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

Issue #129, 3/17/00

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

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  1. House Panel Okays Colombia Aid, Nixes Drug Treatment Funds, Floor Vote Postponed
  2. "Dump Judge Judy" Campaign Heats Up, Chronic Pain Patients Join Coalition
  3. Alerts: Colombia, Forfeiture, Hawaii Medical Marijuana
  4. Marijuana Heart Risk Unlikely to be Significant, Says Expert
  5. Maryland Medical Marijuana Bill Defeated -- This Time
  6. New Racial Justice Coalition in California, Angered by Governor's Veto, Seeks Passage of Racial Profiling Bill
  7. Newsbriefs
  8. NO MORE PRISONS Hip Hop CD Available at Record Stores
  9. Peter McWilliams Update -- Some Supporting Letters Lost in Computer Crash, Requests Resend
  10. "Just Say Know" Conference Tapes Online
  11. Events: New York, Washington, Toronto
  12. Editorial: Positioning the Nation for Progress -- Not
(visit the last Week Online) (visit the last Week Online)

1. House Panel Okays Colombia Aid, Nixes Drug Treatment Funds, Floor Vote Postponed

The House Appropriations Committee last week (3/9) approved $1.7 billion in aid to Colombia -- primarily military aid -- which constituted a $500 million increase over the Clinton Administration's request. The same day, the Committee rejected a proposed $1.3 billion prevention and treatment package put forward by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the committee, expressed her concern to reporters. "They want a military solution," she said. "We want a humanitarian solution to the war on drugs. The discussion is not over."

But the debate, in committee at any rate, was certainly over as the Colombian package was approved by a vote of 33-13. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who joined Pelosi in dissent, sought to have $552 million in military aid held over until the next session, rather than added to the aid package immediately. Obey, however was also rebuffed.

"I think you must have confidence in your president," taunted Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL), referring to Clinton's support for military aid to Colombia. "Your lack of confidence in your president is stunning to me."

"I elect my president every four years to be my leader," replied Obey. "But I do not elect my president to do my thinking for me."

The Colombia package was scheduled for a vote on the House floor yesterday (3/15), but has been postponed. The vote may take place on Tuesday.

Commentator Arianna Huffington criticized the Colombia package and analyzed the financial interests that have influenced it, in a syndicated column published Tuesday, online at

2. "Dump Judge Judy" Campaign Heats Up, Chronic Pain Patients Join Coalition

As reported in last week's issue of the Week Online (, a campaign aimed at sponsors of the Judge Judy show has heated up following DRCNet's launch of the web site ( responds to remarks made by the popular TV judge while on book tour in Australia, calling needle exchange an idea promoted by "liberal morons" and suggesting instead to "give 'em (addicts) dirty needles and let 'em die" and "I don't understand why we think it's important to keep them alive."

Following our publishing of last week's article, 200 supporters of needle exchange and sensible drug policy reform have used to write to companies advertising on the Judge Judy show. Though promises to drop the advertising have not yet been received, our supporters have received correspondence back and the matter appears to be under consideration by a number of companies. allows visitors to send e-mail to certain advertisers on the show, to sign a petition to their state legislators in support of needle exchange, and includes substantive information about needle exchange and who supports it, as well as responses Australians have written to Judge Judy, and Judge Judy's own statements on the subject, with our responses. Recent coverage of the campaign now includes the New York Post, the Newark Star Ledger and the Star Telegraph in Australia.

PLEASE HELP US KEEP THE PRESSURE UP. This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring this important drug policy and public health issue into the fore of the popular debate. Your participation here relates directly to how much publicity and how much grassroots support the site can attract. Please visit and add your voice to the chorus.

We are pleased to report that our campaign has been joined by members of the American Society for Action on Pain ( According to ASAP's James Murphy, "Last Month, Judge Judy had a Chronic Pain Patient on her show and unfairly threw out her case because she takes pain medicine. The fact that the girl takes medicine has nothing to do with her lawsuit, but Judge Judy made a bunch of terrible comments to her, called her names and basically told her the case was not even going to be judged on anything except her medication. She accused her of being an 'addict' just because she needs pain medicine. For this reason, the tens of millions of chronic pain patients in this country are being asked to boycott Judge Judy, until a formal apology is given by her to us."

