This Just In
(1)State House: Growing, Distributing Medical Marijuana At Issue
(2)Blarney Stoned On Bath Salts
(3)Border City Of Nuevo Laredo Relives Nightmare Of Violence
(4)In Mile High City, Weed Sparks Up A Counterculture Clash

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 19 Mar 2010
Source: Morning Sentinel (Waterville, ME)
Copyright: 2010 MaineToday Media, Inc.
Author: Susan M. Cover, Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- A legislative committee waded through 44 questions surrounding the state's medical marijuana law Tuesday, including how to regulate use by children and who will be authorized to grow the drug for dispensaries.

The Health and Human Services Committee is expected to vote out a final version of the bill this week, but implementing a citizen initiative to allow dispensaries to distribute the drug has proved difficult.

The committee delayed action on a proposal by Rep. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, that would require dispensaries to buy marijuana only from state-licensed, wholesale growers. The bill approved by voters in November allows dispensaries to grow it themselves.

The idea to restrict growing for dispensaries to wholesale operations gained support from Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland, who wants to "decouple" growing operations from those who sell the drug.

She said oversight by the state Department of Agriculture could help with things such as pesticides and mites.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Henry Chu, Reporting from Dublin, Ireland

New-Wave Head Shops, Fast Becoming a Fixture in Ireland, Sell Cheap and Legal Highs Thinly Disguised As Other Products

Like plenty of hale and hearty young Irishmen, Chris knows just how to unwind after a tough day at the office: He reaches for his bath salts.

He gets the water ready -- but in a glass, not the tub. Then, despite a warning on the box that it's "not for human consumption," he pops a capsule in his mouth and downs it with a swig.

For the next few hours, he's happy and hopped up, full of energy for an evening of clubbing, without a hangover lying in wait.

"I find it much less debilitating" than alcohol, confides the 29-year-old bookkeeper, who can pop two or three capsules a night. He asked that his full name not be used.

Such "bath salts" are popular these days throughout Ireland, not for a relaxing soak at home but because many contain a party drug known as mephedrone. They're part of the literally dizzying array of products being sold in stores offering customers cheap and legal highs, stuff marketed as bath salts or incense but designed to be smoked, snorted or swallowed.

The new-wave head shops are fast becoming a fixture in this island nation, multiplying with astonishing speed from just a few several years ago to as many as 100 today. Much of the growth has occurred in the last 12 months, even as the rest of the Irish economy underwent a painful contraction.

Authorities are increasingly concerned about the potential effect of head shops and their products on crime and the nation's health. Parents, too, are worried about their children's exposure to substances that mimic the effects of outlawed drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.




Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ken Ellingwood, Reporting from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Mexico Under Siege

Renewed Feuding Between Drug Gangs Spurs Old Fears Amid Dozens of Deaths

Residents of this scruffy border town thought they had seen the worst of the violence five years ago, when rival drug gangs staged wild gunfights in the streets and a new police chief was slain just hours after being sworn in.

The warfare gave way to an uneasy calm after one of the warring groups took de facto control. The number of deaths here ebbed, even as violence soared out of control in other border cities, such as Ciudad Juarez, about 500 miles to the northwest.

Now, like a recurring nightmare, dread again hangs over Nuevo Laredo amid a new bloody feud that has ignited widespread fear of a return to the earlier carnage.

Dozens of people have been killed along the border in recent weeks in clashes between northeastern Mexico's most powerful gangs: the Gulf cartel and onetime allies known as the Zetas. Both are based here in Tamaulipas -- a pistol-shaped state that hugs the Texas border and Gulf of Mexico.

Adding to the potential for skyrocketing violence, the Gulf cartel has reportedly reached out for help against the Zetas by enlisting the heavily armed trafficking group headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, based in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.




Pubdate: Fri, 19 Mar 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Stephanie Simon

Medical Marijuana Brands Like 'AK-47' Harsh the Mellow of Upscale Potrepreneurs

DENVER - Attorney Warren Edson would like to throttle the anonymous marijuana breeder who named a potent strain of weed "Green Crack."

He's not too fond, either, of those breeders who have given strains names like "Jack the Ripper," "White Widow," "AK-47" and "Trainwreck."

"How can I find them and strangle them?" Mr. Edson asks.

