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Southeast Asia: Reports Coming on Thailand's 2003 Drug War Killings

Four and a half years ago, then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to wipe out drug use in Thailand. Within three months, 2,500 people were dead. Now, a new government is about to release a series of reports on the killings.

Sentencing: US Prison Population Could Be Cut in Half With Four Humane Reforms, Including Drug Decriminalization, Report Says

A smarter and more humane approach to crime and imprisonment, including drug decriminalization, could save billions of dollars and greatly reduce the need to put millions of people behind bars, a new report says.

Canada: Federal Government Introduces Anti-Drug Legislation

Canada's Conservative government this week unveiled its repressive new approach to drugs. It wants mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, including marijuana growing, and it wants to double the maximum sentence for pot growing. Look for a battle royal in the West's most pot-friendly country.

Feature: On the Anniversary of Kathryn Johnston's Death, Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Use of SWAT-Style Tactics in Routine Drug Raids

A Zogby poll commissioned by (DRCNet) has found that nearly two-thirds of likely voters oppose SWAT-style raids to deal with routine drug offenders. The results are released as we mark the one-year anniversary of the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, the Atlanta woman gunned down by rogue police conducting a forced entry drug raid.

Feature: Higher Education Act Drug Conviction Penalty Repeal Stymied As Democrats Choke -- Again

The movement to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision hit a major roadblock last week when House Democrats reneged on pushing an amendment to undo it. But the provision's author, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), keeps scaling it back in self-defense.

Goodbye To a Drug Warrior; Australian Prime Minister John Howard Set to Lose Power in Saturday's Elections

The Australian Labor Party and its leader, Kevin Rudd, appear poised to drive drug warrior Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal/National Party coalition from office in elections coming this Satu

Medical Marijuana: Invited By "Pro-Family Group," Drug Czar's Chief Scientist Testifies at Tennessee House Hearing

A Tennessee medical marijuana bill saw a bunch of hostile witnesses, as the drug czar's office teamed up with the local religious right to try to nip it in the bud.

Death Penalty: Two More Executed for Drug Trafficking in Saudi Arabia

Two more drug offenders were executed last week in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is in a de facto contest with Iran, Indonesia, and Malaysia to see who is the world's leading killer of drug law violators.

Marijuana: A Week After Initiative Vote, Denver Bites the Bullet -- Sort Of

A week after Denver voters for the third time in as many years signaled that marijuana users should not be arrested, city officials are moving -- reluctantly -- to implement a lowest priority initiative.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Tennessee's narc of the year gets busted, and cops in Boston and Buffalo cop pleas.

Popular Culture: One-Third of Hit Songs Contain Drug Use References

Pop music is full of drug references, researchers have found, most of them positive. Stop the presses!

Marijuana: California Cops Destroy Pot Worth Twice As Much as State's Largest Legal Cash Crop, But Still Miss Vast Majority of It

Another harvest season has come and gone in California, and law enforcement is crowing about record marijuana plant seizures. The numbers are huge, but the numbers missed are bigger -- and so are the lost tax revenues.

Australia: Queensland to Increase Drug Penalties

The Australian state of Queensland is effectively increasing penalties for a number of drugs by rescheduling them as more dangerous.

Feature: Would-Be North Dakota Hemp Farmers Have Another Day in Court

North Dakota farmers who are suing the federal government for the right to grow hemp had another day in court Wednesday in Bismarck as federal prosecutors sought to get the case thrown out. A decision on that motion is expected by month's end.

Feature: Presidential Contenders and Drug Policy II -- Republicans

Last week, we looked at the Democratic presidential candidates' drug policy positions. This week, it's the Republicans' turn.

Full of It: Rep. Mark Souder Souder Gets Called on His Characterization of HEA Reform Supporters

Arch-drug warrior went a little too far when he called opponents of his pet financial aid drug convictions law a pack of drug legalizers. Now, he's being called on it.

Hemp On the Menu in Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismarck's Bistro restaurant is known for its fine, grass-fed North Dakota beef and fine wines, but the menu last night included a tasty garden salad with hemp oil dressing.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A New York cop goes down for peddling pot, a Connecticut cop goes down for slinging smack, and a Nashville cop goes to the pen for ripping off a drug dealer.

Death Penalty: Two More Drug Offenders Executed in Iran

Iran continues to execute drug offenders. Two more were hanged October 30.

Caribbean: Trinidad & Tobago Political Leader Calls For New Approach in Dealing with Marijuana

The leading of the main opposition party in Trinidad & Tobago called last week for a reassessment of marijuana prohibition. Too bad that after losing Monday's election, the party will have five years before it has another shot at power.

Europe: Dutch to Extend Medical Marijuana Program for Another Five Years

Holland's experimental medical marijuana program will be extended for another five years, mainly to allow for the development of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, the Dutch Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

Marijuana: Three of Four Reform Initiatives Pass in Hailey, Idaho

Three out of four marijuana reform initiatives -- medical marijuana, hemp, and lowest law enforcement priority -- won in small-town Hailey, Idaho, but a taxation and regulation initiative was narrowly defeated.

New Zealand: National Conversation on Marijuana Policy Urged

A leading New Zealand drug policy think tank is trying to jump-start a national conversation on marijuana policy, and it looks like it's working.

Harm Reduction: Anti-Safe Injection Site Amendment Killed in Conference Committee

Two weeks ago, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) managed to get an amendment passed barring federal funds from any city that opens a safe injection site. This week, thanks to the efforts of drug reformers, the measure was killed in conference committee.

Africa: NGOs Criticize Emphasis on Cutting Drug Supply, Urge Attention to Demand Reduction

With the West focusing new attention on West and Central Africa as drug transshipment points, NGOs meeting last weekend in Senegal said the effort was unbalanced, with little attention paid to demand reduction.

Feature: Presidential Contenders and Drug Policy I -- Democrats

A year out from the presidential election, Drug War Chronicle takes a look at the Democratic field. Next week, it's the Republicans' turn.

Feature: Denver Votes to Make Marijuana Offenses Lowest Law Enforcement Priority

For the third time in as many years, Denver voters have approved a marijuana reform measure. A lowest law enforcement priority initiative passed with 57% of the vote. Will city officials finally listen to the voters?

Families: Utah Supreme Court Rules Mere Presence of Drugs in Home is Not Child Endangerment

The mere presence of illegal drugs in a home is not enough to justify child endangerment charges against parents, the Utah Supreme Court has ruled.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A top narc admits he was dirty, a border drug squad deputy commander goes to prison, a deputy police chief is under investigation, and yes, another prison guard gets busted.

Southeast Asia: Drug Crackdowns Spread HIV/AIDS, Experts Say

Southeast Asian countries' tough line on drug users is exacerbating the HIV/AIDS crisis in the region, experts in Bangkok said last weekend.

Marijuana: Democratic Candidates Forgo Opportunity to Support Decriminalization During Tuesday Night Debate

When the Democratic presidential contenders had a chance to support marijuana decriminalization during Tuesday night's televised debate, only two out of seven did so.

Sentencing Reform: Massachusetts Bar Association Forms Drug Policy Task Force

The Massachusetts Bar Association has decided to form a drug policy task force with an eye toward sentencing reform in the Bay State.

Southeast Asia: Indonesia Constitutional Court Upholds Death Penalty For Drug Offenses

Executions for drug offenses will continue in Indonesia. The country's constitutional court upheld such punishments this week.

Harm Reduction: Measure to Bar Federal Funds for Cities With Safe Injection Sites Passes Senate

Congressional drug warriors have managed to pass an amendment that would bar federal funds for cities that establish safe injection sites. The measure is in conference committee and needs to be killed now.

Feature: Can Medical Marijuana Cost You Your Kid? In California, It Can

Ronnie Naulls thought he knew what to expect if the DEA came after his dispensary, but he never thought they'd try to take his kids. He's not the only California medical marijuana patient or provider with problems with child protective services or family courts, either.

Feature: New, Less Severe Federal Crack Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines Go Into Effect, But Will They Be Retroactive?

New, less harsh federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses went into effect this week, potentially affecting 4,000 federal cases a year. But will the US Sentencing Commission make those changes retroactive, bringing hope to nearly 20,000 currently imprisoned federal crack offenders? Stay tuned.

Latin America: Ecuador President Jerks Washington's Chain Over Manta Air Base

The lease on the US anti-drug air base at Manta, Ecuador, runs out in 2009. Ecuador's President Correa says no way he will renew it -- unless Washington lets him put a base in Miami.

Southwest Asia: Opium Accounts for Maybe Half of Taliban Funding, US Commander Says

Drug prohibition is proving to be a bonanza for the Taliban, according to the top US military commander in Afghanistan.

