Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Ashburton Guardian, Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor,
Ashburton Guardian.
25th December, 2005
Dear Sir/Madam,

Cannabis not criminogenic.

Residents of Mid-Canterbury have good reason to be suspicious of cannabis cultivation being 'often linked to organised criminal activity' by Police ("Watching out for cannabis patches" Ashburton Guardian, 21 Dec).

The Commissioner for Police was brought to account by the 1998 National Party lead "cannabis and mental health' Health Select committee for asserting the same 'causation' to violence and crime. NZ's failure to heed the Committee's recommendation to review the appropriateness of cannabis law sees Police [continuing to] pander to fears where there should be none. They are promoting the illusion to support enforcement measures that cannabis cultivators are 'involved in theft and burglary' and that this is created by the pharmacology of cannabis.

The need to grow in the country, even the incentive to grow on other peoples land, to disguise plants or even act suspiciously is a function of the very prohibitory practice, making a mockery of the Police's annual rural public safety and crime prevention 'mail drop'.

Canterbury's most dangerous herb, responsible for social mayhem, road carnage, crime, ill health and disproportionate advertising revenues is fermented barley. Although cultivated in a legal framework, a significant number of young 'barley' users go on to become judges and jailers, even rural police men and woman.

Promoters of this culture are given knighthood's. Entire fields of this dangerous precursor are often overlooked, disguised to appear to the untrained eye as the innocuous wheat. But not everything is as it seems. Were barley made illegal, most every kid, rural and urban could identify 'at 100 yds' potency, yield and probable harvest date. Entire web pages would be dedicated to culture of barley...

The herb Cannabis is not criminogenic, whereas the prohibitory 'policy base' is. It appears, absent the political will to resolve the tensions that surround NZ's hypocritical drug policy that for Canterbury rural residents at least, the roads to and from the barley fields continue to be paved with good intentions.

Blair Anderson
Director, Educators For Sensible Drug Policy. http://www.efsdp.org


** NotaBene :Emergent rural sector 'drug threats' in Canterbury similarly rewarded with all manner of business awards is the european 'Grape' of which some cultivars when processed and ritually consumed have been found to been associated with 'bank rate' psychosis and reading 'Metro'.
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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Marijuana Munchies Hold Weight-Loss Clues

NZ Obesity/diabetes has been linked both behavourally and clinicaly to cannabinoid related drug policy.... see mildgreens.com for more information.
/Blair

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Biting into the science behind the "marijuana munchies," American researchers have uncovered clues to pot's effect on appetite.

Their insights might also lead to drugs that could help increase -- or curb -- wayward appetites.

The team of researchers at Columbia University, in New York City, didn't focus on the drug itself, but rather on the body's own version of pot's principal ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Naturally produced cannabinoid molecules, called endocannabinoids, are drawn to the hypothalamus -- a region of the brain that regulates hunger and other basic functions such as memory, perception and movement.

Researchers have long known that once endocannabinoids dock with their brain receptors -- known as CB1s -- hunger ensues.

What has not been understood is why.
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Friday, December 16, 2005

Quantifying the Ridiculous.

Quantifying the Ridiculous?

(or is sustained behavioral impairment a function of prohibition.?)

It is over ten years ago that prominent cannabis researcher Gabriel Nahas was critiqued for a sloppy 1992 academic study (see http://www.lycaeum.org/drugs.old/plants/cannabis/nahas.flaws ), This 'biased and unscientific' scary story was prepared for and funded by the USA government. The National Institute of Health fired him, his work, particularly his horrific 'smoking monkeys' experiment vilified, confessing it was 'meaningless' science. Nahas. however just added to a long list of studies claiming 'sensational' cannabis health risks characterised by lack of controls, oversight, replicatability or independence.

Media and commentators on the biopsychosocial Dunedin Multidisciplinary and Christchurch Longitudinal studies have not abated. The Royal College of Psychiatry has been at it again.

[Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis ... Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study, Louise Arseneault, Mary Cannon, Richie Poulton, Robin Murray, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E Moffitt]

While there may be some harm or risk from cannabis misuse, particularity early chronic use, these are never tested against the gold standard. Nor can they be, such meaningful research can only be conducted and measured in a non-judgmental harm minimiising environment. (see Scoop:
Suspect study perpetrates "reefer madness" myth)
"There is not yet any conclusive evidence as to whether prolonged use of marijuana causes permanent changes in the nervous system or sustained impairment of brain function and behavior in human beings."
National Academy of Sciences, Coptic study (UCLA), 1981
Witness the dysfunction on the prohibitors watch! Could it be the matrix of prohibition that maintains the sustained behavioral impairment?
How much science do we need to quantify the ridiculous?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cannabis and Tobacco Smoke Are Not Equally Carcinogenic

Those who attended last Mondays 'mildgreen' film & video evening on harm promotion courtesy of the American Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. (www.dfaf.org) will be aware of the 'cannabis and cancer' saw. Here is a evidential rebuttal from a Mildgreen(ish) networker, as published in the Oct 2005 harm reduction.journal ....

[snip]

Thus, cannabinoids inhaled in cannabis smoke physiologically reduce the potential amplification of carcinogens in smoke that results from biologically produced free radicals. This response is not induced by tobacco smoke.

In conclusion, while both tobacco and cannabis smoke have similar properties chemically, their pharmacological activities differ greatly. Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some. Both types of smoke contain carcinogens and particulate matter that promotes inflammatory immune responses that may enhance the carcinogenic effects of the smoke. However, cannabis typically down-regulates immunologically-generated free radical production by promoting a Th2 immune cytokine profile. Furthermore, THC inhibits the enzyme necessary to activate some of the carcinogens found in smoke. In contrast, tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of carcinogenesis by overcoming normal cellular checkpoint protective mechanisms through the activity of respiratory epithelial cell nicotine receptors. Cannabinoids receptors have not been reported in respiratory epithelial cells ( in skin they prevent cancer ), and hence the DNA damage checkpoint mechanism should remain intact after prolonged cannabis exposure. Furthermore, nicotine promotes tumor angiogenesis whereas cannabis inhibits it. It is possible that as the cannabis-consuming population ages, the long-term consequences of smoking cannabis may become more similar to what is observed with tobacco. However, current knowledge does not suggest that cannabis smoke will have a carcinogenic potential comparable to that resulting from exposure to tobacco smoke.

It should be noted that with the development of vaporizers, that use the respiratory route for the delivery of carcinogen-free cannabis vapors, the carcinogenic potential of smoked cannabis has been largely eliminated [47][48].



 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

hemp instead....

cute, hempstead... indeed, has there ever been a hemp oil explosion in recorded history?
see photo at news of the weed



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Personal appeal for letters of support

(Gregory is a fellow director of www.efsdp.org.
His son is studying at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand / Blair)


Fellow Common Sense Drug Law Activists


I hope all will forgive me for taking the liberty of posting a personal appeal on this list. I promise that I won't be making a regular habit of it. But today I find myself in a real "situation," more than a little bit scared and much in need of support from my friends in the activist community. Tangible support, if at all possible, in the form of letters to our County Prosecutor and District Judge.


As you may already be aware, I was previously employed as an Elementary/Middle School Counselor in a small, very rural, very conservative school district. At the same time I had been a long time, high profile common sense drug law reform activist. Not surprisingly my political activism created a certain amount of friction between myself and the school administration. Over the years I had occasion to discuss the matter with my principals and superintendent. While they were not wildly enthusiastic about my activities I believe that over time I had at least earned their begrudging respect for the sincerity, logic and passion of my beliefs. We had been able to maintain an uneasy peace on the matter.

Last school year (2004-05) I was re-assigned part time to a newly constructed and newly staffed middle school. My new principal--a first time principal trying to put together a brand new staff in a new building--was grossly offended by my political activities--to her mind, anyone who questioned the War on Drugs, Inc orthodoxy obviously wanted to give crack to Kindergarteners with their morning milk. There simply was no middle ground with that woman. She embarked on a campaign of low level harassment and micro-managing my time and energies--nothing every teacher hasn't personally experienced or at least seen go on between professional staff & administration at one time or another. Goes with the territory of public education, I just tried to put up with it. But I did get an awfully big belly full of it after awhile.

