This Just In
(1)Judge Quest to Decriminalize Minor Drug Use Gets Support
(2)'Narco Juniors' Paid To Do The Dirty Work
(3)Local Nurse Brings The Medicinal Cannabis Fight To The Feds
(4)State Rep Wants Stiffer Penalties For Pot Dealers And Growers

Hot Off The 'Net
-Cocaine Plane Trail Is Open Challenge For Obama Administration
-John Walters' Final Four Days As Drug Czar / Pete Guither
-Bongs Away! / Jacob Sullum
-Progressives War Over Drug Czar / Stanton Peele
-Drug Truth Network
-MAPS News: Healing Hearts And Minds In 2009
-War On Drugs: The Collateral Damage / Radley Balko
-Keep Drugs Illegal! / David Freddoso

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper
Author: Brian Rogers

As the Texas Legislature begins its session, a Houston judge is again arguing to end jail time for criminals caught with small amounts of cocaine and crack, but this time he has the support of 15 colleagues.

State District Judge Michael McSpadden on Wednesday sent a letter to the state's top officials and Houston's senators and representatives asking for a change in what he called "draconian" laws.

During the last session, McSpadden stood alone when he asked that charges for possession of a controlled substance of less than 1 gram be reduced from a state jail felony to a misdemeanor. Two years later, judges from both major political parties are joining the Republican who has been on the bench for more than 20 years.

"Sixteen of us feel that it's just unfair to be convicted for a residue amount and be labeled a felon, which changes your whole life," McSpadden said. "We're not talking about legalizing it; we're talking about making it a misdemeanor."

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said the problem is multifaceted, and she is studying the best ways to solve the problems associated with drug abuse, including pre-trial diversion and residential treatment centers.




Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters

Mexican teenagers as young as 15 are killing rivals for a few hundred dollars in a brutal drug war on the U. S. border that is increasingly sucking in young people. Feuding gangs in the violent cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez prize teenage drug cartel members, known as "narco juniors," because they give the attacks an added element of surprise and because they can't be given long prison sentences, police and social workers say.

"There are lots of us, and we get $300 for each kill," said Eduardo, 17, a middle-class student who was arrested in December after an army raid on a drug safe house in Tijuana.

Police say he was working for Tijuana's Arellano Felix drug cartel that is battling Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, for control of the city's smuggling routes into California.

"I had been doing it for about five months, it was easy money," he said in a police detention centre, wearing designer clothing. Police said he killed at least one man.

About 5,700 people were killed in Mexico's drug war last year as drug gangs fought each other and battled troops and federal police sent in by President Felipe Calderon.




Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: Alibi (NM)
Copyright: 2009 Weekly Alibi
Author: Marisa Demarco

Psychiatric nurse Bryan Krumm's opinion of the state's medical marijuana program is not an uncommon one. "Until they can keep the federal government out of the program, they are not going to be able to make our program functional."

The Department of Health established regulations regarding the growth and distribution of medical marijuana last week. The department accepting applications from nonprofit businesses interested in producing medical marijuana.

Krumm filed suit against the U.S. attorney and others general in District Court to combat federal interference, and he's using a stipulation in the Controlled Substances Act to do it.

The act is broken into "schedules," which are classifications for various drugs. Marijuana is listed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I. According to the act, these drugs have no medical uses. Cocaine and opiates are listed as Schedule II drugs, because they have medical applications.

Krumm works at Sage Neuroscience Center in Albuquerque. He argues that once California created a medical marijuana program in 1996, cannabis should have been bumped to a less restrictive schedule. "Once it has accepted medical use," says Krumm, "it no longer meets criteria for placement in Schedule I." Krumm says his is the first lawsuit in the country that is using the Controlled Substances Act itself to justify the removal of marijuana from Schedule I.




Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: Patriot Ledger, The (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2009 GateHouse Media, Inc.

Rep. Driscoll's Bill Would Toughen Law For Selling, Growing Marijuana

BRAINTREE - State Rep. Joseph Driscoll has filed legislation aimed at toughening laws against growing and selling marijuana. "The recent ballot initiative made clear that the voters do not want to target people who possess marijuana on first offenses," the Braintree Democrat said.

Driscoll, a former Norfolk County prosecutor, said drug dealers should know that Massachusetts will not be a haven for their illegal activities.

Voters approved a referendum in November that decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and imposed a $100 civil fine. Minors would also be required to take a drug-abuse counseling course. The new law took effect Jan. 1.

Driscoll, who opposed the referendum question, said nothing prevents a drug dealer from selling marijuana to a minor.

Under current law, it is a misdemeanor to sell marijuana to a minor and a felony to sell other drugs to juveniles.

"Five years in state prison will act as a deterrent," he said.





With tough times come tough decisions, and it's time for America to prioritize. A story from the New York Times suggests federal law enforcement has gone overboard chasing crimes by illegal immigrants, particularly drug crimes. The resources have been so tipped out of balance, that other more serious crimes aren't getting the same attention.

On Alternet, priorities for reforming the drug war are discussed. A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it is a higher priority for police to get official "do-overs" for mistakes, than it is to secure the Constitutional rights of citizens. And, El Paso, the status quo and inertia is prioritized over efforts to stop the killing in Mexico.

And, finally, that cocaine crisis that the U.S. drug czar alleged was increasing prices in cities across the country doesn't seem to stop the ongoing widespread contamination of paper money by cocaine, even in places like Huntsville, Alabama.


Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore

LAREDO, Tex. -- Inside a courthouse just north of the Rio Grande, federal judges mete out prison sentences to throngs of 40 to 60 illegal immigrants at a time. The accused, mostly from Central America, Brazil and Mexico, wear rough travel clothes that speak of arduous journeys: flannel shirts, sweat suits, jeans and running shoes or work boots.

The prosecutors make quick work of the immigrants. Under a Justice Department program that relies on plea deals, most are charged with misdemeanors like improper entry.

Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system. Many of those other crimes, including gun trafficking, organized crime and the increasingly violent drug trade, are now routinely referred to state and county officials, who say they often lack the finances or authority to prosecute them effectively.

Bush administration officials say the government's focus on immigration crimes is an outgrowth of its counterterrorism strategy and vigorous pursuit of immigrants with criminal records.

Immigration prosecutions have steeply risen over the last five years, while white-collar prosecutions have fallen by 18 percent, weapons prosecutions have dropped by 19 percent, organized crime prosecutions are down by 20 percent and public corruption prosecutions have dropped by 14 percent, according to the Syracuse group's statistics. Drug prosecutions -- the enforcement priority of the Reagan, first Bush and Clinton administrations -- have declined by 20 percent since 2003.



 (6) Five Key Areas for Reforming America's Idiotic War on Drugs  ( Top )


Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2009
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2009 Independent Media Institute
Author: Tony Newman

The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars waging its 40-year "war on drugs," responsible for the imprisonment of 500,000 of our fellow American citizens. Despite this enormous waste of money and lives, drugs are as easily available and cheap as ever. The drug-warmongers say it is all for the safety and protection of our children, yet high schoolers all over the country can easily obtain just about any illegal drug they are seeking in this unregulated market. Half of all high-school seniors will have tried marijuana before graduating. The government's latest Monitoring the Future report, released [when?], indicates that more young people are now choosing to smoke pot rather than cigarettes.

Despite these disheartening facts, there is reason for optimism and hope. More and more people are joining the movement to end the failed war on drugs. Passionate people in every neighborhood and from every walk of life, liberals and conservatives, are joining this fast-growing movement. Though there are some compelling reasons drugs should remain illegal, we should at least begin an honest discussion about the root causes of the violence and the range of options to deal with the harms associated with prohibition. It is clear that the strategy of the past 40 years is not working. Below are five opportunities to engage our fellow citizens, discuss the enormous challenges we face, and come up with solutions to reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition.




Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Adam Liptak

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that evidence obtained from an unlawful arrest based on careless record keeping by the police may be used against a criminal defendant.

