DRUG WAR BRIEFS:Feds' Marijuana Inferior

May 15- After waiting years for approval to do research on marijuanas medicinal properties, researchers in San Mateo, CA, report that the federal governments marijuana supply, grown at the University of Mississippi, is of inferior quality.

Associated Press reports: In the world of high-grade marijuana, sticks, seeds and stems are not welcome ingredients. Medical marijuana researchers said they found such cannabis chaff among pot from a government farm, and say their patients deserve kinder buds.

The government-grown marijuana is being provided to San Mateo County for the first publicly funded analysis of HIV patients smoking the drug at home. But some of the patients and medical marijuana advocacy groups say the Mississippi-grown weed is weak.

"It's unconscionable that they would be giving this marijuana to patients," said Dale Gieringer, state coordinator for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "It's stale, low-potency ditch weed."

May 16- The North Carolina Free Press reports: More than 60 South Lenoir High School seniors have signed a petition to allow a fellow student who was expelled from school to participate in their graduation ceremony.

Nicholas Russell, 18, was suspended from school Jan. 11 after Lenoir County Sheriff's deputies found a small bag of marijuana in his car, parked at South Lenoir. He was later expelled.

Russell was charged with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor, but never jailed.

South Lenoir Principal Bobby Davis said he's doing what he feels is right by not letting Russell take part in the ceremony. "When a situation comes up, you have to make a judgment," Davis said. "I'm doing what I think will benefit those students here now and in the future."

May 17- The Associated Press reports: The city (Santa Cruz, CA) has decided to install needle disposal boxes in a dozen public restrooms to promote safety after several city employees were pricked by dirty needles.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to install the padlocked steel boxes at popular sites such as the beach and wharf areas. The syringes will be picked up by workers from the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange and taken to the county, where they will be sterilized and destroyed at a licensed facility.

"This means people understand it's a public health issue and nothing more," said Heather Edney, executive director of the Needle Exchange. "It's not about morality. It's not about whether people should or should not use drugs."

May 18- The (SC) State reports: A former program director at the state's substance abuse agency on Friday was charged with embezzling more than $48,500 from the department during an almost two-year period.

Agents from the State Law Enforcement Division arrested Katherine Yandle, 36, of 149 Greensprings Court, late Friday afternoon. Yandle is charged with 10 counts of forgery, embezzlement of public funds, obstructing justice and conspiracy. She was taken to the Richland County jail.

Yandle is charged with embezzling $48,789.77 from the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services between July 28, 2000, and March 13, 2002, according to arrest warrants. She also told witnesses to lie to agents investigating the case between April 22 and April 30, warrants state.

May 19- UKs Sunday Times reports: A report from the cross-party home affairs select committee, due on Wednesday, is widely expected to say cannabis should be downgraded from a class B to a class C drug. This would mean it remained illegal but possession of it would attract a caution or a fine rather than arrest.

The committee is also likely to suggest that ministers consider setting up "shooting galleries" where addicts can inject drugs under medical supervision in a safe, clean room.

The MPs will strongly endorse the Lambeth experiment where possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer an arrestable offence. David Blunkett, the home secretary, has already proposed the reclassification of cannabis and with the MPs' backing a change in the law is likely.

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

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