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

Issue #131, 3/31/00

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

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  1. ON CAMPUS: HEA Reform Campaign Gains Support
  2. Colombia Package Passes House Through Opposition, Moves to Senate
  3. Interview with Sylvester Salcedo
  4. Senate Passes Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill Unanimously
  5. New York City Update
  6. Amherst Voters Approve Referendum to "Deprioritize" Marijuana Enforcement
  7. UK: Police Foundation Report Calls for Marijuana Decrim, Lower Penalties for Other Drugs
  8. Newsbriefs
  9. on Maine Medical Marijuana, Netherlands Drug Policy
  10. EDITORIAL: War On Us All
(visit the last Week Online)

1. ON CAMPUS: HEA Reform Campaign Gains Support

Over the past ten days, the campaign to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act has gained the support of student governments at Yale University, University of Texas at Austin and Douglas College at Rutgers University as well as by the Association of Big Ten Schools. The drug provision, which denies or delays financial aid eligibility to any student for any drug conviction, goes into effect this year.

At Yale, the student association not only called for repeal, but also urged the school's administration to make up for any financial aid lost to the new law.

A more complete update on the HEA campaign will appear in The Week Online next week.

To learn more about the campaign, or to find out how to get involved, visit and on the web.

2. Colombia Package Passes House Through Opposition, Moves to Senate

On Thursday, March 29, the House of Representatives was expected to vote on and pass an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill (H.R. 3908), including a $1.7 billion anti-drug assistance package to Colombia and its Latin American neighbors, championed by drug czar Barry McCaffrey and some conservatives in Congress. Amendments that would have eliminated the Colombia package, or stripped out the military component, were rejected on the House floor on Wednesday.

The Colombia package has been more controversial that its proponents expected, however, and human rights, Latin America and drug policy reform advocates were encouraged by the degree of opposition shown on both sides of the Congressional aisle. Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) held a press conference with Sylvester Salcedo, a retired Navy Lt. Commander who has come out against the drug war, and Ramstad presented an amendment to eliminate the Colombia package (see interview below).

The Ramstad amendment received 158 votes in favor, 89 Democratic, 68 Republican and 1 independent. (Visit to see who voted for and against.) An amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), eliminating the military portions, received 186 votes, 127 Democratic, 58 Republican and one independent (results at

The appropriations bill now moves to the Senate, where it is facing opposition from Sen. Trent Lott, who says he is opposed to various additional spending having been included and that he wants it to be debated during the usual appropriations session next fall. Sources report that the package could easily come back sooner, even as soon as Tuesday.

Please visit to write your Senators in opposition to the Colombian drug war funding.

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation has released a four-page briefing paper about the current state of drug trafficking and drug control in Colombia and the proposed anti-drug aid package, online at Rep. Ramstad's statement is available on his web site at, click on the March 21 link.

3. Interview with Sylvester Salcedo

When Sylvester Salcedo, a 43-year old Lieutenant Commander retired from the US Naval Reserve, heard about the administration's Colombia initiative, he decided to make a statement. Salcedo, a veteran of anti-drug operations and a recipient of a Navy achievement medal, decided to return his medal to President Clinton in protest.

The Week Online interviewed Salcedo. We print the interview here, followed by the text of Salcedo's letter and some links for further military perspectives on drug policy.

WOL: Tell us a little bit about your background.

SS: In short, I was born in Minnesota, in 1956, 43 years ago. I was raised in the Philippines from age 2 to 12, which is roughly 1959 to 1969, and then I came back here to the states, to the Massachusetts area, where I finished 8th grade and high school and college. And then I joined the Navy, getting my commission from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and then I did my first active duty sea tour in the Navy, which is about 4 years. After that I returned home to Boston, and I got a job teaching Spanish in the Boston Public Schools, for almost three years. And in the meantime, I had joined the Naval Reserve Intelligence Program, beginning in 1984, did the teaching, and then I resigned from the job and started a home based business. From there, I went back to active duty in 1990-1991, as a student at the Naval War College for a year, and from there I went to law school, '91 to '94. After graduating from law school, I had a year off and went back to the Navy for the last 2 1/2 years, a year ago, and then was retired from the Navy after 20 years of combined active duty and reserve tours in April of '99. And since that period, I've really just been a stay at home husband, and have done some research and reading, following up on the issue of the war on drugs and issues on addiction and prison population and those sorts of issues.

