(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)
Issue #162, 12/1/00
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As part of its intransigent opposition to California's 1996 Proposition 215, which allows the medicinal use of marijuana, the federal government in 1998 filed lawsuits against a handful of cannabis co-ops distributing marijuana to patients. Now, after many twists and turns, that case will be decided by the Supreme Court. (See http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#forwardback for DRCNet's most recent coverage.)
But despite the Los Angeles Times' breathless announcement that the Supreme Court will "decide the fate of the medical marijuana laws in California and other states," the court is not judging California's medical marijuana law. Instead, it will review a 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling allowing the clubs to stay open under the shield of a medical necessity defense that would protect them from federal prosecution.
In a possible hint at its forthcoming decision, the Supreme Court on August 29th issued an emergency stay barring the Oakland Cannabis Co-op from distributing marijuana to its 7,000 members. Such intervention from on high while a dispute is pending typically signals that the Supreme Court believes the lower court is wrong.
The 9th Circuit's ruling "threatens the government's ability to enforce the federal drug laws," government lawyers argued.
Upon winning the temporary order, US Solicitor General Seth Waxman petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case and reverse the 9th Circuit's ruling. Waxman told the justices that legally distributing marijuana, even for limited medical purposes, would "promote disrespect and disregard" for the drug laws. On Monday, the court agreed to hear the case. It will be argued early next year.
The Oakland Cannabis Co-op and its attorneys remain unperturbed, however.
Attorney Robert A. Raich told the Times no matter how the court rules, the ability of patients to grow and possess medical marijuana under California law would not be affected.
But, Raich continued, the co-op is ready to fight. "We would argue that medical necessity, an ancient defense that goes back centuries in Anglo jurisprudence, continues to exist," said Raich. "Patients have no other effective therapy... and they have a right to access to that medicine."
Raich added that the Oakland co-op will argue that the Supreme Court should respect the decision of California voters if it wishes to be consistent with recent rulings on states' rights.
In comments to DRCNet, the co-op's Jeff Jones echoed Raich's remarks. "We have faith that when the Supreme Court hears our case it will consider the needs of the patients who are suffering," he said. "We also hope the court will vindicate the citizens of California and many other states who enacted a compassionate medical marijuana law to allow patients to have access to their medicine."
Federal prosecutors insist that state laws cannot conflict with federal law and that marijuana has "no proven medical uses."
While a negative ruling from the Supreme Court would leave the Oakland Cannabis Co-op and other medical marijuana distributors open to federal prosecution, the federal government has so far declined to pursue criminal cases against medical marijuana providers. Instead, recognizing that medical marijuana has broad popular support in the California electorate, the feds have limited themselves to civil actions in the courts.
But the Oakland co-op's Jeff Jones isn't certain what a negative ruling would mean under a new administration. "I'm afraid a Bush administration would then use this to come in and systematically shut down the clubs," he told DRCNet.
"Bush talked about states' rights, but I think he doesn't really believe that," he added.
"With Gore," Jones speculated, "there would be more tolerance. He doesn't even want to hear the word marijuana; he wouldn't want to stir things up."
Even in the event of a negative ruling from the Supreme Court, Jones remains confident that medical marijuana cannot be stopped in California.
"If we lose this case, we will vigorously bring up a variety of other arguments to take to the appeals court," he said.
"They may be able to shut down one possible defense, but they'll never stop us cold."
Eight states in addition to California have recently enacted medical marijuana laws: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii (by action of the legislature), Maine, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado. Washington, DC residents voted in 1998 to allow medical marijuana use, but Congress blocked the measure from becoming law.
The Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative is online at http://www.rxcbc.org.
As promised last month and previewed in the Week Online (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/160.html#njprofiling), New Jersey Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. on Monday released more than 90,000 pages of documents showing that New Jersey state troopers stopped minority motorists in hugely disproportionate numbers for drug searches along state highways.
Despite official statements to the contrary, the documents also give the lie to New Jersey officials' assertions that they did not attempt to cover-up evidence of racial profiling.
