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

Issue #234, 4/26/02

"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: Cocaine Legalization
  2. California Medical Marijuana Movement Awaits Federal Offensive, Plots Strategy
  3. Member of British Parliament Calls for Legalization of Cocaine
  4. Amnesty International USA Approves Resolution to Examine Link Between Drug War and Human Rights Abuses
  5. NORML Conference Report: Ready to Take It to a Higher Level
  6. Three US Medical Marijuana Refugees Detained in British Colombia
  7. Newsbrief: Colombian Rebels Seize Pro-Legalization Governor
  8. Newsbrief: Man Without Guns or Drugs Killed By Long Island Cops on Marijuana Raid
  9. Newsbrief: Bicycle Courier Race Shows NYC Day in the Life in the Drug War
  10. Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Doctor Suspended, Fined, Put on Probation
  11. Newsbrief: No Room at the Jail for Indianapolis Marijuana Possessors
  12. Newsbrief: Britain's New Scientist Slams Ecstasy Alarmists
  13. Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  14. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Editorial: Cocaine Legalization

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 4/26/02

Earlier this week, a member of the British Parliament made a very bold statement. Jenny Tonge, a prominent member of the Liberal Democrat party, called for the legalization of cocaine.

Even in the UK, where the drug policy debate has advanced dramatically further than in most places, Tonge's statement is cutting edge, going further than the already forward-looking position of the party itself. The Liberal Democrats have called for legalization of marijuana but mere decriminalization of possession for other drugs.

By US standards, Tonge's comments come across as even bolder, of course. A measure of that is the fact that even in this newsletter, where we have openly called for repeal of prohibition across the board for years, focusing in an editorial on the legalization and regulation of cocaine in particular is not something that we find especially comfortable.

But when an elected official willingly takes on the risk that Tonge has taken, it deserves support, so here we are. As scary as cocaine can be, as damaging as it often proves to individuals and the people around them, Jenny Tonge is nevertheless right on target. Cocaine, for all its perils, should not be prohibited.

Why? Because prohibition does more harm than good and is wrong in and of itself. If democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms, prohibition is a system worse than all other conceivable drug policies. Far from protecting the vulnerable from the harms of addiction, prohibition increases those harms dramatically, causing untold suffering to the unfortunate who become addicted despite the laws. The crime of the illegal drug trade devastates whole neighborhoods and exposes large segments of the population to the corrosive effects of the underground economy. And even if none of that were true, adults would still have the right to make their own decisions, even if those decisions sometimes lead them to harm.

A conversation I had some years back at a dinner gathering points to the heart of the cocaine conundrum. An individual seated at my table told me that he agreed with me about marijuana legalization, strongly in fact, as well as progressive drug policies overall, but considered drugs like heroin and cocaine to be too dangerous to allow widespread, legal sales. My point that sales are already widespread under prohibition and vastly more hazardous than they would be under a legal distribution regime didn't sway him. He recounted a wedding he had attended where the groom was clearly under cocaine's influence, causing a highly uncomfortable and unfortunate situation for all involved.

It certainly sounds like a disturbing experience. Addiction isn't pretty, and no one involved in drug policy reform should forget that. But it's not hard to imagine a turn of events at the wedding that would have been even worse. It would have been worse if the groom had died. The groom could have unknowingly obtained a tainted batch and gotten poisoned, or too pure a batch and had an overdose. Clearly this would have been even worse.

But the point is that such tragedies do happen, and happen all the time. Prohibition ensures a lack of quality control that increases the overall harmfulness of drugs and causes tens of thousands of preventable deaths every year. And while it is routinely assumed that others are prevented by the drug laws from becoming addicted, that assumption has never been tested, and the arguments to the reverse are just as strong -- "forbidden fruit" can be very alluring to the young and inexperienced, exactly the kind of people most at risk of taking a drug experience too far.

By prohibiting drugs, then, society decides to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of people every year, to protect a group of people who may or may not exist, from themselves. Offering help to people with drug problems is one thing, but killing or imprisoning others to help them is quite another. And those whose lives are lost are by definition the people we claimed we wished most to protect. The system is incoherent from the public health and the moral perspectives alike.

Anti-prohibitionists are often characterized by opponents or skeptics as not in touch with the realities facing the poorest or most vulnerable members of society. This cannot be said of Tonge, though, who recently toured Colombia, where she spoke with villagers terrorized by the drug wars. Far from being out of touch, our movement draws on the real-world experiences of allies from the mountains of the Andes to the hospitals and the street corners of our cities here in the US. Over the next year or so, DRCNet, in partnership with a range of organizations in this country and others, is organizing a series of anti-prohibition conferences in different parts of the world that will elevate those authentic voices to relate the terrible impact of prohibition and the drug war on their communities.

If I have one difference with Tonge, it is that she called only for medical prescription availability of heroin, as opposed to the over-the-counter sales that she suggested for cocaine. While it's true that heroin is in some ways more addictive than cocaine, it's also true that cocaine is more physically damaging than heroin and that the harms flowing from drug prohibition are just as real for heroin as for cocaine. Some form of legalization or regulation is therefore just as necessary for that drug as for the others, though prescription heroin would certainly be a vast improvement over the total prohibition in place today.

Overall, though, Jenny Tonge has demonstrated that even in politics, reason in drug policy can prevail. Since she has put it on the line, so should we. Those of us who understand the dark truth of prohibition must speak out in solidarity. After all, if we don't, who will? It's time for opponents of the drug war to join hands across the oceans and work together for peace and freedom around the globe.


