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The Week Online with DRCNet
(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)

Issue #127, 3/03/00

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. ALERT: Forfeiture Vote Postponed One Week, Action Still Needed!
  2. Errata: Louisiana Incarceration, Helicopter Manufacturer
  3. Youth Is No Excuse: California Set to Vote on Prop. 21
  4. Drug Czar Warns Legislators on Illinois Hemp Plan
  5. Michigan's Personal Responsibility Amendment Surges Ahead
  6. News Release: Lindesmith Center Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Supreme Court Case Challenging Drug Testing of Pregnant Women
  7. Germany Legalizes Safe Injecting Rooms
  8. UK Police Report on Drug Prohibition Now Online
  9. Free Charles Garrett Campaign at Critical Juncture
  10. DARE Program and Zero Tolerance School Drug Policies Discussed in Media
  11. EVENTS: New York, Washington
(visit the last Week Online)


1. ALERT: Forfeiture Vote Postponed One Week, Action Still Needed!

The Senate Judiciary Committee's vote on S. 1931, a bill to reform asset forfeiture law, has been postponed until Thursday, March 9. PLEASE TAKE ACTIONS SUPPORTING THIS BILL IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/forfeiture/ to send your two Senators e-mail, and while you're doing that, write down their phone numbers and call them to make a larger impact. (You can also call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and get their numbers and be transferred from there.) Even better would be to make an appointment to visit your Senators' district offices and lobby in person.

Under current forfeiture law, government agencies can seize home, vehicles, bank accounts and other property, without proving the guilt of the owner, most of the time without so much as even filing charges! S. 1931 doesn't go as far as a House bill passed last year, H.R. 1658, would to correct this situation, but it is a meaningful reform bill nonetheless. If S. 1931 fails, it will become harder to pass any forfeiture reform bill in the future, and an historic opportunity will have been lost.

Please forward this notice to friends of reform, or use the tell-a-friend form at http://www.drcnet.org/forfeiture/ to spread the word and increase the support for S. 1931. Organizations from across the political spectrum are supporting it, and collectively may have generated 20,000 e-mails to the Senate or more, and who knows how many letters, faxes and phone calls. S. 1931 has an excellent chance of passing, but only with participation from concerned citizens like yourselves.

A briefing published yesterday by policy.com provides further information on this important issues, available online at http://www.policy.com/news/dbrief/dbriefarc546.asp. Additional press clippings, including editorials endorsing S. 1931 in the Washington Post and the New York Times, can be found online at http://www.forfeiture.org.


2. Errata: Louisiana Incarceration, Helicopter Manufacturer

Last week's article on the most incarcerated state, Louisiana (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/126.html#louisianaprisons), accidentally listed the nationwide incarceration rate as 483 per 100,000, compared with Louisiana's rate of 736. According to criminal justice think tanks, including the Justice Policy Institute, the nationwide rate is in fact 674, and has now passed Russia, again taking first place.

Also, last week's editorial incorrectly identified the helicopter manufacturer in Rep. Gedjenson's district as "Shirosky Aircraft." The correct name is "Sikorsky."


3. Youth Is No Excuse: California Set to Vote on Prop. 21

Former California Governor Pete Wilson has departed the political scene, but his spirit lives on in a contentious ballot initiative whose fate will be decided in the state's election on March 7.

Proposition 21, officially titled the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative, is a far-ranging measure whose passage would usher in a "massive revision of California law and procedure affecting all aspects of juvenile justice processing and sentencing," according to the Washington, DC-based Justice Policy Institute, a project of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a private, non-profit think tank.

The initiative was spearheaded by then-Governor Wilson in 1998 after the California state legislature had rejected many of his other proposals. If passed, Prop. 21 would:

  • give prosecutors, not judges (as is now the procedure), the option to file juvenile cases in adult court;
  • push many more 14- and 15-year-olds into adult courts -- as many as 20,000 per year, according to the state's Association of Counties;
  • make it a lot easier for prosecutors to incarcerate children for non-criminal probation violations;
  • lower the threshold for felony vandalism from $10,000 to $400 in damages;
  • dilute confidentiality rights in juvenile proceedings by allowing schools and prospective employers to review juvenile court records;
  • greatly broaden the definition of a "gang" and create a death penalty for certain gang offenses;
  • extend the state's "three strikes" law to impose life sentences for a broader range of offenses.
Wilson's political ghost is hardly the only oddity surrounding Prop. 21. Voters will make their decision at a time when California's arrest rates for juvenile felonies have been declining steadily for eight years and are at their lowest levels in more than 30 years. Between 1991 and 1998, arrests of juveniles for murder fell by nearly 50 percent, according to the state's Department of Justice.

