This Just In
(1)Joint Effort Targets Border Crime
(2)Clinical Trials Show Medical Benefits Of Pot
(3)State Board Recommends Legalizing Medical Marijuana
(4)L.A. Steps Up Effort To Close Pot Shots

Hot Off The 'Net
-5 Ways Obama And Corporate Media Are Fighting Marijuana Reform
-Another Contemptuous Home Office Rejection
-The Case Of A Confidential Informant Gone Wrong / Carrie Kah
-Drug Truth Network
-City Passes Resolution Criticizing Drug War / Phillip S. Smith
-Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective
-The Beginning Of The End Of Marijuana Prohibition

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Sebastian Rotella, Reporting from Nogales, Ariz.

U.S. and Mexican Forces, Sharing Patrols for the First Time, Take on Drugs, Migration

In a politically sensitive operation at the Arizona-Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican federal police officers are training together, sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols for the first time.

The goal of the historic partnership: a systematic joint attack on northbound flows of drugs and migrants, and southbound shipments of guns and cash. It is part of a major, unannounced crackdown started in recent months involving hundreds of U.S. and Mexican officers in the border's busiest smuggling corridor.

The initiative appears likely to expand. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Mexican Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna will sign a declaration Thursday in Mexico City agreeing to replicate the experiment. Eventually, officials say, joint operations borderwide could lead to the creation of a Mexican force serving as a counterpart to the Border Patrol -- an agency once regarded with nationalistic aversion in Mexico.

"We are planting a seed of binational cooperation that interests all of us," Mexican federal police Cmdr. Armando Trevino said Tuesday in Nogales. "We are fighting a common enemy. We are going to work together like friends, like comrades, like brothers."




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.
Authors: Victoria Colliver, Wyatt Buchanan

The first U.S. clinical trials in more than 20 years on the medical efficacy of marijuana found that pot helps relieve pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and certain neurological conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by a UC research center.

The results of five state-funded scientific clinical trials came 14 years after California voters passed a law approving marijuana for medical use and more than 10 years after the state Legislature passed a law that created the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, which conducted the studies.

Dr. Igor Grant, a UC San Diego psychiatrist who directs the center, called the report "good evidence" that marijuana would be an effective front-line treatment for neuropathy, a condition that can cause tingling, numbness and pain.

"We focused on illnesses where current medical treatment does not provide adequate relief or coverage of symptoms," Grant said. "These findings provide a strong science-based context in which policymakers and the public can begin discussing the place of cannabis in medical care."




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Iowan
Author: Jordan Fries

Officials from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to recommend that the state Legislature legalize the use of medical marijuana on Wednesday.

The proposal would reduce marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule II, classifying the drug as presenting the potential for abuse but also having acceptable medical uses.

If the suggestion passes through the Legislature, the Board of Pharmacy would become the nation's first such organization to back medical marijuana use.

Lloyd Jessen, the director of Iowa's Board of Pharmacy, said because a state agency made the recommendations, a legalization bill cannot be filed until next year at the earliest.

"We are limited in that regard, but there is nothing stopping state legislators from passing this eventually," he said. "I know the board is very pleased in the outcome. This decision is the culmination of a pretty massive undertaking."




Pubdate: Fri, 19 Feb 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel

City Sues Three Collectives and Moves to Evict 18 Others From Their Stores, Saying They've Violated State Laws

Los Angeles city prosecutors Thursday escalated their efforts to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, suing three collectives and moving to evict 18 others from their stores.

The actions, which stem from undercover police operations at the dispensaries, follow City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's pledge to take aggressive steps to reverse the rapid spread of pot shops. Hundreds have opened while the City Council debated an ordinance to regulate them. The council passed the law last month, but it has not taken effect.

The lawsuits against Organica, which straddles Culver City and Los Angeles, and two Holistic Caregivers outlets in South Los Angeles allege that they have repeatedly violated state laws and seek injunctions to force them to stop selling marijuana.

And, opening a new front, the city attorney's office sent letters to 18 landlords saying that dispensaries on their property are breaking the law and should be evicted.

"Law enforcement targeted them and then brought the evidence to us," said Assistant City Atty. Asha Greenberg, who has spearheaded the legal action against dispensaries.

On Thursday, police and federal agents raided Organica. The dispensary's operator, Jeff Joseph, was arrested, but no charges have been filed.





In an age of budget shortfalls, Texas is sending more than a million dollars to again fight the war on drugs along the border. In New Zealand, an interesting story which illustrates why journalists sometimes might be shy about covering drugs in a straight-forward manner. Some theological debate about needle exchanges follows the opening of needle exchange centers by Catholic Charities in New York. And, one of Ibogaine's biggest promoters has died.


