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Search and Seizure: Strip Search of School Girl for Ibuprofen Went Too Far, Federal Appeals Court Says

An Arizona school violated the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old school girl when it subjected her to a strip search to see if she was carrying the pain reliever ibuprofen, a narrowly divided federal appeals court ruled last Friday. Lower courts had held that the school did not violate Fourth Amendment strictures against unreasonable searches and seizures because officials have a legitimate interest in protecting students from prescription drugs.

Ibuprofen is available in lower doses as a non-prescription drug and is found in common medications such as Advil and Motrin to treat ailments like cramps and headaches. Higher doses of the drug require a prescription.

The ruling came in Redding v. Stafford Unified School District, in which honor student Savana Redding sued the district over the 2003 search. On the day in question, Safford Middle School Principal Kerry Wilson found two prescription strength ibuprofen tablets in the possession of one of Redding's classmates, who fingered her as the source. After escorting Redding to his office, Wilson informed her of the accusation, which she denied. Redding then agreed to a search of her possessions, which turned up nothing. Wilson then ordered a female administrative assistant to conduct a strip search in the school nurse's office. In the school nurse's office, Redding was ordered to strip to her underwear. She was then commanded to pull her bra out and to the side, exposing her breasts, and to pull her underwear out at the crotch, exposing her pelvic area. The strip search failed to uncover any ibuprofen pills.

"The strip search was the most humiliating experience I have ever had," said Redding in a sworn affidavit following the incident. "I held my head down so that they could not see that I was about to cry."

For the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the search was not only humiliating, but unconstitutional. "Directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen, an infraction that poses an imminent danger to no one, and which could be handled by keeping her in the principal's office until a parent arrived or simply sending her home, was excessively intrusive," Justice Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the 6-5 majority. "A reasonable school official, seeking to protect the students in his charge, does not subject a thirteen-year-old girl to a traumatic search to 'protect' her from the danger of Advil. We reject Safford's effort to lump together these run-of-the-mill anti-inflammatory pills with the evocative term 'prescription drugs,' in a knowing effort to shield an imprudent strip search of a young girl behind a larger war against drugs," Wardlaw wrote.

"It does not take a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old girl is an invasion of constitutional rights. More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity. The self-serving statement of a cornered teenager facing significant punishment does not meet the heavy burden necessary to justify a search accurately described by the 7th Circuit as 'demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant [and] embarrassing,'" Wardlaw continued. "And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen pills. No legal decision cited to us, or that we could find, permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over-the-counter at any convenience store throughout the United States."

Not all the justices agreed. In his dissent, Justice Michael Daly Hawkins wrote: "We should resist using our independent judgment to determine what infractions are so harmful as to justify significantly intrusive searches. Seemingly innocuous items can, in the hands of creative adolescents, present serious threats. Admittedly, ibuprofen is one of the mildest drugs children could choose to abuse. But that does not mean it is never harmful."

The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, whose Adam Wolf, helped argue the case, was pleased. "Students and parents nationwide can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that adolescents cannot be strip searched based on the unsubstantiated accusation of a classmate trying to get out of trouble," said Wolf, co-counsel in the case with the law firms Humphrey & Petersen and McNamara, Goldsmith, Jackson & Macdonald, in a statement greeting the ruling. "This ruling is a victory for our fundamental right to privacy, sending a clear signal that such traumatizing searches have no place in America's schools."

Redding pronounced herself pleased, too. "I took my case to court because I wanted to make sure that school officials wouldn't be able to violate anyone else's rights like this again," she said in the same statement. "This was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I am relieved that a court has finally recognized that the Constitution protects students from being strip searched in schools on the basis of unreliable rumors."

U.S. Drug Warriors Interfere With Vienna Drug Policy Summit

Graham Boyd at ACLU has a fascinating series of posts on the U.N. drug policy summit in Vienna. It is a remarkable event bringing together AIDS organizations, public health groups, human rights advocates, treatment specialists, police officers, substance abuse researchers, academics, drug policy reformers, and other experts from around the world to critique UN drug policy and make recommendations.

