(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)
Issue #193, 7/6/01
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 7/6/01
Public opinion on drug policy has shifted noticeably during the past several years that I've been actively observing it. Six or seven years ago, the idea of legalization might have been dismissed by most people as a "hippie" or "druggie" idea. Today, most Americans might not yet be on our side, but at least realize there are "respectable" citizens who agree with us.
To be sure, there are still some people who react to the notion of ending drug prohibition as "crazy" or "fringe." They are an increasingly small group, however. Whenever I encounter one of them, there is usually someone else in the room who agrees with me 100 percent, and others who aren't sure but who certainly don't regard my views as off the charts.
Still, we're not there yet. The Pew Trust poll a few months ago was not the first to find that Americans, paradoxically, believe the drug war to be a failure but nevertheless continue to support the drug war. Really this means that Americans are ready for a new drug policy, once some alternative that they see as non-frightening is presented to them. Getting to the ultimate necessary goal of ending prohibition itself is another story, and a lot more work needs to be done before that day will arrive.
There is no doubt, though, that this is a special time in the issue, an effective time, when our efforts to educate the public, to build our movement, to build bridges with other movements, all are especially effective. The media, the public at large, are all ready to hear our message -- everyone except the politicians, of course, and even a few of them.
Focusing on intermediate but emotion-ridden changes like ending mandatory minimum sentencing, stopping the spread of AIDS, opposing US-funded Andean military escalation, can gain us more allies, and more powerful allies, than our cause has had in decades, perhaps ever. A few months back, for example, I was flipping channels, stumbled across the African America-oriented news discussion program "BET Tonight," where I witnessed the stunning sight of Rev. Jesse Jackson calling for drug decriminalization on national television.
Yet focusing on the larger issue of prohibition, while perhaps bringing fewer of the high and mighty to the same stage or table immediately, will hasten the day when that more far-reaching change is itself possible or even probable. There is no question that sustained educational outreach, competently crafted and executed, does influence public opinion over the long term: When New Mexico's governor, Gary Johnson, came out for legalization, some people were persuaded and others at least had their minds opened -- the same for Minnesota's Jesse Ventura, or Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, or Uruguay's president, Jorge Batlle, Gov. Patricio Martinez Garcia of the Mexican border state of Chihuahua, etc.
And this larger, more fundamental change of ending prohibition is needed: decriminalization, medicalization, sentencing reform, all of them are good, but none are enough. As Great Britain's former ambassador to Colombia editorialized for the newspaper The Guardian (reported below), decriminalization doesn't help the source countries and doesn't provide users a safe or reliable supply. These are just two of the many reasons for full repeal, not mere partial reform.
Our movement must strike a skillful balance, cultivating the moderate or hesitant and allying with partial reformers, but without losing focus on the ultimate goal or hiding or backing off from the truths that necessitate it. After all, if the legalizers won't be legalizers, why should or how can world luminaries, powerful but vulnerable as they are?
Public opinion will ultimately reward us for that commitment.
Just over four years ago -- July 2, 1997 -- DRCNet published the first issue of this publication, sending it to the roughly 2,200 subscribers that we had at the time. Things have come a long way since then -- issue #1 had just five items, most though not all of them organizational news or recaps -- and DRCNet now sends a full-blown, in-depth news report each week to over 21,000 people.
You can check out back issues of The Week Online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/archives.html online. Let us know if anything sticks out for you as a highlight -- e-mail us at [email protected] -- and we may feature it in a drug policy retrospective.
Thank you for being part of the solution! And if you like a good party, stay tuned -- we may be holding actual celebrations for our 200th issue late next month.
Britain's former ambassador to Colombia at the height of the US-assisted war against the so-called Colombian cartels has called for the full legalization of drugs. In a July 4 opinion piece in London's Guardian newspaper, Sir Keith Morris renounced the war on drugs as "unwinnable, costly, and counterproductive." In so doing, he joins a growing number of international political figures who have broken with prohibitionist orthodoxy, including the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay.
Citing his bitter and disillusioning experience in Colombia -- "I believed there was a point to that war" -- Morris has come full circle:
"There has been a cultural change which has led to the recreational use of drugs being seen by the younger generation as normal," wrote Morris. "It is now part of a global consumer society that demands instant gratification. Laws cannot change that. All they can do is create a $500 billion criminal industry with devastating effects worldwide. It must be time to start discussing how drugs could be controlled more effectively within a legal framework.
"Decriminalization, which is often mentioned, would be an unsatisfactory halfway house, because it would leave the trade in criminal hands, giving no help at all to the producer countries, and would not guarantee consumers a safe product or free them from the pressure of pushers. It has been difficult for me to advocate legalization because it means saying to those with whom I worked, and to the relatives of those who died, that this was an unnecessary war. But the imperative must be to try to stop the damage."
Morris also questioned the judgment of US leaders when it comes to drug policy. Describing all of the suffering and destruction imposed on Colombia without making a dent in the drug traffic, Morris wrote: "After so much effort and many lives lost, the trade was still as great as ever. I began to wonder about the chances of success and also about the obsessive attitudes of our leading ally. My concerns were justified. US policy on Colombia came to be dominated by drugs."
In an interview with the Guardian the same day, Morris elaborated on his position in light of the ongoing shift toward cannabis decriminalization in Great Britain. "The government believes in what works," he told the Guardian. "Drug prohibition does not work." The 66-year-old founding chairman of the British & Colombian Chamber of Commerce added: "I'm encouraged that the government has started to relax the regime for cannabis. Now that the principle of prohibition has in practice been abandoned, I hope the government will start a serious examination of the best way of controlling drug use within a legal framework. It will not be easy. Hard drug users may have to register with their GPs and get their drugs on prescription," mused Morris.
"Some soft drugs might be sold under a regime like that used for alcohol and tobacco and, as [former Labour cabinet minister in charge of drug policy] Mo Mowlem has proposed for cannabis, they could be tested for purity and taxed," said Morris. "The revenue would go to medical research and greatly improve education and treatment. There will be costs, probably, initially at least, greater use and addiction and problems quite unforeseen. But the benefits to the life, health, and liberty of drug users and the life, health, and property of the whole population would be immense."
The Guardian itself joined the fray in a same-day editorial acknowledging the futility of drug prohibition and calling tepidly for change to begin with the legalization of cannabis possession.
"The debate which Sir Keith wants to spark will be welcomed by many people in the drug treatment world," said the Guardian editorial. "The international war against drugs has always been as doomed to failure as the domestic war played out on British streets. The criminal syndicates are too well dug-in, the profits too enticing, and the demand from consumers too widespread for effective criminal sanctions."
After reviewing the arguments for and against legalization, and expressing concern about rising addiction levels and continuing criminal enterprises, the Guardian came down firmly in the middle. Saying that international law makes outright legalization of the drug trade impossible, the paper urged the Blair government to legalize the domestic possession of cannabis. The paper does not address cannabis growth or distribution.
"It is time the debate began," wrote the Guardian.
Guardian article and interview:
Up until the Islamic Revolution in 1979, opium smoking was an accepted if not completely respectable part of Iranian life. Many homes had "smoking" rooms and a good number of Iranians of all classes quietly enjoyed the enthralling pleasures of the poppy. But things changed with the arrival of the mullahs, and for the past two decades the Islamic Republic has waged an ever-escalating war on the opium traffic and its own opiate users.
The struggle is not merely a manifestation of Islamic puritanism. Neighboring Afghanistan, with its rural economy shattered by years of superpower struggles followed by civil war, emerged in the 1990s as the world's largest opium producer. While Iranian opium production, never high, declined to negligible levels, Afghani opium destined for the labs of Turkey and thence on to the end users of Europe flooded across Iran -- the most direct route to market. To cause Iranian authorities even more concern, two developments ensued: Afghani smugglers began refining heroin in-country, so it too joined the flood of opium, and an ever-larger portion of the traffic was feeding a growing army of domestic drug users, who complemented their fondness for opium with a quickly developing appreciation for the new-fangled stuff.
After twenty years of anti-opium efforts, the numbers are staggering: The Iranian government says more than 3,100 police and soldiers have been killed, along with more than 10,000 traffickers. Almost 200 soldiers and 800 traffickers were killed last year alone. Iran has spent nearly a billion dollars constructing a series of military outposts, walls, towers, roads and barriers along its 1,100 mile-long border with Afghanistan, a harsh and brutal terrain of deserts and mountains, and 30,000 troops are assigned to fight the drug trade. In the 1990s, Iranian authorities seized more than 1.7 million kilograms of drugs -- mostly opium and heroin -- according to the United Nations Drug Control Program, while the annual haul in recent years has averaged about 200 tons of opium and six tons of heroin.
The mullahs and the Revolutionary Courts have also given Iranian drug users a taste of their tender mercies. Drug possession, sales and trafficking are punished harshly, with penalties ranging from fines to lashings to imprisonment. (The US State Department, in its annual report on the drug trade, notes with approval that use of the lash has decreased in the past two years.) Possession of 30 grams of heroin or five kilos of opium can earn the death penalty, and Iranian courts have not been shy about exercising it, putting Iran in such fine company as China, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. The UNDCP estimated that Iran executed 130 drug offenders in the first half of last year, and Iranian officials say 800 more are on death row now.
Mohammed-Azam Teimouri hopes he doesn't join them. Interviewed by the Seattle Times in the Mashad Central Prison, where he awaits sentencing after being caught a year ago smuggling seven kilos of opium from Afghanistan, Teimouri said he was an impoverished farmer only trying to provide for his family. "I used to be a shepherd, a farmer, making my own living," he said. "Then there was the drought and I had nothing to feed my family. I was hungry, my children were hungry. A year ago a man, a rich Talibani, came and told me to take this to Iran. If only we could grow wheat and barley because this opium is a plague upon us in Afghanistan and a plague here in Iran, too."
He was promised $190 to deliver the drugs just across the border, he said. Teimouri is only one of thousands of Afghanis driven by poverty and drought to risk the wrath of the mullahs. That number should only increase as a Taliban decree this year effectively wiped out the Afghani opium crop, leaving an estimated 200,000 opium-growing families without income. Stockpiles of opium from previous bumper crops, however, continue to flood into Iran, according to Iranian and US officials, and weekly gun battles with smugglers continue.
Iranian prisons are stuffed with opium-smokers and heroin-injectors; along with smugglers, they make up 70% of the nation's 150,000 prisoners. From March 2000 to March of this year, Iran reports having arrested 227,000 people on drug charges. Of those, only 5,000 were drug smugglers, the rest domestic users and sellers.
Not that it has done much good. The price of heroin is at an all-time low, with a single dose costing about 40 cents, the same as a glass of milk. At a June conference in Teheran, Iranian experts put the number of regular drug users or addicts at 2.5 million, with the number of occasional drug users numbering as many as 5 million more, out of a population of roughly 75 million.
A year ago this week, in a move hailed as demonstrating a sign of liberalization in Iran under reformist President Mohammed Khatami, Iranian officials first publicly acknowledged the reality of widespread drug use, but the official response has been anything but liberal.
"Five tons of narcotics are consumed in Teheran every day. Official reports suggest there are at least two million addicts. Some 100,000 addicts are in prison. Addiction to narcotics has even reached the school classes," admitted Mohammed Ali Tam, the Teheran municipal official in charge of cultural affairs in a report released in July 2000.
The response has been to intensify the struggle. Mohammed Fallah, Iran's drug czar, this year began a program of arming and training thousands of village Basij, or religious police, to help combat trafficking. Through a program of intimidation and reward, the militias have spread along the border with Afghanistan. The UNDCP and some European countries have provided assistance to the anti-smuggling effort as well in recent years. The UNDCP opened a country office in Teheran in June 1999, and has budgeted $12.7 million for a drug control program. Britain, France and Germany have provided assistance in material, including such items as night-vision goggles for anti-drug troops, but other European countries have found Iran's reliance on the death penalty distasteful.
In February, the drug war took a dramatic new turn when Teheran police demolished one of the city's neighborhoods, known as "The Island," for its open drug business. Beginning at 1:00am, some 1,500 police swept down on the neighborhood, arresting 500 "serious" criminals and 1,500 low-level dealers, and razing 130 homes. Now, the neighborhood is an unbroken plain of rubble. The drug dealers simply moved a few blocks away, however, according to neighbors.
A month later, in a sign of the new toughness, executioners hanged five of those arrested in the raid in a public ceremony on the east edge of the capital. As the four men and one woman dangled from cranes, their legs kicking, a crowd of 200 shouted "God is Great," the Irish Times reported. Public executions are unusual in Teheran, the newspaper noted.
But all of that was only a prelude. In an operation beginning on June 26, the UNDCP's international anti-drug day, Iranian police, soldiers, and Revolutionary Guards have arrested 11,892 drug users, dealers, and smugglers, according to the Iran's official news agency, IRNA. They killed 11 traffickers in shootouts, IRNA reported, and seized a ton of drugs.
The day after the operation began, drug czar Fallah and Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahrudi, Iran's top judge, vowed no respite in the struggle, and no quarter, according to IRNA. "Drug traffickers and sellers must no longer benefit from any amnesty," thundered the cleric. "On the contrary, they must be severely repressed." Fallah also sounded the tocsin. "The drug problem has become a national crisis in Iran," he warned.
So has trying to enforce prohibition. In an article published this spring in Payame Emrooz, an Iranian economic and cultural journal, researcher Kamal Aqaie wrote that the country's drug war spending was out of control. According to Aqaie's estimates, 30% of the country's security budget, 60% of its prison budget and 70% of Revolutionary Court activities are devoted to fighting the drug traffic.
There are only the faintest of signs of change on the horizon. As the massive anti-drug sweep got underway, a Teheran daily newspaper, the Iran News, called for the country to develop a treatment strategy rather than a policy of only strict punishment. "Our prisons are full of addicts," the paper noted. The News also called for needle-exchange programs to stop the spread of AIDS, which the paper said was spread in Iran primarily by shared needles. "The general practice in most countries is to distribute free hypodermic needles and syringes," it said. "We must undertake a similar practice, as well."
But even such small steps remain a distant vision in Iran.
Have you or someone you know or know of lost financial aid for college because of a drug conviction? The Higher Education Act Reform Campaign urgently needs to find more such students or would-be students who are willing to go public and talk to the media. The need is urgent because some of the most major media outlets in the country are asking for them, and they want to do the stories now!
Please contact DRCNet at (202) 293-8340 or Students for Sensible Drug Policy at (202) 293-4414 if you can help, or e-mail [email protected].
In the latest sign of European rejection of US and UN-sponsored repressive anti-drug strategies, Portugal's new drug laws went into effect on July 1. Under the laws, debated last summer and finalized in November, possession of personal amounts of any drug is no longer a crime. Instead, possession of up to a ten-day supply of any drug will be treated as an administrative matter rather than a criminal offense. Persons caught possessing drugs will have their stashes confiscated and be referred to a commission of doctors, lawyers, and social workers who will decide if they need counseling or treatment. Previously, persons caught with drugs faced up to a year in jail.
Drug trafficking remains a crime, although dealing to pay for a drug habit will be considered a mitigating factor.
United Nations International Drug Control Board (INCB) officials immediately lashed out at the new law. INCB Deputy Head Akira Fujino told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet: "There is a clear trend in Western Europe to decriminalize use and possession of narcotics and to view addicts as patients. But that seldom solves the addict's personal problems nor reduces the demand for narcotics," complained the prohibition bureaucrat. "Other countries that have chosen a liberal approach such as special injection rooms, are Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Holland, and we are deeply concerned over this trend."
Citing the possibility of a spill-over effect for the rest of the European Union, Fujino warned that: "The Portugese law can trap more 'at risk' into dependency as well as increase the misery of those already addicted. The law, in effect, says that it's OK to consume narcotics."
Portuguese officials have more concrete concerns. The number of hard drug addicts has escalated over the past decade, and Portugal has Europe's highest HIV infection rate. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (http://www.emcdda.org), Portugal, with a population of ten million, has between 50,000 and 200,000 drug addicts. By contrast, the Netherlands, with 16 million inhabitants and a liberal drug policy, has an estimated 25,000 addicts.
The new law reflects Portugal's turn to harm reduction and away from repression in an effort to blunt the damage from drug prohibition. "The idea is to get away from punishment and move toward care," Portuguese government spokesman Carlos Borges told Reuters.
That Portugal has decriminalized the possession of drugs is apparently not newsworthy in the US. DRCNet has been unable to find any mention of this story in mainstream media outlets in this country.
(See DRCNet's previous coverage of Portugal's drug policy reform at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/145.html#portugal online.)
Health Minister Allan Rock and Health Canada were busy patting themselves on the back over the new medical marijuana regulations they announced this week, but neither patients nor doctors pronounced themselves satisfied -- for widely differing reasons. Responding to a court case brought by medical marijuana patient Terry Parker, Health Canada approved a new, less restrictive medical marijuana regime to go into effect on July 30.
"Today's announcement is a landmark in our ongoing effort to give Canadians suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses access to marijuana for medical purposes," said Minister Rock. "This compassionate measure will improve the quality of life of sick Canadians, particularly those who are terminally ill."
It will also prevent the Ontario Supreme Court from throwing out all of Canada's marijuana laws, as it threatened to do if the government failed to revamp its medical marijuana program before the end of this month.
Under the new regulations, patients in three categories may apply to Health Canada for a permit to possess marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Category 1 is terminally ill patients, Category 2 lists specified diseases or conditions (MS, spinal cord injuries or diseases, cancer, AIDS, severe arthritis pain), and Category 3 is a catch-all category for other, unspecified medical conditions for which traditional treatments have proven ineffective.
The patient application must be accompanied by a doctor's "medical declaration" indicating the condition or symptom for which the drug is to be used. Category 3 patients will need the approval of two doctors. Patients are allowed to grow their own, designate a grower, or obtain it from a supplier licensed by Health Canada -- although it hasn't yet gotten around to licensing any suppliers. Designated or caretaker growers would also have to obtain a license from Health Canada.
But in a rather embarrassing glitch, the new regulations do not provide for patients to obtain seeds or clones with which to start plants. "Right now, so far as I'm aware, there is no legal source of seeds," conceded Judy Gomber, director general of Health Canada's office of controlled substances.
That may technically be the case, but Vancouver marijuana seed millionaire Marc Emery couldn't believe his eyes. "Why don't they just get them from me?" he asked the Toronto Sun. "I'm the most well-known seed seller in the world and I'm right here in Vancouver and they can talk to me any time they want. I couldn't believe it, I was just shocked when I saw it," he said. "I have 450 varieties they can choose from."
Health Canada is instead involved in negotiations with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which operates the US government's marijuana farm in Oxford, Mississippi. Canadian press reports have said that NIDA has been reluctant to clear seed exports.
That's just fine with Cannabis Culture magazine editor Dana Larsen. "This stuff produced at the University of Mississippi is the crappiest, swaggiest pot I've seen in my life," he told the Sun. "If they're going to be using that to give to medical patients in Canada, that's even more of a travesty than we have right now. The pot the US government grows, I wouldn't buy it off the street," sneered Larsen.
"Trying to find someone who can provide an illegal product legally is very difficult," Larsen pointed out, "so it just shows the hypocrisy of the efforts they're trying to make."
Neither was the patient whose case caused the new regulations overly excited. "I'm not happy until it's legalized," Terry Parker told the Sun. "It's absurd that we have to get special permission from a doctor for marijuana. Why don't they apply the same regulations to alcohol and tobacco, considering they're more harmful?"
