oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of January 12th 2012

This week's stories reveal how the US continues to pursue militarized action in the War on Drugs, while municipal governments in Canada attempt to address the problem with harm reduction outreach. Mexico's once-glamorous resort of Acapulco is now ravaged by drug violence, and Costa Rica sees an emerging crack epidemic tarnish its image as a peaceful oasis in Central America.

More Predator Drones Fly US-Mexico Border

Unmanned drones are being deployed to surveil the porous border between the United States and Mexico to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling. Costing thousands of dollars per hour to operate, their effectiveness as a law enforcement tool is being questioned as much as the privacy concerns they raise. Homeland Security states the drones do not cross into the Mexican interior. However, according to an article that appeared in Wired in March 2011, Presidents Barack Obama and Felipe Calderon agreed to allow the US military to fly drones over Mexican territory in an effort to detect cartel activity.

Over Arizona, the Predator circled a ranch, as unseen and silent as a hunting owl. On a bank of computer screens, the monitoring team watched the truck, which appeared in ghostly infrared black and white, turn and pull up by a mobile home. In the yard, three sleeping dogs quickly woke up, their tails wagging.

“Welcome home,” one of the agents said.

Read the full article at: Washington Post

North America

Vancouver Begins Free Crack Pipe Program for Addicts

In total, 60,000 kits are expected to be distributed at five locations during an eight-month trial period.

“What this boils down to is it’s about disease prevention,” said Beutel. “It’s about preventing more communicable diseases which land these people in hospital on a frequent basis and clog up emergency rooms.”

Read the full article at: National Post 

Judge Dismisses Medical Marijuana Suit by Arizona

In her order, Bolton said the state could file an amended complaint, but the state would have to satisfy two key problems: Federal prosecutors have not threatened to prosecute state or municipal employees for following the law; and the state can't show that any harm will come absent a court ruling.

"Plaintiffs do not challenge any specific action taken by any defendant," Bolton wrote. "Plaintiffs also do not describe any actions by state employees that were in violation of (the Controlled Substances Act) or any threat of prosecution for any reason by federal officials.

"These issues, as presented, are not appropriate for judicial review."

Read the full article at: Arizona Republic 

Police Trainers Say It's Time to Rethink Drug Raids

“The days of knocking down doors in drug cases should be over. Given what’s going on now, you have to consider other options,” McCarthy told USA Today. “Police should focus on trying to lure suspects out into the open or just wait them out,” he said. “It’s time to change our thinking, Cops are exposing themselves to increasing danger many times over, and it’s just not necessary.”

Read the full article at: The Weed Blog

Latin America

Confronting Crack in Costa Rica

Ma and pa “narcofamilias” run home kitchens to cook and deal the rocks on the local street market.

“These are people, entire families, who are dedicated to narcotics trafficking — from the little kids up to granny. She could be just a dealer or ‘la madrina’ of the mafia,” Carlos Alvarado, director of the state-run Costa Rican Institute on Drugs (ICD), said. He pointed to one recent drug bust in which the family drug lord turned out to be a little elderly woman in a wheelchair.

Read the full article at: GlobalPost

Mexico's War on Drugs Blights Resort of Acapulco

The battle for control of Acapulco escalated after the arrest this August of the faction leader who held together the structure in the resort. The three groups fighting over it are believed to have loose links with other organisations, in particular Sinaloa, though others including the Juárez cartel, La Familia and even the Zetas are rumoured to be fluttering on the fringes of the conflict.

The bloodbath reached a peak in August when, local officials say, 148 people were killed during the month and the year's total was approaching 1,000. The door of the morgue was plastered with appeals to help find the missing, whom the authorities largely ignore.

Read the full article at: The Guardian

Drug Laws and Prison in Ecuador

Ecuador has one of the harshest drug laws in the hemisphere. A non-violent drug offender can receive the same sentence, sometimes even stiffer, than a murderer.

In this video, Analia Silva says she started dealing drugs out of poverty. She explains that she did not even know the type of drugs she was selling; that she only knew that being the sole provider of her two children, she needed to make ends meet. Not knowing how to read or write, she says she considered two options: “becoming a prostitute or selling drugs.”

Read the full text accompanying the video at: Drug Law Reform in Latin America

Other News

Pro Surfers to Be Tested for Drugs

In a familiar pattern to anyone who smokes weed, the inevitable crackdown came, not as a result of harmless cannabis nor even of its frisky big brother, LSD -- but due to the same, tired old death drugs that have been killing people and destroying lives for generations.

Read the full article at: Toke of the Town

Illegal Drug Use Estimated at 200 Million People Worldwide

The consequences of illegal drug use include severe toxic effects, such as overdose; dependence; violence or injury due to intoxication; and the effects on health from chronic use: cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis and mental disorders. Health effects vary by drug; marijuana use rarely leads to a fatal overdose, for example. And within countries, drug use can be affected by social factors and the availability of certain drugs.

Read the full article at: Los Angeles Times

Get Busted for Marijuana; Work as a Police Informant; Get Killed

Hilliard's tragic death brings back memories of Rachel Hoffman, the 23-year-old, Florida State graduate from Tallahassee who also worked as an informant after she was busted with a small amount of marijuana and Ecstasy. Hoffman was sent alone on a "buy and bust" and was given $13,000 to buy Ecstasy, cocaine and a gun. The men shot Hoffman five times, stole her car and credit card, and dumped her body into a ditch.

Read the full editorial at: Huffington Post

Drug War Propaganda and Junk Science No Basis for Child Neglect and Abuse

“Pregnant women and children who are caught up in the child welfare system and who are disproportionately low-income and of color, no less than other people, deserve decisions that are grounded in evidence-based-research,” said Emma S. Ketteringham, co-counsel on the case and Director of Legal Advocacy for amici National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Ms. Ketteringham added, “Pregnant women and families should not be deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to family relationships, based on junk science, or no science at all.”

Read the full press release at: National Advocates for Pregnant Women

New Exile Nation Videos

Children are the unacknowledged victims of the drug war.

In this interview, Stephani Conyers recounts her experience as the child of drug offenders. Both her father and mother (Rebecca Forbes) received prison sentences in the State of North Carolina for the cultivation of cannabis.

Stephani describes in harrowing detail SWAT raids on her family home while only a young child, life in abusive foster homes, drugs and sexual abuse, and her struggle to maintain a relationship with her parents as they went through the criminal justice system.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Stephani Conyers from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

Rebecca Forbes is a medical cannabis patient and activist living in North Carolina.

In 1998 Rebecca was sentenced to 3 years in the North Carolina Department of Corrections for the cultivation of cannabis.

In this emotional interview, Rebecca describes the devastating impact the drug war has had on her life, health and family.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Rebecca Forbes from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.


Newsletters and Weekly Features

- Drug War Chronicle #715 - Jan 5, 2012

- The Neglected War

- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

 

 

 

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.