Media Racial Profiling
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en Español Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em Português Latest News Drug Library Search

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

Issue #184, 5/4/01

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

subscribe for FREE now! ---- make a donation ---- search


  1. Editorial: The President's Daughter
  2. HEA Coverage
  3. Meet the New Czar, Worse Than the Old Czar
  4. Consent Searches to Become Extinct? New Jersey and California Move to End Highway Searches Without Probable Cause
  5. Bolivia Update: Coca Growers, Civil Society Bring Government to Table, Agreement Provides Breathing Room but Vast Differences Remain
  6. Dutch to Introduce Drive-Through Coffee Shops, Take on UN Drug Control Program and Live With Ecstasy
  7. Doctors Split on Prescribing Medical Marijuana, Survey Says
  8. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Editorial: The President's Daughter

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

It was a minor news item this week, almost gossip level. Jenna Bush, one of George W.'s daughters, was busted for underage drinking during her freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, Secret Service agents in tow.

My first reaction was excitement: We've finally found the perfect poster child for our Higher Education Act Reform Campaign ( Jenna Bush has been convicted of a criminal offense, is going to lose financial aid and have to leave college. Clearly an unjust punishment for the "youthful irresponsibility" that seems to run in the Bush family, the perfect case to hold up to help us finally repeal this bad law once and for all. The President's daughter!

Then I remembered that the HEA drug provision only applies to drug offenses, not to any other criminal convictions, major or minor. Oh well, false alarm.

But wait! Alcohol is a drug by any legitimate standard, and it's an illegal drug when consumed under the age of 21, at least without parental supervision. Furthermore, alcohol is *the* major drug problem on campuses. Obviously any drug law is going to apply to underage alcohol use as stringently as it applies to other drug offenses, if not more so.

Oops! Another false alarm -- it turns out the HEA drug provision only applies to some drugs, not alcohol. Lucky for Jenna, but we'll just have to keep looking.

Then I remembered that it wouldn't have mattered if Jenna had been caught with marijuana or ecstasy or even heroin or methamphetamine or crack. Jenna is rich. Only the poor and working and some middle class people are eligible for financial aid and hence for this second punishment for drug law violations. Jenna Bush doesn't receive government subsidies for education, so the HEA drug provision may as well not exist for her at all.

Actually, now that I think about it, it's likely that Jenna Bush does receive a government education subsidy -- she goes to a state-funded school. Does the young Ms. Bush pay in-state tuition rates to attend the University of Texas at Austin? Probably. Taxpayer dollars therefore do subsidize the education of Jenna Bush in that way, if this is true. Maybe students at state schools who are convicted of illegal alcohol offenses should have to pay out-of-state tuition rates. And maybe rich kids like Jenna should be prohibited from accepting the difference in tuition rates from their families, but instead have to work to earn it and take time off or drop out if they can't.

Obviously I don't think that this is what should be done on our campuses. But it would be consistent with the financial aid law in place for students with controlled substance violations today whose families are not too wealthy for them to receive financial aid for college at all. Without such penalties for rich alcohol violators, the law cracking down on less wealthy, other-drug offenders is hypocritical and unfair.

Not that such things matter to the US Congress, of course, but they do to a lot of people. Maybe Jenna Bush is a good poster child for our campaign after all.

2. HEA Coverage

See yesterday's (Thursday, 5/3) New York Times, page A12, for an excellent article on the Higher Education Act drug provision, including quotes from DRCNet's David Borden and SSDP's Shawn Heller. Watch CNN coming up for anticipated coverage of the Hampshire College conference on this issue happening today!

Also check out the Mike Barnicle show on MSNBC on Friday or Saturday evening and CNNfn on Tuesday to watch SSDP reps debate government officials on this important issue.

(Note that TV programs are always subject to possible last-minute topic changes.)

Other recent coverage has included a front-page, top left article in the Wall Journal (4/25), a favorable editorial in the Washington Post (4/26) and numerous articles and editorials in papers around the country.

