With battering rams and flash-bang grenades, SWAT teams fuel the risk
of violence as they forcibly enter suspects' homes. Five months and 85
miles apart, two cases took starkly divergent legal paths.
SOMERVILLE, Tex. - Joshua Aaron Hall had been a resident of the
Burleson County Jail for about a week when he requested a meeting with
Gene Hermes, the sheriff's investigator who had locked him up for
violating probation. The stocky lawman arrived in the featureless
interview room on the morning of Dec. 13, 2013, placed his soda cup on
the table and apologized for not getting there sooner. He asked in his
gravelly drawl if they would be talking about Mr. Hall's own case.
[continues 6445 words]
Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 2, March 2017, page(s) 89 BC Centre for
Disease Control Mark W. Tyndall, MD, ScD, FRCPC
British Columbia is in the midst of a public health crisis, with 914
documented overdose deaths in 2016. While there has been a steady
increase in overdose deaths over the past 2 years, December 2016 had
the highest monthly total of deaths ever recorded (128 deaths).
This is particularly alarming as it is happening despite a public
health emergency announcement in April 2016 and a massive scale-up of
the take-home naloxone program that has been used in over 3000
[continues 574 words]
Disease control director says more should be prescribed
One of British Columbia's top experts on diseases has slammed
longstanding "drug policies that criminalize drug users," in an op-ed
in the B.C. Medical Journal's new issue, and pushed for the expansion
of government-prescribed opioids.
Dr. Mark Tyndall, provincial medical director of the B.C. Centre for
Disease Control, wrote about the province's opioid overdose epidemic,
which has killed almost 1,000 people in the last year "despite a
public-health emergency announcement in April 2016."
[continues 355 words]
Vancouver World kept up steady stream of stories on evil of
The evil of drugs has been a recurring theme for Vancouver newspapers
since the city was founded in 1886. But few papers went as far as the
Vancouver World's anti-dope campaign in January and February of 1922.
The tone of the campaign is summed up in an illustration by cartoonist
Ernest LeMessurier on Feb. 18. A sharply dressed "dope trafficker"
cowers before a cat o' nine tails whip being wielded by an arm
labelled "public indignation." The title of the illustration is "The
[continues 618 words]
Leave it to a University of Calgary political science professor to connect
legal pot to the fentanyl crisis. These people are afraid to take cold
Marijuana is only illegal because of turn-of-the-century racism, and the
overdose epidemic has been allowed to escalate because the victims are
poor. It's the so-called Calgary School's world view manifest.
Reid Blakley, Vancouver, B.C.
Madison- Doctors will have to check a statewide database before
prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs, under a broad series of
bills that Gov. Scott Walker signed Thursday to curb the abuse of heroin
and prescription painkillers.
"Wisconsin, like many other states across the country, is noticing a
dangerous trend - an escalating number of cases involving heroin and
opioid use, addiction, and overdose. The legislation we're signing into
law today as a part of our HOPE tour works to combat this trend," Walker
said in a statement.
[continues 569 words]
How a renowned Canadian feminist popularized our racist war on drugs
Detective Joe Ricci and his partner, Alex Sinclair, were out on a routine
bust in Vancouver's Chinatown. It was 1916, and Ricci and Sinclair were
front-line officers in the war on opium. The drug had been criminalized in
Canada eight years earlier through the introduction of the Western world's
earliest drug prohibition law, and the Vancouver police department had
been chasing down traffickers ever since. Ricci was a familiar sight in
the neighbourhood. He had made such a big arrest in 1913 that for days
after, the Vancouver Daily World reported, "not a light [was] to be seen
and the ringing noise of the chuck-a-luck dice [had] stopped." But the
gamblers and the opium smokers were soon back, and Ricci was out
patrolling the streets again.
[continues 4172 words]
Pamela McColl is guilty of some backwards thinking. Eight decades of
cannabis (marijuana) prohibition has proven to be "experimenting with
dangerous drug policies" and "risky public-health policy," not the
other way around.
Insinuating cannabis laws involve "evidence-based drug policy" could
not be farther from the truth. Cannabis prohibition and persecution
was orchestrated from the beginning out of greed and racism. If
cannabis were discovered today for the first time, it would be hailed
as a miracle plant.
Police chief says intervention, education key to tackling
For the first time under Chief Clive Weighill's tenure, crime in
Saskatoon is going up. This city has the highest murder rate in the
country and thefts and break-ins are spiking. The StarPhoenix sat down
with the city's police chief to talk crime and what's next for 2017.
Q The rise of methamphetamine is well documented in Saskatoon. You've
said it's a main contributor to the city's crime rate. How are you
going to combat it?
[continues 745 words]
Yes, there is a fentanyl crisis, but it is one we made ourselves in
our all-fired enthusiasm to control everything.
The Drug War had its origins almost exactly 100 years ago when
legislation was created both in the U.S. and Canada to "control"
cannabis and opium, and were largely racially-inspired attacks on
unpopular minorities who used these substances (eg. Chinese labourers
working on the CP railway, and disposable artsy types).
