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The Week Online with DRCNet
(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)

Issue #254, 9/13/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Support Ed Forchion -- activist facing parole revocation and 10-year term for speaking out against the war on drugs -- this Tuesday, September 17, 9:00am, Hunterdon County Justice Center, 65 Park Ave., Courtroom #1, Flemington, NJ (west of Trenton), e-mail shanleyg2001@yahoo.com for further information, visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/251.html#edforchion for background.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Conflict Heightening in California Medical Marijuana Battle
  2. Michigan "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Knocked Off Ballot
  3. Dance Culture Holds Raves Against RAVE Act -- Techno at the Capitol Last Friday
  4. Montana Activists Hold First Drug Policy Summit
  5. Marijuana Reform Party Makes New York Ballot
  6. Pictures of DRCNet StopTheDrugWar.org Merchandise Now Online
  7. John Perry Featured on NY1 News Channel
  8. Urgent: Demand Freedom for the Tulia Victims
  9. Other Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision
  10. Newsbrief: Seattle Marijuana Initiative in Trouble
  11. Newsbrief: Canadian Justice Minister Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization Next Year, Rejects Legalization
  12. Newsbrief: Noelle Bush in Trouble Again
  13. Newsbrief: Afghan Marijuana Trade Back in Business
  14. Newsbrief: Missouri Man Takes Pot Shots at Dope Chopper
  15. Newsbrief: Oregon Drug Task Force Wants Tax Hike to Fund Operations
  16. Newsbrief: Tennessee Drug Task Force Director Fired for Sampling Evidence Stash
  17. Web Scan: WAMM, State on Eradication, Deborah Small, DEA Museum, Canada, California Student Survey, The Onion
  18. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Conflict Heightening in California Medical Marijuana Battle

An aggressive federal offensive targeting medical marijuana providers, growers and patients in California is rapidly energizing common citizens and elected officials alike in support. The raid September 5 against the Santa Cruz Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (http://www.wamm.org) may mark the beginning of a real anti-federal mobilization in California.

In late breaking news, DRCNet learned Thursday evening that the DEA had struck again, this time raiding the Genesis medical marijuana dispensary in Petaluma and an associated garden in Sebastopol and arresting Genesis owner Robert Schmidt, who was being held by the DEA as of Thursday afternoon. Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the coalition that has spearheaded protests against previous raids, has issued an emergency alert calling for demonstrations at federal buildings across the country on Monday. According to ASA, large numbers of plants were seized, witnesses reported an ambulance at the scene, and Schmidt had been charged with assaulting an officer.

"We are shocked that the DEA would make medical marijuana its top priority while the rest of the county is at a high state of alert," said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. "While the country was on orange alert on September 11, 30 DEA agents were busily plotting an attack on the medical marijuana community. The president warned us of an attack," Sherer continued, "but he didn't tell us it would be from our own government."

The Santa Cruz raid has been denounced by the local sheriff's department, which failed to intervene when angry WAMM patients blocked DEA raiders from leaving the WAMM garden they had just destroyed, as well as by members of the Santa Cruz city council and other state political figures -- including Attorney General Bill Lockyer, long criticized by medical marijuana advocates as too flaccid in supporting the law.

Santa Cruz city council members are not limiting themselves to angry words. City officials announced this week that they will join a medical marijuana giveaway at City Hall next week to send a message to the Justice Department that medical marijuana is welcome in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz residents approved Proposition 215, the 1996 medical marijuana initiative, by a 74% margin. In 2000, the city council approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana to be grown and used without a prescription.

"It's just absolutely loathsome to me that federal money, energy and staff time would be used to harass people like this," vice mayor Emily Reilly told reporters as she announced she would participate in handing out medical marijuana to sick people at City Hall.

While the city of Santa Cruz has passed a resolution denouncing the raid, the City Hall action is not an official city event. City officials and members of the public will be allowed to use city facilities for the protest, the city attorney explained.

The DEA's San Francisco spokesman pronounced himself flummoxed by the announced event. "Are you serious?" Richard Meyer asked the Associated Press when told of the giveaway. "That's illegal. It's like they're flouting federal law," he said. "I'm shocked that city leaders would promote the use of marijuana that way. What is that saying to our youth?"

[Editor's note: It could well be saying to our youth that marijuana, like morphine, cocaine, sedatives, tranquilizers and many other substances, has legitimate medical uses and that drug war totalitarianism should not interfere with medical care.]

If the DEA is "shocked" at the Santa Cruz giveaway, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has aroused himself long enough to send a letter to DEA head Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General John Ashcroft complaining about the raids and asking for a meeting to discuss the matter.

"I must question the ethical basis for the DEA's policy when these raids are being executed without apparent regard for the likelihood of successful prosecution," Lockyer wrote. "Whether or not the US Attorney decides to file in the Santa Cruz case, my Department is aware of other recent DEA-initiated raids involving as few as six marijuana plants in which no charges were ever filed, and no convictions were obtained. Conversations with DEA representatives in California have made it clear that the DEA's strategic policy is to conduct these raids as punitive expeditions whether or not a crime can be successfully prosecuted."

The US Attorney's office in San Francisco announced this week that Valerie and Michael Corral, the operators of WAMM, would join the growing list of those raided but not prosecuted. Such tactics make sense for the DEA in California. Raids effectively destroy the operation in question, and the federal government doesn't have to worry about actually winning a case in a state where the electorate voted for medical marijuana.

