Drug War Chronicle #575 - March 6, 2009

1. Feature: New York Assembly Passes Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Bill -- Fight Moves to the Senate

More than 35 years after their passage, New York's Rockefeller drug laws appear to be on their last legs. But it's not a done deal yet, and the battle over what the final reform package will look like continues in Albany.

2. Feature: Citing Startling Research on False Positive Drug Tests, Researchers Call for Moratorium on Field Drug Test Kit Testing

Those field drug test kits police use to test for the presence of illegal drugs are so unreliable they should be banned, researchers said Tuesday. A Hershey's candy bar, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, and Tylenol are just a few of the common items that generate false positives. Air was another.

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

It's jail and prison guards gone wild this week, and a veteran California cop whose pill problem got the best of him.

4. Race: Blacks Arrested on Drug Charges in Wildly Disproportionate Numbers, Rights Group Charges

Observers of the drug war have long known about its racial disparities, but a new report from Human Rights Watch makes them glaringly obvious.

5. Incarceration: Too Many Americans Behind Bars at Too High a Cost, Says Pew Study

The Pew Center on the States has released a report noting that 1 in 31 Americans is either in jail or prison or on probation or parole. Although two-thirds of them are probationers or parolees, it is prisons that are gobbling up the corrections budget. That needs to change, the report said.

6. Salvia Divinorum: Possession -- But Not Sale -- Now Banned in South Dakota

South Dakota has become the 14th state to ban salvia divinorum, based on little more than YouTube videos and the fear that somebody somewhere might be getting high for a few minutes.

7. Search and Seizure: EFF, ACLU Ask Federal Appeals Court to Reject Warrantless GPS Tracking

When investigating a DC area cocaine dealer, police installed a GPS tracking device on his vehicle without bothering to obtain a search warrant. Now two leading civil liberties groups are urging a DC appeals court to rule such actions a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

8. Medical Marijuana: On the Move in Minnesota as Second Senate Committee Gives Okay

The effort to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota is taking up where it left off last year. A bill has now passed two Senate committees, and action in the House is expected shortly. But the Republican governor is still threatening to veto it.

9. Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Advances With Favorable House Committee Vote

An Illinois House committee has narrowly approved a medical marijuana bill. Now it's on to the next votes.

10. Latin America: Mexican Troops Occupy Ciudad Juárez, US Officials Urge Greater Cooperation in Fight Against Cartels

Some 7,500 Mexican soldiers are flooding into Ciudad Juárez in a bid to blunt prohibition-related violence that has left about 2,000 people dead there since January 2008. Meanwhile, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff is headed to Mexico for talks on increased cooperation between the two neighbors.

11. Europe: Dutch Mayors Say Border Coffee Shops to Close in Bid to Stifle Drug Tourism

The influx to Dutch border towns with cannabis coffee shops of tens of thousands of Europeans each week from countries with more repressive cannabis policies has led to myriad problems in those border towns. Now, mayors of two of them say they will simply shut them down.

12. Weekly: This Week in History

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

13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

If Obama Supports Medical Marijuana, What About Hemp?," "Field Tests for Identifying Drugs Are Proven Wildly Inaccurate," "SWAT Raids on Innocent People are Bad," "How Come the Dutch Smoke Less Marijuana Than Americans?," "California DMV Agrees to Let Medical Marijuana Patients Drive," "Maybe a Quirky Folk Song Will Lead to Marijuana Legalization...," "Mexican President Surprised to Learn That the Drug War is Super Violent," "Man Uses Fake Money to Buy Fake Drugs," "Former Drug Warrior Now Lives With his Parents."

14. Students: Intern at StoptheDrugWar (DRCNet) and Help Stop the Drug War!

Apply for an internship at DRCNet and you could spend a semester fighting the good fight!

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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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