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

Issue #204, 9/28/01

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Battle Over Civil Liberties Heats Up as Congress Ponders Anti-Terrorism Act
  2. Help Save Politically Incorrect!
  3. 9th Circuit Under Scrutiny: Supreme Court to Review Public Housing Ruling, Prosecutors Force Circuit to Reconsider Sentencing Ruling
  4. Terror Crackdown on Border Puts Kibosh on Smuggling -- For Now
  5. Student Activism Spurs Appalachian State University Chancellor to Join HEA Drug Provision Repeal Cause
  6. Nevada Medical Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect Next Week, But Program Lacks Funds, Simple Possession Reduced to Misdemeanor
  7. While Reformers Brood, Politicos Make Drug-Terror Connection
  8. Bolivia Forced Eradication Provoking Civil Instability, Indiscriminate Violence by Government Security Forces
  9. Philly Anti-Poverty Group Does "Drug War Reality Tour," More Planned
  10. Hemp Industry Advocates Launch "TestPledge" Program
  11. Marijuana Prohibition Not Strong Deterrent, Study Says -- Personal Preference and Health Concerns Primary Reasons for Abstention
  12. From the Archives: Better Uses for Law Enforcement Personnel
  13. Action Alerts: John Walters, HEA, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  14. Job Opportunity: Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, DC
  15. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Battle Over Civil Liberties Heats Up as Congress Ponders Anti-Terrorism Act

In the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft is attempting to ram through the Congress a counter-terrorism package that will grant sweeping new powers to law enforcement -- some related to anti-terrorism enforcement and some not. But Ashcroft's effort is running into unexpectedly stiff opposition, not only from the usual suspects -- left-leaning civil libertarians and right-tilting just plain libertarians -- but also from a broad coalition of civic, religious, and ethnic groups, and members of Congress itself.

Citing the looming threat of new attacks, Ashcroft urged Congress to move swiftly to enact the administration package, which includes:

  • The authority to detain non-citizens suspected of ties to terrorist organizations indefinitely and without the right to appeal;
  • The ability to use in court wiretap evidence obtained in other countries in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
  • Secret court authorizations for wiretaps;
  • Longer prison sentences for terrorist offenses;
  • Access to users' Internet information without a court order;
  • The authority to review voice-mail messages with only a search warrant;
  • The ability to conduct "roving wiretaps" with only a single search warrant;
  • Making low-level computer hacking a federal terrorist offense.
"Every day that passes with outdated statutes and the old rules of engagement is a day that terrorists have a competitive advantage," Ashcroft warned the House Judiciary Committee, which is considering its own anti-terrorism package.

But despite Ashcroft's urgings, members of the Congress have applied the brakes. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is working on an alternative package more respectful of civil liberties. "If the Constitution is shredded, the terrorists win," he said late last week.

So is the House Judiciary Committee, where partisan feelings have run high ever since the Clinton impeachment fiasco and were exacerbated by disputes over last fall's closely and bitterly contested presidential election. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he and other members were "deeply troubled" by the constitutional implications. "Past experience has taught us that today's weapon against terrorism may be tomorrow's law against law-abiding Americans," Conyers said.

Liberal Democrats are not the only people on the Hill urging caution. House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas came out of a meeting last week with Ashcroft "decidedly cool" to the Attorney General's plea for speedy, un-reviewed passage of the administration package.

A rapidly cobbled-together coalition, In Defense of Freedom (, whose members range from the ACLU to Phyllis Schafly's Eagle Forum, is playing a crucial role in the fight to maintain constitutional liberties in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The group's members have not only spoken loudly and eloquently on the dangers involved in sacrificing freedoms for the sake of security (, but have used their combined expertise to identify and analyze problematic elements within the Ashcroft proposal, as well as the competing proposals now coming from the Hill.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, for example, homed in on asset forfeiture provisions in the Ashcroft proposal that are both redundant and, in NACDL's words, "highly offensive." The provision would allow law enforcement dramatically greater powers to seize property without a trial, including many criminal cases that have no bearing on terrorism. And as the NACDL notes, "it's totally unnecessary in light of another provision in the DOJ bill which grants broad authority to seize the assets of a terrorist organization. The government would never need to use [this section] to restrain the assets of a terrorist organization, but it would make it easier for them to grab property in every other type of case."

The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has focused on the immigration aspects of the proposal, slamming its infinite, unappealable detention plank as "unprecedented" and "corrosive."

And the conservative Free Congress Foundation raised concerns about financial privacy in the face of the Ashcroft proposals. While supporting elements of the proposals, the foundation's Brad Jansen told Congress that others raised serious concerns. "Provisions of the bill to give broad powers to law enforcement may make us no more safe but could erode our civil liberties," Jansen told Congress. "The oft-repeated warning that we may have to give up some of our civil liberties in order to safeguard us from terrorism is a false choice."

Jansen told DRCNet the In Defense of Freedom coalition has had "a great deal of influence" on the Hill. "Instead of marking up the Ashcroft bill, after our briefings the committees agreed to wait for a week," he said. "I give the members credit for moving as quickly as they did, but also for taking the time to give these measures the serious consideration they warrant."

