DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Who supports terrorism?

February 26 - WorldNetDaily reports: A full-page ad appearing in two major newspapers (USA Today and the Washington Times) and sponsored by the Libertarian Party accuses the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy of supporting terrorism by fighting its "war on drugs."

The LP ad features a full-length photo of Bush administration drug czar John Walters, with the following caption: "This week, I had lunch with the president, testified before Congress and helped funnel $40 million in illegal drug money to groups like the Taliban. The war on drugs boosts the price of illegal drugs by as much as 17,000 percent funneling huge profits to terrorist organizations. If you support the war on drugs or vote for the politicians who wage it, you're helping support terrorism."

February 27 - Australia's The Age reports: Some European Union countries are "undermining international law" by relaxing rules against cannabis, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said today.

INCB officials rapped Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain for decriminalising the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, in the board's annual report published in Vienna today.

And it slammed the Netherlands, where cannabis is on sale for recreational use in coffee-shops, as well as draft Swiss legislation, which it sees as a move towards legalising cannabis, for breaching UN conventions.

The trend towards a more liberal attitude to cannabis and its legislation "undermines international law", INCB President Hamid Ghodse told a press conference.

Ghodse listed the health risks cannabis causes, which include madness, cancer, and damage to a number of organs in the body.

"All efforts to control the world drug problem will fail unless there is universal commitment and true implementation of the provisions of the treaties," the report said.

To change the convention the countries would have to offer the World Health Organisation evidence that cannabis was not harmful so that it would be removed from its list of controlled drugs, officials explained.

March 2 - Vermont's Times Argus reports: A House committee has approved a bill that would decriminalize growing, possessing and using marijuana for patients suffering from certain medical conditions if they obtain a doctor's note. By a 5-4 vote, the House Judiciary Committee Friday passed H645, which allows marijuana use under strictly regulated conditions.

"This is a tremendous victory for patients suffering from serious illnesses," said Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, the bill's chief supporter. "We're one step closer to ensuring that patients won't face arrest and imprisonment for the simple act of taking their medicine."

March 4 - Oregon's Register-Guard reports: Mohammad Gul, tattered shoes planted in the mud, will keep a close watch on his two little acres in the coming weeks, waiting for the buds to bloom. He won't be alone.

Five hundred miles up, racing silently through space, U.S. reconnaissance satellites will be watching, too, camera eyes cocked for the first signs of vivid red, the flowering of opium poppies.

Here on the edge of Afghanistan's Desert of Death and on east and north across this deeply poor land, the deadly narcotic is again the raw material of life and livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people.

"All my land is in poppy. I've grown it for 30 years," Mohammad Gul said. "Every year except one."

That one was last year, when the Taliban, the Muslim zealots who ruled most of Afghanistan, banned poppy growing as un-Islamic.

Now the Taliban have been scattered to the harsh Afghan hills, ousted from power in a lightning-fast, U.S.-led war, and the United States and its allies, including the new Afghan regime of Hamid Karzai, have inherited the dilemmas of the land of poppy.

Mohammad Gul, who sowed his seeds as he saw the old regime fall, is thankful.

"We hear that this government's a good one, not cruel like the Taliban," he told a visitor. "They banned our poppy. I don't think this new government will come and tear up our crops."

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

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