This Just In
(1)Report Says Pot Potency Is at Highest Level Since '75
(2)In Rio Slum, Armed Militia Replaces Drug Gang's Criminality With Its Own
(3)Soggy Weather Threatens B.C. Pot Crop, Activist Says
(4)Needle Exchange Won't Be 'One-For-One'

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jun 2008
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Marijuana potency increased last year to the highest level in more than 30 years, posing greater health risks to people who may view the drug as harmless, according to a report released today by the White House.

The latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 through 2007. It found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6 percent in 2007, compared with 8.75 percent the previous year.

The 9.6 percent level represents more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983, when it averaged just under 4 percent.

John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for marijuana users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

The White House office attributed the increases in marijuana potency to sophisticated growing techniques that drug traffickers are using at sites in the United States and Canada.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Alexei Barrionuevo

RIO DE JANEIRO -- When several Brazilian journalists decided to go undercover here in May to report on life in one of the hundreds of slums that have sprouted up around Rio, they thought they had chosen carefully.

The slum they picked, Batan, was under the control of a militia that had expelled a drug gang last September. The journalists assumed that a slum under the thumb of a gun-toting militia, which included off-duty policemen, would be safer than one controlled by drug dealers.

They were wrong. And what they lived through has become a public scandal that has focused attention on the growing danger posed by these militias, which have supplanted drug gangs as the violent overlords who run many of Rio's slums and their illicit enterprises, often with links to corrupt police officers and politicians.

On the night of May 14 six ninja-hooded men entered the rented house where a 28-year-old reporter for the daily O Dia, a photographer and a driver were staying. They captured the three, with a neighbor, and tortured them for more than six hours.

They made them play Russian roulette, nearly suffocated them with plastic bags, delivered electric shocks and slapped and kicked them. They threatened to sexually assault the reporter, who is a woman, and kill all of the captives, according to written accounts the reporter and the 31-year-old driver gave the Rio police organized crime unit.




Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jun 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: John Colebourn, Canwest News Service

Without More Sunlight, Plants Will Rot

There's little hope for this dope.

British Columbia's famed outdoor pot crops -- and particularly those on Vancouver Island -- will rot if the sun remains a no-show, says marijuana activist and seed-seller Marc Emery.

That dire warning came yesterday from Emery, the so-called "Prince of Pot," on yet another cold, drizzly day.

"A couple more days of cold and rain and you can get root rot, or powdery mildew or the plants washing away," said Emery of the vast outdoor pot crops now in peril all over B.C.

He estimates the outdoor crop in B.C. is worth about $1 billion.




Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Katie Daubs

Ottawa's Top Health Official Convinces O'Brien To Make New Program Less Restrictive

Ottawa's new drug-needle policy won't be the one-for-one exchange some had hoped for, but Mayor Larry O'Brien and Ottawa Police Chief Vern White heralded it as a co-operative step in the right direction.

At a news conference yesterday, the mayor, who had previously called a one-for-one needle exchange an "ideal" solution to the problem of loose needles downtown, said Ottawa's interim medical officer of health has convinced him otherwise.

Dr. Isra Levy, who has succeeded Dr. David Salisbury at the top of the public-health department, said extensive research shows HIV rates decline in cities that have policies like Ottawa's and increase in cities that have restrictive, one-for-one programs. Dr. Levy said a one-for-one needle exchange also translates into more people carrying needles with them, creating a health risk for police, paramedics and others who might have to deal with drug users.

"We have been persuaded that the one-for-one exchange will not bring the benefits we imagined it would. The returns are not there, based on scientific research," Mr. O'Brien said.





There's a series of "what's wrong with this picture" stories in prohibition news this week: George Bush is set to dine with drug convict; a long-time activist was arrested because his money allegedly smelled like cannabis; the FDA is spending more resources on becoming drug cops and falling behind in its mandate of ensuring drug safety; and the drug war is getting so bad in some Mexico cities that even missionaries are cancelling trips there, rightfully concerned that even God won't protect them prohibition-related violence.


Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2008 Dayton Daily News
Author: Lawrence Budd, Staff Writer

SPRINGBORO - Three weeks after being sentenced in two cocaine possession cases, former Springboro City Councilman Michael W. Hemmert will accept a Republican Congressional Medal of Distinction during a two-day celebration in the nation's Capitol culminating in a dinner honoring President George W. Bush.

"I will be attending my second President's Dinner on Wed., June 18, 2008. This is considered the 'Event in Washington, DC' each year," Hemmert said in an e-mail press release.

