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

Issue #207, 10/19/01

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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STUDENTS: HEA campaign update at http://www.raiseyourvoice.com -- SSDP conference info (November 10-11) at http://www.ssdp.org

Visit http://www.drcnet.org/espanol/ for translated excerpts and subscription to our Spanish-language list, DRC-ESPANOL. Tell your Spanish-speaking friends!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. HEA Campaign Update and SSDP Conference
  2. Drug Warriors Eye Colombia's FARC as Possible Target in War on Terror
  3. Colorado Poll Finds War on Drugs Ineffective, Voters See Drugs as Health, Not Police Problem
  4. San Diego Needle Exchange Program Inches Closer to Reality -- Close City Council Vote Looming
  5. Bolivia: Violence Continues, Mediation Commission Formed
  6. Another Court Rejects Cincinnati "Drug Zones" as Unconstitutional
  7. Newsbrief: Senate Committee Votes to Lift DC Needle Exchange Funding Ban
  8. Newsbrief: British Researchers Discover Kids Like to Party
  9. Drug Testing Should Focus on Chronic, Not Casual Drug Users, Study Says
  10. Newsbrief: Sales of Anti-Depressants Surge in New York and Washington
  11. Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  12. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. HEA Campaign Update and SSDP Conference

The campaign to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act, a law delaying or denying federal financial aid eligibility to tens of thousands of students each year because of drug convictions, continues into the 2001-2002 school year, a year in which we hope to win and get this law repealed once and for all.

The HEA campaign has seen its first successes of the school year already. Four new student government endorsements of our HEA reform resolution have been passed: Union College in New York state, New College in Florida, North Carolina State University and Washington University in St. Louis. And on Capitol Hill, H.R. 786, Rep. Barney Frank's bill to repeal the provision, garnered its latest cosponsor on September 28th, Rep. Brian Baird of Washington state. H.R. 786 now has 55 cosponsors.

In other recent news, student activism at Appalachian State University in North Carolina has spurred the school's chancellor to join the drug provision repeal cause (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/204.html#asuchancellor), and recently-appointed DEA chief Asa Hutchinson has again expressed his agreement that the provision should go (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/203.html#johnsonhutchinson).

Please take the following actions if they apply to you and you haven't already:

  1. Visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to sign our online petition and send a message to Congress in support of H.R. 786, a bill to repeal the HEA drug provision. (If you have sent this already since our last announcement, there is no current need to send it again.) Participating in this action will let us know who your US Representative is, so we can contact you if we need especial help in your district.
  2. If you are a student, or have connections to a college or university, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to download an activist packet (newly-updated as of this morning), and read the substantially expanded contents of the site (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/students.html), designed to help you in gaining the support of your student government and school administration for this campaign. Please do this even if you have the previous version of the packet (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/download.html).
  3. Visit Students for Sensible Drug Policy at http://www.ssdp.org for information on next month's conference.
  4. Forward this alert to your friends, or visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com and use the tell-a-friend form.
  5. Please consider making a donation, large or small, toward the costs of this campaign. Though our funding situation for 2002 is very promising, we have had a severe shortfall of the non-tax-deductible lobbying funds that we need for the HEA campaign during the second half of 2001. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to help, or mail your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.
Again, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign, or just to learn more about it.


2. Drug Warriors Eye Colombia's FARC as Possible Target in War on Terror

The September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center are being used by congressional hard-liners to promote a more aggressive policy toward Colombia's leftist guerrillas, the FARC. The organization was already on the State Department's global list of 29 "terrorist" groups (just last month, the State Department added the AUC, the rightist paramilitary death squads allied with the Colombian government, to that list), but in the post-September 11 atmosphere, the terrorist designation is taking on considerably more heft.

Although there is no evidence that the FARC, which has been engaged in a civil war with the Colombian state since 1964, is linked to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, the guerrilla army earned the terrorist designation for repeatedly attacking US-owned oil installations in Colombia and for killing three American indigenous rights activists in 1999. The FARC has been widely criticized for human rights abuses in its guerrilla war, including most recently the murder of popular former Culture Minister Claudia Araujo.

