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

Issue #218, 1/4/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: Worse Than Nothing
  2. Mississippi Policeman Killed in Late December Drug Raid, Law Enforcement Dissidents Call for Better Way
  3. Draconian New Ecstasy Law Now in Effect in Illinois
  4. Interview: Kenneth Curtis, the South Carolina Urine Felon
  5. Afghan Opium Production Set to Boom Again with Taliban Gone
  6. Shining Path Reemerges in Peru, Maoist Guerrillas Profit from Prohibition in the Andes
  7. London Police Extend Cannabis Decriminalization Experiment
  8. New Hampshire Supreme Court: If Schools Want to Act as Police, They Must Follow Constitutional Standards
  9. Media and Resources: New CSDP Facts Guide, Jefferson Fish in Newsday, Reason Magazine
  10. Job Opening: Santa Monica
  11. Alerts: Bolivia, HEA Drug Provision, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  12. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Editorial: Worse Than Nothing

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 1/4/02

Observers of current events in the mid-1990s might remember the tragic death of Accelyne Williams, a retired priest in the Dorchester area of Boston. Williams had a fatal heart attack after a team of black-clad Boston police officers battered down his door without warning, burst into his home and tackled him to the floor. The police were looking for drugs, of course. They didn't find any. It turned out that a confidential informant of dubious credibility had given them a bad address.

Williams' death, and the resulting public outrage, ought to have given pause to police leaders in Boston and around the country about these reckless no-knock drug raids. But the same thing happened in another Boston neighborhood only two weeks later, though fortunately that raid wasn't fatal.

Not long after the Williams tragedy, I found myself discussing drug policy in a social situation (which happens all too often) with some people I had just met. I pointed out that drug interdiction has proven futile for reducing the drug supply, and that tragedies like that of Accelyne Williams were therefore an unacceptable cost. Why risk killing people when it's known in advance that it won't do any good?

One of the other parties to the conversation responded, "we have to do something." Perhaps. But doing the wrong thing can be worse than doing nothing. The needless fate that was perpetrated upon Accelyne Williams is an example of this. And it's not simply a case of a mistake or an inevitable casualty in an unfortunately necessary drug war. The drug war is not necessary, it is not even helpful, it is a terrible cancer spreading violence, corruption and pain throughout the nation and world.

Accelyne Williams was one man, but examples of doing the wrong thing in the drug war have caused great harm to entire nations as well. Back in the late 1980s, the previous Bush administration waged an expanded drug war in Latin America under the name of "The Andean Initiative." One of the consequences of this policy was to push a substantial share of coca cultivation, which had primarily been centered in Peru, into Colombia.

The drug trade in Peru had certainly not been innocuous, but its harms paled in comparison with the gripping violence that overtook Colombia as the nation became pressed between the violently aggressive Medellin drug cartel on the one hand, and the diplomatically aggressive United States government on the other. Literally hundreds of public officials were slaughtered by Medellin leader Pablo Escobar's assassins, before Colombia managed to take Escobar and his organization down. And for all the pain, no gains were ultimately made against the drug supply, which simply shifted to the province of Cali and its less confrontational drug lords.

US-encouraged anti-opium campaigns in Afghanistan by the Taliban before September 11th, followed by the post-September 11th reprisals against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, have now pushed some of Asia's heroin trade into Peru, where entrepreneurs from neighboring Colombia see an opportunity to garner a share of Europe's lucrative heroin market. The new business is now helping to fund a revival of the terrible Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) rebels, a Pol Pot-style Maoist insurgency that plagued Peru for many years.

Doubtless there will be many more unintended consequences yet to come, as drug warriors frenetically chase drugs from country to country, sometimes catching but never stopping them. Some of them are misguided true believers, some of them are cynical profiteers in it for monetary or political gain, some of them are just doing their job. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because no fundamental difference in the drug or drug trafficking scenes will ever be achieved by governments' drug wars no matter what they do, only changes in faces and shifts in terrain.

The belief, right or wrong, that "we have to do something," does not justify doing the wrong thing again and again. If we have to do something about drugs, there are better things to try besides prohibition.

2. Mississippi Policeman Killed in Late December Drug Raid, Law Enforcement Dissidents Call for Better Way

The war on drugs does not only imprison, wound, and kill drug offenders and innocent bystanders; instead, both sides take casualties in this long-running civil war waged against American citizens by their own government. The latest casualty on the law enforcement side came on the night of December 26, when Prentiss, Mississippi, police officer Ron Jones was shot and killed while serving a drug warrant. Acting as a member of a South Mississippi drug task force, Jones was shot in the abdomen as he attempted to enter the rear of a duplex in Prentiss less than a mile from the town police station.

