Sharon L Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
MEXICO, U.S. JOINING TO COMBAT 'NARCO-VIOLENCE'
ON THE BORDER
Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agents are
combining strengths to place a "unified chokehold"
on international drug traffickers who jeopardize
public safety on both sides of the border,
Mexico's attorney general said Thursday.
Daniel Cabeza de Vaca joined U.S. Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales in announcing several initiatives
— many conceived during bilateral talks in Houston
last month — aimed at the kind of "narco-violence"
that has terrorized Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
The commitments include improved information and
technology sharing; coordination of tactical
responses to crime-gang warfare and joint
training, the two officials said.
Gonzales said the two nations are working to
improve mutual trust, which is "absolutely
essential to be effective in dealing with this
kind of problem." Although cooperation is "good,"
he said it should be better.
STATE, FEDERAL STATUTES CLASH ON MEDICINAL USES
Muddy waters swirl around the discrepancies between
Colorado's medical marijuana law and the federal law
that forbids possession of the drug.
Those murky waters seeped into Pueblo on Monday when
Yvonne Martinez, who has a state-issued license to
possess marijuana for medicinal purposes, called
police to report that someone had stolen a dozen
cannabis plants from the greenhouse in her yard.
Overnight, Martinez, 45, says she went from crime
victim to suspect, largely because she reported the
theft to police.
"If I was a (drug) dealer, I sure wouldn't have
called the police," Martinez said. "I don't have
anything to hide. Now (the marijuana) is in the
hands of someone who's using it illegally."
Martinez said she was open with police about her pot
growing operation and showed them her medical
marijuana card. She thought law enforcement's
involvement ended there, but it didn't.
Deputy Chief John Ercul said Pueblo police have
notified federal authorities about the marijuana
Martinez was growing.
NEW PORT NEWS
DAILY PRESS (VA)
JUDGE CONTINUES DISMISSALS OF DRUNKEN DRIVING
CASES; PROSECUTORS UNABLE TO APPEAL
A Fairfax County judge who believes Virginia's
drunken driving laws are unconstitutional has
resumed his practice of dismissing all DWI cases
brought into his court, leaving prosecutors unable
to appeal his rulings.
General District Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty dismissed
two drunken driving cases back in July after a
defense attorney successfully argued that the
Virginia law presuming intoxication at blood-alcohol
levels of 0.08 or higher violates an obscure 1985
U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Since then, prosecutors have done their best to keep
DWI cases out of O'Flaherty's courtroom by
temporarily dropping the charges and obtaining
indictments in Circuit Court.
Now, though, O'Flaherty is no longer allowing
prosecutors to bypass his courtroom, said Fairfax
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr.
O'Flaherty on Wednesday dismissed a DWI case against
a driver whose blood-alcohol level was .20, more
than double the legal limit. On Thursday he did it
again with a driver whose blood-alcohol level was
.10, Horan said.
Horan said a quirk in Virginia law makes it
impossible for prosecutors to appeal when a district
court judge decides a law is unconstitutional.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
CONGRESS URGES A MORE VIGOROUS US EFFORT TO FIGHT
Feeling pressure from their grass roots, lawmakers
in Congress are pushing the Bush administration to
do more about the nation's fastest-growing drug
Legislation already on the fast track focuses on
punishment for meth makers and dealers, ways to stem
the flow of the drug into the United States from
Mexico and other countries, and stricter controls on
cold remedies and other medicines containing
chemicals used to make meth.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike are
outspoken about what they see as the
administration's slow response.
"I don't believe the White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy has gotten the message that a
more comprehensive, coordinated effort is needed,"
says Rep. Mark Souder (R) of Indiana, chairman of
the House drug policy subcommittee. That's one of
Mr. Souder's gentler criticisms. He has also
suggested that White House "drug czar" John Walters
might have to step down, and he called "laughable"
some of the White House data on meth labs and users.
Among other things, lawmakers criticize the
administration's decision to end the $804 million
Justice Assistance Program, which funds regional
drug task forces. "We want a federal ... strategy to
attack meth that is equal to the urgency and action
that's taking place in so many communities around
the United States," says Rep. Rick Larsen (D) of
Washington, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional
Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine.
"Congress is not convinced that that is happening."
LEGISLATORS PREPARE BILL IN RESPONSE TO METH
Rep. Elaine Harvey is having a bill drafted to make
it clear that a new Wyoming law protecting children
from methamphetamine also applies to an unborn
child. Last week, a state district judge in Lander
dismissed a child endangerment case against a woman
whose newborn child tested positive for
methamphetamine because the state law did not
specifically say it applied to fetuses.
Harvey, R-Lovell, was the chief sponsor of the 2004
felony child endangerment law the defendant, Michele
Ann Foust, 31, was charged under.
