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

Issue #251, 8/23/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead: Bob Barr Defeated in Georgia Primary
  2. Canadian Government Backs Away From Medical Marijuana, But Advocates See No Big Defeat
  3. NJ Weedman Jailed for Exercising Free Speech Rights -- Advocating Marijuana Legalization Violates Parole Conditions, Says State
  4. Seattle Hempfest Draws 150,000 for Smoking, Shopping and Rabble Rousing
  5. Newsbrief: State Dept. Official Forced to Eat Crow on FARC-Al Qaeda Link
  6. Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Campaign Gains Ally
  7. Newsbrief: French Government Moving Against Raves
  8. Newsbrief: Baltimore's "Federal Day" is No Holiday for Some
  9. Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Boom Continues, Second Crop Coming
  10. Newsbrief: SAMHSA DAWN Study Out, Drug Czar Quick to Spin
  11. Newsbrief: DEA Wants to Schedule 2C-T-7
  12. Newsbrief: Can We Make That a Line Item? Alabama County Gets Blatant on Asset Forfeiture as Revenue Enhancer
  13. Newsbrief: Wichita Judge Scolds Drug Squad for Misconduct
  14. Media Scan: New Scientist, JAMA, Forbes, ReconsiDer, MTF, BJS, CASA
  15. Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead: Bob Barr Defeated in Georgia Primary

Representative Bob Barr, the dogged and pugnacious drug warrior from the northern Atlanta suburbs, lost to Rep. John Lindner in Tuesday's Georgia Republican congressional primary. Although it appears Barr was felled primarily by a redistricting scheme that pitted him against another popular Republican incumbent in a new district designed by the Democratic Party controlled state legislature, drug reformers greeted his political demise with joy, and the Libertarian Party is taking a small share of the credit.

Barr is a former federal prosecutor whose combative, conservative, civil libertarianism -- he supported asset forfeiture reform, raised the alarm about the FBI's Carnivore program and spoke out about the excesses of the federal government in the wake of September 11 -- was marred by a blind spot the size of the Georgia Dome when it came to drug policy. Although Barr rose to national prominence and talk show ubiquity by becoming the first congressman to demand President Clinton's impeachment and then serving on the House impeachment team, it was his ideologically driven, pathologically moralistic stance on drug policy that has made him the bête noire of the medical marijuana movement.

Barr infuriated medical marijuana supporters and believers in democracy alike when he engineered amendments in Congress blocking Washington, DC, first from counting the votes for a successful 1998 medical marijuana initiative (it passed with 69% of the vote) and then from implementing it. He is also widely believed to have spurred the Justice Department to move against the medical marijuana movement in California through a letter he wrote last spring asking for a federal investigation into medical marijuana distribution -- much of it taking place with the active cooperation of state and local authorities in that state. Barr also once suggested using RICO laws designed to combat organized crime figures with lengthy sentences against drug reform advocates such as George Soros.

"This is glorious news for people who need medical marijuana to help them battle the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other terrible illnesses," said Robert Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org), which successfully challenged Barr's amendments in federal court and is leading the campaign for a DC medical marijuana initiative this year.

The Libertarians are happy, too. Barr became "public enemy number one" in the Libertarian Party's national spoiler strategy, which is targeting vulnerable congressional drug warriors in five districts across the country this year (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/247.html#libertarianplan). The party used the congressional candidacy of Libertarian stalwart Carol Ann Rand as a platform for an anti-Barr advertising campaign (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/249.html#lpads) featuring medical marijuana patient Cheryl Miller -- whom Barr had once dismissed as a "prop" -- asking, "Bob Barr thinks I should be in jail for using my medicine. Why would you do that to me, Bob?" "We targeted Bob Barr because he is simply the worst of the worst, and now he's gone," said Libertarian national political director Ron Crickenberger. "He was a prime voice against medical marijuana, and just having him gone will be significant change in the House," he told DRCNet.

But with Barr losing by a decisive 67% to 33% to Linder, the Libertarians were modest about their role in ousting the pugnacious prosecutor. "This was a blow-out and there were a lot of different factors at play," said Crickenberger. "We can only take a small part of the credit for his defeat. But we did make medical marijuana an issue in the race; the press asked about it, people asked about it at debates, and we ran 4,000 30-second commercials on cable TV in the last weeks of the campaign," Crickenberger said.

"Realistically, we were probably responsible for anything from a few hundred to a few thousand votes in that district," Crickenberger explained. "While that ended up not making the difference in this race, if we can muster the same number of votes in some other key districts with close races, we can be the margin of victory -- or defeat."

While Barr was a fulminating drug war fighter, primary winner John Linder's style is quieter but equally conservative. Both men supported gun rights, opposed abortion, and rejected medical marijuana. Linder's record on drug policy votes in Congress is just about as bad as Barr's, but there is a key difference, said Crickenberger. "If you look at congressional voting records, they almost all vote bad," the Libertarian strategist said. "But if you look at drug war bills, Barr was an instigator. In the last two sessions, he sponsored 33 anti-drug bills. Linder cosponsored three, and one of them was a slight amelioration of sentencing, the other two were cosponsored by half the House. There is no comparison between the two," Crickenberger concluded.

