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"Clearly there's no LSD, and how long does it take to test a chocolate-chip cookie for marijuana?"

Total pandemonium broke out this week after a young man doing community service delivered cookies to police and they became convinced he tried to drug them with LSD and marijuana.

They said the basket smelled like pot and the cookies initially tested positive for LSD. Now it's become clear the cookies were just, well, regular cookies, but not before throwing the young man in jail on $75,000 bond and creating a media circus.

Lesson learned: don't feed the cops. Everything smells like drugs to them.

Do Pharmaceutical Companies Support Marijuana Prohibition?

For most drug policy reformers, the answer is probably an exasperated "duh," but a fascinating piece at Huffington Post from NORML's Paul Armentano raises some very plausible doubts about the popular theory that the pharmaceutical industry is pushing pot prohibition to kill competition.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing before forming an opinion, but here are the basic points as I understand them:

1. Pharmaceutical companies are vigorously pursuing patents on various marijuana components and derivatives for a great variety of potential medical applications. Given the rigorous and heavily politicized FDA approval process they'll ultimately need to pass, there's no sense in indulging anti-marijuana hysteria within the government bureaucracy.

2. These products will ultimately be marketed to a populace that has been spoon-fed mindless anti-pot propaganda for decades. Since the origins of the coming generation of marijuana-based medicines will be widely known, their manufacturers have an interest in marijuana being trusted, rather than feared, within the marketplace.

3. Pharmaceutical companies understand that marijuana can never live up to its reputation as a panacea that can replace modern medicine. This is true because most people don't smoke it, and most people don’t want their medicines grown on a tree. Conditions in places where medical marijuana is currently widely available demonstrate this.

4. Government bureaucrats, police and prison lobbies, and voters who've succumbed to drug war propaganda are the real forces behind marijuana prohibition.

Paul also observes the important role marijuana reform efforts have played in fostering a climate in which marijuana-based medicines have become recognized as viable. Only by breaking down bit by bit the barrier of hysteria surrounding marijuana have we been able to set a tone in which medical marijuana research can be discussed rationally in the public domain. There are exceptions, of course, but now that the science and the will of the voters can speak for themselves, corporate profiteers associate marijuana with dollar signs, not reefer madness.

It has also been proposed by some in the reform movement that pharmaceuticalized marijuana may lead to a crack down on the medical use of herbal marijuana, as corporate profiteers pressure police to purge their most obvious competitor. I reject that notion for a couple reasons: 1) the marketing of new marijuana-based medicines will have a trickle-down effect of politically legitimizing pre-existing medical marijuana activity. 2) We can't afford to bust 'em now, we won't be able to afford to bust 'em then. 3) The risk of jury nullification when bringing medical marijuana cases to trial is substantial and will remain so.

Finally, though Paul doesn't address this, many people have cited instances of pharmaceutical companies supporting organizations like Partnership For a Drug Free America as evidence of their complicity in the war on marijuana. I've attempted to research this in the past and couldn't find anything worth our time. The story died on my desk. To the extent that pharmaceutical companies fund so-called "anti-drug" advocacy, I now believe it has nothing to do with marijuana, but rather with a desire to proactively cover their asses for the destructive effects of the legal drugs they themselves manufacture and market.

So, I believe Paul's analysis should probably replace much of the conventional wisdom that currently exists on this issue. Unless other evidence emerges, or other experts of Paul Armentano's caliber (few exist), emerge to convincingly challenge his assertions, the burden of proof placed on those blaming Big Pharma for marijuana prohibition has been raised several notches today. If this helps us to refocus our advocacy towards other more demonstrable, palatable, and persuasive arguments for reform, that would be a good thing.

