This Just In
(1)City Could Act On Medical Pot In Nov.
(2)U.S. Targets Cartel And Its Toxic Reach
(3)Report Shows Afghan Drugs Reach Deep In West
(4)Rebagliati Hopes To Take A Run At Stockwell Day

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


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

A Proposal to Ban All Sales of Medicinal Marijuana Unlikely to Be Taken Up Next Week.

The Los Angeles City Council moved Thursday to consider a controversial medical marijuana ordinance in early November, as a poll released by a national organization that supports marijuana legalization found that more than three-quarters of voters in the county want dispensaries regulated, not prosecuted and closed.

The council action comes after a Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the city's moratorium on dispensaries had been illegally extended. With the city unable to enforce it, Councilman Greig Smith decided Thursday not to hold a hearing on the proposed ordinance in the Public Safety Committee, but to send it straight to the council.

Council President Eric Garcetti's office indicated it will not come up next week but might the week after.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 Oct 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Josh Meyer, Reporting from Washington

Mexico Under Siege

300 Suspects Are Held in Nationwide Raids on La Familia, a Brutal and Fast-Growing Drug Gang From Mexico.

Drug agents swept through Los Angeles and dozens of other locations Wednesday and Thursday, arresting more than 300 people and seizing large quantities of drugs, weapons and money in the biggest U.S. crackdown against a Mexican drug cartel.

The months-long offensive, the fruit of dozens of federal investigations over the last 3 1/2 years, will put a significant dent in the U.S. operations of La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico's fastest-growing and deadliest cartels, authorities said.

"The sheer level and depravity of violence that this cartel has exhibited far exceeds what we unfortunately have become accustomed to from other cartels, [and] the toxic reach of its operations extends to nearly every state within our own country," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said at a news conference in Washington to announce the arrests.

The investigation has involved hundreds of agents and analysts from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as prosecutors and other officials from the Justice Department.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 Oct 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Neil MacFarquhar

UNITED NATIONS -- The Afghan opium harvest is feeding a $65 billion global trade in heroin each year, which now kills many more people in NATO countries in a year than the number of NATO soldiers who have died on the battlefield in Afghanistan since 2001, Antonio Maria Costa, the senior United Nations official on drugs and crime, said Thursday.

"If we do not address this, it will be hard to solve all the other problems in Afghanistan," Mr. Costa said, adding that the lucrative nature of the heroin trade is creating a "narco-cartel" in Afghanistan that includes corrupt government and security officials.

It is easier to try to uproot the heroin trade at its source, where opium is grown, than its destination, he said, particularly because heroin trafficking is disrupted less effectively in affluent Western countries, despite their financial and police resources.




Pubdate: Fri, 23 Oct 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Richard J. Dalton Jr., Vancouver Sun

Canadian snowboarder and Olympic gold medallist Ross Rebagliati plans to beat a new opponent: Stockwell Day.

Rebagliati will seek the Liberal nomination on Monday in the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding. If he wins the nomination, he will face the Conservative's international trade minister.

No one else is seeking the Liberal nomination. "It was going to be an election without an option, basically," Rebagliati said in an interview. "I felt like there needed to be a choice for the constituents."

Rebagliati, a Kelowna resident, said the Liberal party approached him about running for the seat.

The snowboarding champ won the gold medal in 1998 but lost it briefly because tests showed high levels of THC from marijuana; he regained the medal on appeal because he said the THC came from second-hand pot smoke.





Some smart students at a Colorado university challenged the intentions of a local health fair, after the fair declined to include a comparison of the relative dangers of between alcohol and cannabis. Hope to see more challenges like this.

In Hawaii, a controversial section of the last teacher's contract with state schools would have permitted random drug testing of teachers. A new set of legal questions means the policy may still not be implemented before the contract expires. Also in Hawaii, a drug testing company inadvertently shows why it really doesn't need to exist; and a newspaper in Canada takes a closer look at a police press release and finds some surprises. Hope to see more of this as well.


Pubdate: Tue, 20 Oct 2009
Source: Gazette, The (Colorado Springs, CO)
Copyright: 2009 The Gazette
Author: Debbie Kelley

Booze or pot?

For a group of about 50 students at Tuesday's "healthy choices fair" at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the choice is clear: Pot is the lesser of two evils.

The UCCS chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy protested the annual fair because members claimed school officials refused to make available their information about "the relative harm" of marijuana versus alcohol and instead promoted "responsible alcohol use" at the event.

"I've seen how college students like to have fun, and every study proves cannabis is far better for you than alcohol. We'd like to educate students on this safer way of partying," said senior Stephanie Morphet, president of the student group, which formed this semester.

Joining the protest at the group's invitation was Mason Tvert of Denver, co-founder of the nationwide Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, and co-author of the newly released book, "Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?"




Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Michael Tsai, Staff Writer

With Furlough Fridays starting this week, the ongoing battle over random drug testing for Hawaii public school teachers remains effectively deferred, both in spirit and the letter of the freshly ratified Hawaii State Teachers Association contract with the state.

The current agreement does allow for drug and alcohol testing based on "reasonable suspicion," but says that random testing could only begin when and if it is ruled "constitutionally permissible" by the courts.

According to a memorandum of understanding between the state and HSTA, the random testing, if deemed permissible, would need to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation rules on drug and alcohol testing and/or state Department of Health rules on substance-abuse testing.

Given the length of time it could take for the courts to issue a final ruling and for testing procedures to be established, it is possible, even likely, that random testing will not begin before the contract expires in 2011.




Pubdate: Tue, 20 Oct 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser

The number of workers and job candidates testing positive for use of opiates and prescription drugs with opiates fell significantly over the past year, according to the latest data from Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., the state's largest locally owned drug testing company.

Diagnostic's third-quarter test results show the number of people using either legal or illegal opiate drugs fell to under 0.25 percent from more than 0.5 percent a year ago.

Carl Linden, Diagnostic Laboratories scientific director, said he was unsure why opiate use had declined over the past year, but that it followed an increase in usage of opiates over the past several years.




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 2009
Source: Oshawa This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Oshawa This Week
Author: Mike Johnston

It's not often a press release comes in from the Durham Regional Police Service which leaves us in the newsroom scratching our heads.

But a release last Friday had us doing just that and asking ourselves if it was a mistake.

The release dealt with charges against the owners of an Oshawa convenience store charged with possession of a controlled substance. The release also stated the couple was "allegedly selling illegal drugs over the counter."

The release went on to say officers located a candy bucket containing individually wrapped plastic bags of oxycodon tablets and other illegal drugs. It didn't provide names of the accused or the name of the store but added it was located on Ritson Road in Oshawa near a local public school.

A release like this required more than just a quick rewrite for the paper so crime reporter Jeff Mitchell quickly threw on his coat and headed over to the store, which wasn't hard to find. The owners, who refused to give their names, were shocked at the details provided by police but admitted there was a bag of marijuana and other drugs at the back of the store. They also noted they had not been held for a bail hearing and were allowed to leave the police station that night. The store was open for business at 9 p.m. the same day they had been charged.

When contacted for comment, a police spokeswoman admitted there was no "concrete evidence" drugs had been sold at the store and the couple were never charged with trafficking.




Budget cuts may be leading to new thinking on cannabis in California, but the cuts will likely hurt some programs that have been helping drug users who want to change.

In Iowa, a story about the value of mercy. And, more horrors from Mexico, where everyone from police investigators to average women have something to worry about thanks to the drug war.


Pubdate: Sat, 17 Oct 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Michael Rothfeld, Reporting from Sacramento

The California Fix

State Eliminates 40% of Funding for Rehab Programs Aimed at Helping Prisoners Succeed After Release.

Gina Tatum spends her days in a compound surrounded by electrified fence in the sun-baked heart of the Central Valley, hoping to change her life.

She will soon turn 50, and after two decades in and out of prison, she says she is tired of victimizing others, tired of stealing, tired of doing drugs.

"I can't afford any more years up here -- I've lost too many," said Tatum, who is serving a four-year stint for forgery at the Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla. "I'm trying to learn things to change my thinking, change everything about me, so I can go home. It's so easy to get caught up here and never leave. I don't want to die in prison."

But because of cuts in the state budget, Tatum and thousands of other inmates and parolees in California are about to lose access to many of the programs the prison system has offered to help them turn their lives around.

Officials plan to chop $250 million a year from rehabilitation services, more than 40% of what the state now devotes to them and a quarter of the $1 billion it is slicing from its prison system.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2009
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2009 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Grant Schulte

Reed Prior kneels along the sidewalk with a gallon can, dabs his brush in yellow paint, and slides the bristles over the curb.

Customers breeze out of the Des Moines hardware store, past the "Wet Paint" sign and the 59-year-old who was supposed to die in prison.