MPP's Kampia concurred that a key foe had been felled. "This is a huge boost for our new Washington, DC, medical marijuana initiative," Kampia said. "With our most vicious opponent out of the way, we now have a real chance to protect patients here in the nation's capital." In a press release celebrating Barr's defeat, Kampia pointed to Barr's efforts to block medical marijuana in DC. "Barr showed his contempt for democracy by trying to stop the votes from being counted," Kampia recalled. "When that got shot down in court, he still succeeded in thwarting the will of the District's voters by attaching a rider to the DC appropriations bill barring the measure from taking effect."

For the Libertarians, it's on to the November races, where the party has targeted some more of the "worst drug warriors in Congress" for defeat, including Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). For drug reformers, Tuesday marked a rare victory and the removal of an arch-nemesis.

But all was not good news in Georgia on Tuesday. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a 10-year veteran of the House and a cosponsor of such drug reform legislation as Rep. Barney Frank's (D-MA) H.R. 786 (repeal of the Higher Education Act's drug provision) and Rep. Maxine Waters' Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act (H.R. 1978, repeals mandatory minimum sentencing), lost her reelection bid in the Democratic primary, where she was defeated by challenger Denise Majette. Drug policy was not an issue in that race; McKinney lost after criticizing President Bush over policies related to September 11 and for not supporting some policies of the Israeli government, a sin that resulted in a flood of out-of-state, pro-Israel campaign contributions to Majette.

If McKinney was good on drug policy, however, Majette may hew a similar line. Although as yet untested, Majette talked a good game on her campaign web site: "With so many of our nation's young men in jail for nonviolent drug offenses, I am concerned that we have adopted and implemented a faulty policy on illegal drugs. From mandatory minimums to discriminatory enforcement, our policy is in chaos. I fail to see the wisdom in a society that has no problem locking its citizens in jail at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per year, per individual, while objecting to increased funding for education and job training."

Majette talks the talk; time will tell if she walks the walk.


2. Canadian Government Backs Away From Medical Marijuana, But Advocates See No Big Defeat

Canadian Health Minister Anne McLellan used an address before the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on Monday to publicly declare what many medical marijuana advocates had suspected for months: that the Canadian federal government will not implement a medical marijuana distribution system approved by former Health Minister Alan Rock. McClellan told the CMA, which is officially hostile to medical marijuana, that she is "uncomfortable" with people smoking anything and that Ottawa will not distribute medical marijuana until clinical trials have been completed. No such trials are underway, and McLellan did not indicate whether Health Canada had any firm plans to begin them.

"Nothing has really changed," said Rielle Capler, a spokesperson for Canada's largest medical marijuana dispensary, the BC Compassion Club Society (http://www.thecompassionclub.org) in Vancouver. "The government and the doctors are just making it publicly clear that they don't want to be involved. There are a lot of Canadians whose discomfort from illness is greater than Ann McLellan's discomfort, and the only difference now is that they feel disappointed and undermined by their own government," she told DRCNet. "They were hoping their medicine would be acknowledged and they wouldn't have to feel like criminals."

"I don't think the government's position has really changed, said Brian Taylor, long-time British Columbia marijuana activist and executive director of the Cannabis Research Institute (http://www.cannabisresearchinstituteinc.com), a medical marijuana growing system provider. "Health Canada has always been uncomfortable with supplying patients and didn't want to get involved in research," he told DRCNet. "To me, this indicates that Health Canada is opening the door to provincial control. The provinces need to get up off their asses and look at running this as a public service."

Health Canada was poised to enter the medical marijuana business in the wake of a 2000 Ontario Court of Appeals ruling giving the government one year to amend the law making it a crime for sick people to possess marijuana. Rather than the appeal the ruling, the Canadian Health Ministry under Rock took steps to implement a medical marijuana program, crafting regulations to permit qualified patients to obtain it, as well as providing a supply through a government-contracted grow op in Flin Flon, Manitoba. The Canadian government has already paid $4 million dollars to Prairie Plant Systems to grow the medicinal marijuana and received its first crop months ago, but had dithered ever since. Canada is contractually obligated to pay for 400 kilograms of marijuana from Flin Flon each year for the next four years.

According to Health Canada, at least 806 patients have qualified under the Health Ministry regulatory process so far. But those patients are caught in a legal twilight zone where it is legal to use medical marijuana but illegal to buy it.

Too bad, McLellan told the assembled doctors on Monday. "I understand the issues that we in this room have and feel in relation to the lack of scientific evidence, possible liability issues, and the fact that the federal Department of Health does find itself in the slightly ironic position when I am responsible for the single largest campaign of the federal government -- the anti-smoking campaign," she said.

