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.: The Drugs War under Scrutiny Blog

Welcome to News2020.com where we hope to serve up the latest sceptical slant on the 'Drugs War' lunacy. Bringing together the most relevant third party news feeds and a commentable editorial blog, allowing you to have your say on recent events, we hope the site offers a platform for sane voices and reasoned debate. News2020.com strives to be a resource for highlighting cannabis related news, politics, stories and features from around the world and with XML driven breaking news, recommended links, visitor comment, and our own fun twist on the news we hope you choose to bookmark News2020.com now."The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this" Albert Einstein........

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UNLV’s Next Big Recruit Could be Pot Researcher

By: Arnold M. Knightly

UNLV’s most impactful recruit this year might be nowhere near the basketball court.

Nevada’s state and federal lawmakers have been working to bring medical marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley to the university to conduct a pilot study on the safety and efficacy of marijuana on veterans with chronic and treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder.

While the study would be financially supported by sponsors and not receive any federal money, it has received all the federal approvals, said Sisley, who has been working on securing the study since 2011. She is hoping the university will provide the research space.

“That was a miracle in itself,” said Sisley of the potential early-phase drug development trial. “We had to hurdle four different obstacles to get to a point where we could actually research. It was a big achievement, and we were really close to getting implemented.”

She would study five different strains of marijuana that would be smoked or vaporized and inhaled by 70 veterans. The goal is to develop a marijuana drug in plant form approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It would be the first and only randomized controlled trial in the country looking at marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sisley’s desire to study medical marijuana’s impact grew out of her daily physician work with veterans suffering from PTSD at the University of Arizona’s medical school in Phoenix.

The study could be in association with the University of Denver and Johns Hopkins University medical schools through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas psychology department’s community health clinic program.

UNLV OKS REQUIRED

UNLV College of Liberal Arts Dean Christopher C. Hudgins said the health clinic program provides research and services to the community in collaboration with the College of Education’s counseling and educational psychology program.

“This would fit well within that if the psychology department agrees that this would be a good appointment,” said Hudgins, adding that the position would not receive any state money.

Sisley gave a presentation Sept. 22 to the psychology department’s faculty board about joining as a research faculty member.

The board will give its recommendation to Thomas Piechota, UNLV’s vice president for research and economic development.

Piechota said the university might take a little longer to review any potential offer because of its connection to medical marijuana.

“This type of research is certainly good research to be looking at inside the university,” Piechota said. “There’s so much unknown in terms of the effects of medical marijuana on these types of issues.”

Sisley has secured study approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The institute would sell her the marijuana study plants out of the government’s grow facility in Mississippi.

Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Page said he was not familiar with the recruitment of Sisley or her work. However, her appointment would have to come before the board because of the relationship to medical marijuana.

“Normally, we don’t get involved in hires,” Page said. “But this one, because of medical marijuana not being approved federally, it becomes a much more touchy situation.”

CAMPUS POT RULES

The regents reaffirmed Sept. 4 the Nevada System of Higher Education’s ban on pot use on campus to include medical marijuana.

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical benefit, similar to heroin and Ecstasy, making it a federal crime to grow, sell and use. The categorization puts tight restrictions on studying medical marijuana and brings concern that the federal government might pull federal funding from schools involved with pot use and research.

However, the regents left the door open for medical marijuana research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine based in Reno.

Sisley also met with Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, an outspoken advocate for loosening the federal restrictions for medical marijuana research and business.

“Her credentials are most impressive, and she seems like she would be an asset to have,” the Nevada Democrat said. “Our medical marijuana industry is just taking off; we just got a new (Veterans Affairs) hospital. That’s why I was really interested in her work because of the PTSD connection.”

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the research is perfect for UNLV despite the rejections in Arizona and potential concerns by Nevada regents.

“First off, we’re Nevada, so we’re used to rolling the dice,” Segerblom said. “Secondly, it’s FDA-approved. The marijuana comes from a government farm. You couldn’t have a more federally approved plan than this.

“No one’s going to take (UNLV’s) money away, and this is a golden opportunity to get out of this fear, this fog and move forward.”

Titus said she doesn’t see any legal hurdles to bringing Sisley’s research to UNLV.

“If you’ve got a state senator, you’ve got a U.S. congressperson all giving you cover. If you’re the university, you’d think that would be some sense of relief that you wouldn’t have to worry about losing those federal grants,” Titus said.

SISLEY’S SALES TALK

Sisley promoted her research plan Tuesday during the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association luncheon, which was attended by industry advocates as well as Segerblom, Hudgins and Piechota.

Sisley told the audience she was set to do the study at the University of Arizona, where she had been since 2006 as an associate professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at the College of Medicine-Phoenix and Scottsdale. However, she was fired for her vocal stance on medical marijuana research.

According to the New York Times, money from the state’s medical marijuana fees allocated for her study by the Arizona House died when a powerful state senator refused to put the legislation before the Education Committee.

Veterans who had been treated by Sisley called Arizona state Senate leaders expressing concerns leading to allegations that the doctor was “aggressively and inappropriately” behind the veterans’ calls. Three months ago, she received a university letter saying her annual employment contract, which expired Friday, would not be renewed.

“I had three different contracts there, and they were stripped from me,” she said of her telemedicine research, assistant professorship and a $300,000 medical marijuana law education grant.

Although Segerblom contacted Sisley about coming to UNLV earlier this year, the doctor was hoping to remain in Arizona, where she graduated from the University of Arizona and has lived for 30 years.

However, her research proposal was rejected by all the academic institutions and 11 hospitals she approached.

She has been contacted by other states interested in bringing her research there, but she likes the proximity to her home in Phoenix.

She said she is not some pro-marijuana activist looking to fit research to a pre-ordained thesis, but she “desperately hopes” it proves to be helpful to veterans suffering from PTSD.

“I have a healthy skepticism on anything I hear as subjective accounts from patients,” Sisley said. “This randomized control trial would give the whole plant marijuana the opportunity to go through the rigors of serious testing to collect some objective data so we’re just not going off patients’ reports.”

Titus, who taught political science at UNLV for 30 years, said what is needed is research with rigorous oversight and peer reviews on potential positive effects of medical marijuana.

“So far, most of the testing they’ve done is to look for the negative effect,” Titus said. “Let’s look for the positive effects. If they’re there, great. If they’re not, then we’ll know that, too. You’ll know something about dosage, illness and all the science that has gone into researching any other kind of chemical compound.”

The congresswoman added that it could position UNLV as the leading research institution for medical marijuana, attracting more studies and dollars to the university.

The recruitment of Sisley comes as Nevada has received 520 applications for medical marijuana establishments, including dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing labs and manufacturing of edibles.

 

 

 

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March 2007 : Announcing the 'pre beta' (sloppy and buggy!) launch of our new format. Everything looks a little bare at the moment, but be assured, things are definitely afoot. We hope you check out the feeds from our editorial team's favourite sites or check out some of the other links we list too. Get the latest fix of news and comment with news2020.com in 2007

Rick Doblin: Hippie of the Year

By: Tom Shroder

Acid Test follows the converging life stories of three men, Nicholas Blackston, a Marine who suffered terribly in heavy and relentless combat in the Iraq war and developed life-threatening Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome; Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a compassionate psychiatrist who believed in the healing potential implicit in altered states of consciousness and was willing to risk his professional reputation to test this idea in clinical trials; and Rick Doblin, a self-invented crusader for bringing psychedelic medicine out of the highly stigmatized deep freeze where it had been stuck ever since widespread popular abuse in the 1960s overshadowed two decades of earlier clinical success. Rick, who had dropped out of college to explore his psyche with repeated LSD experiences, more or less appointed himself — against all conventional logic — as the point man for bringing psychedelic therapy back into the mainstream, and began a decades-long struggle that continues today. He is currently the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization that, according to its mission, “develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.”  The following chapter picks up as Rick begins to prepare himself for the battles ahead.

If Rick was going to run an organization dedicated to providing “rigorous scientific evaluation of the risks and benefits” of MDMA, he was going to have to learn how to do rigorous science. He set out to teach himself, beginning with his senior thesis at New College. It was an evaluation, twenty-five years after the fact, of what many considered to be one of the most rigorous early studies on the effects of a psychedelic. On Good Friday, 1962, in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, Walter Pahnke, a physician, psychiatrist, ordained minister, and Harvard PhD candidate, administered capsules of white powder to twenty Protestant divinity students just prior to the holiday service.

Ten of the capsules contained nicotinic acid, a stimulant. The other ten contained psilocybin. The thesis was that spiritually inclined individuals engaged in a sacred ritual might react to the psychedelic drug by having a full-​blown religious experience. It was an attempt to re‑create in a contemporary Western context the religious visions obtained in the peyote rituals of Native Americans and to assess their impact on individuals’ lives. The stimulant administered to half the group was meant to serve as an “active” placebo, because clearly a sugar pill wasn’t going to make anyone think he had been given a psychedelic drug.

True, the effects of nicotinic acid—a warm flush sensation created by dilation of the blood vessels and a systemic feeling of relaxation—bore little resemblance to a psychedelic trip, but what did? Pahnke had chosen subjects who had never taken psychedelics, hoping that they would be more easily fooled by the stimulant. This was important, because in trying to assess purely subjective effects—and little was more purely subjective than a mystical experience—the expectation in the minds of both subject and observer could easily create a false positive. This lack of a double-​blind aspect—which left both the researchers and subjects uncertain of who got the good stuff—was a flaw common to the early psychedelic studies, and a key reason why they were so often dismissed.

As it turned out, Pahnke’s double-​blind attempt failed. After brief confusion among those given the nicotinic acid when its effects began to be felt, the overwhelming perceptual changes brought on by the psilocybin were so obvious to all that the study participants, who were in the church together, might as well have worn labels.

The crumbling of the double-​blind procedure would have been “quite damaging” to the credibility of the results, Rick wrote, if the experiment had been purely intended to measure psilocybin’s ability to produce mystical experience in isolation, regardless of set and setting.

But in this case the religious context of the Good Friday service and the spiritual bent of divinity students were all part of the exercise. Pahnke had chosen the participants and location precisely because he wanted to observe the effect of the drug administered in a spiritual set and setting.

However, Rick wrote, “restraint should be used in attributing the experiences of the experimental group entirely to psilocybin.”

In Rick’s critique it is possible to see the beginning of a transformation: a “Tim Leary for the ’80s” attempting to remake himself into someone who could research psychedelic medicine with the sober caution that would be required if it had any chance of ever winning FDA approval.

Pahnke’s paper on his experiment stressed the positive results. Nobody suffered any apparent physical harm or long-term psychological harm, and an overwhelming majority of those who took the psilocybin felt the experience had been profound and had made a positive impact on their lives, even six months after the fact. One subject said that he had vividly experienced the passion of Christ, identifying with it completely. Another said that after first going through a period of paranoia and feeling imprisoned in the church (which had bars on the windows and a guard at the door to keep the subjects from going outside during the experiment), he began to experience “the dropping away of the external world,” followed by “the sudden sense of singleness, oneness” that made “the rest of normal waking consciousness” seem like a mere illusion.

Pahnke died in a scuba diving accident in 1971. Fifteen years later, Rick reinterviewed most of the participants of the study, who still believed taking psilocybin that day had fortified their spirit and improved their lives. But he found flaws in the experiment. His thesis assessment, which was ultimately accepted for publication, indicates the distance he had come:

Pahnke failed to report the administration of the tranquilizer thorazine to one of the subjects who received psilocybin [and had an acute anxiety reaction]. There is no justification for this omission. . . . In addition, Pahnke underemphasized the difficult psychological struggles experienced by most of the psilocybin subjects. These very serious omissions point to an important incompleteness in Pahnke’s interpretation of the effects of psilocybin.

Some of the backlash that swept the psychedelics out of the research labs and out of the hands of physicians and therapists can be traced in part to the thousands of cases of people who took psychedelics in non-research settings, were unprepared for the frightening aspects of their psychedelic experiences and ended up in hospital emergency rooms. These unfortunate instances of panic reaction have many causes, yet some of them stem from the way in which the cautionary elements of the Good Friday experiment were inadequately discussed in Pahnke’s thesis, in subsequent scholarly reports and in the popular media.

[The] optimism regarding the inherent safety of the psychedelic experience did not fully acknowledge the complexity and profundity of the psychological issues associated with       psychedelic experiences. With some proponents of psychedelics exaggerating the benefits and minimizing the risks, a back-lash against these substances was predictable.

Rick graduated from New College in 1987, sixteen years after he had begun as a freshman. He aced his Graduate Record Exams, putting him in the top one-​tenth of 1 percent—enough to get him interviews at some of the highly competitive clinical psychology programs. In each case, Rick says, “I had these great talks and usually most of them would be clearly super excited about what I was doing.”

But at the end of each interview, Rick would say, “I want to do MDMA therapy research for my dissertation. And I know that’s five years away or whatever and it’s still illegal, but I don’t want to get in a position where I don’t mention that to you and that when I get there after I’ve done all this work you tell me no. So I’d rather tell you now.”

When the last “We regret to inform you . . .” notice arrived in his mailbox, he went to a secluded room in his house—technically now his parents’ house. “I smoked some pot and I started thinking. And I was, like, I feel like there’s a pattern here and the pattern is that I want too much too soon. I want to do this psychedelic psychotherapy research, but the world is not ready for it. It’s like relationships with women: a lot of times I want too much too soon. So then it was just, like, all right, well, if the politics is in the way of science, maybe I should study the politics.”

And if he was going to study the politics of psychedelics, he figured, he needed to do it in a way that would give him the best mainstream credential possible. That, he decided, would be the world-renowned John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Rick remembered a magazine interview with a professor there named Mark A. R. Kleiman who had mentioned the MDMA lawsuit. It wasn’t much of a connection, but Rick called him anyway.

“I said, ‘You have no idea who I am but I did this stuff that you know, and would you be my mentor?’ ”

Kleiman encouraged Rick to apply, and this time he got in.

“I think it was just affirmative action,” Rick says. “I was the hippie of the year.”

The hippie took two years to get his master’s degree, then applied for and got a Presidential Management Internship, a prestigious and competitive program for people interested in a career in federal government. The PMI website said it sought “the best and brightest Americans who want to make a difference in the public service” and called the program “a stepping stone to highly visible and respected leadership positions in the federal government.”

Rick didn’t really want a government career, but he did want to know how to manipulate the levers and pulleys that could move public policy on the issue of psychedelic medicine. When a team from the CIA came to recruit from the PMI recipients, Rick raised his hand. He thought, What can I do with the CIA? and the answer that came to him was: Propose a study on the national-security implications of legalizing drugs. To Rick, it was obvious that the quarter-​century-​old war on drugs had wreaked a long list of harms on the country, including unnecessarily swelling prison populations, wasting billions of dollars on ineffective enforcement, providing an inexhaustible source of funding for organized crime and narco-​terrorists, and, of course, preventing research into the beneficial uses of marijuana and psychedelics. Would legalizing drugs and putting them under federal regulation ameliorate any or all of the above?

The Agency interviewers must have been impressed with Rick, even if they brushed aside his proposal. Would he be interested in doing psychological profiles of world leaders? they asked.

Um, no.

After he left, Rick thought about the distance he’d traveled: from being, basically, an outlaw, he had arrived at a place where he was exchanging ideas with the likes of the CIA. For Rick, this wasn’t just one of life’s curiosities but a question of strategic importance.

He asked himself, Am I more effective from the inside working out or the outside pressuring in? It depended, he decided. If he had persuaded the CIA to let him study the potential national security benefits of ending the war on drugs, then going inside would be worth it. “I thought, okay, I would be willing to give up drugs and wear a suit to do that.”

But that wasn’t going to happen. So what other inside job would be worth it? Rick pondered that and came up with answer: he sent an internship application to the FDA.

Once again his timing was uncanny.

For thirty years, ever since the FDA had prevented thousands of horrific birth defects in the United States by refusing to bow to corporate and consumer pressure to approve the sedative and anti–morning sickness drug thalidomide without further testing, the agency had focused primarily on stopping bad drugs from getting to market. But there was a downside to this unrelenting focus on safety: through the seventies and eighties, the time, money, and effort it took to gain FDA approval for new drugs kept escalating. Many helpful medicines were becoming available internationally long before they could be legally prescribed in the United States.

The pharmaceutical industry began to push Congress for FDA reform just as the AIDS epidemic created tens of thousands of new victims each year, all desperate for more effective medicines with the clock ticking against them. In 1987, as the pressure to change ratcheted up, a forward-​thinking clinical pharmacologist named Carl Peck was appointed to head the FDA’s center for drug evaluation with a mission to make drug approval more efficient without compromising the public’s safety. Peck created a new staff within the agency, Pilot Drug Evaluation, specifically to find innovative ways to reengineer the drug approval process. To do that, the new division needed some new drug applications to experiment with. Since the FDA bureaucracy had already divvied up all drug categories among existing departments, Pilot Drug would need to wrest some categories from elsewhere.

One of the categories it ended up with—essentially because nobody else wanted it—was psychedelics and marijuana.

Since Rick had founded MAPS, he’d made applications for five small human MDMA studies, each in conjunction with researchers at prestigious universities and each backed by the required animal safety studies. All were rejected. To say that the regulators had an attitude would be no exaggeration. Rick would only learn later, when he wrote his PhD thesis on the subject, that the director of the FDA department responsible for rejecting his applications had once said of the 1960s psychedelic research at the University of Maryland institute where Stan Grof had worked: “It was just an excuse to give people LSD. . . . If I had the power, I would have put the doctor in charge in jail.”

The unlikely confluence of events—that the psychedelic portfolio was now being relinquished to a staff specifically intended to break new ground, shake things up, and find ways to help get beneficial drugs through an obstructionist system just as Rick was blindly applying for an internship—seemed like fate. Rick got a call from the head of Pilot Drug, Dr. John Harter.

“I went down there and I met with him, and he was, like, ‘You’re just what we’re looking for.’ I’m, like, ‘Fantastic.’ The thought was that I would work inside for a couple of years and then I would go back to MAPS and I would try to bring them proposals.”

Here was an opportunity to live inside the belly of the beast and learn its ways, just as he had hoped. He’d gone through all the high-​level interviews, and Harter was sold. There was just one problem: when the DEA got wind that the FDA was about to hire Rick, someone senior gave Harter an earful. “They told him, ‘No way can he work on psychedelics and marijuana,’ ” Rick remembers. “So I said, ‘All right, that’s fine, I’ll work on any other drugs; I just want to see how you do stuff.’ ”

Rick was redirected to the bottom of the totem pole, a job that certainly didn’t require a master’s from Harvard Kennedy School. The only remaining interview, with the eight women who would be his coworkers, seemed a formality. Dr. Harter even invited Rick to spend the night before the interview at his house. They’d drive in together in the morning, Rick would do the pro forma interview, and then he’d be hired.

Harter had apparently forgotten to clue the women in on the plan. He introduced Rick, expressed his support, mentioned that Rick wouldn’t be working with any psychedelic drug issues, then left them alone.

“We do a lot of photocopying,” one of the women began. “Are you willing to do photocopying?”

Rick told them he practically lived at Kinko’s. Photocopying would be no problem.

“And then they said, ‘Well, how are we going to keep you away from seeing anything to do with psychedelics or marijuana?’ ” Rick tried to soothe their concerns, but he could see where things were headed. When they voted, he lost in a landslide. As it turned out, one of the innovations in Pilot Drug management involved letting the people on the floor have more say in hiring.

Harter, embarrassed about what had happened, offered Rick a consolation job helping to get a computer system up and running. In the end, they both decided Rick would be better off on the outside.

Besides, Rick thought with relief, now I can still smoke pot and I don’t have to wear a suit.

 

 

 

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JB's @ The Limetree Festival

If you've never been to The Limetree Festival before then you've been missing out. This is one festival you certainly won't want to skip in 2011. If you're getting a little tired of the big ticket prices of the larger festivals, want something a bit more intimate, a weekend where you can actually see the headline performers without the need for binoculars, somewhere with an environmental conscience and a family friendly funky vibe, then book your tickets and head on up (or down) to Grewelthorpe (near Ripon) this August. JB's will be there, in the heart of the festival ground, offering some of the finest jazz, blues, funk and world music. The provisional lineup for JB's tent includes some superb bands that you may or may not have seen before including..

http://www.tarabarsandleisure.com/

 

 

Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update
StoptheDrugWar.org
November 30th 2010

 

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed an estimated 23,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 5,000 so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

vspace=""
Ciudad Juárez (courtesy Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia)
Thursday, June 17

Just across the border from Rio Grande, Texas, eight gunmen were killed after opening fire on an army patrol near an artificial lake bed. Three soldiers were killed in the incident. In an unrelated incident, another suspected cartel gunman was shot dead by the army in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Saturday, June 19
In Chihuahua, gunmen killed the mayor of a small town near Ciudad Juarez. Manuel Lara, 48, the mayor of Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, was killed by unidentified gunmen at his home. The area around Ciudad Juarez has been increasingly dragged into the bloody turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels for control of the Chihuahua drug trafficking corridor.

Sunday, June 20

In Ciudad Juarez, 12 people were killed in various armed incidents throughout the city. Over 1,300 murders have occurred in Ciudad Juarez in 2010, including some 200 in June. Ciudad Juarez has some 1.5 million residents. For comparison's sake, in New York City (with a population of some 8.5 million), 471 people were murdered in 2009. Over 2,500 were killed during the same time period in Ciudad Juarez.

Monday, June 21

In Durango, ten men were killed in various incidents. Among the dead were six charred bodies that were found near the municipality of Santiago Papasquiaro. In Gomez Palacio, two men, including the son of a high-ranking local official, were shot dead by gunmen. In the city of Chihuahua, two men were shot dead after a group of six was shot at. In Veracruz, the decapitated bodies of two provincial officials were discovered.

Tuesday, June 22

According to the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy Magazine, Mexico has risen two places in the index of failed states. Mexico is now #96 out of 177 countries which make up the list. In 2009, Mexico was #98. The lower the number, the more dysfunctional the country.

In Nogales, Arizona, police say they have received credible intelligence that members of an unspecified cartel may attempt to harm officers. According to the Nogales PD, the threat comes after a 400-pound marijuana bust was made by two officers on horseback.

Thursday, June 24

In the municipality of Guadalupe, near Monterrey, three gunmen were killed and 18 were captured during a clash with the army. Additionally, three vehicles and 1,200 kilos of marijuana were seized.

In Durango, eight "narco-camps" were raided and seized by elements of the army. Additionally, in Sonora, a state police investigator and another person were killed after being ambushed in a mountain town.

In Ciudad Juarez, seven people were killed, including three members of CIPOL, the police intelligence service. Another policeman was found dead and rolled up in a rug in Guasave, Sinaloa, a known stronghold for drug traffickers.

Total Body Count for the Week: 241
Total Body Count for the Year: 5,451

 

British Public Opinion Headed in Wrong Direction on Drug Policy, Poll Finds
StopthedrugWar.org
November 23rd 2009

 

If a comprehensive poll released last weekend is accurate -- and there is no reason to think it isn't -- British public opinion on drug policy is headed in the wrong direction. The poll conducted by ICM Research for the Observer and the Guardian newspapers found that public attitudes toward drug use, drug users, and drug sellers had grown decidedly more hard-line in recent years.

According to the poll, the proportion of people who think drug laws are "too liberal" has increased from 25% in 2002 to 32% now. At the same time, the number of people who think the drug laws are "not liberal enough" has dropped from 30% to 18%, and support for decriminalizing soft drugs has declined from 38% to 27%cannabis plant.

Respondents showed little sympathy for people who distribute drugs, whether they be professional drug dealers or merely sharing them with friends. About 70% said that all dealers should be treated the same -- with prison sentences. And 63% said drug addicts should be imprisoned.

Somewhat paradoxically, there is strong, though not majority, support for decriminalizing drug possession (38%) and making drugs available to addicts by prescription (44%).

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the newspapers hardening public attitudes were driven in part by concerns about stronger strains of cannabis. Both the Labor government and the British tabloid media have been engaged in a sometimes hysterical campaign to whip up fears about "skunk" in particular, as if that specific high-potency strain were somehow different from "regular" marijuana.

"This is a very important determinant of our decision to reclassify [cannabis from a Class C to a Class B drug]. This is a different drug even to that which was reclassified from B down to C [in 2003]," she claimed. "People are now beginning to recognize this isn't just some kind of harmless thing, but can have a serious impact on young people's mental health." People also realized marijuana production involved organized crime, she added.

But Martin Smith, the director of Drugscope, told newspapers the media and the government had falsely portrayed the drug problem as worse than it really was. "Although overall illegal drug use has been falling and significant progress has been made in tackling drug-related crime, many people believe the problem at best is getting no better," he said.

 

 

 

Swiss to Vote on Marijuana Decriminalization, Heroin Prescription
DWC.org
November 16th 2008

Swiss voters will go to the polls November 30 to decide whether to approve marijuana decriminalization and the government's ongoing "four pillars" drug strategy, which includes the prescription of heroin to hard-core addicts. A Swiss Broadcasting Corporation poll late last month showed the decriminalization effort in a virtual dead heat, leading 45% to 42%, with 13% undecided, while the referendum on the broader strategy appears headed to easy victory, with 63% in favor, 20% opposed, and 17% undecided.

The referendum on marijuana policy envisages its legalization for personal use, with its cultivation and sale being regulated by the state. It comes a decade after Swiss voters narrowly rejected a similar proposal. An attempt to decriminalize through parliament failed in 2004.

While the vote on decriminalization looks to be close, the effort is supported by a 1999 government advisory committee report and the governing coalition, and it is picking up some unexpected allies. Regulation would protect young people, argued the Social Democrats. Somewhat surprisingly, the effort is also supported by the center-right or libertarian Radical Party and the respected daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, which described both the decrim effort and the amended drug law as steps in the right direction.

"A policy which is only based on abstinence, bans and repression ultimately leads to more spending on welfare. It also is against the spirit of liberalism and leaves no room for people to take responsibility for themselves," the newspaper editorialized.

But not everyone is jumping on the decrim bandwagon. The rightist Swiss People's Party remains staunchly opposed. "Switzerland would become the drug Mecca of Europe," said People's Party parliamentarian Andrea Geissbühler.

The government's four-pillars drug strategy appears much less controversial, especially after a decade of pilot heroin prescription programs that have proven effective. Even the grassroots of the rightist parties approve, according to the poll.

"The number of drug-related deaths per year dropped from 400 at the beginning of the 1990s to 152 last year," said Felix Gutzwiller, a Zurich Radical Party senator, adding that each year some 200 addicts graduate from heroin maintenance to methadone maintenance. "It is telling that drugs issues are no longer top of the list of public concerns, unlike 20 years ago," he said.

 

 

Bolivia Suspends Operations By DEA
DrugWarChronicles
November 9th 2008

Already cool relations between Bolivia and the US grew even chillier over the weekend, as Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Saturday that he was suspending anti-drug operations by the US DEA within Bolivian territory. In making the announcement, Morales accused the DEA of interfering in internalPresident Evo Morales Bolivian affairs and trying to undermine his government.


"From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely," Morales said Saturday in remarks reported by the BBC. "Personnel from the DEA supported activities of the unsuccessful coup d'etat in Bolivia," he added, referring to a September massacre of Morales supporters that left 19 people dead. "We have the obligation to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the Bolivian people."

Morales, a former coca grower union leader who won the presidency in 2006, has embarked on a policy of "zero cocaine, not zero coca" in the Andean nation where the coca plant is widely chewed or drunk as a tea by indigenous people. Under Morales' program, farmers in specified areas are allowed to grow small amounts of coca for traditional and industrial uses.

While US officials earlier this year acknowledged Bolivian successes in the fight against cocaine trafficking, tensions have been rising -- not all of them to do with coca and cocaine. The Bolivian government limited DEA activities earlier this year, then expelled the US ambassador, charging that he had supported an effort to overthrow the government by separatist leaders of eastern provinces in September. The US retaliated by expelling Bolivia's ambassador to Washington, and last month, by adding Bolivia to the list of nations that had not adequately met US drug war goals.

Although Bolivia is only the third largest coca producer in the region, behind Colombia and Peru, it and Venezuela were the only countries in Latin America that were decertified. Venezuela kicked out the DEA in 2005, citing internal interference as well.

US officials denied Morales' claim of DEA interference. "These accusations are false and absurd," an unnamed senior State Department official told Time in response to Saturday's announcement. "The DEA has a 35-year track record of working effectively and professionally with our Bolivian partners," the official added.

Some 70 Bolivian citizens have been killed and about 1,000 wounded combating DEA-led coca eradication efforts since the late 1980s. Unrest over coca control policies helped vault Morales to the presidency in 2006.

The US currently funds Bolivian anti-drug efforts with $35 million a year. It is unclear what will happen to that funding.

 

Beyond 2008 -- Looking Past the November US Elections
StopThe Drug WAR
October 25th 2008

 

With the November 4 elections now less than two weeks away, most people, drug reformers included, are focused on the near term. Drug reformers in particular are watching with great interest as Michigan voters decide on medical marijuana, Massachusetts voters decide on marijuana decriminalization, and California voters decide whether to approve a groundbreaking treatment-not-jail initiative.

MPP
(chart appears courtesy MPP)
But some are looking past next month's elections and plotting the future of drug reform. Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project is one of them. At last weekend's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) conference in Berkeley, Kampia laid out his vision for the next few years.

But before that, he bluntly predicted success in Massachusetts and Michigan. "We are looking at a pair of major victories on November 4," he told the cheering crowd.

With a dozen medical marijuana states already and Michigan poised to be the breakthrough state in the Midwest, MPP will be aiming at placing medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot in three more states in 2010 -- Ohio, Massachusetts, and Arizona, Kampia said.

He also listed nine states where MPP is working to move medical marijuana forward through the legislative process. In four of them -- Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York -- significant progress has already been made, and MPP will attempt to build on that. In five other states -- Delaware, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- work is just getting started in the legislature.

How successful MPP will be in the near future depends greatly on the outcome of next month's national election, warned MPP communications director Bruce Mirken. "The overarching thing is we will push ahead with as much of this as we can, but it will all be affected by next month's election," he said. "That will either give us a major push or make our lives much more complicated. We're hopeful it will be the former."

But regardless of what happens in November, MPP will also be returning to Nevada in what would be a third bid to actually legalize marijuana possession there. "We will try to file a legalization initiative in Nevada in 2012," Kampia said.

mpp chart
(chart appears courtesy MPP)
"Nevada is definitely on the agenda," said Mirken. "We've always considered Nevada to be an ongoing project, we got significantly closer on our last attempt, and we're definitely looking at going back."

One clear sign of MPP's intentions in Nevada is their latest hiring announcement. It includes five positions in the state.

MPP isn't the only national reform organization eyeing the future. "We have a lot planned," said Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) executive director Ethan Nadelmann, "but the bigger question right now is what will happen with California's Proposition 5 (related story here). It contains a marijuana decriminalization provision, and if it passes, it will affect a larger number of people than any decrim measure ever."

But while the outcome of Prop. 5 will have an immediate impact, it will also set the course for DPA's future work in the Golden State. "What we do next in California depends on Prop. 5," he said.

Whatever happens in California, DPA will be continuing to work on medical marijuana legislative efforts in three states -- Alabama, Connecticut, and New Jersey -- as well as implementing the hard-won New Mexico medical marijuana law's distribution provisions, and working with local activists in Maine to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot there. The Connecticut legislature passed a medical marijuana bill last year, only to see it vetoed by Republican Gov. Jody Rell. None of the efforts in the other states have gotten that far yet.

"We will go back and push for medical marijuana in Connecticut," said Nadelmann. "But again, it will depend on our ability to get Gov. Rell to be more flexible. Our legislative sponsor in Alabama has said she is prepared to run with it again, and our New Jersey office has lined up a bunch of legislators to support medical marijuana," he added.

