THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) A DOCTOR'S CASE FOR LEGAL POT
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: David L. Nathan
Most Americans are paying too much for marijuana.
I'm not referring to people who smoke it--using the drug generally costs about as much as using alcohol. Marijuana is unaffordable for the rest of America because billions are wasted on misdirected drug education and distracted law enforcement, and we also fail to tax the large underground economy that supplies cannabis. On Monday, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill legalizing marijuana for a short list of medical uses. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine says he will sign it into law. This is a positive step, as cannabis has several unique medical applications. But the debate over medical marijuana has obscured the larger issue of pot prohibition.
As a psychiatrist, I treat individuals who often suffer from devastating substance abuse.
Over many years of dealing with my patients' problems, I have come to realize that we are wasting precious resources on the fight against marijuana, which more closely resembles legal recreational drugs than illegal ones. My conscience compels me to support a comprehensive and nationwide decriminalization of marijuana.
(2) GOVERNMENT'S NEW DRUG ADVISER LES IVERSEN WANTED CANNABIS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
A retired academic who once called for cannabis to be legalised was appointed yesterday as the Government's new adviser on the harm caused by drugs.
Les Iversen, a former pharmacology professor at the University of Oxford, was made interim chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He replaces Professor David Nutt, who was sacked for criticising the Government's decision to reclassify cannabis as a Class B substance.
After the Home Office announced his appointment it emerged that in a 2003 lecture Professor Iversen said: "There have been no deaths to date caused by use of cannabis. Cannabis should be legalised, not just decriminalised, because it is comparatively less dangerous than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco."
In an article in 2003 he wrote that cannabis had been incorrectly classified for nearly 50 years as a dangerous drug and that it was one of the "safer" recreational drugs.
Questioned about his remarks yesterday, Professor Iversen said that he no longer held the same views. He said during an interview on BBC Radio 5: "I don't remember saying that. It's certainly not my position now.
"We have now to confront the more potent forms of cannabis. We have the new evidence that arose since 2003 linking cannabis to psychiatric illness. I think it's quite free for a scientist to change his mind when faced with new facts."
(3) MARIJUANA LAW NEEDS CLARIFYING, PANEL SAYS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2010 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Author: Jason Armstrong
Police Pot Raids Generate Complaints From Residents
"Ambiguous" wording in Hawaii County's so-called "Peaceful Sky" law needs rectifying because it's hampering the Police Commission's work, says the panel's chairman.
The voter-approved initiative that took effect in November 2008 requires police to give the lowest enforcement priority to people at least 21 years old who grow, possess or smoke marijuana on private property. Possession is capped at 24 plants or 24 ounces of processed pot.
The Peaceful Sky Alliance, previously known as Project Peaceful Sky, pushed for the legislation that passed by nearly a 10,000-vote margin.
But police, citing overriding state and federal anti-pot laws, have continued to conduct marijuana raids. They arrested 197 people for pot offenses during the first five months of last year, according to Police Department statistics that the law requires be compiled every six months.
The enforcement activities have generated complaints that police are violating the law. Some of the allegations have been filed with the nine-member Police Commission, which last month postponed acting on two in hopes of getting the County Council to clarify the law.
(4) REP. COHEN A HIT AT MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT GALA DINNER ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2010 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Ben Evans
WASHINGTON -- Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen acknowledged feeling a little lonely as he addressed a crowd of self-described pot smokers just off Capitol Hill.
After all, sharing a stage with Cheech and Chong and calling for loosening drug laws isn't usually in the campaign playbook of a sitting congressman.
Cohen, a two-term Democrat from Memphis, didn't seem to care Wednesday night as he headlined the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project's 15th annual gala, where the famed stoner comedy duo of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong won a lifetime "trailblazer" award for helping push marijuana use into the mainstream.
"Most of my colleagues didn't want to be here and aren't here. Maybe that says something about my political judgment," Cohen joked to a few hundred people at the $250-per-plate dinner, where sponsors displayed pot "vaporizers" and hemp clothing.
A longtime advocate for legalizing medical marijuana for people with chronic illnesses, Cohen also argues that the government is wasting billions of dollars and wrecking people's lives by cracking down on petty drug offenses.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Is the U.S. Supreme Court going to undo its own recent decision on
the need for defendants to be able to challenge forensics experts?
It looks possible. A Kansas lawmaker has found an substance marketed
as incense that he would like to ban. And, a story about a
responsible city official in Missouri, contrasted with another story
about irresponsible town leadership in Indiana.
Is the U.S. Supreme Court going to undo its own recent decision on the need for defendants to be able to challenge forensics experts? It looks possible. A Kansas lawmaker has found an substance marketed as incense that he would like to ban. And, a story about a responsible city official in Missouri, contrasted with another story about irresponsible town leadership in Indiana.