The fallout from the disclosures is already coming fast and furious, even as state officials work frantically to spin the public relations disaster in the best possible light.
Criminal defense attorneys said as many as 180 pending criminal cases could be dismissed as tainted by unconstitutional racial profiling stops.
A spokesman for the Attorney General's office told the New York Times Farmer would review 105 pending criminal cases, but Middlesex County public defender said that figure did not include at least 20 cases in Middlesex alone. Farmer could dismiss some or all of the criminal cases.
If he does not, State Superior Court Judge Walter Barisonek will consider the consolidated criminal cases in a hearing set for January 23rd. Defense attorneys said they will ask that any remaining cases be thrown out.
There may be more criminal cases to revisit. William Buckman, a Moorestown attorney who pioneered the racial profiling defense in a 1996 Gloucester County case, told the Times he had already begun hearing from prisoners hoping to have their convictions overturned.
"I am selectively looking into those cases and my conscience dictates that I'll get involved in some of them," he said.
Expanding on the theme, he told the Bergen Record, "I hope more people come forward. If the New Jersey justice system has any moral strength and strength of character, it should be willing to reopen cases where the convictions aren't sound."
The state may also have to pay out millions of dollars in damages to motorists stopped under racial profiling guidelines who were not arrested and to African American and Latino state troopers who sued because they were forced to practice racial profiling. Attorney General Farmer hinted that this week's disclosures made the state's position even more difficult to defend.
"Where they are reasonable, we're going to settle these cases," he told the Record. "We'll certainly look into it much more closely based on what we've discovered."
Meanwhile, Farmer and other state officials tried to make the best of the mess.
In a statement released Monday, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said, "While racial profiling did not begin in this state or under this administration, history will show that the end of racial profiling in America did indeed begin in New Jersey and under this administration."
Farmer told the Associated Press on Monday that state officials had not tried to cover up the looming scandal, but had tried to cope with race-based intelligence profiles from the DEA.
"What you'll see is an agency and a department struggling with these uncertainties," said Farmer. "There was no overarching conspiracy to cover this up. There was an attempt to understand it. There was an attempt to put it in context."
Critics weren't buying it. "We find this spin to be an affront and insult to the minority community in this state," Reginald Jackson of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey told a press conference in Orange on Monday.
"When these documents are reviewed, it will show that the practice of racial profiling has been going on knowingly for two decades," said Jackson.
Similarly, state Assemblyman LeRoy Jones (D-Essex) told the press conference, "It saddens and discourages me. Those comments reek of insensitivity, just trying to find cover for obvious acts of disobedience. We are not going to let Mr. Farmer spin this."
An October 12 article in the New York Times reported that as early as 1996, internal state police audits provided evidence of widespread profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike, but senior officials rejected aggressive action against the problem and withheld information from federal civil rights prosecutors.
Critics notwithstanding, New Jersey may have a point when it comes to blaming federal drug warriors for promoting racial profiling techniques. Some of the documents released show police commanders and other state officials attempting to balance race-based DEA intelligence reports with the need to practice nondiscriminatory policing.
One 1997 memo from an aggrieved Deputy Attorney General George Rover complained that the Justice Department, which at the time was pressuring New Jersey to stop racial profiling, "cannot have it both ways."
He complained that the DEA encouraged state troopers to aggressively seek out drug offenders using race as a criteria and cited DEA intelligence reports naming ethnic Chinese, West African, Pakistani, Indian, and Colombian groups as "a major threat to New Jersey at the wholesale drug level."
Other DEA training materials warned troopers to look for people with dreadlocks and cars with two Latino males traveling together.
Farmer also sent some blame Washington's way. "The troopers in the field were given a mixed message," he told the New York Times. "On one hand, we were training them not to take race into account. On the other hand, all the intelligence featured race and ethnicity prominently. So what is your average trooper to make of all this?"
University of Toledo law professor David Harris, who authored an ACLU report on racial profiling called "Driving While Black," also pointed at the DEA.