"I don't mean to say that the courts made me do it or made Rock do it, although there is some truth to that. The courts took us down a certain path," she said, adding she hoped the Canadian Supreme Court would provide direction. "I hope this whole issue gets before the Supreme Court of Canada fairly soon so we will have the opportunity to reargue this case before the Supreme Court so we can get some clarity about what is happening here," she said.

The only problem with that statement is that there is no medical marijuana case headed for the Supreme Court. "The federal Department of Justice made a decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court at that time, said Toronto attorney Alan Young, adding that McLellan should know that since she was Justice Minister at the time. McLellan was being either "confused, or she's being very disingenuous," Young told the Toronto Globe & Mail.

McLellan added that she is "not insensitive to those who feel it helps in their final days or acute illness situations," but said that she owed it to Canadians to ensure that medicines were tested safe and effective.

The BC Compassion Club Society's Capler wasn't buying that. "The government -- and the doctors -- should acknowledge that cannabis is an herb and doesn't need the same rigorous testing as pharmaceutical products," she said. "Cannabis should be treated as the natural remedy it is. We offer organic, high quality cannabis to our patients and we would like to see standards for safety and quality, but those trials are unnecessary. What Canadians need is a legal supply of medicinal cannabis now."

While compassion clubs such as Capler's exist across Canada, they are illegal and exist "at the mercy of local authorities," she said, citing the Victoria compassion club that was raided last year. And just last week, Toronto police raided the Toronto Compassion Centre, seizing the medicine for 1,200 patients and hauling the staff off to jail, according to an urgent alert issued by the center on August 14.

"The compassion clubs are not legal," said Capler, "but they could be given legal status. Goodness knows there are plenty of growers in Canada who could supply us."

CRI's Taylor foresees exactly that happening in his home territory. "BC is perfectly situated to make medical cannabis a provincial industry," he said. "The federal government is hypersensitive about the issue of federalism out west, and this is certainly a western issue. A lot of people in the provincial government are supportive," he continued. "And BC is already marijuana dependent. We have any number of communities that officially show income levels that are disproportionately low by provincial standards, but what those figures don't reflect is that these families are using marijuana as a cash crop," he said.

"We could simply supply medical marijuana users at first," Taylor added. "We have thousands of medical users with no legal supply. Here in BC we could promote this like the wine industry, buy it at the farm gate. Then we'll move on to recreational marijuana; we're rapidly heading in that direction. With that, we can expect toleration of personal production or even legalization."


3. NJ Weedman Jailed for Exercising Free Speech Rights -- Advocating Marijuana Legalization Violates Parole Conditions, Says State

If the way New Jersey has treated marijuana activist Ed Forchion, widely known as the "New Jersey Weedman" (http://www.njweedman.com), is any indication, the state should consider changing its nickname from the "Garden State" to the "Police State." As of Thursday, the Weedman was sitting in the Burlington County Jail, charged with what can only be described as thought crime. Forchion, who had served 16 months of a 10-year sentence for marijuana trafficking, was arrested by his parole officer Monday evening and charged with violating his parole by attempting to air television commercials arguing that marijuana should be legalized.

The television commercials were never aired -- Comcast Cable first accepted them, then rejected them on the grounds that the advertising policy prohibited drugs or illegal products appearing on air. Forchion's ads, which showed him wearing a shirt with marijuana leaves and standing before an American flag, did not show actual drugs, nor did they advocate the use of illegal drugs.

So, citizen Ed Forchion is behind bars for thinking about talking about public policy issues. While New Jersey parole officials spent two days evading DRCNet phone calls about Forchion's case, they did talk to the Burlington County Times. According to regional parole director Tom Bartlett, Forchion violated parole rules by advocating marijuana use.

"He agreed he would not promote marijuana use," Bartlett told the local paper. "We tried to get him in compliance and he has not cooperated." Bartlett and other parole officials apparently cannot distinguish between advocating drug use and advocating a position on an issue of public policy and seem blithely unaware of any First Amendment considerations.

Forchion responded in a telephone interview from jail with the County Times. "This is America," he said. "I have every right to say what I want to say. They just don't want me to talk."

While it seems incredible, it may not be illegal, according to drug reformers and First Amendment experts. "Parole officers have incredible latitude," said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org). "We've had cases where people wanted to do community service sentences working with NORML, but the parole officers disallowed it," he told DRCNet. "But this goes beyond that. All Ed was doing was arguing that the laws should be changed. When this is settled, it will be hard to imagine that the courts will say any citizen does not have the right to advocate a policy position."

"It's pretty drastic when someone can't advocate a change in American law, but not unprecedented," said Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center (http://www.freedomforum.org/first/). The classic example is the guy whose parole was revoked for recording a rap song about killing police officers." The jailing marked the second time this summer that Forchion has been hauled away in handcuffs for activities usually considered commonplace. In June, he was jailed for four days for talking to reporters outside the Burlington County Courthouse about a lawsuit he had filed against the county and his ex-wife in a child visitation dispute (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/245.html#njweedman).

