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Drug War Chronicle #556 - October 17, 2008

1. Feature: NATO, US Deepen Anti-Drug Operations in Afghanistan in Bid to Throttle Taliban

The drug war in Afghanistan is about to heat up. NATO has agreed to target drug traffickers and heroin labs aligned with the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgency, and the US is quietly planning to put American soldiers on the ground with poppy eradication teams and their Afghan army protectors. The question is: Will any of this work?

2. Feature: Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Organized Opposition

Michigan's medical marijuana initiative appears headed for victory in November, but now an organized opposition of the usual suspects has emerged, and the drug czar and his minion came to the state this week to try to derail it.

3. Offer: Unique and Important New Book on Medical Marijuana

"Dying to Get High," by sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb, is a groundbreaking work that provides an in-depth portrait of one of the country's most well-known medical marijuana collectives.

4. Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More rogue cops in New York City, a Texas sheriff gets busted, some sticky-fingered narcs in Ohio, a would-be pot-growing cop in Florida, and yes, another prison employee busted for getting the inmates high.

5. Medical Marijuana: Four More Massachusetts Local Questions on the Ballot

For the fifth consecutive election cycle, Massachusetts marijuana reform activists are putting local public policy questions on the ballot. So far, questions regarding decriminalization, medical marijuana, industrial, and tax and regulate have a winning streak of 41-0. This year, it's four more about medical marijuana.

6. Drug Testing: Coal Miner Unions, Owners Balk at Proposed Federal Rules, But for Different Reasons

Will federally-mandated drug testing come to the coal fields? The Mine Health and Safety Administration wants it to, but workers' unions say it is unnecessary and unconstitutional.

7. Search and Seizure: Long Island Woman's Strip Search Suit Can Move Forward

A lawsuit filed by a Long Island woman who was strip searched after being busted for a marijuana stem -- with the search allegedly watched by ogling male cops via video -- can go forward, a federal appeals court has ruled.

8. Latin America: Honduran President Joins Drug Legalization Chorus

The president of Honduras has joined a growing chorus of Latin America leaders calling for drug legalization, or is it decriminalization?

9. Latin America: UNODC Head Again Blames Drugs -- Not Drug Prohibition -- for Crime and Violence

UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa trotted out some tired old arguments last week in Mexico City as he warned of "drug crime," but ignored the role of prohibition in facilitating it.

10. Europe: British Home Secretary Announces New Marijuana Possession Penalties

Marijuana will be rescheduled as a more serious drug in Britain beginning January 26. First-time possession offenders will still get warnings, but a second offense will bring a fine, and a third offense will result in arrest. There is a loophole, but this is still a step backward for Albion.

11. Pain Treatment: Millions Suffer Unnecessarily From Lack Of Medications, Human Rights Watch Says, Drug Control Part of the Problem

Human Rights Watch has issued a new report charging that millions of people around the world are suffering needlessly from treatable pain, and international drug control laws are part of the problem.

12. Weekly: This Week in History

Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.

13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Study: Drug Czar's Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Ad Campaign is a Failure," "Another Complete Failure From the Drug Czar," "Legalizing Marijuana Would Stop Growers From Destroying Our Forests," "Drug Cop Admits His Career Was Built Around Lies and Wrongful Convictions," "Police Steal Money from Elderly Medical Marijuana Patients," "Laser-Guided Missiles Aren't the Answer," "Travel Alert: Mexico Unsafe Thanks to War on Drugs."

14. Job Opportunities: Community Organizer, Director of VIP Relations, Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project has job openings in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

15. Job Opportunity: National Coordinator, Fair Sentencing of Children, Washington, DC

The Advisory Council for the Fair Sentencing of Children, a coalition of organizations working to ending the sentencing of juveniles to life without the possibility of parole in the United States, is hiring.

16. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we need your feedback to evaluate our work and make the case for Drug War Chronicle to funders. We need donations too.

17. Webmasters: Help the Movement by Running DRCNet Syndication Feeds on Your Web Site!

Support the cause by featuring automatically-updating Drug War Chronicle and other DRCNet content links on your web site!

18. Resource: DRCNet Web Site Offers Wide Array of RSS Feeds for Your Reader

A new way for you to receive DRCNet articles -- Drug War Chronicle and more -- is now available.

19. Resource: Reformer's Calendar Accessible Through DRCNet Web Site

Visit our new web site each day to see a running countdown to the events coming up the soonest, and more.

1. Feature: NATO, US Deepen Anti-Drug Operations in Afghanistan in Bid to Throttle Taliban

The NATO and US forces battling Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan are on the verge of expanding their counterinsurgency efforts by getting more deeply involved in trying to suppress the country's booming opium trade. In so doing, they are stepping into tricky territory because they risk alienating large swathes of the population that are dependent on the trade to feed themselves and their families and driving them right into the tender embrace of the Taliban.

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The new, more aggressive anti-drug stance will come in two forms. On one hand, NATO has committed for the first time to actively target and track down drug traffickers and heroin-processing laboratories. On the other hand, US military forces training the Afghan military will now begin accompanying Afghan soldiers as they provide force protection for Afghan government poppy eradication teams.

The more aggressive posture comes as the political and military situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen. Some 242 NATO and US troops have been killed in fighting there this year, 10 more than last year with two and a half months to go, and last year was the worst so far for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Some 33,000 US troops, including 13,000 under the command of the ISAF and 20,000 under direct US command, and nearly 40,000 NATO soldiers, are now in Afghanistan, and the Bush administration is calling for an additional 20,000 US troops to be deployed there next year.

The Taliban and related insurgents have shown increased military capabilities, in part because they are able to supply themselves with funds generated by the opium trade. The United Nations estimates that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are making perhaps $100 million a year from taxing poppy farmers and providing protection to drug traffickers.

A leaked draft of an as yet unreleased US National Intelligence Estimate last week revealed that US intelligence agencies believe the war in Afghanistan is "on a downward spiral," with part of the problem resting with a corrupt government under President Hamid Karzai and part of the problem linked to the "destabilizing impact" of the opium trade.

That deteriorating situation impelled US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head to Europe to try to bring reluctant NATO members on board for a more aggressive anti-drug strategy last week. European countries have been reluctant to step into the morass of anti-drug efforts there, citing the risk of alienating the population and arguing that law enforcement is the responsibility of the Afghan government.

