This Just In
(1)Physicians Group Urges Easing Of Ban On Medical Marijuana
(2)Steves, Aclu Join Forces For Pot Law Reform
(3)Texas' Peyote Hunters Struggle To Find A Vanishing, Holy Crop
(4)OPED: Hell-Bent On Shutting Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Hot Off The 'Net
-Mexican Cop, Now In El Paso Hospital, As A Marked Man / Bill Conroy
-Making Pot Legal: We Can Do It -- Here's How / By Paul Armentano
-Drug Truth Network
-Plans To Reclassify Cannabis Obscure Real Debate / By Steve Rolles
-Why Is Marijuana Illegal? / Marijuana Policy Posse
-Students Lobby For A Sensible Drug Policy / By Tara Lyons
-Blogging Heads

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 15 Feb 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Referenced: The ACP position paper

It Calls on the Government to Drop Pot's Shared Classification With Drugs Such As Heroin and LSD That Are Considered to Have No Medicinal Value.

A large and respected association of physicians is calling on the federal government to ease its strict ban on marijuana as medicine and hasten research into the drug's therapeutic uses.

The American College of Physicians, the nation's largest organization of doctors of internal medicine, with 124,000 members, contends that the long and rancorous debate over marijuana legalization has obscured good science that has demonstrated the benefits and medicinal promise of cannabis.

In a 13-page position paper approved by the college's governing board of regents and posted Thursday on the group's website, the group calls on the government to drop marijuana from Schedule I, a classification it shares with illegal drugs such as heroin and LSD that are considered to have no medicinal value and a high likelihood of abuse.

The declaration could put new pressure on Washington lawmakers and government regulators who for decades have rejected attempts to reclassify marijuana.


The American College of Physicians' position paper calls for protection of both doctors and patients from criminal and civil penalties in states that have adopted medical-marijuana laws.

"We felt the time had come to speak up about this," said Dr. David Dale, the group's president. "We'd like to clear up the uncertainty and anxiety of patients and physicians over this drug."

Medical-marijuana advocates embraced the position paper as a watershed event that could help turn the battle in their favor.


In the 12 years since California voters approved the nation's first- ever medical marijuana law, several medical organizations -- including the American Nurses Assn. and the American Public Health Assn. -- have urged Congress to make cannabis a legal medicine.

But the ACP is second in size only to the American Medical Assn., which has about 240,000 members.

The AMA has urged research into medical marijuana but opposes dropping it from Schedule I. Backers of the ACP's position expressed hope that it could help nudge the AMA to adopt a similar stance.

"This could be a sea change," said Dr. Abraham L. Halpern, a professor emeritus at New York Medical College.

Halpern said he intends to petition the AMA to endorse rescheduling marijuana and to push for changes in federal regulations that would prevent federal anti-drug agencies -- the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse -- from having virtual veto power over cannabis research.

The ACP position paper urges the use of non-smoked forms of cannabis as well as further research to identify the illnesses best treated with cannabis and the proper dosages for specific conditions.

It called for further research into cannabis as a pain reliever for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and as an aid in treatment of neurological and movement disorders such as spasticity, pain and tremor in patients with multiple sclerosis, spinal-cord injuries and other trauma.




Pubdate: Thu, 14 Feb 2008
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Kathy Mulady

TV Show to Call for Serious Talk on Issue

Travel guru Rick Steves wants America to take a cue from Europe and start talking seriously about marijuana.

Too many lives, according to Steves, are ruined by criminal penalties associated with pot possession, and too much law enforcement and too many court resources are tied up focusing on cannabis as a legal problem instead of a health issue.

Steves, who built his Edmonds travel business into a nationally known television show with travel books and tours, is now taking his marijuana message to the masses, too.

Wednesday, together with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Steves introduced a half-hour infomercial-style program he hosts called "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation." The program is available on Comcast on Demand, and promoters hope it will soon debut on local television stations.

Steves is a board member for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and has spoken openly in support of decriminalizing marijuana for five years, including during Seattle's annual Hempfest.

"Our government's war on drugs sounds very tough and results-driven, but all it really succeeds at is being enormously expensive, tearing families apart and treating nonconformists as criminals," said Steves. He compared marijuana laws to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and urged differentiating between soft and hard drugs.


Nationally, $7.5 billion is spent annually for marijuana law enforcement, with 830,000 arrested each year, according to ACLU research. In Washington, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor and carries a minimum sentence of one day in jail, and a $250 fine for the first offense.




Pubdate: Thu, 14 Feb 2008
Source: Dallas Observer (TX)
Copyright: 2008 Village Voice Media
Author: Russell Cobb

Harvesting Peyote Is Legal for Only Three People, and All of Them Live in Texas

Mauro Morales picks his way through mesquite trees and prickly pear cacti. The 65-year-old cautiously steps around a thicket of tasajillo, or rattail cactus, just down the road from his small ranch near Rio Grande City. Tasajillo thorns stick you like a fish hook, he says. Then there's the cola seca--the rattlesnake--another job hazard.