The undertreatment of pain is one of the worst consequences of the drug war, and it is one where such behavior by a public figure can have a direct impact on the quality of life of some pain patients. Following the Sixty Minutes report on the Hurwitz case in 1996 (see, one patient posted to the ASAP list that her family, who had been unsupportive of her using narcotics to control severe chronic pain, finally understood -- because they saw it on TV!

Conversely, when the star of a popular show humiliates a pain patient and foments such uninformed prejudice against the use of legally prescribed narcotics, it has the potential to adversely some pain patients' family relationships. This incident, which occurred not on a book talk on Australia but on US television reaching millions of people, may be even worse for that reason. Over the next week DRCNet will be adding a section for pain patient advocates to

Unrelated, but of interest to the campaign, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz called the Judge Judy show a "disgrace," writing in the Jewish World Daily last week. The editorial is online at

Read about the undertreatment of pain and the drug war at Read more about AIDS and the drug war at


3. Alerts: Colombia, Forfeiture, Hawaii Medical Marijuana


As happens so often in Congress, the vote on the Colombia drug war bill has gotten postponed. The next predicted date is this coming Tuesday, March 21. If you haven't acted on this yet, please visit to let your US Representative and your two Senators know you oppose escalating Colombia's drug war and you oppose funding the most abusive military in the hemisphere, just as that troubled nation begins to take its first steps toward peace.

When we distributed our Colombia alert a few days ago, we did not yet know what number was attached to the bill. It has now been assigned number H.R. 3908. We erroneously stated the bill was being voted on by the "full Congress." Actually it was scheduled to be voted on only by the "full House," as opposed to the committee that passed it last week; a Senate vote has not yet been scheduled, but probably won't be far off if it passes in the House. Please accept our apologies for the error.

When you are done sending your e-mail, please call your Representative on the phone -- write down the phone number when our system provides it, or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be transferred. And please use our "tell-a-friend" form on the web site to let others know about this terribly dangerous bill that must be stopped.

Asset Forfeiture

As previously reported the Judiciary Committee's vote on the S. 1931, to reform asset forfeiture law, was postponed again, this time until 3/23. Please visit to write to your two Senators. While you are there, please also call them on the phone, and use the "tell-a-friend" form to spread the word about this positive bill that needs to be passed. It is an historic opportunity to begin to rein in the unjust forfeiture laws; if S. 1931 fails, it will be harder to pass any forfeiture reform legislation in the future. The House overwhelmingly passed a forfeiture reform bill last year, Henry Hyde's H.R. 1658. For further information, visit

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Legislation

As reported last week, Hawaii's House and Senate have both passed medical marijuana legislation. Now the House bill must go through the Senate and the Senate bill through the House. If you live in Hawaii, please visit to write your legislators -- though the bills passed once already, we mustn't be complacent and count on it happening easily the second time. The governor has been supportive of medical marijuana and is certain to sign a medical marijuana when it gets to his desk. Let's make sure that happens!

4. Marijuana Heart Risk Unlikely to be Significant, Says Expert

EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week, The Week Online ran a short overview of three new marijuana studies. Two of the studies, one from the UK that confirmed the benefits of marijuana in treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and one from Spain indicating that THC might play a significant role in actually shrinking certain brain tumors, received little attention from the US media. The third, a report out of Harvard University that claimed an increased risk of heart attack within an hour of smoking, was front-page news across the country. Due to time constraints, we were unable to delve deeper into this report.

In the past week, we have received numerous e-mails from concerned readers asking about the validity of the report. This week, The Week Online spoke with Dr. Lester Grinspoon, also of Harvard. Dr. Grinspoon is one of the world's foremost marijuana researchers and is author of several books including the seminal "Marihuana Reconsidered."

Below is the overview that appeared in last week's issue, followed by our interview with Dr. Grinspoon, conducted March 15.

from The Week Online, Issue #128:

A study presented this week by Dr. Murray A. Middleman at the American Heart Association's annual conference on cardiovascular disease in San Diego, showed that smoking marijuana significantly raises the risk of heart attack in people already at risk through heart disease.