Democrats for Safe Access Medical Cannabis Rally

Richard Eastman, along with Making Social Change, is planning a medical cannabis rally and march, under the name Democrats for Safe Access at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Co. The required permits were applied for some time ago and were initially denied. However, after some persistence and assistance from the ACLU, the necessary permits were issued for a demonstration up to 10,000 people. We invite you to come and join us in asking the next presidential nominee of the Democratic Party for his support. We seek the support of a unified Party to require their candidate, if elected President, to stop federal criminalization of medical cannabis. We urge any and all groups who have an interest in this cause (i.e.: political watchdogs, patient advocates, voter's rights, associated industries, etc.) and individuals alike to provide whatever assistance they can through sponsoring and/or volunteering. Please contact Duke Smith, Event Chairman, at (818) 914-9560 to coordinate efforts. Democrats for Safe Access 4848 Lexington Ave., Suite 109, Hollywood, CA 90029 Tel: 323-474-4602, Fax: 323-882-6263
Thu, 08/28/2008 - 1:15pm
Denver, CO
United States

Police Discover World's Most Expensive Marijuana

During a routine traffic stop in Ohio, police discovered over 100 pounds of the most valuable marijuana ever documented:

Police curbed the gray, four-door Mercury Grand Marquis Ruci was driving after he allegedly committed a lane violation, the highway patrol statement indicated. A specially trained, narcotics-detecting dog was brought to the scene, and its reaction to the car signaled the presence of drugs, the statement said.

A search of the vehicle yielded 104 pounds of hydroponically-grown marijuana stuffed inside eight black plastic trash bags. Police said the marijuana had an estimated street sale value of more than $4.7 million. [Naperville Sun]

This is really an incredible discovery and I'm surprised it hasn’t generated more attention. At $4.7 million for 104 pounds, we're talking about an ounce that's worth $2824.51! That just blows away everything listed at High Times's market quotes section, where ounces of high-grade marijuana in Ohio last month were listed at $400. It also overwhelms the STRIDE data collected by drug enforcement officers showing that U.S. marijuana prices averaged around $200 per ounce as of 2003.

So far, I haven’t heard of anyone smoking this new type of marijuana, but that's probably because the police took it all.

Ok, enough. In case you haven't figured it out yet, this marijuana isn't worth $4.7 million. The police maybe got a little carried away and reporters don't doublecheck their numbers on things like this. It's happened before.

The problem is the numbers are so far off here that it really takes the crime to a different level, an inaccurate one. They magnified the value by a factor of 10, roughly, if the smoker-submitted street prices at High Times are realistic (my guess is they're the most accurate numbers available). The Naperville Sun, The Toledo Blade, and local ABC News grabbed the story, with The Sun even rounding up in the headline, "Driver arrested with $5 million in pot". Ironically, the $300,000 they added for the headline is much closer to what it was actually worth. Police also stated that it was "hydroponically-grown," but they admitted not knowing where it came from, meaning they can't be sure how it was actually grown. Perhaps they just like to say "hydroponic," in which case they're certainly not alone.

Amidst the numerous tragedies and injustices caused by our nation's war on drugs, the tendency to exaggerate drug seizures is a minor one. But it's annoying, it happens a lot, and it might even have the unintended effect of encouraging people to think growing marijuana will make them a millionaire.

Action Alert: (Updated) Let's respond to this by contacting the papers that reported it and letting them know they've been pushing a false headline. Here are a few of them:

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: send a letter/comment here

ABC News send a letter/comment here

Toledo Blade send a letter/comment here.

Naperville Sun send a letter/comment here.

You can send more or less the same comment to each, but be sure to include the appropriate link for their coverage, so they know what you're referring to. And, of course, be brief, on topic, and polite.

Update 2: Fascinatingly, The Chicago Tribune has the story, but leaves out the claims that the marijuana was valued at $4.7 million. That was the headline elsewhere. Could it be that Chicago Tribune was suspicious of the numbers?

Please Digg - Click Here

Americans for Safe Access: July 2008 Activist Newsletter

Student Members of AMA Endorse Access to Medical Marijuana

Resolution Goes to Full American Medical Association for November Vote

The prestigious American Medical Association (AMA) will consider endorsing therapeutic use of cannabis at its next interim meeting in November.

