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

Issue #223, 2/8/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Hate Mongering
  2. DEA Backs Off a Bit on Hemp Foods, Extends "Grace Period" Before Ban for 40 Days
  3. The Bush 2003 Drug Budget: More of the Same, More for Colombia, More for the DEA
  4. DRCNet Interview: Noam Chomsky
  5. Bush Administration Seeks to Widen Colombian Intervention as Human Rights Groups Denounce Abuses
  6. Federal Judge Throws Out Glow Stick, Pacifier Ban in New Orleans Rave Case
  7. Cincinnati Again Asks Federal Courts to Revive Drug Exclusion Zone
  8. Backlash Emerges as Texas Drug Task Forces Run Amok
  9. Seismic Shift in Sentencing Policies Underway: Declining Crime Rates, Budget Woes Cited
  10. Media Scan: Alan Bock, Arianna Huffington, Foreign Policy in Focus, ABC News on Hemp Foods
  11. Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  12. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Editorial: Hate Mongering

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 2/8/02

When I first heard about the government's SuperBowl ad buy attempting to link drug use with funding of terrorism and violence -- kids saying things like "I helped murder families in Colombia" or "I helped kidnap people's dads" or "I helped kids learn how to kill" -- I wasn't at all surprised. I fully expected the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to dishonor our slain and profiteer off of this tragedy for their own purposes, and the extreme repulsiveness and dishonesty of this particular ad seemed right in character with the drug warriors' standard modus operandi.

Don't get me wrong. Some drug use does indirectly contribute to terrorist activity. Not most of it, but some of it to be sure. But so does oil consumption -- minivans, SUVs, cars, motorcycles, home heating, the works -- not most of it, but some of it. Even if Osama bin Laden wasn't directly involved in the oil business, the contracts awarded to his family's construction company had to ultimately be paid for by something. And oil money created the rich Saudi dictators who fund the plethora of extreme religious fundamentalist schools and institutions throughout the Middle East that have fanned the flames of hatred and legitimized terrorist activity in the eyes of many from those societies, attempting through such "philanthropy" to purchase a cheap legitimacy that autocracies can never earn in any deeper sense.

Still, it is true that buying drugs on the illicit market does help to fuel a wide range of unsavory activity both within and without our borders. It would be morally one-dimensional to deny this. But if the individual user of heroin or cocaine does help to "kidnap people" or "murder families" -- grotesque hyperbole at best -- the government has effectively facilitated all such violence. It is the government that prohibits drugs, and it is only this illegality that causes drug money to be associated with violence any more than regular money. After all, why does opium grown in Australia for pain medicine and anesthesia contribute nothing to global violence, while opium grown in Colombia or Afghanistan or Burma for illegal heroin does? The plants are the same, only the laws are different. And pathological or not, that money also provides employment to a lot of people who in truth have no other realistic opportunities for employment. During a recession of all times, this shouldn't be hard to understand.

After September 11th, we in the drug reform movement wrung our hands and agonized for weeks over whether or how we should draw attention to the role that drug prohibition plays in funding terrorism. I believe that the work done on that issue since then, by allies such as Common Sense for Drug Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, ReconsiDer, even a little bit here at DRCNet, has shown intellectual integrity and has been done with tact and respect to the victims and their survivors. None of this can be said about the ONDCP's propagandistic, hate-mongering advertisement.


2. DEA Backs Off a Bit on Hemp Foods, Extends "Grace Period" Before Ban for 40 Days

Acting under the threat of an emergency motion filed by hemp foods industry attorneys to block the DEA's new interpretive rules banning hemp foods from taking effect on Wednesday, the DEA Thursday quietly informed industry representatives that it would extend the "grace period" until the new rules are enforced for forty days. The new rule would bar the sale and consumption of foods made with hemp and hemp oil containing even trace elements of THC, even though the hemp food industry already adheres to internationally recognized standards.

In a letter from the DEA Office of Chief Counsel made available to DRCNet, senior DEA attorney Daniel Dormont advised Hemp Industries Association (HIA) attorney Susan Christian that in response to a question from the court the DEA was extending the grace period. "In view of the court's inquiry," wrote Dormont, "DEA will extend the grace period for an additional 40 days through March 18, 2002. As we discussed, this should allow the court to rule on the motion prior to expiration of the grace period."

"We see this as a victory on several levels," said David Bronner, head of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee, which is leading the effort to block the ban. "We've already been getting good coverage in the press, and now they'll go nuts," he told DRCNet. "Politically, we hope that congressmen who are sitting on the fence will start to see how ridiculous this is and begin writing to the DEA. That could lead to the agency agreeing to a rule-making process with the industry where we can set realistic standards for trace THC levels," said Bronner. "And legally, this letter implicitly acknowledges that DEA was going to enforce the new rules. This is important because it gives us clear legal standing in filing our emergency motion."

The emergency motion filed by HIA attorneys came on the heels of an earlier motion seeking a temporary stay on enforcement of the new DEA rules. The court had not ruled on the temporary stay by Wednesday, the day the new rules were slated to take effect, but had asked the DEA whether it intended to begin enforcing the new rules, which would effectively remove foods containing hemp and hemp oil from American store shelves. By extending the grace period, the DEA avoided directly addressing the court's question, Bronner noted.

But the agency was clearly moving to enforce the ban, warning Whole Foods, one of the nation's largest hemp food retailers, that absolutely no trace THC would be acceptable. In a letter obtained by DRCNet, Whole Foods' Mary Margaret Graham explained to hemp food suppliers, "After a great deal of effort, WFM [Whole Foods Market] has received clarification from the DEA as to the documentation necessary for us to continue carrying food and nutritional supplements containing hemp. Here's what we need: A statement on your stationery, signed by the president of your company, which states that you attest to the fact that your products contain no amount of THC. There can be no qualifications to this statement, such as 'no detectable,' or a reference to the product or ingredient having been tested to 1 ppm, or that it contains 0.00% THC. You have to be able to say that it has none. We have to have this on file by this afternoon, Tuesday, February 5, at 5 pm EST, or we will have to pull your products from our shelves tomorrow. I apologize for the late notice, but please know we have been diligently trying to get this information from the DEA."

