Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New toys

I did my tyke shopping on line this week and the toys are rolling in. I love coming home to boxes on the stoop. That's the upside of living in the country. The bath toys and the playmat came in today. I'm way thrilled about the bath toys. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to find good ones. These are just as good as they look online and the little clear plastic satchel has red fabric handles, a heavy grosgrain.

Meanwhile, I didn't figure out the camera yet. It was so nice this afternoon, I spent it outdoors with the tyke so I didn't get far in the assembly process. To begin with it came with three sets of instructions, and a users manual, all of which had conflicting information. I didn't find the right set until the end of the day. I did manage to install the software on the laptop but I still have to charge the battery before I can get going. Unfortunately, my eyesight is so bad that I can't read the instructions in artificial light, even with my glasses. I hope to get it going tomorrow though.

Kindness of strangers

There's a lot of speculation about what will ultimately happen to the city, but if the musicians are gone for good, I think Nawlins' will never be the same again. A lot of them moved to Austin.
The city's population of more than 8,700 musicians has not only grown a bit but also diversified racially and ethnically. Relocated here indefinitely, among others, are Cyril Neville and Tribe 13, Ivan Neville and Dumpsta Funk, the Hot Eight Brass Band, the Iguanas, the Caesar Brothers Funk Box, the Radiators, and Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indian tribe. Some of them have even created an ad hoc band with a name that sums up who they are today, post-Katrina: "The Texiles."
The musical community really rallied around the Katrina survivors. A lot of owners added venues and Marcia Ball threw a benefit concert that established a fund that's still distributing aid. This is why I spent most of life hanging around with musicians. They're good inclusive people and they take care of their own, along with anyone else who wanders in.

As Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Flaming Arrows said, "We just needed someone to hug us and say it was going to be all right. We got that here."

Kind of makes you feel like taking a trip to Texas, doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Weird marijuana stories

My camera arrived while I was at work so I'm going to go have a look at it. I'm working again tomorrow so light posting tonight but here's some weird stuff I ran across.

Not that I know of any, but I will definitely not be taking any pictures like this on the the new camera. You have to wonder what people are thinking. Do you really need a picture of yourself in the field?

This guy sounds like kind of jerk but being forced to donate to DARE because of eight sickly plants seems a little over the top.

Woody Harrelson gave up pot for yoga. I don't know. I think he looked a lot less crazy when he was smoking cannabis.

From Noriegaville. Seizures of marijuana in Panama are up. "Has the police become better at finding dope? No, Gustavo Ortega, chief of the PTJ drug squad, explained that the increase indicates that there is overproduction in Colombia and a higher demand internationally. (La Prensa)"

Is this the same state that just allowed ID to be taught as science? City Councillors in Lawrence, Kansas will discuss decriminalizing marijuana withih the city limits.

And the outrage of the day, two ten years olds taken into custody for bringing a bag of parsley to school and pretending it was marijuana." Jeez Louise, these kids likely wouldn't even know what it was except for their stupid DARE programs. So then the kids play pretend, as ten year olds are wont to do, and they arrest them? They should arrest the adults for traumatizing the kids.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Give em something to cheer about

How about that? We all know that sex sells but who knew that pharmaceutical companies prefer to hire ex-cheerleaders as salesmen? There's hundreds of them in the sales forces of all the major vendors. That really doesn't surprise or bother me but this gave me a moment's pause.
Still, women have an advantage with male doctors, according to Jamie Reidy, a drug representative who was fired by Eli Lilly this year after writing a book lampooning the industry, "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman."

In an interview, Mr. Reidy remembered a sales call with the "all-time most attractive, coolest woman in the history of drug repdom." At first, he said, the doctor "gave ten reasons not to use one of our drugs." But, Mr. Reidy added: "She gave a little hair toss and a tug on his sleeve and said, 'Come on, doctor, I need the scrips.' He said, 'O.K., how do I dose that thing?' I could never reach out and touch a female physician that way."
This is why you have to take charge of your own health and question every medication. Doctors are just as vulnerable as anyone to normal human follibles but on the other hand, maybe the reform movement could take a cue here. Anybody know a cheerleading squad that might want to form a lobbying team for reform?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A meeting of minds in the Mile High City

Here's an amusing column featuring an exchange between Frank Rich who founded Modern Drunkard magazine and Mason Tvert, the young mover who shook up Denver by organizing, and more importantly winning, the referendum to make marijuana legal in the city.

The two debate pot, booze, prohibition and political tactics.
"I have nothing against alcohol," Tvert says. "I'm pro-choice all the way around."

"But there will be a backlash," Rich warns. "People are moving to prohibition. There's less consumption of alcohol every year."

The campaign was just politics, Tvert repeats. He's not called "Karl Rove for the pleasantly stoned" for nothing.

Not that he'll officially say whether he's ever inhaled: "Would you ask a pro-choice person if they've ever had an abortion?"

If you're Frank Rich, you would. "Do you smoke?" he asks Tvert. "I'm pretty sure you do."
I have to admit the Rove reference bothers me and so does Tvert's coyness but that's the dirty little reality of drug policy reform. The movers and shakers at the top are competent and articulate people who should be the first to proclaim their consumption proudly and publicly, but they can't because then the debate becomes over their own habits, rather than the larger issue of reasonable policy decisions.

We'll know we have won this war when no one asks that question.

Telling tales out of school

Tom Angell at the DARE Diary catches an interesting article I missed in the NYT on a challenge to school zone enhancements. At issue was how the 1000 feet were measured.
On foot, Mr. Robbins's lawyers argued, the school is more than 1,000 feet away from the site of the arrest, because the shortest route is blocked by buildings. But as the crow flies, the authorities said, it is less than 1,000 feet away.


Lawyers for Mr. Robbins argued that the distance should be measured as a person would walk it because "crows do not sell drugs."
Unfortunately, the defendant lost at appeal but this goes to show how stupid the whole school zone scheme is. This enhancement was originally introduced to prevent drug dealing at schools but it's long since become a meaningless additional punishment. I've seen it used when there was a daycare in somebody's house that a dealer couldn't possibly know about and let's face it, even the most immoral drug dealer is not peddling to four year olds.

Its racist aspect is hard to ignore as well. In the inner cities, populated largely by poor people of color, you can't walk 1000 feet without a hitting a school zone and chances are your own apartment is within one. It's long past time to get rid of the enhancements altogether.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The old oak trees

My neighbors shamed into starting on the leaves this afternoon. The old guy across the street had his ride on power leaf destroyer out and the young guy next door started raking and burning so I got the trusty rake out as well. Those of you who know about my snakes and spiders phobia here will be impressed that I plugged away until well after dark. I got depressingly little done in terms of square footage.

I have this complicated process. I'm too freaked out about burning the place down with all the trees on the property that I only build a small fire compared to the mountainous pile he had going next door. Then I kept raking away from the fire and brought the leaves over in a big basket and dumped them on. It's slow but orderly, only there's a lot of leaves. I figure I'll be done about spring time.

The squirrels should be happy though. I undercovered a lot of acorns. They've been busy building nests. I have one little family about three trees out from the screen porch. There's a long split in the tree and it appears six of them are living in it. I saw the big one chewing off little branches that still had green leaves on them and carrying them inside. Yesterday, I saw all the smaller ones running around and around on the outside of the tree.

There was also a major squirrel fight over territory a couple of days ago. One squirrel was chasing the other up and down all the trees and at one point, the loser literally flew about 25 feet into the next tree, scrambled down and tore across the lawns in about 2 and half seconds. It happened so fast even the victorious squirrel looked a little confused as he sat on his branch looking around to see where the other guy went.

Saturday fun - seeing stars

I love these things. Via FreedomSight comes which sci-fi crew would you fit in with? Here's mine.

SG-1 (from Stargate)


Moya (from Farscape)


Serenity (from Firefly)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

I'm kind of surprised I didn't do better with Star Trek. I've never even seen most of these shows.

