Microsoft millionaire backs pot
A Seattle ballot initiative to permit pot to be sold in liquor stores got major financial backing from an ex-Microsoft programmer. Bruce McKinney, who left Microsoft two years ago, donated $100,000 to the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), sponsor of Initiative 229.
For the initiative to be put on the November 2000 ballot, 180,000 signatures need to be gathered by December 31. McKinnley’s donation allows the CRRH to hire paid canvassers, and he said he would probably donate more if needed.
“I believe prohibition causes serious damage to the health of our state and our nation,” explained McKinney, who also said he occasionally smokes pot.
NM Governor anti-drug-war
New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson continues his call for an end to the drug war. In a recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Johnson said “Personally, I have a fundamental problem with putting people in jail for drug use.”
Johnson confessed that he hadn’t raised the issue during his 1994 and 1998 campaigns because he “didn’t have the guts.” But since he is not running again in 2002 he feels free to speak his mind.
He explained that his campaign managers had been afraid he would divulge his drug-policy views during election interviews. “There was this fear, knowing that if asked the right question during the campaign that I was going to answer it,” said Johnson.
Despite his views, Johnson isn’t going to make changes to state drug law, saying “the drug discussion really is national.”
Johnson said that although “there is absolutely zero political support,” 98% of the emails and letters he received were positive.
Choppers target BC bud
In late August, military helicopters once again swept over British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, doing search and destroy operations against the region’s pot crops.
For twelve days, two military and two police choppers with about 40 cops and soldiers buzzed over homes and parks, dropping drug warriors into gardens to engage the plants in hand-to-hand combat.
A spokesman claimed they had destroyed over 5,000 plants. The cost of the operation is estimated at over $1 million. No arrests were made.
DARE doesn’t work
A University of Kentucky study has shown that the infamous Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is a failure which has no impact on later behaviour. The DARE program, founded by former LA police chief Daryl Gates (who also pioneered SWAT teams), is a multi-million dollar enterprise based upon police officers going into schools to frighten students into “staying away from drugs.”
The study, printed in the August issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found children who took the 17-week DARE course used drugs and alcohol at the same rate ten years later as children who learned about them in normal health classes.
DARE president Glenn Levant claimed the study was part of an anti-DARE vendetta by therapists, and argued that any deficiencies in the program could be ameliorated by starting it with younger children and continuing it later in life.
US considers blacklisting Canada
The US State Department’s Narcotics and Law Enforcement Division considered adding Canada to their list of “drug trafficking and producing countries”, according to an August 14 story in the Globe and Mail. The story cited unnamed sources describing how Mexico, added to the list in 1998, was pushing for Canada to be added as well.
The list already includes 28 nations, including China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan and many Latin American countries. Countries on the list face a variety of sanctions, including denial of US-sponsored financing programs.
English pot-protest crackdown
On August 15, over 30 people where arrested for simple possession at a pro-pot rally in Hampshire, England. Another 10 were arrested on the same day at the sixth Smokey Bear’s Picnic in Portsmouth.
“People were being dragged off the common and bundled into vans,” said an eyewitness at the Hampshire event. One protestor filmed an officer saying “Can you get another vanload down here? Get it totally in their face.”
Senior police officials called the mass arrests “a change in tactics” against drug-law reform campaigners.
At this year’s May 1 Million Marijuana March about 8,000 people marched through South London without any arrests being made. About 12,000 marched for pot from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square last year, also without incident.
On the same day as the above police crackdown, the leader of the Liberal Democrats called for the creation of a Royal Commission to decide if pot should be legalized. Their spokesman said “There are inconsistencies and obvious failings in current drugs policy.?It is not working.”
NY cops pee-test dilemma
New York City cops are aggravated by a new drug-test policy which asks them to “carefully examine” all the food they eat to ensure that they don’t contain hemp seeds, or anything else which might provide a false positive on a urine test.
In recent cases in the US Air Force and Army, including one in the New York police force, officers charged with failing a pot pee-test have successfully claimed that the result was a false positive from eating hemp seeds or hemp seed oil.
The new policy only specifically mentions hemp oil, but it also broadly bans the consumption of anything else which might provide a false positive, which is assumed to include poppy seeds, certain cough drops, and other products.
The police union denounced the policy, saying that “to expect police officers to read a list of ingredients on a bag of snack food… is to ask the impossible.”
NBA to test for pot
The National Basketball Association has announced that it will begin testing players for marijuana use, even though cannabis is not considered a performance enhancing drug.
Players have to face one test during training camp, but they can only be tested during the season if an arbitrator decides there’s reasonable cause to believe the player possessed prohibited substances. Rookies also face four random tests a season.
A first positive pot test means the player must enter a counselling program, the second brings a $15,000 fine, and a third or subsequent positive test means a five-game suspension. Penalties for positive tests for heroin, cocaine or steroids are more severe.
In July, the New York Times reported that 70% of NBA players smoke pot, and cited a witness who saw four Detroit Pistons smoking up during the playoffs. Many NBA players, including Mookie Blaylock, Chris Webber, Vernon Maxwell and JR?Rider have been arrested on various pot charges.
No-one has mentioned how it is that world-class athletes are able to smoke pot and still compete at the highest levels of athletic ability. Perhaps for some players, marijuana truly does enhance performance.
Book banned from Brit TV
British television’s Channel 5 has refused to run late-night ads for a book called The Truth About Drugs. The book was written by Mike Rock while he was in jail for manufacturing LSD (a charge he denies).
The book provides hysteria-free facts about heroin, cocaine, anabolic steroids and barbiturates.?Endorsed substances are illustrated with a grinning Ecstasy motif, dangers get the frown.
In an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Rock, 48, explained how the book was written through interviews with a wide variety of imprisoned drug users. “I came to the conclusion that prohibition outlaws the substances which increase creativity, and endorses those which make us dull and passive, such as alcohol and prescription tranquilizers.”
Rock self-published the book after selling eight pages of ads to sympathetic companies like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. After a slow start the book was picked up by Virgin and Tower Records, and over 23,000 copies have been distributed.
Channel 5, known as the “sex & soccer station”, claimed that running ads for the book might encourage youth to break the law.
Scottish Bishop for drug reform
The head of Scotland’s Anglican Church has called for young people to be taught to use marijuana responsibly, and for heroin to be available by prescription.
The Reverend Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh, said there is an irrational prejudice against certain drugs.
“Older people see no problem with their preferred drugs, tobacco and alcohol,” explained the Bishop, “while our young people have normalised the use of hash.”
Bishop Holloway, who says he’s smoked pot himself, asked “What gives our society the power to say that this vegetable is bad and this one is not?”
“We need to get out of ourselves from time to time,” said the Bishop, explaining that many religions induce a “state of ecstasy” through drugs, chanting, dancing and fasting.