At this week's UN General Assembly Special Session on drug policy - scheduled after lobbying by Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia, whose leaders are calling for a more “humane solution” to the drugs problem that goes beyond a focus on enforcement and criminalization - Canada's Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that Canada will begin the process of legalizing and regulating marijuana in spring 2017.
As Heroin Use by Whites Soars, Parents Urge Gentler Drug War Noting that “junkies” is a word he would never use now, he said that these days, “they’re working right next to you and you don’t even know it. They’re in my daughter’s bedroom — they are my daughter.” [more inside]
In her quest for answers, Goldsmith came to a startling realization: Molly didn't kill her daughter. Federal policies that promote drug abolition and discourage education about safe drug use killed her daughter. "The way we deal with it has got to change because people are dying," said Goldsmith. "My heart says: if you're gonna try Molly, you better make sure you know what you're taking." - Vox: Banning club drugs hasn't made users safer, A grieving mom hopes her plan will [more inside]
Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.[more inside]
Sarah Stillman for the New Yorker on confidential informants and the ends they meet -- "Gaither was tortured, beaten with a bat, shot with a pistol and a shotgun, run over by a car, and dragged by a chain through the woods." [more inside]
It's Not Just NYC: Across America, Only Black and Brown People Get Arrested for Pot - "New York City (previously), the pot-bust capital of the Western world, is notorious for the racial skewing (previously) of its marijuana arrests. Over the last 15 years, more than 85 percent of the half-million-plus people charged with misdemeanor possession there have been black or Latino. But the racial ratios of reefer roundups are equally extreme—if not worse—in scores of other U.S. cities." Same (trailer) as it (PDF) ever was? (video)
With the election of Pena Nieto to the presidency, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ends a twelve-year absence from the seat. [more inside]
Rethinking the War on Drugs (WSJ video / not OpEd). A more nuanced view than typically found in the anti-drugs vs. legalize drugs ad nausea. Practical solutions being done today. [more inside]
In the summer of 2007 on the campaign trail Barack Obama took a clear stance on the controversial subject of medical marijuana. “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.” As President in 2009 he took action to follow through on this promise by instructing federal prosecutors to “not focus federal resources in [their] States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo cited the “efficient and rational use” of the U.S. Department of Justice’s “limited investigative and prosecutorial resources,” as a motivating factor in the decision." In the winter of 2012 Rolling Stone magazine takes a look back on this subject and the record is surprising. "With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst." [more inside]
"It begins with a freshly showered person riding naked for hours on a clean, washed horse inside a two-meter-high 'forest' of marijuana. Afterwards, the human body and that of the horse are covered with a thick layer of resin mixed with sweat. This produces a substance that is usually dark brown in color, which is then thoroughly scraped off the human and horse's bodies." The Chu (sometimes Chui or Chuy) valley produced much of the marijuana available in the Soviet Union, and continues its unique harvest to this day. Via The World on PRI (audio link). [more inside]
Contrary to the liberalism many read in a highly-publicized DOJ memo in 2009, federal authorities are cracking down on medical marijuana establishments that exist in the gray area between state and national statutes.
The Boston Globe displays some pretty spectacular pictures of the drug war in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There's not a whole ton of context available within the article, but the pictures speak for themselves.
Cocaine - how it's made, how it moves, and who might be cutting it with a deadly cattle-deworming drug, a follow up to the mystery of the tainted cocaine.
Mr. Llewellyn [ . . . ] boasts that his safety testing method is foolproof: He and several colleagues sit in a room and take a new product "almost to overdose levels" to see what happens. "We'll all sit with a pen and a pad, some good music on, and one person who's straight who's watching everything," he says. [more inside]
In May 1995, the American government's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made an attempt to disrupt the supply chain of methamphetamine precursors, such as pseudoephedrine, by shutting down two major suppliers of the precursors under authority granted by the Domestic Chemical Diversion Control Act. Was it successful? Only temporarily, according to new research by Carlos Dobkin and Nancy Nicosia. (via)
Under Pennsylvanian state law, it's illegal to sell containers if the store owner "knows or should reasonably know" that the buyer intends to use them to package drugs. A confidential informant entered a convenience store to buy tiny ziplock bags at about 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2007. After making the purchase the Philadelphia PD Narcotics Field Unit raided the store for selling drug paraphernalia destroying the store's security system in the process and allegedly stealing money, batteries, cigarettes and food among other items. He's not the first one to make this complaint either.
Poppy For Medicine. "America's drug war in Afghanistan has been a miserable failure. So why not legalize opium production and let Afghanistan become the Saudi Arabia of morphine?"
Is Afghanistan a Narco-State? "Drug-related corruption pervades the government in Afghanistan, a former U.S. counternarcotics official says."