"A medicinal marijuana provider such as the Santa Cruz collective represents little danger to the public," Lockyer wrote, "and is certainly not a concern which would warrant diverting scarce federal resources away from the fight against domestic methamphetamine production, heroin distribution or international terrorism to cite just a few far more worthy priorities."

Whether the Lockyer letter will lead to any concrete response remains to be seen. According to Lockyer spokeswoman Hallye Jordan, DEA head Hutchinson called to acknowledge receiving the letter, but no meeting has been set. There has been no response from the Justice Department, Jordan told DRCNet. And like her boss, Jordan used the medical marijuana issue to plump for increased funds for the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Production (CAMP), which she characterized as "seizing a million plants from Mexican narco-traffickers, as opposed to medical marijuana that would benefit seriously ill and dying patients."

"We are pleased to see the Attorney General finally responding to this crisis," said ASA executive director Stephanie Sherer. "We hope he will follow up," she told DRCNet.

While Lockyer scribbled to the feds, medical marijuana supporters took to the streets in cities in Northern California and across the country last weekend, demonstrating at federal buildings in 15 cities and the Justice Department in Washington, DC, Sherer said.

More protests are scheduled for September 23 at the sentencing hearing for convicted medical marijuana grower Bryan Epis, who faces a federal mandatory minimum prison sentence. A coalition led by ASA will lead those protests. But now, given Thursday's raid on Genesis, immediate attention will turn to Monday's emergency response protests. "We really want to get people to turn out, even if it's just a few of you," said Sherer. "Last week, we had two people in with a sign in front of the federal building in Austin, and they were quoted on the AP wire."

As California's political class slowly mobilizes in support of the state's medical marijuana law, as editorial page writers chime in to denounce the raids, and as medical marijuana supporters and their allies take to the streets, the federal government may have finally found the confrontation it has been so assiduously seeking.


2. Michigan "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Knocked Off Ballot

The Michigan drug reform initiative went down in flames this week when the Michigan Supreme Court declined to reverse decisions by the Michigan Board of Canvassers and a lower court to keep the drug reform amendment off the ballot. The initiative was brought down after foes discovered and exploited a technical problem in the initiative's language. The Michigan Campaign for New Drug Policies' amendment called for the creation of a new section to an article of the state constitution. Opponents charged and the board and courts found that such a section would conflict with a section already in the constitution, and hence did not comply with Michigan law.

The ruling is a severe blow to the Michigan Campaign and a setback to its parent group, the Campaign for New Drug Policies (http://www.drugreform.org), which had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the petition-gathering phase of the campaign. CNDP was tight-lipped after the ruling, declining comment and referring reporters to a written press statement.

"Today we lost a battle, and the people of Michigan lost as well," said Michigan Campaign spokeswoman Maia J. Storm in the press release. "While we are disappointed, the need for major overhaul of Michigan's drug laws remains."

While reluctant to address what went wrong, the Campaign vowed to keep pressing for drug law reform in Michigan and threatened to mount another initiative effort if Michigan lawmakers failed to act.

"The pressure for reform cannot be turned away," said Storm. "If legislators will not take this issue into their own hands, they invite another effort to remake Michigan's drug sentencing laws at the ballot box. Absent real legislative reforms, we will try everything we can to return to the ballot at a later election. The pressure is on those who most feared the voice of the people," said Storm, referring to the coalition of Michigan and national drug warriors who came together in a possibly illegal effort to influence Michigan voters against the initiative. "If they continue to push off reform to some other day, the people will have their say."

2002 is proving to be a tough year for drug reform initiative efforts. A similar CNDP initiative planned for Florida this year was knocked out by questionable rulings or delaying tactics in the state courts, as was a local medical marijuana initiative in Detroit. As noted elsewhere in this issue, the Seattle marijuana initiative also appears unlikely to make it onto the ballot. The CNDP "treatment not jail" initiative in Ohio remains on track, as do the pair of independent South Dakota initiatives, one on industrial hemp and one on whether defendants will be allowed to argue the merits and applicability of the law in criminal cases. Nevada's marijuana reform initiative is also a go, as is a highly cautious treatment not jail initiative in Washington, DC and a decrim measure in Arizona. The DC medical marijuana initiative awaits a ruling on a challenge brought by the Marijuana Policy Project to the improper rejection by the Board of Elections of thousands of valid signatures.

But Michigan and Florida, as well as the failed local initiatives, make clear that drug reform foes are scared and are resorting to any tactics they can to prevent voters from having a chance to change the drug laws. Ain't nothin' fair about that kind of political hardball, and the drug reform movement should respond accordingly.


3. Dance Culture Holds Raves Against RAVE Act -- Techno at the Capitol Last Friday

Opposition to the RAVE Act moved from the halls of Congress to the Capitol grounds September 6, as an estimated 600-800 people danced and politicked against the proposed legislation. Organizers reported that sister events held in New York and Los Angeles the same day drew similar numbers, while no reports were available from San Francisco and Seattle.

The RAVE Act, or S. 2633 would make venue owners and event promoters criminally responsible for drug use occurring at their events. Although the language of the bill specifically targets raves, the bill is so broadly written that it could apply to hemp fests, smoke-ins and other forms of political activity, as well as to commercial activities well beyond the rave scene. While congressional sponsors of the bill, including Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Pat Leahy (D-VT), may have believed they had a "no brainer" measure that no one would oppose, the rave protests last Friday are only the most public manifestation of increasing opposition to the bill.

