THIS JUST IN ( Top )
(1) OPED: MEXICO'S WAR ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Pubdate: Fri, 7 Aug 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Denise Dresser
Obama Must Demand an End to Abuses Linked to President Felipe Calderon's Drug Crackdown.
When President Obama goes to Guadalajara, Mexico, this weekend for the North American Leaders Summit, he will surely praise Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the courage he has displayed fighting the war on drugs. The applause is well deserved. Calderon has turned the crackdown on drug traffickers into the centerpiece of his administration and has pursued organized crime with undeniable zeal. But before Obama becomes too effusive and pats Calderon on the back for a job well done, it's important that the U.S. president remember the cost and the consequences of his counterpart's crusade.
In Mexico today, human rights violations committed by the military and the police in this effort are on the rise, yet punishment for the perpetrators remains elusive. So although Obama should recognize Calderon's efforts, he should also insist that drug lawlessness cannot be combated by breaking the law and that the army must be subjected to the kind of scrutiny it has shunned so far.
Today, more than 45,000 soldiers police the roads of Mexico's main cities and drug-producing areas as part of a strategy designed to confront drug traffickers and contain the violence they wreak. Many ring leaders have been captured, many drug shipments have been confiscated and many smugglers have been imprisoned.
But violence remains unabated, and the unintended consequences of Calderon's efforts have become distressingly clear: The number of cases of human rights violations brought before the Mexican Human Rights Commission has risen by 600% over the last two years.
The war on drugs is turning into a war on the civilian population that can't simply be dismissed as collateral damage. Mexico's military is capturing "capos," but it's also raping, extracting confessions through torture and detaining people arbitrarily. Crime is begetting more crime.
(2) ACQUITTED, MEDICAL POT PATIENT LEAVES BOULDER COURT WITH DRUGS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 6 Aug 2009
Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Camera.
Author: John Aguilar
Advocates, Juror Agree That Sick People Should Decide How Much Pot Is Appropriate
BOULDER, Colo. -- Rolling out of the Boulder County Justice Center in a wheelchair Thursday with a jumble of once-confiscated pot in his lap, Jason Lauve smiled and waved to supporters after a jury acquitted him of possessing too much medical marijuana.
Eight men and four women found the 38-year-old Louisville resident not guilty of a felony drug possession charge, as well as lesser charges of possessing marijuana and marijuana concentrate.
Lauve, who was prescribed marijuana to relieve the pain from a back injury, burst out crying, grabbed his defense attorney and nearly fell to his knees when the verdict was announced.
"Thank you so much," he yelled out to the jurors.
Boulder District Judge Maria Berkenkotter had to pause and admonish Lauve's supporters as they applauded and called out during her reading of the verdicts.
She ordered that more than two pounds of Lauve's marijuana supply, which had been confiscated by police in a raid of his home last summer, be returned to him.
"I have a right to live," Lauve said afterward. "All of us as patients have a right to have our own life, not the government's life. We should not be treated like criminals."
(3) POT SMOKE AS DANGEROUS AS TOBACCO: RESEARCHERS ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 06 Aug 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Amy Minsky, Canwest News Service
Marijuana Use Has Been Increasing In Canada As Cigarette Sales Fall
( CNS ) - Smoking pot can cause as much damage to cells and DNA as tobacco smoke, according to a group of Canadian researchers who are challenging the belief that marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes.
Rebecca Maertens, a researcher from Health Canada and co-author of the study, says many Canadians believe marijuana smoke is less toxic and causes less damage than tobacco because pot is "natural."
Despite several experiments that show marijuana use to have adverse health effects, the prevalence of marijuana use in Canada has increased over the past decade, while the incidence of tobacco use has decreased.
Nearly one quarter of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 reported using marijuana in the previous 12 months according to 2006 Statistics Canada report. More than 14 per cent of those said they used the drug on a daily basis.
The team behind this new study suggested that a lack of understanding about the dangers of marijuana plays a part in why youth are so cavalier about smoking it.
Neither marijuana nor the main psychoactive component of the plant, THC, has been shown to cause cancer.
There are, however, substances in marijuana that are very harmful, according to previous studies.
(4) AUTHOR HAS HIGH HOPES FOR NEW BOOK ON MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 9 Aug 2009
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Times-Herald
Author: Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Times-Herald staff writer
Paul Armentano is on a mission.
The 37-year-old Vallejo resident aims to convince the powers that be that smoking marijuana is less dangerous on a number of levels than drinking alcohol, and that laws should reflect that.
He has co-authored a book, "Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?," which is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and will soon be distributed to bookstores nationwide, he said.
"For those who may be initially skeptical of this message, 'Marijuana Is Safer' will change the way you think about cannabis," Armentano said. "And for those roughly 50 percent of Americans nationwide who already support reforming America's draconian pot laws, this book will change the way they talk about marijuana."
A married father of a young daughter, Armentano said he's not a big pot smoker, though he, "like an estimated 100 million Americans, including our present president, have experimented with marijuana, and when I did so I was making a decision to consume a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol. It is illogical and inconsistent for the criminal law to punish people for that decision."
Working with nationally recognized marijuana-policy experts Steve Fox and Mason Tvert, Armentano "compares and contrasts the relative harms and legal status of the two most popular recreational substances in the world -- marijuana and alcohol," according to Chelsea Green Publishing, which is handling the book. "Through an objective examination of the two drugs and the laws and social practices that steer people toward alcohol, the authors pose a simple yet rarely considered question: Why do we punish adults who make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol?"
WEEKLY NEWS IN REVIEW ( Top )
Domestic News- Policy
Commentators (and others) seem to be tiring of the drug policy status quo, especially from politicians who promised to be different.
