Drug War Chronicle #595 - July 24, 2009

1. Feature: Winds of Change Are Blowing in Washington -- Drug Reforms Finally Move in Congress

As Congress approaches its August recess, it's time to take a look at the fate of drug reform legislation under the Democrats. No bills have reached the president's desk just yet, but the prospects are impressive on a number of key fronts.

2. Feature: Colorado Medical Marijuana Supporters Defeat Effort to Restrict Caregivers, Dispensaries

Medical marijuana supporters in Colorado won a major victory Monday night as the state Board of Health voted down a Department of Public Health and Environment proposal that would have strictly defined caregivers and limited them to providing for no more than five patients.

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

Drug war-related corruption extends beyond cops and deputies, and this week is a good example. We've got a federal probation agent in trouble, a US Navy police officer in trouble, a prosecutor heading for prison, as well as a crooked narc and an Ecstasy-dealing deputy. Unusually, what we don't have this week is a dope-smuggling prison guard.

4. Sentencing: House Subcommittee Approves Reducing Federal Crack Cocaine Penalties

What a difference control of Congress makes! For years, pressure has been building to redress the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Now, finally, a bill that would do that is moving in the House, and while it's a Democratic bill it's getting strong bipartisan support. Things are looking good in the Senate too.

5. Financial Aid: House Committee Lightens Up on Students with Drug Possession Convictions

The Higher Education Act's infamous "Aid Elimination Penalty," or anti-drug provision, the brainchild of Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder, just got slimmed down as a House committee Tuesday voted to restrict its application only to students convicted of selling drugs, not those convicted simply of drug possession.

6. ONDCP: Drug Czar Again Reveals Shocking Gap in Vocabulary, Knowledge Base

Spoken like a true drug czar -- Gil Kerlikowske does his best John Walters impression and succeeds pretty well.

7. Afghanistan: US War Planes Bomb the Hell Out of a Bunch of Poppy Seeds

The US war on opium poppy production in Afghanistan turned literal Tuesday when US war planes attacked and destroyed a giant pile of poppy seeds in Helmand province. That'll show those seeds!

8. Medical Marijuana: Oakland Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensary Tax

Oakland's medical marijuana dispensaries asked the voters to tax them, and the voters said "Okay." A measure creating a first-of-its-kind special business tax on medical marijuana sellers passed by a lopsided margin in pot-friendly Oakland.

9. Law Enforcement: New York Man Wins Settlement in Forced Body Cavity Search Suit

Albany, New York, sheriff's deputies suspected Tunde Clement was carrying drugs when he got off a bus from New York City in March 2006. They searched his backpack. Nothing. They strip-searched him. Nothing. Then the took him to a hospital, forcibly sedated him, and shoved a camera up his butt. Now, the county and the hospital are paying for their misdeeds.

10. Marijuana: Cook County Board Passes Decriminalization Ordinance, But Veto Possibility Looms

Could decriminalization be coming to Chicagoland? The Cook County Board has approved it, but the Board president is making noises like he may veto it.

11. Europe: British Prisons Install Methadone Vending Machines

You've heard of medical marijuana vending machines in Los Angeles, right? Well, the UK one-ups LA with methadone vending machines in its prisons.

12. Remembrance: Walter Cronkite on the Drug War

The trusted and beloved news anchor spoke out about more than one war in his lifetime.

13. Weekly: This Week in History

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

14. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we need your feedback to evaluate our work and make the case for Drug War Chronicle to funders. We need donations too.

15. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Obama's Drug Czar Says Marijuana Is Dangerous and Isn't Medicine," "How Bush's Drug Czar Fooled the Media and the American People," "Apple's New Marijuana Feature for iPhone is a Smart Business Move," "Undercover Cop Arrested for Selling Drugs to an Undercover Cop," "New York Times Struggles With Marijuana Addiction," "Congressional Drug Warriors Huddle in the Corner, Plot Comeback," "Tax Us: Oakland Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensary Tax -- Dispensaries Supported It," "Patients Defeat Effort to Restrict Medical Marijuana in Colorado," "Colorado Hearing on Proposed Medical Marijuana Caregiver Restrictions Going on Now -- You Can Listen In," "Breaking: House Subcommittee Votes to Reduce Crack Cocaine Penalties to Powder Cocaine Level," "Breaking: House Committee Votes to Eliminate Financial Aid Loss Penalty for Drug Possessors," "Walter Cronkite on the Drug War."

16. 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!

17. Job Opportunity, Executive Director, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, Washington

The Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative is hiring a new executive director. IDPI mobilizes religious denominations and organizations, clergy, and other people of faith to promote drug policy reform proposals under serious current consideration in Congress and the states, while building public support for replacing drug prohibition with reasonable regulation.
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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