DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Operation Lost Honor

August 27- The FBI investigates the biggest police corruption case in history, in the "fifty-first state" of Puerto Rico. The Boston Herald reports: In Operation Lost Honor, 29 officers and three others are accused of using their weapons and sometimes their patrol cars to transport and protect cocaine shipments.

Many shudder to think how many more of the department's 19,000 police officers could fall once the accused start to talk.

"This is a dramatic situation that has shaken the very foundations of the police, and it's demoralizing," said Lieutenant Nelson Echevarria, president of the Puerto Rican Police Federation. "This causes a psychological damage that we can't really measure."

Officials estimate that 43 percent of the cocaine that gets to the United States passes through Puerto Rico.

August 27- The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports: Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson said on Monday that he found the arguments for decriminalizing the private use of ganja, the local term for marijuana or cannabis, to be "persuasive."

A commission of inquiry in Jamaica has recommended decriminalizing ganja for private use for adults, for medicinal purposes or as a religious sacrament.

The United States, the main source of visitors for Jamaica's tourist industry, is expected to oppose decriminalization.

August 29- The Dallas Morning News reports: Long dismissed as the stuff of dope smokers' fantasies, the idea of decriminalizing the production and use of drugs appears to be winning support across Colombia, prompted in part by a U.S.-backed attack on the nation's illicit drug crops.

"The problem is that the law of the marketplace is overtaking the law of the state. We have to ask, is legalization a way out of this?" former President Ernesto Samper said in an interview. "We cannot continue to fight this war alone. If the consuming nations do nothing to curb demand, to control money laundering, to halt the flow of chemicals that supply the drug-production labs, then in a few short years, the world is going to see legalization as the answer."

A bipartisan group of legislators introduced bills in Colombia's congress this month on the themes of legalization and decriminalization. The legislators said part of their motivation is the harsh public reaction in Colombia to an intensified herbicide-spraying campaign, funded by the United States, to eradicate hundreds of thousands of acres of drug crops.

U.S. officials have made clear they oppose any move to decriminalize drug production.

August 29- ABC News 20/20 Downtown features a comparison of U.S. and Dutch drug policy, with an accompanying online interactive poll, asking "SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED?" 78% respond YES.

August 31- The Las Vegas Review Journal reports: A state-run medical marijuana program allowing physician-approved patients to grow and use the drug will begin Oct. 1 after unanimous approval of regulations by the Board of Agriculture. Nevada is the ninth state to offer a medical marijuana program.

September 1- The Evansville Courier reports: Indiana's prison population is growing faster than the nation's at a time when budget troubles have left state officials scrambling for money to deal with the growth.

State records show the proportion of adult inmates in Indiana's 24 prisons whose most serious offenses were drug-related is rising, while the proportion held on violent crimes is dropping.

September 2- UK’s Express on Sunday reports: Most people want criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis to be scrapped. And an overwhelming majority believe smoking tobacco is more harmful, our exclusive NOP poll shows.

In the poll of 1,000 people aged 15 and over, 58 per cent opposed criminal penalties for cannabis possession, with four out of five saying long-term tobacco use did more damage to health than smoking cannabis.

Support for decriminalisation is especially strong among those under 34, with more than two-thirds in favour.

At present those found in possession face a maximum of five years in jail.

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

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