Meanwhile, while MPP is eyeing another legalization run in Nevada four years from now, activists in Oregon's fractious cannabis community are preparing a pair of competing initiatives for the 2010 ballot. Oregon NORML is working on the Oregon Tax Act of 2010, which would regulate and tax adult sales, license the cultivation of marijuana for sale in state-run liquor stores and adults-only businesses, allow for adults to grow their own and farmers to grow hemp without a license, and remove taxation from medical marijuana.

While the Tax Act would do away with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) by rendering it redundant, Voter Power, the group of activists who got OMMA passed a decade ago, have their own initiative in the works. The Voter Power initiative would allow for dispensaries and Patient Resource Centers (PRCs) to sell smokeable marijuana, edibles, tinctures, and lozenges to patients, for growers to legally sell marijuana to dispensaries and PRCs, and for 10% of gross revenues to go back into the Oregon Medial Marijuana Program.

But wait, there's more: According to Kampia, the ACLU is organizing for decriminalization efforts in Montana and Washington, and activists in five additional states -- Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin -- are working on medical marijuana efforts in their state legislatures.

Right now, all eyes are on November 4, but reforming the drug laws is a work in process, and that process is set to advance in the coming years.

 

NATO, US Deepen Anti-Drug Operations in Afghanistan in Bid to Throttle Taliban
Stop The Drug War
October 19th 2008

 

The NATO and US forces battling Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan are on the verge of expanding their counterinsurgency efforts by getting more deeply involved in trying to suppress the country's booming opium trade. In so doing, they are stepping into tricky territory because they risk alienating large swathes of the population that are dependent on the trade to feed themselves and their families and driving them right into the tender embrace of the Taliban.
The new, more aggressive anti-drug stance will come in two forms. On one hand, NATO has committed for the first time to actively target and track down drug traffickers and heroin-processing laboratories. On the other hand, US military forces training the Afghan military will now begin accompanying Afghan soldiers as they provide force protection for Afghan government poppy eradication teams.

The more aggressive posture comes as the political and military situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen. Some 242 NATO and US troops have been killed in fighting there this year, 10 more than last year with two and a half months to go, and last year was the worst so far for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Some 33,000 US troops, including 13,000 under the command of the ISAF and 20,000 under direct US command, and nearly 40,000 NATO soldiers, are now in Afghanistan, and the Bush administration is calling for an additional 20,000 US troops to be deployed there next year.Afganistan map

The Taliban and related insurgents have shown increased military capabilities, in part because they are able to supply themselves with funds generated by the opium trade. The United Nations estimates that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are making perhaps $100 million a year from taxing poppy farmers and providing protection to drug traffickers.

A leaked draft of an as yet unreleased US National Intelligence Estimate last week revealed that US intelligence agencies believe the war in Afghanistan is "on a downward spiral," with part of the problem resting with a corrupt government under President Hamid Karzai and part of the problem linked to the "destabilizing impact" of the opium trade.

That deteriorating situation impelled US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head to Europe to try to bring reluctant NATO members on board for a more aggressive anti-drug strategy last week. European countries have been reluctant to step into the morass of anti-drug efforts there, citing the risk of alienating the population and arguing that law enforcement is the responsibility of the Afghan government.

"Part of the problem that we face is that the Taliban make somewhere between $60 million and $80 million or more a year from the drug trafficking," Gates said at the NATO meeting in Budapest. "If we have the opportunity to go after drug lords and drug laboratories and try to interrupt this flow of cash to the Taliban, that seems to me like a legitimate security endeavour." By last Friday, NATO had signed on. According to a Saturday NATO press release, "Based on the request of the Afghan government, consistent with the appropriate United Nations Security Council resolutions, under the existing operational plan, ISAF can act in concert with the Afghans against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency, in the context of counter-narcotics, subject to authorization of respective nations."

"At the request of the Afghan government, I am grateful that the North Atlantic Council has given me the authority to expand ISAF's role in counter-narcotics operations," added NATO Supreme Allied Commander US Gen. John Craddock in a statement the same day. "We now have the ability to move forward in an area that affects the security and stability of Afghanistan. It will allow us to reduce the funding and income to the insurgents, which will enhance the force protection of all ISAF and Afghan National Security Force personnel."

That's what Gates and the Bush administration wanted to hear. "It is just going to be part of regular military operations. This is not going to be a special mission," Gates said Saturday," adding that the counter-drug effort was likely to focus on the southern part of the country. "It starts with the commander of ISAF, and then it would be a question of what forces are available. Obviously the United States and the UK are interested in doing this. I think several others would but didn't speak out," he said. "I am fairly optimistic about the future," Gates said. "There is also an understanding that NATO can't fail in Afghanistan."

To that end, the US is taking another step deeper into the Afghan drug war: Using US ground troops to help eradicate poppy fields. The London Daily Mail, among other media, reported that a small number of US soldiers who are training the country's Poppy Eradication Force will accompany their charges as they head into the poppy fields around the beginning of the new year.

The idea is to target land owned by corrupt Afghan power brokers, especially in southern Helmand province, which accounts for the majority of Afghanistan's 93% share of global opium production. That is also an area where the Taliban presence is heavily felt. Some 75 Afghan eradicators were killed last year.

"There shouldn't be any no-go areas for eradication teams in Helmand, and in order to do that they are going to need more force protection," an unnamed British embassy counter-narcotics official told the Daily Mail. "Land that's controlled by major land owners, corrupt officials or major narco-figures is land that should be targeted. Having force protection is more likely to make that possible.'"
A US military spokesman told the Daily Mail there are 11 US soldiers training the Afghan Counter Narcotics Battalion in Kandahar. They will deploy along with Afghan soldiers on eradication missions, he said.

The US has long argued for stronger eradication efforts, but was rebuffed by the Karzai government when it floated the idea of aerial spraying earlier this year. But with manual eradication wiping out only 3.5% of the crop this year, pressure to do more is strong. The question is whether doing more to fight the drug trade will help or hinder the effort to build a strong, stable government in Kabul.

"This whole issue has been discussed in different forums in Afghanistan for some time now, said Sher Jah Ahmadzai, an associate at the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. "The government rejected aerial eradication for various reasons, even though it was desired by the US. But this NATO move is being welcomed by the government and the international agencies because now they are targeting the drug lords, not the farmers themselves. If you go after the farmers, it could backfire on NATO and the Afghan government, so going after the big drug lords is the viable option now. Everyone knows who they are," he said.

But not all drug lords are equal, said Ahmadzai. "There are many drug lords who are involved in the government, there are high ministers who are believed to have been drug lords before they were appointed, there are a number of people in the provincial governments who are involved, but the government is not going to go after them because that could create a backlash," he said. "But the other drug lords, the ones who are openly supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, they will go after them."

Only with a stronger Afghan state sometime in the future would it be feasible to actually go after all drug traffickers, said Ahmadzai. "The next phase would be strengthening the Afghan government so it can purge itself," he said.

But Ahmadzai's view is much rosier than some. Critics of the move said it would only worsen the insurgency.Bush "The NATO governments did say they will try to target drug trafficking operations that seem to be in league with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which makes this policy shift merely unwise instead of egregiously unwise," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. "But pressuring NATO and the Karzai government on this simply guarantees that we will drive many people back into the arms of the Taliban, and that's a short-sighted strategy," he argued.

"The Americans have been training Afghan counter-narcotics forces, but they were creating problems for the government because they were aiming straight at the farmers, and the farmers would go straight to the Taliban," agreed Ahmadzai. "If you go after the farmers, you risk alienating them. If you don't, the Taliban and Al Qaeda profit. It's really a double-edged sword."

"The underlying problem is that the drug trade is such a huge part of the Afghan economy," said Carpenter. "The UN says there are some 509,000 families involved in growing or other aspects of the drug trade. If you just consider a standard nuclear family, that's about 15% of the population involved in the drug trade, but when you consider that Afghanistan is very much an extended family- and clan-based society, the real number is more like a third to 40% of the population earning a livelihood off the drug trade. There is no realistic way to shut that down."

There is an alternative, said Carpenter. "US policy-makers could just look the other way, ignore the drug commerce, and focus on trying to weaken the Taliban and Al Qaeda, our mortal adversaries," he said.

While that would leave the Taliban and Al Qaeda free to fund themselves from opium profits, that's a price we would have to pay, Carpenter said. "No doubt those groups derive revenue from the drug trade, but unfortunately for our strategy, so do Karzai's allies. Most major power brokers are involved in some way with the illegal drug trade. It's such a lucrative enterprise because of the black market premium that anyone who exercises power and influence in that society is tempted to get involved."

Noting that the NATO plan to go after only traffickers linked to the insurgency would in effect remove the competition for government-linked drug traffickers, Carpenter said the decision was no surprise. "I don't think that is a deliberate motive, but to the extent that the Karzai government is interested in cooperating, it will be precisely because it will eliminate the competition for those traffickers with backing in Kabul. Expecting the Kabul government to truly suppress the trade would be like asking Japan to eliminate its auto and high-tech industries. It isn't going to happen," he said.

 

Drug Policy and the Reform Vote in the Presidential Race
Stop The Drug War
October 12th 2008

 

With the presidential election now less than a month away, Democratic candidate Barack Obama appears poised for victory, according to the most recent polls, though the race is far from over. From the beginning of the campaign, drug reform and drug policy have barely registered in the discourse, a state of affairs that has grown even more pronounced as the country slips into economic crisis and the news media focuses obsessively on the two major party candidates, their campaigns, and their responses to the crisis.


The White House
Despite the silence at the presidential level, there is an emerging consensus in the country that the war on drugs is a failure -- 76% of respondents in a Zogby poll last week said so -- and there are several presidential candidates whose drug policy platforms actually appeal to drug reformers. With one major party candidate or another establishing clear leads in most states, the presidential election will be decided in a handful of battleground states, and that means drug reformers in the remaining states have the option of voting for candidates whose views resemble their own without jeopardizing the chances of their favored major party candidate. http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/whitehouse.gif

When it comes to the basic underpinnings of US drug policy, Sens. McCain and Obama are similar, and non-reformist. When it comes to some important details, however, differences do appear. The similarities are well demonstrated by the candidates' responses to a questionnaire from the International Association of Police Chiefs about their views on drug policy, among other issues. The question and their responses are worth reading in their entirety:

"Narcotics abuse and trafficking continues to be a problem that state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers face every day. How would you ensure that enforcement, prevention, and treatment programs receive equal resources and assistance to combat this growing problem?" asked the police chiefs.

Here is McCain's response:

 

"Illegal narcotics are a scourge that I have fought against for my entire legislative career, and I believe this fight must begin with prevention and enforcement. That is why I introduced the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1988 during my first term in the Senate and supported the Drug Free Borders Act of 1999, which authorized over $1 billion in funds to bolster our ability to prevent drugs from flowing through our borders and ports by improving technology and expanding our interdiction forces. As president, I would continue these efforts to ensure that our nation's children are protected from the influence of illegal drugs and that the drug peddlers are brought to justice for their crimes.

We must also realize that treatment is an important element of the mission to eradicate drug abuse. I supported the Second Chance Act, which authorized up to $360 million for violator reentry programs in 2009 and 2010. Last year, approximately 750,000 inmates were released from custody and returned to our communities, and typically one half will return to incarceration. The Second Chance Act funds programs that prepare prisoners for the transition from prison to society by providing job training, mentors, counseling, and more. Some programs report reducing recidivism rates by 50 percent. These programs could save American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. On average, the annual cost of incarcerating a prisoner exceeds $20,000 -- a number that increased sixfold between 1982 and 2002. As president, I believe we should support having parents with children in the home rather than in prison, former prisoners working and paying taxes, and citizens contributing to rather than taking from the community."

Here is Obama's response:

"Drug trafficking has long been a scourge on our society, and we need a national drug policy that focuses on tackling new threats with tough enforcement measures while also providing for robust prevention and treatment programs. All three of these components -- enforcement, prevention, and treatment -- are critical to a complete national drug control strategy, and each will be a key part of my agenda in an Obama-Biden administration. Funding the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program is essential to avoid law enforcement layoffs and cuts to hundreds of antidrug and antigang efforts across the country. The administration has consistently proposed to cut or eliminate funding for the Byrne-JAG Program, which funds antidrug and antigang task forces across the country. Byrne-JAG also funds prevention and drug treatment programs that are critical to reducing US demand for drugs. Since 2000, this program has been cut more than 83 percent. These cuts threaten hundreds of multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces -- many that took years to create and develop. In my home state of Illinois, the Byrne grants have been used effectively to fund anti-meth task forces, and I have consistently fought for increased funding for this program. As president, I will restore funding to this critical program.

Finally, it's important that we address the crime and security problems in Latin America that have clear spillover effects in the United States in terms of gang activity and drug trafficking, which is why I introduced a comprehensive plan to promote regional security in the Americas in June. I will direct my attorney general and homeland security secretary to meet with their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts in the first year of my presidency to produce a regional strategy to combat drug trafficking, domestic and transnational gang activity, and organized crime. A hemispheric pact on security, crime, and drugs will permit the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean to advance serious and measurable drug demand reduction goals, while fostering cooperation on intelligence and investigating criminal activity. The United States will also work to strengthen civilian law enforcement and judicial institutions in the region by promoting anticorruption safeguards and police reform.

I will also support the efforts of our border states to foster cooperation and constructive engagement with the region. Arizona, for instance, has entered into agreements with its neighboring Mexican state, Sonora, to cooperate on fighting border violence and drug trafficking. These agreements have led to the training of Sonora detectives to investigate wire transfers used to pay smugglers in their state; improved radio communication; and better tracking of fugitive and stolen vehicles. The Arizona-Sonora partnership -- based on information sharing, technical assistance, and training -- provides an excellent model for regional cooperation on security issues. An Obama-Biden administration will support these initiatives and will work to integrate these efforts into the region's coordinated security pact."

While the Obama and McCain campaigns differ slightly in their emphases on different drug policy-related issues, there is more similarity than difference between them. Both refer to drugs as a "scourge," both brag about their anti-drug achievements, both support US drug war objectives across the border and overseas.

But even though there is much to unite Obama and McCain on overall agreement with drug prohibition, there are differences, too, some of them significant. While neither Obama nor McCain support marijuana decriminalization, Obama once did, until he reversed position during this year's election campaign. Whether Obama's flip-flop on decrim says more about his good initial instincts or his political opportunism is open to interpretation.

Similarly, as the Sentencing Project showed in a March report on the candidates' positions on drug and criminal justice policy, while McCain has supported mandatory minimum sentences for "drug dealers," Obama in 2003 told an NAACP debate he would "vote to abolish" mandatory minimums. By this year, Obama had slightly softened his stand on mandatory minimums, saying on his web site, "I will immediately review these sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders."

Although Obama has tacked to the center (read: right) during the campaign season, other of his drug policy positions remain superior to McCain's. Obama supported lifting the ban on federal funding of needle exchanges; McCain did not address it. Obama explicitly supports drug courts; McCain does not, although he has stated he thinks too many drug users -- not drug dealers -- are in prison. Obama supported reducing the disparity between powder and crack cocaine offenders, even sponsoring a bill that would equalize sentences; McCain has not addressed the subject. Obama has said he would stop the raids on medical marijuana patients in California; McCain would not. Obama sees drug policy in the broader context of social justice; McCain has not opined on that idea.

Still, contrast Obama and McCain's drug policy positions with those of the Greens, the Libertarians, and the Ralph Nader campaign, and real differences emerge -- mainly between the bipartisan drug policy consensus and the three alternative campaigns.

For former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), now running as the Green Party presidential candidate, the Green Party platform lays out a clear drug reform agenda:

Law enforcement is placing too much emphasis on drug-related and petty street crimes, and not enough on prosecution of corporate, white collar, and environmental crimes. Defrauding someone of their life savings is the same as robbery.

Any attempt to combat crime must begin with restoration of community. We encourage positive approaches that build hope, responsibility and a sense of belonging. Prisons should be the sentence of last resort, reserved for violent criminals. Those convicted of nonviolent offenses should be handled by other programs including halfway houses, electronic monitoring, work-furlough, community service and restitution programs. Substance abuse should be addressed as a medical problem requiring treatment, not imprisonment, and a failed drug test should not result in revocation of parole. Incarcerated prisoners of the drug war should be released to the above programs.

Repeal state "Three Strikes" laws. Restore judicial discretion in sentencing, as opposed to mandatory sentencing. Stop forfeiture of the property of unconvicted suspects. It is state piracy and denial of due process.

Implement a moratorium on prison construction. The funds saved should be used for alternatives to incarceration.

We call for decriminalization of victimless crimes. For example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

We call for legalization of industrial hemp and all its many uses.

We call for an end to the "war on drugs." We support expanded drug counseling and treatment.

Likewise, former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), running as the Libertarian Party candidate, also has a strong drug reform platform:

Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves.... We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused.

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current US government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups. [Ed: Presumably portions of this plank can be taken to have bearing on the US-imposed international drug war.]

Like the Greens and the Libertarians, the Ralph Nader campaign has a solid drug reform platform, as suggested by its title, "The Failed War on Drugs:"

The Nader campaign supports ending the war on drugs and replacing it with a health-based treatment and prevention-focused approach. Enforcement of drug laws is racially unfair, and dissolution of the drug war would begin to make the types of changes needed in our criminal justice system.

According to the federal Household Survey of drug use, "most current illicit drug users are white. There were an estimated 9.9 million whites (72 percent of all users), 2.0 million blacks (15 percent), and 1.4 million Hispanics (10 percent) who were current illicit drug users in 1998." And yet, blacks constitute 36.8% of those arrested for drug violations, over 42% of those in federal prisons for drug violations. African-Americans comprise almost 58% of those in state prisons for drug felonies; Hispanics account for 20.7%.

The drug war has failed -- we spend nearly $50 billion annually on the drug war and yet problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. We need to acknowledge that drug abuse is a health problem with social and economic consequences. Therefore, the solutions are -- public health, social services, economic development and tender supportive time with addicts in our depersonalized society. Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control, not at the center. It is time to bring some currently illegal drugs within the law by regulating, taxing and controlling them. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, violence and homicides related to underground drug dealing.

But also like the Greens and the Libertarians, Nader has virtually no chance of winning any state. Most recent presidential campaign polls don't even bother to include anyone besides Obama and McCain, and the most recent poll that included the three minor party candidates, late July Angus-Reid poll, found McKinney, Barr, and Nader combined for only 10% of the vote. Nader polled 6%, Barr 3%, and McKinney 1%.

Still, drug reformers must once again face that perennial question: Should I vote for the major party candidate who is less bad on drug policy, or should I vote for a candidate that reflects my views on this issue? Not surprisingly, there is a variety of views.

Veteran drug reformer Kevin Zeese acted as a Nader spokesman during the 2004 campaign and ran for the US Senate in Maryland as the nominee of both the Green and the Libertarian parties. He still believes third party politics is the answer, he told the Chronicle.

"Until reformers have the courage to vote for what we want why will anyone else? Neither duopoly party will end the drug war -- they are not even discussing it," he said. "The better duopolist picked a leading drug war hawk as his vice president. No doubt many will hope that Biden will pull a Nixon goes to China and reverse himself -- but that is really blind hope."

Drug reformers, especially those in non-battleground states, should send the major parties a message, said Zeese. "Voting for Obama is a true wasted vote in a non-battleground state," he said. "We know how the Electoral College will vote in 40 states. If you disagree with Obama or McCain -- why vote for them in those states? It is important for these parties to see that people are not satisfied with them. If you vote for Obama or McCain when you disagree with them then you are sending a signal of agreement. Why should he change? If you vote against them, they know they have to change in order to earn your vote."

Veteran drug reformer Cliff Thornton, who ran for the governorship of Connecticut on a drug reform platform as a Green Party candidate in 2006, agrees with Zeese. "McCain will just be more of the same, and I don't really know what Obama will do," he said. "Let's just note that Joe Biden was one of the architects of mandatory minimums. If Obama wins, I'm afraid we will have to wait for the next election to see any progress. We need to be supporting alternatives, and a vote for a Green is vote for a Green," he said.

But for Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, the differences between Obama and McCain on drug policy, while marginal, are significant. "In terms of reducing the harms associated with both drugs and drug prohibition, the difference between Obama and McCain is big," Piper argued. "Obama supports repealing the federal syringe ban, eliminating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, reforming mandatory minimums, and shifting resources from incarceration to treatment. McCain hasn't said anything major one way or the other about syringe exchange programs or the crack/powder disparity from what I can tell, but has publicly made fun of medical marijuana patients and introduced legislation to essentially ban methadone."

While conceding that it is difficult to predict how either Obama or McCain would govern, Piper argued that an Obama presidency is much more likely to see drug reform. "In terms of seeing a wide range of reforms at the federal level over the next eight years, it seems far more likely to happen under Obama than McCain," he said.

Not likely, retorted Zeese. "Biden will be whispering drug war nonsense in his ears, and his past use of marijuana and cocaine will be reasons that stop him from doing anything sensible," he predicted. "The best we can hope for from Obama is benign neglect. There will be many other domestic and international crises for them to deal with so drug policy will not be high on their agenda -- that is good news -- because Biden is the source of most of what is wrong with modern drug policy. Hopefully, he is kept busy doing something else."

And, said Piper, Obama is not talking about ending drug prohibition, dismantling the prison-industrial complex, and putting violent drug trafficking organizations out of business. "Only Barr, Nader, and McKinney are talking about major reform. They're speaking for the 76% of Americans who say the war on drugs has failed. But they've been excluded from the debates and are largely being ignored by the media. I know a lot of drug policy reformers who are voting for one of them. I know a lot, probably more, who are voting for Obama, and some who are voting for McCain."

Who drug reformers should vote for remains a tricky, personal question, said Piper. "There are a lot of variables to consider, including weighing the possibility of important, short-term incremental gains against the need for long-term systematic change; pondering the question of whether or not change on the margin facilitates or obstructs major change; deciding if the drug war should be the only issue you vote on or just one of many; thinking about the political and cultural changes that have to occur to bring down prohibition and how this election fits into that; considering what state you live in; and wrestling with your conscience," he said, ticking off the issues confronting drug reform voters. "I don't think there is one right answer."

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

 

 

Salvia Divinorum: US Military Bases in England, Okinawa Say No to Sally D
News2020.com
September 28th 2008

US Marine commanders in Okinawa and US Air Force commanders in England have moved this month to ban salvia divinorum, the fast-acting, short-lived hallucinogen that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Although there is no general stricture against salvia in the US armed forces, the bans are the latest in a small but growing list of military bases or commands that have banned the substance.


In Okinawa, Marine Corps Bases Japan issued an order banning salvia and other "legal highs" on September 10. The other substances included in the order were mitragyna speciosa korth, spice, blue lotus, convolvulaceae argyreia nervosa, lysergic acid amide, amanitas mushrooms, datura, absinthe, and 5-MEO-DMT. The order prohibits the use, possession, or distribution of those substances by Marine Corps personnel and base workers.

The new order builds on Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5300.28D, which prohibits abusing lawful substances, such as cough syrup, edge dressing and keyboard cleaner to produce "intoxication, excitement, or stupefaction of the central nervous system." Both the Navy order and Marine Corps Bases Japan order are general orders under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Violators face administrative action, court martial, or both, with a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, two years in the brig, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

The driving force behind the new order, officials stated, is to eliminate any uncertainty that substances used to "get high" are prohibited. They also cited fears that the drug use could alienate their Japanese hosts.

"Any substance abuse can affect individual and unit readiness," said John Velker, the director of the Marine Corps Community Services Substance Abuse Counseling Center, adding that people turn to drugs for various reasons. "There is a better way to live and deal with frustration than trying to get high."

Two days later, Col. Jay Silveria, commanding officer of the 48th Fighter Wing, based at Britain's RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell air bases, issued an order banning salvia and an herbal concoction known as Spice. Violators could be booted out of the Air Force or court-martialed.

"The presence of persons, in a military environment, who engage in drug abuse through the use of either salvia divinorum or Spice, seriously impairs the ability to accomplish the military's mission," Silveria wrote in the order. "Members who abuse drugs such as salvia divinorum or Spice adversely affect the ability of all units at the 48th Fighter Wing."

"This order spends a little time talking about these two products in an effort to warn people," said Air Force Lt. Col. John Hartsell, the staff judge advocate at RAF Lakenheath. "It's something we got to keep the airmen away from. "It is one of those things that has kind of come up in the United States and has begun to pop up randomly in Europe."

While the Department of Health and Human Services estimated in February that 1.8 million people, most of them young, had tried salvia divinorum, it doesn't appear to be a big problem with airmen in England. Hartsell said he was aware of only one incident involving a serviceman using salvia.

While salvia has been banned in some US states, it is not a controlled substance under federal law. But at least four US Air Force bases -- Malmstrom AFB in Montana, Hill AFB in Utah, Nellis AFB in Nevada, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma -- have already banned it.

 

Scottish Heroin Crackdown Sparks Violent Crime Increase
Drug War Chronicle
Sept 18th 2008

In an object lesson on the unintended consequences of drug prohibition enforcement, police in Dundee have admitted that their crackdown on heroin has led to an increase in violent crime. Police called it "an unfortunate side effect" of the crackdown, which they qualified as a success.

Tayside Police undertook Operation Waterloo earlier this year in an effort to target drug dealers and users in the Hilltown and Maryfield areas of Dundee. Assistant Chief Constable Clive Murray told the Tayside Joint Police Board 39 people had been arrested, and there was anecdotal evidence of price increases and disruption of the heroin market.

But he also conceded that the operation had driven up the number of assaults and robberies. In the first quarter of 2008, serious and violent crime in the area was at the same level as a year earlier, but by midsummer, as the crackdown raged, crimes began to increase.

"Most of the increase occurred in Central Division and more recent analysis indicates that out of 46 serious assaults recorded, 12 involved the use of a knife or bladed instrument," Murray told the board. "In 82% of robberies detected, we are dealing with people with heroin addiction," he said, adding that in many violent crimes both attacker and victim were addicts.

Prostitution had also increased since the crackdown, he said. But there was good news, too, Murray was quick to add.
.
"Heroin overdoses are down," Murray said. "Over August there were only two drugs deaths in the Central Division. The good news for me is that intelligence suggests there are people going voluntarily to AD Action and other agencies for treatment. We have been told by addicts they welcome the operation because it gives them a chance to get off heroin."

Still, under questioning from the police board, Murray conceded that while he thought Operation Waterloo was a good model, it needed further development. "It is a good model and it will be developed further for areas that create this hostile environment," he said. "If you ask me, 'Did you get it all right on this occasion?', the answer is no. We have to learn from the experience. We have to involve and work with partners. Police are there primarily to deal with enforcement."

Although some addicts may have told police they welcomed the crackdown, the rising number of crimes attributed to addicts suggests that many more just want to do their heroin -- badly enough that they will rob others to get money to pay for it.

Drug War Issues Heroin - Policing
Consequences of Prohibition Crime & Violence

 

 

Seattle's Hempfest Again Draws Multitudes
Goldenseed.co.uk
August 23rd 2008

Last Saturday and Sunday, Seattle's Myrtle Edwards Park, a mile-long strip of land fronting Puget Sound just north of downtown, once again played host to the Seattle Hempfest. And once again, the Hempfest lived up to its reputation as the world's largest marijuana "protestival."

With a core staff of around a hundred, led by the indefatigable Vivian McPeak, and about a thousand volunteers who worked to set up the event, keep it running smoothly, and tear it all down at the end of the weekend, Hempfest is not only a celebration of cannabis culture but also the living embodiment of the grassroots cooperative activism that has flourished for years in Seattle.

From its beginnings as a small pro-hemp event 17 years ago, Hempfest has become the coming out party for America's cannabis nation, which in Seattle includes not only youthful stoners, wizened hippies, and Mr. Bong Head (a guy wearing a working bong contraption on his head), but punks, Goths, ravers, uncostumed twenty- and thirty-somethings, families with children in strollers, and -- the biggest cannabis celebrity in town -- travel writer Rick Steves. Steves once again called for the US to follow the lead of Europe in relaxing marijuana laws.

Over the event's two-day span, an estimated 150,000+ people showed up to see and be seen, listen to four stages worth of live music, peruse the hundreds of vendors' stands for the newest technologies and best buys on glass pipes, t-shirts, hemp items, and other pot-related accoutrements and accessories.

And to get high in public with their comrades. Seattle police have for years now had an accommodation with Hempfest, even more so since the city's voters told law enforcement very clearly in 2003 that marijuana should be the city's lowest law enforcement priority. Police were on the scene, patrolling the park's sidewalks in pairs, but appeared oblivious to the open pot-smoking going on all over the place.

In effect, Hempfest is not only the largest marijuana protestival in the world, it is also a massive act of civil disobedience. Even though Seattle has its lowest priority policy and Washington state has decriminalized pot possession, marijuana use and possession is still against the law. As one speaker addressed the crowd, pointing out this fact and telling listeners that despite all the progress they had made, they were still criminals, the crowd responded with an enormous cheer.

The only real tension at Hempfest occurred when a small group of sign-holding fundamentalist preachers berated the passing crowds, telling them they were going to hell for their sins. That sparked occasional heated discussions. At one point Saturday, Hempfest organizers were heard threatening to send a squad of transgender people to scare off the fanatics.

Some Hempfest attendees took a break from browsing, shopping, and listening to music to actually listen to between-band speeches by activists calling for further marijuana law reform. While decriminalization and legalization were predictably common themes, this year's Hempfest emphasized two other issues: The promotion of hemp and the battle over Washington state's medical marijuana law, especially the ongoing fight over what are appropriate quantities of marijuana allowable for patients. The state is currently tangling with patients and advocates over what constitutes a minimum 60-day supply of their medicine. An earlier proposal called for 35 ounces of marijuana, but Gov. Christine Gregoire sought a review of that, and the state is now recommending a 24-ounce limit.

Besides between-band speeches, political activism also took place throughout Hempfest at the Hemposium tent, although in an indication of the role politics played in the larger festival, crowds in the tent numbered in the dozens, as opposed to the tens of thousands listening to music.

"Every single patient I know will not be in compliance with the 60-day rule. It's not going to work. It's driven by law enforcement, not science," said Douglas Hiatt, a lawyer who represents medical-marijuana users, as he spoke at one of the Hemposium sessions. Hiatt was among the activists calling on patients and supporters to come out for an August 25 action in support of higher limits.

But for most Hempfest attendees, the event was a party, a celebration, not a political seminar. While that may be a disappointment to activists, it is also a demonstration of the breadth and scope of Pacific Northwest cannabis culture. It has gone mainstream, with all the apolitical apathy abundant in the broader culture.

And if Hempfest was a little too mellow for your taste, you could always check out Methfest, not a celebration of amphetamine culture but a scary rock music show put on in nearby Belltown.

 

 

Britain's Drug War Not Working, Think-Tank Finds' now there's a supprise, still keeps them in work eh !!!
DRCNet
August 1st 2008

Traditional drug war law enforcement tactics have not worked in Britain, according to research released Wednesday by the UK Drug Policy Commission. The commission is a non-governmental body that lists among its objectives providing "independent and objective analysis of UK drug policy."

In the study, Tackling drug markets and distribution networks in the UK: a review of the recent literature, the researchers reported that British drug markets are "extremely resilient" and that increasing seizures of drugs had had little impact at the street level. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on drug enforcement, "there is remarkably little evidence of its effectiveness in disrupting markets and reducing availability," the authors concluded.

"We were struck by just how little evidence there is to show that the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on UK enforcement each year has made a sustainable impact and represents value for money, and no published material to allow comparisons of different enforcement approaches," said Tim McSweeney, one of the authors of the review.