Please mail us clippings of newspaper articles on this subject that don't mention DRCNet or SSDP by name; our clipping service doesn't catch them unless they mention us. Send them to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Thanks in advance!

Please visit to make a contribution and help this campaign continue! Or just send your check of money order to the above address.

3. Meet the New Czar, Worse Than the Old Czar

President Bush's quasi-nomination of John Walters as the new head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the "drug czar”) was an act of stealth politics. No press conferences, no fanfare, no White House garden ceremony marked his annunciation. Instead, anonymous sources fed the story to Dan Forbes and, the wire services picked it up, and more anonymous officials confirmed the story.

This subdued approach to the Walters nomination is entirely in keeping with the tactics of a president who talks reasonably about drug policy -- against racial profiling, against mandatory minimums, for more treatment -- but who then appoints arch-conservatives, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft, to key drug policy positions. With John Walters, Bush has found a drug czar who will bravely take drug policy forward to the last century.

Mentored by man of virtue Bill Bennett, first at the Department of Education and then as Bennett's right-hand man during his tenure as drug czar, the 49-year-old Walters seems never to have met a mandatory minimum sentence he didn't like or a drug user he did. As head of the drug czar's office of supply reduction under Bennett and Bush the senior, Walters made frequent Capitol Hill appearances to cheerlead for ever more drug interdiction funds.

Upon leaving office, Walters became president of the New Citizenship Project, which promotes an increased role for religion in public life. He co-authored the book "Body Count: Moral Poverty and How to Win America's War Against Crime and Drugs," which created the bogeyman of the youthful "superpredator" with Bennett and John J. DiIulio, who is currently running Bush's faith-based initiative campaign. Later, Walters moved to the Philanthropy Roundtable, an organization that steers potential donors to properly conservative charitable causes.

Once the Clinton administration took over, Walters emerged as an insistent critic of Clinton's drug policies, especially in the campaign season of 1996, when he surfaced as Sen. Bob Dole's spokesman on drug issues. In testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 1996, Walters held the Clinton administration responsible for the cyclical uptick in drug use that began in the last years of the Bush administration.

The reason for the increase in drug use in the 1990s was "a failure in federal policy," Walters testified, strangely accusing the Clintonites of "de facto legalization" for failing to stop all drugs from entering US borders. (The charge approaches the absolute zero of absurdity given the record numbers of Americans arrested and imprisoned for drug crimes under the Clinton administration.)

Not one to merely carp, Walters also presented the senators with a six-point anti-drug policy of his own device, one that may be viewed as a blueprint of a Walters czardom:

  • The president must use his "bully pulpit" to propagandize against drug use.
  • Get tough in Latin America. (In his testimony, Walters criticized Clinton for temporarily halting US aid for one of his favorite programs -- the Peruvian "fly and die" airplane shoot-down program. In oddly non-prescient words, Walters wrote, "This is an opportunity to save American lives by helping the Peruvians press their attack on traffickers.")
  • Increase US military involvement in the drug war. (Walters wrote "set more sensible budget priorities," but devoted his argument to complaints that the military was not getting enough money for drug interdiction.)
  • War on marijuana. ("Federal marijuana penalties need to be stiffened," Walters testified, "and federal eradication efforts need to be invigorated.")
  • Keep the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparities in place. (In his testimony, Walters railed against US Sentencing Commission efforts to reduce the crack penalties, saying such "irresponsible proposals from the Sentencing Commission should be blocked, and the Commission should be barred from proposing changes in criminal penalties where Congress has established mandatory minimum sentences.")
  • Favor confrontational and faith-based drug treatment programs. (Walters cited Phoenix House as the sort of "tough program" addicts need, and added that, "Religiously based programs should be eligible for funding, and addicts who seek publicly funded treatment should be required to enter rigorous programs and face real sanctions if they fail to complete them.")
Walters has also spoken out on other drug policy-related issues. He harshly criticized Gen. McCaffrey for insufficient efforts to snuff out the medical marijuana rebellion in California in 1996. In particular, he scoffed at McCaffrey's assertion that the administration would collect data to demonstrate the harms of medical marijuana. "One thing they want to do is watch the body count in California," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Why don't they prevent the body count in California?"

