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

Issue #229, 3/22/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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New Yorkers and others nearby, please come to our Tuesday, 3/26 evening event launching the John W. Perry Fund, providing scholarships to students losing financial aid because of drug convictions (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/229.html#perryfund).

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Congress's Bad Joke
  2. DRCNet Launching John W. Perry Scholarship Fund for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions at NYC Event on March 26
  3. Alert: Tell Congress to Repeal the HEA Drug Provision in Full
  4. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in High School Drug Testing Case -- Comments by Justices Ominous
  5. 3th Anniversary of Shafer Commission Report -- New Nixon Tapes Reveal Twisted Thinking at Root of Modern Marijuana War
  6. Bush Administration Asks Congress to Lift All Restrictions on Aid to Colombia
  7. Colorado State University Opens Nation's First College Drug Court
  8. Canadian Firm That Sued US Over Hemp Foods Ban Set to Meet With Array of Feds -- NAFTA Rules Force US to Talk to Kenex
  9. Medical Marijuana Bills Still Moving in Maryland, Vermont
  10. Sentencing Project Study Finds 135,000 Children Affected by Welfare Ban for Drug Offenders
  11. Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, Virginia
  12. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Editorial: Congress's Bad Joke

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 3/22/02

One of my favorite items in druglibrary.org's Schaffer Library is "The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States," a speech delivered in 1995 to the California Judges Association conference by Prof. Charles Whitebread of the University of Southern California School of Law (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm).  Prof. Whitebread, formerly of the University of Virginia, and another UVA law professor, Richard Bonnie, authored a several hundred page history of the marijuana laws, "The Forbidden Fruit And The Tree Of Knowledge: An Inquiry Into The Legal History Of American Marijuana Prohibition," published in the Virginia Law Review in 1970.

My favorite anecdote from the speech is what happened when Bonnie and Whitebread, more than three decades later, went to the Library of Congress in Washington to look at the transcript of the Tax Act's hearings. As Prof. Whitebread explains in his speech, Congressional hearings are lengthy affairs with copious testimony that take up many pages when written down. So Bonnie and Whitebread, and the librarians, were shocked when they couldn't find anything!

The transcript, as it turns out, was there. A few weeks later a librarian contacted our professor friends and explained what had happened: The bound document was so short that it had slipped out behind the books on its shelf and fallen down in back. But that wasn't the end of it either: The thin booklet had somehow gotten wedged in between the bottom and the back of the bookshelf, and so tightly that the librarians were unable to pull it out. They had to empty the bookshelf and smash it into pieces in order to liberate the transcript.

Tapes from the Nixon Oval Office released this week reveal a similarly stupid manner of policymaking when that administration escalated marijuana enforcement, and the drug war as a whole, 30 years ago. It was 30 years ago today that the president's National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse released its lengthy, comprehensive report. "Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding" -- also available in the Schaffer Library (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm) called for decriminalization, a recommendation the administration obviously ignored.

But Nixon's rejection of decrim was no more thoroughly reasoned than Congress's decision 35 years before to prohibit marijuana in the first place. The Nixon tapes show that the president's decision to escalate the drug war was based not only on fundamental misconceptions about the nature of drugs, but on prejudices toward various groups of people -- specifically, gays, jews and radical political protesters -- whom he disliked or mistrusted and with whom he rightly or wrongly believed marijuana and marijuana activism were associated. Whitebread as well as other researchers have found that it is common, in fact, for anti-drug legislation to be driven by racial or cultural tension.

Ignorance and thoughtlessness has continued to pervade the drug war. In the mid-1980s, for example, Congress passed extraordinarily harsh mandatory minimum drug sentences. But unlike when Congress enacted marijuana prohibition with extremely minimal hearings in 1937, this time they didn't hold any hearings. Large numbers of low-level, nonviolent offenders are serving years or even decades in prison, many of them very decent people and many of them innocent by any meaningful definition of guilt.

And this week, as the US Sentencing Commission prepares to reexamine powder and crack cocaine sentencing -- possessing a mere five grams of crack gets you a mandatory five years, the same as 500 grams of powder -- the Department of Justice has come out and stated it thinks crack sentencing is just fine. The Sentencing Commission examined this issue in great depth several years ago and decided crack sentences should be lowered to the same level as powder, but were blocked from making that change by Congress. But despite all evidence as well as the hideous immorality of these sentences, DOJ thinks that maybe powder sentences should go higher! Call it the Department of Injustice instead.

Congress's bad joke isn't funny anymore. The lost transcript and smashed bookshelf in the Library of Congress make a nice metaphor for the forgotten origins of bad drug laws. It is important to drug out these little known historical memories -- both the humorous and the tragic -- and tell those stories again and again until the nation and the people in power see the truth.


