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Drug Headlines across the U.S. for the week of August 13 Edition


Wiretaps helped dismantle four drug distribution organizations supplying 40 percent of the crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," on the Big Island, U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo Jr. said yesterday. "Operation Capsize," an ongoing joint investigation involving federal law enforcement agencies, the IRS, U.S. Postal Service and the Hawaii County Police Department has so far netted 24 pounds of ice, $429,677 cash and the arrest of 47 suspects. The four groups imported more than 200 pounds of ice into Hawaii since 2002, with a street value of more than $1 million, Kubo said.
The four Big Island drug organizations imported drugs from Northern California aboard barges hidden in empty cattle containers, in the engine block and body panel of vehicles, on couriers riding aboard passenger airplanes and through the mail. Kubo said the group responsible for importing the most ice was headed by Audwin Aiwohi. Police raided Aiwohi's 50-acre ranch in Glenwood in May and seized $192,523 in cash, 17 firearms and 7 1/2 pounds of ice buried in containers on his property.
So far, only 19 of the 47 suspects have been charged in federal court. The others, whose actions involved less than the 50 grams of ice required for federal prosecution, could be charged in state courts. However, because Hawaii's wiretap law is more restrictive than federal law, the state cannot prosecute them using evidence obtained through the wiretaps.
State law requires the appointment of an attorney who will oppose wiretap applications when prosecutors appear before state judges seeking authorization. Federal law has no such requirement.

NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                                                   
By John Tierney
America has a serious drug problem, but it's not the "meth epidemic" getting so much publicity. It's the problem identified by William Bennett, the former national drug czar and gambler.
"Using drugs," he wrote, "is wrong not simply because drugs create medical problems; it is wrong because drugs destroy one's moral sense. People addicted to drugs neglect their duties."
This problem afflicts a small minority of the people who have tried methamphetamines, but most of the law-enforcement officials and politicians who lead the war against drugs. They're so consumed with drugs that they've lost sight of their duties.
Like addicts desperate for a high, they've declared meth the new crack, which was once called the new heroin (that title now belongs to OxyContin). With the help of the press, they're once again frightening the public with tales of a drug so seductive it instantly turns masses of upstanding citizens into addicts who ruin their health, their lives and their families.

Famed for the biggest trees in the world, Sequoia National Park is now No. 1 in another flora department: marijuana growing, with more land carved up by pot growers than any other park. Parts of Sequoia, including the Kaweah River drainage and areas off Mineral King Road, are no-go zones for visitors and park rangers during the April-to-October growing season, when drug lords cultivate pot on an agribusiness-scale fit for the Central Valley.

"It's so big that we have to focus our resources on one or two areas at a time, because otherwise it's beyond our scope," says Sequoia's lone special agent assigned to the marijuana war, who, for his own safety, can't be identified. He and two seasonal employees face an army of growers who turn expanses of land set aside as untouched wilderness into contraband cropland. "In a national park everything is protected," notes the agent. "You're not even supposed to take a pine cone. It's beyond what should be acceptable in today's society."

So far, park visitors and the growers rarely cross paths; the pot farms are in areas with little public appeal — remote slopes at lower, hotter elevations. However, officials report five encounters between gun-wielding growers and visitors on national forest lands in California this year.
Nearly five years ago, California voters approved a ballot measure that gave judges the discretion to send some nonviolent drug offenders to a drug treatment program instead of prison. About a quarter of those who entered the alternative treatment completed the program and had similar outcomes to traditional treatment methods, according to a new UCLA study.
The study released Monday by UCLA's Integrated Substance Abuse Programs sparked a renewed debate over how Proposition 36's results compare to alternative programs.  About 70 percent of those eligible under Proposition 36 entered treatment, and about 34 percent of the treated population completed the program, researchers found. Those figures, and the 25 percent completion rate for all those eligible under Proposition 36, are similar for other criminal justice referrals, said lead researcher Douglas Longshore, a behavioral scientist.

