Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Cross Words

So on a whim, I answered my invitation to host a Google AdShare Ad. I figured with my hit count they wouldn't bother to answer but they did and they really irritated me for rejecting me on my content. I'm guessing they don't even read the sites but send in some spidery thing and look for trip words instead. My topic being what it is, would be bound to set off the alarm system. I was betting no human being ever read it. This is what they sent me tonight:

Hello Libby,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your application, our program specialists have found that the website currently associated with your account does not comply with our policies. Therefore, we're unable to accept you into Google AdSense at this time.

We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below. If you are able to resolve these issues, please feel free to reply to this email for reconsideration when you have made the changes.


- Drugs or drug paraphernalia


Further detail:

Drugs or drug paraphernalia: Google believes strongly in the freedom of expression and offers broad access to content across the web without censoring search results. However, Google policy does not permit the placement of AdWords ads on sites promoting illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia. We've found your site content currently violates this policy. Please review our policies for a complete list of site content not allowed on web pages.

This offended me because it abridges your right to discuss the problem if the words themselves, apart from their context, are unacceptable. I replied of course.

Dear Google Team:

Thank you for reviewing my site. I am aware of and appreciate your policies however I believe you are mistaken about the content and intent of my blog.

I do not promote nor advocate for the use of drugs and/or paraphernalia. What I advocate is the awareness and acceptance of the fact that drug use (and abuse)exists in society; that it has always existed and that no amount of punitive legislation, interdiction nor ecologically unsound eradication efforts will solve this problem. My site addresses the need to change policies and practices that are currently endangering the planet and the safety of future generations.

Last One Speaks addresses the abject failure of the War on Drugs to eliminate the dangers of the black market and also focuses on how its excesses impact our civil rights and national treasury. Our current policies cost the US taxpayer 40 billion dollars a year, have contributed to an unprecedented and unwarranted rise in the incarceration rate -(the US is currently the biggest jailer on the planet)- and with 1 out of 3 black men in America in jail, it is shredding the family structure of an entire ethnic class, (notably an economically disadvantaged one) and destroying the foundation of civil society.

My blog proposes a practical solution to failed, taxpayer-funded government programs that currently cause more harm than good. I'm making a political statement about a controversial issue but I am certainly not enlisting others into any illegal activity. I am trying to help them out of it.

Thus I believe my site was rejected under an incorrect criteria and respectfully request to be listed as rejected on other grounds.

Thank you for your consideration in advance.



I don't think it will sway their decision, but I hope it makes them think.

A competitor for Kdrink?

This does sound refreshing, but I wouldn't start waiting in line at the grocery store for it as long as John Walters is drug czar and don't expect to hear about in Malta anytime soon either.

Officer, arrest that tree!

Yet another case of blaming flora for human flaws. Superlative Suppository points us to a story on a troublesome tree in Florida.

Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies think they have found a solution for getting rid of drug dealers and prostitutes who congregate under a giant oak tree: chop it down.

The idea is apparently a big hit with the neighbors who are threatening to move unless action is taken, however county officials came out in defense of the hapless oak and have accepted a free trimming offered by Fritz Bros. Tree Service along with sealing the crevices in the tree where contraband can be hidden. Fritz is clearly one of those tree lovers.

"It's an old tree and I think it would be a shame to cut it down without pursuing other options, increasing patrols, putting a fence around it, pruning it," Fritz said. "It's like we're cutting off our arm because our hand is offending us."

The neighbors are not satisfied with the solution but as Sister Geoff so succinctly puts it, "Yes, people would be model citizens who urinated only in approved places, do not use illegal substances or exchange money for sex if we just cut down that damned devil tree! Cut it down and all will be well!"

Yeah, right.

The war on flora

Ridiculous drug eradication of the day is this search and destroy mission in Pennsylvania.

LISBON — With a helicopter overhead and a small army made up of state and local agencies, the search for marijuana plants in Columbiana County was under way Friday.
The search was hardly an easy task to accomplish.

...The Columbiana County Drug Task Force, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and members of the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department were all part of a team combined with a helicopter from the state to eradicate marijuana.

....The helicopter was manned with a BCI agent and several members of drug enforcement agencies flying overhead keeping a sharp eye on the ground for marijuana plants growing throughout the county.

...There were a total of 68 marijuana plants discovered during the search, according to Sgt. Brian McLaughlin, director of the CCDTF. The value of the plants found during the search is estimated at $68,000.

First of all look at the photo that went with this story. There are no buds on those plants. They are worthless at this point and even if the plants were actually worth $1,000 a piece, I would bet with all those cops and the helicopter, the cost of the operation far exceeded that figure.

Not to mention these appeared to be personal use grows and if the goal was really to stop drug dealers, these raids have the opposite effect. The loss of their personal crop will force these people to go out and get their herb on the black market. Counterproductive all around.

Around my bloggerhood

Baylen at D'Alliance, as always, has a huge roundup of interesting news in the world of the war on some drugs. Don't miss his update on the new strain of coca plant being developed in the producer coutries, a story on the most confused Missouri Rep Roy Blunt who thinks that destroying cannabis plants will somehow end the meth business, and a link to a couple of good editorials on drug sniffing dogs in the schools and the destructive absurdity of the war on pain doctors.

Meanwhile Pete at Drug WarRant continues to publish his imminently useful and important election guide for voters in state level campaigns across the country. Just start at the top and keep reading.

Monday, August 30, 2004

There's a difference

Sorry kids, I blew my lunch hour posting at Detroit about the convention protesters so only have time for this quick item. A court of law in India apparently sees the difference between cannabis flower buds (called ganga there) and cannabis leaves (called bhang) and reversed a judgment against Arjun Singh who was convicted under the laws for possession of ganga when he was actually in possession of bhang.

So when is US law enforcement going catch up with this logic when they are valuing those eradicated plants?

Morning read

I'm running late this morning so I sending you over to Vice Squad for the morning's news. Everything is worth reading as always but be sure not to miss this story on using already available chemical drugs to treat drug addictions.

While I appreciate the intent of the research, I have to say I find its goals somewhat disturbing. For one thing treating chemical dependency with more chemicals seems a little counterproductive, especially since they are ignoring the emerging data on the herb ibogaine which by all accounts has been tremendously successful in treating addictions and does not require continously taking a drug. I'm also greatly concerned to see marijuana mentioned in the context of addictive drugs requiring such chemical intervention.

Vice Squad also points us to this week's New York Times Book Review on the 9/11 Commission's report. It's long but Jim points out that Judge Richard Posner makes seven of his own recommendations and number six is:

The thousands of federal agents assigned to the ''war on drugs,'' a war that is not only unwinnable but probably not worth winning, should be reassigned to the war on international terrorism..

Thanks to Jim for noticing that I made the same point in yesterday's post.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

House of Hemp

Here's a positive development. Researchers in Australia are about to conduct an experiment in house building using hemp bricks. This is actually an age-old use for the agricultural hemp plant which is said to have 25,000 other uses and that does not include getting high.

However it's new for New South Wales and Southern Cross University in Lismore has a bumper crop of hemp to work with. It's not clear to me why the experiment in brickmaking is being conducted in great secrecy as these homes are already being built in other countries. Perhaps they just want to stay ahead of the local competition. In any event, since we have been advocating for the expanded use of this beneficial plant for years now, we wish them luck with this project.

The real dope on grow-op busts

I don't know why I keep posting on these ridiculous grow busts except that I find this sort of misinformation and flagrant waste of tax dollars so irritating that giving a big ARRRRGH out loud, kind of helps. Take this first item for instance.

On Thursday, an anonymous tip led officers to four plants that were some of the largest they had ever seen. The biggest was 14 feet tall, and together the plants weighed 120 pounds.

The numbers are meaningless. That's wet weight, including the stalks which I would bet on 14 foot plant could be 6 inches or larger in diameter and heavy. Let me reiterate for the non-consumer, the only part of a cannabis plant that has commercial value is the dried flower buds. If the plant didn't have any buds yet, it could be forty feet tall and still be worthless. It's unlikely to be worth 50 grand just because it's big. Then there's this theory.

