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Marijuana: SAFER Takes on the NFL, Cites "Hypocrisy" of Player's Huge Fine for Marijuana Possession

New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was suspended for one week and fined two weekly paychecks, or about $300,000, by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week after pleading guilty in July to misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. That has the marijuana reform group SAFER (Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) crying foul.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/saferbillboard.jpg
SAFER Ricky Williams billboard, 2007 (saferchoice.org)
SAFER, whose primary argument is that marijuana is safer than alcohol and should not be treated more harshly, announced Thursday that it would deliver an online petition and letter calling for changes to the NFL's marijuana policy to Goodell today in New York City. For SAFER, the huge fine assessed against Faulk is rank hypocrisy from a sporting organization that accepts hundreds of millions of dollars in alcohol advertising.

The petition reads as follows:

"Players with the National Football League who use marijuana instead of alcohol to relax and recreate are making a rational choice to use a less harmful substance.

"Suspending these players and taking away hundreds of thousands (or sometimes millions) of dollars for using marijuana is driving them to use alcohol, a drug that -- unlike marijuana -- contributes to violent and aggressive behavior. Unless the NFL plans to suspend every player who receives a speeding ticket -- which is considered an offense on par with marijuana possession in some states -- it has absolutely no reason to suspend players for the simple use and possession of marijuana. Doing so is not only irrational, but given the NFL's acceptance and blatant promotion of alcohol, it is exceptionally hypocritical.

"Marijuana is safer than alcohol and the National Football League's substance abuse policy should be changed immediately to reflect that fact."

"The NFL has no problem with players using alcohol and it accepts hundreds of millions of dollars to promote booze to football fans of all ages," said SAFER executive director Mason Tvert. "Yet the league punishes those players who make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol to relax and recreate. The NFL is driving its players to drink. Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far less harmful than alcohol both to those who use it and to others around them," Tvert said. "It is a mystery why Commissioner Goodell and the NFL would want to steer the biggest, toughest guys in the country away from using marijuana and toward using alcohol, which contributes to aggressive behavior and countless violent crimes."

This isn't the first time SAFER has gone after the NFL's marijuana policy. Last October, the group erected a billboard across the street from Invesco Field in Denver that featured an image of NFL superstar Ricky Williams in a Denver Broncos jersey, urging the recently reinstated player to "Come to Denver: Where the people support your SAFER choice."

Australia: Drug Researcher Says Ecstasy Safer Than Binge Drinking, Causes Flap

Responding to recent data suggesting that young Queenslanders are switching to ecstasy in the wake of a steep increase in the state government's tax on popular "alcopops," a leading drug researcher said the young people would be better off taking small amounts of ecstasy than going on drinking binges. Unsurprisingly, the comments have attracted criticism from some quarters.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ecstasypills.jpg
ecstasy pills
Professor Jake Najman, director of Queensland's Alcohol and Drug Research Center, said ecstasy was "a lesser evil" than binge drinking, long a popular Australian pastime. Ecstasy is "relatively benign if taken in small quantities," he said. "When young people switch from a substantial amount of alcohol to a small amount of ecstasy... I don't think that's a bad trade at all. It is not likely that one pill on a Saturday night poses the same dangers as frequent binge drinking."

Illegal drugs kill about a thousand Australians a year, but alcohol kills around 20,000. According to a 2004 government study, 19% of 18-to-24-year-old men and 11% of women in the same age group had engaged in binge drinking -- defined as seven drinks or more at a sitting -- at least once a week over the past year.

Ecstasy is "cheaper and safer" than excessive alcohol consumption, Najman said. "Even drug-related problems, including psychotic episodes and violent behaviour are not seen with ecstasy, as they are with amphetamines and alcohol," he said.

University of Adelaide PhD student Emily Jaehne attacked Najman's statement on two counts. She said ecstasy was often adulterated, but that is an artifact of prohibition, not a property of the drug itself. Her second count, that ecstasy causes potentially serious increases in body temperature, was stronger. "When taken at hot nightclubs or rave parties the heightened effects could lead to severe brain damage or death," Ms. Jaehne said.

But while the risk of death from using ecstasy is real, it is also infinitesimal. According to a 2004 study of national death statistics, 12 people died of ecstasy-related causes in Australia between 2001 and 2004.

Still, that didn't stop Jo Baxter, director of Drug Free Australia, from calling Najman's comments "irresponsible" and dangerous. "There is no guarantee that if young people hear a message of so-called 'safe use' from people in authority, that they will use only small quantities. Taking ecstasy is like Russian roulette. No one individual knows exactly what it will do to their body chemistry," she said.

"A person in Professor Najman's position and with his qualifications is showing an extraordinary lack of responsibility, if his views have been reported accurately," Baxter continued. "The other aspect is that we seriously have to question why our young people are feeling the need to take drugs in order to 'have a good time.' We need to be giving our young people reasons not to have to rely on drugs for their social events. If we can reduce the demand, the huge volumes of ecstasy now coming into Australia would have no market."

Good luck with that, Mrs. Baxter.