"The protests went really well," said the Drug Policy Alliance's (http://www.drugpolicy.org) Bill Piper, who is coordinating DPA's campaign from their Washington, DC, office. "Here in Washington we had hundreds of people fill out postcards to Congress, telling them in their own words why the bill must be defeated," he told DRCNet.

"It was great, really impressive," said DJ Chi, who emceed the event as well as performing himself. "The crowd loved it, the audience was captivated, very attentive and open to our message," he told DRCNet. "There were families, there were some older heads, grandparents, and even some tourists stopped by to see what was going on."

Speakers at the Washington rave included Students for Sensible Drug Policy head Sean Heller; Amanda Huie of Buzzlife Productions, one of the District's biggest electronic music promoters; and legendary DC disc-spinner Sam "The Man" Burns. Performers included DJ Simon, DJ Sun, MC Lady J, MC Bushito, Dieselboy, and Switchstance, DJ Chi said.

"Now we need to galvanize the community and take our collective energy and effort to the next level," said DJ Chi, who is involved with Ravers Organized Against the RAVE Act (http://www.rpmonline.org/roar/), one of a number of local groups around the country working to kill the bill. "And the community is very much responding. And it's not just the kids -- a lot of the smaller clubs are really worried -- and people are beginning to understand that this is all intertwined," said DJ Chi. "If clubs start to shut down because of this bill, then everybody loses. Music retailers can't move their equipment, liquor wholesalers can't sell their liquor, promoters are threatened with the loss of their livelihood."

While the DC community gears up to fight the RAVE Act, similar moves are afoot in other cities around the country. "Here in Los Angeles, we had about 600 people turn up for the rave on the front lawn of the Westwood federal building," said Susan Mainzer of the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund (http://www.emdef.org), a DPA spin-off designed to thwart attacks on the electronic music scene and the rave culture. "We had great music and great speakers, incuding Urb magazine publisher Raymond Roker and independent mayoral candidate Francis Dela Veccia, who has always supported the electronic music community," Mainzer told DRCNet. "We probably got about 330 postcards sent to Congress that day," she added.

Opposition to the RAVE Act is embracing both the kids who want to dance and music industry professionals, said Mainzer, although the movement has yet to attract more than nice words from the mainstream music community. "That's dangerous," she said. "They don't understand that they can be targeted, too."

Back on the East Coast, DJ Chi was sounding a similar theme. "I told the crowd that we are the opposition and the only reason this bill has gotten so far is because the opposition is not united," he said. "We are trying to expand our coalition here; we need a reggae band, a rock band. This bill is aimed at the entire music industry."

If the music industry has been largely deaf to the RAVE Act threat, drug reformers and ravers have not -- and they are not limiting their protests to the streets. "We have met with some of the bill's sponsors already and are scheduling meetings with all the cosponsors next week," said DPA's Piper. "We are still lobbying to improve the bill if we can't kill it, and it looks like if the bill is going to move this year, it will happen before the fall recess in late October. Time is running out."

(See http://www.drcnet.org/wol/252.html#raveact for previous DRCNet coverage of the RAVE Act.)


4. Montana Activists Hold First Drug Policy Summit

The University of Montana in Missoula was the site of Montana drug reformers' first statewide Drug Policy Summit last Thursday and Friday. Marijuana activists, harm reductionists, concerned citizens and university students gathered over two evenings to hear a plethora of local and national drug reformers denounce the war on drugs and call on local activists to open a new battlefront in Big Sky country. On Saturday, summiteers joined hundreds of other attendees in a day-long celebration of cannabis culture at the Missoula Hempfest in downtown's Caras Park.

Co-organized by Montana NORML (http://www.montananorml.org) head John Masterson and Missoula nurse Frances DeForrest, the event introduced Montana audiences to nationally known drug reformers including Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy, Cliff Thornton of Efficacy, and Ron Mann, director of "Grass," the widely acclaimed documentary about the criminalization of marijuana. Other national figures with local or regional links, including "Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure" author Dan Baum, a former Missoulian, Chuck Armsbury and Nora Callahan of the nearby (in Western terms) November Coalition, and University of Montana researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, also addressed the summit, as did local activists such as Masterson, and Montana ACLU head John Smith.

Attendance at the summit was about 75 people on the first night and more than a hundred on the second night, which included a screening of Mann's film, "Grass."

"We think the summit was an absolute success," Masterson told DRCNet. "We had close to a hundred people sign up on our list of people who wanted to actively participate in drug reform in Montana. That's important. We're thrilled at having met so many students who are ready to get active."

The budding activists certainly drew inspiration from the speakers, as well as being challenged to locate their activism in a broader political context. Thornton, who traveled from Connecticut to address the summit, challenged the audience to confront the racism that permeates the war on drugs. "It's easier for white people to believe that Elvis is alive than to recognize that racism still exists in this country," he said. While noting that drug laws are not racist on their face, Thornton said, "White America focuses on the intent of the law, but black America looks at the effect."

Dan Baum called for "class consciousness," a term usually verboten in US political discourse, and for drug reformers to ally themselves with other progressive movements. "We are being raped" by the drug enforcers, Baum said. "I despair when I see anti-drug war people focus exclusively on drugs. Seattle [the 1999 World Trade Organization disorders] was our fight, the environment is our fight, social justice is our fight. We need a broader analysis," he told the audience.

Masterson told DRCNet the summit aimed to broaden the drug reform movement in Montana and bring it to a mainstream audience, but admitted that the effort was less than completely successful. "We were aiming at folks like the PTA or the city council, but if they were there, they must have been in disguise," he said. "While we're thrilled to have contacted and educated scores of students, it is disappointing that more Missoulians didn't show up to dialogue with us about this failed drug war. Maybe next year."

By next year, Missoulians could have more reason to confront drug policy issues, Masterson said. "We are having our first Grizzly (University of Montana) NORML meeting next week, and we are considering a local initiative in either Missoula or Missoula County that would establish prosecutorial guidelines telling law enforcement and the courts that marijuana crimes should only be prosecuted under certain conditions, such as if a minor is involved or it the quantities suggest drug trafficking," he explained. "The vast majority of marijuana use would then be outside the purview of law enforcement."

In his address to the summit, Masterson reviewed the most recent poll (from 1998) on Montanans' attitude toward drug reform, telling the audience that medical marijuana and industrial hemp had 70% support and half of Montanans surveyed would support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol or tobacco. In a telling indication of the libertarian conservative ethos that pervades much of the West, 2% of respondents objected to regulating and taxing pot on the grounds that they wanted "no new taxes."

Masterson had only praise for the national reformers that attended -- and some advice for other local activists interested in doing something similar. "Thanks to Nora Callahan for suggesting I call Kevin Zeese," he said. "I pretty much just cold called him and asked if he could come, and he said, 'What day?' He turned out to be a real linchpin in this thing, and I feel really fortunate to have spent some time with him and discussed the future of drug reform in Montana. We basically cold called everyone and got a real good response. If you want to do something similar, don't be shy about picking up the phone."

The primary focus in Montana will be marijuana reform, Masterson said. "The Montana agenda is to protect those who use marijuana, but we support the efforts of the harm reduction community and would love to work with them on broader reform issues," he said.

But in the meantime, in Montana as elsewhere, there is evidence of a divide between Cannabis Nation and users of other drugs. Hempfest visitors talking about methamphetamine too often sounded more like Asa Hutchinson than Kevin Zeese. The November Coalition, which has a petition drive focused on getting all drug war prisoners out from behind bars, has more than once heard versions of the following dialogue:

"Is this just for pot prisoners?" "No." "Then I won't sign."

Oh, Cannabis Nation. When they came for the speedfreaks, I did nothing...


5. Marijuana Reform Party Makes New York Ballot

The New York State Marijuana Reform Party (http://www.MarijuanaReform.org) has qualified for the November ballot. MRP is running candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, but its primary goal this year is to exceed 50,000 votes, which would give the party automatic ballot presence for the next four years. A similar effort in 1998 garnered only 25,000 votes for MRP gubernatorial candidate and party head Tom Leighton, but MRP spokesmen told DRCNet they think they can break the barrier this time around.

"We can poll less than 1% of all voters and still get the 50,000 votes we need to win a ballot line for the next four years," said an excited Thomas J. Hillgardner, MRP candidate for lieutenant governor. "All times for challenges to our petition have passed and the MRP awaits formal certification by the State Board of Elections later this month," said Hillgardner.

"We have a good chance to win a ballot line for the next four years," added Leighton. "I'm increasingly confident we can do it, given the dynamic we see coming together for us. One of the keys to our success is media coverage, and we have recently had the unexpected good fortune of getting coverage on rock radio stations around the state," he told DRCNet. "In two weeks this summer, we've had more radio exposure than we had during the entire campaign in '98. If people know we're on the ballot, we can get the votes."

The MRP will largely have to rely on free media coverage, interviews and the like because it is running a low-budget campaign. "We spent $4,000 getting on the ballot," said Leighton, "and we just received a single donation of about that amount, but that doesn't buy a lot of advertising," he said. "We will probably make two campaign swings around the state -- Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse -- and print up as much campaign literature as we can. We'll do some 15-second radio spots if we can raise some more funds," he said.

Drug reform funders are missing a golden opportunity, Leighton said. "New York doesn't have a ballot initiative process, so we see the MRP as a vehicle for bringing New York into the national drug reform movement. Having the MRP on the ballot gives New Yorkers a chance to cast that vote for medical marijuana or for repealing the Rockefeller laws," he said. "This is a tremendous tool for voter education at low cost, and it is all the more urgent in light of the collapse of negotiations on the Rockefeller laws."

But the MRP has gotten "zero support" from the drug reform movement, Leighton said, admitting to some level of frustration. "We have to get voters here organized to get any change," he argued. "The politicians listen to one thing, and that's votes. People are voting for drug reform across the country, and it's important to bring New York into it. It's a good investment."

MRP candidates are emphasizing three planks in the campaign, according to a party press release. Leighton and Hillgardner will call for the immediate rescheduling of marijuana to permit doctors to prescribe it, repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, and lawful cultivation of hemp -- a moved aimed at upstate farmers. But the party also calls for decriminalization of cultivation and possession of marijuana for personal use, no pre-employment drug testing for pot and no loss of federal benefits for minor marijuana offenses.

And decrim is an important issue in New York City, where as far as police harassment of marijuana smokers is concerned, it's still Giuliani time. "NORML spent $300,000 for those ads directed at Mayor Bloomberg, but in his first six months the arrest rate remains the same as under Rudy," said Leighton. "At this rate, we'll have 43,000 marijuana arrests this year, 15% of all arrests in the city, the most frequently charged offense. For a small fraction of that $300,000 we can put the pot leaf on every New York ballot for at least the next four years."


6. Pictures of DRCNet StopTheDrugWar.org Merchandise Now Online

As part of our StopTheDrugWar.org merchandise promotion (t-shirts, mugs and mousepads), DRCNet staffers have personally modeled the items -- with help from staff of SSDP and one cooperative District of Columbia police officer. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to take a look -- you don't have to donate to view the pictures -- though it would be very much appreciated and we very much need your support.