Morales almost never utters the word "peyote." For him, the small green-gray cactus is a sacrament with miraculous healing powers, hence his word for it: medicine.

What makes peyote different from just about any other cactus in the world is that it naturally produces mescaline, a psychedelic alkaloid that can induce hallucinations lasting for days. It was mescaline that opened what Aldous Huxley called "the doors of perception" to "the divine source of all existence."

Before LSD, before Ecstasy, there was peyote.

Peyote and mescaline are both classified by the federal government as Schedule I Controlled Substances. This puts them in the same legal category as crack and heroin, drugs that, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, have "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."

Much recent scientific research contradicts the DEA's verdict on peyote. There is little evidence of any adverse long-term effects on physical health and virtually no evidence that it is addictive.

Still, harvesting and selling peyote is illegal for all but three people in the entire country. And those three people happen to be located in Texas, operating in a swath of South Texas between Rio Grande City and Laredo.


According to James Botsford, an attorney who has been defending peyote use by Indians for decades, there's a clear distinction between Indian and non-Indian peyote users. The law, he says, protects Native American Church members who can prove they have one grandparent from a federally recognized tribe.


Mauro Morales looks a little worried when he talks about Mexican peyote. He knows that there's much more medicine on the other side of the border, but he's not crossing the river to seek it out. Even though he's a licensed dealer, transporting the stuff across the border would land him in jail. And he's skeptical of the Mexican police.

"You don't want to get caught with medicine over there," he says. "In Mexico, you're guilty until proven innocent. Here, you're innocent until proven guilty."




Pubdate: Thu, 14 Feb 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Authors: Betty T. Yee, Carole Migden

This will be a make-or-break year for medical marijuana dispensaries - if they can survive the tactics employed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which recently added busting dispensaries' landlords to its repertoire of raids and fear. As urged by Senate Joint Resolution 20 by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, the federal government needs to back off and respect state compassionate use laws that authorize a network of responsible, law abiding and tax-paying medical marijuana providers.


The DEA believes these dispensaries are illegal drug dealers facilitating recreational drug use. However, most of the dispensary operators who have contacted the State Board of Equalization for information about how to obtain seller's permits for collecting and remitting sales taxes are not fugitives, but responsible persons willing to abide by the laws to conduct their businesses.

For example, the Compassion Center for Alameda County was licensed by Alameda County. It paid $3 million in sales taxes prior to being shut down by the DEA at the end of October. The center had employed about 50 workers who earned a living wage and were provided health benefits, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation coverage. Take another example. Nature's Medicinal in Bakersfield had been licensed by Kern County. It paid almost $1 million in taxes until its closure in 2007, including $203,000 in federal and state income taxes, $365,000 in payroll taxes and $427,000 in sales taxes. Nature's had 25 employees: eight were indicted, and the rest were left unemployed and without health insurance after the raid.


We applaud the leadership of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., in his oversight of the DEA's property forfeiture threats. Recognizing the conflict between federal and state law, we will continue to exercise our responsibilities as state policymakers to the fullest extent and uphold the will of California voters to regulate the provision and availability of medical marijuana for those in need. Meanwhile the Legislature should approve SJR20, urging the federal government to honor California law and respect state- sanctioned dispensaries so medical marijuana patients can treat their pain, pay their taxes, and live in peace.




Concern about the safety of pharmaceutical drugs, which is perfectly legitimate, may veer toward hysteria now that the trend has a tragic celebrity death involved. And the press probably still won't understand how fear tactics make the situation worse, not better. The New York Times editorial page showed an example of the same old stupid reporting (and thinking) on drugs, suggesting that less funding for failed anti-drug programs is somehow a bad thing.

On the other hand, an Idaho newspaper did an excellent job challenging the current federal hype about drug tests for students. And my last story this week isn't really significant, except that it features perhaps the most ill-considered, but amusing, name I've every heard for an anti-drug group.


Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Elizabeth Day, in New York

Once it was cocaine, speed or heroin, but now the fashion is for legal pills, washed down by spirits. Last week's news that actor Heath Ledger, right, died from an overdose of prescription tablets shed light on a startling new trend - misuse of over-the-counter pills now kills more Americans than illegal drugs. Elizabeth Day in New York

Alex is a man who prides himself on sticking to routine. He likes to start the day with a large cappuccino from Starbucks and to end it with a handful of anti-depressants washed down with vodka. 'It's my treat after coming home from work,' he says. 'I guess it just chills me out a little.' In many ways Alex, 31, is a typical well-heeled young New Yorker. He works in finance, holidays in the Hamptons and enjoys partying at the sort of exclusive nightclubs where having your name on the guest list is a prerequisite to entry. He also likes to get high on prescription drugs.

Tonight he is celebrating a friend's birthday at Marquee, one of the city's hippest nightspots. The main bar, lined with leather banquettes, is cast in a shadowy half-light. In the upstairs lavatory there is a small framed sign on the back of the door reminding guests the use of illegal drugs will not be permitted.

