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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #389 -- 6/3/05

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"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

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Table of Contents

    US Congressman Criticizes Drug War at
    Seattle Fundraiser Wednesday Night
  1. FEATURE: US CONGRESSMAN CRITICIZES DRUG WAR AT JOHN W. PERRY FUND RECEPTION IN SEATTLE
    More than 50 Seattle area drug reformers, educators, and political figures led by US Rep. Jim McDermott gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Seattle for a successful fundraiser for a scholarship program set up by DRCNet to provide financial aid to students losing financial aid for college because of drug convictions.
  2. FEATURE: BRITISH COURTS REJECT MEDICAL MARIJUANA NECESSITY DEFENSE
    The British Court of Appeal has ruled that medical marijuana users or suppliers in the United Kingdom may not avoid conviction by raising a medical necessity defense. But they also left the way open for an appeal to the House of Lords.
  3. FEATURE: HIGH SCHOOL DRUG BUST AND HARD-LINE PROSECUTOR PROVE VOLATILE MIX IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS COUNTY
    An eight-month undercover investigation and mass arrest of minor offenders seemed like business as usual -- until a hard-line prosecutor announced he would charge them under the state's draconian "drug free school zone" law, inciting a civic rebellion that has yet to reach a conclusion.
  4. WEEKLY: THIS WEEK'S CORRUPT COPS STORIES
    Another week, another busted Border Patrol agent, another crooked cop going to the pen, a prosecutor gone bad headed to the same place -- and a case from New York City that demonstrates the moral rot at the heart of drug law enforcement.
  5. MEDICAL MARIJUANA: LAWMAKERS RAID OREGON MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM SURPLUS
    Oregon legislators seeking to get the state Department of Human Services budget out of the red are moving on a bill that would reduce the deficit by, among other things, grabbing $900,000 in medical marijuana user fees currently sitting in a state Office of Medical Marijuana account.
  6. SENTENCING: 9TH CIRCUIT SAYS PRISONERS WITH APPEALS PENDING CAN CHALLENGE SENTENCES
    The fall-out from a pair of Supreme Court decisions upending the nearly 20-year-old federal sentencing guidelines scheme continues.
  7. SENTENCING: CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR VETOES BILL THAT WOULD HAVE ELIMINATED CRACK AND POWDER COCAINE SENTENCING DISPARITIES
    Connecticut's Republican governor, Jodi Rell, vetoed legislation Thursday that would have eliminated the disparity in sentences involving crack versus powder cocaine.
  8. MARIJUANA: ALASKA GOVERNOR PLOTTING AGAINST MARIJUANA AGAIN, EYES 2006 SESSION
    Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski is addicted to criminalization and has vowed to pursue recently defeated anti-marijuana bills again next year.
  9. MARIJUANA: MILTON FRIEDMAN AND 500 ECONOMISTS CALL FOR DEBATE ON PROHIBITION AS STUDY SUGGESTS REGULATION COULD SAVE BILLIONS
    Using the Wednesday release of a cost study of marijuana prohibition as a peg, more than 500 economists led by free market apostle Milton Friedman are calling for a national debate on moving toward regulated marijuana markets.
  10. ASIA: CHINA SAYS DRUG WAR IS FAILING
    Blaming free trade and globalization, the authoritarian government of the planet's most populous nation conceded Thursday that its multiple crackdowns on drugs have failed to blunt increasing use.
  11. AUSTRALIA: FIRST "DRUGGED DRIVER" TO SUE POLICE FOR DEFAMATION
    Forty-year-old John de John was exonerated of "drugged driving" by a laboratory, but only after TV camera crews had filmed his being stopped, forced to submit to drug tests and accused by police. Now he is suing the Australian state of Victoria for defamation.
  12. ASIA: PHILIPPINES FARMERS SAY NO ROAD, NO END TO MARIJUANA GROWING
    Elders and officials in the remote Philippine region of Ifugao are "no longer excited" about participating in marijuana eradication programs. Their complaint -- the government has failed in its promise to build roads, and legal crops therefore cannot make it to market before rotting.
  13. JOB LISTING: NATIONAL FIELD ORGANIZER, ACLU DRUG LAW REFORM PROJECT
    The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project is hiring.
  14. WEEKLY: THE REFORMER'S CALENDAR
    Showing up at an event can be the best way to get involved! Check out this week's listings for events from today through next year, across the US and around the world!

(Chronicle archives)


1. Feature: US Congressman Criticizes Drug War at John W. Perry Fund Reception in Seattle
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/seattle.shtml

Rep. Jim McDermott, the high-profile US Congressman from Seattle, took a first step in making opposition to the drug war an active priority in a speech delivered to a Seattle gathering last Wednesday night.

US Rep. Jim McDermott
7th district, Washington

Organized by DRCNet Foundation and local host the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project, Wednesday's reception was attended by more than 50 Seattle area drug reformers, educators, and political figures, and raised money for the John W. Perry Fund, a scholarship program set up by DRCNet to provide financial aid to students whose federal aid is delayed or denied because they have drug convictions. While the fundraiser was the first West Coast stop in the organization's national Perry Fund tour -- it has also held events in Washington, DC, Boston and New York -- it will not be the last, DRCNet organizers promised.

In addition to Rep. McDermott, Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata attended, and US Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) sent a representative to read a statement in support of the Perry Fund and the broader effort to repeal the federal law that makes it necessary, the Higher Education Act's drug provision, the 1998 brainchild of arch-drug warrior Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder. Also in attendance was much of the leadership of Seattle's groundbreaking drug reform community, including KCBA's Roger Goodman, who emceed the event, and civic leaders from the League of Women Voters and other organizations involved with KCBA's drug policy reform efforts.

Under the HEA drug provision, more than 165,000 students have been denied loans, grants, even work-study jobs. Since the provision's passage, a campaign initiated by DRCNet has seen more than 200 educational, civil rights, drug reform and religious groups take a stand against the law in an effort to undo the damage, many of them under the umbrella of the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform. Additionally, more than 115 student governments have passed resolutions calling for the law's repeal. A bill sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to repeal the provision, HR 1184, now has 66 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including Rep. McDermott.