"Part of the problem that we face is that the Taliban make somewhere between $60 million and $80 million or more a year from the drug trafficking," Gates said at the NATO meeting in Budapest. "If we have the opportunity to go after drug lords and drug laboratories and try to interrupt this flow of cash to the Taliban, that seems to me like a legitimate security endeavour."

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Chronicle editor Phil Smith in formerly opium growing village near Jalalabad
By last Friday, NATO had signed on. According to a Saturday NATO press release, "Based on the request of the Afghan government, consistent with the appropriate United Nations Security Council resolutions, under the existing operational plan, ISAF can act in concert with the Afghans against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency, in the context of counter-narcotics, subject to authorization of respective nations."

"At the request of the Afghan government, I am grateful that the North Atlantic Council has given me the authority to expand ISAF's role in counter-narcotics operations," added NATO Supreme Allied Commander US Gen. John Craddock in a statement the same day. "We now have the ability to move forward in an area that affects the security and stability of Afghanistan. It will allow us to reduce the funding and income to the insurgents, which will enhance the force protection of all ISAF and Afghan National Security Force personnel."

That's what Gates and the Bush administration wanted to hear. "It is just going to be part of regular military operations. This is not going to be a special mission," Gates said Saturday," adding that the counter-drug effort was likely to focus on the southern part of the country. "It starts with the commander of ISAF, and then it would be a question of what forces are available. Obviously the United States and the UK are interested in doing this. I think several others would but didn't speak out," he said. "I am fairly optimistic about the future," Gates said. "There is also an understanding that NATO can't fail in Afghanistan."

To that end, the US is taking another step deeper into the Afghan drug war: Using US ground troops to help eradicate poppy fields. The London Daily Mail, among other media, reported that a small number of US soldiers who are training the country's Poppy Eradication Force will accompany their charges as they head into the poppy fields around the beginning of the new year.

The idea is to target land owned by corrupt Afghan power brokers, especially in southern Helmand province, which accounts for the majority of Afghanistan's 93% share of global opium production. That is also an area where the Taliban presence is heavily felt. Some 75 Afghan eradicators were killed last year.

"There shouldn't be any no-go areas for eradication teams in Helmand, and in order to do that they are going to need more force protection," an unnamed British embassy counter-narcotics official told the Daily Mail. "Land that's controlled by major land owners, corrupt officials or major narco-figures is land that should be targeted. Having force protection is more likely to make that possible.'"

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incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
A US military spokesman told the Daily Mail there are 11 US soldiers training the Afghan Counter Narcotics Battalion in Kandahar. They will deploy along with Afghan soldiers on eradication missions, he said.

The US has long argued for stronger eradication efforts, but was rebuffed by the Karzai government when it floated the idea of aerial spraying earlier this year. But with manual eradication wiping out only 3.5% of the crop this year, pressure to do more is strong. The question is whether doing more to fight the drug trade will help or hinder the effort to build a strong, stable government in Kabul.

"This whole issue has been discussed in different forums in Afghanistan for some time now, said Sher Jah Ahmadzai, an associate at the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. "The government rejected aerial eradication for various reasons, even though it was desired by the US. But this NATO move is being welcomed by the government and the international agencies because now they are targeting the drug lords, not the farmers themselves. If you go after the farmers, it could backfire on NATO and the Afghan government, so going after the big drug lords is the viable option now. Everyone knows who they are," he said.

But not all drug lords are equal, said Ahmadzai. "There are many drug lords who are involved in the government, there are high ministers who are believed to have been drug lords before they were appointed, there are a number of people in the provincial governments who are involved, but the government is not going to go after them because that could create a backlash," he said. "But the other drug lords, the ones who are openly supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, they will go after them."

Only with a stronger Afghan state sometime in the future would it be feasible to actually go after all drug traffickers, said Ahmadzai. "The next phase would be strengthening the Afghan government so it can purge itself," he said.

But Ahmadzai's view is much rosier than some. Critics of the move said it would only worsen the insurgency. "The NATO governments did say they will try to target drug trafficking operations that seem to be in league with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which makes this policy shift merely unwise instead of egregiously unwise," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. "But pressuring NATO and the Karzai government on this simply guarantees that we will drive many people back into the arms of the Taliban, and that's a short-sighted strategy," he argued.

"The Americans have been training Afghan counter-narcotics forces, but they were creating problems for the government because they were aiming straight at the farmers, and the farmers would go straight to the Taliban," agreed Ahmadzai. "If you go after the farmers, you risk alienating them. If you don't, the Taliban and Al Qaeda profit. It's really a double-edged sword."

"The underlying problem is that the drug trade is such a huge part of the Afghan economy," said Carpenter. "The UN says there are some 509,000 families involved in growing or other aspects of the drug trade. If you just consider a standard nuclear family, that's about 15% of the population involved in the drug trade, but when you consider that Afghanistan is very much an extended family- and clan-based society, the real number is more like a third to 40% of the population earning a livelihood off the drug trade. There is no realistic way to shut that down."

There is an alternative, said Carpenter. "US policy-makers could just look the other way, ignore the drug commerce, and focus on trying to weaken the Taliban and Al Qaeda, our mortal adversaries," he said.

While that would leave the Taliban and Al Qaeda free to fund themselves from opium profits, that's a price we would have to pay, Carpenter said. "No doubt those groups derive revenue from the drug trade, but unfortunately for our strategy, so do Karzai's allies. Most major power brokers are involved in some way with the illegal drug trade. It's such a lucrative enterprise because of the black market premium that anyone who exercises power and influence in that society is tempted to get involved."

Noting that the NATO plan to go after only traffickers linked to the insurgency would in effect remove the competition for government-linked drug traffickers, Carpenter said the decision was no surprise. "I don't think that is a deliberate motive, but to the extent that the Karzai government is interested in cooperating, it will be precisely because it will eliminate the competition for those traffickers with backing in Kabul. Expecting the Kabul government to truly suppress the trade would be like asking Japan to eliminate its auto and high-tech industries. It isn't going to happen," he said.

And deeper into the morass we go.

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2. Feature: Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Organized Opposition

Michigan's Proposal 1, the medical marijuana initiative sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, appears headed for easy victory according to recent polls, but now it is seeing organized opposition, including visits from the drug czar and one of his minions to urge Michiganders to reject the proposal.