Pubdate: Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Author: Zahira Torres

AUSTIN -- A $1.7 million grant from the state will pay for more prosecutors or investigators to take on gangs, drugs and human trafficking along the border, Gov. Rick Perry said Monday.

Perry announced funding for the creation of the Border Prosecution Unit, which came from the $110 million allocated by the lawmakers for border security during the last legislative session.

The 16 district attorneys along the border will receive funding to hire an additional prosecutor or an investigator who would work exclusively with the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies on border crime cases.

Perry said El Paso would lead the way as the fiscal agent for the unit.

"Texas' ongoing efforts at combating crime along the border have led to an increase in the number of cases against individuals for money laundering, drug and human trafficking, kidnapping, murder and gang-related offenses," Perry said in a statement.




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Feb 2010
Source: Sunday News (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

ONE of four TVNZ staff accused of smoking marijuana with pro-cannabis campaigners is understood to be fighting for his job after telling colleagues he was involved.

TVNZ received a complaint about a story, screened on Close Up on Tuesday, which followed cannabis-campaigner Dakta Green from Auckland to Waitangi.

Part of the complaint alleged that TVNZ staffers smoked cannabis on the National Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml) protest bus at Waitangi, once filming had finished.

It also claimed the state broadcaster's employees' actions had been captured on film and video. It's understood that when a reporter was confronted by more senior TVNZ staff about the allegations, he acknowledged his involvement and that of three other co-workers whom he identified.

One of the other staff members involved is believed to have denied the allegations and another is understood to have blamed "peer pressure".

Sunday News has chosen not to name those involved, one of whom was hand-picked by a TVNZ executive who has mentored him.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Feb 2010
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2010 The Washington Post Company
Author: Daniel Burke

In launching a needle-exchange program recently, the Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y., said the decision came down to choosing the lesser evil. Illegal drug use is bad, but the spread of deadly diseases is worse.

The medical evidence is clear, the diocese said when it began Project Safe Point in two Upstate New York locations through the local branch of Catholic Charities. Public health studies document that exchanging used syringes for new ones can reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS and even lead drug abusers to treatment and recovery.

"To guide us, the church provides us with the principles of licit cooperation in evil and the counseling of the lesser evil," the Albany diocese said in a statement. "The sponsorship of Catholic Charities in Safe Point, then, is based upon the church's standard moral principles."

In citing the "lesser evil" argument, the diocese is drawing on a tradition of ethical reasoning that dates to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century theologian, said the Rev. James Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College.

"When you cannot reasonably expect a person to avoid the moral evil itself," as might be the case with some drug addicts, "you can counsel them at least to lessen or mitigate the potential damage of their action and can even help them in doing that," Bretzke said.

But some Catholic scholars question the diocese's moral calculus and say the Church should never be involved -- to any degree -- with the sin of drug abuse.

"Enabling someone to do an evil act is, in no way, shape or form, ever to help that person," said Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. "This is elemental moral theology."




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Dennis Hevesi

Howard Lotsof was 19, addicted to heroin and searching for a new high in 1962 when he swallowed a bitter-tasting white powder taken from an exotic West African shrub.

"The next thing I knew," he told The New York Times in 1994, "I was straight."

The substance was ibogaine, an extract of Tabernanthe iboga, a perennial rain-forest plant found primarily in Gabon. In the Bwiti religion it is used in puberty initiation rites, inducing a powerful altered state for at least 48 hours during which young people are said to come into contact with a universal ancestor.

By Mr. Lotsof's account, when he and six friends who were also addicted tried ibogaine, five of them immediately quit, saying their desire for heroin had been extinguished.

It was the start of a lifelong campaign for Mr. Lotsof. And now thousands of former addicts around the world and some scientists contend that ibogaine should be scientifically tested for its ability to halt heroin and cocaine cravings and even end addiction. Ibogaine is used in drug treatment clinics in many countries, but is banned in the United States.

Mr. Lotsof, who was 66, died on Jan. 31 at a hospital near his home on Staten Island. The cause was liver cancer, his wife, Norma said.

Virtually from that day 48 years ago when he first tried ibogaine, Mr. Lotsof became perhaps its leading advocate, lobbying public officials, pharmaceutical companies and independent researchers to investigate its efficacy. In the mid-1980s, he persuaded a Belgian company to manufacture ibogaine in capsule form and begin offering it to addicts in the Netherlands.

By then he had started the Dora Weiner Foundation, named for his grandmother, to develop ibogaine as a medication, to disseminate information about chemical dependence and to refer people to treatment. Mr. Lotsof ran the foundation.

In 1986 he received a patent for the use of ibogaine as a remedy for heroin and cocaine addiction. Five years later, he began working with Jan Bastiaans, a Dutch psychiatrist who had gained renown by using LSD therapy for Holocaust survivors.




