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Montana Referendum Taking on Medical Marijuana Law Filed

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association filed legal papers with the secretary of state’s office Thursday to start a signature-gathering effort to let Montanans vote in 2012 on a soon-to-be medical marijuana law it opposes. The paperwork was delivered to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s office late Thursday. "We’re moving forward on all fronts," said Kate Cholewa, spokeswoman for the group. "The people want what they voted for and what the Legislature did is not it." (Link to Story)

New York Bill Would Reduce Charge for Marijuana Possession

In a rare show of bipartisanship and upstate-downstate agreement, freshman state Sen. Mark Grisanti is co-sponsoring a bill with Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries to reduce from a misdemeanor to a violation public possession of small amounts of marijuana. The co-sponsors say many people, especially minorities in New York City, end up getting arrested for small amounts if they are stopped by a police officer and told to empty their pockets -- at which point the possession becomes public. (Link to Story)

Medical Marijuana Legislation Gets Another Shot in Washington State

Washington medical marijuana advocates have been trying to pass a bill to allow marijuana dispensaries. Last month, Governor Chris Gregoire vetoed large parts of their bill. She said it would’ve put state workers in the position of violating federal law. Gregoire says she wants all the states that allow medical marijuana to petition the federal government to reclassify cannabis as a schedule II drug. She scheduled a conference call among those states Thursday. (Link to Story)

Border Region Lives in Fear Amid Mexico's Drug Prohibition War

Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon militarized his country's battle to continue drug prohibition in December 2006, more than 34,600 have died in prohibition violence. Along with the violence has grown a pervasive culture of corruption and fear. After the discovery of the most recent mass graves, 16 police officers were detained under suspicion of involvement. Despite the government's promises of security and increased aid, many remain unconvinced, and say that governmental control in the region is visible little, if at all. (Link to Story)

Progressive Chairman Peter B. Lewis Aims to Put Medical Marijuana on Ohio's 2012 Ballot

Peter B. Lewis -- the billionaire chairman of Progressive Corp. and well-known medical marijuana advocate -- is seeking proposals to run a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. The issue would go on the ballot in 2012. While Democratic lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to pass medical a marijuana law in Ohio, Lewis' latest inquiry represents a different tack. By going directly to voters through a ballot initiative, Lewis and his supporters could circumvent a GOP-controlled legislature and a Republican governor who likely would oppose such a law. (Link to Story)

1,400 Killed in Mexico Drug Prohibition War in April, New Record

Mexicans are paying a high cost for drug prohibition -- the death toll of its drug prohibition war in April was 1,400, the highest number of monthly killings since the campaign began in late 2006. The previous record of casualties was 1,322 killings in August 2010. Attorney General Arturo Chavez says more than 15,000 people died in 2010, making it the deadliest year ever. (Link to Story)

Mexico No Longer Has Free Press Thanks to Drug Prohibition

An annual report by an independent advocacy group said that Mexico can no longer be considered to have a free press due to drug prohibition violence. According to Freedom House, Mexico was listed aside countries from North Africa and the Middle East as "not free" due to attacks on journalists, self-censorship and a climate of fear that persists in the nation. Reporting on the drug prohibition war is a tough situation for Mexican journalists, with some media outlets setting coverage guidelines and others declaring a blackout on coverage. (Link to Story)

What the Drug War Has Wrought (Opinion)

John Sinclair opines on what drug prohibition has wrought. He says only the most nave, cynical or deluded among us can subscribe to the pervasive mythology of drug police, prosecutors and judges as fearless warriors valiantly fighting a depraved horde of heartless pushers and evil dope fiends whose anti-social pursuit of self-gratification by getting high threatens to destroy the American way of life and everything it stands for. (Link to Story)

Drugs Prohibition War Ignites Mexican Fury at U.S. Indifference

The United States has spent over $1 trillion promoting democracy in far-flung Iraq and Afghanistan while friendly neighbor Mexico gets a fraction of that in its prohibitionist fight against drug trafficking organizations. Mexico's frustration with Washington's priorities has plunged ties between the two allies to their lowest ebb in years. Last year alone, the U.S.-backed campaign claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in Mexico -- that is more than double the combined civilian deaths reported in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the United States has spent over $1.2 trillion in the past decade. (Link to Story)

As US Land Borders Tighten, Drug Smugglers Fly

Another lesson in the futility of drug prohibition: Drug smugglers are using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico. And in a new twist, the planes rarely touch the ground. Pilots simply pull levers that drop aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks. Within a few minutes, the pilots are back in Mexico. (Link to Story)

Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, Denver Attorney Give Their Take on Fed Pot Letter

