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Pubdate: 23 Dec 1999
Source: Japan Times
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Record 1.8 tons of drugs seized from underworld syndicates

Amphetamines seized by law enforcement authorities this year up to the end of November totaled more than 1.8 tons, surpassing the accumulated volume confiscated over the preceding five years, the National Police Agency said.

The NPA singled out foreign underworld syndicates operating in Japan as particularly active in cases of mass amphetamine-smuggling, saying their methods of smuggling and trading are becoming very clever.

Stimulants seized in the January-November period amounted to 1,849 kg and had an estimated street value of Y110.8 billion.

The number of people arrested or held for violations of narcotics laws – chiefly suspected stimulant use and possession – stood at 17,140 for the 11-month period, up by 1,175 from last year, the NPA said.

Authorities are trying to crack down on drug smuggling through maritime routes into Japan by cooperating with foreign investigators and combating illicit trading in Japan, it added. The agency said 50 kg or more of stimulants were found in 10 seizure cases over the 11 months, and more than 100 kg in seven.

October saw the largest-ever haul in Japan, when about 565 kg were found on a shore in Kagoshima Prefecture, the NPA said, noting 11 Taiwanese and Chinese and one Japanese were arrested in the case.

The NPA said that of the 10 seizures of 50 kg or more, several were related to smuggling attempts through maritime routes – three from Hong Kong, three from mainland China and one from North Korea.

It believes that amphetamines are being produced in southern China, among other places, and that Hong Kong and Taiwanese crime syndicates are smuggling them into Japan. In eight of the 10 seizures of over 50 kg, no yakuza syndicates were involved but only “foreign group” members who had earlier entered Japan, the NPA said.

The agency also noted that the number of Iranians held in the January-November period fell to 167 from 272 the year before. It attributed the decline to the increasing difficulty of uncovering cases in which Iranians are involved, saying their dealings have become “extremely clever.”

In typical cases, the NPA said, Iranians operate in major cities and receive orders on mobile phones, using cars to change their location.

Japan Times,
December 23, 1999

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Pubdate: Dec 9, 1999
Source: NORML weekly news

New Zealand NORML Founder Elected To Parliament

Dec. 9, 1999, Wellington, New Zealand: Nandor Tanzcos, Founder of New Zealand NORML [National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws] was elected to Parliament as a member of the Green Party this week.

Tanzcos, New Zealand’s first Rastafarian Member of Parliament, is one of six Green Party members elected to the 120 seat legislative body. His inclusion in Parliament is being seen as a certain boost for the cannabis law reform movement in New Zealand. Both the Labour and Alliance parties have announced their intent to introduce marijuana decriminalization initiatives.

Tanzcos said he will not tone down his image when he enters Parliament, but he is having a hemp suit made for him to fulfill the dress code that MPs must wear a jacket and tie in the debating chamber.

“The real challenge is to get in there and do the good work, and let people see that we are competent and serious, and we can fulfill our function here,” said Tanzcos.

For more information, please contact New Zealand NORML at +64-9-302-5255 or email: hempstor@ihug.co.nz.

NORML
1999.12.09

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Pubdate: Wed, 1 Dec 1999
Source: Japan Times
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp
Author: Hisane Masaki

Tokyo to host international narcotics conference

By HISANE MASAKI
Staff writer

Senior police, customs, maritime safety, foreign and health officials from some 20 countries will assemble in Tokyo in mid-January to discuss ways to stimulate cooperation in an antinarcotics crusade in East Asia, government sources said Tuesday.

It will be the first time Japan has hosted such a large-scale conference on drug problems, the sources said. Although Japan hosted the Asia Drug Law Enforcement Conference in February, its participants were basically limited to regional police officials from Japan, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The sources said hosting the January meeting reflects strong government concern about a growing number of drug-abuse cases in Japan and is also aimed at demonstrating the country’s determination to play an active role in addressing the drug problems in East Asia as a whole.

According to sources, senior officials from Japan, China, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries will participate in the conference, scheduled for Jan. 17 and 18, as full members. The head of the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and senior officials of the World Customs Organization are also expected to participate. Senior officials from some other industrialized countries, including the United States, Australia, Britain and France, will also attend, but only as observers, the sources said. The sources said that after holding a joint opening ceremony, the conference participants will split into four groups: police officials, maritime safety officials, customs officials and foreign and health officials.

They will discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in cracking down on illicit drug production and trade, and also in curbing the growing demand for illegal drugs in East Asia, the sources said.

China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia concluded a memorandum of understanding with the UNDCP in 1995 on stepping up cooperation in addressing the illegal manufacture, smuggling and abuse of drugs. The so-called Golden Triangle region, which comprises parts of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, is notorious for cultivating huge amounts of opium.