More injustice, failure and overkill in the drug war.


Pubdate: Wed, 17 Feb 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Authors: Al Baker and John Eligon

Citing insufficient evidence, federal authorities said Tuesday that they would not bring a civil rights case against the New York City police officers involved in the killing of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man who was shot by the police outside a strip club in Queens on his wedding day.

The decision by the Justice Department came after prosecutors and federal agents reviewed the case, in which five police officers fired 50 shots into the Nissan Altima that Mr. Bell was driving. The car struck a detective in the leg and hit a police van just before the officers began firing their weapons.

Mr. Bell was killed and two passengers, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were wounded. None of the men had guns, although the police officers apparently believed at least one did.

In their review, officials from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not find enough evidence to prove that the officers had willfully acted to deny the men their constitutional rights, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

"Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation," the statement said.

Any disciplinary action now lies with the Police Department, whose critics saw the shooting as an indictment of police training and the department's use of deadly force.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Feb 2010
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: Leslie Berestein, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

Produce Truckers Increasingly Used

At the Otay Mesa cargo port, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector Eiichiro Ninmiya checked loads of goods last week with his partner, Cora.

Hidden among truckloads of peppers, bananas, toilet paper and medical supplies entering from Mexico, customs officers have been finding another type of import.

With drug cartels becoming increasingly creative in evading border authorities, it has become commonplace to find drugs embedded among the truckloads of goods that move each day through the nation's ports of entry. Two weeks ago, inspectors at the Otay Mesa cargo port found more than 3,800 pounds of marijuana hidden in a shipment of peppers and green beans. A few days later, they found a ton of pot stashed in a load of bananas.

Although the phenomenon isn't new, recent drug seizures in fruit and vegetable shipments indicate that traffickers may be targeting produce companies, said Jose Garcia, deputy special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. Smuggling trends are cyclic, he said, with traffickers using methods that show the best chance for success.

When they target cross-border cargo, drug cartels aim for the weakest link, Garcia said. Often it is truck drivers or others in the supply chain. Although their tactics include threats of kidnapping or worse, very often the traffickers present a bribe that is irresistible, he said.

"They will get a driver who like everybody else is between a rock and a hard place, and can't make ends meet or whatever," Garcia said. "People have to realize that these folks are experts at exploiting human weaknesses. They will plant this seed, and they will make it work for them."




Pubdate: Wed, 10 Feb 2010
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2010 Belleville News-Democrat

Shame can be a powerful behavior modifier, and we're happy to see the Belleville Police use it in the fight against drugs.

The department is getting some criticism for putting up signs that point out drug houses -- including from a resident of an apartment building on West H Street who says the sign at that location unfairly targeted him (the signs don't have suspects' names on them, so why is he so sure the sign is about him?)

The truth is, you often don't need a sign to point out a drug house; they're often easy to identify because of all the comings and goings of people at all hours of the day and night. The formal sign just lets everyone know that the police are aware of the problem and are not going to tolerate it.

As far as concerns the police-placed signs will bring down property values: A sign won't cause nearly as much damage as letting a drug house continue to operate freely. If drug dealers decide the jig is up and move on, so much the better for the neighborhood.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Feb 2010
Source: Albany Herald, The (GA)
Copyright: 2010 The Albany Herald Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Pete Skiba, staff writer

A Federal Judge Sentences A Smithville Man To 25 Years In Prison Without A Chance For Parole.

ALBANY -- A Smithville man caught a 25-year sentence to federal prison without parole from a federal judge after pleading guilty to illegal drug distribution Thursday, a U.S. Department of Justice press release stated.

Russell Leon Jenkins, 37, was sentenced "as the result of a guilty plea," said G.F. Peterman III, acting United States attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

The sentence imposed by Judge W. Louis Sands will run consecutively with a sentence Jenkins is already serving in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections.

No information on where Jenkins is incarcerated or how long his state sentence will run was immediately available.

Jenkins was arrested by the Lee County Drug Force, said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals. The drug deputies executed a search warrant on Jenkins' home at 157 Muckaloochee Street and found 90.1 grams of crack cocaine and 8.2 grams of powder cocaine.

"Think of a pack of Sweet and Low as a gram so you can see how much was there," Rachals said.

After the Lee County narcotics team recovered the drugs from Jenkins' home, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency stepped in, Rachals said.

"I'm glad they did," he said. "(Jenkins) got serious time with the federal charges."

Previously, Jenkins had been convicted in state court in Lee County of selling cocaine in 1994 and 1998, a press release stated.

When Jenkins pleaded guilty this time, he forfeited a Ford F-250 crew cab pickup and all the equipment he used in his landscaping business.