Nearly eight months have passed since Prior rejoined the world, drug-free, and hugged his dying father. Eight months since he began the quiet, sober, 9-to-5 life that eluded him for decades.

He remembers his past: A popular over-achiever. An addict who slept in flea-bag motels. A four-time drug felon sentenced to prison for life. And sometimes - alone, in silence - Prior thinks about the presidential order that set him free.




Pubdate: Sat, 17 Oct 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- The hit men moved in on their target, shot him dead and then disappeared in a matter of seconds. It would have been a perfect case for Jose Ibarra Limon, one of this violent border city's most dogged crime investigators -- had he not been the victim.

Mexico has never been particularly adept at bringing criminals to justice, and the drug war has made things worse. Investigators are now swamped with homicides and other drug crimes, most of which they will never crack. On top of the standard obstacles -- too little expertise, too much corruption -- is one that seems to grow by the day: outright fear of becoming the next body in the street.

Mr. Ibarra was killed on July 27 in what his bosses at the federal attorney general's office consider an assassination related to a case he was investigating. As if to prove the point, less than a month later, one of the lawyers who had worked for Mr. Ibarra also turned up dead. Two days afterward, an investigator named to replace Mr. Ibarra insisted on being transferred out of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital.

The current prosecutor investigating Mr. Ibarra's cases is working anonymously, his or her name kept secret by the government.




Pubdate: Wed, 14 Oct 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez

The decapitated body of a woman left in a public place in Juarez marks a disturbing development in the violence-ravaged city across the border from El Paso, two experts said.

"This is the first time a woman has been decapitated and her body displayed in this manner," said Julia Monarrez Fragoso, a Juarez professor at the Colegio de la Frontera, or COLEF, who has spent more than 15 years researching the murders of women in Juarez.

"It is frightening ... the civil society cannot and should not become accustomed to this kind of violence," said Monarrez, whose new book, "Trama de una injusticia" (An unjust plot), about the women's murders, came out earlier this year.

Monarrez said that of last week, 100 girls and women had been killed in Juarez since the beginning of the year, a record for the border city. Since 1993, more than 600 women's deaths have been reported. The overall slaying toll so far this year in Juarez is more than 1,900.




Needless to say, the big news last week was the Obama administration putting their policy of non-interference with medicinal cannabis dispensaries and patients who comply with state laws into writing in the form of a memo to the Department of Justice.

But what of those states that lack politicians with the courage to regulate medicinal cannabis, or a mechanism for allowing voters to demand reform?

Jurisdictions are adopting lowest enforcement priority guidelines, but as with medicinal cannabis regulation, police enthusiasm and compliance has been mixed.

A reminder from Florida that the negative consequences of being identified as a cannabis consumer reach far beyond the legal repercussions.


Pubdate: Tue, 20 Oct 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Medical-Pot Backers React to New Obama Policy

SAN FRANCISCO -- Medical marijuana advocates in California said the Obama administration's announcement of new guidelines for pot prosecutions Monday contained some hopeful signs, but lacked the specifics needed to keep patients and their suppliers out of court.

"It's an extremely welcome rhetorical de-escalation of the federal government's long-standing war on medical marijuana patients," said Stephen Gutwillig, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Dale Gieringer, California coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the administration's advice to U.S. attorneys that they respect state law - such as California's Proposition 215, the 1996 measure legalizing medicinal use of the drug - was encouraging.

However, he added, "the policy has major loopholes that give prosecutors broad discretion to determine what they think is legal."

A Justice Department memo, sent Monday to federal prosecutors in California and 13 other states whose laws allow medical use of marijuana, provides guidelines to implement the policy Attorney General Eric Holder announced in March: that federal authorities should refrain from arresting or prosecuting people who are complying with their state's laws.

Federal prosecutors should focus on major drug traffickers and networks, rather than on those who "are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws" on medical marijuana, said Deputy Attorney General David Ogden.

But he added some qualifications: Prosecutors can go after those who sell marijuana for profit, a category that federal authorities have commonly invoked in charging growers and sellers of medicinal pot.

San Francisco's U.S. attorney, Joseph Russoniello, asserted in August that most of California's 300 marijuana dispensaries make profits, in violation of state guidelines, and are therefore open to federal prosecution.




