Thursday, June 30, 2005

Do they have a merit badge for this?

You always hear about the Eagle scouts but the Boy Scout Explorer program was unknown to me until today. It's an interesting program that, according to this New Jersey's troop's website, has been in existence since 1935. It appears to have started to provide a venue for 14 to 20 year olds to gain familiarity with military careers in the Navy and Air Force. That has since been expanded to include law enforcement with many police departments sponsoring a troop.

The police in Easton took their scouts too far into the field using at least two Explorers as undercover snitches at the local high school. Even worse, they didn't tell the police chief of the town the school is located in, or the children's parents. Pretty bizarre idea for a "community service" project don't you think?

The cops that did it have been suspended and were caught by fellow officers who were apparently appalled by the scheme and secretly obtained evidence against them. That's the good news. The bad news is that in defense of endangering these minors - and they solicited the kids to be snitches - one of the cops remarks,
"We didn't say 'You're a kid, go away, we need to talk to your parents.' That's not going to happen."

Even more chilling was this remark made by another officer.
"This is something we do on a daily basis," said Lt. Richard Doyle. "We approached juveniles on the playground seeking information on illegal activities and we don't contact their parents."

So in other words, at any given moment your child could be subjected to a police interrogation in the schoolyard, on any matter, without your knowledge or consent. As if this couldn't be traumatic for a young person. Maybe the police department doesn't have a problem with that, but I certainly do. This is not the sort of "police work" I expect or desire my tax dollars to support.

There are bigger crimes in any town. Leave our kids alone.

[hat tip to JackL]

Baby formula funding terrorists?

Forget about narco-terrorism, evidence acquired over the last four years would suggest that the real black market money financing terrorist cells comes from baby formula. Sad but true. While your government, through the lamebrained ONDCP ad campaign, is busy spending millions trying to convince you that every kid who smokes a joint is putting a bomb in a terrorist's hand, the results of four years worth of federal investigation are being ignored.
In the nearly four years since 9/11, police have uncovered and dismantled a growing number of regional and national theft rings specializing in shoplifted infant formula, over-the-counter medicines, and personal-care products. At least eight of the major baby-formula cases have involved "fences" who are of Middle Eastern descent or who have ties to that region, according to a Monitor review of congressional testimony, news accounts, and a study by the National Retail Federation released Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has traced money from these infant-formula traffickers back to nations where terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, are active, investigators say. Then, the trail usually goes cold. Once funds enter such countries, there's often no way to track them.
Funny they don't have any trouble "identifying" the nexus between drug money and terrorists though, or at least that's how they justify spending billions on eradication efforts. Is that money supposed to be easier to trace than an illegal market for legal goods? Also, unlike the drug trade, officials of all stripes tend to discount the connection.
"Just because you have an infant- formula operation doesn't mean it's a terror funding operation," says Sergeant Jezierski. "We've heard that speculation, but we're not aware of a direct connection," says a spokesperson for a trade association that represents infant formula manufacturers in the United States. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington calls the claims irresponsible.
It makes perfect sense to me that any group wishing to make black market money would be willing to embrace the baby formula market. It's almost as high profit as drugs and there's less law enforcement devoted to this crime. However, whether you believe there's a connection or not, that formula theft is a growing problem for retailers can't be denied.
Although the FBI has also deployed teams nationwide to crack down on organized retail theft, some investigators say the problem is growing - and moving onto the Internet. On Monday, the online auction house eBay carried more than 1,000 offers of Enfamil baby formula. "This problem is getting worse, no question," Miller says. "It is in every state in the union, and neither law enforcement nor the retailers have their arms around it."
Maybe if they weren't spending so much of their resources on persecuting marijuana consumers, the feds would be a little more successful in solving real crimes.

RI Governor vetos MMJ bill

Not surprising but still disappointing that Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri vetoed the medical marijuana bill that passed by an overwhelming margin in both the House and the Senate.
In his veto message, Carcieri said the bill is flawed and could encourage marijuana abuse. "This bill will increase the availability of marijuana on the streets of our state," he said.

The Republican also noted medical marijuana use would remain illegal under federal statues.
Interestingly, Carcieri formed his opinion shortly after receiving a visit from representatives from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. ONDCP claims they didn't ask the governor to veto, they simply pointed out that federal law prohibits medical marijuana use, and reminded him that marijuana has not been proved to be a safe and effective medication. (That is unless it's the pharma profiting Sativex that their former czarina Andrea Barthwell is pushing from K Street).

The legislature has the 3/5ths vote needed to override the veto. One hopes they will continue to show the courage to stand up to the governor and the feds. Meanwhile, why don't you email the Governor and let him know what you think of gutless wonders who cave into the ONDCP propaganda.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Wildlife

Garden excitement of the day was not the nasturtiums. I think I'm giving up on them. But I do have two tomatoes almost the size of golfballs on the newer plant. Meanwhile, my Brandywine is growing taller by the minute and had set out some new flowers way at the top but no signs of vigourous intent to produce fruit. I'm going to try pinching the top from now on. I don't really have a choice. It's already way too tall for the cage as it is.

No signs that my miserable excuse for a spagetti squash vine is going to set fruit either in spite of a long run of blossoming nearly every day. The wierd Italian gourd on the other hand, is thriving and threatens to take over the bottom half of the garden but has only shown two flowers in all these weeks. And through it all the herbs just quietly grow bigger.

Wildlife sighting of the week was the two giant deer at the top of the hill at the family homestead. It was late morning, and they were so big I thought they were horses at first.

The excitement of the day was a 8 foot long limb falling off the tree in front. I didn't see it because I was out back surveying the garden but I heard it crack and then thud when it hit the ground. It was four inches across. I was glad I wasn't standing under the tree when it happened.

Grinspoon on Sativex

I love Lester Grinspoon. Few have done more for drug policy reform than he has over four decades of commitment to cannabis issues and now at age 77, he offers a wise perspective. Thanks to Tim Meehan for passing on the link to this interview at Cannabis Health.

You have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, but the teaser alone is worth reading. Lester's take pretty much mirrors my own except of course he articulates it a lot better.

Over the 38 years during which I have been studying cannabis I have been so impressed by both its very limited toxicity and its versatility as a medicine that I should think that GW Pharmaceuticals would not take umbrage with the description of Sativex as “liquid marijuana”; I would see it as a compliment.

However, I think these folks have undertaken a bold endeavor to make use of the anecdotal data generated by medical marijuana users to create a pharmaceutical product which now requires them to persuade the world that manipulated orange juice is safer, easier to deal with and healthier than whole oranges; and, of course, it’s worth the extra cost.
He goes on to review the necessity for GW to sell the distinction between the pharmacuetical product and the natural plant in order to succeed at making a profit. Andrea Barthwell's role in this part of the scheme doesn't escape Grinspoon's notice either. Read what's there and if you have a spare $45, you can read the rest of the piece.

GOP swing brickbats at Soros

Taking Soros-bashing to a whole new level, the Stakeholder reports that the GOP extreme are threatening harm to Major League Baseball if Soros succeeds, with partner Jonathan Ledecky, in a co-ownership bid for the Washington Nationals.
"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.

Unbecoming conduct for a public official at best, and a blatant abuse of political power at worst. Not to mention completely partisan considering Fred Vincy unearthed a list of Bush Pioneers who own or have owned teams. So what's next, a sleazy midnight amendment to some critical spending bill making it illegal for anyone but Republicans to own sports franchises?

Radley Balko, who pointed us to this story, sums it up the best.
It's despicable. Davis is making a public threat to sanction a private industry for doing business with a political opponent.

I agree with Radley, the guy should be stripped of his chairmanship and perhaps the voters could also reward Davis with front row tickets to the unemployment line at reelection time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

US patients apply for Canadian Sativex

This just in from Americans for Safe Access.

Julie Falco, an MS sufferer who benefits from the medicinal use of marijuana, and her doctor, Dr Anthony Reder, are applying for access to a Canadian-approved medication, Sativex (r), a natural marijuana extract that was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals from specially-bred marijuana plants. Sativex(r) is similar to the tinctures that were sold in the US before 1937 and the process is comparable to products made by patients and their caregivers in states with medical marijuana laws.
"Patients in states that don't have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana need access to a safe and legal form of natural cannabis.

