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

Issue #195, 7/20/01

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Robert Downey's Business
  2. Prescription for Prosecution: Feds Go After Oxy Docs in Southwestern Virginia
  3. BC Marijuana Industry Approaching Critical Mass, DEA Not Happy
  4. Ditchweed Update: DEA Numbers
  5. Narco News First Amendment Trial Begins, Electronic Frontier Foundation Files Amicus Brief
  6. Media Scan: Columbia Journalism Review on Cincinnati, Arianna Huffington on Colombia
  7. For Sale: Merchandise and Services to Benefit the Cause
  8. HEA Campaign Gets Media: Student Victim Cases Still Needed
  9. Urgent Action Alerts: Colombia, HEA, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, John Walters
  10. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Editorial: Robert Downey's Business

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 7/20/01

Another chapter has opened in the long Robert Downey drugs and the law saga. Forbidden by California's Proposition 36 from sending the actor and repeat drug law violator to jail again, a judge sentenced Downey instead to one year in a residential treatment center with drug testing.

This time, anyway. The sentence was "not a gift," the judge admonished him, it was going to be "hard work." And should Downey fail the treatment program, the judge warned, the next time he would get four years in a state prison.

Four years? For having an addiction, a medical problem? The idea of incarcerating a human being for four years for personal drug use is obscene. One wonders whether Downey's judge was a neutral and thoughtful arbiter of justice, or a spoiled tyrant upset that the voters had tied his hands this time, and who decided to take it out on Downey by threatening to destroy him if he disobeyed again.

But it really isn't the judge's business. If Robert Downey -- and perhaps more importantly, the many thousands of nonviolent offenders with fewer financial resources who are dragged into California's courts each year -- use drugs in private, it is their private business and no one else's, or at least not the government's, even if they do harm to themselves. Should an addiction lead to behavior that is legitimately considered criminal (e.g. theft, dangerous driving, child neglect, etc.), that is another issue, and other existing laws already deal with that. But drug use in and of itself is not a criminal act, but the decision of free individuals, unwise in some cases but ultimately their own.

Friends or family members of the addicted, even coworkers or colleagues, can legitimately voice their opinions and urge their troubled friends to seek help, and providing help to those seeking it is laudable. But it is entirely another matter for the state, through force or threat of it, to coerce an addict, much less a non-addicted user who happens to get caught, to submit to state-approved treatment programs and destroy them through incarceration if they disobey or fail. That is morally unjustifiable, a violation of basic human rights and freedom.

I'm glad that a new law kept Robert Downey out of prison this time, even more so that some 20,000 less wealthy people each year will receive the same benefit. But I was also glad to see protesters from the Libertarian Party holding signs reading "end the drug war" and other such slogans in the background during newscasts following Downey's court date. As Prop. 36 supporters point out, the new law is a "first step" toward treating addiction as a medical issue rather than a criminal one. But it is equally important to remember that it is only a first step, the situation is still unacceptable and much remains to be done.

Much to be done, to reach the only morally acceptable goal: ending prohibition.


2. Prescription for Prosecution: Feds Go After Oxy Docs in Southwestern Virginia

Federal prosecutors waging war on Oxycontin have won pill-pushing convictions against two Southwest Virginia doctors in the past month and a third has been raided and awaits possible indictment. In the past two years, three other physicians have also been convicted of dispensing powerful pain relief medications without proper medical reason in Southwest Virginia, now in the midst of what local authorities refer to as "an epidemic" of Oxycontin abuse. The trio of doctors recently convicted or under official suspicion all prescribed Oxycontin to large numbers of pain patients, some of whom have said in sworn testimony that they were drug abusers.

On June 22, a federal jury convicted Grundy, Virginia, physician Franklin J. Sutherland, 46, on 427 counts of writing prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose. A month later, another federal jury convicted Dr. Lowell Clark, 43, of nearby Bland, Virginia of 266 counts on similar charges. Clark faces 15 years in prison, and Sutherland over 100 years, plus millions of dollars in fines. Both were prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Randy Ramseyer, who has been working with a federal task force, including the FBI and DEA, as well as local police agencies in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee, investigating diverted drugs and health insurance fraud in the region.

