This Just In
(1)Justice Dept. Seeks Equity in Sentences for Cocaine
(2)Editorial: Fairness in Drug Sentencing
(3)Mexican Drug Fight Nets 60,000 Suspects
(4)Minnesota Senate Approves Medical Marijuana

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 30 Apr 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore

A senior Justice Department official urged Congress on Wednesday to lower the mandatory minimum prison sentence for the sale and possession of crack cocaine to match the punishment for powder cocaine, eliminating arbitrary sentencing disparities that have resulted in many more African-Americans' being jailed for longer terms.

It was the first time such a high-level law enforcement official has endorsed legislation to eliminate inequities in cocaine sentencing. Barack Obama, while campaigning for the White House, had called for an end to the disparity.

"Most in the law enforcement community now recognize the need to re-evaluate current federal cocaine sentencing policy and the disparities the policy creates," the official, Lanny A. Breuer, the chief of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department, testified before the Crime and Drugs Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Under current federal laws, conviction for the sale and possession of 50 grams of crack cocaine is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison; it takes 5,000 grams of powder cocaine to trigger the same punishment under the guidelines.

Mr. Breuer said that as of 2006, 82 percent of people convicted of federal crack cocaine offenses were African-American, and 9 percent were white. In that same year, 14 percent of federal powder cocaine offenders were white, 27 percent were African-American and 58 percent were Hispanic.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the subcommittee chairman, said he was a proponent of the two-tiered sentencing structure when it was adopted in 1986 during an epidemic of crack cocaine use. But Mr. Durbin said that he and other early supporters, including Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is now vice president, changed their minds as they learned more about the drug.




Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company

Congress's decision to mandate longer prison terms for people arrested with crack cocaine than those caught with the powdered form of the drug was both irrational and discriminatory.

The theory behind the law, that crack -- cocaine cooked in baking soda -- was more addictive and led to more violent crime was soon proved false. But by then, the country was locked into a policy under which the mainly minority drug users arrested with small amounts of crack were getting harsher sentences than white users caught with far larger amounts of powder.

The United States Sentencing Commission, which sets sentencing guidelines for the federal courts, reports that in 2006, 82 percent of the people convicted under the federal crack statute were black and only 9 percent were white. Many of the people given those harsh sentences were also first-time offenders who could have been rehabilitated through community-based drug treatment programs. In addition to ruining countless young lives, the policy undermined trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.

Congress has repeatedly ignored calls to equalize sentencing, partly because Justice Department officials in previous administrations have argued against it. This week, however, Lanny A. Breuer, the new chief of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, told lawmakers that it was time to revisit the crack/cocaine disparity.




Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Authors: William Booth and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post Foreign Service

2-Year Battle Also Raises Rights Questions

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities have arrested more than 60,000 people in connection with drug trafficking over the past two years, according to government statistics from a nationwide crackdown that has also led to dramatic increases in violence and allegations of human rights abuse.

The detention figures, obtained by The Washington Post, represent the first public accounting of the government's offensive against Mexico's powerful drug cartels. President Felipe Calderon declared war against the traffickers shortly after taking office in December 2006, giving the military unprecedented law enforcement duties.

Drug trafficking in Mexico employs an estimated 150,000 people, according to U.S. officials, so 60,000 arrests could represent progress in the fight against the cartels.

But the Mexican attorney general's office said it was unable to disclose how many of the detainees remain in custody or whether they had been charged with crimes related to drug trafficking. In Mexico, it is not unusual for suspects to be arrested, paraded before television cameras but later quietly released without being charged with a crime.

The statistics reveal the expanding reach of the Mexican military in the drug war. From December 2006 to March this year, according to the Defense Ministry, the army had arrested 12,251 people, nearly one-quarter of the drug-related arrests reported by the government. Since 2007, monthly detentions by the military rose 129 percent, the figures show. The military said it had arrested only those who were caught in the act of committing a crime.




Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 2009
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2009 Star Tribune
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)

Lingering Doubts About the Potential for Abuse Could Block the Bill in the House or Draw a Pawlenty Veto.

After a debate pitting compassion for those suffering from the pain of cancer or HIV-AIDS against concerns about abuse and violence from expanded availability of a "gateway drug," the Minnesota Senate gave tentative approval Wednesday to the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state.

