Saturday, July 31, 2004

This is what Democracy looks like

Those Department of Justice publications on forfeiture that the Government Printing Office had ordered destroyed (at the behest of the DOJ) will remain in the public domain.

The Justice Department's decision to order the pamphlets destroyed drew criticism from Patrice McDermott, deputy director of governmental affairs for the American Library Association, and Bernard A. Margolis, president of the Boston Public Library, one of the libraries ordered to destroy the pamphlets.

"I'm thrilled," he said. "I think our concerns have been heard that when material is placed in the depository system for access by citizens that it should stay there."

And so it should. This is the power of the internet. I first saw this story rumbling through the discussion lists but by the next morning, the mainstream media had picked it up and put this directive under the spotlight. It couldn't survive the heat of public scrutiny and the order is now rescinded.

I do so love a happy ending.

Friday, July 30, 2004

More dumb pot busts

Here's one more of these ridiculous busts. A bigger one at one hundred plants, but again busted by expensive helicopter flyovers and look at them. The photo is of the actual plants. They are claiming there's a potential for one pound per plant but those are barely beginning to flower and they look like they haven't even been sexed out yet. The male plants are useless and it takes until they get about that big to figure out which ones are males. Usually that's about half the plants. Those would all be culled in the first place and those skinny female plants are not going to yield a pound of buds each. That is the best you can hope to get under optimal conditions. It just doesn't happen most of the time. No way that field is worth $200,000 but again I wouldn't be surprised if the cost of the law enforcement side of this bust doesn't approach at least half of that.

And don't get me started on DNA testing the cannabis to hold in a bank for some future "conspiracy to spread cannabis around the world" charge. It takes weeks and months for the courts to get DNA results on humans in murder cases and they want to tie up the labs with this penny-ante stuff? It's time for our government to get their priorities straight and going around tearing up beneficial flora should not even be on the list.

How does your garden grow

We're posting about this little bust because it's close to home and it illustrates once again how law enforcement overstates the value of the plants. The 26 plants found in Agawam are not going to be worth $50,000 even if they had all been mature. My guess is since they were so tall they're a Hawaiian sativa strain which is unlikely to even flower properly in the cold summer we had here but even supposing they did bloom, you still don't get that much useable or I should say saleable cannabis from a plant. You can only sell the flower tops. They would be lucky to get a couple of ounces out of that patch. Furthermore, chances are they were just growing it for their own consumption. That small a plot would not be worth the effort nor the risk to an actual dealer.

Let me say this again, the cost of the helicopters, the police hours and the future court appearances will run over $50,000 or more of your tax dollars, all to bust what in practical terms would probably be worth, at the very most, if all the plants had matured, about $2,000.00. More likely it was worth about 600 bucks. Not to mention that two otherwise law-abiding people will not be contributing to the municipal tax base because they will either lose their jobs or at least have to take a lot of time off to defend against this penny-ante bust.

The only criminal here is the criminal waste of your tax dollars spent waging war against a plant.
Afghanistan opium production continues to grow

High quality heroin is flooding the streets of London and an announcement by a British parliamentary committee is said to be pending. It will come as no surprise to our readers that they will announce the major source country of this drug, Afghanistan, has returned to near-record levels of opium harvesting. The committee points out:

The Taliban had cracked down on poppy growers, but the regime's fall led to an increase in production and this year's harvest will be the largest since the October 2001 invasion.

The evidence mounts that large areas of Afghanistan returned to the control of warlords, who command militias of up to 10,000 men, which are paid for by the profits of the illegal heroin trade. The pundits predict this will bode ill for Tony Blair, "as he cited the supply of heroin as one of the justifications for the invasion, in addition to removing the Taliban regime and rooting out al-Qaida training camps run by Osama bin Laden."

Here in the US, Bush and his minions continue to insist in the face of these facts to the contrary that life is better for the Afghanis since we "liberated" them. One wonders if the indigenous residents of the country think they are better off with their entire infrastructure blasted to smithereens by a liberating force that immediately left them virtually alone to deal with the rampant violence of warlords fighting for territory.

The situation is so bad, in a rare move, Doctors Without Borders pulled their people out of the country this week.

Officials from the international aid group said the decision is a response to the killing in June of five staff members, the danger of further attacks, and its frustration with both the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government.

The impoverished natives unfortunately don't have that option and must continue to live under these abysmal conditions. Is it any wonder they protect the al-Qaida rather than throw their lot in with the few remaining US forces?

[Hat tip to Ben Masel]

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ricky Williams comes out for pot

NFL star Ricky Williams has come forward to admit he is a cannabis consumer and that a third failed drug test was a greater factor in his decision to quit football after only five seasons than he had initially admitted. One can't really blame him for wanting to leave an employer that would dictate his private behavior.

Cannabis is not a chemical performance enhancing drug, it's a plant used in an unadulterated form as a relaxant and a pain reliever. Williams is said to have used the herb to help overcome his anxiety disorder because the pharmaceutical drug he was prescribed did not agree with him. As someone who used this plant to overcome the same malady, I can attest to its effectiveness. I was a painfully shy child and twenty five years ago, marijuana helped me overcome that disorder.

I see these headlines from sports writers calling him selfish and saying he has a "pot problem". I'm not often moved to this kind of language, but to that I say, screw you. Ricky has no obligation to surrender his personal sovereignty to give you guys something to talk about and what makes his pot use such a problem? That he was too good a player?

[He] led the NFL in 2002 with 1,853 yards rushing and broke nine team records. Last season he ran for 1,372 yards despite little offensive support.

Williams only problem with cannabis use that I can see is that our government would like to put him in prison for it and the NFL would continue to penalize him for using a natural medicine instead of a chemical like Paxil, for which he was a former spokesman.
More stupid Task Force tricks

Well it does look a little like a cannabis plant but get real, who would grow it in their front yard if it was? Apparently the Harris County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force didn't make that connection and instead burst into the home of landscape contractor Blair Davis, with guns drawn, and shouting at him to get down on the floor.

It took Blair a while to figure out that they were there because of the potted star hibiscus in his front yard, that he grows for his business. It took the Task Force over an hour to admit they had made a dumb mistake. In the interim they scoured Davis' home, questioned him about the bamboo growing in his window and demanded to know what he intended to do with the watermelons and cantaloupes growing in his back yard. What did they think he was going to do with them? Put them up for adoption? The police finally gave up and left, leaving Davis only a "citizen's information card" with "closed-report" written on it. You think they could have at least apologized for their ridiculous mistake.

It's this kind of incompetency that underscores the need to disband these Task Forces. From the corruption at Tulia to the idiocy in this raid, it's clear that these people number one, do not have enough to do and number two, are wasting our tax dollars while having no effect on the black market for drugs.

Furthermore, it endangers the public safety. This is how innocent people get killed in the war on some drugs and consumers. A person who is not involved in drugs would either be inclined to protect themselves from a group of armed thugs invading their homes or in the case of the elderly victims of these botched raids, have heart attacks from the terror of having strangers with guns ordering them on the floor.

Can't keep a good store down

The Hemp NB store and Cannabis Cafe in Saint John, New Brunswick, was raided April 24, 2004 and virtually everything on the premises was seized by law enforcement authorities right down to their stamp pad and garbage. Undaunted, Jim and Lynn Wood reopened the next day in defiance of the police.