Law Enforcement: Karen Tandy Resigns As DEA Chief

Karen Tandy's four-year tenure as head of the DEA is coming to an end. She announced Monday she would resign to take a position with Motorola.

Marijuana: Florida Bill Would Toughen Penalties for Growing

Faced with a wave of indoor marijuana growing operations, Florida drug warrior Attorney General Bill McCullom and his law enforcement and legislative allies are fighting back with a bill proposing tougher penalties and new criminal offenses.

Sentencing: Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Equalize Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity By Raising Sentences

Marching boldly backward, the Ohio State Senate has voted to reduce the disparity in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine offenses by raising those penalties for powder -- not reducing those for crack.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, we have our mandatory greedy jail guards, and another case that's a little stickier. Are the people in our first story corrupt cops or desperate pain patients or junkies or pill peddlers or some combination of the above? You be the judge.

Feature: Bush Reveals Plan Mexico, Proposes $1.4 Billion Anti-Drug Aid Package

The Bush administration Tuesday officially asked Congress to fund a $1.4 billion anti-drug package for Mexico and Central America, but there are lots of questions and criticisms emerging.

Feature: San Francisco Ponders a Safe Injection Site, Would Be the Nation's First

Last week, San Francisco took the first tentative steps toward creating a safe injection site for drug users. It would be the first in the United States, but don't hold your breath -- there's a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome.

Death Penalty: Iran Executes Five More Drug Traders, Australian Faces Ultimate Sanction Over Half Ounce of Hash in Bali

The world's drug laws continue to create new victims for the executioner. In Iran, five more are hanged, while in Indonesia, prosecutors ask for the death penalty for an Australian over a few grams of hash and weed.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Sex and drugs! Sex and drugs! That's our law enforcement corruption theme this week as a gaggle of hormonally-challenged Southern cops let it all hang out above and beyond the call of duty.

Australia: Drugs Are "Evil," Says Prime Minister

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is trying to dumb down the debate over drugs with simplistic sloganeering this week.

Marijuana: Pot Politics On Display in Local Races in Cincinnati and New York State

Marijuana policy is an issue in some local races this year. This week, it popped up in the Cincinnati mayoral campaign and a New York county district attorney race.

Drugged Driving: Experts Say Marijuana DUI Limit Should Be Similar to Alcohol, Not Zero Tolerance

A team of leading researchers on marijuana and impaired driving are recommending that governments not adopt "zero tolerance" drugged driving laws. Such laws ensnare many drivers who are not actually impaired, they found.

Europe: Britain's North Wales Police Back Chief's Call for Drug Legalization

The North Wales police chief's call to legalize drugs is stirring controversy, but his own department has now signed on to his stand.

Law Enforcement: With Violent Crime on the Rise, New Orleans Police Are Arresting Thousands of Drug Offenders, Traffic Violators

With violent crime on the increase in New Orleans, police are busy arresting traffic scofflaws and drug offenders, and prosecutors are spending more than half their time prosecuting drug offenders. A local watchdog commission says that's dumb.

Harm Reduction: San Francisco Safe Injection Site Discussions Underway

Could San Francisco become the first American city to host a safe injection site? The obstacles are many, but discussions are getting under way.

NORML Does LA: The 2007 National Convention

The 2007 National NORML conference took place last weekend in Los Angeles. Here's a report from the scene.

Feature: Canada's New Drug Strategy: Mandatory Minimums In, Harm Reduction Out

Canada's ruling Conservative Party has unveiled a US-style drug strategy with mandatory minimums and without harm reduction. It's not getting a friendly reception.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, it's not individual cops, but entire drug squads gone bad, and, of course, the requisite drug-smuggling prison guard.

Prohibition: San Francisco Mayor Says Drug War an "Abject Failure," Sheriff Agrees

Mayor Gavin Newsom has criticized the nation's political leadership -- including his own party -- for continuing a drug war that causes crime and doesn't work.

Drug Treatment: GAO Study Reveals Abuse Allegations, Deaths at Residential Treatment Programs

A stint in teen boot camp can prove infinitely more deadly than the original problems they purport to address.

Tobacco: California City Becomes First to Ban Smoking In One's Own Home

The northern California town of Belmont has enacted a partial indoor smoking ban affecting people in multi-home dwellings.

Europe: Dutch to Ban Magic Mushroom Sales

Holland's ruling conservative government is trying to roll back tolerance policies.