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 2009
Source: Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI)
Copyright: 2009 Alternative Publications Inc.
Author: Lisa Kaiser

Wisconsin Could Legalize Pot For Chronically Ill People

In November 2008, 63% of Michigan voters made medical marijuana legal in that state-a significant victory, when you consider that the ballot measure won in each and every county and generated more support than Barack Obama.

More tellingly, that robust majority of voters approved a measure that the Michigan Legislature had previously rejected.

Since the program's implementation this spring, more than 6,000 Michigan residents have signed up for the program, either as a patient or a caregiver. Patients obtain a recommendation from their doctor, pay $100 (or $25, if the patient lives below the poverty line) for a state-issued ID card, and can purchase marijuana from a state-licensed dealer or grow his or her own plants (up to 12 per patient).

Tim Beck, head of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access, said that there's been no "reefer madness"-style chaos or corruption of kids. Instead, the program has allowed seriously ill Michigan residents to safely access medicine that had formerly been driven underground.

"It has been a godsend," Beck said.

The People Are Ahead of Their Politicians

Wisconsin residents, though, aren't that fortunate, even though credible polling shows that 80% support implementing a medical marijuana program in this state.

"It's more popular than any politician," said Gary Storck, president of the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

But Wisconsin voters don't have the ability to enact a medical marijuana law via a voter referendum, as Michigan residents did. That can be done at the local level, creating a patchwork of programs. Or an advisory referendum can be placed on a statewide ballot, but that would not necessarily lead to legislation.

Wisconsin voters can approve amendments to the state Constitution, however, but that would require having the question approved by two consecutive sessions of the state Legislature before it could be put on the ballot.

Storck said seriously or terminally ill patients who need immediate relief can't wait another two years.




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 2009
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Summit Daily News
Author: Robert Allen

Each Had Less Than An Ounce Of Marijuana

SUMMIT COUNTY - Summit County Sheriff's deputies have ticketed half a dozen people for possessing small amounts of marijuana at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area parking lot since ski season started Oct. 9.

"If you're going to flaunt it in our face and do stupid things while we're on foot patrol, you sometimes get caught," Sheriff John Minor said Tuesday. "This is not uncommon the first few ski days."

Four of the summonses - each for possession of less than an ounce - were the result of deputies on foot patrol noticing the odor of burnt marijuana. Two were issued to friends of a man who was shouting expletives across the parking lot, according to reports from the sheriff's office.

Breckenridge attorney and marijuana-decriminalization advocate Sean McAllister said the incidents exemplify how local law enforcement continues to ignore the will of the voters.

"It's just not believable to me that the courts, police and district attorney's office would use resources to prosecute people in this county which is 62 percent in favor of (decriminalization)," he said.

In 2006, Summit County voted 62 percent in favor of an unsuccessful statewide referendum (Amendment 44) to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for private use.

"Clearly these people are not endangering other people and should have been left alone," he said.




Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 2009
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2009 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Tony Marrero

BROOKSVILLE -- The Hernando School Board is headed toward a compromise with the Parrott Middle School health teacher who admitted to and tested positive for marijuana use in March.

The board, during a special meeting Tuesday, reached a consensus on a deal with Michael Provost that would keep him employed by the district. The agreement has to be approved by a formal vote at the board's Nov. 17 meeting.

If that happens, Provost will be reinstated and placed in a health or P.E. position at another school this year. He will receive back pay from the start of the current school year.

He will have to undergo a formal drug evaluation and follow whatever recommendations are made by health professionals. He also agreed to random drug tests for the next three years.

Provost, 37, admitted to drug use in March after being confronted by Parrott principal Leechelle Booker, who told him about a phone call she received from a woman who said she witnessed Provost smoking marijuana. He agreed to a drug test and enrolled in an employee assistance program.

Then-superintendent Wayne Alexander recommended that Provost be fired.

The teacher appealed and got a hearing in June. Early last month, Judge P. Michael Ruff recommended that the School Board reinstate Provost, who has been on unpaid suspension since March, and pay him back wages and benefits. The board did not have legal grounds to fire Provost because state statutes and the district's personnel policy prohibit termination for a first positive drug test, Ruff wrote in the recommendation.

School Board attorney Paul Carland said the judge had misinterpreted case law and recommended that the board follow interim superintendent Sonya Jackson's direction to fire Provost anyway.




In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key has decided to pursue a course of renewed prohibition punishments for "P" (methamphetamines) users and sellers. "We will be ruthless in our pursuit of you and the evil drug you push."

