psmith's picture


Member for
15 years 49 weeks
View recent blog entries

Stories by psmith

Medical Marijuana: Federal Appeals Court Rules Angel Raich Can Be Prosecuted, Even If Only Marijuana Keeps Her Alive

Even terminally ill medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal are not protected from federal prosecution, a federal appeals court has ruled in a case brought by Angel Raich.

Medical Marijuana: Federal Judge Dismisses Charges Against Ed Rosenthal

A federal judge has gutted a federal re-indictment of "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal on medical marijuana cultivation and related charges, citing "vindictive prosecution."

Feature: Trouble Hits in Peru This Week Over Coca Eradication

The Peruvian government's US-backed forced coca eradication campaign is running into serious problems in the Upper Huallaga Valley. Clashes with police, roadblocks, and a general strike have all broken out in the past few days.

Feature: Medical Marijuana Bill Passes New Mexico Legislature, Awaits Governor's Signature

Despite an apparent vote to kill it last week, the New Mexico legislature has now passed a medical marijuana bill. It awaits only the signature of Gov. Bill Richardson, a strong supporter, to become law.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Oregon parole officer, a former Wisconsin prosecutor, a Houston crime lab tech, and a pair of New Haven narcs have all crossed over to the dark side this week.

Australia: NSW Greens' Call to Decriminalize Drug Possession Causes Pre-Election Stir

With state elections just 10 days away in Australia's New South Wales, the Green Party's call to decriminalize drug possession is causing a stir.

Marijuana: Grassroots Protest in Small Town Wisconsin After Drug Bust

When home town police in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, busted a bunch of 20-somethings over small-time marijuana and pill sales, some local residents cheered. But in an example of grassroots activism, others took to the streets to protest.

Search and Seizure: Utah Supreme Court Holds Mere Odor of Marijuana Not Enough for a Warrantless Home Search

The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that the mere odor of burning marijuana is not sufficient justification for police to enter a residence without a search warrant.

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Approved by House Committee

With sister bills moving in both the state House and Senate, Minnesota could be on the way to becoming the 13th state to recognize medical marijuana.

Mark Kleiman gives drug reformers something to chew on

Mark Kleiman is one of a relatively small number of US academics who thinks and writes about drug policy.

Second Time Around, House Okays Medical Marijuana


Court Rules Against Dying Woman [Angel Raich] in Medical Marijuana Case


Drug Raids, Related Trauma, On the Rise


Gov. Perry Pardons Man's Life Sentence For Pot [Tyrone Brown]


Bitter, who's bitter? On the New Mexico medical marijuana vote.

The New Mexico House killed the medical marijuana bill there today on a vote of 36-33. The debate was filled with the usual bigotry, hypocrisy, and ignorance parading as expertise.

Southwest Asia: 2007 Afghan Opium Crop Could Be Record-Breaker, UN Predicts

The UN is warning that increases are happening in areas characterized by insurgency.

Europe: British Panel Calls for Complete Drug Law Overhaul

An expert panel in Britain has concluded a two-year study of drug policy there and is now calling for a radical rethinking and a complete overhaul of the drug laws.

Maryland: Drug Reform Efforts Picking Up in the Terrapin State

Medical marijuana, mandatory minimums, college aid and campus marijuana policies are all on the agenda in Maryland this year.

Feature: Medical Marijuana Goes Mainstream in the States

With nearly half the states having bills pending this year and some of them likely to pass, medical marijuana has gone mainstream.

Chronicle on the Scene Feature: In Peru, the Coca Growers' Movement Gathers Strength, But Faces Hurdles

Peru is currently the world's second largest producer of coca and cocaine, and the coca growers' movement there is gaining steam, but it still faces many hurdles, some internal, some external.

Europe: Candidate's Remarks Open Window on Scottish Labor Party Drug Policy Split

A Scottish Labor Party politician is taking his party to task for turning away from harm reduction policies in favor of a hard-line approach, and he says marijuana ought to be decriminalized, and maybe heroin and cocaine, too.

Marijuana: Wisconsin's Dane County (Madison) Will No Longer Prosecute Simple Possession

Prosecutors in Dane County (Madison), Wisconsin, will no longer bother to charge people with less than 25 grams of marijuana under state law. Now, at worst, offenders will face a fine. It's a matter of budgets and priorities, prosecutors say.