(5) SUPREME COURT REVISITS RULING ON CHALLENGES TO FORENSIC REPORTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jan 2010
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2010 The Washington Post Company
Author: Robert Barnes
It was just a little more than six months ago that the Supreme Court decided that defendants must have the opportunity to challenge those who prepare forensic reports before they are admitted into evidence. So Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote that opinion, wanted to know why his colleagues were debating it once again Monday.
"Why is this case here, except as an opportunity to upset Melendez-Diaz?" Scalia thundered, referring to the opinion the court rendered at the end of its term last June.
That is exactly what 26 states and the District of Columbia want the court to do, saying the ruling imposes a debilitating procedural and financial requirement on prosecutors. There is at least a theoretical possibility that the 5 to 4 decision will not stand. Now-retired Justice David H. Souter was part of the majority, and he has been replaced by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a former prosecutor the states hope will be more receptive to their arguments.
So Sotomayor, the last to vote when justices meet in their private conferences to discuss cases, was at the forefront of Monday's arguments. She and Scalia dominated questioning, but Sotomayor gave no indication she was ready to overturn the court's earlier decision. She seemed more interested in finding a way to implement the decision in a way that helps prosecutors without offending the Constitution's guarantee that the accused be able to question those who testify against them.
(6) LAWMAKER PROPOSING INCENSE BAN ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2010 The Topeka Capital-Journal
A Kansas lawmaker on Monday will announce his plans for legislation that would ban incense that some say produce a marijuana-like high when smoked.
Rep. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, said in a Sunday news release he will introduce a bill this session that would "address concerns regarding the use of unregulated synthetic drugs in Kansas, in particular two found in a smoke-able herbal product known as K2."
"The two chemicals named JWH-018 and JWH-073 are very similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical in marijuana that gives a user his high," the release said.
Olson will discuss his proposal during a Monday news conference at the Statehouse.
The products are currently legal in the state and sold in a variety of blends that deliver a flowery aroma when burned.
(7) COTTLEVILLE MAYOR MAKES MEDICAL MARIJUANA HIS MISSION ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 9 Jan 2010
Source: St. Charles Journal (MO)
Copyright: 2010 St. Louis Post-Dispatch L.L.C
Author: Raymond Castile
Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber is on a mission to put medical marijuana on the state ballot.
"This has to be done almost undercover, but the support is there," said 70-year-old Yarber. "I think politicians would be surprised at the number of people that would approve medical marijuana use."
The Cottleville Board of Aldermen in July unanimously adopted a resolution Yarber drafted supporting legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
"The feedback was all positive," Yarber said. "I tried to take what I consider a daring step by bringing the topic up and getting people talking about it."
Yarber said he is working with organizations and talking with people in Jefferson City, trying to pressure legislators to put a medical marijuana referendum on the Missouri ballot.
(8) THREE INDIANA TEEN GIRLS SUE CITY OVER STRIP SEARCH ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 11 Jan 2010
Source: Courier-Journal, The (Louisville, KY)
Copyright: 2010 The Courier-Journal
Author: Grace Schneider
MADISON, Ind. - The high school girlfriends weren't known as troublemakers. One was a cheerleader, another a soccer player and the third grew up working on her family's farm.
But the Madison Consolidated High School seniors found themselves shivering on a winter night three years ago in a deserted church parking lot, surrounded by police, being questioned about drugs - and then strip searched.
"We were all so scared," one of them, Kristy Lessley, said in the first interview the women have granted since the incident Jan. 19, 2007. "We just froze."
The fear and embarrassment, however, soon turned to anger for Lessley and her friends, Kara Rhodehamel and Kayla Messer, who sued the city of Madison, former Mayor Albert Huntington, former City Attorney Robert Barlow, former Police Chief Robert Wolf, City Councilman James Lee and four police officers, claiming they were illegally strip-searched and confined.
Madison police have publicly denied any wrongdoing, but the individual defendants declined to comment except for Wolf, who has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached.
Current City Attorney Jason Pattison referred questions about the case to Timothy Born of Evansville, the lead counsel enlisted by the city's insurance company. Born did not respond to several e-mail and phone messages.
The case, pending in U.S. District Court in New Albany, was later expanded to include accusations that Wolf and others knowingly withheld key documents, destroyed evidence of police misconduct and generally stonewalled to protect themselves and officers.
Those claims prompted a federal judge to twice sanction and fine the defendant city and police representatives for interfering with discovery- penalties that Indiana University law professor Alex Tanford said are uncommon in such cases.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The New York Times Magazine carried an interesting story on problems
with chronic parole violators and their contribution to the prison
crisis. Elsewhere, the drug war rolls on with as much success as
ever. In Oklahoma, laws that force citizens show ID to get cold
medicine from pharmacies doesn't seem to be working out too well; in
Texas, signs that Mexican cartels are increasing their presence; and
a story out of Georgia fondly describing a drug dog makes one wonder
why journalists don't treat victims of drug war injustice with as
The New York Times Magazine carried an interesting story on problems with chronic parole violators and their contribution to the prison crisis. Elsewhere, the drug war rolls on with as much success as ever. In Oklahoma, laws that force citizens show ID to get cold medicine from pharmacies doesn't seem to be working out too well; in Texas, signs that Mexican cartels are increasing their presence; and a story out of Georgia fondly describing a drug dog makes one wonder why journalists don't treat victims of drug war injustice with as much reverence.
(9) PRISONERS OF PAROLE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: New York Times Magazine (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Jeffrey Rosen
IN 2004, STEVEN ALM, a state trial judge in Hawaii, was frustrated with the cases on his docket.
Nearly half of the people appearing before him were convicted offenders with drug problems who had been sentenced to probation rather than prison and then repeatedly violated the terms of that probation by missing appointments or testing positive for drugs.
Whether out of neglect or leniency, probation officers would tend to overlook a probationer's first 5 or 10 violations, giving the offender the impression that he could ignore the rules.
But eventually, the officers would get fed up and recommend that Alm revoke probation and send the offender to jail to serve out his sentence.
That struck Alm as too harsh, but the alternative -- winking at probation violations -- struck him as too soft. "I thought, This is crazy, this is a crazy way to change people's behavior," he told me recently.
So Alm decided to try something different.
Judge Alm's story is an example of a new approach to keeping people out of prison that is being championed by some of the most innovative scholars studying deterrence today.
At its core, the approach focuses on establishing the legitimacy of the criminal-justice system in the eyes of those who have run afoul of it or are likely to. Promising less crime and less punishment, this approach includes elements that should appeal to liberals (it doesn't rely on draconian prison sentences) and to conservatives (it stresses individual choice and moral accountability). But at a time when the size of the U.S. prison population is increasingly seen as unsustainable for both budgetary and moral reasons -- the United States represents 5 percent of the world's population and nearly 25 percent of the world's prison population -- the fact that this approach seems to work may be its biggest draw.
The HOPE program, if widely adopted as a model for probation and parole reform, could make a surprisingly large contribution to reducing the prison population. In many states, the majority of prison admissions come not from arrests for new crimes, as you might think, but from probation and parole violations. Nationwide, roughly two-thirds of parolees fail to complete parole successfully. Todd Clear, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, estimates that by eliminating imprisonment across the nation for technical parole violations, reducing the length of parole supervision and ratcheting back prison sentences to their 1988 levels, the United States could reduce its prison population by 50 percent.
(10) RECORD NUMBER OF METH LABS FOUND IN 2009 ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Tulsa World (OK)
Copyright: 2010 World Publishing Co.
Author: Nicole Marshall, Staff Writer
The Number Of Labs Was Higher Than The Previous Five Years Combined.
Police disposed of a record number of meth labs in Tulsa last year, and three people died in fiery explosions caused by the production of the drug.
Records show that 315 labs - more than the previous five years combined - were found in homes, apartments, motels and dump sites throughout the city in 2009.
In comparison, 213 labs were discovered in the entire state in 2008; 42 of those were in Tulsa.
"It was most definitely a record-breaking year," said Sgt. Wendell Franklin, a narcotics investigator who works in the Tulsa Police Department's Special Investigation Division.
The last record was set in 2003, when 214 labs were discovered.
Coincidentally, Tulsa's previous homicide record of 69 killings, set in 2003, also was broken last year when 70 homicides occurred.
(11) CARTELS HOME IN ON DALLAS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2010 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Scott K. Parks, The Dallas Morning News
Distribution Influx Means Drug Houses Could Be Next Door
No one would have wanted Balmer Valencia Bernabe for a neighbor if they had known how he earned a living. And no one did know until 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 21.
Ovella Thompson awakened that Wednesday morning to the sound of federal agents breaking down the door at a creme-colored brick home across the street. Their search warrant alleged that Bernabe, an illegal Mexican immigrant, used the Garland "stash house" near Lake Ray Hubbard to store methamphetamine, vehicles, cash and ledgers documenting his business dealings.
Twenty miles away, at approximately the same minute, a young father named Rafael awakened in his Love Field-area home and pulled back the curtains to watch federal agents bust into a house across the street and arrest Bernabe. "You could hear the cops screaming," recalled Rafael, who asked that his last name not be used. "Who could have known? He and his wife have kids. He looked like a normal guy."
Bernabe, at age 34, is anything but a normal guy.
Although he has pleaded not guilty to drug charges, federal investigators say he exemplifies how Mexican drug cartels have extended their operations to the retail level in the United States.
(12) CANINE CRIME FIGHTERS: DRUG DOGS BECOMING A VALUABLE ASSET TO ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jan 2010
Source: Albany Herald, The (GA)
Copyright: 2010 The Albany Herald Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Ricki Barker, Staff Writer
ADDU Says Drug Dogs Have A Significant Impact On The Work The Drug Unit Does.
ALBANY Coco and Ross are two of Albany Dougherty Drug Unit's hardest working agents. Not only are they reliable, team oriented, and dedicated, they both have a nose for drugs not to mention four paws and shiny coat. Victor Camp and Shirley Adams know the importance of their hairy partners, Coco and Ross, and the sometimes unbelievable work they do for the drug unit. Camp, whose partner is five-year-old Coco, said the black shepherd is always excited and eager to work. "She's just like a human partner," he said. "She rides with me and we talk."
