This Just In
(1)Editorial: In Needle Vote, Facts Carry Day Over Ideology
(2)Editorial: Override Lynch's Med Marijuana Veto
(3)Russia Dazed In Heroin's Tracks
(4)Get-Out-Of-Jail Cards For Hamilton Pot Priests

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record Searchlight

Here's something you don't see every day: politicians, after studying the facts, changing their minds - and even admitting it. In public.

In reviewing the record of a nearly three-year experiment with a needle-exchange program for drug addicts and deciding whether to make it permanent, several of the Shasta County supervisors noted that they still have deep misgivings about the idea - but they voted for it. The program was extended by a 4-1 vote.

The qualms are understandable. On its face, the needle exchange amounts to helping heroin and methamphetamine abusers get a fix. Having a syringe without a prescription is against the law in California, so in a sense, the county is supplying illegal drug paraphernalia to junkies.

But that's not all it does. The needle exchange also collects used syringes. That way, the dirty, potentially disease-carrying needles are not discarded in parks where curious children can play with them. They're not tossed in the trash where janitors or solid-waste workers risk an accidental stick. They're not passed around - along with life-threatening viruses - among drug users.

The county program has a reasonable record of success over the past two and a half years. Figures presented Tuesday by Dr. Andrew Deckert, the county's health officer, show the number of shared needles is down and the number of users screened for HIV and hepatitis and referred to drug treatment is up. (There's not a great record of successful treatment, but that is the county's next target.)




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2009
Source: New Hampshire Business Review (NH)
Copyright: 2009 New Hampshire Business Review
Author: Burt Cohen

Unless you hid under a rock all summer, you know most Americans don't want government interference in their health care.

Democrats and Republicans may have their differences, but there is universal agreement that decisions regarding medical treatments must be exclusively between the doctor and patient. If a doctor and patient agree on a particular course of treatment, then the patient should be permitted to access that treatment, and neither the government nor insurance companies should have any business blocking this process. All agree?

Well, then, it's easy to understand why the vast majority of Granite Staters disagree with Governor Lynch's veto of the medical marijuana bill. The House and Senate agreed that government should not stand between doctors and seriously ill patients who could benefit from medical marijuana, and both chambers voted to pass House Bill 648 with solid margins of support, but that may not be enough to get these patients the protection and access they deserve.




Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times

Slammed by an Opiate Tsunami, the Nation Is Still Largely Naive About the Risks of Addiction. the Toll Has Been Devastating.

By Megan K. Stack, Reporting from Podolsk, Russia

The young man named Anton is a member of Russia's "lost generation."

He's the son of middle-class, college-educated engineers; he studied at a good university and became a truck sales manager in Moscow. He's also a 28-year-old heroin addict.

In the years since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan triggered a sharp increase in poppy cultivation, Russia has been flooded with heroin. The drug has crept along a trail stretching from Afghanistan through Tajikistan and other Central Asian nations and over the Russian border, turning this country into the world's top consumer of heroin, the government says.

The drug has spread like fire through a country uniquely unqualified to cope with its dangers: Narcotics were largely absent during Soviet times, and most people are still unaware of the risk of heroin addiction, even as an estimated 83 Russians a day die by overdosing on the drug, government figures show.

"It's a catastrophe for us. We were completely unprepared for this turn of events," says Evgeny Bryun, Moscow's chief drug addiction specialist. "We have our own lost generation."




Pubdate: Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Barbara Brown, Staff Writer

Trafficking Sentences Reduced By Court Of Appeals

Hamilton's high priests of pot won a partial reprieve yesterday in the Ontario Court of Appeal, which upheld their pot-trafficking convictions but reduced the stiff sentences handed them last year by a local judge.

Church of the Universe founders Walter Tucker, 76, and Michael Baldasaro, 59, had been out on bail pending appeal since late spring of 2008. The appeal court ordered them to surrender to the Barton Street jail at 3 p.m. yesterday before releasing its decision.

The hemp-hatted pair were convicted in November 2007 after selling small quantities of marijuana, which the church uses as sacrament, to an undercover police officer posing as a new member of the church.