Likewise, in Canada, crime may be down by all measures, but that never means it isn't time for a politically expedient, mandatory minimum-filled "tough on drugs" government drive and consequent prison construction boom, to make thoughts of a losing war in Afghanistan and a sagging economy go away. What will the result be? "[P]risons swollen with greater numbers of the non-violent, mentally ill, and poor and racialized minorities," predict authors Craig Jones and Kim Pate in this week's Toronto Star.

An Australian report released last week showing 1 in 25 people on the planet take cannabis spurred demands in Canada for outright legalization of the drug. Eugene Oscapella, Ottawa professor and spokesman for the Canadian Foundation For Drug Policy: "It's not going away. So should one in 25 people be criminalized for smoking pot?... "I'd say 70 or 80 per cent of my university students smoke pot and they are perfectly normal people... So why are we using criminal law to deal with this behaviour? That's the real issue."

And finally this week, drug policy expert, founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, and Victoria, Canada city councillor Philippe Lucas described the North American prohibitionist approach to cannabis and other drugs as "increasingly isolated," in an interview this week in the Georgia Straight magazine. "Within the western world, we see examples of very successful alternatives to a law-and-order approach to substance abuse. The best recent examples are Portugal and Spain." Lucas is speaking at an upcoming conference at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia this weekend.


Pubdate: Sun, 11 Oct 2009
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2009 New Zealand Herald
Author: Paul Holmes

A few minutes before Prime Minister John Key arrived at the medium-sized conference room at the Novotel in Auckland on Thursday, someone handed me a copy of the speech he was about to deliver. I had been invited along with representatives of groups who work in the campaign against drugs, especially pure methamphetamine.

I scanned it in disbelief. Here was a real cross-departmental, red-blooded initiative coming from the Prime Minister himself. Only a Prime Minister could bring together such cross-departmental singularity of purpose. In the speech - and I could not believe the language - he declared war on the gangs. His language was unequivocal. "My message to the gangs is clear. This Government is coming after your business and we will use every tool we have to destroy it. We will be ruthless in our pursuit of you and the evil drug you push."

Even the title of the speech was direct and purposeful: "Tackling P". It was not "New initiatives to reduce drug use in New Zealand", or anything as wishy-washy as that. It was straight to the focused point: "Tackling P".

P, the robber of our children and our loved ones, breaker of lives, enemy of decency, honesty and conscience and, for the gangs and the crime syndicates, source of profits the size of a mountain.




Pubdate: Sat, 17 Oct 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Authors: Craig Jones and Kim Pate

Money spent on longer, harsher sentences is money wasted, because more prisons do not increase our safety

If the federal government gets its way, Canadians will witness a boom in prison construction coinciding with the longest steady decline in crime rates in Canadian history. That's the consequence of the various pieces of "get tough" legislation recently passed or currently working their way through Parliament.

Consider this: the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for "serious drug crimes" in the National Anti-Drug Strategy plus the limiting of judicial discretion in regard to credit for time served in pre-trial detention is projected by Statistics Canada to grow the rate of incarceration by as much as 10 per cent.


When governments "crack down," the American evidence shows that they quickly catch the worst of the worst before reaching into the pool of the non-violent - people who might represent a threat to themselves but are little risk to their communities.


The result is prisons swollen with greater numbers of the non-violent, mentally ill, and poor and racialized minorities.


Some of the best farmland in Canada could be swallowed up by super-max prisons based on the American model. That is the vision endorsed by the "independent panel" commissioned by the government and chaired by the former minister of corrections for the province of Ontario, Rob Sampson.

So let's connect the dots. The crime rate has been declining for 26 years - those are the government's numbers - but the same government wants to build more prisons at a cost to taxpayers of billions of dollars.

Who benefits? In the U.S. case, private prison contractors and correctional officer unions. Everyone else loses: education, social assistance and health care.




Pubdate: Fri, 16 Oct 2009
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service

A report released Thursday that shows the number of pot smokers in the world has grown to more than 160 million people has Canadian advocates renewing calls for legalization of the drug.

An Australian study, citing United Nations data from 2006 and published Thursday in the journal Lancet, found that about 166 million people aged 15-64 -- or an estimated one in 25 in that age range -- reported using cannabis. That's up from about 159 million people in 2005.

"It's not going away. So should one in 25 people be criminalized for smoking pot?" asked Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa professor and spokesman for the Canadian Foundation For Drug Policy. "What this number says to me is the world is not drug free. Some people prefer alcohol over cannabis and some people prefer cannabis."