Forchion gained notoriety as an aggressive advocate for marijuana legalization after he was arrested on marijuana distribution charges in 1997. He has since gotten under the skin of state officials by, among other things, attempting to use a jury nullification defense, smoking marijuana in courtrooms and the State Assembly, running for state and national office on the one-man Legalize Marijuana Party ticket and seeking political asylum from his marijuana charges in Canada.

After his release from prison this spring, Forchion went right back at it, filing a $5 million lawsuit alleging that Burlington County courts and his ex-wife conspired to deprive him of visitation rights to their daughter because of his views on marijuana and his religion -- he is a practicing Rastafarian. It was his attempts to talk about that lawsuit that got him thrown in jail in June. Forchion is also appealing his marijuana trafficking sentence, even though he risks ending up with the 20-year maximum if he loses.

NORML's St. Pierre implicitly acknowledged that Forchion's tactics left him largely isolated from more mainstream drug reformers and that Forchion didn't have much nice to say about such groups, but then added that Forchion was a true fighter for the cause. "If we had a thousand Ed Forchions, the law would have been changed long ago," said St. Pierre.

Peter Christopher, whose Next Play Video (http://www.nextplayvideo.com) produced Forchion's unaired commercials had an entirely appropriate reaction to the censorship of Forchion's ads and his subsequent arrest.

In an interview with Preston Peet's Drug War news service (http://www.drugwar.com/pweedmanarrested.shtm), Christopher said, "I'm so fucking mad I could spit." And New Jersey is so mad at Ed Forchion that it spits on the Constitution.


4. Seattle Hempfest Draws 150,000 for Smoking, Shopping and Rabble Rousing

Seattle's 11th annual Hempfest (http://www.seattlehempfest.com), probably the world's largest single pro-cannabis event, came off hot and crowded but trouble-free last weekend as members of the Pacific Northwest cannabis culture flooded into Myrtle Edwards Park on Puget Sound for two days of music, speeches and cannabis commerce. Sounding the theme of "pot pride" and urging marijuana users to come out of the closet, speaker after speaker called for marijuana legalization and a variety of other drug and social policy reforms in what Hempfest organizer Dominic Holden called a "protestival."

Holden told the crowd that Hempfest this year wanted people "to come out of the closet on marijuana and admit that they are responsible marijuana users" and demand that they no longer be treated as criminals. Getting special attention was local cause I-75, a Seattle initiative that would direct police to make enforcing marijuana use and possession laws their lowest priority. Throughout the two-day event, petition gatherers circulated in the crowd, hoping to gather enough signatures to make the November ballot.

"The war on drugs is a miserable war, it is a racist war," Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata told the crowd on Saturday. "We here in Seattle, with Initiative 75, are going to be the first to change it."

Despite vows of "zero tolerance" and a handful of arrests for marijuana sales, police at Hempfest generally behaved as if I-75 was already in effect. Although drug paraphernalia is illegal in Washington state, police ignored the thousands of glass pipes and similar items on sale at the event. "If they have a sign saying they are for tobacco use only, they're not paraphernalia," opined Lt. Daniel Whelan as he patrolled the grounds. But police were reluctant to admit that they had reached an accommodation with the festival. When asked whether there was an agreement to allow open marijuana use on the rocks lining the park's shoreline, Whelan said no. "We enforce the law," he told DRCNet. "But we are here for public safety. Arresting pot smokers takes time and it is a matter of priorities," he said. Clearly, the priority for Seattle police was to ignore the clouds of pot smoke billowing into their faces from the rocks.

Speaking from six stages scattered the length of the park, local and national drug reformers including Keith Stroup and Allen St. Pierre of NORML, Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy, medical marijuana patient Elvy Musikka, "pot pride" campaign organizer Mikki Norris (http://www.cannabisconsumers.org), November Coalition leaders Nora Callahan and Chuck Armsbury, Ohio Hempery's Don Wirtshafter and many more.

But for many in the crowd, it was a case of bongs not ballots. Thousands appeared to have arrived mainly for the "smoke-in"-like ambience and the opportunity to browse among the hundreds of vendors of pipes, hempen wares, tasty foods and assorted other products. And for others, it was an opportunity to express their own personal causes. One pair of men near the south gate held up signs urging "Jail Dentists Not Pot Smokers" and handed out incomprehensible pamphlets arguing their case. Something about mercury filling affecting brain function. So it goes.

As the cannabis culture grows toward mainstream acceptance -- as is the case in Seattle, at least on Hempfest days -- it increasingly picks up mainstream attributes including political passivity and consumerism. For reformers who look to the cannabis masses, you might be better off manufacturing bongs. Or, less harshly, understand once and for all that smoking pot doesn't necessarily make one a radical or a revolutionary, or even a reformer.


5. Newsbrief: State Dept. Official Forced to Eat Crow on FARC-Al Qaeda Link

How eager is the US government to hype the "narco-terrorist" threat and avoid any scrutiny of its actions in Colombia? So eager that its officials are willing to create lies out of the whole cloth, undoing them only when challenged. Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, who heads the department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, is the official caught most recently in the liar's seat.