(5) COLUMN: OBAMA HYPOCRITICAL ON DRUG POLICY ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Copyright: 2009 Sun Publishing Co.
Author: Froma Harrop
The popular TV series "Weeds" is about a widowed suburban mother who deals pot to preserve her family's cushy California dream. Not a few Californians would like to see the theme writ large for their state. California has legalized medical marijuana, its cannabis crop is valued at $17 billion a year, and people there smoke pot openly. But the state can't collect a penny of revenues from the enormous enterprise.
As California faced budget Armageddon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for "a debate" on the potential of tapping marijuana as a source of tax revenues. That's all he can do, because federal law still criminalizes marijuana use.
Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron has calculated the sort of revenues California and other states could see were marijuana taxed like cigarettes and alcohol. California's taxes would easily top $100 million a year.
Oakland pot activists fresh off a victory at local polls on the taxing of medical marijuana took their first official step Tuesday toward asking California voters to legalize pot.
A proposed ballot measure filed with the California attorney general's office would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of pot. Homeowners could grow marijuana for personal use on garden plots up to 25 square feet.
Nationally, legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion a year on drug-war spending, according to Miron. And government could raise $6.2 billion annually in tax revenues.
A vain hope rose that President Obama's naming of Gil Kerlikowske as drug czar would lead to a more rational and humane policy on drugs. As Seattle's police chief, Kerlikowske oversaw the city's annual Hempfest ( a giant and mellow smoke-in ) without bothering the celebrants.
But Kerlikowske announced this month that "marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit." And to end any idea that the hip, liberal Obama administration would ease up on pot, he added, "Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine."
Obama readily admits having used marijuana in his youth ( and cocaine ). And every year, many thousands of Americans are arrested and their lives ruined for doing what he did. Does Obama get to be president only because he wasn't caught?
Miron is a libertarian who sees all drug prohibition as interfering with people's private lives. But he well understands the politics that stop politicians from taking the no-brainer position on marijuana.
"Democrats know that the potheads are going to vote for them anyway," he told me, "and the people on the other side who care about this stuff know that this is really a big deal." If marijuana were legalized, many drug laws would crack.
(6) OPED: THE NEEDLES AND THE DAMAGE DONE ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 3 Aug 2009
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2009 Progressive Media Project
Author: Kai Wright
Syringe Exchanges Are About the Most Logical Thing We Could Do to Stop HIV, but Politics Isn't Logical.
The House of Representatives showed the courage of President Obama's convictions on the needle exchange issue.
Candidate Obama vowed repeatedly to end the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs -- a 21-year-old policy that blocks federal dollars from supporting the most effective, cost-efficient HIV prevention tool ever dreamed up.
President Obama, however, retained the ban in his 2010 budget proposal -- punting the issue to Congress.
But thankfully, late last month the House voted 263 to 153 to lift the ban. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., was instrumental and courageous in getting the bill through the House. It now goes to the Senate.
The funding ban is among the most glaring examples of politics trumping science in modern governance. Congress imposed it in 1988, arguing that by letting addicts swap dirty needles for clean ones, syringe exchanges encourage drug use. But research from all over the world has proved that notion apocryphal. It's now clear beyond a doubt that these programs not only dramatically reduce HIV transmission, they also offer excellent conduits to addiction recovery.
(7) EDITORIAL: PLAYING A DEADLY GAME WITH AIDS ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 5 Aug 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Nearly 600,000 Americans with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic. Nearly a third of those cases can be traced to intravenous drug users who became infected with the virus that causes AIDS by sharing contaminated needles and who sometimes infect wives, lovers and unborn children. Many of the dead would never have been infected if Congress had allowed federal financing for programs that have been shown the world over to slow the spread of disease, without increasing drug use, by making clean needles available to addicts.
A state-financed version of the program has saved thousand of lives in New York City, which cut infection rates among addicts by about 80 percent over several years by giving them clean needles and by working hard to get them into drug treatment programs. But by banning the use of federal dollars for these programs in 1988, in the very teeth of the epidemic, federal lawmakers discarded a powerful weapon in the fight against a deadly disease.
State and federal public health officials, who have long supported the programs, were hoping that the ban would be lifted this year. But a rider attached to two House appropriations bills would actually continue the ban -- in a tawdry, passive-aggressive way -- by barring federally financed programs from operating within 1,000 feet of colleges, universities, parks, video arcades, day-care centers, high schools, public swimming pools and other institutions.
This seems reasonable -- until you consider that such a restriction would make it virtually impossible to have federally financed programs anywhere in densely packed urban communities, which is where the need for AIDS intervention is especially pressing and institutions like schools and playgrounds are numerous. In other words, this would wipe out the program.
Worse still, a rider on the city budget for the District of Columbia, which is closely controlled by Congress, would place the same limitations on the use of even locally raised tax dollars. This would be an outrage in any case. But it is especially troubling because Washington is an AIDS hotspot, where impoverished communities have long been ravaged by the disease.
(8) EDITORIAL: SCHWARZENEGGER SHOULD COMPLY WITH COURT ORDER ON ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 6 Aug 2009
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2009 San Jose Mercury News
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have had years to bring California's overcrowded prisons up to federal standards. They have failed miserably. Now, if the state can't fix the problem in the next 45 days, the courts will do it for them, releasing as many as 44,000 prisoners in the process.
It's what we've feared all along as state officials abdicated responsibility for this problem. Instead of whining about the court overstepping its boundaries, the governor should submit a good-faith plan to comply with the order.
He already has a reasonable proposal that would reduce the prison population by as many as 37,000 over the next two years. Some legislative leaders have agreed to this, and while Republicans refused to vote for it as part of the budget, it now can pass with a majority vote. Schwarzenegger should use the political cover of the federal court order to implement these changes, which would make substantial progress toward the courts' goal.