"The DEA has been the great evangelizer for racial profiling on the highways," he told the Times. "They had used the technique in airports to nab drug couriers and thought this held great promise on the highways. So they taught it to local departments, and because the DEA agents weren't the ones actually pulling over the cars, they've never really been held accountable for it."
Visit http://www.aclu.org/profiling/ for further information on this issue. Recent coverage in the Bergen Record (northern New Jersey) includes:
Police cannot use random roadblocks to search out drug law violators, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The ruling, on a case in which Indianapolis police put up checkpoints for precisely that purpose in inner city neighborhoods, came on a 6-3 vote, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissenting.
The majority opinion, written by Justice O'Connor, found that the city's use of drug-sniffing dogs to check all vehicles was an unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional search barred by the Fourth Amendment.
The ruling maintained a distinction between random stops or searches designed to catch criminals, such as the present case, and those whose primary reason is to benefit the public good or public safety, such as sobriety checkpoints and border checks.
O'Connor wrote that the constitutional protections requiring police to have reasonable suspicion before stopping and searching a car would not allow that reasoning to be applied to cases in which law enforcement ends are paramount.
"If this case were to rest on such a high level of generality, there would be little check on the authorities' ability to construct roadblocks for almost any conceivable law enforcement purpose," she wrote.
"We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing," O'Connor wrote. "Rather, our checkpoint cases have recognized only limited exceptions to the general rule that a seizure must be accompanied by some measure of individualized suspicion."
And, O'Connor continued, if the Court allowed such random searches, "the Fourth Amendment would do little to prevent such intrusions from becoming a routine part of American life."
In his dissent, joined by Scalia and Thomas, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote that the test for random stops was "whether they serve a significant state interest with minimal intrusion on motorists." Rehnquist, who earlier also supported the sobriety checks and border checkpoints, found that random stops and searches by drug-sniffing dogs "are executed in a regularized and neutral manner. And they only minimally intrude upon the privacy of motorists. They should therefore be constitutional."
And Clarence Thomas gave new evidence that his legal mind is a strange universe, indeed, when he signed onto Rehnquist's dissent, but also questioned the legality of any "indiscriminate stops of individuals not suspected of wrongdoing," which was not directly at issue in the case.
Although the Rehnquist court has long been considered pro-police, this ruling, along with a handful of others suggests a trend on the Supreme Court toward reining in some of the excesses of law enforcement.
Earlier this year the court ruled unanimously that police may not stop and search someone based solely on an anonymous tip that the person is carrying a weapon. Also this year, the court ruled that Border Patrol agents could not search passengers' bags as part of a routine immigration search.
Brooklyn Law School professor Susan Herman told the Washington Post the decisions suggest that "the court wants to hold the line and to recognize that there are rules."
As medical marijuana advocates and others have found out, steering an initiative to victory in the voting booth is one thing; actually seeing it properly implemented is another. While California's Prop. 36 differs from the medical marijuana initiatives in that it does not face intractable opposition from the federal government, it does have entrenched foes who could attempt to sabotage it.
And, given California's national importance and the fact that Prop. 36 represents a ground-breaking departure from 20 years of lock 'em up drug policy, its success or failure will be of critical importance to the future of drug policy reform.
The Campaign for New Drug Policies (http://www.drugreform.org) scored a huge success at the polls, with some 61% of voters approving its Proposition 36, which will divert thousands of drug possession offenders from state prisons to drug treatment programs.
It did so in the face of stiff opposition from police, prosecutors, and drug court professionals, but now proponents of the new law will need the cooperation of these groups to make the program work.
Local prosecutors, for example, could refuse to plea-bargain more serious offenses or decline to prosecute cases under the act. County supervisors could allocate funds for probation instead of treatment programs. Police could bring stiffer charges.
"Officials in some counties have been calling this 'the doper initiative,'" Contra Costa county's head of treatment programs Chuck Deutschman told the Associated Press. "Obviously, if you're viewing it as the doper initiative, you're going to be less interested in treatment."