Not surprisingly, the Drug Czar's office felt threatened by the event and sent an enforcer to intimidate everyone:

First, the intrigue. Throughout the first day, I kept noticing this one person who harrumphed, guffawed, and muttered every time someone spoke in ways critical of the drug policy status quo. By accent, she seemed to be from the United States. And she had a yellow badge, where everyone else had a red badge. Who was she? Why did she keep shuffling over to the U.S. groups like Drug Free America and other cheerleaders for U.S. hardline policy? She settled in right behind me, and gave instructions to her allies — tactics for blocking inclusion of harm reduction. She said "one of you needs to interject to stop the hand clapping in favor of their proposals." More and more, she seemed like some sort of puppet master. As the day concluded, she rushed up to the podium, accosted the chair, and, in the most agitated way, began lambasting the chair for various procedural points.

I had to find out about the American woman with the yellow badge. At a social gathering later that evening, I described my observations to some of the NGO delegates who regularly attend these U.N. events. Turns out that the yellow-badge woman is June Sivilli, an employee of the U.S. drug czar’s office and a regular fixture at Vienna drug meetings. Until now, she has been able to speak as an official voice of the U.S. government — and the U.S. is always the most important voice on U.N. drug policy issues. Now that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are bringing the voices of ordinary people to the table for the first time ever, she was actively subverting the process, throwing every possible obstacle in the way of this quite benign process.

I’d always heard that the U.S. government played a bully role in international drug policy. But it’s really ugly to see it in practice.

It's really impossible to overstate the tyrannical role U.S. drug warriors have taken in attempting to subvert the U.N.'s deliberate effort to include diverse viewpoints in the NGO summit. I've discussed it before, and I'm not at all surprised to see the same tactics deployed in Vienna. I'd be surprised not to.

The mindset it requires to resist participation from such a vast group of experts is really an incredible thing to contemplate. One must really be in love with the drug war to struggle with such vigor to keep it just the way it is. What is it about the war on drugs that merits this devotion and loyalty? It is their deformed cannibal monster-child that must be sheltered and fed at any cost.

Former Staffer Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Faking Statistics

There exists a gaping black hole where the Drug Czar's credibility used to be. Even John Carnevale, a former big-shot at the Drug Czar's office is over at Huffington Post explaining that the drug war isn't going the way the White House says it is:

As an insider in the nation's war against drugs, I spent almost fifteen years in the executive office of the President. Eleven of these years were in the Office of National Drug Control Policy where I served four of the nation's so-called drug czars preparing the federal drug control budget, writing many of the national drug control strategies, and conducting performance measurement and analysis of the efficacy of those strategies.


In the latest 2008 National Drug Control Strategy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) -- the federal executive office agency charged with shaping this nation's national drug control strategy -- claims that America has reached a turning point in the war on drugs. In reality, we have little reason to believe a significant change has occurred. ONDCP based its claim on declining use for youth -- a trend that long precedes this administration's tenure -- but ignores the lack of progress with regard to adult drug use, rates of drug addiction, the inaccessibility of substance abuse treatment, and new emerging drugs of demand such as pharmaceutical drugs and methamphetamine. If America is to be successful in the fight against drugs, the first priority for the next administration -- Republican or Democrat -- must be to reinventing ONDCP as an effective policy office capable of leading the nation's struggle with drugs.


That is basically the most polite possible way of saying these guys have their heads up their asses. It's a familiar sentiment, to be sure, but not what one typically hears from the guy who used to write the national drug control strategy.

To be clear, Carnevale is hardly the new poster child for drug policy reform. He simply wants to curtail our failed foreign drug war adventures and bring the money home to be spent on prevention and domestic law-enforcement. But his remarks serve to illustrate that there remains next to no one in America at this point who believes a single word the Drug Czar says. In this context, it seems likely that none of the people who've run that office into the ground over the past 8 years will still be working there in January regardless of who is elected president.

Update: Pete Guither has more over at DrugWarRant.

Feature: Vested Interests of Prohibition I: The Police

Drug prohibition has been a fact of life in the United States for roughly a century now. While it was ostensibly designed to protect American citizens from the dangers of drug use, it now has a momentum of its own, independent of that original goal, at which it has failed spectacularly. As the prohibitionist response to drug use and sales deepened over the decades, then intensified even more with the bipartisan drug war of the Reagan era, prohibition and its enforcement have created a constellation of groups, industries, and professions that have grown wealthy and powerful feeding at the drug war trough.

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By virtue of their dependence on the continuation of drug prohibition, such groups -- whether law enforcement, the prison-industrial complex, the drug treatment industry, the drug testing industry, the drug testing-evading industry, the legal profession, among others -- can be fairly said to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. While the fact that such groups are, in one way or another, profiting from prohibition, does necessarily negate the sincerity of their positions, it does serve to call into question whether some among them continue to adhere to drug prohibition because they really believe in it, or merely because they gain from it.

In what will be an occasional series of reports on "The Vested Interests of Prohibition," we will be examining just who profits, how, by how much, and how much influence they have on the political decision-making process. This week we begin with a group so obvious it sometimes vanishes into the background, as if it were just part of the way things are in this world. That is the American law enforcement establishment.

That's right, the cops, the PO-lice. The Man makes a pretty penny off the drug war. How much? In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, long-time drug war critic Orange County (California) Superior Court Judge James Gray put the figure at $69 billion a year worldwide for the past 40 years, for a total of $2.5 trillion spent on drug prohibition. In written testimony presented before a hearing of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee last month, University of Maryland drug policy analyst Peter Reuter, more conservatively put combined current state, federal, and local drug policy spending at $40 billion a year, with roughly 70-75% going for law enforcement.

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In either case, it's a whole lot of taxpayer money. And for what? Despite years of harsher and harsher drug law enforcement, despite drug arrests per year approaching the two million mark, despite imprisoning half a million Americans who didn't do anything to anybody, despite all the billions of dollars spent ostensibly to stop drug use, the US continues to be the world's leading junkie. That point was hit home yet again earlier this month when researchers examining World Health Organization data found the US had the planet's highest cannabis use rates (more than twice those of cannabis-friendly Holland) and the world's highest cocaine use rates. (See related feature story this issue.)

By just about any measure, drug prohibition and drug law enforcement have failed at their stated goal: reducing drug use in America. Yet in general, American law enforcement has never met a drug law reform it liked, and never met a harsh new law it didn't. The current, almost hysterical, campaign around restoring the Justice Action Grants (JAG or Byrne grant) program cuts imposed by the Bush administration in a rare fit of fiscal responsibility is a case in point.

The Byrne grant program, which primarily funds those scandal-plagued multi-jurisdictional anti-drug law enforcement task forces, has been criticized by everyone from the ACLU to the GAO as wasteful, ineffective, and ridden with abuses, yet the law enforcement community has mobilized a powerful lobbying offensive to restore those funds. Now, after yet another year where congressional Democrats, fearful of being seen as "soft on crime," scurried to smooth law enforcement's ruffled feathers, the Byrne grant program is set to receive $550 million next year, a huge $350 million increase over this year's reduced -- but not zeroed out -- levels.

"The law enforcement lobby is enormously powerful," said Eric Sterling, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, who now heads the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. "Law enforcement unions are extremely important in endorsements for state and local elections, especially in primary elections."

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When it comes to Washington, rank-and-file organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police are joined by a whole slew of national management organizations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition. On occasion, as is the case with the campaign to restore the Byrne grants, groups like the National Association of County Officials (which includes sheriffs) lead the charge for law enforcement.

"All of these groups are very powerful, and members of Congress are loath to be criticized by them or vote against them," said Sterling.

"Without a doubt, the war on drugs creates a lot of jobs for law enforcement and various aspects of the war on drugs create huge profits for law enforcement," said Bill Piper, national affairs director and Capitol Hill lobbyist for the Drug Policy Alliance. "With those revenues, they can employ more police and continue to expand their turf. The law enforcement lobby is very strong and effective," said Piper. "No one wants to deny them what they want. The Democrats are terrified of them, and most Republicans, too. Everyone just wants to go back to their district and say they're tough on drugs. The law enforcement drug war lobby is a train that is very, very difficult to stop."

Faced with those solemn line-ups of men in blue, American flags fluttering behind them, most politicians would rather comply with the demands of law enforcement than not, whether at the state, local, or federal level. And that's fine with police, who have become habituated to a steady infusion of drug war money.

"Law enforcement at all levels of government has become dependent on the drug war, which in turn is predicated on drug prohibition," said former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who joined the anti-prohibitionist group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) shortly after his retirement. "They are addicted to the revenue streams that have become predictable and necessary for the day-to-day operations of departments all across the country," he continued.

