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Former U.S. Attorney to Speak in Favor of Marijuana Legalization and Taxation Bill

Former federal prosecutor John McKay will join Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson of Seattle in speaking in favor of a bill to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana in Washington state.

John Stossel: End the Drug War, Save Black America (Opinion)

John Stossel discusses issues related to the devastating impact the war on drugs has on the black community.

Three Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Chosen to Operate in Rhode Island

The long-awaited decision on medical marijuana dispensaries was announced with the Department of Health selecting three applicants, the maximum permitted under state law. They are: Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, and Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth.

Obama Sends Drones to Fight Failed Mexican Drug Prohibition War

The Obama administration has been sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence. The American assistance has been kept secret because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty.

Washington State Should Improve Protections for Medical Marijuana Patients and Suppliers (Editorial)

The Seattle Times editorial board reiterates its support for Senate Bill 5073, to expand the protection for medical marijuana users and their suppliers.

New York Spends $75 Million a Year on Marijuana Arrests Though It's Not Technically a Crime

New York spends $75 million a year to lock up people caught with marijuana, a new study says, even though it's not technically a crime. The report by the Drug Policy Alliance says the NYPD spends that much on 50,000 annual marijuana arrests, in which 86% of those arrested are black or Latino. State law requires people carrying small amounts of marijuana to receive the equivalent of a traffic ticket, but critics say the NYPD arrests and jails them anyway - hurting their job and life prospects.

Marijuana Reform Hearings at Rhode Island State House Tomorrow (Press Release)

MEDIA ADVISORY: March 15, 2011

Marijuana Reform Hearings at State House Tomorrow

Shocking: US Federal Agency Armed Mexican Drug Lords -- May Have Led to More Than a Thousand Deaths

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms operation allowed guns to be trafficked south of the border with the hope that they would lead to high-level drug trafficking organization operatives. Special Agent John Dodson — the program’s whistle blower — said that he found it morally reprehensible, pointing out that it might have led to the death of over a thousand people.

Announcement of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses Expected in Rhode Island

The Health Department is expected to announce today the selection of up to three applicants to open the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island. Health Department spokeswoman Annemarie Beardsworth did not offer a specific time today when the decision would be finalized and released to the public. The decision was originally set for a week ago, but the department said that it needed additional time to reach its decision.

Drug Traffickers Greet New Ciudad Juárez Police Chief with Threat

Mexico's 4-year-plus drug prohibition war push doesn't appear to be making its cities any safer. The new police chief in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez received a threat on just his second day on the job. Two previous Ciudad Juárez police chiefs have quit since 2008 after drug trafficking organizations killed police officers and threatened to kill more unless they resigned.

‘Shooting Galleries’ Take Aim at Illicit Drug Market

Lately, a few British politicians have revived the idea of dispensing taxpayer-funded heroin. Spurred by successful trials in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe, the idea that governments can reduce both addiction and street crime — and maybe bleed black markets dry — by managing drug distribution has gained momentum. "It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation," a British MP named Bob Ainsworth said at the end of last year. "We must take the trade away from organized criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."

U.K. Reggae Star Smiley Culture Dies During Drug Raid

British reggae musician Smiley Culture has died after a drug raid on his home. The incident at Culture’s home is currently being investigated by the U.K. Independent Police Complaints Commission, after having been reported by Scotland Yard.

LSD Icon Owsley 'Bear' Stanley Dead at 76; Killed in Car Accident in Australia

Owsley "Bear" Stanley's long, strange trip has ended. The counterculture icon who was a major LSD producer in the 1960s and was celebrated in song by The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, has died in a car crash in Australia.

Publishers High on Marijuana Books

Former actresses are doing it. New York Times journalists are doing it. Screenwriters are doing it. Writing about marijuana, that is. With the changing legal times, and the jaw-dropping reality that pot has become a $35 billion legal industry in the U.S., the subject is drawing a motley crew of authors exploring everything from agriculture and big business to socioeconomic norms and the joys of toking. Agents say the surge in books about pot speaks to the fact that the subject matter is that rarest of things: serious and fun.

