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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of December 1st 2011

Local officials in both British Columbia and Amsterdam wrangle with their respective national governments on the question of how to deal with marijuana trafficking. Meanwhile, Colombia's incumbent president seeks to begin an international dialogue on the legalization of marijuana and other drugs. The UN reports that synthetic drug use in Asia is reaching epidemic proportions, with half the world's users living in East and Southeast Asia. ~ jw
Charles Shaw Juliana Willars
29 November 2011

Driven by Drug War Incentives, Cops Brush Off Victims of Violent Crimes

Several NYPD officers have alleged that in some precincts, police officers are asked to meet quotas for drug arrests. Former NYPD narcotics detective Stephen Anderson recently testified in court that it's common for cops in the department to plant drugs on innocent people to meet those quotas -- a practice for which Anderson himself was then on trial. At the same time, there's increasing evidence that the NYPD is paying less attention to violent crime.

Read the full article at: The Huffington Post

North America

The Geography of Weed

Marijuana prices rise the further a location is from the major center of production. Decreased supply leads to a rise in transportation costs and risk. Clearly pot prices are as low as they are in the Pacific Northwest and Florida for the same reasons that potatoes are cheap in Idaho and corn is cheap in Iowa—because they’re close to the source, the places where the product is either grown, imported, processed, or all three.

Read the full article at: The Atlantic Cities

NORML Attorneys File Suit Against Dept of Justice and DEA

Since becoming president, Barack Obama has seemingly reneged on campaign promises to allow states the ability to regulate medical marijuana. Medical dispensaries in California in particular seem to be targets of the federal government, with banks being ordered to close their accounts and the IRS levying questionable taxes and penalties not required of other types of businesses. In October 2011, the DOJ sent letters to landlords who rent to medical marijuana businesses threatening them with forfeiture of their property.

The NORML attorneys argue that the States have the “primary plenary power to protect the health of its citizens” and since the government has recognized and not attempted to stop Colorado’s state-run medical marijuana dispensary program, it cannot suggest Colorado has a state’s right that California does not.

Read the full article at: AlterNet 

Pentagon's War on Drugs Goes Mercenary

In 2009, a bureaucratic shift plucked the responsibility for training Afghanistan’s police out of the State Department’s hands. Suddenly, the contract — worth about $1 billion — landed with CNTPO. CNTPO quietly chose Blackwater for the contract, even though Blackwater guards in Afghanistan on a different contract stole hundreds of guns intended for those very Afghan cops.

Real the full article at: Wired

Former Vancouver Mayors Call for End of Pot Prohibition

A group of former mayors have urged politicians in an open letter to legalize marijuana so it can be regulated and taxed... Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded there would be no move to decriminalize drugs on his watch.

Read the full article at: Stop the Violence BC

Europe/UK

Officials in Amsterdam Worry Over Impending Coffeeshop Ban for Tourists



"If tourists are denied access to coffeeshops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase," said a statement from I Amsterdam, a consortium that includes the city and the Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board (ATCB). "The City of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible."

Read the full article at: The Huffington Post

Latin America

Colombian President Says Its Time to Consider Legalizing Drugs

For Santos and his country, the issue of drugs looms much larger than for the consuming nations. For Colombia, drugs are "a matter of national security" whereas, for others, "it is mainly a health and crime issue". He speaks eloquently of the price his country has paid – and continues to pay – for feeding the west's appetite for illicit drugs. "We have gone through a tremendous experience – dramatic and costly for a society to live through. We have lost our best judges, our best politicians, our best journalists, our best policemen in this fight against drugs and the problem's still there."

Read the full article at: The Guardian

Mexico Seeks to Fill Drug War Gap with Focus on Dirty Money

The good news for Mexican and Colombian traffickers is that drug sales in the United States generate enormous income, nearly all of it in readily spendable cash. The bad news is that this creates a towering logistical challenge: getting the proceeds back home to pay bills, buy supplies — from guns to chemicals to trucks — and build up the cartels' empires without detection. Laundering allows traffickers to disguise the illicit earnings as legitimate through any number of transactions, such as cash transfers, big-ticket purchases, currency exchanges and deposits.

Read the full article at: Borderland Beat

Illicit Poppy Field Discovered in Ecuador

On November 19, Ecuadorian police officers encountered a relatively rare sight in the South American country: a poppy field covering 12 acres in the central province of Cotopaxi. Officials destroyed the crops, but made no arrests. Although not noteworthy for its size (officials estimate that the field would have produced just one kilogram of heroin), the find is unusual in Ecuador. The country is known more as a transit point for heroin from Colombia than as a source of the drug.

Read the full article at: InSight

Asia

UN Reports Growing Use of Synthetic Drugs in Asia

The report also documents a staggering increase in methamphetamine seizures in the region, from 32 million pills in 2008 to 136 million in 2010, which reflects the expanding production of these illicit drugs.  And it says that in Indonesia, crystal methamphetamine has overtaken cannabis to become the primary illegal drug of use.

Read the full article at: Voice of America

Other News

openDemocracy's The Exile Nation Project has posted five new full length interviews videos and updated its YouTube clip page with a dozen new short videos.

"The History of Police Militarization in the US"

On Monday, November 28, 2011, students at UC-Davis occupied Dutton Hall, the University's financial center, and held an all-day teach-in. openDemocracy's Charles Shaw was one of the featured speakers. Here is his talk, "The History of Police Militarization in the US."

 

Newsletters and Weekly Features

-- Borderland Beat - reporting on the Mexican cartel war

-- Drug War Chronicle #710 - November 23, 2001

-- Drug War Facts vol.1 issue 6 - November 2011

-- International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)

 

Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?

Join us for a journey through a shadowy world of dark money and disinformation stretching from Westminster to Washington, and far beyond.

Sign up to take part in a free live discussion on Thursday 13 August at 5pm UK time/6pm CET

In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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