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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #303, 9/19/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Don't Stop There
  2. A Clean, Well-Lit Place to Shoot Dope: Western Hemisphere's First Government-Approved Safe Injection Site Opens in Vancouver
  3. And Then There Were Four: Canadian Marijuana Possession Laws Crumble
  4. Britain's Pending Cannabis Decrim Will Allow for Some Arrests
  5. More Than Just Memories: Cheryl Miller Memorial Project in DC Next Week
  6. Newsbrief: Seattle Voters Tell Police to Make Marijuana Possession Lowest Priority
  7. Newsbrief: Marijuana Legal in Alaska, But Attorney General Orders Cops to Confiscate It, Work with Feds to Build Cases
  8. Newsbrief: Ecstasy Scandal Grows as Second Study Retracted
  9. Newsbrief: Drug Policy Alliance Issues Report on Changes in State Drug Laws
  10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  11. Newsbrief: Reefer Madness in the Heart of Africa
  12. Newsbrief: Campaign Comments -- John Edwards on Industrial Hemp
  13. Newsbrief: Murderous Thai Drug War in Final Drive to be "Drug Free"
  14. Newsbrief: UN Agency Calls for Change in Colombia Drug War Strategy
  15. Current Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion
  16. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  17. Errata: Dutch MedMj, Ecstasy Study Stories Last Two Weeks
  18. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


 
David Borden
1. Editorial: Don't Stop There

David Borden, Executive Director, borden@drcnet.org, 9/19/03

Vancouver's safe injection site -- a facility where users can inject in safety from police arrest and the street's many other ardors, with access to public health services -- is a welcome first of its kind on the continent. But supporters have rightly pointed out dangers built into the situation that could threaten its success and continuation even before it has proved itself:

Health Canada has overregulated the project, which risks alienating or frightening its intended clients away. Vancouver police have promised a lot of attention -- they say they want to make it work, and perhaps they do -- but early comments indicate a less than complete understanding. And any problem or incident with the site or program -- or anything that media or political opponents can misrepresent as such -- could potentially bring the whole thing down, as could a shift in the city's, province's or nation's future political landscape.

One more reason, then, not to stop with the safe injection site. Harm reduction programs, partial reforms to sentencing or drug policy, all of these are deeply vulnerable to sudden attack and setbacks, so long as drugs themselves remain illegal. In 1970, federal mandatory minimum sentences in the form of the Boggs Laws were repealed through bipartisan consensus, only to abruptly come back 16 years later after a college basketball star overdosed on cocaine. Britain's successful heroin maintenance programs, including the famous Liverpool clinic reported on by Sixty Minutes, ended when a conservative administration decided not to fund them in a country where health services are provided by the federal government. A study would easily find copious examples of positive change turned back, at all levels of government.

In a society frightened by drugs and convinced that prohibition is the way to handle them, progress is unstable. There are too many vested interests, too many politicians, too many well meaning but frightened people too ready to overreact, too many ways that drugs and drug problems can be misunderstood or taken out of context or proportion. The only politically, reasonably stable situation in drug policy reform will be one in which drugs are legal and government is not expected to hunt down, punish and control its sellers and users beyond some reasonable level of regulation; and in which people understand intuitively that legalization was a necessary response to the failure of drug prohibition, as with the legalization of alcohol in the 1930s.

This doesn't mean, of course, that all the good partial changes being worked on shouldn't be. Medical marijuana, sentencing reform, harm reduction, these and many other efforts are helping to save lives and end injustice, and are slowly setting drug politics on a better track. But if it stops there; if the end point of the encouraging developments of the past 10 years is a "kinder, gentler" version of prohibition, but still prohibition, then a future return to the drug war and the appalling suffering and violence attending its current form will be inevitable.

One more reason, then, not to stop at a "kinder, gentler" prohibition. The not-so-noble, 90-year experiment must end, and end in full.


2. A Clean, Well-Lit Place to Shoot Dope: Western Hemisphere's First Government-Approved Safe Injection Site Opens in Vancouver

Members of the Vancouver, British Columbia, political elite mingled with hard core drug users Monday to mark the opening of the first officially-sanctioned safe injection site (SIS) for injection drug users in the Western Hemisphere. Similar sites, based on the tenets of the harm reduction approach to drug use, were pioneered in Germany in the early 1990s and have since begun to be accepted across Europe as an effective means for reducing drug overdoses and HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C infection rates among drug users.

image courtesy
Health Canada
The opening marks another step in Vancouver's slow progress in implementing the city's much vaunted 2001 "Four Pillars" plan to deal with drug use in the Downtown Eastside, a sleazy corridor of single room occupancy hotels, cheap bars, ill-stocked convenience stores, and wide-open drug markets that is home to nearly 50,000 residents. Nearly one out of ten of them is shooting dope, according to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which will operate the SIS, or, as the authority likes to refer to it, the "supervised injection site." With its population of drug users and sellers, chronic alcoholics (Indians are conspicuous drunks here), street-walkers and other hustlers, the mentally and physically disabled, and yes, some perfectly normal people, the Downtown Eastside is like skid row on drugs.

The Four Pillars plan -- prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction -- foresaw the need for an SIS, but unlike the other pillars, law enforcement in particular, the harm reduction component, or at least the SIS, was slow in coming. Cobbled together by city, provincial, and federal officials with considerable input from the citizenry, including the Downtown Eastside's remarkably well-organized drug users, the plan aims at reducing drug overdose deaths and the spread of infectious disease, as well as the criminality and quality of life problems generated by drug use under prohibition. But funding questions and bureaucratic requirements stalled the promised SIS.

The logjam began breaking apart this summer, not long after Downtown Eastside drug users spearheaded by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (http://www.vandu.org), infuriated by a sudden, massive police crackdown on the area beginning in April (and still underway), opened their own, non-sanctioned SIS at 327 Carrall Street. By Monday, it was time for the grand opening of the official SIS.

Mayor Larry Campbell, the former city coroner who was elected on a pledge to actually implement the Four Pillars plan, was there in front of the gleaming, freshly-renovated SIS to be known as InSite at 139 East Hastings Street, the neighborhood's main drag. So was his predecessor, former Mayor Philip Owen, whose leadership helped bring the plan into existence, as well as assorted other political luminaries.

