READERS, PLEASE NOTE: DrugSense Weekly will mark the festive season with a short hiatus, but we will return with a new edition Jan. 8. The DrugSense staff wishes holiday happiness to all our readers as well as the generous volunteers and contributors who make this work possible.
This Just In
(1)Mexican Military's Raid Kills Reputed Drug Cartel Leader
(2)Hired By Customs, But Working For The Cartels
(3)Editorial: Not About 'Getting High'
(4)Ill Somerset County Man Found Not Guilty Of Operating Marijuana Facility

Hot Off The 'Net
-Let's Not Stop At Marijuana Legalization / Norm Stamper
-Congress Gets Its Act Together / Bill Piper And Naomi Long
-Legal Ease With Kirk Tousaw
-Drug Truth Network
-US Takes A Long Hard Look At The War On Drugs
-The Year On Drugs 2009: International Drug Policy Developments
-President Obama: Free The Medical Marijuana Researchers!

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY The death of a notorious drug lord in a shootout with Mexican commandos dealt a blow to organized crime in Mexico but will probably lead to a new surge of violence as rivals battle to fill a power void, U.S. and Mexican authorities said Thursday.

Arturo Beltran Leyva, regarded as one of the top three traffickers in Mexico and leader of one of its most violent cartels, the Beltran Leyva organization, was killed late Wednesday during a four-hour gunbattle involving 400 Mexican army and navy commandos.

Analysts said the use of navy commandos was a notable development in the drug war because they are regarded as elite fighters who operate beyond the reach of corrupting influences.

In addition to Beltran Leyva, three other cartel members were killed in the shootout in the city of Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. A fourth gunman apparently committed suicide, throwing himself from a high-rise building in which the cartel leader and his guards were holed up.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Randal C. Archibold

War Without Borders

SAN DIEGO -- At first, Luis F. Alarid seemed well on his way to becoming a customs agency success story. He had risen from a childhood of poverty and foster homes, some of them abusive, earned praise and commendations while serving in the Army and the Marines, including two tours in Iraq, and returned to Southern California to fulfill a goal of serving in law enforcement.

But, early last year, after just a few months as a customs inspector, he was waving in trucks from Mexico carrying loads of marijuana and illegal immigrants. He pocketed some $200,000 in cash that paid for, as far as the government could tell, a $15,000 motorcycle, flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer and more.

Some investigators believe that Mr. Alarid, 32, who was paid off by a Mexican smuggling crew that included several members of his family, intended to work for smugglers all along. At one point, Mr. Alarid, who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison in February, told investigators that he had researched just how much prison time he might get for his crimes and believed, as investigators later reported, that he could do it "standing on his head."

Mr. Alarid's case is not the only one that has law enforcement officials worried that Mexican traffickers -- facing beefed-up security on the border that now includes miles of new fencing, floodlights, drones, motion sensors and cameras -- have stepped up their efforts to corrupt the border police.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Journal Sentinel Inc.

A medical marijuana bill is crafted to take care of concerns about creeping legalization and the medical science involved

Wisconsin's Legislature should outlaw prescription drugs. History demonstrates that they will be abused - too often used simply for a high and to feed addictions.

And this, of course, would be ludicrous. The benefits - in offering relief from maladies minor to deadly - outweigh the risks.

The same is true in the case of medical marijuana. A carefully crafted law can, as with prescription drugs, allow for access to the proven relief it allows and make it clear that its abuse is still illegal and can be prosecuted.

Such a law has, in fact, been crafted by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee). The legislation got its first hearing Tuesday before the Assembly and Senate health committees.




Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2009 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Jennifer Golson, The Star-Ledger

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP -- A multiple sclerosis patient held up as a symbol of the medical marijuana movement in New Jersey was cleared of the most serious charge against him today, with jurors finding the man's backyard pot plants didn't amount to a big-time drug operation.

