Pubdate: Sat, 1 Jan 2010
Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2011 Austin Chronicle Corp.
Author: Jordan Smith


1) Patients Free to Inhale

Keeping a presidential campaign promise, President Barack Obama's 
Department of Justice sent out an official memo to federal 
prosecutors in October advising them to end raids on patients using 
medi-pot in compliance with state law.

2) Some Like it Pot

A home movie of Marilyn Monroe that purports to show the blond 
bombshell toking a joint while lounging on the couch hit the Internet 
this fall. Suffice to say, the sleepy-eyed actress can even make 
sniffing an armpit look sexy.

3) Don't Know What He's Smoking

Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco, did his rootin' tootin' best to 
criminalize the sale of Salvia divinorum - the most potent naturally 
occurring hallucinogen - but his colleagues just weren't buying it. 
Researchers think the plant might have potential to treat 
schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, which is why they want to 
ward off threats to its availability. In the end, lawmakers made only 
its sale to minors illegal.

4) Frustrated Farmers Jailed

Hemp farmer hopefuls were arrested in October for digging up the lawn 
at the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration to plant 
industrial hemp, a non-narcotic crop the DEA considers to be nothing 
more than dope. Among those arrested was North Dakota farmer Wayne 
Hauge, who is licensed to grow the crop but whose efforts to do so 
have been stymied by the DEA. Hauge has been battling the DEA for 
several years in federal court, and now the farmers are looking to 
Congress to take action. You can bet this story will germinate through 2010.

5) Cracking the Cocaine Disparity

Congress finally voted in favor of ending the infamous 100-to-one 
crack-to-powder cocaine sentencing disparity codified in 1986. The 
new law would eliminate any distinction between crack and powder in 
federal law and significantly do away with the mandatory minimum 
five-year turn in the clink for possession of just 5 grams of crack. 
The change in law isn't final yet - and there's certainly more 
hand-wringing on tap from lawmakers who don't want to appear soft on 
drugs - but it's as close to a done deal as you'll find on the 
otherwise grim drug war landscape.

6) Pricks Kill Needles ... Again

Once again, a bill that would let local health departments establish 
anonymous one-for-one needle exchange programs died a frustratingly 
slow death at the Capitol, meaning Texas remains the only state in 
the country without some form of legal needle exchange to combat the 
spread of communicable disease.

7) We Don't Talk Like That in El Paso

Apparently there are some things not up for debate in El Paso - at 
least that's the lesson members of the City Council learned this year 
when they tried to jump-start a conversation about drug prohibition. 
On the front line of the drug war, the city was looking to offer 
support to its sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. But that ain't 
cool, said members of the city's Lege delegation, who said such a 
discussion would be embarrassing to the city. As it turned out, with 
the story gaining national attention, the truncating of open debate 
was far more shameful.

8) Pot From Coast to Coast

In an effort to boost the state's seriously ailing budget, drug-law 
reformers in California worked to get a legalize-and-tax-and-regulate 
pot initiative onto next year's ballot, and Gov. Arnold 
Schwarzenegger even said it's time to debate the merits of 
legalization. Meanwhile in D.C., federal lawmakers put the district 
one step closer to enacting a medi-pot law that voters there approved 
in 1998. At the time, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia (now a flaming 
Libertarian) penned a measure that would strip the city of its budget 
should it try to implement the law. This summer, lawmakers finally 
voted to revoke the Barr Amendment, restoring at least a modicum of 
sovereignty to the city.

9) Your Choice: Treatment or Jail

After years of hearing the nation's drug czar jaw on and on about how 
potent pot is sending more tokers in search of medical help to quit 
their habit, the feds this year released a new set of statistics 
showing that - surprise, surprise! - 56% of people admitted to rehab 
for pot use have actually been sent there by the criminal justice 
system, as an alternative to going to jail for drug possession. Back 
to the drawing board, Mr. Czar.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake