Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Europa: Alto Oficial de la Policía Británica Pide Heroína Prescriptible para Adictos

El director de la Asociación Británica de Jefes de Policía (ACPO) pidió esta semana que los adictos recibieran prescripciones de heroína para impedirlos de cometer crímenes para sustentar sus vicios. El director de la ACPO, Ken Jones, el ex jefe de policía de Sussex, también admitió que las estrategias actuales de represión legal están fracasando cuando se trata de una “minoría inveterada” de usuarios de heroína.

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Ken Jones
"Hay que comprender que existe una minoría inveterada, que, sin embargo, comete hartos crímenes para sustentar su adicción”, dijo Jones en comentarios informados por The Independent. “Tenemos que ser realistas – he examinado lo blanco de los ojos de estas personas y muchas no tienen ningún interés en librarse de las drogas. Tenemos que encontrar una manera de tratar de ellas y la prescripción autorizada es definitivamente algo sobre la cual deberíamos pensar”.

Jones es uno de los oficiales de la policía más antiguos a defender el consumo de heroína prescriptible en el esfuerzo para reducir el daño del uso del mercado negro de la droga. De acuerdo con las pesquisas en Gran Bretaña, los usuarios de heroína cometen un promedio de 432 crímenes por año.

Estudios en Suiza y en los Países Bajos, donde los programas de heroína prescriptible están en curso, han descubierto reducciones en los crímenes cometidos por los participantes. Aunque Gran Bretaña tenga unos 40.000 adictos a la heroína registrados que usan metadona (y una estimativa de 327.000 “usuarios de drogas problemáticos” de cocaína o heroína), sólo algunas centenas están recibiendo la heroína prescrita actualmente como parte de un programa piloto. Eso no basta, dijo Jones.

“No soy un legalizador de ninguna manera, pero estoy preocupado con que tengamos que enfrentar una dura realidad”, dijo. “No tenemos lugares suficientes de tratamiento para aquellos que quieren ser admitidos. Necesitamos un consenso entre los partidos que considere el punto de vista público abrumador para ser severo a la raíz de las drogas y también tratar sus víctimas”, discutió.

“Yo era un oficial antidroga y tenemos que ser realistas”, prosiguió Jones. “Hay una minoría inveterada que no tiene ninguna voluntad de librarse de las drogas. Ellos piensan, ‘Voy a salir y robar, asaltar, allanar y conseguir el dinero para comprarla’. ¿Qué vamos a hacer - decir, ‘Ya, vamos a intentar contener esto por los métodos normales de la justicia penal’ y fracasar o vamos a intentar hacer algo diferente? Que se empiece siendo un poquito más innovador. Se trata de examinar las drogas de una manera distinta sin apartarse completamente de la posición actual”.

Aunque hasta los años 1960 los médicos británicos prescribían normalmente la heroína a los adictos, esa práctica terminó bajo la presión de los EE.UU. y a causa de los escándalos relacionados con la prescripción relajada. Ya es hora de regresar a aquellos días, dijo Jones. “Son viciados que están vivos hoy día y que habrían estado muertos ahora”, dijo. “Sus vidas son estables, sí, su adicción está siendo mantenida, pero es mucho mejor que estén siendo mantenidos que si intentaran comprar su dosis en la calle por intermedio de la criminalidad. La heroína es un estimulante increíble de la criminalidad y creemos que somos necios si no reconocemos eso”.

Suroeste Asiático: Esfuerzo de Erradicación de la Adormidera Afgana Resulta en Nueva Violencia

Hace poco tiempo, la policía afgana se fugó de un municipio en el distrito de Bakwa en la provincia de Farah después que cuatro de ellos fueron muertos en un atentado al borde de la carretera mientras su convoy de 10 vehículos regresaba de un día de erradicación de las adormideras. Los militantes del Talibán se mudaron a la ciudad y confiscaron tres vehículos antes de abandonar el área, dijeron los funcionarios locales.

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Mientras tanto, en la provincia de Ghor, un agricultor de adormideras fue muerto y dos heridos cuando la policía abrió fuego contra una muchedumbre de 500 personas que protestaban contra los esfuerzos de erradicación del gobierno. La protesta sucedió después que la policía empezó a erradicar las plantas en el área.

En Bakwa, el atentado con bomba al borde de la carretera tenía como blanco al comisario de la policía de la provincia. Él no se hirió, pero cuatro oficiales que estaban en su vehículo fueron muertos. “Tres policías fueron muertos en el local y otro murió por sus heridas en el hospital hoy día”, le dijo el Comisario de la Policía del distrito, Afgha Saqib, a la Deutsch Presse-Agentur el lunes.

Saqib echó la culpa al Talibán por el ataque. El grupo guerrillero renaciente es visto generalmente como beneficiario del narcotráfico en Afganistán, que ahora produce más de 90% del opio del mundo.

Los militantes del Talibán también tomaron la ciudad de Musa Qala en la provincia de Helmand el 01 de febrero y siguen en el mando allí. Ahora, Helmand es la provincia productora de adormideras más grande en el país.

El presidente afgano Hamid Karzai rechazó las ofertas de los EE.UU. de fumigar las adormideras con herbicidas y prometió llevar a cabo una extensa campaña de erradicación este año. El año pasado, la adormidera afgana creció desconcertantes 49% durante el año anterior, produciendo estimadas 6.700 toneladas de adormidera, suficientes para hacer 670 toneladas de heroína.

Marihuana Medicinal: Defensores Presentan Acción Judicial Federal Contra HHS y FDA

El grupo de defensa de la marihuana medicinal Americans for Safe Access (ASA) presentó una acción judicial en tribunal federal el miércoles contra dos agencias federales por su punto de vista de que la marihuana “actualmente no tiene uso medicinal aceptado en el tratamiento en los Estados Unidos”. La acción judicial nombra la Administración de Alimentos y Drogas (FDA) y el Ministerio de Sanidad y Servicios Humanos (HHS) como reos. El ASA acusó la FDA y el HHS de emitir declaraciones “falsas y equívocas” sobre los usos medicinales de la marihuana.

“La posición de la FDA sobre el cannabis medicinal es incorrecta, deshonesta y también una violación flagrante de las leyes que exigen que el gobierno funde su política en la ciencia sensata”, dijo Joe Elford, principal abogado del ASA.

“La ciencia en pro del cannabis medicinal es abrumadora, pero el gobierno sigue jugando a la política con las vidas de pacientes que necesitan desesperadamente el alivio del dolor”, dijo la directora ejecutiva del ASA, Steph Sherer. “El Americans for Safe Access está presentando esta acción judicial sobre el cannabis medicinal para exigir que la FDA pare de
hacer de la ciencia una rehén de la política”.

La presentación de la acción judicial ocurre al fin de un proceso peticionario de dos años en que la FDA y el HHS se rehusaron a responder a las denuncias de que ellos estaban jugando a la política con la ciencia de la marihuana medicinal. La acción acusa que las dos agencias están infringiendo la Ley de Calidad de los Datos [Data Quality Act], que exige que las agencias federales se fíen en la ciencia sensata. La ley, redactada originalmente por lobistas industriales como arma que sus clientes empresariales pueden usar en sus batallas corrientes con los reguladores federales, también permite que los ciudadanos desafíen la información imprecisa o aquélla que esté basada en datos defectuosos.

Primero, el ASA presentó una petición que buscaba reparación del HHS en octubre de 2004, pero la agencia se rehusó a tomar providencias respecto a la petición. El ASA recurrió en mayo de 2005, en vano. Ahora, está llevando su desafío a los tribunales federales.

“Los ciudadanos tienen el derecho de esperar que el gobierno use la mejor información disponible para las decisiones sobre las políticas. Este caso innovador transforma la Ley de Calidad de los Datos en una herramienta para el interés público”, dijo el destacado jurista y coabogado en el caso, Alan Morrison, que fundó el Public Citizen's Litigation Group y ahora trabaja como conferenciante en la Facultad de Derecho de Stanford.

Malos Proyectos: Legislación de Nevada Puede Mandar Padres a la Prisión por 15 Años por Una Única Planta

Basándose en una ley de 2005 que volvió infracción criminal la operación de laboratorios de metanfetamina en casas en que exista la presencia de niños, un legislador de Nevada ha presentado un proyecto de ley que sometería a las personas que cultiven aun una única planta de marihuana a las mismas penas. Según el proyecto, ellos pueden recibir una condena de hasta 15 años de prisión.

El proyecto, el Proyecto del Senado 6, fue presentado por el senador estadual Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas), que no ve ninguna diferencia entre llevar a cabo un proceso químico complicado y arriesgado y cultivar una planta. “Se está exponiendo a los niños a peligros cuando se esté vendiendo cualquier sustancia ilegal fuera de su casa o cuando se esté cultivando cualquier sustancia ilegal fuera de su casa, entonces se debería estar sujeto a penas superiores”, le dijo Heck al Comité de Servicios Humanos y Educación del Senado.

“Si un tipo tiene un par de plantas (de marihuana) allí (ahora), él puede salir en una semana”, dijo Heck. “Pero si hay un niño presente, con esto, ahora él puede cumplir de cinco a 15 años por exponer ese niño a los peligros de esta actividad. El propio comportamiento de los niñitos los pone en riesgo alrededor de estos materiales, incluso la marihuana”, dijo Heck. “Como cualquier padre lo sabe, el primer lugar en que un niño pone cualquier cosa que encuentra es en su boca. ¿Qué pasa si este objeto es una planta de marihuana?”