But John Ray Wilson, 37, could still face significant prison time under the split verdict reached by a jury in Somerville. While Wilson was acquitted of operating a drug-manufacturing facility, a first-degree crime that carries a potential 20-year sentence, jurors found him guilty of second-degree manufacturing and third-degree drug possession. He now faces five to 10 years in prison.

Wilson, who had 17 marijuana plants in the yard of his Franklin Township home when police arrested him in August 2008, had no visible reaction to the verdict. His lawyer, James Wronko, said he was "satisfied" with the decision, noting the second-degree count does not carry a period of parole ineligibility.

"We have the ability to ask for a probationary sentence and, in short, we will argue that his medical condition as reasons for growing would overcome the presumption of incarceration," Wronko said.

Given Wilson's multiple sclerosis, the lawyer said, the longer sentence "would have been incredibly difficult for him to endure."

"The family and John were scared that a conviction on the most serious charge may have been possibly akin to a death sentence," he said.

Wilson's case has resonated on both sides of the medical marijuana debate in recent months as state lawmakers consider passage of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which would give those with debilitating diseases structured access to the drug.





The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if unauthorized possession of a single Xanax tablet is grounds for deportation. In the Southwest, some allege that Mexican drug cartels are exerting influence over politics in some small towns, but little evidence is offered to support the idea. And, students at another university want cannabis and alcohol penalties equalized; while a former councilman in Hartford suggests that new drug policy could cut crime.


Pubdate: Tue, 15 Dec 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: David G. Savage, Reporting from Washington

The Legal Resident of Texas Is Being Sent to Mexico After Two Misdemeanor Drug Convictions.

The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider whether a strict immigration law called for deporting noncitizens convicted of repeat misdemeanor drug offenses.

The case before the court involves a legal immigrant from Texas who pleaded guilty to possessing less than two ounces of marijuana and later pleaded guilty to possessing a single tablet of Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.

Although the convictions were minor, judges in some regions have ruled that two misdemeanor convictions for drug possession can count as an "aggravated felony," which is grounds for deportation.

Lawyers for several immigrant rights groups appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing it did not make sense to say drug possession was the same as a serious offense, such as drug trafficking.

The justices voted to hear the case of Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, who had lived in Texas since he was 4 and had been a lawful resident since 1993.

After Carachuri-Rosendo pleaded guilty to having the Xanax tablet, a federal immigration judge said he was due to be deported to Mexico because of his aggravated felony.




Pubdate: Sat, 12 Dec 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez

EL PASO - Mexican drug cartels are helping elect and influence politicians in U.S. communities to advance their criminal activities, an expert on international gangs alleged.

Richard Valdemar, a retired California law enforcement officer, said authorities in California gathered intelligence showing that the cartels are corrupting American politicians to gain a foothold in the Southwestern United States.

Previous investigations showed that the Carrillo Fuentes, Arellano Felix and Sinaloan drug cartels targeted Southern California cities including South Gate, Hawaiian Gardens and Bell Gardens.

"Their efforts to influence and control these communities began in the 1980s, but investigators did not detect the trend until the 1990s," said Valdemar, who retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after 33 years in 2004. He was also on a multi-agency investigative task force for 12 years.

"Some of the communities got cleaned up and some didn't," said Valdemar, who appears regularly on TV specials about gangs and other organized criminals.

The influence of gangs on politics is not suspected in El Paso, but gang experts said it could easily happen here.




Pubdate: Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Summit Daily News

DURANGO (AP) - Students at Fort Lewis College want the penalty for smoking pot to be the same as the punishment for underage drinking.

A student group at the Durango school is asking for a change to policies about marijuana. Students who violate alcohol policies now are given "three strikes" before they're suspended or kicked out of housing. But there is no "three strikes" analogy for students caught using pot illegally.

"We believe marijuana is safer than alcohol and should be treated that way," said senior Marissa Williams, president of a pro-marijuana group called SAFER.