Camp demonstrated how Coco signals for drugs during an interview with The Herald in which the black shepherd signaled to varying amounts of methamphetamine hidden among ADDU's parking lot. Coco waited patiently as Camp hid meth in various places and when given the signal to begin work she immediately set out to find the drugs with much tail-wagging and speed. Adams, who was also at the demonstration, said a person could tell the bond and trust between a handler and a dog by the dog's reaction.
"They have a close bond," she said of Camp and Coco. "He doesn't even have to use a leash (to guide her). You know the partnership is working when the dog can block any outside stimuli and focus on the job they are being asked to do." Adams said that both dogs have different personalities, much like their owners. "Ross is a more aggressive dog," she said.
"He is very protective of me." Adams said that the longer a dog is with their handler the more protective they become. "You build that bond with them and eventually they become your family," she said. Adams said Ross, a Czech shepherd, has come to know various officers voices on ADDU's radios. "He can hear the tone of someone's voice and know who it is and if they are excited he gets excited.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
Have you ever noticed that prohibitionists who make the claim that
the tax revenue and savings generated by cannabis regulation would be
more than offset by the increased social and public health costs
associated with cannabis use have typically very little understanding
of public health and economics? For example, none of them seem to
consider that cannabis is an economic substitute for alcohol.
A bill that would legalize, regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol in
California has passed a public safety committee, but not without the
usual misinformed resistance and ironic allegations that legislators
are acting hastily.
New Jersey is poised to become the 14th state to regulate cannabis
for medicinal purposes after the state's legislature passed a bill
Meanwhile, the stupidity of cannabis prohibition continues to be
demonstrated, ad nauseam, in the press, for anyone who cares to
notice. Imagine what the repetition is like for those of us at
the Media Awareness Project.
Have you ever noticed that prohibitionists who make the claim that the tax revenue and savings generated by cannabis regulation would be more than offset by the increased social and public health costs associated with cannabis use have typically very little understanding of public health and economics? For example, none of them seem to consider that cannabis is an economic substitute for alcohol.
A bill that would legalize, regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol in California has passed a public safety committee, but not without the usual misinformed resistance and ironic allegations that legislators are acting hastily.
New Jersey is poised to become the 14th state to regulate cannabis for medicinal purposes after the state's legislature passed a bill this week.
Meanwhile, the stupidity of cannabis prohibition continues to be demonstrated, ad nauseam, in the press, for anyone who cares to notice. Imagine what the repetition is like for those of us at the Media Awareness Project.
(13) HEALTH COSTS OF LEGALIZATION WOULD OUTSTRIP REVENUE GAINS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: John Redman
Note: Redman is executive director of Community Alliances for Drug
Free Youth in San Diego.
Marijuana legalization is a hot topic in California. Currently, there are four ballot initiatives being circulated for signatures and one Assembly bill (AB 390) being considered that propose to legalize marijuana use for those 21 and older.
Marijuana legalization would have tremendous negative impacts on our society. First, the proposed revenue from taxes is mush less than the potential cost of the resulting substance abuse impacts. Second, the increased access would increase the use by, and availability to, youth. Finally, and most important, are the health and addiction problems that marijuana has been proven to cause.
Robert Ingenito, chief of research and statistics for the state Board of Equalization, hypothetically determined that the total revenue from a proposed tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana could potentially be up to $1.4 billion. But Ingenito stated, "I would like to stress the uncertainty, considerable uncertainty, surrounding the assumptions we had to make." Even if these assumptions were true, we have to take into account the social costs that regulating marijuana would incur.
For comparison, in 2005 the state of California collected $1.4 billion ($38.69 per capita) in taxes on alcohol and tobacco sales combined, but at the same time spent $19.9 billion ($545.09 per capita) on costs related to substance abuse, including criminal justice, education, mental health, public safety and prevention services. In other words, for every $1 collected in alcohol and tobacco taxes, $13.80 was spent on costs related to substance abuse. You don't have to be a genius to conclude that this investment does not sound like a good financial decision.
(14) BILL TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA ADVANCES THROUGH ASSEMBLY PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jan 2010
Source: Pasadena Star-News, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Pasadena Star News
Author: Rebecca Kimitch, Staff Writer
In a historic vote, a panel of California lawmakers Tuesday approved legislation to tax and regulate marijuana sales similar to how alcohol is sold.
But even while celebrating its passage, supporters of the bill acknowledged it would not become law this year.
Still, Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group, called the vote the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition in the country.
"This is not only the first time any legislative body in the nation has formally addressed ending decades of failed marijuana prohibition, but also actually voted to end it," he said.
The Assembly's public safety committee passed the bill 4-3 on Tuesday.
The committee's vice chairman, Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, called the legislation one of the worst bills he has seen the committee pass.
