THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) MANDATORY TERMS FOR DRUG SALES NEAR SCHOOLS SET TO END
Pubdate: Fri, 8 Jan 2010
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Newark Morning Ledger Co
People busted for some drug offenses near schools should no longer face mandatory prison sentences, lawmakers decided yesterday.
Assembly members voted 46-30 to send the bill (A2762) to the governor's desk for final approval.
The state has imposed mandatory prison terms of one to three years for people caught dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school since 1987.
"The mandatory minimum sentencing the zones require has effectively created two different sentences for the same crime, depending on where an individual lives," Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) said. "This is geographic discrimination at its most basic."
Supporters of the bill say those sentences have unnecessarily stuffed New Jersey prisons with nonviolent offenders who deserve probation or access to treatment programs.
Almost 70 percent of the 6,720 drug offenders serving time in state prisons have mandatory minimum sentences, according to the Department of Corrections.
(2) WEED TAKES ROOT ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 7 Jan 2010
Source: LA Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Village Voice Media
Author: David Ferrell
These are not your run-of-the-mill potheads jammed into the long, narrow classroom at Oaksterdam University, a tiny campus with no sign to betray its location on busy San Vicente Boulevard south of the Beverly Center. A serious vibe fills the loftlike space, where rows of desks are arranged like church pews under exposed ducts. No one clowns around or even smiles much. Instead, eyes fix intently on a screen at the front of the darkened room.
Projected there is a photograph of a healthy marijuana plant under an array of lights. Tonight's subject, Cannabis 101: growing the weed in indoor gardens. It's delicate alchemy, as most of these students, who range in age from their early 20s to nearly 60, already know. During the 13-week semester, many tend and keep notes on their own clandestine nurseries in bedrooms and garages scattered around Los Angeles.
Encouraged by instructors, and by the prospects of staking out ground-floor positions in the emerging world of "cannabusinesses," they cultivate popular varieties of bud while experimenting with soils, temperatures and light sources.
(3) CHINA TURNS DRUG REHAB INTO A PUNISHING ORDEAL ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 8 Jan 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Andrew Jacobs
BEIJING -- Fu Lixin, emotionally exhausted from caring for her sick mother, needed a little pick-me-up. A friend offered her a "special cigarette" -- one laced with methamphetamine -- and Ms. Fu happily inhaled.
The next day, three policemen showed up at her door.
"They asked me to urinate in a cup," she said. "My friend had been arrested and turned me in. It was a drug test. I failed on the spot."
Although she said it was her first time smoking meth, Ms. Fu, 41, was promptly sent to one of China's compulsory drug rehabilitation centers. The minimum stay is two years, and life is an unremitting gantlet of physical abuse and forced labor without any drug treatment, according to former inmates and substance abuse professionals.
"It was a hell I'm still trying to recover from," she said.
(4) LAWMAKERS CRAFTING MEDICAL-POT BILL STRUGGLE FOR MIDDLE GROUND ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 8 Jan 2010
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold, The Denver Post
The state lawmakers drafting a major medical-marijuana regulation bill plan to meet with representatives from the state attorney general's office today to work on a compromise to include more law-and-order language in the bill.
At the same time, medical-marijuana advocates are blasting the current version of the bill, arguing it is already too restrictive. On Thursday, attorney Rob Corry sent a letter to state Sen. Chris Romer, the Denver Democrat who is crafting the legislation, saying the bill "cannot be supported by any serious patient or caregiver in Colorado's medical-marijuana community."
Earlier this week, Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, said medical-marijuana advocates would work to put a ballot issue before voters if the legislature passes a bill it feels clamps down too hard on the booming medical-marijuana industry.
"We're somewhat concerned that this bill is going to be reflective of the law-enforcement agenda as opposed to looking out for what's really best for patients," Vicente said Thursday.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
More confirmation that drug prohibition is a counterproductive mess.
More confirmation that drug prohibition is a counterproductive mess.
(5) LA GANGS SEEK PROFIT IN PEACE ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 30 Dec 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Tamara Audi
Violence Ebbs As Criminal Alliances Emerge In New Test For Authorities
LOS ANGELES -- After nearly two decades fighting gangs, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Robert Lyons thought he had seen it all. Until he saw members of the Bloods and the Crips -- rival gangs that spent years in brutal conflict -- meeting amiably in a restaurant.
