THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) EDITORIAL: LET DESPERATE PATIENTS HAVE POT
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Nov 2009
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
A doctor should be able to recommend marijuana to a Wisconsin cancer patient suffering from severe nausea, loss of appetite and pain.
More than a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana.
Wisconsin should, too.
Opponents say there's not enough evidence marijuana works. Tell that to the cancer and multiple sclerosis patients who swear by it - and to the doctors who have recommended the drug.
The problem is that the government hasn't allowed comprehensive tests.
The American Medical Association last week called on the federal government to review its classification of marijuana as a controlled substance so more research on marijuana-based medicines can occur.
Doctors already legally prescribe morphine and OxyContin. Marijuana is less potent than those drugs. And the public increasingly supports letting doctors prescribe marijuana to terribly ill patients.
(2) MANDATORY SENTENCES WILL BOOST PAROLE WORKLOAD ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 20 Nov 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Laura Stone, Canwest News Service
A federal bill that would impose mandatory jail time for serious drug crimes would increase the workload of the parole system, and the government intends to inject more than $100 million over five years to ease the burden, according to the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada.
Commissioner Don Head said at a Senate committee hearing Thursday that if the bill is passed, CSC will receive an additional $116.5 million over the next five years to support an expected increase in cases for the National Parole Board.
The parole board supervises both federal offenders who are sentenced to two years or more, and provincial offenders in some provinces.
Under the proposed legislation, mandatory sentences would be handed out to everyone convicted of a serious drug offence, such as trafficking, production, and possession for the purpose of trafficking narcotics. A person who grows five to 200 marijuana plants with intent to sell would get a minimum six-month sentence. An addict selling heroin to fellow addicts near a park could go away for two years.
(3) LOCAL ATTORNEYS CRITICIZE PROSECUTION'S HANDLING OF SHELNUTT ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Nov 2009
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus,GA)
Copyright: 2009 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Tim Chitwood
Say Government Had Too Many Charges Against Shelnutt
Three weeks before the Feds took Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt to trial on a 40-count indictment alleging money laundering and drug charges, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that should have made prosecutors re-evaluate their case, local lawyers said Wednesday.
In that October ruling, the court said Florida defense attorneys representing a Colombian drug lord could not be charged with laundering drug money for their fees because the law against money laundering excludes "any transaction necessary to preserve a person's right to representation as guaranteed by the sixth amendment to the Constitution."
Shelnutt was accused of being part of the drug operation of Torrance Hill, among other alleged crimes. At trial, the government presented facts supporting the conclusion that Shelnutt collected drug debts on behalf of the incarcerated Hill and received cash in unconventional ways, such as at a public grocery store and in a box wrapped like a Christmas present.
"Given the recent 11th Circuit rulings on money laundering, I was surprised that the government continued with the case," said Page Pate, who represented Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater when she was called before a grand jury in the Shelnutt case.
(4) SOAKING UP THE ATMOSPHERE AT AMERICA'S FIRST 'CANNABIS CAFE' ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 20 Nov 2009
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Chris Ayres, in Portland, Oregon
At first glance it could be any other coffee shop in America. Chocolate croissants are stacked behind the counter and patrons lounge on sofas. There are, however, a few crucial differences.
A shelf is lined with large glass jars, containing what appear to be plant samples. The customers do not have coffee pots in front of them, but "vapourisers" with digital readouts indicating when the plant samples have been heated to precisely 375F, at which point a thin mist rises from them into large transparent plastic bags. The patrons "sip" on the bags using the kind of valves that you might see on a diver's oxygen tank.
Above their heads hangs a sign that explains everything: "Cannabis Cafe". Opened only a few days ago, this establishment, in Portland, Oregon, is America's first and only legal marijuana coffee shop.
How long it survives is entirely up to the Obama Administration, which, for the time being, has instructed its Attorney-General, Eric Holder, to leave the policing of marijuana to individual states.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The Army Times picked up on a report describing the need for
veterans to have access to drug treatment, not just the criminal
justice system. In Iowa, a student challenges a U.S. senator's
insistence on ignorance. In Pennsylvania, a private businessman who
has been funding a local needle exchange for more than a decade
hopes someone else can offer financial support. And, as jobs get
harder to find, employers are looking way back into applicant
history, particularly arrest records.
The Army Times picked up on a report describing the need for veterans to have access to drug treatment, not just the criminal justice system. In Iowa, a student challenges a U.S. senator's insistence on ignorance. In Pennsylvania, a private businessman who has been funding a local needle exchange for more than a decade hopes someone else can offer financial support. And, as jobs get harder to find, employers are looking way back into applicant history, particularly arrest records.
