The description below is nothing particularly new, it’s from an article in about how Newark Aiport is increasingly popular as a hub airport for traffickers moving heroin and cocaine from Central America to Europe. As you’re reading, just ask yourself this: Is this really the best way we have of stopping children from taking drugs? Isn’t there a simpler way? You know, like maybe regulating the sale in shops here in the US?

Three federal law enforcement agencies share responsibility for interdicting and investigating drug smuggling at the airports: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the front-line defenders who “sniff out” the couriers; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations directorate, which takes over the investigations; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which manages a national drug intelligence program aimed at taking down domestic and international drug organizations.

When couriers are caught, the game plan is to quickly flip them and get them to turn in the people who were to pick up the drugs in the hope of developing leads that could eventually dismantle a network.

Within minutes of agreeing to cooperate, a courier is often deployed in a “controlled delivery” that results in additional arrests in the arrivals terminal or the airport parking lot.

“The courier is a great help, but most often the courier doesn’t have all the information on who the ultimate receiver is going to be,” said Mark Witzal, a deputy special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in New York.

“Everything is very compartmentalized. They only know enough of what they need to get into the country and then where they need to go,” Witzal said. “It’s for us to build a case using the information that we can get from a cooperator, be it a courier, information we might get from other sources, and also through a lot of different investigative techniques.”

“It’s a daunting task,” Witzal said. “Investigations are multiyear in scope. To take out, disrupt and dismantle an organization, it takes a significant amount of time.

Clearly, the purpose of the government’s drug strategy isn’t just to stop children from taking drugs, it’s to stop everyone from taking drugs. Sometimes,  I think we all just need to look at that and ask why?  Why is it so important to so many people that I don’t put this particular substance in my body?


On the radio this morning I heard that a school in Frederick County, Maryland, has banned children from bringing food in to school to share with each other after a student was taken to hospital (????) after eating a cupcake that may have been a little bit magic. Sounds like a reasonable and proportional and highly rational response to me. Idiots. As a distraction from the idiocy, here’s more idiocy: 13 ways that people around the world like to get high:

Drug Facts Infographic
Via: Medical Billing and Coding, via The Campus Socialite, and WAMU

Thanks Becky!

I tend to focus in this blog on places I have a connection with- write what you know and all that. But there is other stuff happening elsewhere. (No, really, there is.) So with today’s news that the International Harm Reduction Association is rebranding as Harm Reduction International, I’ve decided to look outside my usual ‘places I know’ perspective.

So, to Canada:

For a while they seemed to have a pretty good drug policy- back under the Liberals, before the Evil Stephen Harper, they were setting up a safe injecting site, enacting a ‘four pillar’ strategy and being all Canadian and nice and setting global standards for good practices in harm reduction. Then the Evil Stephen Harper did that traditional “tough on drugs coz it makes me look all manly” politician crap, and it’s all been a bit rubbish. But then his coalition government collapsed and now the Canadians are choosing a new government, and all the drug policy dudes are getting all excited because maybe the Liberals can knock some sense into politics and prevent the Evil Stephen Harper from introducing a crime bill within a 100 days which would criminalize EVERYTHING. None of the left wing want to appear soft on crime, obviously. Instead they’re trying to be smart on crime. (Do you see what they did there?) There’s an interesting post on how ideology has trumped evidence in recent drug policy debates in Canada here.

Things got particularly exciting this week with a judge in Ontario ruling that the country’s medical marijuana laws are so screwed, and doctors are so wary of the repercussions of prescribing/recommending/whatever process is required in Canada to get patients their weed, that the law is effectively denying patients the care they need. To address this, the Ontario Superior Court struck down two key parts of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that prohibit  possession and production of marijuana. From the National Post:

The court declared the rules that govern medical marijuana access and the prohibitions laid out in sections 4 and 7 of the Act “constitutionally invalid and of no force and effect” on Monday, effectively paving the way for legalization.

If the government does not respond within 90 days with a successful delay or re-regulation of marijuana, the drug will be legal to possess and produce in Ontario, where the decision is binding.

Here’s hoping for inaction on the part of the government. And good luck keeping the Evil Stephen Harper out of government too!


I like this. I don’t know what else to say.

via Boing Boing

Javier Sicilia erects the first of the names of the victims of Mexico's drug war (Photo from The Field: Al Giordano)

Javier Sicilia, who made the call for Mexicans to take to the streets last week in protest against Mexico’s continuing war on drugs, this week is asking people to remember the names of drug war victims in cities across Mexico.

Al Giordano writes:

Javier Sicilia today called on citizens throughout Mexico to erect such plaques on every municipal and state government hall on every town and city square, so that the 40,000 Mexicans killed in Calderón’s war will not be forgotten. “We have to give them back their names, their history, and also to their families who have been criminalized. At every Zócalo, put up their names, put up a plaque, so that their deaths will never be repeated.”

A story in the Washington Post last week drew attention to the number of children who are victims of violence in Mexico (1,180 in 2009). According to the DEA, “the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,”

I seriously hope the civil protests in Mexico can change the frame of this debate, because I don’t know what else will.  Unfortunate???? Cocktards.

Source: Narcosphere: Narco News- The Field, The Washington Post

Thanks Jamie!


A new report and campaign out this month from the NAACP highlights the misplaced priorities for state and federal funding – with states and federal government seemingly more willing to fund the incarceration of American youth than their education.

Key findings from the research:

• The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.

• The nation’s reliance on incarceration to respond to social and behavioral health issues is evidenced by the large numbers of people who are incarcerated for drug offenses. Among people in federal prisons, people in local jails, and young people held in the nation’s detention centers and local secure facilities, more than 500,000 people—nearly a quarter of all those incarcerated—are incarcerated as the result of a drug conviction.

• During the last two decades,  state spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of state spending on higher education

The NAACP’s recommendations:

1. Study the problem:  Support federal, state, and local efforts to create a blue-ribbon commission that will conduct a thorough evaluation of the criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform in a range of areas, including:  sentencing policy, rates of incarceration, law enforcement, crime prevention, substance abuse and mental health treatment, corrections, and re-entry.

2. Create reinvestment commissions:  Support commissions charged with identifying legislative and policy avenues to downsize prison populations and shift savings from prison closures to education budgets.

3. Eliminate disparities in drug laws: Support efforts to eliminate disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine at the state and federal level.

4. Increase earned time:  Support reforms that would allow prisoners to earn an earlier release by participating in educational and vocational programming as well as drug and mental health treatment.

5. Support youth violence reduction programs: Support programs and policies to develop a comprehensive plan for implementing evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies for at-risk youth to prevent gang activity and criminal justice involvement.

6. Reform sentencing and drug policies: Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses that help fuel drug imprisonment.

7. Use diversion for drug-involved individuals: Reform prosecutorial guidelines to divert people to treatment who would otherwise serve a mandatory prison term.

8. Shorten prison terms: Send young offenders who would otherwise receive mandatory sentences to structured programs to help them earn their GED and shave time off their prison sentences.

9. Increase parole release rates:  Improve parole boards’ ability to use evidence-based strategies when making decisions to parole prisoners, thus improving parolees’ chances for success and increasing parole approval rates.

10.Reduce revocations of people under community supervision:  Develop alternative to-incarceration programs that will reduce the number of people sent to prison for technical violations.

11.Support re-entry and the sealing of records: Support legislation that will close criminal records of certain offenders after they have not committed another crime within a certain number of years.

via: The Root, via Transform


Sometimes it’s good to keep things simple.

Source: This isn’t happiness