US Marijuana Party

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

American style drug war begins in China??

In March of this year it was announced that the US and China were about to begin co-operating by sharing "drug war intelligence."

I've yet to see anythiing intelligent about the drug war.....

But, an American Style Crackdown has begun in China.

How do those words roll off your tounge?

American Style Crackdown.

It makes me physically ill.

How I long for the days of yore when one could say "This ain't China....This is America" when defending freedom.

I think we will soon hear from remote parts of the globe the phrase...."This ain't America...."

The following is a quote from D.E.A. director, Karen Tandy.

From my own country, the United States, I am so very honored to announce that a little over a month ago when I went to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region we signed a memorandum of intent to expand our partnership and begin a new era of intelligence sharing that will allow us to jointly target, jointly investigate and dismantle the international drug trafficking organizations on that continent.

And here is that plan in action.


Chinese officials issued an unusual appeal to the public yesterday for help fighting drug trafficking, acknowledging in a nationally televised news conference that they have failed to stop surging narcotics abuse despite repeated crackdowns.

Drug smuggling and the difficulty of fighting it are rising as a result of globalization and freer trade, the officials said, citing the seizure this month of 400kg of the party drug ketamine brought in from India via the Middle East.

"Although we've made a lot of achievements, the spread of drug problems remains serious," said Yang Fengrui, secretary-general of the National Narcotics Control Commission. "Heroin use is down in some areas, but the use of new drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana and others is increasing."

Communist Party leaders declared a "People's War on Drugs" last month, Feng said. He appealed to the public to inform on traffickers and to help addicts reform -- a rare step by a government that usually says it can handle crime and social problems on its own.

"The situation in the Golden Triangle still does not allow for optimism."

"This 'People's War on Drugs' cannot go ahead without the support of the broad masses," Feng said.

Communist leaders have been increasingly open in recent years about the spreading use of heroin and other drugs. But even by those standards, Feng and other officials at the news conference were strikingly candid about the failure of official efforts to stamp out narcotics abuse.

"Since the beginning of the 1980s, the problem of drugs has been dealt with by the government and the party, but it has never been resolved," Feng said.

Earlier this year, Chinese police announced that two informers split a reward of 200,000 yuan ( US$24,000 ) - a huge sum by Chinese standards - - for a tip that led to the capture of a gang leader accused of making 14 tons of methamphetamine. Last year, Chinese police arrested 67,000 people on drug charges, seized 10.8 tons of heroin and 2.7 tons of methamphetamines, according to a report distributed at Feng's news conference. Some 273,000 people were sent to compulsory drug treatment centers last year, the report said. They said the number of known addicts rose 6.8 percent last year to 791,000, including 679,000 heroin users.

Experts say the true figures are much higher. In addition, the report said, "addicts of new types of drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine, [used] in entertainment places, are increasing rapidly."

In the case this month, police in the southern province of Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, seized ketamine, methamphetamines, and more than 1.36 tonnes of drug-making chemicals, said Ji Mengyuan, deputy director of the province's Anti-Narcotics Bureau.

Ji said 22 members of a drug gang led by a Hong Kong resident were arrested and police seized a drug-making laboratory.

Drug smuggling and manufacturing by gangs with ties to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines also is growing, Feng said.

Opium use was widespread in China before the 1949 revolution, with as many as 20 million addicts. The communists stamped it out by the early 1950s, sending addicts to labor camps and executing traffickers. But heroin use surged after social controls were loosened with the start of economic reforms in 1979. The heroin trade is fueled by imports from the "Golden Triangle" of Burma, Laos and northern Thailand that abuts southern China.

"The situation in the Golden Triangle still does not allow for optimism," Feng said.

From the SAMHSA 2006 Budget

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Significant Items for the House, Senate and Conference
Appropriations Committee Reports
House Report No. 108-636
[Assessment of study identifying teenagers at risk] – The Committee is deeply concerned that 5% to 9% of all children suffer from a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder, which, if undiagnosed and untreated, can substantially interfere with academic achievement, or lead to student dropout, substance abuse, violent behavior, or suicide. In its July 2003 report, the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health concluded that greater reliance on early detection, assessment and links with adequate treatment and support systems can help avoid or ameliorate these outcomes.
The report concluded that schools are in a unique position to identify mental health problems in their early stages and can provide a link to appropriate services. The report also cited examples of evidence-based screening techniques and tools already being utilized by some schools. The Committee is aware that SAMHSA is overseeing a very promising pilot study utilizing evidence-based screening techniques and tools to screen and identify teenagers who are at risk. The Committee urges SAMHSA to evaluate the effectiveness of that pilot study and, if proven successful, expand to additional sites. The Committee expects SAMSHA to work in collaboration with the Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools, and to report on concrete steps being taken to promote early screening and detection programs available in schools prior to the fiscal year 2006 appropriations hearings. (Page 118)

Action taken or to be taken
SAMHSA is currently overseeing two promising pilot projects utilizing evidence-based school screening programs aimed at suicide prevention. These two pilot programs utilize Screening for Mental Health, Inc.'s Signs of Suicide Program, which in a recent, published study was shown to reduce self-reported suicide attempts, and the Columbia University’s TeenScreen program, identified as a model program by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Both pilot projects focus on examining how successful these screening programs are in being able to refer to treatment youth identified as being at risk for suicide. The first pilot project utilizes the Signs of Suicide program and is examining school based referral systems at 20 school sites in five different states to obtain preliminary data regarding the
accessibility of treatment for youth identified through screening as being at risk. This pilot project is also obtaining preliminary data regarding parental response to the identification of youths at risk through this screening process. Complete data are not yet available.

The second pilot project is collaboration between the Teen Screen program and the University of South Florida. This pilot project is examining the same issues as the pilot with Signs of Suicide, and is currently identifying methods to strengthen its evaluation of adherence to follow up recommendations for treatment of at risk youth identified in the screening. In addition, in FY 2005 SAMHSA will issue a Request for Applications for $1,984,000 in competitive grants to further test the use of screening mechanisms and identify evidence-based practices to facilitate treatment for adolescents at risk for mental disorders and suicide. The models tested will include Signs of Suicide and TeenScreen. These grants will also evaluate whether the models tested are effective in varying settings and/or for different populations.
These grants should provide information necessary to determine whether such programs should be promoted as national models in suicide prevention.
Since 1999, HHS/SAMHSA has worked in collaboration with the Departments of Education
(Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools) and Justice on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program. By the end of the 2003-2004 school year, 190 Safe Schools/Healthy Students sites provided services to 182 school districts and approximately 5.6 million students. Through this program, grantees must address within their comprehensive plans, school-based screening and assessment to detect depression and other mental health disorders, appropriate school-based mental health prevention and early intervention services, and referral and follow-up with local public mental health agencies when treatment is indicated. This element of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students comprehensive plan is to provide mental health preventive services early to reduce risk of onset or delay the onset of emotionally and behavioral problems for some children, and to identify those children who already have serious emotional disturbance and to ensure that they receive appropriate referral, treatment and follow-up services.

Psycho Feds Target Children by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

Mental Health Screening in Schools Signals the End of Parental Rights by Nancy Levant SierraTimes

April DEA Microgram Bulletin

Stories include heroin being smuggled inside bricks of cocaine

"This appears to be the first ever report of concealing heroin bricks inside cocaine bricks. It is postulated that this unusual concealment technique was utilized to deceive mid-level transporters, who charge higher rates for heroin shipments versus cocaine shipments"

and a meth superlab in Georgia.

"On February 9, 2005, DEA agents seized a methamphetamine laboratory from a Smyrna residence and arrested three illegal aliens from Mexico. During a search of the residence, agents seized over 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 39 pounds of powdered methamphetamine, and several 30 to 55 gallon containers filled with liquid methamphetamine. In addition, agents discovered 24 garbage bags full of empty pseudoephedrine packages that would have held an estimated 240,000 tablets."

Somehow I doubt they walked into Wal-Mart and bought 240,000 pseudoephedrine tablets.

Medical marijuana in New York? No.

Drug fighter predicts crime wave


As parents today struggle to keep their children drug free, they need to arm themselves with the facts about the dangers of marijuana and be aware of the deceptive campaigns that attempt to legitimize this illicit substance. Recently, New York lawmakers introduced two bills in the state's Senate and Assembly. These bills would legalize the possession, manufacture, sale, administration, delivery, dispensing and distribution of marijuana in connection with so-called medical use. Efforts such as these have contributed to the increased use of marijuana and other drugs by young people.

In 1996, California voters approved the use of marijuana for pseudo-medicinal purposes. Since that time 10 other states have approved its use for this purpose, and 33 more states have proposed similar legislation. As a result, between 1999 and 2001, marijuana use by juveniles increased 3.2% nationwide. This national average is far exceeded in most states that have legalized marijuana as a so-called medicine.

California and Colorado had a spike double the national rate, while Hawaii had quadruple the rate and Maine experienced a 54.4% increase. In addition, between 1992 and 2001 there was a 49% increase in adolescent admissions to treatment programs. Of these, marijuana admissions rose to 62% from 23%.

