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Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

December 10, 2004 Edition

 

 
    1. OP/ED: THE SUPREME COURT IS BEING ASKED TO DO WHAT LAWMAKERS FEAR.
    2. EDITORIAL: BUTT OUT OF MEDICINAL POT CASE
    3. OP/ED: MARIJUANA USE ISN'T COMMERCE
    4. POLICE: DEALERS REPORT STOLEN MARIJUANA TO AUTHORITIES
    5. METH ADDITION INCREASES AMONG CHILDREN
    6. SURGE IN EXTRADITION OF COLOMBIA DRUG SUSPECTS TO U.S.
    7. HEROIN TRAFFIC FINANCES BIN LADEN
    8. OP/RF: WHAT ABOUT MOONSHINE?
    9. CSI TECHNOLOGY BATTLES DRUG USE
    10. ALASKA JUDGES UPDATE METHODS
    11. MANHATTAN DA CALS FOR DRUG LAW CHANGES AND FUNDING FOR TREATMENT
    12. 'SNITCH' DVD IS AIMED AT SUSPECTED EX-DRUG BOSS
    13. OP/ED: 'STOP SNITCHING' VIDEO BETRAYS A MUDDLED CRIMINAL MENTALITY
    14. MEDICAL MARIJUANA KEEPS ON ROLLING
    15. 'GM COCAINE GROWN IN
    16. NEW YORK STATE VOTES TO REDUCE DRUG SENTENCES
    17. EDITORIAL: BAD NEWS FOR PATIENTS IN PAIN
    18. OP/ED: DEA ISN'T 'OUT TO GET' DOCTORS
    19. PSYCHOTIC SYMPTOMS MORE LIKELY WITH CANNABIS
    20. GOV'T TARGETS DRUGGED DRIVING AMONG TEENS
    21. MORE STATES ROLL BACK MANDATORY DRUG SENTENCES
    22. EDITORIAL: SANER SENTENCING
    23. DRUG LAW CHANGES HAVE SIMILAR RING
    24. RESEARCH SHOWS HOW METH USE ERODES BRAIN
    25. REPORT OFFERS WAYS TO LESSEN DWI CASES
    26. WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE TO CONSIDER MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL
    27. MORE POLICE CHIEFS SEE DRUG WAR TACTICS FAILING
    28. N.Y. LAWMAKERS OK REFORM OF SOME ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS
    29. STREET DRUG PRICES HIT 20 YEAR LOW
    30. H.R. 5429 – THE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE DRUG ACT

    LOS ANGELES TIMES

    OP/ED:THE SUPREME COURT IS BEING ASKED TO DO WHAT LAWMAKERS FEAR.
    By Patt Morrison
    Guess which one of the following remarks — all made by Supreme Court justices during this week's arguments about California's medical marijuana law — was uttered by the Supreme from the Golden State:

    •  "Go to the FDA and say, 'Take this off the dangerous drugs list…. Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum.' "

    •  "Seems to me the sensible assumption is they're going to get it on the street."

    •  "If we rule for the respondents in this case, do you think the street price of marijuana would go up or down?"

    Dude! Right the first time! It's Quote No. 3, from Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Sacramento homey who owes marijuana a big confirmation vote of thanks: He made it to the court because the nominee before him got dumped after admitting he'd smoked marijuana.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-morrison1dec01,1,7258795,print.column?coll=la-util-op-ed
     
    DES MOINES REGISTER (IA)  
    EDITORIAL: BUTT OUT OF MEDICINAL POT CASE
    When the political history of modern times is written, it might be about how quickly conservatives abandon their conservative principles after they gain power.

    A case in point is the medicinal marijuana case heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court. A non-conservative position was argued by the conservative U.S. Justice Department and apparently bought into by some of the Supreme Court's most conservative justices, judging from the questions they asked. Bad idea. The classic conservative position is that the powers of the federal government should be restricted to those expressly granted in the Constitution and that the Constitution should be strictly interpreted. The marijuana case puts those principles to the test in interpreting the "commerce clause" of the Constitution.
    http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041204/OPINION03/412040311/1110&template=printart
    (I think I'll score some Iowa aspirin, I hear it's more potent then Virginia aspirin)
     
    MYRTLE BEACH SUN (SC)  
    OP/ED: MARIJUANA USE ISN'T COMMERCE
    by Maggie Gallagher
    Hard cases make bad law, the old adage goes. But in the case of Ashcroft v. Raich, the medical marijuana case recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the opposite may turn out to be true: A hard case may lead to a revival of a key principle of constitutional government: Congress has only limited powers over the states.
     
