Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year

Well, I'm down to the final push here. In a few hours I'll be leaving lovely downtown Northampton behind. I'll miss this place and I'm not looking forward to the drive as I used to when I was younger. I find the highway stressful these days and I'll be glad when it's all over.

I'll be on the road for the next three days and I don't know if I'll be able to post or not. I do have internet access in the hotel tonight but I don't own a laptop and I'm not sure I'll feel like dragging the desktop unit into the hotel but have no fear, I will be back to regular posting after the first.

If I don't check in before then, thanks for coming around and checking out what this old hippie has to say. Wishing you all a safe and peaceful 2005.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Funny finds

The apartment is finally beginning to look empty. I'm getting down to the detritus now. I tossed the set of those thousands of little tiles but I found this scribbled on the back of an envelope because I wanted to remember my favorite refrigerator poetry poem.

a black storm
I mean purple shadows beneath
a white summer moon

we were there
on the cool blue rock
behind my tiny garden
watching the raw wind

beat the misty lake
with beauty

Money matters

Well friends, I appreciate your patience. While the move continues apace, (along with the drain on my wallet) and it doesn't ever seem to end. The movers came, I got my car checked out -thankfully that mysterious black rubber belt thing won't break on the road now- and my replacement is a quick study. However, there's still the matter of disposing of the remaining debris here. How is that all that little stuff at the end just seems to grow instead of diminish?

I tried live blogging while the movers were here but I was too distracted, however it was a pleasant enough experience. They were two young guys and they were very careful and efficient but also kind of personable. My neighbor David, (who lives in my first apartment in this building) dropped in and confirmed what I always believed, that his place, although otherwise identical is about four inches wider than mine. I sent him home with a plant that needed a good Jewish home.

Meanwhile, I only have time for this one item and it doesn't look like good news to me. It appears the dollar's slide has reached the velocity where the black market now prefers euros. "Drug dealers, Russian oligarchs, and black-market traffickers of all kinds" are opting for a currency "easier to carry, store, and hide than dollars." Not to mention the monetary value. "Since 2002, the growth rate of euros in circulation has far outpaced that of dollars. At today's rates, a 500-euro note is worth $682."

When the black market backs out, it's to time to pay attention. With between 55% and 70% of the $703 billion of U.S. currency outstanding said to be circulating outside the 50 states, this is serious concern.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I'll be back

It's crunch time folks. The movers will here tomorrow, I'm still not packed and I need to spend the day at the office tying up some loose ends. Hope to be back to blogging by later tonight.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Peace on Earth

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I ended up unexpectedly spending the better part of the evening at Tully O'Reilly's. I was walking back from the store and had to stop when I saw Ron Sarazin there. My old boss and former owner of the Baystate Hotel, I hadn't seen him in months and was glad to have a chance to say goodbye.

I was on my way out the door when Harry McColgan, former owner of Tully's bar showed up alone. Long time readers know that Harry and I go way back, so you understand that I could hardly leave him there and really, I was glad for chance to spend some holiday time with him. That hasn't happened since he hooked up with Jeannie.

When I finally managed to get out of the bar, I discovered a friend on the sidewalk who had celebrated just a tad too much and was insisting on driving. Fortunately, he had 'lost' his car and it was freezing cold so I was able to convince him a ride home in a warm car made much more sense. Turned out to be a pretty good Christmas after all, under the circumstances.

For some inmates across the country, it was a slightly better holiday than it could have been as well, thanks to radio station WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The station, said to be popular among big-city inmates being held in isolated prisons in central Appalachia, took its annual Christmas program nationwide this year. They hosted a call-in show that provided a forum for inmates and their families to exchange holiday greetings. More than 40 radio stations also participated by simulcasting the program.

With so many inmates effectively sold to lowest bidder and incarcerated such long distances from their families under the privatized prison system, I found this to be an especially touching and humane gesture that really captured the spirit of the season. Think I'll drop them a note ( and tell them so.

Meanwhile, it's back to the packing again for me. I leave you with one last Christmas thought this morning. I was humming this John Lennon song all day yesterday and really appreciated Wampum posting the lyrics.

And so happy Christmas, For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones, Let's stop all the fight.

A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year,
Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear...

Saturday, December 25, 2004
Christmas coffee break

I'm feeling a little more in control of the moving thing. I have a mover booked for some indeterminate day next week. The guy tells me it's their choice. I look at him like he's from Mars, you know. I mean, they're charging me what and I don't get the choice? Then again, when you call with only a week's notice you kind of have to take what you get. I smiled sweetly and said okay.

I went out and bought some boxes. They aren't cheap either I'll tell you. So far I haven't managed to fill any of them but this I'm taking as a good sign. I'm still in the midst of passing stuff on. I suppose it would be quicker if I could bring myself to throw perfectly good things away but I feel compelled to find good homes for everything.

I mean I really like the stuff or I wouldn't have kept it but it has to have heavy sentimental value before I'm willing to pay more to move it than it would cost to replace. Thus I've had a weeklong free stuff fest on my front porch. I'm happy to report it's going well. I've been forced to take very little all the way to the dumpster so far.

So, I'm feeling mellow enough to catch up on my 'daily' reading and find we have to say goodbye to Alan Heymann at D'Alliance. It appears he's found politics and took a government job. We'll miss you Alan.

Thanks to D'Alliance for posting the text of Tom Angell's encounter with our favorite drug czar. Tom was kind enough to email us about the event as well. He tells us the press conference was well attended and several other pointed questions were asked including some concerning HEA provisions, needle exchange programs and one from a WebMD/Reuters Health reporter about the DEA's persecution of pain management doctors. Angell is a rising star in the SSDP and an irrepressible activist. We all owe this young man a debt of thanks for what he does.

While most everyone is on hiatus, Scott at Grits for Breakfast is blogging on and the whole week is a must read. Just start at the top and start scrolling through his breaking news on red light cameras in Austin, his astute comments on Bush's proposed federal judicial appointments and impending privacy concerns for US citizens, to his update on the legal woes of wretched prosecutor Terry McEachern of Tulia fame.

Jim of Vice Squad is in London. Somehow, he discovers it's a sin to give cigarettes to a monk in Thailand.

Loretta Nall is posting through the holiday as well. I'm sorry to learn her USMJ site has been hacked but happy to see she has a new show up at Pot-TV. She's also acquired a toll free number for Pot TV News viewers to call. If you would like to do a Christmas Shout Out on the next news, call 1-866-304-1196 and leave a 30 second message. She'll play it on the air.

Pete at Drug WarRant is taking a well-deserved break to spend Christmas with his family but he said something really nice about us in this post. Thanks Pete.

And finally, a woefully belated welcome to the blogosphere to David Borden of DRC Net. His new blog, Prohibition and the Media, offers a daily critique of drug reporting by mainstream news outlets. We like it already.