According to the FDA and every major medical association in the United States, there are no proven benefits to marijuana use for medical purposes. In areas where medical marijuana is legal, people are already toking up under the guise of treating other "serious maladies" such as premenstrual syndrome, athlete's foot and ingrown toenails. The reality is that most people with fatal diseases are not smoking pot to treat them - they are under the care of legitimate doctors and are receiving valid medicines to treat their ailments.

If New York makes an exception for the people who claim marijuana is a medicine, it will open the door to widespread marijuana use and fraudulent claims of illness for all drug users. It will have devastating effects for millions of families struggling to raise drug-free children and for those battling addiction.

Fay is executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting drug use and promoting effective drug policies.

Info on the Drug Free America Foundation from

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. is a "partner" of the United States Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Profits from selling cocaine make it a lucrative business venture, even with the high risks of prison or even death

By David Krotz / Winona Daily News
The profits from cocaine are so great that drug dealers have been known to use two and four-engine airplanes on one-way flights into the United States, abandoning the planes once delivery is made.
The reason so many people at all levels of society would risk incarceration and put their lives at risk to deliver and sell the euphoric drug is simple: A 15,000 to 20,000 percent markup in the cost of the drug from its source to the consumer.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Inmate Suicide

(Google News Search)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Update on Written Consent for Vehicle Searches in Texas

Our friend and ever vigilant legislative watcher Scott at Grits for Breakfast brings us these updates on the written consent legislation.

If this can be done in Texas it can be done anywhere!

FYI, three items on Texas legislation (SB 1195 by Hinojosa, passed and awaiting the Governor's signature) to require written or recorded consent for police to search at traffic stops:

* Written consent "preferred" by Texas prosecutor manual
* Written consent protects Texans' rights and prosecutors' cases
* Watch Texas House debate consent searches

State targets wire transfers

Susan Carroll
Republic Tucson Bureau
May. 28, 2005 12:00 AM

A task force that targets human-smuggling organizations by analyzing wire transfers has netted about $4 million since March, hitting traffickers hard during a prime time for illegal border crossings and resulting in at least 55 arrests.

But critics say Arizona's latest anti-smuggling initiative, which uses computer analysis to periodically target all Western Union transactions over $750, also has snared innocent people sending money to family members.

On April 1, Luis Martinez, an engineer whose wife used to work for the Arizona Attorney General's Office, went to a Western Union office in Tucson to pick up $1,000. His wife wired the money from Saipan, where she now works as a prosecutor, so he could pay bills and buy their teenage son medication after dental surgery.

He was told the money was frozen and eventually tracked down a detective.

"They grilled me like I was a criminal," Martinez said. "I was shocked. They assume everybody is guilty and let the chips fall where they may. It's wrong."

Martinez said he got the run-around from Western Union officials and investigators. He called 1-800 number after 1-800 number, he said, and was told at one point that his money was stolen.

After Martinez's wife, Marie, involved contacts from when she worked in the Attorney General's Office, the money was freed. The couple received an apologetic e-mail from the Attorney General's Office that said the system "misfired" in their case, he added.

"If my wife hadn't been an attorney, what would we have done to get that money back?" he asked. "I really feel for people who haven't done anything wrong but may not have the money for a lawyer. I just wonder how many people fall through the cracks."

Teenager shot by deputy

Associated Press

ROCK HILL, S.C. - Police say a teenager gave a deputy no choice but to fire at her when she tried to run him over during a traffic stop. But the young woman says she simply panicked and that officers didn't believe her at first when she told them she was shot.

Katrina Stover was in fair condition after Chester County sheriff's Cpl. Brandon Brown hit her with a single shot during Thursday's stop. Brown was working with members of York County's drug unit.

Stover, 18, has no prior criminal record, police said, but she now faces five drug charges, assault with intent to kill, child neglect and resisting arrest. A passenger in her car, Keewon Degraffenreid, 21, of Rock Hill was arrested on the same charges, police said.

According to a police report, officers tried to stop the Yukon after they saw the couple trafficking 67.5 grams of crack and cocaine and trying to buy two pounds of marijuana. Officers seized the drugs and $6,532 cash.

Stover told The (Rock Hill) Herald that she had been shopping with Degraffenreid, who she said is her boyfriend, and his 8-year-old niece and 6-year-old nephew when two undercover police cars pulled beside her.

She said the officers got out of their cars, and one pointed his gun in her open window. "I put my hands up and said, 'Don't shoot me!' " she told the newspaper.

She said Degraffenreid accidentally kicked the car into reverse while jumping into the back seat to protect the children. That made her panic and hit the gas, and then the shot was fired, she told The Herald.

"I felt something hit me and didn't know what it was," she said. Then, "I realized I was shot and held my stomach."

Stover said officers pulled her boyfriend out of a rear window to arrest him. She said she got out of the car to get help. "I said, 'I'm shot,' " Stover said. "They said, 'No, you're not.' "

Stover said she started to walk away, took two steps and fell to the ground. She said police picked her up and handcuffed her and told her she had been shocked with a Taser, not shot.

"I didn't think a Taser made you bleed," Stover said.

When Rock Hill police arrived, Stover said, an officer realized she was bleeding and had the handcuffs removed. Stover was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center.

Rock Hill Police Detective Les Herring said he doesn't know anything about Stover being handcuffed after she was shot and said any use of a Taser would have been in the incident report. The Herald said there was no mention of a Taser in the report.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Investigation into 19-year-olds beating death at Madison County Jail

Commissioner wants closer look at beating death of jail inmate

The Associated Press
May 27, 2005

The beating death of a 19-year-old man in jail for a misdemeanor has prompted a Madison County commissioner to question why he was sharing a cell with inmates charged with capital murder and sodomy, though other commissioners seemed less concerned.

"We want to find out specifically what's going on and why that took place," commissioner Bob Harrison said Friday. "We don't want to micromanage the sheriff's office, but certainly as the governing body of county we have a responsibility to know where and how that decision was made."

Ronald Pinchon died of chest injuries Saturday, apparently from a fight with six cellmates, who were charged with murder in his death, authorities said.

"Here you have a 19-year-old boy serving on a misdemeanor with people charged with some of the most severe offenses," said Mark McDaniel, attorney for Pinchon's family, on Friday. "Those are some of the questions we're going to ask in our investigation."

McDaniel said Pinchon was in jail on an unauthorized use of vehicle charge, but wouldn't elaborate further about his arrest.

However, Commissioner Mo Brooks saw no need for an investigation of the jail by the county.

"It's unfortunate that there was a loss of life but people who commit crime or are arrested for committing crimes can only expect to be housed with other criminals," he said.

Editorial addressing the above article

The wrong message
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Huntsville Times

Ignoring the slaying of Ronald Pinchon would be irresponsible

Problem No. 1 with Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks' dismissive attitude toward the death of 19-year-old Ronald Pinchon: Slayings are not merely mean.

Said Brooks to Huntsville Times reporter Challen Stephens about the brutal beating of Pinchon last Saturday in the Madison County jail: "Sometimes people are just mean to each other whether they are in jail or out of jail." True? Sure, but put Brooks' comment in this context: A young man's life was snuffed out, allegedly by one or more of his six cell mates. This goes far beyond meanness.

The unspoken message, perhaps, is that Pinchon got what he deserved. Run with the big dogs, son, and you're likely to get bit.

But was Pinchon really running with the big dogs? Was he really no different than the men who shared his cell?

Pinchon had been sentenced to a year in jail for unauthorized use of a vehicle. He had also violated his probation by not meeting with his probation officer. That's it.

Three of his cell mates, on the other hand, were facing capital murder charges. Another had been convicted of selling cocaine and intimidating a witness. Another has been charged with multiple counts of sodomy and assault.

Pinchon - whoever he was, whatever he had done - had not yet descended to their level of criminality. And for all we know, he may not have ever done so.

Back to Brooks, who also seems to feel that the County Commission doesn't need to be involved beyond the investigation the Sheriff's Department and Madison County district attorney will conduct. Madison County has a vested interest in operating a jail that is safe. A safe jail means little or no liability for the county. It means that the corrections officers who work there won't have to face unnecessary risks.

A safe jail is one less headache for the county. So why would any commissioner have a problem with a full investigation of the jail and the way it is operated?

Commissioner Bob Harrison said that he believes one is warranted. He seems to understand that it is imperative for the county to ensure that no other inmates in its care are killed.

Jails and prisons should not treat inmates as disposable people. Regardless of the charges facing them or the convictions on their record, each inmate's life has an inherent value - at least to God and their families, if to no one else.

Commissioner Brooks wants to be Alabama's next lieutenant governor. However, our state doesn't need leaders who are comfortable accepting the status quo. Alabama's leaders must be willing to confront our state's problems and be accountable for solving them.

If Brooks is really committed to serving in statewide office, he needs to revisit his position on Pinchon's death. Simply brushing it aside would be an irresponsible act reeking of a callous lack of accountability, something that neither the County Commission nor a viable candidate for statewide office can afford to do.

