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Prohibition of Marijuana Is Responsible for Much of the Gang Violence Both here and Elsewhere (Opinion)

Evan Wood, director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS; an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at UBC; and founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, opines on the role marijuana prohibition plays in producing gang violence.

Mexico's Drug Prohibition War: Troops Killed Innocent U.S. Man

Joseph Proctor told his girlfriend he was popping out to the convenience store in the quiet Mexican beach town where the couple had just moved, intending to start a new life. The next morning, the 32-year-old New York native was dead inside his crashed van on a road outside Acapulco. It is at least the third case this year in which soldiers, locked in a prohibitionist drug war with trafficking organizations, have been accused of killing innocent civilians and faking evidence in cover-ups. Such scandals are driving calls for civilian investigators to take over cases that are almost exclusively handled by military prosecutors and judges who rarely convict one of their own.

No Mas: Mexico Students Unite to Stop Drug War

Amidst a deadly drug prohibition war in Juarez, Mexico, a group of college students have emerged from the violence to tell their city that they've had enough. The Juarez "students are quite heroic," said Bruce Bagley, who heads the Latin American affairs department at the University of Miami. "The fact that they are standing up to the military has highlighted the fact that the military in its conduct of the war on drugs in Mexico has actually fallen into numerous human rights violations.

The 700 Club's Pat Roberston Supports Ending Cannabis Prohibition In An Effort To Get 'Smart On Crime'

Televangelist and former Baptist minister Pat Robertson makes a cogent argument on alternatives to arresting and incarcerating citizens who use drugs, with a clear emphasis on legalizing the possession of a few ounces of cannabis.

Momentum Is Building to End the Failed Drug War: Top Stories of 2010 (Opinion)

Tony Newman, communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance, says the debate around failed marijuana prohibition and the larger drug war arrived in a big way in 2010. He shares what he feels are some of the most significant stories from 2010 and the reasons why he's encouraged that we can start finding an exit strategy from America's longest running war.

Drug Trafficking Organization's Bandits Stealing Oil to Fuel Mexican Drug Prohibition War Kill 27

A breeched oil pipeline caused a massive blast in the Mexican town of San Martin Texmelucan. Rivers of fire coursed through the streets, killing at least 27 people and damaging 115 houses.

Missoula District Court: Jury Pool in Marijuana Case Stages 'Mutiny'

A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court. Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt. They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana.

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Claims Over 12,000 Lives This Year Alone

More than 12,000 people have died this year as a result of Mexico's drug prohibition war, although officials said the number could be higher. Through November 30, 12,456 people were killed, making 2010 the deadliest year since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a government crackdown against traffickers in 2006. In a recent survey, 59 percent of respondents said organized crime groups are winning the drug prohibition war against federal forces; a different poll said 80 of the respondents believe there is more violence in Mexico than a year ago.

Why We Need an Impact Assessment of Drug Policy (Opinion)

UK Labour MP and former minister Bob Ainsworth has come out out strongly against drug prohibition. He proposed an “Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act”, an “independent, evidence-based review, exploring all policy options” which was welcomed by Lib Dem MP Tom Brake. Adam Corlett, acting vice-chair of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, explores the matter.

Draft of Arizona Medical Marijuana Rules Released

The first draft of the rules that could govern medical marijuana use in Arizona are now online. The rules are laid out in a 47 page document on the Arizona Department of Health Services website. The rules cover everything from who can qualify to use medical marijuana, how dispensaries will be regulated and the role doctors need to play in the process.

Chronic Christians: Did Jesus Heal with Pot?

A rising tide of Christians not only smoke pot, but think Jesus used it. They're gaining mainstream legitimacy, challenging religious and political dogma, and sometimes going to jail for their faith in unprecedented numbers. According to pot historian Chris Bennett's chapter on "Early/Ancient History" in Dr. Julie Holland's The Pot Book, Jesus didn't smoke pot, he rubbed it on people in the form of medicinal holy oil. Bennett says a pot doctor Jesus makes more sense than a deity Jesus. The Son of God does pull a lot of lightweight miracles like treating skin lesions, stomach problems, menstrual issues, eye problems, epilepsy and asthma, all of which respond to the cannabis therapies.

Medical Pot Sales in Oakland Reach $35 million This Year

The economy is still tanking, but Oakland’s medical cannabis industry is banking. The city’s finance wizards are projecting that Oakland’s three dispensaries will sell between $35 million and $38 million worth in medical cannabis this year. The industry will bring in $1.5 million in taxes this year to the city.