But Alex would not consider himself a drug abuser. For him, those small white Xanax tablets on his bathroom shelves are simply a recreational accompaniment to the $15 Grey Goose vodka martini he has just been served. And, what's more, they're entirely legal.




Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company

If we have learned one thing in the protracted war on drugs, it is that reining in illicit drug trafficking will require more than fighting cartels south of the border. Nothing can be achieved unless this country curbs its own demand for illegal narcotics.

The Bush administration, which offers regular lectures on the superior logic of the free market, clearly doesn't get this equation of supply and demand. Last October, Washington announced a new $1.4 billion assistance package for Mexico and Central America to combat the drug trade. Then the White House unveiled its 2009 budget, which calls for a 1.5 percent cut in spending on domestic drug prevention and treatment programs.

The statistics on drug abuse for this country are at best mixed. The share of teenagers who said they had tried illicit drugs within a year has fallen sharply since 2000, according to surveys by researchers at the University of Michigan. The percentage of students in 8th, 10th or 12th grades who tried methamphetamine declined by more than half over the same period, while cocaine abuse declined by almost a quarter among 8th graders and 10th graders.

Still, teenage abuse of other narcotics, like prescription drugs, is growing. So is drug abuse among adults. The latest National Drug Threat Assessment reports that many more Americans over 18 are trying everything from heroin to marijuana to methamphetamine.

Yet the White House's budget proposal for 2009 cuts the funding for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse to $4.9 billion. The budget for prevention programs -- like the drug-free schools grants - -- was cut by 14.2 percent to just above $1.5 billion. After accounting for inflation, spending on prevention has fallen every year since 2002.




Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Source: Times-News, The (ID)
Copyright: 2008 Magic Valley Newspapers
Author: Blair Koch

What do the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Association for Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers have in common?

Each organization opposes the random drug testing of middle and highschool students.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its stance opposing random student drug testing twice in 2007. In March the AAP said, "There is little evidence of the effectiveness of school-based drug testing." In December the AAP concluded, "Physicians should not support drug testing in schools . It has not yet been established that drug testing does not cause harm."

Nevertheless, random drug-testing programs have been touted at all levels of community and government as a sure-fire way to deter kids from using drugs.

According to the Idaho State Department of Education, during the 2006-07 school year, 36 of the state's 115 public school districts spent $73,812 on random testing as part of their drug-prevention and education curricula. Another 33 districts did random testing through programs such as Idaho Drug Free Youth.

Support for the programs came from the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, funded in part by $5.5 million in state tobacco and lottery tax revenue and $1.68 million in federal grants.

"For school districts to access these funds, they must design a comprehensive substance abuse and violence prevention program that meets the principles of effectiveness and must be approved by the State Department of Education," said Melissa McGrath, a department spokeswoman. "It is not allowable to implement a random drug-testing program in isolation. It must be part of a much broader prevention strategy."

Not only are researchers questioning the effectiveness of student drug testing, but civil libertarians also question its fairness.

"We are opposed to random drug testing. It is unnecessary, unfair and does not respect student privacy rights," said Jack VanValkenburgh, executive director of the Idaho American Civil Liberties Union. "Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, students, in order to participate in sports and other activities, must prove they are innocent."




Pubdate: Fri, 08 Feb 2008
Source: Garden Island (Lihue, HI)
Copyright: 2008 Kauai Publishing Co.
Author: Dennis Fujimoto

The public was the beneficiary of a seminar for educators Wednesday night.

Gary Shimabukuro of Laulima Hawai'i was scheduled to do a day-long seminar for Kaua'i's educators yesterday, but on Wednesday night, Shimabukuro and a group of professionals in substance abuse opened up the doors of the Kaua'i War Memorial Convention Hall for members of the public.

Theresa Koki, the county's anti-drug coordinator, said the "Got Drugs?" program is a follow up of last year's community drug awareness seminar that was sponsored by the County of Kaua'i and Leadership Kaua'i.

"We are fortunate to once again have the opportunity to bring Gary Shimabukuro back this time with several other notable presenters to further our awareness of the drug-related issues that affect our community daily," Koki said in the evening's program guide.

Koki said that with so much happening in Hawai'i and on Kaua'i, the county pooled community resources to provide materials and other information in support of the special guest speakers who follow the trends and were available to update the public to better understand the current drug situation.




The U.S. Attorney General is continuing his scare tactics on sentencing guideline revisions, but the U.S. Congress apparently isn't buying. In Maryland, a lawmaker tacitly admits that current government efforts at stopping youth drug use aren't working, so he wants to pull another state bureaucracy into the picture, no matter the cost. Overzealous drug enforcement in California leads to a lawsuit; and in Ohio, even a police chief is complaining about an overzealous drug investigation, one that happened to be directed at an officer in his department.


Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2008
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc

Senate Democrats rejected Attorney General Michael Mukasey's request to roll back sentencing guidelines that would enable thousands of prisoners to seek reductions in sentences for crack-cocaine convictions. Mukasey asked Congress to alter the U.S. Sentencing Commission's directive, effective March 3, that would allow for the reduction requests. The directive could flood courts with requests from thousands of violent criminals, the Justice Department says.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called Mukasey's concerns a "scare tactic." Federal law comes down harder on crack violations than powder-cocaine violations. Kennedy says that amounts to discrimination because more blacks are arrested for crack violations. The Sentencing Commission adopted the harsher sentence in the 1980s in response to a crack epidemic.



Pubdate: Tue, 05 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Times, The (MD)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Times
Author: Laura Schwartzman

ANNAPOLIS -- A Democratic lawmaker wants to drug test all driver's license applicants under 21 and vows to "fight like a tiger" to push the legislation, which he hopes will save lives.

But opponents say the policy is unconstitutional, ineffective and prohibitively expensive.

The legislation, introduced by Delegate Marvin E. Holmes, Jr. of Prince George's County, would require the Motor Vehicle Administration to test the breath and blood of driver's license applicants under 21 for alcohol and controlled substances. A positive test would result in the suspension of driving privileges for six months, although the applicant would be entitled to a hearing.

About 65,000 individuals under 21 applied for driver's licenses in Maryland in 2007, according to the bill's fiscal policy note, which estimates an annual cost increase of at least $945,500 in the first year and more than $1.2 million annually by 2010.



 (11) POT RAID LEADS TO $5M CLAIM  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Pilot
Author: Chris Caesar

Costa Mesa Man Calls Police's Home Entry to Confiscate His Medicinal Marijuana Nothing but 'Armed Robbery.'

A Costa Mesa man has filed a claim for $5 million with the city of Costa Mesa, alleging the city's police department unlawfully arrested him, raided his home and confiscated his medicinal marijuana.

Gregory J. Barnett, 53, filed a claim alleging "false arrest, willful infliction of emotional distress, perjury, making false statements to obtain a search warrant, destruction of property, loss of earnings, theft of property and defamation" stemming from the Aug. 10 search of his home.

He also claims several ounces of marijuana seized by police were neither listed on his property receipt nor returned to him, along with 15 Temazepam pills for Barnett's insomnia that he said went missing from Barnett's home after the raid.

"This is nothing but armed robbery," Barnett said. "Completely unjustifiable."

A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. If the city rejects the claim, Barnett could then sue.

City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow said the case was "without merit," but declined any further comment.




Pubdate: Sat, 09 Feb 2008
Source: Times Recorder (Zanesville, OH)
Copyright: 2008 Times Recorder
Author: Kathy Thompson

COLUMBUS - The city will re-evaulate the termination of former officer Donald Peterson after the U.S. Attorney's Office was granted a motion to dismiss federal drug charges against him and four others.

The charges were dismissed Friday against Peterson, his wife Serritha, Steven Gibson, Gary Moody and Shelly Tyson.

Peterson was fired from the Zanesville Police Department in January after being indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute crack, five counts of selling or distributing morphine, Oxycodone and crack, and one count of conspiracy to distribute crack, morphine, Oxycodone and other controlled substances.

"Don has maintained from day one that he hadn't done anything wrong," said David Thomas, Peterson's attorney. "He deserves to be vindicated."

According to Fred Alverson, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, the reasons behind the dismissal for are not being disclosed at this time and his office can make no comment.

But it leaves Police Chief Eric Lambes furious.

"It appears the FBI and Muskingum County Sheriff's Office may have been over zealous in their attempt to pursue prosecution of a Zanesville Police Officer," Lambes said. "Their actions have damaged the credibility of the police department and the officers who work here."




An interesting decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, that the scent of burnt cannabis is not reasonable grounds for a search. One wonders how this ruling will fit in with the Canadian government's proposed drugged-driving laws.

The Canadian government is doing everything within its power to sabotage their court-ordered medicinal cannabis program, on which the constitutionality of cannabis prohibition depends, and proposing to escalate the war with mandatory minimum sentences.

While several states are fighting the DEA's prohibition of hemp, Canadian farmers and businesses are cashing in on their North American monopoly.

NORML's Paul Armentano made a scholarly case for proposed legislation in New Hampshire that would replace criminal sanctions with civil penalties.

Some predict that the sheer number of medicinal cannabis dispensaries sprouting up in Los Angeles will eventually overwhelm the DEA, but as Andrew Dickson once said, "The last struggles of a great superstition are very frequently the worst."


Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2008
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2008 The StarPhoenix
Author: Matthew Kruchak

The scent of marijuana wafting from an open car window doesn't give an officer grounds to make an arrest and search a vehicle, according to a recent decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

But city police don't believe the verdict will deter them from arresting dope-smoking drivers.

The ruling is centred around the case of Archibald Janvier. He was driving alone in La Loche four years ago when he was pulled over by an RCMP officer. His truck had a broken headlight.

The officer said he approached the vehicle and could smell burnt marijuana from a metre away. Janvier, who now runs a business in Fort McMurray, Alta., was immediately arrested for possession of marijuana based only on the scent of the burnt drug.

The officer then searched the vehicle and found eight grams of marijuana and what was thought to be a list of contacts -- which resulted in the charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

"Until now police have used the smell of marijuana as reasonable grounds to arrest someone for possession of marijuana," said Ronald Piche, Janvier's lawyer. "It always struck me as a little thin frankly. It's frankly a lazy officer's way of giving out a warrant and getting to check a vehicle out and often times finding some evidence."

The case went to trial and the judge found the arrest was a violation of Janvier's charter right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

The scent of marijuana indicated a suspicion that it was smoked but didn't provide reasonable and probable grounds for an arrest or a search, the judge concluded and excluded the evidence. Janvier was declared not guilty.




Pubdate: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2008 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Larry Kusch

Manitoba Continent's Main Source

AS an 18-year-old, Mike Fata weighed 300 pounds and decided to go on a no-fat diet.

It almost killed him.

But while researching essential dietary fats, he got excited about the nutritional benefits of hemp.

Thirteen years later and more than 100 pounds lighter, Fata heads Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, a company with projected sales this year of $6 million and customers as far flung as Europe and Australia.

This month, the company's Hemp Bliss -- an organic hemp beverage and milk substitute that won the best-new-product award at a major U.S. natural products trade show last fall -- will be sold in Sobeys stores. It has become a staple, along with soy-based and rice-based milk alternatives, in local health food stores in the last 10 months.

Hemp Bliss, an organic product sold in three flavours -- original, chocolate and vanilla -- is the latest Manitoba Harvest product to hit North American natural, organic and mainstream grocery stores.

The company also sells hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, hemp seed nut butter and a protein powder that can be used in power shakes.

Besides Sobeys, Manitoba Harvest products are also found in Loblaws stores in Eastern Canada and many Superstores. The company has 31 distributors throughout North America.

An employee at the McPhillips Street Vita Health store, which carries the full line of Manitoba Harvest products, said Monday that sales of the hemp milk have been steady, though hemp seeds are the brand's biggest seller.

"A lot of people can't stand the taste of soy. It's very dry," said the employee, who did not give her name.

Manitoba has become the centre of hemp food production in North America.




Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Author: Shannon Kari, National Post

Lawyer Cites 'Cycle of Ignorance'

It was more than 35 years ago that the LeDain Commission recommended marijuana be decriminalized in Canada.

Attempts to suppress or even control its use were failing, possession laws were enforced on a "selective and discriminatory" basis and its prohibited status invited "exploitation" by criminal elements, concluded the Royal Commission in 1972.

It suggested the government regulate cannabis in the same way as alcohol, which resulted in proposed legislation to decriminalize possession. The bill died on the order paper when a federal election was called in 1974, in the same way that a similar bill died 30 years later.

Today, discussion about reforming the country's marijuana laws is not on the political landscape. If anything, the country is moving in the opposite direction.

The government of Stephen Harper has ruled out any changes to the law, and during a visit to marijuana-friendly Vancouver last week, Liberal leader Stephane Dion said his party is not going to advocate for the end of criminal sanctions for possession.

Another sign that the marijuana lobby has lost political momentum is the recent announcement by Marc Emery that he is giving up his extradition fight. The self-professed "Prince of Pot" is negotiating a plea bargain with U.S. authorities to try to reduce a prison sentence for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet.


"There is a cycle of ignorance that seems impossible to transcend" in any discussion about marijuana, suggested Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto, who has represented chronically ill people in a number of medical marijuana court challenges. "We are either running on the spot or moving backwards," he said.




Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Geo. J. Foster Co.
Author: Paul Armentano

Community Commentary:

As a native New Englander, I've followed New Hampshire's brewing debate over marijuana law enforcement with close interest. As someone who has examined the impact of marijuana laws on human behavior for more than a dozen years, I'm supportive of those who wish to reclassify minor pot offenses from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine.

According to government surveys, an estimated 98 million Americans - -- nearly half the U.S. population -- have smoked marijuana. Clearly, criminal prohibitions outlawing pot possession have done little to curb Americans' desire for, use of or access to this drug. Conversely, enforcing this prohibition has incurred significant fiscal and emotional costs.

In 2006, the last year for which national data is available, law enforcement arrested over 829,000 persons for marijuana violations - the highest annual total ever recorded. Of those arrested, approximately 90 percent were charged with minor marijuana possession only, not trafficking or sale.

Of course, not everyone busted for possessing small amounts of pot receives jail time -- most do not. But that doesn't mean that they don't suffer significant hardships stemming from their arrest. Seldom emphasized penalties associated with a minor marijuana conviction include probation and mandatory drug testing, loss of employment, loss of child custody, removal from subsidized housing, asset forfeiture, loss of federal student aid, loss of voting privileges, loss of adoption rights, and the loss of certain federal welfare benefits such as food stamps. Thousands of Americans suffer such sanctions every day -- at a rate of one person every 38 seconds.

New Hampshire legislators can end this counterproductive practice by moving forward with legislation, House Bill 1623, that would replace existing criminal sanctions with civil penalties, punishable by a fine only.


Paul Armentano

Deputy Director

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Washington, D.C.



Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Source: Los Angeles Business Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Business Journal Associates
Contact: Website: Details: Author: Deborah Crowe, Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

Buzz Killed

Los Angeles has become the unofficial capital of storefront shops that sell marijuana in recent years, and so many have sprouted that no one knows exactly how many exist.

But those freewheeling times are skidding to a halt.

The City Council has imposed a moratorium on any new pot shops and is moving to regulate the existing ones. Users are feeling a chill, too, from a recent court ruling that allows California employers to fire pot smokers -- even if the marijuana is used at home and purchased under state law.

But even worse for marijuana shop owners, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has conducted raids of medical marijuana dispensaries, recently began sending letters to some shop landlords telling them that their property could be confiscated because it is being used for illegal activity, at least under federal law. The DEA has never recognized California's so-called compassionate use legislation and considers marijuana dispensaries as little more than drug dealers.

"It's tough for all of us who have been trying to run a reputable business that helped a lot of sick people get their medicine," said Michael Leavitt, who shut his Canoga Park dispensary last summer.

His landlord had received a letter from the DEA, pointing out that his property could be seized under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000.

"For the price of a postage stamp, they closed me up," said Leavitt, who had never been raided and is himself a patient who uses medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms of several chronic diseases.

Leavitt's former landlord, Miguel Fernandez, said he initially was leery of renting to a pot dispensary, but said Leavitt turned out to be a model tenant.

"I still have not been able to rent his space to someone as good," said Fernandez, adding that it was Leavitt's decision to liquidate his business rather than call the DEA's bluff.




In Canada, reverberations from the ten-year-old recently dropped charges of police drug-squad corruption continue to be felt. By not disclosing evidence in a timely manner to the defense, the government was able to throw the case. "This 'glacial pace'," writes Osgoode Hall Law School professor Alan Young, "is astonishing considering that the officers were not charged with crimes of great forensic complexity. We are talking about alleged acts of thievery, assault and extortion... Our legal system has a dismal track record when it comes to investigating and prosecuting allegations of police illegality and misconduct."

A background piece, "Drug Laws Rooted In Class Control," appeared in the Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada newspaper Daily Gleaner this week. We are constantly told that the anti-opium laws were enacted a century ago, to protect the unwary from unscrupulous snake-oil salesman. But the truth of the matter is that Canada's narcotics laws are rooted in racism and class control. Writes Chris McCormick, St. Thomas University professor of criminology, that "by blaming the Chinese for the opium problem, attention was distracted...The opium laws were a momentous change in criminal law in Canada. The result was the transformation of private drug use into a public problem... In the process the role of the state was preserved as legitimate, the Chinese were vilified as a threat and drugs were demonized as the problem."

Police in the UK town of Lancing last week raided the town's cannabis cafe -- "Britain's most fortified cannabis cafe" -- for the third time. The raid took police fifteen minutes to enter, upon which, "No further arrests were made inside the building and no other cannabis was found." The raid was prompted when patrons of the cafe were found to possess small quantities of cannabis. Millions in the UK claim that cannabis brings them relief for a list of ailments.

And from the UK Observer newspaper this week: the family doctor has "Britain 'hooked on painkillers' according to a government inquiry. "[F]amily doctors are contributing to growing problems associated with these substances by not taking seriously enough requests for help from addicts, and by mismanaging patients with chronic pain." Dr Brian Iddon, a Labour MP and former pharmacist chaired the group, investigated use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and singled out "online pharmacies" which mail out prescription drugs "to anyone logging in and giving a credit-card number."


Pubdate: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Alan Young

Legal Technicalities And Political Failures

When the drug squad corruption case came crashing to the ground last month I was not at all surprised.


Although I do not have much sympathy for these officers, it would be categorically wrong to claim that they "got off on a technicality." Their charges were stayed because of an unreasonable delay largely caused by the failure of the Crown to properly discharge its constitutional obligation to make full and complete disclosure to the accused. Disclosure was provided by way of an instalment plan with 125,000 pages of documents disclosed prior to the preliminary hearing being set, another 80,000 pages while awaiting the preliminary hearing and another 110,000 pages upon completion of the prelim.

It took the Crown close to four years just to show its hand.

Reasonable people may disagree about the value of some of our legal rights, but the right to full disclosure is a no-brainer.


In granting a stay of proceedings in this case, Justice Ian Nordheimer set the length of the delay at 56 months. This "glacial pace" is astonishing considering that the officers were not charged with crimes of great forensic complexity. We are talking about alleged acts of thievery, assault and extortion. The fact that there are multiple defendants who are police officers undoubtedly increases the seriousness of the crimes but it should not necessarily increase the complexity of bringing a fairly simple accusation to trial.

Somehow the process was derailed and some blame the "blue wall" of non-cooperation of fellow officers for slowing down the investigation while others point the finger at the Crown for indifference, or even sabotage.


