This Just In
(1)Massacre Response Fails To Convince
(2)State Rep. Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill
(3)Museum Exhibit Studies Plight Of The Homeless
(4)Cannabis Expo In Berlin Saturday

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-Award-Winning Ibogaine Researcher Howard Lotsof Dies At 66

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 5 Feb 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ken Ellingwood, Reporting from Mexico City

Mexico Under Siege

Officials' Suggestions That Youths Slain at a Juarez Teen Party Had Drug Ties Enrage Relatives.

Last weekend's massacre of at least 15 people at a teen party in Ciudad Juarez was horrifying enough.

Then the authorities got involved.

Mexican officials have issued sketchy and conflicting information, including a death toll that went down. They initially said they were at a loss to explain why gunmen would open fire on decent kids in a private home. Then they produced a suspect who said the attack was part of a feud between drug-trafficking gangs, suggesting that at least some of those targeted weren't so decent after all.

When family members exploded with indignation, authorities backpedaled.

To understand why so many Mexicans lack trust in their country's law enforcement system, the brutal killings -- and the clumsy response by authorities -- offer a handy Exhibit A.

The Juarez case has already become a political hot potato, with parents of the victims calling for the resignation of President Felipe Calderon, and politicians across the spectrum jabbing fingers at one another amid the early phases of an election season.

The Senate said it would summon top officials to explain the Calderon administration's public safety strategy and the latest Juarez violence. There have been calls for a state of emergency in Juarez and even a plea for U.N. peacekeepers.

The loudest voices have been those of fed-up Juarez residents who say the authorities have added insult to their grief.

"I can assure you my nephews were good kids, students. My nephews weren't into drugs, they didn't belong to any gang," Patricia Davila, the aunt of two victims, said by telephone from Juarez.

"We're angry with the authorities because so far we don't see any solution to what happened. On the contrary, now they're staining the image of these kids by saying they're mixed up in gangs. It makes a mockery of the pain of the parents, of us relatives."




Pubdate: Fri, 5 Feb 2010
Source: Morning Sun, The (KS)
Copyright: 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Matthew Clark

TOPEKA - On Thursday, a Wichita lawmaker introduced a bill that would create state-registered "compassionate care centers" allowing for people suffering from chronic illness who have a doctor's prescription to receive medical marijuana.

State Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, brought up the bill to legalize marijuana for people with prescriptions.

"Mine is kind of personal," Finney said. "I am a lupus patient and I have been through the treatment and I have met a lot of people with chronic conditions. One of the reasons I ran was because I wanted to be an advocate for those people."

According to The Associated Press, Rep. Scott Schwab, a Republican from Olathe, opposes the measure saying: "It has no benefit for pain management. All it does is make you crave another bag of chips."

Kansas is the 14th state to introduce similar measures. The Maryland Legislature is currently looking into the issue as well.




Pubdate: Fri, 5 Feb 2010
Source: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Courier-Post
Author: Kim Mulford, Courier-Post Staff

In 1994, Phillipe Bourgois started hanging out with the homeless heroin users and crack smokers who lived in an encampment six blocks from his home.

Then an anthropology professor at San Francisco State University, Bourgois wanted to answer a basic question: "Should I be giving them a quarter every time I see them?"

Introduced by a needle-exchange activist, Bourgois immediately was welcomed in.

"I told them I was an anthropology professor interested in writing about their lives and, boom, they loved that idea," said Bourgois, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and is now studying the Puerto Rican community in a drug-ravaged neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

"Because when you stop and think about it, they want to be taken seriously," said Bourgois. "They want to be treated with respect and they believe they have a lot to tell the rest of the country."

Bourgois and his research partner, Jeff Schonberg, spent 12 years on the project, which culminated in a book and now an exhibit at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia titled "Righteous Dopefiend: Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America."




Pubdate: Fri, 5 Feb 2010
Source: Oshkosh Northwestern (WI)
Copyright: 2010 Gannett Co., Inc.
Author: Patricia Wolff, of The Northwestern

BERLIN - The timing may be a little off for a hemp and cannabis expo in Berlin Saturday, coming on the heels of a major drug bust of some 30 illegal drug manufacturers and dealers in the city, but the coordinators of the event make no apologies.

The T.H.C Expo is being held to tout the wonders of medical marijuana and the economic potential of hemp farming.

"We planned this before the big drug bust," said Narin Selthofner of Green Lake.

Selthofner and her activist husband Jay Selthofner helped plan the exposition at the public library to put the spotlight on the benefits of the cannabis plant as medicine and an agricultural crop. Green Lake, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties were once important hemp-growing areas and the plant still grows wild in the region, Narin Selthofner said.

The T.H.C Expo, which stands for Talking Hemp and Cannabis, aims to "openly and honestly" discuss the Medical Marijuana Act and the hemp farming bill being debated this year by state lawmakers, she said.

Hemp can be used to produce non-toxic diesel fuel, clothing and textiles, cosmetics, paints and cleaners, paper and building materials. An important part of the local economy was stifled when the federal government banned hemp cultivation, Narin Selthofner said.