THE GUARDIAN                                                                                                                                      
CHAVEZ REIGNITES WAR OF WORDS WITH BUSH                                                                                   
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez escalated his war of words with America yesterday, when he accused the US drug enforcement administration (DEA) of spying, and said Venezuela was suspending cooperation with the agency. Mr Chávez, who regularly accuses the US of plotting against him, said "the DEA is not absolutely necessary for the fight against drug trafficking."

The DEA was using the fight against drug trafficking as a mask to support drug trafficking and to carry out intelligence in Venezuela against the government, Mr Chávez told reporters. Under those circumstances we decided to make a clean break with those accords, and we are reviewing them," Mr Chávez said, referring to the cooperative agreements under which the DEA has operated in Venezuela.

Prosecutors last month opened an investigation into the DEA's activities in Venezuela. "We have detected intelligence infiltration that threatened national security and defence," Mr Chávez said.  While he recognised that Venezuela is a transit point for Colombian cocaine, Mr Chávez said Venezuela's armed forces have made important advances against trafficking. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1544804,00.html

WALGREEN PULLS PSEUDOPHEDRINE FROM SHELVES                                                                        

Walgreen Co., the nation's largest drugstore chain, on Friday said it will move all products containing pseudoephedrine -- used to make methamphetamine -- behind the pharmacy counter in all stores nationwide by the end of October. Pseudoephedrine is found in cold medicines such as Sudafed, NyQuil and Tylenol Cold, and can be used to make the highly addictive, illegal drug.    

A growing number of retailers, including Target Corp., CVS Corp., and Albertsons Inc., as well as many state legislatures, are restricting the sale of over-the-counter cold medicines, in an effort to help law enforcement tackle the growing national problem of methamphetamine addiction.

Methamphetamine can be made using common household and agricultural ingredients following recipes easily found on the Internet.

According to a survey of law enforcement organizations conducted by the National Association of Counties and released in July, 58 percent of county law enforcement agencies now see meth as their largest drug problem. http://www.rednova.com/news/general/198721/walgreen_pulls_pseudoephedrine_from_shelves/

TUCSON CITIZEN                                                                                                                                       

A couple of hours before going to work, Scott Chubb would open a small bag and inhale a white, odorless, crystalline powder. The methamphetamine gave him a quick high. At work as a waiter at Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, dashing between his five tables, he felt jittery and frenetic. For seven years he used the drug, sleeping only a few hours before his shifts and sometimes not at all. He lost weight and looked gaunt. Dark circles appeared like bruises under his eyes. A $60 bag of meth had once lasted him all weekend; now it was gone in hours.

Then, in January 2004, he abruptly asked a co-worker to take over his shift. "I needed to leave," says Chubb, 31, a model, aspiring actor and waiter in Chicago who is in several recovery programs at once. "I needed to find help. I was living a double life. I quit cold turkey that day. I stopped using drugs, but it wasn't easy."

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, meth and chalk, is a fast-growing illegal stimulant that has been tried by more than 12 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Its presence in the workplace has also soared.                          http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/index.php?page=business&story_id=080805d1_meth

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER                                                                                                      
In the wake of a $2.8 million jury award last week to the family of a Leslie County man who died while being treated for drug addiction at a methadone clinic, state regulators are taking the first steps toward monitoring the deaths of clinic patients. "There is no investigation process for the state with the death of a client," said Mac Bell, administrator for the State Narcotic Authority, which oversees 11 methadone maintenance programs in Kentucky.

Bell said his office has no legal jurisdiction to investigate deaths reported to his agency. "When there's a death, that goes back to the clinic director -- the doctor in the program," he said. After a five-day trial in a wrongful-death lawsuit, a Perry County jury decided Friday that the Hazard Professional Associates clinic -- not a doctor and nurse named in the suit -- was negligent in the 2002 death of Jason Caldwell, 21, of Leslie County.