The store is apparently still open but is struggling and could use public support to stay open and continue serving its needy patients. Please send them a donation, or even an encouraging email. Contact Hemp NB: tel 506-652-4367; email

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Follow the time line

Jeff Doolittle hosts this week's Carnival of the Vanities #97 using a fun timeline theme where everybody got to pick their own categories. All the events listed had occurred on July 28th in different years. Since I was submitting a post about a football player, I was tempted to go for the Crusades but I thought the connection would be too esoteric so I went with the Star Spangled banner instead. They still sing that before all sports events don't they?

As always there's something for everyone in the posts. And Doolittle's blog is a good read in and of itself, even though he's so technosmart that he'll make you feel a little dumb if you're technodope like me.

By the numbers

A couple of quick items this morning. Arrests for cannabis possession have dropped by a third since the government reclassified the drug. Law enforcement insiders estimate that means that UK police have an extra 200,000 hours to spend on serious crimes. Of course that does not mean that cannabis use has dropped by that much. In fact reports indicate cannabis use is about the same, the resources are simply being diverted from harassing non-violent cannabis consumers to actually protecting the public safety.

Meanwhile, our favorite political candidate in the US, Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion has completed a series of campaign commercials relative to his candidacy for Congressman. Ed's spent five months in jail in his attempt to get these ads aired on Comcast. The least you can do is check them out and if you live in his district, get to the polls on election day and vote for the

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Under the Big Top

I keep getting more fond of this group. I sent my Carnival submission in to Jeff Doolittle tonight and wandered through the links to find that Seldom Sober is actually pretty lucid, that Da Goddess had posted an amazing photo series on spiderwebs and that we all love the Newsfeed site that Matt started.

Check it out for yourself.
Ricky Williams "free at last"

The only sport I really care about is baseball. I don't follow football much at all so I didn't know who Ricky Williams was when I got the phone call, but I loved that someone in my family would think to alert me that he was on television talking about his cannabis consumption and saying that 75% of the NFL were also consumers. Williams was making the point that all these players smoking herb are still really good at their job. He also said his recently failed drug test was a factor in his decision to retire and mentioned the players beat their drug tests by taking a special drink.

It's all so ridiculous. Think about it. If they invented a test that no one could beat and 75% of the players tested positive for marijuana, would you stop watching the sport? Would you think less of them. They would be the same people you admired the day before you found out what they did to relax in the privacy of their own homes.

The sports world appears to be reeling but Ricky Williams is said to be at peace with his decision. One can't help but think that knowing he won't have to pee in a cup contributes greatly to his serenity.

No punishment for the crime

Oh this is irritating. You may remember my posts about Pat Conroy, the assistant principal at South Haven High School who was caught trying to set up a student by planting pot in his locker and then leading a drug dog to it.

Well, Ms. O of South Haven, with whom I had some discourse over the situation, must be happy today since it appears that unethical idiot Conroy is going to get away with it. The court worked very hard to find a technical loophole, but finally found one. The judge dismissed the complaint for possession of a class D drug (he was storing some in his desk drawer) because the search warrant was incorrectly worded.

This is a travesty. Although we realize Conroy suffered some repercussions for this illegal and unethical act by having to leave his employment, it's still a miscarriage of justice. Certainly, the young student whose life Conroy was attempting to ruin will get the message that you can get away with breaking the law if you're a white man in an administrative position of power. I doubt if he will end up with any respect for either authority or the law.

...Go out and have a good time

Happy birthday to Drug War Rant. Pete has a nice post up to celebrate the Rant's first year of existence and we're sending our best wishes from Last One Speaks.

We feel lucky to have stumbled onto his blog just about at the beginning of the Rant and grateful to have been the beneficiary of his insight and his kindness in sharing his readers over the last year.

Congratulations and thanks a bunch, Pete.

A shot in the arm

This is frightening. A vaccination to block the receptors that allow someone to experience pleasure from drugs? Who's to say it won't also block pleasure from everything else in life? Or have some other effect on a growing child's metabolism that would cause more harm than the potential use of the drug at some undetermined time in the future might cause? I can see it as a benefit for an adult who is out of control with addiction to white powder drugs but to inoculate children who might be at risk to become addicted when they grow up, crosses the line of acceptability.

For one thing by what criteria would the children be judged as risks? Genetics? Environment? Economic standing? And who would be the judges? No -- enforcing government policy and mandating future behavior with neuropharmaceuticals goes much too far.

Young people sometimes use drugs to fill the void left by absent parents, however, drugs can not be a substitute for parents who are present in their children's lives. If our parenting skills have diminished to the point where we have so little time to give our offspring that we must use drugs to ensure they don't want to use drugs, then we should just stop having children.

Monday, July 26, 2004

US gulag grows

Jeralyn at Talk Left is blogging at the DNC this week but she's still the first to point us to this story on prison population growth in the US. The Department of Justice has released a new report and it confirms that 6.9 million Americans, (that's 3.2% of our entire population) are either incarcerated or under the control of the prison system via probation and parole.

The numbers keep growing but the crime has not proportionally increased which leads to the conclusion that this is a residual effect of the war on some drugs. All those non-violent substance consumers sentenced to irrationally long confinements during the "tough on crime" 90s have filled the industrial prison system to bursting and are unable to be released under mandatory sentencing. Meanwhile violent criminals, who were are not subject to these same restrictions are being released early because the states simply cannot afford to keep them in jail.

This is no way to run a penal system and certainly does not contribute to the public safety. Prisons and sentencing laws are an issue ripe for reform and one that could generate some badly enthusiam for the Democratic ticket should they choose to address it. However, Jeralyn reports that she has scruntinized the copy of the Democratic Platform she was given yesterday and what does it say about these policies that is bankrupting the states and shredding the fabric of society. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

It's time for the Dems to wake up and smell the iron bars. With due respect to the victims of 9/11, it's time to pay some attention to the millions of victims who are suffering right now under our own government's ill-advised policies.

Bush Targets Cannabis Consumers

Well, I'll give the Bush administration this much credit; unlike the Kerry camp, they're realizing the power of the drug policy reform voting bloc. Kerry has pretty much ignored us but Bush is now vowing to *take it on* and has ordered more resources to be taken away from pursuing the more dangerous white powder drugs and have them reallocated to cracking down on cannabis instead.

Bush and his thugs at ONDCP want you to believe that marijuana is the new scourge of today's youth. They say this is not your grandmother's pot and it's so much more potent and more dangerous... Pure hogwash. I am the grandmother who smoked that pot and I'm telling you it's no better now than it was in 1960. There has always been really good pot that no one but politician's kids could afford and then there's the commercial grade Mexican that everyone else smoked. And when you did get high grade herb, you smoked a lot less of it. The dose is controllable.

In terms of the health, safety and social impact, marijuana still is and always has been the least destructive drug available to society. Alcohol, tobacco, meth and heroin are all much more dangerous and exact a far greater toll from our youth.

Also keep in mind, NIDA, the same agency that is telling you pot is more dangerous and is causing more medical and rehab interventions, is also saying the ONDCP cut the use of marijuana by 11% through use of their ineffective anti-drug programs. Both cannot be true about the same demographic group and these deceitful statistics and irrational policies are actually putting our youth more at risk, not less.

And what's up with the government-funded Mississippi growing facility we've been talking about naming it's anti-legalization program the Marijuana Potency Project -- a direct play on words on the privately run pro-legalization organization, Marijuana Policy Project. It's practically a copyright violation and clearly designed to confuse a young person looking for real information instead of NIDA propaganda.

