Newswire

Proof of Insite's Value in the Numbers, Fatal Overdoses in Vancouver Have Been Reduced 35 Percent

With a Supreme Court of Canada case looming this summer that could decide its future, Vancouver's safe-injection drug site has received an extra shot in the arm from a new report that says it has helped reduce the number of fatal overdoses in the city by 35 per cent. The report, compiled by Canadian scientists from the Urban Health Research Initiative, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and St. Paul's Hospital, goes on to argue that Vancouver's Insite - the country's first safe-injection facility - should be replicated in other North American cities where drug use is a common problem. (Link to Story)

ACLU Urges Washington State Senators to Move Medical Marijuana Bill

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is urging state senators to ignore Gov. Chris Gregoire's threat to veto a bill that would set up a regulated medical marijuana dispensary system. The House and Senate have passed legislation to license dispensaries. After a warning from federal prosecutors of arrest liability for employees who break federal law, Gregoire said she'd veto legislation that requires state workers to implement a licensing system. (Link to Story)

Gov. Schweitzer Vetoes Repeal of Montana's Medical Marijuana Law

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has vetoed a Republican bill that would have repealed the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law. Schweitzer vetoed the bill along with several others he called "frivolous, unconstitutional or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana." Voters in 2004 overwhelmingly approved the use of medical marijuana. (Link to Story)

Mexico, Just Say No to America's Prohibitionist War on Drugs (Opinion)

Gwynne Dyer, an independent journalist based in London, opines on the state of Mexico's drug prohibition war against the backdrop of a remarkable event that occurred in Mexico last week. Tens of thousands of Mexicans gathered in the main squares of cities across the country to demand an end to the "war on drugs". In the Zocalo, in the heart of Mexico City, they chanted "no more blood" and many called for the resignation of President Felipe Calderon, who began the war by using the army against the drug trafficking organizations in late 2006. (Link to Story)

Mexican Mass Grave Complex Reveals 88 Bodies

At least 88 bodies have been found in a complex of mass graves in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, security officials say, likely victims of the country's ongoing drug prohibition war. The graves are the largest concentration ever found in one area in Mexico. (Link to Story)

Drug Trafficking Organizations Seek to Exploit Corrupt Federal Agents

As the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau has ratcheted up efforts to cope with the tide of crime sweeping across the Southwest border, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have stepped up efforts to infiltrate CBP and other federal, state and local agencies responsible for policing the border. (Link to Story)

Poll: Nearly 75% of California Voters Want Possession of Small Amount of Illegal Drugs to Be Misdemeanor, Not Felony

A Lake Research Partners poll found that almost 75% of California voters likely to cast ballots in 2012 believe the crime should be downgraded to a misdemeanor. And 40% went even further, saying they think it should be dropped to an infraction, which is the equivalent of a speeding ticket and carries no prison time. (Link to Story)
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U.S. Pot Insurance Has Canadian Growers Green with Envy

The growing medicinal marijuana business in the United States despite the drug’s illegal status has many insurance firms seeing green — as in money. But north of the 49th, where there is no federal prohibition on medicinal pot, legal growers are green with envy because it’s next to impossible to get insurance coverage in Canada. (Link to Story)

The Midwest Proves Fertile Ground for Marijuana Reform

Republican hardliners in Midwestern state governments have largely stalled efforts to modify marijuana laws there this year. But after more than a decade of pressure from grassroots activists, the region is beginning to show some change. The most dramatic advances have come in Michigan, where voters legalized medical marijuana in a 2008 referendum, and in Kentucky, which in early March reduced the maximum penalty for possession of less than half a pound from a year in prison to 45 days. (Link to Story)

DC's Medical Marijuana Program to Get Off Ground on April 15

After months of delay, Washington, DC Mayor Vince Gray announced that the rules and regulations governing the District's medical marijuana program will go into effect on Friday, April 15 when they're published in the D.C. Register. The news comes as advocates of the program started complaining loudly about delays in its implementation, which dates back almost a year. (Link to Story)

Is DARE Program Worth It?