"I thought we were covered. The intent was to
protect unborn children but apparently this is a
gray area," Harvey said. The law was designed to
punish parents who endanger their children by making
or taking meth. Harvey said she will take her
proposed changes to the law to a meeting of the
Governor's Task Force on Drug Endangered Children
this week in Cheyenne.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor in the Foust case, Ed
Newell, said he will also seek legislation to attack
the problem, but through existing laws rather than
by changing the child endangerment law. "I don't
want to jump into that whole abortion briar patch,"
Newell said. "I have no interest in spawning a lot
of pro-choice, pro-life debates." He suggested
amending the law against use of a controlled
substance to increase the penalty for a pregnant
user. A second step would be to require a mandatory
minimum sentence for people who deliver meth to a
State policy-makers have struggled with the question
of how society should deal with women's prenatal
SWELLING POT CROP STYMIES OFFICIALS
Wary eyes search for rattlesnakes in the desert
grasses covering the dry hills. The scorched remains
of pine trees from an old wildfire tower overhead.
Then, hidden beneath a thicket of brush,
bright-green plants stand out. In terraced dirt,
nurtured by an elaborate sprinkler system, 465
marijuana plants have been tucked away, obscured by
the winding branches of vine maple and alder bushes.
It's a remote area of north-central Washington's
Wen-atchee National Forest, bordering the Entiat
Wildlife Refuge to the south and an apple orchard to
It's also a small find. Law-enforcement officials
have seized thousands of plants in Washington state
in recent months, forcing them to abandon their
ongoing battle on methamphetamine for days at a
time. Some blame the post-Sept. 11 border crackdown
that slowed the flow of marijuana from western
Canada. Others say increasing enforcement in
California and Oregon is pushing pot production by
Mexican nationals north.
Regardless, these areas are wreaking havoc on
counties where huge tracts of open space stretch
COURT WATCHERS KEEP TABS ON CLAY COUNTY DRUG
Group tries to hold system accountable.
For more than a year, John Becknell has spent nearly
15 hours every week painstakingly taking notes in
the front row of Clay County courtrooms. He is one
of about 70 people who have volunteered to monitor
drug cases that pass through the courts, with the
goal of holding prosecutors and judges accountable
in the face of Clay County's epidemic drug problem.
Becknell and his "court watchers" track every local
drug and alcohol case through a database and plan to
issue periodic reports. The first report, published
in January in the Manchester newspaper, summarized
835 felony and misdemeanor cases during a
three-month period the previous summer.
The report made no recommendations or conclusion
about how cases were handled. Becknell said the next
report will analyze why cases are dismissed and how
the court system deals with repeat offenders.
JUMP-START DISCUSSION ABOUT METH
On Sept. 21, I awoke at my usual 6 a.m. to the news.
That morning it concerned a suspected clandestine
methamphetamine lab being searched in New
Cumberland. After more than 25 years in law
enforcement, news of this kind has almost become
mundane. As a coincidence, I was scheduled that day
to teach a group of area police officers on the
effects of clandestine labs, specifically
methamphetamine. We would discuss such topics as the
active ingredients for such a mixture, the origins
of meth, the effects on the community and perhaps
most importantly, the inherent dangers in a
On Sept. 23, I
opened my copy of The Patriot-News and was, to say
the least, amazed. Not at the previous day's photo
of one of two men accused of making meth displaying
a common, vulgar hand gesture. No, I was amazed at
the reaction of our community.
MARIJUANA BACKERS REMOVE WOMAN'S BILLBOARD PHOTO
marijuana advocacy group on Wednesday removed a
controversial photo of a woman's battered face from
its billboard urging voters on Nov. 1 to legalize
small amounts of marijuana. But the group's message
remains the same. The nonprofit group, Safer
Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER),
replaced the controversial ad with a simple white
billboard with the slogan: "Alcohol use makes
domestic violence 8 times more likely ... Marijuana
use does not. Vote yes on I-100."
If passed, I-100 would make it legal for anyone 21
or older to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana in
Denver. It would not pre-empt state law, which makes
possession a misdemeanor. The SAFER group, which
collected enough signatures to put the initiative on
the November ballot, argues that marijuana is a
safer alternative to alcohol by linking recreational
pot use with a reduction in rates of domestic
"We don't back down from the message," said Mason
Tvert, 23, director of SAFER. "The ads were intended
to be controversial, but we decided to take steps to
ensure that the message was not drowned out by
emotional reactions." Domestic violence groups have
accused SAFER of misleading the public and
exploiting the tragedy of abused women for their own
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
EDITORIAL: IT'S TIME TO TOUGHEN POT LAWS
Feel-good theory is rubbing up against reality. San
Francisco is finally cracking down on its runaway
pot-club industry. Dispelling the clouds of wishful
thinking has taken far too long. The
medical-marijuana cause and the city's trusting
belief system have needed a wake-up call for months.