The guerrilla group has also been in the hardliners' sights since three members of the Irish Republican Army were arrested by the Colombian government after traveling to the FARC's Switzerland-sized safe haven. After the August 11 arrests, US and Colombian government sources accused the FARC of inviting the IRA men to provide it with training in urban terrorism. The IRA men remain in jail in Colombia.

"Members of Congress at a senior level are making the link between drugs and terrorism," an unnamed Republican Senate staffer told the Baltimore Sun on Sunday. "As we focus our policy on Colombia, that is going to become a very important part of our debate."

But wielding the terrorism card to advance anti-drug agendas is a bipartisan exercise. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) jumped on the terror connection in an op-ed in the Augusta Chronicle over the weekend. "One of the biggest bastions of terrorism is not a world away, but right under our nose," wrote Miller. "A two-hour flight south from Miami will land you in Colombia, the most dangerous and terroristic country in the world."

Miller noted recent signs of political and economic stress in the region, but rather than focus on structural causes, he suggested that "what should concern us most is that this region is home to well-established, well-financed criminal networks. A third of the world's identified terrorist groups have operations in Latin America," he wrote. "While all eyes are now on the Middle East, the forces of evil to our south are scheming and stretching their reach around the globe."

Stretching even further, the former Georgia governor turned Latin America expert next attempted to falsely link the FARC with the Al Qaeda network. "While Osama bin Laden is hiding in a cave in far-away Afghanistan, his lesser-known lieutenants are a two-hour flight away from Miami. Soon, this snake is going to bite us," Miller warned.

Carrying the snake imagery a little further, the FARC has in essence responded to post-September 11 attacks on it with "don't tread on me." In a late September communique, the FARC accused the US of using the attacks to justify a "witch hunt" against revolutionary movements around the world and interfering in Colombia's internal affairs with its hundreds of soldiers and mercenaries. The FARC also questioned Washington's right to decide "who are the terrorists and who are not."

One area where the new, more aggressive US attitude could manifest itself is President Pastrana's long-delayed decision on whether to extend the FARC's safe haven, an area in south-central Colombia from which the military has been barred for the past three years. US officials had been taking aim at the safe haven even before September 11.

Now, said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue, US attention on Colombia will probably decrease. "But to the extent US officials focus on Colombia, they are going to be less tolerant, less willing to accept that this is part of a peace strategy to give a group they call terrorists control over a vast amount of territory," he told the Associated Press.

The FARC has said that if the safe haven is ended, the slow-moving peace process is dead.

In the meantime, the war continues. A wave of killings by right-wing paramilitaries of the AUC left 49 dead, with the worst massacre taking place in the town of Buga, an agricultural village 160 miles southwest of Bogota. Local authorities have found the bodies of 24 village men killed by the paramilitaries. Another six are missing and feared dead.

"They took the people out of two buses and from their homes," Buga Mayor John Jairo Bohorquez told Caracol radio. "They separated the women, old people and children, and then killed the men."

Paramilitaries also killed six fishermen, four soldiers, two congressmen and a union leader in recent days, according to the Associated Press.

The Colombian military has also been busy lately. It reported killing dozens of FARC guerrillas in Putumayo and Cundinamarca provinces since late September in battles for control over the country's lucrative coca fields.


3. Colorado Poll Finds War on Drugs Ineffective, Voters See Drugs as Health, Not Police Problem

A poll conducted in late July and released over the weekend found that Colorado residents are ready for a new drug policy based on a public health rather than a law enforcement approach. The poll, conducted by Ridder/Braden Inc. and commissioned by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, found that 83% of respondents believe the war on drugs has been ineffective, 86% think providing treatment and education to people with drug problems would reduce drug use, 80% think treatment and education would reduce drug-related crime, 73% think simple drug possession should be reduced from a felony to misdemeanor, and 59% view addiction as primarily a health problem, not a legal one.