The 5-to-4 decision revealed competing conceptions of the exclusionary rule, which requires the suppression of some evidence obtained through police misconduct, and suggested that the court's commitment to the rule was fragile.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that the exclusion of evidence should be a last resort and that judges should use a sliding scale in deciding whether particular misconduct by the police warranted suppressing the evidence they had found.

"To trigger the exclusionary rule," Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "police conduct must be sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can meaningfully deter it, and sufficiently culpable that such deterrence is worth the price paid by the justice system."

That price, the chief justice wrote, "is, of course, letting guilty and possibly dangerous defendants go free."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, argued for "a more majestic conception" of the exclusionary rule, and a more categorical one.

The rule requires more than a cost-benefit calculus to deter police misconduct, Justice Ginsburg wrote. It also protects defendants' rights, she said, and prevents judicial complicity in "official lawlessness."




Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.

Mayor's Veto Stands After Officials Weigh State, U. S. Funding

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council members declined Tuesday to revive a controversial decision to ask the federal government to consider legalizing drugs as a way to help curb the Mexico drug cartel violence. The eight-member council split 4-4 on a vote upholding Mayor John Cook's veto of the resolution unanimously passed last week asking the federal government to consider an "open, honest, national dialogue on ending the prohibition of narcotics." The proposal was part of a broad resolution expressing the city's solidarity with Ciudad Juarez, a violence-plagued Mexican border city just across the Rio Grande.

At issue for at least three council members who initially supported the resolution was whether the city's stance would cost state and federal funding. they sited letters received from five state legislators from the region and U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, an El Paso Democrat, expressing that fear.

Council members Beto O'Rourke, who initially pushed the effort for a federal debate, and Steve Ortega said the threats of withholding funding served only "to chill the debate."

On Tuesday, Cook stood by his earlier assessment saying the resolution was unrealistic.




Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2009
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2009 The Huntsville Times
Author: Hannah Wolfson, News staff writer

As much as 65 percent of $1 bills in the Birmingham area could be contaminated with trace amounts of cocaine, according to a set of experiments conducted by forensic science students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The students tested different methods of measuring the amount of cocaine on money. They looked at 40 $1 bills - half collected from a Regions Bank and half from a Wachovia branch - and found that the more effective testing method revealed 65 percent had cocaine on them. Professor Elizabeth Gardner, who oversaw the research, said the figure matches tests other students conducted in her class with individual $1 bills collected from stores and restaurants around the Birmingham area.

More comprehensive data collected in other cities usually finds between 80 and 90 percent contamination, she said, although those studies usually use higher-denomination bills.

"I have talked to people who say that basically 100 percent of currency is contaminated and if you get any negatives, it's in dollar bills," Gardner said.

As far as she knows, she said, this is the first time the tests have been done on money in Birmingham. However, she cautioned that the research, which was printed in UAB's undergraduate journal Inquiro, was done on a small scale and isn't as complete as previously published studies elsewhere.




A tiny bit of justice in the drug war, as a police sergeant from the Seattle area wins a settlement after being fired for speaking the truth about drug prohibition. In North Carolina, a county that expanded its drug war with the help of federal prosecutors is dismayed to find that other counties want these resources, but they come in limited supply. In Telluride, Colorado, drug prohibition critic Sheriff Bill McMasters celebrates another anniversary as the top law enforcement man in town. And, even as the drug was costs so much in justice, some communities can only see short-term financial benefits (which didn't come cheap in the first place).


Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2009
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2009 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Eric Nalder, P-I Reporter

A Mountlake Terrace police sergeant who was fired in part for alleged dishonesty has gotten his job back and an $812,500 settlement from his department, Snohomish County and the city of Lynnwood.

Jonathan Wender's battle to clear his name centered on allegations that police internal investigators and the prosecutor's office targeted him unfairly because of his outspoken views in favor of limited decriminalization of marijuana and reforms in the nation's war on drugs.

"I think that those of us on the front lines have an obligation to speak out," said Wender, 42, who now is on a two-year paid leave and teaching at the University of Washington. "I have devoted most of my professional life to protecting constitutional rights of citizens. Rights are violated when there is a chilling of free speech, which I believe was the case here."

Wender's case illustrates a wider issue reported last year by the Seattle P-I -- abuse and unequal enforcement by police departments of requirements that police officers be truthful. Internal disciplinary records indicate some officers are fired for dishonesty, some are reprimanded and some are accused of lying so that departments can fire them.

Wender alleged that he falls in the latter category. Court records show he uncovered evidence to support his claim.




Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Star-News (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Wilmington Morning Star
Author: Chelsea Kellner

Funding runs out in June for the financial partnership that allowed an increased crackdown on New Hanover County drug activity, but District Attorney Ben David says that the program is too important to nix. "We can't afford not to do this program," David said. "This partnership makes justice more swift and severe." After receiving a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission more than two years ago with a 25 percent match from the New Hanover County Commissioner, New Hanover County courts have been able to prosecute countless drug dealers under federal laws. Assistant District Attorney Tim Severo was dubbed a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, using the federal system to aggressively pursue drug dealers and criminal organizations, and net stiffer sentences. The original grant was for $118,627 from fall 2006 through spring 2007, according to Lillian Salcines Bright of the District Attorney's Office. Because of the program's initial success, New Hanover County was allowed to apply twice more, receiving $120,058 in fall 2007, and about $98,488 to run the program from now through June.

But more counties have started applying, David said. That means more competition for New Hanover County's new application when its current grant expires at the end of June.




Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2009
Source: Telluride Daily Planet (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Telluride Daily Planet, A Division of Womack Publishing Company
Author: Reilly Capps

Once A Drug Buster, Now A Prominent Critic Of The 'War On Drugs'

When he's hiring new deputies, the test is simple. The sheriff asks them to write their life stories. "Most of this job is writing," Bill Masters says. "If they can't write, they're a constant pain in the ass." So if Masters wrote his own life story, what would he write?

Masters grew up a straight-laced kid in L.A., joined the Coast Guard, kicked around and decided he didn't want to go back to L.A. It was hot there, and you had to wear a tie to job interviews. So he said screw this, "I'm going to Telluride and go ski for a year."

He was a liftie who helped build Lift 7. Then fate intervened. Driving down valley, a rock careened down the hill and smashed the top of his Volkswagen Bug. Crushed the roof. Crushed the groceries. So he hitchhiked. One day, the Telluride Marshal picked him up, and offered him a job. Masters was only 23 years old.

Shortly thereafter, he was named Sheriff. He got along well with the old miners, though they occasionally stole the lights off the top of his cop car and joyrided it down the street. The hippies were less tolerant of the new, short-haired, rednecky sheriff. Telluride was a famous drug spot, and Masters was determined to clean it up. He set up an elaborate sting involving all kinds of Dragnet devices -- wiretapping, undercover police officers, and he arrested some druggies/town board members.

I thought we could arrest our way out of this problem," Masters says.

Pro-druggers organized a party and burned Masters in effigy. Sky Walters, now the undersheriff, worried they'd burn him in person. Masters thought he'd never get re-elected sheriff. Since then, he's won seven elections.

Since those early anti-drug days, Masters has changed his thinking, changed his party -- from Republican to Libertarian, and now to Democrat -- and become one of America's most outspoken and honest critics of the War on Drugs.




Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jan 2009
Source: Hattiesburg American (MS)
Copyright: 2009 Hattiesburg American
Author: Earlesha Butler

Forfeiture revenue allocated to the Hattiesburg Police Department over the past six fiscal years has amounted to nearly $1.4 million, most of which was used to purchase new cars, public documents show.

Documents show the department has used its forfeiture revenue for new vehicles and other equipment along with training materials and machinery tools. Recently, HPD allocated forfeiture funds to build a car service center.