Access to Sativex(r) will provide the pain relief I need without the threat of incarceration that hangs over all us all, " said Julie Falco, whose doctor has applied for Sativex(r) on her behalf. "Illinois passed legislation to create a medical marijuana program under the Cannabis Control Act of 1971, but the current Act only allows the State to act, instead of requiring it to do so. IDEAL Reform is working to amend the Illinois' Cannabis Control Act to mandate that the state implement the program, something that has not happened in the 32 years since the inception of the law.
ASA will be working with other patients and their doctors in completing the application process to make Sativex available to those in need of the medication. While I'm still leery of allowing the pharmas to take over medical marijuana and I hate to see Andrea Barthwell's life made any easier, it's a welcome development for the chronically ill in the US.

[hat tip to Michael Krawitz]

Pharmacists join DEA in war on pain management practices

I missed this last week but the newly uncloaked Michelle Pilecki, formerly known on The Huff blog as Nellie B, catches this item from the annual meeting of the American Medical Association.
CHICAGO, June 20-The American Medical Association's policy-making body voted today to press for state laws that would allow physicians to dispense medications when there is no nearby pharmacist willing to dispense the prescribed drugs.

The new AMA policy is an attempt to overcome what doctors say is a stampede of pharmacists who say they cannot in good conscience dispense certain medications.
Although it's been the pharmacist's refusal to dispense birth control drugs that has received all the attention, it appears the practice of prescription fulfillment based on personal values has grown to encompass pain medications and legal psychotropic drugs commonly prescribed for mental disorders. A matter of no small concern with "14 states already considering legislation aimed at protecting pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions based on religious, personal or moral grounds and nine more states in the process of enacting legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse prescriptions 'for any reason.'"

Astounding. Why bother to train doctors when our legislators are willing to allow the DEA and the pharmacists to dictate best medical practices? This policy trend is not only ill-advised, it's downright dangerous to the public safety. Michelle is right. This should be bigger news.

Days are numbered for Tulia style task forces

With three blogs going, and trying to post original content on each of them, I'm finding it difficult to keep track of where I post what. I'm sure I posted on this at the time Bush proposed it - it's the first time I've agreed with any of his proposals - but I think it may have been at the Detroit News, so this post at Grits for Breakfast is a timely reminder that drug task forces are falling out of favor. It appears even the zealots are noticing they're not getting their money's worth out of these ill-conceived groups. I think Tulia did a lot to bring the focus on just how ineffective and destructive they are.

As Scott notes, it's heartening to see the defunding of these fraud machines receive such bi-partisan support.

Correction - DEA Watch

The trouble with posting from the family homestead is that I'm stealing a few moments to put something up on the blog and don't usually have time to proof it until hours later. So thanks to kaptinemo for pointing out that I misspoke on DEA Watch. It's not a new site at all. They've been spewing that hateful rhetoric over there for years and if you need any more proof about their true motives in the war on some drugs, kaptinemo thoughtfully provides this bit of history from their archives.

As way of background, this was posted shortly after 9/11. "Newly minted DEA chief Asa Hutchinson, in a move which infuriated his underlings, engaged in a debate regarding legalization with then New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson the day before. It was the first and last time a head of an anti-drug organization had ever deigned to do so. Needless to say, Johnson whupped ol' Asa's arse."
12 Sep 2001, 14:09 PST, 5th Edition
"N.M. Gov. Debates Legalizing Drugs with DEA Boss, con't:

Instead of screwing around with Gary Johnson Asa should be making public statements equating community drug dealers with terrorists.
We all know that a good portion of drug money is going to terrorist organizations. Drug dealers and terrorists are one and the same: they both work to undermind our national security. Somebody should tell Asa to leave the debates to ONDCP and start acting like a law enforcement executive. He is missing a good media opportunity to raise the drug war issue. Terrorists and drug dealers are one and the same... or is it only the flower part of the poppy that Afghanistan ships to the U.S.???
As the good kaptin points out, the truly vile part is, "we pay their salaries." Not that anyone ever asked if we wanted to.

Support industrial hemp

I thought this already happened a while ago but I just received a new alert on H.R. 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005. This legislation is the first bill ever to be introduced in Congress to repeal the federal ban on the cultivation of industrial hemp as a commercial crop.

Please take a moment to visit NORML to send your legislators a prewritten message and ask them to support this bill.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Pharmaceutical giant stomps the little guy in Kelo

I've been tied up with family affairs so I'm just now reading the particulars on the Kelo decision. I was pretty outraged in general by the trampling of private rights. I'm appalled that SCOTUS would allow this expansion of eminent domain to stand. It's not dissimilar to the forfeiture laws for drugs. For instance, in this case the property is also guilty of not generating enough income for the state by legal means.

And don't you find it a little contradictory of the Honorable Court to allow the feds to expand their sphere of control over state's rights under the Commerce Clause in Raich, and then turn around and say it's up to the states to regulate within their own borders in this matter. As Judge Thomas said,
"The consequence of today's decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful," he wrote. "So-called 'urban renewal' programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes."
This decision seems to me little more than a defacto forfeiture for the crime of being poor. It shakes the foundation of our society - the assurance that a man should be secure in his own home. Municipal projects are one thing, but how far are we from fascism if the government is allowed to decide which private entity can own property? They do that in third world countries don't they?

The Cato Institute puts it more eloquently.
"With today's decision, no one's property is safe, since any time a government official thinks someone else can make better use of your property than you're doing, he can order it condemned and transferred," Roger Pilon, the group's director of constitutional studies, said in a written statement.
But here is the most infuriating detail of the case. From CNN:
The case pitted the city of New London, Connecticut, against homeowner Susette Kelo and six other families who were trying to keep the municipality from condemning their homes for use as part of a redevelopment project, centered around a $270 million global research facility built by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Figures it would be a pharma corp but it could have been any corporate monolith from insurance to media. Forget fascism. What we need to worry about is corporatism. That being said, Loretta Nall has the last word on the Pfizer angle.

So if you have drugs in your house the government can come and take your house, your kids and put you in jail for those drugs. However, if a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical giant wants your property so they can make drugs there, they are now in the clear to take it. This world has gone absolutely MAD!

A&E, Time Warner partners in prohibition with Drug Free America

I don't know how I got on this mailing list. I must have failed to opt out somehow the one time I visited their website but I get these A&E alerts all the time. I don't usually read them but for some reason, I opened this one today. I'm glad I looked at it before breakfast. This is just sick. Taking a page from the Bush handbook on faking public support, the group is holding a fake "town meeting."

A&E, Time Warner Cable and Partnership for a Drug-Free America® have formed an alliance focusing on intervention and treatment for people suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol. A&E's new documentary series, Intervention, has inspired people all over the country to seek help, for themselves or for a family member. Working with local chapters of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, A&E and Time Warner Cable have teamed to bring you two "Town Hall" meetings - one in Cincinnati and one in Houston. Both meetings will feature a screening of the program Intervention and a panel discussion with interventionists, recovered addicts, and other treatment professionals from the Houston and Cincinnati areas. The Town Halls will be attended by government officials, local treatment professionals, senior high school students, hospital workers and others who will all have the chance to sound off on their own personal experiences with addiction.

It's this sort of propaganda that results in evil and destructive prohibition profiteering programs like Straight, Inc. In fact the whole concept stinks of the Semblers. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they are heavily involved and making money from this.

Consumers and abusers in the war on some drugs

This interesting list of famous opiate addicts arrived this morning via Preston Peet of DrugWar.Com. No great revelations on the artists and musicians but I was a little surprised to see Harry Anslinger, Ben Franklin and Joseph McCarthy on the politicians list.

Preston also posts a link to a DRC Net piece I somehow missed about a new site purportedly put up for ex-DEA agents, although with anonymous posting the only certified ex-agent is the site owner. Nonetheless it provides an enlightening look at the mindset behind our prohibition pushers.

It's like we always said, they don't really want to win the war on drugs because it would put them out of a job.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

True stories of the 70s - Dock Ellis

Here's one for the sports fans. To tell you the truth, although I love baseball, I've never heard of the legendary Dock Ellis before now, but he's an interesting character from baseball history. The Dallas Observer catches up with him, some thirty five years after he threw a no-hitter game while tripping out on LSD and high on other drugs.

It didn't start out well. Dock had been partying with friends. He woke up on this particular morning and dropped some Purple Haze. He wandered into the kitchen and ran into his friend's girlfriend who was reading the morning news.

"Dock," she said. "You're supposed to pitch today."