By David Person, for the editorial board

Madison County Sheriff's Department

View photos of the deceased and the accused

Learn more about Mo Brooks

Email Mo Brooks and let him know what you think of his comments

Friday, May 27, 2005

An Encounter with Alabama Pardons and Paroles

An Encounter with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles

It is widely known that Alabama has one of the worst, if not the worst prison system in the nation. Built to hold 12,000 inmates it currently houses around 29,000. In the last two years two additional parole boards have been formed to expedite the release of non-violent drug and/or property offenders in order to comply with federal court rulings demanding that the overcrowding situation be dealt with. Both of those boards have since been disbanded because the Attorney Generals office claimed that all of the inmates who were eligible for early parole had been released.

However, since the draconian drug laws that land so many Alabamians in prison were not changed the same number of people went into prison as were released, thereby negating any positive effect the early paroles would have had.

Just two weeks ago yet another special parole board was formed called the "Prison Task Force" and once again their stated mission is to study the overcrowding situation and figure out a way to release as many non-violent offenders as possible.

No one is really sure what unknown and incredibly elusive mystery this board hopes to uncover about our prison crisis that the two former boards failed to discover on our dime.

But I know. So, I am going to expose this incredibly elusive mystery. Maybe it will save the members of this new "task force" some time and us taxpayers some money.

On May 23, 2005 I appeared before the regular Alabama Pardons and Paroles Board (not the new task force) at the D.O.C. building in Montgomery, Alabama to speak on behalf of my older brother. I'll give you as brief an outline as possible on why he is in prison. Again.

1.Mental Illness.

(Randy displays symptoms of all of the following conditions; paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, bi-polar disorder, borderline multiple personality disorder and he seems unable to exert any control whatsoever over his impulses...seems to be a slave to them in fact... I don't know what term the psychological professionals would use for that particular quirk in Randy's personality)

He has from a very early age seemed to be in utter misery in his unaltered state of mind.

Back in the late 70's when his problems began to make themselves known, mental health for children was not common or easily accessible in rural Alabama. I assume our parents thought that Randy was having trouble adjusting to the divorce and acting out as a result. Randy was never taken to a psychiatrist or psychologist to be evaluated and by the time it was apparent something was wrong it was too late to save him from addiction. To date he has never been properly evaluated, diagnosed or treated for the underlying mental illnesses so he has only gotten worse.

This led to

2. Early experimentation and self-medication with mind altering substances (alcohol, pot, tobacco at the age of 9)

This led to

3.Severe alcoholism (including drinking rubbing alcohol strained through loaf bread, aftershave and mouthwash when nothing else was available), drug addiction (no specific drug...just whatever was handy and in copious amounts...there have been a number of hospitalizations, stomach pumpings and stays in CCU due to overdose.)

And these things of course led to a criminal record. DUI's, petty theft, pot possession.
All non-violent offenses.

Since his mid-teens Randy has been institutionalized in one way or another. He entered the Presbyterian Group Home in Talladega, Alabama at the age of 13. He and my brother wound up there as a result of the divorce and my mother being unable to care for all four children on her own.

He has been in and out of rehab clinics (mostly state run ones and the occasional mid-rate that mom's insurance would pay for), AA, halfway houses, state run mental health programs, jail and in 1996 he entered the Alabama prison system for the first time. His crime was alcohol related. All of his crimes are alcohol related.

Randy was allowed to enter the work release program at Kilby prison because his crime was non-violent and he was considered low risk.

One would think that work release would be designed to help a person learn a job skill for when they are released. After all, we want to do everything we can to help them not return to prison.

We want to keep them away from the things that landed them in prison, not place them directly in the line of temptation when we are supposed to be "correcting" them and punishing them.

For instance, we would reasonably expect the prison system not to place a child molester on work release at a daycare center or a bank robber in a teller window or a wife beater in a women's shelter.

But for some reason they placed my alcohol-addicted brother in a work release program where his job was to load 18-wheelers with cases of Budweiser.

No I am not kidding.

He lasted one day and walked off with a case under each arm, got rip-roaring, piss drunk and then peacefully turned himself in when he ran out of beer.

He was taken off work release and placed in the general population for the next four years.

Randy was released in 2000 and was back in the county jail before one year had passed on another alcohol related incident. This pattern continued until he was stopped for running a stop sign and found to have an open container of beer, charged with DUI and subsequently sentenced to 1 year in the county jail on a felony DUI conviction.

He was scheduled to get out in February of 2005 but in January he was caught with a can of Copenhagen in his cell and charged with promoting prison contraband. He was also found to have been drinking while out on a pass. He came back smelling of alcohol and came up positive on a breathalyzer.
The judge dropped the promoting prison contraband charge but charged him with the drinking and sentenced him to ten years in prison.

Randy came up for parole this week and I went with his wife (who is disabled) to the parole board hearing.

As a Libertarian I believe the government has no business attempting to fix people's personal problems. But since the government insists on using taxpayer money to address my brother's alcoholism I feel it is the least I could do to suggest that the money be spent in a way which has a chance of achieving positive results.

Before I went I called a friend of mine who works in the mental health and drug courts in Alabama and asked if there was a program we could get Randy into if he was granted parole. I told my friend Randy's history and my friend told me that their program would provide him a place at The Fellowship Halfway House, vocational rehab and extensive mental health evaluation, counseling and the proper medications along with whatever else was needed to help him start down the road to recovery.

It isn't very often that families are given that kind of ammo when going before the parole board. Generally family members get up and say, "My relative is so much better now, they have changed, found God, and they will do right" in response to the parole board members questions.

But, I had decided that I wasn't going to do that. Lying was not going to help Randy. He had told his wife to please have him a case of Busch beer iced down when she came to pick him up from prison upon his release. Just like every other time he had been released from rehab or prison he planned to be drunk before he got home. And I wanted this time to be different. I wanted to do the right thing and use whatever resources at my disposal to help my brother. So I decided to tell the parole board the truth about Randy.

Finally we were called into the chamber to address the parole board. Randy's wife asked me to go first because she was nervous. I went to the podium and introduced myself .

The first member asked me how I thought my brother was doing and what changes he had made to better himself while in prison.

I said, "I talked to Randy last night and he told me that he is in the SAP (substance abuse program) at Limestone and it seems to be going fine. But I am going to be honest with you today about my brother and what I think needs to be done to help him. Randy has already been through the SAP program and it didn't help last time. In fact, Randy has been in the Alabama Department of Corrections for almost half of his life and yet he has not been corrected."

At that point the lead questioner pushed back from his seat looking all offended and outraged at my truthfulness and said, "That is not a defense."

To which I responded, "I wasn't mounting it as a defense just stating a fact. Randy has been in your corrections system many times before and he is still not correct. The truth is you could keep Randy in prison for the entire ten years of his sentence and on the day you released him he would be drunk before he got home. My brother has serious mental problems that have never been properly treated and as long as we are wasting resources on locking him up he will never get any better. I am not going to stand here and tell you that my brother should be released today without supervision and aftercare, or that I think he is miraculously cured after this latest stint in prison because that won't help him.
My brother needs help and he is not going to get it where he is. We need to focus our resources on treating his mental illnesses and stop wasting them on sending him to prison when that has already failed numerous times in the past."

"I have arranged for him to go to TASC in Birmingham upon his release where he will be provided with the mental health care he needs, vocational rehab and transitional housing. I would like to see him complete the SAP program and then be released to the TASC program in August when he comes back up for parole."

I took my seat at this point and his wife addressed the board for a couple of minutes. She was very nervous and didn't really say anything that would help or hurt his chances.

The parole board then deliberated for approximately 30 seconds and said parole was denied and not only that but instead of considering Randy again in August as is normally the case that they were not going to consider him again until December.

So, there you have it. Here was the perfect opportunity to cut the prison overcrowding by one more, and not by just letting Randy (a non-violent offender whose only crimes are mental illness and severe addiction) out to return home with no aftercare, thereby almost guaranteeing his return to prison, but, by releasing him to a very good program where we might actually begin to get to the root of his problems and give him the tools he has needed for so long to get his life in order and keep him out of the corrections system. Yet his parole was not only denied but delayed an additional four months.

I can only guess that the truth pissed off the parole board, as they had no good reason to deny my brother parole especially with such an excellent aftercare program in place.

The perfect opportunity and the parole board blew it.

With a parole board like this in place it is no wonder we have almost 30,000 in prison most of which are likely as mentally ill as my brother.

Kids removed from home of drug raid

The Associated Press

GULFPORT, MS — Two children have been removed from a home where narcotics agents seized 25 doses of Ecstasy, authorities say.

Tuesday's raid led to the arrest of Tommie Rodriquez Booth, 20, and Anna Elise Banks, 30. Each is charged with two counts of child neglect involving juveniles identified only as Banks' children. Both children are under the age of 10.

Booth is also charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and violation of a city ordinance that limits the number of dogs allowed at a residence. Authorities found 11 pit bulls at the home.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services took the children into protective custody. Animal control officers took the dogs to the Humane Society of South Mississippi. "The home was in disarray, with dogs running loose and feces everywhere," said Chris Loposser, a narcotics investigator.

Note: Narcotics officers absolutely love dog shit. If there is a turd within a mile of your home the narcs will locate it, photograph it and be in the local paper crowing about it before you have even had your first shower in jail.

15 arrested in Carlisle raid

The Patriot-News

CARLISLE, PA - Officers found a little more than they were expecting during a borough-wide drug raid that netted 15 of the 20 suspects targeted.

