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MAPTalk-Digest Friday, December 18 2009 Volume 09 : Number 121

001 Californians to Vote to Legalize Marijuana
    From: Richard Lake <>
002 Kona area councilman: Legalize pot
    From: "Herb" <>
003 War Without Borders
    From: Richard Lake <>


Subj: 001 Californians to Vote to Legalize Marijuana
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 08:26:33 -0800



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #422 - Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Today newspapers across California are printing articles about the 
initiative which will be on the November, 2010 ballot for voters 
to  consider legalizing marijuana.

Details about the initiative may be found at the initiative website

Below is the article about the initiative from the state's largest 
circulation newspaper.

The San Francisco Chronicle's article is at

Additional articles about California and marijuana, now and in the 
months ahead, are found at

Many may be appropriate targets for your letters to the editor.


Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)

Page: A12

Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times


Author: John Hoeffel

Cited: The Tax & Regulate Cannabis Initiative
Cited: California NORML
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


California voters could decide whether to legalize marijuana in 
November after supporters announced Monday that they have more than 
enough signatures to ensure that it qualifies for the ballot.

The petition drive has collected more than 680,000 signatures, said 
Richard Lee, the measure's main proponent, about 57% more than the 
433,971 needed.

"It was so easy to get them," Lee said. "People were so eager to sign."

The initiative would allow cities and counties to adopt laws to allow 
marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on marijuana 
production and sales. It would make it legal for anyone who is at 
least 21 to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area 
of no more than 25 square feet for personal use.

Steve Smith, a political consultant who has run many California 
initiative campaigns, said that as a rule of thumb, supporters assume 
that about 30% of the signatures on petitions will be invalidated.

"I'll be very surprised if they don't qualify," he said.

The measure, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, is one of 
four initiatives in circulation to legalize marijuana use, but it is 
the only one that appears to have the financial support to make the ballot.

Lee's firm, one of the state's most successful marijuana businesses, 
has spent at least $1.1 million so far on the measure. Lee owns half 
a dozen businesses in Oakland, including Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a 
medical marijuana dispensary, and Oaksterdam University, which 
teaches about marijuana.

Lee said he expected that the campaign will cost between $7 million 
and $20 million, but he hopes to raise the money from across the country.

"We feel like we've done our part," he said.

Lee has hired consultants to run an Internet-based campaign that he 
said already has a mailing list of about 30,000.

In a news release, the campaign announced that it had more than 
650,000 signatures, but Lee said that the firm he hired to collect 
signatures put the number at more than 680,000. Lee said volunteers 
would continue to gather signatures until the campaign turns in the 
petition early next year.

Polls have shown support among California voters for legalization. A 
Field Poll taken in mid-April found that 56% of voters in the state 
and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it. A 
poll taken for the initiative's proponents in August found that 51% 
of likely voters supported it when read language similar to what will 
be on the ballot, but that increased to 54% when they were read a 
less technical synopsis.

Smith said those numbers suggest proponents face tough odds.

"Generally, you are at your high point when you start," he said. "The 
no side just has to come up with one good reason to vote no."

But Smith said that a lot will depend on how much money is spent by 
both sides and whether the electorate tilts toward left or right on 
election day.

"I think it'll probably be a very close vote," he said.

Law enforcement organizations are likely to oppose the measure, but 
several contacted Monday said they had not yet adopted an official position.

Some marijuana advocates have criticized Lee for pushing his measure, 
arguing that they would have a better chance in 2012, a presidential 
election year when the electorate tends to be more liberal.

"I think things have turned our way so much that we have a good 
chance of winning," Lee said. "This is the time to bring up the issue 
and talk about it. Who knows what will be going on in 2012."

Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML, was one of the 
skeptics, but he said his pro-legalization organization would endorse 
the ballot measure.

"I'd like the initiative to pass," he said, "but I'm not holding my 
breath necessarily for this to happen."

Lee said he believes that the increasing acceptance of medical 
marijuana has changed the dynamic. He said voters are aware that it 
is easy to obtain a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana, but he 
said most believe that is "a good thing."

"Medical marijuana in California has been accepted as legalization in 
some ways by a lot of the population," he said. "To me this is 
codifying what it happening."


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor


Subj: 002 Kona area councilman: Legalize pot
From: "Herb" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 14:32:54 -0800

Kona area councilman: Legalize pot


Subj: 003 War Without Borders
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 00:02:05 -0800



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #423 - Friday, 18 December 2009

The Media Awareness Project has archived almost 14 hundred articles 
that mention Mexico so far this year.