(5) REPORT: VETS NEED DRUG TREATMENT, NOT JAIL ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2009
Source: Army Times (US)
Copyright: 2009 Army Times Publishing Company
Author: William H. McMichael, Staff writer
Treatment, not incarceration, should be the first option for veterans who commit nonviolent drug-related offenses, a group advocating alternatives to the nation's "war on drugs" said Wednesday in a new report.
The Drug Policy Alliance report also called on government agencies to adopt overdose prevention programs and policies for vets who misuse substances or take prescription medicines, and urged "significantly expanded" access to medication-assisted therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine, for the treatment of dependence on opioid drugs used to treat pain and mood disorders.
During a conference call with a Drug Policy Alliance representative and seven other advocates for change in the treatment of veterans, the military's Tricare health benefits program came under fire for what a New York-based physician and specialist in drug addiction treatment called its failure to pay for veterans' and family members' opioid dependence treatments.
The treatments, said Robert Newman of the Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, are endorsed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Institute of Medicine.
(6) OPED: LET'S HAVE A RATIONAL DEBATE ON DRUG POLICY, SEN. GRASSLEY ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Nov 2009
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2009 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Marni Steadham
Note: Marni Steadham Represents University Of Iowa Students For Sensible Drug Policy.
Our criminal justice system is in dire need of reform. The United States has 5 percent of the world's population, but houses 25 percent of the world's prisoners. With drug offenders accounting for half of federal prisoners and 21 percent of state prisoners, drug incarceration is a major cause of the burgeoning U.S. criminal justice system.
Many of those serving time are low-level offenders with no history of violence. In a 2008 Zogby poll, three out of four Americans said the war on drugs is failing. This clear indictment of U.S. drug policy falls directly into the lap of Congress. As a whole, Congress has been hesitant to address the shortcomings of U.S. drug policy because of the perception that it is a controversial and politically damaging issue.
With Congress afraid to touch the issue, the need for an independent commission with full investigative powers is apparent. That's why Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, and 35 other senators are sponsoring the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (NCJCA) to establish a blue ribbon commission to review our criminal justice system.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley proposed an amendment to the bill that would prevent discussion or even examination of the possibility that drugs, including medical marijuana, should be decriminalized or legalized. Grassley's weak justification for attempting to suppress these viable policy options is: "The point is, for them to do what we tell them to do." This assertion undermines the very purpose of the commission: For experts to recommend to the Senate alternatives to our current approach to incarceration, regardless of whether these findings conflict with our current "get-tough" approach.
What motivation could he have, save the fear that any real discussion on decriminalization or legalization would reach the sensible conclusion that these policies deserve serious consideration?
(7) BUSINESSMAN LOOKS FOR NEEDLE-EXCHANGE PROGRAM SPONSOR ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 13 Nov 2009
Source: Lancaster New Era (PA)
Copyright: 2009 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Jeff Hawkes
For 11 years, businessman Robert E. Field has quietly made sure intravenous drug users in Lancaster had free access to sterile needles.
Field in 1998 started a needle-exchange program that today is handing out more than 7,000 needles per month to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases.
For all these years, Field has personally bankrolled the $50,000-a-year operation, but now he's ending his financial support in hopes the wider community is ready to embrace the concept of needle exchange. As a result, the program finds itself at a crossroads.
In the program's early years, Field hired workers to dispense needles where drugs users gathered. Now people go to Bethel AME Church on East Strawberry Street to exchange dirty needles for clean ones.
The exchange also connects drug users with social service agencies and drug treatment programs. More than 100 are referred to treatment programs each month, Field said.
(8) MORE JOB SEEKERS SCRAMBLE TO ERASE THEIR CRIMINAL PAST ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Douglas Belkin
U.S. job seekers are crashing into the worst employment market in years and background checks that reach deeper than ever into their pasts.
The result: a surge of people seeking to legally clear their criminal records.
In Michigan, state police estimate they'll set aside 46% more convictions this year than last. Oregon is on track to set aside 33% more. Florida sealed and expunged nearly 15,000 criminal records in the fiscal year ended June 30, up 43% from the previous year. The courts of Cook County, which includes Chicago and nearby suburbs, received about 7,600 expungement requests in the year's first three quarters, nearly double the pace from the year before.
Civil-rights organizations have long complained that young black men are disproportionately hindered when prospective employers ask about applicants' arrests or convictions. But attorneys say past offenses are increasingly catching up with blue-collar and middle-class applicants with solid work histories.