When they go to the polls on November 4, Michigan voters will see the following ballot language and be asked to vote yes or no on whether the measure should be adopted:

The proposed law would:

  • Permit physician approved use of marijuana by registered patients with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, MS and other conditions as may be approved by the Department of Community Health.
  • Permit registered individuals to grow limited amounts of marijuana for qualifying patients in an enclosed, locked facility.
  • Require Department of Community Health to establish an identification card system for patients qualified to use marijuana and individuals qualified to grow marijuana.
  • Permit registered and unregistered patients and primary caregivers to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana.

If passed by the voters, the measure would make Michigan the 13th medical marijuana state and, significantly, the first in the Midwest. Currently, all the medical marijuana states are in the West or the Northeast.

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marijuana plants (photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia)
That could explain why the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office) is concerned enough to send its top people to Michigan, but at the state level, the organized opposition is a collection of the usual suspects from law enforcement, moral crusader, cultural conservative, and staid medical groups resorting to the same old medical marijuana bogey-man arguments always made by defenders of the status quo.

State opposition emerged late last month with the public coming out of Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids. The group's spokesman, state appellate judge Bill Schuette, has been holding news conferences, this week in conjunction with drug czar Walters, and penning op-eds, in order to stoke fear about the initiative through a barrage of distortions, disinformation, misinformation and fabrications.

Schuette is especially fond of warning that -- gasp! -- if the initiative passes, Michigan will turn into California with its "chaos, pot dealers in storefronts and millions of dollars being dumped into the criminal black market," as he put it in the op-ed piece. The Michigan initiative "is just like the California law," he wrote, even though the Michigan law is much more restrictive on who can become a medical marijuana patient and does not provide for medical marijuana dispensaries.

That particular distortion is even embedded in the group's web site URL, www.nopotshops.com, although, again, the Michigan initiative does not allow for dispensaries.

Schuette and company are also hitting the theme that passing the initiative will lead to an orgy of teen marijuana use. "Law enforcement officials in California point to their state's marijuana law as a cause for the dramatic increase in drug use among high school students," he wrote, reprising comments along the same line he made at an earlier press conference.

Again, Schuette was spouting misinformation. According to a June 2008 report from the Marijuana Policy Project based on official state and national survey data, teen marijuana use has gone down in all grades in California and almost across the board in all other medical marijuana states in the 12 years since California passed its medical marijuana law.

"The opposition is using scare tactics out of desperation, which does not diminish the fact that medical marijuana can safely and effectively relieve the pain and suffering of seriously ill patients," Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the Michigan Coalition told the Associated Press earlier this month in response to the opposition claims. "They are just throwing things up in the air and hoping something will stick," she said, emphasizing that Michigan's initiative does not allow for the opening of "pot shops." "This law is nothing like California," she said flatly.

On Monday, the feds arrived. Deputy drug czar Scott Burns flew in to hold a press conference with Schuette and a roomful of law enforcement officials.

"Proposal 1 is bad for Michigan and it is bad for America," Burns said. "This issue is about dope, not about medicine."

Burns also argued that the initiative is backed by wealthy individuals who have supported similar measures in other states. "They are funded by millions of dollars from millionaires who live in Washington, DC, to hire people to come to Michigan to try and con voters from the state to pass it," he said without apparently noting the irony that he, if not a millionaire himself, had come from Washington, DC, representing an agency with a multi-billion dollar budget to tell Michigan voters what to do.

On Tuesday, the big dog himself, drug czar Walters showed up. In a Lansing press conference that same day, Walters repeated some of Schuette's misinformation about the possible increase of teen marijuana use and his deceptive comparisons with California.

Walters also said that the initiative "gives people who are addicted a way to say I have a medical problem" to obtain more of the herb. He also argued that marijuana, unlike opiate pain medications, is unregulated with varying potency, and that a pharmaceutical form of marijuana, Marinol, is already on the market. "To say we need to smoke a weed to make people high because that's the best we can do for them is an abomination," the Michigan native declared.

But the emergence of Michigan Citizens and the arrival of the drug czar and his deputy may be too little too late. The measure was well ahead in the most recent poll, and the state press has balanced the dire warnings of Walters and his local counterparts with interviews with patients and initiative supporters, so it is unclear how much ground the opposition offensive can gain.

For Bruce Mirken, communications director for MPP, which has confronted ONDCP interference with state initiatives in the past and which is supporting the Michigan initiative, the drug czar's schtick seemed time-worn and grasping.

"We're about equal parts amused and horrified," he said. "It's the same old disinformation campaign at taxpayers' expense that Walters has done again and again. This time, not only did he go to Michigan on our dime, he even brought along a medical cannabis vending machine the DEA seized a few months ago from a dispensary in Los Angeles, even though the Michigan initiative doesn't allow for dispensaries, let alone vending machines. It's the Walters Disinformation Tour 2008," Mirken groaned.

The campaign of false attacks on the initiative suggests that the opposition is desperate, said Mirken. "In some ways, that's a good sign for our side," he argued. "They don't have any actual facts and are reduced to making stuff up."

The voters of Michigan will have the final say in a little more than two weeks from now. Stay tuned.

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3. Offer: Unique and Important New Book on Medical Marijuana

Dear friend and reformer,


In our current TRUTH 08 Campaign, we have featured the important and unique new book Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine, by sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb. More than 1,300 people have read our review of the book by Drug Chronicle editor Phil Smith -- check it out here!

Please donate to the TRUTH 08 Campaign to support StoptheDrugWar.org's work providing this and other critical writing reaching hundreds of thousands of people every month. Donate $36 or more and you can receive a complimentary copy of Dying to Get High as our thanks.

book:

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Donate $60 or more, and we'll send you both Dying to Get High AND the new TRUTH 08 Campaign padded notepad folder with clasp. Or just select the notepad folder as your gift selection with a donation of $36 or over. (Use our regular donation page to browse the many other books and gift items that we continue to make available.)

Following are a few things that Chronicle editor Phil Smith had to say about the book Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine, in his recent widely-read review:

In "Dying to Get High," sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb... trace the use of marijuana as medicine in the US... its removal from the pharmacopeia in 1941... the continuing blockage of research into its medical benefits by ideologically-driven federal authorities.

Chapkis and Webb deliver a resounding, well-reasoned indictment of the political and (pseudo) scientific opposition to medical marijuana.

"Dying to Get High" is also an in-depth portrait of one of the country's most well-known medical marijuana collectives... describing in loving detail the inner workings... of a group with charismatic leadership... more than 200 seriously ill patients, and the specter of the DEA always looming.

