THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) BILL ON COCAINE VS. CRACK SENTENCING PASSES HOUSE PANEL
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
Copyright: 2009 The Virginian-Pilot
Author: Bill Bartel, The Virginian-Pilot
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott scored a victory Wednesday in his bid to put an end to a law that imposes tougher penalties on people sent to prison for possessing crack cocaine than those who possess powder cocaine.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the 3rd District Democrat's bill, known as the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act, or HR3245.
The bill from Scott, whose district includes Portsmouth and parts of Norfolk and extends up to Richmond, would end a law that requires a mandatory five-year sentence for possession of at least 5 grams of crack cocaine. Someone must possess at least 500 grams of powder cocaine to face the same mandatory sentence.
The tougher penalty for crack was adopted in the 1980s.
If approved, Scott's bill would make no distinction between the two forms of the drug, requiring a mandatory five-year sentence for possessing 500 grams or more of either type.
(2) D.C. OFFICIALS RACE TO RESCUE NEEDLE EXCHANGE FUNDING ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jul 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Darryl Fears, Washington Post Staff Writer
Restrictive Amendment to City's Appropriation Would Cover Most of City
When Congress lifted a 10-year ban on using D.C. tax dollars to provide clean needles to drug addicts in December 2007, it gave the city a powerful weapon in the fight against the spread of AIDS, according to health officials.
"We had a celebration," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton ( D-D.C. ).
But the party could be ending.
This week, Norton and other D.C. officials were racing to persuade congressional leaders to erase a House amendment that would essentially reinstate the ban.
The amendment to the bill that gives the District its federal appropriation for 2010 would prohibit the city from providing money to any needle exchange program that operates within 1,000 feet of virtually any location where children gather.
"It essentially wipes out the program," said Norton, who added that she is calling "my friends in the Senate," asking them to be on the lookout for a copycat amendment to the Senate's version of the bill, which is still in committee.
Last week, a copycat amendment was attached to a separate House bill. It would lift a 21-year ban that prohibits cities from using federal dollars to fund needle exchange programs.
But D.C. officials are more concerned with the bill that covers the District's appropriation, because its restriction cuts deeper than the federal ban. The District, whose budget is overseen by Congress, would again be the only city in the nation barred from allocating both local and federal tax dollars to distribute clean needles.
(3) PHARMACY BOARD SCHEDULES MEDICINAL POT HEARINGS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jul 2009
Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, The (IA)
Copyright: 2009 The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
DES MOINES -- The Iowa Board of Pharmacy has announced the dates and locations of four upcoming public hearings on medical marijuana.
The board is seeking scientific evidence on the pros and cons of using marijuana for medical purposes. The board could decide to make a recommendation to the Iowa Legislature based on the information gathered at the hearings.
The first hearing is set for Aug. 19 in Des Moines. The hearing will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Iowa State Historical Building.
(4) CALIFORNIA'S PROP. 36 DRUG TREATMENT CUT 83 PERCENT ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Bay Area News Group
Author: Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune
If California won't spend the money to treat certain drug offenders and state law forbids jailing them, they're likely to end up right back on the streets, say critics of the state budget agreement.
The Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed to cut Proposition 36 funding from $108 million last year to just $18 million this year, but the underlying sentencing law remains.
"The courts are still obligated to push the people into treatment, knowing that the funds, the programs, the services aren't there," said Haven Fearn, director of the Contra Costa County Health Services Department's Alcohol and Other Drug Services Division. "That's the craziness that everyone is having to deal with. "... What's the answer to that?"
Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance - which essentially was Proposition 36's proponent - said the answer will be "very long waiting lists," and drug users walking free while they wait.
"It's sort of silly, it's awfully close to having just eliminated the program. You get down to such a core level that it's of very little use to most people," said Gary Spicer, management services director at the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency, adding that he anticipates a "push-down effect" in which offenders will have priority claims to a dwindling supply of treatment spots.
"What you wind up with is a treatment delivery system that's monopolized by judicial referrals and no longer available at the community level," he said. "It's a harm that keeps on hurting."
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
In Cook County, Illinois, officials are finally recognizing the realities of cannabis decriminalization, even if they are only taking a baby step toward a better policy. And yet, some in the local media still don't totally get it.
