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

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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.

Ghosts of Prohibition: Women's Christian Temperance Union Holds Indianapolis Convention

The Women's Christian Temperance Union lives -- barely -- and is meeting this week in Indianapolis to continue the battle against demon run and its contemporary counterparts.

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.

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