Sunday, October 31, 2004

Drug traffickers are against marijuana legalization

I've been blogging up a storm in Detroit on the presidential election today so once again, I've neglected you here my dears but I'm convinced that deposing Bush is important to ending this war on some drugs and I figure I still have 24 hours to sway any undecided voters left in middle America.

Meanwhile, I've managed to get through a couple of dozen emails and found my friend Luiz Guanabara in Brazil is doing well and fighting the good fight for our plant. He is the middle of a huge campaign and his site has expanded considerably. You have to read Spanish to truly appreciate it (regrettably mine is still weak) but he is clearly doing well as evidenced by his poster in the graphic.

I knew he had something special from the first moment I sat down next to him on an airplane.

Oops: As Kaptinemo points out in the comment section, they actually speak Portuguese in Brazil but the translation of the banner came straight from Luiz so I know that's right.

The truth about drug testing

An excellent essay appears in of all places, the Arizona Republic today. E.J. Montini takes a look at how drug-free students really mean truth-free schools. Obviously of my generation, he notes well how we traded in our youthful idealism once we became parents ourselves.

That's funny, because the truth is what we used to be about. Or so we liked to say. It was "the man" who lied. It was "the system" that deceived. It was the "establishment." We weren't going to become a part of that. Not when we came of age. We weren't going to sugarcoat reality for our kids. We were going to be honest.

Maybe we even are more honest than our folks were but we're increasingly willing to hand over our responsibilities to the "establishment" and nowhere is that more apparent than by acquiescing to drug testing our students. It makes "the system" once again, look like the villain and frees us from having to deal with a subject that is no fun. But as E.J. points out, being a parent is not supposed to be fun and we do our children no favor by giving the schools the position of disciplinarian in our stead.

That's sort of what happened when we couldn't stop our grade-schoolers from dressing like hookers or thugs and asked the schools to institute dress codes.

It's what we're doing now when we demand that schools teach classes in ethics and morality, because coming down on our own kids about good and evil, right and wrong is like, you know, a bummer. We'd rather sue the fast food chains for making our kids fat than force them to occasionally eat a piece of fruit.

We can't even take charge of the TV remote control, asking instead for the federal government to slap big fines on broadcasters who air programs that we shouldn't allow our kids to watch in the first place.

Kids today, just as we did, have an acute bullshit meter and they know when we don't level with them. But it takes time to explain the truth and it makes for difficult conversation. They often don't want to hear it. EJ sums up the problem well.

So we ask the schools to tell them. We ask the government. We pretend to be serious when we say that it's more difficult to be a kid today than it was when we were children. Just the opposite is true. It's easier to be a kid now. It's tougher being a parent. That's why we let the TV and the computer baby-sit for us. It's why we let Mickey D's do the cooking. It's why we let schoolteachers do the parenting.

Given all that, maybe the least we can do for our kids is to be honest with them about something like in-school drug testing.

We should tell them that it's not really our way of teaching boys and girls to pass up drugs. It's our way of teaching them how to pass the buck.

State Department defends Plan Colombia

I missed this excellent Chicago Tribune editorial when it was published but it's back in the news thanks to a response by the White House and State Department spokesman, Marc Grossman who denied the plan is an ongoing failure and trotted out all the customary false or distorted statistics the prohibition profiteers have been spewing all year.

The Tribune got it right. For all the lame assertions by Grossman, Colombia's 30 year old civil war continues unabated and the only thing we have contributed is soldiers, guns and money to further escalate the fighting. In fact, Colombia Week reports in it's latest edition, since Uribe took office in 2002, FARC attacks have increased, an Organization of American States panel finds Colombia lacks clear laws for paramilitary demobilizations while at least 2.5 million Colombian children work for unjust wages in atrocious conditions and a Colombian dies from hunger an average of every two days.

Our tax dollars are being used to cause this suffering and worse. The CW further reports that sexual violence by government forces, guerrillas and paramilitaries has made women the main victims of Colombia’s war as evidenced by this chilling first person account.

It's time to hold our legislators accountable for this misdirected spending.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Nol van Schaik freed from prison

The owner of Willie Wortel's Coffeeshop and the International Hemp Museum in Haarlem, Holland is out on the street. This is cheering to me as I've been following Nol's story for a long time.

He spent four months in a French jail on a really old charge, and reportedly suffered inhumane treatment in prison for eight weeks before his lawyer could even talk to him, but justice has prevailed at last and he "is now free to travel anywhere in Europe. He recently attended the Barcelona Highlife Fair and Cup, and continues his cannabis activism."

Nice to have a little good news for a change.

Anti-Soros summit on tap

Well, I suppose it's only natural that prohibitionists would have conferences, after drug policy reformers have them too, but we call ours names like 'Out of the Shadows' and 'Reason-Compassion-Justice'. The prohibitionists call theirs 'National Anti-Drug Summit to Expose and Oppose George Soros'.

The speakers roster includes every heavy hitter on the prohibition side including the now disgraced former drug czar Andrea Barthwell. The titles of their sessions however are hilarious, straight out of the school of wishful thinking. Who would want to miss, “How school Random Drug Testing Might Have Saved My Daughter;” or my personal favorite, “The Impact of Drug Legalizers’ Messages and the Loss of Our Sons and Daughters and the 1,000 Young People Who Die EACH week."

It would be funny if they weren't so deadly serious about believing their own propaganda. I think it's clearly a sign of how far the drug policy reform has come however, when they focus so strongly on one of our greatest champions and funders, George Soros. I'm guessing they think if they get rid of the funding, they can get rid of us.

Fear and loathing in Illinois

This is an outrage. I've missed the daily rounds in the last few days and just found out Pete Guither of Drug WarRant has been slandered by Illinois Representative Jerry Weller. Weller has accused his opponent, Tari Renner of supporting drug legalization at last night's debate because of Pete's endorsement, and is also running ads and sending direct mail pieces slandering both Renner and Drug WarRant.

But even worse Pete updates the post with this.

Today, I received a check from Tari Renner, returning my donation. It was like a slap in the face. It really hurt. Because of Weller's slander, I am no longer welcome to take part in the political process.

Of course that won't stop Pete and he also issues a timely challenge:

Now that Renner has returned my donation, how about Weller returning his donations from the pharmaceutical companies?

In a followup post, Pete reports receiving strong support from the blogosphere, as well he should.

The most frightening aspect of the whole sorry affair is the transparent attempt to shut down reasonable dialogue on drug policy by casting those who offer reasonable solutions to the problems of drug abuse as 'promoters' of drug use.

It's another symptom of the larger problem with the ongoing suppression of dissent on government policy. A month ago, I found I couldn't access this blog in the Statesville County Library. The "Patriot Act filters" prevent every member of the public from listening to my reasons for ending a failed government program that does more harm than good. And not because I promote drug use, I don't either, but because I talk about drug policy. Here Pete is vilified by a candidate for public office, for doing the same.

Maybe you're thinking , so what - you don't do drugs - but how different is this from the marginalization of anti-war protests by labeling the supporters traitors? There's a growing and disturbing trend in the Bush government to silence opposition. And as I often tell people, don't feel so secure because the drug issue doesn't really affect your life. When they're done with us, they will be coming after you.

Please vote for Kerry on Tuesday and depose this regime.

Oh no, another 15 minutes of fame for Noho

Thanks to Daniel Markham for sending me this link to a NYT piece on lovely downtown Northampton. I hate to see it in a way because every time they write about us, we get another influx of 'outsiders'. I read this piece and realize just how gentrified this town has already become.

In the old days they used to call us stuff like, the new Seattle and punk rock capital of the world. Now the edgy artists are fleeing to Easthampton and beyond and the chain stores just keep proliferating on Main Street while the family businesses are moving out of downtown.

Don't get the idea that I don't welcome newcomers but the latest crowd, who drove up the real estate prices by bidding up to 40% over the asking price, now want to change everything. They complain about the characters and the night life that gave the town its cachet in the first place.