What's up in the Alabama legislature? An employee who apparently took a couple pounds of marijuana into the statehouse kept his job for years after the incident. And, Oregon gets a new industrial hemp law.
(5) STROGER WON'T BLOCK MOVE TO DECRIMINALIZE POSSESSION OF POT ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2009 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Lisa Donovan
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said Thursday he won't stand in the way of legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
This week, the County Board approved a measure allowing sheriff's police to issue a $200 ticket for possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana in unincorporated parts of the county.
The ordinance took Stroger, the sheriff and others by surprise, and the board president said he was mulling a veto.
But Thursday, he told the Chicago Sun-Times he's OK with the legislation, calling it just another option for sheriff's police, who will have the discretion to arrest someone on misdemeanor charges -- particularly a repeat offender.
"I'm fine with it. It's just another tool a law enforcement [officer] can use," Stroger said.
"It's also like anything else, [officers] can also check and see the background of a person, and if they've been fined twice, they can say, 'OK you're going in.' It doesn't take their ability away from doing that," he said.
(6) EDITORIAL: KIND OF DOPEY ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jul 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was surprised this week when an ordinance that would treat marijuana possession much like a traffic offense landed on his desk.
Sheriff Tom Dart -- who you'd think would have been consulted on this one -- was taken by surprise, too.
The measure would give Dart's officers discretion to issue a $200 ticket instead of making a misdemeanor arrest in cases where the suspect was carrying less than 10 grams of marijuana.
Commissioner Earlean Collins, who was distressed that her grandson was busted over "half a joint," introduced the ordinance. Her fellow commissioners obligingly passed it. Stroger, who initially said he "didn't think it's such a great idea," now says he won't veto it. We're not sure who explained to him why it's a good idea after all, but a sheriff's spokesman said Dart's phone did not ring.
Cook County will be far from the first place to decriminalize small amounts of pot. Similar laws began popping up in the '70s, and close to one in three Americans now lives in a jurisdiction where officers are allowed to make similar calls.
Lately, though, the liberalization of marijuana laws is being driven by pot's potential as a revenue source. Prosecuting people for possession costs money; fining them brings in cash. In California, where it's legal ( and exceedingly easy ) to purchase marijuana for "medicinal" purposes, lawmakers are considering whether to tax pot like alcohol or tobacco.
The dispensaries that sell marijuana by prescription already pay business and sales taxes, and this week Oakland residents voted to enact the nation's first "cannabis business tax" on those stores. The state's Board of Equalization recently projected that a proposed statewide tax of $50 per ounce would raise $1.4 billion a year. When you're looking at a state budget deficit of more than $26 billion, that's like, wow, man.
We're grateful that Illinois leaders haven't smoked enough to fantasize about marijuana as a budget booster. It's an illegal drug, remember?
(7) STATE HOUSE DRUG INQUIRY KEPT UNDER WRAPS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jul 2009
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2009 The Advertiser Co.
Author: Markeisha Ricks
The drugs were found in a fifth-floor office in the Alabama State House.
Former state Rep. Bobby Humphryes, R-Pleasant Grove, was leaving the Legislature to become a Jefferson County commissioner and had stopped by to clear out a few more things from his office when he found a black backpack with a scale, a box of plastic bags and a two-pound block of marijuana.
He immediately called House security. After reviewing security camera footage, law enforcement officials saw Lorenza Hooks, a maintenance worker, carrying the backpack into the office just a few hours before Humphryes found it.
That was on Dec. 1, 2006.
Hooks was never charged with a crime in connection to the drugs, and he remained a House of Representative employee for nearly two years after that incident. In May 2008, he was suspended after being arrested as a suspect in a shooting.
Even with a felony arrest hanging over his head, Hooks was promised that he would get his job back with back pay if he was not convicted. In fact, he might still be a House employee if this December 2006 drug incident had not resurfaced this year.
Hooks is now in jail on $1.5 million bond for an unrelated charge -- illegal trafficking of crack cocaine. But instead of bringing closure, his most recent arrest has only raised questions about the drugs that were found in the State House nearly three years ago.