Drug Truth Network 03/14/11

*DRUG TRUTH NETWORK PROGRAMS, Mar 13 to Mar 20, 2011*

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Says It's Time to Decriminalize Minor Marijuana Use in Connecticut

Malloy decided a long time ago that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be treated as a criminal offense, and he wants Connecticut to join him. The Democratic governor's plan to reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a crime to an infraction that carries a fine is the subject of a public hearing Monday before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee.

Australians Furious As Drug Prohibition War Targets Common Garden-Variety Plants

Australia's Attorney General has proposed to extend the list of prohibited plants to include varieties of acacia and cacti, commonly found in gardens. "This law would make it criminal offence for our staff to supply these plants and our customers to buy them," said Doron Francis of CERES Permaculture & Bushfood Nursery. National and Environmental technical policy manager Dr. Anthony Kachenko said nurseries, horticulturalists and other businesses would be wiped out by the government's "blanket approach" to tackling the drug trade.

Florida Lawmakers Sponsor Bill to Make Medical Marijuana Legal

State lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in Florida. They're working together to pass a resolution that could go before voters in 2012.

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Affects Texas Farmers

And the spillover continues: The bloody prohibition war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives has spread to the Lone Star state's agriculture, where drug traffickers are targeting farmers' livelihoods. Texas farmers and ranchers say confrontations with Mexican drug trafficking organizations are quietly adding up. Several growers and ranchers say their jobs started becoming more dangerous about two years ago.

Spillover Violence from Mexico Drug Prohibition War - Why Do Leaders Deny It?

We've heard for some time now that drug prohibition violence from Ciudad Juárez is spilling over into El Paso. An indictment just released against Barrio Azteca gang members confirms it. So why are some law enforcement agencies and local leaders so reluctant to admit it?

Bolivia President Evo Morales Attacks Drug Reports

Bolivian president Evo Morales has accused the United States and the United Nations of conspiring to defame his government in two drug reports. He said criticism over Bolivia's handling of the war on drugs were part of a strategy to falsely link his government to drug trafficking. Morales said the US was trying to force him to invite American anti-narcotics agents back into Bolivia.

Is Hawaii One Step Closer to Legalizing Marijuana?

After a state Senate session, Hawaii is arguably five steps closer. The Senate voted to pass five medical marijuana-related bills on to the House.

Delaware Valley School District Sued Over Drug Testing Policy

ACLU lawyers are fighting Delaware Valley School District's drug-testing policy in court on behalf of two students. The ACLU believes the district's policy violates a 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, Theodore vs. Delaware Valley School District. That decision required schools to justify suspicionless drug testing programs with evidence of a widespread drug problem among students, unless the school could show additional evidence that the group of students undergoing testing had a high rate of drug use.

We Need Your Ideas!



Portugal's Experiment with Drug Laws Is Paying Off (Opinion)

Daniel Akst, a columnist for Newsday, opines on the success of Portugal's comprehensive drug policy reforms. He concludes the American war on drugs is a costly failure on a larger scale than was Prohibition, with ramifications far beyond U.S. borders. He says we'll never eliminate drugs for the simple reason that too many people like them. But it's time to figure out a way to decriminalize narcotics, at the very least, even while firmly discouraging their use.

Ron Paul: Hemp for Victory

Ron Paul supports the legalization of industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis that provides an eco-friendly source of fiber and protein. Paul is a perennial author of hemp legalization bills, the latest of which is being promoted in May during the second-annual Hemp History Week. In this interview Josh Harkinson partially spoke with Paul about the benefits of hemp.

This Week in History

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

U.S. Allowed Smuggled Guns into Mexico in Secret Drug War Tactic

Mexico has made an official request for more information about a secret U.S. government operation to allow smugglers to take nearly 1,800 guns into Mexico in an effort to track them to drug trafficking organizations. The operation, code-named "Fast and Furious," was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), in spite of objections from its own agents. Assault weapons and high-powered sniper rifles were among the guns smuggled in to Mexico over a period of 15 months. Some of the 1,765 weapons have since been linked to crime -- including the murder of a U.S. border patrol agent in December. Fewer than 800 of the guns have been recovered.

