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Marijuana: Arizona Supreme Court to Hear Case Asserting Religious Right to Use, Possess

The Arizona Supreme Court will decide whether there is a religious right to use and possess marijuana.

Salvia Divinorum: Banned in Ohio in 90 Days

Ohio becomes the latest state to criminalize salvia divinorum (and its users). The ban goes into effect in 90 days.

Drug Legalization: El Paso City Council Unanimously Calls for National Debate, Mayor Vetoes Resolution Same Day, Override Vote Set For Next Week

With Mexico's prohibition-related violence within earshot, the El Paso City Council Tuesday passed a resolution calling for a national debate on drug legalization. But then, the mayor vetoed it. An override vote is set for next week.

West Africa: Here Come the Narcs

In recent years, South American cocaine traffickers aiming at lucrative European markets have made West Africa a favorite stop-over. Now, the narcs are following them.

Drug Testing: Chess Players Rebel

Drug testing in chess? You've got to be kidding. That's what the players think, but the chess federation is dead serious, and now it finds itself in something of a pickle.

Feature: Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules in Michigan Stir Chorus of Complaints

The Michigan bureaucrats charged with drafting rules and regulations for the state's new, voter-approved medical marijuana program need to go back to the drawing board, patients and advocates demanded at a Monday hearing.

Feature: DEA Rejects Yet Another Rescheduling Petition, But the End Game Lies Far Down the Road

Marijuana reform advocates have been seeking to have it rescheduled out of Schedule I since 1972. This week, the DEA rejected the latest petition to seek rescheduling, but that just sets the stage for the next moves. Meanwhile, another petition is moving through the bureaucratic process.

Obama Administration: Surgeon General Nominee Gupta Hates Marijuana, Sort of Supports Medical Use

Word is CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been offered the position of US surgeon general. A 2006 editorial he penned for Time magazine, opposing marijuana law reform initiatives on the ballot in two states, suggests Gupta may not be great news for drug reform.

The Border: US Prepares "Surge" In Case Prohibition Violence in Mexico Spills Over

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been keeping an eye on the border. Now, he reveals that he has plans for a "surge" if Mexico's prohibition-related violence spills over into the US.

Feature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2008

As we wave goodbye to 2008, it's worth taking a moment to look back at the biggest drug policy stories of the year. It's a definite mixed bag, but better than most recent years. Following this story is another that looks forward into 2009 -- also likely to be a mixed bag, but with more signs of life to bring hope to drug reformers.

Europe: Dutch Appeals Court Rules Five-Plant Home Growers Cannot Be Prosecuted, No Matter How Big the Harvest

Under existing jurisprudence and guidelines, people in Holland can grow up to five marijuana plants without fear of prosecution. Now, a court has ruled that no matter how big the harvest, if you grow five or less, you're safe.

Drug Testing: Federal Judge Rejects West Virginia School Board's Random Tests of Teachers

West Virginia's Kanawha County school board wanted to subject teachers to random, suspicionless drug testing, but a little thing called the US Constitution got in the way.

Marijuana: Massachusetts Decriminalization Goes Into Effect Today -- Includes Hashish

Marijuana is decriminalized in Massachusetts effective today. Hash, too.

Latin America: Peru's Shining Path Making a Comeback?

The Peruvian government managed to defeat the bloody Shining Path insurgency in the early 1990s. Now, the profits from prohibition are helping to bring it back to life.

Europe: Austria, Germany Latest to Ban Herbal Drug "Spice"

The herbal drug "Spice" is becoming popular with recreational users seeking a high, but authorities in various countries are moving to ban it, claiming it contains a dangerous synthetic cannabinoid.

Coerced Snitching: Fall-Out Continues in the Case of Murdered Informant Rachel Hoffman

It's been a little more than six months since social pot dealer Rachel Hoffman was intimidated into becoming a snitch and sent off to buy cocaine and guns from men who killed her. Now, her family is suing the Tallahassee Police Department and seeking legislation to protect other young victims of predatory policing.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

New year, same old same old. Another jailer gone bad, another deputy with problems, and a murky tale from Tennessee involving cops, docs, guns, and pills.

Medical Marijuana: Maine Activist Wins Acquittal on Growing, Trafficking Charges

Don Christen has jousted with Maine authorities over marijuana for years. Now, he's just won a major victory in court.

Feature: Gazing Into the Crystal Ball -- What Can We Expect in 2009?

Will 2009 be a happy New Year for positive drug policy changes? Here, we take a look at what could -- or couldn't -- be coming down the pike, as well as some festering issues that aren't going to go away.

The Chronicle will be back next year, er, next week.