He was equally skeptical of drug courts. In a 1997 article on drug courts in Connecticut in the Christian Science Monitor, Walters said, "You can have change for the sake of novelty. Connecticut can do whatever it wants, but if you want to know what works here, it's tough enforcement, hard-headed adequately-funded treatment, and hard-headed adequately-funded prevention."

But he likes drug testing. He told the House of Representatives in March 1996 that "pre-employment testing ought to be able to be done everywhere, Congress, the Judiciary, the Executive Branch," and that federal employees should be subjected to "random testing."

To give Walters the benefit of the doubt, we note that all of his remarks above came from the dark ages of the mid-1990s. Much has occurred in drug policy since then, and perhaps Walters' views have evolved over the years. Not likely, if his March 2001 article in the conservative Weekly Standard, "Drug Wars: Just Say No... To Treatment Without Law Enforcement" is any indication.

In his article, a jeremiad against the "therapy-only lobby," Walters writes that "law enforcement and punishment would be natural partners of the treatment providers" if only people quit treating drug addiction as a disease. After all, he asserts, "coerced treatment works at least as well as voluntary treatment." He also notes approvingly that "if anything, the trend of anti-drinking and anti-smoking efforts today is to criminalize certain aspects of use and attack availability."

But all of this is just the warm-up for his main argument against some of the "great urban myths of our time." Those myths, writes Walters, are (1) we are imprisoning too many people for merely possessing illegal drugs, (2) sentences are too long and harsh, and (3) the criminal justice system is unfairly punishing young black men.

Walters goes through some statistical legerdemain to argue his case and it is beyond the scope of this report to refute him in detail. It is sufficient here simply to note that Bush's nominee for drug czar is proudly harsh and retrograde in his views, willing not only to defend punitive policies but to make affirmative arguments for them.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Barry?

4. Consent Searches to Become Extinct? New Jersey and California Move to End Highway Searches Without Probable Cause

Driving down the highway, you notice a police cruiser tailing you. He follows for miles, then hits the lights and siren. You pull over, and the trooper announces that he stopped you for failing to signal while making a lane change (or a burned out license plate bulb, or crossing the center line -- pick your pretext). You have no pistols on the front seat, there is no odor of burning marijuana, there is no evidence that would give the trooper probable cause to search you and your vehicle.

"I'd like your permission to search your vehicle, sir," the trooper says, staring down at you from behind his tinted sunglasses. "If you've got nothing to hide, you should not have a problem with that."

Perhaps you initially demur. After all, this is America and you have rights. But then the trooper, now noticeably more hostile, informs you that he is calling for drug dogs or waiting for a search warrant and that you must wait at the side of the road for the duration. At this point, you give in, and the trooper proceeds to tear your car apart in search of drugs, guns, or whatever other evidence of a crime he can turn up. Congratulations, you have just undergone a consent search.

Consent searches occur when police officers lack any probable cause to initiate a search, but nonetheless attempt to persuade, browbeat, or intimidate travelers into waiving their constitutional right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures. But they won't be happening on California highways for at least the next six months, and if some members of the New Jersey legislature have their way, they won't be happening in the Garden State either.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the New Jersey legislature are moving to the vanguard in addressing the endemic police practice of racial profiling. In California, CHP Commissioner D.O. "Spike" Helmick last month ordered a six-month moratorium on consent searches as the CHP confronts a civil lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU contends that the CHP, and especially its drug task forces, are focusing on black and Hispanic motorists in the San Jose area.

