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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #316, 12/19/03

"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: Why Prohibition Scares Me
  2. Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients
  3. Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found
  4. Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too
  5. Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords
  6. Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop
  7. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It
  8. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story -- It's a Twofer!
  9. Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports
  10. Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases
  11. Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway
  12. Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife
  13. Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect
  14. Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Advocacy
  15. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime
  16. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me

David Borden, Executive Director, borden@drcnet.org, 12/19/03

David Borden, Executive Director, borden@drcnet.org, 11/28/03

David Borden
This week saw a great victory in the federal courts. Patients Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson, in a lawsuit they brought against the federal government, won the right to use and obtain marijuana for medical use consistent with the terms of California law including Proposition 215. For the time being, at least, medical marijuana is legal in the several states within the US 9th Circuit that have passed medical marijuana laws. Raich told DRCNet (following article) that she has been "living in a state of fear that we could be raided and imprisoned at any time."

Such fear is justified, and not only for medical marijuana users, or for that matter any drug users. Grim news this week proved this in a terrible way. Kenneth Brown Walker, a 39-year old father and taxpayer in Columbus, Georgia, was shot in the head by a police officer. The police stopped the car he was in, and they claim he was shot because he didn't show his hands. No drugs were found; the driver and the passengers were completely innocent, didn't do anything wrong. Kenneth Walker was minding his own business, yet now he is dead.

I was not in or near Walker's car, so I will withhold judgment for the moment -- not on the culpability of the officer who shot him, only on his degree of culpability. Judgment is long overdue, however -- harsh judgment -- for the leaders in law enforcement and politics who have encouraged the reckless drug war tactics which lead to such tragedies. It ought to have been obvious from the beginning that the more police are in the business of intruding into random situations waving guns around, the more often accidental shootings will take place, the more danger there will be for police, suspects and bystanders alike.

Prohibition scares me. Every time I hear another report of drive-by shootings -- drug gangs expanding into new territory -- guns following the drugs into the communities, even the schools -- I grimace in frustration at the state of denial which permits it all to continue. When will we do the obvious and put it all to a stop by ending criminal prohibition of drugs?

The longer we wait, the greater the escalation of the arms race. The more dangerous the criminals grow, the more police sent on patrol, the heavier the weaponry both of them carry. The louder the calls for arrest, the better financed the vested interests in enforcement, the larger the number of raids and resulting tragedies. And the cycle continues.

Angel Raich and Diane Monson shouldn't have to live in fear. Police shouldn't wave their guns around randomly at peaceful people. And Kenneth Walker shouldn't be dead. The war on drugs is futile and dangerous, and not a single needless killing in it can be justified. The prohibitionist system must be dismantled in full. And in the meantime, for every police killing or drug trade shootout or preventable overdose, judge guilt, cast blame, condemn the system. For Kenneth Walker's sake, and those who follow.


2. Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients

In a major victory for medical marijuana patients, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that they cannot be prosecuted by the US Justice Department if a doctor recommends the weed -- as long as patients grow their own or obtain it from caregiver growers without entering into a commercial transaction. In issuing a preliminary injunction barring further federal government action against patients, the court also held the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional when it comes to medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal. Pending any appeal by the Justice Department, the ruling is now in effect throughout the 9th Circuit, which also includes the medical marijuana states of Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The court did not address the question of whether medical marijuana co-ops, where cultivators distribute marijuana to patients, are also protected. That question is pending in a separate case filed by the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (http://www.wamm.org), a Santa Cruz provider that was raided by the DEA last year.

The Ninth Circuit encompasses the nine western states of Alaska,
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,
Washington, and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. (Photo and
info from http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov.)

The ruling came in the case of Raich v. Ashcroft, in which medical marijuana patients Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson and their caregiver growers sued Attorney General John Ashcroft in federal court seeking a permanent injunction barring the federal government from seizing their medicine or taking any other action against them. Raich, who suffers from a variety of medical conditions including an inoperable brain tumor, and Monson, who is afflicted with chronic back pain, both have doctors' recommendations to use medical marijuana, but both women suffered a "very real fear," that they would be raided and their medicine seized by federal agents, said Robert Raich, husband of Angel and one of the attorneys who argued the case.

That fear is based on repeated DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. Medical marijuana has been legal under state law since 1996, when voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 215, but the federal government, under both the Clinton and the Bush administrations, has continued to resist the will of the voters. The Justice Department suffered another legal defeat earlier this year, when the Supreme Court ruled that the DEA could not punish physicians who recommended marijuana to their patients.

Attorneys in the Raich case did a bit of legal jujitsu in their successful argument, using a series of Supreme Court rulings cheered by conservatives that limited federal government powers. Under the Constitution, the federal government can intervene in matters traditionally handled by state and local governments only if it establishes jurisdiction to do so. For years, the federal government has relied on a broad interpretation of the Constitution's commerce clause to give it standing to intervene in what would otherwise be state affairs. But in recent years, the Supreme Court has begun to cast a more jaundiced eye toward commerce clause claims, rejecting such arguments in a gun possession case and a crimes-against-women case.

Still, Attorney General Ashcroft and other federal officials, including former DEA head Asa Hutchinson, relied on the commerce clause to justify the raids. They argued that they had jurisdiction to go after California medical marijuana patients and providers because marijuana is sold in interstate commerce.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled otherwise. "The intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician is, in fact, different from drug trafficking," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in the 2-1 decision. The federal government does have the power to legislate against drug trafficking, Pregerson reasoned, but "the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and not for exchange or distribution is not properly characterized as commercial or economic activity."