Last Chance for Prison Reform (Action Alert)

The Largest Prison Strike In US History Rages On

The sharp increase in the incarceration rate largely due to the drug war and mandatory minimum sentencing have led to the United States becoming the world’s largest jailer. On December 9th, the largest prison strike in US history began in multiple facilities in Georgia. Thousands of those inside have united in a self-imposed lockdown to demand various human rights demands ranging from an end to slave labor, access to health care and education, communication from their families, and an end to cruel and unusual punishment. Despite a harsh crackdown, the strike has been raging on for the last week, and shows no signs of ending.

One Toke Over the Line: The Assertion That Prop. 19 Is Contributing to a Rise in Teenage Marijuana Use is Unfounded (Editorial)

The Los Angeles Times editorial board says that Gil Kerlikowske should have checked such sources as the Congressional Research Service before jumping to conclusions. An April report, issued to advise Congress on whether to loosen federal restrictions on medical marijuana, examined studies comparing teen pot smoking in states with and without medical marijuana laws and found no connection between such laws and drug use. "Concerns that medical cannabis laws send the wrong message to vulnerable groups such as adolescents seem to be unfounded," it stated. They also note that there's little evidence that continued criminalization has discouraged teen drug use, but better education might.

Wikileaks Cables Reveal Two-Faced Drug War Politics by US

Ricardo Soberón of the Centre for Research on Drugs and Human Rights (CIDDH), says "since 1987, the U.S. Department of State has been concerned about the risk of corruption among the Peruvian military in drug trafficking zones, but that concern has not been shared by the Pentagon (Department of Defence), which was more interested in expanding its missions in the Andes region, without regard to the costs." "The leaked cables reflect a deep political contradiction between Washington’s institutional diplomacy, and the military diplomacy characterised by the promotion of strategies like (the U.S.-financed counterinsurgency and anti-drug strategy) Plan Colombia, the Merida Initiative (a multi-billion dollar U.S. counter-drug assistance programme for Mexico and Central America), hot pursuit across borders, or the ‘hammer and anvil’ tactic in the Colombian armed conflict," he said.

Bloomfield Township Sued Over 'Unconstitutional' Medical Marijuana Ordinances

Two Oakland County attorneys filed a lawsuit against Bloomfield Township in an attempt to overturn local medical marijuana ordinances they say conflict with state law and make it too difficult for a registered patient to use the drug. It's the latest medical marijuana challenge in Oakland County, which has become home to a number of lawsuits and criminal cases that could shape interpretation and application of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 for years to come.

US Drug War Military Presence in Costa Rica Rejected

In the middle of this year, the Costa Rican Parliament authorized the arrival of 7,000 soldiers, 46 war ships, more than 200 helicopters, 10 Harrier planes and two submarines. The permission provoked the rejection of various parties and social sectors, regarding it as anti-constitutional and violating national sovereignty. "We are quite much worried with such an excessive military force to fight drug trafficking," said Victor Emilio Granados, from Partido Accesibilidad sin Exclusion (PASE) - Accessibility without Exclusion Party. Other parties such as Frente Amplio and Accion Cuidadana also rejected the US military presence.

Drug Czar Blames Rising Teen Pot Use on Medical Cannabis Laws Rather Than on the Administration’s Own Failed Policies

Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, discusses the Drug Czar's spin on rising teen marijuana use.

Mexican Lawmaker Denied Immunity in Drug Trafficking Organization Case

Mexico's Congress has voted to strip a lawmaker of his immunity, allowing for the prosecution of a sitting congressman with alleged ties to the country's powerful drug trafficking organizations for the first time ever in the country. Lawmakers voted 382-2 to let federal prosecutors move forward with a criminal case against Julio Cesar Godoy, a representative from the state of Michoacan accused of laundering money for the notorious La Familia.

Importing the Portuguese Model of Drug Policy Reform

After overseeing a comprehensive review of drug policy in Portugal, where possession of everything from marijuana to heroin has been decriminalized since 2001, Alex Stevens, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Kent in Britain, has a blunt rebuttal to the classic "Think of the children" line of thinking. "Criminalization of drugs is not protecting our children," he says. "In fact, it's harming our children." By any conceivable empirical metric, Portugal’s vastly liberalized drug policy has succeeded. And as Stevens argues, the most potent lesson to be learned is that the "decriminalization of drugs does not necessarily lead to increases in drug use."