Meanwhile, I'm back to packing....

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Spirits

I'm home alone for the holiday and I'll be packing boxes all weekend so I was a little cranky today to say the least. However, having made some good progress this afternoon and having attended the holiday party at Tully O'Reilly's this evening, I'm in a much better mood. Maybe it was the excellent eggnog, or maybe it was the convivial company, including a rare appearance by daytime bartender Rick and a visit with the irrepressible Harry McColgan, but I went home this evening humming Christmas carols.

I'm off to spread a little more holiday cheer in the neighborhood and I hope you are all finding some as well. Wishing you an yours a peaceful and merry holiday season, whatever event you celebrate.

Gold diggers swarm on drug policy reform

I suppose it was inevitable that the speculators would eventually find a way to profit from drug policy reform and it appears that day has come. has been put up for sale. For a mere 1.5 million you too can cash in on what the press release calls an opportunity for unprecedented press.

"The sale of Marijuana.Com will create a buzz in the industry unlike anything seen before. With the current headlines being grabbed by the Supreme Court looking at Medicinal Marijuana and the local coverage of Marijuana related voter initiatives this sale itself couldn't be timelier. The publicity alone could be worth over a $1,000,000."

Of course they don't give a damn about actual reform. They'll sell the site to anyone with the cash. They pitch Snoop Doggy Dog, suggesting he might he might want to add it to his private stash of property but one suspects they would also sell it to the ONDCP if they came up with the cash first.

Disgusting. It's a sad moment for the movement.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Aussies trade road safety for testing folly

Australia's approach to the war on some drugs is beginning to look more like the US all the time. The government recently instituted roadside saliva testing for 'drugged' drivers. The trouble is, according to the scientific community, the test is flawed and likely to produce false positives.

Just ask John De Jong, the first driver in the world to return a positive roadside saliva test, who was falsely accused of driving under the influence. The government, caring nothing for his welfare, took their sweet time in releasing the results, but it turned out that he was innocent.

However, in true US prohibition profiteering style, "Police Minister Andre Haermeyer yesterday tried to shore up confidence in the tests and said he had full confidence in the system. He said a wrongly accused driver faced 'a little bit of inconvenience'. " He sees no need to apologize.

Further, the government intends to continue the flawed testing. Meanwhile De Jong intends to take legal action. I hope he sues their pants off.

[thanks to Leigh Meyers]

UPDATE: Preston Peet sends in this. It appears the second of three drivers who have been snared by this test was also proved innocent. Jeesh.
Unlikely ally for drug policy reform

Martha Stewart of all people, has seen the light and posts this on her website.

When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas -- hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future -- that I know will be as they always were for me -- beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.

It's unfortunate she had to go to jail to find enlightenment but a big welcome to the reform community to Martha. Hope she follows through on this when she gets out.

[thanks to JackL]

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Victims of the war

Well, we're getting down to the wire here on the big move and I'm officially panicking. I don't see how I'm going to get everything done in the next ten days. Posting is likely to be spotty while I make this happen. Meanwhile, there's a couple of interesting stories on the wire this morning.

Diane Monson, the other plaintiff in Raich v. Ashcroft, has been singled out by the state of California to be retested for her driver's license. This is generally only done when drivers have had serious accidents or multiple drug and alcohol convictions. However, Monson says her only infraction was a speeding ticket. Her lawyer says she was singled out for her views.

In other news, according to a study done by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs declined slightly among teenagers in 2004, but dangerous inhalants and the highly addictive prescription painkiller Oxycontin are becoming more popular. The use of inhalants such as paint thinner, glue and gasoline increased sharply among eighth-graders in 2003 and continued to rise this year, a sign that inhaling, or "huffing," is rebounding in popularity after many years of decline."

Another unintended consequence of the war on some drugs. Better the kids should be smoking pot. It would do them much less harm than huffing chemical fumes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This day in history

I had forgotten about this. On this day in 1970, Elvis Presley met with President Richard M. Nixon in the Oval Office to discuss fighting drugs. The meeting occurred after Presley wrote a six-page letter requesting a visit with Nixon and suggested that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Rather ironic in that Presley later died from an overdose of prescription medications.

Drug policy reformers cross their T's

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's feature article this week is on Change the Climate's recent court battle with the MBTA over the posting of their ads in MBTA stations. As we told you earlier, Change the Climate prevailed and the court ordered the MBTA to run the ads. The T had rejected them on the grounds that they "could encourage young people to smoke pot." The 1st Circuit ruled the rejection constituted "'viewpoint discrimination' and had stifled a legitimate opinion; i.e., that marijuana should be legalized."

To Boston lawyer Harvey A. Schwartz, who represented Change the Climate, this was always a simple matter. It was not a case about pot. It was a case about protecting people's right to engage in controversy through free speech.

"Controversy," he muses. "That's the whole point of free speech. You don't need the Constitution to protect boring speech."

The T brought in witness Cornelia Kelley, the head of the Boston Latin School, to speak about the way her students would respond to the marijuana ads. Kelley said, "There is a message there that marijuana is okay; it's not as bad as cocaine or heroin. And the message, to my mind, that's a very confusing message for young people. There is a sense there that marijuana is acceptable."

Reported to be the turning point of the case, Schwartz's cross examination was brilliant.

The lawyer produced an ad for Doc Watson "hard lemonade" that had already been posted in MBTA subways. The ad read: "Do it on the rocks."
The exchange between Schwartz and Kelley then went as follows:

Q. Do you believe the MBTA should allow this ad to be posted where your students can see it going back and forth to school?

A. Apparently the MBTA has already made that decision.

Q. Well, I know, but you've already told us that you believe the MBTA should not post the three ads that my client wants posted. Do you believe the MBTA should post that ad?

A. I think the difference ...

Q. No, ma'am. The question was: Do you believe the MBTA should post that? Yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And it doesn't concern you that your students are told to "Do it on the rocks" with an alcoholic beverage on their way to and from school?

A. I didn't say that.

Q. It does concern you?

A. It concerns me ...
Schwartz also established that students could, in fact, express the same views expressed in the ads (i.e., that marijuana should be legalized) and not be disciplined:

Q. So if one of your students in a debating class wants to express the viewpoint that "Police are too important ... too valuable ... too good ... to waste on arresting people for marijuana when real criminals are on the loose," if he expressed that viewpoint, would you suspend or expel him?

A. After school hours? No.

Q. What about in a school-related debating club?

A. It would depend on the set of circumstances in which it took place.

Q. Okay. But you recognize that students are allowed by law to have that viewpoint if they want, don't you?

A. I recognize that we all have different viewpoints. We all have different thoughts and ideas.

Q. And if a student wants to express this viewpoint, he's certainly allowed to say these words, isn't he?

A. Given the appropriate venue.

Judge Keeton of the lower court was not swayed but the 1st Circuit saw the logic in Schwartz's argument.

