Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Teens get busted MMSing pics of marijuana, buy locations


In case all you parents out there were unaware of the downsides of teen cellphone use (dirty pictures, driving distractions, dangerous radiation), your kids have found yet another way to tech-out their illegal activities: selling drugs by MMSing pictures of the merchandise and the locations where they can be purchased. Apparently a group of affluent teens from Shrewsbury, MA, likely bored with spending their parents' money at the mall, were running a marijuana ring wherein photos were sent to other kids who would then forward the pics to their friends in a rather impressive display of viral marketing. Unfortunately for these young entrepreneurs, the parents of one of the children who received a drug-centric MMS were snooping through his/her cellphone and alerted the cops about this kiddie cartel. Police were able to use the photos they gathered to obtain tracking warrants, and after a bit of surveillance, arrested six of the teens involved in the operation. So remember parents, along with giving your kids "hugs not drugs," it's also helpful to invade their privacy as much as you can get away with.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Mexican drug gangs force Indians to grow opium

Reuters AlertNet
21 Dec 2005 13:00:52 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Tim Gaynor

PINO GORDO, Mexico, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Mexican Indians have grown maize, worshiped nature and lived by the light of pine torches in the canyons of the western Sierra Madre mountains for centuries. But this way of life is abruptly changing.

Now armed drug gangs are forcing them to plant opium poppies and marijuana in their ancestral lands, which lie in a notorious region dubbed Mexico's 'Golden Triangle' of drug trafficking.

The rugged point where the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa meet is home to around 90,000 Tarahumara, Tepehuan, Pima and Guarijio Indians, around half of whom are getting caught up -- only a few of them willingly -- in the spiraling trade, community leaders say.

The vulnerable groups live in log cabins or caves hewn from the rock of the plunging mile-deep canyons. Speaking in a consonant-rich dialect, they live by planting maize and beans and raising goats in a precarious hand-to-mouth existence.

Since the 1970s, tribal activists say at least 40 indigenous leaders have been gunned down by the chainsaw-wielding loggers and drug planters, in a conflict that is little known in the rest of Mexico.

The problem has recently become so bad that it is reaching even far-flung villages like Pino Gordo, a highly traditional Tarahumara Indian community watched over by peyote-chewing shamans, some 50 miles (80-km) from the nearest road.

"Outsiders are coming in and cutting down our oak and pine trees without our permission," the community's traditional leader Prudencio Ramos said in broken Spanish.

"They walk among us with guns and sow marijuana and poppies, and people are afraid," he added.


While home to indigenous groups, the rugged tri-state area is also the cradle of the Mexican drug trade, where Chinese settlers first came in the 19th century to grow opium poppies for morphine-based painkillers sold in the United States.

Now, locals say traffickers are pushing ever deeper into the labyrinthian canyons of the Sierra, felling the old growth forests and planting illegal drug crops away from the vigilant gaze of the Mexican army, who set up road blocks in the area.

"The traffickers look for the most out-of-the-way places to plant marijuana and poppies ... and these are precisely the areas where the indigenous groups live," said Ramon Castellano, a local agricultural consultant of mixed Pima Indian descent.

They force some Stetson-wearing Indian farmers to plant marijuana and poppies at gun point. Others accept seeds, money and provisions from the traffickers in a bid to squeeze a few extra pesos from their marginal lands.

Toward harvest time in March and April, locals say burly cartel minders with assault rifles and two-way radios watch over the pockets of opium poppy blooms, which are transformed into increasingly pure "black tar" heroin and smuggled over the U.S. border.

"If it's a good year, the farmers can earn more than they can by planting maize," said Isidro Baldenegro, a Tarahumara activist who won a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize this year for his efforts to protect the forest communities.

"But if the army goes in, then they lose the crop and they don't even have the maize left to eat," he added.

Baldenegro, whose father was killed by an unknown gunman in 1986, has an armed police escort when he travels in the mountainous region after being harassed by powerful and well-connected drug loggers.

He was jailed on false charges of arms and drug possession in 2003, before being released 15 months later following pressure from international organizations including Amnesty International.


Mexican drug gangs are growing increasingly violent, and authorities say they have killed more than 1,000 people since the start of 2005 in a war for control of the lucrative trade in cocaine, marijuana, heroin and amphetamines worth billions of dollars in the United States.