Catholic Charities in Albany, New York understands that needle exchanges work, so they are starting new programs in the city. While that organization seems to "get it," elsewhere, the disconnect between policies and responses continues. As one observer from Massachusetts noted, the defeat of Martha Coakley for U.S. Senate may have had much to do with her contempt for voters and supporters of drug reform as she served as the state's attorney general. In North Carolina, drug agents apparently don't understand how much damage they have done to a local concert venue by performing a drug sweep (including backstage) before a Willie Nelson show - though other officials are starting to get the picture. And in Hawaii, the drug war causes problems that authorities perceive as drug problems, while citizens demand voter initiated changes in policy actually be implemented. Will those demands fall on deaf ears?


Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Paul Grondahl, Staff writer

Church Agency's Needle Exchange Aims to Cut Disease Risk

ALBANY-- After 20 years of alleviating suffering for people touched by AIDS, Catholic Charities will take one of its boldest steps yet on Monday: passing out free syringes to IV drug users in two urban neighborhoods to prevent the spread of the disease.

Anticipating criticism, the social services agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany spent five years planning and vetting the needle exchange program, which received approval from its trustees and board chairman, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.

"I understand there will be questions, but this is common sense," said Sister Maureen Joyce, CEO of Catholic Charities. "I strongly believe in this. It will save lives."

Organizers have met with neighborhood associations, drug users, police, prosecutors and AIDS activists. The program, called Project Safe Point, is supported by Albany County District Attorney David Soares, the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York and local public health officials.

The anonymity of those who use the free service will be maintained.




Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jan 2010
Source: Daily News Tribune (Waltham, MA)
Copyright: 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.
By Richard M. Evans

As a Main Street lawyer, I rise in defense of Martha Coakley, who is not to blame for her inglorious defeat. Instead, blame belongs to Mike Capuano, the progressive and likeable congressman from Somerville who lost to her in the Democratic primary. But for a gross political miscalculation, he might well have been the Democratic nominee, with dramatically different results for Massachusetts and the nation.


* In November of 2008, slightly over a year ago, Massachusetts voters elected Barrack Obama by 62%, and passed an initiative to decriminalize marijuana by 65%. (Yes, 65%!

* Martha Coakley, long-resistant to marijuana reform, led a phalanx of prosecutors and law enforcement officials in opposition to the initiative. After the landslide victory for decriminalization, she resolutely stood her ground and encouraged cities and towns to pass new anti-pot ordinances, usually at the behest of local police, confident that her judgment was superior to that of the voters.

* As a congressman, Rep. Capuano co-sponsored a federal marijuana decriminalization bill, but hardly mentioned it in the campaign. Not once did he question Martha's support for prohibition. Not once did he challenge her to explain why otherwise law-abiding people ought to be arrested and have their lives ruined for a small amount of pot. He totally failed to mention (or perhaps notice) that he and 65% of the voters opposed Martha on this issue.

Why didn't Mike Capuano reach out to the voters who already agreed with him? Why didn't he press Martha on an issue where she was already proven to be on the losing side? Why did he ignore the huge body of voters who shared his support for decriminalization? In short, why didn't he seize the low-hanging fruit?




Pubdate: Tue, 2 Feb 2010
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2010 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Anne Blythe

The Duplin County district attorney has asked state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents to provide him with detailed reports on the alcohol and moonshine bust last week that netted six members of the Willie Nelson entourage. District Attorney Dewey Hudson said Monday that he had heard many complaints since Thursday, when the entourage members were cited outside the Duplin County Events Center for possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana and three-fourths of a quart of moonshine.

Some have questioned why 14 ALE agents were sent to work the Willie Nelson concert with Duplin County sheriff's deputies and Kenansville police.

Others have complained that such raids will keep other bands and musicians from booking the $13 million events center in the small town of Kenansville. "A lot of these events centers are in the red to begin with," said Hudson, a prosecutor for three decades. "There's a lot of people wondering, 'Why did you do this to begin with?' I'm trying to make sure everything has been done appropriately."

Nelson, the maverick country music star with the reputation of being a longtime pot smoker, was scheduled to play Thursday night before a crowd of 3,000. But an hour before the show, ALE agents and local law enforcement officers fanned out across the events center grounds and ended up citing 14 people with 25 violations. Nelson's bass player, Dan Edward "Bee" Spears, 60, of Franklin, Tenn., was cited on a tour bus where many of the citations were issued. Five production crew members were also cited. John Duane Vogt, the general manager of the events center, and Donald Farrior, an assistant from Kenansville, were cited by ALE agents for interfering with the investigation.




Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 2010
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2010 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Mary Vorsino

Authorities say the death of 23-month-old Cyrus Belt, whose accused killer was high on crystal meth, along with virtually every adult in the toddler's life, highlights the major role illegal drugs play in many crimes - from murders to thefts - in the Islands.

Witnesses detailed in court this week the crystal meth use by not only accused killer Matthew Higa, but by Belt's mother, Nancy Chanco, her live-in boyfriend, her father and Higa's father.