Jones, 29, the son of Prentiss Police Chief Ronald Jones, was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but a bullet from the gun of 21-year-old Cory Maye, who rented the residence, entered Jones' body just below the bottom of the vest. After being shot, Jones staggered through the house to the front of the duplex, where he met other officers. He died in a police car on the war to the hospital.

Mayes is being held without bond on first-degree murder charges and faces a death sentence or life in prison if convicted. Mayes had no prior criminal record. No drugs were found at the duplex. Local law enforcement officials have refused to say what the officers were searching for or whether Mayes was a suspect in the raid. Two other residents of the duplex were temporarily detained, but then released without charges, the Associated Press reported.

Jones was the 14th law enforcement officer to be killed enforcing the drug laws last year, according to Berneta Spence, director of research for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC. "These 14 were responding to drug-related matters, serving drug warrants, or involved in a drug search," she told DRCNet. The foundation memorializes law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty each year with a May 13 vigil and a May 15 commemoration on National Law Officers Memorial Day. According to Spence, 55 officers have been killed enforcing the drug laws since 1995.

But former San Jose, CA, police chief Joseph McNamara believes that could be a lowball figure. "The number is probably higher than listed because a lot of police officer deaths that are listed only as suspicious or as a traffic stop or other unspecified circumstances are actually drug stops," he told DRCNet. "Going back to the federal government's declaration of a drug war, police are extremely aggressive, and stopping an automobile is always dangerous for police," he said. "You never know if the guy is carrying a kilo of cocaine and looking at a mandatory life sentence."

San Miguel (Colorado) County Sheriff Bill Masters, author of the just published "Drug War Addiction: Notes From the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster," told DRCNet that the toll must also include the thousands of police officers killed trying to enforce US drug policy in countries such as Colombia and Mexico, as well as the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. "Fortunately, the number of law officers killed in the US has dropped dramatically in the past 25 years," he said, "because of better tactics and better analysis of each law officer death. But the flip side is we don't do the same review on innocent people killed by police agents who raid the wrong house or shoot someone who committed no wrong," said Masters.

"The victims are not just police officers killed, but also innocent people killed and the police officers who have to live with the fact that they were put in a position to kill or be killed because of a failed policy," the long-time Colorado sheriff continued. "I really empathize with those officers who are put in that position by legislators and police administrators and who end up either getting hurt or hurting an innocent person."

McNamara, too, expressed great pain at the deaths and their futility. "I look at these numbers year after year with a feeling of enormous sorrow," he said, "because in the back of my mind I always knew that this drug raid or that drug raid was not going to lower drug use in the neighborhood. These raids are highly dangerous to citizens," the Hoover Institute fellow added. "Police SWAT weapons will penetrate houses two or three blocks away. Law enforcement policymakers need to really look at the dangers to police officers and to citizens compared to the lack of permanent benefits you get from a drug raid," McNamara said.

"Those decisions on conducting drug raids with heavily armed police should be made at the highest level by chiefs of police or other top brass, and the question must be: 'Does the risk to police and civilian lives justify the raid?'" McNamara continued. "If you have enough evidence to do the drug raid, why not just wait until the guy goes to the dentist or goes to get his Mercedes serviced?" he asked. "I hate to say it, but I think they make the raid because they want to seize the money."

Sheriff Masters echoed McNamara's comments. "These police officers are being trained with military tactics," he said, "but is this sort of tactic really necessary? Police will argue that the evidence could be destroyed without the element of surprise, but I'm not sure if a few grams of cocaine are worth an officer's life. Certainly not my officers," he said. "I won't put them in that position. It's a disaster waiting to happen."

For McNamara, the heavy-handed police raids and the deaths they generate are only further evidence that "we're fighting the wrong war." In a letter published Wednesday in the New York Times, he noted that during the last few years the number of DEA agents had increased by 26%, while the number of FBI agents increased only 2%. If the FBI had seen a similar expansion "to work against terrorism, the many federal blunders that permitted a devastating act of war against our country most likely would have been avoided," he wrote.

3. Draconian New Ecstasy Law Now in Effect in Illinois

Last summer, in a fit of legislative frenzy fueled by law enforcement and the mass media, Illinois lawmakers passed and Republican Gov. George Ryan signed a law stiffening penalties for even small-time distribution of MDMA, or ecstasy, and other club drugs ( That law went into effect on January 1, making Illinois' ecstasy law one of the harshest in the nation.

Under the new Illinois law, sale of as few as 15 ecstasy tablets will be treated as a Class X felony, like heroin or cocaine sales, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum six-year sentence. Under the old law, persons possessing up to 900 Ecstasy tablets were eligible for probation. The new law also contains provisions allowing authorities to charge ecstasy dealers with "drug-induced homicide" if someone dies after ingesting the drug. Under the old law, dealers had to have sold about 200 tablets in order to be charged with murder in the event of a customer death.

