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The Canadian Conservatives have lied and used every trick they have to pass Bill S-10.  This law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in Canada.  The United States induced mandatory minimum sentences in the 1980’s at the height of drug war hysteria.  These laws paved the way for the prison industrial complex, consisting of corporate for-profit prisons, that exists today in the US.  As a result the US has the highest prison population in the world and the highest disparity in sentencing between whites and blacks.  This is exactly what the Canadian Conservatives are creating in Canada.

Canada’s neighbors and many countries around the world are beginning to ease up on their marijuana and drug laws.  The Canadian Conservatives however are chasing a failed US policy from the 1980’s.  The Conservatives even have the audacity to announce that this legislation is much welcomed by Canadians.  Justice minister Rob Nicholson on Bill S-10,

“we are absolutely convinced in our consultation with Canadians that this is welcomed across the country.” link1

“It does cost money to incarcerate people and I believe that Canadians have been willing to pay those costs up to this point and they’ll continue to do so. If we don’t, then Canadians will be further victimized. That’s what victims groups tell me all the time.” link2

Right now US states are beginning to take steps to legalize marijuana.  Today marijuana is legal and semi legal in many US states:

  • 15 states with legal medical marijuana
  • 9 with medical marijuana dispensaries
  • 13 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana
  • 4 states have voted on full legalization for recreational use

Most notably Proposition 19 which would have legalized marijuana in California lost 44.1% to 55.9% on Nov 2.  There are a handful of states trying to legalize marijuana in 2011 and 2012 and many others fighting for medical marijuana and decriminalization.  In addition Mexico decriminalized all drugs in 2009 including hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.  Canada attempted to decriminalize pot in 2004 but it was shot down by pressure from the US, who ironically had already decriminalized in 13 states.

In a recent visit to Ottawa US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowski, had this to say,

Lawmakers in almost every single state in the U.S. are looking to reduce mandatory minimum penalties because prison populations have exploded with non-violent drug offenders.

The Conservatives argue that Bill S-10 will give police to tools to bring down organized crime.  They insist that this law targets “the ‘kingpins’ or major players in the drug trade”.  Since when do the Hells Angels or UN gang run a grow op with only 6 plants?  This law specifically targets small time growers for the purpose of filling prisons.  The Conservatives are not stupid and they do not really believe their own lies.  They are cold manipulative liars with a diabolical agenda.  Here is a breakdown of the penalties that Bill S-10 will impose on Canadians, check out cannabisfacts.ca for more info.

Bill S-10 passed on November 4 with final vote in the Senate of 7 to 4.  That’s all 7 of the Conservative senators on the committee vs the 4 Liberals.  All that is standing in the way of S-10 becoming law is the signature of the Governor General.

The Senate committee heard testimony from numerous witnesses and experts who overwhealmingly showed that S-10 is a bad law and will do the exact opposite of what the Conservatives said it will.

Howard Sapers, the independent ombudsman for federal offenders, told the Senate committee,

“There is a large body of research that points to both the lack of a deterrent effect for mandatory minimum sentences and the fact that they can lead to significant increases in the prison population, with little or no impact on public safety.”

Check out the video of the police officer’s testimony in the senate hearings, testimony.  Here is another link to videos of many other expert speakers on this law.

Bill S-10 is not the only law that Harper’s Conservatives are pushing.  They are on a mission.  In fact 40% of all bills tabled since the Conservatives came to power have to do with reforming the criminal justice system.  Here are some of their recent bills,

  • Bill C-25 (passed) – ends “two-for-one” sentencing credit for time that prisoners spend in pre-trial custody
  • Bill C-19 (passed) – increase maximum sentence for street racing (14 years to life)
  • Bill C-9 (passed) – remove alternative sentencing (house arrest) for serious crimes
  • Bill C-10 (passed) – mandatory minimum sentences for offences involving a firearm
  • Bill C-32 (in senate) – would create an offence of operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance
  • Bill C-2 (passed) – group of laws called “Tackling Violent Crime Act”, new tougher sentences
  • Bill S-9 (in senate) mandatory minimums for auto theft
  • Bill S-6 (re-introduced) – repeal “faint hope” clause for life sentences
  • Bill C-36 (in senate) – safety of consumer products, very controversial check out the Facebook group

The crime rate fell three percent in Canada last year, and is down 17 percent in the past decade, while the Crime Severity Index is down 22 percent since 1999. Violent crime is also down and represents less than one-quarter of one percent of all crime, while the homicide rate is two-thirds of its peak in the 1970s.