Authorities say the case is a stark example of how drugs are linked to crime, and they're warning residents that though the crystal meth problem is not at the epidemic proportions it once was, it remains a factor in many crimes.

"We still have an immense problem" with meth, said city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

Authorities have estimated that as much as two-thirds of all law enforcement investigations in Hawai'i are drug-related.

"Most of the crime that we see in Hawai'i, including the violent crime, is associated with drug abuse or drug trafficking," said Larry Burnett, director of the Hawai'i High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a partnership of law-enforcement agencies.




Pubdate: Wed, 03 Feb 2010
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2010 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Author: John Burnett

A County Council committee heard from about two dozen people Tuesday night who testified that police are ignoring the voter-passed initiative making adult personal use of marijuana the lowest law-enforcement priority.

The committee on Public Safety and Parks and Recreation received and filed a request from Police Commission Chairman Thomas Whittemore to review and rectify what he called ambiguities in the initiative passed into law by almost 58 percent of the island's voters in November 2008.

Adam Lehman, one of the authors of the so-called "Peaceful Sky" ordinance, took exception to Whittemore's reference to ambiguities.

"The only thing ambiguous about this new law is the lack of willingness by some county members to honor the will of the people," Lehman testified. "This statement that was made by the chair of the police commission that the county wasn't allowed to, quote, clean up the language, unquote. How insulting to the people you serve. This language is clean. The minds of those who are not willing to accept this law is what needs cleaning up."

The law makes adult use and possession of 24 or fewer ounces of cannabis on private property, or the cultivation 24 or fewer plants, the lowest law-enforcement priority. It also directs the council not to accept money related to marijuana eradication.

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong, the committee's chairman, asked county Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida if the law prohibits the police "from accepting funding for marijuana eradication."

"It prevents the acceptance ... yes, in regards to the lowest law-enforcement priority," Ashida replied.

Yagong said that he perceives a "disconnect" between voters and law enforcement over the issue.




A police brutality trial continues in New York, while delusional failure from both the Coast Guard and DEA are publicized as heroic by Parade Magazine. And, as usual, corruption remains an integral part of the drug war.


Pubdate: Thu, 4 Feb 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Kareem Fahim

A baton that the authorities seized from Officer Richard Kern contained a trace of blood in a mix of genetic material that possibly included that of a Brooklyn man he is charged with sexually abusing in 2008, an expert witness testified on Wednesday.

The witness, Sarah Philipps, a DNA specialist with the medical examiner's office, gave that conclusion in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on the day prosecutors wrapped up their case against three police officers who are accused in an attack on the man, Michael Mineo. One of the lawyers for the officers immediately called the finding "meaningless."

The DNA evidence was seen as one of several critical components of the prosecution's case against the three officers. Prosecutors charge that on Oct. 15, 2008, as several police officers were arresting Mr. Mineo, whom they had seen smoking marijuana, Officer Kern sodomized him with his baton. Two other officers, Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales, are charged with crimes related to covering up the abuse.

The prosecution is also relying on testimony given by another police officer who said that he saw Officer Kern jab his baton between Mr. Mineo's buttocks, and on the testimony of medical experts, who have said that Mr. Mineo's injuries could have been caused by trauma from the baton.

Ms. Philipps said that she retrieved the blood and DNA by swabbing the retractable portion of Officer Kern's baton, including the tip. The DNA on the baton came from at least three "contributors," she said.




Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 2010
Source: Parade (US)
Copyright: 2010 Parade Publications
Author: Bob Reiss

The U.S. Coast Guard Patrols 6 Million Miles of Ocean to Find Cocaine Smugglers

Every day, a high-stakes battle affecting the security and well-being of millions of Americans is played out far off our shores. The conflict occurs across more than 6 million square miles of ocean--an area larger than the size of the contiguous United States--where smugglers transport cocaine and other illegal drugs from South America. Their cargo is ultimately intended for sale in our cities and towns---but not if the U.S. Coast Guard stops it first.


Unfortunately, the men had dumped their entire cargo, evidence that the authorities would need to prove they were smuggling cocaine. The Sherman reached the scene by 11 p.m., and all hands were called up on deck. Crew members hung over the railings, using searchlights and handheld floodlights to scour the water for bales. Thirteen were eventually recovered, but Cmdr. Patrick St. John, the Sherman's executive officer, estimated twice the amount had sunk to the ocean floor. Thanks to that one bust, over $50 million worth of cocaine would not be reaching American streets. When Dechmerowski was told the figure, she was astounded and said, "Everyone has a calling in life, and I am finally serving a good purpose." Hours later, Panamanian authorities arrived to take away the suspects and the evidence. The boat's captain, Dionisio Beltran, turned out to be a much-wanted reputed smuggler.

On its fall patrol, the Sherman's crew made several other big scores, halting a fishing boat holding 4885 pounds of cocaine and five other go fasts that Dechmerowski disabled by shooting out their engines. In total, the Sherman interdicted an estimated $1.3 billion worth of cocaine in 10 weeks.