Make no mistake about it. This new focus has nothing to do with public safety. The Bush administration feels sufficiently challenged by our numbers and effectiveness at organizing, that they are targeting our issue with a proposal that is sheer folly. Kerry would do well to acknowledge the abject failure of these policies and start courting our ranks by coming out of the convention with a plank on drug policy reform.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

AP Photo/Nasa, JPL,
Space Science Institute

Small miracles and other stuff

I find it incredible that I've seen an actual photo of Saturn's rings in my lifetime. I remember when a space mission would get 24 hour news coverage and now there are people whose job is to shuttle supplies to a space station where the residents routinely do space walks and it's barely mentioned in the press. How quickly we become jaded. It wasn't that long ago we were racing to be the first on the moon.

In any event, I'm chipping away at my backlog and there's a few items I don't want to let pass without comment. The Detroit Free Press ran a good article on the upcoming medical marijuana initiatives there. They also ran a story on a 55 pound cannabis bust that I bring up because I'm surprised they so overstated the value of the herb. It irritates me when these figures are reported as fact.

That might be the value of the haul if the couple caught with it were to sell it by the gram in the local park but it's more likely they would have made no more than a few hundred dollars on the transaction at best. The authorities inflate the figures to make it sound like an important bust. These two are certainly not kingpin dealers.

Meanwhile if you're young and able to get to Toronto by Friday night, shake out the sequins, put on your dancing shoes and get yourself to Yonge St. for Caribana Friday. It looks like it will be quite a party.

Around the 'hood

It turned out to be a completely gorgeous weekend, it feels more like late spring than late summer, so I've been outside and my template is still a sorry mess, and the rest of my home improvement plans went out the window as well.

I did have a lovely walk yesterday though. The Smith gardens were in that in-between stage and the lighting was off, so I didn't take many photos but I did get all the way to the pond and checked out the new construction. I was most fascinated by the changes to the Art Museum on campus. They enclosed the formerly outdoor cafe but they did it with glass so it still felt appreciably the same. The doors weren't locked so you could still walk through that eerily quiet space and look at the empty tables. It's funny but I've been in that place at odd moments, day and night, over the last decade and a half and I've never seen one person sitting there. I took a photo but that won't be developed for a while since I still haven't managed to buy a digital camera yet. Here's one of my sidewalk community chalkboard though. Nicolai drew this on the one hot day we've had so far.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Afternoon delight

Honest to God, I had planned to spend this afternoon working on the template while it was raining and cold and all. The only problem is, it didn't rain. The sun came out and it turned out to a be a really nice day and I must go outside. This sort of day is just too rare to waste.

So I'm off to look for some downtown adventure but before I go, I'm happy to report that I've finally heard from Louise. The last time I saw her she was looking gorgeous (as always) in a stunning white dress and in the company of an equally stunning young man. I thought maybe she had gone off and got re-married. I had heard a rumor she was on her way to Vegas...

Not to worry, it was all idle gossip and I look forward to catching up with her soon.

UPDATE on Document Destruction

More on the DOJ's order to destroy forfeiture documents -- paid for with your tax dollars by the way, (both the publishing and the impending destruction). It appears the memo we published last night was indeed real as the Boston Globe picked up the story this morning.

The American Library Association, taken off-guard by this unprecedented request, has vowed to, "challenge the order as an infringement on a century-old guarantee of public access to unclassified documents that the government publishes each year."

The pamphlets, dated from 2000-2004, which the DOJ say were intended for "internal use only" have been available to the public for four years. They reportedly contain, "detailed legal research on asset forfeiture law, including statutes and case histories on the legal means of seizing cash, cars, houses, boats, and other property of convicted drug dealers and other criminals."

Patrice McDermott of the ALA notes the Association will press the DOJ on the issue saying, "We just don't know the rationale for this."

Bernard A. Margolis, president of the Boston Public Library has even stronger words.

"There is a precedent danger that if a handful of documents that appear innocuous -- the forfeiture statutes -- if these become subject to a casual or cavalier yanking, then what is next? Maybe it's things that are really critical and primary to people's livelihood, to their safety, or to their health."...

"I think at a minimum we are entitled to know the process, how these determinations are made, and whether excluding something is truly in the public interest," he said. "The public should get its day in court."

We agree.

Friday, July 23, 2004
DOJ orders destruction of forfeiture documents

They tell me this memo is real. It's not clear to me what our government is up to with this, but wiser minds than mine tell me the Department of Justice simply realized these training manuals and reference guides are too helpful to the defense so they intend to reclassify them as "internal documents", protecting them from public scrutiny and, one assumes, legal discovery.

Dear Depository Librarian:

The Department of Justice has asked the Superintendent of Documents to instruct depository libraries to destroy all copies of the materials listed below. Please withdraw these materials immediately and destroy them by any means to prevent disclosure of their contents. The Department of Justice has determined that these materials are for internal use only.

Documents to be removed and destroyed:

Title: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure
Class: J 1.2:C 49/17
Item no: 0717
Shipping list: 2004-0276-M
Shipping list date: May 7, 2004

Title: Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms
Class: J 1.2:F 76/8
Item no.: 0717
Shipping list: 2004-0038-P
Shipping list date: December 12, 2003

Title: Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes
Class: J 1.2:AS 7/2/2004
Item no.: 0717
Shipping list no.: 2004-0077-P
Shipping list date: February 5, 2004

Title: Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory
Class: J 1.89/3:M 74/2004
Item no.: 0717 A 11
Shipping list no. 2004-0120-P
Shipping list date: March 24, 2004

Title: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), PL no.
106-185, 114 Stat. 202 (2000)
Class: J 1.2:C 49/16
Item no: 0717
Shipping list no.: 2000-0367-P
Shipping list date: September 23, 2000

Both GPO and the U.S. Department of Justice regret any inconvenience
resulting from this request and we appreciate your cooperation.


Superintendent of Documents

Makes you wonder what they have to hide.

These laws are primarily being used against drug defendants at the present time, but don't think you're safe just because you don't use drugs. The civil forfeiture laws are increasingly being stretched to include other classes of crime. At this rate, five years from now they could be taking your car for unpaid parking tickets.

Employers report increased meth use among workers

The AP reports that employers have seen positive drug test results for methamphetamine use surge by 68% last year. Although results for marijuana use still account for the majority of positives, those numbers have remained stable in comparison to other years. Thus, one would think the surge in meth users is directly related to the war on some drugs. Since the prohibitionists focused on cannabis consumers, alternative drugs have come into vogue because they are easier to obtain and are also cheaper because of the increased competition on the black market. This theory is also borne out in the spike of postives for other white powder drugs, such as heroin and morphine which rose by 25 percent.

In this same time frame, your government spent 40 billion tax dollars to stop drug use altogether. It's clearly not working. Is there anyone out there who really thinks this money is well spent?

Scientists sue feds over MMJ research

This story has been well covered. Pete at Drug WarRant has a good post on the subject, but since it's happening in our backyard, we want to take a quick look at it as well.

Lyle Craker, Ph.D., director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, filed an application with the DEA for approval to establish a facility that would produce marijuana for U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved research back in June of 2001. The DEA, despite support from our senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Congressman John Olver and others, has been ignoring it every since.

Currently the only approved facility for research grade cannabis is on a NIDA-contracted farm in Mississippi. Now NIDA does not want marijuana to be classified as a medicine, so the quality of their product is immediately suspect and they are not producing enough of the herb to support any meaningful research.

Joining is the suit is Valerie Corral, a government-approved MMJ user and co-founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana and Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization recently granted permission to conduct ecstasy research. The need for the legal recourse is clear.