New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee in 14-3 Vote (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                

Derek Copp Sues Ottawa County Over Drug Raid Shooting at Grand Valley State University

A GVSU student shot in the chest by a deputy during a marijuana raid is suing the deputy who fired the shot. In March 2009, Derek Copp was living in an off-campus apartment he shared with a roommate, who was the target of a drug investigation. The federal lawsuit claims "gross negligence and willfull recklessness" in how the raid was conducted. Copp and his lawyers are asking a judge to make changes in how Ottawa County deputies use firearms and conduct searches.

More Undercover Drug Cases Dropped Amid Growing SFPD Scandal

Eight more criminal cases were dropped by prosecutors in connection with a looming scandal involving an undercover police unit accused of conducting illegal drug raids and falsifying police reports. The cases in San Francisco Superior Court involved the same officers previously accused of entering residential hotel rooms without warrants or consent and then allegedly lying about their actions on police reports. One officer was accused of falsely arresting a man for drug possession.

ACLU: DEA’s Politics Are Keeping Cannabis-Based Medicines Off Shelves

After a decade of waging a hard-fought battle with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which repeatedly denied his application for the production of medical marijuana, Dr. Lyle E. Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, said he would call it quits, resigning his fight in bitter defeat. The ACLU released its final brief on Craker's case, which calls on the DEA to grant research permits for the production of medical cannabis. They flatly state that cannabis medicines have not yet cleared the Food and Drug Administration because of the DEA's pernicious politics and tight monopoly on the granting of production licenses.

Drug Czar Faints While Speaking at Harvard, Faints Again Later in Airport

The U.S. drug czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske, collapsed while speaking to law students at Harvard. He fainted again later while at Logan International Airport on his way back to Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles Voters Asked to Tax Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The cash-strapped city of Los Angeles is trying to create a new source of revenue by asking voters to tax medical marijuana dispensaries. Measure M, if approved, would allow to the city to collect $50 out of each $1,000 in "gross reimbursements" that dispensaries receive from their patients. That could generate $10 million a year, which the city can use to pay for basic services such police, libraries and street repairs. "This is something we cannot say 'no' to," Councilwoman Janice Hahn said.

Knox County D.A.R.E Drug Prevention Curriculum Bumped in Face of Call for Measurable Results

This spring, the Knox County Sheriff's Office will teach its final classes of the 25-year-old Drug Awareness Resistance Education program in local county schools. D.A.R.E., developed as a drug prevention curriculum by the Los Angeles Police Department for children 10-12 years old, has been long criticized by many studies and organizations -- including the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education -- for not being effective at keeping kids away from drugs later in life.

Mexican Shoot-Out Kills 18 As Drug Prohibition Violence Surges

A shoot-out between rival drug trafficking organizations left 18 people dead in Mexico's Tamaulipas state, amid a surge in deadly drug prohibition violence. The state has been the scene of horrifying killings, including last August, when a mass grave containing the bodies of 72 people, believed to be Central American migrants, was found on a local ranch.

Washington State Workers Await Court's Decision on Protecting Legal Medical Marijuana Use

Among the questions left unanswered by Washington's medical marijuana law: Can legal use of medical marijuana get you fired? Thirteen years after voters approved its use, that question is likely to be answered by the Washington Supreme Court, which heard a test case on the issue last month.

Illinois Lawmaker Determined to Breathe New Life Into Medical Marijuana Debate

Nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries could soon be supplying patients in Illinois, if state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, is successful in his latest push to get the long-awaited measure through the state legislature. Lang said that he plans to place tighter restrictions on the amount of medical marijuana distributed to patients and take out the grow-your-own provisions that opponents railed against during the last General Assembly. If he is successful, the bill could be out of committee and on the state House floor late this week.

Tommy Chong Lights Up Canadian New Democratic Party Campaign

Other contenders for B.C.'s NDP leadership race might be making campaign promises and rolling out platforms, but candidate and pot activist Dana Larsen is bringing out actor and comedian Tommy Chong. The celebrity marijuana user — one half of the former movie duo Cheech and Chong — has publicly endorsed Larsen for the leadership.

Acapulco’s Taxi Drivers Being Murdered in Drug Prohibition War

In the last few weeks, more than a dozen taxi drivers and passengers have been murdered in the resort city of Acapulco. A 2008 survey reported that 120 of the 200 taxi drivers in the city of Chetumal, Mexcio, reported to have been threatened with violence against their families if they refused to deliver drugs on behalf of the local drug trafficking organization.