2. DRCNet Launching John W. Perry Scholarship Fund for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions at NYC Event on March 26

The DRCNet (Drug Reform Coordination Network) Foundation invites you to celebrate the launching of

THE JOHN W. PERRY FUND
Scholarships for Students Denied Federal Financial Aid Because of Drug Convictions

Tuesday March 26, 2002, 6:00 to 8:00 PM, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W. 64th St. (at Central Park West), NYC

Ira Glasser, former Executive Director of the ACLU will speak on "American Drug Laws, The New Jim Crow Justice." He will be joined by Norman Siegel, Freedom Legal Defense and Education Project, as well as representatives of DRCNet (Drug Reform Coordination Network) Foundation, SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy), family and friends of John Perry and others.

Please RSVP to [email protected] or (212) 362-1964. Light refreshments will be served. Admission free, suggested minimum donation $25, sliding scale (no one will be turned away).

BACKGROUND

In 1998, Congress enacted an amendment to the Higher Education Act that denies loans, grants, even work-study jobs to tens of thousands of would-be students every year who have drug convictions. All these young people, who have already been punished once for their offenses, are being forced to spend more time working to pay for school, reducing their course loads or dropping out entirely. Since that time, a major student-led campaign to overturn the law has spread to hundreds of campuses around the nation, aided by civil rights, education and drug policy reform organizations, and a bill in Congress to repeal the HEA drug provision, H.R. 786, has garnered 59 sponsors. A resolution opposing the drug provision has been adopted by 88 student governments at the time of this writing (March 2002).

Now, the DRCNet (Drug Reform Coordination Network) Foundation, in partnership with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and other friends of civil liberties, has created the John W. Perry Fund to help some of students affected by the law stay in school. Though we will only be able to directly assist a fraction of the more than 40,000 would-be students who've lost aid this school year alone, we hope through this program to make a powerful statement that will build opposition to the law among the public and in Congress, and to let thousands of young people around the country know about the campaign to repeal it and the movement against the drug war as a whole.

Please join us on March 26, 2002 in New York City to celebrate the launching of this scholarship program and raise needed funds for the students who apply to it. Ira Glasser, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and president of Drug Policy Alliance, will deliver the keynote address, joined by representatives of DRCNet, SSDP, financial aid professionals and other concerned parties.

You can also help by making a generous contribution to the DRCNet Foundation for the John W. Perry Fund. Checks should be made payable to DRCNet Foundation, with "scholarship fund" or "John W. Perry Fund" written in the memo or accompanying letter, and sent to: DRCNet Foundation, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. The DRCNet Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, and your contribution will be tax-deductible as provided by law. Please let us know if we may include your name in the list of contributors accompanying future publicity efforts.

ABOUT JOHN PERRY

John William Perry was a New York City police officer and Libertarian Party and ACLU activist who spoke out against the "war on drugs." He was also a lawyer, athlete, actor, linguist and humanitarian. On the morning of September 11, John Perry was at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan filing retirement papers when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Without hesitation he went to help, losing his life rescuing others. We decided to dedicate this scholarship program, which addresses a drug war injustice, to his memory. John Perry's academic achievements are an inspiring example for students: He was fluent in several languages, graduated from NYU Law School and prosecuted NYPD misconduct cases for the department. His web site is http://www.johnwperry.com.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Ira Glasser served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1978 until his retirement in 2001. His essays on civil liberties principles and issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Harper's, The New Republic, The Nation, and Christianity and Crisis, among other publications. In 1991, he published a book, "Visions of Liberty: The Bill of Rights for All Americans," to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. He is currently president of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Please contact DRCNet at [email protected] or (202) 362-0030 to request a scholarship application, to get involved in the HEA Campaign or with other inquiries, or visit:

http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com and http://www.SSDP.org


3. Alert: Tell Congress to Repeal the HEA Drug Provision in Full

DRCNet, in partnership with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, is leading a major national campaign to repeal the Higher Education Act Drug Provision, a law that delays or denies students with drug convictions their eligibility for federal financial aid for college -- over 40,000 people this school year alone. But the author of the Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), is trying hard to divert attention from the repeal effort by focusing on one narrow change, limiting the law's impact to students who were enrolled in school and receiving aid at the time of their offense.

Such a change would help some small percentage of the people hurt by the drug provision and would be welcome for that reason. But it is a 5% solution to a law that is 100% flawed: Only full repeal addresses the serious education and discrimination concerns raised by educational, civil rights, religious, drug policy reform and other groups for the past three years. That's why we need you to help us send a loud and clear message to Congress that this law is fundamentally flawed and should be repealed in full.

Please visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com to tell Congress you want them to remove the drug war from education and pass H.R. 786, a bill that would repeal the drug provision and which already has 59 Congressional sponsors. When you're done, please call your US Representative on the phone to make an even stronger impact -- you can call them via the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or visit http://www.house.gov to look up their direct numbers.

Students, please visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/students.html to find out how to get involved with the campaign on your campus. 88 student governments so far have endorsed our resolution calling for repeal of the drug provision. If you're already at work on this, please write us at [email protected] and let us know what's happening. We also urge you to visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/download.html for an online copy of our activist packet. (Leave your e-mail address if you want to be notified of updates on the HEA campaign. Also, we will be updating the download packet within the next week.)

