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The Drug War's "Unacceptable Losses"

[This post comes courtesy of Ken Wolski, RN, MPA. He is the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey, www.cmmnj.org, ohamkrw@aol.com] "Unacceptable Losses" opened Friday, 1/12/07, at the Woodrow Wilson School's Bernstein Gallery on the Princeton University Campus. This photo-documentary by photgrapher and med student Arthur Robinson Williams examines U.S. drug policy and victims of it. At the exhibit, there are large color and black and white prints that accompany text of interviews that Mr. Williams conducted. The photos Mr. Williams took seemed designed to capture the essential humanity of the subject. (Some of this photographic detail is missing in the web site.) The web site is divided into sections on Treatment on Demand, Sentencing Reform, Syringe Access, Harm Reduction and Medical Marijuana. The stories are very compelling. Though the web site is still a work-in-progess, I highly recommend a look. I was reminded of CMM-NJ member Roberta M., when I read the story of the man with RSD whose pain was so severe he contemplated suicide until he tried marijuana. I consider the War on Drugs the worst policy this country imagined. It combines the worst features of Prohibition and the Vietnam War, in its domestic and foreign components. Lack of medical access to marijuana for legitimate patients is an atrocity in this war. I was one of the first people who was photographed and interviewed by Mr. Williams during his one-year project, though he eventually found more compelling stories for the exhibit and the website. Mr. Williams is looking for additional stories to tell, and he invites submissions via his web site. His web site states: "Although law enforcement is an integral part of the War on Drugs, it is unnecessarily taking resources from effective and complimentary public health strategies. Your stories will form the foundation for that argument." The "Unacceptable Losses" exhibit hopes to tour the country's major universities the way the photo-journalist toured the country collecting subjects for the exhibit. For more, see http://unacceptablelosses.org/.
Location: 
Princeton, NJ
United States

Ottawa's war on drugs a failure, report says

Location: 
Ottawa, ON
Canada
Publication/Source: 
CTV (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070115/drugs_strategy_070115/20070115?hub=Health

Drugs, Poverty and Ethnicity: Enhancing Treatment, Eliminating Disparities, and Promoting Justice

The day after Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday a new group, the Illinois Drug Policy Coalition in partnership with the National African American Drug Policy Coalition will officially launch a new broad-based advocacy group whose key objectives include: advocating for drug policies and laws that embrace the public heath nature of drug abuse; and to minimize the use of expensive criminal sanctions. Participants at the kick-off event include: the Honorable Danny K. Davis, the Honorable Senator Mattie Hunter, the Honorable Constance A. Howard, and the Honorable Judge Arthur Burnett, Sr. Continental breakfast will be served. Hope to see you at this event, John A. Fairman, Esq. Co-Chair: Drug Policy Coalition 10220 S. 76th Avenue, Room 223 Bridgeview, Illinois 60455 D 773-263-0582 O 708-974-6250 F 708-974-6223 E JohnFairman@sbcglobal.net
Date: 
Tue, 01/16/2007 - 9:00am - 11:00am
Location: 
430 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL
United States

Hemp: DEA Has Spent $175 Million Eradicating "Ditch Weed" Plants That Don't Get You High

In the past two decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has spent at least $175 million in direct spending and grants to the states to eradicate feral hemp plants, popularly known as "ditch weed." The plants, the hardy descendants of hemp plants grown by farmers at the federal government's request during World War II, do not contain enough THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to get people high.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart1.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
According to figures from the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, it has seized or destroyed 4.7 billion feral hemp plants since 1984. That's in contrast to the 4.2 million marijuana plants it has seized or destroyed during the same period. In other words, 98.1% of all plants eradicated under the program were ditch weed, of which it is popularly remarked that "you could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole and all you would get is a headache and a sore throat."

While the DEA is spending millions of tax payer dollars, including $11 million in 2005, to wipe out hemp plants, farmers in Canada and European countries are making millions growing hemp for use in a wide variety of food, clothing, and other products. Manufacturers of hemp products in the United States must import their hemp from countries with more enlightened policies.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart2.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
"It's Orwellian that the biggest target of the DEA's Eradication Program is actually not a drug but instead a useful plant for everything from food, clothing and even auto parts and currently must be imported to supply a $270 million industry," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a group lobbying for increased acceptance of the versatile plant. "While Vote Hemp has urged the DEA to recognize the difference between hemp and marijuana so farmers could grow it here, the federal agency is spending millions of dollars to destroy hundreds of millions of harmless hemp plants."

DEA officials regularly argue that there is no difference between hemp and marijuana, but their own statistics belie that claim. In its reports on the domestic eradication program, the agency clearly differentiates between ditch weed and "cultivated marijuana."

