Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Europa: El consejo británico de ministros está lleno de ex usuarios de marihuana

En la semana en que el nuevo primer ministro británico, Gordon Brown, anunció que su gobierno repensará reclasificar la marihuana de una droga de Clase C (menos seria) para una de Clase B (más seria), nueve ministros de su consejo han admitido fumar marihuana. Los pronunciamientos probablemente tanto avergonzaran el gobierno Brown como lo dejaran vulnerable a acusaciones de hipocresía si toma providencias para volver el consumo, la tenencia y la venta de marihuana sujetas a penas más duras.

La marihuana fue rebajada a la Clase C en enero de 2004 durante el gobierno de Tony Blair, pero la medida ha sido polémica desde el principio y es aún más hoy día, ya que gran parte de los medios y la clase política británicos parece paralizada por la psicosis cannábica.

El gobierno Brown ha pedido al Consejo Accesorio sobre el Uso Indebido de Drogas (ACMD, sigla en inglés) que investigue si la marihuana es bien más fuerte ahora que antes y si las relaciones entre ella y la enfermedad mental son tan fuertes que ella debería ser devuelta a la Clase B. Hace menos de dos años, el ACMD averiguó la misma cuestión y decidió que la marihuana debería permanecer donde está.

La cascada de admisiones de fumo de droga empezó a mediados de la semana pasada, cuando la ministra del Interior, Jacqui Smith, cuya cartera está encargada de la reclasificación, admitió que ella había fumado marihuana cuando era estudiante en la Universidad de Oxford en los años 1980.

“Yo sí infringí la ley... estaba equivocada... las drogas están mal”, dijo ella en lo que ahora es el mea culpa obligatorio y la humillación ritual que deben acompañar cualquier admisión de consumo de drogas de parte de políticos prominentes. Ella no dijo si creía que habría sido mejor en caso de que fuera castigada con las penas más rigurosas que los usuarios de marihuana pueden recibir más una vez si la droga es reclasificada.

Smith fue apenas la primera de siete ministros actuales a admitir consumo de marihuana en el pasado la semana pasada. Los otros fueron el ministro de Hacienda, Alistair Darling; la ministra de los Transportes. Ruth Kelly; el ministro de la Economía, John Hutton; el ministro del Tesoro, Andy Burnham; el ministro de la Educación, John Denham y la vicepresidenta del Labor, Harriet Harman. Las dos otras ministras del consejo, la ministra de Vivienda, Yvette Cooper, y la ministra de Comunidades, Hazel Blears, habían admitido anteriormente fumar marihuana en el pasado.

Harman, la vicepresidenta del Labor, se portó como sus colegas ministros fumadores de marihuana, todos los cuales dijeron que su consumo fue experimental y que ocurrió hace mucho tiempo. Cuando indagada si también había fumado, ella contestó: “Sí, cuando estaba en la universidad, yo fumé cannabis una u dos veces”. Pero, desde entonces, se ha enderezado, dijo: “Me he dado el gusto de alguna que otra copa de vino, pero no de cannabis”.

Los conservadores oposicionistas han dejado pasar la oportunidad de atacar al gobierno laborista por el asunto, probablemente porque muchos miembros del gobierno conservador en la sombra también han admitido consumir marihuana en el pasado. El actual líder conservador, David Cameron, se ha rehusado varias veces a decir si consumió drogas antes de volverse una persona pública, a pesar de los rumores persistentes de haber hecho más que fumar un poquito de marihuana en el pasado.

Justicia penal: Líderes del Partido Verde piden reformas radicales

Aunque, en general, los republicanos sigan la línea dura “severa con la criminalidad” que les ha servido tan bien durante décadas y a los demócratas siquiera le importe votar contra los allanamientos de la DEA contra los proveedores de marihuana medicinal, el Partido Verde de los EE.UU. está pidiendo reformas radicales en el sistema de justicia penal para reducir la velocidad de la apisonadora del encarcelamiento en masa y deshacer los prejuicios contra negros, hispanos y los pobres.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/cliffthorntoncampaigning.jpg
Cliff Thornton en campaña
Esta semana, líderes verdes llamaron el estatus de los EE.UU. como líder en el encarcelamiento – tanto en porcentaje como en números reales – una “vergüenza para los Estados Unidos” y expresaron alarma con el prejuicio racial sistemático en el sistema de justicia penal estadounidense. Aunque usaran el caso de los "Seis de Jena" – seis estudiantes negros de secundaria de Jena, en Luisiana, acusados ahora de tentativa de asesinato por una pelea escolar en la cual ningún estudiante blanco fue acusado – como pretexto, los verdes trataron rápidamente de las cuestiones generales de la equidad en la justicia penal y la guerra a las drogas.

“El caso de los Seis de Jena simboliza cómo las personas de color en los EE.UU. enfrentan el proceso y la condenación”, dijo Clifford Thornton, candidato verde al gobierno de Connecticut en 2006 y cofundador del grupo de reforma de las políticas de drogas Efficacy. “El proceso de los Seis de Jena es uno de los ejemplos más descarados y escandalosos de cómo nuestro sistema de justicia penaliza regularmente a negros y morenos – especialmente los niños”.

Los verdes también citaron un estudio reciente del Sentencing Project que descubrió diversas disparidades raciales y étnicas en la manera por la cual las personas son tratadas por el sistema de justicia penal. El informe descubrió que los negros son presos cinco veces más que los blancos y que los hispanos son presos casi dos veces más que los blancos.

Líderes verdes alistaron diversas medidas urgentes para poner el sistema de justicia a punto:

  • Monitoreo federal de prácticas procesales y padrones de condenación en todas las jurisdicciones en que dichas disparidades son evidentes, conforme a las leyes de derechos civiles;
  • Cancelación de la guerra contra las drogas, que los verdes han llamado "una guerra contra los jóvenes y las personas de color”. El partido señala que: “De acuerdo con la DEA, el FBI, el Ministerio de Justicia, las agencias policíacas y numerosos grupos e investigadores de interés público, 72% de todos los usuarios de drogas ilegales y la mayoría de los involucrados en el narcotráfico son blancos, mientras que los afroamericanos son apenas 13% de todos los consumidores de drogas ilegales y un porcentaje diminuto de los importadores de drogas. A pesar de estos datos, el porcentaje abrumador de los presos por drogas es negro”;
  • Abolición de la pena de muerte;
  • Revocación de los estatutos de tolerancia cero y de condenación obligatoria, que agrandan el poder de los fiscales y desgastan la discreción judicial;
  • Un fin a los abusos del sistema de acuerdos de confesión de culpabilidad, que han resultado en la prisión de inocentes que no tienen los recursos financieros para defenderse suficientemente en la Justicia;
  • Un fin a la privatización del sistema carcelario, que crea incentivos económicos a poner a más personas entre rejas, ya que los dueños y contratistas empresariales de prisiones aumentan sus lucros cuando más celdas son ocupadas. Los verdes han relacionado las prisiones privatizadas con las duras leyes contra las drogas, la objetivación de los pobres y de las personas de color para proceso criminal, condenación obligatoria y severa, altos índices de pena de muerte en algunos estados y demás políticas.

¿Su partido tiene estos puntos en su programa? ¿Por qué no?

Imposición de la ley: Las historias de policías corruptos de esta semana

Un agente de Michigan es acusado de desaparecer con harta cocaína, un fiscal de la libertad vigilada juvenil de Alabama es acusado de informar a los bandidos, un policía estadual de Massachusetts acepta un acuerdo en un esquema de tráfico de analgésicos y un policía de Missouri es preso por robar a entregadores de drogas. Vamos a ello:

En Detroit, un agente de represión a los estupefacientes de Detroit fue suspenso el 19 de julio por supuestamente robarse seis kilogramos de cocaína pura del almacén de pruebas de la comisaría. La jefa de policía de Detroit, Ella Bully-Cummings, no identificó al oficial, diciendo que él aún no había sido acusado criminalmente, pero ella sí dijo que él tuvo acceso al almacén de pruebas y era sospecho de reemplazar la cocaína por otra sustancia. La droga robada estaba estimada en $2.4 millones, añadió.

En Worcester, Massachusetts, un policía estadual se confesó culpable el 19 de julio de acusaciones relacionadas con su rol en un esquema de distribución de Oxycontin. El policía Mark Lemieux, 49, un ex miembro del Destacamento Antidroga de la Fiscalía de la Comarca de Bristol, es acusado de asociarse delictuosamente con su ex compañero en la policía estadual, su novia cohabitante y un pistolero contratado para distribuir el popular analgésico de junio de 2006 a mayo de 2007. Él integró el destacamento de 2002 hasta diciembre de 2006. Lemieux y compañía cayeron después que un abastecedor que había contactado fue preso y estuvo de acuerdo en ponerse una escucha. Los documentos de acusación dicen que la policía hizo que Lemieux recogiera dos veces dinero de traficantes mientras usaba uniforme y manejaba un patrullero sin placa.

En San Luis, un ex sargento de la policía del área suburbana de San Luis recibió cuatro años de prisión federal el 20 de julio por su rol en una asociación delictuosa para traficar cocaína. El ex sargento de Hillsdale, Christopher Cornell, 45, fue incriminado junto con cinco otros hombres del área de San Luis en lo que los fiscales llamaron una asociación delictuosa para distribuir cocaína por toda el área metropolitana. Los miembros del grupo confesaron tramar el robo de entregadores de drogas al hacer que los cargamentos pasaran por Hillsdale, donde Cornell los pararía y se quedaría con sus drogas. Él aceptó ser acusado de uso de un aparato de comunicación para facilitar un crimen.

Semanal: Blogueando en el Bar Clandestino

Junto con nuestro reportaje investigativo de la Crónica, desde el verano pasado la DRCNet también ha estado proporcionando contenido diario en la forma de blogueo en el Bar Clandestino Stop the Drug War , así como enlaces a las Últimas Noticias (esquina inferior izquierda) y más informaciones. ¡Chequee la DRCNet todos los días para estar al corriente de la reforma de las políticas de drogas!

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/flapper1-arbizu.jpg
foto de bar clandestino, con las chicas (por cortesía de arbizu.org)

Esta semana:

Scott Morgan nos brinda con "ONDCP's 'Cocaine Shortage' Announcement is Pure Fiction" [Anuncio de “falta de cocaína” del ONDCP es pura ficción], "Rumors of a DEA Blog Prompt Curiosity & Concern" [Los rumores de una bitácora de la DEA instigan curiosidad y preocupación] y "Even Anti-Meth Activists Oppose the Drug War" [Aun los activistas antimetanfetamina se oponen a la guerra a las drogas].

David Borden hace un análisis de la votación en la marihuana medicinal del miércoles por la noche e imprime una "Letter from a Would-Be Medical Marijuana Patient" [Carta de un paciente de marihuana medicinal en potencia].

David Guard también ha estado ocupado publicando una plétora de notas de prensa, alertas, listados de empleos y otros artículos interesantes republicados de muchas organizaciones aliadas alrededor del mundo en nuestro feed activista "In the Trenches".

Únase a nuestras Bitácoras del Lector aquí.

Gracias por leer, y escribir...

Primera Enmienda: Federales asustados incriminan a pareja por publicar volantes que identifican a soplón

El martes, un gran jurado federal en Filadelfia incriminó a dos personas, un narcotraficante acusado y su enamorada, por distribuir volantes que identificaban a un informante confidencial en su caso federal de delito de drogas como soplón. Ninguna ley protege a informantes contra tener sus identidades publicadas, pero los fiscales federales hicieron presión – y lograron – una incriminación en este caso por acusaciones de intimidación de testigos y asociación delictuosa.

La información en los volantes vino de la página web Who's A Rat?, que alista informaciones sobre más de 4.300 informantes y 400 policías encubiertos. El fiscal federal Patrick Meehan llamó la página web “el nuevo enemigo” de la ley y de sus soplones.