Since the Second World War, the drug problem has grown like Topsy,
each ill-advised exacerbation of the laws being reliably accompanied
by an increase in prison populations, in the U.S. from 500,000 in 1980
to about 2.2 million in 2013.
[continues 181 words]
Officials, former inmate contrast the emphasis on treatment vs.
When Leola Bivins was first sent away for dealing drugs, she was a
22-year-old high school dropout with a 2-year-old daughter at home.
Addiction was the center of the life she knew in East Stroudsburg,
where she was born and raised, she recalled recently. Bivins' mother
was a heroin addict - she eventually died of an overdose - and
seemingly everyone around her was either selling drugs or abusing
them, Bivins said.
[continues 2766 words]
Island Health is forging ahead with preparations for
supervised-consumption sites in Victoria, saying the mounting
drug-overdose deaths demand action.
"The sense of urgency we have is that we have citizens within our
community who are dying every day," Island Health CEO Brendan Carr
said at a health board meeting in Victoria.
Applications for two of three supervised-consumption sites are on
track to be submitted to Health Canada by the end of the month, Island
It wants to open supervised consumption services on Pandora Avenue
next to Our Place, on Bridge Street near the Rock Bay Landing shelter,
and at 844 Johnson St., which has been converted to housing for former
residents of Victoria's tent city.
[continues 614 words]
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in 2014, has made some progress
in cutting back on the unfair and sometimes illegal police practices
under which thousands of New Yorkers are arrested every year for
possessing trivial amounts of marijuana.
But despite research showing that whites and minority citizens use
marijuana at similar rates, black and Latino New Yorkers are still far
and away more likely to be singled out for low-level arrests that have
little public safety value, but seriously damage their lives.
[continues 422 words]
Letter to the editor:
Regarding USA TODAY's editorial "Marijuana on the ballot," no further
studies are needed. The results are in. If the goal of marijuana
prohibition is to deter use, prohibition is a failure. Few Americans had
heard of marijuana, much less smoked it, until Congress made it illegal
in 1937. Racial profiling was the clear intent of Reefer-madness-era
legislation. The ugly legacy of racially disproportionate enforcement
continues. This, despite mainstream use of marijuana, generated by the
forbidden-fruit appeal. If the goal is to subsidize violent drug
cartels, marijuana prohibition is a success.
[continues 90 words]
Dispensary works in 'legal grey zone' awaiting new federal law
The smell is unmistakable.
There must be a small mountain of pot lying somewhere in a back room
of the storefront office on St-Laurent Blvd.
That thick, skunky aroma - strong enough to trigger memories of a
misspent youth - is apparent the moment patients are buzzed through
the front door of Fondation Marijuana.
A whiteboard by the reception desk advertises strains with names like
Grand Daddy Purps, Jean Guy and Blue Magic.
[continues 2168 words]
Illegal drug use and trafficking have led to a multitude of ills in the
United States, sometimes because of racially infected law enforcement,
particularly in black neighborhoods.
But is decriminalizing small amounts of narcotics at least part of the
answer to the scourge?
Two major human and civil rights organizations make a good case for it
and advance the decriminalization discussion in a report released
Wednesday. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) are engaged in a major push to change the way federal,
state and local governments deal with drug enforcement and abuse.
[continues 770 words]
Our view: Legislators should investigate apparent inconsistency in
medical marijuana commission's criteria for who gets grower licenses
When the General Assembly legalized medical marijuana in Maryland, it
required the commission running the program to "actively seek to
achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing
medical marijuana growers." But the attorney general's office advised
the commission that, absent a study documenting racial disparities in
the medical cannabis industry, creating racial and ethnic preferences
was unconstitutional. As a result, the regulations the commission
adopted make no mention of racial diversity.
[continues 919 words]
DENVER - Many Californians will vote to legalize marijuana for adult
recreational use Nov. 8 because - hell, yeah! But many of the rest of
us are hoping for a longer, deeper high from legalization. We're
hoping it brings some social justice.
That benefit of legalization, I fear, is being a bit oversold in
California. Ask Candi CdeBaca. Legalizing pot hasn't started to solve
decades of inequities in her neighborhood because not enough people
there have made social justice a priority.
[continues 908 words]
Judge who acquitted Nosakhare Ohenen says case raises 'serious
prospect' that police planted drugs on him
In 2010, a judge ruled that Nosakhare Ohenhen's version of events
detailing his arrest, including the allegation that Toronto police
planted drugs on him, to be a "fabrication" and "totally
He was convicted on a number of drug and firearm offences, as well as
for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. He was sentenced
to nine years in prison, with credit for time spent in custody since
his 2008 arrest.
[continues 1361 words]
Judge blasts cops for actions that sent man to prison for 5 years
It's another black eye for Toronto Police delivered from the judicial
Unfortunately, it comes rather late for Nosakhare Ohenhen. Long after
the admitted drug dealer finished serving five years in prison,
Justice Michael Quigley has acquitted him of all charges at his
retrial, slamming Toronto cops for racial profiling and suggesting
they may have even planted the drugs found in the man's Jaguar when he
was stopped on Aug. 21, 2008.
[continues 645 words]