N.J. Patients, Advocates Criticize Proposed Rules on Medical Marijuana

For nearly two hours, dozens of patients and their advocates — some through tears, others at the top of their lungs — vented their frustrations over the state's proposed rules for New Jersey's yet-to-launch medical marijuana program. The hearing, though required before the state can adopt new rules, might be for naught. The Democrat-controlled Legislature are two votes away from overturning the health department's regulations and ordering them to start over or write the rules itself.

Mexico's Drug Prohibition War Disappearances Leave Families in Anguish

Thousands of people have vanished without a trace – some caught up in prohibition violence, others for no reason anyone can fathom. Relatives remain in agonized limbo. The disappearances are a disturbing echo of a tactic employed by dictatorships in the so-called dirty wars that plagued parts of Latin America in the last half of the 20th century.

Save a Cop's Life: End the Drug War (Opinion)

Neill Franklin, who performed narcotics enforcement with the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department over a 34-year career, opines that we desperately need to end the "war on drugs" which has done so little to prevent people from using drugs but which has done so much to enrich organized criminals who do not hesitate to use violence to protect their black market profits. Franklin asks: How many more hardworking and brave law enforcers do we have to see killed in the line of duty before our elected officials will change this policy?

New England New Hotbed for Marijuana Law Reform? (Opinion)

The northeast has historically been a hotbed for marijuana use — with five of the six New England states self-reporting some of the highest percentages of marijuana consumption in the nation. But recently New England has also become a regional leader in marijuana law reform. Lawmakers in every New England state are now debating marijuana law reform legislation. Paul Armentano of NORML offers a closer look at what is happening.

Morales: DEA Not Coming Back to Bolivia‎

The arrest of Bolivia's top counternarcotics cop, Rene Sanabria, has not changed President Morales' stance on allowing the DEA into the country. Morales insisted he has no intention of inviting the DEA back. He alleged "interests of a geopolitical nature" were behind the Sanabria case. "They are using police to try to implicate the government," he said. Vice minister of social defense, Felipe Caceres, suggested that Sanabria's arrest was the DEA's revenge for being expelled. The president also hinted at U.S. hypocrisy, recalling reports that American agents ran guns to Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the 1980s with the proceeds of cocaine sales in the United States.

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Targeting Rights Activists

Hitmen are killing human rights workers across Ciudad Juárez -- the city in Mexico most affected by drug prohibition violence -- in brazen attacks that activists say authorities are unable and unwilling to halt.

Oregon Supreme Court Hears Medical Marijuana Case

The Oregon Supreme Court heard an hour of arguments in the case of Sheriff Mike Winters v. Cynthia Willis. In 2008, Willis was denied a concealed handgun license because she is a medical marijuana cardholder.

Police Link Arizona Beheading to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization

Police have tied the October beheading of a man in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler to a Mexican drug trafficking organization. "They stabbed him, we believe to death, and then severed his head. There was a lot of blood," Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said.

Over 2,000 Streets Closed in Mexican Border City for Security Due to Drug Prohibition Violence

Residents have closed more than 2,000 streets in Ciudad Juarez, the city in Mexico most affected by drug prohibition violence. About 200 families have been wiped out in 10 zones heavily affected by the drug prohibition war.

Why Cops Love the Drug War (Opinion)

Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, opines that public officials and drug lords are the biggest beneficiaries of the drug war. He says what police don’t realize (or maybe some of them do) is that the only way to shut down the drug lords, immediately, is to end the drug war by legalizing drugs. Continuing to wage the drug war only ensures that the drug lords will continue supplying drugs and that the cops will continue making busts, and that both groups will continue making beaucoup bucks off the war, which is really what the drug war is all about.

Washington State Senate OKs Changes to Medical Marijuana System

Washington senators moved forward with establishing more regulation on the state's medical marijuana system, approving a bill with changes that would give patients greater protection from arrest and bring the supply chain out of a legal gray area. After lengthy debate, senators approved the bill on a 29-20 vote. The measure now moves to the House.

