Drug War Chronicle #634 - May 28, 2010

1. Feature: Reining in SWAT -- Towards Effective Oversight of Paramilitary Police Units

Dead kids, dead dogs, broken doors, broken windows... what can we do to rein in those SWAT teams? There are answers.

2. Feature: Jamaica Rocked As Kingston Drug Gangs Fight Police and Army -- At Least 73 Dead

This week's outbreak of violence between supporters of a drug gang leader and Jamaican police and soldiers in the Kingston slum neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens reveals not only the weakness of the Jamaican state, but also some usually obscure links between politicians and the underworld.

3. Marijuana: Canada's "Prince of Plot" Pleads Guilty, Accepts Five-Year Prison Sentence

Canadian marijuana activist and entrepreneur Marc Emery has now begun a journey toward freedom that will most likely take him five years to complete. He pleaded guilty in Seattle Monday.

4. The Border: Obama to Send 1,200 National Guard Troops in Bid to Fight Drugs

In what is most likely a bid to blunt a campaign issue -- border security -- for Republicans in this year's off-year elections, the Obama administration is sending more than a thousand troops to the Southwestern border.

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

Oh, lord, where to begin? The tweaker deputy sheriff stealing his supply from the evidence room? The sticky-fingered narc who got stung? The cop so cozy with his informant he was providing her with drugs he stole from his own wife? There's all that and more, this week -- including, of course, a crooked jail guard.

6. Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

In Mexico, the killing continues with no end in sight. Here's the latest rundown.

7. Sentencing: Penalties for Some Colorado Drug Possession Decrease Under New Law

In a bid to save money and be smarter on crime, Colorado has enacted a package of bills that, among other things, will reduce some drug use and possession sentences, allow greater judicial flexibility in sentencing, and keep some technical parole violators from being sent back to prison. But the package also increases some drug sales and manufacturing sentences.

8. Public Opinion: Support for Legalizing and Taxing Marijuana at 49% in Colorado, Rasmussen Poll Finds

It looks like marijuana legalization is about as popular in Colorado as it is in California. A new Rasmussen poll has pot doing better than any of the state's gubernatorial or US Senate candidates.

9. Synthetic Cannabinoids: Georgia Becomes Latest State to Ban K2

Products like Spice and K2 that contain a synthetic cannabinoid that gets you kind of high have only appeared in the US in about the last year, but a number of states have already acted to ban them. Georgia is the latest.

10. Europe: Scottish Attitudes toward Drugs, Drug Users Harsh and Getting Harsher, Annual Poll Finds

Harm reductionists and drug reformers in Scotland have their work cut out for them, according to an annual national survey released this week. Support for marijuana legalization has declined dramatically, and attitudes toward heroin users are harsh, leading to declining public support for harm reduction.

11. Weekly: This Week in History

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

12. Appeal: 2010 is Important in Drug Policy -- And So Are You

2010 is a critical year in the effort to end prohibition and the war on drugs. The StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) "Changing Minds, Changing Laws, Changing Lives" campaign is asking for you to pitch in -- your support is more important now than it has ever been before!

13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Vote for Legalization on Republican Online Forum," "More Proof That Marijuana Doesn't Make You Go Crazy," "Obama's Drug War Hypocrisy," "Cops Steal Money from 9-Year-Old Girl in Crazy Marijuana Raid," "Police Cut Down 400 Pot Plants, Then Realize It's Not Marijuana."

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. 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!

1. Feature: Reining in SWAT -- Towards Effective Oversight of Paramilitary Police Units

As is periodically the case, law enforcement SWAT teams have once again come under the harsh gaze of a public outraged and puzzled by their excesses. First, it was the February SWAT raid on a Columbia, Missouri, home where police shot two dogs, killing one, as the suspect, his wife, and young son cowered. Police said they were looking for a dealer-sized stash of marijuana, but found only a pipe with residues. When police video of that raid hit the Internet and went viral this month, the public anger was palpable, especially in Columbia.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/contracostaswat.jpg
SWAT team, Contra Costa County, California
Then came a botched SWAT raid in Georgia -- not a forced entry, but otherwise highly aggressive, and directed at the wrong building -- that left a 76-year-old woman hospitalized with a heart attack.

And then came the tragedy in Detroit two weeks ago, where a member of a Detroit Police SWAT team killed seven-year-old Aiyana Jones as she slept on a living room couch. Allegedly, the officer had a tussle with the girl's grandmother as he charged through the door after a flash-bang grenade was thrown through the window, and the gun discharged accidentally, though the account has been disputed by the family's attorney. In this instance, police were not looking for drugs but for a murder suspect. He was later found in another apartment in the same house. Again, the public dismay and anger was palpable.

Botched (wrong address or wrong person) raids or raids where it appears excessive force has been used are certainly not a new phenomenon, as journalist Radley Balko documented in his 2006 study, "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Policing in America." But most raids gone bad do not get such wide public or media attention.

The victims often are poor, or non-white, or both. Or -- worse yet -- they are criminal suspects, who generally generate little sympathy, even when they are abused.

And while they were originally created to handle very special problems -- terrorist incidents, hostage situations, and the like -- there just aren't that many of those. As a result the use of SWAT has seen "mission creep," where SWAT teams are now routinely called out to serve search warrants, particularly in drug cases. In 1980, 2,884 SWAT deployments were recorded nationwide; the number today is estimated by experts at 50,000 annually or more.

The sheer normality of SWAT teams doing drug raids now, as well the status of their victims, has resulted in effective immunity and impunity for SWAT teams that commit errors or engage in unnecessary force. Most of the time when a raid goes bad, nothing happens.

It seems to take an especially outrageous incident, like Columbia or Detroit, to inspire public concern, and even then, it is the citizenry and perhaps part of elected officialdom against the powerful law enforcement establishment. Creating effective oversight over SWAT teams and their paramilitary raids is not easy -- but it can be done, or at least started.

The now infamous 2008 raid on the home of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo by a Prince Georges County Police SWAT team is a case in point. In that raid, police were tracking a package they knew contained marijuana, and once it was delivered to Calvo's house and taken inside, the SWAT team rushed in, manhandled Calvo and his mother-in-law and shot and killed Calvo's two dogs.

But further investigation showed the Calvos were doubly victimized, not criminals. They were victims of drug dealers who would send packages to unknowing addresses, then pick them up after they were left by the delivery man. And they were the victims of a SWAT team run amok.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/pasadenaswat.jpg
SWAT team, Pasadena, Texas
But Prince Georges SWAT hit the wrong guy when it Calvo's house, and not just because Calvo and his mother-in-law and his dogs were innocent victims. Calvo was not just an upstanding member of the community -- he was the mayor of his town. And beyond that, his former day job with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) gave him both personal connections to legislators and the knowledge to work the system.

