Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daily Roundup: 'New York Times' on Salvia; Pat Robertson Sees the Light

By David Downs
Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Here's your headlines. 1)The Miley Cyrus bong hit story goes on and on, as the New York Times editors ask their kids, 'What's salvia?': "Once the domain of Mazatec shamans in Oaxaca, Mexico, Salvia divinorum — a name that means 'divining sage' — has spent the last decade crawling from stoner novelty to the fringes of the mainstream. Evidence of its popularity is online: a YouTube search for 'salvia' reveals thousands of clips showing young people cackling, moaning and tripping out of their gourds under the herb’s influence." More news after the jump.

2) Conservative christian Pat Robertson had to backpedal over the break after the former Republican presidential candidate came out against sentences that put marijuana smokers away for years in jail. Robertson later issued a statement saying he is against legalization. Celebstoner reports.

3) The New York Times examines the D.E.A. through the lens of the Wikileaks cables:

Created in 1973, the D.E.A. has steadily built its international turf, an expansion primarily driven by the multinational nature of the drug trade, but also by forces within the agency seeking a larger mandate. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the agency’s leaders have cited what they describe as an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism in further building its overseas presence.

In Afghanistan, for example, “DEA officials have become convinced that ‘no daylight’ exists between drug traffickers at the highest level and Taliban insurgents,” Karen Tandy, then the agency’s administrator, told European Union officials in a 2007 briefing, according to a cable from Brussels.

4) Portugal's decriminalization efforts get a look from the Associated Press. The story notes that the US's drug czar paid a visit in September in 2010:

Here's what happened [in Portugal] between 2000 and 2008:

-There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users such as drug addicts and prisoners.
-Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.
-Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.
-The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine _ figures that show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.
-The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, one of the chief architects of the new drug strategy, says he was inspired partly by his own experience of helping his brother beat an addiction.

After the story broke, the drug czar made sure the AP noted he is also against "legalization."
LISBON, Portugal — In a Dec. 26 story, The Associated Press reported that the United States is studying drug reforms in Portugal, and that White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal to learn about its experience with decriminalizing drugs. The story should have made clear that Kerlikowske does not think Portugal's approach is right for the United States.

5) Meanwhile, pills remain the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States: "Deaths from unintentional drug overdoses in the United States have increased five-fold over the last two decades, claiming more lives than any other type of accidental injury except car accidents, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this year. Largely driving the trend is rampant misuse of prescription drugs, particularly painkillers such as OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone) and fentanyl."

6) And, lastly, CelebStoner has the Top 10 Underreported Stories of 2010 by Ellen Komp of VeryImportantPotheads.com, one of which includes:#6 Famous Coroner Says Marijuana Doesn't Cause Death:

The US's most famous coroner, Cyril Wecht, stood up at an August meeting in Pittsburgh in support of a medical marijuana law there. Wecht, 90, was the coroner who examined John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith. In more than 36,000 autopsies, Wecht said he had never seen a death attributed to marijuana use. "Restricting a drug which can have therapeutic medicinal purposes in specific instances, which does not lead to morbidity and mortality, just makes no sense," he said. "Let's help ease physical and emotional pain and suffering."

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