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


Announcement of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses Expected in Rhode Island

The Health Department is expected to announce today the selection of up to three applicants to open the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island. Health Department spokeswoman Annemarie Beardsworth did not offer a specific time today when the decision would be finalized and released to the public. The decision was originally set for a week ago, but the department said that it needed additional time to reach its decision. (Link to Story)

Drug Traffickers Greet New Ciudad Juárez Police Chief with Threat

Mexico's 4-year-plus drug prohibition war push doesn't appear to be making its cities any safer. The new police chief in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez received a threat on just his second day on the job. Two previous Ciudad Juárez police chiefs have quit since 2008 after drug trafficking organizations killed police officers and threatened to kill more unless they resigned. (Link to Story)

‘Shooting Galleries’ Take Aim at Illicit Drug Market

Lately, a few British politicians have revived the idea of dispensing taxpayer-funded heroin. Spurred by successful trials in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe, the idea that governments can reduce both addiction and street crime — and maybe bleed black markets dry — by managing drug distribution has gained momentum. "It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation," a British MP named Bob Ainsworth said at the end of last year. "We must take the trade away from organized criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists." (Link to Story)

U.K. Reggae Star Smiley Culture Dies During Drug Raid

British reggae musician Smiley Culture has died after a drug raid on his home. The incident at Culture’s home is currently being investigated by the U.K. Independent Police Complaints Commission, after having been reported by Scotland Yard. (Link to Story)

LSD Icon Owsley 'Bear' Stanley Dead at 76; Killed in Car Accident in Australia

Owsley "Bear" Stanley's long, strange trip has ended. The counterculture icon who was a major LSD producer in the 1960s and was celebrated in song by The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, has died in a car crash in Australia. (Link to Story)
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Publishers High on Marijuana Books

Former actresses are doing it. New York Times journalists are doing it. Screenwriters are doing it. Writing about marijuana, that is. With the changing legal times, and the jaw-dropping reality that pot has become a $35 billion legal industry in the U.S., the subject is drawing a motley crew of authors exploring everything from agriculture and big business to socioeconomic norms and the joys of toking. Agents say the surge in books about pot speaks to the fact that the subject matter is that rarest of things: serious and fun. (Link to Story)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Says It's Time to Decriminalize Minor Marijuana Use in Connecticut

Malloy decided a long time ago that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be treated as a criminal offense, and he wants Connecticut to join him. The Democratic governor's plan to reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a crime to an infraction that carries a fine is the subject of a public hearing Monday before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee. (Link to Story)

Australians Furious As Drug Prohibition War Targets Common Garden-Variety Plants

Australia's Attorney General has proposed to extend the list of prohibited plants to include varieties of acacia and cacti, commonly found in gardens. "This law would make it criminal offence for our staff to supply these plants and our customers to buy them," said Doron Francis of CERES Permaculture & Bushfood Nursery. National and Environmental technical policy manager Dr. Anthony Kachenko said nurseries, horticulturalists and other businesses would be wiped out by the government's "blanket approach" to tackling the drug trade. (Link to Story)

Florida Lawmakers Sponsor Bill to Make Medical Marijuana Legal

State lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in Florida. They're working together to pass a resolution that could go before voters in 2012. (Link to Story)

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Affects Texas Farmers

And the spillover continues: The bloody prohibition war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives has spread to the Lone Star state's agriculture, where drug traffickers are targeting farmers' livelihoods. Texas farmers and ranchers say confrontations with Mexican drug trafficking organizations are quietly adding up. Several growers and ranchers say their jobs started becoming more dangerous about two years ago. (Link to Story)

Spillover Violence from Mexico Drug Prohibition War - Why Do Leaders Deny It?