"The drug interdiction officers have the most severe rates of racial profiling," ACLU lawyer Michelle Alexander told the Los Angeles Times. "Officers are encouraged to use minor traffic violations to stop motorists and then get consent to search their cars for drugs... They're operating on a hunch, on a guess, on a stereotype."

In documents filed with the court, the ACLU used data compiled by the CHP to show that Latinos were stopped and searched at a rate four time that of whites on US Highway 101 in the central coast area, while blacks were stopped twice as often as whites. The ACLU said a similar pattern emerged on Interstate 5 in California's Central Valley.

The CHP's Helmick denied that the ban on consent searches was related to racial profiling or to the ACLU lawsuit. "Our people clearly do not racially profile," he told the Times. "I think we treat people fairly. We're just trying to be sure."

But Helmick imposed the ban on the advice of a team of CHP managers who reviewed search data from July 2000 through March. The CHP began collecting racial profiling data in 1999 after a growing number of citizen complaints of racially biased policing.

On the opposite coast, meanwhile, New Jersey courts and lawmakers are also zeroing in on consent searches in the context of racial profiling. Despite last week's 5-4 US Supreme Court ruling that police may arrest and search individuals for infractions as minor as traffic offenses, the New Jersey state constitution bars such tactics. Last June, a state appeals court went even further, ruling that police may not ask permission to search a car unless the officer can articulate a reason for thinking a crime has occurred. In other words, no consent searches are allowed.

In handing down the ruling, Appellate Division Judge Sylvia Pressler wrote that the rule is needed because "baseless requests almost inevitably result in a search. It is our view that travelers on our state highways should not be subject to the harassment, embarrassment, and inconvenience of an automobile search following a routine traffic stop unless the officer has at least an articulable suspicion that the search will yield evidence of illegal activity."

New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer, however, is appealing Pressler's decision to the state Supreme Court. In documents submitted to the court, Farmer argues that banning consent searches would "hinder the efforts of police officers to investigate crimes related to automobiles in transit, and force the police officers of our state to abandon their proactive, crime-preventative role."

What the ruling clearly does hinder is consent searches. Their numbers have declined precipitously, from 440 in 1999 to 281 last year, with only 40 reported so far this year. No concomitant increase in New Jersey crime levels has been noted.

But while Farmer and the troopers await a definitive state Supreme Court ruling, members of the New Jersey legislature are preparing to act. Members of the legislature's Senate Judiciary Committee, who have been holding marathon hearings on racial profiling in the state are preparing legislation to ban consent searches once and for all.

"I think all consent searches are suspect," Temple University professor James Fyfe told the committee in mid-April. "I think the way to deal with it is just to say: 'You can't do it,'" the expert on police practices said.

Fyfe's testimony, packed with solid statistical evidence of racial bias in consent searches, has increased lawmakers' sympathy for a legislative ban on consent searches. On the south end of the New Jersey Turnpike, Fyfe reported, troopers last year found contraband in 25% of searches of whites, but in only 13% of searches of blacks and 5% for Hispanics.

"This difference in hit rates speaks volumes about the difference in standards police use in searching blacks and whites," Fyfe told the committee.

"I just haven't seen a good reason to continue [consent searches]," Sen. Robert Martin (R-Morris) told the Newark Star-Ledger. Martin, who sits on the judiciary committee and is a professor at Seton Hall Law School, told the newspaper police should be able to search vehicles only with probable cause that a crime is afoot.

So far, the move to legislatively ban consent searches in New Jersey is still in the talking stage. No bills to ban the practice have yet been filed. In the meantime, consent searches remain effectively banned on New Jersey highways pending a state Supreme Court ruling.