Europe: Dutch Left Greens Open Pro-Marijuana Web Site

Two Dutch Left Green politicians have opened a pro-marijuana web site. It is in part a guide to Dutch coffee shops, in part a parody of a ruling party anti-marijuana web site.

Latin America: Brazilian Governor Says Legalize Drugs to Fight Crime

The governor of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has called for a debate over drug legalization both within Brazil and internationally. He argues that it would reduce crime in his violence-plagued city and state.

Canada: Afghan Opium Should Be Bought Up and Marketed Worldwide, Defense Think Tank Says

A stolidly mainstream Canadian defense and foreign affairs think tank has called for the creation of a marketing board to buy and sell Afghan opium. It's part of a report on Canada in Afghanistan that calls for innovative thinking to avoid failure in NATO's mission there.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The "This Week's Corrupt Cops" feature may have been on hiatus while your editor was down South America way, but it's been pretty much business as usual. We're back now, and here's this week's edition with the usual cast of crooked cops and greedy guards.

Southwest Asia: Opium -- Not Just for Afghanistan Anymore?

Casting a wistful eye on Afghanistan's opium bounty, a Kyrgyz lawmaker made a (presumably tongue in cheek) suggestion that his country also allow poppy production. It would help pay off the foreign debt, and it would lead to an increase in foreign aid, he suggested.

Scientists Explore Medical Benefits of Cocaine Plant


Medical Marijuana: Flint Becomes Fifth Michigan City to Okay It

In a Tuesday election, voters in Flint, Michigan, approved the medical use of marijuana by a very comfortable margin.

Collision Course: Bolivia's "Coca, Si; Cocaine, No" Policy Runs Afoul of the International Drug Control Board and, Probably, the United States

With the release of its annual report this week, the International Narcotics Control Board has set its sights on Bolivia and that country's pro-coca policies. The US is also preparing to make a decision on whether to decertify Bolivia as not cooperating in American drug war goals. The Bolivians don't seem to care.

Chronicle on the Scene Feature: In the Bolivian Chapare, Evo Morales' "Coca, Si; Cocaine No" Policy Brings Peace, If Not Prosperity

The "coca, si; cocaine, no" policy of Bolivian President Evo Morales has brought peace to a region long riven by conflict and repression. But while coca farmers need no longer worry about violent conflict with the state, they are still having a hard time making enough money to survive. Plans are underway to do something about that.

Free Speech: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case Heading to Supreme Court Next Month, with Ken Starr Supporting One Side and SSDP Another

The court that not so long ago heard a case brought by Anna Nicole Smith will soon rule on whether students using the phrase "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" are entitled to 1st Amendment protection. The stakes are a lot more serious than the bizarre title may suggest.

Latin America: Killing of Salvadoran Politicians By Police in Guatemala Opens Window on Drug Corruption in Central America, Killing of Killers Closes It

Three Salvadoran politicians were brutally murdered by Guatemalan anti-drug police outside Guatemala City 10 days ago. Now, the police killers have themselves been killed in a brazen assassination while being held inside a nasty Guatemalan prison. Many questions are being raised, but dead men tell no tales.

many pictures from the Chapare...

US-funded FELCN (Special Force for the Struggle Against Narcotics) checkpoint between Cochabamba and Chapare, search being conducted for cocaine and precursors Site of major landslide produced by ma

Back from the Chapare

I'm now back from the coca producing region of the Chapare.

This way to the Coca Museum...

pictures from La Paz, Bolivia: Calle Linares pedestrian mall, with Coca Museum sign (Click the "read full post" link or the title link for more pictures if you don't already seen them.

Extreme Politics: Vermont Mayor Calls for Death Penalty for Hard Drug Dealers, Legalizing Marijuana

The mayor of Barre, Vermont, is fed up with drugs and drug policy, and his frustration is showing as he calls for both the legalization of marijuana and the death penalty for heroin and crack cocaine dealers.

Europe: Britain to Provide Heroin to Addicts, "Restricted" Home Office Brief Says

A hush-hush Home Office briefing paper says Britain should begin prescribing heroin to hard-core users, a major London newspaper reports. It could happen as soon as next fall.

Europe: Legendary Irish Broadcaster Says Country Should Debate Legalizing Drugs

Long-time Irish talk show Gay Byrne is famous for tackling taboo subjects in Ireland. Now he's retired, but that hasn't stopped him from speaking out in favor of one of the remaining taboo subjects: drug legalization.