Our new donation form also allows you to order a copy of John Stossel's report on the drug war and legalization for ABC News. You can go on to make a donation or purchase by credit card via our secure transaction server, or you can click through to a PDF copy of the donation form (looks even better) and send your check or money order in by mail. Your donation to DRCNet will support work such as our international anti-prohibition conference series, "Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century." So visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ today, or send your check to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

Please note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which support our lobbying programs, are not tax-deductible. If you need or want a tax deduction, you can also contribute to the DRCNet Foundation, same address. (Make sure to use the correct web form or organizational name on your check.)

Again, please visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to contribute or purchase today! Your donation marks a vote cast for ending drug prohibition in the 21st century -- you are part of making it happen! Thank you for being a part of DRCNet.


7. John Perry Featured on NY1 News Channel

NY1, New York City's popular 24-hour news channel, was one of many media outlets to feature John Perry, and has posted a moving tribute to him on their web site:
http://www.ny1.com/ny/TopStories/SubTopic/index.html?topicintid=1&subtopicintid=1&contentintid=24217

The story concludes with a John Perry quote, explaining why as a civil libertarian he chose to become a police officer: "I wanted to be involved in justice, and helping people to have their rights corrected and protected. I think that, ideally in a free society, the police are real great protectors of individual rights."

Visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/ to read about the John W. Perry Fund, providing scholarships to students losing federal financial aid because of drug convictions. Download a copy of the application packet, make a donation or read more about John Perry. Please spread the word to students, financial aid officers and other interested parties.


8. Urgent: Demand Freedom for the Tulia Victims

(action alert from Common Sense for Drug Policy)

Three years ago in Tulia, Texas, a corrupt drug sting resulted in the arrest of half the town's African American male population overnight. While no drugs, money or guns were found, many were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on the uncorroborated and radically inconsistent testimony of one undercover officer. Thanks to media attention and the Senate race in Texas (the State Attorney General is running for US Senate), the next two months may provide the best opportunity to end the injustice of Tulia. Please take action today to help overturn the illegal convictions. Please contact two people -- the District Attorney of Swisher and Hales counties (where Tulia is located) and the Attorney General of Texas, using the information below.

DA Terry McEachern has been deluged with letters since New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote about Tulia several times, and reportedly he has been shaken by them. Letters to McEachern should be strongly worded, but hate mail is counterproductive. Your letters should make the following points:

  • The Tulia drug prosecutions are an embarrassment to Tulia, to Texas and to the United States. Coleman's actions were well outside the bounds of conventional law enforcement procedure. Anyone can see that an injustice has been done in Tulia.
  • Overturn the Coleman-based Tulia drug convictions immediately. Every day that people stay in prison or sit with felony convictions based on Tom Coleman's testimony is another day of injustice.
  • You must do the right thing and either acknowledge error based on the fact that you relied on a thoroughly unreliable witness in all of these cases, or else give the cases up to the Attorney General's office in the interest of justice.
Send your letter to:
District Attorney Terry D. McEachern
64th and 242nd District Attorney's Office
500 Broadway, Room 300
Plainview, TX 79072-8050
Phone: (806) 291-5245, Fax: (806) 293-9618
Please also write to Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. Points to make in your letter to him include:
  • The investigation you ordered is too little and too late. An investigation is unnecessary when it is now in the public record based on trial and deposition testimony that the only witness in the case is unreliable, uncredible, and completely inconsistent. Tonya White's case was but one demonstration of Coleman fabricating evidence against Tulia residents. Overturn the convictions on the basis of what is already common knowledge, then investigate further to determine if other action is needed.
  • You have the power to make this right, and if you are sincere about administering justice as Texas's chief law enforcement officer, then you must overturn the convictions in these cases. Your recent announcement of a state investigation otherwise appears entirely politically-motivated, particularly since you yourself handed Tom Coleman the "Lawman of the Year" award.
Send your letter to:
John Cornyn
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548
(512) 463-2100, john.cornyn@oag.state.tx.us
Read published columns about Tulia, including Bob Herbert's, at:
http://www.csdp.org/temp/herbert_tulia.doc
http://www.csdp.org/temp/marshall_tulia0802.doc
http://www.csdp.org/temp/navarette_tulia.doc
(Visit http://www.csdp.org to learn more about Common Sense for Drug Policy.)


9. Other Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision

URGENT: Help stop S. 2633, the "Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002" -- call your Senators at (202) 224-3121, visit http://www.emdef.org for information.

Support States' Rights to Medical Marijuana: Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/ to write to Congress today!

Visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to tell Congress to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision in full and let tens of thousands of young people with drug convictions go back to college.


10. Newsbrief: Seattle Marijuana Initiative in Trouble

Seattle's Initiative 75, which would direct the police department to make marijuana offenses "the lowest priority," was dealt a possibly fatal blow on September 6, when a judge rejected backers' efforts to force the city to place it on the ballot. The Sensible Seattle Coalition (http://www.sensibleseattle.org) had handed in some 29,000 signatures, well above the 17,000 required to place a measure on the city ballot, but King County Elections Superintendent Julie Anne Kempf ruled on September 3 that more than 12,000 of the signatures were invalid.

Some signatures were gathered at events such as the Seattle Hempfest that draw large numbers of out-of-towners, Kempf noted. Other signatures were invalidated for being duplicates, being illegible or not having complete addresses.