WOL: Tell us about your involvement in the drug war in the military.

SS: Basically I had found out about JTF6, which stands for Joint Task Force Six, and that�s a joint military command, which means it includes all branches of the military, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and it's the branch of the Dept. of Defense that provides reservists to go on training missions in support of various federal law enforcement agencies who specifically work in prosecuting the so-called war on drugs. So that would be the whole alphabet soup of federal agencies, beginning with ATF, FBI, DEA, US Border Patrol, US Forest Service and many others. My involvement is I did five six-month rotational tours, beginning with a tour in New York with the FBI, followed by six months in Puerto Rico with US Customs, and then back to New York, with the New York-New Jersey HIDTA, which stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and then I went to Miami, with something called the South Florida Investigative Support Center, and then back to New York with US Customs for my last tour.

Specifically what I did there, there is this issue of non-disclosure agreement, we're not supposed to talk about what we did specifically, in terms of projects we may have worked on, or name sources and methods or that sort of thing. But I guess in general, for the listening public, it really boils down to analysis of information that's already under the control of these different law enforcement agencies. So in other words, we in the military didn't have to collect this information. It was already there in the possession of these different law enforcement agencies, and all we did is assist them in sorting through it and doing analysis with it and helping them out that way.

WOL: Tell us about the action you took earlier this year.

SS: I returned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal that was awarded to me for my performance during the tours I did with JTF6. I returned it to President Clinton as a protest of the current national drug policy, and specifically by the news, that I read in the paper, that President Clinton was pushing for added and expanded involvement in Colombia, with very active US counternarcotics missions in Colombia to the tune of $1.3 billion, which since then has ballooned to $1.7 billion. Not all of that money is for military purposes, but certainly a good 85% of it is. My fear is that this will lead us down a path that will not be desirable to be in, that it will suck us into Colombia's 40-year old civil war.

WOL: Do you see this aid as having any consequences, positive or negative, for Colombia?

SS: From our perspective in the US, I cannot see how this would make sense for us to take this step. The announcement made by the Clinton administration was that this military aid was going to be directed strictly toward counternarcotics operations, efforts to cut off the supply at its source, through crop eradication or interdiction. In the meantime, they're also saying none of this money is going to be used for counterinsurgency efforts. To me, that on its face does not make sense. How can you with any reasonable sense of expectation, believe that in the heat of battle that with the bullets flying around and your fellow soldiers getting killed, that you're going to actually yell out and stop and say oh, time out, these guys are wearing their guerrilla suits today, and we can't shoot and kill them because we�re only allowed to do that when they're in their narcotics growing roles? It's ludicrous. My fear is we are paying for an impossible military mission to be carried out, and it's insane.

If we are really serious about trying to face the drug use and drug abuse issues of the United States, my proposal to the President and to the Republican majority in Congress is that we dedicate this money towards the issues that we can control and manage here in the US, which is addressing the needs of the more than 5 million hardcore drug addict population, as a first step. And then secondly, to look at more common sense views to address people in terms of curbing the use, curbing the abuse, and having preventive measures and programs that will actually address this very serious community to national problem.

We can't do this by laying the blame on other people elsewhere in the world, and saying, oh, they grow it over there, therefore we're going to go over there and destroy all their growing fields and destroy all their ships that come and ship it to our shores. The experience that I've gone through tells me that we will never be successful, no matter how much money we spend, even if we went on an all out war on this, because at the end of the day, the main enemy is ourselves. It is our own citizens who have an insatiable and voracious appetite for these illegal narcotics. We can continue to cause violence and death in other people's countries [through these drug war policies], but we're not going to solve the issue unless we face our own problems here at home.

WOL: Has President Clinton responded to your letter?

SS: No, regretfully he has not. I've made every attempt, and I certainly will try again in the next couple of weeks, to contact the person to whom I mailed it, but I have not heard directly or indirectly back.

WOL: Is there anything you'd like to add?