"This is affecting a whole new group," says Michael Hornung, a defense attorney in Fort Myers, Fla., who charges $1,000 to help clients clear records. "I've had more people come in to talk to me about having their records expunged in the last year than I have had in the previous 13 combined."
The increase comes as unemployment has risen above 10%, allowing potential employers to be choosier than they have been in decades. More Americans have criminal records now, criminologists say, in part because a generation has come of age since the start of the war on drugs.
These convictions are increasingly coming to employers' attention. Background checks have become more commonplace in the years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and cheaper. More than 80% of companies performed such checks in 2006, compared with fewer than 50% in 1998, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, an association of HR professionals. Erased, Sealed, Blocked
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Mandatory minimum sentences are set to get what one hopes will be a
critical review at the federal level. In North Carolina, a
different kind of drug sweep by federal agents, but other places,
it's more of the same.
Mandatory minimum sentences are set to get what one hopes will be a critical review at the federal level. In North Carolina, a different kind of drug sweep by federal agents, but other places, it's more of the same.
(9) U.S. COMMISSION TO ASSESS MANDATORY SENTENCES ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 12 Nov 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Gary Fields
WASHINGTON -- Congress has ordered the panel that advises judges on prison terms to conduct a review of mandatory-minimum sentences, a move that could lead to a dramatic rethinking of how the U.S. incarcerates its criminals.
The review is a little-noticed element of the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law last month by President Barack Obama. The defense-spending bill calls on the commission to perform several tasks, including an examination of the impact of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws and alternatives to the practice.
Congress in the 1980s began passing mandatory-minimum laws, which dictate the minimum sentence a judge must hand out for a particular crime. Among the results were longer sentences, increased prison populations and ballooning budgets.
Amid cost concerns in recent years, states have tried to reverse the trend. At least 26 states have cut corrections spending recently and at least 17 are closing prisons or reducing their inmate populations, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit that studies sentencing and criminal-justice policies.
(10) NO ARRESTS IN HEROIN SWEEP, JUST A PUSH FOR TREATMENT ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 13 Nov 2009
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Franco Ordonez
Federal Agents And Local Police Drop In On Suspected Addicts And Encourage Them To Get Help.
Armed with the client lists of known heroin traffickers Thursday, federal agents and local police held a citywide drug intervention.
Teams of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police visited more than 30 homes and confronted 10 suspected heroin users.
The objective, said John Emerson, the DEA's assistant special agent in charge for North Carolina, was "to let them know we know who they are," to find out more about their suppliers, and to "offer them an alternative to using heroin by seeking treatment."
Three weeks ago, the teams made their first sweep. Emerson said three of the 12 users contacted that day are now in treatment.
(11) 'KILL OR BE KILLED' DEFENDANT GETS 23 YEARS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Nov 2009
Source: Herald News (West Paterson, NJ)
Copyright: 2009 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
Author: John Petrick
A Paterson man was sentenced to 23 years in state prison Friday for killing a drug dealer who he owed $1,200 because he feared the dealer was out to kill him first.
Damian Anderson, 30, will have to serve 85 percent of his term under sentencing imposed by state Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin in Paterson. He previously pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in connection with the shooting.
Anderson was originally charged with murder in the Aug. 16, 2007, killing of 30-year-old city resident Anroy Carnegie on 11th Avenue near East 28th Street in Paterson.
"It seems like every week I read about some kind of drug-related killing," Reddin said, in imposing his sentence. "Here, the victim, Mr. Carnegie, sold a pound of marijuana to Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson didn't pay for it, and was under the impression that Mr. Carnegie was looking to kill him. Under the theory of kill or be killed, he shoots him dead," the judge said.
"We're reverting to the law of the jungle. Kill or be killed," the judge added. "Paterson is becoming the Wild West. Families are being destroyed."
(12) EX-DALLAS SHERIFF'S DEPUTY GETS 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Nov 2009
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
DALLAS -- A U.S. district judge sentenced a former Dallas sheriff's deputy to 15 years in federal prison on Friday for his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.
Standric Choice, 36, pleaded guilty in March to drug and firearm charges, according to the U.S. attorney's office. An eight-year period of supervised release will follow Choice's prison term, a news release said.
A criminal complaint accused Choice and two co-defendants of conspiring to steal cocaine from a dealer. Choice planned to seize the cocaine by faking the arrest of an informant, the complaint said. Choice and co-defendants [name redacted], 29, and [name redacted], 31, were arrested in January after the scheme failed.