In the meantime, there's the Perry Fund. Named after a New York City policeman, ACLU and Libertarian Party activist who also held a law degree and died attempting to rescue people from the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, since fall 2003 the Fund has made it possible for a small number of HEA drug provision victims to go to school and raised awareness of the provision in the process.

David Borden converses with Rep. McDermott,
adjacent a display list of organizations supporting
repeal of the HEA drug provision.
After Goodman opened the evening with a pitch for donations to the Perry Fund, calling the HEA drug provision "one of the most egregious examples of the wrongheadedness of the war on drugs," DRCNet executive director David Borden addressed the audience, bringing it up to date on the state of the effort to repeal the HEA drug provision before pointing out to the Seattle crowd that the provision is also affecting Washington state student loan policies. "We've learned more recently about how state and federal financial aid systems are intertwined," Borden explained. "It turns out that Washington students are losing their state financial aid as well -- even though the legislature has never voted to do that -- because the state uses the federal financial aid determination to decide who is eligible and drug offenders thereby slip through the cracks."

Clarkson Reed, a substance abuse counselor and harm reduction advocate from nearby Lynnwood, Washington, put a local face on the problem. After serving a five-year prison sentence "for $640 worth of drugs," Reed went to school. "I was lucky enough to get into the University of Washington, where I graduated with honors, and since then I've been working on chemical dependency issues," he told the crowd. "I graduated in 1997 [before the drug provision was passed], but when I tried to go back later to get my master's degree, now I couldn't get the student loans."

Reed works with homeless youth and injection drug users. "I'm doing harm reduction work, and I wouldn't have been able to do that without the education I received," he said. "There are so many people out there trying to change their lives -- they got in trouble over a little marijuana or something -- but when they're ready and willing to help themselves, this law throws an obstacle in their paths."

Reed was followed by keynote speaker Rep. McDermott, much to the delight of his Seattle constituents. Calling the war on drugs "an absolute, abject failure" and situating the HEA drug provision squarely within that broader policy, Rep. McDermott lashed out at what he described as "a misguided missile launched from Congress."

"It's fair to say we are losing this war, this war on Americans in our own communities who made a mistake, paid the price, and are now blocked from becoming productive members of society," McDermott said. "It's the biggest mistake Congress has made in years."

Lisa Cipollone, representing
US Sen. Maria Cantwell

After noting the shifting burden of paying higher education, with students and their families now expected to take up more and more of the costs, McDermott qualified the provision as "a perfect storm" for poor students with drug convictions. "It's really just stupid and laughable," he said. "You want to deny a kid access to higher education and condemn him to a life of poverty and minimum wage jobs for the rest of his life? Is that what John Perry would have wanted? John Perry didn't stand around at the World Trade Center asking people if they had a drug conviction!" McDermott exclaimed, drawing an appreciative laugh from the crowd.

"This provision has created a staggering cost to society, with 165,000 students who have been affected so far, who have already paid for their offenses," McDermott wound down. "That is why a number of my colleagues put together HR 1184, a return to a sane and sound policy. This provision is such a patent inequity, there is no answer but repeal."

McDermott's active participation impressed prominent Seattle marijuana reform activist Dominic Holden, who, along with other Seattle reformers has been trying for years to get the congressman to come out for an event. "After years of general support for drug reform, McDermott's presence at this event demonstrates his commitment to actively participate with the movement," said Holden. "And he's not just a supporter of drug reform as good policy, but he is very passionate and thoughtful on a very humane level about the negative effects of the drug war. He wants change because it's better for the country, not for any political benefit."

McDermott's participation in the Wednesday fundraiser will have an effect beyond raising scholarship money for affected students, said Holden. "The funds raised tonight were valuable for those kids who will be able to use them to go to college, but for the drug reform movement as a whole the work that DRCNet has done to enlist our congressman will last much longer."

McDermott was followed by Lisa Cipollone, director of Sen. Maria Cantwell's King County office, who read a statement from Cantwell thanking the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform and the John W. Perry Fund and promising to continue working on the issue. "Having the chance to go to college should not be restricted due to an individual's past mistakes, including drug offenses," Cantwell wrote, continuing "The drug provision places undue restrictions on financial aid and must be repealed."

Wednesday's speakers (l-r): David Borden, David Guard, Rep. McDermott, Cindy Beavon,
Roger Goodman, Dan Merkle, Andy Ko, Clarkson Reed, not pictured: Lisa Cipollone
Andy Ko, director of the ACLU of Washington's Drug Policy Reform Program, who surprised and enlightened attendees by revealing that he and Perry had known each other when they attended law school together at New York University. Ko was not surprised that Perry died trying to help people in trouble, he said. "That's exactly what John would do; if there was trouble he would run directly into it."

Following Ko was Center for Social Justice executive director Dan Merkle, who described the war on drugs as part of a broader repressive policy. "These policies are designed to provide a tool for the elites to repress troublesome subject populations," Merkle said. The HEA drug provision is part and parcel of that policy, said Merkle.

And representing the current generation of students was Cindy Beavon, a Seattle native attending Brown University in Rhode Island, where she is active with Students for Sensible Drug Policy. "It is time for the DARE generation to stand up and say we can no longer tolerate this war being fought in our name," Beavon said. She then thanked Rep. Souder, the author of the drug provision. "Without your help," she said, "SSDP would not have developed into the multi-faceted organization it is today," Beavon said to laughs and cheers.

Then it was time for people to put pen to checkbook for the cause. Encouraged by DRCNet associate director David Guard, who cajoled attendees to be generous, Seattle area donors kicked in enough to provide scholarships for two or three students this year. Backing him up was John Perry's mother, Patricia, who was not able to attend in person but was there in spirit -- as well as checkbook, having pledged a $1,000 donation in honor of the event in hopes of spurring increased donations from attendees.

"A friend of mine from Seattle called McDermott a 'rock star' when I told him he was speaking for us, and now I understand why people here appreciate him so much," Borden said. "McDermott didn't just say things we wanted to hear about the issue; he did his best to rev people up to donate and to believe they can change things. And he was actively interested in talking to people and hearing about how the Fund and the campaign had gotten started."

