Friday, December 30, 2005

Next time you fly, leave your flour-filled condoms at home.

From the Philly Inquirer comes news of a lawsuit filed by Janet Lee, a junior comparative lit major at Bryn Mawr, who was detained for three weeks after airline security found in her luggage three condoms full of ... flour.
"I haven't let myself be angry about what happened, because it would tear me apart," Lee said. "I'm not sure I can bear to face it... . I'm amazed at how naive I was."
Under a justice system that is truly just, demonstrable innocence would guarantee exoneration from any criminal accusation. Unfortunately, as Lee points out, the view that our own justice system rises to that standard of truly just is simply "naive."

The troubling question here is, why did the police lab results repeatedly test positive for the presence of any illegal drug at all--much less three!--when none were present? As Ellen Green-Crysler, former director of the Philadelphia PD's Office of Integrity and Accountability put it:
"The whole issue will come down to the field test. Was the officer trained? Was the test contaminated?"
The issue does rest on why the results on Lee's flour came back wrong on three separate trials. Either the officer conducting the test was incompetent or the testing equipment itself was off, through contamination or miscalibration. But a prison guard why took sympathy on Lee and her plight, offered another possible reason for the errors:
A prison guard recognized her from a Bryn Mawr volunteer job at Overbrook High School and took pity on her. The guard told Lee that she believed her and that the whole thing was probably racial.
Look, it's understandable that police would initially look skeptically on Lee's explanation for the condoms full of white powder. So it's not unreasonable that they would want to run some tests. But when a substance that contains no illegal drug at all returns a false positive result on repeated trials, none of the available explanations do much to inspire confidence in the government's chances of winning its War on Drugs.

If the equipment was to blame, then how many others have been falsely accused based on tests using the same bad equipment? If the officers conducting the tests simply weren't competent to follow the proper lab procedures, again, how many others have been falsely accused? Or could the fixing of the results have been deliberate? For their part, Philadelphia PD hasn't had much at all to say on the matter. It'll be interesting to see what facts eventually come out in this most unusual case.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In praise of pot-smoking moms

From today's Denver Post (also archived at MAP), a profile of just a few of the voters who voted last month to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The feature profiles one group of legalization supporters who don't get a lot of press: parents who happen to be responsible marijuana smokers themselves. A few of the highlights from the moms who were interviewed:
"It slows me down," says a Washington Park 40-something mother of a 10-year-old daughter. "It's a nice, relaxing, low-key thing."

One Denver psychologist, the 46-year-old mother of a young child, smokes because it helps her find "that space that is so about me and not about being a parent."

"It helps you stop thinking," says a 37-year-old Crestmoor mother of two, a mildly conservative Republican who, like most of the women interviewed, smokes once or twice a week. "I either can't sleep at night because I'm restless, or I can't get in the mood with my husband because my mind is spinning.
But of course, the opposition must have their say too:
"They are sending those kids a message that it's OK to get high, and they intend to send that message," says Dr. Mary Holley, the director of Mothers Against Meth-Amphetamine, in Alabama. The physician works to organize mothers against all illegal drugs. "That's an extremely destructive message." Through their habits, the moms tell their kids that "if he has a problem, he can just go out and get high."
Believe it or not, I think Dr. Holley actually got it about half right. These moms are sending a message that it's OK to get high. They're sending a message that the notion of responsible marijuana use isn't just pro-legalization propaganda; it's a reality for millions of productive citizens from all walks of life, and these moms are living proof. In fact, contrary to Holley's overblown hysteria, the message that they want to send to their kids is pretty clear:
Young brains, the moms say, can't handle marijuana. Like sex and alcohol, the decision about whether to take a toke should be reserved for people with proper seasoning: old enough to vote, finished with high school, stepping into adulthood.
Here's the thing: millions of parents, whether they currently smoke or not, have certainly smoked marijuana at some point in their past, many with some degree of regularity. Deep down, they know that the scare stories our kids get from programs like D.A.R.E. just don't match up with the reality that they've actually experienced for themselves. Still, it seems that far too few speak out against the nonsense that's crammed down the throats of our nation's youth ad nauseum by outfits like Dr. Holley's Mothers Against Meth-Amphetamine and the ONDCP. Our society needs more parents like those described in the article, with the courge to be open and honest with their kids about drugs. We just don't hear nearly enough about parents who are willing to give their kids the real facts about drugs instead of just copping out and towing the government's line of propaganda. The article is fairly short with lots more great quotes from the moms who were interviewed; it's definitely a must-read.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Scrooged and Grinched

December was a particularly bad month for medical marijuana patients in California.

Instead of holiday cheer, the federal government brought holiday fear in the form of vicious raids on many of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. Now, many suffering Californians will be forced to rely on generous gifts from friends and relatives to tide them over this holiday season. How do you drug warriors sleep at night??This illustration was taken from the brilliant graphic novel, A Drug War Carol, by Susan Wells and Scott Bieser. If you haven't read it yet, take some time to check out here. These inexpensive books make great (belated) stocking stuffers for your favorite (and not-so-favorite) elected officials.

On behalf of California's medical marijuana patients, I'd like to end this post with a song dedicated to Drug Czar John Walters:

(to the tune of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch")
You're a mean one, Mr. Walters.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Walters.

You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You're a monster, Mr. Walters.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Walters.

I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Walters.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Walters.

Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crocodile.

You're a foul one, Mr. Walters.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Walters.

The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

You're a rotter, Mr. Walters.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Walters.

Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Walters.
With a nauseous super-naus.
You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.
Mr. Walters.

You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool
With arsenic sauce.

Okay, now one more time for Mark Souder...

and another for Karen Tandy!

Happy Holidays, Justice Warriors.

Friday, December 23, 2005

How much is justice worth?

Associated Press is reporting that the students involved in the horrid 2003 drug raid at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, SC could receive around $9,000 each in a settlement with the police department and the school district.

But lawyers on both sides caution the deal is far from done.

“Ultimately, the whole thing could fall apart,” said Gregg Meyers, a lawyer for the students. “This is a work in progress.”

Following the Nov. 5, 2003, drug search, 59 students and their families sued the Goose Creek Police Department and Berkeley County School District, claiming the sweep violated their constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Michael Duffy combined three lawsuits last year and appointed a mediator. Previous settlement negotiations have broken down. The most recent talks started in August.

As you may remember, the raid stirred lots of controversy after the school's security videotapes were released, showing police officers pointing loaded guns at terrified students. No drugs or weapons were found in the raid, and most of the students involved were black (despite the fact that the majority of students at Stratford are white).

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Many of us were left wondering if the Goose Creek Police Department had actually found the only drug-free school in America.

But seriously, how do you determine the amount of money these students should be awarded to compensate for the terror they suffered as a result of official incompetence? Ultimately, the value of the impending court victory will be measured not in dollars, but in terms of the message it sends to drug warriors all around the country:
Lawyers for the students feel their work has assured a similar drug sweep does not occur in the future.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Senate passes reform of HEA Drug Provision

This morning, at about a quarter to 11:00 EST, the Senate passed the budget reconciliation bill by a margin of 51-50, with Vice President Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. The budget bill contained a reform to the HEA Drug Provision, which would remove the provision’s retroactivity to make students ineligible for financial aid based on past drug convictions. The bill is almost set to become law, pending the President’s signature.

By removing the retroactivity of ineligibility, the provision will now make ineligible only those applicants for financial aid who are convicted of drug offenses while in school and receiving financial aid. This law will be in effect for the next school year.