"Prop. 21 would do away with 100 years of juvenile justice in California whose basic premise was that children should be treated differently than adults," said Deborah Vargas, a policy analyst with the Justice Policy Institute's San Francisco office. "The measure does nothing to prevent crime, and its supporters have conveniently overlooked the fact that we can and do put away 14-year-old murderers and rapists in the state. California's juvenile justice system is already quite punitive." Under existing law, for example, anyone 16 or older with a prior felony automatically goes to adult court.

The measure would also be very pricey -- perhaps $5 billion dollars over the next decade. The legislative analyst's estimate is that Prop. 21 would come with one-time costs to the state of about $675 million and annual costs of around $300 million for the construction and operation of prisons. Local governments would likely incur one-time costs of $200 million to $300 million and annual local tabs between $10 million and $100 million dollars.

"Guess where that money would have to come from," notes Vargas. "If the measure passes, implementation would begin next January 1st -- 10 months from now. Since there's no funding provision in Prop. 21, money would come from schools and prevention programs." Such a transfer could be a case of throwing bad money after good. A 1996 study by the RAND Corporation found that crime prevention programs can be substantially more effective and less expensive than "three strikes" laws.

One of the many disturbing aspects of Prop. 21 is the broad net it casts. "It is designed to lock up thousands of teens who could be rehabilitated -- first-time offenders, gang wannabes, vandals, mixed-up kids who make dumb mistakes," according to a mid-January editorial in the San Jose Mercury News. Vargas agrees. "People need to realize that their kids and grandkids could be affected," she said. "The initiative, for instance, makes no distinction between robbery committed with a gun and a schoolyard bully leaning on someone for lunch money. If your child writes his name in wet cement, and the damage is more than $400 dollars, he or she could be in a lot of trouble."

The measure has galvanized a broad coalition in the state to work for its defeat. From the League of Women Voters and Los Angeles City Council to the University of California Student Association and child protection advocate Mark Klaas, opponents are working to build awareness of what Prop. 21 would mean. A youth campaign, http://www.SchoolsNotJails.com, has sprung up to oppose the proposition.

Drug policy reformers have nothing to cheer in the content and spirit of Prop. 21. Experts agree that it will fill prisons while debilitating already strapped prevention programs aimed at young people. It would give a big boost to the state's thriving prison industry and would in all likelihood function as an "advanced placement" program for careers in serious crime. With all the state's media noise about the race for the White House, Proposition 21 has mostly been swimming below the radar. "We don't need it, we can't afford it, and we could wind up with more crime if it becomes law," said the San Jose Mercury News. Californians concerned about the future of their children seem to agree.

DRCNet URGES OUR READERS TO GO TO THE POLLS ON TUESDAY, MARCH 7.

For more information about Prop. 21 and juvenile justice issues, visit the Justice Policy Institute web site at http://www.cjcj.org/jpi/.


4. Drug Czar Warns Legislators on Illinois Hemp Plan

With the prices of corn, soybeans and other commodities at their lowest levels in years, and the agricultural community taking an economic beating, twenty-one states have either passed or considered bills related to the legalization of industrial hemp. That was the case in Illinois this week as the Senate, by a vote of 49-9, passed a bill that would provide $375,000 for a two-year study by the University of Illinois on the potential benefits of hemp to that state's beleaguered farmers. The bill now goes to the House.

Barry McCaffrey, however, sees industrial hemp not as a boon to farmers but rather as a threat to the nation.

In a letter faxed Monday (2/28) to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), the White House "Drug Czar" warned against the House's adoption of the plan.

"The federal government is concerned that hemp cultivation may be a stalking-horse for the legalization of marijuana," McCaffrey wrote.

But state Senator Evelyn Bowles (D-Evansville) strongly disagrees with McCaffrey's assessment. Senator Bowles told The Week Online that she is disappointed in McCaffrey's interpretation of the bill.

"It is absolutely ludicrous to put that (drug-related) connotation on the intention of this bill," said Senator Bowles. "What we are trying to get done here is simply a study for the purpose of exploring a legitimate agricultural option. We hope to study all aspects of industrial hemp, from its economic potential for Illinois' farmers to the potential for growing hemp with zero THC. The agriculture departments at the Universities of Illinois and at Southern Illinois would undertake this study."

