This Just In
(1)Accused of Drug Ties, Afghan Official Worries U.S.
(2)Some Colo. Medical-Pot Users Face Eviction
(3)Latin America Weighs Less Punitive Path to Curb Drug Use
(4)Collective Wisdom

Hot Off The 'Net
-Smoking Marijuana Does Not Cause Lung Cancer / Fred Gardner
-Drug Truth Network
-Neill Franklin Discusses His Oped In The Washington Post
-Marijuana-Charges Fine In Denver: $1?
-The Bushie Obama Can't Fire / Charles Homans

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Authors: James Risen and Mark Landler

WASHINGTON -- It was a heated debate during the Bush administration: What to do about evidence that Afghanistan's powerful defense minister was involved in drug trafficking? Officials from the time say they needed him to help run the troubled country. So the answer, in the end: look the other way.

Today that debate will be even more fraught for a new administration, for the former defense minister, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, stands a strong chance of becoming the next vice president of Afghanistan.

In his bid for re-election, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has surrounded himself with checkered figures who could bring him votes: warlords suspected of war crimes, corruption and trafficking in the country's lucrative poppy crop. But none is as influential as Marshal Fahim, his running mate, whose trajectory in and out of power, and American favor, says much about the struggle the United States has had in dealing with corruption in Afghanistan.

As evidence of the tensions, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told Mr. Karzai that running with Marshal Fahim would damage his standing with the United States and other countries, according to one senior administration official.

Now, the problem of how to grapple with Marshal Fahim adds to the complexity of managing an uneasy relationship with Mr. Karzai. Partial election results show Mr. Karzai leading other contenders, but allegations of fraud threaten to add to the credibility problems facing a second Karzai-led government.




Pubdate: Fri, 28 Aug 2009
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2009 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post

Disabled Who Use Drug in Face Eviction at Federally Subsidized Housing

OLATHE -- Bill Hewitt's thrice-daily medicine is laid out on a tiny table in his trailer: a couple of marijuana buds alongside a glass pipe and a Zippo lighter.

Hewitt, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, is a card-carrying medical-marijuana user. And he is living in this worn-down travel trailer because he was evicted from federally subsidized housing on account of his marijuana use.

The difference between Colorado's legal acceptance of marijuana for medical use and federal law, which categorizes marijuana as an illegal drug, is resulting in a housing quandary for the disabled.

Even with the state's OK to use medical marijuana, people such as Hewitt can't live in federal housing or receive federal subsidies for rent under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Hewitt and another medical-marijuana user from Durango have challenged that policy with HUD's fair-housing division and in court. The policy has drawn lawsuits in at least two of the other 13 states that allow medical-marijuana use. But so far HUD has prevailed. HUD officials stress they have no choice in the matter.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Alexei Barrionuevo

BRASILIA -- The Supreme Court of Argentina opened a path this week to decriminalizing the private consumption of illicit drugs, becoming the latest Latin American country to reject punitive policies toward drug use.

The unanimous decision by the Argentine court on Tuesday, which declared unconstitutional the arrest of five youths for possession of a few marijuana cigarettes in 2006, came just days after Mexico's Congress voted to end the practice of prosecuting people found to be carrying small amounts of illicit drugs, including marijuana.

Brazil, which has some of the stiffest sentences in the region for drug traffickers, essentially decriminalized drug consumption in 2006 when it eliminated prison sentences for users in favor of treatment and community service.

The new laws and court decisions in the region reflect an urgent desire to reject decades of American prescriptions for distinctly Latin American challenges. Countries in the region are seeking to counteract prison overcrowding, a rise in organized crime and rampant drug violence affecting all levels of society, but in particular the poor and the young.

In February, a commission led by three former Latin American presidents issued a scathing report that condemned Washington's "war on drugs" as a failure and urged the region to adopt drug policies found in some European countries that focus more on treatment than punishment.




Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 2009
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: R.V. Scheide, Staff Writer

Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bong Water

To be honest, I was skeptical back in the days leading up to the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. I suspected the initiative's advocates were using marijuana's dubious medicinal powers to backdoor eventual carte blanch legalization.

Turns out I was right-and wrong.

There's no doubt that Prop. 215 paved the way for the two proposals for out-and-out legalization being considered today, activist Richard Lee's ballot initiative and the legislation introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. However, after reporting on the issue for more than a decade, I've come to the conclusion that far from being dubious, marijuana is very strong medicine, indeed.

This conclusion can hardly be called scientific. I'm not a doctor; I haven't conducted any empirical studies. However, I have interviewed hundreds people who claim to have been helped by marijuana, and collectively, their stories make a compelling argument for its medicinal use.

As medical marijuana has gained acceptance, the number of maladies it can be used to treat has expanded far beyond the regulations originally set in Prop. 215. Of particular interest are its psychiatric applications, including the treatment of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.





As a generation ages, it doesn't give up its drugs, according to a new study. The study leaves one wondering if illegal drug use necessarily leads to prison and death, as the propaganda tells us, how are all these people still around? Also, some challenges in implementing compassion centers in Rhode Island; a rehab center in Canada is apparently punished for politically incorrect findings; and Mexican prosecutors do not seem troubled by new liberalized drug possession laws.


Pubdate: Thu, 20 Aug 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Reuters

Baby boomers, now well into middle age, are still turning on to illegal drugs, doubling the rates of illicit drug use for the older generation, according to U.S. government statistics released yesterday.

The rates of people aged 50 to 59 who admit to using illicit drugs in the past year nearly doubled from 5.1 per cent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups are the steady or decreasing, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported.

"These findings show that many in the Woodstock generation continue to use illicit drugs as they age," acting administrator Eric Broderick said in a statement. "This continued use poses medical risks to these individuals and is likely to put further strains on the nation's health care system -- highlighting the value of preventing drug use from ever starting."




Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2009
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal Company
Author: W. Zachary Malinowski, Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE - About 60 people crowded into a basement auditorium in the Cannon Building Tuesday seeking answers about the formation of three "compassion centers," where licensed patients would be able to buy marijuana.

But it quickly became apparent that there were more questions than answers. Charles Alexandre, a top health official, and Gregory Madoian, a lawyer for the Health Department, patiently went through the recently revised community review draft of the Medical Marijuana Program legislation that lawmakers approved in June. Along the way, those in attendance raised questions about dozens of provisions in the 22-page document.

With a few exceptions, Alexandre and Madoian could not provide details beyond the printed law before them. An eclectic group showed up for the meeting. There were young professionals in sport coats and ties, aging hippies with gray ponytails and tattoos, 20-something men in backward baseball caps and women who ranged in age from their early 20s to almost 70. The group also included at least one physician and a ranking officer from the Rhode Island State Police.

Most of them are among the state's 900 licensed medical marijuana users, or part of the 725 or so licensed caregivers who are allowed to grow up to 24 marijuana plants for patients who have been approved for the medicinal marijuana program.




Pubdate: Sat, 22 Aug 2009
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Aaron Derfel

A Montreal drug-treatment centre is accusing the provincial government of playing politics in killing funding for a three-year study to treat heroin addiction.

The cancellation of the $600,000 grant follows the publication this week of a study showing that giving heroin to hard-core addicts at the centre's supervised clinic leads to higher rates of recovery.

"We're very surprised because all the discussions that we had with the ( Social Services ) minister in the last few weeks were very positive," said Eric Fabres, the centre's co-ordinator of quality services. "We can't understand why the minister has changed her position. ... But we find it very peculiar that at the moment that we published the results in the New England Journal of Medicine, the minister decided to withdraw her support from the project."

The study, titled the North American Opiate Medication Initiative ( NAOMI ), sought to analyze whether heroin-assisted therapy offers more benefit to addicts who want to kick their habit than standard methadone treatment.