"We want to enhance our effectiveness by equipping our officers with the best possible equipment," said Assistant Police Chief Frank Misenhelter, adding that the department's forfeiture revenue varies from year to year. "Vehicles, cameras, computers, surveillance equipment, weapons - that's what we utilize these funds for.

"We've got to give our officers the necessary tools to be effective in fighting crime."

Forfeiture revenue also includes money from different state funds, not just money that is related to drug seizures. Money from processing fees and fines also is listed under forfeiture revenue.

The department received the most forfeiture revenue in the 2007 fiscal year - $473,625. In 2006, the HPD saw $386,626 in forfeiture funds, preceded by $162,716 in 2005 and $237,852 in 2004.

Revenue decreased during the 2008 fiscal year to $120,759. For the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, the department has thus far received $7,890, according to the most recent numbers.

"Those funds must be considered as an additional budget for our agency and must be rebudgeted each subsequent year until these funds are expended," Misenhelter said. "These funds don't replace our agency's normal budget, ( but ) may be used for any law enforcement purpose."




The next time a drug warrior argues that cannabis should go through the same testing and approval process as other herbal medicines, agree with them.

Although they failed to recognize it, cannabis legalization once again took first place in Obama's Ideas for Change contest, and at least one columnist is taking the suggestion seriously.

A woman accused of felony child abuse for giving her 5-year-old daughter one of her roommate's cannabis brownies claims she was disoriented and confused by prescription medications.

Ed Rosenthal was back in court last week arguing that he was not allowed to present a full defense at his second trial in which he was found guilty.


Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Bina Venkataraman
Cited: Cited:

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected the bid of a researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who wants to create the second laboratory in the nation authorized to grow marijuana for medical research.

The ruling was released yesterday, nearly two years after a federal administrative law judge recommended that Lyle Craker, a horticultural professor who specializes in medicinal plants, be allowed to grow marijuana for medical research. The DEA decision called the current supply of marijuana for research "adequate and uninterrupted" and said a second laboratory would not be in the public interest.


Some researchers complain that access to the laboratory's supply is thwarted by a contract it holds with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which must approve permits issued by the Food and Drug Administration or the DEA in a process that can take months to complete.

Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a Belmont-based drug research group that wants to fund Craker's marijuana cultivation, and sponsored the suit that spurred the administrative law judge's recommendation in 2007, calls the Mississippi lab a monopoly. He said his group will file another suit or appeal to the Obama administration.



Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Columbus Free Press (OH)
Copyright: 2009 The Columbus Free Press
Authors: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

The parallels between the 1933 coming of Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama must include the issue of Prohibition: alcohol in 1933, and marijuana today. As FDR did back then, Obama must now help end an utterly failed, socially destructive, reactionary crusade.

Marijuana prohibition is a core cause of the nation's economic problems. It now costs the U.S. more than tens of billions per year to track, arrest, try, defend and imprison marijuana consumers who pose little harm to society. The social toll soars even higher when we account for social violence, lost work, ruined careers and damaged families. In 2007, 775,137 people were arrested in the U.S. for mere possession of this ancient crop, according to the FBI's uniform crime report.

Like the Prohibition on alcohol that plagued the nation from 1919 to 1933, marijuana prohibition (which essentially began in 1937) feeds organized crime and a socially useless prison-industrial complex that includes judges, lawyers, police, prison guards, prison contractors, and more.




Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2009
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Chico Enterprise-Record
Author: Terry Vau

OROVILLE - A Butte County jury will decide whether giving a marijuana- laced brownie to her 5-year-old daughter constitutes felony child abuse by a Chico mother.

The kindergartner was taken to Enloe Medical Center in Chico last April 17, after she reportedly told a school nurse she felt "icky and sloppy."

The child's mother, Madeline McChesney, 32, maintains through her lawyer that a roommate, who had a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana, normally left the drug-laced brownies on top of the refrigerator.

Due in part to several medications that had been prescribed for McChesney earlier that month for depression, the single mother contends she didn't realize the single brownie she gave her daughter from a pan on the kitchen counter contained pot until it was too late.