Picking up on Schwartz's cross-examination with Kelley, the 1st Circuit later found that: "The MBTA's own evidence fails to support its argument. Headmaster Kelley's point was not that the [ad] would induce drug use, but the rather different point that the Ad presented a 'mixed message.' The mixed nature of the message was about which drugs were legal and which were not; thus her concern was that the ad would promote confusion about whether marijuana use was illegal. The MBTA's conclusion, however, requires an additional step — that the ads would not only confuse teenagers about marijuana's illegal status, but that this confusion would then lead teenagers to smoke marijuana. Neither step in the reasoning is supported by the record."

In an interesting side point, counsel for the MBTA, Rudolph F. Pierce of Boston was once counsel for the Pru Cinema, which had to hire the lawyer in order to pursue the right to air adult movies like "Behind The Green Door" and "Devil and Mrs. Jones." Guess he believes in First Amendment protections for porn but not for drug policy reform. Hard to figure how he could argue on both sides.

Meanwhile, the fight for free speech is not over for good. The MBTA has redefined its rules on allowing ads that have been judged constitutionally acceptable. "The fine-tuned guidelines have a list of specific items excluded from advertising, ranging from material "demeaning or disparaging individuals or a group," depictions of firearms, nudity, obscenity or political ads."

One expects they will refuse future drug policy reform advertising as unacceptable on political grounds.

Monday, December 20, 2004
High rollers

The Moderate Voice has an interesting post on the smuggling of illegal aliens out of Mexico. It appears they're making good use of the border casinos in their trade. What struck me though was the parallels between the trafficking of humans and the trafficking of drugs. Here's the money quote.

" along the county's urban border areas has increasingly tightened. In the past 10 years, the federal government has added fences, surveillance equipment and more than 1,000 Border Patrol agents."

"...This enforcement has turned human trafficking into a growth industry. Where many undocumented immigrants once crossed into the San Diego area on foot alone or with inexpensive guides, illegal border crossers are now charged thousands of dollars to be brought into the country, often through remote areas where the border remains porous."

The obvious lesson being strict prohibition promotes crime, it doesn't prevent it.

Meanwhile, thanks to Joe Gandelman for pointing out there's a Traffic Jam at Outside the Beltway.

Lunch links

Good letter to the editor in the Utah Tribune on medical marijuana.

Loretta Nall points us to a story on a new program in Alabama where the schools will pay kids to rat on each other. As Loretta points out, there's a lot of room for abuse in that scheme between teenagers who might want to get back at someone they don't like and make a little pocket change besides.

Ricky Williams is back in the news. He says he quit football to keep his failed drug test secret, which I find a bit silly considering he has no problem admitting he is still consuming cannabis regularly.

And there's a new game in town. The hot new Christmas gift in Canada this year is a board game that lets players run their own "B.C. Bud" marijuana farm.

A Christmas Story

It's been snowing since last night here in lovely downtown Noho and it doesn't look like it's going to stop soon. It's pretty of course, but they say the say the windchill is below zero. I'm not looking forward to going out in it - I would have much preferred to keep packing and watch it out the window today. Since that's not an option, I leave you with this rather sad Christmas tale this morning.

Peter Wayne is a heroin addict who has only spent three Christmases out of jail since 1974. His Christmas on the outside is just as bleak. He tells his story here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Prohibition Profiteers

This editorial by Froma Harrop is worth going through the tiresome free reg to read. She's come up with the numbers on how maintaining the prohibition budget profits those who fight to keep it.

About $69 billion of it last year went to police, federal agents, judges, jailers and other drug-law enforcers across the United States. These are the good guys, but most are not so good that they will admit that the war on drugs is a waste of money and lives. The war is how they make a living.

She points out the hypocrisy of Judge Breyer's admonition in the Raich case, that reformers should go to the FDA for approval, while the DEA is blocking the ability of scientists to do the research to prove its efficacy.

Do the math: The DEA has nearly 11,000 employees and a $2 billion budget. America last year arrested 1.6 million people for nonviolent drug offenses. Half were for marijuana (with 80 percent for possession). The number of marijuana arrests, 734,000, nearly equaled the population of South Dakota. Imagine what legalizing marijuana would do to the DEA's cash flow.

The profits go beyond law enforcement.

Marijuana has yet to kill anyone, yet anti-drug advocacy groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America portray it as a scourge. And why not? Condemning marijuana helps score $20 million in annual revenues for the Manhattan-based nonprofit. Its president makes a quarter of a million, and the next five highest-paid employees rake in close to $200,000 apiece.

And think of the other peripheral businesses like drug testing companies. Harrop sums the problem up well, ..."the smallest retreat is billions in lost revenues for the warriors. And that's why the bureaucrats and every player in this war will fight against legalizing medical marijuana, for as long as it takes."

As I've said before, prohibition is about private profit, not public safety.

Wisconsin court recognizes California law

This is good news. Although it won't set any precedents, a Wisconsin circuit court judge dismissed criminal charges against a woman based on her California prescription for the medicine. The DA was agog.

I've been doing this for 17 years and this is the first such prescription I've seen," said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Calkins, the prosecutor in the case.

Nothing happens overnight but every such common sense ruling from any bench takes us a step closer to real drug policy reform. Some days it looks like we're winning this war.
Poetic justice

Public Regulation Commissioner E. Shirley Baca's troubles are far from over. The Commission has asked the attorney general and the secretary of state to decide whether her recent drug possession charge violated a state ethics code. It appears Ms. Zero Tolerance may fall victim to her own inane policies.

Meanwhile in Nebraska, the recent arrest of Lincoln Police Cpl. Diana Short on felony charges of marijuana distribution will probably result in the drug testing of the entire police force.

"It’ll be soon," Lincoln Police Chief Bob Rawlins said, referring to the upcoming drug screenings. "But how soon, I can’t tell you."

Guess he wants to his guys plenty of time to get those urine cleansers to work.

Senior citizens support MMJ

This is interesting. A year and half ago my friends scoffed when I told them medical marijuana would become a major issue in the near future. I have to think we're hitting the mainstream when the AARP polls its membership on the subject. Over all, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it."

Call for graphic designers

Mass Cann is holding a design contest for next year's Freedom Rally t-shirts. The winning artist will have their work featured in High Times magazine and Boston-area print media, will receive a free year's membership and other perks. Details are available here.

Simmons sells out

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons made a big splash a while back with his "Drop the Rock" campaign designed to encourage young people to get involved in repealing the horrendous Rockefeller Laws in NY state. He held a very successful concert in NYC and was subsequently invited to take part in the negotiations with legislators.