Investigators said [name redacted] met with an informant he believed to be a drug dealer. They discussed stealing four kilograms of cocaine from a South Texas drug dealer when he came to Dallas. The drug dealer was actually an undercover police officer and Irving police supplied the cocaine.
On Jan. 9, the informant and an undercover agent posing as a drug supplier met at the truck stop, according to court documents. Choice then showed up in his squad car, pretended to arrest the informant, confiscated the drugs and released the undercover agent, the complaint stated.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Officials are attempting to catch up to the growing, self-regulating
medicinal cannabis dispensary scene in Colorado.
The Washington Post attributed the gradual mainstreaming and
acceptance of cannabis, in part, to baby boomers reaching retirement.
The American Medical Association took a belated, timid, but
nonetheless significant step toward recognizing the medicinal value
L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley was among the few who urged city
council to reject an ordinance that would recognize and regulate
Officials are attempting to catch up to the growing, self-regulating medicinal cannabis dispensary scene in Colorado.
The Washington Post attributed the gradual mainstreaming and acceptance of cannabis, in part, to baby boomers reaching retirement.
The American Medical Association took a belated, timid, but nonetheless significant step toward recognizing the medicinal value of cannabis.
L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley was among the few who urged city council to reject an ordinance that would recognize and regulate compliant dispensaries.
(13) MARIJUANA DISPENSERS WELCOME RULING THEY MUST PAY TAXES ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 18 Nov 2009
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2009 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Tim Hoover, The Denver Post
They might be the only businesses in Colorado begging for their products to be taxed.
But a number of medical-marijuana dispensaries say taxation is critical for their industry's long-term health, and many say they've been collecting sales taxes for months -- before a legal opinion issued Monday saying their products are taxable.
After the opinion from Attorney General John Suthers, medical- marijuana dispensaries could be facing penalties for not collecting sales taxes that could include fines and, ultimately, seizure.
Mark Couch, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said agency officials met Monday to discuss sending a letter to dispensaries statewide to inform them about paying the state's 2.9 percent sales tax.
"We'll be actively contacting them to remind them of their legal obligations," Couch said.
Dispensaries also must obtain state retail sales-tax licenses, which cost $4 for one year. Starting in January, businesses can purchase two-year licenses for $16.
Suthers' opinion said medical marijuana is subject to state sales tax as are food products made with it. Marijuana seed, however, is considered an agricultural product and exempt from sales tax.
For dispensary owners like Miles Zalkin, who operates Pain Management of Colorado in Denver, the opinion just means business as usual.
"We've been collecting sales tax from Day One," said Zalkin, whose business has been open just over a year. "We run our business as if it was regulated."
(14) BOOMERS SEE VIEWS RELAXING ON MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 16 Nov 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Steve Hendrix, Washington Post Staff Writer
Health, Law Enforcement Officials Bemoan Greater Public Tolerance of Drug
Smoking pot isn't what it used to be for Joe Lee, a 62-year-old vintage-record dealer in Rockville.
Back in the late 1960s, as an art student in Baltimore, he kept his landlord in a constant state of suspicion, with clouds of marijuana smoke poorly masked by clouds of incense.
These days, after four decades of regular use, cannabis is a smaller deal. Lee takes a few hits every other day or so, when he wants to listen to music or laugh with a few friends on the porch. And he's happy to talk about it.
"There's gotten to be greater tolerance, that's for sure," said Lee, the son of one-time acting Maryland governor Blair Lee III. "I know literally hundreds of people my age who smoke. They are upright citizens, good parents who are holding down jobs. You take two or three puffs, and you're good to go. I'm not a Rastafarian; I don't treat this as some holy sacrament. But pot is fun."
A federal survey of Americans' drug use shows that Lee and his friends are not the only baby boomers approaching the age of retirement much as they departed the Age of Aquarius -- with an occasional case of the munchies. The government's most recent survey showed that the share of marijuana users ages 50 to 59 increased from 5.1 percent in 2002 to almost 10 percent in 2007.
Some of those users are empty-nesters, returning to the drug decades after their pot habits gave way to raising children and building careers. Others, like Lee, have kept using pot all along, researchers said.
"We're concerned by the public health impact of this," said Peter Delany, who heads the office in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that conducts the survey. Marijuana could present special problems for older users, he said, including unknown interactions with prescription drugs. "Doctors need to be more sensitive to it," he said. "They may ask older patients about alcohol now but not think to ask about illicit drug use."