College spokesman Mitch Davis said marijuana offenses are handled on a case-by-case basis but are generally considered more serious than alcohol violations. That's because marijuana is illegal for people without medical clearance to use it.

Now that Colorado allows medical marijuana for certain conditions, Fort Lewis College does allow some to use pot on campus.




Pubdate: Sun, 13 Dec 2009
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2009 The Hartford Courant
Author: Bob Painter

Losing a Costly Battle

Taking the control of Hartford's $42 million drug market from criminals and placing it in the hands of citizens who will be responsible for regulating it seems a strikingly sensible strategy.

Unless we try a new approach that includes regulating and taxing the use of marijuana, and emphasizing harm reduction measures for problem drug users by getting them into treatment rather than jail, the trade in illegal drugs will continue to ravage our Capital. Although the serious crime rate is lower, homicides (directly related to the drug trade) are up. While large employers, cultural institutions and excellent restaurants attract many visitors to Hartford daily, hundreds more stay away for fear of violence.

New downtown housing has attracted many young professionals and empty nesters to the city. Many potential residents, however, stay away, inhibiting needed downtown retail development. The fear of crime, spawned mostly by the illegal drug market, is considered by experts to be the single greatest barrier to economic development in our cities.

In my research at Central Connecticut State University, I have attempted to quantify the cost of drug enforcement and to gather information concerning drug use from federal, state and city statistics. This kind of specific data about Hartford is not readily available and I was conservative in my calculations.

To determine how much money is exchanged to purchase drugs in Hartford, for example, I used data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Census Bureau and my academic research. The calculations show illegal drug purchases in Hartford total a startling $42 million annually. This would be a good gross income for a successful Walmart. Unlike Walmart, this is an untaxed criminal enterprise.


Continues: :


The police union in Houston, Texas is having a fit as a district attorney has decided not to file felony charges against those found with only a trace (less than a hundredth of a gram) of crack. In Milwaukee, a newspaper alleges ties between state some subsidized daycare providers and drug dealers. In Missouri, another misguided effort to stop meth by making health care more expensive for everyone; and many seem surprised by a guilty plea in a high profile U.S. customs corruption case.


Pubdate: Wed, 9 Dec 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper

Author: Brian Rogers

Starting next year, the Harris County District Attorney's Office no longer will file state jail felony charges against suspects found with only a trace -- less than a hundreth of a gram -- of illegal drugs, District Attorney Pat Lykos said Tuesday.

Instead, people found with crack pipes with nothing more than residue inside or other drug paraphernalia, would face a ticket for a class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500.

Not surprisingly, the pending change was hailed by defense lawyers, but criticized by police officers.

"It ties the hands of the officers who are making crack pipe cases against burglars and thieves," said Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union. "A crack pipe is not used for anything but smoking crack by a crack head. Crack heads, by and large, are also thieves and burglars. They're out there committing crimes."




Pubdate: Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Raquel Rutledge, of the Journal Sentinel
Note: Journal Sentinel reporters Ben Poston and John Diedrich
contributed to this report.

Links Between Day Care Centers, Traffickers Common

More than a dozen Wisconsin child-care centers that reaped millions of dollars in state subsidies have had close ties to drug-dealing operations, including big-time crime bosses, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

The newspaper identified 16 child-care centers with recent connections to drug operations, and the number is likely much higher. Those 16 alone have collected more than $8.5million in public subsidies since 2006.

Records show many of those centers have been used to stash and transport drugs, launder dirty cash and provide fake employment for criminals - at taxpayers' expense.

In an ongoing investigation that has spanned more than a year, the Journal Sentinel has revealed rampant fraud within Wisconsin Shares, the state's $350 million child-care subsidy program. The investigation has spurred sweeping reforms by lawmakers and regulators, led to more than 130 child-care centers losing public funding and resulted in criminal charges against several providers.




Pubdate: Sun, 13 Dec 2009
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2009 The Kansas City Star
Author: Chris Blank, The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY - Amid a national push to make health care cheaper and simpler, Missouri is considering legislation that intentionally makes it a little more cumbersome.