Deputies have found six different marijuana fields that have enough similarities that they believe the same suspects were growing them. At each one of these fields, there have been 70 to 100 plants. These suspects are truly marijuana farmers, Seawell said.

How many dissimilarities could there be between different outdoor grows? Not to mention that they later admit they have no idea who the suspects are. Deputies further declare the pot would have been sold locally. I guess they use a clairvoyant to tell them that. How do they know it wouldn't be sold in Cleveland? But here, as always is the clincher that sets my teeth on edge.

Deputies work with the North Carolina National Guard and the SBI several times a year to conduct what they call “eradication operations.” The National Guard helicopter is the main investigative tool, Seawell said.

That's National Guard as in taxpayer funded equipment paid for with federal taxes earmarked for national defense, not plant interdiction. I ask you one more time, shouldn't these guys be out there protecting us from terrorists with bombs instead of fooling around on weed patrol?

Separation between church and state blurring

George Bush is a big proponent of faith-based rehab programs and when he was governor, the state of Texas funded many of them under his administration. These programs treat drug addiction as a sin and provide Bible study as the treatment. All well and good if an addict enters the program under their free will. However, as evidenced in the case of Joe Hanas, a non-violent drug offender, the danger to democracy and our freedom of religion, lies in permitting blatant religious coercion by endorsing one religion over another and actively demanding conversion.

As part of a progressive court program, Hanas had a chance to receive drug rehabilitation rather than go to jail. There was, unfortunately, one major problem - Joe Hanas is a practicing Catholic, and the program was operated by Pentecostals. Though the judge's intent may not have been for Hanas to convert to the Pentecostal faith, his test for Hanas' successful completion of the "drug court" program hinged on just that.

The coercion was extreme, and it was an elected judge who allowed it. Hanas' rosary, his Bible and his priest were all kept from him. Staff members, none of them certified or trained drug counselors or therapists, told him that Catholicism is a form of "witchcraft." He was not only forbidden to follow his Catholic faith, but he was also tested on his learning of Pentecostal principles.

And, he was told, his rehabilitation would not be complete until he knelt at the altar and proclaimed himself "saved."

Joe's only choice was to convert or request transfer to a secular program. Unfortunately, the judge took the request as a lack of commitment and took away, "the only opportunity Hanas had to receive affordable residential drug rehabilitation and a possible dismissal of the charges."

While there are some good faith-based agencies that provide contracted government services to all regardless of affiliation, allowing Hanas to be placed in this program by a court order, and then essentially using his commitment to his own religious beliefs to sentence him to jail sets a dangerous precedent.

You say it's your birthday

A belated happy birthday to the Daddy Warbucks of all bloggers, Glenn Reynolds. We're often on the opposite sides of any given political issue but over the last year I've found we have a surprising amount of common ground and he does set a high standard for productivity. Besides, although I have seen Drudge credited for this, I think Glenn is largely responsible for giving blogging "legs" in the shaping of public opinion.

So even though he certainly doesn't need the traffic, send him a birthday wish anyway.

Horticultural breakthrough

Baylen at D'Alliance points us to a story on this new strain of coca plant being developed in Colombia. The plants are said to be substantially more potent in terms of the extractable ingredient that forms cocaine base and grows more than twice as tall as the traditional plants. Further this new cultivar is a lighter color, (making it harder to find) and is genetically resistant to the herbicides currently employed under Plan Colombia (that's the one funded by 400 million of your tax dollars).

This development could pretty much wipe out what little (if any) effect that eradication program has had on the production of cocaine overall in the producer countries in South America. One would hope this would encourage both the US and Colombian governments to abandon the program but I wouldn't hold my breath. Both entities still want a military presence in those areas to protect other US business interests.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Cannabis consumers make great athletes

Another Olympic athlete tested positive for marijuana and was removed from the team.

John Capel, the 200-meter world champion last year, was replaced on the U.S. 400-meter relay team because he tested positive for marijuana, an official familiar with the decision said Saturday.

Capel, a long time toker was also previously penalized by the NFL.

A wide receiver at Florida, he was selected by the NFL's Chicago Bears in 2001, but tested positive for the drug at the draft combine. On May 5, 2001, he was charged with possession of marijuana, and the Bears released him.

So if this herb is supposed to be so bad for your lungs, how come all these athletes excel at their sports while they're active consumers?

New things

The planets have got to be in some kind of strange configuration because there's been this crazy energy around me all week. My watch died on the way to work the other day. I broke down and spent five bucks over my ten dollar limit and just got a new one right away at the CVS downtown. I'm happy to report it feels just like the old one on my wrist and looks similar enough that it's not jarring to check the time. I'm funny that way, a little change like a new watch often throws me off for a week or so til I get used to it.

Blogger also fixed my nav bar as you can see. Actually it was kind of a group effort. I really hated that hanging code so I emailed support again. I get a email back saying, I can use Blogger's FTP option together with my own hosting provider. Users of Blogger's free hosting service do not have the option of turning the navbar off but they may change the color any time.... Fine. As if I know what that means. I was calling it the search function thingy instead of a nav bar. And when I checked the page, it wasn't even there anymore.

Since the email said I couldn't turn it off (being a a lowly free blogsiter) I figured that maybe I had to pay for it and they had given it to me by mistake the first time. I was half-way through composing another plea for help when I decided to just go look into the template first. I'm still not sure how I got it to come back, but it works and I can change the color and everything. Very cool function but the search doesn't really return comprehensive results. Nonetheless, it was a techno -breakthrough for me. Now if I could just find someone who would give me a few hours of private instruction in CSS....

UK Court accepts eczema defense

Here's a sane and humane decision from the UK courts. Ian Howarth was given a conditional discharge for growing his own cannabis based on the court's belief he was smoking it to relieve the symptoms of his severe eczema.

The 25 year old, regularly hospitalized, and out on sick leave on account of the condition, smoked cannabis to relieve the itching and very often the pain he suffers from eczema. He was caught with 7 mature plants and ten seedlings.

There was no word as to what the judge did about the other counts of petty thievery for Howarth's having stolen some tubes of ointment and a tank full of petrol for his car.

Alaska court protects cannabis consumers

Alaska's Court of Appeals ruled Friday that police cannot execute a search warrant in a person's home for possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana.

The opinion is the latest decision that has carved out protections for possessing marijuana in an Alaska home. The state Supreme Court in 1975 ruled that an adult's rights to limited marijuana possession was protected under the state constitution's privacy provisions. Last year, the Appeals Court defined that limit as 4 ounces.

The Appeals Court also struck down a 1990 voter initiative that criminalized possession of any amount of marijuana.

Rejecting the state's argument that earlier decisions did not legalize marijuana possession in the home, the court ruled the earlier decisions actually defined a constitutional limitation to the government's ability to prohibit marijuana possession.

Alaska's AG, Gregg Renkes, is of course appealing the ruling saying it will be virtually impossible to prosecute growers without a witness to testify to the size of the grow. In retaliation he intends to ask the feds, in the person of the US Attorney's office, to be more aggressive in busting marijuana growers, as the court's ruling does not affect federal cases. Of course he seems to be forgetting the upcoming SCOTUS review of Raich v. Ashcroft may change all that within a few months.

Me, I'm thinking it's way past time to visit my brother in Anchorage.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Dumb dealer tricks

Well I'm sorry to say it, but this was just plain stupid. It's this sort of behavior that gives responsible substance consumers a bad name. Two employees at the financial services company Prudential in Scotland have been fired after it was discovered they were using the company email to sell drugs from work. They apparently did encode the mail, but the company cracked the code and a police raid on the pair's home turned up a quantity of amphetamines, cannabis and ecstasy. Even worse, six of their co-workers were also accused of complicity in the dealing after their names were found on the alleged dealers' email lists.