But some older marijuana users say they are living evidence that smoking pot does not preclude a normal life, and more older smokers seem more comfortable than at any point since their teen years with going public -- a tribute, they say, to a big boost in public tolerance of marijuana use.
(15) AMA URGES FEDS TO RECLASSIFY MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 15 Nov 2009
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Times-Standard
Author: Thadeus Greenson, The Times-Standard
The nation's largest doctors group took a step toward supporting medical marijuana last week, urging the federal government to review marijuana's status as a controlled substance in order to facilitate more medical research on the drug.
"This has, I think, profound implications," said Greg Allen, a local attorney and longtime medical marijuana advocate.
Currently, marijuana remains classified federally as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, in the same category as heroin, ecstasy and LSD. That status makes it very difficult to conduct legal medical testing on the drug in the United States, as it can only be done with a permit from the federal government, which has historically been loathe to give them out.
Reducing marijuana's federal classification even just to Schedule 2 - -- the same class as cocaine, methadone, oxycodone and morphine -- would allow for more testing on the medical effects of marijuana, medical proponents argue.
At a semi-annual policy meeting held last week, the American Medical Association voted to adopt a resolution urging that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of conducting more clinical research and developing cannabinoid-based medications.
The resolution clearly states that it in no way is endorsing state- based medical marijuana programs, the legalization of marijuana or that it should be seen as a statement that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug.
However, the resolution marks a large policy change for the AMA, which has treated medical marijuana with much caution in the past, reportedly even voting down a similar resolution eight years ago.
(16) D.A. CHIDES L.A. COUNCIL, SAYS HE'LL TARGET POT STORES ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 18 Nov 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel
Cooley Says He Will Ignore City Laws and Prosecute Dispensaries.
With the Los Angeles City Council poised to take up a medical marijuana ordinance after two years of contentious debate, L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley warned Tuesday that he intends to prosecute dispensaries that sell the drug even if the city's leaders decide to allow those transactions.
"The L.A. City Council should be collectively ashamed of their failure to grasp this issue," Cooley said, arguing that state laws do not allow medical marijuana to be sold. "Undermining those laws via their ordinance powers is counterproductive, and quite frankly we're ignoring them. They are absolutely so irrelevant it's not funny."
The council may vote today on the ordinance, which would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and allow the city to shut down hundreds that have opened despite a moratorium approved more than two years ago.
Cooley's broadside came a day after two council committees rejected the city's attorney's advice to ban sales.
The ordinance they recommended would allow dispensaries to accept cash contributions as long as they comply with state law, a provision Cooley derided as "meaningless" and said reflected "Alice-in- Wonderland thinking." Cooley and City Atty. Carmen Trutanich maintain that recent court decisions clearly indicate collectives cannot sell marijuana over the counter, although members can be reimbursed for the cost of growing it.
Councilman Ed Reyes, who has overseen the development of the city's ordinance, called Cooley's remarks "demeaning" and "a real shame." But Reyes said he did not think they would dissuade the council.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
In Canada, "Magic" Mushrooms, screamed the Victoria Times-Colonist
last week, were "Suspected in Fatality". Reading the article we
learn that the man's death was instead due to prohibition, as the
man consumed "what he thought" were really "Magic" Mushrooms, but
When addicts are able to get heroin by prescription, the purity is
constant and known, but on the black market under drugs prohibition,
the purity and potency of heroin varies wildly, with predictably
fatal results. In the British Columbia city of Abbotsford, a spate
of heroin overdoses last week led addicts to organize, in an attempt
to actually work with police to warn others of the potent heroin.
In the Australian state of Victoria, a drugs scandal was brewing
last week involving women's prisons, where powerful (and prohibited)
drugs like heroin are available to inmates, who are overdosing in
In the U.K. many scientists are coming to the conclusion that - for
drugs policy at least - government isn't interested in hearing
scientific advice if it doesn't bolster prohibition. In the wake of
the firing of former U.K. drugs tsar Prof David Nutt last month for
disagreeing with aspects of cannabis prohibition, 28 senior
scientists called for clearly specified principles "for the
treatment of independent scientific advice".
And finally this week, Johann Hari, writes this week in the
Independent newspaper in the U.K. the prohibition of drugs is "a
faith - and like all faiths, it can only be maintained by
cultivating a deliberate blindness to the evidence... The
prohibitionists are therefore left a contradiction between their
message and the facts. They can either change their message, or try
to suppress the facts. Last week, the British Government made its
In Canada, "Magic" Mushrooms, screamed the Victoria Times-Colonist last week, were "Suspected in Fatality". Reading the article we learn that the man's death was instead due to prohibition, as the man consumed "what he thought" were really "Magic" Mushrooms, but weren't.