This is a major victory. Only because of the years of sustained pressure by student activists did Congress reform this disastrous law. It’s a good first step, however this reform is still sorely lacking. If Congress had looked seriously and honestly at the facts, they would have repealed it altogether.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Drug Czar cries over lost allowance

Johnny "Pee" Walters, our all-knowing and benevolent Drug Czar and his cronies are worried that they're not getting enough of American taxpayers' hard-earned dollars to proliferate their misleading anti-drug messages as far and wide as they'd like to. The ONDCP included the following few lines in a press release they put out yesterday announcing the results of the 2005 Monitoring the Future survey:

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has made great strides in its efforts to alert teens and parents about the dangers and harms of drug use, including marijuana. There is concern that funding reductions in recent years are starting to produce erosion in the perception of harm of marijuana use among young teens. Indeed, the MTF survey shows that among 8th graders, the perceived harm in smoking marijuana regularly which had been rising sharply in recent years, has decreased (from 76.2% to 73.9%).

"The decline in overall drug use is a success for the Media Campaign," said Robert W. Denniston, Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. "But we are worried about the effects that funding cuts will have on our ability to maintain the momentum we have built up over the years in reducing drug use among the nation's young people."

These lying fools.

As we reported here a few weeks ago, Congress has increasingly cut the Drug Czar's advertising budget for the past few years because the only large-scale scientific studies that have looked into the Media Campaign have found it to be a miserable failure. If Johnny Walters wants a bigger allowance from Congress, he'd better start bringing home better report cards.

Reclaiming Reality

It’s mid-January and the new semester has just begun. You slide into your Political Science 101 class a few minutes late and covertly take a seat in the back of the lecture hall. Your battle-hardened professor has already started to outline the course, and as she shoots you a perturbed glare, she proceeds to explain that she will often frame political issues using one particular ideological dichotomy. For the remainder of the class, she fleshes out this dichotomy by illustrating how each of the two viewpoints look at the world. Then she assigns homework. One page, double spaced, 12 pt font, answering this question: “Are you an idealist or a realist?”

Easy question, right? After all, your work with SSDP is certainly directed toward making the world a more ideal place in which to live. And you’ve heard that is a great place to land activist jobs in the non-profit sector. As your professor explained, realists see the world as a static place, but idealists see possibilities for progress in the future. You’ve got to be an idealist… right?

Not so fast. Let’s take a moment to compare yourself to, let’s say, Drug Czar John P. Walters.

Yes, John Walters, the rabid drug warrior who thinks that we can attain a goal of a drug-free society… if only we lock enough people up. John Walters, who has seen teen cigarette smoking drastically decline under a regulated market, while teen marijuana usage has remained the same despite his full-out war against it. John "Pee" Walters, who boasts that children are thankful for random drug testing and intrusive searches because it gives them an excuse to say no to drugs. John Walters, a proponent of abstinence-only drug education that has been shown to be largely ineffective. John Walters, who continues to promote the spraying of South American countries with deadly chemicals, even though the program has never been shown to successfully decrease the flow of drugs into the U.S. John Walters, who fights a war that can never be won.

John Walters is every Drug War Zealot. The clueless idealist… living in a fantasy land of abstinence while reality becomes yet another forfeited asset.

In this sense, we Drug Policy Reformers are the realists. We realize that people will continue to find ways of altering their consciousness regardless of how many people are arrested. We realize that drug dealers will always exist as long as prohibition creates an illicit economy that makes easily grown weeds worth more than their weight in gold. We realize that indigenous farmers in third-world countries will continue to find ways of growing the one crop with which they can support their family. We realize that providing children with inaccurate and ineffective “drug education” while demanding that they urinate into a cup will only push them farther away from those who they need the most. We realize that our brains are not perfectly-balanced, unchanging wads of meat; rather, they are complex ever-changing systems of neural networks and chemicals that can often be responsibly tweaked and altered by using a variety of legal and illegal chemicals. And we realize, above all, that there is no silver-bullet solution to our nation’s drug problems, and there will always be work to be done.

Let me be clear: While we work toward a more ideal society, we need to continually express the fact that our advocacy aims to be sensible and rooted in reality. Whether you call yourself a realist or an idealist (or if, like me, you are skeptical of false dichotomies), we can all agree that the Drug Warriors promote policies that blatantly disregard reality, and end up leading to a society that is much less ideal.

It’s time for the DARE Generation to reclaim reality.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Monitoring the Drug Czar

Filed under "willful distortions of truth."

This morning the annual Montoring the Future survey was announced at a joint press conference between the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan. MTF has followed trends in drug use and attitudes among 8-12 graders for 30 years. As such, it is an authoritative body of knowledge on which we can make science-based policy decisions and measure the success of our drug policies.


Well, that might be true if you were anyone other than one of our nation's leading drug warriors. And, two of the top dogs -- Drug Czar John Walters and DEA chief Karen Tandy -- were at the MTF presser this morning. It should come as little surprise to us that they manipulated the survey's findings to justify (indefinite) extension of the Drug War.

I asked Dr. Lloyd Johnston, the leader researcher of MTF, about the disparity between the comprehensive nature of his work as compared to the selective use of data by the Drug Czar to justify random drug testing in schools. Dr. Johnston thoughtfully explained that his survey does not address random testing, but added that MTF does show little advantage to for-cause testing.

Compare this to Walters, who followed Johnston. He said that there will be a time "not too far off" when student drug testing is commonplace and "we will wonder what the controversy was all about." He also said (with a straight face), drug testing "works and it saves lives."

More Walters: This is what companies are doing and, therefore, it is safe for schools. Drug testing in schools is "similar to testing for tuberculosis" and such testing eliminates public health risks among children.


I don't know if you believe any of this, but it sure makes me wonder if we're talking about the same thing. Most of us are eager for an honest debate about student drug testing. However, I doubt that such a debate can ever happen as long as the facts are bent to an ideological agenda.

16:05 - Update: AP hit on the press conference.
12/21 - Update: C-SPAN video of press conference

It's official.

As expected, Evo Morales was victorious in the Bolivian Presidential election.

Read the New York Times' (slanted as always) coverage here.

Morales comes from a poor, indigenous background, growing up as a llama herder and a coca grower, eventually becoming the head of the Cocaleros, or coca-growers union.

He won by much more than he was projected - I saw polls Sunday predicting 32 percent of the vote for him (I think they were taken in late November). It appears that he has won much more than that, but results won't be official for a few days.

This election makes Morales, as far as I know, the first formal representative of a union of producers of a prohibited crop to become the head of a State.

Morales' election will change the international war on drugs in ways we can't even suppose at the moment.

He's also the first indigenous President of Bolivia, which is one of the poorest (and on-and-off coca dependant) nations of Latin America.

“zero cocaine, zero narco-trafficking, but not zero coca”
This has been Morales' rhetoric about his drug policy for a while now. I don't know if he actually takes prohibition seriously or if it was just to temporarily pacify Washington, but either way, drug policy reformers should keep their eyes on Bolivia for the next couple of weeks.

Coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald

Friday, December 16, 2005

Jane Weirick

Jane Weirick was a tireless and dedicated worker for the cause of cannabis reform. She was co-founder of the SF Patients Resource Center at 350 Divisadero, which set a model for MMJ cooperatives in SF after closure of Dennis Peron's club. She went on to found the Hayward Patients' Resource Center, working successfully with local officials to establish one of the first city agreements to permit dispensaries to operate. She was a leading advocate for responsible self-regulation of dispensaries and was known for her devotion to her friends, patients, and customers.