"The first thing that went through my head is the huge number of people that have died and the number that I saw and had to deal with their families," said Campbell in remarks marking the occasion. The SIS will not end drug addiction, he added, but it will quickly make a difference. "Most importantly, we won't have to take people out of these hotels time and time again."

At least 37 people have died from overdoses in Vancouver so far this year, and the number of overdose deaths in the last decade is estimated at somewhere around 800 by the health authority. And Vancouverites continue to die of AIDS at rate of about 60 per year (from all causes), while, according to the Vancouver Injection Drug User Study, 95% of its subjects are Hep C positive.

Libby Davies, MP
Libby Davies, MP

Member of Parliament Libby Davies, who represents a Vancouver constituency, was in Ottawa Monday, but told DRCNet it was a good day for her. "I'd been advocating for a safe injection since I was first elected," she said. "I was the first elected official to come out, so I am very glad today. It's been a long time coming. The first barrier was the attitude that this is enabling drug use in the neighborhood," she explained. "It was controversial, but the community ended up supporting it. Then it was a matter of pushing the federal government to agree it was an essential public health measure. I raised the issue in the House, I lobbied health ministers. It is a life-saving measure."

The Hastings Street SIS, which just completed a $900,000 renovation, is a clean, brightly lit facility lined on one side by mirrored booths where users can inject drugs under medical supervision. As Vancouver Coastal Health puts it: "Clients will be assessed and led to a 12-seat injection room where they can inject their own drugs under the supervision of trained health care staff. They will have access to clean injection equipment such as spoons, tourniquets and water, aimed at reducing the spread of infectious diseases. After injecting, they will move to a post-injection room where, if appropriate, staff can connect clients with other on-site services such as primary care for the treatment of wound and other infections; addiction counseling and peer support; and referral to treatment services."

The SIS, which will be open from 10:00am to 4:00am seven days a week, will be staffed by 16 registered nurses, four alcohol and drug counselors, and peer staff from the needle user community. Addiction counselors and physicians will be available on an on-call basis. Health Canada and the government of British Columbia have kicked in nearly $3 million to cover costs this year. The health authority estimates the SIS will soon be handling 800 injections per day.

"We are quite hopeful that this type of intervention will have quite a positive impact in reducing HIV infection rates in the injection drug user community," said Steven Smith of AIDS Vancouver, an agency that works to reduce the disease's spread and impact. "Vancouver is notorious for having the highest rate of infection for any city in the developed world," he told DRCNet. "We know we have a problem, and harm reduction strategies like this are a tangible way of reducing the harm associated with injection drug use. We hope lots of people will use the site as a way to connect with treatment and other services."

"This is a huge political victory," said Anne Livingston, VANDU's executive director and a constant thorn in the side of slow-moving officialdom. "A lot of credit goes to VANDU members and drug users on the street who kept the pressure up when others were not so passionate," she told DRCNet.

So far, so good, but tensions remain between the hard drug community and the police, and the Downtown Eastsiders are cautious about Vancouver Costal Health as well, according to Livingston. "The police have done nothing to let us trust them, especially since they dropped 55 officers on our heads in April. We have always been completely transparent with them, but they seem to operate in complete isolation," she said. "We intend to watch them closely."

And the police will be looking right back. According to Vancouver Police Department media relations specialist Constable Anne Drennan, eight officers have been assigned to work nearby to deal with issues related to the site. The department is behind the SIS, she told DRCNet. "Our intention is to facilitate the use of the supervised injection site as much as possible," Drennan said. "We want this to succeed, contrary to what some people might say. Vancouver adopted the Four Pillars approach, and we agreed some time ago that this was the best approach to take."

Vancouver police will not arrest people for possession of heroin or cocaine within a four-block radius of the site, Drennan said, "but we will not tolerate drug trafficking outside the site. If we come across people near the site who we become aware are carrying heroin or cocaine and intend to inject, we will direct them to the site. We will only arrest for simple possession if there is some other crime being committed," she said.

Livingston was skeptical. "So now people can have their drugs, but they just can't buy them? You're safe within the four blocks, but now you have to go six blocks to score?" she asked. "The police haven't thought this through. Arresting dealers isn't going to help; they are like the pharmacy for addicted people. In Europe they simply leave certain dealers alone to avoid these problems. The police say they want this to work, but they have a huge conflict of interest."

VANDU is also concerned about the quintessentially Canadian impulse to codify and regulate all endeavors, as manifested in the guidelines for the site. "The Health Canada guidelines have created a sort of over-the-top, hyper-medicalized site with over 40 employees," said Livingston. "They ignored us through the AIDS epidemic, the Hep C epidemic, the crack epidemic, the overdose epidemic. We fought like hell to finally get this, and they create guidelines so restrictive they could cause this place to fail. What we need is a site that works, not one that necessarily fits the guidelines. The site is meant to stop the spread of disease and prevent overdoses, not meet police goals or bureaucratic guidelines."

The guidelines aren't so onerous, responded Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Vivian Zanocco. "The guidelines require that people register and provide an address, that people not share drugs, that they cannot inject someone else, things like that," she told DRCNet. "The point is to make the site a safe experience for everyone."

Livingston and VANDU and the users they represent, while skeptical, are determined to make it work. "While this is a victory, it could well prompt a backlash," she said. "Some people think it should be shut down right now. Your drug czar has already been up criticizing it. The drug warriors badly want to see this thing fail, so they can document the failure and say 'this doesn't work.'"

MP Davies agreed with VANDU's Livingston on both counts. "One thing we have to watch out for is that there will be a real media spotlight on this," she said. "If anything goes wrong, they'll get nailed. Likewise, I am also concerned that Health Canada not impose guidelines that drive people away."

But with the hemisphere's first safe injection site now open for business, the weight of the city, provincial, and national governments behind it, and ever vigilant activists like the VANDU people keeping a jaundiced eye on officialdom, it won't fail for lack of trying.


3. And Then There Were Four: Canadian Marijuana Possession Laws Crumble

On September 4, British Columbia became the fourth Canadian province where a court has ruled that there is no law against marijuana possession. The ruling by a BC provincial court judge is not binding, but follows in the steps of similar rulings in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Those rulings, which are binding, were in turn based on a 2000 Ontario Court of Appeals decision invalidating the federal marijuana law because it did not provide for access to medical marijuana. The Ontario court gave parliament one year to remedy the law. Parliament has not yet done so. [In a feeble attempt to get around the ruling, Health Canada created Medical Marijuana Access Regulations one day before the one-year grace period ended, but Ontario and BC courts have held that regulatory remedies were insufficient.]