Despite the fact that there is less crime Harper released this statement in 2006,

If we are to protect our Canadian way of life, we need to crack down on gun, gang and drug crime…. If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time.

Harper’s Conservatives have taken major steps to the corporatization of Canada’s prisons.

  1. In April 2007, then-Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day created a panel to conduct a sweeping review of the federal prison system.
  2. Day’s panel released their final report titled “A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety.
  3. A task force was created to strategically implement the Roadmap titled ‘The Transformation Team.’

One recommendation of the Roadmap was to ‘modernize’ Corrections’physical infrastructure by building ‘regional complexes’ (super prisons) containing up to 2200 cells, combining minimum, medium, and maximum security, as well as a ‘special handling unit’ aimed at long-term incarceration in complete isolation and under heavy surveillance.

Canada’s first corporate super jail was the Central North Correctional Centre built at Penetaguishene, Ont.  This prison was run by an American corporation called “Management and Training Corporation“.

The Roadmap also called for a strengthening of so-called Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in super prison construction. While it falls short of advocating for full private management, which was the case in Penetanguishene, it advocates for the privatization of every other part of the process: financing, construction, maintenance, and service delivery (e.g. foodproviders). This process is called backdoor privatization; when carried out to its logical endpoint, it results in a weak, token public agency charged with overseeing an operation entirely carried out by a far more robust profit-driven private sector.   The Roadmap also recommended to eliminate credit for time served before trial which as already come to pass in the form of Bill C-25.

Soon after its inception the Transformation Team began to scale-back maintenance investment in the existing prison infrastructure.  This led to the decay of present facilities and created the need for constructing new infrastructure.

In March 2010 Stockwell Day announced that the federal government needs to spend $9 billion on “much-needed” new prisons.  His reason was “unreported crimes

“We’re very concerned about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening,” Stockwell Day

The irony is that unreported crimes are crimes for which nobody is charged or imprisoned.  Despite this obvious attempt to pull the wool over our eyes the spending was approved and the Conservatives are moving ahead with their corporate prison agenda.

Mandatory sentences along with corporate prisons and government policies have created the enormous prison population in the US.  The United States adult prison population now exceeds two million inmates, an average of 724 citizens per 100,000 members of the American population.  In Canada the current rate is 102 prisoners per 100,000 population (one seventh that of the United States).  We are on track to reach US numbers if the Conservative plan is allowed to continue.  Comparable rates in other countries are 98 in Germany, 92 in Italy, 80 in France, 64 in Sweden, 61 in Denmark and 69 in Iceland.

Despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory sentences and corporate prisons have zero effect on crime rates the Conservatives are going forward with their law and order agenda.  The current government under Harper will not change direction based on moral persuasion or sound logic.  This government is driven by a merger of hardened ideologues and religious fundamentalists.  Any strategy based on persuading the Conservatives to ‘do the right thing’ is doomed to fail.  Wake the fuck up Canada.  We need to get rid of Harper and his deranged political party before it is too late.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2011:

Bill S-10 got sent back to house of commons.  That is not the typical process for a Canadian bill and it has already been through the house.  I don’t understand how or why it happened but thank god it did.  The NDP and Liberals are poised to vote against the bill which will kill the bastard where it lies, LINK.  Its not over yet but if there is a shred of democracy left in this country reason will prevail.

Here is some mainstream news articles about the same subject, LINK1, LINK2.

CIA agents called in a hit on a small plane that was suspected to be smuggling drugs.  They could not have been more wrong.  Jim and Veronica Bowers were American missionaries working in the jungle in Northern Peru.

They were flying back to camp with their two children, six-year-old son Cory and infant daughter Charity, who was sitting on Veronica Bowers’s lap, when their Cessna aircraft was mistakenly targeted by CIA spotters in 2001.  Watch the shocking video below,

The CIA reconissance team called in the hit without even checking the plane’s markings.  After they called in the Peruvian military to attack the plane the CIA operatives began to have doubts.  It was not until it was way to late that they tried to call off the hit.  Veronica Bowers and her daughter were killed by the gunfire.

