oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of January 5th 2012

2011 was a watershed year in drug policy all over the globe. The American and Canadian governments seemed to embrace status quo prohibition, while the citizens of both nations showed increasing support for reform laws, particularly with medical cannabis. Some countries in Europe moved towards legalization, while the Netherlands surprised everyone by taking steps to forbid access of coffee shops to foreigners. Meanwhile, things continue to spiral out of control in Latin America, leaving no country untouched by drug violence

The Top 10 International Drug Policy Stories of 2011

The new year is upon us and 2011 is a year for the history books. But we can't let it go without recognizing the biggest global drug policy stories of the year. From the horrors of the Mexican drug wars to the growing clamor over the failures of prohibition, from the poppy fields of Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle to the coca fields of the Andes, from European parliaments to Iranian gallows, drug prohibition and its consequences were big news this year.

Read the full article at: Stop the Drug War

North America

Safe Injection Sites Proposed for Montreal

Dr. Richard Lessard, director of public health, suggested that fixed sites be set up in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, downtown and an area near St. Urbain and Prince Arthur Sts. The mobile unit would move around St. Henri and the city's southwest sector.

"We are convinced – and all the scientific studies back us up on this point – that supervised injection sites do not create new problems," Lessard told The Gazette. "On the contrary, they reduce the problem of syringes found on the streets and in the parks, and they reduce the number of overdose deaths."

Read the full article at: Montreal Gazette

The Pentagon's $3 Billion Drug War Auction

The Pentagon's Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO) – a technically unknown entity created in 1995 – just announced a $3 billion contract for U.S.-funded anti-narcotics operations around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, and now also Mexico.

The bids were open to private security firms starting Nov. 9 and the budget breakdown by category includes as much as $950 million for "operations, logistics, and minor construction," up to $975 million for training foreign forces, $875 million for "information" tasks, and $240 million for "program and programmatic support," as posted in the official announcement.

Read the full article at: Huffington Post

US Supreme Court Asked to Ponder Drug Dog's Sniff

The US Supreme Court has approved drug dog sniffs in several other major cases. Two of those involved dogs that detected drugs during routine traffic stops. In another, a dog found drugs in airport luggage. A fourth involved a drug-laden package in transit.

The Florida case is different because it involves a private residence. The high court has repeatedly emphasized that a home is entitled to greater privacy than cars on the road or a suitcase in an airport. In another major ruling, the justices decided in 2001 that police could not use thermal imaging technology to detect heat from marijuana grow operations from outside a home because the equipment could also detect lawful activity.

Read the full article at: Daily Mail

Latin America

For Costa Rica, a “Menace” Like No Other

DEA agents and security officials in Costa Rica say the country is increasingly favored by the cartels as a warehouse for US-bound cocaine from Colombia. But while other Central American nations are deploying their armies to battle the traffickers in cities and remote jungles, Costa Rica has no such fighting force, having abolished its military in 1948 in favor of increased spending on health care and education. Its underfunded police agencies have outdated equipment and little experience taking on organized crime.

Read the full article at: GlobalPost

Mexico: 12,000 Killed in Drug Violence in 2011

The daily newspaper Reforma, one of the nation’s most respected independent news outlets, reported 12,359 drug-related killings in 2011, a 6.3 percent increase compared with the previous year. There were 2,275 drug killings in 2007, Reforma said.

Read the full article and see the photo essay at: Washington Post

Mexican Gang Seen Ramping Up Meth in Guatemala

Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said the Mexican cartel has prepared its operations by doing business with a gang in his country led by Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, nicknamed "Chamale," who, before his arrest in March, was identified by the United States as the most important trafficker in Guatemala.

"What we have found is that Chamale has links to the Sinaloa cartel," Menocal told The Associated Press. Those links include coordinating the processing or "cooking" of meth, he said.

Read the full article at: Yahoo News

Europe/UK 

Cannabis Tolerance Endangered in Netherlands, Protest Planned

"If tolerance ends or gets limited in the Netherlands, then politicians all over the world will say things like 'Tolerance failed in Holland,' and use that as an excuse to enforce their anti-cannabis propaganda, opinions and laws," well-known Dutch cannabis blogger Peter Lunk told Toke of the Town.

Read the full editorial at: Toke of the Town

Operation Audacious” Shows We Need to Count the Cost of Drug Law Enforcement

'Operation Audacious' was a success, according to the Greater Manchester Police and others. A success in that arrests have been made, public calls for action on street dealers have been heard and acted upon, and in that a clear message has been sent.

But two important questions arise: Are these really measures of success in relation to drugs? And what about tomorrow?

Read the full editorial at: Huffington Post UK

Middle East

Amnesty International Condemns Iran Drug Executions

Amnesty said it began to receive credible reports of a new wave of drug executions in the middle of 2010, including reports of mass executions at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad, with one, on August 4, 2010, involving at least 89 people. While Iran officially acknowledged 253 executions in 2010, of which 172 were for drug offenses, Amnesty said it has credible reports of another 300 executions, "the vast majority believed to be for drug-related offenses."

Read the full article at: Stop the Drug War

New Exile Nation Videos

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts, Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the most prominent proponent of drug policy reform.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Ethan Nadelmann from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

In 1985 Anthony Papa was arrested in a New York cocaine sting, and under the draconian Rockefeller drug laws, was given two 15-to-Life sentences for the first-time offense of possessing four and a half ounces of cocaine. This is the amazing story of his arrest and incarceration, and how in 1997, he eventually won clemency from the Governor of New York.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Anthony Papa from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

Newsletters and Weekly Features

– The Crime Report

– Drug War Chronicle #714 – Dec 22, 2011

– The Fix

About the authors

Juliana Willars is an American journalist and researcher. She works in drug education and harm reduction, and is pursuing a degree in Anthropology, specializing in Mesoamerican cultures.

Charles Shaw is a writer and activist living in the Bay Area of San Francisco. He is the author of Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics and Spirituality, and the Director of The Exile Nation Project. Charles serves as editor for the Dictionary of Ethical Politics and the oD Drug Policy Forum.