"All enforcement agencies aim to reduce drug harms and most have formed local partnerships to do this, but they still tend to be judged by measures of traditional supply-side activity such as seizure rates," said the commission's David Blakey. "This is a pity as it is very difficult to show that increasing drug seizures actually leads to less drug-related harm. Of course, drug dealers must be brought to justice, but we should recognize and encourage the wider role that the police and other law enforcement officials can play in reducing the impact of drug markets on our communities."

Still, the authors of the report suggested that law enforcement does have a role to play, particularly in focusing on drug markets with the most "collateral damage," such as gang violence, human trafficking, and drug-related criminality. Police need to work closely with local communities, the authors said, as well as recognizing the unintended and unanticipated consequences of enforcement measures, such as a "crackdown" that merely moves dealers to nearby neighborhoods.

 

Southwest Asia: Former US Anti-Drug Official Accuses Afghan Government of Complicity in Drug Trade -- US and NATO Not Doing Much Either, He Complains
DrugwarChronicles
July 27th 2008

Former State Department official Thomas Schweich, who was the US government's point man in the effort to wipe out the opium and heroin trade in Afghanistan until last month, has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of protecting drug traffickers and obstructing anti-drug efforts in an article to be published in the New York Times magazine on Sunday, but which appeared on the newspaper's web site Wednesday night.

"While it is true that Karzai's Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters," Schweich wrote. "Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government," he wrote, adding that drug traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials. Schweich accused Karzai of resisting heightened anti-drug efforts and opposing the eradication of opium poppy fields, long a dream of US drug warriors.

"Karzai was playing us like a fiddle," Schweich wrote. "The US and its allies would fight the Taliban; Karzai's friends could get rich off the drug trade; he could blame the West for his problems; and in 2009 he would be elected to a new term."

The Karzai government wasn't the only problem, Schweich wrote. He criticized both the US military and NATO forces for indifference, if not outright hostility, toward the anti-drug battle and argued that failing to cut Taliban profits from the drug trade means fighting could continue indefinitely.

"The trouble is that the fighting is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban can finance themselves through drugs -- and as long as the Kabul government is dependent on opium to sustain its own hold on power," he said.

Almost everyone is to blame for the Afghan drug mess, the now-retired drug warrior fumed. "An odd cabal of timorous Europeans, myopic media outlets, corrupt Afghans, blinkered Pentagon officers, politically motivated Democrats and the Taliban were preventing the implementation of an effective counter-drug program," he said.

In a Thursday press conference in Kabul, Karzai rejected Schweich's charges."As I had said two years ago, Afghanistan never takes the blame (for the drugs threat). The Afghan nation due to desperation, war... has been forced to resort to this issue," Karzai replied when asked to respond to Schweich's comments. "Without doubt, some Afghans are drugs smugglers, but majority of them are the international mafia who do not live in Afghanistan," he said.

Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world's opium. Production has expanded dramatically since the US invaded and overthrew the Taliban in late 2001.

 

MAPS News July 18th 2008--NIDA Delays Vaporizer Research, Averts MAPS Lawsuit



Dear Eugene,

There’s heaps of exciting news to report this month. Here's what's going on:

  1. MAPS’ Board of Directors Decide to Expand MDMA/PTSD Research
  2. NIDA Delays Vaporizer Research, Averts MAPS Lawsuit
  3. Donald Abrams’ Clinical Medical Marijuana Study Seeking Pain Patients
  4. MAPS First US MDMA/PTSD Study Achingly Close to Completion
  5. Libra Foundation Donates $25,000 for U.S. MDMA/PTSD Research
  6. Potential Sites for Future MAPS MDMA/PTSD Studies Visited in France and Spain Larger Dose Tested in Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study
  7. Second LSD Session in Swiss LSD/end-of-life Anxiety Study Completed
  8. Dr. Halpern Submits Protocol Changes for MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study at Harvard
  9. Opportunity to Subsidize Publication of Ayahausca Book by Bia Labate
  10. Johns Hopkins Research Team Publishes Follow-Up Report on Psilocybin/Spirituality Study and Guidelines for Hallucinogen Research
  11. Article by Martin Lee on James Ketchum’s US Army Mind-Control Research
  12. You Still Have a Chance to Win Glassware Signed By Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin
  13. MAPS Will Appear at Psychedelic Summer Festivals—Volunteers Wanted
  14. Invitation to Camp at Entheon Village with MAPS Staff at Burning Man
  15. MAPS Welcomes New Communications and Marketing Director Randy Hencken
  16. Farewell From Guest Editor David Jay Brown



* * * Dues-paying MAPS members are empowering staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase books, clothes, art, and other merchandise, visit: www.maps.org/catalog * * *


1. MAPS’ Board of Directors Decide to Expand MDMA/PTSD Research:

MAPS’ annual Board of Directors meeting took place from June 14-June 15, shortly after the end of MAPS’ Fiscal Year on May 31, 2008. Board members John Gilmore, Ashawna Hailey, and Rick Doblin reviewed the exciting and fruitful year together. Doblin spoke later on the phone with Marybeth Home, the fourth Board member, to obtain her input on what had been discussed. After reviewing the past twelve months, the board members considered this past year to be MAPS’ most successful year ever. MAPS had an annual income this year of roughly $1.65 million and expenses of roughly $1.4 million, and we made progress on a wide range of important projects.

A key decision was made by the Board about MDMA/PTSD research. The data that MAPS has been receiving from the U.S. MDMA/PTSD study has been so promising that the board members have decided to move ahead and expand the research further, to develop MDMA into a prescription medicine. We had previously been thinking that we would wait to compare the data from the MDMA/PTSD research with data from the psychedelic/ end-of-life anxiety research before deciding which patient population to prioritize. It’s now clear that the data from the MDMA/PTSD study is so promising that it deserves to go forward, independently of whether we later decide to move forward with the psychedelic/end-of-life anxiety studies.

The Harvard MDMA/cancer-anxiety study (PDF), our Swiss LSD/end-of-life anxiety study (PDF), and our proposed psilocybin/cancer anxiety study are all progressing more slowly than we’d anticipated. Depending on the results, we may decide at some future point to go forward, to expand those studies as well, but right now we’re just in the early Phase 2 stage of those studies.

Because of the successes of the past, MAPS is now looking forward with a clearer view on what it will take to develop psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medicines. Also, because MAPS is in it for the long-run, the Board has approved adding retirement benefits to the package of benefits offered to MAPS staff.

MAPS is planning ahead of time for growth, because if a Democratic president is elected in the next election, then research might be prioritized over politics, and the DEA might issue a license to Professor Craker for marijuana cultivation, breaking the U.S. government’s monopoly on selling marijuana for research. If Senator Obama is elected and follows through on his statement that the medical marijuana issue should be resolved through scientific research, MAPS will have to figure out how to build the organization so that we can simultaneously handle multiple drug development efforts, and carry forward with our ambitious goals.

2. NIDA Delays Vaporizer Research, Averts MAPS Lawsuit:

On June 18th, after a five month review process, the National Institute of Drug Abuse-Public Health Service (NIDA-PHS) finally responded to our revised vaporizer research protocol, submitted for review January 16, 2008. The submission included three supportive letters from peer-reviewers, confirming the scientific merit of the study and urging NIDA-PHS to approve it. By responding, NIDA/PHS avoided MAPS filing another lawsuit for unreasonable delay, which we’d intended to file in the middle of August.

MAPS has still been waiting two years and nine months for NIDA/PHS to respond to our September 2005 reply (PDF) to their rejection of our previous vaporizer protocol (PDF), which we initially submitted in June 2003, after which it took them more than two years to evaluate! We submitted the revised protocol in January 2008 to see if that might motivate NIDA to respond, which it has.

According to Rick, “The review is filled with issues designed to delay and exhaust us, that have little importance to the safety or relevance of the intended research, but I don't think it will deter us for too long. We'll respond thoroughly and quickly before the end of July, and then wait yet again for a reply. Now that NIDA/PHS are familiar with the issues and have articulated their concerns, their response to our comments should be faster. We're already making progress in that the strategy of delay has been overcome and a review was issued.”

If this situation weren’t so genuinely tragic for all the sick people who might benefit from this research, then it would simply appear ridiculous. All MAPS is requesting to do is purchase ten grams of marijuana--something virtually any high school student in the US could obtain--so that we can move forward with a study of a non-smoking delivery system for marijuana that might benefit people suffering from a wide range of debilitating, difficult-to-treat illnesses.

“The FDA has thirty days to review complicated human protocols. With NIDA/PHS’s dysfunctional review process, they have provided us with powerful evidence for why we need to break the NIDA monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in research,” said Doblin.

MAPS has been waiting since February 12, 2007 for the DEA to issue a final ruling in response to DEA Administrative Law Judge Bittner’s recommendation (PDF) that the NIDA monopoly on the production of marijuana legal for research be ended, and that Professor Lyle Craker be issued a DEA license for a MAPS-sponsored medical marijuana production facility.

3. Donald Abrams’ Clinical Medical Marijuana Study Seeking Pain Patients:

As mentioned in the May update, MAPS is now covering all transportation, lodging and food expenses for subjects in Dr. Donald Abrams’ medical marijuana and opiate interaction study at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Abram’s study, which is being sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is designed to evaluate whether or not patients who are using the opiate drugs Oxycontin or MS Contin (or Kadian) for pain will receive less benefit if the drugs are used in conjunction with marijuana administered by a vaporizer. Although NIDA doesn’t realize it, this is a very good example of the benefits of cooperation between NIDA and MAPS since we’re helping a NIDA study to succeed by using MAPS funds to supplement a NIDA grant.

This is one of only two active studies currently underway in the United States in which marijuana is being given to patients. (The second study is in MS patients). Dr. Abrams’ research--which will include twenty-four subjects and is still seeking nine more--will provide clinical evidence to help evaluate whether cannabis, when added to conventional narcotic pain drugs, will reduce the effectiveness of the opiates, or can provide added relief and thereby allow reduced doses of these narcotics.

The study is taking place at the San Francisco General Hospital and requires a five-day inpatient stay.

To learn more about the study, read the recruitment information here (PDF). If you would like additional information, please call (415) 476-9554, ext. 315, or e-mail pcouey@php.ucsf.edu.

4. MAPS First US MDMA/PTSD Study Achingly Close to Completion:

After four years and one million dollars, Michael Mithoefer’s U.S. MDMA/PTSD study is achingly close to being completed. On June 20th, subjects # 18 and # 19 completed their final follow-up evaluations, two months after their last experimental MDMA sessions. On July 1, subject # 20 completed the final two-month evaluation. MAPS Clinical Research team collected all current data at a recent site visit last weekend and brought it safely back to MAPS headquarters. All that now remains to complete the study is for subject # 21 to have her third and final experimental session scheduled for July 18th, and then for her to complete the two month follow-up after that in the middle of September. Then the study will be finished and we’ll analyze the data, prepare a report to the FDA, write a scientific paper for submission to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, and start planning further studies with this team.

5. MAPS Receives $25,000 from Libra Foundation for US MDMA/PTSD Research:

MAPS received a $25,000 donation from The Libra Foundation to enable Michael and Annie Mithoefer to write up the results of our US MDMA/PTSD study, refine the treatment manual, develop the training program, and travel to conferences and share the results of their study with their colleagues. We would like to express our deep appreciation to the Libra Foundation for this generous donation.

We’re seeking an additional $50,000 to cover the rest of the post-study expenses, as we lay the foundation for Phase 3 studies.

6. Potential Sites for Future MAPS MDMA/PTSD Studies Visited in France and Spain:

MAPS Clinical Research Associates Valerie Mojeiko and Josh Sonstroem conducted site visits in Lyon, France and Barcelona, Spain, to meet with researchers interested in conducting MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD studies (MDMA/PTSD Treatment Manual (PDF)) .

In Barcelona, the team met with Dr. Jordi Riba, MD and Psychologist Jose Carlos Bouso, PhD. MAPS’ first MDMA/PTSD study started in Madrid, Spain in 2000, under the direction of Jose Carlos Bouso. Unfortunately, this study was shut down in 2002 as a result of pressure from the Madrid Anti-Drug Authority. We’d like to renew MDMA/PTSD research in Spain, both as a symbol that we’ve overcome the political suppression of scientific research and because we need to treat more subjects.

Mojeiko and Sonstroem also traveled to Lyon, France to meet with researchers interested in conducting a study there. This hospital was promising and seems equipped to do this type of research, but the researchers are still in early negotiations with hospital administrators about whether they are ready to pursue a study with MAPS.


7. Larger Dose Tested in Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study:

The second session for the first non-responder in Dr. Peter Oehen, MD’s Swiss MDMA/PTSD study took place on July 3rd. MAPS is currently testing different modifications of the protocol design in our different MDMA/PTSD studies. In the Swiss study we’re testing the use of a slightly larger dose in non-responders, 150 milligrams, followed by a supplemental dose of 75 milligrams. The larger doses were well-tolerated, with no problematic blood pressure increases. According to Dr. Oehen, the patient made some progress, although he suspects that the progress may be due primarily to having received additional MDMA sessions. The second non-responder will have her additional sessions in August and September. Three more patients are waiting for screening.

8. Second LSD Session in Swiss LSD/end-of-life Anxiety Study Completed:

On June 27th, Dr. Peter Gasser conducted the second and final LSD session with the first subject in our Swiss/LSD end-of-life anxiety study. We’re investigating LSD-assisted psychotherapy in twelve subjects suffering from anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. After the experimental session, the patient made some beneficial life changes including intensifying his social contacts and going back to school. We are looking forward to seeing if his positive shift will be captured in the data.

MAPS has raised $125,000 of the $225,000 cost for this study—so we still have $100,000 left to accept from those who want to be a part of this historic study.

9. Dr. Halpern Submits Protocol Changes for MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study at Harvard:

Dr. Halpern has submitted a series of protocol changes to his Institutional Review Board (IRB) for his MDMA/cancer-anxiety study that will facilitate enrollment and completion of the study. So far, just one subject has been enrolled and completed the study, with promising results. Dr. Halpern is trying to open the study up to enrollment from subjects who are from all over the country, instead of just subjects from one oncologist, who will still evaluate all patients. Dr. Halpern is also seeking permission to offer an optional open-label Stage 2 series of two MDMA sessions to people who were randomized for the low-dose placebo in the first round of the study. According to MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD, these protocol changes are “the key having a study that’s got tremendous promise, but is going too slowly, to having a study that could live up to its promise.” These protocol changes will take about three months or so to be reviewed, and hopefully approved, by two IRBs and the FDA.

10. Opportunity to Subsidize Publication of Ayahausca Book by Bia Labate:

MAPS has agreed to donate $2000 towards the publication of several essays and a bibliography of scientific papers about the religious use of the Amazonian shamanic brew ayahuasca and is ready to accept an additional $2000 from a donor who wants to support education about ayahuasca. The book was edited by Bia Labate and it contains scientific articles and a bibliography of papers about ayahausca, as well as other resources. Supporters will be commemorated on the title page. MAPS is seeking to raise a total of $3500 to supplement the $2000 that we’re donating to cover the publication costs for 2000 copies. The Trance Foundation has donated $1000 and Julian Babcock has donated $500 so far. MAPS has previously donated $1500 toward the costs of translating the book, which has been published in Portuguese. Richard Wolfe and The Cottonwood Foundation have also already donated $1500 each toward the translation expenses.

11. Johns Hopkins Research Team Publishes Follow-Up Report on Psilocybin Study and Hallucinogen Guidelines

Researchers Roland Griffiths, PhD, Bill Richards, PhD, Matt Johnson, PhD, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University published two papers this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, one entitled "Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later” and "Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety.” The first paper is a follow-up report to their 2006 study, “Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance." (PDF)

The second paper basically outlines 'how-to' recommendations for conducting high dose hallucinogen trials, and how to manage the associated risks.

The psilocybin/mystical experience study was primarily funded by the Council on Spiritual Practices. Bob Jesse, founder of the Council on Spiritual Practices, has recently sent out a fundraising letter seeking support for further research in healthy volunteers.

MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD submitted a comment to Google News about the recently published paper that followed up on the 2006 psilocybin study entitled “Psychedelic Mysticism and Psychedelic Medicine: Here for Good.”

From our perspective, the most amazing media coverage of the study was an editorial (not just an article or op-ed) in the Baltimore Sun (MAPS permalink) endorsing the renewal of psychedelic research and citing both Roland’s psilocybin/mystical experience study and MAPS’ US MDMA/PTSD study!

Here's a key quote, “Instead of continuing a policy of fear and loathing, the government is now open to the possibility that this class of drugs may have uses that don't involve turning on, tuning in and dropping out.”

Here's the conclusion that by extension also applies to medical marijuana, “Instead of banning drugs that are perceived as bad simply because of their recreational use, scientists should be encouraged to pursue legitimate study--lest we miss out on a valuable medicinal tool.”

The editorial raises the possibility that MDMA could help U.S. vets returning from Iraq. This editorial--in a leading newspaper in a major US city—signifies that a significant cultural shift is taking place.

12. Article by Martin Lee on James Ketchum’s US Army Mind-Control Research:

There is a fascinating article by Martin A. Lee (author of Acid Dreams) (MAPS permalink) in the July issue of Cannabis Culture magazine about James Ketchum, MD, a retired army colonel and psychiatrist, who ran a US government-sponsored program in the 1960s, testing an unusually potent form of synthetic THC (one of the psychoactive components of marijuana) on soldiers in an attempt to develop a secret military weapon.

The article details an interesting slice of history that very few people are familiar with, and paints a portrait of a complex and fascinating man who is difficult to pigeonhole. The article discusses Ketchum’s membership and fundraising activities with MAPS, and how he praised the work that MAPS is doing. Ketchum is the author of Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten. A personal story of medical testing of Army volunteers with incapacitating chemical agents during the Cold War (1955-1975). The book has a foreword by Alexander Shulgin and is available on the MAPS Website.

13. You Still Have a Chance to Win Glassware Signed By Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin:

Since we see so much potential in allowing our members a chance to sign up their friends for MAPS membership, we are extending our membership drive for one more month until August 15. We will be holding a raffle for people who bring in new MAPS members, with a chance to win glassware from Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin’s lab signed by the legendary chemist. For each friend who becomes a MAPS member before August 15th as a result of your recommendation, you will be given one ticket into a drawing to win a signed piece of glassware, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. Just tell your friend(s) to let us know you suggested that they become a MAPS member by mentioning your name in the notes field if they join on-line, or by mentioning your name if they call the office or join by mail.

If you are the person to sign up the most members, MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD would like to personally thank you by flying you to Boston for dinner!

MAPS needs to grow in order to fund our promising research studies. The psychedelic research renaissance, and our struggle to conduct medical marijuana research, has come this far thanks to you and others like you. And our continued success depends on this community effort. To participate, go to: www.maps.org/donate

14. MAPS Will Appear at Psychedelic Summer Festivals—Volunteers Wanted:

MAPS received a generous $5000 donation from Seth Hollub for purchasing a shade structure and banners and covering some expenses for MAPS to have a table at a number of festivals this summer, in order to further enhance our outreach efforts. We did a pilot test at Harmony Festival this Spring that went really well. MAPS is planning to have booths this summer at Earthdance, Emerge-N-See, and Shambhala Festivals, and perhaps other festivals. If you are planning to be at any of these events and are interested in volunteering at the table please contact our new Outreach Coordinator Jenwynn at:

15. Invitation to Camp at Entheon Village with MAPS Staff at Burning Man:

As we’ve mentioned before, you are all invited to come and camp with us at Burning Man Festival this year, in Entheon Village. MAPS is coordinating a lecture series about psychedelic research which will take place at Entheon Village. It looks like it’s going to be another exciting year. MAPS staff will be participating this year in creating the third incarnation of Entheon Village at Burning Man. This camp was first established in 2006 for MAPS' 20th Anniversary (which was also Burning Man's 20th Anniversary). Entheon Village will have a different focus this year than in the prior two years, when the emphasis was on offering a wide range of experiences in art, science and spirituality (the fruits of psychedelics) to the larger Burning Man community. This year, Entheon will focus instead on enhancing the communal living experience for the people at Entheon Village. The camp will offer an organic, vegan meal plan with meat option, communal eating and gathering spaces, showers, potties, etc. It will be located off the Esplanade and closer to Center Camp. Entheon also plans to forgo all-night music and dance parties, but will still offer, in a large dome and other structures, music and dancing, a lecture series, holotropic breathwork, and other activities. Entheon Village will also include the zendo for meditation. For more information, and to register to camp at Entheon Village, see the Entheon Village Web site.

16. MAPS Welcomes New Communications and Marketing Director Randy Hencken:

MAPS is delighted to welcome Randy Hencken to the MAPS community. On July 7th, Randy became the new MAPS Director of Communication and Marketing. Randy has a Bachelors of Science in business management, and a master’s degree from San Diego State University’s (SDSU) School of Communication. Randy developed a profound understanding of the potential, and the risks, of psychedelic psychotherapy in his job as program coordinator at the Ibogaine Association in Mexico, prior to his return to academics.

Randy is passionate about drug policy reform and is the founder and president of SDSU’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). He recently organized a demonstration and press conference in San Diego with SSDP that reframed the media’s perspective on a recent heavy-handed DEA raid at SDSU, and called into question whether or not the drug bust would have any effect on drug abuse problems at the university. Randy also interned for the Drug Policy Alliance in San Diego. Welcome Randy!

17. Farewell From Guest Editor David Jay Brown:

This isn’t really a farewell, as I’ll still be working with MAPS. However, now that MAPS has found an excellent new Communications and Marketing Director (to replace Jag Davies, who went to work for the ACLU last November), I’ll be bowing offstage, and Randy Hencken will be taking over and writing these monthly email news updates from now on.

Working with everyone at MAPS these past eight months have been a real joy, inspiring and educational. I’ve long admired Rick Doblin’s near-miraculous ability to communicate across great cultural divides, to patiently and persistently navigate his way through bureaucratic mazes and blockades--that appeared impassable even to the Hindu deity Ganesh--and to make the seemingly impossible happen with psychedelic research. I was really happy to be able to work so close with him and everyone else at MAPS these past few months. Although I’ll be leaving you all in Randy’s very capable hands, this certainly won’t be the last that MAPS members will be seeing of me. I’ll be editing the MAPS Bulletin this summer, and I’ll also be organizing and editing a special edition of the Bulletin next Spring on ecology and psychedelics. (Please contact me if you would be interested in contributing: davidjay@maps.org)

I’m grateful to have had this time with everyone at MAPS and will continue my alliance with this dedicated team of public policy reformers and researchers until therapeutic psychedelic experiences are legally available to all who need them. I think that our planet is currently in a deep ecological and spiritual crisis, and that there isn’t a whole lot of time left to save our biosphere from serious damage. I’ve personally witnessed how psychedelic experiences can psychologically transform people, how those very human traits that seem to be at the root of our problems as a species--ecological blindness, greed, ego-centeredness, rigid belief systems, fear, prejudice, anger, pain, etc.--can transform into a greter sense of compassion, empathy, and ecological awareness. Personally, I don’t know of anything else besides psychedelics that can so consistently and so completely transform people, in such positive, healthy ways, so quickly--over night, like Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. This knowledge motivates me, and it’s why I believe so strongly in what MAPS is doing.

 

 

Puerto Rico Ex-Officials Say Legalize It
DrugWarChronicles
July 1st 2008

A former health secretary and an ex-university president are calling for the legalization of marijuana in Puerto Rico in a bid to reduce the prison population and prevent young people from being exposed to criminality. According to a report by the Associated Press late last week, their plan to tax marijuana sales, with proceeds going to drug treatment programs, is also supported by other former public officials and a medical doctor.

"The fight against drugs, using punishment, has not worked," said José Manuel Saldaña, former president of the University of Puerto Rico. "This is a social reality." People should not go to jail for smoking pot, he added.

According to the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections, 24% of the island territory's 13,500 inmates are doing time for drug offenses. The department estimates that 80% of crimes are "drug-related." More than 21,000 minors under age 18 were arrested in "drug-related" incidents between 1990 and 2005, according to police statistics.

The proposal for marijuana legalization comes as part of a broader package that includes tougher penalties for drug traffickers. It comes as the island is getting ready to begin drug treatment programs aimed primarily at the abuse of heroin and crack cocaine.

Saldaña was joined by former Health Secretary Enrique Vázquez Quintana in pushing for legalization. They have been discussing the proposal with prison officials and legislators, he said.

But lawmakers have said they only want to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes -- if that. Corrections Secretary Miguel Pereira told the AP he favors drug treatment programs legalizing marijuana, but only for medicinal, not recreational, use. "It's a proposal that we should be open to discussing," he said.

 

OVERKILL
StoptheDrugWar.org
June 21st 2008

 

Two recent incidents involving SWAT teams are adding fuel to the fire in the emerging controversy over the routine use of such paramilitarized police units to prosecute the drug war. In Chicago, the Chicago Police Department has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit over a September raid on a social club. Meanwhile, in Florida, the Pembroke Pines Police Department Special Response Team, a SWAT-style unit, shot and killed a 46-year-old homeowner in a dawn raid June 13 that netted a whopping three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana.

(There is even more trouble on the SWAT front. Read StoptheDrugWar.org blogger Scott Morgan's post about the murder prosecution of raid victim Derrick Foster and the killing of raid victim Ronald Terebesi, Jr., here. StoptheDrugWar.org is committed to ending these abuses. Sign our online petition here.)

In the Chicago raid, raw video of which is available here (part one) and here (part two), Chicago SWAT team officers dressed as if heading for combat in Baghdad hit the La Familia Motorcycle Club as it was being used for a birthday party. Officers exploded stun grenades, pointed assault weapons at people cowering in hallways, and, according to the attorney who filed the lawsuit, did so without producing a search warrant.

Attorney George Becker said police also stole $1,500 from amusement machines and $1,000 from a safe they broke open during the raid. Becker also said five women at the club were strip-searched by female officers in front of male officers and club patrons. Becker said those parts of the raid were not recorded because officers pointed surveillance cameras at the ceiling.

"It looked to me like the Chicago Police Department is engaging in military-type activity," said Becker after showing the raid video.

But police are unrepentant. "We believe the officers acted within department guidelines in executing the legal search warrant," Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Although police said an informant had told them a shipment of drugs was destined for the building, they seized only a small quantity of drugs and one hand-gun. Two arrests were made -- one on a bond forfeiture warrant and one for reckless conduct.

Police in Pembroke Pines, Florida, are also unrepentant about their SWAT raid that left Victor Hodgkiss dead. Police have released few details about what exactly went down during the dawn raid, except to say they he was shot and killed after confronting them as they entered his home on a no-knock drug search warrant. The raid netted one arrest -- of the girlfriend of Hodgkiss's son, who was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

"We use SRT for all narcotics warrants," Pembroke Pines Deputy Police Chief David Golt told Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel columnist Mike Mayo, who wrote a scathing column denouncing the reflexive resort to SWAT-style tactics. "You never know what you're going to encounter."

As Mayo noted in his column: "In this case, a 46-year-old man with a concealed weapons permit and no record of violent crime encountered his demise in his home of 14 years."

Police did not say whether Hodgkiss was armed when he was shot, but they did say they recovered a weapon from the home.

The Hodgkiss killing bears eerie similarities with another Florida SWAT killing, the 2005 shooting death of Philip Diotaiuto, a 23-year-old bartender shot 10 times by officers after he grabbed a gun as they burst into his home in a dawn raid that netted little over an ounce of marijuana. No charges were ever filed against those officers, but a civil suit filed by Diotaiuto's family is pending.

In both cases, police were aware their target had a weapons permit and used that to justify their resort to SWAT team tactics. In both cases, people ended up being killed over trivial amounts of marijuana.

SWAT team policing excesses are nothing new, but seem to be on the upswing as the units, originally designed for hostage and other dangerous situations, are increasingly used routinely for drug search warrants and other law enforcement purposes. The Cato Institute's Radley Balko has compiled the primary source book for SWAT killings and other abuses, 2006's Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.

 

 

 


$70 Billion a Year for Drug Laws While Predators Remain Free
Erin Hildebrandt Salem-News.com
May 26th 2008

Outdated drug laws intended to lock non-violent offenders in jail results in more leeway and fewer arrests for violent criminals and predators.

Police and medical marijuana protesters
Police in Hollywood and the DEA teamed up to close down a legal medical marijuana dispensary in Hollywood, California. The photo almost appears to be from another time; when the protesters and the media were on one side of the line and the police stood firmly on the other. Today some police are seeing it differently, these just aren't them.
Photos by Shay Sowden and LAist

(SALEM, Ore.) - Imagine a town, somewhere in the United States. At the local police station, Officer Joe is pouring himself a cup of coffee at the start of his shift, when a call comes in. A citizen thinks she smells marijuana coming from her neighbor’s house.

Joe proceeds to respond to the call, driving the 30 or so odd miles to the house. Just then, another call comes in. An armed man has taken 27 children hostage at the local elementary school – now 25 miles away from Joe’s location.

In this extreme example, there can be no doubt that Joe should abandon his investigation of the marijuana smell and proceed immediately to the school. No officer in his right mind would consider putting children’s lives at risk, in order to pursue the smell of cannabis, would he?

But on a larger scale, when we fund drug enforcement to the tune of 70 billion dollars every year, we are effectively putting lives at risk by not funding other important police work.

Officers are only charged with enforcing the laws that “we the people,” through our legislators enact, and according to the priorities these legislators reflect through their funding of all of the various departments of law enforcement. We must demand that our leaders choose to prioritize the health and safety of our nation’s communities, over policing the personal morals of the citizens of the “Land of the Free.”

As a nation, we’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees. We’ve charged law enforcement officers with the awesome responsibility of not only preventing violent crime and apprehending violent criminals, but we’ve further empowered them to act as the morality police, saving America from the evils of everything from cigarette smoke to cannabis to sex toys to, of all the crazy things – certain kinds of fat! Where does it end?

The U.S. currently incarcerates more people for non-violent crimes, than for violent crimes. We lock up more of our citizens per capita than any other nation, even Russia, China and Cuba. Yet, according to national data from the FBI for 2006, the clearance rate for all violent crime was an abysmal 44.3%. Our current approach is not working. In all of this often politically-driven chaos, our priorities have been perverted.

It’s time to reprioritize.

For decades we’ve waged a “War on Drugs,” supposedly designed to prevent and deter the abuse of ten substances through their prohibition. Instead of encouraging our citizens to abide by the laws of the land, this war on some drugs encourages entrepreneurial anarchy in a game “won” by survival of the most corrupt and callously capitalistic.

It has driven the major funding for organized crime and terrorism, created and maintains a black market so enormous that it rivals the wealthiest industries on Earth, and which has become directly responsible for far too much of the vigilante violence in our communities. It encourages everyone who would dare to taste the forbidden fruit to live outside of, and develop disrespect and disregard for, the laws of our land.

Instead of seeing heroes among police officers, suburbanites like me grow up to become adults who fear law enforcement. We view them as potential threats, terrorizing patients who need medical marijuana and pursuing and persecuting cannabis consumers, while child rapists are given slaps on the wrist – some never spending a single day in jail, even for raping multiple children. And that only includes the small percentage of predators that are caught.

Additionally, NIDA reports indicate that survivors of sexual assault are 4-10 times more likely to abuse illegal drugs, than those who do not suffer abuse. Incarcerating non-violent survivors of rape for using drugs to self-medicate anxiety, depression and other symptoms of PTSD, while allowing their perpetrators to roam our streets with impunity, does not make us safer.

A legislator once challenged me on the issue of medical marijuana. He said that he didn’t want to support an amendment to a funding bill which would have protected medical marijuana patients. His reason for objecting, however, surprised me. He said that he didn’t want to single out marijuana from every other medicine. He wanted to see all drugs regulated equally.