In June, the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA, led by an ASA medical advisor, approved a resolution urging the physicians group to support the reclassification of marijuana for medical use. The MSS will send the resolution to the AMA House of Delegates for a final vote in November.

"While it is an historic occasion for any section of the AMA to endorse medical marijuana, the MSS is merely affirming existing science and urging the adoption of a sensible medical marijuana policy," said AMA-MSS member Sunil Aggarwal, who serves on ASA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board and is pushing the effort to gain AMA endorsement. "As a future medical doctor, I look forward to exploring and utilizing the many medical benefits of cannabinoid medicines in patient care."

With nearly 50,000 members, the MSS is the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the United States.

"This is a positive and necessary step in the right direction," said Dr. David Ostrow, a member of the AMA and Chair of ASA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. "We are hopeful that the full house of delegates will follow the example set by the American College of Physicians and place the needs and safety of our patients above politics."

In February, the American College of Physicians (ACP) adopted a resolution that called for rescheduling marijuana to make it available by prescription and expanding research into its medical efficacy. With 124,000 members, the ACP is the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine.

Since 1996, twelve U.S. states have adopted medical marijuana laws. Public opinion polls consistently show that as many as 4 out of 5 Americans support access to medical marijuana.

The AMA-MSS resolution is online here.

ASA Fights Counties' Challenge to Calif. Medical Cannabis Law

Joins ACLU and State AG in Arguing Appeal of ID Card Ruling

Two California counties faced off against ASA, the ACLU and the state attorney general in appeals court last month, arguing whether the state's medical cannabis law should be enforced. San Diego and San Bernardino counties do not want to implement California's patient ID program and are appealing a superior court ruling that said they must.

ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford

In an unusual move by the justices, an overflow room was set up with television coverage from the courtroom to accommodate the extraordinary turnout in court to hear oral arguments from ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, Adam Wolfe of the American Civil Liberties Union and Deputy Attorney General Peter Krause.

The counties are contending that federal law preempts California's medical marijuana laws. San Bernardino also argues that when the legislature added the card program they unconstitutionally amend the 1996 initiative enacted by voters.

Attorneys for patients told the justices that they should affirm the lower court ruling that California's decision not to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients is valid, even if the federal government prohibits all marijuana use.

"States have traditionally been entrusted with caring for the health and welfare of their citizens," said ASA's Elford. "Proper implementation of California's medical marijuana laws benefits patients, law enforcement, and the entire state."

The case is the result of the November 2005 vote by San Diego County Board of Supervisors to challenge the legislature's patient ID card program, a move that was joined by two others, San Bernardino and Merced. Merced agreed to implement the program after it lost the case in November 2006.

"San Diego and San Bernardino Counties remain intent on defying the will of California's voters and the well-being of thousands of sick and dying patients at tremendous taxpayer expense," said Adam Wolf, the ACLU attorney. "The counties' legally dubious lawsuit is a slap in the face to medical marijuana patients and the voters of California."
A ruling in the case from the California 4th District Court of Appeal is expected later this summer.

Additional information on the case is available online here.

ASA Chapter Focus: Western North Carolina

Among the affiliates of Americans for Safe Access enjoying recent success in defending patient rights is the Western North Carolina chapter, ASAWNC. Chapter members testified last month before the state legislature in support of making medical use legal in North Carolina, and the director's caregiver prevailed in an important court case.

On June 25, ASAWNC members traveled across the state to the capitol in Raleigh for the North Carolina House Science & Technology committee hearing regarding NC H.R. 2405, which is a bill to study the public benefits of allowing medical marijuana in the state. Joining ASAWNC director Jean Marlowe in testifying before the committee in support of the bill was former Surgeon-General Dr. Jocelyn Elders, as well as Dr. Laura Hanson of Chapel Hill and patient Dixie Deerman, who is a Registered Nurse in Asheville.

That testimony came just two days after Steve Marlowe, Jean's caregiver, won an important ruling in state court, where he was facing state marijuana charges. The judge threw out all evidence obtained with the search warrant, ruling that the informant used by the Polk County Sheriff's Department was "not a credible witness" and that they had acted with "willful intent, or with reckless disregard for the law" in using this informant as a basis for their search warrant. As a result, all charges were dismissed later that day.