Ellis focused his mind. No. Friday. He wasn't pitching until Friday. He was sure.

"Baby," she replied. "It is Friday. You slept through Thursday."

He started pumping amphetamines and headed to the stadium. He doesn't remember much of the trip there or the game.

...he recalls is sitting in a taxi, telling the driver to "get to the fucking stadium. I got to play." Next thing, he's sitting in the locker room. 5 p.m. By that point, Ellis had enough experience with LSD to know that it wouldn't be wearing off anytime soon; as a, uh, "precautionary measure," he took somewhere between four and eight amphetamines and drank some water. He walked to the railing at Jack Murphy Stadium where, each time he played in San Diego, a female acquaintance would bring him a handful of Benzedrine. White Crosses. He took a handful of those and went to the bullpen to warm up. After that, it's impressions, mostly.

...What's weird is that sometimes it felt like a balloon. Sometimes it felt like a golf ball. But he could always get it to the plate. Getting it over the plate was another matter entirely. Sometimes he couldn't see the hitter. Sometimes he couldn't see the catcher. But if he could see the hitter, he'd guess where the catcher was.

....Ellis had no idea what the score was, and he knew he'd been wild--he ended with eight walks, one hit batsman and the bases loaded at least twice--but here it was, bottom of the seventh, and he was still in the game.

The hardest part was between innings. He was sure his teammates knew something was up. They had all been acting strange since the game began. Solution: Do not look at teammates. Do not look at scoreboard. Must not make eye contact. His spikes--that's what he concentrated on. Pick up tongue depressor, scrape the mud, repeat. Must. Clean. Spikes.

The story has a happy ending that I won't spoil for you. Read it for yourself.

[hat tip to Vig]

Saturday, June 25, 2005

More herbicide on tap for Colombia

I missed this when it happened. Drug Sense Weekly archives this story on Colombia's request for an extra $150 million to fight coca plants. The US House appropriations subcommittee said no, but they did go on to fund Bush's request for another $463 million for Plan Colombia.

Odd logic here, since they denied the extra funds on the basis it wasn't working. The coca production is only slightly reduced and has mushroomed in alternative locations in South America. So why do they fund the bigger plan that's not working either? Of course, the areas we target do seem to neatly coincide with major pipelines for oil and natural gas. Funny coincidence.

Airport workers busted in Canada

This bust in Ontario gives the Schapelle Corby defense some added credibility. It's a natural assumption that the temptation to make black market money would hit the airline workers harder than most. The opportunites are many and the pay scale for airline workers is not really that great. Not to mention the job security isn't that high either since the industry is so vulnerable to the whims of the economy.

I always thought Rachel seemed too smart to do something so stupid as to attempt to smuggle that much pot so openly. It made much more sense that baggage handlers would have planted it and forgotten to get it at the other end. This Canadian organized the groomers instead, those being the workers that clean the plane between flights, but the scheme is the same with a co-op of sorts formed between two airports.

These guys only got caught on an anonymous tip. Unfortunately for Corby, she just got caught up in the crossfire of an incompetent organization.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Still hanging at the family homestead and having internet issues. I spent running diagnostics and nothing turned up on the computer itself so I finally broke down and installed a Firefox browser. It seems to have helped although it could just be that the cable is working again. Hard to say.

In any event, I like the browser fine and it was so fast to install, I wonder why I waited so long to do it. I just loaded the standard version and it feels and works pretty much like IE. Unfortunately, I now have a lot a to do here and I still won't be able to post until later this evening.

Look for light posting after 9:00.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Silly Pot Tricks

This strikes me as a less than inconspicuous place to grow your herb .
Undercover officers ran across the marijuana plants in South Nashville Friday.

In the 300 block of Brewer Drive, police found numerous marijuana plants growing in a filled-in pool at the back of a house.

Although officers found numerous plants, the marijuana only amounted to 3 or 4 pounds.

The owner says he wasn't going to sell it. It was just for his own personal use.
I assume he only filled the pool partway with soil and hoped the plants wouldn't grow above the top. Still rather silly in this day of pot spotting cops on helicopter joy rides. It doesn't say how he got caught however and I can't find any other reports. I'd love to know.

Update on Rhode Island MMJ legislation

The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 52-10 to approve a bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana, setting up a showdown with Gov. Don Carcieri, who has threatened to veto the measure.
I loved this line.
"I hope the governor realizes that the people of Rhode Island support this bill by over 70 percent," said Rep. Thomas Slater (D-Providence).
Of course, the clueless but loyal Republican Governor is toeing the Bush party line on harassing sick people.
A Carcieri spokesperson replied: "Governor Carcieri and every law-enforcement officer in the state took an oath to uphold the laws of this country and this would place them in an untenable position. Federal law states that marijuana is a banned substance and the Supreme Court recently upheld the primacy of federal law over state law."
I hope the electorate remembers this gutless and inhumane thwarting of the public will when reelection time rolls around.

The Sativex scam

The Vancouver Sun posted a Sativex commercial the other day disguised as a news article making the ridiculous claim that the product doesn't get you high. I've heard exactly the opposite through the grapevine. The Sun story opens with this claim.
Evelyn Bruce has tried smoking marijuana and she's also had it in synthetic, liquid form, but now the 60-year-old Fraser Valley woman is happy to have a new option to reduce the pain plaguing the multiple sclerosis sufferer: a peppermint-flavoured mouth spray containing pulverized marijuana.
It contains THC, pulverized marijuana, come on - of course it gets you high. It's just a different high from smoking it. It's like eating a brownie. But what really strikes me about the article is this.
The spray, which costs $124.95 per vial (51 sprays per vial) numbs the pain but not the brain.
You're supposed to use it five times a day. That's a lot more expensive a delivery system than growing a few plants on your own. It's not an issue in Canada with socialized medicine, but the uninsured in the US couldn't even afford it.

It's an obvious plan by the pharma corps to make money by demonizing the natural plant and suggesting their chemically refined medicine is somehow more pure. Note this language.
Marketed in Canada by Bayer HealthCare, it was pioneered and is manufactured in England by GW Pharmaceuticals, which had the mandate to develop a non-smoked cannabis-based prescription medicine. The spray is made from a purified plant species called Cannabis sativa L.
Are they joking? Sativa has been around forever. What they're saying is they developed a strain of C.Sativa that breeds consistent levels of THC and they're turning it into the pharmaceutical equivalent of hash oil. Put it a bottle with a fancy government certified label and the pharmas make a ton of money while the consumers who gave cannabis credibility as a medicine in the first place, will still be going to jail if they prefer to grow their own strains.

I'll be glad if sick people get some relief from this product, but this is still a threat to policy reform.

Delayed Posting

I'm tied up with family stuff and the cable is having problems up here so posting is likely to be delayed until this evening. Funny thing, I'm only about three miles from my house but we have totally different utility problems, not to mention completely different microclimates. The weather is also significantly different as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Prohibition kills

I'm late in getting to this sad story. Loretta Nall points us to more tragic deaths effectively caused by prohibition. A household is busted for alleged being a drug dealing center. No drugs were found at the scene, however in the course of the bust, three officers were killed.

The defendant claims self-defense saying the cops were on the take and demanding protection money and that the bust went down when the defendant stopped paying. Without knowing the details of the case, it's hard to say whether the cops were dirty or not but judging from reaction in the gallery at trial, the defendant's supporters were backing up his story. One thing however is clear. If not for prohibition, the cops would still be alive and able to protect the public from more serious crimes than some small time drug operation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Body's own cannabinoids crucial to pain relief

Well I'm not sure if this is good news or bad. I like that they're finding the cannabis based medicines valid as a treatment for pain relief; but I'm not that keen that they're using the research to develop yet more pharmaceuticals that they intend to use as a wedge to keep the plant illegal.

A new study shows, for the first time, that the release of the body's own marijuana-like compounds is crucial to stress-induced analgesia – the body's way of initially shielding pain after a serious injury.

The work, led by scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of California, Irvine, may yield a target for new drug therapies that will completely bypass the current arguments over the use of medical marijuana. In theory, the new research makes it possible to design a pill that will have the same pain relieving effects as smoked marijuana, but through an indirect mechanism that could also reduce unwanted psychoactive side effects and not have the same political baggage.