On May 2nd, 2005 I was pulled out of the classroom and told that a private drug dog had alerted to my truck. Again. I say "again" because the drug dog always alerted to my truck. How convenient. And every time I would consent to a search. Only the first time was anything ever found--a dirty cup inside a trash bag which in turn was inside a whole box full of trash on the seat. It held the dregs of a bottle of home brewed hard cider, 2 oz or about 60 ml if I did the math correctly, of dead yeast, sludge and solids that accumulate in the bottom of home brewed beverages. Got 3 days unpaid suspension--first time in my life I'd ever been suspended from school, btw--for that transgression. After that I was scrupulous about never allowing any contraband or even dirty returnable beer bottles in my truck. Despite those precautions for some odd reason every time the school would conduct a sweep of the school, the dog would alert to my truck. Every time I would consent to the search. And every time the search would come up empty. Correctly or incorrectly, I had the distinct impression I was being targeted for special attention and call it galloping paranoia but I ascribed that to a consequence of my activities advocating for sensible drug policy. Maybe because the end of a particularly difficult school year was drawing to an end. Maybe I had just had a belly full of it. Whatever the reason, rather than just rolling over again, surrendering one more bit of my privacy and liberty and self esteem and just taking the easy way out, this time I refused consent. A 2 1/2 hour stand-off ensued.

I politely but firmly refused consent to allow a search. I respectfully demanded a warrant be secured prior to any search. I also knew that a dog alert from a private handler was not sufficient to establish Probable Cause, hence they couldn't get a warrant on the private drug dog alert alone. It took bringing in a second dog from a neighboring county's sheriff's dept which also mysteriously alerted to my truck--but only after the deputy damned near kicked it in the ass to get it to pay the slightest bit of attention to my truck. When first brought to the truck the second dog showed no interest whatsoever. But when the dog then changed its mind and "alerted" to my truck after all, I was ordered to surrender my keys and submit to the search.

As would be expected, after putting them through all that, the search was thorough. After pulling all sorts of boxes, coats, farm tools and garbage out and strewing it about the pavement, the fruits of the search were as follows:
  • 1 green twig, approx 1 1/2" in length (~4cm). Just a twig, no leaf, no bud, no glands. The cops said it was a cannabis stem. I said it was either hops or alfalfa hay--I own a farm and grow both so the presence of either would not be unusual.<>
  • <>1 charred piece of cigarette paper, approx half the size of the nail on my little finger. Nothing inside the paper, just the scrap of burned paper itself. The cops said it was an mj roach, I said it was the butt of one of my 24 year old son's hand rolled tobacco cigarettes.

These two bits of "evidence" were duly bagged, tagged and sent off to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

I was then told to return to my normal duties and go about my business as though nothing had happened, pending lab results. I felt it much more prudent--for my own mental equilibrium as well as the safety of my students--to immediately go on medical leave. After a couple weeks of to-ing and fro-ing the superintendent gave me the option of resigning or being fired. The lab results were not back yet but in the interim, the school's attorneys had done some digging and discovered that I had been convicted of "attempted use of MJ," in 1989, a fact I had neglected to mention when I applied for the job in 1999. Hadn't mentioned it because I thought it was supposed to have been expunged after completing the terms of my sentence ($50 fine and no further police contact for a year). Turns out that it had not been expunged after all, so I was still carrying around the label, "Drug Criminal." Interestingly enough, this old conviction had shown up on the Michigan State Police criminal background check the school did on me when I was hired but at the time the administration hadn't been sufficiently alarmed by the original conviction or my failure to disclose it to put them off from hiring me. They had been sitting on this for 5 years with the full knowledge they could always pull this out and whale me over the head with it if neccissary.

Anyway, I decided to just take the easy way and resign. I was pretty sour on the district anyway and school counselors are a high demand specialty here in Michigan. I figured I could find another post easy enough. The school district really just wanted me to go away quietly. The superintendent told the MEA (union) Uni-Serve Director for this part of the state that they didn't want any, "scandal." Ya, imagine if this had hit the papers, eh? "School Counselor nabbed with a tooth pick sized green stick and a charred fragment inside parked, locked truck. Could he be a dealer?" So the deal was, if I resigned they would allow me to remain on paid medical leave for the remainder of the contract year. And that the school would exert any power they had with the County Prosecutor to head off criminal charges related to the seizures from my truck. Not that the school gave a rat's ass about me, they just wanted me to go away and really didn't want it showing up in the paper.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of that. I resigned. A week or so late the lab results came back. A morphological exam of the stem was presumptive for cannabis. The lab report made no mention of the charred bit of paper, nor has there ever been since. By all appearances it has simply evaporated. At the time I really questioned the "presumptive" cannabis determination--a stripped stem alone is not enough to make a conclusive identification of cannabis.
But as far as I was concerned the point was moot. I had resigned and was moving on. In early July I was arrested and charged with a 4 yr felony for a "Drug Free School Zone, second offense," violation. I ended up spending a weekend in jail, another first for me. I was held on a $5,000 cash bond--no 10% surety, they wanted 5,000 hard, cold, cash dollars. So there I sat all weekend watching a steady parade of wife beaters, meth cooks and previous absconders come and go on bonds ranging from $100 to $500. Obviously I, an accused marijuana criminal, posed a greater risk to the community than someone brandishing a handgun in a tavern.