Dr. Middleman noted that marijuana's tendency to increase heart rates in reclining smokers, and for those rates to drop precipitously when the individual stands up, may pose significant risks for people with coronary disease. The group studied 3,882 heart attack sufferers, of which 124 were marijuana users. Of those, 37 claimed to have used marijuana within 24 hours of their heart attack, and 9 had used it within the previous hour. The risk, said the researchers, was 4.8 times higher than normal within an hour of smoking, but dropped precipitously to 1.7 times normal risk by the second hour.

Interview with Lester Grinspoon:

WOL: Dr. Grinspoon, what is your assessment of the Middleman report?

Dr. Grinspoon: (Laughs). I've been getting phone calls all week about it. I even spoke with Dr. Middleman this week to ask him for his report. It has not yet been written. In fact, he does have an abstract. Now, let me say that since 1967 there have been numerous reports and studies, each of which the American media has blown out of all proportion, stating one or another supposed ill effect of marijuana use. I can list them, if you'd like. 'Increase in the size of the ventricles, decrease in testosterone, destruction of chromosomes.' All were front-page stories, none of them have ever been replicated. In other words, they didn't pan out scientifically. Of course, the studies that contradicted them ended up on page 31 or thereabouts, if they got mentioned at all.

WOL: So you don't give much weight to Dr. Middleman's findings?

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, I would point out that out of 3,882 patients, we're talking about 9 who used marijuana within an hour of the onset of a heart attack. That's around 0.2%. By sheer mathematics, given that people sleep eight hours per day or so, we can deduce that 6.7% of those patients emptied their bowels within an hour of onset. It's incredible to me that the numbers here could be said to constitute a significant risk factor.

WOL: Dr. Middleman said in an interview that he believes that it is the increased heart rate from smoking marijuana that is responsible.

Dr. Grinspoon: Yes, and he put that increase at 40 beats per minute. In truth, that number is closer to 20 beats per minute, which is probably consistent with running up the stairs in one's house.

WOL: So you disagree with Dr. Middleman's characterization of the risk as 'significant'?

Dr. Grinspoon: First, let me say that I blame the media far more than I do Dr. Middleman. I read his abstract, and in its conclusion he cautioned against making too much of the data. Conceivably, there is some risk, although if there is, it is barely measurable. Even assuming that the data presented is right, one must still wait to see if it can be replicated.

WOL: You seem to be pretty skeptical about the chances of that happening.

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, in 1997, Kaiser Permanente did a large-scale study which included more than 65,000 admitted marijuana users, and they could not demonstrate any impact of marijuana use on mortality. If marijuana use really was a significant risk factor for heart attack, it is hard to believe that it didn't turn up there. Again, I'm not saying that there is absolutely no risk demonstrated here. But given the history of the research since 1967, I'd be surprised if these findings don't go down the same chute as all of the other front-page scare stories.

NOTE: In the April, 1997 edition of The American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Stephen Sidney writes about a long-term (12-year) study undertaken by Kaiser Permanente -- a medical insurer/provider, therefore an entity with a fiduciary interest in the integrity of the results -- into the mortality rates of marijuana smokers. The study population comprised 65,171 subjects aged 15 through 49 years. Conclusion: Marijuana use had little effect on non-AIDS mortality in men and on total mortality in women (Am J Public Health. 1997;87:585-590).

5. Maryland Medical Marijuana Bill Defeated -- This Time

update from the Marijuana Policy Project,

On the evening of Friday, March 10, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee killed the medical marijuana bill (H.B. 308) by an 11-7 vote.

Del. Don Murphy (R-Baltimore County & Howard County), the sponsor of the bill, vowed to reintroduce the measure in November 2000 so that it could be at the top of the legislature's agenda when the next legislative session begins in January 2001. "As far as I'm concerned, the medical marijuana bill will be House Bill 1 next year," said Murphy.

Del. Ann Marie Doory (D-Baltimore City), vice-chair of the committee, started the debate by moving to give the bill an "unfavorable" vote. "I just can't get past the fact that it's against federal law," said Doory, referring to the fact that marijuana possession would remain a federal crime even if Maryland state law were changed. (In saying this, she was overlooking the fact that passing H.B. 308 would protect patients from being arrested under state law, which is responsible for 99% of marijuana prosecutions.)