A pistol was found in one home, and a cache of electronic equipment and DVDs was found in another, Mayor Kirk Wilson said.

The early-morning sweep stemmed from a six-month investigation and involved borough police and officers from the FBI, state police and Cumberland County.

It was aimed at small-time street-level dealers accused of peddling mostly marijuana and crack cocaine, Wilson said.

Six of those sought had prior drug convictions, he said. Two turned themselves in when they learned police were looking for them, and two were already in county prison.

Residents and neighbors tipped police to the activities of many of the suspects, the mayor said.

Small amounts of illegal narcotics were seized during the raids, he said.

Officials hope information gained from yesterday's sweep will help in other drug-related investigations.

China appeals for public aid in drug fight

Associated Press

BEIJING - Chinese officials issued an unusual appeal to the public on Thursday for help fighting drug trafficking, acknowledging in a nationally televised news conference that they have failed to stop surging narcotics abuse despite repeated crackdowns.

"Although we've made a lot of achievements, the spread of drug problems remains serious," said Yang Fengrui, secretary-general of the National Narcotics Control Commission. "Heroin use is down in some areas, but the use of new drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana and others is increasing."

Communist Party leaders declared a "People's War on Drugs" in April, Yang said. He appealed to the public to inform on traffickers and to help addicts reform - a rare step by a government that usually says it can handle crime and social problems on its own.

"This `People's War on Drugs' cannot go ahead without the support of the broad masses," Yang said.

How awful it must be to live in a Communist country where the government encourages the citizens to turn each other in. The citizens of a free nation would never tolerate this kind of thing.

Signs of drug-war shift

Efforts to end a grant program could indicate a change in the administration's approach.

By Kris Axtman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

HOUSTON – Evidence is beginning to build that the approach to the war on drugs in the United States could be changing - by shifting attention away from small-time drug dealers and individual users toward major drug traffickers.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Shapelle Corby Gets 20 Years

Guilty Corby gets 20 years' jail
By Kate Meikle
May 27, 2005

Schapelle Corby
Tense ... Ms Corby in court / TV image Enlarge In-depth coverage

SCHAPELLE Corby has been found guilty of importing drugs into Indonesia and sentenced to 20 years prison.
Scenes of pandemonium broke out in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down with Corby's family shouting "Schapelle is innocent".

Corby then appeared to turn to her mother and mouth the words: 'It's okay mum".

The judges said they accepted the evidence of police and customs officials that Corby admitted to owning the drugs, despite her denials.

"The defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty" a translator quoted the judges as saying on Sky News.

"We've found that drugs were imported into Indonesia. Importation is illegal in Indonesia and it occurred at Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar. This occurred without a licence or any permit to do so. It may not be done by anyone."

"She has been unrepentant to this. It is found the defendant is responsible for the narcotics and this should be considered when handing down the judgement."

Corby's family immediately made a plea to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to release her.

Citing the help provided by Australia during the recent tsunami disaster, her brother said: "For a friendship to grow there must be giving among friends.

"All Australia is the you give Schapelle back to us"

Corby's financial backer Ron Bakir refused to accept the verdict and said the team would appeal the decision.

Gun Control and the War on Drugs

by Anthony Gregory

The right to self-ownership necessarily implies the right to self-defense and the right to peacefully acquire the means of self-defense. Hence, all gun control immorally violates the right to self-defense and self-ownership.

The right to self-ownership implies the right to self-medication and also the general right to decide what to put into one's own body. Either you own yourself or you do not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Loretta Nall Show

In this edition of "The Loretta Nall Show" Loretta covers the past 6 weeks on the road. Travel along with her as she visits North Carolina, Niagara Falls, Canada and Washington DC.

Also see two news interviews from Birmingham. One about the FBI Visit and one about the Alabama Compassionate Use Act.

She talks a little about US Customs Seizing her Laptop coming back from Niagara Falls and tells you all about the lobby day and press conference with Montel Williams on Capitol Hill.

Visit the Nall for Governor headquarters and show your support.

Governor Riley Declares Bo Bice Day in Alabama

MONTGOMERY - Governor Bob Riley today proclaimed Tuesday, May 24 as Bo Bice Day in the state of Alabama in honor of the American Idol finalist. Governor Riley is encouraging all Alabamians to support and vote for Bo Bice as he competes to be the next American Idol.

"Bo has showcased his exceptional talent and represented the state of Alabama well on national television. Our state is truly blessed with many talented people and I am proud that Bo has made it to the finals," Governor Riley said. "I encourage all Alabamians to show their support and watch Bo perform Tuesday night and call in and vote for Bo after his performance."

From The Smoking Gun:
"Idol" Finalist Dodged Cocaine, Pot Raps
APRIL 28--One of the five remaining "American Idol" finalists was once arrested for felony cocaine possession, but had the charge--and a separate marijuana count--dismissed last year after completing a so-called "diversion program," The Smoking Gun has learned. Harold "Bo" Bice, 29, was busted in June 2001 by Huntsville, Alabama cops and hit with the drug count, a Class C felony, according to the below warrant. He was arrested again in July 2003 near Birmingham and charged with marijuana possession, public intoxication, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to the latter two misdemeanors in December 2004.

Lawmaker: Comedian's joke 'treason'

WASHINGTON -- An Alabama congressman says comedian Bill Maher's comment that the U.S. military already has recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the HBO show.

Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus takes issue with remarks on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said in giving a comic twist to his commentary. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."

"I don't want him prosecuted," Bachus said. "I want him off the air."

U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

The drug war is a war on the American people. This is much closer to the Constitutional definition of treason than a comedian joking about military recruiting.

Monday, May 23, 2005

In Defense of Rednecks

by Fred Reed

"Now, in the country, people had a slightly less lenient attitude toward having their homes invaded. Nobody ever shot anybody, much anyway. People didn’t think it was civilized. They did have dogs and shotguns and rifles. Further, they had the backbone to use them if the need arose. Which is why it didn’t."

Baxley running for governor

Birmingham News

MONTGOMERY - Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, after hinting at it for months, filed paperwork Thursday officially declaring her candidacy for governor in 2006.

If elected, Baxley, a Democrat, would become Alabama's first female governor since Lurleeen Wallace.

"She certainly starts out as the favorite to win the Democratic primary next year," said William Stewart, a political scientist at the University of Alabama. "She's popular among a lot of people."

He said some Democrats also might be concerned that she's never been in a campaign bloodbath like the 2006 governor's race will likely be.

"She has negatives in that she's never had to wage a full-scale campaign the way she will have to for governor," Stewart said. "My question is, can she stand the long haul?"

Some federal cases are sealed away from public view

The Mobile Register

Mobile, AL - "I always thought of it as ripe for abuse," said Mobile lawyer Dom Soto, who nonetheless added that it is appropriate to keep some information secret. "It seems to be wide open as to what can be done under seal."

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said prosecutors generally seek to close cases in drug and terrorism matters where they want co-defendants to turn on each other. Allowing defendants to plead guilty behind closed doors might protect them from retribution, she said.

"There may be some merit to that. However, it's creating a completely secret system of justice," Dalglish said. "That means that there are people sitting in prisons and there is no public track record of how they got there. I find that appalling."

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Barron makes last push

Sen. Lowell Barron said he has been working “diligently” to push bills designed to curb production and usage of methamphetamine in Alabama.

“In past years we have worked with law enforcement officers, district attorneys and drug enforcement agents to give them the laws necessary to combat this deadly substance,” Barron said. “We continue to work to protect our communities from this horrible drug, and today we have some of the toughest legislation to date ready for passage.”

“This deadly, toxic drug is destroying lives and homes all across our country,” Barron said. “While we have worked to pass this legislation, the states bordering Alabama have passed similar laws. We must enact this legislation so that we may work together with the bordering states to protect our communities by limiting access to this key ingredient.”

Sen. Gary Tanner, D-Theodore, has introduced legislation to make it illegal to possess a single precursor ingredient with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. That bill (SB116) also awaits final passage in the House.

here (PDF)


SB116 Relating to the unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, to amend Section 13A-12-217, Code of Alabama 1975, to clarify that it is unlawful to possess a single precursor substance, as well as multiple precursor substances, with intent to unlawfully manufacture a controlled substance.
Number of amendments: 0

Senate Bill 116 as passed the Senate clarifies that the possession of a single precursor substance is a Class B felony. This bill could increase receipts to the State General Fund and increase the obligations of the Department of Corrections and Pardons and Paroles Board by an undetermined amount dependent on the number of persons convicted for the possession of a single precursor substance.

SB108 To amend Section 20-2-190, Code of Alabama 1975, as amended by Act 2004-564, to further regulate sales of certain products containing pseudoephedrine.
State Government
Number of amendments: 0

Senate Bill 108 as substituted and amended by the Committee on State Government provides restrictions on the sale and storage of products containing ephedrine and provides penalties for violations of these provisions.
This bill would require the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to register beginning in FY 2006 (1) wholesalers, manufacturers and repackagers of drug products not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy and (2) certain retailers of ephedrine or pseudophedrine or products containing these chemicals not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy. This bill will increase the obligations of the ABC Board by an undetermined amount for administering the provisions of this bill.
In addition, this bill reduces from 14 to 5 the members of the Alabama Methamphetamine Abuse Task Force and requires the Task Force to report 30 days following enactment of this bill. The Task Force may receive funds from any source in order to accomplish its responsibilities provided for in this bill.
This bill could increase receipts to the State General Fund by an undetermined amount from fines and could also increase the obligations to local jails, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Corrections by an undetermined amount. Both of these are dependent upon the number and nature of the violation committed.