"Today my faith in justice is restored", said plaintiff Angel McClary Raich. "I want to deeply thank the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for saving my life and the lives of others like myself. I brought this case to protect medical cannabis patients who have been living in a state of fear that we could be raided and imprisoned at any time," she told DRCNet. "I'm in shock and it's just starting to sink in. I've been on the front lines of the war against medical marijuana patients since 1997, and I am so grateful that the judges had the common sense and compassion to understand my need for justice," the Oakland resident added. "This is wonderful not only for Diane and me, but all patients and caregivers in states that have medical marijuana laws, at least in the 9th Circuit."

"This is an enormous victory for medical marijuana patients," declared California NORML (http://www.canorml.org) coordinator Dale Gieringer, one of the original authors of Prop. 215. "It essentially makes Prop. 215 federal law in California."

"This is huge. This essentially makes Prop. 215 federal law in California," said Dale Gieringer, a co-author of the proposition, which legalized medical use of marijuana in California.

"This ruling says that medical marijuana patients who grow and possess marijuana are not breaking the law," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), an aggressive medical marijuana defense group. "In fact, it is Ashcroft's prosecution and persecution of those patients that violates the Constitution. This ruling says the Bush administration can no longer go after patients in states that have medical marijuana laws," she told DRCNet.

The movement is on a roll, said Sherer. "This is very exciting; we are so close," she said. "We have Supreme Court rulings on our side, we have this ruling, we have judges not giving people time for medical marijuana distribution, we have doctors recommending it and the Supreme Court saying they can. This is a clear signal that it is time for federal law to change. It is time the federal government kept up with the rest of us."

And that momentum could be strengthened by a favorable ruling in the WAMM case, which is already before the 9th Circuit. Attorneys for WAMM have pursued arguments parallel to Raich, telling the court that because members of the WAMM co-op trade the weed among themselves, they are not involved in interstate commerce. "This decision is a complete vindication of our... argument," Gerald Uelmen, a University of Santa Clara law professor who represents the co-op, told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday.

The Raich case is also notable for knocking the first brick out of what has so far been the impenetrable wall of the Controlled Substances Act. "Wow, I cracked it," exulted Angel Raich. "To have the judges say that the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional when it applies to me or other medical marijuana patients -- that's historic! You can't get any better than that until you knock the whole law down," she said.

"I would love to be a regular mom and go and play basketball with my kids," she added, "but I am very, very ill. I have to battle my illnesses and John Ashcroft, too, and that's difficult to take," she said. "But this goes to show that someone as tiny and weak as I am can go up against Ashcroft and win. I'm sick and I'm tired, but I won't back down. I'll fight him with every last breath in my body. And you know, if he wants to come after me now, John Ashcroft will be the criminal."

The Justice Department has not yet commented on whether it will appeal.

To read the opinion in Raich v. Ashcroft online, go to http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov and click on "opinions" at the upper left, then select Raich v. Ashcroft.

To read major pleadings from the case online, visit http://raich-v-ashcroft.com and http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/documents/index.html#drugs.


3. Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found

Better a hundred innocent people get hauled off in handcuffs than one drug law violator go free. That is the essence of the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Maryland v. Pringle, handed down Monday. The Supreme Court held that Baltimore County police acted properly four years ago when they arrested all three occupants of a car after the officers discovered drugs and cash inside and everyone denied owning them.

The ruling reversed the decision of Maryland's highest court, which last year threw out the conviction of the one man eventually tried in the case, Jerome Pringle. The Maryland court held that Pringle's arrest was unconstitutional because police had no reason to believe he was individually involved in a crime. "A policy of arresting everyone until somebody confesses is not constitutionally unacceptable," that court held.

traffic stop reenactment
courtesy Flex Your Rights Foundation
The Supreme Court disagreed. "We think it an entirely reasonable inference from these facts that any or all three of the occupants had knowledge of, and exercised dominion and control over, the cocaine," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the court. "Thus a reasonable officer could conclude that there was probable cause to believe Pringle committed the crime of possession of cocaine, either solely or jointly."

The justices were faced with the task of applying the notion of probable cause to a situation where either innocent people would be arrested in the search for a guilty party or a guilty person would go free for fear of violating the rights of others. The court held that police may now constitutionally arrest the innocent.

Friends of a tough line on law enforcement hailed the ruling. "With this decision, the court has reaffirmed the necessary flexibility of the probable cause standard, which allows police to deal appropriately with the varying circumstances associated with encounters with criminals on the street," said Charles Hobson, an attorney with the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to uphold Pringle's arrest. "The Maryland court's holding had assumed that among the three passengers in the car, only one could possibly be the drug dealer. But the Supreme Court determined that there was nothing unreasonable about the police suspecting that any one or all three were involved, and it was certainly not unconstitutional to arrest them based upon that suspicion," he added.

Defense attorneys and civil liberties groups were decidedly less enthused. "The Supreme Court should not have taken this case," said Little Rock attorney John Wesley Hall, Jr. (http://www.fourthamendment.com), a specialist in Fourth Amendment law and board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "They should have just let the Maryland decision stand and not worried about it," he told DRCNet. "The Maryland appeals court decision said that if there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict Pringle of a crime, there wasn't sufficient evidence to arrest him. It's like the days of the Warren Burger court," Hall said. "Every time the state loses, the court grants certiorari. The idea is to just arrest everyone in the car and get them to start blaming someone else."

Still, according to Hall, the Supreme Court's decision does not break new ground as much as it codifies existing police practices. "Down here, in every case in which I have been involved with similar facts, they just arrest everyone," he said. "To me, the fact that the Supreme Court even heard this case says this is just another typical political decision by the court designed to help the cops."

Tracy Maclin, a Boston University law professor who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief on Pringle's behalf, was less sanguine than Hall. "It's going to be easier to arrest people, and there is... nothing in this opinion to cabin this rationale," Maclin told the Washington Post Tuesday. "If someone has 20 friends over, and a cop comes to the house and finds contraband under the couch pillow, what's to prevent the police from arresting everyone in the house?"

