(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)
Issue #209, 11/2/01
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 11/2/01
Any crisis carries with it the opportunity for learning, and America's recent straights are no exception. Unresolved, long-term conflicts can blow up and bite us. Violence around the globe threatens us here. It is painful to be the victim or the target. These are all lessons that can, if we so choose, be used to inform our foreign and domestic policies and improve our empathy for the suffering of others.
Early signs are that our government has no intention of applying those lessons to drug policy. While California's bridges stand under possible threat, US DEA agents based there have closed the Los Angeles medical marijuana cooperative, denying 960 patients their access to safe and affordable supplies of medicine and exposing them to illness and harm. So much for empathy for the suffering of others. Or for priorities.
While in the Middle East our government exerts unprecedented pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to stop the fighting and return to the peace negotiations, in Bolivia our government has instead forbidden that government from working out its conflict with the poor coca growers peacefully. The latest outbreak of civil unrest in the Chapare coca-growing region has escalated over the last several weeks, only the latest chapter in a long-running political and economic dispute that has claimed the lives of 30 campesinos and wounded hundreds throughout the last few years. US diplomatic officials directly warned the Bolivian government that aid would be lost if they negotiated with the coca growers, even so much as to honor the government's own legal but violated past agreements. So much for resolving conflicts.
In Colombia, US officials are calling for a "war on terrorism" against organizations engaging in political violence. There's somewhat more of a case there -- Colombia suffers thousands of political murders each year, and our government has at least branded groups from both the left-wing and right-wing political persuasions with the terrorist appellation. Whether Colombia's problems should be thought of as terrorism or civil war or something else entirely is a valid question. There is no question that many different parties have engaged in condemnable acts against innocent people.
Our government has largely failed, however, to acknowledge the extent to which the right-wing paramilitary organizations -- by far the most active killers in Colombia and the ones most closely resembling terrorists in the true sense -- have been tacitly supported by Colombia's armed forces. This may or may not mean that parties in government condone death squad violence, but it certainly means that they have not moved aggressively to stop it. Human rights restrictions placed on US aid to the Colombian military have not been adequate to prevent our tax dollars from subsidizing political violence, and the administration wants to dispense with even those measures. So much for punishing governments that harbor terrorists.
And another lesson not learned. Back in the early 1990s, the previous Bush administration pushed Colombia into an aggressive program of extradition of drug traffickers to the US. These were terrible, violent people who deserved to be punished. But they were very powerful -- particularly the infamous Pablo Escobar -- and they fought back. Escobar's organization carried out assassinations against literally hundreds of government officials -- judges, candidates, you name it -- a campaign of true narco-terrorism that no people should have to ever experience.
If America can require Israel to negotiate with an organization that for decades vowed to bring about the nation's destruction, then we can at a minimum allow Bolivia to negotiate with its own people. And if Israelis and Palestinians can still come back to the negotiating table after all that has happened between them, surely Colombia's peace process has a chance too, and should be supported, not squashed by a drug war imposed from the outside.
Bolivia's government vs. peasant conflict might not ever reach to American soil, but that ominous specter is not so implausible with respect to Colombia, where the fighting and the money behind it are enormous and where the US role is far more apparent. Our leaders, however, seem determined to repeat the mistakes of the recent past. Will we let them?
In the aftermath of their October 25 raid on the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Cooperative (http://www.lacbc.org), a squeaky-clean model co-op distributing medical marijuana to 960 rigorously screened patients in full compliance with state law, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration are openly admitting that they have begun a new offensive against medical marijuana in California. For the feds, emboldened by last May's Supreme Court ruling effectively barring distribution through cooperatives, the move is an attempt to impose federal drug laws on maverick states which allow medical marijuana.
They've said as much in the pages of the New York Times this week. Referring to the LACRC raid, Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden told the Times: "The attorney general and the administration have been very clear. We will be aggressive. The recent enforcement is indicative that we have not lost our priorities in other areas since September 11," she said, adding that the department made no distinction between medical marijuana and other illegal drugs.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokeswoman Rogene Waite was tight-lipped when she spoke to DRCNet. "DEA policy has not changed," she said, "marijuana is illegal -- that has not changed -- and it is our job to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. Waite declined to offer an explanation as to why federal raids were occurring now, for the first time in three years. Nor did the DEA spokeswoman care to say whether the campaign against medical marijuana would spread to the seven other states whose voters have chosen to allow the practice. "The DEA does not discuss its plans," she said. "We are a law enforcement agency. It would not be advisable for us to tip our hand one way or the other."
Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML (http://www.canorml.org), doesn't need a DEA flack to know which way the wind blows. "In my view, this is Armageddon time for medical marijuana in California," Gieringer told DRCNet. "This is clearly just the latest step in an action that will go further than this. We have all sorts of evidence that a crackdown is pending in Northern California as well. We're getting reports of increased surveillance up there."
Nor does Gieringer have to look to the future for evidence of the offensive. Beginning in mid-September, the DEA raided Cool, California, physician and medical marijuana patient Mollie Fry's clinic and home, seizing thousands of patient records and leaving the petite, 60-something cancer survivor handcuffed on the floor of her home for hours. The DEA also hit Lynn and Judy Osburn, long-time Ventura County medical marijuana providers for the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LACRC). On October 4, more than two dozen DEA investigators, assisted by Ventura County sheriff's deputies, uprooted more than 200 plants destined for LACRC patients.
In neither the Fry case nor the Osburn case did federal authorities make any arrests. They acted in a similar fashion in West Hollywood on October 25, swooping down on the LACRC, destroying its garden, seizing its equipment and records, but failing to arrest anyone. But there was one big difference in Los Angeles. Instead of support from local law enforcement officials, the DEA ran into immediate and heated opposition from West Hollywood city officials, as well as demonstrators in the street. More ominously for the feds, local law enforcement officials pointedly refused to cooperate in the raid.
That was some solace to LACRC main man Scott Imler, though not much. "The local sheriff's commander refused to allow the deputies to participate in the raid, and I appreciate that," he said. "But the US Attorney is threatening to prosecute," he told DRCNet. "I hope we're not going to federal prison."
But prison isn't Imler's main concern at the moment. "Our immediate disaster is with our members," he said. "After only five days, people are already getting sick, people are already losing weight. We're not a black market operation, and they took both our gardens in the last month. We don't have any marijuana at this point, and we can't go out and buy it because of cost and safety," he added.
"Why is America wounding its own like this is the midst of everything that's going on? Now we have to worry about Osama bin Hutchinson," he said. "How does the Department of Justice have the resources to go after sick people right now? Even if they don't have a heart, how can they justify spending their time and resources on this?"
That the DEA went after Imler and the LACRC suggests that in the eyes of the feds, no medical marijuana operation can pass muster. Imler has long been identified as a medical marijuana purist loathe to mix medical and recreational use at the co-op or in public discourse, and he has taken extreme pains to work with state and local officials in developing operating protocols, not only for the LACRC but as a model for other locales. Unlike the six co-ops in the Oakland Cannabis Co-op case decided by the Supreme Court, which had all been infiltrated by at least one federal narc, Imler's LACRC prided itself on never being fooled by the feds.
"They've never managed to sneak anyone through," Imler chuckled. "I guess they had to bust us to show that even a good, clean operation isn't safe. We haven't hidden anything from anybody. We even applied for a DEA license in 1998; they came and inspected us. We have excellent relations with local authorities. The Los Angeles county sheriff has called what we do a heroic endeavor," Imler explained. "We wanted to be Boy Scouts, but they still got us."
California NORML's Gieringer agreed. "They couldn't have picked a club that tried harder to operate within the law," he said. "He operated in good faith. He let federal inspectors look around. He gave the government the evidence it needed for the raid," said Gieringer.
"This will be a crucial test case -- if it goes to court," Gieringer continued. "There have been no charges filed yet, and that fits the pattern we've seen so far. They just take down the operation without charging anyone, so they don't have to worry about getting a conviction," he said. "But now, it's getting to the point where if they don't file, they start to look silly. We need a case, we need to win in federal court," he added.
For both Imler and Gieringer the raid marks a new phase of life in post-Proposition 215 California. "This is a new offensive, no doubt about it," said Gieringer, "and people here are really outraged."
