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This is Not Your Parents' Cocaine

From The Baltimore Sun:
The United States and its Latin American allies are losing a major battle in the war on drugs, according to indicators showing that cocaine prices dipped for most of 2006 and American users were getting more bang for their buck.
We've already covered this story, but it's beginning to generate broader coverage. Of course, no amount of negative publicity will silence our brave drug warriors even momentarily. Here's Karen Tandy just yesterday:
"Plan Colombia is working. The amount of land used for the cultivation of coca is at an historic low in Colombia," the head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Karen Tandy, told a drug law enforcement conference in Madrid. [AFP]

So why does Washington cover up increased cocaine potency, while aggressively trumpeting increased marijuana potency? The answer is simple, although if you asked the drug czar, he'd turn purple and pretend not to understand what you mean.

In the case of cocaine, the federal government has long identified reducing purity and increasing price as the primary goals of our ridiculously expensive and ongoing South American drug war investments. Increased cocaine potency in 2007 raises serious doubts about the efficacy of the brutal jungle wars we've been bankrolling for 10 years.

In the case of marijuana, however, the government's primary interest is in convincing an experienced public that this isn’t the same drug that has so consistently failed to hurt anyone. Jacob Sullum puts it best:

These warnings have to be understood mainly as a rationalization for the hypocrisy of parents (and politicians) who smoked pot in their youth and thought it was no big deal then but feel a need to explain why it is a big deal now.
Of course, while drug war demagogues are fond of comparing today's more potent marijuana to cocaine, there's really nothing to which they can compare today's stronger cocaine. I dunno, anthrax maybe? When I start hearing reports about weaponized nose-candy, I'm totally moving to Jupiter.

Location: 
United States

Afghan fighters processing opium to boost drug profits: US official

Location: 
Brussels
Belgium
Publication/Source: 
EUbusiness (UK)
URL: 
http://www.eubusiness.com/news_live/1178636419.5

U.S. will limit use of fentanyl ingredient

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Detroit Free Press
URL: 
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070508/NEWS05/705080338/1007

US drugs czar urges Europeans to use influence with Venezuela to help reduce cocaine flows

Location: 
Brussels
Belgium
Publication/Source: 
International Herald Tribune (France)
URL: 
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/08/europe/EU-GEN-EU-US-Drugs.php

One of the Worst Drug Warriors Makes It Back, Under Mysterious Circumstances

Jeralyn Merritt pointed out on TalkLeft tonight that Jay Apperson -- an infamous drug warrior who was fired from his job working for now-former hard-line Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for an inappropriate intervention attempt in a federal drug case -- is back and that his name has come up in a Washington Post article as a hiree for whom DOJ officials bypassed the usual process. It's not clear whether the irregular hiring is part of the larger US Attorneys affair. Read more about this heartless, awful man and his dark works in our 2005 Chronicle report on the aforementioned Sensenbrenner incident.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

U.S., allies seen as losing drug war

Location: 
Mexico City, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cocaine5may05,0,4123403.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Coordinated Drug War Raids as Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

Peter Guither at the Drug WarRant blog has pointed out what he calls a "blatant and pathetic effort" by the State of Kentucky to secure drug war funding from Congress:
State police, local law enforcement, sheriff's offices, HIDTA and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout the nation collectively conducted undercover investigations, search warrants, consent searches, marijuana eradication efforts, drug interdiction and arrest warrants for a period of one week. This collective effort, Operation Byrne Drugs II, was conducted from April 23-29 to highlight the need and effectiveness of the Byrne grant funding and the impact cuts to this funding could have on local and statewide drug enforcement.
Actually it is the media efforts that seem to be coordinated, in addition to the drug enforcement. I noticed a suspiciously similar press release distributed by the California Dept. of Justice last July about a suspiciously similar incident:
BNE task forces, comprised of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, throughout the state served 16 search warrants, seized three firearms, confiscated 53 pounds of methamphetamine, 91 pounds of marijuana, and 37,747 marijuana plants. State drug enforcement agencies across the U.S. on July 27, 2006 participated in a "national day of drug enforcement." Organized by the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, "Operation Byrne Drugs" promoted the continued funding of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program that supports local and statewide drug enforcement. The federally funded program has suffered deep cuts over the last few years, directly affecting BNE. In fiscal year 2001-02, BNE received more than $11.5 million for personnel and operating costs. In fiscal year 2006-07, BNE received less than $6 million, nearly a 50% decline over five years.
your tax dollars at work to get more of your tax dollars Now I run an advocacy group, and I can tell you with confidence that this is exactly what groups who want to achieve a legislative objective will do -- organize media-worthy events in order to get the attention of the policymakers you need to influence, in this case Congress. The main differences between what we do and what the narcs are doing are that: 1) They are using taxpayer funds to carry out their media/lobbying campaign to secure taxpayer funds; and 2) They are using the authority the government has given them to wield state power including guns in order to arrest and incarcerate people, as a component of their media-lobbying campaign. We will generally just hold a press conference or a rally, or issue a report. I suspect that in strict legal terms they have not violated the law. But make no mistake -- this is lobbying of Congress by state agencies to get our money, and they are destroying numerous lives in order to do it. I don't agree with drug enforcement at all (as readers know), but even for those who do, clearly enforcement decisions about when and whom to raid should be based on law enforcement/public safety needs, NOT politics. Unfortunately, it is not only drug money that corrupts our law enforcement; it is drug war money too.
Location: 
KY
United States