SS: I would like to repeat my appeal to the President and to the Republican members of Congress to look seriously at this policy. I cannot understand why the Clinton administration can convince itself that by throwing military support and helicopters and war materials to the Colombian Army and National Police, that they can be successful either in eradicating the coca and poppy fields, or in defeating these guerrillas on the battlefield. I just don't see it happening.

(The following is the text of Salcedo's letter to President Clinton on returning his medal.)
January 26, 2000
The Honorable William J. Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20502

Dear President Clinton:

I am returning the enclosed Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal to you in protest of your administration's current national drug policy. Specifically, I would urge you to cancel your emergency spending proposal of $1.3 billion over the next two years to expand the American military involvement in Colombia for counter drug operations.

In my opinion, narcotics use and abuse is our problem here at home. The solutions should be applied here and not in Colombia or elsewhere. To spend this additional amount of money overseas is wasteful and counterproductive.

Instead I urge you to review and consider the drug policy under the Nixon administration that emphasized treatment on demand and prevention, not interdiction, arrest and incarceration, to address this national public health issue and its consequences as encountered by individuals, families and communities across our great country. It was a policy that worked. It was a policy that brought down crime rates without mass arrests and long prison terms. It was a policy that did not send more and more men and women, especially from our minority communities, to jail. It was a policy that is worth a second look today.

I implore you to call for an end to the war on drugs as we know it today. I implore you to call for peace and treatment for those in need of help to overcome substance abuse. I implore you to call for peace, compassion and amnesty for those jailed by draconian drug laws to reunite families and rebuild communities. Most of all, I implore you to call for peace and an immediate nationwide review and dialogue, at the national to neighborhood level, about the destructiveness and senselessness of the current American federal narcotics prohibition policies and practices.

Very Respectfully,

Sylvester L. Salcedo

Salcedo joins a number of former military in speaking out against the drug war. In 1997, Col. Robert H. Dowd published The Enemy is Us: How to Defeat Drug Abuse and End the 'War on Drugs'. Joseph Miranda, a former instructor at the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center, writes about the drug war frequently and authored "War on Drugs: Military Perspectives and Problems" for DRCNet, online at

The Week Online interviewed Timothy Dunn, a scholar of the militarization of the US-Mexico border, in February 1999, online at

4. Senate Passes Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill Unanimously

With little fanfare and no opposition, a watered-down version of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act passed the Senate unanimously this week.

Years in the making, the Act, sponsored in the Senate by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), shifts the burden of proof from the property owner to the federal government when the police seeks to seize property linked to crimes such as drug trafficking.

Supported by a wide spectrum of groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association, the original bill sponsored in the House by Reps. Hyde and Conyers, which passed last June by vote of 375 to 48, was amended to assuage the concerns of the Justice Department and law enforcement interests.

The bill's latest incarnation, S. 1931, will go back to the House for a final look-over before rapid implementation. "Rep. Hyde may be able to avoid a conference committee by getting the House to agree to the compromise version," predicted Brenda Grantland, president of Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (FEAR), a group that advocates for civil forfeiture reform at both state and federal levels. "This would speed up the effective date of the new law. Since [Attorney General] Janet Reno agreed to this compromise, it presumably has the President's support, and should be signed into law without further ado after the different versions are reconciled."

The biggest change in the bill had to do with the burden of proof the government has to shoulder in forfeiture proceedings. The House version of the bill stated that the government must have "clear and convincing evidence" that property is being used in an illegal act. Currently, the burden of proof rests entirely with the property owner.

But the Clinton Justice Department said that "clear and convincing evidence" sets too high a bar for federal prosecutors. House and Senate lawmakers Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch and Henry Hyde met last week with Attorney General Janet Reno to work out a compromise that now states the government must make its case "by a preponderance of the evidence."

Rachel King, who worked on the bill for the ACLU, told The Week Online, "We certainly would have liked a stronger bill, but I think it is amazing we got anything through the Senate."

Other property owner protections the bill provides include: enabling a judge to release property to the owner if continued government possession poses a substantial hardship; extending the time a property owner has to challenge a seizure in court; ending the requirement that a person seeking to recover property post a bond with the court; and providing for court-appointed counsel to represent indigent property owners.

The court-appointed counsel provision and the elimination of the cost bond were important victories for reformers. "This will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for poor and middle class forfeiture victims -- particularly innocent owners -- and will force the US Attorney's Office to take a look at the merits of the case, instead of having the seizing agency win most cases by default when the claimant fails to file a claim and cost bond on time," said Grantland.