Your help is needed right now to capitalize on the tremendous progress we've already made getting the TRUTH out: the past 12 months nearly 150,000 people per month visited StoptheDrugWar.org. Several months the number of visitors topped 180,000 and the trend is continuing upward.

I am very excited about the new momentum we're generating together, and I'd like to thank you very much for your interest in changing this country's drug policies and for giving your support to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN. Your contribution has never been more important.

David Borden
Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet)
News & Activism Promoting Sensible Reform

P.S. It's time to stop the senseless tragedy of the drug war and to bring an end to the countless injustices occurring every day. Your donation to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN today will help spread the word to more people than ever and build the momentum we need for change. Thank you!

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4. Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More rogue cops in New York City, a Texas sheriff gets busted, some sticky-fingered narcs in Ohio, a would-be pot-growing cop in Florida, and yes, another prison employee busted for getting the inmates high. Let's get to it:

In New York City, two unnamed NYPD officers will likely be indicted shortly for being part of a violent crew that robbed drug dealers, kidnapping and sexually torturing some of their victims. One is an active-duty officer; the other is retired. The pair are accused of wearing their uniforms and acting as "cops" for a crew that stole more than 100 kilos of cocaine from dealers in robberies up and down the East Coast. The crew would kidnap their victims after a police-style car stop or home invasion raid, then take them to remote areas at gunpoint and threaten and sometimes torture them until they gave up their drugs. A dozen members of the crew have already been indicted, but in a September 16 hearing before Brooklyn federal District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Goldbarg said she would soon file a superseding indictment, indicating the arrest of the two cops is looming.

In Hidalgo, Texas, the Starr County sheriff was arrested Tuesday for conspiring to smuggle illicit drugs into the country. Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, 52, was charged in a 19-count federal indictment that includes more than a dozen co-conspirators. Federal prosecutors said Guerra possessed with the intent to distribute more than 700 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of cocaine. He is also charged with using a phone to facilitate the conspiracy and helping a co-defendant avoid capture by suggesting the use of fraudulent lease documents. Guerra is looking at 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine.

In Warren, Ohio, two Trumbull County Sheriff's Office deputies will be fired for allegedly ripping-off an anti-drug charity for their personal gain. Sgts. Pete Pizzullo and Anthony Leshnack were informed that the sheriff has recommended their termination on October 3. The pair founded the Ohio Narcotics Officers Association in 2004 to raise money for charitable organizations with anti-drug messages and, using a professional fundraising company, collected more than $1 million statewide. It is unclear how much of the money the two are supposed to have skimmed off for personal use. The firing is not a done deal; there is an extensive appeals process. The county prosecutor has asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed, but so far, there are no criminal charges against the pair.

In Valdosta, Georgia, a Georgia Department of Corrections prison employee was arrested October 8 for smuggling drugs to inmates. Deborah Watson, 26, a kitchen employee at Valdosta State Prison, went down after investigators asked to search her at work. She refused and quit on the spot, only to be stopped and searched by Valdosta County sheriff's deputies when she left the prison. In her bra, they found three tubes filled with drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Authorities valued the drugs at $4,000 on the street and several times that behind bars. That's where Watson is now.

In Orlando, Florida, an Altamonte Springs police officer pleaded guilty in federal court last Friday to setting up a marijuana grow house and having an arsenal of weapons on hand. Clay Adams, 26, pleaded guilty to five federal charges, including conspiring with his wife to grow 2,200 pounds of marijuana. Adams and his wife, Robyn, 32, were arrested July 21 after setting up a grow house in Chuluota. He faces at least 15 years in prison.

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5. Medical Marijuana: Four More Massachusetts Local Questions on the Ballot

Two weeks ago Drug War Chronicle reported on the various drug reform-related initiatives appearing on state and local ballots this November. While we mentioned the Massachusetts decriminalization initiative, other lower profile efforts in the Bay State were moving too. On Wednesday, the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the state NORML affiliate, MassCann, announced that voters in four Massachusetts legislative districts will be voting on public policy questions urging legislators to support medical marijuana.

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Voters in 15 towns will be able to decide the following ballot question: "Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use?" The 15 towns are part of the following representative districts: 1st Middlesex, 13th Norfolk, 21st Middlesex, and 6th Plymouth.

This will mark the fifth consecutive biennial election in which local activists have placed marijuana policy-related questions on the ballot. They have been overwhelmingly successful, winning all 41 ballot questions in 125 Massachusetts towns representing one-third of the Commonwealth. Medical marijuana questions won with an average of 68% of the vote, while marijuana decriminalization questions won with an average of 62%. Industrial hemp and tax and regulate ballot questions also won.

The years of effort by local activists have helped lay the groundwork for this year's statewide Question 2, the marijuana decrim initiative. They are also laying the groundwork for passage of a medical marijuana bill, H 2247, which has been stalled at the statehouse since it was introduced in January 2007.

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6. Drug Testing: Coal Miner Unions, Owners Balk at Proposed Federal Rules, But for Different Reasons

During a Tuesday hearing on its proposed drug testing rule covering more than 116,000 coal miners, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) got it from both sides, with mine workers criticizing the proposed rule as unnecessary and mine owners criticizing it for not being tough enough.

Out of a US ministry industry (including oil and gas extraction) of more than 300,000 workers, nearly two-thirds are already subject to drug testing, mostly out of agreements negotiated between employers and unions. Federal law currently mandates drug testing for public safety (truck drivers, train engineers) and national security reasons. It does not mandate it for "risky" occupations.

The MHSA proposed rule would bar the use or possession of drugs or alcohol at coal and other mineral mines, would require pre-employment drug testing, and would mandate random suspicionless drug testing of workers. Workers who test positive would have to complete drug treatment before being allowed back on the job. Companies that don't already have drug testing programs in place would have one year to comply with the new rule. MHSA estimates the rule would cost the industry $16 billion the first year and $13 billion a year after that.

According to MHSA, drug and alcohol use in the mines is "a risk to miner safety" and "because mining is inherently dangerous, MHSA is proposing a standard to address this risk." But the proposed rule admittedly contains little more than anecdotal evidence, newspaper stories, and recitations of national substance abuse estimates to make its case that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the mines or that drug testing is the best way to address it."

The mines are currently governed by an MHSA regulation that already prohibits the use or possession of alcohol or drugs at the work site and says succinctly that intoxicated workers are not permitted on the job. During the 30 years they have been in place, some 270 miners have been cited for violating that regulation -- not a high number in an industry of 300,000 workers -- or fewer than 10 a year. And only 10% of those came from subsurface mines.

