THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) DRUG GANGS TAKE AIM AT ARMY
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Apr 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinso, Reporting from Mexico City
Mexico Under Siege
Cartels Ratchet Up the War by Attacking Two Military Bases in Northern Mexico
Drug traffickers fighting to control northern Mexico have turned their guns and grenades on the Mexican army, authorities said, in an apparent escalation of warfare that played out across multiple cities in two border states.
In coordinated attacks, gunmen in armored cars and equipped with grenade launchers fought army troops this week and attempted to trap some of them in two military bases by cutting off access and blocking highways, a new tactic by Mexico's organized criminals.
In taking such aggressive action, the traffickers have shown that they are not reluctant to challenge the army head-on and that they possess good intelligence on where the army is, how it moves and when it operates.
At least 18 alleged attackers were killed and one soldier wounded in the fighting that erupted Tuesday in half a dozen towns and cities in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, the army said, topping off one of the deadliest months yet in a drug war that has raged for nearly 3 1/2 years.
(2) NEW MEXICO GOV. BILL RICHARDSON SENDS NATIONAL GUARD TO BORDER ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 01 Apr 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Authors: Daniel Borunda and Diana M. Alba
EL PASO -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday ordered National Guard soldiers to patrol the state's border with Mexico after the killing of a rancher in Arizona.
Soldiers will be assisting the U.S. Border Patrol by setting up surveillance in counter-drug efforts in the desert along the border, said a spokes man for the state's National Guard.
"Basically, it is just assisting them with observation and giving them a lot more eyes on the border," Lt. Col. Jamison Herrera said.
"We stand ready to support federal and local law enforcement to make sure the southern border of New Mexico stays safe and secure," Herrera said.
State officials, citing operational security, would not disclose the number of soldiers who will be deployed, where they will be posted or what types of equipment will be used.
(3) JUSTICE MINISTER MULLS POT PENALTIES ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Apr 2010
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2010 The Halifax Herald Limited
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/180 Author: Jeffrey Simpson
A legal decision ordering the province to pay for a woman's pot has Justice Minister Ross Landry musing about the merits of decriminalization.
Landry suggested to reporters at Province House on Thursday that his department will probably eventually discuss whether prosecuting someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana is a good use of resources.
"We have to be more administratively efficient when dealing with people in the small uses of marijuana," Landry said.
"We have to be more efficient on how you process someone who's in a small possession of marijuana, and the cost to justice. Whether it goes beyond that at this time, I think it needs further examination and reflection."
(4) STING HAS CALLED FOR THE LEGALISATION OF MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Apr 2010
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2010 The Sydney Morning Herald
The Fields of Gold singer insists America should spend the money it uses jailing users of the drug on tackling poverty and global warming.
Sting, 58, wrote on his blog how he feels marijuana users are imprisoned for a crime that doesn't hurt anyone.
He said: "The 'War on Drugs' has failed - but it's worse than that. It is actively harming our society. Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned.
"People who genuinely need help can't get it. Neither can people who need medical marijuana to treat terrible diseases.
We are spending billions, filling up our prisons with non-violent offenders and sacrificing our liberties."
Sting - real name Gordon Sumner - called for people to support the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an activist group who campaign for those jailed for non-violent drugs offences to be released from prison.
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
COMMENTS: ( Top )
In Arizona, even some Republican legislators see the need for new
taxes, if medical marijuana becomes available. In Massachusetts, a
top state court questions many drug cases in the wake of a U.S.
Supreme Court decision. And, England seems to be in the grips of a
classic drug panic - and it's no coincidence that elections are fast
In Arizona, even some Republican legislators see the need for new taxes, if medical marijuana becomes available. In Massachusetts, a top state court questions many drug cases in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision. And, England seems to be in the grips of a classic drug panic - and it's no coincidence that elections are fast approaching.
(5) ARIZONA LAWMAKERS ARE DEBATING TAX ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 26 Mar 2010
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2010 The Arizona Republic
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/24 Author: Alia Beard Rau
Cited: Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project
Proposed legislation that would tax medical marijuana - if voters legalize it this fall - narrowly passed the state Senate on Thursday thanks to a split among Republicans.
The bill passed with a vote of 17-12 after five Republicans, including Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, supported it. It now goes to the House for consideration.