"This comes as no surprise," said Christie Donner of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. "It's in line with other recent voter polls from around the nation, and it is very similar to what I hear when I'm out talking to people," she told DRCNet. "The only thing that really surprised me was the extent of the agreement that the war on drugs is a failure. It crossed all demographic boundaries."

The poll, funded by a grant from The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, could help lay the groundwork for new legislation or, if the legislature proves recalcitrant, an initiative similar to California's "treatment not jail" Proposition 36, which is now diverting thousands of Golden State drug offenders from prison into drug treatment.

"We'll use this polling data to show Colorado elected officials that the community strongly supports drug reform and treatment instead of jail," said Donner. "We hope we can convince the representatives that treatment is a good investment in our community."

One well-placed source told DRCNet Colorado could be in the sights for an initiative funded by the drug reform juggernaut that won victories last year in California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. Donner said, however, that reform proponents would first attempt to work with the legislature.

"The Peace and Justice Center has run legislative campaigns on criminal justice and drug policy for the last three years," said Donner. "Last year, we supported a bill to repeal mandatory minimums and to exclude drug crimes from the habitual offender statute. We are part of an interim legislative committee looking at sentencing reform, looking at reducing sentences for simple possession, and looking at earmarking the money saved for drug treatment," she added.

"We'll see what ends up being proposed by the interim committee," Donner said. "If there is significant legislation, we will back it, but if it doesn't go far enough, we will consider the initiative process. We've been looking at funding our own initiative, but we certainly aren't averse to more money."

Donner told DRCNet that the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's efforts are part of a larger campaign called the Colorado Prison Moratorium Coalition, a grouping of 85 churches and organizations which wants to stop new prison construction in the state and encourage alternatives to incarceration. The number of people imprisoned in Colorado has more than quintupled since 1985, from 3,000 then to 16,000 in January of this year. Drug offenders are the largest and fastest growing group of Colorado prisoners, constituting one-third of all women prisoners and one-fifth of all male prisoners.

(Visit the Colorado Prison Moratorium web site at http://www.prison-moratorium.org to view the survey results. Visit the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at http://www.rmpjc.org online.


4. San Diego Needle Exchange Program Inches Closer to Reality -- Close City Council Vote Looming

A one-year, privately-funded pilot program to provide clean needles to San Diego intravenous drug users won narrow approval in a City Council committee vote on October 10, but with a key city council member wavering, approval by the full council remains an open question.

The council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Committee voted 3-2 to okay the program, which was recommended by the city's Clean Syringe Exchange Program Task Force to slow the spread of Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and other blood-borne diseases. The council appointed the task force, whose members included doctors, other health workers, and city officials, including a police captain, appointed the task force last year.

The task force report, issued in June, found that between 1998 and 1999 there was a 50% increase in the number of reported Hepatitis C cases countywide and in the city of San Diego, and that injection drug use probably accounted for 60% of all new cases. With HIV/AIDS, the report found that San Diego had the third highest rate of incidence in the state (behind only San Francisco and Los Angeles), and that injection drug use accounted for 25% of new cases.

"Conclusive, science-based evidence demonstrates that comprehensive harm reduction programs which include clean syringe exchange are effective in reducing the transmission of infectious viral agents without increasing the prevalence of substance abuse or crime," concluded the task force. "Therefore, the Clean Syringe Exchange Task Force recommends that the San Diego City Council declare a state of local emergency and authorize the implementation of a privately-funded comprehensive harm reduction pilot program, which includes clean syringe exchange."

Under a law signed by Governor Gray Davis (D) in 1999, in cities or counties that declare a state of local emergency to deal with health crises, needle exchange programs may take place without fear of criminal prosecution if authorized by local authorities.

"The science is all done now in San Diego," said Ian Trowbridge, a cancer biologist recently retired from the Salk institute, who served on the task force. "Now it's just politics."