In Bolivia and Ready to Head for the Chapare

After an arduous two-day trek by bus from Cusco, Peru, across the Altiplano and over Lake Titicaca by ferry, I'm now sitting in La Paz, Bolivia, which is truly a spectacular city.

Newsbrief: Colorado Town Backs Away from Tougher Marijuana Penalties

City councilmen in Lafayette, Colorado, have backed away from an ordinance that would have increased penalties for marijuana possession after a judge resigned in protest and a strong grassroots efforts by Colorado activists scorched them.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy," by Matthew Robinson and Renee Scherlen (2007, State University of New York Press, 268 pp., $27)

At one time or another, all of us have sputtered into our coffee cops over some outrageous claim made by the drug czar's office. Now, a pair of academics have systematically deconstructed those claims, and the results are highly illuminating.

Chronicle on the Scene Feature: Bolivia's "Coca, Yes, Cocaine No" Policy is Beginning to Work

Just a little over a year into his term, Bolivian President Evo Morales is engineering a "coca, yes; cocaine, no" policy that is reducing tension there and leading to cooperative eradication efforts with farmers. Will the US government go along with it?

Southwest Asia: Afghan Opium Eradication Effort Sparks New Violence

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is attempting to appease his Western backers by eradicating the country's opium crop, but violence is flaring as a result.

Europe: British Top Cop Calls for Prescription Heroin for Addicts

The head of Britain's association of police chiefs is calling for prescription heroin to be made available to hard-core addicts in a bid to reduce street crime.

Marijuana: Colorado Pot Advocate Ken Gorman Killed Saturday, Days After Local News Station Did "Exposé" On Him

Prominent Colorado marijuana advocate Ken Gorman was gunned down in his home Saturday night. It appears he was targeted by robbers who may have watched a local news exposé on his medical marijuana garden.

Bad Bills: Nevada Legislation Could Send Parents to Prison for 15 Years for a Single Plant

A Nevada state senator wants to make people who grow even a single marijuana plant in a home where children are present subject to a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Medical Marijuana: Supporters File Federal Lawsuit Against HHS, FDA

After enduring two years of stonewalling by the FDA and its mother agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, medical marijuana supporters are taking the agencies to federal court over their continuing claims that marijuana has no medicinal benefits.

In the Rain on the Shores of Lake Titicaca---This Is a Potential Problem

I´m in Puno, Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca in heavy downpour.

Coca at Machu Picchu--Who Knew?

Yesterday, I visited the world class Inca ruins at Machu Picchu.

On the Gringo Trail, Getting Whispered Solicitations, and Sipping Mate de Coca

I'm not sitting in Cusco, the old Inca capital, where the Spanish invaders built their churches and houses on the ruins of the Inca city.

What a trip it's been, and it's only the end of week one!

Since last I blogged, I've gone by overnight bus from Lima to the Andean highlands city of Ayacucho, thence over the top of the Andes and down into the Amazonian selva (actually, the "ceja de selva,"

Medical Marijuana: Study Finds It Can Help With Pain

The first study of the efficacy of treating pain with marijuana in at least 20 years has found significant benefits for HIV/AIDS patients.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Judge Says Let Professor Grow Marijuana for Research Purposes

A DEA administrative law judge has ruled that a University of Massachusetts professor should be able to grow marijuana for research purposes, but the battle is not yet over.

Chronicle on the Scene Feature: In Peru, Coca Growers Struggle to Survive

On the eastern slopes of the Andes, as the mountains edge down into the jungles of the Amazon, hundreds of thousands of Peruvian peasants are growing coca as a cash crop to survive. But they face considerable obstacles. Here is a first report from the region.

Canada: Vancouver Mayor Pushes Stimulant Maintenance Plan

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan wants to start a pilot stimulant maintenance program for up to 700 hard-core cocaine and meth users in the city's Downtown Eastside. Now he has released a poll showing strong support for the idea among Vancouver residents.

Latin America: Mexico Moves to Decriminalize Drug Possession -- So It Can Concentrate on Drug Traffickers

Mexico's ruling party is pushing through a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs for first time offenders and "addicts" -- but may really be designed to facilitate that country's drug war by allowing state authorities to get more involved in it and lengthen sentences for traffickers.