"It's time to crank up the political and lobbying efforts again," said Imler. "Our lawyers are working with the city and the sheriff's department on our defense and on possible civil actions. We got complacent as thousands of patients were able to get what they needed, but now we have an awesome legal and political battle ahead of us. But we have been aboveboard and we're not going to go furtively into the shadows now. They won't turn us into drug dealers and criminals. A thousand or so people will suffer because of this raid, and some will die, but we will not go to the black market."
The LACRC and its supporters will be holding a protest at the center at 5:00pm PST, Tuesday, November 5, at the LACRC, 7494 Santa Monica Blvd. The event was originally scheduled as a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the passage of Prop 215. Another rally will be held in San Francisco, at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant St., and will include San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan.
The so-called war on terrorism reached the bowels of the US federal prison system last month, further victimizing a prisoner already victimized by the war on drugs. Lamont Garrison, who, along with his brother Lawrence, was falsely convicted of crack distribution in a notorious Washington, DC, case in 1998, has spent most of the last six weeks in "special housing" -- a federal Bureau of Prisons euphemism for solitary confinement -- at the Allenwood Federal Low Security Institution in Pennsylvania. His offense? Writing a letter to his imprisoned brother in which he quoted Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan's comments on the attacks and their genesis.
At least that is what his mother, Karen Garrison, reported to DRCNet this week. Federal officials at Allenwood would neither confirm nor deny that Garrison had been disciplined. "That is not public information," public information specialist Bill Smith told DRCNet. Expressing the BOP's famous solicitude for its charges, Smith added that he would have to get a signed consent form from Lamont Garrison before he could discuss the case.
And Lamont Garrison remains unavailable for comment.
According to Smith, administrative penalties are reserved for prisoners who "commit disciplinary infractions or endanger the orderly operation of the institution -- not for political writings."
But according to Mrs. Garrison, that is precisely why Lamont Garrison was sent to the hole. "Lamont had watched Farrakhan on TV and quoted what he said in a letter to his brother Lawrence," Mrs. Garrison said. "Then a hack named Hamilton took the letter and turned it over to an investigator at the prison, and they put him in the hole on September 17," she explained. "The guards told him: 'yeah, you said something about the war,'" Garrison told DRCNet.
According to Mrs. Garrison, Lamont was in the hole from September 17 through the end of October. "I hadn't heard from him for a long time, then when I got a letter from him in pencil, I knew he was in the hole. They only let them use pencils there."
Public information specialist Smith told DRCNet that Garrison was not now in special housing, but refused to say whether he had been or for how long. "That's not public information," said Smith.
Lamont and Lawrence Garrison were students at prestigious Howard University and had never been in trouble with the law when they were arrested, charged and convicted of crack cocaine distribution in 1998. In the nationally prominent case, Lawrence Garrison, currently at a federal prison camp in Elkton, Ohio, received a 15 1/2 year sentence, while Lamont Garrison got 19 1/2 years.
"We had court appointed lawyers, and they didn't even believe my sons," said Mrs. Garrison, who told DRCNet that 27-year-old twins are pursuing a new round of appeals based on ineffective counsel. "These were good boys, they never even stayed out all night, let alone had anything to do with drugs," she said. "They were good citizens of the community."
Now, Lamont Garrison has been punished for expressing the wrong political beliefs. "Not only has he been in the hole for six weeks, he has now lost his prison job," Mrs. Garrison told DRCNet. "Lamont is pretty tense right now."
So, it seems, are administrators and line officers in the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Last week, DRCNet reported on the final ignoble collapse of the Tony Blair government's steely resolve never to soften the marijuana laws (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/208.html#ukdecrim). Despite Blair's Labor government long-standing vows, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that as of next spring, cannabis will be moved to the softest drug schedule -- along with steroids and anti-depressants -- and cannabis users and possessors will no longer be subject to arrest.
That move is not quite a done deal -- it must be discussed by the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and approved by parliament -- but it is difficult to see how the desires of the majority government's Home Secretary will be overridden.
As if virtual decriminalization of cannabis were not enough, the organization representing Britain's top police commanders has called for relaxation of penalties for ecstasy, the popular dance club and rave drug. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that ecstasy was incorrectly scheduled as a most serious Schedule A drug, along with heroin, cocaine, and LSD, and should instead be moved to Schedule B. (Cannabis is currently a Schedule B drug, but would move to the lowest schedule, Schedule C, under Labor's new plan.)