Thursday Press Teleconference: Clinton Commutation Beneficiaries Call on President Obama to Expedite Clemency for Crack Cocaine Prisoners (Press Advisory)

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2010                      

This Week in History

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

Arizona Medical Marijuana Act Goes Into Effect Today

Prop. 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, goes into effect today. This means the state health department has until April 16 to finish its rule-making process, two weeks more than it had expected. The Arizona Department of Health Services will publish the first draft of its rules Friday, kicking off a public-comment period.

Ciudad Juárez Prohibition War Death Toll Now at 3,000 for 2010

With still two weeks left in 2010, Ciudad Juárez is setting a new record in the number of drug prohibition war killings.

Cocaine Smuggling Increase in New Zealand

Exemplifying the failure of prohibition, New Zealand has seen a dramatic increase in cocaine smuggling in recent months, Customs says, and it looks like an attempt by figures in South America to establish a syndicate there.

Why Willie Nelson Needs to Host a Benefit Concert for Marijuana

Willie Nelson has long been an outspoken activist, so it was no big surprise that soon after his recent arrest for marijuana possession the country music legend and pot aficionado was calling for a national movement to end the U.S. government’s destructive crusade against cannabis. But if Nelson wants to help end pot prohibition, he can do more than inspire the push for reform -- he can help lead it. And one relatively easy way he can do so is by hosting a benefit concert next year to draw attention to the evils of the drug war, using his iconic pop culture status to raise money for those organizations and people that are working to make the dream of reform a reality. A benefit concert next year would be particularly well timed, with the question of whether to legalize pot possibly being put to Washingtonians as soon as next fall and with California and Colorado voters likely weighing in on ballot initiatives of their own in 2012.

Official: Mexico Drug War Imagery Popping Up in US

Dark imagery associated with the Mexican drug prohibition war, including images of the unofficial patron saints of death and smuggling, are showing up north of the border, a sign of the drug trafficking organizations' growing influence among American smuggling networks, a U.S. marshal said. Images of the skeletal black-robed figure of Santa Muerte, the Death Saint, are showing up in areas that don't have large Mexican populations, said Robert Almonte. He is traveling the country instructing law enforcement officials about Mexican folk icons associated with the drug prohibition war, hoping to raise "red flags so they will know that if they see some of this, they will be more cautious."

Washington State Tries to Collect Medical Marijuana Sales Tax

The Washington Department of Revenue has launched a statewide effort to collect sales tax from medical marijuana dispensaries - even as some prosecutors and the Health Department maintain such dispensaries are illegal. Spokesman Mike Gowrylow said that the Revenue Department mailed letters to 90 dispensaries and related organizations on Friday, insisting that medical marijuana is not exempt from state sales tax and that dispensaries must collect that money and turn it over to the state. The letter said dispensaries must also pay the state business and occupation tax.

Poland: Unconsititutional and Costly Drugs Laws Infringe on Human Rights (Opinion)

"Criminalisation of drug possession does not help to decrease illicit drug consumption. Instead, it distracts the attention and energy of the police from the real originators of the problem: mass producers and major and minor drug dealers" – write the signatories of a letter of support for liberalizing drug policy in Poland. Among them are former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski and a world-famous sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman. Other signatories include writers, artists and respected public figures.

High Fees Hobble California Medical Marijuana ID Card Program

California, by some estimates, has as many as 350,000 medical marijuana patients -- yet only a tiny fraction has signed on to a state ID card program meant to protect them from arrest or seizure of their medicine. That doesn't appear likely to change, say marijuana advocates, patients and some county health officials who administer the program locally, as the cost of the cards can't compete with privately issued cards or even doctors' recommendations. When the state created the program in 2003 and launched it two years later, officials figured 100,000 patients would sign on for the optional cards, but the state issued just 12,659 to patients and caregivers last fiscal year.

America's Third War: U.S. Secretly Trains Guatemalan Forces to Battle Drug Traffickers

In a sign that Mexico's prohibitionist war on drugs continues to fail and spread havoc in the region: About 150 miles north of Guatemala City, deep in the jungle, is a military base where Guatemalan Special Forces are being trained secretly by U.S. Green Berets. The U.S. officers say the Guatemalan troops are committed to the task of defeating the Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Guatemala’s murder rate is now twice that of Mexico where more than 11,000 people have been killed just this year.