His beef: Mr. Edson is in the vanguard of an aggressive movement to make pot respectable -but decades of stoner culture keep dragging him down.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 15 states for patients suffering certain conditions, including, in Colorado, chronic pain. More than 60,000 Coloradans have doctor recommendations allowing them to buy marijuana; physicians are approving about 400 new patients a day. Pot shops have popped up all over, including at least 230 here in the Mile High City.

Many of the new dispensaries are dingy and cramped, with bars on the windows, psychedelic posters on the walls and a generally furtive feel.

But a growing number of potrepreneurs have gone upscale, investing as much as $100,000 to launch "wellness centers" that look like spas-and just happen to sell weed. This new breed of marijuana "pharmacist" is pushing hard to professionalize the industry.

That means promoting a voluntary code of conduct at odds with the traditional buck-the-system stoner culture. The new pot professionals look down on neon cannabis-leaf signs, wince at tie-dye Bob Marley posters, and cringe at the in-your-face swagger of the names traditionally used to differentiate varieties of marijuana.





New research out of Canada claims to have found the genes in poppy plants that create painkillers in the plant. What does this mean for the drug war?

Hunters in Mexico are learning that the drug war means a lot less peace and quiet. And, in Los Angeles, medical cannabis activists try to preempt a city crackdown, while a longtime Hawaiian cannabis activist was raided by the feds last week.


Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2010 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald

Pain Reliever Discovery

University of Calgary researchers say they've pinpointed certain elusive genes of the opium poppy, a discovery that could allow for cheaper and more widespread painkillers.

The genes are responsible for allowing the opium poppy to produce some of the world's most widely used pain relievers: codeine and morphine, said U of C biological sciences professor Peter Facchini.

Enzymes encoded by the two genes have eluded scientists for at least 50 years, Facchini said.

"These are the two that are unique in opium poppy that allow it, uniquely among plants, to make codeine and morphine," he said.

The scientist has devoted 18 years to his research on the opium poppy, and made the genetic discovery along with Jillian Hagel, a post-doctoral scientist in Facchini's lab.

Their findings, which were announced Sunday, will be published in a paper appearing in the online edition of Nature Chemical Biology.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2010 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

About 43% of the Country's Hunters Are From the United States. Their Prime Areas Have the Most Intense Violence.

LOS MOCHIS, Mexico - It was a fabulous day for duck hunting, quiet and peaceful except for the occasional bang of a shotgun in a marsh near the Mexican town of Los Mochis. Then Mexico's drug war intruded.

A police helicopter roared in over the mangroves, scattering the ducks and hovering over the American hunters trying not to be seen in their blinds.

Suspected drug traffickers had killed six people, execution-style with bullets to the head, near the marsh the night before. Now police were searching for a possible seventh body that may have been dumped in the water.

"Oh, that's not good for business," guide David Warner said as the helicopter clattered away over the marsh.

Across Mexico, drug violence is putting a damper on efforts to attract American hunters, a form of tourism that ranchers and the government have been trying to encourage in recent years as a way of bringing jobs to rural parts of the country.




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Mar 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Hoeffel

Dispensary Operators Gather Signatures for a Referendum to Block the City's Ordinance

Seeking to overturn the city's medical marijuana ordinance even before it takes effect, a loose-knit coalition of Los Angeles collectives is quietly gathering signatures to force a referendum on the law.

The scrappy, largely volunteer effort faces a Monday deadline to turn in 27,425 valid signatures.

"We're getting down to the wire here," said Dan Halbert, who runs Rainforest Collective in Mar Vista and has coordinated the campaign. "It's going to be close."

Halbert's dispensary on Venice Boulevard, which opened last year, is one of hundreds that would have to close under the ordinance. That law, which will probably not be in effect until May, caps the number at 70. But it also makes an exception to allow about 128 dispensaries that registered in 2007, when the City Council adopted a moratorium, to stay open.

"They are just kind of arbitrarily drawing a line in the sand," said Halbert, who argues that the competitive business environment would eventually reduce the number on its own, leaving only the best-run collectives.


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Pubdate: Fri, 12 Mar 2010
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2010 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Details: Author: John Burnett

Christie: 'Utmost Respect' Showed In Search

At least six and perhaps as many as a dozen homes were raided Wednesday during a federal drug sweep on the Big Island.

"I know of about six others who were raided," said Roger Christie, founder and director of The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, whose downtown Hilo sanctuary and Wainaku residence were searched by federal agents, assisted by local police.

