This Just In
(1)Sentencing Delayed in Medical Marijuana Case
(2)Hells Angels Informant Paid $2.9M
(3)Drug Cartels Keep Catholic Officials in Fear
(4)Pot Use No Longer An NFL Draft Red Flag?

Hot Off The 'Net
-Drug Truth Network
-Mexico Seeking Permission To Prosecute Drug Mules Caught In U.S.
-Don't Give Salvia The Reefer Madness Treatment / Grant Smith
-Should Charlie Lynch Spend The Rest Of His Life In Jail?
-The War On Pot Is An Abject Failure ... / Jag Davies
-4/20 Celebrations
-Bill Moyers Interviews 'The Wire' Screenwriter David Simon
-NORML Launches TV Ad Campaign On `4/20'

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Scott Glover

A Federal Judge Says He's Inclined to Impose Less Than the Required Five Years on Charles Lynch, Who Ran a Morro Bay Dispensary. Lawyers Are Given Time to File Briefs Before a June Hearing.

The sentencing of a man who has become a key figure in the national debate over medical marijuana was postponed Thursday, with a federal judge saying he was inclined to impose a more lenient sentence than the five years required by federal sentencing guidelines, but questioning whether he had the authority to do so.

"If I could find a way out, I would," U.S. District Judge George H. Wu said. He gave lawyers in the case until June 2 to file briefs regarding the impending sentence of Charles Lynch.

Lynch, 47, ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay on the Central Coast in 2006 and 2007. Despite having the blessing of the city's mayor and other public officials, he was charged with violating federal drug laws for distributing marijuana and was convicted by a federal court jury in Los Angeles last year.

At the hearing Thursday, Wu heard from several character witnesses, including one of Lynch's patients and the young man's father.




Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Paul Cherry, Canwest News Service

Investigation Resulted In 156 Arrests

A retired member of the Hells Angels who was key to the police investigation that has crippled the outlaw motorcycle gang in Quebec had nearly three million reasons to become an informant.

Sylvain Boulanger, 45, a retired member of the gang's Sherbrooke chapter who gave key evidence to investigators with the Regional Integrated Squads, signed a contract that will see him paid $2.9-million, The Gazette has learned. It is believed to be the largest contract awarded to an informant in Quebec.

Details of Mr. Boulanger's 19-page contract came from a source familiar with the Operation SharQc investigation and were confirmed through similar sources.

Madeleine Giauque, the lead prosecutor in Operation SharQc, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Mr. Boulanger was recruited by the police in 2006 and had officially agreed to co-operate with investigators by June 12 of that year. The contract was signed on Sept. 21, 2007, and Mr. Boulanger received $300,000 upon signing. The contract called for him to be paid another $600,000 when more than 120 gang members and associates were rounded up last week.


Continues: :


Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinson, Reporting from Mexico City

Mexico Under Siege

In One Case, Archbishop Hector Gonzalez Calls Attention to a Drug Trafficker in His Neighborhood and Accuses the Government of Ignoring the Situation. The Prelate Later Apologizes for His Comments.

By Tracy Wilkinson, Reporting from Mexico City

In the tense state of Durango, Roman Catholic Archbishop Hector Gonzalez announced over the weekend that the fugitive drug trafficker who tops Mexico's most wanted list was living nearby.

And everyone knows it, he added. Except, it would seem, the authorities, who fail to make an arrest.

A shocking revelation indeed. But in Durango, most local newspapers and television stations declined to report the comments, and for some reason national papers that contained the remarks did not appear on many newsstands.

Was the prelate being censored? "We have no information on that," a Durango government spokesman insisted.

Gonzalez undoubtedly embarrassed regional authorities in Durango, some of whom have long been rumored to be lending support and protection to the fugitive Joaquin Guzman, alias El Chapo, or Shorty. The billionaire head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel has been on the lam since escaping from a high-security Mexican prison in 2001.


Continues :


Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2009 The Tribune Co.
Author: Anwar S. Richardson

TAMPA - In the past, when a college football player would puff marijuana, many NFL teams would pass on drafting him after discovering his illegal drug use.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp saw his NFL stock go up in smoke in 1995 because of alleged marijuana use. Sapp was expected to be a top-five pick, but he fell to No. 12, where the Bucs selected him.

Although rumors have circulated about college players who allegedly have failed drug tests going into this weekend's NFL draft, teams no longer seem fired up about marijuana use.

"As coaches, we're optimistic human beings and we look to the good side of all these kids," said former 49ers and Lions coach Steve Mariucci, an NFL Network analyst. "Even if a kid had an issue and it was true, we feel like we'd like to be able to help them. We'd like to be able to put them into an environment that he can change some of his social habits if he has a problem.

"We take it upon ourselves sometimes as organizations to put an arm around the kid and say, 'Listen, we can make this kid complete again. We can help him out. He can overcome any issues that he might have.'"

The issues college football players face are no different than many Americans.





An editor at Foreign Policy diagnoses the problem with Americans and the drug war. USA Today also printed some common sense regarding the drug war and the need to allow school staff to strip search students. Even the U.S. Supreme Court found a drug war policy objectionable last week. And some interesting advice for cannabis activists if they want to see laws change further.


Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 2009
Issue: May/June 2009
Source: Foreign Policy (US)
Copyright: 2009 Foreign Policy
Author: Moises Naim
Note: Moises Naim is editor in chief of Foreign Policy.

The Washington consensus on drugs rests on two widely shared beliefs. The first is that the war on drugs is a failure.

The second is that it cannot be changed.

Americans are a can-do people.

They tend to believe that if something does not work, it needs to be fixed.

Unless, that is, they are talking about the war on drugs.




Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2009
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Jonathan Turley

Are Zero-Tolerance Policies Turning Schools into Authoritarian Fiefdoms? A Case Today Before the Supreme Court Challenges How Far Schools Can Go.

In Manassas, Va., a 9-year-old student was suspended for giving a friend a Certs breath mint under a policy that not only bans any drugs but also anything that looks like a drug. A girl in Oklahoma was suspended for bringing a prescription hormone tablet to school to deal with her ovarian disease. At least 20 students in four states have been suspended for bringing Alka-Seltzer to their schools. Under zero-tolerance policies, officials across the country have been suspending kids for possession of aspirin, cough medicine and even sunscreen. The question is what lessons are being taught to our children about basic rights of speech, privacy and due process. Even more troubling, what type of citizens are we shaping in this increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian atmosphere?




Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Pubdate: 22 Apr 2009
Author: Jess Bravin

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court ruled that police couldn't search the car of a person arrested unless the officer's safety was threatened or there was reason to think the car contained evidence of a crime, reviving a constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

The court effectively closed a loophole opened in a 1981 opinion that has been widely interpreted to allow police, without a warrant, to search cars--as well as bags or containers within them -- when they arrest a driver or passenger.

Tuesday's 5-4 decision scrambled the court's typical ideological lineup, with conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joining liberals John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the majority. Dissenters included liberal leaning Justice Stephen Breyer, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has frequently cast the court's deciding vote in other cases.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stevens cited one of the landmark opinions of the court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, which held that warrantless searches are inherently unreasonable apart from "a few specifically established and narrow exceptions."

"Officer safety and evidence preservation," often significant concerns during arrests, fall among those exceptions, Justice Stevens wrote, so police can search areas of the car within reach of the suspect for weapons or evidence. If they turn up evidence of a different crime during such a search, it can be used against the suspect.




Pubdate: Sun, 19 Apr 2009
Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Camera.
Author: Ryan Morgan

Corry Urges Advocates To Participate In Politics

A self-described conservative "soccer mom" told marijuana legalization advocates that they'll need to do more than smoke pot in public to get drug laws changed during a speech on the University of Colorado campus Saturday.

Jessica Corry, the executive director of the Colorado Civil Rights initiative, said 4/20 "smoke-out" events like the one planned for Farrand Field on Monday are a good way to bring attention to the issue.

But she said people fighting marijuana prohibition also need to participate in the political process -- and, she said, advocates need to show lawmakers a sober, serious side as well.

"They're laughing at us," she said. "The 4/20 events are fine... but let's also get people down to the Capitol in suits." Corry's speech kicked off a two-day "National Forum on Marijuana," hosted by the CU-Boulder chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.




Drug war violence, and violent responses to that violence, continue to advance in shocking ways. In Canada, women are targeted more often in gang hits. The drug war at the U.S.-Mexico border seems to have found its way to Alabama. And, drug suspects are among the many who will soon be added to federal DNA databases. In California, one U.S. Attorney pushes the boundaries of drug prosecutions, irritating many others in the judicial community.


Pubdate: Sun, 19 Apr 2009
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Katie Mercer

Since Feb. 3 Four Females With Links To Gang Activity Have Been Targeted, Gunned Down

In a year that has seen a maelstrom of targeted shootings in B.C., the code of "no women, no children" seems to no longer abide.

Since Feb. 3, four women with links to gang activity have been gunned down in targeted hits, an anomaly in the Lower Mainland's male-dominated gangland violence.

"We haven't seen this very often; we certainly can say we've seen an increase in the number of women which appear to be targeted," said Cpl. Dale Carr, spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. "This indicates that women are not exempt from being tar- geted." First there was Brianna Kinnear, then Nikki Alemy, then Laura Lamoureux and last week Betty Yan. All four had links to either drug or gang activity. All four were gunned down in targeted shootings.

The murders seem anomalous, said gang expert Michael Chettleburgh, because we haven't heard much of this before. "We are going to see more of [these targeted hits] in the future because more women are getting involved in the game," he said.

That wasn't the case 15 years ago, when veteran gangsters upheld common street rules best documented by rapper Tupac's "Code of Thug Life." New gangsters don't subscribe to this code, said Chettleburgh, because "anyone's fair game" -- women included.




Pubdate: Mon, 20 Apr 2009
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Knight Ridder
Author: Pauline Arrillaga, AP National Writer

COLUMBIANA, Ala. -- Five men dead in an apartment.

In a county that might see five homicides in an entire year, the call over the sheriff's radio revealed little about what awaited law enforcement. A type of crime, and criminal, once foreign to this landscape of blooming dogwoods had arrived in Shelby County. Sheriff Chris Curry felt it even before he saw the grisly scene. He called the state. The FBI. The DEA.

"I don't know what I've got," he warned. "But I'm gonna need help."

The five dead men lay scattered about a living room. Some showed signs of torture: Burns seared into their earlobes revealed where modified jumper cables had been clamped as an improvised electrocution device. Adhesive from duct tape used to bind the victims still clung to wrists and faces.

As a final touch, throats were slashed, post-mortem.




Pubdate: Sun, 19 Apr 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore

Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants -- the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants.

The F.B.I., with a DNA database of 6.7 million profiles, expects to accelerate its growth rate from 80,000 new entries a year to 1.2 million by 2012 -- a 17-fold increase. F.B.I. officials say they expect DNA processing backlogs -- which now stand at more than 500,000 cases -- to increase.

Law enforcement officials say that expanding the DNA databanks to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. They point out that DNA has helped convict thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.

But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society.


Sixteen states now take DNA from some who have been found guilty of misdemeanors. As more police agencies take DNA for a greater variety of lesser and suspected crimes, civil rights advocates say the government's power is becoming too broadly applied. "What we object to -- and what the Constitution prohibits -- is the indiscriminate taking of DNA for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting, drug convictions," said Michael Risher, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.




Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2009
Source: Recorder, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 ALM Properties, Inc.
Author: Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO - U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello wasn't scheduled to talk Saturday at the Northern District's annual conference in tony Yountville.

But with some popular demand, Russoniello decided to leave his home in a nearby stomped-grape purlieu to face defense lawyers and some judges over his office's stiff new charging policies. This resulted in heated - - and occasionally ugly - exchanges, as well as a picture of the federal bar that is deeply divided about the right way to approach criminal justice.