Law enforcement and political figures in Illinois took a handful of rare but highly-publicized club drug-related deaths in the Chicago area in the last two years and created a faux public health and law enforcement crisis that spurred the legislation. Some were still at it as they welcomed the new law this week.

"We've had all these kids dying of overdoses from club drugs, but no one has been held responsible" because the penalties were too light, said Joseph Birkett, the suburban DuPage County state's attorney who led the push for the new law. "These drugs are dangerous, and that's how the law is going to treat them now," he told the Chicago Tribune.

All these kids dying of overdoses? As DRCNet reported in last August's article on the bill, The Illinois Department of Public Health's Center for Health Statistics could not come up with any hard numbers, nor could the governor's office, nor could the Dept. of Public Safety. One death commonly referred to as an "ecstasy overdose," that of 20-year-old Ohio resident James Roberts, occurred following his ingestion in March of both ecstasy and ketamine, a powerful animal tranquilizer. Two other deaths in suburban Chicago last summer which helped to fuel the anti-ecstasy frenzy were actually caused by another drug, PMA, which was fraudulently sold as ecstasy.

And the woman after whom the new law was ceremoniously named (beware of any law named after a sole victim), 23-year-old Kelly Baker of DuPage County, who died of an overdose in 1999, died 800 miles away from Chicago in New Jersey! In a recent series on club drug and heroin use in the Chicago suburbs, the suburban newspaper the Daily Record identified a grand total of one ecstasy death and four deaths from PMA overdoses.

More people die on area roads on a bad day than have died from all club drugs combined in the last few years. But proportion in the drug war seems to be an oxymoron.

4. Interview: Kenneth Curtis, the South Carolina Urine Felon

During the 1990s, South Carolina pipe-fitter Kenneth Curtis, a non-drug user, repeatedly found himself subjected to invasive urine testing for drugs if he wanted to keep his job. Fed up by what he see as an unwarranted intrusion on his privacy, Curtis began a guerrilla crusade against urine testing, forming a company, Privacy Protection Services (, to provide clean urine kits to defeat drug tests.

In response, in 1999 South Carolina legislators passed a bill making it a felony crime to sell urine for the purpose of defeating or defrauding a drug test. Curtis shortly became the first and only person ever charged under the law, and on December 14, he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison, with the possibility of six years if he violates probation or parole.

Curtis, who has used his case as a national soapbox for his attack on the urine testing industry, remains free while pending appeal. DRCNet spoke with Curtis this week from South Carolina, which he is prohibited from leaving as a condition of his appeal bond.

Week Online: What exactly is your business, and what are you hoping to accomplish?

Kenneth Curtis: My business is a platform for free speech directed against the urine testing industry. What we do is provide complete substitution kits that allow anyone to substitute our certified, pre-tested urine sample, because of our objections to the urine testing industry. They can find out a lot more than whether someone is using illicit substances. They can find out medical information that they aren't allowed to ask you by law. I was a pipe-fitter, and got tested about a dozen times a year.

I'm an American, I believe in civil liberties, and I was being presumed guilty without any presumption of innocence. I lay awake at night because I felt raped by the whole experience. I wanted to demonstrate how ridiculously invasive this whole thing is. I wanted to make a point. I'm not trying to help people pass drug tests; I'm trying to attack the whole idea that drug tests are proper in the workplace.

WOL: Don't employers have a right to test employees?

Curtis: That's correct. Impairment testing is logical and reasonable. If someone is in a position where he could potentially endanger the public or other workers, then an impairment test is the way to go. Not urine tests, not hair tests, not tests that measure the metabolic presence of some substance. Those tests do not measure the employee's ability to do the job, but they do allow employers access to health information they couldn't otherwise get. An employer can't ask you if you're diabetic or on anti-depressants, but these drug screens will reveal such information. Employers can use information gathered by urine tests and hair tests to get around fair hiring practices, but the tests can't tell them whether the employee can safely do the job.

WOL: So, how's business?

Curtis: Well, right now I am prohibited from selling any urine, but we're still selling the kits minus the urine. Every time they do something like this, it just drives it on. I wouldn't be doing any business at all if they hadn't drawn attention to me by making it illegal in the first place. Of course, this law was inspired by my activities, it was made for me, directed at me, and enforced against me. And only me. During my trial, we were prepared to provide evidence showing that other companies on the Internet were selling urine kits. The judge wouldn't allow that evidence, but I can't believe South Carolina authorities are not aware of it.

As I've said, the urine wasn't designed to beat drug tests; the whole idea was to illustrate the folly of the drug war and drug testing, to create media attention. What I'm really doing is telling people how easy it is to get over on the urine testing industry, and awareness of the issue is half the fight. I find it interesting that one person like me can foil a billion-dollar industry with just these things. When people stand up and start objecting, things will change. In the meantime, people who support the cause are buying the kits. Not only are you making a statement about the industry, but it's also a good way to aid my legal defense.