Still, FEAR is not completely pleased with the bill as it stands. "The Hyde bill, the one that was passed by the house, isn't perfect, but it is much better than this," Grantland said. "Hyde needed to make compromises to make sure the president wouldn't veto the bill. We think 'clear and convincing evidence' is required because (forfeiture) is punishment." Still, she added, "'Preponderance' will make sure more people are able to go to trial, because there won't be as many cases in which judges grant summary judgments for the government based on the flimsy burden of proof the government has to show. Now, the government will have to go to court over these cases and they're not going to want to go to the trouble over these $1,000 seizures."

Why would law enforcement agree to such a law? "They got concessions on the other end," Grantland said. "In exchange for protecting innocent people and giving them due process, they're taking away some of the advantages that criminal defendants who have their property seized have. It is leveling the playing field; taking away some of the advantages that criminal defendants have in criminal forfeiture and increasing the protections for people not charged with a crime."

King doesn't see this reform as much of a concession, and noted, "They [DOJ] were losing on this and they tried to cut their losses as much as they could." But, King continued, "they still have way more power than they should have."

When asked whether the unanimous passage of this bill signified a change in the war on drugs, Jonathan Lamy, an aide to Senator Leahy, told The Week Online, "I think it signifies everyone was concerned about overzealous confiscation of property. The question was finding the right balance between law enforcement and property owners."

With the passage of this legislation, FEAR is not finished with their work. They want to take law enforcement back in time to 1984, a time before our current drug civil forfeiture statutes were passed, enabling, as Grantland put it, "The cops to keep the proceeds. It became an overnight boom industry for the cops. The ones seizing property getting to keep it is a total conflict of interest. That's going to be the hardest battle of all, because the cops are well funded from assets they've seized."

5. New York City Update

Violence broke out last Saturday (3/25) between police and attendees of the funeral of Patrick Dorismond. Dorismond, 26, was shot and killed by a New York City Police officer on March 16 during a marijuana "buy and bust" operation in mid-town. Dorismond was unarmed, was not selling and did not possess any marijuana (see

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has continued to take heat this week for his characterization of Dorismond as "not an altar boy," based upon Dorismond's minor criminal record including an arrest, for which no charges were filed, at the age of 13. Protesters and others, including former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, have called for the resignation of Mayor Giuliani and/or Police Commissioner Howard Safir for their release of those juvenile records, which had been sealed by court order.

Meanwhile, on Monday (3/27), a New York City undercover officer, with gun drawn, chased a suspect in a street-level marijuana sale into a schoolyard filled with hundreds of elementary school children. The children screamed and fled and one child fell to the ground and was slightly injured. The officer, along with at least three backup officers, subdued the suspect and placed him under arrest. Parents of the students at Public School 305 in Brooklyn, were outraged.

"The drug dealers have no business being near our school, but the cops had no right to draw their guns," parent Quienna Green told the New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, Mayor Giuliani said that he was "very concerned" about the reports and Wednesday, the officer who initially pursued the suspect was put on a desk job. The NYC Police Department would not release the officer's name due to the fact that he works undercover.

Reports from the scene, however, indicate that other officers involved in the chase also entered the playground with guns drawn. "There were four to five men running in, and every one seemed to have a gun in their hand," school aide Bonita Anderson told the Daily News.

6. Amherst Voters Approve Referendum to "Deprioritize" Marijuana Enforcement

Amherst, MA: Amherst voters approved a non-binding referendum on March 28 that asks local police to "deprioritize" marijuana enforcement and also urges state and federal lawmakers to repeal anti-marijuana laws. The vote, which passed with 1,659 in favor and 981 against, is the second time Amherst voters have passed such a measure -- in 1976, a town meeting approved an article calling for marijuana legalization.

The question voters approved reads: "Shall the following proposal be passed? In Affirmation and expansion of the Amherst Town Meeting vote of May 12, 1976 (Article 52, Part 2), we urge the members of the Selectboard and the Town Manager to persuade our state representative, state senator, U.S. representative and U.S. senators to repeal the prohibition of marijuana; and, in the interim, before repeal has been effected, we urge the Amherst Police Department to deprioritize the enforcement of laws covering the possession of marijuana against persons over the age of eighteen."

