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

Issue #256, 9/27/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: The Tulia Lynchings
  2. Medical Marijuana Supporters Rally in Sacramento
  3. WAMM Files Federal Motion for Return of Marijuana Seized in Dispensary Raid
  4. Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision
  5. Former British Drug Czar Mo Mowlam Calls for Total Global Legalization, Cites Need to Quit Funding Political Violence
  6. UC San Diego Orders Student Group to Drop Hyperlink to FARC Web Site, Cites Patriot Act
  7. Colombian Leader Meets with Bush, Paramilitary Leader to Surrender Following US Indictment
  8. Newsbrief: Putin to Create Russian DEA
  9. Newsbrief: RAVE Act Sheds Another Cosponsor
  10. Newsbrief: "Buzzkill" -- Venerable DC Weekly Rave Party Dies from Overdose of Ecstasy Enforcement
  11. Newsbrief: UN Drug Control Chief Warns Canada Not to Legalize Marijuana
  12. Newsbrief: French Cannabis Growers Create Facts on Ground
  13. Newsbrief: German Health Ministry Says Safe Drug Centers Save Lives
  14. Do You Read The Week Online?
  15. Action 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. Editorial: The Tulia Lynchings

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

(This weekend I am attending "Breaking the Chains," a conference on race and the drug war organized by Drug Policy Alliance, in downtown Los Angeles. Last night's opening reception featured viewing of a movie by the Kunstler fund on the Tulia 46, 12% of the small Texas town's African American population, who were framed by a corrupt police officer. Several family members as well as activists from Tulia are attending, so in their honor we reprint an editorial from last year, "The Tulia Lynchings." Those in LA can join the conference for $25 at the Hyatt Regency, Macy's Plaza, downtown, see for info on the conference, and visit and for updates on the Tulia situation.)

On Sunday, July 22nd (2001), civil rights activists, drug law reformers and others will gather in the small Texas town of Tulia to demand justice for the Tulia 46.

Who are the Tulia 46?

In this small town of 5,000 people, they represented about 12% of the town's African American population. Based solely on the word of a corrupt police officer who is widely known for his own criminal activities -- he's been fired twice, once for sexual harassment and a related attempt at insurance fraud -- the Tulia 46 were indicted for drug dealing offenses following one massive wave of arrests perpetrated by this officer working undercover, 43 of them on a single day. Most of them were black, and some of the others were dating blacks. Twenty-two are now in prison, serving insanely long sentences ranging as high as 435 years!

Tulia has its share of drug use, just like any other town -- residents say there were a few drug dealers, and everyone knew who they were. The idea, however, that a town of 5,000, whose African American residents and many others live in something most of us would consider poverty, could support 46 drug dealers, or 22 drug dealers, much less major dealers meriting 20 or 100 year prison terms, is an economic absurdity: Only an idiot or a prosecutor with an agenda could believe such a set of criminal charges could be valid.

That is why the Tulia prosecutions and incarcerations can in no way be considered legitimate criminal justice activity. Rather, it is fair to say that they differed from lynchings only by the absence of a noose or other means of execution; at least Tulia's stolen are still alive to be released.

The fact that they have not been released is itself a gross violation of human rights. Again, it is simply impossible in economic terms for such a town to have supported that number of drug dealers. Therefore, the convicted must be innocent -- most of them, anyway -- and therefore must be released immediately. Anything other than immediate release is morally equivalent to kidnapping.

That is why the perpetrators of the Tulia lynchings -- police, prosecutors, judges -- should be fired and banned forever from working in the justice system or any job giving them power over the lives of other people. They have betrayed their oaths to protect the public and seek justice, and the moral turpitude of their crime increases each day that Tulia's stolen remain confined in our nation's barbaric prisons. The jurors, perhaps, can plead gullibility, but should at least be ashamed.

Let us be clear, it is not by letter of law that this mass injustice constitutes a crime. Rather, that charge is justified on the basis of higher moral principles, principles that reach beyond legislation, to the realm of conscience. Principles that allowed people of conscience to defy federal law by helping fleeing slaves escape to freedom. Principles by which the oppressed of all nations can stand up and be heard and have wrongs redressed despite the letter of the law enacted to keep them silent.

Principles that will free Tulia's stolen and end the war on drugs.

2. Medical Marijuana Supporters Rally in Sacramento

Angered, frustrated and frightened by DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in California in recent weeks, medical marijuana supporters from across the state converged on the state capitol Monday afternoon to demand that the federal government stop its raids and that California officials stand up to defend the state's Compassionate Use Act and the people it is supposed to protect. Hundreds -- perhaps as many as a thousand -- demonstrators braved record-breaking 104 degree heat to hear speaker after speaker deliver impassioned cries for relief from federal harassment and to free imprisoned medical marijuana providers, particularly Bryan Epis of Chico. Epis was supposed to have been sentenced on Monday to a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison, but late last week federal prosecutors postponed the sentencing date.

