Marijuana vs. Alcohol

This week, Montel Williams admits smoking pot daily to cope with multiple sclerosis; a South Carolina narcotics officer killed in a single-car accident had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit; the mayor of Vancouver calls for legalization; and International Marijuana Day is shut down in Tel Aviv.

May 6- The Houston Chronicle reports: Montel Williams threw his support behind legalizing medical marijuana in New York, saying pot helps him cope with multiple sclerosis. Williams, who was diagnosed with the neurological disease in 1999, said he uses marijuana every night before bed to relieve the pain in his legs and feet. "I'm breaking the law every day, and I will continue to break the law," Williams, host of the syndicated Montel Williams Show, said Tuesday.

May 8- The Charlotte (NC) Observer reports: An on-duty Richland County undercover officer killed in a single-car accident last fall had an alcohol level more than twice the state's legal limit and was speeding, a Highway Patrol investigation found. Donnie R. Washington's blood alcohol content was 0.18 percent when he lost control of his sport utility vehicle on Oct. 16, the patrol said in a Dec. 10 report obtained by The State newspaper. The state's blood-alcohol limit is 0.08 percent.

Narcotics officers are allowed to drink on duty to preserve their undercover roles, but Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday that Washington used bad judgment by drinking too much and driving.

May 9- CTV (Canada Web) reports: Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell has weighed in on the marijuana debate, and left no doubt where he stands.

Speaking at a conference on legalizing pot Saturday, Campbell said he supports the plan but added it pot were available legally, he would "tax the hell out of it." Campbell said every tax dollar would go to health care, noting that without the pot industry, British Columbia would be in a recession.

If pot ever is legalized, don't expect Campbell to spark up. "In fact, I've never even smoked marijuana," the mayor told the conference. "My biggest fear is that I may like it more than cabernet, and then what the hell am I going to do?"

Campbell says it's time to take the marijuana industry out of criminals' hands. "What I do want is to stop seeing people go to jail. I want to stop seeing the waste of resources, our resources, taxpayers' resources," he explained.

May 9- The Jerusalem Post reports: Uniformed and undercover police officers on Saturday shut down the International Marijuana Day event at HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv after detaining 30 participants, including three minors, for suspected use and possession of marijuana.

Boaz Wachtel, an organizer of the event and head of the "Green Leaf" political party was among those detained for questioning.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., about four hours after the event began, police swarmed upon the sound system and shut it off as partygoers were dancing to Peter Tosh's reggae classic "Legalize It." A large crowd gathered around the police, with many shouting "Police state" and "Fascists."

Although tensions were high, except for a few shoves, violence was averted. A police photographer and videographer were on hand keeping their cameras focused on the more vocal protesters.

"I came to the conclusion that this was a drug party and violation of the law won't be tolerated. After thirty people were arrested for using drugs, it was decided to close down the event," said Brigadier General Aaron Ezra of the Tel Aviv police.

The event, which has been held without disruption for the past six years, had a substantial higher profile this year due to the first time participation of a member of the Knesset. But police shut down the event just 15 minutes before MK Roman Bronfman (Meretz) was scheduled to deliver a speech.

"From my standpoint, today's event is legal, after the high court rejected a petition (to ban the event) and after the city of Tel Aviv gave authorization for the event to be held," Bronfman told reporters at the event. "I think the police were the ones who disturbed the peace.

"This happens at every party," said a 24-year-old Ramat Gan resident who identified himself as Dekel. "The police see people enjoying themselves and think this represents all the problems in the state, so they try to stop the enjoyment of all the people here who are trying to show that this is a progressive country and not a country like Iran."

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson.

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