"They were talking. There was hugging and high-fiving. It was unbelievable," Mr. Lyons said. He has heard a refrain from gang members: Red (the Bloods) and blue (the Crips) make green (money).
Gangs that were once bloody rivals now are cooperating to wring profits from the sale of illegal drugs and weapons, law-enforcement officials and gang experts say. In some cases, gangs that investigators believed to be sworn enemies share neighborhoods and strike business deals. The collaboration even crosses racial lines, remarkable in a gang world where racial divisions are sharp and clashes are often racially motivated. "You see African-Americans dealing with Hispanics on obtaining narcotics and weapons. We're seeing Hispanic gang members involved with the Eastern European criminal figures," said Robert W. Clark, acting special agent in charge of the criminal division of the Los Angeles field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Where they see opportunities to collaborate, they do."
(6) EFFORT VS. DRUG SMUGGLERS STIRS CRIES OF INJUSTICE ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 4 Jan 2010
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2010 The Arizona Republic
Author: Robert Anglen, The Arizona Republic
Caught at U.S. Border, Suspects Sent to Mexico to Face Charges
No fear. That was the mantra of Mexican drug smugglers bringing marijuana into the United States.
No fear of arrest. No fear of prosecution. The worst-kept secret on the border for years was that, until more recently, U.S. authorities would not even try to prosecute cases involving less than 500 pounds of marijuana.
Furthermore, U.S. laws and rules of evidence that aim to ensure justice make some cases hard to stick. The most trouble that many small-time smugglers faced was a few days' inconvenience before being deported.
But a new program being tested at the Nogales ports of entry could radically change the way these cases are handled along the entire U.S.-Mexican border. Instead of being deported and set free, some marijuana smugglers arrested in the United States are being turned over to Mexican authorities for prosecution.
The change in approach has led to claims that U.S. officials are circumventing the U.S. Constitution by taking advantage of less-stringent Mexican legal standards.
Eleazar Gonzalez-Sanchez was the first smuggler turned over to Mexican authorities under the program. Like most smugglers, the 27-year-old Sonoran was schooled in what to expect if caught, authorities say. He rolled up to the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry with 44 pounds of marijuana stashed in the trunk.
Even after customs inspectors found the drugs and placed him in cuffs, he breathed easy, U.S. officials said. The car wasn't his. He could plead ignorance. U.S. prosecutors could not prove that he intended to smuggle the drugs.
A few hours later, he was being escorted across the border, just as expected. Only this time, someone was waiting for him on the other side. As realization dawned, Gonzalez-Sanchez's steps faltered, authorities said. His confidence faded. He sputtered protests. Then customs authorities handed him over to a pair of federales, or Mexican federal officers.
"(He) was very surprised when they showed up and he found out he was going back with them," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Arizona. "This is news to (smugglers). Even with a small amount, you are going to go to jail."
(7) FEAR MONGERS ATTACK A NYC HARM REDUCTION PAMPHLET THAT SAVES ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 4 Jan 2010
Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Copyright: 2010 HuffingtonPost com, Inc.
Author: Anthony Papa
A fear mongering attack on NYC Harm Reduction was launched today in regards to a two-year-old pamphlet distributed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that details how to reduce the harm of injecting drugs. This attack not only ignores scientific evidence, but also threatens to undermine the proven public health policies of harm reduction. The brochure - "Take Charge Take Care" - is directed toward the city's residents who inject drugs and those at risk of doing so, and it serves the critical purpose of reducing disease transmission, preventing overdoses and saving lives.
For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other prestigious public health organizations have recommended that persons who inject drugs follow the types of practices discussed in the NYC pamphlet to reduce their risk of harm. New York City has been a model for implementing successful harm reduction efforts that place effective public health interventions above political posturing. Any move to eliminate or reduce access to these programs would put individuals, their families and communities at risk for HIV/AIDS transmissions and other infectious diseases.
Those attacking the pamphlet are out of touch with the reality of the HIV/AIDS crisis among people who inject drugs.
(8) A WANTED MAN ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 03 Jan 2010
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2010 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Jim Balloch
Called A Master Of Disguise, Convicted Drug Smuggler Escaped Prison In 1984, Has Eluded Capture Since
Barrel-chested, gregarious and flush with cash, "Jerry Whittier" was 41 years old when he rolled into Gatlinburg in early 1980. Appearing to be a successful entrepreneur, he bought an upscale chalet home for $125,000. He gave generously to local charities.
