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2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference

You're invited to the 2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference!

  • Date: Saturday, October 1 - Sunday, October 2 
  • Time: 11am-6pm (10/1), 11am-4pm (10/2)
  • Location: Boston University Kenmore Classroom Building
                       565 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215
  • Register for FREE here: ssdp.org/events/northeast-regional-ssdp-conference-2011 

This weekend, dozens of SSDPers from across the Northeast region will gather at Boston University for our annual Northeast Regional SSDP conference.  Please join us for two days of networking, learning, training, and other activities that will help strengthen our ability to be effective young drug policy reformers.  Registration is free and lunch will be provided.  Donations will be accepted at the door.  Find this event on Facebook.

Confirmed speakers include:

Rick Doblin: Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Stacia Cosner: Associate Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Jason Ortiz: Regional Outreach Coordinator, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

... and of course many other student leaders and alumni will be there to contribute to the discussion and  share their experiences as well.

See you in Boston on Saturday!

Best,

Jason Ortiz
Regional Outreach Coordinator, Northeast & Mountain Plains Regions
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Date: 
Sat, 10/01/2011 - 11:00am - Sun, 10/02/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
556 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

Students Against Mass Incarceration Special Open Mic

One Voice One Sound Presents Students Against Mass Incarceration Special Open Mic

Featuring Howard University performing artists in addition to OneVoice OneSound's Don D, LeftField, Sold D, D Money and others

Add Your Voice to Stop the New Jim Crow

 

September 29, 2011

9-12:30pm

Potter's House

1658 Columbia Rd. NW

Washington, DC

Date: 
Thu, 09/29/2011 - 9:00pm - Fri, 09/30/2011 - 12:30am
Location: 
1658 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, DC
United States

Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/wanted1.jpg
US Embassy in Mexico cartel wanted poster
Thursday, August 25

In Monterrey, 52 people were killed when suspected Zetas ignited gasoline at the entrance to the Casino Royale. As of August 31, twelve people are in custody for the attack. Many of those killed died of smoke inhalation after fleeing to offices and bathrooms in the interior of the casino.

Although the exact motive is yet unknown, police are investigating the possibility that the casino was attacked after having refused to pay protection money to the Zetas. Another possibility that has been floated in the Mexican press is that the casino was used to launder money for a rival cartel.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the former police chief of the town of Columbus pleaded guilty to conspiracy, smuggling, and public corruption charges. Angela Vega was arrested in March along with the town's mayor and 13 others. The group is known to have trafficked at least 200 weapons to La Linea, the military wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Friday, August 26

In Michoacan, wanted posters were put up by the Knights Templar Organization. The banners, which show the mugshots of five men the names of six men said to now be working for the Zetas, offered rewards of between $100,000 and $500,000 as well as a phone number to call.

Sunday, August 28

In Almoya de Juarez, near Mexico City, authorities discovered the decomposed bodies of five individuals buried in a corn field. The discovery was made after a family member of a missing man received a phone call from an unidentified man who said that 23 people were buried in the field. The other 18 remain unaccounted for.

Monday, August 29

In Acapulco, at least 140 local schools were closed after teachers refused to go to work because of extortion threats. School had just begun one week prior. Teachers indicated that at least four teachers had been kidnapped in the past eight days, and cars full of armed men were seen cruising past at least one school.

In Tamaulipas, authorities announced that a top Gulf Cartel commander was among several cartel members captured in the town of Camargo over the weekend. Abiel Gonzalez Briones, "R-2," 28, was captured after an aerial patrol spotted a group of armed men, at least seven of whom were captured. Gonzalez Briones is thought to have been a main financial operator of the Gulf Cartel and the area chief for the Miguel Aleman area.

In the mountain town of Guachochi, Chihuahua, seven bodies were discovered by the army. They had all been missing since August 13. Of the dead, six were strangulated to death, and the seventh, a woman, was shot. Additionally, near Ciudad Juarez, five human skulls thought to be several years old were discovered.

Tuesday, August 30

In Utah, authorities announced the dismantling of a Sinaloa Cartel cell. At least 30 people have so far been taken into custody after an 18th month investigation, which led to the discovery of several high-level men described as being "command and control" for the the cartel in Utah. At least 30 pounds of meth, 2.5 of heroin were taken into custody, as well as cash and high-powered weapons.

