(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)
Issue #211, 11/16/01
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 11/16/01
I never cease to be amazed by some of the things that come out of John Ashcroft's mouth. About a week ago, our Attorney General said that "terrorists will be detained, and in some cases deported." He was referring, at least in part, to the several hundred, maybe by now a thousand people taken into custody following the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington. About ten of them are thought to be actual terrorists.
Strange, one would think, and hope, that terrorists, or even those who have willfully aided them, would be prosecuted and incarcerated in the US, not deported to go free about their bloody business in other countries where our ability to monitor them would be substantially diminished. If some detainees are deemed innocent enough to be merely deported, then they must not be terrorists. At least one would think. Chances are the majority of the deportations will be done on the basis of mere immigration violations.
So why is he calling them terrorists? It's a little slanderous. Of course, we see in the drug war that prosecutors lie about people under their control all the time, so I suppose I shouldn't be amazed. Somehow, though, I still can't help it. Even more amazing are some of the things Ashcroft came up with to have defined as terrorism in the new law he helped to write, such as low-level computer hacking.
Given such Orwellian thought patterns, it should be no surprise that Ashcroft's drug war policies are equally poorly conceived. One of the worst is his new attempt to have the DEA go after Oregon doctors who prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients for assisted suicide. One ought to take pause when even supporters of one's objectives object to one's methods. And that is indeed the case here: There are medical organizations that are on the record as opposing assisted suicide, who nevertheless oppose this new Ashcroft initiative.
The reason that opposition to the Ashcroft anti-assisted suicide plan spans organizations with a range of positions on that issue has to do with the treatment of chronic pain. The norm in pain treatment in the US is that pain is generally undertreated, sometimes not treated at all, despite the existence and ready availability of treatments that work. The problem is that the same drugs most commonly used to control pain -- opiates, or narcotics, are also used by recreational users and abused by addicts -- and are also used for assisted suicide.
DEA scrutiny of prescriptions of these substances has had a calamitously chilling effect on the willingness of physicians to prescribe them in the quantities needed by patients in severe, long-term, chronic pain. Though DEA pays lip service to the need to ensure the availability of pain treatment to patients, in practice, many agents and prosecutors are woefully ignorant of the medical realities of pain control, and some deliberately target doctors and patients.
Even when some DEA offices show reasonable judgment with regard to pain prescriptions, the reality is that the scrutiny itself, and the possible consequences -- which range from loss of license to hard-time in federal penitentiaries -- automatically scares doctors away from treating pain. Medical organizations fear that increasing that scrutiny will frighten doctors from providing needed pain relievers for fear of their prescriptions being misinterpreted as assisted suicide.
They have evidence on their side. The DEA actually tried to do this back in late 1997, only to be stopped by then Attorney General Janet Reno, who was skeptical about their legal powers in this area. But the threat alone, unfulfilled, had consequences. Research performed at Oregon Health Sciences University found that undertreatment of pain increased sharply among Oregon's dying following the DEA's threat against doctors performing assisted suicide.
This chain of cause and effect, however, is a little complex, and requires one to understand that the drug war does harm. And that concept may lie beyond the intellectual grasp of an Attorney General who evidently has trouble distinguishing between illegal immigration -- a misdemeanor, incidentally -- and international mega-terrorism.
All the more reason for citizens to be critical of their government, even in a time of crisis -- in fact, especially in a time of crisis. Otherwise, federal fanatics will take every opportunity they can to steal our constitutional rights.
In the wake of the Justice Department's and the DEA's offensive against medical marijuana in California, activists there and around the country are preparing to go on the offensive. Meanwhile, medical marijuana distribution co-ops in California are taking measures to protect themselves, their medical supplies and their patient records. But even as reformers gear up for a fight, they remain divided on which strategies to pursue.
Three years of relative peace between the federal government and California medical marijuana providers ended last month, when in three separate raids, DEA agents swooped down on one of the state's leading marijuana-recommending physicians, tore from the ground a legitimate medical marijuana garden in Ventura County and effectively shut down the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, leaving nearly a thousand patients in the lurch.
One line of attack for reformers is to push H.R. 2592, the States' Right to Medical Marijuana Act, sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), which would create an exception to the Controlled Substances Act and the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act allowing states to operate medical marijuana programs without federal interference. The bill would also reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, allowing it to be prescribed by doctors.