Today's front page article, below, is one of them. Taking a page from 
the Los Angeles Times series 'Mexico Under Siege' the New York Times 
calls it's series War Without Borders.

It is that. No single issue of the drug war is costing more in lives 
and resources. None leads to more corruption. None better illustrates 
the costs of the prohibition of some drugs.

News clippings referencing Mexico are found at

Many may be appropriate targets for your letters to the editor.


Page: A1, Front Page

Source: New York Times (NY)

Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company


Author: Randal C. Archibold

War Without Borders


SAN DIEGO -- At first, Luis F. Alarid seemed well on his way to 
becoming a customs agency success story. He had risen from a 
childhood of poverty and foster homes, some of them abusive, earned 
praise and commendations while serving in the Army and the Marines, 
including two tours in Iraq, and returned to Southern California to 
fulfill a goal of serving in law enforcement.

But, early last year, after just a few months as a customs inspector, 
he was waving in trucks from Mexico carrying loads of marijuana and 
illegal immigrants. He pocketed some $200,000 in cash that paid for, 
as far as the government could tell, a $15,000 motorcycle, 
flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer and more.

Some investigators believe that Mr. Alarid, 32, who was paid off by a 
Mexican smuggling crew that included several members of his family, 
intended to work for smugglers all along. At one point, Mr. Alarid, 
who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison in February, told 
investigators that he had researched just how much prison time he 
might get for his crimes and believed, as investigators later 
reported, that he could do it "standing on his head."

Mr. Alarid's case is not the only one that has law enforcement 
officials worried that Mexican traffickers -- facing beefed-up 
security on the border that now includes miles of new fencing, 
floodlights, drones, motion sensors and cameras -- have stepped up 
their efforts to corrupt the border police.

They research potential targets, anticorruption investigators said, 
exploiting the cross-border clans and relationships that define the 
region, offering money, sex, whatever it takes. But, with the border 
police in the midst of a hiring boom, law enforcement officers 
believe that traffickers are pulling out the stops, even soliciting 
some of their own operatives to apply for jobs.

"In some ways," said Keith Slotter, the agent in charge of the 
F.B.I.'s San Diego office, "it's like the old spy game between the 
old Soviet Union and the U.S. -- trying to compromise each other's spies."

James Tomsheck, the assistant commissioner for internal affairs at 
Customs and Border Protection, and other investigators said they had 
seen many signs that the drug organizations were making a concerted 
effort to infiltrate the ranks.

"We are very concerned," Mr. Tomsheck said. "There have been 
verifiable instances where people were directed to C.B.P. to apply 
for positions only for the purpose of enhancing the goals of criminal 
organizations. They had been selected because they had no criminal 
record; a background investigation would not develop derogatory information."

During a federal trial of a recently hired Border Patrol agent this 
year, one drug trafficker with ties to organized crime in Mexico 
described how he had enticed the agent, a close friend from high 
school in Del Rio, Tex., who was entering the training academy, to 
join his crew smuggling tons of marijuana into Texas.

The agent, Raquel Esquivel, 25, was sentenced to 15 years in prison 
last week for tipping smugglers on where border guards were and 
suggesting how they could avoid getting caught.

The smuggler, Diego Esquivel, who is not related to the agent, said 
he told her that her decision to enter the academy was a good career 
move and, he said, "I thought it was good for me, too."

Under the Bush administration, the United States has spent billions 
of dollars -- $11 billion this year alone for Customs and Border 
Protection -- to tighten the border between the United States and 
Mexico, building up physical barriers and going on a hiring spree to 
develop the nation's largest law enforcement agency to patrol the area.

But the battle for survival among cartels in Mexico, in which 
thousands of people, mostly in the drug trade or fighting it, have 
been killed, has only led drug traffickers to redouble their efforts 
to get their drugs to market in the United States.

Along the border, many residents have family members on both sides. 
Generations of residents have been accustomed to passing back and 
forth relatively freely, often daily, and exchanging goods, legal or not.

Federal officials believe that drug traffickers are seeking to 
exploit those ties more than ever, urging family and friends on the 
American side to take advantage of the hiring rush for customs 
agents. The majority of agents and officers stay out of crime. But 
smuggling can be appealing. The average officer makes $70,000 a year, 
a sum that can be dwarfed by what smugglers pay to get just a few 
trucks full of drugs into the United States.

Right now, only a fraction -- 10 percent or so -- of Customs and 
Border Protection recruits are given a polygraph screening that 
federal investigators say has proved effective in weeding out people 
with drug ties and other troublesome backgrounds. Officials say they 
do not have the money to test more recruits.