The number of stimulant drug-abuse cases has been rising sharply in Japan, especially among schoolchildren. According to the National Police Agency’ there are an estimated 2.18 million amphetamine abusers.

Alarmed about the current “third wave” of drug abuse sweeping the country, a government panel chaired by then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto adopted in May 1998 a “five-year strategy for preventing the abuse of drugs.”

The government strategy, which represented Japan’s first long-term program to combat drug abuse, called for increased international cooperation, especially with Japan’s Asian neighbors, as well as for more education and a crackdown on drug smuggling into Japan.

While many other industrialized countries are particularly concerned about the abuse of such narcotics as coca, cannabis and opium, putting controls on stimulants is the biggest task facing Japan, where about 90 percent of drug-related offenses involve stimulants.

There are two kinds of stimulant drugs – amphetamines and their more powerful crystalline derivatives, methamphetamines. The bulk of stimulant drugs smuggled into Japan are manufactured in mainland China and Southeast Asia.

As part of efforts to implement the government’s five-year anti-drug strategy, Japan announced in June 1998 a decision to pay the full cost of a $370,000 project proposed by the UNDCP aimed at curbing the rise in the use of illegal stimulant drugs, particularly among the young, in Southeast Asia.

The announcement was made at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly on narcotics held in New York in June 1998. The special U.N. session adopted a political declaration calling for, among other things, concerted action among U.N. member nations to achieve significant progress in the fight against narcotics, including a reduction in the trade of illegal drugs, over the next decade.

Japan Times,
1999.12.01

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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n1270/a06.htm
Newshawk: Martin Cooke ( mjc1947@cyberclub.iol.ie)
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Nov 1999
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group plc.  1999
Contact: editor@observer.co.uk
Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
Author: Tracy McVeigh

UK: Science Finds The Best Dope For Pain

It has been debated in smoke-filled bedsits since the Sixties. But now a Government-licensed firm can say for certain which dope is the best on the market.

GW Pharmaceuticals has tested different strains of cannabis on human volunteers and established which is most effective, at least for medicinal purposes. GW was granted a Home Office licence last year to begin a three-year programme to develop cannabis-based medicines. It now has 20,000 marijuana plants growing under glass at a Special Branch-approved, secure location in the South of England.

Dr Geoffrey Guy, the company’s chairman, hopes a cannabis-based prescription drug will be on the market within three to four years.

There is increasing evidence that the plant can help treat pain, notably in cases of multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and neuralgia. It also reportedly increases Aids sufferers’ appetites, and helps treat the eye disease glaucoma.

Last week scientists found cannabis sativa , normally grown for its flowers rather than its resin, the most effective pain-relieving strain. Sativa produces ‘grass’, not solid hashish – generally made from cannabis indica .

Researchers found sativa was botanically distinct from rope-making hemp, resin-heavy cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis, a slightly weaker plant.

Healthy volunteers were given various doses of liquid cannabis drops placed under the tongue, for direct absorption into the blood stream.

‘These are the first studies in which human subjects have been administered fully standardised extracts of cannabis,’ said Guy. ‘The key thing is to work out which combination of the active ingredients works best. Effectively that is what we have done in phase one.’

According to Guy, most people using the drug for medicinal purposes do not welcome the ‘high’. ‘They want the pain to be eased without unwanted side-effects so that they can get on with their lives,’ he said.

In parallel with the trials, researchers have also been testing various gadgets to administer the drug to the patient. Most recreational users smoke their cannabis, an unacceptable method in medicine. But GW Pharmaceuticals is working on a special inhaler to dispense cannabis vapour.

Similar to pocket-sized nebulisers for asthma sufferers, the ‘dope guns’ will have little black-market value since the dosage they dispense is lower than that typically sought by a recreational cannabis user. When data from phase one has been approved by the Medicines Control Agency, probably early next year, phase two and three will see trials on initially small groups of MS and other patients to establish therapeutic benefits.

MAP posted-by: Derek Rea

The Observer (UK)
1999.11.21

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Newshawk: taima.org
Pubdate: Tue, 18 Nov 1999
Source: KOIN, Portland, OR
Copyright: © 1999 KOIN
Website: http://www.koin.com
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Stewardess fired for drinking water

Drug Test Mix-Up Results In Firing

Delta Fires Employee After Random ‘Diluted’ Test Comes Back

PORTLAND, Posted 9:05 a.m. PST November 18, 1999 — A drug test has turned the life of one former Delta employee upside down.

A negative test, that the company says was too diluted, cost Yasuko Ishikawa her job as a flight attendant, KOIN 6 News reports.

Ishikawa was given no warning before her random drug test earlier this year, but says she had nothing to worry about. Her tests have come out negative for drugs every time since starting work for Delta seven years ago.

