Philippines Proposes Death Sentence for Ecstasy, LSD Possession 2/15/02

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Under a bill championed by Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon and sponsored by the chairman of the senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, Sen. Robert Barbers, possession of as little as ten grams of ecstasy (MDMA) would bring either life in prison or a death sentence. Other so-called club drugs, such as PMA and GHB, are included, and so is "lysergic acid diethlyamine (LSD)," which the measure includes in its list of club drugs.

The proposed Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 would also halve the amount of methamphetamine it would take to trigger a life or death sentence, from 200 grams under current law to 100 grams, or less than four ounces. Prescribed limits for other illicit drugs, such as opium, heroin, cocaine and marijuana were similarly reduced, Drilon told the Visayan Daily Star (Dumaguete City) on Monday.

Marijuana is widely cultivated in the archipelago, according to the US State Department's most recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, but methamphetamine, known locally as shabu, has emerged as Philippine authorities' primary concern. Last year, the National Drug Law Enforcement and Prevention Coordinating Center estimated the number of shabu users at 2.2 million out of a total population of nearly 80 million, and the country has seen an increasingly hysterical response to the drug's popularity. The pending legislation is the latest manifestation of that response.

The bill would also create a Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency modeled on the US DEA, said Drilon. Drilon last week accepted as a friendly amendment a proposal by Sen. Noli de Castro, which would allow local authorities to padlock for a year any business or residence in which at least two drug transactions had taken place. And Drilon said another provision of the bill would ensure that the destruction of confiscated drugs would take place within 24 hours. "There have been cases where seized drugs get lost or are stolen by some scalawags in the police force," he explained. "We want to ensure that seized drugs are not recycled in the market."

The effort to get a hard-line drug bill passed is not a new one. Sen. Barber introduced essentially the same bill two years ago, vowing to make drug use "a thing of the past." At that time, the legislation stalled, but even then officials were playing the terrorism card, accusing Abu Sayyef rebels (linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network) of participation in the drug trade.

"The illegal drugs menace is now considered public enemy No. 1 all over the world and poses a grave threat to our country's national security. It has alarmingly penetrated almost all sectors and levels of society including the government, business, and even law enforcement agencies, and it may only take a little more time before the Philippines becomes another Colombia," Barbers told the Manila Spectator at the time.

Now it will be even easier to play the terror card to win converts to a repressive drug bill.

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Issue #224, 2/15/02 Feds Raid San Francisco Medical Marijuana Operations, City Officials Join Angry Protests as DEA Head Speaks Same Day | Genesis of the 6th Street Raid: Business as Usual for the DEA, Plus Help from Within | Philippines Proposes Death Sentence for Ecstasy, LSD Possession | Jamaica: Ganja Decrim Goes to Parliament | Half of Governor Johnson's Drug Reform Package Passes as Brief New Mexico Legislative Session Ends | Bolivian Government Signs Agreement With Coca Growers | Flood of Caribbean Drug Mules Overwhelming European Authorities | Marco Pannella Acquitted on Hashish Civil Disobedience Charge | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, Virginia | The Reformer's Calendar

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