The Reformer's Calendar 3/2/01

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Please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to tell Congress to repeal the drug offender student financial aid ban -- and download an activist packet while you're there, students especially! Please visit http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html to help us continue this campaign -- your donations are needed now more than ever!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Financial Aid Administrators Join Students to Support Higher Education Act Reform Efforts as Rep. Frank Introduces Repeal Measure
  2. Drug Czar Demoted? Post Still Vacant Amid Hints It Will Lose Cabinet Rank
  3. Thailand: As US Military Moves to Assist in Campaign Against Burmese Drug Exports, Signs of Fatigue Appear
  4. "Monitoring the Future" Head Researcher Speaks Out on Drug Trends, Drug War, Drug Policy
  5. High in the NBA
  6. DRCNet en Español
  7. Reformers on TV
  8. Reformers on the Radio
  9. The Reformer's Calendar
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(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Financial Aid Administrators Join Students to Support Higher Education Act Reform Efforts as Rep. Frank Introduces Repeal Measure

The growing effort to amend the Higher Education Act's drug war provision, which denies financial aid to students convicted of a drug offense, got its legislative send-off on Wednesday, as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) reintroduced legislation to repeal the provision in the new, 107th Congress.

At a Capitol Hill press conference, congressional cosponsors, national student and drug reform groups and representatives of college financial aid administrators joined with Frank to denounce the provision. Under the provision, added in 1998, more than 8,000 college students lost access to grants, loans, and work assistance this school year.

"Someone who commits murder or armed robbery is not automatically barred from financial aid eligibility," said Rep. Frank, "but if you have even one nonviolent drug conviction, you can't get any aid for a year, with longer bans for people with additional convictions."

DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton also appeared at the press conference to denounce the provision, saying, "In the roster of counterproductive government sanctions, it would be difficult to top denying a kid the right to apply for a Pell Grant because she was caught experimenting with a few joints."

Arguing that the law's intent was to target drug dealers, Norton said the real effect was "tragically inverted."

"The law in fact ensnares young, inexperienced people who are not only the most likely to have minor drug offenses," Norton said, "but are also most open to change if they reach college or another plateau before going down the road to more serious drugs."

Citing reforms afoot in New York, New Mexico, California, and elsewhere, Norton blasted her congressional colleagues as "a lot more than behind the times" and seared the law for its "pernicious class and race effects."

"Mandatory minimum drug laws have wrecked the black family," Norton told the press conference. "Now federal law would wreck the chances of young people who have rehabilitated themselves. The states are looking for alternatives to incarceration for first-time drug offenders. The least Congress owes these efforts is to free the best alternative of them all -- a college education."

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) also alluded to larger issues, calling the war on drugs a "war on people." Hinchey described a concurrent Capitol Hill press conference held by sheriffs from around the country calling for alternatives to our nation's enforcement-based approach to criminal justice. "There are three reasons people commit crimes," Hinchey said, paraphrasing the sheriffs, "they have a drug problem, they have an alcohol problem, or they're unemployed."

College students across the country are in increasing agreement with Norton, Frank, and the rest of the effort to reform the HEA's drug provision. Prodded by the Higher Education Act Reform Campaign, organized by DRCNet (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org), student governments at more than 40 schools, ranging from big state universities such as the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of California-Berkeley to elite private institutions such as Yale, the University of Southern California, and American University, and even extending to the hi-tech precincts of the Rochester Institute of Technology, have endorsed resolutions calling for the provision's repeal.

So have state and national student and academic associations, including the Association of Big Ten Schools, the United Council of University of Wisconsin Students, the Student Association of the State University of New York, and the United States Student Association (USSA).

In a departure for student movements, the movement is cutting across racial lines. The student association at the prominent historically black college, Howard University, has endorsed the law's repeal, with other such schools examining the issue, and NAACP chapters at a range of institutions have taken the lead on their campuses in putting the question to their school's student governments.

And for the first time, in Congress, at least, the HEA reform movement is also cutting across party lines: One of the 23 original cosponsors of Frank's bill is Connie Morella, a Republican representative from Maryland.

USSA legislative director Corye Barbour explained to the press conference why the national student group wants the law changed. Calling the provision "fundamentally unfair," Barbour pointed out that "the drug question" has a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority students.

"We cannot pretend this is a race neutral policy," Barbour said. "Students of color, particularly those who are young and from low-income families are more likely to be stopped, searched, prosecuted, and convicted for drug crimes. Introducing the bias we know is in the criminal justice system into the educational system is unconscionable."