Now, many months later, the "reformed laws" are being announced with great fanfare. The trouble is, the so-called reform is negligible and the real activists who led the movement are calling Simmons a "nightmare" who "destroyed" attempts to get the Rockefeller Drug Law penalties repealed.

I tend to agree. Simmons, while he may have initially had good intentions, in the end used his celebrity to further his own career and sold out the cause.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Sweet success

Well I'm back on the road tomorrow afternoon, heading back to Noho after a short but successful trip. I found a lovely house here for less than I'm paying up north for a tiny apartment and a quick check of the local scene appears promising. The new town is pretty small but it feels sort of like Noho in the old days. It has an amazing amount of cultural offerings for such a tiny population and the town seems to support an wide range of businesses including an extraordinary number of lawyers. Most importantly for me, I'm only a block away from a pretty nice river. I never feel quite right if I'm not near a body of water.

Posting should be back to normal by tomorrow night but meanwhile I have a lot to do tomorrow morning so I leave you with this story on Chronic Candy, a marijuana-flavored lollipop and gumdrop line that claims "every lick is like taking a hit," that has NYC lawmakers in a snit.

Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, chairwoman of the Substance Abuse Committee said of the sweets, "To produce this kind of candy is sickening. This is targeted to children." She promised to sponsor a council resolution condemning the confection.

The candy, although its marketing scheme mimics the cannabis market, doesn't actually contain any psychoactive ingredients. It's a hemp based product and the only buzz it produces comes from sugar. However that doesn't stop the politicians from taking a hard line.

Councilman Bill Perkins (D-Harlem) was quoted as saying that the candies are "clearly perpetuating a culture that is unhealthy. It is unacceptable and needs to be taken off the market."

Maybe someone should tell him the courts recently ruled that hemp food is a legal product and it seems a bit disingenuous to be railing about their marketing in light of sales campaigns using sex to sell everything from cars to sneakers to toothpaste, fast food promotions for really unhealthy food and of course the ads that glamorize cigarette and alcohol consumption.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No place like home

It was a long trip down last night and an even longer day with real estate agents today and I'm beat so just a quick post tonight. The stories of my interesting airport encounters and some hysterically bad properties I saw today will have to wait until I'm back in Noho on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, I found this interesting blog, The Dust Congress, in my referral logs today. Only had the energy to take a quick look at it tonight but it appears to be destined for the blogroll.

I found this to be sad for some reason. Lisa Marie is keeping Graceland but is otherwise selling the bulk of the Elvis estate, including rights to her father's name and image, in a deal worth approximately $100 million. I don't think I'd be willing to sell out my own dad that cheap.

Just in time for Christmas, some Scrooge has invented an internet virus that masquerades as a holiday e-card. This one sounds particularly smart, it speaks several languages, so fair warning, whatever you do, don't click on any attachments even if they appear to come from a friend.

And not to neglect the drug war entirely, here's the corrupt prohibitionist of the week. A fired drug screener was free on bond after he was accused of having sex with a woman in exchange for a false report that there were no sign of drugs in her urine. It's as I often say, give a little man a little power and he turns into a big jerk.

Then there's this macabre bust. Oklahoma Highway Patrol found 610 lbs of marijuana in a shipment of caskets. The troopers found the pot when they stopped the truck for going 6 miles over the speed limit. Right. I'll bet the drivers were either black or had long hair or something.

Finally, more proof that cannabis consumers are responsible citizens. An Illinois police officer and her husband (who is a paramedic) were arrested for having 10-20 marijuana plants growing in their home. (Where do they come up with a number like that? I mean how hard can it be to get accurate count on such a small grow?) And there's this dentist, charged after state troopers found more than 200 marijuana plants growing in his barn, who was sentenced to five years in federal prison and a $250.00 fine. Odd to see a fine so low and no forfeiture in a case like this. The details are sketchy but I'd like to think he convinced the court that it was for personal use.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Posting on the fly

Posting is likely to be erratic today. I'm off on a short trip to secure housing down south and probably won't be back on line until tonight. Meanwhile, here's something to hold you until then, spiders on drugs including photos.

State Public Regulation Commissioner E. Shirley Baca says she won't resign in the wake of her arrest on drug charges. The little hypocrite denies the possession of the cannabis filled pipe she was caught with and further says she still supports a zero tolerance policy.

And an Australian man was arrested for a grow-op three years after the fact when police found a video he made of the project.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

DEA says no to UMASS pot researcher

Well after stalling for three years, the DEA - after being pressed to respond by the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. - has issued a 'preliminary denial' against the proposed project of Lyle Craker, a horticulturist at UMASS who specializes in medicinal plants.

The DEA claims that the University of Mississippi provides researchers "marijuana of sufficient quantity and quality to meet all their legitimate and authorized research needs in a timely manner." Read that as - let them research using schwag.

The DEA has a vested interest in keeping this plant illegal and should not be in a position to dictate policy on this. Craker, who intended to grow high grade cannabis to provide to researchers, will now have to take his case to the courts, which thankfully he intends to do.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Good kids behaving badly

Funny, I was just thinking I shouldn't have called these kids dumb when I noticed Jackl's comment.

"A spokesman for the ski area in Steamboat Springs says the sheriff was called in because of complaints the gondola was filled with smoke and that it reeked of marijuana."

We disagree about "dumb kids"...there's nothing sacred about smoking pot in a ski gondola...if you're not with other peeps and you open the window to let smoke out. Done it many times myself...that's the whole point of going skiing.

They probably are intelligent kids, even nice kids and God knows I'm no angel here myself. For instance, I smoked hash on the Staten Island Ferry in 1970 - but discretely - out of respect for the rest of the passengers. This incident strikes me as arrogant disregard for others.

It's one thing to indulge in youthful recklessness, but it's really inconsiderate to leave a gondola full of smoke for the next group who are probably non-consumers. Think about it, there could be young children in the next load. Sorry Jack, but their careless behavior reflects on all consumers and makes a case for the prohibition, not for the cause. I call it irresponsible behavior and I think that's not so smart.

Celestial wonders

I love meteor showers but somehow I only just found out about this moments ago. They're predicting a major Geminid display for tonight. The best viewing will be from overseas however North America can expect a satisfying showing as well. Best viewing times appear to be between 10pm and 2am. Viewing predictions from selected cities are here.

Bizarre ruling in NY State appeals court

This is just wrong. The court upheld a man's conviction for possession of drugs in New York, even though the man and the drugs were in California at the time of his arrest.

Alvaro Carvajal, 52, was convicted in a New York court of conspiracy and drug possession and sentenced in 1996 to 35 years to life in prison. He was arrested as part of a two-year investigation into a drug ring that prosecutors allege moved huge quantities of cocaine from San Francisco to New York..