Prodded by Calvo and others, the Maryland legislature last year passed a bill making it the first state to make any attempt to rein in SWAT. That bill requires each agency with a SWAT team to file annual reports detailing their activities and the results of their raids. The effort was opposed by law enforcement, of course, but legislators were swayed by hours of gut-wrenching testimony from raid victims.

"It was the telling of the stories of a number of people who had suffered either botched or ill-advised raids," Calvo explained to Drug War Chronicle. "It happens so often, and the stories don't get told in a meaningful way, but my incident made such wide headlines that people called me reaching out, and once those circles developed, we were able to get some political momentum," he recalled.

"I happened to be in a unique position," he said. "Through my experience at NCSL, I knew a lot of legislators and worked with the Judiciary Committee in Maryland to get a bill drafted. When we had hearings, it wasn't just one or two stories, probably more like a dozen, including people we didn't know about, but who just showed up to tell their stories. There was a wrong house raid with a dog killed, there was a warrant served at a bad address, a mother whose house was raided after her son was caught with a gram of marijuana, there was a triple no-knock raid at three homes with the same name on all three, there was a former member of the judiciary committee whose mother's home was raided because police were looking for a relative. They kicked in her door and knocked her to the ground," Calvo recalled.

"Each story helped connect the dots," he explained. "Those stories made a powerful case. We were not saying the Assembly should micromanage the police, but we wanted to shine a light on what was happening. The first step was making people aware, and getting the SWAT data makes tangible and comprehensive what is otherwise anecdotal."

Although the first formal report on Maryland SWAT raids is not due until this fall, preliminary numbers from the first six months of reporting have already generated more stories in the press and kept the issue alive. And they provide grist for the reform mill.

"It's not just the number of raids, it's that 92% of them are for search warrants, not hostage situations or bank robberies or the like," said Calvo. "It's that two times out of three, they kick in the door. It's that in some jurisdictions -- Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, Annapolis -- the majority of deployments are for misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies. Prince Georges had 105 raids against nonviolent offenders in six months, and that speaks to deeper policy problems. Baltimore County deployed only once for a nonviolent offense. That's more a model of professionalism."

Calvo said he plans to use the full year's worth of SWAT raid reporting due this fall to return to Annapolis to push for further reforms. "The legislature could impose training standards or other statewide protocols," he said. "It could impose more transparency. A full year of data will be helpful with that. Hopefully, the reporting requirement passed last year will end up being just the first step in a multi-step process to insert some better judgment into the process for when these paramilitary units are deployed."

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/swatcartoon2.jpg
PolitickerMD cartoon about the Calvo raid
The dog-killing SWAT raid in Columbia, Missouri, has also resulted in activism aimed at reining in SWAT, and it has already had an impact. Under withering public criticism, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton quickly instituted changes in the SWAT team's command and control structure and when and how it could be used. He also came out for marijuana legalization, saying he believed many police would be happy to not have to enforce pot prohibition.

The activism is continuing, however. "There is a lot going on in response to that raid," said Columbia attorney Dan Viets, a member of the board of national NORML. "The ACLU and NORML are involved, but so are groups of citizens who have not been activists before. And our police chief has been pretty responsive -- he doesn't have that bunker mentality that so many cops do," Viets said.

"For us, it's not so much SWAT as the use of search warrants for nonviolent crimes. Whether they have SWAT on the back of their jackets or not, they still do the same brutal stuff," the defense attorney continued. "The execution of a search warrant is almost always a violent act, it's a home invasion. It isn't that they're SWAT that matters, it's the fact that they engage in violence in the execution of those search warrants," he said.

"We are trying to suggest that police not use search warrants for nonviolent crime," said Viets. "They can rely on the tried and true: Send in an informer to do a controlled buy, then get an arrest warrant. Even the chief has said that they would try to arrest people outside their homes."

Similar outrage and activism is occurring in Detroit, where anti-police sentiments were loudly voiced in the days after the killing of Aiyana Jones. Police brutality activists usually isolated in their complaining are being joined by everyday citizens. The Detroit City Council is investigating. The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at Jones' funeral. But whether the uproar results in a reformed SWAT policy remains to be seen.

"The death of that girl in Detroit was an inevitable result of the broad use of these things," said Calvo. "When you're doing 50,000 or 75,000 SWAT raids a year, it will eventually happen."

"Whatever one thinks about using SWAT tactics when looking for a murder suspect, the results in Detroit show how dangerously volatile these tactics really are," said Dave Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, who is also the moving force behind the Americans for SWAT Reform web site and campaign. "There is every reason to believe that conducting a late night raid and detonating flash bang grenades led to the physical contact between the woman and the officer in which the gun discharged, killing the girl. That's all the more reason to avoid those tactics wherever possible, certainly in routine drug search warrants."

"In Detroit, they were going after a murder suspect, but there are a whole lot of questions about their tactical intelligence," said criminologist David Klinger, a former LAPD and Redmond, Washington, police officer and author of "Into the Kill Zone: a Cop's Eye View of Deadly Force," who now works for the Police Executive Research Forum. "Did they know there were children present? Why didn't they just do a contain and call?" where police secure the perimeter and tell the suspect to come outside, he asked.

While sending in the SWAT team in Detroit may be justified, said Klinger, the use of SWAT for small-time drug raids is not. "If you're sending in a SWAT team for a small amount of marijuana, that doesn't make sense," said Klinger. "There are some domestic agencies that don't understand that they should be utilizing some sort of threat assessment. That's one of the big issues regardless of who has oversight. A lot of it is a training issue about when SWAT should be utilized."

There are different pressure points where reformers can attempt to get some control over SWAT deployments. They range from the departmental level, to city hall or the county government, to the state house, and to Congress.

"The first level of oversight should be within the agency, whether it's the chief or some other officer with oversight over SWAT," said Klinger. "You need to make sure they have appropriate command and control and supervision, appropriate surveillance, tactical intelligence, and evidence of something out of the usual as opposed to just 'there's drugs there.' There needs to be a threat matrix done -- are there unusual fortifications, is there a history of violence, are weapons present other than for self protection?"

Neill Franklin is a former Maryland police officer with SWAT experience. He is also the incoming head of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). For Franklin, SWAT has limited legitimate uses, but aggressive, paramilitarized policing has gone too far. He blames the war on drugs.