5. Bolivia Update: Coca Growers, Civil Society Bring Government to Table, Agreement Provides Breathing Room but Vast Differences Remain

The Week Online last week reported on the march of coca growers, civic activists and unionists into the Bolivian capital of La Paz to demand the abrogation of anti-coca laws and other reforms. Despite fierce repression by Bolivian security forces, thousands of marchers poured into La Paz to call for an end to privatization, defense of the coca plant and meaningful negotiations with the government of President Hugo Banzer (

Meeting with a supportive US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, DC, on April 23, President Banzer vowed not to negotiate with the cocaleros. But after two weeks of mounting pressure from coca growers and other social sectors, Banzer changed his tune. According to Bolivian press reports, lawmakers representing the Banzer government have reached an agreement with the COMUNAL (Unified National Mobilization Coordinator) to end the immediate standoff while the sticky issues of domestic coca policy, privatization and economic reform are reviewed by a joint commission.

The Banzer government had previously declared Laws 1008 (the coca law) and 21060 (the privatization law) untouchable, but was forced by a rising tide of civil disorder to come to the table. Coca growers organized into the Six Federations of the Tropics and led by Congressman Evo Morales have waged a desperate campaign against the eradication of their cash crop under the US-advised and supported "Plan Dignity" since it began in 1998, and last September played a major role in nationwide strikes and blockades that left 10 dead and the Banzer government shaken.

Pressure on the Banzer regime only increased in the two weeks since the march on La Paz. Embittered by the government's violent response to the March for Life and Dignity, cocaleros renewed their campaign of road blockades, especially in the Chapare, where the eradication campaign has been extensive, and according to the Andean Information Network (AIN), 8,000 soldiers were on hand to stop them. In the Yungas, the last stronghold of illicit coca production, blockades were set to go up this week.

But it was not only the cocaleros hounding the Banzer government. The national peasant union, CSUTCB, and the nation's largest and historically powerfully labor union, the Bolivian Workers' Central (COB), had both declared national actions to begin May 1. The COB demanded that the Banzer government grant wage increases and pay agreed upon pensions to the retired, repeal the coca law, and stop privatization of government enterprises.

Urban teachers went on strike May 2, and health workers nationwide held a lightning 24-hour strike April 27. If those weren't enough for Banzer's beleaguered minions, retirees angered by the government's failure to live up to its promise to increase their pensions demonstrated and began mediagenic hunger strikes.

According to Presencia (La Paz), once the accord was signed, the government began pulling back its troops and cocaleros began lifting roadblocks on the nation's highways. The Ministry of Government then announced it had released 50 Chapare prisoners and that the rest were being processed for release.

The government bought itself time on Wednesday, but at a price. According to Presencia, representatives of the parliament and cabinet ministers will form a series of commissions along with representatives of each sector of the COMUNAL -- the Chapare cocaleros, the Yungas cocaleros, the Water Coordinator of Cochabamba, retirees, small debtors, and indigenous peoples -- to examine the coca laws, the water situation and the economic crisis.

But if the government was forced to retreat by agreeing to put the coca and privatization laws on the table, cocaleros also had to step back from a previously nonnegotiable demand. They conceded that prior government agreement to repeal Law 1008 would not be a precondition for dialogue, Presencia reported.

Under the agreement, the commissions will meet every 15 days to measure the progress of negotiations. One commission will deal with the government's abysmal record of noncompliance with previous accords, including three un-enacted agreements with cocaleros that would have provided for alternative development assistance and other compensation for lost crops. A second commission will tackle economic reforms, while a third will grapple with the coca law, land reform and agricultural development.

The first report from the commissions will be released May 21, according to La Prensa (La Paz).

The agreement between the Bolivian government and civil society has brought the opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the Andean nation's deep-seated conflicts, but given geopolitical and economic realities, it is difficult to imagine the Banzer government abandoning its US-approved coca eradication program or the cocaleros abandoning their primary cash crop.

(DRCNet is able to cover the Bolivian situation thanks to updates distributed by the Andean Information Network; visit them at online. Also providing cutting edge reporting on Bolivia and Latin America as a whole is Narco News, on the web.)