Drug Smuggling Scandal Shakes Bolivia

Drug prohibition is responsible for a phenomenal amount of government corruption across the globe. Retired-general Rene Sanabria, the former head of Bolivia's main anti-narcotics unit serving as a top intelligence adviser to the country's Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti, pled not guilty in a Miami federal court on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., in a scandal that has rocked the government of Evo Morales. Felipe Caceres, Bolivia's top antidrug official said Mr. Sanabria's security unit "was riddled" with corruption, and that 15 other police officials were in the process of being detained for complicity in the drug-smuggling operation.

57 Percent of Floridians Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana

A new poll shows that 57 percent of Floridians support legalization of medical marijuana as buzz grows that the issue could be placed on the ballot as soon as 2012. The poll was conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican firm that worked with Rick Scott's gubernatorial campaign.

Tensions Rise As U.S. and Mexico Meet About Failing Drug Prohibition War

President Felipe Calderón will meet in Washington tomorrow with President Barack Obama in an attempt to repair relations at a time when spiraling drug prohibition violence in Mexico has frayed ties between the two allies. Mr. Calderón's visit, announced last week, also comes after a spate of ill-timed comments by U.S. officials about Mexico's drug prohibition violence. Among them are that Mexican drug trafficking organizations could be allied with Islamic terrorists and that drug traffickers could overthrow the Mexican state, forcing the U.S. to send troops. Such statements have enraged Mexican officials, who are notoriously sensitive to any suggestion of U.S. interference in national affairs. "I don't recall this kind of bad blood in a long time," said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister.

Action, Not More Study, on Medical Marijuana in Maryland (Opinion)

Barry Considine, a writer and polio survivor who advocates for (and uses) medical marijuana, opines that it is time to allow patients in Maryland to use marijuana for medicinal purposes without fear of arrest and prosecution under Maryland law. He says we must move forward based on the best anecdotal evidence that is available as the DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse have consistently blocked the efforts of researchers and scientists to study medical marijuana and provide empirical evidence of its efficacy.

Kentucky Voices: Desperate Compromise on Bad Anti-Meth Bill (Opinion)

Jim Waters, vice president of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, opines that, unable to secure the votes to pass the original proposal, which makes cold, allergy and sinus products containing pseudoephedrine controlled substances requiring a prescription for purchase, supporters of Kentucky's Senate Bill 45 are now floating what they label a compromise: exempt gel caps. Waters says this new tactic by logically challenged politicians reveals the same intellectual denseness demonstrated all along in this fight. He says that this will do nothing to curb meth production in Kentucky, and that it could even do less by giving citizens a false sense of security that something effective was being done to stop the meth problem.

Rallies to Legalize Marijuana in Louisiana

A group called Legalize Louisiana is leading statewide marches seeking to change Louisiana laws and legalize marijuana.

Why Mexico's Losing Its Drug War (Opinion)

Benny Avni opines that Felipe Calderon's war on the drug trafficking organizations created by prohibition is costing a lot in American money and Mexican blood -- and he's losing. Avni says the ultimate solution is legalization, which would lower profits and take violence out of the drug trade -- just as the end of Prohibition reduced America's gang problem. But, instead, Washington muddles on with an expensive and extremely deadly conceit -- pretending that all we need to do is pour some money on the problem, and Mexico's federal government will somehow eventually prevail.

This Week in History

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

Washington State Medical Marijuana User Dies Without Transplant

Timothy Garon, a musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval under Washington state law to ease the symptoms of advanced hepatitis C, died. Dr. Brad Roter, the physician who authorized Garon to use medical marijuana to alleviate for nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.

Texas Legislature Considers Marijuana-Friendly Bills

A Texas House Committee heard testimony on a proposed bill that seeks to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. House Bill 548 would lower the penalties for possession to the level of a traffic ticket. Another bill under consideration is HB 1491, which deals with medical marijuana. The bill is designed to protect doctors who recommend medical marijuana as a possible treatment to their patients and gives both parties an affirmative defense in court should law enforcement get involved.

Minnesota Head Shop Owner Says Fake Marijuana Ban Won't Work

Jim Carlson, the owner of a head shop, says a new federal ban on the sale of five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana won't make much difference - he'll just stock brands that use other, still-legal substances. Carlson said that with about 210 similar chemicals available, the manufacturers will try to keep one step ahead of the government. "Unfortunately he is correct," said Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman in Washington, who confirmed Tuesday that many suppliers are offering retailers products with new chemicals. "There are many of these substances and we chose five common ones because we don't have the resources to study all of them."