"Agriculture in Illinois is as depressed as it's been probably since the 1800's," Senator Bowles continued. "In looking at the industrial hemp issue, it has become apparent to me that it has the potential to be a definite positive as an alternative crop for farmers in our state. I would note that the Farm Bureau and the soil and water management people are very supportive of this study."

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, told The Week Online that the Speaker has not yet commented publicly on the letter.

"The Speaker has said that he is in receipt of the letter, and he has circulated it to the House, so that people can draw their own conclusions," he said.

Madigan, a conservative Democrat who has been a member of the House for 26 years, and Speaker for all but a brief time since 1983, doesn't want to influence his colleagues by taking a position until all the facts are before them. But according to Brown, he has not exactly been swayed by McCaffrey's take on the matter either.

"He (Madigan) wants to listen to the entire debate on the bill before coming to a decision," said Brown. "But the bill calls for a study by two prestigious universities, with all kinds of safeguards in place including low THC seeds from a secure source. Agriculture is an enormous industry in this state, and they're having a tough time. As far as we can tell, the people who want to see this passed have legitimate agricultural interests at stake here. The Speaker views this bill as a sincere effort to study industrial applications of hemp."

The Week Online has obtained a copy of McCaffrey's letter, which outlines the administration's concerns. In addition to the statement regarding hemp as a "stalking horse for marijuana legalization" (which appears in the letter in bold type), McCaffrey expresses concern about the impact of edible, low-THC hemp products on the reliability of drug testing. The letter reads in part:

"Over the past two years, the DEA has received information that sterilized cannabis seed, not solely bird seed, has been imported for the manufacture of food products intended for human consumption. DEA also learned from the Armed Forces and other federal agencies that individuals who tested positive for marijuana use subsequently raised their consumption of these food products as a defense against positive drug tests. Consequently, the Administration is reviewing the importation of cannabis seeds and oil because of their THC content. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is studying the effects of ingesting hemp products on urinalysis and other drug tests."

But Erwin Sholts, Director of Agricultural Development and Diversification for the state of Wisconsin, and Director of the North American Industrial Hemp Council told The Week Online that McCaffrey's rationale is less than compelling.

"Did you know that if you eat a poppy seed bun you'll test positive for opiates for the next four hours?" he said. "The saddest part of the federal government's campaign against industrial hemp is their dishonesty. This is not about drugs, it's not about marijuana, it's not about the counterculture. It's about farmers, and it's about a crop that is both useful and environmentally desirable. Dr. Paul G. Mahlberg, who was a primary researcher on the cannabis plant for the Bureau of Narcotics and the DEA for 34 years, joined the board of NAIHC and has been outspoken in opposition to much of what the government is now presenting as fact."

Dr. Mahlberg, from his office at the University of Indiana, told The Week Online that the DEA refuses to recognize or admit some basic, established truths regarding cannabis.

"According to the DEA, hemp is marijuana," said Dr. Mahlberg. "They don't recognize a substance called hemp, despite the fact that it is recognized the world over. They have their own little definition of what cannabis is. Also, the federal government's interpretation that industrial hemp leads to the abusive use of marijuana is incorrect for two reasons. First, hemp is low in THC and high in CDC, cannabidiol, while marijuana has the opposite distribution of these two agents. CDC, it must be stressed, is antagonistic to THC. In other words, the presence of high levels of CDC renders THC with little or no effect. Second, since these two plants (hemp and marijuana) are so closely related, they will cross-pollinate. This means that the presence of hemp being grown in an environment will degrade THC levels in the seed generation of any marijuana being grown in proximity to it."

Sholts is concerned that the administration's intransigence on industrial hemp will cause a lot more damage to the nation than any perceived problems stemming from its cultivation.

"The United Nations has said that within six years the world will be facing a fiber crisis," Sholts continued. "I had a study done several years ago by the US Forest Products Laboratory here in Madison. That report showed that six years from now, we'll have a market for hemp in Wisconsin large enough to support half a million acres of production. The DEA heard about that study and do you know what they did? They ordered me to take the name of the lab off of it. I can still distribute it, but they told me that I had to identify it only as coming from a 'distinguished federal researcher.' Ha."