"It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan," Beers wrote in a sworn statement in a motion attempting to quash a lawsuit filed against DynCorp, the Reston, VA-based mercenaries who have contracted with the State Department to do aerial eradication of Colombian coca fields.

The lawsuit was filed by 10,000 Ecuadoran citizens who claim the defoliation has caused chemicals to blow across the border, damaging crops and livestock and causing health problems among the human population. Beers' proffer, the formal term for his sworn declaration, argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because "any disruption through this litigation of the aerial eradication of illicit drug crops in Colombia will undermine national security."

If Beers was willing to lie about FARC-Al Qaeda ties in order to bolster DynCorp's case, he would have done better to get his story straight first with his "war on terror" buddies. UPI quickly found three intelligence experts who found Beers' claim mind-boggling. "That statement is totally from left field," one unnamed federal law enforcement official told UPI. "I don't know where Beers is getting that."

"There doesn't seem to be any evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," an unnamed US intelligence official added. "We have never briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in a briefing to the State Department or anyone else," he told UPI.

"My first reaction was that Rand must have misspoke," a congressional staffer told UPI. "But when I saw the proffer signed under oath, I couldn't believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." Lawyers for the plaintiffs have an idea why. They told UPI that the proffer was an intentional effort to play the "narco-terrorist" card in order to convince the federal judge to dismiss the case on national security grounds. "They are so desperate to keep this suit away from a jury that they'll say anything to convince a judge it's related to terrorism," said Terry Collinsworth of the International Labor Relations Board, which is co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

After UPI's investigation, Beers "revised" his proffer. "I wish to strike this sentence," says the new version. "At the time of my declaration, based on information available to me, I believed this statement to be true and correct."

More likely, he believed he could get away with slipping in a big lie that would resonate well with widespread US fears of terrorist bogeymen. It sort of makes one wonder what other lies they haven't been caught at.


6. Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Campaign Gains Ally

As the dust settles in the wake of the "now you see it, now you don't" Nevada Council of Police and Sheriffs (NCOPS) endorsement of the Nevada initiative that would remove all criminal penalties for the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana, the initiative campaign has gained an important new endorser, Las Vegas Democrat Assemblywomen Chris Giunchigliani. Giunchigliani, a teacher for 23 years, was the driving force in moving simple marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor last year and is described by the state's leading newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, as "a formidable and familiar face."

Giunchigliani has signed on as a consultant with Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement (http://www.nrle.org), a committee supported by the Marijuana Policy Project that is organizing the campaign effort. The veteran legislator puts a powerful, popular liberal Nevada face on an effort that had been criticized as run by outsiders. "I'll be one face among many," she said as she announced her move. "I think most people in Nevada understand the government should not be involved in casual at-home use. That's the main crux of this. This is not about legalization. This is not about an outside group coming in."

No new polling has been done since the NCOPS brouhaha -- it was a dead heat in polls just before then -- but some Nevada police are buzzing like angry hornets now, and the initiative is in for a real fight in the next ten weeks. Giunchigliani's addition to the NRLE roster is most needed, and a timely move. Stay tuned.


7. Newsbrief: French Government Moving Against Raves

A looming confrontation between French authorities and the country's rave movement last weekend ended with ravers retreating across the Italian border to hold an event billed as challenging the French government's "genocidal war" on youth culture, electronic music and large raves. The Teknikal rave, organized by British-born French rave culture maven Allan Blinkhorn, was originally set for the French Alps, but when French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to seize the sound equipment used at unauthorized raves, the equipment owners and operators refused to venture into France.

According to Blinkhorn, French ravers are willing to negotiate with authorities over permits and had worked to do so. "But this new government will not talk to us sensibly at all," he told the Independent (London). "Their attitude is against youth, against liberty. They want to commit genocide on the rave movement."

Indeed, the new center-right government in Paris, elected in part on a tough anti-crime stance, has engaged in a series of draconian measures since in took power three months ago, including rigid application of the rave permit laws. Sarkozy also went after Blinkhorn, charging him and several other rave organizers with "furthering the use of illegal drugs," but the government has so far produced no evidence other than the fact that they helped to arrange raves.

The French government will drive the rave scene back underground, predicted Blinkhorn, endangering harm reduction measures now in place at large raves. "Sarkozy says he is cracking down on crime," Blinkhorn said, "but he is making us all into criminals."


8. Newsbrief: Baltimore's "Federal Day" is No Holiday for Some

Baltimore's court system has long strained to handle the load of cases resulting from the city's ongoing war on its 60,000-strong addict community. On Wednesday, August 14, though, the local courts got a holiday of sorts. In joint operations, about 300 local police officers and 27 agents of the DEA and ATF conducted street sweeps, nabbing 74 people -- all of whom will face federal instead of state drug and/or firearms charges, the Baltimore Sun reported.