New Hampshire Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana

A panel of New Hampshire lawmakers is considering a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Under the bill, possessing two ounces or less of medical marijuana would not be a crime. New Hampshire's legislature passed a medical marijuana bill two years ago, but Gov. John Lynch vetoed it.

Drug Prohibition Murders Affect Half of Mexican Cities

Half of the cities in Mexico have registered at least one drug prohibition murder since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. Of the country’s 2,456 municipalities, 1,147 registered at least one murder committed by drug trafficking organizations between December 2006 and the end of 2010. A total of 15,273 people died in prohibition violence in Mexico last year, and more than 34,000 people have died since Calderon declared war on the country’s drug trafficking organizations shortly after taking office.

Former Mexican Governor Admits Past Presidents Controlled Drug Trade

The Mexican political world was sent reeling after a former PRI politician admitted his party had exercised strong control over Mexico's drug trafficking routes. Former Nuevo Leon governor Socrates Rizzo said that previous PRI presidents had formalized agreements with drug trafficking organization leaders to coordinate and protect Mexico's lucrative drug trade. Rizzo argued that presidential control over smuggling prevented the widespread violence that has been commonplace since 2000.

Synthetic Marijuana Widely Used at Naval Academy, Some Midshipmen Say

A synthetic form of marijuana is widely used at the U.S. Naval Academy because it cannot be detected in routine drug tests, according to several former midshipmen. Since its introduction at the academy last year, synthetic marijuana has become popular among rank-and-file midshipmen and on the football and wrestling teams. Some isolated corners of the historic Annapolis campus have become well-known gathering spots for smoking it.

White House Requests Meeting with Seattle Times to Bully Against Pro-Marijuana Editorials

Immediately after the Seattle Times ran an editorial last week supporting a bill to tax and regulate marijuana, the newspaper got a phone call from Washington, D.C. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske wanted to fly to Seattle to speak personally with the paper's full editorial board. The meeting is apparently an attempt by the federal government to pressure the state's largest newspaper to oppose marijuana legalization. Or at least turn down the volume on its new-found bullhorn to legalize it.

Marijuana Debate Reignites in Bay State

A bill to legalize marijuana was quietly introduced last week. Sponsored by Amherst Democrat Ellen Story, the bill could reap thousands of dollars for the state in tax revenue. "Reps come up to me and say thank you so much for doing this Ellen. I support you, but I can't be public about it. Legislators are afraid of being seen as soft on drugs," Story says.

Rep. Barney Frank Speaks at Medical Marijuana Expo, Receives Award

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank spoke at Maine’s first Medical Marijuana Expo and said that the current laws against marijuana use should be revoked. "People who make a personal decision to smoke marijuana should not be subject to prosecution," said Frank. "This is the kind of fight that's worth making. It's winnable. Most American people think it’s sensible, and are for it," said Frank to the standing-room only crowd as he received the first-ever Patients’ Choice Award — a glass trophy in the shape of a marijuana leaf.

Former Head of Bolivia's Drugs Police Is Sent to U.S. to Face Cocaine Trafficking Charges

In yet another example of drug prohibition corrupting top officials, the former head of Bolivia's counter-narcotics police, Rene Sanabria, has been arrested in Panama and sent to the U.S. to face charges he ran a cocaine trafficking ring.

Seattle Farmers Market Features Medical Marijuana

There was little publicity for Seattle's first medical marijuana farmers market, but word of mouth alone packed the hall as hundreds of people lined up to go in. Under the current law, certain health care providers like doctors or nurse practitioners can issue recommendations for medical marijuana for a variety of ailments including cancer, HIV and anorexia. But unlike in California or Colorado where medical marijuana initiatives led to dispensaries that provide the drug, in Washington the medical marijuana community has remained, for the most part, underground.

Wasting Precious Time for Medicinal Marijuana Program (Opinion)

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey Inc., opines that Gov. Christie is solely to blame for the unconscionable delay in access to medical marijuana in New Jersey. The governor has insisted on unworkable and unconstitutional restrictions to the medical marijuana program. These restrictions have outraged patients, advocates and the entire New Jersey Legislature.

