psmith's blog

Monitoring the Future Annual Report Warns of Prescription Drug Use

The annual Monitoring the Future survey of drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders was released Thursday. The news is mixed, the researchers report. Here's the opening of their press release:
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United States
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Heading Down South America Way

Very early on January 12, I will board a plane in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and that night I will be sleeping in a hotel in downtown Lima, Peru. That will be the first of 21 nights in the Drug War Chronicle's Coca Tour 2007, which will take me deep into the indigenous Andean coca heartland (but not to Colombia, where, for the most part, coca production is not tied to ancient tradition but to the global cocaine market).
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United States
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The Best and Worst of 2006?

The year is coming to an end, and it is time to look back at 2006. What did we achieve? What did we fail to achieve? What were the highlights and lowlights for drug policy reform this year? I'm thinking I'll make a pair of feature articles out of this and I hereby invite you to submit your nominations for the best and worst of the year. They can be events, they can be trends...
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United States
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The Drug Czar Has Another Brilliant Idea

Afghanistan is in flames. The Taliban are resurgent. The opium economy provides livelihoods for millions of Afghans. And now, US drug czar John Walters announces over the weekend, that Afghanistan will begin spraying the poppy fields with glyphosate, the same stuff we've been using with such great success in Colombia against the coca crops. (After six years of Plan Colombia spraying, the coca crop in Colombia is about the same size it was when we started.)
Location: 
Kabul
Afghanistan
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Readers, Thanks for Your Help. Keep Those Corrupt Cop Story Tips Coming!

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On Friday, I blogged about how for the first time in years I hadn't run a "This Week's Corrupt Cops" piece because I couldn't find any stories. The response has been most gratifying, with several of you sending stories I hadn't seen my way via the blog.
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United States
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What Will a Democratic Congress Mean for Drug Reform?

One of the articles I'm working on this week will be called "Drug Reform and the Democratic Congress: What's Really Going to Happen?" I've already talked to a number of inside the beltway drug reform types--the folks who actually work the halls of Congress--and I've got feelers out to more, as well as to the offices of several of the congressional Democrats who will be chairing key committees.
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United States
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Readers, I need your help! Where are the corrupt cops?

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Some of you have undoubtedly noticed that the long-running "This Week's Corrupt Cops" feature was missing this week. That's because I didn't have any stories for it. Now, it may have been because there was no corrupt cop news in the past week, but I find that hard to believe given the outstanding record our police have built up over the years.
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United States
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Latest on Atlanta Police Killing of Elderly Woman in Drug Raid

The killing of an elderly Atlanta woman after she shot and wounded three undercover policemen during a nighttime drug raid just might end up shedding some much needed light on the sordid business that is drug law enforcement in these United States. What we're seeing so far is not exactly a shining endorsement of the Atlanta Police Department's REDDOG (Run Every Drug Dealer Out of Georgia) drug squad or what looks to be the mindless search warrant machinery of the Fulton County courts. Just today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which deserves kudos for being all over this travesty, reported that the snitch on whose word the warrant was based now says he never bought drugs at Johnston's address, and the narcs involved in the raid asked him to lie about it after the fact.
Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
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Is It Time for Direct Action to Shut Down DEA Headquarters?

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One of the nice things about coming to Washington is more stimulating dinner discussions than I'm accustomed to out in the boondocks. Last night, I had the chance to have dinner with a couple very well-versed in both drug policy reform and mass protests agitating. As conversation turned to what can be done about the drug war, one of them suggested it was time to crank it up a bit, and he had a very concrete suggestion: a direction action protest to surround and shut down DEA headquarters in suburban Arlington, Virginia.
Location: 
Arlington, VA
United States
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SSDP Conference Invigorates and Educates Students and Non-Students Alike

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The Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) conference in Washington, DC saw its third and final day, and it was a rousing weekend for drug reformers. About 300 student activists from around the country showed up for a weekend of lobbying, strategizing, and setting the direction of the organization for the near term.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
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Heading to DC for SSDP!

After five longs days incommunicado in darkest Dakota, I am crawling out of my cave and heading for the East Coast to check out the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) conference this weekend in Washington. It takes a lot to draw this High Plains drifter to the big city, but the SSDP conference looks to be worth it.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
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I'm sick and tired of begging my fellow citizens to not throw me in jail...