6. Dutch to Introduce Drive-Through Coffee Shops, Take on UN Drug Control Program and Live With Ecstasy

Adhering as always to the tenets of enlightened harm reduction, Dutch authorities in a town on the German border are preparing to open marijuana and hash drive-through shops. The drive-throughs are aimed at keeping German "drug tourists" from clogging the city center and attracting street level hard drug dealers. Holland's tacit policy of allowing small-scale cannabis sales has made the country a popular destination for cannabis users from its less enlightened European neighbors.

Always polite, the Dutch prefer to say that such a move will "make it easier" for the Germans to score their weed without disrupting Dutch communities. But a spokeswoman for the border town of Venlo told the Associated Press that street dealing was the real concern. The drug tourists attract street dealers, creating "an environment that generally makes ordinary people feel unsafe," said Tamira Hankman. "The new coffee shops need to be outside the city and they need to be easily accessible. Our city center has been flooded with these tourists, and the plan is part of an offensive to make it safer."

Hankman told the AP she was not yet sure what the coffee shops will offer and that local officials are working on the final details of the proposal. The proposal in Venlo needs to be approved by the city council. If and when that occurs, local officials will consult with German municipal officials before opening the drive-throughs next year, Hankman said.

And as authorities in the US move harshly against Ecstasy (MDMA) and the associated rave culture, the Dutch calmly ignore American manias, instead accomodating themselves to the popular empathogen. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, Dutch authorities are working with Ecstasy users and clubs to ensure safe conditions for users.

Ecstasy users can have their pills tested and analyzed at drug treatment centers. Upon analysis, "we give them a card telling them what they can expect if they take this pill," Harold Wychgel, a Health Ministry spokesman told the Post. Wychel said the testing also serves other government ends; the tests provide accurate real-time data about what pills are on the market, prevalence of use and user profiles, he said.

While the US government heightens criminal penalties for Ecstasy and resorts to last century's crack house laws to go after rave promoters, Dutch authorities responded with a government white paper laying out common sense, harm reduction regulations for raves. The sites must be well ventilated and well supplied with free water, to prevent dehydration. Raves must also have a "chill out" room, where ravers can relax in a cool and quiet place.

Dutch police officials, health authorities and policy analysts consider the US reaction to Ecstasy use alarmist, the Post reported. The newspaper quoted one criminologist who has studied Ecstasy extensively as saying, "I think the Americans are overreacting. I've gone to raves with researchers and I've spoken to dozens of rave-goers," said Tim van Solinge. "One thing I've found is that rave-goers are so responsible."

Which is more than the Dutch government is willing to say about the UN's Drug Control Program (UNDCP). In early April, the Dutch refused to pay their annual contribution to the UNDCP budget, citing persistent and detailed allegations of mismanagement at the Vienna-based agency's highest levels.

The agency is headed by Pino Arlacci, an Italian mafia-fighter whose drug-fighting single-mindedness -- he was involved in setting up anti-drug paramilitaries along the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border and wanted to censor anti-prohibitionist views from the Internet -- is apparently topped only by his incompetence and arrogance. According to the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, Arlacci has driven numerous top staff members in Vienna to resign, among them the experienced UN administrator and respected director for operations and analysis, Michael von der Schulenburg. His December letter of resignation, widely circulated in European drug policy circles, read more like a bill of particulars against Arlacci.

Arlacci's mismanagement and overreaching are "destroying the credibility of UNDCP," wrote von der Schulenburg, and Arlacci possesses "a style of management that has demoralized, intimidated and paralyzed the staff of UNDCP."

According to Het Parool, in announcing the "freezing" of Holland's $4 milliion share, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs also cited ongoing investigations of the UNDCP by the UN's internal inspection and audit branch in New York. The Dutch government awaits the results of those investigations, as well as organizational reforms, said Het Parool.

But the Dutch also have deeper-seated problems with the UNDCP and its parent agency, the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs, and the freezing of funds may be one way for the Dutch to jab at an international prohibition regime they increasingly see as out of touch with reality. In the Committee on Narcotics Drugs' last meeting in March, the Dutch delegate openly called on the UN to "study and try to bridge the tension between the ideology underlying the treaties and the reality and practices of today's drug consumption pattern," in the words of Het Parool.