Marijuana: Hawaii County Council Rejects "Green Harvest" Eradication Program

By the narrowest of margins, the Aloha State's Big Island Hawaii County Council has rejected a state and federally funded marijuana eradication program known as "Green Harvest." The action came during a council meeting last week, when the council tied 4-4 on whether to continue to support the widely criticized program. The tie vote meant the motion to accept the funding failed.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/volcano-national-park.jpg
Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
"Green Harvest" began in Hawaii three decades ago and has been controversial ever since. Many residents opposed the program, saying low-flying helicopters searching for pot fields disrupted rural life and invaded their privacy. Others argued that the program has done little to eradicate marijuana and even promoted the use of other, more dangerous drugs.

By the 1990s, council members heeding public complaints began expressing reservations about the helicopter missions. In 2000, they rejected $265,000 in federal eradication funds, two-thirds of the program's money that year. But the following year, they once again accepted the full amount offered.

But last week's vote means the council will say "no thanks" to $441,000 in state and federal funds for "Green Harvest." It also means the county will save the $53,000 from its own budget that would have been its share of the operation's financial burden.

Last month, the council had narrowly approved "Green Harvest" on a 5-3 vote, but that vote had to be redone because the council failed to publish the legislation in local newspapers, as required by law. That provided the opportunity for Councilman Angel Pilago to change his vote and kill the program.

"This will have long-term impacts," Pilago said. "When we institute programs we, the county government, need to look at if they are detrimental to people's rights and the health and safety of the community. That's what we do," he told the Associated Press after the vote. "It's about home rule," he said. "The county must be assertive and aggressive and not defer certain powers to the state and federal governments. We must not cede those powers."

Pilago is running for mayor of Hawaii County, and his vote on "Green Harvest," as well as his support for a lowest law enforcement priority initiative currently underway there, could help him draw a contrast between himself and incumbent Mayor Harry Kim, who is a "Green Harvest" supporter.

"My position is no secret," Kim told the AP. "I support eradication, as long as it's done in a way that is not harmful to people who should not be harmed, as far as noise and catchment systems and all those concerns. I'm against all drugs. Marijuana is an illegal drug."

Drug Czar Creates Handy Guide For Teens on Where To Obtain Prescription Drugs

Oddly, the Drug Czar has created a new webpage that offers great tips for any teen looking to catch a buzz. The page claims to be a warning guide for parents, but the potentially deadly secrets contained within it are available for anyone to see. I was able to access all of the site's content without even being asked to verify that I'm over 18.

I've learned to steal drugs from the elderly because they don't monitor their pill count or throw away leftovers because they're super old and confused. Also, there's like a billion websites that don't even check prescriptions and will send me anything. I'm gonna go cure my boreditis now. Thanks, Office of National Drug Control Policy!
Location: 
United States

Drug Scare: Kids in Florida are Getting High by Sniffing Feces

You can urine test them. You can take away their financial aid for college. But you can't stop the kids from getting high. Some people will try anything, and I don't think arresting them is going to help:
Information Bulletin
New Drug – JENKEM

On 09/19/07 Cpl. Disarro received and email from a concerned parent regarding a new drug called “Jenkem”. The parent advised their child learned about this drug through various conversations with several students at Palmetto Ridge High.

Jenkem originated in Africa and other third world countries by fermenting raw sewage to create a gas which is inhaled to achieve a high. Jenkem is now a popular drug in American Schools. Jenkem is a homemade substance which consists of fecal matter and urine. The fecal matter and urine are placed in a bottle or jar and covered most commonly with a balloon. The container is then placed in a sunny area for several hours or days until fermented. The contents of the container will separate and release a gas, which is captured in the balloon. Inhaling the gas is said to have a euphoric high similar to ingesting cocaine but with strong hallucinations of times past. [Snopes]

This doesn't sound like a good idea. But what shall we do about it? You can't pop people for poop possession, or piss-test people for piss sniffing. Should we launch a massive public education campaign warning kids that fermenting their excrement and breathing in the resulting fumes will get them wasted? That could backfire.

So I don't know what the solution is. For starters, we should wait to see if this is a real problem or just another hysterical response to a couple gross, though isolated, incidents. If there really is a rising trend of Florida youths sniffing fermented feces, maybe it's just an overreaction to the Miami DEA Chief's recent claim that marijuana will kill you.

Update: The rumor site Snopes, from which this story emerged, has updated the accuracy status of this rumor from "undetermined" to "false." It's unclear what prompted the change, but it looks like this whole story might just be a crock of...

Location: 
United States

'Drug Czar' Makes Pitch for Random Drug Testing in Schools

Location: 
NV
United States
Publication/Source: 
KLAS-TV (NV)
URL: 
http://www.klas-tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6421839&pass=1#poll60562

Mexican alliance drives drug flow

Location: 
Ciudad Juarez
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
The Dallas Morning News
URL: 
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/mexico/stories/DN-heroin_08int.ART.North.Edition1.441bb93.html

Risk-taking kiwis protest looming "party pill" ban

Location: 
Wellington
New Zealand
Publication/Source: 
The Scotsman (UK)
URL: 
http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=365012007

Drug testing children fraught with problems - doctors

Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Reuters UK
URL: 
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-03-05T053029Z_01_N01403001_RTRUKOC_0_UK-DRUGS-DOCTORS.xml

Meth battle sees new fronts

Location: 
WA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The News Tribune (WA)
URL: 
http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/6375741p-5687279c.html

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