Please forward this alert to your friends or use the tell-a-friend form that will come up on your screen after you send your letter. And please consider making a donation -- large or small -- to keep this effort moving forward at full speed. Though our funding situation for 2002 is very promising, we've had a shortfall of the non-tax-deductible lobbying funds that are needed for the HEA campaign itself. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to help, or mail your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. (Contact us for instructions if you wish to make a donation of stock.)

Again, visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign! Here are some reasons the HEA drug provision is wrong:

  • The vast majority of Americans convicted of drug offenses are convicted of nonviolent, low-level possession.
  • The HEA drug provision represents a penalty levied only on the poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have the doors of college closed to them for want of financial aid.
  • Judges already have the power to rescind financial aid eligibility as individual cases warrant. The HEA drug provision removes that discretion.
  • The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different races. African Americans, for example, who comprise 13% of the population and 13% of all drug users, account for more than 55% of those convicted of drug possession charges.
  • No other class of offense carries automatic loss of financial aid eligibility.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

4. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in High School Drug Testing Case -- Comments by Justices Ominous

The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in Pottawatomie County Board of Education v. Earls, the case brought by Tecumseh, OK, high school student Lindsay Earls, who challenged the school district's policy requiring drug tests for all students involved in any extracurricular activities. In 1995, the Supreme Court okayed drug testing for student athletes in certain circumstances, but attempts by local school boards to extend drug testing beyond athletes have met with mixed results in state and federal courts. The Tecumseh policy was found unconstitutional by the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but other federal appeals courts have approved similar schemes in other school districts.

In an ominous note for student privacy, government attorneys arguing the case used the occasion to claim that the law already permits the blanket, suspicionless drug testing of all high school students -- not just athletes or those involved in extracurricular activities. Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement told the court just that. He argued that it is constitutional to test all students, not just those in voluntary extracurricular programs, as was the case at Tecumseh High School. "We're not saying this is constitutional because it's consensual," he said.

Clement also attempted to draw a parallel between US Customs Service employees, whose testing the Supreme Court okayed in 1989 because they were on the "front lines" of the war on drugs, and high school students. "Children today are on the front lines of the drug problem on the demand side," he told the court.

A ruling upholding the school district or going even further to accept the expansive reasoning of the Justice Department could lead to massive drug testing of the nation's 24 million secondary students. Currently, only a small number of the country's 15,500 school districts operate drug testing programs, in large part because of uncertainty over their legality.

The hour-long oral arguments were marked by heated exchanges between the justices and the attorneys and among the justices themselves. Justice Anthony Kennedy drew gasps from the courtroom audience when he appeared to personally attack plaintiff Lindsay Earls. Kennedy posed a hypothetical with one school that had drug testing and one that did not -- "the druggie school," he called it. "Every parent" would want to send his children to the first school, Kennedy told plaintiff's attorney Graham Boyd of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, but then added dismissively, "Well, perhaps not your client."

Outside the Supreme Court after the hearing, a visibly upset Lindsay Earls told reporters: "I don't use drugs. I shouldn't have to prove that."

But if the questions and comments of the justices are any indication, she and every other high school student in America may soon have to do precisely that. Boyd argued that Tecumseh had not shown there was a drug problem justifying drug tests and that such tests violated the Fourth Amendment injunction against unreasonable searches. Neither had school officials demonstrated any particular risks to participants in extracurricular activities, Boyd said. "There's nothing about band or choir that is dangerous," Boyd said.

But Justice Antonin Scalia, author of the 1995 decision okaying testing of student athletes, shot back: "You think life and death is not at issue in the fight against drugs? How about death from an overdose?"

"Of course, your honor," Boyd gamely replied, "but these students are the least likely to use drugs. So there is almost no chance of that happening."

But Scalia was not persuaded. He told the courtroom that the key to deciding whether the policy was constitutionally permissible was whether the policy was one a "reasonable guardian and tutor" of students in a school setting might apply.

Justice Kennedy also telegraphed his position with his questions and comments. After Boyd cited the school district's own figures to show that it did not have a significant drug problem -- only three out of 550 tests administered in two years came back positive -- Kennedy questioned why a lack of evidence of drug use should hold back testing. "You're saying there must be a great crisis -- they should lose a few years of students before acting?" he asked. Kennedy also dismissed objections to drug testing by suggesting requiring students to urinate in a cup was little different than requiring them to wear school uniforms.

Justice Stephen Breyer chirped in to note that in the 1995 Vernonia case, the court ruled that a school district can impose testing on student athletes in response not merely to local drug problems but to nationwide drug use. The Tecumseh school "did what I would have done," said Breyer. "I would have asked my kids what's really going on in the school."

Only two justices, Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, evinced any skepticism about the Tecumseh policy. Justice O'Connor raked school district attorney Linda Meoli over the district's resort to drug testing without any evidence of a drug problem. She pointed out that the district had been telling the federal government in annual reports that it had no drug problem and that the evidence the district presented suggested that students involved in extracurricular activities were less likely to use drugs than those who were not. "It seems odd to leave those students untested," she said. "It's counterintuitive, isn't it?" She later added: "This is a school that certified to the federal government that it did not have a drug problem. I mean, the whole thing seems odd."

