Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]


psmith's picture


Member for
17 years 25 weeks
View recent blog entries

Stories by psmith

Europe: British Junior Docs Call for Marijuana-Based Medicine Prescriptions

The British Medical Association Junior Members Forum has called for cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed by the National Health Service.

Salvia Divinorum: Vermont Town Gets Fight Over Sales Ban

Last week, the Middlebury, Vermont, town council blindsided the Emporium Tobacco and Gift Shop with a sudden order to cease and desist from selling salvia divinorum. Now, the shop owner is fighting back.

Latin America: More Trouble in Peru's Coca Fields

Tensions are rising in Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley coca fields, as government eradicators come under attack, growers go on strike, and the García government vows to take a hard line.

Peru's Garcia Seems Determined to Stoke Conflict With Coca Growers

Although the Peruvian government cut a deal with coca growers in San Martin state last month to end a strike, promising a temporary end to forced eradication of coca crops, it has since decided to res

Peru's Coca Farmers Start Indefinite Strike Against Government


Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More cops arrested, a dispatcher, too, and yet another prison guard goes to prison.

Feature: The War on Salvia Divinorum Heats Up

Efforts to ban salvia divinorum are spreading across the country. So far, it's illegal in five states and various towns and cities, and seven more states have bills pending this year. The DEA is looking at it, too.

Feature: Oregon's Messy Medical Marijuana Statehouse Politics

A plethora of bills affecting medical marijuana patients or the state medical marijuana program are active in the Oregon legislature this year -- in part because of a strong activist base, in part because of legislative foes.

Medical Marijuana: Bill to Make Rhode Island Law Permanent Passes House, Senate Committees

A bill that would make Rhode Island's medical marijuana permanent is headed for House and Senate floor votes. Unless it passes, the program will end June 30.

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Passes Senate Committee

The Minnesota medical marijuana bill continues to move through the legislature.

Asia: China Sets Up Drug User Data Bank

Sometimes being a dictatorship has its advantages, at least if you work for the police. China has created a data bank of drug users with more than three-quarters of a million names.

Marijuana: After Denver Votes to Legalize It, Cops Arrest Even More

When Denver residents voted to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in 2005, city officials vowed to ignore the will of the voters. Now, they are adding insult to injury.

Europe: French Anti-Globalist Activist and Presidential Candidate Says Legalize Marijuana

Anti-globalization activist and French presidential candidate José Bové is calling for the legalization of marijuana.

Medical Marijuana: California Begins Taxing Dispensaries

California's medical marijuana community is split over whether taxation will help to normalize the coops as accepted business or expose them to greater risk by creating a paper trail available to the feds.

Voting Rights: Florida Clemency Board Votes to Restore to Most Felons

Acting at the behest of Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, the state of Florida has moved to restore voting rights to most ex-felons.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations," by Peter Andreas and Ethan Nadelmann. (2006, Oxford University Press, 333 pp., $29.95 HB)

The war on drugs is one part of a web of international crime control regimes that have developed over centuries. But past definitions of crime and today's are not all the same.

Feature: Among Architects, a Prison Design Boycott Gains Steam

Architects are among those who profit from policies that lead to mass incarceration, but one professional grouping is leading a Prison Design Boycott Campaign.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Georgia fire captain gets caught peddling coke, a pair of New Haven narcs lose their jobs, a former Mississippi police chief cops a plea, and a former Ohio cop goes back to prison.

Information: NIDA Drug Library Closed Due to Budget Woes

The NIDA drug library has been closed for budget reasons. The historic collection of more than 12,000 journal volumes and 8,000 books will be dispersed.

The Presidency: Past Drug Use Would Disqualify Nominee for Only 19% of Americans, Poll Finds

Past drug use by a presidential candidate is close to the bottom of the list of concerns for voters, a Gallup poll has found.

Methamphetamine: Feds Make First Cold Medicine Bust Under Combat Meth Act

A New York state man has earned the dubious distinction of being the first person arrested under the federal Combat Meth Epidemic Act, which restricts access to cold medicines containing methamphetamine precursor chemicals.

Methamphetamine: Nevada Governor's Working Group Issues Preliminary Report

A Nevada governor's panel on methamphetamine is calling for more money for treatment, prevention, and policing, but lacks even a mention of harm reduction.

Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Becomes Twelfth State to Approve It

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Bill Richardson has made New Mexico the 12th medical marijuana state.

Harm Reduction: New Mexico Governor Signs Overdose Death Reduction Measure

With Gov. Bill Richardson's signature on the 911 Good Samaritan Act, New Mexico becomes the first state to provide limited immunity from prosecution to people who seek emergency medical treatment for overdose victims.