Barbour also cited research of direct relevance to the new law. "What the Department of Education has confirmed over and over again is that once a student leaves school for a year or more, his or her chances of completing a degree drop dramatically. Taking away a student's aid eligibility tells the student that we are more concerned with punishing students' mistakes than helping them attain a degree."

"If we truly want to reduce drug use in our country, let's put more students in school, not less," Barbour concluded.

Eileen O'Leary, President of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and Financial Aid Director at Stonehill College, expressed a similar sentiment, saying, "Studies show very clearly that by 2015, the majority of new high school graduates will be minority students, very many from poor families. Studies also show that higher education is the single best means of moving citizens out of poverty and into prosperity and self-sufficiency, since degree attainment is correlated so closely to income."

Two of the engineers of the student repeal movement, SSDP National Director Shawn Heller and DRCNet Campus Coordinator Steven Silverman, also addressed the press conference.

Heller, alluding to the previous night's presidential State of the Union address, told the conference, "We call on President Bush, who recently reaffirmed that education is his first national priority, to call for the repeal of the drug provision," said Heller, "and thus allow educational access for thousands of students denied financial aid."

Silverman commented that "'Tough on drugs' is not the same thing as being smart about drug policy -- and a law that pushes young people away from civil society at a time when they most need to be drawn in, is not smart. Students, who have witnessed the failure of the drug war firsthand, understand this. That's why students from around the country have stood up to 'Just Say No' to a drug war waged against educational opportunities."

Fueled by student outrage over the HEA drug provision, SSDP has grown from a single chapter at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1998 to more than 80 chapters across the country today. It is SSDP more than any other group that has harnessed that outrage and channeled it into an increasingly potent student drug reform movement.

But students and progressive members of Congress are "the usual suspects" when it comes to drug policy reform. The same cannot be said for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Adminstrators (NASFAA), which has also joined the repeal effort.

NASFAA Director of Congressional Relations Larry Zaglaniczny appeared along side Rep. Frank to explain why this rather staid organization is lining up with students and drug reformers.

"Many financial aid administrators over the years have objected to the Congress' and the administration's tendency to micromanage the federal student aid system," Zaglaniczny said, adding that both parties were guilty of meddling. Congress has at times tried to use federal student aid as a tool to promote other social goals, but these efforts are often at odds with the greater social goal of providing potential students with the financial wherewithal to attend college, he said. "Higher Education Act Section 484 (r) [the drug provision] is such a provision."

Saying that people convicted of drug crimes have paid their debt to society through the criminal justice system, Zaglaniczny said drug offenders should not be punished again by the HEA drug provision.

"[Drug offenders applying to college] now are attempting to gain useful skills and an education for their advancement in our society and in the workplace. They should not be denied those opportunities," he said. "Repeal of Higher Education Act 484 (r) is necessary to ensure such an outcome."

That probably will not happen this year. Despite the growing opposition to the drug provision, there are few signs that reformers have the strength to even force a vote in committee, let alone get it through the House this year. The real showdown is likely to occur next year, when the HEA Act comes up for its biennial renewal.

Rep. Frank admitted as much in responding to questions after the press conference.

"This year, we may try to attach the bill as an amendment if the opportunity arises, but we have seen no indication that anything has changed on the committee," he said. "We are laying the groundwork for 2002."

For SSDP's Heller and DRCNet's Silverman that means they have another year of organizing in which to strengthen their coalition.

"We think by building momentum in Congress and on campus this year, the HEA reauthorization act next year will be passed without the drug provision," Heller told the Week Online.

"At first, we were disappointed that we didn't have a real shot this year," Silverman told the Week Online, "but now we see it as an opportunity to deepen the grassroots mobilization already underway within key Congressional districts. By next year, we will have a very strong shot at making a difference in the committee and getting the law repealed once and for all."

Please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to tell Congress to repeal the drug offender student financial aid ban -- and download an activist packet while you're there, students especially! Please visit http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html to help us continue this campaign -- your donations are needed now more than ever!


2. Drug Czar Demoted? Post Still Vacant Amid Hints It Will Lose Cabinet Rank

A month after President George W. Bush came into power, he has yet to fill the post of drug czar, as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is commonly known. Last held by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who stepped down last month, the office is being headed on an interim basis by McCaffrey's assistant, Bob Weiner. There are also growing indications that Bush will not let the drug czar keep a cabinet seat, a practice followed by President Clinton but not by Presidents Reagan and Bush pére.

What this means in terms of Bush's approach to drug policy remains unclear. In comments to CNN on the eve of his inauguration (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/170.html#bushondrugs), Bush subtly hinted at a different direction than the law enforcement-heavy approach favored by the Clinton administration and conservative Republicans, including his own new Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who said recently that he wanted to "reinvigorate the drug war."