Your ink-stained wretch of a Chronicle editor spent this past week relocating from the frigid steppes of the Dakotas to the friendlier clime of Northern California's Sonoma County, the land of milk an

Feature: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Bill Heads for Senate Floor After Favorable Committee Vote

A New Jersey Senate committee Monday approved a medical marijuana bill, sending it to the Senate for a floor vote.

East Asia: Marijuana Use Sparks Concern in Japan

Thanks to some widely publicized busts, despite miniscule use levels, marijuana is sparking concern in Japan. The rhetoric will be familiar, and it provokes the question: Is it time for Nippon NORML?

Europe: Leading Dutch Bank Shuns Cannabis Coffee Shop Accounts

One of Holland's largest banks is washing its hands of the marijuana business, saying it will close down the accounts of coffee shop owners because that's the responsible thing to do.

Latin America: Venezuela Could Renew Cooperation With DEA, Chávez Says

A new administration in Washington could mean better relations with Venezuela, including renewed cooperation with the DEA, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez said Sunday. But cooperation is a two-way street...

Student Drug Testing: ACLU Sues Northern California High School Over New Expanded Policy

The ACLU's Northern California affiliate has filed a lawsuit challenging the Shasta County school district's newly-expanded student drug testing policy.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two cops are headed for prison in New Mexico, and one in California.

Salvia Divinorum: Ohio House, Senate Pass Ban Bill, Governor Expected to Sign

The Buckeye State is on the verge of becoming the latest to ban salvia divinorum.

Europe: Government Must Support Employers in Hiring Drug Users, British Drug Watchdog Group Warns

Plans are afoot in the British Isles to push "problem drug users" into treatment and onto the job market, but the government is going to have to do more, a new report says.

Report Review: New Federal Drug Threat Assessment Finds Prohibition Greatest Drug-Related Menace

The National Drug Intelligence Center is out with its National Drug Threat Assessment 2009. If the authors would read their own words, they would realize they are making a strong argument for ending drug prohibition.

Europe: Germany Opens Door to Medical Marijuana

The German agency that regulates medicine has issued an exclusive license to a Belgian firm to import and distribute medical marijuana to a handful of patients who have won exceptions to the country's drug laws. The bud should be in pharmacies by next month.

Africa: Debate Over Marijuana Legalization in Morocco Hits the Airwaves

People have grown cannabis for centuries in Morocco's Rif Mountains, and Moroccan hash has been a hit in Europe for decades. Now, after five years of trying to suppress the crop, the discussion over possible legalization has hit the public airwaves there.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta Cops Try to Gut Civilian Review Board Created After 92-Year-Old Woman Killed in Drug Raid

After Atlanta narcs gunned down 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in a bad drug raid, local officials sought to ease public outrage and concern by creating a Civilian Review Board to investigate abuses. Now the cops are trying to gut it.

Law Enforcement: Woman Charged With Killing FBI Agent in Drug Raid Will Argue She Thought She Was Defending Her Home from Intruders

Pennsylvania housewife Christine Korbe heard what she thought were robbers breaking into her home at dawn on November 19. She opened fire from a stairway, shooting an FBI agent serving a drug arrest warrant on her husband before calling 911 to report a break-in. Now, in the latest example of overly aggressive drug raids gone bad, the FBI is dead, and Korbe is facing murder charges.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Sodomizing SOB NYPD cops get indicted, a New York Health Department narc gets in trouble, so does a Michigan State Police narc and a Texas jail guard, and Rod Blagojevich isn't the only thing crooked in Chicago.

Sentencing: US Jail and Prison Population Hits All-Time (Again) -- 2.3 Million Behind Bars, Including More Than Half a Million Drug Offenders

Americans can rest secure in the knowledge that our country maintains its role as the world's leading jailer. According to a new Bureau of Justice Statistics report, we have an all-time record 2.3 million people behind bars, and that includes more than half a million drug offenders.

Methamphetamine: Graphic Montana Scare Campaign May Not Work After All, Study Finds

The Montana Meth Project, with its scary graphic images of the consequences of using the drug "just once," has been widely touted as a successful prevention effort. Not so fast, say researchers who have reviewed the results.

Latin America: This Years' Death Toll in Mexico's Prohibition Wars Passes 5,000

The death toll in Mexico's prohibition wars has passed 5,000 this year, making it comparable to the death tolls in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Feature: West Virginia School Board's Random Teacher Drug Testing Plan Headed for Court

The Kanawha, West Virginia, school board wants to randomly drug test teachers. But that's stretching the law, and neither the teachers' unions nor the ACLU are going to let it happen without a fight.