"State and local governments get anti-crime funding from the federal government, and there are line-items dedicated to things like those regional narcotics task forces," Stamper said. "It wasn't a whole lot of money at first, but over the years we are now talking billions of dollars."

It isn't just departments that benefit from prosecuting the drug war, individual police officers can and do, too. "Both police departments and individual officers have a strong vested interest in maintaining prohibition," said Sterling as he related the story of his ride-along with Montgomery County, Maryland, police a few years ago. After cruising suburban malls and byways for a few hours one cold December night, Sterling and the officer he accompanied got a call that an officer needed back-up.

The officer needing back-up was accompanied by Sterling's then assistant, Tyler Smith, who, when Sterling's car arrived, told him that his (Smith's) cop had pulled over nine cars and convinced four of their drivers to consent to drug searches. In the present case, the officer had scored. The three young men in the car he had pulled over consented to a search, and he found a pipe in the car and a few specks of marijuana in one young man's pocket. By now four different police cars were on the scene.

"Now, all four officers are witnesses," Sterling noted. "That means every time there's a court proceeding, they go down to the courthouse and collect three hours overtime pay. They're almost always immediately excused, but they still get the pay. That's four cops getting paid for one cop's bust, so they have an enormous personal stake in backing up the one gung-ho cop who's out there trolling for busts. Collars for dollars is what they call it," Sterling related.

"I think we need to take into account the fact that individual officers at all levels are character challenged and profit personally from prohibition," said Stamper.

"It's also generally easy police work," Sterling noted. "You start in a position of strength and assertion, you're not arriving at a scene of conflict, you're not stopping a robbery or responding to a gun call; it's a relatively safe form of police activity. You get to notch an arrest, and that makes it look like you're being productive."

And despite repeated police protestations to the contrary, enforcing the drug laws is just not that dangerous. Every year, the National Police Officers Memorial puts out a list of the officers who died in the line of duty. Every year, out of the one or two or three hundred killed, barely a handful died enforcing the drug laws. And those dead officers are all too often used by their peers as poster-children for increased drug law enforcement.

But if law enforcement profits handsomely with taxpayer dollars at the state or federal level as it pursues the chimera of drug war success, it has another important prohibition-related revenue stream to tap into: asset forfeitures. Every Monday, the Wall Street Journal publishes official DEA legal notices of seizures as required by law. On the Monday of June 30, the legal notice consisted of 3 1/4 pages of tiny four-point type representing hundreds of seizures for that week alone.

According to the US Justice Department, federal law enforcement agencies alone seized $1.6 billion -- mainly in cash -- last year alone. That's up three-fold from the $567 million seized in 2003. But that figure doesn't include hundreds of millions of dollars more the feds got as their share of seizures by states, nor does it include the unknown hundreds of millions of dollars more seized by state and local agencies and handled under state asset forfeiture laws. Last year, Texas agencies alone seized more than $125 million.

"Revenue from forfeited assets represents a particularly unconscionable source of funds, particularly when police agencies set out to make busts to create additional funding for themselves," Stamper said. "Even if the money is going to agencies and not into the pockets of individual cops, you still develop that mentality that we're enforcing the law in order to make money. That's not how it's supposed to be," he said.

"Unfortunately, there are many departments that see this as a useful way to deter drug use, even though there is no evidence to support that," said Sterling. "Still, they can justify taking private property as serving an important law enforcement purpose, but there are many accounts of departments that are almost entirely self-funded by the proceeds," he said.

"If Byrne is cut back or zeroed out, and the police agency is fortunate enough to have an interstate highway to patrol, they are in a position to target vehicles and go fishing for dollars," he noted.

"These revenue streams, whether it's Byrne grants or seized cash, create dependency in the departments that rely on them," said Stamper, "and that makes it less and less likely that the police in your community are going to be critical and analytical in questioning their ways of doing business. Does prohibition work, does it produce positive results? The answer is no and no. We have a situation where we are actually doing harm in the name of law enforcement, and it's deep harm, this notion that prohibition is workable. Drug law enforcement is funded at obscene levels, and this is money that could be used for things that do work, like drug abuse prevention and treatment," the ex-chief continued. "It's safe to say that American law enforcement has developed an addiction to the monies it gets from drug prohibition."