Pero, durante la audiencia del lunes sobre el proyecto, los representantes de la American Civil Liberties Union de Nevada y la Defensoría Pública de la Comarca de Clark (Las Vegas) instaron a los legisladores a pensarlo dos veces. “Por la manera que el proyecto está redactado actualmente ello declara que alguien puede cultivar marihuana para consumo personal y no para fines de distribución, venta o narcotráfico y que ellos serían tratados como si estuvieran metidos en esas actividades”, dijo Gary Peck, director ejecutivo de la ACLU de Nevada.

La nueva ley propuesta equivalía a “usar cañones contra moscas”, dijo Peck, añadiendo que ello podía imponer una carga aún más grande sobre la superpoblación carcelaria del estado. “Nadie que está atestando en pro del proyecto puede hablar de verdad sobre las implicaciones respecto del índice de encarcelamiento”, dijo Peck.

Aplicar las mismas penas a los operadores de laboratorios de metanfetamina y los cultivadores de marihuana es inadecuado, dijo el defensor público Jason Frierson. “El motivo por el cual ese estatuto fue escrito de la manera que fue era porque los laboratorios tienen una tendencia a explosionar y los componentes químicos, los humos y las quemaduras químicas – la exposición a ellas eran los motivos para las penas más duras”, dijo Frierson. “Por lo que entiendo, esto es tratar el cultivo de una planta de marihuana de la misma manera que la existencia de un laboratorio de metanfetamina en la presencia de los niños”.

Los mismos de siempre apoyaron el proyecto, incluso la Asociación de Fiscales de Nevada, la Asociación de Sherifs y Jefes de Nevada y la Asociación de Pesquisa de los Oficiales de Paz. “Creemos que siempre que existan drogas y niños juntos va a haber una combinación peligrosa, una mezcla peligrosa”, dijo Kristin Erickson, subfiscal de la Comarca de Washoe, hablando por la asociación estadual.

Nevada es un estado en que la marihuana medicinal es legal y en que los pacientes o proveedores pueden cultivar hasta tres ó cuatro plantas, pero el proyecto no hace mención de eso.

Noticia Corta: Municipio de Colorado Se Aleja de Penas Más Severas Contra la Marihuana

La semana pasada, la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas dio informaciones sobre la dimisión del Juez Leonard Freiling del juzgado municipal para protestar contra la acción de Lafayette, Colorado de promulgar una ordenanza municipal que aumenta las penas para la tenencia de marihuana. El mismo día en que nos dirigimos a la prensa la semana pasada, el consejo municipal puso esa ordenanza propuesta fuera de consideración, diciendo que “El personal de la Ciudad y el Consejo Municipal han determinado que se necesitan más informaciones y análisis sobre este asunto”.

Aunque el estado de Colorado haya despenalizado la tenencia de hasta treinta gramos de marihuana, dejando a los infractores sólo frente a una multa de $100, la medida de Lafayette habría exigido hasta un año de cárcel y una multa de $1.000.

Gracias al calor generado por la dimisión de Freiling, así como a una campaña ligera de base de grupos activistas que incluyen la Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), la ACLU de Colorado, la Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition y la Sensible Colorado, el consejo municipal se vio forzado a batirse en retirada. Ahora, ha programado una audiencia pública sobre la cuestión para abril.

“Estamos muy satisfechos que el Consejo Municipal de Lafayette haya retirado esta medida drástica e innecesaria”, dijo el director ejecutivo de la SAFER, Mason Tvert, en un comunicado de prensa anunciando la retirada. “Agradecemos su respuesta a las preocupaciones de los ciudadanos de Lafayette y de la Comarca de Boulder y estamos dispuestos a servir como recurso para la información precisa sobre la marihuana en el taller público del consejo acerca de esta cuestión en abril”.

Uno a cero para los buenos.

Marihuana: Ken Gorman, Defensor de la Marihuana de Colorado, Es Muerto el Sábado, Días Después de una Revelación Sobre Él Hecha por una Emisora de Noticias

El activista pro marihuana de Colorado, Ken Gorman, 59, fue muerto a tiros en su hogar en Denver el sábado por la noche en un aparente robo con allanamiento de morada. El asesinato ocurrió días después que la emisora televisiva local CBS4 transmitió un informe sobre él que incluía tomas de plantas de marihuana que crecían dentro de su casa. Gorman cultivaba las plantas legalmente como paciente registrado de marihuana medicinal, pero en el reportaje, Gorman era visto aconsejando a usuarios confesos de marihuana no medicinal a cómo usar las leyes de marihuana medicinal para poder tener la planta con impunidad. Hasta el jueves, ninguna detención había sido hecha y la policía dijo que aún estaba investigando.

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icono electrónico de Ken Gorman
Gorman era uno de los rostros más conocidos en la escena de la marihuana y de la marihuana medicinal de Colorado. Él también era integrante de la DRCNet. Gorman había organizado varios smoke-ins en el capitolio estadual y también varios coloquios y había hecho apariciones públicas en pro del consumo medicinal y lúdico de marihuana. Él también concurrió al gobierno bajo una plataforma pro marihuana.

De acuerdo con los relatos de los testigos, tres hombres enmascarados ingresaron al hogar de Gorman con armas en puño el sábado por la noche. Hubo disparos, la policía fue llamada y ellos lo encontraron tirado en el piso de su sala con una herida en el pecho. Él fue declarado muerto poco tiempo después.

Aunque la policía de Denver se rehusara a especular sobre si la matanza estaba relacionada con el cultivo legal de marihuana medicinal de Gorman, los colegas activistas tenían pocas dudas que él murió en una tentativa de robo. “Es bien asombroso que este hombre trabajara su vida entera para hacer que la marihuana sea legal y, al fin, el hecho de que la marihuana fuera ilegal es lo que lo llevó a su muerte”, le dijo Mason Tvert, director ejecutivo de la SAFER, una organización dedicada a legalizar pequeñas cantidades de marihuana lúdica, al Denver Daily News. “Es seguro decir que si la marihuana fuera legal Ken no habría sido muerto”, dijo Tvert. “Creo que es un incidente violento que resulta de lo que pasa cuando la marihuana es mantenida en la ilegalidad”.

El propio Gorman le había dicho a CBS4 pocas semanas atrás que él temía ser robado en razón de su abertura sobre su cultivo de marihuana. “Quiero decir, me han puesto un arma contra mi cabeza, he tenido gente acuchillada en mi casa por personas que intentaban apropiarse de mi marihuana”, dijo Gorman el 31 de enero. Él añadió que su casa había sido invadida 15 veces.

Se echará de menos a Gorman. “He estado en reuniones de pacientes en que los pacientes se pararon, con lágrimas en sus ojos, y dijeron, ‘Cuando nadie quería ayudarme, Ken Gorman me ayudaba’”, dijo Brian Vicente, director ejecutivo de la Sensible Colorado, una organización sin fines lucrativos que defiende la reforma de las políticas de drogas en Colorado. “No se escucha eso con frecuencia”, le dijo Vicente al Daily News. “Él era todo un carácter”.

Reseña de la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy", de Matthew Robinson y Renee Scherlen (2007, State University of New York P

Probablemente no hay un único reformador de las políticas de drogas vivo que, en algún momento, no haya escupido en su taza de café tras oír algún pronunciamiento inane del secretario antidroga John Walters. Sabemos que lo que él está diciendo está equivocado y es injustificable. A veces, nosotros nos damos al trabajo de desbancar completamente una de sus afirmaciones ultrajantes. En verdad, eso no es muy difícil de hacer, pero, hasta ahora, nadie ha desconstruido totalmente las afirmaciones hechas por el Gabinete de Política Nacional de Control de las Drogas (el ONDCP, la secretaría antidroga), poniéndolas a prueba contra las normas de la ciencia y de la razón.

Eso ha cambiado con la reciente publicación de "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics” [Mentiras, Malditas Mentiras y las Estadísticas de la Guerra a las Drogas], del Profesor Adjunto de la Universidad Estadual Apalache, Matthew Robinson, y de la Profesora Adjunta de Ciencia Política, Renee Scherlen. Ya que los informes anuales de la Estrategia Nacional de Control de las Drogas divulgados por el ONDCP forman la base para redactar las políticas de drogas federales, este par de profesores decidió poner a prueba sistemáticamente las afirmaciones hechas por el ONDCP como fundación para esas políticas.

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el ONDCP representa equívocamente la relación ‘Basta Decir No’, estrategia de 2003 (el gráfico aparece gracias al Prof. Robinson)
Toda burocracia federal tiene que justificar su presupuesto y lo hace estableciendo metas y demostrando cómo ha cumplido bien o no esas metas. Pero, como Robinson y Scherlen demuestran admirablemente con ejemplo tras ejemplo de uso equívoco de estadísticas y gráficos visuales, el ONDCP está muchas, muchas veces, distorsionando la realidad para dar una impresión más colorida de sus “éxitos” en la guerra contra las drogas. Ellos lo hacen de una manera calma, intencional y modesta en vez de meterse en un ataque partidario contra una serie de políticas que ellos sienten claramente que son un desastre.