"There is no prescription or over the counter drug that allows us to manipulate the level of the brain's marijuana-like compounds," said Andrea Hohmann, a neuroscientist in the department of psychology at the University of Georgia and co-author of the paper. "This is the first time anyone has shown that one of the body's naturally occurring cannabinoids, a compound known as 2-AG, has anything to do with pain regulation under natural conditions."

The study was published today in the journal Nature.

A drug derived from the new research would likely be more effective and specific than smoked marijuana, said Hohmann.
So this is the new propaganda. It's only good if the pharmas can make obscene profits on it. Hardly what we envisioned as a free market cannabis economy.

Medical Marijuana - The persecution builds

And so it begins. So much for the government's claim that they don't target sick people.
Federal drug agents launched a wide-ranging crackdown on medical marijuana providers Wednesday, charging a husband and wife in Sacramento and raiding more than 20 San Francisco dispensaries.
What jerks. They claim it has nothing to do with the Raich deicision but this remark is telling.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown in Sacramento said the Supreme Court ruling "lays to rest any question whether federal authorities have jurisdiction."
And of course the DEA claims they were just pretending to be medmar providers.
"They were taking their (medical) clients and turning them into their customer base" for illegal marijuana sales, [DEA agent] Taylor said.
Right. Why don't these guys get off their butts and do some real police work for a change? Over and above the inhumanity of harassing sick people, what really bugs me is how lazy it is to be taking easy hits against marijuana providers at the expense of serious crimes.

Small tales

Yard work today so I'm late in posting. I spent four hours cleaning up the fallen debris from the trees and taking care of the garden, but this time I got the whole yard done at once. I've been moving a little slow since then. It was hot in the sun. Fortunately, with so many trees that wasn't much of an issue but I still worked up a pretty good sweat. Of course I no sooner finished watering the garden than the clouds rolled in.

I figured it would rain and bring down more branches so I was really wishing Ortega had called about mowing the lawn. I guess I wished hard enough because he pulled into the driveway as I getting out of the shower. The sun came back out when he was done. Outside of a weird and brief shower - in the brilliant sun, without a cloud in the sky - it never did rain.

The yard looks even better this time because the I have the plants growing this time. The window boxes are thriving, I'll have to put up string up for the morning glories before the end of the week and my planter filled out nicely with the addition of the impatiens. They must be compatible with the salivia because I had about written that off and suddenly it's sending up new flowers. I love the color of these impatiens as well. They're a really nice shade of pink edged with a darker hue. Never saw a color like this, I swear they glow.

The garden is a bit less of success story. I'm beginning to think of it as less of a garden and more of a giant wildlife feeder. Michael will be thrilled to know he's winning the bean contest. It appears the deer have a taste for bean plants as well as strawberry leaves. They wiped out my two little rows and so far only one lonely little nasturtium has popped up. I have a feeling the deer will eat those as well. The other stuff however, is growing well considering how little sun it actually gets back there. The plants are tall but not full. In any event it's fun to watch it growing even if I never actually harvest anything from it.

No exciting bird stories to report. The two little wrens visit most every day and pick through the spider's stash of bugs. The cardinals do as well, usually at different times but the male arrived with the wrens yesterday. He actually hopped into the window well and looked through the glass at me. There was also a huge crow fight the other day. They were putting up a huge ruckus but I couldn't see what it about. They were on the other side of the neighbor's house.

Oddly the insects have been more interesting. I saw the weirdest dragonfly today. He had two sets of little wings and he was absolutely psychedelic. I mean dayglo stripes of color, red and yellow and blue. He flew around me for a minute and then he landed on the ground. I didn't notice at first that he had landed on a green caterpillar of some kind. It was bigger than he was. I figured it out when he started dragging it away. No way he was going to take off with it. Last I saw him, he was dragging it through the grass.

The other delight has been the lightning bugs. They come out at dusk here and they fill all the yards in the hood. I can watch from the door, my preferred method because they are really big here and it feels like being in the Meadows in Noho. It's like a little fairyland of blinking lights. And once in a while, an especially big guy will streak across the night like a comet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Vaporizer technology threatens pharma profits

This is old news to me. I've seen these vaporizers being used for years now, but they just seem to be hitting the commercial market.
The Bay Area has apparently become the hub of the vaporization movement - from a just-completed UC-San Francisco study on the technology's effectiveness to Alameda County officials' plans to allow the devices in new marijuana dispensaries.

More than a dozen manufacturers have sprung up to churn out the devices.
Prohibitionists of course are unhappy since the vaporizer blows one of their big arguments against natural marijuana out of the water - that being the dangers of delivery via smoking the herb.
By heating marijuana to a point where vapors are formed but before combustion, a vaporizer is free of many of the toxins found in marijuana smoke, advocates say.
In fact they appear to be a bit threatened by the prospect of a safe delivery system that doesn't require expensive pharmaceutical intervention. A trend like this could definitely cut into the profits of former ONDCP czarina, Andrea Barthwell's new employer Bayer, who is pushing for FDA approval of Sativex.
Until an application ... is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, marijuana will continue to be classified as a Schedule I (illegal) drug," sniffed Jennifer Devallance, spokeswoman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Which will of course happen when hell freezes over, if the prohibition profiteers at ONDCP have anything to do with it.

Conflicting statistics in West Virginia

This goes to show how meaningless the government's SAMHSA reports are. Take these statistics.
On average 3.5 percent of West Virginians surveyed from 1999 to 2001 said they had used marijuana in the last month, compared to about five percent nationally.

The report also shows that about one-point-four percent of West Virginians said they tried the drug for the first time in a given year, which is slightly less than the national average of 1.6 percent.
That makes sense so far. But then there's this little gem.
About 49 percent of state respondents said they were at great risk of smoking marijuana once a month, which is higher than the national average of about 43 percent.
Now what does that mean, at great risk of smoking marijuana? Someone is going to make them do it? They won't be able to stop themselves if they see some? And if the reported use is lower than average, how can the risk of smoking be higher? Sounds to me like the interviewees just didn't want to tell some stranger how often they really smoke, or maybe they only interviewed kids in front of their parents.

Self-reporting use of an illegal substance to the government doesn't seem the best way to collect this data somehow. I wonder how many of our tax dollars were spent on this little piece of science fiction?

RI Governor plans to ignore the public will on MMJ

Rhode Island is forging ahead on medical marijuana legislation. Following the State Senate vote that passed a measure protecting medical marijuana users from prosecution by 34-2, the state's House of Representatives is expected to take up a similar measure today. It may all be for naught. The out of touch governor of the state, Don Carcieri has said he plans to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Unsurprisingly, he's a Republican. So much for the will of the people.

Did you know?

We all get these internet jokes so I rarely pass them on, but this one had some interesting items that seem worth sharing. I didn't know any of these.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A snail can sleep for three years.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

And this last one disturbs me.
There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.

I mean, why not? How come Betty doesn't rate?

[hat tip to Stania]

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sativex goes retail in Canada

Well it's official. Count on more US prohibitionists to be leaping onto to this gravy train as Andrea Barthwell has already done.
GW is pleased to announce that, following the receipt of regulatory approval from Health Canada, Sativex is now available by prescription through Canadian pharmacies as an adjunctive treatment for symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in adults with multiple sclerosis (MS). In April 2005, Canada became the first country in the world to approve Sativex, an effective and safe cannabis derived prescription medicine.
The key word is prescription and define that as profitable for pharma corps - the same corporations that underwrite NGOs like Drug Free America, who tell you that the natural plant is dangerous because it's not chemically refined into "controlled doses." They're careful to make that distinction in the press release.
Sativex is a pharmaceutical product standardised in composition, formulation, and dose.
As if you can't control how much you smoke or ingest in other ways on your own and also as if Sativex can't be "abused" by taking more than the prescribed amount. It's the same compounds, no matter how you administer the medicine, the only difference is since cannabis is essentially a weed that can be grown almost anywhere, unless they keep the plant illegal, they can't make obscene amounts of money on the pharmaceutical product.

Keep that in mind the next time Drug Free America tries to sell you propaganda based on "protecting our children" when what they really mean is "protecting our profits."

Texas takes a step back from reform

A sad day for criminal justice reform in Texas. Scott at Grits for Breakfast reports Governor Rick Perry dealt a devastating blow to sensible policy with vetoes to three key pieces of legislation. Perry shot down stronger probation, documented consent to search at traffic stops, and enforcing the right to counsel. He did however appoint a "blue ribbon panel" to study the problem.