I don't know, but when the city council starts debating a noise ordinance, I start thinking it may be close to time to move on myself.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Referral Log Fun

Someone got to Last One Speaks by googling "Doper Vote" Libby. I found the results amazing in a way. My comment on Talk Left got top billing and LOS was three of of five of the hits on the page. What I like the best though was that one of the unrelated hits was called, Common Sense Politics Daily. I like to think that's what our little collection of voices offers here.

Kind of cosmic, don't you think?

Interpol Chief calls for international drug policy reform

I'm going to stop making promises I can't keep dear readers, clearly I didn't make it back to this blog last night but it's not entirely my fault. Blogger has been glitchy as hell this week and doesn't always let me in to post. Meanwhile, since I'm in right now, here's hoping this makes it to the blog.

DRC Net has an interesting item in the newsletter this week featuring an op-ed by Raymond Kendall, former chief of Interpol who calls drug prohibition, "obsolete and dangerous" and said its continuation represented a missed opportunity for reform. Prohibition has failed to protect the world from drugs, he said, and Europe must take the lead in reforming the drug laws, particularly at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs in Vienna in 2008."

"Although I am not personally in favor of the legalization of drugs, the general feeling is that the opportunity has been missed to profoundly reform a dangerous and obsolete legal framework and replace it with a modern and effective policy," wrote Kendall, who headed the international police body from 1985 to 2000 and who remains its honorary head.

Drug prohibition simply does not work, Kendall pointed out. Despite decades of suppression efforts, "cannabis has become a common substance with high rates of consumption, sometimes more accessible than alcohol," he wrote, while the distribution of drugs like cocaine and ecstasy is steadily increasing despite the billions of dollars poured into the drug war.

Kendall calls for the European community to take the lead when the UN takes up the issue again in 08 in demanding the world body modernize their conventions to embrace far more effective 'harm reduction' methods.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Candidates wanted

The Edmonton Sun has an article up today on the Canadian Marijuana Party that is actually pretty positive. It examines the party platform and interviews party leader Dave Dowling, who says"

"Eighty years of prohibition has not worked," he said.
He envisions a system in which the Province of Alberta would set up "a marijuana control board. It would issue the commercial grow licence and package, inspect and distribute the product." The legal sale of pot would free up cops to deal with serious crime, said Dowling.

"Instead of having law enforcement going after teenagers, they could go after real criminals like murderers and corporate polluters."

The author finds little to argue with except for one key problem.

Personally, I don't think Dowling's ideas are all that whacked out. But he's still just blowing smoke until the unlikely day his party rises to power.

Apparently, "the only way it would be recognized as an official party on the Nov. 22 ballot is if it runs candidates in more than 50% of Alberta's 83 ridings. That would mean it would have to come up with 42 candidates."

"We're still looking for more candidates, who can contact us from the website," said Dowling.

If you're a Canadian citizen, it sounds like a good job to me.

All in a dream team

Alright kids, baseball is over and it couldn't have ended on any a higher note than the Red Sox sweeping the world series after an unprecedented come back from a three game deficit in the playoffs. These boys may have made us wait a long time for the win, but they sure delivered it with style.

There was dancing in the streets last night and I may never get the smell of the champagne they sprayed all over us at City Tully's out of my jacket but it was worth the lost sleep to witness this historical event and in a moment of perfect symmetry, I got to bear witness in the company of my dear friend Harry McColgan. Harry is the former mayor of Noho and long time former owner of the bar who took me in so I wouldn't be alone on the one day I've been truly scared in my life - 9/11. I'm glad this was a happier night.

So we're all bleary and still sort of sleepwalking through this living dream in the Red Sox nation today but now that it's done, I'll be back bringing the drug war news to you every day, starting this evening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cannabis policy under worldwide review

For those of you who are kind enough to stop here to find drug news and find me still blathering on about baseball, here's a couple of items from the greater world of cannabis policy today.

In South Korea, "a narcotic crime expert claimed marijuana should not be regarded as a narcotic, supporting a female actress who filed a petition with a court to decide whether the laws banning marijuana are constitutional."

The remarks were made on behalf of the actress Kim Pu-son, who was arrested in July for smoking marijuana and was sentenced to a suspended prison term of two years. She filed a petition yesterday to a Suwon court where her appeal is pending, demanding it review whether the law on narcotics is constitutionally acceptable.

"Current law prescribing marijuana as a narcotic is unconstitutional, and banning marijuana is in violation of the right to pursue happiness," Kim claimed during a media briefing after filing the petition. She also said if the court rejects it, she would file the petition with the Constitutional Court.

In other news, a court in Belguim struck down part of a law regarding cannabis use that was enacted in 2003 to facilitate the use of medical marijuana. The court said that the legislation, which allowed users to smoke smal amounts of the drug in private as long as they do not disturb public order, was too unclear. According to the court, the police have too much discretion to assess the psychological, medical or social situation of the user and there is too much room for interpretation.

Meanwhile, in the town of Malama, India - a tiny village whose inhabitants have depended on the cultivation of cannabis for their livelihood for over five generations, the government has embarked on an irradication campaign that has destroyed over 14,000 acres of the crop.

The government has not come through with promised alternative jobs and rehabilatitation however, leaving the townspeople destitute and hungry. The angry villagers are demanding compensation for their lost crops.

Give me one more night...

It's a good day to a member of the Red Sox Nation. We're all walking around in a dream that everyone said would never come true. They only have to do one more time folks and then I really promise, I'll be updating here on my usual regular basis.

Meanwhile, thanks for all the good thoughts for my team. It appears to be working.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Game Three

I would love to stay and post but Manny Ramirez just hit a homer and I can hear the cheering from Tully O'Reilly's from here. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. I suspect I won't be back on-line tonight.

This game is history in the making folks, so as the kids say - I'm out.

NORML adds audio player to site

The NORML website has added a new feature, the NORML player, where "you can hear some great music that's been donated by musicians who care about marijuana law reform. If you're feeling a little 4:20 ish, fire up the NORML player, listen to the tunes, read the latest news headlines, and get active!"

The news will update daily, the music will update frequently. Enjoy.

Inspiration from India

Here's something you don't see every day. The Hindustan Times is running a feature article on Canada's own Prince of Pot, Marc Emery. Emery says a trip to India in 1992 was "a spark of inspiration for him."

"Sadhus were smoking ganja openly. No policemen interrupted them. In Varanasi, sadhus used ganja and bhang. In Jaisalmer, I found a shop which sold charas. Damn it. Back in North America we were spending million of dollars to stop drug trade, and here in India nobody stopped these sadhus. There was no prohibition.

...Returning home, he launched a movement to overthrow prohibition. Emery opened a shop called Hemp BC in Vancouver to openly sell marijuana or ganja. That was in 1994. Since then he has been in and out of jail.

As we all know Marc was just released from his ninth incarceration on behalf of our plant. The most telling quote for us in this election week however is this.

His Marijuana Party contested all the 79 seats in the last British Columbian provincial elections and received 3.5 per cent of the total vote, more than the Green Party.

If they can do it in Canada there's no reason for cannabis consumers not to do it here in the US. We smoke, we vote, we can make a difference.

Quote of the Day

My old friend Elmer Elevator checks in with this gem.

Ken Lay is the former CEO of Enron, the largest criminally-buggered bankruptcy in US history, thousands of people ripped off and pink-slipped, and he is still walking around free and unsupervised. Somebody on SSDPtalk saw this bumper sticker:

"If Ken Lay smoked a joint, he'd be in jail."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Quick - call Guiness

Here's one for the record books for those of you who think our vote doesn't matter. I'm well aware that the Dems have a bad record on the war on some drugs, but the big buzz in the cannabis news tonight is that, under the Bush administration, marijuana arrests set a new record and "the vast majority-88 percent-of marijuana arrests were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture."

Rob Kampia of Marijuana Policy Project has more to say.

"With marijuana arrests exceeding 750,000 a year, it's safe to say that the drug war isn't preventing people from using marijuana," said Robert Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "It's time to acknowledge this reality by taxing and regulating marijuana. A responsible system of regulation will do a better job of keeping marijuana away from kids and end the pointless persecution of adults who use marijuana responsibly."