In making his ruling, Provincial Court Judge Patrick Chen declared that there is no law prohibiting marijuana possession. "Once invalid, [the law banning marijuana possession] became a nullity and could not be resuscitated, it could only be re-enacted," Chen wrote in a 29-page opinion. "As a result, there was no longer any prohibition or penalty... for simple possession of marijuana. It follows, therefore, there is no offence known to law at this time for simple possession of marijuana."

The BC court decision further clouds an already confusing situation when it comes to marijuana possession in Canada. While four provinces have held the marijuana possession law null and void, courts in two other provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, have found the opposite. Similarly while Judge Chen threw out the law, two other BC provincial judges have let it stand. And the BC Supreme Court has upheld the law in a case that is now on appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a marijuana decriminalization bill promoted by the ruling Liberal Party molders in parliament.

"This ruling just creates more confusion," said Vancouver attorney John Conroy, who is arguing one of the Supreme Court cases. "This is just the opinion of one provincial court judge. While other provincial court judges have upheld the law, Chen applied the Ontario Court of Appeals ruling and found it persuasive," he told DRCNet. "There will be other judges who follow, but they are not bound by this ruling. To settle this in BC, the crown will hopefully appeal to the BC Supreme Court. If that court agrees with Judge Chen, then it will be binding on all judges in the province."

As for pot smokers who want to try their luck, Conroy advised caution. "This opinion won't stop the police from charging you. You are taking a risk if the ruling is not upheld."

Police in Vancouver, BC's largest city are not making any changes just yet, said Constable Anne Drennan, a Vancouver Police public affairs officer. "This ruling is not binding and has no impact on police practices," she told DRCNet. Not that it would matter much anyway, Drennan claimed. "In Vancouver, we very rarely arrest for simple possession of marijuana. There would have to be exigent circumstances."

For Vancouver Member of Parliament Libby Davies, whether the ruling is binding is not the key issue. "This most recent case is just a further indication that Canada's current drug policies are ridiculous, especially around marijuana," she told DRCNet. "This decision is yet another affirmation that the courts and the people are saying the current drug laws don't help anyone. They just turn poor drug users into criminals. These cases are part of a broader trend -- whether it's the drug laws or same-sex marriage, people are tired of waiting for action and are taking the government to court."

Davies served on last year's parliamentary committee on drugs, which recommended decriminalization of marijuana, but finds herself more in tune with the Canadian Senate special committee on drugs, which called for outright legalization. "Prohibition just ends up creating more problems than the drugs themselves," she said. "I am not a big fan of drugs, but if people are going to use, we would be far better off with realistic education and addressing health and safety issues. You have to remember that a substance's legality is not what determines use levels."

As for the legal confusion, attorney Conroy said that the Canadian Supreme Court is hearing appeals in the cases of David Malmo-Levine and Victor Eugene Caine, and a companion case from Ontario. All were found guilty of possession by lower courts. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the cases in May, and a decision is pending.

To read Judge Chen's decision in Regina v. Kurtis Lee Masse, visit http://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/judgments/pc/2003/03/p03%5F0328.htm.


4. Britain's Pending Cannabis Decrim Will Allow for Some Arrests

The British government's glacially-paced reclassification of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug, now expected to take place in January, will allow police officers to make arrests for possession in some circumstances. According to guidelines for the new regime developed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (http://www.acpo.police.uk), marijuana possession "will not ordinarily be an arrestable offense," but there are significant exceptions:

  • Smoking in public
  • Smoking near schools and playgrounds
  • Repeat offenses
  • "Creating fear of a public disorder"
"The new guidance recommends that there should be a presumption against arrest," said Andy Hayman, Chief Constable for the Norfolk Police, who drafted the guidelines. "In practice, this means that in the majority of cases officers will issue a warning and confiscate the drug. That said, despite reclassification, it remains illegal to possess cannabis."

The guidelines follow Home Secretary David Blunkett's decision, replete with much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth, last year to reclassify cannabis. Under the rescheduling, cannabis possessors remain theoretically liable for a two-year prison sentence, down from five years for Class B drugs. But because the government has changed penalties for sales of Class C drugs -- it was only five years -- the maximum 14-year sentence for marijuana distribution remains unchanged.

For British drug reform advocates the changes add up to much of a muchness, to use a twee Britishism, or in plain American, not much of a change at all. "We don't see much difference with the current situation," said Danny Kushlick, executive director of Transform Drug Policy Institute (http://www.tdpi.org.uk), a leading British drug policy nonprofit organization. "What this does is codify police discretion in making arrests. Most police will choose not to arrest people for simple possession," he told DRCNet.

For British Member of the European Parliament Chris Davies (http://www.chrisdaviesmep.org.uk), a stalwart of drug policy reform who once had himself arrested for cannabis possession as an act of civil disobedience, the pending reclassification is a case of one step forward, two steps back. "Hundreds, indeed millions, of people have been arrested, fined or even imprisoned for the possession of cannabis, and these new guidelines show that it has all been a complete folly -- using up police resources and wrecking the lives of many cannabis users who have done no harm to anyone other than themselves," said Davies.

Chris Davies, MEP
But Davies was harshly critical of the stiff penalties for dealing. "These new police guidelines are a small step forward, but the Home Secretary David Blunkett is about to take two steps backwards," he argued. "If dealers are going to face 14 years in prison for the supply of cannabis there is no incentive not to sell other drugs as well. Cannabis users may be pushed into the hands of heroin dealers. Instead the government should be working to break the link between soft and hard drugs," he said.

Transform's Kushlick added that the ACPO guidelines will result in differential enforcement depending on location. "What you will have is postal code punishment," he said. "Your chances of being arrested and prosecuted remain a lottery and continue to depend on which police force is involved."