"It is astonishing in this day and age we could pass something this bad. It is a good sign of how far liberal this Legislature has become," he said.
He blamed liberal members of the committee - four Bay Area Democrats - - for the bill's advancement.
Rather than generating revenue, Hagman said it would cost the state through increased health care expenses and the costs of combatting what he said was an inevitable black market for drugs.
"I don't think we have all thought through the consequences of this legislation," he said.
Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Claremont, agreed.
"The suggestion that we should take illegal activities and make them legal for the purposes of attaching fees and penalties so the state can make more money is absurd," he said. "At what point do we legalize prostitution because it has fundraising potential?"
(15) NEW JERSEY VOTE BACKS MARIJUANA FOR SEVERELY ILL ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jan 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Page: A1, Front Page, New York edition
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: David Kocieniewski
Both Houses Pass Bill
TRENTON -- The New Jersey Legislature approved a measure on Monday that would make the state the 14th in the nation, but one of the few on the East Coast, to legalize the use of marijuana to help patients with chronic illnesses.
The measure -- which would allow patients diagnosed with severe illnesses like cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to have access to marijuana grown and distributed through state-monitored dispensaries -- was passed by the General Assembly and State Senate on the final day of the legislative session.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would sign it into law before leaving office next Tuesday. Supporters said that within nine months, patients with a prescription for marijuana from their doctors should be able to obtain it at one of six locations.
"It's nice to finally see a day when democracy helps heal people," said Charles Kwiatkowski, 38, one of dozens of patients who rallied at the State House before the vote and broke into applause when the lawmakers approved the measure.
Mr. Kwiatkowski, of Hazlet, N.J., who has multiple sclerosis, said his doctors have recommended marijuana to treat neuralgia, which causes him to lose the feeling and the use of his right arm and shoulders. "The M.S. Society has shown that this drug will help slow the progression of my disease. Why would I want to use anything else?"
The bill's approval, which comes after years of lobbying by patients' rights groups and advocates of less restrictive drug laws, was nearly derailed at the 11th hour as some Democratic lawmakers wavered and Governor-elect Christopher J. Christie, a Republican, went to the State House and expressed reservations about it.
In the end, however, it passed by comfortable margins in both houses: 48-14 in the General Assembly and 25-13 in the State Senate.
(16) ST. CLAIR SHORES MAN DEPORTED OVER 10-YEAR-OLD POT CHARGES ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Column: Travels With Charlie
Copyright: 2010 The Detroit News
Author: Charlie LeDuff, The Detroit News
All-But-American Man Deported After Trip to Mexico
Stupidity is not a crime. But stupidity is a deportable offense.
Case in point: Charlie Castillo was born in Canada, the son of Maltese immigrants. The family came to Detroit when he was 1 year old and since then Castillo has spent his entire life in the metro area.
Castillo, 54, was as American as they come. He spent 33 years working in the factories of General Motors. He bought a little house in the suburbs and raised three children there. He also was convicted a decade ago for growing two pot plants in his yard and possessing a quarter-pound of pot in his house. Both felonies.
Castillo is not an American, technically. He never bothered to apply for citizenship and so lived his life as a permanent resident alien. According to immigration law, Castillo's marijuana convictions make him akin to a narcotics trafficker. And narcotics traffickers are supposed to be deported.
But Immigration agents never bothered with Castillo because Castillo was small fry. Immigration authorities do not bother with a lot of people in the United States. There are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, according to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center.
And in many big cities like Los Angeles, the police are prohibited from contacting immigration officials no matter how heinous a crime the person commits even if it is known to local authorities that the person is in the country illegally.
For the marijuana charges, Castillo was allowed [to] pay fines, told to keep his nose clean and returned to his ranch house in St. Clair Shores.
'It Was Stupid'
COMMENTS: ( Top )
According to Reuters, an important "official at the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security" wrote a report warning that a "clandestine
fleet" of aircraft which "likely" includes a few 727s are (or might
be, at least) "flying drugs" from South America to locations in
Africa. How do we know this is so? Why, "officials say", that's how!
What is more alarming is that factions of al-Qaeda "are believed to
be" nearby. But, we're not too sure after all, because the
(anonymous) "U.S. official who wrote the report for Homeland
Security said the al-Qaeda connection was unclear at the time."
Human Rights Watch last week called on the Chinese government to
immediately shut what are euphemistically called "drug
rehabilitation centers" but in reality are forced labor
concentration camps. The centers are "de facto penal colonies where
inmates are sent to factories and farms, fed substandard food and
denied basic medical care". (This is in stark contrast to the humane
treatment given to U.S. drug inmates who are sent to prison
factories and farms, fed substandard food and denied basic medical
care.) "The basic concept is inhumane and flawed," said Human Rights
Watch spokesman Dr. Joseph Amon.