The outpouring of support from MI-NORML was overwhelming; a dozen members and fellow travelers showed up on very short notice just for my arraignment. The court did notice. A couple weeks later I went in for my first hearing. The prosecutor offered to accept a plea to misdemeanor simple possession. I declined--said I wanted this farce ended and all charges dropped or to go to a full jury trial on the original felony charge. I simply did not believe a jury given the evidence--a 1 1/2 inch green twig and nothing more--would go along with sending me to state penitentiary for 4 years. Besides, we've all heard it a hundred times from the drug war cheerleaders, nobody in this country goes to prison for simple possession of MJ. Do they? .

Late in August, I showed up for a Preliminary Hearing on the felony charge. At that time the County Prosecutor informed my attorney that the charge was being reduced to a misdeamenor, simple possession. I could still have my jury trial since I was refusing to be reasonable and take the plea bargain, but they had decided not to press for the Drug Free School Zone felony. Good news I suppose but still and all I couldn't help but reflect on the coincidence of the timing--the new school year had just begun the previous week and with a drug felony charge hanging over me all summer, I was barred by state law from even being considered for employment elsewhere. Now--a week after school had begun--I could begin my job search.

In late November I had another hearing. This one was to consider a Motion to Suppress Evidence. The search itself was clearly illegal and I was detained at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the back of a police car until they could get up enough nerve to go ahead and search my truck despite my well articulated (and well documented in each of their individual incident reports) refusal to give consent. They never did get a warrant, btw. You know, I really thought it was a slam dunk, that the circumstances of the search were so obviously illegal and my detention so patently excessive that the evidence would be thrown out and this entire thing would be over. In other words, and in all candor, I really didn't take it seriously.

That was a mistake. I did not line up any support. I did not take people up on their previous offers to write letters. I didn't ask any one or even my wife to come to court as a show of support. The only person in the gallery was a homeless guy, come in off the street to warm up. The hearing did not go my way. The judge ruled (I believe wrongly) that the initial dog alert did establish Probable Cause. This despite the fact that the handler testified that there had been several other alerts to staff vehicles that day and a search of each came up blank AND that the dog was trained to alert not just to illegal drugs but also to gun powder residues (I live in the country, I farm and I hunt wild game. There was a box of shot gun shells in the glove box, something really not that unusual out here in the sticks). The handler also admitted that the dog would alert to prescription meds and even dirty beer bottles. All perfectly legal products for me, an adult, to have in my locked truck, parked in a school lot. The judge ruled Probable Cause had been established despite the fact that even the cops had admitted on the stand that they had to bring in a second dog specifically because private dog alerts do not establish Probable Cause. But the judge decided the first dog alert established Probable Cause anyway.

The judge also ruled that my detention in the back of the cop car was not only voluntary but was done as a favor to me. See, it was cold that day, temps hovering around 40 F/5C and blustery. So the cops were just being nice by telling me to sit in the back of the cop car for an hour and a half and in full view of classroom windows rather than letting me go back into the (heated) school building. I guess I'm just an ingrate for not appreciating their concern for my comfort.

I am now scheduled to go to trial on Jan 19th. It may be too late, but I really need a visible show of support. For those living in Michigan or northern Indiana, the trail will be in 7th District Court, 1007 Wells Street, South Haven. If anyone is able to make the trip, just your presence in the courtroom will send a strong message. As an added bonus, an after party is scheduled at the Willow Ranch that evening. Hopefully it will be a victory celebration but either way I can promise a good time with lots of home brew and good fellowship. Maybe Tim B can even take us over to view his new holdings--he's a land owner in Van Buren County now (welcome to the neighborhood, Tim. Just don't tell anybody you're a weekender from "the city." The most popular bumper sticker around here last summer was, "If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot them?")