Hemp: Ron Paul Introduces Industrial Hemp Bill in US Congress

A Texas Republican has reintroduced his bill that would legalize hemp farming in the United States. This time, a Democratic Congress will consider the measure.

Marijuana: Colorado Judge Resigns to Protest City's Tough New Ordinance

A Colorado town wants to increase the penalties for simple marijuana possession, but a local judge's public stand has thrown the move into doubt.

First Pictures from Coca Land

Mana coca foods (and other foods) store

Off to Ayacucho and the Valleys of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers

Oh, my situation is fluid.

With Baldomero Caceres in Miraflores

I´ve spent the last few hours with Baldomeo Caceres, the Peruvian psychologist and coca expert, walking around central Lima and talking about the politics of coca.

Pot Prisoners Cost America $1 Billion A Year


In Lima, the Cocaine is Cheap, High Quality, and Easily Available

Well, that didn't take long.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta Narcs to Be Indicted for Murder by State -- Federal Investigation Could Be Hurt

The Fulton County DA plans to indict three Atlanta undercover narcs for murder in the death of 92-year-old Katherine Johnstone during a botched drug raid. But will his move thwart an ongoing federal investigation?

Feature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- 2008 US Federal Drug Control Budget

The Bush administration released its 2008 federal budget Monday, and when it comes to drug policy, it looks a lot like more of the same.

Feature: Arkansas Law Punishing Mothers Whose Newborns Test Positive for Drugs Accomplishes Little, Study Finds

As legislators in several states ponder legislation making drug use by pregnant women or the presence of drugs in the blood of their newborns a crime, an Arkansas report on that state's experience is sobering reading.

Atlanta Police Officers to Face Murder Indictment; Fulton DA Seeks Charges in Shooting of Elderly Woman in Her Home


Drug Use: Baby Boomers Most Likely to Have Shot Up

Who shoots drugs? Teenage black junkies? Middle-aged white guys? You might be surprised.

Bad Bills: Drug Tax Dies in Virginia Legislature

A bill that would have imposed a tax on illegal drugs and required possessors to obtain it within 48 hours has died a timely death in the Virginia legislature.

Hemp: North Dakota Issues First Licenses to Grow Industrial Hemp, but DEA Roadblock Remains

North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner signed the first two licenses for farmers to grow hemp on Monday, but they must still win approval from the DEA. Don't hold your breath.

The Drug War Chronicle Andean Coca Tour 2007 is about to get underway

Friday night, I will be bedding down in Peru, after a day-long flight from Sioux Falls to Denver to Houston to Lima.

7 slain in Mexico police stations. The two Acapulco attacks are carried out by gunmen dressed as soldiers. Authorities see a link to drug cartels.


Africa: Proposed Draconian Drug Law in Namibia Runs Into Intense Opposition

A proposed draconian new drug law in the southwestern African nation of Namibia is running into intense opposition at public hearings this week. Some people think 20 years in prison for possessing a joint is too much.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta NAACP Calls for Tight Restrictions on "No-Knock" Searches

In the wake of the killing of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a "no-knock" drug raid gone bad, the Atlanta NAACP is calling for tight restrictions on such raids, as well as other police reforms.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

What a cornucopia of corruption the drug war generates. Week in and week out, law enforcement officers fall prey to the temptation to share in prohibition-generated illicit drug profits. This week is no different.

[Rhode Island] Medical Marijuana Act Up for Inspection


Medical Marijuana: Bills Introduced in Minnesota, Moving in New Mexico

A medical marijuana bill has been introduced for the third year in a row in Minnesota, and for the third year in a row, New Mexico advocates hope to get the bill there over the top. They're off to a fast start.

Sentencing: No Relief for Louisiana's Heroin Lifers

Louisiana's "heroin lifers" got no relief from the state Supreme Court last week when it ruled a 2001 law cutting sentences did not apply retroactively. But they still have one more avenue of redress.

Feature: The Conviction That Keeps On Hurting -- Drug Offenders and Federal Benefits

For millions of drug offenders, punishment by the criminal justice is only the beginning. Drug offenders also lose access to a number of federal benefits thanks to laws a growing number of organizations are calling inhumane and counterproductive.