At one point, K&L Gates partner Jeffrey Bornstein - himself a former federal prosecutor - questioned Russoniello on his office's use of higher mandatory minimums to pressure defendants into pleading guilty without fighting their cases. If a prosecutor really believes that a particular defendant deserves a 20-year prison sentence, Bornstein said, then the government should just file that defendant's prior drug conviction at the outset, and then litigate the case.

By making the longer prison sentence contingent on a defendant's willingness to fold - without regard to the individual circumstance - prosecutors are abdicating their discretion across the board, Bornstein said, and making it impossible for defense lawyers to advise their clients.

"When was the last time you handled a drug case?" Russoniello asked, prompting drawn breaths in the room.

"I've got three," Bornstein shot back.

The weekend confrontation was the latest in a running controversy in Northern California. Since taking over as U.S. attorney, Russoniello has argued that by using mandatory minimum sentences as leverage, his office can more efficiently close cases. In one matter last week, Judge Maxine Chesney validated the government's strategy of hiking one defendant's prison time because he wouldn't snitch.




New York is poised to become the 15th state to regulate medicinal cannabis.

The New York Times honored 4/20 by taking note of the shifting zeitgeist surrounding the herb.

The bad news is that cannabis arrests continue to rise wherever rights to privacy and personal autonomy erode, such as schools, colleges and universities.

Say what you will about the political effectiveness of large, open air cannabis rallies, but they continue to demonstrate the benign nature of cannabis culture and the absurdity of cannabis "crimes." There is no international day for celebrating methamphetamine.


Pubdate: Wed, 22 Apr 2009
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Author: Tom Precious, News Albany Bureau

ALBANY -- Long-stalled efforts to permit the medicinal use of marijuana in this state appear to have a good chance of passage before lawmakers end their session in June. It would make New York the 15th state to legalize the drug for medical reasons.

Advocates say they believe the Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly have the votes to pass legislation permitting qualified patients to grow their own marijuana plants, or obtain the drug on the streets or through a state-sanctioned dispensary. Gov. David A. Paterson also is said to be supportive of the legalization.

"It's looking pretty darn good," Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat and Health Committee chairman, said of the bill's chance to become law this session.

The lawmaker, who has sponsored the measure for years, renewed a public push Tuesday, using the cases of two New Yorkers who have turned to marijuana to relieve their chronic pain as evidence of the need for the bill.

"I'm looking for all the help we can get to get this passed," said Joel Peacock, a Buffalo resident and self-described conservative, who turned to the drug in the past to help with severe pain he still feels from a 2001 car accident.

The effort was jump-started by the Obama administration's decision in February to stop raids on marijuana-dispensing centers in California, where medical marijuana is legal. U. S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. signaled that federal prosecution would cease in states that legalize medical marijuana, even though U. S. law bans the drug's use.

The Assembly is considered certain to pass the measure. Advocates are working on the Senate , where control switched in January to Democrats from Republicans.


Paterson's office said the governor is not taking a stance on the bill, but sources described him as very supportive and said he even offered to introduce his own legislation legalizing medical marijuana.


The most vocal opposition comes from the state's small but influential Conservative Party, which helped to kill the 2007 bill in the Republican-led Senate.

"If this passes, this is the beginning of a slippery slope that opens the door to legalize drugs," said Michael R. Long, the party's chairman.




Pubdate: Mon, 20 Apr 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Kevin Moloney

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Monday, somewhere in New York City, 420 people will gather for High Times magazine's annual beauty pageant, a secretly located and sold-out event that its sponsor says will "turn the Big Apple into the Baked Apple and help us usher in a new era of marijuana freedom in America."

David Perleberg sold pro-marijuana T-shirts at the forum, including one that shows the university's buffalo mascot inhaling.

