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Drug War Briefs: Ricky's Choice

This week, Miami Dolphins' Ricky Williams quits the NFL after failing his third drug test, and says he will continue to smoke marijuana; arrests for marijuana possession are down 30 percent in the UK and Canada; and the USA blames the UK for not doing enough to halt the opium trade in Afghanistan.
 
 
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July 29- San Jose Mercury News reports: Even if retired Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams changes his mind and decides to return to football this season, he will be forced to serve a four-game suspension after failing a third drug test for marijuana use.

Williams admitted Thursday that marijuana played a larger role in his retirement than he originally indicated, and that he learned of a third failed test and upcoming suspension just days before informing Coach Dave Wannstedt of his decision to quit football.

Williams said, however, that there were "a hundred reasons" for his retirement and that his desire to continue smoking marijuana without inhibition was merely one of them.

Williams failed his first drug test soon after arriving in Miami in 2002. He spent much of his two seasons with the Dolphins in the league's drug program, seeing a therapist weekly and subjected to eight to 10 random urine tests a month at his home.

Williams said he continued smoking throughout his time as Dolphins, stopping only for a month here and there, but passed random tests by drinking 32 ounces of a masking agent called Extra Clean and chasing it quickly with 32 ounces of water.

Williams, who suffers from social-anxiety disorder and was a spokesperson for the anti-depressant Paxil, said marijuana helped him once he had to stop using Paxil because it didn't agree with his diet.

"Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil," he said.

Williams said he doesn't see anything wrong with marijuana because it is "just a plant" and his hero, Bob Marley, admitted to smoking it daily. Williams has Marley tattoos all over his body, named his first child Marley and is friends with Marley's children.

July 29- UK's The Guardian reports: Arrests for cannabis possession have dropped by a third in the five months since the drug law was relaxed in January, according to early estimates published by the Home Office yesterday.

Ministers say the estimates show that 180,000 hours of police officer time will be saved in a year as a result of the reclassification of cannabis from a class B to class C drug.

The change is intended to encourage police officers to confiscate the substance and issue an on-the-spot warning rather than make an arrest in cases of simple possession. The latest published figures show that as many as 97,000 people a year were being arrested for cannabis possession before the change.

July 29- Canada's Globe and Mail reports: The number of people charged with possession of cannabis fell by 30 per cent last year as police appeared to turn a blind eye to dope smokers due to uncertainty over Canada's pot laws, Statistics Canada reported yesterday.

"This drop may have been, in part, a result of a climate of uncertainty among police, given recent court rulings questioning the constitutionality of current laws regarding cannabis possession," the study said.

The drop in cannabis charges in 2003 contributed to an overall 8-per-cent drop in drug prosecutions in Canada, the first such decline since 1993.

August 1- UK's The Observer reports: The US has blamed Britain's 'lack of urgency' for its failure to arrest the booming opium trade in Afghanistan, exposing a schism between the allies as the country trembles on the brink of anarchy.

As a record opium harvest fuels the supply of heroin to Britain's streets, the US embassy in Kabul has revealed policy clashes which undermined Tony Blair's pledge to end Afghan poppy cultivation.

'You guys are here because you have a war on drugs,' one US official told The Observer. 'Less than 5 per cent of all opiates in North America come from Afghanistan; I'm here because we have a war on terror. It does produce slightly different emphases. Britain will achieve the results they want in 10 years and that's fast enough for them. We will achieve the result we want only if we do it more quickly.'

Responding to Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell's wish that drugs barons and traffickers be jailed before October's presidential election, the official said: 'Britain's attitude is a little naive. I can name several Afghan government ministers and regional warlords absolutely up to their necks in drugs money. I would not bet on any high profile arrests before the election.'

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson .