This Just In
(1)Marijuana Is Now A Personal Matter For Czechs
(2)Easing Congress's Heel On The Capital City
(3)L.A. Council Puts Off Pot Dispensaries Vote
(4)OPED: U.S. May Take New Look At 'War On Drugs'

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-The Secret To Legal Marijuana? Women / Daniela Perdomo
-The Budgetary Implications Of Drug Legalization / Jeffrey Miron
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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 11 Dec 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Sean Carney

The interim Czech government, led by chief statistician-turned-Prime Minister Jan Fischer, early this week took a step towards making casual marijuana smoking a less worrisome affair.

Mr. Fischer's cabinet defined on Monday what constitutes "small amounts" of cannabis for personal use, clarifying the country's new penal code that from next year decriminalizes cultivation and possession of the plant by individuals, according to Czech news agency CTK.

As of Jan. 1 ordinary Czechs can grow up to five marijuana plants or have several marijuana cigarettes in their pockets without fear of criminal prosecution. Previously what constituted a small amount wasn't specified.

The government's approval of a table specifying what amounts of drugs are permissible is a vital part of the country's new penal code that was last year approved by both houses of parliament and in January of this year was signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus. Without the just-approved table of amounts that will be used by Czech police, the January decriminalization of the drug would be difficult to judge by courts and investigators.

The plant still remains illegal, however, though from the new year possession of five or less plants is merely a misdemeanour, and fines for possession will be on par with penalties for parking violations.




Pubdate: Fri, 11 Dec 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company

Congress is on the verge of enacting a sea change for self-government in the District of Columbia that would at last allow the district to finance abortions for the poor, permit medical marijuana and end the ban on using federal funds for city workers' domestic partner benefits.

Proponents are cheered that the changes -- long sought by the district but denied by Congressional diktat -- are tucked away in a mammoth multi-issue spending bill that is proving difficult to amend or defeat.

The House approved the measure Thursday, but abortion opponents and other critics promise a fierce fight in the Senate. It's imperative that majority Democrats fulfill their vow to smash these fetters placed on the district by past conservative-dominated Congresses. Historically, national lawmakers have too often meddled restrictively in the district's business. The omnibus bill carries the promise of a freer day, including a provision for a more liberal use of needle-exchange programs to combat the spread of H.I.V.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Dec 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel

Delay Arises From Fears That the Measure Would Effectively Ban the Outlets in Most Areas of the City.

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday shunted a vote on its much-delayed medical marijuana ordinance most likely into next year, worried that the draft proposal could eliminate most dispensaries and lead to just a few "big-box" pot stores in isolated industrial areas.

The unexpected decision slowed the breakneck schedule the council had adhered to in recent weeks in its drive to pass an ordinance before the end of the year. The council has been on fast-forward since October, when a judge ruled that the city's moratorium on dispensaries was invalid, leaving Los Angeles with almost no power to shut down hundreds that have opened without permission in the last two years.

But key council members had second thoughts about the council's decision Tuesday to require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from any residences. The council, at the end of a marathon session, voted for the amendment even though city planners warned that it might eliminate most locations.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Dec 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Andres Oppenheimer

If you had asked me 10 years ago whether the United States will ever change its interdiction-focused counternarcotics policies -- and perhaps even decriminalize marijuana consumption at home -- I would have told you, "never." Today, I say, "perhaps."

Earlier this week, in a tacit admission that current U.S. anti-drug policies are not working, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to create an independent commission to review whether the U.S. anti-drug policies of the past three decades in Latin America are producing positive results.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where supporters say it has a good chance to pass, given its bipartisan support in the House. The 10-member panel, modeled after the 9/11 Commission that made recommendations to Congress and the White House after the 2001 terrorist attacks, would have to issue its report in 12 months.


Continues: :



The drug war brings more overkill, but also more profound cultural changes.


Pubdate: Wed, 09 Dec 2009
Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Copyright: 2009 The Anchorage Daily News

There's a fair argument that anyone who signs up to run the Iditarod sled dog race should be drug-tested. It could be one of those "red flags" that something is amiss. Say, "I want to drive a dog team 1,100 miles across Alaska's frozen wilderness to Nome," and the reaction might well be, "You need help."

Now mushers will have to undergo testing to make sure they're as clean as the driven snow when they ride the runners.

Three-time champion Lance Mackey, who has twice won the Yukon Quest and Iditarod in the same year, has a medical marijuana user's card and says he's smoked on the trail. He scoffs at the testing plan but says he'll mush by the rules and won't seek a therapeutic exemption.

Some may find Mackey's marijuana use disturbing. Others may want a shot at what he's smoking.

During the Civil War some complained to President Lincoln about the alleged drinking of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln supposedly replied, "If it [drink] makes fighting men like Grant, then find out what he drinks, and send my other commanders a case!"

There's another fair argument that the race itself is a mind-altering experience more powerful than most drugs. Sleeplessness, cold, relentless need to care for dogs, fierce competition, lost trails and busted sleds all conspire to rob a musher of his faculties. "Lies or delirium" is how musher Ernie Baumgartner once described anything a musher said in the latter stages of the race.

Mushers hallucinate on the trail for a reason, and it has little to do with anything they're smoking. Sleep deprivation is more dangerous than marijuana.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Tue, 8 Dec 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Randal C. Archibold

PALMDALE, Calif. -- To help spot and track smugglers, the Homeland Security Department is expanding its use of drones, the unmanned aircraft widely used in Iraq and other war zones, beyond the Mexican and Canadian borders to the Caribbean and possibly other seas.

The department, through its Customs and Border Protection division, already operates five of the aircraft, known as the Predator B, along the Southwest border from a base in Arizona and the Canadian border from an installation in North Dakota.

Like the drones used by the military, these drones can fly long ranges at high altitudes and are difficult to detect. But the drones that have been used at the border since 2005 are for surveillance and tracking and do not carry weapons.

The department on Monday unveiled a new drone loaded with special radar, cameras and sensors. Built for $13.5 million by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems here, it is designed for maritime use. It features wide-range radar that gives a more sweeping view of the ocean than any of the government's fleet of manned aircraft.

The first maritime drones, about the size of a small turbo-prop commuter plane, will start flying in January off Florida, a smuggling hotbed.

A second drone is scheduled to take flight by summer in the Gulf of Mexico.




Pubdate: Mon, 7 Dec 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Jill Leovy

Santa Muerte Is Linked to Narcotics Trafficking in Mexico. As It Moves North, the Sect Takes on a New Age Glow.

The prayer in Spanish sounded like one from an ordinary Catholic Mass. But the man who led it wore a coyote-skin headdress and called himself the last of 13 generations of brujosbrujos -- witch doctors - -- in his family.

The name the worshipers invoked was not that of the Virgin Mary but of Santa Muerte, or "Holy Death," a Mexican folk saint linked to narcotics trafficking, a kind of female grim reaper with a skull for a face.

About two dozen devotees recited a rosary and stood and sat on cue to offer praise to this unconventional icon one Sunday at a storefront shrine near MacArthur Park.

"Angel created by faith," they chanted, "allow the power in me to be released."

Santa Muerte is not a Catholic saint, and in recent decades her popularity in Mexico, especially among the poor and criminal classes, has led to clashes with church officials and government authorities. Her first adherents included Mexican prisoners, drug dealers and prostitutes, and those in legitimate but dangerous nighttime work, such as security guards and taxi drivers.

"It's sort of like the Virgin for people on the edge," said Patrick A. Polk, a folklorist and curator at UCLA's Fowler Museum.

But in and around Los Angeles, where Santa Muerte services are held in at least three storefront shrines, a dash of pop theology and Southern California sunshine seems to have given the movement a mild New Age flavor.

Followers, many of whom call themselves Catholics, talk less about death than about cleansing the spirit and developing inner strength.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Sat, 05 Dec 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Ramon Renteria, El Paso Times

Business, Culture, War

People on both sides of the United States-Mexico border used to routinely discuss drug trafficking with UTEP professor Howard Campbell as if it were just a fact of life -- no big deal.

Then, drug-related killings in Juarez started spiraling out of control two years ago, and the illegal drug trade became something more sinister.

The situation in Juarez has become a war, in Campbell's words, a mercenary business where people are sacrificed for money or even because of suspicions that they know something they shouldn't know.

"The whole thing has deteriorated and it's ruining Juarez," Campbell said in a recent interview at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he is a professor in the department of sociology and anthropology.

Campbell offers a series of poignant dispatches from the streets of El Paso and Juarez in his recently published book "Drug War Zone" (University of Texas Press, $24.95 paperback, $60 hardcover).

"It's hard these days to be an independent operator because these huge drug cartels control the streets through violent force," Campbell said.

The book portrays what it's like to be a drug smuggler, from the lowest "mule" to the higher-level decision-maker. Almost all the stories do not have happy endings.

Campbell also tells the story of law-enforcement officers trying to stop drug smuggling on both sides of the border.

"Through those stories I'm trying to show what the world of drug trafficking is like on the inside and also from a cultural perspective," Campbell said. "I'm giving a perspective that hasn't come out very often."

Campbell, an anthropologist, became fascinated reading about drug traffickers and the criminal underworld in Mexican newspapers and magazines while living in Mexico City in the early 1980s.

He discovered he was surrounded by the drug culture when he moved to the border 18 years ago to teach at UTEP. Some students from Juarez revealed they either had relatives in the drug trade or knew someone who was involved.

Campbell decided to seriously study the situation when drug-related violence first started to heat up in Juarez in 1997-98. He started collecting and analyzing stories that different people were telling him. He also wrote articles about narco folklore on the border and women involved in drug trafficking.

"I found the whole thing fascinating from a cultural standpoint," he said. "It was more than just business. It was a whole way of life."




In Pennsylvania, a new report suggests that mandatory minimums and related get-tough measures are a waste of resources. The legislature may actually act on the information. Elsewhere, corruption is suspected in North Carolina and significant hyperbole is employed by police in Illinois. And, finally, a very short, but very conflicted report on an incident of drug law enforcement violence out of Nepal.


Pubdate: Mon, 7 Dec 2009
Source: Delaware County Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Times
Author: Alex Rose

A Mandatory Debate:

A nearly 30-year debate on mandatory-minimum sentences recently got a another look with a new report from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

The report was authorized by the state Legislature in 2007 and employed an advisory committee made up of legislators, judges, district attorneys and public defenders. Commission staff also worked with faculty and students of Pennsylvania State University in conducting interviews, surveys, extensive data analysis and studies to reach its conclusions.

The nearly 500-page report made three major recommendations to the General Assembly, according to a considerably shorter summary: Allow courts to use alternative sentencing options to satisfy lower-level, drug-trafficking mandatory-minimum sentences; amend the drug trafficking statute to increase the threshold for cocaine possession; and repeal Drug-Free School Zone mandatory legislation.

State mandatory-minimum laws first enacted in 1982 provided stiff sentences for certain crimes, such as those committed on public transportation or with a firearm. The laws were later expanded to include certain drug and assault offenses.

Mark Bergstrom, executive director of the commission, said the study was intended to identify whether those mandates are meeting the intended purposes for their implementation, such as uniformity of incarceration, deterrence and reduction of recidivism (repeated criminal activity resulting in incarceration).

The study found neither length of sentence nor imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence alone was related to recidivism, according to the summary.



 (10) FEDS BUST DEPUTY  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 3 Dec 2009
Source: Hickory Daily Record (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Hickory Daily Record
Author: Sarah Newell Williamson

A former Catawba County sheriff's deputy is charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine in Catawba County, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal district court.

Brandon Lee Evans, 27, of Hickory, worked with the sheriff's office from Oct. 13, 2008, until Monday as a part-time bailiff in the courthouse. According to the criminal complaint, Evans conducted narcotics activity as early as 2008 through Monday, sometimes while wearing his uniform.

The complaint alleges he conspired with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing at least five kilograms (about 11 pounds) of a mixture and substance containing cocaine.

Evans had his initial court appearance on Tuesday. He is being detained until Friday, when he will have his next court appearance, said Suellen Pierce, with the U.S. Attorney's Office for North Carolina's western district. Bond could be set at that hearing.



 (11) DRUG BUST NETS $100,000 CASH  ( Top )

Pubdate: Tue, 1 Dec 2009
Source: Journal Gazette (Mattoon, IL)
Copyright: 2009sJournal Gazette
Author: Herb Meeker

MATTOON -- Area law officers claim a marijuana arrest last week put a major dent in the drug trade for Central Illinois.

[redacted] faces delivery of cannabis charges for a Nov. 23 East Central Illinois Task Force arrest in the Mattoon Steak N Shake parking lot. Officers confiscated 1.25 pounds of cannabis and $100,030 in cash, according to Coles County Circuit Court documents.

"This guy was obviously a major supplier," said Coles County Sheriff Darrell Cox after a press conference Monday at Mattoon Police Department. "And the best part is we will be using the money to fight our war against this. This case is one of the reasons we have the task force. And this was the second-largest amount of cash seized by the task force in its history."



Pubdate: Thu, 03 Dec 2009
Source: Himalayan Times, The (Nepal)
Copyright: 2009 The Himalayan Times
Author: Ravi Dahal

BIRGUNJ: One person was killed in police gunfire that in a clash between the police and hashish dealers on Thursday night in Mahadevpatti VDC, Parsa.

A police team from Suwarnapur Police Office which was mobilised after receiving information that a large amount of hashish was being smuggled in a tractor engaged in a clash with the drug dealers. Asharfi Mahato Kewat, 32, of Janaki Tola VDC who was injured in the gunfire died on the way to hospital, informed police inspector Bhuwaneshwor Shah. Shah claimed that the police team was compelled to open fire in retaliation after the dealers began shooting at them. The tractor used by the dealers is in police custody.

In contradiction to the police claim, the locals said that the police killed Mahato in their custody after a disagreement. The locals further claimed that the drug dealers are being protected by the police themselves in return for a hefty bribe and when they fail to pay the requisite amount such incidents were not uncommon.



The optics are looking very bad in New Jersey where the state is zealously pursuing "a severe, inappropriate, discompassionate and inhumane application of the letter of the law."

A refreshingly open-minded yet skeptical column by a newcomer to the concept of cannabis legalization.

As more and more states regulate medicinal cannabis under the benign indifference of the Obama administration, entrepreneurs are pondering nationwide enterprises to cash in.

The Canadian Senate made some minor adjustments to an irrevocably flawed and blatantly political bill that would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences, and increase maximum sentences, for cannabis cultivation and trafficking.


Pubdate: Wed, 09 Dec 2009
Source: Times, The (Trenton, NJ)
Copyright: 2009 The Times
Author: Edward R. Hannaman

If you want to watch a trial where the defendant has no moral culpability, is prevented from testifying truthfully and where the prosecution distorts an otherwise reasonable law beyond all rationality, you can see one this month right in Somerville. John Wilson, a multiple sclerosis patient treating himself with home-grown marijuana, is charged with operating a drug manufacturing facility. There is no charge, nor any evidence whatsoever, that he supplied or intended to supply marijuana to anyone but himself.

An individual with no prior record growing marijuana plants for home use should be eligible for pre-trial intervention; but this case is being handled by the state's Organized Crime/Gangs Unit. Wilson refused to plead guilty and accept several years in prison (a potential death sentence), so the state is seeking the maximum 20-year sentence. To justify its "manufacturing" charge, the state determined that every day a plant grew constituted a separate offense. It matters not a whit that the statute (N.J.S.A.2C:35-1.1 et seq.) is intended to combat drug distribution chains and those who pose the greatest danger to society. It ignores a statutory intent focused on harm to victims and the actor's role in a drug distribution network. Section 4 of the statute even excludes coverage where an individual is compounding or preparing the substance for his own use.

The state senators who sponsored our long-overdue and aptly named Compassionate Use Act passionately expressed their dismay over this prosecution, calling it "a severe, inappropriate, discompassionate and inhumane application of the letter of the law."


Edward R. Hannaman, an attorney from Ewing, is a member of the board of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ).



Pubdate: Tue, 08 Dec 2009
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Lori Pyter

The idea of legalizing marijuana has never been something I have seriously considered. More recently, as the issue of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Wisconsin has become a realistic possibility, and one that I support, I began exploring the pros and cons more carefully. In this process, I learned that Wisconsin was actually the 33rd state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1982, although the statutes later were changed. I wonder why that happened.

Many experts believe that marijuana is no more harmful than other drugs that we legally use regularly, such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and some prescription medications. Many believe that when used in moderation, marijuana is actually less harmful, although that likely is true for just about everything.

Others believe that marijuana is the stepping stone to hard drug use, including cocaine or heroin. Wisconsinites already have major problems with drunken drivers and alcohol-related tragedies, and I'm worried about compounding the dangers with stoned driving - not that this isn't happening already. I wonder just how many people are driving their kids to and from school under the influence of Valium, Xanax, Percocet and the plethora of mind-altering medications prescribed to millions. I'm not sure if, or how, marijuana is different from that.


Lori Pyter of Germantown is a licensed psychologist.



Pubdate: Sat, 05 Dec 2009
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2009 Florida Today
Details: Author: Patrick Peterson, Florida Today
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)

Local Company Looks Into Providing Medical Marijuana

Seeing an economic opportunity in medical marijuana, a health consulting company based in Indian Harbour Beach believes there is money to be made as several states and the federal government ease rules on the medicinal plant.

"We are approaching all 13 states where it's legal right now and working through the legalities of it," said Thomas Gaffney, president and CEO of Health Sciences Group Inc. "We are certainly preparing for the day it goes nationwide, and I'm sure it will."

The company is studying laws in states where it's legal to grow and dispense marijuana for medical use and is making plans to get a piece of the action by growing, transporting and selling marijuana to those with a prescription.

Though most state rules require nonprofit status for these operations, the company could make money by providing services to the dispensaries.

"It's wide open," Gaffney said. "The first people in the door make the money in it. It's a multimillion dollar business."

Health Science Group's attorney is investigating how to obtain licensing for growing and dispensing medical marijuana in California, including possibly forming a nonprofit organization.




Pubdate: Thu, 10 Dec 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Katie Mercer, with a file from Canwest News Service

The Senate has watered down a proposed law-and-order bill by axing a requirement that smalltime marijuana growers serve a mandatory minimum six-month sentence.

Vancouver police Insp. Brad Desmarais said Wednesday that the department can't support the Senate's amendments to the drug legislation.

The law - controversial Bill C-15 - was designed to sentence growers caught with as few as five pot plants to jail for a mandatory minimum six-month sentence.

By a 49-43 margin, the Senate committee accepted a proposal Wednesday to raise the bar to more than 201 plants, instead of the original proposal.

The amendment leaves sentencing of growers with five to 200 plants up to the individual judge's discretion.

"I suspect if this amendment passes we will see even more manifestly unsafe grows occurring," said Desmarais, leader of the VPD's drug and anti-gang squad.

Desmarais said without minimum sentencing, criminals will see small grow-ops with under 200 plants as a "commercially viable option" because they will face less of a penalty.


Opponents warned the bill, if passed, would flood jails and imprison drug addicts and young people rather than drug kingpins, who will continue to thrive, while small-time dealers are knocked out of commission.




Amnesty International this week released a report on allegations of Mexican Army drug war human-rights abuse, including extrajudicial killings and torture. "The organization understands that law enforcement duties in such situations are difficult and dangerous for those charged with improving public security conditions. Nevertheless, crime cannot be fought with crime."

A study from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction issued last week, says U.K. youth top the list when it comes to drugs-taking. "Five per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Britain have dabbled in cocaine." Spain also scored high on the list of teen-aged non-abstainers.

The surveillance state which has increasingly choked the U.K. with cameras to spy on citizens many times each day, has accomplished another feat: scaring off addicts from needle exchanges. In Inverness, according to "a city councillor and former police officer" some addicts are refusing use needle exchanges because of police presence. "[I]t is vitally important," said Scottish National Party councillor John Finnie, "the police do nothing which might restrict access to this vital service."

And from British Columbia, Canada, researchers from the University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research report this week that drinking booze is on the increase, while cannabis use is declining in the province. B.C. alcohol drinking had risen 16 percent in the last nine years, resulting in a similar percentage increase in those treated at hospitals due to alcohol.


Pubdate: Tue, 8 Dec 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Marc Lacey

CULIACAN, Mexico -- The steady drumbeat of complaints against Mexico's army is expected to continue Tuesday, when Amnesty International is scheduled to release a report raising allegations of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detentions against soldiers engaged in the nation's drug war.


"Amnesty International recognizes the serious challenge to public security facing the Mexican government and its responsibility to protect the population and integrity of state institutions," the report says. "The organization understands that law enforcement duties in such situations are difficult and dangerous for those charged with improving public security conditions. Nevertheless, crime cannot be fought with crime."

The State Department in August issued a report saying that accusations of army abuses had risen sixfold in the two years since President Felipe Calderon's offensive against drug cartels began in 2006. The report, however, concluded that Mexico was taking measures to address the problem and that American counternarcotics assistance should not be held back as a result of the allegations.




Pubdate: Sun, 06 Dec 2009
Source: Sunday Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: Telegraph Group Limited 2009
Author: Richard Alleyne

One in 20 15 year-olds in Britain has tried cocaine, according to a new report.

The figure means Britain is at the top of the European league when it comes to illegal drug use amongst teenagers, says the study.

Five per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Britain have dabbled in cocaine - that's around 75,000 teenagers.

The only other European country to have such a huge cocaine problem is Spain, where more young people and adults were found to have taken the drug than anywhere else in the world, including America.

The report was published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.


It said four per cent of youngsters had taken Ecstasy and almost three in 10 had tried cannabis.

The World Drug Report 2009 disclosed that cocaine use increased dramatically in the UK from the mid-1990s, but remained stable over the past two years.




Pubdate: Sat, 5 Dec 2009
Source: Press and Journal, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Aberdeen Journals Ltd


Health workers fear people are shunning the centre in Inverness because they are worried about officers keeping them under surveillance.


According to a city councillor and former police officer, some drug injectors are staying away from the Waterloo Place centre because of the police presence.


SNP councillor John Finnie praised the efforts of the police and health agencies to tackle intravenous drug use, but urged officers not to deter addicts from seeking help at the needle exchange service.

He said: "While no one is suggesting 'no go' areas for the police, it is vitally important the police do nothing which might restrict access to this vital service.

"Clear guidelines exist regarding surveillance operations and they include the need to consider wider community risks."


There are similar facilities in Nairn and Rosshire and pharmacies provide needle exchanges in Inverness, Nairn, Fort William, Tain, Alness, Wick, Kyle and Portree.



Pubdate: Wed, 09 Dec 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist

British Columbians' consumption of alcohol is up, while marijuana and crystal meth use is down, say researchers at the University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research.