Last December she was stricken with a mysterious, extremely debilitating illness that may have resulted from chemical exposure, according to her Kaiser doctors. Jane was convinced the chemical assault came from Avid, a pesticide that a few growers of "medical" marijuana reportedly spray on their plants to control spider mites. Avid, manufactured by Syngenta (formerly by Novartis), is a so-called "natural" pesticide, extracted from a soil bacterium. It is applied to plants in the flowering stage. It is classified by the industry as "slightly" toxic, but by entomologists as "highly" toxic.

Tod Mikuriya, MD, thinks "presumptive delayed allergic hypersensitivity" is a reasonable diagnosis. Mikuriya has been urging since the mid-1990s that cannabis dispensed for medical purposes be screened for pesticide residue. "Patients with HIV and other illnesses that compromise the immune system are at even greater risk [than Weirick]," he observes.
Counter Punch featured a good article with information on Jane and what may have led up to her passing. If anyone has more detailed information on AVID please weigh in.

To address Mr. Steiner's comment on the "Steiner Strikes Back", I myself was surprised that there was not a post concerning Jane Weirick on our blog page. However, I am not sure if Mr. Steiner is insinuating that Marijuana, and not AVID is responsible for what happened to Jane.

AVID is not a pesticide specifically made for or used on marijuana. This page shows the current EPA approved Crops that Avid should be used on. There is no mention of specific plants that would be grown for consumption. It seems that AVID is meant to be used on Ornamentals, foliage, Christmas trees, and landscapes. Therefore, if AVID is the main cause of Jane's allergic reaction, would she not have had the same reaction if she worked at a farm, greenhouse, or worked specifically with AVID while landscaping her yard? Furthermore, if AVID were used on food products that were regularly incorporated into our diet, would that not cause a similar reaction?

The problem is how unregulated some of this medicine is. If the medical marijuana were to be regulated, AVID would not be used on it because patients prefer and expect organic marijuana. Without having a reliable source of medical marijuana, dispensaries have to obtain medicine through growers who may not have the patient's needs at the top of their list. Making sure they do not lose their grow because of an infestation of spider mites, some growers may use a pesticide and not know its effects on patients. Some growers may just altogether lie about using a pesticide at all.

The medical marijuana and drug law reform movements have lost an amazing and loving person, who dedicated her time and life to helping patients get the medicine they could not get anywhere else. She had compassion for people with illness and disease and understood that while medical marijuana might not work for everyone, it does work for some and she witnessed that.

Our laces tied together

Unless we untangle prohibition, we are going to continue to trip up young people.

Yesterday, students and parents in Douglas County, Colorado, were taught this lesson - the hard way. Eight Mountain Vista High School students were caught smoking marijuana, only to be informed by police that their stash was laced with heroin. Trace amounts of heroin were found in a field test of the pot, and further testing is being conducted. It is likely that the teens knew nothing of the "secret ingredient", so we must wonder how it became tainted. I see two possibilities:

1. The heroin was intentionally introduced by a dealer to make the pot more addictive so that the customers would come back for more. (Currently, this is the sheriff office's theory.)
2. Somewhere along the process, the marijuana was handled "on the same equipment" as heroin (just as milk chocolate M&Ms can potentially contain traces of peanuts).

The former scenario seems less plausible than the latter (for simple cost-benefit reasons that I won't get into here), but either option leads us to the same conclusion: If marijuana was a regulated substance, its distribution would never share proximity with heroin in the first place.

After all, could you imagine Starbucks trying to get away with "accidentally" lacing their lattes?

Two states away, in Nevada, The Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana is working to pass the "Regulation of Marijuana Amendment", a law that will make marijuana a regulated commodity - just like alcohol or coffee. And as with alcohol, persons under 21 will be turned away at the counter.

Personally, I have qualms with setting 21 as an age limit for the legal consumption of any substance. But it's clear that this policy is much more sensible than the one that currently forces marijuana to mingle in the company of more dangerous black market drugs. Once passed, this sensible drug policy will likely spread to other states, including Colorado. Perhaps, then, when these eight Mountain Vista students are old enough to have teenagers of their own, they will know that if their kids do get their hands on marijuana, at least it will be heroin-free--a guarantee that mom and pop didn't have in the Olde Days of Prohibition.

DEA holiday fundraiser

I received this special holiday offer in my e-mail inbox from the Drug Enforcement Administration today:

For All You Last Minute Shoppers – the 2005 DEA Holiday Ornament

Christmas tree lacking a little something? There's still time to save the holidays! Click here to order your 2005 DEA Holiday Ornament. Order by December 19 to guarantee holiday delivery.

The link takes you to an online store where, in addition to the holiday ornament, you can buy all sorts of DEA paraphernalia. They've got everything from shirts to pens to posters to mugs to yes, even golf balls. But be sure to rock out for a bit to the catchy "bust 'em and lock 'em up" theme song that accompanies the flash animation before you click over to check out the products.

I guess the DEA is doing whatever they can to scrounge up funds in light of their recent poor report cards and resulting allowance probation. Why don't they just ask for a bigger share of asset forfeiture revenues by local law enforcement agencies?

Steiner phones in

I got a call on my cell phone yesterday from good ol' Steve Steiner.

Without getting into too many specifics, I'll just say this: We actually had a fairly nice and cordial conversation. Despite his ineptitude with the written word, he's actually a fairly articulate and well-spoken guy.

And believe it or not, there wasn't any yelling and only a little bit of voice-raising and interrupting.

Among other things, Steiner told me that I don't sound gay (not that there's anything wrong with that), and that he's expecting a call from President Bush (who, he says, he's planning something special with). As to the pending presidential call, Steiner wouldn't reveal the details. This, I told him, I completely understood. It's not as if I'd prematurely let him in on any big plans SSDP's working on.

I think Steiner and I gained a bit of mutual respect for each other (or at least I hope the feeling is mutual). Listening to him talk about his deceased son gave me a sense that this is actually a guy who really cares about making the world a better place and genuinely believes he's doing so through his work with DAMMADD.

I talked a bit about my mom, who's living with multiple sclerosis and has been working harder to pass Rhode Island's medical marijuana bill than anyone I know who's not getting paid to do so. I think Steiner came to understand that I too endeavor to make the world a better place through my advocacy. Of course, that didn't stop him from repeatedly patronizing me with lines like "you'll learn when you get older and have kids yourself."

In other news, Steiner also e-mailed me a response to my public question below. While on the phone, he told me he'd be posting it here on the blog (but he hasn't done so yet). I would go ahead and post it here for you all to see, but I think it might be a bit unethical to broadcast a private message. So let's hope he follows through and does end up posting his response. For now, I'll just tell you that it leaves a lot to be desired.

If you're still reading, Steve, I do want to thank you once again for continuing to engage us in spirited discussion about these important and complex issues that don't have any simple solutions. It's certainly not often that prohibitionists are willing to debate drug policy reformers. Only through open and honest discourse can we unearth our common ground and foster constructive solutions. Let's keep it up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Paging Steve Steiner

Steve, I want to genuinely thank you for engaging us in debate. It's not everyday that prohibitionists are willing to discuss the actual issues with drug policy reformers.

With that said, I've got a simple question for you:

Can you tell us why you advocate the prohibition of marijuana (a drug that has never killed anyone) while you don't advocate the prohibition of OxyContin (a drug that lead to your son's death)? It can't be because you take money from Purdue Pharma (the manufacturer of OxyContin), can it?

We're eagerly awaiting your honest response.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Anything but marijuana!

So it seems as though researchers have found a drug (which, for the moment, they are referring to by the uber-sexy name URB597) that "works by raising levels of endocannabinoids" in treating depression.