A fin de estimar la precisión de los pronunciamientos del ONDCP, los autores examinan tres grupos amplios de afirmaciones hechas por el ONDCP: Afirmaciones de éxito en reducir el consumo de drogas; afirmaciones de éxito en “curar” a los usuarios de drogas de los Estados Unidos; y afirmaciones de éxito en desbaratar los mercados de drogas. Robinson y Scherlen examinan los informes anuales de la Estrategia Nacional de Drogas a partir de 2000 hasta 2005 para ver lo que el ONDCP dice que está logrando en estas tres áreas amplias. Estas tres categorías describen lo que el ONDCP debería estar logrando, pero, como ilustran los autores tan abarcadoramente, el ONDCP recurre en demasía a informaciones engañosas y equívocas.

Tomemos las afirmaciones de éxito en reducir el consumo de drogas, por ejemplo. En la Estrategia Nacional de Drogas de 2001, el ONDCP presenta una tabla que muestra una tendencia decreciente enorme en el consumo de drogas entre adolescentes a mediados de los años 1980 antes de permanecer esencialmente estable durante todos los años 1990. Pero, como el ONDCP y su mandato no existían antes de 1988, la tabla es engañosa. Lo que muestra realmente es que, durante el período de actividad del ONDCP, ello ha fracasado en su meta declarada de reducir el consumo de drogas entre los adolescentes.

Igualmente, en la Estrategia Nacional de Drogas de 2003, en un intento de justificar sus campañas de prevención, el ONDCP buscó mostrar que la campaña “Basta Decir No” de Nancy Reagan fue eficaz en la reducción del consumo de drogas entre adolescentes. Pero para hacerlo, el ONDCP confió solamente en los datos que involucraban a personas de 18 a 25 años. Ya que la campaña “Basta Decir No” visaba a los niños, usar datos sobre los adultos jóvenes es “un uso selectivo e inadecuado de la estadística”, como dicen tan amablemente Robinson y Scherlen.

El ONDCP también tiene la costumbre curiosa de mencionar “éxitos” en un año, pero no los revisa en los años anteriores cuando los números no los respaldan. En 2000 y 2001, por ejemplo, el ONDCP hizo alarde de la caída en el consumo de drogas, aunque los sondeos nacionales sobre las drogas no la respaldaran, excepto en categorías selectivas. Pero en los informes anuales de 2002 a 2005, con el consumo de marihuana siguiendo firme, el ONDCP no hace ninguna afirmación específica respecto a los índices de consumo de marihuana ni provee tablas o datos de fácil acceso. Como observan Robinson y Scherlen, “De hecho, parece que el ONDCP ignora las estadísticas que señalen resultados contrarios a la guerra a las drogas”.

Robinson y Scherlen pasan a disecar sistemáticamente las afirmaciones del ONDCP sobre la reducción del consumo de drogas, la “cura” de los usuarios de drogas y el desmantelamiento de los mercados de drogas. A veces, ellos aun descubren que las afirmaciones son justificadas, pero eso pasa raramente. Lo que los autores demuestran varias veces es que el ONDCP no es capaz o no está dispuesto a informar con precisión sus fracasos en lograr sus metas y es capaz y está dispuesto a recurrir a las chicanas estadísticas para encubrir esos fracasos.

En los dos capítulos finales del libro, Robinson y Scherlen intentan una evaluación justa de la guerra a las drogas y del poder del ONDCP de cumplir sus metas autoimpuestas de combate a las drogas y ofrecen una serie de recomendaciones para lo que podría ser una política de drogas más racional. De primero, sugieren los autores que el ONDCP sea extinto o quitado de la Casa Blanca. Para una presentación precisa de los números respecto al consumo de drogas, ellos deben ser quitados del clima político caliente de la Casa Blanca. Actualmente, debaten los autores, el ONDCP actúa como “generador y defensor de una dada ideología en la guerra a las drogas”.

"Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics" es sorprendentemente fácil de leer y Robinson y Scherlen han prestado un servicio inmenso no sólo a los críticos de las políticas actuales de drogas al compilar esta crítica mordaz de las afirmaciones del ONDCP, sino también a cualquiera interesado en cómo los datos son compilados, presentados y mal usados por burócratas que intentan defender sus dominios. Ello debería ser lectura obligatoria de los congresistas, pese a que, desdichadamente, probablemente eso no vaya a suceder.

Reportaje: Política “coca sí, cocaína no” de Bolivia está empezando a funcionar

En la carretera larga y ardua que conecta Puno, la ciudad más grande del sur peruano, con la capital boliviana de La Paz, los viajantes que se aproximan de Bolivia cruzan la frontera en las orillas del Lago Titicaca cerca de la ciudadecita boliviana de Copacabana. Allí, el ingreso a Bolivia está marcado por una cartelera grande que proclama la intención de Bolivia de combatir el tráfico en cocaína y los precursores químicos necesarios para transformar la coca en la popular droga estimulante. La cartelera es un recuerdo visual duro de que aunque el presidente boliviano Evo Morales, él mismo un ex cocalero, haya adoptado una política de defensa de la coca, su gobierno tiene toda intención de desmantelar el negocio de la cocaína.

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cartelera sobre la represión anticocaína en la frontera con el gobierno boliviano
Desde su elección en diciembre de 2005, Morales ha roto con dos décadas de la política “coca cero” de los Estados Unidos en el país y parece estar teniendo algún éxito en establecer límites sobre la producción de coca sin, en gran parte, desencadenar el conflicto social violento. Como sugiere la cartelera, él también ha tomado providencias agresivas contra el tráfico de cocaína. Ahora, con la certificación anual del Departamento de Estado de los EE.UU. de la obediencia de los países productores de drogas a los objetivos de las políticas de drogas estadounidenses avecinándose el próximo mes, la cuestión es si el gobierno Bush está dispuesto a dejar que Morales y los cocaleros del país tomen el tiempo necesario para alcanzar reducciones en la producción total de coca sin meterse en más conflicto social.

Siendo el tercer productor más grande de coca, de la cual se extrae la cocaína, durante décadas Bolivia ha observado una política de erradicación de la coca ordenada desde Washington, pero ha pagado un precio alto. En esta década, cinco presidentes fueron quitados del cargo en cinco años, por lo menos en parte a causa del resentimiento caldeado.

“Ha sido un abordaje negativo antiguo”, dijo Kathryn Ledebur de la Andean Information Network (AIN), cuyos análisis de la política boliviana de la coca informan gran parte de este artículo. “Los EE.UU. necesitan alejarse de la simple medida del tamaño del cultivo de coca o de la cantidad que es erradicada y ver cómo esto se desdoblará en los próximos años”, le dijo ella a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas.

Como ex líder del sindicato de los cocaleros en el Chapare, Morales tiene credibilidad junto a los cocaleros para imponer lo que se conoce como “erradicación cooperativa”, a diferencia de la erradicación forzada en busca de las metas de las políticas estadounidenses que han engendrado conflicto e inestabilidad política en uno de los países más pobres de Latinoamérica (la renta media anual es de menos de $1.000). Aunque la erradicación cooperativa empezara en el Chapare antes de la elección de Morales, ella ha acumulado fuerza durante su presidencia, y, en los dos últimos años, Bolivia ha visto el menor aumento en la producción de coca de cualquiera de los tres grandes productores de la región andina.

Los otros dos grandes productores son Colombia y Perú. De acuerdo con las estimativas estadounidenses, la producción de la coca en Perú aumentó de 68.000 acres en 2004 para 95.000 acres en 2005, un aumento de 38%, mientras que la producción colombiana aumentó de 285.000 acres para 360.000 acres, un aumento de 26%, pese a la fumigación aérea esparcida a los cultivos de coca allá. En Bolivia, por el otro lado, los EE.UU. estimaron que la producción aumentó de 61.000 para 65.000 acres, un alza de sólo 8%. (La Oficina de la ONU Contra las Drogas y el Delito, por el otro lado, estimó una caída de 8% en la producción de la coca boliviana durante el mismo período, pero ambas estimativas están muy próximas en términos del tamaño real del cultivo boliviano en 2005.)

En total, cuando se examinan los datos regionales de producción de la coca para los cinco años anteriores, pese a la política estadounidense de buscar erradicar la coca agresivamente, la producción total de la coca ha aumentado de manera gradual, subiendo de 125.000 acres en total en 2000 para cerca de 500.000 acres en 2005. Esta subida firme en la producción total de coca plantea la cuestión sobre si cualquier política basada en la prohibición que vise reducir la producción tendrá éxito con tanto que la demanda global de cocaína siga alta. Pero, el gobierno Morales está haciendo lo que parece ser un esfuerzo de buena fe tanto para disminuir el índice del alza como para apaciguar a los estadounidenses.