    Do federal laws banning marijuana usurp California's state law permitting homegrown medical marijuana?
     
    The glitch is a 1942 case, Wickard v. Filburn, in which a federal law limiting wheat production was held up, banning Roscoe Filburn from growing and using wheat on his own farm, on the grounds that if you added up all the wheat grown and consumed on family farms, it might have an indirect effect on interstate commerce (i.e., the wheat that might have been sold across state lines if they hadn't grown and consumed their own wheat). So expansive was this reading that for 30 years, any law passed by Congress was held to automatically qualify as "interstate commerce" because just about any act could potentially affect commerce, however indirectly.
    http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/sunnews/news/opinion/10337519.htm?template=contentModules/
    printstory.jsp
     
     
    POLICE: DEALERS REPORT STOLEN MARIJUANA TO AUTHORITIES
    Help, police, someone stole my pot!
    A Panhandle couple is under arrest after notifying police Thursday that their quarter-pound stash of marijuana was stolen and that they needed the weed back, because they were going to later sell it.
     
    Deputies arrested 18-year-old John Douglas Sheetz and 17-year-old Misty Ann Holmes and charged the duo with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
     
    According to the police report, the couple returned to the home they share and found the home broken into and a quarter-pound of marijuana missing. They immediately called authorities to report the break-in and theft.
     
    Police said the couple told them they were going to resell the marijuana and allowed the detectives to search the apartment. Investigators discovered several marijuana stems among other drug paraphernalia during the search, The News Herald in Panama City reported for Saturday editions.
    http://www.wftv.com/news/3971517/detail.html

     

    SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL 
    METH ADDITION INCREASES AMONG CHILDREN
    Meth addiction has overtaken alcohol as the most treated drug problem among Oregon youth, trailing only marijuana.
     
    According to Department of Human Services statistics, the number of treatment admissions for girls ages 17 and under has jumped 57 percent since 1999. And it's grown steadily among boys in the same age group.
    http://159.54.226.83/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20041206&Category=STATE&ArtNo=412060330&Section
    Cat=&Template=printart

     
    NEW YORK TIMES  
    SURGE IN EXTRADITION OF COLOMBIA DRUG SUSPECTS TO U.S.
    At the beginning of November, Colombia's government crowed about extraditing, all on one day, 13 drug trafficking suspects to the United States. Before the month was out, President Álvaro Uribe's government had handed over another group of 15 Colombians, all facing cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges, to American anti-drug agents.
     
    Then late on Friday, the biggest prize of all - Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, 65, said to be the most powerful cocaine magnate ever to be extradited - was placed aboard a Drug Enforcement Administration flight to Miami. Officials from Attorney General John Ashcroft, to federal prosecutors in New York to authorities from the Department of Homeland Security hailed the extradition.
     
    But it was no surprise.
     
    Mr. Uribe's government has extradited more than 170 drug trafficking suspects to the United States, more than the combined total of other administrations since 1984, when the cocaine billionaire Carlos Lehder was shuttled to Florida, until Mr. Uribe's term began 28 months ago
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/06/international/americas/06colombia.html?oref=login&pagewanted=all   
     
    WASHINGTON TIMES
    HEROIN TRAFFIC FINANCES BIN LADEN
    Osama bin Laden is using cash from the Afghanistan heroin market to finance his life on the run, paying bodyguards and buying off warlords in Pakistan, says a congressman who has visited the region.

    Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, said in an interview that bin Laden's al Qaeda terror organization is reaping $28 million a year in illicit heroin sales. Some of the money is funding bin Laden's fugitive status as he pops back and forth between Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas and Afghanistan's eastern mountain regions.
     
    This is where Mr. Kirk's legislation comes in. The Counter-Terrorist and Narco-Terrorist Rewards Program Act authorizes the State Department for the first time to make rewards to people who inform on drug lords.

    Bin Laden's major supplier, U.S. authorities say, is Haji Bashir Noorzai, a former Taliban financier who smuggles heroin from the Kandahar area to al Qaeda in Pakistan.

