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Drug Headlines across the U.S. for the week of October 23 Edition

Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 23:19:44 -0400
Subject: MOMSTELL: Headlines across the Nation week of October 23,2005
From: Sharon L Smith <momstell@juno.com>

Three Baltimore-area judges leveled blunt criticism at Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration yesterday, contending that a shortage of funding has made it all but impossible for them to sentence addicted lawbreakers to long-term drug treatment rather than jail or prison.
The judges told a House subcommittee overseeing substance abuse issues that they had grown increasingly tired of being told that defendants they had sentenced to treatment would have to wait as long as 18 months for an inpatient slot to open. Defendants cost the state more money sitting behind bars waiting for openings, the judges said, and often see their jail terms end before a treatment slot becomes available.
The judges said the state health department, by failing to make enough treatment slots available, was effectively violating a state law that empowers judges to commit defendants with serious drug problems to inpatient treatment and that requires the health department make room for them promptly.
One night last December, a Houston man drove away from a downtown bar and had an accident. After taking a breath test, he joined 98,000 other Texans charged that year with driving while intoxicated.
The case's outcome was far from routine, however.
In September, a judge threw out the charge after a defense lawyer raised questions about not only the scientific integrity of the machine that gauges sobriety, but about the state's breath-alcohol testing program, too.
Those questions — sparked by the discovery that Texas disregards the manufacturer's guidelines for operating the machine — potentially could affect thousands of cases throughout the state as authorities and defense lawyers debate the credibility of breath tests.

An Afghan identified as one of the world's most wanted drug kingpins, who has been linked to the Taliban and once boasted that selling heroin to Americans was a form of jihad, has been extradited from Afghanistan to face drug smuggling and other charges, federal officials in New York announced yesterday.
The suspect, Baz Mohammad, 47, was accused of leading an organization that smuggled heroin worth $25 million into this country in a 15-year operation that controlled poppy fields in Afghanistan, heroin refining plants there and in
Pakistan, and a trafficking network that reached around the world to the streets of New York, Washington, Chicago and other American cities.
Mr. Mohammad was also accused of using drug profits to support terrorism and the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist party that ruled Afghanistan for years and was allied with Al Qaeda and
Osama bin Laden. While the Taliban was ousted by American troops in 2001, it has remained a force in large areas of Afghanistan, especially along the eastern border with Pakistan, and the drug money bought its protection for poppy crops, heroin laboratories, shipments and conspirators, the federal officials said.
Afghanistan has registered a drop in the cultivation of opium for the first time since the fall of the Taleban, the United Nations says.
The area under cultivation for opium has dropped by 21%, says the head of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime.
But the actual output has not changed much and Afghanistan is still the largest producer of opium in the world, accounting for almost 90% of supplies.
Marc Emery differs in so many ways from most people accused of big-time drug dealing, it's hard to know where to start.  
Even though he faces the possibility of decades in a U.S. prison for selling marijuana seeds to Americans, Emery regularly welcomes a steady stream of journalists. That's an approach most people accused of drug dealing avoid instinctively, or on advice of their attorneys.
Not Emery, founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party, who maintains that his legal troubles spring from the U.S. government's desire to muzzle him and the movement he claims to lead.
He relishes his reputation as the so-called "Prince of Pot" and "Mayor of Vansterdam," the latter a reference to Vancouver and Amsterdam, the Dutch city where marijuana can be purchased from "coffee shops." He proudly proclaims his long-term vision to "overgrow the government" by spreading marijuana faster than drug agents could eradicate it.
Unlike others accused of drug dealing, Emery has for years made no effort to hide the fact he earns his living from marijuana, making millions selling marijuana seeds and paraphernalia through his Vancouver store and the Internet. It's that marijuana-centered business that has landed Emery in hot water in the U.S., where a Seattle-based grand jury has indicted him and two of his employees on drug and money-laundering charges.
In a move that divided the city's famously left-leaning politicians, the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday voted to create a city department to distribute medicinal marijuana.
If it eventually comes into being -- something that is doubtful at this point -- the Office of Compassionate Use would become the first such municipal office in the country.
The vote marks the latest salvo by the council in a long-running battle over medicinal pot. Three years ago, the council allowed medicinal marijuana to be given away on the steps of City Hall as journalists from around the world recorded the moment.
This time, however, council members didn't seem to be thumbing their noses at U.S. drug laws. The council made clear Tuesday it had no intention to establish the office unless it wins a legal fight with federal officials in a court of law.
The state approved a policy this week that opens the door for medical marijuana distributors to collect and pay state sales tax.