Superior Court Justice John Cavarzan lowered the boom on the unrepentant duo at their sentence hearing the following May. He gave Baldasaro, who had 12 prior trafficking convictions, two years in a federal penitentiary on two counts of trafficking 2.5 grams of pot worth about $30. Tucker, whose criminal record dated back 30 years, was sentenced to 12 months in a provincial reformatory on three counts of trafficking involving about $40 worth of pot.

Cavarzan also ordered the church headquarters on Barton Street East, along with $2,100 in cash seized from Tucker, forfeited to the Crown as "offence related property" under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The appeal court, including Justices Michael Moldaver, Kathryn Feldman and Susan Lang, dismissed their appeals against conviction, but allowed both men's appeals on sentence. The court substituted Baldasaro's two-year prison term with a five-month jail sentence and reduced Tucker's 12-month jail sentence to three months.





In Texas, some officials near the Mexican border say the problem of violence spill-over from Mexico isn't as big a problem as some officials stationed further from the border insist. Yet, an official from the Mexican side of the border came to the U.S. last week to remind citizens that U.S. drug policies are the root of the horrible violence in his country.

Elsewhere, another upbeat story in the prospects for drug reform, but one expert notes that the mainstream media is still missing crucial stories that would be helpful to cannabis reform.


Pubdate: Sat, 19 Sep 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Ana Campoy

Many local officials on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande are panning Texas Gov. Rick Perry's latest initiative to stem illegal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border, complaining that the governor is wrongly painting their region as a lawless no man's land.

Last week, Mr. Perry said he is sending special teams of Texas Rangers to the border because of "the federal government's ongoing failure to adequately secure our international border." The Rangers, a state force that dates back to the 19th century, will focus on remote areas where smugglers are overrunning ranches and farms, the Republican governor said.

But views on the level of crime along the border vary, and in the mostly Democratic communities the Rangers are supposed to be helping, their arrival hasn't been cheered. For example, Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada, a Democrat, blasted the deployment as "an extremist and alarmist reaction to incidents that are happening in Mexico" and "the wrong signal to send to the nation and the world."

Mexico's northern border has been plagued with violence over past months as President Felipe Calderon tries to uproot powerful drug cartels. As the murder count mounts, American officials are becoming increasingly worried that the violence will spill into the U.S.

The Texas Border Coalition, a group of border mayors and county executives, told the governor in a letter that "while each of our communities has their own unique issues, being overwhelmed by criminal elements from Mexico is not one of them."




Pubdate: Tue, 22 Sep 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Ramon Bracamontes, El Paso Times

UTEP Drug Conference

EL PASO -- Now it is the United States' turn to battle the drug cartels that have paralyzed Mexico for 20 months, Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said Monday at a War on Drugs conference.

He said U.S. policies of the past 40 years had done nothing to lessen the demand for marijuana, cocaine and heroin in America.

"The policy in Mexico is to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, and that has caused a lot of people to be killed," Reyes said of the 3,200 homicides in Juarez since January 2008. "From politicians to innocent people to police officers, they have all died trying to stop the flow of drugs into the United States."

Others, though, say most of the deaths in Juarez involved warring drug dealers and their couriers.

Reyes, who appeared at UTEP for the Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs, said U.S. authorities and citizens had sent inconsistent messages about illegal drug use.




Pubdate: Sat, 19 Sep 2009
Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT)
Copyright: 2009 The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Author: Daniel Person, Chronicle Staff Writer

A leading advocate for an overhaul of America's drug policy said he is seeing major shifts in how politicians are viewing illegal substances.

"This is the first time I feel like I have the wind at my back and not in my face," said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance and a man Rolling Stone Magazine called the national "point man" for the movement to end the drug war.

Nadelmann is in Bozeman to speak at two events today, including "Cannabis at the Capitol Comes to Bozeman," an event put on by medical marijuana support group Patients and Families United.

Nadelmann said the most dramatic shifts in policy are occurring on the state level, with many state governments n run by a generation more familiar with illegal drugs and facing major budget woes n rethinking their drug policy.




Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Media Institute
Author: Paul Armentano

Writing in the journal Science nearly four decades ago, New York State University sociologist Erich Goode documented the media's complicity in maintaining cannabis prohibition.