    The legislation, which Mr. Bush will sign once Congress finishes work on the fiscal 2005 spending bill later this month, also authorizes the payment of goods, such as tractors or trucks instead of cash to informants. The idea is that illiterate rural Afghans or Pakistanis will find more value in farm equipment than in huge sums of money. News of the new rewards will be broadcast on radio stations in Afghanistan.
    http://www.washtimes.com/national/20041206-124320-5344r.htm 
     
    GOLDSBORO NEWS ARGUS (NC)  
    OP/RF: WHAT ABOUT MOONSHINE?
    By Gene Price
    The U.S. Supreme Court is wrestling with an interesting case involving production of marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes.
     
    Some folks in rural eastern North Carolina and in our western mountains might be taking particular interest in the case. The moonshine business has fallen on tough times in recent decades. The California case could spark hope of allowing folks like my old friend Alvin Sawyer to return to his still in the Great Dismal Swamp and run off a few gallons of his fine and famous "corn-squeezings." For medicinal purposes, of course!
    http://www.newsargus.com/news/archives/2004/12/06/opinion_what_about_moonshine/index.shtml 
     
    SHREVEPORT TIMES (LA)  
    CSI TECHNOLOGY BATTLES DRUG USE
    The technician runs a swab across a surface of a possible crime scene, places it in an evidence envelope and labels it.

    Back at a small lab, an instrument signals that the virtually invisible trace on the swab is heroin.

    No, the crime scene is not on the set of CSI in Las Vegas, Miami or New York. It's at a row of lockers in the hallway of your child's school if you live in Rapides, Grant, Union, Franklin or Jefferson Davis parishes.

    "Any time you touch contraband, you pick up traces on your skin, on your clothing or in your hair," said Gary Pfeltz, president of Trace Detection Services, an Alexandria-based company that takes drug sniffing to a different level. And any time that person touches something else, a trace is left behind that an atomizer can discover.

    The company uses the same trace detection technology airports use to catch smugglers, sniffing out even the slightest hint of drugs on boxes, luggage and passengers. The apparatus is so sensitive that it can tell how fresh the sample is, whether the substance is from direct or secondary contact and, depending upon the intensity of the sample, whether the person who left the trace is a user or a dealer.

    Traces of LSD, heroin, marijuana, morphine, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, codeine and numerous other substances have been found in the company's searches through schools.
    The school's Parent-Teacher Organization picked up the tab for the program.

    For $2 per student enrolled in a school, Trace Detection Services does two assessments, spread six months apart to assure that schools are following up on suggestions, leaves supplies behind for schools to do their own testing and does free analysis of any future swabs sent to the company.
    http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041206/NEWS01/412060319/1002/NEWS 
     
    ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS  
    ALASKA JUDGES UPDATE METHODS
    Inspired by the apparent success of their brethren in Anchorage, judges around the state are establishing so-called "therapeutic courts" in an effort to reduce the number of drug- and alcohol-addicted criminals who clog court calendars.
     
    The newest is a mental health court scheduled to begin next month in Palmer, said District Court Judge Bill Estelle. Mentally ill people typically run afoul of the law when they are drinking or doing drugs.
     
    Courts that focus on drunken drivers are on track to open next year in Ketchikan, Fairbanks and Juneau, said Robyn Johnson, coordinator of therapeutic courts for the Alaska Court System.
     
    The Mat-Su court caseload is exploding, Estelle told about 60 people at a therapeutic justice training seminar Monday at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. The event offered panelists from Outside and around the state an update on what is now a national movement.
    http://www.adn.com/alaska/story/5883451p-5795881c.html

    NEWSDAY (NY)  
    MANHATTAN DA CALS FOR DRUG LAW CHANGES AND FUNDING FOR TREATMENT
    Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on Monday called on the state to reform the so-called Rockefeller drug laws to give judges more leeway in sentencing and provide more money for treatment and prevention of drug addiction.

    A complaint about the laws, passed in 1973 at the behest of former Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, was that they were overly harsh and rigid and left judges little sentencing discretion.
    Morgenthau said change was needed for Class A-1 drug cases where current sentences "are plainly unjust."

    The A-1 felony cases include nearly 500 inmates in state prison on 15-year-to-life sentences.
    Morgenthau said another problem is the frequent lack of "truth in sentencing." Sentences sometimes look tougher than they really are, he said.