“Es un subproducto de la cultura de parar de soplar que todos nosotros deberíamos hallar profundamente perturbadora”, dijo Meehan en una rueda de prensa y “tiene el potencial de comprometer innúmeros procesos por todo el país”.

Meehan reconoció que la página web está protegida por la Primera Enmienda, pero decidió incriminar a la pareja aun así por intentar intimidar a los testigos.

Los dos son Joseph Davis, que actualmente cumple una sentencia de 17 años por tráfico de PCP, gracias en parte al informante visado en los volantes, y su novia, Adero Miwo, 24. Davis y el informante fueron ambos incriminados en el caso sobre el PCP y el informante, conocido como “D.S.”, pasó a atestar contra el reo, es decir, Davis.

Supuestamente, Davis y Miwo distribuyeron entonces volantes que identificaban a D.S. como soplón en parabrisas, postes y buzones en el cono oeste de Filadelfia en que él vivía. Basándose en informaciones publicadas en Who’s A Rat, la pareja produjo volantes que lo acusaban de delatar y mostraban su foto, junto con el siguiente comentario: “Este tipo es un borrachín, un marihuanero y un ladrón de automóviles conocido entre sus pares. Quien debería ser retirado de las calles es él”, de acuerdo con documentos judiciales.

Davis, que ya está entre rejas, puede recibir más 10 años de prisión, en tanto que Miwo puede recibir hasta tres años.

Las autoridades de la ley por todos los EE.UU. se han quejado enérgicamente que el movimiento “paren de soplar” que se ha esparcido alrededor del país está impidiéndolos solucionar los crímenes. Who’s A Rat no está ayudando, reclaman.

Dichas páginas web muestran una “profunda falta de respeto” por el sistema legal, se quejó JP Weis, director de la oficina del FBI en Filadelfia. “El mensaje distorsionado” en las calles de la ciudad, dijo, “es el de que, de alguna manera, dar informaciones sobre un crimen es peor que cometer un crimen realmente”. Weis dijo que eso es “perturbador”.

Ni Weis ni Meehan trataron del porqué de la “profunda falta de respeto” por el sistema legal o qué tiene que ver la guerra a las drogas, gran parte de la cual se funda en coaccionar a las personas a volverse informantes, con el problema.

El vocero de Who’s A Rat, Chris Brown, le dijo al Philadelphia Inquirer que la página web publica informaciones públicas enviadas por terceros y que está protegida por la Primera Enmienda. Brown dijo que “no puede creer que alguien haya sido incriminado por pegar un volante” y que dicha publicidad sólo “vuelve la página web mucho más popular”.

Tributo: La activista antiguerra a las drogas de San Francisco, Virginia Resner

La antigua activista de las políticas de drogas, de la marihuana medicinal y de los derechos humanos de San Francisco, Virginia Resner, falleció el 18 de julio en su ciudad natal después de una larga lucha contra el cáncer de mama. Tenía 60 años de edad.

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Virginia Resner (la segunda de la izquierda) recibiendo el Galardón Randall, con Nora Callahan, Randy Credico, Mikki Norris y Chris Conrad (por cortesía de hr95.org)
Hija de un abogado de la labor, a quien ella daba crédito por inspirar su activismo y devoción a la justicia, Resner se unió a la causa de la reforma de las políticas de drogas a principios de los años 1990 tras quedar expuesta directamente a sus estragos. Un día en 1991, Resner regresó a casa del trabajo para encontrar a agentes federales revistando su hogar en busca de pruebas para usar contra su compañero, Steven Faulkner, que había estado involucrado en un plan para vender drogas. Faulkner terminó con una sentencia mínima obligatoria de cinco años de prisión como infractor primario y no violento de la legislación antidroga y la carrera de Resner como activista estaba en marcha.

Atormentada con la condición de las mujeres y de las familias deshechas por las prácticas rigorosas de la guerra a las drogas, Resner se volvió la directora estadual de California de la Families Against Mandatory Minimums. En ese cargo, ella desempeñó un papel fundamental en el esfuerzo para obtener la clemencia presidencial para Amy Pofahl, que había cumplido nueve años de una sentencia de 24 por un delito de narcotráfico. El presidente Bill Clinton le concedió la clemencia a Pofahl en 2000.

Resner también se unió a los activistas pro marihuana del Este de la Bahía de San Francisco, Mikki Norris y Chris Conrad, en crear la exposición itinerante "Los derechos humanos y la guerra a las drogas", que contaba con fotos de varios presos de la guerra a las drogas, de sus familias e información sobre sus casos. Por fin, esa labor produjo un libro, escrito conjuntamente por Resner, Norris y Conrad, "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War" [Vidas destrozadas: Retratos de la guerra a las drogas de los Estados Unidos].

Resner recibió el Galardón Robert C. Randall por Logro en el Campo de la Acción Ciudadana en 2001 de la Drug Policy Alliance por sus labores en el libro.

Últimamente, Resner fue la presidenta del Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, en que ella estuvo involucrada íntimamente en las luchas legales del “Gurú de la Ganja” Ed Rosenthal. A pesar de sus luchas contra el cáncer, ella logró comparecer a sus audiencias y tratar de los artículos administrativos para su defensa.

La extrañaremos.

Análisis: ¿Quién votó a favor de la marihuana medicinal de esta vez? Desglose por voto, partido y cambios respecto a 2006

(Además de la información que publicamos el miércoles por la noche en la bitácora del Bar Clandestino, hemos identificado ahora que los miembros que no votaron en la Hinchey el año pasado son recién electos a diferencia de los que simplemente no votaron en ella.)

Salieron los resultados sobre la Hinchey, que perdió por 165 a 262. Es sólo una ligera mejora con relación al año pasado, cuando perdimos por 163-259. He aquí un sumario de las principales estadísticas:

  • 165 congresistas votaron a favor de la enmienda Hinchey sobre la marihuana medicinal este año (150 de ellos demócratas), pero 262 congresistas votaron en su contra. Diez congresistas no tenían votos registrados (más Pelosi, por algún motivo técnico como Presidenta).
  • 78 demócratas votaron contra la enmienda, mientras que 15 republicanos votaron a favor;
  • Nueve congresistas que votaron Sí en la enmienda el año pasado cambiaron sus votos para No de esta vez (silbidos) y tres que votaron No el año pasado cambiaron para Sí;
  • 27 congresistas que o fueron recién elegidos o no tenían un voto registrado respecto de la enmienda Hinchey el año pasado votaron Sí, sólo uno de ellos era republicano;
  • 45 congresistas que o fueron recién elegidos o no votaron en la enmienda el año pasado votaron No, inclusive 24 demócratas y 21 republicanos;
  • Dos congresistas que votaron Sí el año pasado no votaron en la enmienda este año y siete congresistas que votaron No el año pasado tampoco votaron este año.

La siguiente es una compilación detallada que cobre todas las estadísticas listadas arriba:

165 congresistas votaron a favor de la enmienda Hinchey sobre la marihuana medicinal este año:

Abercrombie (D-HI)
Ackerman (D-NY)
Allen (D-ME)
Andrews (D-NJ)
Baird (D-WA)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bartlett (R-MD)
Becerra (D-CA)
Berkley (D-NV)
Berman (D-CA)
Bishop (D-GA)
Bishop (D-NY)
Blumenauer (D-OR)
Brady (D-PA)
Broun (R-GA)
Campbell (R-CA)
Capps (D-CA)
Capuano (D-MA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carson (D-IN)
Christensen (D-VI)
Clay (D-MO)
Cleaver (D-MO)
Cohen (D-TN)
Conyers (D-MI)
Courtney (D-CT)
Crowley (D-NY)
Davis (D-CA)
Davis (D-IL)
DeFazio (D-OR)
DeGette (D-CO)
Delahunt (D-MA)
DeLauro (D-CT)
Doggett (D-TX)
Doyle (D-PA)
Ellison (D-MN)
Emanuel (D-IL)
Engel (D-NY)
Eshoo (D-CA)
Farr (D-CA)
Fattah (D-PA)
Filner (D-CA)
Flake (R-AZ)
Frank (D-MA)
Garrett (R-NJ)
Giffords (D-AZ)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Gonzalez (D-TX)
Green, Al (D-TX)
Grijalva (D-AZ)
Gutierrez (D-IL)
Hare (D-IL)
Harman (D-CA)
Hastings (D-FL)
Higgins (D-NY)
Hinchey (D-NY)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hodes (D-NH)
Holt (D-NJ)
Honda (D-CA)
Hooley (D-OR)
Hoyer (D-MD)
Inslee (D-WA)
Israel (D-NY)
Jackson (D-IL)
Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Johnson (D-GA)
Johnson (R-IL)
Johnson, E. B. (D-TX)
Jones (D-OH)
Kanjorski (D-PA)
Kaptur (D-OH)
Kennedy (D-RI)
Kildee (D-MI)
Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Kind (D-WI)
Kucinich (D-OH)
Langevin (D-RI)
Lantos (D-CA)
Larson (D-CT)
LaTourette (R-OH)
Lee (D-CA)
Lewis (D-GA)
Loebsack (D-IA)
Lofgren (D-CA)
Lowey (D-NY)
Maloney (D-NY)
Markey (D-MA)
Matsui (D-CA)
McCarthy (D-NY)
McCollum (D-MN)
McDermott (D-WA)
McGovern (D-MA)
McNulty (D-NY)
Melancon (D-LA)
Miller, George (D-CA)
Mitchell (D-AZ)
Moore (D-KS)
Moore (D-WI)
Moran (D-VA)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murtha (D-PA)
Nadler (D-NY)
Napolitano (D-CA)
Neal (D-MA)
Norton (D-DC)
Oberstar (D-MN)
Obey (D-WI)
Olver (D-MA)
Pallone (D-NJ)
Pascrell (D-NJ)
Pastor (D-AZ)
Paul (R-TX)
Payne (D-NJ)
Perlmutter (D-CO)
Peterson (D-MN)
Porter (R-NV)
Price (D-NC)
Rangel (D-NY)
Rehberg (R-MT)
Renzi (R-AZ)
Rodriguez (D-TX)
Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rothman (D-NJ)
Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Royce (R-CA)
Ruppersberger (D-MD)
Rush (D-IL)
Ryan (D-OH)
Sanchez, Linda T. (D-CA)
Sanchez, Loretta (D-CA)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schakowsky (D-IL)
Schiff (D-CA)
Scott (D-GA)
Scott (D-VA)
Serrano (D-NY)
Sestak (D-PA)
Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Sherman (D-CA)
Sires (D-NJ)
Slaughter (D-NY)
Solis (D-CA)
Sutton (D-OH)
Tancredo (R-CO)
Tauscher (D-CA)
Thompson (D-CA)
Tierney (D-MA)
Towns (D-NY)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Velazquez (D-NY)
Walz (D-MN)
Waters (D-CA)
Watson (D-CA)
Watt (D-NC)
Waxman (D-CA)
Weiner (D-NY)
Welch (D-VT)
Wexler (D-FL)
Woolsey (D-CA)
Wu (D-OR)
Wynn (D-MD)
Yarmuth (D-KY)

... pero 262 congresistas votaron contra ella:

Aderholt (R-AL)
Akin (R-MO)
Alexander (R-LA)
Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Baca (D-CA)
Bachmann (R-MN)
Baker (R-LA)
Barrett (R-SC)
Barrow (D-GA)
Barton (R-TX)
Bean (D-IL)
Berry (D-AR)
Biggert (R-IL)
Bilbray (R-CA)
Bilirakis (R-FL)
Bishop (R-UT)
Blackburn (R-TN)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boehner (R-OH)
Bonner (R-AL)
Bono (R-CA)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boren (D-OK)
Boswell (D-IA)
Boustany (R-LA)
Boyd (D-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Bradley (R-NH)
Brady (R-TX)
Braley (D-IA)
Brown (D-FL)
Brown (R-SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny (R-FL)
Buchanan (R-FL)
Burgess (R-TX)
Burton (R-IN)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Buyer (R-IN)
Calvert (R-CA)
Camp (R-MI)
Cannon (R-UT)
Cantor (R-VA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardoza (D-CA)
Carney (D-PA)
Carter (R-TX)
Castle (R-DE)
Castor (D-FL)
Chabot (R-OH)
Chandler (D-KY)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Coble (R-NC)
Cole (R-OK)
Conaway (R-TX)
Cooper (D-TN)
Costa (D-CA)
Costello (D-IL)
Cramer (D-AL)
Crenshaw (R-FL)
Cuellar (D-TX)
Culberson (R-TX)
Cummings (D-MD)
Davis (D-AL)
Davis (D-TN)
Davis (R-KY)
Davis, David (R-TN)
Davis, Tom (R-VA)
Deal (R-GA)
Dent (R-PA)
Diaz-Balart, L. (R-FL)
Diaz-Balart, M. (R-FL)
Dicks (D-WA)
Dingell (D-MI)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Doolittle (R-CA)
Drake (R-VA)
Dreier (R-CA)
Duncan (R-TN)
Edwards (D-TX)
Ehlers (R-MI)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Emerson (R-MO)
English (R-PA)
Etheridge (D-NC)
Everett (R-AL)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)
Fallin (R-OK)
Feeney (R-FL)
Ferguson (R-NJ)
Forbes (R-VA)
Fortenberry (R-NE)
Fortuno (R-PR)
Fossella (R-NY)
Foxx (R-NC)
Franks (R-AZ)
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Gallegly (R-CA)
Gerlach (R-PA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gillmor (R-OH)
Gingrey (R-GA)
Gohmert (R-TX)
Goode (R-VA)
Goodlatte (R-VA)
Gordon (D-TN)
Granger (R-TX)
Graves (R-MO)
Green, Gene (D-TX)
Hall (D-NY)
Hall (R-TX)
Hastert (R-IL)
Hastings (R-WA)
Hayes (R-NC)
Heller (R-NV)
Hensarling (R-TX)
Herger (R-CA)
Herseth (D-SD)
Hill (D-IN)
Hinojosa (D-TX)
Hobson (R-OH)
Hoekstra (R-MI)
Holden (D-PA)
Hulshof (R-MO)
Hunter (R-CA)
Inglis (R-SC)
Issa (R-CA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Jindal (R-LA)
Johnson, Sam (R-TX)
Jones (R-NC)
Jordan (R-OH)
Kagen (D-WI)
Keller (R-FL)
King (R-IA)
King (R-NY)
Kingston (R-GA)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klein (D-FL)
Kline (R-MN)
Knollenberg (R-MI)
Kuhl (R-NY)
Lamborn (R-CO)
Lampson (D-TX)
Larsen (D-WA)
Latham (R-IA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lewis (R-CA)
Lewis (R-KY)
Linder (R-GA)
Lipinski (D-IL)
LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Lucas (R-OK)
Lungren (R-CA)
Lynch (D-MA)
Mack (R-FL)
Mahoney (D-FL)
Manzullo (R-IL)
Marchant (R-TX)
Matheson (D-UT)
McCarthy (R-CA)
McCaul (R-TX)
McCotter (R-MI)
McCrery (R-LA)
McHenry (R-NC)
McHugh (R-NY)
McIntyre (D-NC)
McKeon (R-CA)
McMorris (R-WA)
McNerney (D-CA)
Meek (D-FL)
Meeks (D-NY)
Mica (R-FL)
Miller (D-NC)
Miller (R-FL)
Miller (R-MI)
Miller, Gary (R-CA)
Mollohan (D-WV)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (R-PA)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Musgrave (R-CO)
Myrick (R-NC)
Neugebauer (R-TX)
Nunes (R-CA)
Ortiz (D-TX)
Pearce (R-NM)
Pence (R-IN)
Peterson (R-PA)
Petri (R-WI)
Pickering (R-MS)
Pitts (R-PA)
Platts (R-PA)
Poe (R-TX)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Price (R-GA)
Pryce (R-OH)
Putnam (R-FL)
Radanovich (R-CA)
Rahall (D-WV)
Ramstad (R-MN)
Regula (R-OH)
Reichert (R-WA)
Reyes (D-TX)
Reynolds (R-NY)
Rogers (R-AL)
Rogers (R-KY)
Rogers (R-MI)
Roskam (R-IL)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Ross (D-AR)
Ryan (R-WI)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sali (R-ID)
Saxton (R-NJ)
Schmidt (R-OH)
Schwartz (D-PA)
Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Sessions (R-TX)
Shadegg (R-AZ)
Shays (R-CT)
Shimkus (R-IL)
Shuler (D-NC)
Shuster (R-PA)
Simpson (R-ID)
Skelton (D-MO)
Smith (D-WA)
Smith (R-NE)
Smith (R-NJ)
Smith (R-TX)
Snyder (D-AR)
Souder (R-IN)
Space (D-OH)
Spratt (D-SC)
Stearns (R-FL)
Stupak (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-OK)
Tanner (D-TN)
Taylor (D-MS)
Terry (R-NE)
Thompson (D-MS)
Thornberry (R-TX)
Tiahrt (R-KS)
Tiberi (R-OH)
Turner (R-OH)
Upton (R-MI)
Visclosky (D-IN)
Walberg (R-MI)
Walden (R-OR)
Walsh (R-NY)
Wamp (R-TN)
Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Weldon (R-FL)
Weller (R-IL)
Westmoreland (R-GA)
Whitfield (R-KY)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wilson (D-OH)
Wilson (R-NM)
Wilson (R-SC)
Wolf (R-VA)
Young (R-FL)

10 congresistas no tenían votos registrados (más Pelosi, por algún motivo técnico como Presidenta):

Bachus (R-AL)
Boucher (D-VA)
Clarke (D-NY)
Cubin (R-WY)
Davis, Jo Ann (R-VA)
LaHood (R-IL)
Marshall (D-GA)
Michaud (D-ME)
Stark (D-CA)
Young (R-AK)

78 demócratas votaron contra la enmienda:

Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Baca (D-CA)
Barrow (D-GA)
Bean (D-IL)
Berry (D-AR)
Boren (D-OK)
Boswell (D-IA)
Boyd (D-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Braley (D-IA)
Brown (D-FL)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Cardoza (D-CA)
Carney (D-PA)
Castor (D-FL)
Chandler (D-KY)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Cooper (D-TN)
Costa (D-CA)
Costello (D-IL)
Cramer (D-AL)
Cuellar (D-TX)
Cummings (D-MD)
Davis (D-AL)
Davis (D-TN)
Dicks (D-WA)
Dingell (D-MI)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Edwards (D-TX)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Etheridge (D-NC)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gordon (D-TN)
Green, Gene (D-TX)
Hall (D-NY)
Herseth (D-SD)
Hill (D-IN)
Hinojosa (D-TX)
Holden (D-PA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Kagen (D-WI)
Klein (D-FL)
Lampson (D-TX)
Larsen (D-WA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lipinski (D-IL)
Lynch (D-MA)
Mahoney (D-FL)
Matheson (D-UT)
McIntyre (D-NC)
McNerney (D-CA)
Meek (D-FL)
Meeks (D-NY)
Miller (D-NC)
Mollohan (D-WV)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Ortiz (D-TX)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Rahall (D-WV)
Reyes (D-TX)
Ross (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Schwartz (D-PA)
Shuler (D-NC)
Skelton (D-MO)
Smith (D-WA)
Snyder (D-AR)
Space (D-OH)
Spratt (D-SC)
Stupak (D-MI)
Tanner (D-TN)
Taylor (D-MS)
Thompson (D-MS)
Visclosky (D-IN)
Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Wilson (D-OH)

... mientras que 15 republicanos votaron a favor de ella:

Bartlett (R-MD)
Broun (R-GA)
Campbell (R-CA)
Flake (R-AZ)
Garrett (R-NJ)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Johnson (R-IL)
LaTourette (R-OH)
Paul (R-TX)
Porter (R-NV)
Rehberg (R-MT)
Renzi (R-AZ)
Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Royce (R-CA)
Tancredo (R-CO)

Nueve congresistas que votaron Sí en la enmienda el año pasado cambiaron sus votos para No de esta vez (silbidos):

Brown (D-FL)
Burton (R-IN)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Dicks (D-WA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Meeks (D-NY)
Smith (D-WA)
Thompson (D-MS)

... mientras que tres que votaron No el año pasado cambiaron para Sí:

Emanuel (D-IL)
Peterson (D-MN)
Renzi (R-AZ)

Hay 27 congresistas que o fueron electos por primera vez el noviembre pasado o que no tenían voto registrado respecto de la enmienda Hinchey el año pasado los cuales votaron Sí, uno de los cuales era republicano:

(La mayoría es de novatos; los diversos marcados con un asterisco fueron congresistas la vez pasada, pero no votaron en la enmienda.)

Broun (R-GA)
Christensen (D-VI)*
Cohen (D-TN)
Courtney (D-CT)
Ellison (D-MN)
Giffords (D-AZ)
Gonzalez (D-TX)*
Hare (D-IL)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hodes (D-NH)
Johnson (D-GA)
Kanjorski (D-PA)
Loebsack (D-IA)
Mitchell (D-AZ)
Murphy (D-CT)
Norton (D-DC)*
Perlmutter (D-CO)
Rodriguez (D-TX)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schakowsky (D-IL)*
Sestak (D-PA)
Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Sires (D-NJ)
Sutton (D-OH)
Walz (D-MN)
Welch (D-VT)
Yarmuth (D-KY)

45 congresistas que o fueron recién electos o no votaron en la enmienda el año pasado votaron No, inclusive 24 demócratas y 21 republicanos:

(La mayoría es de novatos; los diversos marcados fueron congresistas la vez pasada, pero no votaron en la enmienda.)

Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Bachmann (R-MN)
Bilirakis (R-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Braley (D-IA)
Buchanan (R-FL)
Cannon (R-UT)
Carney (D-PA)
Castor (D-FL)
Davis, David (R-TN)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)*
Fallin (R-OK)
Fortuno (R-PR)*
Gerlach (R-PA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hall (D-NY)
Hastert (R-IL)*
Heller (R-NV)
Hill (D-IN)
Holden (D-PA)
Johnson, Sam (R-TX)
Jordan (R-OH)
Kagen (D-WI)
Klein (D-FL)
Lamborn (R-CO)
Lampson (D-TX)
Mahoney (D-FL)
McCarthy (R-CA)
McNerney (D-CA)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Poe (R-TX)
Roskam (R-IL)
Sali (R-ID)
Shays (R-CT)*
Shuler (D-NC)
Smith (R-NE)
Souder (R-IN)*
Space (D-OH)
Stupak (D-MI)*
Taylor (D-MS)*
Walberg (R-MI)
Wilson (D-OH)

(Se sabe que por lo menos dos de estos, Souder y Hastert, siempre han sido opositores enérgicos de la marihuana medicinal.)

Dos congresistas que votaron Sí el año pasado no votaron en la enmienda este año:

Michaud (D-ME)
Stark (D-CA)

... y siete congresistas que votaron No el año pasado tampoco votaron este año:

Bachus (R-AL)
Boucher (D-VA)
Cubin (R-WY)
Davis, Jo Ann (R-VA)
LaHood (R-IL)
Marshall (D-GA)
Young (R-AK)

Reportaje: DEA allana diez dispensarios de Los Ángeles al mismo día en que Consejo Municipal le pide que se quite

En lo que parece ser la última acción en una campaña cada vez más intensa de ataques contra los dispensarios californianos de marihuana medicinal, el miércoles la DEA allanó 10 dispensarios del área de Los Ángeles, confiscando marihuana, productos hechos de marihuana, dinero y dos armas. Las redadas sucedieron al mismo día en que el Consejo Municipal de Los Ángeles presentó una ordenanza para regularizar los dispensarios en la ciudad y aprobó una resolución que convoca a las autoridades federales a parar de procesar a los proveedores de marihuana medicinal que actúan legalmente conforme a la ley californiana.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/kcal9.jpg
cobertura de la prensa local
Los allanamientos no sucedieron sin ser cuestionados, ya por funcionarios municipales, ya por activistas. Cuando los agentes de la DEA allanaron el Los Angeles Patients and Caregivers Group (LAPCG, sigla en inglés) en el Bulevar Santa Mónica, se enfrentaron a más de cien manifestantes, quienes bloquearon el acceso al edificio y cercaron los vehículos de la DEA para impedir que los allanadores se llevaran a la gente del dispensario. Cinco personas fueron arrestadas en ese incidente.