He observed: "[T]ests and experiments purporting to demonstrate the ravages of marijuana consumption receive enormous attention from the media, and their findings become accepted as fact by the public. But when careful refutations of such research are published, or when later findings contradict the original pathological findings, they tend to be ignored or dismissed."

A glimpse of today's mainstream media landscape indicates that little has changed -- with news outlets continuing to, at best, underreport the publication of scientific studies that undermine the federal government's longstanding pot propaganda and, at worst, ignore them all together.

Here are five recent stories the mainstream media doesn't want you to know about pot:

1. Marijuana Use Is Not Associated With a Rise in Incidences of Schizophrenia




The woman who was with a Georgia minister before he was killed by drug agents said the minister was only trying to help her out of a bad situation. In New York, the idea that District Attorneys need to be tougher than smart is being challenged. In Arizona, border violence spill-over does seem to be a problem. And, some Hawaiian police learn that what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay there.


Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: Hartwell Sun, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Hartwell Sun
Authors: Rob Moore and Donald Fraser, The Northeast Georgian

The woman who was in the Rev. Jonathan Ayers' car moments before he was shot by undercover drug agents in Toccoa on Sept. 1 is refuting reports that Ayers was involved in illegal activities.

"I'm an addict," 26-year-old Kayla Barrett admitted Sept. 15, saying that Ayers was ministering to her on the day of his death.

"I've known him awhile - about six or seven years," she said, calling him "a pastor and a friend."

She said that, over time, Ayers had been lecturing her and trying to get her to straighten out her life and to get off drugs.

"I've been doing drugs for nine years," Barrett said, noting that she is addicted to cocaine - "crack, basically."

"He told me I was too young to be living like I was living," she said. "He didn't want me to waste my life."

Barrett said Ayers saw her walking from the Exxon station across from the Shell station (where he eventually was shot) back toward Relax Inn, where she and her fiance were staying.

Since she had experienced a miscarriage 11 days prior and she visibly was having difficulty walking, Barrett said Ayers offered her a ride back to the motel.

"I was in his car for probably about five to seven minutes - and it was probably 20-30 minutes before he got shot," Barrett said.




Pubdate: Mon, 21 Sep 2009
Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 HuffingtonPost com, Inc.
Author: Anthony Papa

On Sep. 15, Cy Vance Jr. overwhelmingly beat Leslie Crocker Snyder in the race to be Manhattan's next district attorney. Since there is no Republican challenger, Vance will be voted into office in November.

Snyder, who built her career as a ruthless prosecutor and judge, was beaten so bad that the Village Voice quoted her on election night saying that she was retiring from politics and going to China. In my view, Snyder lost because of her over-reliance on a misguided tough-on-crime approach, and because of her inability to balance her decisions with common sense and compassion.

In the past Snyder portrayed herself as a John Wayne type of crusader of justice who kicked butt and took no names. Yes, I know she says she only aimed the barrels of her gun at the bad apples of society. But the main problem with that was she could not tell the difference between apples and oranges.

In her run for Manhattan District Attorney Snyder completely revamped her image and attempted to portray herself as a progressive thinker. She suddenly flipped her position on issues like the death penalty and the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Not long ago she was such a strong supporter of the death penalty that she said she would insert the needle herself to deliver the death sentence. She also suddenly claimed to be a leader in the epic struggle to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Her record as a judge told a different story, sentencing low level offenders to tremendous amounts of time for drug convictions.




Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2009 The Arizona Republic
Author: J. J. Hensley, Staff Writer

They started slowly, infiltrating the vast Phoenix drug market with a team of all-stars, handpicked from around the nation.

The federal agents came to Phoenix prepared to take on the rising tide of drug-related violence, where armed criminals are ready to kick in doors, rob armed drug-runners and shoot anyone who gets in the way.

Their plan: Go undercover, lure in the violent crooks by soliciting them to rob drug dealers, then take them down.

In the end, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents arrested 70 people, seized about $39,000 and took dozens of guns and other weapons off the street, authorities said Tuesday.

The arrests were only a dent in the problem, they said. What surprised them most was the number of people they found ready to join complete strangers for robbery and murder in Phoenix's drug underworld.

"This proved what we know to be true," said Dennis Burke, the new U.S. attorney in the District of Arizona. "When drugs and distribution of drugs are in our neighborhoods, violent armed criminals follow behind them."