"Now, that's an emergency," said Bronner. "Although we can certify through programs such as Test Pledge (http://www.testpledge.com) that hemp foods contain no more than a certain level of trace residual THC, we cannot certify that no infinitesimal amounts will be there. We filed the emergency motion because hemp foods were being taken off the shelves." Bronner and VoteHemp, an organization with ties to HIA, also marked the occasion with a "hill drop," delivering hemp chips and pretzels and explanatory literature to Congressional offices.

The industry continues to be willing to work with the DEA to set reasonable standards, said Bronner. "What we are looking for is to work with the agency to set realistic trace THC standards such as the Canada Protocols used by Test Pledge. These are standards that protect the public health and safety without imposing an undue burden on a legitimate industry."

And if the DEA won't deal, the legal challenge remains in the works.


3. The Bush 2003 Drug Budget: More of the Same, More for Colombia, More for the DEA

The Bush administration this week presented its proposed 2003 drug budget as part of its overall 2003 budget proposal. While some programs saw increases in funding and some saw decreases, anti-drug spending by the federal government will be essentially unchanged from this year, if the budget proposal passes intact. Overall federal drug control funding will total $19.2 billion in the 2003 budget, a 2% increase over the current year. That increase, which barely keeps up with the rate of inflation, is in line with budget growth in other federal government spending.

"This is the drug war on autopilot," said Kevin Zeese, executive director of Common Sense for Drug Policy (http://www.csdp.org), a Washington-based drug reform group. "With new drug czar John Walters, I thought we might see some change -- not necessarily for the better -- but I guess not," he told DRCNet.

While the federal drug control profile remains essentially unchanged, there are some programmatic winners and some losers. President Bush's war in Colombia, funded as the Andean Regional Initiative, will see spending increase 17% to $731 million in 2003. And with the president's new-found commitment to volunteerism in the wake of September 11, funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service will see a 53% increase, to $14 million. Similarly, Bush's community policing initiative will see a 53% increase, to $653 million.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the federal drug war's lead agency, also will get more money, with the $1.7 billion budgeted for 2003 representing a 6% increase over this year. And the US Coast Guard, whose drug interdiction efforts have been hampered by other priorities since September 11, will see a 16% increase.

One of the most surprising budgetary losers is HIDTA, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which was set up to help law enforcement agencies zero in on areas designated by the drug czar's office as "centers" of major drug production or trafficking. But the HIDTA program has grown from five HIDTAs in 1990 to 28 HIDTAs today, including such hotbeds of major drug trafficking as South Dakota. The inclusion of places like South Dakota in HIDTAs is probably more related to the position of South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle as Senate majority leader than to extremely high levels of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program seems to have become a new form of pork barrel politics, with standard boilerplate justifications that the presence of a highway, a railroad, an airport, or a seaport represents "a possible drug trafficking route."

Even the drug czar's office hints at agreement. "Much of the increase in the HIDTA program is a result of congressional direction of funds to specific HIDTAs," it wrote in its introduction to the drug budget. "However, there are questions about whether some of these areas deserve to be designated as HIDTAs. No systematic evaluation of the HIDTA program has been conducted and no credible performance measures have been developed."

The 2003 drug budget will cut HIDTA spending by 9%, for a total next year of $206 million.

Other losers in the 2003 drug budget are bureaucratic coordinating mechanisms, such as the Intelligence Community Management Account, down 20%, and the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs, down a whopping 68% from nearly a billion dollars this year to only $309 million next year.

Drug treatment will see a funding boost, with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Targeted Capacity Expansion program getting an additional $110 million and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program, which provides funding for state prevention and treatment services, getting a $60 million dollar increase.

But, in the words of the budget introduction, "the majority of those who need treatment do not seek it voluntarily," so the Bush drug budget includes $77 million for grants to states for prison-based drug treatment programs and $52 million for the Drug Courts program, which it lauds as "forcing abstinence from drugs and altering behavior with escalating sanctions, mandatory drug testing, treatment, and strong aftercare programs."

"This is a significant increase, but it doesn't affect the overall posture of the budget," said Bill McColl, legislative analyst for Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org -- formerly The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation). "The amount of money going to law enforcement and source country interdiction remains at about 70% of the drug budget, while treatment and prevention remain at about 30%," he told DRCNet. "This is the same old policy we've seen for the last 30 years."

And the amount of treatment funding ending up as coerced treatment could be even higher than the budget indicates, McColl added. "These guys are really into coerced treatment, and some of the block grants to the states could well end up going to coerced treatment programs," he said.

CDSP's Zeese also criticized the treatment spending. "It is a real increase, but much of it is tied to coercion -- treatment by police choice -- and it is also very much faith-based. Both of these will hurt treatment by making it less professional and less effective," he said.

Finally, the 2003 federal drug budget anticipates significant increases in funds derived from asset forfeitures. The Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture Fund, for example, is looking forward to seizing $430 million dollars during the coming budget year, a 19% increase from this year.

"I've heard of a few towns in California trying to write projected seizure profits into their budgets," said McColl. "Here we have the federal government leading by example."


4. DRCNet Interview: Noam Chomsky

MIT professor Noam Chomsky has long been one of the nation's most implacable critics of US foreign policy and domestic inequity, as well as its highly-concentrated mass media. Lauded by the New York Review of Books as "America's leading radical intellectual," Chomsky has authored dozens of books on US policy in the Middle East, Latin America, the former Yugoslavia and East Timor, among others, as well as "Manufacturing Consent," a scathing critique of propagandistic corporate media. A proud anarchist -- he defines anarchism as "a tendency in the history of human thought and action which seeks to identify coercive, authoritarian, and hierarchic structures of all kinds and to challenge their legitimacy, and if they cannot justify their legitimacy, which is quite commonly the case, to work to undermine them and expand the scope of freedom" -- Chomsky is a legendary American political dissident whose campus appearances regularly bring out thousands of students. The Week Online spoke with the distinguished linguist and essayist from his office at MIT.