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Christo Deneumostier, dueño de The Coca Shop, Cusco, Perú
En Bolivia, hay dos grandes áreas de producción de coca, las Yungas de la provincia de La Paz y el Chapare en los llanos del este amazónico. Antes del acuerdo con los cocaleros del Chapare hecho en octubre de 2004, sólo los cocaleros en las Yungas, el hogar tradicional de la producción de la coca boliviana, podían cultivar la coca legalmente y ellos estaban limitados a 30.000 acres. Pero el acuerdo de 2004, que ha sido acelerado por el gobierno Morales, ignoró la regla de los 30.000 acres, permitiendo al contrario que todos los cocaleros en el programa cultivaran un cato (cerca de 1.600 metros cuadrados o cerca de un tercio del tamaño de una cancha de fútbol americano) de coca, a cambio de lo que los agricultores estuvieron de acuerdo en aceptar la erradicación en dos parques nacionales y erradicar cooperativamente cualquier coca además del límite de un cato. Al cultivar un cato de coca, los agricultores pueden generar una renta anual de entre $900 y $1.300 por año.

Ese plan debía seguir hasta el término de un estudio para ver cuánta coca es necesaria para los mercados legales, pero ese estudio aún tiene que ser acabado y el acuerdo sigue en vigor. La mayor parte de la reducción en la producción de coca informada por la ONU está ahora en el Chapare y el conflicto violento que plagó los esfuerzos anteriores de erradicación forzada es cosa del pasado.

A pesar del esfuerzo exitoso en el Chapare, los funcionarios estadounidenses han seguido criticando las políticas sobre la coca del gobierno Morales. El verano pasado, el secretario antidroga de los EE.UU., John Walters, les dijo a los reporteros que el “nivel actual de cooperación [antidroga]” de Bolivia “no es lo que ha sido en el pasado ni lo que necesita ser para seguir reduciendo el problema”. Y pocos días antes, un alto funcionario de la USAID, Adolfo Franco, declaró delante del Congreso que: “En Bolivia, Evo Morales y su partido Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) han seguido flaqueando en la política económica, la democracia y el combate a los narcóticos...”.

Los EE.UU. también han sido críticos de un acuerdo entre Morales y los cocaleros para aumentar el límite legal de 30.000 acres para 50.000. Los funcionarios estadounidenses han criticado el acuerdo por permitir un aumento en la producción de coca. Pero, Ledebur de la AIN le dijo a la Crónica que “la idea de que el aumento en la producción permitida lleve a un aumento real en la producción está equivocada. El aumento responde simplemente por la coca que está siendo producida realmente”.

Pero, la Embajada de los EE.UU. en Bolivia ha adoptado un abordaje ligeramente más amistoso, el cual reconoce el éxito en el Chapare. El mayo pasado, un mes antes que Walters y Franco criticaran las políticas de la coca de Bolivia, la embajada le pidió a Bolivia que quitara la policía financiada por los EE.UU. del Chapare, donde había sido responsable por proteger a los erradicadores e impedir los cortes de ruta que habían plagado la región en el pasado. La embajada también alabó públicamente el nombramiento de Morales del ex cocalero del Chapare, Felipe Cáceres, como “zar antidroga” de Bolivia como una “opción excelente”.

Aunque el gobierno Morales haya adoptado la erradicación cooperativa en el Chapare y políticas pro coca que busquen aumentar los mercados legales para la coca y reconocer sus atributos positivos como parte de la cultura boliviana y como alimento y medicamento, también ha seguido trabajando con las autoridades estadounidenses en los esfuerzos de interdicción de la cocaína y ha informado niveles récordes de aprehensiones de cocaína el año pasado.

Irónicamente, con el Chapare esencialmente pacificado ahora, es en la región de las Yungas, hogar del cultivo permitido legal, que los problemas están surgiendo. La producción de la coca se ha expandido más allá de los 300.000 acres permitidos y los esfuerzos del gobierno boliviano para restringir el tamaño del cultivo han resultado en conflictos entre los cocaleros y las fuerzas armadas. El mayo pasado, el gobierno Morales firmó un acuerdo que permite a los cocaleros en una parte de las Yungas donde la producción ha sido ilegal cultivar un cato por familia, y las negociaciones están en curso con los cocaleros en otras partes de las Yungas.

Pero ese acuerdo también pedía que un destacamento gubernamental siguiera los esfuerzos de erradicación y el primer conflicto violento con los cocaleros en dos años sucedió allí en septiembre, cuando dos cocaleros fueron muertos a tiros por los miembros de un equipo conjunto de erradicación de militares y policías durante un choque por la erradicación. El conflicto había estado preparándose desde febrero pasado cuando el destacamento ingresó a las Yungas de Vandiola tras un acuerdo para eliminar la coca en un parque nacional. Pero otras negociaciones sobre el cultivo de coca fuera del parque flaquearon y, en septiembre, el destacamento armó campamentos en la región. Aunque los agricultores locales dejaran que la erradicación entrara en el parque, el 29 de septiembre ellos intentaron impedir que los erradicadores accediesen a lo que ellos consideraban un área legítima de cultivo de coca, con el saldo de dos agricultores muertos.

Desde entonces, las cosas se han calmado un poco en las Yungas de Vandiola después de un acuerdo que permite que 650 familias cultiven 400 catos de coca, pero sigue la tensión. Mientras tanto, en las principales regiones de cultivo de las Yungas, hay cada vez más tensión por los esfuerzos para reducir el cultivo allí, que excede en mucho el límite legal.

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hay mucho más en Bolivia que la coca -- fiesta en el Altiplano
Como los cocaleros bolivianos aguardan el estudio que determinará el tamaño del mercado legítimo en coca, ellos están viendo no sólo a su gobierno, que está buscando expandir los mercados y ha firmado un acuerdo con el gobierno del presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez tanto para construir una planta de procesamiento en las Yungas como parar transportar la coca a Venezuela, sino también a empresarios como el peruano Christo Deneumostier, dueño de la Coca Shop, en Cusco, Perú, que vende de todo, de galletas y masas de coca a helados de coca. Él le dijo a la Crónica esta semana que quiere volverse la Starbucks de la coca al abrir una serie de franquicias de la Coca Shop por todo el Perú – y más allá. “Nosotros transformamos la coca en productos legales”, dijo. “Necesitamos empezar a comerciar la coca para expandir el mercado legal. El problema no es la planta, sino la demanda de cocaína. Si logramos expandir los mercados legales con nuestros productos, no tendremos que ver aquellas plantas siendo transformadas en cocaína”.

Pero, el comercio de coca para usos medicales y alimenticios legítimos aún está en su infancia y las tiendas de coca como Starbucks aún son un relámpago ante los ojos de empresarios entusiasmados. Con todo, el gobierno Morales ha logrado controlar considerablemente el conflicto civil alrededor de la coca, ha trabajado con el gobierno de los EE.UU. en los esfuerzos de interdicción y está llevando a cabo campañas reales de erradicación. En ese sentido, las políticas bolivianas de la coca están funcionando como nunca antes. ¿Será que el gobierno de los EE.UU. reconocerá esto o será que seguirá criticando a Morales por permitir que la producción aumente en algunas regiones? Busque una respuesta a esta pregunta el próximo mes, cuando salga el informe anual de certificación.

Mientras tanto, la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas va a visitar el Chapare y, probablemente, las Yungas la próxima semana y también va a buscar una comprensión más profunda de las cuestiones de analistas, cultivadores y funcionarios bolivianos y del gobierno estadounidense. Esté atento.

(Phil va a publicar más varios informes en las próximas semanas, durante y después de su estada. Lea el informe de la semana pasada desde Perú aquí y los informes corrientes de la bitácora de Phil desde la región aquí.)

Web Scan

Ken Gorman tribute site

Maryland mandatory minimum report, from the Justice Policy Institute

Groups blast International Narcotics Control Board for blocking effective HIV/AIDS prevention

Private Prisons: Commerce in Souls?, Silja Talvi documentary (video) for SourceCode, The Dish Network

Amnesty International on Colombia paramilitary demobilization (they call it a sham), with Mark Fiore animation

AI Group 86 radio with cops against drug war, Real and MP3

Tony Newman on "$125 for a pack of cigs!" in California prisons, Huffington Post

East-Village.com article about Tony Papa art opening

Does James Bond support legalisation? Daniel Craig on the Transform blog

Job Opportunities: Marijuana Policy Project, Nevada and DC

The Marijuana Policy Project has two jobs currently available:

1. Nevada State Director (based in Nevada)

The Nevada State Director will maintain the momentum MPP has built over the last five years in Nevada, continuing to build MPP's grassroots and institutional support, with the ultimate goal of passing a ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana in Nevada in November 2010. He or she will focus on coalition-building, grassroots organizing, and media outreach, as well as possibly lobbying on occasion. Candidates should have excellent oral and written communication skills, an understanding of politics and public policy, and experience working with reporters and doing media interviews.

2. Federal Policies Internship (based in Washington, DC)

MPP's paid, full-time internships are usually filled by recent graduates and offer an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a fast-paced, well-respected lobbying organization. The Federal Policies Intern will help to coordinate meetings and communications with activists, elected officials, and coalition partners; assist in MPP's campaign to persuade organized medicine to take more favorable positions on medical marijuana; coordinate MPP's online social networking efforts (MySpace, Facebook, etc.); monitor news daily for marijuana-related articles; and provide administrative support as needed. Candidates should have excellent oral and written communications skills and be meticulous, organized, and detail-oriented. NOTE: We are seeking to fill this position immediately, so interested candidates should apply as soon as possible.