2. California Medical Marijuana Movement Awaits Federal Offensive, Plots Strategy

A series of raids and arrests, an aggressive Justice Department and an unsympathetic federal judge are giving California medical marijuana activists a bad case of nerves these days. Prominent members of the movement are warning of imminent raids and are preparing to act to either avert or protest them.

"I'm expecting widespread raids," said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML (http://www.canorml.org). "I wouldn't be surprised to see a sweep of all the clubs the DEA can get," he told DRCNet.

The DEA, for its part, has answered reporters' questions about a looming offensive coyly. "The marijuana clubs are not our primary priority; we could, but have not, targeted them for investigation," DEA special agent Richard Meyer of the San Francisco field office told Alternet last week. He told Alternet the DEA was focused on drug trafficking. "We have heard people in the community saying that many traffickers are using the cannabis clubs to engage in this business for profit and are not concerned with the sick," said Meyer. "Any cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law. It is our job to enforce those laws and we will," he added.

Such words are little comfort to people such as marijuana cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal, who was one of those arrested by the DEA in February raids aimed at San Francisco's 6th Street Harm Reduction Center and its suppliers. "I grew pot to supply sick people," Rosenthal told DRCNet. "Now I'm looking at years in prison."

The Sixth Street raids were the first to result in actual arrests, but the DEA has been increasingly active since last summer's Supreme Court decision denying a "medical necessity" defense to federal marijuana distribution statutes. DEA raiders hit the office of Dr. Mollie Fry, a leading medical marijuana recommender, in September (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/206.html#dearaid), effectively shut down the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center last October (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/209.html#medmjwar), and have destroyed other medical marijuana grow operations across the state.

The situation turned more ominous in the eyes of activists when a hearing on the Oakland Cannabis Cooperative case before US District Judge Charles Breyer last week went badly. At the hearing, counsel for the co-ops hoped to argue additional defenses for medical marijuana distribution, but Breyer seemed interested only in the question of whether a permanent injunction would be necessary to stop the clubs from providing medicine under California law. While Breyer did not issue a ruling, movement lawyers seemed braced for a defeat.

"If Judge Breyer issues that permanent injunction, then we will have a year in the twilight zone while it is appealed," said Steph Sherer, national head of the Cannabis Action Network (CAN). "The pressure will be on, but we will be ready to fight," she told DRCNet.

California NORML's Gieringer also saw trouble looming in Breyer's courtroom. "They are about to get that permanent injunction, and then they have to do something with it," he said. "At a minimum, they would have to close the remaining clubs covered by that injunction. Beyond that, they will apply it as many other places as they can. Every time they get a favorable decision, they move," Gieringer said.

"We've also seen quite a bit of activity by the DEA," said Gieringer. "Agents have been following people home, spying on clubs, and there have been unpublicized raids on small caregiver gardens. That's the kind of thing that usually gets an acquittal or slap on the wrist in state court, but now the feds are getting involved."

CAN's Sherer told DRCNet that her group had organized Americans for Safe Access (http://www.cannabisaction.net/article.php?id=44) in the face of a bellicose Justice Department. "It's ASA vs. Asa [Hutchinson, the DEA head]," laughed Sherer. "But seriously, our purpose is do to an aggressive media and grassroots campaign to force Ashcroft and Bush to back off the medical marijuana and give states the right to choose their own marijuana laws."

ASA will do a tour up the West Coast from San Diego to Washington state to train local groups how to do media work, campaign work, and basic training in civil disobedience and legal strategies, said Sherer. But it is also working with medical marijuana advocates and dispensaries in the Bay Area to come up with an emergency response plan to expected raids. "We will take that plan to our allies statewide, then nationwide," said Sherer. "All that will happen within the next two weeks, and yes, we are considering civil disobedience."

Gieringer also predicted the turn to massive civil disobedience. "There is a sense among the patients that here is where they will draw the line," he said. "They are ready to engage in civil disobedience, they are ready to stand up here. This could be a Stonewall," said Gieringer, alluding to the 1969 riot after a police raid on a New York City gay club, an event generally marked as the birth of the gay liberation movement.


3. Member of British Parliament Calls for Legalization of Cocaine

A Member of Parliament (MP) from Britain's third political party, the Liberal Democrats, told the BBC News Online Monday that cocaine should be sold like alcohol and heroin made available by the National Health Service. MP Jenny Tonge, the Lib Dems' spokeswoman for international development, added that cannabis prohibition was "a joke" and that Britain's drug policy was a failure and needed a radical overhaul. Her comments go beyond the Liberal Democrat platform, an already cutting-edge position which calls for the legalization of cannabis and the abolition of jail time for the possession of all drugs, and party leaders were quick to distance themselves from her remarks.

"I think cocaine is a difficult one, but I would agree with a lot of people that you would do less damage if cocaine was actually legalized and sold at registered outlets like alcohol rather than leaving it to the boys on the streets," she told the BBC. "I am not claiming to have the answers, but I am saying that present drugs policy is not working."

Tonge told the BBC she had recently visited Colombia, where she heard accounts of paramilitary killings of villagers who refused to grow coca. "That is the sort of thing that is going on in the name of cocaine, which is snorted by guys in the City [London's financial district], and they think they are frightfully smart and clever."