The foundation is urging the Canadian government to legalize and regulate marijuana, by allowing people to grow their own and taxing sales the way it regulates alcohol or tobacco.


"I'd say 70 or 80 per cent of my university students smoke pot and they are perfectly normal people," said Oscapella. "If you've ever tried it, you know its no big deal. So why are we using criminal law to deal with this behaviour? That's the real issue."




Pubdate: Thu, 22 Oct 2009
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Georgia Straight
Author: Carlito Pablo

Since founding the Vancouver Island Compassion Society 10 years ago, Philippe Lucas has seen changes in the way countries around the world deal with drug users. As recently as August 20, for example, Mexico decriminalized the possession for personal use of substances like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine. Five days later, Argentina's Supreme Court declared unconstitutional legislation that punishes possessors of marijuana with prison sentences ranging from one month to two years.

Elsewhere in Latin America, according to Lucas, a first-term Victoria city councillor, countries like Colombia and Peru have set aside policies that regard drug use as a criminal offence.

"We're seeing Canada and the U.S. increasingly isolated in the maintenance of a prohibition-based policy," Lucas told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. "Within the western world, we see examples of very successful alternatives to a law-and-order approach to substance abuse. The best recent examples are Portugal and Spain."


Lucas, a graduate student in UVic's policy-and-practice program and a research fellow with the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., noted that prohibitionist policies persist in North America despite the absence of evidence of success, particularly in terms of public health.

This is in sharp contrast to the experience in Portugal, which the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute examined in a detailed report released last April. Since decriminalization in 2001, lifetime prevalence rates, which measure how many people have consumed a particular drug or drugs in their lifetime, have decreased among youth, the think tank noted in Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies. For Portuguese aged 13 to 15 years, the rate fell from 14.1 percent in 2001 to 10.6 percent in 2006. Among those aged 16 to 18, the rate dropped from 27.6 percent to 21.6 percent.


Lucas will speak at a drug-policy conference to be held at the SFU Burnaby campus from Friday to Sunday (October 23 to October 25). Organized by Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the event will also feature presentations from harm-reduction activist Mark Haden, UVic professor Susan Boyd, Victoria police officer and antiprohibition activist David Bratzer, author and physician Gabor Mate, medical-marijuana activist Rielle Capler, lawyer Kirk Tousaw, and Insite researcher Dr. Evan Wood.

The conference is being held in the shadow of Bill C-15, a controversial piece of drug legislation passed by the House of Commons in June. Currently awaiting concurrence from the Senate, the proposed law seeks to impose mandatory prison sentences on people caught with illicit substances.


For details on the drug-policy conference, visit


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )




Diane Rehm spoke with DPA's Ethan Nadelmann and Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on her nationally syndicated NPR show yesterday about the recent Justice Department announcement regarding medical marijuana. A recording of the segment is available online.


Bruce Mirken discusses the Obama administration's memo intended to stop federal resources from being used to prosecute medical marijuana users and caregivers operating within state laws.


There has been an explosion in Pot Shops in Los Angeles; "more Pot Shops than Starbucks" says Special Assistant City Attorney David Berger. The City remains committed to supporting the legitimate needs of those who use marijuana for medical purposes, but recreational use is currently against the law, and until the law is changed, it has to be enforced.


Majority in the West favors taxing marijuana sales to boost state revenues.

by Lydia Saad


By David Sirota

We have a double standard -- promoting the recreational use of alcohol and banning the similar use of marijuana.


The Obama administration's new policy may not make much difference in practice.

By Jacob Sullum


By Pete Guither

So far, the responses to the Holder memo has gotten a lot of favorable press - so much so that it's likely to help apply pressure on the feds to actually make good on their pledge to prioritize.


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The Fairness in Sentencing Act 2009 is anything but fair to the thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes in federal prisons.


By Megan Carpentier

Occupy the world's largest heroin producer in Afghanistan and it's no wonder the methadone clinics are overpacked -- but the military is mum on the subject.


Century of Lies - 10/18/09 - Sanho Tree

Sanho Tree of Institute for Policy Studies in Wash DC takes DTN listener calls + Phil Smith with Corrupt Cop Story

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 10/18/09 - Richard Evans

Atty Richard Evans of Mass NORML + LIVE: Sanho Tree of Institute for Policy Studies in Wash DC & US Drug Czar clip + Paul Armentano of national NORML


Good news, hippies! President Obama will not be arresting medical marijuana users who comply with state laws. That's right, the potheads are soon going to be roaming the streets, treating their cancer and glaucoma willy-nilly in some sort of warped Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las- Vegas-esque perversion of America where the sick are dealt with humanely and with reason. With that in mind, here are some of the best War on Drugs-themed clips from The Daily Show.