"In Illinois, they're looking to do a study, and the feds come in to try and kill it. Here in Wisconsin, we are trying to pass a joint resolution of the House and Senate which simply says that if the federal government does get around to changing its policy on hemp, that the state will promote its cultivation. Now, you can't get much more benign than that. But the feds came in to try to kill that too. Out in Hawaii, where they passed a law to do a test crop, you know what they have? They have a quarter of an acre of hemp, inside a steel cage, with two guards circling the plot."

Hemp is being grown experimentally in Canada, England and Australia, is cultivated in Switzerland, China and elsewhere. The United Nations defines industrial hemp as having a THC level below 1%. The DEA, until recently, considered 0.3% THC as the upper limit, above which hemp seeds or other products could not be imported. On January 5 McCaffrey's agency sent a letter to customs agents and other officials, instructing them to set their new standard at 0% THC detectable. Research indicates that it is nearly impossible for humans to self-induce intoxication at levels anywhere below 2.5% THC.

But despite hemp's support among dozens of farm bureaus, agricultural associations, state legislatures and even the DEA's former lead researcher, McCaffrey has consistently dismissed hemp's potential as an industrial crop. In 1998, in response to a question about hemp, McCaffrey ridiculed the idea, saying that despite the support of "noted agronomists like (actor and hemp advocate) Woody Harrelson" he saw no evidence of any legitimate use for the crop. Sholts and others disagree.

"The first large scale uses of domestic hemp will be in the automotive industry, where it's already being used, as well as in carpets, building materials and the like," Sholts said. "You must remember that it does take some time to reintroduce a crop industrially. On the agricultural side, we have farmers across the country who desperately need a new crop. Cotton farmers who need a rotation crop. Corn and soybean farmers who can't get a decent price for their crops because we overproduce."

"There's an enormous groundswell of support among American farmers for the re-legalization of industrial hemp, and soon, possibly within a year, they're going to make a lot of noise at the federal level. And Barry McCaffrey is going to have a very tough time trying to stand up in the public arena against the American farmer."

Senator Bowles agrees.

"I'm very, very disappointed that General McCaffrey chose to somehow tie the issue of industrial hemp in with the drug issue," she said.

Asked whether she believes that McCaffrey's response represents bureaucratic flailing at shadows in the midst of a losing effort to hold together a failing mission, Senator Bowles quoted from a Chicago Sun-Times editorial from March 1st.

"The federal government is concerned that hemp cultivation may be 'a stalking horse for the legalization of marijuana,' McCaffrey wrote to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). That is typical overreaction from McCaffrey, commander-in-chief of the nation's costly but largely ineffective war on drugs."

Pressed as to whether she believes that General McCaffrey was, in fact, the front man for a failed policy, Senator Bowles paused. "I'll just say that the observation by the Sun-Times was on target," she said, adding, "I just wish that General McCaffrey had looked more closely at the real purpose of our hemp bill."


5. Michigan's Personal Responsibility Amendment Surges Ahead

Greg Schmid is no dreamer. An attorney from a prominent family in his hometown of Saginaw, he has a long history of successfully getting things done in the pragmatic world of electoral politics. His father, Allan, wrote the language for the first term limit initiative in the nation, passed by the voters of Michigan in 1992. Greg himself has been a driving force behind both the term limits initiative and the Tax Limitation Amendment, passed by Michigan voters in 1978. When it comes to changing state law at the ballot box, Greg Schmid knows exactly what it takes.

But in 1999, when Schmid proposed PRA 2000, the Personal Responsibility Amendment, it appeared that perhaps this proud libertarian had let his past success cloud his political judgment. After all, term limits are one thing, but the outright legalization of marijuana for private, personal use is quite another.

The amendment, as written, would make it legal for any Michigan adult (21 or older) to possess up to three ounces of processed marijuana, plus three mature plants, in the privacy of his or her own home. Marijuana must be kept secure and out of the sight of any minor. Marijuana for medicinal use could also be possessed, under a doctor's supervision, at any location outside the home, where a patient is residing for the purposes of bona-fide treatment.

But the legalization of marijuana is just part of the equation.

"The amendment will also take the corruptive influence out of asset forfeiture by redirecting seized assets out of the hands of the people who are seizing them, namely, the police," said Schmid. Section "D" of the amendment reads, in part:

Seized funds or assets "shall not be used for or by state or local law enforcement agencies or for any purpose other than voluntary Personal Responsibility Education Programs for domestic violence, gambling, drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse awareness and treatment."