Speaking about heroin, Tonge told the BBC the drug should be "medicalized" and provided to addicts by the National Health Service (NHS). While agreeing that some black markets could still exist even if more drugs were legalized, Tonge said: "I think we have got to control the drug supply. It would be surely less. And there will be no excuse at all for an addict having to commit crimes to feed their habit. You may get more addicts," she said, "that's another downside, but then you'd have a whole lot more money in the form of VAT [value added tax] to treat those addicts."

With heroin users receiving their drug from the NHS, they might be able to lead more normal lives, said Tonge. "You can't do that if they having to commit crime all the time to feed their habit," she said. "You can only do it if they are getting it anyway." Saying that NHS was already using heroin for dying patients, she said it was past time for doctors to prescribe it to addicts. "We know all about heroin," said Tonge. "We could import it and make it available. Heroin is the biggest problem of all when it comes to crime," she told BBC, adding that her house had twice been burglarized by addicts.

As for cannabis, the Labor government's impending move to decriminalize possession of small amounts is not nearly enough for Tonge. "The way cannabis is treated is a joke, a complete joke. That should be used like tobacco, taxed like tobacco and let's spend the VAT on something."

The same evening Tonge spoke to BBC, a spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party leadership told the Guardian (London) that her comments were a "personal view and not party policy." But with a platform that includes cannabis legalization and no jail for drug possession, the Lib Dems are officially not that far behind their outspoken frontbench MP. The Liberal Democrats control 52 of 659 seats in the British House of Commons.

Read the BBC interview with Jenny Tonge online at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1916000/1916695.stm

Read DRCNet's coverage of the Liberal Democrat convention where its new drug policy was adopted:
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/228.html#briskmarch


4. Amnesty International USA Approves Resolution to Examine Link Between Drug War and Human Rights Abuses

At its national convention in Seattle last weekend, the US branch of Amnesty International (http://www.aiusa.org), the world's largest human rights organization, voted to have the organization investigate the links between US drug policy and human rights abuses at home and abroad. The grassroots effort was lead by Georgina Shandley of the Cape May, NJ, AIUSA chapter, who helped draft the resolution and shepherded it through the AIUSA Northeast Regional conference last November (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/210.html#amnestyresolution). The adoption of the resolution will lead AIUSA to focus more intently on the drug war, supporters said.

"It was a powerful weekend," Shandley told DRCNet, "but also very tense and frightening as we fought off efforts to strip away some of the language. I felt like I was in a tumble dryer. But we ended up with the national membership of AIUSA voting overwhelmingly in support of our language asking Amnesty International to look into drug war-related human rights abuses."

The only real opposition to the resolution, said Shandley, came from AIUSA environmentalists concerned that the resolution's language on environmental damage due to the drug war could have a negative impact on an ongoing campaign, Just Earth, designed to protect environmental activists in the Third World. The environmental damage plank was removed from the approved version of the resolution.

While Shandley had her doubts about the revised resolution, she said, AIUSA's executive director assured her that "the resolution is strong." Shandley said she was also cheered by the reaction of Irene Khan, the newly-elected head of Amnesty International. "I gave her a package of information about the US drug war and talked to her about it, and she is very concerned," said Shandley. "She will be visiting Colombia soon -- right after Israel -- and she is concerned about drug war human rights abuses in the United States as well," Shandley said.

The resolution is a powerful symbolic statement, said Shandley, but it is only the beginning. "There is a lot of educating to do, even among human rights people," she said. "Now we have to get time with the newly-elected AIUSA board of directors to educate them. People just haven't tied it all together. They may know about prison abuses or murders in Colombia, but they haven't put it all together," she said.

The second front is institutional. "The second thing we need to do is carve out a niche within AIUSA, something like the Just Earth program, for human rights abuses as a result of the drug war," Shandley said. "AIUSA administrators have told me it is possible, but they have no funding, so now the fight begins."

While Shandley sees a long road ahead, she is also savoring this grassroots victory. "We had 800 people at the convention," she said, "the most ever, and the drug war resolution was by far the most discussed piece of business at the convention. We had Mikki Norris' "Shattered Lives" exhibit. We had the November Coalition there. Now the drug war is in the consciousness of AIUSA. Now we have to start getting publicity. I want to see those newspaper headlines saying "'Amnesty International Overwhelmingly Supports Investigating Human Rights Abuses in the Drug War,'" she exclaimed.

"One thing the people understood right away was the ads linking drug dealers and terrorists, that got people thinking," said Shandley. "I see our leadership in Washington as the terrorists, terrorizing the families of America and all over the world with this heinous war on drugs. If they were sincere about people on drugs, they would have rehab programs. Who are the terrorists?"


5. NORML Conference Report: Ready to Take It to a Higher Level

The spirit at last weekend's conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org) in San Francisco was assertive and combative, hinting that the political vanguard of the nation's 20 million pot smokers is ready to take the campaign to legalize marijuana to a new level. The permanent pot party that faced bemused tourists riding the Powell Street cable car outside the Crowne Plaza Union Square Hotel notwithstanding, attendees and panelists alike took a serious, militant and increasingly outraged stand against marijuana prohibition in particular and the drug war in general.

With California medical marijuana movement supporters predicting imminent raids by the DEA, the movement began for the first time to seriously discuss mass civil disobedience. In fact, the Cannabis Action Network, and its newly formed Americans for Safe Access (ASA) campaign, took the opportunity of the conference to do their first civil disobedience action, dropping a banner in downtown San Francisco Friday morning that read: "Ashcroft: No War on Patients. Californians Say Yes to Medical Marijuana." And NORML is threatening to take seriously comedian Bill Maher's call for a mass march on Washington sometime in the next year -- although whether it should be without pot smoking as Maher suggested remains a bone of contention.