Justice Souter also zeroed in on the district's claim that it had a significant drug abuse problem. When attorney Meoli defended the policy as "a reasonable response to drug use," Souter cut her off and asked about the annual reports showing no drug abuse. "Were they lying?" he asked. Noting also that fewer than a handful of students had tested positive for drugs, Souter added: "I don't see how you don't lose, whether we look at it ex ante (from before) or ex post (from after)."

The normally mild-mannered Souter bore down so sharply on Meoli that Chief Justice William Rehnquist intervened, saying "Let her answer the question, will you?"

But Souter's and O'Connor's remarks aside, the previous history of the court and the tenor of the questions from the bench suggest that the Supreme Court is ready to once again deepen the drug war exception to the Fourth Amendment. The court is expected to rule by June.


5. 30th Anniversary of Shafer Commission Report -- New Nixon Tapes Reveal Twisted Thinking at Root of Modern Marijuana War

On March 22, 1972 -- 30 years ago today -- the presidentially-appointed National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (also known as the "Shafer Commission," after its chair, the Republican former governor of Pennsylvania, Raymond Shafer), released its report and recommendations. The commission, like similar commissions before it, called for decriminalization.

Recently released tapes of discussions in Richard Nixon's oval office reveal that bizarre prejudices and biases pervaded that administration's decision to ignore the commission's highly-researched findings and instead dramatically escalate marijuana enforcement and the overall war on drugs.

"We need, and I use the word 'all out war,' on all fronts..." was Richard Nixon's reaction to his national commission's recommendation that marijuana no longer be a criminal offense, according to recently declassified Oval Office tapes. The year after Nixon's "all out war" declaration, marijuana arrests jumped by over 100,000 people even though the experts had said it should not be criminal.

The tapes from 1971-1972 demonstrate that the foundation of the modern war on marijuana was Nixon's prejudice, culture war and misinformation. Common Sense for Drug Policy has issued a report on the recently released recordings, whose highlights are excerpted below.

"At a critical juncture when the United States decided how it would handle marijuana, President Nixon's prejudices did more to dominate policy than the thoughtful and extensive review of his own Blue Ribbon Commission," observed CSDP president Kevin Zeese. "If we had followed the advice of the experts rather than Nixon's prejudices, we would have less marijuana use, be spending less money on marijuana enforcement, and many millions less people would have been arrested." Since the Commission issued its recommendation that marijuana offenses not be a crime, fifteen million people have been arrested on marijuana charges.

Highlights of Nixon comments on marijuana:

  • Marijuana compared to alcohol: marijuana consumers smoke "to get high" while "a person drinks to have fun." Nixon also saw marijuana leading to loss of motivation and discipline but claimed: "At least with liquor I don't lose motivation."
  • Marijuana and political dissent: "... radical demonstrators that were here... two weeks ago... They're all on drugs, virtually all."
  • Jews and marijuana: "I see another thing in the news summary this morning about it. That's a funny thing; every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it's because most of them are psychiatrists..."
  • Marijuana and the culture wars: "You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general. These are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they're trying to destroy us."
  • Drug education: "Enforce the law, you've got to scare them."
The CSDP Research Report, "Nixon Tapes Show Roots of Marijuana Prohibition: Misinformation, Culture Wars and Prejudice," and text transcripts of portions of Nixon White House taped conversations, including the portions excerpted in the report, are available online at:
http://www.csdp.org/research/shafernixon.pdf
http://www.csdp.org/research/nixonpot.txt
The full text of the report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, "Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding," is available online at:
http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm

6. Bush Administration Asks Congress to Lift All Restrictions on Aid to Colombia

Three weeks ago, DRCNet reported that the Bush administration had rejected an internal proposal to expand US war aims in Colombia from counter-narcotics to an outright effort to defeat the leftist rebels of the FARC and the smaller ELN (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/226.html#warincolombia). That was only a temporary respite. Almost immediately after announcing that it had rejected the option, the White House and congressional allies began gearing up for a renewed push to erase the line between the drug war and explicit involvement in Colombia's long-festering civil war. Now the Bush administration has offered a bill in Congress that would remove all restrictions on US military assistance to Colombia, including the ban on non-narcotics-related assistance, human rights conditions and limits to the number of US military personnel on the ground in Colombia. The bill also asks for $29 million to combat "terrorist kidnappings." That comes on top of the $1.3 billion already committed to fighting the cocaine trade in Colombia.

The proposal is part of a $27 billion supplemental appropriations bill for counter-terrorism activities, and the administration and its allies are couching their argument in terms of the "war on terror." On March 6, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress that the "new situation" in Colombia meant the US would shift gears and now help the government in Bogota defeat "terrorists and drug traffickers."