First, it must not be forgotten that our legal system has a dismal track record when it comes to investigating and prosecuting allegations of police illegality and misconduct.


The police complaints process is even worse - it is full of stonewalls, double-talk, endless delegation, delay and indecision. Few people seem to care that the absence of meaningful review and accountability is like handing over a blank cheque to officers inclined to misconduct.


But in light of our dismal track record, the mere fact that this case ended in a no-decision is a criminal justice disaster because it suggests in the minds of many that the justice system plays favourites with the police being indulged like mischievous children who can do no wrong in the eyes of the parents. As with every other failed prosecution of the police, the collapse of this prosecution can only serve to further erode the perceived legitimacy of the system.


Alan Young is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.



Pubdate: Thu, 14 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Gleaner (CN NK)
Copyright: 2008 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Chris McCormick

We tend to take the law for granted, but sometimes its origins deserve a little thought.

For example, it's something of a puzzle why certain narcotics were seen as dangerous and criminalized in the early 20th century when before 1908, there were few restrictions placed on the sale or consumption of narcotics.


However, research has looked at the role of opium legislation in the context of the government's need to deal with an increasingly difficult labour situation.

Chinese labour constituted both real and symbolic threats within the British Columbia working class, which was itself being de-skilled and unionized.

Relations between management and labour were approaching a crisis situation by the turn of the century, and the government needed a way to channel class conflict and deflect blame.


Third, by blaming the Chinese for the opium problem, attention was distracted from the whites who sold, distributed and used the drug.

The opium laws were a momentous change in criminal law in Canada. The result was the transformation of private drug use into a public problem. The responsibility was put on the heads of Mongolians, in King's terms.

This turned people away from socialism as a solution to labour problems. It also turned them away from seeing the labour crisis as a class issue rather than an ethnic issue.

In the process the role of the state was preserved as legitimate, the Chinese were vilified as a threat and drugs were demonized as the problem.

Did the state intend the crisis to further its legitimation? Probably not.

Did it benefit? Certainly.

Chris McCormick teaches criminology at St. Thomas University. His column on crime and criminal justice appears every second Thursday.



Pubdate: Fri, 08 Feb 2008
Source: Worthing Herald (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Worthing Herald

POLICE have raided Lancing's cannabis cafe for a third time - taking 15 minutes to get in.

In what is thought to be Britain's most fortified cannabis cafe, officers took around a quarter of an hour to gain entry to the building, on a slip road off Freshbrook Road, Lancing, during the raid during the evening of Wednesday, February 6.

The raid took place after two people, a man and a woman, were arrested for possession of cannabis after being spotted leaving the cafe.


"Officers at the scene reported the smell of cannabis burning in the air while they waited for entry and on entering found a burner situated on the premises having been used prior to entry being gained."

No further arrests were made inside the building and no other cannabis was found.

It follows two previous raids on the building, one in July last year, where officers attempted to smash their way into the cafe using a battering ram.

During a second raid in October a tractor was used to pull out a window.

The two people arrested this time received a caution.



Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Observer
Author: Denis Campbell, health correspondent

Inquiry slams mis-prescribing of drugs

Doctors 'ignoring official guidelines'


Dr Brian Iddon, the Labour MP and former chemist who chairs the group, told The Observer: 'Some GPs are addicting people by giving them repeat prescriptions without checking to see how long they've been on the drugs in the first place. They are not stopping patients from getting any more of them after the set amount of time.'

The MPs' investigation into prescription and over-the-counter drugs also claims that family doctors are contributing to growing problems associated with these substances by not taking seriously enough requests for help from addicts, and by mismanaging patients with chronic pain.

Dr Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said it would take on board the MPs' findings, which raised some important concerns about how family doctors treat patients who may be abusing either prescription or shop-bought drugs, or both.


Thousands of online pharmacies now provide potentially lethal drugs to anyone logging in and giving a credit-card number. An 'online consultation' merely asks the customer how old he or she is and how bad their pain is on a scale of one to 10.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Bill Conroy

Presented at the Narcosphere


By Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted February 12, 2008.

Changing public opinion about pot isn't easy. Changing America's anti- pot laws is even harder -- here's a blueprint to get it done.


Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 02/13/08 - Philippe Lucas

Philppe Lucas, Dir of Vancouver Island Compassion Society discusses recent UNODC gathering of NGO representatives + Winston Francis with "Official Government Truth", Doug Mcvay with Drug War Facts & Poppygate Report from Glenn Greenway.

Century of Lies - 02/12/08 - Robert Melameade

Doctor Robert Melameade describes the endocanabinoid system and the ways that cannabis affects the human body + Doug McVay with Drug War Facts about opium in Afghanistan


The government's new review of cannabis classification will not help the situation, writes Steve Rolles


The first video in the Short Cuts Documentary Series that ask the question: why is marijuana illegal? Check it out and see what the experts have to say. And, as always, you can find this video and others on the Marijuana Policy Posse homepage at


by Tara Lyons

Drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. That is the message youth and students from the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) delivered to Members of Parliament on February 4, during their first hugely successful lobby day on Parliament Hill.