Amen to that. Cannabis consumers make good citizens. It's well past time to stop treating us as criminals.

Crazy day

I'm having a brutal day. Overslept because I feel asleep watching the game last night (how about those Red Sox) and didn't set the alarm and my friend and co-worker Karen broke her foot her yesterday so I'm left to deal with the office chaos virtually alone today. It's not that there's not more staff, the rest of them are just pretty much useless in terms of being any help in the situation.

Anyway, now that I'm done whining about it, I'm just home for a quick lunch so no drug news this afternoon. If I live that long, I'll be back tonight.

Meanwhile, head over to D'Alliance and check out Baylen's post on the latest ONDCP offspring, NSDAP. "The National Synthetic Drugs Action Plan, under the auspices of the DOJ and ONDCP, is a joint offensive against legal and illegal man-made drugs like meth, OxyContin, pseudoephedrine, and Ecstasy. The NSDAP also establishes the "Synthetic Drugs Interagency Working Group," a new interagency bureaucracy tasked with implementing the plan, according to a joint statement drug czar John Walters and Attorney General John Ashcroft released with the report."

Baylen deconstructs the report.

The drug czar's office is ambitiously billing the NSDAP as "the Nation's first comprehensive strategy for reducing the production, trafficking, and use of synthetic drugs and the diversion of pharmaceuticals" through the use of "a balanced approach focused on four core areas: prevention, treatment, regulation of chemicals and drugs, and law enforcement." Notable recommendations from [and comments on] the plan include:

* An early warning and response system to detect the emergence of new drugs and trends. [Also known as a hi-tech new bureaucracy.]

* New import controls on bulk ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, similar to post-importation processing of Schedule I and II controlled substances. ["Post-importation processing" is more commonly known as "incineration" -- in this case of legal drugs.]

* Enhanced, targeted enforcement against diversion of OxyContin and Vicodin. [Part of the administration's larger efforts against pain patients and their doctors and pharmacists.]

* Ensuring adequate funding resources for clandestine lab and dumpsite cleanups, so that cleanup costs are not a disincentive to investigations or takedowns. [The drug czar's play to Dirty Harry environmentalists. Trees are for hugging. People are meant to be taken down.]

Baylen also takes a very interesting look at the press coverage. It seems the sole reporter who published a story on this, appears to have been tipped off.

And on that happy note, I'm off to the office.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Raich v. Ashcroft on line

Thanks to Steven Couch, (who I hope can find time to rejoin us in Detroit next week), for pointing me to this link at Volokh to the Merits Brief for the Respondents in the case. Randy Barnett, who co-authored the brief, posts:

I am very excited about our brief and am looking forward to the oral argument in the Supreme Court on November 29th. We are also supported by some very thoughtful and powerfully argued amicus briefs. The attorneys in the Solicitor General's Office now have their work cut out for them in writing their reply, which is due just 11 days before the oral argument.

There's links to the long list of Amici Briefs as well, authored by every major name in the reform movement joined by many medical organizations and even respondents from the states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

We're facing the election of a lifetime, the Red Sox are currently winning 2-0 and the US Supreme Court will be entertaining oral arguments on these briefs just over a month from now. In the words of Bob Dylan:

The times, they are a'changin...

Kids just want to be kewl

Niklas, who appears to be freshly back from a trip to Holland, sent me a link to his new photo blog Crovax200. It's charming with its candid shots and they look like nice kids but it bothered me that they all looked so young and all they were doing was smoking cannabis and taking drugs. I wrote him back and (you will love this) lectured him.

I told him it looked like they were drinking and drugging too much and that he needed to balance the blog with some pictures of them doing something besides getting trashed. I really hope they have some.
They call this Smart?

The Air Force has come up with a real doozy here. They've just modified their drug testing program, ironically named Smart Testing, by targeting Airmen most likely to use the substances. And by what complicated and fairly applied and conclusive criteria do they make this judgment?

Col. Wayne Talcott, community protection division chief of the Air Force Medical Support Agency at Brooks City-Base, Texas [said], "What we are really trying to do with Smart Testing is target the portion of our population that has the highest prevalence of drug use - That is basically 18-25 year olds."

They plan to increase the frequency of testing on the target group, which makes up 40% of the AF's end strength, while testing those 26 yrs old and older at a less frequent rate.

Colonel Talcott said the system is fair because names are chosen at random by computer.

And he seems to think this excuses age based discrimination.

Because names are put back into the system and because they are drawn randomly, individuals cannot predict when they will be tested, or how many times they will be tested during the year, Colonel Talcott said

He appears to be unconcerned that the names were entered in the pool for unequal treatment in the first place, based on a criteria that does not establish probable cause in my mind. I can't believe this is even legal much less worthwhile.

This will simply drive the drug takers to use drugs that pass through the system quickly and those are the chemical ones like meth. Trust me on this, you sure don't want an Air Force flying high on that.

Sunday reading

The WaPo has another good editorial on Jonathan Magbie's tragic death.

Happy Birthday to Pete Guither at Drug WarRant. Pete has a lot posted including an excellent analysis on Bush and Kerry. Keep scrolling.

Baylen at D'alliance has a bunch of great posts up as well, including this and my favorite - an appeal to legalize drugs written by Dear Abby ten years ago. Who knew?

Vice Squad has a thoughtful post on coerced treatment and a warning on the hazards of buying confiscated cars from the US Customs department.

Decrimwatch has his eye trained on the latest news out of the mid-west. Read it all, especially this post on a growing movement to bring agricultural hemp back to Illinois.

Scott at Grits for Breakfast has so much up, I can't pick one post to highlight there either. Just start at the top.

Meanwhile Sister Geoff has some wise words on the silliness of prohibition.

And finally Jeralyn of Talk Left takes at look at Jules Siegel's piece at Alternet on The Doper Vote. I'm astounded at the comments. Jules is right, so many otherwise progressive thinking people continue to buy into the myth that all cannabis consumers are irresponsible stoned out waste cases. I left a comment there myself even though it's a two day old post, just to have it on record.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Small signs of softer policy

You have to do the tiresome registration thing to get to the link on this so, trusting my source, I didn't read the original myself, but John Kerry is apparently is starting to hear us talking out here and made a positive statement for our cause.

John Kerry said he would leave Oregon's controversial medical marijuana and assisted suicide laws alone and blasted President George Bush for deepening budget deficits.

"Individual states have the right to make a decision until the federal government has made an alternative one, and we don't have the information to make that, period," Kerry said.

It almost sounds like he read Jules' article, doesn't it?

High sentencing guidelines - how low can prohibition go?

This is disgusting. I couldn't find a link to a news story, perhaps the press didn't even cover it, so I'm reprinting the account from the Kunstler Fund newsletter in full.

Aida Mendoza is 80 years old. She is sick. Very sick. She suffers from chronic heart disease. Yet, she sits in a federal prison in Danbury Connecticut, where she will die. She was sent away for 4 years for answering phone calls from Colombia. She was destitute. She was bankrupt. She answered the phone. She didn't buy. She didn't sell.

She read about the Kunstler Fund and asked her son Miguel to contact us and to tell her story and try to help her out before she goes. Below are excerpts from the day of her sentencing. Read it and weep.

JUDGE JOYNER You have the right to address the court. What do you have to say for yourself.

THE DEFENDANT I would like to beg your pardon to the Judge and the people of the United States for my acts. MY SUPPLICATION WOULD BE . PLEASE DO NOT SEPARATE ME FROM MY FAMILY. I DON'T THINK I COULD ENDURE. THEY ARE ALL I HAVE JUDGE JOYNER

JUDGE JOYNER Anything else?

THE DEFENDANT Your honor, I was getting the phone call. I was getting them.

JUDGE JOYNER What were you doing based on the phone calls

THE DEFENDANT I was at home visiting my son

JUDGE JOYNER Very well. The court has reviewed your presentence report and as always it is an excellent report. It is the judgment of this court that charging you use of a telephone to facilitate a drug felony that you be committed to the custody of the bureau of prisons for a period of 48 months.