Questions have also arisen about when and where treatment programs for the estimated 36,000 persons who will need them will come.
CNDP's Dave Fratello acknowledged to the Associated Press that "this will be a real challenge to our friends in the treatment community. They are going to have the eyes of the world on them," he said. "They are going to be forced to prove that this works on a very large scale."
Other skeptics doubt that the $120 million budgeted by the act each year will cover the costs of drug tests, expanded county probation offices, and licensing new treatment facilities.
CNDP head Bill Zimmerman, who ran the Prop. 36 campaign, as well as the medical marijuana initiatives in California and six other states, remains undaunted. In a conversation with DRCNet, he predicted that "the bumps will be relatively small."
The effort has political cover now, Zimmerman argued. "No elected official wants to be on the wrong side of a 61% voter majority," he said.
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who opposed the measure, is a case in point. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he said he and his staff will help to implement the measure.
"The people have spoken," Davis told the Chronicle.
Indeed, within days after the election, Davis filled the long-vacant position of head of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, naming Kathryn Jett to the post (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/160.html#caldrugczar).
Jett, said Zimmerman, "has a history of being committed to treatment."
As for opposition from state and local officials, Zimmerman told DRCNet it would be less than expected.
"There may be some variation from county to county," he said, "but there are real incentives to implement the system. There are local treatment providers, probation officers, and drug court judges who want to see it work."
"There will always be bureaucrats with a stake in its implementation, sufficient forces working for it to overcome people who want to stand in the way," he continued.
Program supporters are making active efforts to bring in opponents, Zimmerman added. "For instance, we are sponsoring a conference bringing together opponents and proponents to establish an agenda all stakeholders can live with."
Once again noting the political power that comes with a clear electoral victory, Zimmerman noted that, "Many opponents are agreeing to participate in response to the decision of the voters."
And again, on the question of adequate funding, the election victory has altered the political equation.
Although Zimmerman indicated that CNDP's research showed $120 million annually would cover treatment, probation, and court costs, and cited a RAND Corporation study that agreed, he argued that getting more money if needed would not now pose a great problem.
"I think we can get additional funds to help facilitate implementation of the measure now because the political situation has changed very dramatically," he said. "Elected officials had been reluctant to fund drug reform measures in the past, but now we have a mandate from voters that they want treatment and not incarceration."
"This will give legislators in Sacramento much more backbone than in the past. Politicians follow public opinion and when they see a majority forming, their first impulse is to get out in front of the parade," continued Zimmerman. "Now you're seeing many who were formerly reluctant to support the measure coming around."
Coming up with the needed treatment programs will be a challenge Zimmerman conceded. "But the sentencing provisions don't take effect until July 1st. Between now and then we have $60 million appropriated."
"The 36,000 diverted from prison to treatment each year aren't coming in one clump," Zimmerman pointed out. "More like 3,000 a month will need treatment, and with the level of preparation we have, we should be able to have sufficient increased capacity."
The bottom line, said Zimmerman, was the power of the vote. "We control this issue now."
Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen last week released a long-awaited draft of a new "Vancouver Agreement" to deal with the city's intractable hard drug problem. If implemented as is, the plan would mark the most far-reaching drug reform yet tried in any North American city.
Drug overdose deaths have averaged 147 per year in the 1990s, and portions of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside host one of the hemisphere's most wide-open hard drug scenes, with all the attendant social ills, including thousands of drug users infected with HIV or Hepatitis C, rampant prostitution, and widespread fear of drug-related crime.
The draft was completed after months of input from stakeholders on all sides of the issue, from law enforcement and angry community and merchant associations to health care providers, harm reduction activists, and drug users themselves.
But the draft is open for further discussion and community review until early next year, and parts of the plan could change.