For Steven Silverman, executive director of the Flex Your Rights Foundation (http://www.flexyourrights.org), an organization devoted to teaching Americans how to effectively exercise their constitutional rights, the court's Pringle decision highlights the need for citizens to protect themselves from police abuses. Pringle and friends, who consented to a search of their vehicle, could have avoided all the trouble they found themselves in if they had exercised their rights, Silverman said. "This case highlights the role of consent searches in legitimizing subsequent police actions," he told DRCNet. "Far too frequently, Supreme Court rulings which appear hostile to civil liberties begin when a criminal suspect consents to a police search request. Had the defendant known of his Fourth Amendment right to refuse police searches, the evidence would not have been discovered, and the defendant and his companions would not have been arrested. More importantly, the Supreme Court would have been denied another opportunity to further expand the 'Drug War Exception' to the Bill of Rights."

The case arose on the night of August 7, 1999, when a Baltimore County police officer stopped the vehicle in which Pringle was riding. After receiving consent to search the vehicle, the officer found $763 in cash in the glove compartment and five bags of crack cocaine stuffed behind an armrest. The officer arrested all three occupants after none would admit to being in possession of the drugs. Pringle admitted the next day that the contraband was his, and is currently serving a 10-year sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

For citizens, there are two bottom lines here: First, exercise your rights. Do not consent to suspicionless searches. Second, if you're carrying contraband and get caught, be prepared to take the rap. Don't send your friends to jail, too.

Visit http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/03pdf/02-809.pdf to read the opinion in Maryland v. Pringle online.


4. Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too

Drug War Chronicle isn't the only media outlet that asked Flex Your Rights's Steven Silverman to comment on the Pringle case. The Christian Science Monitor did too, today's edition -- visit http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1219/p12s01-usju.html to check it out online.

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5. Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords

Despite all its fulminations about wiping out the global drug trade, the US government is once again turning a blind eye to the trade when some of its key allies are the ones overseeing the drug running. The country in question is Afghanistan, by far the world's largest opium producer, and the allies with dirty hands are some of that violence-torn country's warlords. Despite longstanding allegations linking warlords including Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ustad Attas Mohammed to the opium trade, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld publicly embraced the pair at a meeting in Afghanistan early this month.

The defense secretary was not congratulating the warlords for their role in supplying Western Europe with cheap heroin. Instead, he was thanking them for ending armed clashes between their supporters and allowing the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai to take possession of some of the tanks and other heavy military equipment they control.

Rumsfeld's interest in the warlords is all about realpolitik. Since the overthrow of the Taliban government as part of the US "war on terror" in December 2001, the US has tried desperately to cobble together a regime that can govern the fractious nation, and the Afghan warlords are a central component in that plan. In fact, warlords like Dostum and Mohammed are the face of the regime in the vast areas they control; the central government headed by Karzai effectively governs only Kabul and its outlying areas. Dostum has also been rewarded by being named Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Karzai government.

And if Rumsfeld is interested in dalliances with men who do not allow scruples to get in the way of political necessity, he has certainly found his man in Dostum. An Uzbek from Mazar-i-Sharif in the Afghan north, Dostum rose to power as a Communist labor leader in the 1970s, forming militias to fight on the side of the Russians and then their Afghan puppet, Najibullah. But seeing that Najibullah was doomed, Dostum switched sides, joining the US-financed mujaheedin in their jihad against the Communists. During the 1990s, Dostum's forces switched sides repeatedly, helping plunge Afghanistan into the chaos that led to the rise of the Taliban in 1995. He fled to Turkey with the rise of the Taliban, returning to rejoin the US-backed Northern Alliance as it drove the Taliban from power in late 2001.

Dostum has been described as a "war criminal" by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which cite not only his role in the Afghan civil wars of the 1990s -- particularly massive rocket attacks on Kabul in 1994 by his forces that killed thousands of civilians -- but also his treatment of prisoners, including the deaths of hundreds who suffocated or froze to death in the shipping containers Dostum used to hold them in after the battle of Mazar-i-Sharif in December 2001. He is also notorious for his treatment of his own men: He is widely alleged to have punished troops by tying them to the treads of tanks and driving the tanks until nothing is left but pieces of flesh.

Dostum and the Northern Alliance, which now dominates the government in Kabul, have been linked repeatedly to the opium trade. According to the US State Department, after the Taliban ban on opium planting in 2001, almost all the opium in the country that year -- 77 tons -- came from areas dominated by the Northern Alliance. And since the Alliance-dominated government came to power, opium production has gone through the roof, with the area under cultivation more than doubling over last year and increasing 36-fold from 2001.

And the poppy crop is spreading rapidly, particularly in northeast Afghanistan, where the ethnic Tajik Northern Alliance is in control, said Christopher Langton of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Warlord Mohammed, one of the men with whom Rumsfeld shook hands last week, is the man in charge there. Some of the opium produced there is "leaking" south to Pakistan, Langston told the Guardian (UK), where the Taliban and Al Qaeda could be benefiting, he added.

The opium crop is projected to generate a billion dollars in revenue inside Afghanistan this year, half of the country's Gross Domestic Product. And the fruits of that harvest are widely shared. "They're all benefiting: the Taliban, Al Qaeda, some former commanders, warlords who control their own territories," said Abdul Raheem Yaseer, assistant director of the Institute for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, one of the leading Afghan studies programs in the US. "It is the higher up administrators and politicians who benefit more than the common people," he told DRCNet. "The warlords and commanders have used this to make money for years."