And he planned to buy what was then the Sevier County Airport, recalls retired 4th District Attorney General Al Schmutzer. That deal came apart in 1981, when he was linked to a huge cocaine shipment seized from an airplane there.
Whittier's real name was Gerald Lyle Hemp. He was a pilot and a master of multiple identities for whom disappearing was as easy as walking out a door. And for more than a quarter of a century, he has eluded some of the U.S. government's best man-hunters.
"He had 13 aliases, that we know of," said Brian Nerney, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service office in Tallahassee, Fla. "And he was in business long before 9/11, when it was a lot easier to get a new identity."
Hemp claimed he didn't know drugs had been placed in the seized airplane that was linked to him. In his 1983 trial, he said he was a CIA-backed gunrunner, using aviation connections to supply arms for anti-communist causes in Central and South America.
"He had no proof of that," Schmutzer said. "Whether he had those kind of connections or not, the evidence is that he was a cocaine dealer."
The trial was nearly two years before The Associated Press published stories alleging links between cocaine smuggling and CIA activity in Nicaragua.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Another city learns that drug prohibition mistakes can be more than
tragic, they can be very expensive. Expect the tragic costs of drug
prohibition to go up in Mexico and near the border next year, if
recent reports are accurate. And, some in the British press might
want to research the results of DARE in America before getting all
gushy about it in the UK.
Another city learns that drug prohibition mistakes can be more than tragic, they can be very expensive. Expect the tragic costs of drug prohibition to go up in Mexico and near the border next year, if recent reports are accurate. And, some in the British press might want to research the results of DARE in America before getting all gushy about it in the UK.
(9) LIMA TO PAY $2.5M TO FAMILY OF VICTIM OF '08 POLICE SHOOTING ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 1 Jan 2010
Source: Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
Copyright: 2010 The Blade
Authors: Erica Blake and JC Reindl
LIMA, Ohio - The family of a 26-year-old mother who was shot and killed during a police raid of her Lima home in 2008 will receive $2.5 million from the city's insurance company as a result of a negotiated settlement announced yesterday.
Tarika Wilson's family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Toledo against the City of Lima and Sgt. Joseph Chavalia in August, 2008, claiming wrongful death and negligence. The unarmed woman was holding her 1-year-old son when she was shot and killed Jan. 4, 2008, during a police drug raid of her home.
Her son, Sincere Wilson, was injured during the incident and had to have his right index finger amputated.
Yesterday, attorneys for both the family and the city said a settlement was reached out of court. The settlement will be filed with the federal court within the next few weeks, said attorney Al Gerhardstein, who represented Tarika Wilson's six children and her mother, Darla Jennings.
(10) ASSAULTS ON BORDER PATROL AGENTS INCREASE DRAMATICALLY ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 2009
Source: Sierra Vista Herald (AZ)
Copyright: 2009 Sierra Vista Herald
TUCSON -- As a Border Patrol agent continues to recover from a gunshot wound, the agency's regional chief says the violence is part of a larger problem.
There has been a 300 percent increase in assaults on agents in the first two months of this fiscal year (October and November) compared to last year -- 108 compared to 27 in the Tucson Sector.
Many of these assaults have involved rocks large enough to inflict serious injury or death. The assaults are usually used as a tactic to evade apprehension or draw agents away from other illegal smuggling activity nearby, the agency said. The Border Patrol has countered these tactics with rock-proof vehicles, enhanced body armor and the deployment of less-lethal options for self-defense.
As the Border Patrol has expanded its presence, smugglers have shown growing signs of frustration, the agency said. The rise in violence toward agents has been a result, the agency said.
In the shooting, an unidentified assailant fired on two agents who were patrolling Sunday night near Rio Rico. One agent was wounded in the ankle.
(11) DEA REPORT WARNS MEXICO OF CARTEL ATTACKS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 01 Jan 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez
EL PASO -- U.S. intelligence sources warned the Mexican government that drug cartels may launch unusual attacks in the coming year.
El Pasoan Phil Jordan, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official, said his sources confirmed that the warning has put the Mexican government on alert.
EFE, Spain's news wire service, and El Universal, a national newspaper in Mexico, reported that the DEA provided Mexico with a confidential report about possible counter-offensive attacks by one or more drug cartels against government offices, banks, bridges or other institutions.