"We are using these incidents in California as a means to promote the Frank bill," said Chris Hammond, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org). "We think the DEA raids highlight the necessity of changing federal law so the DEA and Justice Department cannot undertake these kinds of actions," he told DRCNet. "We're still strategizing as to how to promote this," said Hammond, "but the big push is to mobilize people to contact their representatives and ask them to cosponsor the bill. We've been working with DRCNet and other groups to ensure that Congress brings an end to these atrocious actions by the federal government."
The bill currently has only nine cosponsors, with only two members of the California congressional delegation, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), having signed on to protect the decision of California voters to allow medical marijuana. Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Government Operations Committee, has loudly denounced the DEA actions, especially the raid against the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood, part of Waxman's district.
"The DEA's raid on the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center was an outrage," said Waxman in a statement read at a November 6 protest rally on Santa Monica Boulevard. "People who are suffering from from terminal diseases like cancer and AIDS should receive compassionate pain relief, including medical marijuana. The voters made this decision five years ago, and the Supreme Court should not have overruled us," said Waxman.
Dale Gieringer, head of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.canorml.org), was also pushing for movement on the Frank bill. "We've been urging people to call Congress to support the Frank bill," Gieringer told DRCNet, "but because of the terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare, we haven't seen any movement. In reality, no one expects the legislation to pass anytime soon," Gieringer admitted.
National NORML (http://www.norml.org) executive director Keith Stroup was even more blunt. "Let's be realistic," he told DRCNet. "This bill is not going anywhere in this Congress. Right-wing Republicans still control the House, and they will not allow medical marijuana to happen while they're in charge," said Stroup. "We should have no false hope that we can move this bill, not until the Democrats get control of the House. At least then we would be able to get hearings."
For Stroup, the important thing is working at the state and local level. "Congress won't act until there is a critical mass of states that have medical marijuana," he argued. "We have eight now, but we need 20 or so. If we continue to add states, Congress could act within two or three years."
MPP's Hammond remained undeterred. "Whatever the bill's immediate prospects, H.R. 2592 is the biggest thing we need to accomplish right now," he told DRCNet.
Long-time hemp activist Chris Conrad sees deep political change as a prerequisite for protecting medical marijuana in California. "The real answer has to do with elections," he told DRCNet. "These guys stole the DC medical marijuana election, they stole the national election, they're trying to overturn state initiatives they don't like. Bush and Ashcroft are hoodlums and thieves with no respect for democracy. These guys are criminal," said Conrad, who nonetheless saw an up side: "Ashcroft will build us a vast national coalition against him."
Whatever the prospects for the Frank bill, reformers are not sitting back and waiting for action on Capitol Hill. San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, a strong supporter of medical marijuana, has effectively told the DEA to butt out of his city. "I urge administrator Hutchinson to respect our city's approach to medical marijuana, which has reduced crime, saved money and contributed to public well-being," said Hallinan last week. "Any move to close the dispensaries will result in sick people trying to get marijuana from street vendors, whose products may or may not be safe."
City Supervisor Mark Leno has also introduced legislation making San Francisco "a sanctuary for medical cannabis use, cultivation, and distribution" and calling on state and local authorities not to participate in a federal crackdown.
But Hallinan's and Leno's support was not enough for one medical marijuana provider in the city, Cannabis Healing Californians on 10th Street. That club closed early this month, with its owners citing fears that the Los Angeles raid was only the opening shot in the DEA's war on medical marijuana.
Activists are also spoiling for a criminal charge to be filed in any of the recent raids. "If Ashcroft decides to go after clubs in the Bay area, where would he try the cases?" asked Conrad. "They can't get a conviction around here."
NORML's Stroup was not certain the federal government would move to bring charges against anyone. "They fear public opposition in California," said Stroup, "and they are getting a lot of what they want already. They are effectively shutting down the most visible clubs and bankrupting the people who run them. That may be all they need. If they actually indict any of the principals, then we'll have a legal battle on our hands and we'll do everything possible to defend those folks, but that's not what I expect to happen," he said.