    For example, Morgenthau said, a defendant can be sentenced to two to six years in prison and end up serving six months because of work release and merit time programs that are administered by agencies that function out of public view.
    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/state/ny-bc-ny--druglaws1206dec06,0,6058351,print.story?coll
    =ny-region-apnewyork
      

     

    BALTIMORE SUN  
    'SNITCH' DVD IS AIMED AT SUSPECTED EX-DRUG BOSS
    Basketball star Carmelo Anthony might have provided celebrity appeal in Stop Snitching, a witness-intimidation DVD for sale on the streets of Baltimore.

    But the character at the focus of the profanity-laced production has his own type of fame, one intertwined with West Baltimore's drug rings, their violence and law enforcement's efforts to crush them.

    He is Tyree Stewart, the man prosecutors say once ran a $50 million marijuana ring, now in prison under the U.S. Marshal's custody. His story gives a glimpse into the city's world of drugs, violence, prosecution and street culture.

    Stewart is the target of many of the anti-witness rants on the recently released DVD - the seventh "Skinny Suge" production to hit the market. The reason for the outrage, according to lawyers and law enforcement officials, is that Stewart is informing - and not in just any case.

    Stewart is believed to have helped federal authorities indict Solothal Thomas, or "Itchy Man," alleged by police to have been one of the most violent "enforcers" in the city.
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/crime/bal-te.md.dvd08dec08,1,3962307,print.story?coll=bal-local-
    headlines

     
    OP/ED: 'STOP SNITCHING' VIDEO BETRAYS A MUDDLED CRIMINAL MENTALITY
    By Gregory Kane
    Eight  days before the words "Stop Snitching" became all the media rage in Baltimore, I saw them as I drove with my mother and uncle down Edmondson Avenue.

    As we were stopped at the intersection of Monroe Street, I looked to my right at the boarded-up house with the wood painted in burgundy. Somebody had spray-painted in white letters: "Stop Snitching."

    I knew what it meant, of course. I didn't have to wait for the revelation about the DVD called Stop Snitching -- guest-starring Baltimore's own Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets -- to know that something wasn't quite right on the streets of Baltimore.
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/crime/bal-md.kane08dec08,1,3292074,print.column?coll=bal-local-headlines 
      

    VILLAGE VOICE  
    MEDICAL MARIJUANA KEEPS ON ROLLING
    For New Yorkers with long memories, the debate over medical marijuana may feel like old news. During the 1980s, New York was one of seven states in the country that distributed marijuana cigarettes. The pot came from a federal farm down South. Through a research program, it was dispensed at hospitals around the state to people with glaucoma or cancer. (According to doctors and patients, marijuana relieves eye pressure in glaucoma sufferers and fights nausea induced by chemotherapy.)
     
    New Yorkers had former assemblyman Antonio Olivieri to thank for this program. In 1979, Olivieri discovered he had a brain tumor. He underwent chemotherapy, and smoked marijuana to battle the side effects. Along the way, he became an outspoken crusader for legalizing medical marijuana. From his hospital bed, he lobbied the chair of the senate health committee by phone. The bill passed in 1980, and Olivieri died shortly afterward.
     
    Between 1982 and 1989, the New York State Department of Health handed out almost 6,000 joints, to more than 200 people. Eventually the availability of Marinol capsules—which contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana—decreased the demand for the cigarettes. (Many people do prefer marijuana, however, which they say is more effective.) At any rate, by the end of the decade, New York's medical-marijuana program had shut down, as had all the programs in other states.
    http://www.villagevoice.com/print/issues/0449/gonnerman.php 
      

    BBC NEWS (UK) 

    'GM COCAINE GROWN IN COLOMBIA'
    Some Colombian drug growers are using genetically modified coca "trees" to dramatically boost cocaine production, government officials say.
     
    Anti-drug operatives say they found new strains with yields eight times higher than normal coca plants.
     
    The coca "trees" can stand over two metres tall and produce four times as much of the alkaloid active in cocaine.
     
    Higher yields could help explain why cocaine prices have stayed low despite US and Colombian air attacks on farms.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4076525.stm 

    NEW YORK TIMES 
    NEW YORK STATE VOTES TO REDUCE DRUG SENTENCES
    After years of false starts, state lawmakers voted Tuesday evening to reduce the steep mandatory prison sentences given to people convicted of drug crimes in New York State, sanctions considered among the most severe in the nation.
     
    The push to soften the so-called Rockefeller drug laws came after a nearly decade-long campaign to ease the drug penalties instituted in the 1970's that put some low-level first-time drug offenders behind bars for sentences ranging from 15 years to life.
     
    Under the changes passed Tuesday, which Gov. George E. Pataki said he would sign, the sentence for those same offenders would be reduced to 8 to 20 years in prison. The law will allow more than 400 inmates serving lengthy prison terms on those top counts to apply to judges to get out of jail early.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/08/nyregion/08albany.html?oref=login&pagewanted=print&position= 


    USA TODAY  
    EDITORIAL: BAD NEWS FOR PATIENTS IN PAIN
    For millions of Americans living with chronic pain, the federal government has decided to inflict some more.
     
    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is reverting to a heavy-handed approach of targeting doctors who prescribe "too many" narcotic painkillers, even if they follow accepted medical practice. That spells more misery for physicians and patients.
     
    Long-term use of painkillers at high doses is often the only way some patients can relieve the agony of cancer and other diseases and lead functional lives. Undertreatment of pain is common, notes the American Medical Association, which has documented years of DEA harassment of physicians who legitimately prescribe narcotics.
    In August, DEA reached a compromise with medical experts that would allow physicians to treat pain without risking prosecution for diverting drugs to abusers. But two months later, DEA abruptly broke the deal.
     
    Officially, DEA withdrew the guidelines because they contained "misstatements." But the pain experts who helped write the protocols believe the about-face occurred because a Virginia physician facing drug charges unsuccessfully tried to use the guidelines as evidence in his trial.
    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20041208/edit08.art.htm
     
    OP/ED: DEA ISN'T 'OUT TO GET' DOCTORS
    By Karen P. Tandy
    Chronic pain is a serious problem for many Americans, and the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) goal is to ensure that patients with legitimate need have access to pain medications that relieve suffering and improve quality of life.
     
    At the same time, prescription drug abuse is exploding. When one in 10 high school seniors reports abusing prescription painkillers, DEA is obligated to protect our children and the public safety.
     
    DEA's decision to remove the "Frequently Asked Questions" from our Web site is not a signal that DEA is targeting doctors who legitimately prescribe pain medication. Rather, the document was found to contain misstatements of law, so DEA was duty-bound to withdraw and correct it. In less than two months, we publicly identified the legal misstatements and corrected them. It's noteworthy that none of the critics claims these corrections are wrong.
     
    Doctors and their patients should not interpret DEA's action as cause for alarm or as a change in investigative practice. DEA continues to recognize that the overwhelming majority of doctors prescribe controlled substances lawfully for legitimate medical reasons. The fraction of doctors who have wound up as defendants have earned their status; indeed, many such cases arise because worried family members contact DEA when "medication" has turned into drug abuse, or worse.
    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20041208/oppose08.art.htm 


     NEW SCIENTIST (UK)  
    PSYCHOTIC SYMPTOMS MORE LIKELY WITH CANNABIS
    Using marijuana in adolescence and early adulthood can cause psychotic symptoms later in life, a new study suggests. The risk of developing these symptoms is "moderate", say researchers, though is higher in people with a pre-disposition to psychosis.
     
    Up to a third of people develop signs of psychosis at some point during their lives and several studies have already linked cannabis use with psychotic symptoms. But it is often difficult to decipher whether cannabis really triggers psychotic symptoms - such as hearing voices and paranoia - or whether people with mental health problems are more likely to "self medicate" and use cannabis.
     
    A team led by Jim van Os of the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands followed 2437 people aged between 14 and 24. After four years, 21% of cannabis users had experienced psychotic symptoms compared with 15% of non-users. And the more a participant used cannabis, the more likely they were to develop symptoms.
    http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996745 
     
    WIRE SERVICE REPORTS  
    GOV'T TARGETS DRUGGED DRIVING AMONG TEENS
    Many teen drivers believe it's less dangerous to drive after smoking marijuana than after drinking alcohol, a perception the government wants to change.
     
    "Driving sober means no alcohol, no marijuana, no drugs," John Walters, the Bush administration's drug policy director, said Thursday as he showed a new television ad aimed at stopping teens from driving after smoking pot.
     
     
    Walters' office is spending $10 million on the ad and other efforts to teach teens and their parents about the danger of drugged driving. There also are brochures that are being distributed in high schools and state motor vehicle offices.
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=718&e=6&u=/ap/20041202/ap_on_re_us/drugged_
    driving
     

     

    CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR  
    MORE STATES ROLL BACK MANDATORY DRUG SENTENCES
    New York's dramatic move this week to roll back its mandatory drug laws is symbolic of a growing movement in dozens of states to rethink how they deal with nonviolent drug offenders.
     