They announced yesterday that British Columbians' alcohol consumption has risen 16 per cent since 1998, almost twice the nine per cent increase seen in the rest of Canada, leading to a 17 per cent increase in the number of people hospitalized because of alcohol.

While use of marijuana and crystal meth (methamphetamine) is down, use of crack cocaine, ecstasy and prescription medication is up.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Charmie Gholson

Activists get the DEA to remove obsolete information from its website claiming that the American Medical Association (AMA) still opposes medical marijuana


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #612

US House and Senate negotiators in conference committee approved the finishing touches on the Fiscal Year 2010 budget Tuesday night, and they included a number of early Christmas presents for different drug reform constituencies.


A feature story from a Phoenix news station regarding the movement to legalize marijuana so that people have a safer alternative to alcohol. It features SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert and his mom, Diane, discussing the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol, as well as the efforts underway to end marijuana prohibition so that people are no longer being steered toward drinking and away from making the safer choice.


by Ben Morris

Congress released the language of a long anticipated bill today that, among other things, will lift the ban on Washington, D.C.'s medical marijuana law. D.C. is now one big step closer to protecting patients from arrest and jail for using marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.


Century of Lies - 12/06/09 - Bruce Mirken

Bruce Mirken, outgoing director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project re his 8 years serving drug reform + Jack Cole, Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 12/06/09 - Mason Tvert

Mason Tvert, director of Safer Choice in Colorado discusses progress in fighting reefer madness


Many adults in the United States are willing to legalize marijuana, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 53 per cent of respondents support this notion, while 43 per cent are opposed.


By Daniela Perdomo

Why women have signed onto marijuana reform -- and why they could be the movement's game-changers.


A new report by Harvard Professor Jeffrey Miron builds on his earlier work focused solely on marijuana legalization. Starting on page nine, it discusses how to explore the complex issue of tax revenue that could be generated by legalized and regulated drugs.


"Individuals who use drugs do not forfeit their human rights ... Too often, drug users suffer discrimination, are forced to accept treatment, marginalized and often harmed by approaches which over- emphasize criminalization and punishment while under-emphasizing harm reduction and respect for human rights."

Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2009


Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel travels to southern Italy to investigate how Europe's growing appetite for cocaine is funding the growth of West African crime syndicates and fueling a turf war with Italy's largest mafia organization, the Camorra.



An upcoming compilation of essays will highlight the impacts of the war on drugs from the perspectives of children and young people. You can submit a proposal for an essay until January 29, 2010.


Students for Sensible Drug Policy is one day away from winning $25,000 through a voting competition on Facebook! Help us spread the word to your friends - we need all the votes we can get!

Ask your facebook friends to vote for us by sending them this link:

We're ranked in the top 100 now -- if we can keep that position by Friday at midnight, we'll win $25K and be entered into the next round of voting for a chance at $1 Million! That's a lot of money that can be used to challenge the War on Drugs.



By Norman Michael Harman

George F. Will is right ["Rocky Mountain high," op-ed, Nov. 29]: The medical marijuana movement is partly a fiction, a stand-in for legalization. This is not to say that marijuana does not relieve a wide range of ailments. It does. But if Mr. Will and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers believe that medical marijuana will cause people to lose faith in the legal system and "care less as law itself loses its dignity," they are living in their own fictional world.

The fact that tens of millions of Americans use marijuana -- for medical purposes or otherwise -- is testament to the disrespect for some laws that marijuana prohibition engenders. This disrespect didn't start with the medical marijuana reforms; it has been going on since the misinformation and outright lies that were used to drum up support for marijuana prohibition were accepted by a gullible Congress in the 1930s.

It's time to rectify both fictions -- medical marijuana and prohibition -- through full legalization.