Dale Gieringer sees another front as well. "We have to destroy that poisonous relationship that exists between the feds and certain recalcitrant elements in California law enforcement," he explained. "We are considering another initiative, one that would set a baseline of acceptable amounts of marijuana for medical use based on federal guidelines. The way it is now, you still get arrested and prosecuted, although you have a defense. We're looking at not even getting arrested. This initiative would also include language saying state officials are not to spend any resources working with the feds on this. Right now, some counties turn cases over to the feds, and vice versa. We must destroy that pernicious relationship."
While activists focus on a political and legal response, California medical marijuana providers are hunkering down and taking defensive measures. "People are preparing for the feds to make their next move," said Gieringer. "Clubs are moving their patient lists to other locations or encrypting them. And unlike Los Angeles, where the Cannabis Resource Center grew its own and relied on only one other supplier [who was also raided], in Northern California the distribution system is out in the open, but the supply system is not. If one storefront gets raided, they can open up elsewhere with an assured supply. Unlike the co-ops, the network of medical marijuana growers and providers remains pretty much unpenetrated."
Keith Stroup had a word of warning for people attempting to hide patient information from the feds. "I've seen suggestions that the records be taken off-site or that they be coded, but that information is not so easy to protect. The problem is, if the feds come in with a subpoena for the records, you could be held in contempt if you don't provide them. Club owners should talk to their criminal defense lawyers about what steps might help and what is a waste of time. There may not be an effective way to keep patient lists from the feds."
(Visit http://thomas.loc.gov and search on H.R. 2592 for information on Barney Frank's medical marijuana bill.)
The latest generation of drug reformers came together in Washington, DC, over the weekend as more than 250 student drug policy activists affiliated with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org) held their third annual conference in the nation's capital. While the group was formed because of broad student concerns about the anti-drug provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA), decisions taken over the weekend in Washington will serve to broaden the group's focus.
According to SSDP president Shawn Heller, the group voted over the weekend to continue its focus on the HEA reform campaign, but also decided to put three new items on SSDP's agenda. "In addition to the HEA campaign, we are also going to focus on replacing campus zero tolerance policies with harm reduction and drug education approaches, on defeating Plan Colombia, and on opposing drug testing, both on campus and on the job," Heller explained.
SSDP is also moving ahead with a Week of Action at the end of this month and Hemp Day of Action to strengthen opposition to the DEA's ban on foods containing hemp products, said Heller. "The Week of Action will be a coordinated effort at campuses across the country focusing on all of our core issues, and will have a culminating event, probably focused on the victims of the HEA anti-drug provision," he said.
The two-day weekend conference at George Washington University in Washington's Foggy Bottom neighborhood featured an array of speakers, workshops, and other events. American Indian activist and libertarian candidate for governor of New Mexico Russell Means gave a rousing keynote address linking the war on drugs to myriad other social problems and arguing that fundamental social change is both necessary and urgent. Means professed to be strongly moved by the new wave of student activists. "This conference has touched my heart," he said at a Saturday night dinner.
And, demonstrating that interest in drug policy reform transcends traditional ideological lines, the conference's other big attraction was Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who urged students to have stamina and resiliency in what could be a long, hard battle. "We need to develop new words and new language to describe what's happening," said Nader. "Can you say institutionalized insanity?"
"It was incredibly cool that Nader came," said SSDP member Jennifer Landis. "He lends legitimacy to the movement." He also drew a crowd. According to Heller, some 500 people paid $5 (student) or $10 (general admission) to hear Nader's address at the downtown Marriott Hotel.
Student activists from around the country also had the opportunity to listen to and interact with some of the movement's leaders. DRCNet's David Borden told the students that the wide diversity of issues that bring people to drug policy are a strength as well as a dilemma. "The more invested we become in partial reform efforts, the closer those efforts come to actually succeeding, the greater the pressure to de-emphasize or even deny our core belief [that prohibition needs to end] that brought many of us into this issue." Borden cited organizations outside of the drug policy reform movement -- such as the ACLU, National Review magazine and the Cato Institute -- that have superior positions on drug policy reform than many drug reform groups.
The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation's Eric Sterling brought a different emphasis to his address. "We need Congress to change the drug laws," said Sterling. "We have to change our politics and get real," he added. "We need to convince powerful political interests that current drug policy hurts them. For the Republicans, we need to show how drug policy hurts their constituencies -- realtors, Chamber of Commerce types, and the business community. For the Democrats, we have to convince the labor unions that the war on drugs hurts working people, we have to convince teachers that it hurts kids and hurts schools," Sterling said.
Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy (http://www.csdp.org) envisioned a drug war picket line at federal courthouses in hundreds of cities across the land and urged drug reformers to seek additional credibility by allying themselves with academics and finding cosponsors outside the reform movement. "There has to be a better way to protect our communities and families," Zeese said.
The international drug war also received some close scrutiny. "Regardless of what the US media says, the idea of drug legalization is strong in Latin America," Narco News (http://www.narconews.com) publisher Al Giordano told the students. The odds for change may appear long, the peripatetic journalist said, "but courage with truth beats power."
Students also heard from Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation executive director Ethan Nadelmann; Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy; Rick Doblin, whose Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies last week won FDA approval for the first therapeutic study of ecstasy use since the drug was banned in 1985; and many others.
"This was my first drug reform conference, and it was outstanding," said Abby Bair, vice-president of the Ohio University SSDP chapter in Athens, Ohio, who was elected to the group's national board of directors on Sunday. (See last week's at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/210.html#oussdp about recent events at Ohio U.) "It was really hectic, but really focused on strengthening SSDP's message," she told DRCNet. "Plus, Nader really focused on drug policy, that was great, and the media workshop I did with Adam Eidinger [Mintwood Media] will be most useful."
For Bair, the conference was powerful stuff. "It made me realize what a movement this is, it added depth to what I'm doing," she said. "It made me realize that I need to devote my time to drug policy reform for the next few years. I can't turn my back."
"This conference was much more than I expected," said Doug McVay of Common Sense for Drug Policy. "I was very impressed with this group of very sincere, very committed people who are focused on drug reform and getting the work done," he told DRCNet. "So many times at these conventions the social aspect overrides the work, but not here. The attendees were not here to play, or to play defense. They came to defeat government policy, and that was salutory for some of us older heads. The old guys saw that there really is a youth drug reform movement."
But not just youth. Fifty-eight-year-old Kendall Llewellyn of Miami is a student only in the broadest sense of the word. "My name tag says parent volunteer," he told DRCNet, adding that his son, a former leader of the Hemp Awareness Council at the University of Miami, was attending. "I've got to tell you, this was an inspiring event. The student types were doing it all. Before the dance Saturday night, 30 or 50 of them were meeting in one room to work on fundraising issues. Their spirit is so revolutionary -- some drew a parallel with Students for a Democratic Society back in the '60s," said Llewellyn.
"I'm going to suggest that we create Parents for Sensible Drug Policy," Llewellyn said. "It could start off as something as simple as me paying for a domain name, putting up a web site and saying 'if you think the drug policy we've given our kids makes sense, exit now. If you believe otherwise, please follow the link to SSDP.' But it could grow from there," he mused.
In the meantime, the self-styled "D.A.R.E. Generation" of drug policy reformers will continue to speak out on the campuses and beyond.
When last DRCNet reported on Great Britain, the Lambeth area of London was months into its experiment with cannabis decrim, Labor Home Secretary David Blunkett had just announced that marijuana would be rescheduled from Class B to Class C, along with steroids and anti-depressants, and cannabis possession would no longer be an arrestable offense come springtime, and government officials were discussing rescheduling ecstasy as well. Activists in Brixton were agitating for the opening of cannabis cafes there, and were gaining broad support for doing so. But Colin Davies' September attempt to open the country's first cannabis cafe, far from Brixton in nondescript suburban Manchester, had been raided and shut down by police almost immediately after opening.
It's two months since the raid, and in yet another sign that things have changed in Britain, Davies' "Dutch Experience" Amsterdam-style coffee house is doing a thriving business while local elected and police officials look the other way. According to last Sunday's British newspaper the Observer, Dutch Experience "is packed with people rolling joints, inhaling deeply and grinning peacefully. By lunchtime last Wednesday there were at least 50 people in its two rooms, by evening over a hundred. No one bothered to hide this illegal activity. It's all totally open," the paper reported.
And why not? No one is coming after it. The local town council told the Observer it had received no complaints and its leader, Fred Ridley, said, "This is not a matter for the council, but for the police. If someone wants to test the law -- and that's the way the law has been changed before -- they must accept the consequences if the law of the land is enforced."
The Manchester police, for their part, also graciously bowed out, saying in a statement: "We recognize there is ongoing debate and research into the medical benefits or otherwise of cannabis. The police, in appropriate cases, exercise discretion and judgment."
And the local Member of Parliament, Chris Davies, who has visited twice, openly supports the Dutch Experience. "I applaud it," he told the Observer. "It seems an excellent way of meeting people's desire to try things other than alcohol without leading them on to harder things."
"I've created a monster," Colin Davies laughingly told the Observer. "They're coming here from all over the country -- the closest coffee shop is in Holland." But they're not just coming to get high; some customers are medical marijuana patients, a cause with which Davies has been associated for the past five years, and one that recreational sales at the Experience support. Profits from sales to healthy tokers subsidize an at-cost price for medical marijuana users. "People in wheelchairs shouldn't have to pay for their medicine -- they should get it free, and that's what we're doing," said Davies.
They could be doing it across Britain soon if the Labor government of Tony Blair listens to the criminal justice professionals. According to a survey of 300 British police forces, courts, probation offices, and drug care workers found that 81% of the organizations said cannabis should be sold at licensed outlets, such as pubs, cafes, and coffee houses and that a system of regulated distribution of cannabis should be put into place as soon as possible. The survey, conducted by the respected British drug policy group DrugScope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk), was presented this week to the parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee studying drug policy, where the Blair government has already come under fire for its timidity on cannabis law reform.
Former Conservative Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley told the committee on Monday that the government's moves to reclassify cannabis do not go far enough and restated his call for marijuana to be sold through licensed outlets, which did not sell alcohol or tobacco, which carried health warnings and which must be closed if there were any suspicion of selling hard drugs.
But Blair also came under attack from within his own party. Former Sports Minister Tony Banks blamed Blair for the government's slow pace on drug reform. "I don't feel the government is going anywhere near far enough. I think they are still trying to hold the line. I believe it is probably the reluctance of the Prime Minister," he told the committee. "I don't know what Mr. Blair did at university. But he clearly didn't get up to any naughty things whatsoever and we're all glad for that." Banks added that he welcomed Home Secretary Blunkett's softer line on cannabis possession, but described it as "a small and timid step" and urged ministers to go further.
But if Blunkett is taking some hits for halfway measures on marijuana policy, he is also on the verge on making dramatic positive moves on heroin. According to British press reports, Blunkett is weighing a proposal to increase five-fold the number of British heroin users being provided free prescription heroin. At present, some 300 Britons receive free prescription heroin.
But Blunkett's proposed position on expanded heroin maintenance is rapidly being overtaken by calls for even deeper change. In a report authored by former Gwent chief constable Frances Wilkinson and endorsed by Sir David Ramsbotham, former Chief Inspector of Prisons, the government was urged to provide free heroin nationwide as a crime reduction measure.
Published by the Liberal Democrat think tank the Centre for Reform and entitled "Heroin: The Failure of Prohibition and What To Do Now," the report calls for heroin on demand for those in need. According to Wilkinson, Britain has the most rampant heroin problem in the western world -- 270,000 users compared with only 1,000 registered addicts in 1971 -- and more heroin-related crime than the US.
"The only way to reduce the problem... is to supply heroin officially to users in a way that will minimise the leakage of those supplies," wrote Wilkinson. The British heroin trade is worth $5 billion a year to drug gangs, wrote Wilkinson, and moving to a regulated supply would both dry up those illicit profits and drive down the crime rate by 20%. Wilkinson proposed a two-year pilot project funded and monitored by the Home Office, in which the heroin supply would be part of a comprehensive approach that included medical assistance, counseling and supervision.
And if Wilkinson made Blunkett look timid, committee members also heard even more radical advocacy. Roger Warren Evans, co-author of the pro-legalization Angel Declaration (http://www.ccguide.org.uk/angel01.html) argued that it is not heroin itself that is harmful, but its illegal production and distribution, which causes poor quality, high prices, and high crime, and endangers lives. "The issue is the harm, not the supply," he said.
It seems as if the Labor government's solemn vow to block drug reforms is crumbling faster than the Taliban.