On a related issue, the Latin America Working Group has raised concern over the administration's request for waivers of human rights restrictions in foreign operations funding.

Two weeks ago, there was nearly unanimous agreement that civil liberties were about to take a big hit in the name of the "war on terrorism." With Congress working furiously to address security concerns, that threat still exists. But thanks to the efforts of In Defense of Freedom and the level-headedness of some political leaders, the Congress will not be providing a blank check or a law enforcement "wish list."

(DRCNet will issue an action alert on these issues this weekend or early next week.)

2. Help Save Politically Incorrect!

One of the few programs in the mainstream media to frequently and consistently discuss the drug war and the legalization option is Politically Incorrect on ABC. Politically Incorrect is now under threat of cancellation over comments made by its host, Bill Maher, that have been dramatically distorted by zealots in the current, frenzied post-disaster climate.

Now of all times is a time to stand up for free speech and dissent, not to stifle it. As many have pointed out over the last two weeks, to willingly give up our own liberties in the heat of crisis and fear would be to needlessly hand the terrorists another victory. Freedom of speech is the most important such liberty, and unfettered discourse is necessary now more than ever.

Please e-mail [email protected] to let ABC know you support Bill Maher and Politically Incorrect, and please fill out the following online petitions to contact ABC and sponsors FedEx and Sears who have pulled their advertising from the show:

Visit to learn more about the show and what was really said on it from columnist Arianna Huffington, who was a guest on Politically Incorrect that night.

3. 9th Circuit Under Scrutiny: Supreme Court to Review Public Housing Ruling, Prosecutors Force Circuit to Reconsider Sentencing Ruling

It must feel pretty lonely sitting on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The court, which has jurisdiction over ten western states, has often been accused of "judicial activism" and is overturned by the Supreme Court more often than any other circuit. Now it finds itself isolated from the other circuits on a crucial sentencing ruling and under pressure from outraged federal prosecutors. At the same time, the Supreme Court has decided to review the 9th Circuit's ruling barring the Oakland Housing Authority from evicting residents because their guests or relatives had drugs on the property.

Both cases are of national importance, and the fact that the Supreme Court has accepted the public housing case does not bode well for the rights of public housing tenants. "The common wisdom usually is they take cases where they're dissatisfied with the result so far," said Paul Renne, attorney for the plaintiffs. "I hope that isn't the reason," he told the Oakland Tribune.

Now, urged on by the Bush administration, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the case, setting a precedent that will affect every public housing resident in the country. The case originated when the Oakland Housing Authority moved to evict four elderly residents because of minor drug infractions by their guests or relatives. The housing authority was following the lead of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which had promulgated a "one-strike" rule for drug offenses in public housing. The 9th Circuit blocked the move in a January ruling, saying tenants could not be evicted for behavior over which they had no control (

Catherine M. Bishop, an attorney with the National Housing Law Project in Oakland, told the Tribune she is worried about the case given the current political context. She feared the national mood may be swinging toward sacrificing some civil rights in an effort to gain a sense of security.

Renne disagreed. "The issue here isn't one that goes to national security -- it goes to fundamental fairness of whether someone in public housing can be evicted without them having any control over the events causing the eviction, or even any knowledge of those events."

Meanwhile, in a Wednesday hearing, the full 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit heard arguments about a decision by a three-judge panel in Buckland v. Washington, where the circuit found non-jury sentence enhancements unconstitutional. Differing from five other US circuit courts, however, the three-judge panel not only threw out the sentencing enhancements, but also invalidated the 1984 sentencing law that created mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses ( Such a ruling, if it stands, could impact the cases of thousands of drug defendants in areas covered by the 9th Circuit.

That ruling sent federal prosecutors and the Justice Department into a tizzy. Every federal prosecutor in the circuit asked the full panel to review the decision, which would have removed a potent weapon from their prosecutorial arsenals. The case is seen as so potentially important that once the 9th Circuit decided to review its decision, every federal defender in the circuit submitted briefs asking the court to stand by its earlier ruling.

The 9th circuit based its decision on last year's Supreme Court ruling in Apprendi v. New Jersey, where the court found that extending a sentence beyond the statutory maximum in post-conviction hearings not submitted to jury was unconstitutional. Since then, the case's ramifications have spilled over into drug prosecutions, and appeals courts in five circuits have ordered federal prosecutors to prove to a jury the amount of drugs in question. Those rulings still allowed judges to enhance a sentence -- all the way to life -- based on the quantity of drugs proven to a jury.

But the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, went even further. It declared the entire sentence enhancement statute unconstitutional. The effect was to limit drug sentences to the 20-year maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines because no enhancements for large quantities of drugs can be allowed.

The panel listened to heated arguments from prosecutors and federal defenders, and engaged in a spirited discussion on the bench, but given the split among the various circuits, Circuit Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt's wish will probably turn out to be true. "Maybe the Supreme Court can decide this," he said.

4. Terror Crackdown on Border Puts Kibosh on Smuggling -- For Now

According to US and Mexican law enforcement authorities, the security crackdown on US borders in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington has brought drug smuggling to a screeching halt. Sources close to the marijuana trade on both borders confirmed to DRCNet that the cross-border business has virtually dried up -- at least for now.