For the United Nations, US support of the warlords is doubly vexing. "Why is the international presence in Afghanistan not able to bring under control a phenomenon connected to international terrorism and organized crime?" asked Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN drug office, in February. "Why is the central government in Kabul not able to enforce the ban on opium cultivation as effectively as the Taliban regime did in 2000-01?"

The answer is that the warlords control the opium trade, and the United States supports the warlords because it needs them to fend off a resurgent Taliban and its Al Qaeda allies and to build a strong central government.

On December 9, the UN's top envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, again attacked the warlords. Many Afghans are angered by their corruption and prominent role in the government, said Brahimi in a discussion paper. "The perception that corruption exists... is coupled with the fear that the rapid expansion of the drug economy will undermine the nascent institutions of the state," he wrote. What is worse, Brahimi continued, is that the disaffection, particularly in the Pashtun-dominated south, home of the Taliban and scene of increased fighting in recent weeks. "Now, a critical stage has been reached," wrote Brahimi. "The Taliban never accepted defeat... They and others are taking full advantage of the popular disaffection."

It is the threat of a resurgent Taliban that finally roused US drug warriors to at least pay lip service to their nominally prohibitionist policy. Late last month, a few days before Rumsfeld met with Dostum and Mohammed, US drug czar John Walters launched a rhetorical broadside against the Afghan opium trade. "Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is a major and growing problem," said Walters. "Drug cultivation and trafficking are undermining the rule of law and putting money in the pocket of terrorists. The drug trade is hindering the ability of the Afghan people to rebuild their country and rejoin the international community. It is in the interest of all nations, including our European partners, to help the Karzai government fight the drug trade."

A strong US anti-opium effort in Afghanistan would be welcome news to the US's European partners. Britain, where much of the Afghan opium will end up as heroin, has for the past two years tried a limited Afghan eradication campaign, but with little result. Britain has not succeeded in getting US assistance in its anti-opium campaign.

And what goes on with Afghani poppies has a huge impact on the global opium market. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, when the Taliban ban on production went into effect in 2000, global opium production dropped by 19% to 4,700 tons. Since the end of the Taliban, Afghan production has spurred new growth in the global poppy crop, with the Afghans producing nearly 4,000 of the estimated 6,000 ton annual harvest this year. In its annual survey, Global Illicit Drug Trends, the UN reports that global production is increasing despite a shrinking number of acres devoted to the poppy. Poppy production is decreasing in Laos and Myanmar (see newsbrief below), but that crop is being replaced by more efficient Afghan production.

Walters also announced Operation Containment, designed to staunch the flow of opium from Afghanistan into Central Asia and on to Europe, but provided few details. If recent history is any indication, however, Operation Containment will ignore the warlords allied to the US. More likely to be a real operation is Operation Avalanche, which with 2,000 US troops sweeping toward the Afghan-Pakistan border in the southeast, is designed to root out Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters before the winter. It is the largest US military operation in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban two years ago. (As of December 10, Operation Avalanche has killed 15 Afghan children and two peasant farmers, but no Taliban or Al Qaeda.)

While Walters talks the prohibitionist talk, Rumsfeld walks the realpolitik walk, and the US hops in bed with some of the planet's largest drug dealers. This is not new. In fact, it is not even new in Afghanistan. That country became the world's largest opium producer during the 1980s, when the US, through its intermediaries in Pakistan's intelligence services, sponsored the mujahadin fighters in their jihad against the Russian occupiers. Those opium fields helped overthrow the Russians, and the US turned a blind eye.

Similarly, the US turned a blind eye to cocaine trafficking among its Contra allies in Central America in the 1980s, opium and heroin trafficking among its Hmong and South Vietnamese government allies in Southeast Asia in the 1960s, and to heroin trafficking by French and Italian mobsters in Marseilles in the 1950s. (Better the mob than the communist unions, went the argument.)

"This is not the first time we've had contradictory policies," concurred Ted Galen Carpenter, an international drug policy specialist at the Cato Institute (http://www.cato.org) and author of Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America. "The CIA, for example, at least looked the other way while its allies in Central America trafficked in drugs," he told DRCNet. "The need to eradicate drugs collides with the overall US policy of promoting stability in Afghanistan. I can't imagine the US doing anything that would promote political instability there, and trying to crack down on the drug trade would certainly carry that risk."

John Thompson, executive director of Canada's Mackenzie Institute (http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com), a free-market think-tank that studies political violence, largely agreed, telling DRCNet neither the US nor the government in Kabul can afford to press the effort to wipe out the opium trade right now. "That would drive the peasants into the hands of the Taliban," he said. "What is really needed now is to stabilize Afghanistan, and to do that the best thing may be to achieve a degree of political stability without tackling the drug problem. If you undermine the Karzai administration by waging war on the opium crop, you will just create a chaotic situation like there was ten years ago, and that's what gave rise to the Taliban in the first place," Thompson argued. "Getting political stability, getting the refugees home, getting infrastructure repaired -- all of that should be a bigger priority than wiping out opium."

And trying to wipe out the trade probably wouldn't work anyway, Carpenter said. "In reality, we have little choice but to ignore it. We are not going to stamp it out. Opium has been a major cash crop for Afghanistan as long as anyone wants to remember. As we see with prohibitionist strategies in general, suppression doesn't work. If there is demand, there will be suppliers. If we do try to crack down, we will provoke political instability and probably hostility from the warlords against the occupation, and that could get American soldiers killed," Carpenter argued. "Walters will be overruled, although no one will say so out loud."

Maybe so. But it would also be nice if the US government could have a drug policy that did not stink of hypocrisy and situational ethics.


6. Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop

A Columbus, Georgia, man was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy on Interstate 185 on December 10. The deputy had pulled over the man's vehicle because it was suspected of carrying armed drug dealers and drugs. It wasn't.