The article, from UPI, is sparse on pharmacokinetic details, but it sounds like it might be the equivalent of MDMA's effects on Serotonin but on endogenous cannabinoids (which the article frequently refers to endocannabinoids as if their readers know to instinctively interpret the "endo" at the beginning of a word).
"This is the first time it has been shown a drug that increases endocannabinoids in the brain can improve your mood," said lead investigator Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a researcher at Montreal and McGill Universities.
Almost true! Two years ago, scientists found that the mood-elevation associated with "Runner's High" was likely caused by endocannabinoids, but I guess it's folly to think that the mainstream would consider excercise a drug.
The researchers, including scientists from the University of California-Irvine, were able to measure serotonin and noradrenaline activity as a result of the increased endocannabinoids.

I'd just like to point out (as I have in late-night inane rants to Tom Angell on at least two occasions) that a trend is emerging where agonists (drugs which directly act on neuroreceptors in the brain) are fairly consistently demonized, while most other drugs (antagonists, reuptake inhibitors of all sorts, particularly Serotonin) are glorified.

It seems to me that a subconscious social norm has developed which is accepting of drugs which inhibit brain function, but fearful of drugs which enhance or increase brain function.

It's not clear, then, where these kinds of drugs, which are somewhere in between, would fit in.

MDMA works by causing a release of 5-HT - endogenous Serotonin. Amphetamine (which is prescribed like candy to young teenagers) has just about the same effect on dopamine. Now, URB597 (whose subjective effects I'll be sure to report on as soon as I get my hands on some) appears to do the same for the cannabinoid system.

How will society's unconscious distinction treat this drug?

And moreover, why is it that a drug which essentially mimics marijuana acceptable while marijuana is not? Is it the mere use of endogenous rather than exogenous cannabinoids? The acceptability of "Marinol" (which, by the way, gets you really quite high) seems to suggest otherwise.

It's as if we recognize marijuana's medicinal and other value, but we want anything but marijuana to achieve it.

Read the Article Here.

Steiner strikes back

Steve Steiner is on the defensive about my post from last night. He must be really worried, because in addition to commenting on my post, he sent a link to DARE Generation Diary to his e-mail list this afternoon. I paste his alert below, in full:
Subject: Students for drug legalization attack DAMMADD founder

Marijuana policy Project ramps up propaganda

Dear Tom Angell,

Yesterday, I sent out a request for you to sign a petition, the purpose of this petition was to call on Rhode Island House Members not to override the Governor's veto. We also sent out a press release on US Newswire, in response to this press release and petition, the drug legalizers led by the Marijuana Policy Project and their sister organization Students for drug legalization started a personal attack on myself.

Please if you can forward this petition to your friends and family. Obviously, we have hit a nerve, the truth will win.

Here are the links to their attack:

Sign this petition

Sign this petition and notify:
Representative James Langevin
Representative Patrick Kennedy
Rhode Island House
Senator Jack Reed
Senator Lincoln Chafee
Steven Steiner

We the American citizens of this great country are asking you the House members of the State of Rhode Island to please do not override Governor's Caricieri veto in regards to crude marijuana as medicine. We are also asking you to take a look at this video clip
that clearly shows there agenda for even more information on the agenda of the financiers, please go to . The most compassionate thing we can do for our loved ones that are ill is to get the best medicine possible and crude marijuana is simply not compassionate medicine. The children of Rhode Island are just as important than children from any of the other 49 states, for their sake do not override the veto.
Typical Steiner rambling. But I can't believe he'd want his members to read the important and accurate criticism of him posted here.

Additionally, I can't understand why he thinks Rhode Island state legislators will be swayed by e-mails from crazy DAMMADD members from all across the country. And why is he also asking people to e-mail members of Congress and all the governors in the nation? They have no bearing on whether or not Rhode Island enacts this compassionate legislation.

In any case, it probably won't be long before Steiner purges me from his action alert list. But that's okay, I've already signed up with an alternate e-mail address.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Steven Steiner: A sad, sad man

Steven Steiner founded Dads And Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMADD) after his 19-year-old son, Stevie, died of an OxyContin overdose.

This sad event turned Steiner into a rabid anti-drug crusader. Well, except that his organization is funded primarily by pharmaceutical companies - including Purdue Pharma, which made the drug that killed his son. That, and his organization primarily works to oppose statewide medical marijuana legislation which his pharmadonors certainly don't want to pass. They must be worried they'd lose a lot of money if seriously ill people were able to have access to a plant that anyone can grow in their own backyard and thus can't be patented.

Steiner has gone so far as to put gut-wrenching pictures of his son's dead body up on his website. He's also set up a form on his website where visitors can submit tips to turn in drug dealers - for cash rewards.

But if you think drug policy reformers are worried about Steiner and his well-funded organization, you're wrong. His "action alerts" almost invariably contain spelling and grammatical errors. No one takes him seriously, especially the public officials these alerts are aimed at. Here's just a tiny sampling (my comments in parentheses):
"Back in September I watched a video called up in smoke this is a dvd put out by Snoop Dogg advocating drug use, violence and demeaning of women. This dvd is so over the top and something must be done about the advertisers who want to make Snoop Dogg some kind of icon. These corporations need to hear from us, so what I would like you to do is click on the link below and watch the video,(this video contains explicit language and sexuality and should not be watched by children under the age of 17) I am sorry that you have to watch this but after seeing this it will make you angry and want to react." - Dec. 9 (punctuation, anyone?)

"It was a very extraodinary year this year, we launched over 20 petitions fighting everything from medical marijuana, needle exchanges and even being a big part of the meth bill that passed here in New York State." - Oct. 25 (how "extraodinary!")

"This is a Must read For All Parents.... Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Police alliance both will tell your kids that marijuana is natural and safe??? Wrong and either is moonflower shame on them...... this is why George Soros and Peter Lewis must be stopped." - Oct. 18 (Drug Police alliance, eh?)

"We would also like to thank our corporate sponsors: Purude Pharma..." - Dec. 11 (he misspells the name of his primary funder!)
You'd think Steiner would have someone take a look at his alerts before he sends them out (or at least use his e-mail program's built-in spellchecker).

In addition to being a sad, misguided dad with terrible spelling and grammar, he's also a partisan hack. Take for example this article, in which he urges readers to resist buying auto insurance from Progressive (owned by Marijuana Policy Project, ACLU, and donor Peter B. Lewis) and instead do business with Nationwide, who Steiner says is "on your side." He links to this list of political contributions showing that 89% of the company's PAC donations have so far gone to Republicans in the '06 election cycle.

And another thing: I just don't understand DAMMADD's name. Why are only the moms mad? Are the apathetic dads just against drug dealers because their angry wives told them to be?

But seriously, my heart goes out to any family (including the Steiners) who've lost loved ones to the real and serious problem of drug abuse. But advocating for harsher punitive policies that will only ruin more people's lives is just plain sick. This grieving man is being taken advantage of by greedy pharmaceutical companies. I'm not sure he even knows what he's doing.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

UK considers taking a U-turn in the face of progress

As published by the Independent today...
"Tony Blair is planning a controversial U-turn on cannabis laws and the reintroduction of tough penalties after an official government review found a definitive link between use of the drug and mental illness.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has detailed evidence showing cannabis triggers psychosis in regular users. The findings are expected to be used by Blair to overturn the decision made two years ago to downgrade the drug."
Please read the details before continuing on.

I can't help but wonder what hidden agenda Blair might have. The article seems to suggest that ACMD does not encourage changing the law, but that the politicians plan to use their findings to do so anyway. They plan to do this regardless of the fact that drug use by youth has continually decreased in the last two years, and in defiance of edicts from the police, who state that the new policy has allowed them to focus more effectively on class A drugs such as heroin. If Blair wishes to make a U-turn in the face of such progress, he better be certain that the ACMD findings are verifiable.