More importantly for Kushlick, reclassifying marijuana does not address the burning drug issue now facing Britain. "They are concentrating on the wrong drug," he said. "A lot of senior policymakers, police officers, and members of the general public know that the major issues in terms of the collateral damage from prohibition arise from cocaine and heroin, not marijuana. The Home Office says that half of all property crime is related to supporting a crack or heroin habit. Reclassifying cannabis won't make a big difference, and it isn't tackling the major causes of damage associated with prohibition."

Police argue that not arresting cannabis users will free up resources to tackle the trade in hard drugs, but Kushlick isn't buying that argument. "They can focus on heroin or cocaine dealing all they want, but we all know that if you bust dealers, there is always someone to take their place," he said.

When asked why police insisted on retaining the power of arrest for cannabis possession, Kushlick suggested two reasons. "First, there is the classic reactionary position of the police, that we should not roll back laws against something that is banned," he said. "But there is also a more cynical reason. People who are criminals may also be cannabis smokers. To the extent that police can't catch them committing real crimes, they can at least arrest them for their stash, and then they can search their house. They need an arrest to search the house."


5. More Than Just Memories: Cheryl Miller Memorial Project in DC Next Week

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferer and veteran medical marijuana campaigner Cheryl Miller passed away in June, but her husband, friends, and fellow medical marijuana patients are honoring her memory in a way she would have liked. On Monday and Tuesday in Washington, DC, the Cheryl Miller Memorial Project will bring together dozens of patients and supporters from around the country, not only to remember Cheryl, but also to agitate, demonstrate, and lobby Congress and the national Multiple Sclerosis Foundation to move forward on medical marijuana.

Miller and her husband Jim became prominent and highly-visible figures in the medical marijuana movement in recent years. Bed-ridden, Cheryl would have Jim push her bed along highways and into state buildings and congressional offices, as they sought to make politicians confront the human results of their prohibitionist stances on medical marijuana. Former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), one of the most ardent of the congressional drug warriors, once ridiculed Cheryl as "a prop" when she and Jim showed up to challenge him on his position.

But the Millers made sure Barr paid for that remark. Cheryl was featured in television ads sponsored by the Libertarian Party during Barr's 2002 primary re-nomination attempt. "Why do you want to throw me in jail, Bob?" she asked. Barr lost the primary and is no longer a power in the Capitol.

"Bob Barr called her a prop, but he found she was no prop," said Gary Storck, a Wisconsin medical marijuana patient and member of Is My Medicine Legal Yet (http://www.immly.org), a pro-medical marijuana group. "Cheryl was important because she and Jim found so many new and creative ways to go after the medical marijuana issue," he told DRCNet. "She set an example of courage and perseverance. She taught us all a lot."

 
Jim & Cheryl Miller with Gary Storck &
Jacki Rickert, outside Bob Barr's office

Storck is one of a four-person delegation from Wisconsin heading for DC this weekend. "IMMLY founder Jackie Rickert, her care provider, a patient who wants to be known only as Jennifer, and I are all going," he said.

They won't be the only ones. According to Jim Miller, some 20 or so medical marijuana patients, many of them victims of MS, will show up for the memorial, including Michael Krawitz (Virginia), Elvy Musikka (California), John Precup (Ohio), and Jeannelle Bluhm (Oregon). A caravan is coming from New York state, Miller told DRCNet.

The Millers visited Washington nine times to lobby Congress, Miller said, and Cheryl's memorial will be an opportunity for others to do the same. "I saw the power of one patient in those congressional offices," he said. "Bob Barr could not look Cheryl in the eye and say medical marijuana has not been proven to work. More people need to come to Washington," he continued, "and the Cheryl Miller Memorial Project is dedicated to ensuring that people could coalesce to make this trip. It isn't easy to travel when you're sick, or cheap to travel when you have to have a care provider."

The presence of patients on the Hill is crucial, Miller said, but the movement hasn't figured it out. "The reform organizations haven't gotten it done, Miller argued. "We need to make these congressmen look these patients in the eyes. It's very powerful. It opens doors. We are doing this on less money than it takes to buy one of those full-page New York Times ads and much less money than it takes to hold one of those conferences in fancy hotels. We could use more money from the reform community. The community needs to realize this isn't the Make a Wish Foundation, this is about getting change accomplished."

The memorial project is targeting Congress, the Supreme Court and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this time around, Miller said. "We see medical marijuana bills like the Barney Frank bill get introduced each session, but nothing happens, and they are wiped off the table at the end of each session. We are going to give the patients a chance to try to make Congress move on this, because, to be frank, it's not getting done without them," he explained. "We know that a majority voted against us on the DEA funding in California, and we know that we might not win, but if the representatives don't like the bill, they should just vote it down, not keep it from ever getting a hearing or a vote. That is disrespectful, especially to people like Cheryl, who suffered because of this failure to act."

The project will seek to push for action on the Frank bill and enlist new sponsors during visits to congressional offices on Tuesday, Storck said. "First there will be a joint appearance at the office of a particularly bad congressman," he explained, "then the patients will go to lobby various representatives."

The memorial's second target is the National MS Society, a group that has been especially recalcitrant in recognizing the benefits of medical marijuana despite a decade-long struggle by the Millers to educate the society's national office. The MS Information Sourcebook, produced by the National MS Society lays out the official line: "It is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Medical Advisory Board that marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for MS. Long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant serious side effects. In addition, other well-tested, FDA-approved drugs are available, such as baclofen and tizanidine, to reduce spasticity in MS."

"The National MS Society has effectively stalled research on medical marijuana for MS for about 15 years," said Miller. "They're the prime research organization for MS research in all the world, and they say they can't condone medical marijuana because it hasn't been researched. But the British MS Society has done research, and the result is that MS patients there will soon be getting a sublingual cannabis spray."

That spray is being produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. GW has a different take on cannabis for MS than the National MS Society: "Collectively, these studies indicate that cannabis may substantially control the symptoms of MS, including muscle spasms, ataxia, and bladder dysfunction, and may also play a role in halting the progression of the disease," the company wrote after reviewing the literature on MS and medical marijuana.

"Patients will take the opportunity to visit the Washington branch of the National MS Society," said Miller. "They know we're coming, it's not adversarial, but this needs to be done to get through to the national office. Cheryl and I corresponded with them for years and we protested at MS fundraising walks, but couldn't sway them. Maybe if a lot of patients show up, they will have to listen. We want them to acknowledge the medical utility of marijuana, and we want them to do a national survey of MS patients to see how medical marijuana is working for them. At the least, they need to put a medical marijuana pro and con section on their web site."