By the end of the week, the District Attorney had ordered the sheriff to return all property taken from the Marlowes, except for the marijuana. This was the third time law enforcement has been ordered to return equipment to the Marlowe home. ASAWNC made sure news media was on hand to cover the return of property.

For more about ASAWNC, see their videos on YouTube at and


Cannabinoids Fight Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Tumor Growth

Swedish researchers report success using the endocannabinoid system to fight non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, show that a cannabinoid agonist halts the spread and growth of cancerous tumors in animals with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Investigators report that mice treated with the cannabinoid agonist experienced a 40 percent reduction in tumor weight.

The researchers conclude that ability of cannabinoids to both restrict the proliferation of cancer cells and reprogram the cells to die off makes "the endocannabinoid system a potential new therapeutic target for individualized therapy in lymphomas."

These findings are consistent with earlier studies that have shown cannabinoids can halt the spread of many types of cancers, including brain, breast, lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

New Anti-inflammatory Compound Found in Cannabis

A new anti-inflammatory compound that is not psychoactive has been found in large concentrations in the cannabis plant. The compound, which can ease swelling, pain and inflammation, may lead to the development of new treatments for such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.

The chemical, called beta-caryophyllene, helps combat inflammation without affecting the brain. Researchers demonstrated in an animal study that beta-caryophyllene attaches to CB-2 cannabinoid receptors, producing the anti-inflammatory effect, but not to the CB-1 receptors, which are associated with the psychoactive effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

Analysis of cannabis has found it to contain as much as 35% beta-caryophyllene. Other common plants that contain the oil include black pepper, oregano, basil, lime, cinnamon, carrots, and celery.

Clinical Neuropathy Trial Shows Cannabis Effective

Even low doses of smoked cannabis can be effective in managing hard-to-treat neuropathic pain, according to California researchers. Investigators found that low- and high-dose cannabis produced similar levels of pain relief, reducing both the intensity and unpleasantness of the often unbearable nerve pain.

The researchers note that cannabis not only fights pain itself but also interacts with opiod painkillers to increase their effectiveness, particularly in neuropathic pain. They also note that using isolated synthetic cannabinoids such as THC (dronabinol) does not provide the same degree of efficacy as a whole-plant preparation of cannabis.

In conclusion, investigators observe that "cannabis does not rely on a relaxing or tranquillizing effect but rather reduces both the core component of nociception [the nerve transmission of pain] and the emotional aspect of the pain experience to an equal degree."

Case Studies Show THC Can Relieve Depression

While many patients report cannabis use has a positive impact on mental health issues ranging from anxiety to depression, such use is controversial and rarely studied. A recent pair of case studies from Austria, published last month in the journal of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine, describe oral administration of synthetic THC (dronabinol) helping two women with chronic depression. The author reports that 8 out of 10 depressive patients he has treated with synthetic THC exhibited "swift improvement." He concludes that clinical studies of the "effectiveness of cannabinoids for the treatment of depression … are desirable and promising."

Defend Patients and Caregivers, Tell Congress to Stop Funding Medical Marijuana Raids Today!

It's time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on raiding state-licensed patients and providers. Congress can do it. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill instructs the Department of Justice to use its money wisely and specifically prohibits the Department from using appropriated funds to conduct raids or otherwise prevent the various states from implementing laws that authorize the therapeutic use of cannabis.

Tell your U.S. Representative that, if adopted, this amendment will do two things:

(1) Conserve taxpayers' money by eliminating funding for DEA raids aimed at state-certified medical cannabis patients and caregivers.

(2) Protect legal medical cannabis patients from having their homes and workspaces raided by the DEA.
For phone numbers of your representatives go to: or call the congressional switchboard at: (202) 224-3121.

Or contact George@AmericansforSafeAccess for additional info.

