DRUG WAR BRIEFS: What Supreme Court Ruling?

Despite last month’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling, barring legal medical marijuana distribution, states continue to determine their own drug policy, as the world makes strides away from the drug war paradigm, both domestically and abroad.

June 4- (Sacramento, CA) The California State Senate votes 22-12 to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. The offense will now carry a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, with no criminal record.

The measure also bars state prosecution of doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients, and allows caregivers to cultivate marijuana cooperatively for medical purposes under the auspices of the state Department of Health Services.

June 5- (Florida) The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports: "Robert Randall of Sarasota, 53, the first person in the United States to receive legal, medical access to federal supplies of marijuana, has died at his home of AIDS-related complications."

There are now currently 7 remaining Americans receiving a monthly tin of 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes from the federal government, grown at the Federal Marijuana Research Facility at the University of Mississippi, as part of the "Compassionate Investigative New Drug" program, cancelled in 1991 by former-President Bush. The federal government has never collected data on the program, which has had participants for 25 years.

June 5- The New York Times reports a major policy shift in Nevada: State lawmakers voted today to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and relax penalties for possession of the drug. The Nevada Senate has already approved the bill, and it is expected to receive Governor Kenny Guinn's signature.

The bill would allow seriously ill Nevadans to have up to seven marijuana plants for personal use. In addition, a person with an ounce or less of marijuana could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $600.

Under current Nevada law, possession of any amount of marijuana can result in felony charges leading to prison terms of one to four years.

June 6- (Israel) The Jerusalem Post reports: A doctoral student at the Hebrew University's School of Pharmacy in Jerusalem has discovered that a substance taken from the hallucinatory drug (marijuana) can be effective as an anti-inflammatory drug for rheumatoid arthritis.

For her work with hashish as a therapeutic agent, Susanna Tchilibon - a 32-year-old immigrant from Milan - has been named a winner of one of this year's Kaye Prizes for Innovations and Inventions at the university.

June 7- (Mexico City, Mexico)- La Jornada reports: Gary Johnson, the conservative Republican governor of New Mexico, reiterated his call in favor of the legalization of illicit drugs in (Mexico) and suggested that President Vicente Fox and the governors of border states ought to consider an alternative policy to "the war on drugs" that includes decriminalization to reduce the social costs of the problem.

In an exclusive interview with La Jornada shortly before the annual meeting of the governors of U.S. and Mexican border states this week in Tampico, Governor Johnson said that he has already spoken with various Mexican political leaders about his legalization ideas and that in the next meeting he will propose various concrete initiatives to change the focus of the war on drugs along the border.

"Our goals?" Johnson indicated, "They ought to be to reduce death, illness and crime related with drugs. Nobody disagrees with that and we can discuss a different method so that later, and together, Mexico and the United States will see this problem as public health matter, and not as a police issue."

June 7- Canada’s National Post newspaper reports on a new development in Venlo, The Netherlands: In a bid to keep German "drug tourists" and the street dealers who serve them out of its downtown area, Venlo is considering opening two drive-throughs where adults can buy cannabis, hashish and marijuana from their cars before heading back across the border.

By putting the drive-throughs on the edge of town, nearer the border, Venlo's officials hope to persuade drug tourists to "shop 'n' go," undermining the downtown drug market.

Soft drugs are already available at 1,500 licensed coffee shops across the Netherlands.

Kevin Nelson can be reached at kcnelson@premier1.net


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