NORML came into the conference with a full head of steam from its successful advertising campaign featuring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the ad's theme, "It's NORML to Smoke Pot" was the underlying theme of the meet. According to NORML's Alan St. Pierre, attendance was an all-time record high 570, along with 35 to 40 press people.

While St. Pierre avoided words like "militance" or "combativeness" to describe the mood in San Francisco, he was quick to note that attendees were interested in "self-preservation" and were taking the issue personally. "It's one thing to talk abstractly about damage to this or that community," said St. Pierre, "but it's another thing to think about yourself personally, your loved ones, your friends. If we can put a human face on pot smokers, the other side loses because it attempts to dehumanize them."

"A lot of the panels spoke to self-interest and self-preservation," St. Pierre told DRCNet. "If they're going to keep arresting someone every 43 seconds, it's a good idea to let people know how to keep out of the jaws of the law. As for the panels on how to grow, it seems incumbent on us to educate people, even though we may be visited by the IRS for it," he said.

One sign of the more aggressive attitude in evidence at the conference was the panel on "coming out" as marijuana users. NORML head Keith Stroup set the tone for the discussion by noting that NORML supported medical marijuana, but "that doesn't affect most pot smokers, who smoke for the fun of it." Saying that marijuana users need to "bring the culture out of the closet," Stroup called on tokers to "be open and honest about our pot smoking." Until they do, the message will not get through to elected officials, he said. Marijuana users need to tell their elected officials: "I'm never again going to vote for a candidate who treats me like a criminal," Stroup said.

Panelist and long-time California activist Mikki Norris presented a concrete way for smokers to come out, through the Cannabis Consumers Campaign (http://www.cannabisconsumers.org), which, she explained, is designed to "upgrade" the image of marijuana users. The campaign is building a list of 100 well-known, successful cannabis users -- "not the usual suspects," said Norris -- and will initiate a major media campaign around them. As the conference wound through the weekend, dozens of photos of self-outed marijuana users began appearing on conference room walls, courtesy of Norris.

"We are good people from all walks of life," Norris told an enthusiastic crowd, "and we are tired of being treated like second-class citizens in our own country. I want to see a time when we are judged on the content of our character, not our urine," she said. But, Norris warned the crowd, "We need to become a political constituency. We need to shed the shame, we need to own up, we need to present ourselves with dignity. The least we can do is come out to our family, friends, and colleagues," she said.

Fellow panelist John Gilmore, a computer entrepreneur/cyber-activist who has vowed to spend $10 million over 10 years to end prohibition, felt the same way. The bearded, bespectacled movement patron took the opportunity to come out publicly as a marijuana user and then some. "I'm a millionaire," Gilmore said. "I smoke pot. And every once in awhile I eat mushrooms. And I've taken LSD and various other things. That has informed my world view," he told the crowd to laughter and cheers. "I'm a better person in the world because I took those drugs."

The up-front assertiveness wasn't limited to Silicon Valley gurus. In a particularly withering shot at US drug policies and the Bush administration, former NORML head and marijuananews.com (http://www.marijuananews.com) publisher Dick Cowan dissected the uses of words like "evil" and "terrorism." Cowan, a funny and energetic speaker, chided Bush for his "ill-advised use of the word 'evil'" and railed against the administration's drugs equal terrorism ad campaign. "It is unspeakably evil to attempt to hijack the righteous anger of the American people" with that campaign, Cowan said. "The level of cynicism involved can only be called evil -- sorry, guys, but you brought it up."

"The US is engaged in a policy of terrorism called the drug war," he continued. "It is state terrorism against cannabis users," he thundered to loud applause.

Acting on the maxim that the best offense is a good defense, other panelists instructed attendees on how to avoid arrest, what to do if arrested, and the finer points of jury nullification. Florida attorney Clay Conrad, a jury nullification specialist from the Fully Informed Jury Association (http://www.fija.org), instructed listeners on how to get on a jury. "Resign from any political organizations you belong to before you go to the courthouse," he said. "Well, maybe not the NRA." Would-be nullifiers should answer prosecutors' questions carefully, said Conrad. "If they ask if you believe in the war on drugs, tell them 'I have questions about how effective the war on drugs is,'" he recommended. "Tell them, 'Yes, I can put my convictions aside,'" Conrad continued. "That doesn't mean you will."

In a particularly theatrical oration, famed San Francisco defense attorney Tony Serra hammered away at the war on drugs' impact on cherished freedoms and legal traditions. "The war on drugs has deprived us of so much," he roared. "It is destroying the beautiful flowers of our legal system. "Bail is gone now," said Serra. "What we have is preventive detention. A beautiful flower destroyed," he yelled, smashing a bouquet of flowers on the podium. "Our federal system is tainted by informers at every level," he continued. "We swim in a sea of snitches." Another bouquet of flowers destroyed. "Our independent judiciary has been swallowed by the executive and the legislature," said Serra. "Our judges are emasculated," he roared, destroying yet more flowers. "But a new flower is growing," he beamed, holding up a fresh bouquet. "Medical marijuana."

And medical marijuana was the issue of the hour, as could be expected in a NORML convention in California as the feds go about picking off medical marijuana clubs and providers. The situation was perhaps best encapsulated by Debbie Goldsberry of the Berkeley Patients Group. Goldsberry related how through a combination of organization, perseverance, and polite inflexibility, her group was able to negotiate the treacherous thickets of officialdom. But, said Goldsberry, all that work could come to naught if the DEA cracks down.