Los Angeles Prepares For Clash Over Marijuana - A DrugSense Focus Alert


Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy is hosting its third annual national conference, Blueprints for Beyond Prohibition, in Vancouver from October 23-25, 2009.

If you can't make it to B.C., CSSDP will bring the conference to you! We are going to be live streaming the conference at the following link.



By Mike Foster

The ecstasy overdose at WEM is another argument for the legalization and regulation of all drugs. MDMA/ecstasy is relatively safe as a party drug, if compared to alcohol. The problem, as the author mentioned, is that it is cut with various chemicals. Prohibited means all the quality control, production, ingredients and potency is left to the criminal underworld. Prohibition means no control. Imagine if you could go to the local government-licensed alcohol shop, pick up a limited amount of clean ecstasy along with a brochure on what to expect and how to prepare for a safe adventure, showing your cards proving you're an adult, possibly with a sticker or note that you've followed a seminar on how to use said drug. It's way more than we do for alcohol, via our "all abstinence, no education" classes taught to children in schools. Under such a model: the drug would be clean, controlled, safe, limited to adults, sold only in regulated areas, with education being a prominent control mechanism. People interested in altering their consciences will do so, and have done so, for many millennia. It's a bit hypocritical for the substance of some to be regulated and controlled, while others get jail time and massive profits for criminals willing to supply the demand.

Mike Foster

(Common sense.)

Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2009
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Referenced: Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk.



FROM: David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana

This memorandum provides clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. These laws vary in their substantive provisions and in the extent of state regulatory oversight, both among the enacting States and among local jurisdictions within those States. Rather than developing different guidelines for every possible variant of state and local law, this memorandum provides uniform guidance to focus federal investigations and prosecutions in these States on core federal enforcement priorities.

The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime and provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. One timely example underscores the importance of our efforts to prosecute significant marijuana traffickers: marijuana distribution in the United States remains the single largest source of revenue for the Mexican cartels.

The Department is also committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources. In general, United States Attorneys are vested with "plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters" within their districts. USAM 9-2.001. In exercising this authority, United States Attorneys are "invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority." Id. This authority should, of course, be exercised consistent with Department priorities and guidance.

The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department's efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department's investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources. On the other hand, prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the Department. To be sure, claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, and federal law enforcement should not be deterred by such assertions when otherwise pursuing the Department's core enforcement priorities.

Typically, when any of the following characteristics is present, the conduct will not be in clear and unambiguous compliance with applicable state law and may indicate illegal drug trafficking activity of potential federal interest:

* unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms;

* violence;

* sales to minors;

* financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;

* amounts of marijuana inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;

* illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or

* ties to other criminal enterprises.

Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law, and the list of factors above is not intended to describe exhaustively when a federal prosecution may be warranted. Accordingly, in prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, federal prosecutors are not expected to charge, prove, or otherwise establish any state law violations. Indeed, this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department's authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property. This guidance regarding resource allocation does not "legalize" marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law, nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Nor does clear and unambiguous compliance with state law or the absence of one or all of the above factors create a legal defense to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Rather, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion.

Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution where there is a reasonable basis to believe that compliance with state law is being invoked as a pretext for the production or distribution of marijuana for purposes not authorized by state law. Nor does this guidance preclude investigation or prosecution, even when there is clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law, in particular circumstances where investigation or prosecution otherwise serves important federal interests.

Your offices should continue to review marijuana cases for prosecution on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the guidance on resource allocation and federal priorities set forth herein, the consideration of requests for federal assistance from state and local law enforcement authorities, and the Principles of Federal Prosecution.

cc: All United States Attorneys

Lanny A. Breuer Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division

B. Todd Jones United States Attorney District of Minnesota Chair, Attorney General's Advisory Committee

Michele M. Leonhart Acting Administrator Drug Enforcement Administration

H. Marshall Jarrett Director Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Kevin L. Perkins Assistant Director Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation

David Ogden is Deputy Attorney General. This document appeared at


"You should just say no to drugs. That will drive the prices down." - Geechy Guy

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