Californians love being tough on crime, but the state can't afford to pay for facilities to house one of its biggest growth industries. So it keeps 158,000 inmates in prisons built for 84,000. Even so, prison spending has soared to the point where it consumes 10 percent of the state's budget, nearly as much as higher education.
For years, reformers have advocated obvious solutions of early release for nonviolent criminals and revision of parole and sentencing laws that have caused costs and numbers of prisoners to soar.
Law Enforcement & Prisons
Sometimes it seems being a drug law enforcer (or informant) is seen as license to do many things: watch a murder without reporting it; catching marijuana users with sex stings; getting paid for overtime even after facing serious corruption charges; and ignoring the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
(9) FORMER ICE INFORMANT SAYS HE HELPED CONVICT 50 ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jul 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez
EL PASO -- A former ICE informant who faces deportation was a law enforcement officer in Mexico who quit his job to work in the drug trade.
As Guillermo Eduardo "Lalo" Ramirez Peyro described it in federal documents, life in the Juarez drug cartel consisted of dirty cops smuggling drugs, sudden kidnappings, double-crossings, acts of revenge and gruesome murders.
Ramirez, a former Mexican federal highway police officer, was a DEA informant until he was busted in New Mexico, allegedly while bringing drugs across the border.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency that started in 2003, began to use him as an informant. Ramirez alleges his work led to the successful U.S. prosecutions of 50 people, including Heriberto Santillan Tabares ( known in Mexico as Humberto Santillan Tabares ), a high-ranking cartel member. ICE officials won't say how many cases Ramirez helped solve.
The informant said he also met Miguel Loya Gallegos, a Chihuahua state police commander in Juarez, who trafficked drugs and carried out hits for the cartel, according to a federal government document.
In the document, Ramirez mentioned a "big brother" guesthouse in Juarez that cartel leaders used for meetings to settle accounts and plan kidnappings and murders. The address was omitted.
During his involvement with Santillan and Loya, Ramirez said he was sent to a house in Juarez where a lawyer named Fernando Reyes Aguado was to be killed so that Loya could steal drugs from him.
The lawyer "began to struggle with the ( state ) judicial police, and they asked me to help them get him to the floor," Ramirez said. "They tried to choke him ( with ) an extension cord, but this broke and I gave them a plastic bag and they put it on his head and suffocated him.
"I asked the judicial police if they were sure Fernando was dead, upon which ( one of the policemen ) took a ... shovel and hit him many times on the head until he was sure that he was dead."
Ramirez, who was wearing a wire and recorded the 2003 murder for ICE, received $2,000 from Santillan as payment for him and others to bury the bodies. Eleven more murders occurred during his ICE mission related to Santillan, Loya and the Juarez house. He also received $220,000 from the U.S. government for his services as an informant, according to documents.
(10) TO CATCH A STONER ( Top )
Pubdate: Thu, 6 Aug 2009
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2009 Willamette Week Newspaper
Author: James Pitkin
One Cop Shop's Prostitution Sting: Phony Ads on Craigslist of Hot Women Offering Sex for Weed.
Early one April morning, Shawn Walsh hopped online in his one-bedroom apartment in Oregon City and turned to the Casual Encounters section on craigslist.org.
Casual Encounters has done for sex what bathhouses and swingers' parties used to do--made it convenient, available and anonymous.
Walsh uses Craigslist because, frankly, he wouldn't have much luck scoring at a club in Old Town, or even at a bar in Oregon City.
Thirty-eight years old with a paunchy gut and a goatee, he grew up in Canby and used to work as a mechanic until he broke his back in 1991. Now he's divorced, supporting himself on disability checks and by selling auto parts online.
On April 13 this year, he clicked into Casual Encounters and found this personal ad: "Tuesday is my Friday!! Wanna smoke and....; )"
The ad said a 23-year-old woman had posted it. Walsh clicked on the link and read more.
Tuesday is my last day at work this week and I wanna party on Tues night!! I'm a hot blonde who has all the right moves." The ad promised to trade those moves to anyone who could offer some "420," or marijuana.
Walsh wrote back from his Hotmail account: "Hi how you doing my name is Shawn. I have some bomb 420 and would like to share it with you tomorrow night."
"Perfect," came the reply from firstname.lastname@example.org. "I've got a little pretty pussy for you to play with while I smoke all your weed ; ) Wanna work a little trade like that??" The message was signed Kayla.
That would be great. I like to play with pussy," Walsh wrote.
They arranged to meet at 11 pm Tuesday, April 14, at an address on Southwest Hermoso Way in Tigard. Walsh made the half-hour drive from his home in Clackamas County west to Washington County.
When Walsh pulled his black Chevy pickup onto suburban Hermoso Way, he was surrounded by Tigard police. Officer Oddis Rollins, who had placed the Craigslist ad and written the emails, asked Walsh to step out of his truck.
Walsh had 3.5 grams of weed in his pocket--normally enough to earn him nothing more than a ticket. But because he'd agreed to trade drugs for sex, the cops charged Walsh with misdemeanor prostitution and delivery of drugs, a felony, and booked him into Washington County Jail. But Walsh insists he was just looking for a good time.
"I think they were looking to bust some huge drug dealer, I don't know," Walsh tells WW. "But the way they went about it, who are they gonna bust besides someone like me?"
It's not unusual for police to conduct stings to catch prostitutes or the johns who hire them. Portland police do so several times each year, including along 82nd Avenue.
But Walsh's arrest was part of a recent sting operation by Tigard police that observers call highly unusual. For one thing, the ads were written to appear as if they were from a promiscuous girl-next-door type rather than a professional hooker. Even more strange was the offer of trading sex for pot.
According to public records, Tigard police spent about eight months posting such ads online. During that time, they arrested 24 men from all over the Portland area, including an Oregon Department of Transportation employee, a Portland State University student and a former TV news producer visiting from Yakima, Wash.
(11) WHY ARE 4 NARCS UNDER PROBE STILL GETTING OT? ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 03 Aug 2009
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2009 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Authors: Wendy Ruderman, Barbara Laker & Bob Warner
THE CITY IS still paying thousands of dollars in court-related overtime to four narcotics officers taken off the street after being accused of fabricating evidence and other crimes.
The officers are being paid to go to court for cases that are delayed or withdrawn. They show up at the Criminal Justice Center and do nothing.
Officers Jeffrey and Richard Cujdik, Robert McDonnell Jr. and Thomas Tolstoy, in addition to their $58,000-a-year salaries, have collectively earned more than $15,500 in overtime since being taken off the street, city payroll records show.
The city District Attorney's Office continues to subpoena the officers to appear in court, even though prosecutors routinely ask judges to postpone or drop the cases.
Jeffrey Cujdik, 34, was placed on desk duty in February. His 35-year-old brother, Richard, and McDonnell, 38, were taken off the street in April, and Tolstoy, 35, followed in May.
Defense lawyers say that the overtime payments are a waste of taxpayer money and city resources at a time when the city is trying to curb court-related overtime, which totaled almost $25 million in fiscal year 2008.
"In a city scrambling for money, in an economic crisis, why [is the D.A.'s office] saying, 'Let's subpoena witnesses to come to court' for cases they know are not going to go on?" questioned defense lawyer Guy R. Sciolla, a former assistant district attorney. "It's flat-out wrong to be spending money like that."
(12) POLICE SAY CHURCH FEST WAS A DRUG FEST ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 03 Aug 2009
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2009 PG Publishing Co., Inc.
Author: Paula Reed Ward
22 Arrested, Authorities Describe Wide-Open Drug Scene, 'Outraged' Attorney Says Church Was Targeted
Authorities said there were four head shops that had 1,000 marijuana pipes for sale.
People working like cocktail waitresses walked the crowd, selling "Ganja" treats -- including Rice Krispies snacks believed to be laced with marijuana, according to authorities.
A total of 22 people were arrested Saturday evening as the Fayette County Drug Task Force raided the 47-acre Bullskin site of the Church of Universal Love and Music.
At 4:30 p.m., just about the time Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk was about to go on as part of the church's three-day Funk Fest, a team of 30 law enforcement officers were staging themselves.
The task force -- armed with a search warrant and evidence from two previous undercover drug buys from concerts in May and July -- raided the church property, which includes a main stage, campgrounds, a vendor row and a special VIP area.
Those arrested included concert-goers, the people running the head shops, as well as those selling the treats.
"It was as bad as it could be," said Assistant District Attorney Mark D. Brooks, coordinator of the task force. "We recovered so much paraphernalia, we had to use two trailers to haul it down the mountain."
While police recovered a large amount of drugs on the grounds, they found even more on the concert-goers.
Illegal substances seized included several pounds of hallucinogenic mushrooms, several pounds of marijuana, hash and LSD.
The operator of the church, Willie Pritts, was not charged.
Last night, Mr. Pritts' attorney, Gregory Koerner, was outraged by the raid and arrests and said he felt the church was purposely targeted.
"We feel there were gross violations of Mr. Pritts' and the church's rights," Mr. Koerner said. "This was excessive, unwarranted, and we're going to be forced to seek redress and take it back to federal court."
In February, Mr. Pritts and Fayette County reached a settlement on the eve of trial in a 2006 federal civil rights lawsuit, claiming that the county's failure to issue him a special exception permit violated his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
The county, however, argued that Mr. Pritts did not prove that he was operating a church and instead argued he used the land for daylong concerts and illegal drugs.
As part of the settlement agreement, the county paid Mr. Pritts $75,000 and would allow him to hold 12 events per year. For his part, he was to forbid public nudity and illegal drug use.
"[Saturday's] enforcement action, which started at the very first concert, seems to violate the spirit of the settlement," Mr. Koerner said.
Cannabis & Hemp-
The economics of cannabis prohibition continue to dominate the discussion in the media, as cash-starved cities in California take notice of Oakland's new pot tax.
The drug war coffers are almost empty in Hawaii, where airborne search and destroy operations will soon be grounded.
Once again a few diehard drug warriors recycled familiar arguments in defense of the status quo, including the observation that most of the arguments for cannabis law reform can be applied to other illicit substances. As a matter of fact ... they can.
Many living outside of the United States see reforming cannabis laws as an issue of national sovereignty, and while some certainly resent U.S. influence over global drug policy, they are also inspired, encouraged and emboldened by American activism.
(13) OAKLAND POT TAX FUELS STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 4 Aug 2009
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Bay Area News Group
Author: Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee
OAKLAND -- Bill O'Donnell illegally self-medicated himself with marijuana for years for a combat injury and post-traumatic stress from military service in Vietnam. It landed him in jail once for possession.
Today, O'Donnell, 58, legally selects medical marijuana pot brands from the "bud tender" at the Coffeeshop Blue Sky in downtown Oakland. And he feels proud the dispensary soon will pay taxes on his purchases -- thanks to Oakland's passage of the nation's first cannabis taxation law on July 21.
"I've gone all the way from doing 60 days in jail to paying taxes on this," O'Donnell said. "I'm glad to help out -- legitimately."
