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Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drugs in Afghanistan: Opium, Outlaws, and Scorpion Tales" by David Macdonald (2007, Pluto Press, 295 pp., $35PB)

United Nations Afghan drug demand reduction specialist David Macdonald's "Drugs in Afghanistan: Opium, Outlaws, and Scorpion Tales" is probably the most profound and nuanced look at the role of drugs in Afghanistan ever published.

Feature: As Afghan Opium Production Goes Through the Roof, Pressure for Aerial Eradication, Increased Western Military Involvement Mounts

The UN announced last week that Afghan opium production had increased yet again. Now, pressures to combat it with aerial spraying and increased Western military involvement are mounting, but the experts say that's a path to nowhere.

Africa: Guinea-Bissau Threatens to Shoot Down Drug Planes

Faced with a thriving cocaine trade using its territory as a stopover on the way to European markets, the government of the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau is threatening to blow drug planes out of the sky.

Latin America: Nicaraguan Leader Asks for $1 Billion in Anti-Drug Aid

Despite his publicly expressed reservations about the DEA -- and the demonstrated failure of the war on drugs -- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is bellying up to the counter-narcotics assistance trough. He wants a billion dollars from Washington to fight the Central American drug trade.

Europe: Czech Marijuana Users to Get Lesser Penalties

Legislators in the Czech Republic are preparing an amendment to the penal code that should lessen penalties for marijuana possession and growing.

Harm Reduction: Pennsylvania Moves to End Prescription Requirement for Buying Needles

The Pennsylvania Pharmacy Board has unveiled a proposed rule that would allow for the purchase of up to 30 needles without a prescription. The move is a harm reduction measure intended to reduce the sharing of injection equipment by drug users and thereby reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

Medical Marijuana: WAMM Lawsuit Hits Bump

A lawsuit filed by a Santa Cruz medical marijuana co-op and the city and county of Santa Cruz to try to block federal raids on providers in California is down but not out after an adverse ruling by a federal judge.

Asset Forfeiture: ACLU Sues DEA Over Trucker's Seized Cash

The ACLU is challenging the seizure of nearly $24,000 dollars from a New Mexico trucker by the DEA as part of its asset forfeiture program.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy, busy. Take a week off, and look what happens: Cops peddling pills, guards stealing pills, cops shaking down housing project residents, jail guards smuggling drugs, a DEA agent giving information to suspected mobsters, and more.

Feature: Stirring the Pot in Denver -- "Lowest Law Enforcement Priority" Marijuana Initiative to Go to Voters As Activists Bedevil Council, Mayor

A lowest law enforcement priority initiative for adult marijuana use is headed for the ballot in Denver, and local officials who oppose it are taking a beating from its proponents.

Supporting One Lost War is Not Enough for John McCain

Note: DRCNet does not take a position on the war in Iraq. I do.

Drug War Chronicle #500 Will Come Next Week, Not This One, Here's a Preview

The Drug War Chronicle's next issue will be #500.

Europe: First German Patient Approved to Use Medical Marijuana

Following a court ruling requiring the government to individually consider medical marijuana applications, a German federal institute has for the first time approved its use by a patient.

Marijuana: Humboldt County Supervisors Say Legalize It

Humboldt County this week became the second county in Northern California's "Emerald Triangle" to call for the legalization of marijuana.

Medical Marijuana: Obama Says End Raids, All Democratic Presidential Candidates Now on Board

With Sen. Barack Obama saying Tuesday he would end DEA raids on patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal, every Democratic Party presidential candidate (and two Republicans, too) are in agreement that the raids should end.

Medical Marijuana: Is An Ohio Initiative In the Works?

With a medical marijuana initiative effort well underway in Michigan, some drug reformers are turning their attention to a similar effort next door in Ohio.

Drug War Prisoners: Pain Patient Richard Paey to Get Shot at Early Clemency

Richard Paey was sent to prison for 25 years as a drug dealer after going from pharmacy to pharmacy in his wheel chair to obtain pain medications. Now he will get an early shot at clemency.

Drug War Prisoners: Rockefeller Law Victim Turned Activist Veronica Flournoy Dead at 39

Veronica Flournoy, 39, wanted to get her family back together and change the drug laws after her release from prison in New York state. Instead, lung cancer killed her.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More prison guards are in trouble. A Louisiana cop gets busted for pills -- corruption or desperation?