Week Online: During Sunday's SuperBowl, the drug czar's office ran a series of paid ads attempting to link drug use and the "war on terrorism." If you use drugs, the ads said, you support terrorism. What is your take on this?

Noam Chomsky: Terrorism is now being used and has been used pretty much the same way communism was used. If you want to press some agenda, you play the terrorism card. If you don't follow me on this, you're supporting terrorism. That is absolutely infantile, especially when you consider that much of the history of the drug trade trails right behind the CIA and other US intervention programs. Going back to the end of the second world war, you see -- and this is not controversial, it is well-documented -- the US allying itself with the French Mafia, resulting in the French Connection, which dominated the heroin trade through the 1960s. The same thing took place with opium in the Golden Triangle during the Vietnam War, and again in Afghanistan during the war against the Russians.

WOL: The cocaine trade is the primary given reason for US intervention in Colombia's civil war. In your opinion, to what degree is the drug angle a pretext? And a pretext for what?

Chomsky: Colombia has had the worst human rights record in the hemisphere in the last decade while it has been the leading recipient of US arms and training for the Western Hemisphere and now ranks behind only Israel and Egypt worldwide. There exists a very close correlation that holds over a long period of time between human rights violations and US military aid and training. It's not that the US likes to torture people; it's that it basically doesn't care. For the US government, human rights violations are a secondary consequence. In Colombia, as elsewhere, human rights violations tend to increase as the state tries to violently repress opposition to inequality, oppression, corruption, and other state crimes for which there is no political outlet. The state turns to terror -- that's what's been happening in Colombia for a long time, since before there was a Colombian drug trade. Counterinsurgency has been going on there for 40 years; President Kennedy sent a special forces mission to Colombia in the early 1960s. Their proposal to the Colombian government was recently declassified, and it called for "paramilitary terror" -- those are their words -- against what it called known communist proponents. In Colombia, that meant labor leaders, priests, human rights activists, and so on. Colombian military manuals in the 1960s began to reflect this advice. In the last 15 years, as the US has become more deeply involved, human rights violations are up considerably.

On a more serious point, suppose that the drug pretext were legitimate. Suppose that the US really is trying to get rid of drugs in Colombia. Does Colombia then have the right to fumigate tobacco farms in Kentucky? They are producing a lethal substance far more dangerous than cocaine. More Colombians die from tobacco-related illnesses than Americans die from cocaine. Of course, Colombia has no right to do that.

WOL: Domestically, state, local, and federal governments have spent tens of billions of dollars on the "war on drugs," yet illicit drugs remain as available, as pure, and as cheap as ever. If this policy is not accomplishing its stated goal, what is it accomplishing? Is there some sort of latent agenda being served?

Chomsky: They have known all along that it won't work, they have good evidence from their own research studies showing that if you want to deal with substance abuse, criminalization is the worst method. The RAND report did a cost-effectiveness analysis of various drug strategies and it found that the most effective approach by far is prevention and treatment. Police action was well below that, and below police action was interdiction, and at the bottom in terms of cost-effectiveness were out-of-country efforts, such as what the US is doing in Colombia. President Nixon, by contrast, had a significant component for prevention and treatment that was effective.

US domestic drug policy does not carry out its stated goals, and policymakers are well aware of that. If it isn't about reducing substance abuse, what is it about? It is reasonably clear, both from current actions and the historical record, that substances tend to be criminalized when they are associated with the so-called dangerous classes, that the criminalization of certain substances is a technique of social control. The economic policies of the last 20 years are a rich man's version of structural adjustment. You create a superfluous population, which in the US context is largely poor, black, and Hispanic, and a much wider population that is economically dissatisfied. You read all the headlines about the great economy, but the facts are quite different. For the vast majority, these neoliberal policies have had a negative effect. With regard to wages, we have only now regained the wage levels of 30 years ago. Incomes are maintained only by working longer and harder, or with both adults in a family working. Even the rate of growth in the economy has not been that high, and what growth there is has been highly concentrated in certain sectors.

If most people are dissatisfied and others are useless, you want to get rid of the useless and frighten the dissatisfied. The drug war does this. The US incarceration rate has risen dramatically, largely because of victimless crimes, such as drug offenses, and the sentences are extremely punitive. The drug war not only gets rid of the superfluous population, it frightens everybody else. Drugs play a role similar to communism or terrorism, people huddle beneath the umbrella of authority for protection from the menace. It is hard to believe that these consequences aren't understood. They are there for anyone to see. Back when the current era of the drug war began, Senator Moynihan paid attention to the social science, and he said if we pass this law we are deciding to create a crime wave among minorities.

For the educated sectors, all substance abuse was declining in the '90s, whether we're talking about cocaine or cigarette smoking or eating red meat. This was a period in which cultural and educational changes were taking place that led the more educated sectors to reduce consumption of all sorts of harmful substances. For the poorer sectors, on the other hand, substance abuse remained relatively stable. Looking at these curves, we see that what will happen, it is obvious you will be going after poor sectors. Some legal historians have predicted that tobacco would be criminalized because it is associated with poorer and less-educated people. If you go to McDonald's, you see kids smoking cigarettes, but I haven't seen a graduate student who smoked cigarettes for years. We are now beginning to see punitive consequences related to smoking, and of course the industry has seen this coming for years. Phillip Morris and the rest have begun to diversify and to shift operations abroad.

WOL: Many ardent drug reformers are self-identified Libertarians. As an anarchist -- I assume it is fair to call you that -- what is your take on libertarianism?

Chomsky: The term libertarian as used in the US means something quite different from what it meant historically and still means in the rest of the world. Historically, the libertarian movement has been the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement. Socialist anarchism was libertarian socialism. In the US, which is a society much more dominated by business, the term has a different meaning. It means eliminating or reducing state controls, mainly controls over private tyrannies. Libertarians in the US don't say let's get rid of corporations. It is a sort of ultra-rightism.