Results show the test urine was too watered down. The flight attendant says she drank a lot of water during the nine-hour trip before her test. But she also says Delta encourages attendants to drink a lot of water on long flights. Now she can’t understand why she won’t be given a second chance.

“They took my ID, my travel card — everything… I asked what was going on, in total shock,” she tells KOIN.

English is Ishikawa ‘s second language, so it was difficult for her to fully understand. Once she realized her urine was too diluted with water, she quickly offered to retake the test.

“I can do anything. I can take the test now, give a hair sample, breath test or anything because I have never seen an illegal drug in my life,” she says.

Delta refused to talk on camera, but an executive says the company has a no-tolerance policy for drugs. KOIN sent reporter/nurse Kris Eisenhauer to test Ishikawa and eliminate any chance of altering the urine sample. Eisenhauer knows there are a lot of factors to consider.

“It is possible for a person to drink enough fluid that they would dilute their urine to the point that even a sophisticated test would not detect drugs, but does that make a person a drug user?

“Maybe she just likes to drink a lot of water. Maybe they also need to take into consideration what she eats (and) if she takes any prescription medications, and if she takes any alternative medications,” Eisenhauer says.

Jim Lanson of Public Service Laboratories analyzed the sample. It came up negative for any drugs and was not diluted.

Meanwhile, Delta told Ishikawa to keep quiet about why she was fired, but her friends say, “speak out.”

KOIN news
1999.11.18

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Newshawk: taima.org
Pubdate: Fri, 12 November 1999
Source: Japan Times (Tokyo)
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

33.63 million Japanese smoke

HALF OF THOSE ARE HOOKED

Of the 33.63 million Japanese over 15 who smoke, 54 percent can be considered “tobacco-dependent,” according to a government survey released Thursday.

The Health and Welfare Ministry survey, the first full-fledged study on smokers’ behavior and attitudes, also showed that close to one in every five Japanese males aged 15-19 – legal minors in Japan – lights up.

In the past, such surveys have been conducted solely by Japan Tobacco Inc., a former government monopoly.

Some 14,000 people aged 15 and over were asked to fill in questionnaires in February and March through random sampling. The number of valid responses totaled 12,858. The survey showed that 52.8 percent of all adult males aged 20 and over smoke. For women, the figure was 13.4 percent.

Classified by age, male smokers in their 30s registered the highest rate at 62.9 percent. Adult women under 40 also lit up quite often, with those in their 30s having the highest rate of 23.2 percent.

By gender, Japan’s smoking population is estimated to be made up of 26.42 million males and 7.2 million females. Of this figure, 924,000 – 762,000 males and 162,000 females – are believed to be underage smokers.

The survey also checked for tobacco dependency, using questions based on standards set by the World Health Organization. Results showed that 53.9 percent, or 18 million people, can be considered tobacco-de-pendent.

Examining the relationship between the age people begin smoking as a habit and dependency levels, the survey found that the younger one starts smoking, the higher the chances of becoming addicted a tendency also found in nicotine dependency, Those who want to quit smoking totaled 24.8 percent among men and 34.9 percent among women.

Their reasons for wanting to quit varied, with personal health topping the list, followed by concerns about cost, family health and courtesy to other people. Those who want to cut down on the amount they smoke came to 38.3 percent for males and 34.7 percent for females.

When asked where they get information related to smoking and its effects on health, 83.3 percent cited television and radio and 54 percent said newspapers. In contrast, only 11.2 percent said they learned about the demerits of smoking at school and 7.5 percent said they learned about the issue at special seminars.

This survey corresponded with the results of this year’s study by Japan Tobacco, which put the number of male smokers at 54 percent, 1.2 percentage points down from the previous year, and female smokers at 14.5 percent, 1.2 points up from the previous year. The ministry said it intends to use the results to formulate a more effective antismoking policy, and that it would have to make better use of the media to provide the public with information.

Japan Times, Tokyo
99.11.12

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See also: 00.02.01 "Suspended term for cop in drug case"

Pubdate: Thu, 4 Nov 1999
Source: Japan Times
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Top cop in drug test coverup

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) The scandal-tainted Kanagawa Prefectural Police department is again under fire as allegations have deepened that its former chief was involved in the coverup of an officer’s use of stimulant drugs in 1996.

Motoo Watanabe and other former and current senior Kanagawa police officials have already been questioned over suspicions that they concealed the results of several urine tests on the 37-year-old assistant inspector. The officer, whose name has been withheld, tested positive for stimulant drugs in 1996 and was fired that December on grounds that he had had an extramarital affair, police sources said.

