The Speakeasy Blog

At least 21 states include drug offenses in their definitions of child abuse

Michigan is the latest, with Gov. Granholm signing a bill on Thursday that will make some meth offenses per se evidence of child abuse. I have a problem with these laws. I think child abuse is already well defined and people who fit the criteria should be punished for it. But saying that using or even cooking speed equals child abuse is just absurd on the face of it. I'll be talking to people through the week as I write a story on this to see if I'm wrong.
Location: 
United States

Don't Worry, Orrin Hatch Will Save You

When renowned R&B producer Dallas Austin was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in a Dubai prison for cocaine possession, he found an unlikely advocate in Republican Senator and Christian music composer Orrin Hatch, according to the New York Times:

The release of a music producer from a Dubai jail this week, quick on the heels of his conviction for drug possession, turns out to be a story of high-level string-pulling on the part of Mr. Hatch, the conservative Utah Republican and songwriter, along with Lionel Richie, the singer; Quincy Jones, the music entrepreneur; and an array of well-connected lawyers, businessmen and others, spanning cities and continents.

And it gets better:

A spokesman for Mr. Hatch said that the senator was a proponent of rehabilitation for drug offenders, and that he had worked to revise federal sentencing guidelines regarding cocaine, and, through legislation in 2005, had advocated treatment for nonviolent offenders and the easing of restrictions on medication to treat heroin addiction. In the statement Mr. Hatch said he was "confident that this talented young man will learn from this experience."

Sounds good to me, but Orrin Hatch? Didn’t he once advocate the death penalty for international drug trafficking, the exact crime of which Mr. Austin was accused?

Well…yes.

Clearly, he’s got some explaining to do, but let’s withhold our cries of hypocrisy for now and hope he’s seen the light. Afterall, we’ve got 500,000 non-violent drug offenders right here at home that could use some help from Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

Location: 
Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Coming in the Chronicle this week

Here's a late Sunday night heads-up on what I'll be working on this week--subject, of course, to breaking news and other vagaries... The Portland pot initiative handed in signatures Saturday, and it looks like they will have enough to make the ballot... Thursday's raids on San Diego area medical marijuana dispensaries and moves against doctors saw the feds and local officials attempting to show that the dispensaries and the doctors were not practicing "legitimate" medical marijuana medicine. Is that really what the feds and cops were doing? Is that really the case? And what does the future hold for the dispensaries?... Michigan Gov. Granholm late last week signed an anti-meth package into law. It includes a provision defining exposure to meth as "child abuse." Michigan is only the latest state to hope on board this trend. I think I'll see how many others are doing the same and whether this is a good idea. My initial thinking is: We already have child abuse laws; if they are violating those laws, charge them with child abuse. If not, not. Plus a bunch more stuff...
Location: 
United States

drug war/terror war confusion in Afghanistan

The British online publication "Spiked" noted in a larger story, citing a March article in the Guardian, that there is confusion over whether NATO troops are fighting a "war on drugs" in Afghanistan" or a "war on terror." Philip Cunliff wrote:
[T]he British mission objective is further confused by the question of whether the British army is fighting a war on drugs or the war on terror. Former British defence secretary John Reid argued that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is "absolutely interlinked" with the war on terror (though in fact, it was the Americans who endorsed their local allies’ poppy cultivation after the Taliban curtailed it) (4). On the other hand, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General James Jones, has said: "You won’t see NATO burning crops, but you will see us gather intelligence and support the national effort as best we can."
Reid is ignoring the obvious realities of the situation. The opium trade is only linked to terrorism (to the extent that is actually the case, probably non-zero but less than Reid claims) because opium and the drugs derived from it are illegal. Legalization would bring opium out of the underground economy and allow governments to regulate it -- if Afghanistan couldn't control the money flow to keep it out of the hands of Taliban and Al Qaeda and other violent organizations, consumer nations in Europe and the Americans could simply require the stuff be bought elsewhere. Instead, we have a no win situation in which fighting the poppy will alienate the populace whose help we need, in which wiping out the crops (an impossible task) would generate economic catastrophe, but leaving them aids our enemies and hinders the goal of attaining political instability for that troubled nation. There's a reason why the medical opium crop doesn't cause violence or help terrorists -- because it's legal. The Senlis Council has organized at least two conferences in Afghanistan to propose licensing the crop for that market.

Lynn Zimmer Dies at 59

Professor Lynn Zimmer, a sociologist at Queens College in New York, was widely regarded among both drug policy scholars and activists as the most original thinker on drug issues in the United States. She died at her home this past Sunday. Please visit the Drug Policy Alliance's blog at http://blog.drugpolicy.org/2006/07/in-memoriam-lynn-zimmer-1947-2006.html to post your respects and memories.
Location: 
United States

Coming in the Chronicle this week

We've got a bad bill in California, a bad arrest in Wisconsin, needle exchange news on a couple of fronts, a bevy of corrupt cops, and our favorite Australian MP goes to a rave and likes it.

Canadian Senator and Former Mayor Roasts UN Anti-Drug Chief in E-Mail over "World Drug Report"

We didn't get the permission back in time to include this in issue #441 of Drug War Chronicle, but Sen. Campbell wrote back and said it's okay. In an e-mail sent to Vancouver drug reformer and harm reductionist Mark Haden, Vancouver's former mayor, Larry Campbell, now a Senator, wrote the following e-mail, titled " UNODC World Drug Report 2006 full of scientific insults," with permission to distribute it:
"UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa claims that the world is experiencing a devastating "cannabis pandemic." This gentleman is the same person who said we were putting "cannabis oil" on pasta. It was pointed out that is hemp oil which is not a sativa product. He didn't know the difference and appeared not to care. Simply another high paid UN stooge. Isn't it amazing that the US only supports the UN when they toe the US 'drug war' line."
Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/311/campbell.shtml to read DRCNet's November 2003 interview with Campbell.
Location: 
United States

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