THE DEFENDANT Would it be anyway possible that you may allow me to stay in my home under confinement with my children for that period of time

JUDGE JOYNER That was not a possibility under the sentencing guidelines

THE DEFENDANT How come? I wasn't around, making money, making deals with anybody. I sear to god I never held drugs, I never transported drugs. I never handled money. I swear to god. I never did any drug deal whatsoever. You do have a heart your honor

JUDGE JOYNER Yes, I have a heart. This is a tough circumstance for even myself. Because when I look at you, I see my mother standing in front of me. She is your age and I am wondering why you are standing this afternoon being sentenced. I have difficulty in sending you to prison but the sentencing guidelines dictate that you must go. And it gives me no alternative in that regard.

THE DEFENDANT I guess I will die in prison. There isn't much left.

JUDGE JOYNER In any case, I wish you the best. That concludes our business here and we are adjourned.

He wishes her the best? The best what - cell to die in? If there was ever a time for a judge to stand up and say, enough - this was it. He should have refused to uphold the guidelines rather than sentence an 80 year old woman to death by incarceration.

Friday, October 22, 2004
A little pick me up

There's a few things left I want to do before I die. I've never been in a helicopter for instance and I have a livelong dream of having a ride in the Goodyear blimp. For no apparent reason, going up in a cherry picker has also been on that list. Today I scratched that one off.

They're doing some work on my office building and they've had a very fancy aerial lift on the sidewalk all week. This morning, one of the guys took me in it; clear to up to the roofline on the third floor. It was very cool.

Now I've jumped out of airplanes, so the height wasn't that dramatic but the guy who took me up has a little crush on me so he was kind of nervous and he barely knew how to run the thing, so that did add a little excitement. For a minute I thought he might hit the powerlines. In any event, it was fun to see my piece of Main Street from that perspective. And what with the downtown trees blazing with colors, it was really quite a nice view. If I hadn't had to go to work myself, I might have stayed up there to help them paint.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any connections with Goodyear - well - I sure would love a ride in that blimp.

Voters smoke

It's a funny thing. I've only actually met them once in person, briefly, but I love Jules Siegel and his lovely wife Anita like family. Jules and I spend a lot of time together in cyberspace and he's got one of the most amazing minds I know. He claims not to have a brain but this article appearing in Alternet's Drug Reporter this week would belie that notion.

Jules has the last word on The Doper Vote. He gets around in the blogosphere and when he floated the concept at Kos, they scoffed. But he rightly notes, "Do these people think that drug users don't vote?"

Jules with his impeccable logic and years of political experience has some sage words that Kerry should be listening to. Like this:

The right wing is way ahead on this. ...The culturally tolerant fiscal conservative could be Kerry's key swing voter.

I love this line on cannabis consumers.

Anti-drug war activists see it as self-medication, not just for physical pain, but for the otherwise usually intractable irritations of life in groups.

Here's the money quote for Kerry.

Many anti-drug war activists in forums such as plan either to vote for Nader or abstain because Kerry is just another cop....

But for reform activists, here's the money quote on why we need to vote for Kerry anyway.

The Supreme Court can legalize marijuana by fiat. Think of it – no negotiations and tortured lobbying, but genuine experts expounding on the facts, constrained by rules of evidence.

Pick one: Bush or Kerry. Which candidate is most likely to name judges who will interpret the Constitution of the United States according to facts in evidence rather than DEA propaganda?

It's not just about the drug war folks. It's about removing Bush before he removes our ability to peaceably assemble on the internet. You only need to look as far as the Indymedia crackdown to see why we should be concerned about that.

World News Roundup

Peter Bradley, a Labour MP renewed his call for the Government to reclassify cannabis as a medicine rather than a recreational drug saying, "it would be a
'very small step' and 'the right and compassionate thing to do'."

One of his constituents, a former West Midlands Police undercover drugs squad officer, uses cannabis to alleviate the crippling symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Mr Bradley has highlighted the ex-policewoman's situation and called for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis for the last four years.

In other news, former cabinet minister Peter Lilley explains his robust views on cannabis.

'It's important to have a rational policy and to recognise the difference between soft drugs and hard drugs, between use and abuse and between punishment and treatment,' the former cabinet minister said in Guernsey yesterday.

'Eighty per cent of the war-on-drugs effort is devoted to cannabis. But in my mind, 90% of the effort ought to be on hard drugs.'

....'What I'm proposing is breaking the link between soft drugs like cannabis and harder drugs,' said the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden.

And finally, as predicted, now that the celebrating is over, Cannabis Culture has the story on their own Prince of Pot, Marc Emery's release from jail after serving 62 days of his 92 day sentence.

Marc has been busy giving interviews and reorganzing his troops since his release. He had this to say.

"I am glad to be out of jail and back where I belong," said Emery. "But I expect that I will go to jail again at some point in the future, as I continue to battle this vicious pogrom against our peaceful culture. I learned a great deal while I was in prison. I saw first-hand why our prison system should be abolished. I studied the lives of other freedom-fighters like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. I have crystallized my ideology and I understand my mission now better than ever before. Nothing will ever stop my devotion to freeing our culture and ending the war on marijuana!"

Welcome home Marc.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Down for the count

I have 620 unread emails and there's a lot of news in there but I've had one too many late nights with these ballgames and I'm done for the day. I'll be back in the a.m. but while I'm still in the sports mode, I leave you with these random musings.

The best story I heard last night at Tully O'Reilly's was from Mike, one of the after work regs. He's an arborist, so we talk about trees a lot. He's a really big guy with a really gentle aspect. I like him.

He was in this odd state of sort of wonderment when I stopped to talk. We were watching the Red Sox win the game, and he told me his brother has four tickets to the fourth game of the world series and he's invited. He kept saying, "St. Louis or Houston, I'll be there in person." He's my age and he's never been to a major league before. Great place to start I thought.

Meanwhile, in the breaking news yet another sports figure is left holding the bag of cannabis.

Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets was issued a summons last Friday at Denver International Airport for possession of a tiny amount of cannabis. Harking back to the days of my youth, his excuse was - it "belonged to a friend".

Red Sox Nation - what curse?

I'm so tiresome today, I can hardly stand myself. Here I had a chance to watch history in making and all I can do is whine about how sleepy I am. Not that it wasn't worth it. I don't think we'll see a series as exciting as this again in our lifetimes. We may all be stumbling around bleary-eyed but there's sense of great joy and wonderment wafting through the Baystate today.

There's a popular theory among die-hard Sox fans that if we actually win the series, the world as we know it will end. This will be a good thing for drug policy reform. Baylen says it true and I see no reason not to believe him.

Meanwhile, I'm out of time so check back this evening for the latest on the war on some drugs, a subject I know I've been neglecting lately because of all the excitement around here.

Slipping on the ice

What a game. I'm getting a late start this morning after staying up for yet another night to watch history in the making. Dare I believe that this will be the year the Red Sox actually win the world series? We're all holding our breath here in the Baystate waiting to see what happens next.

Meanwhile, I'm still in fuzzy brain mode so I leave you this morning with Pete Gorman's excellent story on the new drug ice. I guess I shouldn't say new - meth's purer cousin has been around for a long time now but its use has begun to take on a life of its own lately. Gorman tells us everything we wanted to know (and don't want to know) about the drug. It's scary stuff.

"People have short tempers when they're on it, and they're very sexually aggressive. ... And where with meth you might be high for 4-6 hours, with this you're high 10-12 hours and it's several times stronger than meth."

Even for people who are accustomed to using meth, he says, ice is often a problem. "It just seems to take people over like nothing I've ever seen. They can maintain their lives for years with meth, but with this they forget about their jobs, their families, everything. The only thing that matters is ice. I've talked with chemists and medical people and even people who make it, but no one has been able to explain why this is so much stronger. It just is."

No matter how experienced a drug user is, it takes everyone down, sooner or later. Mostly sooner.

"People burn themselves out all sorts of ways. From working too much, to drinking too much to too much nothing. But from what I am seeing, ice turns you into such a raging, focused maniac that you will burn out faster, and probably harder, than anything you can imagine."