Kenneth Brown Walker, 39, was killed by a single gunshot to the head after a Muscogee County Deputy whose name has not been made public stopped him and three companions in a GMC Yukon. An area anti-drug task force in Columbus was on the look-out for a similar vehicle linked to an ongoing crack cocaine investigation. According to Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson, who held a news conference to discuss the killing December 11, "the information was that this vehicle -- and there is more than one gray vehicle in Columbus, Georgia -- if this was the vehicle that the informant said it was, that these were people from Miami and they were armed," Johnson said.

After stopping the vehicle, the unnamed deputy ordered the four men onto the ground, according to Johnson. There was "some resistance by Walker," the sheriff said. "He was placed on the ground but his right hand couldn't be seen. That hand wouldn't come out." So the deputy shot Walker in the head. "What I can tell you is that when he shot him, he did not try to shoot him in the head," he said. "I can't tell you what was in his head other than that it's a pure judgment call if he felt like his life was in danger."

Johnson has admitted that Walker was not linked to the investigation and had no criminal history. He would not venture a comment on whether the shooting was justified. Oh, yeah, Walker was black. He was also a devoted husband and father, a respected member of his church, and a 15-year middle-management employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The driver of the Yukon, Carver High School basketball coach Warren Beulah, called a local radio station, Foxie 105.3, two days after his friend's killing, and described the events. "I felt like an animal," he said. When he asked why a group of Metro Narcotics Task Force agents and sheriff's deputies had pulled him over, he was told "Shut up," he said. It seemed as if "we were tried and convicted" before even getting out of the vehicle, Beulah related. "The way they had the guns in the faces, not saying anything... you basically didn't know what to do and you felt like if you even tried to turn your face from one side to the other, they'd shoot you. It was that scary. We could not even say anything. We were treated like animals until they found out there were no drugs."

Local officials joined friends, family members, and coworkers of the slain man for a memorial service Tuesday. The Rev. Douglas Force, pastor of Walker's home church, St. Mary's Road United Methodist, spoke for many when he talked of race and policing. "We are tired and slaughtered," he said. "Every stop may be our last. There are too many people in this country who don't understand that. It's time we stop living in denial. It's time to start holding folks accountable for their actions."

John Dowdell, an attorney hired by the Walker family, told reporters Walker and his friends did nothing wrong. "They will testify that Walker didn't physically or verbally disobey any command by any law enforcement officer," Dowdell said. "The evidence will show these young men were physically removed from the vehicle, had guns touching portions of their body and were shoved to the ground in a prone position."

The FBI has begun a preliminary investigation into the killing and so has the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


7. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It

For the first time since the days of Jimmy Carter, a prominent presidential candidate has called for an end to marijuana prohibition. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a progressive and therefore long-shot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, quietly announced on his campaign web site last week that, if elected, he would end federal prohibitions on the use of marijuana by adults and would instead move to regulate it like alcohol.

Dennis Kucinich
"Statistical evidence shows that marijuana use follows a pattern very similar to that of alcohol," wrote Kucinich. "Most marijuana users do so responsibly, in a safe, recreational context. These people lead normal, productive lives -- pursuing careers, raising families and participating in civic life... A Kucinich administration would reject the current paradigm of 'all use is abuse' in favor of a drug policy that sets reasonable boundaries for marijuana use by establishing guidelines similar to those already in place for alcohol... A Kucinich administration would work to implement a drug policy that removes responsible recreational users and medical users of marijuana from the criminal justice system, in order to redirect resources toward the following goals:

  • Enforce penalties for those who provide marijuana to minors.
  • Enforce penalties for those who endanger the rights of others through irresponsible use, such as driving under the influence.
  • Develop drug treatment programs focused on rehabilitation, rather than incarceration.
  • Support the efforts of state governments in developing innovative approaches to drug policy.
  • Improve drug education by emphasizing science over scare tactics.
  • Implement a Department of Justice program that would review the records of, and consider for sentence reduction or release, inmates convicted for nonviolent marijuana offenses.
Visit http://www.kucinich.us/issues/marijuana_decrim.php to read the full text of Kucinich's marijuana plank online. Visit http://www.kucinich.us/issues/drugwar.php to read Kucinich's overall drug policy reform stances.


8. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story -- It's a Twofer!

We didn't run the Corrupt Cops feature last week, but we try to make up for it this week with a double dose of sordidness -- and we're not even talking about Dallas, where it seems police officers can set up people to be arrested and imprisoned for possession of particle board and get away with it. No, this week it's all New York City, and the rot has invaded both the DEA and the NYPD.

First, the feds: On Monday, Kevin Tamez, the number three man in DEA's New York office until a brewing scandal forced him out in October, was indicted on 214 counts alleging massive embezzlement and for ordering DEA agents to do work in the US and Europe for his own private investigation business. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the most serious counts of wire and mail fraud.

Tamez allegedly bilked the DEA out of $138,500 in advance-cash claims, saying he needed the money for investigative purposes. But he actually spent the money on new suits from Joseph A. Banks, a Chevy Suburban, and repairs to the family hot tub, the indictment alleges.

He also ran a private investigation company, disguising that fact from the DEA by using aliases. Tamez used DEA resources for his company, said the indictment, ordering agents in Salt Lake City, Baltimore, and Atlantic City to conduct surveillance on persons his company was investigating. His illicit use of DEA agents also extended to London and Switzerland.

"Tamez abused virtually every resource available to him and exploited not only DEA resources around the country, but also law-enforcement resources abroad," said Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey.