The team of about a dozen special agents came because the spike in drug-related crime was becoming evident to law enforcement months before Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon told Congress about the home-invasion crisis in the Valley. By the time Gordon was telling a congressional committee in March about the estimated 366 abductions in Phoenix last year, the ATF was already preparing to send a team of experienced undercover agents to confront the roving strong-arm robbery crews targeting drug-stash houses in the area.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Sep 2009
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2009 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Details: Authors: Star-Bulletin staff

The Honolulu Police Department has placed two officers on administrative leave following charges of marijuana possession in Las Vegas last month.

HPD is conducting an investigation of officer Kevin Fujioka, 37, a patrol officer assigned to the Pearl City district who has worked with the department for 13 years, and of officer Shayne Souza, 47, a SWAT officer who has been with the department for 20 years.

Meanwhile, the officers are tentatively scheduled to appear in Clark County District Court on Oct. 15 and Nov. 18.

On Aug. 15, Clark County police approached the men, who were in a white van parked across two stalls in a parking lot. The van fled, and a short pursuit occurred when Fujioka and Souza exited the vehicle and ran. Police subdued Souza with pepper spray after he resisted arrest.

Both officers and Scott Wilson, a 38-year-old social worker from Honolulu, were charged with marijuana possession. Fujioka was also charged with driving under the influence of a narcotic, and Souza was also charged with drug paraphernalia possession.




Medicinal cannabis advocates in California and increasingly turning to the courts to combat local attempts to ban or impose moratoriums on cannabis dispensaries.

The 20th Annual Boston Freedom Rally was especially sweet this year as attendees celebrated the decriminalization of an ounce or less of cannabis in Massachusetts.

Former seed merchant Marc Emery is preparing to surrender himself to U.S. authorities on Monday, transferring ownership of his Canadian businesses to his wife, lawyer and accountant.


Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel

Medical Marijuana Collectives' Suit Comes As the City Struggles to Write a New Ordinance.

A newly formed association of Los Angeles medical marijuana collectives has challenged the city's efforts to control dispensaries, claiming in a lawsuit that the 2-year-old moratorium is unconstitutionally vague and that the City Council violated state law when it extended the ban until mid-March.

The lawsuit, filed late Monday, is the first to take aim at the city's attempts to halt the explosive growth in dispensaries. It comes as the City Council's Planning Committee continued Tuesday to struggle with a permanent ordinance to replace the moratorium.

Representatives from the city attorney's office, the district attorney's office and the Police Department reiterated to the committee their contention that over-the-counter sales of medical marijuana are illegal under state law.

Most of the hundreds of dispensaries in Los Angeles currently sell marijuana that way.

At the same time, Councilman Dennis Zine and other council members repeated their insistence that any ordinance that did not allow for marijuana sales would be unworkable, as did many medical marijuana advocates at the committee hearing.

The lawsuit, filed by the Los Angeles Collective Assn. and the Green Oasis dispensary, charges that the moratorium is "unreasonable, discriminatory and overly broad."




Pubdate: Mon, 21 Sep 2009
Source: North County Times (Escondido, CA)
Copyright: 2009 North County Times
Author: Edward Sifuentes

Medicinal Pot Advocates Say They Fear County Could Ban Dispensaries

If the city of Anaheim successfully defends its ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in court, will San Diego County follow suit?

That's what some medical marijuana activists say they fear and what some critics of the dispensaries say they hope will happen.

In 2006, the Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit to overturn the state's 1996 medical marijuana law. The supervisors unsuccessfully challenged the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear an appeal in May.

On Wednesday, the supervisors extended a temporary ban on dispensaries through August 2010. Some medical marijuana foes called for an outright ban on the establishments, which they say promote teen drug use and attract crime into neighborhoods.

The Anaheim case, which will be heard by the Fourth District Court of Appeal on Wednesday, has attracted widespread attention among medical marijuana activists and local governments. If the court upholds the ban, it may encourage other cities and counties to ban dispensaries, medical marijuana activists say.

"I certainly think it's a bellwether case," said Joe Elford, an attorney with the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.