Meth Hysteria:
Citizens can aid in fight against meth
Clanton Advertiser

There are several tell-tale signs that an informed citizen can use to help local law enforcement fight the war on methamphetamine production.

Before the Alabama Legislature passed a law this week curbing the sale of cold medicine, anyone who was purchasing large amounts of decongestant was a likely suspect.

Now, there are other ways to tell.

If you see anyone purchasing large amounts of peroxide, rubbing alcohol, acetate (finger nail polish remover) or matches, notify the manager of the grocery store.

All of the items above are vital in the production of meth, but are needed in large quantities. Not everyone purchasing these items is going to do evil with them; however, the large amount they will purchase at one time makes them a likely suspect.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Plan to Let FBI Track Mail

Big Brother Posted by Hello

New York Times

May 21, 2005
Plan to Let F.B.I. Track Mail in Terrorism Inquiries

WASHINGTON, May 20 - The F.B.I. would gain broad authority to track the mail of people in terror investigations under a Bush administration proposal, officials said Friday, but the Postal Service is already raising privacy concerns about the plan.

The proposal, to be considered next week in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would allow the bureau to direct postal inspectors to turn over the names, addresses and all other material appearing on the outside of letters sent to or from people connected to foreign intelligence investigations.

The plan would effectively eliminate the postal inspectors' discretion in deciding when so-called mail covers are needed and give sole authority to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if it determines that the material is "relevant to an authorized investigation to obtain foreign intelligence," according to a draft of the bill.

The proposal would not allow the bureau to open mail or review its content. Such a move would require a search warrant, officials said.

The Intelligence Committee has not publicly released the proposal, but a draft was obtained by The New York Times.

The provision is part of a broader package that also strengthens the bureau's power to demand business records in intelligence investigations without approval by a judge or grand jury.

The proposals reflect efforts by the administration and Senate Republicans to bolster and, in some ways, broaden the power of the bureau to fight terrorism, even as critics are seeking to scale back its authority under the law known as the USA Patriot Act.

A debate over the government's terrorism powers is to begin in earnest at a session of the Intelligence Committee on Thursday, in what is shaping up as a heated battle over the balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil rights in the post-Sept. 11 era.

The F.B.I. has conducted mail covers for decades in criminal and national security investigations. But the prospect of expanding its authority to monitor mailings alarmed some privacy and civil rights advocates and caused concerns among postal officials, as well. They said the proposal caught them off guard.

"This is a major step," the chief privacy officer for the Postal Service, Zoe Strickland, said. "From a privacy perspective, you want to make sure that the right balance is struck between protecting people's mail and aiding law enforcement, and this legislation could impact that balance negatively."

The new proposal "removes discretion from the Postal Inspection Service as to how the mail covers are implemented," Ms. Strickland said in an interview. "I worry quite a bit about the balance being struck here, and we're quite mystified as to how this got put in the legislation."

Officials on the Intelligence Committee said the legislation was intended to make the F.B.I. the sole arbiter of when a mail cover should be conducted, after complaints that undue interference from postal inspectors had slowed operations.

"The F.B.I. would be able to control its own investigations of terrorists and spies, and the postal service would have to comply with those requests," said an aide to the Intelligence Committee who is involved in the proposal but insisted on anonymity because the proposal remains confidential.

"The postmaster general shouldn't be able to substitute his judgment for that of the director of the F.B.I. on national security matters," the aide said.

The proposal would generally prevent the post office from disclosing a mail cover. It would also require the Justice Department to report to Congress twice a year on the number of times the power had been used.

Civil rights advocates said they thought that the proposal went too far.

"Prison wardens may be able to monitor their prisoners' mail," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, "but ordinary Americans shouldn't be treated as prisoners in their own country."

Marcia Hofmann, a lawyer for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest group here, said the proposal "certainly opens the door to abuse in our view."

"The Postal Service would be losing its ability to act as a check on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers," Ms. Hofmann said.

Postal officials refused to provide a tally of mail covers, saying the information was confidential. They said the Postal Service had not formally rejected any requests from the bureau in recent years.

A tally in 2000 said the Postal Service conducted 14,000 mail covers that year for a variety of law enforcement agencies, a sharp increase over the previous year.

The program has led to sporadic reports of abuse. In the mid-1970's the Church Committee, a Senate panel that documented C.I.A. abuses, faulted a program created in the 1950's in New York that used mail covers to trace and sometimes open mail going to the Soviet Union from the United States.

A suit brought in 1973 by a high school student in New Jersey, whose letter to the Socialist Workers Party was traced by the F.B.I. as part of an investigation into the group, led to a rebuke from a federal judge, who found that the national security grounds for such mail covers were unconstitutionally vague.

New from The Sentencing Project

A new publication from The Sentencing Project

The War on Marijuana: The Transformation of the War on Drugs in the 1990s (PDF)

Key findings include:

§ Of the 450,000 increase in drug arrests during the period 1990-2002, 82% of the growth was for marijuana, and 79% was for marijuana possession alone;

§ Marijuana arrests now constitute nearly half (45%) of the 1.5 million drug arrests annually;

§ Few marijuana arrests are for serious offending: of the 734,000 marijuana arrests in 2000, only 41,000 (6%) resulted in a felony conviction;

§ Marijuana arrests increased by 113% between 1990 and 2002, while overall arrests decreased by 3%;

§ New York City experienced an 882% growth in marijuana arrests, including an increase of 2,461% for possession offenses;

§ African Americans are disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests, representing 14% of marijuana users in the general population, but 30% of arrests;

§ One-third of persons convicted for a marijuana felony in state court are sentenced to prison;

§ One in four persons in prison for a marijuana offense – an estimated 6,600 persons – can be classified as a low-level offender;

§ An estimated $4 billion is spent annually on the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of marijuana offenders.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Oops! Aussie Dogs taught to sniff for Baby Powder!

PM - Friday, 20 May , 2005 18:42:00
Reporter: Lynn Bell
MARK COLVIN: Police in Victoria have discovered an unusual problem with their latest batch of sniffer dogs. Some of them are better able to track down a freshly bathed baby than a packet of drugs.

The reason is that their training has taught them how to detect talcum powder instead of cocaine. Routine tests belatedly revealed that a bag of cocaine used to train the sniffer dogs had actually been full of talcum powder. An investigation is now underway.

In Melbourne, Lynn Bell has the story.

LYNN BELL: The seven police sniffer dogs began training in January, to root out drugs across Melbourne. They're trained to sit down next to a person when they pick up the scent of cocaine. The only problem is, none of the dogs can identify the drug.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner, Paul Evans, admits one of the bags of cocaine used in the training program contained nothing more than talcum powder.

PAUL EVANS: Well, the lighter side is that they're very good at detecting talcum powder at this moment, so if there's any missing kids out there, we'll find them fairly quickly I should think.

( least this guy has a sense of humor...)

LYNN BELL: The drugs used for training come from the Australian Federal Police and are taken from packages seized during drug raids.

Assistant Commissioner, Paul Evans, says he doesn't believe there's any whiff of corruption, but admits it is possible. He says drugs are sometimes cut with other substances like talcum powder and the bag could simply have been mislabelled.

PAUL EVANS: We believe that it's an administrative issue, as far as the recording of it so at this stage we don't believe there's anything more sinister to that. Of course it will be fully investigated, but at this stage this is what it appears, simply to be that.

LYNN BELL: The investigation will be overseen by the Director of Police Integrity in Victoria and the State's Police Minister, Tim Holding, says the bungle comes as a shock.

TIM HOLDING: Well I was surprised and I was disappointed.

Obviously, any issues around the handling of drugs that Victoria Police hold for legitimate operational purposes needs to be sensitively handled and in this instance, we just want to be confident that the proper mechanisms and safeguards are put in place, that they are followed and that we learn any lessons that arise from this investigation.

LYNN BELL: Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans says it's possible cocaine has gone undetected while the dogs have been working over the last few months.

PAUL EVANS: It is embarrassing. It's embarrassing to the organisation. It shouldn't happen, it did happen, it certainly tested our audit processes, which have worked in this case.

So I guess out of that some good has come. We have picked it up ourselves fairly quickly and it certainly is embarrassing to the organisation, it shouldn't happen.

LYNN BELL: The sniffer dogs will now be heading back to school, to ensure they can soon start hunting for substances other than baby powder.


Three prison officers suspended amid allegations of beatings

The Associated Press - REIDSVILLE, Ga.

Three officers at Rogers State Prison have been suspended while investigators looking into allegations that inmates are routinely beaten while handcuffed.

Prison officials said Thursday that Lt. Reginald Langston, Lt. Rodney McCloud and Sgt. Jason Burns were suspended with pay and are subjects of an investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

But officials said none of the three have been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Let me make it clear, we take all allegations of inmate abuse seriously," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb said. "And if these allegations are found to be true, there will be swift and appropriate action taken."

