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

Issue #237, 5/17/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Medical Marijuana Wars Heat Up: Activists Announce Day of Direct Action Against DEA, Plan Emergency Response to Expected Raids
  2. Anti-Drug Ads a Flop, Says Drug Czar, Please Give Us Money for More
  3. MarijuanaInfo.org: New Medical Marijuana Web Site Provides Forum for Warring Views, In-Depth Exploration of Issue
  4. Budget Crunch I: As Oklahoma Goes Broke, Drug War Fuels Ever-Increasing Prison Budgets
  5. Budget Crunch II: Massachusetts Vote Imperils All of State's Methadone Clinics, Supporters Mobilizing
  6. Prison Reform Advocates Blast 7 UP Commercial for Trivializing Prison Rape, Call for Boycott of Cadbury Schweppes Product
  7. Newsbrief: Nevada Petition Drive to Legalize Marijuana Possession Underway
  8. Newsbrief: Madison "Suspends" Raves at County Venue
  9. Newsbrief: Barr Booed for Anti-Pot Remarks in Home District Event
  10. Newsbrief: Canadian Mounties Follow US Lead, Discover "Drug-Terror" Connection
  11. Newsbrief: Canada Prisons Propose Ignoring Inmate Cannabis Use
  12. Newsbrief: Afghan Warlords Allied to US Growing Rich Off Opium Trade, Says Expert
  13. Newsbrief: Dionne Warwick Busted for Marijuana at Airport Amidst Heightened Airline Security
  14. Newsbrief: Pipe Bong Found in Rural Illinois Mailbox
  15. Clarification from Dana Beal
  16. Articles and Resources
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Medical Marijuana Wars Heat Up: Activists Announce Day of Direct Action Against DEA, Plan Emergency Response to Expected Raids

California-based medical marijuana activists have called for a national day of nonviolent "direct action to push back the DEA" at DEA offices nationwide on Thursday, June 6. According to Americans for Safe Access, or ASA (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the group organizing the day of action, the DEA is set to swoop down on California medical marijuana dispensaries on or soon after June 6, the day before US Circuit Judge Charles Breyer is expected to issue a permanent injunction barring medical marijuana distribution dispensaries under federal law.

"This is a proactive measure to put the federal government on notice," said ASA's Stephanie Scherer, one of the campaign's lead organizers. "We will be doing direct actions and civil disobedience, which is a tactical escalation," she told DRCNet. "We have played by the rules, we got laws passed in various states, we worked with state governments, we worked with local law enforcement, we've done everything by the book and still this campaign of terror against medical marijuana patients and providers continues," said Scherer. "The Bush administration is pushing us to the next level. Bush cannot attack the democratic process like this. We are taking a zero-tolerance stand on federal interference with medical marijuana in the states."

The primary target will be local DEA offices across the country, which will be served with "cease and desist" orders demanding that the agency keep hands off medical marijuana patients and providers. Other creative actions, including civil disobedience, are being planned, said Scherer.

"We will also on June 6 send President Bush a letter listing our demands," she added. "Those demands are that they cease this campaign of terror on patients, dispensaries, and caregivers, that Bush endorse the Barney Frank Bill (H.R. 2592, providing for states' rights to enact medical marijuana protections), and that all prosecutions against medical marijuana growers, dispensaries and patients stop now."

ASA is a special campaign of the Cannabis Action Network (http://www.cannabisaction.net), but is also part of a coalition of allied organizations, including NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Campaign for Sensible Drug Policies, the Drug Policy Alliance, DrugSense and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said Scherer.

Although the call only went out on Tuesday, actions are already confirmed in 20 cities, primarily on the West Coast, said Scherer. "But every couple of hours, we get a call telling us about another one," she added. More than 150 people have already signed up on the emergency listserv, she said. (By way of comparison, hemp activists were able to target 73 DEA offices in their December action against DEA attempts to ban hemp-based foods with even negligible THC content.)

Organizers are making it easy for interested parties to participate. ASA provides an organizers' manual and sample "cease and desist" order at its web site and is coordinating with the Washington, DC-based Mintwood Media Collective to whip up press attention. "We can help people with legal support, how to do media, how to do grassroots organizing and civil disobedience, all of that," said Scherer.

While the June 6 actions are proactive -- "putting the government on notice," as Scherer put it -- organizers are also preparing emergency response actions to confront any future raids (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/234.html#calmedmj). "We're doing direct action tours on the weekend of June 1-2 and will hit eight West Coast cities" to lay the groundwork for both reactive and proactive responses, said Scherer.

"We have to protect patients and their access to medical marijuana," said Scherer, "so we have to escalate our tactics." It could be a long hot summer for the DEA in California this year.


2. Anti-Drug Ads a Flop, Says Drug Czar, Please Give Us Money for More

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), also known as the drug czar's office, has spent nearly a billion dollars in the last five years on paid anti-drug advertising aimed at reducing teen drug use. This week, drug czar John Walters admitted that the scandal-plagued program was a bust.

"This campaign isn't reducing drug use," Walters told the Wall Street Journal on Monday in the first of a series of interviews designed to preempt criticism and spin the unhappy story in a way favorable to his desire for more funds for even more anti-drug ads. "It hasn't had an effect on young people's abuse," Walters told ABC News Tuesday night. "The goal is to drive abuse down," he explained.

The taxpayer-funded advertising campaign, which has so far cost $929 million, included more than 200 TV commercials using popular performers such as the Dixie Chicks and Mary J. Blige in an effort to turn kids away from drugs. Instead, the ads appear to have had no impact whatsoever, according to the drug czar's report on advertising efficacy. (The report did not cover the recent "drugs and terrorism" campaign that began on Superbowl Sunday and have proven highly controversial, if not effective.)

Now, Walters wants more money for more ads, only this time, he said, the ads will be more effective because they will be harder-edged, much like the widely-ridiculed "this is your brain on drugs" campaign of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The incoming drug czar wants to spend another $180 million this year. In fact, Walters has spent a busy week making the difficult argument that while the ad campaigns had failed, they deserve additional funding. And he will target marijuana use, he said.

"The new ad campaign is going to provide more direct messages about the real threats," Walters promised. "We are going to turn and more directly look at marijuana."

"This is just one more example of how they deal with their failed drug war; in fact, it's like a fable for the entire drug war. If it fails, do more of the same," said Kevin Zeese, head of Common Sense for Drug Policy (http://www.csdp.org), which has long criticized heavy anti-drug spending as a boondoggle that fails to achieve its stated purpose.

"If the drug war were evaluated like most other federal programs, we would have tried different strategies long ago. But our current policy seems to follow its own unique logic," said Sanho Tree, director of drug policy for the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, DC-based public policy think tank. "A decline in drug use becomes evidence that we should invest more money and resources in the National Drug Control Strategy because it is working. A rise in drug use becomes proof that we are not doing enough to fight drugs, and must redouble our efforts and funding," he told DRCNet. "Under this unsustainable dynamic, funding and incarceration rates can only rachet upward," he said.

Walters said this week that his office would review its advertising campaign every six months and do pre-testing of the ads to ensure their effectiveness before they hit the airwaves. But CSDP's Zeese called that damage control and faulted the mass media for letting Walters get away with it.

"The media allowed Walters to spin this unchallenged, including his usual false statements," said Zeese. "On ABC, he said from now on we're going to review these studies -- they're already doing that. And he said we're going to pre-test those commercials -- they're already doing that."

A particularly egregious example of media mis-coverage of the controversy came Tuesday night on CNN's Crossfire -- a program that purports to pit opposing views of the right and left against each other. On Tuesday night, viewers hoping to gain perspective on the ad campaign were instead treated to the spectacle of two rabid drug warriors, former Clinton era drug czar flack Bob Weiner and current good-buddy of the Bush administration Robert Maginnis of the religious far-right Family Research Council, arguing among themselves over whether Clinton or Bush had the better failed anti-drug advertising campaign.

Some advertising professionals doubt that such campaigns will ever succeed no matter how much tweaking is done. Bob Garfield of Advertising Age magazine told ABC News that ads are good for getting people to act, but not so good at getting people not to act. "It is one thing to think about an issue in the abstract and then come face to face with the moment of impulse," said Garfield. "And I am telling you categorically: Advertising is not equipped to handle moments of impulse."

For Zeese, Walter's request for more funding is worse than misguided. "They want almost $200 million for tough new ads," Zeese said. "If they would use that money for after-school programs, that would be a huge increase in their funding and could make a huge difference. If you look at anti-drug advertising, drug prevention education and after-school programs, only the latter have been proven effective," he said.

"The others are only drug war propaganda tools. Science has shown that anti-drug propaganda doesn't work," Zeese continued. "If you want to help kids, it's really pretty simple: invest in them."


3. MarijuanaInfo.org: New Medical Marijuana Web Site Provides Forum for Warring Views, In-Depth Exploration of Issue

A recently launched web site, MarijuanaInfo.org (http://www.MarijuanaInfo.org), is attempting to bring an unbiased, scientific approach to the contentious issue of medical marijuana. Shaped around a central question -- should smoked marijuana be a medical option now? -- the easy to use web site provides a massive FAQ on various related topics, along with responses from scientific studies, experts and interested laypersons, all ranked on a straightforward "credibility scale."