This makes perfect sense to me. As a patient with Crohn’s Disease, who relies on medical marijuana to ease severe symptoms, I couldn’t really argue with his logic. I could only ask him whether he felt it would be a wise investment of our scarce resources to send the DEA to break down my door, terrorize my five young children, and haul me off to jail, just for taking my medicine? He had to admit that would be a very poor use of our resources, and I’m thrilled to say he’s supported the Rohrabacher - Hinchey Medical Marijuana Amendment for four years in a row.

I keep coming back to that meeting with the Congressman in my mind, because I’d very much like to see his vision come to fruition. By regulating all drugs equally, effectively ending prohibition once and for all, we could accomplish what the originators of prohibition first promised – actually reducing drug abuse and violent crime in our nation.

No longer can we afford to funnel tens of billions of dollars annually into a “War on Drugs,” which effectively ensures the perpetual funding of organized crime and terrorism. We must not waste the precious time of our law enforcement officers in chasing down the sick and dying who need medical marijuana, while child rapists roam our communities, knowing that their chances of even getting caught, let alone doing any time in prison, are very low.

Do we want to cut crime in our nation by half?

Do we want to eliminate drug dealing overnight?

Do we want our police officers spending our scarce resources to pursue people who prefer cannabis to cocktails, or do we have more important work for them to do?

It all comes down to our priorities.

To learn more about prohibition and why “cops say legalize drugs,” please visit: LEAP.cc.

Another site worth visiting on this subject is: medicalcannabis.com.

For more information about medical marijuana and prohibition, please visit: ParentsEndingProhibition.org (currently undergoing revision).

Erin Hildebrandt wears many hats. She's wife to Bill Hildebrandt, mom to five beautiful kids, activist, artist, legally registered Oregon medical marijuana patient, public speaker, and an internationally published writer. She co-founded Parents Ending Prohibition, and her writing has been printed in Mothering Magazine, New York's Newsday, and Canada's National Post, among many others. Erin has been interviewed for a front page story in USA Today, and she has been published in the American Bar Association Journal. Speaking as a survivor of child sexual abuse, Erin also appeared on the Geraldo Rivera show. She has also testified before Oregon Senate and House committees, and Maryland Senate and House committees. We are very pleased to feature the work of Erin Hildebrandt on Salem-News.com.

 

 

Vietnam Ponders Drug Decriminalization
News2020.com
May 17th 2008

The Vietnamese National Assembly is considering legislation that would make drug use an administrative violation -- not a crime. Under current Vietnamese law, drug use is a criminal offense, a violation of Article 199 of the country's criminal code, and is punishable by up two years in prison.

But Truong Thi Mai, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, told a press conference last Friday the committee had recommended scrapping Article 199. "Being addicted to or using drugs should be considered a disease, and should only be subject to administrative fines," Mai said. "We cannot jail hundreds of thousands of drug users, can we?"

In actuality, Vietnam does not typically jail drug users; instead, it confines them in mandatory drug detoxification centers for up to two years, or in some centers, up to five years. Local governments maintain lists of drug addicts in their areas and send them to detox centers at their discretion. Few drug users are actually prosecuted under Article 199, so the impact of a decriminalization move would be mostly symbolic.

Still, that would be a good thing, said Le Minh Loan, a police chief and former director of counter-drug efforts in a province with one of the country's highest heroin addiction rates. "I think it makes sense to drop the article," Loan said. "Few countries in the world sentence drug addicts to prison terms."

Vietnamese drug rehabilitation efforts are not particularly effective, Loan said. "The rate of relapse into drug use is very high."

While Vietnam has harsh laws for drug dealing -- 85 people were sentenced to death last year for drug offenses and nine more so far this year -- those laws have had little impact on drug use in the Southeast Asian nation. Harsh enforcement is not working, said Mai. "Many people have been sentenced to death for trafficking heroin, but heroin trafficking is still rampant," Mai said. "The traffickers know that the laws are strict but they are still trafficking narcotics."

 

MAPS News: May 17th 2008 -- Albert Hofmann Passes the Torch



Dear Eugene,

There’s some bittersweet news and lots of exciting new things to report this month. Here’s what’s going on:

  1. Albert Hofmann Dies on April 29th at the Age of 102
  2. New Developments Emerging from Discussions on Canadian MDMA PTSD Study
  3. Medical Marijuana Study Recruiting Patients with Chronic Pain
  4. MAPS Flagship MDMA/PTSD Study Nears Completion
  5. Possibility of a French MDMA/PTSD Study Moves Forward
  6. Swiss Medic Allows Non-Responders in MDMA PTSD Study to Have Additional Sessions
  7. Subjects Being Screened for Peter Gasser’s Swiss LSD Psychotherapy Study
  8. Positive Media Coverage of Israel's MDMA/PTSD Study Brings New Subjects
  9. Strong, Positive Article in The Lancet about the Renewal of Psychedelic Research
  10. Positive Article About MDMA/PTSD Research in The London Sunday Times
  11. Psychedelic Elder Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin Recovering Well from Heart Surgery
  12. Signed Copies of LSD: My Problem Child & and Other Hofmann Memorabilia Going Fast
  13. MAPS to Co-sponsor Two MPP Fundraisers--NYC on May 14th and Playboy Mansion on June 12
  14. Expect the Spring MAPS Bulletin in Your Mailbox Soon (And Summer Membership Drive with Chance to WIN Shulgin Glassware!)
  15. MAPS Receives a $6000 Grant from the Marijuana Policy Project for Professor Lyle Craker
  16. MAPS Receives $119,000 for MDMA/PTSD Research

*** MAPS needs your generosity to empower staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase books, clothes, art, and other merchandise, visit: www.maps.org/catalog ***

 

Dear News2020 May 16th 2008

MAPS is bursting at the seams with exciting news this month. Here’s what’s going on:

  1. World Psychedelic Forum in Basel Spurs New Developments
  2. MDMA Therapist Training Protocol Discussed in Basel
  3. Paris Philosophy and Cognitive Science Conference Brings New Collaboration
  4. Exploring the Possibility of a French MDMA/PTSD Study
  5. Volunteers Sought for Psychedelic Emergency Services at Burning Man
  6. Volunteers Sought for Psychedelic Emergency Services at Boom
  7. Psychedelic Art for Sale to Raise Funds for MAPS Research
  8. New Edition of Stanislav Grof’s LSD Psychotherapy Now Available
  9. Application Submitted to the American Cancer Society for MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study
  10. Johns Hopkins Psilocybin/Cancer Study Seeking Subjects
  11. FDA Reviews MAPS-Sponsored Swiss LSD/End-of-Life Anxiety Protocol
  12. Plan in Place for Data Analysis of Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD Study
  13. PostModernTimes “Webisode” Features MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD Interviewed by Daniel Pinchbeck
  14. Psychedelic Elder Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin Completes Heart Surgery on April 8th
  15. Entheon Village Report from Burning Man 2007
  16. Report From the Medical Marijuana Conference in Asilomar
  17. Seeking New Moderator for the MAPS Forum
  18. Spring Bulletin Off to the Printers

*** MAPS needs your generosity to empower staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase merchandise, visit: www.maps.org/donate ***


1. World Psychedelic Forum in Basel Spurs New Developments:

Continuing the biannual tradition that the Gaia Media Foundation started with the LSD Symposium in 2006, the World Psychedelic Forum (WPF) was held this year in Basel, Switzerland from March 21st to 24th. The WPF drew a crowd of almost 2000 psychedelic intelligentsia from 37 countries, and it gave the psychedelic community a tremendous opportunity to gather and network. Albert Hofmann, now past 102, sent his grandson to give a presentation on his behalf, and received a few visitors at his home.

During the opening keynote panel (AIFF's available: Clip 1 & Clip 2), held on Good Friday, 2008, MAPS President Rick Doblin discussed lessons learned from his twenty-five to twenty-eight year follow-up study of the classic Good Friday Experiment, originally conducted by Dr. Walter Pahnke in 1962 (Powerpoint available). Rick spoke about his vision of nonprofit drug development during a group session with MAPS-sponsored researchers Michael Mithoefer, M.D., Ann Mithoefer R.N. (who are conducting our U.S. MDMA PTSD study) (Powerpoint available), and Psychologist Sameet Kumar, Ph.D. (who is in the midst of the approval process for a psilocybin/cancer anxiety study). Rick spoke about the past, present, and future of MAPS-sponsored MDMA and LSD research in Switzerland on a panel with MAPS-sponsored Swiss researcher Peter Oehen, M.D. (who is conducting our MDMA PTSD study) and Juraj Styk, M.D., who spoke on the process of psychedelic psychotherapy.

Rick also appeared on a question and answer panel titled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Psychedelics,” along with Dennis McKenna PhD, Dale Pendell, and Kathleen Harrison PhD, and he moderated a panel called “From Problem Child to Wonder Child" featuring Russian ketamine researcher Evgeny Krupitsky, MD and MAPS Staffer Valerie Mojeiko. Mojeiko gave a presentation titled, “Psychedelic Emergency Services: Lessons from Burning Man to Boom to Beyond,” (Powerpoint available) and she also presented preliminary results from MAPS’ exploratory outcome study of ibogaine-assisted therapy in the treatment of opiate addiction (Powerpoint & MP3 audio file available).

MAPS cosponsored the conference and donated $5000 for expenses. In addition to paying expenses for MAPS staff, MAPS paid some or all of the expenses for a number of researchers to attend and speak at the conference including Stan Grof MD, PhD, Michael and Annie Mithoefer (MD and RN), Sameet Kumar PhD, Evgeny Krupitsky MD, Peter and Verena Oehen (MD and RN), Sandra Karpetas, and John Harrison PsyD candidate.

More about the conference will be covered in an article by Mojeiko in the Spring MAPS Bulletin--which will be shipped to members by the end of this month. I’m happy to report that some exciting new developments came out of this conference, as well as another conference in Paris the following week that is reported in the related item.

We would like to extend our immense gratitude to the volunteers who helped us with the event in Basel---Judith, Jonah, Joey, John, and Martha. Thanks so much for your valuable help!

An interview with Rick Doblin about the conference and MAPS’ Swiss LSD research appeared in a Basel newspaper shortly after the conference. Another article appeared in a Basel paper about the WPF that was slightly critical about the conference, but it said Rick’s comments were balanced, and Michael Mithoefer’s research was solid.

2. MDMA Therapist Training Protocol Discussed in Basel:

One of the main accomplishments of the conference in Basel was that, as a group, psychedelic research organizations were able to really come together and discuss the MDMA therapist training protocol. Rick Doblin reports that “The good thing that happened in Basel is the sense of the different teams--from MAPS and Heffter to the European organizations--all really working together, over and above these organizational barriers. So it seemed to me like we really bridged these gaps, and now I feel like we’re coordinating on critical design and other issues.”

In Basel we were able to narrow down our objectives for the MDMA therapist training protocol, in order to focus on what’s most important—establishing it as a training program for psychedelic therapists.

MAPS initially planned to do some side studies with the MDMA research that won’t be necessary because of new collaborations.

For example, we were considering measuring levels of the “bonding” hormone, oxytocin, in MDMA-treated subjects. We were considering this because it may shed some light on the bonding that often occurs with people on MDMA. It would be good to learn if MDMA stimulates oxytocin, but we decided not to add it to the therapist training protocol because another team is gathering that information, and if we did it during our therapist training it would interfere with the therapeutic teaching and learning that we’re trying to do. Since our primary goal is to train therapists to better understand how to use MDMA in therapy, we’ve decided to drop the oxytocin measurements. However, there are a few measurements of emotional sensitivity and judgment that we’re considering adding to the training protocol that may help in the training process.

We’re gathering information about professions where personal experience in the technique being used is part of the training process, such as in meditation and yoga, and statements from psychedelic researchers who have found their own personal experiences with these drugs to be helpful to them in psychotherapy.

3. Paris Philosophy and Cognitive Science Conference Brings New Collaboration:

After the Basel conference MAPS President Rick Doblin and Director of Operations Valerie Mojeiko took the train to Paris and spoke at another conference, held at the Université René Descartes, called “Hallucinations in Philosophy and Cognitive Science.” This was a free symposium that drew a smaller, yet very engaged academic audience of about thirty people. Doblin gave a talk on the overall strategy and rationale of psychedelic drug development. Valerie spoke about MAPS ibogaine outcome studies and psychedelic emergency services.

Doblin and Mojeiko used their visit to Paris assess the feasibility of bringing psychedelic research in France. We’ve been making substantial progress with our research agenda and decided that we could afford to invest two days in a long-shot search for a team of French researchers who might be interested in exploring the possibility of conducting a MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD pilot study in France. (See news item below.)

4. Exploring the Possibility of a French MDMA/PTSD Study:

Prior to the Paris conference, MAPS President Rick Doblin sought referrals to potential French researchers from French psychiatrist Dr. Jacques Mabit (who founded Takiwasi), a drug abuse treatment center in Peru that uses ayahuasca and other plant medicines within a shamanistic context. Dr. Mabit suggested that we contact Dr. Olvier Chambon in Lyon. Fortunately, Dr. Chambon was interested in exploring the possibility of working with MAPS and said that, while he wasn’t able to come to the Paris conference, he could meet with Rick in Basel.

While in Basel, Doblin--along with MAPS researchers Michael and Annie Mithoefer--met with Dr. Chambon to explore the possibility of conducting a MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD pilot study in France. They discussed how the study might be designed, how to conduct MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, the protocol design and approval process, and whether there is a clinic that would be willing to host the MDMA/PTSD experiment. Both psychiatrists are interested in exploring the possibility of conducting this research. Everyone at MAPS is excited about the possibility of starting MDMA/PTSD research in a new country that hasn’t seen legal psychedelic research since the late 1960s. We’d be designing a small pilot study that will help us determine if we can replicate the promising results obtained in our U.S. MDMA/PTSD study.

5. Volunteers Sought for Psychedelic Emergency Services at Burning Man:

We’re looking for volunteers who are interested in offering psychedelic emergency services at Sanctuary this August 25th to September 1st at Burning Man. If you’re interested, email Kernel at kernel@maps.org, and he will put you on a list to get the application when we send them out next month. For background information on principles for working with someone undergoing a difficult psychedelic experience, check out the MAPS’ Web page at: www.maps.org/ritesofpassage/difficultexperiences.html

6. Vounteers Sought for Psychedelic Emergency Services at Boom:

Another meeting in Basel was about the psychedelic emergency services that MAPS may be helping to provide at the BOOM Festival in Portugal this August 11-18th. MAPS helped coordinate psychedelic emergency services at Boom in 2006 and is considering whether to commit to providing services at BOOM 2008.

MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD and MAPS Director of Operations Valerie Mojeiko had a productive meeting with Diogo Ruvio, one of the founders of the Boom Festival, and several of his team, along with Sandra Karpetas and Svea Nielsen, who worked at Boom 2006. There was a lot of discussion about how things could be improved from the 2006 festival, and how we could create a model program that other festivals could implement in part or in whole. At Boom and similar festivals there are often thousands of young people experimenting with psychedelics, some for the first time, and many with inadequate preparation. It’s not uncommon for some people who are ill equipped to deal with the powerful psychological energies that are unleashed to find themselves in very uncomfortable states of mind or dangerous situations. Compassionate guidance during these experiences can mean the difference between an unproductive experience with negative consequences, or a positive (though difficult) experience.

Boom organizers and local law enforcement recognize that bad drug trips can be a serious problem, and unlike in most of America, harm reduction measures can be implemented without fear of legal consequences. Rick Doblin said, “it’s a pleasure to work in a country, and with an organization, that are fully supportive of psychedelic emergency services, as we’re trying to make it a model.” The full support that we would receive at the BOOM Festival can be done, in part, because of the openness to harm reduction in the Portuguese drug policy.

MAPS is currently seeking people who might be interested in volunteering for psychedelic emergency work at the Boom Festival this year, who can pay for their own transportation to the event. Volunteers may get a free ticket and food, but would have to pay all their other expenses. We’re especially looking for people who are from Europe, are multi-lingual, and/or attend BOOM already, as well as people who have some experience in psychotherapy or healthcare. If we decide to provide services at this event, it would be good for us to have as many people there as possible who are already familiar with the festival. If you’re interested in volunteering at BOOM contact Valerie at: Valerie@maps.org. If we decide to do psychedelic emergency work at this event then you will be sent an application packet and more information on the application process as it becomes available. Stay tuned for more information in the next update.

7. Psychedelic Art for Sale to Raise Funds for MAPS Research:

The Spring MAPS Bulletin--which should be in member’s mailboxes by the end of the month--will contain some absolutely mind-blowing psychedelic art by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Brummbaer, and Dean Chamberlain. This art is for sale, with fifty percent of the proceeds going to help raise funds for MAPS research. To find out more information visit the MAPS Webstore.

Stay posted for more art on the way! We are launching a new project this summer connecting artists with new opportunities to display and sell their art in MAPS publications and medical marijuana dispensaries. If you are a visual artist and are interested in donating part of the profits of your art to MAPS, or if you are a dispensary owner (or other psychedelically-oriented high-traffic shop owner) interested in displaying our artwork on your walls (for sale to customers), please contact: art@maps.org

8. New Edition of Stanislav Grof’s LSD Psychotherapy Now Available in the MAPS Webstore:

MAPS second paperback edition of Stanislav Grof’s MD, PhD classic book on psychedelic psychotherapy--LSD Psychotherapy--is now available. After a long period of being out of print, this edition contains a new introduction by Albert Hofmann PhD, a new essay by MAPS Staffers Valerie Mojeiko, Ilsa Jerome PhD, and Rick Doblin PhD about the psychedelic research renaissance, and Dr. Grof’s acceptance speech for VaclavHavel’s Vision 97 award. The publication of this important book was made possible by generous donations from Kevin Herbert, John Buchanan, and the Helios Foundation.

9. Application Submitted to the American Cancer Society for MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study:

On March 28th, Dr. John Halpern, Harvard Medical School, submitted a grant application to the American Cancer Society (ACS) seeking additional funding for his study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in twelve subjects with treatment-resistant anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer. MAPS assisted Dr. Halpern, the Sponsor/Principal Investigator, in the protocol, design, approval and funding process.

This grant application represents a major step forward, even if the grant is not awarded. For the last thirty-five years the only support for psychedelic psychotherapy research has come from private individuals or family foundations. No support has come from the pharmaceutical industry, from governments, or from major foundations involved in supporting medical research.

The American Cancer Society’s willingness to accept a full proposal seeking funding for MDMA/cancer anxiety research presents a groundbreaking development.

This provides evidence that the cultural context surrounding psychedelic psychotherapy research is changing in a favorable direction. The stigma of conducting this research has declined, and there’s been an increase in public support based on the increasingly realistic hope that promising new therapies can be developed through psychedelic psychotherapy research.

10. Johns Hopkins Psilocybin/Cancer Study Seeking Subjects:

A research team at Johns Hopkins is currently seeking subjects for their psilocybin cancer study called “Psychopharmacology of Psilocybin in Cancer Patients.” This study--supported by the Heffter Foundation--will “examine whether the administration of psilocybin can facilitate mystical/spiritual experiences in cancer patients suffering from anxiety and/or depressed mood, thereby improving psychological coping and quality of life.” The principal investigators of this study are: Roland Griffiths PhD, Matthew Johnson PhD, William Richards MD (Department of Psychiatry); Michael Carducci MD (Oncology); and Sydney Dy MD (Medicine and Oncology). Patients are eligible for this study if they have a potentially life-threatening cancer diagnosis without CNS involvement, and they seem to be experiencing anxiety or depressed mood as a result of their illness.

Patients with and without disease progression are eligible, but patients with no disease progression are only eligible if at least one year has elapsed since their diagnosis; for those with disease progression, patients need to be between cancer therapies for a one month period during the psilocybin sessions, although continuing hormonal therapy is acceptable. Patients who have decided not to undergo cancer therapy are also eligible. After thorough screening and preparation, volunteers will participate in two separate day-long psilocybin sessions. Structured guidance will be provided during and after the sessions to discuss and integrate thoughts and feelings about the session experiences. Outcome measures include measures of mystical/spiritual experience, quality of life, anxiety, depressed mood, attitude about death, use of pain medication, and blood markers of stress and immune function. For further information contact the study coordinator, Mary Cosimano: mpcosi@jhmi.edu.

11. FDA Reviews MAPS-Sponsored Swiss LSD End-of-Life Anxiety Protocol:

On April 8. 2000, MAPS received a letter from FDA concerning its review of the Swiss LSD proposal which we had submitted for review to the FDA. The protocol is already fully approved in Switzerland. We submitted the Swiss protocol to FDA for review so that FDA will accept the data that we will gather in the study.

The FDA has placed the study on Clinical Hold, as they have some questions about additional analytical data for the LSD. Other than that issue, the rest of the protocol is fine with a few minor suggestions for changes that we can easily accept. We will now start working with the FDA to address their concerns about the analysis of the LSD that we’re going to use in the study.

Two large-scale, multisite studies called “Phase III studies” are required in order to persuade the FDA that the substance that one is investigating is safe and effective. MAPS’ plan--for our MDMA PTSD research--and perhaps also for our psychedelic psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with end-of-life issues--is to conduct one of the large Phase III studies in the U.S. (in around ten or fifteen locations), and then another throughout Europe, Switzerland and Israel (also in around ten or fifteen locations). Then we plan to cross-submit the data to the FDA and the European Medicines Agency, because both agencies say that of the two large-scale Phase III studies, one can be abroad, but the other one needs to be domestic.

By doing our research in this way, in global collaboration, we can be maximally efficient, and also utilize the unique resources that are available in each region of the world. In order to prepare the grounds for Phase III trials in the US and Europe we must work with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency so they will accept the data. This means that the protocols have to be reviewed and approved by both agencies.

12. Plan in Place for Data Analysis of Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD Study:

MAPS is receiving donated assistance from a member within the pharmaceutical industry with expertise in clinical trial data management. We’re utilizing her expertise to create a data management system and input the currently available data from Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD study. We’re starting now so we can report the complete results shortly after the twenty-first and final subject receives the final experimental session in July, with the study’s final follow-up evaluation in September. Our one-year follow-up evaluation will be considered a separate study.

13. PostModernTimes “Webisode” Features MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD Interviewed by Daniel Pinchbeck:

Daniel Pinchbeck--author of Breaking Open the Head--interviewed Rick Doblin for a PostModernTimes “webisode” with animation. This is a crisp, brief and entertaining interview.

14. Psychedelic Elder Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin Completes Heart Surgery on April 8th:

Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin--legendary psychedelic chemist, consciousness explorer, and author--had heart surgery on Tuesday, April 8th. The surgery was done in order to replace a defective aortic heart valve. He is recovering well, and we anticipate complete recovery within two to three months.

The CaringBridge Web site is being used to keep us up-to-date on Sasha's progress. CaringBridge is a nonprofit organization that helps friends and families stay connected. Anyone can use the site to check in on Sasha, read the journal entries, and send him messages by signing the guest book. Please send all your “good vibes” and “healing energies” to him! We wish him a speedy recovery.

15. Entheon Village Report from Burning Man:

Entheon Village Coordinator Matt Atwood, the rest of his Chicago-based infrastructure team, and MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD have prepared a complete financial accounting for Entheon Village from Burning Man 2007. The report also includes some information about plans for Entheon Village 2008. For this coming year, Entheon will focus more attention and energy on enhancing the experience of the people who camp in the village, and will de-emphasize offering music and dancing in all-night parties. Entheon will still offer the Burning Man community a public lecture series, holotropic breathwork sessions, some music and dancing, places to view art, and a zendo for meditation. Since Entheon will not be such a noise-generating Village, a location closer to center camp has been requested.

Comments and questions about the report on Entheon Village 2007, as well as suggestions for Entheon Village 2008, are most welcome. Please send to: info@entheonvillage.com

16. Report From the Medical Marijuana Conference in Asilomar:

The Fifth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics was held on April 4th and 5th at the Asilomar Conference Center in California, sponsored by Patients Out of Time (POT). International experts discussed the latest research and local activists discussed state-level medical marijuana programs. Rick Doblin spoke at the conference about overall research strategies for medical marijuana in the face of DEA/NIDA obstruction of medical marijuana research, the cannabis cultivation project with Lyle Craker, and the vaporizer research project. Rick’s Powerpoint slides give some of the basic information he presented at the conference, though his speech covered more than the slides indicate.

We would like to extend our deep appreciation to the volunteers who helped us with this event-- Martha, Bonnie, and Brian. Thanks so much for your valuable help!

17. Seeking New Moderator for the MAPS Forum:

We are seeking a new moderator for the MAPS Forum. After 11 years of service, our current moderator Jon Frederick PhD is retiring from his position. The ideal candidate would have a thirst for new knowledge about psychedelics, be up-to-date with current research, be able to understand and enforce the rules of the forum, and be able to uphold the academic standards of the forum. We are seeking to fill this position on a volunteer basis, and we are asking for a six-month commitment of about five hours per week. If you are interested in making a generous donation of your time as the new forum moderator, please email: valerie@maps.org

18. Spring Bulletin Off to the Printers:

The Spring MAPS Bulletin will be going to the printers next week and should be in everyone’s mailbox about three weeks later. This is a special theme edition of the Bulletin that I edited about technology and psychedelics. We got some terrific submissions and this issue is absolutely jam-packed with fascinating essays, rare information, compelling interviews, and extraordinary artwork. The Bulletin includes thought-provoking articles by U.C. Santa Cruz Mathematician Ralph Abraham, Ph.D., cultural commentator R.U. Sirius, and Penn State Information Science Professor Richard Doyle, Ph.D. WAMM cofounder Valerie Corral also wrote a special tribute to the late writer and psychedelic investigator Laura Huxley. Many other accomplished thinkers and unusually creative artists join us for this special extra-thick issue that’s simply bursting at the seams with exciting data. You'll be able to view a PDF of this Special Edition MAPS Bulletin on our website in the next few days if you can't wait until the printed one enters your mailbox (and I wouldn't blame you if you couldn't).


These are crucial times. I wonder, when future historians look back at this time, what will they say? Will they say that our sleeping species finally awoke and made a great quantum leap in its evolution? Will they see this as a time when humanity left its larval cocoon and expanded out into the cosmos? Or will they see us as having missed a golden opportunity? I think the former, and part of the reason that I think this is because I see how MAPS is spearheading a renaissance in psychedelic research around the globe. This gives me a lot of hope because I believe in the healing potential of psychedelics. If you do too, then please consider making a generous donation to MAPS today.

Onward and Upward,

David Jay Brown, M.A.,
MAPS Guest Editor

 

Should Philadelphia Be Excited About Its Big Drug Bust?
David Borden: Editor StoptheDrugWar.org
April 5th 2008

 

Should we be excited? Police agencies in Philadelphia have announced a record drug bust for the city. According to the press conference, held Wednesday by the Philadelphia Police Department, the US Attorney's Office and the FBI, the stash they nabbed consisted of 274 kilos of cocaine worth about 28 million dollars. David Borden

An FBI spokesperson told the press, "This significant seizure prevented these drugs from entering our community." But doesn't that depend on how one defines the term "these drugs"? If the term is meant to refer to that particular shipment, then yes, that specific pile of cocaine will (probably) not enter the Philadelphia community.

If, however, the term is meant to refer to cocaine itself, the type of drug, it's doubtful -- no, impossible -- that the seizure could reduce the amount of it in Philadelphia, at least not for very long. The problem is that drug traffickers are clever and industrious people, and they expect that some of the stuff that they ship to any given region is going to get intercepted. On any given day, they probably don't expect a record to get set, on that particular day. But that doesn't mean they aren't prepared if it does. Doubtless one or more batches are now moving up I-95 or some other artery, or are headed to Philly through some other means of transport, if they're not already there.

The truth is that there probably won't be a shortage of cocaine in Philadelphia for even a week, if there is any shortage of it even now. By the end of two weeks, there will be little evidence left at all that a record-sized drug bust ever occurred, other than the police records and the past media reports. Of course the authorities won't be particularly eager to inform the press that their record-sized drug bust has been completely undone by the force of the market. Ironically, media would probably not consider the lack of long-term impact from the bust to be newsworthy, because that's literally what has happened on every previous occasion.

Ultimately, the bust itself is the best proof that the bust won't make any difference. Arrests and seizures and prosecutions for drugs are the norm for the United States, in Philadelphia and everywhere else. Yet for all that effort, sustained and conducted aggressively for decades, the demand for cocaine is still so strong that the quantities in which it is found continue to set records. And that is a record of failure by any reasonable definition of the word.

So while I'm sure the press conference was exciting for the people involved in it, I'm not excited, and I don't see why I should be. When people decide that it's time to try something different, because they realize how much they've been throwing away in money and manpower and lives, that will be much more exciting than a pile of powder and a group of law enforcement brass behind a podium ever could be.

 

 

California Dr. Molly Fry Sentenced to Five Years
Stopthedrugwar
March 29th 2008

 

A federal judr molly frydge in Sacramento sentenced Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and her companion, attorney Dale Schafer, to five years in federal prison for conspiring to grow and distribute marijuana on March 19. Fry, who used marijuana herself in connection with radical breast cancer surgery, and Schafer, who used it for back pain and a dangerous form of hemophilia, also provided marijuana to patients under California's Compassionate Use Act.

But the Justice Department prosecuted the couple under the federal marijuana laws, leaving US District Judge Frank Damrell Jr. no choice but to impose the mandatory minimum five-year prison sentenced required under the law because they had more than 100 plants.

"It is a sad day, a terrible day," Damrell said during sentencing, adding that if it were up to him, the punishment would have been less. But he also criticized Fry and Schafer for refusing to accept a plea bargain that could have left them free. "You had the opportunity to resolve this case, but you wanted to soldier on, knowing that your kid would be left behind," he told the couple.

In a departure from normal practice on the federal bench and to the delight of supporters who packed the courtroom, Judge Damrell granted the pair bail, so they will remain free while their case is appealed. Damrell, who is also presiding over the Bryan Epis case and has granted him bail too, said the exceptional circumstances of the case create "serious issues that need to be decided by an appellate court." Among those, he noted, are Fry and Schafer's claim they were entrapped.

 

 

 

Human Rights in the Drug War:
NGOs Slam UN Drug Bureaucracies, Demand Compliance With UN Charter

StopthedrugWar.org
March 15th 2008

 

Using the annual meeting of the United Nation's Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna as a springboard, an international consortium of drug policy, harm reduction, and human rights groups Monday slammed the UN drug bureaucracies for ignoring numerous, widespread human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of global drug prohibition. The UN must stand up for human rights in the drug control regime, the groups said. The charge was made in a report released the same day,
"Recalibrating the Regime: The Need for a Human Rights-Based Approach to International Drug Policy," endorsed jointly by Human Rights Watch, the International Harm Reduction Association, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Program. It was presented this week in Vienna during a discussion of the worldwide human rights impact of the drug war conducted as part of a series of events countering the official CND meeting.

The CND, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), are the three UN entities charged with enforcing global drug prohibition as enshrined in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its two successor treaties. The CND was meeting this week to review whether the UN had met its 1998 10-year goal to achieve "measurable results" in the fight against drugs, including a "significant reduction" in the cultivation of cannabis, coca, and opium.

The Monday report cites murderous campaigns against drug suspects in Thailand in 2003 -- and the prospect of a repeat of that deadly drug war by the new Thai government -- the violent police campaign against drug dealers (and innocent bystanders) in Brazil, the grotesque Chinese habit of celebrating the UN's international anti-drug day by executing convicted drug offenders, the resort to the death penalty for drug offenders in more than 60 countries, the mass incarceration of drug offenders and the racially discriminatory enforcement of drug laws in places like the United States, and much, much, more as evidence that human rights comes in a distant second to the prerogatives of drug prohibition.