The defendant appealed the possession conviction on the grounds that he never had cocaine in New York. The court didn't think that indisputable fact mattered.

"There was ample evidence that regardless of where he was situated, (Carvajal) at all times exercised continued dominion and control over the drugs that were seized," the court wrote.

Even the court admits that the ruling is unprecedented and needless to say Carvajal's lawyer will appeal the decision to a higher court, as well he should. Under this precedent, anyone the government wants to take down could be convicted. This shouldn't happen in America.

Chong on the comeback

After all he's been through in the last year or so, it's good to see things are looking up for Tommy Chong.

Since his July release from prison, he has been finishing an autobiography and plans to return next year to "That '70s Show" and his recurring role as Leo, the stoned-out, aging hippie. He doesn't know yet how his absence will be explained.

After that, there is the long-awaited return of Cheech and Chong. He and Cheech Marin haven't made a film together in 20 years, but a new one is in the works.

Ironically, the world's most well known stoner says he hasn't smoked marijuana in two years. He advises it wasn't hard to give it up because it's not physically addictive.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A tragic loss

This horrifying news just in. Pulitizer prize winning investigative journalist and my compatriot from the JSchool, Gary Webb has died of what they're calling self inflicted gunshot wounds. I find it hard to believe he would take his own life and I won't be surprised to find the investigation turns up suspicious circumstances down the line.

Nonetheless, we are all poorer for his passing. He was a kind and generous man. Rest in peace Gary.

Sunday funnies

Figuring we all need a break once in a while, this has nothing to do with the drug war.

I'm not vouching for the science, just reporting the findings, but if you're one of those guys who is worried about that thinning hairline - this is supposed to help. Hey it's worth a try.

It's nice to know that even the rich and famous sometimes have stinky feet.

Cashing in on the mystical toast craze. Big money in freaky food these days.

Faith based crime prevention.

[Via Ananova]

They'll think about that tomorrow

Ron Jacobs at Counterpunch today, points out that even soldiers who were perfectly straight in civilian life might be tempted to take drugs while serving on active duty in combat zones. I mean really, is a guy who faces imminent death every minute of the day going to worry about possible health effects in the future?

Tis the season

Here's a couple of stories for the season. These kids certainly had a good gimmick and this guy definitely has the Christmas spirit.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Around the net

I didn't know there was such a thing as a joint US/UK confiscation order. It would appear to be a lucrative partnership. Seems each country got a cool 10 million when they seized some alleged Colombia money launderer's assets.

The US Supreme Court upheld the use of hallucinogenic tea by the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal in their religious ceremonies.

Keeping the heat on the poster girl for inhumanity, Judge Retchin, Colbert King at the WaPo is still writing about Jonathan Magbie's tragic death while in custody. The WaPo also reports the D.C. inspector general's office has launched an inquiry into his death.

And more dumb kids giving responsible cannabis consumers a bad name.

Politics of pain management

Radley Balko points us to an editorial I missed on Friday in the USA Today of all places, that chides the DEA for its prosecution of pain management doctors. It makes the right points.

The government "can investigate (physicians) merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurances that it is not," DEA warns. That sends a clear message: Doctors who prescribe a high volume of painkillers to alleviate suffering, the very purpose of medicine, will face intense scrutiny.

The bottom line: Patients, particularly the estimated 25 million Americans who are at least partially disabled by chronic pain, will find it tougher to obtain relief. Physicians who fear losing their licenses or liberty will limit the prescribing of narcotics, and many pharmacies will be reluctant to dispense them.

To be sure, drug seekers do scam physicians, a tiny handful of whom are indeed drug pushers. Doctors must take care to ensure that patients don't become addicted to painkillers, as happened to radio host Rush Limbaugh. And stopping illegal diversion of drugs is important. But it shouldn't hinder patients' ability to receive the care they deserve or scare doctors away from using sound medical judgment.

Radley also links us to a report by Jacob Sullum on the trial of pain doctor, William Hurwitz who thinks the jury should acquit him. I hope he's right, it would help.

Need and weed

This is just sad. One wonders what kind of desperation would have driven her to do it. But this, (over-valued as usual) is just silly in this day and age. I mean Broward county? What were they thinking?

Blog watch

Playing catch up here this morning, decrimwatch already pointed to this excellent post at Power and Control on genetic discrimination. But in case you missed it, M. Simon explains the science of addiction and cannibinoid receptors and makes some pithy remarks on the inhumanity of our current punishment model for treating addicts.

Grits for Breakfast has the scoop on the current corruption and the thankfully somewhat diminishing influence of drug task forces in Texas and around the nation, here and here.

Loretta Nall reports on a proposed book ban in Alabama that targets homosexuals but could effectively be used to suppress discussion of drug policy reform by banning state funds from being used to purchase any educational materials that "sanction, recognize, foster or promote "homosexuality and similar activities that violate state law."

Loretta points out that under the language of the law, printing the law itself would be illegal. It occurs to me that programs like DARE would be illegal too. Hmmm.

Americans for Safe Access forcing FDA to face medical marijuana

Dean Kuipers has a great piece on Feds v. Meds analyzing the issues around regulatory relief. He offers up an interesting explanation of ASA's challenge brought forward under the little known Data Quality Act to counter the FDA's resistance to taking up the issue. The FDA of course is currently aided in their quest to deny rescheduling by the DEA's refusal to release a mere ten grams of cannabis for scientific study.

Dean also tells of the little publicized case of Michael Teague.

Like Angel Raich, Michael Teague is not the guy who comes to mind when you imagine a dangerous drug user wanted by federal authorities. On April 2, 2003, Orange County Sheriff's deputies searched his garage in Tustin and found 102 to 108 marijuana plants, about half of them only one-inch high clones. Teague was then 33 and the modestly successful owner of Aqua Chemical, a pool-cleaning service, and the Sheriff's Department treated this as a big score.

At least, until he pulled out his prescription for medical marijuana. Teague had injured four vertebrae in his back while wrestling in high school, and as he went through years of treatments it was discovered that he was allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers - in fact, most synthetic pain killers. His doctor then got him on pot, and it worked.

"I never smoked until they told me I needed it," says Teague, speaking by phone from a halfway house in Garden Grove, where he is finishing the last month of what has turned out to be an 18-month sentence. "I didn't get stoned every day. I don't even drink alcohol. I only smoked a few times a week at night so I could sleep on the pain. I've never done anything wrong in my life."

The state court refused to convict him so the local law enforcement convinced the feds to get involved. A judge sentenced him to 18 months and remanded him to federal prison the first day he appeared in federal court. Thanks to prosecutorial maneuvering, on January 9, 2005, he will have served his full sentence in Terminal Island - his appeal never having been heard.

So much for speedy justice.