The policy, while requiring marijuana retailers to feed state coffers just like department stores or any other California retailer, also considers their unique fear of being targeted by federal authorities because of legal questions surrounding their product.
While California approved medical marijuana in 1996, it remains illegal under federal law.
Under the new policy passed by the state Board of Equalization, businesses can get what is known as a sellers permit, allowing them to collect sales tax, without indicating whether their merchandise is lawful to sell.
EMPLOYERS DEAL WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUES                                                                          The number of Oregonians carrying a medical marijuana card is growing each year and more than ever employers are finding themselves walking a fine line between their companies’ drug-use policies and Oregon law.

Oregon employers and medical marijuana card holders await a November Court of Appeals decision about whether companies must accommodate employees with marijuana in their system. The decision stems from a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Columbia Forest Products in Klamath Falls.

The employee had obtained a medical marijuana card in 1999 and was later fired after a urine test indicated the presence of THC, the active chemical in marijuana. The lawsuit contends a positive drug test based on a urine sample doesn’t prove the employee used or had marijuana at the workplace. A blood test is a more accurate measuring tool.Another factor being considered is what constitutes “reasonable accommodations.” 

CHICO ENTERPRISE RECORD (CALIFORNIA)                                                                                     

Thefts from marijuana gardens in Butte County are increasing in number, and they're becoming increasingly violent, authorities believe. Plants grown legally for medicinal purposes — often in gardens visible from roadways — have created popular target for thieves. In the past two weeks, police agencies have responded to three incidents where violence accompanied attempts to burglarize property with pot plants — turning two of them into armed robberies, and one into an arson investigation.

On Oct. 6 three men wearing camouflage clothing cleaned out a small medicinal marijuana grow off Highway 70 near Yankee Hill. The men ran from the property, firing a shot in the general direction of the victim. He was growing 12 plants for friends and showed authorities three prescriptions from a physician.

Five days later, a Chico woman who grows medical marijuana on property owned by her mother near Third and Mangrove avenues heard boards being torn away from a fence beside the garden and went to investigate. She discovered a male adult pulling her mature marijuana plants through slants in the fence. When she began a tug-of-war with the man, he produced a small-caliber handgun and reportedly said, "I have a gun."

Women made up 7 percent of all inmates in state and federal prisons last year and accounted for nearly one in four arrests, the government reported yesterday. A co-author of a Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Paige Harrison, linked an upswing in the rate of arrest for women to their increased participation in drug crimes, violent crimes and fraud.

The number of women incarcerated in state and federal prisons in 2004 was up 4 percent compared with 2003, nearly double the 1.8 percent increase among men, the study said. In 1995, women made up 6.1 percent of all inmates in those facilities. "The number of incarcerated women has been growing at a rate nearly double that of men, due in large part to sentencing policies in the war in drugs," The Sentencing Project, a group promoting alternatives to prison, said in a statement.

The group said the number of drug offenders in prisons and jails has risen from 40,000 in 1980 to more than 450,000 today. According to FBI figures, law officers in 2004 made more arrests for drug violations than for any other offense -- about 1.7 million arrests, or 12.5 percent of all arrests. Those sentenced for drug offenses made up 55 percent of federal inmates in 2003, the report said.                                      http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05297/593987.stm

AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                                                                          
Nearly two-thirds of the people who take the methamphetamine known as ice are dependent on the drug, new research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) shows.The finding was revealed in the first major study of Australia's methamphetamine market, to be released in Sydney on Thursday.

Crystalline methamphetamine - also known as crystal meth, crystal, shabu, glass and base - is an increasingly popular party drug, with Australian Customs officers seizing several massive shipments in recent years. Estimated to be 10 times more powerful than traditional amphetamines such as speed, the potentially lethal designer drug can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed.

Australia's first major seizure of the drug came in December 2000, when police and Customs officers intercepted 79 kg of ice, with an estimated street value of $15.8 million, in shipping containers sent from China.In May 2003, police seized a record 223 kg, with a street value of $112 million, shipped from China to Sydney in boxes of rice noodles.


Two more raids that month uncovered further large quantities of ice.The latest research from the NDARC, which is based at the University of NSW, was funded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund.Law enforcement, Customs and health officials will attend the release of the report on Thursday                                                                                                                  http://www.smh.com.au/news/NATIONAL/Twothirds-of-ice-users-hooked-study/2005/10/26/1130239552324.html

Substance Abuse Policy Research Program
One Leadership Place
Greensboro, NC 27410
Tel: 336-286-4548
Fax: 336-286-4434

Washington, DC -- Every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment generates $7 in monetary benefits for society, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Published in the on-line early edition of the peer-reviewed journal, Health Services Research, the study finds that the average cost of substance abuse treatment is $1,583, resulting in monetary benefits of $11,487 through reduced medical expenses, reduced costs of crime and increased employment earnings.