The Sierra Madre Alliance, a nonprofit organization which supports threatened indigenous groups in the region, says the cartels' profits and networks of influence are forcing the Indians off their traditional lands.

The fall-out from the trade is also hitting tribal peoples' customs hard, filling traditional villages with guns, cash and consumer goods, while rates of drug and alcohol abuse there are starting to climb.

"There are now Tarahumara youngsters who smoke marijuana, which they never did before, and it's very common for them to get drunk when they have the money," said Baldenegro.

"They also buy loud radios and play music, which annoys people during the traditional festivals," he added.

Locals say some youngsters now play thumping accordion ballads called 'narco-corridos' honoring local drug lords, while others venerate Jesus Malverde -- the bandits' patron saint.

As the snarling chainsaws and cartel pistoleros close in on Pino Gordo, regarded as one of the last untouched Tarahumara strongholds in the sierra, Baldenegro is desperate.

"We are calling to the four winds for help," he said. "If we don't get it, there is a real danger that traditional life here will simply disappear."

JS Online: 2 charged in heroin death of Cedarburg girl

JS Online
Posted: Dec. 22, 2005

Port Washington - Two people were charged Thursday in connection with the heroin overdose death of a 17-year-old Cedarburg girl in November.

Benjamin R. Stibbe, 23, of Grafton, and Caitlin E. Schuette, 17, of Cedarburg, are each charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the death of Angela Raettig, who died Nov. 30 of a heroin overdose, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

The two are being charged under the state’s rarely used and so-called "Len Bias" law, which allows for someone who provides drugs that are a "substantial factor" in a death to be prosecuted for homicide.

The law, which was enacted in 1989, is named after a University of Maryland basketball player who died of a drug overdose in 1986. According to the criminal complaint, Schuette, Raettig and Ryan Hinkle, 19, of Cedarburg, were at Hinkle’s apartment Nov. 29. “She (Schuette) stated that Angela had just gotten her drivers license and they had decided to go to Milwaukee to get some heroin,” the complaint says. Stibbe was contacted, using Schuette’s cell phone, and asked to arrange the purchase of heroin in Milwaukee.

Raettig initially made the phone call, according to statements attributed to Stibbe and Schuette in the complaint, but Stibbe refused to deal with Raettig since he did not know her or Hinkle.

But he agreed to arrange the purchase once Schuette, whom he did know, got on the phone.

Raettig drove the group in her mother’s car to a KFC restaurant along Fond du Lac Ave. in Milwaukee, where Stibbe met a heroin dealer. Stibbe told investigators that Schuette gave him $50 and Raettig gave him two $20 bills, which he used to buy four bags of heroin for $80 from the dealer.

Stibbe first bought a soda in the restaurant with the money so he would have the correct change to purchase the heroin, the complaint says.

Each of the four took one bag containing an unspecified amount of heroin, the complaint says.

Stibbe snorted his share in the car. The others took Stibbe to his Grafton home and then went to Hinkle’s Cedarburg apartment because Raettig and Schuette “didn’t have a clean rig,” meaning a hypodermic needle, Stibbe told investigators, according to the complaint.

But Hinkle told Raettig and Schuette he had “a clean rig” at his residence, Stibbe told investigators according to the complaint.

Schuette also told investigators she saw Raettig inject herself with heroin and that Raettig then asked Schuette if she wanted to also.

“Sure, a little bit,” at which point Raettig injected Schuette, Schuette said, according to the complaint.

According to the criminal complaint, Hinkle told investigators he did not see Raettig and Schuette inject heroin, although he said he had in other court documents.

In an e-mail sent to the Journal Sentinel on Dec. 6, Schuette called Raettig “my best friend and I was there on Tuesday (Nov. 29) and know what happened.”

Hinkle is in jail on felony heroin possession and bail jumping charges. The bail jumping charge stems from a police search that turned up drugs in his apartment a day after Raettig’s death. While he is named in the criminal complaint, Hinkle has not been charged in connection with Raettig’s death.

His mother, Laura Hinkle, said this week that she would post $1,000 bail to free her son so he could attend a 28-day inpatient drug rehabilitation program in Minnesota.

Ozaukee County District Attorney Sandy Williams asked that bail be set at $50,000 for Schuette “due to the seriousness of the charges.”

Schuette’s attorney, Michael Penkwitz, asked that McCormack impose a signature bond, arguing that Schuette is not a flight risk because she has no car and lives with her family in Cedarburg.