On the other side are the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which rejected a countywide state of emergency, San Diego Police Chief David Bajarano, District Attorney Paul Pfingst, the city's largest newspaper, and at least four members of the nine-member City Council. The San Diego Union-Tribune summarized opponents' arguments in an Oct. 12 editorial snappily titled "Just Say No."

Allowing a needle exchange program "does not send the urgently needed message that intravenous drug use is a deadly habit," opined the Union-Tribune. Instead, it is based on "the controversial movement known as harm reduction," which, the newspaper explains, "is based on the tragically flawed premise that the use of illegal intravenous drugs should be decriminalized and that government should simply work to make the practice less harmful to addicts." Thus, reasoned the newspaper, needle exchange programs "deliberately abet" drug use.

The City Council voted 5-3 last October to declare a state of emergency and authorize the task force study, but with new members in office after last year's elections, Councilman George Stevens, an African-American opponent of needle exchanges, used parliamentary maneuvers to kill the state of emergency. Now, according to Trowbridge, the council is split 4-4, with Councilman Byron Wear (R-2nd District) the swing vote. "Byron Wear voted for this thing three times, but now he's wavering," Trowbridge told DRCNet.

Wear press spokesman Peter Bryan confirmed as much. "I'll have to get back to you on whether he has decided," Bryan told DRCNet. "He has concerns. There is a perception on the public's part that this is condoning drug use," said Bryan. "Another concern expressed was that this was less an exchange than just handing out needles."

Adrina Kwiatkowski of the Monger Company, the government and public relations consultants for Alliance Healthcare, the needle exchange program funder, is confident that Wear will come through. "Byron was out front on this issue, and I don't see him changing his position," he told DRCNet. "In the last year, we have only solidified the reasons he should support this."

According to Kwiatkowski, the proposal should pass the council. "You can continue letting disease spread and do nothing, or you can try to do something," he said. "The needle exchange program is the best we've got right now. People are beginning to realize that."

Under the proposed pilot project, clean needles would be distributed by a mobile van running a route in the neighborhoods bounded by El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, Park Avenue and Euclid Avenue. The van would also go to the east side of downtown and on to Barrio Logan. These neighborhoods were selected because of their high rates of drug arrests or sexually transmitted diseases.

A City Council vote is looming. "The mayor is on record saying he will move promptly if it comes out of committee," said Trowbridge. "That means probably within six weeks."

In the meantime, the unapproved and technically illegal San Diego Clean Needle Exchange continues to go about its business.


5. Bolivia: Violence Continues, Mediation Commission Formed

(bulletin from the Andean Information Network)

JOINT TASK FORCE MILITARIZES ISARZAMA AND LATER RETREATS

At approximately 7:00am on October 18, ten military transport trucks and nine nine pick-ups of soldiers entered Isarzama, Mamore Federation, where a tear gas canister fired at close range killed coca grower Nilda Escobar on October 16.

The Joint Task Force group of 800 soldiers was heavily armed with automatic weapons. Many wore masks or painted their faces to hide their identities. The forces completely occupied the community as a crowd of angry coca growers prepared for confrontation. Comments to the press by Joint Task Force commander Hernan Caprirolo, that he did not believe that Escobar died as a result of tear gas, although the canister was lodged deep into her forehead, exacerbated the conflict. The combined forces wounded one coca grower and detained three others.

The security forces eventually retreated as a result of intervention and mediation by the representative of the Human Rights' Ombudsman Chapare office, Godofredo Reinicke and Father Sperandio Ravasio, Villa Tunari parish priest.

Human rights monitors confirmed that members of the Expeditionary Task Force, salaried non-military eradication employees with inadequate training, provide security for the Joint Task Force. Use of inexperienced personnel raises the risk of excessive use of force during this extremely tense period.

There were also reports of confrontations in Tres Esquinas and Cinco Esquinas yesterday. AIN is working to confirm this information, as press accounts are often inaccurate.