Rogers is a medium-security prison in Reidsville, near Georgia State Prison, which houses the most dangerous felons. Many of Rogers' inmates work in farm, dairy, vegetable canning and slaughterhouse operations, which produce nearly half the food for state inmates. Most inmates at Rogers are considered nonviolent and trusted enough to work in the food and farm programs.

The investigation began when Tommy Cardell, a guard the prison, told Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents he witnessed 20 to 30 beatings of handcuffed inmates at the prison, where he worked for the past three years. Cardell claims he was fired May 11 after reporting the beatings to internal affairs investigators at the state Department of Corrections.

After The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked Assistant Commissioner Brian Owens about the allegations, the Corrections Department sent investigators the prison Wednesday. On Thursday, prison officials announced the suspension of the three officers, who supervise guards, and said the GBI has been asked to investigate.

According to Cardell, handcuffed inmates were often taken into showers and punched and kicked in a manner that would leave no cuts or major bruises. He claims superiors gave him black, leather gloves with padding, and told him to wear them when giving such beatings.

"They're supposed to be to protect yourself from someone swinging a weapon," Cardell said. "But that's not quite what they're used for."

Cardell also says top prison administrators witnessed some of the beatings. In one case, Cardell says he saw an inmate make a flippant remark to Warden Glenn Rich. Cardell said Rich then ordered the inmate out of the cell and the inmate was taken into a shower and beaten so severely he later coughed up blood.

Cardell also claims prison medical staff helped cover up the severity of the beating.

In another instance, Cardell said he saw an officer handcuff an inmate and drag him through the prison, using him as a "battering ram" to open metal doors. The officer repeatedly kicked him in his legs and groin, Cardell said.

Lipscomb said prison officials had no comment on any of Cardell's specific allegations.



A Eureka resident and a Nevada City man have been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to six and one-half years in prison for growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants in Humboldt County in 1998.

Roy Mercer, 40, of Eureka, and Franklin Hunter, 32, of Nevada City, were sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Fern Smith.

Mercer and Hunter both pleaded guilty in July 2003 to one count of conspiring to manufacture more than 1,000 marijuana plants and one count of conspiring to conduct illegal financial transactions involving the sale of marijuana.

Six and 1/2 years for 1000 plants? 6 1/2 years is the average sentence for felony marijuana possession in Alabama. Felony possession means being caught twice with any amount of marijuana. A roach in your ashtray 20 years ago and a seed or stem in your carpet today equals 6 1/2 years.

Six Afghans killed in second attack in two days

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Gunmen shot and killed six Afghans in an ambush on a major highway in the country's troubled south Thursday, the second fatal attack in two days on employees of a U.S.-funded anti-drugs project, officials said.

The company managing the project said it was withdrawing employees from southern Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.

The victims were transporting the body of one of five victims in the earlier assault to the capital, Kabul, for a funeral when militants stopped their vehicle and shot everyone in the head, said Naik Mohammed, a doctor in the town of Qalat where the bodies were taken.

The killings are the latest spasm of violence in a region prey to drug traffickers and insurgents. The assaults, along with the kidnapping of an Italian aid worker this week in Kabul, have raised fears that tactics used in Iraq may be copied here.

Also in the country's south, two U.S. soldiers were slightly wounded when a bomb exploded near their vehicle, the U.S. military said.

Two of the Afghans killed in Thursday's attack and all five killed Wednesday were believed to be employees of Chemonics International Inc., a Washington-based consulting firm. Two others killed Thursday were relatives of one of Wednesday's victims, and the remaining two were drivers.

Don Henry Ford on NPR

Don Henry Ford: A Smuggler's Story

Part 1

Part 2

Steps toward more drug testing in schools

By Sara B. Miller
Christian Science Monitor

A Massachusetts proposal unveiled this week giving schools the option to test students for drugs - provided a parent gives consent - is intended to crack down on drugs in a state with one of the nation's highest rates of teen substance abuse.

If the plan passes, Massachusetts will join a growing list of states and officials considering testing as a tool to counter drugs in schools - a measure widely supported by the Bush administration. The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy just wrapped up a four-state summit on the values of student drug testing.

The Massachusetts plan and similar proposals have been lauded by those who say any help a school or community can offer is another small victory in the war on drugs. But many others decry random testing, saying there is not sufficient proof that it lowers drug use, that such policies create a culture of distrust, and that any gains from the programs pale in comparison to their costs.

This story includes a reader's poll on the sidebar.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Retired Detroit police officer sentenced in cocaine scheme

Detroit Free Press
May 19, 2005, 5:33 AM

DETROIT (AP) -- A former civilian police employee who admitted stealing at least 220 pounds of cocaine from the department's evidence room -- replacing some of it with baking flour -- was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

John Earl Cole Sr., 53, of Detroit, pleaded guilty in August 2004 to one count each of conspiracy to distribute at least five kilograms (11 pounds) of cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara.

Cole used his drug-trafficking proceeds to buy houses and other buildings in Detroit, disguising ownership by placing title to the properties in the names of relatives and associates, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Guard arrested on drug charges

Albany, GA

Morgan - A 21-year-old correctional officer at Calhoun State Prison has been arrested after a drug sweep by drug-sniffing dogs at the prison.

Kanoshia Bradley, who lives on Thompkins Avenue in Albany, was found with marijuana, cocaine, and crack cocaine on May 10th. She was charged with possession with intent to distribute all three substances, crossing guard lines with illegal drugs, and violation of her oath of office.

Agent Chris Jordan, with the Pataula Drug Task Force says, "Your crime rates and stuff go up inside prisons when you have drugs involved. You have more fights, stabbings, that type stuff."

Bradley was fired from her prison guard job and released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Your "crime rates and stuff" in prison go up when the drug supply is interrupted, exactly the same way they go up in society as a whole due to the ill effects of prohibition.

Willacy County sues companies involved in prison project

RAYMONDVILLE, TX (AP)- Willacy County has filed a lawsuit against two companies involved in a $14-point-5 (M) million federal prison project that became entwined in a bribery scheme.
The civil lawsuit was filed last week in state district court against Corplan Corrections of Argyle and Hale Mills Incorporated of Houston. The suit claims the companies conspired to bribe county commissioners to select them for the construction project.

Although the lawsuit does not specify damages, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said the financially troubled county could get title to the prison.

Family Of Brain Dead Inmate Investigate Excessive Force By Police

A comment posted to this site by the brother of the police beating victim:

There is no way in hell they did not know MY BROTHER was injured. I saw him a few hours after this happened and he was beaten, bloodied, swollen and bruised from head to toe, literally. ALSO, they did not "realize that he was in medical distress" when he arrived at the hospital. They put him in a holding area at the hospital and a nurse passing by noticed he wasn't breathing and started CPR. They left him there hog tied in hand cuffs behind his back on his face to die.

If they treated an animal as badly as they treated my brother they would be in JAIL! It truly amazes how we live in a society that deals out harder punishment for animal cruelty then human cruelty. What they are doing here in the US to inmates is 100 times worse then what they did to the Iraqi prisoners. When are we going to see some justice dealt to these power hungry law enforcement officers who are getting away with murder, literally in some cases????

Alabama Drug Convicts Can Vote From Prison

Drug, alcohol convicts can vote from prison

By Samira Jafari
The Associated Press

Many state prisoners convicted of drug and alcohol felonies may be eligible to vote, even while incarcerated, though they probably don't know it.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Wednesday that under a 1996 amendment to the Alabama constitution, inmates convicted of DUIs or drug possession alone never lose their voting rights -- despite the common belief that felons are prohibited from casting ballots.

"Everybody thought anyone convicted of a felony lost the right to vote," said Cynthia Dillard, assistant director for the pardons and paroles board.

Dillard said the parole board looked into the issue after hearing about a Pell City prosecutor trying to charge an inmate who attempted to vote in last November's elections. The board received a March 18 advisory opinion from Attorney General Troy King, who said only those felonies involving "moral turpitude" -- meaning the crimes are inherently immoral -- disqualify a convict from voting.

The finding caught state voting officials off guard, prompting a request by Secretary of State Nancy Worley to King seeking a comprehensive list of crimes that forfeit voting rights and those that don't.

"A uniform listing of felonies involving moral turpitude should be established, distributed and publicly posted in order to avoid different interpretations in each county," Worley said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for King said Wednesday the request was being researched, but would not elaborate.

Voting officials also were trying to determine whether any names were improperly removed from the state list of registered voters.

Prison system and voting officials were uncertain how many inmates would be affected. More than 2,250 inmates were in prison for drug possession and about 640 were serving time for felony DUI as their most serious offenses, according to Dec. 31, 2004 figures by the Alabama Sentencing Commission.

It's unclear how many of those inmates were registered to vote and the prison system has not encountered any prisoners trying to vote, said DOC spokesman Brian Corbett.

He said if some inmates are eligible to vote, they likely would have to petition the circuit clerks in their home counties for absentee ballots.

The voting amendment states that inmates convicted of a crime of moral turpitude are ineligible to vote unless their right is restored, typically by a certificate from the pardons and paroles board. DUI and drug possession are prohibited by law, but not necessarily immoral, according to King's opinion.

