(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)
Issue #151, 9/15/00
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
Phillip S. Smith, Editor
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
the Week Online archives)
1. California Medical Marijuana: One Step Forward, One Step Back in Federal Courts
The festering low-intensity conflict between California and the federal government over medical marijuana has resulted in two notable federal court rulings in recent weeks. The rulings, one by a US District Court and one by the Supreme Court, send seemingly contradictory messages, but more than anything they indicate that the battle will probably drag on for years to come.
First, at the request of the Clinton administration, on August 29th the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay barring the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Co-operative from distributing marijuana to its patient members. The stay at least temporarily overturned a decision last month by US District Court Judge Charles Breyer allowing the club to go about its business.
But the Supreme Court decision was more a slap in the face to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which had directed Breyer to issue the ruling. Breyer had earlier forbade the club from operating, but was overruled by the 9th Circuit when the club appealed. The appeals court found that "medical necessity" was a "legally cognizable defense" to prosecution under federal marijuana laws.
Despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth among some in the drug reform movement, the Supreme Court's decision does not mean that any distribution of medical marijuana is banned or that the court has found Proposition 215, which legalizes the medical use of marijuana in California, unconstitutional.
In fact, Jeff Jones of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Co-op, the direct target of the stay, told DRCNet he considers it "a small bump in the road."
"We've been wrangling with them for 2 1/2 years," said Jones. "They're trying to shut down our ability to help patients."
"This is by no means the final word," Jones continued. "This is a stay while the 9th Circuit reconsiders its decision. The government is appealing Breyer's decision and the stay will be in force only until then."
As for those who worry that the Supreme Court stay signals a looming federal crackdown in the state, Jones scoffs. "The feds have had several years and haven't tried anything. They know they can't take a medical marijuana case before a jury. They'd lose."
Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court's action, meanwhile, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the federal government cannot investigate, penalize, or prosecute doctors who prescribe marijuana to patients.
US District Court Judge William Alsup issued a permanent injunction barring the federal government from revoking a physician's license to prescribe drugs "merely because the doctor prescribes medical marijuana to a patient based on a sincere medical judgment."
Alsup wrote that the order applies even if "the physician anticipates that the recommendation will, in turn, be used by the patient to obtain marijuana in violation of federal law."
As of press time, the Justice Department had not announced whether it plans to appeal the ruling, although given the administration's intractable opposition to medical marijuana, such an appeal is highly likely.
The ruling came in Conant v. McCaffrey, now a class-action lawsuit originally filed by a group of California doctors and patients after drug czar Barry McCaffrey threatened to yank the licenses of doctors prescribing marijuana.
Graham Boyd of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represents the plaintiffs, told CNN that the ruling was "quite significant." Although only one California physician was actually questioned by the DEA before an earlier preliminary ruling discouraged such attempted intimidation, Boyd told CNN the threat had "a chilling effect."
By threatening to prosecute doctors considering marijuana as a treatment, the government effectively discouraged doctors from discussing that option with AIDS and cancer patients, Boyd said.
2. Supreme Court's Apprendi Ruling Results in More Sentence Reductions, Ramifications Still Uncertain, Could Affect Thousands
The Supreme Court's little-noticed June 26th ruling in Apprendi v. New Jersey looms larger and larger by the week, and it is throwing an ever-deepening shadow over current federal sentencing structures.
As DRCNet previously reported, in the Apprendi case the Supreme Court struck down a hate-crime sentence enhanced beyond the statutory maximum by factors weighed by a judge instead of proven by a jury (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/147.html#fedstremble). But the decision's real impact is being felt in federal drug cases, where judges have traditionally enhanced sentences based on the amount of drugs in question.
In brief, Apprendi said any sentencing enhancements beyond the statutory maximum for a given crime must be proven before a jury. The federal courts have traditionally relied on juries to find defendants guilty of a drug offense, but then sentenced defendants based on drug amounts asserted by the prosecution but not weighed by the jury.
Apprendi has thrown this scheme into doubt. The Supreme Court has sent one case back to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals (the eastern Rockies and far Midwest) for reconsideration in light of Apprendi, and judges in the 3rd District US Court of Appeals (mid-Atlantic area) are already handing out lighter sentences in the wake of the decision. The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals has already thrown out an enhanced sentence.