“I would like to see her get back into counseling,” Penkwitz said.

McCormack denied Penkwitz’s request.

“She is now facing serious charges as an adult, has a previous record and, as is obvious from the complaint, has contacts with the drug culture,” McCormack said. He set bail at $30,000 cash and ordered Schuette to have no contact with Stibbe or Hinkle.

Schuette has a previous juvenile drug offense record, for which she was placed under supervision in July, Williams told McCormack at Thursday’s hearing.

Williams filed the homicide charges against Schuette and Stibbe on Wednesday but they were ordered sealed by McCormack at Williams’ request until Schuette was taken into custody by Cedarburg police later in the day.

Making the complaint public “can pose a risk of flight if defendant Schuette becomes aware of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant,” Williams wrote in her petition to seal the documents, which were unsealed Thursday morning.

For the latest offense, Stibbe’s bail was set at $20,000 by McCormack.

Stibbe has been held in jail since Dec. 1 on $30,000 cash bail. He was charged then with two felony charges of delivering heroin.

Those charges allege that he took undercover police officers to Milwaukee where he purchased heroin for them. He also faces a misdemeanor theft charge for allegedly stealing a bottle of liquor from a Grafton gas station.

Cedarburg Police Chief Tom Frank said Thursday the investigation into Raettig’s death is continuing and that more charges may be filed. Williams declined to comment whether more charges would be forthcoming.

Stibbe has been linked to three other possibly drug-related deaths.

According to Grafton police officials, a “strong circumstantial case” exists to link Stibbe to the death of Lynn Smaxwill, a 43-year-old Grafton woman, who was found dead of a heroin overdose in December 2002 by her 12-year-old son.

That case is under review by Williams, but no charges have been filed, officials say.

Debbie Kobiske, of Grafton, the mother of 21-year-old Matt Kobiske, has said her son had been with Stibbe the night before she found her son dead in his bed Oct. 16, less than a month after Matt Kobiske finished inpatient treatment for heroin use.

A week later, on Oct. 23, another Grafton man, James Helm, 47, died in what his brother said was likely a heroin-cocaine overdose. Hinkle, Schuette and Stibbe were in custody at the Ozaukee County Jail on Thursday night.

Schuette and Stibbe could each be imprisoned up to 40 years and fined $100,000 if convicted of the charges filed Thursday.

Katharine Goodloe of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Students slip drug into teacher's drink

News 14 Carolina
12/20/2005 8:54 PM
By: Mercer Merrill

SHELBY, N.C. -- Cleveland County school officials confirmed Tuesday that two freshmen were suspended for putting a drug in their teacher's drink when he wasn’t looking.

Jerry Bumbaugh, a technology teacher at Crest High School, didn’t drink the spiked water, though. He was tipped off by another student.

"It was more or less on a dare,” said David Bramlett, a school resource officer. “It wasn’t a situation where the student was out to get a teacher.”

The incident happened Dec. 12. The ground-up drug is not yet known, although school officials believe it is probably Ecstasy. Bramlett said the school did a related investigation and found what they believe to be Ecstasy on a student.

"We'll know for sure when the test results come back,” Bramlett said. “But right now, with the information we've got so far, it seems to be Ecstacy."

The substances have been sent to the State Bureau of Investigation, which has its crime lab in Raleigh. Results are expected to come back in about six months.

According to school officials, the two freshmen were suspended for 10 days. More students might be involved, however, and charges are still pending.

New Drug Discovered During Bust

NEVADA COUNTY — Investigators in Nevada County are checking out an apparent new type of illegal drug that turned up during a bust there this week.

On Tuesday, officers from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force, served a search warrant at the residence of Zachary Michael Fisher, 22 years old, on Sutton Way, in the Nevada Woods Apartment complex in Grass Valley.

While conducting the search, officers said they discovered marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, suspected LSD, and a white powdery substance, suspected of being a new hallucinogenic drug called 2C-I (2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine). Officers also said they located evidence of an indoor marijuana grow, which led them to a residence on St. Ledger Forest, in Grass Valley, where the existence of an indoor grow was confirmed.

The search warrant was obtained when the suspect allegedly tried to mail about 2 ounces of marijuana via UPS. Zachary was arrested and charged with cultivation of marijuana, distribution of marijuana, and possession of controlled substances and booked into the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.