Having said that, frankly, I agree with them on a lot of things. On the drug issue, they tend to oppose state involvement in the drug war, which they correctly regard as a form of coercion and deprivation of liberty. You may be surprised to know that some years ago, before there were any independent left journals, I used to write mainly for the Cato Institute journal.

WOL: What should be done about drug use and the drug trade?

Chomsky: I agree with RAND. It is a problem. Cocaine is not good for you. If you want to deal with substance abuse, the approach should be education, prevention, rehabilitation and so forth. That is what we have successfully done with other substances. We did not have to outlaw tobacco to see a reduction in use; that is the result of cultural and educational changes. One must always be cautious in recommending social policy because we can't know what will happen, but we should be exploring steps toward decriminalization. Let's undertake this seriously and see what happens. An obvious place to begin is with marijuana. Decriminalization of marijuana would be a very sensible move. And we need to begin shifting from criminalization to prevention. Prevention and treatment are how we should be addressing hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.


5. Bush Administration Seeks to Widen Colombian Intervention as Human Rights Groups Denounce Abuses

Even as the Bush administration moves for the first time to overtly intervene in Colombia's decades-old civil war -- previous US assistance has been officially limited to counternarcotics missions -- a trio of high-powered human rights watchdog groups have blasted the Colombian government's compliance with human rights conditions attached to US military assistance packages.

In what would represent an ominous shift in US policy, the 2003 budget proposed by the Bush administration on Monday allocates funds to assist the Colombian military in fending off rebel attacks on a US-owned oil pipeline. Until now, US policy has officially focused on eradicating drugs and the drug trade. The $98 million dollar appropriation is part of the $731 million budgeted for next year's installment of Bush's anti-drug Andean Initiative, the bulk of which will go to Colombia.

As a high-ranking US delegation met in Bogota with Colombian officials, its members began making the case for the new, more aggressive posture. "We are not saying this is counterdrug, this is different," said one official to reporters at a Bogota hotel on Tuesday. "The proposition we are making to the government of Colombia and our Congress is that we ought to take an additional step."

"Oh, no," said Cristina Espinel, co-chair of the Colombian Human Rights Committee (http://www.igc.org/colhrnet/). "I am a human rights activist from Colombia and I am amazed that the US wants to promote more war in my country," she told DRCNet. "We don't want any more war, we don't want more military aid, we don't want more guns to kill people. We need peace and social development, but the US government only wants to promote more violence."

Some of Espinel's concerns are being shared by prominent American politicians. "For the first time, the administration is proposing to cross the line from counternarcotics to counterinsurgency," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the foreign operations subcommittee, told the New York Times. "This is no longer about stopping drugs, this is about fighting guerrillas."

"This is not what was debated in Congress when Plan Colombia was passed," said Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN). "We are getting deeper into this conflict."

In so doing, the Bush administration is making a travesty of the human rights certification requirement, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). In a brief delivered to the State Department on February 1, the three human rights groups slammed the Colombian government for failing to comply with basic human rights conditions, such as removing members of the armed forces accused of atrocities, subjecting soldiers accused of human rights abuses to civilian instead of military trials, and breaking ties between the military and the right-wing paramilitaries. In an irony apparently lost on Washington, the paramilitaries, who are officially designated a terrorist group by the State Department, are allied with the Colombian forces ready to fight the war on terrorism with US military assistance.

"[We] conclude that Colombia's government has not, to date, satisfied these [human rights] conditions," wrote Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and WOLA. "So far, the Colombian government has not suspended security force officers against whom there is credible evidence of human rights abuse or support for paramilitary groups, including extra-judicial killings, or to have aided or abetted paramilitary groups; nor has the Colombian Armed Forces demonstrated that they are cooperating with civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities in prosecuting and punishing in civilian courts those members of the Colombian Armed Forces, of whatever rank, who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights; nor has Colombia's government, including the armed forces, taken effective measures to sever all links at the command, battalion, and brigade levels, with paramilitary groups, and execute outstanding orders for capture for members of such groups."

Secretary of State Colin Powell must certify to Congress by the end of this month whether Colombia is complying with those conditions. In so doing, he will have to explain away the 92 massacres recorded there in the first ten months of 2001. As the human rights groups note, "Most were linked to paramilitary groups working with the tolerance or support of the security forces."

He will also have to explain away "five massacres carried out by paramilitaries in 2001 and January of 2002 in which there is credible evidence that Colombian military units either took direct part or allowed the killings to take place and the perpetrators to escape."

And he will have to explain why "certain military units and police detachments continued to promote, work with, support, profit from, and tolerate paramilitary groups, treating them as a force allied to and compatible with their own. At their most brazen, these relationships involved active coordination during military operations between government and paramilitary units; communication via radios, cellular telephones, and beepers; the sharing of intelligence, including the names of suspected guerrilla collaborators; the sharing of fighters, including active-duty soldiers serving in paramilitary units and paramilitary commanders lodging on military bases; the sharing of vehicles, including army trucks used to transport paramilitary fighters; coordination of army roadblocks, which routinely let heavily-armed paramilitary fighters pass unchallenged; and payments made from paramilitaries to military officers for their support."

The US government is spending a billion dollars a day in its war against terrorism, which it has repeatedly made clear is directed not just at terrorists themselves, but those who support terrorism. Only courageous action in Congress can fend off the dire prospect in which, if the logic of the anti-terror struggle were to be pursued, the Pentagon would have to bomb itself.

(Visit http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/02/colombia020502.htm for the press release and certification briefing provided by the three human rights groups.)


6. Federal Judge Throws Out Glow Stick, Pacifier Ban in New Orleans Rave Case

In a dismal last gasp to the federal government's ill-fated effort to wage its war on MDMA (ecstasy) and the rave culture via the federal "crack house" statutes, a federal judge in New Orleans permanently barred federal agents from banning mask, pacifiers and glow sticks at the city's State Theatre dance venue. The US Attorney in New Orleans, John Murphy, had originally threatened the club's managers, brothers Robert and Brian Brunet, and promoter Donny Estopinal, with 25 years in prison under the crack house statute, which was originally aimed at people selling drugs on their properties. But that case crumbled, and the feds reached a plea agreement where one company owned by the brothers paid a $100,000 fine. As part of that settlement, the State Theatre agreed to ban the rave culture accoutrements, which in the view of the DEA constituted drug paraphernalia.