Even the Justice Department now concedes that Apprendi applies to sentencing calculations based on drug quantities, a spokesman told the San Francisco Examiner.
This week, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, covering California and eight other Western states, joined the stampede. The court overturned marijuana grower Kayle Nordby's 10-year minimum sentence, holding that he was only eligible for a maximum of five years. In the Nordby case, the sentencing judge enhanced his sentence by finding that he was responsible for more than 1000 plants, a fact not proven by a jury.
The Nordby decision is binding throughout the 9th Circuit, but so far applies only to those defendants appealing their convictions and those who are yet to go to trial. Whether Apprendi will apply retroactively to those prisoners who wish to reopen their cases remains unsettled and will probably require another Supreme Court ruling. If Apprendi can be applied retroactively, it has the potential to affect nearly half a million federal drug cases filed since 1989.
Not all courts are interpreting Apprendi as the 6th and 9th Circuits have. University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky told the Examiner that some 36 federal and state court decisions have grappled with Apprendi as of the end of August. In many of those decisions, said Chemerinsky, courts have ruled that violations of Apprendi were only "harmless error," usually because defendants had admitted the elements of the crime.
Still, the 9th Circuit's Nordby decision is already having an impact. Prosecutors in Sacramento this Friday will ask a judge to sentence defendant Javier Mora to a lesser sentence "in light of Apprendi." And federal drug prosecutors are now beginning to include drug quantities in indictments and will present them to be proven before juries.
Intentionally or not, the Supreme Court appears to have embarked on a course that could well result in the demolition of current federal sentencing structures and the reduction of sentences for tens of thousands of drug war prisoners.
3. Colombia: For Clinton, Drug War Trumps Human Rights, Light at End of Tunnel Recedes Even as War Effort Gets Underway
In a move that starkly illustrates US priorities in Colombia, on August 23rd President Clinton formally waived human rights conditions attached to the $1.3 billion military aid package destined to help the Colombian military wage war against drug traffickers and peasant-based leftist guerrillas.
The conditions, inserted at the insistence of congressional liberals, would have blocked the aid package if the US government could not certify that that Colombia was in compliance with them. To comply, the Colombian military would have had to hold itself to minimal human rights standards and rein in its bloody-handed de facto allies, the paramilitary death squads, which now do most of the military's dirty work.
Prior to Clinton's decision, administration officials engaged in a frantic effort to spin the implicit admission that the Colombian military's hands are too dirty too pass muster.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy's Brad Hittle, for example, told the AP that, "You don't hold up the major objective to achieve the minor."
But what is the "minor" objective to which Hittle refers? Simply put, it is that the Colombian military and paramilitaries stop beating, raping, torturing, jailing, kidnapping, disappearing, and massacring unarmed, non-combatant Colombian citizens.
José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, condemned the waiver as "the wrong policy and the wrong time. The message is that the bad apples with the armed forces shouldn't be worried. Ultimately, the waiver defeats the purpose of any policy meant to improve human rights."
Even the State Department acknowledged the horrendous state of human rights in Colombia. In its latest annual report on human rights in Colombia, released in February, the department wrote the following:
"The Government's human rights record remained poor; there was some improvement in several areas, and the Pastrana administration took measures to initiate structural reform, but serious problems remain. Government forces continued to commit numerous, serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, at a level that was roughly similar to that of 1998. Despite some prosecutions and convictions, the authorities rarely brought officers of the security forces and the police charged with human rights offenses to justice, and impunity remains a problem. At times the security forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed abuses; in some instances, individual members of the security forces actively collaborated with members of paramilitary groups by passing them through roadblocks, sharing intelligence, and providing them with ammunition. Paramilitary forces find a ready support base within the military and police, as well as local civilian elites in many areas."
(The complete text of the State Department report is online at: http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1999_hrp_report/colombia.html)
The State Department's bland, bloodless language cannot disguise the grim realities that hide behind euphemisms such as "extrajudicial killings." Those wishing to see where their tax dollars are going and who have strong stomachs can check out the much more critical and detailed reports from such well-respected human rights monitoring groups as Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/wr2k/americas-03.htm) and Amnesty International (http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/colombia/).
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recognized that Colombia could not meet the conditions "under any circumstances," and recommended that Clinton waive them.