"Back in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn't use SWAT teams to conduct search warrants unless it was a truly documented violent organization," he said. "As the drug war escalated, we started using SWAT to execute drug-related warrants. When I first started as an undercover officer, the narcotics team executed the warrant, along with two or three uniformed officers, but not with the high-powered weapons and force we use today. The drug war is the reason for using these teams and the driving force behind them," said the former narc.

"Because police have become accustomed to serving so many warrants, they've also become accustomed to using SWAT for every warrant," said Franklin. "In the past, they were more selective. You had to provide the proper intel and articulate why a SWAT team was needed, what was the history of violence, what was the prospect of violence. Some departments now are very strict -- you have to ID the house and the people you're after, you have to photograph the house and the door you're going to go through, you have to know who should be in that house, what special circumstances may be involved, and whether there are children or animals in the house -- but now, I think a lot of departments aren't doing the proper intel."

"You need a threat matrix that talks about unusual weapons," said Klinger. "Does some guy have an automatic shotgun? Is he a major dealer? That's when you might want to send in SWAT, but it's not a good idea to routinely use SWAT."

In addition to doing surveillance and gathering intelligence, police need to ensure they are using the right personnel for SWAT teams, said Franklin, alluding to the fact that such teams are often accused of having a "cowboy" mentality. "These guys are self-selected and handpicked," he said. "You need people in good physical shape, but you have to have a process for selecting the right people with the right personalities."

Franklin also pointed a finger at judges. "I think a lot of the time, judges give warrants out too easily," he said. "A lot of them are just boilerplate, already typed up; you just fill in the blanks and a little detail. They are too easy to draft and get approved by a judge. The judges need to be a bit more strict and ask some questions to ensure a no-knock warrant is justified."

But departmental policies are where to begin, Franklin said. "Policy is the critical point," said Franklin, "policy is the key. And maybe judges need to be involved in asking those policy questions. Are there kids in the home? Dogs? Special circumstances? Do you have photos? I don't think judges are asking enough questions, and there is too much rubber-stamping of warrants. The judges are too loose on this; they need to tighten up."

The next levels of oversight -- and opportunities for intervention -- are the local and state governments, said Klinger. "It generally stops with the mayor and city council, but now Maryland has a law where they have to report, and I don't have a problem with that. We are a representative republic, and the power of the police is very strong. The government operates by the consent of the governed, and the governed need to have information about what their police are doing. Why not?"

There is plenty of work that could be done at the state level, said Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (CJPF). "You could amend a state criminal procedure statute to require that a specialized kind of warrant would be needed to use a SWAT team. You could spell out particular things that had to be established, you might require additional verification of informant information beyond an ordinary search warrant, or specific evidence about possession of weapons and evidence about their connection to criminal activity, you could require higher degrees of confirmation about the address, you could require specific findings regarding the presence of children or the elderly, that a buy be done not by an informant but by a member of the law enforcement agency, that there be continuous surveillance of the property for some period before the raid takes place to verify who is present," Sterling said, ticking off a list of possibilities.

As Missouri attorney Viets noted above, it's not just SWAT, it is aggressive tactics like dynamic entry and no-knock raids that are also under scrutiny, whether done by SWAT or by other police units. It is those situations that are most dangerous for police and citizens, with the breaking down of doors, the yelling of commands, the flash-bangs, the confusion. And even the cops are talking about it.

"There is a big debate going on in the SWAT community," said Klinger. "Do you do a dynamic entry, or do you do something less? Some agencies will do a breach and hold, where they get through the front door, but stop there until they make contact with people inside. Another version is the 'contain and call-out', where they announce their presence and ask the people to come outside. Then, officers can carefully, slowly go through the place, and you know that if someone has a gun, he's after you. Sometimes we need to be aggressive, and there's nothing wrong with a dynamic entry, but you want to make sure you're using SWAT in the appropriate circumstances. We want to be minimally aggressive."

"It's those no-knock warrants, whether it's SWAT or not, where people tend to get hurt, where their animals are slaughtered," said Franklin. "That seems to be the norm now. You hear SWAT personnel joking about this all the time. If you know there's an animal in the house, why don't you just have Animal Control along? Unless that dog is so aggressive he's actually ripping people apart, he could be secured. Mostly they are just doing what they are supposed to do: barking and holding their ground."

[Ed: In many cases including the raid in Columbia, a warrant has nominally been served as a knock-and-announce, but the waiting is so short that it effectively equivalent to a no-knock. The term "dynamic entry" roughly applies to both kinds of situations, and "no-knock" is often used to refer to both kinds.]

"I don't know why they're shooting dogs," Klinger said with a hint of exasperation. "Unless they were being aggressive and attacking, you need to rethink what you're doing if you're shooting dogs. Just take a fire extinguisher with you and zap the dog with it. Shooting dogs unnecessarily suggests a lack of training about how to discern what is and is not a threat."

As long as the war on drugs continues, so will the issues around SWAT, no-knock raids, and search warrants. "The vast majority of these warrants are drug related," said Franklin. "The ultimate solution is ending prohibition. That would resolve so many issues."

Somewhat surprisingly, Klinger agreed. "We should just legalize drugs and call off the hounds, but if we're going to have drug prohibition, we have to be able to enforce it," he said. "If the rest of the polity says no to legalization, we can't have a regime where dopers just sit in their homes and do what they want. But if we are going to have the prohibition model, we need appropriate oversight over policing it."

Sterling pointed out some other pressure points for SWAT reform until we get to that day when drug prohibition is just a bad memory. "A private way of thinking about this is to use the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. to include in accrediting criterion better control or management of the way in which SWAT teams are used," said Sterling.

There are also reform possibilities at the federal level, Sterling said. "If you want to set national standards, Congress arguably has the power under the 14th Amendment in terms of equal protection to enforce the Fourth Amendment," he said. "You could provide that SWAT activity carried out outside the limits of such a special warrant could result in civil liability, denial of federal funds to the agency, or potential criminal penalties. There are examples of this in the wiretap law. It's very, very strict in its requirements about what law enforcement agencies have to do and it has very strict reporting requirements. There is certainly precedent in national law for how we regulate highly invasive, specialized law enforcement activities."

Sterling, a Maryland resident himself, said the Maryland SWAT reporting law passed after the Calvo raid shows political space can be created to support reform, but that it isn't easy. "It took raiding the mayor and killing his dogs and their being completely innocent white people to get relatively minor legislative action," he said. "The record keeping requirement is clearly a baby step toward challenging SWAT, and there was very decided knee-jerk law enforcement opposition to it."