What an idiot. The problem is well documented and the solution was in his hands but like any good Bible thumping Texas neo-con, he chose to delay implementing it, in favor of insulating himself by passing the buck to a powerless political committee.

Scott has the details.

Time to talk about recreational use

The Lancet has an good editorial on illegal drug use. [free reg req] Here's the money quote.
The Lancet does not endorse illegal drug use, but we believe that the cloak of secrecy shrouding those who use illicit substances is the most destructive feature by far of the cultural condemnation of recreational drug use. Discussions framed by moralising or by adherence to social ideals have little utility in a society of which drug use is an inescapable part.

Without open debate, we cannot know the true extent of the problem. Without open debate, there can be no accurate quantification of the risk of harm. And without open debate, doctors remain starved of the knowledge necessary to cope with the acute and long-term effects of drug use.
Well said.

[hat tip to Doug McVay]

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Don't they have something better to do?

Lawmakers around the country are going bonkers over this new hemp flavored lollipop. It's perfectly legal, it doesn't get you high and frankly it doesn't sound like it would necessarily even taste that good. In fact, if these leglislators didn't make such a big deal about it, most kids probably wouldn't even notice they were on the shelf and would opt out for the Sweet Tarts instead.

Instead, the "Hysterics" are madly trying to figure out how to get them off the shelves. Of course, it can't really be done since they're a legal product. However, there has been some success in getting convenience stores to drop the pops via political pressure - no doubt setting up a black market for the sweets among the tots who want to know what all the fuss is about. As has been the case for time immemorial, if grown-ups don't want you to have it, you definitely want to get some. This apparently hasn't occurred to these "grown-ups."
The City Council in Douglasville recently passed a resolution voicing its opposition to the candies. "This is nowhere near something we want for our kids," said Mayor pro-tem Henry Mitchell III, who sponsored the resolution after hearing complaints from constituents.
So duh, dare I suggest they don't buy any for their kid and leave the product to succeed or fail on its market demand. Meanwhile, perhaps the City Council could spend their time on the taxpayer's dime taking up issues of more importance to the community.

Zero tolerance causes abuse

The quote of the day comes from this Globe and Mail piece on teenage drinking. This is one effect of the "success" of the drug war. Convince the kids that marijuana is really dangerous but ignore the much more harmful effects of binge drinking. So what happens? Cannabis consumption drops slightly but alcohol abuse skyrockets.

Judith Timson offers a clear eyed view of the adolescent scene through her experiences with her own daughter. This is the money quote.
Dr. Wolfe is not a big fan of zero tolerance and neither am I. The policy results in a situation, he says, in which "there's no safe place for them to experiment." Zero tolerance doesn't teach kids to drink responsibly.
To preach zero tolerance in fact is to be in denial of reality. The only thing the kids learn is how to get away with foolish experimentation and it fosters a sense of recklessness that would be missing in a controlled and accepting environment.

Happy Father's Day

I know my Dad reads this blog and since I didn't manage to get the card I bought three weeks ago into the mail - and it was a good one Daddy - let me wish the best man in my life a very happy day. Sorry I can't be there, but I'm with you in spirit every day and your influence colors everything I do in my adult life.

You taught me to pay attention to what's going on around me, to stand up for what I believe in, to be kind to strangers, to give what I can to those less fortunate and to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Most importantly, you gave me unconditional love and an acceptance without judgment of my choices, even when they weren't so well-conceived. I believed I could do anything because you believed in me.

Even today as a grown woman, I still often feel like Daddy's little girl and find comfort in knowing you will always be there for me. And even though I'm now the taller one, I will always look up to you and be proud to say - Hey, that's my Dad.

I love you Daddy. You are and always have been, the best.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Thirty seven cents worth of therapy

For your weekend amusement, Post Secretis an ongoing community art project where people mail-in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. Some are pretty graphic and/or sad but many are beautiful and inspiring.

Worth a look if you're interested in the human condition. It kind of makes you feel like taking out the art supplies yourself. Come on, everyone has at least one secret.

Hmm, must have got from the door handle on the way in...

This is hilarious. A high tech drug-testing machine that is so sensitive everybody tests positive, including the two Welsh MPs who were demonstrating it for their colleagues.

Should do wonders for the court cases of the people caught in this sweep - one of the more outrageous police actions I've hear of by the way. I can't believe it was even legal.

Can't stop - living like a (reefer) refuge

The big pot persecution story of the week is about Renee Boje, a US political refugee who has been living in Canada while seeking asylum from our unjust marijuana laws. This is a big case that predates my active involvement in the reform movement, so I don't much about it.

From what I gather, she got caught up in the famous bust of medical marijuana growers Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick. This was one of the earliest medmar busts that tested federal versus California law. They had a lot of plants, thousands of them as they were planning to provide for other patients and McCormick was writing a book on cultivation. Both men were medical users who were denied use of their medicine after the bust.

McWilliams died, having choked to death on his own vomit without the anti-nausea relief of cannabis. McCormick spent five years in jail, suffering great pain without his. Boje meanwhile, was a bit player in this set piece. She was doing illustrations for the book, and my sources tell me she at one point watered some droopy plants. She was clearly not involved in any major capacity.

The charges against her were initially dropped, but her lawyer informed her the government was about to resurrect them and advised her to flee the country, which she did. She built a life for herself in Canada, by all accounts a good citizen who married and has a Canadian son. Her refuge status has been in limbo for years but suddenly, on the heels of Raich, her deportation to the US to face these old charges is imminent.

Currently released on bail awaiting appeal of the deportation order, she is at the mercy of the prohibitionists, who if successful will condemn her to a reported ten years to life prison sentence and even worse exile from her family who wouldn't be allowed to cross the border because of the current regulations prohibiting travel to those with (or in this case associated with) marijuana violations.

The case presents a huge injustice and is a matter our government should not be wasting tax dollars to pursue. In a rational world, the US would tell Canada they had no interest in extraditing and leave Boje to live in peace. Unfortunately these are not rational times.

There's a lot of press if you wish to learn more. Starting with an interview on her pending deportation, an archive of press clippings at Media Awareness Project including an article in Glamour magazine and a pdf of the decision in her case. Current coverage also in this article from Cannabis Culture.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Business as usual in Oregon

This is good news. Oregon is resuming its medical marijuana registry program with the caveat that the card will not protect the patient from federal prosecution. Heck, that was true before Raich as well.

The persecution begins

I blogged about Pierre Werner of Las Vegas here many weeks ago. Pierre is a licensed medical marijuana patient for a bi-polar disorder. As would be normal for someone in his condition, he set up an elaborate and productive system to grow his own medicine and to provide for other patients. He's been operating in the open for a very long time and has received significant press. He was also trying to get a license to open a medical marijuana cafe.

Interesting timing that suddenly, only days after Raich was decided, that he would be busted and touted as a huge drug dealer.

Ten pounds of processed pot and 121 plants - no saying what stage of growth they were in, is not a major interstate dealer. Here is a guy who can provide maybe a dozen other people with enough cannabis to get medical relief.

This was a local bust, not federal, but it's clear the cops are pissed about the public acceptance of cannabis use and have been emboldened by the Supreme Court decision to harass non-violent sick people who use the herb for relief, not fun.
I mean really, wouldn't you think there are worse crimes going on in Vegas than smoking a joint?

But wait, did I say it wasn't federal? On further investigation, it appears the DEA is behind the bust. Unsurprising.

Statistic of the day

Boston and Boulder lead the country in cannabis consumption.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Time for reform is now

The Washington Examiner has a good editiorial, Congress should amend drug laws. Excerpts:
Last Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows federal prosecutors to go after sick people who smoke marijuana for pain relief is just the latest in an outrageous pattern of criminalizing medicine that has dire, long-term consequences for every American.

As an Examiner editorial noted last month, prosecutors are already targeting pain doctors who prescribe higher doses of legal medications than federal bureaucrats think is wise, even if the doses fall within the parameters of modern medical care. With government agents looking over their shoulders, several top pain physicians told us, many doctors are increasingly reluctant to prescribe enough medication to patients suffering from chronic, intractable pain. Indeed, half of those surveyed in a recent ABC News/USA Today/Stanford University Medical Center poll said that current doses of prescription drugs do not alleviate their pain.