State lawmakers have filed several bills for the 2010 session that would require a doctor's prescription to get certain cold and allergy medications that currently can be bought over the counter. Supporters hope that creating a new barrier to the medication will make it harder to get the pseudoephedrine used to make methamphetamine.

That Republicans and Democrats, House members and a senator all are proposing an extra step for Missourians seeking relief from colds and allergies, highlights the extent of the state's meth problem.

Missouri this year again is leading the nation by a large margin in meth lab incidents, which counts arrests, dump sites and seizures. Through late October, Missouri reported 1,099 incidents -- that's nearly 20 percent of the national total and almost 1 1/2 times the number of second place Indiana.

Since 2005, Missourians buying medications such as Sudafed, Claritin-D and Aleve Cold & Sinus that contain pseudoephedrine already have been required to sign a log book and have been restricted in how much they can buy. In 2008, lawmakers tried to go another step by setting up an electronic tracking system, but they did not immediately fund it.

Now several lawmakers are seeking more restrictions.

The Missouri State Medical Association, a critic of the legislation, contends requiring prescriptions would be a burden for both doctors and patients and would increase health care costs.




Pubdate: Sat, 12 Dec 2009
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2009 The Arizona Republic
Author: Robert Anglen, The Arizona Republic

Family, Friends Doubt Ties To Drug Traffickers

Richard Cramer was first a foot soldier and then a leader in the war on drugs. He once ran the Nogales office of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement and was twice assigned as an attache to Mexico.

Incorruptible, dedicated, tireless - a cop's cop. That's how Cramer's family and friends describe the Sahuarita resident.

But this week, Cramer's reputation was shattered when he admitted that he worked with Mexican drug dealers. In a Miami federal courthouse, Cramer, 56, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by helping two drug traffickers avoid arrest, a felony that carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

His plea makes Cramer one of the highest-ranking ICE officials to admit to or be convicted of corruption in the six years since the agency was created. And it raises questions about the ability of Mexican drug cartels to reach the upper echelons of U.S. law enforcement.

Cramer's supporters insisted that the charges were the product of overzealous investigators and prosecutors. They said he would never knowingly break the law.

"This goes counter to everything I know about Richard," Rene Andreu, a former assistant ICE chief who hired Cramer as a customs investigator in the early 1980s, said weeks before the plea. "If somehow, some way, he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, my paradigm on life itself will be changed."




Canadian columnist Mindelle Jacobs was mistaken in reporting that proposed amendments to bill C-15, which would mandate minimum prison sentences for cannabis cultivation, will exempt grow-ops of 200 plants or less. The minimums will still apply if one of several aggravating factors is involved, including use of a rental property, proximity to minors, the presence of a weapon, or a "potential" public safety hazard. But Jacob makes a good point that perhaps lumens are a better gage of production capacity than plant counts.

Add Arkansas to the list of over a dozen states looking at regulating medicinal cannabis.

Some L.A. city council ours are desperately trying to stuff the medicinal cannabis genie back into the bottle.

And finally, a little reefer madness to trigger your fight or flight reflex over the holidays, if you still retain any initiative and ambition to oppose cannabis prohibition.


Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Mindelle Jacobs

The Conservative government and the Liberal-dominated Senate may find this a buzz-kill but a drug expert says neither of their approaches to prosecuting pot producers makes sense.

Earlier this year, MPs passed a drug bill that included a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail for growing as few as five pot plants. Drug reform advocates slammed the legislation as draconian. Then the Senate began pruning the bill and just passed an amended version.

The rewritten bill would spare pot growers an automatic jail term unless they're caught cultivating more than 200 plants. The Senate has now punted the legislation back to the House of Commons where it could be gutted and redrafted.

Meanwhile, pot producers will merrily continue running their grow-ops and raking in astronomical amounts of tax-free money, people will continue smoking pot and getting cravings for the munchies and Canadians will continue wondering if all politicians are spaced out.