Even if you never plan on trying this drug yourself, it's become such an epidemic that it behooves you to get informed. If nothing else it's an interesting article. Read it for yourself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Out of the closet

Well, it's official. I think I'm now listed in at least five places specifically as a left wing blogger.

Just got listed here so, welcome to Sandor's readers from The Zoo who are clicking over from the Blogosphere Political Compass Project. Sandor is compiling a chart of the resuults to the quiz for bloggers only, to see which way the blogosphere leans. At the moment, it's definitely tilting to the right so lefty bloggers that visit here may want to participate to help get some balance into the picture.

Meanwhile, right wing bloggers who are here to check out what a lefty has to say, may also want to check out my archived posts at the Detroit News political weblog.

The Invisible War in Colombia

The United Nations calls it the worst humanitarian disaster in the Americas and if memory serves, the internal conflict has been going on for over 30 years. With two guerrilla organizations and another paramilitary one working for the government, the players have never been easy to keep track of in this civil war but basically the Colombian government had conducted a persecution campaign against the indigenous people of the country and is allowing them to be systematically disappeared or at least displaced under the auspices of what has been retitled the war on narco-terror. The US has become increasingly involved, centering their attention on areas running along the oil pipelines in the country.

With all the attention on Iraq, the 3.3 billion the US has spent there may seem a drop in the bucket but the country is the third largest recipient of US funds after Israel and Egypt. The Nation looks at the situation today and projects the US military presence of the future. Not a pretty picture.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Take me out to the ball game

Alright, I lied. I'm not going to catch up on the news tonight. It's the top of the fourth and the Red Sox just went ahead 4-0. I'm heading over to the place formerly known as the City Cafe for a couple of innings of whooping and hollering. I won't be blogging again tonight.

I leave you with this breaking news item on yet another cannabis related scandal in the sports world.

Alabama-Birmingham: Defensive line coach Pat Donohoe resigned Monday after being charged with possession of marijuana in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, the Birmingham News reported.

Donohoe denies the charge.

"Despite my actual innocence on the specific charge brought against me, I feel compelled to restore the honor and good name of the UAB football program, and the university itself, in the only way now possible," Donohoe said in his letter of resignation.

Another sports career unnecessarily ruined over a plant.

Alaska's Lt. Governor misbehaves

This is irritating. The Anchorage News reports that the Official Election Pamphlet, sent to 300,000 households, contained a verbatim statement opposing the initiative, written by an office staffer for Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. Tax dollars are spent on this publication that is supposed to be providing impartial information for the voter, not propaganda.

Although the statement was signed by Dr. Charles Herndon, medical director of Providence Breakthrough, a drug and alcohol disorder treatment center, it was written by Leman's chief of staff, Annette Kreitzer.

"It's outrageous conduct," said initiative backer David Finkelstein. He and other proponents of the measure said the lieutenant governor is required to remain neutral on election issues.

Former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea [and vocal opponent of the measure] said the statement could give marijuana advocates a valid court challenge if they lose. "I'm just totally disgusted," he said.

In a telling remark, "Laura Glaiser, director of the Elections Division, said it was difficult to find opponents to the initiative with a medical background to write the statement."

Of course it was difficult. A majority of the US public believes the plant to be relatively harmless. I doubt many of the remaining minority are medical people.

Out to lunch

My brain is as fuzzy today as pair of old wooly Red Sox, after watching two of the longest games in the history of baseball over the last two nights. I know they say it's a slow sport but really, yesterday's game was almost six hours long! I'm getting too old for this. I only wish Scrappleface was telling the truth for change, because I could really use some sleep and they're playing the Yankees in New York again tonight.

Anyway, I frittered away my lunch hour fooling around so check in later this evening for the news. I promise, I'll try to catch us up then.

Marc Emery released

Has it been 90 days already? Marc was released yesterday morning from the Saskatoon jail after serving his ridiculous sentence for passing one joint at a pot rally.

News accounts are sketchy but Dana Larsen reports through the listserv that Marc had to wait for 45 minutes for them to find his Armani suit which he wore to court when he was sentenced. They apparently never found it.

His release comes at an opportune moment for his supporters on vigil outside of the courthouse as it's been snowing up there and has been freezing cold. They set up for the last time during a virtual blizzard to listen to Marc's radio show and to await his triumphant return. I expect there will be more on this at Cannabis Culture once they settle down after the homecoming celebration.

Monday, October 18, 2004
Fighting the good fight in the Lone Star State

Grits for Breakfast moved into the daily check zone with this post on yet another drug task force atrocity.

The Dogwood Trails task force (what kind of name is that for a bunch of prohibition profiteers - it sounds like a conservation agency) allegedly broke up a crack cocaine ring and arrested 72 people. Now that would be impressive except, as Pete Guither figured out based on federal statistics, the crack market for the entire county is comprised of 165 people. We're talking about Texas here so I'm sure I don't have to tell you that all of the defendants are poor black folks.

Now math is not my strong suit, but what I'm reading here is that the Dogwood Trails task force would like you to believe that virtually half of the potential crack users in a small county in Texas are major drug dealers and that your tax dollars were well spent putting every single one of them in jail.

There's no numbers on the cost for the manpower on a two year investigation and the ensuing court costs, but with 72 defendants, you can bet it's at least in the high hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars. Drug WarRant meanwhile has figured out the incarceration costs of this case.

Most of the defendants are facing 40 years to life. Assuming the minimum, that's over $60 million to jail them (which would also pay for 4 years of college for every teenager in the county).

This would probably be an issue of more concern in Texas except that the money is going directly into the prison industry, which as Scott points out is " the largest employer in the area. (see the subhed, Healthcare, Prisons, and Water). Vocal, organized special interests like the correctional officers union and the drug task force, whose jobs depend on a steady flow of new people into the system, are unlikely to criticize such excesses."

Scott goes on to look at the social and practical costs of the operation. It's a bleak post but a great blog. Read it for yourself.
Change change change

Regular readers may have noticed that I managed to spend some time on the template this weekend. I've added a lot to the blogroll and I urge you to take a moment to check out all the new bloggers' fine contributions to the blogiverse. It's a work in progress so feel free to send in corrections. I've already had to rescue Thief's Den from Drug Policy Reform sites. Trust me, he's with us on that issue but he's a voice that generally speaks from the opposite side of the political divide from me.

I also figured out how to add a graphic. Until Paul Shoul has time to take my picture, I've put up my favorite photo of the year. I got that shot with an insta-camera. I held it over my head while I was standing on my front stoop during a thunder storm and just kept shooting every time the lightning struck. It loses something in the thumbnail but I'm convinced in looking at the full sized shot (as goofy new age that it sounds), that I have a picture of the magical confluence in the Happy Valley.

Meanwhile, my haircut is working out for the weather. It's a little lopsided, I cut it while I was getting ready for my not-a-date yesterday with Chet. Probably not the best plan when I only had ten minutes to spare. I really need to shorten the other side tomorrow morning but it's working. Someone actually complimented me on it today.

A mother's story on MMJ in Montana

Teresa Michalski of Helena, Montana loved her son Travis so much she was willing to break the law to obtain some relief for him. Travis who suffered from Hodgkin's lymphoma until he recently died endured tremendous pain at the end of his life and his parents did what they had to do to obtain the one thing that relieved his discomfort. They went out and found some marijuana for him.

"It was scary because that's not part of our culture," Michalski said. "His dad and I went to certain bars that we thought marijuana users might frequent.
"They were real leery of us, but we kind of hung out a couple of times and told our story," she said. "Finally, we built a trust relationship."

Meanwhile, our deputy drug czar is touring Montana, using your tax dollars by the way, to fight against the state's attempt to pass a humane initiative on MMJ.

"To date, no one has said that marijuana is a medicine," said Scott Burns, the deputy White House drug czar. "It's not. We have much better ways of treating an illness than smoking a weed." he said.

So he expects you to believe that terminally ill people are willing to risk arrest to take something that doesn't work better than the pharmaceutical poisons they are currently being prescribed legally?