For both positions, please visit http://www.mpp.org/jobs for full job descriptions, salary information, and instructions on how to apply. (MPP is not taking phone calls about these positions; rather, all interested candidates should apply by using the process described at the link above.)

Newsbrief: Colorado Town Backs Away from Tougher Marijuana Penalties

Last week, Drug War Chronicle reported on Judge Leonard Freiling's resignation from the municipal court bench to protest Lafayette, Colorado's move to enact a municipal ordinance increasing penalties for marijuana possession. The same day we went to press last week, the city council withdrew that proposed ordinance from consideration, saying that, "City staff and City Council have determined that more information and analysis are needed on this matter."

While the state of Colorado has decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, leaving offenders facing only a $100 fine, the Lafayette measure would have called for up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Thanks to the heat generated by Freiling's resignation, as well as a fast-acting grassroots campaign by activist groups including Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the ACLU of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and Sensible Colorado, the city council found itself forced to retreat. It has now scheduled a public hearing on the issue for April.

"We are very pleased that the Lafayette City Council has withdrawn this drastic and unnecessary measure," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert in a press release announcing the pull-back. "We appreciate their responsiveness to the concerns of Lafayette and Boulder County citizens, and we look forward to serving as a resource for accurate information on marijuana at the council's public workshop on this issue in April."

Score one for the good guys.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy," by Matthew Robinson and Renee Scherlen (2007, State University of New York Press, 268 pp., $27)

There is probably not a single drug reformer alive who, at some point, has not sputtered into his coffee cup upon hearing some inane pronouncement from drug czar John Walters. We know what he is saying is wrong and unjustifiable. Sometimes we even go to the effort of thoroughly debunking one of his outrageous claims. It's not that hard to do, really, but up until now, no one had thoroughly deconstructed the claims made by the Office of National Drug Control Strategy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office), testing them against the norms of science and reason.

That has changed with the recent publication of "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics," by Appalachian State University Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Matthew Robinson and Associate Professor of Political Science Renee Scherlen. Since the annual National Drug Control Strategy reports put out by ONDCP form the basis for crafting federal drug policy, this pair of professors decided to systematically put to the test the claims made by ONDCP as a foundation for those policies.

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ONDCP misrepresents 'Just Say No' connection, 2003 strategy (graphic appears courtesy Prof. Robinson)
Every federal bureaucracy has to justify its budget, and it does so by setting goals and demonstrating how well it has or has not met those goals. But, as Robinson and Scherlen so admirably demonstrate with example after example of the misleading use of statistics and visual graphics, ONDCP is, in many, many ways, distorting reality to paint a rosier picture of its "successes" in waging the war on drugs. They do so in a calm, deliberate, and understated manner rather than engaging in a partisan attack on a set of policies they clearly feel are a disaster.

In order to gauge the accuracy of ONDCP pronouncements, the authors look at three broad sets of claims made by ONDCP: Claims of success in reducing drug use, claims of success in "healing" America's drug users, and claims of success in disrupting drug markets. Robinson and Scherlen examine the annual National Drug Strategy reports beginning in 2000 and extending through 2005 to look at what ONDCP says it is accomplishing in these three broad areas. These three categories describe what it is ONDCP is supposed to be achieving, but, as the authors so comprehensively illustrate, ONDCP is all too ready to resort to deceptive and misleading information.

Let's take claims of success in reducing drug use, for instance. In the 2001 National Drug Strategy, ONDCP produces a chart that shows a dramatic downward trend in teen drug use in the mid-1980s before remaining essentially stable throughout the 1990s. But since ONDCP and its mandate didn't exist before 1988, the chart is misleading. What it really shows is that throughout ONDCP's tenure, it has failed in its stated goal of reducing teen drug use.

Similarly, in the 2003 National Drug Strategy, in an effort to justify its prevention campaigns, ONDCP sought to show that Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign was effective in reducing teen drug use. But to do so, ONDCP relied solely on data involving 18-to-25-year-olds. Since the "Just Say No" campaign was aimed at kids, using data about young adults is "a selective and inappropriate use of statistics," as Robinson and Scherlen so gently put it.

ONCDP also has the curious habit of mentioning "successes" in one year, but failing to revisit them in following years when the numbers don't back them up. In 2000 and 2001, for example, ONDCP crowed about declining marijuana use, even though national drug surveys failed to back it up except in selective categories. But in the annual reports from 2002 to 2005, with marijuana use remaining steady, ONDCP doesn't make any specific claims regarding rates of marijuana use, nor does it provide easily accessible charts or figures. As Robinson and Scherlen note, "Indeed, it appears ONDCP ignores statistics that point to outcomes counter to the drug war."

Robinson and Scherlen go on to systematically dissect ONDCP claims about reducing drug use, "healing" drug users, and disrupting drug markets. Sometimes, they even find that the claims are justified, but this is rarely the case. What the authors repeatedly demonstrate is that ONDCP is unable or unwilling to accurately report its failures to achieve its goals and is willing and able to resort to statistical chicanery to cover up those failures.

In the final two chapters of the book, Robinson and Scherlen attempt a fair assessment of the drug war and ONDCP's ability to meet its self-imposed drug war goals, and offer a series of recommendations for what a more rational drug policy might look like. For one thing, the authors suggest, ONDCP ought to be either terminated or removed from the White House. For an accurate rendition of the numbers regarding drug use, they must be removed from the hothouse political atmosphere of the White House. Currently, the authors argue, ONDCP acts as a "generator and defender of a given ideology in the drug war."

"Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics" is surprisingly easy to read, and Robinson and Scherlen have done a huge favor not only to critics of current drug policy by compiling this damning critique of ONDCP claims, but also to anyone interested in how data is compiled, presented, and misused by bureaucrats attempting to guard their domains. It should be required reading for members of Congress, though, sadly, that is unlikely to happen.

Announcement: DRCNet Content Syndication Feeds Now Available for YOUR Web Site!

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Are you a fan of DRCNet, and do you have a web site you'd like to use to spread the word more forcefully than a single link to our site can achieve? We are pleased to announce that DRCNet content syndication feeds are now available. Whether your readers' interest is in-depth reporting as in Drug War Chronicle, the ongoing commentary in our blogs, or info on specific drug war subtopics, we are now able to provide customizable code for you to paste into appropriate spots on your blog or web site to run automatically updating links to DRCNet educational content.

For example, if you're a big fan of Drug War Chronicle and you think your readers would benefit from it, you can have the latest issue's headlines, or a portion of them, automatically show up and refresh when each new issue comes out.

If your site is devoted to marijuana policy, you can run our topical archive, featuring links to every item we post to our site about marijuana -- Chronicle articles, blog posts, event listings, outside news links, more. The same for harm reduction, asset forfeiture, drug trade violence, needle exchange programs, Canada, ballot initiatives, roughly a hundred different topics we are now tracking on an ongoing basis. (Visit the Chronicle main page, right-hand column, to see the complete current list.)

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Click here to view a sample of what is available -- please note that the length, the look and other details of how it will appear on your site can be customized to match your needs and preferences.

Please also note that we will be happy to make additional permutations of our content available to you upon request (though we cannot promise immediate fulfillment of such requests as the timing will in many cases depend on the availability of our web site designer). Visit our Site Map page to see what is currently available -- any RSS feed made available there is also available as a javascript feed for your web site (along with the Chronicle feed which is not showing up yet but which you can find on the feeds page linked above). Feel free to try out our automatic feed generator, online here.

Contact us for assistance or to let us know what you are running and where. And thank you in advance for your support.

Announcement: DRCNet RSS Feeds Now Available

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RSS feeds are the wave of the future -- and DRCNet now offers them! The latest Drug War Chronicle issue is now available using RSS at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/feed online.

We have many other RSS feeds available as well, following about a hundred different drug policy subtopics that we began tracking since the relaunch of our web site this summer -- indexing not only Drug War Chronicle articles but also Speakeasy blog posts, event listings, outside news links and more -- and for our daily blog postings and the different subtracks of them. Visit our Site Map page to peruse the full set.

Thank you for tuning in to DRCNet and drug policy reform!

Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

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With the launch of our new web site, The Reformer's Calendar no longer appears as part of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter but is instead maintained as a section of our new web site:

The Reformer's Calendar publishes events large and small of interest to drug policy reformers around the world. Whether it's a major international conference, a demonstration bringing together people from around the region or a forum at the local college, we want to know so we can let others know, too.

But we need your help to keep the calendar current, so please make sure to contact us and don't assume that we already know about the event or that we'll hear about it from someone else, because that doesn't always happen.

We look forward to apprising you of more new features on our web site as they become available.

Chronicle on the Scene Feature: Bolivia's "Coca, Yes, Cocaine No" Policy is Beginning to Work

On the long, arduous highway connecting Puno, the last major city in the Peruvian south, with the Bolivian capital of La Paz, travelers approaching Bolivia cross the border on the shores of Lake Titicaca near the small Bolivian town of Copacabana. There, the entrance to Bolivia is marked with a large billboard proclaiming Bolivia's intention to fight the traffic in cocaine and the precursor chemicals needed to transform coca into the popular stimulant drug. The billboard is a stark visual reminder that while Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca grower himself, has embarked on a policy of defending coca, his government has every intention of cracking down on the cocaine business.