Sensible Seattle supporters sued the city, claiming it had erroneously tossed out some signatures and had failed to verify the signatures in a timely manner. But King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty rejected the motion, saying it was not clear that the initiative had sufficient valid signatures to warrant placing it on the ballot.

I-75 may be wounded, but it is not yet dead. In rejecting the Sensible Seattle motion, Doerty also ordered the city clerk to send a report on the signatures to the Seattle City Council, which could order the measure placed on the ballot. And Sensible Seattle campaign manager Dominic Holden told the Seattle Times the coalition would continue to gather signatures in an effort to qualify in time for the November ballot.


11. Newsbrief: Canadian Justice Minister Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization Next Year, Rejects Legalization

[Editor's note: Despite inadvertently referring to Canada's leader as "Premier Jacques Chretien" last week, DRCNet knows full well that he is Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Our apologies to our northern brethren.]

Responding to last week's release of the Canadian Senate panel report calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana (), Justice Minister Maurice Cauchon told reporters September 5 that Canada's pot laws are senseless and should be liberalized, but that marijuana should not be made legal.

"[Decriminalization] probably would be feasible as a first step," said Cauchon, who had made similar remarks in July, possibly attempting to preempt the Senate report's expected call for legalization (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/246.html#mauricecauchon). "I feel there is strong support" for decriminalization, Cauchon said. "To keep the law the way it is now doesn't make any sense to me in the year 2002."

But he said the Senate panel call for legalization went too far. "The legislation actually is a sort of disconnect with Canadian reality," he claimed. He also said international treaties would prevent Canada from moving to legalize the weed. "The notion of legalizing marijuana is not possible from an international point of view," he said.

[Editor's note: This is false for at least two reasons. First, it ignores the option of amending the drug treaties by international agreement -- a step called for by the Senate panel. Second, it ignores the option that Canada and any nation has of giving notice and withdrawing from the treaty. Politics is one thing, but Canada has perfectly legal options for legalizing marijuana or any drug without violating its treaty agreements.]

Cauchon added that he is awaiting the report of the House committee studying the non-medical use of drugs before moving toward a new policy. That report is due in November. After that, Cauchon told reporters, he will move quickly to implement decrim, possibly as early as the beginning of next year.


12. Newsbrief: Noelle Bush in Trouble Again

Noelle Bush, the 25-year-old daughter of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and niece of President George W. Bush, was found with crack cocaine while staying at a drug rehab center where she was attempting to avoid jail time over a January incident in which she tried to obtain the prescription tranquilizer Xanax with a forged prescription.

Police were called to the Center for Drug Free Living in Orlando after staff members found a "white, rocklike substance" in her shoe, the Associated Press reported. The 0.2 gram rock tested positive for cocaine, but although possession of any amount of cocaine is a felony in Florida, young Bush was not arrested. According to the AP, staff members at the center refused to cooperate with police, saying they wished to handle the matter in house. Police said an investigation is continuing, but had not yet gotten around to actually interviewing the only suspect, Noelle Bush.

This week's incident is the second time Noelle Bush has fallen off the wagon since she went into treatment after her January arrest. Two months ago, Bush was jailed for three days by her drug court judge after workers at the treatment center found her carrying prescription pills that did not belong to her. A spokesman for the court told the AP that Bush could be sentenced to more jail time for violating the terms of her agreement, and if she is charged with drug possession, she could be kicked out of the program and then face prison time for her original charge as well as this week's bust.

Gov. Bush had little to say. "This is a private issue as it relates to my daughter and myself and my wife," he told the AP. "The road to recovery is a rocky one for a lot of people that have this kind of problem."

[Editor's note: DRCNet has no wish for Noelle Bush to pay for the sins of the father. Instead, we would like to see Gov. Bush expand his vision of the difficulty of recovery to include the thousands of drug court rejects, parole violators and other drug offenders who currently reside in Florida's prisons under his authority. In the meantime, no privacy for hypocrites.]


13. Newsbrief: Afghan Marijuana Trade Back in Business

The legendary Afghani strains of cannabis are about to flower again in the mountains of the Hindu Kush and the plains of Mazar-e-Sharif, the Associated Press reported this week. Afghanistan is the home of the indica cultivars that form the backbone of most of the hybrid strains now producing the world's most potent and sought after weed. Marijuana cultivation was banned under the Taliban, but Afghani peasants have returned to the lucrative trade once again.

"Fields of sturdy marijuana plants, some nearly seven feet tall, line part of the main road leading west from Mazar-e-Sharif, the biggest city in northern Afghanistan," the AP reported, adding that the crop would likely go untouched because the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai and the United Nations are concentrating on opium eradication, though to little effect (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/251.html#secondcrop).

The Afghan government has warned peasants not to plant cannabis, but the peasants have other imperatives. "Maybe it isn't good for our people, but we have to do it because of our economic problems," one farmer in the village of Khana Abad told the AP, adding that he had invested heavily in his plot prior to the warnings.

"The farmers have planted this stuff like smugglers," complained Saheed Azizullah Hashmi, head of the Balkh province agriculture department. "We don't know how much there is out there." Hashmi also attempted to link cannabis to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the AP gently scoffed, noting that "marijuana plants thrived well before they held sway over much of Afghanistan, and local commanders with large land holdings reportedly benefit from its cultivation."

Indeed, Balkh province is under the rule of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the burly warlord accused of numerous war crimes over the past decades who is now a high-ranking member of the US-backed Karzai government.