Pubdate: Sat, 22 Aug 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Associated Press
Author: Mark Stevenson, Associated Press

Mexico City - Mexico's decision to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin makes sense even in the midst of the government's grueling battle against drug traffickers, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors said the new law enacted Thursday sets clear limits that keep Mexico's corruption-prone police from shaking down casual users and offers addicts free treatment to keep growing domestic drug use in check. "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty," said Bernardo Espino del Castillo of the attorney general's office.

The new law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities no longer face criminal prosecution.

Espino del Castillo says, in practice, small users almost never did face charges anyway. Under the previous law, the possession of any amount of drugs was punishable by stiff jail sentences, but there was leeway for addicts caught with smaller amounts. "We couldn't charge somebody who was in possession of a dose of a drug, there was no way ... because the person would claim they were an addict," he said. Despite the provisions, police sometimes hauled in suspects and demanded bribes, threatening long jail sentences if people did not pay.




The drug war is allowing people who are only accused of crimes to serve long prison sentences in Texas thanks to drug war-related delays in the criminal justice system. Elsewhere, another drug task force bites the dust, but questions remain about what happened to the money. Also, a police corruption drama continues to unfold in a Canadian courtroom; while the trend of Mexican cartels using U.S. forests as cannabis grow sites doesn't seem set to end any time soon.


Pubdate: Sun, 23 Aug 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper
Author: Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle

Inmates Can Stay Locked Up More Than a Year Waiting for Trial in Low-Level Crimes

More than half of the 11,500 inmates crammed into the Harris County Jail have not yet been found guilty of a crime but await their day in court confined with convicted criminals in conditions that repeatedly flunk state and federal safety inspections.

The most common accusation against them: possession of a crack pipe or minuscule amount of drugs. Though the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial, at least 500 county inmates have been locked up for more than a year as they wait to be judged, according to an analysis of inmate data by the Houston Chronicle. About 1,200 have been jailed six months or more though many face only minor felony charges, such as bouncing checks, credit card fraud, trespassing or even civil violations.

In fact, around 200 inmates, theoretically innocent until proven guilty, appear to already have served more than the minimum sentence for the crime they allegedly committed, based on the newspaper's analysis of inmate data provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

That's what happened to 60-year-old Billy Holmes. Twice. Holmes was arrested the morning of May 16, 2005, by two officers who said he fled when they responded to a disturbance call. Holmes, who has a pair of 20-year-old prior felony convictions, waited nearly a year in jail for his first trial.

Then in March 2006, Holmes testified in his own defense that the search was illegal and the pipe wasn't his.

As a black man, he argued, he'd been unfairly chased and arrested after being approached as he stood holding a garden hoe and chatting with a friend in front of his home. The jury split.

It took five hours of deliberations before jurors decided he was guilty after reviewing statements from arresting officers who said they found the pipe in his hip pocket. He got the minimum sentence of six months. By then, Holmes already had served more time than the given sentence as he awaited trial in Harris County's jail.




Pubdate: Mon, 24 Aug 2009
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Authors: Patrick Fox, and Andria Simmons

Drug task force in Gwinnett dissolves over money dispute Several Gwinnett County police agencies are pursuing money they claim they were shortchanged when participating in a countywide drug task force.

The Lilburn Police Department received a check this week for $23,358 from the Gwinnett County Police Department for "unintentional errors" in accounting over the past four years. Lilburn Police Chief John Davidson says that's still at least $5,000 short of what is owed.

In a letter accompanying the check, Gwinnett police Chief Charles Walters said that, based on recommendations from a county audit, "I felt that there were some unintentional errors in the way payouts had been made ... I want to stress that there was no financial mismanagement as alleged by Chief Davidson."

The dispute highlights the unhappy end of a task force launched in 1994 to coordinate county and city police to fight illegal drug activity. City police departments that participated were to share in revenues from confiscated assets used in drug transactions. Now the task force is essentially dissolved.