Pain Medicine: Pain Relief Network Sues State of Washington Over Narcotic Prescribing Guidelines

The Pain Relief Network (PRN), a nonprofit organization waging a lonely battle to protect the rights of doctors who prescribe opioid pain relievers and patients who receive them, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington over prescribing guidelines promulgated in March 2007 by the state Department of Health.

The guidelines are designed to guide physicians through the minefields of narcotic prescribing in a time where they face a rising clamor for the relief of pain at the same time they face the threat of arrest and prosecution by federal or state agents intent on stopping narcotic drug abuse. But PRN alleges that Washington's guidelines deter doctors from prescribing opiates and have had an undue negative influence on prescribing practices across the country.

The guidelines, which only apply to the treatment of chronic pain -- not cancer pain, acute pain or hospice care -- recommend that daily opioid doses not exceed 120 milligrams of morphine or the equivalent if both pain and physical function are not improving. PRN argues that the guidelines are inflexible and fail to account for the needs of real patients.

According to the complaint filed late last month on behalf of a Washington state doctor and a group of Washington state pain patients, plaintiffs seek an injunction blocking the guidelines from being used. The complaint argues that the Washington guidelines violate both state laws and federal civil rights laws.

United States Sentencing Commission's Symposium on Crime and Punishment: Alternatives to Incarceration

The United States Sentencing Commission will host a Symposium on Crime and Punishment in the United States: Alternatives to Incarceration on July 14-15, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The symposium will focus on various sentencing options available within the federal and state systems, including the use of sentencing alternatives in combination with and/or in lieu of imprisonment. Presenters at the symposium include federal and state judges, congressional staff, professors of law and the social sciences, corrections and alternative sentencing practitioners and specialists, federal and state prosecutors and defense attorneys, prisons officials, and others involved in criminal justice. Approximately 250 individuals representing the federal and state criminal justice communities, academia, and public interest groups have been invited to attend. Topics to be examined include – * drug courts and treatment options for certain offenders; * alternative sentencing options in the federal and state systems; * restorative justice-based programs; * prison programs resulting in reduced sentences; * the Second Chance Act and re-entry issues; and * collateral consequences of convictions. Created by Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the U.S. Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government. Its principal purposes are (1) to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts, including guidelines to be consulted regarding the appropriate form and severity of punishment for federal offenders; (2) to advise and assist Congress and the executive branch in the development of effective and efficient crime policy; and (3) to collect, analyze, research, and distribute information on federal crime and sentencing issues. For more information about the symposium, contact the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at 202/502-4597.
Date: 
Mon, 07/14/2008 - 9:00am - Tue, 07/15/2008 - 5:00pm
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Congressional Black Caucus Members Try to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

Uh-oh. They're trying to take our minty-fresh menthols away. Not kool.

The Congressional Black Caucus is calling for changes to a House tobacco-regulation bill, demanding that the legislation place restrictions on menthol cigarettes, the type heavily favored by African-American smokers.

The 43-member caucus is taking aim at a provision in the bill that would ban candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes but that specifically exempts menthol. In recent weeks the exemption has become the focus of controversy because menthol brands are heavily used by black smokers, who develop a large share of smoking-related cancers and other health risks. [New York Times]

The menthol prohibitionists' argument is simple: if black people are more likely to smoke menthol + black people are more likely to get lung cancer = menthol increases lung cancer risk. Of course, it's possible that black folks are just more susceptible to lung cancer for some horrible reason, but I guess the Congressional Black Caucus thinks the quickest way to find that out is to ban Newports™ and see if black people live longer. I disagree. I think the best way is to check whether the 25% of black smokers who don't smoke menthol have the same lung cancer rates as those who do.

Either way, banning menthol cigarettes is drug prohibition and we know what that leads to:

Some supporters of the bill’s current language on menthol have argued that, because menthol is widely used by many smokers, the effects of banning it outright are hard to predict. Among possibilities they have suggested is that menthol smokers would turn to an illicit cigarette market to obtain menthol cigarettes.

If nothing else, such a policy may rain hell on one of the Congressional Black Caucus' other legislative priorities: ending racial profiling. "Sir, do you have anything in the vehicle I should know about? Drugs? Weapons? Menthol cigarettes?"

Drug Czar Furious Over New York Times Editorial

Just watch how the New York Times editorial board picks apart the Drug Czar's propaganda:

According to the White House, this country is scoring big wins in the war on drugs, especially against the cocaine cartels. Officials celebrate that cocaine seizures are up — leading to higher prices on American streets. Cocaine use by teenagers is down, and, officials say, workplace tests suggest adult use is falling.