"When we're ready to sell, people in big cars will come from the bazaar in town," another farmer told the AP. "We don't know who they are, we just want the money."

While Afghani cannabis may be best known in US marijuana circles for its narcotic indica high, most Afghan cannabis is made into hashish and serves both local markets and weed-lovers from Central Asia to Western Europe.


14. Newsbrief: Missouri Man Takes Pot Shots at Dope Chopper

A Missouri National Guard helicopter on a marijuana eradication mission in the southwest Missouri Ozarks was brought down by gunfire on September 3. The chopper was disabled, but the pilot brought it down safely and neither he nor his passengers were injured.

Missouri police charged Jimmy Leroy Shriver with twice shooting at the copter as it flew over his property. A search of his property turned up no drugs, but two stolen shotguns. He was also charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 1998.

It has not been a good year for pot choppers in Missouri. Early last month, a Missouri Highway Patrol helicopter scouting for marijuana crashed near Springfield's Downtown Airport. The two occupants also escaped serious injury, but the helicopter was totaled.


15. Newsbrief: Oregon Drug Task Force Wants Tax Hike to Fund Operations

The asset forfeiture reform initiative passed by Oregon voters in 2000 is causing financial problems for the state's 25 multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, and one of them, the South Coast Interagency Narcotics Team, will ask Coos County voters this November to approve a tax increase to fund its operations, the Oregonian (Portland) reported on Saturday. The task force may have to shut down or sharply scale back by next spring if the tax measure is not approved, said team coordinator Sgt. Dan Looney of the Coos County Sheriff's Department.

The South Coast task force isn't the only one facing problems. According to the Oregonian, Portland's Regional Organized Crime Narcotics Agency is also running out of money. The task force can operate until June 2003, "and then we'll have to make tough management decisions," said Multnomah County (Portland) District Attorney Michael Schrunk.

A 1989 asset forfeiture law allowed police to use seized cash and goods to finance their operations, but after voters approved reform in 2000, that money was largely directed to drug treatment. After law enforcement bellowed loudly, the Oregon legislature last year approved a bill that directed 40% of seizure to police and prosecutors. But that isn't enough for the task forces.

The Coos County ballot measure seeks to raise $250,000 for the drug squad, which has a budget this year of $319,000. The tax increase would come to $12.18 for an average Coos County home valued at $87,000.


16. Newsbrief: Tennessee Drug Task Force Director Fired for Sampling Evidence Stash

Tennessee's 10th Judicial Drug Task Force, centered in Cleveland, is looking for a new director this week. Kenneth Don Wilson, who headed the task force since 1999, was fired by the group's oversight board on September 4 after being arrested for cocaine possession earlier in the week. Wilson is free on a $2,000 bond after his arrest in McMinn County.

The arrest came after an unnamed informant told officials in the McMinn County District Attorney's office that drugs could be missing from the task force's Charleston evidence storage locker. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officers went to Wilson's home to investigate and found cocaine after he gave them permission to search. McMinn County District Attorney Jerry Estes told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that he had informed state investigators that he had "learned that evidence might be missing from the drug task force's evidence lockup."

Task force overseers voted to replace Wilson with Bradley County Deputy Sheriff Jack Damuth. Although Damuth had been a Bradley County deputy for only two weeks, he had "considerable experience and had a 25-year career in the US military's Special Forces," according to one of the overseers.


17. Web Scan: WAMM, State on Eradication, Deborah Small, DEA Museum, Canada, California Student Survey, The Onion

Photographs from the DEA raid of the WAMM medical marijuana clinic in Santa Cruz:
http://www.marijuana-art.com/ARaid2.html

The State Department's infamous report misrepresent EPA's findings on "Aerial Eradication of Illicit Coca in Colombia":
http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/rpt/aeicc/

Deborah Small of Drug Policy Alliance discusses the racial impact of the war on drugs and the upcoming "Breaking the Chains" conference in Los Angeles later this month: Visit http://www.breakingthechains.info and click on "listen to the promo" to hear the recording.

Bill Berkowitz comments on the DEA Museum's misleading new exhibit, "Target America: Traffickers, Terrorists & You," unveiled just in time for September 11:
http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=13778

What's Up In Canada, Eh? -- Matt Elrod discusses the implications for Canada before and after the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs Report calling for marijuana legalization:
http://www.drugsense.org/dsw/2002/ds02.n266.html#sec5

Ninth Biennial California Student Survey:
http://www.ag.ca.gov/cvpc/css.html

The Onion parody newspaper comments on the Canada Senate Committee Report:
http://www.theonion.com/onion3833/wdyt_3833.html


18. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to calendar@drcnet.org.)

September 14, 2:00-10:00pm, Eau Claire, WI, Autumn Groove," fundraising music festival hosted by University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire Students for Sensible Drug Policy. At Mt. Simon Park, bands, food and speakers, visit http://www.AutumnGroove.com for further information.

September 17-18, Vancouver, BC, Canada, "Keeping the Door Open: Saving Money, Saving Lives," two-day symposium on drug policy reform and harm reduction. Featured speakers include Patrick Basham of the CATO institute, Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin of Canada's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs and British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall. Visit http://www.keepingthedooropen.com or e-mail info@kaiserfoundation.ca for further information.

September 25, 6:30-8:30pm, New York, NY, Speak Out on the Rockefeller Drug Laws, sponsored by JusticeWorks Community and the Seven Neighborhood Action Partnership. At Bethel Assembly Gospel Church, 2-26 East 120th St. and Madison Ave., contact Ranja Basu and Jessica Dias at (212) 348-8142 or snapjwc@hotmail.com for further information.