Event proceeds so far exceed $2,500, according to Borden, with more expected. And he predicts having "at least $10,000 to give away in 2005-2006, hopefully $20,000, a substantial increase over previous school years." And if sufficient to help but a few students, enough at least to make a statement. In the meanwhile, the Perry Fund will continue its meandering event series -- Los Angeles, New York City and Santa Fe are possible next stages.

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2. Feature: British Courts Reject Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/ukcourts.shtml

The British Court of Appeal has ruled that medical marijuana users or suppliers in the United Kingdom may not avoid conviction by arguing that their conduct was "excused or justified by the need to avoid a greater evil." If the court had ruled in favor of the so-called necessity defense, the use and supply of medical marijuana would have been effectively legalized in Britain. But this ruling puts British medical marijuana users and suppliers in the same boat with other cannabis consumers on the Sceptered Isle.

In a nod to the controversy over the medicinal use of marijuana, however, the court also held that the issue was one of great public importance. That finding leaves the way open for an appeal to the House of Lords.

In the May 27 ruling, the Court of Appeal was not swayed by evidence that marijuana was more effective than some conventional forms of pain relief or by evidence that it does not have potentially serious or life-threatening side effects. Despite such evidence, the court held that the necessity defense could only apply to people who broke the law in order to avoid "imminent danger of physical injury."

In upholding the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, the three-judge panel found that the act's general prohibition on marijuana meant that the "disbenefits" of allowing the medicinal use of marijuana outweighed any benefits individual patients may perceive. Marijuana was made a controlled substance under that act and was scheduled as a Class B, like heroin or amphetamines, until last year, when it was rescheduled as a less harmful Class C drug. But in the wake of widely publicized research suggesting a link between mental health problems and marijuana use, the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has asked for that decision to be reviewed.

The Court of Appeals ruling bundled together appeals of convictions by five people and a review of one case, that of Jeffrey Ditchfield of North Wales, who was acquitted in a lower court of possessing marijuana with the intent to supply after he successfully used the necessity defense. Ditchfield was wrongfully acquitted, the Court of Appeal said; the necessity defense should not have been applied. Despite the high court's ruling, Ditchfield cannot be retried.

In the other cases, the court upheld the convictions of double amputee Barry Quayle, Reay Wales, who used cannabis to relief pain from serious bone and pancreatic conditions; Graham Kenny, who used it for chronic back pain; and Anthony Taylor and his assistant, May Po Lee, convicted of importing marijuana for distribution to the 700 patients of Taylor's holistic health clinic in London's King's Cross. All had been given fines, community service, or suspended jail sentences.

Norfolk anesthetist Dr. William Notcutt, whose research was used to help develop the cannabis-based drug Sativex and who submitted written evidence in favor of medical marijuana to the court, said the ruling means that patients will be forced into criminality. "I'm not entirely surprised by this decision, but it serves to highlight the importance of making a medicinal product available to patients as soon as possible," he told the Eastern Daily Press (UK) after the decision came down. "The treatment has been available for more than two years now, and we are still not able to prescribe it. Only today I talked to a patient who could benefit hugely from such treatment," Notcutt said. "From a patient's point of view it must be very frustrating. They don't want to break the law, but until a medicinal alternative is available, some may feel they have to."

Notcutt pointedly observed that while Sativex has now been approved for use in Canada, British health authorities have refused to approve it in the land where it was developed. "The most galling thing is doctors in Canada will soon be able to prescribe Sativex, and we're trailing behind. The treatment has been available for two years now, and we are still not able to prescribe it."

While the British Medical Association opposes the medicinal use of marijuana as unsafe and unproven, Dr. Peter Maguire, the deputy chair of the organization's Board of Science, seemed to suggest it could live with Sativex. "BMA research has shown that crude cannabis is unsuitable for medical use because it contains toxic components that are harmful to human health," he told the BBC News. "However the potential for cannabis-based medicines to offer effective pain relief can not be overlooked and the BMA would like to see more research in this area."

But doctors' apparent sympathies for a cannabis-based medicine sold by prescription for the profit of a pharmaceutical company are unlikely to bring much solace to medical marijuana users and supporters in Britain. As of last week, they are back out on the streets with the rest of the country's pot smokers.

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3. Feature: High School Drug Bust and Hard-Line Prosecutor Prove Volatile Mix in Western Massachusetts County
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/volatilemix.shtml

It all started last fall in Western Massachusetts' Berkshire County, when, after an eight-month long undercover investigation and sting by the county sheriff's office, officers arrested 18 young people, most under the age of 20, for small-scale drug dealing and drug possession. So far, business as usual. But when Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless announced he would charge most of them, including seven people charged only with selling small amounts of marijuana, under the state's draconian drug-free school zone law, he incited a civic rebellion that has yet to reach a conclusion.

heartless district attorney David Capeless

Like school-zone laws across the country, the Massachusetts law increases the punishment for people violating drug laws within arbitrarily designated distances from schools, parks, or other designated places. In the Bay State, the measure is 1000 feet, and the school-zone law adds a mandatory minimum two-year sentence to the underlying drug offense.

In the Great Barrington bust, the school zone for most cases was actually a movie theater parking lot within 1,000 feet of a church basement pre-school. Thus, prosecutors could charge those netted with school-zone violations. The question that has divided the community is whether he should.

In March, when DA Capeless announced he was pursuing school-zone charges, alarm bells began to sound. As residents became convinced that Capeless could not be swayed, they formed a community group, Concerned Citizens for Appropriate Justice, to seek more appropriate charges and consequences in the cases.

"The impetus behind the group was that fact that so many families were affected," said CCAJ member Ira Kaplan, a former Berkshire County deputy DA. "As a practicing defense attorney, I spoke with a number of people -- moms and dads, brothers and uncles, friends and cousins -- who knew the 17 young people charged with school-zone violations. They all agreed that some punishment was fitting for alleged drug sales in town, but to a person, they all thought two years in prison was too much," he told DRCNet. "In particular, it was too much for those kids who are 17, 18, 19 years old and for whom this is the first offense of any kind. And seven of them were charged only with selling small amounts of marijuana."