The incident was covered up by lies and attempts to delay the investigation.  The CIA’s own investigation, concluded in 2005, wrapped up without charges against anyone involved.  After this video surfaced the CIA says 16 agents were “diciplined” even though they insisted that none of its officers had acted inappropriately.  Whatever dicipline was given to these agents it was not any kind of serious punishment.

In a CIA statement given to the American media on Feb 3rd they blame the Peruvian government,

CIA officers did not shoot down any airplane. In the case of the tragic downing of April 21st, 2001, CIA personnel protested the identification of the missionary plane as a suspect drug trafficker.

What the fuck are they doing shooting down planes in the first place?  Even if the plane was full of drug smugglers they still deserve a trial.  Do you get shot if you smuggle weed across the US border in a car?

Investigations revealed that the Cessna was one of 15 small civilian aircraft shot down during the covert programme from 1995 to 2001. The CIA inspector-general said in November that in most cases the flights were shot down “without being properly identified, without being given the required warnings to land, and without being given time to respond to such warnings as were given to land”.

The CIA and DEA really think they are Team America World Police.  US agencies have committed numerous terrorist attacks and atrocities in South America in the name of the war on drugs.  Remember the Iran-Contra scandal?  Who knows how much they are still covering up.  The war on drugs is a war on the people.  It needs to end.

A new hydroponics store opened in Oakland California on January 28.  The thing that sets this store apart from all the other hydroponics stores is that it is huge.  This store is in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse.  iGrow is based their store design on Ikea, they have a variety of hydroponic systems layed out on display.  There is a doctor on site who can issue a medical marijuana card as well as technicians who will travel to your house and help you set up your new pot growing equipment.  The only thing this store doesn’t have is clones.  Check out this video,

So what its a huge pot growing store.  The store itself is not all that significant but the media coverage that it is getting is.  It is one more notch in the belt of the legalization movement and perhaps a glimpse of what the post-prohibition world will be like.

2009 hosted several firsts in the legal marijuana industry. In March 2009 the first publicly traded medical marijuana company, Medical Marijuana Inc, was founded.  It is a consulting company for medical marijuana businesses.  Last year in Colorado a gourmet marijuana restaurant opened called Ganja Gourmet.  It is the first marijuana restaurant.

Each of these businesses helps get society ready for the legal marijuana industry that is to come.  Recreational marijuana possession is still illegal throughout the US.  Pot is decriminalized in many states for non-medical use but it is still against the law and trafficking and cultivation are met with long prison sentences.  Up here in Canada it is 100% illegal for non-medical use.  There are not any marijuana producing corporations yet unless you count gangs and cartels which have multi-billion dollar market share on the black market.

With all the progress in the anti-prohibition movement over the last year a government fear mongering effort was inevitable. After all it is the job of the government to maintain the status quo.

Last night in Canada our national TV station, CBC, aired two 1 hour documentaries about marijuana. The first one was on David Suzuki’s Nature of Things. Suzuki is very well respected in Canada, he ranked fifth in “the Greatest Canadian” vote hosted on CBC.  Last night’s episode was titled “The Downside of High” and focussed mainly on the cannabis-schizophhrenia link.  As Loopy Lettuce readers know that is a total myth.  Suzuki quoted a study that was done in the 80s which showed a weak causal relationship at best, read the  schizophrenia myth for more on that.

He also used the marijuana potency myth.  “This isn’t your grandma’s weed” is the jist of it.  The documentary was not objective and ignored newer studies that disprove the cannabis-schizophhrenia link.  The second documentary was called CannaBiz and showed the organized crime connection in the marijuana industry.  It was a generally anti-prohibition documentary and even featured interviews with Marc Emery.  Suzuki’s show was clearly placed in the lineup to give an anti-marijuana message before CannaBiz was shown.  It was obvious fear mongering and CBC is not alone.

The National Post published an eerily similar article the same day, Jan 28 (LINK).  This article was much more blatant fear mongering than the Nature of Things.  If you have any doubts this quote from the article will set the record straight,

Despite what some of its advocates might claim, any “medicinal” qualities are bred right out of the stuff that’s sold on the streets. It’s not wacky anymore. It’s dangerous.