On May 27, Hemmert, 53, of Springboro, was granted treatment in lieu of conviction on two sets of charges of possession of cocaine and marijuana and a single count of possession of drug paraphernalia during a hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Judge James Heath ordered Hemmert to abstain from alcohol and drugs, submit to random drug tests and follow other restrictions while on probation for three years.

Provided Hemmert notifies his probation officer before leaving, "he shouldn't have any problem traveling," Scott McVey, administrator of the Warren County Common Pleas Court, said on Tuesday, June 3.

The events are planned by the National Republican Congressional Committee.




Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jun 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Colin Moynihan

It has been more than 40 years since Dana Beal came to prominence as a theoretician for the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies, and embarked on a long career in the world of countercultural politics.

Since 1973, Mr. Beal and other Yippies have used a brick tenement on Bleecker Street, just west of the East Village, as a base for planning large-scale events, including demonstrations at national political conventions and worldwide marches calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, among other causes.

But Mr. Beal, 61, was far from the national stage last week when he found himself arrested on charges of money laundering in Mattoon, Ill., about 170 miles south of Chicago. He is being held in a county jail in nearby Charleston, awaiting an appearance before a judge on Thursday.

Ronald Tulin, a Charleston lawyer representing Mr. Beal, said that the police found his client with a large sum of cash, which was sniffed by police dogs.

"They're saying the money smelled like marijuana," Mr. Tulin said.




Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jun 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Alicia Mundy

WASHINGTON -- The criminal-investigations wing of the Food and Drug Administration is in hot water with Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and the House.

The Office of Criminal Investigations, or OCI, has operated largely autonomously in recent years, emphasizing a crackdown on illegal abuse of drugs such as Oxycontin. Its budget doubled to $42.8 million from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2009, even as FDA officials were conceding that funds for assuring the quality of imported drugs weren't adequate. Monday, the Bush administration announced it would ask Congress for an extra $275 million to beef up FDA inspections.

In May, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, demanded information from OCI that would explain why its arrests and convictions in fiscal 2006 were 20% lower than in fiscal 2000, according to numbers on the agency's Web site. During the same period, the number of investigators jumped nearly 50%. The FDA says unpublished statistics for this year show arrests moving upward. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has asked the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, to review whether OCI dropped some cases because of direction from other FDA officials.

Sen. Grassley's request follows questions raised by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February during a hearing on Ketek, the antibiotic made by Sanofi-Aventis SA. OCI agents testified about their unsuccessful efforts to initiate a task force on Ketek that would have looked at whether Sanofi's executives knew that an outside contractor had used fraudulent data in a clinical trial of the drug. Rep. Bart Stupak ( D., Mich. ), who leads the Ketek investigation in the House, wrote in a release that "OCI management did not follow through on the line agents' work, and recommendations to expand fraud investigations were ignored." The company says it acted in good faith and didn't know the clinical-trial data were fake. An outside researcher went to federal prison. FDA officials say they acted appropriately. In November, a year after Mr. Grassley began an investigation into Ketek, the FDA sent a warning letter to Sanofi about its lax oversight of that study.




Pubdate: Sun, 8 Jun 2008
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2008 El Paso Times
Author: Aileen B. Flores

The sound of gunfire now threatens to silence the sound of hammers in the poorest neighborhoods of Juarez.

Every year hundreds of U.S. missionaries travel to outlying areas in Juarez to help low-income families build new homes. But some volunteers are now afraid to cross the border because of the violence believed to be linked to warring drug cartels, program officials said Wednesday.

Alfonso "Poncho" Cisneros, a member of El Chaday Temple in Juarez and Casas por Cristo in El Paso, said that the violence in Juarez has put on hold the construction of homes for low-income families in colonias.

"Some projects have been canceled; the missionaries from the United States don't want to come because they're afraid of crossing to Mexico," Cisneros said.

At least 14 groups from the United States and Canada have canceled their summer trips to Juarez, program officials said.




Last week, the Washington Post took a look at the readjustment process former prisoners who have had sentences reduced thanks to new sentencing guidelines on crack. In the UK, illegal drug use within some prisons is said to be at epidemic levels. And the judge who became famous for smoking pot at a Rolling Stones concert is now speaking out about addictions. All well and good, but as our last story indicates, just because someone claims to have overcome drugs, they may not be the best role model to encourage others not to use drugs.