(8) BILL OFFERS PROMISE FOR HEMP ADVOCATES ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jul 2009
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings (OR)
Copyright: 2009 Ashland Daily Tidings
Author: Dawn Hatchard, Correspondent
Industrial Trade Of Product In The Legalization Process
Oregon Senate Bill 676, legalizing the growth, possession and trade of industrial hemp, passed the House on July 2 and is expected to be signed Tuesday.
Uses for hemp span a range of common practical applications including textiles, paper, building products, food, fuel oils and several others. Passing the industrial hemp bill is a step toward Oregon producing and manufacturing these products.
Alfred Hanan, owner of the Hemporium in Ashland, expects to see an immediate positive effect to his business as a result of the state's acceptance of hemp.
"It brings hemp back into the mainstream," Hanan said. "That never should have gone away.
There are no administrative processes in effect for potential farmers yet, but there will be licensing requirements, said Melanie Barniskis of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
The U.S. prison population climbs to another dubious milestone, this time with regard to life sentences. In Illinois, another study shows that racial profiling really does happen. Also, a North Carolina sheriff is proud of his latest drug-war related acquisition; and another illegal drug tax is ruled unconstitutional - this time in Tennessee.
(9) NUMBER OF LIFE TERMS HITS RECORD ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Solomon Moore
CORONA, Calif. -- Mary Thompson, an inmate at the California Institution for Women here, was convicted of two felonies for a robbery spree in which she threatened victims with a knife. Her third felony under California's three-strikes law was the theft of three tracksuits to pay for her crack cocaine habit in 1982.
Like one out of five prisoners in California, and nearly 10 percent of all prisoners nationally in 2008, Ms. Thompson is serving a life sentence. She will be eligible for parole by 2020.
More prisoners today are serving life terms than ever before -- 140,610 out of 2.3 million inmates being held in jails and prisons across the country -- under tough mandatory minimum-sentencing laws and the declining use of parole for eligible convicts, according to a report released Wednesday by the Sentencing Project, a group that calls for the elimination of life sentences without parole. The report tracks the increase in life sentences from 1984, when the number of inmates serving life terms was 34,000.
Two-thirds of prisoners serving life sentences are Latino or black, the report found. In New York State, for example, 16.3 percent of prisoners serving life terms are white.
(10) COPS STILL 'CONSENT SEARCH' MINORITIES' CARS MORE OFTEN, ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jul 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Annie Sweeney
The latest state traffic study on who gets pulled over by police shows once again that minorities are more likely to be the subject of so-called consent searches although police are more likely to find contraband in the vehicles of white drivers.
The results of the annual state study were not a surprise to civil rights activists who are opposed to the searches, which are done with the consent of the driver.
According to the 2008 study, released earlier this month, when a vehicle of a white driver was "consent-searched," officers statewide found contraband 24.7 percent of the time. When a vehicle driven by a minority was searched, officers found contraband 15.4 percent of the time.
"The fact is every single year we see these same numbers," said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois. "There is just a predisposition to believe minorities have contraband. ... The data and the indisputable nature of this is exactly what the president was talking about the other night."
(11) SHERIFF SAYS MUSCLE CAR USEFUL ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2009 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Michael Biesecker
RALEIGH - Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says the Corvette Z06 being used by his deputies to pull over cars on Interstate 40 is a potent tool for fighting illegal drugs.
"We saw a need for it," Harrison said Wednesday about the special-model Chevy that goes 198 mph and was seized from a cocaine dealer. "We're going to get a lot of drugs off the road."
A Wake judge ordered Lawrence Creech Jr., the Corvette's previous owner, to forfeit it to the Wake Sheriff's Office following his arrest in December for cocaine possession and maintaining a vehicle for the keeping of controlled substances, according to court records. The 2007 car has a current retail value of $56,990, according to Kelley Blue Book.
The North Carolina Constitution says all forfeitures and all fines for breaking the state's criminal laws "shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools."
But there is also a state law that says a law enforcement agency in custody of a seized car can "retain the property for official use."
Harrison said Wednesday that he intends to keep the car as long as it proves useful. When his department is done with it, the car will be sold, and the proceeds will go to the Wake County Public School System.
(12) TENN. TAX ON ILLEGAL DRUGS RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press
NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that a state law that taxes illegal drugs is unconstitutional.