The lack of strong evidence showing that drug testing is required in the coal mines was a point United Steelworkers official Mike Wright hit on as he told MHSA reps at Tuesday's hearing why his union opposed the proposed new rule. "MSHA has not shown that the proposed rule is necessary," he said. "In this rule, MSHA is relying on limited anecdotal and sometimes irrelevant information."

Wright also told the MHSA reps their proposed rules were unconstitutional. With federally-mandated drug testing limited to public safety and national security-related occupations, he said, MHSA had demonstrated no such link. "This proposal is unconstitutional and unnecessary. It's a distraction from real worker safety and it should be withdrawn," Wright said.

The United Mine Workers also called on MHSA to drop the proposed rule, and so did the National Mining Association, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, the West Virginia Coal Association and major coal producers Arch Coal and Consol Energy. But unlike the unions, the industry wanted not less but more drug testing and fewer restrictions on its ability to fire workers who test positive. The industry called for rules that allow them to test hair, saliva, and blood for drugs, rather than limiting testing to urine samples, as the MHSA proposed rule does.

Now, after reviewing public comments on the new rule and listening to the sole public hearing it held on the proposed rules, MHSA will take several months to publish its final rule. Coal miners who like to smoke a joint while watching the Mountaineers on Saturday afternoons better be on the alert.

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7. Search and Seizure: Long Island Woman's Strip Search Suit Can Move Forward

A federal appeals court ruled October 8 that a Long Island, New York, woman's rights were violated when police strip searched her in a room with a video camera after finding a marijuana stem in the vehicle she was driving. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the $1 million lawsuit filed three years ago by Stacey Hartline against the Village of Southampton and four of its police officers.

Hartline was driving a work vehicle owned by her construction company in 2001 when she was pulled over for lack of a rear license plate. After the arresting officer spotted a pot stem on the floorboard, he cuffed Hartline, then searched the vehicle, finding a roach and other small amounts of pot debris. Hartline was placed under arrest for marijuana possession, taken to the police station, and subjected to a strip search by a female officer in a room with a video camera while male officers allegedly watched on monitors.

Hartline was "crying hysterically" while she was forced to remove her lower garments and allow the officer to inspect her orifices, then lift up her bra and allow the officer to inspect her breasts, according to her account.

Hartline sued, alleging two violations of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. First, she argued, police had no probable cause to think she was hiding contraband, and second, the search was unconstitutional because the Village of Southampton had a policy of strip searching all female arrestees while it did not have such a policy for male arrestees.

Her civil suit was thrown out in 2006 by US District Judge Denis Hurley in Central Islip. Hurley held that police did have reason to believe she was hiding contraband and that no higher courts had dealt with such circumstances.

But in last week's opinion from the 2nd Circuit, the appeals court judges sharply disagreed with Hurley. It was irrelevant that no other court had ruled on the circumstances, the judges said, and whether police had "a reasonable suspicion that she was secreting contraband on her person" was a question to settled by a trial court, not Judge Hurley.

"Ultimately, if the facts of this case amount to reasonable suspicion, then strip-searches will become commonplace," the judges further wrote in a 15-page opinion. "Given the unique, intrusive nature of strip-searches, as well as the multitude of less invasive techniques available to officers confronted by misdemeanor offenders, that result would be unacceptable in any society that takes privacy and bodily integrity seriously."

Now, Hartline's case will go to trial. No trial date has yet been set.

Hartline told the Associated Press after the decision that she was relieved. "It's very hard to sit back and challenge a municipality," she said. "It's frightening. I've lived in this town my whole life. I love Southampton. The relief I feel is tremendous. I'm so pleased this won't happen to anyone else."

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8. Latin America: Honduran President Joins Drug Legalization Chorus

During a conference in Tegucigalpa bringing together UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) officials and drug ministers from 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations, the conference host, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya called for legalizing drug use. In so doing, he joins a growing list of Latin American leaders singing the same tune.

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Manuel Zelaya
Legalizing drug use, or more accurately, decriminalization, would de-fang international drug trafficking organizations and free Honduras of the financial burden of attempting to impose drug prohibition, Zelaya said. "The trade of arms, drugs and people... are scourges on the international economy, and we are unable to provide effective responses" because of the global drug prohibition regime, Zelaya said Monday at the opening of the 18th meeting of regional leaders against drug trafficking.

Drug users should be considered patients, not criminals, Zelaya said. Drug users could be treated by health care professionals instead of arrested or harassed by police. And the state could stop throwing money down a rat hole, too, he added. "Rather than continue to kill and capture traffickers, we could invest in resources for education and training," the Honduran leader said.

Like the rest of Central America, Honduras is plagued by illegal drug syndicates typically using the country as a transshipment point for Colombian cocaine headed for the North American market. It is also seeing increasing drug use levels as some of the product inevitably falls off of the back of the truck.

With his remarks Monday, Zelaya is joining what could become an emerging Latin American consensus. Just days ago, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, whose country is plagued with prohibition-related violence, called for the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs. The government of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is actively pushing decriminalization there. In Brazil, the courts are leading the way to decriminalization. Meanwhile, Bolivia and Venezuela are openly feuding with the US, in part over drug policy issues. In August, officials of the left-leaning Mexican PRD, the largest opposition party, asked party legislators to consider calling for drug legalization as part of a 'grand national accord' to deal with violence and insecurity in the country.

The talk of legalization by Latin American political leaders is often imprecise -- do they mean decrim or legal, regulated production and sales? -- and to the degree they are really talking only about decriminalization -- not legalization -- the enactment of such policies will fail to reduce some of the harms associated with drug prohibition, although they will reduce certain harms suffered by drug users. But Latin America appears to be on the verge of showing its northern neighbor a thing or two when it comes to humane and effective drug policies.

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9. Latin America: UNODC Head Again Blames Drugs -- Not Drug Prohibition -- for Crime and Violence

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director Antonio Maria Costa used the occasion of the October 8 meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Safety in Mexico City to again blame the drug trade for the crime and violence caused by drug prohibition. In so doing, he also took a pot-shot at drug reformers, calling them the "pro-drug lobby."

"As a hemisphere, the Americas face the world's biggest drug problem," Costa told the assembled drug fighters in a speech opening the event." Whether we measure it in hectares of cultivation, tons of production, its market value or even by the gruesome number of people killed in the dirty trade," the drug crisis affecting the security of the ordinary people in the area is huge.