Last week, DRCNet reported on Attorney General John Ashcroft's move against Oregon's assisted suicide law, which allows physicians to prescribe but not administer lethal drugs to terminal patients who have met rigorous screening criteria (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/210.html#deaoregon). Ashcroft, an ardent religious conservative, ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to suspend or revoke the licenses of physicians who prescribe drugs for assisted suicide. The move provoked an immediate outcry from Oregon and beyond, and state officials moved swiftly to block the move in the federal courts. That move has succeeded, at least temporarily.
In his memorandum ordering the policy change, Ashcroft wrote that using federally controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide is not "a legitimate medical purpose." But on November 9, federal district court Judge Robert E. Jones granted a temporary restraining order sought by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, several terminally ill patients affected by the move and groups who support the Oregon law. The order is good only until next week, and unless and until it is overturned by a higher court, doctors in Oregon will continue to be able to prescribe lethal drugs under Oregon's assisted suicide law.
"I am not in a position at this juncture to make any prediction as to the ultimate outcome of this case," Jones told the courtroom. "I feel either side could prevail."
Justice Department lawyers had argued that grave harm would result if Jones issued the temporary order allowing assisted suicide prescriptions to continue, but Jones retorted that the matter could not be so urgent if it was based on a legal memo from June 29. "July passed. August passed. September and October passed and we're approaching the second week in November and suddenly the Attorney General is issuing an edict for immediate enforcement," Jones scoffed.
Assistant US Attorney Bill Howard, addressing the court on a speaker phone from Washington, DC, argued that great harm would come from allowing the resumption of that nation's only assisted suicide law.
"What it comes down to is whether those patients will continue living while the court considers the questions that have been put before it," Howard argued. Attempting to decide their fate, Howard continued, "Those individuals should continue living. Life is good."
Tell that to plaintiff Richard Holmes, a 72-year-old from Portland with terminal colon cancer and "substantial pain," according to Compassion in Dying attorney Nicholas van Aelstyn. Holmes was in the middle of the mandatory 15-day waiting period for his life-ending drugs when Ashcroft issued his order. Or tell it to Karl Stansell, 67, of Medford, whose terminal throat cancer "causes him agony when he eats," van Aelstyn told the court. Stansell, too, was in the waiting period and lost control over his death to Ashcroft's DEA.
This battle will continue, as will medical skirmishes in California, as voters in both states confront the federal government.
Drug treatment is big business, and the drug treatment industry is turning to Madison Avenue techniques and grand coalitions to ensure that it gets even bigger. Organized into the Demand Treatment! coalition, a bevy of strange bedfellows is mobilized to increase the number of people receiving drug treatment services. The question for drug reformers is to what degree Demand Treatment! advocates for treatment on demand and to what degree it advocates for treatment rooted in the coercive apparatus of the criminal justice system, or whether it makes any distinction between the two.
The list of sponsoring organizations (http://www.jointogether.org/sa/action/dt/involved/cosponsors/) is not reassuring. While it includes organizations such as the American Bar Association, the Legal Action Center, the Hepatitis Foundation and Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy, it also includes such drug war stalwarts as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and criminal justice professional organizations such as the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. In addition, the entire federal addiction bureaucracy is on board: the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The initiative's "partners," however, do not, for the most part appear to be involved in coerced treatment programs. In Pittsburgh, the Coalition for Leadership, Education and Advocacy for Recovery is educating consumers about quality treatment through medical, religious and criminal justice communities within the city and county and is developing new screening and referral programs in hospital emergency rooms and the corrections system. In Nashville, initiative partners will produce a country music CD, "Songs of Hope, Awareness and Recovery for Everyone," to raise funds and awareness of treatment issues.
In Indianapolis, however, Drug Free Marion County, the recipient of a $120,000 Demand Treatment! grant from the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, will be involved in increasing treatment demand by, among other things, working with the euphemistically-named Employee Assistance programs, which drug test workers and assist them out the door if they refuse treatment upon testing positive.
At a Demand Treatment Leadership Institute meeting in Denver in September, the organization turned to marketing specialists to "sell" the need for addiction treatment to policymakers and the public. Peter Mitchell, a senior marketing specialist for the Academy for Educational Development told attendees lessons from commercial marketing could be applied to what he called social marketing.
While commercial marketing is intended to persuade people to buy certain items, social marketing is aimed at behavioral change, said Mitchell, according to Boston University School of Public Health's Join Together Online treatment news service. "We're trying to get people to reject tobacco or drugs, use seat belts, use condoms, talk about sex, etc.," he explained.