When 80 percent of Oakland voters approved a gross receipts tax that charged the city's four pot dispensaries $18 for every $1,000 in revenue, they added political smoke to efforts in other California cities to treat municipal budget deficits by taxing medical marijuana revenues.
The Oakland vote also stoked a calculated self-taxation movement by cannabis advocates. Oakland medical pot dispensaries that all but begged to pay new taxes are backing a 2010 ballot initiative drive to legalize marijuana for personal use and soothe the Golden State's fiscal woes with more than $1 billion in state cannabis taxes.
"This is just one tax of many. It's one battle in a big war," said Richard Lee, owner of Coffeeshop Blue Sky. "It's a reverse tax revolt: No taxation without legalization."
(14) MONEY FOR POT RAIDS IS DRAINED ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 2009
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2009 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Author: John Burnett
More Than 3,000 Plants Uprooted Across Big Island
The Hawaii Police Department conducted two marijuana eradication missions just before the end of the fiscal year June 30.
A memo dated July 8 from Police Chief Harry Kubojiri to County Council Chairman J Yoshimoto said that "Counter Cannabis" field operations were flown June 29 in East Hawaii and June 30 in West Hawaii.
Voters last November passed a law making adult personal use of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, which said the council "shall not support the acceptance of any funds for the marijuana eradication program."
There is no money in the current fiscal year budget for marijuana eradication. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, $370,000 was earmarked for eradication plus a $159,000 statewide marijuana eradication grant.
Assistant Police Chief Marshall Kanehailua said Friday the money for the mission was from the latter grant.
"This was money that was there before," noted Lt. Richard Sherlock of Hilo Vice Section. "There is money for eradication."
Sherlock said four helicopters involved in the East Hawaii mission -- two from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, one National Guard chopper and a private copter rented for about four hours at a cost of $800 per hour. All 10 of the officers involved in the rappelling and uprooting of the plants were local police, Sherlock said.
Sherlock said sufficient funds remain for at least one more eradication mission in both East and West Hawaii.
"I can't say when they're going to happen, for obvious reasons," he said.
(15) TAXES ASIDE, LEGAL POT WOULD COST US DEARLY ( Top )
Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 2009
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record Searchlight
Author: Alana Marie Burke
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It damages the lungs; impairs memory, concentration and motivation; and contains more carcinogens than cigarettes. However, California is economically in the tank, and this may be a boon for those who believe that smoking pot is "no big deal" and want marijuana legalized.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has introduced Assembly Bill 390, which removes all criminal penalties for personal marijuana possession and cultivation for adults over age 21, allows persons 21 or older to grow up to 10 mature plants, and makes possession and sales of marijuana paraphernalia legal for adults 21 and up.
According to Ammiano, efforts to eradicate marijuana have not succeeded, so it is time to bring "a major piece of our economy into the light of day." In other words, if at first you don't succeed, give up. Other ballot initiatives in recent months indicate that California potheads have found their voice and, since the state needs money, lawmakers are listening.
If taxed like cigarettes and alcohol, marijuana could generate an estimated $100 million a year, with additional savings in law enforcement resources. These funds would ameliorate California's budget issues. However, when the smoke clears, the collateral damage from the government pimping dope will exceed the monetary benefits of retailing and taxing it.
California, fraught with inept government and a populace bent on pushing every sociopolitical limit, cannot afford to be dumbed down by legislators championing drug use to make a buck. The big question is not whether marijuana use for recreation is unhealthy and dangerous, which it is, but whether the right to do self-harm is a civil right and, if so, if all drugs should be legal for personal use.
One argument purports that drug use is a victimless crime; after all, the user is not necessarily recruiting or dosing others. Moreover, if we follow the Roe v. Wade model, people have the right to control their own body and should be able to alter their consciousness however they see fit. If marijuana is legalized, then this opens the door to all illicit drugs - there is no ideological difference between any of them even if the physical consequences vary.
(16) LET'S RECLAIM OUR INDEPENDENCE AND LEGALISE MARIJUANA ( Top )
Pubdate: Mon, 03 Aug 2009
Source: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2009 The Jamaica Observer Ltd,
Author: Chris Burns
Forty-seven years in the life of any nation is relatively short; yet years of social blight and economic underperformance can make those years seem eternal. For when Jamaica gained political independence from Britain in 1962, it was achieved on the premise that political independence would empower us not only to embrace the freedom that came with self-government, but also to help us actualise the opportunities it offered to develop and maintain a prosperous, well- organised, and orderly society.
Therefore, it was the beliefs, desires and intentions of the architects of political independence for the country to use the freedom, the rights and responsibilities that came with such, as springboards toward achieving social progress and economic independence for the majority.
In fairness, the country experienced social order, economic development and growth during the first five years following the Declaration of Independence.
However, there have been serious structural defects in the way that the Jamaican economic and social systems operate.
A sad consequence of this lopsided socio-economic apparatus has been the lasting legacy of economic inequality and social marginalisation, both of which are responsible for the structure we now have - one which is bitterly broken, uncompetitive, polarised, underdeveloped, woefully uneducated and marginally productive.
Undoubtedly, there is enough blame to go around, with leftovers to fill the Mona Reservoir. But as appealing as it may seem to some, shifting responsibility and apportioning blame, however worthy, cannot earn Jamaica one extra cent in revenue to help offset the enormous debt that successive governments have accumulated in the name of our children and their children's children.
Simply put, we have an obligation to reclaim our independence by demanding that our government pursue the best sets of policies - those that will eventually lead to prosperity and happiness for all.
As we reclaim our independence, we have to start at the point of honesty. Starting at the point of honesty demands serious introspection, because we have not been good stewards of our affairs.