Marijuana's wide-ranging medical applications

Alternet has a great article up today on "mental marijuana". Now that the medical applications for the herb are beginning to gain some acceptance among medical providers treating cancer and other "wasting" illnesses, it's only natural that the psychiatric practitioners would also want to scruntinize the medical benefits of the herb for their own work.

Our government fights this tooth and nail saying there is no scientific basis to prove the new theories that cannabis can also afford relief to those who suffer from psychiatric disorders including depression and bipolar disorders. Of course this ignores the fact that most modern medicine breakthroughs were initially based on anecdotal evidence.

For example, four years ago, the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission was petitioned to add mental illness to its list of approved uses of medical marijuana. The commission denied the request. It argued that there was no lock-solid scientific evidence that weed worked for mental illness. The odd thing is that it had approved pot for treatment of Alzheimer's, Krohn's disease, chronic pain, and wasting syndrome based upon - you guessed it - anecdotal evidence.

The feds would like to suppress the research of course and quote reports out of context to make their case, conveniently ignoring any data that supports the use of the herb.

As proof, the DEA touts the following from a 1999 scientific report: It states that " . . . there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication."

The report was prepared by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the independent National Academies of Science. Interestingly, the feds lifted that quote from deep in the report. But perhaps more telling is that only one sentence later, the report says: "The personal medical use of smoked marijuana, 'regardless of whether or not it is approved' to treat certain symptoms is reason enough to advocate clinical trials to assess the degree to which the symptoms or course of diseases are affected."

The IOM backed that up with several strong recommendations that medical marijuana should be thoroughly studied -- you know, like scientists study every other treatment under the sun.

Philip Dawdy, looking through the microscope of personal experience, sums the problem up well and has the last word on the argument that the side effects of this plant preclude it's use as a medicine.

So let's assume that weed works for a minority of the mentally ill. Doctors usually come back with the assertion that pot has too many side effects, such as respiratory ailments, to even consider its use. I wonder what universe they live in. Long-term use of psych meds themselves carries a host of side effects, which have been poorly evaluated in long-term studies ; kidney and liver damage chief among them, along with nausea, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, sleep interference, and hair loss. And they talk about the side effects of marijuana -- By comparison, pot's side effects are almost minimal. So, I'll take that medical marijuana any day -- I'd simply like to do it legally.

And so, I believe, would most of us if given a choice.

Around my bloggerhood

Pete at Drug WarRant is on a roll this week and has some great posts up. Check out his election guide and his follow-up on Goose Creek with an editorial by a local newspaper that notes, "The law may exonerate police and school officials for staging the raid. But no one should pretend that the grave injustice they perpetrated upon Stratford students has been remedied."

Pete also points us to the new DOJ report that debunks drug czar John Walters false and absurd claims about cannabis consumption. This however, we already knew about and are also eagerly awaiting it's arrival in US supermarkets.

Meanwhile, Baylen at D'Alliance points us to an interesting story on First Amendment rights and souvenir tshirts from towns called Hemp-anything. And Vice Squad has the corrupt cop story of the week about this jail administrator arrested for providing almost two ounces of cocaine to an inmate.

Finally thanks to Avedon Carol at Sideshow for pointing us to a post at TalkLeft I would have missed about a cop in Long Beach, California who found some cannabis plants growing in the yard of a certified medical marijuana patient and left her and her plants alone. Avedon also has an interesting post on female bloggers.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Forget something?

You know how it is when you're moving. You start out all full of energy thinking it will only take a little while to get your worldly goods packed and moved. However, as the time wears on and the amount of stuff doesn't look appreciably smaller, you start getting a little less meticulous and in fact you might just start throwing stuff loose into the truck. Inevitably by the end you forget and leave something behind.

I can just imagine this couple driving down the highway with their big moving van. One looks at the other and says, "But honey, I thought you moved the grow room." And then there's that awful dead silence when you both realize nobody did it and you left the cannabis plants behind.


Mary Thompson, Mary Thompson

I have no idea why this is happening but all of a sudden there's been a lot of new blogs popping up in my referral logs. I try to capture them when I can, but I save them in too many places and they get lost. I just found this one that I really liked again. I'm a little concerned about her shopping at Walmart but I loved her photos. I think she has a really good eye for composition. Check her work out.

Free Marc Emery

More on Marc Emery. His supporters have started a petition drive. There's only 500 names so far. Show your support for our brethren up north and sign here.

Reverend Damuzi posts an excellent article on Cannabis Culture analyzing the reasons this travesty could have occurred despite the formerly enlightened attitude towards cannabis by the Canadian government as late as last summer. The Rev makes a particularly good point on the contradictions of this war on consumers of plants.

A perfect example of this propaganda is the drug-war myth that cannabis and other euphorant, medicinal plants are destroying the environment. Meanwhile, in an attempt to kill these very plants, thousands of pounds of rainforest-decimating toxic chemicals are sprayed over vast tracts by government contractors, wiping out food crops, native plants, and dozens of species - killing human children quickly but letting their parents linger a little longer as guinea pigs for potential future cancer research.

In the wake of this big picture, the drug war is a tool of mental, spiritual, medical and physical oppression. It is the excuse to kick in the door of any activist, to haul free thinkers to jail, to limit our ways of understanding and expressing our views of the world.

Also up at Cannabis Culture is Dana Larsen's piece looking at the history of this conviction and featuring an interview with Marc from the jail. Marc appears to be well enough other than losing weight since the prison does not accommodate his vegetarian diet and there's little he can eat, but his spirit remains strong and he's resigned himself to serving his sentence even though the trial didn't go the way he intended due to a misunderstanding with his lawyer who entered a guilty plea against his wishes. He notes the result would have been the same.

"The judge was actually aware that I've given $200,000 to a drug addiction clinic, that I've adopted four children, that I haven't have any criminal conviction of any kind for six years," said Emery. "He knew that the convictions I did have are all for seeds, and that I have actually never been accused of selling or cultivating marijuana or been convicted of anything like that."

He is encouraging people to write to the authorities and the press but not on his own behalf. Rather he wants his supporters to address the inadequacies in cannabis law.

"Your letters should not be calling for me to be released. The point should be that this could happen to anyone, and it does happen to people who don't have media connections and attention like I do. Every week someone in Canada goes away for a long time for small amounts of marijuana. The people in Vancouver and Toronto live in a privileged environment, and they need to take up arms. Let my incarceration galvanize you to action. We need to ensure that the new law allows people to possess, to grow for themselves, and to share with others without renumeration. Otherwise it will be flawed."

Good advice from selfless drug policy reform leader, but send him a card as well. I'm sure he could still use cheering up.

Carnival 101

He's a day late in our time zone, but since he's in Scandinavia somewhere, we're right on time for the first bell since it's back to school for us at the Carnival this week with our instructor Martin Lindeskog at Ego doing duty as Headmaster.

As always, there are some most instructive posts. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

15 seconds of fame

The planets must be doing something crazy today because I'm having a wild day, one of those times when absolutely nothing goes as expected. Not to mention that I totally forgot to listen to Elaine Higginbotham's prgram on Tuscon public TV last night. She was supposed to quote my post on the Olympics and plug my blogs.

Elaine's produced a local program there for the last three years and I was actually hoping to catch it just to see what it was all about. Seems like we might be kindred souls of sorts. In any event I missed it yesterday but fortunately it will be rebroadcast on Sat.

To my knowledge, I've never been quoted on a post for my political blog at the Detroit News before and would love to see it since I have no idea how to capture video to save for future viewing. In case I forget again, I hope somebody remembers to check it out. It would be great to have a witness.

You have to go to this website on Saturday at 2:00pm (Tuscon time) and click on channel 72 from the main page to access Natural Progression.

I hope this post reminds me to do it myself.