Without money for polling, and therefore without any solid evidence of likely success save his own intuitive understanding of the Michigan voting public, Greg Schmid began making calls looking for backers. He knew then that he was unlikely to find much help, but he was prepared to go it alone, at least to start.

"The national organizations that have helped out with initiatives in other states have limited resources. I understand that," says Schmid. "When you have limited resources and you are trying to instigate systemic change, you have to deploy those very carefully.

"We need 302,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. More like 400,000 really, when you factor in a percentage of the signatures that will be declared invalid. Conventional wisdom says that you need a huge budget, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million in order to pay people to collect those. So I needed to find some leverage to allow us to succeed against the conventional wisdom."

A savvy political organizer, Schmid recognized the potential of the Internet to turn what would have once been a lost cause into a nearly unstoppable political machine.

"I knew that unlike taxes or term limits, marijuana was an issue that incites people's passions," Schmid said. My feeling was that if we could get enough committed volunteers, we could train, equip and organize them through the web site and e-mail. Well, I never could have imagined how right I was."

Schmid said the organization, the Personal Responsibility Amendment Committee, of which he is director, now has more than 2,000 volunteers.

"And more than 1,500 of them are online," he added.

Next, Schmid pulled a rabbit out of a hat. He petitioned the state to allow the use of a petition that could be downloaded as a PDF file, saving himself the time and expense of distributing tens of thousands of petitions to his signature collectors. The state agreed.

"The online petition printing gives us access to folks that we never hear from. People who would be reluctant to give us their address, people who might not have otherwise gotten involved. People can get active at their own speed. Now we're getting sacks full of signed petitions coming into the office."

Organizing is also easier online. "We have strong numbers in each of the 83 counties in the state. People who want to organize other petitioners to blanket an event just let me know, and I put their contact information out in our regular e-mail newsletter so that people in their area can get in touch. It's all working beautifully."

Schmid has until July 10 to turn in the required signatures, but up to this point, he has decided not to count them as they come in. Nevertheless, he is confident that the PRA will make it to the ballot.

"The volunteers that we have now are the real hard-core types. They're the people who've been out in the Michigan winter, at polling places during the primary. Signature gathering is really a warm weather sport. We're expecting to have a lot of new recruits in the next few months as the weather warms up. And now, we have 1,500 people online who know the routine, who can train and lead the new people. I am absolutely confident that we will get the signatures we need."

Signature gatherers are also doing double duty helping people to register to vote. Many of Schmid's volunteers are focusing on the 18-30 year-old crowd, that is less likely to have registered before. Michigan law counts signatures as valid as long as a signer's voter registration is postmarked by the day that they sign the petition.

And what does Schmid think of his chances of getting the amendment passed on Election Day?

"Most of the experts from around the country think that we're biting off a lot with this amendment. But Michigan is a funny state. We have a lot of libertarians here, a lot of gun owners who are wary of government intrusion into people's homes and lives. We also have a very strong Democratic base -- union people," he said.

"We've also written the amendment very carefully. The way I like to say it is that the amendment will keep marijuana away from kids, cars, the public and peddlers. We expressly forbid any commerce, which keeps the federal government out of the equation. I think that when people in Michigan read this, they'll see the sense. Personal responsibility, the idea that it is the individual who must make and live with the consequences of his or her own actions, has a lot of support in this state. I think that come election day, the people of Michigan might just make history."

To find out more about the PRA, or to volunteer, visit http://www.ballot2000.net.


6. News Release: Lindesmith Center Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Supreme Court Case Challenging Drug Testing of Pregnant Women

(press release from The Lindesmith Center, http://www.lindesmith.org)

The Lindesmith Center's Office of Legal Affairs, in conjunction with nearly two dozen medical and public health organizations submitted an amicus ("Friend of the Court") brief to the US Supreme Court in support of plaintiffs in Ferguson v. The City of Charleston.

Ferguson v. The City of Charleston challenges a policy designed and implemented by Charleston, South Carolina law enforcement officials whereby pregnant women who sought obstetrical care at the Medical University of South Carolina ("MUSC") were subjected to unwarranted, non-consensual drug testing designed and used to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of mothers who tested positive for cocaine. (MUSC is a state-funded hospital and the only medical facility in the Charleston area to treat indigent and Medicaid patients, a majority of whom are African-American.) When the policy was implemented, no drug treatment was available for pregnant or parenting women; mothers who tested positive at MUSC were simply jailed, often moments after giving birth.