But the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Drug Policy Litigation Project, acting on behalf of local rave-goers and performers, filed suit in federal court in August. The ACLU asked for and won a temporary injunction quashing the ban at that time (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/201.html#glowsticks). On Tuesday, US District Court Judge G. Thomas Porteous made the temporary injunction against the ban permanent.

In ruling against the government, Porteous noted that while there is a "legitimate government interest" in curtailing illegal drug use, "the government cannot ban inherently legal objects that are used in expressive communication because a few people use the same legal item to enhance the effects of an illegal substance." Porteous also noted that "there is no conclusive evidence that eliminating the banned items has reduced the amount of ecstasy use at raves."

And in a stern rebuke of drug war excesses under the Bush administration, Porteous concluded, "when the First Amendment right of Free Speech is violated by the Government in the name of the War on Drugs, and when that First Amendment violation is arguably not even helping in the War on Drugs, it is the duty of the Courts to enjoin the government from violating the rights of innocent people."

Calling the ruling a "major victory," Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project put overzealous drug warriors on notice. "Today's decision should send a message to government that the way to combat illegal substance abuse is not through intimidation and nonsensical laws," he said in a statement announcing the ruling.

Joe Cook, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, welcomed the court's unambiguous defense of free speech rights. "We the people should rejoice in this blow for our rights and not allow any of our freedoms to become a casualty in the war on drugs," he said. This time, at least, freedom won the day.


7. Cincinnati Again Asks Federal Courts to Revive Drug Exclusion Zone

Some folks just don't get it. After being slapped down by both the Ohio Supreme Court and the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in two separate cases, the city of Cincinnati last week asked a federal appeals court to reinstate an ordinance that banned convicted or accused drug offenders from entering Over-the-Rhine, the inner city neighborhood that erupted in the worst race rioting in the past decade last April.

Passed by the city council in 1996 and in effect until January 2000, when a US District judge ruled it unconstitutional, the "drug exclusion zone" ordinance resulted in more than 1500 people being banned from Over-the-Rhine during that period, according to a Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) report on coverage of the riots. The neighborhood, featured in the movie "Traffic" as the squalid locale where drug czar Michael Douglas searches for his melodramatically and meteorically fallen daughter, has been ground zero in Cincinnati's drug war. Over-the-Rhine, with 7,600 residents, has had a staggering 2,300 drug arrests per year since 1995, according to CJR.

Critics have called Over-the-Rhine, where a police shooting of an unarmed young African-American (the 15th black man to die at the hands of Cincinnati police since 1995) sparked the rioting "over-policed," but the good white burghers of Cincinnati feel they haven't done enough. On February 2, the city asked the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the district judge's ruling that the exclusion zone punishes people twice for the same offense and that it violates First Amendment rights to freedom of association by limiting a person's right to move freely in public areas.

"Governments have not only a right but a duty to remediate areas blighted by drug use," assistant city solicitor Richard Ganulin told the court. "We have to balance the government's interests with the rights of the individual." He said the zone law was needed because Over-the-Rhine made up about 20% of drug-related arrests in the city.

Maybe that had something to do with all the enforcement activity in a neighborhood with gentrification nibbling at the edges. "We got [police video] cameras on the corner watching people, we got drug laws excluding them, yet they have no effect in fighting crime," the Rev. Damon Lynch III, a Baptist minister who heads the Cincinnati Black United Front, told CJR. "All they do is take away people's civil liberties." John Fox, editor of CityBeat, the local alternative weekly, told CJR "a siege mentality" led police to view the neighborhood as enemy territory.

The Ohio American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuits that led to the law's reversal. Raymond Vasvari, legal director of the group, told CJR the exclusion law was part of "a tapestry of abuses that has led to a culture of hostility between the African-American community and the police. It's one more way in which over-policing has brought the community to the brink."

The ACLU had brought suit on behalf of two Cincinnatians, Patricia Johnson and Michael Au France. Johnson was banned from the neighborhood for 90 days after being arrested, but was never convicted of any charge. Au France was banned for a year after being convicted of a drug-related crime in 1996. The pair's attorney, Bernard Wong, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Johnson was unable to care for her grandchildren in Over-the-Rhine and that Au France was unable to visit his lawyer's office.

Other accounts of life under the exclusion zone were published in the Dayton Daily News last April. Reporters wrote of one woman, who had been arrested on a marijuana charge but had the charges dropped, yet was still arrested on criminal trespass charges when she tried to visit Over-the-Rhine to see her children and grandchildren. Another victim, a homeless man arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, ended up spending more than a year in jail after repeatedly being arrested for returning to the district to obtain food and shelter. A third person mentioned in the news story, a 32-year-old Navy veteran working at a local recreation center, had been stopped and handcuffed at least 30 times by police checking whether he had the "right" to be in the neighborhood.

For the time being, the exclusion zones are gone, but if the city of Cincinnati has its way, they'll be back.

The Columbia Journalism Review piece on Cincinnati criticized media coverage of the riots for blaming the trouble on the city's backward race relations, when CJR argued that the riots had to be seen in the context of "ferocious" drug law enforcement in the neighborhood. The article's conclusion is worth repeating:

"To criticize Cincinnati as mired in the past implies that the past was bad, the present is better, and the future looks better still. If Cincinnati is falling behind, the suggestion is that the US as a whole is moving forward to racial progress. It's a comforting thought. Yet, Cincinnati's drug and policing policies are not an anomaly; they reflect the drug and policing policies of the nation.

"If the War on Drugs is seen as a racially biased and destructive invasion of Over-the-Rhine, then America -- not just Cincinnati -- is moving backward, not forward, as far as its poorest and most vulnerable sectors are concerned. Since this is a good deal more disturbing than we care to admit, journalists zero in on all the ways that Cincinnati is behind the times and fail to notice the various ways in which it may be a leading indicator, the canary in the coal mine. The resulting stories may be reassuring from the point of view of middle-class readers who never tire of being reminded of how enlightened and up-to-date they are. But they are far from the truth."