Del. Murphy responded by asking committee members to vote against the "unfavorable" motion in order to give the committee the opportunity to amend the bill, thereby keeping the bill alive.

In an impassioned plea to his 21 colleagues, Del. Murphy said "there are 21 different reasons to vote against the bill, but there are five million good reasons to vote for it," referring to the approximately five million people who live in Maryland. He argued that Maryland is a high-risk state for cancer, and that any one of them who gets cancer might need to use marijuana as a medicine.

"This is the only instance I can think of where the victims are also the perpetrators of the crime," said Murphy, referring to patients who are forced to break the law.

Del. Dana Dembrow (D-Montgomery County), a cosponsor of H.B. 308, argued that the bill didn't even need to be amended, referring to the bill as virtually "perfect."

Del. Pauline Menes (D-Prince George's County & Montgomery County), another supporter of the bill, said that "everything we deal with is crime and punishment. Isn't it nice to have the opportunity to vote for life?"

Delegates Lisa Gladden (D) and Kenneth Montague (D), both from Baltimore City, also spoke glowingly about the bill.

"The way that my colleagues were talking, I thought I was listening to the eulogy at my own funeral," Murphy said after the vote.

In addition to the five delegates who spoke in favor of the bill -- Dembrow, Gladden, Menes, Montague, and Murphy -- Delegates Sharon Grosfeld (D-Montgomery County) and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) also voted in favor of the bill.

The 11 committee members who voted against the bill are listed below. In addition, two delegates abstained from voting (including the chairman, who traditionally does not vote), and two delegates were not present when the vote was taken.

Ultimately, the bill was defeated because the Democratic leadership -- including Joseph Vallario, the committee chairman -- didn't want to have to vote on the bill on the House floor. "At 7:49 p.m., this bill succumbed to politics," said Murphy.


If you are going to contact your state legislators to tell them what you think of the committee vote, please be respectful. MPP believes it is likely that enough committee members can be persuaded to vote "yes" on the bill next time around to get the 12 committee votes that are needed to send the bill to the House floor.


The following seven committee members voted in favor of the bill by voting "no" on the "unfavorable" motion:

Del. Dana Dembrow (D-Montgomery County), a cosponsor of H.B. 308
Del. Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore City)
Del. Sharon Grosfeld (D-Montgomery County)
Del. Pauline Menes (D-Prince George's County & Montgomery County)
Del. Kenneth Montague (D-Baltimore City), a cosponsor of H.B. 308
Del. Donald Murphy (R-Baltimore County & Howard County), sponsor of H.B. 308
Del. Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County)
The following 11 committee members voted against the bill by voting "yes" on the "unfavorable" motion:
Carmen Amedori (R-Carroll County)
Charles Barkley (D-Montgomery County)
David Boschert (R-Anne Arundel County)
William Cole (D-Baltimore City)
Ann Marie Doory (D-Baltimore City), vice-chair of the committee
Joseph Getty (R-Carroll County)
John Giannetti (D-Howard County & Prince George's County)
Thomas Hutchins (R-Charles County)
Kevin Kelly (D-Allegany County)
Anthony O'Donnell (R-Calvert County & St. Mary's County)
Carol Petzold (D-Montgomery County)
The following two committee members were not in the room at the time of the vote:
Melony Griffith (D-Prince George's County)
David Valderrama (D-Prince George's County), a cosponsor of H.B. 308
The following two committee members abstained from voting:
Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County & Baltimore City)
Joseph Vallario (D-Prince George's County), chair of the committee
For further information, visit

6. New Racial Justice Coalition in California, Angered by Governor's Veto, Seeks Passage of Racial Profiling Bill

from the ACLU News,

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 3/13: The American Civil Liberties Union and other major civil rights, grass roots and community organizations announced the formation of a Racial Justice Coalition to address racial profiling by police through a series of statewide town hall meetings and a demonstration in Sacramento next month.

The coalition was founded in the wake of Governor Gray Davis's veto last September of a law requiring law enforcement to collect data on the race and ethnicity of people stopped by the police, in an effort to counter the phenomenon of racial profiling, known familiarly as "Driving While Black or Brown" (see

Although the bill passed by a two-thirds majority in the California Legislature, Gov. Davis vetoed the measure, saying that he did not believe racial profiling is a serious problem in California. The bill was reintroduced by State Senator Kevin Murray, the author of the original bill, on January 24th of this year.