Peru's President Looking for Trouble in Coca Lands

Peruvian President Alan Garcia appears determined to spark an open confrontation with the county's hundreds of thousands of coca growers.

[New Mexico] Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill


Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Beat the Heat: How to Handle Encounters With Law Enforcement," by Katya Komisaruk (2003, AK Press, 192 pp., $16.00 PB)

We don't usually review books except when they're hot off the press, but we're making an exception with attorney Katya Komisaruk's "Beat the Heat." This is the best legal self defense book we've seen in some time and we think our readers need to know about it.

Feature: Drugs Should Be Classified According to Their Harms, British Experts Say -- And They're Not Now

A study by British drug experts calls for a science-based drug classification system based on the harm related to the use of each drug. It ranks drugs by harm, with alcohol and tobacco both ranked as more harmful than marijuana.

Marijuana: Cincinnati City Council Votes to Extend Tough Ordinance

Last year, the Cincinnati city council voted for an ordinance that would make marijuana possession a criminal offense, saying it would reduce violent crime. It hasn't, but the council this week voted to extend it anyway.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two cops get busted, a jail guard pleads guilty, a Border Patrol agent is found guilty, and a sheriff's deputy is sent to prison. Just your typical week of drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption.

Middle East: Marijuana Not Kosher for Passover, Says Green Leaf Party

Marijuana is not kosher for Passover, Israel's Green Leaf Party warned this week. Does that mean it is kosher the rest of the time?

Marijuana: Bob Barr to Lobby for Marijuana Policy Project

Former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr blocked the District of Columbia from enacting medical marijuana. That was then. Now, he has signed on as a lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Medical Marijuana: New Hampshire Bill Narrowly Defeated

A New Hampshire medical marijuana bill has been defeated in the House. Advocates are pointing to 2/3 public support and the closeness of the vote, and are promising to come back next year.

South America: Bolivia Moves to Block Coca Crop Expansion

The Bolivian government is moving to "rationalize" coca production in the Yungas region.

Law Enforcement: The Drug War Dominates Grand Jury Action in One Ohio County

Last week's grand jury action in one Ohio county opens a window on the impact of drug prohibition on the criminal justice system.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta Police Change Policies in Wake of Fatal Drug Raid

When 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was killed by Atlanta undercover narcs in a botched drug raid last November, community outrage was palpable. Now, the Atlanta police are changing some of their practices and procedures.

STATS is a resource you should know about.

I want to bring to your attention a great resource for debunking bad science posing as policy analysis.

The Candy Counter: Georgia Set to Ban Sales of Marijuana-Flavored Lollipops to Kids

The Georgia House has approved a bill that would ban the sale of marijuana-flavored candies to kids. If it passes the state Senate, the state would be the first in the nation to pass such a ban.

Feature: Prison Rape and the War on Drugs

According to a just released study, sexual assaults against prisoners are an endemic problem, not an isolated one, the drug war makes it worse, and drug war prisoners are among those most likely to be victimized.

Feature: Reefer Madness Strikes a Leading British Newspaper

A decade ago, the leading British newspaper the Independent on Sunday called for the decriminalization of marijuana. This week, citing the dangers of skunk weed and alleged links to mental illness, the paper reversed course.

Feature: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Free Speech Case Goes to the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court Monday heard oral arguments in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, pitting student free speech rights against schools' anti-drug policies.

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Approved By Second House Panel

A medical marijuana bill in Minnesota has passed another House committee.

Europe: Heroin Substitute Buprenorphine Now Available in Scotland

Scottish authorities have approved the use of buprenorphine for heroin addicts who don't respond to or can't tolerate methadone.

Europe: Clamor for Licit Medicinal Afghan Opium Grows Among British MPs

A group of 40 British Members of Parliament is calling on the Blair government to support a trial program that would divert Afghan opium from the black market to the licit medicinal market.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Just another week of drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption. An NYPD cop gets caught with a stash in her undies drawer, an Ohio cop has some bad hits, more prison guards get greedy, and a former St. Paul cop goes to prison.

More Reefer Madness in the UK Press

The current anti-cannabis crusade in the UK press is going hot and heavy.

The Independent on Sunday Reverses Itself on Decrim, Warns of Killer Skunk, Reefer Madness

A decade ago, the British newspaper the Independent on Sunday made headlines itself when it came out strongly for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Peru Suspends Coca Eradication in Key Area


Sentencing: Tyrone Brown is a Free Man!

Tyrone Brown is a free man! He walked out of prison in Texas Thursday after receiving a conditional pardon 17 years into a life sentence for violating probation by smoking pot.

Harm Reduction: Los Angeles County Okays Needle Exchange Program

The County of Los Angeles has approved a $500,000 needle exchange program in a bid to slow the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.

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.

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