8. Backlash Emerges as Texas Drug Task Forces Run Amok

Texas anti-drug task forces, the federally-seeded multi-jurisdiction drug law enforcement machines that perpetuate themselves at least partly with assets seized from their victims, have happily rampaged across the Lone Star State for a more than a decade, but their continuing excesses and abuses are arousing increasingly hostile responses from victims and civil rights advocates. The Panhandle Area Drug Task Force gained national infamy when it participated in the widely-criticized drug raids in Tulia in 1999, but it is not the only drug task force to come under fire. In an attempt to quiet the rising clamor, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced last month that he was moving to bring all drug task forces in the state under the watchful eye of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

That won't be enough for Spicewood resident Sandra Smith, 56, who was held at gunpoint by Capital Area Narcotics Task Force officers last May when they raided her home after airborne surveillance mistakenly identified ragweed at the back of her rural lot as marijuana. Operating without a search warrant, the SWAT-style raiders helicoptered in and ransacked her property, but found no drugs. And they kicked her old dog, too, she claimed. Now, she and other residents of the home outside Austin are suing Travis County, the task force, and the individual officers involved. Each plaintiff is seeking $35,000 in damages from each respondent for violating their civil rights.

"This is the most terrifying thing that even happened to me in my life," Smith told the Austin American-Statesman. "I've never been in trouble with the law. I don't even smoke cigarettes."

"That raid was something worthy of the old secret police in the Soviet Union," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Liberties Project, which is handling the lawsuit. "What they did was pathetic, but also dangerous. These cops thought these people had some pot, so instead of getting a warrant, which would be standard police practice, they just jump in with this unjustifiable array of force," he told DRCNet. "And when they figure out they're wrong, they still hold the people at gunpoint while they ransack the house looking for some sign of wrongdoing, and when they can't find anything, they leave without a word of apology."

The lawsuit charges the task force with violating Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure and with using excessive force, and demands that Smith's name be removed from a state drug suspect database. "They totally botch this raid, they violate her Fourth Amendment rights, and then they put her in the computer as a narcotics offender," said Harrington. "It isn't right. If she gets stopped for a traffic violation, they'll search her now. It's a law enforcement zoo." The problem of out-of-control drug enforcement in general and the task forces in particular are is as big as the state of Texas, as this admittedly partial list of task force blunders, botches, and crimes from recent years makes clear:

  • May 1999: Members of the Hays County Narcotics Task Force shot and killed 25-year-old Alexander Windle in a confrontation during a predawn raid. Windle had twice sold half-ounces of marijuana to task force informant. That informant, Roy Parrish, a 48-year-old multiple felon, caused the task force to drop numerous cases after it was revealed that he was plying area teenagers with drugs and alcohol.
  • July 1999: Based on reports from a shady undercover officer paid for by the Panhandle Area Narcotics Task Force, authorities in Tulia arrested 41 persons, 35 of them black, decimating the town's black community and blasting the town into the national spotlight.
  • November 2000: The South Central Narcotics Task Force arrested 28 people in Hearne, all of them black, for small-time drug sales. Within a few months, local authorities had dropped charges against 17 people after finding that their informant had fabricated evidence. Eleven people had already pleaded guilty.
  • December 2000: Former Maverick County Narcotics Task Force member Wilbur Honeycutt was sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting a Mexican immigrant in the back. Honeycutt shot and paralyzed Monje Ortiz as Ortiz fled back toward Mexico after being caught attempting to cross into the United States.
  • February 2001: The Capital Area Narcotics Task Force lost Deputy Keith Ruiz, shot and killed during a plain-clothes drug raid. The target of the raid said he thought the police were burglars.
  • April 2001: San Antonio prosecutors dropped at least 33 drug cases after four San Antonio police officers were arrested in an FBI sting. The officers had believed they were providing protection for cocaine traffickers. Another three cases were dropped after a suburban Balcones Heights police officer, John Beauford, was indicted in a similar but unrelated FBI sting. Beauford was former supervisor of the Alamo Area Narcotics Task Force.
  • June 2001: The director of the Texas Narcotics Control Program, which allocates federal funds to the various task forces, was demoted after an audit finds $44,000 in questionable expenses. Robert J. Bodisch Sr. plied local law enforcement officials with golf outings, plaques and alcohol at various conferences.
  • September 2001: The 81st Judicial District Narcotics Task Force in Wilson County lost officer Albert J. Villareal of Poteet after he was indicted and jailed for filing false reports, fabricating evidence and abusing his position. The indictment alleged that Villareal trumped up drug charges against 15 people.
  • October 2001: The Texas Observer published a blistering expose of the Chambers County Narcotics Task force between Houston and Beaumont, which it reported having a "well-earned reputation for greed, sloth, inefficiency and corruption." The Observer's three-month investigation of the task force revealed "that task forces like the CCNTF amass impressive stats by focusing the majority of their efforts on street-level dealers, all but ignoring dealers further up the food chain." The Observer's description of task force internal case logs described its targets as "row after row and page after page of black defendants, most of them street-level crack dealers."
  • November 2001: The Denton/Collins County Task Force had at least six members facing criminal or disciplinary investigations endangering potential prosecutions. Denton County prosecutors cited problems with the task force in announcing they were dropping cocaine possession charges against former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin.
  • December 2001: The Capital Area Narcotics Task Force shot and killed 19-year-old Antonio Martinez as he lay sleeping on the couch of a home being raided. The unarmed Martinez was not the raid's target (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/217.html#austintragedy).
  • January 2002: Dallas County prosecutors were working to dismiss 59 large-scale drug cases after it turned out that the drugs involved were not drugs at all but pulverized sheetrock. All of the cases involved two Dallas police detectives and a confidential informant who was paid $200,000 for his efforts. Thirty-nine people, almost all Mexican immigrants, were arrested. Three remain in custody, while others were deported. Many accepted plea bargains. The FBI is now investigating. The sheetrock scandal is only the latest in a tawdry series of Dallas narcotics police corruption scandals that have enveloped the department for the last decade, beginning with two officers nicknamed "Bruiser" and "Cruiser," who made an extracurricular living shaking down drug dealers in the early 1990s.
"You don't need these kinds of units," said Harrington. "They need to abolish these task forces all together. They are structured so you can't avoid this sort of abuse. What in heaven's name was the point in creating all these regional task forces?"