...The failed Prohibition of the 1920s started with the best of intentions: to protect people from heavy drinking that could ruin their lives. Unfortunately, enforcement of Prohibition laws ruined many lives - and didn't stop people from drinking. Our failed drug prohibition is essentially doing the same thing, with equally dismal results.

...Anti-drug groups applaud the latest ruling, pointing out that marijuana is a dangerous drug with serious side-effects. True, but the same can also be said about cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis or any other painful disease whose sufferers sometimes turn to pot as their last resort. They should have the right to make that decision themselves.

...Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the misguided majority, noted that Congress could amend federal law to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes only. That would be the decent and humanitarian thing to do.
They lose me with this paragraph though. I assume it's meant to be ironic, but it's not clear.
Studies show higher increases in overall marijuana use in states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives. The solution is to go after the estimated 15 million people who smoke marijuana for recreation, not the sick people these laws were intended to help.
Which brings up another point often missed in the arguments. If marijuana really did cause psychosis, wouldn't that mean there are 15 million psychotics out there?

Medmar on the radar

WaPo covers the vote on the amendment. They quote our "favorite" prohibition profiteer.
"Marijuana has never been proven as safe and effective for any disease," said Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind. "Marijuana can increase the risk of serious mental health problems, and in teens, marijuana use can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, and schizophrenia."
Right Mark. I think he has that confused with Prozac and other prescription psychotropic drugs that are routinely over-prescribed to children. Those have actually been proven to cause those symptoms in children as well as adults.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif observes the problem in Congress is elementary. "A lot of these guys voting against it are just afraid because it's a 'drug issue,'" he said.

State of state medmar legislation

Good article in USA Today on the current status of medical marijuana legislation on the state level. The Raich decision is having a mixed impact on state bills. Minnesota and Alabama proponents think it may dampen local enthusiam for passage while in New Mexico and Wisconsin, legislators note that the public is still behind allowing sick people to have their medicine and the decision has no more or less impact on the current efforts than it the law did before.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment Vote Results

This just in from the Media Awareness Project.

The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment received 161 votes for, 264 against. When voted on last, the amendment had 148 votes. The vote today is a gain of 13 votes.

Voting for: 15 Republicans, 145 Democrats and 1 Independent.

This is a better gain than was expected. MPP was predicting only a 10 vote increase so clearly, we are making progress and the issue will come up again. We only need to swing another 50 or so votes to win next time.

I join MAP in thanking you all for contacting your congresscritters to urge their vote to stop the federal government from arresting medical cannabis patients in those states where the use of medical cannabis is authorized by law. Keep their contact info handy as you'll need it again. This fight is far from over.

Update: Drug Policy Alliance has an action center up where you can find out how your Congresscreature voted and either thank or spank them.

Marijuana Policy Project also sends out a release that says in part,
"While we're disappointed that the amendment did not pass, a record 161 House members voted today to stop arresting medical marijuana patients," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "There have been only four House floor votes on medical marijuana in the history of the country, and this one was our best ever.

..."The next step is to pass the medical marijuana bills pending in New York and Rhode Island, enact medical marijuana laws in several other states early next year, and then win on Capitol Hill next summer when the House votes on medical marijuana again," said Kampia. "The momentum is clearly on our side, and we'll keep fighting until Congress listens to the American people and ends this cruel and needless war on the sick."
We did good folks, but in the immortal words of my favorite sage, Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Medical marijuana by the numbers

I'm not one that puts much stock in polls but this is one I believe judging by the immediate and almost universal condemnation of the Raich decision. 65% of Americans say adults should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor recommends it; only one in five says it should be illegal.

The public is clearly behind it, where are the politicians?

Get up, Stand Up... - Bob Marley

Ben Harris checks in with another Raich inspired rant but he's looking beyond medical marijuana to the crux of the legalization argument. He says in part,
Marijuana needs to be decriminalized, not just for those medical users, but for recreational users as well. ...We should not be looking at pot as a parallel to morphine, but as a parallel to alcohol and tobacco.

...All of the marijuana users that I know are recreational users. We talk about cancer patients getting hauled away for growing a few plants. That, admittedly, is a travesty. However, in the grand scheme of things, they are but a drop in the ocean of marijuana arrests. Most users and dealers arrested are not using or providing pot for medical use. That's the truth.

...It all boils down to this. If we, as individuals, as a group can make our voices heard, things will change. We are the people who work nine to five, getting overtime when we can. We, while individually pay relatively small amounts of tax, make up the tax base of this country. We cast the votes. Maybe it is time to start electing not on the value of a name and seniority, but for a person's values and integrity.

Not the head of a Fortune 500 company, whose first thought is money; but the president of a company who employs thirty people. Who does right by his people and his customers, because his personal integrity is on the line. We, as citizens, are those customers. We should expect more, and in many ways, less of our government.
A good point and one I try to make often myself. If you want change, you have to participate in the process and make them yourself. Change can only bubble up from below because those in power, profit too much from the prohibition to allow to lapse. As Ben ends his email, "It comes down the common man, as it usually does in the end."

Raich residuals

I almost forgot to post links to my other "hometown" newspaper, the Detroit News who put up some amazing coverage. Their editorial on the decision, Medical pot ruling tramples states' rights - justices reinforce government's misguided war on marijuana, was right on the money.
Principle and compassion went out the door in the Supreme Court ruling that the federal government has the right to ignore state law governing medical marijuana use.

...In doing so, the court sanctions the irrational fervor with which the federal government is pressing its campaign against marijuana, even absent compelling evidence that the harm from pot is any worse than that caused by alcohol or tobacco.

At the same time, the justices reinforce that the drug war is a compelling reason for the federal government to intrude on areas of the law that are constitutionally reserved for the states.

...Still, taxpayers spend nearly $8 billion annually to combat marijuana. And now the Supreme Court has stretched the Constitution to its limits to allow the federal government to thwart the will of the states regarding medical marijuana use.

The justices, with this ruling, risk denying suffering Americans relief and open the door to unlimited federal intrusion on state matters.
And that was just the beginning. They also posted excerpts from other sources, along with a fabulous photo of Angel with some juicy buds. Then they followed up with this stellar editorial about the war on some drugs by editorial page editor Nolan Finley, End marijuana hypocrisy to save nation billions. I can't even pick a favorite quote.
Faced with two bad choices, I'd druther kids celebrate their 21st birthdays with a bag of pot than by pouring 21 shots of cheap liquor down their gullets.

...Marijuana has its own set of negatives, but it is rarely directly connected to a teen death.

And yet we treat marijuana as public enemy No. 1 when it comes to children. At the same time, we welcome a stream of beer commercials into our homes and don't blink when liquor companies sponsor spring break blowouts.

...We should save our money. Teen pot use is as cyclical as the auto industry. Some decades it goes up, some it goes down, with no correlation to spending on anti-drug programs.

...Despite spending $35 billion a year to battle illegal narcotics, drug use here is about the same as in the European countries with more liberal drug laws. But still we fight on...

..The ruling fits the national ideology that in the name of the drug war, the Constitution can be tossed on the garbage heap.

...The war against pot is lost.

Surrendering isn't a defeat. It simply ends our national hypocrisy and leaves more money for more pressing battles.
You'll have to pick your own. I'll have to send him a thank you note for this one.

Sex and drugs...

I told you about the pot. It appears the sex is good there too - at least if you're king. But maybe not as good as in Serbia. No word on whether they have any rock and roll.

[links via The Raw Story]

Monday, June 13, 2005

A little country with a king sized drug war failure

If it wasn't so pathetic, this would be almost funny. Swaziland, a tiny African country the size of New Jersey has a jumbo size marijuana industry. Cannabis, or as the locals call it - dagga - forms an important part of the economy, providing a source of income for an estimated 70% of the impoverished indigenous farmers. "A handful of drug lords buy and sell Swaziland's marijuana -- the world's most popular illegal drug -- but most of the growing is done by subsistence farmers desperate for cash after four years of drought and hefty job cuts."

The Swazi government has been imitating US style war on some drugs policies and sends out patrols armed with guns and gallons of herbicide."It is everywhere. At every stream or river the banks are full of dagga," said [anti-drug warrior] Hoare, decked out in waterproof overalls with a spray gun in his hand. And it's apparently really good herb.
Swazi marijuana, which is said to be more potent due to the soil and weather conditions, fetches a handsome premium. On the streets of Johannesburg, 'Swazi Gold' is sold in 30 gram (1 once) bank bags, or 'bankies', for 70 rand ($11) apiece, while Amsterdam coffee shops -- where smoking marijuana is legal -- charge around 6 euros ($7.5) for one gram.
Once again, as with coca and poppies, you'll note that the farmers are not the ones in the supply chain making the money on the plant. And like the coca plant for indigenous Colombians, dagga has a long history of traditional medicinal and spiritual use among the Swazi people. In any event, it's unlikely the farmers will switch to other crops when dagga provides the best return for their efforts.