"I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that maybe long minimum sentences for the first-time users may not be the best way to occupy jail space and/or heal people from their disease," he told CNN's Candy Crowley, "and I'm willing to look at that."

And in his meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox two weeks ago, Bush explicitly accepted that US demand for drugs drove the Mexican drug trade. There he echoed his new Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who has questioned further use of the military in prosecuting the drug war and said the problem was "overwhelmingly a demand problem." Along with his embrace of "faith-based initiatives," such comments suggest that Bush may be about to unveil a kindler, gentler drug war refocused on treatment and demand reduction.

But that isn't why the drug czar will likely be demoted. Despite compassionate words about treatment and rehabilitation, Bush's new budget outline, released on Wednesday, calls for an increase of $1.5 billion in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spending.

By law, the heads of 14 federal agencies get Cabinet seats; the rest are at the president's behest. Clinton was especially prolific, adding 11 other slots, but Bush is under no obligation to retain the Clinton Cabinet structure, and his aides told the Times that a slimmed-down Cabinet would be more effective. He has granted Cabinet status to only three other agency heads, EPA Director Christine Whitman, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels.

"What he is more looking at is what creates a more effective operation, a more effective Cabinet," said a Bush aide. "If you get the Cabinet too large, it becomes a bulky mechanism."

The official White House word is that the decision on the drug czar's status is "pending," but: "You can draw some conclusions," a Bush aide told the newspaper. "It's been 30 days and he hasn't added [the drug czar] in."

The same modest but chatty Bush aide told the Times the White House expects to take flak from its right flank and is preemptively preparing a message that the demotion "doesn't signal any change in his perception as to whether he thinks this is an important area."

In fact, the White House is already hearing grumblings from conservative drug warriors worried that Bush may lack zeal in prosecuting the drug war. Earlier this year, several leading Republican lawmakers wrote an open letter to Bush calling for a renewed commitment to current policies and warning that "any downgrade of the drug czar position below Cabinet status at the outset of your administration would be a political misstep." They added, "Downgrading the Drug Czar position would send a confusing message to our nation's young people and a troubling message to our international allies in our fight against drugs" (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/169.html#newdrugczar).

And former drug czar Bill Bennett weighed in last week with a slashing op-ed in the Washington Post, where he warned that reducing criminal penalties would make it more difficult to get drug users into treatment.

"People who are forced to enter treatment under legal sanctions are more likely to complete treatment programs and thus more likely to get well," wrote Bennett. "If we treat drug use as a purely medical problem, and treatment as something that can be only voluntarily taken up, fewer people will enter treatment -- and those who enter treatment are less likely to get well."

Conservatives are also lobbying Bush to name a new drug czar quickly and reinvigorate the drug war. Bennett, in an interview with the Knight Ridder News Service, said: "It's time to use the bully pulpit again and reengage public debate on these issues."

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported grumbling among "most officials" it surveyed that no drug czar had been nominated. William Maginnis, vice president of the social conservative Family Research Council, has also weighed in recently. "I've heard a lot about tax cuts (from the administration), but not about drug policy. I'm concerned because every day that's lost will have an impact on a few more kids."

Maginnis, who wants the job himself, has ginned up a "grassroots" effort to push his candidacy and succeeded in gaining the support of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). A Hastert aide confirmed last week to Knight Ridder that Hastert had endorsed Maginnis and put in a good word for him with the White House.

According to Knight Ridder, Capitol Hill Republicans say former Florida Congressman Bill McCollum, an ardent drug warrior during his tenure on the Hill, and current Florida drug czar James McDonough are in the running.

But according to the insider newsletter Washington Weekly, McCollum, whom it called "the preferred candidate of many of the firmest supporters of the war against drugs," has told the White House that he would be interested only if the position remained at Cabinet level.

In the eyes of some drug reformers, McDonough wouldn't be much better.

"I expect he would be very much a McCaffrey type and we'd see a zero tolerance to drugs," Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy (http://www.csdp.org) told the Weekly. "McDonough, who's been campaigning for the drug-czar job and wants it most, might even be more conservative than McCaffrey. So, I don't think he'd make a very effective drug czar," Zeese added.

Two candidates with outside shots are Boise, Idaho, Mayor H. Brent Coles, a Republican moderate who heads the US Conference of Mayors, and Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, District Attorney Rick Romley. Romley has won praise from some quarters of the drug reform movement for his pioneering efforts to divert first-time non-violent drug users from criminal trial, if they undergo court-supervised treatment. But he has also made a name for himself as a rabid prosecutor of methamphetamine offenses and as point man in efforts to defeat groundbreaking drug reform initiatives in Arizona in 1996 and 1998. Ironically, Romley is being criticized from the right for his role in those battles -- because he failed to win them.