The Canadian Medical Association shared Parker's lack of enthusiasm, albeit for different reasons. In a press release the same day Minister Rock made his announcement, the CMA wrote that it "cannot support the regulations at this time and believes most physicians will be reluctant to participate in this process."
In the statement, Dr. Hugh Scully, past president of the Canadian Medical Association, complained of the potential dangers to physicians and the lack of knowledge about marijuana's medical efficacy. "We recognize that a regulatory scheme for the medicinal use of marijuana must exist," said Scully. "These regulations are placing Canadian physicians and their patients in the precarious position of attempting to access a product that has not gone through the normal protocols of rigorous pre-market testing," he said.
"There remains a lack of comprehensive and credible scientific evidence on the benefits of medical marijuana, the known and unknown effects of its use when smoked and the implications of an unregulated supply on the quality, consistency and contamination of the drug," Scully elaborated. He also mentioned physicians' fears that recreational users will attempt to get doctors' approval and that physicians could be liable for unforeseeable drug interaction problems or patients who drive after using medicinal marijuana.
Canada has avoided the collapse of its marijuana laws, but in the process of crafting new regulations, Health Canada has made few friends.
Visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/news.htm#marijuana for Minister Rock's press release, an explanation of the process and the rules themselves.
As DRCNet has reported for the last two weeks (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/192.html#noarrestplan and http://www.drcnet.org/wol/191.html#londoncannabis), British marijuana prohibition appears terminal, although its death throes may curse British tokers for months or years to come. The degradation of the prohibitionist consensus continued apace this week. As of July 1, the South London borough of Lambeth, which includes the teeming Caribbean community of Brixton, has quit arresting cannabis smokers and possessors. The previous day, the former Labour government drug czar, Mo Mowlem, called for cannabis decrim nationwide. That same day, demoted current drug czar Keith Hellawell renounced his recently acquired belief in the "gateway theory" that marijuana use causes users to move on to harder drugs. And the price of a joint is now hovering around that of a pint of ale.
In Brixton, Sussex resident Chris Baldwin had to work to become the first person cited under the borough's experiment in cannabis decrim. Despite his location in front of the Brixton police station, it still took 20 minutes, two joints and several shouted requests to passing Bobbies before the wheelchair-bound Baldwin became a footnote in the history books at 10:51am, July 1. Finally taken inside to be issued a warning, he became the first person to test the new policy. Ten minutes later, he emerged from the station.
"They asked me if it was cannabis and I said it was and they put it in a little plastic bag and I had to sign and say they had taken it," he told the London Evening-Standard. "They took my name and address and asked if I knew what I was doing was wrong. We agreed to disagree and I accepted their warning."
Brixton police apparently soon tired of symbolic seizures. The next day, a Guardian reporter couldn't get himself arrested doing the same thing, although he did report that Brixton Bobbies were unfailingly courteous, even when refusing to give him a light.
Area marijuana users were pleased. "Man, it's great," Roger [no last name] told a Chicago Tribune reporter, exhaling clouds of smoke in a Brixton market. "I heard on the radio this morning that now you can smoke where you like and the police can't do [anything] about it. It means we can relax, we don't have to hide indoors."
Not quite, Roger, but pretty close. Under the new policy, Lambeth police will not arrest smokers they encounter, but will instead merely seize the marijuana and have the possessor sign a receipt. No criminal record will be incurred, nor will job applicants be required to mention the incident. Nor will police stop and search suspects merely on suspicion of minor cannabis offenses.
Also enthused was Brixton real estate agent Barry Klieff. "Brixton has always had the Bohemian reputation anyway," he told the Tribune as he dreamt of higher housing prices. "If anything, this will give it star appeal. It's only cannabis, loads of people smoke it all over London, and most of them are middle class people."
The Lambeth experiment will run six months. If it is successful -- indicators would be a decrease in heroin and crack cocaine use and street crime because of shifted enforcement priorities -- it "may well" be adopted all across London, Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Tim Goodwin confirmed to the London Times last week.
"There are definitely some people, more so among the young community who probably don't agree with the drug legislation," said Goodwin. "As a result, some of the Class B drugs [i.e. cannabis] are found very frequently by officers in London and as a result they spend an inordinate amount of time processing these people. We are not sure that should be our priority. Our priority is to make the streets safer. It's about focusing on Class A drugs, the hard drugs, focusing on knives, guns, street robbery and burglary and to maintain our efforts to disrupt that sort of criminality," Goodwin explained.
Although calls are increasing for nationwide decrim, the Labour government of Tony Blair continues to whistle past the graveyard. "We have no plans to decriminalize or declassify cannabis at all," said a Downing Street spokesman.
That position is increasingly isolated. The latest defector was former Blair drug czar Mo Mowlem, who in a July 1 editorial in the London Evening Star, called for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis. "From my time with the government's drug policy I have come to the conclusion that we must decriminalize cannabis," wrote Mowlem. "It is a view I know many in the police, social workers, and others working with cannabis smokers fully agree with."
Calling present practice "a farce," she wrote that it "would be totally irrational to decriminalize cannabis without looking at the sale of it," adding: "It would be an absurdity to have criminals controlling the market in a substance people can use legally."
Blair's posture of denial suffered yet another blow when Keith Hellawell, head of drug policy until recently "promoted" to Britain's international drug policy team, upchucked the gateway theory he had swallowed whole only months before. Latching onto a small study from New Zealand, Hellawell had at one point claimed marijuana smokers were 60 times as likely as non-smokers to go on to other drugs, thus proving the gateway theory.
But now, says Hellawell, "I do not believe it's a gateway drug." The New Zealand study notwithstanding, "That does not mean that everybody who smokes 50 joints a year will automatically be involved in hard drugs," he told the London Sunday Times.
The Blair government's prohibitionist pot policy appears to be collapsing as fast as the price of a joint in London. It is now at a record low in Great Britain, according to the Drug Monitoring Unit, a private drug research company. According to reports from Brixton, joints go for now $1.50, about the same as a pint of ale.
(The following action alert was distributed by the Washington Office on Latin America.)
BACKGROUND: Last year the United States contributed $1.3 billion in mostly military counternarcotics aid to Plan Colombia. Under this policy, the United States is training and arming Colombian troops to secure guerrilla-held territory in the drug-producing region of southern Colombia. Planes then fly over fields of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, spraying defoliants to destroy the illegal crops.
NEW POLICY PROPOSAL: This year the Bush Administration has proposed an $882 million Andean Regional Initiative, which will continue US support for Plan Colombia while expanding the policy to include Colombia's neighbors and increasing the amount of social and economic aid. Though the proposal reflects some changes compared to last year, it maintains the fundamental flaws of US policy towards Colombia.