Meanwhile, Roanoke, Virginia, Dr. Cecil Knox waits to see if he too will face the weight of the federal government. Federal agents raided his practice on June 27 looking for evidence that he prescribed Oxycontin and other pain relief drugs to drug dealers or abusers. According to the Roanoke Times, an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant said Knox was being investigated for prescribing drugs for no legitimate medical reason and defrauding medical insurance programs. The affidavit noted that Knox was the second largest prescriber of Oxycontin for Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Virginia's largest managed health care company.

The next day, Dr. Knox was back at work at the Southwest Virginia Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation clinic, which provides physical therapy and pain management for chronic pain patients. "He takes his Hippocratic oath very seriously," attorney Debbie Caldwell-Bono told the Times. "He may be a leading prescriber of this type of pain medication. But at the same time, you have to realize that he is a leading caregiver of chronic pain sufferers in this area. He emphatically denies any wrongdoing by himself or his staff," Caldwell-Bono added.

As federal and state investigators sift through thousands of pages of medical records searching for indictable offenses, Dr. Knox continues to practice without further public comment.

This assault on pain doctors as scrip-happy Dr. Feelgoods comes amidst a local level of concern over Oxycontin abuse that approaches a classical moral panic. With police and prosecutors hyping the threat of Oxycontin abuse and local newspapers faithfully parroting what they hear from law enforcement officials, local juries are quick to convict and local authorities are quick to conjure up new solutions to the latest drug menace.

In Pulaski, Virginia, police have provided fingerprint kits to six local pharmacies, to be used for customers filling Oxycontin prescriptions, the Roanoke Times reported. According to the Times, the kits' manufacturer said this was the first time the fingerprint kits had been used in pharmacies. They are typically used at check-cashing businesses. According to the same article, police in Pulaski logged a whopping 1,800 drug cases in the first six months of this year. The town has a population of just under 10,000.

A Virginia lawyer, Strother Smith of Abingdon, has also gotten in on the fun, filing a $5.2 billion state lawsuit against Oxycontin's manufacturer, Purdue Pharma of Connecticut, on behalf of five individuals who claim to have become addicted to the drug. Smith has referred to Purdue Pharma as "corporate drug dealers." One of Smith's clients claims to have become addicted to the drug after taking one dose.

In the cases of Drs. Sutherland and Clark, federal prosecutors told jurors the physicians prescribed Oxycontin to people they knew or should have known were abusing the drug and presented witnesses who testified they were abusing drugs while receiving prescriptions.

In Sutherland's trial, Brian Elswick, a former deputy sheriff and professed addict, told the court he persuaded Sutherland to phone in prescriptions in the names of the deputy's former fiancee and father. He testified that he told Sutherland he had pain in his back, elbow, or leg, and the doctor would phone in a prescription.

US Assistant Attorney Ramseyer also called the deputy's fiancee, Summer Chambers, who testified that: "I knew that [Sutherland] had to know there was a problem." She did not explain precisely how she knew this.

Testifying in his own defense, Sutherland admitted filling 11 prescriptions to Elswick's father and fiancee without examining them. "I trusted Brian completely," he testified. "I made a terrible mistake." He told the jury many of his patients suffered from severe, chronic pain and that the medications he prescribed helped them lead more normal lives. "I just tried to do the best job I could with the patients, to treat them as best as I know how," he testified.

But the jury was not in a mood to buy it. After three days of deliberations, they convicted him of hundreds of counts of improper prescribing. He will be sentenced on September 10.

The jury didn't swing Dr. Freeman Clark's way this week either, in a trial strikingly reminiscent of Sutherland's. Testifying for the prosecution was another professed former drug abuser, Elizabeth Diane Ritchie, who told the court Clark prescribed her pain pills after other doctors refused to do so. "I was still in pain, and my family said [Clark] would write narcotics," she testified. I told him I was snorting the pills. It just seemed like it worked faster," said the former fast-food worker who had undergone three surgeries to her back and neck. Still, said Ritchie, she did not think Clark had done anything wrong. "He was a good doctor," she testified, "he took time with you."