"I'm afraid of imminent arrest," she told a somber crowd. "I'm afraid my friends will be arrested, too."

All indications are that the people at the NORML convention are growing increasingly tired of being afraid.


6. Three US Medical Marijuana Refugees Detained in British Colombia

In the last few years, British Colombia has replaced Amsterdam as the refuge of choice for cannabis culture refugees fleeing oppression in the United States. Lured by the scenic beauty, civilized popular attitudes toward marijuana, and a government that generally reflects those attitudes, the flow of American expatriates into British Colombia has steadily increased. But a series of arrests of prominent medical marijuana refugees in the last two weeks suggests that the Canadian government, feeling the heat from its southern neighbor, is ready to crack down on the growing colony of Americans who have settled in British Colombia.

On April 17, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Humboldt County, CA, marijuana grower Steve Tuck and prominent medical marijuana patient and former California Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby at their respective homes on BC's Sunshine Coast, just north of Vancouver. The next day, the RCMP detained Steve Hayes, one of the men sought by the DEA after its February raid on San Francisco's Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center. All three are now out on bond, paid for by British Columbia pot-seed entrepreneur Marc Emery, Kubby told DRCNet.

All three now face hearings to determine whether they are "inadmissable to Canada" because of their marijuana-related legal problems. Kubby and his family moved to BC after his trial on medical marijuana charges in Placer County. Kubby won the medical marijuana case, but was found guilty of possessing a peyote button and a psychedelic mushroom stem. He had been sentenced to 120 days in jail on those charges, but refused to serve what he called a "death sentence." Kubby suffers from a rare form of adrenal cancer and marijuana is the only substance that fends off the disease's potentially fatal symptoms. Steven Tuck faces six felony marijuana counts in Humboldt County, and Hayes faces federal indictments growing out of the Sixth Street raid.

Kubby was jailed for three days before being released on bond by Canadian officials. "By the end of the first day, I was having blood pressure attacks," Kubby told DRCNet. "I was having vomiting and diarrhea and lost 20 pounds in three days. If I had had to stay in jail another day, I might have been dead. But once the Canadian officials realized I was really sick, they were pretty cool about it," he said. "I didn't feel the kind of fear and personal intimidation I felt in the United States."

But Canadian kindness notwithstanding, Kubby and the others now find themselves facing a protracted and potentially expensive sojourn in the Canadian immigration courts. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will review all three cases at an Immigration Refugee Board hearing, which will seek to determine if they are inadmissable to Canada, deportable, or extraditable. Under Canadian immigration law, persons fleeing criminal prosecution or who have past criminal convictions may be barred entry to the country. But that law is enforced erratically at border checkpoints.

According to CIC spokeswoman Angela Battiston, Canadian customs inspectors have the option of inquiring about criminal records or other evidence of inadmissability, but do not necessarily query each American arriving at the border. "In all three of these cases, the immigration warrants alleging potential violations of the immigration act were related to criminal convictions in the US that did not come to light at the time of entry," she told DRCNet.

In the event that they lose at the Immigration Refugee Board, the Americans have indicated that they will apply for political asylum.

The cases will raise strains between the Canadian and US governments. In the last couple of years, the DEA has grown increasingly concerned about BC marijuana production and the lax attitude of Canadian authorities. There is some evidence to suggest that pressure from the US may be behind the recent raids. Battison danced around questions about DEA involvement in the raids. "We get information from a variety of sources," she said. "With an ongoing investigation, it's not appropriate to comment about the DEA, but in general, CIC does work with foreign and domestic police agencies."

The DEA opened an office in Vancouver earlier this year, and Canadian drug reformers such as Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (http://www.cfdp.ca) were warning last week that the US law enforcement agency is increasingly active north of the border. "The DEA is doing missions in Canada, paying informants, going after grow ops," Oscapella told the NORML conference in San Francisco last weekend.

But the Canadian government may also have been feeling the heat because of a series of high-profile news stories profiling the growing American expatriate community. According to Kubby, the media attention played a key role. "There is no question that those news stories put the Canadian government in a position where they felt they had to act to placate the Americans and to block any future migration," he said.

As Kubby, Hayes, Tuck and their families settle in for a protracted legal battle, they have the small comfort of being surrounded by a sympathetic and powerful marijuana community in BC, where the herb is a multi-billion dollar industry. As noted above, marijuana maven Marc Emery paid their bail; they have received public support in letters to the editor and in the alternative media, and fellow emigres and the BC medical marijuana community have also stood up for them.

"We're all really concerned for the Tucks, the Kubbys, and the Hayes," said Renee Boje, one of the most well-known marijuana refugees in British Columbia. "They're all like family to us. Not only are they at risk, their families are at risk too," she told DRCNet. "If they are sent back to the US, they will be sent to prison. We don't want to see their children taken away. We hope the Canadian government will do the right thing and allow them to stay. They all face long prison sentences. What is happening is pretty disgusting," she said. Boje should know. She is now two years into an immigration battle in Canada, where she fled to avoid a possible prison sentence in the Todd McCormick-Peter McWilliams case in Los Angeles.

Despite his travails, Kubby expressed optimism and respect for the Canadian government. "It's not like the US," said Kubby. "The Canadian justice system isn't necessarily lenient, but it's fair. They only want to find a just outcome. Even the prosecutors are only looking for a just outcome," said Kubby, sounding somewhat pleasantly surprised.

