Calling All Activists: Ashcroft, Hemp 1/26/01

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URGENT ACTION ITEM #1: John Ashcroft

At the time of this writing, more than 3,500 people have visited our StopJohnAshcroft.org web site to contact their US Senators. We believe the appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney General would spell trouble for sentencing/prison policies, medical marijuana, needle exchange, racial profiling, you name it. See our article from two weeks ago for further info on Ashcroft's drug war record (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/166.html#ashcroft).

Since then, the smoking gun has come out: As governor, Ashcroft looked the other way as state police conspired with the DEA to evade Missouri Constitutional requirements for use of asset forfeiture funds.

Please visit http://www.StopJohnAshcroft.org to read more about it, and to send e-mail or faxes to your two US Senators and to get their phone numbers and local contact information -- or just call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can also visit http://www.senate.gov to look up their web sites and find out their direct numbers in Washington and their local phone numbers and locations in your state. Make an in-person visit if you can!

Note that our opposition to the Ashcroft appointment is nonpartisan -- we opposed Clinton's drug czar appointee, Barry McCaffrey, five years ago -- and is based solely on the Senator's drug war record. The fact that Ashcroft is positioned in the rightward end of the political spectrum has not played a role in our decision to oppose him, and in fact our supporters span the full range of the political spectrum -- liberals, conservatives, libertarians and others -- a few who even support Ashcroft for other reasons, despite their disagreement with his pro-drug war stances. We respect their opinions, and want to make clear that we oppose drug warriors regardless of their political party or stands on other issues.

URGENT ACTION ITEM #2: Save Industrial Hemp

Drug warriors at the DEA and ONDCP are trying to ban a whole range of products made with industrial, non-drug hemp. Their motivation, ostensibly, is that hemp interferes with drug testing and creates false positives, causing problems with federal drug testing programs more complicated. Really, they are simply committed to a bizarre ideology that considers hemp a drug, even though you can't get high with it. But in doing so, they are attempting to administratively rewrite 63 years of US law that clearly makes an exception for low-THC hemp in the marijuana laws. Their actions threaten to make a perfectly legal, fledgling industry and its patrons all victims of the drug war.

What is happening is that DEA is planning to publish three "interim rules," which would immediately become effective while they go through the longer process. First, the DEA proposes to change its interpretation of existing law to bring hemp products within the purview of the Controlled Substances Act; second, to change DEA regulations to agree with the new interpretation; and third, to exempt traditional hemp products not designed for human consumption, such as paper and clothing, from being subject to the Controlled Substances Act. (See http://www.drcnet.org/wol/165.html#hempembargo for further information on the looming Hemp Embargo.)

For the rules to become effective, several federal agencies have to sign off on them. The so-called Dept. of Justice has already done so, but they still have to go through Customs, Treasury, Commerce, and the Office of Management and Budget. Please call your US Representative and your two US Senators; ask them to oppose the DEA's illegal hemp regulations and to put pressure on these agencies to reject the regulations. Again, you can reach all three of them via the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or look up their DC and local contact info and locations via http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov on the web.

Also, you can write to Congress at http://www.votehemp.com or http://www.savehemp.org on the web.

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Issue #170, 1/26/01 Strange Days in the Land of Enchantment: Drug Reform Groups Play Key Role as Battle Over Gov. Johnson's Package Heats Up | Pataki Fleshes Out Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Package | Clinton Commutes a Few More Drug Sentences at Last Minute | Columbia: New Administration in Washington, Same Old Game? | Chapare, Bolivia Community Charges Torture and Human Rights Violations by US-funded Anti-Drug Force | New RAND Study Finds Federal Agencies Overstate Drug Treatment and Prevention Spending | Belgium Decriminalizes Marijuana for Personal Use, Users Must Grow Their Own or Buy it in the Netherlands, Says Government | New Zealand Parliament Again Reviewing Cannabis Laws | Bush on Drugs: The New President Speaks Up to CNN | Calling All Activists: Ashcroft, Hemp | The Reformer's Calendar: LA, Philly, Portland, New York, DC, SF, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Fort Bragg, Miami, Amsterdam, New Delhi
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