The 36-28 vote came despite questions about whether the measure fully defines who would be eligible and whether it provides proper safeguards against potential abuse.

Law enforcement has consistently opposed medical marijuana, but Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, chief author of the bill ( S.F. 97), said during debate that the measure is a medical issue, not one for "our brothers and sisters in blue."

The Senate has approved medical marijuana legislation in the past, but it has always stalled in the House. Advocates believe they have enough votes to pass it there this year, but it seems less likely they have enough to override any possible veto from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has expressed reservations about the bill. The bill could be heard on the House floor next week.

"I'm here to tell you there is potential opportunity for abuse here, and kids are watching to see what we in the Legislature are going to do," said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, a former county sheriff.





An interesting article out of a California weekly newspaper compares and contrasts two individuals involved on opposite sides of the medical marijuana movement. While fair to both sides, the article offers some interesting insights into the psychology and tactics of the anti-medical marijuana movement, which tends to include serious support from law enforcement. In another story which hints at the undue power of law enforcement in discussions over drug reform, a deputy chief of a Hawaiian police department claims to be offended over criticism of DARE. And, elsewhere, the discussion over the future of drug policy continues, while medical marijuana advocates in New Hampshire are advertising on TV.

 (5) DRUG WARRIORS  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Inland Empire Weekly (Corona, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Inland Empire Weekly
Author: David Silva

Meet Paul Chabot and Lanny Swerdlow, enemy combatants in the battle over medical marijuana--and the war just got personal

In war, the distinction between the good guys and the bad guys often depends on which side of the battle lines you happen to be standing.

But with the war on drugs, fought everywhere--on the borders and in the streets, in the courts and playgrounds, in schools and legislatures and often even in the home--figuring out where the battle lines lay is difficult at best. And nowhere are the battle lines blurrier as in the fight over the medical use of marijuana.

Inland Empire residents Paul Chabot and Lanny Swerdlow are foot soldiers in that battle: Their individual missions perfectly encapsulate the scope of the medical-marijuana dispute.

Swerdlow, founder of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project and operator of the THCF Medical Clinic in Riverside, has dedicated his life toward lifting the legal and cultural barriers against the use of pot for medicinal purposes. He firmly believes marijuana to be a remarkably beneficial herb, cheap and easy to cultivate and benign on the system, criminalized for no other reason than to line the pockets of law-enforcement types like Chabot.

Chabot, co-founder of the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition in Riverside, has similarly dedicated himself to fighting people like Swerdlow. Chabot believes that Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in California, is a bad law and bad public policy, that pot is a gateway drug responsible for the ruination of far too many of the nation's youth, and that people like Swerdlow are little more than glorified drug pushers.

Were they born in a different time, it's possible the two men might actually enjoy the other's company. Both are intelligent, informed and affable. Both are passionate about what they do, and consider themselves dedicated servants to the public good. But in the here and now, 13 years after the passage of Prop. 215, Chabot and Swerdlow are sworn enemies.




Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser

WAILUKU -- The Maui Police Department calls state Rep. Joe Bertram III's criticism of its DARE program "offensive."

In a letter sent last week to MPD, Bertram suggested that the department eliminate marijuana eradication programs and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which has police officers teaching an anti-drug and anti-alcohol curriculum in elementary and intermediate schools.

Eight Maui police officers, including ones in Hana and on Molokai and Lanai, teach in 26 public and private schools throughout Maui County. The instruction, which includes teaching children to resist peer pressure, occurs for students in kindergarten, third and fifth grades and either seventh or eighth grades.

In the letter dated April 15, Bertram said the DARE program "has proven to be unsuccessful." He said the marijuana eradication program "infringes on the privacy of medical marijuana patients, and the noise ( from helicopter surveillance ) is a disturbance of the peace."

Bertram's letter said he was suggesting that the two programs be cut because the state and counties are facing a budget crunch.


Responding to Bertram's letter, Maui police Deputy Chief Gary Yabuta said, "We were quite aware of Representative Bertram's position on the legalization of marijuana issue. However, we find his criticism of the DARE Program offensive."




Pubdate: Sat, 25 Apr 2009
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Neal Peirce, Syndicated columnist

America's "drug war" myth has been that anything short of severe criminal penalties leads to massive drug abuse, escalating crime and worse. But in Portugal, none of the predicted parade of horrors has occurred. Decriminalization -- rather than legalization -- could this be the sane middle ground we need here, too?