Friday, December 10, 2004

New Mexico bureaucrat busted for pot

Loretta Nall is on a roll this week. She posts an interesting article on New Mexico Public Regulation Commission member E. Shirley Baca who was arrested when airport screeners found a pipe filled with marijuana in her luggage. This is latest in string of embarrassing arrests of New Mexico's officials for substance abuse.

In June 2003, Baca spoke harshly about substance abuse among PRC employees when chief of staff Patrick Baca was charged with driving drunk. She said at the time she would consider asking that Patrick Baca be terminated or suspended regardless of the outcome of his case in court.

"Personally," she said at the time, "I think that top-ranking staff need to set an example for the whole department, as well as elected officials."

Baca's words may now come to haunt her.
Maybe if they ignore it, it will just go away...

The debate continues among the prohibitionists as to whether the super-coca plant really exists. We discussed this here before and I think this theory is probably right, the plant just naturally mutated in response to the repeated bombing with herbicides but as usual, the Bush administration denies it even exists. Can't blame them I suppose, it really makes their assertions that they're winning against cocaine producers look silly. The BBC weighs in on the story with this piece and Loretta Nall points us to this one in the Financial Times that rehashes the government's fantasy.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I am not alone

I thought I was the only one but the referral log indicates that there are a lot of women who hate shopping.

Cannabis policy - Science and propaganda

The Canadians are different than us. They use common sense on cannabis policy. Researchers at Montreal's McGill University will follow 1,400 patients with chronic pain, 350 of which will be using research grade marijuana as part of their pain management program in order to study the safety of the plant for this use.

Meanwhile in the homeland, Mark Souder introduced a bill in Congress designed to "educate" the public on the dangers of the herb. Meaning he wants to spends millions more disseminating the same debunked propaganda the prohibitionists have been using to justify their criminal waste of our tax dollars on this failed War on Some Drugs.

Unsurprisingly, the Drug Free America Foundation endorses the bill. They have this to say about us.

"What this Bill will do is separate the deceit of the drug legalization advocates' hidden agenda from the needs of the terminally ill. We have never taken issue with the truly sick who need legitimate medicine; we take issue with the wealthy businessmen who want to profit from their suffering. We also take issue with illegal drug users who want to toke up under the guise of using 'medicine.'"

Right. As if they don't support the arrest of terminally ill patients in their hospital beds for using a plant that gives them relief from horrible symptoms. Their thinly veiled reference to Soros says it all and shows just how stupid their arguments are. Soros doesn't make money from drugs, he gives money to drug policy reform. Big difference. And just because those of us who support full legalization also support medical marijuana, doesn't mean they're not two separate issues.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Speaking of drug policy...

Drug Policy Alliance will be holding a live web chat wrap-up on the year in drug policy reform -- and a discussion of the opportunities and challenges the drug-policy-reform movement will face in 2005, tonight at 6 p.m. (EST).

Executive director Ethan Nadelmann will moderate the discussion, and will be joined by other Alliance staff, including public policy director Michael Blain, attorney Judy Appel, and others.

To listen, please visit this page.

Sense and nonsense

This is interesting. "A small group of popular Korean celebrities will gather in Seoul on Thursday to call for the legalization of marijuana."

Meanwhile, "joined by the head of the National Medical Association and the owner of a black-owned advertising firm, John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced yesterday a new ad campaign that encourages black parents to take stronger steps to stop their children from experimenting with marijuana."

Once again, our drug czar will be spending millions of our tax dollars on a faith-based PR effort to convince black parents that simply telling their kids not to take drugs will stop them from experimenting. Walters doesn't like the reality-based thinking currently embraced by the parents that acknowledges no matter what you do, the kids are going to use them.

And of course the whole campaign ignores the fact that the kids are free to do drugs because chances are, their fathers are in jail for non-violent drug offenses themselves and the mothers are out there working three part time jobs to make enough money to put food on the table. It would do more good if they simply granted the PR budget to the parents directly so they could take time off to be home with their kids.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Reality based drug policy works - denial doesn't

I read the Fall River News every day because we've had a First Amendment case going there for the last 8 years. The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent a dozen women from showing their bare breasts at a bar located in an industrial park far from the center of town and the taxpayers support it.

I've never been to Fall River but I could drive around without a map I've spent so many hours studying the city. It's an old mill town that's trying to find a new more gentrified identity. However, not unlike Springfield for instance, it's still caught up in a "good old boy" political system and driven by an electorate comprised of a largely Catholic population of Mediterranean immigrants with deep roots in the lifestyle of the old country. I wouldn't be surprised to learn the city went for Bush based on the gay marriage issue.

It's this kind of head in the sand thinking that informs the mayor's statement on the city's rejection of a clean needle program. "I don't support them for Fall River," Lambert said. "It's a subject that had some limited debate six or seven years ago, but my position has not changed." In other words it won't get him any votes and he's been mayor for a long time.

It's a politically effective stance but it does nothing for the public health and safety. As Nancy Paull, executive director for the Greater Fall River HIV/AIDS Consortium said,

There is no debate. This would help to stop the spread of disease," she said. "It's ridiculous. The bottom line is people are addicted and we need to have a needle exchange."

Numbers from the Consortium show that needle use is a major factor in the transmission of HIV. About 75 percent of all new HIV cases in Fall River can be traced to injection use, and 45 percent of those receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS transmitted the disease directly from needle injections, according to Consortium figures.

You pay dearly for this policy as a taxpayer. A lot of these users are indigent and end up in publicly funded treatment. Trust me on this, I didn't do heroin but I spent a period of time among addicts in my day. If you don't give them fresh needles, they will just share the one someone managed to get, until it's too blunt to pierce their skin.

It's a horrible paradox. If they don't get the drug into their system they could die from the withdrawal now or they could take a chance on dying at some undetermined time in the future from using the dirty needle. What choice can you reasonably think a person in that kind of desperation would make?

Needle exchange demonstrably works. There are four municipalities who have instituted the policy. Boston, Cambridge, Provincetown and my own Northampton. [Which reads interestingly like a tour schedule for major musical acts in the Northeast.]. I've seen it succeed.

It costs pennies to give an addict a needle. It costs hundreds of thousands to treat addicts for HIV and hepatitis. You pay either way. What makes more sense? Admit addicts exist and help them avoid the easily preventable exchange of a costly disease or throw good money after bad to ignore the problem?

Lunchtime links

Nasty afternoon out there. The snow gave way to freezing rain. Roads to be okay but the sidewalks are treacherous and the trees are glazed. It's still pretty but it's a lot nicer to be looking at it from the window instead of walking the street.

Meanwhile, I couple of quick links. Winnipeg police, in a rare moment of honesty, admit they overestimated the haul on a recent bust of a grow up in the city. They only found just over half of the 10,000 plants originally reported. Still a big bust but it goes to show how the reports on the worth of these busts get inflated.