Despite these successes, Haycock acknowledged that the flow of cocaine to the U.S. is never ending. "We're stopping drugs," he said, "but we'd be even more effective with more modern equipment." (The Coast Guard received $1.2 billion for drug interdiction in 2009.) One good sign: Cocaine's street price in our country has recently doubled, said the DEA's Nicholas Kolen, which shows that some of the traffickers' supply lines have been disrupted by antidrug patrols.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jan 2010
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Reflector
Author: Michael Abramowitz

A former Pitt County sheriff's deputy was led from court in handcuffs Wednesday after she was found guilty on charges that she interfered with a drug investigation.

Michelle Pollard was sentenced in Pitt County Superior Court to six to eight months in jail, beginning immediately, after a jury found her guilty of felony obstructing justice and a misdemeanor count of wilful failure to discharge duties.

The sentence was the maximum for those charges and a first-time offender. The former lieutenant cried quietly when the judge denied her bond during the appeal process.

"I didn't intend to impede any investigation," Pollard said before she was sentenced by Judge William R. Pittman of Raleigh. "I had no idea there was an investigation, and I never read the actual report." Pollard, 40, a former gang unit commander, was referring to a classified report about an active investigation of suspected drug dealer Gina Wooten. Testimony during the trial showed Pollard accessed the report after learning Wooten was having drug-related legal problems and later tipped off Wooten about the ongoing operation.




Pubdate: Wed, 03 Feb 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Author: Ramon Bracamontes

EL PASO -- Lawyers for state judge Manuel Barraza put on a defense that lasted just four hours Tuesday, then watched as prosecutors struck back with a witness who said Barraza sought sex from her as payment for a legal bill seven years ago.

Barraza, 54, is fighting for his judicial career and his freedom against federal charges that he made a deal with a former client in which he would unjustly help her in a cocaine case in return for money and sexual favors. Barraza had been the judge of a state drug court for only three months when FBI agents arrested him in April 2009.


In total, prosecutors called 13 witnesses. They also played 14 audio and video recordings for the jury, and introduced 24 e-mails between Barraza and someone he thought was a woman he had met on behalf of a defendant charged in a cocaine case. But FBI Special Agent Ricardo Ale actually sent e-mails to Barraza in what the government said were sexually suggestive exchanges.

Barraza's defense team called seven witnesses, including his sister, Sally Mena. She testified that she worked with Barraza for 27 years in private practice and helped him close his law practice after he won election to a district court judgeship in November 2008.

She said she referred dozens of his pending cases to other lawyers. This was intended to counter government witnesses who said Barraza continued to practice law -- at least in one case -- after taking office as a judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank Montalvo will give the jurors instructions this morning. After that, lawyers for the government and defense each will have up to an hour to make closing arguments.

Montalvo told the jurors that they would probably start their deliberations by early afternoon.

Barraza is charged with three counts of wire fraud, deprivation of honest services and making a false statement to federal agents. Each count carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, but Barraza has a clean record and was an attorney in good standing for 30 years.




The long arm of LEAP reached into Rhode Island last week to give legislators there a much needed repentant drug warrior's perspective on a proposal to decriminalize cannabis.

Meanwhile, diehard drug war proponents are still desperately trying to prevent other states from cashing in on cannabis law reform.

Citizens can sleep safer tonight knowing that members of Willy Nelson's band were caught consuming cannabis on Willy's notorious tour bus.

The burgeoning cannabis dispensary industry in Colorado is running out of banks willing to do business with them.


Pubdate: Wed, 3 Feb 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--A retired police officer and the proprietor of an organic eatery make an odd couple when it comes to trying to overturn marijuana laws in this tiny state, but Jack Cole and Josh Miller are giving it their best shot. Mr. Cole, 71 years old, is a veteran of decades with the New Jersey State Police, almost all with the drug squad. Mr. Miller, 55, runs Local 121, a restaurant favored among "buy local" diners, and also serves in the state Senate, where he leads a special commission to study marijuana prohibitions.

The panel began hearings in January to discuss an overhaul of the state's pot laws, starting with decriminalization of small amounts. As legislators across the U.S. struggle to rescue state budgets hammered by the recession, decriminalization is one idea gaining traction. Advocates say states could cut costs of policing, prosecuting and incarcerating offenders, and even raise money by taxing users.

"Any respect for this issue lies right now in its impact on the budget," said Mr. Miller.

His committee will hear testimony Wednesday from Mr. Cole, the founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, a national lobby seeking an end to the drug war. LEAP's 10,000 members include many former police officers, corrections workers and federal agents of the Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration.

Decriminalization faces resistance from district attorneys and police departments that have grown used to making arrests and building criminal cases in a longstanding war-on-drugs tradition, and often equate decriminalization with being "soft" on crime.