Un vocero de la DEA en Washington le dijo a la Crónica que cinco arrestos fueron hechos durante las redadas, pero parece que esos arrestos fueron de personas que tomaron parte en la desobediencia civil para protestar contra los allanamientos – no de dueños ni de empleados de los dispensarios.

“Algunas personas fueron arrestadas por desobediencia civil tras armar barricadas en la propia instalación porque los agentes federales estaban deteniendo a la gente adentro”, dijo Kris Hermes, director de comunicación del Americans for Safe Access (ASA, sigla en inglés), el grupo de defensa de la marihuana medicinal cuya rede de respuesta inmediata trae a manifestantes en respuesta a dichos allanamientos. “Contamos con por lo menos doscientas personas muy agitadas con lo que la DEA estaba haciendo y algunas de ellas decidieron obstruir a los agentes. La DEA fue impedida de poder procesar a aquellos que estaban adentro y, por eso, los pusieron en libertad”, dijo.

Los funcionarios municipales que habían presentado al mismo día una ordenanza que pedía una moratoria sobre los nuevos dispensarios en la ciudad mientras redacta normas que gobiernen su funcionamiento, pero que también le pedía a la DEA que parara de procesar a los proveedores de marihuana medicinal, también reaccionaron con enojo. El regidor municipal Dennis Zine, autor de la carta, llamó la agencia “valentones” en una rueda de prensa preprogramada que ocurrió mientras los allanamientos sucedían.

“Estoy muy perturbado que la Administración de Represión a las Drogas inicie una acción represiva contra instalaciones de marihuana medicinal en la ciudad de Los Ángeles durante una rueda de prensa respecto del apoyo del Consejo Municipal a una ordenanza de fiscalización interina para regularizar todas las instalaciones dentro de la ciudad”, dijo Zine. “Esta acción de la DEA es contraria al voto de los californianos quienes fueron abrumadoramente a favor de apoyar el consumo de marihuana medicinal de parte de aquellos que enfrentan enfermedades graves y mortales”, dijo. “La DEA necesita concentrar su atención y su acción represiva en los traficantes de drogas ilegales que están aterrorizando las comunidades en Los Ángeles”.

A pesar de las protestas nerviosas de pacientes, activistas y funcionarios electos, la DEA no se conmovió. “Se exige de la DEA que imponga la Ley de Sustancias Controladas [Controlled Substances Act]”, contestó la vocera lacónica, Rogene Waite, cuando indagada sobre la oposición que las redadas están engendrando. “No ha habido ningún cambio en nuestras políticas”, dijo ella cuando inquirida si los allanamientos hacían muestras de una nueva ofensiva.

Pero, a pesar de las protestas de la DEA, una escalada de la actividad de la DEA vuelta hacia los dispensarios parece evidente. Docenas de dispensarios han sido allanadas este año, inclusive 11 en Los Ángeles en enero. Cientos de casos de marihuana medicinal están pendientes en los tribunales federales en California. La semana pasada, la DEA y el Ministerio de la Justicia anunciaron que las incriminaciones de cuatro dependientes de dispensario, dos en el área de Los Ángeles, uno en San Luis Obispo y uno en Bakersfield. Y a principios de este mes, la DEA y el Ministerio de la Justicia revelaron una táctica nueva en su guerra contra la marihuana medicinal. Las autoridades federales en Los Ángeles enviaron una carta a docenas de caseros de dispensarios advirtiéndoles de que podían sufrir la confiscación de sus propiedades o aun acusaciones criminales si prosiguieran alquilando a dispensarios.

“Parece que la DEA está intensificando su campaña contra la marihuana medicinal”, dijo Hermes del ASA. “No hay sólo el número creciente de redadas en Los Ángeles, sino también las amenazas a los propietarios que escojan alquilar a proveedores de marihuana medicinal. Esto equivale a intimidación y es una última tentativa del gobierno federal de socavar la ley de marihuana medicinal del estado”.

“Es una escalada y muy asustadora”, dijo Bruce Mirken, director de comunicación del Marijuana Policy Project (MPP, sigla en inglés). “No pueden detener el ímpetu de la marihuana medicinal porque la verdad, el buen sentido y la decencia están con nosotros, pero, mientras tanto, pueden infligir mucho sufrimiento a mucha gente”.

Para el director de la NORML California, Dale Gieringer, los allanamientos son como los últimos movimientos de la cola de un dinosaurio moribundo. “Es una acción de resistencia de la DEA”, dijo. “Persiguieron el corazón del activismo responsable del cannabis medicinal al perseguir el grupo California Patients and Caregivers. La gente se reunía ahí para tratar responsablemente de la cuestión de los dispensarios. Esto es una ofensa a Los Ángeles y creo que la gente allí va a terminar tan enojada como ya están en Alta California”, predijo.

Con todo, dijo Gieringer, los allanamientos no detendrán los dispensarios. “Ya hay 400 de ellos por todo el estado, quizá, ¿quién sabe?” dijo. “Si la DEA está intentando suprimir los dispensarios, han llegado varios años demasiado tarde”.

La batalla entre los represores federales de las drogas y el pueblo, los pacientes y los funcionarios electos de California por la marihuana medicinal continúa. El Congreso podía haberle bajado los humos a la DEA aprobando la enmienda Hinchey-Rohrabacher, que habría cortado la financiación federal para las redadas, pero escogió no hacerlo el miércoles por la noche, justo horas después que los últimos allanamientos sucedieron. Eso significa que, al menos por el momento, le toca al pueblo de California protegerse a sí mismo.

Los defensores de la marihuana medicinal y compañeros activistas tomarán providencias para hacerlo el viernes. El ASA ha convocado manifestaciones contra los allanamientos por todo el estado el viernes por la mañana. La desobediencia civil ya ha estallado en el Bulevar Santa Mónica. Quizá haya más en el futuro.

Reportaje: Pequeños triunfos en intento de hacer que el Congreso prohíba allanamientos federales contra pacientes y proveedores de marihuana medicinal

El miércoles por la noche, la Cámara de los Diputados rechazó la enmienda Hinchey-Rohrabacher a la ley de presupuestos para Justicia-Comercio-Ciencia. La enmienda habría prohibido el Ministerio de Justicia de usar fondos federales para visar a pacientes y proveedores de marihuana medicinal en los 12 estados en que ella es legal actualmente.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/mauricehinchey.jpg
el diputado Maurice Hinchey discursa en la rueda de prensa de 2005 sobre la marihuana medicinal mientras Montel Williams aguarda su vez en el podio
La votación ocurrió pocas horas después que agentes de la DEA aumentaron las apuestas en su batalla contra la marihuana medicinal en California al allanar 10 dispensarios en el área de Los Ángeles. Y sucedió algunos días después que la DEA inauguró un nuevo frente de batalla en su guerra al enviar cartas a los caseros de los dispensarios amenazándolos de confiscación de sus propiedades o aun acusaciones criminales si siguen alquilando a dispensarios. (Vea reportaje en esta edición aquí).

La votación ocurrió tras un debate enérgico en el pleno de la Cámara. El diputado Steve Cohen (D-TN) relató una historia emotiva sobre un amigo íntimo, un SEAL (Sea, Air and Land forces, sigla en inglés) de la Marina de los EE.UU., que murió de cáncer pancreático, pero que consumió marihuana medicinal en sus meses finales para aliviar su sufrimiento. (El jueves, el diputado Cohen distribuyó un correo-e que llevaba a un ejemplar de su discurso en YouTube.)

El diputado Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), coponente de la enmienda, tocó en el mismo asunto al hablar de las muertes de su madre y hermano a causa del cáncer. “Si la marihuana les hubiera ayudado, habría sido algo horrible pensar que los agentes federales habrían venido e interferido en eso, si su médico les hubiera recomendado”, dijo.

Pero el diputado Dave Weldon (R-FL) dijo que la marihuana medicinal no pasaba de pretexto para los marihuaneros. “La mayoría de las personas que quiere consumirla quiere colocarse”, dijo. Weldon también hizo la afirmación falsa y ultrajante de que la marihuana “sí causa el cáncer. Lo he visto”.

El diputado David McNerney (D-CA), un novato y el único miembro de la delegación congresal de la Bahía de San Francisco a votar contra la medida, relacionó la marihuana medicinal con la guerra general contra las drogas. “Enfrentamos una crisis de drogas con la metanfetamina y demás consumo de drogas en alza. Hasta que logremos lidiar con el consumo de drogas lisiante en nuestra sociedad, no puedo apoyar el relajamiento de las políticas de drogas actuales”, dijo McNerney en una declaración después de la votación. “He conversado con muchos oficiales de la ley preocupados por el efecto del consumo de drogas sobre nuestras comunidades, particularmente en la Comarca de San Joaquín. El problema es real”.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/repcohen.jpg
el diputado novato Steve Cohen (D-TN) discursó a favor de la enmienda
"Esta enmienda no solamente perjudica las labores de las fuerzas de seguridad para combatir el narcotráfico, sino que pasa la idea equivocada. La marihuana es la droga de que más se abusa generalmente en los Estados Unidos”, dijo el diputado Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

La votación tuvo un resultado de 165 a 262, el “sí” más grande en los cinco años en que la enmienda ha sido propuesta. Ciento cincuenta demócratas y 15 republicanos votaron a favor de la medida, mientras que 79 demócratas y 183 republicanos votaron contra ella.

Aunque los partidarios no esperaran vencer este año, habían esperado ganar 15 ó 20 votos con relación a los 164 votos “sí” del año pasado. En vez de eso, lo ganado fue de decepcionantes dos.

El coponente de la enmienda, el diputado Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), aunque decepcionado con sus colegas, dijo que fue “incentivado” por la votación. “Para mí, es inconcebible que el gobierno federal busque no sólo negar, sino arrestar y procesar, a pacientes de marihuana medicinal que están consumiendo la droga conforme a la ley estadual para aliviar los dolores y la náusea asociadas con enfermedades debilitantes como el cáncer, el SIDA y la esclerosis múltiple”, dijo Hinchey poco después de la votación. “Lo que intentamos hacer esta noche en el pleno de la Cámara fue proteger a esos pacientes y sus médicos contra las labores injustas y deshumanas del gobierno federal para negarles el remedio que necesitan. Estoy satisfecho que la enmienda pro marihuana medicinal recibiera un nivel plusmarquista de apoyo en la Cámara y eso ayudará a construir sobre este nuevo nivel de apoyo el próximo año”.

“Seguimos progresando, pero estamos decepcionados que, con la DEA aterrorizando a pacientes californianos aun mientras la Cámara debatía, el Congreso escogió no tomar ninguna providencia”, dijo Rob Kampia, director ejecutivo del Marijuana Policy Project (MPP, sigla en inglés). “Nuevos estudios siguen demostrando los beneficios médicos de la marihuana y el apoyo del público es abrumador, pero parece que a muchos en el Congreso no les importa cuántos pacientes sufren”.

Típicamente, las encuestas de opinión sitúan el apoyo nacional a la marihuana medicinal en la casa de los 70% a 80%.