DEA officials did not confirm or deny the media accounts.
Jordan said he suspects that the warning is linked to the recent death of Arturo Beltran Leyva, a drug kingpin, who was killed in December by Mexican marines during a shootout in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
One of the marines died in the firefight. Less than a week later, a hit squad killed four of the marine's relatives in the state of Tabasco.
Authorities speculated it was a revenge attack.
(12) DRUG EDUCATION COURTESY OF THE POLICE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 02 Jan 2010
Source: Derby Evening Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2010 Derby Telegraph Media Group Ltd
THE success of an anti-drugs programme in primary schools will lead to it being extended to secondary schools in 2010.
Pupils at Allenton Community Primary School were among the latest youngsters to get the message from former policemen involved in Dare - Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
Dave Gilbert is Dare's chief executive and also a former chief inspector with the Nottinghamshire force.
He said: "The need for our programmes has never been greater. Dare programmes include teamwork, role-play and discussion of topics including bullying, anti-social behaviour and peer pressure.
"We have been working with primary schools in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire and now we want the work to progress as the children get older and move into secondary school."
Ex-drug squad detective Colin Middleton worked with 68 pupils at the Allenton school during the autumn term. Mr Middleton helped them develop the knowledge and self-confidence to resist drugs, bullying and anti-social behaviour.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The more things change .... The public remains way ahead of
legislators on cannabis law reform, and our opponents are stuck in
the 1970s, or 1930s.
The more things change .... The public remains way ahead of legislators on cannabis law reform, and our opponents are stuck in the 1970s, or 1930s.
(13) VAGUE LAW STOKES MEDICAL POT DEBATE ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 6 Jan 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel
The State's Wording Is Interpreted Differently by Marijuana Backers, Foes. Lawmakers Seem Disinclined to Clarify.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles insist that collectives cannot sell medical marijuana at their stores and can provide it only to members who actively cultivate it together. Dispensary operators, on the other hand, argue that it is absurd to expect them to run Soviet-style collective farms and to rule out cash payments for pot.
When the Los Angeles City Council finishes its marijuana ordinance, which may finally happen this month, it is likely to inflame this increasingly contentious debate over how the drug can be distributed.
The conflict hinges on the state's 2003 medical marijuana law and almost entirely on a single sentence.
"The law's screwed up in a lot of ways. There's big gaping holes," said Yamileth Bolanos, who runs PureLife Alternative Wellness Center and is one of the city's most politically involved operators. "It's very confusing for everyone, even the prosecution and law enforcement. It's like the Bible, everybody reads it the way they want to."
(14) POLICE NEED TO GET ON BOARD WITH PROGRAM FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 4 Jan 2010
Source: Ludington Daily News (MI)
Copyright: 2010 Shoreline Media, Inc.
It has been more than a year since Michigan voters determined that people, whose doctors conclude that marijuana would be beneficial in the treatment of some malady, can use pot medicinally without fear of arrest and prosecution.
It wasn't a close vote, either. Sixty-three percent of the electorate voted to approve Proposal 1 on the November 2008 ballot. If it was a politician, that kind of margin would have been considered a landslide victory. Elected officials have claimed to have "a clear mandate" on much thinner polling results than that.
Cops still don't like it.
Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte said recently his department has yet to bust someone for smoking marijuana, then learn the person was smoking with a doctor's consent under the state program. Nonetheless, he said compliance with the new law could become cumbersome in the county, which has reduced his force due to budget cuts. Extensive time could be spent verifying participants' cards, he added.
"It just creates so many more issues for us at a time when we have less people and more things happening. It's kind of frustrating, from our point of view," Bezotte said.
Local law enforcement is not alone. Protesters went to the state Capitol in October looking for Attorney General Mike Cox to pressure law enforcement agencies to stop raiding the homes of patients who have registered and been approved for cards for medical marijuana use. They said police in Flint and West Branch conducted seizures even though the subject had a legal card.
Quite frankly, police across the state need to get on board with this program. Laws are not passed based on what is convenient for cops to enforce. Election results are not dependent on what police officers agree with.
(15) BID TO LEGALIZE POT IS COUNTER TO U.S. TREND ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 5 Jan 2010
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
With Californians likely to vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana, some key swing voters - Democratic and independent women - are expressing a surprising reason why they would support the initiative.
The suburban "soccer moms" who are likely voters have told pollsters that the measure, which would give local governments the authority to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults 21 or older, would provide a safer way for their adult children to buy pot.
"One of the scary things to some people is that their kids may be buying it from someone dangerous," said Ruth Bernstein, a pollster with EMC Research, an Oakland firm that has been doing polling and focus groups on behalf of the measure's proponents.
The initiative, known as the Tax and Regulate Initiative, would expand those laws by allowing local governments to tax and regulate marijuana sales, increase penalties for providing marijuana to a minor, and prohibit consumption of marijuana in public, smoking marijuana while minors are present and possession of pot on school grounds.
But none of those provisions matters to law enforcement organizations and conservative religious leaders who oppose legalization on public safety and "moral" grounds.
Battle in the Suburbs
The battleground to legalize marijuana will be in the suburbs, experts say.
"The legalizers have yet to explain what the social betterment is by legalizing another mind-altering substance," said John Lovell, a lobbyist for law enforcement agencies, including the California Peace Officers' Association, that are opposed to legalization. "They're smoking something if they think soccer moms are going to go their way."
"It's a moral issue," said Bishop Ron Allen, leader of the International Faith Based Coalition. The former crack cocaine addict is on stop No. 14 of a tour of 100 churches that oppose the initiative. "Can you imagine legalizing more drugs in this area?" asked Allen, pastor of a south Sacramento congregation where, he says, "there are more liquor stores than grocery stores."
(16) IN THE MEDICAL-MARIJUANA DEBATE, IT'S TIME TO BE GROWN-UPS ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 6 Jan 2010
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Bill Johnson, Denver Post Columnist
The hand-wringing by lawmakers and others over medical marijuana just tickles me, or floors me. I still cannot tell.
You would think they were handing out AK-47s in the state's proliferating number of dispensaries. The Denver City Council now wants to keep them 1,000 feet away from schools. What is that about?
So, at 1,001 feet from a school, they can sell medical pot by the truckload?
My favorite proposed law is being dreamed up by state Sen. Chris Romer, whom I admire greatly. But he proposes raising the age at which a patient can legally obtain marijuana for medical use from 18 to 21.
Let us say it is your kid, my kid. Who are you or I going to trust more for what our kids need -- Romer, or our family doctor? How quickly would you find the nearest street dealer to assist your pain- ravaged child? Come on.
We really and truly need grown-ups to step forward in this debate.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
A report from the State Department inspector general on U.S.
prohibition efforts in Afghanistan - released two days before
Christmas - says the effort to stop poppy farmers there isn't
working, "has not clarified an end state for counternarcotics
efforts, engaged in long-term planning or established performance
measures." The failure to triumph, explained the State Department,
was a failure due to the "weak justice system, corruption and the
lack of political will" (in Afghanistan). Still, "insurgents" can get
resources one way or another. Admitted U.S. embassy officials: "there
is no connection between illicit narcotics and the insurgency in
While the U.S. begins to move away from mandatory minimum sentencing
and toward relaxing cannabis prohibition, some, like the ruling
minority Conservative Party in Canada, are goose-stepping to the beat
of a different drummer, madly bent on packing prisons with cannabis
"offenders". Never mind that all types of crime (that have victims at
least) have fallen in Canada for the last 30 years. Writes Kevin
Weedmark in this week's World-Spectator newspaper in Canada:
"America's prisons are operated by for-profit businesses." Follow the
money. "After looking at those basic facts, can anyone see any logic
behind the Harper government's moves to try to make Canada's justice
system, which has led to a 30-year-low crime rate, more like
America's, where the prison system is clearly dysfunctional and crime
rates are much higher?"
"Drug prohibition doesn't work," admitted Chris Middendorp in this
week's The Age newspaper in Australia, "so what do we do next?"
Middendorp follows with examples which bear study. In "2001 Portugal
decriminalised all drugs - from heroin to cocaine - and, to many
people's surprise, overall drug use actually fell... In Switzerland,
giving addicts free heroin in supervised clinics has been deemed a
success, with begging, prostitution, homelessness and burglary all
dropping dramatically... A national referendum in 2008 voted
overwhelmingly to retain the program, which began as a trial in
1994." What's behind the prohibitionist urge? Middendorp: "mainstream
culture's view of drug users as subhuman creatures who need
Which country has the largest degree of drug decriminalization in
Europe? Holland? Not any more. As of 2010, drug users in the Czech
Republic will not be committing a criminal offense if they possess
less than 15 grams of pot, 1.5 grams of heroin, a gram of cocaine, or
up to two grams of meth. "The logic behind decriminalizing drug
possession," said the Prague Post, "is to treat drug addiction as a
public health problem rather than a criminal one." Imagine that.