I for one am very anxious to see the research methodology proving marijuana leads to schizophrenia and mental illness. Have these findings been replicated? I am curious as to how this study received results in contrast to every previous study ever conducted. Of the many regular users I have met, all of them would argue that marijuana simply does not induce psychosis. On that basis, I am skeptical of results that seem to jive so poorly with reality. However, I have not run any empirical tests. Thus, I leave the question open: Will Blair's decision to turn the car around be justified, in spite of all the seemingly obvious "no U-turn" signs?

Across the blogoverse

In addition to the Drug War coverage we try to provide here at DARE Generation Diary, there's lots of other drug policy stuff to be found across the blogoverse.

A light sampling:

Radley at The Agitator continues to shed light on the extremely troubling case of the drug raid gone wrong on Cory Maye's home. Here, he interrogates the prosecutor in the case.

Bill at DPA's D'Alliance tells us here about how terrorists in Singapore get rehabilitated while drug smugglers get executed.

Thehim, in his continually excellent DrugWar Roundup blogs this week about misleading "science" on marijuana and driving.

Scott at Grits for Breakfast has blogged up a storm recently, sharing his take on the whole "Stop Snitching" phenomenon here, here, and here.

And although no one's blogged about it yet, I can't help but share this article about how Australia's leaders are complaining that their country's youth are too "stoned and fat" for the nation to have adequate military recruitment.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

This smells like shit

Police and their drug-sniffing dogs conducted a search of a Colorado high school last week, and although the dogs indicated they smelled drugs a number of times, none were found.
Although narcotics detection dogs picked up the scent of drugs six times during a search Thursday of Moffat County High School, police didn't find illegal substances.

School officials requested the search after finding marijuana at the school earlier this year, Craig police Officer Alvin Luker said.

"Our mission is to create a safe, quality learning environment, and that environment needs to be drug free," Assistant Principal Thom Schnellinger said.

I fail to understand how interrupting the school day by bringing in ineffective dogs does anything to foster a "quality learning environment."

At least one of the dogs used in the search has an appropriate name.
Folks and his dog, Tzar, also participated in the search.
But let's all rest assured that the school officials and police involved know what's best for the students, okay?

The police department has an agreement with the high school to conduct searches using drug dogs. High school officials request searches, but they must have a specific reason. School officials also must agree to pursue a criminal investigation if an illegal substance is found during such searches.

"Our policy states that we won't do a search just because there's suspicion of drugs," Luker said. "There has to be a definite need."

Let's hope some of the local parents raise a stink that this intrusive search failed to reveal a "definite need" for doing anything like this ever again.

"Our purpose is not to try to get kids in trouble for carrying dope," he said. "We're trying to keep kids from bringing it to school. We have to do certain things to protect our children from others."

If dogs give an alert at a locker, school officials take action, Schnellinger said.

"(An alert) creates a scenario of what's called reasonable suspicion," he said. "We will address this with students and parents, on an individual basis."

How can the courts agree that these dogs' alerts amount to "reasonable suspicion" when they falsely alert over and over again?

War on fake drugs

Another case of someone getting busted for having fake drugs in Florida:

When deputies patted down Washington, they found a brown prescription bottle in his shirt pocket that contained five white, rocky objects that looked like crack cocaine, the report said.

As police inspected the substance, Washington allegedly laughed then said, "Go ahead, test it, that ain't crack, it's fake. I sell it to you stupid white m--------- and take your money."

The white substances tested negative for cocaine, the report said. According to deputies, as Washington was booked into the county jail, he was asked what his occupation was and Washington replied, "I'm a crack dealer."

Anyone out there know if other states have similar outrageous "fake drug prohibition" laws on the books?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Drug raids a go-go

Radley at The Agitator has had some interesting and infuriating posts about drug raids gone wrong recently. Check them out here, here, and here.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

New anti-drug strategy: Get your kids to hate you

I Hate You

So let's get this right... ONDCP thinks that encouraging parents to act like assholes and getting their kids to hate them is a great way to get young people to stay away from drugs. Whatever happened to building important relationships of trust with your kids and making sure they know they can come to you when they need help?

Are these fools serious?

Oh, those students and their drugs

Reuters has a story on some very special students.
The last class of 2005 has completed the core curriculum and picked its majors...

Final exams start soon and graduation is scheduled for December 22 after 13 weeks of rigorous training at one of the world's most elite schools...

Surprisingly, these students just can't get enough illegal drugs. They're crazy about them, and seek them out whenever they get the chance.

Normally, drug-crazy students like these would be at high-risk of losing their college financial aid, but these students just happen to be dogs at an elite drug-sniffing academy operated by the federal government.

I guess we missed the language in the HEA Drug Provision that exempts students who like to do it doggy-style...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Meth mania: Coming to a TV near you

The Drug Czar's office and Partnership for a Drug-Free America recently announced the launch of a series of new anti-meth TV ads. The spots are flashy and raw, and were made by a number of different ad firms on a pro bono basis.
The ad campaign combines real-life stories of people impacted by methamphetamine with scenarios that depict the unique secondhand threat meth poses to communities at large. The campaign's two main themes, "So, Who Has the Drug Problem Now?" and "End Meth in Your Town" challenge individuals to learn more about the threats meth poses to both their families and their communities.
The "So, Who Has the Drug Problem Now" ads actually inadvertently make the case for ending prohibition. The spots show how fumes from clandestine meth labs can seep into other people's apartments. But, of course, the ads don't explicitly say that it is the prohibition regime we live under that forces people to cook meth in their homes using dangerous chemicals because they can't buy their psychoactive chemical of choice from a store under a controlled and regulated system.

This reminds me of how the "drug use = terror" ads from a few years back highlighted how drug prohibition funds terrorism.

I know all of us reading this blog are able to understand the connection between the harms these ads highlight and drug prohibition, but I wonder how much of the general viewing public gets it. What do you think?

The anti-meth ads will also run in Atlanta, Austin, Cedar Rapids, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Miami, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Minneapolis, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Savannah, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
The Drug Czar's cronies are traveling to these cities and holding press conferences to announce the ads. If you live in or near one of these cities, and want to push back against the drug warriors' lies, get in touch with us.

Federal Auditors Question ONDCP Claims on Reducing Cocaine Flow

This morning, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Government Accountability Office, Congress' research arm and watchdog, is set to release a major report that calls into question the credibility of ONDCP's storm of claims that Plan Colombia has reduced the amount of cocaine in the U.S. Pete over at Drug War Rant also picked up this story this morning.

About damn time.

Plan Colombia has so far cost U.S. taxpayers more than $4 billion over the past five years, not to mention the intense acceleration of a 40-year armed conflict within Colombia. It is hard to imagine a more violent use of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Not only has this massive investment NOT reduced the flow of drugs into the U.S, as intended, but on U.S. streets, drugs are cheaper than ever. The forthcoming GAO report is one more example of the questionable evidence on which we are being sold our governments's perpetuation of the Drug War.

Hopefully, the GAO report will be picked up by news outlets and John Walters will have to answer some tough questions. As soon as a copy of the report is available, a link will be posted on this blog. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Colby meet BUSTED

According to the Associated Press, police in Waterville, Maine are going to start going undercover to bust underage drinkers at Colby College.
Undercover work might involve sending some officers to campus to sit in parked cars and watch the activities of students, while other officers will try to blend in at off-campus house parties, [Waterville Deputy Police Chief Joseph] Massey said.
One of the saddest aspects of this new policy is that it appears to be welcomed by campus officials.
Colby spokesman Stephen Collins said college officials do not mind the added police attention, even if it means sending in plainclothes officers. But Collins said some parties are for students over 21 years old and are legal.
Certainly everyone on campus ought to be concerned about limiting alcohol poisoning, property damage and assaults, especially sexual assaults, that are sometimes an unfortunate consequence of people drinking to excess. Responsible behavior among all drinkers ought to be encouraged, especially among 18-20 year old students.

Using the police to arrest minors undermines the university's ability to build trust and educate their students honestly about alcohol. Campus officials should resist the police coming into their community and making criminals out of otherwise hard-working students.

The University of Wisconsin - Madison used to have a similar program called Operation Sting. Every September the MPD sent undercover police into students' private homes in order to find underage drinkers. Madison students, working with their local elected officials, got the mayor to abandon the program. Together, Colby students can do the same.

In the meantime, every student at Colby should get a copy of BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters. It makes a great stocking stuffer and it has the added bonus of possibly keeping you and your friends out of jail!

It's about TIME.

From TIME Magazine's cover story this week, "The Year in Medicine, A-Z":
MARIJUANA - Research into the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis continued to bolster the case for the medicinal use of marijuana, making the "patient pot laws" that have passed in 11 states seem less like a social movement than a legitimate medical trend. One trial--the first controlled study of its kind--showed that a medicine containing cannabis extracts called Sativex not only lessened the pain of rheumatoid arthritis but actually suppressed the disease. An earlier study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that synthetic cannabinoids, the chemicals in marijuana, can reduce inflammation in the brain and may protect it from the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Looks like TIME has joined forces with George Soros and the Evil Drug Dealer Society of America (EDDSA) in the fight to legalize drugs so we can feed them to small children and puppy dogs. Where is Chuck Norris and his famous roundhouse kick when you need him??

Seriously though, it's nice to see big mags like TIME taking serious something that has always been medically legitimate. But heads up, TIME: the "social movement" you refer to is simply a direct response to the escalating federal war against people living with debilitating conditions (and their doctors) who have long recognized that marijuana is legitimately effective medicine. The only "trend" I see is that people of influence (such as TIME reporters) are finally starting to accept something that scientific studies have proven, and public opinion has supported, for quite some time. It's about time that TIME caught up. (TIME has reported on medical marijuana in the past, but it has always been framed as a controversial political issue. Now, they are finally framing marijuana as a medicine--one that happens to be surrounded in controversy).

As the scientific evidence mounts and the legalization caucus grows larger, inevitably, from the back of the room comes the familiar plea: "But if we legalize medical marijuana, what message will we be sending to our children?"...

There there, concerned parent... the only message we will send is that our government is compassionate to those who suffer. A change of pace, perhaps. But you'll get used to it.

Packed prisons

On Monday, Gary Fields at the Wall Street Journal had yet another excellent piece taking a look at prison issues. This time, he's shedding light on how overflowing prisons are shipping some of their inmates to local jails, which are in turn letting some prisoners out early due to their own overcrowding.
In Oregon, the state legislature, anticipating prison crowding, mandated in 1995 that all state inmates serving sentences of less than a year would be housed in local jails. County officials who are being forced to release prisoners early criticize the state, saying they haven't been given the funds to handle the extra jail population.

In Indiana, more than 12,000 prisoners have been released from the Marion County Jail in the last four years because of overcrowding, including more than 2,600 this year. In Connecticut, where the state corrections department also runs the local jails, officials have released more than 13,000 prisoners judged to pose the least threat to public safety since 2000.

Ultimately the issue has its roots in the contradictory impulses of state voters, who want to put more criminals behind bars but are reluctant to pay higher taxes to build and operate prisons and jails.
Fields's piece alludes to two important points, but doesn't exactly spell them out:

1) As prison and jail populations bulge, state budgets are starting to
strain. This devastating impact on the public's pocketbook could be the catalyst for ending many of the punitive prohibitionist policies associated with the War on Drugs.

2) There is a real need for more re-entry services and programs as more
people come out from behind bars and back into society. If they don't have access to education, housing, jobs, etc, what are they supposed to do besides commit more crimes to survive?

Why not write a letter to the editor (LTE) connecting the dots? LTEs can be sent to

NJ takes one step forward, one step back on drug-free school zones

AP reports that New Jersey may be shrinking its drug-free school zones in response to longstanding criticism of the way they virtually encompass entire cities, as well as their racially disproportionate impact.

An Assembly committee voted on Monday to decrease the size of the zones from 1,000 feet to 200 feet within the distance of a school. Unfortunately, the committee also voted to increase the sentences of people convicted under the zone laws.
The 4-1 vote, with one abstention, came after the chairman of the state Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing assured legislators that the current 1,000-foot school zone (500 feet for public places) had effectively put entire cities in such zones and resulted in the law being applied almost exclusively to blacks and Hispanics.

"The laws as written don't work. They don't protect our children," said the commission chairman, retired state Superior Court Judge Barnett E. Hoffman. He said state and county prosecutors did not oppose the changes.

As the commission recommended, the revised law would provide a 200-foot drug-free zone around schools and public places. Offenders would face five to 10 years in prison, compared to three to five years under the current statute.
Fortunately, the increased penalties are not mandatory minimums, and judges will have discretion on how long sentences should be.

Judge Hoffman's quote is refreshing, as it is an acknowledgement that punitive prohibitionist policies aren't doing anything to keep young people safe. The reduction of the drug-free school zones' size is a good first step, but let's hope his advocacy doesn't stop there.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Urban Outfitters store caves to parents' pressure

We recently reported that a group of Michigan parents were pressuring retailer Urban Outfitters to stop selling books and board games about marijuana.

Well, it looks like the local store being targeted has buckled under the parents' pressure.
Until this week, you could find a recipe for the marijuana-laced sweets in a cookbook sold at the newly opened Urban Outfitters at the Somerset Collection in Troy.

But the hip store -- which caters to the trendy high school and college crowd with cool clothes, edgy books and games, and funky home decorations -- pulled "The Marijuana Chef Cookbook" by S.T. Oner after a Troy group complained.
The Drug Czar's staff are having a field day bragging about this over at their blog.

But it looks like the drug war acquiescence is limited to the one outlet and hasn't spread through the entire chain.
Calls to the Troy store were referred to the company's Philadelphia headquarters. A spokeswoman there declined to comment. She would not say whether the book had been pulled from other stores. The cookbook was still available Friday on the retailer's Web site,

The Urban Outfitters store in Ann Arbor never got the cookbook, but an employee who answered the phone Friday said the store does sell a board game called "Weed the Game."
It sure is easy to fool those drug warriors into thinking they've earned a sweet victory, isn't it?

At least the DARE Generation knows better than to believe the lie that banning books will do anything to help solve our nation's drug problems.
"If you don't like something they're selling, don't buy it," said 15-year-old Jay Savage of Clinton Township, who visited Urban Outfitters for the first time Wednesday with his mom and 18-year-old sister Natalie.

Right on, Jay.

Former Seattle Police Chief says "Legalize it, All of it"

Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle, penned an op-ed in today's Seattle Times calling for full legalization. His rationale is humanistic, practical and non-partisan. Some block quotes appear below, along with a link to the editorial itself.

"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. The huge increases in federal and state prison populations during the 1980s and '90s (from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003) were mainly for drug convictions. In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges. By 2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200. We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined. Feel safer?

