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Crime Lab Errors Prompt Review of Thousands of Drug Cases

An independent agency will review an estimated 4,000 drug cases in New York after officials from a medical examiner's office uncovered errors at a police crime lab. The possibility does exist, defense lawyers contended, that innocent people have been jailed in drug cases based on faulty evidence from the lab. Already, 16 defense motions seeking judicial reviews or reopening of drug cases have been filed, according to the DA. More are likely. "The credibility of the entire lab has been undermined," said Marc Gann, president of the Nassau County Bar Association. (Link to Story)

Why ER Docs Test for Illegal Drugs Without Consent

Dr. Zachary F. Meisel, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation clinical scholar and an emergency physician at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses issues related to emergency room doctors running tests for illicit drugs on patients without gaining their permission. (Link to Story)
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Mexico Risks Losing Large Areas to Prohibition's Drug Trafficking Organizations

Mexico is struggling to avert a collapse of law and order along its northern border in a region that generates a quarter of its economic output, with two states already facing the threat of criminal anarchy. Even after four years of dramatic military sweeps, drug trafficking organizations in Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are extending their control over large areas and the state governments seem powerless to stop them. Mass jail breaks, abandoned police stations, relentless killings and gangs openly running criminal rackets such as gasoline stolen from pipelines are the new reality in regions once at the forefront of Mexico's efforts to modernize and prosper under the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Link to Story)

Most Michiganders in Favor of Medical Marijuana Use, Poll Finds

Michigan voters support the state's medical marijuana law by nearly the same margin by which it was adopted in the 2008 election. The poll, conducted by Marketing Resource Group of Lansing, found that 61% of voters said they would vote yes again. Proposal 1 of 2008, legalizing the possession and use of marijuana for medical reasons, won with 62.6% of the vote. A spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project said the poll "proves that a strong majority of Michigan voters stand firmly behind the compassionate medical marijuana law they enacted two years ago." (Link to Story)

U.S. Agent Shot to Death in Mexico at Drug Trafficking Organization 'Narco-Blockade'

A U.S. immigration agent who was killed in a part of central Mexico increasingly under the influence of drug traffickers has been identified as Jaime J. Zapata. Zapata was shot to death and another special agent was wounded when they were apparently ambushed by gunmen at a fake roadblock. (Link to Story)

Obama Proposes 43 Percent Cut for Murtha's National Drug Intelligence Center

A project championed by the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) got the axe in the fiscal year 2012 budget proposed by President Barack Obama. The National Drug Intelligence Center is slated to receive 43.2 percent less money in 2012, going from a budget of $44 million to $25 million. (Link to Story)

California Medical Marijuana Industry Seeks to Operate "For Profit" ‎

In California, medical marijuana dispensaries are required by state law to operate as non-profit "collectives" of legal medical marijuana patients who simply cover the costs of distributing the plant or edible products made from it. In the aftermath of dozens of raids on dispensaries that were illegally profiting from the sale of marijuana over the last year, the medicinal marijuana industry is calling for new laws that would allow dispensaries to operate as for-profit enterprises. (Link to Story)

Mexican Drug Prohibition Gangsters Menace Natural Gas Drillers

Gunmen representing the Zetas drug trafficking organization have threatened to attack isolated natural gas well drillers unless they pay to operate in parts of northern Mexico. The threats are a new twist in Mexico's failed drug prohibition war, which is hitting businesses near the U.S.-Mexico border. (Link to Story)

Mexico Drug War Carnage: Nearly 40 Killed Over the Weekend

At least 37 people were killed in drug prohibition violence in Mexico over the weekend. The weekend surge, which hit the major cities of Guadalajara and Monterrey, indicates that violence is quickly spreading beyond the traditionally dangerous regions along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Link to Story)

Study: Welfare Drug Tests Not Cost Effective

A study conducted in Idaho concluded the cost of mandatory drug testing of public assistance recipients would exceed any savings from booting offenders from programs. Republican lawmakers demanded the study last March, saying their constituents considered it unfair that some Idahoans are drug-tested by their employers while those on public assistance are not. (Link to Story)

Bills Aim to Improve Drug Treatment, Cut Prison Costs Through Alternatives to Incarceration

After months of study, Kentucky's General Assembly will begin considering proposals next week aimed at reducing the state's soaring prison population and thereby curbing costs through such things as better drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration. Two identical 135-page bills were filed in the Senate and House, the work product of a task force that examined a wide range of corrections issues. (Link to Story)

Marijuana Arrests in New York City Skyrocket to 15 Percent of Total

More than 50,000 people were arrested last year in New York City for low-level marijuana offenses, according to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. Those 50,383 arrests represented 15 percent of all arrests by the New York Police Department. The 50,000-oplus figure is more marijuana arrests in one year than the number of similar arrests made by the New York Police Department over the entire period from 1978 to 1996, according to an analysis for the alliance done by Harry Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College. (Link to Story)

Drug War Anniversary a Time for Reflection and Action

This June will mark forty years since President Nixon declared a "war on drugs," identifying drug abuse as "public enemy No. 1." Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, opines that what's needed, indeed essential, are reflection -- and action. (Link to Story)

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Holds 12-Year-Old Girl Ransom in New Mexico

A Mexican drug trafficking organization kidnapped the 12-year-old daughter of a ranch foreman in New Mexico, holding the girl for ransom until her family and neighbors came up with $80,000 for her release. They didn’t dare call law enforcement for help because of very real fears their calls would be monitored by the kidnappers using sophisticated communications relay stations erected on U.S. public lands. "The drug smugglers use scanners, cell phones, GPS systems and other equipment that is better than anything Border Patrol or the local deputy sheriffs have. We could actually see them watching our Border Patrol agents from points on high ground," said Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from California while visiting hot spots along the New Mexico, Arizona and Texas border. This is yet another example of violence from Mexico's drug prohibition war crossing the border into the United States, and is interesting as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s keeps claiming there has been no "spillover violence". (Link to Story)

Converted Trailers Help Rural Residents Get Medical Marijuana

State-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries now outnumber Starbucks in Colorado. But outside Denver and Boulder, few doctors are comfortable dealing with medical marijuana. Now, residents in rural Colorado towns like Salida can see a doctor who are willing to recommend medical marijuana aboard two shiny aluminum vintage airstream trailers, which have been converted into mobile doctors' offices. The trailers criss-cross the state, providing exams for new patients and access to medical marijuana for those deemed eligible. (Link to Story)
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Canada: Grits Block Jail Time for Growing Marijuana

The Canadian government bill that would impose mandatory jail time for offenders caught growing a handful of marijuana plants appears doomed. The Liberals announced they will not support Bill S-10, which has already been passed by the Senate. (Link to Story)

Legalize Dagga and Other Drugs: South African Medical Journal

South Africans are still mulling over comments by the editor of the South African Medical Journal, who has called for government to look at legalizing certain drugs, such as dagga (marijuana) and cocaine. Editor JP van Niekerk says the high number of drug offenses that the country sees is proof that the country's prohibitionist war on drugs is ineffective, and authorities therefore should look at legalizing and regulating certain drugs. (Link to Story)

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Draw Guatemalan Army to Jungles Where It Fought Civil War

The once-fearsome Guatemalan army has returned to the jungles where it battled Marxist guerrillas a generation ago, this time to hunt shadowy Mexican drug traffickers fighting for control of strategic smuggling routes to the United States. The military operations are the clearest sign yet that as Mexico's wealthy drug trafficking organizations spread into Central America, wary but weak governments here are preparing to follow Mexican President Felipe Calderon's U.S.-backed decision to turn the armed forces against the traffickers. That prohibitionist strategy has failed to slow the violence in Mexico, which has left more than 34,000 dead in four years. (Link to Story)

Mexico Drug Prohibition War an 'Insurgency'? US Official's Gaffe Sparks US-Mexico Row

US Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal likened Mexico's drug war to an "insurgency" and suggested the US might need to send troops to Mexico and to prevent prohibition-created drug trafficking organizations from taking over the country. Mexico has condemned the remarks, which Westphal has retracted and apologized for, but they echo September comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also compared Mexico's drug prohibition threat to an "insurgency." President Obama immediately backed away from Mrs. Clinton's comparison then, just as Westphal immediately labeled his own words "inaccurate." (Link to Story)

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