International News: Britain, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Amazon 9/5/97

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On the heels of the announcement that the prestigious Police Foundation will begin studying the effects of the U.K.'s drug policies, Tony Blair's Labour government, in an effort to counteract widespread criticisms of the Prohibitionist regime, has announced a plan to step up the War on Drugs, American style. On Thursday, August 28, British foreign minister Robin Cook told the London Times that M16 (British foreign intelligence) would dramatically increase its involvement in the drug war. According to the Times, the M16 priorities would "focus on attacking the drug supply chain at every stage, from stifling the production at source to preventing profitability and stopping money laundering."

Two London Times Op-Ed's illustrate a very serious split in the views on drug policy in the U.K. The first was written by Simon Jenkins, a member of the Police Foundation Commission, who decries the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act in his opening sentence which reads, "I doubt if any law on the statute book has done less good and more harm than (the Act)." Jenkins discusses a "startling divide" between an older generation of Britons who want a more intense effort at enforcement and "a younger one which (by two-to-one according to polls) believes the precise reverse."

In response, Ann Taylor, Leader of the House of Commons and chair of the Cabinet's drugs committee, checked in with "Why this government won't legalize drugs" in the same space. Taylor, however, resorts to wholly unsupported statements as to the consequences of ending punitive Prohibition to make her case. This statement ignores the entire history of legal but regulated substances in both Britain and the U.S. Taylor also states, "Look ahead ten years. Any step along the legalisation route and we can be sure that both demand for and use of drugs would massively increase - with no letup in organized crime - along with the creation of a dulled, unhealthy, selfish society, desperate for a "buzz."

Finally, Ms. Taylor cheerfully notes that the Prime Minister would soon be appointing a U.S. style "Drug Tsar" to coordinate its war. Here at DRCNet, we see in this tempest a strong reason for optimism. Faced with mounting evidence as to the failure of its Prohibition, and the emergence of a popular movement to re-examine it, the Prohibitionists are left with only one choice... push down harder in order to prove that the paradigm can work. By definition, more enforcement will mean more corruption, more violence and larger expenditures, without significantly reducing the problem of substance abuse or widespread availability. In the face of the gathering opposition, the "Americanization" of Britain's Drug War might well mark the beginning of the end of a failing regime in the U.K. Not to mention a preview of the final gasps of Prohibition at home.


The U.S. and Costa Rica have drafted a plan which would allow U.S. law enforcement personnel to track, detain and search boats and aircraft suspected of carrying illegal drugs, operating within Costa Rican waters and air space, according to the Associated Press.


Brazil's federal police, and its environmental agency released a report this week which claims that illegal cocaine labs are dumping millions of gallons of chemical pollutants, used in the manufacture of cocaine, into the Amazon River. DRCNet says: REGULATE.


Hans Visser, a Protestant minister in the city of Rotterdam, has decided that his conscience will not allow him to wait while the Dutch government haggles over the politics and the details of their long-awaited heroin trials. Visser will work with local doctors and social workers, as well as "several dealers" to provide clean heroin out of his church, at cut rates, to a test group of ten long-term addicts who are currently compelled to risk their lives to buy expensive, black market heroin of uncertain purity in order to stave off withdrawal.

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Issue #10, 9/5/97 International News: Britain, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Amazon | Death Threats: Cartels threatening US officials? | Publishing News: Ex-CIA drug runner signs with Doubleday Books to tell all. (And of course, sells the movie rights!) | Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Board says "Tell it to the Feds" as Journey for Justice II Readies to Hit the Road | The Activist Guide: New issue of DRCNet's newsletter -- hot off the press! | Calendar Updates: Exciting event listings that have come in since our last calendar distribution | Protests in Washington! Activists from various drug policy causes take it to the front line | "A Third Way:" A group of moderates issue "Principles for a Practical Drug Policy" | Link of the Week: Kemba's Nightmare | Quote of the Week: This guy's running for sheriff? Bob Marley should've moved to Mendocino County | Editorial: Op-ed: Contrasting views on the new moderates, from the Associate and Executive Directors of DRCNet!

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