"This litigation is necessary because of the federal government's obstructionism regarding medical marijuana research," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "The government regularly claims that if marijuana were really medicine, it would already have been approved by the FDA, and that more research is needed, yet they have not only failed to support medical research, they've actively obstructed it."

Corral sums up the problem well.

"As a patient, each day brings new struggles," said Valerie Corral, founder of the WAMM medical marijuana collective raided by the DEA in 2002. "Instead of providing relief for critically ill Americans, our government refuses to allow the research that would free sick and dying members of our collective from living in fear of an administration that views medical assistance as criminal activity."

The terminally ill are not criminals. It's time for our government to reassess this policy and cease wasting our hard-earned tax dollars on persecuting our suffering citizens.

You can read the complaint here.

Little Dragon

It's been a tough week for posting. Between equipment failures, my ridiculous schedule and the really nice weather, I haven't had enough time to get anything done. Of course, I could be posting instead of lollygagging on the stoop watching the world's largest dragonfly eat insects, but how often do you see a dragonfly the size of an actual dragon? He seems to be living in the swamp behind the condos and I have to tell you that I have never seen a bigger one. I thought it was just my perspective at first until I saw him swerve to avoid crashing into a wren and he was about the same size! He's almost scary.

In any event we'll be trying to catch up on the news this weekend. It's supposed to be colder and raining. It's been a really cold summer here.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Reasonable judge reversed by PA high court

A Pennsylvania appeals court reversed a trial court judge's decision not to hear small cannabis possession cases. The judge routinely dismissed cases involving small amounts of the herb. He was reported to have said, "Little bags of marijuana, I'm not trying those cases."

The higher court's logic escapes me.

"Not only did the trial judge fail to consider the protection of the public, he gave no consideration to (the defendant's) individual need for treatment, supervision, rehabilitation or welfare. The trial judge is taking a 'one-size-fits-all' approach," wrote Superior Court Judge Debra M. Todd.

Excuse me? He most certainly acted in the best interests of the defendants, one of whom was a 16 year old caught with one gram of cannabis. You could barely see that small an amount in the corner of a baggie. Smoking the whole thing at once would barely have an effect. Saving a teenager from having a criminal record following him around for life over this piddling amount is exactly what he needs. Even this small a bust would prevent him from obtaining educational loans under HEA and it's unlikely he needs treatment for addiction if he's only carrying that small an amount. You think having to deal with his parents and the courts would not be a deterrent in and of itself? Not to mention the savings to the taxpayer in court costs if the case is not brought forward.

And as far as one-size-fits-all justice, isn't that exactly what the federal sentencing guidelines now at issue under the Blakely decision is all about. They're okay with one-size-fits-all punishment but don't like it when a courageous jurist applies the same principle to judgments?

This member of the public prefers to be protected from the high court's intractable support of a flawed and ineffective sentencing system and its refusal to consider cases on their merits. A kid who wants to try marijuana is no danger to me and frankly, one thinks these teenagers should never even come to court in the first place. This kind of experimental use is best dealt with in the home by the parents. We think grounding them for a month would have more of a deterrent effect.

And don't even get me started on how much of the taxpayer's money has already been wasted on prosecuting a kid for having the equivalent of one tiny marijuana cigarette. Don't you think the thousands of dollars of court costs would have been better spent in restoring extracurricular activities at the local school?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Bush and Kerry get back to the land

This is it, the latest "overnight" sensation. If you haven't heard about this video already, you will be hearing about it soon. JibJab have caught the brass ring and are on the media merry-go-round. It's actually pretty funny and rather nonpartisan. Everyone should enjoy it regardless of political affliation. You can watch it here.

Bush pushes Supreme Court to consider Blakely decision

No surprise here. The Bush administration is rushing their two appeals in federal drug convictions under Blakely through to the Supreme Court.

"The federal sentencing system has fallen into a state of deep uncertainty and disarray about the constitutional validity of the federal sentencing guidelines system," Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote in asking the high court to move quickly.

Clement is urging the Supremes to circumvent the customary judicial route and rule on the instant case before the First Circuit has an opportunity to decide the merits of the case. With 64,000 cases hanging in the balance, it's understandable why Bush's prosecutors are in such a panic about the outcome.

Dissenting justices in the 5-4 ruling had warned that the ruling would undermine if not destroy the 17-year-old federal system, which was meant to make sentencing fairer by reducing disparities among punishments handed out by different judges.

We say good riddance to the whole misguided scheme. Mandatory sentencing guidelines did not make the system more fair, it made it mechanical and heartless. If a Justice of the Court is not allowed to make a judgment based on the circumstances of the case, then you may as well just give the job to trained monkeys. Anyone can rubberstamp a conviction.

Personal use possession questioned

Here's how the authorities, aided & abetted by the press, deceive the non-consuming public about cannabis. The headline of this piece trumpets 97 plants grown for own use making it sound like 26 year old Richard Hinchcliffe is some kind of major supplier who got away with something. They total the potential value of the plants at around 2,000 UKP which if the exchange rate is still the same would equal about $4000 US dollars.

In reality, Richard had 17 mature plants. Being grown indoors those only reached 3 1/2 feet tall and he had 80 seedlings. As memory serves, once this herb is dried, the mature plants may yield about 8 ounces of useable buds at best, (probably less). The seedlings should not even be counted since they are worthless until they mature and not all of them are likely to do so. Even if he matured them all, at least half or probably more would be male plants, (also useless). Not to mention that by the time the seedlings matured, he could easily have consumed the mature buds particularly since he is using the herb medicinally to overcome a drinking addiction.

Richard should not have been arrested at all for growing a plant. Nonetheless, the sentence of community service he received for violating the current ill-conceived laws was appropriately mild considering the harmlessness of the so-called crime.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Back in business

They replaced my melting modem and fixed my line speed so I'm good to go again. It's funny how free my time was without blogging. I hardly knew what to do with myself. I was forced to clean the house. In any event, the war on some drugs didn't end while I was away and hitting my 388 backed up emails at random, here's another story on the failure of Plan Colombia.

Cocaine has replaced ecstasy as the social drug of choice among the young consumers in the UK. Citing milder and more controllable effects, young consumers are increasingly choosing coke over the psychedelic.

The drift towards white powder has become a snowstorm, with use of coke trebling in the last seven years. Estimates have previously been based on drug seizures, convictions and self-reported use - but now an NHS study has produced hard evidence that cocaine is replacing ecstasy as the everyday social drug of choice.

Unfortunately, there has also been a corresponding rise in the use of crack cocaine, a harsher and much more additive form of the drug that causes aggressive behavior.

The NHS study backs up findings from the British Crime Survey. Police are particularly concerned about crack, which is linked with a rise in violent crime. There are an estimated 45,000 crack users just in London and last year officers from the Metropolitan Police closed 516 crack dens. The Independent on Sunday revealed earlier this year that the street price of cocaine had dropped dramatically with some dealers offering the drug at £45 a gram compared with £70 six years ago.

Authorities cite greater availability as the cause of the cocaine explosion. One wonders how the US can then say that they are cutting coca production when it's flooding the streets. If it's in London, it's in New York and Berlin and Rio.

Do the math. Plan Colombia only stopped coca production (and the production of any other food) where they fumigated with Roundup. They didn't stop it from being grown. It has simply disbursed over a wider geographic area and in fact have increased as smaller farmers are able to compete now that the US has poisoned the larger plots with their herbicide bombing in the Amazon rain basin. Meanwhile the indigenous peasants have been displaced by the thousands.