WOL: How have you been treated by South Carolina authorities?

Curtis: Selective prosecution is one word, I guess. How about a political vendetta? I've personally lampooned the person responsible for this law, Senate Chairman David L. Thomas (R), on the Montel Williams show, the Today Show, Politically Incorrect, and other national and local venues, and then after two years of leaving me alone, Thomas writes a letter demanding that South Carolina law officers enforce the statute. I tried civil actions and injunctions to keep them from enforcing the law, but the judges threw that out. Then I went to the state law enforcement center with my lawyer and gave the kits away to anyone who would take one. I gave one to the desk seargeant. They took me to the back of the station and called prosecutors, but he said to go home. I did business for two years after that before Thomas sicced the police on me. They did two undercover buys over the Internet, then arranged a purchase near my home. The next thing you know, they're raiding me like I was a drug dealer. Fifteen armed SWAT agents tore my house apart, trashed the place, but took nothing but business records. They didn't even seize my urine! That was a blatant attempt at intimidation -- I mean, kicking doors in and sending in SWAT teams for urine. That has to be a low point in the history of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

WOL: Did things go any better in court?

Curtis: Both the prosecutor and the judge were positively rabid, foaming at the mouth. We had a jury trial, but the judge wouldn't allow us to present any evidence. He made every effort to keep the real story from the jury. And I never had the intent to defraud drug tests, but that doesn't matter in court when the prosecutors say I intended to. It is hard to prove a negative. So I was found guilty, and the judge, true to form, gave me the maximum sentence, six years and a $40,000 fine, although he did suspend all but six months, but that still leaves me under their thumb for years. I wanted to show how ridiculous this whole urine testing law is and what I got is a dramatic illustration of how far the government is willing to go to prop up the war on drugs.

WOL: What now?

Curtis: We're appealing to the State Supreme Court and US federal courts. We are appealing constitutional issues as well as the verdict itself. I'm under a bond stipulation from the judge that I not participate in any business containing urine anywhere in the world. Their whole course is to try to break their opponents financially and thus break their will to fight. But I'm not made that way; all it does is make me madder, more determined.

WOL: You are potentially facing time in prison for your unique form of activism. Any regrets?

Curtis: No regrets. Well, yes, a couple. I regret that a jury of my peers didn't get to hear my defense. And never having been through a criminal proceeding, I now regret my naivete in thinking I could find justice in the criminal courts. I expect to be treated to the worst prison conditions South Carolina has to offer if I lose on appeal, but I will continue my course. I hope the courts will eventually uphold me. I can't believe the Founding Fathers wanted the courts to be doing what they did in South Carolina in my case.

5. Afghan Opium Production Set to Boom Again with Taliban Gone

Tough luck, Myanmar. Reports from US and international drug control bureaucrats and from journalists on the ground in Afghanistan all suggest that the war-torn Central Asian nation is well on its way to regaining the dubious distinction of being the planet's leading opium producer. Myanmar (formerly and more commonly known as Burma) took first place in the opium production sweepstakes last year after the Taliban banned the crop in Afghanistan, but with the strict Islamist regime defeated and a shaky new government in Kabul busy trying to consolidate itself, poor Afghan farmers have already sown thousands of acres of opium poppies for harvest in the spring.

Only last month, US and United Nations drug watchers had pronounced Myanmar, a Southeast Asian military dictatorship, as 2001's world champion opium producer, responsible for 865 tons of the heroin precursor last year, according to the State Department's Annual Survey of Opium Cultivation and Production. Although Myanmar's production declined by more than 200 tons from 2000, the Taliban ban on Afghan opium production allowed the Burmese to creep into first place. Afghan production last year was an estimated 185 tons, down more than 90% from the more than 3,200 tons harvested in 2000, according to a recent UN International Drug Control Program estimate. (The estimate is contained in the 2001 Afghanistan Annual Opium Poppy Survey, online at in the agency's Pakistan-area web site.)

"Afghanistan has gone from producing 70% of the world's opium to less than 10%," UNDCP chief researcher Dr. Sandeep Chawla told a London conference in October.

Even as Chawla was spreading the good news, though, Afghan farmers were taking advantage of the fall of the Taliban and the new government's preoccupation with establishing itself to replant poppy fields they had torn up under Taliban orders last year. Farmers in Northern Alliance-controlled Badakshan province never stopped planting and were responsible for the bulk of the Afghan crop this year. But according to on-the-scene reports from late December in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe, farmers in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in the Afghan southwest and Nangahar province in the east had begun planting again even as American bombs fell in October and November. Now the young plants with their tiny green leaves are visible from major highways and in plain view on the outskirts of Jalalabad, the eastern administrative capital for the new government and staging area for the US and Afghan assault on the nearby Tora Bora cave complexes.

