oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of December 8th 2011

As 2011 heads towards a close, US high courts send marijuana advocates a mixed message about states' rights and federal enforcement of drug laws. Copenhagen attempts to legalize (rather than decriminalize) marijuana, while various nations in Central America hand over policing duties to the military. But it's not all doom and gloom: find out about the real origins of modern Christmas traditions, which have more to do with shamans and mushroom-munching reindeer than a babe in a manger... ~jw

Ending the Drug War: Top Stories of 2011

Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance recaps the most important developments in global drug policy in 2011. Forty years after Nixon launched the War on Drugs, a decade after Portugal decriminalized small amounts for personal use, legal reform and prohibition continue to be controversial issues for politicians and citizens alike.

Read the full editorial at: The Huffington Post 

North America

Supreme Court: State Medical Marijuana Laws Not Preempted by Federal Laws

"It's now settled that state law enforcement officers cannot arrest medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine simply because they prefer the contrary federal law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana advocacy organization that represented the defendant Felix Kha in a case that the City of Garden Grove appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Read the full article at Salem News

Judge Won't Stop Federal Crackdown of Medical Marijuana Users

"The court is sensitive to the desires of individuals to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, as permitted by California law," Armstrong wrote in her 27-page ruling, filed this week. "Nevertheless, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and in Congress' view, it has no medicinal value."

Read the full article at Toke of the Town

US Governors Call on DEA to Pull Marijuana Out of Schedule I Category

"This is groundbreaking," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "To have two governors in a bipartisan move from states on opposite sides of the country with medical marijuana laws that are in jeopardy because of federal actions announcing that they want to see the federal government reclassify marijuana is a big deal indeed."

Read the full article at: AlterNet

Officers Punished for Supporting Eased Drug Laws

In Arizona, Joe Miller, a probation officer in Mohave County, near the California border, filed suit last month in Federal District Court after he was dismissed for adding his name to a letter by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,  which is based in Medford, Mass., and known as LEAP, expressing support for the decriminalization of marijuana.

“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies, and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” said Daniel Pochoda, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which is handling the Miller case.

Read the full article at: The New York Times

Latin America

Mexico Drug War Refugees Look for Escape, But to No Avail

Military offensives against the drug cartels and turf battles among crime syndicates have pushed the war into areas once considered quiet. A year after their hopeful flight, the Echevarrias are not only caught anew in a crush of violence, but still without the promised help.

In Juarez, the Echevarrias had a house and a van. In Veracruz, they've had to pawn their appliances and move to a concrete hut to make ends meet. The trade of solvency for safety was a fake choice, because in Juarez, Echevarria said, "We would have been living well.

"Now we're in a hole. And it's very difficult to get out."

Read the full article at: Fox News Latino

Honduras Army to Take on Drug Gangs

With drug-trafficking violence raging throughout Central America, several national governments have chosen to bestow policing authority on their military forces. One of the smallest countries, Honduras, has been particularly hard-hit, due in part to the rampant corruption of the police. Critics say that young soldiers may be no match for the cartels, but the Honduran government sees few alternatives to combating one of the highest per-capita homicide rates in the world.

Read the full article at: The Guardian

Peru's Rebels Move Deeper into the Drug Trade

As with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, the Peruvian authorities have been declaring for some time that the Shining Path has transformed itself into "just" a drug trafficking organization. According to statements from the army, this transformation took place in 2004, when the group decided to begin cultivating coca and producing coca base. In addition to producing their own crops, they also tax coca growers and charge a fee to protect and guard drug shipments.

Read the full article at: InSight

Colombian Cartels 101

Today, the activities of the Colombian drug lords have been eclipsed by the escalating violence of Mexican drug cartels who took ownership of the far-reaching networks and drug routes into the U.S. But the Colombian cartels—and the battle to destroy them—remain a textbook example of the threat created by transnational crime groups with the power to co-opt governments.

Read the full article at: The Crime Report

Europe/UK

Copenhagen Moves Towards Legalizing Pot

“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,” Mikkel Warming, the mayor in charge of social affairs at Copenhagen City Council told GlobalPost. “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 article at: The GlobalPost

Middle East/Africa

Chasing the Dragon in Tehran

Today's Islamic Republic offers premonitions of a narcodystopia. Take a car ride through Tehran at night, and your driver may tell you that the underage girls in chadors who offer esfand -- seeds that are burned to ward off the evil eye -- along the highways are really selling sex to enable addicted fathers. Ride the metro, and you will see battered children pitching trinkets and fortunes to sustain their parents' habits. Visit a poor southern suburb like Shahr-e Rey, and you might see a cigarette vendor in the bazaar with a sideline in used needles. Walk through Khaju Kermani Park on the capital's southeastern outskirts, and you might witness young girls smoking crystal meth in full view of park authorities, while in the background a tall, badly sunburned man with track marks on his arms staggers around in an ill-fitting woman's blouse.

Read the full article at: Foreign Policy

Other News

Can Ecstasy Combat Autism?

Ecstasy was first used as a therapeutic tool by a dedicated network of psychologists in the '70s and '80s, but MDMA’s increasing popularity as a club drug led the Drug Enforcement Administration to ban it in 1985. Doblin launched MAPS a year later to revive psychedelic research. Since then the group has supported over a dozen promising studies of MDMA to treat PTSD, as well as anxiety and depression in cancer patients. It can induce euphoria and a sense of intimacy with others. These “empathogenic effects” suggest that the drug might be useful in helping patients who struggle to feel connected with others.

Read the full article at: The Fix

The Shamanic Origins of Christmas

Although most people see Christmas as a Christian holiday, most of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian Northern Europe. The sacred mushroom of these people was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as "fly agaric." Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, magical reindeer and the giving of gifts, are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of these most sacred mushrooms.

Read the full essay at: Dose Nation

New Exile Nation Video

Debi Campbell was a recreational user of methamphetamine until her supplier was busted by Federal authorities. False testimony from her supplier -- a woman she had never met -- landed Debi in Federal prison for 20 years.

The Exile Nation Project - Interview with Debi Campbell from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.


Newsletters and Weekly Features

-- Americans for Safe Access - Dec 2011, vol 6, issue 12

-- The Crime Report - Nov 29 – Dec 6, 2011

-- Drug War Chronicle #711 - Dec 1. 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.