Leading Hemp Advocacy Groups Applaud Introduction of California Hemp Farming Bill SB 676 (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2011

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or [email protected]

28 Killed in Mexico's Drug Prohibition War Over Weekend

Drug prohibition violence left at least 28 people dead across Mexico over the weekend, including 14 killed by gunmen in bars in the country's north.

"Walmart of Weed" Set to Open in California

A cavernous 10,000-square-foot medical marijuana emporium is set to open in California, and in coming months the company behind it plans to open similar stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon. The new weGrow store - which wags have dubbed the "Wal-Mart of Weed" - isn't selling medical marijuana. It's offering up how-to experts and merchandise to help medical marijuana patients grow pot hydroponically.

An American Dies in Mexico's Drug Prohibition War: Rounding Up the Killers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Jaime Zapata Will Not Curtail Americans' Voracious Appetite for Mind-Altering Substances (Opinion)

The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady opines that it is not unreasonable to suggest that if the U.S. was facing rates of bloodshed similar to Mexico, Washington would be forced to reconsider the wisdom of its prohibitionist approach to drug policy. But the suffering is south of the border, out of sight and out of mind for Americans and, therefore, our politicians. Meanwhile, a multi-billion dollar U.S. bureaucracy dedicated to fighting this war has little incentive to see it won or change course.

Puerto Rico Lawmaker Resigns Over Failed Drug Test

Rep. Rolando Crespo, a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives, resigned his seat two days after officials disclosed that a drug test showed he had used cocaine. Crespo was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. He was president of the powerful Rules and Calendar Committee.

Pennsylvania Lawsuit Takes Aim at Use of Stickers in Drug Arrests

After a small marijuana raid at a home three years ago, police left behind a bright yellow sticker, plastered to a window for any passer-by to see that read "SAY NO TO DRUGS: BUSTED — Middletown Police Department." The charges against one of the residents, Deana Perry, were later dropped. Perry has gone to federal court, claiming the act of applying the sticker violated her constitutional rights. One of her lawyers, Dennis E. Boyle, said that Perry wants the police to be barred from labeling people as drug dealers before they have had their day in court.

Florida Taxpayers Spent Hundreds of Millions Jailing Nonviolent Drug Abusers, Treatment a Less Expensive and More Effective Method

Officials across Florida are realizing that in situations where drug offenders are non-violent it would be a better use of limited resources to send them to treatment instead of prison. But, there aren't enough treatment programs and Florida currently houses 19,414 inmates for non-violent drug offenses costing taxpayers $377,971,166 a year. Mary Lynn Ulray, the executive director of a Drug Treatment Program DACCO, says she thinks the legislature is starting to understand there is a cost benefit from drug treatment. Ulray says the agency's 6 month residential program has close to a 70 percent success rate in six months at a cost of $10,000 compare that to the average 6.4 year sentence costing taxpayer $124,601 per offender.

Bill to Lessen Penalties for Some Drug Offenders Clears Kentucky Senate Panel

A Kentucky Senate committee has approved legislation aimed at reducing the state’s fast-rising prison population by bolstering drug treatment and alternative sentences for non-violent offenders. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition. Supporters say the bill would produce net savings of $147 million over 10 years.

Washington Lawmakers Consider Limit on THC Blood Levels

Not to be outdone by legislators in Colorado, Washington state officials are considering setting a legal limit for the amount of THC in a driver's blood. Nevada and Ohio have two-nanogram limits for THC. Pennsylvania has a five-nanogram "guideline," but not a limit. Twelve states have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of any illicit drug, including marijuana. A group of 11 international scientists published a comprehensive study on the effects of THC on driving ability. They concluded that drivers do not pose a crash risk until they reach between 10-20 nanograms of THC per milliliter. They also determined that 18-20 nanograms is the equivalent of a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08, the current legal limit in most U.S. states.

Philippine Congressman Jailed for Drug Trafficking in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong court sentenced Philippinian Rep. Ronald Singson to a year and a half in jail for trafficking cocaine. Singson got a lighter sentence from Wanchai District Court Judge Joseph Yau after he pleaded guilty to the charge of drug trafficking while insisting that he did not intend to sell the drugs he brought with him to Hong Kong. In Manila, Rep. Erico Aumentado, chairperson of the House Ethics and Privileges Committee, said there will be "no immediate sanction" imposed on Singson despite his sentence.