Drug War Prisoners: 86-Year-Old Alva Mae Groves Dies Behind Bars

Alva Mae "Granny" Groves died in federal prison last week. The 86-year-old grandmother was 13 years into a 24-year sentence for cocaine distribution charges she always said were punishment for failing to snitch on her children.

Feature: Pot Peace in Seattle as Another Hempfest Celebrates Cannabis Nation

An estimated 150,000 people attended Seattle's two-day Hempfest last weekend. Billed as the world's largest drug reform rally, Hempfest is also a celebration of the Cannabis Nation.

Feature: Push for Medical Marijuana Underway in Kansas

A Republican former Kansas attorney general spoke out for medical marijuana last Friday as a push to get a bill passed there gets underway.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One of California's top narcs gets busted for peddling Cialis, another Florida cop goes to prison, and a pair of Florida prison guards gets popped for the usual.

Medical Marijuana: Feds Seek Oregon Patient Records in Probe of Growers -- Patients Cry Foul

A federal grand jury looking into marijuana sales by growers hiding behind medical marijuana laws has issued subpoenas for the medical records of 17 Oregon patients. That's a first, and patients and advocates are determined to squash it.

Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Balks At Growing It

When New Mexico passed its medical marijuana law this year, it was unique in mandating that the state would oversee the production and distribution of the medicine. But citing fear of federal prosecution, the state Health Department now says "no way."

Asset Forfeiture: Austin Police Use of Seized Funds Probed

A new police chief in Austin has opened a criminal investigation into the way the department spent money it seized in asset forfeiture operations. Among the items: More than $600 for coffee cops and nearly $1,900 for a race clock, whatever that is.

South Asia: India's Shravan Pilgrims Bring Profits to Marijuana Sellers

It's time for the India's Shiva worshippers to go on a pilgrimage to a holy site. Along the way, some of them like to puff ganja. Local dealers are making money, and local police are looking the other way.

Latin America: Colombian Admiral Fired in Growing Probe of Military Drug Corruption

A Colombian rear admiral has been fired in a broadening probe into drug corruption in that country's military. He's not the only one.

Latin America: Nicaraguan President Warns of DEA's "Unexpected Interests" and "Terrible Things"

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega warned this week of the DEA's "unexpected interests" and "terrible things." Perhaps he's recalling the bad old days...

Feature: In Strategy Shift, US Troops to Join Battle Against Opium in Afghanistan

Nearly six years after the US invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban is back and opium production is going through the roof. Now, the US government has announced it is ready to let the US military join the Afghan drug war.

Chronicle Book Review: "The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture," by Richard De Grandpre (2007, Duke University Press, 294 pp., $24.95 HB)

With "The Cult of Pharmacology," researcher Richard De Grandpre takes a cold-eyed look at "the world's most troubled drug culture" and how it got that way. He also takes a few whacks against the disease model of addiction.

Latin America: Massive US-Mexico Counter-Drug Aid Package in the Works

Are we about to see "Plan Mexico"? The US and Mexican governments are currently negotiating what could be a multi-hundred-million dollar anti-drug assistance package to help that country in its battle with wealthy and violent drug trafficking organizations.

Feature: Yellow Journalism -- San Francisco Exchange Programs Scored Over Dirty Needles

A series of recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the problem of dirty needles in Golden Gate Park, but seemed to blame needle exchanges for the problem. Experts beg to differ.

Europe: Dutch May Join Trend and Ban Magic Mushrooms

Now, "smart shops" selling magic mushrooms abound in Holland, but perhaps not for long. Driven by a handful of unfortunate incidents, a move to ban the phantastical fungus is under government consideration.

Middle East: More Drug Executions in Saudi Arabia

The executioner's ax fell on three more drug war unfortunates in Saudi Arabia this week.

Southeast Asia: Probe into Thai Drug War Killings Getting Underway

In 2003, then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to eliminate drugs in his country. He didn't, but his police managed to eliminate 2,500 drug "suspects" by gunning them down without trial. Now that Thaksin has been overthrown, investigations into the mass killings are getting underway.

Racial Profiling: Kansas Police Agencies Honor Reporting Law Mostly in the Breach

Kansas passed a law in 2005 requiring law enforcement agencies to report on racial profiling complaints, but only about one-third of agencies are complying.