They will not be the only ones partaking: April 20 has long been an unofficial day of celebration for marijuana fans, an occasion for campus smoke-outs, concerts and cannabis festivals. But some advocates of legal marijuana say this year's "high holiday" carries extra significance as they sense increasing momentum toward acceptance of the drug, either as medicine or entertainment.

"It is the biggest moment yet," said Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, who cited several national polls showing growing support for legalization. "There's a sense that the notion of legalizing marijuana is starting to cross the fringes into mainstream debate."

For Mr. Nadelmann and others like him, the signs of change are everywhere, from the nation's statehouses -- where more than a dozen legislatures have taken up measures to allow some medical use of marijuana or some easing of penalties for recreational use -- to its swimming pools, where an admission of marijuana use by the Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was largely forgiven with a shrug.




Pubdate: Mon, 20 Apr 2009
Source: Daily Reveille (Louisiana State U, LA Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Daily Reveille
Author: Kyle Bove

Marijuana arrests on campus are rising like smoke.

The LSU Police Department has made 38 drug arrests this semester, and a majority involved marijuana.

LSUPD spokesman Maj. Lawrence Rabalais said the number of marijuana arrests has significantly increased since the implementation of the Crime Interdiction Unit in 2008.

Formed in response to the murder of two University doctoral students in December 2007, the CIU is made up of four officers who patrol campus in plain clothing. Their goal is to stop and identify suspicious people, Rabalais said. Drug arrests nearly tripled between 2007 and 2008 - climbing from 56 to 152.

"Since we have enacted the Criminal Interdiction Unit, they are making more stops for probable causes such as expired license plates, speeding and red light [violations]," Rabalais said. "In doing so, it has become more apparent to them - through the number of increased violator stops - that people are using marijuana."

Rabalais said if an officer smells marijuana during a traffic violation stop, he or she will question the driver.

"Typically, the persons admit to either having the marijuana in the vehicle or having smoked the marijuana - subsequently giving consent to search," Rabalais said. "Most people - whether they have marijuana in there or not - allow the officers to search."

If someone smoked marijuana before driving and smells because of it, officers cannot arrest the driver for marijuana possession. A driver can also refuse to give consent to search, but officers can still detain the driver and get a search warrant.


Many marijuana violations occur in residence halls too. Rabalais said officers can only search rooms if they have probable cause - like smoke billowing from the room, for example. If there's more than one person living in a room, officers can only search the consented person's portion of the room.




Pubdate: Wed, 22 Apr 2009
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Winnipeg Free Press

On Monday, Winnipeg Police Inspector Dave Thorne stood atop the Legislative Building's steps and gazed out at a throng of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people publicly -- flauntingly -- breaking the law by smoking marijuana, and observed: "Our view is this is a worldwide protest for the proponents of decriminalizing marijuana. From a police point of view, it's more about providing a safe environment for people to express their views. It doesn't mean we promote the breaking of acts or statutes, but we're trying to be realistic."

In cities across the country the same scene played out as marijuana militants advocated for the legalization, or at least the decriminalization, of marijuana, and even more politically unmotivated just-plain-potheads took advantage of 4/20 -- which might be called International Marijuana Day -- to take a hoot in public without fear of being harassed or arrested.

It was almost certainly the greatest day for criminal activity in the history of Canada, with thousands of crimes being committed across the country -- or one crime being committed thousands of times, depending on how one interprets it -- while the police looked on benignly. In Ottawa, police turned the same blind eye as they did in Winnipeg. In Vancouver, they did not even bother to show up for the well advertised crime spree.

Some Canadians, some police officers, politicians and prosecutors, might argue that the police were being derelict in their duty, which is to arrest people when they see crimes being committed. Many more, however, would argue that the police on Monday demonstrated a finer sense of responsibility in their common sense and restraint than the federal government has shown so far in its stubborn and indefensible persistence in keeping the possession and trafficking of marijuana a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. As Insp. Thorne said, the police "are trying to be realistic." Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government -- almost the last, lorn opposition to reforming Canada's marijuana laws -- could learn a lesson from the Winnipeg police.