Messrs. Cole and Miller agreed the former cop's presentation must appeal to law-and-order politicians. Mr. Cole said the way to win them over was to show that chasing pot smokers keeps police from fighting other crimes. "Look at the clearance rates for these crimes," he said. In the 1960s, before federal antidrug funds flowed heavily to states, "91% of all murders in this country were solved. Today, it's 61%." He cited similar drops for arson (60% unsolved) robbery (75% unsolved) and rape (60% unsolved). Mr. Cole said the national addiction rate has remained unchanged for a century at about 1.3% of the population. He concludes that if drugs are legalized, the addiction rate would stay the same, "but we'll be spending a lot less to manage it."



Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 2010
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2010 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Skip Miller

The Los Angeles City Council's vote Tuesday to shut hundreds of so- called medical marijuana dispensaries was a welcome move, but the larger battle over pot has just begun.

Across the country, lawmakers and residents of cash-strapped states are edging ever closer to legalizing -- and taxing -- marijuana. In California, the first state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law, backers of an initiative to legalize the drug expect to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. And a Field Poll last year showed more than half of California voters would support such a move.

Two beliefs drive this push to make pot legal: that new tax revenue will stave off deeper budget cuts and that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. Neither is true.

Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in. Baby boomers who hazily recall their own experimentation with marijuana often are stunned to learn that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol -- or THC, marijuana's primary psychoactive substance -- in domestic sinsemilla has quadrupled since the late 1970s.


Do we really want this habit-forming drug easier to get?


Skip Miller is chairman of D.A.R.E. America, a drug-abuse prevention and education program, and a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Miller Barondess. He wrote this commentary for the Los Angeles Times.



Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 2010
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2010 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Anne Blythe

The strong odor of marijuana wafting from the window of a Willie Nelson tour bus led to six members of the country singer's entourage getting busted in Duplin County for possession of marijuana and three- fourths of a quart of moonshine, law enforcement officials said.

But it was a pain in the country music star's hand that forced the last-minute cancellation of Thursday night's concert in Kenansville, not a pain in the neck from having to deal with the drug and alcohol raid an hour before the show.

The grizzled, 76-year-old singer-songwriter, author, poet and activist has a reputation as a musical outlaw and longtime marijuana smoker. But Nelson was not on the bus where ALE officers found marijuana, rolling papers and a Mason jar almost full of "non-tax-paid alcohol," or moonshine, according to Ernie Seneca, an Alcohol Law Enforcement spokesman. Seneca didn't know whether the shine was brewed locally or imported from Texas along with the band.

Bass player Dan Edward "Bee" Spears was on the bus, and the 60-year- old longtime band member from Franklin, Tenn., was one of those cited. The event's planner and one of his assistants also were cited for trying to interfere with the ALE investigation.


It was about 6:40 p.m., a little less than an hour before the show was to begin, that an officer walking past the tour bus "detected a strong odor of marijuana," Seneca said. The officer got permission to enter the bus, according to Seneca, and then cited the six entourage members. In addition to the bassist, citations were issued to: Kenneth Koepke, 52, of Burnet, Texas; Robert Allen Lemons, 59, of Spicewood, Texas; Dudley Bishop Prewitt, 59, of Spicewood, Texas; Aaron William Foye, 32, of San Marcos, Texas; and Thomas Ray Hawkins, 54, of Atlantic City, N.J. "They were released in time for them to go on stage," Seneca said. He added that the band and crew had been respectful of the officers.




Pubdate: Mon, 01 Feb 2010
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold

Wells Fargo & Co. - which medical-marijuana dispensary owners say is virtually the only bank in Colorado willing to take their business - has stopped opening new accounts for dispensaries.

Cristie Drumm, a spokeswoman for the banking giant, said Wells Fargo is examining state and federal laws to determine what the bank's risk is in working with dispensaries.

"We're not actively opening accounts with these businesses at this time," she said.

The move reflects a broader uneasiness among banks in the state about working with the medical-marijuana industry, and it marks one more cloud hovering over dispensaries. Though Drumm said she was unsure whether the bank would also re-evaluate its existing dispensary accounts, news of Wells Fargo's change in attitude has dispensary owners worried they might lose a key ally in their business plans.

"We wouldn't have a bank to put our money in," said Ryan Vincent, who owns The Health Center in Denver. "I don't know what we would do. We'd probably have to start rallying to put together a credit union."

Vincent said every dispensary he knows of uses Wells Fargo as its bank, largely because the industry has received a cold shoulder from other financial institutions. While Vincent said he understands the bank's need to do what's best for its business, he said shutting out dispensaries would deprive the bank of needed customers and deprive dispensaries of needed stability, possibly forcing them to operate in shadowy, cash-heavy ways.

"It's interesting to see that there's money and no one wants to hold onto it," Vincent said. "We're trying to be a legitimate, above-board industry in Colorado."




In the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, former Mexican foreign minister Jorge G. Castaneda, denounced the U.S. war on drugs as "failed" and a "quagmire", based on a "false narrative". According to Castaneda, there is no "druggie explosion" in Mexico; violence there took off in response to Calderon's crackdown in 2006; the Mexican government isn't a "besieged state"; only a minority of the illegal guns in Mexico come the U.S., and it is doubtful that the U.S. is going to stop wanting drugs anytime soon. "It is absurd," says the Castaneda, "for hundreds of Mexican soldiers, police officers, and petty drug dealers to be dying over the drug war in Tijuana when, 100 or so miles to the north in Los Angeles, there are, as the New York Times reported recently, more legal and public dispensaries of marijuana than public schools... A wiser course for Mexico would be to join Americans in lobbying to decriminalize marijuana and heroin, the two drugs easiest to deal with (the first because it is the least harmful and the second because it is the most harmful)."