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011: (approx.): 6,700

Chronicle Book Review: BONG HiTS 4 JESUS

BONG HiTS 4 JESUS: A Perfect Constitutional Storm in Alaska's Capital by James Foster (2011, University of Alaska Press, 373 pp., $29.95 PB)

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/bonghits4jesusbook.jpg
In January 2002, as Olympic torchbearers making their way to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City jogged through the streets of Juneau, Alaska, past the local high school, a troublemaking prankster of a high school student and some of his friends held up a 14-foot banner reading "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS." The school principal, Deborah Morse, rushed over to the students, tore down the banner, and subsequently suspended the prankster, Joseph Frederick. Little did anyone imagine at the time that the far-off brouhaha would roil the community for years and that the controversy would end up at the US Supreme Court.

Oregon State University professor and student of judicial politics James Foster tells the tale of a case that has helped shape First Amendment jurisprudence in the exceptionally sticky milieu of student free speech rights and schools' rights to accomplish their educational missions. And while there is a plenty of fine-toothed examination of the high court's legal reasoning in Morse v. Frederick, as the case came to be known, as well as related cases, there is a lot more to BONG HiTS 4 JESUS than dry textual analysis.

When, on the first page of the first chapter of the book, the author references Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa's classic 1950 film Rashomon, the reader begins to get an inkling that this is going to be something of a ride. And so it is.

Foster sets up a story of conflicting narratives in a conflicted town in a conflicted time. Juneau, Alaska's capital city, is an isolated town in an isolated state, a liberal island of blue in a sea of red, a small town where the protagonists in local conflicts are likely to run into each other at the grocery store. That social and political context, and the hostilities it engendered, helped turn what began as a local imbroglio into a problem that could only be decided by the Supreme Court.

If Joseph Frederick had been less of an authority-challenged troublemaker, or if Principal Morse had had a better administrative style, the whole affair could have been handled as little more than a tempest in a teapot. Foster excels at explaining why that wasn't to be and how a disciplinary interaction between an educator and a student ends up as constitutional question before the highest court in the land.

Aside from the interpersonal and community context of the conflict and the case, Foster also excels at explaining the legal context, discussing at some length a line of cases about student rights running back to the seminal 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines School Board, in which the court famously held, in Justice Abe Fortas' words, that "Students… do not leave their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school house gate." That case involved students wearing black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War.

But, as Foster makes abundantly clear, Fortas' stirring -- and oft-cited -- proclamation was actually stronger than the court's own ruling in Tinker, where it held that political ("symbolic") speech could not be constrained as long as it did not interfere with the educational mission of the school. And as his examination of the handful of key post-Tinker cases relating to student rights demonstrates, the bright and shining rule of Fortas' formulation has been quickly and relentlessly chipped away at by less friendly Supreme Courts.

Some of those cases were not First Amendment cases, but Fourth Amendment ones. The elements they had in common with Morse were the scope of students' rights and adults' fears about drugs. In those two cases, conservative courts approved the use of warrantless, suspicionless random drug testing, first of athletes and then of any students involved in extracurricular activities. As in other realms of law, the Supreme Court in those cases created a drug war-based exception to the Fourth Amendment when it comes to students, or, as Foster puts it, a "Fourth Amendment-Lite."

Through close examination of oral arguments and the different written opinions in Morse, Foster shows that the same concerns about student drug use weighed heavily on the minds of the justices, so much so that they were moved to decide against Frederick's free speech rights. The Roberts court was more afraid of a nonsense message that could -- with some contortions -- be construed as "pro-drug," than it was of eroding the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment.

BONG HiTS 4 JESUS is not a book about drug policy, but it is one more demonstration of the way our totalizing, all-encompassing war on drugs has deleterious effects far beyond those of which one commonly thinks. Really? We're going to trash the First Amendment because some kid wrote "bong hits" on a sign? Apparently, we are. We did.

There are some dense thickets of legal exegesis in BONG HiTS 4 JESUS, and the book is likely to be of interest mainly to legal scholars, but Foster brings much more to bear here than mere eye-watering analysis. For those concerned with the way the war on drugs warps our lives and our laws, this book has much to offer.

Students Pursue Good Samaritan Drug Policy Shift

Location: 
VA
United States
A new student group is campaigning for a Good Samaritan policy at Virginia Tech. Hokies for a Good Samaritan Policy wants to change the policy to protect people who call 911 when they or a friend are illegally using drugs or alcohol from disciplinary sanctions. "In these situations the clock is ticking," Mark Goldstein, an accounting and information systems major and president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said. "Every second you don’t call for help the person is closer to dying."
Publication/Source: 
Collegiate Times (VA)
URL: 
http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/17494/students-pursue-good-samaritan-policy-shift

Marijuana and Racial Inequality: A "Cannabis Day" Look at How Marijuana Arrests Discriminate Against Young Black People