Law Enforcement: Illegal Search Kills Prosecution in Largest Heroin Bust in California History

It was the biggest heroin bust in California history, but thanks to overzealous law enforcement, the charges have now been dropped.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The charges pile up against a pair of former Virginia police chiefs, a Cleveland DEA agent has some explaining to do, and so does a Houston crime lab tech who didn't follow procedures and wouldn't take a drug test.

Canada: Health Canada Gives Okay to Sativex for Cancer Patients

Sativex, the THC-based sublingual spray, has been approved for use in cancer pain by Health Canada.

Feature: Is Addiction a Brain Disease? Biden Bill to Define It as Such is Moving on Capitol Hill

A bill that defines addiction as a brain disease is moving in Congress. Treatment professionals and recovery advocates laud it. There are skeptics too.

What's a gram of cocaine go for where you live?

Drug czar John Walters is making noise this week about how a decline in cocaine availability is ca

Who Should Be the Next Drug Czar?

We will have a new president in January 2009, and that means we will have a new cabinet as well, including a new head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP--the drug czar's office).

Feature: Colombia Annouces Shift to Manual Eradication of Coca Crops

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has announced that his government will deemphasize aerial spraying of coca crops and emphasize manual eradication. The move comes as Congress ponders ways to cut funding for the drug war in Colombia.

Feature: Snitching in the Spotlight -- House Committee Holds Hearing on Informant Abuses

When Atlanta narcotics officers shot and killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston last November after falsely telling a magistrate an informant had named her address as a drug hot-spot, they opened a window on a very shady part of the American criminal justice system. Now, Congress has taken a look and some key members are ready to rein in the snitch system.

Southwest Asia: State Department Says US Afghanistan Drug Policy Will Shift, But Not Much

A high-level State Department official said last week that the US will shift its opium eradication policy in Afghanistan, but there is less there than meets the eye.

Marijuana: Yesterday Marked 70 Years of Federal Pot Prohibition

This week, we mark the 70th anniversary of federal marijuana prohibition. We would much rather be writing its obituary.

Search and Seizure: California Supreme Court Just Says No to Seizures of Drug Buyers' Cars

For the last decade, some California cities have seized the vehicles of people caught trying to buy drugs. Those days have come to an end, thanks to a California Supreme Court decision.

Search and Seizure: Arizona Supreme Court Limits Vehicle Searches

The Arizona Supreme Court has limited the ability of police to search the vehicles of people they have arrested outside the vehicle.

Law Enforcement: FBI Lowers Bar on Past Marijuana Use by Would-Be Agents

Looking to be an FBI agent? The rules on disqualifying applicants based on past drug use, especially marijuana use, just got a little more lax.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week we have a pair from the US-Mexico border, where temptation is always close at hand, and a pair from Florida, where corruption seems to thrive in the steamy atmosphere.

Taking it to the Drug Warriors--Is It Time for Direct Action?

You know, a guy gets tired fighting for decades for the right to do something which should be our right anyway.

My Representative Explains Why She Voted Against Hinchey-Rohrabacher

Although I'm sitting in British Columbia this month and will be in Northern California next month, I am registered to vote in South Dakota.

Europe: Dutch Police Grumble About Home Grows

There is grumbling from Dutch police that policies toward marijuana growers -- both small-time and commercial -- are too lax.

Australia: National Green Party Abandons Drug Legalization Position

Nervous about upcoming national elections, the Australian Greens have retreated from their earlier stance in favor of regulated marijuana, and possibly, ecstasy sales. Now their drug policy platform leads off with a plank saying they oppose legalization.

Southeast Asia: Singapore Gives Treatment Option to Marijuana, Cocaine Users

If you get caught smoking marijuana or snorting cocaine in Singapore, be prepared for forced drug treatment and a long prison term. Authorities there announced this week they will begin applying the sanctions used against hard drug addicts to pot smokers and coke heads as of August 1.

Europe: British Cabinet Full of Former Marijuana Users

Last week, the British government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced it would revisit the issue of rescheduling marijuana back to a more serious drug schedule. Since then, a total of nine of Brown's cabinet members have admitted to smoking the weed.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Michigan narc is accused of making off with a whole bunch of blow, an Alabama juvenile probation officer is accused of snitching for the bad guys, a Massachusetts trooper takes a plea in pain pill ring, and a Missouri cop goes to prison for ripping off drug couriers.

