oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of November 24th 2011

While governments around the globe debate on which direction to go in revising drug policy, the American military struggles to deal with record numbers of suicide among service personnel afflicted with PTSD. Many of those suffering from the disorder engage in substance abuse. The stigma and legal ramifications of using illicit drugs remains significant, despite the fact that pharmaceuticals can be just as problematic and dangerous as street drugs. ~jw

Worldwide Launch of the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform

Reducing the demand and use of drugs is, in theory, probably the best way of decreasing drug-harms. Drug policy over the past fifty years has enforced strict prohibition on the basis of this premise. However, we must remember that if policy fails to achieve reduction of drug-use, as it has, we must consider other ways to accomplish the ultimate goal of minimising harms.

The Beckeley Foundation's Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform is promoting the development of alternative approaches to drug control in order to create more humane, cost-effective and evidence-based policies. It will help achieve these aims through collecting, commissioning and disseminating of evidence to the public and governments.

Read the full story here at: Huffington Post UK

Visit the website of the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform.

London screening of Cocaine Unwrapped - Tues 29 Nov.

This is the story of cocaine: from the coca farmers in Colombia to the jungle factories in Bolivia. From the drugs mules in Ecuador to the street dealers of Mexico and Baltimore - ending in the clubs and at the dinner parties of the West. Front line reportage, exclusive access to the political leaders of Latin America and revealing interviews with US and European drugs czars - this is Cocaine Unwrapped.

Tues 29th Nov @ Curzon Soho, London.

Finding Options for Returning Veterans

Many veterans who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 have been found to be suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In some months, more U.S. service personnel have been lost to suicide than to actual deaths in combat. These numbers do not reflect failed suicide attempts, or the number of veterans who, unable to cope with their despair or who can't get sufficient treatment, are abusing substances, both legal and illicit.

The inability of traumatized veterans to move out of anxiety and "combat mode" when back in a mainstream environment can lead them to run afoul of the civilian justice system. In an effort to assist veterans who have fallen through the cracks, the U.S. military has created the Veterans Treatment Court (VTC), a mental health intervention to address the unique needs of service personnel.

Like other mental health courts, a VTC is an alternative sentencing court wherein all the resources appropriate for the treatment of traumatized veterans gather collaboratively to serve the special needs of each defendant, while holding them accountable for the harm they’ve caused.

Read the full story here at: Justice Policy Institute

Bill Maher defends LSD, says kids are on the wrong drugs

In what was perhaps one of the least political New Rules he’s ever done, Bill Maher took a look at the value of tripping the lights fantastic on acid, and why it’s one of the least harmful drugs a child could ever take. He argued that many of the greatest innovators and artists of the 20th and 21st centuries were admitted drug users, including the recently passed Steve Jobs, who admitted to his biographer that taking acid was one of the best decisions of his life.

See the full commentary at: Mediaite

High Childhood IQ Linked to Subsequent Illicit Drug Use, Research Suggests

When intelligence was factored in, the analysis showed that men with high IQ scores at the age of 5 were around 50% more likely to have used amphetamines, ecstasy, and several illicit drugs than those with low scores, 25 years later.

The link was even stronger among women, who were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine as those with low IQ scores.

Read the full article at: Science Daily

 

North America

U.S. considers using technology to uncover drug tunnels along the Mexican border

Underground passages have become more common as a method to transport enormous amounts of drugs from Mexico to the U.S., while avoiding detection. Some tunnels are quite sophisticated, complete with ventilation systems and rail tracks. The seized drugs often bear labels, designating which cartels they belong to (the Sinaloa cartel likes to use a Captain America logo). The secret passages have been discovered in both California and Arizona, prompting the U.S. government to consider using various high-tech methods to find other tunnels.

There a [sic] various technologies the U.S. can use to detect tunnels, but all have their limitations. Ground penetrating radar does a poor job at detecting anything before 40 feet. This does little good considering that one tunnel discovered between San Diego and Tijuana traveled at a depth of almost 100 feet below the surface.

Read the full story at: InSight

Pay Attention: The Great American Adderall Drought

You can map the spread of this rude (albeit unbearably drowsy) awakening on the message boards at ADDForums.com, whose administrators have painstakingly aggregated all Amphetamine Famine-relevant posts into a single "sticky" thread, starting with its early rumblings across flyover country in March, when the first unlucky ADD sufferers in pockets of Texas, Georgia and a few other states began to chronicle tales of the panicked multi-state manhunts and exorbitant ransoms to which they'd been subjected following the inevitable 15-minute pharmacy trip that wasn't. The real panic set in around mid-August, when a supply shock attributed to "back-to-school" season ravaged the suburbs.

Read the full article at: The Fix

Woman Gets Jail for Food-Stamp Fraud

Apparently in this country you become ineligible to eat if you have a record of criminal drug offenses. States have the option of opting out of that federal ban, but Mississippi is not one of those states. Since McLemore had four drug convictions in her past, she was ineligible to receive food stamps, so she lied about her past in order to feed her two children.

Read the full editorial at: The Rolling Stone

Federal Folly: U.S. Dept of Justice Budget Gorges on Prisons, Gouges Juvenile Justice

Both the FBI and DEA are budgeted to receive increases on funding, despite decreases on crime. With crime rates falling, both agencies should have been targeted for budget cuts. In particular, as public opposition to the "War on Drugs" is growing, the federal government should re-examine the negative impacts of continuing to pursue a law enforcement approach to drug addiction, when a public health approach has been shown to be more successful.

Read the full brief at: Justice Policy Institute

 

Latin America

Mexico Drug War Deaths Leveling Off, Study Says

The report put this year's drug war death toll in Mexico at just under 11,000 so far, meaning that if current trends continue until year's end, the body count would be significantly lower than the more than 15,000 the Mexican government says were killed last year.

Read the full article at: Stop the Drug War

World's First Cocaine Bar

Down in Route 36's main room, the scene is chilled. A half-hearted disco ball sporadically bathes the room in red and green light. Each table has candles and a stash of bottled water, plus whatever mixers one cares to add to your drink. In the corner, a pile of board games includes chess, backgammon, and Jenga, the game in which a steady hand pulls out bricks from a tower of blocks until the whole pile collapses. If it weren't for the heads bobbing down like birds scouring the seashore for food, you would never know that huge amounts of cocaine were being casually ingested.

Read the full article at: The Guardian 

 

Europe/UK

It's Time to Make Drugs Legal, Nobel Winners Tell Cameron

“We must seriously consider shifting resources away from criminalising tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens, and move towards an approach based on health, harm-reduction, cost-effectiveness and respect for human rights.

Evidence consistently shows that these health-based approaches deliver better results than criminalisation.”

Read the full article at: The Telegraph 

Read the text of the Public Letter at: The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform 

Copenhagen Moves Towards Legalizing Marijuana

As the Netherlands begins placing restrictions to limit access to its infamous coffee shops to foreigners, the Danish city of Copenhagen has voted to allow sales of the drug via state-run outlets. If the plan is approved by the Danish Parliament, then the use of marijuana would become fully legal.

"We are thinking of perhaps 30 to 40 public sales houses, where the people aren't interested in selling you more, they're interested in you," said Mikkel Warming, the councilman who heads the Social Affairs Committee. "Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from? A drug pusher, who wants them to use more, who wants them to buy hard drugs, or a civil servant?"

Read the full story at: Stop the Drug War 

Demonising Drug Use Is Just Not the Way

Poem by Jake Coe, directed by Cara Lavan.

Read the full text of the poem at: Know Drugs

 

 

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.