September 26, Eugene, OR, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the Wow Hall, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit http://www.adopedealer.com for further information.

September 26-28, Los Angeles, CA, "Breaking the Chains: People of Color and the War on Drugs." Conference by the Drug Policy Alliance, e-mail conference@drugpolicy.org to be placed on mailing list for when details become available.

September 27, nationwide, "National Day of Action" against Plan Colombia, sponsored by the National Mobilization on Colombia. Visit http://www.colombiamobilization.org for further information.

September 28, Palo Alto, CA, "Putting the Government on Trial," a Continuing Legal Education Seminar hosted by the Fully Informed Jury Association. Nine speakers will address various legal defense issues related to jury nullification, including jury empowerment, opening and closing statements and strategies for defense attorneys. Visit http://www.fija.org or contact Iloilo Marguerite Jones at (406) 442-1388 or iloilojones@earthlink.net.

September 29, sunset, nationwide vigil for medical marijuana. Contact info@safeaccessnow.org or (510) 486-8083 or visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org for further information.

September 30-October 1, Washington, DC, "National Symposium on Felony Disenfranchisement," conference sponsored by The Sentencing Project. Admission free, advance registration required, visit http://www.sentencingproject.org or call (202) 628-0871 for further information.

October 1, 7:00pm, Washington, DC "Treatment Instead of Jail," movie and panel discussion by the DC Campaign for Treatment (Measure 62) in conjunction with the Independent Media Center, and additional five-minute film on drug reform measures and activities. At Visions Cinema, 1927 Florida Ave., visit http://www.dcmeasure62.com for further information.

October 1-6, Negril, Jamaica, "Mind States Jamaica," seminar featuring speakers such as Richard Glen Boire, Earth Erowid, Fire Erowid, Alex Grey, Jon Hanna, Stephen Kent, Jonathan Ott, Mark Pesce, Ann Shulgin and Sasha Shulgin. Registration $1,300 through September 15, includes admission, double occupancy accommodations, meals and drinks. Contact mindstates@prodigy.net or visit http://www.erowid.org/mindstates/ for further information.

October 7-9, San Diego, CA, "Inside-Out: Fostering Healthy Outcomes for the Incarcerated and Their Families." Contact Stacey Shank of Centerforce at (559) 241-6162 for information. October 19, Portland, OR, "PottyMouth Comedy Competition: Flushing Away the DEA," $5,000 first prize. Visit http://www.jeffandtracy.com or call (503) 605-5182 for info.

October 10, 5:00pm, Higganum, CT, Community Forum on the "War on Drugs." Featuring Cliff Thornton and Adam Hurter of Efficacy, at the gazebo in town center, contact Kevin at (860) 345-3387 or treelover420x@aol.com for further information.

October 25-29, Albuquerque, NM, "International Conference on Altered States of Consciousness." At the Crowne Plaza Pyramid, visit http://www.bizspirit.com/alteredstates/aspeakers.html for further information.

October 27, 10:00am-4:00pm, London, England, "A Modern Inquisition -- the General Medical Council," conference on the targeting of addiction practitioners by British regulatory authorities, featuring Dr. John Marks, Prof. Arnold Trebach, an unidentified senior British politician and others. Sponsored by the Health and Law Foundation, at the University of London Union, Malet Street, call (0)20 7274 5008 or e-mail jcs@worldhealth-ol.com for information or to register.

November 2, Davis, CA, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the Varsity Theater, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit http://www.adopedealer.com for further information.

November 6-8, 2002, St. Louis, MO, "2nd North American Conference on Fathers Behind Bars and on the Street." Call (434) 589-3036, e-mail fcn@fcnetwork.org or visit http://www.fcnetwork.org for information.

November 8-10, Anaheim, CA, combined national conference of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project. Early bird registration $150, $45 for students with financial need, visit http://www.mpp.org/conference/ for further information.

November 9, Anaheim, CA, Bill Maher benefit show for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project. Admission $50, or $1,000 VIP package including front-row seat and private reception with Bill Maher. Visit http://www.mpp.org/conference/ for further information.

November 9-10, 10:00am-6:00pm, London, England, European Conference of The Libertarian International and Libertarian Alliance. At the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, admission £75.00 ($111 or 115 EURO), for information contact Dr. Chris Tame at +020 7821 5502 or e-mail admin@libertarian.co.uk.

November 22-24, Amsterdam, Netherlands, "Psychoactivity III," speakers including Arno Adelaars, Hans Bogers, Jace Callaway PhD, Hilario Chiriap, Piers Gibbon, Luis Eduardo Luna PhD, Dr. phil. Claudia Mueller-Ebeling. Visit http://www.psychoactivity.org for further information.

November 22-24, Toronto, ON, Canada, Canadian Harm Reduction Conference, conference for current and former drug users, peer educators and front line workers to respond to critical and emerging issues through skills building and education, policy development and networking. Sponsored by the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, visit http://www.canadianharmreduction.com for further information.

December 1-4, Seattle, WA, "Taking Drug Users Seriously," Fourth National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General. For information, e-mail conference@harmreduction.org, visit http://www.harmreduction.org or call (212) 213-6376.

April 6-10, 2003, Chiangmai, Thailand, "Strengthening Partnerships for a Safer Future," 14th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm, sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Coalition in partnership with the Asian Harm Reduction Network. For further information, visit http://www.ihrc2003.net or contact conference@ihrc2003.net or (6653) 223624, 894112 x102.


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