For those unable to make the trip, I could really use letters of support. Well, not letters sent to me. Letters sent to the Prosecutor and the Judge, copies to my attorney. I would hope that any letters be polite and to the point (optimally 1 page, 2 max) but I'm not picky either. The real point here is to make the court aware that whatever they do to me they do it in the glare of full light. Getting a stack of letters from around the US, Canada and even N.Z. & OZ, Asia and Europe should send the message clearly enough. And not unrealistic given the fact we have members of this list spread all around the globe.

Suggested tacks letters might take:

* Waste of time and resources. It took 5 police officers and a dog (plus an additional dog handler and her dog) to search my truck. Two more officers to drive out to my farm to arrest me in July. I got to enjoy the county's hospitality in the Gray Bar Hotel for a weekend. At least two prosecutors, plus their support staff have worked on this. An arraignment, one hearing to waive my Preliminary Hearing and another to have the charges dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor-each of which required the time of a judge, a clerk, a prosecutor, various support personnel as well as a courtroom. Last week's hearing tied up 3 cops, a judge, a clerk and the courtroom for an entire afternoon. The upcoming trial will waste still more people's time and county resources. For a 5 cm long stem.

* Why is the county so intent on prosecuting this when even the school district has asked them not to? What purpose is served?

* Prosecuting this matter, in light of the paucity of actual evidence, is a transparent attempt to retaliate against me for not consenting to the search as well as an effort to punish me for my political activities and suppress future activities.

* Just being arrested and charged with this heinous crime has already cost me my job, my standing in the community and put my professional career on hold. My pension is also kaput now--I was just short of the 10 yr minimum necessary to be vested. What more does the county want? Haven't I been punished enough?

* I also think it worth pointing out that this is all taking place in the same district court (different judge) that declined to prosecute Pat Conroy a year and a half ago. To refresh memories, Conroy was Vice Principal of L.C. Mohr (South Haven) Public H.S. There was a student that Conroy knew was dealing at school but he just couldn't catch the kid. So, following the example set by the Mad Cowboy himself--you know who the evil doer is but no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to dig up any solid evidence--Conroy simply made up his own own "proof." He planted a bag of pot in the kid's locker and then called in the South Haven Police drug dog for a "random" search. When the dog didn't alert Conroy went back later and removed the pot. Then a couple months later he bragged about what he had done to the dog handler when they happened to run into each other at a school basketball game. A subsequent search of his school office turned up several "packages" of mj, amounting to "somewhat less" than one ounce total. Conroy was charged but charges were later dropped on the grounds a) the cop he was bragging to didn't stop him when he started talking about it so all his statements were suppressed and b) since the dog never alerted, the kid was never harmed. Essentially, no harm, no foul. Conroy meant well and his actions were in pursuit of a higher good. Conroy was given a free pass after being caught with actual mj in his school office, not just a stem that may or may not be cannabis, AND after making no bones of the fact that his intent was to harm a student whereas no one can say any student was harmed (or even aware) by the contents of my parked, locked truck. Certainly no intent to cause harm to a student. I probably sound like one of my own students here but that just does not seem fair. Actual copies of the police reports about the Conroy incident can be found at: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/teachpot1.html

My case # is: 0500883 and my full name is: Gregory Dale Francisco.
Please include those references in any correspondence. Letters may be sent to:

Cory Johnson
Assistant Prosecutor, Van Buren County
1007 Wells St
PO Box 311
South Haven, MI 49090

Judge Arthur Clarke III
7th District Court
1007 Wells St
PO Box 311
South Haven, MI 49090

Please send a copy to:
Attorney Roman Plaszczak
Suite #1
181 West Michigan Ave
Paw Paw, MI 49079

I truly appreciate any help fellow travelers can give me in this matter.
Greg Francisco
jjfarm@net-link.net
32323 M-43
Paw Paw, MI 49079 USA
(269) 628-4340



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Monday, December 12, 2005

Seattle Conference on Drug War Exit Strategies Gets Down to Nuts

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/414/kcbaconf.shtml
Last Friday, on the second and final day of the "Exit Strategy for the War on Drugs: Towards a New Legal Framework" conference organized by the King County Bar Association's Drug Policy Project, dozens of drug reform leaders, academic specialists, and activists engaged in a rather unusual exercise. Led by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority addiction services clinical supervisor Mark Haden, who has been pondering such issues in the context of Vancouver's living experiment with cutting-edge drug policy reform, the group confronted a series of dozens of questions about how two drugs -- marijuana and methamphetamine -- should be regulated in a post-prohibition era.