A police log for Wednesday showed 12 report numbers indicating police assistance to outside law enforcement agencies between 4 a.m. and just past 3 p.m. Five incidents occurred in Puna, four in South Hilo, and one each in North Hilo, Hamakua and Ka'u.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that all are related to the federal operation, and referred any further inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's office in Honolulu.

"There have been no arrests and no charges," Deputy U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck said Thursday afternoon.

Two callers told the Tribune-Herald that their homes were raided. One didn't offer additional information or leave a phone number on a voice message. Another said 25 marijuana seedlings were confiscated from his home and complained about his 93-year-old father being awakened at 6 a.m.

Christie said authorities spent about seven hours searching his home and ministry, starting around 6 a.m. He said the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspector and U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service were involved in the search, as were local police.

"They treated me with the utmost respect and courtesy," Christie said Wednesday afternoon at THC Ministry headquarters, which showed no outward signs Thursday afternoon of having been searched. Christie said investigators even bought him breakfast.


"To me, the interesting thing in the search warrant was ... the need to leave anything behind anything that could be construed as legitimate ministry materials. ... Usually, it's just rip and roll," Christie added. "You know, that's a country I want to live in. If they're gonna have to do this, do it with some respect."




What happens to all that alleged drug money that police confiscate from suspects? Another pair of cases show it's often difficult to tell - even when professional accountants are involved. Elsewhere, Rachel Hoffman's police handler may get his job back; and the Attorney General of Costa Rica has an interesting but likely misguided plan to curb illegal drug use with legal drug use.


Pubdate: Sat, 13 Mar 2010
Source: Peoria Journal Star (IL)
Copyright: 2010 Peoria Journal Star
Author: Terry Bibo, Journal Star

Peoria County State's Attorney Kevin Lyons is not the only one to raise questions about central Illinois' undercover drug enforcement.

He's just the only one willing to do so in public. Lyons is convinced he made no progress with law-enforcement officials in private.

"Everyone in the room will have guns and a bullet-proof vest except for me," he says via e-mail. "How wrong is that???"

Drugs. Guns. Cash. Peoria's Multi-County Narcotics Enforcement Group is the place where that unholy trio collides, with support from your federal, state and local tax dollars. But P-MEG's own audits raise questions about how those resources are handled.

"Our consideration of internal control over financial reporting . . . would not necessarily identify all deficiencies in internal control," says the financial report from auditors Crowe Horwath LLC, which was sent to the MEG policy board on Dec. 16. "However, as discussed below, we identified certain deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be significant deficiencies."

Translation: We didn't dig too deep, or we might have found more. Still, we've got problems here.




Pubdate: Thu, 11 Mar 2010
Source: Jacksonville Daily News (NC)
Copyright: 2010 Jacksonville Daily News
Author: Jannette Pippin

RALEIGH -- A former Carteret County sheriff and a former deputy who served under him face federal charges alleging they stole federal funds intended for covert drug investigations.

Ralph Thomas Jr., Christopher Cozart and unnamed co-conspirators are accused of illegally taking more than $5,000 and putting the drug funds to personal use, according to criminal information filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The alleged thefts occurred on multiple occasions between about 1997 and October 2006 according to the charges. Thomas retired in 2006 after a 20-year career as sheriff.

According to the court documents, sheriff's deputies under Thomas' supervision, including Cozart, used checks drawn on official accounts maintained by the Carteret County Sheriff's Office to withdraw funds designated only for use in covert drug investigations. "Thereafter, Thomas was provided with said county funds and he misappropriated the funds by keeping a portion of the cash for his own personal use and benefit. Other individuals likewise received misappropriated funds which they used for their personal use and benefit," the court information states.

The information on Cozart's charges say he also received funds and kept a portion for personal use.

Cozart served as a deputy sheriff in Carteret County from 2002 to 2007, and in that position he served as a detective in the office's drug unit. The court information indicates there were unnamed co-conspirators in the alleged incidents.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2010 The Tribune Co.
Author: Donna Koehn,The Tampa Tribune

Training, Better Procedures Might Have Spared Rachel Hoffman, Report Says

TAMPA - Ryan Pender, the only Tallahassee police officer fired after a failed drug sting that led to the death of an undercover informant from Pinellas County, may get his job back - with back pay.