The court found in a 3-2 decision that the law, sometimes called the "crack tax," exceeds the state's taxing power because it isn't a tax on "merchants, peddlers and privileges."
But the court also ruled that the law didn't violate constitutional protections against self-incrimination, leaving open the possibility that the General Assembly could develop a new tax on drugs that would be constitutional.
The ruling differed from some of the reasoning of lower courts that struck down the tax because of the self-incrimination issue and because it seeks to generate revenue from illegal activity.
Justice Gary Wade acknowledged in the court's opinion the "enormous burden" using, possessing and selling illegal drugs places on Tennessee.
"... Our legislature is worthy of commendation for its effort to defray the costs incident to the struggle against illegal drugs," Wade wrote.
"Even under these circumstances, however, it is our duty to dispassionately apply the rule of law in a fair and impartial manner, unswayed by genuine public concerns, partisan interests, or fear of criticism."
Cannabis & Hemp-
This Sunday marks the 72nd anniversary of the Marijuana Tax Act, and police across North America have begun their annual eradication operations, but perhaps new this year is an equally absurd effort on their part to explain why legalization isn't a viable alternative.
Maybe drug warriors are finally at least addressing the concept of legalization because it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to marginalize and stereotype those calling for reform. Of course, economic realities also seem to be playing a significant role.
(13) MEXICAN GROWERS HAVING BIG POT YEAR IN STATE ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jul 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Peter Fimrite, Staff Writer
Shasta-Trinity National Forest -- Mexican drug traffickers have expanded their marijuana-growing operations in California parks as state and local governments have tightened spending and slashed jobs and services.
Law enforcement officials say the traffickers, taking advantage of the fact that there are fewer sheriff's deputies and rangers monitoring parks - are cultivating more pot than ever before. This year's multibillion-dollar crop is on pace to be the largest in history, said state officials.
"It's a huge problem," said Gordon Taylor, the assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "California is ground zero for domestic marijuana cultivation in the country."
The illicit crops are believed to be hidden on ridges and in gullies in California's 31 million acres of forest, with most being grown in state and national parks.
So far this year, more than a million plants have been seized by the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP program, according to Michelle Gregory, the spokeswoman for the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and the pot-growing season is not even half over.
"Our whole state is overrun," Gregory said. "It's an epidemic."
Legalization is not the solution, Johnson said, given that most of the pot is being grown illegally on public parkland by foreign citizens who cannot be taxed.
"I've been doing this for five years, and there just seems to be more and more of it everywhere," Johnson said. "We don't even bother with medicinal grows. What we're concerned about is the destruction of the habitat."
(14) EDITORIAL: STOP 'REEFER MADNESS': LEGALIZE MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jul 2009
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2009 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
It's time to legalize marijuana.
Note we did not say it's time to "decriminalize" marijuana. And note we did not say it's time to legalize marijuana nationwide for medicinal purposes only.
It's time to flat-out legalize the production, possession, sale and use of marijuana.
This should be a no-brainer for thinking people. After all, alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century was such a "success," right?
The federal prohibition against marijuana took effect 72 years ago this Sunday. It has flooded our legal system, jails and prisons. It has cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
It also has fueled organized crime and violence on a massive national and international scale.
And it has sent billions of dollars into an underground economic system that could bolster the mainstream economy, especially in these recessionary times.
Indeed, with legalization there must be some commonsense, effective and market-friendly regulation. (Please, no Pennsylvania Marijuana Control Board.)
Marijuana sales should be taxed. (But not at a level that discourages its commerce.)
Use by minors should be prohibited. (Let the debate begin whether that should be under 21 or under 18.)
And the same under-the-influence laws that apply to alcohol and driving should be applied to marijuana.
We're off our conservative rocker, you say? Then late conservative icons William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman were, too.
(15) REPUBLICAN MOMS FOR MARIJUANA: 'TIME TO LEGALIZE IS NOW' ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jul 2009
Source: Colorado Daily (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2009 New Colorado Daily, Inc.
Author: Jessica Peck Corry
It Will Take Conservatives and Women to Help Turn Tide Against Pot Prohibition
BOULDER, Colo. -- As a Republican mother committed to legalizing marijuana, political life can be lonely. But while many in my party whisper about the Drug War's insanity, we should shout it from the rooftop: the time to legalize is now.