In combination with other initiatives, but as a medium-to long-term solution, I am suggesting that Jamaica reclaim its independence, and like 13 states in the United States of America, legalise the growth and distribution of medical marijuana.
This could help people suffering from skeleton pains associated with arthritis and glaucoma, and could provide employment and a steady flow of revenue to the government. Some will argue correctly, that "the ends may not always justify the means", without ever once mentioning the tobacco industry.
And Jamaica could go even further and decriminalise the limited use of marijuana for religious and recreational purposes.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy this week scuttled a State Department report which would have declared Mexico to be respecting human rights in the Washington-funded drug war. No dice; as Mexico is embroiled in a bloody military counter narcotics police action against ostensible drug smugglers human rights are being trampled. "Those requirements have not been met, so it is premature to send the report to Congress," stated Leahy.
From the U.K., two excellent pieces recommending the scraping of drug prohibition. The first, by Matthew Engel, recommends, "legitimising production and supply, precisely so it can be controlled.... [T]he places where it is easiest to obtain drugs would no longer be the inside of jails and inner-city school playgrounds."
The Mirror, a U.K. tabloid, related a UK Drugs Policy Commission's paper to readers recommending "police should allow some dealers to ply their trade - and merely ask them to move away from residential neighbourhoods." Such legalization ideas were immediately dismissed by the Home Office, which instead claimed "tough enforcement is fundamental".
And from the Canadian Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, a remarkable editorial this week admitting prohibition causes problems the drugs alone could never do. "The problem is not so much the use of drugs as the illegality of that use... Until a federal government has the courage to recognize that, to accept its responsibility to the citizens of Winnipeg and Canadians across the country, the drugs and the profits from them will remain in the hands of criminals, and drug wars will continue."
(17) LEAHY BLOCKS POSITIVE REPORT ON MEXICO'S RIGHTS RECORD ( Top )
Pubdate: Wed, 5 Aug 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: William Booth and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post Foreign Service
Skepticism About Conclusions Delays U.S. Anti-Drug Aid
MEXICO CITY -- A key senator rejected a State Department plan to issue a report this week affirming that Mexico is respecting human rights in its war against drug traffickers, delaying the release of millions of dollars in U.S. anti-narcotics assistance, according to U.S. officials and congressional sources.
The State Department intended to send the favorable report on Mexico's human rights record to Congress in advance of President Obama's visit to Guadalajara for a summit of North American leaders this weekend, U.S. officials familiar with the report said.
That plan was scrapped after aides to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, told State Department officials that the findings contradicted reports of human rights violations in Mexico, including torture and forced disappearances, in connection with the drug war.
At stake is more than $100 million in U.S. aid under the Merida Initiative, a three-year, $1.4 billion counternarcotics package begun by President George W. Bush in 2007. The law requires Congress to withhold 15 percent of most of the funds until the secretary of state reports that Mexico has made progress on human rights.
"Those requirements have not been met, so it is premature to send the report to Congress," Leahy said in a statement. "We had good faith discussions with Mexican and U.S. officials in reaching these requirements in the law, and I hope we can continue in that spirit."
The State Department's failure to push through the report is a setback for the U.S. and Mexican governments at a time when drug violence in Mexico continues to soar and President Felipe Calderon has come under growing pressure to revise his U.S.-backed anti-narcotics strategy, which relies heavily on the military to fight the cartels.
(18) WHY IT'S TIME TO END THE WAR ON DRUGS ( Top )
Pubdate: Sat, 1 Aug 2009
Source: Financial Times Weekend Magazine (UK)
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2009
Author: Matthew Engel
Carlisle Racecourse, near the border between England and Scotland, is not usually regarded as one of the world's great centres of progressive thought. It is not even one of the great centres of British horse racing. But in a hospitality room there in June, the director of public health for Cumbria, Professor John Ashton, startled a room full of local delegates at a conference entitled "Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives" by calling for total legalisation. "The war on drugs has failed," he said. "We need to think differently." He said that heroin, and everything else now banned, should be available over the counter in chemists' shops.
At any rate, he certainly startled the reporter from the Carlisle News & Star who made a splendid splash with the story, giving just a paragraph to the counter-argument from Detective Superintendent Paul Carter of Cumbria Police. "Class A drugs destroy the fabric of people's lives," he responded. "We have to do everything we can to get people away from drugs like heroin and cocaine." Well, "Cop Backs Drug Laws" hardly sounds like news, does it? But actually it is Carter who seems increasingly out of step.
Proper reform means legitimising production and supply, precisely so it can be controlled. Would it unleash a drug epidemic worse than the one we now have? Well, it would be an unusual child of the 1960s who did not mark the moment with a celebratory joint. But the novelty would soon wear off. And from then on, the places where it is easiest to obtain drugs would no longer be the inside of jails and inner-city school playgrounds.
Imagine a situation - as John Ashton started to do at Carlisle Racecourse - where all drugs were sold in pharmacies licensed for the purpose. Taxation could be set at a level that brought in revenue but still made illegal dealing uncompetitive. For the more dangerous and addictive drugs there would be compulsory medical supervision. Identity checks and strict record-keeping would be required. There would be laws (which could actually be enforced) against advertising, adulteration, use in public, driving under the influence and supply to minors.
In what way would that be worse than the present situation?
(19) PROPOSAL TO NOT PUT DEALERS IN PRISON TO WIN DRUG WAR ( Top )
Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jul 2009
Source: Mirror, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 The Mirror
Author: Bob Roberts
Police should turn a blind eye to drug dealers if they want to stamp out street crime, a controversial report says.
Locking them up does no good and could even lead to violence as new villains fight it out to fill the gaps, experts warned in a report yesterday.