A new anti-drug web site for kids created by Health Canada, links to
U.S. government prohibition web sites in a move seen as yet another
attempt by the extreme right-wing Harper regime to pander to U.S.
prohibitionists. "Our anti-drug policy has become more
propagandistic than the previous one under the Liberals, and it's
become more punitive," said Eugene Oscapella, drug policy professor
at the University of Ottawa. "It's about ideology, it's about what
policies we can bring in, to go ahead and get votes."
And finally, from New Zealand, a wonderful model for reform that
deserves emulation everywhere. It is called, "live like it's legal."
Trailblazing reformers "live like [cannabis] is legal" and go about
their lives as normal citizens. This strategy was revealed in the
wake of media exposure of cannabis clubs in Auckland New Zealand
which are set to spread across the nation. "We have demand from
virtually every city in the country," admitted one club owner. "We
wish to legalise cannabis, but we also wish to live like it's
According to Reuters, an important "official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security" wrote a report warning that a "clandestine fleet" of aircraft which "likely" includes a few 727s are (or might be, at least) "flying drugs" from South America to locations in Africa. How do we know this is so? Why, "officials say", that's how! What is more alarming is that factions of al-Qaeda "are believed to be" nearby. But, we're not too sure after all, because the (anonymous) "U.S. official who wrote the report for Homeland Security said the al-Qaeda connection was unclear at the time."
Human Rights Watch last week called on the Chinese government to immediately shut what are euphemistically called "drug rehabilitation centers" but in reality are forced labor concentration camps. The centers are "de facto penal colonies where inmates are sent to factories and farms, fed substandard food and denied basic medical care". (This is in stark contrast to the humane treatment given to U.S. drug inmates who are sent to prison factories and farms, fed substandard food and denied basic medical care.) "The basic concept is inhumane and flawed," said Human Rights Watch spokesman Dr. Joseph Amon.
A new anti-drug web site for kids created by Health Canada, links to U.S. government prohibition web sites in a move seen as yet another attempt by the extreme right-wing Harper regime to pander to U.S. prohibitionists. "Our anti-drug policy has become more propagandistic than the previous one under the Liberals, and it's become more punitive," said Eugene Oscapella, drug policy professor at the University of Ottawa. "It's about ideology, it's about what policies we can bring in, to go ahead and get votes."
And finally, from New Zealand, a wonderful model for reform that deserves emulation everywhere. It is called, "live like it's legal." Trailblazing reformers "live like [cannabis] is legal" and go about their lives as normal citizens. This strategy was revealed in the wake of media exposure of cannabis clubs in Auckland New Zealand which are set to spread across the nation. "We have demand from virtually every city in the country," admitted one club owner. "We wish to legalise cannabis, but we also wish to live like it's legal."
(17) ROGUE PLANES FLYING DRUGS ACROSS ATLANTIC ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2010 Reuters
Al-Qaeda Links; Officials Worried Weapons Also Smuggled To Rebels
In early 2008, an official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a report to his superiors detailing what he called "the most significant development in the criminal exploitation of aircraft since 9/11."
The document warned a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most unstable countries.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, was ignored, and the problem has since escalated into what security officials in several countries describe as a global security threat.
The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al-Qaeda are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe, the officials say.
Alexandre Schmidt, regional representative for West and Central Africa for the UN Office on Drugs &Crime, said in Dakar this week the aviation network has expanded in the past 12 months and now likely includes several Boeing 727 aircraft.
The U.S. official who wrote the report for Homeland Security said the al-Qaeda connection was unclear at the time. He is a counter-narcotics aviation expert who asked to remain anonymous as he is not authorized to speak on the record. He said he was dismayed by the lack of attention to the matter since he wrote the report.
(18) CHINESE ENSLAVE ADDICTS IN 'REHAB CENTRES' ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Scotland On Sunday (UK)
Copyright: 2010 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.
Author: Andrew Jacobs
Although she said it was her first time smoking the drug, Fu, 41, was sent to one of China's compulsory drug rehabilitation centres. The minimum stay is two years, and life is an unremitting gauntlet of physical abuse and forced labour 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.
According to the United Nations, up to half a million Chinese citizens are held at these centres at any given time. Detentions are meted out by the police without trial.
Now international human rights activists are stepping up opposition to the centres.
Created in 2008 as part of a reform effort to grapple with the country's growing narcotics problem, the centres have become de facto penal colonies where inmates are sent to factories and farms, fed substandard food and denied basic medical care, lawyers and drugs, experts have claimed.
"They call them detoxification centres, but everyone knows that detox takes a few days, not two years," said Joseph Amon, an epidemiologist with Human Rights Watch in New York. "The basic concept is inhumane and flawed."
Last week Human Rights Watch issued a report on the drug rehabilitation system that replaced the Communist Party's previous approach of sending addicts to labour camps, where they would toil alongside thieves, prostitutes and political dissidents.
The report, Where Darkness Knows No Limits, calls on the government to immediately shut the centres.
(19) GOVERNMENT LINKS TO U.S. ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jan 2010
Source: Embassy (Canada)
Copyright: 2010 Hill Times Publishing Inc.