"We need to achieve a balance of police resources focusing a greater priority on class A drugs," the chairman of ACPO's drugs committee Andy Hayman told The Observer newspaper. "ACPO's submission to the Independent Inquiry into Drugs, based on the most up-to-date medical and scientific research, was that some drugs seem to be in too high a class, including ecstasy," said Hayman, a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London's Metropolitan Police.
But the group would want further review of the medical evidence on ecstasy before the law was changed, Hayman added.
A key member of the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Roger Howard, who runs Drugscope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk), a leading drug policy nonprofit, has also joined the call to relax ecstasy penalties. He told the Sunday Times (London) that the council had seen new evidence supporting relaxation of the laws. "We have reached no conclusions," said Howard, "but this [evidence] lends support to the view that some drugs have not been appropriately classified, and that's not just cannabis."
Home Secretary Blunkett has rejected rescheduling ecstasy, but his is the same office that only two weeks ago was saying the same thing about cannabis.
British studies suggest that some half-million people take ecstasy every weekend in Britain.
Meanwhile, lost beneath the hubbub stirred up by the government's sudden shift on cannabis and the new talk about ecstasy, the parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee hearings on drug policy have been largely neglected. "We activists have been looking forward to the committee hearings, but Blunkett's cannabis announcement really stopped the party," said Andria Mordaunt of the British drug policy group the Mordaunt Trust. "Members have been raking Home Office officials over the coals for not examining decriminalization," she told DRCNet.
Sue Killen, Home Office director of drug strategy, took most of the heat. Committee chairman Chris Mullen criticized the Home Office for failing to examine the effects of decriminalization or legalization of all drugs. Mullen demanded that the Home Office this week provide a detailed rebuttal of arguments for decriminalization, if it could.
"To my knowledge we have not sat down and done a major study on decriminalization of all drugs, including class A," Killen had to admit. Officials had instead concentrated on the problems of addiction among drug users and the harm drug trafficking does to communities, she said.
As of press time, the committee is still waiting for that rebuttal of decriminalization.
Even as Congress grows increasingly queasy about the US drug war adventure in Colombia -- the Senate last week voted to slash President Bush's Andean counter-drug budget by 22% -- Bush administration officials and congressional drug war diehards are turning up the "terrorist" rhetoric in an effort to strengthen their cause.
Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pleaded with his colleagues to vote for more Colombia aid because the Andean nation is one of the theaters in the global "battle against terrorism." A very "discouraged and disappointed" Graham told the Miami Herald after the vote that the counter-drug program in Colombia should be broadened to include anti-terrorist activities.
Speaking at a luncheon last week, Graham elaborated. Some 500 acts of terrorism were committed against US citizens or economic interests last year, he said. "Of those almost 500 incidents, 44% were in one country. Was that country Egypt? No. Israel? No. Afghanistan? Hardly a tick. Forty-four percent were in Colombia," Graham explained. "That's where the terrorist war has been raging."
Graham must have been heartened by US Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson's announcement last week that the Bush administration plans to provide Colombia with "counter-terrorist" aid as part of the new US war on terrorism. Patterson told the Associated Press that Washington plans to help Colombia guard (US-owned) oil pipelines, assist civilian and military "counter-terror" investigators, and train and equip elite anti-kidnapping and bomb squads.
"Colombia has 10% of the terrorist groups in the world, according to our [State Department] list," Patterson told the AP. Patterson did not discuss how she defines terrorist groups, vs. insurgencies or armed national liberation movements, or how one might differentiate one from the other.
"There's no question we are now focusing more on terrorism in Colombia," Patterson explained. "Certainly, September 11 has enabled us to do more of these kind of things," she added, referring to broader assistance to the Colombian state.
Another one of "these kinds of things" that Patterson has in mind is to attempt to extradite and try Colombian guerrillas and paramilitaries on drug trafficking or money laundering charges in the US. "We have focused our attention on all types of international organized crime, including money laundering," she told a conference on the topic in Cartagena.
Drug traffickers have faced extradition to the US in the past, but the US has never previously attempted to criminalize participation in Colombia's civil war. Now, in the name of the war on terrorism, the Bush administration is preparing to turn up the heat on the Colombian pressure cooker. Stand back.