That prosecutorial inflexibility rubbed the wrong way, said Kaplan. "A prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not to exact the maximum potential penalty. You are paid by the state and the taxpayers to do the right thing, and sending a 17-year-old to jail for two years for selling a couple of joints does not seem like the right thing."

In March, the group met twice with Capeless, to no avail. At first, Capeless claimed the law required him to file the charges, but while he later backed away from that claim, he remained steadfast in insisting on charging the young people with the charge carrying the mandatory minimum sentence.

The group argued that Capeless was out of line with other prosecutors in the state, and they had some evidence to back them up. According to a study of school-zone charges and convictions, in 1998 in the six least-populated counties in the state, five had no school-zone convictions, while Berkshire had nine. Berkshire County's percentage of school-zone convictions was 14.2% of all drug charges, a number more than twice the state average and exceeded only by heavily urban Hampden County, with 16% of all drug arrests ending up in school-zone convictions.

By the way, that same study of the school zone law, published in 2001 by the Boston University School of Public Health, found the law worse than useless: "It appears from the study findings that the school zone statute (a) does not make the areas around schools particularly safe for children; (b) cannot reasonably be expected to do so; and (c) perhaps as a result, is not used by prosecutors in a way calculated to move dealing away from schools. Instead the law operates generally to raise the penalty level for drug dealing and does so in ways that are unpredictable for defendants."

If Berkshire County seems hard-core on school-zone prosecutions in general, the picture is even more striking when looking at school-zone prosecutions for marijuana sales. According to the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, last year there were a grand total of two pot-selling school-zone cases in Superior Courts across the entire state. If DA Capeless holds his ground, his small county will prosecute seven in just this one case.

Three weeks ago, Capeless made it clear that he still intends to do just that. He intends to "stay the course in the prosecution of school-zone drug-dealing offenses," he said in a May 12 press statement. "For over 13 years, (former) District Attorney (Gerard) Downing and I pursued a policy of charging and prosecuting school-zone cases, whenever the facts supported them," the statement reads. "This past year, I have continued that policy because it is even-handed and fair, and because it has proven effective. I intend to continue that policy."

His critics do not understand how dangerous marijuana is, Capeless said. "Marijuana is dangerous among teens, and sale is a serious issue and should be prosecuted that way," he said, adding that drug abuse is "a horrible scourge on our community. The effects it has are physical, mental and psychological. The abuse of drugs is the single biggest issue we deal with, and it's related to all sorts of things, including violence... It's difficult to have a reasonable argument with anyone who thinks selling marijuana is not a serious crime."

Capeless' refusal to heed the voices of his constituents has attracted interest in statewide drug reform circles. Whitney Taylor and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts have joined the fray, adding Taylor's years of drug reform experience to the Berkshire County voices calling for a policy shift. Taylor is working with CCAJ on a paid media campaign and its continuing petition campaign for leniency, which is now up to 2,500 signatures.

"I was contacted by community members who knew about the bust and knew a bunch of the kids," Taylor told DRCNet. "The group had started the petition and was trying to work with the DA to look at the cases in this sting individually and charge them based on criminal histories and danger to the community -- things you would think he would consider. Despite getting nowhere with DA Capeless, the group was keeping things quiet, but then he threw down the gauntlet by issuing that press release, so I went back to the group and said we had to go on the offensive. And here we are."

Where they are this week is turning up the pressure on DA Capeless. CCAJ held a news conference Tuesday at the Triplex Cinema overlooking the notorious parking lot to demand Capeless change his charging habits. The area has "very serious problems here that needed strong action by the law enforcement community and it has been effective in making downtown Great Barrington a safer place," said Erik Bruun, one of CCAJ's founders. But the mindless application of the school-zone law, he said, "is costly, unjust and [has] destructive consequences that have absolutely zero correlation to making this a safer community."

Between press conferences, media coverage, letters to the editor, favorable editorials, and the paid media campaign, the effort to win more just charging policies in Berkshire County has led to a newly mobilized drug reform citizenry in the Berkshires. Emboldened perhaps by last year's defeat of hard-line drug war prosecutor Paul Clyne not so far away across the state line in Albany, NY, CCAJ and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts are vowing to either change the DA's charging policies or change the DA.

"By failing to exercise his prosecutorial discretion, Capeless is abusing that discretion," said Kaplan. "In this case, blind justice is truly blind. If we cannot get him to come around, we are discussing many options. Those include changing the law, but the worst problem is not the law but its application here. We are also continuing to apply pressure on this DA, and there is talk about finding someone to run against him."

"We're kicking some butt," chortled Taylor. "The DA is running scared, and he should because we are going to take this to the end. Either Capeless is going to announce that he is changing his policy, or he is going to announce that he has lost the next election."

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4. Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/thisweek1.shtml

Another week, another busted Border Patrol agent, another crooked cop going to the pen, a prosecutor gone bad headed to the same place -- just the usual in the drug war-related law enforcement corruption. But also this week, a case from New York City that, while not a classic case of financial corruption, demonstrates the moral rot at the heart of drug law enforcement. Let's get to it:

In Laredo, Texas, the May 10 indictment of Senior Border Patrol Agent Juan Alfredo Alvarez, 35, and his brother Jose on bribery and drug conspiracy charges has resulted in guilty pleas from both, the US Attorneys Office in Houston announced. The Alvarez brothers were accused of soliciting and receiving a $1.5 million bribe for turning a blind eye to truckloads of marijuana moving through checkpoints near Hebronville, Texas, where Officer Alvarez was the senior agent and drug dog handler. The Alvarez brothers pleaded guilty May 12 and now await sentencing.

In Amarillo, Texas, former "tough on drugs" District Attorney Rich Roach, 55, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison after being arrested at the courthouse in November on methamphetamine and weapons charges. Prosecutors dropped cocaine and meth possession charges in return for a guilty plea on a charge of unlawful drug possession by a drug addict. But saying that federal sentencing guidelines were inadequate for the betrayal of public trust Roach committed, US District Judge Mary Lou Robinson added 14 months to the statutory maximum sentence.

