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Canada: Vancouver Mayor Pushes Stimulant Maintenance Plan

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, who wants to begin a groundbreaking plan to provide cocaine and methamphetamine users with prescription stimulants, has released the results of a poll he commissioned that showed strong support for the notion among Vancouver residents. The survey released last Friday showed that 61% of respondents would support such a program to deal with rampant drug abuse in the city's Downtown Eastside.

The mayor needs to win an exemption from Canada's drug laws from the federal government. Under Sullivan's plan, called CAST (Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment), up to 700 chronic cocaine and meth users would be provided with maintenance doses of stimulants. The release of the poll results is designed to increase pressure on the federal government to approve the experimental program.

The poll also found that an even larger majority of Vancouver residents were skeptical of traditional abstinence-based drug treatment programs. According to the poll, 71% of respondents believed such programs actually worked for less than one-quarter of participants.

"The public appears to be aware that large numbers of addicted people will continue to be involved in crime and disorder as a result of long-term drug use," Sullivan said in a press release last Friday. "We know that many drug users do not respond, in the long term, to traditional abstinence-based treatment programs."

Latin America: Mexico Moves to Decriminalize Drug Possession -- So It Can Concentrate on Drug Traffickers

Legislators from Mexican President Felipe's Calderon's National Action Party (PAN -- Partido de Accion Nacional) have introduced a bill in the Mexican Senate that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs for "addicts." An even stronger drug reform bill that included higher personal drug possession limits and would have applied to all drug consumers passed both the Mexican Senate and Congress, only to be vetoed by then President Vicente Fox after strong objections from Washington.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/dea-mexico-poster.jpg
DEA Spanish-language poster targeting Mexican trafficking organization
Under this year's version of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate Wednesday, people caught for the first time with less than two grams of marijuana and similarly small single-dose amounts of other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, would not be prosecuted. But persons caught more than once in possession of illegal drugs would be prosecuted unless they qualified as "addicts" by proving they were in drug treatment or under medical care. The bill retains a provision that would protect indigenous people engaging in religious drug use from prosecution.

But the proposed legislation may not mark a liberalization of Mexico's drug policy, but may instead broaden Mexico's ability to arrest and prosecute drug offenders by allowing state police and judicial systems to take action against drug offenders under them. Under current law, that ability is reserved to the federal government. The bill would allow authorities to concentrate on drug traffickers by freeing up resources to go after dealers, and it increases prison sentences for drug trafficking offenses.

"This isn't legalization," said PAN Sen. Alejandro Gonzalez, who heads the Senate's justice commission. "We're going to go much harder against drug dealers," he told a Mexico City press conference Monday.

Since taking office in December, President Calderon has declared war on Mexico's violent drug trafficking organizations with a vengeance. He has sent thousands of troops into hotbeds of drug trafficking, such as the state of Michoacan, as well as major cities plagued by prohibition-related violence and corruption, such as Tijuana and Acapulco.

Last year's version of the bill set higher personal use quantities, causing it to ultimately be vetoed, said Gonzalez. "An error was made, unfortunately, in the lower house, adding the (exemption for) consumers. That really betrayed the spirit of the reforms, by increasing (personal use) quantities, and that's why we're paying attention to the criticisms and making changes," he noted.

Is "the spirit of the reforms" then to facilitate Mexico's drug war rather than end it?

Drug turf war advances into 'safest city in Mexico'

Location: 
San Pedro Garza Garcia
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
The Kansas City Star
URL: 
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/16695933.htm

First Pictures from Coca Land

Mana coca foods (and other foods) store owner of Mana, with coca energy powder changing of the guard, Municipal Palace, Plaza de Armas, Lima cocalero leader Nelson Palomino, with coca leaves Drug War Chronicle editor Phil Smith with Nelson Palomino National Cathedral, Plaza de Armas Phil Smith with Peruvian academic and coca expert Baldomero Caceres upscale Lima suburb Miraflores pedestrian shopping street Jiron de la Union, Lima Municipal Palace National Cathedral
Location: 
Lima
Peru

Mexico wants to partially decriminalize drugs

Location: 
Mexico City
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
ABC News
URL: 
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=2871242

Off to Ayacucho and the Valleys of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers

Oh, my situation is fluid. I was supposed to travel to Ayacucho today to visit cocalero leader Nelson Palomino and check out what is going on in the coca fields of the Valles de los rios Apurimac y Ene (VRAE), one of the most conflictive coca zones in the country. But last night, I got word that Palomino and his crew had come to Lima for meetings. I managed to hook up with them this morning, as well as visiting Mana Integral, a small company devoted to the nutrional uses of coca. It makes coca wheat, coca yoghurt, coca energy packets (they would look great at your local convenience store). And now, although Palomino is headed up to San Martin in the northeast for more meetings, one of his men is going to accompany me on an overnight bus ride, getting into Ayacucho at dawn, then another ride of four or five hours into the heart of the VRAE. It´ll be up and over the Andes and down into the selva at the edge of the Amazon basin. Should be very, very interesting in the VRAE. It takes so long to get there that we will stay there tomorrow night and return to Ayacucho Thursday afternoon. This has some implications for near-term blogging and for getting the Chronicle out in a timely manner this week. I don´t think I´m going to find high speed internet access in the VRAE, so you may not hear from me for a day or two. I also had very interesting and disturbing conversations with coca experts Baldomero Caceres and Ricardo Soberon yesterday. Look for some of that in one of the articles I do for the Chronicle this week. This working from the road in the Third World is really kind of a hassle. I have to rely on internet cafes, and often the people working them don´t have a clue about why my connection won´t work. Then, if I have to use their machines, I have problems with the strange keyboards. But I do my best.
Location: 
Lima
Peru

With Baldomero Caceres in Miraflores

I´ve spent the last few hours with Baldomeo Caceres, the Peruvian psychologist and coca expert, walking around central Lima and talking about the politics of coca. Now, we´ve traveled to Baldo´s house in the upscale Lima suburb of Miraflores, where we´re going to have a nice Peruvian lunch, then I´ll pull out my laptop and do a formal interview with him. One of the points that Baldo hammered away on while we walked and talked was his frustration with the slow pace of efforts to get coca removed from the list of banned plants in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics. Evo Morales is supposedly ready to formally request coca´s removal from the list, but according to Baldo, he isn´t getting support from some of the quarters he should be in the world of the non-governmental organizations. We´ll see what Baldo is willing to say about that on the record. He was also pessimistic about the prospects for change at the UN General Assembly special session on drugs in Vienna next year. Again, we´ll see what he says about that on the record. I have just been called to lunch, so I will keep this short. After this, I go to interview Peruvian defense and drug policy analyst Ricardo Soberon, formerly an advisor to Congresswoman Nancy Obregon. I will have photos soon. I had to buy a cable for the camera so I can transfer the photos. I´ll try to post some this evening.
Location: 
Lima
Peru

Op-Ed: The USA and Mexico: Distinct Theatres in One War

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Mexidata (CA)
URL: 
http://www.mexidata.info/id1252.html

Illegal Drugs Soar in Panama

Location: 
Panama
Publication/Source: 
Prensa Latina (Cuba)
URL: 
http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7B130E9D9B-3BFB-41B9-A13E-0BB0264A6BBB%7D)&language=EN

Dutch secretary of health advocates removal of recreational drugs from anti-doping code

Location: 
Netherlands
Publication/Source: 
International Herald Tribune (France)
URL: 
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/12/sports/EU-SPT-Netherlands-Anti-Doping-Code.php

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