Mitchell advocated a hard-headed marketing approach to increasing the perceived need for drug treatment. Treatment providers need to define the size of the current market share, who the target audience is, and what the goals of the marketing campaign are, he said. Mitchell, who gained fame as the creator of the "Truth" anti-smoking campaign, also called for campaigns with a gritty, urban edge. Earlier campaigns had attracted mainly "nerds," he said, but the Truth campaign made being against big tobacco seem hip and rebellious. "We gave the kids a way to make fun of adults," he explained.
Dr. David Lewis, head of Physician Leadership for National Drug Policy (http://center.butler.brown.edu/plndp/) endorses Demand Treatment! despite concerns raised about coerced treatment. "PLNDP is not endorsing specific policy prescriptions here, we don't take any position on specific approaches," he told DRCNet, "but we do work with Demand Treatment."
Lewis acknowledged that PLNDP's 1997 position paper on drug policy advocated using the interface between the criminal justice and the health systems to reduce supply and demand and specifically mentioned drug courts, but said, "In 1997, people were optimistic about treatment," Lewis said. "Drug courts are at the interface, but the major emphasis of our group is what happens with voluntary treatment, excessive regulations around methadone maintenance, things like that."
For Lewis, the need to redress the existing disparity between resources for criminal justice and resources for prevention and treatment in current state and federal drug budgets is central in the group's alliance with Demand Treatment. "There was a sense that the policy is unbalanced, and we work with these groups to address that disparity," he said.
The question of coerced versus voluntary treatment is unresolved within PLNDP, said Lewis. "Some members say all coerced treatment is bad, while others argue that rehab beats jail. I think California's experience under Proposition 36 is showing that something like drug courts can exist in a way that is not so negative. We try to look at what the data shows, to temper the discussion. Everything is not black and white."
(bulletin from the Andean Information Network)
At approximately 8:45pm on Tuesday, 11/13, union leaders denounced security forces fired at the Permanent Human Rights Assembly office in Eterazama. It is not clear at this time whether the forces fired live ammunition or tear gas canisters. Leaders of the Six Federations of Coca Growers, Evo Morales and Leonilda Zurita, were inside. They were not injured.
Members of the Catholic Church and the Human Rights Ombudsman's office will travel to Eterazama early tomorrow to investigate. Members of the Cochabamba Permanent Human Rights Assembly should arrive later in the day.
Eterazama remains completely surrounded by the security forces, which still do not permit vehicles to enter or leave the town. This order from high-ranking officials clearly violates Article 7 of the Bolivian constitution that guarantees freedom of movement for all citizens. Forces continue to fire tear gas each day. On Saturday, 18 small children suffered from respiratory insufficiency as a result of indiscriminate tear gas use.
The security forces have injured president of the Eterazama Permanent Human Rights Assembly, Rolando Gutierrez Aguilar, three times in the past six days:
It is important to note that treatment received by Bolivian human rights monitors has deteriorated notably during 2001. For example, on January 25 of this year, UMOPAR agents fired at Godofredo Reinicke, Human Rights Ombudsman and his legal assistant, Silvano Arancibia. Although the Attorney General's office opened an investigation into the incident, no apparent progress has been made since February.
On February 22 and 28, family members of Waldo Albarracin, Permanent Human Rights Assembly President received calls that said he had been "sentenced to death." There have been no investigations of these incidents, either.
There have been numerous reports of widespread abuses by the combined forces in the regions of Valle Sajta and Bulo Bulo in the Mamore Federation. Repeated reports of broken wrists and multiple contusions on backs and buttocks exist. AIN is working to obtain more detailed information.
The Chapare Human Rights Ombudsman's office has documented over 70 people injured or detained since November 6. The office also denounced the irregular status of the salaried, non-military Expeditionary Task Force, responsible for the majority of human rights violations since the beginning of November.
AIN asks that the international community contact Bolivian officials to:
Excmo. Sr.(If a voice answers, say: "Fax, por favor" and wait for the tone.)
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.
Other recent bulletins on the Bolivia situation:
Bolivia Forced Eradication Provoking Civil Instability, Indiscriminate Violence by Government Security Forces (9/21)
(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)
Cologne, Germany: The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) is making abstracts available from their first-ever IACM Conference on Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Berlin, Germany.