A report from the State Department inspector general on U.S. prohibition efforts in Afghanistan - released two days before Christmas - says the effort to stop poppy farmers there isn't working, "has not clarified an end state for counternarcotics efforts, engaged in long-term planning or established performance measures." The failure to triumph, explained the State Department, was a failure due to the "weak justice system, corruption and the lack of political will" (in Afghanistan). Still, "insurgents" can get resources one way or another. Admitted U.S. embassy officials: "there is no connection between illicit narcotics and the insurgency in Pakistan."
While the U.S. begins to move away from mandatory minimum sentencing and toward relaxing cannabis prohibition, some, like the ruling minority Conservative Party in Canada, are goose-stepping to the beat of a different drummer, madly bent on packing prisons with cannabis "offenders". Never mind that all types of crime (that have victims at least) have fallen in Canada for the last 30 years. Writes Kevin Weedmark in this week's World-Spectator newspaper in Canada: "America's prisons are operated by for-profit businesses." Follow the money. "After looking at those basic facts, can anyone see any logic behind the Harper government's moves to try to make Canada's justice system, which has led to a 30-year-low crime rate, more like America's, where the prison system is clearly dysfunctional and crime rates are much higher?"
"Drug prohibition doesn't work," admitted Chris Middendorp in this week's The Age newspaper in Australia, "so what do we do next?" Middendorp follows with examples which bear study. In "2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs - from heroin to cocaine - and, to many people's surprise, overall drug use actually fell... In Switzerland, giving addicts free heroin in supervised clinics has been deemed a success, with begging, prostitution, homelessness and burglary all dropping dramatically... A national referendum in 2008 voted overwhelmingly to retain the program, which began as a trial in 1994." What's behind the prohibitionist urge? Middendorp: "mainstream culture's view of drug users as subhuman creatures who need redemption."
Which country has the largest degree of drug decriminalization in Europe? Holland? Not any more. As of 2010, drug users in the Czech Republic will not be committing a criminal offense if they possess less than 15 grams of pot, 1.5 grams of heroin, a gram of cocaine, or up to two grams of meth. "The logic behind decriminalizing drug possession," said the Prague Post, "is to treat drug addiction as a public health problem rather than a criminal one." Imagine that.
(17) REPORT SAYS AFGHAN DRUG EFFORT LACKS STRATEGY ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Brian Knowlton
WASHINGTON -- The United States-led counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan, viewed as critical to halting the flow of funds to the Taliban and curtailing corruption, lacks a long-term strategy, clear objectives and a plan for handing over responsibility to Afghans, the State Department inspector general said in a report released Wednesday.
"The department has not clarified an end state for counternarcotics efforts, engaged in long-term planning or established performance measures," said the 63-page report, which evaluates work done by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the State Department.
The report said that military and civilian antidrug programs lacked clearly delineated roles, and that civilian contracts for counternarcotics work were poorly written and largely supervised from thousands of miles away. It also said that cooperation between the United States Embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Islamabad, Pakistan, was limited, adding, "This lack of cooperation is due, in part, to Embassy Islamabad's conclusion that there is no connection between illicit narcotics and the insurgency in Pakistan."
While much of the report was critical, it also listed the profound handicaps facing those involved in the drug eradication efforts, "including a weak justice system, corruption and the lack of political will" in the Afghan government, as well as the overpowering economic incentives that lead impoverished farmers to grow poppies.
(18) GOVERNMENT MOVING TO AMERICAN-STYLE JUSTICE ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 04 Jan 2010
Source: World-Spectator, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2010 The World-Spectator.
Author: Kevin Weedmark
Canada's crime rate is at a 30-year low, with both the rate and the severity of reported crime falling constantly over that time.
So it seems odd that the federal government would respond by adopting "get tough on crime" policies similar to those in the United States, where the prison population is by far the highest in the world thanks to mandatory sentences and prison terms for minor offences - one in four prisoners on earth is behind bars in the United States. And yet America still has some of the highest crime rates in the developed world.