According to reports in the Arizona Republic, Romley interviewed for the job in Washington last week, and the newspaper said a decision would be made shortly.


3. Thailand: As US Military Moves to Assist in Campaign Against Burmese Drug Exports, Signs of Fatigue Appear

In the wake of an agreement reached last year, US military forces operating out of Chaing Mai, in northern Thailand, are training Thai troops in counternarcotics enforcement in an effort to slow the flow of heroin and methamphetamine coming into the country from neighboring Burma (Myanmar). There, the rebel United Wa State Army operates large-scale methamphetamine factories to supplement its traditional role of Golden Triangle heroin broker.

Thai authorities consider methamphetamine the nation's most severe drug problem, with the number of users estimated at one million, with 200,000 to 300,000 in Bangkok alone. They accuse the Wa Army of smuggling meth tablets by the hundreds of millions annually, and reported seizing 25 million tablets last year.

But even as the Thai military ratchets up its endless war against drug smugglers, signs of fatigue and frustration have begun to appear within the country's political class. At least twice in the last year, highly-placed politicians have called for state control or legalization of the methamphetamine trade, and last week the Thai Interior Minister announced that he would institute a program to remove drug offenders from the country's prisons and instead rehabilitate them.

The first crack in the wall came nearly a year ago, when Man Patanothai, assistant secretary to the interior minister, suggested the Thai government sell methamphetamine at low prices to drive traffickers out of business and to lessen the social harm of addiction.

"I have talked with US drug experts who suggested an eye-for-an-eye approach," he told the Bangkok Post. "The state can sell methamphetamine at 15-20 bhat (roughly 40 to 50 US cents) a pill through its hospitals and clinics, but every buyer must also buy curing pills. The US government will support the idea if we dare implement it," he said.

Man's assessment of US support for a legalized meth market is clearly misinformed and his resort to "curing pills" that do not as yet exist is somewhat quixotic, but his pronouncement represented a startling paradigm-shift in a country that has traditionally responded to drug use and trafficking with severe prison sentences in legendarily nasty prisons. There are currently 130,000 people serving time on drug charges in Thailand.

Man blamed the escalating campaign against methamphetamine for jamming the country's prisons and suggested that officials ease up on young users to help stem prison overcrowding.

"When methamphetamine was made a grade 1 drug like heroin, anyone caught with a few pills ended up in jail," he said. "Teenagers should be given rehabilitation and put on probation so they can hopefully return to the right path," Man added, "but if they go to jail, they may become cruel criminals because prisons are hell on earth."

Man also brazenly referred to police corruption, asking the police to refrain from planting drugs on people they dislike. "The righteous performance of the police could also help relieve prisons," he added.

A few months later, Man's notion got a second when Senator Kavi Spathira called for legalization of amphetamines. The senator, a member of the senate's government affairs committee, told the Thai News Agency in October that state stores should sell the drug.

"The government should set up drug stores nationwide to sell the drug at one baht a tablet to control the supply and demand of the drug," he told Interior Ministry officials.

Kavi said such a policy would undermine the United Wa State Army, which has been giving Thai authorities fits for years even as they have moved aggressively to reduce opium production at home.

"The Wa would be severely hurt by this measure," he said.

Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon didn't mention the Wa last week when he announced the plan to move drug offenders out of the prisons and shift enforcement emphasis from users and small-scale drug sellers to big-time traffickers. Instead, he spoke of prison overcrowding and the need for rehabilation -- not jail -- for drug addicts.

"Prisons are meant for serious criminals. We will propose new ways for the courts to punish petty criminals," Purachai told a press conference in Bangkok.

It doesn't appear, however, that Thai drug offenders can now expect Betty Ford Center-style help. They will be sent to military and police bases, Purachai said, and supervised by police or soldiers. It is not known what sort of drug treatment capabilities the Thai police and military possess.


4. "Monitoring the Future" Head Researcher Speaks Out on Drug Trends, Drug War, Drug Policy

Lloyd Johnston, a research scientist at the University of Michigan, has for the last quarter-century headed the federally funded Monitoring the Future study of drug use and other behaviors among American students and young adults (http://www.monitoringthefuture.org). The study's longitudinal surveys of drug use patterns among the young have long been critical ammunition in the nation's ongoing debate over drug policy. Johnston was interviewed by the Detroit News last week. Below are excerpts from that interview.