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Bolivian government border billboard about anti-cocaine enforcement
Since his election in December 2005, Morales has broken with two decades of US "zero coca" policy in the country and appears to be having some success in establishing limits on coca production without, for the most part, setting off violent social conflict. He has also, as the billboard suggests, moved aggressively against the cocaine traffic. The question now, with the US State Department's annual certification of drug-producing countries' compliance with US drug policy objectives looming next month, is whether the Bush administration is willing to let Morales and the country's coca growers take the time necessary to arrive at reductions in overall coca production without engendering further social conflict.

The third largest producer of coca, from which cocaine is derived, Bolivia has for decades hewed to a policy of coca eradication directed from Washington, but it has paid a high price. In this decade, five presidents were driven from office in five years, at least in part because of simmering resentment over Bolivian obeisance to the US's "zero coca" policy. Prior to the election of Morales, eradication campaigns were accompanied by violent clashes, peasant rebellions, military and police violations of human rights, and numerous fatalities as successive governments sought to impose the will of the US on the country's impoverished coca growers.

"This has been a long-term negative approach," said Kathryn Ledebur of the Andean Information Network, (AIN) whose analyses of Bolivian coca politics inform much of this article. "The US needs to move away from just measuring the size of the coca crop or how much is eradicated and look at how this will play out in the next few years," she told Drug War Chronicle.

As a former coca grower union leader in the Chapare, Morales has the credibility with coca growers to enforce what is known as "cooperative eradication," as opposed to the forced eradication in pursuit of US policy aims that has engendered conflict and political instability in one of Latin America's poorest countries (average annual income under $1,000). While cooperative eradication began in the Chapare before Morales' election, it has gathered steam during his presidency, and in the last two years, Bolivia has seen the smallest increase in coca production of any of the Andean region's three big producers.

The other two major producers are Colombia and Peru. According to US estimates, coca production in Peru increased from 68,000 acres in 2004 to 95,000 acres in 2005, a 38% increase, while Colombian production increased from 285,000 acres to 360,000 acres, a 26% increase, despite widespread aerial fumigation of coca crops there. In Bolivia, on the other hand, the US estimated that production increased from 61,000 acres to 65,000 acres, an increase of only 8%. (The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, on the other hand, estimated an 8% decrease in Bolivian coca production during the same period, but both estimates are very close in terms of the actual size of the 2005 Bolivian crop.)

Overall, when looking at the regional coca production figures for the last five years, despite a US policy of aggressively seeking to eradicate coca, total coca production has increased in a step-wise fashion, rising from 125,000 acres overall in 2000 to nearly 500,000 thousand acres in 2005. This steady climb in overall coca production raises the question of whether any prohibition-based policy aimed at reducing production will achieve success as long as the global demand for cocaine continues to be high. Still, the Morales government is making what appears to be a good faith effort to both slow the rate of increase and appease the Americans.

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Christo Deneumostier, owner of The Coca Shop, Cusco, Peru
In Bolivia, there are two major coca production areas, the Yungas of La Paz province and the Chapare in the eastern Amazon lowlands. Prior to the October 2004 agreement with Chapare growers, only growers in the Yungas, the traditional home of Bolivian coca production, could legally grow coca, and they were limited to 30,000 acres. But the 2004 agreement, which has been accelerated by the Morales government, ignored the 30,000-acre rule, instead allowing all growers in the program to harvest one cato (about 1,600 square meters, or about one-third the size of a football field) of coca, in return for which farmers agreed to accept eradication in two national parks and to cooperatively eradicate any coca beyond the one-cato limit. By growing a cato of coca, farmers are able to generate an annual income of between $900 and $1,300 a year.

That plan was to stay in place until the completion of a study to see how much coca is needed for legal markets, but that study has yet to be completed, and the agreement remains in effect. The majority of the reduction in coca production reported by the UN is now in the Chapare, and the violent conflict that plagued previous forced eradication efforts is now a thing of the past.

Despite the successful effort in the Chapare, US officials have continued to criticize the Morales government's coca policies. Last summer, US drug czar John Walters told reporters that Bolivia's "current level of [anti-drug] cooperation is not what it has been in the past, nor what it needs to be to continue reducing the problem." And just days earlier, a high-level USAID official, Adolfo Franco, testified before Congress that: "In Bolivia, Evo Morales and his Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party have continued to waver on economic policy, democracy and counternarcotics…"

The US has also been critical of an agreement between Morales and coca growers to de facto raise the legal limit from 30,000 acres to 50,000. US officials have criticized the agreement as allowing an increase in coca production. But as AIN's Ledebur told the Chronicle, "The idea that the increase in allowed production will lead to a real increase in production is mistaken. The increase merely accounts for coca that is actually being produced."

But the US Embassy in Bolivia has taken a slightly friendlier approach, one that recognizes the success in the Chapare. Last May, the month before Walters and Franco criticized Bolivia's coca policies, the embassy asked Bolivia to withdraw a US-funded police force from the Chapare, where it had been responsible for protecting eradicators and preventing the road blockades that had plagued the region in the past. The embassy has also publicly praised Morales' appointment of former Chapare coca grower Felipe Caceres as Bolivia's "drug czar" as an "excellent choice."

While the Morales government has adopted cooperative eradication in the Chapare and pro-coca policies that seek to increase legal markets for coca and recognize its positive attributes as part of Bolivian culture and as a food and medicine, it has also continued to work with US authorities in cocaine interdiction efforts and reported record levels of cocaine seizures last year.

Ironically, with the Chapare now essentially pacified, it is the Yungas region, home of the permitted legal cultivation, where problems are now arising. Coca production has expanded above the 30,000 acres allowed, and Bolivian government efforts to restrain the size of the crop have led to clashes between growers and the armed forces. Last May, the Morales government signed an agreement allowing growers in a part of the Yungas where production has been illegal to grow one cato per family, and negotiations are underway with growers in other parts of the Yungas.

But that agreement also called for a government task force to continue eradication efforts, and the first violent conflict with coca growers in two years occurred there in September, when two cocaleros were shot dead by members of a joint military-police eradication team during a conflict over eradication. The conflict had been simmering ever since last February when the task force entered the Vandiola Yungas after an agreement to eliminate coca in a national park there. But further negotiations about coca growing outside the park faltered, and in September the task force set up camps in the region. While local farmers allowed eradication to go inside the park, on September 29, they tried to block eradicators from entering what they considered a legitimate coca growing area, with the result that two farmers were killed.

Things have since cooled down somewhat in the Vandiola Yungas after an agreement allowing 650 families to grow 400 catos of coca, but tensions remain. Meanwhile, in the primary Yungas growing regions, there is increasing tension over efforts to curb cultivation there, which well exceeds the legal limit.

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much more to life in Bolivia than coca -- fiesta in the Altiplano
As Bolivian coca growers await the study that will determine the size of the legitimate market in coca, they are looking not only to their own government, which is seeking to expand markets and has contracted with the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both to build a processing plant in the Yungas and to ship coca to Venezuela, but also to entrepreneurs like Peruvian Christo Deneumostier, owner of the Coca Shop, in Cusco, Peru, who sells everything from coca cookies and pastries to coca ice cream. He told the Chronicle this week he wanted to become the Starbucks of coca by opening a series of Coca Shop franchises across Peru -- and beyond. "We transform coca into legal products," he said. "We need to start marketing coca to expand the legal market. The problem is not the plant, but the demand for cocaine. If we can expand legal markets with our products, we won't have to see those plants turned into cocaine."

But the marketing of coca for legitimate medicinal and alimentary uses is still in its infancy, and Starbucks-like coca shops are still a glimmer in the eye of excited entrepreneurs. Still, the Morales government has substantially managed to put a lid on civil conflict around coca, has worked with the US government in interdiction efforts, and is undertaking real eradication campaigns. In that sense, Bolivian coca policy is working in a way it never has before. Will the US government recognize this, or will it continue to criticize Morales for allowing increases in production in some regions? Look for an answer to that question next month, when the annual certification report comes out.

In the meantime, Drug War Chronicle will be visiting the Chapare and, probably, the Yungas next week, as well as seeking a deeper understanding of the issues from analysts, growers, and Bolivian and US government officials. Stay tuned.

(Phil will be publishing several more from-the-scene reports over the coming weeks, during and after his stay. Read last week's report from Peru here and Phil's ongoing blog reports from the region here.)

Job Opportunity: Syringe Exchange Program Specialist, CA

The Harm Reduction Coalition is listing a job opportunity in California for a Syringe Exchange Program Specialist. The Syringe Exchange Program Specialist will be responsive to the technical assistance and training needs of California Syringe Exchange Programs and Local Health Jurisdictions. He/she must possess organizational skills, training and technical assistance expertise and hands on experience with community-based syringe access. Experience with community organizing and familiarity with local service providers and communities is preferred. This position is based in Oakland, CA, but Los Angeles may be a possibility for the right candidate.

Responsibilities include coordinating activities related to syringe access, coordinating intake of training and technical requests, responding to training and technical assistance requests within 48 hours, coordinate individual level plan for syringe exchange program in need, providing technical assistance on implementation strategies, developing regional, individual and group trainings, maintaining relationships with consultants and contract consultants on an "as needed" basis, attending staff and program meetings, and performing additional duties as required.