Pender shouldn't be blamed because the department lacked specific policies that might have guided him and prevented the death of Rachel Hoffman, 23, according to Christopher Shulman of Tampa, who mediated the January arbitration hearing to determine Pender's fate. Shulman's findings were released Saturday.

"I am not exonerating Grievant for the lapses in judgment the record suggests he made related to his selection and employment of Ms. Hoffman as a CI," he wrote.

"It is this arbitrator's view (apparently shared by the Legislature, which enacted 'Rachel's Law') that greater training, combined with better procedures, might have avoided Ms. Hoffman's death, if only because she might not have been a CI and/or might not have been employed in this Buy/Bust."

Hoffman, who used and sold marijuana, was shot by two men in May 2008 as she attempted to avoid jail time by working the sting, which involved buying cocaine, Ecstasy and a handgun with marked bills. Deneilo Bradshaw and Andrea Green each received life in prison without the possibility of parole for her murder.


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Pubdate: Sun, 14 Mar 2010
Source: Reporter, The (Fond du Lac, WI)
Copyright: 2010 Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Note: by TCRN Staff

The Attorney General, Francisco Dall'Anese is spearheading an initiative to provide, free of charge, substitutes to drug addicts. A plan that aims to "break" the finances of drug traffickers.

"It would reduce demand. The idea is to compete (with the drug) through the distribution of an alternative drug (created in the laboratory)." said Dall'Anese.

The prosecutor has lobbied diligently, seeking support, but the project raises some concerns.

Minister of Public Safety, Janina del Vecchio said a similar plan failed in Austria for there, resulting in increased consumption of the target drug.

The director of the Costa Rican Drug Institute (DCI), Mauritius Boraschi believes that this is not something that could be currently functional in Costa Rica, as it is in European countries, because the reality is different: there the major problem is with heroin and there is a medication for treating heroin addiction, but here the main problem is a cocaine, especially crack use.




How can cannabis consumers be anything but ambivalent about proposals to merely fine them instead of criminalizing them? No doubt witches would have had mixed feelings about being fined instead of being burned at the stake.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed Obama's lead and did a little Q&A via Youtube. Once again, questions concerning cannabis legalization garnered the most votes, and once again, the questions were dismissed in the media as fringe, or merely amusing, and responded to with meaningless platitudes.

Yet another cop opined with half-truths, lies and distortions on how cannabis regulation would destroy society.

Mark Twain once said, "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example." Steve Kubby must really get on the nerves of medicinal cannabis sceptics.


Pubdate: Wed, 17 Mar 2010
Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 San Francisco Bay Guardian
Author: Jobert Poblete

Legislation designed to help pot smokers instead had many of them going all like, "Dude, what the fuck?!?!" But the author is now telling everyone to chill out, no problem, he's got it under control.

California Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF) introduced a bill last month that would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana an infraction instead of a misdemeanor. As introduced, the bill Senate Bill 1449 would also raise fines to $250 from $100, which pot advocates and their allies thought was a serious bummer. But Leno called this a "drafting error" that he intends to correct with an amendment this week.

Marijuana possession is currently the only misdemeanor on the books that does not result in a jail sentence. Leno told us that SB 1449 would correct this irregularity. Leno also said that the bill would save the state time and money. Unlike infractions, misdemeanor charges give defendants the right to costly jury trials and access to public defenders.

"Because of the allowance for a jury trial, a lot of time, money, and effort is wasted when it's an infraction, misnamed," Leno told us. "Either we call it what it is - a $100 fine is an infraction - or if it is a misdemeanor, then increase the penalty to include jail time. But no one wants to do that."


Drug policy reform advocates supported the move to make possession an infraction instead of a misdemeanor but raised concerns about the possible increase in fines. "We have always supported making marijuana possession an infraction instead of a misdemeanor," said Dale Gieringer, vice chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.




Pubdate: Wed, 17 Mar 2010
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2010 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Norma Greenaway, Canwest News Service

Stephen Harper waltzed through his first interview gig on YouTube on Tuesday and along the way he gave a thumbs-up to the seal hunt and the crackdown on "guns, gangs and drugs" and a firm thumbs-down to legalizing pot.

"The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad," the prime minister said.

"And even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people."

Canadian Patrick Pichette, Google's bilingual chief financial officer, conducted the interview, and made a point of saying the question about marijuana, which he asked last, won the most votes from those who participated in the YouTube challenge.