COCA GROWERS OCCUPY ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

A group of approximately 50 campesinos returning from Nilda Escobar's funeral took control of the offices of CIAPROT, an alternative development project near Entre Rios funded by USAID. Angry coca growers took over the offices, forced employees to flee and burned a motorcycle. Security forces announced their entrance into the region and campesinos eventually left the installation. Coca growers argued that they had received no concrete benefits from a project designed to serve their needs.

US AMBASSADOR'S THREAT TO CUT AID AGGRAVATES CONFLICT

Manuel Rocha, US ambassador, stated on Wednesday, October 17 that if Bolivia does not continue to carry out its anti-drug "Dignity Plan" (which stipulates forced eradication and the elimination of coca in the Chapare), the country will lose a significant amount of US funding. Rocha said, "If a time comes in which this commitment no longer exists, be assured, our aid will be different. The funds are there because of the commitment and without it the aid will diminish." This comments led Bolivian government officials to confirm that eradication efforts in the Chapare would continue, in spite of the social conflict generated.

POLICY PROVOKES POVERTY

Strong US pressure for the Bolivian government to comply with unrealistic and ambitious eradication targets holds strong in spite of violence and social unrest generated by these policies. US-funded and sponsored alternative development projects have failed to generate any viable income for the great majority of the 35,000 families affected by eradication in the region. Many families are forced to replant coca to insure their subsistence.

US emphasis on accelerated forced coca eradication to meet certification goals has greatly exacerbated the extreme poverty in the region. Hunger, intestinal parasites and infant mortality rates in the region have increased. It is important to note that many of the wounded during the present conflict show signs of acute malnutrition. When asked why coca growers have adopted a policy of active resistance to eradication efforts, many people responded that they feel that they have nothing left to lose.

SECURITY OFFICERS EXPRESS CONCERN

In response to Rocha's comments, some officers of the Joint Task Force requested immediate dialogue and mediation by the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, Catholic Church and the Permanent Human Rights Assembly. "The coca issue is a time bomb; if it's not controlled, we will have to lament the loss of many human lives -- coca growers and Joint Task Force," remarked one officer, who asked not to be identified, to El Diario.

HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSPERSON CONVOKES JOINT MEDIATION

Ana Maria Romero de Campero, head of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, met with Catholic Church officials and the Permanent Human Rights Assembly to form a commission in an effort to facilitate joint mediation and conflict resolution in the Chapare. The three institutions expressed their concern for the spiral of violence in the Chapare and urged all parties involved to seek a peaceful solution. Romero de Campero stated that the decision of the Joint Task Force to withdraw troops from Isarzama was a positive sign of a willingness to negotiate.

This facilitating commission, made up of the three organizations, played a key role in dialogue resulting in the October 15, 2000 agreement between the Bolivian government and coca growers. The agreement ended over a month of road blockades and violent repression in the region. It is crucial that the international community support this inter-institutional effort at a time when widespread violence in the Chapare continues to be a very real possibility.

SECURITY FORCES DENOUNCE HARASSMENT

Col. Hernan Caprirolo, Joint Task Force Commander, and Cochabamba Prefect, Jose Orias, denounced to the press that coca growers fired rifles toward air and exploded dynamite around three eradication camps yesterday. They also said coca growers shot at a DIRECO (eradication control agency) pick-up on October 16.

COCA GROWERS MEET TODAY TO DETERMINE NEXT STEP

Members of the six coca growers' federations will meet today (10/19) in Lauca Ene to decide if and when road blockades will begin and whether or not they are willing to participate in further dialogue with government officials. Evo Morales told the press that blockades might begin as soon as tomorrow, October 20.

Federation members maintain their demand for one cato of coca per family, and until now, have rejected the counterproposal for a $930 payment and alternative development assistance for one year.

(For further information, contact the Andean Information Network at [email protected], visit http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/ or write to Casilla 4817, Cochabamba, Bolivia.)


6. Another Court Rejects Cincinnati "Drug Zones" as Unconstitutional

(press release from the ACLU)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio yesterday hailed a second victory against unconstitutional "drug zones" that exclude people from their own neighborhoods.