Should marijuana be sold over the counter? Should meth? Should there be restrictions on the hours of sale? Should the sales outlets be licensed? Should they be run by the state? Should there be limits on the quantities that can be purchased? Should medical approval be required? Should marijuana smokers be licensed? Meth users? Should information on health risks of the drug be posted at the site? Should there be restrictions on packaging of the drug?

And on and on. The group voted on each question with a show of hands, with Haden tallying the vote and assigning number values from one to five to signal the degree of agreement with the question. While Haden did not reveal the results of his informal survey, it was not the results as much as the exercise itself that was remarkable. On the second day of this groundbreaking get-together, participants had finally moved beyond the recitation of the familiar litany of drug war failures and harms and were beginning to confront the intricacies of what comes after prohibition.

And for a bunch of people presumably on the same side of the issue, the exercise showed a remarkable divergence of opinion about just how a post-prohibition regulatory model might work, with clear libertarian free market and public health models emerging. (One point of rough consensus came over UCLA scholar Mark Kleiman's pragmatic and provocative proposals for licensing of drug users. That went over with a fairly resounding thud, as it always seems to with the drug reform crowd.) It was an exercise designed to get people to think about regulation, and the fact that consensus was elusive is less important than the fact that reformers were finally looking at what comes next.

"We're not here to talk about what's wrong with the war on drugs," said KCBA Drug Policy Project director Roger Goodman. "We are talking about where to go from here."

The KCBA Drug Policy Project has some ideas about that. The group has spent the last few years bringing together the state's professional organizations behind a proposal -- now manifest in the form of legislation that will be reintroduced when the session begins in January -- for the state to examine alternatives to prohibition. That proposal is supported by a massive KCBA study, "Effective Drug Control: Toward a New Legal Framework" released earlier this year. While aimed at Washington state, the KCBA model is applicable elsewhere, and with this conference the organization is making clear its goals extend far beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to Efficacy's Cliff Thornton and Deborah Small of Breaking the Chains, two of the few black faces visible at the conference, the ugly issues of race, class, and the drug war were not ignored. "I am amazed that for three generations we have allowed a disparate administration of justice without an outcry," said Small. "At every single stage of the system, we have outcomes that favor whites at the expense of people of color. If we were talking about anything other than drugs, people would say hold on! By creating a system where anyone who has the money and the ability to play it out can escape, we show that we're not fighting a war on drugs, but a war on poor and vulnerable people."

Such issues are at play within communities of color as well, Small said. "Most minority communities believe drugs are bad, and the immorality of drug use is reinforced by the churches. The notion that people have a right to consume drugs flies in the face of the communal traditions in communities of color -- we don't believe it's all about you. While you do see a backlash to over-policing, that doesn't mean the community is eager to take the leap to no control at all. There is a fear among people of color that if you had regulated, controlled drug markets, that would lead to more use."

Class plays a key role, too, Small argued, even with the black community. "The use of drugs is associated with the lower classes," she said. "If you can pretend it's mainly those people in the projects, you can ignore the degree to which it is going on in your own house. It may not be crack or meth; instead, it's martinis or Paxil. To ignore the class aspect of the drug war is to ignore reality."

Small wasn't done yet. Drug policy doesn't exist in a social and political vacuum, she argued, and for would-be drug reformers to ignore the context is a grave error. "There is a strong sense that the regulation of alcohol and tobacco haven't worked because we live in a capitalist society where the bottom line is the bottom line," she pointed out. "If we don't have an approach that considers these economic issues, if we are not going to address the fact that the drug war has really hurt our communities, we are going nowhere. It really troubles me to think we are engaged in this policy debate without attaching it to the broader political, economic, and social problems we have to address in this country. Are the people in this room the ones who should be here? And who else should be here?" Small challenged her mainly white, mainly middle-class peers.

Efficacy's Thornton spoke of the need for "reparations" for communities of color devastated by the drug war. "We have got to acknowledge and repair the damage done," he said. Not only has drug prohibition wreaked havoc with minority communities, Thornton added, but regulation threatens to remove one of the few income-generating activities available in the nation's de-industrialized, low-opportunity inner cities. If we fail acknowledge and address that fact, he said, social injustice will only be perpetuated.