7. Doctors Split on Prescribing Medical Marijuana, Survey Says

A survey of physicians nationwide has found they are closely divided on the issue of medical marijuana, Reuters reported on April 24. The survey of 960 physicians conducted by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence found that 36% agreed that doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana for therapeutic reasons, 38% disagreed, and 26% had no opinion.

"We hypothesized that physicians would be more likely to support medical marijuana use in states with legislative mandates," lead author Anthony Charuvastra told Reuters. "However, we discovered that was not the case. Instead, we found that specialty, residence in a state that had ever approved medical marijuana research, and physicians' 'permissiveness' and 'non-moralism' attitudes were associated with supporting medical marijuana."

The study's authors reported that obstetrician-gynecologists and internists had more favorable attitudes toward medical marijuana than specialists in general psychiatry, addiction-medicine psychiatry, and family practice. The authors suggested that the former specialists were more likely to deal with cancer patients and thus be more sensitive to marijuana's use to ease chemotherapy-related nausea and pain, while the latter specialists were more likely to come in contact with active drug abusers and could have heightened concerns about the negative effects of marijuana.

Ironically, the study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, whose spokesman, James F. Callahan, has taken a hard line against prescribing or recommending medical marijuana. In a December 1999 letter taking Al Gore to task for suggesting that doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana (Gore later backed away from that position), Callahan wrote, "Marijuana has not been scientifically proven to be medically effective, and physicians, therefore, should not have authorization to prescribe it. Further, young people are likely to conclude that if marijuana is thought to be medicine, then it cannot be harmful and may be used without harm. This is the type of erroneous and dangerous message your public remarks send."

"The policy of ASAM is in concert with that of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, that marijuana should not be used outside of authorized research," blustered Callahan, who also wrote that "young people are likely to conclude that if marijuana is thought to be medicine, then it cannot be harmful."

The official policy of ASAM on medical marijuana remains extremely cautious, if not as burdened with drug war logic as the organization's director. According to the ASAM web site (, the group's policy on medical marijuana, reaffirmed in December 2000, is:

"Medical uses of pharmaceutical delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (such as Marinol) for the treatment of illnesses associated with wasting, such as AIDS, the treatment of emesis associated with chemotherapy, or for other indications should be carefully controlled. If smoked marijuana should be approved for medical use based on scientific evidence, through the normal regulatory process that applies to all scheduled drugs, its administration should be only under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician."

"Research on marijuana, including both basic science and applied clinical studies, should receive increased funding and appropriate access to marijuana for study. The mechanisms of action of marijuana, its effect on the human body, its addictive properties, and any appropriate medical applications should be investigated, and the results made known for clinical and policy applications."

"In addition, ASAM strongly encourages research related to the potential and actual effects of marijuana-related public policy. ASAM encourages the study of the potential impact of making cannabis available for approved medical uses, and the consideration of what changes might result from moving cannabis from Schedule I to another Schedule."

"Physicians should be free to discuss the risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana, as they are free to discuss any other health-related matters."

11. The Reformer's Calendar

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

May 4, 8:30am-3:00pm, Amherst, MA, "Financial Aid and the Higher Education Act Drug Provision." At the Red Barn, sponsored by Hampshire College and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Call (413) 559-5091 or visit for further information.

May 4, 9:30am-3:00pm, Peabody, MA, "Reducing Harm - Strategies with HIV and Hepatitis C." Featuring Edith Springer and other speakers, at the Peabody Marriott, exit 28 off of Route 128. Registration $25, payable by mail in advance only. Send checks payable to: The North Shore AIDS Collaborative, c/o Lynn Community Health Center, P.O. Box 526, Lynn, MA 01903-0526. For further information, call (781) 596-2502 ext. 729.