As DrugSense Weekly has been shouting for years now, in Canada, the right-wing government of Stephen Harper is now openly going after small-time marijuana sellers and growers ("including growing as little as one pot plant"). Using the pretext of 'drug gang wars' (Canada has but a tiny fraction of the gun crime of its neighbor to the south), the minority conservative Harper government is proposing private-prison-packing mandatory minimum sentences for anyone growing any amount of cannabis. The bill, C-15, is expected to be close, and the Conservative party is piling it on thick, scapegoating people involved with pot, who, "belong in jail because pot is used as a 'currency' to bring harder drugs into the country."

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, warned this week that use of drugs must be decriminalized in order to help halt the spread of Aids. "A repressive way of dealing with drug users is a way of facilitating the spread of the [HIV/Aids] epidemic," says Global Fund director, Michele Kazatchkine. "From a scientific perspective, I cannot understand the repressive policy perspective."

According to the prohibitionist narrative, drugs are illegal to protect citizens from harm. If illegal drugs are legalized (says the prohibitionist) then use of drugs will skyrocket - as the only thing that prevents most people from taking drugs is police, and the threat of arrest and imprisonment. While this sounds plausible enough, when put to the test, it doesn't really hold up. In an article appearing in this week's Vancouver Sun, Peter Mcknight details the drug war myths deflated by the real-world reality of drug decriminalization in the nation of Portugal. Drug use rates have not risen (to the contrary); while, at the same time, the health of drug users has improved.

And finally this week, when Cheech and Chong begin to poke fun at the establishment over the issue of marijuana, the boys in blue know what to do: hassle the usual suspects, shaking them down for a little grass. It happened this week in Sydney on the "Cheech and Chong Light Up Australia tour," when police suspected some of the audience might be in possession of a certain illicit herbal substance. Stopping the show and calling in "25 police and four drug dogs... 50 people were searched." Result of this super-sleuthing? "[S]ix were issued with caution notices. They were not fined nor charged."


Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest News Service

Canada's justice minister says people who sell or grow marijuana belong in jail because pot is used as a "currency" to bring harder drugs into the country.

"This lubricates the business and that makes me nervous," Rob Nicholson told the Commons justice committee Wednesday as he faced tough questions about a controversial Conservative bill to impose automatic jail and prison sentences for drug crimes, including growing as little as one pot plant.




Pubdate: Sun, 19 Apr 2009
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Mary O'Hara, The Observer

The use of illicit drugs must be decriminalised if efforts to halt the spread of Aids are to succeed, one of the world's leading independent authorities on the disease has warned.

In an unprecedented attack on global drugs policy, Michele Kazatchkine, head of the influential Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has told the Observer that, without a radical overhaul of laws that lead to hundreds of thousands of drug users being imprisoned or denied access to safe treatment, the millions of pounds spent on fighting HIV and Aids will be wasted.

Kazatchkine will use his keynote speech at the 20th International Harm Reduction Association conference tomorrow in Bangkok to expose the failures of policies which treat addiction as a crime. He will accuse governments of using what he calls "repressive" measures that deny addicts human rights rather than putting public health needs first.

He will argue that governments should fully commit to the widespread provision of harm reduction strategies aimed at intravenous drug users, such as free needle exchanges and providing substitutes to illicit drugs, such as methadone.

"A repressive way of dealing with drug users is a way of facilitating the spread of the [HIV/Aids] epidemic," Kazatchkine said. "If you know you will be arrested, you will not go for treatment. I say drug use cannot be criminalised. I'm talking about criminalising trafficking but not users. From a scientific perspective, I cannot understand the repressive policy perspective."


What is needed, Kazatchkine will argue tomorrow, is a total rethink of drugs policies. "What I'm saying is that government's function is to protect their citizens. This is why harm reduction should be supported by all governments everywhere."



Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Peter Mcknight

Both Drug-Related Pathologies And Overall Drug Use Have Decreased There Since Its Drug Law Was Moderated

With Mexico being increasingly rapidly and increasing visibly crushed by its war on drugs, some politicians in Mexico and the United States have dared to suggest that decriminalization is the answer.