It's going to take some organizing, he said. "You have to have a collection of groups deciding to make this an issue the way they made addressing the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity an issue. I'm not aware that this has developed yet, and perhaps this is something the drug reform community should be doing. We could take the lead in trying to raise this with more powerful political actors."

back to top

2. Feature: Jamaica Rocked As Kingston Drug Gangs Fight Police and Army -- At Least 73 Dead

The capital of Jamaica, Kingston, is still smoldering -- literally -- after four days of violent conflict between Jamaican security forces and a fugitive drug "don" (as the heads of gangs are called there) and his supporters left at least 73 people dead by official count. The fighting took on much of the form of an urban insurrection, with gunmen attacking police and soldiers and assaulting at least 18 police stations, one of which burned to the ground. Three policemen were killed in the first day of fighting.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/brucegolding.jpg
Prime Minister Bruce Golding
The fighting pitted followers of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, an alleged major gang leader and drug and weapons trafficker wanted by the US, against a government they felt had betrayed him -- and them. Last week, after months of trying to block an American extradition request, the government of Prime Minister Bruce Golding gave in to mounting political pressure and ordered him sent to the US, setting off mass demonstrations by his followers centered in the tough Kingston neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens.

Dudus' supporters put up street barricades of wrecked vehicles and other debris and armed young men strolled the streets amid reports that members of other Jamaican drug gangs, or posses, were streaming into to Kingston to join the fight. Golding announced a state of emergency Sunday night after the first attacks on police stations, but it took until Thursday for the police and the army to exert control over Tivoli.

Although the violence has died down, many issues remain unresolved. Dudus is still a free man, having eluded the authorities' assault on his stronghold in Tivoli Gardens, the prime minister's relationship with Dudus is being closely scrutinized, and now, complaints about unjustified killings by security forces this week are once again raising serious concerns about Jamaica's human rights record.

And while the violence has died down, it hasn't ended. Police stormed a house in the middle class community of Kirkland Heights Thursday after hearing that Dudus may have holed up there, setting off a two-hour firefight. Among the casualties there was the brother of former Minister of Industry and Commerce Claude Clark, who was killed by security personnel in the crossfire.

The confrontation in Kingston is shining the spotlight on long-acknowledged but usually quietly ignored connections between Jamaica's two main political parties, the ruling Labor Party and the opposition People's National Party, and tough Kingston slum gangs. Ever since violent election campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s, when leaders of both parties recruited neighborhood toughs, the "rude boys" of reggae lyrics, in Kingston slums like Tivoli or Trenchtown to act as their deniable armed wings, the parties have relied on these neighborhood gangs not only for fighting when necessary, but also to deliver the vote. In return, they turn a blind eye to some of the gang's more nefarious activities.

Dudus, as leader of the Tivoli Gardens posse, which was affiliated with Labor, had long been an ally of Prime Minister Golden. The neighborhood is even part of Golden's constituency -- thus the anger against the government by residents who had benefited from Dudus' largesse amid poverty and neglect from the government.

Like Pablo Escobar in Colombia, who gained popular support by building schools and soccer stadiums, or the contemporary Mexican drug cartels, who do the same sort of public-minded philanthropy for the same mix of genuine and public relations purposes, Dudus provides services -- as well as security -- for Tivoli Gardens and its residents. In doing so, he came to be viewed by many as a sort of Robin Hood figure.

"Coke was the standard 'Teflon don,'" said Larry Birns, head of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, whose associate, Katherine Haas, this week published in a most timely fashion, Jamaica: Different Drug War, Different Strategy, a critique of US drug policy on the island. "For a relatively small percentage of the swag, he saw to it that there was a tremendous amount of goodwill in the neighborhood for his candidates. For Coke, it was always Labor, the Republicans of Jamaica."

Prime Minister Golding did his part by stalling for nine months the extradition order against Dudus after he was indicted on drug trafficking and weapons smuggling charges by a federal grand jury in New York. He even went as far as hiring a Washington, DC, public relations firm to attempt to lobby the indictment away, but when that became public knowledge, Golding's support for Dudus was not longer politically tenable.

"Coke was working for the JLP and Golding stalled as long as he possibly could to get the extradition going, but his ability to sustain his position vanished, so they had to go after Coke," Birns said. "But Coke had developed a cordon sanitiare of affection and appreciation because of what he has done for his neighborhood."

"They do have popular support because of the numbers of beneficiaries, and the financial support they provide to the communities," agreed Jamaican marijuana legalization activist Paul Chang.

US drug policy toward Jamaica hasn't helped, said Birns, whose organization has become increasingly critical of drug prohibition in recent years. American efforts to ameliorate some of the negative results of that policy are too little, too late, he said.

"US drug policy plays a role in this because the administration has announced a new program that will emphasize institution-building all the drug-infected countries in the region and emphasize the demand side, but we've heard all that before," he said. "Administration after administration has hurled rhetoric at the problem, but the existence of the drug cartels shines a laser-light like on the results of these policies. Anyway, although none of these islands has a viable economy, they want to give the paltry sum of $100 million to the Caribbean and Central America under Plan Merida. Guatemala alone could consume all that," he said.

"When it comes to Jamaica, you have the confluence of inadequate Latin America policy-making fused to a misconceived drug policy, and that becomes a very explosive mixture, and the ensuing violence we see in Jamaica is just the result," Birns summed up.

As of this writing, Dudus is still on the lam, Tivoli Gardens is still smoldering, Amnesty International is calling for an investigation of alleged street executions by security forces, and Prime Minister Golding is still holding on to power. But the violent challenge to the state's monopoly on the use of force has rocked Jamaica and revealed the dark webs of power linking politics and the underworld. The reverberations from this week will be felt in Jamaica for a long time to come.

back to top

3. Marijuana: Canada's "Prince of Plot" Pleads Guilty, Accepts Five-Year Prison Sentence

Canada's most famous marijuana activist is now serving a federal prison sentence in the US. Erstwhile Internet pot seed seller Marc Emery appeared in federal court in Seattle Monday to accept a plea deal that will see him most likely serving five years in prison for his efforts.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marcandjodieemery.jpg
Marc and Jodie Emery (courtesy Cannabis Culture)
Emery and two employees, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in 2005 for allegedly selling pot seeds to customers in the US. After Rainey and Williams were able to plea bargain probationary sentences to be served in Canada, Emery himself accepted a plea bargain to avoid the possibility of losing at trial and serving up to life in prison if he did.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Under the agreement reached with prosecutors, they will recommend a five-year sentence. But the sentencing judge is not bound by that agreement and, if he orders a harsher sentence, Emery has the right under the plea agreement to renege and go to trial. Formal sentencing is set for August.