With National Guard troops joining hundreds of additional Customs agents on both borders, almost every passenger and commercial vehicle entering the country is being searched, Customs spokesman Dean Boyd told the Dallas News. On a normal day, he said, Customs officials in San Diego and El Paso capture about 20 shipments in vehicles, but since the attack that number has dwindled to one or two a day.

"Traffickers watch us very closely, so they know we are on a very tough security footing," Boyd said. "If I were a smuggler, I would not want to be trying to send anything illegal across the border right now."

Anecdotal evidence support's Boyd's contention. "My Canadian guys are scared to cross," a mid-level East Coast marijuana dealer told DRCNet. "They're lined up at the border, just waiting for things to cool down."

It appears the same on the US-Mexico border. "It's been real hard to get, it's fucking tight down here right now," a well-informed source in San Antonio told DRCNet. "It had already tightened up in the last year or so after Clinton hired all those Customs and Border Patrol agents, but now it's real bad," he added. "After they flew those planes into those buildings, they had Laredo virtually closed down for awhile, and now it seems like nothing's moving. But it'll happen again... sooner or later. It's too well-organized and there's too much at stake to stop it forever."

Boyd agreed, citing economic pressure on the smugglers. "How long they can hold shipments is a good question," he said. "These guys have bills to pay, too. They must be getting anxious."

Mexican officials told the Morning News they had noted a reduction in smuggling activity, particularly in the San Diego-Tijuana area, home of the Arellano Felix organization, which supplies the bulk of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine entering the Western US. "It seems as though the drug dealers don't want to risk seizure of their products with all this extra police activity," said a Mexican federal prosecutor. Mexican officials reported a dramatic reduction in heroin busts at the Tijuana airport as well.

In British Colombia, home to a $4 billion marijuana industry that provides employment to tens of thousands, there is much nervousness. "Rural areas of the province are in a panic," former Grand Forks (BC) mayor Brian Taylor told DRCNet. "This is the time of year when people have money because they sell their crops, but word on the street is nobody's moving anything. The outdoor crop is in -- it was a great year -- but nobody knows where to sell it."

Local prices have dropped in the last two weeks, said Taylor, who operates the Cannabis Research Institute (, which provides a variety of good and services to medical marijuana patients, including complete grow systems. While Taylor attributed part of the drop to the fact that it is harvest time, British Columbia Marijuana Party leader and pot-seed impresario Marc Emery told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation the border squeeze is driving prices down in the province.

The flipside is that the price of BC Bud will increase on the US side, said Emery. He told the CBC that mules are being offered twice as much -- up to $1,000 per pound -- to run the dope across the border in boats, small planes, or on foot. US consumers will foot that bill, he said.

"The thought that there's increased penalties, or that the United States may shoot on sight, or are a bit jumpier and more security conscious, means there's a lot more marijuana backed up here," said Emery.

Taylor points to at least one silver lining. "The good thing is, our small towns out here are swamped with coke and meth this time of year, but this year our communities are being spared the ravages of hard drugs," he said, alluding to the cross-border bartering of hard drugs for BC Bud. "Here in the rural areas, every year at this time, coke and meth bring down a lot of our young people. The coke and meth come every fall, you can put two and two together." [This also raises the converse issue of whether a scarcity of marijuana could lead to increased use of home-manufactured substances such as methamphetamine in the US.]

The borders have seen previous security crackdowns, most recently in the wake of the arrest of Algerian bomb-carrier Ahmed Ressam crossing into Washington state just before New Years 2000 and after the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico in 1985. But neither of those crackdowns lasted long enough to have a lasting impact on the trade. Whether this one will remains to be seen. Keep an eye on prices.

5. Student Activism Spurs Appalachian State University Chancellor to Join HEA Drug Provision Repeal Cause

Students at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, registered their support for the national campaign to remove the Higher Education Act's (HEA) anti-drug provision, when the Student Government Association (SGA) endorsed the campaign's resolution during the spring semester. The HEA drug provision, which denies financial aid assistance to students convicted of a drug crime, no matter how minor, has been the target of a campaign led by Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( and DRCNet, in coalition with an ever-expanding number of educational, civil rights and other concerned organizations. Now, students at Appalachian have gained the support of Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski, the second college or university head to speak out on the issue.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC), who had voted for the provision and who, as a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee has been targeted by the Coalition for HEA Reform, Borkowski wrote: "I support without reservation our students' support of this legislation. As a lifelong educator, it is my experience that when given the opportunity to excel, the results with students who have past drug convictions has been overwhelmingly positive. The very fact that these students are taking the initiative to do something positive with their futures speaks volumes to their commitment to their education. It is counterproductive to deny education to any student, especially in communities that are already marginalized in today's society."

Borkowski then urged Ballenger to "take the words of these students to heart" and "consider supporting [the students] and the position of Appalachian State University."