Few would argue that America's "get tough on crime" policies have made it safer or reduced the crime rate, as it demonstrably hasn't.
Some of America's prisons are operated by for-profit businesses, which has led to horrific abuses, ranging from prisons refusing medical care to prisoners to boost profits, to a few infamous cases of prison companies paying judges per conviction to help keep the prisons full.
After looking at those basic facts, can anyone see any logic behind the Harper government's moves to try to make Canada's justice system, which has led to a 30-year-low crime rate, more like America's, where the prison system is clearly dysfunctional and crime rates are much higher?
While they haven't trumpeted their anti-crime campaign, one-third of the 63 bills introduced into the House of Commons in the past year have dealt with some aspect of criminal justice.
(19) DRUG PROHIBITION DOESN'T WORK - SO WHAT DO WE DO NEXT? ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 7 Jan 2010
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2010 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Chris Middendorp
For many Australian drug users, the criminalisation of drugs continues to create significant misery. The more radical drug policy reformers would argue that if Suzanne could pick up a regulated dose of heroin from a chemist for $5 a day (as addicts can methadone), she could establish a healthy and safe life. In other words, her regrettable situation is largely caused by drug laws, not by the heroin itself.
Most famously, in 2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs - from heroin to cocaine - and, to many people's surprise, overall drug use actually fell.
In Switzerland, giving addicts free heroin in supervised clinics has been deemed a success, with begging, prostitution, homelessness and burglary all dropping dramatically. A national referendum in 2008 voted overwhelmingly to retain the program, which began as a trial in 1994.
The focus of any drug debate should not be morals or the law; it should concentrate on the welfare of human beings. The common use of the term "junkie" helps us to maintain the belief that users of substances are in some way lesser beings. Part of the reason we've comfortably followed the prohibition path for so long has been mainstream culture's view of drug users as subhuman creatures who need redemption.
(20) NEW DRUG GUIDELINES ARE EUROPE'S MOST LIBERAL ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 2009
Source: Prague Post (Czech Republic)
Copyright: 2009 The Prague Post
Author: Walter Novak
Czech Rules On Narcotics Possession Designed To Aid Law Enforcement
Long known for a liberal policy on drugs, the Czech Republic is now officially quantifying its status as one of European Union's most lenient member states when it comes to decriminalizing drug possession. But these new guidelines come among signs that the rest of Czech drug policy is not keeping pace with other EU members and contradicts law enforcement tactics being utilized to tackle alcohol abuse.
On Dec. 14, Prime Minister Jan Fischer's government approved new standardized limits, delineating criminal and misdemeanor drug offenses. Starting Jan. 1, the new numbers will allow a person to possess, for example, up to 15 grams of marijuana or 1.5 grams of heroin without facing criminal charges. Anybody possessing less than these amounts is eligible to be charged for a misdemeanor, but may also receive little more than a warning from police.
Starting in 2010, possessing the following amounts of drugs is no longer a criminal offense.
Marijuana 15 grams or less
Heroin 1.5 grams or less
Cocaine 1 gram or less
Methamphetamine 2 grams or less
Hallucinogenic mushrooms 40 pieces or less
LSD 5 tablets or less
The Czech philosophy on drug policy may in fact make the country the most liberal of all EU member states. Even the Netherlands, long known as a bastion of liberal drug policies, including businesses licensed to sell marijuana, draws a sharper legal distinction between hard and soft drugs. The Dutch also limit decriminalized possession of marijuana to 5 grams (one-third of the Czech amount) and any hard drugs to 0.5 grams (one-third of the Czech amount for heroin).
The logic behind decriminalizing drug possession is to treat drug addiction as a public health problem rather than a criminal one.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
2009 IN REVIEW ( Top )
The Media Awareness Project archived about 14,500 news clippings during 2009. Here is our annual list of the ones most frequently accessed by our users.
NEW JERSEY LEGISLATURE PASSES GROUNDBREAKING SENTENCING REFORM BILL ( Top )
Making State First in Nation to Allow Judges to Waive Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Drug-Free School Zones
THE SECRET TO LEGAL MARIJUANA? WOMEN ( Top )
By Daniela Perdomo
Why women have signed onto marijuana reform -- and why they could be the movement's game-changers.