Substances will be analyzed by the Dept of Justice Crime Lab to confirm the compounds.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Family Receives Marijuana in the Mail


A Wichita family gets a big surprise in the mail, but not anything they'd want to put under the tree. It was a package filled with 30 pounds of marijuana.

The two bricks of marijuana were delivered by Federal Express on Thursday. The pot has a street value of about $12,000. The package had a return address from California.

Fed Ex officials say they're shocked and are trying to get to the bottom of it. Spokesman Jim McCluskey says the company has one of the most secure networks in shipping and is often cited for awards from local and federal law enforcement agencies.

McCluskey says the company doesn't know how this package made it through. They're taking steps to prevent it from happening again. The Wichita Police did not have a comment on the case.

Police discover 14 kilos cannabis, counterfeit credit cards
By Ruth Davies

A 30-year-old Egyptian man will be arraigned in court on Friday after he was caught in possession of 14 kilos of cannabis resin on Thursday at 0300CET. The drug haul is one of the largest Malta has ever witnessed. The man will be charged with drug possession which was not intended for his exclusive and personal use. A Maltese man is also being detained in connection with the case. In a separate case, counterfeit credit cards were discovered in a raid carried out by police in a Bulgarian man's residence.

The cannabis was discovered in the Egyptian man’s car on Thursday at 0300CET in Rabat. The man is a Maltese resident. 59 bars of cannabis were seized in all.

Duty Magistrate Dr. Padovani Grima was informed of the case and appointed various experts to assist in an inquiry.

Police investigations are being led by Inspector Hubert Theuma and the Anti-Drugs Police Squad.

In turn, police are also investigating a number of plastic cards used to extract money from money dispensing machines installed outside banks. A 34-year-old Bulgarian man who resides in Malta has been arrested in connection with the case after a raid carried out in his residence led to the discovery of the raid counterfeit plastic cards along with a substantial amount of money in both the local Lira currency and the Euro currency. The police had been observing the man's movements for a number of days.

Three computers were also seized during the raid.

The man is being detained for further investigations and is expected to be arraigned in court in the upcoming days.

Investigations are being carried out by the Police Against Economic Crimes and the Anti-Drugs Police Squad.

22 Years Behind Bars For Cannabis

Bandar Seri Begawan – A Chinese man was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane by the High Court yesterday after he was found guilty of two charges of trafficking cannabis totalling 444.448gm.

The defendant, Chiang Chee Yee who was represented by Counsel Mr Hj Zul-Sukarla was first convicted for having in possession for the purposes of trafficking 415.335gm of cannabis on Oc 23, 2003. He was sentenced to 22 years and 15 strokes for that offence.

Meanwhile, the defendant was sentenced to 4 years and 4 strokes on a second charge for having in possession

for the purposes of trafficking the same drugs weighing 29.113gm on Oct 24 the same year. However, Judge Datin Paduka Hjh Hayati ordered for the sentences to run concurrently.

In sentencing, Judge Datin Paduka noted that possession of 600gm for the purposes of trafficking attracts the death penalty. In law, possession of 400-600gm attracts the minimum of 20 years and 15 strokes, a maximum 30 years.

She took into account the not guilty plea, the amount of drugs and the minimum penalty imposed before passing the sentence. More than 15 witnesses were called in by the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Pg Nina Jasmine during the trial. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Owl discovered in Christmas tree found with marijuana in system


Here's a holiday story you just won't believe.

A family found an owl in their Christmas tree, and the bird apparently had a little hooter in him.

A small screech owl was found in a live Christmas tree that a family bought.

They kept the tree for five days before they decided to decorate it.

When they did, they found the owl. Animal control officers came to get the owl, and when they did, they made a shocking discovery!

"I kept smelling him and smelling him, saying 'What is that odor'. It was lying there as happy as can be,"says one animal control officer who was at the scene.

"Curiously enough, the owl's feathers smelled very, very potently like marijuana," says Animal Control Officer Dering. They examined the owl, looked at its eyes, big owl eyes, and the owl was, in the vernacular, stoned."

Blood tests confirmed the owl was flying high, on marijuana.

They checked him out, fed him and named him Cheech.

He'll be released in a few days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Real Thing; Coca-Cola Rival Will Include Cocaine Ingredient

BOGOTA, Colombia -- A group of Indians in southern Colombia have created a new soft drink made from coca leaf extract and plan to market their product as an alternative to Coca-Cola.