While participants remain enthusiastic, scientific reviews have been negative on the effectiveness of the DARE program, which started in Los Angeles in 1983. A 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that those who participate in DARE are just as likely to use drugs as those who don’t. Khadija K. Swims, of Grand Valley State University, reviewed several studies on DARE and concluded the program is "ineffective" in preventing future drug, alcohol and tobacco use in adolescents. The results of such studies mean schools can’t spend federal money on DARE. Under rules that went into effect in 1998, the Department of Education requires agencies that receive federal money to prove within two years that their programs reduce drug use among students. (Link to Story)

Delaware Senate to Vote on Comprehensive Revision of State's Criminal Drug Laws

The state Senate is poised to vote on a sweeping revision of Delaware's criminal drug laws. The bill is supported by police, prosecutors and defense attorneys. The House passed it earlier this month with one dissenting vote. (Link to Story)

Florida Political Action Committee Protests Gov. Rick Scott's New Drug Testing Policy by Sending Him Urine

Last month, Gov. Scott signed an executive order allowing random drug testing of state employees and a bill is currently working its way through Florida's legislature that would require welfare and food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing. The Committee for the Positive Insistence on a Sane Society, or PISS, is calling the smelly "gift" a peaceful protest. "In one breath our CEO professes to be focusing on cutting wasteful government spending and laying off tens of thousands of state employees, while at the same time he announces a program to drug test state employees without any legitimate basis for such an invasion of privacy," a PISS press release stated. (Link to Story)

Vermont Considers Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana has been legal in Vermont since 2004, for those with qualifying illnesses — including cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis — who sign up for the state’s registry. The 2004 law allows patients to grow their own marijuana, but advocates say many find that a daunting task, leaving them with the prospect of making illegal deals for street dope. The answer, advocates say, is to legalize a small number of medical marijuana dispensaries — nonprofit operations that would grow marijuana and sell it to those on the medical marijuana registry. (Link to Story)

Venezuelan Drug Trafficker, Walid Makled, Says Chávez Government Officials Tied to Cocaine Trade

Walid Makled says he had top Venezuelan generals and government officials on his payroll. He says that five or six plane-loads of cocaine take off everyday from San Fernandeo de Apure, in south-western Venezuela, bound for the US, via Honduras and Mexico. "It’s an everyday thing. Not every other day, it’s every day. Between FARC and the Venezuelan Army, we’re talking about four or five planes leaving Apure every day." (Link to Story)

Thousands Missing in Drug Prohibition War Says CNDH

Mexico’s human rights commission, CNDH, said 5,397 people have been reported missing since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug trafficking organizations. Many cases of forced disappearances have allegedly been carried out by Mexican soldiers. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has urged the Mexican government to stop using the army in drug prohibition war operations. (Link to Story)

North Carolina Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Lawmakers are introducing the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act to legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill would allow people with conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C to buy and use medical marijuana. Sponsors believe legalizing medical marijuana would bring $250 million a year into North Carolina within four years of legalization. (Link to Story)

Medical Marijuana Users Fight for Gun Rights

Cynthia Willis is part of what is considered the first major court case in the country to consider whether guns and medical marijuana can legally mix. When it's over, the diminutive 54-year-old plans to still be eating marijuana cookies to deal with her arthritis pain and muscle spasms, and carrying her pistol. (Link to Story)

Alabama Tax on Illegal Drugs Goes from Weapon to ‘Headache’

Alabama’s illegal drug tax dates back to the late 1980s, when state governments were looking for new ways to crack down on the drug trade. In 1998, according to state documents, Alabama collected $161,947 in taxes on illegal drugs. In 2010, collections were just $1,275. Charles Crumbley, director of the Investigations Division at the State Department of Revenue, said, "Enforcing it was just more trouble than it was worth." (Link to Story)

Maras and Zetas: An Alliance from Hell

Reports of the Zetas and Maras drug trafficking organizations doing drug deals together or assassinating mutual enemies have been floating around for several years. But human rights workers and police in southern Mexico and Guatemala say they have now formed a more concrete alliance, in which they work together on kidnappings and acts of intimidation and terror. (Link to Story)

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