"Your citizens indeed say that what they fear the most is not terrorism, not climate change, not a financial crisis. It is public safety. And in the Americas, the biggest threat to public safety comes from drug trafficking and the violence perpetrated by organized crime," he stated.

But Costa ignored the incontrovertible fact that the threat to public order and safety from illicit drug trafficking is a direct result of drug prohibition, which creates the conditions in which such lawlessness and violence thrives, and not of some property inherent to currently proscribed drugs. He blamed everything from urban violence in the US to Canadian biker gangs to Mexican drug wars to Colombia's insurgency and Brazil's drug "commandos," on "drug crime," not drug prohibition.

And even as more and more Latin American governments, tired of trying to achieve UN and US drug policy goals, ponder drug decriminalization and/or legalization (see related story here), Costa sounded the tocsin about the temptations of legalization. "At this point, we know what some people -- the pro-drug lobby, for example -- would say: 'Legalize drugs and crime will disappear.' In other words, while facing an undeniably tough problem, we are invited to accept it, hide our head in the sand and make it legal."

In the face of decades of failed international drug control policies that rely on prohibition enforcement, demand reduction, and to a lesser degree, drug treatment and prevention, Costa called for more of the same, although he seemed to admit that the world could not enforce its way to total sobriety. "Until more resources are put into drug treatment and prevention as well as viable alternatives for illicit crops, narco-traffickers will continue to ply their lucrative and deadly trade across the Western hemisphere," Costa warned.

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10. Europe: British Home Secretary Announces New Marijuana Possession Penalties

When marijuana is rescheduled from a Class C to a more serious Class B drug in Britain on January 26, repeat marijuana possession offenders will face more severe sanctions, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced Monday.

Marijuana had been down-scheduled to Class C in 2004, but the Labor government ignored the advice of its drug policy panel, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and moved to reschedule it earlier this year. The move came against a background of sensational British tabloid press reports on marijuana-induced madness and more down-to-earth concerns about links between teen marijuana use and a slightly increased incidence of schizophrenia, especially with "skunk," the apparent British name for any high-quality marijuana.

Although teen marijuana use has decreased since 2004, the British are in the throes of a full-blown reefer madness. Reports of "cannabis factories" being raided and hooligans blaming pot for their crimes are staples in the press.

According to Home Secretary Smith, first-time pot possessors will continue to receive warnings, as is the practice with marijuana under Class B, but second-time offenders will be hit with a $138 fine and third-time offenders will be arrested. It's for your own good, she said.

"While cannabis has always been illegal, reclassifying it to a Class B drug reinforces our message to everyone that it is harmful and should not be taken. Fewer people are taking cannabis, but it is crucial that this trend continues. I am extremely concerned about the use of stronger strains of cannabis, such as skunk, and the harm they can cause to mental health," she said.

"This is the next step towards toughening up our enforcement response -- to ensure that repeat offenders know that we are serious about tackling the danger that the drug poses to individuals, and in turn communities," Smith continued. "We need to act now to protect future generations."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) had supported the reclassification and welcomed the new penalties. "There is evidence of increasing harms to community safety associated with criminal behavior around the cultivation, distribution and the use of cannabis," said Tim Hollis, the ACPO Lead on Drugs. "While enforcement alone will not provide the total solution to a crime that is a global problem, this will act as a deterrent, along with better education about the impact of drugs. Where cannabis use is repeated or where there are aggravating circumstances locally, officers will take a harder line on enforcement and escalate their response accordingly. Every encounter at street level provides intelligence and helps us to act against the criminal gangs who seek to profit from cannabis production and distribution."

But while the new penalties sound tough enough, there is a loophole, the London Times reported. According to the Times, warnings for a first possession offense will not be recorded on the national police computer, making it difficult for police to verify if someone was a first- or second-time offender, particularly if the person was caught by different police forces.

Even with the apparent loophole, the move won no kudos from Danny Kushlick of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He told the Times the rescheduling of marijuana was little more than "populist posturing," adding, "Escalating penalties for possession only serve to further marginalize and criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding people."

Home Secretary Smith has admitted smoking pot herself as a university student. She did not say whether she should have been warned, fined, or arrested, nor did she say whether she would have benefitted from being busted for her offense.

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11. Pain Treatment: Millions Suffer Unnecessarily From Lack Of Medications, Human Rights Watch Says, Drug Control Part of the Problem

Millions of people worldwide are suffering unnecessarily from treatable pain, Human Rights Watch said in a report released last Friday. The report came one day before the annual observance of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, which, not surprisingly, seeks to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care around the world. This year's theme was "Hospice and Palliative Care: A Human Right."

Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from severe pain due to cancer, HIV and AIDS, and other health conditions. Although most pain can be treated effectively with inexpensive medications, government inaction or obstruction denies its victims access to pain treatment in many countries, Human Rights Watch said.

Governments around the world, including those in low- and middle-income countries, where the availability of pain relieving opioid medications is limited, must take urgent action to stop the unnecessary suffering, the group said. "Allowing millions of people to suffer unnecessarily when their pain can be effectively treated violates their right to the best possible health," said Diederik Lohman, senior researcher in the HIV/AIDS program of Human Rights Watch. "Policymakers worldwide can and should address this."

Low- and middle-income countries are home to half the world's cancer patients and 95% of HIV sufferers, but account for just 6% of worldwide morphine consumption. Morphine is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a safe and effective drug and one that is absolutely necessary for the treatment of severe pain. Still, some 80% of the world's population does not have access to adequate pain treatment. As Human Rights Watch noted: "This is often due to overzealous drug control efforts and poor training for health care workers."

International drug control conventions and human rights treaties mandate that countries ensure the availability of opioid drugs for pain treatment. But many countries have failed to respond, despite entreaties from the UN and the WHO. The Human Rights Watch report specifically mentioned the reluctance to treat AIDS sufferers' pain in India, the unavailability of pain relievers in Colombia, and the apparent belief by some Kenyan doctors that patients were supposed to die in pain.

"Failure of leadership is a chief cause of the pain treatment gap," said Lohman. "We know how to treat pain and the key drugs are cheap to produce and distribute. What is lacking is the will and commitment to improve access. Governments must not stand by while people suffer."