The accounting probe was launched in March when Davidson noticed his department's share of the proceeds from the Gwinnett County Drug Task Force dropped dramatically. Records show the department's portion fell from $74,545 in 2007 to $25,535 in 2008. Davidson alleges that payouts to city police agencies were used as an expense the following year to "artificially low( er ) the shared payout to participating agencies."

An audit by the county's Performance Analysis Division concluded that the county police exceeded the $250,000 in expenses it was allowed to deduct under terms of the program. But the auditor said he never obtained a signed copy of the contract, leaving in question whether the document was enforceable.




Pubdate: Wed, 19 Aug 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Author: Bob Mitchell

A 14-year veteran Peel Police officer, accused of stealing fake cocaine from a botched RCMP drug delivery, today explained why some marijuana was also found in his garage during a search. Const. Sheldon Cook said the pot was found in one of 10 boxes stored in his garage by his brother Darren.

The property belonged to his brother's former tenant, who skipped out on his rent from a condo leased by his brother, a real estate agent.

"I had absolutely no knowledge there was any marijuana in my garage," Cook, 40, testified today at his Brampton trial. "There was no odour indicating marijuana was there. If I had known, obviously I would never have allowed the boxes to be stored in my garage."

Cook told his lawyer Pat Ducharme that Brake moved to Newfoundland and has not been located, court heard.




Pubdate: Sat, 22 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Jesse McKinley

SAN FRANCISCO -- Lt. Sonny LeGault and 11 other officers from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department woke before dawn one recent morning, hiked three miles through the woods and just missed the apparently hungry men they had hoped to arrest.

"They'd been cooking breakfast: there were a couple of quails dressed out, and a soup going," Lieutenant LeGault said. "But they were gone."

Those the officers had been hunting were workers at one of the scores of remote, highly organized outdoor marijuana "grows" that dot the vast forests of California, largely on federal property. Long a fixture of the nation's public lands, such criminal agricultural enterprises, law enforcement officials say, have increased greatly in recent years.

And they were cast squarely into the limelight this week when the authorities said a 90,000-acre Santa Barbara County wildfire, known as the La Brea fire, had begun with a campfire built by marijuana growers believed to be low-level workers for a Mexican drug cartel.

The fire, which started on Aug. 8, is expected to be fully contained on Saturday. About the only thing that did not burn, Lieutenant LeGault said, were the areas where growers had been watering some 30,000 marijuana plants.

"Ironically, it probably saved their lives," he said of the growers, who have eluded arrest. Officials say the rise in the number of such grows has resulted in part from a tightening of the border with Mexico. "It's made it much more difficult for the cartels to smuggle into the country, particularly marijuana, which is large and bulky," said the Santa Barbara County sheriff, Bill Brown. "It's easier to grow it here."




Continuing casualties and collateral damage in the war on cannabis last week, and people wonder why cannabis consumers, who are supposed to be mellow, express anger and resentment at being marginalized, stigmatized, ostracized, criminalized and far too often neutralized.


Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2009
Source: San Bernardino Sun (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Authors: Melissa Pinion-Whitt and Lori Consalvo, Staff Writers

SAN BERNARDINO - A convicted pot dealer who was shot and killed by San Bernardino police Monday night grabbed an officer's genitals and his Taser gun before police shot him, police said.

The account differs from a story given by family members of Cedric James May, 22. They say May was dragged out of a vehicle, beaten and shot after being handcuffed.

Officers were patrolling near the corner of 14th Street and Wall Avenue about 6:30 p.m. when they saw a man running away from them.

They followed the man into an alley where he jumped into a vehicle. Three other men were inside the car, said San Bernardino police Lt. David Harp.

Two men got out of the vehicle after officers asked them to. Police handcuffed them. A third man who got out of the car began fighting with police and was shot with a Taser gun, Harp said.