Como el número de votos “sí” está casi estático, algunos reformadores de las políticas de drogas frustrados con el desacuerdo entre Congreso y opinión pública sobre la cuestión están preguntándose si no hay otra manera. “No sé si intentar cortar la financiación de las fuerzas de seguridad es el abordaje correcto”, dijo Dale Gieringer, quien, como director de la NORML California (sigla en inglés), está directamente en el fuego cruzado o por lo menos en las cercanías. “Si queremos cambiar la ley sobre la marihuana medicinal, deberíamos cambiar la ley. Pero, lo que estoy escuchando del Congreso es que los congresistas están esperando un nuevo gobierno para mostrar un poco de liderazgo”.

“Vamos a pensar en serio sobre qué hacer a continuación”, dijo Bruce Mirken, director de comunicación del MPP. “Creíamos de veras que nos saldríamos mejor. Pese a que el público lo apoye, muchos congresistas lo tratan como si fuera radioactivo”, dijo.

“La cuestión es la siguiente: ¿Está bien este vehículo legislativo? En caso afirmativo, hay algo que no estamos percibiendo”, meditó Mirken. “¿Hay una manera más eficaz de concienciar a los congresistas sobre cómo la gente se siente en sus distritos? ¿Hay una manera de aumentar la presión sobre el Congreso? Tenemos hartas preguntas, pero no podemos fingir que tenemos las respuestas en este momento”.

Para Al Byrne, vocero del grupo de apoyo a la marihuana medicinal Patients Out of Time, la respuesta es “sí”, hay una manera más eficiente y consiste en que los activistas se hagan a aun lado y dejen que la comunidad de la medicina tome la delantera. “Hasta que esta entidad de organizaciones reformadoras pueda reagruparse y comprender que es tanto nuestro comportamiento colectivo como el de nuestros oponentes que ejercen influencia sobre los medios, no haremos progreso significativo”, discutió. “Manden la LEAP, el MPP, la DPA y la NORML otra vez para representar una cuestión médica y todo lo que recibiremos es lo mismo del Congreso y de los medios. Necesitamos elevar la discusión dejando que los médicos y las enfermeras, quienes realmente saben de lo que hablan, hablen. Entonces podemos hallar un resultado diferente”, dijo.

“Definitivamente, necesitamos más médicos y científicos concienciando a la gente”, dijo el director de asuntos nacionales y cabildero en Washington de la DPA, Bill Piper. “Está claro que algunos congresistas y sus empleados necesitan ser concienciados, pero hay muchos que simpatizan, pero tienen miedo, entonces no es sólo una cuestión de conciencia, sino también de cambiar la cultura política en una ciudad ‘rigorosa con la criminalidad’. Necesitamos un abordaje multifacético que combine concienciación, cabildeo y trabajo de base”.

Este año, los defensores de la enmienda empezaron mal, dijo Piper. “Perdimos a cerca de doce congresistas que votaron a favor de ella el año pasado, pero que ya no están en el cargo”, observó. “También hay dos distritos liberales con vacantes y Nancy Pelosi no votó como Presidenta de la Cámara, entonces empezamos con menos 15. Lo sorprendente y decepcionante es que este año perdimos a nueve demócratas que votaron a favor el año pasado”.

La clase congresal de 2006, los sedicentes Nuevos Demócratas, también fue una desilusión, dijo Piper. “Sólo logramos mitad de ellos. Muchos de ellos son de distritos que eran republicanos antes y eso puede haberlos intimidado”, dijo.

Con todo, dijo Piper, repensar la utilidad de la Hinchey vale la pena. “Hemos ganado 20 votos en cinco años y la verdad es que no queremos esperar otros cinco años”, dijo. “Al fin, el objetivo de largo plazo es cambiar la ley. Vale la pena repensar lo que estamos haciendo, pero, al fin, un proyecto de ley no va a llegar a ningún lugar sin apoyo político”.

Es cierto, dijo Paul Armentano, analista sénior de políticas de la NORML. “Entiendo la frustración de la gente con que esto siga no logrando aprobación”, dijo. “Pero también percibo que si los congresistas no están dispuestos a dar este pequeño paso, probablemente no apoyarán medidas aún más abarcadoras. Esta votación muestra que el Congreso aún es cobarde en estas cuestiones; pensar que ya es hora de la reforma general en las políticas de drogas es casi como hacerse ilusiones”.

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With the launch of our new web site, The Reformer's Calendar no longer appears as part of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter but is instead maintained as a section of our new web site:

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Analysis: Who Voted for Medical Marijuana This Time? Breakdown by Vote, Party, and Changes from '06

(In addition to the information we published Wednesday night in the Speakeasy blog, we have now identified which members not voting on Hinchey last year are newly-elected vs. which ones simply didn't vote on it.)

The Hinchey results are in, losing by a vote of 165-262. This is only a very slight improvement over last year, when we lost 163-259. Here's a summary of the key stats:

  • 165 members of Congress voted for the Hinchey medical marijuana amendment this year (150 of them Democrats), but 262 members of Congress voted against it. Ten members did not have votes recorded (plus Pelosi, for some technical reason as Speaker).
  • 78 Democrats voted against the amendment, while 15 Republicans voted for it.
  • Nine members who voted Yes on the amendment last year switched their votes to No this time (hiss), and three who voted No last year switched to Yes.
  • 27 members of Congress who are either newly-elected or did not have a vote recorded on the Hinchey amendment last year, voted Yes, only one of them Republican.
  • 45 members of Congress who are either newly-elected, or did not vote on the amendment last year, voted No, including 24 Democrats and 21 Republicans.
  • Two members of Congress who voted Yes last year did not vote on the amendment this year, and seven members who voted No last year also didn't vote this year.

Following is a detailed compilation covering all the stats listed above:

165 members of Congress voted for the Hinchey medical marijuana amendment this year:

Abercrombie (D-HI)
Ackerman (D-NY)
Allen (D-ME)
Andrews (D-NJ)
Baird (D-WA)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bartlett (R-MD)
Becerra (D-CA)
Berkley (D-NV)
Berman (D-CA)
Bishop (D-GA)
Bishop (D-NY)
Blumenauer (D-OR)
Brady (D-PA)
Broun (R-GA)
Campbell (R-CA)
Capps (D-CA)
Capuano (D-MA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carson (D-IN)
Christensen (D-VI)
Clay (D-MO)
Cleaver (D-MO)
Cohen (D-TN)
Conyers (D-MI)
Courtney (D-CT)
Crowley (D-NY)
Davis (D-CA)
Davis (D-IL)
DeFazio (D-OR)
DeGette (D-CO)
Delahunt (D-MA)
DeLauro (D-CT)
Doggett (D-TX)
Doyle (D-PA)
Ellison (D-MN)
Emanuel (D-IL)
Engel (D-NY)
Eshoo (D-CA)
Farr (D-CA)
Fattah (D-PA)
Filner (D-CA)
Flake (R-AZ)
Frank (D-MA)
Garrett (R-NJ)
Giffords (D-AZ)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Gonzalez (D-TX)
Green, Al (D-TX)
Grijalva (D-AZ)
Gutierrez (D-IL)
Hare (D-IL)
Harman (D-CA)
Hastings (D-FL)
Higgins (D-NY)
Hinchey (D-NY)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hodes (D-NH)
Holt (D-NJ)
Honda (D-CA)
Hooley (D-OR)
Hoyer (D-MD)
Inslee (D-WA)
Israel (D-NY)
Jackson (D-IL)
Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Johnson (D-GA)
Johnson (R-IL)
Johnson, E. B. (D-TX)
Jones (D-OH)
Kanjorski (D-PA)
Kaptur (D-OH)
Kennedy (D-RI)
Kildee (D-MI)
Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Kind (D-WI)
Kucinich (D-OH)
Langevin (D-RI)
Lantos (D-CA)
Larson (D-CT)
LaTourette (R-OH)
Lee (D-CA)
Lewis (D-GA)
Loebsack (D-IA)
Lofgren (D-CA)
Lowey (D-NY)
Maloney (D-NY)
Markey (D-MA)
Matsui (D-CA)
McCarthy (D-NY)
McCollum (D-MN)
McDermott (D-WA)
McGovern (D-MA)
McNulty (D-NY)
Melancon (D-LA)
Miller, George (D-CA)
Mitchell (D-AZ)
Moore (D-KS)
Moore (D-WI)
Moran (D-VA)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murtha (D-PA)
Nadler (D-NY)
Napolitano (D-CA)
Neal (D-MA)
Norton (D-DC)
Oberstar (D-MN)
Obey (D-WI)
Olver (D-MA)
Pallone (D-NJ)
Pascrell (D-NJ)
Pastor (D-AZ)
Paul (R-TX)
Payne (D-NJ)
Perlmutter (D-CO)
Peterson (D-MN)
Porter (R-NV)
Price (D-NC)
Rangel (D-NY)
Rehberg (R-MT)
Renzi (R-AZ)
Rodriguez (D-TX)
Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rothman (D-NJ)
Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Royce (R-CA)
Ruppersberger (D-MD)
Rush (D-IL)
Ryan (D-OH)
Sanchez, Linda T. (D-CA)
Sanchez, Loretta (D-CA)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schakowsky (D-IL)
Schiff (D-CA)
Scott (D-GA)
Scott (D-VA)
Serrano (D-NY)
Sestak (D-PA)
Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Sherman (D-CA)
Sires (D-NJ)
Slaughter (D-NY)
Solis (D-CA)
Sutton (D-OH)
Tancredo (R-CO)
Tauscher (D-CA)
Thompson (D-CA)
Tierney (D-MA)
Towns (D-NY)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Velazquez (D-NY)
Walz (D-MN)
Waters (D-CA)
Watson (D-CA)
Watt (D-NC)
Waxman (D-CA)
Weiner (D-NY)
Welch (D-VT)
Wexler (D-FL)
Woolsey (D-CA)
Wu (D-OR)
Wynn (D-MD)
Yarmuth (D-KY)

... but 262 members of Congress voted against it:

Aderholt (R-AL)
Akin (R-MO)
Alexander (R-LA)
Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Baca (D-CA)
Bachmann (R-MN)
Baker (R-LA)
Barrett (R-SC)
Barrow (D-GA)
Barton (R-TX)
Bean (D-IL)
Berry (D-AR)
Biggert (R-IL)
Bilbray (R-CA)
Bilirakis (R-FL)
Bishop (R-UT)
Blackburn (R-TN)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boehner (R-OH)
Bonner (R-AL)
Bono (R-CA)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boren (D-OK)
Boswell (D-IA)
Boustany (R-LA)
Boyd (D-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Bradley (R-NH)
Brady (R-TX)
Braley (D-IA)
Brown (D-FL)
Brown (R-SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny (R-FL)
Buchanan (R-FL)
Burgess (R-TX)
Burton (R-IN)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Buyer (R-IN)
Calvert (R-CA)
Camp (R-MI)
Cannon (R-UT)
Cantor (R-VA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardoza (D-CA)
Carney (D-PA)
Carter (R-TX)
Castle (R-DE)
Castor (D-FL)
Chabot (R-OH)
Chandler (D-KY)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Coble (R-NC)
Cole (R-OK)
Conaway (R-TX)
Cooper (D-TN)
Costa (D-CA)
Costello (D-IL)
Cramer (D-AL)
Crenshaw (R-FL)
Cuellar (D-TX)
Culberson (R-TX)
Cummings (D-MD)
Davis (D-AL)
Davis (D-TN)
Davis (R-KY)
Davis, David (R-TN)
Davis, Tom (R-VA)
Deal (R-GA)
Dent (R-PA)
Diaz-Balart, L. (R-FL)
Diaz-Balart, M. (R-FL)
Dicks (D-WA)
Dingell (D-MI)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Doolittle (R-CA)
Drake (R-VA)
Dreier (R-CA)
Duncan (R-TN)
Edwards (D-TX)
Ehlers (R-MI)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Emerson (R-MO)
English (R-PA)
Etheridge (D-NC)
Everett (R-AL)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)
Fallin (R-OK)
Feeney (R-FL)
Ferguson (R-NJ)
Forbes (R-VA)
Fortenberry (R-NE)
Fortuno (R-PR)
Fossella (R-NY)
Foxx (R-NC)
Franks (R-AZ)
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Gallegly (R-CA)
Gerlach (R-PA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gillmor (R-OH)
Gingrey (R-GA)
Gohmert (R-TX)
Goode (R-VA)
Goodlatte (R-VA)
Gordon (D-TN)
Granger (R-TX)
Graves (R-MO)
Green, Gene (D-TX)
Hall (D-NY)
Hall (R-TX)
Hastert (R-IL)
Hastings (R-WA)
Hayes (R-NC)
Heller (R-NV)
Hensarling (R-TX)
Herger (R-CA)
Herseth (D-SD)
Hill (D-IN)
Hinojosa (D-TX)
Hobson (R-OH)
Hoekstra (R-MI)
Holden (D-PA)
Hulshof (R-MO)
Hunter (R-CA)
Inglis (R-SC)
Issa (R-CA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Jindal (R-LA)
Johnson, Sam (R-TX)
Jones (R-NC)
Jordan (R-OH)
Kagen (D-WI)
Keller (R-FL)
King (R-IA)
King (R-NY)
Kingston (R-GA)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klein (D-FL)
Kline (R-MN)
Knollenberg (R-MI)
Kuhl (R-NY)
Lamborn (R-CO)
Lampson (D-TX)
Larsen (D-WA)
Latham (R-IA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lewis (R-CA)
Lewis (R-KY)
Linder (R-GA)
Lipinski (D-IL)
LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Lucas (R-OK)
Lungren (R-CA)
Lynch (D-MA)
Mack (R-FL)
Mahoney (D-FL)
Manzullo (R-IL)
Marchant (R-TX)
Matheson (D-UT)
McCarthy (R-CA)
McCaul (R-TX)
McCotter (R-MI)
McCrery (R-LA)
McHenry (R-NC)
McHugh (R-NY)
McIntyre (D-NC)
McKeon (R-CA)
McMorris (R-WA)
McNerney (D-CA)
Meek (D-FL)
Meeks (D-NY)
Mica (R-FL)
Miller (D-NC)
Miller (R-FL)
Miller (R-MI)
Miller, Gary (R-CA)
Mollohan (D-WV)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (R-PA)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Musgrave (R-CO)
Myrick (R-NC)
Neugebauer (R-TX)
Nunes (R-CA)
Ortiz (D-TX)
Pearce (R-NM)
Pence (R-IN)
Peterson (R-PA)
Petri (R-WI)
Pickering (R-MS)
Pitts (R-PA)
Platts (R-PA)
Poe (R-TX)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Price (R-GA)
Pryce (R-OH)
Putnam (R-FL)
Radanovich (R-CA)
Rahall (D-WV)
Ramstad (R-MN)
Regula (R-OH)
Reichert (R-WA)
Reyes (D-TX)
Reynolds (R-NY)
Rogers (R-AL)
Rogers (R-KY)
Rogers (R-MI)
Roskam (R-IL)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Ross (D-AR)
Ryan (R-WI)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sali (R-ID)
Saxton (R-NJ)
Schmidt (R-OH)
Schwartz (D-PA)
Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Sessions (R-TX)
Shadegg (R-AZ)
Shays (R-CT)
Shimkus (R-IL)
Shuler (D-NC)
Shuster (R-PA)
Simpson (R-ID)
Skelton (D-MO)
Smith (D-WA)
Smith (R-NE)
Smith (R-NJ)
Smith (R-TX)
Snyder (D-AR)
Souder (R-IN)
Space (D-OH)
Spratt (D-SC)
Stearns (R-FL)
Stupak (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-OK)
Tanner (D-TN)
Taylor (D-MS)
Terry (R-NE)
Thompson (D-MS)
Thornberry (R-TX)
Tiahrt (R-KS)
Tiberi (R-OH)
Turner (R-OH)
Upton (R-MI)
Visclosky (D-IN)
Walberg (R-MI)
Walden (R-OR)
Walsh (R-NY)
Wamp (R-TN)
Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Weldon (R-FL)
Weller (R-IL)
Westmoreland (R-GA)
Whitfield (R-KY)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wilson (D-OH)
Wilson (R-NM)
Wilson (R-SC)
Wolf (R-VA)
Young (R-FL)

10 members did not have votes recorded (plus Pelosi, for some technical reason as Speaker):

Bachus (R-AL)
Boucher (D-VA)
Clarke (D-NY)
Cubin (R-WY)
Davis, Jo Ann (R-VA)
LaHood (R-IL)
Marshall (D-GA)
Michaud (D-ME)
Stark (D-CA)
Young (R-AK)

78 Democrats voted against the amendment:

Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Baca (D-CA)
Barrow (D-GA)
Bean (D-IL)
Berry (D-AR)
Boren (D-OK)
Boswell (D-IA)
Boyd (D-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Braley (D-IA)
Brown (D-FL)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Cardoza (D-CA)
Carney (D-PA)
Castor (D-FL)
Chandler (D-KY)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Cooper (D-TN)
Costa (D-CA)
Costello (D-IL)
Cramer (D-AL)
Cuellar (D-TX)
Cummings (D-MD)
Davis (D-AL)
Davis (D-TN)
Dicks (D-WA)
Dingell (D-MI)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Edwards (D-TX)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Etheridge (D-NC)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gordon (D-TN)
Green, Gene (D-TX)
Hall (D-NY)
Herseth (D-SD)
Hill (D-IN)
Hinojosa (D-TX)
Holden (D-PA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Kagen (D-WI)
Klein (D-FL)
Lampson (D-TX)
Larsen (D-WA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lipinski (D-IL)
Lynch (D-MA)
Mahoney (D-FL)
Matheson (D-UT)
McIntyre (D-NC)
McNerney (D-CA)
Meek (D-FL)
Meeks (D-NY)
Miller (D-NC)
Mollohan (D-WV)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Ortiz (D-TX)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Rahall (D-WV)
Reyes (D-TX)
Ross (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Schwartz (D-PA)
Shuler (D-NC)
Skelton (D-MO)
Smith (D-WA)
Snyder (D-AR)
Space (D-OH)
Spratt (D-SC)
Stupak (D-MI)
Tanner (D-TN)
Taylor (D-MS)
Thompson (D-MS)
Visclosky (D-IN)
Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Wilson (D-OH)

... while 15 Republicans voted for it:

Bartlett (R-MD)
Broun (R-GA)
Campbell (R-CA)
Flake (R-AZ)
Garrett (R-NJ)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Johnson (R-IL)
LaTourette (R-OH)
Paul (R-TX)
Porter (R-NV)
Rehberg (R-MT)
Renzi (R-AZ)
Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Royce (R-CA)
Tancredo (R-CO)

Nine members who voted Yes on the amendment last year switched their votes to No this time (hiss):

Brown (D-FL)
Burton (R-IN)
Butterfield (D-NC)
Clyburn (D-SC)
Dicks (D-WA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
Meeks (D-NY)
Smith (D-WA)
Thompson (D-MS)

... while three who voted No last year switched to Yes:

Emanuel (D-IL)
Peterson (D-MN)
Renzi (R-AZ)

There are 27 members of Congress who were either elected for the first time last November, or did not have a vote recorded on the Hinchey amendment last year, who voted Yes, only one of them Republican:

(Most are freshmen; the several marked with an asterisk were members of Congress last time but did not vote on the amendment.)

Broun (R-GA)
Christensen (D-VI)*
Cohen (D-TN)
Courtney (D-CT)
Ellison (D-MN)
Giffords (D-AZ)
Gonzalez (D-TX)*
Hare (D-IL)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hodes (D-NH)
Johnson (D-GA)
Kanjorski (D-PA)
Loebsack (D-IA)
Mitchell (D-AZ)
Murphy (D-CT)
Norton (D-DC)*
Perlmutter (D-CO)
Rodriguez (D-TX)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schakowsky (D-IL)*
Sestak (D-PA)
Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Sires (D-NJ)
Sutton (D-OH)
Walz (D-MN)
Welch (D-VT)
Yarmuth (D-KY)

45 members of Congress who are either newly-elected, or did not vote on the amendment last year, voted No, including 24 Democrats and 21 Republicans:

(Most are freshmen; the several marked with an asterisk were members of Congress last time but did not vote on the amendment.)

Altmire (D-PA)
Arcuri (D-NY)
Bachmann (R-MN)
Bilirakis (R-FL)
Boyda (D-KS)
Braley (D-IA)
Buchanan (R-FL)
Cannon (R-UT)
Carney (D-PA)
Castor (D-FL)
Davis, David (R-TN)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Ellsworth (D-IN)
Faleomavaega (D-AS)*
Fallin (R-OK)
Fortuno (R-PR)*
Gerlach (R-PA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hall (D-NY)
Hastert (R-IL)*
Heller (R-NV)
Hill (D-IN)
Holden (D-PA)
Johnson, Sam (R-TX)
Jordan (R-OH)
Kagen (D-WI)
Klein (D-FL)
Lamborn (R-CO)
Lampson (D-TX)
Mahoney (D-FL)
McCarthy (R-CA)
McNerney (D-CA)
Murphy, Patrick (D-PA)
Poe (R-TX)
Roskam (R-IL)
Sali (R-ID)
Shays (R-CT)*
Shuler (D-NC)
Smith (R-NE)
Souder (R-IN)*
Space (D-OH)
Stupak (D-MI)*
Taylor (D-MS)*
Walberg (R-MI)
Wilson (D-OH)

(At least two of these, Souder & Hastert, are known to be have always been strong opponents of medical marijuana.)

Two members of Congress who voted Yes last year did not vote on the amendment this year:

Michaud (D-ME)
Stark (D-CA)

... and seven members who voted No last year also didn't vote this year:

Bachus (R-AL)
Boucher (D-VA)
Cubin (R-WY)
Davis, Jo Ann (R-VA)
LaHood (R-IL)
Marshall (D-GA)
Young (R-AK)

Weekly: This Week in History

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August 2, 1937: The Marijuana Tax Act is passed by Congress, enacting marijuana prohibition at the federal level for the first time. Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger tells the Congressmen at the hearings, "Marihuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death."

August 2, 1977: In a speech to Congress, Jimmy Carter addresses the harm done by prohibition, saying, "Penalties against a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana for personal use. The National Commission on Marijuana... concluded years ago that marijuana should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations."

July 29, 1995: In an interview with the editors of the Charlotte Observer, Pat Buchanan says he favors measures that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for relief from certain conditions. "If a doctor indicated to his patient that this was the only way to alleviate certain painful symptoms, I would defer to the doctor's judgment," he says.

July 29, 1997: A large number of Los Angeles sheriff's deputies swarm into the home of author and medical marijuana patient Peter McWilliams and well-known medical marijuana activist Todd McCormick, a medical marijuana user and grower who had cancer ten times as a child and suffers from chronic pain as the result of having the vertebrae in his neck fused in childhood surgery. McCormick ultimately serves a five-year sentence, while McWilliams chokes to death on his own vomit in 2000 after being denied medical marijuana by a federal judge.

July 27, 2000: Referring to one of drug czar Barry McCaffrey's tired lines, Salon.com publishes "Fighting 'Cheech and Chong' Medicine," an article showing that the entire genesis of the government's new media campaign, the motivation for making the Partnership for Drug Free America's donated ad time and making it a billion dollars worth of taxpayer funds, was a direct response to the passage of medical marijuana initiatives in California and Arizona in 1996.

July 31, 2000: In Canada, Ontario's top court rules unanimously (3-0) that Canada's law making marijuana possession a crime is unconstitutional because it does not take into account the needs of Canadian medical marijuana patients. The judges allow the current law to remain in effect for another 12 months, to permit Parliament to rewrite it, but says that if the Canadian federal government fails to set up a medical marijuana distribution program by July 31, 2001, all marijuana laws in Canada will be struck down.

August 1, 2000: The first Shadow Convention convenes in Philadelphia, PA, with the drug war being one of the gathering's three main themes.

