Bill Wallace, Chronicle Staff Writer
A federal judge slapped a temporary restraining order on the
U.S. Justice Department yesterday, prohibiting the
prosecution of California doctors who recommend marijuana to
The ruling at least temporarily clears the way for doctors
to treat seriously ill patients in accordance with
Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative passed by
state voters last year.
The temporary order was hailed as a major victory by a group
of California doctors who sued the government to prevent
federal retaliation against physicians for recommending
marijuana under the new law.
[continues 590 words]
MEXICO CITY (AP) A panel of leading jurists has recommended that Mexico's
corruptionridden antidrug agency be replaced by a special prosecutor who
would report directly to the attorney general's office.
The panel of 12 jurists said the threeyearold National Institute for the
Combat Against Drugs ``has been in an advanced state of deterioration ever
since it was founded.''
The panel made its recommendations during a meeting with President Ernesto
Zedillo on Friday. Excerpts of the meeting were made public in a news release
from the presidential press office.
[continues 70 words]
WASHINGTON, April 11 /PRNewswire/ "As our nation flirts with the idea of
medical marijuana and toys with failed needle exchange programs, it is clear
that the U.S. is following the Swiss example on drug policy," Family Research
Council's Senior Policy Analyst Robert Maginnis said Friday. "That's why
it's so appropriate that the Second International Symposium Against Drugs
takes place in the heart of drug policy 'experimentation' in Switzerland."
On April 1213, Maginnis will discuss the AIDS crisis and the drug
legalization movement at an international symposium held in Stadtsaal
Zofingen and hosted by AIDS Information Switzerland and Swiss Physicians
Against Drugs. Lawmakers and activists will espouse policy solutions and
profile the impact of drug addiction and its link with the spread of the
virus that causes AIDS.
[continues 177 words]
LAGOS, April 11 (Reuter) Nigeria's drugs squad on Friday said it would
take action against maverick musician Fela AnikulapoKuti who was arrested on
Wednesday with more than 100 of his followers.
Major General Musa Bamaiyi, who commands the National Drug Law
Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), told reporters that action would be taken against
the 107 people arrested in the raid on AnikulapoKuti's home and club. A
large quantity of marijuana was seized in the raid.
Bamaiyi said his squad had tried to give AnikulapoKuti counselling for
his drug habit.
[continues 178 words]
RABAT, April 11 (Reuter) Moroccco seized 103 tonnes of cannabis bound for
Europe in 1996 and arrested more than 18,000 drug traffickers, including 342
foreigners, the official MAP news agency said on Friday.
Interior Minister Driss Basri, who was addressing a meeting of Western
Mediterranean interior ministers in Paris, was quoted by MAP as saying: ``The
nationwide campaign against drug trafficking launched by Morocco in 1996 led
to the seizure of 103 tonnes of cannabis and 91 kg (200 lbs) of cocaine.''
The drugs were destined for the European market, MAP said.
Security forces also arrested 18,794 people involved in drug smuggling,
including 342 foreigners, most of them Europeans, MAP quoted Basri as saying.
[continues 164 words]
Legislation intended to help implement Proposition 215,
the state initiative allowing medical use of marijuana,
was approved Wednesday by the state Senate Health and Human
Several lawenforcement officials opposed the bill,
noting that marijuana continues to be banned under federal
law. But supporters said the followup legislation simply
advances the will of state voters, who already have
approved medical use of the drug.
"This bill is very simple. It simply carries out the
will of the people of California," the author of the
measure, Sen. John Vasconcellos, DSanta Clara, told the
[continues 252 words]
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VOTER INFORMATION SERVICES
Getting involved in the political process is as easy as
clicking and pointing. This Massachusetts nonprofit
organization rates the U.S. Congress and tracks the
individual voting records of members of Congress. Their
support for special interest groups is also recorded.
[continues 443 words]
A piece of ancient folk wisdom says, "If you're in a hole,
stop digging." The United States war on drugs is a
classic example of ignoring that sound advice. In the
first place, every year we spend more money, hire more
agents, seize more drugs, throw more people in jail and
see drug use increase. And every year the people in charge
of the war on drugs urge us to intensify our efforts
in other words, to keep digging the hole deeper. In the
second place, the corollary effects are worse than the
drug abuse the war is designed to prevent. The most
important of these effects is the pervasively malign
influence of the money that is generated by making the drug
trade illegal. This is what has spawned the street
violence that is tearing the social fabric of so many
American cities and leaving so many people (mainly young
black men) dead. This is what is corrupting the politics
of Colombia and Mexico. The tide is spreading across the
USMexican border to infect United States law enforcement
officers. Through campaign contributions, drug money
destroyed the president of Colombia and we do not know how
many other Colombian politicians. So far as we know, drug
money has not reached into Los Pinos, the Mexican White
House, but for months Mexicans have been buffeted by almost
daily scandals of drug money in other places. Given the
fact that drug lords have had almost as much experience as
the CIA in laundering money and concealing paper trails, it
would not be surprising if some of their money turned up as
bipartisan political contributions in Washington. In the
face of these baleful side effects, antidrug crusaders in
Congress, including some who ought to know better, become
more, not less, insistent on making drugs the litmus test
of United States Latin American policy, especially with
Mexico. This ignores the extraordinary historical
sensitivity of Mexicans to any hint of United States
interference. Attempts to coerce Mexico are not only doomed
to failure but guaranteed to be counterproductive. The
first step in getting out of a hole is to analyze why we
started digging to begin with. In the case of the war on
drugs, it was because drugs are bad. They destroy
individuals and families and lead to crime and other social
evils. We can deal with drugs by suppressing supply or
demand or both. We have tried to do both, but the major
emphasis of drug policy has been on interdicting supplies,
and this has been its spectacular failure. It has also been
the source of the policy's counterproductive mischief
through generating the oceans of cash that pay for such
widespread corruption. We would be much better off if we
concentrated on suppressing demand. There are several
helpful precedents for dealing with the current problem.
In 1919 the United States banned "intoxicating liquors."
This was in response to a prolonged campaign against the
undeniable social evils linked to alcohol. What happened
was the growth of other social evils represented by the
rise of gangsterism as a forerunner of the Mafia. For every
speakeasy broken up by federal alcohol agents, two more
seemed to arise, while alcoholism continued unabated. In
1933 the United States abandoned Prohibition as a national
policy (though it remained in some states and local
jurisdictions) and instituted a system of regulation that
on the whole has worked well. We still have alcoholism, but
we do not have the pernicious side effects we had under
Prohibition. Our experience in Vietnam offers another
useful lesson. Voices urging intensified efforts in the
war on drugs are eerily reminiscent of what we were
hearing from the White House about Vietnam 30 years ago. If
we sent more troops and dropped more bombs, the strategists
of the Vietnam disaster told us, victory would assuredly be
ours. Instead, things only got worse. Congress at last
pulled the plug, and today we have normal diplomatic
relations and the beginning of commerce with Vietnam.
Finally, there is the example of nicotine. This is surely
as addictive, and over the long term as destructive, as the
main targets of the drug war. Nobody has suggested that
cigarettes be made illegal. Instead, the government has
mounted a vigorous propaganda campaign, which has resulted
in a marked decline in smoking. The most telling
commentary on the war on drugs is not that it has
failed to control drugs but that it has created so many
related social problems. These will endure even when and if
the drug policy is changed. They are a high price to pay
for pigheadedness. * Pat M. Holt, former chief of staff of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes on foreign
affairs from Washington.