In remarks broadly representative of the human rights community's reaction, the Latin American Working Group's Lisa Haugaard told DRCNet, "We are very disappointed that President Clinton chose to immediately waive the human rights conditions. The State Department made the correct determination that Colombia could not meet those conditions," said Haugaard, "but granting an immediate waiver without using those conditions to pressure the Colombian government shows how human rights concerns have taken a back seat to the drug war."
The reaction from congressional liberals who demanded the conditions in the first place, however, has been muted. Senators Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) blasted Clinton's decision. Wellstone called Clinton's commitment to human rights "mere rhetoric," but otherwise the silence has been deafening.
For Haugaard, this lack of congressional reaction only underscores the importance of voters keeping up the pressure on Congress. "It's important for people to let members of Congress know how disappointed they are and to express concern about the waiver and let members know how displeased they are," she told DRCNet.
"There will be plenty of opportunities to revisit this issue," Haugaard added. "Certification will come up again for the FY 2001 appropriation before January. And, of course, they'll be back next year asking for more, because this isn't going away."
Indeed. In fact, even as Clinton's war plans move into high gear, the endgame in Colombia recedes into the far distance. The influential Jane's Defense Weekly (London) reported last week that the aid package "falls significantly short of operational needs and will do little to improve Colombia's ability to successfully wage war against the drug cartels."
Jane's also reported that the FARC, the most powerful guerrilla group with some 17,000 combatants, is now arming more fighters and purchasing surface-to-air missiles for use against US-supplied Black Hawk and Huey helicopters.
And in a press briefing last week, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and other administration officials began the delicate task of explaining why, despite a $1.3 billion investment, things are going to get worse instead of better in the medium term.
Pickering explained that it will take two years for all the US military equipment to arrive in Colombia and that cocaine production there is expected "get worse" for several years.
He added that, "I don't see any progress being made on the peace process now."
Drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey told the AP at about the same time that "the production of cocaine in Colombia is continuing to skyrocket" and "we're going to see more bad news out of Colombia."
Former Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias weighed in with a letter published in the New York Times on August 25th, comparing the situation in Colombia with various Central American wars with which the US was involved in the 1980s: “The United States has apparently learned nothing from the horrors of El Salvador and Nicaragua, where vast amounts of military aid only served to intensify conflicts that neither side was going to win. Now, Congress and President Clinton have confirmed that they will make the same error in Colombia by sending $1.3 billion, almost all in military aid.”
Colombia's President himself, Andres Pastrana, raised eyebrows when sounding a note of caution about the whole venture as it relates to the flow of drugs. "Colombia can put a stop to drugs here at some point, but if the demand continues, somebody else somewhere else in the world is going to produce them," Pastrana told reporters at an August 29th press conference in Cartagena preceding President Clinton's visit, according to the New York Times. "We are already getting intelligence reports of possible plantings in Africa."
Meanwhile, drug war zealots in the house are demanding another $99.5 million in assistance to the Colombian national police.
And the war effort is just getting underway.
4. South Dakota: Drug War Cowboys Raid Reservation Hemp Fields, Medical Marijuana Bill Emerges
Albert White Plume has lived all his life on the desperately poor Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Pine Ridge Reservation in remote southwestern South Dakota. Eager to find innovative ways to improve the local economy, he jumped at the chance to grow industrial hemp after the Oglala Tribal Council okayed the crop in 1998.
His first efforts failed, but this year White Plume was rewarded with a bumper crop, some 40,000 to 50,000 hemp plants as much as 20 feet tall waving in the perpetual wind that blows across the Northern Plains.
Harvest time should have been a time of pride and celebration. "We had a ceremony planned to honor the hemp before we harvested it. We believe we must honor the spirits of all living things we kill, and we had modified one of our rituals for the occasion," the soft-spoken White Plume told DRCNet.
"But now, all we have is a big heartache."
On the morning of August 24th, White Plume's crop was destroyed in a paramilitary operation by federal and state law enforcement officials. At least 25 body armor-wearing, automatic weapons-toting officers from the DEA, FBI, US Marshals Service, and the Northern Plains Safe Trails Task Force carrying automatic weapons arrived just after dawn in a caravan of 12 vehicles, accompanied by a helicopter and two airplanes.
"We heard the helicopters, and then my little brother drove up and said they're coming," said White Plume. "My little brother was ready to put up a fight, because we've grown attached to the plants -- it's a family thing, even the grandkids are involved -- but I told him we can't resist, we have to fight it in court."
"I verbally asked them to stop cutting down the plants, but they said 'no, this is a DEA matter and we're going to seize all this marijuana you've got here.'"
White Plume chuckled wistfully. "I'm no educated guy, but even I can tell the difference between hemp and marijuana."
"Some kids stole one of the plants to try to get high," he noted, then laughed and added, "I bet they won't be smoking any more hemp plants."
White Plume was dismayed by the display of armed might, especially since he and the Slim Buttes Land Use Association, which had spearheaded the hemp effort, had taken pains to let authorities know exactly what they were doing.
"I can't understand why they needed to do this to us," he said. "We've been really open and up front with them, we even invited them to come see it. We were following all the tribal ordinances. I could have hid it, but we weren't doing anything illegal. They scared our young people."
Still, the raid was not a complete surprise. When tribal officials passed the hemp ordinance in 1998, the DEA threatened to prosecute anyone growing without a DEA Certificate of Registration. And although White Plume had invited a Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator to visit the field in June and take samples for THC testing -- the tests came back negative -- the US Attorney's office had threatened to act if a crop came to harvest.
Indeed, some of the raiders even admitted to White Plume that they had tested the plants and found less than 1% THC, prompting him to ask why they were seizing the plants if they knew they weren't drugs.
"They told me it was to deter other Lakota from doing what I was doing," White Plume told the Lakota Nation Journal, "and because they wouldn't differentiate between hemp and marijuana."
In a press release the day of the raid, the US Attorney for South Dakota, Tom McBride, held to the DEA line on hemp. "The growing of any marijuana plant is illegal unless the DEA issues a permit after enforcing appropriate safeguards against the misuse of the plants," said the statement.
Despite the US Attorney's hard line, police did not bother to arrest White Plume, even though he faced a potential 10-year to life sentence. "They told me they didn't want to get into a political controversy," Plume told DRCNet.
But the feds may not be able to avoid that, especially because they have positioned themselves, intentionally or not, so that they face a direct conflict with the Oglala Sioux Nation over issues of tribal sovereignty.
During the 1998 debate over the ordinance, Joe American Horse, a spokesman for the land use association, told the tribal council, "Sovereignty over our own land and scientific language regarding the hemp plant are the issues involved."
In passing the ordinance, the tribal council emphasized its position that treaties signed by the Oglala Nation and the US government give the tribe the right to control food and fiber crop production on tribal lands.
With elections for the tribal council scheduled for later this month, the council has not yet responded to the August 24th raid. A tribal spokeswoman told DRCNet any response would come after the elections.
Despite the raid, White Plume and fellow members of the land use association remain committed to the cause and cheered by the support they have garnered. Green Party vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke issued a lengthy statement denouncing the raid (http://www.votenader.com/press/000905oglala.html) and calling it "a violation of Oglala Lakota sovereignty, and an affront to genuine efforts at tribal self-sufficiency in the face of daunting economic odds."
And, says White Plume, "We're not going to stop. We think what we're doing can save the earth, so we're not going to give up."
As for the DEA, White Plume is not too impressed. "We need to cut their budget by 95%. They don't do anything but cut down ditch weed."
South Dakota Rep. Ron Volesky (D-Huron) thinks federal officials have taken the wrong tack regarding White Plume and hemp on the reservation. "I think they ought to just leave them alone," said Volesky.
"I'd like to see hemp available," he told DRCNet. "We had a hemp bill last year, but it failed. I think it will be reintroduced and I will support it," the lawmaker said.
Volesky told DRCNet he will also introduce a medical marijuana bill in the next legislative session. "People who suffer from certain ailments could benefit greatly from marijuana, and I'm committed to moving forward on this."
As an elected official in a socially conservative state, Volesky was careful to emphasize that "this is an opportunity to help sick people, not a way to decriminalize marijuana."
"I want to be clear that medical marijuana use must be closely regulated, and my bill provides for that," he said.
The bill, which was drafted by the South Dakota Legislative Research Council at Volesky's request, is in some ways less restrictive than similar bills in other states. It sets no limits on the amount of marijuana or number of plants a medical marijuana patient or caregiver may possess.
In other ways, however, it is more restrictive. The bill as written enumerates the eligible medical conditions and limits them to glaucoma and symptoms of chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
When pressed on the bill's prospects, Volesky was guardedly optimistic. "It might actually pass," he said. "It has significant bipartisan support. In terms of public response, well, I haven't received any letters saying I'm crazy or kooky, but I have received a number in favor of the bill."
"If they can do it in Hawaii," Volesky argued, "I don't see why we can't do it here."
5. San Diego City Council Moves Toward City-Sanctioned Needle Exchange Program
For seven years, San Diego harm reduction activists running needle exchange programs faced harassment and possible arrest for their efforts as conservative city and county governments blocked repeated efforts to regularize the program. Now, in a stunning about-face, the San Diego city council has taken the first step toward the creation of San Diego's first officially-sanctioned needle exchange program.
The only significant opposition came from the police and the San Diego Union-Tribune, which editorialized against "social nihilism."
Needle exchange programs have been found to be effective in reducing the spread of AIDS, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases among injecting drug users.
The city council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee on Wednesday okayed a proposal from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation for a program whose details would be worked out by a task force including law enforcement and community representatives.
The program would be privately financed and would be tied to some sort of treatment or counseling for participants, Alliance spokeswoman Stephanie Casenza told the San Diego Union Tribune.
The next step, says Dr. Ian Trowbridge, a cancer biologist at the Salk Institute who has long been involved with the issue in San Diego, is for the city council to declare a medical emergency, which, under California law, would allow the city to institute such a program. Trowbridge told DRCNet he expects the council to act at either its October 2nd or October 16th meeting.
For Brent Whittaker, a member of the San Diego Clean Needle Exchange, the city's action is welcome but overdue.
"Currently, we are at the mercy of the officers on the street," Whittaker told DRCNet. "Street officers will write citations, and then we have to deal with the District Attorneys, but they generally go for deferred prosecution," said Whittaker.
Whittaker told DRCNet he had been cited in 1994, but the case was never heard. Instead, he said, it disappeared.
Needle exchange program participants who have drug records or who are currently using face tougher sanctions, though, said Whittaker. "DAs continue to try to prosecute these people."
"One woman who is an active drug user as well as an outreach worker was prosecuted last week," Whittaker continued, "and she had to promise that she wouldn't do any more outreach. But she hasn't stopped participating, she's willing to take the risk."
Dr. Trowbridge pointed to several factors to explain the turnaround. First, he said, was the change in state law allowing municipalities to declare medical emergencies and then initiate needle exchange programs.
Second, Trowbridge told DRCNet, the Harm Reduction Support Group and Alliance Healthcare Foundation created a carefully crafted campaign to heighten public awareness of the need for needle exchange programs.
Whittaker concurred. The campaign "has had a significant impact on pushing the need for needle exchange programs onto the political agenda," he said.
Alliance even arranged for outside experts to address the council and rebut distorted claims about needle exchange programs that appeared in the Union-Tribune's editorial opposing the program.
Also, said Trowbridge, some members of the council merited acclaim for their efforts to pass the program. "Valerie Stallings worked behind the scenes to set up meetings between us and the police and really helped tone down the opposition," said Trowbridge.
Another council member, Byron Wear, wrote an op-ed in the Union-Tribune supporting the proposed program.
Also, said Trowbridge, "It's the hepatitis C. This is a more 'respectable' disease than AIDS. This is a very conservative county, and people weren't willing to act when AIDS was the main threat."
Trowbridge added, "I'm a cancer biologist and there are many cancers we can't cure. The problems associated with injection drug use are one human condition where we know what to do."
6. Nader Calls for Marijuana Legalization, "Harm Reduction" for Other Drugs
In his most pointed remarks on drug policy to date, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader called last week for the legalization of marijuana and the reform of "self-defeating and antiquated" drug laws.
At a Santa Fe, New Mexico news conference last Friday, where he shared the podium with New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who has also spoken out forcefully and repeatedly for drug policy reform, Nader lambasted major party candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush for failing to address drug policy.
"The presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties do not want to discuss the failed war on drugs," said Nader. "Now, this is obviously a subject on the minds of millions of Americans. It's a subject people talk about all the time. It's a subject that occupies huge amounts of law enforcement personnel."
But, said Nader, when it comes to drug policy, all Bush and Gore want to talk about is more military aid to Colombia.
Rather than "criminalizing and militarizing the situation," Nader said, we should treat drug abuse as a public health problem.
"Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, should not be criminalized," said the Green Party candidate. "It's got to be subjected to health programs and caring programs, because they work."
Governor Johnson, a Republican, called Nader "an American hero" and said Nader should be allowed to participate in any presidential debates, but declined to endorse Nader's candidacy. Nader, who is currently running at 3% in recent polls, probably will not qualify for the debates under rules drawn up by the two dominant parties.
Johnson also noted that although his drug reform stand has not received much public support from elected officials, things are different in private. "Behind closed doors, yes, there are a lot who agree," he said.
Nader responded to Johnson's remarks by noting the degree to which talk of drug reform is politically off-limits.
"We live in a time in our history when common candor is called courage," he said. "If you say what's on your mind and you have a plain-spoken description of what everybody knows... that the drug war has failed, you are considered politically courageous."
Earlier in the week, Nader strongly criticized the US government and drug czar Barry McCaffery in particular for putting obstacles in the path of industrial hemp production. Nader said the DEA's proposed new rules that would require a product containing any amount of THC to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance "will make it impossible for farmers to grow the crop."
Complaining that anti-marijuana hysteria has blocked hemp production, Nader compared hemp to poppy seed bagels or nonalcoholic beer. "Although these foods have a small psychoactive component, people do not abuse them."
"I have an observation for Gen. McCaffrey," said Nader. "I don't think even Gen. McCaffrey could get high on one-third of one percent THC. He might get a stomach ache."
Nader also criticized the August 24th federal raid on an Oglala Nation hemp field in South Dakota (see story above), saying that "while Canadian and other farmers prosper from industrial hemp, American farmers are unlikely to see its benefits anytime soon."
Nader campaign press releases on drug policy and hemp policy are online at http://www.votenader.com/press/000908drugwar.html and http://www.votenader.com/press/000905hemp.html respectively.
See http://www.drcnet.org/wol/143.html#nader for previous coverage of the Nader campaign. Read our interview with Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/144.html#harrybrowne online.
7. McCaffrey and His Mendacious Minions: At It Again
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) has once more been caught fudging the truth, this time misrepresenting the efficacy of its $195 million anti-drug media campaign to its congressional overseers.
Insight, the weekend magazine published by the Washington Times, in a story titled "Is the Drug Czar Breaking the Law?" (http://www.insightmag.com/archive/200009186.shtml), published last Sunday, accuses the ONDCP of "manipulating data in a formal report to deceive Congress, a likely violation of federal law."
The article, based on a close reading of the ONDCP's mandatory "Performance Measures of Effectiveness: 2000 Report," finds that the drug czar's office jimmied the numbers in at least three different ways in an effort to make its program seem more effective than it actually is.
Public Law No. 105-277 requires ONDCP to set "quantifiable and measurable" goals and file annual reports detailing progress. If goals are unmet, Congress can use the information to end ineffective programs.
In the performance report, ONDCP listed its program goal as to "increase the percentage of youth who perceive drug use as harmful," and, using a color-coded chart, indicated that its goals were "on target."
In fact, they were not on target. Between 1996 and 1999 the percentage of 12th graders who saw marijuana use as harmful actually declined from 59.9% to 57.4%.
In order to make the numbers work, ONDCP first changed the base year from 1996 to 1998, thus making the downward trend, which could jeopardize funding for the program, look less severe.
Then they made a second change. ONDCP switched from 12th grade data to 8th grade data. Eighth graders are conveniently more likely to view marijuana use as harmful, thus allowing ONDCP to boast that it was nearer its goal than it really was.
ONDCP then apparently created from whole cloth a number that supposedly came from the "Monitoring the Future" studies that track teen drug use and attitudes. bONDCP tripled its improvement with this bogus higher number.
Insight reported that when it confronted the drug czar's office with these changes, which should have been reported to Congress, it could not get straight answers.
It's been a bad year for McCaffrey and his minions. If this keeps up, they may be forced to resort to actually telling the truth for a change.
8. Drug Czar Wants to 'Check' Chess Players For Drug Use
(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)
In the September issue of Chess Life magazine, drug czar Barry McCaffrey published an article in which he suggests that tournament chess players should be tested for drugs.
In the article, McCaffrey discussed an Office of National Drug Control Policy sponsored group, called Chesschild, which is a substance abuse prevention program conducted in libraries and schools which promotes drug-free lifestyles and chess.