"We can't win this war," said Ngwane Dlamini, head of criminal investigation in the northern region of Hhohho. And neither will the US win theirs. It simply can't be done.

More Raich reactions

A couple of good LTEs on the Raich decision and the war on marijuana consumers in today's Louisville Courier-Journal.

Excellent column in the Boston Globe by Cathy Young who is also a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Here's the money graf.
This isn't a conservative-versus-liberal, Republican-versus-Democrat issue: Both parties are drug war parties. (It was the Clinton administration in the 1990s that decided to use federal authority to thwart new state laws legalizing medical marijuana: In 1996, Clinton approved a plan to subject doctors who prescribe the drug to federal prosecution.) It's hard to tell which side is more guilty of hypocrisy. What happened to the conservatives' commitment to the principles of states' rights and limited government? What happened to liberals' concern for the rights of defendants and to the right to privacy?
Good questions. It's high time our representatives answered them.

Medmar proponents press the issue

Newsday has this piece on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. (In case you've somehow missed the coverage, the amendment, which is to be attached to a spending bill Tuesday, " would bar federal authorities from making arrests in such cases."

The prohibition profiteers, led as always by the reprehensible Rep. Mark Souder, are in a state of panic judging from the skewed logic of their rhetoric.
Joseph Califano, chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, derided Hinchey's effort as political interference with medicine. "This is the drug version of the Terri Schiavo case. This is Congress legislating medical practice and it makes no sense," said Califano, referring to the intense legal and legislative battle that erupted earlier this year over a court decision to remove the Florida woman's feeding tube.
Um - right-o Joe. Preventing the wrongful arrest of thousands of terminally ill and chronic pain patients is exactly like stopping the entire business of the country and calling the Congress in from recess to vote on a law tailored to keep one brain-dead woman on life support. And perhaps Califano hasn't heard that the DEA set the goal posts on interference when it decided it's more qualified than the medical professionals to decide just exactly how much legally prescribed pain medicine is appropriate to dispense to the chronically ill. And I'm sure Califano's statement has nothing to do with the fact that his entire livelihood depends on prohibition remaining in full force and effect.

Califano and the rest of the professional prohibitionists like drug czar John Walters were quick to pronounce the drug policy reform movement DOA after the Supreme Court's ruling. Maybe someone should tell them it's foolish to underestimate their opponents. Nah - let them find out for themselves. We've only just begun to fight.

Action Alert - Immediate Action required

Call your Congressman this hot minute. Word has it that Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment is up for a vote tomorrow. If you can't call for some reason, at least sign and send the letter at Drug Policy Alliance and/or at DRC Net right now. Every voice matters.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It was another long day and I'm just whipped from no sleep and all the excitement over the latest revelations on the Downing Street If you're not already reading my political blogs, check them to see what's going on. This could the end of the road for the Bush regime.

At the moment however, I need sleep so I leave you with the latest on the gardening in a grow zone. It's like living in the cloud forest here. It's sort of tropical alpine and everything is growing at an alarming rate.

The morning glories are definite plants and will show true leaves by Wednesday at the latest. I can't decide if I should thin them. The beans are coming up in the garden. No sign of the nasturtiums yet but I planted them directly in the clay on the theory I'll get more flowers in poorer soil. They have to work harder to break through and I see some cracking so I have pretty high hopes for them yet.

The Brandywine tomato meanwhile keeps getting taller but not fuller. I'm thinking I should pinch the top once it grows over the cage, which is imminent already. Any advice on that from the gardeners?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Say Hi

Welcome to Radical Russ whose blog has been around a long time but is new to me. He's running a one-man political action center on his very jazzy site and writes in a style that makes The Impolitic look like Emily Post. Hours of reading fun to be had there. Check it out.

Oh, and thanks for the kind offer on the CSS instruction Russ. I'll give it a try if you can make it simple enough for a techno-simpleton.

Attack of the killer moths

This story is making the rounds. After five years of poisoning the Amazon water basin with herbicide has failed to stem the cultivation of coca, the "brilliant" minds of the prohibition have come up with a new proposal. Release a plague of caterpillars.

Critics of the plan point out the obvious - the high probability of ecological disaster if the moths decide they like some of the other plants in the most diverse ecosphere on the planet, better. It ranks right up there with the "genius" who proposed to unleash a dangerous fungus in the area.

I guess in the long run it might work though. If they destroy the lungs of our planet in their quest contain coca, there won't be anyone left alive to use the drugs.

Little know facts about well know people

This is interesting. I didn't know he had experimented with it. Cary Grant's thoughts about LSD.

One year for one gram?

This is beyond belief. HEMP NB Medical Marijuana store in Saint John New Brunswick has been providing medical marijuana to Canadian patients for years now. They have a stringent application process that law enforcement authorities tried unsuccessfully to crack for many, many months. In all that time they could only find one instance of a patient reselling the herb to non-certified consumers, and that was a 15 year old kid who was granted a special exemption on account of his medical condition in the first place.

The cops finally caught a break recently when the owners were occupied with a wedding and an inexperience employee allowed a bogus doctor's referral to get through. The cop successfully bought one gram of cannabis - enough for at most, a couple of joints. As a result, a judge just sentenced proprietor Lyn Wood - a mother of three and seven months pregnant - to one year in jail. What purpose does this serve?
You can write to Lynn in jail at:

Lynn Wood, Saint John Correctional Centre,
930 Old Black River Rd.,
Saint John, New Brunswick E2J 4T3

Send her a card and thank her for her bravery in pursuing drug policy reform.

Rockefeller himself would have wanted reform

Drug Sense Weekly is chock full of the latest news as always but my favorite entry this week is a a letter from 37 Rockefeller descendants who speak out against the so called "Rockefeller Laws" in NY state.

Retailers say legalization is good business

DRC Net's newsletter has a great item on legalization support from unlikely quarters. Inspired by the recent report endorsed by Milton Friedman and 500 other economists, released results from an informal membership poll indicating 72% of the retailers support the legalization of marijuana.

It simply makes good business sense as the accompanying report by Eric Sterling details. Sterling takes on the big picture and is right on as to the economic impact of prohibition on the rest of the legal business community and analyzes the social impact to society that inevitably impacts the business climate. Here's representative quote.
America's $50 billion per year retail drug business is the nation's greatest employer of killers and psychopaths. Drug prohibition assures that they are fully employed, well-armed, and standing on street corners throughout the nation.
The full pdf is available at the end of the DRC item. A pleasant read.

Friday, June 10, 2005

How does my garden grow

Another long day for me and the inbox is too full to deal with tonight so I'll give you the garden news. Big excitement of the week was finally locating a couple of tomato cages. My poor Brandywine got so long and skinny that it broke its stake in the last thunderstorm and got pretty beat up. I'm happy to report however that she's come back again and looks happy enough in her new home. I bought a second plant to hedge my bets though.

The garden is looking pretty good altogether since the deer haven't been back in a few days. The strawberry plants have new leaves though so I think they might be due for a return visit. Nonetheless everything is growing like crazy for the moment and the window boxes are already booming after only three days. That magic soil really works. The transplants have already grown and the morning glory seeds have sprouted. I've never had them sprout so quickly.

I worked out the fallen window box problem rather well I thought. I set it up on a couple of rectangular brick stepping stones and painted the slat under the window sill white. It looks like a bench with flowers on it and in theory the morning glories will grow to cover the window sill anyway. It could look great in three weeks. The weather is so tropical that everything appears to grow twice as fast as it does up north. It feels odd, but I like it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Krassner on Raich

Paul Krassner blogs at Huffington Post on a Raich related theme. He has a lot more to say but I really liked this quote.
Last year, the White House anti-drug campaign spent $170 million on insidious propaganda, working closely with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which was founded and funded by tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies. Prescription drugs annually take 100,000 lives across the nation, but as long as any government can arbitrarily decide which drugs are legal and which drugs are illegal, then all those individuals who serve time behind bars for illegal drugs are actually political prisoners.