CONCERNS ABOUT PROPOSAL: Though the Administration has tried to sell the Initiative as "balanced," it is largely a military package. The proposal continues assistance to the Colombian military despite the risk of drawing the US further into Colombia's brutal civil war and the Colombian military's links to right-wing paramilitary forces that commit the majority of massacres and other human rights abuses in the country. The Initiative would also continue the anti-drug aerial spraying program (known as fumigation) that, in addition to eradicating coca crops, destroys food crops, drives families from their homes, and threatens human health and the environment. Such efforts to combat drugs at the source have proven ineffective, as they merely shift drug production to different regions and countries.
CONGRESSIONAL OUTLOOK: The main opportunities to change the Andean Regional Initiative in Congress will be on votes regarding Colombia. The House Appropriations Committee will debate and vote on a large part of the Initiative on July 10. The full House of Representatives will do the same on July 17. On both dates there will be amendments to cut military aid to Colombia and to suspend aerial spraying programs. The Senate will also take up this legislation in the coming weeks and again in September, when amendments to cut military aid are also expected.
Take action: Please contact your Representative and urge him or her to vote for amendments to cut military aid to Colombia and suspend aerial fumigation. If your Representative is on the attached list of Members on the Appropriations Committee, please contact him or her before July 10; otherwise contact your Representative before July 17. Please also contact your Senators, urge them to support amendments to cut military aid to Colombia, and tell them about your concerns regarding fumigation. For information on contacting your Members of Congress, visit http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov online, or use the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
MORE INFO AND FOLLOW-UP: Please visit http://www.wola.org or http://www.lawg.org or http://www.ciponline.org for further information. If you have any questions or if you learn how your Members of Congress plan to vote, please contact Tina Hodges or Peter Clark of the Washington Office on Latin America at (202) 797-2171 or [email protected].
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:
Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL)
Columbus native Kenneth Schweickart, president of For A Better Ohio (http://www.ohiohemp.org), on Tuesday presented the Columbus city clerk with more than 10,000 signatures on petitions seeking a city initiative election to end criminal penalties for marijuana possession in the Ohio capital. The group needs 7,213 valid signatures for the petition to qualify for the November ballot. They will undergo the scrutiny of the Franklin County Board of Elections and the Columbus City Attorney's Office.
But Schweikart is confident the group's margin of error is large enough, he told the Columbus Dispatch. "That's after we weeded out the bad ones," he said.
If Schweikart is right, in November Columbus voters will have the opportunity to vote for a mild-mannered but far-reaching marijuana initiative that would effectively legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city while leaving the rest of the marijuana laws intact. Under the wording of the initiative, possession of less than seven ounces would remain a misdemeanor, but "marijuana misdemeanors are not an arrestable offense, and laws against small amounts of marijuana shall be the lowest priority of law enforcement, if such violations occur in the City of Columbus." Furthermore, "no ticket and no fine shall be issued," "no court appearance is required," and "no person may lose his or her drivers' license."
And with a here's mud in your eye jab at the feds, the proposed ordinance also mandates that "no city, county, state, or federal resources may be used to enforce laws against marijuana misdemeanors in the City of Columbus" and "no officer, prosecutor, county, state, or federal official may charge any person using county codes, state codes, or any federal codes involving marijuana misdemeanors if such violation occurs in the City of Columbus."
Fortunately, the initiative also includes a severability provision stating that if any one section is struck down by the courts -- as a direct attack on federal drug law enforcement would most likely be -- the rest of the ordinance remains in effect.
All of the above covers paraphernalia as well.
Schweikart and For A Better Ohio worked closely with members of the University of Ohio chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org), and he pointed to the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision as one of the key motivators of the initiative campaign. "We feel that the drug provision of the Higher Education Act is an atrocity on intellectual freedom," Schweikart told DRCNet. "We find it incredibly offensive that students should be losing their financial aid if they're caught with as little as a crumb of marijuana."
Schweikart and supporters also argue that Columbus residents who use marijuana should have a right to be left alone and that the ordinance will ease the plight of medical marijuana patients.
"Columbus is an ideal place for such an initiative," said Schweikart. "We can utilize the demographics of Columbus as a test market for the rest of the country, to send a message the time is now for marijuana policy reform."
Schweikart is optimistic about the initiative's chances, he told DRCNet, citing a poll done this week by local NBC affiliate WCMH-TV. That poll found 76% in favor of a question that read, "Do you favor legalizing marijuana in small amounts?," according to Schweikart.
He is also counting on typically low voter turnout for city elections. "We can pull a victory without serious money, because we are going to rock the vote," he vowed. "We're aggressively registering people on campuses. At least half the students who go to school here aren't registered here. If we can get the students to register and get them to vote, we've got a good chance."
Schweikart and friends now enter a more serious phase of the campaign. With the signatures on the verge of being approved, opponents are emerging to take "pot-shots" at the ordinance and its sponsors. "They want to make marijuana legal," claimed Paul Coleman, head of the city's oldest drug and alcohol treatment center. "Should the matter be certified for the ballot, I think the debate and the discussions about that will be healthy. Voters will reject it and they will reject it for good reasons," he told the Columbus Dispatch.
Washington's 32nd Annual Rally, Parade, Concert & Picnic to End Marijuana Prohibition (sometimes known as the smoke-in) started slow and small, but grew throughout an afternoon of music, speeches, and massive marijuana law-breaking before late afternoon thunderstorms put a damper on the festivities. At one point, event participants took matters into their own hands, countering police efforts to pull individual smokers out of the crowd.
The unseasonably pleasant day began at Lafayette Square, just across Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House, as long-time event organizer John Pylka emceed a line-up of speakers, strummers and rabble-rousers. Rally perennial Dana Beal of Cures Not Wars (http://www.cures-not-wars.org), dressed in his trademark boots and jeans, gave his now familiar speech on ibogaine, melatonin, and the history of the DC HempFest, causing more than a few furrowed brows among attendees born long after the Vietnam War ended.
Virginia Libertarian Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor Gary Reams rallied the crowd from its sunny torpor, telling the assembled multitudes: "Prohibition zealots are waging war are tens of millions of Americans, and now they're doing fly-by shootings in South America." Pointing toward the White House across the street, he added, "God put this herb on the earth, who are you to condemn it?"
Describing the lieutenant governor's office as largely ceremonial, Reams urge Virginians to support his campaign, which he calls the Reams Reeferendum. "This could be the major marijuana vote in this off-year," he said, "and could affect the tone of next year's elections."