While he was being handcuffed, May got out of the car and began fighting with police.

"He grabs the officer's genitals and gives them a nice squeeze," Harp said. "It causes the officer quite a bit of discomfort."

The officer broke away from May and pulled out his baton. May tried to grab the baton. He also tried to snatch the officer's gun.

"He grabs the Taser from the officer's holster," Harp said. "The guy gets the Taser out and now he's pointing the Taser at the officer's head."

A second officer on scene shot May once.


May's family members said they were having a barbecue Monday to celebrate his release from jail the day before. May and his two brothers, Maurice Charles Andrew Jennings and Anthony Deshawn Jennings, left the barbecue and drove to another house to pick up a missing piece for the grill.

Relatives say that's when May encountered the police.

"They dragged him out and handcuffed him. What can you do in handcuffs?" said his mother, Brenda Standifer.


Family and friends gathered at a home by the shooting scene Tuesday. Candles sat atop a gutted black television in the alley, and a collage of family photos was placed nearby. May's twin 5-month-old babies named Saniya and Semaj are among his survivors.




Pubdate: Sun, 23 Aug 2009
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Guy Adams, in Los Angeles

Huge Blaze in California Is Traced to Cannabis Farm and Prompts New Calls for the Drug to Be Legalised

Marijuana has been accused of causing depression, triggering cancer and turning sparkly teenagers into apathetic couch potatoes. Now it is being held responsible for a heinous new misdemeanour: setting the state of California on fire.

Police investigating a vast wildfire that burned almost 90,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest around Santa Barbara last weekend have announced that it was started by a group of marijuana growers. More than 30,000 plants were seized after the vast blaze, which had filled the sky with orange smoke as far south as Los Angeles, 150 miles away, was traced to the cooking area of a cannabis plantation on public land in a remote corner of the Sierra Madre mountains.

Six drug traffickers, apparently from Mexico, are believed to have been responsible for the farming operation, which relied on diverting a stream into a sophisticated irrigation network. Propane tanks, water tubes, fertiliser and a semi-automatic weapon were also recovered from the area.

In a region suffering acute water shortages, and where wildfires destroy hundreds of homes and cause several deaths each year, police have been quick to portray widespread rural cannabis farms as the latest great threat to public safety. "No pun intended, but it's a growing problem," said US Forest Service Special Agent Russ Arthur. Cannabis farmers are suspected of starting five or six smaller blazes already this year, he said.



 (15) POT SHOT  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 24 Aug 2009
Source: Northern Express (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Northern Express
Author: Anne Stanton

Northern Express Articles Trigger Raid on Medical Marijuana Grower

About two weeks after appearing on the cover of Northern Express with his lush marijuana plants, Archie Kiel sat among the plants on his balcony chatting with a Kalkaska County Commissioner.

They noticed a helicopter flying low over the house -- so low that his plants started shaking. Kiel was about to call the police to complain when the police came to him. Police cars filled his driveway and about seven Traverse Narcotics Team officers walked up to his open door.

Kiel, who decided to go public in the Northern Express July 27 issue as a caregiver or supplier to medical marijuana patients, was about to be raided.

"They walked up with their hands on their guns and said they were checking into the fact that I was an illegal caregiver with too many plants," Kiel said.

But the raid last Thursday was unlike anything anyone could recall in Michigan. Kiel said the TNT officers were generally respectful after ascertaining that he owned no guns. Lt. Detective Kip Belcher, the director of TNT, asked to see Kiel's paperwork. Kiel had a state ID card for himself as a registered patient, as well as two caregiver cards. In addition, he had signed doctor's recommendations for two additional patients, including his 20-year-old son, Dusty, who has a "blown spine and degenerative disk." Both have their patient applications in process at the Department of Community Health.

Hydroponic Operation

The officers counted the plants on the balcony, and then asked to be shown to Kiel's basement. Based on information in the Express article, they knew he had a hydroponic operation.