"Well, it's a good question," Harper responded.


On mandatory sentencing, he said that although he didn't think crime was out of control in the country, there are "worrying growth areas, particularly if you look at the areas of guns, gangs and drugs, and this is a growth area, not just in Canada, but around the world."




Pubdate: Sun, 14 Mar 2010
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Bob Brooks
Note: Bob Brooks is Ventura County sheriff.

A Windfall Or Smokescreen For Easing State's Fiscal Woes?

Marijuana legalization advocates have, apparently, collected enough signatures to qualify their initiative (No. 1377) for the November ballot. The measure proposes to "legalize (nonmedicinal) marijuana and tax it," as if that will solve California's fiscal problems.

This claim was somewhat legitimized when the California Board of Equalization estimated that the annual revenue gained from a marijuana sales tax would be $1.4 billion. The state director of finance places the savings in the tens of millions of dollars, but concerned citizens need to ask how those figures were derived and if they reflect the true cost.

In 2006, Jon Gettman, the former National Director for NORMAL [sic] (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and longtime contributor to High Times magazine, published an article entitled "Marijuana Production in the United States."

If one looks at the facts available to Gettman, you will see that his numbers were inflated, which, obviously, skewed his overall findings. Unfortunately, the Board of Equalization relied on Gettman's analysis.

Dr. Rosalie Pacula from the RAND Corp. conducted a cost-benefit analysis on the same topic and discredited the Board of Equalization's findings. Yet, Dr. Pacula's information is often ignored.

An area sometimes overlooked in the legalization debate pertains to the social and economic costs to society. A 2009 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, found that for every $1 gained in tax revenue on alcohol and tobacco, society pays $8.95 in social costs.

The legalization of recreational marijuana will remove sanctions and the stigma of criminal activity, which will only encourage much greater use of a dangerous, addictive, and highly potent drug, will cost taxpayers far more than any tax could possibly recover.

Proponents of legalization claim that smoking marijuana is not as bad for you as consuming alcohol. The truth is marijuana is addictive and marijuana smoke does cause cancer.




Pubdate: Sat, 13 Mar 2010
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Swift Communications
Author: Abby Hoover

Watching Steve Kubby maneuver around on the mountain makes it hard to believe he's been living with terminal cancer for 35 years.

Kubby is determined to ski a million vertical feet before the end of the season.

It's a challenge he set for himself to raise awareness of his disease and the treatment to which he feels he owes his life. He attributes his survival to regular use of medicinal marijuana. "I'm so inspired because I'm alive," he said. "I should have died or had a heart attack, but instead I'm skiing and what a wonderful gift, and without this herb, that gift wouldn't be a reality."

His Cancer

Kubby was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma at 24 years old and it turned malignant when he was 28.

Pheochromocytoma is a rare form of adrenal cancer that causes spikes in adrenaline and other hormones that increase a person's blood pressure, leaving them with feelings of panic, fear, nausea, and abdominal pain.




In Mexico, so-called "drug slayings" ("believed to be linked to drug traffickers") claimed many more last week, this time taking the lives of two U.S. consulate employees. Prohibitionists claim such violence is a sign of success. "The argument is absurd that the killings are a sign of his success," said former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, who earlier this year authored a report which championed legalization of drugs. The Wall Street Journal obediently conveyed the wisdom of government prohibitionists: the problem of course is that there's not enough government, and the journal cited government experts to prove it. The Mexican government "doesn't have the training for intelligence work or counterinsurgency operations that could help turn the tide." Problem: not enough government. Solution to 'turn the tide' against drugs in Mexico? More government. Makes sense: doesn't more government always 'turn the tide' on drugs?

Fifty years after the fact, a little-known incident where "an entire French village" went temporarily insane is now being blamed on a secret U.S. government experiment - with LSD. In 1951, the population of the town of Pont-Saint-Esprit suffered hallucinations, which were blamed on bad baguettes, at the time. Journalist H P Albarelli Jr came across CIA documents recently which referred to a certain "Cursed Bread" incident which was not caused by mouldy bread, but by surreptitious dosing with LSD. Five were killed, many more sent to psychiatric institutions. "I almost kicked the bucket, I'd like to know why," asked a 71-year-old Pont-Saint-Esprit resident.