Speakers alternated between the soporific and the fire-brand, with the finest example of the latter being Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald columnist Ed Tant, the newspaper's self-described "token and tokin' radical." Tant's high energy, fire and brimstone fulminations placed the marijuana reform movement squarely in the tradition of American freedom. "We need more bud and less Bush," Tant roared. "We must end this false, phony, foolish and fascistic war on weed," he told the cheering crowd. "We were right on Vietnam, we were right on civil rights, and we are right on marijuana."
Saying he was proud to have "crossed state lines with the intent to incite the imagination," the populist orator told the crowd, "We are here in the true revolutionary spirit of 1776. Let freedom ring. Raise consciousness, raise hemp, and don't forget to kick the ass of the ruling class."
Promptly at 3:00pm, a crowd of approximately 2,500 people marched from Lafayette Square to a site on the Mall in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, moving past the Old Executive Office Building and down Constitution Avenue. Chanting "we smoke pot and we like it a lot," among other things, and holding banners and signs emblazoned with calls for an end to pot prohibition, the marchers drew varied reactions from the crowds of tourists descending on the Mall for the annual fireworks display. Overt hostile reactions were exceedingly rare, with the most common response being bemusement or giggling at the silly hippies. Some passersby were clearly of a like mind with the crowd, though. One tattooed young woman, suddenly figuring out what the march was about, leapt into the air with arm upraised. "Fuck yeah!" she exclaimed. Numerous drivers passing by on Constitution Avenue tooted horns in support. Three Latino teenagers coming across the march joined up on the spot. "What's wrong with weed?" one asked. "Nuthin,'" replied his buddy, "let's march."
Marchers poured into a concert grounds on the Mall where several thousand more people had already gathered for the event's concert component. Throughout the afternoon, reggae, rock and funk beats fueled the festive mood, as bands such as the All Mighty Senators, the Hypnotix, Ordinary Way and Soldiers of Jah Army urged the crowd to emulate late reggae superstar Peter Tosh and "legalize it." Including another event concert venue a few blocks away on the Ellipse, the total crowd probably reached 10,000 -- somewhat smaller than in previous years.
Rally organizer John Pylka attributed the lower turnout to several factors. "We had huge problems with communications," Pylka admitted, "primarily because we lacked resources. But I have to do some introspection myself," he said. "I have to improve my communications and networking skills to make this more effective." But, said Pylka, attendance at the Mall was down overall. "It wasn't just us," he told DRCNet. "I talked to merchants on the Mall, and they all said traffic was down." Threatening weather, which lived up to its bluster by 5:00pm, when torrential rainfalls commenced, also played a role, he said.
The only exception to the peaceful and festive atmosphere came when US Park Police, in full SWAT team regalia, attempted to sweep through the crowd in pairs and arrest unwary tokers. The teams of blue meanies managed to seize and detain one Asian-American youth unmolested (they released him within 10 minutes), but by the time they pulled a second youth from the crowd, a loud and angry group harassed them all the way out of the concert area.
When the bust team returned for a third time, crowd members, including attorney Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Washington interns Dan Goldman and Matt Mazzuckelli, other unidentified ralliers, and yours truly (in a bout of participatory journalism), were ready. Forming a moving cordon around the police officers, they yelled advance warnings to oblivious smokers, loudly berated the cops, and effectively nullified their pot-bust enterprise. As Dana Beal prepared to take the microphone, someone in the crowd yelled, "Hey Dana, we've got cops!" prompting the veteran agitator to add his loudly amplified voice against the unwanted police presence.
Confronted by a chorus of booing and hooting, pestered unrelentingly by Zeese and others ("We're trapped with Perry Mason," one cop moaned to his partner), ducking the small number of empty plastic water bottles tossed their way, and eventually realizing that they would not be allowed to hassle more people without a fight, the cops retreated. There were no more police problems for the remainder of the day.
"That really pissed me off," Zeese told DRCNet. "While there is certainly a role for police at any public gathering, the use of a SWAT team is a manifestation of a police state. It is also an attempt to intimidate a political gathering," he said. "In fact, the use of the SWAT team almost resulted in an unintended consequence -- turning a peaceful crowd into an unruly mob. But when we stood up to those SWAT team folks, they left, which shows that we will not be intimidated."
Pylka, for his part, was relieved that the police presence did not result in the violence that came at the end of last year's rally, when Cannabis Culture photographer Peter Brady was beaten and arrested by police as he attempted to intervene in one of the harassing busts. But the veteran organizer -- this was his 19th event -- is already looking ahead to next year.
"I'm out the door on my way to get the permit for next year," he told DRCNet. "Between now and then, I intend to work on getting more support from the drug reform organizations in town. There's some bad blood there, some of it is my fault, and I need to work on that."
Activist opinion on the utility of marijuana rallies like the 4th of July HempFest is doubtless as divided as before. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/185.html#marijuanarallies for recent DRCNet discussion of this issue.
Long-time drug trend researcher Dr. Andrew Golub has produced a report on marijuana use among young offenders that may be causing the study's sponsor, the US Department of Justice, to wonder whether it should be seeking a refund. Not that the science is bad -- Golub's methodology is strong and his findings unsurprising -- but if the government was looking for a rubber stamp of approval for the drug war, it was clearly disappointed.
Using statistics from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and the annual Monitoring the Future surveys of high school students, Golub and co-author Bruce D. Johnson found that the percentage of youth testing positive for marijuana when arrested increased rapidly in the early and mid-1990s before stabilizing at the new, higher levels in the latter part of the decade. In the early part of the decade, 25% of youthful arrestees had marijuana in systems, but by 1996 that figure had jumped to 57% and has hovered in that area ever since, the study reports. According to Golub and Johnson, this rise in marijuana-using young arrestees generally parallels the increase in smoking among teenagers widely reported in the 1990s, with two provisos: The increase in young offenders smoking marijuana predated the rise in teenage use by a year, and the increase in youthful offenders was greater than the increase among young marijuana smokers in general.
What the authors melodramatically refer to as "The New Marijuana Epidemic" among young people was evident nationwide by 1999, with 22% of high school seniors reporting past-month usage. While adherents of the gateway theory (that marijuana is a "gateway" to hard drug use) would predict a new hard drug epidemic in the near future, Golub and Johnson are not so sure.
"The start of this new epidemic coincides with the decline of the crack epidemic," they wrote. "This suggests that youthful subcultures may have shifted from the destructive nature of crack abuse to the use of less dangerous drugs. Marijuana appears to have become the drug of choice among youths coming of age in the 1990s who tend to get in trouble with the law in the same way that crack had been the drug of choice previously."