Then DEA administrator Karen Tandy hailed Emery's arrest as "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade, but also the marijuana legalization movement," a move that added fuel to claims by Emery supporters that he was being prosecuted for political reasons.

Emery certainly had been a thorn in the side of prohibitionists everywhere, dating back to battles in the 1980s over whether High Times could be sold in Canada. In the 1990s, Emery emerged as a major force in the legalization movement, with his cafe and BC Marijuana Party headquarters in downtown Vancouver serving as his command center.

Emery made millions selling seeds and plowed most of the proceeds back into the legalization movement, funding marijuana parties and other activism in the US, Canada, and overseas. He remains undaunted by the specter of five years behind bars and is vowing to continue his fight from within the American drug war gulag.

Emery and his supporters are urging the Canadian government to take action to allow him to serve his sentence in his home country, as is usually the case, but has not been the case for some drug suspects under the ruling Conservative government. To find out more about Emery, his case, and the campaign to get him home, visit Cannabis Culture, the magazine he founded and which his wife, Jodie, now manages.

Shortly before Emery was extradited last Thursday, Jodie Emery accused the Canadian government of helping the US government try to "silence the most vocal opponent of the drug war." But the US government will find, as so many have before, that nothing you do will make Marc Emery shut up.

back to top

4. The Border: Obama to Send 1,200 National Guard Troops in Bid to Fight Drugs

The Obama administration said Tuesday it would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border and spend more law enforcement money there to combat drug smuggling. The troops will not be used on the front-line, but will provide support services to the already beefed-up border law enforcement apparatus.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/esequielhernandez.jpg
Esequiel Hernandez was killed by US Marines near the Texas border, while herding sheep. Are there more such victims to come?
The announcement came as the administration came under increasing pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to "do something" about border security and reflects concerns about the politics of immigration as well as the war on drugs.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) last week called on Obama to send National Guard helicopters from neighboring states to Arizona. She didn't get the choppers, but she did get some attention, and now she will get some National Guardsman.

Although Brewer and other conservatives -- and some liberals -- are screaming to high heaven about the need for more border enforcement, the need for it isn't absolutely clear. In Arizona, the crime rate is down, there are signs that immigrants are leaving, and despite wildly exaggerated claims, Mexican drug cartels are generally very good at keeping their spectacular violence on the other side of the border.

The Obama National Guard deployment is a faint echo of President Bush the Junior's two-year deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the border beginning in 2006. Those troops were credited with helping in the arrest of more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants, the seizure of $69,000 in cash, and 305,000 pounds of drugs.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, fending off a challenge from a rightist congressman, said that 1,200 troops wasn't enough. In a Senate maneuver, he tried to get funding for 6,000 troops Thursday, but was rebuffed.

back to top

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

Oh, lord, where to begin? The tweaker deputy sheriff stealing his supply from the evidence room? The sticky-fingered narc who got stung? The cop so cozy with his informant he was providing her with drugs he stole from his own wife? There's all that and more, this week -- including, of course, a crooked jail guard. Let's get to it:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/evidenceroom2.jpg
Is something missing from the evidence room?
In Chaska, Minnesota, a Carver County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with stealing methamphetamine from the department's evidence room for his own use. Daniel David Kahlow, 47, is charged with removing evidence and second degree drug possession of six grams or more of meth. He was arrested after being videotaped entering and leaving the evidence room on May 9, a day he was not scheduled to work. Kahlow admitted dressing in baggy clothes in a bid to hide his identity and that he had been using for about a year. Police found 23 grams and a glass pipe on him when he was arrested. The 18-year-veteran deputy is now sitting in the Wright County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.

In Norristown, Pennsylvania, a Montgomery County jail guard was arrested last Saturday along with a prisoner and the inmate's mother for delivering drugs to the inmate. Guard Mathew Knowles, 31, and the mother and son all are charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal attempt, criminal use of a communication facility, conspiracy, possession of drug paraphernalia, controlled substance contraband to confined persons, and several other charges -- as if the first batch weren't enough. Prosecutors said Knowles got Oxycontin from the inmate's mother on several occasions and began smuggling it and other contraband into the jail in February. He went down after another inmate snitched the operation out and authorities listened in to phone and visitation calls between the inmate and the mother that confirmed the snitch's tale. Further confirmation came when prison officials searched the inmate's cell and found Oxycontin. Knowles has not made bail and is on the other side of the bars at the Lehigh County Prison.

In Manhattan, Kansas, a Riley County Police narcotics officer was arrested May 20 on official misconduct and theft charges. Officer Mark Bylkas, a four-year veteran, is charged with of two felony counts of official misconduct and two felony counts of theft. He was released on $10,000 bond. The County Police provided no information on the specifics of what Bylkas is alleged to have done, except to say that the arrest came as part of an ongoing investigation involving the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the state attorney general's office.

In Pass Christian, Mississippi, a Harrison County sheriff's deputy was arrested May 20 on what look to be drug-related charges, although the sheriff's office is staying mum. Deputy Ronald Roach, 34, was charged with felony counts of extortion and hindrance of prosecution by rendering criminal assistance. He went down after an investigation by the department, the Harrison County Narcotics Unit, and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Roach was jailed on a $50,000 bond pending an initial appearance.

In Duncan, Oklahoma, a former Marlow police officer was indicted May 20 on two counts of perjury by a multicounty grand jury. Rodney Richards, who was fired in February, is charged with lying in an affidavit and on the witness stand in a methamphetamine trafficking case last October. Prosecutors accuse Richards of lying about facts involving jurisdictional issues, allegations a police radio had been tampered with, and confiscated meth that had gone missing. He's now out on a $10,000 bond.

In Madison, Wisconsin, a state Justice Department narcotics officer pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to taking the bait in an FBI sting operation. Johnny Santiago stole about $1,100 that FBI agents had planted in a vacant Milwaukee storefront that he was sent to search, then led FBI agents on a chase to the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Task Force building, where he was arrested. That was in March, he resigned as a narc in April, and now, he's copped a plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In Boulder, Colorado, a former Longmont police officer was sentenced last Friday to probation for giving prescription drugs to an informant. Jack Kimmett, 54, has to report to authorities for two years, perform 80 hours of public service, pay a $750 fine, write a letter of apology to the Longmont Police Department, and obey a "no contact" order regarding the informant. The informant, a separated married woman, denied a sexual relationship with Kimmett, but later acknowledged that he paid her rent and bills. Fellow officers watched Kimmett give Vicodin to the informant, then arrested him. He was originally charged with two counts of felony drug possession, two misdemeanor theft counts and first-degree official misconduct. Those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, which also stipulated he would not serve jail time.

back to top

6. Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debussman, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed over 20,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 4,000 so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Wednesday, May 19

In Chihuahua, police discovered five mummified bodies in the bed of a truck. The five, two women and three women, were left in a pickup truck alongside a desert highway south of Ciudad Juarez, and were mummified by the desert conditions. In Ciudad Juarez itself, a local university student was discovered murdered and wrapped in a blanket at the fairgrounds.