The university chancellor did not come to that conclusion unbidden. According to the Appalachian State SGA Beat newspaper, SGA Senator Ian Mance, who was the main proponent of repeal in the student senate last spring, and Dustin Bayard, met with Borkowski to persuade him to support their cause. They were successful.

Mance headed a delegation that was set to meet with Ballenger in Washington on September 17 to hand-deliver the original (a copy had already been sent), but that meeting was cancelled in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "When I made the meeting, I had planned to bring a diverse group of students from Appalachian to meet with Ballenger, including members of the ACLU, SSDP, and the SGA," Mance told SGA Beat. "Now, we are planning to reschedule for the next time he returns to his home office in Hickory," Mance said.

"We believe that with the weight of the chancellor behind us, the SGA vote from last year, and the fact that we are the largest school in his constituency, Ballenger will have a hard time saying no," Mance added.

But Ballenger's office is in war mode and does not see repeal of the provision as a high priority. "Any further requests George W. Bush and his administration has as it moves forward with its war on terrorism will immediately be the focal point for both chambers, if any such requests are made to Congress," Ballenger chief of staff Dan Gurley told SGA Beat. "But that does not preclude any other bills that may come up before that, including the president's education bill, which I feel will be passed by both chambers. [Repeal of Section 484, the anti-drug provision] may be included in a conference committee report, but right now it's pretty far down the list," said Gurley.

Maybe another college president or two from his district could convince Ballenger to move it up the list.

6. Nevada Medical Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect Next Week, But Program Lacks Funds, Simple Possession Reduced to Misdemeanor

Nevada voters overwhelmingly approved the medicinal use of marijuana in two elections in 1998 and 2000, and the state legislature enacted legislation to implement the will of the voters earlier this year. Gov. Kenny Guinn signed the bill. The new law's program goes into effect on October, and people are already lining up to register. There's just one problem: There is no money to pay for it.

The state Department of Agriculture will run the program, which enables sufferers of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, seizures or severe nausea who obtain a doctor's signature to register as officially-recognized medical marijuana patients. Registered patients can possess up to three mature marijuana plants and four immature plants at one time. They can also possess one ounce of harvested marijuana.

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani (D-Las Vegas), who sponsored the enabling legislation, had originally earmarked $30,000 for the first year's program costs -- primarily staff time at the Agriculture Department -- but she told the Las Vegas Review she removed the funds from the bill after it became apparent that legislation using taxpayer funds for the program might not pass.

Gov. Guinn did not include the $30,000 in his annual budget, which incited former gubernatorial candidate Aaron Russo to chide the governor for ignoring the will of the voters and Agriculture Department head Paul Iverson for calling the program an "unfunded mandate."

"This is not an unfunded mandate," he told the Review-Journal in July. "It is a constitutional law. How can you vote for a governor who doesn't listen to the will of the people? The people wanted medical marijuana. It is the law of the land. Guinn, who opposed the medical marijuana initiatives, "is a dinosaur," Russo added. The initiative last year garnered 100,000 votes more than the governor did, he noted. (Russo at the time also vowed to donate the $30,000 himself, but the Hollywood producer has so far not come through.)

In May, when the funding issue arose, Guinn's office said it did not include funding because the governor doubted the legality of a medical marijuana program. "The federal government has tried to restrict medical marijuana programs in every state that tried to start them," Guinn spokesman Jack Finn told the Review-Journal.

Agriculture head Iverson vowed to start the program anyway. "We are going to take care of it with existing staff," Iverson said. "It is no different than any other unfunded mandate. We encourage donations, but we are going to make it work with what we have." The department had collected $3,000 in donations, he said.

Cecile Crofoot, the Ag Department's medical marijuana program manager, told the Review-Journal she had sent out 24 application forms as of September 24 and she had fielded about a hundred additional inquiries from possible applicants. She said the process of applying and becoming registered as a medical marijuana user would take "several weeks." Once prospective participants receive their applications, they must then be fingerprinted to ensure that they have not been convicted of a drug distribution felony. Under the new law, persons with such convictions cannot participate in the program. Once the application has been approved, Crofoot will notify the applicants and they must go to a local Department of Motor Vehicles office to obtain a $9 license allowing them to legally possess marijuana for medical purposes.

People who wish to apply for the program can contact Crofoot at (775) 684-5333, she added.

Nevada will become the ninth state to enact legal protections for medical marijuana users. (Voters in the District of Colombia also have, but Congress blocked the city from implementing them.)

Also on October 1, Nevada ends its lonely run as the only state in the nation to make it a felony to possess even small amounts of marijuana. Again led by Assemblywoman Giunchigliana, the legislature agreed to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a misdemeanor carrying a $600 fine, with escalating fines for subsequent offenses. A fourth possession offense, however, will be treated as a felony.

In recent years, even under the felony possession statute, few smokers went to prison; most instead faced fines in the hundreds of dollars. But now the specter of the prison gate moves even further into the distance for Nevada tokers.