Examples of the dozens of topics covered include "Marijuana's Medical Value," "Medical and Other Risks," "Legal Issues" and "Gateway/Stepping Stone Theory." The responses are concise and often authoritative, citing such landmark studies as the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana.

MarijuanaInfo.org attempts to present a broad spectrum of views on the medical marijuana issue and its myriad sub-issues, and appears well on the way to doing so. Contributors so far include the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Epilepsy Association, Dr. Denis J. Petro, Dr. Ethan Russo, and numerous others on the "pro" side. Organizations and individuals quoted on the "con" side include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Dr. Eric A. Voth, Dr. Daniel Brookoff and dozens of others.

"There was not another web site that provided information on both sides of the medical marijuana issue in an unbiased format," MarijuanaInfo.org told DRCNet.

The nonprofit project was launched by Los Angeles businessman Steve Markoff and is only the latest of his forays into the public policy arena. Markoff previously established similar "point-counterpoint" web sites dealing with nuclear power and former California Supreme Court Justice Rose Byrd, and has demonstrated a commitment to supporting enlightened public policy debate in an unbiased, non-politicized fashion.

"By recruiting physicians, scientists, judges, authors, government officials, patients and activists to provide answers, pro and con, the web site allows readers to come to their own conclusions about each question," MarijuanaInfo.org said in response to a DRCNet inquiry. "Those who answer each question are identified and links are provided to descriptions of their individual history and experience. The site should be a valuable resource to reporters and editors, as well as public officials, looking for an unbiased presentation of the facts, expert opinion on both sides of the issues, and quotes that can be incorporated into articles and reports."

Interested parties are urged to check it out and add their own wisdom.


4. Budget Crunch I: As Oklahoma Goes Broke, Drug War Fuels Ever-Increasing Prison Budgets

Oklahoma's drug war, driven by the incorrigible incarcerators in the legislature and prosecutors' offices across the state, has turned into a huge black hole, sucking up tax dollars and human beings alike. Like more than 40 other states, Oklahoma is facing a bleeding treasury and a budget deficit this coming fiscal year, but even as other programs have been slashed across the board, the state Department of Corrections keeps gobbling up more to incarcerate more drug offenders. Although prison spending has nearly doubled in 10 years, to almost $400 million this year, in February Corrections wanted $46 million in "supplemental" appropriations to house more inmates. It got $9 million from lawmakers gloomily eying a fiscal forecast growing more dire by the day. Emergency across-the-board budget cuts at all state agencies announced in April would cost the department roughly $6 million in the current quarter, but Corrections moved to sidestep that cut by coming back last week with a new "supplemental" request, this time for $26 million. And Corrections is lining up for a battle for even more funds next year.

So it goes in Oklahoma, the state where multi-century sentences are not uncommon and multi-millenium ones not unheard of. But it's not heinous mass murderers and serial rapists filling the cellblocks in Oklahoma, it's drug offenders and drunk drivers, according to a report given to the legislature last week by the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center (OCJRC), a state agency. During the 2001 fiscal year, OCJRC reported, fully one-third (33.4%) of all new inmates were drug offenders, the majority of them for simple possession, usually of methamphetamine, the most hyped drug menace throughout the region. An additional 10% of new inmates were drunk drivers. Violent criminals, on the other hand, accounted for only 13.7% of new inmates.

The report abounded with other statistics that demonstrate the harshness of Oklahoma justice. First-time drug possessors, for instance, had an average sentence length of nearly four years. Also, more than 37% of all those sentenced to prison during the year had no prior felony convictions. And the legislature is hearing about the consequences of such policies as well. Last month, OCJRC and the Department of Corrections warned that the prison population, now 22,000, will grow by 6% in the next two years. The increase will require an additional $11.4 million in the coming fiscal year alone, not welcome news as the state faces a $350 million budget deficit and further program slashing.

The costs are starting to force change in Oklahoma. Gov. Frank Keating (R), no soft-on-crime liberal, has proposed possible sentencing reforms that would send nonviolent first-time drug offenders to treatment or community centers. The state's Sentencing Commission is reviewing that proposal now. And an ongoing community sentencing program to divert low-level offenders kept 896 people out of prison last year. But that constituted only 5% of all felons that year, and the system is still growing.

Legislators are beginning to balk at the continuing high bills for locking up minor offenders. "The obscenity is spending less than $5,000 to educate a child and more than $20,000 on a felon," said Sen. Dick Wilkerson (D-Atwood) earlier this session. "It just flies in the face of logic." Wilkerson, who heads the Public Safety and Judiciary appropriations subcommittee that hears corrections budget requests, is in a key position to push sentencing reform, and has criticized hard-nosed solons and prosecutors "who think they are doing the Lord's work."