Coca Sek, a golden, carbonated drink, will go on sale this week in parts of Colombia. But its makers expect they won't be able to export to the United States due to rules blocking the entry of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine.

The soda looks like apple cider, has a tea-like fragrance and a flavor somewhere between Seven-Up and ginger ale.

David Curtidor, a Nasa Indian who heads the small community company producing the drink, says that aside from being refreshing, the drink also is intended to make a political statement against transnational companies. Curtidor says Coca-Cola "symbolizes imperialist domination" and does not buy its raw ingredients in Colombia.

He ays people in the tiny southwestern town of Calderas where the soft drink was created prefer not to drink Coca-Cola. So they are offering a substitute.

Coca-Cola dropped cocaine from its ingredients decades ago, although the soda maker's secret formula still calls for a cocaine-free coca extract produced by the New Jersey-based Stepan Company, which Peruvian officials have said buys dried Peruvian coca leaves.

U.S. statistics on cocaine fight challenged

The Kansas City Star

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON — A new congressional report questions the reliability of key U.S. government data on cocaine trafficking, price and purity levels.

The 52-page report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, raises fresh doubts about Bush administration claims of progress in the war on drugs.

The report also warned that an overstretched military, aging equipment, and new tactics by traffickers could hamper the ability of U.S. law enforcement to intercept drug shipments in the future.

The GAO report says that data used to evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. drug interdiction were “problematic,” and numbers on U.S. drug usage tended to be outdated and hard to obtain.

The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, responsible for coordinating drug issues and data, disputes parts of the report. David Murray, the office’s policy director, said that the GAO investigators had “some misconceptions” and that “there are still some features of the report that we think are not as careful as they should be.”

Since 2000, the U.S. government has spent $6 billion in an effort to disrupt the international drug trade. Most of the money has been directed at Colombia, which supplies about 90 percent of the cocaine available in the United States.

Officials often produced a range of statistics — from record seizures to acreages of coca crops sprayed with herbicides — as evidence that the money was spent well.

Cocaine seizures reportedly rose from 117 metric tons in 2001 to 196 metric tons in 2004. And last month, John Walters, who heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced that the price of cocaine rose 19 percent and purity declined 15 percent over a seven-month period this year — evidence that cocaine is getting scarcer.

While the GAO report does not say the numbers may be wrong, it says the government needs to obtain more reliable data.

“Production and consumption estimates could be widely off the mark,” and data on U.S. price and purity were outdated and did not necessarily reflect national trends, the GAO investigators said.

The U.S. government estimated that between 325 metric tons and 675 metric tons of cocaine entered the United States in 2004, a range that is too broad to be useful, the report added.

Mylo's New Vid Features President Bush Snorting Cocaine!


Scottish dance whiz kid Mylo has made a shocking new video featuring President Bush snorting cocaine and watching porn.

The Bush look-alike ever mingles with prostitutes wearing Tony Blair masks in the promo for new single ‘Muscle Car’.

Mylo – real name Myles McInnes – isn’t too shy about his feelings for the American head man.
Speaking about the vid, he said: “We got lots of people pitching to do videos with cars in them, for obvious reasons.

“And then there was this one about George W Bush going on a bender, so it kind of stood out.”
He continued to the Star: “It wasn’t hard to decide. I was living in Los Angeles when Bush stole the election in 2001. It was very depressing.

“In the four years since then, he’s proved to be even more stupid and dangerous than I feared at the time.“I felt that I’d already had a satirical pop at American fundamentalism with my track ‘Destroy Rock & Roll’, but not everybody interpreted it that way.”

Monday, December 12, 2005

U.S. drug agents raid medical marijuana sites

Sign on San Diego

By Jeff McDonald

SAN DIEGO – Federal drug agents fanned out across San Diego on Monday, clamping down on medical marijuana dispensaries that had been doling out marijuana to sick and dying patients.

At least two teams of agents removed pot and equipment from about a half-dozen businesses, which are permitted by state and local law but illegal under federal drug laws.

The move came as San Diego County supervisors have refused to abide by state medical-marijuana laws by issuing ID cards to qualified patients. It also means thousands of patients across the county now have nowhere to go to buy marijuana, which they say alleviates a variety of acute symptoms stemming from chronic health conditions.
The federal raids also were the latest high-profile move by U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, who in the past two weeks has won a plea agreement to bribery charges from disgraced Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and challenged a federal judge's order tossing out corruption convictions of San Diego Councilman Michael Zucchet.