7. While Reformers Brood, Politicos Make Drug-Terror Connection

While the drug reform movement debates the seemliness of pointing out the connection between drug prohibition and the funding of the Osama bin Laden network, hardliners and drug warriors in Washington and elsewhere are showing no such scruples. Even before the dust had settled around the site of the World Trade Center, US and foreign political figures were attempting to make political hay out of the drugs-terror link.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee with presidential aspirations, was quick off the mark, telling the Associated Press last week that bid Laden's Al-Qaeda network had profited handsomely from the drug trade. He did not present any evidence to buttress his claim. Then, seemingly possessed by the ghost of Harry Anslinger, who in the 1950s warned that heroin was a devious plot designed by the Red Chinese to weaken the nation's moral fabric, Kerry added that Islamic fundamentalists have as an additional goal to "get as many people in the West drugged out and screwed up as they can. That's part of their revenge on the world," he explained.

Kerry was not alone in jumping on the "drugs fund terrorism" bandwagon. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) last week called a press conference to announce the reinvigoration of the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug Free America in order to combat drug trafficking, which Hastert linked to terrorism.

"By going after the drug trade, we reduce the ability of these terrorists to launch attacks against the United States and other democracies," said Hastert. "The illegal drug trade is the financial engine that fuels many terrorist organizations around the world, including Osama bin Laden."

Among Hastert's cohorts on the task force are such drug policy hardliners as Reps. John Mica (R-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Mark Souder (R-IN). Also reappointed to the task force was Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the Jekyll-and-Hyde congressman from suburban Atlanta who is an ardent foe of government intervention into citizens' lives -- except when it comes to drugs. Barr came very close to blaming American drug consumers for the attacks in his comments at the news conference.

"As our nation enters into sustained conflict with terrorist organizations, and those states, such as Afghanistan, which harbor them, all Americans have a responsibility to do what they can to support this effort," said Barr. "One way to not only strike a blow against terrorism, but to promote security at home, is to strongly oppose the use and proliferation of mind-altering drugs. The statistics from America's Drug Enforcement Administration are clear," Barr claimed, "terrorist organizations abroad are supported in large part by the sale of illegal substances on the streets of America."

[That is a sweeping generalizations. As DRCNet noted last week (, Middle Eastern terrorist organizations derive an estimated 25-30% of their funds from the drug trade. That percentage may be even lower for Al-Qaeda, which benefits from bin Laden's personal fortune and the network of businesses he has established. Other sources of funding for such groups include remittances from expatriates working in wealthy countries, donations from charities, and other criminal activities, including counterfeiting and gunrunning. The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), for example, derived some income from the heroin trade, according to the Geopolitical Drug Dispatch, but also got generous remittances from the Albanian diaspora and from strong-arm "taxation" of Albanian businesses. Paramilitary formations on both sides of the Northern Ireland dispute have dabbling in drug retailing as a source of funds, but according to the Government Accounting Office, there is little evidence of substantial drug involvement by either the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Some conflicts, however, are clearly driven by illicit drug profits, with Colombia being a case in point. There, both the leftist FARC guerrillas and the rightist paramilitaries tax the coca/cocaine trade. In widely published comments, Carlos Castano, until recently head of the paramilitaries, admitted that drug money constituted 70% of his group's finances. Lebanese groups, such as Hezbollah, on the other hand, could not have profited from the Lebanese hash trade in recent years because the crop had been successfully suppressed until this year.]

Bob Weiner, former spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the drug czar's office) has also jumped on the attacks to push his drug war agenda. Only days before the attacks, Weiner had been full of critical questions for drug czar nominee John Walters, but he then reversed himself, calling for Walters' quick confirmation as part of the broader "war on terrorism."

"The drug czar can make an enormous contribution to the current war against terrorism by emphasizing terrorism's link to drug trafficking," wrote the hyperactive Weiner in a self-generated press release.

This week, in a letter to the Washington Post, Weiner strove to hammer home the drug-terror connection. "We could stop a huge portion of the funding for terrorism if we went after the money of the drug traffickers," wrote Weiner. "The attorney general, the secretary of state, and the new drug czar should devote resources to find and block the funding base of the drug traffickers in key terrorist states such as Afghanistan and Colombia."

Such arguments have not been limited to politicians from the US. Russian leaders, for example, have been quick to apply the terrorist label against the Moslem rebels in Chechnya, and to link them to both bin Laden and the Afghan opium trade.

Colombian nationals have also been quick to pick up on the potential. According to Colombian political analyst Carlos Franco, quoted in the Associated Press last week, US assistance in the Colombian government's civil war against the FARC "will be even easier to obtain now that Colombia can argue that it needs the assistance in the name of fighting terrorism." Colombian National Police General Tobias Duran was also quick to begin making that case. "There's no doubt the FARC has connections to other terrorist groups," he told the AP.

[The Colombian government's mouthpieces, however, are less quick to denounce political violence by the government's allies, particularly the right-wing paramilitary groups, who receive quiet support from the military. Such organizations, who field the notorious "death squads," also commit atrocities, in fact the clear majority of them according to all credible sources. Classifying one side as terrorists, while implicitly condoning the violence of the other sides by silence, makes it easier to bolster support for controversial efforts such as Plan Colombia that are expected to escalate the ferocity of the nation's decades-long civil war. Colombia's conflict may be a case where terms such as "human rights violations" or "war crimes" are more accurate descriptors even for heinous acts of political violence: In an intractable conflict such as Colombia's, where all sides are guilty and neither can be shut down, violence can only effectively be stemmed through negotiations for peace.]