Pubdate: Sun, 8 Jun 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Darryl Fears, Washington Post Staff Writer

Those Released Since Disparities in Cocaine Penalties Were Offset Find a Different World

Days after her release from prison, Nerika Jenkins made a bold prediction: "I'll bounce right back into society."

Although the world changed considerably over the 11 years of her imprisonment, she said, "I'm not afraid." She took vocational classes - -- masonry, carpentry, painting, culinary arts, Microsoft Excel and horticulture -- while serving time in Philadelphia and Danbury, Conn. "I'm just ready to achieve my short-term goal, building a nursing home," she said. "They're always in need of places for the elderly."

More than 7,000 crack cocaine offenders such as Jenkins, 36, have received reduced sentences since March, when the U.S. Sentencing Commission put retroactive sentences guidelines into effect to offset what the commission felt was overly harsh punishments for crack cocaine related crimes, and it is an open question whether they will succeed or return to a life behind bars.

The majority of the reductions so far have been granted in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, covering Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas, according to a report by the Sentencing Commission on retroactive crack cocaine sentencing released in May. By contrast, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, covering California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, as well as other states and territories, has granted about the same number of reductions as the smallest jurisdiction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington.

About 35 percent of inmates who were granted reductions by federal courts had been released as of May 31, according to the Bureau of Prisons. Among them is Willie Mays Aikens, the former Major League Baseball slugger whose 15-year sentence for possessing 63 grams crack cocaine -- about the weight of a large Snickers candy bar -- made him a cause celebre among activists fighting long crack cocaine punishments.

Aikens was released in the first week of June, nearly 22 years to the day after the cocaine overdose of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias. Bias's death spurred Congress to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. Under the mistaken belief that Bias's death was caused by crack cocaine, lawmakers made sentences for crack cocaine crimes harsher than those committed for powder cocaine by a 100-to-1 ratio.

Nearly 90 percent of those who received the tough sentences for crack cocaine were black men and women. Most users and dealers of powder cocaine are white and Latino.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jun 2008
Source: Mirror, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Mirror
Author: Justin Penrose

Prisons are in the grip of an uncontrollable drugs crisis, according to a devastating report compiled by Britain's probation officers.

Their evidence flies in the face of Government claims that inmates are using fewer drugs.

The shocking report says:

People being sent back to jail ask for specific prisons where they know drugs are easy to get.

Drug dealers are actually breaking into jails to sell their goods.

Governors fiddle the results of drug tests to show they are on top of the problem.

Convicts buy "clean" urine samples from non-drug users to get them through tests.

And the report by the National Association of Probation Officers - Napo - concludes that heroin, cocaine and cannabis are "rife" in jails with staff unable to control the supply.

Insiders quoted in the report accuse governors of doctoring the figures of those failing tests to make it seem the problem is under control.

Official figures from Prisons Minister David Hanson in March showed that random positive drug tests had decreased by 64 per cent over recent years. But a former prison governor told Napo that samples of known users were often not sent for testing or were contaminated.

"It was also reported that urine samples were regularly exchanged between prisoners," the report says.




Pubdate: Sun, 8 Jun 2008
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2008 Detroit Free Press
Author: Susan Ager

He remembers the beginning of the end, the long walk home from work that Halloween evening, the longest two blocks of his life.

"Our neighborhood is a Norman Rockwell painting," Tom Gilbert says. "We've got front porches and kids and dogs and sidewalks. It's America, and everybody is getting ready for Halloween, and we're going to have 500 kids at our door, and Marsha loves Halloween and is dressed as a witch and there's chili on the stove.

"But I told her I didn't feel well and just went up to bed."

The next day, she would cry at their small round kitchen table when he told her the news: Someone had seen him smoking dope at a Rolling Stones concert in Detroit 19 days earlier.

Ford Field is 250 miles from the Traverse City courtroom where he served as a district court judge. It took more than two weeks for the couple who had watched him inhale to describe it to friends, who happened to be court employees, who felt compelled to tell their supervisors, who finally confronted him.

That long walk home, the beginning of the end, would also become the beginning of the beginning.

Five and a half years after his 15 minutes of fame as the pot-smoking judge won him a couple of jokes from Jay Leno, Tom Gilbert is a recovering alcoholic: sober, chastened and no longer casting judgment on anyone.

Instead, he embraces those ready to make the changes he did, changes he might never have made on his own.




Pubdate: Wed, 4 Jun 2008
Source: Smithville Herald (MO)
Copyright: 2008 The Greater Kansas City Community Newspaper Group
Author: Ashley Vasquez

Smithville R-II School District officials were disappointed last week after hearing reports that a recent motivational speaker invited to talk about the dangers of alcohol and drugs was charged with several felonies because of those substances.