"Governor Davis' veto was an insult to people of color in California," said Michelle Alexander, Director of the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU. "If Governor Davis doesn't know that racial profiling is a serious problem in this state, then he doesn't know the people he claims to represent."

"On the other hand," she added, "if Governor Davis does know that racial profiling is a serious problem, he apparently lacks the moral and political courage to do something about it. Either way, we refuse to accept his veto."

Members of the broad-based coalition include the state ACLU affiliates, California State Conference of NAACP Branches (California NAACP), California League of United Latin American Citizens (California LULAC), the California Urban League, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Asian Law Caucus, La Raza Centro Legal, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area (LCCR), United Farm Workers (UFW), and numerous local organizations.

Walter Wilson, Legislative Director of the California NAACP, said that there are few African American men alive today who haven't been affected in some way by this "DWBB."

"Racial profiling is not a figment of our imagination," he said. "If Governor Davis thinks that we are going to forget this veto, he's wrong. We won't rest until discriminatory police practices are part of the distant past. The question is what side of history Governor Davis wants to be on."

Commenting on Davis' attempt to soften the impact of his veto by encouraging "voluntary" data collection, Van Jones, Executive Director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said, "His message to law enforcement was loud and clear: Protecting the civil rights of people of color is optional. We disagree. Protecting the civil rights of all people should be mandatory."

The coalition plans to hold town hall meetings on the issue in cities across California, including San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno, Monterey, Los Angeles and San Diego.

"We are organizing town hall meetings throughout California to give a voice to Latinos, African-Americans and others who have been targeted and harassed by law enforcement on the basis of race," said Marcos Contreras, Statewide Director of California LULAC. "Latinos are routinely targeted by law enforcement, whether they live in the cities or rural areas. Governor Davis turned his back on Latinos last year, by refusing to sign the bill. He has a second chance to do the right thing, and we will be watching him."

In addition, on April 27, the coalition is sponsoring a demonstration at the State Capitol in Sacramento, demanding that Governor Davis sign the new racial profiling bill when it reaches his desk this year.

"We are organizing a demonstration at the state capital to demonstrate the political power of our communities, and to send Governor Davis the message that we will not tolerate his deliberate indifference," said Renee Saucedo, a staff attorney at La Raza Centro Legal.

"The only good thing about Governor Davis' veto is that it inspired the formation of this new, powerful coalition," added the ACLU's Alexander. "The collective power of communities of color has been grossly underestimated. But like a sleeping giant, we are waking up. Ready or not, here we come."

A schedule of the town hall meetings in California can be found online at

7. Newsbriefs

Mexican Presidential Candidate Says Ruling Party Tied to Drug Trade

Vincente Fox, the presidential candidate of the right-of-center National Action Party charged in an interview with Reuters News Service that the ruling RPI party is in league with drug cartels. "They have negotiated with the narcos, and many PRI members have been jailed for being narcos," said Fox. "It's very naive to think that a president of the republic belonging to the Institutional Revolutionary Party will sort out drug trafficking."

Iowa House Votes to Ban Paraphernalia

The Iowa House of Representatives voted 84-7 last week to create a criminal offense for the possession of a wide variety of items it terms drug paraphernalia. Rep. Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), who opposed the measure -- which does not require the presence of any drug residue -- as being far too broad, told colleagues, "I've got enough objects on my desk that I could be busted right now. This bill is so general that I don't think there's a household item that you couldn't claim to be drug paraphernalia." But Rep. Clel Baudler, (R-Greenfield) spoke for the majority of legislators, saying "Folks, we're in a drug war, and (this bill) will give officers in the front line a tool in this fight."