(In other words, are pot grow-ops a national priority compared to, say, joblessness, a floundering economy, a teetering health-care system or how we're going to afford to repair our crumbling infrastructure?)

But if our politicians insist on focusing on pot grow-ops, our laws should at least reflect the reality of marijuana cultivation.

That is, legislation should be based on the number of lights, not plants, says Darryl Plecas, director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Research at the University of the Fraser Valley.


Growers will simply adjust their cultivation patterns to reflect what's in the legislation, says Plecas. "The Senate could not have gone further to perpetuate the number and problem of grow operations."

Over the next couple of years, growers will just shift the way they operate -- fewer plants but more lights, he explains. "Why would somebody need to have 200 plants?"

And more lights will mean more theft of electricity and an increasing likelihood of fires, says Plecas.




Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2009
Source: Arkansas Times (Little Rock, AR)
Copyright: 2009 Arkansas Times Inc.
Author: Doug Smith

Many Are Ready, Including A Prominent Legislator.

State Sen. Randy Laverty of Jasper says that after the news media reported last month on his proposal to legalize medical marijuana, he got more response than on any issue he'd been associated with in his 15 years as a legislator -- telephone calls, e-mails and personal contact. "And it was all positive.

That never happens."

Laverty says that at the next regular legislative session, in 2011, he'll introduce a bill to permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The time may be ripe.

Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana. Maine became the latest last month, when voters approved it by a 59 percent majority.

At least a dozen more states seem headed toward legalization in the near future.

It was a full eight years ago that a University of Arkansas poll found 63 percent of Arkansans in favor of medical marijuana and 32 percent opposed. (The finding astounded, and was disputed by, a number of people, and seemed to go unnoticed by the legislature.) In 2004, drug- law reformers tried to put a medical-marijuana act on the general election ballot, but failed to obtain the required number of signatures. In the last couple of years, voters in Eureka Springs and Fayetteville have declared that enforcement of marijuana laws should be a low priority for law enforcement.

A few medical marijuana bills have been introduced in the legislature, but none ever got out of committee.

Those bills weren't sponsored by legislators as well-entrenched as Laverty.

Medical marijuana is part of a larger issue, Laverty says, but it's the part that can be achieved most quickly.




Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2009
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Rick Orlov, Staff Writer

Ordinance: Restrictions Could Close, Move All but Five Facilities, Officials Say

All but five of the city's estimated 800 to 1,000 medical marijuana clinics would be forced to shut down or move under the latest restrictions being considered by the Los Angeles City Council, officials said Wednesday.

The council had intended to reduce the number to no more than 137. But members learned that the actual rules they drafted, including keeping them away from schools and residential areas, went further than they intended, making almost all of the city off-limits to the dispensaries.

Despite mounting anger and frustration by both supporters and opponents of the clinics, the council pushed off final consideration of its law.

"This started four years ago and, somehow, four years later we have still not taken action," said Councilman Dennis Zine. "In that time, we have up to 1,000 illegal operations in the city. It is time for us to move forward."

Council members, however, pushed the matter over to Jan. 13, when they said they wanted to explore a full range of options on where the dispensaries can be located in the city.

Alan Bell of the city Planning Department said the latest proposal - preventing clinics from locating within 500 feet of residential areas and 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries and religious institutions - would result in a dramatic reduction of space where the clinics could locate.

"It would mean that 132 of the 137 clinics that the city considers as being properly registered would have to relocate," Bell said.




Pubdate: Wed, 16 Dec 2009
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2009 The Olympian
Author: Jill Wellock

I attended a rough junior high outside of San Jose, Calif., a school where the stoner girls at my ceramics table carved "Joe Elliot" into their forearms with wood screws to prove Def Leppard allegiance.

In eighth grade my friend started hanging out behind the portables with the stoners, which was weird because she was the school's star softball pitcher. She could swing her arm around so fast that I thought it might dislocate and fly off toward the bleachers.