We've heard for some time now that drug prohibition violence from Ciudad Juárez is spilling over into El Paso. An indictment just released against Barrio Azteca gang members confirms it. So why are some law enforcement agencies and local leaders so reluctant to admit it? (Link to Story)

Bolivia President Evo Morales Attacks Drug Reports

Bolivian president Evo Morales has accused the United States and the United Nations of conspiring to defame his government in two drug reports. He said criticism over Bolivia's handling of the war on drugs were part of a strategy to falsely link his government to drug trafficking. Morales said the US was trying to force him to invite American anti-narcotics agents back into Bolivia. (Link to Story)

Is Hawaii One Step Closer to Legalizing Marijuana?

After a state Senate session, Hawaii is arguably five steps closer. The Senate voted to pass five medical marijuana-related bills on to the House. (Link to Story)

Delaware Valley School District Sued Over Drug Testing Policy

ACLU lawyers are fighting Delaware Valley School District's drug-testing policy in court on behalf of two students. The ACLU believes the district's policy violates a 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, Theodore vs. Delaware Valley School District. That decision required schools to justify suspicionless drug testing programs with evidence of a widespread drug problem among students, unless the school could show additional evidence that the group of students undergoing testing had a high rate of drug use. (Link to Story)

Portugal's Experiment with Drug Laws Is Paying Off (Opinion)

Daniel Akst, a columnist for Newsday, opines on the success of Portugal's comprehensive drug policy reforms. He concludes the American war on drugs is a costly failure on a larger scale than was Prohibition, with ramifications far beyond U.S. borders. He says we'll never eliminate drugs for the simple reason that too many people like them. But it's time to figure out a way to decriminalize narcotics, at the very least, even while firmly discouraging their use. (Link to Story)

Ron Paul: Hemp for Victory

Ron Paul supports the legalization of industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis that provides an eco-friendly source of fiber and protein. Paul is a perennial author of hemp legalization bills, the latest of which is being promoted in May during the second-annual Hemp History Week. In this interview Josh Harkinson partially spoke with Paul about the benefits of hemp. (Link to Story)

U.S. Allowed Smuggled Guns into Mexico in Secret Drug War Tactic

Mexico has made an official request for more information about a secret U.S. government operation to allow smugglers to take nearly 1,800 guns into Mexico in an effort to track them to drug trafficking organizations. The operation, code-named "Fast and Furious," was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), in spite of objections from its own agents. Assault weapons and high-powered sniper rifles were among the guns smuggled in to Mexico over a period of 15 months. Some of the 1,765 weapons have since been linked to crime -- including the murder of a U.S. border patrol agent in December. Fewer than 800 of the guns have been recovered. (Link to Story)

Derek Copp Sues Ottawa County Over Drug Raid Shooting at Grand Valley State University

A GVSU student shot in the chest by a deputy during a marijuana raid is suing the deputy who fired the shot. In March 2009, Derek Copp was living in an off-campus apartment he shared with a roommate, who was the target of a drug investigation. The federal lawsuit claims "gross negligence and willfull recklessness" in how the raid was conducted. Copp and his lawyers are asking a judge to make changes in how Ottawa County deputies use firearms and conduct searches. (Link to Story)

More Undercover Drug Cases Dropped Amid Growing SFPD Scandal

Eight more criminal cases were dropped by prosecutors in connection with a looming scandal involving an undercover police unit accused of conducting illegal drug raids and falsifying police reports. The cases in San Francisco Superior Court involved the same officers previously accused of entering residential hotel rooms without warrants or consent and then allegedly lying about their actions on police reports. One officer was accused of falsely arresting a man for drug possession. (Link to Story)

ACLU: DEA’s Politics Are Keeping Cannabis-Based Medicines Off Shelves

After a decade of waging a hard-fought battle with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which repeatedly denied his application for the production of medical marijuana, Dr. Lyle E. Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, said he would call it quits, resigning his fight in bitter defeat. The ACLU released its final brief on Craker's case, which calls on the DEA to grant research permits for the production of medical cannabis. They flatly state that cannabis medicines have not yet cleared the Food and Drug Administration because of the DEA's pernicious politics and tight monopoly on the granting of production licenses. (Link to Story)

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