"Policy makers are generally more inclined to support treatment programs for substance abuse if they pay for themselves through reductions in other types of costs, such as health care, criminal justice expenses, social programs, and unemployment benefits. This study clearly demonstrates the financial benefits of providing treatment for drug and alcohol problems," according to Susan Ettner, lead author and professor of general internal medicine and health services research at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and School of Public Health.

The researcher team used data from 2,567 clients in 43 treatment programs in 13 California counties during 2000 and 2001, through the California Treatment Outcome Project (CalTOP).

The research team estimated cost of treatment for an individual by multiplying the number of days spent in each treatment setting, such as residential or outpatient, by the average daily cost of each mode of treatment, estimated using cost data collected from treatment providers.

Monetary benefits associated with treatment were estimated using administrative records as well as data provided by each client prior to treatment and nine months after treatment began. The study examined costs of medical care, mental health services, criminal activity, earnings, and related costs of government programs such as unemployment and public aid.

The California Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) provided primary support for the study.

"Substance abuse treatment is often needed by those who are indigent and are therefore dependent on services that are publicly financed. Given the stigma associated with substance abuse and the skepticism about the value of rehabilitation, financing for substance abuse treatment often runs into the question of whether or not it is beneficial in human and monetary terms. This study adds to a growing body of research showing the benefits of substance abuse treatment," according to Ettner.

The study's other findings:

  • Treatment costs of clients who began with outpatient care totaled $838 compared to $2,791 for those who began in residential care.
  • Reductions were seen in hospital inpatient, emergency room and mental health services costs, but only the $223 reduction in emergency room costs was statistically significant.
  • Reduction in the cost of victimization and other criminal activities averaged $5,676.
  • No significant changes were seen related to unemployment or disability costs. However, welfare payments increased slightly, perhaps due to increased referrals to public aid programs.

The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) implemented CalTOP to allow regular assessments of drug abuse treatment clients and their outcomes so counties can adjust programs to address changing needs over time.

The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a $54 million program that funds research into policies related to alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need--the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

Last Chance To Weigh In On FY 2006 Funding For the National Guard Counterdrug Program     October 27, 2005


The President’s FY 2006 budget recommended $169.4 million for the Governor’s State Plans program, within the National Guard Counterdrug Program. The House passed its version of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for FY 2006, which included $185.4 million for the program. The Senate passed its version of the bill and included $268.1 million. The next step in the process is for this bill to go to Conference.

Historically, when a bill goes to Conference the House and Senate compromise on a funding level midway between the higher and lower levels each house has included for a particular program. However, with enough advocacy from the field, it is possible that the National Guard’s Counterdrug program could receive the Senate passed level of $268.1 million. Therefore, it is critical that you fax the members of your congressional delegation NOW to help ensure that this program receives the Senate passed level of $268.1 million.

The National Guard Counterdrug Governor's State Plans Program provides invaluable mission and programmatic support to community coalitions and their partners around the nation. The National Guard is uniquely qualified and positioned to support community, state and national goals to eliminate the use of illegal drugs, as well as their production, importation and distribution. If this program receives the House passed level, it will reduce the number of soldiers and airman available to support community anti-drug coalitions and law enforcement in their efforts to prevent and combat illegal drug use by more than 700.


Republicans: Chairman Ted Stevens (AK), Thad Cochran (MS), Arlen Specter (PA), Pete Domenici (NM), Christopher Bond (MO), Mitch McConnell (KY), Richard Shelby (AL), Judd Gregg (NH), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Conrad Burns (MT), Bill Young (10th/FL), David Hobson (7th/OH), Henry Bonilla (23rd/TX), Randy Cunningham (50th/CA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (11th/NJ), Todd Tiahrt (4th/KS), Roger Wicker (1st/MS), Jack Kingston (1st/GA) and Kay Granger (12th/TX)

Democrats: Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (HI), Robert Byrd (WV), Patrick Leahy (VT), Tom Harkin (IA), Byron Dorgan (ND), Richard Durbin (IL), Harry Reid (NV), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Barbara Mikulski (MD), John Murtha (12th/PA), Norman Dicks (6th/WA), Martin Olav Sabo (5th/MN), Peter Visclosky (1st/IN), James Moran (8th/VA) and Marcy Kaptur (9th/OH)

To send a fax to your legislator, click here http://capwiz.com/cadca/home/.

If you would like to personalize your letter with examples from your state/community, please email abory@cadca.org for a MS Word version of the sample letter.