Author: Carl Meyer, Staff Writer
New Health Canada Website Leads To American Equivalents.
Questions are being raised after Health Canada's new anti-drug website for youth included links to a similar campaign being run in the US. Health Canada says it had no choice but to link to several American sources on its new youth anti-drug website as no applicable Canadian sources existed. However, others see it as the government moving Canadian policy more in line with its southern neighbour.
One expert, however, sees the links as a telltale sign the government is attempting to beef up the credibility of its national anti-drug campaign in order to resonate with voters who approve of the traditionally American war on drugs.
"Our anti-drug policy has become more propagandistic than the previous one under the Liberals, and it's become more punitive," said University of Ottawa drug policy professor Eugene Oscapella. "It's about ideology, it's about what policies we can bring in, to go ahead and get votes."
Mr. Oscapella, a founding member of the reform group Canadian Foundation For Drug Policy, noted the shift is "ironic" considering the Obama administration's approach to drug policy differs significantly from the Bush administration's zero-tolerance approach.
"For years, the excuse Canadians used for not making our drug policies less punitive was that the Americans wouldn't allow us. Now there's quite strong evidence that the United States is beginning to moderate its stance on drug policy," Mr. Oscapella said. "Obama himself admitted that he used cocaine and marijuana as a youth. He's declared the war on drugs to be an utter failure when he was a Senator a number of years ago."
(20) POT CLUBS GO NATIONWIDE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Sunday News (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
Author: Steve Hopkins
Cannabis clubs - where users flout the law by meeting to smoke and buy the Class C drug - may soon open nationwide.
Next month founding members of New Zealand's first cannabis connoisseurs' club, Auckland's Daktory, plan to meet fellow users throughout the country to help set-up Daktories in other cities.
"We have demand from virtually every city in the country," Daktory founder Dakta Green told Sunday News.
"I would expect to see in the next 12 months Daktories in every major city in this country, every city should have at least one - 2010 is the year people within our culture are demanding changes throughout the world."
That model is planned to be replicated nationwide: "We are a model for that to happen".
Dad-of-three Green, who is also a NORML - The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - board member wants cannabis legalised. The Daktory, like NORML's aptly named Mary Jane bus which is parked there, is a protest vehicle.
"We wish to legalise cannabis, but we also wish to live like it's legal," Green said.
"So in my home [Green lives at the Daktory] we have a motto 'live like it's legal'. We just think it's wrong and there's no reason to continue with serious criminality of something that is as relatively harmless as cannabis."
And Green and his members certainly 'live like it's legal' at the Daktory.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
SEWAGE AS A MEASURE OF SOCIETY'S DRUG USE ( Top )
By Daniela Perdomo, AlterNet. Posted January 15, 2010.
Testing municipal wastewater for drugs may be the next big thing in public health research. The methodology will likely confirm the universality of drug use.
THE WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON PEOPLE ( Top )
by Ethan Nadelmann
Ethan Nadelmann is part of Change.org's Changemakers network, comprised of leading voices for social change. Change.org asked Mr Nadelmann to respond to questions to provide context for his work and the causes he supports.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 01/10/10 - Bill Kleiber
Bill Kleiber of Restorative Justice Ministry + Phil Smith w Corrupt Cop Stories
Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/10/10 - Dean Becker
DTN listener calls about the mechanism of drug war
CALIFORNIA IS FREE TO MAKE ITS OWN DRUG LAWS ( Top )
Legalizing and taxing marijuana, as a state bill would do, is smart policy -- and there's little Washington can do to stop us.
By Tamar Todd
AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID BRATZER OF LEAP ( Top )
David Bratzer and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Have Fought in the Trenches of the War on Drugs and Want to End It
by Jacob Shafer
B.C. COURT AFFIRMS INJECTION SITE'S RIGHT TO EXIST ( Top )
The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed an attempt by the federal government to shut down Vancouver's supervised injection site on the city's troubled Downtown Eastside.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
WRITE A LETTER ( Top )
New Jersey Becomes A Medical Marijuana State. A DrugSense Focus Alert
THANK PATIENTS FOR NJ'S MEDICAL MARIJUANA VICTORY ( Top )
Send your message of thanks and support to the courageous patients in New Jersey who worked to get a medical marijuana law passed in their state.
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA THE BEST OPTION ( Top )
By Wayne Phillips
This is in regard to Worth Richardson's column Wednesday, "The war on drugs is not working; a new approach is needed."
Richardson succinctly hits the proverbial nail on the head when he states, "It seems pretty clear America's war on drugs is very inefficient and not working."
"We need, and I use the word 'all out war,' on all fronts," was Richard Nixon's reaction to his national commission's recommendation that marijuana no longer be a criminal offense, according to Nixon's Oval Office tapes. The year after Nixon's "all out war" on marijuana, arrests jumped by over 100,000.
The Nixon White House tapes from 1971-72 demonstrate that the foundation of the modern war on marijuana was based on Nixonian prejudice, culture war and misinformation.