Rope a dope

Here's one I missed during the holiday festivities. Nikos at D'Alliance has an interesting post on GOP support of industrial hemp. Of all the dunderheaded effects of this WOsD, the criminalization of this extraordinarily useful plant is one of the worst.

We've said it before but we'll say it again. Industrial hemp is not a drug and it makes no more sense to make it illegal than it would to criminalize the production of cotton. Society and the environment unnecessarily suffers as direct cause of the government's fixation on cannabis.

Police force

Radley Balko, as always, has a collection of SWAT team follies in towns so tiny Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could handle the law enforcement. An especially odious assortment is here including a SWAT response to a 75 year old woman but don't miss this, this or another wrong way raid.

Also not to be missed, Pete Guither has a close encounter with a fake drug search roadblock on his way to Thanksgiving dinner. Pete also has a some great posts about the ongoing war on poppy growers in Afghanistan. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.

Terry Nall has the sad story of another innocent victim of a drug raid.

And Micah at the DARE Diary has a disturbing story on privatized high school drug searches. It seems an ex-cop and his drug dog found a way to keep profiting from the prohibition.

Finally, I sure I don't need to post this link, but just in case you're not in the habit of checking thehim's drug war roundup, you really should be availing yourself of his delicious assorted mix of the latest mayhem in the WOsD.

Friday, November 25, 2005

England swings on pub hours

I'll be interested to see how this works out. England just ended its 11:00pm closing requirement for pubs and other purveyors of alcohol. The doomsayers are predicting mass chaos and a sharp rise in alchohol related misery and mayhem.

I'm with the proponents. After the initial novelty wears off, people will fall into a normal routine and it will cut down on the binge drinking where people order two or more drinks a piece and slug them down in the 20 minutes before such an early closing time. Already the dire predictions about 24 hour pubs across the land have not come true. Most places asked for modest extensions and even then mostly for weekends.

Good to see the Brits take a step back from nanny government over personal affairs. Wish we could say the same at home.

Freeway Ricky sentence reduced

This pap from the Mercury News is really irritating.
Notorious crack kingpin "Freeway" Ricky Ross could be out of prison in two years after a judge cut 3 1/2 years off his sentence, his defense attorney said.
His life sentence was reduced to 20 years when his lawyer successfully argued his priors should be combined for the purposes of sentencing. Ross, as you may remember was featured prominently in Gary Webb's expose, Dark Alliance. The Merc remembers it as well, but rather badly.
Ross' case was profiled in a series of reports in 1996 in the San Jose Mercury News, which linked the CIA to drug dealers assisting the Contras.

A federal probe found no such link. The Mercury News ultimately concluded that said the series contained serious flaws and reassigned the reporter, Gary Webb, who later quit.
Meaning the feds investigated themselves and ever so surprisingly found they did no wrong, the Merc caved into political pressure and basically stabbed their Pulitizer Prize winning reporter in the back. They are as responsible for his ultimate sucide as if they had pulled the trigger themselves. Even worse, they failed the public when they failed to back him up. His allegations were true.

This also illustrates another great failing of the WOsD. The prohibition enforcers surely touted Ricky as a "kingpin bust." However, it's likely some underling's girlfriend received a harsher sentence by mere association but because she couldn't afford a high priced lawyer or offer inside information to the feds, she will end up doing more time than Ricky will.

[hat tip Vig]

Black Friday

A shopper's nightmare and a retailer's dream. You won't catch me near a store this weekend or probably through the whole Christmas season. My list isn't as large as it used to be and saving a few bucks by fighting traffic, trudging through stores and waiting hours in checkout lines lost its appeal for me since I got a computer. What little I need to do can mostly be accomplished online. It's worth a few extra bucks to avoid the stress.

That being said I did succumb to the sales today and bought myself a Christmas present. I am no longer probably the last blogger on earth without a digital camera. It's true folks. I ordered a Kodak Z760. I have no idea why I picked that model except the family convinced me that Kodak is an easy camera to use and it was good deal. One hopes I'll master it quickly and some day soon will be bombarding you with phlog posts.

I spent a lot of time this morning cruising around toy store sites for the tyke but didn't buy anything. I decided to wait and see what Mom and Dad buy for the little angel first so we don't duplicate. But it's fun to look at toys again. The rest of the kids in the family have long since reached an age when a cold cash is their favorite.

And speaking of Christmas - it's hard to avoid around here. Normally I wouldn't even start thinking about it for another week or so but the "oldies" station I listen to in the car has been playing all carols - all the time, for about a week and half now and of course the stores have had their displays up since before Halloween. Those are easy enough to tune out but I embarked on a newspaper search last night and ended up driving into the center of town to check the vending boxes. Not to a paper to be had but I saw an astonishing number of houses already decorated and lit up. My favorite still is the house that decorated for Halloween with all the lights. They took the pumpkins away but the house is still all lit up orange, clashing nicely with the next door neighbor's Santa display.

Oh and while I'm thinking of holidays. Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day, a concept surprisingly supported by a bookstore in a nearby town. I heard a bit on CNN this morning saying if everyone really got back to the true spirit of Christmas and celebrated without the crass consumerism, the economy would grind to a halt. How sad to think our economy depends on greed and materialism.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pajama blogging

Well I'm in doze mode. I'm going to have a little brandy and fall asleep watching some dumb TV. I think there's a Bonanza marathon on the tube.

It was a lovely dinner. The food was fabulous but I'm buzzed out on tryptos. This is why I don't often eat turke...zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

A warm Thanksgiving

My family will never be known for punctuality. Dinner has been moved back an hour so I took the opportunity to take a nice walk. It's a gorgeous afternoon here, really windy but warm. It's not supposed to last long, they say a cold front is moving in for a couple of days but then they're predicting 70s for the beginning of the week. A bit disorienting for this New England girl but welcome news for the end of November.

The pace of the neighborhood is different today. The young people who race up and down the road in their hot cars must have all gone to grandma's house and only the elderly couples who live here have cars in the driveway - lots of cars. And lots of tiny kids running around in the yards with their slightly older cousins.

My next door neighbor is the grandma so her yard is full but it appears the menfolk are deep frying the turkey this year. There's been about five of them out by the carport, gravely peering into this tall steel contraption and after much consultation, a cardboard barrier has been erected around the periphery. One would guess the stiff wind has been affecting the oil temperature. It's good they're cooking outside though. I'm told that several people every year burn down their house by deep frying the thing inside.

I'm told we're to have a traditional dinner ourselves. Fresh turkey from the local farm of course, and all organic mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, stuffing (but not cornbread, we're not that southern yet) and one would hope gravy although it wasn't mentioned. And a pumpkin pie with whole wheat crust. I was sorry rutabagas and brussels sprouts weren't on the list but I'm the only one that likes those and who am I to dictate a free meal?


Long time readers know I'm not much for holidays anymore and don't particularly like Thanksgiving. I don't like turkey and could care less about football. Besides, the whole "eat until you're sick" thing has always put me off when there are so many people around the world who will go hungry today. And then there's the irony of celebrating a holiday that was created out of the largess of Native Americans, whom our government screwed over a short time later.

Nonetheless, I am thankful that I will be having dinner with my family for the first time in many years, including the irrepressibly adorable tyke. I'm especially grateful that I don't have to cook anything. Considering the decline of my cooking skills, I'm sure my family is also grateful that I didn't insist on trying. I'll bring flowers instead.

I'm also thankful for everyone in the drug policy reform movement, from the big name NGOs to the foot soldiers who work their local neighborhoods in pursuit of the end of prohibition. I'm thankful for the bloggers who donate their time and their bandwidth to spreading the message and to my discussion lists without whom I'd have nothing to say. I'm thankful for the progress we've collectively made in bringing common sense to the masses.

And most of all dear readers, I'm thankful for your support and your commentary and your tips. Without you I'd be talking to myself, and since I'm not rich - people might think I'm crazy. Happy holiday to those who celebrate and to those who don't, it's still a good day to remember what you're thankful for. Wishing you all peace, happiness and a better world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Quick bytes

I have to leave for work so here's some reading material to get you through the day.