The short answer is money. Under a Reagan-era Department of Justice program, the federal government provides hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the states to disburse in grants to regional anti-drug task forces. In Texas alone, some 700 law enforcement officers work for various task forces, at a cost of $31 million in federal funds this fiscal year. To qualify for federal funds, the task forces must come up with a 25% match for whatever federal funds they receive, and herein lies a problem. Because local funding can be iffy, the task forces have become self-sustaining, primarily by seizing cash and goods from the people they arrest. Under Texas law, arresting agencies are allowed to keep all assets seized.

But the funding imperative also distorts task force priorities in other ways. Making repeated arrests of small-time crack dealers may not do anything to reduce substance abuse, but it is a fine way of creating impressive statistics used to garner a bigger share of task force grants.

"It's all about the numbers," Chambers County defense attorney Ed Lieck told the Observer. "More numbers mean more money. I've been doing this for ten years, and law enforcement is about the money. Anybody who tells you different is lying to you," he said.

"I think that's the key to this whole problem," said Will Harrell, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. "It's numbers by any means, and nobody is doing an assessment of the methods used," he told the Observer. "Statistics from small-time crack busts, income from highway stops, it's a winning formula."

But it's not a formula that pleases former Travis County Sheriff and current state Rep. Terry Keel (R-Austin). "There are legitimate questions about integrity and tactics when it comes to these task forces, and there have been for many years," Keel told the Austin American-Statesman. "I don't always agree with the ACLU, but they have good reason to be concerned about this. It is a flawed approach, and it has had poor results, mediocre statistics at best, and it has been rife with corruption."

While Gov. Perry has belatedly attempted to bring his cowboy cops under the control of the Texas Narcotics Control Board, critics have charged it isn't enough. "I'm not prepared to say it's going to work," said Harrell. "Only time will tell if it is a facade or if it's genuine oversight."

That's not enough for Harrington. "These things need to be abolished," he told DRCNet. "They are ridiculous and dangerous. They botch things up, they're unprofessional, and they're violating peoples' rights with serious consequences."

And there is something people can do, he said. "There is growing grassroots pressure to de-fund and de-legitimize these task forces. These things are funded at the county level, so if people agitate at the county level that can be very effective. If the counties don't ask for the federal money, that's the end of it."


9. Seismic Shift in Sentencing Policies Underway: Declining Crime Rates, Budget Woes Cited

Two studies released this week suggest that the nation's prison binge may have run its course. In separate reports, the Sentencing Project and the Justice Policy Institute concluded that the downturn in crime rates and the downturn in the economy are now being reflected in an increased willingness by policymakers to close prisons, slash mandatory minimum sentences, and make drug treatment instead of prison an option for drug offenders.

The Justice Policy Institute report, authored by institute head Vince Schiraldi and Judith Greene, found that some states are beginning to respond to fiscal crisis by closing prisons and shrinking correctional systems and that public support is increasing for non-prison sentencing options for nonviolent offenders. The prison boom of the 1990s was largely fueled by nonviolent offenders, including hundreds of thousands of drug offenders, the study said. Nonviolent offenders were responsible for 77% of the increase in the prison population in the 1990s, with more than 1.2 million of them behind bars today, the study reported.

"In state after state, we found that politicians of both parties were proposing prudent cuts to prison populations and budgets," said Greene. "The combination of the current fiscal crisis and increasing public support for reducing the use of incarceration has created a national trend in states moving toward a more balanced response to crime."

The JPI report noted that Republican governors in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Florida have decided to close prisons. Other states, including Texas, Ohio, North Carolina and Louisiana, have reduced or taken steps to reduce their prison populations. And legislation to reduce sentences is under consideration in Washington State, Kansas, New York, and Oregon.

"Rather than slashing school budgets and closing hospitals, some states are finding ways to cut spending on corrections, reducing the number of people imprisoned, without compromising public safety," said Schiraldi in a press release announcing the study. "In a time of declining prison populations and falling crime rates, this report recommends many new ways to reign in mushrooming state correctional populations and costs."

Citing polling data from California, Pennsylvania and nationwide, Schiraldi and Greene argue that the public is increasingly supportive of alternative sentencing approaches and cutting prison budgets, which, they suggest "present state policymakers with a unique opportunity to cut spending on corrections this year."

The JPI study recommended four options for sentencing reform:

  • Repeal mandatory sentencing, restore judges' discretion, and place certain low risk nonviolent offenders in alternatives. Such moves have already occurred in Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, North Dakota, Connecticut and Michigan.
  • Reform drug laws to divert drug offenders from incarceration. Successful "treatment not jail" initiatives in California and Arizona have already saved taxpayers millions of dollars in those two states, and similar initiatives will be on the ballot this fall in Florida, Michigan, and Ohio.
  • Restructure sentencing. North Carolina did so in 1994, diverting an estimated 10-12,000 offenders from prison each year since then.
  • Reform parole practices. Texas, the nation's largest prison system, did so last year, cutting the number of prisoners by 8,000.
The Sentencing Project report, authored by Ryan King and Sentencing Project Assistant Director Marc Mauer, covers much of the same ground as the JPI report, with in-depth analyses of sentencing reforms across the country, as well as a review of the changing political climate.

According to the Sentencing Project, a number of factors have contributed to the emerging sea change in sentencing policy. "The declining crime rate for most of the 1990s helped to reduce public fear and concern on this issue," wrote Mauer and King. "New programs and practitioner initiatives, such as drug courts, gained public acceptance as viable alternative methods for dealing with crime. And growing public and policymaker awareness of the limits of incarceration," expressed with growing concern about the hundreds of thousands of prisoners being released each year without treatment or training, has also shifted the political winds.

