Drug War Chronicle #531 - April 11, 2008

1. Editorial: Justice Unhinged

Once upon a time, a jury's acquittal was the final word for a defendant facing punishment. Thanks to the "war on drugs," that is no longer the case, and defendants can be punished for crimes of which they were never convicted or even acquitted. Sometimes the charges don't even need to go to court at all.

2. Beware the Dreaded Skunk: British Press Suffers Contact High, Contracts Bad Case of Reefer Madness

It's Reefer Madness time in Britain in the run-up to a widely anticipated reclassification of marijuana as a more serious drug. Segments of the British press are playing a particularly pernicious role.

3. Drugs, Libertarians, and the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Drug reformers interested in candidates who will vow to actually end the drug war will have to look beyond the Democratic and Republican presidential contenders. This week, we look at the Libertarians, and the perennial debate over pragmatism vs. purism.

4. Spring Special: "Stop the Drug War" Knapsacks from StoptheDrugWar.org

Help promote the Stop the Drug War cause by buying this new DRCNet membership premium and using it to carry around your books or other belongings for work, school, or wherever life takes you!

5. Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A sticky-fingered Pennsylvania cop causes a DA to drop some drug cases, a pill-pushing Massachusetts cop resigns, and an unnamed New Mexico narc is under investigation for undeclared misdeeds.

6. Sentencing: Supreme Court Passes on Chance to End Punishments for Acquitted Crimes

A federal judge in Wisconsin added 15 years to a man's sentence for a crack cocaine charge, even though a jury acquitted him on that count. Now, the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case.

7. Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Heads for House Floor Vote, Last Stop Before Governor's Desk

A Minnesota medical marijuana bill is headed for a House floor vote soon. It already passed the Senate last year, so is only one vote away from passage, but the Republican governor is threatening to veto it.

8. Pain Treatment: Prosecutors in Case Seek to Shut Up Doctor, Critics

Federal prosecutors had no qualms about going to the press when they indicted Haysville, Kansas, physician Dr. Steven Schneider for his pain medication prescribing practices. But it's a different matter when Schneider and his allies want to get their side of the story out. Now, the feds are seeking a gag order.

9. Southwest Asia: Iranian Police Kill 24 Drug Smugglers in "Shoot-Out"

In the latest battle in a decades-long struggle between Iranian police and border-crossing drug runners, Iran claims to have killed 24 smugglers coming from the direction of Afghanistan.

10. Latin America: Police in Rio Kill 11 in One Drug Raid, Three in Another

The endemic drug prohibition-related violence plaguing Rio de Janeiro turned even bloodier last week as police conducting drug raids killed 14 people.

11. Latin America: Mexican Catholic Church in Narco-Dollar Embarrassment

Mexican drug traffickers have provided money to build churches and other public works in poor villages, the head of the Mexican bishops' conference said over the weekend. His colleagues were appalled.

12. Death Penalty: More Death Sentences in Algeria, Syria, Pakistan, a Reprieve in Vietnam

Judges in Algeria, Pakistan, and Syria have handed down death sentences to drug offenders so far this month, some of them for marijuana trafficking offenses, but Vietnam's president commuted the death sentence of a Vietnamese-born British citizen. His three Vietnamese accomplices are still facing execution.

13. Weekly: This Week in History

Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.

14. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Clinton and Obama's Positions on Medical Marijuana Aren't Good Enough," "Bush and the Drug Czar Want You to Pay For the Mexican Drug War," "SWAT Officers Brought Children Along on a Drug Raid," "You Can't Win the Drug War if Alcohol is Legal," "You Have My Permission to Name a Marijuana Strain After Me," "Skunk Weed Causing Outbreaks of Mad Brit Disease."

15. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

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16. Students: Intern at DRCNet and Help Stop the Drug War!

Apply for an internship at DRCNet for this fall (or spring), and you could spend the semester fighting the good fight!

17. Job Listing: Full-Time and Internship Opportunities at the Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is looking for a Development Coordinator and a Development Writer, as well as summer interns to work in its Outreach and State Policies departments, all in the DC office.

18. Webmasters: Help the Movement by Running DRCNet Syndication Feeds on Your Web Site!

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20. Resource: Reformer's Calendar Accessible Through DRCNet Web Site

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Permission to Reprint: This issue of Drug War Chronicle is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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