According to The Associated Press, Russell Simon Jr., 45, was arrested May 15 and is now being held in the Isanti County, Minn., Jail with bail set at $1 million after he allegedly went on an alcohol- and methamphetamine-fueled rampage.

The charges against Simon - who spoke in March to Smithville students and parents during a special program - include first-degree premeditated attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with a dangerous weapon, and violating the terms of his earlier prison release by using a firearm. He could be facing 30 years in prison.

The AP reported that police were called to the home of Simon's live-in girlfriend May 14 on reports of shots fired. According to authorities, after a night of drinking with an old prison buddy, Simon - drunk on alcohol and high on meth - took off all his clothes and began fighting with the man. It's not clear what the argument was about, according to the AP, but it allegedly ended with Simon pulling a gun and firing as many as seven times. He is also accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend in front of her nine-year-old son.

Simon's motivational speech, named "10 Seconds Can Change Your Life Forever" is drawn from his experience as a convicted felon and how we worked to stay clean for more than 14 years. According to his Web site, he has spoken to more than 250,000 teens including the Smithville students.




Yet another well-argued, evidenced-based report calling for cannabis regulation has emerged from Scotland. However, it seems the Scottish government has asked the parliamentary librarian to shelve it in the basement with the ACMD report, Le Dain, Schafer, La Guardia, Runciman and Nolin.

The New York Times took a long look at the recent backlash against the nascent medicinal cannabis industry in California, admirably including sound bites from many familiar voices of the cannabis law reform community.

In addition to the issues surrounding medicinal cannabis in the workplace and in public spaces, medicinal cannabis laws are forcing states to accommodate patients in custodial relationships with the criminal justice system.

Cannabinoid research pioneer Billy R. Martin passed away last week.


Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jun 2008
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: 2008 The Scotsman Publications Ltd
Author: David Maddox
Cited: Scottish Futures Forum Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance

Cannabis should be legalised and taxed, an influential Scottish think tank recommended yesterday, just weeks after the Government hardened its attitude towards the drug, reclassifying it as a class B substance.

The Scottish Futures Forum yesterday published a report on drugs and alcohol in Scotland, saying one way to tackle the problem of addiction to harder drugs was to tax and regulate cannabis.

Forum chairman Frank Pignatelli said studies of San Francisco, where cannabis is illegal, and the Netherlands, where it is decriminalised, showed that the idea is worth considering because it breaks the link with class A drugs. In the Netherlands, only 17 per cent of cannabis sellers were also selling drugs such as crack, cocaine and heroin, while in San Francisco it was more than 50 per cent.

The idea was one of several aimed at halving drug addiction in Scotland by 2025.

This included introducing shooting galleries, where heroin addicts can go and take drugs in supervised surroundings, as revealed in yesterday's Scotsman.


Both the Home Office and the Scottish Government have made it clear that they do not support the idea of legalisation.




Pubdate: Mon, 9 Jun 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Jesse McKinley

UKIAH, Calif. -- There is probably no marijuana-friendlier place in the country than here in Mendocino County, where plants can grow more than 15 feet high, medical marijuana clubs adopt stretches of highway, and the sticky, sweet aroma of cannabis fills this city's streets during the autumn harvest.

Lately, however, residents of Mendocino County, like those in other parts of California, are wondering if the state's embrace of marijuana for medicinal purposes has gone too far.

Medical marijuana was legalized under state law by California voters in 1996, and since then 11 other states have followed, even though federal law still bans the sale of any marijuana. But some frustrated residents and law enforcement officials say the California law has increasingly and unintentionally provided legal cover for large-scale marijuana growers -- and the problems such big-money operations can attract.

"It's a clear shield for commercial operations," said Mike Sweeney, 60, a supporter of both medical marijuana and a local ballot measure on June 3 that called for new limits on the drug in Mendocino. "And we don't want those here."


"If folks had to get their dope, sorry, they would just have to get it somewhere else," said Sheriff Mark Pazin of Merced County, east of San Francisco, one of the many jurisdictions to impose new restrictions.


But while even advocates of medical marijuana say they recognize that the system has problems, they question the bans. "I think there's no doubt there's been abuse, but there's probably no system created by human beings that hasn't been abused," said Bruce Mirken, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, which promotes the drug's legalization. "But the answer to that is not the wholesale throwing out the baby with the bath water."