Pubdate: Sun, 20 Sep 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Michael Corcoran, Globe Correspondent

First Rally Held Since Possession Decriminalized

There was not a cloud in the sky over the Boston Common yesterday during the 20th annual Boston Freedom Rally, but there was plenty of smoke.

It was the first time the pro-marijuana rally organized by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition had been held since the November election, when voters passed Proposition 2. The ballot initiative made possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil offense rather than a crime.

The changed law gave the large crowds in attendance yesterday a new reason to celebrate and one less reason to get arrested - an outcome that organizers said is a welcome change. The event has caused controversy over the years because of many arrests and battles with the city over permit issues. This year, as in the past, many people smoked marijuana openly as an act of civil disobedience.

"After years of helplessly watching Boston Police bag harmless stoners, it will be a joy to see people enjoying themselves without the threat or fear of arrest," said Keith Saunders, president of the reform coalition, on the rally's website.

"This is a victory party," said Bill Bones, a long-time board member for the coalition, also known as MassCann. "We got 65 percent to come out and vote for freedom. Too many people make mistakes when they are young, and then get slapped with a criminal record. Well they are not criminals, and we are celebrating this today."




Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Metro Canada
Author: Jeff Hodson, Staff Writer

Canada's Prince of Pot is handing his crown to his princess.

Pot activist Marc Emery told a Vancouver business licence hearing yesterday that he was transferring control of his Cannabis Culture Headquarters to his wife, Jodie Emery.

"She is an exemplary person and she'll be an excellent business person," said Marc Emery, who was at city hall for a third day to appeal the city's rejection of his business licence renewal.

Emery is surrendering himself to authorities on Monday for extradition to the U.S., where he will plead guilty to selling marijuana seeds through mail.

Emery withdrew the business licence application yesterday in order to transfer directorship of the company, Avalon Sunsplash, to his wife, his accountant and his lawyer. The new directors could then petition for the renewal of the business licence.

Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs said the city had seven points of concern with Emery's appeal. The main one is that it is illegal for someone to run a business after they have been criminally convicted in connection with that business, he added.

"Much of city staff's concern focused on a conviction that he has for possession in Saskatchewan a few years ago," Meggs said.



A bloody cartel "rivalry" in Mexico has spilled over into drug rehab clinics, of all places. A clinic in Ciudad Juarez was attacked last week, killing doctors and patients alike. "This was the sixth drug treatment center attacked in Ciudad Juarez in the last 13 months... Officials have said that some clinics are really just fronts for drug dealers."

From the Los Angeles Times this week we learn that U.S Government efforts in Colombia are 'paying off' - according to upbeat U.S. officials. Why? It's all due to government, of course. U.S government programs "backed by USAID, the U.S. State Department's development agency," that's why. The paper (relaying the words of "officials") hailed recent cash and cocaine seizures as milestones of prohibitionist control, thanks of course to "U.S. law enforcement and foreign aid agencies, which have provided technical, intelligence and economic support" (with funds happily provided by cash-rich U.S. taxpayers).

Sadly, another mainstream U.S. newspaper (the Wall Street Journal) reports Peru is 'battling' cocaine even as U.S. officials congratulate one another over their victory in Colombia. The solution? More government, sing officials and authorities. "The most important thing," proclaimed Peru's Foreign Minister, "is to give narcotics trafficking a priority in Peru's foreign affairs and to increase cooperation." Translation: give us more (U.S. taxpayer) money. The Wall Street Journal concurs; that "government's paltry antidrug budget" is the issue. The Journal did let slip, however, that in Peru "coca production is legal... Possession of small amounts of cocaine, and other drugs for personal use, is legal" there, too.

And from Australia this week, a request government allow doctors to prescribe heroin to hard core heroin addicts. The plea, made by Dr. Alex Wodak, director of alcohol and drug services at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, follows a similar heroin program in Germany which "legalised the prescription of heroin in May, following a trial that found it reduced crime, blood-borne viruses and overdose fatalities in major cities over four years."


Pubdate: Thu, 17 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinson, Reporting from Mexico City

Two Doctors and Eight Clients Are Shot to Death at a Rehab Facility in Ciudad Juarez.