DRCNet reported five weeks ago that counter-terrorism measures along US borders had put a temporary glitch in the cross-border drug traffic (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/204.html#theborder). But in compliance with the laws of the market, the border drug slow-down has ended, according to US law enforcement sources. In the days immediately following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, law enforcement and industry sources reported a standstill on the borders with seizures down dramatically. The presumption was that smugglers were afraid to cross the border in the teeth of the massive security crackdown. By noon on September 11, the entire US-Mexican and US-Canadian border had gone from their normal status to the highest alert -- "level one" -- which calls for searches of every vehicle crossing the border.
In South Texas in the ten days immediately following the attacks, cocaine seizures were down 90% and marijuana seizures down 50%, according to US Customs spokesman Roger Maier in El Paso. But, Maier told the Knight Ridder newspapers, within the next 10-day period, marijuana seizures doubled to their normal levels and cocaine seizures increased 13-fold.
The same pattern has also held true along the Mexican border in California. US Customs made only 63 drug seizures along the California border from September 9-22, but in the following two-week period the number of drug seizures nearly doubled, to 105.
"Our inspectors are raising trunks, raising the hoods, poking the back seats, checking documents, and questioning people more carefully," said San Diego-based US Customs spokesman Vince Bond. "Smugglers do not like that level of exposure," Bond said, "but they have payrolls to meet like anyone else, and they know there's a market on this side of the border."
"The drug business is a money business, and there is demand for it," seconded Maier.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman Will Glaspy, looking north toward the Canadian border, admitted that Canadian marijuana supplies in the US are unlikely to suffer any lasting effect. "The drug trafficking organizations are pretty resourceful," Glaspy told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. "If there's an increase in security and they think they will be compromised, they will adjust as needed to get the drugs to their customers. You're talking about an awfully big border."
Official ports of entry, of course, are only one way through the border. While Customs spokesman Bond argued that because of intense surveillance of the border, ports of entry are "the most likely crossing points," smugglers are likely turning to the good, old-fashioned methods: walking or boating across the thousands of miles of unprotected border, often in harsh and inaccessible terrain on both frontiers.
Canadian marijuana seed entrepreneur Marc Emery agreed, telling the Portland newspaper that Canadian pot smuggling professionals do not use roads or airplanes, but instead come across on trails or over the water. "I haven't met anybody who says their transport people have been compromised," said Emery. "Not only would you have to detect someone walking over in the middle of a national forest, but you'd need someone there to apprehend them."
Even with the proposed addition of hundreds of new Customs and Border Patrol agents on the 3,000 mile Canadian border, the northern frontier will remain an easy walk-through. The war on terrorism's impact on cross-border drug trafficking was fleeting. Now, war on terror or not, it's back to business as usual for the black market.
Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org), the London-based international human rights defense organization, has for years taken strong and principled stands against human rights abuses in places such as Colombia, where US drug policy helps fuel the fires of war and atrocity, as well as the United States, where the organization condemns US prisons -- full of nonviolent drug law violators -- and the application of the death penalty. But while Amnesty has contended with and condemned the results of the US holy war against drugs, the million-member organization with chapters in 162 countries has never directly focused on US drug policy in itself as a fount of human rights abuses.
Until now. In a move designed to force the organization to confront the relationship between US drug policy and inhumane practices, the Cape May County (New Jersey) Group #543 of AI's US affiliate has introduced a resolution calling on AI to "immediately recognize the correlation between this [drug] war and human rights and environmental abuses, within and outside the USA." The resolution further calls on Amnesty to appoint a research team to investigate such abuses and for Amnesty to act on the drug front "immediately."
Georgina Stanley, coordinator of the Cape May Amnesty group for the past decade, authored the resolution. "Amnesty International is like a big lumbering bear," she told DRCNet. "The organization has its mandates -- freedom for prisoners of conscience, fair and prompt trials for political prisoners, abolish the death penalty, prison conditions, and extrajudicial executions and 'disappearances' -- and many of our diehard people simply follow the mandates. But with this resolution, we want to push the envelope," she said.