All told, about 80 California cities have adopted moratoriums with more than 60 others banning the clubs outright, according to Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for medical marijuana research and treatment. In addition, 11 counties have also adopted some sort of ban or moratorium.

Such laws have led to a kind of Prohibition patchwork of "wet" and "dry" areas. In Visalia, a city of 120,000 in the state's Central Valley, the local club was denied a permit on Main Street, so instead set up shop on a lonely section of country highway. Other clubs have retreated into people's homes.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jun 2008
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2008 Missoulian
Author: Tristan Scott

A week after the state Corrections Department abandoned a proposed rule that would have banned anyone on probation or parole from using medical marijuana, one Missoula man says he's already reaping the benefits.

"I was told that I could go ahead and toke up again," said David Michaud, 39, a convicted felon and stay-at-home dad who uses medical marijuana to relieve chronic migraine headaches, pain and nausea. "Now I'm just following my doctor's advice."

In 2000, Michaud was arrested with 4 ounces of marijuana during a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colo., and was subsequently convicted of felony drug possession. Earlier this year, Michaud and his wife moved to Montana, where he is registered as a medical marijuana patient and has four prescriptions for the drug signed by three physicians.

But Michaud said his probation officer told him he couldn't fill those prescriptions, and suggested he instead ask his doctor for a prescription to Marinol, a synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana. But Michaud says, and many patients agree, that the synthetic treatment is not as effective because it mimics just one substance in the cannabis plant, when a combination of substances may be what helps relieve the pain.

During a March hearing in Helena, Michaud and other critics of the proposed Corrections rule testified that Montana's medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 2004, does not allow any penalty for using medical marijuana, regardless of a person's criminal history.

Michaud said he disclosed his marijuana use to his probation officer after studying the finer points of Montana's medical marijuana law, which places no restrictions on probationers or parolees.

"So I told my probation officer that I had started following my doctor's advice again and was smoking marijuana, and she sent me to jail for three days," Michaud said.




Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jun 2008
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2008 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC.
Author: Jeremy Slayton

He Worked 32 Years at VCU and Was a Top Marijuana Researcher

During the past 35 years, Dr. Billy Ray Martin established himself as a world leader in marijuana research.

In the late 1970s, he was the first to show that most of the behavioral effects of marijuana were attributable to delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the substance's principal psychoactive ingredient.

Later, he was chosen by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to lead a team of international researchers to study anandamide, a marijuana- like substance that occurs naturally in the brain.

Since 2000, Dr. Martin served as chairman of Virginia Commonwealth University's department of pharmacology and toxicology. He died Sunday at his Richmond home of cancer. He was 65.

During his tenure leading the department, it ranked in the top 10 in the nation in terms of National Institutes of Health funding. This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked VCU 16th in the nation among programs in substance abuse.

As a leader in the department, Dr. Martin "recruited excellent scientists and built a highly collaborative research team," said Dr. Jerome F. Strauss III, dean of the VCU School of Medicine.

Dr. Martin's research into marijuana looked at both avenues of the drug -- its dangers and its therapeutic potential, said his mentor, Dr. William L. Dewey, a professor at VCU's department of pharmacology and toxicology.


Dr. Martin, described as a kind, soft-spoken man, was the founder and first president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and won the group's Raphael Mechoulam Award for outstanding contributions to cannabinoid research.




Argentina appears to be joining nearby Brazil and Uruguay in halting arrests for simple drug use or possession. The change happened after Argentinean legal tribunals ruled laws penalizing drug use were unconstitutional. "We have to stop being hypocrites," pled Argentinean minister of justice, security and health Anibal Fernandez earlier this year. "Young people also get sick from the consumption of alcohol and pills, which they get freely, and we criminalize those for possessing a marijuana cigarette."

Surprise, surprise: as many other trials have shown before, when heroin addicts are simply prescribed the pharmaceutical grade stuff, their lives stabilize. In Montreal, Canada, the first trial of prescribed heroin in North America is coming to a close. "What was surprising was that, as their lives gained stability, many came only twice a day," noted the lead researcher. "Because the heroin was free, people thought an escalation in use would occur. But this didn't happen." Other fears proved unfounded, as well. "There was a fear we'd attract more users by giving out free heroin." Don't expect grandstanding politicians to listen; such studies are regularly ignored by government. Meanwhile, the right-wing government of Stephen Harper vowed to appeal the B.C. Supreme court ruling that allows Insite to remain operating. With over 90% of Canada's anti-drug budget going to law enforcement, a powerful law enforcement lobby keeps a stranglehold on politicians and resources.