The prohibition profiteers like to scare you with this sort of drivel and when all else fails pretend to be concerned about the effect these initiatives will have on children. It's such bullshit. Teaching our children that the government is willing to undertake humane policy to ease the sick's suffering seems to me to be a pretty darn good civics lesson.

The only thing at risk here is the drug czar and his deputy's salaries.

More on Oregon MMJ initiative

It's called Measure 33 and would "increase the amount of cannabis a patient can possess and expand the types of medical professionals who can prescribe it. It also would authorize licensed dispensaries that would be allowed to distribute marijuana."
Proponents point out this is a humane measure taken to protect the chronic and terminally ill citizens of Oregon. Meanwhile, drug czar John Walters, who's never seen a humane policy on MMJ he didn't hate, toured the state to speak out against the initiative.

“We’re not bigoted; we want medicine that is safe and effective,” said John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “They have failed to demonstrate safety and efficacy.”

Walters said it is “vile and immoral” to showcase seriously ill people in commercials talking about how much better they feel after using marijuana and offering support for Measure 33.

But he doesn't find it "vile and immoral" to arrest people in their wheelchairs and hospital beds? Talk about your hypocrisy. And as far proving marijuana's safety and efficacy, his lie about has been debunked too many times to even mention anymore. I'm sure you know by now that there has never been even one documented case of a death caused marijuana overdose. Meanwhile, the program is ready to roll.

Oregon has issued medical marijuana cards to 9,768 patients and 5,013 caregivers, according to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. And there are 1,496 physicians with applications to prescribe marijuana.

Surprisingly Libertarians are not supporting the measure, maintaining it would impose excessive government regulation on patients and doctors.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The lure of the black market profit

Outside of Atlanta, Jonathan Eaton, a 24 year old police officer who has only been on the job since mid-September, was arrested with his family for dealing drugs.

A search of the home turned up 11 ounces of methamphetamine, more than an ounce of marijuana, and more than 10-thousand dollars in cash, Sheriff Larry Amerson said. Six rifles and handguns, and several pipes used to smoke methamphetamine also were found.

This sounds too big to have just started three weeks ago and I have to ask myself how this guy ever passed the background check. That aside, I wonder why the guy would want to become a cop?

Rooms to Move

It's hard to define my relationship with Jordi Herold, former owner of the Iron Horse Music Hall. We're certainly not friends however, since we have occasion to interact so frequently, we have more than a casual knowledge of each other. I guess the closest I could come to describing it is, he's a close business acquaintance.

He recently bought one of my favorite civil war era houses in the entire town, with the intention of restoring it. The house has been empty for a decade and needs a lot of work or I would have bought it myself, but here's the interesting part. He moved it across lovely downtown Northampton in one piece.

I was out of town at the time and was sad I didn't get to witness it live however, this little burgh has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to artists and Victor Hoyt posted some gorgeous photos of the event here.

Back in action

It's bad enough I barely find time to post here but now Blogger has been glitchy and I haven't been able to get into the program until just now. I only hope this publishes.

Anyway, I'm just back from my second 'this is not a date' with Chet. We went out for a foliage ride in his jeep up into the hilltowns. I used to live out that way myself so it was nice to see the old stomping grounds all dressed up in fall colors and it was cool that he took me to places I had never been. Not an easy task in that terrority. I was astounded for instance to find out there was a road through the floodplain under the Knightville Dam.

We took a look as his house up there and then went to lunch at the only bar in at least three towns - Listons. I hadn't been there in 25 years. Chet said, "They've been sprucing it up." I had to laugh, although they had put new plastic up on a couple of the outside windows. To be fair, they had done quite a bit on the inside including a newly painted purple bathroom that was obviously lovingly decorated with country crafts.

I had a fabulous grilled cheese with perfectly done, freshly cooked bacon and an interesting chat with the truck driver sitting next to me at the bar. Unfortunately, somewhat of a pall was cast over the day when the young cook, who is renting the house from Chet, came out to tell him what the last tenant had done to the place. We went back to the house afterward and made a closer inspection. It wasn't quite as bad as it had initially sounded, although it will still mean a few days of repairs for Chet. Nonetheless, it was a overall a fun ride. He makes a good companion.

I might even meet him at City later to watch a couple innings of the Red Sox game.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Short takes

I'm off for a short walk and some errands but I found this little oddity from Alaska just now that I couldn't resist passing on. This op-ed by the director of the Alaska Drug Forum sounds more like just an introduction. It takes so long to list his 40 years of credentials in the field of family medicine and addiction that he doesn't get to say much more than this, but it's still strong I think.

In the early 1980s, at the request of the Legislature, with a committee of the Alaska State Medical Association, I reviewed the effects of marijuana. The committee concluded that marijuana, an hallucinogen, affected control and coordination as much as did alcohol, but had no short or long-term ill effects and was not addicting. In general, it was found to be less dangerous than alcohol and it was felt that it should be legally available.

Unfortunately, because of fear created and perpetuated by uneducated politicians, this relatively harmless drug has been made illegal.

I have a lot of hope for this initiative. If this doesn't pass it won't be because the reformers didn't work hard enough.

New blog of the week

When I have time, I try to check my referral log and trace back the links. I thus discovered yet another new blog that I really like. M. Simon, blogging at Power and Control publishes his keen observations out of Rockford, IL. He blogs about more than just the drug war but readers here will find his posts on Prohibition I and Drug war racism and the 60s of particular interest. Another blog destined for our blogroll.

We have comments!

I don't get alerted when they are posted and I don't always remember to go back and check, so forgive me for taking so long to mention this. I'm really glad to see people are using the comments section. I love knowing who is visiting here. I appreciate the feedback and since I still get so few, I thought I might thank you all personally this week.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast posted a reminder about the non-existent difference between the Reps and the Dems on the drug war, at my post about Walters disinformation tour. Scott is "Blogging in a Lone Star State of mind" telling "Tall but true tales from the trenches in Texas," out of Austin. Love your blog Scott. I'll be putting it on my blogroll and not because I discovered that you were nice enough to put Last One Speaks on yours. Great stuff.

Thanks to Lorax for the pithy comments on Loretta Nall's vigil at Judge Retchen's courthouse. Your remarks on "common soldiers being prosecuted for war crimes on the grounds that they have a responsibility to disobey unjust orders" are particularly timely in light of the recent arrest of soldiers in Iraq for refusing to go on a 'suicide mission'.

Lorax also has some astute observations on addiction, here.

Thanks to Klay for pointing out the hypocrisy of both major candidates here. And I couldn't find the post but I was honored that Thief of Thief's Den is reading the blog and had made a comment recently.

Finally, thanks so much to Sister Geoff for the kind concern about my health. I'm happy to report I'm quite recovered now.

Bong salesman running for Congress

I like this one. I've always believed that the way we're going to get drug policy reform is to run candidates willing to come out in support of the issue.

James "Lex" Bufford, owner of the Strawberry Alarm Clock smoke shops in Merced and Madera, is the Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional District, which stretches from Fresno to Modesto.

He's campaigning on a drug reform platform against five-term Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, who grows wine grapes.

"If you want to call me a drug dealer, you have to call him a drug dealer, too," said Bufford, 52, who lives in Chowchilla.

He doesn't really stand a chance of winning in this heavily Republican district but if Bufford has a strong showing here, it's only a matter of time before others will jump on the reform bandwagon.

Marijuana initiatives in trouble

The election is less than three weeks away and Marijuana Policy Project is out of money. They have been working hard in several states to get these initiatives passed and campaigning costs cash for ads and pamphlets and a dozen other details. If you have ten bucks you can spare to help legalize cannabis, please click here and donate.

To see where you money is going, check out the press coverage on their work in Alaska here, in Montana here and in Oregon here. It would be a shame to let that all go to waste.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Drug debate gets heated

Thanks to Preston Peet of for sending in this amusing article on Mark Souder's recent speaking engagement before a meeting of law enforcement officials who convened to talk about the drug problem in Indiana. Souder was invited to speak as a result of correspondence the organizers had with 9th Judicial District Judge Tom Yeager who runs the district's drug court. Things got a little testy.