Ideal candidates are highly organized, independent thinkers with capacity to operationalize systems and streamline information through several projects. HRC values candidates with a strong work ethic, common sense, humor, and a commitment to human rights and social justice issues. The salary is $43,000-46,000 per year.

How to Apply: Please e-mail your resume and cover letter to [email protected] or fax to (510) 444-6977. No phone calls please. HRC is hiring immediately, so please act quickly if you are interested in the position.

People of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people with histories of substance use are encouraged to apply. HRC is EOE and offers a competitive salary with decent health benefits.

Weekly: This Week in History

Posted in:

February 23, 1887: The 49th Congress of the United States enacts legislation that provides a misdemeanor fine of between $50 and $500 for any US or Chinese citizen found guilty of violating the ban on opium.

March 1, 1915: The Harrison Narcotics Act goes into legal effect, beginning federal prohibition of drugs.

February 26, 1995: Former mayor of San Francisco Frank Jordan is quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying, "I have no problem whatsoever with the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I am sensitive and compassionate to people who have legitimate needs. We should bend the law and do what's right."

February 28, 1995: In compliance with the 1994 Crime Act, the US Sentencing Commission issues a report on the current federal structure of differing penalties on powder cocaine and crack cocaine, recommending that Congress "revisit" penalties enacted for those offenses.

February 29, 1996: In his State of the Union address, President Clinton nominates Army General Barry McCaffrey, a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. McCaffrey had been head of the US Southern Command (SouthCom) which provides military backup for US policy in Latin America -- a policy long linked with chronically ineffective and corrupt drug enforcement.

February 25, 1997: President Bill Clinton proposes spending $175 million for a national television blitz targeting drug use by America's youth. Matching funds from the private sector would be sought. Clinton says, "If a child does watch television -- and what child doesn't -- he or she should not be able to escape these messages."

February 28, 1998: President Clinton recertifies Mexico as a fully cooperating ally in the struggle against drug smuggling despite a letter from 40 US senators urging Clinton to deny certification.

February 27, 1999: Conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. is quoted in the New York Post, "Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could."

March 1, 1999: The advice columnist Abigail Van Buren in her popular column "Dear Abby" says: "I agree that marijuana laws are overdue for an overhaul. I also favor the medical use of marijuana -- if it's prescribed by a physician. I cannot understand why the federal government should interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, nor why it would ignore the will of the majority of voters who have legally approved such legislation."

February 24, 2000: Members of the Belgian Parliament make a proposal to modify their laws in order to partially decriminalize the possession of cannabis and its derivatives. Simple marijuana possession is effectively decriminalized three years later.

February 28, 2000: UPI reports that Spanish researchers said the chemical in marijuana that produces a "high" shows promise as a weapon against deadly brain tumors. A research team from Complutense University and Autonoma University in Madrid found that one of marijuana's active ingredients, THC, killed tumor cells in advanced cases of glioma, a quick-killing cancer for which there is currently no effective treatment.

March 1, 2004: The State Department releases its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) revealing that Afghanistan produced a larger poppy crop in 2003 than ever before. Some 61,000 hectares of land were cultivated with poppy in 2003 -- up almost twofold from about 31,000 hectares in 2002.

Southwest Asia: Afghan Opium Eradication Effort Sparks New Violence

Afghan police briefly fled from a town in Bakwa district in Farah province after four of them were killed in a roadside bomb attack as their 10-vehicle convoy returned from a day of eradicating opium plants. Taliban militants moved into the town and seized three vehicles before abandoning the area, local officials said.

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Meanwhile, in Ghor province, one poppy farmer was killed and two wounded when police opened fire on a crowd of 500 people protesting government eradication efforts. The protest came after police began eradicating plants in the area.

In Bakwa, the roadside bomb targeted the province's police chief. He was uninjured, but four officers riding in his vehicle were killed. "Three policemen were killed on the spot, and another died of his injuries in the hospital today," district Police Chief Afgha Saqib told Deutsch Presse-Agentur Monday.

Saqib blamed the Taliban for the attack. The resurgent guerrilla group is widely seen as benefiting from the drug trade in Afghanistan, which now produces more than 90% of the world's opium.

Taliban militants also seized the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province on February 1 and remain in control there. Helmand is now the largest opium producing province in the country.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected US offers to spray poppy plants with herbicides and vowed to undertake an extensive eradication campaign this year. Last year, the Afghan opium crop grew by a whopping 49% over the previous year, producing an estimated 6,700 tons of opium, enough to make 670 tons of heroin.

Europe: British Top Cop Calls for Prescription Heroin for Addicts

The head of the British Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) called this week for addicts to be prescribed heroin to prevent them from committing crimes to feed their habits. ACPO head Ken Jones, the former chief constable of Sussex, also admitted that current law enforcement strategies are failing when it comes to a "hardcore minority" of heroin users.

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Ken Jones
"You need to understand there is a hard core, a minority, who nevertheless commit masses of crime to feed their addiction," Jones said in remarks reported by The Independent. "We have got to be realistic -- I have looked into the whites of these people's eyes and many have no interest whatsoever in coming off drugs. We have to find a way of dealing with them, and licensed prescription is definitely something we should be thinking about."

Jones is one of the most senior police officials ever to advocate the use of prescription heroin in the effort to reduce the harm from black market use of the drug. According to research in Great Britain, heroin users commit an average of 432 crimes a year.

Studies in Switzerland and the Netherlands, where prescription heroin programs are underway, have found reductions in crimes committed by participants. While Britain has some 40,000 registered heroin addicts using methadone (and an estimated 327,000 "problem drug users" of cocaine or heroin), only a few hundred are currently receiving prescribed heroin as part of a pilot program. That's not enough, said Jones.

"I am not in any shape or form a legalizer, but what I am concerned with is that we have to shape up to some tough realities," he said. "We don't have enough treatment places for those who want to go on them. What we need is a cross-party consensus which considers the overwhelming public view to be tough on the roots of drugs, as well as treating its victims," he argued.

"I was a drugs officer and we have to be realistic," Jones continued. "There is a hardcore minority who are not in any way shape or form anxious to come off drugs. They think 'I am going to go out there and steal, rob, burgle and get the money to buy it'. What are we going to do -- say 'OK we are going to try and contain this by normal criminal justice methods' and fail, or are we going to look at doing something different? Start being a bit more innovative. It is about looking at things in a different way without turning away completely from the current position."

While up until the 1960s, British doctors regularly prescribed heroin to addicts, that practice ended under US pressure and because of scandals related to loose prescribing. It is time to go back to the good old days, Jones said. "There are junkies who are alive today who would have been dead now," he said. "Their lives are stable, yes, their addiction is being maintained, but far better they are being maintained than them trying to get their fix off the street from crime. Heroin is an incredible stimulator of crime and I think we are foolish if we don't acknowledge that."

Marijuana: Colorado Pot Advocate Ken Gorman Killed Saturday, Days After Local News Station Did "Exposé" On Him

Colorado marijuana activist Ken Gorman, 59, was shot and killed in his Denver home Saturday night in an apparent home invasion robbery. The killing came just days after local TV station CBS4 aired a report on him that included shots of marijuana plants growing inside his home. Gorman grew the plants legally as a registered medical marijuana patient, but in the report, Gorman was seen advising avowed non-medicinal marijuana users how to use the medical marijuana laws to be able to possess the plant with impunity. As of Thursday, no arrests had been made and police said they were still investigating.

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Ken Gorman's web icon
Gorman was one of the most well-known faces in the Colorado marijuana and medical marijuana scene. He was also a member of DRCNet. Gorman had organized several smoke-ins at the state capitol, as well as giving numerous lectures and making public appearances supporting the medical and recreational use of marijuana. He also ran for governor on a pro-marijuana platform.

According to witness accounts, three masked men entered Gorman's home with guns drawn Saturday evening. Shots were fired, police were called, and they found him lying on his living room floor with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

While Denver police refused to speculate on whether the killing was related to Gorman's legal medical marijuana grow, fellow activists had little doubt that he died in an attempted robbery. "It's pretty amazing that this guy worked his entire life trying to make marijuana legal and in the end, the fact that marijuana is illegal is what led to his death," Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER, an organization dedicated to legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana, told the Denver Daily News. "It's safe to say that if marijuana were legal Ken would not have been killed," Tvert said. "I think it's a violent incident highlighting what happens when marijuana is kept illegal."

Gorman himself had told CBS4 just a few weeks ago that he feared being robbed because of his openness about his marijuana operation. "I mean, I've had a gun stuck to my head, people stabbed in my house from people trying to get my marijuana," Gorman said on January 31. He added that his home had been burglarized 15 times.

Gorman will be missed. "I've been in patient meetings where patients stood, with tears in their eyes, and said, 'When no one would help me, Ken Gorman would,'" said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a nonprofit organization that advocates for drug policy reform in Colorado. "You don't hear that, that often," Vicente told the Daily News. "He was a character."