Inquirer Editorial: Sell Drugs Or Go Jobless (Opinion)

The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board opines that many government officials are finally admitting the prohibitionist war on drugs is a costly failure, and that the United States has spent at least $1 trillion on the war on drugs, but the streets of Kensington prove it hasn't worked. Announces Innovative New Features for the Medical Marijuana Industry (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 14, 2010

CONTACT: 1-888-392-9772

Mexico Marijuana Growers Learn New Tricks from U.S.

Farmers growing marijuana in remote Mexican mountains are adopting techniques pioneered in the United States to produce more potent pot and boost profits. Even as hundreds of troops fan out across Sinaloa ripping up marijuana fields by hand, drug trafficking organizations are one step ahead of the government’s efforts, helping to stifle President Felipe Calderon’s army-led prohibitionist battle against the drug traffickers.

Anti-Drug Chief Warns About Deterioration in Central Asia

Warning about the worsening drug prohibition situation in Kyrgyzstan and an actual war between drug trafficking organizations in Tajikistan, Russia’s Federal Anti-Drug Service's Viktor Ivanov has called for a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghan drug trafficking.

WikiLeaks Cables: Ghanaian Police 'Helped Drug Smugglers Evade Security'

A £1m taxpayer-funded anti-trafficking campaign to stem the flow of cocaine into the UK through Ghana's busiest airport is beset by corruption, with drugs police sabotaging expensive British-bought scanning equipment and tipping off smugglers, leaked US embassy cables reveal. Ghana president John Atta Mills even worried that his own entourage could be smuggling drugs through his presidential lounge at Accra's Kotoka airport and asked a senior UK customs official last November for help to screen them "in the privacy of his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs", according to the US embassy in Accra (cable 234015).

WikiLeaks: Nicaragua Government Took Bribes from Drug Traffickers

U.S. diplomats accused Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government of taking bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for freeing suspects, in cables released by Wikileaks. The Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington declined to comment, deferring to the Foreign Ministry, which didn’t respond to a request for comment. Government representatives in Managua couldn’t be reached. The State Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on the cable.

Michoacan Peace March Turns Into Rally for La Familia Drug Lord

A peace march called by the government of the Mexican town of Apatzingan was the scene of a deadly gun battle between federal forces and the local drug trafficking organization ended up as a rally in support of a slain drug lord. Photographs show people who took part in the march carrying posters expressing support for La Familia. Mayor Genaro Guizar seemed to lay the blame for the violence on the federal government, not La Familia.

The Prospects for Drug Reform in This Country Have Never Been So Good (Opinion)

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, opines that prospects for reforming drug policy have never been so good, as the persistent failure and negative consequences of drug war policies, combined with budgetary woes and generational change, are mainstreaming reformist ideas once considered taboo.

Medical Marijuana Business Attracts Hedge Funds, Venture Capitalists

Medical marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It's popularity is attracting attention from hedge fund managers and venture capitalists, not to mention a whole new batch of entrepreneurs.

N.J. Senate Weighing Defying Governor Over Medical Marijuana

New Jersey's Senate may vote Monday to defy Gov. Chris Christie over his proposed strict medical marijuana regulations. The vote is scheduled even though Christie and the state Assembly's prime sponsor of medical marijuana struck a deal on regulations last week.

Budding Prospects: Youth Activists Push Marijuana Reform

Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and an advisory board member of the Just Say Now campaign, discusses why young advocates of legalization are poised for big gains.

Do you know what you're missing?



Activists Look to Advance Marijuana Reform Legislation

The Massachusetts Cannabis Convention resolved that "noncommercial cultivation for personal use is a human right and is not to be taxed" at a meeting in Georgetown, Massachusetts last weekend. More than 50 marijuana reform activists from around the state attended the convention called by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (Mass Cann), a state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Proposed Medical Marijuana Database Worries Some Patient Advocates

Among the 90-some pages of draft rules and procedures for Colorado’s medical marijuana industry unveiled earlier this week by the Colorado Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is one that makes some patients particularly nervous. It's a plan for a massive new database of MMJ patients who enroll in the Medical Marijuana Registry -- and it will be available to law enforcement agencies round the clock. "This patient and medicine tracking database is a clear violation of Article XVIII, Section 14 of Constitution, Colorado's Medical Marijuana Amendment, which requires that the health agency maintain a confidential registry of patients, which can only be accessed by law enforcement for the purpose of determining whether a person who has been detained is a member of the Registry," said The Cannabis Therapy Institute in a press release.