    From California to New Jersey, lawmakers either are considering or have already taken steps to reduce sentences, replace prison time with drug treatment, and return some discretion to judges.
     
    The movement is being driven by the desire to ease overcrowding in prisons and concern about the fairness of mandatory sentences. While not everyone agrees with the tilt, even some conservatives have joined the reformers, arguing that more needs to be done than just being tough on crime.
     
    The New York move may be the most important, both for substantive and symbolic reasons. It was the first state in the nation to usher in tough mandatory-minimum drug laws more than 30 years ago.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1210/p02s02-usju.htm 


      THE COURIER-JOURNAL (KY)  
    EDITORIAL: SANER SENTENCING
    New York state legislators adopted a bill Tuesday that gives hope for early release to some of the thousands of men and women currently serving stiff mandatory minimum sentences under the state's notorious Rockefeller drug laws.
    The late Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, faced with a heroin crisis, pushed through those laws, which were the toughest ever on first-time offenders. Now, another popular Republican, Gov. George Pataki, is poised to sign the bill to moderate them.
    For example, rather than a minimum 15 years to life, certain first-time offenders would serve eight years at most. The quantity of drugs required to trigger felony possession would increase, and prisoners serving the longest Rockefeller sentences would be able to seek reductions.
    Not all members of the coalition that battled for reform consider the bill a great victory. But it nevertheless represents a significant breakthrough in the decades-long effort to restore reason to justice, especially because of New York's status as a role model for other states' drug sentencing policies.
    http://www.courier-journal.com/cjextra/editorials/2004/12/10/opin-mid1210-3092.html
     
    TIMES UNION (NY)  
    DRUG LAW CHANGES HAVE SIMILAR RING
    The changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws approved by the Legislature this week were similar to those on the table 18 months ago when hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons came close to brokering reforms of the mandatory drug-sentencing statutes.
     
    In fact, proponents of reforming the drug laws probably could have had the legislation several years ago. Or something very much like it.
     
    The measure's most dramatic changes concern the infamous A-1 and A-2 provisions that date back to 1973. Offenders in those categories face prison sentences of up to life for possessing and selling relatively small amounts of narcotics.
     
    For years, reform advocates have tried to hold out for sweeping changes in other mandatory drug sentencing categories.
     
    In particular, the Class B felony of the sentencing laws and the prison term of 4 to 9 years that nonviolent offenders must serve has been the real target of reform proponents.
     
    There are perhaps 400 prison inmates serving time under the A-1 part of the Rockefeller laws. They will now be allowed to ask courts to shorten their sentences under new drug sentencing guidelines.
    http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=313045&category=STATE&newsdate=12/10
    /2004&tacodalogin=no
     


     THE OREGONIAN  
    RESEARCH SHOWS HOW METH USE ERODES BRAIN
    UCLA researcher Richard Rawson clicked on his PowerPoint presentation Thursday morning and flashed side-by-side brain scans onto a screen. Turning to a packed room at Portland State University, Rawson zeroed in on the brains' pleasure centers. A normal scan shows a kaleidoscope of neural activity. But these scans revealed just one dull, blue dot, indicating virtually no activity.
     
    One scan was a Parkinson's disease patient. The other was a methamphetamine addict. Rawson paused, watching the reaction of about 70 educators, therapists and law enforcement officials throughout the room. They shook their heads. Their hands shot up with questions. 
    Meth addicts, Rawson told them, "are more like people who have brain damage from head injuries than people who simply need therapy."
     
    Research on methamphetamine is still in its infancy, Rawson said. But the latest findings show how the drug disrupts neurotransmitters that produce feelings of euphoria and literally "chops off" brain tissue.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1102683703164280.xml 

     

    THE WINSTON SALEM-JOURNAL (NC)  
    REPORT OFFERS WAYS TO LESSEN DWI CASES
    A state task force on driving while impaired has approved a preliminary report with more than 40 proposals aimed at reducing underage drinking, increasing arrests for driving while impaired, and making it harder for violators to stay behind the wheel.
     
    The report is to be sent to the legislature and Gov. Mike Easley next month.
     
