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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of February 23rd 2012

The prison industrial complex has been one of the main beneficiaries of drug prohibition in the US. Since the Reagan administration, many prisons have become privatized, making a highly-profitable business of incarcerating people. The exponential increase in the prison population is a byproduct of similar drug policies in the Latin American region. Earlier this month, a catastrophic prison fire claimed the lives of over 300 inmates in Honduras, many being held on minor drug charges. As Canadian politicians consider mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, they are being asked by American law enforcement officials to learn from mistakes made on this side of the border in the ongoing War on Drugs... ~ jw

Charles Shaw Juliana Willars
23 February 2012

North America

Congress Approves Drug-testing the Unemployed

What’s clear is that denying people benefits on the basis of a single positive drug test doesn’t treat addiction nor does it even determine whether treatment is necessary. In fact, because marijuana can stay in the system for weeks while other drugs are typically gone within days, urine testing will tend to selectively pick up those taking a drug with the lowest rates of addiction.

Moreover, knowing that they will be tested, drug users often shift to drugs that leave the body quickly — meaning that testing can push them toward more addictive and harmful drugs.

Read the full editorial at: Time

US Officials Warn Canadian Politicians Against Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

"When you start going down this road of building more prisons and sending people away for long periods of time, and you convince yourself that this is going to deter people you've made a colossal mistake," said Sterling, who now the president of the Maryland-based Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

"We have learned the hard way that long sentences are not deterring people from selling drugs when the profits are so great."

Read the full article at: Global Toronto

Read the press release and letter from law enforcement officials at: LEAP

Is NYPD Running Wild? Questions of Police Brutality Raise Questions

One week later, while Jateik Reed was still locked up, cops gunned down 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, making him the third young black man killed by the NYPD in one week. Graham's grandmother and 6-year-old brother were inside the apartment where he was fatally shot. Police say they shot Graham, who was unarmed, while pursuing a small-time pot arrest.

Video of Reed’s arrest shows shocking brutality: Police kick, stomp, and hit Reed with night sticks as he cries for help, slamming him against a wall and beating him even after he falls to the ground outside of his home. His mother says the injuries required four stitches in his arm, and two in his head.

Read the full article and see related videos at: AlterNet

Sen. Rand Paul Blocks Synthetic Drugs Ban

One key reason for Paul's hold is that he believes "enforcement of most drug laws can and should be local and state issues," Bagley said. Bagley also said the federal government has the authority to ban synthetic-drug chemicals without action from Congress.

Supporters of the legislation, however, have said banning the chemicals administratively would be much more time-consuming.

Bagley said another of Paul's concerns — which others have echoed — is that the proposed legislation could hinder efforts to do beneficial research on the chemicals.

Read the full story at: Kansas City Star

Profiting From Prisons

In the early 1980s, there were hardly any private adult prisons in the U.S. By 1990, there were 67 privately run detention facilities, with an average population of 7,000 inmates.Proponents of private prisons argue that they provide better services for lower cost. But critics counter that privatizing detention services—in addition to being morally questionable—leads to cost-cutting measures that hurt both employees and the incarcerated.

“There’s been a lot of research that shows that private prisons haven’t delivered on their promises to provide a better product,” said Prof. Michele Deitch, a prison expert at the University of Texas.

Read the full article at: The Crime Report

Obama's 2013 Budget Prioritizes More Cops and Prisons

Despite a national decrease in the number of people in prison for the first time since 1972, the President’s budget supports the continued incarceration of people at the federal level and spending on policing. Such spending priorities are counter to current trends and undermine the efforts of states and localities to reduce the burden of incarceration or improve public safety in a lasting and meaningful way. The Department of Justice (DOJ) budget request is $27.1 billion, and includes nearly $7 billion to activate or open new prisons and more than $4 billion for policing while again reducing the amount of money spent on juvenile justice programming that was dedicated to helping youth involved in the justice system.

Read the full report at: Justice Policy Institute

Latin America

Hundreds Die in Honduran Prison Fire

Survivors accused guards of ignoring calls for help. "We said: 'Guards, we're burning, we're dying, open the cells.' But the guards didn't want to help, they let the people die," one inmate, Antonio Valladaras, told local radio.

The blaze destroyed six barracks, each holding between 70 and 105 inmates in four levels of bunk beds. Some prisoners fled to the showers hoping, in vain, the water would save them. Some of their remains were found in baths and laundry sinks. In one sink two bodies, completely black, sat facing each other.

Read the full article at: The Guardian

Photographing Life and Death in Juarez

The war is being waged by two rival drug cartels, the Juarez and the Sinoloa, block by block for control of the city and its trafficking routes. The result is extreme levels of violence, corruption and intimidation. And for the past two years, photographer Dominic Bracco II has been covering the war’s effects on the border town’s residents. While he is working there as a journalist, Bracco can’t help but feel invested in the subjects that he’s become so familiar with.

“I want an American audience to look at my pictures and see how people are living on the border as result of American policies and Mexican corruption and take some responsibility,” he says.

Read the full article and see the photo essay at: Wired

When Drugs Were Legal in Mexico

After years of effort, scientific experiments, meetings with lawyers, cops and public-morals committees, a handful of doctors at the Ministry of Health had managed to convince the president that the best way to check the current toxicomanía—a so-called “drug craze”—was legalization.  A state monopoly was to be set up for distributing drugs as well as treating addicts as patients, offering previously illegal substances—seen as a “necessary evil in our civilization”—to users at market prices. Thus on 17 February 1940, the Lázaro Cárdenas administration’s Ministry of Public Health enacted new federal regulations regarding drug addiction.

Read the full story at: Points ADHS

Europe/UK

Haarlem Cannabis Cafes Reject Dutch-Only Weedpasses

The Haarlem coffee shop owners, unified as Team Haarlems' Coffeeshopentrepreneurs (THC), announced Friday that they "have decided not to comply with the new criteria for tolerated coffee shops, like registering Dutch citizens as cannabis users, and discriminating against all non-Dutch coffee shop visitors."

The Weed Pass plan would bankrupt their businesses and lead to increases in street drug dealing and personal marijuana cultivation, the association warned. It cited the results of a poll of 700 coffee shop patrons it had conducted.

Read the full article at: Stop the Drug War

Asia

Russia and China Will Not Develop "Drug Dependence" on the US

“Washington is trying to set up a network for obtaining intelligence informationas well as bases for locating its units. It should be viewed in the context of the competition with Russia, as an attempt to squeeze Russia out of the region. During the NATO presence in the region the heroin export from Afghanistan rose dozens of times. The US has done nothing to limit the drug trafficking and even indirectly helped its increase. Now using the fight against drugs as an excuse they want to establish a presence in Central Asia. The US initiative has a very obvious subversive nature”.

Read the full article at: The Voice of Russia

UN Chief Notes Losing Fight Against Afghan Drugs

"Drug trafficking and transnational organized crime undermine the health of fragile states, (and) weaken the rule of law," he told delegates. "Above all, the Afghan government must prioritize the issue of narcotics."

Afghanistan's minister for counter-narcotics, however, suggested that drugs can only be eradicated if security in his country is improved.

Read the full article at: The Missoulian

Other News

Terence McKenna: Beyond 2012 [video]

If you're a fan of Terence McKenna, you'll enjoy this video, part one of a series from Lorenzo Hagerty (of Psychedelic Salon fame) and Bruce Damer (founder of The Digital Space Commons). They explore McKenna's often controversial theories about human consciousness, psychedelics, 2012, and where we're headed as a species.

See other videos in the series at: Terence 2012

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