Keep the Pressure On (Action Alert)

Philadelphia Police Kill Dog in Drug Raid on Wrong House

In yet another example of drug prohibition enforcement bumbling a Philadelphia Police officer shot and killed a dog at a West Philadelphia residence he mistook for the target of a drug raid. No word yet on how much drugs, if any, were seized in the raid.

Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels Talks About His Marijuana Use and Conviction

In typical political fashion, Gov. Mitch Daniels admits to using marijuana while at Princeton, makes no mention of any downside except his conviction, and says he learned his "lesson."

Medical Marijuana Using High School Student Back in Class After Apology from School District's Lawyer

A high school student kept off campus for using medical marijuana has received an apology from the district's lawyer and is back in school. The student has a rare disease called Myoclonus Diaphragmatic Flutter, and it causes him to have seizure such as spasms in his diaphram. At the beginning of every attack, he takes a 10 mg medical marijuana throat lozenge. The student's family wants to take legal action and are in talks with an attorney from Denver to make it legal for nurses to administer medical marijuana on campus.

Hawaii Marijuana Decriminalization Bill SB 1460 at the Crossroads

Matt Rifkin, on behalf of Jeanne Ohta, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, asks the public to submit testimony supporting the decriminalizing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by making the offense a civil fine instead of a petty misdemeanor.

Columbus Officer Shot by Second Officer During Marijuana Raid

While conducting a marijuana raid a Columbus officer accidentally shot another officer when his gun discharged while exiting a police vehicle.

WikiLeaks: Mexican President's Guard Leaked Secrets to Drug Trafficking Organizations

In yet another blow to Mexico's failed drug prohibition war, a Mexican army officer assigned to guard President Felipe Calderon leaked military intelligence to drug trafficking organizations, trained hit men and supplied military weapons to Los Zetas, according to a U.S. Embassy cable recently released by Wikileaks. The cable says the case was the most serious security breach to date during the Calderon presidency and indicates that Mexico's powerful drug traffickers have infiltrated large parts of the security apparatus.

Medical Pot Taxes, Dispensary Licenses, Weed Farmer Leniency Bills Filed in Sacramento

It's bill-dropping season in the nation's capitals, and California lawmakers are pushing hard on the medical marijuana front.

Indiana Senate Approves Call for Marijuana Policy Study

Indiana's Senate approved a study on the state’s policies regarding marijuana, including costs in the state’s criminal justice system and the potential for regulation and taxation options. Under Senate Bill 192, authored by State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, the legislative review would be conducted by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee later this year. The committee would make findings and recommendations on the current criminal penalties related to marijuana and the cost to the state, as well as potential plans for medical marijuana, decriminalization for small amounts, and controlling marijuana like alcohol with regulated sales and taxation.

Why This Cop Asked the President About Legalizing Drugs

You might not think a 65-year-old retired deputy sheriff would take to the Internet to ask the president of the United States to consider legalizing drugs, but that's just what MacKenzie Allen did recently. The answer he got from President Obama in YouTube's "Your Interview with the President" contest pleasantly surprised him. Obama responded by saying that legalizing drugs is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate."

This Week in History

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

Polls Show Voters in Michigan and Montana Still Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            February 23, 2011

Obama to Meet Mexico's Calderon Amid Drug Prohibition Violence

The drug prohibition war in Mexico has failed despite Mexico deploying soldiers and federal police in a widespread crackdown on drug trafficking organizations that has left more than 34,600 people dead since December of 2006. Now, President Barack Obama plans to meet Mexico's President Felipe Calderon amid a spike in drug prohibition violence which led to the shooting of two US federal agents.

Mexico Criticizes US Coordination in Drug Prohibition War

Frustration over the failed drug prohibition war in Mexico continues to mount. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has rejected accusations that a lack of coordination in Mexico is undermining the fight against drug trafficking organizations, saying rivalry within U.S. intelligence agencies is to blame. The Mexican leader said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Central Intelligence Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement do not coordinate with each other on security matters, and said the agencies were rivals.

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