Meanwhile, a retired detective and an 18-year veteran of the NYPD are charged with ripping off drug dealers and pocketing the proceeds. Authorities are also investigating whether the two killed one of their own informants. Thomas Raschko and Julio Vasquez are accused of robbing a drug courier of $169,000 on November 26. The case looks strong -- the entire robbery was captured on police videotape by another police task force -- and shows the pair using a department car and wearing police raid jackets as they robbed the courier, an informant of theirs who had told them the day before he would be making the delivery. Early indications are that Raschko and Vasquez are involved in other acts of corruption, and others may be involved as well.

NYPD is also investigating whether the veteran narcs are responsible for the death of Miguel Peralta, one of Vasquez' informants, who was found shot to death in a car the day before the robbery. But as of now, the only charges facing the pair are grand larceny and other offenses related to the robbery. Vasquez has resigned from the force, and both men are out on bail.


9. Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports

Cannabis cultivation is booming in Morocco, and European consumers are to blame, said Antonio Maria Costa, head of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as the international anti-drug agency issued a report Monday showing nearly 350,000 acres under production in the North African country this year. That crop is providing incomes for nearly 100,000 peasant farms and 800,000 people, UNDOC reported in its first Moroccan cannabis cultivation survey.

Morocco has long been famous for its hashish, consumed primarily in Western Europe, and the UNDOC estimates it will churn out more than 3,000 metric tons this year. In return, Moroccans will harvest an estimated $215 million in hash profits (compared to $12 billion for mostly European middlemen), or more than one-half of 1% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

"In the past 20 years, cannabis cultivation has spread from the traditional areas in the central Rif, where it has been grown since the 15th century, to new areas," UNDOC reported. But it wasn't applauding an economic success story.

Instead, Costa used the occasion to decry the venerable crop. "Through its expansion, cannabis production threatens the environment of the Rif," he said. "Cannabis risks corrupting the social and economic structure and compromising any prospects of sustainable development there." The Moroccan hash boom resulted from the "spectacular expansion of drug consumption" in Europe since the 1970s, he added. Costa praised the Moroccan government for cooperating with the UNODC -- it actually allowed the survey to take place. "Morocco has acted with courage and exposed the extent of domestic cannabis cultivation. But the question must be addressed blending demand and supply measures. It is Europe's turn to focus especially on preventive measures, reducing cannabis consumption among the youth," he urged. "Cannabis causes most of the health damage of tobacco smoking," Costa bizarrely claimed. "Its active components cause paranoia and cognitive impairment," he added for good measure.

And provide half the income of Morocco's cannabis growing families, according to the report.

Visit http://www.unodc.org/unodc/Morocco/ to read the UNODC Illicit Crop Monitoring Program report, Morocco Cannabis Survey 2003.


10. Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases

Will it be a jolly green Christmas or a stocking full of ashes? Canadian cannabis consumers and advocates will find out on Tuesday, when the Canadian Supreme Court will announce its ruling in a trio of cases that have the potential to nullify the country's laws against marijuana possession. In an announcement sent out on its e-mail list, the court said it would rule on the cases at 9:45am on December 23.

The appellants in all three cases, David Malmo-Levine, Victor Caine and Christopher Clay, were all found guilty of marijuana possession offenses. All three appealed their convictions, arguing the Canadian Charter of Rights prohibits the government from creating criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

In recent years, Canadian marijuana policy has been in severe flux, with some Canadian courts briefly legalizing marijuana possession because of the government's failure to act to make medical marijuana available to patients. The government of recently retired former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, meanwhile, proceeded with a bill that would have decriminalized marijuana possession, but increased penalties for all but the smallest grow ops. That bill died when Chretien adjourned parliament last month, but as DRCNet reported last week, new Prime Minister Paul Martin has indicated he will reintroduce the bill.

But all of that could be rendered moot by a favorable Supreme Court decision Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Visit http://www.cannabislink.ca/legal/index.htm#affidavits for affidavits, filings and decisions in the trio of cases.


11. Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway

Mama Coca (http://www.mamacoca.org) is spearheading a petition drive asking for an end to the spraying of dangerous herbicides as part of the US-backed effort to eradicate the Colombian coca crop. The group, an international organization of scholars and activists with an interest in illicit crops, was founded in response to the environmental damage associated with Plan Colombia, the joint effort by the US and the government of President Alvaro Uribe to end Colombia's four-decade civil war by wiping out both the coca economy and the leftist rebels of the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) and ELN (National Liberation Army).

According to environmentalists, the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate has damaged licit as well as illicit crops, poisoned waterways, and caused injury and sickness to livestock and humans. In October 2002, Colombian government ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes called for the suspension of the spraying program in Putumayo state, citing more than 6,000 complaints of damage to food crops and a "severe humanitarian crisis" provoked by the combination of armed conflict and widespread spraying. He was ignored by the Uribe administration.

While Mama Coca has always been among the panoply of environmental, human rights, peace and other groups opposing the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate on Colombian peasants' coca fields, recent actions by the US and Colombian governments have made the issue even more critical. Earlier this month, in conference committee deliberations over the omnibus US appropriations bill, supporters of Plan Colombia won approval of language that would allow the spraying of glyphosate in Colombia's national parks under certain conditions. Those conditions are that the spraying not violate Colombian law and that "there are no effective alternatives" to eradicate coca crops in those locations.

But in June, the Uribe administration attempted to open the way to spraying in Colombia's park by means of an administrative resolution from the National Anti-Narcotics Directorate. That move, however, contradicts Colombia's 1991 constitution, which leaves control of parks in the Ministry of the Environment.

"The US Congress demands that aerial eradication with chemical substances be only used as an extreme measure," wrote Mama Coca in its petition. "We demand that Human Rights be respected and that the Precautionary Principle be abided by... [as Colombia has agreed to do by adopting the Cartagena Protocol to the International Convention on Biological Diversity]... and according to which, when and where there is a risk of severe and irreversible damage, the lack of certainty should not be used as a reason for applying measures which could lead to the degradation of people's health and environment. We demand a halt to fumigation."