Rachals said he plans to convert the pickup into a mobile command center, and county Public Works will put the landscaping equipment to good use.




Public opinion polls have consistently shown that people of higher education and income are more inclined to support cannabis law reform. We may see diminishing returns from our efforts to educate the public with reason and science as people capable of critical thinking defect to our side, further eroding the average intelligence and level of sophistication of our opponents.

Speaking of which, members of parliament in the U.K., Canada and New Zealand all seem to be cynically pandering to the popular, media- driven misconception that crime rates are rising, attempting to appear "tough on crime" by refusing to even discuss the merits of cannabis law reform.

Goods news from Iowa where the state pharmacy board voted unanimously to recommend legislators reclassify cannabis to allow for medicinal distribution and use.

The DEA in Colorado got the memo from U.S. Attorney General David Ogden advising them to back off dispensaries and patients complying with state law, but their interpretation of it has cast a chill.


Pubdate: Wed, 17 Feb 2010
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Paradise Post
Author: Dick Little

It's amazing how so-called "potheads" continue to push for legalization of Marijuana. Their argument concludes that it's, " no more dangerous than alcohol." Well, that's at best, "speculative," and at worst it's dead wrong.

The potheads won a modest victory with the speculative Medical Marijuana law, which allows "Prescription Marijuana" to be sold the public. Most doctors agree that constant use of Marijuana dulls the brain. The potheads get angry when they hear those words because they enjoy getting "over the counter" Marijuana they can legally posses.

Those who cannot get a doctor to prescribe Marijuana continue to take the drug illegally, and can be arrested if they [are] caught with the drug in their possession. Frankly, had we known about the dangers of cigarettes, that "drug" would never have been legal either!


Voters were "snookered" by Prop. 215 when we passed it in the mid 90s allowing so-called "prescription marijuana" to be legally sold. Unfortunately, some "doctors" have been snookered about the dangers of inhaling the smoke from the drug so they give out prescriptions to purchase "medical marijuana."


Yes, we have alcohol now because the attempt at outlawing the substance failed in the 20s.

Marijuana is a mind altering substance that can over time cause some brain damage. Anyone under its influence poses a danger to society particularly if they get on a bike, or drive a car. Alcohol is bad enough. Let's not make a bad situation worse. Marijuana when inhaled over time has been linked to brain damage, as well as damage to the lungs. It's a substance that poses a threat to everyone including its users.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Feb 2010
Source: Nelson Mail, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

Under the leadership of former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the Law Commission is both busy and productive, intent on making New Zealanders look closely at many of our laws with a view to modernising, simplifying and improving them.

Its latest report, an issues paper on controlling and regulating drugs, out last week, has a focus on the potential softening of drug possession laws with a complementary shift towards more treatment of chronic users.

These are ideas that merit study and debate. But Justice Minister Simon Power isn't prepared to even wait for the submission period to end before declaring his closed mind.

"There's not a single, solitary chance that as long as I'm the minister of justice we'll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand," he said upon the paper's release.

Prime Minister John Key echoed him, without sounding quite so dogmatic.

Beating about the bush somewhat, but eventually getting to the point, he said: "No one is probably arguing necessarily that if someone uses a small amount of marijuana that that is necessarily of itself the end of the world.

"But ... what's the message we want to send youngsters? And the message is, don't engage with drugs."

As a message, it's difficult to dismiss. But the fact is that young New Zealanders - and the middle-aged, and some of the elderly - do engage with illegal drugs in large numbers.


In recent times politicians of most parties have adopted a harder line on crime, partly because it taps into public anxiety.

"Get tough and get votes" seems to be the formula.

But when it comes to cannabis and some other "soft" drugs, there are other ways to address illegal practices that don't have to make criminals out of users.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2010 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Tony Leys

State regulators offered some hope Wednesday for people who want to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to recommend legislators reclassify the drug in a way that could allow people to use it for pain, nausea and other symptoms from diseases such as cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.

If that happened, Iowa would join 14 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. But Iowans should not expect legal marijuana shops to open soon.

Legislators probably will not consider the idea until at least next year.

Under the pharmacy board's proposal, the state first would set up a task force, including patients, medical professionals and law enforcement officers, to recommend a limited medical-marijuana system.

Pharmacy board members said they want to ensure that only patients with legitimate medical needs could get the drug.

"Without adequate controls, we would have mayhem," said board Vice Chairwoman Susan Frey, a Villisca pharmacist.

Marijuana supporters clapped and cheered after the vote.

"This is a big thing. This is momentum," said Carl Olsen of Des Moines, one of the main proponents.

The 6-0 vote came after a morning of discussion in which board members expressed mixed feelings.

