Breaking News:EVENT: No Time Like the Present: Drug Policy Reform is More Urgent Than Ever

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Sentencing: Supreme Court 2nd Amendment Decision May Provide Opening for Appeal in Case of Pot Dealer Doing 55 Years for Carrying Gun

Salt Lake City marijuana dealer Weldon Angelos got 55 years because he had a gun with him during a couple of deals and more at home. Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's recent 2nd Amendment decision, a group of attorneys is filing a new appeal.

Sentencing: Pennsylvania Reform Measure Becomes Law

The biggest sentencing reforms in years were signed into law by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell last week, but the killing of a policeman by a parolee is now blocking all parole releases.

Medical Marijuana: Bill Coming Down the Pike in Idaho?

An Idaho Republican state legislator is threatening to introduce a medical marijuana bill next session. That would bring the state in line with neighbors Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.

Feature: Drug Policy Reform and Sentencing Initiatives on the November Ballot

Election day is just over a month away. Here's a breakdown of drug policy reform and sentencing initiatives (not all of them good) on various state and local ballots November 4.

Feature: Drug Reform Not on the Radar in Canada's Elections

Canadians go to the polls in national elections this month, but there has been little talk of drug reform, and two pro-reform parliamentary candidates were forced off the ballot after videos of past drug use surfaced on YouTube.

Medical Marijuana: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Employment Rights Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has vetoed a bill that would have provided employment protection for medical marijuana patients.

Europe: Marijuana Less Harmful Than Alcohol or Tobacco, Says British Drug Think-Tank

A British drug policy think-tank has released a report saying that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and should be regulated, not prohibited.

Public Opinion: Three-Quarters of Likely Voters Believe Drug War is Failing and More than One-Quarter Favor Legalization, Zogby Poll Finds

A poll released Thursday finds that 76% of likely voters think the drug war is failing and 27% say the solution is to legalize some drugs.

Mexico Seeks to Decriminalize Small-Time Pot, Cocaine Use

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Search and Seizure: Florida Defense Attorneys Challenge Drug Dog "Hits"

The use of drug dogs to search vehicles during traffic stops is becoming increasingly popular with police. But now, some Florida attorneys are challenging the reliability of the dogs because some have been shown to "hit" consistently on cars -- even when no drugs are on board.

Medical Marijuana: Washington State Judge Plays Doctor, Convicts Authorized Patient of Cultivating His Own Medicine

In convicting a properly certified medical marijuana patient of cultivation, a Washington state judge has decided she's a doctor, not just a lawyer.

Latin America: Mexicans Bummed Out By Prohibition-Related Violence -- 44% Say Legalize Drugs

Mexico's high levels of prohibition-related violence are taking their toll on public confidence south of the border. But they are also making Mexicans more amenable to thinking about legalization, according to a new poll.

Sentencing: Pennsylvania Senate Approves Treatment-Not-Jail Measure

Suffering a budgetary hangover after years of "tough on crime" and mandatory minimum sentencing policies, the Pennsylvania Senate voted last week to divert nonviolent drug offenders to treatment, among other reforms. The House is expected to pass the bill soon.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

From sea to shining sea, cops, jail guards, and court officers go bad. This week, in addition to the usual rogues' gallery of corrupt cops, we get an abusive one, too.

Europe: Kosovo Has Lowest Illicit Drug Prices in Region

Kosovo won its independence from Serbia after a US-NATO intervention in 1999. Now it boasts the cheapest dope in the Balkans.

Salvia Divinorum: US Military Bases in England, Okinawa Say No to Sally D

The Marines in Okinawa and a US Air Force fighter wing in England have banned salvia divinorum. They're not the first military bases to act against the legal hallucinogen.

Europe: Dutchman Busted for Smoking Tobacco in Cannabis Coffee House

Holland banned tobacco smoking in public places, including coffee shops, effective July 1. Now one Amsterdammer who couldn't break his habit of mixing tobacco into his joints has been cited.

Feature: Poll Finds Broad Support for Doing Away with Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Nonviolent Offenders

Families Against Mandatory Minimums this week released polling data showing surprising levels of support for reform of our draconian mandatory minimum sentencing structure.

Feature: Number of Schools Embracing Random Drug Testing on the Rise -- So is Opposition

Unleashed by a pair of US Supreme Court rulings, the Bush administration has been pushing random suspicionless drug testing of students. They've been having some success, but have also engendered a vigorous opposition movement.

South Asia: Sri Lanka in Medical Marijuana Quandary

Marijuana has been used in ayurvedic medicine in South Asia for thousands of years. Now, authorities in Sri Lanka are seeking to authorize gardens to supply ayurvedic demand.