The officers left without arresting or charging Kiel; however, Donnelly said that he will "probably" charge Kiel for the illegal manufacture of marijuana after he receives TNT's report. Under state law, Kiel could face up to a half million dollar fine and seven years in prison for possessing more than 20 illegal plants.




Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Andy Ivens, The Province

Heart Attack Fells Woman Who Contested Eviction for Smoking Pot

Marilyn Holsten's last days on Earth were a living hell, according to her sister, Moira O'Neill.

In frail health, the almost-blind, diabetic double-amputee was ordered evicted from her apartment because of her need to smoke marijuana to control her pain.

Holsten, 48, died earlier this month from a heart attack.

"For a whole year, it went on. It was an unbelievable way to treat someone in her health," said O'Neill.

Holsten lived in a building operated by Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society in the 900-block East 8th Avenue in Vancouver.

Many of her neighbours told her they did not smell marijuana coming from her apartment, her sister said. But, even though Holsten eventually obtained legal permission to smoke marijuana to deal with excruciating phantom pains, Anavets sought her eviction because of the smell of pot.

"It was a witch hunt," said O'Neill, who said her sister had to move from her fifth-floor apartment to a ground-floor suite two years ago, after her first leg amputation, for her own safety.

"They knew she smoked marijuana before she moved down to the other suite," said O'Neill.


O'Neill said her sister "yelled and screamed before she died," but help came too late to save her.

"It's pretty unjust, what happened. She was a fighter," said O'Neill, who picked up her sister's ashes Tuesday.

"She was extremely independent all her life."

O'Neill says her sister was also "a beautiful person" who loved life and her three parrots.

"She had an art project she was working on. She had plans to continue her education. She was an inspirational person," said O'Neill.

"I'm missing her, but I know she's got her toes back and is wiggling them in heaven."



Argentina joined Mexico last week in decriminalizing small amounts of drugs for personal use. The Argentinean government's cabinet chief, Anibal Fernandez, said this ends the "the repressive policy that the Nixon administration invented" in the U.S. and emulated by Argentina. Prohibition has not "reduced a single hectare of crops in any place in the world." The Mexican decriminalization laws force users into treatment after users are caught with drugs three times.

The Canadian Province newspaper responded with a column from Jon Ferry hailing the Mexican and Argentinean decrim, declaring, "Legalization [is] the only way to win drug war... [Cannabis] could be sold to adults under strict controls and with stern health warnings that would put it on much the same footing as tobacco" with an "enlightened and disciplined government approach."

Will legalizing lead to increases in crime? No, according to an op-ed by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition members Peter Moskos and Stanford Franklin in the Canadian Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper last week. "Without the drug war, America's most decimated neighbourhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn't look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and -- most important to us -- more police officers wouldn't have to die."


Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Matt Moffett

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina's Supreme Court largely decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana, part of a Latin American trend toward easing sanctions on personal drug use.

The unanimous ruling struck down a 1989 Argentine law that dictated prison sentences of up to two years for drug possession. The case overturns the convictions of five young men, swept up in a trafficking investigation, for possession of between one and three marijuana cigarettes each.

The Argentine ruling comes as many countries in the region are trying to shift their drug-enforcement focus to traffickers rather than consumers. Last week Mexico, which is in the midst of a battle with sophisticated drug gangs that has claimed thousands of lives, decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Brazil and Ecuador are among other Latin American countries that have moved in recent years to ease penalties against small-scale possession.


On Tuesday, the government's cabinet chief, Anibal Fernandez, hailed the Supreme Court for bringing to an end "the repressive policy that the Nixon administration invented" in the U.S. He said the military government that ruled Argentina in the 1970s and part of the 1980s had readily followed Washington's lead in establishing punitive policies that haven't "reduced a single hectare of crops in any place in the world."




Pubdate: Fri, 21 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging government-financed treatment for drug dependency free of charge.

