DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Cry Me A River

April 30- The (Ohio) Blade reports: As head of the local D.A.R.E. program, Debra Pittman has been teaching Henry County school children to say no to drugs and alcohol.

Now, the longtime sheriff's deputy is in trouble with the law, allegedly for driving drunk while she was off duty.

Ms. Pittman, 42, of Napoleon, a county sheriff's deputy for nearly 25 years, was arrested about 1:18 a.m. Friday by Ohio Highway Patrol troopers in Defiance.

She was charged with driving under the influence after she was stopped on County Road L at State Rt. 65 near her home in rural Henry County. She also was cited for not wearing her seat belt and having a broken taillight.

May 1- The New York Times reports: Gov. Jeb Bush cried today at a drug conference as he thanked audience members for their support while he and his wife dealt with the drug-related arrest of their daughter.

Facing about 400 drug counselors, program directors and law enforcement officials, Mr. Bush said the aftermath of the Jan. 29 arrest of his daughter Noelle, 24, on charges she tried to use a false prescription to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, had been "tough personally."

"I want to thank you, on behalf of my wife, for your prayers and for your quiet counseling in the last few months about our daughter Noelle," the governor said.

He paused. "I knew I was going to do this," he said, his voice cracking.

May 3-Associated Press reports: Before becoming House speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert told Colombian military officers that he was "sick and tired" of human rights considerations controlling U.S. anti-drug aid, according to a newly declassified government document.

At the time, the Clinton administration was pushing Colombia to improve its human rights performance as a condition of receiving U.S. aid.

Colombia's paramilitary units, whom the United States describes as terrorists, are blamed for most of the country's massacres. The military's historic link to paramilitaries is a major reason U.S. lawmakers have been reluctant to expand U.S. aid.

Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, then chairman of the government reform national security subcommittee, denounced tying aid to human rights performance when he met with Colombian police and military officials in 1997, the cable said.

May 3- The Toronto Star reports: Efforts to prevent marijuana use are having little impact, and young Canadians are smoking up in greater numbers than ever, a Senate report says. An estimated 30 to 50 per cent of people 15 to 24 years old have used cannabis despite its illegality, the report, released Thursday by the Senate committee on illegal drugs, says.

"When you examine cannabis usage among youth, you realize that public policy has absolutely no effect," Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, committee chairman, told a news conference. "The psychology of adolescents seems to take no account of the rules of law."

After studying the pros and cons of pot use for 14 months, the committee also concludes that scientific evidence suggests marijuana isn't a so-called gateway drug that leads to the use of harder drugs.

Other findings in the paper, based on extensive hearings and research over the past year:

- - Cannabis is a psychoactive substance and it's better not to use it. It may have some negative effects on the health of individuals, but considering the patterns of use, these effects are relatively benign.

- - Pharmacological studies of cannabis have not found any element that predisposes users to more potent drugs.

- - Pot doesn't increase aggressiveness or anti-social behaviour, nor induce users to commit crimes.

- - Definitive conclusions can't be drawn from available evidence about how cannabis affects driving abilities, although it may lead to increased risk at high doses or combined with alcohol.

- - Cannabis use doesn't hurt academic performance.

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

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