taliban, because they would turn to them for more protection. "But the opposite is the case, since it weakens the Taliban, so they can't provide that protection," General Craddock said. "If we continue to push on this, we will see progress," he added. "It's causing them problems."
In a surprise, the Senate report reveals that the United States intelligence community believes that the Taliban has been getting less money from the drug trade than previous public studies have suggested. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency both estimate that the Taliban obtains about $70 million a year from drugs.
The Senate report found that American officials did not believe that Afghan drug money was fueling Al Qaeda, which instead relies on contributions from wealthy individuals and charities in Persian Gulf countries, as well as aid organizations working inside Afghanistan.
(18) SAFE-INJECTION SITES ON WAY, CRITICS FEAR ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Michael McKiernan, National Post
City Sanctions Feasibility Study for Program
A city-sanctioned study is looking into the feasibility of Vancouver-style safe-injection sites in Toronto, but critics fear the study's support for such sites is a done deal.
The study, part of Toronto Public Health's drug strategy, comes as Vancouver's six-year-old InSite program faces increasing doubts over its own future. The federal government wants it shut and has appealed a 2008 B. C. Supreme Court ruling that allowed it to continue operating.
"It's getting pushed out of Vancouver and they want to move the problem somewhere else, but we don't want it here," said Rob Ford, city councillor for Etobicoke North. "My residents don't want it, I don't want it and I'll do everything in my power to stop it. Who's going to want to live in a community that's invaded every day and night by drug users?"
Although commissioned under the city's Toronto Drug Strategy, the funding for the study has come from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, an independent nonprofit organization.
Mr. Ford led opponents of the controversial drug strategy when councillors passed it in December 2005.
"You don't condone and enable drug use -- it's illegal. How can you say you're helping people when you're enabling them?"
Dr. Carol Strike of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is leading the study with Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi of St. Michael's Hospital. She emphasized the limited scope of the study, which will also examine site options in Ottawa.
"We're not recommending establishing any site. We want to understand if it makes sense to have one in either city. Not just how many, but if it makes sense to have one at all," she said.
The research will focus on the potential impact a safe-injection site would have on drug use in the city, and whether it could cut transmission of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis B and C.
(19) U.S., MEXICO WINNING DRUG WAR: NAPOLITANO ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Agence France-Presse
The United States and Mexico are "winning" an often brutal war against drug cartels that operate across the border separating the two countries, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday.
"We are not only fighting this fight, but we are winning it," Napolitano, a former border state governor, said in prepared remarks to the Southwest Border Task Force gathered in the border city of El Paso, Texas.
Her comments came one day after President Barack Obama travelled to Mexico, throwing his weight behind Mexico's crackdown on violent drug cartels that control much of the flow of illegal narcotics from South America to the United States.
"So far this year, we have seized 2.4 million pounds (one million kilograms) of drugs, more than 95,000 rounds of ammunition, and more than 500 assault rifles and handguns," Napolitano said.
"The fighting has resulted in more than 12,000 deaths in Mexico, and there will, no doubt be more," Napolitano warned.
"We have a strong partner in President Calderon," Napolitano said. "We are fighting this fight together with the government of Mexico."
(20) LATIN AMERICA ON ITS WAY TO LEGALIZING DRUGS, EXPERTS SAY ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 09 Aug 2009
Source: Latin American Herald-Tribune (Venezuela)
Copyright: 2009 Latin American Herald-Tribune
BUENOS AIRES - Latin America is headed towards the decriminalization of drug possession for personal consumption, according to experts and officials who took part in a regional conference in Buenos Aires.
Those attending the 1st Latin American Conference on Drug Policy, which ended Friday, also said that legislative reforms are being designed to give smaller sentences "to small traffickers, and to create policies that minimize harm" by encouraging addicts who can't quit to come into the health system.
They also warned that the war on drugs "did not achieve its goal," since Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, which together produce all the cocaine in the world, "could not manage in 10 years to reduce the area under cultivation," according to a communique released at the end of the meeting, sponsored by the Pan-American Health Organization.
Brazilian lawmaker Paulo Teixeira said that his country's current anti-drug law "increases the harm to users, because once in jail they get involved with organized crime."
Meanwhile Peruvian expert Hugo Cabieses warned that "under the pretext of a war on drugs, the borders of the region's countries are being militarized."
"In 1992 the hectares (acres) of coca grown in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia were 11,500 (28,395), but by 2004 they had been reduced to 11,000 (27,160). These plans (to militarize borders) do not expand democracy, they restrict it," he said.
The Argentine government defended Thursday the legalization of drug possession for personal consumption and said that it awaits "almost impatiently" a verdict by the Supreme Court that would make criminal punishment for a drug user unconstitutional.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
GEORGIA LAWMAKER CALLS FOR CANING, EXECUTING MARIJUANA OFFENDERS ( Top )
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
State Republican lawmaker Tommy Benton (31st House District) favors "caning" minor marijuana offenders and "executing" those who sell the drug, according to a recent correspondence sent by the representative to a constituent.
PEOPLE WILL BE SO STONED THAT THEY WON'T CARE ABOUT THE DEATH BOARDS ( Top )
By Jacob Sullum
"Since when is the U.S. government in the business of distributing marijuana cigarettes?" Rachel Ehrenfeld asks in a Forbes.com commentary. "Is this part of the health care programs the Obama administration is so keen to enforce?" The short answers: 1) since 1978 and 2) no.
CHARLES BOWDEN ON MEXICO'S DIRTY WAR AGAINST DRUGS ( Top )
Last week Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy blocked the release of a State Department report affirming that Mexico has respected human rights in its fight against drug cartels. Leahy's move holds up more than $100 million in U.S. aid. The money has been delayed under a law linking 15 percent of U.S. funding to Mexico under the Merida Initiative to Mexico's record on human rights. On Monday, President Obama praised the Mexican government for its handling of the drug war. We speak with Charles Bowden, a reporter who has been extensively covering the human consequences of Mexico's drug war.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 08/09/09 - Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop, columnist with Creator's Syndicate takes listener calls live
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Froma Harrop, syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate + Loretta Nall re drug warrior shenanigans in Alabama
US TARGETS 50 TALIBAN-LINKED DRUG TRAFFICKERS TO CAPTURE OR KILL ( Top )
Drug War Chronicle, Issue #597, 8/13/09
A congressional study released Tuesday reveals that U.S. military forces occupying Afghanistan have placed 50 drug traffickers on a "capture or kill" list.
MAPS' AUGUST, 2009 PODCAST ( Top )
MAPS' Psychedelic Spotlight, hosted by Ken Allen, featuring a 2 part interview with MAPS Board Member John Gilmore
DRUG WAR RANT HAS MOVED ( Top )
Drug WarRant has moved from blogs.salon.com to:
The new RSS feed is http://www.drugwarrant.com/feed/
"We're having a great time over at the new digs (with vastly improved commenting capability), and we'd hate to have you miss any of it. All the old posts are there as well, and your favorite articles...
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, NDP? YOU USED TO BE COOL ( Top )
She may not be heading to Halifax, but that hasn't stopped ITQ from following, with equal parts bemusement and amusement, the fracas surrounding once-and-not-likely-future NDP candidate Dana Larsen, who was - at least, according to his tweeted version of events - unceremoniously banned from attending the convention - or even hanging around the building - earlier today. Apparently, the party was distinctly unimpressed with his efforts to get out the vote on a pro-pot legalization resolution that may well not even make it to the floor, and revoked his credentials on the spot.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
PROTECT PATIENTS: LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ( Top )
Federal and local agents raided two Los Angeles-area medical marijuana dispensaries this week. During the raids, agents arrested the owner of the dispensaries, seized property and money, and shot a dog.
Why is the Justice Department still using Bush-era tactics to go after medical marijuana providers when, as a presidential candidate, Obama declared medical marijuana raids a waste of federal resources?
Ask your representative to cosponsor H.R. 2835, which would protect medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution in states that have medical marijuana laws.