The Friends of Marc Emery

Marc's supporters are staging protests and a letter writing campaign in support of his early release. Emery is currently serving this ridiculous three month sentence under a trafficking charge for passing one joint to one person. As outrageous as that is, he's asking people not to take it out on his lawyer or the jail personnel. You can certainly write to the judge and to send those cards and letters of support to Marc in jail.

Marc Emery
c/o Saskatoon Correctional Centre
910 60th St.
East Saskatoon Saskatchewan S7K 2H6

Protest letters to:

Judge Albert Lavoie
Provincial Court of Saskatchewan
220 19th St.
Saskatoon, SK S7K 2H6

The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington St.
Ottawa ON K1A 0H8

Please show Marc you appreciate his work by sending a card.

Around the Reform Community

I just discovered The Superlative Suppository, a new drug policy reform blog that was kind enough to link to Last One Speaks. Thanks and welcome to Sister Geoff. I'll be putting this blog into my favorites.

Meanwhile, Pete at Drug WarRant is working on a big piece and sends us to Baylen at D'Alliance, who is posting up a veritable storm of interesting news. Read it all and be sure not to miss this editorial in the Jacksonville Daily News, The Failing Drug War which is the first mention of John Walters' admissions of failure that I've seen in the US press.

The Clinton administration launched Plan Colombia and initially touted reductions in coca acreage in Colombia -- without mentioning increases in Peru and Bolivia. Now even Walters admits that at the bottom line -- supplies in the illicit U.S. market - the campaign is a failure.

What's the likelihood that doing more of the same will produce different results than it has in the last three decades?

It's time to dump Plan Colombia and rethink the entire drug war.

Pete is wondering what's in Baylen's coffee. I have a feeling that he's still charged up from that coca tea in Boliva.

Woman jailed for treating addiction

I don't get the logic here. You have a woman who is addicted to Oxycotin to the point where she is charged with child abuse (I assume for neglect of some kind) and the judge orders her notto go to rehab because I guess he wants to punish her by taking away her methadone treatments?

When she appears in imminent danger of succumbing to addiction again, her doctor advises her to go back on the methadone therapy. She takes the doctor's advice and the judge puts her in jail for violating her probation. Keep in mind she was only charged with drug possession in the first place and she got in trouble because she was an addict. So she's sentenced to three years for trying to kick the habit with an accepted medical intervention?

The hell of it is that this is apparently not uncommon.

Mark Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, said it's wrong for methadone patients to be sent to prison for a treatment that is aimed at helping them beat their addiction. "Despite the fact that the federal government has spent millions in research to determine that methadone is the gold standard for treating opioid dependence, you still have what I would call unenlightened and misinformed representatives of the law-enforcement community," Parrino said.

Unenlightened is an understatement. I call it Neanderthal. What are these people thinking?

Meanwhile the most enlightened community in this hemisphere, Vancouver, is beginning a pilot project looking at treatment options for opiate addictions. In the first North American study of its kind, "88 heroin-addicted individuals will receive prescribed heroin in combination with methadone, while 70 other heroin users will receive methadone only. Outcomes for both groups will be tracked and compared."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Marijuana initiative's passage did not increase consumption

When the prohibitionists tell you that drug use will spike if reasonable legislation is passed or even -- gasp -- legalized altogether, show them this article.

The naysayers in Washington state who worked to defeat the recently passed measure making possession of cannabis the lowest of law enforcement priorities all used the argument that teenagers would start smoking like fiends. It didn't happen.

Although [City Attorney Tom] Carr was concerned that the initiative would encourage increased marijuana use among teenagers, he acknowledged that it hasn't happened. "I'm glad I was wrong," he said. "There is nothing to suggest I-75 has caused widespread use of marijuana in Seattle."

Not only that but Seattle saved a bucket of money in costs to prosecute these penny-ante cases. Carr said, "In the first six months of 2004, the city prosecuted 18 cases of marijuana possession, compared with 70 cases during the same time period last year."

Not to mention that 52 people are still functioning as useful members of society and contributing to the tax base. This could work in your town folks

Plane crashes while hunting plants

Not only are these ridiculous eradication efforts costly, they are dangerous. Thankfully no one was killed here. What's bothersome however, is rather than sensibly weigh the risks against the benefits of simply letting the gardeners grow their plants -- after all, if they are determined to bust these people, they could certainly wait until the harvest actually hits the streets. That is if it ever does and is not just for personal use which is often the case in small grows.

Of even more concern is that rather than use common sense, the prohibition profiteers decided to change their methodology in marijuana-spotting operations to include military-style attack techniques -- and military aircraft.

Since the 1980s, the OBN has used faster, more efficient military choppers -- instead of small planes -- to spot marijuana. Now, OBN agents train like soldiers to find the plants and destroy them.

OBN spokesman Mark Woodward said it used to take days for narcotics agents to find a marijuana patch -- and a miles-long hike to reach it.

"We got with the National Guard and said, 'Look, we want to start doing this a lot quicker,'" Woodward said. "We started using their air-assault techniques."
Now, agents spot the plants, rappel from the helicopter and land inside the drug crop in a matter of minutes.

Anybody still think the war on some drugs is not a war on US citizens? And wouldn't you think they would have better things to do with the National Guards' time -- like maybe, oh, I don't know -- looking for actual terrorists?

Pharmaceutical Press publishes book on MMJ

Here's one I almost missed.

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 13, 2004--The Pharmaceutical Press, the publications division of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, with offices in London and Chicago, has published the first edition of The Medicinal Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

Billed as an "authoritative review of the development of cannabis-based medicines and their applications in a wide range of therapeutic areas," the book examines the research, development and clinical trial results of the cannabis-based medicinal extract (CBME) Sativex" and "covers a broad spectrum of subjects including the history of cannabis use, its growth and morphology, the discovery and pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors in mammalian tissues, the development and use of synthetic cannabinoids, and the legal and forensic aspects of cannabis within the international community."

Available for $59.95. For more info check the website.

[Thanks to Michael Kravitz]

Monday, August 23, 2004

Who will empty the trash?

They call this drug amnesty? I call it voluntary confiscation. Concert goers at the V2004 festival at Weston Park have the option to dump their drugs into "special bins" prior to entering the park or face arrest if caught in possession once they are through the gates.

One wonders why they need a separate bin. Do you suppose they will do an inventory for their police report on exactly what was "seized " or just want to make sure the garbage removal service won't fish anything out of the trash?

Ah, in the updated version of the story, it looks a little less voluntary. Police reportedly seized quite an amount of drugs, Almost 500 grams of cannabis, 2.3 grams of cocaine, 1.4 grams of heroin, 198 ecstasy tablets and 8.6 grams of amphetamine as a result of over seventy searches based on the latest CCTV technology.

This technology means car number plates can be checked against police
records for drug users and dealers as soon as vehicles arrive at the concert. Details and pictures of suspects will then be passed back to the officers'
mobile phones for them to make arrests. Talk about fishing expeditions -- the whole scheme stinks like week old garbage. And this is even more disturbing:

A fully-equipped drugs laboratory will also be on site as police plan to use sniffer dogs and forensic technology to find drugs.

In addition to the new technology, about 36,000 black rubbish bags have been printed with the Crimestoppers Safe and Sound logo and phone number to encourage concert-goers to blow the whistle on thieves and drug-takers.

I'm okay with fighting thievery but it seems like US style prohibition profiteering is truly infecting the planet. You have any idea what an operation of this magnitude costs? And why do the police go to these great lengths to arrest 13 people out of a crowd of 70 thousand? The amount of drugs they found may sound like a lot to non-consumers but trust me, the pot was their greatest haul and figuring a gram in every joint, it would not have made a dent in the sobriety of a crowd that size and outside of the ecstasy, the other drugs wouldn't be enough for more than a half a dozen people -- it was all clearly personal stash meant to enhance their own enjoyment of the event, not meant to be sold at the concert.

Go figure -- and just when it looked like the UK was coming to its senses about cannabis by rescheduling the plant.