She smoked pot before school every day. Before long she started missing practice, which didn't matter once her grades failed and she couldn't play softball. She had spent years perfecting that pitch.

My friend and I attended different high schools, but I saw her at the end of freshman year at the mall, about 20 pounds heavier, with greasy hair and dirty clothes. I asked a guy from her school what had happened, and he just said, "Burn out."

Gateway drug marijuana is now legal, used medicinally in Washington and 12 other states, with 15 states pending legislation for its medicinal use.

With California's new over-the-counter cannabis sales, marijuana dispensaries have appeared like pox. The Durango Herald reported Nov. 8, that in Los Angeles, dispensaries now outnumber Starbucks Coffee shops, and almost match the number of public schools.

It's real life reefer madness.




In Ontario, Canada, Judge J. Elliott Allen let too much information slip in a courtroom, and furious government prosecutors appealed what they felt was too lenient a sentence for growing (37 rows of) cannabis. Adding insult to injury, the Judge just had to say it out loud: "Nobody has been deterred. People have been going to jail for drug offences for... a couple of generations now and the drug... plague is worse than it ever was". An appeals court "rapped [Judge Allen's] knuckles" over his words, but allowed the grower's earlier conditional (non-jail) sentence to stand.

New Zealand officials this week used the Dominion Post newspaper to present the "alarming" news illegal Ecstasy (MDMA) is often adulterated with "a cocktail of other substances, including P (methamphetamine), BZP and mephedrone". Under prohibition, there is no standardization of dosage, no quality control, no government protection. "There is no such thing as the Consumer Guarantees Act for buying pills off some bloke in a leather jacket in an alleyway." As a result, people sometimes assume they're taking MDMA, when they're not.

In the Philippines, despite police death squads ever-ready to perform extra-legal executions of drug suspects in Davao City, authorities there seized 16 kilograms of cocaine last week. In a related story, a "confidential" Australian national police report said Australians are taking more cocaine than ever before. Around 2003, about 5 percent of seizures were cocaine, as opposed to about 25 percent this year.

And finally this week from Canada, a slightly less unreasonable Bill C-15 has emerged from the Canadian Senate this week, with watered-down mandatory minimums for cannabis growers (up from 5 to 200 plants), and a "a cost-benefit review of all minimum sentence provisions after five years," according to reports. Bill C-15, with mandatory minimums for a variety of cannabis "crimes", was introduced and pushed by conservatives led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mandatory minimums, ineffective as deterrent, change judges into rubber-stamps as prosecutors become de facto judges. Typically, prosecutors use mandatory minimums to coerce plea bargains, while punishing those requesting jury trials by piling on additional charges.


Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2009
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Sun Media
Author: Sam Pazzano

Ontario's Court of Appeal rapped the knuckles of a Brampton judge Wednesday for saying the country's pot laws are insane" and jail sentences don't stem the tide of marijuana use.

The appeal court said Judge J. Elliott Allen was bound by the law" and should have imposed a jail sentence instead of 12 months of house arrest on a Brampton marijuana producer.

Judges aren't permitted to let their personal views colour their sentences, wrote Justice Michael Moldaver of the Court of Appeal.

Allen made it clear he has "little use" for jail sentences for marijuana offences, Moldaver stated.

Allen declined to give jail time to Zeyu Song, despite his admission he ran a grow-op with 1,400 plants and stole $14,000 worth of hydro.

"Nobody has been deterred. People have been going to jail for drug offences for . . . a couple of generations now and the drug . . . plague is worse than it ever was," Allen said.

The grow-op offender had no record and Allen saw no benefit to society for jailing him.

The chances of a Dutch teenager smoking marijuana are substantially lower than they are of an American teenager smoking marijuana. And the Dutch teenager can walk down to the corner and get it at a coffee shop," Allen said.




Pubdate: Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2009 The Dominion Post
Author: Michael Fox

Ecstasy users are unwittingly taking other potentially more dangerous substances including P, as drug dealers become more reckless, officials warn.