More on the Meth Conference

Southwest Asia: British Conservatives Call for Afghan Opium to Be Licensed, Converted to Pharmaceuticals, Not Destroyed

Britain's Conservative Party has joined the call to license Afghan opium. The move comes just days after the British Medical Association called for it to be converted into diamorphine (heroin) for use by the National Health Service.

Law Enforcement: Jacksonville Narcs Kill Two Men in Separate Incidents Eight Days Apart

Narcotics officers in Jacksonville, Florida, shot and killed two men in separate incidents during undercover drug operations in late January. Both men were black, neither was a drug dealer, and calls for an investigation are increasing.

Methamphetamine: Epidemic, What Epidemic? Meth Use Down, SAMHSA Says

Despite the meth mania rampant in the media and among law enforcement and politicians, official numbers show meth use levels stagnant in recent years and beginning to decline in 2005.

Second National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis Underway in Salt Lake City

The 2nd National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis got underway in Salt Lake City Thursday. Here's a report from the first day.

The Salt Lake Methamphetamine Conference Gets Underway

EDITOR'S NOTE: I tried to post this Friday morning from the Hilton in Salt Lake City, but due to some mysterious problem with the internets, it didn't get through. The

I'm hitting the road, heading for Salt Lake City

I'll pull out of South Dakota just after dawn, headed across the Northern Plains to Denver tonight, then over the high passes of the Rockies and on to Salt Lake City Wednesday night, so I can get up b

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, we have a prison guard busted for smuggling drugs OUT of a jail, along with more typical drug-smuggling guard cases, a teenage military policeman in trouble, a retirement age former cop busted, and another Nashville police officer found guilty of drug corruption charges.

My Letter to a Crime-Beat Reporter

I've been brooding about an article in the Gary (Indiana) Post-Tribune about a drug raid where a police SWAT team badly

This Judge Is An Idiot

At the end of a Michigan murder case in which the victim was a marijuana dealer gunned down during a home invasion robbery, the judge railed against the "urban myth" that marijuana is harmless.

Canada: Vancouver Mayor Calls for Large-Scale Methamphetamine, Cocaine Maintenance Trials

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has called for stimulant maintenance trials for more than 700 hard-core methamphetamine and cocaine users as part of a broad plan to improve the quality of life in the city before the 2010 Winter Olympics.

HEA: UC Berkeley Student Senate Approves Bill to Provide Scholarships for Students Denied Aid Because of Drug Convictions

The UC Berkeley student senate Wednesday night passed a measure that will provide $400 scholarships for students denied federal aid under the Higher Education Act's drug provision because they were convicted on drug charges.

Law Enforcement: SWAT Team Flash-Burn Grenade Assault Injures Drug Suspect

More SWAT team madness -- this time, Indiana cops doing a small-time drug raid manage to inflict serious burns on their man when they fired a flash-bang grenade into his home -- business as usual, according to their leader.

Feature: In Mexico, Now It's Calderon's Drug War

Mexico's new president, Felipe Calderon, has unleashed a vigorous attack on that country's powerful and violent drug cartels. Washington is happy, but Mexico analysts wonder if it's just another bit of poltical theater.

Feature: Drug Policy Reform Group to Partner with State of New Mexico in Federally-Funded Meth Prevention Education Program

In a first for a drug policy reform organization, the Drug Policy Alliance's New Mexico office has been selected to administer a $500,000 federal grant to develop comprehensive methamphetamine education and prevention strategies aimed at youth in the state.

Europe: Moscow Mayor Calls for Harsh Drug Laws Including Death Penalty

Moscow's mayor called for Russia to adopt harsh, Singapore-style drug policies in a speech to Russian narcs this week.

Europe: British Cannabis Confusion Continues as Policing Policies Evolve

Amidst confusion and uncertainty among police, politicians, and citizens alike, British police announced new arrest policies for marijuana possession this week. But a study just released says police are a big part of the problem.

Latin America: Mexican Narco-Saint On the Move

A Mexican folk saint who supposedly protects outlaws and drug traffickers as well as the poor and defenseless has a new shrine in Mexico City.

Medical Marijuana: Vermont Bill to Expand Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advances

A compromise version of a bill that would expand Vermont's two-year-old medical marijuana law has passed its first legislative hurdle.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Prison and jail guards gone bad! Evidence gone missing! Narcs gone to prison! Busy, busy, busy.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School