WELCOME TO THE NORML WOMEN'S ALLIANCE ( Top )
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the nation's oldest and most well respected grassroots marijuana law reform organization, is pleased to announce the launch of the NORML Women's Alliance.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 01/03/10 - Daniela Perdomo
Daniela Perdomo, Alternet reporter + Philippe Lucas reports on Canada's drug reform + Corrupt Cop report with Phil Smith of Drug War Chronicle
Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/03/10 - Phil Smith
Phil Smith, Drug War Chronicle reporter's Top 10 Drug Reform Stories of 2009 + DTN Editorial: "Prohibition is Evil!" Related Links
NEW INITIATIVE TO REGULATE POT USE FILED IN NEVADA ( Top )
CARSON CITY, Nev.-A new initiative to tax and regulate adult use of marijuana in Nevada by licensing retail stores and growers was filed Wednesday with the secretary of state's office.
FEAR MONGERS ATTACK A NYC HARM REDUCTION PAMPHLET THAT SAVES LIVES ( Top )
By Anthony Papa
Arguments by top level city and federal law enforcement agents against harm reduction pamphlet have little scientific merit.
METH METHOD MADNESS ( Top )
Sudafed crackdown fallout
By Jacob Sullum
THE BEST CHANCE YET FOR LEGALIZING MARIJUANA ( Top )
By Daniela Perdomo
Tax Cannabis 2010 faces hurdles as it prepares for its test on the California ballot next November.
CATO HANDBOOK FOR POLICY MAKERS: THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
The Cato Institute's new Handbook for Policymakers explores the implications of robust global demand for drugs, and recommends an end to the prohibitionist model of addressing drug issues. Read the section on the war on drugs
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
CALL FOR PAPERS: CHILDREN OF THE DRUG WAR ( Top )
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.
HARM REDUCTION 2010: EARLY BIRD DEADLINE APPROACHING ( Top )
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the 'Early Bird' discounts are available for those who register and pay before January 21st 2010.
To register for the conference, please go to our secure online registration system:
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
HOPELESSNESS IN MEXICO'S DRUG WAR ( Top )
By Gene Fellner
Regarding the Dec. 27 front-page article "Mexico questions its drug strategy":
The United States has survived the violence of its war on drugs, but Mexico might not. This sad situation illustrates something that nearly everyone except the folks in the U.S. government has known since Prohibition turned our streets into battlegrounds: The second-order effects of criminalizing drugs cause more harm than the drugs themselves.
Gene Fellner, Derwood
Pubdate: Wed, 30 Dec 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
THE 2009 LETTER TO THE EDITOR WRITERS OF THE YEAR ( Top )
By Richard Lake, Senior Editor www.mapinc.org
2009 saw two letter writers achieve amazing numbers of published letters. Russell Barth had 183 letters published. Robert Sharpe had 176 letters published. Since there may be letters from each which were published but not newshawked to MAP we consider this accomplishment a tie and recognize both of them as The 2009 Letter to the Editor Writers of the Year.
Russell Barth writes to Canadian newspapers from his home in Nepean, Ontario. Canada has less than an eighth the number of daily newspapers as does the United States. MAP has archived a total of 678 of his published letters which you may read at http://www.mapinc.org/writers/Russell+Barth
Robert Sharpe writes to newspapers all over the world from his home in Maryland. MAP has archived a total of 2,248 of his published letters which you may read at http://www.mapinc.org/writers/Robert+Sharpe
Russell sends his letters with information in his signature block which newspapers often find authoritative. Frequently newspapers print "Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User" and/or "Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis" from his signature block. Occasionally he writes with the signature "Educators for Sensible Drug Policy" which is also printed.
Robert writes as a volunteer for Common Sense for Drug Policy. His published letters often have versions of the title "Policy Analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C." and sometimes link to their website http://www.csdp.org/.
Letter writers may wish to consider what Russell and Robert do by finding a way to include lines like the above which hook newspaper editors.
If you would like to join our team - please visit our Volunteer Signup Form page http://mapinc.org/volunteers/
Richard Lake is Senior Editor of MAP.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"If you say, 'Would there were no wine' because of the drunkards, then you must say, going on by degrees, 'Would there were no steel,' because of the murderers, 'Would there were no night,' because of the thieves, 'Would there were no light,' because of the informers, and 'Would there were no women,' because of adultery." -St. John Chrysostom
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NOTICE: ( Top )
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