An Iowa Poll published this week in The Des Moines Register found that 64 percent of Iowans support allowing patients to use marijuana if their doctors approve. But board members said they were not swayed by the poll.

"This isn't like running for prom queen," said Margaret Whitworth, a board member from Cedar Rapids.




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Feb 2010
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Jace Larson

The medical-marijuana grower arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents after showing his operation to 9News says he believes the DEA is hoping to make an example out of him. "I'm the poster boy now," Chris Bartkowicz said Saturday in his first interview from jail.

DEA agents seized 16 boxes full of marijuana from his Highlands Ranch house near C-470 and University Boulevard on Friday afternoon. It was the same day a news story on his growing operation was set to air on 9News.

"We work hard and aren't just people who want to smoke pot all the time," Bartkowicz said. "My intent was to show that growers care for houses. We construct well-made rooms for good growing environments. I figured I was in the right. I didn't figure I had anything to hide. If I am legal, why should I be in the shadows?"

Bartkowicz asked 9News not to give his address in the story. The night before the story was to run, a neighbor called to report she suspected someone was growing marijuana in the house where Bartkowicz lived, according to a federal official.

"If I knew what I was doing was illegal, I would have never made a public display of myself," he said. "I would not have put myself in the line of fire if I was knowingly violating the law."

The U.S. attorney's office will review the evidence collected and could decide Tuesday whether charges will be filed against Bartkowicz. He is also expected to make his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday.

"According to him and according to what he's seen on the news, he probably believes he is legal," said Jeff Sweetin, special agent in charge of Denver's DEA office.

Sweetin said even though state law allows for medical marijuana, federal law does not.

"We will continue to enforce federal law. That's what we are paid to do," Sweetin said.


An October memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden said federal agents should not target people in "clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana," The Post reported. The memo led many in Colorado's medical-marijuana community to believe federal agents would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries or growers.

Sweetin say the memo does nothing to change federal law, which makes marijuana illegal, and instead mostly addresses treatment of medical- marijuana patients and small-scale growers.



Gideon Rachman, in the U.K. Financial Times newspaper this week, held forth with the fix to Mexico's drug problem: and it doesn't involve legalization, which Rachman studiously avoided mentioning. "Some public intellectuals in Mexico are beginning to argue that Mr Calderon should make a quiet accommodation with the drugs gangs, to restore social peace," says Rachman. But Rachman misses the point - former presidents, cabinet members, police, papers, and public opinion are coming out for legalization. What's Rachman's real Rx for Mexico? "[I]mproved intelligence co-operation with the US". Translation: keep ratcheting up the police state.

When government and military talk, you can count on the Washington Times newspaper to faithfully parrot the party line. This week proved no exception to that rule of thumb, as the Times printed government pronouncements about the "assault under way in southern Afghanistan", which has a "secondary mission of disrupting insurgent drug trafficking". Presumably, this will provide comfort for readers who may find the primary mission unsettling.

>From Canada this week, two excellent pieces on the current train-wreck that is the far-right Harper regime's approach to crime and drugs policy. Maniacally bent on instituting mandatory minimums not for heroin dealing or gun crimes - but for petty pot farmers - many commentators see this as intentionally paving the way for privatized for-profit prisons, while at he same time pandering to police and a repressive political base.

The first piece, by Susan Riley in the Regina Post-Leader, notes "Only the marijuana bill -- it would impose a mandatory minimum six months in jail for anyone caught with five or more plants -- was significantly amended... [a]n irritated Nicholson has vowed to reintroduce the bill in March."

And Keith Baldrey, in the Maple Ridge Times newspaper out of B.C. ("War on Drugs an Abject Failure"), excoriates the ideologically-driven Harper regime for ignoring advice, law, statistics and common sense on the life-saving Insite supervised injection center in Vancouver. "[T]he so-called "war on drugs" - has been a complete, abject failure. To stick to the conventional method of dealing with drug addiction (i.e. prosecute addicts and do everything possible to deny them access to drugs) is a head-in-the-sand approach that is not only wrong but also dangerous."


Pubdate: Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Source: Financial Times (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2010
Author: Gideon Rachman

How does it feel to be Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman? Last year Forbes magazine listed him as the 701st-richest man in the world. But unlike other billionaires, Mr Guzman cannot enjoy his fortune by spending time on yachts or in fancy restaurants. As Mexico's leading drugs baron, he has the country's army on his tail - and so has to hide out in a mountainous region of 60,000 square kilometres.

The fate of Mr Guzman and the other Mexican drugs criminals is more than just a crime story. It has global political ramifications. Countries that were once classified as mere "emerging markets" are now being re-classified as "rising powers". Brazil, India and China - together with Russia - have been famously tagged as the "Brics", and are now global political players.