Some Vancouver drug users and harm reduction advocates are unwilling to wait and see. The Harm Reduction Action Society, which includes public health professionals and members of VANDU, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, trumped the mayor's proposals with its announcement that it is going ahead with plans to establish two pilot safe injection sites, where hard drug users can inject in clean surroundings without fear of police harassment.
The latest draft of the Vancouver Agreement, "A Framework for Action: A Four-Pillar Approach to Drug Problems in Vancouver" (http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/commsvcs/planning/dtes/VanAgree/frameworkforaction.pdf) adopts the four pillars -- prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction -- which support progressive drug reform efforts in European cities such as Geneva, Frankfurt, and Liverpool.
It names four goals:
Other recommendations, especially some harm reduction measures, would be North American firsts. Recommendations for services for people who continue to use drugs ("low threshold" services), for a task force to examine safe injection sites, and that the city participate in a North American study of prescribed heroin for intractable users implicitly accept that some people will use drugs.
Dean Wilson, a Harm Reduction Action Society board member who also belongs to VANDU, told DRCNet that Mayor Owens deserves congratulations for his political courage.
"He came out and did the right thing," said Wilson. "He put a lot of good ideas on the public agenda, and we will participate in the debate to come."
"Right now, we've got a three-pillar policy, with no harm reduction and one pillar, the police, being much taller than the others," Wilson noted.
Wilson approved of the safe injection study and the heroin maintenance study, and was optimistic that both programs would be implemented.
He has special reason to be optimistic about the opening of safe injection sites. His group has vowed to make it so by Valentine's Day.
They announced last week that they would open two sites without waiting for city policy. They have sought government funding -- so far unsuccessfully -- but say they will come up with private funding to open the sites in any case.
Harm Reduction Action Society board member Warren O'Briain told the Vancouver Sun, "They save lives otherwise lost to overdoses. We know that safe injection rooms help the most marginalized and at-risk drug users to get health care, counseling, and treatment. We are asking the three levels of government to step up to the plate."
Wilson was more adamant. "We will not tolerate another 400 people dying in this province," he vowed, "if it takes civil disobedience, it takes civil disobedience."
"We may wait until Easter to open if we are having fruitful discussions with the mayor," Wilson added, "but if things aren't going well by January, we will open a guerrilla site."
When questioned about whether he supported the group's safe injection sites, Mayor Owens first tried to evade the question, but then told the Vancouver Sun the plan was "premature and inappropriate."
In other comments leading to an inter-provincial tiff, Owens worried aloud that a safe injection site would attract drug users from across Canada, especially neighboring Alberta.
Wilson, however, suggests that the mayor would support safe injection sites. "I think the mayor is concerned about political exposure and about getting stuck with paying for it," he said.
No matter, said Wilson. "We're going to open them up, and I think everyone will get on board. We feel the city is more than ready to support them if they open. We don't want a standalone thing either, we'll have social workers and all that."
"The thing is, we know we can stop this overdose in the alley stuff, these at-risk behaviors, and we can save lives."
Even though Mayor Owen does not publicly support safe injection sites, another government entity involved has expressed cautious interest. The Vancouver/Richmond Health Board would consider contributing funding to a pilot program, the board's vice-president for community health services, Jack Altman, told the Sun.
"Certainly we would be interested in exploring this approach, but we're not going to get out in front," Altman said. "But if we sat down around a table and people said it may make sense, it might be a good pilot project for us."
The Vancouver police have not commented on how they would respond to safe injection sites.
Vicente Fox, a 58-year-old conservative businessman and former governor of Guanajuato state, was sworn in as Mexico's president on December 1st. His July election marked an historic change of regime in Mexico, which for the last 70 years had been ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
In carefully chosen remarks directed at US audiences and in some of his cabinet selections, Fox has provided signals that his administration wants to revisit Mexico's cooperation with hard-line US drug policies.
While he has pledged to attack drug-related crime and corruption, Fox took advantage of pre-inaugural interviews with US media outlets to jab at US portrayals of Mexico as corrupt and efforts to blame it for America's drug habit.