In a six-to-one decision, the Ohio Supreme Court held on Oct. 17 that Chapter 755 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code violated the right to intrastate travel under the United States Constitution. The Court also declared the law invalid under the Ohio Constitution, because it allowed the city to impose what in effect is a criminal sentence not authorized under state law.

The ACLU, which succeeded in having the same ordinance declared unconstitutional in federal district court in January 2000, hailed the decision as affirming basic American principles.

"The right to travel, the right to associate with friends and neighbors, the right to be free from arbitrary police punishment, all of these are basic American freedoms," said Raymond Vasvari, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio. "The Cincinnati ordinance denied every one of these rights. Today, a second court has joined in condemning that ordinance as unconstitutional."

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice Moyer was sharply critical of the ordinance, noting that "a person subject to the exclusion ordinance may not enter a drug-exclusion zone to speak with counsel, visit family, attend church, receive emergency medical care, go to the grocery store or just stand on a street corner and look at a blue sky."

Under the ordinance, police could order residents arrested on certain drug charges out of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood for up to 90 days based solely on the fact of their arrest. Those actually convicted of drug offences could be banished from the neighborhood for a year.

Significantly, the ACLU argued in legal papers, these "exclusions" were not a part of any court sentence, and in the case of the 90-day exclusions did not even require a court conviction. Rather, they were simply orders to private citizens, imposed at will by the police, without the involvement of a judge.

The ACLU had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the today's Ohio Supreme Court action, a case entitled State v. Burnett.

Visit http://www.aclu.org for further information. Visit http://www.aclu.org/news/2000/n012000c.html for a news release about the US District Court's rejection of the law last January.


7. Newsbrief: Senate Committee Votes to Lift DC Needle Exchange Funding Ban

The Washington Post has reported that the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-13 on Thursday (10/18) to eliminate a provision which bans the District of Columbia government from using local funds to support needle exchange programs (NEPs).

The effort to end the Congressional ban on local NEP funding was led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the subcommittee on the district. The vote was part of the committee's approval of the district's $5.3 billion budget.

Whether the DC NEP funding ban is reversed will depend on its surviving the legislative process in the House and the full Senate.


8. Newsbrief: British Researchers Discover Kids Like to Party

A survey of 2,500 teenagers in Great Britain has found that smoking, drinking, and the occasional use of cannabis are "normal" among teenagers in the British Isles.

The study, conducted in 1999 and released last week by the Alcohol and Health Research Center in Edinburgh, surveyed 2,600 boys and girls attending 223 state and private schools.

A large minority -- 33% of girls and 39.5% of boys -- had tried some illegal drug, most commonly cannabis, the study reported. A whopping 72% of all respondents admitted to having been drunk at some time, while only 6.2% had never touched alcohol.

Although the study's authors grimly concluded that British youth have "a serious problem" with drinking and smoking, they also implicitly recognized how common youthful experimentation with drugs and alcohol is. "These behaviors are firmly established as normative among teenagers across the UK," they noted.


9. Drug Testing Should Focus on Chronic, Not Casual Drug Users, Study Says

(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)

Casual drug use has no significant impact on employment status and therefore should not be the focus of workplace drug testing programs, according to a study published this week in the Southern Economic Journal.

"Non-chronic drug use was not significantly related to employment or labor force participation," researchers at the University of Miami's Health Services Research Center found. "These findings suggest that workplace policies for illicit drug use should consider chronic or problem drug users apart from light or casual users."

Authors did conclude that chronic illicit drug use contributed negatively to workplace performance. They suggested that ideal workplace drug testing procedures should focus chiefly on problem users similar to the way many offices differentiate between casual drinkers and alcoholics. According to the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 70% of illicit drug users age 18 to 49 are employed full time.

The Miami study is one of several calling into question the effectiveness of standard drug testing programs -- primarily urinalysis -- that detect the presence of non-psychoactive drug metabolites (mostly for marijuana), but not impairment.