May 4, Tucson, AZ, protest of the War on Drugs. Sponsored by the Y.U.R. political activism club, at the US District Court on Congress & Granada. For further information or to volunteer, contact [email protected].

May 5-6, international, "2001: The Space Odyssey," marches for marijuana law reform. For further information, visit on the web.

May 5-6, Austin, TX, March for NEW Drug Policy, Benefit Concert and Drug War Awareness Conference. March at noon, 5/5, at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. followed by rally and speakers at the Capitol. Concert from 6:00-10:00pm at the Flamingo Cantina, proceeds going to the M5 Coalition. Conference from noon-6:00pm, 5/6, location to be announced. For further information, call (512) 493-7357 or visit

May 6, 4:00-10:00pm, New York, NY, reception honoring the publication of Dr. Karl Jansen's new book, "Ketamine Dreams and Realities" by the Muldisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). At the Cathedral House of the Church of St. John the Divine, 112th St. & Amsterdam, lectures by Dr. Jansen at 5:00pm and 7:30pm. Optional RSVP by 4/30 to (941) 924-6277 or [email protected].

May 8, noon, New York, NY, Protest the Rockefeller Drug Laws, marking their 28th anniversary. Featuring Rev. Al Sharpton and many other speakers, at Gov. Pataki's NYC office, 3rd. Ave. between 40th & 41st Streets. For further information, visit or call (212) 539-8441.

May 11, 9:00am, New York, NY, "Mother in Prison, Children in Crisis." Rally by the JusticeWorks Community, featuring ex-prisoner mothers, children of formerly incarcerated parents, city and state legislators, religious leaders and criminal justice experts. At the Manhattan Criminal Court, 100 Centre St., assemble one block west at 8:30am at Thomas Paine Park. For further information, contact Mary-Elizabeth Fitzgerald at (718) 499-604 or [email protected].

May 12, noon, St. Louis, MO, "Thomas Jefferson Birthday Party," rally for marijuana law reform. Sponsored by Greater St. Louis NORML, at Tower Grove Park. For further info, contact (314) 995-1395, [email protected] or visit online.

May 17, 6:00-9:00pm, Brooklyn, NY, First Annual JusticeWorks Award Benefit. Tina Reynolds will receive the 1st annual Rev. Dr. Constance M. Baugh Achievement Award. At the Beaux Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum, $75 per person. For further information, contact Tara Powers at (718) 499-6704 or [email protected].

May 19, 2:00pm, Syracuse, NY, ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy Annual Meeting. Keynote address by Kevin Zeese, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy, at the May Memorial, 3800 East Genesee St. For further information, visit 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 for further information.

May 25-28, Vandalia, MI, "Hemp Aid 2001." Call 616-476-2808 or visit for 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 on the web.

June 9, New York, NY, Organizers' Training to Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Session sponsored by the Interfaith Partnership for Criminal Justice in New York City, for individuals interested in organizing in Harlem against the Rockefeller Drug Laws, to be held at Harlem' St. Aloysius Church. For further information, contact Jessica Dias at (718) 499-6704 or [email protected].

June 30, New York, NY, Rally in Harlem to Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Sponsored by the Interfaith Partnership for Criminal Justice in New York City. For further information, contact Jessica Dias at (718) 499-6704 or [email protected].

July 27-29, Clarkburg, WV, "Neer Freedom Festival." Benefit for West Virginia NORML and upcoming medical marijuana campaign. For further information, contact Tom Thacker at [email protected].

October 7-10, St. Louis, MO, American Methadone Treatment Association Conference 2001. For further information, e-mail [email protected], visit or call (212) 566-5555.

December 1-4, 2002, Seattle, WA, Fourth National Harm Reduction Conference. Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General, at the Sheraton Seattle. For further information, visit or call (212) 213-6376.

If you like what you see here and want to get these bulletins by e-mail, please fill out our quick signup form at

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en Español Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em Português Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]