In Buffalo, New York, former Buffalo narcotics detective Paul Skinner is going to federal prison for seven years after being found guilty of violating the civil rights of drug suspects by filing false reports, planting evidence, and ripping off the people he was supposed to be investigating. During Skinner's trial, numerous witnessed testified to widespread corruption in the Buffalo Police narcotics squad, and Skinner's attorney, Paul Brown, told local TV news stations that Skinner's relatively light sentence may have been because the judge recognized there was a culture of corruption in the unit where Skinner worked. Two weeks ago, another member of the Buffalo narcotics squad, Sylvestre Acosta, was sentenced to 45 years in the same scandal.

In New York City, a black undercover narc is suing some of his NYPD coworkers for treating him the way they treat "civilian" drug offenders. According to the New York Post, Officer Carlton Foster has filed a $15 million lawsuit against three police officers and the supervisor of the Queens narcotics bureau. According to the lawsuit, Foster was working undercover in May 2004 when the police back-up team assigned to make the arrests moved in. The backup team allegedly cuffed and beat Foster, who was treated for a concussion and missed two weeks of work because of his injuries. When Foster complained in September that the officers involved had not been disciplined, he was transferred out of the unit, the lawsuit alleges. The suit also alleges the attack was racially motivated -- all four of the officers who assaulted Foster were white.

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5. Medical Marijuana: Lawmakers Raid Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Surplus
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/medmjsurplus.shtml

Oregon legislators seeking to get the state Department of Human Services budget out of the red are moving on a bill that would reduce the deficit by, among other things, grabbing $900,000 in medical marijuana user fees currently sitting in a state Office of Medical Marijuana account. The bill, House Bill 5077, also moves money from other surplus accounts into the Human Services general fund. It passed the House last week and, according to the Portland newspaper the Oregonian, is expected to pass the Senate as well.

Under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed as an initiative in 1998, would-be medical marijuana patients who have a qualifying medical condition and a doctor's written recommendation must pay a registration fee to the state in order to become a member of the program. That fee was originally set at $150 -- designed to recover program costs based on initial estimates that perhaps a thousand people would sign up. But the program quickly proved more popular -- there are now more than 10,000 patients registered -- and program managers cut fees accordingly in 2003 and again this year. Currently, the registration fee is $55, with Oregon Health Plan patients paying $20. But even with the fee reductions, the program still has a $1.1 million surplus.

"The idea was, over a two- or three-year period, to slowly reduce that excess fund where we'd have enough to keep the program operational and not have a huge balance," said Ron Prinslow, interim section manager for the state Office of Medical Marijuana.

That money could have been used to make the medical marijuana program better. Currently, for example, there is no 24-7 system allowing police to verify that a person is registered with the program. Now, it can only be done during business hours on weekdays. There is also the possibility that if the legislature gobbles up the program's surplus, fee increases could be on the way, Prinslow told the Oregonian.

Program supporters are not pleased to see legislators grabbing the surplus. "If any of this money came from the general fund, I'd agree that some of it should be transferred back. But the medical-marijuana program never cost the taxpayers a dime," said Dr. Rick Bayer, a physician who led the 1998 drive to legalize medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana activists have managed to get the ear of state Sen. Bill Morrisette (D-Springfield), who told the Oregonian he is trying to persuade his colleagues in the upper chamber to keep more of the surplus in the medical marijuana program in order to pay for program improvements he will propose later this session.

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6. Sentencing: 9th Circuit Says Prisoners with Appeals Pending Can Challenge Sentences
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/challenges.shtml

The fall-out from a pair of Supreme Court decisions upending the nearly 20-year-old federal sentencing guidelines scheme continues. In the latest response to the Supreme Court's dramatic decisions in the Blakely and Booker and Fan Fan cases, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Wednesday federal prisoners within its purview who are appealing their convictions can challenge their sentences.

In the Supreme Court cases, the high court held that only juries -- not judges -- could find facts, such as the amount of drugs involved, that would allow judges to exceed the maximum sentence when punishing offenders. As a result, the court held, the federal sentencing guidelines were unconstitutional and can now only be used in an advisory manner. The 9th Circuit Wednesday held that the only way for the Supreme Court's wishes to be followed was to allow those inmates to challenge their sentences.

The ruling came in USA v. Ameline, in which Alfred Ameline was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in 2002. Ameline did not admit possessing or distributing any quantity of the drug, but the presiding judges accepted prosecutors' contentions that he was responsible for 1,600 grams and sentenced him accordingly. Now, Ameline will be able to have a resentencing hearing. His attorney told the Associated Press he will seek a two-year sentence because the judge errantly accepted the government's estimate of the amount of drugs involved.

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.)

But Ameline isn't the only one who will benefit from the ruling. According to the 9th Circuit's opinion in the case, the number of federal prisoners who will get hearings is "perhaps in the thousands." The 9th Circuit includes nine Far West and Rocky Mountain states.

The 9th Circuit is not the first US Circuit Court to review sentencing in the wake of the Supreme Court rulings, and its decision conflicts with those of some other circuits, which have issued more restrictive opinions. In those circuits, the courts have held that prisoners can seek resentencing only if the record is clear the judge would have issued a different sentence if the guidelines had not been mandatory. With conflicts in the circuit courts, it appears the issue will eventually make its way back to the Supreme Court -- unless Congress, in its infinite wisdom, acts to make the matter moot by rewriting the sentencing laws.

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7. Sentencing: Connecticut Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Eliminated Crack and Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparities
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/ctveto.shtml

Connecticut's Republican governor, Jodi Rell, vetoed legislation Thursday that would have eliminated the disparity in sentences involving crack versus powder cocaine. The bill would have equalized penalties by raising the threshold for crack offenses to that of powder offenses. Under current law, to earn the same mandatory minimum five-year sentence for selling a half-gram of crack, someone would have to sell 28 grams of powder cocaine.

Like similar laws at the federal level and in many states, the Connecticut law has been harshly criticized as having a disproportionate impact on minorities. It has also contributed to the state's chronic prison overcrowding problems. The new law had been supported by a number of Connecticut criminal justice and civil rights organizations, who called on Rell to sign it into law.