Not only is the ditch weed eradication program a waste of money, it may even be counterproductive, said Vote Hemp national outreach coordinator Tom Murphy. "Much of the ditch weed eradicated is believed to be burned, turning a carbon consuming plant into a contributor of Greenhouse gasses," said Murphy in a post-Christmas press release. "For all the effort to find and destroy these harmless wild hemp plants they are coming back year after year. It is likely that the eradication programs help re-seed the locations were ditch weed is found. The late summer timing and removal method causes countless ripe seeds to fall to the ground where they will sprout again the following year."

Your tax dollars at work.

OP-ED: This Is Your Brain on Drugs, Dad

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/03/opinion/03males.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Put Drug Laws on the Day One Docket

Location: 
Albany, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Albany Times-Union
URL: 
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=549238

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Vote Overwhelmingly to Deprioritize Adult Marijuana Offenses; Now Officially Lowest Law Enforcement Priority

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2006 For More Info: Camilla Norman Field, tel: (415) 713-2388 San Francisco Board of Supervisors Vote Overwhelmingly to Deprioritize Adult Marijuana Offenses; Now Officially Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Measure Supported by SF Police and Drug Policy Reform Advocates SF Joins Seattle, Denver, Oakland, West Hollywood and More in Passing Measures that Free Police From Wasting Scarce Resources On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-3, to approve an ordinance deprioritizing low-level marijuana offenses by adults. The decision is pending the formality of a second reading next Tuesday. With Tuesday’s approval, San Francisco has sent a clear message that our country’s marijuana laws are ripe for real reform. The county is not the first to pass such a measure. Berkeley, Seattle, Denver, Oakland, West Hollywood, and—as of last week—Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Eureka Spring, Arkansas, and Missoula, Montana, have all passed measures making marijuana the lowest priority of local law enforcement. The San Francisco legislation was sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, co-sponsored by supervisors Mirkarimi, Daly, and McGoldrick, and was supported by the San Francisco Police Department, the Public Defender’s office, and other drug policy reform organizations, including the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California NORML, Californians for Civil Liberties, Axis of Love SF, the Harvey Milk LBGT Democratic Club, and Hempevolution.org. “There are many better ways that we can be using our tax dollars and empowering our law enforcement than wasting money and resources on marijuana offenses,” said Supervisor Ammiano in the San Francisco Chronicle. Camilla Norman Field, Deputy Director of Drug Policy Alliance San Francisco, who was deeply involved in the effort, said in response to the vote, “By urging our law enforcement community to ignore adult marijuana offenses, our police officers can focus on battling the increase in serious and violent crime, much of which is ironically directly related to our failed prohibitionist approach to drugs. This vote represents one small, but significant, step toward making our communities safer.” Similar to Oakland, West Hollywood, and Santa Cruz, this ordinance deprioritizes the investigation, citations, arrests, and property seizures for marijuana offenses by adults (including possession, distribution, and sale), with a few exceptions: driving under the influence, involving minors, on or within view of public property, and when public safety is jeopardized. The measure also creates an oversight committee that can review cases in which individuals feel they were wrongly targeted. The ordinance also directs the Board of Supervisors’ Clerk to annually notify state and federal governments that, “the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco has passed an ordinance to deprioritize marijuana offenses by adults, and requests that the federal and California state governments take immediate steps to tax and regulate marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution and to authorize state and local communities to do the same.” According to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report close to 800,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses in 2005 — 88% for possession only. This number exceeds the total number of arrests in the U.S. for all violent crimes combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In California, over 1,400 people are in state prison serving sentences for marijuana felonies, over ten times as many as in 1980. While many feel this measure is largely symbolic and doesn’t change existing policy, Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s comments at Monday’s committee hearing that 5-10% of his caseload currently involves adults prosecuted with marijuana-related charges, demonstrates the very real need for this ordinance. “There are a range of counterproductive policies for people who are convicted of a marijuana offense,” continued Ms. Field, “Students lose federal financial aid, and families get kicked out of public housing. It is time to be ‘smart on crime,’ not ‘tough on crime’.”
Location: 
United States

Italy signals major overhaul of drugs laws (EuroNews, France)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://euronews.net/create_html.php?page=detail_info&article=390711&lng=1

It's time to legalize marijuana in Illinois (Chicago Sun-Times)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/anderson/132863,CST-EDT-monroe12.article

Voters take on pot, sick pay, minimum wage and healthcare (Los Angeles Times)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-me-state8nov08,0,6561989.story?coll=la-center-politics-cal

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