Presenters at the event included UC San Francisco AIDS researcher Donald Abrams, Marijuana Medical Handbook coauthor Tod Mikuriya, International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) founder Richard Musty and several others.
The IACM is offering a 38-page volume of abstracts (in English only) for $10 (US) or 20 marks (Germany). Abstracts will also be reprinted in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics.
Visit http://www.cannabis-med.org for further information.
In our report last week on election results in New York City and Virginia, the Week Online made two errors. First, based on preliminary election results, we reported that New York City Libertarian candidate Kenny "The Real" Kramer (http://www.kramerformayor.org) edged Marijuana Reform Party (http://www.marijuanareform.org) candidate Tom Leighton in the mayoral race. According to the latest election figures, Leighton garnered 2,800 votes to Kramer's 2,620.
We also misplaced a decimal in estimating what percentage of the vote. With roughly 1.5 million votes cast, Kramer and Leighton were barely able to crack not 1%, as we wrote last week, but one-tenth of 1%. But they still both beat out Bernard Goetz.
In the competition between the Libertarians and the Marijuana Reform Party, the MRP came out ahead across the city. In the race for Public Advocate, the MRP's Chris Launois garnered 20,686 votes (2%) to Libertarian Travis Pahl's 6,626. In the Comptroller's race, the MRP's Tracy ("Medical Marijuana Barbie") Blevins captured 16, 944 (2%) votes to Libertarian James Eisert's 6,628 votes. In the race for Manhattan borough president, MRP candidate Gary Goodrow got 7,358 votes (2%) to Libertarian Scott Jeffrey's 4,065 votes.
MRP founder Tom Leighton told DRCNet that in comparison with the Libertarian's superior party structure, funding advantage, and minor celebrity candidate, and given the total media blackout on the Marijuana Reform Party, "I think the MRP did okay. And, as a result of the Voter Guide [mailed to all eligible voters by the city] being mailed to 3.5 million voters, many more people now know about the MRP and our focus on medical marijuana."
(DRCNet hopes time will bring better days for New York with better chances for drug reform-candidates to get out their message. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/201.html#kennytherealkramer to read our interview with Kenny "The Real" Kramer of Seinfeld fame.)
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 16, 7:00pm-midnight, Kingston, RI, "Damn the Ban: A free concert in response to the recent ban on consumable hemp products." Sponsored by the University of Rhode Island's Hemp Organization for Prohibition Elimination (HOPE), with musical guests Homespun and Phase III. In Edwards Auditorium on URI campus, contact Tom at [email protected] for further information.
November 18, 12:30pm, Durham, NC, "Should Drugs Be Illegal? The Biology of Addiction and Drug Legality." Fall Forum with the Drug War Alternatives Action Group (DWAAG) of Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF), featuring Dr. Cynthia Kuhn of the Duke University Dept. of Pharmacology and co-author of "Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy." In the ERUUF Commons Room, 4907 Garrett Rd., call (919) 489-2575 or e-mail [email protected] for further information or directions.
November 19, 7:00pm, Boston, MA, "War on Terrorism/War on Drugs: What is to be done?" Narco News Teach-In for América, with narconews.com publisher Al Giordano and "Narco Dollars for Dummies" author Catherine Austin Fitts. At Morse Auditorium, 602 Commonwealth Avenue (Blanford stop on the Green Line B train), cosponsored by The Student Underground newspaper at Boston Univ. Visit http://www.narconews.com for further 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 10-12, Cochabamba, Bolivia, "International Conference on Viable Alternative Development in the Andean Region, Including Colombia, Peru and Bolivia." At the Centro Palestra, 578 N. Antezana, between Calle Salamanca and Calle Pacciere, near Plazuela Constitución, $20 registration, includes conference participation, two lunches and refreshments on 10/10-11. The 12th will feature an optional visit to the Chapare region, additional $30 fee, must have documented yellow fever vaccination. For information or to register, contact GeorgeAnn Potter at [email protected].
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.
January 25-27, 2002, New York, NY, "Maternal-State Conflicts: Claims of Fetal Rights & the Well-Being of Women & Families." Conference sponsored by National Advocates for Pregnant Women and the Mt. Sinai Hospital-Based Clinical Education Initiative. For further information, call (212) 475-4218, visit http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org or e-mail [email protected].
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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