A 1994 study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, "If an organization's goal is to avoid work decrement (e.g. accidental injuries, performance level) due to impairment, then research should be conducted on the utility of performance tests prior to starting work as an alternative to alcohol and other drug tests." Researchers further added, "Despite beliefs to the contrary, ... [there exists] no evidence from properly controlled studies that employment drug testing programs widely discourage drug use or encourage rehabilitation."

In addition, a 1998 study by the Le Moyne College Institute of Industrial Relations of 63 "high-tech" firms found that pre-employment and random drug screening procedures resulted in a significant loss of worker productivity and appeared to create "a negative work environment" for employees.

Recent drug testing data compiled by Quest Diagnostics indicate that more than 60% of all positive workplace drug tests are for marijuana only. Because urine tests detect a metabolized by-product of marijuana and not the drug itself, marijuana smokers may test positive days or even weeks after using it. By comparison, cocaine -- the second most commonly detected drug - typically will wash out of the system within 48 hours.

Visit http://www.okstate.edu/economics/journal/south1.html to read an abstract of the study online.


10. Newsbrief: Sales of Anti-Depressants Surge in New York and Washington

The September 11 attacks on New York and Washington have fueled a rapid and dramatic increase in sales of anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and sleep aid drugs in those two cities, according to NDC Health. The Atlanta-based health information services provider follows the performance of pharmaceuticals by tracking retail sales.

According to NDC Health's figures, new prescriptions for sleep aid rose 27.5% in New York City, where more than 5,000 people were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Anti-anxiety drug prescriptions were up 25% and anti-depressants up 17% Washington, where 189 people died in the attack on the Pentagon. New prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants are up 13%, while sleep aid prescriptions are up 8%, according to NDC Health. Nationwide, anti-anxiety prescriptions are up 8.6%, anti-depressants up 2.6%, and sleep aids up 7.5%.

Therapists are reporting agitation, sleeplessness, survivor guilt and depression -- and not just among those directly affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Associated Press reported. New York psychiatrist Gail Saltz told the AP her practice had increased by 25% since September 11 and that half of those patients had no direct connection to the attacks. "These people feel they have no control over their lives," she said.

New York Psychiatrist Richard Pearlman told the AP his practice had increased by 50% since the attacks and that he didn't expect it to fall off anytime soon. "This is not a problem that is going away. It's not like we had a tornado and it's over and we can rebuild," he said. "People are worried about more attacks."


11. Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana

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

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

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

Oppose DEA's Illegal Hemp Ban
http://www.votehemp.org

Oppose New Anti-Ecstasy Bill
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/ecstasywar/

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

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


12. The Reformer's Calendar

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

October 22, nationwide, National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality. Visit http://www.october22.org or call (212) 477-8062 for further information.

October 22, 8:30am-4:30pm, Los Angeles, CA, The First West Coast Jewish Federation Addiction Conference. Featuring panels on policy and criminal justice, medical research, addiction and spirituality, prevention and treatment, and other topics. At the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., visit http://www.jewishaddiction.com or call (323) 761-8373 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.

October 26-27, Cortland, NY, "Thinking About Prisons: Theory and Practice." At SUNY Cortland, on I-81 between Binghamton and Syracuse, see http://www.cortland.edu/www/philosophy/prisons.htm

November 8, 9:30am, Philadelphia, PA, "Drug War Reality Tour: The Philadelphia-Plan Colombia Connection." Hosted by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Politics of Recovery Committee. Meeting at 2825 N. 5th St., visit http://www.kwru.org or call (215) 203-1945 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 http://www.ssdp.org 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 http://www.igia.org/clat/ or call Enric Granados at 00 34 93 415 25 99.

December 14 & 15, 8:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Corner Wars," play by Tim Dowlin, hosted by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. At the Tomlinson Theatre, 13th & Norris, Temple University Main Campus. Visit http://www.kwru.org or call (215) 203-1945 for tickets or for further information.

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 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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