The report cited the following common problems:

  • Many countries do not recognize palliative care and pain treatment as priorities in health care, have no relevant policies, have never assessed the need for pain treatment or examined how well that need is met and have not examined the barriers to such treatment.
  • Narcotic drug control regulations or enforcement practices in many countries impose unnecessary restrictions that limit access to morphine and other opioid pain relievers. They create excessively burdensome procedures for procurement, safekeeping, and prescription of these medications and sometimes discourage health care workers from prescribing narcotic drugs for fear of law enforcement scrutiny.
  • In many countries, medical and nursing school curricula do not include instruction on palliative care and pain treatment, meaning that many health care workers have inaccurate views of morphine and lack the knowledge and skills to treat pain adequately.

Human Rights Watch noted that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the lead UN agency on international drug policy, is in the midst of a review process, which it called an "opportunity to set ambitious and measurable goals to improve access to pain treatment." That would be a good first step, the group said.

"Human Rights Watch calls on all countries to develop and carry out palliative care and pain treatment policies, if they have not already done so, to review their narcotics regulations to ensure that they do not interfere with medical use of morphine and other opioid medications, and ensure that palliative and pain treatment are included in training curricula for doctors and nurses," the report concluded.

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12. Weekly: This Week in History

October 22, 1982: The first publicly known case of contra cocaine shipments appears in government files in a cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations. The cable passes on word that US law enforcement agencies are aware of "links between (a US religious organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups [which] involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms." [The material in parentheses was inserted by the CIA as part of its declassification of the cable. The name of the religious group remains secret.]

October 19, 1999: Taking a states' rights approach to medical marijuana, candidate George W. Bush says, "I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose." As president, Bush instead escalates prosecutions of medical marijuana providers by the US Dept. of Justice and opposes states' rights arguments in court proceedings.

October 23, 2001: Britain's Home Secretary, David Blunkett, proposes the reclassification of cannabis from Class B to Class C. Cannabis is soon decriminalized in Great Britain, only to be returned to Class B by the Labor government in 2008.

October 17, 2002: Florida Governor Jeb Bush's daughter is sentenced to 10 days in jail and led away in handcuffs after being accused of having crack cocaine in her shoe while in drug rehab. In a statement, the governor says he realizes his daughter must face the consequences of her actions.

October 23, 2002: Time/CNN conducts a telephone poll of 1,007 adult Americans over two days (October 23-24). The result: Nearly one out of every two American adults acknowledges they have used marijuana, up from fewer than one in three in 1983.

October 20, 2004: A groundbreaking coalition of black professional organizations comes together to form the National African American Drug Policy Coalition (NAADPC). NAADPC "urgently seeks alternatives to misguided drug policies that have led to mass incarceration."

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13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Along with our weekly in-depth Chronicle reporting, DRCNet has since late summer also been providing daily content in the way of blogging in the Stop the Drug War Speakeasy -- huge numbers of people have been reading it recently -- as well as Latest News links (upper right-hand corner of most web pages), event listings (lower right-hand corner) and other info. Check out DRCNet every day to stay on top of the drug reform game! Check out the Speakeasy main page at http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy.

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prohibition-era beer raid, Washington, DC (Library of Congress)

Since last issue:

Scott Morgan writes: "Study: Drug Czar's Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Ad Campaign is a Failure," "Another Complete Failure From the Drug Czar," "Legalizing Marijuana Would Stop Growers From Destroying Our Forests," "Drug Cop Admits His Career Was Built Around Lies and Wrongful Convictions," "Police Steal Money from Elderly Medical Marijuana Patients," "Laser-Guided Missiles Aren't the Answer," "Travel Alert: Mexico Unsafe Thanks to War on Drugs."

David Guard posts numerous press releases, action alerts and other organizational announcements in the In the Trenches blog.

Please join us in the Reader Blogs too.

Again, http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy is the online place to stay in the loop for the fight to stop the war on drugs. Thanks for reading, and writing...

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14. Job Opportunities: Community Organizer, Director of VIP Relations, Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project has two new job openings:

The Director of VIP Relations, who is based in Los Angeles, manages MPP's celebrity outreach and special events. Candidates should have solid experience in the entertainment industry, as well as established industry contacts. Candidates should also be highly-organized and persistent, with a proven track record of self-direction, initiative, and follow-through in a fast-paced environment.

The Community Organizer, who is based in Las Vegas, is responsible for organizing in the community and on college campuses throughout Nevada, writing e-mail alerts, netroots organizing, and managing a nationwide program to increase the number of subscribers to MPP's e- mail alerts. Candidates should be highly organized, detail-oriented, and possess excellent written and oral communication skills. Experience in management, volunteer coordination, or community organizing is preferred but not required.

For all positions, please visit http://www.mpp.org/jobs for full job descriptions and instructions on how to apply.

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15. Job Opportunity: National Coordinator, Fair Sentencing of Children, Washington, DC

The Advisory Council for the Fair Sentencing of Children, comprised of professionals working with: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, Equal Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the National Center for Youth Law, the National Juvenile Justice Network, and the Youth Justice Coalition, is seeking highly motivated individuals to assume the position of National Coordinator for the Fair Sentencing of Children. The National Coordinator, with the support and advice of the Advisory Council, will work towards ending the sentencing of juveniles to life without the possibility of parole (JLWOP) in the United States. There are currently 2,484 persons in US prisons serving JLWOP sentences for crimes committed as juveniles. Campaigns to eliminate JLWOP sentences are ongoing in roughly a dozen states. The National Coordinator will support these campaigns and build a national movement through coalition building, legislative reform work, litigation support and public education.

The responsibilities of the National Coordinator include, but are not limited to, bringing JLWOP advocates together regularly, through conference calls, in-person meetings, a listserv, and a website, to exchange news and ideas, strategize, and explore ways to work together; reaching out to and promoting dialogue with the wider juvenile justice community, victims and victims' rights organizations, law enforcement, and faith based groups; reporting to funders and seeking ongoing support for the National Coordinator's work; compiling model legislation, lobbying strategies, expert witnesses, agendas, public statements, letters of support, and other useful documents and methodologies to share with legislators and advocates working on JLWOP reform legislation at the state and federal levels; conducting and coordinating research concerning the impacts of JLWOP sentencing and sentencing alternatives; monitoring cases in the courts from an impact perspective, and monitoring clemency applications of juveniles serving JLWOP; directing defense attorneys to briefing resources and support (such as brief banks), and bringing new attorneys into reform networks; interacting with the press as a national expert on JLWOP; drafting opinion and editorial submissions; continuously compiling and periodically publishing updated data on the state of juvenile life without parole sentencing in the United States; and advocating at and staying informed of developments at the international level to feed back to coalition networks and for public education purposes.