Fresno Supervisors to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana ID Card Program July 8

JULY 3, 2008

Fresno Supervisors to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana ID Card Program July 8Patients, Advocates to Highlight Program's Importance at July 7 Medical Marijuana Documentary Screening

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-575-9870

FRESNO, Calif. — The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing on the local implementation of the statewide Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, 9 a.m., July 8, in the County Board Chambers in the Hall of Records at 2281 Tulare St.

    Although 40 California counties have implemented the program – including Merced, Tulare, Inyo and San Benito as well as Los Angeles, Orange and Kern – Fresno has yet to act.

    Patients and advocates from across the county, including Diana Kirby, 66, will attend the hearing. Kirby uses physician-approved medical marijuana, under state law, to treat severe pain from an auto accident that resulted in having her leg amputated.

    "Patients like me shouldn't have to worry about being falsely arrested because our county isn't offering the ID cards," Kirby said. "Let's hope our elected officials do the right thing for patients and taxpayers by implementing this program."

    Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project, noted that the program – mandated by a state law that went into effect in 2004 – benefits law enforcement by removing the burden of verifying patient documentation from officers on the street. The ID card provides a means for local peace officers to easily identify bona fide medical marijuana patients during enforcement stops.

    "We are merely calling on the Board of Supervisors to follow existing state law so that suffering patients like Diana do not have to live in fear of false arrest at the expense of local taxpayers," Smith said. "It is the duty of the county's leaders to protect their most vulnerable citizens and to make the jobs of local law enforcement easier by providing them with all the tools available. This program is a major step in the right direction."

    To help educate the community about this and other medical marijuana issues facing Fresno, MPP will host a free screening of the award-winning medical marijuana documentary "Waiting to Inhale," followed by a panel discussion, July 7, at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., in Clovis.

    With more than 25,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit

Fresno, CA
United States

Press Release: Advocates Hail One-Year Anniversary of New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law; Program Has Made Progress but Still Has Further to Go

[Courtesy of Drug Policy Alliance] FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2008 CONTACT: Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Julie Roberts at (505) 983-3277 Advocates Hail Today’s One-Year Anniversary of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act Patients’ Right to Medical Marijuana Protected for One Year in New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance: Program Has Made Progress but Still Has Further to Go NEW MEXICO—Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start date of New Mexico’s landmark medical cannabis law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has certified 160 patients with identification cards, affording them the right to protection under state law from prosecution for possessing small amounts of medical cannabis. “The New Mexico Department of Health has done a wonderful job of issuing ID cards to patients who meet the program criteria,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, “They’ve been very careful to ensure that all of the applications are verified and correct, and they’ve been a real resource for patients and physicians with questions.” The program has further to go, however. According to the state law, the Department of Health should have issued rules and regulations by October 1, 2007 to govern some aspects of the program, including the medical advisory board, the identification card system, and the production and distribution of medical cannabis. On April 15 the regulations governing the medical advisory board were published. The medical advisory board has not yet met, though the law requires the board to meet at least twice per year to consider petitions for new medical conditions. The remaining two sets of regulations have not been finalized. NMDOH convened two public hearings concerning the regulations on October 1, 2007 and January 14, 2008. Patients and advocates anxiously await these final two sets of regulations, partly to improve patient access to medical cannabis. Because these regulations are not finalized, no caregivers have been certified to assist patients in maintaining a supply of medicine, and the state licensed production and distribution system has not been implemented to ensure a safe and secure supply for patients. New Mexico’s law is the first in the nation to require the state to create a production and distribution system. “We recognize that the production and distribution system is very complex and should be carefully designed. That system will allow New Mexico to do what no other state has done - ensure a safe and secure supply of medical cannabis for patients,” said Szczepanski, “But it’s time to publish the identification card regulations and start certifying caregivers, who can help their patients until the distribution system is up and running. It’s been nearly six months since the last public hearing on these regulations.” Qualified patients whose doctors believe they would benefit from the medicinal use of cannabis will finally be protected as the New Mexico Department of Health issues the first patient identification cards next week. Applications for identification cards for both patients and their primary caregivers are available at the Department of Health’s website, . Following a seven-year fight to pass legislation, New Mexico’s landmark medical cannabis law passed in the 2007 legislative session. During the legislative debate on the issue, advocates had predicted that the program would grow over five years to 250-500 patients. New Mexico was the twelfth state to endorse the use of medical cannabis and only the fourth state legislature to enact such a measure. The law protects qualified patients suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions, HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, spinal cord injury with intractable spasticity, or admittance into hospice care, to use medical cannabis for relief of their symptoms. For questions regarding qualification for the program or the application process, please contact Melissa Milam with the Department of Health at (505) 827-2321. ###
United States