Paid for with your tax dollars.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Under Repair

We've determined that my moden is leaking data. It's scheduled to be repaired tomorrow afternoon so regular blogging should return tomorrow evening. Until then please check the fine blogs and websites at the links on the side bar.

Major Technical Difficulties

Hoping this post makes it to the blog. Having serious problems with the internet connection and have been unable to post from this computer all weekend. We're working on it. Check back later.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Stuck at the office

I was hoping to get through my backlog of email today, currently hovering at about 275 unread mails, but we're having files moved today and it now appears I will be stuck here all day long supervising the movers. At this point it looks like I won't be back until after 7:00 tonight. Check in later for the news.

Friday, July 16, 2004
Beachcomber's bounty

Well here's another little way the prohibition not only fails to stop drugs from entering the country but actually increases the danger to the public.

One thousand and four pounds of cocaine have recently been found on Louisiana beaches. An additional 80 pounds washed up in Florida. Authorities speculate that a drug running boat either sank or threw its merchandise overboard out of fear of an imminent bust by the Coast Guard. No arrests have been made.

With the worth of a single pound being reported at $10,000, one might think the chances of unreported finds of the drug run rather high and expects that at this level it would be of a rather pure grade. They usually ship at least by the ton I believe, which would leave 996 916 pounds unaccounted for. And what do you think the odds are that some teenagers out for a jaunt on the family boat won't find at least one of those bricks?

I've got WYSIWYG

I'm so disoriented today. I spent five days in a white three story townhouse and didn't see a newspaper or a news broadcast for five days. Hell, I barely even went outside. It was kind of like being in a decompression chamber, or maybe a sensory deprivation tank. I came home to find out that Blogger changed the blogging screen and functions again. I had just got comfortable with using the last update. Now I have to get used to a lot of new jazzy features that will take me forever to figure out. I really wish I was a computer geek.

Meanwhile my template keeps changing and I don't know why. Sometimes the line that closes the right bar disappears. And if any kindhearted technogenius can tell me why I have those white margins that I don't want on the outside of the blog page, please email me.

The Blogger newsletter tells me I should "do the wizzy dance". Trouble is I don't know the steps. At the moment the wizzy is only making me dizzy. Blogging may be slow until I figure out how to negotiate the new screens.

 Home Sweet Home
A word of advice friends, don't travel on a Thursday afternoon in the summer. Almost missed my plane because the security line was so long it snaked into the next terminal. Took almost an hour to get through and I heard later that I was in the fast line. The other one, wherever that was,  reportedly took two hours to get through.
It's a funny thing when you're in a line with so many folks freaking out about missing their flights; it's kind of like going through a natural disaster together, you bond with the people around you.  We polled our neighbors to find fellow flightmates and there was much cell-phoning to check flight status and alternate arrangements. Of course, all flights were completely booked and the anxiety level was rising as the departure times loomed closer.  
The Chicago crowd was well represented and there was much speculation on what would happen if they all missed the plane. They were plotting a mass march on the ticket counter to demand compensation if they didn't make it. I located several comrades for the Balti run. They  were relieved to hear the internet was reporting a ten minute delay on the flight since it was not showing on the terminal screens. Still we would be cutting it close. I considered taking a tranq but we decided to employ my Red Sox theory and just believe we would make it. We did.
In the end, everyone around me made their flights, even the Chicago bound, when at the critical moment they finally opened a second screening station.  I might mention this sort of thing has never happened at any Southwest gate I've been through. That's why I fly them. There is rarely even a line.  At this airport they shared the security gate with a major carrier and I understand the screeners just changed from a private company to TSA employees. Read into that what you will but I'll tell you one thing, when I went through that gate a month ago I was much more thoroughly screened. No one even looked at my feet this time. 
In any event, it was a long trip home and I'm wiped out today. I'm off to take care of business for the moment but I'll be back later tonight when I get a chance to catch up on the news.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Olympic torch burns cannabis growers

This was kind of bad planning. A police helicopter following the relay route of the Olympic torch that will be delivered to the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece spotted a large cannabis farm. Upon further aerial investigation, more small plots were discovered around the remote villages on the island. Greek police eventually destroyed about 7,000 plants. One would have thought the growers would have taken that into consideration at planting time since the torch's $45 million journey around the world has reportedly had, "all the hallmarks of a presidential tour with security, surveillance, motorcades, cheering crowds and a specially chartered jumbo jet, dubbed Zeus".

Of course this also bodes ill for crowd control at the games since the peaceful cannabis consumers will now be forced to turn to the ubiquitous Ouzo or Retzina for their mood enhancement. Maybe the Greeks should have talked to the police at the soccer tournament in Portugal before they destroyed all that mellowing herb.

Detroit voters evenly split on medical marijuana

It looks like the Detroit News took this post on the Ann Arbor medical marijuana initiative, (that I cross posted to both blogs) and ran with it. They ran a lead article today on the upcoming initiative in Detroit, scheduled to be voted on in August. There's also a poll on the same page regarding the issue. The pro-medmar vote is currently running at one point ahead. People tend to vote for winners so please stop by and cast your vote in favor of the proposal. If you scroll down the results page, the discussion is also quite interesting.

Rush to the Carnival 95

It's that time of week again and is hosting this week with a very clever Rush (the rock and roll band) theme. Of course I'm old enough to remember hearing these albums when they came out and he listened to them for the first time at his grandparents. I guess that means it's true that rock and roll will never die.

Taking that into consideration, I'm certain you won't be surprised to learn my favorite entry this week was from The World of Pete, who thinks he may be going through menopause, a problem I can certainly relate to. All the posts as always are entertaining though, so hurry on over and check it out.
Prohibition produces corrupt cops

Shawn Verbeke would seem to be an unlikely candidate to become a drug dealer. The 30 year old former Marine and D.C. police officer who lives with his mother, was about to move to Kuwait to work for a contracting firm aiding the U.S. military. Yet in another glaring example of how prohibition not only fails to eliminate drugs but also corrupts those who would not otherwise have become involved in them, Shawn was instead arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute ecstasy and methamphetamine and now faces a 20 year jail sentence.

Shawn was seduced by the obscene profits of the black market created by the prohibition and probably the cachet that comes from being a dealer among drug consumers. Eventually he began using the substances himself, even while in uniform. He was taken in and then taken down by an accomplice who was arrested and then rolled on him.

The trafficker, who is referred to only as "confidential source #1," said he and Verbeke had agreed that Verbeke would shake down other drug dealers in nightclubs and take their drugs, and that the trafficker would sell the drugs and give Verbeke a percentage of the profits.

Four other unnamed informants are quoted as saying that Verbeke ingested and purchased methamphetamine while in uniform at a District nightclub and sold drugs at other clubs in the District.

The US Attorney told the court, "He was entrusted by the people of Washington to serve and protect, but he turned that badge, he turned that gun, into a weapon to sell illicit drugs.''

One thinks if there wasn't an illicit market that creates such enormous tax-free dividends, he wouldn't have been tempted to risk his reputation and his career by dealing. And if the prohibition can't even stop law enforcement officers from using drugs, how can it be expected to eliminate use by ordinary and otherwise law-abiding citizens?

[Link via]

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

(neo)Con Games

Well this is just too delicious to miss. Play Osama bin Lotto and guess when Bush will "capture" America's Most Wanted Terrorist. Perhaps Bush thinks trotting Osama out from some hidden underground bunker will save his failing bid for re-election. The animation is really good and I think you can actually bet at this site with the proceeds going to some worthy non-profit cause.