"Our mandates are all deeply affected by the drug war," said Stanley, "but Amnesty hasn't made the formal connection. By making that connection, Amnesty can focus on the human rights abuses on a massive scale that flow from US drug policy. It isn't just poor peasants in Colombia being tortured and murdered with American equipment and American money," said Stanley. "There are also extrajudicial killings right here -- just look at Patrick Dorismond or the people at Rainbow Farm. And we are saying enough already."
The Cape May group has won approval to place the resolution for a vote before AI's Northeast US Regional Conference, set for this weekend at Columbia University in Manhattan. If the resolution passes at the regional conference, it then becomes part of a packet of resolutions to be voted on at Amnesty's annual general meeting, scheduled for Seattle next April. But according to Amnesty's Northeast US regional director, Josh Rubinstein, even if the resolution then passes at the national meeting, the US section's board of directors can still block its implementation.
"There are some provisions for the board of directors to raise objections," Rubinstein told DRCNet, "but if the board chooses not to implement a resolution, it must explain its reasons to the membership."
"We think the resolution will pass," Stanley replied. "It has generated excitement from coast to coast. Some members of the strategic planning committee say drug policy should be a long-term concern, but I say that is bullshit. We are in crisis now with this drug war. Some argue that going after the drug war could adversely affect our human rights and environmental programs, but I say the drug war must end, and if that means changing our mandate, then let's go for it."
Getting Amnesty behind the effort to end the drug war could bring a valuable ally to the reformers' cause, Stanley told DRCNet. "If we succeed in getting the drug war into Amnesty's core mandates, it means we can mobilize our million members worldwide, we can start Amnesty campaigns to influence policy makers and public officials. AI has powerful resources that we can mobilize, and I believe that Amnesty itself could benefit from bringing in new people ready to work with us on this, people like the November Coalition and FAMM, for instance."
Stanley is aiming beyond the US as well. "We are trying to get international support for this resolution," she told DRCNet. "We hope this theme of human rights abuses as part of the drug war will become part of an international campaign supported by the international secretariat in London. We want to get this into the next integrated strategic plan for the international secretariat, not just for our next two-year US plan," she said.
"I never wanted to get into this drug business because it's too hard, too complex," said the Irish-born activist, "but now I'm in the belly of the beast. This resolution is for the kids, the kids in Colombia, the kids standing on dead-end corners here, the kids rotting for years in prisons. Martin Luther King talked about the appalling silence of the good people. That appalling silence has to stop."
DRCNet will report back with updates on the resolution's progress -- one more facet of the drug reform agenda's necessary long march through society's institutions.
Drug reformers in Arkansas got a pleasant surprise this week when the University of Arkansas' annual Arkansas Poll revealed that nearly two out of three Arkansas are ready to support medical marijuana in the state. The news is especially welcome, given that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Campaign is in the initial stages of signature gathering in an effort to put a medical marijuana initiative on the November 2002 ballot.
The poll, conducted October 8-17 by the University of Arkansas Research Center, found that 63% of Arkansans surveyed favored medical marijuana under a doctor's supervision, while 32% were opposed. The remaining 5% either had no opinion or refused to answer the question.
"This poll tells me we're making lots of progress," said Denele Campbell of the state's Drug Policy Education Group, which is involved in educational work around medical marijuana and other drug policy issues. "Not only the favorable results, but the fact that the poll even asked the question, is an important acknowledgment of what we are doing," she told DRCNet. "We are beginning to be taken seriously by the state media, and the poll has only helped in that regard."
Campbell was also quick to point out that drug reformers did not commission the poll.
She was not alone in her estimation of the poll's significance. Dr. Janine Perry, assistant professor of political science at the university and director of the poll, told the Texarkana Gazette that the poll results "could have an impact on public policy, particularly because of the statewide petition to put a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot."
The initiative campaign, modeled on Oregon's medical marijuana law, is just getting underway, according to Campbell. "We only have 5,000 signatures right now and we need 56,000," she told DRCNet. "That means we want to get 100,000 signatures, so we can ensure that we make the 56,000 certified signatures necessary." But, she added, the campaign has until July 2002 to obtain the signatures.
"We are pursuing medical marijuana on two tracks at the same time," she said. "We are following the initiative route, but at the same time we are also meeting privately with interested legislators, and we think we have a good chance of getting a medical marijuana bill to move in the legislature when it meets again in January 2003."