Thursday, May 20

In Tamaulipas, four gunmen were killed and four arrested after a raid by elements of the Mexican Navy. Three of the detainees were Guatemalan nationals. In Torreon, Coahuila, two police officers and three gunmen were killed in a firefight.

Outside Culiacan, Sinaloa, police announced the capture of the Sinaloa Cartel's operations chief for the greater Mexico City area. Jose Manuel Garcia is also being accused of coordinating cartel operations with local officials.

Sunday, May 23

In Tijuana, soldiers discovered $729,000 dollars during a raid in La Libertad neighborhood of northwest Tijuana. No arrests were made during the operation.

In Jalisco and Zacatecas, the army and gunmen fought six gun battles in 12 hours. No casualties were reported in the fighting, which was nonetheless described as "intense." According to the army, the gunmen used large caliber Barrett sniper rifles and fragmentation grenades and the engagement. At least 50 gunmen fled into nearby mountains on vehicle and on foot.

In Sinaloa, a federal police agent and his drug-sniffing dog are missing after being kidnapped alongside four other men and a woman near the town of Los Mochis. Three of them, including the woman, were later found dead. Afterwards, police searched for men traveling in three vehicles in relation to the incident. The area around Los Mochis is a known drug trafficking area.

Nine people were murdered in the city of Chihuahua, and a man was killed in the city of Durango. Three young women who were traveling in his car were wounded after being ambushed by gunmen wielding high-powered weapons. In Tampico, two gunmen were killed after a shootout with the army. In Morelos, gunmen forced a man out of a bar and shot him just outside. One person was killed in Tabasco.

Monday, May 24

In Zapopan, Jalisco, the operations chief of the municipal police was shot and killed. Witnesses told police that Jose Nicolas Araujo Baldenegro ran out of his house after hearing a truck smash into his car, only to be gunned down when he stepped onto the street. The truck used in the attack was later found abandoned.

Tuesday, May 25

In a suburb of Monterrey, an ex-police officer from an elite unit of the municipal police was killed in a shootout between gunmen and soldiers. The incident, which took place in the affluent suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, took place in the early morning after the army received reports of armed men at a party. After a brief firefight, soldiers discovered the body of ex-municipal police officer Pedro Valezquez Amador. It was later reported that he is a high-ranking member of the Beltran-Leyva organization, although the organization has been split in recent months.

Wednesday, May 26

In Cancun, the mayor was arrested on suspicion of protecting the Beltran-Leyva and Zetas organizations. Gregorio Sanchez now faces charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, a year after a Cancun police chief and several deputies were taken into custody. High-level corruption is rampant in many parts of Mexico.

In Chihuahua, a large group of armed men took over a small village near Ciudad Juarez. Reports indicate that a group of at least 60 men traveling in 16 vehicles took over the small town of El Porvenir and executed two people before withdrawing. The local headquarters of a police intelligence unit was also burned. Several police were reported to have fled into nearby forests.

In Culiacan, three people were executed, including a woman who was thrown into a canal after being shot. Two murders occurred in Ciudad Juarez.

Thursday, May 27

In Ciudad Juarez, two policemen were shot dead in the parking lot of a shopping center. Five people were shot in different incidents across the city of Chihuahua, and two people each were killed in Sonora, Sinaloa, and Durango.

In the Durango incident, two suspected drug traffickers were killed after being stopped at a fake checkpoint. A four year old child was left alive in the backseat.

Total Body Count for the Week: 405

Total Body Count for the Year: 4,357

[Editor's note: We have decided to no longer include the overall death toll since Calderon began his drug war. There are too many problems of definition to be confident of any exact tally. We will, however, note when the official tally clicks over another thousand dead. Currently, it's at 23,000.]

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

back to top

7. Sentencing: Penalties for Some Colorado Drug Possession Decrease Under New Law

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) Tuesday signed into law a package of criminal justice reform bills, including one that will reduce penalties for some drug possession offenses, one that will give judges increased discretion in sentencing, and one that will broaden parole eligibility. Of the 10 bills in the package, six were based on recommendations from the Colorado Commission on Criminal Justice, which Ritter formed in 2007 to try to get a grip on skyrocketing criminal justice and corrections costs.

"Our criminal justice system is tasked with one of the most important responsibilities in our society -- maintaining public safety and protecting communities," said Gov. Ritter, who served as Denver's district attorney for 12 years before becoming governor. "What we have created here in Colorado, particularly the past few years, is a system that is tough on crime and smart on crime. We can do both. We are doing both, because public safety is not a zero-sum game. Certainly, we can always do better. We can always make improvements. And that's what we are doing here today by signing this legislation into law."

HB 1352 reduces the penalty for the illegal use of drugs (excluding marijuana, which is already decriminalized) from a felony to a misdemeanor and removes the word "possess" from the statute regarding drug sales and manufacture. It also reduces the penalties for the simple possession of most drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor.

But not all drugs. Possession of Rohypnol, ketamine, or methamphetamine would remain a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. The misdemeanor possessors of other drugs, including heroin and cocaine, would face only 18 months.

But the bill also increases penalties for drug sales and manufacturing offenses to 12 years. Those convicted of importing drugs into the state or using guns face up to 48 years, and anyone convicted of supplying marijuana to someone younger than 15 faces a mandatory minimum four years.

Still, the bill commits $1.5 million in expected savings in prison costs to treatment and rehabilitation. Overall, the changes in sentencing, probation, and parole in the package are expected to save the state $3.6 million a year.

HB 1338, sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman, allows judges to exercise more discretion in sentencing by allowing them to sentence some two-time felons to probation instead of prison. The provision does not apply to those whose prior felonies were specified violent crimes or offenses against children.

"HB 1338 restores judicial discretion in sentencing certain nonviolent offenders to probation rather than prison. This bill saves money and saves lives," Sen. Pat Steadman said.

HB 1360 allows community punishment instead of re-imprisonment for people on parole for low-level, nonviolent crimes who commit technical parole violations, such as a dirty drug test, missing an appointment, or moving without reporting the move.