The drug-terror link is now being exploited by politicians around the globe, eager to advance their drug war or counterinsurgency agendas. Hence, whether the drug reform movement should jump into this debate or not, is a question that may be answered by the drug warriors themselves. In the face of such an onslaught, drug reform advocates may have no choice but to start talking about how prohibition fuels the huge illicit profits that in turn fuel political violence.

8. Bolivia Forced Eradication Provoking Civil Instability, Indiscriminate Violence by Government Security Forces

(The following information was distributed by the Andean Information Network on September 27.)

In response to the failure of alternative development to provide subsistence for the approximately 35,000 coca growing families affected by forced eradication in the Chapare region and the government's failure to completely comply with agreements signed in October, Chapare coca growers have again begun to resist US-funded eradication efforts:

  • The first week of August, in El Dorado Ibuelo, over 300 coca growers blocked the road to impede eradication by the Expeditionary Task Force, a new force of over 500 hired eradicators without adequate training. Mediation by representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office avoided the use of violence, and the forces retreated.
  • On September 13, 300-500 coca growers in Vueltadero in the Carrasco Federation attempted to impede eradication by members of the Joint Task Force. Military and police eventually retreated.
Tensions in the region continued to increase throughout September. Coca growers began to surround eradication camps throughout the region, provoking indiscriminate use of force (including tear gas, rubber pellets and bullets) by security forces:
  • In San Miguel, Carrasco Federation, on September 25 a member of the Joint Task Force shot Felix Marin Villarroel (15 years old) in the left calf above the ankle. The medical report by the forensic specialist of the Ministry of Justice confirms that the bullet wound fractured his tibia. Marin is currently receiving medical attention in Santa Cruz.
  • On September 27, members of the Joint Task Force fired live ammunition at a group of journalists entering Loma Alta, in the Carrasco Federation, where coca growers had surrounded an eradication camp. Forces shot Ramon Perez (42 years old), a campesino working as a guide for the journalists. The bullet passed through his left hand and into his pelvis and abdomen. Perez died while security forces transported him to the UMOPAR clinic in Chimore. At this time, security forces are reinforcing troops in Isinuta (Isiboro Secure Park), one of the largest military camps in the Chapare. Government forces claim that coca growers have surrounded five of the eight military camps.
Joint Task Force commanders frequently denounce harassment by coca growers, including gunshots, booby traps and verbal aggression. In early September, two soldiers received gunshot wounds from unidentified shooters. Last weekend, Joint Task Force commanders denounced to the press that coca growers had kidnapped two of its members for four hours. The five campesinos initially detained were later released for lack of evidence.

Evo Morales, leader of the six Chapare coca grower's federations, has announced that coca growers will initiate road blockades on October 1. Campesinos in Mizque, Totora and Aiquile, plan to simultaneously block roads in that valley region. These actions could effectively block highways between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba as well as the road between Sucre and Cochabamba.

Meanwhile, an announcement last December by the Bolivian government that it had completely eradicated all the coca in the Chapare region turned out to be premature. A month later, the government admitted that as a result of a satellite error, an additional 600 hectares had been missed.

On September 9, 2001 the Bolivian officials stated to the press that over 6,626 hectares in the Chapare and 14 hectares in the La Paz Yungas have been eradicated so far this year. Faced with exacerbated extreme poverty as a result of accelerated forced eradication, Chapare campesinos continue to plant coca in an attempt to cover their basic subsistence needs.

The Andean Information Network urges that the international community:

  • Insist that Bolivian security forces strictly adhere to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials and the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
  • Pressure the Bolivian Government to guarantee the freedom of the press and the safety of human rights monitors and allow them to work without impediments or harassment.
  • Insist that Bolivian security officers and legal representatives carry out all investigations within the established legal framework, respecting due process and international human rights treaties.
  • Insist that security officers who violate these norms face appropriate legal consequences in the civilian court system, instead of internal disciplinary action or trial in military tribunals.
  • Insist that the US government withhold funding for any US-funded unit of the security forces (such as the Joint Task Force) that commit gross human rights violations when there is no evidence that sufficient steps are being taken to bring the individuals responsible to justice (as stipulated by the Leahy Amendment).
  • Urge all parties involved to seek a peaceful resolution to the present conflict through dialogue.
For further information, contact the Andean Information Network at [email protected], visit or write to Casilla 4817, Cochabamba, Bolivia.

9. Philly Anti-Poverty Group Does "Drug War Reality Tour," More Planned

The coca fields of Colombia are a long way from Philadelphia's gritty Kensington neighborhood, but a local anti-poverty group is making the connections with an innovative and interesting new tactic. On September 17, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union ( inaugurated its "Drug War Reality Tour," taking some 30 participants through the heroin corners, pawnshops and prostitution corridors of Kensington, and then on to hospitals with detox centers and methadone. Sounds like your typical drug war horror show so far, but here's where it gets interesting: The next stops on the tour were not the jail and the graveyard, but the airport, the Philadelphia docks and the I-95 corridor, where drugs pour into the city, and the chemical plants of Kensington, where multinational corporations produce the potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride used in turning coca and opium plants into the powders that plague the community.