It appears that police misconduct knows no borders. The Canadians find their local enforcement is not immune to questionable tactics to nail a bust.

This Canadian site takes on pot and driving. It appears they took their PR lessons from the ONDCP. They also have dumb ads that will do nothing for deterrence. But for those who remember the Canadian American pilots who were busted for friendly fire on Canadians after being pumped up on government provided speed, there's this modified version.

Cop corruption knows no boundaries. Fifteen kilos by the way is over 30 pounds.

A doctor complains on the cumbersome procedures required to prescribe medical marijuana.

Snarky book reviews on books that seem worth reading.

And a thoughtful column on legalizing drugs.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Will Nevada legalize in 06?

Marijuana Policy Project is gearing up for it's Nevada campaign to put legalization of marijuana on the ballot. They've been plugging away there since 2001 and they keep getting closer every time. This could be the year they suceed. If you're one of those lucky people who have too much money at the end of the year and need to give some away, this is a truly worthy cause. I'll let MPP tell you why.
A win in Nevada would rock the nation ... and cause an avalanche of states to start repealing marijuana prohibition ... which would force Congress to repeal marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

Notably, our opposition is already gearing up against us. The White House drug czar's office even sent a letter of complaint to a University of Nevada student newspaper, warning that arguments for marijuana policy reform are nothing more than "ridiculous lies" from "drug enthusiasts."

The drug czar and his cronies are striking out because they know that public opinion is on our side ... and that we can win.
This would really be a major victory and a validation of the work reformers have done worldwide to raise awareness. This is how we will win the WOsD, state by state.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reform wins in WOsD

Drug Policy Alliance checks in with the good news. Congress has cut drug war programs by $300 million. Thanks to lobbying by DPA and other fine reform organizations John Walters, drug task forces and various bureaucrats will have less money to ply their failed policies of prohibition.

And that's not all. Most of the odious mandatory minimum provisions were removed from Mark Souder's ill-conceived meth bill and two treatment provisions were written in. They're still working on the meth bill and DPA also has been promoting another one related to Katrina victims with drug offenses. You can help with a click and send letter here.

Change in plans

My schedule unexpectedly changed so posting will be light for the next couple of days while I hang with the tyke. The vacation really broadened his vocabulary, and his outlook, so we had a delightful day despite the dreary weather. It's finally raining.

I'm hoping it will knock off the rest of the leaves. I watched my neighbor start burning his a couple of days ago and decided I'm going to do that too. Raking isn't much fun but you don't have to do it all at once and I do so love a bonfire.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The misery of mandatory minimums

The despicable injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing is clearly illustrated in this case. Weldon Angelos was arrested in 2002 for selling 8 ounces of marijuana to an undercover agent. He also happened to be carrying a gun, which he never used in connection with the deal. He also owned guns which he kept in his home. He is not charged with any offenses regarding them outside of possession.

His case has now wound its way through the courts and he has been sentenced to 55 years in jail under mandatory minimums on account of the gun possession enhancements to his sentence. That's "far more than he would have gotten if he had been convicted of hijacking a plane, kidnapping or second-degree murder." Not to mention, because there is no flexibility in this sentencing, and the overcrowding of jails with drug defendants, violent offenders will no doubt be released earlier to make room for men like Weldon.

One thinks this travesty hardly serves society. Judges would agree.
Angelos' plight has drawn the support of 29 former judges and prosecutors who filed a "friend of the court" brief saying the sentence shows how mandatory minimums can violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
Even the "judge who sentenced Angelos in 2004 agonized over the decision in a 67-page order in which he called upon the president to commute the sentence and encouraged Congress to address the laws." Unfortunately, with prohibition profiteers like Mark Souder writing policy, mandatory minimums are more popular inside the Beltway than ever.

It's well past time to remove lawmakers who just don't get that Americans want laws based on public safety and not politics. Here's hoping as candidates start running judge who sentenced Angelos in 2004 agonized over the decision in a 67-page order in which he called upon the president to commute the sentence and encouraged Congress to address the laws on anti-WOsD platforms, which they are beginning to do, the drug war ideologues will get the message and change their tune.

[hat tip JackL]

Eye on Prague

Interesting report on Prague is dealing with petty crime, prostitution and drug dealing in the tourist centers of town. It doesn't sound like they're all that serious about the first two but arrests and convictions on drug offenses have risen sharply in the last few years. More chilling though, was this.

Part of the plan includes a citywide network of cameras. There are 63 cameras in the center of Prague and about 300 citywide. City Hall has already spent nearly 400 million Kc( ($16.1 million) on the measure, which has helped curb crime overall but has had little impact on highly visible street crime.
I find this trend, which exists worldwide, extremely disturbing. It raises privacy concerns in my mind and the longer range ability for law enforcement and government agents to build dossiers on innocent civilians for political reasons is downright frightening. The time might come when the authorities will literally be able to track you anywhere in the world, especially if you take into account the new US program developing spy drones that are eventually intended to "patrol" US cities.

False impressions in California

This piece is rather irritating but I'm linking to it because it features blogger Dr. Tom and how he was misquoted in a flawed "news report" at KCBS "Eyewitness News." The local outlet manipulated the video and selectively quoted, to create the impression that anyone can get a medical marijuana card.

This is not really true, nor is there an explosion - as this pseudo-expose would suggest - of a bunch of stoners applying for cards just to get high. Sure, there's a few but the real story is "fewer than 200,000 Californians have obtained approval to use cannabis medicinally in the nine years since it became legal -in a state where millions might benefit if they felt free to try."

This is all part of the anti-marijuana hysteria planted by the ONDCP and fueled by the Raich decision. California is a success story as a model for a legal and regulated market. At least it would be if the prohibitionists would leave it alone.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Collateral damage in the WOsD

The WOsD is a cruel and socially destructive policy in the US, but it's even more inhumane as waged in producer countries. For instance, in Afghanistan, under pressure from US prohibitionists, they have expanded their eradication efforts to encompass marijuana. Combined with the current US led war on poppy growers, the poor indigenous farmers are left with no means of making a living wage in a country whose economy literally depends on the drug trade.

Cannabis cultivation has a long and rich tradition in Afghanistan - (who could forget the black Afghani hash of the 60s) and although it's illegal, much like the 60s here, its use is so widespread that it was basically ignored. All that's changed now that the US has a chokehold on the government. With poppy season over, the Aghani government has turned its eradication efforts to marijuana fields in order to demonstrate their seriousness about "drugs" to their US overlords. This has nearly no impact on the availability of cannabis but the effect on the small farmer is devasting.

Although they earn only one-quarter of what would make growing poppies, some farmers have until now preferred to cultivate cannabis not only because of lower labor costs but also because they believed they ran less risk of being prosecuted.

"We didn't think it was illegal," claimed Mohammad Jan, 55, a farmer in Balkh province whose cannabis fields have been destroyed. "The government was only eradicating poppies in past years."

Particularly irksome to Mohammad Jan and other farmers is the fact that the government waited until October, when they were harvesting, to start destroying the plant.

"We've lost a year's work," complained Mohammad Jan. "If the government had given us warning, we wouldn't have planted marijuana. This has completely destroyed our lives."

..."I have never planted poppies, because I'm afraid to - the government is destroying the poppy fields. So I planted marijuana on one or two acres instead. The money I make is enough to support my family and me for a year. Now the government has destroyed our marijuana fields, and winter is coming. We have no income to live on."
So what is left for farmers to do in order to survive? One might suppose that those who don't have daughters to sell, might join the "terrorists" in order to feed their families.

This is how prohibition promotes terrorism.

[hat tip JackL]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Marijuana shown to relieve depression

More evidence that smoking marijuana is actually good for you.
ALBANY, NEW YORK—In the largest-ever study of marijuana and depression, to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, daily or weekly marijuana users had fewer symptoms of depression than non-users. Marijuana users were also more likely to report positive moods and fewer somatic complaints such as sleeplessness. Noteworthy differences were also found between those using marijuana for medical purposes and non-medical or "recreational" users.