Colorado Rep. Jared Polis and Denver attorney Robert Corry spoke out this week against federal scare tactics they said were being used to create uncertainty in Colorado’s medical marijuana community. "I hope the Justice Department will respect the laws passed by the voters of Colorado and the rules propagated by our General Assembly...The Department should follow the principles it outlined in the Ogden memo: that those who are in clear compliance with state laws will not be raided. Colorado has the most robust regulatory structure in the country and our dispensaries are clearly operating under state law," said Rep. Polis. Robert Corry added, "This campaign of fear on the part of the Obama Administration is reprehensible, even more so given our own Colorado Attorney General (former U.S. Attorney)'s apparent alliance with the Obama Administration against Colorado’s citizens...The U.S. government should begin with prosecuting itself, specifically the Food and Drug Administration. Since 1978, the FDA has distributed medical marijuana to patients through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program." (Link to Story)

Mexico's Drug Prohibition War: Shallow Graves, Deepening Alarm

The Economist reports on recent brutal killings and mass graves in Mexico. The killings undermine the government’s claim that drug prohibition war casualties are almost all criminals. (Link to Story)

Gov. Schweitzer: Medical Marijuana Overhaul Bill 'Unconstitutional'

Calling the newly passed bill overhauling the state's medical marijuana law "unconstitutional on its face," Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he wants to issue an amendatory veto to fix the parts he considers legally defective. Schweitzer criticized the House for tabling in committee House Bill 68 by Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, proposed by a bipartisan interim committee after much study and many hearings last year. "They threw that in the garbage and now they're going to send bring me this (SB)423, which everybody's whose read it says, 'Oh yeah, it's unconstitutional.' " (Link to Story)

Medical Marijuana Could Become Legal in Illinois

A stricter set of rules and a surprise political alliance are helping build momentum for a long-thwarted effort to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois. (Link to Story)

Hearing Set for Bill Legalizing Marijuana in Maine

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, supporters of legalized marijuana in Maine will crowd into a hearing room in Augusta to support a Portland legislator's bill to decriminalize pot. Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, sponsor of LD 1453, "An Act To Legalize and Tax Marijuana," said she was thrilled to learn about the hearing that has been scheduled before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. (Link to Story)

Mexico’s Congress Considers Changing Security Law In Attempt to Control Drug Prohibition Violence

With the current session of Mexico’s Congress scheduled to expire Friday, members of Mexico’s House of Deputies have less than a week to deliberate over extremely controversial changes to the country’s National Security Law that would give the President the power to deploy Mexico’s Armed Forces against broadly defined internal threats to Mexican national security. PT and Convergencia parties say that the 83-page initiative to change the law constitutes a threat to individual liberties and could create a state of exception in Mexico that would effectively put the country under military control. They remain deeply skeptical of proposed changes to the law, which advocate, among other things, the monitoring and recording of private communication for intelligence-gathering purposes. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch have drawn attention to frequent abuses by the Mexican military and contend that there is a widespread systemic failure to prosecute human rights violations in Mexican military courts. (Link to Story)

RI State Rep. Watson Presents His Version of Marijuana Related Arrest in CT

In a televised speech on the House floor about his arrest in Connecticut last Friday on driving-under-the-influence and marijuana-possession charges, House Minority Leader Robert A. Watson admitted to using marijuana to treat flare-ups of the pancreatitis that landed him in the hospital last November. Watson, R-East Greenwich, said he took a small amount of the drug with him when he went to Connecticut that day to help a friend move because he had had a pancreatic attack the day before, and wanted the drug handy if he had another severe one. (Link to Story)

Medical Marijuana Bill on Montana Legislature's Agenda

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says he hopes the Legislature gets the medical marijuana reform bill to him with enough time for him to make changes and send it back for their approval. He says when the bill gets to his desk, he's going to make sure legitimate patients still have the option to use cannabis. (Link to Story)

Mexico's Narco Blog: Drug Prohibition Deaths in Real Time

While much of Mexico's mainstream media, especially television stations and local newspapers, has shied away from covering killings and naming the drug trafficking organizations involved, a blog and its anonymous curator publish graphic details of spiraling prohibition violence. At Mexico's "blog del Narco" the images are gruesome and unedited: a dead man in a sports jersey with his face covered in dried red blood and grey sand; a woman hanging from a rope above a busy urban over-pass and naked bodies lined up on the ground displaying clear, uncensored, signs of torture. Some recent headlines from the site include: "Entire town taken hostage by Gunmen in Chihuahua"; "Eleven year old arrested in Acapulco with AK 47"; "Sinaloa cartel welcomes new police chief with tortured body"; and "Mass narco grave, 60 bodies found, total 148 corpses". (Link to Story)

Students Pursue Good Samaritan Drug Policy Shift

A new student group is campaigning for a Good Samaritan policy at Virginia Tech. Hokies for a Good Samaritan Policy wants to change the policy to protect people who call 911 when they or a friend are illegally using drugs or alcohol from disciplinary sanctions. "In these situations the clock is ticking," Mark Goldstein, an accounting and information systems major and president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said. "Every second you don’t call for help the person is closer to dying." (Link to Story)

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