psmith's blog

Home Town Bust

Huron, South Dakota, is nothing special. It's a town of about 12,000 people on the plains of Eastern South Dakota. The biggest employers are the meat packing houses, the railroad, and the hospital. It's nothing special, but it's my home town--as much as anyplace is. I grew up there, I have family there, I own property nearby. I don't spend a lot of time there, bu it's where I register to vote and where I register my vehicle. It's where I was sent to prison for nearly three years over a quarter-pound of marijuana. It holds a special place in my heart.

Location: 
Huron, SD
United States
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DEA Issues Policy Statements on Pain Management, Prescribing Practices

Here are the links to the two DEA policy statements. I tried pasting them into this blog, but that crashed it. Sorry about that.

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/pdf/E6-14517.pdf

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
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The Afghanistan Debacle

On Saturday, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released its estimate of the 2006 Afghan opium crop, and the numbers are astoundingly bad. According to the UNODCO, this year's crop is 60% larger than last year's and will yield an all-time record 6,100 tons of opium. Afghan opium will account for a whopping 92% of global illicit opium production.
Location: 
Afghanistan
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What's a Guy Gotta Do to Get Some Justice Around Here?

In 2003, Harrison County (Mississippi) Sheriff George Payne got a tip from a confidential informant (that's law-speak for "snitch") that marijuana plants were being grown on land leased to the Boarhog Hunting Club. Payne led a crew of lawman onto the property and chopped them all down, even though a field test on a sample plant didn't identify it as marijuana.
Location: 
MS
United States
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Looking at Louisiana's Heroin Lifers

During the research I did for Friday's feature article on the prisoners doing "Katrina time", two of the of the people I talked to implored to look into the plight of another set of victims of the Louisiana criminal justice system: the "heroin lifers."
Location: 
United States
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Doing "Katrina Time"

It has been a scandal festering for a year now. Thousands of people being held in the Orleans Parish Prison and other facilities when Hurricana Katrina hit a year ago today are still behind bars. They have never seen a judge or had a hearing. They just sit. While the rest of the local criminal justice apparatus is up and running, the courts remain a mess and most of the public defenders are gone.
Location: 
New Orleans, LA
United States
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Gilberto Gil is Still Making Beautiful Music -- This Time About Drug Legalization

Music lovers have long appreciated Brazilian composer and musician Gilberto Gil's enormous talent and his contributions to bossa nova, tropicalismo, and other uniquely Brazilian music forms. Of course, Gil was never just a musician; he and Caetano Veloso, another giant of Brazilian music, were imprisoned by the military dictatorship in 1969 for "anti-government activities," and the pair went to exile in London and the US after they were released.
Location: 
Brazil
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Fall is On the Way: It's Time for Football, the Changing of the Leaves, and...

helicopters over America. Yes, the time for the annual outdoor marijuana harvest draws near, and newspapers from Kentucky to California are full of stories about cops flying out to spy out the pot fields, rip up the crops, and bust the farmers.
Location: 
United States
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Poppy Scare in New Mexico!!

Posted in:
There was a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican this morning titled "Seized Poppies Perplex Officials" in which police raiding a marijuana plantation discoverd a tub full of poppies in the middle of the pot field. Despite a lack of clarity about whether the poppies in question were actually opium poppies (papaver somniferum), the cops consulted by the newspaper were ready to declare that the end times are upon us.
Location: 
NM
United States
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My South Dakota Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Research

Our article about the South Dakota medical marijuana initiative and the likely lawsuit against state Attorney General Larry Long over what initiative supporters contend is his biased and possibly illegal description of the initiative that will appear on the ballot, got bumped this week, but we expect it to happen next week. I held off for a couple of reasons: First, the lawsuit has yet to actually be filed. Second, I couldn't manage to make contact with South Dakotans for Safe Access sole spokeswoman Valerie Hannah until Friday morning. Hannah, a Gulf War veteran who suffers from nerve gas exposure, will fill me in on what's going on Monday.
Location: 
United States
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It's Aghanistan and England in the featured stories tomorrow

I wanted to do South Dakota and the lawsuit over the the medical marijuana initiative ballot language, but the lawsuit hasn't happened, and the appointed spokeswoman for the initiative hasn't returned my calls. I contacted the Senlis Council for some comment about increasing support for their opium licensing initiative. No response. Nada. I find these guys increasingly insufferable.
Location: 
United States
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The Ever-Changing Coming In the Chronicle This Week