"It saves the state millions of dollars by providing more intermediate sanctions for technical parole violators," said bill cosponsor Rep. Sal Pace. "These programs not only save the state money, but more importantly they are proven though research to reduce recidivism rates. That means fewer crimes, fewer victims and greater cost savings in the future."

back to top

8. Public Opinion: Support for Legalizing and Taxing Marijuana at 49% in Colorado, Rasmussen Poll Finds

At the same time Colorado legislators were approving a bill to impose new restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries, a near majority of Colorado voters were telling the Rasmussen Report poll they favor legalizing and taxing pot. Some 49% of respondents said it should be taxed and legalized, while 39% disagreed and 13% were undecided.

As well-known Colorado marijuana activist Mason Tvert of SAFER noted in the Huffington Post this week, legal weed is polling higher than any of the state's contenders for the governorship or the US Senate. No senatorial candidate is polling higher than 48% and no gubernatorial candidate is polling higher than 47%.

Tvert has already filed a legalization initiative with state authorities, but up until now, it was seen mainly as a placeholder while Tvert and others were looking ahead toward 2012. That could change now -- there is still time to get on the ballot this year -- but most experienced initiative organizers say a measure should begin with around 60% support.

The numbers are higher than in 2006, when a legalization initiative lost with 41% of the vote. But activists would like to see them go higher still.

Rasmussen found that most men supported legalization, while most women did not. Democrats and independents supported legalization, while Republicans did not.

The poll was taken May 10 and sampled 500 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5%, with a 95% level of confidence.

back to top

9. Synthetic Cannabinoids: Georgia Becomes Latest State to Ban K2

In a Monday statement, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) announced he had signed into law a bill outlawing the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana in the state. Georgia is the latest in a growing number of states that have moved to criminalize K2.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/spicedrug.jpg
''spice'' packet (courtesy wikimedia.org)
K2 is just one of the names for herbal preparations powdered with a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-108, created by Clemson University organic chemist John W. Huffman in the mid-1990s. Products sold as Spice, Genie, and Zohai also contain the compound, which produces a high similar to marijuana.

The Georgia bill, HB 1309, places K2 as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside heroin and above cocaine, Ritalin, and opium, which are all Schedule III. The bill passed by a 148-2 vote in the House and a 48-0 vote in the Senate.

"K2 is a potent drug that can be difficult to detect," said Gov. Perdue. "Adding it to our state's banned substances list will protect Georgians' safety and health."

While most users report pot-like highs, some have been showing up in hospital emergency rooms complaining of hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, and vomiting. Dr. Anthony Scalzo of the Missouri Poison Center in St. Louis told USA Today that reports of ER visits for K2 were spreading rapidly.

"At first we had about a dozen cases, but then it really blossomed. By the first week of April, we had 40 cases," said Scalzo. "Missouri remains the epicenter, but it's spreading out." There have been 352 cases of K2 poisoning in 35 states, he said.

Synthetic cannabinoids were banned in Kansas in March and Kentucky in April. An Alabama ban goes into effect July 1, while legislatures in Missouri and Tennessee have passed bans that will go into effect absent a gubernatorial veto. Bills to ban K2 are also under consideration in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. It is also banned by a number of municipalities scattered across the county.

back to top

10. Europe: Scottish Attitudes toward Drugs, Drug Users Harsh and Getting Harsher, Annual Poll Finds

Scottish public opinion is taking a harder line toward drug use and drug users, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2009. Support for marijuana legalization has declined by half since 2001, while attitudes toward heroin users are harsh, and support for harsh punishments is stronger than support for harm reduction measures.

The poll comes after several years of a full-blown Reefer Madness epidemic in the United Kingdom press, where sensational assertions that "cannabis causes psychosis" have gained considerably more traction than they have in the US. It also comes as Scotland confronts an intractable, seemingly permanent, population of problem heroin users and increasing calls from Conservatives to treat them more harshly.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, support for marijuana legalization rose in Scotland, as if did throughout the UK, reaching 37% by 2001. Last year, it was down to 24%. The decline was especially dramatic among young people, with 62% of 18-to-24-year-olds supporting legalization in 2001 and only 24% last year.

Support was down even among people who have used marijuana. In 2001, 70% supported legalization; now only 47% do. Similarly, attitudes toward pot possession also hardened among the Scots public. In 2001, 51% agreed that people should not be prosecuted for possessing small amounts for personal use. In 2009, this figure fell to just 34%.

Scots don't have much use for heroin users, either. Nearly half (45%) agreed that addicts "have only themselves to blame," while just 27% disagreed. On the obverse, only 29% agreed that most heroin users "come from difficult backgrounds," while 53% disagreed. People who are generally more liberal in their values, people who have friends or family members who have used drugs, and graduates were all more likely to have sympathetic views toward heroin users.

Fewer than half (47%) would be comfortable working around someone who had used heroin in the past, while one in five would be uncomfortable doing so. Similarly, just 26% said they would be comfortable with someone in treatment for heroin living near them, while 49% said they would not be. Only 16% think heroin use should be decriminalized.

When it comes to policy toward heroin use, Scots were split: 32% wanted tougher penalties, 32% wanted "more help for people who want to stop using heroin," and 28% wanted more drug education. And four out of five (80%) agreed that "the only real way of helping drug addicts is to get them to stop using drugs altogether."

Those tough attitudes are reflected in declining support for needle exchanges, the survey's sole measure of support for harm reduction approaches. In 2001, 62% supported needle exchanges; now only 50% do.

It looks like Scottish harm reductionists and drug reformers have their work cut out for them.

back to top

11. Weekly: This Week in History

June 3, 1876: Fairgoers visit the Turkish Hashish Exposition at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where many partake.

May 29, 1969: The Canadian government forms the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical use of Drugs, which ultimately issues the famed LeDain report, recommending that simple possession of cannabis and cultivation for personal use be permitted. The report contradicts almost all of the common fallacies held by some of the general public. During an interview in 1998, LeDain blames politicians for the fact that virtually none of the commission's recommendations were made into law.

May 30, 1977: Newsweek runs a story on cocaine reporting that "Among hostesses in the smart sets of Los Angeles and New York, a little cocaine, like Dom Perignon and Beluga caviar, is now de rigueur at dinners. Some party givers pass it around along with canapes on silver trays... the user experiences a feeling of potency, of confidence, of energy."

May 28, 1994: President Clinton's appointed director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas Constantine, says in a Washington Times interview: "Many times people talk about the nonviolent drug offender. That is a rare species. There is not some sterile drug type not involved in violence -- there is no drug user who is contributing some good to the community -- they are contributing nothing but evil."