In addition to the proposal, Anne Awad, an employee of the Massachusetts Board of Public Health and a supporter of the marijuana proposal, beat incumbent Hill Boss in the race for a seat on the Amherst Select Board 2189 to 1429. Awad's position on the marijuana proposal gained her strong support among Amherst students. Turnout was 20.4%, which is considered strong.

"I don't know anyone who believes that arresting people for simple possession of marijuana is less harmful for them than marijuana itself, said Richard Evans, Esq., who serves on the boards of directors of both DRCNet and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Most people recognize that the worst thing about marijuana for adults is that it can get you arrested."

Visit the U-Mass Amherst Cannabis Reform Coalition, one of the organizations that petitioned to get the referendum on the ballot, at Further information is available on the MassLive web site, at

7. UK: Police Foundation Report Calls for Marijuana Decrim, Lower Penalties for Other Drugs

A blue-ribbon study commissioned by Britain's Police Foundation, an independent think tank, has concluded that criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana and other drugs should be lowered drastically, but government spokesmen were quick to announce they had no intention of following the report's suggestions.

"Drugs and the Law," released this week after two years of research, found that the problems associated with marijuana's illegal status outweighed its relative health risks, especially when those risks were compared to the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco. The report recommends that marijuana be downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug, carrying no jail sentence and a maximum fine of UKP500 for possession.

The report also recommends that LSD and Ecstasy, currently Class A drugs along with heroin and cocaine, be downgraded to Class B, and that the penalty for their possession be a fine no greater than UKP1000. As for heroin and cocaine, the report suggests that the possession or use of these drugs be punishable by no more than one year in jail; currently, persons convicted of possessing Class A drugs face jail terms as long as seven years. Penalties should be raised for higher-level drug dealing, providing children with drugs and drug-related violence.

Ultimately, the study concluded that law enforcement resources are better focused on the investigation and prosecution of drug dealers, not users, and that the drug policy pursued by the UK since the passage of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act had resulted in greater harms from drug abuse and the criminalization of unacceptably large numbers of people.

In effect, "Imprisonment is neither a proportionate response to the vast majority of possession offences nor an effective response," the report reads. The report cited the success of the Netherlands in that country's pursuit of decriminalization and harm reduction strategies as one possible model.

The panel commissioned for the report by the Police Foundation, which is headed by Prince Charles, included top representatives from Britain's law enforcement, legal, and academic communities.

But the report's recommendations drew immediate resistance from the government. A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair told The Independent newspaper that Blair believes "it would send the worst possible signal if we were to soften our laws in the way being suggested." Blair's "Drug Czar" Keith Hellawell and the Home Office echoed those sentiments, and assured that no steps would be taken to revise or reduce the drug laws.

Paul Flynn, a Labour MP who serves as joint-vice-chair on Parliament's Drugs Misuse all party group, gave The Week Online one explanation for the government's dismissal of the report. "The Government are hooked on the belief that there is a harvest of votes in the election in appearing to be 'tough' not 'soft'" on drugs, Flynn said via e-mail this week. However, he said, "The report is very good news and has been warmly received by the press. It will be extremely difficult in future for the Government to misrepresent what has happened in the Netherlands."

Flynn said the report's recommendations are worded similarly to a bill coming up for a second reading in Parliament on June 9.

8. Newsbriefs

Unanimous Pro-Fourth Amendment Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court reined in some of the government's power to stop and search people based on anonymous tips, according to the Associated Press. In a unanimous ruling this past Tuesday (3/28), the court found that Miami police violated a juvenile's Fourth Amendment rights in 1995, when arresting him for gun possession after an anonymous caller claimed someone matching his description had a concealed weapon. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court, "The question is whether an anonymous tip... is, without more, sufficient to justify a police officer's stop and frisk of that person. We hold that it is not."

Ginsburg also wrote, "That the allegation... turned out to be correct does not suggest that the officers prior to the frisks had a reasonable basis for suspecting J.L. of engaging in unlawful conduct. The reasonableness of official suspicion must be measured by what the officers knew before they conducted their search." Ginsburg added that allowing such searches "would enable any person seeking to harass another to set in motion an intrusive, embarrassing police search of the targeted person simply by placing an anonymous call."