Ten women who were arrested for testing positive, including nine women of color, challenged the policy on various constitutional and statutory grounds and are now asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn the Fourth Circuit's decision to uphold the policy. Plaintiffs believe the Fourth Circuit committed a significant Fourth Amendment interpretation error in adjudicating in favor of Defendants. Furthermore, this ruling, if allowed to stand, will severely corrode the trust that is the basis of the physician-patient relationship. Pregnant women will be deterred from seeing doctors, from talking candidly with them, and from consenting to medically advisable medical tests. Unfortunately, the women who are most likely to be deterred from obtaining medical treatment -- those most likely to test positive -- are also the women who would most benefit from attentive prenatal care. Such a policy departs from established and carefully considered medical standards for substance abuse treatment and prenatal care and is highly inimical to The Public Health.

The full text of the Lindesmith Center's brief is online at http://www.lindesmith.org/about_tlc/ferguson_fact.html.


7. Germany Legalizes Safe Injecting Rooms

The upper house of Germany's Parliament voted last Friday (2/25) to legalize safe injecting rooms (SIRs) for drug users in cities that have their state's approval for the programs. Under a compromise with conservative-led states, SIRs must offer counseling along with sterile syringes and other harm reduction services. The lower house approved the measure last Thursday.

Frankfurt public health director Werner Schneider hailed the vote as a victory in the struggle for more effective and humane drug policies. "The legalization of SIRs is a big success for German cities that have been developing harm reduction approaches over the last decade," he told The Week Online via e-mail. Frankfurt was the first city to implement injecting rooms in Germany, he said. Much of the research on the success of SIRs in reducing overdose and disease among drug users has been conducted at SIRs in Germany and Switzerland.

At least 13 injecting rooms have operated in several cities over the past ten years, illegally but with the tacit support of local police. Although the law opens the door for new programs, Schneider said some SIR advocates say the application process outlined in the law is too bureaucratic, and that the final decision of whether a program is allowed should be up to the city, not the state government.

In its annual report released last week, the United Nations International Drug Control Board warned that state-approved injection rooms might violate international drug control treaties. But public health experts, armed with studies that show SIRs work, may have the last word in this drug war skirmish. "The vote in Germany sends a very strong message to the international community in terms of drug policy reform, and against the drug war," Schneider said.


8. UK Police Report on Drug Prohibition Now Online

As reported in issue #123 of The Week Online (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/123.html#ukpolicereport), the Cleveland (UK) Police Force has issued a report highly critical of prohibition as a basis for drug policy. The report, signed by Chief Constable Brian Shaw, is now online at http://www.user1.netcarrier.com/~aahpat/ukpol.htm.

DRCNet highly recommends reading the report, which outlines the problems, from a police and societal perspective, inherent in a policy of punitive prohibition and calls for high-level debate into the very underpinnings of a failed policy.


9. Free Charles Garrett Campaign at Critical Juncture

In 1970, Charles Edward Garrett, an African American man from Texas, was sentenced to life in prison for possession of two grams of heroin. Garrett, at the time addicted, anticipated an unjust sentence from the all-white jury, fled. Starting a new life, Garrett beat his addiction, joined the working world and started a family.

In 1998, Garrett was arrested by Texas authorities. Though current law does not provide for this harsh a sentence for the offense, prosecuting attorneys refused to go along with a defense motion that would have allowed Garrett to serve a term of community service instead of incarceration. Garrett began to serve his life sentence, leaving behind his wife and two year old daughter, Ernestine.

Texas governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush may or may not have used illegal drugs during his youth at the time Garrett was originally sentenced; he has only guaranteed his abstinence as far back as 1974, and refuses to answer regarding the years before. Bush, who has increased drug penalties during his tenure as governor, has the power to grant Garrett clemency. Garrett's lawyers have filed an appeal with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which could be ruled on at any time.

Please visit http://www.freecharlesgarrett.org/ to sign an electronic petition calling for his release, and/or write to:

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Attn: Mr. Gerald Garrett, Chairman
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711-3401
Remember, you are writing an appeal for an individual case of clemency, so please limit the content of your letter to calling for basic justice. Don't talk about the drug war, Gov. Bush's history, racism or other issues; the board members to whom you are writing couldn't do anything about those things if they wanted. There will be plenty of time to discuss those issues in the larger venue of the media once he is freed. Most of all, please make your letters polite; the board members and the governor hold Charles Garrett's fate in their hands.