Although several tests showed that the officer tested positive for drugs, senior prefecture police officials at the time hid the results, the sources said.
The senior officials had the officer tested several more times until he eventually tested negative, and had those results submitted instead, they said.
At the advice of a senior official in charge of drug cases, senior officials were also allegedly involved in an attempt to avoid having the officer tried under the Stimulants Control Law, the sources said.

At the time, Kanagawa Prefecture was launching an antistimulant campaign following a series of drug busts involving high school students. It would have been too embarrassing for police to arrest an officer over drug use, the sources said.

Watanabe, the Kanagawa police chief at the time, and other top officials knew of the situation, the sources said.

Japan Times,
1999.11.04

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Newshawk: taima.org
Pubdate: Tue, 02 Nov 1999
Source: Japan Times (Tokyo)
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Tokyo bans ‘legal drug’ products

The Tokyo metropolitan government’s Public Health Bureau on Monday ordered retailers in Minato Ward and Chiyoda Ward to halt sales of 10 products — so-called “legal drugs” — sold at adult-goods stores and through the Internet, because they contain unlawful components.

The products, which range from leather cleaners, air fresheners and video cleaners, have been advertised on the Internet and in magazines as giving pleasurable highs if taken orally or inhaled. Sold at anywhere between ¥ 1500 to ¥ 14,000, they are called “legal” because the law does not forbid possession or use of the products.

But public health officials tested 35 products on the market as of June and found that 10 contained unlawful substances.

Japan Times
1999.11.02

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Pubdate: 1999.11.01
Source: Marijuananews.com

MOST AUSTRALIANS WANT MARIJUANA DECRIMINALISED

November 1, 1999
From the Australian Associated Press

About three quarters of Australians support decriminalising possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, a Newspoll has found.

Life Education Australia executive director Terry Metherell said the poll, conducted last weekend, showed support for fines instead of criminal records in minor marijuana offences was strong across all age groups. It was strongest among people aged 25-34 (84 per cent) and weakest among those over 50 (66 per cent).

“Married respondents or those with children or in full or part-time work were more likely to favour the use of fines than respondents who were unmarried, without children or not in the workforce,” Dr Metherell said.

White collar employees were significantly more likely to support the use of fines over criminal records than blue collar employees (81 per cent versus 66 per cent).

Similarly, those in high income earning households were significantly more likely to support fines than those in low income earning households (81 per cent versus 63 per cent).

“Australians appear to strongly support the decriminalisation of a small amount of marijuana for personal use, as has occurred in South Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory,” Dr Metherell said.

“Current moves toward cautioning and diversion for young and first offenders in minor marijuana cases in Victoria and New South Wales are also likely to have widespread public support.”

The Newspoll also found most Australians favoured treating drug offenders rather than sentencing them to prison.

Seventy per cent of those surveyed supported treatment for those caught in possession of illegal drugs while 22 per cent favoured prison.

Dr Metherell said both young and old respondents to the survey had a strong preference for treatment.

While support for this approach was highest among the young, 66 per cent of those aged 50 years and over favoured treatment over incarceration.

“The message for governments is that Australians are caring and want to help people with drug problems, especially young and first time offenders,” Dr Metherell said.

“Australians want their National Drug Strategy to focus on recovery not punishment and believe treatment is more effective than prison in dealing with drug offenders caught in possession but not involved in serious crime.”

(C) 1999 Australian Associated Press


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Pubdate: Oct 11, 1999
Source: Japan Times
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Netherlands considers loosening cannabis law

THE HAGUE (AFP-Jiji) Twenty Dutch Municipal councils Saturday called on the government to permit the cultivation of cannabis in order to decriminalize the supply chain to coffee shops.

Supplying cannabis to coffee shops is illegal, while the sale of small amounts of the weed has been “tolerated” by law enforcers for years.

In a letter addressed to the Cabinet on Saturday and signed by 20 mayors of towns and cities in the Netherlands, the Drugs Policy Association called for an end to this confusing policy and the experimental “toleration” of cannabis cultivation.

Justice Minister Benk Korthals, a free-market liberal, promised to include the committee’s findings when he considers a new white paper on drugs legislation in spring 2000, according to Tilburg Mayor Jan Stekelenburg, one of the signatories to the letter.

Stekelenburg said that criminals are finding more and more ways to control the supply of cannabis to coffee shops.

However, Dutch Premier Wim Kok on Friday reiterated his stance on drugs policy in a television interview on the Dutch weekly political news program Den Haag Vandaag.

“I would tend to say: there have to be very serious arguments for the Netherlands to move further away from the rest of Europe in its legal approach,” Kok said.

He can expect to be confronted about the Dutch soft drugs policy when he meets his French counterpart Lionel Jospin during an official visit to Paris this Monday and Tuesday.

However, Kok said that he intended to discuss other important European issues in Paris, rather than “once again picking in the navel of drugs policy.”

Japan Times
1999.10.11

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