First Amendment: Freaked Out Feds Indict Pair for Posting Flyers Naming Snitch

Do snitches have the right not to be named? A Philadelphia grand jury has indicted two people on witness intimidation charges for posting flyers outing an informant.

Memorial: San Francisco Drug War Activist Virginia Resner

Long-time San Francisco drug policy, medical marijuana, and human rights activist Virginia Resner died in her home town last week. She will be missed.

Criminal Justice: Green Party Leaders Call For Radical Reforms

While Republicans happily pursue their "tough on crime" politics of fear and Democrats can barely be bothered to vote to protect medical marijuana providers, the US Green Party is calling for radical reforms of the criminal justice system and "cancellation" of the drug war.

Feature: Minor Gains in Bid to Get Congress to Block Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Patients, Providers

The House of Representatives Wednesday defeated the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have barred the use of federal funds to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Supporters gained only two votes over last year, sparking discussion about what comes next.

Feature: DEA Raids Ten Los Angeles Dispensaries Same Day City Council Asks It To Butt Out

DEA agents raided 10 Los Angeles-area medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday, the same day the LA City Council sent it a letter asking it to butt out. The raids were met by angry protests and civil disobedience.

Medical Marijuana: DEA, ONDCP Take Flak on Dispensary Raids, Research Obstacles in House Committee Hearing

DEA and ONDCP functionaries got a grilling on medical marijuana issues at a House subcommittee hearing last week.

Feature: In Spreading Scandal Over White House Political Operations, House Panel Head Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Electioneering

Citing smoking-gun memos between White House political staffers and the drug czar's office, the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday accused the Bush administration of politicizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy. And they're deposing witnesses.

Feature: Pain Doctor and Patient Advocates Get a Congressional Hearing… Finally

For the first time in more than a decade, the DEA came under congressional scrutiny last week for its interference in the practice of medicine. Pain patient and doctor advocates got a chance to tell a congressional committee about the crisis in chronic pain and how the DEA gets in the way.

Europe: Britain to Review Marijuana's Classification, Could Be Moved Back to Tougher Drug Schedule

New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Tuesday that his government will seek a review of marijuana's status as a Class C drug -- with an eye toward moving it back to the more serious Class B.

Harm Reduction: Jersey City Signs Up for Needle Exchange

The Jersey City City Council voted Wednesday for an ordinance allowing the city to participate in a pilot needle exchange program. It's the fifth Garden State city to do so since Gov. Corzine signed a needle exchange bill in December.

Drug Use: One in 12 US Workers Uses Drugs, SAMHSA Says

One out of 12 full-time workers in the US reported using drugs within the past month, according to survey data released by SAMHSA.

Medical Marijuana: ONDCP Claims Steve Kubby Has Changed His Mind, Kubby Says No Way!

The drug czar's office told Congress that California medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby had changed his tune. Kubby begs to differ.

Marijuana: Drug Czar Calls Pot Growers Dangerous Terrorists

Drug czar John Walters suffered a severe bout of rhetorical excess last Thursday at a press conference in Northern California, claiming that marijuana growers are violent criminal terrorists who would not hesitate to help foreign terrorists enter the country and inflict mass casualties.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A New York City cop helps drug dealers rip off other drug dealers, a North Carolina cop builds a really impressive bad cop resume, a former North Carolina sheriff can't account for much of his evidence, and an Indiana cop gets a slap on the wrist for stealing from a drug suspect.

Southwest Asia: Afghan Poppy Crop Sets New Record, US Ambassador Says

The 2007 Afghan opium poppy crop has set another record, the US ambassador conceded this week. All the more reason to embark on forced eradication, he said.

When Oversight Means Oversight: Waxman Goes After Walters for Politicizing His Office

"Oversight" is a funny word. It has two meanings, one the opposite of the other. "Oversight" can mean watching over, supervising, or reviewing an action, a policy, or a process.

Criticism of Fumigation Grows in Colombia as Cocaine Trade Is Undiminished


Virginia Pain Doctor [Bill Hurwitz] Gets Nearly Five-Year Term


Judge Rules Canada's Pot Possession Laws Unconstitutional


Rudy Hates Pot Smokers (Especially Black and Brown Ones) More Than He Likes Effective Policing

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has gotten a lot of criticism this week for his comments rejecting medical marijuana and suggesting that its advocates are actually stalking horses for marijua

Drug Testing: Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Off-Duty Marijuana Use No Reason to Deny Workman's Comp Claim

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that merely because a worker admitted to smoking marijuana the night before he suffered a workplace injury was no reason to deny him workman's compensation.