[Link via Talk Left]

Ann Arbor to allow medical marijuana

The city of Ann Arbor already has a reasonable policy on the use of cannabis, with the penalty for personal possession being a $25.00 fine. Now they want to take it one step further by essentially legalizing the use of medical marijuana. While they can't actually overturn state and federal laws banning its use, a proposed citizen's initiative would instruct local law enforcement not to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients who use the herb under a health care provider's recommendation.

Of course even in an enlightened city such as Ann Arbor, there are naysayers but as always, these tend to be those people like Justin Bishop, founder of Clean Teens and program director of the Washtenaw County Community Partnership, who make their money from the prohibition of the plant. Bishop says marijuana is already too easy for kids to get and plans to run an ad campaign against the initiative. Although we agree on that point, it simply underlines the fact that prohibition has failed, it has nothing to do with the plant's value as a medicinal herb.

Will Michigan be the tenth state to enact reasonable medical marijuana laws? Ann Arbor is likely to respond with "reason and compassion" and pass the initiative. A similar proposal will be taken up by Detroit voters in August. One hopes they will be equally sensible in setting an example for the rest of the state to follow.

Epis case remanded

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in another reasonable and bold decision has ordered the case of Bryan Epis remanded to the district court pending the US Supreme Court's review of Raich v. Ashcroft. We hope this provides impetus for other wrongfully incarcerated medical marijuana providers to appeal their convictions. Congrats to Epis and his legal team headed by Brenda Grantland and thanks to Richard Lake of Media Awareness Project for forwarding a copy of the order:


This cause came on for hearing before the court on June 16, 2004. The Supreme Court of the United States has now granted certiorari in Raich v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1222 (9th Cir. 2003) cert granted (U.S. June 28, 2004) (No. 03-1454), which is a related case dealing with the growing and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This court now remands this case to the district court for reconsideration of the judgment following the decision by the Supreme Court in Raich. If, after considering any application of Raich to this case, the district court determines that Epis's conviction should remain in tact, the district court should then proceed to re-sentence Epis in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. ___ (2004) WL 1402697 (June 24, 2004). The panel of this court retains jurisdiction pending reconsideration by the district court.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

On the ground

Well I arrived safely but once again it was eight hours on the ground and about ninety minutes in the air. The plane had some kind of nose problem in Balti and we ended up not only boarding late but also sitting on the tarmac for two solid hours while they decided whether to fix it or change planes. The airlines may save money this way but it seems to me that travel was a lot more efficient for the travellers before the hub system.

Anyway while I was on the road there was a good interview on protesting the drug war with Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance published yesterday. Ethan has the buzz this week after his piece, "Going to Pot: The growing movement toward ending America's irrational marijuana prohibition" appeared as the cover story in the National Review magazine. Both pieces are well worth reading in full.

Meanwhile, my hosts are about to take me out to do some sightseeing and enjoy the beautiful weather, so I'm out till later tonight.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

On the Road

I'm off to the airport for a little trip. I'll be back here in a few days but I do expect to be posting in the interim. Probably not until late tonight or tomorrow morning though.

Meanwhile, head over to Drug WarRant for the breaking news on Andrea Barthwell. It appears our deputy drug czar has resigned in order to chase the nomination as the GOP candidate for an Illinois Senate seat, now that former contender Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the race because of those nasty sex allegations.

Pete thinks it's bad for drug reform. Me, I think it's good for drug policy reform that she's took her lying butt out of the ONDCP office but granted, it does not bode well for drug policy in Illinois nor in future Senate votes if she manages to snag a seat.

Guess we'll just have to make sure she loses the bid.

Friday, July 09, 2004
Out of the darkness

Researchers have discovered yet another reason that cannabis is good for you - it appears to enhance night vision and relieve the symptoms of the degenerative disease retinitis pigmentosa. Tests conducted on Moroccan fisherman and anecdotal evidence from Jamaican fisherman seems to bear out the theory that smoking marijuana increases your ability to see in the dark.

... their results backed up claims by the Observer columnist Sue Arnold, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and is officially registered blind. She noticed several years ago that drawing on strong Jamaican skunk suddenly and temporarily enabled her to see things clearly.

Of course nothing is perfect and one must judge the additional effects of smoking too much really good skunk weed.

Ms Arnold has since warned of side-effects that could impede night-time navigation.

"Only trouble was," she said, "I couldn't stand up."

It's all about striking the balance.

Last word on medical marijuana amendment

Pete at Drug War Rant has an excellent analysis of the vote on the failed Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment including links to the transcript of the hearing and the voting roll call. As usual, Pete articulates my thoughts so well, I have to nothing to add to his commentary.

Dan Daniels and Your No Good Buddies

The photos from Independence Day won't be ready for another couple of days but I do want to tell you about this band who played at the party. Dan and YNGB are a really fun group who are serious about their art but don't take themselves too seriously. They are boomers who can now afford to fulfill their youthful ambition to play music and aren't afraid to have a good time doing it.

They're building a following and will be throwing a CD release party this Saturday at The Harp in North Amherst. If you're reading this in the Valley, it's worth the drive just to hear (I've Been Eatin') Onions. If you can't make that gig, check out the schedule at their new web site.

Thursday, July 08, 2004
Castles in the air

I don't get anything done after work this time of year until after nightfall because the stoop is so endlessly entertaining. I was still thinking about the birds today, and a whole little flock of them flew into the birch tree and called me outside just in time to see the most amazing sky tonight.

It started with this flat gray cloud cover in the west that broke into a tiny clear corner filled with a one big puffy sunlit cumulus cloud to the extreme east. It didn't last long. The winds aloft were moving fast and the sky changed quickly into a wash of varying shades of gray. A huge cloud built due northeast, but it was almost translucent, billowing into a glass mountain of smoky quartz that was intermittently illuminated by tiny pulsing threads of pink lightning, like veins of light from somewhere far away. A great heron with ridiculously long legs flew across the length of the horizon.

It felt like watching a fairy tale erupt in the sky.
Wings and things

The planets must be doing something because it's been one hell of a weird day so far. I'm so wired from the bedlam, I'm having half a beer to calm my nerves instead of eating lunch. Who can eat under this kind of stress? The hell of it is, it's too boring to make good content unless you know the players involved, and only Karen will appreciate the details.

So while I'm taking a breath here, let me tell you about my bird moment last evening. My long time readers know that I'm always having these odd bird experiences. I was coming out of City right at sunset, having gone back to deliver a copy of an old newspaper to the construction guys who are tearing down the old state hospital building. They're at City Tully O'Reilly's every Wednesday for some reason. We don't usually exchange more than the usual pleasantries but they were really hot to get this issue of the local paper for the kids back home I guess, so I made a special trip over to give it to them and of course they insisted on buying me another beer.

So I was a little more buzzed than usual when I crossed the street and maybe that's why I noticed the wren party going on between the tree and the ivy on the side of the rooming house on Pleasant Street. The din was almost deafening, and it wasn't the usual chirping those birds make, it was more like a drunken bird brawl.

There appeared to be hundreds of them, continuously moving from inside the ivy to the tree, to the roof and back again. They would hover outside the vines covering the wall, flapping their little wings so fast they could have been giant humming birds. The wall and indeed the very air was alive with little brown wrens and above it all, platoons of swallows cut through the sky with the their sharply curved little wings.