Vermont Methadone Patient Killed, Son Injured in Crash During Long Trek to Nearest Massachusetts Clinic

A Vermont woman, Linda Clark, was killed in an auto accident and her son critically injured last Saturday morning during a 400 mile round-trip drive to the closest methadone treatment program in Springfield, Massachusetts, according to Seven Days Newspaper in Vermont ( Clark made the journey several times a week, due to a Vermont law banning methadone. The Vermont House is currently considering a bill, opposed by Governor Dean, that would permit methadone and other pharmacotherapies for treatment of opiate addiction (see

9. on Maine Medical Marijuana, Netherlands Drug Policy

Earlier this week, the online magazine interviewed Mark Dion, a Cumberland County, Maine sheriff who is supporting marijuana distribution by the state drug enforcement agency to medical marijuana patients, in the wake of the state's successful medical marijuana ballot initiative. See to read it.

A 3/13 Salon article discussed "the Netherlands' drug policy of tolerance and ambiguity." Read the article at in the Salon archive.

10. EDITORIAL: War On Us All

Adam J. Smith, Associate Director, [email protected]

Patrick Dorismond, a 26 year-old father of two, was shot to death by an undercover New York City police officer last week in Midtown Manhattan. Dorismond and a friend, who were unarmed and doing nothing illegal, were apparently singled out for an attempted "buy and bust" simply because they were two young black guys standing in front of a bar.

New York's mayor and Senatorial candidate Rudolph Giuliani has received plenty of attention for his nearly incomprehensible handling of the situation -- failing to express sympathy to the family, unsealing Dorismond's juvenile records (one arrest at age 13) and generally blaming the victim despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on Dorismond's part. But the furor over the mayor's response, as well as the growing sense of outrage at the New York City police in general has tended to overshadow the fact that incidents like this are almost unavoidable as we attempt to enforce an unenforceable prohibition.

Protesters took to the streets in Denver recently after a 65 year-old grandfather of nine was shot and killed in his home during a "no-knock" drug raid on the wrong house. In Houston, Pedro Oregon Navarro, age 22, was killed in a similar incident. 18 year-old Esequiel Hernandez was shot and killed while herding his family's goats on the US-Mexican border when he was mistaken for a smuggler by United States Marines on a four-day surveillance mission.

Corruption is another unavoidable cost of prohibition. In Los Angeles, the city is putting off all new spending priorities. Rather they are saving the money to pay civil damages to victims of the biggest corruption scandal in the city's history. Other cities and towns, including Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver have also recently learned that lesson.

And what is the upside? That's difficult to say. Last week, upon the release of yet another annual "Drug Strategy" seeking yet another increase in drug war funding, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey told the nation that we are "winning the war." But the fine print in that document revealed that today, illicit drugs on our streets are less expensive, more pure and move available than they have ever been.

Strict enforcement of the drug laws has forced the trade indoors, or, in some instances, just further into the shadows. If police are to continue to log arrests, they must increasingly rely on no-knock warrants secured with information garnered from informants -- or resort to buy and bust operations -- or even sell and bust operations. These practices are dangerous, and not only for innocent civilians like Patrick Dorismond, but also for the police.

But even these tactics, it seems, are having no impact in making drugs less available on our streets and, the black market being unregulated, to our kids.

In the end, we can protest all we want. And we can convene grand juries to hear evidence against police who, in the line of this fruitless duty, make tragic errors. And we can keep reading about police corruption scandals, and we can build bigger and better internal affairs divisions. But we're only fooling ourselves. Because unless and until we are willing to face reality, we will continue to bury innocents, and we will continue to find corruption. And we will continue to hear chipper bureaucrats like Barry McCaffrey talk about "progress" while the drug trade rages on, out of control, within easy reach of our kids.

It is time to face that reality. It is time to dispense with the rhetoric and to take a hard look at the very premise of our "drug control" strategy. It is time for a responsible society to take control of these substances and to bring them back under the rule of law. Before the rule of law, through violence and corruption, can no longer be distinguished. And before we bury the next Patrick Dorismond, and the next, and the next...

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