..."Not only does marijuana not cause depression, it looks like it may actually alleviate it," said Mitch Earleywine, co-author of the new study and associate professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Unsurprisingly, the least depressed group were regular non-medical users. Medical users were found to be depressed from their illness and MMJ users reported less depression than non-users. My personal experience bears this out, but it's good to see it scientifically proven.

Thanks to Mycos for the pdf and in full disclosure, I took part in this study. Maybe you did too. I posted on it at the time and it was open to all.

Blog hoppin'

Tom at the DARE Diary points us to the news that your favorite drug czar and mine, John Walters, saw Congress vote to slash the ONDCP's advertising budget by $20 million, down to $100 million. This is the lowest it's been since the ineffective National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign was created in 1998.

Meanwhile, his blogmate Erik has the latest on meth mania and posts the best ever picture of prohibition profiteer extraordinaire, Mark Souder, which I have promptly stolen and will hold for future use.

Dr. Tom looks at the appeal cannabis has for its users and connects the dots between emotional disorders treated by pharmacology and the same symptoms being self-treated by cannabis consumers.

I didn't blog on this and Pete at DrugWarRant already a good post on it so go there for an overview of the Guatemalan top anti-drug investigator's arrest when he arrived in the US to attend a bogus meeting set up as DEA sting.

While you're at the Rant don't miss Pete's excellent post, We have to take back our country that looks at selling reform with soundbites and an update on a lawsuit over the wrongful death of drug war victim Troy Davis.

Terry Nall has a couple of interesting border stories. On the Canadian side, 2 border agents are in trouble for confiscating 60 lbs of marijuana but allowing the courier to get away. It's not clear how they got caught since they turned the pot in, reporting it as abandoned, but it's a damn shame they will get punished for such a humanitarian deed. One expects they probably thought the guy was a decent fellow and just didn't want to put him in jail.

Meanwhile, in the south, there was a bizarre standoff between US border guards and what appeared to be Mexican police over a truck stuck in the middle in a gully between the two countries.

The US guards were in the process of unloading when the driver, who had fled back over the border, returned with the armed and uniformed men from the Mexican side. The standoff was finally resolved when the Mexicans produced a bulldozer that pulled the truck back into Mexican terrority. Sounds almost like an old Cheech and Chong skit doesn't it?

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's a cannabis consumer's world

Media Awareness Project just archived a great article, Marijuana World, A Look at Pot: Its Users, Its Trade, Its Cultivation, the Research And the Anti-Prohibition Movement. It's so good a piece I'm not even going to excerpt it. You really should read it all. I will give the final lines, quoting a medical marijuana provider.

As Crow puts it, "People understand they've been lied to when they see the truth for themselves." And the truth, she hopes, will set them free.

Hopefully it will set us all free, including the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in jail on drug possession charges even as we speak.

What's hot

Drug War Chronicle is back in full time mode and has a slew of good stories. Standouts are an excellent recap of the Long Beach conference and some orginal thinking by Silja Talvi in In These Times and Phil also has a much more on Farid, the ENCOD chairman who was arrested at the airport and denied entry into the country.

It's start at the top and scroll day since Pete at Drug WarRant is back in action as well and has a lot of new reading material. My favorite is Pit Bulls being tested for marijuana. Seems the dogs got seriously out of hand and mauled 2 kids and 4 adults who tried to save them. The owner was found to be in possession of marijuana. The case is tragic but the coverage is hilarious.

On Nov. 5 police handling the dog attack found five harvested marijuana plants growing in Sword's back-yard garden and more than 30 grams of marijuana in his home, Nygren said.
One wonders how harvested plants are still growing. They shot the dogs and are now testing them to see if ingesting marijuana made them vicious. And here's a guy who apparently stands to rake in a share of taxpayer money.
"Dogs usually don't show aggression if they ingest marijuana, but this is a substance that could potentially have that effect," said Mehanovic, a veterinarian. "I personally think the dogs' behavior has nothing to do with marijuana. In a toxicology lab we will eliminate that."
Since when does eating marijuana make anyone violent, dog or man? Why do you think terminally patients eat it? I'll tell you - because it mellows them out and helps them sleep. What a waste and how indicative of the whole sorry premise of the WOsD. When in doubt, blame the weed.

And don't miss Loretta Nall's post on the focus on drug policy and prison reform that's emerging as an issue in the governor's race in Alabama.
Even if she doesn't win the office, Loretta has already won a great victory for the movement in bringing these issues into the public eye. Some remarkable progress is being made, even as you read this, in the "reddest" state of the union. Thanks to Loretta.

Rest in Peace

Taking a moment to say goodbye to the dearly departed. The maintence guy at my old office building in Noho died last week. Mario was 90 years old but he was fixing stuff and climbing tall ladders to replace light bulbs right up to the end. I loved that guy. He knew me for 18 years and never stopped calling me Betty. Even though he knew it's not my real name; it was the only one he could remember. He'll be missed by me and by all at 39 Main.

Also please send a comforting thought to my dear friend Karen, who lost her mom last week. I never met the lady but she was a heck of an artist. She used to make these incredible cards. I framed the one I got for my birthday one year. She was great cake baker as well. I'll never hear a kitchen timer again without feeling a little sad. The world is emptier without her.

Home improvement

Sorry, I ran out of steam last night. The outdoor project was bigger than expected. It's funny the leaves don't look that bad really - I was exaggerating a little when I said they were ankle deep, but just raking them three feet away from the foundation created a huge windrow. I don't know what the heck I'm going to do with it all. It's clear I need to have some major bonfires when the wind dies down. Meanwhile, it's even colder today than yesterday. It's not going to break 50 - unseasonably cold they tell me. Sometimes I feel like the arctic air follows me wherever I go.

Meanwhile, I got halfway around the house (this place is bigger than it looks) with the toxic concoction so I have to venture out to the big store again to finish the job. I found three ants in the kitchen this morning but they looked pretty stunned so maybe it will work once I ring the whole house with the stuff.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wishing for solitary confinement?

If you were getting your crack from Corey Pittman in Lutcher, LA, you better find a new connection, cause Lousiana's youngest police chief has just been busted and surprisingly, remanded without bail. You have to wonder how many of the competitors he busted in the interim will be in the same jail.

All told, the Chief is alleged to have sold undercover officers "five ounces of crack cocaine, one ounce of cocaine hydrochloride and 40 tablets of hydrocodone, a pain pill." Ironically Pittman admitted past drug related activity when he was pitching the voters for the job but claimed that was all behind him now.

Well - this time for sure. Vleeptron has all the outlandish details and leave our Vleepness a comment would you? It gets lonely on that planet sometimes.

Baby it's cold outside

I thought New England was the only place this was supposed to happen. After having had my doors wide open for days, the temperature dropped about 25 degrees today. It's not even going to get out of the 50s. Rather a rude awakening but the good news is that it's sunny and the wind isn't as bad as I expected to be, so I'm off to brave the chill and try the borax remedy around the foundations of the house.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quick mix on legalization and more

Speaking of, there's always something on the sidebar worth reading. From a Philly newspaper comes a mixed piece on LEAP's Peter Christ's latest appearance before a local Rotary Club. The author gives some lip service to Christ's argument for legalization but then proceeds to imply it probably wouldn't work here. Good candidate for an LTE I'd say.

Preston also points us to a video from our old friends at Salon Chignon on Colombian Aerial Fumigations and Their Effects on Ecuador and an op-ed by a right winger that bases his premise on some convoluted numbers ($20 a gram for pot - in his dreams) but makes an interesting appeal for legalization of cannabis nonetheless.

Of greatest interest to me, being a new resident of this state, a former state Supreme Court chief justice came out for legalization of all illegal drugs.
Burley Mitchell, the state's top judge from 1995 to 1999, said the war on drugs in North Carolina and nationwide has been "a total failure" that has filled up prisons. The money saved if police no longer made arrests and courts no longer handed out sentences could be used to treat drug addicts, he said.