8. NO MORE PRISONS Hip Hop CD Available at Record Stores

The Prison Moratorium Project & Raptivism Records announce the release of the NO MORE PRISONS Hip Hop Compilation CD, which is available TODAY at record stores (Tower, Virgin, HMV, Warehouse, etc.) in New York City, Boston, Chicago and California, as well as online (,

The CD, recorded to educate the public about prison expansion and raise funds for activism, contains 23 original tracks and features more than 70 artists, including Group Home, Apani, Last Emperor, Cocoa Brovas, Grandmaster Caz, Hurricane G, dead prez, Danny Hoch, Prof. Cornel West, Daddy-O, Edo G., Vinia Mojica, Last Poets, Kool DJ EQ, OGC, Chubb Rock & more.

Prison Moratorium Project and Raptivism are also sponsoring a 40-city NO MORE PRISONS "raptivist" tour to raise awareness, publicize the CD and provide training to young prison activists. The tour will feature experienced young organizers and artists from the CD who will be available for conferences, workshops, trainings, spoken-word performances and hip hop show.

For further information contact Kevin Pranis at [email protected] or visit

9. Peter McWilliams Update -- Some Supporting Letters Lost in Computer Crash, Requests Resend

In our February 4th update, we printed a plea from author Peter McWilliams for supporting letters to send to the Judge who will be sentencing him. McWilliams has reported that some of the letters sent by e-mail were lost in a computer crash, and asks that supporters resend them.

McWilliams writes: "If you received a LONG e-mail thank you from me, I have your e-mail. If you did NOT receive a LONG e-mail thank you from me, your e-mail went down with the Titanic, my name for the crash incident." And "I have all letters sent by fax and regular mail."

If you believe your letter was among those that were lost, McWilliams requests: "If you have a stored copy of the e-mail letter you sent (usually in the SENT folder of your e-mail program), please forward it to me. If you did not include a complete mailing address (PO Box addresses are fine), please add it. If you do not have a copy of the e-mail you sent, a single sentence asking for 'home detention' is all that is necessary. Please begin the letters, 'Dear Judge King,' and kindly include the phrase 'You have my permission to reformat, modify, and sign this letter.'"

We reprint Peter McWilliams original call for help, and ask your support for him. You can subscribe to McWilliams' e-mail distribution list by visiting and clicking on "Add Your Name to My E-mail List."


Please help keep me out of federal prison by writing a letter to the judge

My name is Peter McWilliams. I am a cancer survivor living with AIDS. I was arrested in July 1998 on federal medical marijuana charges, even though I live in California, a state that approved medical marijuana use in 1996.

In November 1999, the federal prosecutors success fully obtained an order prohibiting me from mentioning to the jury that I have AIDS, that marijuana is medicine, that the federal government supplies eight patients with medical marijuana each month, or that California has a law permitting the very act that I was accused of violating.

As I never denied my medical marijuana cultivation, that left me with no defense whatsoever. To avoid an almost certain guilty verdict and a ten-year mandatory-minimum sentence, I pled guilty to a lesser charge. (The whole story is at My sentencing for this charge will be on March 27, 2000. The deadline for turning in letters of support is February 20, 2000.

Would you please take the time to send a letter, or a fax, or even an e-mail, to the judge on my behalf? It would make all the difference in my world.

The letter need not be long or eloquent. One sentence is sufficient.

The judge can sentence me to 0 to 5 years. The federal sentencing guidelines place my recommended (but not mandatory) sentence in the 5-year range. It is probably unavoidable that I get a sentenced to some time -- perhaps the full five years.

What I am asking the judge -- and what I am asking you to ask the judge -- is that I be able to serve my sentence under "home detention," also known as "electronic monitoring." (An electronic transmitter would be permanently fastened to my ankle and my whereabouts would be monitored 24 hours a day. I would not be able to leave my home except for medical or court appointments. As I live in Los Angeles, this will allow me to write my books, including Galileo LA.)

In writing the Judge King, please observe these commonsense guidelines:

Please be respectful. The judge owes me, or you, nothing. You are asking for a favor. When Judge King was asked to allow me to use medical marijuana while out on bail, he said to the attorneys on both sides, in a voice trembling with compassion, "I am struggling mightily with this. Please, struggle with me." Alas, there was nothing in federal law that permitted him to allow me to break federal law, even to save my life, but I believed the sincerity of his struggle. Personally, I don't want judges rewriting law as they see fit. Judge King is a good judge upholding a bad law. My sentence, however, is at his discretion. I believe he will be fair, that he will read the letter you send, and he will be moved by your heartfelt request. I believe we owe courtesy to the King.