Calling for a new approach doesn't make me a pothead. In fact, while I freely admit to having previously smoked marijuana -- as do more than 95 million other Americans, including our last three presidents -- I choose not to be an active marijuana user today.
While opponents may argue that legalization is all about a bunch of twentysomethings wanting to get high, the debate deserves a more respectful and truthful analysis.
If history is any guide, the crucial female voting bloc, including many Republicans, will provide the political will essential to making this happen.
In 1929, it was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform successfully leading the charge to end America's decade-long experiment with alcohol prohibition. While many of these same activists fought just years earlier to forbid booze, they quickly witnessed prohibition's devastating consequences, including increased violence.
Just four years into the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform's repeal efforts, prohibition was over.
Prohibition is a bipartisan creation, lending power to drug cartels and bad public policy. One example: Students convicted of any drug offense can be stripped of all federal financial aid, forcing many out of school and into low-income communities where harsher drugs, including methamphetamine, run rampant.
Courageous conservatives across the country, including Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and former New Mexico Gov. Tim Johnson, have all said yes to legalization.
(16) OAKLAND PROPOSES STATEWIDE SEMI-LEGALIZATION OF POT ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jul 2009
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Times-Standard
Author: Donna Tam
Oakland marijuana activists are looking for nearly 434,000 signatures statewide to support a ballot measure that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of pot.
Organizers filed the measure with the California Attorney General's Office Tuesday with the hopes of getting enough signatures to include the measure -- which would also allow homeowners to grow marijuana for personal use on garden plots up to 25 square feet -- on the November 2010 ballot.
The initiative comes on the heels of several initiatives moving toward legalizing and regulating marijuana, prompting some local activists and officials to point to California's failing economy and changing attitudes as impetus.
"Marijuana is California's largest cash crop," said Greg Allen, an attorney who has been a medical marijuana activist for more than a decade. Allen said the latest movements toward taxing marijuana will have significant economic benefits for the state. Legalizing it would also lower the price of marijuana, possibly leading to less criminalized behavior associated with the underground marijuana market, Allen said.
"If marijuana were legalized in the state of California there would be lower law enforcement costs, pretty much from prosecuting to paper clips to police officers. And, it would clearly lower incarceration costs," he said, adding that law enforcement efforts could then be directed toward other issues of greater concern.
Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp said his department already makes an effort to not go far beyond the necessary boundaries when it comes to marijuana enforcement.
"We make an overt effort not to deal with people who are meeting the legal requirements," he said. "We don't enforce the federal laws, so if people are within legal guidelines, then we move on and are just dealing with commercial illegal efforts."
Philp said some legislators may see the marijuana industry as "a cash cow," one they can regulate and make money off of, but it is difficult to tell how legalization would really play out.
Worldwide cocaine prices are plummeting, indicating increased supply. In the U.K., cocaine prices have fallen so much the Daily Mail newspaper estimates the price for a single line of cocaine at around one 1UKP. This bears out earlier data indicating a world wide cocaine glut, despite a falling U.S. dollar which made cocaine prices appear to rise against some currencies.
In Canada this week, the Canadian Border Services Agency seized 140 kilos of cocaine in British Columbia, the largest (land) seizure of cocaine in Western Canada ever made by the agency. The haul had been stashed onboard a commercial truck and was detected in the city of Abbotsford.
Meanwhile in Mexico, the bloody turf battles for access to lucrative smuggling routes to the U.S. continue unabated while Mexican president Calderon seems likely to continue his use of military force against the cartels. Mexico City researcher Carlos Flores: "I'd like to be more optimistic, but what I see is more of the same polarizing and failed strategy."
And from Afghanistan, a report from the New York Times on the official U.S. change in counternarcotic tactics. Admitted Richard C. Holbrooke, (the Obama administration's special representative) "the Western policies against the opium crop, the poppy crop, have been a failure." "We are reorienting our counternarcotics strategy rather significantly for Afghanistan to put much less emphasis on eradication and to shift the weight of our effort to interdiction," announced Michael G. Vickers, the U.S. "top civilian official for counter-insurgency strategy."