And finally this week, cannabis activists from the hemp-friendly town of Nimbin, Australia are taking their campaign to the national capitol of Canberra after an invitation extended to U.S. President Barack Obama fell on deaf ears. "We will be travelling to Canberra with our Big Joint and Polite Force, hoping to get medical cannabis on the political agenda," explained Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone. "We know Kevin Rudd is looking for evidence based policies and surely it's time to introduce cannabis regulations, quality controls and a tax system for Australia's more than 2 million cannabis users."


Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company

LA UNION, Mexico - Gunmen believed to be linked to drug traffickers shot a pregnant American consulate worker and her husband to death in the violence-racked border town of Ciudad Juarez over the weekend, leaving their baby wailing in the back seat of their car, the authorities said Sunday. The gunmen also killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two young children.


As killings have multiplied in Mexico, the government has long argued that the overwhelming majority of the casualties of the drug war are involved in the narcotics business. "The argument is absurd that the killings are a sign of his success," Mr. Castaneda said, repeating an oft-heard refrain of both the Mexican and American governments.

Concerned about the rising violence, the State Department had decided that employees at a string of consular offices along the Mexican border - Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros - could temporarily evacuate their families to the United States. That decision was not formally announced until Sunday.



Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Calderon's Strategy of Using Army Patrols Draws Fire as Juarez, a Centerpiece of the Push, Turns Into a Murder Capital

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico--The gangland-style murders of three people with ties to the U.S. consulate in this border city have confirmed for many people what residents here already knew: President Felipe Calderon's strategy of sending in the troops to corral drug gangs has failed.


"It's a complete failure," Oscar Cantu, publisher of local newspaper El Norte, says of Mr. Calderon's enforcement strategy.


The president told residents he regretted the "cowardly" murders and that the fight for Juarez was crucial to Mexico's future. Mr. Calderon resisted calls by some protesters to pull out the army, saying "I don't think that's going to help Juarez's security problem."

The president's top aides tacitly acknowledge that the army strategy hasn't worked. Officials say they will try two new approaches: a greater focus on intelligence work, and an effort to create jobs, build schools, open parks and counsel drug addicts.


Part of the problem is that the military doesn't have the training for intelligence work or counterinsurgency operations that could help turn the tide in Juarez, experts say. Until now, the troops' main function has been to patrol Juarez and other cities. Most troops rotate out after two-month assignments.


Other experts say Mexico's army of conscripts could develop intelligence capacity if it got more direct training from the U.S. military. The U.S. has pledged about $400 million a year in antidrug aid to Mexico, though much of the money is for hardware such as helicopters and hasn't yet been disbursed.




Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: McGill Daily, The (CN QU Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The McGill Daily

The American Senate Judiciary Committee weakened the mandatory minimum sentencing laws for cocaine last week. Mandatory minimum sentence laws are legislative enactments that force judges to give a minimum penalty for certain crimes.

Under the new sentencing guidelines, crack cocaine - most often used by black Americans - will be penalized 20 times more harshly than powder cocaine, used most frequently by white Americans. Previously, penalties for crack were 100 times harsher.

When talking about racist drug and enforcement policies like this, it's likely that the United States, not Canada, will be the topic of conversation. After all, American mandatory minimum sentencing disproportionately affects black males.

In New York, in spite of the fact that white people are smoking the most marijuana, people of colour are seven times likelier to be arrested for possession. In fact, marijuana became criminalized because of people's fears of Mexican and black people.

But Canada should not be left out of the conversation. Take the example of indigenous youth, many of whom are part of a cycle of substance abuse that was first institutionalized by European colonists, who made a practice of using alcohol to extract better terms of trade from native populations.

The way Canada's current drug-related legislation is enforced is highly racialized. There have long been cries of racial profiling in connection to drug-related law enforcement. A report released last week by the UN's independent expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, condemned Canada - and Montreal in particular - for systemic racial profiling.

And the outcry that followed Fredy Villanueva's death at the hands of the Montreal police has revealed the widespread sentiment among minorities in the area that the police profile people of colour.

The institutional injustice doesn't end there.

The Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Justice System has reported that black people found guilty of drug-related offences would more likely be given a prison term than white offenders - 55 per cent of people of colour went to prison, versus 36 per cent of white people.

This is despite the fact that there were "no significant differences" in the circumstances of the cases.

