Socialist Worker has a profile of Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance. He has a book out about his experiences after being released from prison, where he served a sentence for a drug crime that he'd been entrapped into committing. The book is called This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency.
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On January 24, 1985, Anthony Papa, a young radio and auto repair worker, was entrapped in a bust planned by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Papa, in his late 20s, was living in the Bronx with his wife and young daughter, and struggling to provide for his family. Down on his luck, he took a chance to make some quick cash by delivering a package of cocaine to nearby Westchester County. When Papa handed over the package to two undercover narcotics officers, he was arrested. Papa was found guilty and sentenced to two 15-years-to-life sentences under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, with their mandated minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes.
In 2012, a sharp-eyed police officer in Kansas spotted Robert Harte leaving a hydroponics store with a bag of supplies. Soon after, the police fished through Harte's garbage and found some wet leaves, which tested positive for marijuana. That was all they needed to obtain a warrant to conduct a surprise raid. "The family was held at gunpoint for two and a half hours while Johnson County sheriff's deputies went through the house, after which they gave the Hartes a receipt saying 'no items taken,' in lieu of an apology," reports Reason. A lab test revealed the leaves to be tea, and the hydroponics supplies were for a "horticultural project involving tomato, squash, and melon plants."
The Hartes sued the police department for the fruitless raid, spending $25,000 in legal fees in an attempt to look at the polices' affidavit supporting the search warrant. They lost, because U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum said police acted legally and reasonably. The act of going to a hydroponics store and the results of the notoriously inaccurate field tests were sufficient to meet the standards for probable cause, he said.
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"Risk of addiction," fotoknips/Shutterstock.
David Nutt is a brilliant psychopharmacologist who once served as the UK's drug czar, until he was ousted for refusing to suppress the data that showed that many legal drugs were as bad or worse for you than illegal drugs, and that the war on drugs was a losing battle that wasn't reducing abuse or crime.
Now he's back in industry, and he's got an awesome idea he's trying to get funded: a tailored variation on alcohol that has exactly the same intoxicating effect but inflicts none of the physical damage of booze, and lets you get instantly, totally sober just by taking an antidote.
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Good times in New Mexico, courtesy a police department high on the war on drugs:
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Eckert's attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.
The lawsuit claims that Deming Police tried taking Eckert to an emergency room in Deming, but a doctor there refused to perform the anal cavity search citing it was "unethical."
But physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City agreed to perform the procedure and a few hours later, Eckert was admitted.
1. Eckert's abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
4. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
5. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
6. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a third time.
[Video Link] "A documentary chronicling the life of author Richard Stratton, from his early experiments with marijuana in suburban Massachusetts to his ultimate entry into the world of high volume, international hashish and marijuana trade. His involvement in the drug market, including the shipment of 7 tons of hashish from war-riddled Beirut into New York Harbor, led to his arrest and conviction to 25 years in maximum-security prison. This video, through re-enactments, stock footage, score and interview, tells the unbelievable story."
Here's a recent interview with Stratton.
(Via the World's Best Ever) Read the rest
The illegality of marijuana has enriched, empowered, and corrupted prison systems, police departments, local and national governments, militaries, liquor manufacturers, and intelligence agencies (not to mention criminal organizations). It has also branded hundreds of thousands of people (mostly minorities) as criminals, ruining their lives and the lives of their families. Despite a century-long propaganda campaign defending the destructive war on drugs, a recent Gallup poll shows that 58% of Americans favor legalizing it.
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Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California's second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.
The Obama administration has also been flexible on the matter. Despite maintaining the government's firm opposition to legalizing marijuana under federal law, in late August Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the Justice Department would not challenge the legality of Colorado's and Washington's successful referendums, provided that those states maintain strict rules regarding the drug's sale and distribution.
Andrew Chambers was a paid informant for the DEA from 1986 to 2000, says Brian Sonenstein of Just Say Now, a cannabis legalization organization. "During that time he collected more than $4 million from the federal government and gave false testimony at least 16 times during that time period."
AZCentral reports that Chambers was "featured in 2000 on the ABC News broadcast 20/20. He admitted giving false testimony about his criminal history, saying, 'I just lied about it. I didn’t think it was that important what I did.'”
Naturally, the DEA has "reactivated" Chambers.