In remarks typical of his spate of interviews, Fox told CBS' 60 Minutes last Sunday, "The billions and billions of dollars generated by drug consumption comes from the United States. And those billions of dollars are used to bribe Mexican officials or Mexican policemen. Let's face that we have a problem, that each one of us has it, and let's meet it together."
"We Mexicans are smart, but not that smart to be able to smuggle all those drugs by ourselves," he continued. "So there must be some corruption in the United States."
Talk is one thing, but with a pair of appointments to his cabinet, Fox has put well-known advocates of drug policy reform in two critical posts. He named author and political scientist Jorge Castaneda as Foreign Minister and former Mexico City police chief Alejandro Gertz Manero to head the newly created Public Security Ministry.
Castaneda has advocated repeatedly and eloquently for drug legalization, most notably in a widely read September 1999 essay in Newsweek. (That essay, as well as detailed analysis of these appointments and much more is available from Narco News at http://www.narconews.com/mextransition1.html online.)
After being named Foreign Minister, Castaneda took pains to reiterate his position. On November 24th, he told Mexico City's La Jornada that drug policy was one of the key issues in bilateral relations with the US, that the US must end its annual certification of Mexico's compliance with US drug war aims, and that bilateral drug policy needs "a new focus."
He also bluntly restated his pro-decriminalization position. To resolve the drug problem, he told La Jornada, requires, "the decriminalization in the long run of certain currently illegal substances... and the use of market mechanisms to minimize the profits derived from the prohibited character of the drug trade."
Although almost unanimously described in the US media as a leftist, Castaneda has left his youthful leftism behind. In his 1993 book, "Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War," he attacked Cuba, trashed Latin American guerrilla movements, and argued that only playing within the rules of the global economic system would bring desired change.
He has also signaled that although he will adopt a more aggressive posture toward the United States and wants to renegotiate NAFTA, he fully supports the neo-liberal economic policies of his boss.
Alejandro Gertz Manero, Fox's choice to head the new Ministry of Public Security, is a former president of the University of the Americas in Mexico City and current Mexico City police chief. The new position is a critical one in Fox's plan to radically restructure the Mexican law enforcement apparatus.
Gertz Manero has received high marks from observers for his crime-fighting and anti-corruption efforts in Mexico City and, like Castaneda, has explicitly addressed the failure of current drug policies.
As first reported in English by Narco News, Gertz Manero called for "a Holland-style" drug policy earlier this year.
In a May column in El Universal (Mexico City), he called for a "third path," writing that: "The production and transit countries for drugs, like Cambodia, Colombia and Mexico, live with their own hell, while their institutions are infiltrated by drug traffickers and suffer a constant decay, their social structures brutally erode without finding answers or viable solutions."
"The third path has worked for countries like Holland that try to end the economic pressures of drug trafficking and recognize that drug addicts are ill, taking charge to allow the free use of drugs by those addicts inside of a therapeutic project, so that those who have irredeemably fallen into this vice do not become instruments of the economic interests of crime."
Whether and to what degree Castaneda and Gertz Manero bring drug policy to the fore remains to be seen, but with these appointments the Fox administration has positioned itself to be able take on the US drug warriors if it chooses.
The drug warriors are certainly watching. In September, outgoing drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey publicly warned Fox against pulling the Mexican military out of the anti-drug effort. Fox had proposed "demilitarizing" drug law enforcement.
Again in November, McCaffrey warned Fox against eliminating the military's role in drug enforcement. Sounding like a character from the Godfather, McCaffrey told Fox, "Be careful what you do," the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
In an interview with the same paper, DEA administrator Donnie Marshall threw down some markers for the Fox government. Warning that the US "is not satisfied with the results we've seen from Mexico," Marshall told the paper whether or not leading Mexican drug cartel figures are extradited to the US will be a crucial indicator that Mexico is meeting US goals.
Marshall also supported the certification process, claiming it had produced "substantial progress" in Colombia in recent years.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), a nonprofit organization that lobbies for drug courts, is receiving money from pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from broad, court-ordered surveillance and testing of drug users, the Gainesville (Florida) Sun reported on Sunday.