"Research proves that mentoring youngsters and teaching them that games like chess can build resilience in the face of illegal drug use and other destructive temptations," McCaffrey wrote. "Drug testing is as appropriate for chess players as for shot-putters, or any competitors who use their heads as well as their hands."
"Just when I thought I'd heard it all from McCaffrey," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, "Drug testing for chess players? What's next from this overreaching drug czar? Drug testing for tiddly winks players? How about bingo players? Policy recommendations like this from ONDCP demonstrate a deep and disturbing pathology that goes well beyond opposing drug law reform efforts."
The Drug Policy Foundation grants program continues under the auspices of the newly-merged Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. TLC-DPF will be distributing approximately $1.5 million every year to drug policy reform efforts. The Grant Program funds a wide range of organizations, including those that specialize in criminal justice, drug policy, harm reduction, medical marijuana, methadone maintenance, and syringe exchange.
TLC-DPF provides three types of funding: project, general support, and technical assistance. Project grants cover model programs, advocacy, and targeted public education. Limited international funding is available. Additionally, TLC-DPF has set aside funds specifically for state-level multi-issue drug policy reform groups.
Visit http://www.dpf.org/GRANTS.html to read the most recent Grant Program guidelines (last updated August 1999). The deadline for the next round of TLC-DPF grants is October 1, 2000. A hardcopy of the grant guidelines can be requested by sending e-mail to [email protected] TLC-DPF is always interested in receiving feedback from potential and current grantees.
(Please submit listings of events related to drug policy and related areas to [email protected])
September 16, Denver, CO, Families Against Mandatory Minimums Regional Workshop, location to be determined. Call (202) 822-6700 for information or to register.
September 16, Boston, MA, noon-6:00pm, 11th Annual Freedom Rally. On Boston Common, sponsored by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. For further information, call MASSCANN at (781) 944-2266 or visit http://www.masscann.org on the web.
September 19, New York, NY, 9:30am-5:00pm. Workshop: Harm Reduction in Counseling, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $60. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
September 22-29, Houston, TX and other locations, Journey for Justice, week long journey through locations in Texas, protesting the war on drugs. Visit http://www.journeyforjustice.org for further information.
September 22, Los Angeles, CA, 7:00pm. Screening of documentary Emperor of Hemp, to assist with Jack Herer's medical expenses. At Universal Studios, Screening Room #1, admission $50. Contact (888) 870-1002 for further information.
September 23, Los Angeles, CA, 10:00am-7:00pm, CIA-Drugs Symposium. For information, contact Kris Millegan, (877) 642-8321 ext. 9696, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.CIA-Drugs.org on the web.
September 27, New York, NY, 9:30am-5:00pm. Workshop: Clinical Supervision for Supervisors, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $60. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
September 28, Salt Lake City, UT, 1:30pm. Second Annual Community Forum on Drug Sentencing, featuring a keynote address by former New York state chief judge Sol Wachtler, author of After the Madness, sponsored by the Utah Chapter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. At the Utah State Bar Auditorium, 645 S. 200 East. For further information, call (801) 272-4333 or e-mail [email protected]
September 29, nationwide. Simultaneous drug war vigils, by the National Vigil Project. For further information, visit http://www.november.org/drugwarvigil.html or call the November Coalition at (509) 684-1550.
October 2, New York, NY, 9:30am-5:00pm. Workshop: Harm Reduction Management, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $60. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
October 4, New York, NY, 9:30am-5:00pm. Workshop: The Life Process Program: Harm Reduction in Traditional Practice, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $60. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
October 6, New York, NY, 9:30am-1:00pm. Workshop: MICA and Harm Reduction, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $40. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
October 11-14, Hamburg, Germany, "Encouraging Health Promotion for Drug Users Within the Criminal Justice System," at the University of Hamburg. For further information and brochure, contact: The Conference Secretariat, c/o Hit Conference, +44 (0) 151 227 4423, fax +44 (0) 151 236 4829, [email protected]
October 14, Philadelphia, PA, "US Drug Laws: The New Jim Crow?", one day symposium sponsored by the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review. Featuring Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke with panelists Eric Sterling, US District Judge Robert Sweet, Marc Mauer and others. For further information, contact Steven Kronenberg at [email protected]
October 18, Minneapolis, MN, 7:00pm-3:00am, Benefit for NORML Minnesota. At 7th St. Entry, First Ave. & 7th St., $5 or free for members. For information, call (612) 871-8780, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.normlmn.com>.