While the unannounced "Federal Day" will free up Baltimore courts for a few days, it also ensures that those arrested will not go free for much longer than if they were prosecuted in state courts.

US Attorney Thomas M. DiBagio told reporters that, "The biggest, baddest, the worst offenders are going to end up in the [federal] courtrooms."

But no matter who is conducting or prosecuting them, street sweeps by definition nab only those on the streets selling cocaine and heroin at the retail level, certainly not the "biggest" movers and shakers. On the other hand, the sweeps do create black market employment opportunities for the next generation of the city's youth, for whom the arrests create an opportunity for upward mobility.

On the bright side, as part of the operation authorities opened up a closed library branch -- but only for use as a temporary holding facility for those arrested.


9. Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Boom Continues, Second Crop Coming

Not to belabor a point, but the effort to eradicate the Afghan opium trade is a mess. As is reported in this newsletter nearly every week, yet another indicator of how fruitless the task is came Sunday, when the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that the Karzai government's eradication effort has "largely failed." According to FAO, this year's crop is near the level of the late 1990s and could bring more than $1 billion in farm gate revenues. Afghanistan's estimated Gross National Product was $21 billion in 1999, the last year for which statistics are available, and has almost certainly declined since then.

Although the Karzai government implemented an eradication program with British and US funds in April and swore as recently as last week to "fight like hell" to end the traffic, the UN sees even more opium coming next year. "The returns and opportunities are high and the risks are seen to be low given the large numbers of farmers involved and the perceived improbability of prosecutions," FAO concluded.

While according to the UN, as much as 25% of this spring's harvest may have been eradicated, the promised compensation has either not arrived, been diverted into the hands of local warlords or been insufficient. The program in Nangahar province, a prime growing area, also suffered after Abdul Qadir, who had visited villages to promise payment, was assassinated in Kabul last month. According to the Washington Post, villagers who had reluctantly allowed their crops to be uprooted after hearing promises of payment are now angry and desperate enough to begin replanting.

"We are not in love with the poppy. We grow it because we have to," one farmer told the Post. "The government destroyed our land and then paid us nothing. Our lands have all dried up. Even the trees have died. If we don't get our due soon, we are ready to start growing again."


10. Newsbrief: SAMHSA DAWN Study Out, Drug Czar Quick to Spin

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released its annual Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report on Thursday, and drug czar John Walters began spinning a web of anti-marijuana demagoguery starting with SAMHSA's initial press release. The widely-cited DAWN survey collects emergency room data on drug-related admissions in 458 hospitals in major cities across the US.

SAMHSA's press release was headed "Marijuana, Cocaine Emergency Visits Up," and led with an announcement that "emergency department mentions of cocaine increased 10% and marijuana increased 15% from 2000 to 2001. (They could have led with "Methamphetamine Mentions Show No Growth," but that's another story, one less in line with prevailing drug war demonology.)

Quick to seize an apparent opportunity, Walters went on the attack: "Marijuana-related medical emergencies are increasing at an alarming rate, exceeding even those for heroin. This report helps dispel the pervasive myth that marijuana is harmless," Walters railed. "In reality, marijuana is a dangerous drug, and adults and youth alike should be aware of the serious consequences that can come from smoking it."

What Walters failed to mention and what SAMHSA only alluded to far down in its press release is the fact that "marijuana-related emergency room mentions" are up does not mean there is a sudden epidemic of pot overdoses, nor is it indicative of large numbers of people physically damaging themselves with marijuana. "The survey is designed to provide information about emergency department visits that are induced by or related to the use of an illegal drug or the non-medical use of a legal drug. Because up to 4 drugs can be reported for each emergency department visit, there are more 'mentions' than 'visits.'"

In other words, the marijuana numbers can be based on incidents where the use is completely irrelevant, such as a person who was a passenger involved in a traffic accident who had smoked a joint earlier in the day. Or the probably more common scenario: Opiate freak Ziggy parties hard on heroin and alcohol, smokes a joint in the course of his travels, then overdoses on Oxycontin later in the evening. Another "marijuana-related emergency room mention."

The DAWN report runs to 142 pages and is full of statistics subject to competing interpretations. DRCNet will present a more detailed analysis of the report, the numbers and the spin next week. In the meantime, look for a chorus of cannabis cassandras to raise the false alarm.

The complete report (text and tables) are available at http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov online.


11. Newsbrief: DEA Wants to Schedule 2C-T-7

As part of its never-ending battle against subversive substances, the DEA moved last month to schedule 2C-T-7 (2,5-dimethoxy-4-(n)-propylthiophene-thylamine) as a Schedule I controlled substance -- one with a high danger of abuse and no medical value. 2C-T-7, first synthesized by Dr. Alexander Shulgin in 1981, has in recent years emerged as part of the rave and psychonaut scenes. A hallucinogen, 2C-T-7 produces strong effects in small doses and has been linked to three deaths in the US in the last two years (http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/2ct7/2ct7.html).