As always, the intrepid reporters found desperately poor peasants who understood all too well the laws of supply and demand. "It's good to be growing poppies again," a barefoot Muhammed Tauib in a village outside Jalalabad told the Chicago Tribune. "At least my family will be able to eat." A farmer's wheat crop gains three cents per pound, the Trib reported, while a pound of opium fetches at least $15. Farmer Shukredeen told the Tribune drought played a role as well. "I have a big field where I can grow lots of wheat or cotton," he said, "but I have no water. So what should I do with my few drops of irrigation water?" he asked the Tribune. "Grow a small bag of vegetables? Or a small bag of opium?"

The UNDCP thinks it knows the answer and does not like what it sees. UNDCP senior policy adviser Mohammed Amirkhizi told the Washington Post last week that "our expectation is that production will go back up to the level of previous years. The international community is extremely concerned," he said.

But there appears little to be done about it, at least before next spring's harvest. Although the new Afghan government committed itself to eliminate opium production at the international conference in Bonn in December that created the new regime in Kabul, new leader Hamid Karzai has yet to announce a new ban. Unnamed "drug control officials" told the Post the renewed prohibition was being negotiated, although whether between Afghanistan and the West or between Karzai and members of the Afghan polity the Post did not say.

According to the Post, concern about renewed Afghan opium supplies has so rattled the Bush White House and the UNDCP that some within both camps are calling for the desperate measure of buying out the entire crop. Others, the Post reported, want to rely on law enforcement combined with development assistance, the traditional carrot and stick approach, which has traditionally ended up being a lot more stick than carrot.

The Post quoted one "US official" as scoffing at the buyback notion. "We are not considering any kind of buyback," he said, arguing that paying for drugs -- even to destroy them -- would set a bad example.

But Knut Ostby, the UN Development Program's Afghanistan representative told the Post that the agency had tried for years to use economic incentives to get farmers to quit growing poppies, without success, and that a buyback could be the only way to prevent Afghan opium from ending up in the veins of heroin users from Iran and Russia to Western Europe and even the US East Coast. "Some form of compensation seems to be the only way to take care of next year's crop," said Ostby. "To have farmers otherwise not harvest their crop would be very difficult for them, and unlikely to work." Ostby also worried about the precedent such a move would set, he said. "But the reality is, there are not so many other options right now."

6. Shining Path Reemerges in Peru, Maoist Guerrillas Profit from Prohibition in the Andes

The law of unintended consequences is playing new havoc with the US drug war in the Andes. As the Americans and their local allies in Bogota apply pressure on the Colombian cocaine and heroin business, the red flag of Maoist insurrection waves once more in Peru, boosted by the arrival of Colombian narco-entrepreneurs looking for friendlier territory and bizarrely held aloft by profits generated by the piratical pure capitalism of the black-market drug trade and.

Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) plunged Peru into a vicious guerrilla war beginning in 1980, as millenarian Inca peasants led by provincial radicals under the banner of Presidente Gonzalo (nom de guerre of party leader Abimael Guzman) seized control of vast swatches of the Andean highlands and carried the war into the capital city, Lima, itself in the name of Marx-Lenin-Mao-Gonzalo Thought. During the period when the insurrection was at its strongest, Shining Path made a fortune and found a mass political base protecting coca-growing peasants from US-backed Peruvian government efforts to eradicate their crops and ensuring that peasants got fair prices from the usually Colombian middle-men who bought their harvests.

Thanks to an also-brutal counterinsurgency campaign led by now disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori and his sinister eminence grise, Vladimiro Montesinos, the Peruvian state broke the back of the insurgency, most spectacularly with the 1992 capture of Gonzalo/Guzman, who remains a prisoner for life in Peru. But the guerrilla war cost some 30,000 lives, and the guerrillas themselves were never completely eradicated.

Now, with coffee and cocoa prices at rock bottom, the heat on in Colombia and Bolivia, and renewed reports of widespread coca and opium poppy plantings, Shining Path is back, according to police officials in Peru cited by the Washington Post and the Independent (UK) newspaper.

According to the Independent, police in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Peru's traditional coca heartland, say that Shining Path guerrillas have reemerged, ambushing police and military forces and imposing their rough order on the drug trade. But there's a new twist. Instead of coca fields, the Maoists are protecting poppy fields and getting protection money from opium farmers and traffickers.