American Drug War - The Last White Hope (in case you missed it on Showtime) Includes footage of and interviews with gang members, narcs, prisoners (like Tommy Chong), and other folks on the front lines of the drug war including Freeway Ricky Ross (infamous for starting the crack epidemic) and DEA Agent Celerino Castillo who both wound up working for the CIA. [more inside]
Stop Snitchin' may be the hidden link between hip hop and the 1980s alternative rock group, House of Freaks. According to the New York Post, journalist Ethan Brown has accomplished "making the Stop Snitching movement seem reasonable" in his new book Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice. Brown argues that harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses have created a "cottage industry of cooperators" and informants who fabricate evidence, because Provision 5K1.1 of federal sentencing guidelines gives leniency in exchange for "substantial assistance to authorities." According to Brown, two of these criminal cooperators included Ray Dandridge and Ricky Gray, the perpetrators of the Richmond spree murders that ended the life of Brian Harvey of House of Freaks, his wife, and his two children. On the other hand, Mark Kleiman argues that the Stop Snitchin' movement has driven homicide clearance rates so low that, in some cities, "you have a better than even chance of literally getting away with murder." [more inside]
Robin Prosser was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18th. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
Recognizing Pain Management as a Fundamental Human Right. These pieces from the journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society argue that under-treated chronic pain is becoming a public health crisis which must be addressed. But a warning to pain doctors in the U.S. who prescribe opioids in doses that seem high to narcotics agents and prosecutors: “Be afraid.” [Via Hit & Run and TalkLeft.]
Stories from Inside: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs (PDF). A new report by the human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape. [Via Drug WarRant.]
Many people want to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana and other drugs, however, few know that many U.S. states are content simply to tax. In fact, even the federal government wants a share (middle of p. 89 of the PDF), and used tax stamps in early prohibition, but only the states have recently issued issued cool stamps (be sure to click "exhibit"). The point, of course, is not to actually tax the drugs, but to penalize the drug dealers for tax evasion as well as drug sales. They have brought in some money, though. A few interesting state government pages: Conecticut, Nebraska, North Carolina and their tax return form, and Kansas.
The Drug War Goes to the Dogs. SWAT teams (usually the young ones) seem to commit a lot of puppycide. (Via The Agitator, who is also a MeFite.)
It's Just A Plant: a children's story of marijuana "One night Jackie woke up past her bedtime. She smelled something funny in the air, so she walked down the hall to her parents' bedroom." Here's a new way for parents to teach their kids about drugs--through a brightly-illustrated children's book, not second-hand misinformation or Drug Warrior scare tactics. Parents, librarians, and booksellers, please take note. [via D'Alliance, the blog of the Drug Policy Alliance]
The Drug War Clock. Its the 10th day of the new year. The US has spent 1 BILLION dollars on the drug war so far. 43,929 have been arrested, half of which for offenses related to cannibas and 6,587 people have been incarcerated. Happy New Year!
Tommy Chong in prison. 3 months into his 9 month prison sentence for selling bongs, the LA City Beat talks to Tommy Chong and the LA Weekly talks with his family about the details of his case. [Via Drug WarRant.]
Drug War Roundup V. "It's the most horrible mistake I've ever made," says a juror who helped convict Ed "Guru of Ganja" Rosenthal of marijuana production. The judge in Ed's case didn't consider him a flight risk, but may have after reading "The Drug War Refugees" (reg. req.), about Americans fleeing to Canada. The entire drug trade is approximately "the size of the Spanish economy and about 8 percent of world trade." And, of course, is responsible for hippo migration to Columbia.
Right. Let me get this straight. A security guard found a handbag unattended in a night club. He then searched the bag, supposedly looking for ID, and found a small packet containing a white powdery substance, which he handed over to the Central Narcotics Bureau. A woman, Ms. Low, later says the handbag belongs to her. The Judge notes that "There was no denial that this was her handbag. She claimed it was hers." Ms. Low's friend, after being offered immunity from prosecution, then says they both snorted cocaine earlier on in the evening. On the basis of the evidence presented, Ms. Low is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Drug War Roundup II. An Indian in South Dakota tried to grow hemp on the rez for the last two years. The DEA comes around harvest time with the weed whackers. He’s going to try again. A Colorado Supreme Court ruling issued Monday gives booksellers the toughest First Amendment rights in the country. The case started when Tattered Cover fliers were found at a meth lab. Also on Monday, the San Francisco appeals court heard a government lawyer argue that "there’s no way of knowing" if someone can get high eating foods containg hemp oil, like potato chips and soda. NORML is using a Mike Bloomberg quote about smoking marijuana, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it," in a campaign to legalize the weed, man.
Drug War roundup. The US will end drug-related sanctions against Afghanistan and Haiti. Neither country stopped producing drugs, they need loans sanctions stop them from receiving. A British journalist compares the drug policies of Holland to Britain. Noteworthy: despite heroin being half the price, there are 25% fewer Dutch addicts. The FARC and Columbia are openly warring again. So far, only civilians have been killed. The California Medical Association voted to lobby the state government to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.