All three Americans need financial help for their defenses. Contact Steve Kubby at http://www.kubby.org for further details.


7. Newsbrief: Colombian Rebels Seize Pro-Legalization Governor

In a scene that could have come from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Colombia's pro-legalization leftist guerrillas, the FARC, kidnapped the pro-legalization governor of Antioquia province, Guillermo Gaviria, on Monday. Guerrillas of the FARC grabbed Gaviria, a Roman Catholic priest, and a former defense minister from a peace march in a rural area about 175 miles north of Bogota.

Gaviria and the others join at least five legislators and one minor presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, as prisoners of the FARC. The FARC has been widely condemned for kidnappings, either for ransom to support its war effort, or, as in the case of the political figures, as bargaining chips in future negotiations with the government.

President Andres Pastrana told Reuters on Tuesday that Gaviria should not have gone on the march, saying he had been warned by the military that he could be kidnapped if he joined the protest. According to the BBC, Gaviria rejected an offer of a police escort. Before the march, Gaviria told reporters the march was against violence and not against the FARC.

Last August, Gaviria joined other Colombian governors in approving a resolution calling on the government to organize an international great debate on drug prohibition. "We cannot keep our heads between our legs and continue with the same strategies of 30 years ago," said Gaviria at the time. "Colombia must lead the discussion of the issue on the international stage to commit all the countries of the world without hypocrisy or double standards," El Espectador (Bogota) reported. "There are no magic solutions, and legalization is not necessarily the solution, but I believe in controlled legalization," he said (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/201.html#groundswell).

Gaviria's kidnapping is only the latest manifestation of a wave of political violence that has swept Colombia since President Pastrana ended the peace process in February. And in Washington, Congress is preparing to examine and vote on the Bush administration's Colombia package, which would expand US military support from fighting drugs to fighting the FARC.


8. Newsbrief: Man Without Guns or Drugs Killed by Long Island Cops on Marijuana Raid

A Long Island man was shot and killed by Suffolk, NY, police in a SWAT-style raid on an alleged marijuana sales operation on April 19. Jose Colon, 20, who was neither armed nor in possession of any drugs, was standing on the porch of a North Bellport residence when a bullet from the 9-mm submachine gun of officer Tony Gonzalez struck him in the head, killing him instantly. Police said the shooting was accidental, explaining at a press conference the next day that an officer carrying a battering ram tripped over a tree root, bumping Gonzales and causing his weapon to discharge at least three bullets.

For Colon, it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was taking his pregnant girlfriend out to dinner, and stopped at the house to repay a $20 debt while she waited in the car, friends told Newsday. Suddenly the seedy house in the rundown neighborhood was surrounded by heavily-armed and -armored members of the Suffolk County Police Department's "Emergency Services" SWAT team, advancing with guns drawn as a police helicopter appeared and thundered overhead. That's when Colon and his companion, Aaron Hatcher, walked out the front door.

Although police said the shooting was accidental, they could not resist the temptation to try to implicate Colon in his own death. According to Suffolk Police Chief Philip Robiletto, Colon and Hatcher were coming out the front door of the house as the police raiders approached. The two young men were instructed to drop to the ground, said Robiletto. "He was asked a number of times 'show your hands, drop to the floor,'" the chief explained. "He didn't, and that's when the accident occurred."

Colon was a member of the Victory Church of God in Bellport and was working at the Jiffy-Lube as he competed his final semester of coursework at Briarcliff College, where he was in line for an associate degree in computer graphics. The college told Newsday it will award the degree to his parents at graduation ceremonies next month.

"They killed an innocent kid," Colon's sister Eva told Newsday. "This is a nightmare. I can't stop shaking. I can't believe they killed my brother."

Police said they found between a half-pound and a pound of marijuana in the house, as well as a rifle. They arrested four men on marijuana possession charges, including Hatcher, and also charged Hatcher with possession of the rifle. Per Suffolk County policy, the shooting will be investigated by the District Attorney, who will decide whether to bring the matter before a grand jury.


9. Newsbrief: Bicycle Courier Race Shows NYC Day in the Life in the Drug War

On April 20, while the NORMListas enjoyed balmy Pacific breezes in San Francisco, New York City played host to a gritty bit of urban agitprop against the drug war. In a unique action, the DRUG WAR! Race and Party saw dozens of bicycle couriers compete in a race across Manhattan, vying to be the first to deliver the dope at various sites across the city and bail friends out of jail. After the day's exertions, some 400 people gathered in the Lunatarium in Brooklyn for a bash to end the drug war, only to feel it first hand as security staff at the club ejected pot smoker after pot smoker.

Despite the hassles at the club, event organizer Valerie Vande Panne called the event a tremendous success. "We wanted to raise awareness of the drug war in different communities, and I think we did that," she told DRCNet. "We provided a lot of people with information, and now they are thinking about the drug war in ways they hadn't before," she said. "And this was the most ethnically diverse drug war event I've ever attended. We planted seeds in a lot of New York City communities."

About 45 bike messengers met at Tompkins Square Park at 4:20pm and received packages of fake marijuana, cocaine, LSD, crack and "happy pills" to be delivered to media production companies, private clubs and the bathroom of a punk rock music store. The bikers zoomed off on their missions, stopping by the police lock-up at 100 Center Street to "bail out" friends and delivering their fake drugs before proceeding to the finish line. The winner, Mike Macca of Adelaide, Australia, took home the prize bike messenger bag after the first five finishers, perhaps suffering from short-term memory loss, neglected the final checkpoint on the race.