The administration has found an increasingly receptive audience in Congress in the last few weeks, with generally high levels of support for any "anti-terrorist" measures since September 11. This has dovetailed with the collapse of the Colombian peace process, after a frustrated President Pastrana shut down peace talks with the FARC last month. All this has seemingly eroded the longstanding congressionally-erected barriers between counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency. The FARC did not help itself when it kidnapped marginal presidential candidate but well-connected darling of the elite Ingrid Betancourt, nor with the counteroffensive it has unleashed against the country's infrastructure in the last few weeks.

And in a move that could not have been more nicely choreographed if it had been a ballet, the Justice Department announced this week that a federal grand jury had indicted three FARC members on cocaine trafficking charges. In announcing the indictments, Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke of an "evil interdependence" between drug trafficking and terrorism. The indictment alleges that the FARC members, including 16th Front Commandant Tomas Molina Caracas, conspired with Brazilian drug traffickers to import "plane loads" of cocaine into the US since 1994.

The administration proposal faces opposition in Congress, with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) circulating a letter for congressmen to sign saying they do not want to increase military assistance to Colombia, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) insisting human rights conditions continue to be respected. But in the current atmosphere, heightened even further by the deadly Thursday bombing near the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, attributed to the Shining Path guerrillas, opponents of a greatly broadened US war effort in Colombia will have to mobilize quickly.

If the bill passes, the primary target will be the FARC. Although all three insurgent formations in Colombia are officially designated "terrorist organizations" by the State Department, the 5,000-strong ELN is seeking negotiations with the government and the rightist paramilitaries are de facto allies of the Colombian military and thus unlikely to be attacked. That leaves the Colombian and US governments headed for a direct and bloody military confrontation with the FARC that could last for years.

Meanwhile, Narco News is reporting links between the campaign of hard-line presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe, viewed as a savior by the Colombian elite and their American allies, and the trade in precursor chemicals necessary to produce cocaine. According to Narco News, the DEA has linked three seizures of potassium permanganate destined for Colombia to a company called GMP Productos Quimicos (Chemical Products). The precursor chemical could have made a half-million kilos of cocaine hydrocloride, worth about $15 billion on the US market. The owner of GMP, according to a DEA report, is one Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, Uribe's presidential campaign manager, former chief of staff and longtime poltical fixer (http://www.narconews.com/narcocandidate1.html).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez couldn't write this stuff.


7. Colorado State University Opens Nation's First College Drug Court

Officials at Colorado State University in Fort Collins announced last week that CSU has become the first college in the nation to operate a drug court for students accused of campus drug and alcohol violations. The drug court has been in operation since the spring semester, university officials said. The court, funded by a two-year $350,000 grant from the US Department of Education's Safe and Drug Free Schools program, is a pilot program that the Department of Justice is interested in using as a model for college drug courts nationwide, CSU officials told the Rocky Mountain News.

CSU officials portrayed the drug court as a means of pressuring students into drug treatment after they have been caught drinking or using drugs. "This is a crucial time in a student's life, and we're able to catch them at that time," said project director Cheryl Amus. "We can say, 'You're going to get kicked out of school.' We've got a huge ax hanging over their heads," she told the News.

Drug courts have become an increasingly used tool in the criminal justice system, with some 700 operating across the country. In drug courts, offenders are offered the opportunity to submit to treatment and drug testing instead of being sentenced to prison. Offenders typically meet on a regular basis with a judge, prosecutor, public defender, treatment specialist and case manager, and undergo frequent drug testing.

While drug court advocates claim high success rates, those claims are controversial. Critics have attacked drug courts as extending the Orwellian grasp of the "therapeutic state," for polluting the medical treatment of drug addiction with legal coercion, and for failing to identify and cut off abusive programs.

At Colorado State, campus officials will replace criminal justice system officers and on-campus drug treatment will replace private treatment. The CSU program, "Drugs, Alcohol and You (or DAY IV)," will be voluntary, officials said. Students could presumably opt out of the drug court and take their chances with the university's disciplinary system.

"The devil is in the details," said Darrell Rogers, national outreach coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org). "Are the penalties more likely to increase or decrease?" he asked. "We will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings," he told DRCNet.

A Washington, DC, college student who asked to remain unnamed told DRCNet he, too, needed to know more. "If it's treatment instead of expulsion, that's not so bad. Also, many state universities kick you out of campus housing if you're caught smoking a joint. If the drug court prevents that, with all the disruption it entails, that could be a good thing," he said. "But if there is invasive urine testing, that could raise privacy issues. And there is also the question of whether someone caught smoking a joint needs treatment, even if he's been caught more than once."

CSU dismisses about 200 students each academic year for repeat drug or alcohol violations, said Asmus, most of them freshmen and half of them out-of-state students. Retaining those out-of-state students could save the university $1.2 million per year in lost tuition and fees, she said.


8. Canadian Firm That Sued US Over Hemp Foods Ban Set to Meet With Array of Feds -- NAFTA Rules Force US to Talk to Kenex

Kenex, Ltd., the Canadian hemp production firm that is preparing to sue the US under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over the DEA's attempted administrative ban on hemp food products containing detectable trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is set to meet with representatives of an array of federal agencies on Monday. The meeting is to discuss the company's notice of intent to sue, which was filed in January, and is required under NAFTA rules.