Another prosecution witness, former minister and drug abuser Harold Underwood, also testified that he abused the drugs prescribed him for back and neck pain. But he, too, testified that Clark was unaware of his drug abuse problem. "He had no way of knowing that," said Underwood. "I never got to the point where I was completely out of it. He always examined me, it was never just ask for medicine and get it."

Yet another patient, Connie Hatfield, testified that she began seeing Clark because no other doctors would take her as a patient. "I had called several doctors' offices, but as soon as I told them I had chronic pain, they said they weren't taking any more patients." Clark prescribed Oxycontin, she told the court, and she continues to use it for back pain. "I can't function without my pain medication," she said, adding that she was not a drug abuser.

Clark's cause was damaged by his admission in court that he had suffered from depression and prescription drug abuse before establishing his practice in the area. He said he last tested positive for drugs in 1999 and since then he had passed 88 consecutive random drug screenings. He also testified that as a doctor new to the area, he had to take patients no one else wanted: the poor, those with multiple medical problems and chronic pain sufferers. "I actually inherited a lot of patients no one else wanted to see," he told the jury. "I didn't care. This was the first time in my life that I had a practice I could call my own."

And the last time, unless his conviction is overturned on appeal.

In both cases, local internist Dr. Adam Steinberg, apparently building a nascent career as a professional witness, testified that hundreds of prescriptions were unwarranted. But in Dr. Steinberg's opinion, no one with a drug problem should be given opioids for pain. "It's not a legitimate medical purpose to issue a narcotic for a known drug abuser," he testified.

Steinberg did not say what such people who are in pain should do, and his views are sharply at variance with those who specialize in pain treatment. The intersection of chronic pain and chemical dependency is a complex medical issue, but a consensus exists among pain treatment leaders that such patients should receive adequate treatment for their pain, even if it is narcotics (http://www.ampainsoc.org/pub/bulletin/mar99/president.htm).

Assistant US Attorney Ramseyer, in a post-conviction press conference, called the verdict a message to doctors. "With pills, it's not like cocaine or marijuana. They can't get onto the street unless doctors are prescribing them," he said. "So many people are affected by [the abuse of] these pills in Southwest Virginia. It's hurting people who have a legitimate need for these medications." Ramseyer did not explain how sending doctors to prison for dozens of years in an area where physicians are increasingly loathe to prescribe strong pain medications would help those people.


3. BC Marijuana Industry Approaching Critical Mass, DEA Not Happy

That marijuana is rapidly becoming a major player in the economy of British Columbia has just been confirmed in a newly released report from the Canadian province's Organized Crime Agency (OCA). BC marijuana activists have for years touted marijuana as an economic stimulus for the province, but this latest report suggests that "BC bud" has become so entrenched, so economically potent and so culturally accepted that it may now be politically impossible to eradicate it. These facts on the ground, however, have not stopped US drug warriors from attempting to bring their hundred years' war to Vancouver. The DEA plans to open an office there by years' end.

Good luck, guys.

Here's what they are up against, according to the OCA: The province boasts 15,000 to 25,000 marijuana grow operations employing (at six persons per grow) between 90,000 and 150,000 people. The agency estimated the annual wholesale value of the pot crop at $4 billion. At $2,000 per pound, that is about two million pounds of BC bud each year, much of it headed south. The agency estimated that as much as 95% of the crop is exported to the ravenous US market.

"I'm not aware of anywhere in North America where a single [illegal] industry would be this important," Jim Brander, a professor of business economics at the University of BC, told the Vancouver Sun after studying the report.

How important is marijuana to the British Columbia economy? Counting only the people directly involved in grow operations (at six per grow) and taking the low end of the estimate, the marijuana sector's 100,000 workers make up 5% of the provincial workforce and number more than are employed in the province's massive logging, mining, and oil and gas industries (55,000 combined), the information and culture industries (99,000), provincial and local government (99,000), and business managers and administrators (79,000). Only the manufacturing sector, with 205,000 workers, is unarguably larger than the marijuana sector; the other two largest sectors -- construction and transportation -- both employ fewer than the high end figure from official BC employment statistics, cited by the OCA (http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/data/dd/handout/naicsann.pdf).

Marijuana is also one of the province's leading exports, perhaps the largest in dollar terms if the OCA export figures are accurate. The top legal exports are wood ($3.2 billion US) and oil and gas ($1.5 billion US). According to the OCA, marijuana exports accounted for as much as $3.8 billion US.