In an attempt to rebut that claim, the prosecution played a videotaped interview of the little girl for the Superior Court jury, during which she told authorities her mother had given her the "special" brownies about 10 times.

On the witness stand, though, McChesney's attorney, Jodea Foster, got the defendant's daughter to say she rarely remembered ever getting any "sweets."




Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 ANG Newspapers
Author: Josh Richman

SAN FRANCISCO - A lawyer asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn the re-conviction of Oakland's Ed Rosenthal, claiming the "Guru of Ganja" wasn't allowed to present a full, adequate defense at his second trial.

Attorney Michael Clough told a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Rosenthal, now 64, was denied the ability to present witnesses who would corroborate his claim that he honestly, reasonably believed he'd been deputized by the city of Oakland to grow marijuana for area medical marijuana cooperatives, and so was protected from federal prosecution.

California law and Oakland ordinances allow for medical marijuana use, possession and cultivation, but federal law - which bans all marijuana use, possession and cultivation - trumps them. Circuit Judge Richard Paez noted that U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who presided over Rosenthal's trials, had offered to let Rosenthal testify to this belief. But Clough said letting him do so without allowing any corroborating witnesses to testify essentially amounted to compelling Rosenthal to testify in order to mount his defense - and the Fifth Amendment forbids compelling defendants to testify.

Assistant U.S. attorney Kloster Gray argued Rosenthal's good faith "was not relevant to the issue of guilt or innocence," and said Breyer acted properly in refusing to permit irrelevant evidence.

"Growing marijuana is clearly a nefarious activity," Gray said, noting courts have held there's "no local opt-out provision in the Controlled Substances Act."




In the Philippines this week, President Gloria Arroyo anointed herself supreme Drug Czar commander in chief of the island nation, rededicating her administration to the good fight "to eradicate the drug menace," as the Manila Times put it. "I will temporarily act as the czar, or overseer of the war against illegal drugs," proclaimed President Arroyo. All this is in the wake of the "Alabang Boys" scandal, where officials in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency accused officials in the Philippine Justice Department of accepting 50 million pesos in bribes to drop drug charges against several wealthy drug defendants. Heaping abuse on drug users, Arroyo called them "termites" (i.e., insects which may be exterminated).

From British Columbia, Canada: in case you'd forgotten RCMP talking points on the dangers of growing the cannabis plant, Tom Fletcher reminds us in a piece picked up all over Canada, B.C. is "losing [the] war on drugs" because people are growing marijuana ("gangs" of course, you know, with "Asian names"). True, people realize "marijuana, [is] a relatively benign drug". What makes it so bad, Fletcher says, is that the RCMP tells him that "'B.C. bud' has led to many new players in the cocaine trade." What has police upset is that growers adapt faster than they can, Fletcher notes. Fletcher anticipates a flurry of letters-to-editor over this piece. "Before you start e-mailing me about the ultimate futility of prohibiting marijuana, let me say I agree," before he goes on to other police talking points, like those "mandatory minimum sentences for offenders" all of which "sound great" to police and Fletcher, once more prisons are built, that is.

In a nod to the obvious, a U.S. Joint Forces Command report for public consumption last week warned readers Mexico "bear[s] consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse" because of "criminal gangs and drug cartels" with "serious implications for homeland security". The annual report "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" lists "security threats" to the U.S. expected in the coming year.

And finally this week, a cogent observation from Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page. "Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs... Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the drug lords' faces." Page's piece follows an El Paso, Texas city council that at first unanimously voted for a measure "supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics," only to reverse such drug war heresy after pressure from prohibitionist officials in Washington D.C.


Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Manila Times (Philippines)
Copyright: 2009, The Manila Times
Author: Angelo S. Samonte

President Gloria Arroyo appointed herself on Tuesday as the "czar" that would lead the government's fight against illegal drugs to show her administration's seriousness to eradicate the drug menace.

"I will temporarily act as the czar, or overseer of the war against illegal drugs. Then, I will turn over the job to the tandem of Tito Sotto and Jionex Santiago," President Arroyo said in a statement during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting in Malacanang.