Meanwhile, Oklahoma taxpayers are paying out the nose and nonviolent drug users are going to its prison by the thousands each year.


5. Budget Crunch II: Massachusetts Vote Imperils All of State's Methadone Clinics, Supporters Mobilizing

The budgetary crisis sweeping the states this year -- 43 will run budget deficits, according to the latest reports -- is hitting Massachusetts hard, and lawmakers have responded by, among other things, voting to cut all funding for the state's 40 methadone clinics. The clinics provide the opioid methadone as a treatment for heroin addiction, and also require participants to undergo mandatory weekly counseling and random drug tests. Public health officials, methadone advocates and even police officials are warning that shutting down the clinics will adversely affect both the public health and the crime rate.

With plenty of cheap, high purity heroin available and heroin use on the rise, according to public health officials, the cuts are particularly ill-timed. Dime bags of heroin now go for as little as $4, the Boston Globe reported this week -- about the price of a pack of cigarettes, the paper noted -- and the stuff is 80% pure, up from 15% a few years ago. Heroin users are filling 40% of state hospital drug treatment slots, running a close second to alcohol. In Boston alone, more than 10,000 residents were hospitalized last year for treatment for heroin addiction, said the Globe.

"The shift to heroin in recent years has been dramatic -- it's the highest it's ever been," James O'Connell, president of Healthcare for the Homeless told the Globe. "This is a huge public health problem, and methadone is the most effective way to treat it."

Nearly 11,000 people are currently enrolled in methadone programs in the state, said Tom Scott of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Division of Substance Abuse. More than three-quarters of those people would lose their slots in methadone maintenance programs, he told the Boston Herald.

"The human impact would be devastating," added John Auerbach, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

"Elimination of the Massachusetts methadone maintenance programs would be nothing short of a public health disaster," said Mark W. Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (http://www.americanmethadone.org), an advocacy group representing more than nearly 700 treatment programs across the US. "The programs in Massachusetts have been in existence for more than two decades and are responsible for saving the lives of thousands of individuals," he told DRCNet. "It is inconceivable that the state legislature would put so many lives in jeopardy," he said.

But that's precisely what the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee did late in April as budget deficits spiraled out of control. As part of $1.5 billion in budget cuts distributed across state agencies, members voted to axe the $25 million appropriation that would have kept the clinics up and running. But if fiscal pressures spurred the lawmakers, several, including committee chair John Rogers (D-Norwood), revealed philosophical opposition to methadone maintenance in their comments, as well as crime concerns. "It's not that I don't feel for these people, but there are programs that are drug-free and that work better than just giving people another drug," Rep. Cheryl Rivers (D-Springfield), told the Globe. Rivers favored an abstinence-only approach to heroin addiction, calling for detox or other cold-turkey programs. She also complained that the two clinics in her district have created crime problems.

So did Chairman Rogers, who called the clinics "a nightmare" for their neighbors.

DRCNet could not obtain a breakdown of clinic-related crime, but in attempting to do so, did find an editorial from the New England Journal of Medicine last November. In a discussion of "new opportunities" in treating opiate dependence, the journal noted: "Methadone maintenance can decrease the use of illicit drugs and crime and help patients function better, gain employment, and contribute to society. It can also prevent health problems such as HIV infection and is thus a cost-effective public health intervention."

If the lawmakers don't get it, some police officials do. "When these people want these drugs, they're going to get it -- the addiction is that great," Lt. Frank Armstrong, commander of the Boston Police Drug Control Division, told the Globe. "What is the better good: that hundreds go to methadone clinics or that they're about town scurrying for more drugs?"

The state's budget battle is not yet over, and advocates vow to fight to restore the funding, but legislative opposition to maintaining addicts even on legal substitute opioids in a controlled setting combined with the suddenly shriveling state treasury may well doom the clinics.

But advocates are mobilizing for a last-ditch effort to save the clinics. "There has not yet been a final vote," said Parrino of the treatment association. "Our Massachusetts associates are working with other groups to have these funds restored," he told DRCNet. "I'm certain that the Massachusetts methadone maintenance providers and patient advocates will find a solution to this issue."

Only time will tell whether Parrino is whistling past the graveyard, so to speak.

Visit the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates at http://www.methadone.org for information on this issue from a patient/advocate perspective. Resource information is also available from Advocates for Recovery Through Medicine, http://members.aol.com/r2135/ online.


