oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of January 20th 2012

The US celebrated the birthdate of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, as several states consider legislation to require drug tests for those applying for government assistance. While drug use is certainly not restricted to minorities or the poor, they are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and subsequently imprisoned. The Dutch government, continuing its swing to the far right, has outlawed a psychoactive plant used almost exclusively by Muslim immigrants -- as one critic of the ban noted, "in other words, black men".

10 Visionaries Who Experimented with Drugs

If a definitive link between intellectual capacity and drug use does exist, it will likely be some time before anyone establishes one. Having said that, this much is for certain: history has more than its fair share of experimenting experimentalists. Let's meet 10 of history's most influential scientific and technological visionaries, along with their drugs of choice.

Read the full article at: io9

North America

Legal Scholar: Jim Crow Still Exists in America

"Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. There are millions of African-Americans now cycling in and out of prisons and jails or under correctional control. In major American cities today, more than half of working-age African-American men are either under correctional control or branded felons and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives."

Read excerpts and hear the full interview at: NPR  

Ecstasy Deaths in Canada: PMMA Detected in Tainted Pills

"At any time, any tablet can be contaminated with anything."

RCMP and police in Vancouver and Abbotsford have all promoted the message that no drugs are safe, while shying away from providing specific details around tracking the substance's source or revealing what stamps the pills bare [sic].

Read the full article at: Huffington Post

Drug Testing for Public Assistance Bills Proliferate in the New Year

Despite lingering questions about the constitutionality of mandatory suspicionless drug testing, bills are being filed or discussed that would require mandatory testing of welfare recipients in Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky (also includes state medical assistance), Massachusetts, Mississippi (all public benefits, plus prove US citizenship), South Dakota and Tennessee.

In
Iowa and in South Carolina, bills mandating suspicionless drug tests for people receiving unemployment benefits are being bruited, while in West Virginia , a bill that would require mandatory drug tests for workers in state-sponsored job training programs has been proposed.

Read the full article at: Stop the Drug War

The Numbers Game: The Real Cost of Unmanned Drones in the Drug War

CBP routinely describes its various border security operations as “unprecedented” success stories. Yet the never agency never cites the precedents involved or even attempts to explain how these precedents in border control have been surpassed by its new initiatives and spending.

If evaluated, as none of the DHS agencies do in terms of costs and benefits, then the CBP UAV program spent (only in flight costs) $54,846 for every illegal immigrant identified (and later apprehended by Border Patrol teams) on the drone cameras and $2,500 for every pound of marijuana. That’s without factoring in the estimated $20 million that DHS spends for its Predators.

Read the full article at: AlterNet

Latin America

Narco-Horror Murder Rituals of the Mexican Drug Trafficker

This article was inspired by a concrete act: the burning alive of a police officer in Ciudad Juarez in December. Why was this done? Why commit such a grotesque act? What kind of sense does this killing make, and what can it tell us? According to the current logic of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the spiral of violence that is hitting Mexico (by the end of 2011 46,000 had died as a result of the militarization of the battle against drug trafficking organizations) are desperate actions of people who are losing the war.

Read the full article at: Borderland Beat

Central America Unprepared for Wave of Synthetic Drugs

Meth production is a concern in other Central American countries as well. In 2008, Honduran officials uncovered a large-scale drug lab used to make methamphetamine and ecstasy, disguised as a luxury funeral parlor.  If production takes off in Honduras, it could be hard to control. Law enforcement officials are already concerned that Honduras is becoming the largest transit nation for cocaine in the region.

Read the full article at: InSight

Peru Replaces Reformist Drug Czar

He [Ricardo Soberon] has argued that Peru should vigorously pursue cocaine traffickers and money launderers, seizing illegal drug shipments and halting the influx of chemicals used to process cocaine, but put less emphasis on penalizing peasants who grow coca, the raw material of cocaine.

“I think that was the difference in practice over which they (Soberon and Valdes) couldn’t come to agreement,” Tulio Mora, a Soberon adviser, told The Associated Press.

Read the full article at: The Washington Post

Europe/UK

It's Time to Treat Drug-Addicted Children as Adults

Robbie may be a kid but, like all serious addicts, to leave heroin behind he needs intensive residential treatment, starting with detox and then moving on to the various stages of rehabilitation. Addicts need long-term counselling from specialists, help with learning to live a normal life and the love and support of other recovering addicts. Unfortunately, this treatment is not available to anyone under 18.

Read the full editorial at: The Guardian

Khat Banned in Holland

Some critics of the Dutch government allege that the ban on khat is actually a swipe at the Somali immigrants, who are largely Muslim.

Very few Dutch nationals use the drug, which is mainly chewed by people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen.

More than 25,000 Somalis now live in Holland and as the population has grown, so has the chewing of khat leaves. 

Read the full article at: Global Post

Other News

What Happened to Yesterday's “It” Drugs?

Like one-hit wonder pop stars or dissolute child actors from the '80s, recreational drugs tend to arrive on the scene with fanfare, do tremendous damage, and fizzle out when popular tastes move on to the Next Big Thing. Also, they all make perfect topics for “Where are they now” lists. Take an unsteady walk down memory lane with The Fix's highly subjective list of formerly popular drugs that have gone the way of Ralph Macchio. 

Read the full article at: The Fix

Newsletters and Weekly Features

-- Drug War Chronicle #716: Jan 12, 2012

-- LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)

-- Toke of the Town

 

 

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.