Senate Bill 1222 would make medical marijuana subject to the state sales tax, which right now is at 5.6 percent. Most drugs and medical supplies are exempt from this tax. It would also tack on a $20-per-ounce luxury tax.
It's unknown how much medical marijuana would cost if it were legal, but DPS spokesman Bart Graves said the street value of marijuana in Phoenix is $65 to $100 an ounce.
(6) RULING ON DRUG CASES COULD SPUR APPEALS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2010 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: John R. Ellement
Hundreds of drug cases could be appealed and some convicted drug dealers could win early release because of a ruling by the state's highest court yesterday that retroactively applies a new constitutional principle to drug trials held from 2005 to 2009, lawyers said.
In a closely-watched, 6-to-1 decision, the Supreme Judicial Court moved to clear up confusion created last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts routinely violated the rights of defendants in drug trials by not having a chemist testify in person that a seized substance was in fact an illegal drug.
Neither the state nor the federal court had made it clear how far back the ruling in the case, Commonwealth v. Melendez-Diaz, should apply. The SJC said yesterday that it should apply from 2005, when Massachusetts law permitted trials without chemists, to last year when the nation's highest court invalidated the practice.
The SJC also said the appeal will be available to drug defendants even if the defense did not object at the time of the trial, settling a key question that has bedeviled both attorneys and prosecutors for months.
(7) CONTROVERSIAL LEGAL DRUG ON SALE IN SWINDON ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Swindon Advertiser (UK)
Copyright: 2010 Swindon Advertiser
Author: Jeremy Grimaldi
THE DRUG mephedrone, which has been blamed for the deaths of several teenagers across the UK, is readily available on the streets of Swindon, an Adver investigation has confirmed.
Yesterday, as the Government signalled it would outlaw the legal 'high', Wiltshire police reminded the public about its potential health risk.
The drug, popularly known as meow meow, is a legally sold plant fertiliser which has been described as more dangerous than cocaine.
The Adver was able to buy a one gram bag of the drug -- linked to the deaths of four teenagers and one 49-year-old -- for 15UKP from a shop at the tented market in the town centre.
The shop's owner has expressed alarm at being confronted about the potential dangers of the drug.
The substance is one molecule different from ecstasy and is therefore treated as a different substance that is not yet outlawed in Britain.
(8) RUSHING MEPHEDRONE BAN IS WRONG ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 29 Mar 2010
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Richard Garside
The home secretary might try to brazen out Penny Taylor's resignation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. If so, the government's claim that it values independent scientific advice will take another knock. Waiting to impose a ban on mephedrone until the ACMD reports is not the same as basing a decision on scientific advice. The Home Office had already decided to ban mephedrone. The ACMD's deliberations were mere window dressing. So it is worth considering how the process of classifying a drug generally operates.
Under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act the home secretary is obliged to consult the ACMD about any proposed changes to a drug's classification.
Following discussion with the Home Office, an ACMD working group will draw up a draft report, normally over a period of four or five meetings. It will then go to the full ACMD for agreement, after which the ACMD will write to the home secretary with its recommendation. This is painstaking, detailed and time-consuming work.
After giving the report due consideration, the home secretary makes his or her response. There then comes the formal consultation, lasting 12 weeks, and a regulatory impact assessment. Both houses of parliament then need to approve any change, as does the privy council. Following this the new classification becomes law.
In normal times the whole process takes a year and a half, sometimes longer. The deliberations that led to cannabis being reclassified from class B to class C in January 2004 came on the back of an ACMD-led review that lasted close to two and half years.
But these are not normal times. We are in the middle of a mephedrone scare in the runup to a general election. The result of this toxic combination is the current farrago.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The utter futility of the drug war was highlighted by reporting into
gang operations behind prison walls in New Jersey. In Georgia,
shocking new developments in the killing of Rev. Jonathan Ayers, as
well as another case of missing drug evidence from a police locker.
And, nasty tricks at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The utter futility of the drug war was highlighted by reporting into gang operations behind prison walls in New Jersey. In Georgia, shocking new developments in the killing of Rev. Jonathan Ayers, as well as another case of missing drug evidence from a police locker. And, nasty tricks at the U.S.-Mexico border.
(9) GANGS THRIVING IN S.J. PRISONS ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 29 Mar 2010
Source: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Courier-Post
Authors: Jim Walsh, and George Mast
When authorities smashed a street gang that dealt drugs and violence in Camden, they swept dangerous figures off street corners along Broadway.
But the alleged leader of the Nine Trey Headbustas was nowhere near the scene of the group's crimes between October 2003 and January 2008.
Investigators assert Michael Anderson, a high-ranking Blood known as the Original, Original Gangster, oversaw the Headbustas from a state prison cell -- his home since 1996.
Anderson, a 37-year-old career criminal from Essex County, still awaits trial on charges that include conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering and multiple drug offenses. But authorities says the alleged ability to run a group like the Headbustas from behind bars reflects the growing reach and sophistication of criminal street gangs.
"They are much more disciplined in what they do, and that's not a good thing," said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk, referring to the spread of nationwide gangs like the Bloods and Crips.
"There's evidence that these gangs are more tightly organized, more hierarchical," said Lee Seglem, a spokesman for the State Commission of Investigation. "Some are on the same kind of evolutionary path as (traditional) organized crime."
(10) NCIS OFFICER ON LEAVE PENDING PROBE ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2010
Source: Toccoa Record, The (GA)
Copyright: 2010 The Toccoa Record
Author: Rob Moore, The Northeast Georgian
The area drug enforcement officer at the center of a multi-million dollar lawsuit stemming from the fatal shooting of a Lavonia pastor last September has been placed on administrative leave.
A civil lawsuit filed last week in federal district court by Abigail Ayers, widow of Jonathan Ayers, raised the question of whether drug agent Billy Shane Harrison was a sworn peace officer at the time he shot Ayers in Toccoa on Sept. 1, 2009.
"On March 16, I was notified by WSB-TV that Ken Vance, the director of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) council, had given an interview in which director Vance said that on Sept. 1, 2009, the day Jonathan Ayers was shot in Toccoa, deputy sheriff Billy Shane Harrison did not have the law enforcement power of arrest," said Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brian Rickman last week.
"Mr. Vance said that there was an issue whereby Billy Shane Harrison did not have the requisite amount of training hours required by POST rules and regulations and Georgia state law."
Harrison, was detached to the Mountain Judicial Circuit Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression (NCIS) team at the time of the incident.
"Contained within the investigative file of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as turned over to the district attorney's office and subsequently released under the Georgia Open Records Act, are various training records and an investigative summary concerning an interview conducted by a GBI agent with a POST investigator during the course of the investigation into the shooting death of Jonathan Ayers.
In that interview, which was a part of the investigative file relied upon by the GBI and the district attorney's office, the POST investigator is reported to have told the GBI in part that Billy Shane Harrison was a certified officer, actively employed, with no investigations.
(11) MISSING COCAINE: CHIEF CALLS IN GBI TO INVESTIGATE ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Gwinnett Daily Post, The (GA)
Copyright: 2010 Post-Citizen Media Inc.
Author: Heather Darenberg, Staff Writer
Missing Cocaine: Chief Calls In Gbi To Investigate Police Department Discovers Drugs Gone From Unit's Safe
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is probing the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of some cocaine stored in a safe in the Gwinnett County Police Department's Narcotics Unit, Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters said Friday.
The undetermined quantity of cocaine was discovered to be missing March 19 during an audit of a safe that stores drugs used in the investigation of drug sales. To ensure a thorough, impartial investigation, Walters said he made the decision to call the GBI.
"This was not a decision which I made lightly," he said during a news conference Friday evening. "However, the Gwinnett County Police Department has always prided itself on its transparency and ethical execution of our duties. The results of this investigation will allow us to continue that proud tradition."
Since it was discovered that the cocaine was missing, other things have been found that have hindered the ability to know how much cocaine should have been in the safe, Walters said. He said he could not comment further.
(12) SMUGGLERS' BARBED WIRE TRAPS TARGET U.S. AGENTS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 2010
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2010 El Paso Times
Author: Daniel Borunda
EL PASO -- Drug smugglers have apparently set "booby traps" for U.S. Border Patrol agents on roads along the border near Deming, agency officials said Monday.
The devices consist of barbed wire stretched like clotheslines across trails used by agents on all-terrain vehicles. The lines, which are difficult to spot, are about four feet off the ground and appear to be intended to knock a rider off the ATV.
There have been no known injuries.
It isn't the first time such a tactic has been used by smugglers in the desolate desert south of Deming and west of El Paso.
Two years ago, a rancher informed the Border Patrol of two wires found stretched along a dirt road in a similar fashion. At that time, officials said it appeared the lines were targeting agents who frequently patrolled on ATVs.