And the Supreme Court? "We are setting up a memorial table at the Supreme Court because of its Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Club ruling," explained Miller. "Clarence Thomas wrote that opinion, and he and the majority deferred on the issue of efficacy. He wrote that the court didn't have to deal with that because in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act Congress voted that marijuana had no medical value. As Cheryl pointed out, that was before AIDS. We will be in front of the Supreme Court because we don't think the court should value a 30-year-old political decision over current science and medicine."

The Cheryl Miller Memorial Project will also see candlelight villages in towns and cities across the country for activists and patients who could not make the trip. Candles will flame in Cheryl's memory from San Antonio to Madison, Sacramento to New York state. For those who wish to attend the Monday and Tuesday events, including a Tuesday morning press conference on Capitol Hill, or who wish to contribute to help make the memorial a recurring lobbying event, visit the Cheryl Miller Memorial Project web page at http://www.cheryldcmemorial.org online.


6. Newsbrief: Seattle Voters Tell Police to Make Marijuana Possession Lowest Priority

While a Seattle effort to impose a ten-cent tax on every cup of espresso sold in the latte-crazed city made the national news by being voted down Tuesday, the media had absolutely nothing to say about another ballot issue that passed. I-75, sponsored by the Sensible Seattle Coalition (http://www.sensibleseattle.org), which includes some of the same folks who put on the city's annual Hemp Fest, requires police and prosecutors to "make cases involving marijuana offenses, in which the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the city's lowest law enforcement priority."

The measure passed with 58% of the vote. "It's very positive to see that a solid majority of the residents in Seattle do not want to waste law resources prosecuting marijuana users," national NORML head Keith Stroup told Reuters, adding that the vote was a key step in the eventual legalization of the herb.

The vote came despite a visit earlier this month from drug czar John Walters to lobby against the measure. Warning that any law forcing police to ignore pot would increase teen drug use, Walters called the initiative "a silly and irresponsible game."

While Walters, police and prosecutors opposed the initiative, it was endorsed not only by the usual suspects, including the ACLU of Washington, but also the King County Democrats and the League of Women Voters of Seattle.

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske told the Seattle Times that the measure would not affect police work on the street because marijuana possession is not a priority. That remark is typical of police confronted with decriminalized or legalized pot possession, whether in Seattle, Anchorage, or Toronto. They oppose the measure, then say it doesn't matter because they're not busy arresting marijuana users. One question to these police: If you aren't arresting those 700,000 marijuana smokers every year, then who is?

Next week's Drug War Chronicle will feature a recap of how Sensible Seattle achieved this victory and discussion of the new law's implications. In the meantime, you can read the Alternet story "The State of Drug Reform" at http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16799 for further information.


7. Newsbrief: Marijuana Legal in Alaska, But Attorney General Orders Cops to Confiscate It, Work with Feds to Build Cases

Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes is slowly coming to grips with reality. Befuddled by last month's Alaska Appeals Court ruling legalizing the possession of up to four ounces of pot in the home (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/301/alaska.shtml), Renkes at first blustered mightily that marijuana remained illegal. But in a memo to prosecutors and the Alaska State Troopers this week, Renkes instructed them not to arrest or cite people in possession of small amounts in their homes.

But police and state troopers should still seize the pot and investigate to see if federal marijuana trafficking cases can be developed, Renkes said in the memo. "This includes seizing and treating as evidence all marijuana found, even if under four ounces in the home, and writing reports documenting the investigation," Renkes wrote.

Renkes has announced that he will appeal the legalization ruling, but now concedes that legalization is the law of the land, at least for now. "We have to respect the language of the appeals court decision," Renkes told the Anchorage Daily News Wednesday.

Renkes did not explain which novel legal theory would allow police enforcing Alaska laws to steal the legal property of Alaska residents. Alaska police officials are pooh-poohing the importance of the ruling. They don't make marijuana arrests a high priority, they said.


8. Newsbrief: Ecstasy Scandal Grows as Second Study Retracted

As DRCNet reported last week (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/302/oops.shtml), researchers at Johns Hopkins University led by Dr. George Ricaurte had to retract sensational research findings published in the journal Science that a single dose of MDMA (ecstasy) could lead to Parkinson's Disease. Ricaurte, who has made a career out of federally-funded studies highlighting the supposed dangers of ecstasy, is getting into deeper trouble this week. The Baltimore Sun reported Monday that Ricaurte and company have now retracted a second study linking ecstasy to brain damage.

Dr. Una McCann, a neuroscientist involved in both experiments, told the Sun she sent a letter of retraction last week to another medical journal, which she declined to identify. But an online publication of the British journal the Scientist reported the following Wednesday: "The European Journal of Pharmacology has received an e-mail from George Ricaurte, principal author of the recently retracted Science paper on the effects of the recreational drug Ecstasy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA), which may indicate that another paper will have to be retracted. Editorial representatives of the journal would not describe the contents of the e-mail, but told The Scientist that a decision on the matters therein will be taken at tomorrow's (September 18) editorial board meeting."

McCann said the discovery occurred as the researchers rechecked lab records after it was discovered they had inadvertently substituted methamphetamine for ecstasy in the experiment that was publicized in the first retracted article. "As you might imagine, we systematically went through the books to find out which, if any, of our published studies involved the same [vial]," she said Thursday. "We did find one, and a letter of retraction was sent out to the journal today." More studies may have to be retracted, Dr. McCann conceded.

Ricaurte's ecstasy research has been controversial, with other researchers charging that they overplayed their findings. Now, the criticism is mounting. "This doesn't help their credibility and goes to the whole question of what else they know," Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, told the Sun.

But that was nothing compared to the reaction of Leslie Iversen, prominent British pharmacologist who holds professorships at King's College London and Oxford University and reviewed the effects of cannabis for a House of Lords select committee report. Iversen, who with other British scientists had exchanged letters with the editors of Science over Ricaurte's results months ago, was outraged. "It's an outrageous scandal," Iversen told the Scientist. "It's another example of a certain breed of scientist who appear to do research on illegal drugs mainly to show what the governments want them to show. They extract large amounts of grant money from the government to do this sort of biased work... I hope the present retraction and embarrassment to the people involved will be some sort of lesson to them."