But "reparations" may not be the best word. "When people hear that, they automatically think we just want money," Small said. "But what we are really talking about is restorative justice, fixing the havoc we have wreaked on these communities."

A crucial obstacle to ending drug prohibition is the opposition of the law enforcement establishment, and the conference confronted the problem of police and prosecutors head on. "How do you shift the mindset of police officers?" asked Seattle Police Sgt. Robert Benson. "They're generally a pretty conservative lot, and they are going to have to shift their thinking 180 degrees from seeing drug users as criminals to seeing them as victims. A more appealing way of reaching out to police may be to talk about the fiscal benefits of shifting the war on drugs into a treatment model."

"You can't just talk about recreational drug use," said Dan Satterberg, chief of staff to King County's prosecutor. "We are focused on heroin and cocaine and meth, and we believe these drugs create victims among their users and a lot of trauma in the communities where they live. We believe treatment works," Satterberg said, as he explained how Washington has moved from imprisonment to the drug court model and on to more recent sentencing reforms. There is a role for law enforcement, he maintained. "We can try to use the criminal justice system as an effective intervention point," he said.

Drug law reform will require that law enforcement get on board at some point, and former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper made a hometown appearance. "Many police agencies have developed their own addiction to the revenue stream from asset forfeiture," he told a Thursday news conference. "I went to federal drug conferences a decade ago, and we were told out front that the topic of ending prohibition would not be broached. Period. That mentality still exists today. It is utterly un-American and undemocratic, but it characterizes the federal government's response to growing concerns that the war on drugs just doesn't work. It doesn't, and we need more law enforcement executives to be honest about that."

Stamper is working on precisely that through his association with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the rapidly growing group of police officers and prosecutors who have broken ranks with the drug war. But in a sign of how tight the public police drug war consensus remains, LEAP is almost entirely retired police officers. There is much work to be done on that front, Stamper conceded.

By the time the conference came to an end Friday afternoon, it was clear that no consensus for a single post-prohibition reform model had been reached. Free marketers faced off against public health proponents and the medical model. And perhaps for a topic as all-encompassing as US drug policy, that is to be expected. But it was also clear that the American drug reform movement -- along with its allies in Europe and Canada -- has reached a consensus that the work of delineating the myriad failures of drug prohibition has been done. While the failures of prohibition will still have to reiterated repeatedly, it is now time to move forward and begin to end the drug war.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

One in four Canadians Victimized!


[snip]
With guns and drugs headlining the news recently, law and order has become a sleeper issue in Canada's federal election campaign. One in four Canadians is victimized by crime each year, he said.

"Crime outpaces the United States except in homicide, and our crime rate in Canada is seven times what it was 40 years ago. Were dramatically higher than other industrialized nations... somehow we seem to be suppressing that reality."

[Commencing about 40 years ago.....the core engine of the matrix of dysfunction - drug prohibition. It's not the drug that is criminogenic, its the bloody rules Politicians are addicted to! ... 'connect the dots!' guys! ]

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Youth takes a bow in British vote

"A Compassionate Conservative" - Cameron goes against Prime Minister Blair

but hangon.. isnt this the same Cameron?

Tory contender calls for more liberal drug laws

"David Cameron, the Tory leadership contender, believes the UN should consider legalising drugs and wants hard-core addicts to be provided with legal 'shooting galleries' and state-prescribed heroin. He also supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it shares

"Cameron's is a face unmarked by history, the ideal embodiment of a party that wants for a time to forget that it has a past, to strip away the burdensome memories of economic disaster and the end of society, the more persuasively to address itself to the future," one columnist, Anne Perkins, wrote in The Guardian. Cameron might also face criticism of a more personal kind. He has refused to say whether he took drugs such as cocaine while a college student
http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/06/news/britain.php

Also reported in the New York Times. of course, what it doesn't mention is Cameron's predisposition to drug law reform. /Blair
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Monday, December 05, 2005

The Seattle Times: Legalize drugs � all of them

The Seattle Times: Legalize drugs � all of them:
Guest columnist / Norm Stamper
Special to the Los Angeles Times

Sometimes people in law enforcement will hear it whispered that I'm a former cop who favors decriminalization of marijuana laws, and they'll approach me the way they might a traitor or snitch. So let me set the record straight.