Cannabis & Hemp-
COMMENTS: ( Top )
All things must pass, but it is difficult to wrap your head around
the end of cannabis prohibition, even, or perhaps especially, when
one has invested their lives in the cause, community and culture.
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.
All things must pass, but it is difficult to wrap your head around the end of cannabis prohibition, even, or perhaps especially, when one has invested their lives in the cause, community and culture. The future's uncertain and the end is always near.
(13) PREPARING FOR THE END OF THE MARIJUANA BOOM ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Apr 2010
Source: Redwood Times (Garberville, CA)
Contact: http://www.redwoodtimes.com/Writeus Copyright: 2010 MediaNews Group
Author: Mary Anderson
Local musician and KMUD talk show host Anna Hamilton took center stage at the Mateel Community Center on Tuesday night for the first public community discussion of the potential impacts of marijuana legalization on the community.
Hamilton was assisted by Charley Custer and Liz Davidson of CLMP and Hum CPR, local blogger and attorney Eric Kirk, California NORML representative Ellen Komp, and others who media were asked not to name or photograph when Hamilton laid down the ground rules for the evening. In addition to the Redwood Times, media present included KMUD, The Independent, Times-Standard, KHSU, The Associated Press and the South Fork High School Broadcast Journalism class.
Among those in the audience not minding being named were Supervisor Mark Lovelace, John Sappler of the County Office of Education, Ahn Fielding of College of the Redwoods, DA candidate Kathleen Bryson, Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson, Rob Aberman representing DA candidate Paul Hagen, and Democracy Unlimited director David Cobb.
The forum was organized into "stakeholder" groups at separate conference tables. Hamilton called it a "classroom" format. People were asked to self-identify themselves as property owners, 215 permit holders, renters, workers, government, economic development, nonprofit organizations, business owners, the arts, and growers. The participants at each table were instructed to have a discussion and fill out a questionnaire.
Hamilton began with her own agenda, which she said, is "to establish that the economy of black market marijuana is the biggest economic force in our region" and affects every aspect of local society. She said her desired result was that the stakeholder groups form a coalition of "mutual interests" and devise strategies for survival after the collapse of the marijuana bubble economy, which she predicted would be the greatest catastrophe in the history of the area.
She also made the point that although there are "greedy growers," marijuana cultivation has crossed all social and cultural lines.
Hamilton said she thought between 15,000 and 30,000 people in Humboldt County would be displaced by the legalization of marijuana.
"We need a regional economic impact analysis," Hamilton said. How and who would conduct such an analysis was not addressed.
(14) CANNABIS COUNTRY? ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 1 Apr 2010
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson
Mendocino County's economic future may rest with a marijuana-fueled version of Wine Country, complete with tasting rooms, bud boutiques and pot-garden tourism.
"It's the only thing we have that brings money into the county," said Mendocino County Supervisor John Pinches, who believes that marijuana accounts for at least half of the county economy.
Estimates of the value of the county's pot crop range from $1.2 billion to $4.4 billion. In comparison, the county's total taxable retail sales were $1.3 billion in 2007, according to the Center for Economic Development at CSU Chico.
Pinches is one of many in the county who believe now is the time to start planning on how to capitalize on Mendocino's famous crop, should it become legal.
Local marijuana proponents and opponents alike widely believe legalization is inevitable, that regulation of the plant will be crucial to keeping it out of the hands of children and that taxation could boost county coffers and help offset the criminal and societal costs of making pot more widely available.
A measure that has qualified for the statewide ballot in November would make it legal for anyone over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it for personal use. Commercial operations would require government approval. It also would authorize local governments to regulate and tax pot, which remains a primarily underground economy despite being legal for medicinal use.
A Field Poll conducted in 2009 indicated 56 percent of Californians favor legalization. But marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, so it's unclear how passage of the measure would play out.
Nevertheless, the initiative has sparked speculation and debate over its possible effects. Some pot growers fear legalization will cause a precipitous drop in pot prices, while others see new business opportunities for counties that have a head start on name recognition.
(15) VA DOCTORS PROHIBITED FROM PRESCRIBING MEDICAL POT ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 31 Mar 2010
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2010 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Sue Major Holmes, Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-When Paul Culkin came home to New Mexico after serving with an Army bomb squad in Iraq, he tried counseling and medications offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs to cope with his post traumatic stress disorder.
