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Drug War Chronicle #591 - June 26, 2009

1. Feature: American Nightmare -- Will Foster and Justice, Oklahoma Style

When he got a 93-year sentence for a small medical marijuana grow in Oklahoma, Will Foster became a poster child for drug war abuses. A national campaign helped free him, and he headed for the friendlier climes of northern California, which released him from parole after three years. But Oklahoma wants him back, and now Foster has been in jail in California for the past 15 months fighting extradition. He needs your help.

2. Feature: UN Drug Czar Attacks Legalizers -- Legalizers Say "It's About Time"

As the United Nations issues its annual World Drugs Report, UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa finally notices his anti-prohibitionist critics and fights back. The critics are glad to engage. More importantly, Costa's attack signals that the legalization movement is gaining momentum.

3. Feature: Ending the Death Penalty for Drug Offenses -- Now Is the Time, Say Human Rights, Harm Reduction Groups

At least 16 Asian nations and an equal number of others, including the US, apply the death penalty to certain drug offenses. It's time for that to stop, said human rights and harm reduction organizations, and they are using UN anti-drug day to pressure both the international community and offending countries to act now.

4. Drug Raids: Maryland Sheriff Clears Department in SWAT Assault on Mayor's Home -- Mayor Sues Sheriff, Seeks Restrictions on SWAT

A Prince Georges County, Maryland, SWAT team raided a mayor's house last summer, shot his two dogs, and manhandled the mayor and his mother-in-law because they thought they were marijuana traffickers. They weren't, and the cops have acknowledged as much. Now the county sheriff has investigated the incident and concluded his boys did nothing wrong. The mayor disagrees -- and he's going to court.

5. Sentencing: Attorney General Calls for Elimination of Crack-Powder Cocaine Disparity

With movement to reduce or end the sentencing disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine offenses growing, the Obama administration has come down firmly in favor of eliminating the disparity altogether.

6. Search and Seizure: Strip Search of Junior High Girl for Drugs Unconstitutional, Supreme Court Rules

There has been some concern that the US Supreme Court would let an Arizona school district get away with strip-searching a junior high school girl while looking for some ibuprofen tablets. It didn't.

7. Marijuana: Barney Frank Introduces Federal Decriminalization Bill

You go, Barney! Congressman Barney Frank has introduced a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to nearly a quarter-pound of marijuana and the not-for-profit distribution of up to an ounce. It's a start.

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

More drug corruption in Philly, more fallout from the Kathryn Johnston killing in Atlanta, and yet another crooked border guard.

9. Medical Marijuana: Revised New Hampshire Bill Passes Legislature, Awaits Governor's Approval

Attempting to appease the opposition of Democratic Gov. John Lynch, the New Hampshire legislature has approved a medical marijuana bill that forbids patients from growing their own -- they would have to go to a "compassion center." Will that be enough to satisfy the governor?

10. Latin America: Coca Cultivation, Cocaine Production Down Last Year, UNODC Says

Coca and cocaine production are down slightly in South America, thanks largely to Colombia's continuing manual and aerial eradication campaigns, the UN reports. But despite the billions spent to suppress the trade, a gram of coke now costs about half of what it did 20 years ago.

11. East Asia: Korean Actress Stirs Debate, Outrage By Calling for Marijuana Legalization

South Korean authorities and public opinion take a hard line toward marijuana, so when a leading actress speaks out for legalization, the outrage is palpable.

12. Alert: Medical Marijuana Defendant Bryan Epis Wants YOU to Take Political Action

Bryan Epis was the first medical marijuana provider to be prosecuted by the federal government, and he is one of dozens of people whose fate is still caught up in the federal system despite recent policy shifts by the Obama administration. Bryan is asking all of us to take action to help those who have risked much to help patients.

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

"LEAP Confronts the Drug Czar at a Press Conference," "Supreme Court Upholds Fourth Amendment in Strip Search Case," "United Nations Argues for Decriminalization," "United Nations Admits That Drug Legalization is Gaining Support," "You Don't Need Drug Laws to Punish People Who Steal," "Police Raid Innocent Elderly Couple, Blame It on the Weather," "Police Applaud Themselves for Raiding Innocent People and Killing Dogs," "Marijuana Debate on CNN," "Is DEA Illegally Forcing Agents to Serve in Afghanistan?"

15. 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.

16. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

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17. Students: Intern at (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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