"I think the findings are powerfully significant," Golub, a senior researcher at the National Development and Research Institute, a New York-based private, nonprofit foundation, told reporters as he announced the study's findings. "Fifteen years ago, we documented that the use of cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, was rampant among arrestees. Five years ago, we documented that crack was declining. What we see today is that the drug of choice among arrestees is marijuana and that it is not serving as a gateway to something else," Golub said.
"Many of these individuals have seen the devastation resulting from crack and heroin use, and they blame their parents' experiences on their use of these drugs," he said. "And this explains why for many of these youths, use of marijuana is perceived as an act of resilience" that is celebrated in everything from clothing to music.
"This is a social phenomenon," Golub said. "These youths define marijuana as not a drug. The pattern seems to be indigenous to today's youth. In other words, the habit was not passed down to them. They chose it."
And hip-hop culture had something to do with it, Golub told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The incubation phase [of a drug trend] typically grows out of a specific social context. For example, the heroin injection epidemic grew out of the jazz era and the crack epidemic started among inner-city drug dealers," said Golub. "There is evidence to suggest that the incubation phase of the new marijuana epidemic began with the youthful, inner-city, predominantly African-American, hip-hop movement."
In the study's conclusions, the authors note that, given marijuana's status as the most popular illicit drug, drug abuse control policies might logically focus on marijuana. That would be a mistake, they say. "[D]rug-using members of the New Marijuana Generation are damaging themselves less physically and socially than the preceding generation of crack smokers and heroin injectors. They are also causing much less harm to the broader population," wrote Golub and Johnson.
Noting that ethnographic studies of inner-city communities suggest a "dramatic shift in the subculture of drug use and that interactions have become more congenial and less violent," the authors call for a rethinking of marijuana enforcement policies. "Perhaps this is the time to deemphasize 'tough' drug enforcement policies in favor of indirect drug abuse control through the reduction of the economic, educational, and social barriers faced by many inner-city youth in establishing a healthy and mainstream lifestyle."
The National Institute of Justice Research Brief, "The Rise of Marijuana as the Drug of Choice Among Youthful Adult Arrestees," is available in either ASCII or Adobe Acrobat format at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/187490.htm online.
Click on the links below for information on these issues and web forms to help you contact Congress:
Oppose Drug Czar Nominee John Walters
The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, an agency of the European Union, has launched a new section of its web site maintaining a complete list of European drug policies. Visit http://www.emcdda.org/policy_law/national.shtml to check out EMCDDA's European Legal Database for Drugs.
The new issue of the Journal of Cognitive Liberties, volume II, #2, has been released, featuring articles on the new treatment vs. incarceration paradigm, cocaine, television as the opiate of the masses, ecstasy and synthetic drug panics, Richard Glen Boire's testimony before the US Sentencing Commission regarding ecstasy sentencing, entheogen law, history of non-medical drug use, media and other topics. Subscription information and past issues can be found at http://www.alchemind.org online. For information, contact Sharon O'Toole Dubois at the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, P.O. Box 73481, Davis, CA 95617-3481, [email protected].
The Office of National Drug Control Policy's infamous "credit for content" scheme to influence TV show programming is now officially over, on authority of ONDCP acting director Edward Jurith.
Once again the story was scooped by Dan Forbes, writing for Salon.com. You can read the June 30 story on Salon at http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/06/30/ondcp/ online.
Women with a Point/Access Works!, a nonprofit organization providing harm reduction services, including syringe exchange, in an inner city Minneapolis neighborhood, is seeking a full-time Executive Director.
Job responsibilities will include: Supervising Senior Staff; Providing final approval on all requests for funding, reporting and other budget-related correspondence; Representing the organization and promoting and advocating for Harm Reduction programming on community planning boards; Developing creative collaborations with other organizations to promote the expansion of harm reduction methods beyond prevention services; Providing a visible community presence by networking, belonging to community planning groups and providing ongoing education regarding Harm Reduction Principles to those who provide services to drug users; Tracking and responding to legislative issues regarding drug use and paraphernalia, syringe access and HIV/AIDS; Maintaining already established good relations with community police officers and responding to community concerns regarding the storefront; Overseeing the development and implementation of storefront programs and services in an organization committed to a client-centered approach; Overseeing an annual organizational budget of approximately $550,000; Working with the board to develop resources for the agency (including researching potential funders); and Managing relationships with existing funders.
Candidates should be knowledgeable about and committed to syringe exchange and the Harm Reduction philosophy; show strong willingness to represent and advocate for controversial services; Possess a Bachelors Degree or equivalent; have at least five years experience supervising staff and managing multi-source budgets; have excellent communication skills including familiarity with Microsoft Office software; and possess or be eligible for a valid Minnesota driver's license.
Resumes will be accepted through July 31, 2001 and should be submitted to David Hamilton at Women with a Point, 11 West 15th Street, Minneapolis MN 55403, or electronically to [email protected]. No telephone calls, please.
(Please submit listings of events related to drug policy and related areas to [email protected].)
July 7, noon-7:00pm, Zephyr Hills, FL, FORML Hemp Fest, at Zephyr Park, S.R. 54 & 5th Street. For further information, visit http://www.geocities.com/forml_2000/ or call Mike Palmieri at (813) 779-2551.
July 8, 1:00pm, Rochester, NY, Memorial Service for Rev. Virginia Mackey, founder of the Judicial Process Commission. At the Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 North Fitzhugh Street.
July 10, 10:00am-1:15pm, New York, NY, "Reassessing Sex/Gender/Life," harm reduction workshop. At the Harm Reduction Training Institute, $40 tuition, call Adrienne at (212) 683-2334 or e-mail [email protected] for information.
July 10, Washington, DC, noon-2:00pm, "Race and the Drug War: Historical Origins and Current Injustice." Weekly installment of the "Rethinking the Drug War" video & speaker brown bag lunch summer series, featuring the new documentary "Tulia Texas: Scenes from the Drug War" and excerpts from the History Channel's "Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way," and discussion with Deborah Small of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. At the Institute for Policy Studies, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 1020, sponsored by the IPS Drug Policy Project and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Admission free, dessert and beverages provided, call Dario at (202) 234-9382 ext. 220 for further information.
July 14, 8:00-10:00am, Phoenix, AZ, Protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Tent City Jail. Sponsored by the November Coalition in support of the Prison Reform Unity Project. At 2939 W Durango St., AZ, contact Marcella at (623) 877-8788 or [email protected] for further information.
July 14, 2:30pm, Santa Fe, NM, Prison Reform Unity Project demonstration. On the East Portal of the State Capitol Building. For further information, call COPA! New Mexico at (505) 299-2523 or (505) 254-2118.