Decrimwatch points us to a good LTE on the biblical implications of cannabis prohibition. Turns out the bible is against it. As Steve points out, "prohibition promotes much more immorality than any drug."

Finally, I'm delighted to report I can access Drug WarRant again. It appears it was a Comcast problem. I can't wait to stop giving these jerks my money for internet access. One plus for going through the hell of moving. Believe me I'm going to give them an earful when I dump the service.

Out of time

Slept in this morning and woke up to a thin layer of snow downtown. In a way I'm glad to see some of the white stuff before I leave town, it's beautiful you know, but I'm not looking forward to the cold and icy walk to work. Speaking of which, I'm major late already so check in this afternoon for drug war news.

Monday, December 06, 2004

'I must be shutting up like a telescope.' [Alice in Wonderland]

I wish my tshirt collection was small enough to fit into the bureau in tonight's graphic, coming to us thanks to Kathleen, a cyber-friend who I finally had the pleasure of meeting in person on Friday. She and Jack joined Elmer Elevator and myself for an evening of fun and frivolity that included a stellar show at Pearl Street by Medeski, Martin & Wood and ended in the wee hours of the morning. Kat makes these charming tiny art pieces.

Meanwhile posting is off today because I spent my lunch hour reviewing moving bids and talking to realtors. I spent a long time last night looking at tshirts. I rarely wear them and I have dozens I can't part with for silly sentimental reasons. The one I literally bought off Abbie Hoffman's back for $8 in 1987 goes without saying. My ACLU shirts are coming even though I'll probably never wear them and what do with all the band shirts?

I collected a lot of tshirts in over a decade of 'angeling' local bands. So what would I leave behind? My 1992 Angry Johnny? The 93 Herschler Brothers? Ed Vadas' 50th Birthday Party? One of the last surviving tshirts from the Baystate Hotel that I only own through the largesse of Paul Shoul? Can't do it. Some memories are just too precious to leave behind, no matter how big a box it takes to hold them. It's still a load I'm willing to carry.

Officer - We've been robbed

The moving thing is bogging me down so I only time for a quick note this morning.

I don't know if I'd call these the dumbest criminals in the world, in fact I wouldn't even call them criminals, but they probably should have remembered that marijuana is still illegal in the US and reporting the loss of their stash to the police could only lead to trouble. Especially if you tell the cops you were planning to sell it. But hey at least they were honest. They should get some credit for that.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Blog Talking

Drug WarRant seems to be off line for some reason but Pete's posting over at The Agitator with no problem so check out his posts there, especially his excellent round-up of drug war news.

Grits for Breakfast has been posting up a storm. Start at the top and just keep scrolling and be sure not to miss the photo essay on the fabulous mural his wife is painting under the deck. She should probably quit her day job and take up painting as a career.

Vice Squad is lamenting the end of the puzzling Canadian importation of Romanian strippers.

Meanwhile in the spirit of the season, Loretta Nall reports on a gift giving program for children of incarcerated non-violent drug offenders that she is involved in organizing
No such thing as a drug free society

A new study released Thursday shows 44% of Americans take at least one prescription drug. One in six take at least three. I'm one of them and even with co-pays, they are not cheap. But here's the money quote.

The study also found that spending on health climbed 9.3 percent in 2002 to $1.6 trillion. Prescription drugs, which make up about one-tenth of the total medical bill, were the fastest growing expenditure. The price of drugs rose 5 percent, but wider use of medicines pushed total expenditures up 15.3 percent in 2002. Drug expenditures have risen at least 15 percent every year since 1998.

Meanwhile, it turns out the 12 year old who fatally shot his grandparents in South Carolina had his dose of Zoloft doubled two days before the tragic event. That's right, the extremely powerful psychoactive drug is being prescribed for a child because the pharmaceutical companies suppressed years of research showing it could cause just such suicidal and/or anti-social behavior.

Ironically we spend billions of tax dollars every year to 'protect' our children and the terminally ill from marijuana, a natural herb which probably would have done the child a lot more good. Make no mistake about it, the refusal of our government to even allow proper research into the plant and the foisting off of undertested and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs on the American public has everything to do with profit and nothing to do with safety.
Sex and Drugs and John Walters

Meth eventually destroys the sex drive, but for a short while it can boost sexual appetite and performance more powerfully than drugs such as cocaine, doctors say.

I didn't know this. I don't recall it being true about the meth in the 60s - we used it stay awake. Cocaine was the drug associated with great sex then, but the drugs were purer so maybe it's just the chemical composition of the "new meth". In any event a survey of addicts revealed that sex is the number one reason people start using the drug.

"The effect of an IV hit of methamphetamine is the equivalent of 10 orgasms all on top of each other lasting for 30 minutes to an hour, with a feeling of arousal that lasts for another day and a half," she said.

There is a down side of course.

"After you have been using it about six months or so you can't have sex unless you are high," Holley said. "After you have been using it a little bit longer you can't have sex even when you're high. Nothing happens. It doesn't work."

Meanwhile our drug czar is concerned that consumers are being misled.

"All substance abuse is frequently marketed as enhancing sex life or making you more attractive or a better social companion," said John Walters, the drug czar for President Bush. But he added that buying meth as an aphrodisiac is "buying under false pretenses."

"Hair falls out. Teeth fall out," Walters said. "That's not sexy."

And you thought he didn't care...

Sunday morning fun

Here's a photo that will amuse the bird watchers of the Cannabina Linnet. Check out where they're perched.

If you like on-line polls, here's one at the Collegiate Times on medical marijuana. Currently in favor of MMJ 79 to 24. I was the 103rd voter. They could use some participation over there.

Interesting hit in the referral logs today. Somebody googled "Drug Policies and the Consequences" and I showed up at number seven but the prior hits were pretty impressive.

Saturday, December 04, 2004
Reality based child rearing

Tony Newman posts a lovely essay at Alternet this week about how his parents dealt with his adolescent substance experimentation by using a reality-based no abstinence approach. They all agreed the parents would rather not he experiment but if he was determined to do so, it would be in his own yard. They built him a shed for the purpose and he and his neighborhood friends lived out their teenage recklessness in safety under their unobtrusive but nonetheless watchful eye. They all grew up to become responsible and productive citizens.

It reminded me of my high school friend Billy Michael. His parents built him a shed, a glorious rustic affair with comfortable seating and a wood stove, where we all spent many hours safely getting through our own adolescent explorations. Like Newman's parents, Will and Dolores had it right. They knew we were in there smoking pot and watching crayon colored candles burn into overlapping puddles of hot slush but the important thing was, they knew where we were.

We all turned out pretty well also. In fact my boyfriend from that time started a business that provided him with a six figure income. My mother never did forgive me for letting him go.