Kenex will meet with representatives from the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury and Commerce, as well as the DEA, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the US Customs Service, and the Office of the US Trade Representative.

While hemp supporters expect little concrete gains from the meeting, they are pleased to see the US government being held to account under NAFTA. "The DEA failed to provide any notice and opportunity to US trading partners or foreign companies to provide input into its ruling, as required under NAFTA," said Alexis Baden-Meyer of VoteHemp (http://www.votehemp.com). "Neither did it conduct a risk assessment or offer any science-based rationale for issuance of the rule, nor did the DEA did seek to minimize impact on trade, and it has not similarly regulated poppy seeds and their trace opiates. But now, the US government has to play by the NAFTA rules."

Kenex filed notice of suit under NAFTA after suffering economic hardship because of the DEA administrative rule, which has now been put on hold by the federal courts. "A few million dollars would not even begin to cover the cost of the financial hardships Kenex has suffered through DEA's harassment of our business and the hemp food marketplace in general," said Kenex president Jean Laprise. "Since the DEA's new rule was announced, our US hemp seed and oil sales have virtually ceased. If the DEA is not stopped, we are finished," he said. "Tallying our current and future losses, we expect to be compensated at least $20 million under NAFTA."

Although hemp supporters are not sanguine about changing minds at the State Department on Monday, the federal government may soon be under added pressure to act. According to a news release from Mintwood Media this week, other similarly affected Canadian hemp companies are considering joining Kenex in filing their own NAFTA actions. Nature's Path Foods, Inc. and Nature's Path Foods USA, Inc., which operate food plants in the US and Canada that produce two of North America's best-selling natural granolas and waffles under their Hemp Plus® sub-brands, project losing over $30 million in investments and future revenue, and will have to lay off employees, if the DEA's interpretive rule is not defeated. Nature's Path is currently evaluating its options.

Kenex investor Anita Roddick, a founder of the Body Shop, one of the country's largest hemp product retailers, told Mintwood the recalcitrant attitude of the DEA necessitated the NAFTA action. "The blind prejudice and bloody-mindedness of the DEA takes my breath away, especially when its actions are in direct contradiction to Congress," said Roddick. "This is one instance when we have to invoke NAFTA. Without its protection, the future is bleak for hemp companies like Kenex."

Activists watching the Kenex NAFTA action may want to note the astute use of existing international bodies or treaties not necessarily considered friendly to hemp, or, more broadly, to drug reform in general. Similar acts of political ju-jitsu may be of service in any number of drug-reform related areas, such as medicinal marijuana in the event it is legalized in other countries.


9. Medical Marijuana Bills Still Moving in Maryland, Vermont

Medical marijuana bills remain alive in Maryland and Vermont, threatening to spread the movement to allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons to the East Coast this year. But despite progress in both states, obstacles remain. In Vermont, a medical marijuana bill has been approved by the House, but is opposed by Gov. Howard Dean (D), who is mobilizing his allies in the Senate to kill the bill. In Maryland, the key enemy is time. Supporters of a bill in the House of Delegates have only until Monday to send the bill to the Senate or it will die for this session.

The Vermont House on March 15 passed a bill that would allow sufferers of certain diseases, including AIDS and cancer, to obtain a physician's certificate authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. That certificate would shield its bearer from prosecution for marijuana possession. Medical marijuana users could possess no more than three mature plants, four immature plants or three ounces of processed weed.

The bill passed despite concern from some lawmakers that it was no more than a stalking horse for marijuana decriminalization. "This is not just for medical use," said Rep. Henry Gray (R-Barre). "I think they want this bill passed so they can use it for recreational purposes. There are some in this House or in this area that want pot on every table."

But an 82-59 majority of representatives sided with Rep. Allen Palmer (R-Pownal), who told his colleagues the bill was aimed only at aiding the ill. "I do not condone the recreational use of marijuana," said Palmer. "I'm voting for this bill because I think it's going to do good for a few people who really need it."

The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate, where Gov. Dean has vowed to mobilize opponents. But Richard Schmitz, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org), an advocacy group attempting to push medical marijuana in state legislatures, told DRCNet he remained confident the bill could get through. "Law enforcement opposition melted away after we addressed their concerns," said Schmitz, "and unlike the House, the Senate is controlled by Democrats. Senate Democrats should support this. It will be hard for the Republicans to call them soft on drugs after the House voted for it."

But even if the bill passes the Senate, it must still get past Gov. Dean, who has hinted broadly that he would veto it. "We hope he will simply allow the measure to become law if it passes," said Schmitz. "We understand that he does not support this bill, but we hope he will respect the votes of the two chambers."

In Maryland, meanwhile, that state's strongest effort yet to pass a medical marijuana bill is running out of time, but still has a shot. Cosponsored by 53 of the 141-member House of Delegates, the Darrell Putnam Compassionate Use Act would allow doctors to authorize persons suffering from serious illnesses to grow and possess small amounts of the marijuana. The bill must be voted on by the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Delegates and passed over to the Senate by Monday or it dies.