So it goes. No word yet on either the South Dakota medical marijuana lawsuit or whether the Portland initiative made the ballot (although I'm hearing disquieting rumblings on the latter), which were going to be some of my features this week. So I'm now shifting gears and attempting to pull enough material together for two more probable features: The NATO takeover in southern Afghanistan (European politicians are beginning to murmur about the Senlis proposal as NATO troops start getting killed in larger numbers) and the call for a rational drug classification system in Britain.
Location: 
United States
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Coming in the Chronicle this week

I've been down with pneumonia, so I haven't talked to my sources yet this week, but I think I will be writing about a lawsuit filed against South Dakota's attorney general over the ballot summary language with which he is describing the state's medical marijuana initiative. And again, I await word from Portland on whether that city's "lowest law enforcement priority" initiative makes the ballot. I'm sure there is another story or two that'll break this week, and I've already got a bunch of other interesting items ready to go.
Location: 
United States
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Doing a story for the Oaksterdam News

It's the day the Chronicle is published, and, as my mother was always fond of telling me, there's no rest for the wicked. I'll be spending the afternoon writing a piece for the Oaksterdam News http://www.oaksterdamnews.com/ The Oaksterdam News wants its readers to know about the Drug War Chronicle, and we're certainly happy to help.
Location: 
United States
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Joint-Rolling Record Attempt Thwarted (France)

Posted in:
That's the headline of a story that appeared in Australia's Daily Telegraph. This is the sort of story that would never make the Chronicle, but is too good to pass up: Four French pot smokers get the bright idea of breaking the world's record for the longest joint . They were working on a four-foot, 70-gram doobie when they were caught short by a lack of tobacco.
Location: 
United States
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What is going on with the DEA and the San Diego medical marijuana dispensaries?

On Friday, the DEA returned to the more than a dozen dispensaries in San Diego raided a couple of weeks ago and warned them to shut their doors. For the Drug War Chronicle this week, I'll be looking into that and what it might mean across the state. I'm also waiting for the Portland "lowest law enforcement priority" initiative's signatures to be verified. I'll write about that this week if we get an official announcement.
Location: 
San Diego, CA
United States
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Medical Marijuana in South Dakota

South Dakota will vote on a medical marijuana initiative in November, and it looks like it will be an uphill battle. According to my sources within the campaign, the measure is not doing well in internal polling, but it is early. The campaign is laying low for now, but has already found a patient spokesperson and a former policeman as a spokesman. Bob Newland, South Dakota's "Mr. Marijuana," the hemp/pot/medical marijuan activist responsible for the initiative has agreed to keep a low profile, while MPP's experienced cadres run the show.
Location: 
SD
United States
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Holy Cow, They Busted Holy Smoke!

http://www.holysmoke.ca/ I wrote about the Holy Smoke bust for the Chronicle, but since it hits close to home, I have a little bit more to say about it. Holy Smoke is a Nelson, BC, head shop and activism hub. One of the owners, Paul DeFelice, was arrested last Saturday night and charged with marijuana and psilocybin distribution. Whatever was or wasn't sold at Holy Smoke, local police did nothing about it -- until now. DeFelice thinks the change has come because of the new conservative government of Prime Minister Harper. The Holy Smoke guys are dedicated activists, one of them is an attorney, and they look forward to challenging the marijuana laws again. Back in 1997, they humiliated local police when they tried to shut them down, and they look forward to doing it again.
Location: 
United States
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British Tabloids At It Again With More Reefer Madness

A fine example of yellow journalism appears in today's London Daily Mail. Citing increased marijuana arrests figures since the weed was downgraded from Class B to Class C, the Daily Mail headlines its story "Massive Explosion in Cannabis Possession," implying that use had somehow gone through the roof when it is actually police practices driving the numbers. "Cannabis crime has exploded," the Daily Mail hyperventilates, meaning more people are getting arrested. There is more of this crap at:
Location: 
United States
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Vancouver MP Leading Fight to Save Safe Injection Center

I spoke this morning with Vancouver East Member of Parliament Libby Davies for an article I'll publish Friday on the effort to ensure that Health Canada continues the exemption for INSITE, the safe injection site. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper is hinting it wants to shut the whole thing down, and Davies says she is "concerned" but hopeful Harper will retreat in the face of strong local support and good, solid evidence it is working. Donald McPherson of Vancouvers drug policy office told me yesterday the city is also strongly behind it. I suspect Vancouver Coastal Health will say the same thing when I speak to them. We could all take a lesson from the way Vancouver mobilizes for drug reform.
Location: 
United States
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