I stood there watching so long that the passers-by probably thought I was one of the nutty people who live in that building but eventually, Stacy stopped and watched with me for a while. It makes it more respectable somehow, when there's two. We couldn't come to a consensus as to why they were so agitated but we agreed that there had to be a hundred little wren homes in that quivering greenery. I stayed for a while longer even after she went on her way.

Oddly, it was the swallows that followed me home.

Carnival 94

Almost forgot to trackback to this week's host, democrats give conservatives indigestion who published the entries under yet another clever theme, the Cabinet of Curiosities. The longer I hang around this crowd, the more I like them. Despite our political differences, there's some great posts as always. Check it out.

House allows the sick to suffer

Well, it's not really that surprising that a Republican controlled House would vote down the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment again, but it's a shame that 268 of our legislators have no compassion for the terminally ill citizens in this country. Not to mention their lack of respect for state's sovereign rights. The AP is reporting that this was overwhelmingly defeated last year as well, but my records say we had 152 to 273 votes in 2003..

In any event, be sure to thank the 148 courageous legislators who were not swayed by the decrepit and specious arguments trotted out by the Bush administration lackeys in the House like Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA who insists, "The amendment would hurt by sending the message to young people that there can be health benefits by smoking marijuana." and the old canard put forward by Rep. Max Burns, R-GA that this was "simply the first step in a scheme to overturn all the substance abuse laws."

You might want to remind the nay-sayers that historic use and scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the use of cannabis as a medicine and that it is less toxic than the pharmaceutical chemicals currently in vogue. No one has overdosed on marijuana. The same cannot be said for morphine that is routinely prescribed to cancer patients instead.

I haven't seen the roll call yet but I'm assuming my guy, Richie Neal, who supported the amendment in 03 has earned another thank you note this year. You can sure he'll be hearing from me either way. Let your guys know what you think as well. Don't forget these people are drawing their salaries from your tax dollars. They are supposed to working for you. Make sure they do their job.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

This land is your land

I'm hooked on Air America. Jeralyn of Talk Left, who I adore, was on Janeane and Sam's show The Majority Report tonight. She was filling in for Kos, who I also love and listened to yesterday. They haven't stopped airing interesting and important content yet.

Tune into this station. They are keeping track of the atrocities you don't have time to discover but really should know about.

Call Your Congress-creatures
Action alert - stop the arrests of medmar patients

Bump and update. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment is alive again in the U.S. House of Representatives. Due to be voted on in the next two weeks AT ANY MINUTE, this amendment would prevent the U.S. Department of Justice (which includes the DEA) from spending any money to raid medical marijuana patients in states where it's legal.

We spoke about this last year when it was defeated in a close vote. We have another chance to end the suffering of medical marijuana patients. Please visit the Marijuana Policy Project and take action today.

Check in with Drug WarRant for more details on alternate methods to contact your Congress-critters.

Goose Creek cops get away with armed school invasion

We spoke to you before about this miscarriage of justice in Goose Creek, here and here where the local police force staged a commando style drug raid on the students during school hours.

South Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster agrees that it was "grossly inappropriate for police to have terrorized the student body of the local high school with drawn guns and handcuffs but declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved.

The state's chief prosecutor said school officials had probable cause to conduct a search, but he criticized police officers' decision to draw their weapons as a highly dangerous tactic that could have been deadly.

"The tactics were good tactics for a crack house, a drug den or a methamphetamine lab, but highly inappropriate tactics for a school house," McMaster said.

One wonders what constitutes probable cause in South Carolina when absolutely no drugs were found and the only weapons in evidence were the guns the police had trained on the students who were forced to lie face down in the hallways.

The mayor of Goose Creek, Michael Heitzler also said he saw, "no reason for the police department to punish the 14 officers who took part in the raid."

There are at least three separate lawsuits with multiple plaintiff's pending in the courts. Badge Humphries, a lawyer representing some of the students states this ruling will not affect those cases. One can only hope the civil remedies will offer some compensation for the indignities these students suffered at the hands of taxpayer-funded civil servants.

DEA election year grandstanding nets another Haitian bust

Yet another Haitian extradited without much fanfare from the Dominican Republic for complicity in cocaine smuggling. Former Haitian airport police commander Romaine Lestin was charged with conspiracy for protecting cocaine shipments passing through the airport, becoming the sixth high level Haitian arrested in this election year sting. It appears that four informants rolled on Lestin because they were pissed off that he had shorted them on their share of the "protection money" and of course they are being held in US jails and one assumes are being subjected to interrogation techniques similar to Abu Ghraib.

And as always in an election year, the DEA likes to make it look like they are "protecting" you from these "high level" dealers but the truth is that the 528 lbs. of cocaine at issue here is a small shipment among big smugglers. Typically, a big shipment would comprise at least, and often more, than a ton.

These poor Haitians were merely involved in what had essentially been a protected activity, that I would bet was being conducted with the full knowledge of our DEA, until Bush decided to "liberate" the country. Not unlike Oriel Jean, who we told you about weeks ago, Lestin was small potatoes in this operation. He was paid a total of $11,000 over the years. It no doubt cost at least ten times that in your tax dollars to bring him to the US on that DEA plane and it will cost at least that much more again to prosecute him. Meanwhile, the availability of cocaine on the street is undiminished and word has it, has become more pure as the competition in the black market heats up; while the problem of cocaine addiction goes unaddressed and it's victims untreated under this current model of interdiction and incarceration in the war on some drugs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears...

I finally got around to listening to Air America yesterday and I'm haven't turned it off since. The programming rocks and if you can stream audio, you can listen to it while you're working at your computer. I may never hear Morning Sedition, but the rest of the weekday lineup is peopled with the most astute minds of the literate, and thank God funny, political left. I'm already a die-hard Randi Rhodes fan, not the least because she seems to be holding my old hero Barry Crimmins hostage on her afternoon show.

And speaking of the Big B., Crimmins pledged to do a show every Tuesday at Rocky Sullivan's in New York City until the Bush regime is either voted, hounded or impeached from office. A true bargain in the big city at only a $10 cover. (129 Lexington Ave. at 28-29th Sts., New York, NY 10016. Phone 212-725-3871.)

Sure to be a show worth seeing. I may try to get to one myself. I love Manhattan in the summer.

Friends in high places

Blogger is still making me crazy this morning. It still takes three tries to get the pages to load and there's no telling if this will actually get posted. Nonetheless, Cannabis Culture has an interesting article I missed last week on politician's children who get busted for getting for using intoxicants so we'll try to pass it on.

Unsurprisingly the offspring, not unlike every other young person in the US on the planet, have experimented with mind altering substances and some of them have been caught. Al Gore's son, the Bush twins, and big brother Jeb Bush's little girl Nicole have all been arrested for marijuana and underage drinking violations. Nicole had bigger problems of course with prescription pills and crack cocaine. Chelsea Clinton passed out regularly on booze binges.

Then there's the less heralded but bigger busts like Republican Representative Dan Burton's son Dan II who was charged with trafficking, was let off and then several months later was again caught with 30 marijuana plants and a gun. Is he languishing in jail under the mandatory minimums his father promoted? Of course not. Mr. Zero Tolerance's kid was let off again. The charges were dropped.

The same goes for Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham's son Randy who was convicted of possessing 400 pounds of pot. Hardly personal stash even by a toker's standards. He received half the usual sentence.

Both of these Congressman support the death penalty when the dealer is your kid. When it's their kid, they just say, "Oh never mind," and plead for mercy. It's time they started showing the same kind of reason-based sympathy for all cannabis consumers. Be it the war in Iraq or the war on some drugs, politicians won't stop sacrificing your children to their political ambitions and ill-conceived laws, until their own kids have to pay the same price.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Happy holiday

Blogger is still glitching out, but it appears to be limited to my blog as I see Atrios is loading with no problems. I always suspect when they have server problems, it's the free blogs that get restored last. In any event I'm taking this moment when it seems to be intermittently working, to post a few words.

Last night's party was fabulous as it is every year. There were about a half a dozen different gatherings going on at the marina, but we were the biggest and the live band pretty much provided the entertainment for the whole place. Everyone contributed to the fireworks finale though -- it was 360 degrees of pyrotechnics, but we had the biggest ones and the most so I guess we won. I hope the photos come out. I'll wait to post the details pending their receipt.

I ended up using an instacamera again because as I was on my way to the pharmacy to buy film, I unexpectedly ran across the annual professional bicyclist's race around the courthouse block. In my haste to get photos of the bikes coming round, I forgot to buy film for the regular camera.

Oh, and before I forget to pass this on, Drug Sense has updated its pages with a fresh new look and added functionality. It has all the usual invaluable research features of course but you can now modify the content to suit your needs and they will also be hosting blogs. Check it out.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Technical difficulties

Well, it's going to be light posting for sure, since Blogger seems to be glitching out again today. Yesterday the page wasn't loading, today I'm getting publishing confirmation but it's not showing up on the blog. The good news is at least it didn't eat the post.

Nonetheless, I'm going out to enjoy the another (not quite perfect --the humidity is up a little) lovely day.

Rose Garden strategy

I didn't intend to take yesterday off but I also didn't expect such perfect weather. It was the kind of day you stay in New England for, even though you only get six of them a year. The air was crystal clear, the sun was just hot enough, peeking in and out of the big fat cumulus clouds that were lazily drifting across the brilliant blue sky. I spent the day outside and planted my garden.

I know you're thinking most people plant on Memorial Day. I do it on Independence Day because I don't know until then what perennials are going to make it. I fill in the empty spaces with annuals which if you'll excuse the expression, are now dirt cheap.

I have a party later so it's likely to be another light posting day, but fortunately Drug War Rant has covered the important stories already. Check out his post on Columbian currency where he has a still of a man trading cocaine base for groceries, from the National Geographic's flash movie, "Cocaine Country".

He also uncovered a positive government anti-drug ad campaign and covers a disturbing development in Florida where the local school board has approved the use of a chemical test designed to ferret out possible contact between hard surfaces such as desks and lockers or even clothing and drug users.

Don't even get me started on this one. The school (and the test makers) claim there is no chance of false positives due to secondary contact. Right. A school full of hundreds of children moving through a building and there's not one chance a drug user could contaminate the desk of an innocent student?

Not to mention, the atmosphere of suspicion this breeds. Are they guilty until proven innocent by the test? I mean what kind of learning environment is this? Are we teaching our children to be good citizens or model prisoners?

Friday, July 02, 2004
Court rejects rehearing on hemp food

The 9th Circuit continues to uphold your right to nutricious food by sensibly refusing the (DEA) petition for an En
Banc rehearing. The Court's June 28th decision gives the Bush
Administration until September 26 to appeal to the Supreme Court. Sales of hemp foods in the U.S. will be permanently protected if the Bush Administration does not appeal by the September 26 deadline.

"Manufacturers of healthy foods containing omega-3 rich hemp nut and oil are confident that the Administration cannot win an appeal to the Supreme Court," says David Bronner, Chair of the HIA's Food and Oil Committee and President of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

Hemp companies have spent over $200,000 of their own money fighting this ridiculous ban, and are prepared to spend what it takes to fight any further appeal to the Supreme Court. "The public and the media should question the DEA's waste of tax dollars in trying to crush the legitimate hemp food industry," says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. "A Bush administration appeal will fail and only further embarrass the DEA. Appealing the decision is a last-ditch effort to save face at the expense of taxpayers and limited law enforcement resources."

And you can be certain that if the hemp food companies have spent 200,000 on the suit, that at least that much and (probably much more) of your hard earned tax dollars have been wasted by the DEA on this case. Hemp is a plant, not a drug. The food doesn't get you high and is extraordinarly beneficial as a source of nutrition.

It would have been much better if the DEA had spent the money on purchasing the hemp bars and passed them out to the hungry. That would have made a postive difference.
Let Freedom Ring

When is the last time you referred to the upcoming holiday as Independence Day? Come on, admit it; when you hear the phrase isn't the movie the first thing that pops up in your mind? Jed at Freedom Sight has a two good posts up on the subject. He wonders,

..... if maybe, just maybe, if people start using the title "Independence Day" more often, then perhaps they'll get a reminder, even if it's only once a year, that we are a free people, each an individual sovreign, and that we are entitled to all the rights and liberties that implies.

The holiday was enacted to honor the dead that fell for these rights. Rights that are being abridged daily under the auspices of the war on some drugs and the war on terror and in the name of homeland security. The Bush administration is taking your civil liberties away from you one by one, slipping legislation in piecemeal while they distract you with these unwinnable wars.

Enjoy the holiday and the picnics and fireworks but do keep in mind what the celebration is all about and vote in 04 like your life and your liberty depends on it. It does.

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Casting call

In my daily battle to keep my inbox manageable, I've been deleting a lot of these MoveOn emails without even looking but this one really does look interesting. Academy award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris has agreed to produce a series of ads featuring authentic American voices committed to change. According to the promo, "Errol will be selecting a dozen people from those who respond, for on-camera interviews. This series of ads will begin airing at the time of the Democratic Convention. We believe America is ready for a change. Your voice could be part of making it happen."

Sounds good to me. Even if you're not chosen for the video, an award winning filmmaker could be looking at your story. Details on how to apply are available here.
Idaho will pay rats

The Idaho state police are initiating a campaign to pay people to snitch on their friends and neighbors in the ongoing war against our plant. Their unachievable goal is to eliminate cannabis from the state. Not going to happen, but I'll bet some scummy rat will be willing to roll over for $5,000 on otherwise law abiding citizens.

They use the 5,132 plants seized last year, alleged to be worth about 6 million, as justification for this program. Like cannabis plants are the biggest danger to the public? And again, instead of spending millions to kill weeds, in a legal market, that money could be used for the public good and the 6 mil could be going into the municipal revenue stream.

The cops are trying to make it sound like it's not costing the residents anything.

This program is funded by the DEA, BLM, US Forest Service and of course the state police and other local agencies around the state... so that's where the reward money comes from to pay rewards to people for information,” says Det. Sgt. Gaske.

Hello? These are all taxpayer funded organizations. This is money coming directly out of your pocket and paychecks folks. Now you wouldn't you rather be spending that money on schools and other municipal services? I would.

It's time for the prohibition profiteers to admit this war has failed and start looking for a new line of work.

Tick Tock

Thinking about wars, now is always a good time to check this clock and see how much the war in Iraq is costing you right this second. Watch your tax dollars tick away and check for your own town's contribution to the war machine.

While you're at it, you may as well take a look at the Drug War Clock to watch your government squander another 40 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars.

Not a pretty picture.

Another week, another Carnival

Quasi In Rem hosts this week's lineup with a Capitol Hill theme. As always it's loaded with interesting posts from bloggers you might not know and he said some nice stuff about our entry, proving once again that the war on some drugs is a truly non-partisan issue.

While you're there, check out the more of his blog. I don't necessarily agree with the rest of his politics but I like his no nonsense style a lot.