And studies have repeatedly shown that harsher prison sentences, which we already know to be racially skewed, have no substantial effect on rates of recidivism.

But this tough-on-crime approach fails to take into account the larger context of the issue; it utilizes short-term methods to try and stem a problem that has deeper roots.

Often, the underground economy becomes the best career prospect for people in economically marginalized communities or who are systemically blocked from entering other job markets.

The current enforcement policies are not even effective at achieving their goal: while 28 per cent of Canadians said they had used illegal drugs in 1994, that number had risen to 45 per cent in 2004, all while the government continues to spend the majority of its drug policy budget - 73 per cent - on enforcement, versus 14 per cent spent on treatment and just 2.6 per cent on prevention. The country's first drug-related mandatory minimum sentencing bill, Bill C-15 - which would have legislated minimum sentences for marijuana growing - was introduced in Parliament last year and only died due to the prorogation. Though the bill has been scuttled, it's a part of a broader move toward enforcement-based policies pushed by the Conservatives. This is worrying, given the U.S.'s history with mandatory sentencing.

Canadian drug policy must move in the direction of solving larger, systemic inequalities, rather than blindly cracking down on their effects.

And since the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, Quebec's human rights commission, issued a promise last week to hold hearings on racial profiling later this spring, we urge the province to pay close attention to the discourse that comes out of these hearings, and to act decisively to stem the tide of racial profiling in drug-related crimes in this province.



Pubdate: Thu, 11 Mar 2010
Source: Sun, The (UK)
Copyright: 2010 News Group Newspapers Ltd

A MYSTERY illness that caused an entire French village to go temporarily mad 50-years ago has been blamed on secret CIA mind control experiments with LSD.

Hundreds of residents in picturesque Pont-Saint-Esprit were suddenly struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations on August 16, 1951.


For decades the bizarre "Cursed Bread" incident was blamed on a local baker whose baguettes had been poisoned with either a psychedelic mould or mercury.

But new evidence points the finger at the American


Journalist H P Albarelli Jr came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of a biochemist who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the "Cursed Bread" incident.

One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" and explains that it was not "at all" caused by mould but by diethylamide -- the D in LSD.

After the Korean War the Americans launched huge research programs into the mind control of prisoners and enemy troops.

According to U.S. news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself. French intelligence officially denies this.

Angry locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit continue to be haunted by the apocalyptic scenes and still want answers.

Charles Granjoh, 71, said: "I almost kicked the bucket, I'd like to know why."



Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Source: Lismore Northern Star (Australia)
Copyright: APN News & Media Ltd 2010


IF PRESIDENT Obama can't come to Nimbin, then Nimbin will fire up the Kombis and head to him.


Organisers are packing their banners, rolling up their 'big joint' and heading to Canberra by car, caravan or Kombi to push for cannabis law reform like that in the US.

Hemp Embassy representative Max Stone said, unlike many of their campaigns, this protest wasn't about the right of people to smoke pot, but the right of sick people to access the documented pain-relief available from medicinal cannabis.


Meanwhile, Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone has written to both the Prime Minister and the U.S. President ahead of his visit later this month.

He has asked Mr Rudd to raise the issue of medical cannabis with President Obama, and Mr Obama to 'enlighten our PM on the issue'.

"We will be travelling to Canberra with our Big Joint and Polite Force, hoping to get medical cannabis on the political agenda, and we are asking cannabis consumers and friends to write to the Prime Minister and urge him to talk to the President about what is happening in America," he said.

"We know Kevin Rudd is looking for evidence based policies and surely it's time to introduce cannabis regulations, quality controls and a tax system for Australia's more than 2 million cannabis users."



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


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The first time I heard former Yippie activist Dana Beal mention ibogaine I couldn't have cared less what he was talking about.


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Check back each week! We'll have new podcasts from Psychedelic Science presenters.

This week Alex Grey.

Last week Diana Slattery.


Half of Canadians surveyed believe possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use should not be a crime.

Thirty per cent of those polled disagree with the statement, while 20 per cent were neutral. Agreement with the statement has increased by five percentage points since June of 2000 when it was 45 per cent.



From the creators of the classic, BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters (2003), Flex Your Rights will release its new achievement, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police on March 22, 2010.


by Mike Meno

The Marijuana Policy Project is calling upon shoppers across the U.S. to join in a boycott of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in order to protest the unjust and potentially unlawful firing of Joe Casias, a 29-year-old medical marijuana patient and sinus cancer survivor who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor.