Marijuana: California Superior Court Upholds Santa Barbara's "Lowest Enforcement Priority" Law

A California Superior Court judge has thrown out an effort by the city of Santa Barbara to undo the city's voter-mandated policy making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority.

The Drug Debate: American Mayors Urge "A New Bottom Line" and a Public Health Approach for Drug Policy

The US Conference of Mayors last month adopted a resolution calling the war on drugs a failure and urging "a new bottom line" on drug policy.

Medical Marijuana: Rudy Giuliani Just Says No

Republican presidential nomination contender Rudy Giuliani has rejected medical marijuana, claiming it is a a stalking horse for legalization.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The allure of Oxycontin (and its profits) snags two cops, a deputy can't keep his paws off the meth, and a South Carolina cop gets charged with drug dealing. Just another week in the drug war.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It," by Joseph Califano (2007, Public Affairs Press, 270 pp., $26.95 HB)

Joe Califano's "High Society" is a strange brew of legitimate concerns, hype, distortions, and what look to us to be misguided policy pronouncements. We review it this issue.

Feature: Medical Marijuana -- A Progress Report

Eleven years ago, no Americans had the protection of a state medical marijuana law. Now, some 50 million do, but that means some 250 million don't. While progress has been made, it has been slow, and there is plenty more to do.

Legalizing Pot Makes Sense


Home State Blues, or What's an Itinerant Activist To Do?

Your itinerant Drug War Chronicle has been bouncing around North America for the last few years, spending significant amounts of time in Washington state, British Columbia, Mexico, Northern California

Feature: Supreme Court Uses "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case to Limit Students' Speech Rights

In the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of schools to prohibit speech advocating illegal drug use, but has also held the schools may not bar speech advocating political positions.

Feature: UN Releases Annual Drug Report, Countries Mark International Day Against Drugs With Bonfires, Propaganda Exercises, Death Sentences

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Tuesday released its annual world drug report and marked the International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking. Both actions are drawing criticism.

Marijuana: No More Automatic Arrest for Possession in Texas

As of September 1, police in Texas will have the option of simply issuing a summons instead of arresting people caught with up to a quarter-pound of marijuana. Texas marijuana laws remain unchanged, but at least you might not go to jail.

Latin America: House Votes to Shift Andean Initiative Anti-Drug Funding to Development

The US House of Representatives last Friday voted to cut military anti-drug aid to Colombia and subject aerial spraying of coca crops to more restrictions. Now the measure heads for the Senate.

Incarceration: Jail and Prison Population at All-Time High (Again) -- Last Year Saw Biggest Increase Since 2000

The number of people behind bars reached another all-time high last year and it increased at the fastest rate since 2000. Drug prohibition contributes mightily.

Europe: Scottish Police Chief Says Time to Consider Prescribing Hard Drugs

A leading Scottish police chief says it is time to consider prescribing hard drugs to users in a bid to get a grip on acquisitive crime. Perhaps the Scottish new prime minister of Britain will lend an ear to the idea.

Let's Celebrate UN Anti-Drug Day...By Killing People

Yesterday was the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) annual International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Latin America: Mexico Purges Federal Police Chiefs in Drug Corruption Review

Mexico has purged its federal police chiefs in all 31 states and the Federal District to ensure police are fighting the drug traffic, not abetting it.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy. A Virginia police chief gets caught selling speed, a New Jersey State Trooper gets arrested for stealing and re-selling seized drugs, a New Jersey prison guard gets nailed trying to smuggle prescription drugs into the prison, a former Schenectady narc pleads guilty to ripping off cocaine from the evidence locker, a former Border Patrol agent is going to prison for stealing a bale of pot he was supposed to be guarding, and a corrupt Milwaukee cop wants back pay.

The Latest Imprisonment Numbers Are Out; No Surprises

The Bureau of Justice Statistics will tomorrow officially release its latest annual report on the number of prisoners in America.

High Court Bolsters Sentencing Guidelines


Plane Crash, Missing Person Search Hinder Pot Crop

Marijuana growing must be ubiquitous these days.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Puerto Rican narc gets caught robbing an armored car, a Mississippi cop gets nailed for selling and using speed, and a Toledo cop who liked to party too much cops a plea.

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