Meanwhile in Juarez, Mexico the killings continue unabated as 14 people were gunned down at a birthday party last weekend. The killings were believed to be related to turf battles between cartels over the lucrative illicit drug trade. "The prevailing drug- prohibition policy is literally killing the people of Juarez," noted El Paso city Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Consisting of the testimonials of 50 inmates, a report written by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, entitled, "Under the Skin," underscores the futility of drug prohibition. The report concentrates on the sharing of needles upon a backdrop of hard drug addiction - in prison itself. "The inmates describe rampant drug use while incarcerated." The report calls for starting a needle exchange inside of prison to halt the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

What do you call it when someone changes their mind not because of truth or evidence, but because they are told to? This week is was revealed Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson - who now backs mandatory minimums for pot as politically expedient, back in 1989 sang a much different tune. Back then, as a Tory backbencher, Nicholson rejected the idea of making judges mere rubber-stamps for prosecutors and asserted (quite reasonably) "each case should be decided on its own facts." MP Libby Davies: "I think it does show very much a difference, between the old Conservatives and today's Conservatives, which are hell bent on this ideological agenda".


Pubdate: Mon, 1 Feb 2010
Source: Foreign Policy (US)
Copyright: 2010 Foreign Policy
Author: Jorge Castaneda

Five myths that caused the failed war next door.


The Mexican drug war is costly, unwinnable, and predicated on dangerous myths. Calderon has deployed everything from distorted statistics to bad history as weapons to convince the country, and the world, that the war must be joined.


If anything, the United States seems to be moving in the opposite direction; that is, toward decriminalization of marijuana, greater tolerance for safer forms of heroin, an effort to wean people off methamphetamines, and in general, the adoption of a far more relaxed attitude toward drugs. Hence the Obama administration's decision not to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states with legalized "medical" marijuana.

It is absurd for hundreds of Mexican soldiers, police officers, and petty drug dealers to be dying over the drug war in Tijuana when, 100 or so miles to the north in Los Angeles, there are, as the New York Times reported recently, more legal and public dispensaries of marijuana than public schools.


In this narrative, almost anything can become a metric of "success." The Calderon government even maintains that the dramatic growth in the number of drug-linked killings in Mexico from 2007 to 2009 should be attributed to victories achieved in the war against the cartels; these unfortunate deaths, it claims, mean that the criminal organizations are killing each other in desperation as the army closes in.


Indeed, the success of Mexico's frontal assault on drug production and trafficking is about as unlikely as the prospect that American society will clamp down on demand. A wiser course for Mexico would be to join Americans in lobbying to decriminalize marijuana and heroin, the two drugs easiest to deal with (the first because it is the least harmful and the second because it is the most harmful). Although marijuana legalization may not be imminent, recent polls show that more than 40 percent of Americans favor it and 54 percent of Democrats do.




Pubdate: Mon, 01 Feb 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez

14 Others Hurt In Attack At Party

Gunmen shot and killed fourteen people and wounded 14 others in an appalling attack at a birthday party Saturday night in Juarez.


In the other multiple slayings, suspects arrested in the cases led authorities to believe that the killings at the rehabilitation centers were directly connected to the drug war between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.


Although authorities did not suggest a link between the latest multiple slayings to the drug violence that has claimed about 4,400 lives since 2008, officials have said warring drug cartels are responsible for most of the deaths.


El Paso city Rep. Beto O'Rourke said the latest massacre "underscores that Juarez does not need our sympathy -- Juarez needs action. This was another day we have allowed these events to continue."

"The prevailing drug-prohibition policy is literally killing the people of Juarez."




Pubdate: Tue, 02 Feb 2010
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Kathleen Harris

OTTAWA - Needle-exchange programs are a "pragmatic and necessary" way to stop the spread of deadly and financially draining diseases like HIV and hepatitis behind bars, according to a report to be released Tuesday.

The 42-page report from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, called "Under the Skin," features testimonials from 50 federal and former inmates and aims to raise public awareness and rally support for needle and syringe programs in penitentiaries.

"We thought it is a way to humanize them and for the public to realize this could be your brother, your sister," said Sandra Ka Hon Chu, one of the report authors, who noted HIV and hepatitis C rates are 10 to 20 times higher in prisons than in the regular population.

The inmates describe rampant drug use while incarcerated, using shared needles and home-made "rigs" from earrings, Q-Tips or the insides of lighters.

"I never wanted to share a needle; I didn't choose to share," Ronald George Sallenbach of Edmonton said. "But when you need to get a hit and don't have a rig, you end up sharing."