Quote of the Day

"While it is possible to make a drug out of an herb, it is not possible to make an herb out of a drug. In objective reality, there isn't a "drug" on this planet that produces seed."

Paul J. von Hartmann

Law Enforcement Speaks

A new report released by DrugStrategies and the Police Foundation, "Drugs and Crime Across America: Police Chiefs Speak Out" reveals that a majority of the police chiefs interviewed believe that drug abuse is rising and the current approach to the War on Some Drugs is not working to address the problem. They call for more emphasis on public health and treatment options. Read the report here.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Send lawyers, guns and money...

Thanks to Sherri Secor for sending in this link to Strike the Root. Emiliano has a fabulous essay posted on Guns, Drugs and Mucho Dinero that looks at Bush's recent visit with President Uribe of Colombia and discusses the greater failures and indignities of the War on Some Drugs.

Money and power are the main factors that propel the war. The "illegal" drug trade is extremely profitable, making it possible for drug dealers and terrorist to live lavishly, bribe corrupt government officials and purchase sophisticated weaponry. History has already taught us that the legal status of the product (prohibition) will not deter its use or consumption, but will attract criminal elements to its trade and distribution. Drug dealers and terrorists aren't the only ones addicted to drug money. Numerous government agencies and thousands of bureaucrats are also dependent on the perpetuation of the War on Drugs for their employment and livelihood.

...The aggressive prosecution of the War on Drugs will not only serve to preserve the profits for drug dealers and terrorists, but will ensure that Americans will continue to see their tax money wasted while simultaneously being deprived of their most basic rights. The caption on the previously mentioned picture of Bush and Uribe would be a lot closer to reality if it read, "Partners against freedom and common sense."

Emiliano's post certainly makes a lot more sense than the War. Worth reading in full.

Abu Ghraib in the homeland

Berrell Freeman, who is serving a 58-year prison sentence for attempted homicide is not exactly a nice guy and he doesn't like to follow rules. He ended up in the facility designed to house what they call the "worst of the worst" offenders, Boscobel prison in Wisconsin. The prison is reportedly a real hell hole.

Inmates at the Boscobel prison were initially confined to solitary cells for up to 23 hours a day. A lack of recreational facilities, constantly illuminated cells and overheated cells prompted inmates to bring a class action inmate lawsuit in which U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ordered the state to air-condition the prison.

Freeman who broke such 'serious' rules as wearing shorts instead of the required trousers and sometimes wore a headband to soak up the sweat, was punished by having food withheld from him for days at a time.

Freeman lost about 40 of his 180 pounds between April 23 and Oct. 12, 2003. During one month, he was served only breakfast.

Freeman filed suit, and the prison started feeding him again, but it was too little too late.

Jurors found that withholding food as punishment subjected Freeman to a serious disruption of a basic human need. Warden Gerald Berge, Deputy Warden Peter Huibregtse and Unit Manager Brad Hompe were the defendants found to be liable for deliberate indifference to an inhumane condition of confinement. Jurors awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages.

Freeman may be a violent criminal but he's a still a human being. No one should be subjected to this kind of punishment. Sarah Walkenhurst, Freeman's lead attorney agrees and "will seek an injunction to prohibit the state prison system from withholding food to punish prisoners." Indeed. Isn't being locked up and being subjected to the whims of sadistic prison guards punishment enough? Our prisons shouldn't be administering slow motion death sentences by denying prisoners a basic necessity of life.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Terminally ill are not criminals

The Raich case is still dominating the drug war news today. Newsday weighs in with a good editorial. Here's the money quote.

Federal drug laws are rooted in the Constitution's commerce clause, which authorizes regulation of interstate trade. But the court has said that authority doesn't cover local, non-economic acts unless there's a commercial impact. That should apply to two California women whose marijuana wasn't commercially traded or shipped across state lines. There are plenty of legitimate fronts in the war on drugs. Sick people using marijuana with their doctors' blessings isn't one of them.


By the numbers - War on Some Drugs has failed

More proof the War on Some Drugs is causing more harm than good. Aaccording to a report released Tuesday, the price of white powder street drugs have reached a 20 year low.

The Washington Office on Latin America, citing the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the street price of 2 grams of cocaine averaged $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14 percent from the previous year's average and the lowest price in 20 years [and] a gram of heroin, which cost $329 in 1981, sold for $60 in the first half of 2003.

An official at the Office of National Drug Control Policy confirmed the figures, which haven't been publicly released.

Prices don't go down when the supply diminishes so I leave you to draw the obvious conclusion on your own. Meanwhile, the ONDCP also claims that drug use has been reduced but would the black market be flooding the country with these drugs if there were no demand? It defies logic. Even more astounding is that so many non-consumers don't see through the discrepancies and still buy into Walter's propaganda to the tune of 40 billion wasted tax dollars.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

National Review does and Walters (sort of) doesn't comment on Raich

You have to wonder what's it's like to be John Walters. Does he wake in the morning and look in the mirror and think, "Hey, another day to get out there and lie to America." I mean that's what he does, day after day. This CNN appearance is no different. After telling the host it was inappropriate for him to comment on the Raich case, he went on to expound on the legalization movement, trying to form a nexus between the two, as if Raich has anything to do with it. Read it for yourself. The MMJ commentary is at the bottom but the rest of the transcript, where he expounds on alcohol abuse and teen age drug use is worth reading in full if you stomach the disinformation.

On the sane side, The National Review has an excellent piece on the interstate commerce aspects of Raich which, with due respect to Angel's suffering, really are the more important. As Jon Adler concludes.

Despite its apparent importance to drug warriors, Ashcroft v. Raich is not about medical marijuana or drug prohibition. Nor is it about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of allowing chronically ill individuals to smoke weed for medicinal purposes. Rather, it concerns the limits of federal power under the Constitution. Federalism does not play favorites. It limits the scope of federal power to pursue liberal and conservative ends alike. If a majority of the Court remembers this lesson, Angel Raich will get to keep her medicine. More important, the nation will keep the constitutional limits on federal power.

The people speak, will SCOTUS listen?

The reaction to Raich v. Ashcroft keeps rolling in. Slate magazine has a good piece from a first hand observer, Dude, Where's my Integrity? It appears to me that at least O'Connor and Ginsburg are leaning our way.

Also, Loretta Nall checks in with a post featuring a piece from the Birmingham Post Herald that quotes her and gives the Christian Coalition's response.

Meanwhile, poll after poll shows the American public is strongly in support of legalizing this plant for medical use. One hopes the court will take the temperament of the public on this issue into account before rendering their decision.

UPDATE: Sister Geoff checks in at the comment section with another interesting poll from Drug Free America Foundation's page. Even there over 45% believe marijuana is a harmless medicine.