6. Prison Reform Advocates Blast 7 UP Commercial for Trivializing Prison Rape, Call for Boycott of Cadbury Schweppes Products

Organizations including Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) and Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) have called for a boycott of the soft drink 7 UP and other products of the umbrella company that owns 7 UP, Cadbury Schweppes. At issue is a television commercial that the organizations charge makes light of the pervasive problem of prison rape.

According to SPR, the commercial, which is titled "Captive Audience," begins with a 7 UP spokesman handing out 7 UP in a prison. He drops a can and says, "I'm not picking that up," alluding to the common "don't drop the soap" joke. Later, he sits in a cell, is hugged by an inmate, and says "When you bring the 7 UP, everyone is your friend." The spokesman then nervously adds, "Okay, that's enough being friends," and the cell door slams.

A sign-on letter coordinated by SPR and endorsed by 79 other organizations last month failed to persuade 7 UP's manufacturers to cease their use of the commercial, so CURE, supported by SPR, has called for the boycott. In addition to 7 UP, other products to avoid include Dr. Pepper, A&W Root Beer, Sunkist, Canada Dry, Squirt, Hawaiian Punch, RC Cola, Slush Puppie, Schweppes/Cadbury Schweppes, Welch's, Country Time Lemonade mix, Orangina, Snapple, Mott's Juices and Applesauce and Cadbury Chocolates.

Advocates also suggest writing to: Dora Roberts, Head of Group Public Relations, Cadbury Schweppes plc, 23 Berkely Square, London WIJ 6HB, United Kingdom. (Airmail to the UK costs 80 cents.)

To receive periodic updates about sexual violence in prison, visit http://www.topica.com/lists/notpartofthepenalty/ to subscribe to the listserv that SPR cosponsors with the ACLU National Prison Project and Human Rights Watch. Visit SPR and CURE at http://www.spr.org and http://www.curenational.org online. Read an article and in-depth interview on the prison rape topic that DRCNet ran last April at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/182.html in our archives.


7. Newsbrief: Nevada Petition Drive to Legalize Marijuana Possession Underway

Marijuana activists in Nevada last weekend began a signature-gathering drive for an initiative that would amend the state constitution to allow adults to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana. The initiative also calls for marijuana to be taxed like tobacco and for a medical distribution system that would ensure that low cost marijuana could be obtained for medical reasons. Smoking in public while driving or operating heavy machinery would be penalized, however, and the weed couldn't be used or sold in schools, jails or prisons.

The drive is being organized by Nevadans for Effective Law Enforcement in conjunction with the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, which has provided $50,000 for the signature-gathering effort, organizers said.

Organizers are facing a very tight timeline to gather the necessary signatures. They need to get the signatures of 10% of Nevada voters -- some 61,336 -- by June 18. Under Nevada law, the petition organizers must also get signatures from 10% of registered voters in at least 13 of the state's 17 counties. Gail Tuzzolo, spokeswoman for the Nevada group, has admitted that the drive is "a long shot" given the short window of opportunity for signature-gathering, but organizers are racing to meet the deadline.

Under Nevada law, for an initiative to amend the constitution to become law, it must be passed by voters in two consecutive elections. Medical marijuana proponents were able to do just that in the 1999 and 2001 elections. Nevada also recently revised its marijuana laws so that simple possession of small amounts is no longer a felony.


8. Newsbrief: Madison "Suspends" Raves at County Venue

Dane County, WI, whose largest city is Madison, has suspended all "raves" at the county-owned Alliant Center. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk told officials at the large venue that late-night techno music events are suspended while she looks into whether the county can ban the events outright.

The move came days after a sensationalistic article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describing an April 27-28 techno event at the center as awash in drugs. The Journal Sentinel quoted police officers on the scene as estimating that 90% to 100% of the crowd was using ecstasy and reveled in descriptions of "drugged out ravers in fanciful dress [flitting] around as scratchy techno music throbs... Some wear translucent butterfly wings on their backs, powder blue bathrobes and Burger King crowns. As ecstasy users regress to childlike emotions, some clutch teddy bears," the newspaper reported.

The Dane County Sheriff's Department has long sought a ban on raves on the grounds that they are simply drug-fests, but prior to this week the county had resisted, instead resorting to audience size caps (3,000) and banning such raver accoutrements as glow sticks and pacifiers. The move in Madison follows similar efforts to restrict or ban raves across the country. In Chicago, the city adopted an ordinance allowing criminal charges to be pressed against owners of rave venues where drug use has been documented. In Milwaukee, local officials ran raves out of town with a massive warehouse bust a decade ago. In Austin, heavy-handed local police and DEA officials threatened club owners with criminal prosecutions if drug use occurred at raves. There are many other examples.


