DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Czar In The News

October 14- The Washington Times reports: National drug czar John Walters' vocal opposition to a Nevada referendum that would legalize possession of modest amounts of marijuana attracted criticism from the Las Vegas Review Journal Monday.

The newspaper's editorial writers chided Walters for making two personal appearances in the state to urge opposition to Question 9, a ballot measure that would allow adults in the Silver State to possess up to three ounces of marijuana.

"Nevadans are capable of acting like grown-ups and deciding whether we wish to maintain the current, Draconian set of penalties against the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana," the newspaper said. "We need no help from our 'betters' in Washington, D.C."

The Review Journal was critical of what it said was an extensive commitment of "a considerable amount of energy and money to defeating Question 9."

October 16- Montana's Billings Gazette reports: American officials caution they may be forced to drastically slow trade across the northern U.S. border if the Canadian government relaxes its marijuana laws.

The changes being considered by Prime Minister Jean Chretien's government would make the penalty for getting caught with a joint similar to a traffic ticket.

U.S. drug policy experts say decriminalizing marijuana in Canada will increase drug use in America and trafficking by organized crime elements on both sides of the border. Washington would respond with tighter border checks that could hinder trade crucial to the Canadian economy.

"We intend to protect our citizens. We would have no choice," said John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

October 16- The New York Times reports: Flanked by terminally ill people who told tales of unrelenting pain, Tom Golisano today endorsed the medical use of marijuana, and lashed out at Gov. George E. Pataki for blocking a state program to provide the drug to patients.

"My approach to this issue is to return the discretion to the doctors, who are trained to make these decisions," said Mr. Golisano, the Independence Party candidate for governor. He charged that Mr. Pataki was opposed "because he is in the pocket of the big drug companies who stand to lose money if medical marijuana is made available."

Mr. Pataki's administration, like that of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, has refused to put into effect a 1980 law letting severely sick people use marijuana, subject to a prescription and approval by a state board.

H. Carl McCall, the Democratic candidate, like Mr. Golisano, says he would activate the state program.

In the past, aides to Mr. Pataki, a Republican, have flatly said he opposes medical marijuana.

October 18- The New York Times reports: Inside the blackened shell of a home at 1401 East Preston Street is one of the saddest stories a city can tell.

It begins with Angela Dawson, a neighborhood crusader and mother of six, taking a stand against drugs.

It ends with Mrs. Dawson and her five youngest children burning to death in an engulfed bedroom and a young man from down the street in jail.

For her work fighting crime and tipping off the police, Mrs. Dawson, 36, and her family were killed Wednesday morning by a drug pusher who set their home on fire, the authorities said. Mrs. Dawson's husband narrowly escaped, at least for now. The Dawsons had been threatened many times, and two weeks ago a firebomb was tossed through their window.

October 18-Oregon's Register-Guard reports: Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter was sentenced to 10 days in jail and led away in handcuffs Thursday after being accused of having crack cocaine in her shoe while in drug rehab.

Noelle Bush, 25, kissed her aunt Dorothy Koch as a sheriff's deputy cuffed her behind the back. Koch is the sister of President Bush and the governor, who was not in court.

In a statement, the governor said he realizes his daughter must face the consequences of her actions.

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

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