Man Had 100 Bags of Cocaine in Stomach


A Liberian man was arrested with about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine concealed in 100 condoms in his stomach on the Norwegian-Swedish border, customs officials said Monday.

The 41-year-old, whose name was withheld, was a passenger on bus from Sweden to southeastern Norway, and needed medical attention shortly after he was detained late Saturday, said Wenche Fredriksen, of the Norwegian Customs Region Eastern Norway.

She said the man swallowed the illegal drugs in Germany, and became ill during the customs interrogation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

West urged to rethink opium policy


LONDON (Reuters) - Western countries should buy opium from Afghanistan and use it for medicinal purposes rather than soldiering on in a futile bid to destroy the poppy crop, a think-tank specialising in drugs policy said on Monday.

Western powers are wasting millions of dollars trying to stamp out the illegal opium trade, international think-tank The Senlis Council said. Instead, they should develop a licensing system to allow Afghans to sell opium legally for use in painkillers like morphine and codeine.

"It is a pipe dream to believe that the goal of the reconstruction of Afghanistan will be achieved by using force against Afghan poppy farmers," Senlis executive director Emmanuel Reinhert said.

"It is totally unrealistic to even attempt to eliminate the crop which accounts for as much as 60 percent of the country's economy."

Afghanistan is by far the world's biggest source of illicit opium and its refined product heroin, accounting for about 87 percent of global supply.

Production has risen to record levels since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Last year, a United Nations report said if nothing was done, Afghanistan could turn into a lawless "narco-state" run by drug cartels.

President Hamid Karzai has vowed to wipe out poppy production but has admitted it could take up to 10 years.

In the meantime, Western countries are ploughing millions of dollars into anti-drugs projects, many designed to persuade local farmers to swap lucrative poppies for other crops.

Senlis, unveiling findings from the first stage of its feasibility study into opium licensing, said there was a ready market for at least part of Afghanistan's huge opium crop, which climbed to around 4,100 tonnes last year.

It could help make morphine, codeine and thebaine, all used in painkillers.

At the moment, opium is produced legally in several countries -- including India, Turkey, Australia and France -- for use in medicine.

However, Senlis says more is needed.

Three-quarters of the world's morphine is used in just seven developing countries. If more were available, the price of painkillers would fall, the think-tank says.

It said there was also a huge untapped market for opium-based painkillers in developing countries, where they could be used as they are in the West -- to alleviate pain caused by cancer, heart attacks and surgery.

Senlis called on Britain, which has led counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, to reconsider what it said was a deeply misguided policy of crop eradication.

"Vast sums of the British public's money have been spent since 2001 on failing policies," Reinhert said.

8th-grader accused of dealing OxyContin

Chicago-Sun Times

EAST ALTON , Ill. -- School officials have expelled an eighth-grader at East Alton Middle School for the remainder of the school year because she allegedly offered to sell or give the prescription painkiller OxyContin to fellow students.

While authorities have not found drugs in the girl's possession, school officials said witness had said she displayed supplies of OxyContin to other students.

Principal Eric Frankford said the eighth-grader allegedly received the pills from a high school-aged friend who asked her to sell them at the school.

''It was to kind of drum up business, I guess,'' Frankford said.

Study clears peyote use by the Navajos

The Detroit News

Scientists claim ingestion during their religious rites produces no adverse effects.

Shankar Vedantam / Washington Post

Repeated use of the hallucinogenic drug peyote produces no psychological problems or adverse effects among Navajos who use it in religious rituals, according to an unusual study partly funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Those who ingested the peyote cactus in fact had better moods and a greater sense of psychological well-being than nonusers, although those benefits probably were the result of being part of a close-knit religious community rather than a result of the hallucinogen, researchers who conducted the study found.

The scientists cautioned that it is unclear whether people who use hallucinogens illegally would show similar benefits. Navajo users are allowed to ingest the drug as part of a religious ceremony, and its use is carefully circumscribed and guided. The active ingredient in peyote is the drug mescaline.

"Something being used responsibly in a religious setting in a ceremony that is more than a century old is different than an illicit user taking something on the street," said Harrison Pope, one of the study's authors. "We cannot generalize from these findings."

Previous studies had suggested that hallucinogens caused lasting psychological problems, but Pope, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said the new study is the first to study users who were not simultaneously abusing other drugs. The Navajo peyote users are forbidden from using drugs outside the religious ceremonies.