9. Newsbrief: Barr Booed for Anti-Pot Remarks in Home District Event

Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), a former prosecutor, occasional libertarian, and hard-line opponent of any drug law reform, got less than a warm welcome from attendees at a debate in conservative west Cobb County in his home district Monday night. Barr, who among other accomplishments, can personally claim credit for blocking Washington, DC voters' wishes to implement a medical marijuana regime in the District, was greeted with repeated catcalls and boos during his debate with radio talk show host and avowed Libertarian Neil Boortz.

"Just say no to drugs," said the congressman. "Just say no to Neil Boortz. There is no legitimate use whatsoever for marijuana," claimed Barr, ignoring a growing mountain of evidence that suggests just the opposite. "This is not medicine. This is bogus witchcraft," he fulminated. "It has no place in medicine, no place in pain relief, and it has no place around our children."

Barr also repeated the discredited "gateway drug" mantra, arguing that legalization of even medical marijuana would open the door to the "anarchy" of increased drug use and the "scourge of mind-altering drugs." And he rejected treating marijuana like alcohol or tobacco, saying that would be "comparing apples to oranges." He explained: "The difference is that people can take alcohol in modest amounts without it hindering their abilities."

It seems that even in conservative Cobb County, people are growing tired of the mélange of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies Barr and his ilk have to resort to in order to defend their failed drug war. Boortz, whose show is syndicated nationally, got a much more positive reaction from the crowd, which ranged from high school students to people in their 70s, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

"I own my own mind, the government does not. I control how I use it," said Boortz. "If I want to use it to do nothing but put Armor All on the wheels of my house trailer all day, that's my decision."


10. Newsbrief: Canadian Mounties Follow US Lead, Discover "Drug-Terror" Connection

Taking a cue from their big brothers to the south, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have suddenly discovered that Canadian drug users are supporting foreign terrorists and guerrilla organizations. The revelation came in the RCMP's latest annual survey of drug trends in Canada, "Drug Situation in Canada 2001" (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/crim_int/drugs_2001_e.htm).

The Mounties estimated that cocaine imported to Canada sends $50 million US to Colombian belligerents each, while hash and heroin imported from Southwest Asia sends up to $40 million heading for criminal sources there.

"Portions of these proceeds are used to finance terrorist and insurgent activity abroad," the report said. "Drug consumers are therefore supporting such terrorist and insurgent groups."

While the Mounties primly adjust the blinders that allow them to assume the same tunnel vision that afflicts their "drug terror" counterparts in the US, some Canadian analysts have a different take. Eugene Oscapella, a founding member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (http://www.cfdp.ca), told the National Post that it was not Canadian drug users but Canadian drug laws that enriched unsavory characters. "The only reason drugs finance terrorism is because of our policies prohibiting those drugs," said Oscapella. "We are making this drug trade so extraordinarily profitable for terrorist organizations that we might as well be handing them the cash on a silver platter."


11. Newsbrief: Canada Prisons Propose Ignoring Inmate Cannabis Use

In a proposal dated January 18 but just revealed over the weekend, the Correctional Service of Canada has proposed turning a blind eye to positive inmate drug test results for marijuana and hashish, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Saturday. Because of legal considerations -- cannabis is illegal in Canada -- the prison service proposed to continue testing for cannabis, but to ignore positive test results except when the drug use is considered problematic for the prisoner or could result in increased risk of criminal behavior.

The Correctional Service document, "Proposed Modifications to Urinalysis Program," described cannabis as a soft drug that sedates prisoners, does not impair their cognitive function and reduces violence. The paper added that marijuana has few side effects, is not a gateway drug and does not lead to dependence.

If implemented, the proposal would eviscerate the Correctional Service's "zero tolerance" policy on drugs. It would also lead to fewer sanctions against puffing prisoners and fewer people being returned to prison as parole violators for marijuana violations. The paper said marijuana users accounted for half of all positive drug tests.

The Correctional Service spent about $1.5 million US on drug tests on prisoners and parolees in 2000-2001.

The move is opposed by the prison guards' union, which accused the service of trying to hide a prison drug problem and save money.


12. Newsbrief: Afghan Warlords Allied to US Growing Rich Off Opium Trade, Says Expert

Opium and heroin dollars are filling the coffers of regional Afghan warlords allied with the US, long-time drug trafficking investigator Jack Blum told a House panel investigating international corruption last week. "The revenue of poppies is essential for the warlords supporting the United States," Blum told the panel.

The Washington lawyer and international financial crime expert, perhaps best known to drug policy people for his research into the Contra-cocaine connection in the 1980s, laid a heavy load of reality on his congressional audience, telling them any Afghan government would be hard-pressed to provide for its people and support the "war on terrorism" without relying on opium and heroin revenues.

