Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
Join us on Pete's couch.
couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
June 2004



Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s call for investigation into mandatory minimums bears fruit

In the Chicago Tribune: ABA urges new look at sentencing:

Many get-tough approaches to crime don’t work and some, such as mandatory minimum sentences for small-time drug offenders, are unfair and should be abolished, a report from the American Bar Association said Wednesday.

Laws requiring mandatory minimum prison terms leave little room to consider differences […]

Student Drug Testing – not the same as TB tests

A bill in California has bi-partisan support and would ban universal random drug testing of students, and only allow drug testing if administrators have “reasonable suspicions.” A companion bill would allow for testing of athletes specifically for performance enhancing drugs. Naturally, this reasonable approach doesn’t sit well with the Drug Czar’s office, which is trying […]

A Tale of Two Wars on Drugs

Dusty Nix in the Ledger Enquirer (GA)

Consider two “drug wars” — one a highly and expensively hyped crusade, the other quieter; but both of tremendous social, economic, legal and cultural significance over the last few decades.

One, waged principally against opiates, cannabis and cocaine by state and federal governments for more than 20 years, has cost billions, perhaps trillions of dollars in taxpayer money; taxed the resources of already overworked law enforcement agencies; sustained a criminal empire the size and riches of which would dwarf the booze kingpins of the 1920s and ’30s; created, with the help of “mandatory sentencing” politics, an unprecedented corrections crisis by stuffing prisons to bursting with drug offenders; and provided the dubious rationale for abrogating the Bill of Rights to an extent even the Patriot Act hasn’t approached. And even the front-line troops in this war have acknowledged it’s a losing campaign.

“Drug war” No. 2, which hasn’t generated nearly as much attention — which, in fact, few people have thought of as a “drug war” at all — has involved relatively little public money, no prison space, little or no effort on the part of law enforcement. Nobody’s been randomly summoned away from a desk or work site to urinate into a cup. And it has been waged against a drug that every year claims more lives than all illegal substances combined.

But the vast differences in expense and approach aren’t the most dramatic distinction here. The biggest difference is that one of them has worked.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported last week that smoking among American teens is at its lowest level in almost 30 years.

This is a point that more people need to notice. The editorial is a strong one, and ends:

So providing people with education and information has proven dramatically effective in curbing use of a drug some experts have said is as addictive as heroin; while draconian laws and sentences and self-incrimination policies have created more problems than they have solved.

Surely there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Brazil to shoot down drug planes

From BBC News:

Brazil is close to adopting a plan to shoot down aircraft suspected of carrying narcotics over the Amazon jungle, the government has said.

Colombia and Peru called a halt to the controversial practice in 2001 after the Peruvian air force mistakenly shot down a plane carrying missionaries.

… Colombia resumed shooting down suspected drug trafficking planes in 2003 and has shot down almost a dozen planes this year alone with intelligence assistance from Washington, AP news agency reported.

Peru is seeking to restart the policy.

Why can’t we force planes down, or, failing that, use our technology to follow them, and arrest them after they land?
Perhaps the better question is… “Why do we continue policies that make smuggling so profitable that they’re willing to chance being shot down?”

Sue ’em for False Advertising

Reported in Now Magazine

Our friendly neighbourhood pot promoters, Canadians for Safe Access ( CSA ), are calling for an immediate moratorium on the distribution of medical pot after independent testing of the feds’ bud revealed that THC levels are nowhere near the 10.2 per cent claimed by Health Canada.

According to two tests conducted […]

THC Delays Progression of Lou Gehrig’s Disease


Seattle, WA: The administration of the cannabinoid THC in mice delayed disease progression of an animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to clinical findings published in the journal Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Other Motor Neuron Disorders. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a chronic, often fatal condition marked by […]

One lady who won’t sit down and die.

Suing The Reaper by Dean Kuipers in Los Angeles City Beat
The story of a South L.A.Sickle-Cell Patient Had To Sue The LAPD To Stop Pulling Up Her Legal Pot Harvest.

Kambui, who relies on marijuana to combat debilitating pain from sickle-cell anemia, was in tears.

Then her eyes fixed on someone who turned her sorrow to rage: accompanying the federal agents was LAPD Detective Steve McArthur.

McArthur had busted Kambui at least four previous autumns, and each time there had either been no charges filed or, most important, she’d been acquitted and her grow operation approved under California’s 1996 Compassionate Use Act, better known as Proposition 215. Unable to get an indictment under state law, McArthur had brought in the feds, whose warrant was based solely on his testimony. After two hours of questioning, the DEA set Kambui free, and one of the agents even gave her a hug.

Kambui, however, had had enough of Detective McArthur. She filed a civil suit against McArthur, the LAPD, the City of Los Angeles, and “John Does 1-50” in January, backed by an increasingly effective medical cannabis advocacy group, Bay Area-based Americans for Safe Access.

This case is particularly important to Kambui, who was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia at age 19 when she was in the U.S. Air Force. The fatal malady is usually treated with morphine and many patients die from a morphine overdose. Kambui uses marijuana, cooked into teas, tinctures and foods.

“This kind of shows you how ass-backwards all this is,” says Elford [Kambui’s attorney]. “In the name of the drug war, they’re trying to require someone to take much more serious narcotics than relatively harmless marijuana. And in this case, not just much more serious narcotics in terms of toxicity and addictiveness, but in this case, narcotics that are actually extremely harmful to the person prescribed them.”