Instead, they said, police should allow some dealers to ply their trade - and merely ask them to move away from residential neighbourhoods.
The UK Drugs Policy Commission's paper suggested crime-busting crackdowns can be counter-productive.
The group's chief executive Roger Howard said police work should not be "limited to the traditional role of arresting as many dealers as possible in anticipation of reducing supply". He added: "Drug markets will inevitably remain."
The report said: "Drug enforcement efforts have focused on arrests and seizures with the aim of reducing supply. But markets are quick to adapt."
The study said a better strategy would be "seeking to displace a market to another area where it will have less impact".
Dismissing the report, the Home Office said "tough enforcement is fundamental".
But Lib Dem spokesman Chris Huhne said: "The Government's current enforcement policy barely scratches the surface when measured by the availability or street price of drugs.
"The enormous rise in cocaine use last year shows its negligible impact on the drugs market. We need to focus on what works."
Last week figures revealed cocaine use rocketed by 25% in England and Wales in 2008.
(20) DRUG LAWS SPARK DRUG WARS ( Top )
Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 2009
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Winnipeg Free Press
Much of the gang violence that plagues Winnipeg's inner city is attributed to turf war over the highly lucrative drug trade. It has been suggested that the shooting at a wedding reception in the North End last week was part of a drug-trade related gang war and that, because they continue to indulge their appetites, the St. Vital housewife and the Broadway boulavardier are responsible for the death and the injuries.
If, in fact, that shooting is connected to the drug trade, it is not users who are responsible. It is the gunman and, ironically, the law itself that is to blame for the violence. Simply put, you do not need to deal with a gangster if you can buy your marijuana, or even your cocaine, at a store regulated and controlled by the government, just as you can now buy your tobacco and your alcohol.
Even if it were to do so, however, it would not be enough to solve the problem this country faces. The decriminalization of marijuana is not nearly enough. The problem is not so much the use of drugs as the illegality of that use. Education can moderate and reduce drug use when it is out in the open -- it is the crime that surrounds the drug trade that is the country's cancer. Until a federal government has the courage to recognize that, to accept its responsibility to the citizens of Winnipeg and Canadians across the country, the drugs and the profits from them will remain in the hands of criminals, and drug wars will continue.
HOT OFF THE 'NET ( Top )
ABC NEWS GOES REEFER MADNESS ( Top )
Pete Guither, DrugWarRant.com
DOES THE MARIJUANA PILL WORK? ( Top )
By Brian Montopoli
The government says a pill called Marinol offers the same benefits as medical marijuana. Is it true?
IS THE DRUG CZAR LEGALLY REQUIRED TO LIE? ( Top )
By Jacob Sullum
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK ( Top )
Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 08/02/09 - Arthur Benavie
Professor Arthur Benavie, author of Drugs - America's Holy War + DTN Editorial, Paul Armentano of NORML, Cookville cops plant drugs + Gary Storck "where's my medicine"
Century of Lies - 08/02/09 - Arthur Benavie
Professor Arthur Benavie, author of "Drugs - America's Holy War" takes listener questions, live
STEPHEN COLBERT NAILS ANOTHER JUNKIE ( Top )
HARPER MANIPULATING THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS ( Top )
By Evan Wood
The fate of Vancouver's medically supervised safer injecting facility, known as Insite, hangs in the balance as three B.C. Court of Appeal justices weigh arguments by the Harper government aimed at overturning an earlier ruling that provided the program a brief respite from the Tories' efforts to close it.
DRUG CZAR GIL KERLIKOWSKE TO MEET WITH SEATTLE-AREA EXPERTS ( Top )
The Obama Administration plans to issue a formal report that outlines its national drug control strategy next year. In the meantime, officials are talking about the issue with public health and safety leaders across the country, in a series of meetings. The first one, is tomorrow in Shoreline. For details, KUOW's Derek Wang spoke with the nation's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, officially known as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
This interview was produced by Liz Jones.
THE BEST FAIR-USE CONTROVERSY EVER? ( Top )
By Ashby Jones
It hasn't yet boiled into a lawsuit yet, but it's got serious potential. At issue: a poster created by folks at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (aka NORML), which uses a photo of Barack Obama as an undergraduate at Occidental College, circa 1980.
WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK ( Top )
WRITE A LETTER ( Top )
Why It's Time To End The War On Drugs : A Drugsense Focus Alert
APPLY FOR AN INTERNSHIP WITH MPP ( Top )
HOLD THE WHITE HOUSE ACCOUNTABLE ( Top )
President Obama said on the campaign trail that medical marijuana should be treated the same as prescription medicine and that he would stop federal law enforcement from arresting people for medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Since taking office, however, the Obama administration has been sending mixed messages on medical marijuana, and providers still live in fear of federal raids. Write to the White House, and tell the president that people should not be punished for making doctor-prescribed medical marijuana available to the people who need it. Ask him to take a clear stance on medical marijuana.
LETTER OF THE WEEK ( Top )
Legalize Pot To End Growing Problem ( Top )
Your Friday editorial about Mexican drug cartels growing marijuana in the hills of Butte County was rather irrational.
First, the misleading headline ("Marijuana not 'harmless' drug") implied that marijuana was harmful. Nothing whatsoever was said in the editorial as to any actual negative effects of marijuana. Of course, if you're looking for documented harm, there's almost nothing to find.
Second, with all your "rally behind the troops" cheerleading, you seem to totally ignore why the cartels and other criminal elements are involved in farming marijuana -- honest citizens are not allowed to grow it. Want to get rid of the cartel elements (as well as most of the financing for street gangs)? Then allow the legal and regulated production of marijuana. Then our law enforcement people can do something meaningful.