And that is good for Canada. "Ideally, what any country wants to do is produce for export to other countries," said Lindsay Meredith, an economist at Simon Fraser University. "It creates a trade surplus and makes the currency stronger," he told the Vancouver Sun.

Accounting only for economic activity directly related to marijuana growing, the pot sector could represent as much as 5% of the provincial economy, OCA reported. But that estimate does not include the multiplier effect, the tool used by economists to measure an industry's impact on the larger economy. Because of the clandestine nature of the industry, the multiplier effect is impossible to calculate, said Meredith, but is still substantial.

The multiplier effect may be observed anecdotally in, for instance, Vancouver's 32 grow operation supply shops, twice the number of Burger King outlets in the city. (Washington-Baltimore, with a comparable population, boasts one grow shop.) Or in the town of Nelson, where harvest season is announced by a big bump in the restaurant and bar business. Or in the new businesses from Vancouver Island to the Kootenays financed, rumor has it, by marijuana profits.

Some people close to the scene say OCA's figures are too high. Vancouver cannabis seed entrepreneur Marc Emery told the Sun he estimated the industry's worth at $2.5 billion US, with some 60,000 people directly involved in the trade. Even so, marijuana production would remain one of British Columbia's leading industries. And that makes Emery happy. "Marijuana is the best industry any province can have," the BC Marijuana party head told the Sun.

Not everyone is as sanguine as Emery. Mark Wexler, a professor of business ethics at Simon Fraser University, pointed to a slew of problems associated with illegal industries. As marijuana "becomes a predominant part of the economy," local support for enforcing the drug laws could dry up, Wexler said, especially in smaller towns.

Drew Edwards, editor of the Nelson and author of a book on the local pot business, "West Coast Smoke," told the Sun that is already happening in his community. "In Nelson, the people growing marijuana are your neighbours and your friends," he said, and people are reluctant to turn them in.

Wexler also pointed to the potential for violence in illicit industries. "The more an economy is illegal, the more that economy has the potential for violence," Wexler said. "Legitimate businesses generally don't take the law into their own hands, but illegal businesses do not have third parties [the judicial system] to act as intermediaries."

But even Wexler recognized that the problems he identified were related less to marijuana in and of itself than to prohibition. "Can marijuana be made legal and most of [those problems] go away?" asked Wexler. "Yes."

This is something that the provincial and national government will have to confront, said Wexler. "If we were in a jurisdiction where marijuana was a much smaller contributor [to the economy], we wouldn't be asking these questions," he told the Sun. "But now we're at the point where this is big business. The public [needs] to decide the degree to which the commercialization of marijuana should be brought into the economy," Wexler said. "We need to figure out what our approach to this is."

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) knows what its approach is and it is sending in the cavalry. Earlier this month, the US Embassy in Ottawa announced that the agency will open a Vancouver office -- the first in Canada outside one in Ottawa, the capitol -- early next year to coordinate investigations with BC police into the marijuana business.

"It will be a substantial office, not just a liaison office with one person," embassy spokesman Buck Shinkman told reporters. "You place your staff where there's the most business to be done," he added.

The DEA has grown increasingly concerned about BC bud, issuing an intelligence brief in December warning that the BC marijuana business had become "a billion-dollar industry" and that "traffickers smuggle a significant portion of the Canadian harvest into the United States."

But the US government is equally upset with the blind eye the province turns to marijuana crimes. The Vancouver grow squad doesn't bother to arrest most growers whose operations they raid, and growers who are arrested typically face fines. Very few are sentenced to prison, and rarely for more than a few weeks. Throughout the province, only 17% of incidents where police find marijuana result in arrests.

The US State Department in its 2000 Narcotics Control Report had a suggestion for its northern neighbor: "Sentencing guidelines, together with stronger judicial and public support, would increase the impact of the GOC's [government of Canada's] law enforcement efforts and create a stronger deterrent to transnational crime," wrote Washington.