9. Newsbrief: Drug Policy Alliance Issues Report on Changes in State Drug Laws

In a report released Tuesday, the Drug Policy Alliance has found that states across the country have begun to roll-back "tough on crime" drug laws. The report cited an increased willingness by state officials and legislators to treat drug use as an illness, not a crime, and the fiscal crisis of the states as key factors in what is a slow moving political sea change. DPA surveyed laws enacted between 1996 and 2001 and found that various states have embraced prevention, treatment, and other alternatives to a nearly 20-year-old emphasis on harsh punishment and lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences.

The report emphasized that harm reduction -- "the awareness that not just drug abuse, but also misguided drug policies, can cause grave harms to individuals and society" -- was driving many of the changes.

The report will be used to influence legislators and ultimately the federal government, said DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann. "Our key hope for this report is that legislators around the country will increasingly appreciate that it's possible to introduce and support and enact sensible drug policy reforms without being accused of being soft on drugs or being soft on crime," he said.

Among the findings:

  • Voters approved drug reform initiatives between 1996 and 2001, most often on medical marijuana, in 17 states, while reformers lost in only two states, Massachusetts and Washington.
  • Sentencing reforms were enacted in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 29 states restored all or some welfare eligibility for drug offenders.
  • Nine states and the District of Columbia voted for medical marijuana.
Read the report online at http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/09_16_03sos.cfm.


10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

Poetic justice may be an appropriate term for the travails of this week's corrupt cop, North Carolina's Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege. Hege, a follower of the Sheriff Joe Arpaio school of sanctimonious self-promotion through humiliating prisoners, was indicted this week on 15 felony counts including embezzlement -- he is charged with stealing cash from the department's drug buy fund, among other things -- and obstruction of justice.

 
no more glory days for
Sheriff Gerald Hege
The publicity-seeking Hege billed himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," and made a reputation for himself through such stunts as painting his jail pink -- to emasculate prisoners, he proudly sneered -- posing in paramilitary uniforms, and inscribing the motto "No Deals" on patrol cars. The busy, busy sheriff also had his own program on Court TV, "Live from Cell Block F," in which inmates described their crimes and Hege berated them for the amusement of viewers. The program was broadcast from his office, which Hege thoughtfully decorated to look like a military bunker.

Hege also has his own web site, http://www.HegeCountry.com, where he poses standing atop a tank with a double-barreled shotgun. Some of the photos, also for sale as posters, bear such slogans as "This ain't Mayberry and I ain't Andy!" or "Do the crime scumbag, and you'll do the time." (These links were not working as of this morning; we don't know if it is a temporary error or if they have been removed from the site.) On the web site, Hege also brags about his toughness: "His trade mark sunglasses and military style uniforms have put fear into drug dealers and criminals throughout the southeast and are being copied by other sheriff offices. Removing TV's from the cells and putting his inmates to work wearing black and white striped uniforms have brought national attention to this North Carolina Sheriff."

Sheriff of Davidson County since 1994, Hege is accused of stealing $6,200 from an undercover drug buy fund and using part of it to pay for reelection celebrations in 1998 and 2002. He is also accused of blocking an investigation into the disappearance of money seized by his office during a criminal investigation. And he is accused of conspiring with a former county maintenance director to conduct surveillance of law enforcement officers investigating him. Additionally, Davidson County District Attorney Gary Frank, in moving to have Hege removed from office, accuses him of a pattern of intimidation and threats against deputies he believed were cooperating in investigations against him.

Hege was suspended with pay pending a September 29 hearing to remove him from office. And although he was formally arrested, booked, and fingerprinted Monday, Hege did not have the opportunity to spend some time in his pink jail because of a previous arrangement with the State Bureau of Investigation agents who escorted him to court. Curiously, this time Hege avoided the media he usually woos.

Hege faces six to eight years on each of the 15 felony accounts.


11. Newsbrief: Reefer Madness in the Heart of Africa

Last week, Drug War Chronicle reported on anti-marijuana crusades in the West African countries of Nigeria and Gambia (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/302/westafrica.shtml). As noted then, Africa remains a continent almost totally unaware of notions such as drug reform. One more example comes this week from Uganda, where a leading national newspaper, the Monitor (Kampala) gave voice to sentiments right out of the Harry Anslinger "Reefer Madness" era decades ago.

In bemoaning the prevalence of marijuana, or "enjagga," as the Monitor refers to it, the paper noted that "many people are cultivating, selling and smoking marijuana," and that sales and use occur in numerous "slums," as well as "market car washing bays, video halls, brick laying sites and graveyards among other places." Pot smokers, the newspaper reported, are "misguided or frustrated youth who are generally devoid of employment."

Worse yet, the Monitor wrote, marijuana use contributes to the commission of other crimes. And here is where the ghost of Anslinger rises. According to marijuana "expert" Michael Were, who happens to head the national anti-drug unit, "A big number of crimes result from the influence of marijuana."

We'll let the Monitor tell it: "According to Were, marijuana gives Dutch courage to people who inhale it. Body builders commonly known as Kanyamas are notorious for smoking marijuana because it gives them courage to waylay people in the city, particularly in the morning and evening. Crimes that arise out of marijuana influence include waylaying women at night, raping them and defiling young girls." As if that weren't enough to worry a guy: "The drug also contributes to mental breakdown. Some people have run mad due to over-inhaling marijuana."

Noting a whopping 1,259 drug cases last year, the Monitor called for a "joint effort [no pun intended, we're sure] by all law-abiding citizens and the police to fight drugs that precipitate commission of crime," as well as urging the media to enlist in "this noble cause" and urging the government to pass a tough new drug bill.

But these Ugandan drug warrior wannabes are going to have to get on the ball. They must get beyond the tired old reefer madness propaganda of the Anslinger era and embrace the tired new reefer madness propaganda of current US drug czar John Walters if they really want to enter the 21st Century.


12. Newsbrief: Campaign Comments -- John Edwards on Industrial Hemp

Welcome to Drug War Chronicle's newest occasional feature. With 10 Democrats vying for the chance to defeat President Bush a little more than a year from now, candidates are bound to have something to say about drug policy (especially if they are being hounded by activists like those involved in Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana [http://www.GraniteStaters.com] and Americans for Safe Access [http://www.safeaccessnow.org]. When those candidates turn from terrorism, the economy, health care, and other key issues to address drugs, we will let you know.