According to these politicians, decriminalization would allow governments to switch their focus from supply reduction to demand reduction, and to redirect funds away from law enforcement and toward treatment. The end result, they argue, would be a reduction in the harms caused by substance use.

Advocates of criminalization suggest the opposite would occur. Decriminalization would send the message that drug use is acceptable, they argue, thereby leading to an increase in use and drug-related harms.

The trouble with these arguments, which we've heard a million times, is that they take place in an empirical vacuum. Given the lack of empirical evidence, we're left to speculate about the effects of decriminalization and, since it might lead to greater harm, many people are persuaded that it's best to leave bad enough alone.

The trouble with this is that empirical evidence does exist. Although it seems to be the world's best-kept secret, Portugal formally decriminalized possession of all illicit drugs in 2001. And its experiment has provided us with a wealth of empirical evidence about the positive effects of decriminalization.

According to American constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who produced a report on Portugal's drug policy for the Washington-based Cato Institute, decriminalization has led to a reduction in drug-related pathologies -- precisely what advocates predicted -- and a reduction in drug use -- precisely the opposite of what opponents feared.


Now that the evidence in favour of decriminalization is in, politicians should no longer be permitted to corral support for criminalization by stirring up public fear of a bogeyman that doesn't exist.



Pubdate: Fri, 17 Apr 2009
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 Herald and Weekly Times

Cheech and Chong fans be warned, authorities aren't seeing the funny side of wacky weed, busting several fans for cannabis possession interstate.

The irreverent U.S. comedians and hippie culture advocates Cheech and Chong's Sydney stand-up show was the target of a police drug operation.

The '70s stoners, who are part-way through their Cheech and Chong Light Up Australia tour, had to delay the start of their show at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney's Newtown on Wednesday, while police carried out the search with sniffer dogs.

About 25 police and four drug dogs were involved.


About 50 people were searched and six people were caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The six were issued with caution notices. They were not fined nor charged.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Century of Lies - 04/19/09 - Mike Gray

Mike Gray, chairman of Common Sense for Drug Policy regarding his recent OpEd in the Washington Post, Radley Balko of Reason Magazine, Bill Moyers speaks to writer David Simon of the Wire + The Abolitionists Moment

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/22/09 - Buford Terrell

Buford Terrell, professor of law + Terry Nelson of LEAP, Family Guy sings for marijuana & DTN Editorial


By Bill Conroy

Leaked memo reveals Customs and Border Protection less than keen on proposal


By Grant Smith

Move over marijuana. There's a new media sensation.


Or Even a Single Day, For Operating a Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensary?

By Nick Gillespie


Now's the Time for a New Approach

By Jag Davies

Calls for a new international framework for narcotics control are growing.

4/20 CELEBRATIONS  ( Top ) (Colorado) (San Francisco) (Vancouver)


From crime beat reporter for the Baltimore Sun to award-winning screenwriter of HBO's critically-acclaimed The Wire, David Simon talks with Bill Moyers about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today.


By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director





With prohibition-related violence along the Mexico-U.S. border, increasing budget woes that require cheaper and more effective alternatives to incarceration and New York headed for a new direction in drug policy, it's time to step up the pressure on Congress to end the drug war. A good start would be eliminating the unfair difference in sentencing for crack versus powder cocaine.



By Wayne Clark


The decriminalization of marijuana is a no-brainer. There is no question that the war on drugs has been a total failure and a total waste of taxpayer money. We have wasted trillions of dollars trying to enforce a flawed ideal.

We see the end results in the papers and on the news every day, gangsters shooting each other to get control of the outrageous profits from illegal drugs. We are also ruining other countries with our irrational behavior, for example, Mexico, Colombia where the government is afraid to arrest drug cartel members, even Afghanistan and we know where those illegal drug profits go - to fund the terrorists that are killing our soldiers.