On the War on Drugs:

"The metaphor of a war on drugs has always been the wrong one because it is good for mobilizing a country, which is what Richard Nixon did when he introduced the metaphor. But it is not good for sustaining the effort because a war implies that somehow there is going to be a winner and a loser, and there's an end. This is an ongoing problem that is chronic. We will never win it. What we do is contain it and reduce it.

"If you want to think of it in those terms, there is a battlefield of supply reduction and a battlefield of demand reduction. We've not been terribly successful on the supply reduction battlefield. That's often where a sense of futility derives. The fundamental reason is there is an endless supply of suppliers. Whenever we dry up one source country or one intermediary like Manuel Noriega (in Panama), there is always a replacement."

On drug policy reform:

"One thing we have been moving toward, I'm glad to see, is the increasing access to treatment and, in particular, introducing treatment in prisons. We need to have better prevention programs in the schools than we have."

"I'm opposed to legalization because it is likely to increase the proportion of our population, in particular, our young people, using drugs. The drugs that are by far the most widely used are alcohol and tobacco. It is not a coincidence that those are legal drugs. I don't think any of us really want our kids to be high a lot of the time. It is also a policy which is a one-way ratchet. If you legalize, it's very hard to go back. The best illustration of that happened during Prohibition. [People] thought it was their right to have alcohol, and any attempt to remove that 'right' was seen as illegitimate."

"That doesn't necessarily mean I'm in favor of Draconian laws. We can have much milder responses to users as opposed to dealers. In the war on drugs, the enemy are our own kids. It doesn't make a lot of sense [to punish users]. Extreme punishment clearly hasn't worked. What has generally happened is that the stamping has occurred on the little guys, and the big guys still get away. Even some of the conservatives in Michigan who favored minimum mandatory sentencing and so forth want it undone because they basically see it as a failed policy. It filled prisons with people who shouldn't be there."

On long-term trends in drug use:

"This illicit drug epidemic really started in the mid-to late 1960s. The counterculture took some drugs at least as symbolic of its defiance of societal norms, particularly marijuana and LSD. That legitimated drug use for broad sectors of society, particularly youth. We've never really gotten back to before that era in drug use, and we may not for a long time. The thing coasted to a peak in 1978-79, when we saw the highest proportion of Americans using illicit drugs. After that, there was a 13-year period of almost continuous drop in drug use. The major exception was cocaine coming along in the early '80s and establishing itself until 1986. Then, cocaine came to be seen as a very dangerous drug, and its use dropped dramatically.

"In the first half of the '90s, we saw a resurgence of the epidemic until about 1996, '97. But it was specific to adolescence. It was not observed among young or older adults. Marijuana and cigarettes were making a comeback. Then, in the late '90s, there was a turnaround and some reduction in drug use by older teens and more reduction among the younger teens. This is probably the most good news for the future, because they will become the older teens."

On race, ethnicity, and drug use patterns:

"We have known for quite sometime, for example, that African-American kids have never been very interested in inhalants. Similarly, hallucinogens have not caught on among African-American kids. That seems so far to include ecstasy. The African-American kids, especially as they get into their later teens, tend to be lower on all drugs, licit and illicit. There's also now a huge difference in the cigarette smoking rates. Cigarette smoking has clearly lost cachet among black adolescents and is seen as white behavior."

"Unfortunately, we don't have large enough samples to characterize some of the smaller ethnic groups, like Native Americans or Orientals, on an annual basis. But we do look at them periodically. In general, Native Americans tend to have the highest illicit drug use rate among any ethnic group, quite devastating actually. Among the three large ethnic groups -- Hispanics, blacks and whites -- whites generally have the highest rate in the middle and late teen years in the school samples. But when we look at the eighth graders, when virtually no dropping out has yet occurred, Hispanics come out high on a number of things. Blacks, on average, have the lowest use rate. And if Orientals were included, they would be lower still."

On DARE:

"DARE is not considered an effective drug prevention program by anybody in the drug use field except DARE. There is an effort to reformulate what DARE is, to change the content and so forth. All that is fine. Individual school districts decide what they are going to have in their curriculum, so they can choose. It seems to me that when there are programs out there that are proven effective, it doesn't make much sense to pick up one that isn't proven effective. One of the fundamental problems with DARE is that it's premised on the notion that a police officer is the best change agent in dealing with kids on this subject. A police officer is an authority figure. These kids are at an age when they are anti-authority. That may be the Achilles heel."


5. High in the NBA

National Basketball Association (NBA) veteran Charles Oakley of the Toronto Raptors re-ignited the league's smoldering controversy over drug use among players last week when he told the New York Post that the league's drug testing policy was "a joke" and that more than half of league players are regular marijuana smokers.