When addicts are able to get heroin by prescription, the purity is constant and known, but on the black market under drugs prohibition, the purity and potency of heroin varies wildly, with predictably fatal results. In the British Columbia city of Abbotsford, a spate of heroin overdoses last week led addicts to organize, in an attempt to actually work with police to warn others of the potent heroin.
In the Australian state of Victoria, a drugs scandal was brewing last week involving women's prisons, where powerful (and prohibited) drugs like heroin are available to inmates, who are overdosing in prison.
In the U.K. many scientists are coming to the conclusion that - for drugs policy at least - government isn't interested in hearing scientific advice if it doesn't bolster prohibition. In the wake of the firing of former U.K. drugs tsar Prof David Nutt last month for disagreeing with aspects of cannabis prohibition, 28 senior scientists called for clearly specified principles "for the treatment of independent scientific advice".
And finally this week, Johann Hari, writes this week in the Independent newspaper in the U.K. the prohibition of drugs is "a faith - and like all faiths, it can only be maintained by cultivating a deliberate blindness to the evidence... The prohibitionists are therefore left a contradiction between their message and the facts. They can either change their message, or try to suppress the facts. Last week, the British Government made its choice."
(17) 'MAGIC' MUSHROOMS SUSPECTED IN FATALITY ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Nov 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
RCMP here have issued a warning against consuming magic mushrooms, after the death of a B.C. man.
Cpl. Bryson Hill said preliminary results from an autopsy performed on a 23-year-old man who died while in the Halfway Hot Springs Nov. 8, indicate his death could be linked to him taking what he thought were hallucination-causing magic mushrooms or psilocybin mushrooms.
(18) POTENT HEROIN HITS ABBOTSFORD STREETS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Nov 2009
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Rafe Arnott
Heroin addicts in Abbotsford are frightened for their lives after seeing several of their own almost die.
The users are so scared they have spoken directly with police about the problem. Over the past few days, Abbotsford Drug Squad members have had direct conversations with users about heroin with a potentially deadly level of purity being pushed into the downtown core of the city, where the bulk of addicts congregate to score and shoot up.
Const. Ian MacDonald with the Abbotsford Police Department said hardened junkies had serious enough reactions to the spiked drug that users shooting up with those affected thought they had died.
(19) DRUGS AND SEX SCANDAL HIT JAIL ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Nov 2009
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Age Company Ltd
A BIG increase in drug overdoses among inmates and a sex scandal involving prison officials have prompted claims that Victoria's largest women's jail is in disarray.
In the past six months, at least seven - and possibly 11 - prisoners have had one or more serious drug overdoses at the maximum security Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Melbourne's west.
Department sources have told The Age the drug problem at the prison is the worst it has been in a decade, with heroin and ice readily available.
(20) GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO PATCH UP RELATIONS WITH SCIENTISTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 12 Nov 2009
Source: Times Higher Education (UK)
Copyright: 2009 TSL Education Ltd
Author: Zoe Corbyn
Lord Drayson, the Science Minister, has moved to heal a rift between the Government and the science community following the sacking of an independent drugs adviser.
David Nutt was dismissed as chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, on 30 October after questioning government policy.
Last week, a group of 28 senior scientists signed a set of principles "for the treatment of independent scientific advice", which they are calling on the Government to agree.
Two members of the ACMD resigned following Professor Nutt's sacking, and the remaining members were due to meet Mr Johnson to discuss their position this week.
(21) ACCEPT THE FACTS - AND END THIS FUTILE 'WAR ON DRUGS' ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2009
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Johann Hari
We Are Handing One of Our Biggest Industries Over to Armed, Criminal Gangs
The proponents of the "war on drugs" are well-intentioned people who believe they are saving people from the nightmare of drug addiction and making the world safer. But this self-image has turned into a faith - and like all faiths, it can only be maintained by cultivating a deliberate blindness to the evidence.
The prohibitionists are therefore left a contradiction between their message and the facts. They can either change their message, or try to suppress the facts. Last week, the British Government made its choice. But how long will this be tenable? The prohibitionists are - from the best intentions and the highest motives - unleashing a catastrophe. Human beings have been finding ways to get stoned or high since we lived in caves. In our attempt to end this natural impulse, we have created a problem worse than drug use itself.