(17) UKP1 FOR A LINE OF COCAINE - SO MUCH FOR THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Author: James Slack
In 1998, Tony Blair promised an unrelenting 'war' on the scourge of drug abuse. Today that policy lies in ruins, with more people than ever using cocaine, and Class A drug taking in general up by 37 per cent in little over a decade.
One key factors is the dramatic fall in the price of drugs. The Home Office's own figures show cocaine is being sold for as little as UKP20 a gram in some areas, while the most common price is UKP40 per gram.
In 1998 the average price was UKP77. It means a line of cocaine can now cost as little as UKP1 - an attractive alternative to a UKP3 pint of lager for a young person on a Friday or Saturday night. Readily available: It's not uncommon to find lines of cocaine at a party, as prices for the Class A drug drop to as little as UKP20 a gram
Of course, the Home Office clings to the fact that, when Class B and C drugs are included, overall drug misuse is down. In these terms, the war on drugs is a success, ministers say.
But, by definition, it is Class A drugs which are considered the most harmful, both to the user and society in general. On this measure, Mr Blair's war on drug is unequivocally lost. His political epitaph is a country now considered the cocaine capital of Europe.
(18) ABBOTSFORD COCAINE FIND BIGGEST IN WESTERN CANADA ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Abbotsford Times
Huntingdon border officers in Abbotsford recently seized 140 kilograms of cocaine, making it the largest land border seizures ever made by the Canadian Border Services Agency in western Canada, it said.
CBSA officers discovered 144 bricks of cocaine on July 19 while searching a commercial truck and trailer.
(19) MEXICO URGED TO CHANGE DRUG WAR STRATEGY ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jul 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: William Booth and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post
US-Backed Plan Not Working, Say Political Leaders
MEXICO CITY - President Felipe Calderon is under growing pressure to overhaul a US-backed antinarcotics strategy that many political leaders and analysts said is failing amid stunning drug cartel assaults against the government.
There are now sustained calls in Mexico for a change in tactics, even from allies within Calderon's political party, who say the deployment of 45,000 soldiers to fight the cartels is a flawed plan that relies too heavily on the blunt force of the military to stem soaring violence and lawlessness.
"The people of Mexico are losing hope, and it is urgent that Congress, the political parties, and the president reconsider this strategy," said Ramon Galindo, a senator and Calderon supporter who is a former mayor of Ciudad Juarez, a border city where more than 1,100 people have been killed this year.
US officials said they now believe Mexico faces a longer and bloodier campaign than anticipated and is likely to require more American aid. U.S. and Mexican officials increasingly draw comparisons to Colombia, where from 2000 to 2006 the United States spent $6 billion to help neutralize the cartels that once dominated the drug trade. While violence is sharply down in Colombia, cocaine production is up.
Mexico, nearly twice Colombia's size, faces a more daunting challenge, many officials and analysts said, in part because it is next to the United States, the largest illegal drug market in the world. In addition, at least seven major cartels are able to recruit from Mexico's swelling ranks of impoverished youth and thousands of disenfranchised soldiers and police officers.
"The question is whether the country can withstand another three years of this, with violence that undermines the credibility of the government," said Carlos Flores, who has studied the drug war extensively for Mexico City's Center for Investigations and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology. "I'd like to be more optimistic, but what I see is more of the same polarizing and failed strategy."
In Mexico, neither high-profile arrests nor mass troop deployments have stopped the cartels from unleashing spectacular acts of violence.
Lawmakers in Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, debated this month whether Calderon's surge was "a total failure." Antonio Andreu, president of the state legislature's commission on security, said it appears drug gangs have infiltrated the military's intelligence networks and figured out how to circumvent Juarez's gantlet of security forces.
Hector Hawley Morelos, the state forensics chief for Juarez, said he expects this year to be bloodier than the last. He said the soldiers don't help solve crime cases and often get in the way of investigations.
But Calderon has no intention of changing course, according to senior Mexican officials. In some respects, the government has become more combative.
(20) U.S. SHIFTS AFGHAN NARCOTICS STRATEGY ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON - The American-led mission in Afghanistan is all but abandoning efforts to destroy the poppy crops that provide the largest source of income to the insurgency, and instead will take significant steps to wean local farmers off the drug trade - including one proposal to pay them to grow nothing.
The strategy will shift from wiping out opium poppy crops, which senior officials acknowledged had served only to turn poor farmers into enemies of the central government in Kabul. New operations are already being mounted to attack not the crops, but the drug runners and the drug lords aligned with the insurgency.
Michael G. Vickers, the Pentagon's top civilian official for counter-insurgency strategy, said Thursday that the specifics of the new antidrug effort still needed to be worked out, but that a decision had been reached on the new focus.
"We are reorienting our counternarcotics strategy rather significantly for Afghanistan to put much less emphasis on eradication and to shift the weight of our effort to interdiction," Mr. Vickers said.
The new strategy will "particularly focus on going after those targets where there is a strong nexus between the insurgency and the narcotics trade, to deny resources to the Taliban," he told a group of reporters.
One short-term solution being urged by senior Defense Department and military officials would be to pay Afghan farmers not to plant poppies in the next growing season.
Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, briefed allies on the shift last month, and has said that "the Western policies against the opium crop, the poppy crop, have been a failure." Allied officials at the recent meeting of the Group of 8 industrial countries welcomed the change.
Past efforts that focused on eradicating the poppy crop in Afghanistan "wasted hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars" and "did not result in any damage to the Taliban - but they put farmers out of work and they alienated people and drove people into the arms of the Taliban," Mr. Holbrooke said last month.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
IS BIG PHARMA TRYING TO TAKE ALL THE FUN OUT OF POT? ( Top )
By Steven Wishnia
Drug researchers are trying to replicate marijuana's therapeutic effects, but without the "side effect" of getting people high.
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Century of Lies - 07/26/09 - Paul Armentano
Paul Armentano of NORML takes listener calls in the first 1 hour Drug Truth Network call in show in more than 6 years. Paul is co-author of a new book: "Marijuana is Safer, So Why are We Driving People to Drink?"
THE DRUG CZAR'S RESPONSE TO OUR LETTERS ( Top )
by Ben Morris
Last week, several thousand MPP members called and e-mailed the White House to express outrage at drug czar Gil Kerlikowske's statement that "marijuana is dangerous and has no medical benefit." A big thanks to everyone who took action!
This week, the White House started sending out a form letter in response to our concerns. As you can see from the letter, the old half-truths and outright lies from the Bush administration still infect the drug czar's position on marijuana.
THE UNION ( Top )
The Business Behind Getting High
A well made documentary about cannabis and drug prohibition is now available on DVD.
UKDPC CALLS FOR TACTICAL STRIKES IN THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
In its report "Refocusing Drug-Related Law Enforcement to Address Harms" released today, the UKDPC suggests that we need to get smarter in focusing law enforcement to reduce the harms associated with illegal drugs and illegal drug markets.
MARIJUANA IS SAFER ( Top )
Next week, SAFER will launch "Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?," the highly acclaimed new book that promises to change the way people think -- and talk -- about marijuana.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
Write A Letter ( Top )
Mendocino County Marijuana - A DrugSense Focus Alert
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
THE MONEY'S DOWN THE DRAIN ( Top )
Re "Where our money goes" by Kevin Wehr and students ( SN&R Essay, June 25):
The "war on drugs" is certainly where a lot of our money goes.
After 10 years of sobriety, I returned to active drug use and am completely unable to see where our "war on drugs" has made any difference in a decade. I have seen slight differences--like how the number of individuals [who] will commit a crime to support their habit seems to have risen. I wonder how many billions of dollars have been spent to achieve this milestone, while our children's schools are crumbling around them and millions of citizens have no health insurance, people are losing jobs and soda pop is killing more people from diabetes then illicit drugs are killing addicts.
We spend billions to destroy the supply which raises the price so that the traffickers ( who usually reside in a foreign country ) make more money, while the users ( in our country ) go broke, thus leading to such crimes as assault, murder, home invasions, kidnapping, robbery, theft, child endangerment, starvation, domestic violence, prostitution, fraud, terrorism ... and I could go on and on.
Instead, we could be spending our tax dollars right here in the good old United States by attacking the demand and helping addicts. That would create jobs, severely cut crime and end the never-ending corruption in drug-producing countries like Afghanistan, Colombia and so on.