In the face of this litany of human rights abuses in the name of enforcing drug prohibition, the UN agencies have remained so quiet as to be almost "complicit" in them, the report argues. There has been "little engagement" with this issue by the CND, the INCB, the UNODC -- or even the UN's human rights treaties bodies, the report said.
.
"The UN General Assembly has stated repeatedly in resolutions that drug control must be carried out in full conformity with, and full respect for, all human rights and fundamental freedoms," said Mike Trace of the Beckley Foundation, which commissioned the report. "Delegations to this week's meeting must ensure that their obligations under international human rights law underpin all CND deliberations and actions."

"Despite the primacy of human rights obligations under the UN Charter, the approach of the UN system and the wider international community to addressing the tensions between drug control and human rights remains ambiguous," said Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. "This is inexcusable in the face of the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated in the course of enforcing drug prohibition, which in turn damages global efforts to prevent and treat HIV."

"Last week, INCB President Philip Emafo stated in the board's 2008 annual report that 'To do nothing [about drugs] is not an option'," said Rick Lines of the International Harm Reduction Association. "We are here today to state clearly that doing nothing about the human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of the drug war is also not an option. In this, the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CND member states and indeed the entire UN family must speak out clearly that human rights must not be sacrificed on the altar of drug control."

The new Thai government's repeated comments that it intends to go back to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's murderous drug war of 2003, in which some 2,800 were killed, aroused particular concern among the groups.

"As the UNODC has acknowledged, there are proven methods to address drug use while protecting human rights. Murder is not one of them," said Rebecca Schleifer, advocate with the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "As a member of the CND, Thailand must be held to account for its actions on drugs, and pressure brought by the international community to ensure that human rights violations are not repeated."

The Thai may be feeling the pressure. At the Monday afternoon "side session" organized by the groups, not one but three officials from the Thai government attended, all of them expressing the view that policies have "good effects and bad," and inviting advocates to provide information to help them improve policies. Time will tell whether it was a serious offer and whether they can influence their government in a positive direction if so.

Monday's report was only part of a broader onslaught directed at the UN anti-drug bureaucracies and their seeming disdain for human rights. Last week, in the wake of the release of the INCB's 2007 Annual Report, which called for "proportionality" in the enforcement of drug laws at the same time it called for criminalizing millions of people who chew coca leaf, that organization was critiqued in a response by the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of national and international groups specializing in issues relating to drug use, legal or illegal.

While the consortium congratulated the INCB for its call for proportionality and a slight retreat in its resistance to harm reduction, it warned that such good news "will be rendered meaningless if the Board does not consistently reflect these principles in its ongoing work with national governments and other UN agencies."

The consortium also harshly criticized the INCB for its call for the banning of the growing and consumption of coca. "Of greater concern is the continuing intransigence shown towards the issue of indigenous use of coca products in Bolivia," the consortium's response said. "Where there is an unresolved inconsistency within the drug control conventions, and between drug control and other international obligations and treaties, the role of the INCB should be to highlight these dilemmas and help governments to find a resolution, instead of issuing rigid and non-universal declarations."

The British drug charity DrugScope, a member of the consortium, called on the INCB to do more. "Drug users are vilified and marginalized worldwide," said Harry Shapiro, the group's director of communications. "Some nations feel that any action against them is justified, including murder. We are encouraged that the INCB recognizes this is unacceptable and that a balance must be struck between the enforcement of drug laws and the human rights and civil liberties of those with serious problems."

The INCB must match its actions to its words, Shapiro said. "But DrugScope and the International Drug Policy Consortium feel that the INCB, from their position of international authority, must follow their condemnation of human rights abuses through to its logical conclusion, The INCB must offer public criticism of particular countries with the worst human rights record in this area."

Instead of UN anti-drug agencies sticking up for human rights, they have now become the objects of criticism themselves. The official international prohibitionist drug policy consensus may be holding at the UN, but it is clearly fraying, and civil society is no longer willing to sit quietly in the face of injustice, whether in Bangkok or Baltimore, Rio or Russia.

 

William F. Buckley, Conservative Supporter of Drug Legalization
1926-2008
March 1st 2008

 

William F. Buckley, the dean of American conservatism and advocate of drug legalization, died Wednesday at his home in Connecticut. He was 82.

Buckley, the scion of a wealthy Connecticut family, came to public prominence with the 1951 publication of "God and Man at Yale," a searing critique of what he saw as agnostic and collectivist tendencies among the faculty and curriculum of his alma mater. In 1955, he founded the National Review, the magazine that became the leading voice of post-war American conservatism and helped lead to the conservative renaissance that resulted in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

While Buckley spent much of his career fighting for main-line conservative causes like smaller government, he also used the National Review and his decades-long stint as the host of PBS' "Firing Line" to advance his views in favor of the legalization of drugs. Along with figures like Milton Friedman and George Schulz, Buckley was among the first conservatives to adopt an overtly pro-legalization position.

Writing in the National Review in 1996, Buckley made the case for legalization :

"A conservative should evaluate the practicality of a legal constriction, as for instance in those states whose statute books continue to outlaw sodomy, which interdiction is unenforceable, making the law nothing more than print-on-paper. I came to the conclusion that the so-called war against drugs was not working, that it would not work absent a change in the structure of the civil rights to which we are accustomed and to which we cling as a valuable part of our patrimony. And that therefore if that war against drugs is not working, we should look into what effects the war has, a canvass of the casualties consequent on its failure to work."

In that same article, Buckley expressed abhorrence at the degree to which drug war zealotry infected the criminal justice system:

"I have not spoken of the cost to our society of the astonishing legal weapons available now to policemen and prosecutors; of the penalty of forfeiture of one's home and property for violation of laws which, though designed to advance the war against drugs, could legally be used -- I am told by learned counsel -- as penalties for the neglect of one's pets. I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors."

Buckley's erudition, extensive vocabulary, and famously darting tongue, as well as his life-long commitment to conservative principles made him an iconic figure of the late 20th Century. His principled embrace of drug legalization made it all the easier for other conservatives to follow in his footsteps. Hopefully more will follow.

 

Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts
Dr John P. Morgan 1941-2008
Feburary 24th 2008

 

Dr. John P. Morgan, one of the leading supporters of drug policy reform within the medical and academic worlds, died last Friday in New York City at age 67. Morgan succumbed to leukemia in a case that came on suddenly, taking family, friends and colleagues by surprise, many of whom had enjoyed conversations with him at recent conferences where he had appeared quite healty .


Morgan was a professor of pharmacology at City University of New York's Medical School from 1977 until his retirement in 2004. Though best known to the movement as coauthor of the 1997 book " Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts " -- with sociologist Lynn Zimmer, who passed away in 2006 -- Morgan has in fact been a staunch activist for drug law reform for decades. His service to the cause included a lengthy association with NORML, including many years sitting on its Board of Directors and Advisory Board, as well as on boards of the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as the Drug Policy Alliance.

Morgan was also a fixture at drug reform conferences, where, in addition to educating audiences on the intricacies of drug reform, he displayed a broad knowledge (and love of) popular music, especially pop music related to various drug cultures. On multiple occasions he gave presentations on marijuana references in classic jazz.

"Every single man and woman in this country and around the world who care about replacing prohibition-oriented policies with science/public health-based policies owe a man like John Morgan immense thanks and praise," said NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre in a statement announcing Morgan's untimely demise to the reform community.

Truly, Dr. John Morgan was a giant among advocates for a more humane drug policy. His achievements are enduring, but he will be sorely missed.

A memorial service for Dr. Morgan will be held at 2:00pm, Saturday, February 23 at City College on 140th Street and Amsterdam in Manhattan. It will be in the Faculty Dining Hall in the North Academic Center at Amsterdam and 138th street ( map ). The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in his name be made to support Stem Cell or Multiple Sclerosis research at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Call the hospital's Development Office at (212) 659-8500 or use their online gift form here .

Read Marsha Rosenbaum's tribute to John Morgan here . Read Jacob Sullum's tribute to him on the Reason web site here .

 

 

Faced With Swollen Prisons, Idaho Ponders Reforms
Stop The Drug War
Feburary 20th 2008

With nearly 7,500 people behind bars in Idaho -- more than half of them for drug offenses -- the Idaho legislature is finally beginning to move away from the "tough on crime" posturing and infliction of mandatory minimum drug dealing sentences that helped create the current crisis. A bill with bipartisan support that would give Idaho judges the option to send people convicted of drug distribution offenses to treatment instead of mandatory prison terms if they are found to be addicts is on the move in Boise.

House Bill 516 , sponsored by three Republicans and one Democrat, is in line for a full hearing at the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee this session. The bill would mark a departure for Idaho, which for years has responded to illegal drug use and sales by ratcheting up penalties.

But even the bill's sponsors are still playing to the punishment choir, if the Associated Press got it right. Rep. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise), a cosponsor of the bill, told the committee Monday most people convicted of drug distribution offenses deserved harsh sentences. But, she said, those involved in small-time dealing because of their addictions should get a chance at treatment instead. "For these rare instances, this will allow for an alternative sentence by judges," she said. "If treatment is provided, that provides the best chance of recovering."

Under current Idaho law, most drug dealing convictions require mandatory minimum sentences of three to five years. Some methamphetamine and meth precursor offenses carry 10-year mandatory minimums, though.

The bill "ain't a bad idea," Rep. Dick Harwood (R-St. Maries) told the AP. "Our prisons are pumped full. It would be nice to give judges discretion about whether to send somebody to prison or to some other treatment program. In reality, they're the ones that are sitting on the front lines, not the legislators who are making the laws."

There is also a another bill aimed at sentencing reform in Idaho. Rep. Jim Clark (R-Hayden) has introduced a bill that would expand misdemeanor drug courts. It is aimed at stopping minor offenders from developing full-blown substance abuse problems. If these bills are truly harbingers of a new approach in the Gem State, it's about time.

 

Dutch to Ban Magic Mushroom Sales
News2020.com
October 13th 2007

Dutch Health Minister Ab Klink is on the verge of announcing a ban on magic mushroom sales, the newspaper AD reported Wednesday. According to the newspaper, a final decision should come by week's end.

Under current Dutch law, the sale of dried mushrooms is illegal, but fresh mushrooms may be sold and purchased. They are widely available at "smart shops" across the country.

Pressure has been mounting for a ban since a photogenic young French tourist died under the influence of magic mushrooms earlier this year. There have been a handful of widely publicized other incidents involving foreign tourists taking mushrooms. According to Amsterdam health service figures, paramedics responded to 128 calls from people tripping on 'shrooms last year.

 

Let's Get Real Already About Ending Drug Prohibition
StoptheDrugWar
October 3rd 2007

The annual FBI Uniform Crime Report came out last week, and the news it brought about drug arrests in 2006 was no surprise. Unsurprisingly, drug arrests again hit a record level -- 1,889,810 this time, 829,625 for marijuana, more than eight out of ten drug arrests for just possession. Almost nine out of ten marijuana arrests were for possession alone.

This all transpired in a year when violent crime was on the increase, 1.9% over 2005 and the second year in a row after a decade's decline. One should not exaggerate a relatively small number like 1.9%. But at a minimum an opportunity may have been lost to reduce violent crime. Why do we continue to plough such vast resources into drug enforcement that could otherwise be used to protect us from attacks -- attacks of whatever kind?

Despite a small uptick in the street price of cocaine recently -- due only to short-term operational challenges facing the industry -- all of this drug enforcement has been a massive failure. On Wednesday I attended a lunch talk at a DC-based foreign policy think tank given by Arnold Trebach, founder of our modern drug policy reform movement (he started the Drug Policy Foundation) and a professor emeritus of American University. In order to make the point about the futility of drug war, Arnold called a friend of his who is knowledgeable about the heroin scene prior to coming downtown for the talk. He wanted to know where one would go now in order to acquire heroin. After all, it's been awhile since he researched his 1982 work, The Heroin Solution .

Things have indeed changed since then, but despite perhaps millions of drug arrests over the years (10 million? 15? 20?), heroin has not become less available. In fact, it's easier to obtain it than ever before, at least if one knows the right people. According to Arnold, his friend told him that now you wouldn't go out to buy it, you'd just call the delivery service, and if you have any references to vouch for you, they would get it to you in about 20 minutes.

20 minutes. We could have finished our lunches, listened to half of Arnold's talk, then ordered some heroin, received it before the end of the talk and consumed it with dessert. (Of course for a variety of reasons, not limited to our need to get work done the rest of the day, we didn't do that and instead just took Arnold's friend's word that we could have.)

The diversion of resources away from more important -- and more feasible -- tasks is only one of many reasons to go with legalization. The money being spent on the illicit drug trade -- estimates globally are in the hundreds of billions of dollars -- is fueling violence, both global and local. I don't know whether the increase in drug arrests in the US played a role in the increase in violence last year, but it's clearly possible. Far more importantly, a chunk of the violence that we have suffered with throughout the years is directly or indirectly related to the drug trade.

And the money is warping society. How many young people have been lured into lives of criminality through the promise that the drug trade appears to offer? Most of them don't end up making great money doing so. But it's there, there's a prospect for advancement, and depending on your outlook it's glamorous and it lets you be part of something larger than yourself. Money from the drug trade is also helping to support those who want to carry out terrorist attacks, and in some places is fueling civil wars. All of this is happening because drugs are illegal, not because of any intrinsic properties of the drugs.

But would the sky fall if drugs were legal? Would so many more people use and get addicted to drugs that the harm would be greater from that than from the criminality created now by prohibition? Arnold told the audience that he believes we can devise a system for controlling a licit drug trade; that it would not be unduly difficult to do so (we do this already for the currently legal drugs, after all), and "we would survive." We could still help people with drug problems, we can regulate the drugs any number of different ways, we can face that challenge.

I in fact think the overall public health harm from drugs would decrease, not increase, even if more people experimented with them. After all, most people don't destroy themselves with drugs today, legal or illegal, despite their widespread availability, simply because they don't want to destroy themselves. For those who do get addicted to drugs like heroin, but who don't earn a fairly generous personal income, the artificially high prices that prohibition brings about for the drugs is a big part of making the habit so disruptive to their lives. I believe that on the public health side as well as on the criminal justice side, legalization will overall be a winning move, despite the harms that some drugs can have.

It can be hard to advance this discussion in circles of power. Arnold commented that at least eight people in US officialdom told him they would be glad to meet with him, they appreciated what he was doing, but they preferred not to meet him in their offices. They wanted to meet at one restaurant or another, where they hopefully would not been seen with him and thereby get in political hot water. That was a long time ago, but it is still the situation in many ways today.

And yet we do advance -- this organization and newsletter are here, for example, and the movement is growing in diversity and experience and size. Now it's time for the leaders to get real -- drug legalization is viable and it's the right thing to do. So stop demonizing it and start talking about it . Because sometimes leadership means actually leading.

 

Ortega asks for $1 Billion in Anti-Drug Aid

September 9th 2007

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has asked the US government for $1 billion to help Central American countries fight drug trafficking. Ortega has sent a formal request for funds to buy helicopters, boats, radar equipment and anything else necessary to fight the drugs war in theNicaraguan President Daniel Ortega region.

The request comes only two weeks after Ortega said he didn't trust the DEA because its operations mask "unexpected interests" and "terrible things." Ortega could well have been recalling his first stint at Nicaragua's leaders in the 1980s, when the US attempted to portray his government as drug smugglers while -- at the least -- turning a blind eye to cocaine running operations connected to the US-backed Contra rebels attempting to overthrow his socialist government.

But Nicaraguan governments since 1990, including Ortega's current government, have cooperated with the DEA in the face of cocaine trafficking organizations using the isthmus as a smuggling corridor.

Ortega said US officials had "reacted positively" to his request, although the US government has not commented officially on the matter. "If the United States government has the luxury of spending more than $400 billion on the war in Iraq, it can give $1 billion to Central America," he said.

The US government has provided several billion dollars to the Colombian government to fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas there, and is on the verge on announcing a large anti-drug aid deal with Mexico. Despite his concerns about the DEA and US dislike for his government [Ed: and despite the failure and injustices of the war on drugs and the harm the program will undoubtedly do to people in his country], Ortega seems to want a piece of the anti-drug aid money pie.

 

"My real crime... was refusing to testify against my sons, children of my womb"
StoptheDrugWar
August 29th 2007

Alva Mae "Granny" Groves , the 86-year-old North Carolina grandmother sentenced to 24 years behind bars after refusing to testify against her children, died last week at a federal prison hospital in Texas. Federal prison officials denied her request to die at home, saying her charges were too serious to allow compassionateAlva Mae release. Groves had already served 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to sell cocaine and aiding and abetting the trading of crack cocaine for food stamps. She was 74 when she went to prison. She always maintained that she had been punished for failing to cooperate with federal prosecutors to lock up her children for life."My real crime... was refusing to testify against my sons, children of my womb, that were conceived, birthed and raised with love," Groves wrote in a 2001 letter to November Coalition , an anti-prohibitionist group that concentrates on freeing federal drug war prisoners.

Law enforcement officials continue to maintain that Groves played a key role in a cocaine conspiracy conducted by family members, but family members have always said she did nothing more than look the other way. Five members of her family were imprisoned in the investigation. Her son, Ricky Groves, is doing a life sentence, while Groves, her older daughter, and her granddaughter were all sent to federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida.Groves became one of the poster children for sentencing reform as reaction grew to the drug war excesses of the 1980s and 1990s. But any reforms will come too late for the grandmother who loved tending her garden."It's a relief she's dead, but it's a hurt, a real hurt we weren't with her," daughter Everline told the Charlotte Observer . "What could she have hurt?"

Groves dreamed of getting out of prison, planting new gardens, and seeing grandchildren born while she was behind bars, but never had the chance. Her kidneys began failing early this year, and she was transferred to a federal prison hospital in Fort Worth.Groves did not want to die in prison, she told the November Coalition in a recent letter. "I realize everyone has a day to die; death is a fate that will not be cheated. But I don't want to die in prison. I want to die at home surrounded by the love of what's left of my family."Last winter, the Groves family asked for compassionate release so she could die at home. The family wrote to every official they could think of and enlisted the help of groups like the November Coalition, to no avail. As Groves' daughters leaned over her bed on July 19, prison officials handed them a letter denying the request.

 

Seven good Reasons to Legalize Marijuana
Thinkingpeace.com
August 18th 2007

Yearly drug mortalities: Tobacco, 340-400,000; Alcohol, 125,000; Caffeine, 1000 to 10,000; Legal drug overdoses, 14-27,000; Illicit drug overdoses, 3800 to 5200; Aspirin, 180 to 1000 Marijuana, 0. —US Surgeon General

Just writing the title for this article feels a bit criminal. The War on Drugs has gotten us to the point where saying anything positive about marijuana makes you an immoral, youth-corrupting, teasonous jerk. Yet, the first casualty in the drug war was the truth. In our national frenzy to eradicate certain (but not all) types of drug use, we have become mired in a swamp of lies that do more damage to our nation than any drug ever could.

One does not have to be a past, present or would-be marijuana user to care deeply about this issue. The criminalization of marijuana has negative consequences that affect us all. Even such arch-conservatives as William Buckley, George Shultz and Milton Friedman have called for the legalization of marijuana. Their bottom line: fighting a war against marijuana constitutes a monumental waste of resources.

Marijuana is a common plant that has grown wild around the world for thousands of years. From 1000 B.C. until the late 1800s, it was the planet’s most widely-cultivated crop. Its psycho-active properties have long been important to many cultures for medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes. There are hundreds of productive uses for which marijuana provides an ideal source material. Yet since 1937, the US has made the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana a venal and stringently punished crime. This is great foolishness with dire consequences. It is time for a change.

Criminalization creates crime

Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. —Abraham Lincoln

An estimated 10% of prisoners currently held in federal prisons were arrested for marijuana cultivation, possession and/or use. These people were not running huge quantities of drugs across our borders, or selling drugs to children, or in any way endangering other people. They were simply growing or using marijuana, usually in the privacy of their homes.

For this so-called crime against society we now demand mandatory sentences of twenty years to life, often without parole. The marijuana user will he in jail long after the rapist, armed burglar and kidnapper have been released. Indeed, our prisons are now so overcrowded with non-violent drug users that truly dangerous criminals are often put back on the streets for lack of space. Likewise, our police are so busy arresting non-violent drug users, and our courts so burdened with hearing their cases, that genuine threats to our society are that much harder to address.

It costs about $20,000 a year to incarcerate a federal criminal. That’s a half a million dollars per marijuana user if we hold him or her for twenty-five years. And it is likely that their time in jail will only turn marijuana users into real criminals, an added bonus for society when we get around to releasing them, More Reasons.........

 

 

'you can't eradicate it through the police and the courts'
Jackie Ashley
The Guardian
July 30th 2007

It's far more important to educate people about what dope does to the brain than reclassify and then crack down on it
Red Leb, Moroccan black, Afghan brown ... and now Kirkcaldy Brown too. It was a surprise to find the new prime minister so keen to wade into the cannabis debate. But battle has been joined. Since signalling his desire to have dope reclassified upwards, clouds of scented smoke have been wafting through Westminster.

First, there was the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, with her brisk admission about her own limited drugs past, followed by half the cabinet putting their hands up. Then there was the risible suggestion that it was all a plot to out David Cameron on his illicit history. Then came a report in the medical journal the Lancet, suggesting that cannabis users have a 40% greater chance of suffering psychotic episodes than the rest of us. And yesterday came a whacking for Gordon Brown in the press, with reports that £50m is to be cut from the drug treatment budget - a sign of hypocrisy if he is also signalling that the drugs problem should be taken more seriously?
Brown must be wondering if it was worth the original high. There are two things we know for sure about cannabis: it's bad for you and it it's impossible to ban. It's bad because of the effect it has on synapses in the brain. There is too much hard scientific evidence, from neurologists and psychologists of impeccable credentials, to play the old game of "Hey, compared to fags and booze, dope's harmless". More........

 

'a voice of reason'
Thisislondon.co.uk
July 26th 2007

The Government adviser who set in motion the downgrading of cannabis has a relative who has been a drug addict, the Evening Standard has revealed.
Dame Ruth Runciman has never publicly admitted that she has a family member whose life has been a voice of reason...affected by drugs, despite her liberal stance on cannabis.
But on the day the Government formally starts a review which could upgrade cannabis to a class B drug, the Standard can reveal that a relative has fought drug addiction for years.
The disclosure will raise questions over whether her recommendation to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug was influenced by her relative's illness.
Moves to reclassify the drug come amid growing concern at the effects of superstrong skunk cannabis. But Dame Ruth said today evidence of the dangers of skunk was "exaggerated", adding:
"How do you know it's stronger? All kinds of figures are bandied about over the strength of cannabis - that it's 10 times, 20 times, 30 times more potent than it used to be. Is it?
"There is indubitably some skunk that is stronger about the place, but the evidence has been hugely exaggerated and does not support such an alarmist view."
Dame Ruth chaired a government backed report for the Police Foundation which called for cannabis possession to no longer be an imprisonable offence.
Published in 2000, it set in chain the move by then home secretary David Blunkett to make the drug a class C substance in 2004 - effectively ending the possibility of being arrested for its possession.
But since then psychiatrists have become concerned at the impact of skunk which contains high concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the ingredient which they fear is linked to schizophrenia. Today Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ordered a new review of drugs laws which could overturn the downgrading. The review is likely to call for skunk - and possibly all cannabis - to return to class B status, Full Interveiw.....

 

"politicization of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,"
MPP
July 25th 2007

Tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be on "The Thom Hartmann Program" on Air America Radio to discuss the White House drug czar's recent crimes and the ensuing congressional investigation. Visit http://www.airamerica.com/stations to find out when the program will air in your area.

Last week, a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives opened an investigation into the "politicization of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy," which Drug Czar John Walters leads. In the months before the November 2006 elections, the drug czar and his deputies traveled to 20 events to help vulnerable Republican members of Congress get reelected -- illegally spending taxpayer money to do so -- including two trips to Nevada to oppose our ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition. Visit http://www.mpp.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1847069&ct=4137323 to read some news coverage of the budding congressional investigation.

Please visit http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?a=jtKYJbPQLkI0LkK&s=fsIWJ4MFKeLSI8MQJvE&m=ipIRJRNuFgJWH&af=y to give now so that we can capitalize on this opportunity to hammer away at the drug czar while he's vulnerable.

As outrageous as these actions are, they are also nothing new, unfortunately. The drug czar's office has been using taxpayer money to illegally influence elections since at least 2002, when we launched our "War on Drug Czar" campaign (see http://www.mpp.org/site/lookup.asp?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1206499 ). That year, MPP pioneered the fight against Walters and his henchmen in an offensive that has already lasted more than four-and-a-half years. The highlights:

* December 2002: MPP files a federal Hatch Act complaint against the drug czar's office for campaigning against our first ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Nevada.  MPP also files a complaint with the Nevada secretary of state to force the drug czar to reveal how much of the taxpayers' money he had spent in an effort to defeat the initiative.  

* April 2003: At MPP's urging, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) files a complaint with the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, stating that a "marijuana facts" letter sent by the drug czar to the nation's prosecutors violates the ban on the use of taxpayer funds for "publicity and propaganda," as well as the longstanding GAO position that "the government should not disseminate misleading information."  

* September 2003: MPP's challenge for the drug czar to participate in nationally televised debates after he calls for "a national debate" on marijuana policy goes unanswered by his office.

* May 2004: Thanks to an earlier complaint filed by MPP, the Nevada Supreme Court forces the Nevada secretary of state's office to explain why it failed to require the drug czar to comply with the state's campaign finance laws during our first campaign to end marijuana prohibition in Nevada in 2002.

* February 2005: MPP requests that the Illinois Attorney General investigate the drug czar for lobbying against MPP's medical marijuana bill in the Illinois Legislature.

* February 2005: MPP files a campaign finance complaint in Montana against the drug czar's office for campaigning against our ballot initiative to establish a medical marijuana law in the state (which we passed in November 2004).

* February 2005: MPP files a complaint with the Alaska government after the deputy drug czar campaigned against our ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana in the state.

* March 2006: Congressman Paul's amendment to the reauthorization act for the drug czar's office -- which would have eliminated the office in five years -- receives 85 "yes" votes on the floor of the U.S. House.

* August 2006: MPP successfully pressures the federal government to release an assessment of the drug czar's media campaign -- which the drug czar buried for a year-and-a-half -- which shows that the anti-marijuana TV ads actually increase marijuana use among certain adolescents.

As you can see, our "War on Drug Czar" campaign is hard-hitting and aggressive. It is also quite expensive, as it involves legal fees and lobbying Congress. Will you please consider making a donation at http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?a=iiKWL8PNKlJ0IiK&s=fsIWJ4MFKeLSI8MQJvE&m=ipIRJRNuFgJWH&af=y in support of our efforts to end the drug czar's taxpayer-funded war on marijuana users?

Thank you for supporting MPP, and I hope you'll tune in tomorrow...

Sincerely,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2007. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

P.P.S. You can opt out of receiving fundraising mentions in the e-mail alerts I send you in 2007 by visiting http://www.mpp.org/2007optoutpreference at your convenience.

 

Afghan Poppy Crop Sets New Record, US Ambassador Says
Stop the Drug War
July 21st 2007

The Afghan opium poppy crop will set a new record this year, US Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood said Tuesday . The crop is set to exceed last year's record harvest despite more intensive efforts to combat the trade, he conceded.

According toThe Afghan opium poppy crop will set a new record this year, US Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood... Wood, preliminary data show that Afghan farmers harvested 457,000 acres of opium poppy this year. That's up from the 407,000 acres planted last year. Opium is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring and early summer.

Last year, Afghanistan accounted for 92% of the global opium supply. In 1997, the country accounted for only 52%, and it accounted for 70% in 2000, before the Taliban banned it in 2001. Thanks to high yields from Afghan opium, the global opium supply reached more than 6,600 metric tons last year, up a whopping 43% over 2005. There will be even more this year. Heroin manufactured from Afghan opium is now finding its way into the veins of junkies from London to Lahore and Turin to Tehran to Tashkent. It is now also reportedly beginning to show up on the West Coast of North America, providing competition for the Mexican and Colombian poppy-producers who have historically supplied most heroin for the US market.

Volatile southern Helmand province, where US and NATO troops are engaged in a fierce guerrilla war with Taliban insurgents, alone produced nearly 212,000 acres of poppies, almost half the national total.

Afghan government-led opium eradication efforts managed to destroy about 49,000 acres of poppies, or a little more than one-tenth of the total crop, Wood said. He called the results of the eradication effort "disappointing."

"I think there is growing recognition both nationally and internationally of the importance of the illicit narcotics trade and the threat it poses," he said, adding that he is a firm believer in forced eradication. "We need to remove drug cultivation as an option, both because it threatens security and governance and stability in Afghanistan and because the product of drug cultivation is taking lives inside of Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan through addiction and other criminal activity," he said. "Drugs, because of their value are like diamonds," Wood continued. "They are small, they are high value, they are easily transportable, and no one has ever found a successful way to stop people from picking diamonds up from the ground and trying to sell them. If the diamonds are on the ground, people will try to pick them up and try to sell them. So you've got to eradicate them from the ground," Wood said.

Good luck selling that to the Afghan farmers, opium traders, gunmen-for-hire, Taliban insurgents, and government officials making a living off the thriving black market in opium under the global drug prohibition regime.

 

'There are pain medications much superior to marijuana'
StoptheDrugWar
July 13th 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani rejected medical marijuana when asked about it at a campaign stop Tuesday , saying its supporters really just want to legalize the weed. The comment was not a major surprise, given the former New York City mayor's previous pronouncements on the subject.

"I believe the effort to try and make marijuana available for medical uses is really a way to legalize it. There's no reason for it," Giuliani said during a town hall-style meeting at New Hampshire Technical Institute. He added that there was no need for it. "You can accomplish everything you want to accomplish with things other than marijuana, probably better. There are pain medications much superior to marijuana," he said.

According to Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM), an advocacy group sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project that seeks to take advantage of New Hampshire's key role in the presidential primary process to get the candidates on the record on medical marijuana, Giuliani has never said anything favorable about medical marijuana. That would put him right beside the other first-tier Republican contenders, among whom only Sen. John McCain has made the most tepid remarks about "states' rights" when asked about the issue. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney simply starts talking about marijuana as a gateway drug when asked about it.

The Democratic field has been much friendlier to medical marijuana, with no candidate rejecting it outright and several going on the record saying they would end federal raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is on the record as strongly supporting medical marijuana, while former Sen. Mike Gravel simply wants to legalize drugs.

In the Republican pack, Rep. Ron Paul is a strong supporter, and, somewhat surprisingly, Rep. Tom Tancredo, mostly known for his anti-illegal immigration stance, has consistently voted for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the use of federal funds to raid patients and providers.

 

'after years of global criticism for its gluttonous appetite for drugs'
Freep.com
July 11th 2007

 

WASHINGTON -- One war appears to be going well for the United States and its allies these days: the drug war. The availability of all major illegal drugs -- except Afghan heroin -- is flat or down, according to newly released global figures. So is drug use in the United States, the world's leading consumer. And drug seizures are up sharply. No one's saying the world's drug problem is solved, only that it's contained for now. "We seem to have reached a point where the worldWalters said in an interview, drug situation has stabilized and been brought under control," Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, based in Vienna, Austria, wrote in an analysis of world drug trends that was released last month. Some experts chide Costa for reading too much into small changes in short-term supply and ignoring grimmer long-term forecasts. But U.S. drug czar John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, is also optimistic.
After years of global criticism for its gluttonous appetite for drugs, Walters said in an interview, "the U.S. is now being looked on favorably as an example of declining use."