This position is currently a one-year full-time position, with an anticipated initial extension of one to two years. The National Coordinator is supervised by the Advisory Council for the Fair Sentencing of Children, and is supported by a half-time administrative assistant. It is anticipated that the National Coordinator will be based in Washington, DC; the Advisory Council will consider alternative placements.

Applicants should have at least 4 years of relevant experience in juvenile or criminal justice policy or practice, law, grassroots organizing, public policy, policy reform, or legislative advocacy. An advanced degree in law, public policy, or related fields is preferred. The successful applicant must be highly effective at working in coalitions with diverse partners, an effective public speaker, a leader as well as a collaborative worker, and possess excellent speaking and writing skills in English. The ideal candidate will have good judgment and strong coalition building skills; excellent analytical and strategic-thinking capabilities; the ability to work quickly and effectively under pressure; the capacity to pay close attention to detail while working in a fast-paced environment and juggling multiple tasks; and the ability to work effectively independently, as part of a team, and in partnership with other organizations. A commitment to juvenile or criminal justice reform in the United States is essential. Applicants should be willing to travel.

Competitive compensation commensurate with experience as well as generous benefits.

To apply, please send a letter of interest describing your experience and commitments relevant to this position as well as your preferred salary range; your resume; telephone numbers and email addresses for three reference persons; and a brief (no more than 5 pages) persuasive unedited writing sample (no legal briefs or memoranda) that was solely authored by the applicant. Send applications to anlyn.addis@gmail.com. Only complete submissions will be reviewed.

The Advisory Council for Fair Sentencing of Children does not discriminate in its hiring practices and, in order to build the strongest possible applicant pool, diverse applicants are strongly encouraged to apply.

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16. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we'd like to hear from you. DRCNet needs two things:

  1. We are in between newsletter grants, and that makes our need for donations more pressing. Drug War Chronicle is free to read but not to produce! Click here to make a donation by credit card or PayPal, or to print out a form to send in by mail.

  2. Please send quotes and reports on how you put our flow of information to work, for use in upcoming grant proposals and letters to funders or potential funders. Do you use DRCNet as a source for public speaking? For letters to the editor? Helping you talk to friends or associates about the issue? Research? For your own edification? Have you changed your mind about any aspects of drug policy since subscribing, or inspired you to get involved in the cause? Do you reprint or repost portions of our bulletins on other lists or in other newsletters? Do you have any criticisms or complaints, or suggestions? We want to hear those too. Please send your response -- one or two sentences would be fine; more is great, too -- email borden@drcnet.org or reply to a Chronicle email or use our online comment form. Please let us know if we may reprint your comments, and if so, if we may include your name or if you wish to remain anonymous. IMPORTANT: Even if you have given us this kind of feedback before, we could use your updated feedback now too -- we need to hear from you!

Again, please help us keep Drug War Chronicle alive at this important time! Click here to make a donation online, or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation to make a tax-deductible donation for Drug War Chronicle -- remember if you select one of our member premium gifts that will reduce the portion of your donation that is tax-deductible -- or make a non-deductible donation for our lobbying work -- online or check payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, same address. We can also accept contributions of stock -- email borden@drcnet.org for the necessary info.

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17. Webmasters: Help the Movement by Running DRCNet Syndication Feeds on Your Web Site!

Are you a fan of DRCNet, and do you have a web site you'd like to use to spread the word more forcefully than a single link to our site can achieve? We are pleased to announce that DRCNet content syndication feeds are now available. Whether your readers' interest is in-depth reporting as in Drug War Chronicle, the ongoing commentary in our blogs, or info on specific drug war subtopics, we are now able to provide customizable code for you to paste into appropriate spots on your blog or web site to run automatically updating links to DRCNet educational content.

For example, if you're a big fan of Drug War Chronicle and you think your readers would benefit from it, you can have the latest issue's headlines, or a portion of them, automatically show up and refresh when each new issue comes out.

If your site is devoted to marijuana policy, you can run our topical archive, featuring links to every item we post to our site about marijuana -- Chronicle articles, blog posts, event listings, outside news links, more. The same for harm reduction, asset forfeiture, drug trade violence, needle exchange programs, Canada, ballot initiatives, roughly a hundred different topics we are now tracking on an ongoing basis. (Visit the Chronicle main page, right-hand column, to see the complete current list.)

If you're especially into our new Speakeasy blog section, new content coming out every day dealing with all the issues, you can run links to those posts or to subsections of the Speakeasy.

Click here to view a sample of what is available -- please note that the length, the look and other details of how it will appear on your site can be customized to match your needs and preferences.

Please also note that we will be happy to make additional permutations of our content available to you upon request (though we cannot promise immediate fulfillment of such requests as the timing will in many cases depend on the availability of our web site designer). Visit our Site Map page to see what is currently available -- any RSS feed made available there is also available as a javascript feed for your web site (along with the Chronicle feed which is not showing up yet but which you can find on the feeds page linked above). Feel free to try out our automatic feed generator, online here.

Contact us for assistance or to let us know what you are running and where. And thank you in advance for your support.

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18. Resource: DRCNet Web Site Offers Wide Array of RSS Feeds for Your Reader

RSS feeds are the wave of the future -- and DRCNet now offers them! The latest Drug War Chronicle issue is now available using RSS at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/feed online.

We have many other RSS feeds available as well, following about a hundred different drug policy subtopics that we began tracking since the relaunch of our web site this summer -- indexing not only Drug War Chronicle articles but also Speakeasy blog posts, event listings, outside news links and more -- and for our daily blog postings and the different subtracks of them. Visit our Site Map page to peruse the full set.

Thank you for tuning in to DRCNet and drug policy reform!

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19. Resource: Reformer's Calendar Accessible Through DRCNet Web Site

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DRCNet's Reformer's Calendar is a tool you can use to let the world know about your events, and find out what is going on in your area in the issue. This resource used to run in our newsletter each week, but now is available from the right hand column of most of the pages on our web site.

The Reformer's Calendar publishes events large and small of interest to drug policy reformers around the world. Whether it's a major international conference, a demonstration bringing together people from around the region or a forum at the local college, we want to know so we can let others know, too.

But we need your help to keep the calendar current, so please make sure to contact us and don't assume that we already know about the event or that we'll hear about it from someone else, because that doesn't always happen.

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Permission to Reprint: This issue of Drug War Chronicle is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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