By Ralph D. Davis

I'm very much in favor of making cannabis legal for medicinal purposes. It's obvious from all the information out today that it's time to do what's honest and right. The great lie has been exposed. I'm a disabled vet; I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. I support House Bill 1380.

Ralph D. Davis Rockingham

Pubdate: Mon, 8 Mar 2010
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)


DrugSense recognizes Dan Linn of Sycamore, Illinois for his five published letters during February, which brings his total published letters that we know of to 57.

During the month Dan focused his letter writing efforts on medicinal marijuana as the Executive Director of the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association.

A volunteer MAP newshawk and editor, Dan manages the selection process for the Letter Of The Week You may read his published letters at:



By John Payne

Early last month, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr. called for reforms of our criminal justice system, including incarcerating fewer nonviolent offenders. Price argued that such changes would both decrease recidivism and save the state money by decreasing prison budgets, and he was widely applauded by editorialists across the state for his stance.

However, when a bill to ban K2, a chemical used as a synthetic substitute for marijuana, received its first public hearing little more than a week later, newspapers were equally eager to support the restriction. It should not be necessary to point out that increasing the number of nonviolent offenses is not obviously compatible with decreasing the number of nonviolent offenders behind bars. Furthermore, although enforcing a ban on K2 would require spending additional tax dollars, it is unlikely to lower the rate of drug use significantly.

According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, federal, state, and local governments spend more than $44 billion per year in their attempts to stop people from using certain drugs. It is difficult to determine exactly how much money is spent on specific drugs, but given that there were 847,863 arrests for marijuana during 2008 - half of all drug arrests - it is safe to say that spending on marijuana enforcement is higher than for any other drug, and far out of proportion to the dangers of a drug that is relatively innocuous in comparison to most others.

Still, despite the billions of dollars spent and millions of people arrested over the years, legal restrictions on marijuana appear to have had little to no impact on decreasing its use.

Although exact statistics for the period during marijuana's initial prohibition are impossible to come by, when it was first outlawed in 1937, its use was confined almost exclusively to Mexican immigrants in the West and only a tiny proportion of the population had ever smoked it. Marijuana use skyrocketed during the 1960s, when simple possession still typically triggered jail time across the country. As use of the drug continued to increase throughout the 1970s, some states began decriminalizing marijuana possession, indicating that marijuana use tends to influence the law - not the other way around.

The 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey, published annually by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, concedes that "A study of the effects of decriminalization by several states during the late 1970s found no evidence of any impact on the use of marijuana among young people, nor on attitudes and beliefs concerning its use." The report does go on to note that some more recent studies find that teens living in states where marijuana possession is decriminalized are more likely to smoke marijuana, but this correlation does not indicate causation. As noted earlier, the idea that higher use rates drive decriminalization is a better fit for the timeframe, and it could also be that a third variable - such as wider adoption of more socially liberal views - help to cause both decriminalization and higher rates of marijuana use.

As of 2009, 102 million Americans - a third of the population - have used marijuana, according to estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Almost all of them did so after marijuana was made illegal 73 years ago. Clearly, the law does not stop people from obtaining and using marijuana. Usage rates have changed dramatically over the years, but those changes are driven far more by wider social changes and shifting attitudes than by any law. Only politicians could be so vain as to believe their dictates are the guiding force in the lives of millions of people.

A ban of K2, or of any similar drug, will not stop people from becoming intoxicated in some politically incorrect way. In fact, given that K2 is being sold primarily as a legal substitute for marijuana, banning it may simply send K2 users back to marijuana use, an outcome that I do not believe the bill's supporters intend.

However, if people truly enjoy K2, no law passed by a legislature will ever repeal the law of supply and demand. Market forces will provide consumers with the goods they want - even illicit ones. Banning K2 would increase the already stratospheric costs of enforcing our drug laws, without making an appreciable dent in drug use. Reasonable people would laugh such proposals out of the legislature, but when it comes to the war on drugs, we abandoned reason a long time ago.

John Payne is a research assistant at the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri-based think tank. This piece originally appeared at the Globe-Democrat website -


"The war for freedom will never really be won because the price of freedom is constant vigilance over ourselves and over our Government." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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