U-M survey shows use is down
By a traditional drug-war benchmark, the University of Michigan's annual government-sponsored survey of U.S. teens, Walters is correct. It says that the use of any illicit drug within the past month dropped about 23% during the past five years. The study, which surveys eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders annually, often is used to predict future abuse rates.
Walters and UN drug-trend analyst Thomas Pietschmann, a coauthor of the 2007 World Drug Report, give much of the credit to authorities in drug-producing countries such as Colombia, Morocco, Laos and Myanmar, who have cracked down on farmers and traffickers.

The countries' motives differ. Colombia's U.S.-aided crackdown sucked support from drug-funded rebels. Morocco followed the European Union's pressure. Laos and Myanmar dried up insurgencies and appeased neighboring China.
Walters and Pietschmann praised Mexico's bloody efforts against its politically corrupting drug cartels. Also lauded: more generous intelligence sharing -- mainly by the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom -- with Mexico, Colombia and other drug-shipping countries.
The intelligence sharing is paying off in more seizures by more countries, said the Vienna-based Pietschmann, especially when it comes to coca and cocaine.
Whereas U.S. law enforcement did most of the seizing in the 1980s and 1990s, Latin America did nearly 60% of it in 2005, the latest year tallied. The leading interdicting countries were Colombia, the United States, Venezuela, Spain, Ecuador and Mexico, in that order.
Even in countries where supplies were up, as with coca in Bolivia and Peru, seizures offset the increases, Pietschmann said, Full Appetite...

 

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
StopThe Drug War
June 30th 2007

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued its 2007 World Drug Report Tuesday, the same day as it marked its annual International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking . While the UNODC claimed it was making substantial progress in the fight against drugs by "stabilizing" global drug use levels, critics pointed out that that was a far cry from UNODC's mission of substantially eradicating all drug crops'enough said' by next year and that "stability" meant only the continuation of the repressive status quo. While it appears to have been pretty well ignored in Europe and North America -- either no events took place or they were deemed unworthy of coverage by the media -- anti-drug day is an occasion for public meetings, ceremonial drug burnings, and sometimes, worse, in those parts of the world with the stiffest anti-drug postures, particularly the Middle East and Asia.And so it was this year, with ceremonial drug burnings to mark anti-drug day taking place in Mozambique , Myanmar, Thailand , and Uzbekistan .Meanwhile, authorities in Iran , Kuwait , Saudi Arabia , Tanzania ,
the United Arab Emirates , and Vietnam marked anti-drug day with public assemblies, educational events, and special ceremonies. In Vietnam, authorities celebrated anti-drug day by ordering a crackdown until September 26.

But once again, it was actions by China that were the most dramatic and drew the most concern from drug reform, harm reduction, and human rights activists. In past years, China celebrated anti-drug day with executions of drug trafficking offenders -- as many as 460 in recent years, according to press reports compiled by the US-based Harm Reduction Coalition .

This year, there were no anti-drug day executions reported in China. But Chinese authorities did announce death sentences for seven drug traffickers on anti-drug day eve and announced one more on anti-drug day itself .

"We have observed a declining resort to the death penalty in both the US and China," said Richard Dieter, head of Death Penalty Information Center . "Although China uses it much more than the US, they have agreed to be more discerning and review more cases in their high courts. I think we will see a decline in the death penalty in China," he predicted.

"We don't want to see drug offenders executed," said Allan Clear, head of the Harm Reduction Coalition . "But we also don't want the UN to set up this day without drugs and then have member states run out and execute people as a show of good faith. We want the UN to step up and say that is not what they intended. UN Secretary-General Moon has made comments to the effect that it should be up to member states, and we think that is appalling," Clear said.

In fact, the Harm Reduction Coalition wrote a letter to Moon last month urging him to take action. The letter called on Moon to "condemn China's use of executions and death sentences to commemorate International Day Against Drugs as severe human rights violations and to make a public call to halt this practice. Progress against the problem of drugs and related issues, including the HIV epidemic, must be founded upon a solid respect and enforcement of human rights for all," the letter stated.

"It's good that there have been no reported executions," said Clear, "but I don't think we can actually claim a victory if they are still using the day as a reason to sentence people to death."

Clear said that a number of regional human rights and harm reduction groups joined the Harm Reduction Coalition in sending letters to the UN urging it to intervene against states using the death penalty to mark anti-drug day. But a number of other groups decided to wait.

While there is some dissension in the harm reduction and human rights ranks about how best to go after the use of the death penalty in drug cases, an international movement against it is forming. The International Harm Reduction Association and Human Rights Watch are spearheading a campaign centered on October 10, the international day against the death penalty.

"We've agreed to work with all the regional networks in an effort coordinated by Human Rights Watch and IHRA," said Clear. "That will happen later this year."

If the excesses of the international anti-drug day are drawing criticism, so is UNODC's annual report, with critics calling it everything from rose-tinted to meaningless. UNODC claimed that coca production was down in the Andes, a claim undercut by US figures released just weeks earlier that showed an increase. Similarly, UNODC claimed success in eradicating opium production in Laos, which pales in significance compared to the massive increase in production in Afghanistan, which accounts for nearly 95% of the global supply.

"The methods of estimating global drug use and drug production are very imprecise and notoriously unstandardized," said Dutch drug policy researcher Peter Cohen. "The text will say what is needed at the moment. It is tailored to cater to global moods and UN funding needs. All of these UN drug reports are political expressions, and the UNODC's trick is to somehow make people believe their Politburo reports have some significance," he argued. "It's best to ignore them."

The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) was similarly scathing, noting that while UNODC claimed overall stability, "repression is rising." Stability means the status quo, ENCOD complained: "Stability in this case means that current drug policies place the heaviest burden among those who are already among the most marginalized in the first place… Stability means an escalation of law enforcement and repression… Stability means a war against minorities," the group continued, mentioning both Laos, where the internal resettlement of indigenous ethnic communities that formerly grew opium has pushed mortality rates through the roof, and the United States, where racial minorities are much more likely to be incarcerated on drug charges.

The UNODC looks at global drug supplies and consumption and claims victory by running hard just to stay in the same place. The harm reduction, human rights, and drug reform community looks at the same data and sees the latest installment of a disastrous global drug prohibition regime.

 

 

'Afghanistan opium production 50 per cent up in 2006'
Brooksbulletin.com
June 28th 2007

Austria - Antonio Maria Costa 'fucking clueless'Afghanistan produced dramatically more opium in 2006, increasing its yield by nearly 50 per cent from a year earlier and pushing global opium production to a new record high, a UN report said Tuesday.
The annual report also found that the estimated level of global drug use has remained more or less unchanged for the third year, although cannabis use continues to decline in North America.

Afghanistan's opium production increased from about 4,000 tonnes in 2005 to 6,000 tonnes in 2006, according to the 2007 World Drug Report released by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Opium is the main ingredient for heroin.
In 2006, Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of global illicit opium production, up from 70 per cent in 2000 and 52 per cent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought global opium production to a record high of nearly 6,600 tonnes last year, a 43 per cent increase over 2005.
The area under opium poppy cultivation in the country has also expanded, from nearly 1,000 square kilometres in 2005 to more than 1,600 square kilometres in 2006, an increase of about 59 per cent.
"This is the largest area under opium poppy cultivation ever recorded in Afghanistan," the report said, noting that two-thirds of cultivation was concentrated in the country's south.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warned that Afghanistan's insurgency-plagued Helmand province was becoming the world's biggest drug supplier, with opium cultivation there larger than in the rest of the country put together.
"Effective surgery on Helmand's drug and insurgency cancer will rid the world of the most dangerous source of its most dangerous narcotic and go a long way to bringing security to the region," Costa said in a statement.

Early indications suggest Afghanistan could see a further increase in opium production in 2007, the report said.
For the sixth straight year, the amount of land under opium cultivation has fallen in Southeast Asia. From 1998-2006, that region's share of world opium poppy cultivation has decreased from 67 per cent to just 12 per cent, largely due to declines in cultivation in Myanmar, the report said , Full Production....

 

Supreme Court Rules Passengers Can Challenge Police Stops
StoptheDrugWar
June 23rd 2007

In a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court held Monday that passengers in a car stopped by police have the same right to challenge the constitutionality of that stop as the driver. The court held that when police stop a vehicle, the passengers are "seized" and have the right to challenge the legality of that seizure in court.

The ruling came in the case of California resident Bruce Edward Brendlin, who was arrested on parole violation and drug charges after the car in which he was riding was pulled over for what turned out to be bogus reasons by police. Once police had stopped the vehicle, they ordered Brendlin out of the car, searched him, the driver, and the vehicle, and found a syringe cap, a small amount of marijuana, and ingredients used to home cook methamphetamine.

While the driver of the vehicle did not challenge the constitutionality of the traffic stop, Brendlin did. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that the traffic stop amounted to "an unlawful seizure of his person."

A California appeals court agreed, but the California Supreme Court overturned the appeals court decision. Instead, the California high court agreed with the state that even though police "had no adequate justification" to stop the vehicle in which Brendlin was riding, only the driver -- not any passengers -- had been "seized." Passengers in a vehicle stopped by police "would feel free to depart or otherwise to conduct his or her affairs as though the police were not present," the court reasoned.

But the US Supreme Court begged to differ. Any "reasonable passenger" would not feel free to simply leave the scene of a traffic stop, wrote Justice David Souter in the opinion in Brendlin v. California . "A traffic stop necessarily curtails the travel a passenger has chosen just as much as it halts the driver," Souder wrote. "Brendlin was seized from the moment [the driver's] car came to a halt on the side of the road, and it was error to deny his suppression motion on the ground that seizure occurred only at the formal arrest."

To find in favor of California's position that passengers are not "seized" during a traffic stop "would invite police officers to stop cars with passengers regardless of probable cause or reasonable suspicion of anything illegal," Souter wrote. "The fact that evidence uncovered as a result of an arbitrary traffic stop would still be admissible against any passengers would be a powerful incentive to run the kind of 'roving patrols' that would still violate the driver's Fourth Amendment right."

 

'Scandinavian-style get-tough policies on drugs'
Theherald.co.uk
June 20th 2007

The man leading Scotland's fight against organised crime is investigating Scandinavian-style get-tough policies on drugs. Graeme Pearson, the head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said yesterday he was drawing up a detailed report on Sweden's brand of no-nonsense zero-tolerance on narcotics. Earlier this year, The Herald revealed calls from Mr Pearson to scrap Britain's system of drug classification in favour of a tougher stance. Now he and colleagues have visited Sweden to see how their policies, a combination of strict prohibition and reinforced education, have helped keep addiction at relatively low levels.
The UN has singled out Sweden for praise. The country, with twice the population of Scotland, has half as many addicts.
Mr Pearson said: "They still have a drug problem in Sweden. It's not an island of tranquillity in a sea of despair. But the UN report indicates Sweden has a number of policies which it promotes as best practice. Hence my interest. Mr Pearson and his team will report their findings to other agencies, including the Scottish Executive, Full Idea....

 

"Awareness of the link between mental illness and cannabis has increased over recent years"
Trackitdown.net UK
June 18th 2007

Leading UK Tory politician Andrew Lansley said his party favours a return to war-on-drugs style Prohibition policies against cannabis users this week in responseAndrew Lansley.. here we go again... to Labour admissions that cannabis related hospital admissions have doubled in ten years.
"Awareness of the link between mental illness and cannabis has increased over recent years, as has the strength of the drug. Both these factors have contributed to the sharp increase of hospital admissions on mental health grounds,” shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley told the BBC, "That's why the Conservatives have opposed the downgrading of cannabis and pledged to have it reclassified,” he added.
His threats matched the rhetoric of fellow anti-cannabis Conservative zealot David Davis who as recently as last year said in a speech ‘we know that the use of cannabis is a gateway to hard drugs . . . that it can cause psychosis, and that it does huge psychiatric damage’ though not the widely publicized earlier views of Conservative leader David Cameron, when he stood for party leadership.

According to a profile in the Independent in 2005, Mr Cameron supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it still shares with cocaine and heroin and said it would be "disappointing" if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at’ and believed ‘the UN should consider legalising drugs’
“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown,” he presciently added, “Drugs policy has been failing for decades."

In more crackdown news, Labour MP Christopher Fraser called for parliament to pass tougher anti party legislation this week, after police were unable to break up a forest rave in East Anglia because revelers cheekily didn’t break any laws.
“Parliament must act to ensure that the police and local authorities do not have their hands tied when trying to protect the law-abiding majority from such thoughtless and anti-social behaviour,” the MP for South West Norfolk declared.

 


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Death Penalty: Two More Drug Offenders Sentenced
StopTheDrugWar.org
June 9th 2007

Nations in Southeast Asia and the Middle East continue to impose the death penalty on drug offenders, with two more people being sentenced to death and another one executed this week.

In Vietnam, two ethnic minority villagers were sentenced to death for smuggling heroin Monday. Fourteen others were sent to prison in a case involving 1.7 kilograms of heroin being smuggled in a three-month period last year.

"All of the 16 convicted were from the same village, and many of them were related to each other," said Pham Van Nam, the court's chief administrator. "They were all drug addicts."

In Saudi Arabia, authorities beheaded a Saudi citizen for smuggling hashish Thursday. Jari al-Dossari was arresting while receiving a large quantity of hashish and executed in Riyadh's al-Sulail province.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic law, people convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery, and drug trafficking can be executed. And the Saudis are keeping busy -- 82 people have been executed so far this year, well ahead of the pace last year (38) and the year before (82).

 

"There will be a heavier emphasis on enforcement"
stopthedrugwar.org
June 2nd 2007

The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper is set to reveal what is expected to be a US-style approach to drug policy any day now. While action in parliament is unlikely until after the looming summer recess, battle lines are already being drawn in what promises to be a bitter fight. Although the government has yet to reveal particulars, it is widely assumed that the new drug strategy will take a "tough on crime" approach to drugs, cracking down on grow-ops and drug sellers with harsher penalties, providing more money for law enforcement, and moving away from harm reduction approaches such as Vancouver's Insite safe injection site. "There will be a heavier emphasis on enforcement, with some additional money for treatment," said Eugene Oscapella, head of the Canadian Drug Policy Foundation . "The other thing is they want mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, especially serious trafficking offenses," he told Drug War Chronicle. An early hint of the Harper government's drug policy came in March, when Conservatives allocated an extra $70 million over two years for enforcement, treatment, and prevention, but no mention was made of harm reduction programs. In Canada, these also include needle exchanges and the distribution of sterile crack pipes.

Of the additional funding, treatment programs will get nearly half, law enforcement about a third, and the rest will go into "just say no" style youth prevention program. The new drug strategy is also expected to endorse the use of drug courts, where drug offenders can be ordered into treatment programs instead of jail or prison. The Canadian federal government currently spends about $350 million a year on anti-drug efforts, the vast majority of which goes to law enforcement, with lesser amounts for treatment and prevention, and a pittance for harm reduction. Canadian drug policy is guided by a 20-year-old national drug strategy that has been widely criticized for lacking clear direction, targets, and measurable results.

 

 

UN Drug Office Blames Central American Crime and Violence on Drugs, Not Prohibition
Stop The Drug War
May 27th 2007

Central America's stability and development is being thwarted by crime and violence, much of it caused by the drug trade, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report released Wednesday . However, the report called for an intensification of the prohibitionist policies that helped create the problems in the first place, global and tunnel vision at the same time When a multi-billion dollar drug trafficking industry and the violence it generates is added to a witch's brew of social problems, including poverty, income disparity, gang violence, high homicide rates, easy access to firearms, weak political and social institutions, and widespread corruption, the weak Central American nations are under siege, the report warned.

"The warning signs are evident in this report -- gun-related crime, gang violence, kidnapping, the proliferation of private security companies," said UNODC executive director Antonio Maria Costa in a press release accompanying the report. "But these problems are in no way inherent to the region. They can be overcome."

Sandwiched between the coca and cocaine producing regions of South America and the insatiable market for cocaine in North America, Central America sees nearly 90% of cocaine headed north. While little of it falls off the truck -- Central American usage rates are low, according to UNODC -- violence and corruption associated with the black market drug trade take their toll.

"Where crime and corruption reign and drug money perverts the economy, the State no longer has a monopoly on the use of force and citizens no longer trust their leaders and public institutions," Mr. Costa said, underscoring that development is stunted where crime and corruption thrive. "As a result, the social contract is in tatters and people take the law into their own hands."

Countries in the region and beyond need to work together to strengthen their criminal justice systems, and break the links between drugs, crime, and underdevelopment, the UNODC advised. "Cooperation is vital," Costa said. "The problems are too big, too inter-linked and too dangerous to be left to individual states."

But rather than revising the global drug prohibition regime that generates the huge black market flows of cash, drugs, and guns at the root of many of Central America's problems, Costa and the UNODC simply call for more of the same. "We have a shared responsibility and common interest in helping the countries of Central America to withstand external pressures and to strengthen their internal resistance to the damaging effects of drugs and crime," Costa said. "Let us unlock the potential of this region."

If Costa and the UNODC suffer from tunnel vision when it comes to drug prohibition, at least they displayed a nuanced understanding of the youth gangs or "maras" that are so quickly demonized in the press. "Heavy-handed crackdowns on gangs alone will not resolve the underlying problem. Indeed, it may exacerbate them," Costa noted. "Gang culture is a symptom of a deeper social malaise that cannot be solved by putting all disaffected street kids behind bars. The future of Central America depends on seeing youth as an asset rather than a liability."

 

'Psychosis, declining mental health and serious illness'
Scotsman.com
May 24th 2007

We are in a period of great change - new government, new council, and when it comes to alcohol and drugs - new problems. Cocaine use is on the rise, crack cocaine has'confused' contact goldenseed on sales@goldenseed.co.uk finally arrived. Cannabis, ten times stronger than it used to be, is readily available on our streets. Heroin use continues to be an issue and poly drug use, particularly involving alcohol, is fast growing in popularity.
Psychosis, declining mental health and serious illness can be the price paid of these emerging trends. In the past our main threats came from the housing schemes, but now a potentially bigger problem is incubating in our pubs and clubs. A new generation of so-called recreational users are duped by the "showbiz image" of certain drugs and sleepwalking into disaster.
At the moment, around half of the new clients entering into the city's substance misuse services have a child or family protection element to their case. These cases are prioritised and take three times the resource or more than a non-child protection case. With services operating within a fixed capacity, this often means long waiting lists for non-priority cases. Although the upside is more intervention and help to a critically important group, the downside is that with a fixed resource, something else has got to give.

Council and health board budgets are stretched tight and I doubt there is any spare cash. Even if there was, there are a host of competing priorities for funds. We cannot buy our way out of this problem or ignore it, rather we must manage our way through, continuing to prioritise and take hard decisions. Our young people, children and the unborn must remain top of our list, but we must work hard at streamlining systems, harmonising our enforcement, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention efforts and intervening as early as possible to get the best results. Here in Edinburgh we will shortly be launching the first comprehensive, web-based single shared assessment in Scotland. It will allow all professionals to share and contribute information on individual cases. It's been a long time coming but should be a useful tool in managing drug treatment and services, Full Decline....

 

"Nobody ever came home stoned and beat up their wife,"
Bbc.co.uk
May 19th 2007

Singer George Michael has said the world would be an "easier place to live with" if cannabis was legal. Speaking to ITV chat show host Michael Parkinson, the star said he was not "advocating" the drug for everyone. "Nobody ever came home stoned and beat up their wife," the 43-year-old former Wham! singer said. Earlier this month he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs after he was found slumped over the wheel of his car in a London street. 'Self-destructive' He blamed his behaviour on the death of his mother, Lesley, in 1997.
"I know I have a very self-destructive tendency since my mother died, I have got to be honest. That has kind of made itself clear in other ways," he said. During the interview he also revealed he was addicted to prescription drugs. Despite the star awaiting sentencing at the end of the month, he claims he did nothing wrong. It's like my dream come true George Michael on playing the first Wembley Stadium gig
"Ultimately I didn't break the law. I did something stupid, and doing something irresponsible is not a position that I am normally used to defending myself in," he said. Michael, who began his European tour in Denmark on Friday, will become the first artist to play the new Wembley Stadium next month. He revealed that he approached Wembley bosses asking if he could play the first show, and told Parkinson: "It's like my dream come true." The interview will be broadcast on ITV1 at 2230 BST on Sunday.

 

'the mums and dads of Australia expect us to take firm action'
Abc.net.au
May 16th 2007

The Federal I think the mums and dads of Australia expect us to take firm action,Government will consider banning the importation of cannabis-related equipment. At a meeting in Adelaide of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, the Federal Minister responsible for drugs, alcohol and tobacco, Christopher Pyne, said that the issue of regulating the advertising and sale of equipment used to smoke cannabis will also be considered. Mr Pyne says the fact that some of the equipment can also be used to smoke tobacco should not stop a crackdown. "Hiding behind the idea that some of these products might be used for legitimate practices flies in the face of common sense and I think the mums and dads of Australia expect us to take firm action," he said.
The New South Wales Health Minister, Reba Meagher, says the Federal Government's announcement is a diversion. "It's really designed to disguise the fact that they've refused to embrace the call from the states to require tobacco companies to release the list of products that go into making cigarettes," she said. The Ministerial Council has also agreed on a national ban on fruit-flavoured cigarettes and split-pack cigarettes.
The South Australian Government says it was the first to legislate against the sale of fruit-flavoured cigarettes and it's gained interstate support, which has pressured the Federal Government to implement a national ban.
South Australia's Minister for Substance Abuse Gail Gago says the flavoured cigarettes and packs that can be split in two have been aimed at the young.
"These are obviously marketing strategies that are particularly focussed at young people and are therefore particularly potentially damaging."


 

Vatican Registers First Drug Conviction
StopTheDrugWar.org
May 13th 2007

For the first time ever, a Vatican court has issued a drug conviction and it did so despite not having any drug laws on its books. According to Italian news reports cited by the Associated Press, the court imposed a suspended four-month sentence for cocaine possession on a former employee of the Holy See. The ex-employee was convicted of cocaine possession after cocaine was found in a drawer in the room where he worked. He had been fired because he had recently been convicted of other criminal offenses in Italian courts. While the Vatican legal code does not address illegal drug use or possession, the creative minds on the Vatican tribunal relied on the international anti-drug conventions to which it is a signatory. In addition, they cited a 1929 law which allows verdicts in cases not covered specifically by its laws but which involve injury to “health, morality and religion."Now there is probably no political entity on earth that can stand proudly and say it never persecuted anyone for his choice of substances.

 

Drug test kits for Milan parents
Bbc.co.uk
May 10th 2007

Milan's local council has given 4,000 families free doping kits to test their children for drugs. The kits have been handed to parents of children aged between 13 and 16 as part of a new initiative to tackle a rise in drug use among young Italians. A 2002 study in Milan's home region of Lombardy found nearly half of all teenagers had experimented with drugs. The kit will show up a trace of cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine or opiates in a urine sample. Letters offering free drug test kits will be arriving in letterboxes over the course of the next few days. Rise in cocaine:
The offer is aimed at parents of 13- to 16-year-old children, the group considered most at risk in Italy from a worrying rise in cocaine use. The drugs kit idea is that of the right-wing National Alliance party. Their representative, local Health Minister Carla De Albertis, said she recently tested her children and now she wants to give other parents the same opportunity. "I want to return the family to its role - I mean education, prevention, control," she said. "We want the families to speak with their children about drugs. I'm not turning parents into policemen. It's a free opportunity, the family should know."
According to recent figures from the interior ministry, cocaine use in Italy has almost doubled since 1995, with average prices falling as low as 30 euros a gram in some cities. Preserving trust: It is no longer the drug of the wealthy elite with students and teenagers are becoming habitual users. Some mothers said they were concerned about drug use and would take up the offer of a free testing kit. "Cannabis is everywhere these days," said Rosella Brimbola, a mother of two. "But if I went searching through my daughter's letters or through her personal things then I'd lose her trust. This is a test we can do together and if there is a problem then we can resolve it together." But there has been some harsh criticism from politicians on the centre-left. Local councillor Marilena Adamo said getting parents to spy on their children is not the answer. But the National Alliance are encouraging councillors to try the test for themselves. So far, it has only been offered to parents in one area of the city, but if it is successful and can be funded, the party say they would like to extend this programme across the city.

 

 

'60 Reasons to dump Harper'
Xtra.ca
May 3rd 2007

Soccer moms are softening on Harper. That doesn't mean he's not making SoCon ideological moves. He's just doing it quietly.
Why were we so afraid of a Harper government? Legislation dictated by religious ideology? War on the homos? Slashes to social programming? A US-style prison system? Just 15 months into his mandate, and in a delicate minority Parliament, he's doing all those things — and more. Harper and his cabinet have been slowly — quietly — changing the way Canada is run. But many changes don't get headlines, because they don't require legislation to pass through Parliament. That's because government policies can be changed directly from the Prime Minister's Office — and policies affect the kind of Canada we live in much more than legislation does. That Canadians haven't noticed — or else are willfully blind — proves it really has been a con job. Starting on April fool's day (not an accident) and for the next two months, xtra.ca brings you a countdown of 60 of the ways Harper is reshaping Canada in his own image. It is in the context of AIDS that our community is most familiar with medical marijuana. Research has shown pot's effectiveness in relieving the nausea associated with multi-drug therapies and in slowing late-stage wasting syndrome. Others smoke up to shake drug side effects like insomnia and headaches. There aren't a ton of studies on medical marijuana. Therefore, Canada's $4 million Medical Marijuana Research Program, modest as it was, was an important part of the global study of cannabis's potential to alleviate some of the suffering associated with illness, in particular AIDS and cancer.
That is, until Harper killed the program in October 2006, part of dozens of tiny ideological incisions resulting in a $1 billion claw back. More on that later, More Reasons....

 

'skunk works'
Out-law.com
May 1st 2007

Defence company Lockheed Martin Corporation has lost its attempt to gain control of a web addressthe official logo.... currently hosting a site devoted to cannabis paraphernalia. The ruling on the .co.uk domain was an appeal from an earlier ruling.
The case was heard by one panellist under the dispute resolution process of Nominet, the registry for .uk domains. Lockheed Martin lost and appealed, but has now failed in its appeal before a three person panel.

The domain ukskunkworks.co.uk is owned by UKSkunkworks Ltd, a company which sells cannabis seeds and smoking paraphernalia related to cannabis. Skunk is a slang term for a particularly strong strain of cannabis.
Lockheed Martin tried to gain control of the domain because it has in times of war operated a secret laboratory developing new products which it called Skunk Works. It owns several UK and Community trade marks related to the term.

Lockeed Martin claimed in its case that UKSkunkworks registered the domain in order to disrupt its business, and that it was a blocking tactic. It said that the registration would cause consumer confusion.
The panel found that such claims were unlikely, since the term 'skunk works' was not a well known one in the UK, and certainly not one immediately associated with Lockheed Martin. "The Complainant [Lockheed Martin]'s arguments rely heavily on the fame of its use of the name ‘skunk works’, attested by a collection of articles from magazines. Underlying these three contentions there appears to be an assumption by the Complainant that this fame is such that anyone seeing the name must have prior awareness of Lockheed Martin's use," said the panel in its ruling. "The Panel’s view is that at least in the United Kingdom, there is no such general awareness."
"The Respondent says that he had never heard of the Complainant or its subsidiaries before being contacted about the Name," it said. "Furthermore, the general lack of awareness in the UK of the Complainant’s use of the name means that users of the Respondent’s website would be highly unlikely to associate it in any way with the Complainant." Full Tale.........

 


'paranoia, hallucinations, delusions'
Dailymail.co.uk
May 1st 2007

Just half a joint'paranoia, hallucinations, delusions' of cannabis can trigger symptoms similar to schizophrenia, psychiatrists have warned. Research shows that even small amounts of the drug can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, delusions and other effects more commonly associated with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Although the symptoms were transient, the study, carried out on healthy men and women, will add fuel to the growing concern about the drug's devastating effects on the brain, body and society.
Given small amounts of THC - the chemical responsible for the "high of cannabis" - half of those taking part in the study developed schizophrenia-like symptoms.
When the strength of the drug was increased from a level between half and one and a half joints to the amount likely to be found in two joints, 60 per cent suffered symptoms usually seen in mental illness. Schizophrenics appeared even more vulnerable to the drug, despite their illness being controlled with medicine. Researcher Dr Deepak D'Souza (CORR), of Yale University School of Medicine in the US, said:
"We had a subject who refused to answer any of the questions we asked her because she was convinced that my staff could read her mind, so she didn't need to answer the questions. "We had another subject who refused to continue with any of the tests because she thought we were trying to make her look stupid." His research, to be presented at a London conference on cannabis and mental health this week, comes as a British study shows for the first time how cannabis may trigger paranoia, Full Paranoia.....

 

Mexico's Opposition Calls for Drug Legalization : Starting with the US
StopthedrugWar.org
April 30th 2007

 

With the death toll from drug prohibition-related violence in Mexico at around 600 so far this year, the country appears to be on a path to match or exceed the 2,000 drug war deaths reported last year. While military operations authorized by incoming President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) have led to arrests and drug seizures, they appear to have had no substantive impact on the multi-billionJavier González Garza Now, as the nation ponders a fundamental reform of the government itself... dollar a year business of supplying Americans with the illegal drugs they demand.

Javier González Garza Now, as the nation ponders a fundamental reform of the government itself, the leading opposition party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is calling for a National Agreement to Combat Organized Crime (read: the drug trade), which would include discussion of legalizing drugs.

The first rumblings came in the middle of last week, when Javier González Garza, the PRD's legislative coordinator in the Assembly, called for an end to the drug war. The endless war against the so-called drug cartels is fruitless, he said in an interview posted on the party web site .

"I believe that we cannot continue with this affair thinking we are going to combat the problem of the drug traffic without more radical measures," said González Garza. "One of these has to be the legalization of drugs in the United States. Then, we could begin to change things. Those military operations during this presidency, it's obvious that they are not obtaining results. I think that the US is the largest market and because of that, there is where we can achieve an international accord where we can pass to the next level, to legalize the consumption of certain types of drugs, and then eliminate this type of thing that is happening. That's one part," he said. René Arce Islas "The other part has to do with being able to think of other actions," González Garza continued. "This war, as it is now conceived, will cause us to lose everything; it doesn't make any sense. There have to be changes in that."

Then, last Friday, PRD Sen. René Arce Islas, secretary of the Senate's Public Security Commission, proposed the " National Agreement to Combat Organized Crime ," including drug legalization. Ending drug prohibition is controversial, but reasonable, said Arce. "Evidently, that is a radical action that generates much controversy, but if we analyze it with maturity and serenity, evaluating the pros and cons, the risks and potential benefits, you cannot discard being able to arrive at an agreement that would, from our point of view and many specialists, do away with the drug traffic and the delinquency that accompanies it."

The PRD and its allies control 157 seats in the 500-seat Assembly, while the PAN controls 206, and the party of the former "perfect dictatorship," which ruled Mexico for seven decades, the PRI, is reduced to third place with 106 seats. In the last legislative session, a bill that would have decriminalized drug possession in Mexico was on the verge of passage when pressure from the United States caused then President Vicente Fox to back away. Will another year's worth of drug prohibition-related horrors lead to a different result this time around?

 

 

Cops admit planting marijuana to cover murder of 92-year-old woman
Marijuana Policy Project
April 28th 2007



Yesterday, the Atlanta police provided even more horrifying evidence that the government's war on drugs continues to be a disastrous failure.

The case involves one of the latest casualties of war: 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston of Atlanta, whose November 21 death was the result of a botched "no knock" drug raid on her home. Visit http://www.mpp.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1425757&ct=3290937 to read her story.

A search warrant92-year-old Kathryn Johnston of Atlanta, whose November 21 death was the result of a botched stating crack cocaine was being sold in her apartment allowed the officers to cut through the burglar bars protecting Johnston's home and burst through her door without identifying themselves.