"What if we decriminalized drugs? Then you'd knock out all of the profits of every dealer and more to the point, the big producers," Mitchell said at a Raleigh luncheon crowd interested in prison reform. Drug demand also would go down due to lower supplies, and drug-related crimes such as robbery and murder also would fall, he said.
Another former legislator is calling for at least reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. As is every state of the union, they just can't build prisons quickly enough to house all the drug defendants. It's good to see some common sense permeating the debate from the law enforcement side.

A pill for every ill

Via the indispensible Preston Peet of, comes an interesting article in the NYT on young people, self diagnosis and prescription drugs. For a generation that grew up with pharmaceutical advertising that suggests you "ask your doctor" for the latest med, playing pharmacist on their own is no big deal. They routinely diagnose each other and trade unused portions of prescriptions for drugs like Ritalin, Paxil and Prozac.

They don't trust doctors as medical gods with all the answers as they did in generations past. For one thing, the 20 and 30 somethings have been dosed with various combinations of chemical cocktails and have come to realize that the shrinks aren't any better informed on the latest drugs than they are, in fact often they're better informed through sharing their experience on discussion lists. Having watched a dear friend suffer through many shrinks and countless 'script changes, I'd have to agree.

Doctors aren't perfect. They're just overworked human beings like the rest of us and judging from my own experience with hyperthyroidism, tend to prescribe drugs and treatment according to a curve based on a norm. For those like me, who have never fallen within the normal curve on anything, it's not only practical but necessary to self-diagnose.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quote of the week

Via Tom Angell's excellent post summing up his own vision for the future after the Long Beach conference.
"The reform movement is made up of three groups. People who love drugs, people who hate drugs, and people who just don’t give a damn about drugs one way or another."

- Ethan Nadelmann, Drug Policy Alliance
From his opening remarks at the 2005 International Drug Policy Reform Conference.

In the land of Dixie

Scott is back from California and has a bunch of interesting links at the top. Of particular interest is this on Chambers County in Texas, where the arrest rate dropped by 60-70% when the jail was shut down. The Sheriff says the public is not adversely impacted, that they are no more vulnerable to crime. Which leads to the conclusion, then all those arrests prior to the jail closing were really unncessary weren't they?

Also of great interest to me is current Alabama Governor Riley's sudden interest in prison reform. He's calling on his task force's recommendations to be immediately implemented.
The task force found that drug use was so pervasive in prisons, it's the wrong place for inmates who want to stop using.

"Instead of just putting them in this environment where their drug habit gets worse, their criminal record gets worse, they should be treated in a different environment," [a drug rehabilitation counselor] said.
Sounds like they took a page out of Loretta Nall's book, doesn't it? Seems to me, maybe Riley is a little worried about her challenge for his seat.

California or bust

A much less enthusiatic review from Farid Ghehioueche of who didn't make it to the conference because he was detained at the airport and deported without allowing to get any closer to Long Beach than a jail cell.

Our friend and reform policy hero, Michael Krawitz forwards on an email from Farid. It's long so I'm only going to excerpt it. Email me if you want a copy of the full story.
The plane landed sunday afternoon. After first, and secondary checkpoints, I stopped at the third check desk. Here two customer agents started to deeply look into my luggages. Many questions raised, and scrutinized my belongings and interrogated about my reasons for enterring US soil. I was sure it was a mere formality as I was answering all their questions.
He was carrying the usual travel items, gifts and some literature about drug policy reform, along with an old poster from a hemp festival that had been long forgotten, folded into a jacket pocket.
After they scratched the GMCL flier and the plastic of the UNODC Cds They found 0.0001 gram of cannabis. They said it was cannabis and asked me to come with them in a little cell, for a complete overview and full body search and to test for pieces of marijuana. I didn't know there were any evidence of marijuana. I realized that I should have used a vacuum-cleaner.
Yes, they arrested him for bare residue. You can't see that small an amount with the naked eye. He was body searched several times, chained like common criminal and taken to a jail cell, where ironically he found a vial with "one gram of crack-cocaine in it." That helped him make friends with the other inmates. He was summarily deported.
It appeared I faced "zero tolerance" I have to apply for a visa to enter USA now. Homeland Security has my file, a number, all my finger prints. What amazed me during this trip among those custom agents is: they're all recruited among what could be seen in France as « invisible minorities » and in US a « positive discriminated peoples ». The repressed employed to repress others.
You have to admire Farid's spirit. Even while enduring this injustice, he engaged the law enforcement officers in a dialogue about why prohibition has failed.
What I tried to explain him was the fact, that even if I felt a great injustice and a decision that is totally disproportionnate. For sure it could be recorded in the Guinness book by the ridiculous charge against my enter on US soil. I told him that concretly I counted around 20 agents that were in charge of my case since the beginning of my troubles. How many real smugglers and terrorists could have take profit of the lack of scrutinity due to my affair ? I told him, I'm working for drug policy reform because I'd like them to be more efficient and for them to achieve a genuine control on borders of the risks, and not about creating the risk by misundertsanding and empowering injustice.
Encod will be sending representatives to a UN meeting in Vienna to keep presenting this case. We wish them the best and offer thanks for their invaluable work across the pond. Surely the struggle for reform is an international one.

Long Beach Review

JackL is back from the conference and checks in with a rave review. As usual, the only complaint is there are too many good sessions and not enough time to attend them all.

What was really notable about the conference was something that the conference organizers obviously wanted to highlight and acknowledge: the success of a few particular orgs recently in getting the message out and becoming significant actors in the policy debate. Each of these organizations -- LEAP, SSDP and MAPINC.ORG -- and some other up and coming orgs like the Denver SAFER folks and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, all share some things in common. They are all grass-roots political organizing efforts which are largely staffed by volunteers, and try to reach a focused audience of opinion makers on particular issues or audiences.

...the MAPINC.ORG people, who in addition to their success at creating the preeminent web archive on drug war press and fomenting anti-WOD letters to the editors of those papers -- , also serve a largely unseen role in providing the computer infrastructure for may of these grassroots orgs and anti-WOD websites, including LEAP, SSPD, NORML, Cannabisnews and a number of state drug policy forums in FL, TX and MI in particular, for members to communicate with each other and the world, including listservs, websites, a live talk chat, and a "leaders only" coordination list, ARO.
Indeed. We owe Media Awareness Project a larger debt of thanks than we realize or acknowledge enough. Meanwhile, Jack notes it was an affirming and inspiring conference.
But like most of these conferences, the most fun was during breaks and after hour parties where you could get to hang with many ppl who were involved in these efforts and chat with some very interesting people from across the US, Canada, Bolivia, Holland and Italy who are big movers and shakers in what is becoming a much bigger movement which is spreading its roots far beyond the organizing efforts of the "grasstops" leaders (new word I heard a lot there)...
They actually use that term in political campaigns in general these days but it works especially well for drug policy reformers, don't you think? Thanks for the report Jack.

New Linkage

Thanks to guest editor Sharon Secor and Strike the Root for the link today and welcome to the Strike the Root readers. They're doing some great work at that site. Check it out.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Santa Clause

Say it ain't so. News from Davison breaks the awful story. Santa Claus lost his endorsement contract with CocaCola and will not appear on holiday packaging this year out of solidarity with WalMart's new "Happy Holiday" diversity program.

The toymaker's union, International United Enchanted Toy Producers (IUETP), are understandly upset. According to a spokeself,
After Wal-Mart, which many consider to be the standard bearer for "values", decided to drop all mention of Christmas in its stores, in favor of signs wishing "Happy Holidays", we thought something like this might happen. After all, what's more representative of America around the world than Coca-Cola? If Coke abandons Christmas, what's next? You're going to fire Santa? Why not just knock down the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Square?
Some rank and file elves speculated Santa may have sold them out. However, officials contacted at the Diversity Enforcement Agency (DEA), denied rumors that Santa refused to sign a renewal contract under pressure of threatened indictment and extradition from the North Pole for criminal association with snowmen.

As of press time, Last One Speaks was unable to independently confirm either allegation. On a brighter note we hear Bad Elf beer will still be employing Santa's services. Maybe.