Bad Bills: Nevada Legislation Could Send Parents to Prison for 15 Years for a Single Plant

Building on a 2005 law that made it a felony offense for people to operate methamphetamine labs in homes where children are present, a Nevada legislator has introduced a bill that would subject people growing even a single marijuana plant to the same penalties. Under the bill, they could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

The bill, Senate Bill 6, was introduced by state Sen. Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas), who doesn't see any difference between undertaking a complicated and risky chemical process and growing a plant. "You are exposing children to dangers when you are selling any illegal substance out of your house or growing any illegal substance out of your house, so you should be held to the higher penalties," Heck told the Senate Human Services and Education Committee.

"If a guy has a couple of (marijuana) plants in there (now), he could be out in a week," Heck said. "But if there is a child present, with this, now he could serve five to 15 years for exposing that child to the dangers of this activity. The very behavior of small children puts them at risk around these materials, including marijuana," Heck said. "As any parent knows, the first place a toddler places anything they find is in their mouth. What if this object is a marijuana plant?"

But during the Monday hearing on the bill, representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Clark County (Las Vegas) Public Defenders Office urged legislators to think twice. "The way the bill is currently drafted states that someone could be growing marijuana for their personal use and not for the purposes of distributing it, selling it or engaging in drug trafficking and they would be treated as if they were engaged in those activities," said Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada.

The proposed new law amounted to "shooting fleas with cannons," Peck said, adding that it could impose an even greater burden on the state's overflowing prison population. "No one who is testifying in support of the bill can actually talk about the implications in respect to the incarceration rate," Peck said.

Applying the same penalties to meth lab operators and pot plant growers is inappropriate, said public defender Jason Frierson. "The reason that statute was written the way it was is because meth labs have a tendency to explode and the chemical components, the fumes and the chemical burns -- the exposure to those were the reasons for the greater penalties," Frierson said. "As I read it, this is treating the growth of one marijuana plant similarly with the existence of a meth lab in the presence of children."

The usual suspects supported the bill, including the Nevada District Attorneys Association, the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association and the Peace Officers Research Association. "It is our belief that anytime you have drugs and children together, it is a dangerous combination, a dangerous mix," said Kristin Erickson, a Washoe County deputy district attorney speaking for the state association.

Nevada is a state where medical marijuana is legal and patients or caregivers can grow up to three or four plants, but the bill makes no mention of that.

Medical Marijuana: Supporters File Federal Lawsuit Against HHS, FDA

The medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against two federal agencies over their contention that marijuana "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." The lawsuit names the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as defendants. ASA accused the FDA and HHS of issuing "false and misleading" statements about the medicinal uses of marijuana.

"The FDA position on medical cannabis is incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws requiring the government to base policy on sound science," said Joe Elford, ASA chief counsel.

"The science to support medical cannabis is overwhelming, yet the government continues to play politics with the lives of patients desperately in need of pain relief," said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. "Americans for Safe Access is filing this lawsuit on medical cannabis to demand that the FDA stop holding science hostage to politics."

The filing of the lawsuit comes at the end of a two-year petition process during which the FDA and HHS refused to respond to complaints that they were playing politics with the science of medicinal marijuana. The lawsuit charges that the two agencies are violating the Data Quality Act, which requires federal agencies to rely on sound science. The act, originally crafted by industrial lobbyists as a weapon their corporate clients can use in their ongoing battles with federal regulators, also allows citizens to challenge inaccurate information or that based on faulty data.

ASA first filed a petition seeking redress from HHS in October 2004, but the agency refused to act on the petition. ASA appealed in May 2005, to no avail. Now it is taking its challenge to the federal courts.

"Citizens have a right to expect the government to use the best available information for policy decisions. This innovative case turns the Data Quality Act into a tool for the public interest," said preeminent legal scholar and case co-counsel Alan Morrison, who founded Public Citizen's Litigation Group and currently serves as a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Cânhamo: Ron Paul Apresenta Projeto de Cânhamo Industrial no Congresso dos EUA

O congressista republicano do Texas, Ron Paul, apresentou um projeto que legalizaria a agricultura do cânhamo nos Estados Unidos. Esta é a segunda vez que o deputado Paul apresenta este projeto, mas ele não chegou a lugar nenhum no último Congresso. O projeto, o HR 1009, permitiria que os fabricantes domésticos que usam cânhamo o comprassem de produtores estadunidenses. Atualmente, a lei estadunidense impede a produção de cânhamo industrial e os fabricantes estadunidenses têm que importar o cânhamo deles de outros países.

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Ron Paul
Desta vez, o deputado Paul tem nove defensores, todos democratas. Eles são os deputados Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Jim McDermott (D-WA), George Miller (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA) e Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

"É indefensável que o governo dos Estados Unidos impeça os agricultores estadunidenses de cultivarem esta planta. A proibição subsidia os agricultores em países que vão do Canadá à Romênia ao eliminar a competição estadunidense e encoraja a localização de empregos em indústrias como a de alimentos, autopeças e roupas que utilizam o cânhamo industrial no exterior em vez de estarem aqui nos Estados Unidos", disse o deputado Paul. "Ao aprovar a Lei de Agricultura do Cânhamo Industrial [Industrial Hemp Farming Act], a Câmara dos Deputados pode ajudar os agricultores estadunidenses e reduzir o déficit comercial - tudo isso sem gastar um único dólar do contribuinte".

Os fabricantes de alimentos à base de cânhamo como a French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path e Nutiva fazem seus produtos com o cânhamo canadense. "Segundo a política nacional de controle das drogas atual, o cânhamo industrial pode ser importado, mas não pode ser cultivado pelos agricultores estadunidenses", diz Eric Steenstra, presidente da Vote Hemp. "A DEA tomou o conceito antiquado de maconha da Lei de Substâncias Controladas [Controled Substances Act] fora de contexto e o usou como pretexto para proibir a agricultura do cânhamo industrial. A Lei de Agricultura do Cânhamo Industrial de 2007 nos trará de volta a tempos mais racionais em que o governo regulava a maconha, mas dizia aos agricultores que podiam prosseguir e continuar cultivando cânhamo como sempre tinham feito", disse Steenstra.

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plantas de cânhamo
A apresentação do projeto sobre o cânhamo acontece dias depois que Dakota do Norte lançou as primeiras autorizações estaduais para que os agricultores cultivem o cânhamo. Mas, os cultivadores de cânhamo de Dakota do Norte ainda devem conseguir a aprovação da DEA, algo que provavelmente não acontecerá sob a lei atual. Dakota do Norte não está sozinho. Uns 14 outros estados aprovaram medidas pró-cânhamo e sete aprovaram projetos que tiram as barreiras à sua produção ou pesquisa.

América Latina: México Toma Providências para Descriminalizar o Porte de Drogas - Para que Possa Se Concentrar nos Traficantes

Os legisladores do Partido de Ação Nacional (PAN) do presidente mexicano Felipe Calderón apresentaram um projeto de lei no Senado Mexicano que descriminalizaria o porte de pequenas quantidades de drogas para os "viciados". Um projeto de reforma das políticas de drogas ainda mais forte que incluía limites mais altos de porte pessoal de drogas e que teria sido aplicado a todos os consumidores de drogas foi aprovado tanto pelo Senado quanto pelo Congresso Mexicano, só para ser vetado pelo presidente Vicente Fox após as fortes objeções de Washington.

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cartaz da DEA em espanhol que procura a organização mexicana do narcotráfico
Segundo a versão do projeto deste ano, que foi apresentado no Senado na quarta-feira, as pessoas pegas pela primeira vez com menos de dois gramas de maconha e quantidades igualmente pequenas de outras drogas, como cocaína e metanfetamina, não seriam processadas. Mas, as pessoas pegas mais de uma vez em porte de drogas ilegais seriam processadas a menos que se qualificassem como "viciadas" provando que estavam em tratamento químico ou sob cuidados médicos. O projeto retém uma disposição que protegeria de processo os indígenas que levassem a cabo o consumo religioso de drogas.

Mas, a legislação proposta não marca uma liberalização das políticas de drogas do México. Em troca, aumenta o poder do México de prender e processar os infratores da legislação antidrogas ao permitir que os sistemas estaduais judicial e policial de tomar providências contra os infratores por drogas. Segundo a lei atual, esse poder é reservado ao governo federal. O projeto permitiria que as autoridades se concentrassem nos traficantes de drogas ao liberar recursos para perseguir os traficantes e aumenta as sentenças de prisão para os delitos de tráfico de drogas.

"Isto não é legalização", disse o senador do PAN, Alejandro González, que dirige a comissão de justiça do Senado. "Vamos ser muito mais duros com os traficantes de drogas", disse em entrevista coletiva na Cidade do México na segunda-feira.

Desde que assumiu o cargo em dezembro, o presidente Calderón declarou guerra contra as organizações violentas do tráfico de drogas do México. Ele mandou milhares de efetivos aos germinais do narcotráfico, como o estado de Michoacán e as cidades grandes assoladas pela violência e a corrupção relacionadas às drogas, como Tijuana e Acapulco.

A versão do projeto do ano passado estabelecia quantidades para o uso pessoal, fazendo com que fosse vetada por fim, disse González. "Cometeu-se um erro, infelizmente, na câmara baixa, acrescentando a isenção aos consumidores. Isso realmente traiu o espírito das reformas, aumentando as quantidades e por isso estamos prestando atenção às críticas e fazendo as mudanças", observou.

Ah, claro, o "espírito das reformas". A lei está feita para facilitar a guerra às drogas do México, não para acabar com ela.

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