In the second mass slaying at a Mexican rehab clinic in less than two weeks, gunmen burst into the Life Annex addiction treatment center in the volatile border city of Ciudad Juarez and killed at least 10 people -- patients and therapists alike.

The gunmen escaped, and authorities on Wednesday blamed the Tuesday night shooting on a "war of extermination" among drug traffickers. Rehabilitation clinics are often targeted as Mexican drug gangs hunt rivals or attempt to settle old scores.


This was the sixth drug treatment center attacked in Ciudad Juarez in the last 13 months. The deadliest assault occurred Sept. 2, when 18 people were lined up against a clinic wall and cut down by automatic weapon fire.

In the wake of Tuesday's slayings, security officials ordered 10 Ciudad Juarez drug treatment centers closed, citing irregularities in their permits and a lack of security measures. Officials have said that some clinics are really just fronts for drug dealers.

"This is to prevent occurrence of another such act," said Victor Valencia, chief of security for Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.




Pubdate: Mon, 21 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Kraul, Reporting from Buenaventura, Colombia


And to offer more options to residents, the government boosted spending on development and infrastructure. One effort involves moving poor residents from seaside shacks in crime-ridden areas into 3,000 new housing units. The programs are partially backed by USAID, the U.S. State Department's development agency.


Officials say the seizure Tuesday of hundred-dollar bills hidden in bulk chemicals used to manufacture detergent was the latest sign that Colombia's effort to retake control of this once hyper-violent city is meeting with some success.


The recoveries point to effective information-sharing among Colombian, Mexican and U.S. counter-narcotics agencies. They also indicate a rupture in the inner sanctum of Colombian and Mexican drug cartels for whom the Buenaventura-Manzanillo shipping route has been a key corridor for the last decade.


Helping in the push has been U.S. law enforcement and foreign aid agencies, which have provided technical, intelligence and economic support.

The catalyst, said Jay Bergman, the Andean regional director for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was the November 2007 seizure in Mexico of 23 tons of cocaine, which transformed spiraling lawlessness in Buenaventura into "an international matter."

"The Colombian and U.S. governments see this as a test case for what better security and economic development can do for the Pacific coast of Colombia," he said. "If we succeed, it bodes well for Colombia's security initiative. If we fail, conversely, it's a harbinger of an immeasurable challenge."


Urban development works include a mile-long seafront to attract tourists. Among USAID projects are farm cooperatives to grow bananas and other projects that combined have created at least 2,100 local jobs. Education programs are being aimed at reducing the high rate of illiteracy.


Still, an official in Colombia's armed forces, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, insisted the recent busts have "cracked the facade of the narco's untouchability."

"The narcos are finally getting the idea that we aren't going to allow what went on before with impunity," the official said.




Pubdate: Tue, 22 Sep 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

LIMA, Peru--Surging cocaine production is rattling Peru after years of relative calm, raising fears that the associated increase in violence and corruption could derail one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.


A Peruvian antidrug agency called Devida has sought to carry out specific measures to fight drug use. But an official said central government funding promised for 2009 of some $50 million for the program hasn't been disbursed. [Shifting Sources]

The amount is a pittance compared with the estimated $20 billion annually that Peruvian cocaine fetches abroad.

Peru's Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said he will present to the United Nations this month a proposal to increase international aid for nations fighting against drug trafficking. "The most important thing is to give narcotics trafficking a priority in Peru's foreign affairs and to increase cooperation," he said.

Many observers are skeptical. "There's no political will," said Jaime Antezana, who has researched Peru's coca-leaf and cocaine production for 14 years. He said the government's paltry antidrug budget is concentrated in the coca-growing Apurimac-Ene River Valley, ignoring that cocaine is being produced around the country. "Drug-trafficking is a nationwide problem," he said.


"Peru must guard against a return to the days when terrorists and insurgents, like the Shining Path, profited from drugs and crime," said the U.N. agency's director, Antonio Maria Costa.

Complicating matters is that coca production is legal in Peru, where the coca leaf has been consumed for centuries. Experts note, however, that only a tenth of the coca leaf produced is used domestically, with the rest being transformed into cocaine. Possession of small amounts of cocaine, and other drugs for personal use, is legal in Peru.