"In the '60s and '70s, there was negative commentary about hallucinogens, with statements saying these were toxic drugs that could cause people to become insane," said Pope, whose paper was published last week in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The researchers compared Navajos who had ingested peyote at least once a month over a long period with Navajos who were not taking any drugs. A series of tests involving spatial skills and strategic reasoning showed no difference between the groups.

Huge Demands for Heroin Site


Vancouver - Health authorities in Canada's westernmost province want to make the country's first test facility for heroin injection permanent and are considering opening additional clinics to meet the huge demand.

The Vancouver facility was set up in 2003, against US opposition, as a three-year experiment exempt from Canadian drug laws.

Since then the clinic, North America's only such operation, has run at capacity, with some 800 heroin injections daily.

"It's all-round positive, with no downsides," said Perry Kendall, British Columbia province's chief medical officer.

Kendall said the clinic achieved its goal to cut overdose deaths and rates of hepatitis and HIV infection. Although its exemption from drug laws will not expire until September 2006, this month he applied to Health Canada to make the facility permanent.

With a federal election currently underway in Canada, a decision will likely take months.

The clinic looks like an innocuous storefront in Vancouvers squalid Downtown Eastside district, Canada's most impoverished neighbourhood with more than 5 000 heroin addicts concentrated in a 10-block area.

Police have turned a blind eye

Addicts bring in drugs purchased illegally on the street, and self-inject them under medical supervision. There are onsite emergency services in case of overdose and staff nurses and counsellors to provide health care and referrals to rehabilitation facilities.

Worldwide, about 50 similar clinics operate routinely, mostly in Europe.

As in Europe, Canadian public opinion has changed to view drug addiction as a health issue instead of a purely criminal matter.

But drug issues here are affected by the proximity to the United States with its official war on drugs.

The Vancouver clinic is a stone's throw from the border with Washington state, and since it opened the White House has criticised it as an "inhumane" medical experiment.

The US also opposes a new experiment in Vancouver to give addicts free prescription heroin in hopes of reducing property crimes to feed their habit.

Ironically, the success of Vancouvers supervised heroin use site led to another controversy this month, as Vancouver police launched a crackdown on public drug use.

For years police have turned a blind eye in some areas to thousands of addicts shooting up on sidewalks, streets and in public buildings such as libraries, and leaving behind used syringes.
Police now say because addicts can use the supervised facility, they will be stopped from injecting in public.

Advocates for drug users protested that the police crackdown is cruel because the clinic can only serve a minority of drug users.

"It's just a really destructive thing," said Ann Livingston of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

She notes that the supervised site can handle just 800 of 15 00 heroin injections daily, and staff are prohibited from physically injecting addicts or letting other addicts inject incapacitated users.

'Cocaine brick' turns to crumbly cheese

Independent Online

Memphis, Tennessee - A woman allegedly tried to hire a hitman to rob and kill some men who she believed had a brick of cocaine in their house, police said. However, the white block turned out to be cheese, and the hitman for hire was an undercover police officer.

The woman was in the Memphis home of the four intended victims last week when she mistook a block of queso fresco cheese for cocaine - inspiring the alleged idea to hire someone to break into the home, take the drugs, and kill the men, police say.

Jessica Sandy Booth, 18, was arrested over the weekend and remains in jail with bond set at $1-million on four charges of attempted murder and four counts of soliciting a murder, The Commercial Appeal reported on Tuesday.

An informant described the plot to police, who arranged a meeting between Booth and the undercover officer.

The undercover officer gave Booth some nonfunctioning handguns, bought ammunition for her because she was too young, and the two proceeded to the home under police surveillance.

Booth told the officer that any children inside the house old enough to testify would have to be killed, police said.

A search of the home with the permission of the occupants revealed no drugs - only the white, crumbly cheese common in Mexican cuisine.

"Four men were going to lose their lives over some cheese," said Lieutenant Jeff Clark, who heads Project Safe Neighbourhoods. - Sapa-AP

CA Supreme Court to Hear Medical Marijuana Job Discrimination Case

Drug Policy Alliance

On December 1, 2005, days after the Alliance filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) letter urging the California Supreme Court to hear the case Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, the Court agreed to do exactly that. The Alliance argued that Gary Ross, a medical marijuana patient under California's Compassionate Use Act, was wronged when he was fired by his employer after testing positive for marijuana. Mr. Ross used medical marijuana during non-working hours, off the employment premises. The outcome of the case will help determine whether - and to what extent - the Compassionate Use Act protects individuals qualified to perform essential job duties from being fired solely because their medical treatment includes physician-recommended marijuana.