    Sweeping changes in DWI law would require that drivers accused of DWI lose their licenses until their cases are resolved, giving them reason to settle the case quickly and not draw it out with delays.
     
    The changes also would allow an arresting officer to immediately install a device that prevents a car from starting if the driver has alcohol on his breath.
     
    The task force of 31 experts in law enforcement, health, safety and other fields was created last spring after newspaper stories showed that thousands of DWI suspects who test over the alcohol limit avoid court punishment and treatment.
     
    The law now says that people can't drive with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, but doesn't specify how judges should determine a suspect's alcohol level.
    http://www.journalnow.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSJ%2FMGArticle%2FWSJ_BasicArticle&c=
    MGArticle&cid=1031779609454&path=!localnews!stategov&s=1037645509153
     

        
    WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE TO CONSIDER MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL
    12/8/2004

    Wisconsin Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh) has pledged to reintroduce a bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes during the next legislative session, beginning in January, the Baraboo Republic reported Nov. 30.

    Last year, Underheim's medical-marijuana bill died in committee, mainly over concerns about how patients would obtain the drug. His new bill would include provisions to address that issue.

    Last year's bill received support from 10 Democrats and two Republicans. Underheim is confident that the bill would receive more support if it makes it to a floor vote.

    Underheim's bill could also receive greater support if a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling favors states' rights in implementing medica-marijuana laws. Currently, federal law bans marijuana use, but several states have passed their own medical-marijuana laws
     

    MORE POLICE CHIEFS SEE DRUG WAR TACTICS FAILING
    12/7/2004

    A national Drug Strategies survey of 300 police chiefs finds that most feel that the war on drugs is failing, with many calling for more public-health involvement in fighting drug problems, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Dec. 3.

    According to the survey that included responses from police chiefs in major metropolitan areas and small towns, 60 percent believed drug misuse is a more serious problem in their area than five years ago.

    "Clearly, we are not winning [the drug war]," said Hubert Williams, a former Newark, N.J., police commander and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation, an advocacy group that co-commissioned the survey.

    "The most significant aspect of the survey, I feel, is that the police chiefs actually feel more strongly now than they did eight years ago when the first survey was conducted that our response to the drug problem is not working," said Mathea Falco, president of Drug Strategies, a research think tank that also sponsored the survey.

    Nearly half of the police chiefs surveyed said the responsibility for reducing drug misuse and related crime should be shared among criminal-justice and public-health agencies through education, prevention, and treatment.

    Most also support court-supervised treatment programs instead of prosecution for nonviolent drug offenders.

    Three out of four respondents said they were lacking the necessary resources to fight the war on drugs.


    Take Action: Requiring effective treatment and continuing, supervised aftercare programs instead of incarceration for non-violent drug and alcohol offenders is among Join Together's "10 Drug and Alcohol Policies That Will Save Lives."

    What You Can Do: Use the Drug Strategies study, "Drugs and Crime Across America: Police Chiefs Speak Out," as a springboard for a meeting and discussion with your local police chiefs and community leaders to get their views and lay out a plan for moving your community toward providing more and better treatment for non-violent offenders.

    N.Y. LAWMAKERS OK REFORM OF SOME ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS. 12/9/2004

    The New York State Legislature has approved a bill that eases some of the harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenses originally passed during the Rockefeller administration in the early 1970s, the New York Times reported Dec. 7.

    Under the measure, which Gov. George Pataki said he would sign into law, some low-level drug offenders were who previously could have been sentenced to terms of 15 years to life in prison will now face sentences of no more than 8-20 years in prison. About 400 prisoners serving long mandatory sentences under the old law could be released.

    Earlier, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has urged lawmakers to reform the draconian Rockefeller drug laws by allowing judges more flexibility in sentencing and provide more funding for treatment and prevention.

    The Associated Press reported Dec. 7 that while the bill just passed by lawmakers deals with Class B felony drug offenders, Morgenthau said Class A-1 drug offenses should get top priority because current sentences "are plainly unjust."

    Morgenthau also called on lawmakers to adequately fund drug treatment programs. "I don't want the legislature to just deal with the law-enforcement side," he said, adding that, "over the long term, it saves a lot of money."

    "Treatment works," said Rosenthal. "There isn't enough of it."

    STREET DRUG PRICES HIT 20 YEAR LOW 12/6/2004

    Citing a report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Washington Office on Latin America questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. war on drugs. The report finds that the street prices for cocaine and heroin are at their lowest levels in 20 years, Knight Ridder reported Nov. 30.

    According to the unreleased report, the street price of 2 grams of cocaine cost about $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14 percent from the previous year. Heroin, which sold for $329 a gram in 1981, sold for $60 a gram in the first half of 2003.

    An ONDCP official, speaking anonymously, confirmed the figures, but said the figures in the report were old. But the Washington Office on Latin America criticized the ONDCP for not officially releasing price and purity numbers since 2000 because the data were "inconvenient."

    "It strays too far from the message of imminent drug-war success, particularly around Plan Colombia," said John Walsh, a senior associate with the Washington Office on Latin America organization.

    H.R. 5429 – THE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE DRUG ACT

    December 7, 2004

    BACKGROUND

    The Safe and Effective Drug Act was introduced in the House on December 6, 2004 by Congressman Mark Souder (R-3rd, IN). It is co-sponsored by Congressmen Henry Bonilla (R-23rd, TX), Jack Kingston (R-1st, GA), Pete Sessions (R-32nd, TX) and Christopher H. Smith (R-4th, NJ). This bill would ensure that a thorough meta-analysis of all existing scientific studies regarding marijuana is conducted by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and that members of the general public, as well as those public health entities that advocate and/or recommend that patients smoke marijuana, are aware of the dangers that smoking marijuana causes.

    The legislation includes provisions that will:

    1. Direct the NIH to examine all available scientific data regarding the safety and effectiveness of smoking marijuana; and

    2. Require the Food and Drug Administration to post these findings and to distribute it to those public health entities that advocate/recommend that patients smoke marijuana.

    For more information contact:

    COMMUNITY ANTI DRUG COALITIONS OF AMERICA  http://capwiz.com/cadca/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=
    6739531

     

    GOVERNMENT TARGETS DRUGGED DRIVING AMONG TEENS

    Thu Dec 2, 6:08 PM ET

     

    By DEE-ANN DURBIN, Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON - Many teen drivers believe it's less dangerous to drive after smoking marijuana than after drinking alcohol, a perception the government wants to change. "Driving sober means no alcohol, no marijuana, no drugs," John Walters, the Bush administration's drug policy director, said Thursday as he showed a new television ad aimed at stopping teens from driving after smoking pot.

    Walters' office is spending $10 million on the ad and other efforts to teach teens and their parents about the danger of drugged driving. There also are brochures that are being distributed in high schools and state motor vehicle offices. Marijuana can affect concentration, perception and reaction time up to 24 hours after it's smoked, Walters said. Yet teens have gotten the message that it's a benign drug.

    In a recent study, 30 percent of teens said "planning to drive" was a reason not to drink. But only 18 percent cited "planning to drive" as a reason not to take drugs. The survey questioned 3,574 middle and high school students nationwide in spring and was conducted for Students Against Destructive Decisions and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

    A 2004 study of patients admitted to the trauma unit at the University of Maryland found that 19 percent of crash victims under 18 tested positive for marijuana. Allison Whitney, 25, a drug counselor and recovering addict from Atlanta, said she got into several accidents as a teenager because she was smoking pot while driving. Sometimes she would get pulled over for swerving but police would let her go when she didn't test positive for alcohol. Whitney said part of the allure of marijuana for teens is that it's easy to hide. "You can get high in less time than you can get drunk, and your parents won't detect it," she said.

    Dr. Jeffrey Runge, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (news - web sites), said states are training police to recognize the effects of various drugs, but said more training is needed. Runge also encouraged states to test drivers for drugs after a crash so officials can understand the scope of drugged driving. Now, drivers rarely are tested for drug use, Runge said. One-quarter of the 3,657 drivers age 15 to 20 who were killed in accidents in 2003 had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

    Runge said teens are at special risk because they are inexperienced drivers and they often have a dangerous combination of alcohol and drugs in their systems. He said teens must understand the dangers and designate a driver before they go out. "Every driver has a personal responsibility not to get behind the wheel while impaired," Runge said. "A designated driver does not mean the least drunk or stoned person at a party."

    In the television ad, which will run through the end of the year, a young female driver keeps having visions of an older man after she hits him in a crosswalk. "You'll never forget the people you hurt when you were high," the narrator says.

    On the Net:

     

     

    White House Office of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.freevibe.com

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov

     

     

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