We tried an ill-fated experiment in the '20s that was a godsend to organized crime -- it was called Prohibition. Fortunately, we came to our senses after a few years and did away with it. How long will it take us, and how many lives will be needlessly lost, until we do away with Prohibition II?
Tom Kuykendall, Oroville
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Oroville Mercury-Register (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Oroville Mercury Register
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09/n000/a150.html Award: http://www.mapinc.org/lte_awards/weekly.php
LETTER WRITER OF THE MONTH - JULY ( Top )
DrugSense recognizes Mike Foster from Laval, Quebec for his three letters published during July, bringing his career total that we know of to seven. You may read Mike's published letters here
FEATURE ARTICLE ( Top )
Higher Ground ( Top )
By Jonathan Fitzgerald
Is there a Christian position on marijuana?
EVERY YEAR around the 20th of April, the press is infiltrated with a surge of pot-related stories, complete with as many tongue-in-cheek headlines as editors will allow. This year's coverage was somehow different, mostly in that it didn't evaporate into thin air (now even I'm doing it) after the "holiday." Rather, it seems, the coverage around marijuana picked up steam over the week of April 20 and is carrying on even now, well into the summer.
One explanation is that in the midst of a recession, America is willing to consider hitting the pipe, toking the spliff, bonging the, um, bong. Mainstream politicians like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are actually considering the legalization of marijuana (though it won't happen this year). Congressmen like Barney Frank from my home state of Massachusetts and Ron Paul from Texas are also on board. Reversing the Bush administration's policy, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Federal law enforcement will not pursue medical marijuana users in California, where the drug is legalized for medicinal purposes.
American culture seems to have moved on a long time ago. References to marijuana use are so breezily tossed around that one might assume that the stigma related to this still illegal drug has gone the way of lava lamps. In the Christian world, weed legalization is mostly absent from the conversation, but there, the silent assumption about marijuana's legality probably goes the other way.
But younger Christians might be a different story. In late April, the evangelical blog Burnside Writer's Collective quizzed its young-ish readers on a series of pot-related questions. Should marijuana be legalized? Fifty percent of responders thought so, and the next largest percentage said it should at least be decriminalized. Have you ever smoked marijuana? Fifty percent said yes, 40 said no. The 10 percent in the middle respond, in uniquely young evangelical fashion, that they have smoked once or twice. (Doesn't that just mean "Yes?") Finally, an overwhelming majority claim that even if weed was legal, they still wouldn't smoke it.
Like many other Western political dilemmas, Scripture doesn't have an entry on cannabis-not even general statements on hallucinogens. Without the comfort of "the Bible tells me so," it seems that Christians take an array of positions on their consumption, from "it's awesome" to "it's illegal" to "it's witchcraft." With so little on the subject in our texts, Christians must consider the same questions as any public official: would the legalization of marijuana be good for our economy? Would it be bad for the youth? Are the hurt it might cause drug cartels and the lessened burden on the penal system more convincing arguments than the claims that it is a gateway drug or will drastically increase drug use?
Perhaps the two most convincing arguments for marijuana legalization are the fiscal benefits of legalizing and taxing the sale of marijuana, and the impact that decriminalization would have on the overrun justice system. Just as the government slaps a tremendous tax on the sale of tobacco products (it's over $5 in New York City), taxes on marijuana products could create a much-needed stream of income for all levels of government. Additionally, if marijuana use became legal, the resources, monetary and otherwise, spent on arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations of minor drug offenders could be redistributed to other, arguably more pressing endeavors.
Rather than admitting defeat in the never-ending War on Drugs, legalization could in many ways, be a means for the United States to score a major victory. The blow to drug dealers, gangs and cartels that are substantially fueled by illegal marijuana sales could be nearly incalculable and, again, the government could focus its energies on stopping the flow of harder drugs. Finally, by legalizing the production and sale of marijuana, the Federal Drug Administration and other government agencies would have the opportunity to regulate it, ensuring that users don't become seriously ill due to tainted or laced pot.
For the time being, however, the seemingly more influential arguments are those in favor of marijuana's continued illegality. Without a doubt, the most common argument against legalization is the assertion that marijuana is a "gateway drug." The gateway drug theory postulates that those who use pot eventually find their way into other, more serious drugs. Though it is often pointed out that this is nearly impossible to measure, it still remains the most influential line of reasoning against marijuana use, both legally and illegally. It is also argued that legalization would make it easier for children and teenagers, for whom the drug would presumably be illegal, to gain access to pot.
There is one other argument for legalization that may tip the scales: the fact that the marijuana's illegality is a major inconsistency in government policy. Selling or smoking weed is a criminal offense, while alcohol and tobacco products are freely produced, sold and consumed by Americans. Sure, we need the FDA to regulate and restrict drugs that have been proven far more harmful than beneficial, but marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol when both are used in moderation, and when given the choice, I'd prefer to be around someone who smoked too much pot rather than drank too much. Of course people will abuse marijuana as they do alcohol, but we don't accept that as an argument for prohibition.
No one should be surprised when, sooner rather than later, the real possibility of legal marijuana becomes even more ubiquitous in the news and in everyday conversations. Changes like this don't come quickly, nor should they. The fact that this debate has been going on for decades and continues with no end in sight is not necessarily a bad thing. Let us consider all points of view and, in the end, make the choice that is best not only for our economy and government, but, indeed, for our citizens as well. With no easy answers in sight, perhaps this is what it means to work out our faith with fear and trembling. And you know what they say is good for calming that trembling don't you ...
Jonathan Fitzgerald is managing editor of Patrol, where this piece first appeared - http://www.patrolmag.com/times/1768/higher-ground
QUOTE OF THE WEEK ( Top )
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