But the DEA move is not going unchallenged. The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics has submitted written comments to the DEA opposing the agency's intent to schedule the drug, sometimes known as "Blue Mystic," after a brand marketed in the Netherlands in 2000 and 2001. In its comments, CCLE argued that scheduling 2C-T-7 would infringe on cognitive liberty, "the fundamental right of the individual to self-determine his or her mental processes and to engage in multiple modes of thought."

CCLE also disputed the agency's finding that 2C-T-7 was subject to "widespread" abuse, a finding that allows the DEA to act on an emergency interim basis. According to CCLE, the DEA relied on Internet postings discussing 2C-T-7 as evidence of widespread abuse, thus equating discussion of using the substance with its abuse. Such a finding chills the First Amendment rights of those discussing the drug, argued CCLE, and discourages the dissemination of health and safety information about drugs.

"Placing 2C-T-7 in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act will make criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens who merely possess the substance, and/or ingest it responsibly to occasion a particular mode of thinking, " wrote CCLE attorney Richard Glen Boire in the comment to the DEA. "Freedom of thought is inextricably linked with the freedom and autonomy of each citizen to self-determine his or her own brain chemistry. By placing 2C-T-7 into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the fundamental cognitive liberty of peaceful, responsible, and intelligent Americans to modulate their own thinking processes is infringed upon in an overly broad and unconstitutional manner."

The CCLE is involved in this and many other projects that impact intellectual autonomy and freedom of thought. Visit http://alchemind.org or http://www.alchemind.org/DLL/2CT7_comments.htm for further info.


12. Newsbrief: Can We Make That a Line Item? Alabama County Gets Blatant on Asset Forfeiture as Revenue Enhancer

When the going gets tough, the smart turn fed. At least, that's what the Barbour County, Alabama, county commission is doing as part of its effort to avoid going broke. Faced with severe cash-flow problems, the county commission on August 12 voted to allow a Barbour County deputy sheriff to join the DEA while still an employee of the Barbour County Sheriff.

The commission acted after Sheriff Marshall Williams Jr. told officials that the DEA affiliation will allow the deputy to follow Barbour County drug cases outside the county or the state. More importantly, said Williams, the DEA affiliation "will also expedite prosecution of drug offenders and allow property connected to the arrests to be seized immediately," the Eufala Tribune reported.

Under Alabama asset forfeiture law, assets can be seized but proceeds must be placed in a county or state general fund, from which law enforcement can withdraw the money. Also, local law enforcement officials are restricted to assets seized within their counties.

According to Sheriff Williams, the DEA-affiliated deputy will allow the county to seize goods or property connected to drug arrests even if the arrest occurs outside the county. Barbour County will receive about 70% of any money or property seized, Williams explained. The county has seized about $40,000 in cash and property this year, Williams added. Why raise taxes when you can resort to highway robbery instead?


13. Newsbrief: Wichita Judge Scolds Drug Squad for Misconduct

A run-of-the-mill methamphetamine case mutated into a review of pervasive misconduct among officers of Wichita's anti-drug, anti-gang Special Community Action Team (SCAT), and the presiding judge was not impressed with what she found. After SCAT members arrested Terry Marck in 1999 for meth manufacture, Marck's lawyer, Kurt Kerns, argued that the SCAT members had unlawfully searched Marck's home. Kern produced an internal Wichita legal staff memo concluding that some SCAT members had a pattern of unlawful searches, arrests, intimidation and other abusive practices.

District Judge Rebecca Pilshaw allowed a hearing to determine whether SCAT had engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional conduct, and after the hearing issued a scorching condemnation of police practices -- though still lauding the officers involved, crediting them with "getting the baddest of the bad guys off the street."

Pilshaw threw out the evidence against Marck on August 16, ruling that SCAT had conducted an illegal search of his residence. She then turned to the broader question of SCAT misconduct, a scandal that has been sputtering since the spring, when three SCAT officers were suspended after initial allegations of misconduct were made against them. An internal police review cleared them of all but minor violations, and they returned to duty, but the city memo obtained by Kerns found that former SCAT supervisor Lt. Tom Spencer had concluded that serious violations of constitutional rights had occurred in at least ten cases handled by the officers.

Pilshaw ripped into the police department's internal investigation, saying it "lacked credibility" because, among other things, investigators did not bother to actually interview the people who claimed their rights had been violated. She also criticized police union president Chester Pinkston for "outrageous and inappropriate comments" for saying that the internal investigation had cleared the officers of all but minor policy violations.

Pilshaw examined 12 cases involving the three SCAT officers over the past two years and found constitutional violations or other misbehavior in half of them. But weirdly, Pilshaw also praised the officers she was excoriating. Officer Kevin Gobel routinely used intimidation and ignored people who did not give consent to searches, said Pilshaw, but he still had "a fine police instinct." She criticized Sgt. John Bannister for unlawful searches, but then called him "a rising star" whom she considered a top candidate for lieutenant. She faulted Officer John Thode for illegal searches, including the search of Marck's residence, but then noted that he had once been shot by a burglary suspect. Although the hearings revealed a pattern of misconduct in the Wichita SCAT team, Pilshaw could not help but feel like she was on the same team as the police. "Mr. Marck is the bad guy here," she said, after reviewing the evidence of criminal policing.