Europe: Dutch Supreme Court Says Patient Can Grow Marijuana for Therapeutic Use

Holland may be famous for its marijuana coffee houses, but pot cultivation remains illegal -- unless you are a patient who can demonstrate a medical necessity, the Dutch Supreme Court has ruled.

Europe: Britain's Drug Advisory Panel Ponders Down-Scheduling Ecstasy

Britain's advisory panel on drug policy is about to undertake a review of the scheduling of ecstasy as a Class A drug, the most serious classification. The move comes after several reports saying the popular stimulant should be downgraded.

Latin America: Brazilian Cops Kill With Impunity, Moonlight as Drug Gang Executioners, UN Report Says

Brazilian police are killers, both on and off the job, according to a new report from the UN's Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, and arbitrary executions.

Feature: Serious Crime Down, Drug Arrests Hold Steady, But Marijuana Arrests Increase to 872,000

The FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report is out. Serious crime is down across the board, but drug arrests held roughly steady. Marijuana arrests actually increased by 5% to more than 872,000 -- nearly 90% of them for simple possession.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Texas constable and probation/parole officers in Massachusetts and North Carolina are in the spotlight this week.

Feature: US Lists "Major" Drug Producing and Trafficking Countries, Names Only Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as Not Complying

In its annual act of diplomatic hubris, the US government this week released its list of "major" drug producing and trafficking countries. Only three of them -- all political foes of Washington -- were found wanting.

Search and Seizure: Feds Must Get Warrant Before Scouring Cell Phone Location Records, Federal District Court Judge Rules

The government must obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before forcing wireless service providers to divulge historical cell phone tower location information, a federal district court hearing a drug trafficking case has ruled.

Marijuana: Massachusetts Decrim Initiative Organizers Take Off the Gloves, File Criminal Complaints Against Prosecutors

With less than two months before Massachusetts voters go to the polls to vote on a marijuana decriminalization initiative, initiative supporters have filed criminal complaints against the organized opposition.

Salvia Divinorum: Nebraska Shopkeeper to Go on Trial For Selling "Intoxicants" in Magic Mint Case

A Nebraska shop-keeper must stand trial for selling salvia divinorum, even though it's not illegal in Nebraska.

Feature: US Sentencing Commission to Examine Alternatives to Incarceration

Coming off a summer symposium that brought together experts in criminal justice and sentencing issues, the US Sentencing Commission has announced that it is making alternatives to incarceration one of its priorities for the coming year. With a record 200,000-plus people in federal prison -- more than half of them drug offenders -- that is a good thing.

Feature: Scholarship Fund Honoring 9/11 Hero John W. Perry Assists More Students Losing Financial Aid Because of Drug Convictions

The Higher Education Act (HEA) drug provision bars students with drug convictions from obtaining financial aid for specified periods. The John W. Perry Fund was created to help some of those students and to raise awareness of the injustice of the provision. This year, it is helping two students stay in school.

Marijuana: It's Official -- Fayetteville Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative Makes November Ballot

It's official -- An initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Fayetteville, Arkansas, will be on the November 4 ballot. But local prosecutors and law enforcement officials say it doesn't matter.

Medical Marijuana: PTSD Victim Sues West Virginia Pain Management Center for Dismissing Him Because He Smokes Marijuana for Relief

Medical marijuana users all too frequently run into problems with medical practitioners who consider them nothing more than drug abusers. Now, a West Virginia victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is suing the doctor and clinic that dismissed him because he used pot to alleviate his symptoms.

Medical Marijuana: California Activist Grower Eddy Lepp Guilty in Federal Cultivation Case, Faces 10 Years to Life

California medical marijuana and marijuana legalization activist Eddy Lepp faces from 10 years to life in prison after being convicted by a federal jury of growing more 24,000 plants.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have cops and prison guards getting into drug war trouble from coast to coast this week, from San Diego to Chicago and from Florida to Maryland.

Feature: Battle Over California's Nonviolent Offender Recovery Act Initiative Begins to Heat Up

In November, California residents will vote on a massive, complicated "treatment not jail" initiative known as the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA) and appearing on the ballot as Proposition 5. Battle lines are now being drawn.

South Asia: Indian Newspaper Cheers On Anti-Drug Vigilantes

Anti-drug vigilantism is not unknown in India or some other parts of the world, but it's not usually cheered on by the press. This week, it was in India's Orissa state.