July 17, Washington, DC, noon-2:00pm, "Women and the Drug War: The Fastest Growing Segment of the Prison Population." Weekly installment of the "Rethinking the Drug War" video & speaker brown bag lunch summer series, featuring "Women of Substance," a film by Rory Kennedy about addiction and alternatives to incarceration, and discussion with Jenni Gainsborough and Pat Allard of The Sentencing Project. At the Institute for Policy Studies, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 1020, sponsored by the IPS Drug Policy Project and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Admission free, dessert and beverages provided, call Dario at (202) 234-9382 ext. 220 for further information.
July 20, 8:00am-4:30pm, San Francisco, CA, "Medical Consequences of Illicit Drug Use: Prevention and Clinical Management." At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Laurel Heights Conference Center, sponsored by the San Francisco Treatment Research Center (TRC) at the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Practice/Research Collaborative, the California Society of Addiction Medicine and the East Bay Community Recovery Project, admission free. For further information, contact Karen Sharp, (415) 206-3971, visit http://itssrv1.ucsf.edu/sftrc/confinfo.html or e-mail [email protected].
July 20, 9:30am, New York, NY, "Drug War on Trial" hearing on oral arguments for motions to dismiss by The Narco News Bulletin, Al Giordano and Mario Menendez at the New York State Supreme Court, Justice Paula Omansky, 71 Thomas Street, Manhattan (3 blocks east of Foley Square and main courthouse), room 205.
July 21-22, Bethesda, MD, "Saving Our Children from Drug Treatment Abuse," a conference presented by the Trebach Institute in Association with the Survivors of Harmful Treatment Programs. At the Marriott Residence Inn, 7335 Wisconsin Ave., admission $100 or free if you don't have it. For further information, visit http://www.trebach.org, e-mail [email protected] or fax (301) 986-7815.
July 22, 6:00pm-midnight, Tulia, TX, "Never Again!" Rally protesting the mass drug prosecutions of innocent members of Tulia's African American population, featuring clergy, social justice advocates, drug reformers, the Friends of Justice Children's Choir and many others from around the country. Coordinated by Friends of Justice, for further information contact Dr. Alan Bean at (806) 995-3353 or visit http://www.drugsense.org/foj/ online.
July 24, Washington, DC, noon-2:00pm, "The Politics of Marijuana: One Arrest Every 46 Seconds." Weekly installment of the "Rethinking the Drug War" video & speaker brown bag lunch summer series, featuring discussion with Keith Stroup of NORML and excerpts from the documentary "Grass," narrated by Woody Harrelson. At the Institute for Policy Studies, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 1020, sponsored by the IPS Drug Policy Project and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Admission free, dessert and beverages provided, call Dario at (202) 234-9382 ext. 220 for further information.
July 25, 7:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, November Coalition Community Meeting. At the Peace and Justice Center, 144 Harvard SE, call (505) 342-8090 for further information.
July 27, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, Drug War Vigil. Sponsored by the November Coalition, in front of the new Bernalillo County courthouse, 400 Lomas Blvd NW. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.
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].
July 31, Washington, DC, noon-2:00pm, "Alternatives to the Drug War: Where Can We Go from Here?" Weekly installment of the "Rethinking the Drug War" video & speaker brown bag lunch summer series, featuring excerpts from "The Crier Report: America's War on Drugs: Searching for Solutions" and "Containing the Fallout," an Australian documentary, and discussion with Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy. At the Institute for Policy Studies, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 1020, sponsored by the IPS Drug Policy Project and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Admission free, dessert and beverages provided, call Dario at (202) 234-9382 ext. 220 for further information.
August 7, Washington, DC, noon-2:00pm, "Exporting Failure: the US Drug War in the Andes," weekly installment of the "Rethinking the Drug War" video & speaker brown bag lunch summer series. Featuring a showing of "Coca Mama," a new documentary examining the drug war from the indigenous and peasant perspective and discussion with Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies' Drug Policy Project. At IPS, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 1020, sponsored by IPS and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Admission free, dessert and beverages provided, call Dario at (202) 234-9382 ext. 220 for further information.
August 10-15, Philadelphia, PA, Coalition Against the American Correctional Association (CA-ACA), protest against the ACA summer conference, including a counter-conference, demonstrations and actions. For information, e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] or visit http://www.stoptheaca.org online.
August 18-19, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, "10th Annual Seattle Hempfest." Visit http://www.seattlehempfest.comh for further information.
August 22, 7:00pm, November Coalition Community Meeting. At the Peace and Justice Center, 144 Harvard SE, call (505) 342-8090 for further information.
August 24, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, Drug War Vigil. Sponsored by the November Coalition, in front of the new Bernalillo County courthouse, 400 Lomas Blvd NW. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.
September 15, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, "Twelfth Annual Fall Freedom Rally." At the Boston Common, sponsored by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. For further information call (781) 944-2266, visit http://www.masscann.org or e-mail [email protected].
September 23-26, Philadelphia, PA, International Community Corrections Association 37th Annual Conference, on Reintegration and Re-entry of the Offender into the Family. $350 for conference and pre-conference workshops, reduced rate deadline 8/31. For info, call (608) 785-0200, fax (608) 784-5335 or write to ICCA Annual Conference, P.O. Box 1987, La Crosse, WI 54602.
September 27-28, Washington, DC, "National Mobilization on Colombia, featuring workshops, meetings, lobbying and nonviolent demonstrations. Sponsored by the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Colombia Human Rights Committee, Colombia Support Network, Global Exchange, United Church of Christ and Witness for Peace. Visit http://www.ColombiaMobilization.org for info.
October 1-3, Ottawa, Canada, "Women's Critical Resistance: From Victimization to Criminalization," at the Government Conference Centre. For information or to submit a presentation proposal, call (613) 238-2422 for information or write to Kim Pate, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, 701-151 Slater St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P5H3.
October 6-7, Phoenix, AZ, "Freedom Summit," annual libertarian seminar. At the Embassy Suites Hotel, visit http://www.freedomsummit.com for further information.
October 26-27, Cortland, NY, "Thinking About Prisons: Theory and Practice." At SUNY Cortland, call (607) 753-2727 for info.
November 13, 6:00-8:00pm, New York, NY, "Women, Prison and Family." At Audrey Cohen College, 75 Varick St., for information call (212) 343-1234.
November 14-16, Barcelona, Spain, First Latin Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm. For further information, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.igia.org/clat/ or call Enric Granados at 00 34 93 415 25 99.
May 3-4, 2002, Portland, OR, Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, focus on Analgesia and Other Indications. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time and Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, for further information visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com or call (804) 263-4484.
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 http://www.harmreduction.org or call (212) 213-6376.
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