Peruvian police told the Independent that a confluence of events have brought Colombian heroin traffickers into Peru. US drug eradication campaigns in Colombia, while directed primarily at coca, made Colombian traffickers eager to find new locations. When the Peruvian Air Force last spring blasted a plane carrying American missionaries out of the sky over the Amazon, the resulting ban on the US any longer assisting in the aerial shoot-to-kill policy left huge gaps in the counter-narcotics surveillance scheme, which the Colombians were quick to exploit. And when, after September 11, the globally-dominant Afghan heroin industry fell into shambles, the Colombians saw an opportunity to use their existing cocaine trafficking channels to Europe to win a larger share of the lucrative European heroin market.

The Colombians reportedly supplied farmers in the Upper Huallaga and other highland regions of central Peru with poppy seeds, start-up credits, and weapons to protect the lucrative new crops, which gain farmers twice what they could make growing coca.

US authorities were aware of the new development as early as August. In testimony before Congress then, Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement and Narcotics Affairs Rand Beers acknowledged that poppies were on the move. "We're finding it in high altitudes in Peru," he said. "The traffickers understand that more is better than less and that different products are better than a single product," he explained.

At the same time, the US Agency for International Development was reporting on its web site "rapid increases in cultivation of the opium poppy in Peru" as traffickers looked for "geographic regions that are outside of the current target areas."

Similarly, coca production is reported on the increase in Peru. Although the US cited a 70% fall in coca production from 1996 to 2000, local experts scoff. "It is absolutely false that coca production has fallen since mid-1998 and the United States and the Peruvian government know that very well," Hugo Cabieses of the Peruvian Center for Social Studies told the Philadelphia Inquirer in October. Cabieses estimated that 2001 coca cultivation was 173,000 acres, more than double the 1996 figure.

The first of the new round of Shining Path attacks occurred last summer, when guerrillas killed four rural policemen in an ambush. In October, "Yanks Out of Afghanistan" graffiti and flyers bearing the heavy-handed imprint of Shining Path propagandists appeared, and Peruvian intelligence officials claimed to have thwarted a Shining Path plot to blow up the US Embassy in Lima.

Peruvian police are responding with a hundred new police outposts in former Shining Path territory, a Peruvian anti-narcotics officer told the Washington Post. "The guerrillas are trying to capitalize on new strategies to expand the reach of their subversion," said Luis Cruzado. "The Shining Path is at the very least maintaining its size and expanding its presence."

Sendero Luminoso's resurgence poses a real nightmare scenario for US drug warriors -- and anyone concerned about peace and human rights in the region. At its heyday, Shining Path's dogmatic brutality made guerrilla organizations like the Colombian FARC seem like a troop of girl scouts out on a picnic. Now, the Shining Path is reinvigorated, if Peruvian officials are to be believed -- they have self-serving reasons to hype the Senderista threat -- and it is growing strong on the black market profits generated by the drug war. If war is the health of the state, drug prohibition is the health of the insurgency.

7. London Police Extend Cannabis Decriminalization Experiment

The Metropolitan Police's six-month experiment with not arresting cannabis users in the south London borough of Lambeth was due to end on December 31, but will be extended after an interim Scotland Yard study indicated the program was "a complete success," the Guardian newspaper reported last Saturday. The experimental program, in which cannabis users are not arrested but merely "cautioned" and their stashes confiscated, will continue pending the issuance of a Police Foundation review due in February, the newspaper reported.

According to the Guardian, the move is "a sure sign" that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens wants to expand the program to all of London. Stevens has called the no-arrest scheme "sensible and progressive," the paper reported.

The Guardian also noted that the move would encourage Home Secretary David Blunkett to move forward with his announced plan to reschedule cannabis from Class B to Class C, a category reserved for the least dangerous drugs, such as steroids and anti-depressants. Under British law, police cannot arrest people for simple possession of Class C drugs. The Metropolitan Police support that move, wrote the Guardian.

Blunkett is awaiting a report from a parliamentary advisory panel on drug abuse, which will look into the health consequences of cannabis decriminalization. That report is due early this year, and a favorable conclusion could lead to effective decriminalization of cannabis possession throughout Britain as early as March, the newspaper reported.

But even if the law were to change, Britain would not become a safe haven for marijuana users. Police could (and presumably would) continue to "caution" pot-smokers, taking down their names and addresses and seizing their stashes. They have certainly done so in Lambeth, issuing warnings to 381 people between July 2 and November 30, according to police figures. In the same period last year, police in Lambeth arrested 278 people for cannabis possession. In the case of Lambeth, then, the relaxation of enforcement has actually led to an increased number of people harassed by police for cannabis violations.

"Without the full evaluation, it would be wrong to read too much into the figures," a Metropolitan Police spokesman told the Guardian, "but they do show that officers in Lambeth are using the scheme. The number of warnings is higher than the number of arrests, which shows that our officers are not ignoring cannabis possession," he said.