The President's decision to lead the fight against banned substances was hailed by leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives.

"The drug problem is worse than the problem of terrorism," Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said. "I am glad that the President is now our anti-drug czar, because all executive officers are under her. She can order a review of all drugs cases dismissed and their revival if warranted."


The anti-drug agency has had a run-in with the Department of Justice over the case of the "Alabang Boys"--three young men from rich families who are detained on drug charges. From the case emerged allegations made by the agency that Justice officials, including state prosecutors, received P50 million in bribes in exchange for the dropping of drug-trafficking charges against the "Alabang Boys." The officials denied the charges.

Leave Begins

On Monday, five officials of the Justice department began their indefinite leave of absence that the President had asked them to do over the bribery allegation.


War vs. 'Termites'

She likened illegal drugs to termites that tear down the foundation of families and the entire society and "a country awash with illegal drugs is a country compromised, its law-and-order institutions tainted and corrupted."



 (19) B.C. LOSING WAR ON DRUGS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2009
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Black Press
Author: Tom Fletcher

VICTORIA - There's one area of B.C. business investment that's seen a boom in rural areas. Unfortunately, it's organized crime.


Last fall RCMP confirmed results of a two-year investigation that found eight properties with buildings fitted for large-scale marijuana growing.


Nine Lower Mainland residents, all with Asian names, were charged.


The problem goes beyond marijuana, a relatively benign drug. Bass noted that the popularity of "B.C. bud" has led to many new players in the cocaine trade. Even small local groups tend to have ties to bikers in southern B.C. who have developed lucrative bud-for-blow arrangements reaching down to South America.


Gangs adapt quickly, buying power instead of stealing it, or going off the grid with generators in remote places. Small towns have few police resources, and can't afford electrical inspection teams on their own.


Before you start e-mailing me about the ultimate futility of prohibiting marijuana, let me say I agree.


Needless to say, Stephen Harper's Conservatives aren't keen. They prefer mandatory minimum sentences for offenders, which sounds great until you look at the state of our court and prison system.




Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez

EL PASO -- Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."


Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa instructed his embassy and consular officials to promote a positive image of Mexico. He's also vowed to continue the crackdown on drug cartels.


 (21) DRUG WAR NEXT DOOR  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Clarence Page


Something drastic needed to be done, O'Rourke, a fourth-generation El Paso resident, decided. A proposed City Council resolution called for more federal action on both sides of the border to reduce the flow of guns and drugs.

But it wasn't strong enough. O'Rourke pushed things further by adding 12 words: "supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics." The council passed it unanimously. Yet, even a bid to talk about drug legalization was too much for El Paso Mayor John Cook. He vetoed the bill, partly out of concern that Washington might not take the measure seriously with the drug legalization line in it.

Nevertheless, the controversy brought what has been rare American media attention to Mexico's crisis by turning it into radio and cable-TV talk fodder. That's a start.


When you take a broad look at Mexico's growing carnage, it's easy to see why El Paso's city leaders think drug legalization doesn't look so bad. Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the drug lords' faces.

Clarence Page is a member of the Tribune's editorial board.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Bill Conroy, Narco News and the Narcosphere

What is the new administration going to do about all those cocaine-laden planes connected to covert operations that keep crashing in Latin America?


Mr. Walter has cashed his check.

Pete Guither, DrugWarRant

BONGS AWAY!  ( Top )

How the crusade against drug paraphernalia punishes controversial speech.

By Jacob Sullum


By Stanton Peele


Century of Lies - 01/13/09 - Loretta Nall

Loretta Nall regarding the starving of prisoners by an Alabama Sheriff + Terry Nelson of LEAP goes to El Paso, EP councilman Beto O'Rourke, KHOU take on EP call for legalization & Lou Dobbs shows his brain is full of mush.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/14/09 - Fred Burton

Fred Burton, author of "Ghost - Confessions of a Counter Terrorism Agent" & Marijuana Policy Project grades the Bush Administration + Terry Nelson reports for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition


Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


Prohibition militarizes police, enriches our enemies, undermines our laws, and condemns our sick to suffering.