The trend is increasing the chance of accidental overdose and causing concerns for law enforcement and health authorities.

Testing of what was believed to be ecstasy (MDMA) tablets by Environmental Science and Research, revealed a cocktail of other substances, including P (methamphetamine), BZP and mephedrone - linked to the death of a British 14-year-old girl last month.


"We are aware that tablets that are being sold as MDMA or ecstasy tablets don't actually contain ecstasy, or only a very small amount, or they may contain other ingredients such as BZP or other types of drugs," he said.


Wellington Hospital emergency physician and drug expert Paul Quigley said P was being sold as ecstasy as it had wider appeal as a party drug and could usually be sold for more.

"You can show people a pill and they'll go, 'Oh, it's ecstasy', and it's not. It could be anything. It could be ketamine, it could be milk powder, it could be Ajax.

"There is no such thing as the Consumer Guarantees Act for buying pills off some bloke in a leather jacket in an alleyway."

He said when authorities carried out a drugs bust it did not deter manufacturers. "They just start making any old rubbish, whatever they've got surplus of, press it into a nice tablet, add some food colouring and put a symbol on it and everyone thinks it's 'E'."




Pubdate: Sat, 12 Dec 2009
Source: Manila Bulletin (The Philippines)
Author: Mick M. Basa

DAVAO CITY The Davao City Police (DCPO) on Friday seized 16 kilos of high-grade cocaine found in the reefer machines of several container vans inside the Maersk container yard in Airport Road, Sasa, this city.

The discovery, which came right after an earlier operation on Wednesday night, was conducted around 12:30 Friday noon. [snip]

Police said the recovered cocaine would reach an estimated amount of P112 million with a street value of some P7 million per kilo.




Pubdate: Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 Herald and Weekly Times
Author: Charles Miranda, Herald Sun

AUSTRALIA will have a white Christmas - we are now the world's most profitable market for cocaine cartels.

A confidential Australian Federal Police report reveals a "generational shift" towards cocaine has pushed demand for the drug to unprecedented levels, with prices to match.


Between 2003 and 2006/7, cocaine accounted for about 5 per cent of drugs seized in Australia. By 2007/08 this had risen to 10 per cent. In 2008/09 it was 25 per cent.

The report was handed to AFP chiefs a week ago to help "evaluate the threat"' and allocate resources accordingly.




Pubdate: Tue, 15 Dec 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist


The Senate passed an amended version of the crime bill yesterday. It left the mandatory minimum provisions in place, but raised the threshold to 200 plants. That allows judges to make the decision about jail, based on the circumstances. There is no point -- and considerable expense and risk -- in sending a 19-year-old to prison for half-a-dozen scraggly pot plants.

The Senate amendments also require a cost-benefit review of all minimum sentence provisions after five years. Mandatory minimum sentences in other jurisdictions have produced great leaps in prison populations and no reduction in crime. The government has produced no studies to justify their expansion here.

The senators' amendments are welcome.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Norm Stamper

A new poll shows that most Americans are ready to legalize marijuana, but not drugs like cocaine or heroin. A 34-year police vet says it's time to legalize them all.


Repeals Ban on Syringe Exchange Funding, Allows D.C. to Enact Medical Marijuana Program

By Bill Piper and Naomi Long


Kirk discusses where Bill C-15, which would mandate minimum prison sentences for drug crimes in Canada, stands in the political process, what it all means and how you can help to stop it.


Century of Lies - 12/13/09 - Paul Wright

Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal NEWS + DTN mothership NEWS: "DA's Crack Pipe Policy Stirs Storm"

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 12/13/09 - Leigh Maddox

Leigh Maddox, former Maryland state police officer and now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition + Tony Newman of Drug Policy Alliance with Top Ten drug reform stories of 2009


Last week a Bill in US Congress made surprisingly smooth progress through the House of Representatives on its way to the Senate. The House bill establishes a Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission which will have two million dollars to investigate and research independently of the political process - "to review and evaluate United States policy regarding illicit drug supply reduction and interdiction".