The law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution; the law goes into effect on Friday.

Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory -- although no penalties for noncompliance are specified.

Mexican authorities said the change only recognized the longstanding practice here of not prosecuting people caught with small amounts of drugs.

The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for "personal use" under the new law is 5 grams -- the equivalent of about four marijuana cigarettes. Other limits are half a gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams of LSD.

President Felipe Calderon waited months before approving the law.



Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Jon Ferry, The Province

Attitude Shift With Mexico's Choice to Decriminalize Pot

The news last weekend that Mexico has moved quietly to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and other currently illegal drugs has clearly been a hit with Metro Vancouver drug users.

That's not so much because of the immediate impact the new law will have on Mexico's drug cartels, but because of what it says about U.S. President Barack Obama's longer-term approach towards the war on drugs and the possibility that "drug prohibition" is gradually lifting.

"Everybody in the movement is happy that it's happened," said Jeremiah Vandermeer, editor of Vancouver-based Cannabis Culture magazine, noting that small-scale decriminalization is far from outright legalization, but is a step in the right direction.

And it does signal an important change in attitude. As Christian Science Monitor reporter Sara Miller Llana points out, three years ago a similar Mexican initiative died amid a storm of controversy, with Mexico being portrayed as going to pot.


Marijuana, though, could be sold to adults under strict controls and with stern health warnings that would put it on much the same footing as tobacco.

Tobacco remains a legal drug. But because of mounting public concern about its harmful health effects and the public nuisance its drifting smoke causes, it's effectively been driven into the margins of society.

Let's hope that, with a similarly enlightened and disciplined government approach, marijuana and other currently illegal drugs can soon join it there.



Pubdate: Sun, 23 Aug 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Peter Moskos and Stanford Franklin


Many would continue prohibition, but some would try something new. California and its medical marijuana dispensaries provide a good working example, warts and all, that legalized drug distribution does not cause the sky to fall.

Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do -- for all of us, especially taxpayers.

While the financial benefits of drug legalization are not our main concern, they are substantial. In a July referendum, Oakland, Calif., voted to tax drug sales by a four-to-one margin. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.

Without the drug war, America's most decimated neighbourhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn't look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and -- most important to us -- more police officers wouldn't have to die.

Peter Moskos is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and the author of Cop in the Hood. Stanford Franklin is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Both served as Baltimore city police officers and are members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Fred Gardner, O'Shaughnessy's

New research shows here seems to be something in pot that actually undermines cancer, instead of causing it. -- and the media are doing their best to ignore it.


Century of Lies - 08/23/09 - Neill Franklin

Police officer Neill Franklin whose OpEd was in last weeks Wash Post discusses drug war with DTN listeners + Abolitionist's Moment

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 08/23/09 - Fred Gardner

Fred Gardner, editor of O'Shaughnessy's medical marijuana journal takes listener call ins + Nurse Ken Wolski re outrageous trial of medical marijuana patient with MS


The 32-year law enforcement veteran, a former commander in the Baltimore Police Department, has called for legalization and regulation of hard drugs.


Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance on the implications of a $1 possession fine.


by Charles Homans

Obama vowed to reverse Bush's hard-line drug policies, but Dubya still has a man raising havoc in the White House drug office. Problem is, Obama can't fire him.



Tide Turns In Favour Of Drug Reform - A DrugSense Focus Alert.



By M. Tony Anthony

Congressman Jim Marshall recently gave me the back of his hand, verbally, when I suggested we need to take another look at the War on Drugs, especially marijuana.

The War on Drugs is a massively expensive failure. Constitutional protections have been, and are being, trampled. Large numbers of our citizens are in prison for using a drug which is relatively innocuous, in comparison with many legal drugs with serious and sometimes lethal side effects. I wish I could believe he is a man of principle with only the best interests of the people at heart.