There is another way. Imagine a country with no drug dealers killing to protect their patch or terrorising whole estates. Imagine a country where burglary fell by 60 per cent. Imagine a Britain where we spent all these billions treating addicts as ill people who need our help, not hunting them down as criminals who need punishment. We can be that country. We just have to come down from chasing the dragon of a drug-free world - and start looking soberly at the facts.
To support the campaign for drug regulation, you can join, volunteer for or donate to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation at http://www.tdpf.org.uk/
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
THE SALVIA BAN WAGON ( Top )
How does terrible drug policy get made? The mad rush to criminalize a psychedelic herb provides a textbook case.
By Jacob Sullum
TRANSFORM'S 'BLUEPRINT FOR REGULATION' DISCUSSED ON CNN INTERNATIONAL ( Top )
Last week's launch of Transform's new book 'After the War on Drugs; Blueprint for Regulation' has received a large volume of high quality media coverage in the UK and Internationally.
THE JACKI RICKERT MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT ( Top )
The JRMMA is a comprehensive medical marijuana bill based on the law Michigan voters passed with a majority in every county in November 2008. It would cover the same debilitating conditions as Michigan does, with several additional conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder.
LET'S ELIMINATE WELFARE FOR TERRORISTS ( Top )
Of all the factors on the table in the current Afghan strategic review, the war on drugs and its unintended consequences should be front and center.
By Mike Gray, Common Sense for Drug Policy
CHEECH, CHONG AND O' REILLY ( Top )
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong enter the No Spin Zone to talk about the legalization of marijuana - 11/18/09
CHEECH, CHONG AND COULTER ( Top )
Cheech, Chong and Ann Coulter discuss cannabis legalization with Geraldo.
2009 INTERNATIONAL DRUG POLICY REFORM CONFERENCE VIDEOS ( Top )
VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPTS OF THE CANADIAN SENATE HEARINGS ON BILL C-15 ( Top )
For Canada's sake, please learn more about this bill and about the ineffectiveness of mandatory prison sentences. Then, contact your MP and tell them to vote NO on Bill C-15.
JOURNAL OF CANNABIS THERAPEUTICS (2001-2004) NOW ONLINE ( Top )
The entire contents of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics (2001-2004) is now available free online even to non-members at the International Association for Cannabinoids Medicines WWW site:
MAINSTREAMING PSYCHEDELICS - FROM FDA TO HARVARD TO BURNING MAN ( Top )
On November 17, Rick Doblin spoke at Google campus. His Google Tech Talk was titled "Mainstreaming Psychedelics: From FDA to Harvard to Burning Man."
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
APPLY FOR A JOB OR INTERNSHIP ( Top )
The Marijuana Policy Project is seeking a Membership Assistant and interns.
WRITE A LETTER ( Top )
Congress Is Set To Stick It To Clean-Syringe Programs - A DrugSense Focus Alert
TELL THE DRUG CZAR WE NEED AN EXIT STRATEGY FOR THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
The drug czar is working on his plan for the next three years of U.S. drug policy. Let's tell him how to get it right -- starting with getting the federal government out of the way so states can try new policies.
PARTICIPATE IN A MEDICINAL CANNABIS SURVEY ( Top )
The IACM (International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines) has been undertaking an anonymous online Cannabis Based Medicine Patient Use Survey. This would include herbal cannabis, Marinol (dronabinol), Cesamet (nabilone) and Sativex. The study is designed to provide data on modes of administration and patient preferences, and will hopefully lead to publication. To date, there have been 793 complete or partial responses. It was recently decided to extend the study deadline through January 2010. The survey may be accessed here:
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
DON'T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE ( Top )
By Dave Olson
Responding to Joe Canzoneri's letter, "No such thing as 'medical marijuana,'" here's the Webster's definition of "medicine": a: "a substance or preparation used in treating disease" b: "something that affects well-being."
Has Canzoneri ever been through a traumatic experience: war, parental alcoholism, death of a child, anything? Has he ever tried marijuana?
I was raised to respect others regardless of their color, race, or religion. I was also raised in a very conservative home. Gay people were "wrong," people who used drugs were "bad." I grew up believing there is no such thing as "medical marijuana."
My son went to fight in Iraq. I met my best friend, who helps my son cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm confident Canzoneri has heard of this mental "disease?" Yes, it is a disease, one that cannot be cured. It can be relieved, the symptoms made milder, but not cured.
My best friend has a license to smoke medical marijuana. Let me assure you, it is a medicine for him. It calms his anxiety, increases his appetite when he becomes depressed, and generally improves his well being. He doesn't sell it, he doesn't even smoke often, but when he needs his raw nerves to calm down, he uses pot.