In Scotland, media and politicians alike were aghast at the very idea: supervised injection centers should be established, and cannabis should be legalized. The idea came from a think-tank which was set up by the Scottish Parliament. Response from prohibitionists was predictable. "We believe that people should be assisted to get off drugs, not helped to take them," said member of parliament Annabel Goldie. Scotland's punitive drug prohibition laws have earned the region the distinction of having "the highest drug-related death rate in Europe."


Pubdate: Sat, 7 Jun 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Monte Reel, Washington Post Foreign Service

BUENOS AIRES -- After getting caught with contraband like ecstasy tablets and marijuana, a few young Argentines have been asked by judges recently to pay an unexpected price for breaking the nation's drug laws: None at all.

That's because separate federal tribunals here have ruled that a law penalizing the personal use of drugs is unconstitutional. Two offenders have been let off the hook in Buenos Aires. And this week another group of judges echoed the ruling after considering the case of a young man arrested with marijuana.

"Criminalization will only apply in cases where the possession of narcotics for personal consumption represents a danger for the public health of others," the judges announced.


Then there are such critics as Claudio Mate, a former health minister for the province of Buenos Aires, who told reporters the trend threatened to create the "absurdity that we would have more regulations for smokers of tobacco than for consumers of cocaine."

He and others have predicted spiraling rates of drug use, particularly among teenagers.

"Imagine how bad it could be if the state were to renounce even further its punitive power," Roberto Castellano, president of Pro-Life Argentina, said in a news release criticizing legalization efforts.

Those naysayers seem to be swimming against the prevailing tide, however, which has been moving toward a change for several months. This year, Anibal Fernandez -- Argentina's highly influential minister of justice, security and health -- publicly denounced Argentina's current drug laws as a "catastrophe."


"We have to stop being hypocrites," Fernandez said at a U.N. forum this year. "Young people also get sick from the consumption of alcohol and pills, which they get freely, and we criminalize those for possessing a marijuana cigarette."



Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jun 2008
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Brett Bundale, The Gazette

Gave Free Pharma-Grade Drugs. Quebec Health Minister Considering Opening Safe-Injection Site In Montreal


North America's first research study on medically prescribed heroin will wrap up in a few weeks. The goal of the North American Opiate Medication Initiative, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, is to examine harm reduction and the treatment of illicit drug use.

The $8-million clinical trial started in 2005 in Montreal and Vancouver, the site of Insite, North America's only safe-injection site.


But unlike a safe-injection site, where addicts inject themselves with their own street drugs under the supervision of a nurse, the research study uses medically prescribed pharmaceutical-grade narcotics.

Although the findings will not be published until the fall, the preliminary results are promising, said Suzanne Brissette, one of the study's doctors and the lead investigator in Montreal.


Similar studies in Europe suggest prescribed heroin programs can save the public nearly $20,000 a year per addict, after research and clinical costs are factored in.


"What was surprising was that, as their lives gained stability, many came only twice a day," Brissette said.

In addition, the maximum heroin dose allowed was about 400 milligrams, but on average addicts chose to take only 170 milligrams at a time.

"Because the heroin was free, people thought an escalation in use would occur. But this didn't happen," Brissette said.


Many users put on weight and some managed to find jobs, Brissette said.

"Instead of worrying about their next fix, they had time to worry about far more important issues like their health and finding a job or an apartment," Brissette said.




Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jun 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Brian Day

When the federal government announced it would appeal the B.C. Supreme Court's decision on Vancouver's safe injection site, it chose to dismiss growing scientific evidence of the positive role harm-reduction programs can play in society.


While the federal government rejects scientific evidence that harm- reduction programs are successful, health-care professionals and public-health experts know they are an important part of the puzzle in addressing illegal drug use. Harm reduction, along with treatment, policing and prevention are cornerstones of a comprehensive, integrated public-health strategy.

Conservatives contend that money could be diverted away from Insite into treatment and rehabilitation programs for addicts. Money does need to be diverted, but it's not from facilities like Insite.

Of all the money that Canada spends to combat illegal drug use, less than 10 per cent is spent on treatment and rehabilitation. The vast majority of the money goes to interdiction and law enforcement. While law enforcement has an important role to play, it is obvious we need a rebalancing of resources and focus.


When it comes to safe injection sites, Conservatives need to consider the health of all Canadians, not just those who agree with the government's ideological bias against drug-addicted patients.