I hope the author, Brian Hutchinson, reads this; medical marijuana is exactly the same as street marijuana.  Many medical growers sell their excess in the black market and the overwhelming majority of Canadian medical cannabis users buy their weed on the “streets”.  He used the potency myth too.  The article says “[BC bud is] 130% more potent than marijuana produced just a decade ago.”  That little “fact” was competely fabricated in order to scare readers.  It is a lie.  I live in BC and I rarely get the high end pot discussed in these propaganda pieces.  When I do it is fucking awesome!  BC bud is not one kind of weed, as Hutchinson points out it is “a catch-all term for locally grown marijuana.”  There is shitty weed in BC too but overall we do have some of the best pot in the world.  It is not some diabolical scheme to hook young addicts as the propaganda would have you believe, we just try harder because we love good pot.

BC bud is being demonized the same way “skunk” is in the UK.  Newspapers in that country have made alarmist claims about skunk and the non-existent schizophrenia risk for some time now.  The British media is the main distributor of this particular propaganda.  Here are some of the UK media claims:

From this article,

Cannabis has been implicated in a string of vicious killings, including the recent stabbing of fashion designer Lucy Braham.

This article is even worse,

Addicts will kill more people unless the Government takes tougher action against super-strength cannabis, a mental health charity has warned.

This headline says it all, “Skunk Linked to Huge Increase in Risk of Psychotic Disease

There are literally hundreds of similar articles published in the UK in the last couple years.  It is all lies, and founded in gutter science.  This is brainwashing.  Marijuana, unlike alcohol or cocaine, does not lead to violence.  It has been shown scientifically again and again.

About a month ago Canadian newspapers headlined some more marijuana junk science.  Read about it here.  A study from McGill University in Montreal used rats and powerful synthetic cannabinoids to show that marijuana damages adolecent humans’ brains.  Paul Armentano does a great job of cutting through the media lies.

At the end of December the Conservative government began an anti-pot media campaign with TV commercials and print ads.  The Conservatives also introduced legislation that will introduce mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana crimes and US style drug courts.  Stephen Harper’s affinity for the US war on drugs is pretty damn obvious.  Previous Canadian governments were smart enough to stay away from a full on war on drugs but Harper didn’t get the memo.  The US has placed anti pot messages in TV shows since the Nixon regime.  It is pretty obvious what Harper and his team are up to.

The government knows that pot is harmless, their own commission proved it in 2002.  There are volumes of scientific evidence that  prove marijuana is the safest drug.  So why is the government spending millions of our own tax dollars to brainwash us against pot?  I don’t know the answer to that.  The government has something big to gain from marijuana prohibition and my bet is its money.  One way or another they aren’t going to give in without a fight.

Last night (Dec 28) I caught an anti-marijuana commercial while watching TV. Nothing unusual except this was put on by the Canadian government. It showed a kid being offered a pull on a joint, he then had flashbacks of getting busted for ecstasy and other drugs. You can watch the ad below.

Incidentally I witnessed the beginning of Prime Minister Harper’s new anti-drug media campaign. Anotner step towards the americanization of Canada. The campaign includes advertisements in buses, trains, subways and shopping malls across Canada, as well as Internet banners on websites popular with teens. The strategy is an exact copy of the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) which has been going on since the 80s and has been proven to be ineffective. The PDFA brought us such ads as “this is your brain on drugs” and the recent “above the influence” camaign. The not4me.ca website is clearly inspired by abovetheinfluence.com. It uses a more appealing website design than standard Canadian government pages to keep young people’s attention. Compare this site to this one and you’ll see what I mean.

A major, and critical, difference between PDFA and the new Conservative campaign is that PDFA is sponsored by corporations not governemnt. Check out the list of sponsors for Harper’s campaign, SPONSOR LIST. Many contributers are Canadian police groups including: Canadian Police Association, Justice Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Another one that really stands out is Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Nearly all the sponsors are organizations funded by taxpayer money. Harper is once again using our own money against us.

To Harper’s credit the “facts” section stays closer to the real facts than PDFA and DEA. While the PDFA says,

Marijuana is addictive with more teens in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.

The Conservative campaign uses carful wording using words like “may” and “has the potential”. The not4me.ca website says,

Cannabis has the potential to be psychologically and physically addictive.