"You got guys out there playing high every night," Oakley claimed. "You got 60% of your league on marijuana. What can you do?"

The 17-year league veteran also told the Post that marijuana-smoking had increased dramatically during his career. When he first broke into the league, Oakley said, "there might have been one out of six" players using marijuana. "Now it's six out of 12," he claimed.

When queried about the accuracy of his figures, Oakley said, "It's over 50%, and once you get over 50 you've got to go to the next number, 60."

While Oakley was immediately criticized for his remarks by NBA officials and some players and coaches, others defended the accuracy of his comments.

NBA Commissioner David Stern called Oakley "reckless" for making such statements without providing specifics and challenged him to turn any evidence he had over to the league. And Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders soon joined the chorus.

"I'll tell you, for someone to make a blanket statement like that, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Saunders told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "He might have proof. I don't know. I haven't heard those types of things."

"It's not fair to the players in the league when someone comes out and says something like that," Saunders added, "unless there's documentation that they know."

Oakley produced no studies to back up his assertion, but Timberwolves assistant coach Greg Ballard seemed to side more with the veteran player than with his own boss. Ballard told the Star-Tribune that during his playing days in the early 1980s, stories circulated that 75% of NBA players were pot-smokers. After retiring, said Ballard, he came to find out that the numbers were accurate for at least one of the teams for which he played.

Oakley also gained support from fellow Raptor point-guard Mark Jackson, who told Canada's National Post that Oakley was blunt, but truthful.

"I respect him. The man doesn't bite his tongue and he speaks his mind," Jackson said of Oakley. "If he is a liar, prove that he's a liar. If not, do something about it."

There is not much the NBA can do about it. The league only began testing for marijuana last year after several prominent players ran into legal problems over the weed. The list of NBA players who have been charged with marijuana possession in recent years includes Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, Sacramento's Chris Webber and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But even so, the National Basketball Players' Association (NBPA) -- the players' union -- fought vigorously to restrict testing and to protect the rights and privacy of players.

It continues to do so. Late last month, Los Angeles Lakers player Isiah Rider refused to submit to drug tests required by the league's drug after-care program, saying he should not have been assigned to it because a drug incident at an Orlando hotel was not conclusively linked to him. After a game against the Atlanta Hawks, for whom Rider played at the time, an Orlando hotel security officer notified Rider's general manager that "evidence of marijuana use" had been found in his room.

Rider, who had been arrested for marijuana possession four years ago, was then ordered into the league's drug program, which would require him to undergo testing and counseling. Rider accused teammates Dikembe Mutombo and LaPhonso Ellis of snitching on him, but now claims that his alleged drug use was not established as fact, the Los Angeles Times reported.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter stood by Rider, refusing to discuss the case for reporters. "Under the terms of our collective bargaining agreement, all parties are prohibited from disclosing any information relating to the anti-drug program," he said in a prepared statement.

If the case is not resolved amicably, it could result in another confrontation between the league and the players.

For players not accused of drug use or drug law violations, the league's testing policy is relatively lax -- precisely because the NBPA advocated so forcefully for its members. Veterans are tested once a year and rookies three times.

That irritates Oakley, although probably not a significant number of other NBA players.

"You test a guy, he gets high the next day," he told the New York Post. "There's no respect for the game no more."

Neither the league nor the NBPA returned calls from DRCNet seeking clarification.

Oakley's teammate Mark Jackson put the whole brouhaha in perspective when he talked to reporters last week.

"[Drug use] is not just a problem in sports, it's a problem in the world today. Matter of fact, some of you guys behind the microphones and the cameras, maybe 60% of you guys..."


6. DRCNet en Español

DRCNet is proud to announce a new feature of our web site and newsletter: DRCNet en Español. We will henceforth be providing Spanish language translations of selected articles from the Week Online, on an as-time-permits basis. We hope to provide Spanish versions of most if not all of this newsletter, but plan even during busy times to translate at least one or two. This is the first time we're doing this, so we would welcome any feedback from Spanish-speaking readers.

Interested parties can check out DRCNet Español materials at http://www.drcnet.org/espanol/ on the web. We don't have all of the links an accompanying explanations translated yet, so please be patient. However, two articles with working links are available on the site now:

Nuevo Informe Critica a Clinton por su Política Carcelaria
(New Report Rakes Clinton on Imprisonment)
http://www.drcnet.org/espanol/wol174/clintoncritica.html

La Coca-Go-Round: La Producción Peruana Comienza a Aumentar Mientras qué la Rociadura Destruye Campos Colombianos
(The Coca-Go-Round: Peruvian Production Starts to Increase as Spraying Destroys Colombian Fields):
http://www.drcnet.org/espanol/wol174/la-coca-go-round.html

Please return as soon as this weekend if you wish to receive DRCNet Espanol bulletins via e-mail just fill out the "quick-signup" form at http://www.drcnet.org/espanol/ to subscribe.