The criminal factor is being lifted from marijuana use in California. The other 12 states where marijuana is permitted for medical use can't be far behind.

And if 13 states now, then all 50 in the next years?

That's the future some see flowing from a decision announced Feb. 25 by Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Holder announced, would stop its raids on marijuana dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes.

The order spells a refreshing respect for states' rights. In California, where hundreds of new dispensaries are springing up to meet demand, customers need only produce a physician's recommendation in order to buy marijuana. California law allows pot to be dispensed for "any illness for which marijuana provides a relief." Back pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, glaucoma -- virtually any condition can now be claimed.

Perhaps no line can be drawn between serious conditions for which marijuana is a godsend, relieving many patients suffering excruciating pain, and simple recreational use.

And then there's the sheer numbers issue. Surveys show 100 million Americans at some point in their lives have smoked pot. It's time to ask: What's government doing prohibiting marijuana in the first place?

In California alone, the marijuana market is already estimated to total $14 billion a year. Legislation pending in Sacramento would regulate the trade and yield the state $1.3 billion in revenues. In an America whose revenue-hungry state governments have already gone hog-wild legalizing another practice once thought evil -- gambling -- what's so different about marijuana?

And there's a parallel. At the height of the Great Depression, state governments drowning in red ink seized the opportunity to repeal prohibition of alcohol as a way to institute legal taxes and fill their empty coffers.

The myth we need to break is that the use of mind-altering drugs is really different from a whole range of activities that humans have engaged in since the dawn of time.

I'd put gambling on that list, but even more deeply entrenched are alcohol, drugs and sexual practices. All have legitimate roles; each, depending on its form and application, can be seriously abused. A mature society warns of problems but holds back on prohibition -- and sensibly, because rules of total denial will be broken anyway.




Pubdate: Thu, 30 Apr 2009
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2009 Telegraph Publishing Company

CONCORD - The campaign to let the chronically and terminally ill legally use marijuana hit the airwaves today.

A 30-second commercial promoting the legislation and urging Gov. John Lynch to support it began on WMUR-TV and on Comcast cable stations.

The ad features Sandy Drew, 55, of Allenstown, a retired nurse diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Drew, 55, was a registered nurse at Concord Hospital until her retirement in 2001.

"We think this is the right time to be delivering this message directly to Governor Lynch that this would offer relief of suffering to many people in this state," said Matt Simon, executive director of the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

"The governor needs to hear stories like Sandy's and many others. They sell the need for this law a lot better than I ever could."

The ad will be broadcast for at least the next week, Simon said.



COMMENTS: (9-12)

The homemade submarine: once it was only for drug smugglers, but innovations in that industry has made the shipping method popular elsewhere. In Canada, the train towards a more punitive drug policy seems to find support in some quarters. And, in Philadelphia, some are starting to question the wisdom of heavy reliance on confidential informants for police work.

 (9) DRUG-SUB CULTURE  ( Top )

Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2009
Source: New York Times Magazine (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: David Kushner

THE CRAFT FIRST surfaced like something out of a science-fiction movie. It was November 2006, and a Coast Guard cutter spotted a strange blur on the ocean 100 miles off Costa Rica. As the cutter approached, what appeared to be three snorkels poking up out of the water became visible. Then something even more surprising was discovered attached to the air pipes: a homemade submarine carrying four men, an AK-47 and three tons of cocaine.

Today, the 49-foot-long vessel bakes on concrete blocks outside the office of Rear Adm. Joseph Nimmich in Key West, Fla. Here, at the Joint Interagency Task Force South, Nimmich commands drug-interdiction efforts in the waters south of the United States. Steely-eyed, gray-haired and dressed in a blue jumpsuit, he showed me the homemade sub one hot February afternoon like a hunter flaunting his catch. "We had rumors and indicators of this for a very long period beforehand," he told me, which is why they nicknamed it Bigfoot.

This kind of vessel - a self-propelled, semisubmersible made by hand in the jungles of Colombia - is no longer quite so mythic: four were intercepted in January alone. But because of their ability to elude radar systems, these subs are almost impossible to detect; only an estimated 14 percent of them are stopped. And perhaps as many as 70 of them will be made this year, up from 45 or so in 2007, according to a task-force spokesman. Made for as little as $500,000 each and assembled in fewer than 90 days, they are now thought to carry nearly 30 percent of Colombia's total cocaine exports.