April 20 (4/20) -- the date unofficially recognized nationwide as marijuana day -- is probably as good a time as any to explore how marijuana arrests in the Unites States exemplify racially skewed policing tactics.
Publication/Source: 
Salon (NY)
URL: 
http://www.salon.com/life/drugs/?story=/news/feature/2011/04/20/racially_biased_marijuana_policing

Mexico's Orphans Are Casualties of Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
"At least 12,000 children have lost one or both of their parents," said Gustavo de la Rosa, an official from Mexico's human rights commission. Those motherless and fatherless children, said de la Rosa, are a lasting and tragic legacy of Mexico's drug prohibition war. After witnessing the execution of a parent, the children -- even if physically uninjured themselves -- face a lifetime of emotional scarring.
Publication/Source: 
Agence France-Presse (France)
URL: 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCtIvBVbEyDDJeQlCQjavLmwlXWA?docId=CNG.ce4ce7a67bd66d9150ddc80ebf588abb.1e1

Is DARE Program Worth It?

While participants remain enthusiastic, scientific reviews have been negative on the effectiveness of the DARE program, which started in Los Angeles in 1983. A 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that those who participate in DARE are just as likely to use drugs as those who don’t. Khadija K. Swims, of Grand Valley State University, reviewed several studies on DARE and concluded the program is "ineffective" in preventing future drug, alcohol and tobacco use in adolescents. The results of such studies mean schools can’t spend federal money on DARE. Under rules that went into effect in 1998, the Department of Education requires agencies that receive federal money to prove within two years that their programs reduce drug use among students.
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
URL: 
http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/4497466-418/is-dare-program-worth-it.html

More Kids Caught in the Crossfire of Mexico’s Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
Sadly, the fatal shooting of a 4-year-old girl brought to three the number of children to die violently in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco within the last 72 hours. Fifteen people have been slain in Acapulco since Tuesday, including a woman and two of her grandchildren gunned down inside the family home. The mayhem is taking a toll on tourism in Acapulco, scaring away many of the U.S. college students who would normally flock to the city for spring break.
Publication/Source: 
Latin America Herald Tribune (Venezuela)
URL: 
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=389711&CategoryId=14091

PA School Districts Sued Over Student Drug Testing

The ACLU and a Philadelphia law firm are suing two Pennsylvania school districts for maintaining random drug and alcohol testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities or who drive cars to school. The separate lawsuits were filed last week.

Some educators require remedial litigation to ensure they understand their students' privacy rights. (Image courtesy DVSD)
The US Supreme Court has held that the random drug testing of student athletes or students involved in extracurricular activities does not violate the US Constitution. But some state supreme courts, including Pennsylvania's, have found protections against random drug testing of students in their state constitutions.

The lawsuits filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm Dechert LLP charge that the school districts have maintained student drug testing policies that violate a 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision holding that random drug testing of students is unconstitutional unless the school districts can show that the group of students being tested had a high drug use rate. That case was Theodore v. Delaware Valley School District.

Delaware Valley is one of the districts named in the law suit. The other is the Panther Valley School District. Read the respective complaints here and here.

Delaware Valley, the defendant in the 2003 case, has never changed its policy, the complaint said. Instead, the district has "essentially ignored that ruling and continued to enforce the drug testing policy." The district has never attempted "to compile data that would support or refute a need for the policy" even though the Supreme Court held that any such policy "must be born out of a true and documented need for random testing of the student population affected."

The plaintiffs in the Delaware Valley lawsuit are Glenn and Kathy Kiederer and their two daughters, identified only by their initials. The Kiederers complain that when their daughters refused to sign drug testing consent forms, they were excluded from participating in athletics and extracurricular activities, ironically including joining the school's Junior Students Against Drug Abuse.

"We are very frustrated that the Delaware Valley School District has ignored the State Supreme Court's guidelines and has refused to change the drug testing policy to comply with the court opinion. We feel that the proper education for our children is to teach them to defend their constitutional rights, especially in the present times we are living in," said the Kiederers.

The Panther Valley suit was filed on behalf of high school senior Jeremy Thomas and his ninth-grade sister, identified only by her initials. According to the complaint, Thomas, an Eagle Scout and Junior ROTC member, was thrown off the school golf team after refusing to sign a consent form. He was also barred from attending the senior prom. Thomas's parents, Morgan and Donna, said in the lawsuit they refused to sign the consent form because they believe the drug testing program violates their son's right to privacy.

"These policies teach young people to accept extreme invasions of their privacy when they've done nothing wrong," said Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania and one of the attorneys representing the students and their parents. "Random drug testing is also counterproductive, as studies have shown that extracurricular activities help students avoid drug use. Schools should not be putting up barriers to students' participation in after-school activities," she continued.

Neither school district has yet responded publicly to the lawsuits.

PA
United States

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