Feature: In Holland, Cannabis Politics Heats Up

Recent reports from Holland have given the impression that the coffee shops are under pressure and could even be shut down. Don't believe it.

Marijuana: "Substantial" Settlement in Lawsuit in Case of DC Quadriplegic Who Died in Jail While Serving 10-Day Sentence for a Joint

A callous DC judge sentenced wheelchair-bound Jonathan Magbie to 10 days in jail for marijuana possession after he told her he would keep using it to ease his ills. He died before he made it halfway through his sentence, and now, DC and a local hospital will have to pay out the nose for their sins.

Europe: Swiss Vote to Make Heroin Prescription Permanent, But Reject Marijuana Legalization

Voters in Switzerland Sunday easily approved prescribing heroin to addicts, but rejected marijuana legalization.

Marijuana: Chicago Heights Decriminalizes

The Chicago suburb of Chicago Heights has decriminalized marijuana possession.

Europe: Dutch Magic Mushroom Ban Clears Final Hurdle, Now In Effect

You can't sell or grow magic mushrooms in Holland anymore.

Medical Marijuana: US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Appeals Court Ruling Protecting State Medical Marijuana Laws

Last year, a California appeals court ruled that state and local police are not required to enforce federal drug laws. Now, the US Supreme Court has declined a chance to overturn that ruling.

Feature: South Dakota Medical Marijuana Backers Take Aim at the Statehouse

South Dakota has the dubious distinction of being the only state to defeat an initiative that would legalize medical marijuana, but that's not stopping advocates there. They have a bill ready for the legislature; now all they need are some sponsors.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A big corruption bust in Chicago, an ugly story out of upstate New York, and a sticky-fingered narc in Michigan, plus a former Schenectady police chief cuts a deal and heads for prison.

Feature: On the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition, Reformers Ponder the Past and Look to the Future

Alcohol Prohibition was repealed 75 years ago today. Are there lessons to be learned, and is it going to take another 75 years to end drug prohibition?

Death Penalty: Another Month of Drug War Extremism, and America's Hands Are Bloody

More people were executed for drug offenses or sentenced to death for them last month. American citizens might want to note the involvement of the US military or anti-drug agents in a pair of these cases.

Medical Marijuana: California Supreme Court Tightens Definition of "Caregiver," Ruling Will Push Patients Toward Co-ops and Dispensaries

The California Supreme Court has made it more difficult for people to qualify as medical marijuana caregivers. That should push patients toward co-op and collective dispensaries -- except in areas where there aren't any.

Europe: At Cannabis Summit, Dutch Mayors Try to Address "Backdoor Problem" of Coffee Shop Supply, Broader Status of Pot

Dutch pot politics is heating up again, with mayors looking for a way to solve the "backdoor problem" with their coffee shops, and some in the conservative government wanting to see the coffee shops just go away.

Clemency: President Bush Commutes Cocaine Sentences for Two, Grants 12 Pardons

As his term comes to a close, President George Bush has begun to exercise his pardon power, and a handful of drug offenders have benefited.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Indiana prosecutor gets slapped again over shady asset forfeiture practices, a Texas trooper gets caught with the coke, and so does a North Carolina cop.

Feature: The Kids Are Alright -- The SSDP 10th International Conference

Campus drug reform activists from around the country -- and beyond -- gathered last weekend in College Park, Maryland, for SSDP's 10th annual international conference. They lobbied, they listened, they learned, and now they're heading back home well-energized to apply the lessons they learned.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District," by Peter Moskos (2008, Princeton University Press, 245 pp., $24.95 HB)

Harvard-trained sociologist Peter Moskos was interested in police socialization, so he joined the Baltimore PD and hit the mean streets of the city's Eastern District for more than a year as a uniformed officer. The book he wrote based on his experiences is an illuminating gem.

Feature: No Post-Election Pause in Colorado -- Activists Attend Marijuana Boot Camp

With national elections just days behind them, some 300 Colorado marijuana reform activists wasted no time getting down to brass tacks as they met in Denver for the 2008 Colorado Marijuana Reform Seminar and Boot Camp.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A trio of bad apples from Arizona, including a DARE officer with a penchant for sexual assault, made the news this week, while the city of Berwyn, Illinois, found itself in a bit of hot water over the way it used asset forfeiture funds.

Marijuana: Narrow Majority of Arkansans Favor Decriminalization, Poll Finds

Who knew? Marijuana decriminalization is polling above 50% in Arkansas. Arkansas!

Latin America: Bolivia's Morales Says Yes to Obama, No to the DEA

Bolivia's President Evo Morales said yes to Obama, but no to the DEA at the UN this week

Australia: Hemp Production Now Legal in New South Wales

The Australian state of New South Wales has joined Canada, China, and various European countries in allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Tough luck, American farmers.