Yeager said if the federal government is under the impression that illegal drug usage is declining, "They must be on drugs." He went on to say that because of illegal drug usage "you can't run a company." He cited examples of a plumbing company and a trucking company that can't get employees because they can't pass drug tests.

Further, he told Souder, the duty of the federal government is first and foremost protection of its citizens and that it has been extremely unsuccessful in efforts against illegal drugs.

Souder countered that there is indeed a war on drugs and cited figures on how many have died fighting illegal drug trafficking in Colombia. He added that the war may not be as aggressive as it should be, but it is a war. But he also went on to say, "The federal government is not going to fund personnel. Money is not free in the federal government. We don't go out in the national forest and pick it off."

Meanwhile, Loren Lampert, a Rapides Parish assistant district attorney who prosecutes drug cases said, " the federal bureaucracy really stops the effectiveness of what we are trying to do. The federal government's job is to protect our borders."

Souder reportedly "welcomed the input" and cited the Bush adminstration's new war on so-called narco-terroism as a sign of hope because now that terrorism issues are handled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General is more interested in illegal narcotics issues."

It's a fool's hope however, to think that Ashcroft is going to solve anything. He's still pushing the failed idea that stronger mandatory minimums are the solution, an approach the US Supreme Court is predicted to quash when they take the matter up in the near future.

Weekend review

Talk Left posted a roundup on the drug czar's war against cannabis initiatives this week. Pete at Drug WarRant expounds further on the situation in Montana and posts an amusing essay that spanks deputy czar Scott Burns for interfering there.

Jim at Vice Squad asks the question, why is quasi-legal pot less expensive than legally prescribed marijuana, especially when the underground herb is usually of better quality?

Baylen has a thoughtful post up on the RNC's attack on Kerry for his record on drug policy reform. Baylen rightly cautions against irrational exuberance about these remarks. This guy is still standing up and boasting about having been a cop all his life and as far as I know, he hasn't joined LEAP yet. Not to mention, Rand Beers is still lurking in the background waiting for a cabinet post.

I still think we should vote for Kerry of course. But let's not get too excited.

You have the right not to consent to searches

Home Alone star, Macaulay Culkin pleaded not guilty this week to charges of possession of a half ounce of cannabis and Xanax without a prescription.

I didn't blog this when it happened because I was on the road but as I recall, he never should have allowed the search in the first place. If he had seen the video, Busted by Flex Your Rights before he had been stopped he may have saved himself the $4,000 bond and attorneys fees.

Update: Pete from Drug WarRant, who did follow the story initially, checks into comments to let us know "it was actually his companion who authorized the search of the car, which just goes to show that you not only need to see Busted, but also show it to all your friends." Well said Pete.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Change is inevitable

For those of you who scoffed at me when I told you cannabis would be legalized in our lifetime, here's a major report from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation predicting that all street drugs will be legalized by 2020.

According to the article in the UK Mirror, "It states the "prohibition" of cannabis, cocaine and even crack and heroin had proved a disaster," and "world governments would soon recognise the only solution was to legally control the production and supply of narcotics."

I know it sounds a little far out but it makes the usual good points about the cost of failed enforcement policies and public safety benefits. More importantly it was launched at the House of Commons and with the backing of several Labour MPs, calls for a root-and-branch reform of drugs policy.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, of the all-party group on drug misuse, also supports the study, calling it "the first practical drug policy road map".

Needless to say however, the support is not unanimous. There are always naysayers.

The Home Office said: "The Government has no intention of legalising the recreational use of any controlled drug.

Of course they don't but the day may come soon when they don't have a choice. Both on practical and political grounds, the policies will have to change.

Good news from the federal courts

I love the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals. It's a little early to do an annual review but I'd bet if someone would tally up the numbers, this court has already done more for drug policy and sentencing reform than any other in the country this year.

Yesterday, the court upheld a downward departure in a drug conviction case and ruled that the lower court did not err in overriding the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Full text of the decision is available here.

[Hat tip to Leigh Meyers]

Carnival 108

With all the blogging I'm doing on the election at the DetNews right now, I forgot to link last week to Incite's carnival but Conservative Dialysis hosts 108 with a no-nonsense style that gets right to the point. Is it me or is this party getting really big every week?

Check out this week's fine entries at Nick's blog.

John Walters disinformation tour

Your favorite drug czar and mine is at it again. Walters was speaking in Alabama at a "news conference to announce $150,000 in new federal funding he said would go to a regional program that fights cocaine and marijuana trafficking." (Read that as blood money for another corrupt drug task force that is more likely to harass innocent people than solve the meth problem.) In responding to questions on the meth epidemic in the state, he said:

"The reality is this: The same drug use survey that showed we had an 11 percent decline in teenage drug use showed we had a 13.5 percent decline in teenage methamphetamine use."

If that's his reality, you have to wonder what planet he is living on. Of course he doesn't mention that the study was bought and paid for by prohibition profiteers who would lose their cushy positions if the war on some drugs ends. Meanwhile the money is earmarked for cocaine and cannabis - hardly the worst problem they're dealing with in Bama.

Your tax dollars at waste.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Around the UK today

Five cases are being brought before the Court of Appeal arguing that people who use cannabis to relieve chronic pain should not be convicted for a crime. The defendant's are pleading their cases using a necessity defense, or at least trying to. The judge has already ruled one party is barred from using it but has sent another case to the jury for a decision. The question on the table remains is chronic and debilitating pain capable of causing serious harm? We await the disposition of these cases with great interest.

In other news, the Cumbria County Council came out strongly against random drug testing in schools despite the availability of a "revolutionary" new testing kit. Some school administrators however, are rubbing their hands together with glee and can't wait to start the testing.

Finally, I thought this was sweet. A 74 year old Bradford on Avon councillor will go on a cannabis training course after nearly half of teenagers quizzed in a survey thought the drug was used in the town on a daily basis. He says he knows very little about the plant and wants to learn more before debating the issue.

Magbie vigil continues

Loretta Nall checks in with an update on the ongoing protest in front of the Judge Retchin's courthouse. Loretta continues her vigil and reports on only one incident of police misconduct. A couple of howdy beefburgers on the local force apparently got in her face about being there, but she stood them down. In contrast, she was also approached by the federal marshall who was assigned to take Jon Magbie to the jail from the courtroom. She reports on the conversation.

He said he was called to the courthouse to pick him up and was expecting just another regular person convicted for smoking pot to be there waiting on him. He said when he saw Magbie and his condition he was shocked and upset that a person like that could be sent to jail. He said he felt like the lowest piece of scum on earth for having to drive him to jail and that he felt deep down that something horrible might happen.

He told me when he read the story in the Post a few days later he broke down and cried like a baby. He said he felt responsible to a degree but that as a federal marshal he had to do what he was told.

I thanked him mightily for coming over and talking to me and told him what had just happened with the other cops. He looked disgusted by their actions. He then told me that pot should be legal and that most people even on the federal side as well as regular civilian police officers felt that way as well from what he could tell.

Loretta is also gaining supporters among the passerbys. Three of these guys were on their way into the courthouse and knew Magbie personally.

They offered to be part of Loretta's intended confrontation in Retchin's courtroom. That may too strong a word, she plans to unfurl the banner inside the courtroom while the judge is presiding. Retchin managed to slip out the back door yesterday before they could do it, but Loretta vows to stay in DC until she accomplishes this task.

And how cool is it that Jay Leno mentioned the US Marijuana Party in his monologue? A snarky comment but nonetheless, the NY Times reports he said, "I read today in the Times that John Kerry has now received the endorsement from the National Marijuana Party. Well, good luck getting those people out to the polls!"

Good luck indeed for the candidate who gets their votes. Mark my words, the cannabis consumers will have a bigger impact on this election than anyone expects.

Meanwhile, in Vermont the US Marijuana party is fielding Cris Ericson as a candidate for governor. We wish her the best of luck on the campaign trail.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Photo by Susan T. Wehren
Has horse, will travel

It was great to hear from Howard Wooldridge this week who just returned from an extended LEAP speaking tour in Alaska. He was invited for only 2 engagements but ended up speaking 6 times to 300 people and on the radio 4 times including a debate on NPR with Web Shea, the biggest opponent of the legalization bill. Needless to say
Howard kicked Shea's butt in that one.