8. New Hampshire Supreme Court: If Schools Want to Act as Police, They Must Follow Constitutional Standards

Three years after then 17-year-old Londonderry High School student Joseph Heirtzler was charged with drug possession and distribution after being questioned and searched by school officials, the New Hampshire Supreme Court gave Heirtzler and legions of New Hampshire students to come a constitutional Christmas present. On December 24, the court ruled that his interrogation and search was unconstitutional because school officials were acting as agents of the police, but failed to afford Heirtzler the constitutional protections (e.g. a Miranda warning) police must grant criminal suspects.

The opinion, written by Chief Justice David Brock, with Justices Joseph Nadeau and Linda Dalianis concurring, upheld a lower court ruling that suppressed the evidence against Heirtzler. Rockingham Superior Court Judge Patricia Coffey threw out the evidence because school officials failed to read Heirtzler his Miranda rights. The state appealed.

Heirtzler's encounter with authority began when a teacher saw him pass a piece of folded tinfoil to another student, who removed something from it, placed the unknown object in a piece of cellophane, then passed the tinfoil back to Heirtzler, according to the Supreme Court opinion. The teacher notified Londonderry police officer Michael Bennett, who was assigned to the school, who in turn passed the information on to Assistant Principal James O'Neill.

"O'Neill and another assistant principal, Robert Shaps, called the defendant to the office, questioned him and asked if they could search him," the court wrote. "The defendant complied with the search request, and a piece of paper wrapped in tinfoil was found in his cigarette pack. After further questioning, the defendant stated that the piece of paper might be LSD."

Re-enter the police. Based on evidence developed by O'Neill and Shaps working in concert with police officer Bennett, Heirtzler was charged with drug possession and distribution. And therein was the constitutional problem.

"Because O'Neill and Shaps were acting as agents of the police and failed to comply with the procedural safeguards required when the state interrogates and searches a defendant, the trial court granted the defendant's motion to suppress," the Court wrote.

Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams told the Manchester Union Leader he disagreed with the ruling. "I don't agree with it, but it's the law, so I'll live with it," he said. "We don't think that the school was acting on the government's behalf or for the government's benefit."

But in its opinion, the court cited unchallenged testimony from the original trial court, writing: "The record supports the trial court's conclusion that a prior agreement existed between the department and school officials for purposes of establishing that an agency relationship existed. Bennett testified that he delegated the responsibility of investigating less serious, potential criminal matters -- drug cases -- to school officials, and O'Neill confirmed that this was a 'fair' characterization of the arrangement between the school and the department... Bennett also conceded that a 'silent understanding' existed between him and school officials that passing information to the school when he could not act was a technique used to gather evidence otherwise inaccessible to him due to constitutional restraints. The school, by "a mere wink or nod" or something more concrete, agreed to investigate certain potential criminal matters on the State's behalf or for its benefit."

The New Hampshire Supreme Court thus put the kibosh on one more effort to circumvent the constitution in the name of a greater good, this time by enlisting school administrators as deputies in the war on drugs.

The case against Heirtzler has not gone to trial yet, but without the evidence derived from the illegal search and seizure, there doesn't appear to be much to try him on. County Attorney Reams conceded as much: "We'll have to review the remaining evidence to see if we have enough to go forward and make our charging decision based on what evidence we have left," Reams told the Union Leader.

9. Media and Resources: New CSDP Facts Guide, Jefferson Fish in Newsday, Reason Magazine

Common Sense for Drug Policy, the publishers of the extensive drug policy reference "Drug War Facts," has now released a companion publication, "Top Drug Warrior Distortions." Readers are urged to check it out and use it in your writing and debates. Visit for the new publication, and for the original.

Dr. Jefferson Fish, a psychology professor and former department chairman at St. John's University, has published an op-ed in the New York-area paper Newsday, titled "Divert Drug-Bust Money to War on Terrorism." Fish is the editor of "Is Our Drug Policy Effective? Are There Alternatives?" and "How to Legalize Drugs." The op-ed can be read online at:

Reason magazine has posted articles from its recent drugs issue and other articles of interest online:

Seized by Failure, by Joel Miller,

Sex, Drugs, & Techno Music, by Jacob Sullum

Battlefield Conversions

A Splendid Little Drug War, by Glenn Garvin

10. Job Opening: Santa Monica

A well-established Santa Monica, CA organization needs someone to be chiefly responsible for building and marketing non-political Pro/Con presentations of key social issues. The organization's current project is one of interest to drug policy,

The job requires web-based editing/journalism and researching skills. Substantial web and word processing skills are necessary. This person would talk to VIPs and others on both sides of issues. The person must be nice, exhibiting no edge, precise, and capable of separating fact from propaganda. Being thorough, creative and punctual are important. The position probably requires a Masters degree or higher.

The work will generally be 80% non-profit issues and 20% or less on other administrative functions for the for-profit parent company, A-Mark Financial ( The position will report directly to AMF's Chairman.