"This is atypical," said Marc Mauer, who has researched felon voting laws for The Sentencing Project.

"In 48 states, generally all people in prison are not eligible to vote," he said.

Maine and Vermont are the only two states that don't revoke voting rights upon conviction.

Alabama also is one of 15 states that doesn't automatically restore voting eligibility upon release from prison, Mauer said.


Dillard said the parole board looked into the issue after hearing about a Pell City prosecutor trying to charge an inmate who attempted to vote in last November's elections.

That prosecutor must not have any real criminals to chase down. Of all the shit to try and prosecute someone for.

I did not know that people with drug convictions could vote from prison in Alabama. I have always been told that people convicted of any felony drug crime lost their right to vote.

This bodes very well for me as the people in prison on drug charges are the ones I can almost count on, hands down, to vote for me in next years gubernatorial election.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Central Booking prisoner’s death ruled a homicide

By Ryan Davis and Gus G. Sentementes
Baltimore Sun

MD - The weekend death of a 51-year-old man who struggled with officers at Baltimore's Central Booking and Intake Center was ruled a homicide Monday, as family members, a lawmaker and an advocacy group expressed outrage over his killing.

During an afternoon news conference, anguished relatives of Raymond K. Smoot surrounded the state official who oversees the beleaguered facility and pushed before him photographs of Smoot, taken while he was in his bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital, that show his disfigured, purple face.

Teen charged as adult in drug case

Clinton Sampson Independent, NC

CLINTON - A 15-year-old was brought up on felony drug charges by Clinton police in connection with an arrest earlier this month in which he was found with 41 grams of marijuana, according to reports.
It has been decided by authorities within the District Attorney's office that the juvenile will face a felony charge, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, reports state.
The arrest came shortly after 10 p.m., on May 5. While investigating a drug complaint on Tyndall Court, Clinton police Officer Darryl Grady said that a vehicle pulled into the location, then immediately left.
Grady said that he knew the vehicle to be registered to someone with a suspended driver's license. Grady pulled up beside the vehicle and observed the man inside, who he believed was driving.
He stopped the vehicle on Shield Street and found that the man was actually a front seat passenger. The driver's seat was so far to the rear, the driver was hidden, according to reports.
The man who was driving did have an active license. However, once the officer pulled the vehicle over, he found that the back seat passenger was a juvenile who he knew had a probation curfew of 7 p.m., reports state.
He asked the 15-year-old boy to step out of the vehicle and the juvenile started "pulling his pants up and putting something down the front of his pants," according to reports by Grady.
After consenting to a search, Grady patted the area the boy had been pulling at and felt a plastic bag. The officer removed the bag and it contained marijuana, according to reports.
The boy was then detained by police. When he was searched further, two small bags of marijuana were found in his right shoe, reports state. Approximately 40.9 grams of the drug was seized from the boy, along with $25.
The 15-year-old, a resident of Clinton and a student at the alternative school, was transported to the Clinton Police Department, processed and released to his mother.
On Thursday, Grady said, he spoke with Assistant District Attorney Robbie Thigpen and was advised to pursue felony charges against the teen.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What Your Rulers Don't Want You To Know

Murray N. Rothbard on the nature of the state.


Prison solutions have price tags

Montgomery Advertiser

It is hard to imagine that there is anything Alabama's political leadership does not already know about the state's prison problems -- except how they propose to address them. The chronic overcrowding of the system has been studied and discussed for years.

Now another task force has begun a year-long inquiry into the prison problems with the objective of making recommendations to Gov. Bob Riley. It is difficult to see what new ground this panel might break in this oft- examined area of state responsibility.


Funding cuts disband joint drug task forces

Grants many depended on are being reduced or eliminated
Houston Chronicle

America's drug plan collapses in chaos

Independent News & Media (UK)
By Hugh O'Shaughnessy
15 May 2005

Washington's "war on drugs" in Colombia is collapsing in chaos and corruption, and the drug producers are winning. The so-called Plan Colombia, which has cost the US more than $3bn (£1.6bn) in the past five years, is being abandoned, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced.

Last year, the hugely expensive effort to poison coca bushes - whose leaves are the source of cocaine - by aerial spraying ended in failure. More bushes were flourishing in January this year than in January 2004.

Meanwhile, complaints have multiplied about the damage done by the chemical poisons to the health of humans, especially children, as well as to livestock, fish and the environment.

Plan Colombia was designed to eradicate narcotics, control powerful left-wing guerrillas and strengthen the position of the US military in South America. The scheme was eventually expected to cost $7.5bn.

I'm not sure this reporter has his facts straight.

See: Plan Colombia: Major Successes and New Challenges Jonathan D. Farrar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Statement before the House International Relations Committee
Washington, DC May 11, 2005

And this: US Officials: Colombia Succeeding in War on Narcotics, Terrorism

Saturday, May 14, 2005


City noise SUCKS ASS

I now remember CLEARLY why I hate the city.
I HATE NOISE!!! (as the hibernating bear on Saturday morning cartoons used to say)

There is the noise of constant traffic. Rattling engines, blaring horns, squealing brakes and squalling tires.

There is the noise of my neighbor downstairs with her yapping puppy (whose shit she also thoughtfully leaves in our SHARED yard), 24 hour TV and boyfriend with a super cool but VERY LOUD motorcycle which he has made a point to pull in and out of the driveway (making sure to rev it as loud as he can RRRMMMMM RRRMMMMM RRRRMMMMM Rmm Rmm Rmm RMMMMMM) at least ten times a day.

There is the noise of the neighbors on either side with their dogs howling, barking and yapping because of all the goddamn police sirens that plague the airwaves in this city.

Speaking of cops....there are cops, troopers and soldiers EVERYWHERE. I live near the police station, two air force bases and the state trooper headquarters....not to mention that I have to look out my window at my next door neighbor cop with his car parked in the yard all day.


What I wouldn't give for some simple frogs, crickets, moo cows, crowing roosters,the occasional braying donkey,country dogs communicating on the barking chain around 6 pm and the only time you heard a police siren is when they were after you. That's often enough.

Why do people have to make so much goddamn racket?

To Stop Meth, Families Must Crack Down On Marijuana

To Stop Meth, Families Must Crack Down On Marijuana

Associated Press Writer

BOYS TOWN, Neb. -- Jalyn Todd said she first used methamphetamine in 1992 to lose weight.

In the months that followed she became heavily addicted, Todd said.

She neglected her two children, lost weight, developed open sores and had other health problems, Todd said. At 40 years old, she weighed 90 pounds.

Finally, she looked at herself in the mirror and decided she did not want to die, Todd said. She sought counseling and by 1993 had taken steps to turn her life around, she said.

Now a drug and alcohol counselor in Lincoln, Todd told about 200 people at a conference on methamphetamine that the drug can affect anyone.

"This is an equal-opportunity drug," Todd said. "It takes everybody."

The Nebraska Foster Care Review Board sponsored the daylong conference at Girls and Boys Town. Set up for case managers, foster care providers, attorneys, judges and others working in the juvenile courts system, the conference focused on the dangers methamphetamine poses to children; police and legislative responses and possible treatments for addicts.

The review board began seeing an increase in the number of children taken from homes because of meth-addicted parents about two years ago, executive director Carolyn Stitt said.

The board studies the effects of general drug use on the foster care system, and it plans to study methamphetamine's effect more specifically, she said.

The board also plans to hold similar methamphetamine conferences this summer in Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff, she said.

At Friday's gathering, U.S. Attorney Mike Heavican warned that alcohol and marijuana are gateway drugs to methamphetamine. Parents need to crack down on any illegal drug use in their homes, he said, or the growing meth problem will not go away.

"You need to be indignant in your homes, your schools, about innocent' use of marijuana," Heavican said.

If parents are not tough on their children the methamphetamine problem will continue to grow, Heavican said.

Shane Flynn, the Nebraska State Patrol's Clandestine Laboratory Coordinator, said it is easier for high school children to get meth than it is for them to obtain a six-pack of beer. Flynn, who has worked in the narcotics division since 1997, said street prices for meth have dropped by 700 percent over the last 10 years.

Flynn said law enforcement cannot deal with the problem alone. Methamphetamine is so addictive that doctors need to be involved, Flynn said. Children found in homes where meth is being made need to be placed in safe environments, Flynn said.

Children can be exposed in the womb and from toxic chemicals used in home-based meth labs. Nationally, thousands of children have been taken away from meth-abusing parents in recent years and placed with relatives or overloaded foster care systems.

Meth is a powerful stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected. It contains pseudoephedrine, found in common over-the-counter cold medications. The drug often is cooked in small quantities in kitchens, trailers or car trunks.

The state Legislature is considering a bill (LB117) designed to impede access to pseudoephedrine. The bill would require people who buy popular cold medicines such as Sudafed and Claritin to be at least 18 and show identification, and sellers of the products to be at least 19.

Under the bill, items containing pseudoephedrine would have to be kept behind store counters or in locked cabinets.

Alcohol and marijuana are not gateway drugs to methamphetimine. Marijuana prohibition is the gateway to meth, especially for young people.

Meth stays detectable in your system for about 72 hours whereas, marijuana stays detectable in your system for up to 45 days. High school students who would normally probably only smoke pot which, is the least harmful of the three substances mentioned in this article, are now using meth because they know they can party on Friday and test clean on Monday.