Rell refused, saying the bill "sends an inappropriate message that the enforcement of our drug laws, especially with respect to crack cocaine, is being eased." But she also said she would work to reduce racial disparities in sentencing. "I have been deeply moved by the concerns and arguments that have been raised," Rell said. "I have also listened to the many painful stories of racial disparities, and I intend to act to address them."

Rell said she has requested that the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System make specific recommendations to do just that, and she has called on the Office of Policy and Management to make recommendations for possible legislative action.

In the meantime, Gov. Rell said she would sign a proposed alternative bill that would remove disparities by both increasing the amount of crack needed to trigger the mandatory minimum and decreasing the amount of powder cocaine needed to do so. Under that proposal, the threshold for both forms of the drug would be set at 14 grams. But Republicans in both the House and Senate already attempted to enact that plan as an amendment to the bill that passed. That effort was blocked by Democrats in the Democrat-controlled chambers.

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8. Marijuana: Alaska Governor Plotting Against Marijuana Again, Eyes 2006 Session
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/murkowski.shtml

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) is addicted to re-criminalizing marijuana. Defeated in the Alaska courts, which have ruled that the possession of up to a quarter pound of pot by adults in one's home in protected by the state constitution's privacy provisions, and shot down in the legislature, which declined this year to enact his bills which would have made marijuana once again illegal in Alaska, the never-say-die governor and his prohibitionist appointees are vowing to pursue them next year in the second half of the legislature's biennial session.

Frank Murkowski and John Walters
Murkowski and his allies hope to use the bills as a means of eventually returning the issue to the courts. In the landmark 1975 decision in Ravin v. Alaska, the state Supreme Court held that "there is no firm evidence that marijuana, as presently used in this country, is generally a danger to the user or to others," but added that its decision could be revised if new information showing a substantial negative relationship between marijuana use and the public welfare could be established.

In hearings on the bills earlier this year, Murkowski and his supporters attempted to create a body of evidence suggesting that today's marijuana is somehow more harmful than the weed of yesteryear. The bills explicitly stated that part of its purpose was to hear "expert testimony on the effects of marijuana and to make findings that the courts can rely on in cases where marijuana is an issue."

Chief Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli was peddling that line anew this week to the Associated Press. "We believe the courts are going to give that information great weight when another case comes before them that challenges the state's marijuana laws," he said Wednesday.

But if the legislative record is to be the basis of an Alaskan court decision, it will not be a one-sided record, thanks to the efforts of local activists allied with the Marijuana Policy Project, who combined to provide countervailing testimony to the prohibitionist's talk of "not your father's marijuana" and "what about the kids?"

While marijuana remains legal in Alaska, it is clear that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. With the foes of legal marijuana showing no signs of giving up, it looks like Alaska will be both vanguard and battleground in the marijuana wars for years to come.

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9. Marijuana: Milton Friedman and 500 Economists Call for Debate on Prohibition as New Study Suggests Regulation Could Save Billions
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/friedman.shtml

Using the Wednesday release of a study suggesting that replacing marijuana prohibition with a tax and regulate policy would save billions of dollars as a peg, more than 500 economists led by free market apostle Milton Friedman are calling for a national debate on moving toward regulated marijuana markets. The call comes in an open letter to President Bush, Congress, and state governors and legislators.

In his study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," Dr. Jeffrey Miron, a Boston University economics professor and visiting professor at Harvard University, looked at the financial costs associated with marijuana prohibition as well as the revenue implications of a regulated marijuana market. Using state and federal sources, Miron concluded that legalizing marijuana would save approximately $7.7 billion a year in enforcement costs, with savings of $2.4 billion at the federal law and $5.3 billion among the states and localities.

But wait, there's more: According to Miron, whose research was largely underwritten by the Marijuana Policy Project, a tax and regulate system would not only save billions in policing costs, it would also generate as much as $6 billion annually in taxes. If marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods, revenues would range around $2.4 billion a year, but if it were taxed like alcohol and tobacco, that number could rise to as much as $6.2 billion, Miron concluded. That is a net savings of almost $14 billion a year.

In their open letter, the economists called attention to Miron's work and conclusions and urged a national debate on legalization. "The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy," the economists wrote. "Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm. We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition."

Five hundred economists -- even including some of the well-known ones who signed the open letter -- are one thing; having Milton Friedman sign on is another. The Nobel Prize-winning economist is one of the intellectual heroes of the contemporary conservative movement, but his anti-prohibitionist views are less well known. But he spoke out Wednesday, and in an interview with Forbes magazine was on point. "There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana," the economist said. "$7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce [drug] laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes."

Friedman was ready to go further than just marijuana legalization. "I've long been in favor of legalizing all drugs," he told Forbes, but not because of standard libertarian arguments. "Look at the factual consequences: The harm done and the corruption created by these laws... the costs are one of the lesser evils."

Forbes called getting Friedman to sign on and speak out "a coup" for the Marijuana Policy Project, and MPP executive director Rob Kampia was ready to make the most of it. "As Milton Friedman and over 500 economists have now said, it's time for a serious debate about whether marijuana prohibition makes any sense," he said in a press release trumpeting the study and the open letter. "We know that prohibition hasn't kept marijuana away from kids, since year after year 85% of high school seniors tell government survey-takers that marijuana is 'easy to get.' Conservatives, especially, are beginning to ask whether we're getting our money's worth or simply throwing away billions of tax dollars that might be used to protect America from real threats."

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10. Asia: China Says Drug War is Failing
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/china.shtml

The authoritarian government of the planet's most populous nation conceded Thursday that its multiple crackdowns on drug use and the drug traffic have failed to blunt increasing use. In a nationally televised news conference, the Communist government in Beijing blamed globalization and free trade for its drug control problems.

The admission that repression of drug use and the drug traffic has not stemmed the rise in drug use comes as the Chinese government moves into the second month of a newly declared "People's War on Drugs." That was an effort to enlist the aid of China's more than 1.2 billion citizens in a drug war the government has found is unwinnable.