Here's a petition you can sign to ask Congress to look into why the "DEA employs a discredited serial perjurer as a paid informant."
Here's Robert Arthur's comic about the origin of the DEA:
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At InSight Crime, a blog that follows organized crime in the Americas
, an analysis of the news that Zetas cartel leader Miguel Treviño has been captured by authorities. The short version: expect more violence in the near term. Read the rest
In various cities in Mexico on Sunday, journalists from newspapers and independent online news organizations marched
to protest "violence that has claimed the lives of co-workers and silenced news media in parts of the country." Demonstrators chanted “Justice!” and “Solution!,” and demanded that authorities investigate a string of murders, kidnappings and threats—like the unsolved brutal attack that claimed the life of muckraking reporter Regina Martinez
. [LA Times, WaPo] Read the rest
In the Washington Post, an extensive report by Dana Priest on the changing role of the U.S. in Mexico’s intelligence war on drug cartels
. The article includes extensive details on how closely intertwined the CIA and other US agencies have become with Mexican law enforcement entities:
The administration of former president Felipe Calderon had granted high-flying U.S. spy planes access to Mexican airspace for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Unarmed Customs and Border Protection drones had flown from bases in the United States in support of Mexican military and federal police raids against drug targets and to track movements that would establish suspects’ “patterns of life.” The United States had also provided electronic signals technology, ground sensors, voice-recognition gear, cellphone-tracking devices, data analysis tools, computer hacking kits and airborne cameras that could read license plates from three miles away.
(HT: Shannon Young) Read the rest
: "Scott Masumoto of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration cited state health statistics that more than 152,000 West Virginians have an addiction to prescription medication — more than 8 percent of the population. But Masumoto said the price of these pills can be $80 or more apiece, making it difficult for teenagers to sustain their addictions, so they are moving to "cheaper" alternatives such as heroin." (Via Sanho Tree) Read the rest
This groundbreaking new documentary uncovers the UN sanctioned war on drugs, charting its origins and its devastating impact on countries like the USA, Colombia and Russia.
An excellent long read on the growing phenomenon of prescription drug overdoses in Southern California, which a Los Angeles Times investigative team reports "now claim more lives than heroin and cocaine combined, fueling a doubling of drug-related deaths in the United States over the last decade."
Health and law enforcement officials seeking to curb the epidemic have focused on how OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and other potent pain and anxiety medications are obtained illegally, such as through pharmacy robberies or when teenagers raid their parents' medicine cabinets. Authorities have failed to recognize how often people overdose on medications prescribed for them by their doctors.
A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor's prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.
Reporters identified a total of 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs from 2006 through 2011 in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties.
Not one of them was from marijuana, which remains a schedule 1 narcotic and is responsible for zero overdose deaths because one cannot die from a marijuana overdose.
Read the rest. Reporting by Scott Glover, Lisa Girion, with photos and video by Liz Baylen.
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[Video Link] Police officers in Sierra Blanca, Texas made the world safer by arresting Fiona Apple for possession of hashish. She was scheduled to play in Austin.
The “Criminal” singer had her bus stopped for inspection in Sierra Blanca, Texas, the same place where Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Armie Hammer have all been pinched in the past. Cops turned up the hash somewhere on the bus and arrested the singer for possession.
Fiona Apple arrested for hash possession, being a bad, bad girl Read the rest
“Illicit drug use is a form of domestic terrorism to some extent,” Wilmington, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Begonis said today
. “It is preying on folks who are more susceptible and who need a better life. And it’s something that we need to deal with head on.” Like hell, writes Mike Riggs at Reason.com
. (via @radleybalko) Read the rest
The election of the first black US president offered hope to millions of African Americans across the country. But have four years of an Obama presidency seen positive change for black communities in the US’ inner cities? Fault Lines’ Sebastian Walker spends time with those on the front lines of the failed drug war to understand some fundamental dynamics of race, poverty, incarceration and economic truths in the US in an election year.
"Don't ever think it's a war on drugs. It's a war on the blacks. It started as a war on the blacks and it's now spread to Hispanics and poor whites… it was designed to take that energy coming out of the civil rights movement and destroy it," says Ed Burns, co creator of The Wire
, who is interviewed in the program.
Fault Lines : Baltimore: Anatomy of an American City (Via The Agitator) Read the rest