Nothing worked very well. Then he found a new alternative: marijuana.
New Mexico is the only state that explicitly allows people with PTSD to smoke pot under its medical marijuana law-an issue that is getting attention around the country at a time when traumatized vets are coming home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in large numbers.
New Mexico's medical marijuana law has created a conundrum for the Veterans Affairs, which does not allow its doctors to prescribe pot because the drug is illegal in the eyes of the federal government. So, patients like Culkin must seek out an endorsement from a private doctor.
PTSD accounts for more patients than any other of the state's 16 eligible debilitating conditions approved for medical marijuana treatment.
Culkin wishes the VA could provide it.
"Oh my God, it would be so helpful," said Culkin, 30, who heads the New Mexico Medical Marijuana Patients Group formed last December as a support and education group.
If the VA handled all needs-including medical cannabis-care for veterans would improve, he said, because the doctor would know everything about the patient.
"If these guys fought the hardest they could, why not give them the best medicine, or an alternative medicine you can?" Culkin said.
(16) APRIL SHOWERS BRING HEMP FLOWERS ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 31 Mar 2010
Source: Daily O'Collegian (OK State U, OK Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Oklahoma State University
Author: Scott D'Amico
Tomorrow, the calendar turns to April, which just happens to be the same month for American's most celebrated underground holiday, 4/20.
On April 20th, any stoner worth his weight in weed will get high, and those who went before them will fondly recall the days of their stoner glory.
The holiday represents a unified act of civil disobedience.
But, it doesn't always have to.
Our country's attitude toward marijuana would be humorously absurd if it were fictitious.
Unfortunately, it's horribly sad.
Along with other drugs like LSD, ecstasy and heroin, the Controlled Substances Act considers marijuana a Schedule I substance. Despite what fourteen other states have concluded, the federal government finds pot "as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision."
Heck, even Fox News doesn't believe that. In fact, earlier this month, the most fair and balanced Web site in news published a story on its health blog that trumpeted the role cannabinoids played inside and outside the body in pain reduction.
"As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find its proper place in the home medicine chest," the story concluded.
Nevertheless, for recreational and some medicinal users, the consequences of getting caught with pot can range from a ticket to a felony.
For those in college, a marijuana arrest can be even more damaging.
Take Oklahoma for example.
There's little doubt the legalization camp will continue to grow.
Politically, there may never be a better time to legalize.
The Democrats political fortunes in November are already cashed, so why not buck the American public again?
The party could help end the senseless assault on a fairly benign drug, and simultaneously stimulate the economy by taxing it.
In reality, decriminalization or legalization federally this year is probably just a pipe dream. But within the next decade, celebrating 4/20 openly won't be.
COMMENTS: ( Top )
The Wall Street Journal this week ran a piece on more Mexican
killings, this time occurring on a prominent University campus in
Mexico City. Two men killed turned out not to be drug traffickers
(as the government first alleged) but instead were two graduate
students caught in the crossfire. "The usual practice is to call
everybody who ends up getting killed in shootouts with security
forces 'gang members.'", said human rights investigator Jose Miguel
Vivanco. "The war is conducted with virtual carte blanche... We're
talking about an army that's not accountable for its actions."
Good days ahead! The UK Economist magazine relayed themes of drug
war optimism from government on matters Mexican: "Mr Calderon is now
trying to broaden his strategy." Broaden it - with more of the same.
"All of this will require far greater teamwork with the United
States," chirps the Economist. Legalization? Don't mention it!
An excellent editorial in a British Columbia paper last week on the
price of prohibition discussed the B.C. Urban Health Research
Initiative report release earlier. "The report itself does not
suggest legalization and control of illegal drugs, but we don't see
any other logical solution. The U.S. war on drugs has resulted in
incredible incarceration rates. But drugs are an escape and those
rates (and costs) continue to climb. Wouldn't it be better for all
if the "escapees" were paying taxes and crimes of violence
Why is government so hell-bent on jailing people for pot? One reason
not talked about much or even admitted: busting people is big money.
In the tiny B.C. town of Chilliwack, fines for pot exceeded $760,000
last year. "The City of Chilliwack may not be making money off of
marijuana," said Chilliwack Times reporter Tyler Olsen. Oh no,
government doesn't make a cent from pot laws - except when they do.