"This is close," said Schmitz. "We are running up against a deadline, and we've got to get that committee vote done." But Schmitz appeared to be on the verge of conceding defeat this year in Maryland. "We'd love to get this to the Senate, but even if we don't, in many ways this has been a big success for us this year. We've got more than a third of the House as sponsors now, and if it doesn't happen this year, we'll come back even stronger next year."


10. Sentencing Project Study Finds 135,000 Children Affected by Welfare Ban for Drug Offenders

(reprinted from the study's Executive Summary)

"Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits to Women Convicted of Drug Offenses" is the first national analysis documenting the harmful effects to women, children and communities of the 1996 welfare reform provision imposing a life-time welfare ban on people convicted of selling or possessing drugs. As this report documents, legislative action in the arenas of welfare reform and the war on drugs have combined to produce negative consequences for many low-income women, with a disparate impact on African American and Latina women.

LIFETIME WELFARE BAN PROVISION

  • Section 115 of the welfare reform act provides that persons convicted of a state or federal felony offense for using or selling drugs are subject to a lifetime ban on receiving cash assistance and food stamps. No other offenses result in losing benefits.
  • 42 states impose the ban in full or in part -- 22 states deny all benefits, 10 have partial bans, 10 require drug treatment as a condition of receiving benefits -- and eight states and the District of Columbia have opted out of the ban.
  • The growing trend among states to modify or opt out of the ban reflects growing recognition that a complete lifetime welfare ban is unsound public policy.
NATIONAL IMPACT OF THE LIFETIME WELFARE BAN
  • Over 92,000 women are currently affected by the lifetime welfare ban.
  • The ban also places over 135,000 children at risk of neglect and involvement in criminal activity due to the prospect of reduced family income support.
  • More than 44,000 white women, nearly 35,000 African American women and almost 10,000 Latinas are affected by the ban.
IMPACT OF THE BAN ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN
  • The loss of welfare benefits adversely affects the ability of women, especially women of color, to become self-sufficient, provide for their children and be active participants in their communities.
  • The ban endangers the basic needs of low-income women and their children, including food, housing, job training, education and drug treatment, which are all key ingredients to help poor families lift themselves out of poverty.
  • The ban will lead to higher incidences of family dissolution and further increase welfare caseloads.
  • The ban places an increasing number of children at risk of neglect or delinquency.
  • The lifetime ban has a disproportionate impact on mothers of color.
RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Congress should hold hearings during this reauthorization period and consider the immediate repeal of the lifetime welfare ban.
  • State governments should opt out of the ban or at least modify it. For those states tying drug treatment to welfare assistance, additional programs, such as job training or GED programs, should be provided as an alternative to maintain welfare benefits.
  • The federal government should shift its focus in the "war on drugs" and allocate a greater proportion of funds to prevention and treatment.
(The Sentencing Project study can be read in full at http://www.sentencingproject.org/news/lifesentences.pdf online.)


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

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.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?ItemId=12761

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/

Urgent Virginia Legislative Alert
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/virginia/


12. The Reformer's Calendar

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

March 22, 8:00am-5:00pm, Tallahassee, FL, Educational Display on the Shafer Report and the Jenks & Musikka Decisions. In the rotunda of the Capitol, sponsored by Floridians for Medical Rights, Florida NORML and the Florida Cannabis Action Network. Contact [email protected] for 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.

March 26, 6:00-8:00pm, New York, NY, "American Drug Laws, The New Jim Crow Justice," kick-off and fundraiser for the John W. Perry Fund, providing scholarships to students losing financial aid because of drug convictions. Sponsored by the DRCNet Foundation, featuring former ACLU director Ira Glasser, with representatives of DRCNet, SSDP, friends of John Perry and others, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 64th and Central Park West. RSVP to [email protected] or (212) 362-1964, and visit http://www.drcnet.org for further information.

April 2, Grand Junction, CO, Protest for Liberty and Against Victimless Crimes. At City Hall, Mesa County Justice Center, visit http://students.mesastate.edu/~jahawk/ for information.

April 4-7, Geneva, Switzerland, Congress of the Transnational Radical Party, visit http://www.radicalparty.org for information.

April 6, Ann Arbor, MI, "Hash Bash," 11:00am candlelight vigil at Federal Building (Liberty at Division), noon at University of Michigan Diag and 4:20 at Wheeler Park (Depot & N. 4th). Visit http://www.hashbash.com or e-mail [email protected] for information.

April 6, noon-3:00pm, Tucson, AZ, "Prisoners Are People Day," presentations by community leaders, live music, food, children's activities, access to community service providers, prisoner art show and more. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, at Himmel Park, 1000 N. Tucson Boulevard, for further information call (520) 623-9141.

April 6, 1:00pm, Asheville, NC, memorial service for AIDS and harm reduction activist Marty Prairie. At the Cathedral of All Souls, Biltmore Village, e-mail [email protected] 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, 9:00am-noon, Philadelphia, PA, "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs." Judges forum sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, at Temple University School of Law, Kiva Auditorium (Ritter Hall Annex), $35.00 with CLE credit, $10.00 without, contact Roseanne Scotti at (215) 746-7370 or [email protected] for information or to register.