Pubdate: Tue, 22 Sep 2009
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Julia Medew

Australian doctors should be allowed to prescribe heroin to long-term addicts to prevent fatal overdoses, crime and the spread of blood-borne viruses, leading addiction specialists say.

Dr Alex Wodak, director of the alcohol and drug service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, called for Canberra to investigate whether long-term addicts who fail rehabilitation programs should be given a last-resort option of receiving the drug on prescription.


He said although Australia had experienced heroin shortages over the past decade, it was still one of the most damaging drugs, with about 400 deaths a year. "This is close to the number of Australians who died during the Vietnam War. It's a lot of young lives to lose every year and shrug your shoulders at."

Professor Jon Currie, director of addiction medicine at St Vincent's Health in Melbourne, supported the call, saying overseas research showed heroin prescription stabilised long-term problem users, improving their chances of recovery. "It's a bit like insulin for diabetics," he said.

The call comes after Germany legalised the prescription of heroin in May, following a trial that found it reduced crime, blood-borne viruses and overdose fatalities in major cities over four years.

The country's new laws allow people over 23, who have used heroin for more than five years and failed in rehabilitation, to receive the drug in specialised centres.

Switzerland also introduced similar laws last year.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Century of Lies - 09/20/09 - William Martin

Professor William Martin, James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies with new column in Texas Monthly "Texas High" + Alison Myrden of Canada with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 09/20/09 - Lew Rockwell

Lew Rockwell presentation "Never Talk to the Police" + Corrupt Cop story with Phil Smith


Appellate court ruling protects collective cultivation and affirms civil actions by patients




How patented marijuana strains and medicines may threaten the re- legalization movement, curb information sharing, set up a monopoly for certain breeders and medicine producers and limit users to a more expensive and inferior product.

By Lester Grinspoon and David Malmo-Levine


by Bruce Mirken

At a Las Vegas news conference today, the Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada announced details of a $10,000 challenge to the people of Nevada. MPP-NV will pay $10,000 to anyone who can disprove three statements of fact that demonstrate that marijuana is objectively and unquestionably safer than alcohol.


Reason TV - How the drug war punishes pain patients


This month we have seen a plethora or articles in UK newspapers calling for an end to prohibition. There have been so many we thought we'd bring you the best of them in one blog.


By Scott Morgan

Police in Texas just made a remarkable discovery that could potentially turn the domestic marijuana industry upside down. Although a recent drug raid only turned up a single marijuana plant, officers determined that it is the most valuable marijuana ever reported. According to Sheriff Thomas Kerss, this type of marijuana has a "street value" of $6,000 per ounce!



By Mason Tvert

Next week, Canadian political activist, publisher and businessman Marc Emery - known by many as the "Prince of Pot" -- will be extradited to the United States, where he will likely be sentenced to five years in federal prison. His crime? Selling marijuana seeds.



Regarding the news articles RCMP seize over 1,800 marijuana plants, published in the Sept. 2 issue of the Victoria Star I would like to ask what difference did this bust make? The answer is none.

The recent outdoor marijuana "eradication" efforts by police are glaring examples of the futility of prohibition. Law enforcement efforts are not "stemming the tide" or "taking a bite out" of drugs, nor will they ever do so. It is all just an expensive show at taxpayer expense to give the public the illusion that something is being accomplished.

Why aren't journalists asking important questions, like: 1) Is there evidence that these eradication efforts actually reduce the availability of marijuana on the street? (the police say that is their goal) 2) What percentage of the outdoor crops are police able to destroy? 3) How much do these annual eradication efforts cost? (diverted police resources, overtime pay, helicopter use and fuel) Taxpayers have a right to know the answers to these questions.

This futile and expensive ritual will continue, year after year, until we finally come to our senses and end cannabis prohibition. Every major study on the cannabis issue has come to the same key conclusion as the 2002 Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs: "The continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself." (Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy, 2002 - )

Every day that we delay the end of this corrupting, harmful policy the deeper the tentacles of organized crime infiltrate into our communities! Ending cannabis prohibition is definitely in Canada's best interest.

Herb Couch,

Nelson, B.C.