These subs are the most ingenious innovation in the drug trade. But as Joe Biden told Congress last July, that's not the only reason they pose "a significant danger to the United States." In late January, a Sri Lankan Army task force found three semisubs being built by Tamil rebels in the jungles of Mullaitivu. "With this discovery the [Tamil] will go down in history as the first terrorist organization to develop underwater weapons," the Sri Lankan ministry of defense declared.

Nimmich said, "If you can carry 10 tons of cocaine, you can carry 10 tons of anything."

Bigfoot isn't just a trophy. It's a reminder of the ever-escalating cat-and-mouse game of drug interdiction.




Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2009
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joyanne Pursaga

Winnipeg Police have laid a rare charge that tackles a dangerous form of drug abuse.

Police allege a local convenience store sold mouthwash and hairspray to street people its staff knew would use the products to get high.

The Liquor Control Act charge followed a six-day investigation, said police.

It's alleged the items were sometimes sold in large quantities or at prices inflated from around $3 each to as much as $15 per item to maximize profits.

The offence of "selling a non-potable intoxicating substance for consumption" carries no set fine and the charge was only used a handful of times in the past few years, according to the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.

If the charges prove accurate, we should be grateful police devoted the time and resources to follow this case.

It's disturbing to think any business would target the poorest substance abusers in Winnipeg to make a quick buck.

This is a clientele so desperate to get high they're willing to drink or inhale toxic chemicals in cleaners and toiletries.

They clearly shouldn't be anyone's target market.




Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2009
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 The Calgary Sun
Author: Kevin Martin

Court Rules Search Of Accused Drug Dealer's Home Lawful

Armed and masked cops who stormed the home of an alleged drug dealer with suspected gang ties did not breach his rights, Alberta's top court ruled yesterday.

In a split decision, a three-member Alberta Court of Appeal panel said the way the police conducted the search didn't impact its lawfulness.

But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Clifton O'Brien said cops acted unreasonably when they raided Jason Cornell's Marlborough home, taking down his mentally challenged older brother.

"The trial judge minimized the seriousness of the breach involving the unannounced and violent entry into a private dwelling, such entry including the masking of the police and their weapons drawn," said O'Brien.

The Calgary police TAC team entered Cornell's home the evening of Nov. 30, 2005, bashing in the front door while wearing balaclavas, body armour and with guns drawn.

The unannounced "hard entry" was done because police suspected he was an associate of two members of a city gang.

But, O'Brien said the raid was not proportionate to the real risk posed to officers.

"Here, by any objective measurement, the violent entry by masked officers with guns drawn was not responsive to the degree of risk," he said in a written ruling.

Justices Frans Slatter and Keith Ritter both upheld Cornell's conviction, ruling the search and subsequent seizure of 99.4 grams of cocaine from Cornell's bedroom was lawful.



Pubdate: Tue, 28 Apr 2009
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2009 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Authors: Andrew Maykuth and Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writers
Bookmark: (Policing - United States - News)

The Philadelphia Police Department is heavily dependent upon informants to build cases against drug dealers, a reliance whose risks are painfully apparent as a probe expands into the conduct of its undercover narcotics unit.

Officer Jeffrey Cujdik, whose soured relationship with a confidential informant triggered a federal-local investigation into the Narcotics Field Unit, employed informants to justify 95 percent of his drug searches in the last three years, records show.

An Inquirer analysis of 186 search warrants that Cujdik was granted since 2006 shows that the officer cited confidential informants in nearly all his cases. None listed an undercover drug buy that he personally made, and only one listed a buy by another officer.

Rather, confidential informants - often drug dealers themselves who work for cash or leniency - did most of the transactions.

Philadelphia's practices are similar to those of other big-city forces, according to several studies.

Deputy Police Commissioner William C. Blackburn, who oversees the Narcotics Unit as the head of major operations, said there was a reason for the Philadelphia antidrug force's "heavy reliance" on informants.

"Informants give us an opportunity to get into an area where an undercover police officer wouldn't be able to go," he said in an interview last month.

Cujdik's relationship with one informant has shown the weakness of the system.