Yes, I was a cop for 34 years, the last six of which I spent as chief of Seattle's police department.

But no, I don't favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug-reform movement hasten to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines.

I've never understood why adults shouldn't enjoy the same right to use verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water.

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use � not an oxymoron in my dictionary � as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the 'war on drugs.' Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another � Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush � delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines.

It's not a stretch to conclude that our Draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. "Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the doors, let the nonviolent drug offenders go." (cont)
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Seattle Marijuana Law Reform Has Little Impact

12/2/2005

A 2003 law that made marijuana possession the lowest priority for Seattle police has not caused any of the problems feared by opponents, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Nov. 23.

"I'd say it's had little to no effect," said City Attorney Tom Carr, who strongly opposed Initiative 75, which voters approved two years ago. "And that's good. It hasn't been a problem. You can tell by the numbers."

In the mid-1990s, Seattle police were making 500 arrests annually for marijuana possession; last year, there were 59 such arrests, and just 35 so far this year. "It tends to be a couple of joints in the possession of someone stopped for something else," said Carr.

"It was a reasonable measure," said Dominic Holden, who chaired the ballot initiative campaign. "It is not hampered by state and federal law and it has not led to any 'reefer madness' claims."

Some local marijuana users said the law mainly codified the status quo relationship between police and smokers. "(This) initiative just helped change the public mindset, and encourage tolerance," said Seattle resident Ben Livingston. "That's important."

Mike McDonald, another city resident who supported I-75, said the shift in approach was evident when police found a friend of his smoking marijuana in his car recently. "They told him to put it out and move along," he said. "I don't think that would have happened before."

(snip)

see also Seattle: Alternatives to the Drug War public presentations from OCT 2005
--  /Blair Anderson  
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Drug War Exit Strategy Underway in Seattle

Great to see such a gathering of good folk round the table in Seattle. Notably this is getting extensive coverage because for the most part  it is being driven by stuffed shirts and civil society. Leading participants NGO's are promoting it on their respective websites all helping lift the public interest and to cajoling media into giving it some traction.

The heavy emphasis on the community  formulating the 'exit strategy' of course requires unfettered dialogue, and we know that that's just not going to happen driven from central givamint because, t clearly there will be legislative implications and political fall-out.

Somewhat ironically the UK is revisiting the nature of prohibition and cannabis in a similarly titled "'Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives'" (Nov 30th)
It is reported elsewhere but a fellow blogger has it nailed in a series of news items with images at http://www.newsoftheweed.blogspot.com/
/Cheers Blair.

Paula Lambert wrote:

2 December 2005
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/413/exitstrategy.shtml
Conference to Plot Drug War Exit Strategy Gets Underway in Seattle 12/2/05
  
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Friday, December 02, 2005

4oz hashish/500 joints not trafficking in UK

Telegraph | News | 500 cannabis joints is not trafficking, says Clarke: 500 cannabis joints is not trafficking, says Clarke
By John Steele, Crime Correspondent (Filed: 01/12/2005)

Anyone caught carrying up to 500 cannabis joints is likely to escape trafficking charges under Home Office proposals published yesterday.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, revealed plans to set a threshold for the first time on the amount of drugs an individual can claim is for their own personal use."

(snip)
The news is not all good.. checkout who the defining experts are... talk about a bet each way

"Over the next three months, the Government will be asking experts including police, prosecutors and courts for their views on the correct threshold for various drugs, above which courts and juries will be invited to assume there is an intention to deal."

Yeah Right!


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Bark worse than bite


Checked: four-legged experts can smell illegal substances


REVELLERS bringing drugs into town centre pubs are discovering a sniffer dog'?s bark is far worse than its bite.

Because when a specially-trained drugs dog sniffs out narcotics on an unsuspecting drinker, a bark to its handler results in walkies to the police station for the drug user.

(snip)

The entire UK Class C for cannabis was predicated on the priority of getting tough on dealers. This canine intervention is targeting low level users, the perverse opposite of the intended practice. These sniffer dogs are 'private enterprise' activities faciliating the protection of liquor trade venues. It is an absurd practice predicated on the specious nonsense that cannabis 'is violence and crime' creating, when in reality it is ALCOHOL that deserves the rap!

Cannabis "has become a proxy for the control of public order.� (Police Foundation, 2000, 7)

/Blair
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