Middle East: Lebanese Political Crisis Means Bumper Hash Crop

A Lebanese government paralyzed by political infighting and a Lebanese Army busy fighting with Islamic radicals have provided all the impetus necessary for farmers in the Bekaa Valley to return to their favorite cash crop.

Southeast Asia: Burmese Opium Production on the Rise

Poppy planting was up 29% the first half of this year, while opium production jumped by 46%, according to a new UN report.

Southwest Asia: US Turns Up the Pressure to Spray Poppy Fields, Afghan Government Resists -- So Far

US drug warriors have long wanted to unleash herbicidal sprays as a weapon to put a dent in Afghanistan's burgeoning opium poppy crop, but the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai -- along with a number of NATO allies -- has staunchly resisted American entreaties. In the wake of the country's record-breaking opium harvest this year, however, the Americans are turning up the pressure, but so far to no avail.

Europe: North Wales Top Cop Calls For Legalization, Regulation of Drugs

Another leading police official has called for an end to drug prohibition.

Europe: Dutch Marijuana Trade Under Pressure

Holland's cannabis coffee shops have been operating openly for more than 30 years, but now it looks like the slow squeeze is on.

Europe: New Agency Created to Battle Booming Cocaine Trade

Faced with a booming trans-Atlantic cocaine trade aimed at insatiable European markets, some European countries have formed an organization to coordinate efforts to block it.

Asia: Nine National Red Cross/Red Crescent Groups Endorse Humanitarian Drug Policies

The national Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations in nine Asian countries have joined a growing number of such groups that have signed onto a consensus statement calling for humanitarian drug policies.

Marijuana: Hawaii Supreme Court Rejects Religious Use Defense

A religious challenge to Hawaii's marijuana law was rejected by the state Supreme Court late last month.

Canada: Vancouver Safe Injection Site Granted Six-Month Extension, Again

Vancouver's safe injection site has won another six-month reprieve from the Canadian government, but supporters are getting tired of jumping through hoops.

Marijuana: Pot Prohibition Costs $41 Billion a Year in Enforcement Costs, Lost Tax Revenues, Study Finds

Marijuana prohibition costs governments in the US more than $10 billion a year in law enforcement and more than $30 billion a year in lost revenues, a new study finds.

Latin America: US Plans to Supersize Mexico Drug War Aid -- $1.4 Billion Package in Works

With the Pentagon sticking $1.4 billion in anti-drug aid for Mexico into its 2008 budget, Washington is preparing to radically ramp up its involvement in the drug war south of the border.

Feature: Supreme Court Weighs Arguments on Limits of Judicial Discretion in Sentencing

The Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments in a pair of cases that will further refine just what discretion federal judges have when it comes to sentencing outside the now advisory sentencing guidelines.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Scheming cops, greedy cops, rogue cops ripping off dealers, and, of course, yet another jail guard falls prey to temptation.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Addiction-Proof Your Child: A Realistic Approach to Preventing Drug, Alcohol, and Other Dependencies," by Stanton Peele (2007, Seven Rivers Press, 258 pp., $14.95 PB)

Dr. Stanton Peele has written an excellent, level-headed handbook for parents, educators, and anyone else worried about teen drug use. Read it now!

Feature: Israeli Police Will No Longer Arrest First-Time Drug Users

In a shift in policy, Israeli police have announced they will no longer arrest first-time drug possession offenders.

Marijuana: Four Initiatives Make November Ballot In Idaho Town

After a three year struggle with recalcitrant local officials, a dedicated and persistent activist has managed to get a package of marijuana initiatives on the ballot in a small Idaho town.

Marijuana: Decriminalization Initiative Effort Gets Underway in Joplin, Missouri

A marijuana decriminalization initiative effort got underway last Friday in Joplin, Missouri.

Latin America: Citing Human Rights Abuses, Mexican Official Calls for Pulling Army Out of Drug War

Citing cases of human rights violations by soldiers prosecuting Mexico's drug war, the country's top human rights official has called for an end to the military's role.

Europe: German States Want Heroin Maintenance for Addicts

German state governments are urging the federal government to extend a successful heroin maintenance pilot program across the country.