"Adelaide has the best, most liberal weed laws in Australia," Macca told drugwar.com, which has a detailed account of the event including photographs (http://www.drugwar.com/pdrugrace.shtm). "They're much better about weed at home than are authorities here in the US, and people are much less paranoid."

The race and party will benefit the newly-formed Drug War Awareness Project, a NY-based organization dedicated to using art and education to raise awareness of drug war harms. "In 1988, Congress passed a law saying we would be drug-free by 1995," said Vande Panne. "Now, it's 2002 and the drugs are still here and so are all the harms from drug prohibition. By replicating the daily reality of drug dealing in this city, we show how the drug war has failed. But this is just the beginning."

People interested in the Drug War Awareness Project can contact Vande Panne at [email protected].


10. Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Doctor Suspended, Fined, Put on Probation

The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners has settled on sanctions against Molalla osteopath Dr. Phillip Leveque, who has signed medical marijuana applications for almost 2,000 Oregonians. Leveque will be suspended for 90 days beginning May 1, fined $5,000, and placed on 10 years probation with the medical board. The board's order also requires Leveque to follow "accepted standards" of medical care when signing medical marijuana applications.

Leveque told the Associated Press he agreed to the order because he feared the board would revoke his license if he refused, and he criticized the board's action as misguided. "This is harming my patients," he said. "This isn't harming me." He told AP he would use the three months to travel the state lobbying for the medical marijuana program and for ballot measures to ease access to it.

Leveque was accused of signing applications without conducting physical exams or sometimes without meeting them. He responded that some of his patients were disabled and lived in far-off, remote places. He consulted with them by phone after they mailed in their records, he said. He also lambasted Oregon doctors for refusing to participate in the state's medical marijuana program. Leveque has signed nearly 40% of the 3,600 applications filed in the state since the medical marijuana law went into effect three years ago. Only 5% of Oregon doctors have signed even one medical marijuana application, according to the state office that administers the program.

Visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/226.html#drleveque for previous DRCNet coverage of Dr. Leveque.


11. Newsbrief: No Room at the Jail for Indianapolis Marijuana Possessors

Judges in Marion County (Indianapolis), IN, de facto decriminalized use and possession of small amounts of marijuana on April 18. With the county corrections system facing fines for overcrowding under an order from US District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, a three-judge executive committee ordered police to quit arresting minor marijuana offenders, prostitutes and unlicensed drivers, the Indianapolis Star reported. Those minor offenders will instead be given the equivalent of traffic tickets and ordered to appear in court at a later date.

A week earlier, Judge Barker had held the county in contempt over its failure to redress overcrowding at the temporary holding facility at the City-County Building. The jail is used to house those arrested until they face a judge for the first time or post bond. She warned that she would impose steep fines beginning May 1 for each day the facility exceeded its 297-person cap and for each inmate held longer than four days. The city violated that cap three times over the weekend of April 19-21.

The move gained the support of the Indianapolis Star, whose editorialists on Monday wrote: "Slapping marijuana smokers, shoplifters and prostitutes with summonses to appear is a reasonable alternative to hauling them to jail. Those types of offenders rarely pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. Cleaning up neighborhoods requires deeper solutions than locking up offenders for short periods of time. Nothing in the judges' order changes that fact. Community safety isn't being sacrificed, and criminals aren't being coddled. Instead, a rational solution has been applied to avert fines that would have hurt every taxpayer in the county."

Not everyone was so enlightened. Bonnie Dotts, president of the We Care Neighborhood Association, a group that has attempted to rid the Washington Street and Belmont Avenue area of prostitutes and drug users, compared the beneficiaries of the move to insects. "These bugs on the streets are going to have a joyous day," Dotts told the Star. "It may be the answer for them Downtown, but it's another problem for the neighborhoods."


12. Newsbrief: Britain's New Scientist Slams Ecstasy Alarmists

The New Scientist, a well-respected British journal, has jumped into the controversy over the damage down by repeated ecstasy (MDMA) use with both feet. And what it reports is not going to make people happy at the DEA. The New Scientist reviewed the literature on neurological damage related to ecstasy, spoke with the experts, and determined that fears stated by US officials have little basis in fact.

The New Scientist cited former National Institute of Drug Abuse director Alan Leshner as representative of the American position, and took it from there. "There is across-the-board agreement that brain damage does occur," the journal quoted Leshner as telling Congress last summer. Research, he added, has "unequivocally shown that MDMA literally damages brain cells."

Whoa, not so fast, good buddy, the New Scientist wrote. "New Scientist went behind the scenes to talk to a wide range of researchers. We found that no such agreement exists. Nobody claims ecstasy is benign. It isn't, and never could be -- no drug is. Yet few of the experts we contacted believe that research has yet proved ecstasy causes lasting damage to human brain cells or memory. Far from it, according to some, the highest-profile evidence to date simply cannot be trusted."

NIDA and the DEA have handed out millions of postcards purporting to show blotchy areas in the brains of ecstasy users. Those postcards have been a key tool of the US government's anti-ecstasy campaign, but the New Scientist scoffed, saying it just ain't so. "The brain scans do not prove ecstasy damages serotonergic neurons," one researcher, who asked for anonymity, told the journal. "Whether to use the evidence is therefore a matter of politics rather than science."