As Howard modestly puts it, "I met all the major coordinators, heard the commercials on radio and TV, etc and I was very impressed. The ads are perfect for Alaska, the staffers are working together (3 groups) & the opposition is so far quite weak."

Meanwhile, I'll tell you a secret if you promise not to tell his horse Misty. Howard has decided to saddle up and take Misty on the road again next year on behalf of legalization. If you have a barn and bed you can offer for a night, let him know.

Pictures from the Magbie protest

Pete has a great photo of Magbie posted at Drug WarRant today. While you're there also check out his impeccable analysis on understanding why drug laws are bad. Meanwhile Loretta Nall sends photos from her protest in front of the courthouse.

I believe this is her husband.

And I think that might be our friend Erin Hildebrandt in the middle here.

Thanks to Loretta for all she does and to all who participated.

Home sick

Last night I wished I had a live-in boyfriend. Most of the time I don't mind living alone. I like the freedom and the privacy but like anything, it does have it's downside. There's no one to take care of you when you're sick and if you die, it might take days for anyone to find you.

Morbid thought I know, but last night I was pretty sure that would be my fate. For no apparent reason, I became violently ill in the middle of the night and was so dizzy I was about to faint - it was literally going dark. Since I already suffer from an anxiety disorder this completely freaked me out. I was pretty sure I was stroking out or something, so fighting to hold on to consciousness, I stumbled out into the freezing cold in my pajamas and laid down on the front porch for a long time. I don't believe I've ever felt more wretched.

Needless to say I did live, it appears I simply have a bug, but it was quite a humbling experience.

Monday, October 11, 2004
Letting the khat out of the bag

I first heard of this plant about a year ago at the DPA conference. I hadn't really heard much about it since, all the news on African herbs seems to be about ibogaine, so I was surprised to find its use is actually quite pervasive in our Somali communites in the US. I couldn't find the article I was looking for about how it's been intercepted more often at Denver International airport, although I did find some letters to the editor in reponse [scroll down]. In searching I also ran across this item about it's growing popularity in Columbus, Ohio.

I know nothing about the herb myself, having missed that session at the conference, but it seems to be just another harmless, though mildly stimulating herb that the US pharmaceutical corps don't want you to have.
Kerry on medical marijuana

I know a lot of you think it makes no difference whether there's a Republican or a Democrat in the White House and usually you're right. But this election it's not about party affiliation, it about the men and Bush has pushed the war on some drugs into a frenzied vendetta against cannabis, arresting terminally ill people in their wheelchairs for admitting a plant gives them relief that a pharmacuetical medication cannot.

Kerry has publicly taken a different stand and while it's not much, it's sure as hell better than watching Bush continue to waste your tax dollars escalating his attack on our sick citizens.

...Kerry said at a campaign forum last year that his "disposition is personally favorable" to marijuana as medicine, but that he would await further scientific studies before taking a definitive stand. He also criticized mandatory minimum prison sentences for first offenders and called for more drug education and treatment.

I know talk is cheap but at least Kerry is saying the right things, George is definitely not. With Bush you can expect more of the same and worse. With Kerry at least it will be something different. Please consider this when you cast your vote.

[Article permanently archived here]
Hot Date - details

It went very well I thought. It didn't even feel like a real date at all and Chet was happy to hear I didn't want to go the Neil Diamond tribute after all. We stayed at the picnic.

I love going to parties where I don't know anyone but the person I came with. It makes for interesting conversation and I met a lot of the marina crowd that I don't get to meet at Maki and Jamie's parties. I of course immediately forgot everyone's name but I'm clear our host and chef was Ken and I believe his lovely wife is Mary.

The food, and it was indeed done with a Portuguese theme, was fabulous and Ms. TV dinner girl here, ate way too much of it to describe it all. Standouts were definitely the sweet potato chips (made on the spot in a deep fryer from their own homegrown potatoes), the Portuguese pork chops, the kale soup and the undeniably best onion rings I've ever had in my life.

We stayed until well after dark and it was a little cold down there but they had a roaring fire going that kept you warm enough to make it fun to watch the vast expanse of sky go dark. The only down side was that it was overcast so there were no stars.

Chet was the perfect date. He didn't hover around me but made sure I was taken care of and when he drove me home, he was a perfect gentleman and the obligatory goodbye kiss was sweet and respectful. I doubt if we'll ever be a couple but I think we'll probably hang out again.

Warning to Gardeners

I just received this news and although it's from Canada and yet to be proven or disproven, better to err on the side of caution. It's alleged that "both Wal-Mart and the Home Depot are curretnly working with the RCMP to bust marijuana grow ops by selectively flagging certain pieces of equipment, and then having cashiers contact in-house undercover police officers who then follow the buyers to their car and run their plates."

It's said that this scheme has triggered the bust of at least one grow-op providing cannabis for medical marijuana patients.

....but it is exactly what led to the RCMP raid of the VICS production and research facility: according to the particulars in the police arrest record, the purchase of 2 bags of soil, 2 table-top fans and a half wine barrel (which now holds mint on an exterior deck) at a Home Depot was deemed suspicious enough to warrant having the police radio in the license plate and obtain the hydro records of the purchaser.

Pretty innoucous purchases that anyone might make and they used this to justify calling the police. Suggests to me that the clerks based it more on the appearance of the customer. My regular readers know I've been promoting a boycott of Walmart for many years. This is one more very good reason not to shop there.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hot Date

I believe this is first time this year I agreed to go on one (jeez is it October already) and Chet will be here in an hour to take me to a Portuguese picnic on somebody's boat so I'm going to give us all a break from the war on some drugs for a few hours anyway. We're supposed to go see a band afterwards but I am so not in the mood for a crowded loud room. I'm hoping to talk him into bagging that part of the deal. Details to follow....

For your amusement this afternoon, I leave you with the Engrish Photo Gallery.

Pain physicians bring briefing on pain management to Capitol Hill

The Alternet Drug Reporter has another must-read issue this week. Our friends at DRC Net have an excellent article on The Politics of Pain that brings us up to date on the latest in a growing movement of physicians uniting in protest of the DEA's unreasonable vendetta against pain management doctors.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and more than 60 endorsing groups brought a briefing on pain issues to Capitol Hill in September, hosted by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The two of them already made one failed attempt to cut funding for the DEA's vicious persecution program, but their amendment to the appropriations bill was ruled out of order by the Republican majority leader.

Congress has otherwise yet to grapple with this serious problem and our ailing citizens are suffering as a result. Thanks to the efforts of these two Congressmen, this is beginning to change.

One thing the briefing did accomplish, said Serkes, was to show that concern about the crisis in pain treatment is not an issue that belongs to one political party.

"We wanted to show that this is a bipartisan effort, and with Conyers and Paul, people are starting to understand that," she argued. "Our panel was another example. We had people who are very conservative and people on the left. The people on the panel put aside political differences on other issues to work together on this."

Well worth reading in full. And while you're at the site, also check out Steve Fox's brilliant op-ed on why Ricky Williams should not lose his career over cannabis and Jeremy Lott's fascinating interview with Joel Miller on his new book, 'Bad Trip' where he "discusses why anti-drug laws are the terrorist's best friend and what this year's election means for the war against drugs."
Taking prohibition too far

This is really too much. A Russian court banned the sale of Ukrainian ice cream because the flavor names, such as "Your Hemp Dose" and "Poppy Fun," sounded like drugs. The judge ordered a total recall even though the product contained no trace of drugs whatsoever.

Tests revealed no illegal substances in the ice cream, but authorities said "psycholinguistic and narco-psychological research" confirmed the labels could "create and support an interest in narcotic drugs made from hemp and opium poppy," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Psycholinguistic and narco-psychological research? The frightening thing is, it doesn't sound all that different from the DEA's three year court battle to keep hemp food products off our shelves. Thankfully, the outcome here was more palatable.