Australia: South Australia Wants to Ban Marijuana Grow Recipes, Equipment

The state government of South Australia is supporting a bill that would make possession of drug-making recipes or possession of "drug making equipment" (grow lights) without a good reason a serious crime.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops planting drugs, cops stealing drugs, cops stealing and doing drugs, cops stealing drugs and money--just another week of drug prohibition-related corruption.

Feature: Marijuana, Drug Arrests Hit All-Time High -- Again

The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report, and both marijuana and all drug arrests are at an all-time high -- again.

Drug Courts: New Jersey Supreme Court Broadens Eligibility

The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a ruling that will extend drug court eligibility to any nonviolent offender who is likely to receive a sentence of probation.

Medical Marijuana: Bryan Epis Re-Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison

The first California medical marijuana provider prosecuted by the feds was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison -- again -- but Bryan Epis remains a free man for now.

Latin America: Rio Cops Rounded Up in Drug Corruption Probe

For the second time in less than a year, dozens of Rio de Janeiro police have been arrested in a drug prohibition-related corruption sweep.

Drug Testing: ACLU Will Sue to Block Hawaii Teacher Testing

In return for a wage increase, a Hawaii teachers' union bargaining unit agreed to a program of random, suspicionless drug testing of teachers. Now, the ACLU will challenge the program in court.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Not just your usual weekly batch of law enforcement miscreants, although we do have the mandatory crooked jail guard or two.

Europe: European Parliament Committee Calls for Pilot Project on Medicinal Opium in Afghanistan

A committee of the European Parliament has called for a pilot project for diverting illicit Afghan opium to the licit medicinal market.

Feature: CAMP Makes Little Headway Against California Marijuana Growers

California's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has been eradicating pot plants for nearly a quarter-century. It's a losing battle.

Feature: Wisconsin Medical Marijuana Bill to Be Introduced

Ten years ago this week, Wisconsin medical marijuana patient Jacki Rickert led a 210-mile "Journey for Justice" to the state capitol in Madison. This week, she was back and being honored as two representatives announced they were introducing a medical marijuana bill with her name on it.

Pain Patients: Florida Prisoner Richard Paey is Pardoned

Florida pain patient Richard Paey won some justice Thursday when Gov. Charlie Crist went beyond his family's request for clemency and instead pardoned him in full. The wheelchair bound prisoner was three years into a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence as a drug trafficker for fraudulently trying to obtain pain pills. Now he is no longer even a convicted felon.

Certification: White House Says 20 Countries Are Major Drug Producing or Trafficking Nations, But Only Two Political Enemies Get Decertified

In its annual exercise in certifying the compliance of other countries with US drug policy objectives, the Bush administration this week listed 20 major producing or trafficking nations, but singled out only political foes Myanmar and Venezuela for decertification.

Death Penalty: Four More Drug Offenders Sentenced to Death in Vietnam, 17 Hung in Iran

Vietnam sentences more people to die for drug trafficking, while Iran hangs 17 for similar offenses.

Feature: Battlelines Forming Over 2008 Oregon Medical Marijuana Ballot Issues

Oregon's medical marijuana program is 10 years old and rolling along, but it looks like it will be contested terrain next year, with one initiative already filed to repeal it and others to expand it.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another week's worth of law enforcement officers done in by the temptations created by drug prohibition, including a sheriff headed for prison for turning a blind eye, a prosecutor whose coke habit got him in trouble, a greedy Boston cop, and a pair of pill-peddling policemen.

Death Penalty: Two More Drug Offenders Executed in Iran, Six Sentenced to Die in Vietnam

The resort to the death penalty for drug offenders continues in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, with two executed in Iran last week and six sentenced to death in Vietnam.

Drug Penalties: Tennessee Appeals Court Finds Drug Tax Unconstitutional

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has thrown out the state's illicit drug tax. The state will appeal, and plans to continue assessing the tax in the meanwhile.

Law Enforcement: Asset Forfeiture Funds Spent on Banquets, Balls, and Balloons in Atlanta

Georgia's Fulton County (Atlanta) district attorney has some odd ideas about how asset forfeiture funds should be spent, an audit of his books has found.

Prohibition: Terror Groups Profit From Drugs, DEA Says -- Missing Forest For Trees

A high-level DEA official has again linked the illegal drug trade to the funding of terrorist organizations, but failed to note the role of drug prohibition.

Latin America: Colombian Vice-President Says Aerial Eradication is Failing

The Colombian government has offered its strongest criticism yet of US-backed aerial spraying of coca crops, saying it has been a failure.

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