The Semblers or Cronyism for criminals

This is choice. Not only are those child-torturers, the Semblers of Straight, Inc. fame, living the good life as ambassdors to Italy, our tax dollars will be going to build a magnificent building in Rome to be named in their honor. Disgusting doesn't begin to cover it.

Mark Levine of Radio Inside Scoop is running four hours of programming on the details on this diabolical duo that invented prohibition profiteering. The shows, which feature interviews with experts and hours of testimony from former victims of the program, are available as an audio feed or for mp3 download and there's more commentary on the blog at the site.

I'd say enjoy, but it makes you want to vomit. Listen if you have the intestinal fortitude.

Update: the, a valuable resource on the Semblers themselves, reminds us to repost this excellent article from Alternet as well, Ambassador de Sade in case you missed it in the Saturday roundup.

Autumn leaves, fall past my window

I swear every leaf in the neighborhood has ended up in my yard. It's about ankle deep out front right now. You can't see the driveway anymore but there's still a ton left on the trees. This is the down side of renting a house. The yard maintenence is a killer. I don't whether to rake for four or five hours now or wait until the trees have let more go. It's going to be a beautiful day though so I may take a stab at it.

Meanwhile the local squirrels have gone a little nutty. They've been chasing each other up and down the trees and chattering furiously at each other. They're starting to look more normal though. All summer long their tails were skinny, like a short haired cat but seemingly overnight they've grown bushy fur so they look like the guys up north. I think they're starting to like me as well. A couple of them have taken to sitting close by when I'm on the porch and chittering at me.

Meanwhile, the stupid ants are back. I never got around to spraying outside but I did finally manage to find some borax so I'm going to try my sister's remedy after all and hope it doesn't kill the shrubs. Here's hoping it works for me, otherwise I'm going to have to resort to Kathy's solution - get drunk so I don't notice them.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sign of the Thames

I'm clearing out the old links I've been holding and this was interesting. The Sunday Telegraph discovered that cocaine use in the UK is grossly underestimated. Using statistics complied from the water in the Thames River, they estimate Londoners snort more than 150,000 lines of the class A drug every day.
An investigation by the Sunday Telegraph found that, after cocaine had passed through users' bodies and sewage treatment plants, an estimated 2kg - 80,000 lines - of the drug went into the river each day.

...The Thames investigation, the first of its kind in Britain, was conducted by scientists using the latest technology. It is regarded as the most accurate large-scale drug-detection method available.
Meanwhile, our US drug czar insists cocaine availability in the US is falling. If that's at all true - which I doubt in light of this underestimation - it would probably account for the rise in meth consumption here.

New blog in the hood

Say hey to ExPat Brian, blogging from Singapore, who links to The Impolitic - keeping us international over there since that scoundrel Rohit at Qatar Diary ritually delinked me. The young are so fickle. Now that he made some new friends in Qatar he throws away the old. Nonetheless I'm keeping him on mine because -well- I don't delink and I still like knowing what's going on in Qatar.

Anyway, Brian doesn't post about drug policy but he does politics and I like his blog. He appears to be living a pretty good life in Singapore and he posts lots of photos. Check out the cool wine bar.

A victory for medical marijuana in Ohio

Here, (out of the MAP archives), is a fabulous article from Cincinnati City Beat about medical marijuana. It's really comprehensive so it's on the long side but worth the time to read in full.

It tells the story of Dee Dee Zoretic, a young mother with a debilitating chronic pain condition and how she found relief through medical marijuana after having been denied pharmaceutical relief on account of the DEA's war on pain doctors. She was arrested at one point but the outcome of her case is heartening.

One particularly interesting section is on the dunderheaded convictions that fill our prisons with innocent victims of prohibition under the ever burgeoning list of "drug crimes." You wonder why there's more women in jail now? Here's your answer.
. Brenda Prather of New York was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for handing her husband a roll of aluminum foil that he later used in a drug related crime -- even though she was unaware of the crime, according to her husband's testimony.

. Leah Bundy, 21, also of New York, was in her boyfriend's apartment when it was raided. She was arrested and convicted of possession, despite the fact that she had no idea what her boyfriend was up to. She was sentenced to 15 years to life because of a presumed control over the area in which contraband was found.

. In an Oklahoma case, a woman attempted to deter her son from growing marijuana on her property. She used weed killer, destroyed seeds she found and said she'd throw him out if he continued. Yet her home was seized because she didn't alert the police or evict her son.

In other cases, courts have presumed married women had knowledge of and consent to the presence of their husbands' drugs because of the intimate nature of the marital relationship, making it virtually impossible to prove a lack of knowledge when living with a spouse.
Like husbands don't successfully hide things from their wives all the time. Hell, I knew my first husband had a drinking problem but I never knew the extent of it until he quit for a while and filled an industrial size waste bin with the empties he had hidden in the rafters of the basement. And he worked from home.

Dee Dee had good counsel and a great judge and although her lawyer advised her to move to a medical marijuana friendly state when her case concluded, she's going to stay put and fight.
"The longer we let it go on, the harder it's going to be to stop," she says. "That's why I say you've got to clean up your own back yard before you complain about your neighbor's, and right now Ohio has a filthy yard. I'm not going to run from my problems. I'm going to make things right here. As far as I'm concerned, this is a country of the people, by the people, for the people. Which means this is my country and they can't have it."
Good for her. That's the spirit that's going to win against this war on some drugs.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Time for the blog roundup

Pete Guither points us to a scathing piece in Alternet about our old friends the child torturing Semblers, founders of the criminally liable Straight, Inc. that morphed into the equally chilling Drug Free America Foundation, an organization that offers tortured policy recommendations designed to benefit drug testing companies and other prohibition profiteers. Worse yet, the demons who administered Straight are still practicing their bad juju on kids today in smaller spin-off "boot camps."

Radley has the latest in his series of Militarizing Mayberry. He points us to Mundelein, Illinois, population 36,600, where police conducted a raid and drug search that netted a couple of joint's worth of marijuana and left the 48 year old woman handcuffed on the floor while she was having a heart attack. When they finally took to her to the hospital, over an hour later, she was rushed to surgery. Fortunately she lived but this is no way for our public servants -sworn to serve and protect - to be treating a citizen.

Megan at D'Alliance gives her first impressions of the conference in Long Beach.

Scott at Grits for Breakfast is in Long Beach himself but leaves a terrific post on how to alleviate prison overcrowding.

Loretta Nall is organizing a fabulous project to bring Christmas to children of incarcerated parents.

Dr. Tom defines the medical in medical marijuana. He has some sharp words for practictioners employing poor clinical practices in diagnoses.

TChris at Talk Left has stupid pot tricks. I hate these stories. I find it hard to believe anyone smoking the stuff could be that dumb. It gives cannabis consumers a bad name you know.

And our newest bloggers at the Dare Generation Diary have more on that snowman and will be sending in updates from Long Beach as well.

Building a Movement for Reason, Compassion and Justice

Well I'm really sad I couldn't get to Long Beach this weekend for the Drug Policy Alliance reform conference. Looking at the line-up of speakers and sessions, it appears this event just gets better every year and I'm missing a chance to catch up with many reformers I know personally and meet in person some I know only through the internets.

I would have asked someone to send in on site reports but remembering my own experience, it's almost too overwhelming to write about while it's happening. Heck even the ever prolific Phil Smith at DRC Net could only manage a brief report although he did offer an interview with Norm Stamper as consolation.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sea of Madness

Now this comes from the UK News of the World, which appears to be an Enquirer style tabloid but I don't doubt it's true. The Royal Navy is awash with drugs. A couple of quotes from this amusing piece.
Our revelations come just days after the Navy's sensational £200million cocaine bust in the Caribbean. We infiltrated the drug culture at HMS Nelson, a shore base at Portsmouth.

And we even managed to buy drugs INSIDE the barracks from an ecstasy-fuelled sailor—at a time our forces are meant to be on full terror alert.