Gary Ross treated his chronic pain and muscle spasms from a military injury with medical marijuana for two years before he was offered a job with Ragingwire Telecommunications. Ross provided the company with his physician’s recommendation but was fired after eight days on the job because he tested positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test. Ross filed suit alleging wrongful termination but the lower courts held the company did not discriminate against him based on his disability. The intermediate appellate court's opinion, which will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, focused largely on the illegality of marijuana under federal law.
For the last decade the Alliance has worked to assure the Compassionate Use Act is implemented and interpreted consistently with its core premise – that persons who can benefit from medical marijuana should not be discriminated against for their choice of medicine, and that public policy regarding medical marijuana should be grounded in science, reason, compassion and justice.

The Alliance’s amicus letter to the Supreme Court in the Ross case argues that the lower court’s decision reflects a serious misunderstanding of the Compassionate Use Act and of the relationship between state and federal law. The letter contends that excluding individuals from employment based on their medical treatment is unlawful disability discrimination, as the employer did not – and could not – establish that accommodating Mr. Ross’s disability would be an undue hardship for the company. The Alliance letter further outlines how the overly narrow reading of the Compassionate Use Act by the lower court squarely conflicts with state public policy and fundamental privacy rights protected by the California Constitution.

Now that the Court has agreed to hear the case, the Alliance will redouble its efforts and work with allied organizations in the fields of labor, disability rights, medicine and the law to submit additional friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn the decision below and protect Mr. Ross – and similarly situated medical marijuana users – from discrimination in the employment context.

Bill Would Let Medical Marijuana Patients Include Medicinal Use as Part of Defense


In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court;s ruling in the Raich case earlier this year, which permits the federal government to continue arresting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers-- even in states where medical use of marijuana is permitted-- U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and his bipartisan co-sponsors have re-introduced legislation to that would let medical marijuana defendants have the right to tell the truth in court.

H.R. 4272, officially dubbed “The Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act”, guarantees medical marijuana defendants the right to introduce evidence demonstrating that the marijuana-related activities for which they stand accused were performed in compliance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana. In addition, the bill specifically limits the government’s ability to seize assets – including medical cannabis plants. Americans for Safe Access is encouraging people to contact their member of Congress to urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 4272.

Steve McWilliams was a medical marijuana patient and activist who died earlier this year. He had apparently overdosed on the medications that he had been given in place of the marijuana that he had been denied since his 2002 arrest.

Man sentenced in meth-from-urine mishap


Kathleen Sullivan

There was a scientific method to Daniel Zeiszler's madness when he tried to extract methamphetamine from his own urine, after smoking the illegal street drug last September in his South San Francisco hotel room.

But Zeiszler's experiment went dangerously awry when he spilled some solvent on himself, then lit a cigarette while he contemplated his next move, starting a fire that burned his right hand and arm.

The hotel was evacuated. Firefighters were summoned. So were hazardous materials experts.
Zeiszler, a 22-year-old employee of a San Francisco recycling depot, landed in jail.

Zeiszler, who pleaded no contest to a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine in November, was sentenced Friday to five months in prison -- with credit for time served -- and three years' probation by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles.

"Did you know you can get methamphetamine from urine?" asked an incredulous Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County chief deputy district attorney, in an interview after the sentencing. "The methodology this guy used would work, but it would take bottles and bottles of urine -- not one void of a bladder."

Make that gallons of urine, said William Johnston, Zeiszler's attorney, who described his client's attempt to reclaim excreted methamphetamine from his urine as a "really, really silly" move.

Methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that produces an intense rush, can also cause convulsions, strokes, stomach cramps, shaking, cardiac arrhythmia and a dangerous rise in body temperature.

"I suspect that, more than anything, Steve was doing this as an intellectual proposition," said Johnston, adding that Zeiszler had no record of prior arrests. "He is a bright, articulate young man who was wasting his life playing around with this stuff. Anybody who would -- for fun -- read a chemistry text should be in school instead of sitting in San Mateo County Jail."

Which is exactly where he intends to be after he is released, Zeiszler told the judge at his sentencing.