Drug war fun

? Satirical magazine, The Onion, had fun with US drug warriors in their most recent issue. Their intrepid reporter called up DARE, the Council on Drug Abuse, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, variously pretending to be a concerned parent who has been smoking up with his son, an employer who wants to take four ounces of flesh from his employees for drug testing, and a major drug dealer trying to get in touch with Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. The results are revealing and hilarious, and can be found online at the always amusing www.theonion.com.

? A lame attempt at anti-drug propaganda failed miserably in New York when a pencil emblazoned with the slogan “Too Cool to Do Drugs” was revealed to contain multiple messages. As the pencil was sharpened the slogan shortened to “Cool to Do Drugs” and eventually just “Do Drugs”.

? US officials have more access to Canadian legal records than Canadians. In January, The Calgary Sun reported on an unnamed Edmonton man who was rejected entry to the US because he was charged by RCMP over ten years ago with trafficking marijuana. The charges had been dropped, but US customs repeatedly stopped him for it anyways. At the most recent stop, US Customs asked him if he had ever used marijuana. The man answered that he had used it many years ago, but not currently. That was enough for US customs, the man was banned for life.

? The United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the European Space Agency are teaming up to use satellite surveillance to track and destroy the world’s supply of illegal plants.

UN Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, head of both the UNDCP and the UN Office for Crime Prevention, explained “We hope to use satellite imagery to collect very precise data on cultivation of narcotic crops.”

Arlacchi acknowledged that satellite surveillance was a politically sensitive issue, and claimed that all data would be shared by the nations being surveyed. “The UN will be co-owners of the data,” said Arlacchi.

? In November 1998, Alterna Applied Research Laboratories was forced by DARE America to remove their shampoo ads from more than 100 billboards and bus benches in and around Los Angeles. DARE was offended that the ads were for hemp shampoo, and applied pressure to the LA City Council, which ordered the ads eliminated.

The ads read simply “Hemp: THC (Drug) Free” with a picture of a hemp leaf and Alterna’s phone number. Alterna offered to give DARE an annual donation from proceeds of the shampoo, but DARE declined.

? A recent report from Sweden’s Crime Prevention Council has concluded that the Swedish version of the DARE program doesn’t work any better there than it does in the US. The Council examined the VAGA (a direct translation of DARE) educational program, and found that youths who had been indoctrinated in the course were just as likely to use illegal substances as those who had not.

“The involvement of the police in drug prevention programs should be limited to areas of their professional competence,” said the Director General of the Council. “Every year there are around 25,000 reported burglaries and thefts from schools and it’s here that the efforts of the police should be used.”

? Philippine President Joseph Estrada proclaimed in early February that his country should begin executing “drug users and traffickers,” because they are “destroying the future of our youth.”
The Philippine constitution abolished the death penalty in 1987, but in 1994 Congress restored the death penalty for murder, kidnapping, rape and drug trafficking.

? In December 1998, the US Supreme Court overturned an Iowa law allowing police to make searches of any vehicles stopped for minor traffic violations. The case involved a man whose car was found to contain marijuana during a random search made by police after the man was stopped for speeding.

? A judge has ordered a Michigan businessman to return to Virginia, where he must serve out a 10-year sentence for selling $10 worth of marijuana. Alfred Martin, now 49, received the sentence in 1974. After serving two days on a prison farm, Martin escaped and relocated to Michigan, where, in the words of the judge, he led “an exemplary life” and “was a credit to the state.”

? Iran’s Presidential representative on drug issues announced that executing drug smugglers is not the way to solve Iran’s drug problems. “Our 10-year experience shows that this has not been a solution,” said Mahmoud Tabatabai, in reference to Iran’s policy of executing anyone found in possession of over an ounce of heroin or five kilos of opium. Since 1989, Iran has executed almost 2000 people accused of drug dealing.