US style oppression up North

It seems the Bush administration style suppression of political dissent has spread to Canada. The authorities shut down the annual Canabian Day festival for failing to get the necessary permits. Organizers did of course try to get them but were denied on the basis that the event was a pro-pot rally.

Things apparently got ugly when several hundred cannabis proponents decided to assemble peacefully anyway. One demonstrator was reportedly arrested for carrying a sign saying -- Legalize It and Weed My Lips. The angered the protesters, prompting many to light up joints and pass out "chronic candy".

A disturbing development in a country that had, (prior to numerous visits from US prohibition profiteers from the DEA and ONDCP), an enlightened approach about cannabis consumers.

Vote for Jim Pillsbury

Last One Speaks is endorsing our first candidate for office in the Commonwealth of Mass. I've been saying for some time that the surest way to change the system is to start from the local levels and work up to national office holders. For those of you in Pillsbury's Framingham district, here's your chance to elect a state representative with a sensible view on cannabis related issues.

"In the age of terrorism and homeland security, the government is spending money to fly planes over fields to look out for a plant that has been around for centuries," said Pillsbury, "It doesn't make sense."

Amen to that. Wish he was going to be on my ballot.

MMJ licensing leads to surplus in state coffers

Baylen at D'Alliance points us to a story on medical marijuana patients in Oregon and their caregivers. The caregivers grow the cannabis for those unable to grow it themselves. People like Shawn Flury, the director of Independence-based Oregon Green Cross, which provides two ounces of marijuana per month to each of its 35 patients donate their time and risk their safety from federal intervention to provide the herb to the sick and the dying for free. Under the system in Oregon, a caregiver is allowed to cultivate up to seven plants per patient. The caregivers tend to provide for more than one patient at a time as the demand is high and the cost of start-up is prohibitive. It's simply most cost effective to grow more plants.

The registration system provides no protection against federal intervention, it merely furnishes information for the use of law enforcement authorities in determining the legitimacy of any given grow.

Since the state started issuing registration cards, more than 10,000 people have signed up. The goal of the program was to pay for its own administrative costs but the registration fee has now been reduced since the agency found itself with a surplus of $986,000. Part of the surplus will go into the state's general fund. This money was generated just from MMJ patients. Think about the possible revenues if they simply allowed anyone to register as a consumer, with or without a medical reason.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Down by the river

Took the afternoon off to hang out at the little marina down the road and bask in the sun . I was supposed to get there at noon for a boat ride with Chet but it was much too cold then. It was lovely however to sit at the dock and watch the birds fly by when it warmed up a couple of hours later. The eagle didn't show up but I saw a white egret, a black one and a sweet little family of ducks. I also left with a standing invitation to return.

I found myself thinking how lucky it is to live in a lovely downtown Northampton, with all the necessitites of life within walking distance and to also be a three minute drive from a place that looks sort of like this.

Kicking Drugs with Drugs - Taking the Left Hand Path

Author, veritable drug expert and psychonaut Preston Peet has a riveting account of his recent experience with ibogaine posted at Drugwar.com.

Ibogaine is a drug I know almost nothing about although there is much research being done on its effects and its potential use as a aid to overcoming addiction. Derived from the root of an African plant that has been used traditionally for centuries as a vehicle for shamanic journeys by the indigenous people of Africa, early results look promising for this anti-addiction application and as a added benefit it also appears to bring mental clarity and aids emotional resolution in its subjects.

It's therapeutic use is legal in other countries, however, our government and major pharmaceutical companies continue to ignore it's potential benefits, one suspects because they have not figured out to make a profit on it.

Know Your Rights

As the Bush administration continues to hammer away at your civil rights, here's some timely advice even if you don't plan on protesting in New York next week.

If the police question you, including asking your name, you may say nothing and walk away.

If the police prevent you from leaving, ask, “Am I free to go?”

If “YES,” you may say nothing and walk away.

If “NO,” say, “I wish to remain silent. I want to talk to a lawyer,” and wait for the police to arrest or release you."

--Advice from The National Lawyers Guild.

The Guild will also be providing Legal Observers, identified by their distinctive green hats, to monitor any violation of constitutional rights and to document any arrests of protestors during the RNC.
[Thanks to Leigh Meyers]

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Marijuana does not cause mental illness

Dutch scientists have stepped up to the plate to counter the new conservative government's contention that marijuana causes schizophrenia, an argument the Dutch prohibitionists are using to attempt to shut down the cannabis coffeeshop industry. The authors of this study contend there is absolutely no scientific proof to back up these allegations.

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating. Marijuana does not cause anything. Excess consumption can be a symptom of an underlying condition but it does not create the condition. If anything it more likely alleviates the symptoms of those who would use it to self-medicate.

Magic mushrooms can help terminally ill

I have to admit that my first reaction when I heard this was "What???", administer hallucinogenic drugs to terminally ill patients? Having had some experience in ingesting these substances, I was trying to imagine tripping out while knowing with certainty I was going to die soon.

On reflection, I can see how it could work. There's something about the psychedelic experience that changes your outlook on life, no matter how many days you have left. It puts your priorities into focus and enables you to see through the pretenses of day to day life and view what at least feels like the core truths of the universe.

Charles Grob, one of the first scientists in 25 years to administer psilocybin to a person in a therapeutic says, "There is great potential. A significant patient population may gain benefits from these treatments." He convinced the US government.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved, but not funded, a pilot study aiming to see if the euphoria and insight of a mild psychedelic 'trip' can ease the physical and emotional pain experienced by thousands of terminal cancer patients each year.

Anecdotal information from the sixties already supports this theory.

...the 60s, cancer sufferers reported less anxiety, a reduced fear of death, better moods, and surprisingly, even less pain in the weeks after treatment with LSD, which is similar in structure and effect to psilocybin.

Under the current study, small dosages would be administered and the patients would be guided through the "trip" with only minimal clinical interference.

The rationale says it is better to let the drug gently lift the veil, divorce the association between mind and body and let the patient enjoy the full-on experience as they wish, than interfere in a way that may be incompatible with the patient's psyche.

Other studies are currently being conducted including the use of psilocybin to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is nearing completion at the University of Arizona and an MDMA (ecstasy) trial for the counseling of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) victims is finally underway having surmounted bureaucratic obstacles.

The research looks promising already. One expects the greatest obstacle, as with cannabis, will be overcoming the public perception that a substance used recreationally also has great medical benefits.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Which OS are you

I can't help myself. I love these things. This is what I am.

What are you?

And that's a cold shot babe...

I hope the Molson Brewing company appreciates what a gem they have in our local rep here in the Happy Valley. Colin Parker is the youngest and most earnest beer agent I've ever met in all my years of working and hanging around the local bars. He just moved to lovely downtown Northampton and conscientiously makes the rounds to see how his product placement is going and is always looking for a new promo tie-in.

Even more unusual, (at least I've never seen this happen), he was so enthusiastic about his new product, the Cold Shot, a sweet little can of beer currently selling for the low sum of only one dollar, that he bought the entire after-work crowd at Tully O'Reilly's a round the other day.

Cheers kid, and welcome to town.

Quick Notes

The day job is so interfering with my blogging and I have to run. A lot going on in the blogosphere but we'll have to catch up tonight. Meanwhile, the big news in my inbox is, (pay attention here girls), Baylen at D'Alliance is really cute. He's back from Boliva and blogging some great stuff including this interesting post on nicotine addiction and a new trend in bar drinks called nicotinis and an excellent post on MMJ.

And welcome home to Pete at Drug WarRant, who is back posting as well after the successful run of the play based on his Living Canvas series. As always, everything is worth reading.

Marc Emery Sentenced to Jail

A judge in Saskatoon, Canada sentenced Marc Emery to three months in jail for trafficking for passing one joint into the crowd during last summer's smoke out tour. He had ten other marijuana-related convictions, including some for trafficking in connection with his marijuana seed business but until now they had merely fined him. This time the judge reportedly wanted to teach him a lesson. Three months seems a little steep to me and to his lawyer. Unfortunately he will probably serve it out while waiting for his appeal.