10. DARE Program and Zero Tolerance School Drug Policies Discussed in Media

A Feb. 18 article in Mother Jones, Drug Mistreatment, examines the problem of teens without serious drug problems being forced into drug treatment programs by schools, parents, or the courts. Education researchers have raised concerns that removing young people to the periphery of the educational community may multiply, rather solve their problems, and that scarce treatment slots may be taken away from those truly in need. Drug Mistreatment, by Jake Ginsky, can be read online at http://www.motherjones.com/news_wire/rehab.html.

The Feb. 27 issue of the Detroit News included a special report on the DARE program. "DARE -- Failing Our Kids" -- examines the controversial program, its documented failure, and discusses its popularity in the face of ineffectiveness and alternatives. "DARE -- Failing Our Kids" can be found online at http://www.detnews.com/specialreports/2000/dare/.

These and other drug education and youth issues are discussed in depth at http://www.cerd.org, web site of the Center for Educational Research and Development.


11. EVENTS: New York, Washington

March 3-4, New York, NY, "Latinos in the US: The Evolving Relationship with Latin America." The Latin American Law Students Association presents the Second Annual Latino Law Symposium, addressing the historic, complex and growing relations between Latinos in the United States and Latin America. Panels and debates will focus on the drug war, immigration, law and development, and the 2000 US Census. The drug war panel will take place Saturday, March 4 from 3:00-5:00pm, and will feature journalists Mario Menendez and Al Giordano, Ethan Nadelmann of The Lindesmith Center, Winifred Tate of the Washington Office on Latin America, former drug war prisoner Anthony Pappa, and retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks. Admission to the symposium is free. All Panels will be held in Room L107, William and June Warren Hall, 1125 Amsterdam Avenue, between 115th and 116th streets. Dinner and Lunch will be held at Lenfest Cafe, Columbia Law School, 435 W. 116th Street, corner of Amsterdam. For further info, contact [email protected].

March 17-18, New York, NY, "Is Our Drug Policy Effective? Are There Alternatives?," a two-day multidisciplinary conference presented by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York Academy of Sciences. Featured speakers will include Nicholas de B. Katzenbach, former US Attorney General, Kurt L. Schmoke, former Mayor of Baltimore, Robert Sweet, US District Court Judge, Southern District of New York, Edward H. Jurith, General Counsel, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sally Satel, Psychiatrist, David Musto, Yale University, Robert Newman, Continuum Health Partners and many others.

Advance registration (by 3/13) is $30 or $20/day; on site $20/day, includes lunch; send check made out to Send check made out to NYAS to: Henry Moss, NYAS, 2 E. 63rd Street, New York NY 10021. March 17 will be held at 1216 5th Ave. at 103rd St., March 18 will be held at 42 W. 44th St. For further information, contact Jefferson Fish at (718) 990-1547, Valerie Vande Panne at (212) 362-1964 or Henry Moss at (212) 838-0230 ext. 410.

May 17-20, Washington, DC, the 13th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform, sponsored by the Drug Policy Foundation. Visit http://www.dpf.org or call (202) 537-5005 for further information. The deadline for scholarship requests is Monday, April 3.

March 14, 4:00-6:00pm, New York, NY, seminar at The Lindesmith Center: "Let's Get Real: New Directions in Drug Education." Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, director, The Lindesmith Center West and Lynn Zimmer, PhD, professor of sociology, Queens College, CUNY, critique traditional models of drug education. Rosenbaum, author of Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens, Drugs, and Drug Education (1999), and Zimmer, coauthor of Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence (1999), examine new directions for educating teenagers about drugs.

March 30, 4:00-6:00pm, New York, NY, seminar at The Lindesmith Center: "MDMA ('Ecstasy') Research: When Science and Politics Collide." Julie Holland, MD, attending psychiatrist, Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Room and faculty, NYU School of Medicine, John P. Morgan, MD, professor of pharmacology, City College of New York, and Rick Doblin, president, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and PhD candidate, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, assess scientific and political efforts to conduct MDMA research in the US and abroad.

(Lindesmith Center Seminars are held at the Open Society Institute, 400 West 59th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues), 3rd Floor. Call (212)548-0695 or e-mail [email protected] to reserve a place.)


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