"It's a terrible, terrible dilemma, because it is the only source of revenue the state has," said Blum. "It's possibly one of the most complicated, atrocious problems any one could understand." And as for chasing drug traffickers out of the country, said Blum, fat chance. "The problem of corruption surrounding drugs on that route is absolutely astonishing. I have no faith that any agreement to chase or not to chase would make any difference."


13. Newsbrief: Dionne Warwick Busted for Marijuana at Airport Amidst Heightened Airline Security

Though the drug war intrudes most often in the lives of the economically ordinary, every now and then a rich celebrity gets "popped" for possession. The latest was singer Dionne Warwick, a 61-year-old grandmother, who was detained Sunday at Miami International Airport after Comair security personnel found 11 suspected joints in her lipstick case. She was charged with possession of less than five grams of marijuana, ordered to appear in court at a later date, and released. She missed her flight.

While only anecdotal evidence exists -- DRCNet could find no source for numbers on people arrested carrying personal amounts of drugs through airports -- the occasional wire service report or celebrity bust suggests that more drug possessors are being caught as the nation's airports remain on high alert. The topic certainly made the rounds at last month's NORML conference, where at one unofficial meeting, several faces turned pale when the announcement went out that "They're busting people with pot in their crotch at San Francisco airport."

Many cannabis aficionados had favored the crotch-carry, while others swore by stuffing it in the checked baggage. Still others preferred not to mess with airport security at all, either sending supplies to their destinations by courier or hooking up once they hit town.

But not everyone has figured it out. On the same day that Warwick was arrested in Miami, authorities at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport evacuated the airport after a male passenger (unnamed in the wire report) was busted for marijuana after a random gate search. The marijuana-carrying passenger told airport security he thought he had a penknife in his luggage, but none was found. Thus the evacuation and thus the wire service story. But most airport marijuana possession busts don't make the news. Caveat aviator.


14. Newsbrief: Pipe Bong Found in Rural Illinois Mailbox

No, you were not inadvertently redirected to the web site of online humor purveyors The Onion, and no, this is not a typo. In the wake of "Smiley Face" mailbox bomber Luke Helder, who last month detonated pipe bombs in rural mailboxes throughout the Midwest, injuring six before he was arrested in Nevada, both residents and local law enforcement appear to be a bit jumpy. Thus the call to sheriff's deputies in Illinois' Sangamon County from a local woman who spotted a mysterious tube in her mailbox Tuesday morning.

It took deputies and the Illinois bomb squad two hours to determine that the multi-colored, tube-like object with liquid in the bottom was that device instantly recognizable to millions of college students: a bong. The device was successfully extracted and no injuries, but the culprit remains at large. Beware the Mad Bonger!


15. Clarification from Dana Beal

Last week, DRCNet wrote about the numerous Million Marijuana Marches worldwide (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/236.html#mmm), led by a loose coalition with Dana Beal of Cures Not Wars (http://www.cures-not-wars.org) at its head.

After publication of the article, Beal expressed dismay about one paragraph in the article and asked for a chance to clarify his remarks.

The paragraph in question read: "We don't have to go to their conferences," said Beal, who was visibly absent from last month's NORML conference in San Francisco. "If we are not welcome, we have our own international forum and movement. National NORML didn't even put us on their web site. I don't have time for those people."

While DRCNet stands by the accuracy of those remarks, we are happy to provide readers with Beal's response. It follows below:

"In your next to the last paragraph, you take a bit of liberty with the order in which I said things. At the beginning of the interview I APOLOGIZED for not going to the conference in San Francisco, but I explained that we were still adding cities at that point -- a process that requires someone be here to respond to e-mails right away, which I could not do if I was out of town for the four or five days it takes to really go to the west coast.

"For the record, I like going to NORML conferences. Even if our tendency is never prominent in the program, all my friends are there and I can get a fair amount done. (In fact, last year I went to the last day-and-a-half, and would have done so again this year, if it had been sensibly held in Washington, DC.)

"The remark about the NORML website was meant merely as an offhand illustration of the way in which the whole conference was not set up to showcase the Million Marijuana March 2002, making my presence there a lot less effective than staying at work right here.

"But you put my reaction to the "anti's" who simply abhor public marches and rallies FIRST, when in fact it was in response to the LAST question you asked, which came later in the interview, and was in no way meant to reflect on NORML as a whole, but only to say that if I was actually too busy to attend the conference, nothing would be gained by revisiting disputes of 10 years ago (and more).

"Far better to go out and recruit a hundred new cities than to infight.

"The idea that there is some kind of anti-NORML bias in the Million Marijuana March Coalition is patently ridiculous. Look at who's putting on the marches. It's all local NORML chapters! And National NORML propaganda is being distributed at them. If someone at the National Office or on the NORML Board really has such a big problem with public rallies and marches, all you can say is that I'm helping them out in spite of themselves.

"But I am concerned that highlighting a supposed dispute about public demonstrations (which I'm not even sure is really the issue) will only make good local organizers feel conflicted to the extent that they drop out before they can march again next year.

"We already have 106 cities signed up for the May 3, 2003 Global Cannabis March. We can easily make that 300. If everyone pitches in, we can make it 900, and finally mobilize a couple of million people worldwide."


16. Articles and Resources

Mother Jones magazine reports on the Higher Education Act Drug Provision:
http://www.motherjones.com/web_exclusives/features/news/updates.html#highered

A recent Baker Institute drug policy conference, "Moving Beyond the 'War on Drugs,'" can now be viewed online in RealVideo:
http://www.rice.edu/webcast/speeches/20020410drugpolicy.html

Dan Forbes reports on the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the "Drop the Rock" campaign as the draconian laws enter their 30th year:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13097

Ann Harrison reports on the Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet campaign:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13059

The Jamaica Gleaner reports on US threats against the small Caribbean nation if it decriminalizes ganja:
http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20010817/lead/lead1.html

Drug reports of questionable logic by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can be found online at:
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pdfs/cid/CanadaUSDrugThreat.pdf and
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/crim_int/drugs_2001_e.htm


16. Articles and Resources

Mother Jones magazine reports on the Higher Education Act Drug Provision:
http://www.motherjones.com/web_exclusives/features/news/updates.html#highered

A recent Baker Institute drug policy conference, "Moving Beyond the 'War on Drugs,'" can now be viewed online in RealVideo:
http://www.rice.edu/webcast/speeches/20020410drugpolicy.html

Dan Forbes reports on the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the "Drop the Rock" campaign as the draconian laws enter their 30th year:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13097

Ann Harrison reports on the Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet campaign:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13059

The Jamaica Gleaner reports on US threats against the small Caribbean nation if it decriminalizes ganja:
http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20010817/lead/lead1.html

Drug reports of questionable logic by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can be found online at:
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pdfs/cid/CanadaUSDrugThreat.pdf and
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/crim_int/drugs_2001_e.htm


17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

May 20, 10:00am, London, England, "Drugs: Is Legalisation the Answer?" Forum with the Foreign Policy Centre, launching Rowena Young's booklet "From War to work." At the Design Council, 34 Bow Street.

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.

May 27, Beaver Dam, WI, "Weedstock 2002." Contact Ben Masel at (608) 257-5456 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

June 6, nationwide, "National Day of Direct Action Against the DEA," protests in support of medical marijuana patients and providers. Visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org for 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 20-23, New York, NY, 10th National Roundtable on Women in Prison: A Journey In/Justice. Contact the Women's Prison Association at (212) 674-1163 or visit http://www.wpaonline.org/WEBSITE/rt.html 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].

June 29-July 1, Washington, DC, National Summit on the Impact of Incarceration on African American Families and Communities. Call (252) 396-0884 or visit http://www.keepthetrust.org/summit/ for information.

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.

August 24-29, Lagos, Nigeria, "Tenth International Conference on Penal Abolition." Contact Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) at 234-(0)1-4971356-8 or [email protected], Rittenhouse: A New Vision of Transformative Justice at (416) 972-9992 or [email protected], or visit http://www.interlog.com/~ritten/ 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.

September 30-October 1, Washington, DC, "National Symposium on Felony Disenfranchisement," conference sponsored by The Sentencing Project. Admission free, advance registration required, visit http://www.sentencingproject.org or call (202) 628-0871 for further information.

October 7-9, San Diego, CA, "Inside-Out: Fostering Healthy Outcomes for the Incarcerated and Their Families." Contact Stacey Shank of Centerforce at (559) 241-6162 for information.

November 6-8, 2002, St. Louis, MO, "2nd North American Conference on Fathers Behind Bars and on the Street." Call (434) 589-3036, e-mail [email protected] or visit http:/www.fcnetwork.org for information.

November 8-10, Anaheim, CA, combined national conference of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project. Early bird registration $150, $45 for students with financial need, visit http://www.mpp.org/conference/ for further information.

November 9, Anaheim, CA, Bill Maher benefit show for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project. Admission $50, or $1,000 VIP package including front-row seat and private reception with Bill Maher. Visit http://www.mpp.org/conference/ for further information.

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.

April 6-10, 2003, Chiangmai, Thailand, 14th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm. Details to follow, e-mail [email protected] to request a full announcement by mail.


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