So there is your GATEWAY!

Give them back their pot and they'll forget about the meth.

US Customs Admits Assassin

Source: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (CN NK)
Pubdate: May 10, 2005
Author: Chuck Brown (

Accused in slayings described himself as assassin

A man accused of slaying an elderly Minto couple told American Customs officers he was an off-duty assassin before being allowed to cross the border, says a Charlotte County man who was seeking entry into Maine at the same time.

"That's the reason I remember him. He said he was an assassin," Eddie Young, of Pennfield, said Monday.

Mr. Young, who works in the aquaculture industry, said he was in the U.S. Customs office in Calais, Me., on Monday, April 25. He said he sat next to a man with a Mohawk hairstyle, wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying brass knuckles, swords and a chainsaw.

"I'm going like, Jesus, he's an assassin? Like, 130 pounds, nasty looking little Mohawk. I don't even think he blinked for the 25 minutes we were sitting beside each other," Mr. Young said.

He said he watched as officials confiscated an arsenal of weapons.

"When he come in they opened his bag up and they took out, it looked like large bayonets to me but they could have been a little bit longer for swords, and then two pairs of brass knuckles fastened on to his bag, a chainsaw and what looked like a flak jacket, a bullet-proof vest," Mr. Young said.

Customs officials seized the weapons, then let the man into the country.

Mr. Young said after officials confiscated the weapons he watched as officers appeared to be joking and swinging the swords in a back room.

"I watched the Customs guys fling the swords around in the back room," Mr. Young said. "I mean, wouldn't the evidence be ruined with their fingerprints?"

Mr. Young said officials treated the man with the weapons better than they treated him.

"When I come back in they were giving him a coffee," Mr. Young said. "He got processed faster than I did."

Mr. Young said he was detained at the border station while trying to enter Calais because he was arrested in Ottawa almost 20 years ago for drug possession - two grams of hash. He said he was pardoned in Canada on the charge.

He was travelling with a group of friends. They were on their way to Cancun, Mexico, for a vacation. Mr. Young was not allowed to continue on with his friends and never got the money for his trip refunded.

Janet Rapaport, a spokeswoman from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency said she could not confirm that a man told officers he was an assassin.

But even if he did, she said, he could not have been detained.

"He said a lot of things. . . the point is he co-operated in that there was no violent encounter with him concerning the weapons and we checked to see if there were any outstanding warrants or any other history on him and there wasn't any cause for us to hold him," Ms. Rapaport said in an interview last week from her office in New York City.

She indicated there will be no investigation or review into Mr. Young's claims.

Asked if she would attempt to verify or discount what Mr. Young says he heard, Ms. Rapaport said, "Actually, not."

She said the assassin comment, if made, would not have been cause to detain the man.

"We followed all of our procedures. When our people encountered him, again, I'm saying there was no conflict in terms of him resisting or anything and, you know, we were able to verify that he was Canadian-born, a naturalized U.S. citizen and he did have the proper documentation for that so we checked on that, we verified that," Ms. Rapaport said. "So for what he was alleging to be doing, we took the weapons away from him, obviously. He didn't declare them, that would be his penalty in terms of Customs and Border Protection."

Ms. Rapaport said she would not comment further on Mr. Young's story.

"He may have said a lot of things about who he was and where he was from.

"So I can't comment on some listener's report. But at the same time I will tell you we checked all our databases, discussed this with RCMP. There was no reason, validated reason for us to hold him further," she said.

"Our concerns were, who is this guy? Is there anything outstanding? A warrant? Any criminal history? There was nothing there so that's the best I can do."

On Tuesday, April 26, the bodies of Fred Fulton, 74, and Verna Decarie, 70, were discovered in their Minto home.

A day after that, Gregory Allen Despres, 22, was arrested by police in Mattapoisett, Mass.. He was charged with being a fugitive from justice and RCMP in New Brunswick identified him as a "person of interest" in their investigation into the murders in Minto.

On Friday, April 29, Mr. Despres was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is being held in a Massachusetts jail.

Ms. Rapaport said the weapons seized at the border are in the process of being transferred to the RCMP.

Justice officials in New Brunswick forwarded an application to Ottawa Monday seeking Mr. Despres' extradition.

Gary Toft, a provincial Justice Department spokesman, said could not say when the extradition hearing might be held.

"Eventually, the application and all of the documents end up in front of a U.S. judge," Mr. Toft said.

Mr. Young said he doesn't expect he'll ever be permitted into the U.S. again.

He said he has no plans to apply to U.S. authorities for permission to enter the country.

He said the cost and the uncertainty of the process is prohibitive


As I said in my speech in Niagara Falls....why would anyone who did not absolutely have to travel to the US do so in this day and age?

I am not one bit surprised by this.

I have been pulled out of lines, had my tickets printed out with SSSS (Selected for Secondary Security Screening or the Nazi Insignia if you will) my bags searched, my pictures looked at and my computer seized all while the arabic men speaking farsi behind me get to walk through Customs unmolested.

It's enough to make you want to chew nails.

Marijuana Respiratory Symptoms Similar to Tobacco

Marijuana causes the same respiratory symptoms as tobacco
Asian News International 05/14/05

Study relates marijuana and tobacco use

How odd to see Yale studying the effects of a substance they are not even allowed to obtain a sample of. Although it complicates the debate I have to say that marijuana is not a specific substance. Saying "marijuana" is about as specific as saying "trees".

The study should be called "A measure of prohibitions success in maximizing harm"

or "How prohibition has interrupted the discovery process through which the free market would have provided consumers with safer products".

Where the effects of prohibition have been less, as in Canada, the free market has been allowed to fulfill it's natural role in developing cleaner, safer and healthier products.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Marijuana and Me

by Burt Prelutsky
13 May 2005

Based on my experience with the stuff, along with witnessing its effect on others, I would say it makes people hungry, dozy and stupid.

Apparently, if we’re to believe his friend’s tape recordings, George W. Bush smoked pot at some time in his life. In some quarters, this president is taking some heat for having actually inhaled. Well, I’m confessing that I, too, smoked a little weed in my younger days. Unlike some people, such as Bill Maher, I’m not bragging about it. It’s simply something I did, like riding a bike and practicing my hook shot three hours a day, and now I don’t.

Therefore, unlike many of my fellow conservatives, when I discuss marijuana, I’ve had first hand experience with it. To begin with, I am certain that, overall, the stuff did me far less harm than the Marlboros I smoked and the vodka I drank in those days. Understand, I am not advocating its use. But I would argue that in a society where I was free to satisfy my cravings for nicotine, which kills thousands of Americans every year, and alcohol, which not only kills and maims thousands of others, but destroys careers, friendships and families, it is the height of absurdity and hypocrisy to make possession of pot illegal.

Based on my experience with the stuff, along with witnessing its effect on others, I would say it makes people hungry, dozy and stupid. Which sounds like the three dwarfs who didn’t get cast opposite Snow White. What it doesn’t sound like, and what it isn’t, is a societal scourge.

It doesn’t make people violent, and it is not so expensive that people have to resort to theft or prostitution in order to pay for it. I have heard people insist that marijuana use leads to cocaine, heroin, meth, ludes, ecstasy, and all those other scary drugs we hear about. That, my friends, is baloney. While it is probably true that every heroin addict at some point smoked some weed, it is ridiculous to suggest that the progression was inevitable. It’s like suggesting that some hood driving the getaway car for a gang of bank robbers started out driving to the movies and the mall, and thus doomed himself to a life of vehicular crime.

The problem with outlawing marijuana is that there is simply no upside to its prohibition. It wastes the time of cops, judges and prosecutors, who should be concentrating their efforts on the criminals and sociopaths who actually prey on us. It fills our prisons to overflowing, forcing us to either cough up millions of dollars to build more jails or, in order to make room, offer early releases to the felons who really need to be locked up.

In addition, it keeps the price of the cheap product higher than it otherwise would be for no other reason than that it’s illegal.

Also, let us not overlook the fact that it is a major industry, but nobody involved with it -- be they growers, distributors or consumers -- pays a single dollar in taxes. On the contrary, it drains much-needed tax dollars away from schools, roads and law enforcement. Talk about dumb!

In addition to everything else, its illegality is preventing people who require it for its various medicinal properties from obtaining it. Talk about cruel!

Lest you think I have written this because I feel the law breathing down my neck, I swear I haven’t smoked a joint in about 40 years. And inasmuch as George Bush apparently broke the law more recently than that, if the narcs come after me, I intend to roll over and give up the president!

You may be wondering why I quit using the stuff. Well, in the beginning, I must admit I enjoyed the reaction I got. It made me feel relaxed and very amusing. It was only later, on those occasions when I hadn’t indulged and my friends had, that I discovered how boring and stupid they all sounded. It occurred to me that perhaps, just maybe, marijuana didn’t really turn me into Oscar Wilde on one of his wittier days.

Once I decided to quit smoking, I just flushed my few joints down the toilet, and I never felt the slightest urge to ever light up again. Take my word for it, the stuff is about as addictive as cauliflower.

However, I did find I had to enter rehab in order to kick the brownie habit.