July 27, 2002: The Associated Press reports that a regional director of Mexico's main intelligence agency was slain in the border city of Tijuana, the 11th person killed over the last week in what authorities say is an escalating drug war.

July 30, 2002: ABC airs John Stossel's special report, "War on Drugs, A War on Ourselves," which critically points out the futility of the government's current approach to drug control policy.

July 28, 2003: James Geddes, originally sentenced to 150 years for possession of a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia and for growing five marijuana plants, is released. Geddes had said, "How can it be that the President, his wife, the Vice President and his wife, the mayor of Washington DC, even the Speaker of the House can do these things, but I must pay dearly?"

July 31, 2003: Karen P. Tandy is confirmed by unanimous consent in the US Senate as Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Tandy was serving in the Department of Justice (DOJ) as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. She previously served in DOJ as Chief of Litigation in the Asset Forfeiture Office and Deputy Chief for Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and she prosecuted drug, money laundering, and forfeiture cases as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia and in the Western District of Washington.

August 1, 2004: The Observer (UK) reports that the US blames Britain's 'lack of urgency' for its failure to arrest the booming opium trade in Afghanistan, exposing a schism between the allies as the country trembles on the brink of anarchy.

Europe: Dutch Police Grumble About Home Grows

Dutch police are publicly grumbling that marijuana policies which turn a blind eye to people growing five plants or fewer should be toughened, and so should those that target commercial growers. While growing marijuana plants is technically illegal in Holland, prosecutors routinely ignore grows of fewer than five plants, just as they ignore possession of up to five grams.

But a police spokesman quoted in the Amsterdam newspaper Volkskrant thinks small time growers are growing for profit. They can make up to $5,000 a year on five plants, complained Detective Ben Janssen.

Commercial growers are also getting off too easy, Janssen said. "At the moment they get community service of 60 to 80 hours. There should be a clear signal that (marijuana production) is unacceptable," he said.

Dutch police bust about 8,000 commercial grows a year, according to figures published in the Telegraaf.

Commercial marijuana growers supply Holland's famous marijuana coffee houses, but the Dutch government refuses to regularize that component of the domestic marijuana business out of fear of running afoul of international treaty obligations. Dutch growers and activists call it the "back door problem," since the marijuana sold in the coffee shops can leave out the front door with a wink and a nod from the authorities, but the marijuana being supplied must come in the back door, leaving growers and coffee shops stuck in a grey market.

Janssen also called for a crackdown on grow shops, where seeds, lights, fertilizers, and other marijuana growing equipment is sold. "They are the way in for organized marijuana growing," he said.

There is little to suggest an imminent crackdown on home pot growers by the Dutch authorities, but the public complaining by police is a clear indication the Dutch marijuana business cannot let down its guard.

Australia: National Green Party Abandons Drug Legalization Position

The Australian Green Party has taken another step back from positions adopted earlier this decade calling for the regulated distribution of marijuana and other "social drugs," such as ecstasy. For the first time, the party has made its opposition to drug legalization part of its drug policy platform.

Just to make the party's retreat crystal clear, the opposition to legalization is the first item in the Green drug policy platform: "The Australian Greens do not support the legalization of currently illegal drugs," the plank bluntly states.

The Green Platform prior to the 2004 national elections was quite different. It called for "the controlled availability of cannabis at appropriate venues" and "investigations of options for the regulated supply of social drugs such as Ecstasy in controlled environments." But under the direction of current party leader Sen. Bob Brown, the Greens in January 2006 removed any reference to marijuana or other soft drug legalization from the platform, instead calling for the formation of a national drug policy institute.

The retreat comes in the run-up to parliamentary elections this year and the context of a political reaction to the limited drug policy reforms adopted by various states, hyperbolic scare campaigns about marijuana potency and its links to mental illness, and high rates of methamphetamine and ecstasy use. The Greens in particular were hammered hard as "drug legalizers" in 2004 by the governing Liberals, as well as by social conservative parties like Family First, and may be hoping to appear more palatable to the opposition Labor Party.

Sen. Brown said as much in announcing the policy shift Saturday. "It doesn't leave the Greens open to misinterpretation from Family First and Pauline Hanson," he said. "It maintains our concern that while drug dealers should be dealt with under the penal code, the victims should be helped."

Brown said the party had relied on the best expert drug advice for its change of policy. "It has honed our policy and brought it more up to date with world's best practice," he said.

Currently, the Greens hold four Senate seats (out of 76), obtained with 7.7% of the vote, which, under Australia's system of proportional representation, allows them a chair at the table. Although the Greens captured 7.2% of the vote for House members, they won no seats. They are competing in every constituency in the country in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Still, while the Greens have clearly shifted the public emphasis of their drug policy -- they also call for crackdowns on drug sellers -- the meat of the Green drug policy platform is far superior to anything adopted by the major Australian parties, or the major parties in the US, for that matter. The second plank in the platform is a call for harm reduction, the fifth calls for a public health approach, and the sixth says people should not be imprisoned for drug use alone.

Southeast Asia: Singapore Gives Treatment Option to Marijuana, Cocaine Users

Beginning August 1, marijuana and cocaine users caught in Singapore will face mandatory treatment at Drug Rehabilitation Centers, the Central Narcotics Bureau announced Wednesday. That means cocaine snorters and pot smokers will be given the same shot at "rehabilitation" as other drug users in the Southeast Asian city-state. Previously, marijuana and cocaine users were not eligible for treatment and faced stiff prison sentences.

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Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau logo
But they better get it right the first time. People who undergo treatment and relapse and get arrested again will face a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence and three strokes of the cane. Third offenders are looking at seven years and six strokes of the cane.

People who undergo "rehabilitation" and suffer relapses face a mandatory minimum seven-year prison sentence, as well as between six and 12 strokes of the cane.

Singapore has some of the world's toughest drug trafficking laws, and its Misuse of Drugs Act includes the death penalty for some drug offenses, including the trafficking of more than 660 grams (slightly more than one pound) of marijuana. Now, it will also have some of the world's harshest marijuana law enforcement directed at users.

Europe: British Cabinet Full of Former Marijuana Users

In the week since new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that his government will consider rescheduling marijuana from a Class C (less serious) to a Class B (more serious) drug, nine members of his cabinet have admitted smoking weed. The announcements are likely to both embarrass the Brown government and open it to charges of hypocrisy if it moves to make marijuana use, possession, and sale subject to harsher penalties.

Marijuana was down-scheduled to Class C in January 2004 under the Tony Blair government, but the move has been controversial from the beginning and is even more so today with much of the British media and political class seemingly in the grip of cannabis psychosis.

The Brown government has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to investigate if marijuana is now so much stronger than before and the links between it and mental illness are so strong that it should be moved back to Class B. Less than two years ago, the ACMD investigated the same question and decided marijuana should stay where it was.

The cascade of dope-smoking admissions began in the middle of last week when Home Minister Jacqui Smith, whose office is in charge of the rescheduling review, admitted that she had smoked pot while an Oxford University student in the 1980s.

"I did break the law... I was wrong... drugs are wrong," she said in what is the now obligatory mea culpa and ritual abasement that must accompany any admission of drug use by prominent politicians. She did not say whether she thought she would have been better served by being hit with the harsher penalties once again facing marijuana users if the drug is rescheduled.

Smith was only the first of seven current cabinet members to admit past marijuana use last week. The others were Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Transportation Secretary Ruth Kelly, Business Secretary John Hutton, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andy Burnham, Skills Secretary John Denham, and Deputy Labor Leader Harriet Harman. Two other cabinet members, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears had previously admitted to past pot smoking.

Deputy Labor Leader Harman was typical of her fellow pot-smoking cabinet members, all of whom said their use was experimental and long past. When asked if she, too, had indulged, she replied: "I did, when I was at university, smoke cannabis once or twice." But since then, she's gone straight, she said: "I have indulged in the odd glass of wine but not cannabis."

The opposition Conservatives have forsaken the opportunity to jump the Labor government over the issue, most likely because many members of the Tory shadow government have also admitted past marijuana use. Current Conservative leader David Cameron has repeatedly refused to say whether he used drugs before becoming a public figure, despite persistent rumors that he did more than smoke a little weed in the past.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Michigan narc is accused of making off with a whole bunch of blow, an Alabama juvenile probation officer is accused of snitching for the bad guys, a Massachusetts trooper takes a plea in a pain pill ring, and a Missouri cop goes to prison for ripping off drug couriers. Let's get to it:

In Detroit, a Detroit narcotics officer was suspended July 19 for allegedly stealing 13.2 pounds (six kilograms) of uncut cocaine from the department's evidence room. Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings did not identify the officer, saying he had not yet been charged with a crime, but she did say he had access to the evidence room and was suspected of replacing the coke with another substance. The stolen dope was valued at $2.4 million, she added.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a juvenile court probation officer is accused of taking bribes in exchange for tip-offs on police activities. Fayette County Juvenile Court Probation Officer Denny Driver, 37, was charged with one count of bribery Tuesday. Officials were tight-lipped about what Driver allegedly told to whom, but he was arrested after an investigation by Fayette County Sheriff Rodney Ingle, Fayette Police Investigator Ronald Stough and Drug Task Force agent Mark Allison. Driver has now been fired and awaits an August 13 preliminary hearing.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a state trooper pleaded not guilty July 19 to charges related to his role in an Oxycontin ring. Trooper Mark Lemieux, 49, a former member of the Bristol County District Attorney's Drug Task Force, is accused of conspiring with his ex-partner in the state police, his live-in girlfriend, and a hired gun to distribute the popular pain reliever from June 2006 to May 2007. He was a task force member from 2002 until December 2006. Lemieux and crew went down after a supplier they had contacted got busted and agreed to wear a wire. Charging documents say police have Lemieux twice picking up money from the dealer while in uniform and in an unmarked police car.

In St. Louis, a former suburban St. Louis police sergeant got four years in federal prison July 20 for his role in a cocaine conspiracy. Former Hillsdale Sgt. Christopher Cornell, 45, was indicted along with five other St. Louis-area men is what prosecutors called a conspiracy to distribute cocaine throughout the metropolitan area. Members of the group confessed to plotting to rip-off low-level drug runners by arranging for shipments to pass through Hillsdale, where Cornell would pull them over and take their drugs. He copped to one count of use of a communication device to facilitate a felony.

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, 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!

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Speakeasy photo, with flappers (courtesy arbizu.org)

This week:

Scott Morgan brings us "ONDCP's 'Cocaine Shortage' Announcement is Pure Fiction," "Rumors of a DEA Blog Prompt Curiosity & Concern" and "Even Anti-Meth Activists Oppose the Drug War."

David Borden does analysis of Wednesday night's medical marijuana vote, and prints a "Letter from a Would-Be Medical Marijuana Patient."

David Guard has been busy too, posting a plethora of press releases, action alerts, job listings and other interesting items reposted from many allied organizations around the world in our "In the Trenches" activist feed.

Join our Reader Blogs here.

Thanks for reading, and writing...

First Amendment: Freaked Out Feds Indict Pair for Posting Flyers Naming Snitch

A federal grand jury in Philadelphia Tuesday indicted two people, an accused drug dealer and his girlfriend, for passing out flyers naming a confidential informant in his federal drug case as a snitch. No law protects informants from having their identities made public, but federal prosecutors pushed -- and succeeded -- in this case for an indictment on witness intimidation and conspiracy charges.

The information on the flyers came from the Who's A Rat? web site, which lists information on more than 4,300 informants and 400 undercover officers. US Attorney Patrick Meehan called the web site "the new enemy" of law enforcement and its snitches.

"It's a by-product of the stop-snitching culture that we should all find deeply disturbing," Meehan said at a news conference, and "has the potential to compromise countless prosecutions across the country."

Meehan conceded the web site is protected by the First Amendment, but decided to indict the pair anyway for trying to intimidate witnesses.

The two are Joseph Davis, currently serving a 17-year sentence for PCP trafficking, thanks in part to the informant targeted in the flyers, and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Adero Miwo. Davis and the informant were both indicted in the PCP case, and the informant, known as "D.S." turned state's evidence and testified against Davis.

Davis and Miwo allegedly then distributed flyers naming D.S. as a snitch on windshields, utility poles, and mailboxes in the West Philadelphia neighborhood where he lived. Relying on information posted on Who's A Rat, the pair produced flyers accusing him of informing and showing his photo, along with the following comment: "This guy is a drunk, and heavy weed smoker, and a recognized car thief among his peers. He is the one who needs to be taken off the streets," according to court documents.

Davis, who is already behind bars, faces up to another 10 years in prison, while Miwo faces up to three years.

Law enforcement authorities across the US have complained loudly that the "stop snitching" movement that has spread around the country is preventing them from solving crimes. Who's a Rat isn't helping, they complain.

Such web sites show a "profound lack of respect" for the legal system, complained JP Weis, head of the Philadelphia FBI office. "The warped message" on city streets, he said, "is that it's somehow worse to provide information about a crime than it is to actually commit a crime." And that, Weis said, is "mind-boggling."

Neither Weis nor Meehan addressed why there is a "profound lack of respect" for the legal system or what role the drug war, much of it built around coercing people into becoming informants, has to do with the situation.

Who's a Rat spokesman Chris Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the web site posts public information submitted by others and is protected by the First Amendment. Brown said he "can't believe that someone got indicted for hanging a flyer" and that such publicity only "makes the site that much more popular."

Memorial: San Francisco Drug War Activist Virginia Resner

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Long-time San Francisco drug policy, medical marijuana, and human rights activist Virginia Resner died July 18 in her home town following a lengthy struggle with breast cancer. She was 60 years old.

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Virginia Resner (second from left) receiving Randall Award, with Nora Callahan, Randy Credico, Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad (courtesy hr95.org)
The daughter of a labor attorney, whom she credited with inspiring her activism and devotion to justice, Resner joined the drug reform cause in the early 1990s after being exposed first-hand to its ravages. One day in 1991, Resner came home from work to find federal agents searching her home for evidence to use against her companion, Steven Faulkner, who had been involved in a plan to sell drugs. Faulkner ended up with a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence as a first-time, nonviolent drug offender, and Resner's career as an activist was off and running.

Tormented by the plight of women and families torn apart by harsh drug war practices, Resner became the California state director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In that position, she played a key role in the effort to obtain presidential clemency for Amy Pofahl, who had served nine years of a 24-year sentence for a drug trafficking offense. Pofahl was granted clemency by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Resner also joined up with East Bay marijuana activists Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad in creating the traveling "Human Rights and the Drug War" exhibit, which featured photos of various drug war prisoners, their families, and information about their cases. That effort eventually produced a book, coauthored by Resner, Norris, and Conrad, "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War."

Resner received the 2001 Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Alliance for her efforts on the book.

Most recently, Resner was president of Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she was intimately involved in the legal struggles of "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal. Despite her struggles with cancer, she managed to attend his court hearings and handle administrative items for his defense.

She will be missed.

Criminal Justice: Green Party Leaders Call For Radical Reforms

While Republicans generally continue the "tough on crime" hard line that has served them so well for decades and Democrats can barely be bothered to vote against DEA raids on medical marijuana providers, the US Green Party is calling for radical reforms in the criminal justice system to slow the mass incarceration juggernaut and undo biases against blacks, Hispanics, and the poor.

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Cliff Thornton on the campaign trail
Green leaders this week called the US's status as world leader in incarceration -- in both percentage terms and real numbers -- a "shame on America" and expressed alarm at the systematic racial bias in the American criminal justice system. While they used the case of the "Jena Six" -- six black high school students from Jena, Louisiana, now charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard brawl in which no white students were charged -- as a hook, the Greens quickly honed in on the broader issues of criminal justice fairness and the drug war.

"The case of the Jena Six is emblematic of how people of color in the US face prosecution and sentencing," said Clifford Thornton, , Green candidate for governor of Connecticut in 2006 and cofounder of the drug reform group Efficacy. "The Jena Six prosecution is one of the more blatant and scandalous examples of how our justice system regularly criminalizes black and brown people -- especially children."

The Greens also cited a recent Sentencing Project study that found severe racial and ethnic disparities in how people are treated by the criminal justice system. The report found that blacks are imprisoned at a rate more than five times that of whites and Hispanics are imprisoned at a rate nearly double that of whites.

Green leaders listed several urgent measures to overhaul the justice system:

  • Federal monitoring of prosecutorial practices and sentencing patterns in all jurisdictions where such disparities are evident, in accord with civil rights laws.
  • Cancellation of the war on drugs, which Greens have called "a war on youth and people of color." The party notes that: "According to the DEA, FBI, Department of Justice, police agencies, and numerous public interest groups and researchers, 72% of all illegal drug users and most of those involved in the drug trade are white, while African-Americans make up only 13% of all illegal drug users and a tiny percentage of drug importers. Despite these numbers, the overwhelming percentage of those incarcerated for drugs are black."
  • Abolition of the death penalty.
  • Repeal of zero tolerance and mandatory sentencing statutes, which enlarge the power of prosecutors and erode judicial discretion.
  • An end to abuses of the plea-bargaining system, which have resulted in the imprisonment of innocent people who lack the financial resources to defend themselves sufficiently in court.
  • An end to the privatization of the prison system, which creates economic incentives to put more people behind bars, since corporate prison owners and contractors increase their profits when more cells are filled up. Greens have drawn links between privatized prisons and draconian drug laws, the targeting of poor people and people of color for prosecution, mandatory and severe sentencing, high death penalty rates in some states, and other policies.

Does your party have these platform planks? Why not?

Feature: Minor Gains in Bid to Get Congress to Block Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Patients, Providers

The House of Representatives Wednesday night voted down the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment to the Justice-Commerce-Science appropriations bill. The amendment would have barred the Justice Department from using federal funds to target medical marijuana patients and providers in the 12 states where it is currently legal.

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Rep. Maurice Hinchey addresses 2005 medical marijuana press conference as Montel Williams awaits his turn at the podium
The vote came only hours after DEA agents upped the ante in its battle against medical marijuana in California by raiding 10 dispensaries in the Los Angeles area. And it came only a few days after the DEA opened a new battlefront in its war by sending letters to dispensary landlords threatening them with seizure of their properties or even criminal charges if they continue to rent to dispensaries. (See feature story this issue here).

The vote also came after spirited debate on the House floor. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) related an emotional story about a close friend, a Navy SEAL, who died of pancreatic cancer, but used medical marijuana in his final months to ease his suffering. (Rep. Cohen distributed an email Thursday linking to a YouTube copy of his speech.)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a cosponsor of the amendment, hit a similar note talking about the cancer deaths of his mother and brother. "If marijuana would have helped them, it would have been a horrible thing to think that federal agents would have come in and interfered with that, if their doctor had recommended it," he said.

But Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) said medical marijuana was no more than a stalking horse for potheads. "Most people who want to use it want to get high," he said. Weldon also made the false and outrageous claim that marijuana "does cause cancer. I've seen it."

Rep. David McNerney (D-CA), a freshman member and the only member of the Bay Area congressional delegation to vote against the measure linked medical marijuana to the broader war on drugs. "We are facing a drug crisis with meth and other drug use on the rise. Until we get a handle on the crippling drug use in our society, I cannot support the relaxation of current drug policy,'' McNerney said in a statement after the vote. "I have spoken to many law enforcement officials concerned about the effect of drug use on our communities, particularly in San Joaquin County. The problem is real."

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Freshmen Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) spoke in support of the amendment.
"Not only does this amendment hurt law enforcement's efforts to combat drug trafficking, but it sends the wrong message. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the United States,'' said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

The vote was 165-262, the largest "yes" vote in the five years the amendment has been offered. One hundred fifty Democrats and 15 Republicans voted for the measure, while 79 Democrats and 183 Republicans voted against it.

While supporters did not expect to win this year, they had hoped to gain 15 or 20 votes over last year's 164 "yes" votes. Instead, the gained was a disappointing two.

The amendment's cosponsor, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), while disappointed in his colleagues, said he was "encouraged" by the vote. "It is unconscionable to me that the federal government would seek to not only deny, but arrest and prosecute, medical marijuana patients who are using the drug in accordance with state law to relieve pain and nausea associated with debilitating illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis," Hinchey said shortly after the vote. "What we tried to do on the House floor tonight was protect those patients and their doctors from unfair and inhumane efforts by the federal government to deny them the medicine they need. I am pleased that the medical marijuana amendment received a record level of support in the House and will help build upon this new level of support next year."

"We continue to make progress, but we are disappointed that with the DEA terrorizing California patients even as the House debated, Congress chose not to act," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "New studies continue to demonstrate marijuana's medical benefits, and public support is overwhelming, but many in Congress seem not to care how many patients suffer."

Opinion polls typically put nationwide support for medical marijuana in the 70% to 80% range.

With the number of "yes" votes nearly static, some drug reformers frustrated by the disconnect between Congress and public opinion on the issue are wondering if there isn't a better way. "I don't know that trying to shut off funding to law enforcement is the correct approach," said Dale Gieringer, who, as head of California NORML, is directly in the cross-fire, or at least the neighborhood. "If we want to change the medical marijuana law, we should change the law. But what I'm hearing from Congress is that members are waiting for a new administration to show some leadership."

"We're going to be doing some serious thinking about what we do next," said Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications. "We really thought we would do better. Although the public supports this, many members of Congress treat it as if it were radioactive," he said.

"The question is: Is this the right legislative vehicle? If so, there's something we're missing," Mirken mused. "Is there a more effective way to educate members about how people in their districts feel? Is there a way of turning up the heat on Congress? We have lots of questions, but we can't pretend we have the answers at this point."

For Al Byrne, spokesman for the medical marijuana group Patients Out of Time, the answer is "yes," there is a more effective way, and that's for the activists to step aside and let the medical community take the lead. "Until this body of reform organizations can regroup and understand that it is our collective behavior as well as that of our opponents that influences politicians and the media, we will not make significant progress," he argued. "Send LEAP, MPP, DPA, and NORML out again to represent a medical issue and all we'll get is more of the same from Congress and the media. We need to elevate the discussion by letting the doctors and nurses who actually know what they're talking about speak. Then we may find a different outcome," he said.

"We definitely need more doctors and scientists educating people," said DPA director of national affairs and Washington lobbyist Bill Piper. "Clearly, some members and their staffs need to be educated, but there are a lot who are sympathetic, but afraid, so it's not just a matter of education, it's also about changing the political culture in a 'tough on crime' town. What we need is a multi-pronged approach combining education, lobbying, and grassroots work."

This year, amendment supporters started out in a hole, Piper said. "We lost about a dozen members who voted for it last year, but are no longer in office," he noted. "There are also two liberal districts with vacancies, and Nancy Pelosi didn't vote as Speaker of the House, so we started out down 15. What was surprising and disappointing is that this year we lost nine Democrats who voted for it last year."

The congressional class of 2006, the so-called New Democrats, were also a disappointment, Piper said. "We only got half of them. Many of them are from districts that were previously Republican, and that may have had them running scared," he said.

Still, said Piper, rethinking the utility of Hinchey is worth doing. "We've gained 20 votes in five years and we don't really want to wait another five years," he said. "Ultimately, the long-term objective is to change the law. It is worth rethinking what we're doing, but ultimately, a bill isn't going to go anywhere without political support."

That's right, said Paul Armentano, senior policy analyst for national NORML. "I understand people's frustration that this continues to fall well short of passage," he said. "But I also realize that if the members of Congress are unwilling to take this baby step, they are unlikely to support even more far-reaching measures. This vote shows that Congress is still cowardly on these issues; to think it would be ripe for broader drug reform seems almost like wishful thinking."

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