The one fundamental difference that has changed dramatically is that today's users are starting at a considerably younger age. This trend began escalating correspondingly with Nixon's intensification of marijuana prohibition as enforced by the then newly formed DEA (1973).
In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade-related assets and $477 million worth of drugs. However, according to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the U.S. is as much as $64 billion a year, making the DEA's efforts to intercept the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. less than 1 percent effective.
The notion of losing the war on drugs is only troubling (for some) until it is realized that waging this "war" is, in effect, allowing/giving de facto control of substances deemed illicit to whosoever amasses the wherewithal by whatever means necessary to produce and/or supply the demand for those substances -- just like when alcohol prohibition ruled the day circa 1920 to 1933.
After several years, alcohol prohibition became a failure in North America and elsewhere, as smuggling and bootlegging (rum-running) became widespread and organized crime took control of the distribution of alcohol.
As an article in the Wall Street Journal stated, "the biggest step against Mexican cartels would be to simply legalize their main product: marijuana, a cash crop that accounts for over half of their revenue."
Legalize, regulate, tax/licence and educate about cannabis marijuana; it's the only feasible alternative remaining.
Wayne Phillips, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Pubdate: Tue, 5 Jan 2010
Source: Culpeper Star-Exponent (VA)
LETTER WRITER OF THE MONTH - DECEMBER ( Top )
DrugSense recognizes John Chase of Palm Harbor, Florida for his five letters published during December which brings his total that we know of to 126. You may read his published letters at http://www.mapinc.org/writers/John+Chase
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
The Hypocrisy Of John Suthers ( Top )
By Sean Paige
"I would rather have legalization than have that widespread government-sanctioned hypocrisy," Attorney General John Suthers said this week, regarding action the legislature might or might not take on medical marijuana. But when did it become the attorney general's job to police "hypocrisy," rather than criminality? If that's his job, he could charge himself with a violation, based on that statement alone.
Suthers opposes legalization of any kind, even if it would end the alleged "hypocrisy." He has for as long as I've been paying attention. He's simply having trouble adapting to new realities, so he wants to roll the clock back as far and as fast as he can. He has plenty of colleagues in law enforcement (and a good number of politicians) willing to join him in that effort. But there's a bit of "hypocrisy" on that side as well.
Americans can dose themselves and their children with massive quantities of any pharmacy-bought drug - drugs that are widely abused and aren't always safe, even with FDA approval. They can sop their brains with alcohol, as long as they don't get behind the wheel while under the influence. But if some of them find answers to their physical or psychological maladies in the "evil weed," Suthers raises red flags.
Does that constitute "hypocrisy"? It's "inconsistency," or a case of "cognitive dissonance," at the very least.
Medical marijuana use has been legal in Colorado for nearly a decade, like it or not. Yet providers and patients have had to operate in the shadows, fearing that abiding by the state constitution would invite a federal drug bust. And Suthers, who is sworn to uphold the state constitution, was content with that arrangement, in which a legal, constitutionally sanctioned activity was treated as an illegal one. He was content to have law-abiding Coloradans slink around like common criminals. Instead of siding with Coloradans, and the Colorado Constitution, Suthers and his predecessors sided with the George W. Bush Justice Department, which was also stuck in the "just say no" era.
Does that constitute "hypocrisy"? Some might say so.
The AG's major complaint about medical marijuana, as I understand it, is that it's all a giant scam - a backdoor path to legalization. He, like a lot of law enforcers, look back fondly on a time when the "drug war" battle lines were boldly drawn in the sand. Use of pot for any purpose was prohibited. Drug busters were the good guys, marijuana users the bad. Partial legalization complicates their jobs. It's disorienting. It goes against deeply ingrained (but largely personal) prejudices.
Suthers is nostalgic for that simpler time, because it made his job easier. But policy isn't and shouldn't be made for the convenience of attorney generals. His personal prejudices about pot and potheads are largely beside the point. And if he can't adapt to the new situation, and defend the Colorado Constitution, he should go back to private practice.
I'm not an advocate for medical marijuana or non-medical marijuana. I don't doubt there's some abuse of the new system (such as it is) going on. And, yes, I'm sure some out there view the medical marijuana movement as a circuitous route to full legalization. But I am an advocate for freedom, reason, limited government, states' rights and constitutionalism (both state and federal), which in this case puts me at odds with an attorney general who (at least on paper) espouses some of these same values.
Am I guilty of "hypocrisy" for wanting to move forward - for wanting to deal with the new reality constructively and creatively? Perhaps. But the far greater hypocrisy is in claiming to uphold the state constitution with one hand while trying to undermine it with the other.
Sean Paige serves on the Colorado Springs City Council. He co-chairs a task force on the medical marijuana issue. This piece originally appeared at the Denver Post -
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"Let me say that the path I did take for a brief period of my life was not of reckless drug use, hurting others, but it was a path of quiet rebellion, of a little experimentation of a darker side of my confusion in a confusing world, lost in the midst of finding my identity." - Jennifer Capriati
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