John Walters, the White House drug czar, declared earlier this year that “courageous and effective” counternarcotics efforts in Colombia and Mexico “are disrupting the production and flow of cocaine.”

This enthusiasm rests on a very selective reading of the data. Another look suggests that despite the billions of dollars the United States has spent battling the cartels, it has hardly made a dent in the cocaine trade.

The Drug Czar's blog fired back with a predictably off-target, but uncharacteristically hostile response:

Today's New York Times has published an editorial that willfully cherry picks data in order to conform to their tired, 1970's editorial viewpoint that we're "losing the war on drugs."

Despite our numerous efforts to provide the Times with the facts, their editorial staff has chosen to ignore irrefutable data regarding the progress that has been made in making our nation's drug problem smaller.

 And yet, as anyone can see, the NYT piece clearly acknowledges this so-called "irrefutable data." They list the Drug Czar's favorite talking points right in the first paragraph. But then they do something he wasn't prepared for: they say it doesn't matter. The salient point of the whole editorial is that "the drug cartels are not running for cover." In short, for all the Drug Czar's proud proclamations of progress, the drug trade surges on unabated.


It's really just embarrassing that the Drug Czar's only response is to repeat the very points already acknowledged and overcome by NYT. His whole argument is that rates of drug abuse are lower than they were at their highest point in history. That's true, but it's not surprising, not impressive, and not even remotely a result of the Drug Czar's poisonous public policies. With the rage of a shamed tyrant, Walters claims a monopoly on "the facts," as though only the Drug Czar is qualified to interpret the success of his programs. It's like calling CarMax to ask them if they have the best deals on used cars.

Beyond all that, ponder the absurdity of the very notion that we must consult the Drug Czar and his overcooked statistics in order to know whether or not our drug policy is working really well. We can observe these things for ourselves. When we lead the world in incarceration, when we lead the world in drug use, when we drug test our own sewage, and deny organs to medical marijuana patients, and murder innocent people in their homes, and subsidize brutal civil wars in foreign nations, we have nothing to celebrate. All of these grand travesties fester before our eyes and are not mitigated, even to a microscopic extent, by the indignant self-congratulatory fulminations of the very people who visited this spectacular nightmare upon us.

In other words, when the pool is green, no one gives a crap if the lifeguard says the pH balance is normal.

Chapare Coca Growers Cut Ties with USAID

Chapare coca growers cut ties with USAID after years of poorly-framed, ineffectual initiatives. Prepared by the Andean Information Network, June 27, 2008 On June 24, 2008 Chapare coca grower unions announced that they will no longer sign new aid agreements with USAID.[i] This announcement comes after two decades of poorly-focused policies, which did little to improve the lives of the majority of Chapare residents, especially during forced eradication. These development programs also provoked division and friction within the region by dividing communities and linking aid to controversial coca reduction. As a result, it is not surprising that Chapare coca growers made this decision; it is only surprising that they waited so long. Furthermore, the announcement is largely a symbolic gesture; USAID plans to shift the bulk of its already restricted Chapare activities to the La Paz Yungas in the coming year, and Chapare municipalities have found other funding partners. According to the 2008 INSCR, “Relatively more resources will be devoted to the Yungas, an under-developed coca growing region ….Assistance to the Chapare will continue to decline….” As a result, the number and scope of projects affected is minimal. It is interesting to note that there has been no rejection of cooperation with the U.S. Narcotics Affairs Section or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the Chapare. Coca grower representatives affirm the need for their presence, “because their policy is to fight drug trafficking, like ours, but now it’s on our terms.”[ii] Coordination on cooperative coca reduction and interdiction remain unaltered. It is crucial to look beyond the initial perception of an anti-American political stance to address the genuine popular discontent generated by these programs in order to properly re-evaluate the structure and impact of USAID initiatives. In an environment where the weight of US funding has diminished greatly, it makes sense to accept the Chapare farmers’ “no thank you,” and allow the region’s residents to determine who they would like to work with to improve the lives of their families. The long term frustration with USAID in the Chapare is real, but the threat of violence is highly unlikely. There is no apparent backlash against USAID workers. According to MAS congressman Asterio Romero, “We cordially request that they (USAID) leave; we won’t use force or take over their facilities, but we want them to go quickly.”[iii] While some cocaleros may have said some provocative things such as calling the Chapare a “USAID-free territory,”[iv] USAID has not been entirely expelled from the Chapare – the few ongoing projects will most likely continue until their designated end dates. Coca growers are simply moving toward other sources of aid and away from the conditions and failures of USAID projects. The cocaleros made their decision to reject USAID at the same time that several large projects have ended and new projects through the European Union funded Social Control and Integrated Development initiatives – which focus on working with local communities and do not impose coca eradication – were launched. A history of failure and friction During the past ten years, AIN, WOLA and other investigators have repeatedly highlighted the inherent flaws of USAID alternative development initiatives in the Chapare, especially during forced eradication. Key areas of concern included: - Externally-designed and imposed initiatives developed without significant consultation with Chapare farmers. - The great majority of funds dedicated to overhead, salaries of foreign consultants and other costs. “Eighty percent of these resources went to pay the salaries of the Alternative Development personnel; twenty percent went to production, and only six percent for the producers. We only got crumbs, and we are still poor.”[v] - From 1998-2003, farmers could only have access to USAID assistance after the complete eradication of their coca crop. As a result, families with no alternative income went hungry before agricultural initiatives kicked in, forcing them to replant coca. - USAID projects refused to work directly with coca growers unions, although these strong organizations could have helped facilitate the implementation of projects. Instead, they formed parallel ‘associations” and demanded that farmers leave unions to receive assistance. This practice generated divisions and conflict within Chapare communities. - Community promoters were asked to inform USAID contractors about their neighbors who continued to plant coca or spoke out against alternative development, further heightening tensions in the region. - Poorly-designed agricultural initiatives lack affordable transportation mechanisms and markets. Many farmers found that it was cheaper to let their products rot in the field than it was to take them to market. - The majority of these projects failed due to impracticality of transporting heavy produce without proper roads, the low-market price offered locally for fruit, and the inability for small-scale Bolivian producers to compete on international markets. - A USAID contracted lawyer filed narcoterrorism charges against over one hundred coca growers, the bulk of the Six Federations leadership, for attacks on alternative development installations. - USAID took over the bulk of the funding of FAO projects, like the Jatun Sacha forestry initiative, forcing the project to incorporate US conditioning on coca eradication. - Unlike the more cost effective European Union initiative, Praedac, the US refused until 2003 to work with coca grower municipalities in the Chapare. - USAID placed increasing emphasis on work with private enterprise in the Chapare, which failed to pass profits on to or fairly compensate their employees. A short-lived policy shift In late 2003, after the resignation of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, USAID decided to begin to work collaboratively with coca grower municipalities in the Chapare, in an effort to alleviate the high tensions around US programs in the region. Coca growers welcomed the change and actively participated – a significant shift in acceptance of USAID initiatives in the region. - Unfortunately, with the election of Evo Morales, USAID froze these joint initiatives for a year, wreaking havoc with municipal planning. In the interim, Chapare mayors sought out and obtained significant alternative funding from the EU, European governments and Venezuela, without any of the political strings and conditioning attached to US efforts. - Even though they had frozen funding, the US claimed that the lack of violence in the region was due to “a new, integrated alternative development approach in the Chapare [which] provides for participation by municipalities in GOB decisions on development, implementation and monitoring of programs. This has helped reduce coca-related conflict and strengthen local commitment to licit development.”[vi] Coca growers were understandably angered by this misleading statement. - When USAID initiatives resumed in the region, they were increasingly irrelevant. New requirements, such as renewed conditioning on coca reduction, although now on a global and not family level, and the obligation to sign an agreement certifying that recipient communities were “terrorist-free zones” exacerbated this situation. In addition, after the election of Morales, USAID began to block meetings of NGOs, such as AIN and WOLA, with its Chapare contractors. When asked, one high-ranking USAID official in Bolivia explained that, “It would be problematic to allow contractors to speak in the name of the US government,” and said that AIN could tour alternative development facilities escorted by USAID personnel. This lack of transparency is quite surprising, considering that in prior years, both organizations had always had free access to all USAID projects, even during the peak of violent conflicts. AIN attempted to find contact information for over twenty USAID contractors within Bolivian, could only identify nine, and when contacted, only one organization accepted a meeting. This lack of transparency around USAID initiatives is problematic and inexplicable, when nongovernmental investigation in the past had led to significant improvement in programs. With the history of failed alternative development, lack of transparency, and conditionality of coca eradication, it is hardly surprising that Chapare growers have rejected further ties to USAID funding. In a region where local unions and grassroots organizations were already highly politically mobilized, these programs served to undermine the history of community organizing. After living through the tensions and failures associated with USAID, Morales’ and his administration’s mistrust of USAID initiatives is hardly inexplicable. In light of repeated Morales administration accusations of USAID funding of the opposition’s political agendas, the proposed doubling of US assistance in the FY2009 Budget Request from economic development to “rule of law, good governance, electoral processes, consensus building, civil society and education,” has intensified these underlying tensions. Chapare growers are moving toward different funding sources such as the European Union and Venezuela, which come with far less strings attached and do not condition assistance on reducing the coca crop. The MAS administration, while critical of many US policies and frustrated with conditional aid, continues to work with and receive funding from the US, especially anti-narcotics programs. Voices from the Chapare tell the real story. The mayor of Villa Tunari said, “We don’t want USAID anymore, if they are going to cooperate, it would have to be without conditions like the European Union.”[vii] Time to re-evaluate US development initiatives Although it may be tempting to characterize Chapare coca growers as ungrateful “beneficiaries,” blindly tied to their leader’s anti-US political agenda, their rejection of USAID projects is an important example of negative impact of development policy tied to political agendas. It is important to note that more pragmatic, grounded U.S.-funded development efforts in Bolivia, such as the Interamerican Foundation projects, continue to be well-received in all departments, and by MAS and prefectural officials. Especially on the eve of a national election, the predictable rejection of USAID assistance by coca growers should serve as a wake-up call to US planners and policymakers. It is crucial to reassess the design, orientation and objectives of US-funded development effects to meaningfully involve the participants and eliminate political conditioning. Background reading on USAID Alternative Development in Bolivia Failures of alternative development: Linda Farthing’s “Rethinking Alternative Development” Political conditioning of USAID: Linda Farthing and Benjamin Kohl’s: “Conflicting Agenda’s: The Politics of Development Aid in Drug-Producing Areas” Linda Farthing and Kathryn Ledebur’s: “The Beat goes On: The US War on Coca” 2006 USAID funding freeze and its impact: Coletta Youngers and Kathryn Ledebur: “Update on Drug Policy Issues in Bolivia” Failures of USAID and potential benefits of EU projects: Kathryn Ledebur and Coletta A. Younger’s “Balancing Act: Bolivia’s Drug Control Advances and Challenges” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [i] “Usaid deja el trópico y EEUU teme por la seguridad de su personal.” Los Tiempos, 26 June, 2008. [ii] Cocaleros piden la salida de otras agencias cooperantes.” La Razón 27 June 2008. [iii] Ibid. [iv] “Funcionarios de Usaid salen del Chapare,” La Rázon, 26 June 2008. [v] “Cocaleros piden la salida de otras agencias cooperantes.” La Razón 27 June 2008. [vi] The 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report is available at http://www.sta te.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2007/vol1/html/80855.htm [vii] “Funcionarios de Usaid salen del Chapare.”

Pain Relief Network Sues State of WA

As always, we ask that you help PRN fight to protect the rights of patients and the doctors who treat them. Please click the link below.

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Pain Treatment Advocacy Group Sues State of WA

Jun 25, 2008

By: Donna Gordon Blankinship

The Associated Press SEATTLE - A pain treatment advocacy group filed suit Wednesday in federal court to challenge the restrictions Washington state officials have put on prescription pain medication.

The nonprofit Pain Relief Network says the guidelines for prescribing narcotics, written by the Washington state Department of Health and published in March 2007, have influenced pain treatment across the country and have made doctors afraid to give opiate prescriptions[...]

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Damages a class action lawsuit by Laura Cooper (lead attorney) et al., Filed: 2008-06-24

Exhibit 1: The WA state Opioid Dosing "Guidelines" by Agency Medical Directors Group (AMDG); Mar. 2007; Filed 2008-06-24

Exhibit 2: Findings of Fact Laura Cooper, Esq.; Filed 2008-06-24 www.painreliefnetwork.org

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WA
United States

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