Johnston, who lived alone, apparently mistook the plainclothes officers for intruders and fired on them with an old revolver her niece had given Johnston for protection in her notoriously dangerous neighborhood.

She didn't hit any of the officers. The police responded, firing 39 shots, killing Johnston and apparently wounding three of their own.

After her death and a fruitless search of her home, the officers planted marijuana to justify the raid.

An excerpt from an Associated Press article reveals the despicable depths to which the officers sank before, during, and after the raid:

"The deadly drug raid had been set up after narcotics officers said an informant had claimed there was cocaine in the home.

"When the plainclothes officers burst in without notice, police said, Johnston fired at them, and they fired back.

"Assistant U.S. Attorney Yonette Sam-Buchanan said Thursday that although the officers found no drugs in Johnston's home, Smith planted three bags of marijuana in the home as part of a cover story.

"The case raised serious questions about no-knock warrants and whether the officers followed proper procedures.

"Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington asked the FBI to lead a multi-agency probe. He also announced policy changes to require the department to drug-test its nearly 1,800 officers and require top supervisors to sign off on narcotics operations and no-knock warrants.

"To get the warrant, officers told a magistrate judge that an undercover informant had told them Johnston's home had surveillance cameras monitored carefully by a drug dealer named Sam.

"After the shooting, a man claiming to be the informant told a television station that he had never purchased drugs there, leading Pennington to admit he was uncertain whether the suspected drug dealer actually existed."

Visit http://www.mpp.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1847069&ct=3829713 to read the entire article and http://www.mpp.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=glKZLeMQIsG&b=1847069&ct=3829795 for another article about this atrocity.

While this story is outrageous, it isn't unique. In the bottom-right corner of the front page of MPP's Web site (at http://www.mpp.org ), you can read a whole series of stories about other drug-war victims.

Please help us continue our work to end marijuana prohibition -- and the frightening police abuses that it encourages -- by making a financial contribution at http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?ID=M7261808016723367945209565&af=y today. We cannot keep up the fight without the generosity of people like you.

Thank you. I'm grateful for anything you can give.

Sincerely,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2007. This means that your donation today at http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?ID=M7261808216723367945209565&af=y will be doubled.

 

Houston drug reformer Dean Becker's Drug Truth Network

Houston drug reformer Dean Becker's Drug Truth Network is expanding its reach to encompass the popular video-posting and -viewing web site YouTube. The Drug Truth Network already gets its pro-reform message out via a web site, Internet radio, several dozen broadcast radio stations, and podcasts.

As of Tuesday, Drug Truth has a six-minute video on YouTube featuring Tommy Chong, among others. That video is designed to entice viewers to visit an hour-long video from a panel discussion including a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) member, Marcia Baker of Phoenix House, and Becker himself, representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition .

Becker's Drug Truth Network also includes the Cultural Baggage radio program and the 4:20 Drug War News. Check 'em out!

 

 

LSD as Therapy? Write about It, Get Barred from US
Linda Solomon
Thetyee.ca

April 24th 2007

BC psychotherapist denied entry after border guard googled his work. Andrew Feldmar, a well-known Vancouver psychotherapist, rolled up to the Blaine border crossing lastAndrew Feldmar, a well-known Vancouver psychotherapist... summer as he had hundreds of times in his career. At 66, his gray hair, neat beard, and rimless glasses give him the look of a seasoned intellectual. He handed his passport to the U.S. border guard and relaxed, thinking he would soon be with an old friend in Seattle. The border guard turned to his computer and googled "Andrew Feldmar." The psychotherapist's world was about to turn upside down.
Born in Hungary to Jewish parents as the Nazis were rising to power, Feldmar was hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust when he was three years old, after his parents were condemned to Auschwitz. Miraculously, his parents both returned alive and in 1945 Hungary was liberated by the Russian army. Feldmar escaped from communist Hungary in 1956 when he was 16 and immigrated to Canada. He has been married to Meredith Feldmar, an artist, for 37 years, and they live in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood. They have two children, Soma, 33, who lives in Denver, and Marcel, 36, a resident of L.A. Highly respected in his field, Feldmar has been travelling to the U.S. for work and to see his family five or six times a year. He has worked for the UN, in Sarajevo and in Minsk with Chernobyl victims.

The Blaine border guard explained that Feldmar had been pulled out of the line as part of a random search. He seemed friendly, even as he took away Feldmar's passport and car keys. While the contents of his car were being searched, Feldmar and the officer talked. He asked Feldmar what profession he was in.
When Feldmar said he was psychologist, the official typed his name into his Internet search engine. Before long the customs guard was engrossed in an article Feldmar had published in the spring 2001 issue of the journal Janus Head. The article concerned an acid trip Feldmar had taken in London, Ontario, and another in London, England, almost forty years ago. It also alluded to the fact that he had used hallucinogenics as a "path" to understanding self and that in certain cases, he reflected, it could "be preferable to psychiatry." Everything seemed to collapse around him, as a quiet day crossing the border began to turn into a nightmare, Full Nightmare...

 

Ignorance Leading to Suffering, Injustice and Death
David Borden
StopTheDrugWar

April 21st 2007

When discussing the idea of drug legalization with those who are unfamiliar with the issue, I am commonly asked, "Wouldn't more people use drugs if they were legal?" or "Wouldn't all the problems increase if drugs were legal?" David Borden The reactionDavid Borden is a simplistic one. It's possible -- not a given -- that drug use will increase after prohibition is ended. But that's the bare beginning of the analysis, not the conclusion of it. Whatever happens to drug use rates, the many devastating harms rising from prohibition will end -- the violence and public disorder of the illegal drug trade, the poisonings and the overdoses from uncertain purity, the desperate straits of addicts who can't afford high street prices, just to name a few. Richard Dennis, a famed financial trader who was an early major supporter of this movement, wrote that addiction rates could double with legalization but the total harm still decrease. I don't know what the math is or if there is any good math on the subject. But even if we knew what would happen with drug use rates or drug addiction rates -- which we don't -- to make that the only measure of the policy, much less the primary one, does not do justice to the complexity or the importance of drug policy.

My prediction is that experimental or casual use of certain drugs would increase, but would mostly involve lower potency forms of the drugs than are widely available now, and would be counter-balanced by decreased use of other currently legal drugs like alcohol (the "substitution" effect). But that's just a guess, albeit an educated one.

Brian Bennett, publisher of the "truth: the Anti-drugwar" web site, featuring extensive compilations and charting of drug war data , pointed out in an e-mail this morning that in 1979, the year when drug use is said to have peaked, there were 7,101 recorded deaths from all illegal drugs combined. In 2004, the latest year for which data is available (and for which Bennett just uploaded a presentation), the total was up to 30,711, more than four times as many. Clearly, there's a lot more to things than mere usage rates, Full Ignorance.....

 

 

Dutch and Belgian in new diplomatic row over 'coffeeshops'
Eux.tv
April 20th 2007

MAASTRICHT, A bitter diplomatic row has broken out between the prime ministers of Belgium and the Netherlands over the location of Dutch shops that sell cannabis drugs Barneys cafe....Amsterdam..within walking distance from Belgium, it emerged on Thursday. Belgium also wants the problem now to be discussed at a ministerial level in the European Union.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has written to his Dutch colleague Jan-Peter Balkenende to tell him that "under no condition" he will accept that Dutch so-called 'coffeeshops' will be relocated to locations close to the Belgian border. The relocations are the result of a decision taken by the city council in Maastricht, who wants to force the coffeeshops out of the city centre.
A spokesman for the Maastricht city council told EUX.TV that Verhofstadt's angry letter should also be seen in the light of the upcoming national elections in Belgium in June. He pointed out that the mayor of the nearby Belgian town is of the same, liberal VLD party as Verhofstadt. Maastricht hosts 16 'coffeeshops'. It has decided to move seven of them to the outskirts of the city. Some of them would thus be located closer to the Belgian towns of Lanaken and Riemst.
To protest, Verhofstadt has written an angry letter to the Dutch prime minister, the Belgian paper Het Belang van Limburg reported on Friday. Verhofstadt says the decision to move the coffeeshops clashes with the Dutch government's coalition agreement, in which it is stated that coffeeshops are not allowed to open up near schools and near borders. Verhofstadt also says that the EU member states that have signed up to the Schengen agreement, which includes the Netherlands and Belgium, have committed themselves to conducting a drugs-policy that will not adversely affect neighbouring countries, Full Row...

 

'human trials of an experimental treatment for obesity derived from cannabis'
News2020.com
April 19th 2007

Britains GW Pharmaceuticals Plc said on Tuesday it planned to start human trials of an experimental treatment for obesity derived from cannabis. Cannabis is commonly associated with stimulating hunger and several other companies, like Sanofi-Aventis with Acomplia, are working on new drugs that try to switch off the brain circuits that make people hungry whem they smoke it. GW Pharma, however, says it had derived a treatment from cannabis itself that could help suppress hunger. The cannabis plant has 70 different cannabinoids in it and each has a different affect on the body, GW Managing Director Justin Gover told Reuters. Some can stimulate your appetite, and some in the same plant can suppress your appetite. It is amazing both scientifically and commercially, he said in a telephone interview. GW said it planned to start clinical trials of the new drug in the second half of this year. Medicines have to pass three stages of tests in humans before being assessed by regulators in a process that takes many years. Sanofi-Aventis Acomplia, which it believes can achieve $3 billion in annual sales, is already on sale in Europe and it is waiting for a U.S. regulatory decision in April. Secret location: Several other big drug companies also already have similar products to Acomplia in clinical trials. GW is best known for developing Sativex, a treatment derived from cannabis that fights spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients. Sativex, an under-the-tongue spray, has been approved in Canada, but has hit delays with regulators in Britain.

 

 

"A damning report"
Prisonersvoice.blogspot.com
April 16th 2007

Up to one person in three arrested on suspicion of crimes in Britain is on hard drugs, the Government will be told this week. A damning report will blame heroin and cocaine addicts for high levels of offending, particularly shoplifting, as they steal to fund their habit. The report also finds that the Government's war on drugs - and hard drugs in particular - has had no impact on drug use in the UK, which has the highest level of drug addiction and the second highest level of drug-related deaths in Europe. The number of heroin addicts has risen from about 5,000 in 1975 to a present estimate of 281,000 in England alone. The cost to society of drug-related crime has spiralled to £13 billion a year.
The report, by two leading academics, used data from a previously unseen Home Office survey of 7,500 arrests, which shows that 18 per cent of those surveyed admitted taking heroin in the month before their arrest, while 15 per cent had taken crack cocaine. Some of the 46 per cent who took cannabis were also users of hard drugs.
A senior Scotland Yard officer described the latest figures as "a serious indicator of the connection between drugs and crime" and said that the real figures could be even higher. "It is vital that we get cocaine and heroin addicts into treatment and reduce the appalling harm caused by drug-related crime," he said. A Conservative Party spokesman said that the figures were "a shocking indictment of the Government's failure to tackle the country's drugs crisis".The paper's publication will mark the launch of the UK Drug Policy Commission. The commission will analyse the impact of existing drug laws and investigate whether radical solutions, such as providing addicts with free heroin on the NHS, could reduce the harm done by drugs. It will be headed by Dame Ruth Runciman, who chaired the inquiry in 2000 that led to the Government relaxing the law on cannabis. Alex Stevens, of the University of Kent, and Professor Peter Reuter, of the University of Maryland, concluded that some addicts commit high numbers of offences, most commonly shoplifting, to fund their drug use, Full Story....

 

 

New Mexico the 12th state in the Union to allow medical use of marijuana
News2020.com
April 16th 2007

Gov. Bill Richardson recently signed a bill that makes New Mexico the 12th state in the Union to allow medicalGov. Bill Richardson... use of marijuana. How Richardson and the state legislature got it right was by deciding that insteadGov. Bill Richardson... of just allowing the compassionate medical practice, it would get into the business of producing and distributing the herb, something Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have not quite come to grips with. In New Mexico, you will soon be able to go to your doctor who, if it's appropriate, will write a prescription for medicinal cannabis. The patient will then make a purchase through a state-regulated facility. No more argument about how many plants a medical marijuana patient may cultivate, no more arguments about the compassionate shops that sell cannabis even though they face the risk of federal drug agents raiding their legal stores, no more concern that those who use the drug are also cultivating it for sale. It's all neat, clean and tidy.

Now, before you get on a high horse about this, let's make it perfectly clear that this is a plea for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses. Legalization for recreational use is a different issue. This is about medicine.
Imagine that your doctor says you have a medical condition for which there is no cure, one that will slowly rob you of your quality of life - from impotence to immobility. The condition is guaranteed to result in unrelenting pain that will, in fact, grow worse.
You'll get Lortab, Demerol or Oxycontin for pain. You'll get Soma or Skelaxin to relax the muscles. Probably some Prozac, Lexapro or Zoloft to help with depression and some Xanax or Valium to relieve those moments of high anxiety.
Don't forget the Viagra or Cialis to maintain an intimate relationship with your partner, or other meds specific to your condition. And, you'll wind up addicted to one or more of these meds, guaranteed. Not so with cannabis, More....

 

 

For the DEA, it is a "drug of concern."
Stopthedrugwar.org
April 14th 2007

Middlebury, Vermont, this week declared a public health emergency to prevent a local business from selling it. It's already illegal in five states -- Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Delaware -- and a number of towns and cities across the country, and now politicians in at least seven other states have filed billsAs law enforcement and politicians stumble across it and the phenomenon of its recreational use, they are reacting in the classic fashion with moves to outlaw it.now thers a supprise... to make it illegal there. For the DEA, it is a "drug of concern." It is salvia divinorum , a member of the mint family from Mexico, where it has been used by Masatec curanderos (medicine men) for centuries. Within the past decade, awareness of its powerful hallucinogenic properties has begun to seep into the popular consciousness. Now, it is widely available at head shops and via the Internet, where it can be purchased in a smokeable form that produces almost instantaneous intoxication and a freight train of a trip lasting a handful of minutes.

As law enforcement and politicians stumble across it and the phenomenon of its recreational use, they are reacting in the classic fashion with moves to outlaw it. In Delaware, grieving parents of a teenager who committed suicide after using salvia managed to push a bill through the legislature. In Ohio, police who stumbled across it while investigating counterfeit goods raised the alarm, even though they had never had any problem with it. The cops responded predictably. "It's something we feel should be outlawed," Lorain County Drug Task Force Capt. Dennis Cavanaugh told the Cleveland Plain Dealer .But researchers say the while salvia's effects on consciousness may be disquieting, the plant has not been shown to be toxic to humans, that its effects are so potent is unlikely to be used repeatedly, and its active property, salvinorin A, could assist in the development of medicines for mood disorders. While action at the state level would unlikely affect research, a move by the DEA to put it on the controlled substances list could. Salvia is a popular item at the Urban Shaman Ethnobotanicals in downtown Vancouver, and media attention only spurs sales, according to proprietor Chris Bennett. "We're selling about 50 grams of the 10x every couple of weeks," he told Drug War Chronicle. "It's mainly young people -- although we don't sell to anyone under 18 -- but it's not limited to them. Whenever I get quoted in the media about salvia, I get a slew of new middle-aged customers who want to try it."

Once or twice is usually enough, said Bennett. "It's very powerful -- you can forget you even smoked it -- very intense, and the onset is very rapid," he explained. "There is also a lot of variation from person to person. Four people can be sitting in a room taking it, and one would be laughing, one would be afraid the world was ending, one would feel like he was two-dimensional, and one would say that everything seems to be made out of Legos. I hear a lot of people say that one."

Like many other purveyors of salvia, Urban Shaman provides an information sheet with each purchase.The woman in Question... "We tell people they should have a sitter. If you're on salvia and end up on the balcony, you might think you can get downstairs by jumping," said Bennett. "You want to have someone there with you; it's irresponsible to use it by yourself," he said. "We also recommend a quiet environment. The experience can be influenced by background noise, which can be distorted or misinterpreted. Setting is important."

There are hazards to messing with hallucinogens, one expert was quick to point out. "It's an hallucinogen and while its hallucinogenic actions are different from those induced by LSD and other hallucinogens, it has the liabilities that hallucinogens do," said Bryan Roth, a professor of pharmacology at University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, the man who isolated salvinorin A. "When people take it, they are disoriented. If you don't know where you are and you're driving a car, that would be a bad experience."

Still, said Roth, while it may make you freak out, it isn't going to kill you. "There is no evidence of any overt toxicity, there are no reports in the medical literature that anyone has died from it. The caveat is that there have been no formal studies done on humans, but the animal data suggests that it doesn't kill animals given massive doses, and that's usually -- but not always -- predictive for human pharmacology."

"I'm unaware of any studies suggesting that salvia is toxic," said Thomas Prisinzano, assistant professor of medicinal and natural products chemistry at the University of Iowa. "Unlike other hallucinogens, it acts by stimulating opioid receptors, and basically produces an hallucinogenic experience that peaks in less than 15 minutes. It produces a subpopulation that finds it very unpleasant and never wants to do it again."

Nor, because of its intense effects, are you likely to get strung out on it. "There doesn't appear to be much potential for dependence or addiction, although no one has investigated this in any detail," Roth said. "The typical person I talked to didn't like the experience; it is too intense for someone looking for a mini-LSD-like experience. It's very rapid in onset and very intense, so it's not normally considered a party drug."

Even Bennett, whose clientele could be expected to contain some serious psychedelic adventurers, confirmed that it is not a drug that most people come back to again and again. "Even those who are interested in it don't use it very often, maybe once a week to explore head space, but those salvianauts are few and far between," he reported. "Most people try it once or twice and have no desire to try it again. It is the ones who use it with a purpose or for a spiritual quest or vision that seem to find it most useful," he said.

"There is a subpopulation using it for spiritual rather than recreational purposes," agreed Roth. "That seems to be the cohort that is using it more than once or twice."

While the DEA did not return Chronicle calls for comment on the current status of salvia, it has moved slowly. It has classified the plant as a "drug of concern" for several years now, but has yet to act to place it under the Controlled Substances Act. The plant's limited potential dependence could be one reason. Another could be that it is still relatively rare and unlikely to ever develop into a drug with a mass following.

That's fine with the scientists, who could see regulating salvia, but not prohibiting it. "The distribution of salvia should be regulated," Roth said. "We regulate nicotine and alcohol, and the effects of those compounds on human consciousness and perception is quite modest compared with salvia. That this is available over the Internet to young children is a bit irresponsible. They could engage in some dangerous behavior while taking it. We don't sell alcohol over the Internet."

But while Roth called for salvia to be regulated, he didn't want to see it added to the list of drugs proscribed by the Controlled Substances Act. "I'm against making it a Schedule I compound," he said. "Once you schedule something, it makes scientific research more difficult, and there is considerable potential for derivatives of the active ingredient to have great medical utility. Scheduling it makes it more difficult for those of us trying to relieve human suffering."

If salvia were prohibited, his work would suffer, said Prisinzano. "This would hurt clinical researchers more than me, and there is an effort underway to do clinical trials on humans before a review board now," he said. "But it would make it more difficult for me to get leaves. Right now we get them from head shops on the Internet."

Perhaps legislators in states like Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Texas, where prohibition bills are on the table, should calmly reassess the scope of the salvia menace and place such legislation on the back burner where it belongs. Or replace them with reasonable regulatory measures. But that's probably asking too much.

 

"never seen that level of drug dealing"
Guardian.co.uk
April 13th 2007

The UK's biggest Rastafarian temple was turned into a major drug dealing centre where hundreds of peopleWe have had 600 people per day going to these premises on a regular basis believed to be for ... buying drugs went to buy cannabis and crack cocaine every day, detectives said yesterday. They spoke after leading a raid on the squat in south London which involved more than 100 armed officers using stun grenades. Inside, police said they found drugs and live ammunition.
Officers claim that people involved in "serious criminality" were in a struggle with Rastafarian elders to take control of the temple, four shabby Victorian townhouses in St Agnes Place, Kennington. Chief Superintendent Martin Bridger said he had "never seen that level of drug dealing" in his 30 years' experience.
"We have had 600 people per day going to these premises on a regular basis believed to be for ... buying drugs. Of the people that were stopped by police 80% had drugs with them." Mr Bridger said that 200 people had been arrested in the eight weeks before yesterday's operation, after which another 24 were taken into custody.
"I've never seen such activity or the sheer volume of people visiting these premises," he said. "There were people inside these premises who were controlling these activities. There were 32 rooms and these were split according to what drugs you were selling. You went to one room, you got cannabis, you went to another room, you got crack. Some of these people were people of particular violence and there was intelligence that they had the protection of firearms." Full Dealings.....

 

 

'smoking marijuana can be inspirational'
Celebsbox.com
April 11th 2007

Kirsten DunstCarl Sagan, the astronomer a genius.. believes the world would be a “better place” if more people smoked marijuana. The ‘Spider-Man’ actress has admitted she enjoys using cannabis and has branded America’s strict marijuana laws as “ridiculous”. Kirsten told Britain’s Live magazine: “I drink moderately, I’ve tried drugs. I do like weed. I have a different outlook on marijuana than America does. “I’ve never been a major smoker, but I think America’s view on weed is ridiculous. I mean - are you kidding me? If everyone smoked weed, the world would be a better place.” The actress insists she would never overindulge in drug taking, but says smoking marijuana can be inspirational.
She said: “I’m not talking about being stoned all day, though. I think if it’s not used properly, it can hamper your creativity and close you up inside. “My best friend Sasha’s dad was Carl Sagan, the astronomer. He was the biggest pot smoker in the world and he was a genius.”
Meanwhile, Kirsten’s romance with British rocker Johnny Borrell is reportedly over, after the Razorlight frontman decided to go return to his ex-lover. A source told Britain’s News of the World newspaper: “Johnny and Kirsten had a very passionate romance. They were completely blown away by each other at first. They spent all their time together. But now Johnny has realised she’s not the one for him. He dumped her at the weekend and has gone back to his old girlfriend.”

 

 

'are ordered to act as live in gardeners'
Yourlocalguardian
April 10th 2007

Police have blamed the sinister trade of human trafficking for the rapidly growing industry of cannabissix Vietnamese men arrested, and more than 2,500 cannabis plants confiscated farming as they try to drive drug cartels from the streets of Hounslow.
Vietnamese gangs are thought to be at the heart of trading, and police are worried that the wider issues of gang crime, murders and drug dealing could escalate despite numerous factories being closed down in the past few months.
In the last ten days alone, four houses have been closed, six Vietnamese men arrested, and more than 2,500 cannabis plants confiscated with a street value of around £100, 000.
Police Constable Steven Gilbert, from Hounslow Intelligence Unit, said: "The trafficking often involves illegal immigrants who have been smuggled into the country and then forced to work off their debt, and are ordered to act as live in gardeners' in the houses that are converted into cannabis factories.
"They drugs are cultivated using a series of timers that turn heat lamps and electrics on, so the main job of the gardeners' is to come in and water the plants. This means we have to time our raids right to catch them red handed - or green fingered."
Police are confident that the ring is tightening on the Vietnamese drug cartels trying to ply their trade in Hounslow borough after two more huge operations were shut down.
advertisement
PC Gilbert said: "One of our problems is that once the men know they've been rumbled they contact their superiors who move them to a different area, or they go underground, More Cultivation.....

 

 

Government experts warn that drug-assisted assaults are now a significant problem
Guardian.co.uk
April 3rd 2007

Ministers are toNew evidence on date rape prompts call for drugs ban consider banning two new "date rape" drugs, amid warnings from experts that the true scale of sexual assaults assisted by drugs may be greater than official figures suggest.
In a report, the government's drug advisers say substance use in rapes and sexual assaults is now a significant problem. Research concluded illicit drugs were a factor one in three assaults. Experts say that while alcohol is probably the most common "weapon", the fact that victims in drug cases are even less likely to go the police means the true picture is unclear.
The Home Office's advisory council on the misuse of drugs calls for the restriction of two substances which it says are being imported into Britain in increasing amounts from America, where they are illegal.
Known as GBL and 1,4-B, they are sold legally in this country as industrial solvents and cleaners, but when ingested have a similar effect to the known date rape drug GHB, banned here in 2003. The advisory council says low doses are associated with increased libido, euphoria, suggestibility, passivity, and amnesia - rendering victims vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
Sir Michael Rawlins, its chairman, said drug-facilitated sexual assault was a particularly severe offence which wrecked people's lives: "It is a significant but under-reported problem. Most drugs used in drug-facilitated sexual assault are already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but we are concerned that two drugs are not currently controlled and will consider whether they should be classified. We will advise the Home Office by the end of the year." Full Problem.....

 

 

There are 20 million drug users abroad in the land today.
Stop the Drug War.org
April 2nd 2007

We don't usually review books except when they're hot off the press, but we're making an exception with attorney Katya Komisaruk's "Beat the Heat." This is the best legal self defense book we've seen in some time and we think our readers need to know about it.It's not rocket science: Never talk to the police, she advises, and never consent to a search. You've got nothing to gain and plenty to lose. It's a sad commentary on our society that we need books that tell us how to protect ourselves from the police. But with the number of drug arrests each year climbing inexorably toward the two million mark, and with drug prohibition being, in our view, morally indefensible, those of us who use illicit substances (or have friends or loved ones that do) need all the protection we can get. This book will help drug users avoid arrest. I won't be shy: I think this is a good thing. Call it applying the principles of harm reduction to the US criminal justice system. While we acknowledge the possible harms drug users can incur to themselves or inflict upon others, we think the harms of being arrested, and quite possibly imprisoned, far exceed those of drug use. People who harm others can be punished under other kinds of laws than those that criminalize drugs. Anything that can throw some sand in the gears of the drug war machine is something to cheer.
"Beat the Heat" throws sand in the gears of the drug war machine. It does so by teaching its readers how to exercise their basic constitutional rights. That's another sad commentary in itself. We have a prohibitionist drug policy that relies on citizens knowingly or unknowingly waiving their rights in the face of intimidating uniformed men with guns. After all, it's not like drug use or sales is a crime where there is a complaining victim. Nor do drug users or sellers normally flaunt their contraband items. The only way many drug arrests are made is by people letting the police browbeat them into doing something stupid -- like admitting they smoke pot or allowing the police to search their vehicle when they know there are illicit items within.
Katya Komisaruk shows you how to exercise your rights in an easy-to-read, down-to-earth fashion, complete with illustrated scenarios where she shows you what you did wrong and what to do instead. It's not rocket science: Never talk to the police, she advises, and never consent to a search. You've got nothing to gain and plenty to lose.

The police aren't talking to you to make idle chit-chat. They are investigating, looking for possible crimes, and the more you open your mouth, the greater the chances of ending up in jail. In response to police requests to talk, Komisaruk recommends this phrase: "Am I free to go?"
If the answer is "yes," then go. If the answer is "no," you are already being detained or arrested. The correct answer to all further inquiries from police is: "I'm going to remain silent. I'd like to see a lawyer."
And when it comes to requests to search you, your home, or your vehicle, the answer is always: "I do not consent to a search."
These are basic constitutional rights, and it seems simple to exercise them. But police are experts in getting people to waive their rights. A valuable portion of "Beat the Heat" is devoted to explaining just how police get people to waive their rights -- intimidation, false friendliness, lies -- and how to avoid falling into those traps.

But "Beat the Heat" is much more than just how not to get busted. It's also a primer for those who have been arrested and are now facing the tender mercies of the criminal justice system. Komarisuk covers it all, from getting out on bail to working with your lawyer to what to do if all else has failed and you're headed for prison. There's also a chapter on how to witness and accurately report police misconduct, as well as chapters on the legal rights of minors and non-citizens. Don't get me wrong: "Beat the Heat" is not written as a book to help drug users stay out of jail. Nor is it a diatribe against the drug war. It merely teaches people how to protect themselves from unnecessary arrest by knowing their rights and how to effectively exercise them. And that makes it a book that helps drug users stay out of jail. I'm all for that.

There are 20 million drug users abroad in the land today. If you are one or know one, you need to get this book. Komisaruk will make it easy for you to understand what you need to do to protect yourself.

 

 

' four months in prison for distributing pot to sick and dying people'
Edmontonsun.com
March 30th 2007

Sometimes doing the right thing requires doing an illegal thing. That is the central truth behind Grant Krieger's life. On Tuesday, Canada's foremost medicinal marijuana minstrel was sentenced to four months in prison for distributing pot to sick and dying people.
But Alberta Provincial Court Judge William Pepler delayed the start of Krieger's sentence so corrections officials can make arrangements for Krieger to use marijuana in jail. The irony is immense. Judge Pepler's sentencing highlights that the law is a ass. Krieger is being punished for helping others get the medicine Judge Pepler recognizes as necessary and that is virtually unattainable except through illegal means.
As for Krieger, 52, he says as long as he has his medicine, bars on a jail cell are nothing compared to being trapped in a body that won't move and is racked with pain. That's his reality without his medicine. Krieger sweeps his hand around his rented duplex in a seedy part of Calgary and asks: "Does this look like the home of a successful drug trafficker to you?" Unlike most drug dealers -- with their expensive jewelry, fancy digs, fast cars, big screen televisions and high-tech security -- Krieger is broke, doesn't own a watch, has no car, no stereo, no TV and his security consists of three Labrador-mix dogs who wag their tails at all visitors, Full Imprisonment...

 

 

"long-term solution" to the problem.
Tottenhamjournal
March 29th 2007

2 moresuspected cannabis cafes.... suspected "cannabis cafes" have been raided by police following a successful swoop on a high-volume dealer a fortnight ago.
The two latest busts took place over the past week in West Green Road, South Tottenham - near to the previous location - and officers hope they have severely disrupted the trade in soft drugs in the area and gone some way to finding a "long-term solution" to the problem.
The suspected shops looked like everyday stores but allegedly sold cannabis on the side. In one of them - the West Green Road Pound Shop - police say bags of cannabis were found hidden among the stock, alongside a "substantial" amount of cash.
Two steel doors had been used to create a secure room at the back. A 30-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of possession with intent to supply. Drugs were recovered from the other address and cash was seized from people linked to both.
Sergeant Iain Williams, of Tottenham Green Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "I will not tolerate shops openly selling any kind of illegal drugs as part of their business. Any business premises that I discover to be involved in this type of activity can expect to be dealt with swiftly and endanger the lease on the shop."
Dick Muskett-Head, of Tottenham Green Neighbourhood management, said: "We are always happy to assist police to make the area a safer place and we look forward to supporting them with any further issues in the area." The owners of the properties have been told about the alleged illegal activity.

 

 

 

' forced to attend an education session about the drug'
Abc.net.au
March 26th 2007

Western Australia's Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, says he wants people caught with small amounts of cannabis toMr McGinty says he will not consider introducing criminal penalties be forced to attend an education session about the drug.
In 2003, the WA Government introduced new laws allowing people caught with up to 30 grams of marijuana or two cannabis plants to avoid criminal penalties and instead pay a fine or attend an education session. The State Opposition says the laws have failed to deter people from using the drug and has called on the Government to scrap them. Mr McGinty says he will not consider introducing criminal penalties for the offences and wants more focus on education. "At the moment, it's an option - you can either accept a fine or a suspension of your licence, or an education session," he said.
"I think we should be putting far more emphasis on educating young people as to the dangers of the drugs." He says reinstating criminal penalties would be counterproductive.
"I don't see any public benefit of giving a young person, who is experimenting with cannabis and gets caught, a criminal record for the rest of their life to compromise their ability to get a job, their ability to travel," he said. "I don't think that is a sensible way to go. "What we must do is to make young people aware of the dangers of cannabis." The state's cannabis laws will be reviewed this year.