That isn't likely to fly in British Columbia, where according to recent polls, a majority favor legalization of marijuana. In a national poll this month, Leger Marketing found 52.4% of BC residents in favor, and 46.8% nationwide. But that BC majority does not yet hold for legal commercial production. According to a poll done last year in greater Vancouver, only one in five was ready to embrace the province's underground economic powerhouse.

But while the province grapples with its cannabis conundrum, thousands of growers are building a new reality on the ground.


4. Ditchweed Update: DEA Numbers

Last week, DRCNet reported on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/194.html#ditchweed), which appears primarily devoted to wiping out feral cannabis, or "ditchweed," descended from the "Hemp for Victory" program of World War II. Because the DEA was slow to respond to DRCNet requests for current information, we were unable to provide accurate recent figures.

The DEA has now responded. DEA figures confirm that the vast majority of cannabis plants destroyed by the eradication campaign are ditchweed, feral cannabis plants that do not contain enough THC to provide any psychoactive effects other than a headache.

According to the DEA, the eradication program destroyed 252, 717,000 cannabis plants in 2000. Of those, 250 million were ditchweed, 2.5 million were cultivated outdoor plants, and 717,000 were indoor cultivated plants. In other words, DEA's own data show that 98.92% of all cannabis plants destroyed under the program were harmless weeds whose destruction has absolutely no impact on drug use in the United States.

This year's program is funded at $13.2 million dollars, the DEA told DRCNet, with grants to state and local agencies ranging from $5,000 to over one million dollars per agency. The grants go to some 106 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states.

Surprisingly, the DEA also claimed to "have evidence that sample "ditchweed" plants submitted from each state contain THC in excess of the levels accepted for "getting high."

That was news to cannabis expert Chris Conrad (http://www.chrisconrad.com). "I don't know what their 'levels accepted for getting high' are," Conrad told DRCNet, "but I would place it at something above 2% THC concentration. Mexican brick weed averages about 3%, and according to the study done by the American Midland Naturalists in the mid-1970s, ditchweed averaged around 0.5%."

Readers should not be surprised, however, that the DEA claims that ditchweed can get you high. This is, after all, the same agency that has expressed serious concerns about people getting THC in their bodies from hemp-based lip balms and other body care products.


5. Narco News First Amendment Trial Begins, Electronic Frontier Foundation Files Amicus Brief

The Drug War on Trial case has its first hearing today, Friday, July 20th, at the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. The hearing is open to the press and public, and will take place at 71 Thomas Street (corner of West Broadway, across from the Odeon Cafeteria, near the Chambers St. Station on the 1,2,3 and 9 trains), Courtroom #205, Justice Paula Omansky presiding. The hearing begins at 9:30am, and will be followed by a Narco News press conference.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading organization defending first amendment rights in the cyber-age, filed an amicus brief in support of the Narco News Bulletin's right to publish. A complete copy of the brief is available at http://www.narconews.com/effamicus.html online, as well as other briefs in the case through the Narco News home page. Some excerpts from EFF's memorandum follow:

  • "The new independent journalists of the Internet, as personified by Al Giordano, play a crucial role in preserving the democratic aspirations of First Amendment protection. The role of such journalists is especially salient as mainstream media is increasingly in the hands of fewer and fewer large corporations."
  • "The application of New York substantive law to claims alleging libel for statements made on a foreign website where the great majority of the alleged harm occurred in a foreign jurisdiction will encourage explicit forum shopping by plaintiffs. Independent, online publishers will be less willing to partake in spirited investigative journalism... The excessive burden placed upon independent, Internet-based journalists in defending themselves in distant fora chills online journalistic activity, implicating online First Amendment rights that are of central concern to the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
  • "Independent, Internet journalism embodies the democratic vision of the 'freedom of the press' clause of the First Amendment. Journalists like Al Giordano are able to post their investigative efforts and the efforts of others via the Internet to the entire world, with incredibly low production and distribution costs. Given that mainstream media is increasingly in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations, the Internet is a crucial outlet for independent media projects such as Narconews.com. The Supreme Court notably remarked the vital importance of an independent press in a time of corporate and government conglomeration in Branzburg v. Hayes, 92 S.Ct. 2646 (1972): 'As private and public aggregations of power burgeon in size and the pressures for conformity necessarily mount, there is obviously a continuing need for an independent press to disseminate a robust variety of information and opinion through reportage, investigation, and criticism, if we are to preserve our constitutional tradition of maximizing freedom of choice by encouraging diversity of expression.'"
  • "Banamex's hopes for a 'second chance' to litigate this dispute are explicit in this case. After a lengthy criminal libel trial lasting more than two years, a Mexican judge ruled that Banamex had not been libeled by the Mexican Newspaper Por Esto! which conducted the investigation republished by Narconews.com. This decision was upheld on appeal in Mexico in May of last year, and a third attempt to press criminal charges in Mexico was thrown out of court."
  • "A finding of jurisdiction would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment given the harm that will ensue to online publishers such as Mr. Giordano. As the Internet subjects online journalists to an increasing number of foreign jurisdictions, the doctrine of forum non conveniens has taken on an even more important role in protecting online freedom of the press. Through operating as a 'safeguard' against suit in distant jurisdictions, forum non conveniens minimizes the burden that online journalists must endure when the legality of their news stories is challenged in a court of law. The doctrine of forum non conveniens as applied to libel cases involving online journalism, and mass media in general, thus offers a distinct way to protect and bolster the First Amendment rights of journalists and publishers."