Investigators began to pursue Cujdik ( pronounced CHUH-dik ) last year after his most productive informant, Ventura Martinez, alleged that the officer had repeatedly fabricated evidence to obtain warrants. In January, Cujdik was put on desk duty and ordered to turn in his service weapon.



COMMENTS: (13-16)

The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed medicinal cannabis regulation in Illinois last week, noting that voters have more compassion and reason than cynical prohibitionists politicians give them credit for.

Surprise, surprise. A recent study has concluded that teenagers use cannabis to self-medicate emotional problems, many having tried and abandoned more harmful drugs and pharmaceutical alternatives.

Canadian courts may have finally forced the government to relinquish its monopoly on large scale medicinal cannabis cultivation, perhaps paving the way for cannabis clubs, collectives and commercial suppliers.

In exchange for non-custodial sentences, Michelle Rainey and Greg "Marijuana Man" Williams, two of the "BC3," have pled guilty to sending cannabis seeds to the United States, leaving Marc "The Price of Pot" Emery to face extradition later this summer.


Pubdate: Tue, 28 Apr 2009
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2009 The Sun-Times Co.

In Illinois, people who suffer from cancer and smoke marijuana to stem their nausea, reduce their pain or improve their appetite -- well, those folks are criminals.

This must end, and fortunately a proposal before state lawmakers would bring much-needed common sense to the medical use of marijuana by legalizing it.

People ravaged with cancer or AIDS or other horrible illnesses don't smoke marijuana to get high.

They smoke pot to reduce the bone-shaking pain and the constant urge to vomit.

For them, marijuana is medicine.

This measure is not about whether lawmakers are sufficiently tough on crime. It's about whether we as a society are caring enough to extend compassion to people who are suffering.

Nor is this an extremist move. Thirteen other states already have legalized the medical use of marijuana.


We suspect many state lawmakers would like to vote for this measure but fear the political backlash, though the vast majority of them come from safe districts.

We suggest they consider a few facts.

By and large, voters are not stupid.

By and large, they understand the difference between legalizing marijuana for severely sick people under tight controls and passing out joints on playgrounds.

The vast majority of voters have a relative or friend who has suffered greatly from cancer, AIDS or another brutal illness.

Are we a compassionate society?

If so, we will pass this bill.



Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009, West Partners Publishing Ltd.

When legal therapies let them down, some teens turn to cannabis, says new study by UBC Okanagan.

The study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy, suggests that around a third of teens who smoke cannabis on a regular basis use it as a medication, rather than as a means of getting high.

UBC Okanagan Professor Joan Bottorff, Chair in Health Promotion and Cancer Prevention and Director of the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, worked with a team of researchers from UBC to conduct in-depth interviews with 63 cannabis-using adolescents.

Of these, 20 claimed that they used cannabis to relieve or manage health problems.

"Marijuana is perceived by some teens to be the only available alternative for those experiencing difficult health problems when legitimate medical treatments have failed or when they lack access to appropriate health care," said Bottorff.

The most common complaints recorded were emotional problems (including depression, anxiety and stress), sleep difficulties, problems with concentration and physical pain.

The teens' experiences with the medical system were uniformly negative.

"Youth who reported they had been prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac or sleeping pills, stopped using them because they did not like how these drugs made them feel or found them ineffective," the authors said.




Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that effectively loosened Ottawa's control over access to medicinal marijuana.

The federal government had essentially controlled a monopoly over medicinal marijuana by concentrating its growth at an underground mine in Manitoba, and allowing only commercial growers to provide the drug to one customer at a time. Authorized patients were also allowed to grow their own supply.

The government had argued that growing its marijuana predominantly at one source was the only way to provide a safe and sufficient supply, but ran out of appeals with yesterday's announcement by the Supreme Court.

"This type of litigation, which was challenging the restrictive nature of the government program, started in 2002," said lawyer Alan Young, who was relieved the long legal challenge appeared to be drawing to a close.

"It's taken seven years for this resolution, and finally Health Canada has their marching orders. Now it's a question of whether we can compel this department to actually do what the courts have said they should do, which is provide compassionate access to people."


"Hopefully some very good cultivators will be supplying medicine to sick people, and Health Canada can then monitor it in a very effective way. That's what I've been telling them for eight years."