I've witnessed the devastating effects of open-air drug markets in residential neighborhoods: children recruited as runners, mules and lookouts; drug dealers and innocent citizens shot dead in firefights between rival traffickers bent on protecting or expanding their markets; dedicated narcotics officers tortured and killed in the line of duty; prisons filled with nonviolent drug offenders; and drug-related foreign policies that foster political instability, wreak health and environmental disasters, and make life even tougher for indigenous subsistence farmers in places such as Latin America and Afghanistan. All because we like our drugs -- and can't have them without breaking the law.

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of (laundered, untaxed) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police officers.

Although small in numbers of offenders, there isn't a major police force -- the Los Angeles Police Department included -- that has escaped the problem: cops, sworn to uphold the law, seizing and converting drugs to their own use, planting dope on suspects, robbing and extorting pushers, taking up dealing themselves, intimidating or murdering witnesses."

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Legalize drugs — all of them

You can send a letter to the editor at (Letters must include your full name (no initials), home address and daytime and evening telephone numbers for verification.)

Cannabis Production = Education Reduction

In Broken Arrow, Oklahoma an elementary school teacher and her youth counselor husband are facing four drug counts in connection with an indoor marijuana growing operation.
Rebecca "Becky" Ann Meador, 33, and Robert Lee Meador, 35, were charged Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court with cultivation of marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, failure to obtain a drug tax stamp, and possession of paraphernalia.
Keith Isbell, a spokesman for the district, said Meador was named Teacher of the Year at Park Lane Elementary School just a month ago. According to the district's Web site, she earned National Board Certification in 2003. National Board Certification complements state licensing by establishing advanced standards for experienced teachers. Oklahoma teachers receive a $5,000 stipend each year if they are certificated.
Robert Meador has worked for the Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health System for several years as a counselor treating children and teenagers with emotional and behavioral problems on an outpatient basis.
Wow. What could better help to disprove the stereotypes concerning marijuana users than this situation? Here we have two American adults, contributing to their community with educational and social work for several years without any problems. One was the Teacher of the Year at the elementary school she taught at!

I am sure that the Meador's marijuana use was not a newly acquired hobby. It is very probable that they have used it for a long time and if so, they have obviously been able to do so in a responsible manner. If this event had not occurred Robert and Rebecca would have more than likely continued to contribute to their community, interact with students, and provide help to troubled youth.

Does this not seem counterproductive towards the goals of education for our youth? Removing two qualified and involved teachers from this school is not going to have any benefit for students. And what kind of a message does it send to the young students of the school? I can only begin to imagine some of the propaganda that will be used to explain this complicated situation to elementary school students.

These kids are going to eventually make the connection that their teacher or counselor were able to attain all the goals that DARE class told them "drug users" could never accomplish. They will realize that whatever the punishment may be for the Meador's (could be stiff; Okalahoma Marijuana Laws), it did not make them or their community any safer.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sting operation

The drug-sniffing dogs students across America see roaming through the hallways of their schools could soon be replaced by... wasps!

Scientists say a species of non-stinging wasps can be trained in only five minutes and are just as sensitive to odors as man's best friend, which can require up to six months of training at a cost of about $15,000 per dog.


"They have to be good detectors because their whole survival depends on it," Lewis said.

Rains said the wasps can be trained to detect a specific odor very quickly. The researchers expose hungry wasps to the target odor, then let them feed on sugar water for 10 seconds and then give them a one-minute break. After three repetitions of sniffing and feeding, the wasps associate the odor with feeding.


They can work for as long as 48 hours, then they're released to live out their remainder of their two-to three-week life span.

This could bring a whole new meaning to the term "getting buzzed."

Friday, December 02, 2005

NYC subway searches to continue

A federal judge upheld New York City's random searches of subway passengers today.

The stated justification for the searches is extremely alarmist and should worry anyone who cares about Americans' constitutional rights.
"The risk of a terrorist bombing of New York City's subway system is real and substantial," U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said in a 41-page ruling.


"Because the threat of terrorism is great and the consequences of unpreparedness may be catastrophic, it would seem foolish not to rely upon those qualified persons in the best position to know," Berman said.


Gail Donoghue, a city lawyer, called the searches a "life and death" necessity and said the city should not wait for a specific threat or an attack to implement security.

"That kind of complacency is a very dangerous thing," she said. "The threat is immediate. It is real and of extreme concern to those who run the counterterrorism in this city."
Actually, what is truly dangerous is cowering in fear and giving up our constitutional rights. This is how the terroists win. I thought administration officials wanted us to "continue living our normal lives and go shopping." Kowtowing to terrorist scum and giving up our freedoms does nothing to make us safer and only encourages those who wish to change our way of life.

Now students in NYC will continue to be searched on the way to school, as well as when they get there. Thanks War on Drugs. Thanks War on Terror.

The ACLU plans to appeal the suit, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. In the meantime, let's just hope the practice doesn't spread to other cities in the wake of today's ruling.

Now is as important a time as ever to flex your 4th Amendment rights. Just say "no" to random police searches.

Plan America

Today's Boston Globe featured an article about the rise in dangerous marijuana grow operations taking place in California's national parks.

These illegal plantations, National Park Service officials say, are the product of sophisticated Latin American drug organizations, which have turned to remote sites in the West to avoid increased attention to cross-border traffic since the Sept. 11 attacks. Several national parks, including Yosemite, have discovered marijuana within their boundaries, but few have been as heavily infiltrated as Sequoia.

Last month, officials from Tulare County, gateway to Sequoia, pleaded with a House national parks subcommittee to create a $5.5 million task force to fight marijuana cultivation on park land and lobbied for the increased use of helicopters to find the fields. The National Park Service has budgeted $764,000 to fight the drug cultivation in its parks, which was discovered in 2001 and has been increasing since.

Good Article. But I wish it had just briefly mentioned one of the safest and cheapest ways to solve this problem. Legalizing Marijuana or even decriminalizing the cultivation of a small marijuana grow for personal use would help to eradicate these grow ops in a way that promotes common sense and avoids violent conflict. Americans want to grow and use marijuana and hemp for industrial, medicinal, nutritional and recreational purposes. Americans are buying this marijuana, illegal or not. So why deprive Americans the right of growing an organic plant right next to their tomatoes in a safe environment?

It really does amaze me every day that marijuana laws are enforced with such ludicrous ferocity. People need to understand and speak up about the fact that this plant was made illegal based on lies and racism. And that is what people are afraid of, irrationally afraid of an organic plant because they were lied to about it. Billions of dollars wasted, millions of lives ruined, and to top it all off, Latin American Drug Cartels armed with Ak-47's are growing ganja in the United States National Parks. Applause to the ONDCP, DEA, and John Walters for doing such a great job keeping marijuana out of America. And lets not forget good old Harry for being such a racist liar.

  • There are 100,000 marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.
- Harry Anslinger, testifying to Congress, 1937

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Parents fight back

A Georgia mother is upset her son's high school forced him to take a breathalyzer after his prank-playing classmates told administrators he'd been drinking and doing drugs at school.

Her son — Carter Barron — denied the accusations and passed the test.

Policy states that a student can refuse to take the test, but the student says he was not given that option. The boy's mother says she was unhappy to learn that school system policy allows alcohol and drug testing without parental consent.

The teen was given a week's worth of in-school suspension after officials found a cigarette lighter in his book bag.

The classmate who gave administrators the false report has not been punished.

It's good to hear that at least some parents are concerned with the Drug War's invasion of their children's privacy.

Parents for Sensible Drug Policy, anyone?

The idiot test

School officials in New Jersey are celebrating because they think their random student drug testing program is working.
The schools completed their second round of random drug testing Tuesday...None tested positive for use of drugs or alcohol.
The school subjects all students who participate in extracurricular activities to random urine and saliva testing.
"If you expect us to bring back a lot of positives you don't understand how the program works," [testing czar John] Graf said. "The biggest thing this policy does is deter kids from doing drugs."
Actually, all these policies do is deter at-risk kids from joining afterschool activities.

