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Drug Headlines across the U.S. for the week of August 21 Edition



A children's soft drink designed to look exactly like beer has been condemned as "dangerous" and "inappropriate" by anti-alcohol campaigners, who fear that it will encourage under-age drinking. Kids' Beer, a non-alcoholic drink from Japan which tastes similar to cola, is expected to arrive in shops in Britain soon.
It is sold in brown glass bottles and has a frothy, lager-like head when poured. The labels, which depict cartoon characters, carry the slogan: "Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink."  

One advertisement for Kids' Beer, known as "kodomo biiru" in Japan, shows a boy crying because he has failed a maths test and then weeping for joy after drinking the beverage. Another reads: "For you who cannot drink, a bubbly head that you will like and a fizzy flavour that spreads refreshment through your body - perfect for those evenings when you want to be a bit like an adult." The advertisement shows a man clinking his beer glass with his young daughter's glass of Kids' Beer.                                                                        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/08/21/wbeer21.xml

THE NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                                            

Though we are fortunate to have such an astute observer of national drug policy as Sally Satel, "A Whiff of 'Reefer Madness' in U.S. Drug Policy" (Commentary, Aug. 16) is unfair at best in presenting the true picture about why national leaders have particularly focused on marijuana use among youth. Our decision to drive attention toward marijuana was borne primarily in new, unsettling scientific data pointing to marijuana use alone as a major risk factor in mental illness, roadside accidents, cognitive impairment and poor performance in school.

The theory that marijuana users are more likely than nonusers to go on to other drugs - while indisputably true - ranks toward the middle of the list in an age when marijuana use alone by youths is causing major problems in treatment centers worldwide. It is precisely this new research that is forcing governments in Europe to reconsider their soft marijuana policies.  Interestingly, the troubling facts about marijuana have not accompanied a widespread rise in arrests or incarceration for the use of that drug.

By contrast, policy makers have wisely turned their attention to educational efforts, like the national antidrug media campaign. It's not the magic bullet, of course, but it is surely better than doing nothing.

Kevin A. Sabet
Oxford, England
The writer is a former speechwriter for the White House Office of National Drug Policy                                                                               


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents arrested more than 160 people during raids yesterday and Thursday on three Mexican and Colombian drug distribution rings suspected of delivering methamphetamines in the United States to more than 22,700 buyers a month.

The raids culminated an extensive 10-month DEA-led sting investigation known as "Operation Three Hour Tour" and resulted in the seizure of 3,163 pounds of cocaine, 55 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 pounds of heroin, 9 ounces of crack cocaine and 10,000 doses of Ecstasy, DEA spokesman Garrison K. Courtney said.

Mr. Courtney said the raids, which included other federal agencies, were part of the DEA's sustained effort to target major drug trafficking organizations. He noted that among the weapons seized were several high-powered rifles, including a 50-caliber assault rifle with armor-piercing ammunition.

"The streets from Bogota to Los Angeles are no longer a free trade zone for the criminals arrested today," said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy.
The arrests came a day after the Bush administration announced plans to spend $50 million to combat the growing methamphetamine epidemic, including the building of a training laboratory for police agencies and $16.2 million in grants to focus on the treatment of addicts.

The DEA has said that clandestine laboratories in California and Mexico are the primary sources of supply for methamphetamine available in the United States. Prices for the drug vary throughout different regions of the United States, ranging from $3,500 per pound in parts of California and Texas to $21,000 per pound in southeastern and northeastern regions of the country.


Amid mounting state and national attention on methamphetamine abuse, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the state agency overseeing drug treatment are promoting a 2-1-1 information line for victims of substance abuse.

Rell and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on Friday urged residents to call the line if they are in need of treatment for abuse of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or other harmful drugs.
Rell said the June 8 raid on two methamphetamine labs in East Hampton has focused attention on the dangers of the addictive stimulant and the need for prevention, treatment and interdiction.

Jose Luis Betancourt, a resident alien from Mexico who lived in Brownsville, Texas, before being convicted on drug charges in 2003, could have had a good time spending about $2.7 million he won from the Texas lottery in December 2002. But instead, the U.S. government gets to keep the lottery winnings it seized from the convicted drug trafficker, and Betancourt will serve a 292-month sentence in federal prison on a drug trafficking conviction.

On Aug. 17, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Betancourt's 2003 conviction for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine as well as the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle of Brownsville. In addition to the long prison sentence, Tagle ordered Betancourt to forfeit his half share of a nearly $5.5 million lottery jackpot, after the jury found that he used proceeds from his drug trafficking for the lottery ticket.

Betancourt appealed the forfeiture order, arguing that it violated the excessive fines clause of the Eighth Amendment and that, under 21 U.S.C §853(a), his maximum forfeiture should only be $152,000. But in an opinion written by 5th Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement, the three-judge panel found that all proceeds obtained from unlawful conduct are subject to criminal forfeiture.


The massive transportation bill recently approved by Congress includes useful provisions to deter drunken driving.

Those who drink to excess and get behind the wheel kill about 17,000 people nationwide each year. Through a carrot-and-stick approach, Congress has pushed states to adopt tougher measures to reduce the carnage.
This year's bill offers cash incentives to states to crack down on high-risk drivers caught with double the legal limit of alcohol in their blood. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an educational and lobbying group, motorists who are that drunk typically drive impaired 80 to 100 times before they are caught. Moreover, more than half of all alcohol-related fatalities are traced to people in this group.

The need for tougher measures was dramatically illustrated recently in Quincy, Mass., where police said a man high on drugs ran a red light and smashed into an SUV, injuring a woman and her unborn baby. The impaired operator previously had been convicted of drunken or drugged driving four times and has been legally barred from driving since 1983. Two years ago, he was labeled a habitual traffic offender. Yet he continued to drive and flout the law without stiffer punishment.

Meth is now middle class and middle-aged. The arrests last week of nine people on drug charges — including two Canton business owners — reflects a national trend in the changing face of the typical user of methamphetamine.
"Nationally, the trend is toward more upscale users," said Phil Price, special-agent-in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation regional drug enforcement office in Canton. Methamphetamine was once the drug of choice of young white men, Price said.  "Now, the biggest growth in use is among women, soccer moms," said Price. "We're also seeing more use among middle-aged men, men with income."
Five of the nine arrested in a continuing investigation by the GBI and the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad were 40 or older. Among those arrested include Cherokee County deputy coroner Mike Huey, 44, and his wife, 43-year-old Karen Huey, operator of Canton Flower Shop and once the county clerk.


In the center of town is the Freebox, a collection of wooden bins where people swap bootleg concert tapes, alpine gear and more, regulated only by the principles of karma. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that although Telluride cannot legalize marijuana, it may do the next closest thing: officially declare possession of pot for personal use to be the town's "lowest law enforcement priority."

The Town Council voted 6 to 0 this month to put the issue on the Nov. 1 ballot. Residents will be asked whether to instruct town marshals — the local law enforcement — to make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession their lowest priority. The proposal applies only to the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by people 18 or older.

Several cities already have what proponents term "sensible" pot ordinances, most notably Seattle, where voters in 2003 approved an initiative to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana law enforcement's lowest priority.
Still, Telluride's vote will be closely watched, experts said, because it is the first marijuana ballot proposal since the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government could enforce its zero-tolerance policy on pot, even in the 10 states that permit its use for medical purposes. Colorado is among those states, as is California.


For most of Mark Long's 18 years with the Narcotics Bureau in the state Department of Justice, methamphetamine was just another of the many drugs that occupied the time and resources of the bureau.
But just about the time Long became chief of the bureau, in 1999, meth really started to take off, and it hasn't quit.
Statistics from the Montana Board of Crime Control bear out Long's recollection of when meth developed into a major problem in the state. The board tracks the number of meth-related arrests and pounds of meth seized by the eight drug task forces, all supervised by the Narcotics Bureau, that operate in Montana.
According to those figures, more meth was seized in 1999 than in any other year going back to 1987, and more than in any year since then. In 1999, drug task force agents confiscated just shy of 57 pounds of meth, up from 25 pounds in 1998.
Acton Archie was a street criminal and likely high school dropout eight years ago in North Carolina.  Now the 23-year-old graduate of North Carolina State University has a job as a business analyst for computer software firm SAS in Cary, N.C., where he makes $40,000 a year.     In ninth grade, Mr. Archie says, he was skipping school, using and selling drugs, stealing cars and "staying one step ahead of arrest and prison."