Think about the irony there. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, was founded and funded by tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies. They're the biggest drug dealers in the country and it's in their best interests to keep drugs they don't control, illegal. Simple as that.

Simple logic indeed. Like Bob Dylan said, "You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Ben Harris - Something's got to give

Reader Ben Harris is fired up by the ridiculous decision in Raich. If I knew how to do CSS pages, I'd give it its own page, but since I still don't know how to do that (and what I would give for a computer geek willing to spend a couple of hours to teach me how), I'm going to excerpt a couple of paragraphs.
It seems to me that there are far to few people fighting the "War" on the side of drugs and harm reduction. We need more people to stand up and say "I smoke pot, and I hold a fulltime job, and I contribute to society." The government can (for now at least) only do what the people want them to do. I know it is not that simple, but in a way it is. If the public took it upon themselves to become informed about what the government is REALLY doing, they might not be so willing to be led around like sheep.
And he puts his money where his mouth is:
Everyone around me personally knows what I do. I'm not going to walk up to a cop and say, "Arrest me, I use marijuana." However, just about everyone at work knows what I do, or at least suspect. I would never lie about my use, because lies just get you in more trouble. But those people who know what I do also know that I have been out of work a total of one full day in 22 months. The guy who's job I do now had a drinking problem. That's why I have the job, because after 5 years our company had to let him go because the alcohol just became too much of a problem. And then they hired a pot head. Go figure.
He's right that we need more regular folks to stand up and admit they are cannabis consumers. We have a lot of reform NGOs out there but what's missing is the grass roots masses that are otherwise law abiding citizens, often important and well respected members of their community, to come forward instead of leaving it to the NGOs and activists to do all the work. I leave you with Ben's closing words.
We need to start a movement. Something needs to change, and maybe now is the time.

No maybe about it. There's no time like the present.

Poetry in motion
Raich continues to resonate in the blogosphere. The always amusing Mad Kane takes on the Supremes with verse in:
Dopey Decision explained

How dare you smoke that evil grass!
Your pain is no excuse.
The doctor who prescribed your weed,
We'll string up with a noose.

The state that told you toking's cool
Has overstepped the law.
The Commerce Clause gives Fed control.
Our logic isn't flawed.

The lack of commerce interstate
Protects states' rights, it's true.
But when a state offends this Court,
Then damn it, we shall rule!

And while you're at the link, check out her other recent verse and parodies on Dubya, Dems and the breaking news.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Media Alert

If the Raich decision has got you all fired up to do something and you don't know where to start, your best bet is to participate in the DrugSense on-line conference tomorrow at 7:30 pm EDT (6:30 Central, 5:30 Mountain, 4:30 Pacific).

The DrugSense Virtual Conference Room will be open for a couple hours so that Drug Policy Reformers from around North America can join an ongoing roundtable discussion of all things related to reform and how to best increase DPR-related media coverage within your community and nationwide. For details on how to join the discussion, click here.

Discussion is conducted with live Voice (microphone and speakers all that is needed) and also via text messaging. The Paltalk software is free and easy to download and install. The password for this gathering will be PW: welcome-pal (all lower case).

Hawaii's US AG declares it's now a war on doctors

This is not good. I was thankfully wrong about Oregon disbanding its medmar registry but this one unfortunately is true. Hawaii's medical marijuana program is essentially dead.
[U.S. Attorney Ed] Kubo said his office would not prosecute the medical marijuana smokers, but cautioned that the doctors could be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges as accomplices to the distribution of the marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law.

"The U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning is the death knell to the medical marijuana issue," he said, a sentiment shared by some medical marijuana advocates.

"I would advise all physicians and anyone who is involved in distributing or helping in the distribution of any illegal narcotic to be very, very leery," he said.
Of course he fails to mention that he could choose not to persecute the doctors or the patients. The case was always more about State's Rights. Nothing has changed in this decision in terms of medmar, "the federal government had the authority in the past to prosecute marijuana users or doctors acting under state medical marijuana laws, but didn't do so."

It's this announcement of his new priorities that will kill the compassion program. As one doctor said,
"If it could become something I could be prosecuted for, I certainly would want to stay away from that," she said.
She better not get into pain management with legal medications either. The feds have declared war on those doctors too.

[via Talk Left]

Media Alert

Live web chat today with Ethan Nadelmann and Angel Raich. Tune into the link at 5 PM EDT /2 PM PDT.

Rhode Island raises the bar

Alright. This just in from the Marijuana Policy Project. Rhode Island, that tiny little state, showed some big balls yesterday and told the US Supreme Court to stick that majority opinion where the sun don't shine. Hot on the heels of the Court's rejection of State's Rights to show compassion for sick people, the Rhode Island Senate passed medical marijuana bill S.B. 710 by a 34-2 margin. The bill will now go to the House.
"In light of the Supreme Court's decision, it's more important than ever that states pass medical marijuana laws," said Neal Levine, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C. "Rhode Island lawmakers have demonstrated that the Supreme Court decision does not prevent states from protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest."

Because 99% of all marijuana arrests are made at the state and local level, state legislation is the most effective means of protecting medical marijuana patients. In the 10 states that have already passed medical marijuana laws -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington -- the
federal government has rarely interfered with patients who follow state law.
A reminder to all of us that while it's important to keep the pressure on the DC crowd, much can be accomplished on the local level. Here's hoping more states will be willing to demonstrate to the feds that hell hath no fury like a state whose rights have been scorned.

Prohibition causes more harm than the use of drugs

Even though I spend hours reading every day there's simply no way to catch everything. Thus this excellent piece posted last week, comes to me via reader Ben Harris who found it at Drug War Rant. Worth reading in full, A Letter to My Friend Who Supports the Drug War.

And while we're thinking of Pete, he's still in New York but posts his own action alert with some excellent resources to help you get involved.

Pete points out Radley's challenge that I failed to highlight in the flurry of press links and it bears repeating.
Consider this a challenge. If you blogged about Raich today, give us at least three posts a week for the next three months aimed at making Hinchey-Rohrabacher and the Truth in Trials Act law. Let's find out what Congressmen are standing in either bill's way. Let's shame them. Let's pursuade those on the fence to come down off of it. If you lean Republican, and your Congressman is a GOPer who has voted against bills like these, explain their hypocrisy to them. Ask them what happened to federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and the right of states to set their own rules and policies when it comes to medical treatment.
I'll take the pledge as well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Forfeiture funded Texas task force?

Scott's back from his trip and has the story on lies about task force legislation. Apparently Northeast Texas Narcotics Task Force's finest are telling the public the new law was going to take away their forfeiture gravy train anyway (not true), so they're going to dissolve themselves and regroup as a fully forfeiture funded cop squad.
Henderson and Rusk County will use its share – about $465,000 – to operate the new task force.

That money will last about a year-and-a-half, but Flanagan said the new task force should be making more traffic stops and seizing more money in the meantime.

He said the sheriff's office plans to make a request from the commissioners that they put the two task force officers on the county payroll for the 2005-06 budget.

"Then we can use the seized money to operate the task force," Flanagan said.
Scott replies.
I don't get how you do that without violating federal rules that asset forfeiture money "increase but not replace" agency budgets -- i.e., the forfeiture money shouldn't be able to be used to replace local tax dollars or Byrne grant money. They can only "supplement" local budgets with extras. It's unethical for agencies to perennially finance their whole budgets from asset forfeiture -- there's too much incentive for committing an injustice when assets are seized by agencies whose budgetary existence depends on the seizure. But that's what's being contemplated in East Texas.

Read the rest for the gory details. Scott also blogs on how they obtain the assets in the first place. The good old fashioned way - they bust a bunch of small time consumers.
Dusty Flanagan, the chief deputy at the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, said DPS wants to implement a narcotics strategy that focuses only on large drug dealers.

"What we have in our community is smaller drug dealers. (The DPS system) is not going to benefit us. We need to go after the small drug dealers and get them in jail," Flanagan told the Rusk County Commissioners Court.
And they don't want a lot of DPS brass looking over their shoulder while they confiscate cars and property for nickel and dime busts. It adds up I guess. They made almost a million dollars in the last fiscal round on this legalized highway robbery. Meanwhile our court system is clogged with non-violent drug offenders and their property, which is tried seperately by the way. Gets its own case name and everything.

It's inane and insane. Forfeiture laws have got to go.