Marijuana: Mendocino County Move to Restrict Grows Passes, Barely

Two weeks ago, we reported on the battle over Measure B in California's Mendocino County. At that time, 10 days after voters there went to the polls to weigh in on the bid to undo the county's groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed anyone to grow up to 25 marijuana plants, Measure B was leading by a margin of 52% to 48%, but more than a third of the votes had not been counted.

Well, now they have, and the results are the same: Measure B was approved by voters by a margin of 52% to 48%. Now, if the measure is found to be constitutional -- which is in doubt because of a recent California appellate court ruling -- only medical marijuana patients and caregivers can grow, and they can only grow six plants per patient.

Still, opponents of Measure B claimed a "moral victory," as Dale Gieringer of California NORML put it in a press release. "The final margin was so close that opponents would have won in a general election, where turnout is larger, younger, and more liberally inclined. Marijuana proponents intend to return to the county with more workable proposals for legally regulating the county's marijuana industry," Gieringer wrote.

Spurred in part by cultural opposition to marijuana, in part by worries over crime and quality of life issues associated with the county's $500 million a year (lowball figure) pot crop, and in part by complaints that local employers could not find workers because they were making more money in the pot trade, the initiative was expected to win convincingly. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, with support from the city councils of Willits and Ukiah, the district attorney, the county's leading newspaper and major media, and local development interests upset by the difficulty of paying competitive wages.

"Everything was stacked against us from the beginning," said No on B campaign director Laura Hamburg. But the No on B campaign managed to raise serious doubts about whether Measure B would have any impact on the large commercial grows that stoked much of the concern, turning the election into a horse race.

Look for a quick legal challenge to Measure B from the Mendocino activist community, which has already vowed to go back to voters with new measures aimed at taxing and regulating marijuana production and sales there.

Europe: Hashish Growers Fight Police in "Greece's Colombia"

Three Greek police officers taking part in a raid on a hashish plantation were ambushed and shot by suspected growers armed with AK-47s Sunday night, leaving one officer in critical condition with a head wound. The attack took place in the village of Malades on the Greek island of Crete, about nine miles from Heraklion, the island's largest city.
Port of Heraklion, Crete
Sunday's shooting is the second serious attack by hash growers against police on the island in seven months. Last November, three police officers were shot and wounded when their convoy was headed to the village of Zoniana, just west of Heraklion. The Greek government responded with a massive police sweep and house-to-house searches. Police arrested 16 people in connection with the ambush and a series of bank robberies, but recovered few of the heavy weapons believed to have been used in that assault.

Crete has a longstanding tradition of gun-ownership, and weapons remain readily available despite police efforts to crack down. Marijuana growing is rife in remote mountain villages on the island. Marijuana growers and dealers routinely take pot-shots at police helicopters or vehicles patrolling their area, prompting the Greek media to refer to the region as a "Greek Colombia" and a "state within a state," according to Agence France-Presse. Local officials in Crete are often accused of protecting growers and traffickers, the agency noted.

As was the case after the Zoniana ambush, Greek police responded this week with another manhunt. Greek Police head Vassilis Tsiatouras ordered a contingent of police from Athens to the scene, including Greek SWAT teams, members of the criminology service, officers of the police drugs squad, and members of the homicide force. In all likelihood, their search will reach the same inconclusive results as before.

Marijuana: Puerto Rico Ex-Officials Say Legalize It

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.

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