"Since the beginning of the 1980s, the problem of drugs has been dealt with by the government and the party, but it has never been resolved," said Yang Fengrui, secretary-general of the National Narcotics Control Commission. "Although we've made a lot of achievements, the spread of drug problems remains serious," said Yang. "Heroin use is down in some areas, but the use of new drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana and others is increasing. The situation in the Golden Triangle still does not allow for optimism," he said.

Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle remains the largest source of opium and heroin destined for the Chinese market.

Yang appealed to China's "broad masses" to enlist in the anti-drug effort. "This 'People's War on Drugs' cannot go ahead without the support of the broad masses," Yang said.

While Chinese officials view substance abuse there as a serious issue, enforcement is not on a level approaching that of the US. Last year, Chinese officials arrested some 67,000 people on drug charges, while another 273,000 were sent to forced drug treatment centers. Taken together, those two figures add up to only about one-fifth of the number of people arrested on drug charges each year in the US.

================

11. Australia: First "Drugged Driver" to Sue Police for Defamation
://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/driversuit.shtml

In December, a motorist from the Australian state of Victoria became the first person to be identified as a "drugged driver" under the state's brand-new roadside drug test program. As TV camera crews filmed it all, John de Jong, 40, was pulled over, forced to submit to drug tests, and then accused of testing positive for methamphetamines and marijuana. Only one problem: The roadside tests were wrong, and a police laboratory later cleared de Jong of any wrongdoing.

Now de Jong is suing the government of Victoria for defamation. While the professional courier told the Advertiser newspaper Tuesday that he mainly wants an apology from Victoria police, he is also seeking unspecified damages for harm to his reputation after being falsely identified as a doped-up driver. Police told him his face would not be shown on TV by media they had invited to witness the new policy in action, but it was anyway.

The program, which is still underway, allows police to stop passing motorists at random and force them to submit to a saliva test for cannabis and methamphetamines. Those found to have drugs in their systems are punished by fines similar to those for drunk driving. But unlike Australia's drunk driving laws, which specify a blood alcohol level beyond which impairment is assumed, the drugged driving laws punish drivers for any detectable amount of the drugs, regardless of whether that amount is linked to actual impairment.

Police plan to randomly test some 9,000 drivers this year, they said when the plan was announced in December. Among the targeted locations are areas with heavy truck traffic and "areas known for rave parties," police said.

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11. Australia: First "Drugged Driver" to Sue Police for Defamation
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/driversuit.shtml

In December, a motorist from the Australian state of Victoria became the first person to be identified as a "drugged driver" under the state's brand-new roadside drug test program. As TV camera crews filmed it all, John de Jong, 40, was pulled over, forced to submit to drug tests, and then accused of testing positive for methamphetamines and marijuana. Only one problem: The roadside tests were wrong, and a police laboratory later cleared de Jong of any wrongdoing.

Now de Jong is suing the government of Victoria for defamation. While the professional courier told the Advertiser newspaper Tuesday that he mainly wants an apology from Victoria police, he is also seeking unspecified damages for harm to his reputation after being falsely identified as a doped-up driver. Police told him his face would not be shown on TV by media they had invited to witness the new policy in action, but it was anyway.

The program, which is still underway, allows police to stop passing motorists at random and force them to submit to a saliva test for cannabis and methamphetamines. Those found to have drugs in their systems are punished by fines similar to those for drunk driving. But unlike Australia's drunk driving laws, which specify a blood alcohol level beyond which impairment is assumed, the drugged driving laws punish drivers for any detectable amount of the drugs, regardless of whether that amount is linked to actual impairment.

Police plan to randomly test some 9,000 drivers this year, they said when the plan was announced in December. Among the targeted locations are areas with heavy truck traffic and "areas known for rave parties," police said.

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12. Asia: Philippines Farmers Say No Road, No End to Marijuana Growing
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/philippines.shtml

Farmers in the remote Philippine region of Ifugao have participated in ceremonial marijuana burnings for the past several years as they reluctantly participated in the government's ongoing anti-drug campaign. There was another one May 21, the Manila Bulletin reported, with the Cordillera regional police director personally torching pot plants worth $4 million US as village elders and officials watched.

But those same elders and officials later told the Bulletin they are helpless to stop farmers from intercropping marijuana with corn and other crops because the legal crops cannot make it to market before rotting because there is no road. They added that they are "no longer excited" about participating in eradication programs because the government had failed in its promise to build roads, a promise made by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she presided over a similar burn in the same town in 2002.

While villagers said they were "helpless" to stop marijuana planting now, they insisted their prospects for doing so would much improve if the government would open the road and promote alternative livelihoods for the cash-starved farmers. But they are still waiting for concrete solutions, they said.

The beleaguered pot farmers of Ifugao have found somewhat of a sympathetic ear in their congressman, Rep. Solomon Chungalao. He joined village elders in telling the Bulletin that the police may have their annual raids and burns and print reports of all their accomplishments, but nothing except roads and development will stop the planting. "What can I say," Chungalao said responding to the remarks of the elders, "it is reality. We can only stop marijuana growing if and when we are able to open the road they are asking."

This isn't the first time Chungalao's views on marijuana have made the news in this island nation in the grip of a full-blown drug panic. Last year, conservative politicians and scandal sheets alike were outraged when he convinced Rep. Mickey Arroyo, the president's son, to co-sponsor a medical marijuana bill with him.

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13. Job Listing: National Field Organizer, ACLU Drug Law Reform Project
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/aclujob.shtml

The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project (DLRP) is a special division of the national ACLU founded in 1998. DLRP brings "impact" lawsuits throughout the country, using legal strategies built on the idea that fighting for civil rights means not just persuading judges but ultimately changing the way people think. DLRP uses targeted media and online and community outreach campaigns in conjunction with litigation to change public attitudes through education and give people on the frontlines the tools they need to act. DLRP has a record of successes in litigation on issues ranging from racial profiling in drug enforcement to protecting medical marijuana users and their doctors from federal prosecution.