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #613, 12/18/09


By Doug Bandow



War Without Borders - A DrugSense Focus Alert

Californians Vote To Legalize Marijuana - A Drugsense Focus Alert



By Wayne Phillips

Re: 'Northern Health follies' published Wed., Dec. 2.

If "harm reduction" can be equated to aiding and abetting addicts and drug dealers, et al, then surely drug prohibition must likewise be seen as aiding and abetting organized crime (in the perpetuation of drug crime). For if it were not for the prohibition of drugs to begin with, the exasperation of these problems would never have occurred.

After all, believing drug prohibition sends "messages" that condemns drugs is sheer nonsense; it's fanciful/magical thinking. Drug prohibition, in effect, gives control of drugs over to organized crime; nothing more, nothing less. All that support it, likewise, aid and abet organized crime; some are just more aware of it then others.

Perhaps then picking corpses from the streets is actually preferred over the reduction of harm, yes?

Wayne Phillips

Hamilton, Ontario

Pubdate: Mon, 07 Dec 2009
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Prince George Citizen
Details: Referenced:


DrugSense recognizes Russell Barth of Nepean, Ontario for his seven letters published during November, bringing his total that we know of to 669. Frequently newspapers print 'Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User' and/or 'Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis' in his letter signature block. Less often newspapers may print a link to his website

You may read his published letters at:


An Idea Whose Time Has Come  ( Top )

By Robert Cruickshank

This week Richard Lee of Oaksterdam University announced that he has gathered over 680,000 signatures to place an initiative to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana on the November 2010 ballot:

The petition drive, which was run by a professional signature- gathering firm, collected more than 680,000 signatures, 57% more than the 433,971 valid signatures needed to put it on the ballot, said Richard Lee, the measure's main proponent.

"It was so easy to get them," Lee said. "People were so eager to sign."

The initiative would also allow cities and counties to adopt their own laws to allow marijuana to be grown and sold, and the localities could impose taxes on any aspect of marijuana production and sales. It would make it legal for adults over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a 25-square-foot area for personal use.

Because this particular initiative creates a "local option" for taxation, on top of a statewide legalization, it is hard to quantify exactly how much money this would raise.Initiative proponents cite the Legislative Analyst who says it could generate up to $1.4 billion in new revenue, in addition to an unknown but likely significant amount of savings in prison and court costs.

Although some other legalization initiatives are floating around out there, this is the only one that's expected to make the 2010 ballot. And despite some earlier debate over whether 2010 or 2012 was the best time to go the ballot, other marijuana legalization advocates plan to support this initiative fully and work to pass it. They may be joined by the rest of the state:

Polls have shown that a majority of California voters support legalization. A Field Poll taken in mid-April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make legalize and tax pot as a way to help solve the state's fiscal crisis. In October, a poll taken by a nonpartisan firm for the Marijuana Policy Project found 54% support in the county.

A poll taken for the initiative's proponents by EMC Research, an opinion research firm in Seattle, found that 51% of likely voters supported it based on language similar to what will be on the ballot, but support increased to 54% when they were read a more general synopsis.

Those numbers are no slam dunk. But they also show that this is clearly an idea whose time has come. California has proven that the costs of the war on drugs are unacceptably high, and that we need to bring that stupid and pointless conflict to an end before it bankrupts the state.

There's still 11 long months to go between now and the November 2010 election. But I'm hoping that Californians are ready to take the national lead in legalizing and taxing marijuana as part of a more rational and sensible approach to drug policy, prison reform, and the budget crisis.

Robert Cruickshank is a historian, activist, and teacher living in Monterey. He is a contributing editor at and works for the Courage Campaign, in addition to teaching political science at Monterey Peninsula College. Currently he is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in U.S. history, on progressive politics in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. This piece was first published at California Progress Report


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