"We're trying to relate the micro and the macro," KWRU tour guide Arun Prabhakaran told DRCNet. "There are huge forces aligned around drugs, and we are trying to show how these affect people here in Philadelphia in their daily lives."

The KWRU was formed a decade ago by five welfare mothers and has since garnered national attention and a substantial following in Philadelphia for its innovative organizing. It has a clear political agenda: "We are trying to enforce a political platform designed around human rights rather than the interests of corporations or the political objectives of Democrats or Republicans," explained Prabhakaran. "We are part of the Just Health Care campaign and an affiliate of the Labor Party. We want to build a party that says health care is a human right. We have taken an express position that the right to recovery and treatment on demand are part of the greater issue of universal health care," he said.

The group organizes around basic human needs -- food, housing, health care, jobs at a living wage, etc. -- said Prabhakaran, and has gained political traction doing so. "We're a group of poor and homeless families and their allies who are trying to create a movement led by the poor to end poverty. We've managed to house over 500 families," he said, "and we've been able to fight on an equal footing with local officials that few groups have been able to achieve."

Along with tour guides Guillermo Santos, Galen Tyler, and KWRU director Cheri Honkala, Prabhakaran brought home the links between drug war in the Third World and drug war on the streets of Philadelphia to a varied group of participants, including PhD social workers, journalists, artists, community members, and Drug Policy Forum of Pennsylvania director Diane Fornbacher. "People who live here are survivors of the war on drugs and the war against the poor," said Prabhakaran. "We are trying to expose the connections, the interests, that corporations and the US government have in the drug war. Our tour attempts to provide a full picture of the reality of the drug war. And we relate it to using money for more effective ways of dealing with the problem, the demand side, and building a movement designed to end poverty not only in the US, but around the world," he told DRCNet.

"One of the major issues here in Kensington is drugs. Not just drug use, but poor people having to resort to selling drugs or growing drugs as a matter of survival. The drug economy must be seen in the context of other economic factors," such as the de-industrialization of the Northeast, said Prabhakaran. "We feel like poor communities are dramatically effected by the drug war. The drugs go in, then the police arrest people and incarcerate them at unbelievable rates in poor communities. This is not a race thing, this is a class issue, poor people are under attack."

Interest in the tours is high, said Prabhakaran, and the KWRU has another planned for November 8. Also, a theatrical production addressing the same themes as the tour, "Corner Wars," will be presented at Temple University on December 14 and 15. Contact the KWRU for further information, or check the calendar in future issues of the Week Online.

10. Hemp Industry Advocates Launch "TestPledge" Program

Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and various leading manufacturers of shelled hempseed and oil products in North America have joined to initiate the TestPledge program. TestPledge lays out standards for quality control measures based on rigorous scientific studies, designed to limit the amount of trace residual THC in shelled hempseed and oil. TestPledge was created to address the concerns of consumers and others over the possibility that food or body care products made with hemp could cause false positives in drug tests for marijuana (THC).

TestPledge operates through an honor system, in which companies pledge to uphold the program's standards. Twenty such companies have already signed on.

Visit for further information on the program and a list of participating companies and their products.

11. Marijuana Prohibition Not Strong Deterrent, Study Says -- Personal Preference and Health Concerns Primary Reasons for Abstention

(courtesy NORML Foundation,

Sydney, Australia: Criminal laws prohibiting the possession and consumption of marijuana do little to deter its use and may be cost prohibitive, according to the results of a study published by the New South Wales (NSW) Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The study found that nearly half of all males and 35 percent of females in New South Wales have used marijuana at some point in their lives, despite the fact that any use of marijuana is punishable by up to two years in jail. More than one in five males had used marijuana in the past year, researchers said.

Among former cannabis users, investigators found that the majority stopped using the drug because they no longer "like it." Twenty-five percent said they did so because of health concerns. Fewer than one in five said they gave up the drug because it's illegal, and only one percent said that prohibition made cannabis "difficult to get a hold of."

Among those who had never used marijuana, 47 percent said they abstained because they "didn't think [they] would like it." Health concerns were the second most common reason given; the fact that marijuana is illegal was cited third. Only ten percent of respondents cited "getting caught by the police" as a reason for avoiding the drug.

"Prohibition is not the dominant consideration in individual decisions to use or desist from using the drug," investigators concluded. "Health considerations and anticipated and actual dislike of the drug are more important factors in preventing or stopping use." They added: "Fear of being imprisoned, the cost of cannabis or the difficulty in obtaining cannabis [also] do not appear to exert a strong influence on decisions about cannabis consumption... Those factors may limit cannabis use among frequent cannabis users but there is no evidence, as yet, to support this conjecture. [However,] prohibition [does] impose indirect costs upon the State and affected individuals when, as a result of their conviction, cannabis users suffer unemployment or reduced earning prospects. [Those] who are imprisoned solely for cannabis use or possession may feel a legitimate sense of grievance at the misfortune that has befallen them in comparison with other cannabis users, the vast majority of whom will never be reported to police... or imprisoned."