Latin America: Walters Continues US Attack on Venezuela Anti-Drug Efforts, Calls Chávez Policies "Global Threat"

Washington's war of words against Venezuela over its anti-drug interdiction efforts continued this week, as John Walters called the country a "global threat" because it does not cooperate in US anti-drug efforts.

Latin America: Embattled Mexican President Seeks More Money to Fight Crime, Drug Gangs

Mexican President Felipe Calderón staked his political reputation on doing battle with the drug cartels. Now, with prohibition-related violence at record levels and violent common crime also on the rise, he is looking for more money to save his legacy.

Europe: Irish Judge Balks at Unquantified Drugged Driving Test

An Irish judge has dismissed drugged driving charges against a young man based solely on the presence of marijuana in his system. That's not sufficient to prove impairment, he ruled.

Feature: Venezuela, US Governments Spar Over Drug Fighting

Washington and Caracas traded barbs over Venezuelan cooperation (or the lack thereof) with US drug fighters this week.

Australia: Drug Researcher Says Ecstasy Safer Than Binge Drinking, Causes Flap

A leading Australian drug researcher has dared to suggest young people might be better off taking small doses of ecstasy rather than getting stinking drunk on a regular basis, and that has excited cries of blasphemy!

Medical Marijuana: Los Angeles City Council Extends Moratorium

The Los Angeles City Council has extended its year-old moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries for another six months.

Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative Turns in More Signatures

A lowest law enforcement priority initiative for adult marijuana possession offenses in Fayetteville, Arkansas, seems set for the November ballot as organizers hand in nearly a thousand additional signatures. They needed 300 valid ones.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A cop with a pain pill habit gets in trouble. So does yet another jail guard.

Drug Use: Prescription Pills Up, Cocaine and Meth Down, Marijuana Holds Steady

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health is out. While some drugs are less popular than last year, others are more popular, and overall use levels remain largely unchanged.

Latin America: Mexican Drug Violence Taking Toll on Pres. Calderón's Popularity

Mexican President Felipe Calderón called out the army to put the hurt on drug trafficking organizations. But with a rising prohibition-related death toll, as well as public impatience with common crime, his policies may be putting a bigger hurt on himself.

Marijuana: SAFER Takes on the NFL, Cites "Hypocrisy" of Player's Huge Fine for Marijuana Possession

The marijuana reform group SAFER is accusing the NFL of hypocrisy over a huge fine imposed on one player for minor marijuana possession while the league makes hundreds of millions from alcohol advertising. It has an online petition you can sign.

Presidential Politics: Both Major Party Tickets Include Former Drug Users

With the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, both major party tickets now include acknowledged former drug users. But there is little sign either party is going to do anything groundbreaking on drug policy reform.

Chronicle Book Review: "On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine," by Nicolas Rasmussen (2008, New York University Press, 352 pp, $29.95 HB)

With "On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine," historian of science Nicholas Rasmussen has written a fascinating and enlightening history of America's favorite stimulant, and the role of drug companies, the medical profession, and consumers in making it that way.

Feature: Afghan Opium Production Declines Slightly From Record Levels

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported this week that Afghan opium production has decreased slightly this year. While the West praised the findings, independent observers were much less sanguine.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A key Coast Guard anti-drug fighter gets caught doing cocaine, plus the usual array of miscreants in blue.

Medical Marijuana: Washington State Fight Over Allowable Quantities Continues

Washington voters approved medical marijuana a decade ago, but confusion over what constitutes an allowable quantity of medicine and plants continues. Now, the state health department is trying to set rules, and patients aren't happy with what it's proposing.

Europe: Scottish Heroin Crackdown Sparks Violent Crime Increase

Police in Scotland engineered a crackdown on heroin in Dundee, only to find they had created a crime wave.

Harm Reduction: Funds Begin to Flow to DC Needle Exchange Programs

For a decade, Congress has barred the city of Washington, DC, from spending money to fund needle exchange programs in an effort to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. That ban was lifted earlier this year, and now the money is beginning to flow.

Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia

This month, Iran has once again led the way in executing drug offenders.

Feature: California Attorney General Issues Medical Marijuana Guidelines -- Mostly Good But Some Problems, Say Advocates

After more than a decade of conflict and confusion over California's medical marijuana laws, state Attorney General Jerry Brown Monday issued a series of guidelines for patients, providers, and police designed to specify just what is and is not allowable under the law.

Law Enforcement: LEAP Barred From Asian-American Cops Meeting in Virginia

Somebody at the National Asian Peace Officers Association conference this week didn't want their members to hear from anti-prohibitionist cops. LEAP wants to know who and why.