Caldwell was a former coal miner who was injured in a car wreck and became addicted to the powerful painkiller, OxyContin, said Gary C. Johnson, a Pikeville attorney who represented Caldwell's estate. Caldwell went to the methadone clinic in Hazard to "get off" OxyContin, but died five days later after receiving allegedly toxic doses of methadone, Johnson said. Bell said his agency receives reports of about five deaths a year at methadone clinics in Kentucky. The number of methadone patients is rising across the state -- as many as 1,800 patients are being treated in methadone clinics, Bell said.                                                                                                                            http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/12345126.htm

HAS TV GONE TO POT?                                                                                                                                    
Is Hollywood going one toke over the line? Marijuana use is cropping up on some critically acclaimed shows, and anti-drug forces fear the glamorization of pot could boost its use among youths.  

Pot is an ongoing theme on HBO's "Entourage" (Sundays, 10 p.m.), which centers on a rising young movie star and his New York buddies who have gone Hollywood. Sunday's episode features two teens getting high at a bat mitzvah.

Streetwise Maurice "Smoke" Williams (Kirk Jones) lit up on last week's premiere of "Over There" (Wednesdays, 10 p.m.), FX's gritty Iraq war drama.Marijuana is the core premise of Showtime dramedy "Weeds" (sneak peview Sunday, 11 p.m.; regular time Mondays, 10 p.m.), a dark version of "Desperate Housewives" suburbia with Mary-Louise Parker as a pot-dealing soccer mom. In Sunday's special preview, a teen sells pot to grade-schoolers until Parker's character blackmails him to stop.

Recurring or episodic pot themes also have fueled HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," FX's "Rescue Me" and Fox's "That' 70s Show."  Hollywood's embellishment of marijuana use is "irresponsible," says Tom Riley of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy. http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050806/LIFESTYLE01/508060360/-1/spider

A Fairfax County judge has ruled that key components of Virginia's drunken-driving laws are unconstitutional, citing an obscure, decades-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that could prompt similar challenges nationwide.
Virginia's law is unconstitutional because it presumes that an individual with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher is intoxicated, denying a defendant's right to a presumption of innocence, Judge Ian O'Flaherty ruled in dismissing charges against at least two alleged drunken drivers last month.
As a district judge, O'Flaherty's rulings do not establish any formal precedent, but word of the constitutional argument is spreading quickly among the defense bar. Every state has similar presumptions about intoxication at a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, so defense lawyers across the nation are likely to make similar arguments.

The federal government announced Thursday that it is stiffening the penalties for production and use of crystal meth.  Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, Attorney-General Irwin Cotler, and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan are to announce officially Thursday morning an increase in the maximum penalties for possession, trafficking, importation, exportation and production of methamphetamines, known in one form as speed or meth and in another as crystal meth.
Methamphetamine has been moved to Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which increases the penalty for production and distribution of crystal meth from 10 years to life in prison. The drug will now carry the same penalties as such drugs as cocaine and heroin. 
Earlier this year, Health Canada also proposed amendments to add four substances used in the production of methamphetamine to the list of controlled chemicals under the Precursor Control Regulations.
The possession of these "precursor chemicals," for the purposes of producing a controlled substance such as methamphetamine, would become an offence resulting in either a fine of up to $5000, up to three years imprisonment or both

Nearly two out of every 100 people who undergo pre-employment and random workplace drug screening in Hawaii test positive for crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," the state's largest drug testing laboratory has found.
Of the 9,419 prospective and current employees screened by Diagnostic Laboratory Services in the first three months of this year, 179, or 1.9 percent, tested positive for ice. In the previous 12 months, 1.8 percent tested positive.
"We always knew ice was a problem here, but we didn't look at it in an organized way," said Carl Linden, the lab's scientific director.