The Wall Street Journal this week ran a piece on more Mexican killings, this time occurring on a prominent University campus in Mexico City. Two men killed turned out not to be drug traffickers (as the government first alleged) but instead were two graduate students caught in the crossfire. "The usual practice is to call everybody who ends up getting killed in shootouts with security forces 'gang members.'", said human rights investigator Jose Miguel Vivanco. "The war is conducted with virtual carte blanche... We're talking about an army that's not accountable for its actions."
Good days ahead! The UK Economist magazine relayed themes of drug war optimism from government on matters Mexican: "Mr Calderon is now trying to broaden his strategy." Broaden it - with more of the same. "All of this will require far greater teamwork with the United States," chirps the Economist. Legalization? Don't mention it!
An excellent editorial in a British Columbia paper last week on the price of prohibition discussed the B.C. Urban Health Research Initiative report release earlier. "The report itself does not suggest legalization and control of illegal drugs, but we don't see any other logical solution. The U.S. war on drugs has resulted in incredible incarceration rates. But drugs are an escape and those rates (and costs) continue to climb. Wouldn't it be better for all if the "escapees" were paying taxes and crimes of violence diminished?"
Why is government so hell-bent on jailing people for pot? One reason not talked about much or even admitted: busting people is big money. In the tiny B.C. town of Chilliwack, fines for pot exceeded $760,000 last year. "The City of Chilliwack may not be making money off of marijuana," said Chilliwack Times reporter Tyler Olsen. Oh no, government doesn't make a cent from pot laws - except when they do.
(17) KILLINGS TAKE DRUG WAR TO MEXICO ELITE ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Nicholas Casey
Student Deaths at Prestigious School Lead Wealthy to Criticize Military Tactics; Victims 'Were the Hope for Our Future'
MEXICO CITY-When shooting broke out between army soldiers and drug traffickers at Mexico's most prestigious university on March 19, two people were left dead and an entire campus was in shock. The bodies, authorities said, belonged to two hit men.
It is unclear whose weapons killed the men. According to the university, Mr. Mercado's injuries appeared to have been caused by a grenade. Grenades aren't typically used by the military in confrontations but are often used by drug cartels. Mr. Arredondo appears to have died of bullet wounds. Since President Calderon took office in late 2006, more than 18,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. The government says some 90% of victims are cartel members killed by rival drug gangs, and that the rest of the victims are mostly police and army officials. It says very few innocent civilians have been killed.
Many of these killings have occurred in poor and lawless corners of Mexico, where witnesses have less leverage to speak out, say human-rights advocates. "The usual practice is to call everybody who ends up getting killed in shootouts with security forces 'gang members.' Most of them are. Some of them are not," says Jose Miguel Vivanco, who directs investigations in Latin America for advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
Mr. Vivanco points to the Monterrey Tech incident as further evidence of the lack of accountability in Mexico's army.Victims of military abuse have few avenues to ensure their cases are fairly heard, because human rights complaints are handled by military tribunals with little incentive to convict, says Jose Miguel Vivanco, who directs investigations in Latin America for advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
After a request by Mr. Vivanco's office, the military provided only one successful conviction in a human-rights case in these tribunals. Military officials didn't respond to a written request on this case, or other convictions.
"The war is conducted with virtual carte blanche," said Mr. Vivanco. "We're talking about an army that's not accountable for its actions." The two families in Monterrey remain in grief, seeking answers for what occurred. Mr. Arredondo's cousin says he talked to his deceased cousin a week and a half before the incident. Mr. Arredondo was going to graduate in May, with a doctorate at age 24, recalls his cousin, Juan Carlos Arredondo, who is acting a spokesman for the family. "With all this killing in the drug war, it was these kinds of people we needed most-they were the hope for our future."
(18) MEXICO, THE UNITED STATES AND DRUG GANGS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2010
Source: Economist, The (UK)
Copyright: 2010 The Economist Newspaper Limited
Turning to the Gringos for Help
As Drug-Related Violence Continues to Rise, Mexican and American Officials Unveil Plans for Unprecedented Security CO-Operation. but Will They Work?
Faced with such a grim panorama, this week Mrs Clinton returned to Mexico City, accompanied by the entire American national-security team. She reiterated many of the same arguments. But this time both sides wanted more than soothing rhetoric.