UK Could Decriminalise Cannabis Without Worry of EU Sanctions

The European Union will not block any initiative of EU Member States to start the legal regulation of cannabis and other currently illegal drugs. This was repeatedly stated by Dana Spinant, the new Coordinator of the European Commissions Anti-Drugs Unit, at a Public Hearing on Drug Policies in the European Parliament. The hearing was organised by Member of European Parliament Michael Tremopoulos (Greens, Greece) and ENCOD, a coalition of citizens for drug policy reform. It brought together the expertise of representatives of civil society - among others leading Spanish activist for legal cannabis Martin Barriuso, spokesman of the Union of Dutch Coffeeshops Marc Josemans, and Richard Cowan, former director of NORML, USA’s largest reform organization. Members of European Parliament Rui Tavares (GUE, Portugal) and Dennis de Jong (GUE, Netherlands) also spoke at the event.

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Crossfire Kills Baby

An eight-month-old infant was fatally wounded after being caught in the crossfire during a gun battle between police and drug traffickers, authorities and police said. The baby was shot during a gunfight in the town of Apatzingan in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.

Safe Shooting: Downtown Needle Exchange Cactus Montreal Says It Will Open A Safe Injection Site Next Year, With Or Without Provincial Approval

If a Montreal needle exchange has its way, Quebec will soon become the second Canadian province to offer a safe-injection site — whether the provincial government wants it or not. Cactus Montreal, announced last week that it will offer IV drug users space to inject drugs under medical supervision at their office on Ste-Catherine E. and Sanguinet. Their goal is to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infection and prevent accidental overdose deaths.

Arizona Comfort Care Now Writing Medical Marijuana Recommendations

ACC is a group of board-certified doctors who openly support medical marijuana for qualified patients. ACC's Dr. Edgar Suter stressed that not everybody who sends their information for an evaluation will qualify for medical marijuana, and he's only writing recommendations for patients that he believes, after a full examination, are truly qualified candidates. "We take, I think, great pains to care for the patient and honor the law," Suter says. "We're bending over backwards to make our process fair for everybody."

Latin America Drug Laws 'Failure' ‎

Drug laws in eight Latin American countries have exacerbated their prison overcrowding problems and failed to curb trafficking, a study says. The Transnational Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America say most of those convicted are not high or medium-level drug traffickers. Imprisoning minor offenders is "useless", as they are easily replaced by the bosses at the top, they warn.

School Paid a Salary to Alleged Mexican Drug Lord‎

A man Mexican prosecutors say is one of the country's most-wanted drug kingpins has collected a salary from the Mexican school system for years, according to official documents, showing the ability of fugitives to draw support from the very government charged with capturing them. Servando "La Tuta" Gómez, a reputed leader and spokesman for the La Familia drug trafficking organization, held a tenured position at an elementary school in the central state of Michoacán and has received paychecks for 15 years.

3 Juárez Officers Ambushed and Slain Outside School, Police Death Toll Now 64

Three Juárez police officers were shot and killed in an ambush outside an elementary school, and when other officers responded, they were fired on also. Their deaths raise the number of police officers killed due to Mexico's failed drug prohibition war to 64 this year in the most violent city in Mexico.

Colorado Clears Backlog of Applications for Medical Marijuana Cards

About 2 percent of Colorado residents now have cards to buy medical marijuana. The state health department said that it came up with the figure while clearing a backlog of medical marijuana applications. Officials said the number of approved medical marijuana users totals about 116,000.

Idaho Businesses Try Selling Altered Versions of Spice

Certain Treasure Valley businesses think they've created an exception to the ban by tweaking the chemicals found in Spice, but law enforcement says, "not so fast." Officers went into a couple businesses, seized samples, and sent those off for testing. Results are not back yet but according to the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, the sellers could be charged.

Marijuana Seed Company Sees Budding Business

Now that Centennial Seeds has established a presence in Colorado selling cannabis seeds to producers of medical marijuana, Ben Holmes wants to tackle supplying seeds to vendors in other states where medicinal use of the drug is legal.