6. Media Scan: Columbia Journalism Review on Cincinnati, Arianna Huffington on Colombia

Last April, following the shooting by an unarmed young black man by Cincinnati police, an inner-city neighborhood erupted into riot in response. An article by Dan Lazare in the Columbia Journalism Review reveals the drug war's role in pushing a community to the point where its rage boils over into social disturbance, an angle omitted by nearly all the mainstream media. According to Lazare, this portion of Cincinnati has a population of only 7,500, but averages 2,300 drug arrests per year. Additionally, 1,500 people have been exiled under a law allowing police to banish anyone arrested on drug charges, convicted or not. Visit http://www.cjr.org/year/01/4/cincinnati.asp to read the CJR story.

Arianna Huffington slams the drug war again in her 7/16 column, "Good Morning, Colombia." Within the current legislation, she reveals, is a provision to allow dramatic increases in the number of paid mercenaries participating in the Colombian drug war.
Visit http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/071601.html to read it.

Also covering the issue of civilian contractors, The Nation magazine, republished by Alternet:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=11170


7. For Sale: Merchandise and Services to Benefit the Cause

DRCNet and some of our allies are offering merchandise and services to raise awareness of the issue and funds for the cause:

WEB HOSTING: DRCNet's dedicated web server box has room to spare. If you own a low-traffic Internet domain with straightforward technical needs, you can help us defray the cost of the server -- currently about $500/month -- by hosting your domain with us and paying DRCNet instead of some random company. Our machine sits on one of the fastest Internet hubs available, and your pages will come up on viewers' computer screens nice and fast just like ours. We are asking $25/month for hosting, negotiable, includes web site and a reasonable number of e-mail accounts or aliases. Contact David Borden at [email protected] if interested.

SHOP ONLINE: DRCNet is enrolled in the iGive affinity program whereby online shoppers can designate a participating group to receive a portion of the proceeds from their purchases -- you can even earn money for DRCNet just by signing up and visiting the site! (Some of you may have helped us earn several thousand dollars from iGive previously when the program was focused on online ad click-throughs.) Just point your browser to http://www.igive.com/html/refer.cfm?causeid=1060 to register with iGive and select DRCNet as your recipient nonprofit.

BOOKS: DRCNet is currently offering two new books for free to members contributing $35 or more to the organization -- $40 or more for a copy that's been signed by the author, or donate $75 or more and we'll send you both. "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs," by Judge James P. Gray of the Orange County, CA Superior Court, and "Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana," by Orange County Register editorialist Alan Bock, are both must-reads for anyone seeking intellectual ammunition in the drug debate and a critical understanding of the impact and dynamics of the drug war today.

Just visit our donation page at http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html -- make sure to type a note in the comment box telling us which books you want, if any -- or send a check or money order in the mail, to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

(Note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. Deductible contributions supporting our educational work can be made to the DRCNet Foundation, same address. Choosing to receive a book with a tax-deductible donation will reduce the size of your deduction by an amount equal to the book's retail value.)