At least 500 economists ( including Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith ) have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand. The increased profits encourage the production of more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect.
A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy--$44.1 billion from law-enforcement savings and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ( $6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs ). Recent surveys help to confirm the consensus among economists to reform drug policy in the direction of decriminalization and legalization.
Why do the taxpayers in this country allow our government to beat a dead horse? The citizens can effect any change they wish--and not just by voting--but by knowing and communicating with their elected officials.
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jul 2009
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
Why Not Prohibit Smoking? ( Top )
By Tony Newman
Cigarettes kill; 400,000 people die prematurely every year from smoking. When we analyze the harm from drugs, there is no doubt that cigarettes are the worst.
They kill more people than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and all other illegal drugs combined.
More than 800,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana, the vast majority for possession, yet all the data from studies that compare the two substances show that cigarettes are more harmful to an individual's health. If we make these other drugs illegal, shouldn't we outlaw the leading killer?
Considering how we deal with less harmful drugs, making cigarettes illegal seems logical. Over the past decade, we have seen, in states from California to New York, increasing restrictions on when and where people can smoke -- and even momentum toward tobacco prohibition.
Smoking is banned in bars and restaurants and on some university campuses. People can now be fired from their jobs because they can't give up smoking. We have seen parents denied adoption rights if they smoke. In some cities, it is nearly impossible to smoke anywhere besides your own home.
The Drug Policy Alliance sponsored a Zogby Poll in 2006, and we were shocked to find that 45 percent of those polled supported making cigarettes illegal within the next 10 years. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, it's more than 50 percent.
But with all of the good intentions in the world, outlawing cigarettes would be just as disastrous as the prohibition on other drugs. After all, people would still smoke, just as they still use other drugs that are prohibited, from marijuana to cocaine. But now, in addition to the harm of smoking, we would find a whole range of "collateral consequences" that come along with prohibition.
A huge number of people who smoke would continue to do so, but now they would be considered criminals. We would have parents promising their kids that they will stop smoking but still sneaking a smoke.
We would have smokers hiding their habit and smoking in alleys and dark corners, afraid of being caught using the illegal substance. We would have cops using precious time and resources to hassle and arrest cigarette smokers. Our prison overcrowding crisis would rise to an unprecedented level with "addicts" and casual cigarette smokers alike getting locked up.
We would have a black market, with outlaws taking the place of delis and supermarkets and stepping in to meet the demand and provide the desired drug.
Instead of buying your cigarettes in a legally sanctioned place, you would have to hit the streets to pick up your fix. The cigarette trade would provide big revenue to "drug dealers," just as illegal drugs do today. There would be shootouts in the streets and killings over the right to sell the prohibited tobacco plant.
We have tried prohibiting cigarettes in some state prisons, like in California, and we have seen that smoking continues, with cigarettes traded illicitly. There is a violent black market that fills the void and leads to unnecessary deaths over access and the inflated profits.
Luckily, no one is proposing making cigarettes illegal. On the contrary, our public health campaign around cigarettes has been a model of success compared with our results with other prohibited drugs. By placing high taxes on cigarettes, restricting locations where one can smoke and banning certain kinds of advertising, we have seen a significant decline in the number of people who smoke.
Instead of giving teens "reefer madness"-style propaganda, we have treated young people with respect and given them honest education about the harm of cigarettes, and we have been rewarded with fewer young people smoking today than ever before.
Although we should celebrate our success and continue to encourage people to cut back or give up smoking, let's not get carried away and think that prohibition would eliminate smoking.
We need to realize that drugs, from cigarettes to marijuana to alcohol, will always be consumed, whether they are legal or illegal. Although drugs have health consequences and dangers, making them illegal -- and keeping them illegal -- will only bring additional death and suffering.
Don't just take my word for it. Take it from the news anchor who was called the most trusted man in America, Walter Cronkite.
Here is what he said about prohibition and our war on drugs: "I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost -- and the shock when, 20 years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along. ...
"And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: The war on drugs is a failure."
Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance Network. This piece originally appeared at CNN.com - http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/07/30/newman.tobacco.ban/index.html
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams
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