The declining crime rate "is starting to sink in with people," said Mauer. "It's changed the whole emotional, political discussion about crime. It doesn't have the same resonance as a campaign issue that it might have had 10 years ago when crime rates were rising."

The Justice Policy Institute Study, "Cutting Correctly: New Prison Policies for Times of Fiscal Crisis," is available at http://www.cjcj.org/cutting/cutting_main.html online. The Sentencing Project study, "State Sentencing and Corrections Policy in an Era of Fiscal Restraint," is available at http://www.sentencingproject.org/news/rkmm-fnl.pdf online.)


10. Media Scan: Alan Bock, Arianna Huffington, Foreign Policy in Focus, ABC News on Hemp Foods

Orange County Register's Alan Bock on Drug Prohibition and Terrorism:
http://www.ocregister.com/commentary/columns/bock/bock020302.shtml

Arianna Huffington's Scathing Criticism of the Drug Use/Terrorism SuperBowl Ads:
http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/020702.html

New Foreign Policy in Focus brief by Adam Isacson of the Center for International Policy -- "Expanding the War on Terrorism to Colombia: A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come":
http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0202colombia.html

ABC News report on the DEA/Hemp Foods Controversy:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/hemp020207.html


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

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

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

US Drug Policy Driving Bolivia to Civil War
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/boliviawar/

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

SuperBowl Ad Out of Bounds
http://www.actforchange.com

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

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

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


12. The Reformer's Calendar

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

February 12, 8:00am, Indianapolis, IN, Jeanne Horton Support Rally, medical marijuana patient with multiple sclerosis being prosecuted by Marion County. At the Indianapolis City County Building, Market St. Entrance. For further information, contact Indiana NORML at (317) 923-9391 or (317) 335-6023, [email protected] or http://www.inorml.org.

February 14, 4:00-8:00pm, Clayton, MO, Drug War Prisoners Candlelight Vigil. At the St. Louis County Justice Center, 100 S. Central, contact Greater St. Louis NORML at [email protected] for further information.

February 16, 9:00am-4:00pm, Menands, NY, Drop The Rock Upstate-Downstate Coalition Organizers Conference, at the Schuyler Inn, 575 Broadway. Admission $20, includes continental breakfast and lunch, call Mike Smithson at (315) 488-3630 or e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.droptherock.org for information. For reduced rate lodging, call (518) 463-1121.

February 18, 7:00pm, Canadaigua, NY, "The Effects of Prohibition on Terrorism," presentation to the Finger Lakes Forum by Peter Christ, retired police captain speaking for ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy. At the Canadaigua Country Club, non-members may attend, $16 admission includes dinner. RSVP by February 14 to [email protected] or Mike Smithson at (315) 488-3630.

February 20, 6:00pm, Chicago, IL, Loyola University Students for Sensible Drug Policy hosts Clifford Thornton of Efficacy. For further information, contact Matt at [email protected].

February 21, London, England, "Crack and Heroin -- Challenging the Status Quo: A One-Day International Conference on the Latest Developments in Addiction." At the Voluntary Sector Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Road, admission £90, sponsored by The Stapleford Trust & The Stapleford Centre with COCA (The Cocaine and Heroin Conference). Visit http://www.staplefordcentre.co.uk or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

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

February 22, 11:30am-12:30pm, Philadelphia, PA, "The Drug War is Cold." Demonstration against the drug war, with Drug Policy Forum Tri-State, Pennsylvania NORML and the November Coalition. At the Federal Court House, 601 Market St., march to the Federal Prison, 700 Arch St. For further information, contact Diane Fornbacher at (215) 633-9812 or [email protected].

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 27, 9:00pm-1:00AM, Fairfax, CA, Medical Marijuana Voter Registration Party, supporting the new "Marin Medical Marijuana Peace Treaty Initiative." At 19 Broadway Niteclub, featuring music by "Brainchild" and "4 Pot Peace," admission free. Call (866) 206-9068 ext. 9986 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, Billings, MT, State Representative Joan Hurdle speaks at MSU-Billings NORML/SSDP. For further information, contact Adam Jones at (406) 256-6389 or [email protected].

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, 1:00-5:00pm, Face the Music Festival #1, benefit for the survivors of Tony Martinez and Deputy Sheriff Ruiz, victims of drug raids gone bad. Sponsored by the Anti-Prohibition Coalition, at Clay Pit Restaurant, 1601 Guadalupe St., contact Karen Heikkala at (512) 326-4396 for further information.

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 http://www.ihrc2002.net or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

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 19, San Francisco, CA, "Meeting Challenges in the 21st Century: New Perspective and Practical Tools," 1st West Coast African Americans in Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition with the American Foundation for AIDS Research, admission free. At Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, contact Amu Ptah at Amu Ptah at 212-213-6376 ext. 32 or e-mail [email protected] 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 http://www.clubhealth.org.uk for info.

March 26, Albany, NY, "Drop The Rock Day," march and demonstration against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Visit http://www.droptherock.org for information.

April 7-16, upstate New York, New York Interfaith Prison Pilgrimage, mile per day or more walk to major prisons "to vigil, pray, and seek a new, more humane response" to incarceration and the prison system. For further information, visit http://users.bestweb.net/~cureny/walk.htm or contact the Western New York Peace Center at (716) 894-2013, the Judicial Process Commission at (716) 325, 7727, or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected].

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 http://grove.ufl.edu/~ssdp/ 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 http://www.norml.org in the near future.

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

April 24-27, Albuquerque, NM, "Public Health for All is Justice Served," Twelfth North American Syringe Exchange Convention. For information, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.nasen.org or call (253) 272-4857.

May 3-4, Portland, OR, Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, focus on Analgesia and Other Indications. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time, the Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon Health Division, for further information visit e-mail [email protected], http://www.medicalcannabis.com or call (434) 263-4484.

December 1-4, Seattle, WA, "Taking Drug Users Seriously," Fourth National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General. For information, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.harmreduction.org or call (212) 213-6376.


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