The researchers' findings are consistent with those of other studies concluding that marijuana decriminalization has no significant impact on marijuana use. In a US government comparative study, researchers found that marijuana use was no more prevalent in states that had eliminated criminal penalties for marijuana possession than in those neighboring jurisdictions that maintained them. Recently, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry concluded, "The available evidence suggests that... removal of prohibitions on cannabis possession (decriminalization) will not increase the prevalence of marijuana or any other illicit substance."

(Visit to find the NSW study online.)

12. From the Archives: Better Uses for Law Enforcement Personnel

(The following remarks were made by Arnold Trebach, then-president of the Drug Policy Foundation, to a criminology conference in Jerusalem in 1996.)

What is not generally recognized is that the skills and personnel most successful in enforcing prohibition are also the most effective in curbing terrorism.

The greatest successes of the American Drug Enforcement Administration have come from good intelligence, long-range planning and prediction, and undercover work. These are the same skills that other agents have used to penetrate terror networks.

It goes without saying that society is at greater risk from bombs than drugs.

All of us would be infinitely safer if the courageous efforts of anti-drug agents in the US, Israel and other countries were focused on terrorists aimed at blowing up airliners and skyscrapers than at drug traffickers seeking to sell the passengers and office dwellers cocaine and marijuana.

13. Action Alerts: Ecstasy Bill, HEA, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, John Walters

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

Oppose New Anti-Ecstasy Bill

Oppose Drug Czar Nominee John Walters

Repeal the Higher Education Act Drug Provision

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences

Support Medical Marijuana

14. Job Opportunity: Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, DC

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a small, educational nonprofit in Washington, DC, is hiring a Communications and Operations Manager. Job responsibilities include research, writing, editing, media outreach and office management. Strong writing, communication, media and administration skills and experience necessary. See for further information.

15. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 for info.

September 28, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, "Open the Can" Drug War Vigil. At the New Bernalillo Courthouse, 400 Lomas NW. For fuhrther information, call (505) 342-8090.

September 29, noon, London, England, Cannabis Peace March & Rally, marking 73rd anniversary of cannabis prohibition in the United Kingdom. At Speakers Corner, Hyde Park (Marble Arch Tube), leaves 2:00pm via Park Lane & Piccadilly to for rally at Trafalgar with speakers. For further info, call 0207 637 7467, visit or e-mail [email protected].

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 2, 6:00-7:00pm, El Paso, Texas, November Coalition Public Meeting. At Doc's Bar-B-Que, 9530 Viscount, call (915) 204-2844 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

October 3, 7:00-10:00pm, Washington, DC, Hemp Car Homecoming Benefit. At the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW, (202) 588-9118, admission $5.

October 5, 8:30am, Tulsa, OK, forum with Ethan Nadelmann. At the University of Tulsa College of Law, breakfast at 8:15 in the Midcourt Room. For info, call Sue Lorenz at (918) 631-5622 or (918) 631-2431.

October 5, 8:00pm, Tulsa, OK, presentation by Ethan Nadelmann, as part of Shabbat evening services. At Temple Israel, 2004 East 22nd Place. For further information, contact Jeanne Jacobs at (918) 747-1309.

October 6, 8:00 pm, Iowa City, IA, "The Law's Treatment of the Disadvantaged: The Politics of the American Drug War." At the University of Iowa College of Law, call (319) 335-9093 or e-mail [email protected] for further information or to reserve a space.

October 6-7, Phoenix, AZ, "Freedom Summit," annual libertarian seminar. At the Embassy Suites Hotel, visit for further information.

October 7-10, St. Louis, MO, American Methadone Treatment Association Conference 2001. For further information, e-mail [email protected] 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.

October 24, 7:00-8:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, November Coalition Wednesday Community Meeting. At the Peace and Justice Center, 144 Harvard SE. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.

October 26, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, "There's Something Fishy About The War on Drugs." At the New Bernalillo Courthouse, 400 Lomas NW. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.

September 28, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Never Stop Dancing: Harm Reduction in Gay Clubs and Parties," forum addressing the cultural significance of the gay club/party subculture, the changing landscape of drug use, emerging health challenges associated with the party scene, and an overview of new interventions to increase safety. Presented by The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation and the Electric Dreams Foundation, at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street and Geary. Visit for further information.

November 10-11, Washington, DC, Students for Sensible Drug Policy 3rd Annual Conference, at The George Washington University. Call (202) 293-4414, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

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 or call Enric Granados at 00 34 93 415 25 99.

February 28-March 1, 2002, New York, NY, "Problem Solving Courts: From Adversarial Litigation to Innovative Jurisprudence." Panelists include former Attorney General Janet Reno, Rev. Al Sharpton and Mary Barr, Exec. Dir. Conextions. At Fordham University Law School, take the A, B, C, D, 1, and 9 subway trains to 59th Street/Columbus Circle and walk one block west. For further information, call (656) 345-5352 or e-mail [email protected].

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 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 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 or call (212) 213-6376.

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