Drug War Chronicle #589 - June 12, 2009

1. Feature: In Bold Step Backward, Canadian House of Commons Passes Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing Bill

The Canadian House of Commons voted Monday to adopt US-style mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, including small-time marijuana grows. The only chance to defeat the measure now lies with the Canadian Senate, an unelected body not generally known for second-guessing the House.

2. Feature: The Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy -- More, Better Drug War?

The Obama administration used an Albuquerque press conference to unveil and tout its latest proposals for dealing with Mexico's drug trafficking organizations and the prohibition-related violence around them, but is it anything other than more of the same old same old?

3. Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre," by Richard Grant (2008, Free Press, 288 pp., $15.00 PB)

These days, the treasure of the Sierra Madre isn't gold, but pot and opium. And nobody down there seems to feel like they need any stinking badges, not even the cops. In "God's Middle Finger," journalist Richard Grant takes a wild trip through the cordillera. Tired of dry old books about drug policy? Try this one for a change of pace.

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

It never ends. Another week of greedy jail guards and thieving policemen. This whole cops robbing drug dealers thing is getting kind of old, too.

5. Medical Marijuana: House Appropriations Committee Asks for Clarification of Federal Stance on Raids

At the request of Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the House Appropriations Committee has added language to the Justice Department appropriations bill asking the Obama administration to clarify its stance on DEA raids on medical marijuana providers in states where it is legal.

6. Medical Marijuana: California Dispensary Operator Charles Lynch Sentenced to a Year and a Day, Remains Free Pending Appeal

In a hangover from the Clinton and Bush administrations' war against medical marijuana, California dispensary operator Charles Lynch was sentenced to a year and a day in prison Thursday. That was well below the mandatory minimum five-year sentence required by federal law, and Lynch remains free on appeal, but advocates say he should not have been punished at all.

7. Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island Dispensary Bill Passes with Veto-Proof Margins

Rhode Island is about to become the third medical marijuana state to authorize its distribution through dispensaries after a bill passed both houses with veto-proof majorities.

8. Harm Reduction: Overdose Prevention Bill Introduced, Study Released

Drug overdoses -- both licit and illicit -- are the second leading cause of accidental death for adults in the US. Now, a member of Congress wants to do something about it, and the Drug Policy Alliance has some ideas.

9. Tough Times: California Protests Over HIV/AIDS Budget Cuts -- Needle Exchange Funding at Risk, Prop. 36 Funding to Vanish

In a bid to deal with the state's gargantuan budget deficit, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut funding for HIV/AIDS programs and Proposition 36 treatment programs. Protests over the former broke out this past week in cities across the state.

10. Sentencing: Poll Finds Public Open to Probation, Diversion Instead of Hard Time for Drug Possession, Other Nonviolent Offenses

More than a quarter of American adults polled in a recent survey don't think simple drug possessors need to go to jail. That's a start.

11. Prohibition: Republican Senator Calls for Outlawing Tobacco

As the Senate debated the FDA tobacco regulation bill it approved yesterday, one Republican senator called his colleagues hypocrites and urged them to support an outright ban. Was it just posturing?

12. Please: Don't Shoot!

The killing of Tarika Wilson, an unarmed mother holding her child, and the maiming of that child, is an inevitable consequences of the overuse of SWAT teams and the growing paramilitarization of the drug war.

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

"Charlie Lynch Sentenced to Jail for Medical Marijuana," "Rhode Island Senate Votes to Open Medical Marijuana Dispensaries," "Wrong Door Drug Raids Are No Laughing Matter," "Congress Calls on DOJ to Better Explain Medical Marijuana Policy," "No More $$$ = No More Prisons," "Khat Is a Harmless Plant. So Why is DC Trying to Prohibit It?," "Holder Renews Pledge to Respect Medical Marijuana Laws," "Drug War Robots Are Not the Answer," "Bad Cops Caught on Camera," "Canadian House Passes Anti-Crime Bill with Mandatory Minimums for Pot, Other Drug Offenses."

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

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