Pubdate: Wed, 16 Sep 2009
Source: Victoria Star, The (CN NK)



By Alex Wodak

In October 1987, while travelling overseas to learn about HIV and injecting drug use, I spent an evening in a "shooting gallery" in Brooklyn, New York City. I watched for hours as four Hispanic men and women injected "speedballs" of heroin mixed with cocaine. It was a life-changing experience. We were in the basement of a dilapidated, abandoned tenement building. There was no electricity. Cars parked in the street were propped up on bricks with smashed windscreens. This was urban squalor unimaginable in Australia.

Carrying injecting equipment in the streets was far too risky, especially for minorities. Renting a "shooting gallery" for a few hours reduced the risk of being bothered by the police. Needles and syringes were supplied, but the catch was they had already been used by many other people.

I watched as the four injected with little regard for hygiene. Thinking of comparable situations in Australia, I wondered why these American injectors had such little concern for their future. Then I realised that a decent education, proper housing or a reasonable job would have been impossible dreams. Hope for a better life for their children or grandchildren? Forget it. By contrast, the revolving door of prison would have been an all too familiar reality. That was when I first became interested in inequality and illicit drug use.

Inequality has been a constant theme in illicit drugs. Australia's first laws on drugs in the late 19th century banned the smoking of opium in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. The only opium smokers then were the Chinese working in the goldfields.

American missionaries in the 19th century witnessed the appalling misery resulting from the British forcing opium on to the Chinese. China tried to stop the then more powerful British but lost both opium wars. The experience helped prompt the U.S. to convene the International Opium Commission in Shanghai in 1909, setting the scene for global drug prohibition.

Sixty years later, then U.S. president Richard Nixon declared a war against drugs. As Nixon aide John Ehrlichman said: "Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalise their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue for the Nixon White House that we couldn't resist it."

Effective political strategy turned out to be a public policy disaster. While politicians in many countries competed to have the toughest policies, drug production and consumption soared and deaths, disease, crime and corruption steadily increased. The six deaths from drug overdose in Australia in 1964 rose to more than 1100 in 1999.

Multiple scientific studies suggest that prescribing heroin to the most severely dependent heroin injectors, who have not benefited from all other treatments and punishments, has real benefits for the individuals and the community.

In 1997, a large Swiss study concluded that for this minority of entrenched heroin users who had never benefited from repeated episodes of diverse treatments or prison, giving them heroin as part of their treatment provided huge benefits, with few side effects. Their physical and mental health improved considerably. Consumption of street drugs decreased. Crime, measured three different ways, decreased substantially. The treatment was much more expensive than the standard methadone treatment, but for every Swiss franc the program cost, there were gains of two Swiss francs.

Rigorous scientific studies were then also conducted in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Canada. All showed similar results. All were published in reputable journals. This month, the results of a British study were released. Again, the results were similar to the previous studies. In each, heroin was self-administered under stringent supervision. Abundant, high-quality psychological and social support was provided.

After a decade of heroin-assisted treatment in Switzerland, the treatment is still only provided to a steady 5 per cent of those seeking help.

This small minority of severely dependent drug users is so important because they account for a disproportionate share of the drug-related crime.

In a national referendum last year in Switzerland, 68 per cent supported retaining heroin-assisted treatment as a last resort. The Netherlands now also provides the treatment. Earlier this year, 63 per cent of members of the German parliament voted to allow heroin-assisted treatment. All major political parties in Denmark recently supported the treatment.

Australian researchers in the 1990s investigated heroin-assisted treatment for more than five years. In July 1997, health and police ministers voted six to three to support a trial but prime minister John Howard aborted the process, arguing that it would "send the wrong message".

Twelve years later, the message from the scientific evidence is clear: if we want to help drug users, their families and communities, then prescribing heroin should be part of the package we provide.

But we should also try to reduce the extent of inequality in our community. There is increasing evidence that more unequal communities have worse public health outcomes, with higher rates of illicit drug use, mental illness, obesity and crime. At a time when our taxation system is under review, reducing inequality is the debate that Australia has to have.

We don't need a debate about heroin-assisted treatment. We should be providing this now to the small minority with very severe problems who have not benefited from repeated episodes of other treatments.

Alex Wodak is director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. He is speaking at the "Drugs in Hard Times" conference on October 1 in Melbourne.

Pubdate: Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Age Company Ltd


"No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power." - P.J. O'Rourke

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