DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Marijuana, Life and Death

September 3- BBC News reports: Results from Britain's first clinical trial of cannabis as a medicine show that it has a dramatic impact on controlling patients' pain.

Some individuals who were suffering chronic pain reported that cannabis had changed their lives, said consultant anesthetist William Notcutt, of James Paget Hospital, Norfolk. "Several patients experienced a dramatic improvement in the pain they were experiencing," he said. "We've had some patients say: 'This is brilliant, it stopped my pain in its tracks'."

Dr. Notcutt is studying the effects of the drug on chronic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal injuries.

September 4- The LA Times reports: A Belarussian court convicted a U.S. citizen on drug charges and sentenced him to five years of hard labor in a prison camp.

Charles Perriello, who worked on U.S. government-funded projects to promote freedom to schoolchildren, had pleaded guilty to charges of possessing and smoking marijuana. But he denied charges of selling drugs to others. He was convicted on all counts.

Perriello, 40, of New York, was arrested in June by the Belarussian secret service, still known as the KGB.

September 4- Two prominent Michigan marijuana law reform activists are shot dead, following a week-long standoff at the activists' 34-acre "Rainbow Farm" compound in Vandalia, Michigan. The confrontation followed a 2-year investigation into allegations of marijuana use at the campground.

Tom Crosslin, 47, was killed by federal and state police on Monday. Rolland Rohm, 28, was killed Tuesday morning. Agencies involved in the fatal siege include the Cass County Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police and the FBI.

In May, Crosslin was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana, maintaining a drug house and felony firearms charges. Authorities from the Michigan Family Independence Agency removed the 13-year-old son whom Crosslin and Rohm had raised for the past 11 years, placing him in protective custody. The state then began forfeiture proceedings on Rohm’s property. He was released on bond but told not to hold any more festivals.

Crosslin eventually held a festival in mid-August. The prosecutor wanted his bond revoked and a court date was set. When Crosslin and Rohm failed to show up, the standoff began.

Police claim that each man was shot as he emerged from their home and leveled a gun at an FBI agent.

September 8- Thirteen current and former Miami police officers were accused by U.S. authorities Friday of shooting unarmed people and then conspiring to cover it up by planting evidence. The indictment is just the latest scandal for this city's trouble-plagued police force.

The LA Times reports: On four separate occasions, federal prosecutors said, Miami officers performed "throw downs" -- in which they placed guns at crime scenes to justify shootings. And after firing 37 rounds that killed two purse-snatching suspects near a downtown expressway ramp in 1995, the officers involved allegedly met for lunch at a barbecue restaurant to get their stories straight. U.S. Atty. Guy A. Lewis said Antonio Young and Derrick Wiltshire, the men killed by police, were not armed.

"These [13] officers planted weapons. They lied about their role in shootings," Lewis said Friday. "They lied about what they saw. They falsified reports. They tampered with crime scenes. They stole property."

All of those charged were veterans assigned to SWAT teams, narcotics units or special crime-suppression teams in the late 1990s. On March 12, 1996, a SWAT team, which included four of the officers now under indictment, raided the home of 73-year-old Richard Brown in response to reports of a drug sale. The officers blasted the tiny two-room home with 123 bullets, eight of which hit Brown. [No drugs were found in Brown’s home.]

The officers claimed that Brown had fired first and that he still had a gun in his right hand when he died. But Lewis said the weapon was a plant and the officers' statements were lies.

Send tips or comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net
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