Today, he serves a mentor and tutor for Communities in Schools (CIS), where he says he wants to help children in poverty to "stay in school and choose success."      Mr. Archie's father was killed when he was in the second grade. His mother sold the family's monthly allotment of food stamps to support her crack-cocaine addiction. The main attraction at school for young Acton was the free breakfast and lunch he received each day.

One day when he was skipping class from Olympic High School, CIS site coordinator Rodney Carr came looking for him.     "He was a smooth-dressed, smooth-talking African American," Mr. Archie told CIS supporters at a recent dinner hosted by Dan Glickman, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. "It just took a 15-minute conversation for me to realize he cared about me. He actually made a deal with me. He said, 'If you will fight to stay in school, I'll fight to help you go to college.'

"Now, it's my obligation to give back what I can, to go back to speak to children," Mr. Archie said.     CIS is cited in a recent report by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J., as one of the country's most effective dropout-prevention programs.
Two years ago, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. held a series of meetings with the world's top liquor makers at its alcohol-free headquarters in the middle of a dry county. The subject, say several people who were there: What did Wal-Mart need to do to sell more vodka, whiskey and rum?     The results of those meetings are now starting to hit store shelves. In a move partially meant to spur flagging growth at stores open more than a year, Wal-Mart is pushing into hard liquor, one of the rare product categories where the world's largest retailer is very small.

Using its classic strategy that has transformed how Americans buy everything from bread to diapers, Wal-Mart is likely to shake up the booze business with its low prices, carefully chosen products, big displays and fast deliveries. The push is changing how Wal-Mart lays out some stores and influencing where it builds some new ones. Meanwhile, liquor stores and distributors are anxiously watching to see how the giant's moves will affect them. Wal-Mart has picked a prime partner. The Bentonville, Ark., company has teamed up with Diageo PLC, the world's biggest liquor company, much as it works with Procter & Gamble Co. and Kellogg Co. Together, Wal-Mart and Diageo are developing new merchandising and products. They have come up with a plan for a select number of Wal-Marts that triples the shelf space dedicated to spirits.

''We're putting hard liquor in our stores where we can,'' says John Westling, Wal-Mart's senior vice president for nonperishable food. ''This is an area where we are focused on growing sales.''

Meth is a contemporary plague. Yet the Bush administration seems dazed and confused about this reality.  The White House unveiled a federal anti-meth plan last week. Unlike Iowa law, it wouldn't require most cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine - a key ingredient in making meth - be sold only by pharmacies. It would allow consumers to purchase up to 110 pills in a single purchase.

It's essentially a non-policy. Even Republican lawmakers are criticizing it.


Neither the Bush administration nor congressional proposals go as far as Oregon in fighting the meth epidemic. Oregon's anti-methamphetamine legislation has drawn national attention for a single provision: It has the first-in-the-nation requirement for people to obtain prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine.
The prescription requirement is not yet in effect. The legislation gives the Board of Pharmacy until July 1 to implement it. Advocates say the requirement will do little to curb drugs supplied by Mexican cartels, but they say it would reduce the social and environmental problems caused by the homegrown labs that account for up to one-third of the supply.
Pending federal legislation proposes to pre-empt states by requiring only that such medications be kept behind the counter, as is the case now in Oregon and about two dozen states. 
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS                                                                                                                           POT MEASURE PUT ON CITY BALLOT   
Denver City Council members held their collective noses Monday and approved putting marijuana legalization on November's ballot.  They had no choice. The measure's backers had collected enough signatures to force the matter on the ballot - but city law still said the council had to give its approval. Members lost no time in teeing off on the measure.

Councilwoman Jeanne Robb said smoking three marijuana joints was equal to smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. She said it also kills brain cells.  Councilman Charlie Brown warned that political opponents would be "lower than a snake's belly" if they tried to use the vote against members. Brown and others noted that almost 99 percent of marijuana cases in Denver are prosecuted under state law. The city ordinance would not change that, they said.

If there is strong opposition to the measure, it wasn't evident at the City Council meeting Monday night. Six people asked to speak at the announced public hearing - all in favor of the legalization initiative. The supporters' main argument Monday was that smoking marijuana was better than drinking alcohol.                                                            http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4022985,00.html

THE STATESMAN JOURNAL                                                                                                                         
A federal anti-methamphetamine plan unveiled Thursday by the Bush administration is yet another example of how the administration is foundering in its efforts to combat the nation's top drug problem, Republican members of Congress said. "If this is a cohesive national policy, it is embarrassing," said GOP Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, the chairman of the House subcommittee that handles national drug policy.

He suggested that the initiatives announced Thursday may be just a public-relations ploy aimed at curbing congressional criticism of the administration's lack of response to the meth problem. Indiana, like Oregon, is one of the states that has been hardest hit by the drug. Another Republican lawmaker from a meth-plagued state, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, said the meth proposals announced last week leave administration officials with "egg on their face."

Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, promised to "jack up the pressure through more hearings" if the administration fails to adopt a tougher meth policy. The administration plan, unveiled Thursday in Nashville, Tenn., would limit sales of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in illicit meth.

"The scourge of methamphetamine demands unconventional thinking and innovative solutions to fight the devastation it leaves behind," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in announcing the administration's new meth proposals.                       http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050823/STATE/508230332/1042

LAWRENCE JOURNAL WORLD                                                                                                               
Lawrence’s police chief thinks it could have “great merit.” The mayor supports it, and so does the county’s top prosecutor.  But George Bush’s White House says a proposal to take a streamlined approach to marijuana-possession crimes in Lawrence is a dangerous idea. Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., told the Journal-World on Thursday that marijuana was a “harmful drug” that should be strictly regulated.

“Marijuana is a great source of ignorance for many people,” Lemaitre said. “They think that it’s a soft drug or harmless drug, that law enforcement is wasting its resources by prosecuting these cases. That’s not true.” A newly formed group, Drug Policy Forum of Kansas, is asking the City Commission to start sending marijuana-possession and drug-paraphernalia cases from District Court into the more informal Municipal Court. The group argues the change is needed to cut prosecution costs and keep college students from being denied financial aid under a 1998 federal law.



The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia (CASA) announced today the findings of its 2005 teen survey. The tenth annual back-to-school-survey finds that 62 percent of high school students and 28 percent of middle school students attend drug infected schools, up from 44 percent of high school students and 19 percent of middle school students in 2002. Joseph Califano, Jr., CASA Chairman and President, compared the prevalence of drugs in schools to that of asbestos in the buildings, and asks parents to put the same kind of outrage and pressure on schools that they would in the case of a dangerous, disease-causing agent.

Students attending high schools where drugs are used, kept or sold estimate that 44 percent of their schoolmates regularly use illegal drugs, compared to a 27 percent estimate by students attending schools they believe to be drug-free. Those teens in drug-infected schools are three times more likely to try marijuana and more than three times likelier to get drunk in a typical month. Teens attending smaller-enrolled and private schools had lower rates of reported drug activity.

Morality and parental involvement continue to be found to be strong deterrents for teen substance use. Teens who say their parents would be “a little upset” or “not upset at all” if they used marijuana are six times more likely to try marijuana than those whose parents would be “extremely upset.” Mr. Califano emphasized the important job of parenting. “Parents, you cannot outsource your role to law-enforcement,” he said.

CASA’s findings report that one in three teens say that drugs are their biggest concern, but only slightly more than one in ten parents view drugs as their teen’s top concern. Teens who attend religious services weekly are at half the risk of substance abuse as those who do not attend services. Teens who say that more than half of their friends are sexually active are six times likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs.

“CASA’s findings on a number of fronts are consistent with what we have known for some time in our field—that schools that take a strong stand against drugs help educate healthier, drug-free kids, and that engaged and caring parents can be the most important protective factor in a child’s life,” remarked CADCA Chairman Arthur T. Dean, who attended the press conference. ”What is disturbing is the increase in number of students that report their schools are places where drugs are part of their educational environment.”

For the first time, CASA looked at exposure to R-rated movies and found that the 12-17 year olds who see three or more R-rated movies are seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes, six times more likely to try marijuana and five times more likely to drink alcohol, compared to those teens who do not view R-rated movies in a typical month. The full report is available online at www.casacolumbia.org.