FedCURE News: Prospective and Retroactive Application of the New USSC Crack Cocaine Guideline Amendment

On 27 April 2007, the US Sentencing Commission (USSC) voted to approve an amendment of the crack cocaine guidelines to lower applicable sentence ranges. In its press release (http://www.ussc.gov/PRESS/rel0407.htm), the USSC announced that a forthcoming report "will set forth current data and information that continue to support the Commission's consistently held position that the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio significantly undermines various congressional objectives set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act and elsewhere." The report has not been published as of this date. FedCURE will post the report as soon as it becomes available. You can check the USSC site at: http://www.ussc.gov. Because of Booker and various retroactivity rules, it is uncertain as to how the crack amendment will impact present and past cases. Prospectively, the new guidelines could effect 4,000 to 5,000 federal sentencing cases every year. The USSC has authority to make amendments retroactive, albeit, rarely does. The USSC 27 April 2007 press release does not address the issue of retroactivity, and those currently incarcerated for crack offense--some 50,000 to 60,000 federal offenders--are anxious to know. Hopefully the much anticipated USSC report will answer this question and more. It is noted here that the USSC guideline amendment is only a proposal to Congress. The House and the Senate would have to enact specific bills to defeat the amendment. Congress will have six months to consider the amendment. However, the law states that if Congress takes no action before 01 November 2007, the amendment automatically takes effect on 01 November 2007. FedCURE P.O. Box 15667 Plantation, Florida 33318-5667 USA Web Site: http://www.FedCURE.org E-mail: FedCURE@FedCURE.org
Location: 
United States

Colombia aid gets new scrutiny

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
St. Petersburg Times (FL)
URL: 
http://www.sptimes.com/2007/05/04/Worldandnation/Colombia_aid_gets_new.shtml

Alert: Do You Live in AK, CO, CT, GA, IL, IA, KS, MD, MA, NH, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, RI, TN, UT, VT, WA or WY? If So, We Need Your Help

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/student.gif
Last month, DRCNet issued action alerts to our subscribers from 21 different states that are represented on the US Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, asking for phone calls to be made and e-mails sent in support of including full repeal of the Higher Education Act's (HEA) drug provision in the pending Senate HEA reauthorization bill. Special thanks to the hundreds of you who responded to this call to action -- we have reason to believe it has made a difference!

If you are from one of the applicable states, and have not yet e-mailed your senator who is a member of HELP, please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/senate to speak up (or http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to learn more about the issue). Those states are: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

Also, please call your senator's office to register your opinion that way too -- a phone call usually makes more of an impact than an e-mail -- and drop us an e-mail at borden@drcnet.org to let us know. Visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/senate for talking points and further information to help with your call. The senator's phone numbers are as follows:

Alaska: Senator Lisa Murkowki, (202) 224-4654
Colorado: Senator Wayne Allard, (202) 224-5941
Connecticut: Senator Christopher Dodd, (202) 224-2823
Georgia: Senator Johnny Isakson, (202) 224-3643
Illinois: Senator Barack Obama, (202) 224-2854
Iowa: Senator Tom Harkin, (202) 224-3254
Kansas: Senator Pat Roberts, (202) 224-4774
Maryland: Senator Barbara Mikulski, (202) 224-4654
Massachusetts: Senator Ted Kennedy, (202) 224-4543
New Hampshire: Senator Judd Gregg, (202) 224-3324
New Mexico: Senator Jeff Bingaman, (202) 224-5521
New York: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, (202) 224-4451
North Carolina: Senator Richard Burr, (202) 224-3154
Ohio: Senator Sherrod Brown, (202) 224-2315
Oklahoma: Senator Tom Coburn, (202) 224-5754
Rhode Island: Senator Jack Reed, (202) 224-4642
Tennessee: Senator Lamar Alexander, (202) 224-4944
Utah: Senator Orrin Hatch, (202) 224-5251
Vermont: Senator Bernard Sanders, (202) 224-5141
Washington: Senator Patty Murray, (202) 224-2621
Wyoming: Senator Michael Enzi, (202) 224-3424

Thank you for taking action. DRCNet has been fighting against this law since it was passed in 1998, and with your help we could actually win it now!

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Ten members of Congress spoke at the press conference we organized for the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform in 2002.

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