The open petitions will be delivered to the Organization of American States, the Interamerican Drug Abuse Control Commission, the Interamerican Human Rights Court, the United Nations Environmental Program, and the Colombian state council.

To read and sign the petition in English, visit:
http://www.mamacoca.org/FSMT_sept_2003/index.php3?lang=en

To read and sign the petition in Spanish, visit:
http://www.mamacoca.org/FSMT_sept_2003/index.php3

To read and sign the petition in French, visit:
http://www.mamacoca.org/FSMT_sept_2003/index.php3?lang=fr


12. Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife

Marijuana is the cause of renewed outbreaks of violence in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State, a leading drug cop told the Nigerian newspaper the Vanguard last week. In a December 8 interview with the Vanguard, the Delta State commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Aju Okopi-amen said, "the singular rise in drug addiction could be responsible for the resurgent ethnic hostilities and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region."

And the drug in question is none other than marijuana, he added. "Cannabis alias Indian hemp is by far the most problematic indigenous drug issue the Delta State Command has had to contend with," he said. "It produces human suffering of immense proportion. It has wrecked homes, killed many of our invaluable youths through mental illness, and caused youth restiveness that is not easily curable."

Wow, that must be some pot they're growing! And growing it they are, according to Okopi-amen, who said the state ranked among Nigeria's top three marijuana producers. His men had seized almost 18 tons of Delta weed in the past six months, he said, as well as "3.3kg of psychotropic substances, 882 pinches of heroin and 283 pinches of cocaine." And the marijuana growing thwarts the country's development, he added. "The people dissipate their energy on the cultivation of this terrible plant that could have been redirected to growing economic crops through which the nation's dependence on oil, as foreign exchange would be changed."

[Editor's Note: Nigerian marijuana is an "economic crop" in the truest sense. It is grown for domestic consumption and exported, mainly to Western Europe, and is increasingly substituted for licit crops precisely because it is more profitable, according to the International Narcotics Control Board's latest annual report.]

It would be extremely convenient for the Nigerian government if marijuana were at the root of its social problems in the Delta. But teenage Ijaw tribesmen, who have launched an armed rebellion in the region against ethnic rivals, Nigerian security forces, and international oil companies since March, have not mentioned marijuana as either a grievance or a precipitant of violence. Instead, they accuse the oil companies and the Nigerian government of pumping oil riches from their land and giving them nothing in return but polluted landscapes.


13. Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is warning of a looming humanitarian crisis among opium-growing peasants in the ethnic Wa region of Myanmar's (Burma's) remote Shan State when an opium eradication program it is sponsoring goes into full effect after the 2005-2006 crop year. Farmers in the region -- some of the poorest in a poor country -- depend on miniscule opium plots to provide cash that allows them to buy rice when their land doesn't produce enough to feed their families.

While the United Nations has begun alternative development programs, it still expects significant problems as peasants lose as much as half their cash incomes -- about $250 a year -- once eradication goes into complete effect. In an interview published Monday by the UN press agency, UN Wire, UNODC Myanmar Representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu called the risk of a humanitarian crisis "very real," adding, "it is more than a risk, it's becoming a reality."

The eradication campaign is aimed at Wa-controlled territories within the Shan State, areas remote from and not under the control of the central government in Yangon (Rangoon). In this mountainous and remote region near the Chinese border, tribal languages and Chinese are heard more frequently than Burmese, and Western tourists are not permitted. According to the UNODC, some 343 villages in the area grow opium to make up for rice shortages, and UN representatives in the area are also expecting trouble. Project manager Jeremy Milsom told UN Wire it would be "very difficult" for villagers to make up the difference and there would be "severe difficulties" when the ban goes into effect.

Government officials, both regional and national, are expressing little concern. United Wa State Party leader Xiao Mingliang told reporters in Pang Sang, capital of the Wa region, that there will be food shortages after the cutoff, but that the crop substitution and alternative development would ameloriate the worst effects. Li Zu Ru, vice chairman of the party's central committee said preparations were in place, before mysteriously adding that peasants totally reliant on the poppy crop have already been relocated.

Meanwhile, emergency food aid for the region has already begun. The UN World Food Program delivered 760 tons of rice to famine-threatened former opium farmers in the region in November. Since the ban began to be implemented in the 2001-002 growing season, tens of thousands of farmers have turned to alternative crops, but have been driven to the brink of starvation by low prices and poor yields.


14. Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Hemp Advocacy

DRCNet readers may be interested in knowing that Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a company which has been the driving force behind the legal challenge to DEA's attempt to ban hemp foods, is now offering "Gertrude & Bronner's Magic Alpsnack," a certified organic nutrition bar made with organic hemp nuts, almonds and fruits. Alpsnack is a partnership with Gertrude Spindler, whose mother made nut and fruit bars similar to Alpsnack in the Swiss village of Cham during the difficult post-WWII famine years.

ALL PROFITS FROM ALPSNACK ARE DESIGNATED TO SUPPORT ADVOCACY FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP. The Bronner family is a major supporter of Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association's legal, media, grassroots and lobbying efforts to re-commercialize industrial hemp, and company president David Bronner is an active key board member of both organizations. Alpsnack will soon be available on store shelves around the country, but in the meantime you can visit http://www.alpsnack.com to order Alpsnack online, for further information, and for a scenic view of Cham. A box of twelve Alpsnack bars would make a delicious holiday treat for family and friends!