By Radley Balko


Legalization won't end the violence, but it will fry plenty of brains.

By David Freddoso



The Obama transition team have opened discussion for how to most effectively turn ideas into a successful national campaign, and would love your suggestions on how to bring about this Idea for Change.


In response to the Mexican drug war taking place on their border, El Paso City Council, Texas, has taken the courageous step of calling on Congress to discuss drug legalization as an option for ending the damage caused by prohibition.

Why not send a message of support to the Council?



By Tom Uffner

A recent front-page story said, "Police and city officials blame the spike in violence on a loose judicial system and entrenched social problems, such as unemployment, school dropouts and drug abuse."

Allowing a ludicrous statement like this to go unchallenged is the sort of irresponsible journalism we've come to expect from publications that support the so-called War on Drugs, and it shouldn't fool us anymore. Why can't they just be honest and call it drug law-related violence?

Delaware's judicial system is anything but loose: we are number one in the U.S. for per capita prison rate. That is not a statistic to be proud of.

There might be less unemployment if many inner city residents didn't have criminal records making it difficult for them to get jobs.

And there is no violence associated with the legal drug trade. If CVS opens a store across the street from Happy Harry's, it does not lead to a bloody turf war. Disputes between pharmacists and customers do not result in shootings.

Tom Uffner Newark

Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jan 2009
Source: News Journal, The (Wilmington, DE)


2008 - A DrugSense Retrospective  ( Top )

By Richard Lake

2008 saw 11,442 new news clippings added to the Media Awareness Project archives. Of these about six thousand were about marijuana or hemp.

Over a half million different readers from about 125 countries accessed the clippings during the year. Selections of the 600 most read clippings by area of the world can be found at the following links: 2008 in Review - Australasia 2008 in Review - Asia 2008 in Review - Canada 2008 in Review - South America 2008 in Review - United Kingdom 2008 in Review - United States

During the 2008 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Conference the Hunter S. Thompson NORML Media Award was presented to the Media Awareness Project in memory of Derek Rea.

The year 2008 was good for our Letter to The Editor writing activists - even though wars, the election, and the economy tended to push reform issues off the pages of newspapers - with 1,862 letters printed that we know of as shown at . DrugSense recognizes the accomplishments of letter writers at

The Media Contact On Demand database now contains 31,147 records and is being continuously updated. More reform organizations are using this amazing free resource .

Thirty-three Focus Alerts and four DrugSense Insider Newsletters, were produced covering a wide range of topics.

It has also been a busy year for the Drug Policy Central webmastering/website hosting team supporting 124 reform websites and over 200 email lists and forums.

An Acceptable Use Policy was introduced. The Acceptable Use Policy is designed to help protect Drug Policy Central, its clients, and the Internet community from irresponsible or illegal activities.

DrugSense introduced a new activist Board of Directors composed of Don E. Wirtshafter, J.D., Chair; Mark Greer, President and Executive Director; Mary Jane Borden, MBA, APR, Secretary and Business Manager; Matt Elrod, Webmaster and Senior Tech Support; and Tom Angell, Media Relations Director for LEAP

We have probably left out something we did during the past year that is important to you, but it is hard to keep on top of all that happens at DrugSense.

DrugSense thanks you all, our friends and supporters, for all you have done to support the effort in this past year.

Because the economy, and the stock market, has hit some major DrugSense funders hard we know that some will decrease funding during 2009. Thus DrugSense asks for your financial support to help us keep doing what we do.

Please visit

Thank You.

Richard Lake is the Senior Editor of MAPInc. He prepared this piece as one of the Focus Alerts released regularly by DrugSense.


"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." - Edward R. Murrow

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 ( and Stephen Young, International content selection and analysis by Doug Snead (, Cannabis/Hemp content selection and analysis, Hot Off The Net selection and Layout by Matt Elrod ( Analysis comments represent the personal views of editors, not necessarily the views of DrugSense.

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.



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