Rather, I think he is representing big pharma and the alcohol industry. We are bombarded 24/7 by drug pushers on TV. I don't believe the congressman is mentally challenged, so there must be another explanation for his rock solid stance of support for the War on Drugs. He cannot support his claim that it has a positive deterrent effect with anything other than opinions. In my opinion, this is just one more indication of the U.S. now having the best government money can buy.

Congress needs to support taking a clear-eyed look at how current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., has introduced a bill to do just that. There has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades.

The drug czar office's annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.

M. Tony Anthony Warner Robins Pubdate: Thu, 20 Aug 2009
Source: Macon Telegraph (GA)


New York City's Massive Marijuana Arrests  ( Top )

By Gabriel Sayegh

New York City remains the marijuana arrest capital of the world, according to an upcoming report by Queens College Professor Harry Levine. In 1993, there were only 900 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, while 40,000 people were arrested in 2008--mostly young Black and Latino men. Dr. Levine calls this a "marijuana arrest crusade." What's going on here?

Dr. Levine's new research builds on a report he co-authored last year, and shows that beginning in the early 1990s, under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the New York City Police Department dramatically increased arrests for possession of marijuana. Those arrests have continued--and in fact increased--under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, even though New York decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana decades ago.

The Rockefeller Drug Laws, enacted in 1973, initially included long, mandatory prison terms for drug offenses, including possessing small amounts of marijuana. But in 1977, at the behest of district attorneys and parent teacher organizations, the Legislature took the right step and removed marijuana from the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Why? Because many young white kids were being arrested for pot, and neither parents nor the DAs wanted them saddled with criminal records for an otherwise benign offense. New York thus became one of thirteen states to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana.

Thus personal possession of 25 grams or less is now legally akin to jaywalking or riding your bicycle on the sidewalk--an infraction, not a criminal offense. Possessing or using "marijuana in public view" remains a misdemeanor offense.

According to Dr. Levine, the vast majority of those arrested aren't smoking in public at all. Instead, the marijuana is uncovered as part of the NYPD's massive stop-and-frisk program, which overwhelmingly targets Black and Latino men. What happens, according to Dr Levine and the hundreds of arrestees and defense attorneys he has interviewed, is that the police tell someone to empty their pockets, and once that person pulls out a small amount of marijuana, they are thus charged with "marijuana in public view."

In this way, the NYPD has arrested tens of thousands of New Yorkers every year for possessing small amounts of marijuana. These arrests are expensive, costing nearly $90 million a year. And there are other costs: an arrest record can result in severe collateral consequences, like loss of employment, or the chance at a college scholarship. Spending the night in one of the City's overcrowded holding pens or in Riker's can itself be traumatic.

The most alarming component of these arrests, however, are the racial disparities. Nearly 90% of all those arrested for possession of marijuana are Black and Latino. Whites comprise 35% of the City population, but make up less than 10% of all those arrested for possession of marijuana. These disparities are not indicators of who uses marijuana--over 1/3 of all adults U.S. have tried marijuana, and anyone on a casual weekend stroll through the Upper West Side or Prospect Park will find a number of white people puffing away.

With the City primary elections just weeks away, one wonders where candidates for public office stand on this issue. Are mass arrests of young Black and Latino men for something the Legislature decriminalized in 1977 a prudent use of taxpayer dollars? If the arrests are thought to serve broader public safety goals, what are they? Are the arrests achieving them? Are massive racial disparities acceptable in service of such goals? Acceptable to whom? The candidates should be asked - and answer - these important questions.

Like President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg has admitted to smoking marijuana-- and even told reporters in his 2001 campaign that he "liked it." He's not alone--hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers regularly smoke marijuana, and millions more have tried it. So after decriminalization, why is New York City the marijuana capital of the world? Dr. Levine's research tries to answer that question, but it's our elected officials who should provide us with answers.

Gabriel Sayegh directs the State Organizing and Policy Project of the Drug Policy Alliance Network . This piece first appeared at Huffington Post -


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