Canada: BC Local Elections Bring Another Drug Reform Mayor to Vancouver, A Drug Reform Mayor Back to Grand Forks, and a Drug Reformer to Victoria's City Council

There were municipal elections across British Columbia Saturday, and drug reformers continued to hold power in Vancouver, were returned to the mayoralty in Grand Forks, and won a seat on the city council in Victoria.

Feature: Obama's Appointees Raise Questions in the Drug Reform Community

The drug war records of some key Obama picks -- Biden, Emanuel, Holder -- are prompting wailing and gnashing of teeth among some drug reformers, but others suggest it's better to keep working quietly on progress than obsess on the past.

Europe: Dutch Mayors Want Regulated Marijuana Production and Sales

While the conservative Dutch national government would like to see cannabis coffee shops go away, the mayors of the towns that have them beg to differ. In fact, most of them want to see production as well as sales tolerated.

Europe: British Public Opinion Headed in Wrong Direction on Drug Policy, Poll Finds

British attitudes toward drug users, sellers, and drug reform are heading in the wrong direction, according to a new poll.

Medical Marijuana: ASA Files Lawsuit Against California DMV Over Patient Drivers' License Revocation

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is jerking the drivers' licenses of medical marijuana patients, saying they are "drug abusers." Now, Americans for Safe Access has filed a lawsuit to make them cut it out.

Evidence: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Drug Crime Lab Case

Do drug defendants have the constitutional right to cross-examine the laboratory analysts who prepare crime lab reports? That was the question before the Supreme Court in oral arguments Monday.

Southeast Asia: Thai Government in New Drug Crackdown

Five years ago, the Thai government waged a "war on drugs" that left nearly 3,000 people dead in less than three months. Now, it has declared a new drug war, and human rights groups are issuing warnings.

Paraphernalia: No More Felony Charges For Dirty Pipes or Syringes in Cleveland

People busted with dirty pipes or needles in Cleveland will no longer face felony drug possession charges -- unless they try really hard.

Europe: Czech Lower House Approves Lower Marijuana Penalties

The lower house of the Czech parliament has approved reforms to the penal code that would decriminalize marijuana possession and separate "hard" and "soft" drugs.

Europe: Swiss to Vote on Marijuana Decriminalization, Heroin Prescription

The Swiss will vote November 30 on whether to decriminalize marijuana and whether to continue the government's ongoing four pillars drug strategy, complete with prescription heroin.

Hemp: North Dakota Farmers Head to Federal Appeals Court

A pair of would-be North Dakota hemp farmers were in a federal appeals court Wednesday as they resumed their bid to get the federal government out of their way.

Feature: Looking Forward -- The Prospects for Drug Reform in Obama's Washington

After eight years of Republican rule and the Bush presidency, drug policy and related reformers are ready for change. They have some concrete ideas, too. Here's a look at them and the prospects for change in Washington.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Crooked policing sparks lawsuits in Oakland and New Haven, another jail guard goes down, so does a Border Patrol inspector, a Louisiana narc gets busted for burglary, and an Illinois cop gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Feature: Looking Forward -- Who Should Be the Next Drug Czar?

With the Bush administration preparing to leave town, so is drug czar John Walters. Now the question is who will replace him... and should he be replaced at all?

Feature: Big Day for Pot -- Decriminalization Wins in Massachusetts, Medical Marijuana in Michigan, All Local Initiatives Win, Too!

Marijuana won big in Tuesday's election. Every state and local initiative on the ballot won, and by impressive margins, despite the best efforts of cops, prosecutors, and the drug czar.

Latin America: Mexican Interior Minister, Top Anti-Drug Fighter Killed in Mysterious Plane Crash

Two of Mexico's top drug fighters were killed Tuesday in an unexplained plane crash in Mexico City. The Mexican press is rife with speculation they were assassinated.

Latin America: Bolivia Suspends Operations By DEA

Already chilly relations between Bolivia and the US grew even chillier this weekend, as Bolivia's President Morales told the DEA to take a hike.

Medical Marijuana: New Washington State Quantity Limits Now in Effect

New regulations that stipulate how much medical marijuana Washington state patients can grow and possess are now in effect.

Europe: Denmark's Christiania Residents Sue for Control Over Their Enclave

Copenhagen's counterculture enclave of Christiania has been under attack by the conservative Danish government, but now its residents are fighting back in the courts as well as the streets.

Southeast Asia: Philippines Supreme Court Upholds Drug Testing for Students, Workers, But Not Political Candidates or Criminal Defendants

The Philippines Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of random, suspicionless drug testing. It's fine for students and workers, but not for politicians or criminal defendants, the court held.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another NYPD bad apple, a probation officer with a bad habit, and more jail guards ending up on the inside looking out.

Feature: Sentencing Reform Initiative Defeated in California, "Tough on Crime" Initiatives Win in Oregon

California's "treatment not jail" Proposition 5 is defeated and so is one "tough on crime" initiative, but another one won favor with Golden State voters. Meanwhile, dueling "tough on crime" initiatives also passed in Oregon.

ONDCP: Who Will the Next Drug Czar Be? Not William Bratton

Who will replace drug czar John Walters in an Obama administration? The early speculation centered on LAPD Chief William Bratton, but now he has removed himself from consideration.

Latin America: Plan Colombia Didn't Work, GAO Report Says

The US has spent $6 billion on Plan Colombia since 1999. The goal was to reduce coca and cocaine production by half. They didn't even come close, a new GAO report reveals.

Canada: Government Loses Appeal in Bid to Restrict Medical Marijuana Cultivation

A Canadian federal appeals court upheld an earlier lower court ruling that medical marijuana providers can provide their product to more than one patient. Previously, providers were limited to one patient, and patients could not group together with one grower.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One cop offers bribes, one cop takes bribes, two cops take drugs and money. Just another week in the drug war.

Latin America: Mexico City to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession?

The head of the legislative assembly in Mexico's federal district (Mexico City) has introduced legislation that would decriminalize small-time marijuana possession and allow for the establishment of businesses to sell small amounts.

Latin America: US Drug Czar Supports Mexico Drug Decriminalization

Drug czar John Walters supports Mexico's drug decriminalization plan?!?! That's what he said last Friday, but there may be less to this than meets the eye.

Feature: Signature Gathering for 2010 Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative Suspended, Poor Poll Results Cited

It's back to the drawing board for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. Initiative organizers have suspended signature-gathering in the face of weak support in initial polling.

Latin America: Citing Continuing Human Rights Violations, Amnesty International Urges US to Halt Military Aid to Colombia

Washington and Bogotá have both been talking up improvements in Colombia's human rights situation. But there is still plenty to be deeply concerned about, Amnesty International said in a report this week.

Southwest Asia: US, UN Squabble Over Afghanistan Opium Production Drop, But Taliban Stash Suggests No Shortages Any Time Soon

Did Afghan opium production drop 6% this year or 31%? The US and the UN disagree, but it may be a moot point with the Taliban sitting on a huge stash that can be easily converted into a war chest.

Drug War Chronicle Video Review: "Prince of Pot: The US v. Marc Emery," Directed by Nick Wilson (2008, Journeyman Pictures)

"Prince of Pot: The US v. Marc Emery" is a new documentary on Canada's most famous marijuana activist. We review it this week.

Medical Marijuana: Montana Supreme Court Okays Use By Probationers, Parolees

Montana courts cannot bar medical marijuana patients from taking their medicine while on probation or parole, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Europe: In Bid to Fend Off "Drug Tourists," Some Dutch Border Towns to Close Coffee Shops

Flooded with marijuana users from more repressive neighboring countries, some Dutch border town mayors are shutting down all their cannabis coffee shops. Other mayors are looking for a better solution.

Prevention: Drug Czar's Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Media Campaign a Waste of Money, Study Finds

The drug czar's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign is an expensive failure, a new study has found.

Feature: NORML Does Berkeley

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) held its 37th annual national conference in Berkeley, California. Here's a report.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops dealing drugs, cops stealing money. More of the same old same old.

Death Penalty: Iran Bars Executions of Minors for Drug Offenses, Continues to Execute Adults

Iran has announced it will not execute drug offenders who are minors. Meanwhile, it continues to execute drug offenders who are adults.

Europe: Dutch Marijuana Export Industry Generates $2.7 Billion a Year, Prohibition-Related Violence

Four out of every five pounds of pot grown in the Netherlands is destined for export, says a top Dutch cop, and the black market trade is generating violent crime as well as big profits.

South Pacific: DEA Mass Body Search of Plane Passengers Spurs Angry Reaction in Marianas

Earlier this month, DEA agents strip-searched 147 Chinese nationals arriving in Saipan on vacation. The government of the Northern Mariana Islands is most unhappy.

Addiction Treatment: Canadian NAOMI Study Finds Heroin Maintenance Safe, Cheap, Effective

Research results from the North American Opiate Maintenance Initiative (NAOMI) are in, and the researchers say heroin maintenance is safe, effective, and economical.

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