May 31, 1996: Psychedelic guru Timothy Leary dies.

June 1, 1996: Actor and hemp activist Woody Harrelson is arrested and charged with cultivation of fewer than five marijuana plants, after planting four industrial hemp seeds in full view of Lee County Sheriff William Kilburn in Lexington, Kentucky.

May 31, 2000: Lions Gate Films releases Grass, the Woody Harrelson-narrated/Ron Mann-directed documentary about the history of marijuana in 20th century America.

June 2, 2004: Judge Paul L. Friedman of the US District Court of the District of Columbia strikes down a law passed by Congress blocking marijuana law reform groups from purchasing ad space in public transit systems. Judge Friedman notes that the federal government cannot ban certain types of speech because it disapproves of their content -- especially in light of the government's own advertising advocating for the punishment of marijuana users on these same trains and buses.

back to top

12. Appeal: 2010 is Important in Drug Policy -- And So Are You



Dear friend of drug policy reform:

I am writing today to ask you to step up for drug policy reform. 2010 is a critical year in drug policy, with great opportunities for changing minds, laws, and lives:



There is a long, hard road still ahead, but things are definitely moving our way. Like every nonprofit, our funding has been affected by the troubled state of the economy, and we need your help. Can we count on your support in this important year? Please make a generous donation to StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) today!

The support of our generous members has been part of a winning combination that saw us draw nearly two million annual visitors to our web site last year -- the most yet! -- and which saw opinion leaders in the blogosphere using our work on a regular basis. (See links about this below.) StoptheDrugWar.org, thanks to you, is the #1 source for news, information and activism promoting sensible drug law reform and an end to prohibition worldwide. The more we do at StoptheDrugWar.org, the faster the reform movement will grow and the sooner that minds, laws and lives will change.

Your support counts now more than ever -- please join our 2010 "Changing Minds, Changing Laws, Changing Lives" campaign by donating to StoptheDrugWar.org today.

I would like to send you some free gifts to show our appreciation. For a contribution of $30 or more, choose either the important new DVD, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police, or its classic predecessor, Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters -- or choose either of our popular StoptheDrugWar.org t-shirts -- "alcohol prohibition/drug prohibition" or "consequences of prohibition." For a gift of $55 or more, you get to pick any two... for a gift of $80 or more, pick any three... for a gift of $100 or more you can get all four! (Want to substitute? No problem. Choose any item from our inventory of books, videos and StoptheDrugWar.org items.)

By joining today, you will make an immediate impact by helping StoptheDrugWar.org:

We are truly seeing more good things happen than ever before -- and the road ahead while challenging is also promising. Please donate to StoptheDrugWar.org today - with your help, we can win this.

Sincerely,

David Borden
Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet)

P.S. Prohibition does not work -- and more and more people know it. Now is the perfect time to galvanize support for the cause. Please send in your donation and get your thank-you gifts today! Thank you for your support.

back to top

13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Along with our weekly in-depth Chronicle reporting, DRCNet also provides daily content in the way of blogging in the Stop the Drug War Speakeasy -- huge numbers of people have been reading it recently -- as well as Latest News links (upper right-hand corner of most web pages), event listings (lower right-hand corner) and other info. Check out DRCNet every day to stay on top of the drug reform game! Check out the Speakeasy main page at http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dc-beer-raid-small.jpg
prohibition-era beer raid, Washington, DC (Library of Congress)

Since last issue:

Scott Morgan writes: "Vote for Legalization on Republican Online Forum," "More Proof That Marijuana Doesn't Make You Go Crazy," "Obama's Drug War Hypocrisy," "Cops Steal Money from 9-Year-Old Girl in Crazy Marijuana Raid," "Police Cut Down 400 Pot Plants, Then Realize It's Not Marijuana."

Phil Smith posts early copies of Drug War Chronicle articles.

David Guard posts numerous press releases, action alerts and other organizational announcements in the In the Trenches blog.

Again, http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy is the online place to stay in the loop for the fight to stop the war on drugs. Thanks for reading, and please join us on the comment boards.

back to top

14. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we'd like to hear from you. DRCNet needs two things:

  1. We are in between newsletter grants, and that makes our need for donations more pressing. Drug War Chronicle is free to read but not to produce! Click here to make a donation by credit card or PayPal, or to print out a form to send in by mail.

  2. Please send quotes and reports on how you put our flow of information to work, for use in upcoming grant proposals and letters to funders or potential funders. Do you use DRCNet as a source for public speaking? For letters to the editor? Helping you talk to friends or associates about the issue? Research? For your own edification? Have you changed your mind about any aspects of drug policy since subscribing, or inspired you to get involved in the cause? Do you reprint or repost portions of our bulletins on other lists or in other newsletters? Do you have any criticisms or complaints, or suggestions? We want to hear those too. Please send your response -- one or two sentences would be fine; more is great, too -- email [email protected] or reply to a Chronicle email or use our online comment form. Please let us know if we may reprint your comments, and if so, if we may include your name or if you wish to remain anonymous. IMPORTANT: Even if you have given us this kind of feedback before, we could use your updated feedback now too -- we need to hear from you!

Again, please help us keep Drug War Chronicle alive at this important time! Click here to make a donation online, or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation to make a tax-deductible donation for Drug War Chronicle -- remember if you select one of our member premium gifts that will reduce the portion of your donation that is tax-deductible -- or make a non-deductible donation for our lobbying work -- online or check payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, same address. We can also accept contributions of stock -- email [email protected] for the necessary info.

back to top

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

Want to help end the "war on drugs," while earning college credit too? Apply for a StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) internship and you could come join the team and help us fight the fight!

StoptheDrugWar has a strong record of providing substantive work experience to our interns -- you won't spend the summer doing filing or running errands, you will play an integral role in one or more of our exciting programs. Options for work you can do with us include coalition outreach as part of the campaign to rein in the use of SWAT teams, to expand our work to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act to encompass other bad drug laws like the similar provisions in welfare and public housing law; blogosphere/web outreach; media research and outreach; web site work (research, writing, technical); possibly other areas. If you are chosen for an internship, we will strive to match your interests and abilities to whichever area is the best fit for you.

While our internships are unpaid, we will reimburse you for metro fare, and DRCNet is a fun and rewarding place to work. To apply, please send your resume to David Guard at [email protected], and feel free to contact us at (202) 293-8340. We hope to hear from you! Check out our web site at http://stopthedrugwar.org to learn more about our organization.

back to top
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.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School