Pubdate: Sat, 25 Apr 2009
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The London Free Press

SEATTLE, WA. (CP) -- Two former employees of Vancouver's self- proclaimed Prince of Pot have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Michelle Rainey and Gregory Keith Williams, both of Vancouver, have pleaded guilty.

Thirty-eight-year-old Rainey and 54-year-old Williams were charged along with pot advocate Marc Emery in 2005 to selling seeds over the Internet. A former Londoner, Emery is scheduled for an extradition hearing in Vancouver on June 1.

The U.S. Attorney says that under the terms of the plea agreement, they'll recommend sentences of two years' probation at a sentencing hearing on July 17.

The office says that between 2003 and 2005, Rainey mailed marijuana seeds and growing instructions to customers -- 75% of whom live in the U.S.

Officials say Williams handled phone orders and sold seeds to customers coming into Emery's store in Vancouver and on several occasions in 2004, sold some to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent.


COMMENTS: (17-21)

Honesty and common sense seem in short supply in the Canadian federal Parliament as Stephen Harper's minority right-wing and rabidly prohibitionist regime is pushing a mandatory-minimum bill to jail their fellow Canadians for growing or selling any amount of marijuana. "Currently, marijuana offences comprise more than three-quarters of all drug crimes," writes Keith Vickers in the Miramichi Leader last week. Of course, all the talk about gangs and guns and cocaine is pure window dressing: increasing pot "criminals" railroaded into (privatized) prisons looks like Harper's real growth target.

Meanwhile in Canada, the noisy battle over InSite, (North America's first and only supervised legal injection center) continues, with Harper's political minions leading the appellate Charge of the Heavy Brigade, never a legal cost spared in the effort to jail as many people as possible for drugs. (All at taxpayer expense, of course.) Arguing before the BC Supreme Court, legal representatives for the Harper-controlled federal government argued addicts should inject in back alleys because "it should be stressful to break the law... the government is under no obligation to provide [its citizens] with a safer way of breaking the law... There is no constitutional obligation on the state to provide supervised injection rooms, and there is no constitutional right to inject scheduled drugs."

In the U.K., calls by ardent prohibitionists this week to test "everyone arrested" for "drugs" failed to drown out the seemingly "catastrophic" news that Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) misplaced their "crown jewels - the names, code names, addresses and operational details of dozens of Soca officers and confidential informants" on a USB flash drive lost in the luggage of an agent arriving in Bogota. The snafu was estimated to cost around 100 million pounds to the U.K government.


Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Miramichi Leader (CN NK)
Copyright: 2009 Brunswick News Inc.
Author: Keith Vickers

Bill C-15 -An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other Acts - - deals with many topics, from protection of children from sexual exploitation to animal cruelty offences. But the topic that is creating the biggest fuss is the radical change in Canadian drug policy that, some argue, will further enrich gangsters, create more violence on our streets, and fail to reduce either the demand for, or the availability of, drugs in our society.


Bill C-15 would, among its other provisions, throw people caught with one marijuana plant into the slammer for a minimum of six months. If growing a single plant is done on a property that belongs to another person minimum jail time is nine months. Currently, marijuana offences comprise more than three-quarters of all drug crimes.




Pubdate: Tue, 28 Apr 2009
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Wendy Dueck

Ottawa Shouldn't Make It Easier For Drug Users To Break The Law, Federal Official Tells Court

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver's Insite clinic has become the focus of a constitutional showdown in British Columbia's highest court, where a federal lawyer yesterday argued the government is under no obligation to make it easier for citizens to break the law by condoning a supervised injection site.

"It should be stressful to break the law," Department of Justice lawyer Robert Frater said yesterday in the B.C. Court of Appeal. "The government is under no obligation to provide [its citizens] with a safer way of breaking the law."


"Where the law stands between ill people and the health care they need, that law deprives those people of their rights to life and security of person," said Mr. Arvay, who is representing PHS Community Services in the case.

Without Insite, addicts will inject in back alleys and flophouses, putting themselves at risk of death and disease and potentially passing on infections to others, he added.

The Appeal Court hearing, scheduled for three days this week, is the latest skirmish in a long-running battle over Insite, a Downtown Eastside facility that opened its doors in 2003 and has since been the site of more than one million drug injections.




Pubdate: Tue, 28 Apr 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.

( CNS ) A lawyer for the Conservative government says it is not the government's job to provide safe injection sites and there is no constitutional right for addicts to inject illegal drugs.

The comments were made by Robert Frater, a lawyer for the federal attorney-general, during an appeal of a ruling that allows Insite, Vancouver's safe injection site, to stay open.

Last year B. C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield struck down the laws prohibiting possession and trafficking of controlled substances for the PHS Community Services Society, which runs Insite, finding the laws prevent access to health care services for drug addicts.

But during the first of what is expected to be three days of appeal arguments, Mr. Frater told a three-member panel of the B. C. Court of Appeal that the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act does not infringe the charter rights of addicts.

"There is no constitutional obligation on the state to provide supervised injection rooms, and there is no constitutional right to inject scheduled drugs," he said.




Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2009
Source: Scotland On Sunday (UK)
Copyright: 2009 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.
Author: David Leask

EVERYONE who is arrested should be tested for drugs so the nation can tackle the problem of addiction, it was claimed last night.

Neil McKeganey, who leads the Centre for Drug Misuse at Glasgow University, is lobbying police forces and the Government to resume such tests, which are standard practice in the United States.




Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2009
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.

The Panic Spread Fast When an Undercover British Officer Mislaid Key Secrets in a Colombian Airport

AS the plane from Ecuador began its descent into the Colombian capital of Bogota, Agent T must have felt a shiver of excitement about her new assignment.

She was being posted to the drugs capital of the world - where she had secured a role gathering intelligence in the war against the global cocaine trade worth UKP 50 billion a year.

An undercover customs officer with Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), she would be responsible for dozens of undercover agents providing vital information on Colombia's drugs cartels. The job involved liaising with MI5 and MI6, the British security and intelligence services, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

In her handbag was a memory stick full of secret information that she had personally downloaded from computer systems at her old office, the Soca station in Quito, capital of Ecuador. On it, sources say, were "Soca's crown jewels" - the names, code names, addresses and operational details of dozens of Soca officers and confidential informants.



 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Eight years ago, Portugal had a devastating drug problem. But instead of declaring a war on drugs, the government decriminalized everything from marijuana to heroin and cocaine. Many call it a success and some say countries such as Canada should follow Portugal's example.


By Jose Luis Sierra , New America Media

Mexican citizens face the constant threat from organized crime and the force that is supposed to protect them: the military.


The Supreme Court imposes long-overdue limits on car searches.

By Jacob Sullum


Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, was a guest on last night's Colbert Report. Drawing on the numbers of people locked up for drug offenses and the escalating prohibition-related violence in Mexico, Nadelmann argued for an open, honest and public debate on making marijuana legal. (U.S. only)


By Jasmine Tyler and Anthony Papa


Century of Lies - 04/26/09 - Tony Newman

Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance on the overwhelming swing in stance for the media + Howard Wooldridge in the Washington Post & "most interesting man in the world."

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/29/09 - Nora Callahan

Nora Callahan, director of November Coalition for prisoners rights + Terry Nelson for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

 ( Top )

On April 29, medical marijuana bills passed in the Minnesota and New Hampshire senates, and a bill creating medical marijuana "compassion centers" passed in Rhode Island's senate. That's the first time three major medical marijuana bills have passed in three separate legislative bodies on the same day.

by Dan Bernath


"Fear drives the global war on drugs"


Chairman of House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Introduces Bill to Assess U.S. Counternarcotics Policies


Orange County CA retirees demand access to medical marijuana


By Aaron Houston

So far, President Obama has been reluctant to spend political capital on marijuana issues -- but there's good reason to hope for change.



4 in 10 Have Smoked It, and Millions Are Still Getting Busted

By Joshua Holland

The Obama administration is giving mixed signals on its pot policies despite a tidal shift in social views on legalizing marijuana.


By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director



The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the U.S., is hiring a Director of State Campaigns '" to oversee MPP's ballot initiative campaigns from MPP's Washington, D.C. headquarters '" and a campaign manager for a ballot initiative in Nevada.

To apply, please see MPP's application guidelines at and follow the instructions there.


The publications manager is responsible for overseeing the production of all DPA printed materials including reports, newsletters, fact sheets and brochures as well as maintaining and facilitating consistent organizational usage of the DPA style guide, glossary and identity guidelines



By Anthony Maenza

Michael Hiltzik criticizes the methods used to estimate California's marijuana crop, but he never gives the value of or even mentions California's biggest legal crop. This leaves readers in the dark. How are we expected to make a comparison? We are still left wondering if pot is, in fact, the biggest cash crop.