After initial jousting, Mayor Gavin Newsom and city
supervisors, with board member Ross Mirkarimi doing
the heavy lifting, are close to agreement on ending
a chaotic, even dangerous, pot scene.
NEW YORK TIMES
USE BY YOUTH SOAR, STUDY SAYS
The use of sleeping
pills among children and very young adults rose 85
percent from 2000 to 2004, in yet another sign that
parents and doctors are increasingly turning to
prescription medications to solve childhood health
and behavioral problems.
And about 15 percent of
people under age 20 who received sleeping pills were
also being given drugs to treat attention deficit
and hyperactivity disorder, according to the study
by Medco Health Solutions, a managed-care company
that makes estimates about medication use in the
whole population based on extrapolations from its
own data. Drugs used to treat attention disorders
can cause insomnia.
Few of the
prescriptions given to children and young adults
have the approval of the Food and Drug
Administration because no sleep medication has been
approved for use in children under 18. Still,
doctors commonly use medications for patients and
disorders for which the drugs have never received
formal approval, particularly when those patients
DRUG DEALERS IN TORONTO LAUGHING
Two weeks ago, Ann McKenny and Anne Clune stumbled
upon a cache of used needles and "safer crack kit"
paraphernalia -- left mere steps from the children's
playground in the Sumach-Shuter park in Toronto. The
two Cabbagetown residents were appalled, not just at
the discovery hypodermic syringes, crack pipes,
matches, alcohol pads and matches "lying loose" in
the grass, but at the city of Toronto and Toronto
public health logos emblazoned on many of the items.
They even found a
pamphlet from The Works (a public health needle
exchange program) which suggests people (drug users,
one supposes) call 416-392-0250 with any questions.
McKenny said she reported their find to the police
and the city's parks department. She has yet to
receive a response from either.
As she pointed out
to me yesterday, the "very active" children's
playground is also kitty-corner to Nelson Mandela
Elementary School and a community arena. "I was most
concerned because this is a park that's well-used
particularly by small kids ... who have no idea how
dangerous these things are," McKenny
Reducing discrimination against people with
addictions and those in recovery would not only
reduce barriers to treatment but also would save
society millions, perhaps billions, of dollars,
advocates told members of Congress this week. A
panel of the American Bar Association's (ABA)
Standing Committee on Substance Abuse appeared
at a Capitol Hill briefing called by the
Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and
detailed for lawmakers a series of recommendations
for reducing stigma against people with alcohol or
other drug addictions.
"The concern was not only to the overwhelmingly
negative effect such policies have had on those
wanting to make their lives better, but on the
millions of dollars the failure to allow appropriate
treatment is costing the American public," said
attorney and ABA substance-abuse committee chair
Barbara Howard."One of the hardest steps for any
addict or alcoholic to take is to ask for help,"
said Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), who co-chairs the
bipartisan caucus with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.),
as he opened the hearing. "... All too often, doors
are slammed in their face, or basic public services
are denied. It's time to end the discrimination
against people who need treatment for chemical
addiction." Ramstad called on Congress and the Bush
administration to pass parity legislation for
addiction treatment and improve access to care.
The recommendations sprung from a Join Together
panel convened in 2002, with assistance by the ABA
Standing Committee on Substance Abuse, to examine
public policies that intentionally or
unintentionally discriminate against people with
addictions. The panel looked at issues like access
to health care, employment, and public benefits, as
well as policies that present a barrier to
treatment. In 2003, the panel issued its
recommendations in a publication titled,
"Ending Discrimination Against People with Alcohol
and Drug Problems."
The ABA has adopted a pair of policies arising from
the recommendations, including a position against
addiction discrimination and a call to revise state
insurance laws -- known as UPPL provisions -- that
effectively bar emergency-room physicians from
screening patients for alcohol abuse and referring
them to treatment. Also speaking at the briefing
were attorney and addiction counselor Michael J.
Sweeney, assistant director of the Oregon Attorney
Assistance Program and cofounder of the
Oregon Partnership, and Eric Sterling, president
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.
Sweeney detailed the argument for repealing the UPPL
laws, saying that resulting emergency-room screening
and brief interventions could save the federal
Medicare program $1.1 billion annually and save
Medicaid $500 million per year. Sterling focused on
ABA recommendations that people with drug
convictions but no evidence of current drug use
should not be barred from obtaining student loans,
grants, scholarships, or government training
programs; that people with nonviolent drug
convictions but no current drug use not be banned
from receiving cash assistance or food stamps from
the government; and that public-housing agencies
help people with addictions obtain treatment rather
than banning them from subsidized housing, as long
as they pose no threat to others.
Sterling noted that 178,000 youths were denied
education benefits last year because of drug
convictions, and that two million juveniles have
been arrested for drug offenses in the past decade.
"It's a mistake to have a policy that blocks them
from getting an education that would allow them to
have a more productive life," he told Join Together.
About a dozen Congressional staffers attended the
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