Marc meanwhile is prepared to do the time but vows to return to the defense and consumption of the plant upon his release.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

LEAP jumps into the legalization fray every day

Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was in Vermont on a lecture tour when he ran into a state cop convention at his hotel. Witnesses report he had something of a heated debate in the parking lot of the establishment with one of those cops. He won.

Christ understands and even respects the young trooper's anger, and doesn't take it personally. Typically, he says, a cop is retired for a year or more before he or she starts to see "the forest for the trees." And Christ knows that his incendiary message -- that the United States should legalize all Schedule I drugs and regulate their sale and distribution -- flies in the face of law-enforcement training. Nevertheless, Christ believes that, just as alcohol prohibition was repealed in the United States, drug prohibition should be, too.

He and the rest of the LEAP members make compelling arguments.

Legalization of drugs is not intended to be an approach to our drug problem in America," Christ explains during an interview in his hotel room. "Legalization is an approach to our crime and violence problem in America. Once we legalize drugs, then we have to start the really hard work of dealing with our drug problem."

The biggest societal costs associated with illegal drug use are not addiction or even crimes committed while people are using drugs, Christ argues. In fact, 90 percent of illicit drug users in this country are not addicts. They hold down jobs, go to school and do not create a public nuisance. The greatest harm associated with narcotics, he contends, is drug prohibition, a domestic and foreign policy that funnels billions of dollars into an underground economy where deals are brokered and scores are settled through terrorism, extortion and gun violence. But just as the bootleggers and crime-ridden numbers rackets were replaced with liquor stores and state-run lotteries, Christ argues, drug lords could be disarmed with the stroke of a pen.

Christ is not preaching to choir either. He's on the road most of the year speaking to Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs and other hotbeds of conservative thinking. And he's winning converts. 80-year-old Rotarian Dick Shadroui says, "I thought it was very, very useful and very sensible and I agree with him 100 percent," says Shadroui, a piano teacher in Barre. "I don't think prohibition has ever worked, just like he said. I think it should be legalized, just like I think prostitution should be legalized."

Christ tells his audiences that the drug war cannot succeed because it asks police to accomplish an impossible task: to protect people who don't want to be protected from harming themselves. "Prohibition doesn't work because prohibition has never worked in the history of our species," he says. "Anything that smacks of a victimless-crime prohibition is doomed to failure."

If you can't believe a retired cop, who are you going to believe?

Carnival centennial

I missed getting into the Carnival this week and it's such a great theme, doing the Brazilian Rio Carnivale thing. Fringeblog is hosting this week's festivities and even though I didn't get my Stoned Scientists post in there (which I think they might have enjoyed) the other entries are as great as ever. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Drug Czar Lies

We reported on this story last week but I'm posting it again from a link at Colombia Week because I want you to look at the list of news sources at the end of the brief that covered the original statement drug czar John Walters made on the failure of Plan Colombia. I really like Colombia Week because it cites all the sources and the sidebar is all breaking news - all the time, if you can read Spanish. I only wish I could reliably translate more of it for you.

The point however, is Walters admitted this policy has failed to stem the flow of cocaine into the US and our US General Accounting Office admits the plan has had no benefit to the Colombia people. A rare instance of these prohibition profiteers telling the truth to the public.

A week later, Walters is telling the English reading press that the plan has been a great success and has greatly reduced the acreage devoted to coca production. Now the second half is true, they have poisoned great tracts of land and the growers have fled further into remote areas and cultivate smaller plots. However, they have also figured out how to increase production and shield the plants from the effects of the herbicides in the interim. Thus the cocaine supply does not diminish, only the arable land available for its cultivation has.

As Pete at Drug WarRant points out, the only news outlet who caught the inconsistency or least who was willing to report it was the BBC News. We agree with Pete that it's long past time for the US press to start demanding some accountability for this sort of misinformation as well.

Everybody smoked pot in the sixties

We first heard of this story on Republican candidate for governor, Mitch Daniels' marijuana conviction back in May. A reader sends in a update with an interesting twist. It seems a press conference called by four prominent local Democrats wanting to bring some attention to Daniels arrest for marijuana use in 1970 backfired and ended up with two of the Democrats having to admit youthful consumption and they ended up outing Governor Joe Kernan for having used it as a young person as well.

Don't get me wrong, I love it but you would think the press would show this kind of investigative acumen when they interview the White House. In any event, I think it really underscores the idiocy of this boneheaded war on some drugs when in truth, many more people experimented with this plant in the 60s and 70s than would ever admit it voluntarily. They didn't turn into drug addicts or murderers or thieves, they became our civic leaders. (Okay some of them may have turned into thieves, I mean they did become politicians).

What effect will this have on either side of the race? One would think that it should have none whatsoever. We're talking about guys who smoked a joint 40 years ago for God's sake however, Margaret Ferguson, a political scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has this to say.

"If we were talking about the rest of the county I would say (the issue) is in the past," she said. "But Indiana is a conservative state."

One hopes the electorate can see through the smoke and simply elect the better candidate based on ability. Knowing substantially nothing about this race, we're not endorsing either side but generally, in any contest, we prefer someone who has consumed cannabis and is open to policy reform. Unfortunately, those kind of candidates are hard to find.

Farewell Phish

Well I never saw them and I wouldn't know their songs if I tripped over them, but I have friends who have been doing the Phish thing for a long time and sent a couple of links to the in-depth coverage of their mighty mud fest. Phish is like NRBQ for me, I've heard of both for as long as I lived here and never got around to seeing either one but I always did love the idea of a local band that inspires this kind of loyalty.

Thanks to Jack for links to a photo essay and a first person account that captures the spirit of the event. Almost makes me wish I was there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

New funtionality

Finally a new feature from Blogger that's easy to figure out. Although I notice, my heading has some kind of error that left that ugly coding at the top, the search feature does indeed work to search this blog. Tres cool.

I've been trying to figure out to install such a thing on the sidebar for weeks without successs so now I guess I don't have to. And if they ever fix the glitch, it will be much more attractive than the Google ad banners that used to be there. Although I have to admit I did sometimes like the curious juxtaposition between the ads and the current content of the blog.

Anyway, now if looking for some subject in particular I've addressed before, you can find it and so can I. Alright!

Wonder what the Mormons think about this?

Well Baylen at D'Allliance beat me to this editorial, but I'm posting a link here anyway because it deserves wide distribution. Baylen notes the same paper in Utah published a piece supporting agricultural hemp last month.

This month the Utah Daily Herald takes on the war on some drugs with this editorial entitled, End the overkill for marijuana. I thought Utah was pretty conservative. Who would think a paper there would be taking such a sensible stance?

You don't swat flies with 16-pound sledge hammers. The hammer might kill the fly, but it will also do a lot of damage to the furniture. The so-called war on drugs involves similar overkill that needlessly, and expensively, puts people in prison for minor marijuana offenses.

It goes on to examine the problems with mandatory sentencing but I think it makes an even more important point about the classification of this herb.

At the root of overkill in drug sentencing is how marijuana is classified. As illicit drugs go, marijuana is innocuous...

Yet the legal classification of marijuana puts it on par with LSD, heroin and mescaline -- Schedule I drugs that are defined by statute as highly addictive and lacking any medicinal value.

But statutory definitions don't always reflect reality, and they certainly don't in the case of marijuana. The classification ignores the positive benefits of marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which eases symptoms of glaucoma and enables cancer and AIDS patients to overcome nausea and regain their appetites.

By contrast, methamphetamine, which any Utah law enforcement officer will tell you is far more dangerous and damaging than marijuana -- both in its manufacturing and use -- is a Schedule II drug. Meth is in the same category as Lortab, Oxycontin and PCP, all of which have some medicinal value.

It also looks at unreasonable penalities for use of the plant.

The punishments clearly do not reflect the true effect of marijuana in society. It's just not particularly dangerous. While it has been argued that marijuana is a gateway to other more serious drugs, marijuana in and of itself appears less harmful than alcohol. Unlike the meth lab operator, a marijuana grower doesn't turn his home and yard into a toxic waste dump that requires a hazardous materials team to dismantle and decontaminate..

And unlike cannabis, meth is a truly dangerous and destructive drug. To quote an old anti-use campaign from the 60s when the drug was at least being made with pure industrially standardized precusors and being peddled under a different name - Speed kills.

Just one more illustration of how this war on some drugs is based on politics and prejudice rather than science and reason. Even worse, this exercise in congnitive dissonance is ruining civil society and costing you, the taxpayer, 40 billion dollars a year.

Plant eradication season begins in California

Like the swallows in Capistrano, the agents from the California Department of Justice's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting arrive in Humboldt county in California every year, as they have since 1983, to wage their war against innocent plants. Okay so these grows aren't authorized under Prop 215 but still, these eradication missions are a ridiculous waste of the taxpayers money.
As af Wednesday the weed whacking prohibitionists have seized 122,905 plants statewide. That's really not that many considering the cost of the operations. Once again they conduct their search and destroy missions with the aid of very expensive helicopter surveilliance.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Wayne Hanson said he spends the weeks before CAMP's arrival flying over the county spotting suspected pot gardens from the air. When CAMP arrives, they know exactly where to go. Some gardens are found while Hanson is on his way to a grow that's already been discovered. Tuesday, while flying to one of the confirmed gardens, Hanson spotted another garden a short distance away.

These plots they're eradicating are not huge commercial grows. More likely they are the work of a few horticulturals who prefer to grow their own cannabis for personal use rather than have to participate in dangerous black market transactions.

The growers usually plant in small patches in various locations. In a grow that was eradicated Tuesday off a remote road past Kneeland, seven different gardens were found on one parcel of property. The gardens ranged from about 300 plants to under 10. CAMP agents and deputies also look out for signs of trails leading to patches of sunlight in the woods. One deputy hiked up a small hill off a dirt road, well away from the other gardens, and returned with one plant.

Do you have any idea how much it cost to have that guy eradicate one plant? I don't either but I would bet it's a lot more than it's worth in terms of it's cash value and in terms of public safety it's laughable. Your law enforcement officers must have better ways to spend their time and your tax dollars.

Of course, chasing down murderers, rapists, car thieves and the like is a little harder. You don't get to use your helicopter to find them and unlike the plants that patiently wait in one spot to get caught, real criminals keep moving around and require a lot more effort to find.

MMJ patients sue state over seized marijuana

Over three dozen medical marijuana patients will be filing motions today in various counties of California for the return of around a million dollars worth of wrongfully seized cannabis. It seems although the use of MMJ has been legal under state law since 1996 the local authorities are still routinely seizing the herb and arresting the patients.

According to California-based Americans for Safe Access, the largest national advocacy group working solely on medical marijuana.

“The law protects these patients,” said the group’s legal coordinator, Kris Hermes. “But we’ve uncovered a culture of resistance within law enforcement. Many agencies across the state just don’t comply with the law. Patients are being arrested or having their medicine seized in nearly every police encounter.”

Ths study, involving more than a hundred patients showed violations of their rights in 62% of the counties in the state. Even more interesting is the estimated cost of these violations in terms of your tax dollars.

The report estimates the cost of an arrest is $732; and the expense of prosecuting one person is $9,250.

“The cost … is unnecessary since law enforcement can choose not to arrest medical marijuana patients,” the report states.

The study found that most law-enforcement agencies in California do not have policies for identifying patients legally entitled to have marijuana. The estimated annual cost of compensating patients whose marijuana is seized is more than $4 million statewide.

Ten thousand a pop for prosecuting sick people. That's just to get them through court. If you incarcerate them, the financial cost rises to astronomical levels. You can't even put a price on the social costs. As Kris Hermes, legal director of ASA said, “Losing their medicine is obviously hard on the patients, but it’s also costing taxpayers money. Better law-enforcement policies or any policies at all, can fix this.”

It's time for the taxpayers to insist that they do.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Start all over again

For those of you who never make it over to my politics blog in Detroit, I'm cross posting this because these events still impact the War on Some Drugs in ways that aren't immediately apparent.

Avedon Carol from The Sidestep has sent me to yet another fabulous blog I hadn't read before and instantly liked. MyDD has the news on Chavez in Venezuela and his win in the referendum. DD posted the early news that the opposition's allegations of voter fraud had not been answered. Later reports from Jimmy Carter and the OAS observers have now declared Chavez the bonafide winner.

DD also checks out a couple of NY Times articles, one on Florida stormtroopers "interviewing" elderly black American voters starting with 73 year old Ezzie Thomas, who happens to be president of the Orlando League of Voters. These tactics are reportedly creating an atmospshere of fear and intimidation among the Get out the Vote movement.

And the FBI is still knocking on young people's doors asking them about their travel plans and any intentions to exercise their First Amendment rights. Sometimes I feel like we're fighting the sixties all over again.

As Avedon so aptly put it, "For those of us who've been here before, it's pretty scary stuff."

Cannabis a cure for cancer?

Here's more evidence disputing the prohibition profiteers' contention that this plant has no medicinal value. New research shows that cannabis may provide a method for treating deadly brain tumors by blocking the growth of the blood vessels which feed them. Although the results are still preliminary, they show great promise.

An active component of the street drug has previously been shown to improve brain tumours in rats. But now Manuel Guzmán at Complutense University, Spain, and colleagues have demonstrated how the cannabis extracts block a key chemical needed for tumours to sprout blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis.

And for the first time, the team has shown the cannabinoids impede this chemical in people with the most aggressive form of brain cancer - glioblastoma multiforme.

I have to admit, this stuff kind of goes over my head but it sures sounds hopeful.

The team tested the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in 30 mice. They found the marijuana extract inhibited the expression of several genes related to the production of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

VEGF is critical for angiogenesis, which allows tumours to grow a network of blood vessels to supply their growth. The cannabinoid significantly lowered the activity of VEGF in the mice and two human brain cancer patients, the study showed.

The drug did this by increasing the activity of a fat molecule called ceramide, suggests the study, as adding a ceramide inhibitor stifled the ability of the cannabinoid to block VEGF

For the medical folks that read this blog, you can find the technical information in this Journal: Cancer Research (vol 64, p 5617). One can't help but wonder when the US is going to enable our own scientists to conduct meaningful research as well, instead of spending our tax dollars on trying to prevent its use.

Blog watch

Avedon at The Sideshow points us to a new and interesting blog Scrutiny Hooligans which appears to be a group of young guys who blog together. I 'll definitely be checking back in again after scrolling through the page and reading this excellent post on the drug war. Funk-o-meter is a musician who witnessed 200 people get arrested at a concert by the Alcohol police. Lots of other interesting stuff there by the other Hooligans as well.

Meanwhile, a new site showed up in my referral log. I expect Micchen found me through Avedon. It appears to be a very new blog but promises to be interesting based on the current posts. I'll be keeping an eye on this one as well.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Update: Chavez voting hours extended

Morning Update: Unofficial results show Chavez winning with a repectable plurality.

Bump on this earlier post. The polls won't close for another couple of hours yet at least. V-headline is reporting that they will stay open as long as there are voters waiting to cast ballots. Reports are beginning to filter through from the Narconews bureau as well. Happily there are almost no reports of violence and people are reported to be calm and respectful while they wait patiently for hours to cast a vote.

Even Jimmy Carter expressed amazement at the turnout that all are calling unprecedented. So far all reputable sources are abiding by the government rule not to publicize exit polls but rumors are filtering out accusing the opposition of leaking false results. The smart money however, seems to be betting Chavez will win by 67%. I'll be more interested in what percentage of the population showed up to vote.

Wouldn't it good to see a leader in this country that could inspire this same level of level of participation? Take a good look at Venezuela tonight folks. This is what democracy looks like.

Phish says farewell to fans

Phish fans flocking to Vermont to bid adieu to the band at their last concert ended up practically swimming in a sea of mud to get there after enduring waits of up to 23 hours to get off the highway and onto the grounds. Outdoor concert types are hardy souls though, and the local paper reports outside of a few frayed tempers at the entrance gate, no one seemed to mind. They came well equipped to entertain themselves and ironically it appears the hottest commodity in the underground marketplace was cigarettes.

Funny, with the photos so reminiscent of the legendary event, it's right around the anniversary of Woodstock as well.

A mother speaks out

Erin of Parents Ending Prohibition sends in a beautiful story of a MMJ demonstration she and her husband organized at Bush's recent campaign stop in her new home state. Seems they singlehandedly activated a lot of people into holding signs and calling for a end to the war on medical marijuana patients. Not an easy task when the location of Bush's appearance was kept secret until the very last minute. The local press of course were predictably lax, if not downright deceitful in representing the true dimensions and sentiment of the crowd but it sounds like a successful event that can only have done some good to spread the meme. Her account is too long to print here, but until she posts it at her URL, I give you the money quote.

We had 50 signs being held, and still the cameras managed to exclude us. Please help us make sure that the next time, we'll be right up front and in their faces, demanding the simple human dignity of relief from suffering, without facing raids and arrests! My heart aches, everytime I think about what we've given up in this country. Even Orwell wasn't creative enough to envision "Free Speech Zones", and I keep wondering -- isn't America supposed to BE a free speech zone?

Everywhere I go, the one constant I find, is that no one is willing to tell me that they believe their tax dollars would be well spent, by raiding my home and arresting me for using medical marijuana. If we all agree on this, then we must change the laws that demand my arrest, before another precious cent is spent in persecuting me or people like me. Together, we're making a difference.

Erin, a medical marijuana patient, using the herb to control symptoms of the debilitating Crohn's Disease is tiny little woman with great courage and a giant spirit. I have a feeling a movement will soon coalesce around her in the family's new digs and Oregon will never be the same.

Check out their site.

Plan Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld was in Afghanistan recently pledging to start a "Plan Colombia" style drug war in the country going as far as implying the 17,000 troops there right now may be sent on heroin eradication missions of the same sort that failed so miserably to stem the tide of cocaine leaving South America. The US is reportedly disatisfied with British led efforts to stem the burgeoning industry. Needless the say the soldiers, already strained in searching for the ever elusive Al Qaeda operatives and attempting to keep order in the chaos building around voter registration there, are not thrilled at the prospect of pissing off the drug lords.

One US soldier in Kandahar said: "We start taking out drug guys, and they will start taking out our guys." Many of the roadside bombs and sporadic guerrilla attacks on US soldiers in southern Afghanistan are already blamed on criminal gangs seeking to spread chaos as well as Taliban insurgents.

And there's not much hope of support from local authorities.

The drugs business is widely believed to have corrupted officials up to cabinet level, and many Afghans fear that they may have exchanged Taliban fundamentalism for rule by narco-mafias in the future.

The US is already late in addressing the problem.

After ignoring the opium trade for two years, the US has been forced to take it seriouslyby growing fears that the Taliban and other terrorist groups are financing their activities from the drugs trade on a large scale for the first time.

I doubt if this is the first time the Taliban has been financing their activities with heroin money, it's just the first time the US was willing to acknowledge it. But that aside, there is one small ray of hope in what is sure to become another failed prohibition attempt, at least the Afghanis are smart enough to avoid the biggest pitfall of Plan Colombia.

Using helicopters to spray poppy fields with chemicals is not likely, however, because of fears that wrecking the livelihoods of farmers could provoke violent rural rebellions against the American-backed Kabul government - a problem the Taliban encountered when it outlawed poppy farming.

And US General Eric Olsen seems to have a realistic handle on the situation.

"Poppy eradication may not be the best way to address the drug issue, there may be better ways to interdict the drug trade," he said.

Whatever that means, at least they won't be bombing the indigineous with herbicides.

Getting out the Vote

Following up on my previous post, the warlords are currently fighting among themselves in Afghanistan in the run-up to their elections. There seems to be a lot of remaining resistance to relinquish control to Herat's US backed central government.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela the long disputed recall referendum is going on right now with thousands reported to be lined up at the polls before they opened at 6:00am. To read the mainstream US press reports, you would think the opposition party is the voice of the people and will prevail. However, these are the "ruling class" types that robbed the country blind and were defeated at the polls the first time Chavez was democratically elected. They failed to unseat Chavez with a failed coup and now rail that he's a leftist who is ruining the country because he instituted some badly needed economic reforms giving the 80% of the nation that lives in poverty a chance at making a decent living.

Fortunately, NarcoNews is on the story and Al Giordano promises up to the minute coverage from the barrios and the polls where some of the narconews swarm are supposed to be counting votes. According to Al, he has good buzz that Chavez will be easily returned to office and has proof that NY Times hacker Juan Forero agrees with him.

Meanwhile, futures traders, betting that the country (which is a major supplier of oil to the US) will erupt in chaos, have driven up the price of crude to over $46 a barrel. It appears no matter who wins, the consumers are about to lose at the gas pump.

Sunday Reading

Baylen from D'Alliance is still blogging from Boliva and should be checking in soon with details of his trip to the coca growing region of Yungas. He also points us to an excellent article by Ted Galen Carpenter in the National Review on the continuing failure of Plan Colombia.

Meanwhile, his co-blogger Alan Heymann, who is manning the fort here at home posts on a new scheme concocted by law enforcement authorities in Utah. Apparently, having failed to discover and eradicate enough cannabis on their own, the State Bureau of Investigation is encouraging the general public to do their work for them. They are reportedly paying up to $1,000 to citizens willing to rat out their local growers as part of their new Spot Pot, Get a Lot program.

One could think of a thousands better ways to spend the taxpayer's money.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Across the water

Welcome to the Sideshow readers. What a lovely surprise to have visitors from the UK. I discovered Avedon Carol not only left a comment, which rarely happens but also kindly linked to me, sending some unexpected but welcome company.

It cheered me up so much, I spent some time reworking the sidebar in their honor. Still a work in progress but I think it's looking better and will be more useful this way. But feel free to send feedback.

Norm and the Hand of God

So I have this "fan" of sorts over at the Detroit News comment section. Norm Kinzel of Cocoa Beach, wouldn't know a punctuation mark if it bit him and he's never found the shift key but he reads me regularly and I've become rather fond of him. I worry he's going to stroke out on me some day though. I tend to upset him.

My hurricane post below just about sent him over the edge this morning. By the time I turned on the computer he had already left three sputtering comments. You may have to scroll if you come in late. They don't permalink so I'll paste in one.

i can t let this drop i don t like liberals politically i believe they are bad for the country but i don t hate them as people you hate people you have no business writing a political piece because all you do is hate no rational person would agree with you on the florida huricane people who agree with you politically need to tell you stop the hate people died down here for christ sake grow up

He's always saying stuff like that to me but to tell you the truth, I don't think he really means it. Even though he would never admit it, in his heart he knows I'm a good person. I usually ignore it but I have to admit when I got up this morning, the images of the devastation were so disturbing that I was concerned my remarks would be misconstrued as merely facile by more than just Norm. It's easy to forget when you're blogging that an offhand remark can travel a long way on the internet.

In the end it forced me to justify my thinking and remind myself that I had no more right to glibly speak to God's intention than Bush does. I have to admit when I posted last night, I went to bed thinking the storm would much less severe.

If you're still with me at this point, you can read the subsequent post at DetNews here.

UPDATE: Having heard from my fellow blogger Steve Couch on the matter and also taking into account the final effects of the storm which although gratefully included less fatalities but caused such tremendous property damage, I decided to apologize after all for being so, however unintentionally, facile. If you're interested, you can read it here.