 

 

'cocaine scandals'
Ghanaeye.com
March 23rd 2007

Cocaine scandals thatThe country’s law enforcement agencies have repeatedly raised concerns that narcotics rings were growing in size, strength, organization and capacity for violence. have bedeviled the country in recent times continue to carve a bad niche for Ghana’s corporate image in the eyes of the international community. Latest among series of reports is that of the United States Department of State 2007 International Narcotic Control Strategy Report (INCSR) on Ghana, which puts Ghana in the spotlight as a major transshipment point of illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. The nation’s premier Kotoka International Airport is captured as increasingly becoming a focus for traffickers. Also, the Tema and Takoradi ports as well as border posts at Aflao, Elubo and Sampa are tagged as areas that often record significant drug trafficking activities. According to a press release issued by the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of the United States of America, in the year 2006 for instance, South American cocaine trafficking rings were said to have increased their foothold in the country, establishing well-developed distribution networks run by criminals from neighbouring Nigeria and Ghanaians themselves. The report further quotes Ghana’s interest in attracting investment as providing a good cover for foreign drug barons to enter the country under the guise of doing legitimate business. “However South American traffickers reduced their need to visit Ghana in person by increasing reliance on local partners, thus further insulating themselves from possible arrest by local authorities”. Last year, a series of cocaine scandals rocked the country, including allegations of Police complicity in cocaine trafficking.

 

 

Event shows how to grow drug
Shropshirestar.co.uk
March 23rd 2007

A national exhibition with stalls selling marijuana seeds and explaining how to grow the drug is hoping to bring more than 10,000 people to Shropshire. The UK Hemp and Hydroponics Expo will be held at Telford International Centre in May. Weed World, a marijuana culture magazine which runs the event, does not advocate growing the drug but says it is safer done by private users than professional Vietnamese gangs who dominate the market. Among the exhibitors will be Patricia Tabram, aka Granny Pat, a 68-year-old Northumberland woman who campaigns for the drug to be legalised for medicinal use.
The event has been held for several years in Wembley and last time attracted 12,000 visitors but moved because of building work.Philip Kilv, Weed World’s director, said he hoped the event may run in the Midlands permanently after its first outing from May 5 to 7. He said it attracted exhibitors from across the world. It is divided into two exhibitions, which run simultaneously. The Hydroponics Expo is about the practice of growing plants quickly using only water and no soil. The Hemp Expo features products from T-shirts to smoothies made of the crop, as well as marijuana seeds, advice on growing and smoking equipment. Mr Kilv said the event would attract many conventional gardeners who use hydroponics as well as those interested in marijuana. However, he defended those who grow it privately as opposed to importing the drug, which is more likely to be dangerously treated, or buying it from farms which are run by criminal gangs. He said: “The major problem in the UK is imported weed that has been coated with silica and can make people ill. We don’t advocate growing at all but if people are going to grow we would much rather individuals do it for themselves.” Joanne Parton, from the international centre, said: “We are fully aware the public may have some concerns as to the exact nature of this event, but we are working extremely closely with the show organisers to ensure a safe, and trouble-free show.”

 

 

'cannabis so potent that just one puff can cause schizophrenia' WOW...
Icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk
March 22nd 2007

Cannabis so potent that just one puff can cause schizophrenia is being grown by Merseyside drug gangs.
Cannabis resin, usually smuggled in from Morocco, has been replaced by home-grown super skunk as the drug of choice for sale by criminal gangs on Merseyside. Experts warn this new strain of cannabis is so incredibly strong it can bring on the early signs of schizophrenia from a single puff.
Today Merseyside’s police chief has warned that organised gangs are moving into the production of the drug as a quick way of making cash.
Recent raids by the force include:
* A cannabis farm found in a house in New Brighton last Thursday.
* 1,000 cannabis plants in a £1m drug factory found by firefighters called to a blaze at Elmsfield Close, Gateacre, on March 8.
* A hi-tech cannabis factory with £200,000 worth of plants inside a semi-detached house at Jeffereys Crescent, Huyton in February.
* In January, 41 addresses in west Everton were targeted by officers who seized cash, a hydroponics system for growing cannabis, industrial fireworks and class A and B drugs.
Cultivated in houses rigged with professional heating, lighting and feeding equipment, the crushed cannabis leaves are thought to be up to 25 times more potent than that smoked in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Instead they have been replaced by a mental health timebomb waiting to explode. Merseyside’s chief constable, Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “Cannabis is not the harmless substance some people believe it to be. “This new super-strength cannabis is here on Merseyside and is creating problems now.
“The legacy of people taking this drug today could well be felt for generations to come.” According to the National Treatment Agency, an arm of the NHS, just under 3,500 people in the north west sought treatment for cannabis addiction last year. The number of under-18s treated nationally doubled to nearly 10,000 over the same period.
Research to be published this week in The Lancet is said to show skunk, which has high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is more addictive and socially dangerous than class A drugs such as LSD and ecstasy.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where the sufferer struggles to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses to others, and to behave normally in social situations.

 

 

The Transform Drug Policy Foundation out of the UK has posted an excellent response to the screed the UK Independent published this weekend . (See Has The UK Independent gone mad? )

The Independent on Sunday jumped on the skunk-panic band wagon this weekend with a brash tabloid headline: ‘Cannabis - An apology', above a figure of 10,000 in big red letters - which we are informed is the number of teenagers treated for ‘cannabis addiction' last year, apparently ten-fold higher than back in 1997. Inside, along with almost five pages of news coverage, there are opinion pieces by Rosie Boycott (the IOS editor who launched their cannabis legalisation campaign 10 years ago) psychiatrist Robin Murray, and a leader in which the they retract their support for Boycott's legalisation campaign - hence the front page headline.

They've totally missed the point.

1. The facts are all over the place. On the font cover Jonathan Owen informs us that skunk today ‘is 25 times stronger than the resin sold a decade ago'. In the main feature this has become ‘can be 25 times stronger'. A few paragraphs later we later that a cannabis joint ‘may contain 10 to 20 times more THC than the equivalent joint in the 1970's'. Rosie Boycott tells us a few pages later that it is 30 times stronger and Robin Murray that the traditional 2-3 percent THC of herbal cannabis in the 70's compares to 15-20% (occasionally as high as 30) in today's skunk. Who should we believe?

Actually they are all wrong. In the 70's, as with today, there was a range of cannabis products - herbal and resin - available on the market and they varied in strength from very weak to highly potent. Drugscope reported just last week that most of what was being sold as 'skunk' today is around 10% and that the stronger varieties were comparatively rare because they took longer to grow (increasing production costs) but commanded the same street price. So compare the ‘worst' weed from the 70s to the ‘best' today and you'll get your scary ‘25 time stronger' headline. In reality however the average ‘weed' from the 70's was probably more like a third to a half the strength of most of today's skunk.

But the true picture is more complicated than this. Skunk is by no means the entire UK market, A large proportion of which is still ‘old school' imported weed of the 3-4% variety and a larger proportion being low grade resin (soap bar etc.) also of low single figure % strength. The strongest stuff from ‘back in the day' was way stronger than the low grade resin still widely available today. It depends how you spin it.

So lets be clear - the idea that cannabis was weak and harmless in the old days, and has now morphed into an potent and a deadly threat today, is just not true. That is oversimplification and hype for sake of a juicy media or political soundbite. An almost identical misleading potency panic took place in the US in the late 1980's : ‘Now perceived as a hard drug, marijuana has increased 1,400 percent in potency since 1970' proclaimed the 1986 flyer for a US national marijuana conference.

Hydroponically grown herbal cannabis was also already widely available in 1997 , and whilst it is now unarguably more prevalent, the fact that it is mostly UK grown today rather than imported makes no difference to the consumer (if anything the home grown skunk is actually weaker than the equivalent product formerly imported from Holland).

The change in the market over the last ten years is nowhere near as dramatic as the IOS report seems to suggest, and can certainly not account for the 10 fold increase in ‘cannabis addiction' that they attribute to it. Indeed this is another extremely dubious statistic (not to mention the reckless and ill defined use of the term ‘cannabis addiction'). Not only does the change from 1000 teenagers being treated for ‘cannabis addiction' in 1997, to 10,000 last year all seem to deploy conveniently, almost suspiciously, rounded numbers - but as is acknowledged in the papers leader - this rise is significantly due to changes in service provision. Not only that, it is also due to the way cannabis related problems are diagnosed and counted. Of this 10,000 ‘cannabis addicts' how many are being treated primarily for mental health problems or misuse of other drugs but have also registered cannabis use (practically universal to both groups), or are in treatment as a result of the new and massively expanded arrest referral schemes? We are not told.

2. They fail to understand how drugs are used. The implication of the repeated ‘fact' that cannabis today is 10/15/20/25/30 (take your pick) times stronger than it used to be is that people are consuming an equivalent increase in the main active ingredient THC. This is also not the case. Robin Murray describes the comparison between the weed of old and new skunk as similar to comparing lager and whisky (Owen makes a similar comparison with shandy and brandy). But people don't drink whisky or brandy in pints. If a drug is stronger they consume less, weaker they will consume more - to achieve the desired level of intoxication. In the case of stronger cannabis users will put less in the joint, take less drags, inhale less deeply, smoke less joints and so on. This is called auto-titration and is exactly the same effect seen with low nicotine cigarettes which it was found users smoked more of, inhaled more deeply and so on. The effect was discussed regarding cannabis during the last potency panic in a 1988 paper in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs which concluded that:

“Observations of the real world of marijuana use, where autotitration is the norm, renders the scare tactics of the new marijuana proponents not only inaccurate but irrelevant. There is much published evidence about the availability of highly potent varieties of cannabis from the nineteenth century through the present day”

The idea that cannabis users, even teenagers, are incapable of making rational decisions about the dosage they consume is ridiculous, and they idea that they are getting 25 times more stoned than in the good old days is laughable. This is not to say that increased potency does not equate to any increase in risk, it does, but behaviours adapt surprisingly rapidly and hyping the potency panic or hyping the dangers associated with actual potency changes don't help us come up with rational public health responses that might actually help reduce overall harm.

3. We haven't suddenly ‘discovered' that cannabis is related to mental health problems. The IOS doesn't ‘REVEAL' anything new atall. You can look at text books and commission reports from the as far back as the 1920s that document symptoms from cannabis use that are actually remarkably similar to those we have today. They say that for most people the risks of occasional are low(certainly relative to most other commonly used recreational drugs) but that heavy use, particularly for a small sub-set of users with pre-existing mental health problems or certain other vulnerabilities there are real dangers of of exacerbating existing problems or precipitating new ones. These problems include psychotic episodes (occasionally recurring) schizophrenia and so on. These are the same conclusions that have been reached by inumerable studies and reviews over the last hundred years, most recently two undertaken by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which came before and after the drugs UK reclassification from B to C: For most people the risks are minimal, but for a few they are very real, particularly for certain vulnerable groups, and particularly when associated with high levels of use. Guess what? Drugs can be bad for you.

The research into cannabis has continued unabated and our understanding is getting increasingly sophisticated, even though many ambiguities about causal links between certain patterns and certain conditions remains ambiguous. The impression that there has been a sudden emergence of new knowledge is more a reflection of the unprecedented attention focused on the cannabis issue since the cannabis reclassification debate kicked off in 2001. Many opponents of the Government or the reclassification have sought to highlight emerging research in the media, often misrepresenting ambiguous conclusions as direct causal links.

Even if it's all true - what exactly is the IOS recommending? Ignore all other tedious witterings above for a moment and let's assume that cannabis really is 25 time stronger than 10 years ago and this really has led to a ten fold increase in teen cannabis addiction (whatever that might be). What does the IOS then recommend in its leader as a response to the policy disaster under which this skunk apocalypse has emerged?

Nothing: They say the the current policy is ‘about right'.

Do we get an exploration of policy alternatives or a consideration of progressive policy in other European countries where the problems are markedly smaller? No. Instead we are told that the ‘the fact possession of cannabis - and other drugs - is illegal acts as a important social deterrent'. You have to wonder what they have based this on. Could it be the massive rise in use of all illegal drugs since 1971? Could it be the the Police Foundation report of 2000 that concluded:

“such evidence as we have assembled about the current situation and the changes that have taken place in the last 30 years all point to the conclusion that the deterrent effect of the law has been very limited”

maybe it was the 2006 Science and Technology Select Committee that concluded:

“We have found no solid evidence to support the existence of a deterrent effect, despite the fact that it appears to underpin the Government's policy on classification”

Perhaps it was Professor David Nutt, Chairman of the ACMD Technical Committee when he said: “I think the evidence base for classification producing a deterrent is not strong”

Maybe it was the fact that when challenged by the Sci-Tech select committee the Government were unable to produce a single shred of evidence for such a deterrent effect, and have undertaken no research to establish one. I could go on, but needless to say The IOS has similarly failed to produce anything to back this claim up.

This all points towards to the biggest mistake the IOS makes in this whole sorry piece, which is to confuse their legitimate concern with the health impacts of cannabis misuse amongst a small group vulnerable young people with support for a failed idoeological and punitive policy of prohibition rather than an evidence-led regulatory response based on public health and harm reduction. They advoate a policy that has not only created many of the problems they describe (lets face it, hype), but also one that offers no prospect of sorting them out.

The IOS seem blind to the fact that the emergence of potent indoor cultivated cannabis is itself a manifestation of the illegal market they are now supporting. In a similar fashion to the prohibition-fuelled emergence of crack cocaine, stronger varieties of cannabis (whilst they have always been available) are more expensive and consequently more profitable for the increasing number of small to medium scale indoor growers.

The IOS, despite noting that: ‘the rhetoric of the ‘war on drugs' tended to distort priorities', then deems it appropriate to maintain the blanket criminalisation of millions of non-problematic occasional users, because of a relatively tiny population of vulnerable teenage heavy users who have problems with the drug. This is akin to banning cars because of a small population of teenage joyriders. It has no legal precedent or ethical basis, its inconsistent and makes no sense. They dont call for the mass criminalisation of alcohol because of growing teen drinking issues, so what are they doing?

The IOS also perpetuate the misunderstanding that the cause of cannabis legalisation is based on the fact that cannabis is harmless - arguably due in part to the mistaken approach of Rosie Boycott's initial campaign and its rather romanticised view of cannabis use as safe. No serious advocates for drug policy and law reform do so on the basis that any drug is safe (to her credit Boycott's opinion piecce reflects the increasing sophistication of her argument today). On the contrary - reformers argue on the basis that all drug use involve risks and that is precisely why they need to be appropriately regulated and controlled by the State so as to minimise the harms they cause. The IOS apparently wants the multi-billion pound drug markets to remain in the hands of criminal gangs and street dealers. That should help protect the kids.

Nowhere in the IOS coverage do they mention the fact that the authors of the key recent studies linking cannabis and mental health problems are advocates of legal regulation for precisely this reason (see Transform's ‘cannabis reclassification revisited' briefing for more detailed discussion and references on this point). Perhaps there wasn't room for this discussion because all the space had been taken up with noddy-science cross-sections of brains, and lists of unreferenced cherry-picked statistics.

Cannabis use is a real public health issue, and the growing culture of young people misusing it a real concern. Hyping the problem for the sake of good story, however, is totally helpful, and calling for more of the same when the current policy has been such a manifest failure is even less so.

Im sorry to say this IOS but this was a rubbish piece of journalism and a pathetically weak and ill thought out leader.

 

 

Cannabis: a retraction
Independent.co.uk
March 18th 2007

Yes, our front page today is calculated to grab your attention. We do not really believe that The Independent Rosie Boycott seems to have started a tradition of once liberal middle-class mothers blaming cannabis for their family problems ...on Sunday was wrong at the time, 10 years ago, when we called for cannabis to be decriminalised. As Rosie Boycott, who was the editor who ran the campaign, argues, the drug that she sought to decriminalise then was rather different from that which is available on the streets now.

Indeed, this newspaper's campaign was less avant-garde than it seemed. Only four years later, The Daily Telegraph went farther, calling for cannabis to be legalised for a trial period. We were leading a consensus, which even this Government - often guilty of gesture-authoritarianism - could not resist, downgrading cannabis from class B to class C.

At the same time, however, two things were happening. One was the shift towards more powerful forms of the drug, known as skunk. The other was the emerging evidence of the psychological harm caused to a minority of users, especially teenage boys and particularly associated with skunk.

We report today that the number of cannabis users on drug treatment programmes has risen 13-fold since our campaign was launched, and that nearly half of the 22,000 currently on such programmes are under the age of 18. Of course, part of the explanation for this increase is that the provision of treatment is better than it was 10 years ago. But there is no question, as Robin Murray, one of the leading experts in this field, argues on these pages, that cannabis use is associated with growing mental health problems.

Another campaign run - more recently - by this newspaper is to raise awareness of mental health issues and to press the Government to improve provision for those suffering from mental illnesses. The threat to mental health posed by cannabis has to take precedence over the liberal instinct that inspired Ms Boycott 10 years ago, Full Retraction....

 

 

 

Italian court rejects govt’s softer line on cannabis
Italymag.co.uk
March 17th 2007

An Italian court on argued that cannabis was a “gateway” drug for youngsters in particularThursday rejected a recent government decree doubling the amount of cannabis a person can carry without being arrested for dealing.
The regional administrative appeals court TAR ruled in favour of a consumer rights’ group and a drug rehabilitation centre which had contested the new norms lifting the legal amount of cannabis for personal use from 500 milligrams to 1 gram.
The TAR, which is often called on in legal tangles involving private citizens or companies and the state, said the November decree was “not supported by any technical evidence justifying the doubling of the parameter”. Health Minister Livia Turco, who drew up the decree with the help of the justice ministry, said the TAR sentence appeared “unfounded”. She said she would appeal to the Council of State, Italy’s top administrative court, to get it overturned. But consumer group Codacons, which was behind the TAR suit, expressed satisfaction. “It is without doubt the right decision given that the number of cannabis smokers doubled between 2001 and 2005,” it said.
The group stressed that 1 gram of cannabis was the equivalent of 40 joints and that this amount encouraged “a sort of involuntary dealing”.
It also argued that cannabis was a “gateway” drug for youngsters in particular, Full Rejection...

 

 

My grandpa used to love to talk about the greatness of America
Leisureguy.wordpress.com
March 16th 2007

My grandpa used to love to talk about the greatness of America, usually with a tear in his eye. Patriotism was strong in the Greatest Generation because they felt free and they were proud to have earned that feeling. That has changed. Back then the Angel Raich is a 41-year-old mother of two who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, wasting syndrome, and other documented medical conditions.US government only went to war with other nations. Today, most of the US government’s declared wars have been against its own citizens and few young people feel as patriotic as grandpa. It is tough to be proud of a government that wages war against its own dying citizens.
Angel Raich is a 41-year-old mother of two who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, wasting syndrome, and other documented medical conditions. She and her doctor had tried every prescription medicine that seemed promising but none had worked. When she tried medical cannabis and found that it provided some relief, Angel did everything she could to follow the letter of the law.
She only wanted to stop the pain. That made her an enemy of the state.
According to the DEA website, “DEA targets criminals engaged in cultivation and trafficking, not the sick and dying.” Yet the Department of Justice has fought this poor woman tooth-and-nail to prevent her from using the only thing that will allow her to live – a natural, medicinal herb that has been used safely longer than any FDA approved chemical, pill, powder or syrup. The DEA can claim that it does not target the sick and the dying, but it cannot shut up Angel Raich. They have underestimated this heroine, Angel could have gone quietly into the shadows and used her medicine in anonymity, but instead she chose to become a spearhead. Considering Raich’s medical condition, her stamina to fight has been inspiring and her tenacity has humbled many of us who have known the truth about prohibition for years but haven’t done a damn thing about it. “Today I found out I’m basically a dead man walking,” said Ms Raich. And she still won’t quit…Full Madness.....

 

 

'Coke ban'
Stuff.co.nz
March 16th 2007

La Paz:Companies such as Coca-Cola Co could be barred from using the word "coca" in their brand names Companies such as Coca-Cola Co could be barred from using the word "coca" in their brand names under a measure endorsed by a panel that is helping rewrite the Bolivian constitution.
The Coca Committee of the assembly that is overhauling the constitution has accepted a proposal by coca leaf farmers introducing language that bans foreign companies from "using the name of the sacred leaf in their products."
Coca is the main ingredient of cocaine, but Bolivians have used it for centuries as a mild stimulant that reduces hunger pangs and altitude sickness. Bolivian indigenous groups also use the leaves in religious ceremonies.
The bid to recognize coca as something inherently Bolivian is similar to measures that restrict the use of names such as champagne, tequila, feta and parmesan outside of certain regions.
Margarita Teran, head of the Coca Committee, told daily newspaper La Razon she was dismayed that Coca-Cola can sell soft drinks worldwide without restrictions while Bolivia is barred from exporting products made with coca, Full Ban....

 

 

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Please help DRCNet continue our own work of debunking drug war lies with a generous donation. If your donation is $32 or more, we'll send you a complimentary copy of Robinson and Scherlen's book to help you be able to debunk drug war lies too.
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Another Walter Reed Soldier Scandal: Cannabis for the Wounded
Counterpunch.org
March 13th 2007

Screaming conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that are deplorable...Chris Mathews and the corporate media would have us believe that it's only the living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that are deplorable, not the medical care itself. Donna Shalala and Bob Dole have been assigned to investigate the situation. A superficial clean-up will ensue -rodents poisoned, moldy drywall replaced- while the quality of care gets lauded and prosthetic limbs are presented as proof that all is state-of-the-art.

Out in California, however, doctors in the Society of Cannabis Clinicians question the care doled out at Walter Reed and other military hospitals where wounded soldiers and vets are treated with toxic medications* while the safest painkiller known to man is systematically withheld. "If anybody needs and deserves cannabis-based medicine, it's the thousands of soldiers who have been seriously wounded in Iraq," says Philip A. Denney, MD. "Cannabis would help in treating insomnia, pain, PTSD, and a whole array of symptoms that wounded vets typically face." "Physical pain, fatigue, and sleep deficit are symptoms that can be ameliorated. Restorative exercise and diet are requisite components of treatment of PTSD and depression. Cannabis does not leave the patient too immobile to exercise, as do some analgesics, sedatives biodiazapenes, etc. Regular aerobic exercise (where injury does not interfere) relieves tension and restores control through kinesthetic involvement. Exercise also internalizes the locus of control and diminishes drug-seeking to manage emotional response.

Tod Mikuriya, Md, who has monitored cannabis use by more than 8,500 patients, reports that approximately 8% had a primary diagnosis of PTSD. His findings and observations are confirmed by every doctor in the field. Many PTSD patients, according to Mikuriya, "are Vietnam veterans whose chronic depression, insomnia, and accompanying irritability cannot be relieved by conventional psychotherapeutics and is worsened by alcohol. For many of these veterans, chronic pain from old physical injury compounds problems with narcotic dependence and side effects of opioids.

"Cannabis relieves pain, enables sleep, normalizes gastrointestinal function and restores peristalsis. Fortified by improved digestion and adequate rest, the patient can resist being overwhelmed by triggering stimuli. There is no other psychotherapeutic drug with these synergistic and complementary effects, Full Story....

 

 

'symbolic of the ills of the Texas criminal justice system'
Dallasnews.com
March 11th 2007

Gov. Rick Perry granted a conditional pardon Friday to Tyrone Brown, a prisoner from Dallas whose extreme"I think he's done his time," said Bill Hathaway, whom Mr. Brown robbed of $2. "I have nothing against him." punishment has become symbolic of the ills of the Texas criminal justice system.
Mr. Brown – sentenced to life as a teenager 17 years ago after smoking marijuana while on probation – isn't getting the simple commutation recommended by Dallas County officials and the Texas parole board. Instead, he must report indefinitely to a parole officer and meet other conditions or risk going back to prison.
Tyrone Brown Harry Whittington, a confidant of two prior Republican governors, praised Mr. Perry for freeing the prisoner. He linked the situation to recent DNA exonerations in Dallas County and the state's burgeoning youth-prison abuse scandal.
"As Texans learn about these sickening cases," he said, "they will be demanding an overhaul of the system that allows such flagrant miscarriages of justice to occur." But Mr. Whittington, an Austin lawyer who previously served on the board overseeing the state's adult prisons, also sounded a somber note. "From my 27 years' experience in state government, I have learned that decency and morality are not very high priorities in administering criminal justice," he said. "There is not much respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life."
Judge Keith Dean initially put Mr. Brown on probation in 1990, when he took part in an armed robbery in which no one was hurt. One positive drug test led to the life term in prison. Full Justice....

 

 

'marijuana' its legal use, and 'enjoyment'
News2020.com
March 11th 2007

Two Dutch Left Green {GroenLinks} politicians'marijuana' its legal use, and 'enjoyment' have opened a web site to promote marijuana and its legal use and enjoyment. The Weed Map web site includes a search tool that locates all of Holland's coffee shops, as the country's marijuana bars are colloquially known. Coffee shop locations are marked with a pot leaf logo, moving one's mouse over which causes a window with the shop's street address to pop up.
Weed Map web site in use -- Green politicians David Rietveld and Koen Martens opened the web site because they want marijuana to be available to all "because smoking cannabis is pleasant," as the site says. "Smoking cannabis should simply be allowed. Always and everywhere. Because it is pleasant and in many respects better than alcohol, for example. Better for people's health and better for society."
But that isn't always the case, even in Holland, the site warns. "Some places do not offer the possibility of using cannabis. It is up to you to join us in charting these problem areas. Then we can urge councils to make sure coffee shops are within everybody's reach for once and for all."
The site was set up to parody the Weed Free anti-marijuana web site set up by the ruling Christian Democrats (CDA). "The CDA website states that cannabis use may be linked to psychological complaints," Rietveld told reporters over the weekend. "There is insufficient scientific evidence to support this, however."

 

2007 Afghan Opium Record Crop?
StoptheDrugWar
March 10th 2007

Already by far the world's leader in opium production, Afghanistan could set a new global record this year, thejalalabad-opium... United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime warned Monday. According to its assessment of winter planting trends, increases are expected in 15 provinces, mainly in the volatile south and east, decreases in seven provinces, no change in six provinces, and six provinces will produce no opium.
trader's opium, outside Jalalabad, Afghanistan, photo by Drug War Chronicle editor Phil Smith"The real increase is taking place in the provinces characterized by insurgency, and the problem there is not only a narcotic problem but an insurgency problem," Antonio Maria Costa, the director of the drugs and crime office, based in Vienna, said in Kabul Monday. "The southern provinces are a textbook case of lawlessness prevailing, and therefore everybody from farmers and labs, traffickers and warlords are trying to profit from the bonanza of the product." Last year was already a record crop, with Afghanistan harvesting more than 6,000 metric tons of opium, enough to produce more than 600 metric tons of heroin. Increased cultivation area, along with ample rain and snowfall this winter, should result in a bountiful harvest this year, the UN reported.
The report comes as US and NATO troops prepare for the spring fighting season against the Taliban in the south and east. According to all accounts, the Taliban is among those profiting nicely from the opium trade. But efforts to repress the trade to cut funding for the Taliban threaten to drive peasant farmers right into the guerrilla group's waiting arms. Still, the US and NATO follow a policy of eradicating the opium crop and substituting alternative development, a program that has not worked so far. They continue to reject an increasing clamor to try a different approach, including various proposals to license and market the crop through legitimate channels.
Costa also warned that more than $1 billion of opium from last year's bumper crop had not yet made it to market, with traders holding onto it in a bid for higher prices. "Is it in the insurgents' hands?" he asked. "It is not under the bed of the farmers," he said, adding, "It could become a serious problem down the road."

 

‘Drugs cause most users no harm’
Metro.co.uk
Friday 9th March 2007

Most people who take drugs cause no harm to themselves or others, a controversial new report has claimed. Weekend users who regularly take cannabis, cocaine orLiberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell urged ministers to heed the report. 'This is a wake-up call,' he added. ecstasy should be left alone by the police, a study by the Royal Society of Arts concluded. Britain's drug laws are 'driven by moral panic and are not fit for purpose', while the Misuse of Drugs Act to be replaced with a
'Substances Act', the RSA said. Its report added: 'The evidence suggests a majority of people who use drugs are able to use them without harming themselves or others. The harmless use of illegal drugs use is thus possible, indeed common.' The recommendation comes after a 14-member panel, which includes Scotland Yard's assistant commissioner John Yates, spent two years studying the issue.
They describe a drug-free Britain as an impossible dream and say policy should be about reducing harm rather than pursuing pushers. However, they say children still need to be warned about drugs dangers and call for education to begin earlier.
The panel also says shooting galleries should be set up for intravenous users. The damage caused by alcohol and tobacco should also be taken into account – because booze would appear in the top six most harmful substances if it was ranked alongside illegal drugs.
'Law-makers starting with a blank sheet would find themselves obliged to penalise a much wider range of offences related to alcohol and tobacco and to punish them much more severely,' the report adds. Panel chairman Prof Anthony King said he would try to persuade politicians to listen to the findings.
He added: 'In this country and the US, there has for a long time been a disposition to see things we call illegal drugs as peculiar habits and people who use them as violent and dangerous. 'That, as a generalisation, is clearly absurd. 'One of the things we hope will happen is the report will cool the debate and we can have a calm a rational discussion.' The findings were welcomed by drugs charities, while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell urged ministers to heed the report. 'This is a wake-up call,' he added.

 

Singer George Michael is to face an additional charge..
Inthenews.co.uk
March 8th 2007

Singer George MichaelGeorge Panayiotou.. is to face an additional charge following last year's arrest on suspicion of being unfit to drive and for possession of a substance believed to be cannabis. The former Wham! star was arrested on October 1st last year after police found him in a semi-conscious state in his Mercedes in north London. He was cautioned for possessing cannabis and later charged with being unfit to drive through drugs. At a hearing at Brent magistrates court in front of district judge Katherine Marshall today, prosecutor Andrew Torrington said the charge of being in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drugs was also to be added. The 43-year-old, whose real name is George Panayiotou, was not in court during today's hearing.
The charges relate to an incident last year when police were alerted after concerned members of the public reported a car causing an obstruction at traffic lights in Cricklewood.
Michael, who is famous for his solo hits Faith and Freedom among others, was this week named as the first singer to play a concert at the new Wembley Stadium in London.
The gig, taking place on June 9th, is part of Michael's British and European stadium tour and marks the end of a near seven-year project to the build the 90,000-capacity stadium, which has been marred by delays and spiralling costs.

 

AFGHANISTAN: Becoming a Narco State
Haider Rizvi
Ipsnews.net
March 8th 2007

UN - Although AFGHANISTAN: Becoming a Narco State, strange!!!fully backed by U.S. military might and support from other Western powers, the government in Kabul has failed to change Afghanistan's status as the world's leading illicit producer of opium, according to U.N. experts who monitor the worldwide trade in narcotic drugs.
Mixed with certain chemicals, opium is used to manufacture heroin, a powerful and highly addictive drug that remains popular with millions of users around the world despite years of international efforts to control illicit trafficking in narcotics.
"There is a need for drastic action in Afghanistan," Emafo told reporters, adding that unless the government takes swift measures to address the problem of corruption, there will be no progress in economic and social development.
"The illicit poppy (opium) cultivation in Afghanistan has not been contained but has instead reached a record high level," Dr. Philip Emafo told a news conference at U.N. headquarters to launch the International Narcotic Control Board's (INCB) annual report for 2006.
Describing the drug control situation in Afghanistan as "rapidly deteriorating", Emafo, who is president of the INCB, said despite local and international efforts, one-third of the Afghan economy remains dependent on the production of opium.
According to the report, in addition to the illicit cultivation, manufacture and export of narcotics, Afghanistan is also facing the problem of drug abuse at the domestic level. A recent nationwide survey found that there were at least one million drug addicts in the country, including 60,000 children under the age of 15., Full State.....

.: The Latest News from Stop the Drugs War


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