One hopes for intelligent comments from the candidates, but sometimes you have to settle for what you get. Thus North Carolina junior senator John Edwards on industrial hemp, as reported by the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Waylaid by a question about using hemp as a food or fiber while at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Edwards responded: "I could tell you, in general, my position about the medical use of marijuana, which is not what you are talking about," Edwards clarified. "You are talking about industrialized hemp being used for WHAT?"

The questioner, Paul Stillwell of Concord, New Hampshire, explained that hemp fiber can be used to make paper, clothing, rope, and other products, and that hemp oil is used in lotions, cosmetics, and foods. Would Edwards support industrial hemp, Stillwell wanted to know? "I didn't know that's where that question was going," Edwards said, with a laugh. "I had not thought about that as a solution to the problem, honestly." He promised to come up with an answer, though.


13. Newsbrief: Murderous Thai Drug War in Final Drive to be "Drug Free"

Nearly 3,000 people were killed earlier this year in phase one of the Thai government's efforts to make the country "drug free" by December 2. After taking a short breather from that strenuous effort, Thai authorities are now set to begin the final phase, set to rid the country of the scourge of drugs before the king's birthday on December 5. The Thai government's final solution to widespread drug use and sales, particularly of methamphetamines and heroin, will commence October 2, the Bangkok Post reported.

Narcotics Control Board secretary-general Police Lt. Gen. Chidchai Wannasathit told the Post the crackdown would be "intense," with tough enforcement in all communities, schools, villages and factories. Anti-drug police continue to surveil big cities and the border with Burma, Wannasathit said, but added that earlier repression had made methamphetamine scarce and expensive.

Human rights groups, the United Nations and independent observers blame Thai police for the vast majority of deaths during the spring crackdown. Most were killed death-squad style after being revealed as drug users or sellers. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra rejected any criticism of the campaign, and there is no sign his government has shifted in its lethal approach to illicit drug use and sales.


14. Newsbrief: UN Agency Calls for Change in Colombia Drug War Strategy

In a report released September 11, the United Nations Development Program called Colombia's war on the drug trade a "failure" and suggested that the government of President Alvaro Uribe develop new strategies that include neither the fumigation of crops nor the legalization of the trade. The report called on Colombia to shift away from repressing users and small producers and instead concentrate on major players.

Thousands of people are killed each year in political violence linked to the drug trade and its repression, with hundreds of thousands made internal refugees. The effort to defeat the drug trade is closely tied to the Uribe government's effort to defeat the long-standing insurgency of leftist guerrillas and violence of paramilitaries on the right linked to major drug traffickers. The US government has supported, even been the head cheerleader and chief underwriter, for the Colombian war on drugs cum war on rebels cum war on terrorism.

"It is necessary to overcome the prejudices -- puritanism, cynicism, underestimation of the damage drugs cause -- and advance toward a rational solution to the problem, based on a harm reduction focus," the report urged. "Repressive policies must concentrate on the middle links of the chain, such as the supply of chemicals and precursors, the management of routes, wholesale distribution, and money laundering, where it is most efficient," the report concluded.

Drug consumers and small producers should not face the brunt of enforcement, the report said. Colombia should "reduce punitive actions against drug use, accentuate preventive programs, and see the user more as a sick person than as a criminal," the report stated. While drug use is legal under the Colombian constitution, in practice Colombian users are typically arrested on public disorder charges, while foreign users are extorted. The Uribe government attempted to put recriminalization of drug use on a referendum earlier this year, but was blocked by the courts. Nor should the government spray pesticides on coca fields, the report said. "Harm reduction means more manual eradication and less aerial fumigation."

Similarly, the UN report looked at the tangled connections between the insurgency and the drug trade, warning against simplistic interpretations. "Although 40% of the FARC guerrillas' finances comes from the drug traffic and in the case of the paramilitaries the amount is 80%, that is not to say that these organizations exist to make money," the report said. "Both groups have political projects and exercise power in localities under their control. It is simplistic to think that doing away with the drug trade will have as an immediate consequence an end to the conflict. There exist additional engines of the conflict that have to be deactivated by the state."

Read the report, "National Human Development Report 2003: Understanding to Change the Local Roots of the Conflict," available in Spanish only, at http://indh.pnud.org.co/informe2003_.plx?f=1063906366.


15. Current Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion

Tell Congress to Pass Medical Marijuana Now! Send letters supporting the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act and the Truth in Trials Act:
http://stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/

Stop the Andean Drug War! Tell the Senate to strip Colombia military and other drug war funding from the 2004 Foreign Aid Appropriations bill:
http://stopthedrugwar.org/stopthehelicopters/

Repeal the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act to restore financial aid to students with drug convictions:
http://www.raiseyourvoice.com

Stop John Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion! Repeal the terrible Feeney amendment which discourages judges from granting downward departures from the draconian federal sentencing guidelines:
http://stopthedrugwar.org/justice/

More coming soon!


16. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions

The John W. Perry Fund, a project of the DRCNet Foundation in association with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, provides college scholarships to students losing federal financial aid because of drug convictions. The Fund has monies remaining for fall 2003 as well as future semesters, and eligible students are urged to apply as soon as possible.

Please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/perryfund/ to fill out a pre-application, print out an application form or brochure, or for further information. Students, financial aid officers, friends and family members and supporters of students, as well as media, activists, potential donors and other interested parties, are all welcome to contact us!

Supportive parties are urged to take copies around to financial aid offices, social services agencies whose clientele are likely to include drug ex-offenders, high school guidance offices, and to forward information about the Perry Fund to appropriate e-mail lists. Community and state colleges are of particular interest to the Perry Fund, because the low tuition rates enable us to fully finance a student's education in many cases, and because their student bodies include a high proportion of low income with especially great financial need.

Any applicant losing federal financial aid due to a drug conviction, however, attempting to attend any school, is welcome and encouraged to apply. We continue to raise money for the Perry Fund, and the more applications we have received, the more money we will likely be able to raise for them. Please urge potential applicants to visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/perryfund/ for information and to apply, or to contact DRCNet at (202) 362-0030. Thank you for spreading the word.