Everyone Knows Prohibition Increased Crime. Right?

Mark Kleiman, The Reality-Based Community, UCLA

Glenn Loury, Brown University



It's time to rein in the SWAT teams. Please sign our online petition: "Enough is Enough: Petition to Limit Paramilitary Police Raids in America." A copy will be sent in your name to your US Representative and Senators, your state legislators, your governor, and the president. When you're done, please tell your friends and please spread the word wherever you can.



By John Sajo

Your editorial calling on legislators to reject a reasonable compromise and pass a bill that would allow any employer to fire any medical marijuana patient is misguided.

You cite the fact that 16,000 patients are registered in the medical marijuana program as evidence of abuse. Anti-marijuana forces hoped there would be few patients benefiting from medical marijuana because they don't want to admit that marijuana has a positive side. The reality is that marijuana has proved to be a safer, more effective medicine than many pharmaceutical alternatives. That is why more than 2,600 Oregon doctors have recommended marijuana for their patients.

Additionally, many carefully controlled scientific studies conducted since Oregon voters passed the medical marijuana law have confirmed what the doctors and patients know from experience. Marijuana is safe and effective for some patients when used properly. Marijuana relieves suffering.

Your call to fire medical marijuana patients won't make our workplaces safer. The business interests that want to fire patients have admitted that they can't cite a single example of a workplace accident caused by a medical marijuana patient. Focusing on marijuana and ignoring the risks from workers who are impaired from alcohol, prescription drugs or just plain fatigue is whitewashing the real problem.

What we really need in the workplace is impairment testing. This would help employers identify workers who are dangerous to themselves or others regardless of the reason.

John Sajo Director, Voter Power Southeast Portland

Referenced: Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)


DrugSense recognizes Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (retired) of Frederick, Maryland for his six published letters during January, which brings his total published letters that we know of up to 123. Howard is an Education Specialist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

You may read his published letters at:


Scoring some drugs  ( Top )

So I may be about the last person in America to deal with this, but I've come down with a nasty sore throat and cold, so I decided to go to the Osco and get something for it.

I made sure I went during the hours that the pharmacy is open, 'cause of course I know about all the new rules -- and sure enough, there were signs in the cold medicine aisles about some products not being available out on the shelves.

So I asked the girl behind the counter if there was something she could... recommend, and she said I'd have to talk to the head pharmacist. I waited a few minutes until he returned and told him that I had a serious sore throat progressing into a chest cold and wanted some recommendation.

He led me out to the regular aisles and pointed out some products. "These Chloraseptic lozenges are quite good for sore throat. Also, be sure to get plenty of rest, and drink lots of fluids. You should also gargle in salt water -- that can help. These zinc lozenges can also be quite effective."

"Ah," I said, nodding. "Yes, those are good suggestions. But I was hoping for something to help me with all the symptoms and get some rest. Something like... NyQuil."

He pointed to his right. "Here's some NyQuil right here."

"Yes, but isn't that the... ah... I mean, isn't there something better... you know, with... that ingredient."

He hestitated. "Yes, we have a bottle of the old stuff behind the counter. I'll get you some."

While his assistant took my drivers license and address and signature (he told me he didn't need the urine sample or fingerprints), I had a nice chat with the pharmacist. He knew my dad many years ago and we talked about ailments and building houses. A very nice guy, doing his job in a strange world.

So now I have some of this dangerous old-style NyQuil in my bedroom, and since they have my address, I'm waiting for the smash of my door, and the conspiracy to think about doing something with pseudoephedrine charge.

But I don't care. And I realized something. NyQuil isn't really medicine, at least not by the way that the ONDCP seems to consider medicine. It doesn't cure anything. It's called the Nightime Sniffling Sneezing Coughing Aching Stuffyhead Fever So You Can Rest Medicine but the key thing is that it just relieves symptoms so you can rest (which is a good thing). In other words, it makes you feel better.

That's right, I have a drug in my home that I scored from a pharmacist that I use simply because it makes me feel good.

I must be a criminal.

But I got a good night's sleep last night.

Pete Guither is the author of Drug WarRant - - a weblog at the front lines of the drug war, where this piece was first presented.


"We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it." - William Faulkner

DS Weekly is one of the many free educational services DrugSense offers our members. Watch this feature to learn more about what DrugSense can do for you.


Please utilize the following URLs


Policy and Law Enforcement/Prison content selection and analysis by Stephen Young (, This Just In selection by Richard Lake (, 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.

We wish to thank all our contributors, editors, NewsHawks and letter writing activists. Please help us help reform. Become a NewsHawk See for info on contributing clippings.

NOTICE:  ( Top )

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



Mail in your contribution. Make checks payable to MAP Inc. send your contribution to:

The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. D/B/a DrugSense 14252 Culver Drive #328 Irvine, CA, 92604-0326 (800) 266 5759

RSS DrugSense Weekly current issue this issue

Back Issues: 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010