Salary is $35,000. Benefits include full healthcare insurance and 401k. If you are interested, please e-mail [email protected] or fax (310) 319-0310 a one-page critical analysis of, why you think you may be well-suited for the position, resume and salary history, attn: L. Sutherland. No phone calls.

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

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

US Drug Policy Driving Bolivia to Civil War

Repeal the Higher Education Act Drug Provision

Oppose DEA's Illegal Hemp Ban

Oppose New Anti-Ecstasy Bill

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences

Support Medical Marijuana

12. The Reformer's Calendar

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

January 5, 9:00am-noon, Santa Fe, NM, drug policy forum preluding the 2002 state legislative session. Featuring Ethan Nadelmann and Katherine Huffman of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, corner of Barcelona Rd. and Galisteo St. Contact Trish Steindler at (505) 438-0518 or [email protected] for further information.

January 8, 7:00pm, New York, NY, Marijuana Reform Party of New York meeting. E-mail [email protected] or call (212) 439-4860 for location, visit for further information about the MRP.

January 20, 1:00pm, Berkeley, CA, California NORML new year's activist meeting. Topics to include DEA's action against the medical marijuana clubs, federal and state legislation, and other topics. At 2747 San Pablo Ave., RSVP to Dale Gieringer, [email protected].

January 21, Albany, NY, Drop the Rock press conference opposing the Rockefeller Drug Laws, marking Martin Luther King Day. Near the Empire State Convention Center, followed by speakers, awards presentations, entertainment and a march on the capitol. Visit for information.

January 24, 7:30pm, Melbourne, FL, "Express Yourself: A Guide to the First Amendment," role-playing workshop dealing with direct action, petition gathering and tabling for nonprofits. At the Melbourne Community Center, 703 East New Haven Avenue, call Kevin at (321) 726-6656 for further information.

January 25-27, 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 or e-mail [email protected].

January 26, 8:30am-4:30pm, Pasadena, CA, "Unlocking Los Angeles: LA and the Prison Industrial Complex," conference of the Criminal Justice Consortium. At All Saints Church, 132 North Euclid Ave., e-mail [email protected], visit or call (626) 296-3338 for further information.

January 26, 9:30pm-3:00am, Miami, FL, Benefit Concert for the medical marijuana petition drive. At the Tobacco Road Night Club, 626 South Miami Avenue, call Flash at (305) 579-0069 for info.

January 29, Tallahassee, FL, Florida State University NORML weekly chapter meeting, featuring guest speaker Kris Krane, national chapter coordinator for NORML. Contact Ricky at (850) 386-5628 for further information.

February 5, Tallahassee, FL, Florida State University NORML weekly chapter meeting, featuring guest speaker Jodi James, director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network. Contact Ricky at (850) 386-5628 for further information.

February 16, Albany, NY, Drop The Rock Upstate-Downstate Coalition Organizers Conference, at the Schuyler Inn, 575 Broadway. Call (518) 463-1121 or visit for information.

February 21-23, Washington, DC, National Families Against Mandatory Minimums Workshop. At the Washington Plaza Hotel, call (202) 822-6700 or visit for information.

February 23, noon, Tampa, FL, "Washington's Birthday Hemp Festival." Sponsored by FORML, featuring music, vendors, speakers and more. At Lowry Park, contact Mike at (813) 779-2551 for further information.

February 28, 7:30pm, Melbourne, FL, "Marijuana: Medical Effects and Legal Consequences." At the Melbourne Community Center, 703 East New Haven Avenue, contact Jodi at (321) 253-3673 for info.

February 28-March 1, 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, Executive Director of 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, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 13th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm and 2nd International Harm Reduction Congress on Women and Drugs. Sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Association, visit or e-mail [email protected] for info.

March 14, 7:30pm, Court Watch Project Training Meeting. At the Melbourne Community Center, 703 East New Haven Avenue, with the Florida Cannabis Action Network, call Kevin at (321) 726-6656 for further information.

March 24-27, Rimini, Italy, "Club Health 2002: The Second International Conference on Night-Life, Substance Use and Related Health Issues." Visit for info.

March 26, Albany, NY, "Drop The Rock Day," march and demonstration against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Visit for information.

April 8-13, 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 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

April 18-20, San Francisco, CA, 2002 NORML Conference. At the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Union Square, registration $150, call (202) 483-5500 for further information. Online registration will be available at soon.

April 20, noon, Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Hemp Festival. Contact Scott at (904) 732-4785 for further information.

May 3-4, Portland, OR, Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, focus on Analgesia and Other Indications. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time and Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, for further information visit or call (804) 263-4484.

December 1-4, Seattle, WA, Fourth National Harm Reduction Conference. Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General, at the Sheraton Seattle. For further info, visit or call (212) 213-6376.

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