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 2005



No amendment to cut federal drug testing dollars after all

The action alert I gave yesterday has been rendered unnecessary, as the amendment has been withdrawn. Here’s a report from SSDP’s legislative director Ross Wilson:

Today, we witnessed the frustrating nature of politics in Congress and how good policy proposals can get brushed aside in the name expedience. Nonetheless, we took some important steps forward […]

Sativex futures

An article in the National Post, mostly discussing GW Pharmaceutical’s stock prospects (and it’s poor cash position) concluded with some interesting points about the future of the liquid form of marijuana called Sativex¨.

But Evolution Securities’ Mr. Senior said there are numerous ways to raise funds, including a standard equity fund-raising, convertible debt or a loan from Bayer against future royalties. He said there is a 90% chance Sativex will be approved in the U.K. within 12 months, thus paving the way for European approval.

Approval in the U.S. is still at least three years away, he said, but Health Canada’s decision should put some pressure on American authorities. Sativex will inevitably find its way into the U.S. illegally, which may prompt authorities to explore the issue of medicinal cannabis.

“We continue believe it is a case of ‘when rather than if” Sativex will be approved,” he said.


Drug Czar’s numbers called “funny math”

It’s nice to see that the Drug Czar is not always getting a free ride when it comes to the crap he calls “data” coming out of his office.
The latest: Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) have asked the General Accounting Office to double-check the administration’s cocaine-production estimates.
There is so much conflicting data coming out, with the Drug Czar claiming that cocaine production has dropped by 30 percent of the past three years.

But some American counternarcotics officials and drug-trade analysts call such triumphal pronouncements misleading.

A U.S. government task force, they note, estimated that cartels last year produced more than twice the amount of cocaine claimed by the White House. A report released last week by the United Nations maintained that cocaine output is actually on the rise.

The debate over drug numbers matters because Congress uses the White House figures as a measuring stick when determining the best way to spend nearly $1 billion annually in counternarcotics programs in South America. […]
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced in March that cocaine production last year in the three Andean nations totaled 640 metric tons, down from 900 metric tons in 2001.

Touting these numbers at a recent congressional hearing on Colombia ÷ which provides 90 percent of the cocaine sold in the United States ÷ John Walters, the head of the White House drug office, said: “We are heading in the right direction, and we are winning.”

But the White House figures contradict other tallies and strike some as funny math.
According to the State Department, U.S. and Latin American security forces seized a record 373 metric tons of cocaine last year. Walters’ office thinks annual consumption of the narcotic in the United States alone is about 300 metric tons. Taken together, the two figures exceed the White House estimate of the total produced in 2004.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a U.S. official familiar with anti-drug operations insisted that South America “could easily be producing well over 800 metric tons of cocaine per year.”

(In the Houston Chronicle)
Maybe people will start noticing that there’s a whole lot of funny math coming out of that office.

Urgent Action Item

Via Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. Rep. Bobby Scott ( D-VA ) will introduce an amendment in the next day or two to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill to shift $10 million to the Department of Labor’s Reintegration of Youthful Offenders Program from the Department of Education’s Student Drug Testing program. Take away from a […]

Senator gets Hodgkin’s Disease, supports medical marijuana


Arlen Specter says he “may introduce legislation” in the Senate in favor of medical marijuana.

The U.S. senator, who has long supported the use of human stem cells for disease research, told Your Humble Narrator yesterday that he’s in favor of a state’s right to decide whether to allow its doctors to prescribe marijuana.


Illiterate Voices

Our good friends at Educating Voices are at it again. These are the folks (led by Judy Kreamer of Naperville, Illinois) who helped Andrea Barthwell lie about sponsorships for the Illinois Marijuana Lectures. Earlier today, they had a “scoop” at their website. In bold font and in two places they proclaimed that:

“Federation Of State […]

The mess of the drug war

Loretta at US Marijuana Party blog has pieces of a horrific story involving the trial of a man accused of killing three cops in the process of a drug bust. There have been charges that the bust happened because payments to the police officers for protection had stopped, and there are conflicting stories as to […]

Lollipops and Liquid Pot

Last One Speaks has a couple of items to check out:
“bullet” Sativex goes retail in Canada — That’s right, the liquid form of marijuana called Sativex¨ is now available by prescription in Canada. Next stop, the U.S. (as soon as they can convince everyone that the plant is bad, but the liquid form of the plant is good).
“bullet” Don’t they have something better to do? talks about the hemp flavored lollipops that are getting a ton of free publicity through lawmakers trying to outlaw them.
There’s another article on this here, with some bizarre notions.

“We should not have these out and available for kids to acquire these kinds of tastes. I’m concerned it could be a stepping stone to smoking marijuana,” Mr. Spade [D-Tipton] said.

Yeah, that’s right. People smoke pot for the taste.

Lenawee County Sheriff Larry Richardson agrees. “I’m all for it,” he said. “Kids tell me it tastes like the real stuff. I definitely think we should put controls on it.”

So how do kids know it tastes like the real stuff?
Of course, Last One Speaks has it right:

It’s perfectly legal, it doesn’t get you high and frankly it doesn’t sound like it would necessarily even taste that good. In fact, if these leglislators didn’t make such a big deal about it, most kids probably wouldn’t even notice they were on the shelf and would opt out for the Sweet Tarts instead.

The latest in technology – drug testing that catches… everyone.

This has been reported in a variety of places already, but is worth noting:

A minister tested positive for cannabis today at a voluntary session designed to show the capability of a high-tech drugs testing machine. Edwina Hart, Social Justice Minister at the National Assembly for Wales, had not been using drugs, but the result […]

Texas governor prefers broken criminal justice system

GritsForBreakfast has the bad news. Lots of good work in the Texas legislature this year was undone by Governor Perry’s veto pen, including a bill to require police to inform drivers of their fourth amendment rights, and a fix of the probation system. Condolences to the people of Texas.