October 21-25, Miami, FL, "Third National Harm Reduction Conference," sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, at the Wyndham Hotel Miami Biscayne Bay. For information, call (212) 213-6376 ext. 31 or e-mail [email protected]
November 1, New York, NY, 9:30am-5:00pm. Workshop: Using Creativity in Direct Service, Harm Reduction Training Institute, 22 West 27th St., 5th Floor, course fee $60. Contact (212) 683-2334, ext. 32.
November 3-4, Chicago, IL. Conference on US Policy & Human Rights in Colombia: Where do we go from here? At DePaul University, sponsored by various organizations concerned with Latin America, human rights and peace. For information contact Colombia Bulletin at (773) 489-1255 or e-mail [email protected]
November 11, Charlotte, NC, Families Against Mandatory Minimums Regional Workshop, location to be determined. Call (202) 822-6700 for information or to register.
November 16-19, San Francisco, "Committing to Conscience: Building a Unified Strategy to End the Death Penalty," largest annual gathering of Death Penalty opponents. Call Death Penalty Focus at (888) 2-ABOLISH or visit http://www.ncadp.org/ctc.html for further information.
January 13, 2001, St. Petersburg, FL, Families Against Mandatory Minimums Regional Workshop, location to be determined. Call (202) 822-6700 for information or to register.
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]
When Albert White Plume and his family planted industrial hemp on their tribe's reservation, they knew there was a possibility of controversy. After all, it's hemp.
You know, the stuff they make fabrics from, rope, soap, oil, other useful things.
White Plume was aware that hemp sits on the edges of an all out American drug war. But, he reasoned, it's not a drug, the Oglala tribal council, an autonomous authority on their reservation, had approved it, he was working with the Slim Buttes Land Use Association, he had made sure the authorities knew he was growing hemp and where he was growing it and that it wasn't the kind that gets you high. He even invited the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take samples and test them to make sure. They did.
And so far, it appeared, so good. No one had shut them down. Industrial hemp. Pretzels, non-dairy cheese substitute, shoes and sneakers, other useful things. Hemp.
Then, on August 24, 2000, they came. 25 of them, maybe more, armor clad, automatic weapons, airplanes, a helicopter, a fleet of cars. They came because of the hemp. They cut the hemp down.
The stuff they make bird seed from, and shampoo. Other useful things.
The stuff Albert White Plume had hoped to take to market, to help his tribe through difficult economic times. A new crop, grown in America instead of being imported from abroad.
It's sort of like the end of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie. The part when the medieval world starts to blend with modern England, and Arthur's sword-wielding knights -- dangerous lunatics, to the people of the 20th century, who weren't living the knights' fantasy -- are rounded up by British police, disarmed, herded into the paddy wagon and carted off.
There are a few differences, of course. The brigade attacking White Plume's field weren't carrying swords -- they had machine guns. They didn't kill anyone -- this time -- they just chopped down the plants. They decided not to kidnap (arrest) White Plume, thankfully.
The most important difference is that they and their weaponry went free. There were no enforcers to round them up, no paddy wagon to take them away. The knights were the enforcers. It's against the law to grow hemp without a permit, and the government isn't issuing any. There's a war on drugs, and even industrial hemp, which isn't a drug, is contraband, off limits, a target for the paramilitary drug war industrial complex.
But suppose people from some other place, some other world, perhaps, came to visit, people who didn't know anything about the drug war, examining our society and our culture with a perspective unclouded from having grown up in it. Suppose they saw the team of paramilitaries cut down the hemp field, guns in hand, airplanes and helicopters in tow. What would be their reaction?
Would they think this was a sensible response to the problem of substance abuse and addiction, a reasoned strategy to reduce social pathologies and improve the health and well-being of Americans?
Or would they ask, who are these lunatics, why are they chopping down this family's field, and why isn't the government protecting people from them?
But unlike in the Monty Python movie, the authorities don't step in to restore sanity at the end of the show. This is the United States, people are making money eradicating non-psychoactive hemp, among other things, and they intend to continue doing so for as long as they can.
All reason up in smoke. No hemp for the Oglala. The drug war.
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