DuPont Pharmaceuticals and Roche Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Hoffman-La Roche Inc., are providing $100,000 each to the association over a four-year period. DuPont makes naltrexone, used to treat heroin and alcohol abusers, while Roche Diagnostics sells drug-testing equipment.
The companies had originally pledged the funds to the National Drug Court Institute, a training and education organization formed jointly by the NADCP and the Office of National Drug Control Policy and federally funded to the tune of $1 million per year. But NADCP President Jerry Tauber told the Sun the money was shifted to the association after the companies complained they were not getting sufficient exposure through the institute. Tauber also cited concerns about mixing public and private funds at the institute.
He appeared much less concerned about potential ethical conflicts, although he did attempt to minimize the companies' influence, telling the Sun that corporate contributions make up only 3% of the NADCP budget.
He also told the Sun that it was "only natural" that the companies would contribute to "causes that are good for the country and good for them."
"These folks, sure, are interested in the survival of drug courts and their health because [drug courts] are ultimately customers," Tauber said.
DuPont also defended the contributions. Company spokesman Tom Barry told the Sun the money was part of DuPont's efforts to promote education about drug courts and their expansion. "This isn't a marketing effort," he said.
According to Barry, DuPont does not heavily market naltrexone, which it sells under the trade name ReVia, because cheaper generic versions are available.
But the Sun found at least one case where DuPont's efforts have paid off. In Buchanan County, Missouri, Circuit Court Judge Patrick Rob presides over a drug court, where some driving while intoxicated offenders are prescribed ReVia. Roy told the Sun he heard about the drug at an NADCP convention where DuPont gave a presentation on using naltrexone in drug courts for alcoholics.
Although NADCP President Tauber remains sanguine, some association members are more attuned to the ethical questions raised by such self-interested corporate sponsorship of groups attempting to influence drug policy.
"The question of potential ethical conflicts always looms out there and needs to loom out there," Randy Monchick, North Carolina's drug court administrator, told the Sun. "NADCP needs to seriously consider that and be aware of it."
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has a web site at http://www.nadcp.org.
At Kentucky's state capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday a nice bit of political theater illustrated the surreal nature of US hemp policy.
As reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, it featured a former Kentucky governor, some would-be Kentucky hemp farmers, and a carload of Oglala Sioux from South Dakota.
Louie Nunn, the Republican ex-governor turned industrial hemp supporter, ceremonially presented the tribe members with a truckload of hemp parked just outside the capitol rotunda. The gift of hemp from the Kentucky Hemp Growers' Cooperative will help build and insulate houses on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The scene was colorful and camera-friendly, but it also made some points about hemp policy. The hemp wasn't from Kentucky; it cannot be legally grown there. Instead, it came from Canada.
"It's a detour around bureaucratic wrangling," Oglala Sioux land director Milo Yellow Hair told the Herald-Leader. "We have to point out how ludicrous this all is. Industrial hemp is a multimillion-dollar industry."
"But neither American Indians nor Kentucky farmers can tap into it."
As DRCNet reported last September 15th (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#southdakota), the Oglala found that out the hard way when a heavily-armed gang of DEA, FBI, US Marshals, and state police raided the tribe's experimental hemp fields in August.
"It doesn't make much sense that this product can be shipped in from Canada, we can ship it to South Dakota, we can stand here and talk about it but we can't grow it," said Andy Graves of the Kentucky Hemp Growers' Co-op.
Nunn and the co-op members took the opportunity to laud the virtues of industrial hemp as well. "Not only will hemp be a great alternative crop, but with its many uses, it could bring an industrial revolution to this state 20 years from now," said Nunn.
He told the gathering he planned to travel along with the Kentucky hemp shipment to educate people about the crop and its uses.
Yellow Hair and the other tribe members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe were grateful for the gift.
"When we needed hemp, Kentuckians stood up and helped us," Yellow Hair Said. "It's a very symbolic move, and we want to build on it."