DRUG TRUTH PLEDGE DRIVE ( Top )
This Sunday, on the Drug Truth Network hour we will interview Loretta Nall, reformer extraordinaire, playing some Cultural Baggage songs (and Shotgun Lobotomy as well, my last two bands before getting into drug reform/hosting radio shows), lots of satirical PSA's and asking for your pledge of support.
Please listen in Sunday, August 16 at 6:30 to 7:30 PM central time at http://www.kpft.org/, and call in your pledge to 713-526-5738.
ENDORSE CALIFORNIA CANNABIS INITIATIVE ( Top )
Endorse California Cannabis Initiative with a few words for publication on the website at: http://californiacannabisinitiative.org
Submit your brief, well written endorsement by return email or online here: http://drugsense.org/url/o2xPNWjX
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
DRUG PROHIBITION A FAILURE ( Top )
By Jeff Robertson
The Rev. Howard Brown, who saw one son murdered and another shot in the North Lawndale neighborhood, was quoted in the Sun-Times ( "Lawndale's 'murder game,' "Aug. 3): "Drugs are out there and all that. As long as there's that, there will be violence and killing. It's a murder game."
He is absolutely right. As long as gangs continue their turf wars over drugs, nothing will change. The prohibition of alcohol spawned crime just as the prohibition of drugs does now. Fortunately, we had the wisdom to put an end to alcohol prohibition. Until we allow the government to regulate and tax drugs ( in other words, to legalize them and take the profit away from the gangs ), we should not expect an end to the "murder game."
Jeff Robertson, Orland Hills
Pubdate: Thu, 6 Aug 2009
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
Shakeups At The FDA Lead To An Investigation And A Resignation ( Top )
By Katherine Harmon
FDA logoTwo leaders at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently found themselves in hot water at the agency. The director of drug approval has been named in an ethics investigation and a head medical device regulator has resigned.
The agency's director of the medical device division, Daniel Schultz, resigned yesterday after 15 years with the group. He had been accused of siding with industry suppliers, against scientific recommendations, during his five-year tenure leading the division, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
Schultz was involved in several controversial approvals, including a ReGen Biologics device used in knee surgery, which, according the Journal, had been permitted despite years of opposition from reviewers and scientists. Agency researchers reportedly described internal pressure to approve devices despite questionable safety or efficacy.
"There are too many devices on the market that are not proven safe and not proven effective," Diana Zuckerman, of the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, told Reuters.
Schultz said his departure "would be in the best interest of the center and the agency," an FDA memo said, according to the Associated Press. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg named Jeff Shuren, the associate commissioner, as a temporary replacement.
Meanwhile, the FDA's head of drug evaluation is now under investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general for a conflict-of-interest allegation.
While leading the drug evaluation and research division, Janet Woodcock has occasionally collaborated with a senior scientist from Momenta Pharmaceuticals, a company that is in competition with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to gain approval for a generic version of the $3.5 billion-a-year blood-thinning drug Lovenox (sold by Sanofi-Aventis SA), the Journal reports.
Despite having filed for approval six years ago - two years ahead of Momenta - Amphastar's generic version of the drug has not yet been approved.
Amphastar representatives claim that competitors at Momenta have had special access to Woodstock, who appointed one of Momenta's founders, Ram Sasisekharan, to an FDA task force last year to investigate potentially contaminated heparin. Woodstock and Sasisekharan went on to help author journal articles that reported the findings, notes the Journal, the publication of which launched Momenta's stock 17 percent in just a day.
But company representatives told the Journal that Momenta, too, is suffering from the lengthy approval process yet still supports the agency's requirement of more data about both companies' drugs.
"I'm not sure why having lower [generic] standards would be in the public interest," Craig Wheeler, Momenta's chief executive, told the Journal.
Although the two staffing snafus seem to be isolated, the FDA has been a target of criticism this year, including scrutiny from the Obama Administration after a Salmonella outbreak and a late push to review older high-risk medical devices.
This piece originally appeared in the 60-Second Science Blog of Scientific American.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"There's always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area." -- Wavy Gravy
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