What can Mexico do to turn this situation around? The country will host the next United Nations climate summit in December although that might prove to be something of a poisoned chalice. Some public intellectuals in Mexico are beginning to argue that Mr Calderon should make a quiet accommodation with the drugs gangs, to restore social peace. That would surely be a mistake. A situation in which criminals are permanently ceded control of parts of the country - and can continue to buy influence and power unmolested in the rest of the nation - cannot be a basis for stability. Police reform, social programmes and improved intelligence co-operation with the U.S. are better options.

But as well as battling on in the struggle against the illegal drugs cartels, the Mexican government needs to take on the legal business cartels.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Feb 2010
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Sara A. Carter

The U.S. military assault under way in southern Afghanistan seeks to oust Taliban forces but has the secondary mission of disrupting insurgent drug trafficking in a region notorious for large-scale opium production, U.S. and Afghan officials said Sunday.

A main goal of the military operation involving about 15,000 Marines, British troops and some Afghan soldiers that began Friday in Helmand province is to try to win support of local Afghans.

The secondary mission of the operation, in what is seen as a shift in the military's strategy, is disrupting the Taliban's drug trade -- the key source of funding for weapons and explosives used in the insurgency.


NATO rockets on Sunday hit a residence, mistakenly killing 12 Afghan civilians.


The military had long separated itself from fighting the drug trade in Afghanistan. In recent years, however, U.S. and NATO military officials have concluded that breaking up the Taliban insurgency would have to include cutting off their source of funding, said a U.S. official with knowledge of drug operations in the region.

"We can't do one without the other," the official said. "It's vital to break up their ability to fund themselves. The military has become more aware of that and works closely with the drug enforcement operations in the region."


"The farming region of Marjah used to grow wheat, other types of legal agriculture," said an Afghan official with knowledge of the NATO operation and the region around Marjah.

"When the Taliban gained control of the area, the farmers shifted to poppy crops, and the Taliban used the region to fill their pockets. They use the money to purchase training [and] weapons and [to] recruit," the official said.


Ten of the victims were from the same family, according to news reports from the region. The missiles missed an insurgent compound discovered by U.S. forces.




Pubdate: Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2010 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Susan Riley, the Ottawa Citizen

When you look beyond the paternalism, cynicism, genuine concern -- whatever motives drive the Harper government's punitive approach to crime -- only one question matters. Is it effective?

Will closing Vancouver's safe injection site, Insite, reduce drug addiction and related crime? Will imposing six-month minimum jail sentences on anyone caught with as few as five marijuana plants inhibit pot-smoking among teenagers? Will expanding prisons reduce violence in our streets?

Most legal experts, criminologists, addiction researchers and street-level health workers, along with many police chiefs and past reports from parliamentary committees, say "no" -- as does the experience of other "tough-on-crime" jurisdictions.


And curiously, despite its righteousness, the government isn't above resorting to mendacity itself. Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, for instance, have excoriated the "Liberal-dominated" Senate for, in Harper's words, "eviscerating law and order measures urgently needed and strongly supported by Canadians."


Only the marijuana bill -- it would impose a mandatory minimum six months in jail for anyone caught with five or more plants -- was significantly amended. After hearing from a parade of witnesses that mandatory minimums are ineffective in dealing with drug crimes (a conclusion backed by a 2001 Justice Department report), Liberal senators voted to leave it to judges to decide sentences for anyone caught with fewer than 200 plants.

An irritated Nicholson has vowed to reintroduce the bill in March, when Parliament resumes -- but here's another curiosity. The Hill Times reported recently that, in 1988, Nicholson, then a Progressive Conservative MP, was vice-chair of a Commons committee that recommended against mandatory minimums, except for repeat violent sex offenders. Asked about this apparent change of heart, the minister's spokesperson noted the drug world and values have changed. But the facts haven't.




Pubdate: Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Source: Maple Ridge Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc
Author: Keith Baldrey

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped by the provincial legislature last week for a feel-good speech about B.C. and the Winter Olympics, but he didn't stop to take any questions from anyone.

That's too bad, as his aversion to having anything to do with the media means he's able to duck some pressing issues.


But I did have a question or two about one of his government's dumbest moves in recent days that have a direct bearing on this province.

That would be the Conservative government's decision to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that Vancouver's Downtown Eastside safe injection site (Insite) is a legal operation and should be allowed to remain open.

Harper has already lost two key court challenges on this. In trying yet again to get the courts to follow his ideologically based prejudice, critics say he has abandoned common sense, strong legal analysis and sound public policy.