Even the two-track medical marijuana campaign is only a part of the broader agenda for Arkansas drug reformers, said Campbell. A set of drug reform organizations has emerged in the state within the last two years, including the Drug Policy Education Group (http://www.dpeg.org) and the movement's lobbying arm, ARDPArk, the Alliance for the Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas (http://www.ardpark.org), and grown from there.
"As with any grassroots campaign, we began with no organization and no money, but we've been building support ever since," said Campbell. "Now we have about 400 supporters on our mailing list and a crew of 30 to 50 who turn out for events. The medical marijuana campaign has given us the base we needed to move into a broader discussion of drug policy reform, so we are starting to move in that direction. We have just started an 11-person speakers' bureau. We haven't really pushed the public until now, but now we are ready to start," she added.
"We are taking aim at racial profiling and mandatory minimum sentences, now, too," said Campbell. "One of our people is on the state police commission, so we're attempting to get to the state director of police. If we do our work properly on sentencing, we should be able to get action in the state legislature in 2003," she added.
(bulletin from the Andean Information Network)
On October 26, Bolivia's president ordered approximately 4,000 additional troops into the Chapare region to insure continued coca eradication and to attempt to impede road blockades by coca growers announced to begin on November 6. There were already over 2,000 police and military stationed in the region.
The new troops have installed a serious of additional camps throughout the region such as Colorado, Paractito and others. Forces dispersed some of the groups of coca growers around camps, although vigils have been reinstated in several areas.
At this time tensions are high in the region, but there have not been large-scale confrontations. Coca growers denounce that members of the Ecological Police have been stealing the Bolivian flags and Wiphalas hung near the main highway and near eradication camps in protest of government policy.
Coca growers' leaders announced that they still plan to block the main highway between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz beginning on November 6, in spite of the heavy militarization in the region. High-ranking government officials stated that eradication will continue and that they refuse to discuss continued coca production in the region. An additional 1,000 members of combined forces will be sent to the Chapare in the next few days.
Evo Morales, leader of the six coca-growing federations, announced to the press that "the Quechuas and Aymaras in the Cochabamba tropics suffer from four wars: economic against the small [coca] producers; a cultural war against the coca leaf symbol; legal and political [tactics] used by MIR and ADN that make statements again union leaders in the region; and eradication." Other union leaders also stated that members of the six federations might respond to gunfire from security forces with violence.
On October 29, Rene Laime, the director of Radio Soberania, the Tropico Federation's radio station in Chipiri, received a citation from the prosecutor's office requiring that he identify individuals calling for road blockades and other measures on the air, as a result of a denunciation filed by Col. Hernan Caprirolo, Joint Task Force Commander.
The citation violates article 7 of the Bolivian constitution, which stipulates freedom of expression, and the Press Law (Ley de Imprenta). The Bolivian Journalist's union has filed a formal complaint. During the last 72 hours, there was a heavy presence of police and military personnel near the station. Employees have decided to temporarily reduce broadcasting time, as they fear intervention or forced closing of the installation.
Members of the security forces forcibly entered Carrasco Federation leader Luis Cutipa's home at approximately 2:30 am on October 27, according to a denunciation made to the Cochabamba Interinstitutional Commission. Cutipa was not home at the time. Security forces beat and interrogated Mamberto Espinoza about the leader's whereabouts.
Tropico Federation leader Delfín Olivera also denounced that security forces forcibly entered his mother's home in Eterazama. Both leaders also denounced death threats to their cellular phones.
Amnesty International urged Bolivian authorities to take measures to impede further bloodshed and human rights violations during law enforcement activities in the region. "The protests announced by coca producers for the coming weeks should not be characterized by the excessive use of force by security forces, as they have been until now," stated Amnesty, noting that over 30 campesinos have been killed and hundreds wounded during confrontations with security forces in the region since 1994.
"It is time to break the pattern of human rights violations that has characterized the application of coca eradication agreements with the United States," Amnesty continued, highlighting that "by ensuring compliance with these accords, Bolivian authorities cannot ignore the stipulations of their own constitution and international agreements that consecrate fundamental human rights to which the Bolivian government is party."
Statements made on October 30 by Bolivian Justice and Human Rights minister Mario Serrate shocked the nation, press, and human rights organizations. Serrate said, "Human rights are not the key issue, the main topic is coca eradication in the Chapare, which is a law of the Republic."