The National Field Organizer will help execute the public education and communications components of the DLRP's campaigns and will be primarily responsible for community outreach and organizing strategies aimed at solidifying support for drug policy reform and connecting to new audiences, especially in communities of color. The National Field Organizer will recruit and supervise local organizers for specific litigation and campaigns. The National Field Organizer will also work with DLRP Staff to carry out strategies in the areas of media relations, producing targeted multi-media publications, and state and federal legislative advocacy. The position will require close coordination with the national ACLU, its 53 state affiliates, private attorneys, and allied organizations, both in litigation efforts and in efforts to secure reform in state legislatures and Congress.

The National Field Organizer must have exceptional interpersonal skills and experience organizing communities around social justice issues. Eagerness and demonstrated success in working in coalitions to attract greater support for an issue is a must. Because this position will require community outreach and organizing throughout the country, applicants must have a willingness and ability to travel often. The candidate must have experience using the internet as an organizing tool and competence in developing websites and web features, or an ability and aptitude to learn these areas. The National Field Organizer must also have an understanding of multi-faceted public education campaigns that integrate strategies around litigation, legislative advocacy, community organizing, and strategic communications. The following skills and experience are strongly preferred: Experience working with communities of color; proficiency in speaking and writing Spanish; media relations experience; familiarity with public interest, impact litigation; and drug policy-related advocacy.

Salary is commensurate with experience, within the parameters of the ACLU compensation scale. Excellent benefits package provided. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, which will not be before June 25, 2005. Please submit a letter describing your qualifications and interest in the position, a current resume, a writing sample of no more than ten pages connected to community outreach or organizing efforts, and the names and phone numbers of two references to: Anjuli Verma, ACLU Drug Law Project, ATTN: [DPLP-15], 1101 Pacific Avenue, Suite 333, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or hrjobs@aclu.org. No phone calls; please indicate in your cover letter that you saw this job posting on DRCNet.

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14. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/calendar.shtml

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

June 4, Columbus, OH, 18th Annual Ohio Hempfest. On the OSU campus, contact Tara Stevens at (614) 299-9675 or Arlette Roeper at osussdp@gmail.com, or visit http://www.ohiohempfest.org for further information.

June 4, Jacksonville Beach, FL, 8th Annual Hempfest. At Seawalk Pavilion, sponsored by N/E Florida Cannabis Action Network. Visit http://www.jaxhempfest.com for further information.

June 9, 6:30pm, Potomac, MD, "The Business Person's Guide to the Drug Problem," presentation to the Rotary Club of Potomac-Bethesda by Eric Sterling. Call (301) 589-6020 or visit http://www.cjpf.org for further information.

June 11, 11:00am-5:00pm, Ottawa, ON, Canada, "Truth, Hope and Compassion (THC) Rally," sponsored by Crosstown Traffic (http://www.crosstowntraffic.ca). Contact Tim Meehan at (613) 230-1937 or tim@norml.ca or Russell Barth at (613) 761-6504 or kegan23@sympatico.ca for further information.

June 28, New York, NY, An Opiate Overdose Prevention Conference, sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Admission free, space limited, please RSVP to secure your space. At the Holiday Inn Conference Center, W. 32nd St. & Broadway, contact Paula Santiago at (212) 213-6376 ext. 155 or santiago@harmreduction.org.

July 8-9, 7:00pm, New Brunswick, NJ, "Waiting to Inhale," screenings of new medical marijuana documentary, at the New Jersey International Film Festival. At Rutgers University, Scott Hall #123, 43 College Ave., visit http://www.njfilmfest.com for info.

August 12-13, Washington, DC, "Over 2 Million Imprisoned – Too Many!", March on DC, sponsored by Family and Friends of People Incarcerated (FMI). Reception Friday evening, march Saturday morning from 9:00am to noon. Contact Roberta Franklin at (334) 220-4670 or firstladytms©aol.com, or visit http://www.journeyforjustice.org for further information.

August 13, Washington, DC, "Million Family Members and Friends of Inmates March," sponsored by Family Members of Inmates. Contact Roberta Franklin at (334) 220-4670 or firstladytms@aol.com for further information.

August 19-20, Salt Lake City, UT, "Science and Response in 2005," First National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis C. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Harm Reduction Project, visit http://www.harmredux.org/conference2005.htm after January 15 or contact Amanda Whipple at (801) 355-0234 ext. 3 for further information.

August 20-21, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, Seattle Hempfest 2005. At Myrtle Edwards Park, Pier 70, admission free, visit http://www.hempfest.org or (206) 781-5734 or hempfest2005@hempfest.org for further information.

August 28, 11:00am-9:00pm, Olympia, WA, Third Annual Olympia Hempfest. At Heritage Park, visit http://www.olyhempfest.com for further information.

September 17, Boston, MA, "Sixteenth Annual Fall Freedom Rally," sponsored by MASSCANN. On Boston Common, visit http://www.masscann.org for updates, or contact (781) 944-2266 or masscann@pobox.com.

September 23-25, New Paltz, NY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Northeast Conference. At SUNY New Paltz, contact Jenny Loeb at jloeb@hvc.rr.com for further information.

September 25-29, Kabul, Afghanistan, "The 2005 Kabul International Symposium – Drug Policy: Challenges and Responses." Sponsored by the Senlis Council, at Kabul University, visit http://www.senliscouncil.net/modules/events/kabul/ or e-mail info@senliscouncil.net for further information.

October 2, noon, Madison WI, "Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival." At the UW Campus Library Mall, visit http://www.weedstock.com for further information.

November 9-12, Long Beach, CA, "Building a Movement for Reason, Compassion and Justice," the 2005 International Drug Policy Reform Conference. Sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, at the Westin Hotel, details to be announced. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/events/dpa2005/ for updates.

November 13-16, Markham, Ontario, "Issues of Substance," Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse National Conference 2005. At Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre & Spa, visit http://www.ccsa.ca/pdf/ccsa-annconf-abstract-2005-e.pdf for info.

February 9-11, 2006, Tasmania, Australia, The Eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA), coordinated by Justice Action. For further information visit http://www.justiceaction.org.au/ICOPA/ndx_icopa.html or contact +612-9660 9111 or ja@justiceaction.org.au.

April 5-8, 2006, Santa Barbara, CA, Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time, details to be announced, visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com for updates.

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