Pubdate: Tue, 02 Feb 2010
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service

Rob Nicholson Was Vice-Chairman Of A 1988 Parliamentary Committee That Opposed Fixed Sentences

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, one of Canada's most vocal champions of fixed minimum prison sentences, once opposed the idea of removing discretion for judges to sentence as they see fit.

As a Tory backbencher in 1988, Nicholson was vice-chairman of a parliamentary committee that rejected the expansion of automatic incarceration, asserting that it doesn't work, overcrowds jails and takes too hefty of a social and financial toll.

The sweeping report on sentencing, based on a yearlong study of the criminal justice system, concluded that judges should follow guidelines, but that "each case should be decided on its own facts."

Two decades later, mandatory minimum jail terms are central to the Harper government's law-and-order agenda.

Nicholson, as justice minister for the last three years, has aggressively pushed for automatic incarceration for selling drugs, growing marijuana, white-collar crime and offences involving guns.

He has repeatedly accused his political opponents of being soft on crime for challenging his get-tough approach.

Most recently, he blasted the Senate when it amended a key bill designed to impose automatic prison terms for a variety of drug-related crimes, by redrafting a component that would jail pot growers who cultivate as few as five plants.


"I think it does show very much a difference, between the old Conservatives and today's Conservatives, which are hell bent on this ideological agenda of being tough on crime," said Davies, who strongly opposes minimum prison terms for drug crimes.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Pete Guither,


Dragged Feet on Disciplining Employees in Killings of US Citizens in Peru Drug War Plane Shootdown

Drug War Chronicle, Issue #619, 2/5/10

Nearly nine years ago, a Peruvian air force fighter guided by CIA employees in a spotter plane blew a civilian aircraft out of the sky over the Amazon, thinking it was shooting down drug smugglers. But the plane was not carrying drug smugglers; it was carrying American missionaries Jim and Veronica Bowers, their two children, and a civilian pilot. Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter were killed.


Century of Lies - 01/31/10 - Matt Elrod

Matt Elrod, Canadian reformer, computer guru for & dozens of reform organizations, Full Spectrum Lab raided by DEA in Denver, Eric Sterling of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation on how we diminish drug war harms.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/31/10 - Cynthia Henley

Cynthia Henley, past Pres of Hou Criminal Lawyer Assoc, DTN Editorial/Msg to Houston Council, report from WTKR TV, Roanoake VA, Phil Smith with Corrupt Cop Stories.


By Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice.

Voters are disgusted by the reckless spending of politicians in Washington. The backlash is coming, so policymakers are now scrambling to do something, or at least be seen as doing something, about the enormous federal debt. Now is a good time for Congress to abolish government agencies that are outdated, dysfunctional or just unnecessary.

A prime candidate for abolition is the office of the so-called "drug czar."


By Anthony Papa

Michael Douglas's Son Faces More Time Than a Murderer or a Rapist for a Nonviolent Drug Charge

The government is hell-bent on punishing Cameron Douglas for the crime of being an addict.


By Mason Tvert, Executive director and co-founder, SAFER

A recent brouhaha between Starbucks Coffee and marijuana legalization advocates raises an important question for the broader business community: Can major national companies be successful absent the patronage of marijuana consumers and others who support marijuana policy reform?


By Jacob Sullum

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 on Monday. Over at The Raw Story, Stephen C. Webster argues that it shows drug czar Gil Kerlikowske was "full of hot air" when he talked about "handling drug addiction as a medical problem, moving away from the brash enforcement tactics that hallmarked prior administrations." Webster certainly has a point, although he and I might disagree on the question of what exactly Gil Kerlikowske is full of.


San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi proposed a June ballot measure to make SF the first city to legalize the sale of marijuana -- a collection of reactions from young people.


CBC - Canada's $20 billion-dollar marijuana industry is now at a violent crossroads between crime and commerce. Impossible to police, yet steadily gaining public acceptance, the cannabis industry is now so vast and vital to Canada's national economy that it can no longer be ignored.


The drug policy reform movement mourns the passing of Howard S. Lotsof, 66, the discoverer of the anti-addictive effect of ibogaine. Lotsof died of liver cancer on Sunday, January 31. He recently won the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action at the November 2009 Reform Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Watch Howard's acceptance speech.



Maryland Considers Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

A DrugSense Focus Alert


If you're a veteran from any era and have some time to answer questions about your experiences, your input could be a huge help.

A survey from Dr. Mitch Earleywine, a member of the NORML Advisory Board, addresses cannabis, military experiences, and a whole lot more. Responses are completely anonymous and there's a chance to win gift certificates from


Last week President Obama quietly announced that he would nominate Michele Leonhart to lead the Drug Enforcement Agency. Ms. Leonhart, who was appointed and promoted by George W. Bush, oversaw the Bush administration's tactic of raiding the homes of desperately ill individual medical marijuana patients in California.

Tell your Senator not to confirm Ms. Leonhart.



By Trevor Douglas

Freedom of religion is a topic that was once fought for and helped to establish the USA. Today, I am being tried for something that has been a part of my family's religion for generations. Religious cannabis is nothing new, actually it has been around since before written history.