Hemp nut is the shelled seed from industrial hemp (non-psychoactive cannabis grown for fiber and seed) and is an ancient food source that supplies high amounts of omega-3 fatty acid and easily digestible, well-balanced protein. Alpsnack contains over 500 mg of omega-3, and is dairy, gluten and wheat free. Alpsnack also complies with the TestPledge standards adopted by many North American companies using hemp seed in food products to assure consumers that eating hemp foods will not interfere with workplace drug-testing.

In other news from Dr. Bronner's, their famous natural soap line, which comes in bar form and in 8 and 32 oz. bottles, is now made with organic oils. Certified by Oregon Tilth under USDA organic standards, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps are now made with organic coconut, olive, hemp and jojoba oils, and most are scented with organic essential oils. Dr. Bronner's products contain no synthetics, no petrochemicals and no floral water fluff; and all cylinder bottles are now made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), a marketplace first pioneered by Dr. Bronner's. The bar soaps are wrapped in Living Tree Paper's Vanguard Recycled Plus 10% HempFlax / 90% PCR paper.

For further information, visit:

http://www.alpsnack.com
http://www.drbronner.com
http://www.VoteHemp.org
http://www.theHIA.org
http://www.TestPledge.com

15. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime

Due to funding shortfalls, DRCNet has been forced to suspend our web-based write-to Congress program. We will bring it back to life as soon as you and other DRCNet supporters make it possible through your financial contributions. Please visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ and make the most generous donation that you can!

Most importantly, don't let this temporary setback at DRCNet prevent you from lobbying Congress. We intend to continue to issue legislative action alerts in the meantime, and you can act on them by calling your US Representative and your two Senators on the phone; go through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or visit http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov to look up their names and phone and fax numbers or to contact them via e-mail or web form. The information contained on the alert pages of our legislative web sites will provide you with sufficient information to take such action. There are current action alerts posted at:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/
http://stopthedrugwar.org/justice/
http://stopthedrugwar.org/stopthehelicopters/
http://www.raiseyourvoice.com
It's important that we get the web-based service online as soon as possible, for a few reasons:
  1. E-mails to Congress are more important and effective now than they were in the past, since the 2001 anthrax attacks and the resulting slowness and unreliability of snail-mail to Capitol Hill;
  2. The ease of going to a web site, reviewing and editing a prewritten letter, typing in your address and sending it at the click of a mouse, is highly effective for increasing our participation rates and resulting impact on Congress;
  3. The action alert web sites are a highly effective means for recruiting new people onto our e-mail lists, growing the movement and doing so in the process of carrying out needed grassroots activism -- and ultimately increasing our potential donor base and ability to maintain and enhance these services;
  4. The system lets us look up subsets of our list based on geography (e.g. state, congressional district, city, state legislative district, county), and target action alerts to people who live in the key areas whose legislators or officials need to be lobbied especially vigorously due to their membership on committees responsible for active legislation or other reasons; and
  5. The personalization features the online system provides us allow us to send each of you individualized e-mails containing the name and phone number of your legislators, making it easier for you to take it to the next level of lobbying by phone, thereby increasing the number of phone calls to Congress that we can generate, a crucial show of passion for the issue that members of Congress need to see. For example, if you've used our write-to-Congress web forms in the last 2 3/4 years, you've probably received a few e-mails from us recently with text like the following:

    "If you haven't moved since we last communicated (zip code ___ in ___, __, than your US Representative is Rep. ___. Please call Rep. ___ at ____ and ask him to vote YES on ___ when it comes to a vote on the House floor..."
So while we can continue to send you legislative alerts without the online lobbying system, we can't make use of any of those extremely powerful features described in the paragraphs above. In order to resume our use of the service, we need to pay off our balance with the company that provides it as well as raise additional funds to ensure we can continue to afford it after that. All in all, we need to raise at least $10,000 in non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, to reactivate the service and be fiscally responsible in continuing to subscribe to it. While this sounds like a lot of money, it's only slightly more than members like you gave us during our most successful previous fundraising appeal.

So please take a few moments to send DRCNet a few dollars today and make it happen! Please visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to make a contribution by credit card or PayPal or to print out a form to send in with your check -- or just send your donation by mail to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network to support our lobbying work (like the action alert program) are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible contributions to support our educational work can be made to the DRCNet Foundation, same address. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number: 772973012, DTC number: 0188, make sure to contact us directly to let us know that the stocks are there and whether they are meant for the Drug Reform Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.


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. The Reformer's Calendar

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

January 7-10, 2004, Manchester, NH, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Annual Conference, held at the New Hampshire College Convention. E-mail nh2004@ssdp.org, call (202) 293-4414 or visit http://nh2004.ssdp.org for further information.

January 24, 2004, 4:00pm-3:00am, Brickell, FL, 6th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert, supporting medical marijuana campaigns by Florida NORML and Florida Cannabis Action Network. Admission $10, at Tobacco Road, 626 South Miami Ave., 21 or older with ID, contact (305) 374-1198 or Ploppy Palace Productions at p3_ntity@bellsouth.net 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.

March 27, 2004, noon-6:00pm, Sacramento, CA, Medical Marijuana Rally. At the State Capitol, L & 12th, north steps, featuring singer/songwriter Dave's Not Here, speakers, entertainment. Contact Peter Keyes at peter@compassionatecoalition.com or (916) 456-7933 for further information.

April 18-20, 2004, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!", March on Washington and Chronic Pain Patients Leadership Summit. For further information, visit http://www.PainReliefNetwork.org or contact Mary Vargas at (202)-331-8864 or Siobhan Reynolds at (212)-873-5848.

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.

April 22-24, Washington, DC, NORML conference, details pending, visit http://www.norml.org for updates.

May 20-22, Charlottesville, VA, Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. At the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com for further information.

September 18, 2004, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 15th Annual Freedom Rally, visit http://www.masscann.org for further information.


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