April 8, 6:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Table Talk: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs," dinner, speech and discussion with Judge James P. Gray of the Superior Court of Orange County, California. At the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., $30/person includes three course dinner with tax and gratuity, senior and student discounts available. Call (215) 386-9224 or visit http://www.whitedog.com/04082002.html for further 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 http://grove.ufl.edu/~ssdp/ or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

April 9, noon, Houston, TX, "Moving Beyond the War on Drugs." Drug Policy Forum of Texas luncheon with Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, at the Warwick Hotel, contact [email protected] for information.

April 10, 8:00pm, St. Louis, MO, "Why We Must End the War on Drugs." Presentation by Mike Gray at Washington University, McDonnell 162, contact John Payne of Washington University Students for Sensible Drug Policy at [email protected] for info.

April 12-14, Chicago, IL, "Towards a Sensible Drug Policy: Educating, Empowering and Encouraging Reform," 2nd annual midwest conference by Students for Sensible Drug Policy. HEA protest at 11:30am on 4/12, conference at Loyola University's Lake Shore campus, early bird registration through April 1, contact Matt Atwood at (847)800-6696 or [email protected] or visit http://www.ssdp.org for further information.

April 13, 1:00-10:00pm, Tallahassee, FL, "Tallahassee Hemp Culture Fest." Bands and speakers to be announced, contact Florida State University NORML at [email protected] for information.

April 13, 5:30pm, Honolulu, HI, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Annual Meeting, featuring former ACLU director Ira Glasser. At Che Pasta Restaurant, 1001 Bishop Street in Bishop Square, reception at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, program at 7:30. Admission $25 for members or $35 for non-members (membership available at door), RSVP to Darlene Hein at (808) 384-7794 or [email protected]rr.com by April 5 to reserve choice of dinner entree. Visit http://www.dpfhi.org 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 19-20, Sweetwater, TN, "Freedom Fest," sponsored by NORML UTK. Visit http://www.webnow.com/goldenboy/ to order tickets, or contact Rachel at [email protected] for further information.

April 19-21, Seattle, WA, Amnesty International USA 2002 Annual General Meeting. At the Renaissance Madison Hotel, visit http://www.aiusa.org for further information. (Dues-paying Amnesty members will have the opportunity to vote on a groundbreaking anti-drug war resolution.)

April 20, Eau Claire, WI, noon, Hemp Festival with UWEC SSDP. Music, information, speakers, raffle and more, at the Eau Claire Rod and Gun Park, visit http://www.uwec.edu/Student/CHILI/ for further information.

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

April 20, noon, Kingston, RI, Fourth Annual "Day for HOPE," sponsored by the University of Rhode Island's Hemp Organization for Prohibition Elimination. On the URI Quad, e-mail Thomas Angell at [email protected] for further information.

April 20, 3:00-8:00pm, Atlanta, GA, "Atlanta 420," regional gathering of marijuana activists and reformers with entertainment, speakers and organizations. Presented by CAMP, in Piedmont Park, in downtown Atlanta, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.worldcamp.org or call (404) 522-2267 for information.

April 20, 4:20pm-1:00am, Detroit, MI, "4/20 at the Forum." At G.I. Forum Hall, 6705 West Lafayette, visit http://www.geocities.com/legalizemichigan/420FORUM.htm for further information.

April 20, 2002. Moscow Hemp Festival in Moscow, Idaho. E-mail [email protected] for more 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.

April 27, 7:00pm-4:00am, Mays Landing, NJ, 4th Annual Cures Not Wars Benefit Concert. Speakers and music, at Finnerty's Hut, 7134 Black Horse Pike (route 322), age 21 and over, admission $10. Contact Mark Dickson at [email protected] for information.

April 27-28, Middletown, CT, "Northeast Summit for New Drug Policies." Regional gathering of anti-prohibition thinkers and activists, hosted by Wesleyan University Students for Sensible Drug Policy and cosponsored by Efficacy, for interested parties of all ages. Recommended donation $5-$15 sliding scale, contact Booth Haley at (860) 685-4350 or [email protected] 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, 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.

May 4, international, "Million Marijuana March," demonstrations in many cities worldwide. Visit http://www.cures-not-wars.org/mmm/ for information and local event listings.

June 22, Philadelphia, PA, "Mid-Atlantic Criminal Justice Colloquium: Fostering Compassion, Dignity and Hope," colloquium organized by the Drug Concerns Working Group of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). For further information or to get involved, contact Melissa Whaley at (856) 303-0280 or [email protected].

July 5-7, Bryn Mawr, PA, "Liberty & Crisis," student seminar with the Institute for Humane Studies. Participation free, application deadline March 29, visit http://www.theihs.org/tab3/thefirst.html or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

September 26-28, Los Angeles, CA, "Breaking the Chains: People of Color and the War on Drugs." Conference by the Drug Policy Alliance, e-mail [email protected] to be placed on mailing list for when details become available.

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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