After three years of throwing some 50,000 troops against the drug gangs, Mr Calderon is now trying to broaden his strategy. In tandem with American officials, his government has announced a new plan to fight organised crime. This will be enacted in pilot programmes in Juarez and Tijuana, the two biggest border cities. It includes customised attempts to dismantle each gang through intelligence; spending on social development in violent areas; and a promise to speed up a glacial effort to overhaul police forces and the courts.
All of this will require far greater teamwork with the United States. American officials say that the new plan calls for more intelligence sharing, with "fusion centres" where American agents are embedded with Mexican analysts. American police will step up training and vetting of their counterparts. To try to prevent security worries clogging cross-border trade, American customs officials may be posted throughout Mexico. "Secure corridors" would be set up where goods could be tracked to the border. Mrs Clinton announced that the Merida Initiative, a $1.3 billion anti-drug aid effort for Mexico involving hardware and training, will be followed by $331m for social programmes and to strengthen the courts.
The new strategy looks more promising, but as always success will depend on implementation. Polls suggest that Mexicans' previous support for Mr Calderon's crusade against the drug gangs is wearing thin. In one recent poll only 21% of respondents said that it had made the country safer, whereas half thought it had heightened the danger. Mr Calderon's term ends in 2012, and his successor may not be equally committed to vanquishing organised crime. The new long-term plan will have to show some short-term results.
(19) COSTS OF WAR ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 26 Mar 2010
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 North Shore News
It is tempting to dismiss news of another targeted shooting somewhere in the Lower Mainland as some perversion of Darwinism that doesn't need to affect us. The phrase "one less gang-banger" has been heard in this newsroom more than once in the last couple of years.
A report released this week by UBC's Urban Health Research Initiative argues a direct correlation between the increase in drug-related violence and Canada's commitment to a U.S.-style "war on drugs."
The authors of the report looked at international research and found that "87 per cent of the studies linked strict drug-law enforcement to increasing levels of drug-market violence."
The report itself does not suggest legalization and control of illegal drugs, but we don't see any other logical solution. The U.S. war on drugs has resulted in incredible incarceration rates. But drugs are an escape and those rates (and costs) continue to climb.
Wouldn't it be better for all if the "escapees" were paying taxes and crimes of violence diminished?
(20) POT FINES WORTH $763,080 TO CITY ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 2010
Source: Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Chilliwack Times
Author: Tyler Olsen
The City of Chilliwack may not be making money off of marijuana, but its five-year-old fine and fee scheme has stemmed the costs associated with pot grow-ops.
The city has collected three-quarters of a million dollars in fees and fines since it introduced an anti-marijuana-growing bylaw in 2004.
The bylaw was called the toughest such legislation when it was introduced in 2004. Chilliwack had become a hub for British Columbia's marijuana industry and the city was finding that many landlords were not taking the steps necessary to protect their properties from a growing scourge.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
AFGHANISTAN: THE WORLD'S NUMBER ONE NARCO-STATE? ( Top )
By Alfred W. McCoy, Tomdispatch.com
In ways that have escaped most observers, the Obama administration is now trapped in an endless cycle of drugs and death in Afghanistan from which there is neither an easy end nor an obvious exit.
U.S.-MEXICO 'WAR ON DRUGS' A FAILURE ( Top )
By Charles Bowden, Special to CNN
( Top )
By Chris Bennett
THE $250,000 JOINT ( Top )
By Anthony Papa, AlterNet
In 1992 Anthony Williams, now known as Amir Varick Amma, was sentenced to 25 years to life for a non-violent drug offense under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
LET'S END THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
Whether it's music, activism or daily life, the one ideal to which I have always aspired is constant challenge -- taking risks, stepping out of my comfort zone, exploring new ideas.
ETHAN NADELMANN OF DPA SUPPORTS CA INITIATIVE TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA ( Top )
Fox News Channel Debate
DEA CONTINUES TRYING TO JUSTIFY MARIJUANA PROHIBITION ( Top )
By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director
Again, next time you hear or read about law enforcement or federal anti-drug agencies employing the claim "We don't make the laws, we only enforce them," please reference the below totally biased, paranoid, inaccurate and self-serving example from the Drug Enforcement Administration to counter such claims.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 04/04/10 - Jerry Epstein
Jerry Epstein of Drug Policy Forum of Texas on why the drug war continues, Extract from Bill Moyers "Journal" + Russians bring out their dead.
Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/04/10 - Scott Bullock
Scott Bullock of Justice Institute on "Policing for Profit", Allison Holcom of ACLU, ABC interview of drug czar Gil, BBC report on heroin injection in Vancouver
NEW MARIJUANA POLICY REPORT RELEASED ( Top )
MPP's newest Marijuana Policy Report is now available to view online for free! Get the inside information on the latest advances in marijuana policy reform by downloading the report.
A HUMAN LOOK AT ADDICTION ( Top )
Gabor Mate M.D. is the author of the bestselling books Scattered Minds, When the Body Says No and now In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts - Close Encounters With Addiction
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
APPLY FOR A FELLOWSHIP ( Top )
The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest marijuana policy reform organization, has an opening for a full-time, paid fellow to assist its Membership and Events & Outreach departments.
The fellowship begins in mid-May, pays $9 per hour, and requires a minimum four-month commitment.
For more details, follow the link below.
JOB OPPORTUNITIES AT THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE ( Top )
* National Organizing and Field Director - New York, NY
* State Director - Sante Fe, NM
* Library Intern - New York, NY
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
IN EL PASO, WE LIVE THE DRUG WAR ( Top )
By Beto O'Rourke
Mary O'Grady's March 22 Americas column "The War on Drugs Is Doomed" is one of the best pieces ever written on the connection between U.S. drug policy and drug violence in Mexico. I just hope it can inform public policy discussions.
I am on the City Council of El Paso, Texas, across the border from Ciudad Juarez, where more than 5,000 people have been killed since President Calderon was elected. We are living the drug war, and it has been disastrous for our community.
In addition to bearing witness to the horrific killings of men, women and children in our sister city, it has become very clear to us that the failure of Juarez portends the failure of El Paso.
Juarenses spend more than $1.4 billion in our economy every year; more than $51 billion in U.S./Mexico trade passes through El Paso/Juarez ports of entry annually (almost 20% of trade between the two countries); Juarez economic activity is responsible for 60,000 jobs in El Paso; and, as you might imagine, family, business and other relationships extend over the border and are the basis of much of the economic and cultural success that we enjoy. It is clearly in our interest to find a solution to this drug violence, and it is clear that central to that solution is acknowledging the role of drug consumption and drug prohibition in the U.S.
Ms. O'Grady has done an outstanding job through her columns in educating the public on the connection between drug consumption, drug prohibition and drug violence. Communities like ours are dependent on a better understanding and eventual action by our national elected leaders.
Beto O'Rourke El Paso City Council District 8 El Paso, Texas
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
He Wants To Be Starting Something ( Top )
By Radley Balko
Prince George's County, Maryland Sheriff Michael Jackson formally announced his candidacy for county executive this week. I wrote about Jackson's political ambitions last October ( http://reason.com/archives/2009/10/12/failing-his-way-to-higher-offi ). Jackson is the sheriff who oversaw the violent botched drug raid on Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo, and while he has apologized to the mayor for wrongly raiding him, Jackson has refused to discipline any of the officers involved (in fact, he has praised them), and said if his department had to do the raid over again, he wouldn't change a thing. Jackson is also trying to delay the release of his department's internal investigation of the raid until after the election.
Jackson's nothing if not consistent. Last September, in a lawsuit stemming from another botched raid, a federal jury found that the protocols governing police raids in Jackson's department are unconstitutional. A year after that raid, Jackson's deputies again raided the wrong home, and this time - as they did with Calvo - they killed the innocent family's pet. Again, no officers were disciplined. And the department didn't change any of its rules or procedures.
Earlier this month, one of Jackson's deputies was arrested by Prince George's County police for suspected drunken driving. The deputy failed a roadside sobriety test, but wasn't given a blood or alcohol test, nor was he criminally charged. Instead, he was turned over to Jackson's department for an internal affairs investigation. Three weeks later, the deputy remains on the job, and Jackson won't comment about the status of the investigation.
In announcing his candidacy this week Jackson touted his "executive-level experience." I guess it's true that he does have that experience. It's what he's done with it that's the problem.
When asked by the Washington Post about the incidents above, Jackson replied, "How would it look for me, the leader of an agency, to not give my people the benefit of the doubt?"
Radley Balko is a senior editor for Reason magazine. For additional information and to view his blog, please visit his website, http://www.theagitator.com/ - where this piece first appeared.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"I would rather not be a king than to forfeit my liberty." - Phaedrus
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