Here’s another quote that really disturbed me,

Marijuana has over 400 chemicals and some of the same toxic substances found in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer.

If you read that sentence carfully it does not actually say marijuana causes cancer. Although the sentence is technically true it gives a very negative impression of marijuana.  That is exactly what Harper is counting on.  Marijuana has not been proven to cause cancer, in fact it has been proven to cure cancer (articleRick Simpson). The Conservative government has launched a Canadian war on drugs. Its a little late in the game though, the US is taking baby steps towards legalization and the rest of the world is easing their pot laws. I don’t think Harper got the memo.

The national anti-drug srategy is new government plan to ramp up the war on drugs in Canada. Only a few years after the Liberal government tried to decriminalize in 2004 (shot down by pressure from the US) the Harper regime took a U-turn. Look at the budget on this thing, from the drug strategy backgrounder,

The Government of Canada has committed $30 million in new funding over five years to support the Prevention Action Plan.

Conservatives introduced legislation like bill C-15 (mandatory minimum sentences, increased maximums), increased justice budgets and put more cops on the street. They are also promoting DEA style drug courts and other tenants of the failed US drug war. Drug courts promote court-monitored rehab over prison (more on rehab).

Harper is Canada’s George W Bush. We need to get that fucker out before its too late!

What a year for marijuana!  More progress has been made in 2009 than the previous three decades combined. Marijuana discussion has hit the mainstream with major articles in publications like Fortune Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS News, CNN, the Economist and dozens of others!  Let’s take a look at the top ten news stories of this momentous year.

1. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps Caught Smoking Bong

The photo of Michael Phelps hitting a bong was on the front page of every newspaper in February.  The sight of the world’s greatest Olympic athlete smoking pot got people talking.  This story broke less than a year after he won the most Olympic medals in history.  Phelps lost some major sponsors, including Kelloggs, but some stayed behind him.  Subway capitalized on the media attention and released TV ads starring Phelps with the slogan “Be Yourself” (Youtube).  Kellogg’s reputation sank after dropping Phelps largely due to a boycott in support of the athlete (link). Not even an industry-wide peanut scare inflicted as much damage on the food company’s reputation.

2. US Federal Government Stops Medical Raids

Until 2009 the DEA was raiding medical marijuana dispensaries even though they were legal under state law.  Under the Bush regime these raids peaked.  Thirteen US states have allowed the sale of medical marijuana with California being number one.  There are over 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in LA alone.  Obama stated early in the year that he opposed  these raids but it was not till October that it became official.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

3. American Medical Association Calls for Government to Review Marijuana Restrictions

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drugs in the US.  That means it has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.  Cocaine and methamphetamine are in the lower classification Schedule II.  The official AMA statement reads

The AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.

The AMA statement shows that marijuana has undeniable medical uses and federal law should reflect that reality.

4. Marc Emery Gets Fucked Over by US Feds

The Prince of Pot was arrested in Canada on orders from the US DEA.  He was arrested in 2005 and the long extradition battle finally ended this year.  Marc was targeted because of his involvement in the marijuana legalization movement.  He was the leader of the BC Marijuana Party and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine.  The charges against Emery include Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana, Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering.  He was the owner of Emery Seeds a company that sold marijuana seeds to Canadian and US customers over the internet.  Canadian authorities have not pressed charges.  Marc expected to be sentenced to five years in US federal prison.  DEA does not dispute that Emery is a political prisoner they issued a press release lauding his arrest as a blow to the legalization movement.  More on Marc Emery.

5. Latin America Ex-Leaders Say Drug War is a Failure

Cesar Gaviria, former president of Columbia, has joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to try to change the debate on drugs in Latin America.  Trafficking gangs have killed tens of thousands of people and weakened democracies through corruption. The presidents form a group called Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.  They say

the war against drugs is failing and the U.S. government should break with prohibition policies that have achieved little more than cram its prisons and stoke violence.

The commission’s report was successful in changing they way Latin America thinks about illicit drug use.