..."I've done coke in here, ecstasy, ketamine, pretty much everything. Anyone would be f***ing shocked to find out how many off us take drugs inside the Navy. A mate of mine brought up a whole ounce of coke and we were doing line after line.
Personally I don't find it that shocking. What would they expect a bunch of young pumped up guys to do while they're waiting for something to happen, not to mention live with what they witness? Servicemen are lengendary for their propensity to get trashed.

Traveling Woodstock

I never felt drawn to India itself but in the late 60s and early 70s I wanted to go Nepal and Kashmir. I never made it and nowadays they don't seem like such attractive destinations. Nonetheless, I really liked this story on the Nepalese rock band Nepatya, who are traveling through Nepal on a Peace Tour.
"People are so terrified of the gun, [of] Maoists and army people," lead singer Amrit Gurung said.

"Everywhere, there is the gun. So people cannot walk from village to village. From the villages they don't want to come to the market towns."

Nepatya were playing eight concerts on a tour of the country, aiming to spread a message of peace and give hope to Nepal's rural population, traumatised by nearly a decade of conflict. Some 200,000 people watched the Sundar Shanta Nepal (Beautiful Peaceful Nepal) Travelling Peace Concert, which toured the country from east to west and back again.
We're talking backcountry here, where people don't own cars and rarely leave their villages. Yet the came for the music.
By midday old men and women, toddlers and babies and innumerable teenagers had turned up for the show. Some had walked for hours, organisers said.

Amrit Bahadur Pandey, 70, told the BBC that conflict had become a way of life in the area and that he simply wanted to be part of such a big gathering, the largest ever seen in Charikot.

"I'm curious to know if a concert can bring peace," he said.
So am I. I certainly hope it can.

Happy Holidaze

This is ridiculous. WalMart, ever attempting to burnish its tarnished image, fired a new employee for honestly answering a customer's complaint about the store using a Happy Holidays theme instead of caving in to this emerging obsession among the fundie fruitcakes who think only their religion counts and the store should kowtow to them by proudly declaring Merry Christmas and the hell with those "other heathens" who don't celebrate the holiday.

Personally I always liked Happy Holidays. For one thing there's so many darn events clustered together from Thanksgiving through to New Year's that it always seemed more expansive. I mean you wish someone Merry Christmas, that doesn't include New Years as well, you know what I mean? But the idiocy of the controversy aside, I thought the now terminated employee, Kirby, gave a respectful and informative answer.

The e-mail, which Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said was genuine, said Wal-Mart had to act as a global organization in a world with many different practices.

''The colors associated with Christmas red and white are actually a representation of the aminita mascera (sic) mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses (sic), mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world,'' said the e-mail, from a customer service worker identified only as Kirby.

WalMart called it inflammatory and disavowed any support for it's entirely factual contents. I thought Kirby gave a brilliant answer, but I suppose such critical thinking would feel threatening to WalMart. They much prefer obedient automatons. Kirby's better off out of there but his answer did remind me of the old Christmas cards and other European holiday themes where amanita mushrooms are prominently featured. It never occurred to me to find out why until now.

I'm not so sure this explains why it's lucky but as the author points out,
It appears that Amanita muscaria, commonly called “deadly” in our part of the world, is probably humanity’s oldest entheogen, or connection to the gods. During its long history it has been used to induce visions in mystic and magical practices, some of them dating back 4,000 years. These psychedelic properties were applied in our millennium by Siberian shamans, among others, who apparently ingested small amounts to bring on their trances.
It could explain the visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads....

Meth bill stalls in Congress

It's only temporary. An attempt to attach an amendment to a funding bill banning OTC sales of common cold medicines failed when the Senate and the House couldn't agree on the language. Unfortunately, Mark Souder's even more odious proposed legislation containing draconian sentencing penalities for possession of small amounts of meth, passed through the House Judiciary Committee and congressional aides are predicting Congress could pass a meth bill as early as next week.

Contact your Congressman and tell them incarcerating addicts will not solve the problem of meth abuse and locking up cold medicines will not stop meth production.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Spain allows Sativex into pharmaceutical use

I never know whether to be happy or not over the inroads Sativex is making into the legitimate medical market but Spain just authorized a limited access to it for certain patients.

I'm certainly happy the patients will be afforded the relief from the extract but I worry about allowing the pharmas to gain control of the delivery system. Nonetheless, it's a welcome step forward towards public acceptance of cannabis as a medicine.

Medical Marijuana Action Alert

From Marijuana Policy Project.
Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) — along with nine cosponsors — introduced the "Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would end the federal government's gag order on medical marijuana defendants in federal court by ensuring that they can introduce evidence that their marijuana-related activity was for a valid medical purpose under state law.
They have an easy click and send letter in support at the MPP site. Our Congressmen won't change the laws unless they hear from us. Please take a moment to sign on.

Michigan voters pass medical marijuana measures

Marijuana Policy Project reports voters in Ferndale and Traverse City passed initatives in support of medical marijuana by overwhelming margins, joining Detroit and Ann Arbor who passed similar measures earlier.
In final, unofficial returns, Ferndale's Proposal D, which would remove the threat of arrest and jail under city law for seriously ill people who use and grow marijuana with their doctors' recommendations, was passing by 61% to 39%. Traverse City's Proposal 3, which would make the prosecution of medical marijuana patients the city's lowest law enforcement priority, won by 63% to 37%, according to final, unofficial returns posted on the city Web site.
I'd like to think my relentless blogging in support of drug policy reform at DetNews had something to do with that, but more likely the good citizens of Michigan reached this common sense decision on their own. Good for them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Russians look at legalization

This is certainly interesting.
Georgian officials consider legalizing marijuana
TBILISI, November 8 (RIA Novosti) - Representatives of the Council for Drug Policy under the Georgian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare said marijuana might be legalized in the country.

"Introducing such amendments to the country's legislation will reduce the number of drug-related crimes," council chairperson Tamara Sirbiladze told Novosti-Georgia.

Proposals to legalize the use of marijuana will be discussed in the near future at a special conference arranged by the council's press club.
One wonders why a government agency has a press club but it sounds like an entirely sensible proposition to me.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

The good harvest

I've meaning to post a link to this by my friend Ann Harrison. In a piece at Alternet, she takes us inside a medical marijuana grow in California. She reminds us how easy it is to forget the trials of those who risk much to bring medicine to the afflicted. Read it all, it's a fascinating look at the trim camps, but here's a couple of choice quotes to get you started.
While San Francisco city supervisors haggle over cultivation limits and zoning restrictions for medical cannabis dispensaries there's another reality taking place a couple hundred miles to the north. Whatever the supervisors decide, someone has to grow all the pot that gets smoked by patients in the city -- and no matter how friendly city officials are to the end product, the growers are still hounded by law enforcement.

...The farmers who tend these plants are also creating environmentally and socially responsible cannabis farms very different from the armed, old-school, commercial marijuana plantations that feed an insatiable market but often damage the land.
These farms provide a model for what a legalized system would look like. These are gentle, respectful operations. There's no violence surrounding these grows, nor is there drug abuse and greed. Sounds like a better plan than prohibition to me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Meth and gays - pure hype

The WaPo has a fairly extensive article in today's newspaper about meth abuse in the gay community, playing on the implication that gays use it to enhance sex. Frankly I don't understand this alleged nexus. As I've confessed before, I went through a stage in the early 70s where I was a fairly copious user of meth for a few months. I don't recall it having any particular effect on sexual inhibitions - not that there were many in those days - but in my experience "free sex" was more likely to fueled by the case of Ripple wine delivered weekly to our commune door by an accomodating package store. The meth users in the house were more likely to be found in intense conversation over some minute philosophical point on the state of society or the latest political malfeasance.

Gay people weren't as open in those days either, so it's hard to tell if there's some historic attraction particularly for gays, but one tends to think its prevalence in the gay community now, it it's true, is more a matter of gays generally being more likely to be overacheivers who begin using the drug in order to get more work done and eventually get hooked on the high. Of course, as I've also noted, the meth in my day was pure, being made of safer precusor ingredients. Perhaps the toxic junk they call meth today affects the user differently. If so, it's just another example of how a prohibition policy towards drugs has made things worse instead of better.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Poll watching

There a poll in the Vancouver newspaper that's on the wrong side of the issue right now. It's asking "Should the use of illegal drugs cease to be a matter for criminal prosecution?" It's losing 58 to 42 right now. It's a tricky question. The correct answer is obviously yes.