(Also read our "Hemp Lunacy" editorial about the Oglala hemp incident, http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#editorial from the same issue.)
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen editorializes on the Robert Downey Jr. arrest: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4740-2000Nov29.html
Sources report that ABC News 20/20 will air a piece on the Tulia, Texas mass drug sting, this Monday evening, 12/4. Check Monday afternoon to verify.
(Please submit listings of events related to drug policy and related areas to [email protected].)
December 2, New Haven, CT, 9:30am-6:30pm, First Conference on Drug Policy and the Prison Overcrowding Crisis in Connecticut. At Yale University, Lindsley Chittenden room 101, 203, 204 and 205, open to the public. For further information, contact Luke Bronin at [email protected] or Adam Hurter at (860) 285-8831 or [email protected].
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.
March 9-11, 2001, New York, NY, Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex. Northeast regional conference, following on the large national gathering in 1998, to focus on the impacts of the prison industrial complex in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and bWashington, DC. Visit http://www.criticalresistance.org for further information, or call (212) 561-0912 or e-mail [email protected].
April 1-5, 2001, New Delhi, India, 12th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm. Sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Coalition, for information visit http://www.ihrc-india2001.org on the web, e-mail [email protected], call 91-11-6237417-18, fax 91-11-6217493 or write to Showtime Events Pvt. Ltd., S-567, Greater Kailash - II, New Delhi 110 048, India.
April 19-21, Washington, DC, 2001 NORML Conference. Call (202) 293-8340 for information. Registration and other information to be made available soon at http://www.norml.org.
April 25-28, Minneapolis, MN, North American Syringe Exchange Convention. Sponsored by the North American Syringe Exchange Network, for further information call (253) 272-4857, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.nasen.org on the web. At the Marriott City Center Hotel, 30 South Seventh Street.
David Borden, Executive Director,[email protected]
TV news viewers the last two days were treated to glimpses of some of Florida's Ryder rental trucks. To Tallahassee they went, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade ballots aboard, news copters in tow, doing their part to select the legally determinate winner of a statistically indeterminate election.
They might have traveled on some of the big US highways or Interstates -- roads like I-95 or US-1, stretching from Florida to Maine -- on their way passing through the Garden State, New Jersey, the focus of a pitched debate on the state police practice of racial profiling. The statistics there are anything but indeterminate -- New Jersey police did engage in racial profiling, all parties now agree, and engaged in it widely -- on the highways and everywhere else.
The primary culprit in the profiling debacle is the war on drugs. Unlike crimes against persons, which have a complaining victim, drug crimes involve consenting parties who wish very much to keep their transactions private. In order to find drugs, police adopt highly intrusive tactics -- stop and frisks, vehicle searches, no knock warrants, etc. -- and in order to decide where and when to intrude, they've adopted the use of profiles, racial and other.
The profiles, of course, are a self-fulfilling prophecy -- if you primarily search African Americans and Latinos, then those are the people you'll catch with drugs -- because those are the people you've searched. Yet we know from research that drug use and sales occur at approximately the same rate in both our minority and majority communities.
One of the consequences of racial profiling, therefore, is a disproportionately high conviction rate of African Americans on felony drug charges: Though blacks make up 13% of the population and 13% of drug users, they constitute more than 55% of those convicted for drug offenses. And under many states' felony disenfranchisement law, large numbers of black men have permanently lost the right to vote.
Felony disenfranchisement is properly regarded by African American leaders as one of the most important civil rights issues facing Americans today. In Florida, according to salon.com, a full third of all adult African American men have been disenfranchised for felony convictions. Only a small percentage of them would actually have had to vote in order to swing the current election in that state and thereby the nation.
Racial profiling, then, has impacted on our democracy, to the highest corridors of government. And so, we watch the Ryder trucks, transfixed by a legally valid but statistically meaningless election frenzy. Racial profiling, felony disenfranchisement and the drug war are all to blame.
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