6. Mexico and Argentina Decriminalize Marijuana and Other Drugs

Mexican congress voted to decriminalize marijuana and other drugs in June.  The bill says users caught with small amounts( 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, 40 milligrams of methamphetamine or 50 milligrams of heroin) of drugs will not be criminally prosecuted.  Argentina followed Mexico’s lead in August of this year.  The Argentine supreme court ruled that drug laws were in conflict with the constitution.  Possession and consumption of small amounts of narcotics were decriminalized. In exchange, the government will publicly fund drug treatment programs for minor offenders and addicts, much like other nations, including the Netherlands and Spain.  Brazil and Ecuador have plans to decriminalize as well.

7. California Proposes Bill to Legalize Marijuana

In February Tom Ammiano of the California State Assembly proposed a bill titled The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act.  This bill would legalize marijuana and tax it in the same way as alcohol.  If passed marijuana would be legally sold to anyone over the age of 21.  To obtain a commercial grow license one would pay an initial $5,000 fee, then a $2,500 fee each year after that. A tariff of $50 per ounce would also be placed on all sold and grown marijuana.  An estimated $1 billion in annual revenue would be made.  The bill has been delayed and is expected to be heard by state committee in early 2010.  The press jumped on this story broadcasting it all over the world.  It got people talking about the financial benefits of legalization.

8. Breckenridge, Colorado Voters Legalize Marijuana and Paraphernalia

The small ski town in Colorado voted 3 to 1 for the legalization measure.  It was placed on the ballot after campaigners turned in a petition with almost three-times the number of signatures required.  Breckenridge is the first place to legalize paraphernalia in the US. Possession of marijuana is already decriminalized in Colorado, up to 1 oz results in nothing more than a $100 fine.  Drug laws are not determined at the municipal level but this measure makes marijuana possession a low priority for police.

9. Five Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

In 2001 Portugal decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs.  The country was facing rising levels of HIV and drug related deaths.  They took the bold move in an effort to focus on treatment and prevention instead of incarceration.  A report published in the spring of 2009 by the Cato Institute, a Washington libertarian think tank, showed the real world benefits of decriminalization.  Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006.  The report shot down the assumption that liberalizing drug laws will create an increase in drug use and addiction, one of the DEA’s top ten reasons against legalization.

10. British Drug Advisor Fired for Saying Pot is Safer Than Alcohol.

David Nutt was chair of the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and a professor of neuropsychopharmacology.  The British government moved cannabis from Class C to the more restrictive Class B in opposition to Nutt’s recommendations. According to Nutt, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made “completely irrational statements” about the dangers of marijuana use. According to Nutt:

“I’m not prepared to mislead the public about the harmfulness of drugs like cannabis and Ecstasy.”

His opponents say he embarrassed the British government, which toughened the penalties for possessing marijuana earlier this year.  The decision to fire David Nutt was no doubt tied to the upcoming general election.  After all, it’s hard to convince voters you’re on their side when your own drug advisor is going about telling them you’re full of shit.

Runner Up

Drug Czar Calls for End to the War on Drugs

The head of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, aka the drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske said in an interview that the Obama government wants to make changes to the drug war.  The new strategy will spend more money on treating addiction and scale down the war on drugs rhetoric as part of an overhaul of U.S. counternarcotics strategy. He emphasized the point that “legalization is not on the table” and that the war will continue but they don’t want to use the title “War on Drugs” any more.

On Dec 3, the United States senate will debate the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. The legislation will create a commission that will conduct an intensive review of the criminal justice system over 18 months. The main focus of the commission will be the nation’s sky-high incarceration rate, international and domestic gang violence, and restructure the county’s approach to drug policy. You can read the bill online (S.714).

US Senate

Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia introduced the bill. Webb said the bill includes “very careful examination of all aspects of drug policy. … I think everything should be on the table.”

This is a huge step forward for the anti-prohibition movement. The last government study group to look at drug policy, the 1972 Shafer Commission, recommended that President Richard Nixon decriminalize marijuana. He didn’t. The US federal government has made some big steps already this year and Obama is a very different president than Nixon. If you live in the US check out NORML’s tips for contacting your members of Congress, they even have pre-written letters (NORML).

Webb called the current drug laws a “national disgrace,” and said the elephant in the room is sky-high incarceration rates for drug users due to the U.S.’s 40-year-old War on Drugs. Webb also remarked “Our system is cripplingly large and marred by wrongful incarcerations, poor rehabilitative treatment and mental health care and a price tag of $44 billion a year on prisons alone.”

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