Australia: Strong Support for Medical Marijuana, Needle Exchange Programs, National Survey Finds

Australians showed strong support for medical marijuana and harm reduction measures in a national survey. Marijuana legalization? Not so much, at least not yet.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops "misplacing" money, cops providing help to a pot crew, a court security officer peddling pain pills, and a jail guard getting caught bringing in the goodies. Just another week in the drug war.

Latin America: Mexico's PRD May Call for Legalization

Faced with rising levels of violence as Mexican drug traffickers, police, and soldiers engage in a multi-sided struggle for supremacy, Mexico's left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party may be about to call for legalization of the drug trade -- in both the US and Mexico.

Marijuana: Massachusetts Decriminalization Initiative Polling Well

A November initiative that would decriminalize small-time marijuana possession in Massachusetts is now polling at over 70%.

Salvia Divinorum: North Dakota Man, First in Nation Charged With Magic Mint Offense, Sees Charges Reduced

Kenneth Rau of Bismarck, North Dakota, the first man in the US arrested for possession of salvia divinorum, caught something of a break last week when prosecutors dropped the most serious charge against him. But he still faces five years in prison for $32 worth of salvia leaves he bought on eBay.

Europe: Move Afoot in Poland to Legalize Marijuana

Poland treats marijuana possession toughly, but that could change if a movement now underway succeeds.

Medical Marijuana: California Supreme Court to Take Up Limits Issue

The California Supreme Court will try to settle once and for all the issue of limits on the number of plants or amount of marijuana patients may possess.

Marijuana: Hawaii's Big Island to Vote on Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative

An initiative that would make the enforcement of marijuana laws against adults the lowest law enforcement priority on Hawaii's Big Island will go to the voters in November.

Feature: The Drug Checkpoint That Wasn't -- Louisiana Lawmen Play Fast and Loose with the Constitution

There was a drug checkpoint on a Louisiana highway last week. Only one problem: they're illegal. Now the local cops are backtracking furiously and claiming it was really a legal highway safety checkpoint. And the drug dogs were there to help read drivers' licenses?

Feature: Seattle's Hempfest Again Draws Multitudes in Celebration of Cannabis Culture

Seattle's annual Hempfest, the world's largest marijuana "protestival," took place last weekend. Here's a brief report.

Feature: Prosecutors Want Five Years for North Dakota Man Who Bought $32 Worth of Salvia Divinorum on eBay

Kenneth Rau is the first person in the US to face prison time for possessing salvia divinorum. Prosecutors have offered him five years in prison if he cops a plea. Otherwise, he faces up to 20.

Europe: French Police Start Saliva-Testing Drivers for Drugs

French police are cracking down on drugged drivers, and they unveiled a new tool in their kits this week: saliva testing.

Marijuana: Mendocino County Coalition Moves to Further Restrict Cultivation -- But Late-Breaking Judge's Ruling May Undo Their Earlier Victory

The people who managed to overturn Mendocino County's groundbreaking Measure G, which barred prosecution of anyone growing fewer than 25 plants, are feeling emboldened. Now, they have hatched a new scheme to further tighten the screws.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A tough week for jail and prison guards, and some Virginia deputies could find themselves in trouble.

Presidential Politics: Ralph Nader Says Free the Dopers, Jail the Corporate Crooks

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader unveils a strong drug policy platform and suggests the government should target corporate criminals instead of drug offenders.

Presidential Politics: Bob Barr Criticizes High-Profile Drug Raid on Maryland Mayor's Home

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr uses the raid on the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, to issue a broader critique of drug law enforcement.

Europe: Former British Anti-Drug Official Now Calls For Legalization

Britain's prohibition establishment suffered a high-ranking defection when a former Tony Blair drug policy coordinator went over to the other side in an online comment that has excited considerable British media attention.

Marijuana: Arizona Court of Appeals Rejects Religious Defense

The Arizona Court of Appeals has rejected a religious defense for marijuana use and possession.

Medical Marijuana: California Appeals Court Upholds State Law, Rejects San Diego County Claim

In a victory for California's medical marijuana law, a state appeals court has rejected a challenge to the law from San Diego County. But it isn't over yet. The county said Tuesday it would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Southeast Asia: DEA Bringing Drug War Tactics to Vietnam

DEA trainers are in Vietnam this month to show Vietnamese how to have a drug war American-style, but the UN's man on the scene doesn't find that particularly helpful.

Medical Marijuana: National MS Society Takes Half-Step Toward Recognizing Therapeutic Uses

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is calling for more research on medical marijuana. While that's only a half-step on the society's part, it's a half-step forward.