As Medical Marijuana Proliferates, Recreational Marijuana Prices Decline

Recreational users of marijuana are seeing price cuts on the street thanks to the growing number of states that have approved the drug for medicinal use. The price of cannabis, of course, varies wildly — depending on the strain purchased, its potency and the parts of the plant. Top quality pot in New York, for example, costs nearly $442 per ounce, while low quality is just $161, according to one website that tracks costs, On the whole, though, prices have been dropping nationwide over the past three to four years.

Mexican Children Learn to Take Cover in Drug Prohibition War

Mexican officials are teaching school children how to dive for cover if they come under fire from gangs fighting over the Pacific beach city of Acapulco as drug prohibition violence reaches deeper into everyday life. At a drill in an Acapulco primary school this week, instructors used toy guns that simulated the sound of real gunfire. "Get down, let's go!" shouted an instructor as children threw themselves on the ground in classrooms and the playground and then crawled toward safety, burying their heads in their hands.

Poll Finds 65 Percent of Iowans Favor Medical Marijuana

A large majority of Iowans favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, according to the results of the latest Hawkeye Poll conducted by the University of Iowa. Sixty-five percent of those sampled said they favored legalizing medical marijuana, and the support appears to be widespread. A majority of Democrats (69 percent), Republicans (57 percent) and Independents (77 percent) favor medical marijuana. A majority of people in each age group also supports this, with support increasing in the older age groups.

Texas Medical Marijuana Supporters Look to Conservatives

Last month's greater-than-anticipated electoral gains by the Republican Party of Texas could be interpreted as the death knell for any advance of medical marijuana laws in the 82nd legislative session. But advocates for an affirmative defense bill — including those who earlier this year named Democrats as the most likely sponsors — are holding fast to hopes that the specter of an ever-encroaching government will resonate with Tea Party and like-minded lawmakers when the session convenes in January.

This Week in History

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

Wikileaks: Nicaragua's Ortega 'Financed by Drug Money'

According to one of the released cables which appeared on the website of Spain's El Pais newspaper: "Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas have regularly received money to finance [his party] FSLN electoral campaigns from international drug traffickers, usually in return for ordering Sandinista judges to allow traffickers caught by the police and military to go free." Furthermore, it says: "In 1984, Daniel Ortega negotiated a deal with Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar whereby Escobar received refuge for several months in Nicaragua after he had ordered the killing of the Colombian minister of justice." In return, Mr Ortega and his party, the FSLN, received large cash payments from Pablo Escobar, it adds.

The War on Drugs Is Reducing Marriage Rates

New research published in The Review of Economics and Statistics shows that growing incarceration has contributed to declining marriage rates. In fact, the paper finds that about 13% of the decline in marriage since 1990 can be explained by male incarceration. About 18% percent of the decline in marriage rates among black women can be explained by incarceration. Hispanic women are also relatively disadvantaged, with about 10% of the reduction in marriage rates in that group explained by incarceration.

Teenage Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Hitman Is a U.S. Citizen

The floppy-haired 14-year-old turned, like any other modern teen, to YouTube to make his confession. But unlike a typical 8th-grader, Edgar Jimenez confessed to beheading people for Mexican Drug Traffickers for the price of $2,500 each. Mexican authorities nabbed the "hit boy" known as "El Ponchis" at an airport; he was en route to Tijuana, where he and his teenage sister were planning to sneak into San Diego. Why? He's an American citizen.

2010 Nobel Prizewinner Mario Vargas Llosa Calls for Legalization of Drugs

Vargas Llosa said, "Drugs have to be legalized and all the huge sums of money that currently are invested in their repression, should be put into treatment, prevention and education, as has been done for example in the case of tobacco, with great success."

You Did It (Action Alert)

Maine Sheriff Calls for Drug Agency Chief's Ouster

The sheriff in Maine's easternmost county, Washington County's Sheriff Donnie Smith, is crossing swords with Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Roy McKinney. Smith said that the MDEA is a "rogue agency." He cited several incidents including an agent's misuse of a stun gun, $3,000 in missing drug buy money and a video that surfaced showing an agent flash his badge, drink some beer and then drive away.

Draft of Colorado Medical Marijuana Rules Is a 90-Page Tome

Medical marijuana advocates and government representatives hammered out the final details of proposed new rules that would give Colorado the most comprehensive seed-to-sale cannabis business regulations in the nation. The rules would govern everything: how state officials regulate marijuana cultivation; how dispensary owners keep track of their sales; what makers of marijuana-infused pastries should put on their labels. Several of the rules would place Colorado in unprecedented territory — for instance, requiring marijuana growers to install security cameras through which state auditors could remotely monitor their crop.