"There are no holes in the brains of ecstasy users," Stephen Kish, a neuropathologist at the Center for Addiction and Health in Toronto told the New Scientist. "And if anyone wants a straightforward answer to whether ecstasy causes any brain damage, it's impossible to get one from these papers [the research to date on ecstasy]." Marc Laruelle, a Columbia University expert on brain scanning probes, agreed, saying, "All the papers have very significant scientific limitations that make me uneasy."

The entire article and accompanying New Scientist editorial are available online at http://www.newscientist.com -- searchers will have to obtain a free trial membership to access the New Scientist archives.


13. Alerts: HEA, 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.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/


14. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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] or visit http://dgelbtuch.web.wesleyan.edu for further information.

April 30, Chenango Valley, NY, "A Day of Alternative Discussion." Chenango Valley High School hosts presentations on a variety of social justice issues, to include drug policy presentations by retired police captain Peter Christ of ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy and Mary Barr. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 488-3630 or [email protected] for further information.

May 1, 3:00-7:00pm, San Diego, CA, "End the Drug War Rally," monthly in front of the Federal and State Courthouses at the intersection of Front and Broadway, downtown. Organized by the San Diego Libertarian Party, signs will be provided but participants are also encouraged to bring them. Contact Gardner Osborne at [email protected] or (858) 459-7382 or visit http://www.sdlp.org for further information.

May 1, 7:00pm, Baltimore County, MD, "War on Drugs Forum: Winnable War or Horrible Mistake?" Featuring drug historian Keith Halderman and University of Maryland at Baltimore County professor Rev. Ambrose Lane, in Commons 330, UMBC campus, sponsored by the UMBC Libertarians and the UMBC NAACP. Contact Rich Goldman at [email protected] for further information, and visit http://www.umbc.edu/aboutumbc/directions.html for directions.

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.

May 6, noon-4:00pm, Seattle, WA, "Hepatitis C: The Epidemic With a Voice, Ours," 2002 Statewide Awareness and Educational Day. At the Langston Hughes Performance Center, 104 17th Avenue South, contact (206) 328-5381 or (866) HEP-GOGO for further information.

May 6, 7:00pm, New York, NY, "Mothers Behind Bars: Incarcerated Women and Their Children." Forum at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 W. 44th St, call (212) 382-6600 or visit http://www.abcny.org for further information.

May 7, 6:00pm, Washington, DC, educational reception for the Harm Reduction Coalition, featuring Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and HRC director Allan Clear. At the offices of Common Sense for Drug Policy, 1327 Harvard Street, NW, RSVP to [email protected].

May 7, 7:00pm, Washington, DC, "Psychedelic Zion," video on the rave culture in Israel and its legal battle with the authorities. Presented as part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival. At the DCJCC, Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, 16 & Q Streets, $6 members, $8.50 general, $1 student or senior discount, call (800) 494-8497 for tickets or visit http://www.dcjcc.org/music.htm for info.

May 7, 7:30pm, Santa Monica, CA, "The Drug Scare: McCarthyism in the 21st Century, Persecution in the Name of Patriotism," forum with columnist Arianna Huffington and Ethan Nadelmann and Deborah Small of the Drug Policy Alliance. At Track 16 Gallery, Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Bldg. C-1. RSVP requested, call (310) 827-3046 or visit http://www.drugpolicy.org for further information.

May 8, noon, New York, NY, Mothers of the New York Disappeared rally against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At 40th St. & 8th Ave., across the street from Gov. Pataki's office, call (212) 539-8441 or visit http://www.kunstler.org for further information.

May 9, 5:00-7:00pm, New York, NY, meeting of the Criminal Justice Alliance for the Drop the Rock Campaign. At the Correctional Association, 135 E. 15th St., contact Tamar Kraft-Stolar at (212) 254-5700 ext. 306 or [email protected].

May 13, 10:00am, New York, NY, meeting of the Coalition for Women Prisoners. At the Correctional Association, 135 E. 15th St., contact Julie Kowitz at (212) 254-5700 x314 or [email protected] for further information.

May 21, 6:00-9:00PM, Menands, NY, Criminal Justice Soiree. Italian buffet dinner with no speakers, at the Schuyler Inn, 575 Broadway, admission $12. For further information, contact Allison Coleman at (518) 453-6659 or [email protected].

May 23, Portland, OR, noon-1:30pm, "Rethinking the War on Drugs," luncheon forum with New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Sponsored by the Cascade Policy Institute, at the Benson Hotel, Mayfair Ballroom, 309 SW Broadway. RSVP to (503) 242-0900 or [email protected], or visit http://www.cascadepolicy.org/pdf/events/Gov_Johnson_Web_Flyer.pdf for further information.

June 8, 1:00pm, DeWitt, NY, ReconsiDer Annual Meeting. Featuring Jack Cole, retired New Jersey state undercover detective, at Memorial Unitarian Universalists Church, 3800 E. Genesee. Contact Jim Schofield at (315) 471-2514 or [email protected] for further information.

June 8-9, St. Petersburg, FL, The Second Annual Conference on Adolescent Drug Treatment Abuse. Sponsored by The Trebach Institute, with survivors of abusive treatment programs and other concerned parties. Early registration $100, visit http://www.trebach.org/abuse/conf2002/ for further information.

June 15, New York, NY, Drop the Rock march and concert/rally, location and time to be announced. Contact Tamar Kraft-Stolar at (212) 254-5700 x306 or [email protected] for further information.

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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