These gangsters have more money than the governments that are trying to run these countries. The champions of continuing this insanity will tell you that the policy isn't bad we just haven't enforced it severely enough. Well you only have to look at America to see the folly of that statement.

One out every 100 Americans is behind bars and almost half are there as a result of drug charges, which gives America the highest incarceration rate in the world. In fact you would have to give them an A for effort on fighting the so-called drug war, but quite simply prohibition doesn't work, never has, never will. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Wayne Clark Maple Ridge

Pubdate: Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Source: Maple Ridge Times (CN BC)



By Mark Greer

As Quoted from 2008 News Clippings in the MAP DrugNews Archive

While the U.S. deficit approaches $1 trillion, many states and local communities also face major budgetary shortfalls. Yet, despite the economic crisis, your tax dollars continue to fund drug war costs like these:

$40 billion for the drug war. "Despite a $40 billion-a-year 'war on drugs' and political speeches about a 'drug-free society,' our society is swimming in drugs: cigarettes, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, Viagra, steroids and caffeine."

$700 million to build prisons in just one state; $100 Million per year to run them. "[The state prison in Scotland County, North Carolina] is one of six that state lawmakers have approved since 2001 to address a dire need for prison space, and they are already being expanded. When complete, the construction and expansions at all six facilities will have cost more than $700 million and operating costs will top $100 million annually."

$400 million more to Mexico. "This past June [2008], Bush struck a deal with Calderon to approve $400 million toward additional drug war assistance (representing a 20% increase in the Mexican anti-narcotics budget) -- for still more helicopters, military training, ion scanners, canine units, and surveillance technology."

$225 million for regional anti-drug efforts. "It [High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program] is one of 28 similar efforts nationwide, with the federal government spending about $225 million annually to coordinate federal, state and local law-enforcement campaigns."

$702,969 to prosecute drug offenses in just one U.S. county. "Lake County [Illinois] will spend $702,969 prosecuting drug offenses this year . Except for an estimated $30,000 in revenue from asset forfeitures, county taxpayers absorb the difference."

$178,290 for drug testing in just one school district. "A $178,290 drug prevention grant means 5,900 drug tests for the Victoria [Texas] school district."

$615,000 for all kinds of things. "[Sheriff] Smith Used $615,000 in Federal [forfeiture] funds for Tuition, a Lease, Private Lawyer and More .. $14,400 on employee training and associated travel . a 28-foot boat . $100,000 for a scholarship at Georgia State University . About $9,000 to help a boxing club owner pay her lease . $4,000 in retainer fees for Brunswick lawyer."

$60,000 for just one police force to buy drugs. "Estimating controlled drug buys for the average local case run his task force $200, Centeno figured his officers spend at least $60,000 a year just to purchase the drugs they need to seal the average of 300 cases."

What if, instead of spending such shameful sums, we instead taxed and regulated illicit substances?

"By legalising drugs we can apply the same controls to their production, distribution and consumption as we apply to alcohol and tobacco. And there's a triple bonus to society: spending on crime prevention will plunge, not just on drug-related policing but on all the criminality arising from the activities of drug-financed gangs; crime levels overall will plunge; and the government becomes a net recipient of monies from drug consumption rather than a net spender via law enforcement. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that the United States spends $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. If they were legal, the U.S. government would realise about $33 billion a year in tax revenue - a net swing of $77 billion."

If you think that your tax dollars can be better spent, then you know it's time to change drug policy.

Here's what you can do to end our failed and expensive War on Drugs:

A. Join DrugSense or other local, state, or federal groups working on drug policy reform here and around the world. Our Drug Policy Central provides web services to more than 120 drug policy focused organizations. Check out for a group in your area.

B. DONATE. We're able to get the word out about the incredible harms of the drug war and alternatives to prohibition because people like you DONATE. It's quick, easy, and secure. Just visit

Help us uncover more government drug war waste.

Get involved. Write. Join. Donate.

Mark Greer is the Executive Director of DrugSense.


"It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy." - Chinese Proverb

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