Drug Gang Reportedly Sets Fire to Juárez Kindergarten

A school in Colonia San Antonio was supposedly torched because school staff refused demands for payment made by drug gang extortionists. Classes were canceled indefinitely.

It’s Time to End America’s Failed Cannabis Prohibition (Opinion)

Allen St. Pierre and Paul Armentano of NORML opine that the end of cannabis prohibition is near. How can they tell? When the beneficiaries of the status quo — both prohibitionists and contrabandists — join together to actively oppose long sought alternatives to America’s expensive, unsuccessful, anti-free market and Constitution-warping cannabis prohibition, then it is clear that change is upon us.

Government Heads for Clash with Scientists Over Drug Advice: A Plan to Remove the Legal Minimum Number of Scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Risks Further Harming Relationships with Scientists and with Evidence (Opinion)

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill has major implications for UK drug laws and the potential to damage the quality of scientific advice the government (and parliament) gets, and to further dent the scientific community's confidence in the government.

Drug Truth 12/06/10

Cultural Baggage * Century of Lies * 4:20 Drug War NEWS  *  Time 4 Hemp PLEASE sign petition to drug czars to appear on our programs:  ht

WikiLeaks: Is Argentina Washing Dirty Drug Trafficking Money? (Opinion)

Need more evidence of the futility of the war on drugs? Look no further than a WikiLeaked cable from the U.S. Embassy in Argentina released last week. It turns out that for all the happy talk about international cooperation to combat money laundering, the embassy believes some politicians may not really be interested.

Obama Administration Warns Oakland on Medical Marijuana Farms

The Obama administration has warned Oakland over the licensing of four giant medical marijuana farms, saying the plan is in violation of state and federal law and could trigger multiple legal actions against the city. Officials from the Justice Department’s civil division and the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco delivered the blunt message to Oakland City Attorney John Russo, according to two officials who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to talk about the meetings. At issue is an ordinance, approved by the Oakland City Council last July, to license four industrial facilities to cultivate and process medical marijuana and sell the product to dispensaries around the state.

Ghost Towns: Ciudad Juarez Residents Flee New Homes to Escape Drug Prohibition War Violence

Across the border from El Paso, Texas, a mass exodus triggered by a murderous prohibitionist war for drug trafficking routes into the United States has left huge swaths of Ciudad Juarez uninhabited, rocking Mexican home builders and gutting the large industrial city of its upwardly mobile working class. Residents are fleeing many towns along the Mexican border, but the migration is perhaps most acutely felt in Juarez, which until recently was among Mexico's fastest-growing cities, its industrial jobs attracting immigrants from across the country and Central America.

Attention Students: Start a SAFER Campus Campaign This Spring

The SAFER Campuses Initiative is off to an early start for Spring 2011, and we want to help you get a campaign going on your campus.

Gov. Christie Makes Deal on New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Regulations

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie struck a deal to partially rewrite his administration's proposed medical marijuana regulations, which had advocates and some lawmakers ready to revolt. Under the new plan, medical cannabis could be grown and distributed at more places than Christie originally wanted. It also would allow terminally ill patients easier access to the drug, but an unusual potency cap would remain.

Drug Prohibition War Spills Into San Diego

In San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial area, warehouses may be housing cross-border tunnels used to smuggle huge amounts of drugs from Tijuana, Mexico. After two major underground passages were discovered last month less than two blocks from one of nation's busiest border crossings for cargo, federal authorities are knocking on doors of warehouse owners and tenants to ask for help.

Bodies of Two Americans Found in Mexican Mass Grave

The bodies of 31-year-old Camerino F. Corral and 27-year-old Lorenzo Renteria, both of Deming, New Mexico, were among 20 victims found in a mass grave in drug prohibition war-plagued Mexico.

WikiLeaks: US Has Lost Faith in Mexico's Ability to Win Prohibitionist Drug War

WikiLeaks cables show the US has lost confidence in the Mexican army's ability to win the country's prohibitionist drug war, branding it slow, clumsy and no match for "sophisticated" narco-traffickers. Classified diplomatic information released by WikiLeaks also reveals a growing sense of alarm within Mexico's government that time is running out in the battle against organized crime and that it could "lose" entire regions. The memos detail blunders in the fight against drug traffickers and a desperate search for a new strategy to save President Felipe Calderón's administration from a bloodsoaked fiasco.