Dr. Brian Day is president of the Canadian Medical Association.



Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jun 2008
Source: Herald, The (Glasgow, UK)
Copyright: 2008 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited
Author: Julia Horton

Radical calls to consider prescribing heroin to addicts in Scotland and setting up "safe" rooms where users could take drugs divided politicians yesterday.

Scotland's Futures Forum, a think-tank set up by the Scottish Parliament, proposed that both initiatives should be given a trial after proving successful in tackling drug abuse in the Netherlands.

The forum's suggestions yesterday were part of a raft of new options for Scotland put forward in a bid to halve the massive amount of damage caused by drug and alcohol abuse by 2025.

Scotland has the highest drug-related death rate in Europe, with the overall cost of damage through alcohol and drugs in terms of crime and neglect estimated at nearly UKP5bn.


Leader Annabel Goldie MSP said yesterday: "We believe that people should be assisted to get off drugs, not helped to take them. The approach of the last Scottish Executive in dealing with drugs abuse was deeply flawed and I'm afraid the recommendations we see today are siphoned from the same school of thought."



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By Bruce Mirken

In what is becoming a nearly annual ritual, the ONDCP has released yet another report filled with dire warnings about rising marijuana potency.


A report published by a Scottish Parliament-backed think tank has called for radical new ways to tackle the damage done by drugs and alcohol. Recommendations include the setting up of "consumption rooms" where addicts would be able to take drugs safely, and for heroin to be prescribed to users. The report also suggested the taxation of cannabis to enable it to be more tightly regulated.


Should medical marijuana be kept from minors at all costs? Why is it that pharmacists can dispense amphetamines without getting busted, but legal operators who dispense medical marijuana face prison time? Why do armed federal agents persist in raiding California?


By Bob Curley

Based on their records, neither John McCain or Barack Obama can really be considered a leader in the drug-policy arena.


A Father's Day Message From NORML

By George Rohrbacher, NORML Board Member


Century of Lies- 06/10/08 - Dean Becker

Patients from around North America discuss their use of medical marijuana for numerous maladies and how it cuts down on their use of more dangerous and deadly pharmaceutical medicines.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 06/11/08 - Ray Hill

Ray Hill one of the founders of Pacifica's KPFT compares the war on gays to the war on drugs + Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & Drug War Facts with Doug McVay


Feature Article, Drug War Chronicle, Issue #539, 6/13/08


Cannabis Culture commissioned a Canadian version of "Incarcerex", a very well done anti Drug War message by the Drug Policy Alliance. CC intends to run their ad on mainstream television during the next federal election.



Many of our readers know about the tragic case of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old in Tallahassee, Florida, who was killed by drug dealers after police coerced her into acting as an informant without having access to an attorney. Drug War Chronicle is currently looking for cases, reported or unreported, in which police appear to have committed misconduct or made serious misjudgements in their treatment of informants.

If you can help us find such cases, please email David Borden at We will keep your name and personal information confidential unless you tell us otherwise. If you are uncomfortable sending this information by email, feel free to contact us by phone instead; our office number is (202) 293-8340, and you can speak or leave a message with David Borden or David Guard. Thank you in advance for your help.


This week, MPP began airing a TV ad to urge the New York state Senate to pass a medical marijuana bill. There are less than three weeks left in the legislative session, so there is no time to lose. Please urge your senator to support A. 4867-B and to ask leadership to bring the issue to a vote.

If you are a patient who could benefit from medical marijuana, or a supportive medical professional, please e-mail to see how your voice can help.



By Mitch Earleywine

The recent op-ed on medical marijuana says science, not politics, should drive California's drug policy ( "Pot propaganda," June 4).

Though the piece suggests otherwise, science reveals that marijuana is superb for battling nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, insomnia, muscle spasms and pain. For some people, it can mean the difference between life and death.

An Institute of Medicine report, the same one mentioned in the op-ed, actually confirms that marijuana has these medical uses.

The writer suggests that Marinol, a synthetic pill that contains only one of the many active ingredients in the plant, could suffice for patients. But research reveals that the pill is impossible to swallow during bouts of nausea and vomiting, its effects are slow and unpredictable, and for some patients, it simply doesn't work.

Indeed, science should drive drug policy. Medical marijuana should be available as needed to end human anguish whenever possible. Standing idly by while the sickest of the sick suffer is truly inhumane.

Mitch Earleywine Associate professor, State University of New York at Albany Albany, N.Y.