Please, do not judge others so harshly. I did, and it took my son spending time in a war to make me realize what a fool I had been. Someday Canzoneri too may need medicine that some people won't believe is "legal."
Dave Olson Chico
Pubdate: Fri, 13 Nov 2009
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
Albuquerque ( Top )
By Dan Linn
This was the second Drug Policy Alliance conference for me and I truly felt honored to attend. To be in the company of so many of those instrumental in ending such a failed and unjust policy was glorious in and of itself. Some day when these laws have changed and history books look back at who was a part of the movement to end the absurdity it will in large part be because of the work done by the people who were at this conference, and the one in 2007. People from all aspects of the war on drugs, not just those working on medical cannabis legislation or legalization, but those in the fields of harm reduction, psychedelics, law enforcement, policy making and public health were in attendance and each was able to bring something unique to the table. To have such an array of individuals touched by the drug war and each seeing the need that our current situation is not working will stick with me forever.
One obvious difference about this conference than the one in 2007 was the optimism in the air and spirit that we are on the cusp of change. This optimism is likely due to Obama's presidential election but even small victories are growing and popping up similar to dandelions, contributing to this positive spirit. Whether it is the recent call for a review of the scheduling of cannabis by the AMA, the former leaders of Latin America calling for decriminalization of all drugs, the FDA working with
MAPS to get MDMA approved for PTSD for veterans, or the Department of Justice issuing formal guidelines directed against federal interference of state medical cannabis laws, these are different times than two years ago. And the reason is that the costs, hypocrisy and bloodshed of this war are becoming so unbearable for so many people that the media cannot ignore it and the politicians are slowly beginning to react. As well, research revealing the power of substances such as cannabis, MDMA, and amphetamines to alleviate the physical and mental suffering of many patients begs the general public to revisit assumptions that these substances are dangerous to society. Indeed, many presenters at this conference seemed driven by a deep understanding and compassion for patients who would medically benefit from the end of prohibition.
Kind folks like Beto O'Rourke, council member of El Paso, TX, and Nubia Legarda, from the University of Texas-El Paso Students for Sensible Drug Policy, are examples of people who are contributing to this new rational and compassionate era. Because of their concern for human life and human rights, both put this issue on the international spotlight and forced people to face the hurtful truth, namely that the American federal government will not even let people have an open and honest discussion about ending drug prohibition to stop the violence in Cuidad Juarez. Each of us can do something, anything to keep this momentum growing and add to the public outrage that is needed in order for lawmakers to change these failed policies. In addition to that we should expect different changes in policy for different places because this is not simply about ending the War on Drugs. It is also about what we do after we end that war.
For me that has been the best part of bearing witness and participating in this momentous time, namely, having a say in exactly how we go about regulating drug consumption once legally allowed. By exploring tolerance ranges and cultural attitudes towards intoxication, addiction and spirituality, one can begin to imagine ways that their community would approach substance usage in legal markets. I'Tve learned of coca leaf tea, LSD and MDMA assisted psychotherapy, opioid overdose antidotes, and jet pilots on amphetamine. I have fantasized about drug regulation schemes and have started to make them a reality by getting involved in the process to change these laws and working with lawmakers on different regulatory systems
In my opinion this world can expect a significant shift in drug policy reform in a second term Obama administration; until then there will be many incremental shifts back and forth. Additionally, as Ethan Nadelmann emphasized in his opening remarks, "We need to push Obama, but support him too," and I agree. We need to rally people behind changing these policies. We need to show them how and why this isn'Tt working, what the solution is, and how we can achieve it by engaging those who have the ability to change these policies, whether it is politicians, the voters, or both. We can educate them and provide them with the framework for imagining a world where addiction is a public health matter and not reason for a person to take up space in the police blotter and our prisons. We can show them that all drug use is not abuse and that responsible, good people choose to use drugs for a number of reasons.
Finally, we can teach them that children will be better protected and that the world will be a better place once drugs are legal and regulated.
The 2009 International Drug Policy Reform Conference was a grand event. It was full of education, professionalism and dedicated individuals, families and organizations. It was my first time in Albuquerque and I was impressed with the people, the food, the scenery, and the approach that New Mexico has taken in reducing the harm of the War on Drugs. Plus, the coffee was strong and plentiful.
Dan Linn is Executive Director of Illinois NORML, manager of the Letter of the Week section of DrugSense Weekly, and a grant recipient from the Marijuana Policy Project founding the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association. He reported from the Conference for Drugwarrant.com - those reports may be found at:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." - George Bernard Shaw
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