Ask yourself: what kid who smokes marijuana every now and then is going to sign up for the chess club or debate team knowing that they'll be forced to submit a dirty urine sample? Drug testing is just an idiot test.

According to the largest-ever study on the topic, school-based drug testing fails to reduce drug use by young people.

School officials are putting students at greater risk by pushing them toward the streets between the end of the school day and the time their parents come home from work. If educators are really concerned with keeping young people safe, they should be welcoming students into positive afterschool learning environments, which have been proven to reduce youth drug use.

And the testing is expensive, too.
The district received a $120,000 federal grant to run the program for three years.
Student drug testing does nothing to deter young people from doing drugs. All it does is invade their privacy, put them at greater risk, and flush taxpayers' money down the toilet - literally.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We're suing the feds!

SSDP sent out the following press release today. If you or someone you know has lost their financial aid because of the HEA drug provision, please get in touch with us ASAP!

Students Wanted: Help Sue the Government

Laws That Strip College Aid for Drug Convictions to be Challenged

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One of the largest student organizations in the country, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, is seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit challenging the law that denies federal financial aid to students convicted of drug offenses. Since taking effect in 2000, more than 175,000 students have been deprived of aid under the “drug provision” of the Higher Education Act (HEA), often for minor offenses such as possession of marijuana.

“Congress has failed to listen to the growing chorus of student voices demanding repeal of this discriminatory and counterproductive law,” said Scarlett Swerdlow, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “Far too many students have had their education held hostage by Drug War politics. It’s time to stand up and take our aid back.”

The lawsuit alleging that the HEA drug provision and comparable state measures are at odds with the U.S. Constitution is expected to be filed in federal court in Washington State. Potential claims in the lawsuit include violations of the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. In addition to losing their federal aid, students with drug convictions in 23 states, including Washington State, are also stripped of their state financial aid.

“Students should not have to serve a second sentence under the drug provision of the Higher Education Act,” said Adam Wolf, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “Countless Americans have been forced to sacrifice their education to unjust and self-defeating drug war policies. It’s time we put education over politics and restore financial aid.”

More than 250 organizations have called for repeal of the HEA drug provision, including the National Education Association, the Association for Addiction Professionals, the NAACP, and the Presbyterian Church. For a full list, see

Anyone affected by the HEA drug provision should call 1-866-4-HEA-FIX or e-mail to obtain further information about the lawsuit.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization with more than 115 college and high school chapters nationwide, is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.

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Gateway Propaganda

They’re at it again.

This week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched a campaign to tell young people that driving under the influence of marijuana is just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s called “Steer Clear of Pot”.

Before I get into why this campaign is a bad idea, let me first say this: I am not for kids driving around high. Young people who are just learning how to drive shouldn’t be doing anything distracting, whether they are text messaging friends, putting on make-up, or passing a bowl. Marijuana reduces reaction time and often slows judgment, which can be very dangerous when one is not used to the rules of the road. Furthermore, cars are the easiest place to be caught and arrested for marijuana possession. High-rides are simply not a good idea.

With that being said, I should note that there is also a large body of evidence showing that, for the most part, marijuana does not significantly alter a person’s risk of having a car accident. While these studies vary slightly, they all show that the risk of driving while stoned is significantly lower than driving while drunk.

In their press release, the ONDCP cites a study from a shock trauma unit that found that 19% of automobile crash victims under age 18 tested positive for marijuana. There are two major problems with this statistic:

1. Non-psychoactive trace levels of marijuana can be found in the body days and weeks after using it. And since most high school seniors admit to having smoked marijuana, it seems obvious that at least 19% of students involved in car crashes would be found with trace levels of marijuana in their system.

2. There is no account for the overlap of those found with marijuana and alcohol in their blood. It seems obvious that many teens who drink and drive also smoke marijuana. In this study, a teen who chugs a pint of vodka and takes a hit of a joint before getting into a car accident will show up in the 19% statistic of “marijuana-induced driving accidents”, even though the real cause of the accident was clearly the alcohol.

The misinformation perpetuated by the Steer Clear of Pot Campaign is part of a dangerous national trend. We first saw it when we were in the DARE program; there is no difference between drugs—they are all evil. And now, the ONDCP has declared an all out war on marijuana, identifying it as the biggest drug threat.

But when teens grow up thinking that marijuana is as dangerous as crack or meth, and then they finally experiment with marijuana (as most do), everything they’ve learned about truly dangerous drugs falls apart. “If marijuana’s not so bad... then crack must not be that bad either... right?”

And when we teach them that driving high is just as bad as driving drunk, and they finally drive an hour or two after smoking a joint and realize that it didn't make them run red lights or swerve off the road...

You got it. The Steer Clear of Pot campaign is nothing more than a gateway to drunk driving.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Take drugs, get AIDS, and die!

The federal government kicked off a campaign today aimed at scaring young people out of doing drugs by telling them that if they do, they could get AIDS.

Exemplifying the youth-oriented bent is a TV commercial featuring student actresses and actors from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public high school here.

In the commercial, a girl tells a friend via text messages that a mutual friend has contracted HIV from unprotected sex following a night of smoking marijuana.

The text messages read: "She got high; She got stupid; and now she has HIV."

You can watch the alarmist ad here.

The campaign leans heavily on student input, and organizers say they will be successful only to the extent that young people listen to their message.

But it looks like it's not going all that well so far.

Ellington students at the press conference, some of whom were in the commercial, said the NIDA campaign wouldn't necessarily keep them from drinking or doing drugs.
Surprise! Who'd have thought that young people don't trust the government's scare tactics?

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary... Do Time???

Two 10-year-old Florida girls were taken to jail for bringing a bag of parsley to school and pretending it was marijuana.

The girls were charged under a state law that makes it a crime to claim that a substance is a drug -- whether or not the item is intended for sale or distribution, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debra Johnson. They were taken to the Flagler County Inmate Facility and later released to their parents.

The girls were also suspended from school and ordered to attend drug awareness classes.

What's next, field sobriety tests for kids drinking root beer?

"Now listen, son, I want you to stand on one foot and sing your ABC's backwards."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Parents declare war on books, for the children

A group of Michigan parents, the Troy Community Coalition, is protesting retailer Urban Outfitters for carrying books and other products they say encourage youth drug use and promiscuous sex.
I guess they're trying to be edgy and to appeal to the 16- to 25-year-old crowd, along with the grunge clothes," Comiskey said. "But this is not the type of business we want in Troy. We want them to clean up their act if they plan to do business here."

The parents have even called the cops on the store.

Formal complaints have been made to the Troy police about the books, flasks and drinking and sex board games on the shelves. But residents were advised the store is operating within the law. A visit last week found some of the mentioned books and games.

"They may not be doing anything illegal, but it's not right," said Liz Fallert, 46, of Birmingham.

News flash: People can't be arrested for writing and selling books about sex and drugs.

But, in spite of the First Amendment, some of the parents are optimistic they're making an impact.

"I was glad to see they removed a book that had explicit photos and drawings of sexual positions," said Fallert, who had initially gone to the store to purchase "Kosherland," a Jewish spoof to the traditional "Candyland" board game.
Oh, really? Are you sure the reason the book is off the shelves isn't because it's so popular it sold out?

Regardless, the parents won't be satisfied until all their censorship demands have been met.

"I will be writing to the corporate offices, and if necessary may be planning something else, including a public protest," Comiskey said.

What have they got planned? A book burning ceremony in front of the store?