Please focus on my health ( and my contributions to society (through my books -- as reasons why I should receive home detention or electronic monitoring (the term can be used interchangeably). The legal arguments will be made by my attorney.

If you know me, please say so, and state any positive character traits you may have noticed wafting by from time to time. (This letter is not written under oath, so you will not be arrested for perjury.)

If you have read any of my books, please say so. If they helped you, please say how. (Exception: Please do not mention "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." See 5.)

Please do not give your opinion of the War on Drugs (unless you're in favor of it), how the government treated me in this case (unless you approve), your views on medical marijuana (unless you're against it), or anything else critical of the status quo. Save those remarks, however well-reasoned and accurate, for letters-to-the-editor. Such comments may be counterproductive in a letter to a federal judge.

If you can, please keep the letter to one page, and no longer than two.

Actual letters (those things made popular in the last millennium, printed on paper, put into envelopes, and sent through the Post Office) are best. Typed is better, but handwritten is fine. Please use the most impressive letterhead to which you have legitimate access. (Your business stationery is better than your personal stationery, for example.) If you don't have stationery, you can create a letterhead on any word processor in about two minutes.

Please address the letters to "The Honorable George H. King" and begin the letter "Dear Judge King,". Please mail the letters TO ME at: Peter McWilliams, 8165 Mannix Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90046.

If you know you're probably not going to get around to writing a letter (and I know just how you feel -- I don't know where to find an envelope any more, much less a stamp -- please send a fax (signed, on letterhead, if possible, but if not, that's fine) to (323) 650-1541.

If you think you might not get around to sending a fax, please send an e-mail. Please write at the bottom of the e-mail "You have my permission to reformat this letter, print it, and sign my name at the bottom." Your name will be signed for you, next to which will be the initials of the person signing it. Please include your complete mailing address. The e-mail address is [email protected].

Finally, please circulate this request as widely as you can -- post it on bulletin boards, send it to receptive people on your e-mail list, send it out in newsletters, put it on your web page. Kindly use your creativity, but, please, no spamming.

If you cannot post the entire message of this missive, the online address of this request is

Thank you from the bottom of my weary but very grateful heart.

Peter McWilliams
[email protected]

10. "Just Say Know" Conference Tapes Online

On October 29th, 1999 The Lindesmith Center - West held a conference in San Francisco entitled "Just Say Know: New Directions in Drug Education." Attended by parents, students, educators and administrators, this conference took a fresh look at drug education programs here in the US, as well as Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Recordings of this conference are available online at

11. Events: New York, Washington, Toronto

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.

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. (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.)

May 10-13, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 9th International Conference on Penal Abolition. At Ryerson Polytechnic Metropolitan United Church, $200 CND (agency), $140 CND (individual), $40 low-income, negotiable. Visit for info and to register.

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

12. Editorial: Positioning the Nation for Progress -- Not

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

At a conference today (3/17) at the New York Academy of Medicine, a representative of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is expected to give the audience -- much of which will consist of reformers -- a preview of the soon to be released year 2000 National Drug Control Strategy -- to be titled, we are told, "Positioning the Nation for Progress."

The obvious question is why, after 86 years of drug prohibition, three decades under the current "war on drugs" and nearly twenty years since the coining of the term "drug czar," is the nation only now being "positioned for progress"?

The next most obvious question is why, given that differences between the "new" strategy and previous strategies are likely to be rhetorical at most, rather than substantive, should we expect progress to be made this year when the previous decades have failed to demonstrate such progress?

Could it be that after decades of promising that "this year" will be the year of glory after all the preceding years of failure, the government has decided it can no longer make that claim with a straight face? And hence decided to make a more indirect promise -- that this year will be the year, not when we see progress, but when we successfully prepare for progress to be made in some other future year? Maybe a future after the current drug czar has left office and the spotlight and doesn't have to answer if the same policies fail once again?

Expect a few new "buzz words," but don't expect any truly original policy proposals, and don't expect an honest or meaningful discussion of drug policy, not from the federal government. And don't expect progress or even being "positioned for progress," in the absence of fundamental reform.

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