In years past, new hires rarely served in the areas where they had 
grown up, but recently that practice has been relaxed somewhat to 
attract more recruits, said Thomas Frost, an assistant inspector 
general at the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Frost and other 
internal affairs veterans say that has made it easier for traffickers.

Mr. Tomsheck said that several prospective hires had been turned away 
after investigators suspected that they had been directed to Customs 
and Border Enforcement by drug trafficking organizations, and that 
several recent hires were under investigation as well, though he 
declined to provide details.

As one exasperated investigator at the border put it, "There is so 
much hiring; if you have a warm body and pulse, you have a job."

The F.B.I. is planning to add three multiagency corruption squads to 
the 10 already on the Southwest border, and the Department of 
Homeland Security's inspector general, the department's primary 
investigative arm, has also added agents. But such hiring has not 
kept up with the growth of the agency they are entrusted to keep watch over.

Over all, arrests of Customs and Border Protection agents and 
officers have increased 40 percent in the last few years, outpacing 
the 24 percent growth in the agency itself, according to the 
Department of Homeland Security inspector general's office. The 
office has 400 open investigations, each often spanning a few years or more.

Keith A. Byers, who supervises the F.B.I.'s border corruption units, 
said corruption posed a national security threat because guards 
seldom verify what is in the vehicles they have agreed to let pass, 
raising concerns "they could be letting something much more dangerous 
into the U.S."

Most corrupt officers gravitate to smuggling illegal immigrants, 
rationalizing that is less onerous than getting involved with drugs, 
investigators say.

But Mr. Byers and others point to a string of drug-related cases that 
make them wonder if the conventional wisdom is holding.

Margarita Crispin, a former customs inspector in El Paso, pleaded 
guilty in April 2008 and received a 20-year prison sentence in what 
the F.B.I. considers one of the more egregious corruption cases.

Through a succession of boyfriends and other associates with ties to 
major drug trafficking organizations in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Ms. 
Crispin helped smuggle thousands of pounds of marijuana over three 
years, almost from the time she began working for the agency.

She waved off drug-sniffing dogs in her lane, complaining she was 
afraid of them, although investigators later learned she had had dogs as pets.

"She is someone who from the beginning said this would be a good job 
to help the people I am associated with," Mr. Byers said.

Just last month, Martha Garnica, a 12-year Customs and Border 
Protection employee near El Paso, was charged with bribery and 
marijuana smuggling in concert with traffickers in Ciudad Juarez.

Ms. Garnica's 21-year-old daughter had also sought a job with the 
Border Patrol, in what investigators deemed a suspicious move given 
her mother's alleged involvement in the drug trade. The daughter, 
testifying in court last week, admitted she had lied on the 
application both about being a United States citizen and about owning 
property in Mexico. A spokesman for the United States Attorney's 
Office in El Paso declined to comment.

Mr. Alarid's history in the military probably made him seem like a 
good candidate for the customs job. But he had a tangled family 
history. According to court papers, both his parents were drug addicts.

Mr. Alarid was born in Tijuana, Mexico, but raised largely in foster 
homes in Southern California. He emerged from high school a track 
star and, over the next 10 years, did stints in the Marines and the 
Army, drawing praise from commanders for his dedication and service.

"I would willingly trust Luis with my life," Sgt. Maj. Michael W. 
Abbey of the Army wrote in a letter to the judge before Mr. Alarid 
was sentenced in February.

Mr. Alarid began working at the border in San Diego in October 2007. 
In his guilty plea, he admitted that he had started smuggling in 
February 2008. He was arrested three months later.

Mr. Alarid would wave in vehicles that should have raised suspicion, 
either because their license plates were partly covered or because 
the plates did not belong to the vehicle, something he would have 
seen on the computer screen in his inspection booth.

Before reporting to his lane, he would go out to the employee parking 
lot to use his cellphone, which federal agents believe was his way of 
telling the smugglers which lane to approach.

At his sentencing, all involved -- the prosecutors, the judge, his 
lawyer -- expressed bewilderment at the turn in Mr. Alarid's life. 
But in an interview, a family member who was not part of the case 
said Mr. Alarid had mounting gambling debts and, despite it all, had 
always sought a bond with his biological mother.

Still, Judge Janis L. Sammartino accepted the government's argument 
that a deterrent message needed to be sent.

"I do think that the public, for a while at least, needs to be 
assured that who we have at the border are 100 percent individuals of 
integrity," she said. "I think you were at one time. I don't know 
what went wrong for you, sir, and I hope that you attain that again."


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor


End of MAPTalk-Digest V09 #121

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