T-SHIRTS AND POSTERS: Our friends at Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) are offering two outstanding t-shirts, proceeds of the sales from which will go to provide scholarship money to students losing financial aid because of drug convictions. Visit http://www.ssdp.org and check out the online store to buy some!

DanceSafe, a national harm reduction organization working in the rave/club scene, is offering t-shirts and posters to supporters making donations to the group. Visit http://www.dancesafe.org to check it out.


8. HEA Campaign Gets Media: Student Victim Cases Still Needed

With the help of some courageous students or would-be students willing to go public, the campaign to overturn the drug provision of the Higher Education Act, led by DRCNet and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, has garnered more valuable media coverage on this issue. Last Sunday (7/15), the Associated Press ran a story about the HEA drug provision, mentioning Students for Sensible Drug Policy and interviewing Todd Howard, a 32-year old from Kentucky who is trying to go back to school for computers. Associated Press articles are reprinted in newspapers around the country.

The article also provided the first major coverage of a letter sent by the nation's major national higher education organizations, coordinated by the American Council on Education (ACE), to US Representative and DEA Chief Administrator nominee Asa Hutchinson. ACE and 12 other groups ranging from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators to the United Negro College Fund called for total repeal of the HEA drug provision, which they called "fundamentally flawed."

Have you or someone you know or know of lost financial aid for college because of a drug conviction? The campaign still needs to find more such students or would-be students who are willing to go public and talk to the media, especially in the greater New York City area. 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].

Visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com for further information on this effort.


9. Urgent Action Alerts: Colombia, HEA, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, John Walters

URGENT: Colombia

Now that an Andean funding package has passed the House, it is time to lobby the Senate. Please call your two Senators on the phone as soon as possible and ask them to vote YES on any amendments that would ELIMINATE or REDUCE funding for Colombia's military or place a moratorium on drug war fumigation.

You can reach your two Senators by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or look them up at http://www.senate.gov on the web. As always, please write us at [email protected] to let us know you've taken action.

OTHER CURRENT ACTION ITEMS:

Click on the links below for information on these issues and web forms to help you contact Congress:

Oppose Drug Czar Nominee John Walters
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters/

Repeal the Higher Education Act Drug Provision
http://www.raiseyourvoice.com

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/justice/

Support Medical Marijuana
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/


10. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 presiding, 71 Thomas Street, Manhattan (3 blocks east of Foley Square and main courthouse), room 205.

July 20-22, San Salvador, El Salvador, "International Conference for Peace and Solidarity in Colombia and Latin America." At the University of San Salvador, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.geocities.com/eventopaz/ for further information.

July 21, noon-3:00pm, New York NY, Planning Meeting for Action on Repealing the Rockefeller Drug Laws, follow up to the June 30th Protest to Repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At St. Aloysius Church, 219 W. 132nd St. For further information, contact JusticeWorks Community at (718) 499-6704 or [email protected].

July 21, 2:00pm, Fayetteville, AR, Protest against nomination of Rep. Asa Hutchinson as chief of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. At the Federal Building, e-mail [email protected] for information.

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, noon-2:00pm, Washington, DC, "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, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, The New Anti-War Movement: Drug Policy Reform, forum with Ethan Nadelmann of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. At the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter (at Franklin). Free, e-mail 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, 7:00pm, Santa Ana, CA, Coalition Against Violent Crime public meeting, featuring Joe Klaas, father of murder victim Polly Klaas, speaking against California's Three-Strikes Law, and showing of "The Legacy" documentary of the Klaas family's campaign for and against the law in 1993-1994. At the Southwest Senior Citizens Center, 2201 West McFadden Ave. at Center St., book signing before talk at 6:00pm. For information, call Sam H. Clauder at (909) 653-3500 or Jim Benson at (714) 635-0540.

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, noon-2:00pm, Washington, DC, "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, noon-2:00pm, Washington, DC, "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 7-10, St. Louis, MO, American Methadone Treatment Association Conference 2001. For further information, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.assnmethworks.org or call (212) 566-5555.

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.

March 3-7, 2002, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 13th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm and 2nd International Harm Reduction Congress on Women and Drugs. Sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Association, visit http://www.ihrc2002.net or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

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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