Southeast Asia: Drug User Group Demonstrates for Legal Drug Use in Jakarta

Drug user activists handed out brochures called for the legalization of drug use in some of Jakarta's most notorious dope-dealing hot-spots this week. It was the second user demonstration this summer in Indonesia.

Feature: Feds Score Another Conviction Against a California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operator

Federal prosecutors won another conviction against a California medical marijuana dispensary operator this week. It's easy pickings when the defense can't mention medical marijuana, and it raises issues about how to deal with local law enforcement officials who work with the feds to get around state law.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Boston cop goes to prison for being muscle for drug dealers, and a Miami-area cop and two prison guards get caught up in a massive Oxycontin and health fraud scandal.

Law Enforcement: Killer Cop Walks in Ohio SWAT Raid Shooting, Relatives File Wrongful Death Suit

A Lima, Ohio, police sergeant who shot and killed an unarmed woman and wounded her infant son during a SWAT raid was acquitted on all counts this week. He only faced eight months, anyway. But this story isn't over -- relatives have now filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the shooter.

Latin America: Peru Constitutional Court Overturns State Law Okaying Coca Crops

In a bid to regularize the situation of coca growers, one Peruvian department earlier this year moved to legalize the crop. This week, the country's highest constitutional court overturned that move, saying only the national government can set drug policy.

Ohio Officer Acquitted of Killing Mom Holding Baby [in Drug Raid]

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Marijuana: Joplin, Missouri, Decrim Initiative in Final Signature-Gathering Push

An initiative that would decriminalize possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana in Joplin, Missouri, is in a last-minute push to get the number of valid signatures required to make the November ballot.

Feature: Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Has Its Coming Out Party

For the first time in decades, there is a marijuana decriminalization bill before Congress. No one thinks it will pass this year, but you have to start somewhere.

Europe: Britain's Drug War Not Working, Think-Tank Finds

A leading independent British commission has examined the UK's war on drugs and found it ineffective and misguided.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Prison guards get busted as cocaine traffickers in Louisiana and New Jersey, and a pair of North Carolina cops plea to helping out the local cocaine trade.

Racial Profiling: Latest Illinois Report Prompts Civil Rights Groups to Call for End to Consent Searches

Another year, and another report showing racial profiling by Illinois law enforcement. Now, civil rights groups want the governor to end the policy of allowing consent searches by state troopers.

Southwest Asia: Iranian Harm Reduction Doctors Arrested, Held Without Explanation

A pair of Iranian physicians who are internationally known harm reduction practitioners have been arrested by Iranian authorities. No reason has been given, they are being held incommunicado, and there is a petition drive underway to secure their release.

Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative in Signature Drive

An initiative that would make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority is in the signature-gathering phase in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Latin America: In Bid to Reduce US Influence, Bolivia to Fund Own Anti-Drug Unit

The Bolivian government announced late last week that it would fund its own anti-drug units in a bid to reduce foreign (read: US) influence over its coca and cocaine policies.

Feature: Prescription Drug "Fatal Medical Errors" Rising Dramatically -- What Does It Mean?

A study released this week shows a dramatic increase in "fatal medical errors" related to self-administered prescription drugs, especially when other drugs and/or alcohol are involved. But the study is raising as many questions as answers.

Harm Reduction: Bill to End Federal Needle Exchange Ban Filed

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and 25 cosponsors have filed a bill that would lift the 20-year-old federal ban on funding for needle exchange programs.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Seizes Medical Marijuana Seized By Seattle Police

Although Washington state has a medical marijuana law and the city of Seattle has a lowest law enforcement priority ordinance, Seattle police two weeks ago raided a medical marijuana co-op, seizing patient records and 12 ounces of medicine. The co-op got the records back, but now the DEA has seized the marijuana.

Hey, Dirtbags, Ya Wanna Know What Cops Think About Frank's Decrim Bill (and You)?

Pot smokers and drug reformers weren't the only people interested in Barney Frank's news conference yesterday about his decriminalization bill.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Three cases of crooked cops in Florida this week, and a pair of asset forfeiture abuse situations in St, Louis and Muncie, Indiana.

Feature: Going After Congressional Drug Warrior #1

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) has made a political career out of being "tough on drugs." Now, in an election year where Obamamania has already swept his district, a newly-formed political action committee wants to make him pay for it.

Australia: Grow Lights Now Illegal in South Australia

South Australia has now criminalized the possession of high intensity lights, reflectors, and anything else that might be used to grow marijuana. You now have to prove you weren't going to grow pot to avoid prosecution instead of the state having to prove you were.

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