GOP Presidential Hopeful Johnson Wants Pot Legalized

Gary E. Johnson, a former New Mexico governor and marijuana legalization advocate, is putting out Florida feelers in a possible bid for the presidency in 2012. Johnson's reasons for wanting to legalize marijuana: It's is less harmful than alcohol and the cost of locking up pot smokers exacts too much of a toll on civil liberties and on taxpayers. "I don't drink. I don't smoke pot. But I've drank and I've smoked pot...The big difference between the two is that marijuana is a lot safer than alcohol," said Johnson, an accomplished tri-athlete who once scaled Mount Everest.

Mexican Drug Traffickers Kills Woman Who Took Police Chief Job Men Didn't Want

Hermila Garcia, 38, who became the top law enforcement officer in the town of Meoqui only two months ago, was killed as she drove to work. Her death has left some wondering if it wasn't a warning from the drug traffickers to other women, like Marisol Valles Garcia, 20, a student who became police chief of Praxedis, in the Juarez valley, also in the state of Chihuahua, home to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's most violent drug war city.

Planners OK Medical Marijuana Zones in Battle Creek

The Battle Creek Planning Commission recommended changing the city's zoning rules to allow growing marijuana for medicinal use in certain commercial zones. Compassion clubs, operations that provide support services for medical marijuana patients, would be allowed in some zones and would give patients a second place to use their medicine besides their homes.

This Week in History

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

MPP: Limited time offer for Mission tickets

Dear friends :

Senator Kohl Threatens to Hold Up DEA Nominee Over Nursing Home Drug-Dispensing Issue

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) continues to express his reservations about Michelle Leonhart, the nominee to lead the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Leonhart on Wednesday, Kohl said he still has concerns about the DEA's policy regarding the delivery of pain medications in nursing homes. "I will not hold her nomination in the Committee today, but I do intend to hold her nomination on the Senate floor until we have made more progress towards our goal of ensuring that nursing home residents get timely access to the prescription drug care they need," Kohl told the committee.

NM Proposing Changes in Medical Marijuana Program

Medical marijuana growers in New Mexico say proposed changes to the state's program, which include new fees imposed on producers, weren't adequately considered and would destroy small-scale licensed growers.

ACLU Sues Birmingham, Among Other Cities, for Banning Medical Marijuana

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sued the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia today, claiming their ordinances banning medical marijuana are in direct violation of the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

I Don't Want to Be a Criminal



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AP IMPACT: Cartel Arrests Did Not Curb Drug Trade

An Associated Press investigation casts doubt on whether the crackdown on the Sinaloa Drug Trafficking Organization caused any significant impact. It still ranks near the top of Mexico's drug gangs, most of those arrested were underlings who were swiftly replaced, and the leader remains free, along with his top commanders. The findings confirm what many critics of the prohibitionist drug war have said for years: The government is quick to boast about large arrests or drug seizures, but many of its most-publicized efforts result in little, if any, slowdown in the drug trade.

The House Made of Hemp

America's first house made primarily of hemp has been built. Using a product known as Hemcrete – a mix of industrial hemp, lime and water – a team of 40 volunteers, sub-contractors and designers have recently completed construction of a hemp house located in Ashville, North Carolina. Eco-friendly design and construction company Push Design has gained the support of community members and local officials alike and now plans to build more.

Barriers to Ex-Offender Employment Could Cost the Nation at Least $57 Billion

According to a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research's senior economist John Schmitt, ex-offenders' barriers to employment lowers the nation's employment on average by 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers. Multiply that number by the average output that these workers would be putting into the economy, if they were employed, and the loss totals at least $57 billion, he said. This figure is growing as more of the hundreds of thousands of people put into jail during the prohibitionist war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s are released.

DEA Criminalization of 'Fake Marijuana' Repeats Mistakes of Past Prohibitions (Opinion)

Grant Smith, federal policy coordinator in the Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs in Washington, D.C., says we know from marijuana prohibition that law enforcement has no control over the drug market and the criminals who run it. By choosing to ban K2 outright, lawmakers are committing millions of taxpayer dollars to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate K2 users. He points out that we simply cannot afford to expand the war on drugs at a time when budgets are in the red and the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world.

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