Week Online Editor Phil Smith is the contact for DRCNet Espanol. He can be reached at [email protected].


7. Reformers on TV: Gov. Johnson, Mike Gray

CNN The Spin Room -- Should the Government Legalize Drugs? Discussion featuring New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, aired February 22nd, 10:30pm EST -- transcript available at http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0102/22/tsr.00.html online.

CNN TalkBack Live -- The War on Drugs: Winnable Battle or Lost Cause? Debating featuring DRCNet Advisory Board member Mike Gray, author of "Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out." Aired February 27th, 3:00pm EST -- transcript available at http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0102/27/tl.00.html online.

Support DRCNet with a $35 or greater donation and receive a free copy of Drug Crazy! Visit http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html to join.


8. Reformers on the Radio: DRCNet's David Borden on Pacifica Tonight and Internet Radio Next Week

DRCNet Executive Director David Borden was interviewed by WBAI, the New York affiliate of the Pacifica Radio Network, discussing the drug offender financial aid ban and the campaign to repeal it. The segment is scheduled to air tonight (Friday, 2/2), during the 6:30-7:00pm time slot.

Borden and Students for Sensible Drug Policy National Director Shawn Heller will appear on the Mintwood Hour, a live Internet radio broadcast sponsored by the District of Columbia Independent Media Center. The topic will again be the Higher Education Act drug provision. Listeners need to have Real Audio installed, and should log on to http://www.dc.indymedia.org this Thursday (2/8), 9:00pm, and can call in by phone to (202) 797-1280.


9. The Reformer's Calendar

Please submit listings of events related to drug policy and related areas to [email protected].

March 5, 5:00pm, Syracuse, NY, "Is the War on Drugs Working?" Debate at SU School of Law with Michael Roona, ReconsiDer and Prof. Levitsky, Maxwell School of Public Policy. For further information, e-mail [email protected].

March 5, 6:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "The Quagmire in Colombia: Addressing the Drug War Habit." Table Talk with Prof. Ken Sharpe of Swarthmore College, at the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., $30 includes three-course dinner and discussion, $25 for full-time students registering in advance. For further information visit http://www.whitedog.com or call (215) 386-9224; students may call between for 4:00 and 5:30pm on event days for standby registration, $15 (dinner) or free (discussion only, 7:30).

March 6, 7:00pm, New York, NY, "Drugs and the Courts: A Debate." Discussing the Report to Judge Kaye by the Commission on Drugs and the Courts. At the House of the Bar Association of New York City, 42 West 44th St. For further info, call (212) 382-6600.

March 7, 10:00am, Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia Prison System Tour and Lunch. At the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, 8301 State Road, will include discussion with inmates and drug treatment staff. Lunch provided by the Hard Time Cafe, a culinary arts training program for prisoners. Reservations required, call (215) 386-9224, $6/person for lunch and tour, carpooling available.

March 8, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Women and the Drug War," forum sponsored by The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. Featuring Amy Ralston (Pofahl), former drug war prisoner granted clemency by President Clinton; as well as Ellen Barry, Legal Services for Women with Children; Barbara Owen, CSU Fresno Dept. of Criminology; and Andrea Shorter of the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. At the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter (at Franklin), call (415) 921-4987 or e-mail [email protected] to reserve a space.

March 9-11, 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 Washington, DC. Visit http://www.criticalresistance.org for further information, or call (212) 561-0912 or e-mail [email protected].

March 11, 7:30pm, Philadelphia, PA, "The Drug Dilemma: War or Peace," with Walter Cronkite, and "War Zone," film examining police state tactics in the drug war. Movie Night at the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., free, seating limited. RSVP to (215) 386-9224 or visit http://www.whitedog.com for further info; restaurant service available before, during and after movie.

March 13, 7:45-9:30am, Boston, MA, "And Justice for All... Sentencing Guidelines and Public Safety." Public forum sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation, and MassINC, at Suffolk Law School, 120 Tremont Street. Panelists include House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission Chairman Robert Mulligan and others. For further information, contact Neil Mello, (617) 742-6800 ext. 123 or [email protected].

March 14, 7:00pm, New York, NY. Retired police captain Peter Christ, spokesman for ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy, speaks at the Manhattan Libertarian Party meeting. For further information, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.geocities.com/lpmanhattan/ on the web.

March 15-18, Miami, FL, "Reason Weekend," sponsored by the Reason Foundation. For information, call Amber Trudgeon at (310) 391-2245 or e-mail [email protected].

March 16 & 17, 8:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Outside the Walls," interdisciplinary dance performance reflecting on the lives of families of prisoners. At the Conwell Theater, 5th floor Conwell Hall, Temple University, corner of Montgomery and Broad Streets. Advance ticket sales available through Temple University box office, (215) 204-1122.

March 18, 10:30am-1:00pm, Winston-Salem, NC, sermon and discussion marking Drug War Awareness Month, at the W-S Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, displays and information available every Sunday all month. For further information, call (336) 659-0331 or e-mail [email protected].

March 23-24, New York, NY, "Widening Destruction: A Teach-In on the Drug War and Colombia." Four panel, two-day seminar sponsored by NACLA and Colombia Students for Enacting Humane Drug Policies, at Columbia University Law School, 435 West 116th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue). Pre-register online at http://www.nacla.org for $8 through 5:00pm, 3/21, or register on site for $10. Contact Anne Glatz at [email protected] for further information.

March 24-25, 10:00am-5:00pm, Ames, IA, Tenth Annual Midwest Regional Hemp Activists Meeting. Hosted by Iowa State University NORML, at the Memorial Union on Lincoln Way. For further information contact Derrick Grimmer at (515) 292-7606, or Becky Terrill at (515) 268-3105 or [email protected].

March 26, 6:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, Hemp Dinner with Richard Rose, of Hempnut, Inc. and author of "The HempNut Health and Cookbook." Book and the Cook night at the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., $45, includes three-course dinner and discussion. Reservations required, RSVP to (215) 386-9224, visit http://www.whitedog.com for further information.

March 29-30, St. Paul, MN, Symposium on Prison Reform: Restoration, Responsibility, and Rehabilitation. Sponsored by the University of St. Thomas and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. For further information, contact Dr. Gene Scapanski, (651) 962-5950.

April 1-5, 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 4-6, East Lansing, MI, "Race in 21st Century America: A National Conference." At the Kellogg Center, Michigan State University, sponsored by MSU's James Madison College and the Midwest Consortium for Black Studies. For further information, visit http://www.jsri.msu.edu/raceconf/ or call (517) 353-6750.

April 7, 2:00pm, Richmond, VA, Rally against supermax prisons. At the State Capitol Building, contact Sally Joughin at [email protected] for further information.

April 9, 7:30pm, Philadelphia, PA, Storytelling Night with Families Against Mandatory Minimums Communications Director Monica Pratt and members of families affected by mandatory minimum sentencing. At the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., optional a la carte dinner at 6:00pm. Call (215) 386-9224 or visit http://www.whitedog.com for further information.

April 19-21, Washington, DC, 2001 NORML Conference. Visit http://www.norml.org/calendar/conf2001intro.shtml to register or for further information, or call (202) 483-5500.

April 20, 10:00am, Oklahoma City, annual marijuana law reform event, at the State Capitol. Visit information table in 1st floor rotunda to prep for meeting your state legislators, speakers and entertainment on the south side steps at noon. For further information contact Norma Sapp at (405) 321-4619 or [email protected].

April 20, New York, NY, "Convictions" conference, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women and Society, City University of New York. For further information, contact Barbara Martinsons at (212) 817-2015.

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.

April 28, Hartford, CT, Youth Rally against Connecticut's proposed 4,500 half-youth supermax prison, emphasizing the failure of the war on drugs. For further information, contact Adam Hurter at (860) 285-8831 or e-mail [email protected].

May 20-27, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Study Tour of Dutch Drug Policy, organized by the White Dog Cafe. Particularly for persons with a background in health and social services, legislation, activism, drug law or policy. Call (215) 386-9224 or visit http://www.whitedog.com for further information.

May 30-June 2, Albuquerque, NM, "Drug Policies for the New Millennium." First annual conference of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, following in the footsteps of the 13 years of the International Conference on Drug Policy Reform. For further information, call (202) 537-5005 or visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/conference/ on the web.

-- END --
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Issue #175, 3/2/01 Financial Aid Administrators Join Students to Support Higher Education Act Reform Efforts as Rep. Frank Introduces Repeal Measure | Drug Czar Demoted? Post Still Vacant Amid Hints It Will Lose Cabinet Rank | Thailand: As US Military Moves to Assist in Campaign Against Burmese Drug Exports, Signs of Fatigue Appear | "Monitoring the Future" Head Researcher Speaks Out on Drug Trends, Drug War, Drug Policy | High in the NBA | DRCNet en Español | Reformers On TV | Reformers on the Radio | The Reformer's Calendar
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