Norman Michael Harman Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Pubdate: Sun, 6 Dec 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)


President Obama: A Plea For Peace At Home  ( Top )

by Chris Goldstein

In my opinion, the Nobel Peace Prize is well awarded. It may also be the strongest-ever political act of the premier peace-forwarding organization in the world. They offer the prize to President Obama not only for his achievements but also as an allotment of authority to work on the world stage, at a time when he needs it.

Here the Nobel Prize is not a symbol of recognition but a vehicle to end wars.

Many were surprised by the announcement. But I think we lose perspective on how momentous it is for an African American to be the leader of our powerful nation. Our President has shown himself to be quite adept at his job. His time in office so far, less than a year, has hinted at an influential presidency. The world looks at all of this, rightly so, as a major shift in the global political landscape.

As a journalist and radio broadcaster I have intensely covered the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 I interviewed Mozzam Begg, a British citizen who was one of the first people actually released from Guantanimo Bay. The interview with Begg on his nightmare memoir Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanimo, Bagram and Kandahar was one of the most haunting conversations of my life. Mozzam is an innocent man who had endured some of the ultimate tortures of the body, mind and soul at the very hands of our country.

That interview and interacting with dozens of soldiers from both conflicts instilled a deep desire in me for our nation to end our large scale involvement.

But one ongoing conflict I covered as a journalist then became an advocate for takes place all around us every day: The so-called `war on drugs' where marijuana smokers are the main target.

About 850,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana violations each year. More than for all other drugs combined. Most of the pot arrests (89%) are made for simple possession by state and local authorities. Disturbingly, in urban areas, minor marijuana violation enforcement is racially disparate. New York City and Philadelphia are dire examples of this trend with 90% and 75% of pot arrests respectively being young men of color.

Underground, domestic marijuana production remains this nation's top cash crop. Over 100 million Americans have admitted to trying marijuana and there could be from 25-70 million regular consumers. Currently thirteen states have authorized medical marijuana programs. Some states such as California and Rhode Island allow for the sale of medical marijuana. Now, California is in the midst of a serious political drive to legalize cannabis outright for general production and sale to adults.

Instead of embracing this vast untapped economic and healthcare resource, we continue our iron fist of federal prohibition. In 1972 the Presidential Commission on Marihuana recommended that pot be removed from Schedule I in the Controlled Substances Act and that personal use be decriminalized. President Nixon knew that marijuana enforcement could be used as a tool of force and ignored his own commission.

President Obama could enact a new commission to re-evaluate the issue. Perhaps he could make a more informed decision from the White House about this vital social justice policy.

We oppress tens of millions of our citizens each day and coldly ignore the benefits of cannabis. Marijuana prohibition has now become the most wasteful and harmful domestic government policy in American history. The billions of dollars we expend each year on all levels of government makes the vast scale of the marijuana policy tragedy reach into every single household in the country.

We make refugees of the sick and dying. Those with serious medical conditions, who can afford to do so, tear themselves away from their homes and families to flee to the states that do not persecute their citizens for choosing cannabis therapy. They run to a proven treatment for pain, cancers, MS, HIV and other conditions.

The out-of-step laws of prohibition are used to terrorize tens of thousands of our own otherwise law-abiding citizens each year, most of them are the youth of this nation. We bring down all of our precious modern criminal justice resources on our fellow Americans who choose to partake in a substance less harmful than alcohol. . The conflicts around the globe will take a major strategic effort to untangle. Yet the issue of our backward marijuana policy is something that has clear and easy solutions.

Some US States already lead by example and can showcase the positive effects of abandoning marijuana prohibition. Other countries such as Mexico, Portugal and Argentina have now decriminalized cannabis and we must look carefully at their new approach.

President Obama, please work at ending marijuana prohibition in the United States.

Please end this senseless war on our own citizens.

Changing cannabis policy can bring us tangible peace on our own ground.

Please let this Nobel Peace Prize work here at home.

Chris Goldstein is a public radio broadcaster, writer and marijuana reform advocate. He hosts Active Voice Radio, a weekly social justice interview program. This piece originally appeared at


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