There are not "reasonable arguments on both sides" of the debate of whether to legalize marijuana. There is nothing reasonable about prohibition; it squanders finite resources, creates drug cartels and overcrowds prisons. And in an allegedly free country, there is nothing reasonable about having to ask the government's permission to use a substance that -- at worst -- only hurts oneself.

Anthony Maenza Oceanside

Pubdate: Sun, 26 Apr 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)


Cannabis Science Inc. Reports on Prospective Life Saving Treatments  ( Top )

Cannabis Science Inc. (GFON) an emerging pharmaceutical cannabis company, reported today on the current state of development of its whole-cannabis lozenge in response to Homeland Security Administration Secretary Janet Napolitano's declaration of a public health emergency to deal with the emerging Swine Flu pandemic. The Company's non-toxic lozenge has properties that could alleviate many of the symptoms and harmful effects of the H5N1 bird flu and H1N1 swine flu viruses, and has offered its assistance to HSA today in a letter to Secretary Napolitano. The Company has offered to produce up to 1 million doses of its whole-cannabis lozenge, and provide them to HSA for distribution at cost.

Cannabis Science Inc., President & CEO, Steven W. Kubby said, "We have the science and preliminary anecdotal results confirming the anti-inflammatory properties of our new lozenges and indicating they may present an effective and non-toxic treatment for minimizing the symptoms and harm from influenza infections. Our lozenges appear to down-regulate the body's excessive inflammatory response to the influenza virus, which could reduce the deadly consequences of an infection into something that is more like a common cold. Because of my cancer and diminished auto-immune functions, even common influenza is a deadly threat, and I've had incredible symptomatic relief with the lozenge."

Dr. Robert J. Melamede, Director and Chief Science Officer, stated, "The influenza virus has a unique genetic make up that, in combination with its replicative machinery, has an extraordinary capacity to mutate. As a result, the high lethality of some strains can be attributed to the resulting adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is caused by an excessive immune inflammatory response driven by Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) that leads to the death of respiratory epithelial cells and resulting organ failure. Endocannabinoids are nature's way of controlling TNF activity. Existing peer reviewed publications have shown that phytocannabinoids can prevent this cell death by mimicking the endocannabinoids that nature has selected to prevent excessive inflammatory immune responses."

Dr. Melamede, who is also a researcher and past Chairman of the Biology Department at the University of Colorado Springs (UCCS), cautioned, "Smoked marijuana will not effectively prevent the excessive inflammatory response, despite delivering the beneficial pharmacological agents, due to the irritating, pro-inflammatory nature of smoke. In fact, I believe it will make things worse and should be avoided by infected individuals."

Mr. Kubby added, "If a swine or bird flu pandemic emerges -- and everyone seems to think that it is just a matter of when, not if --, there is simply no time for the usual bureaucratic process. With emergency government approval, we can legally access the huge supply of medical cannabis available in California to produce millions of life saving doses within a relatively short period of time."

Dr. Melamede furthermore stated, "Based upon recent discoveries regarding the role that endocannabinoid system plays in maintaining human health, we have a unique solution to the looming threat posed by deadly influenza strains that we believe, if implemented, could save millions of lives. We will strive for an emergency review of our cannabis extract-based lozenge because we believe its availability will prevent many of the deaths associated with the hyper-inflammatory response associated with known lethal strains of the influenza virus. Current anti-influenza medications have a demonstrated decreased effectiveness against some of these lethal variants. Mankind cannot wait for the emergency situation to materialize. We must be proactive in gaining the necessary governmental approvals to test, and pending the outcome of our studies, produce our lozenge."

Mr. Richard Cowan, Director and CFO, who recently spoke in Mexico City to a conference sponsored by the Mexican Congress, stated, "I believe the Mexican Congress recognizes that doctors should be able to prescribe medical cannabis. We are prepared to work with the government of Mexico to produce similar medical cannabis products to help fight the outbreak there. We look forward to working with Government officials, including Homeland Security, to help advance our treatments for these outbreaks in Mexico, Canada, the USA, and around the world."

For the rest of this press release from Cannabis Science Inc., see


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