Other recent bulletins on the Bolivia situation:
Bolivia Forced Eradication Provoking Civil Instability, Indiscriminate Violence by Government Security Forces (9/21)
Casual drug users are just as likely to find employment and hold a job as non-users, according to researchers from the University of Miami, Florida. Casual drug users were defined as those persons who used drugs no more than once a week in the past year.
Based on data from the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the study found no statistically significant correlation between casual drug use and employment history. The researchers, led by Dr. Michael T. French of Miami's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, did find, however, that chronic drug use reduced a person's chance of finding and holding a job.
According to an abstract of the study, published in the October issue of the Southern Economic Review, researchers were interested in the efficacy of "workplace interventions" (i.e. drug testing) in addressing employers' concerns about workplace productivity, absenteeism, and safety. After reviewing the results of the research, French suggested that drug-testing and employer-based drug treatment programs would be more effective if focused on chronic drug users rather than all drug users.
"Workplace policies for illicit drug use should consider chronic or problem drug users apart from light or casual users," wrote French.
Such a prescription proved too much for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which finds any distinction between casual and problematic drug use intolerable. When queried by Reuters about the study's findings, ONDCP spokesman Rafeal Lemaitre resorted to bald assertions about all drug use being equal. "In terms of workplace accidents, it does not matter if the drug user is hard core or casual. The damage has been done," he said. "People who use drugs miss work, have lower productivity, and have accidents."
Unlike the Miami researchers, however, Lemaitre provided no numbers to back up his claim.
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
(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to [email protected].)
November 1-2, Milwaukee, WI, "The Great Prison Debate: Drug Policy Impact on Prison Populations in Wisconsin," full day of workshops starting on 8:30am Friday, $30 on-site registration. At the Student Union Building, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. For further information, visit http://www.benedictcenter.org online.
November 5, 8:30am-1:15pm, Boston, MA, "Making Sense of Harm Reduction in Substance Abuse Treatment: Clinical and Policy Applications." Featuring keynote address by Edith Springer, at the Federal Reserve Bank, 600 Atlantic Avenue (across from South Station). $65 for National Association of Social Workers members, $85 for non-members, retired/unemployed/student rates available. 4.0 Continuing Education credits. Call (617) 973-3463 for further information.
November 5, noon, San Francisco, CA, Rally for Medical Marijuana, with District Attorney Terence Hallinan. At the Hall of Justice, 860 Bryant St.
November 5, 5:00pm, West Hollywood, CA, Rally for Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, 7494 Santa Monica Blvd.
November 6, 6:00-7:00pm, El Paso, TX, November Coalition Public Meeting. At Doc's Bar-B-Que, 9530 Viscount, contact Deitra Lied at (915) 204-2844 or [email protected] for further information.
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 9-10, Redway, CA, Civil Liberties Monitoring Project benefit. First day features Dale Gieringer, Bill Panzer and Dr. Tod Mikuriya, 5:00, call (707) 923-4646 for info. Second day is a Hemp Fair, noon-10:00pm, call (707) 923-2586 for info.
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.
November 15, 6:00pm, Berkeley, CA, "Marijuana: What DARE Didn't Teach You." Forum sponsored by UC Berkeley Students for Sensible Drug Policy with other campus and community organizations. Contact Scarlett at [email protected] for information.
November 26, 6:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Amsterdam Night" at the White Dog Cafe. Members of a delegation who spent a week studying Dutch drug policy as part of an international sister restaurant project will report back on the experience, followed by an after discussion with Common Sense for Drug Policy's Kevin Zeese. $30 per person includes three-course dinner at 6:00, speaker and discussion from 7:30-9:00pm; $25 for senior citizens and full-time students with advance notification, student standby $15 or free discussion at 7:30pm. Call (215) 386-9224 for reservations, or visit http://www.whitedog.com or e-mail [email protected] for further information.
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.
April 8-13, 2002, Gainesville, FL, "Drug Education Week," series of presentations on different topics in the drug war, including daily keynote, followed by Saturday free concert. Hosted by University of Florida Students for Sensible Drug Policy, visit http://grove.ufl.edu/~ssdp/ 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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