Pubdate: Sun, 8 Jun 2008
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)


DrugSense recognizes Tim Meehan of Ottawa, the capitol of Canada, for his five letters published during May which brings his total published letters that we know of up to 96. Tim frequently signs his letters as representing Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis. You may read his published letters at:


I Was Wrong About The War On Drugs - It's A Failure  ( Top )

By Bob Barr

I'll admit it, just five years ago I was "Public Enemy Number 1" in the eyes of the Libertarian Party. In my 2002 congressional race for Georgia's Seventh District, the Libertarian Party ran scathing attack ads against my stand on Medical Marijuana.

Today, I am their presidential nominee and will represent libertarians at the top of the ticket on November 4th.


That's right, Bob Barr, formerly the War on Drugs loving, Wiccan mocking, Clinton impeaching Republican is the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party.

Now, you may be asking how this happened and my answer is simple: "The libertarians won."

For more than three decades, the Libertarian Party and small "l" libertarians have done their part to prove to America that liberty is the answer to most of the problems that we face today. Over the past several years, I was one of the many people influenced by this small party.

Whether through the free market or by simply allowing families to make their own decisions regarding the education of their children, libertarians have taught us that liberty does truly work.

In stark contrast, when government attempts to solve our societal problems, it tends to create even more of them, often increasing the size and depth of the original problem. A perfect example of this is the federal War on Drugs.

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972.

America's drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

The result of spending all of those taxpayer's dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.

While it is clear the War on Drugs has been a failure, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that reality. We need to look for solutions that deal with the drug problem without costly and intrusive government agencies, and instead allow for private industry and organizations to put forward solutions that address the real problems.

One such solution was presented to me recently by a libertarian friend and supporter, Glenn Jacobs.

Glenn is a very unique guy with a very unique job. To say Glenn is a "big guy" or "intimidating" is an understatement. He gives people nightmares ...= literally.

Each week Glenn, who stands nearly seven feet tall, walks into a wrestling ring under the stage name "Kane" to beat other large men for sheer entertainment purposes.

Had I not pursued a career in politics -- and were about two feet taller -- I might have chosen a similar career path.= Maybe=85

In June of 2007, Glenn and many of his friends and co-workers in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) were rocked by the news of the Chris Benoit tragedy that took place in my home state of Georgia.

It was speculated that Chris had murdered his family and committed suicide in a steroid or "roid" rage. While it is unclear how much of a role drugs played in Benoit's actions, and whether mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) may also have been a contributing factor, it was clear the WWE had some serious problems within its organization.

In the wake of the tragedy, the head of the WWE, Vince McMahon, and its other leaders looked internally to recognize these problems and address them. Although in the two years before Benoit's death, dozens of wrestlers had been suspended, gone to rehab, or been dismissed under the WWE's recently adopted "Wellness Program," the WWE strengthened its drug policy further, re-emphasizing that its policy wasn't merely a document, but the internal laws of the company that would be enforced.

Additionally, in response to speculation by brain trauma experts that Benoit may have been suffering from brain damage caused by years of blows to the head, WWE added a MTBI component to its Wellness Program.

McMahon didn't wait for Congress to pass a law or parade his wrestlers in front of congressional committee hearings; he took the lead and assumed responsibility over the health and welfare of the individuals who work for the WWE.

As part of the WWE Wellness Program, wrestlers go through regular drug testing and even cardiovascular testing. The latter identified a previously unknown heart condition for the wrestler "MVP" and he was treated for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. The government's War on Drugs wouldn't have done that.

Sadly, the long standing War on Drugs also did not save the life of Chris Benoit and his family. The truth is, only Chris could have saved himself through personal responsibility. However, the efforts of Vince McMahon are making progress in preventing other tragedies and harm.

The WWE is taking responsibility for its talent and giving its participants the resources that they need, through rehabilitation, testing and even anonymous help lines, to deal with any possible problems.

While there may be some employees of the organization who may not like random drug tests or being thrown on a treadmill for an EKG, they have the choice of finding a new employer.

That's the beauty of this libertarian solution. It does not take government intervention or our tax dollars. It also does not force anyone to do anything, as it only requires voluntary action and decisions.

While I applaud the WWE for taking on this responsibility with a libertarian solution, don't bother looking for me at an upcoming cage match on Friday Night Smackdown. I don't want to be responsible for hurting any of those little guys.

Bob Barr is the 2008 Libertarian nominee for President of the United States. Previously, he represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. This piece originally appeared at Huffington Post.


"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." -- Mark Twain

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