PITTSBURG POST GAZETTE                                                                                                                      
Two of Pennsylvania's most successful drug and alcohol treatment programs offer intense therapy with a minimum 90-day stay, regardless of your income or insurance plan. That's the good news.  The bad news: To get in, you must be an inmate at the Allegheny County Jail or the State Correctional Institution at Chester, near Philadelphia.

This is the state of modern drug and alcohol treatment. As governments have barely held the line on public funding for substance abuse programs in communities, they have shifted more money and attention to providing treatment after an abuser has committed a crime. Where once the debate was whether to treat addicts or imprison them, we now do both.

Nearly $3 million was cut from the state drug and alcohol budget this year, but the state is spending more than $28,000 annually per inmate -- nearly $32 million at SCI Chester alone -- for inmates' lodging, food and security as they kick their addictions and turn their lives around. More than 60 percent of new inmates to Pennsylvania's state prisons are diagnosed with a drug or alcohol dependency. And almost all the recent growth in Pennsylvania's inmate population (41,347 as of April 30, up 525 from a year ago) can be attributed to drugs and property crimes, says Jeffrey A. Beard, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

PITTSBURG POST GAZETTE                                                                                                                    
Every year, Pennsylvania police officers and drug agents make 50,000 new drug arrests. Since 1997, the state has seen a 142 percent increase in admissions for heroin treatment and there's been a 16 percent increase in drunken driving arrests.  Yet Pennsylvania's drug and alcohol programs this year face a reduction of almost $3 million in state funding, which state officials say won't affect treatment programs, and they stand to lose millions in federal funding over the next three years.

It's a trend that goes back years: Addictions and alcohol abuse rise while funding to treat them remains flat or goes down. Allegheny County, as one example, has virtually the same funding for drug and alcohol treatment today as it did in 2000, but it's serving half again as many people. Should we care?                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05219/550111.stm

EVI                                                                                                                                                               PREVENTION SCOOP
The National PTA Convention this year featured Marsha Rosenbaum, pro-legalization advocate talking on the topic of teens and drugs. This is the second year that Ms. Rosenbaum spoke to the national convention.


 Drug prevention advocates from across the country have written to Ms. Anna Weselak, President of the National PTA. The letters of protest have noted that Ms. Rosenbaum is the Director of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the largest pro-drug organizations in the country.  This group works to normalize and legalize the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs.


 Ms. Rosenbaum is also the director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s "Safety First" project that stresses that children are going to experiment with drugs anyway, so they should be taught how to use drugs responsibly…


Susie Dugan, Executive Director

PRIDE-Omaha, Inc.



For the entire article, and instructions on how to contact the National PTA, click on www.educatingvoices.org/EVIPreventionScoop.asp


Faces & Voices Rising! Recovery in Action Summit Just One Month Away
Join us in Washington, DC to be inspired to take the next steps in recovery advocacy!
Hotel registration deadline extended to August 13, 2005.
Summit registration deadline: August 26, 2005.

Raise your voice in the nation's capitol and experience being part of building our national movement!
  • Connect and strategize with other recovery advocates
  • Find out how the recovery community is organizing to change public attitudes and policies
  • Take home new skills and tools that you can use to set change in motion in your community and build the growing network of grassroots recovery community organizations and recovery advocates
  • Put your advocacy into practice
  • Be inspired to take the next steps

Join with other people in recovery, their family member, friends and allies - recovery advocates from around the country - as we take the next steps in our campaign to end discrimination, broaden social understanding and achieve a just response to addiction as a public health crisis.

Faces & Voices of Recovery is hosting this important convening so that we can share our experiences and expertise with one another and policymakers in the nation's capitol. You will hear from some of the nation's foremost addiction recovery experts, examine a variety of tough issues and gain the tools you need to strengthen your recovery advocacy.

In addition to an exciting, hands-on strategic planning and skills building day on September 7 and other activities that will build our movement from the ground up, we will be kicking off Recovery Month 2005 at a Washington Nationals baseball game and sponsoring a Recovery Month luncheon on Capitol Hill on September 8. We look forward to seeing you this September!