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...because I might smoke something of which they don't approve. Imprisoning people for drug use or possession is a violation of fundamental human rights, and I don't give a rat's ass what the law says. The US government and the governments of all the states are committing massive human rights violations with their drugs policies, and those Good Germans who allow it to continue are complicit.
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United States
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Looking Bad for the Statewide Marijuana Initiatives

It's just after 1AM Eastern time, and it looks like the Colorado, Nevada, and South Dakota marijuana initiatives are all headed for defeat. It ain't over 'til it's over, of course, but it's almost over.
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United States
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Let's Not Forget Massachusetts

In our list of drug policy-related ballot issues last Friday, we neglected to mention Massachusetts. Voters in one district there will be voting on whether to instruct their representative to favor marijuana decriminalization, while voters in two other districts will be voting on whether to instruct their representatives to support medical marijuana. These local questions continue a process that began with the 2000 elections and have so far resulted in more than 420,000 Bay State residents voting to support marijuana law reform. Here is the info on the Massachusetts races:
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MA
United States
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Coming Down to the Wire in Nevada and Colorado

We're getting down to the final days of this election season, and we're waiting with bated breath for that first marijuana legalization victory in Colorado and/or Nevada. I'll be doing a feature story on these two races on Friday for the Chronicle. I have calls in to both campaigns, but for some reason, these folks appear to be pretty busy right now. Although I was hoping to have something to report today direct from SAFER Colorado and/or theCommittee to Regulate and Control Marijuana in Nevada, neither has gotten back to me yet.
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United States
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The Cartels Are Coming, the Cartels Are Coming! (Or A New Meme Emerges)

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No, not the Colombian cartels and not the Mexican cartels. Last week, law enforcement officials in two different federal drug cases on different ends of the country used the word "cartel" to describe local drug trafficking organizations. I'm not aware of previous usages of the word to describe such domestic groups, and I have to wonder if we're not seeing the orchestrated emergence of new meme from the drug warriors.
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United States
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13,000 Joints

That's what a South Dakota sheriff just told me you could get from one marijuana plant. Hmmm, if a joint is somewhere between one-half gram and one gram, that comes to somewhere between 6,500 and 13,000 grams, or 15 to 30 pounds.
Location: 
SD
United States
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Third-Party Candidacies vs. Voting for the Lesser Evil

Last week's < a href="" target=_blank_>feature article on the Zeese and Thornton campaigns (Zeese is running for US Senate in a tight race in Maryland and Thornton is running for governor of Connecticut—links in the article) included a discussion between Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance and Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation on the possible benefits and liabilities of third-party campaigns. That discussion provoked a lengthier (and continuing) exchange on a nomination-only list for leading drug policy reformers, and I think it should be a topic of serious discussion here among the unwashed masses as well. Both Thornton, running as a Green, and Zeese, running a "unity" campaign as the Green-Libertarian-Populist nominee, have clearly rejected the clarion call of the two-party system. From a pragmatic perspective, the fundamental question is whether working outside the two major parties will bring success on drug policy reform faster than attempting to bring either of the two major parties (most likely the Democrats, given the Republicans' social conservative base and penchant for the "war on" metaphor) around to a palatable position on the issue. For some reformers, defeating the Republicans is everything. What if Zeese pulls enough votes from the Democrat to throw the Maryland senate race to the Republicans and—nightmare scenario—the Republicans keep the Senate by one seat? There will be much howling and gnashing of teeth among Democratic loyalists, just as there was after the 2000 presidential elections, when much of the party faithful blamed Ralph Nader for costing Al Gore the White House. Zeese and Thornton and their supporters will undoubtedly—and fairly—respond that they are not beholden to the Democratic Party and are as entitled to seek peoples' votes as either the donkeys or the elephants. Besides, again echoing the post-2000 discussion, they will say, there's not that much difference between the two major parties. I guess that's a matter of perspective. If you look at the broad contours of drug policy, there is a broad, bipartisan consensus on the status quo. From that viewpoint, Democrats are no better than Republicans on drug policy. A particularly progressive congressional Democrat might work toward a kinder, gentler drug war, perhaps sponsoring a bill that reduces the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, for instance, but none are saying we need to do away with the peculiar institution of drug prohibition in its entirety. But coming in for a closer look, there are significant differences between the two parties when it comes to nibbling away at the edges of the drug war. The congressional votes on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the use of federal funds to raid medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, and the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision both show Democrats much more likely to favor such reform at the margins. Is that difference enough to make independent or third-party campaigns that may weaken the Democrats a mistake? I'm not going to try to answer that question right now. Instead, I invite our readers to weigh in, and I hope that will include some of the people who have been discussing this already. Is Zeese a menace or a messiah? Is Thornton dashing after windmills or leading the way to a new politics? You tell us. (This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
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The Deputy Drug Czar Comes to South Dakota

Scott Burns, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota's largest city, on Friday. The only apparent reason for his presence was to try to defeat the medical marijuana initiative on the November 7 ballot.
Location: 
Sioux Falls, SD
United States
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Doing "Ant Work" on the Drug War With Mainstream Press Reporters

When I read the autobiography of 20th Century Salvadoran revolutionary leader Miguel Marmol some years ago, one phrase from the book stuck with me. When Marmol talked about the tedious, day-to-day organizing over the long-term to build a revolutionary movement, he called it "trabajo de hormigas," or "ant work." I thought the term was especially apt and evocative, suggesting the unglamorous, but necessary, laying the groundwork for change.
Location: 
CA
United States
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Drug War Issues

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