17. Errata: Dutch MedMj, Ecstasy Study Stories Last Two Weeks

In our story two weeks ago on medical marijuana being available in Dutch pharmacies (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/301/netherlands.shtml),
we misidentified one of the two companies that grow under contract with the Dutch government. We correctly identified the Institute of Medical Marijuana (http://www.medicalmarijuana.org) as one supplier, but the second supplier is Bedrocan (no web site), not Maripharm (http://www.maripharm.nl).

In our story last week about Dr. George Ricaurte's botched MDMA research (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/302/oops.shtml), we misidentified Dr. Charles Grob's institutional affiliation. He is with the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, not the nonexistent UCLA Bayview Medical Center.


18. The Reformer's Calendar

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

September 20, 11:00am-3:00pm, Dallas, TX, Protest of the DEA's Drugs-Terrorism Exhibit. At The Science Place Fair Park, contact Suzanne Wills at (214) 324-1594 or Craig Johnson at craig_ssdp@yahoo.com for further information.

September 20, 3:00pm, Surprise, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At the Unitarian Universalist Church, 17540 N. Ave. of the Arts, sponsored by the UU Church Social Justice Committee. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@leap.cc for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 20-26, AZ, Journey for Justice events throughout state, speakers from The November Coalition and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Visit http://www.novemberjustice.org/schedule/states/AZ.html for further information.

September 21-28, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, "2nd Darwin International Syringe Festival and 1st International Conference on Using Direct Action to End the War on Drugs." Sponsored by the Network Against Prohibition, visit http://www.angelfire.com/oz/syringefestival/ or http://www.napnt.org for further information or contact napnt@bigpond.net.au or +61 (0) 8 8942 0570.

September 22, 8:00pm, Los Angeles, CA, "High Hopes, A Medical Marijuana Comedy Show Extravaganja," Joe Rogan performs live to benefit WAMM, the Inglewood Wellness Club and Green Aid. At The Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., $20 admission ($10 with a current compassion club or NORML membership card), cash only, two drink minimum, 21 and over. For further information visit http://www.greentherapy.com or contact (323) 253-3472 or howarddover@yahoo.com.

September 22-23, Washington, DC, "Cheryl Miller DC Memorial Project," vigil, exhibit, press conference and lobby day honoring MS patients and medical marijuana activist Cheryl Miller. Visit http://www.cheryldcmemorial.org for further information.

September 22-23, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, "First National Seminar on Drug Users' Rights." Sponsored by ABORDA, visit http://direitodeuso.dk3.com for further information.

September 23, Chicago, IL, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit http://www.amnestyusa.org/events/fall2003hearings.html or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

September 25, 9:30am, Sun City West, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At the Desert Palm Presbyterian Church, 13459 W. Stardust Blvd., sponsored by Desert Palm Christian Education Committee. Contact Roma Thomas at grthom@cox.net for further information. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@leap.cc for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 25, 6:30-8:30pm, New York, NY, "Rockefeller Drug Laws' Effect on Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners," panel sponsored by the Seven Neighborhood Action Partnership/JusticeWorks Community. At Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church, 1975 Madison Ave., call (212) 348-8142 or (718) 499-6704 ext. 208, visit http://www.justiceworks.org or e-mail snapjwc@msn.com for info.

September 26, 6:30pm, Phoenix, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 8801 N. 43rd Ave., sponsored by Arizona Coalition for Effective Government. Contact Roma Thomas at grthom@cox.net for further information. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@leap.cc for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 27, 7:30pm, New York, NY, Fundraising Gala for Grandpa Al Lewis, political satire by the Christmas Coup Comedy Players, raising money for an at-home radio facility for the elderly activist as he recuperates from surgery. Donations of any size, at the Puffin Room, 435 Broome St. (between Broadway and Crosby), call (212) 209-2912 or visit http://www.christmascoup.com for reservations.

September 30, Tulsa, OK, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit http://www.amnestyusa.org/events/fall2003hearings.html or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

October 2, New York, NY, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit http://www.amnestyusa.org/events/fall2003hearings.html or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

October 3-4, Detroit, MI, "And Justice for All? Communities of Color and the War on Drugs," conference of Drug Policy Forum of Michigan with Wayne State University SSDP and other organizations. Visit http://www.dpfmi.org/conf.htm or contact Debra Wright at (734) 368-8328 or dswmsw@msn.com or Michael Segesta at (586) 873-5086 or msegesta@comcast.net for further information.

October 5-17, Deming, Silver City, Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces, NM, "Continuing Drug Policy Reform in New Mexico," speaking tour by Jack Cole and Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@leap.cc for details of individual engagements.

October 22, 7:00pm, Syracuse, NY, "Against All Odds: Cops Fighting the War on Drugs," forum with Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Sponsored by Reconsider: Forum on Drug Policy and Syracuse University Students for Sensible Drug Policy. At Syracuse University, for further information contact Gerrit Cain at caingerrit@hotmail.com or Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@reconsider.org.

October 23-26, Lisbon, Portugal, Lisbon International Symposium on Drug Policy. Sponsored by the Senlis Council, visit http://www.senliscouncil.net/modules/events/lisbon for info or contact info@senliscouncil.net.

November 5-8, East Rutherford, NJ, biennial conference of Drug Policy Alliance. At the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center, 2 Meadowlands Plaza, visit http://www.drugpolicy.org for further information.

November 7-9, Paris, "Fourth Hemp and Eco-Technologies Exhibition." At the Cité de Sciences et de L'Industrie, call +33(0) 1 48 58 31 37, e-mail info@festival-du-chanvre.com or visit http://www.festival-du-chanvre.com for further information.

November 22, 11:00am-10:00pm, Portland, OR, "Second Annual Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards 2003." At the Double Tree Inn Lloyd Center, e-mail OrNORML.Secretary@comcast.net or visit http://www.ornorml.org for further information!

January 28-February 7, 2004, Hannibal, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City, MO, "Special Delivery for John Ashcroft," speaking tour by Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Roger Hudlin. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or speakers@leap.cc for details of individual engagements.

April 20-24, Melbourne, Australia, "15th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm." Visit http://www.ihra.net or e-mail ihra@adf.org.au for information.


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