But those who oppose the existence of Insite - where addicts are given a secure place to take drugs, such as heroin, with sterile needles - conveniently ignore a larger truth that underscores the need for places such as Insite. That would be the fact that our whole approach to illegal drugs - the so-called "war on drugs" - has been a complete, abject failure.

To stick to the conventional method of dealing with drug addiction (i.e. prosecute addicts and do everything possible to deny them access to drugs) is a head-in-the-sand approach that is not only wrong but also dangerous.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Daniela Perdomo

While marijuana is more mainstream than ever, legalization still faces backlash from the powers that be.


In April 2009 Transform published a groundbreaking report, titled 'A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs'

We sent a copy to the Secretary of State in July 2009 with the letter below. Our tardiness was to put to shame however, by the time it took the Home Secretary to respond - we received his response today, 15th Feb 2010 - eight months later.


by Carrie Kah

Confidential informants - people who pose as criminals so they can provide information to the police or some government agency - have helped crack some major U.S. cases.

They are part of the shadowy side of law enforcement and operate in a secret and largely unregulated world. And sometimes, things go terribly wrong.


Century of Lies - 02/14/10 - Pete Holmes

Courtesy Seattle Channel's "City Inside Out" King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, state senator Pam Roach, Sensible Washington founder Douglas Hiatt, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, ACLU-WA Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb, and Chemical Dependency Professionals Kelly Kerby and Gary Hothi

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 02/14/10 - Beto O'Rourke

El Paso City Councilman Beto O'Rourke on the ultra violence in their sister city of Ciudad Juarez & Michael Blunk, board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy


The First City In America To Criminalize Marijuana Passes Resolution Criticizing Drug War

By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued earlier today to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).


By Ethan Nadelmann,

Even I can't believe the way that the marijuana issue is opening up right now.


Write A Letter  ( Top )

Black tar heroin. A DrugSense Focus Alert.

Students For Sensible Drug Policy's International Conference  ( Top )

SSDP's international conference is the largest gathering of students and youth from around the world who are working to end the failed War on Drugs. This year's conference will take place in San Francisco, a city at the forefront of sensible drug policies; March 12-14th

The Sixth National Clinical Conference On Cannabis Therapeutics  ( Top )

Co-sponsored by the School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco; the Rhode Island State Nurses Association and Patients Out of Time will be held on April 15-17, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, RI.

Psychedelic Science In The 21St Century  ( Top )

April 15-18, 2010 - San Jose, California

Psychedelic Science will bring together international experts to present on psychedelic research and psychedelic psychotherapy topics for the largest conference dedicated solely to psychedelics in the U.S. in 17 years. There will be three full days of programming with concurrent tracks exploring clinical and spiritual applications, issues relevant to healthcare professionals, and social and cultural issues surrounding the therapeutic and recreational uses of psychedelics.

Register Now! Late registration rates begin on March 15, 2010.



By James Seidler

To balance your enthusiastic portrayal of no-knock police raids in "Police! Search Warrant!," you should present some of the tragic outcomes that have taken place as a result of policemen forcing themselves into people's homes.

Mistaken identities, lying informants and simple miscommunication have led to people dying and killing police officers. At the same time, giving police a green light to bash their way into people's homes in response to nonviolent drug crimes represents a dangerous advancement in the militarization of law enforcement.

James Seidler, Lincoln Square

Pubdate: Tue, 9 Feb 2010
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)



By Publius

"Where do you get 'it' from?"

Most patients don't get asked where they get their medicine. That's because everyone knows people get their medicine from a pharmacy. But I have to get my medicine otherwise. I have to safeguard my "source" because my medicine is cannabinoid based - and that makes it almost illegal. - But not today. Today I can answer the source question openly because it is my local pharmacy - with drive-thru service and open to dispense medicine 24 hours a day. I drive up and push a big, yellow smiley-faced button to gain access - a soft automated voice comes over the speaker to verify that I am in the right place in order to pick up my prescription. Next, the typical professional looking person - white coat with badge - slides open the window asking my name and what I need. "I'm picking up a prescription for Publius."

They return with a baggie and bottle containing 30 synthetic cannabinoid capsules dosed at 5mg each - that's right, legal cannabinoids!

What are cannabinoids? Well, here is where things get interesting. As one learns in biology, the human body has many systems - the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems to name a few. Each system has parts: for example, the nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. By the late 1980s, science identified a new human system - the endocannabinoid system (ECS) - also referred to as the cannabinoid system. There is a cannabinoid system present in all mammals - to include humans and 15,000 other species. A mammal is any vertebrate animal distinguished by self- regulating body temperature, hair, and milk-producing females - as mammal means "breast" or of the breast.