The use of the plant in rituals, ceremonies, communion and prayer is mandated by my God, as with many other religions around the world (Rastafarians for example). Who should be able to control the growth and possession of a plant that is so healing (As the U.S. Patent for Medical Marijuana states) and spiritually enlightening, not to mention a plant that George Washington said " . sow it everywhere."

A doctor is able to prescribe medicinal marijuana to hundreds of patients a day; who is to tell me I cannot use marijuana/ cannabis as a religious sacrament in the privacy of my own home? If anything, why don't we try citing the millions of people addicted to much more dangerous over-the-counter drugs sold every day?

This is a plant that's use dates back to 8000 BC in ancient China, where shamans were using it the same way I do today. Please help support my case on March 9 at 2 p.m. in the Georgetown Courthouse.

Trevor Douglas, Vail

Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 2010
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)


Open Letter to  ( Top )

By Mary Jane Borden


I recently received an e-mail from you announcing the launch of "Ideas for Change in America 2010," a campaign that seeks to "empower citizens to identify and build momentum behind the country's best ideas for addressing the major challenges we face." This noble and worthy effort uses direct democracy to encourage the online audience to submit and vote for ideas.

Here is a snapshot of the campaign from as of 4:30 pm on 2/4/2010:

- Second Most Popular Idea Overall: Legalize Recreational Use of Marijuana (920 votes)

- Most Popular Category: Criminal Justice

- Top 10 Ideas within the Criminal Justice category: Legalize Recreational Use of Marijuana; Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana; Rehabilitation, not incarceration; Legalize and tax marijuana; Remove Marijuana From Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act; Legalize Marijuana; Reduce criminal recidivism; End the war on drugs; End Marijuana Prohibition; and Make Marijuana Legal.

"Marijuana" owned 7 of the top 10 Ideas in the above category with combined vote tallies over 2,500 and counting. Of the 44 Ideas submitted in Criminal Justice that had more than 20 votes, 31 (70%) pertained in some way to marijuana. These 31 also accounted for 80% of the total votes in that category. Add Ideas to generally change drug policy, and these percentages topped 90%.

No other single idea captures more overall votes or consumes more of a single category than "Marijuana."

Is the "online audience" trying to tell you something?

Consider the following:

On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, CitizenTube streamed the State of the Union address live on its YouTube site and allowed viewers to submit and vote on questions to ask President Obama. "Marijuana Legalization" outdistanced all other questions by a margin of more than 2 to 1. President Obama never had the opportunity to answer this most popular question - YouTube never asked it.

In December 2009, JP Morgan Chase & Co. organized a competition to award grants to 100 charitable organizations that received the most votes on Chase's Facebook fan page. Two drug-policy focused groups - Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project - were among the top vote getters, but Chase disqualified them from the final tally without explanation.

Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, the Obama Administration established "Open for Questions" on, which morphed into Three rounds of voting by over 200,000 people, who submitted over 150,000 questions and cast over 7 million votes, found "Legalizing Marijuana" in first place within each of the top five categories. At his March 26, 2009 press conference, President Obama addressed this phenomenal response by quipping, "I don't know what this says about the online audience," before dismissing the idea.

Do you see a pattern?

As a member, I'm dismayed that "Marijuana" (medical, recreational, or hemp) garners only a fraction of the coverage that a topic with its level of popularity should otherwise expect. Even though "Marijuana" has received 80% of the votes in your Criminal Justice category, few stories concerning it have appeared on Criminal Justice news or as Featured Ideas. "Legalize Marijuana" is your third most popular petition with 16,000 signers. Isn't that home page material? appears to endorse a free and fair voting process as reflected in the "Governmental Reform and Transparency" category. It rightly decries bias against people of color, gays, and the homeless. It embraces human rights. Yet, these noble ideals become diminished by brushing aside the most popular issue.

I'm pleased that corporations, non-profits, and governments are leveraging the power of the Internet's online audience to engage in direct democracy. In a democratic society, the will of the people should be the driving force. Generally that will is made real by the most votes.

However, when the results are not fairly reported and implemented, campaigns like Ideas for Change and those of YouTube, Chase Bank, and the Obama Administration do little to foster public participation in the democratic process and much to further the public's cynicism of it.

Speaking on behalf of the "online audience," I wish for my voice to be heard - for it to sing as loudly as my worthy counterparts. I'm tired of being ignored, as if I'll just disappear when I'm not noticed.

Here's an Idea! Please accurately report and implement the results for the 2010 Ideas for Change in America. Promote all Ideas equally. Treat submitted Ideas with the respect they deserve, even the one that wins the competition, hands down.

Please note that this Idea is #154 in the Government Reform and Transparency Category.


Mary Jane

Top Ideas for Change in America:'s Criminal Justice category:

Submit your Idea for Change in America:

FAQ about Ideas for Change in America:

Mary Jane Borden is writer, artist, drug policy reform activist, and regular voter from Westerville, Ohio. She serves as Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist for DrugSense and as the Editor of Drug War Facts


"The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men." - John F. Kennedy

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