14. Media Scan: New Scientist, JAMA, Forbes, ReconsiDer, MTF, BJS, CASA

New Scientist magazine has published a special report on marijuana issues, available online at:
http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/marijuana/

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week includes "Changes in Methadone Treatment Practices: Results from a National Panel Study, 1988-2000," online at:
http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v288n7/abs/joc11894.html

Dan Forbes analyzes the recent Unitarian Universalist statement of conscience against the drug war and its implications in "The Mouse that Roared -- Calling for An End to the War on Drugs":
http://www.drugwar.com/forbesuu.shtm

Dan Forbes analyzes the Barr-Linder race in "Drug Warriors in a Dead Heat," obviously written before the election took place:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13865

The upstate New York-based organization ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy is offering free copies of the recent Education Issue of the ReconsiDer quarterly (great for distributing to school officials and educators) but requests must be submitted by September 6. For further information, visit http://www.reconsider.org/quarterly/Ed%20Quarterly%20OFFER.htm. For a PDF version of the quarterly, visit http://www.reconsider.org/quarterly/2002_Winter/pdf/ReconsiDer_Quarterly_2002_Winter.pdf.

The federally-funded Monitoring the Future survey at the University of Michigan has released volume two of an in-depth trend report on drug use patterns among young adults from 1980-2001. The report is available online at:
http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/vol2_2001.pdf

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics is releasing "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2001" (NCJ-195669) on August 25 -- reporting, among other things, that the US correctional population has exceeded the six million mark. Single copies of this (and many other) documents can be ordered by calling (800) 732-3277. In addition, "Probation and Parole" can be viewed at:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/ppus01.htm

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has released its 2002 Teen Survey. We're not saying this information is credible, but here's the link anyway:
http://www.casacolumbia.org/newsletter1457/newsletter_show.htm?doc_id=119559


15. Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision

URGENT: Help stop S. 2633, the "Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002" -- call your Senators at (202) 224-3121, visit http://www.emdef.org for information.

Support States' Rights to Medical Marijuana: Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/ to write to Congress today!

Visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to tell Congress to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision in full and let tens of thousands of young people with drug convictions go back to college.


16. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 4-6, Missoula, MT, First Annual Montana Drug Policy Summit. At the University of Montana, speakers to include Dr. Ethan Russo of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, Cliff Thornton of Efficacy, Scott Crichton of the Montana ACLU, Ron Mann director of the movie "Grass," Missoula attorney John Smith and others. For further info, contact [email protected].

September 8-11, Chicago, IL, "Racial Justice Leadership Institute," seminar sponsored by the Applied Research Center. Limited to 30 participants, application deadline August 5, visit http://www.arc.org/action_ed/ for further information, or contact Terry Keleher at (773) 278-4800 x162 or [email protected].

September 26, Eugene, OR, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the Wow Hall, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit http://www.adopedealer.com 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 29, sunset, nationwide vigil for medical marijuana. Contact [email protected] or (510) 486-8083 or visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org for further information.

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 1-6, Negril, Jamaica, "Mind States Jamaica," seminar featuring speakers such as Richard Glen Boire, Earth Erowid, Fire Erowid, Alex Grey, Jon Hanna, Stephen Kent, Jonathan Ott, Mark Pesce, Ann Shulgin and Sasha Shulgin. Registration $1,300 through September 15, includes admission, double occupancy accommodations, meals and drinks. Contact [email protected] or visit http://www.erowid.org/mindstates/ 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. October 19, Portland, OR, "PottyMouth Comedy Competition: Flushing Away the DEA," $5,000 first prize. Visit http://www.jeffandtracy.com or call (503) 605-5182 for info.

October 10, 5:00pm, Higganum, CT, Community Forum on the "War on Drugs." Featuring Cliff Thornton and Adam Hurter of Efficacy, at the gazebo in town center, contact Kevin at (860) 345-3387 or [email protected] for further information.

October 25-29, Albuquerque, NM, "International Conference on Altered States of Consciousness." At the Crowne Plaza Pyramid, visit http://www.bizspirit.com/alteredstates/aspeakers.html for further information.

November 2, Davis, CA, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the Varsity Theater, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit http://www.adopedealer.com for further 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.

November 22-24, Amsterdam, Netherlands, "Psychoactivity III," speakers including Arno Adelaars, Hans Bogers, Jace Callaway PhD, Hilario Chiriap, Piers Gibbon, Luis Eduardo Luna PhD, Dr. phil. Claudia Mueller-Ebeling. Visit 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, "Strengthening Partnerships for a Safer Future," 14th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm, sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Coalition in partnership with the Asian Harm Reduction Network. For further information, visit http://www.ihrc2003.net or contact [email protected] or (6653) 223624, 894112 x102.


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