The ECS has two main parts: cannabinoids, which are chemical neurotransmitters, and two receptors called "CB1" and "CB2." Cannabinoids activate receptors found throughout the body - in all organs, for example. In fact, all systems in our bodies are modulated by the cannabinoid system. This means that as a body system changes, it uses the ECS to do so.

Science and popular search sites like Wikipedia use three classifications of cannabinoids:

1. Endogenous cannabinoids (also referred to as endocannabinoids), which are produced by the human body

2. Herbal cannabinoids, the kind found in the cannabis sativa plant

3. Synthetic cannabinoids, produced and distributed by pharmaceutical companies

The third kind is what I am picking up from the pharmacy - 30 Marinol (Dronabinol) capsules. Marinol is a prescribed cannabinoid from my doctor - and I am going to test it against the herbal cannabinoids I have been baking into my brownies for five years now.

The pharmacist hands me a white paper bag containing the Marinol prescribed for my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Stapled to the top is a typical handout with cautionary medical information. The small amount (150mg) of the synthetic cannabinoid THC costs $370 - or more than $69,000 per ounce!

I sign my name on a distribution sheet and pay my $3 Medicare co-pay. The government, meaning our tax dollars, pays the other $367 for my medicine. Now I am ready to go - but not before my 'synthetic cannabinoid' dealer informs me of possible side effects. She warns me to be on the lookout for - "dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, feeling 'high,' an exaggerated sense of well-being, lightheadedness, headache, red eyes, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, clumsiness, or unsteadiness."

Geez - sounds like a lot of potential adversity on my chemically sensitive body. From personal experience, I know that the herbal cannabinoids do not cause these side effects in my body. The pharmacist did mention one noticeable side effect that I have had with eating cannabis brownies: dry mouth - which is hardly a problem when considering the overall benefits of the medicine.

When I get home I open the bag to take a look at the Marinol. The pills are a deep maroon color and perfectly round. They remind me of Boston Baked Beans - as they look exactly like those candies. One thing is for sure: synthetic cannabinoids do not look anything like herbal cannabinoids - the ones from the plant itself. The distinct medical difference of popping pills versus the variations and qualities of consuming natural cannabis cannot be understated - and surely won't be by me. After a week of taking one pill a night before bed, as the doctor prescribed, I do not notice any positive effects from the Marinol. It makes me hungry - but that was never a problem in the first place. However, it is my first legal cannabinoid and that is what counts, right? - Not whether it works, just whether it is legal, right?


Here is what I know. I have been self-medicating with herbal cannabinoids for five years to provide relief from MS, which I have had for 23 years. During that time I went through the long list of prescribed pharmaceuticals. The relief was minimal. The problem was (and is) the side effects, which became unbearable over time. I felt like a slave, dependent on a cycle of pharmaceutical use which abused my body and left me in the most depressed, hopeless, and flattened state.

I finally said enough of the pharma-tinkering with my body and the MS and tried baking herbal cannabinoids into brownies. In doing so, my alternative treatment made me a criminal. I began to eat a small cube of cannabis brownie three times a day. Within the first month my insomnia disappeared, my bladder issues calmed, nerve tingles of the arms, legs, and feet stilled. I was no longer breaking out in upper body tremors after being out in the world of loud noises, traffic, and the everyday racing of life. The MS was quieter. I found I wasn't contemplating suicide and I felt hopeful about my life again - but realized I had become a chronic criminal.

Cannabinoids are clearly medicinal to our bodies. But there is a strange distinction between which cannabinoids are effective and which ones are legal. In the case of my MS, appetite stimulation has not been a problem - which is what the Marinol is usually prescribed for. Marinol simply did not work for me. There are other pharmaceutical cannabinoids - such as Nabilone and Sativex - available in other countries, but they remain expensive and less effective than herbal cannabinoids. Nature created cannabis and the mammalian ECS, not you or me - and it was through the use of herbal cannabinoids that I was able to wean myself from a life of pharma-cocktails and move toward a healthier life. - Just as nature designed.

This is the first chapter of book in progress titled The Cannabis Papers being published at the Illinois NORML website.

More chapters are available for review here:

Publius is Bryan Brickner, Julie Falco, Dianna Lynn Meyer, Stephen Young, William Abens, Danielle Schumacher, Derek Rea (1954-2008), David Nott, Dan Linn, Dan S. Wang, Brian Allemana, Peter Vilkelis, and many others.


"There's something contagious about demanding freedom." - Robin Morgan

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Policy and Law Enforcement/Prison content selection and analysis by Stephen Young (, This Just In selection by Richard Lake ( and Stephen Young, International content selection and analysis by Doug Snead (, Cannabis/Hemp content selection and analysis, Hot Off The Net selection and Layout by Matt Elrod ( Analysis comments represent the personal views of editors, not necessarily the views of DrugSense.

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