Click on over and give common sense a boost. You have to scroll down and find it on the right sidebar. It's small.

Taking prohibition to task

Garrison Keillor has a nice op-ed making the rounds on the embarassment of "tough on drugs" policies. It's short, so read it all but here's the money quote.
The cruelty of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 is stark indeed, as are the sentencing guidelines that impose mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug possession-guidelines in the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that sailed through Congress without benefit of public hearings, drafted before an election by Democrats afraid to be labeled "soft on drugs." As a result, a marijuana grower can land in prison for life without parole while a murderer might be in for eight years.

No rational person can defend this; it is a Dostoevskian nightmare and it exists only because politicians fled in the face of danger.

That includes Bill Clinton, under whose administration the prosecution of Americans for marijuana went up hugely, so that now there are more folks in prison for marijuana than for violent crimes. More than for manslaughter or rape. This only makes sense in the fantasy world of Washington, where perception counts for more than reality.
And the reality, as Keillor puts it, is a foul tragedy.

[hat tip to JackL]

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Facts and Figures on Black Market Drugs

Off the AP wire from U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime; Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) and a DEA report.
- 200 million, or 5 percent of the world's population - number of people worldwide aged 15-64 who have used drugs at least once in the last 12 months.

- $13 billion - estimated value of global illicit drug market in 2003 at production level.

- $94 billion - estimated value at the wholesale level.

- $322 billion - estimated value at retail level.
That adds up to $429 billion untaxed dollars in a an unregulated market. Also, because it's illegal, it attracts violence. And it adds another $40 billion onto the law enforcement end. Add to that the social costs of a prohibition policy such as hospital costs for untreated addicts and public assistance to broken families.The amount of money a legal industry could generate might save the social security system.

We wouldn't eliminate all the problems associated with abuse, but we would certainly eliminate most of the violence and property crime associated with it. Legalizing alcohol didn't elimate alcoholism, but when is the last time you heard about a shooting over a beer truck delivery?

Prohibition is simply not the answer. Consider the costs of our Drug Enforcement Agency alone. Look at how it's escalated over 40 years. It's only tangible result being a half a million people in prison on drug charges.
- $65.2 million - 1972 Drug Enforcement Administration budget.

- 2,775 - 1972 number of DEA employees.

- $2.1 billion - 2005 DEA budget.

- 10,894 - 2005 number of DEA employees.

We're paying $2.1 billion to have these bad boys arresting people in hospital beds, harassing doctors and their patients who live with daily pain, not to mention violating foreign sovereignty by chasing down political activists in other countries. Anybody notice that there are less drugs on the streets? Me neither.

Four days to vacation

It's another long shift today and the tyke is antsy from his flu shot so light posting and I won't be back here until later tonight - probably after 9:00. I do have a couple of posts up at the other blogs though.

Meanwhile, it's a glorious day anyway, which if you can believe the weather station is true for most of the country today. Much too nice to be spending indoors in front of the computer.

Snowman frosts authorities

Well here's a tempest in a teapot.
Anti-drug campaigners and education officials are alarmed, saying the T-shirt and others like it are part of sophisticated marketing campaigns using coded symbols for drug culture that parents and teachers are not likely to understand. Some schools are banning kids from wearing the snowman images.
Give me a break. It's just a shirt - a fad - that will die down in time but go ahead and ban it. Like that's going to stop kids from using drugs.

The really sad part is, a kid could wear the shirt to look cool without actually taking any drugs. Without the symbolic gesture, he's more likely to be pressured into using drugs to prove his coolness.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

DEA gets final say over prescription drugs - NOT

I didn't know this and it really pisses me off. The DEA must sign off on any new FDA-approved medications containing controlled substances before they can be sold. WTF are our legislators thinking, putting the practice of medicine into the hands of cops? It's bad enough they're conducting a vendetta against pain management practitioners that has virtually destroyed the specialty, resulting in millions of Americans living with unneccessary pain, but now they get to prevent new medicines from reaching that same market?
The disputed provision, sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), was approved in a House-Senate conference committee last year with little debate and without a Senate vote. But opposition surfaced this year as the appropriations bill has worked its way through the conference. John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said the conference's version is not expected to be voted on until today at the earliest.

...Before the provision was passed last year, the DEA's role with prescription drugs was primarily to decide how much of a controlled drug each company got to make, and then to monitor the use of those drugs on the market. Now, however, the DEA must sign off on any new FDA-approved medications containing controlled substances before they can be sold.
The new bill gives the DEA $201 million to spend on preventing prescription drug diversion persecuting doctors, an increase of more than $47 million from last year.

It's too infuriating - how far amok can this war on some drugs run before the public demands that the DEA be disbanded?

Update: Well that was fast. Thanks to the Media Awarness Project for archiving this speedy response to my outrage at this article. It appears our lawmakers found their common sense after all and failed to renew the provision giving the DEA final say over the introduction of new narcotic based drugs. Ironically we have the pharma corps partly to thank for it.
But this year the Food and Drug Administration, many drug makers and doctors who treat pain patients objected to renewing it, and the provision was stripped from the bill.
It's a good first step. Now maybe our legislators could stay awake long enough to take the persecution of the doctors themselves out of the DEA's grimy hands and put the review of best medical practices back with the peer group organizations where it belongs.

Thanking the drug war warriors

Thehim is posting at the hysterically funny Jesus General this week. We thank him for the links and advise you go check out his posts at JG.

My favorite line:
But my son's friend also informed me that even if you don't have one of those "water-pipes," you can just use an empty soda can! I never realized how much danger all of us are in. Please know that if you decide to invade the food court, you'll have my support.
Do not read while drinking if you value your keyboard.

Drug war hits home for "star" cop

Law enforcement "legend" John Timoney, who had a 25-year career with the NYPD and was chief of police in Philly before taking his current position as Miami chief of police has a family problem with drugs. His daughter struggled for years against heroin addiction.

Now his 25 year old son was just busted in a sting operation while trying to purchase 400 lbs of marijuana. Now if the war on some drugs had a prayer of working, don't you think that at least the cops would be able to keep their kids from consuming them?

It's like we always say. You can't stop the demand but you can stop wasting billions of tax dollars on failed methodology.

A call for legalized heroin

I'm not so hip on pop culture these days, but I'm sure many of you know who the group Motorhead is. Frontman for the band, Lemmy, recently called for legalization as a means to reduce the harms of drugs when he was invited to speak at the Welsh Assembly.
He said: "I have never had heroin but since I moved to London in 1967, I have mixed with junkies on a casual and almost daily basis. I hate the idea even as I say it, but the only way to treat heroin is to legalise it."

...He added: "If it were on prescription, then at least two thirds of the dealers would disappear and you would have records of who was using it.
If a junkie has a regular supply, most are able to do a job. They will never rehabilitate until somebody - you - gives them a chance to."
There you have it. No one will ever convince me that heroin is a "good" drug, but I am convinced that some people who prefer it are able to use it responsibly and those who abuse and become addicted would be better helped by a legalized delivery method.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Friday, November 04, 2005

Highest high school?

Vermont was once the marijuana growing capital of the US. That's not really true anymore but the residents are still pretty laid back. There's always a been a bit of disconnect between the public and the local press up there though and The Bennington Banner certainly misses the point with this editorial. The Banner has its knickers in a knot over a survey showing students are doing more drugs. They're particularly upset about a rise in marijuana use and the fact that the class valedictorians were busted for possession of a pound of pot.

So what's the problem? They don't document any correlated rise in negative consequences from the marijuana use and don't they choose valedictorians based on scholastic merit? Shouldn't the theme of that editorial be more appropriately - cannabis consumers make excellent students?