Following the speech-making, a crowd DRCNet estimates at between 500 and 600 people marched from the capitol to the federal courthouse in downtown Sacramento to take their demands to the local seat of federal power. Bearing banners and huge puppets of President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, DEA head Asa Hutchinson and drug czar John Walters in prison uniforms, the crowd was greeted by numerous honks of approval from passing motorists.

At the courthouse, demonstrators blocked the entrance and refused to move despite repeated warnings from the Federal Protective Police. Police eventually arrested 29 people as the rest of the crowd screamed scorn and abuse at the unfortunate on-duty federal building cops and their distant masters who are much more directly responsible for the medical marijuana crackdown. All 29 of those arrested were released by the end of the afternoon.

In Washington, DC, meanwhile, about 15 people demonstrated in front of the White House in solidarity with the California protestors. Two of them, Doug McVay of Common Sense for Drug Policy and Charles Thomas of Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform, chained themselves to the White House fence and refused to leave. They were arrested and released shortly afterwards.

"We knew that dozens of people would be getting arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience in Sacramento, and we thought it was important to show solidarity here at the White House," said Thomas. "We wanted civil disobedience to take place right at their front gate and not just on the West Coat," he told DRCNet. "We wanted to make sure the White House, the media and therefore the American people would get the message," Thomas said.

"We are here to offer moral support. This reminds me of the example set by Jesus," Thomas continued. "He healed people on the Sabbath in violation of the law of the time. So I asked myself what would Jesus do? I thought it was important that we, as a faith-based group, reflect on that. Jesus would probably do exactly what patients and providers in California are doing," Thomas reasoned. "John Ashcroft, the self-proclaimed Christian, is persecuting patients and providers. It's cruel, it's probably unconstitutional, and it's the exact opposite of what his own self-proclaimed religion would instruct him to do."

The DC demonstration was covered by USA Today, the Washington Post and CNN, and went on the Reuters wire, while the Sacramento protests generated sporadic coverage in media markets across that state. "This is the state capitol," said California NORML head Dale Gieringer. "They're used to protests here. You need 10,000 or 20,000 people to make them really pay attention," he told DRCNet.

But if Monday's protest didn't reach that level of participation, it nevertheless marked the largest mass mobilization yet in support of medical marijuana and against federal intervention in state medical marijuana laws. And it drew passionate, committed people from across the state, as well as a handful of national drug reform figures.

Multiple Sclerosis and emphysema sufferer LaVonne Victor traveled five hours from Temecula in southern California to attend. "I'm not too into the politics," she told DRCNet, "but this feels like the Nazis. We were raided, and now I have to go to the streets to find my medicine. I don't want to have to be afraid of my government," said Victor, who added that marijuana was the only thing that eased her suffering. "They call us child abusers, they call us terrorists, but they're the child abusers, they're the terrorists. The state of California has allowed doctors to treat us with marijuana for our benefit. We are law-abiding Americans. They should let us be. The DEA should get out," she said.

Loomis physician Dr. Philip Denney also attended the Sacramento demonstrations. "I've been writing recommendations for cannabis because I've found that cannabis can help people," he told DRCNet. Denney said he made the trip to the capitol because he is tired of the "threats and intimidation" emanating from the federal government. "The federal government has lied to us about cannabis for 60 years," he said. "What is happening here is a real test of democracy, and if the DEA prevails, we've failed," he said.

"I'm here because they came and robbed me last week," said Chapmantown resident and medical marijuana grower Mike Farrell. According to local press reports, Butte County Sheriff's deputies cut down 11 of Farrell's 17 plants on September 19 as neighbors groaned and yelled at the narcs. "We don't want to be criminals," he told DRCNet. "We want to be farmers. But until we are no longer criminals, we will keep fighting."

The medical marijuana users and growers saw significant support from college students on Monday, with hundreds of students being bussed to Sacramento in an effort organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, NORML, Common Sense for Drug Policy and the Libertarian Party. "This is a hot issue among student groups," said UC Berkeley student Abe Gardner, who rode in on one of those buses. "The state government needs to act to protect medical marijuana growers, patients and providers," said Gardner, an SSDP member and vice-president of the UC Berkeley ACLU. "The raids should stop; they are just harassing sick people," he told DRCNet. "Coming to an action like this is much stronger than writing a letter to the feds," he added.

Students, patients and activists alike heard from a lengthy list of speakers denouncing the federal aggression and filled the intervals in between with boisterous chants of "Ashcroft, Asshole," "DEA, We Voted, You Lost, Go Away," "Hey, Hey, DEA, How Many Patients Did You Kill Today?" and the ominous Vietnam- and civil rights-era standard, "No Justice, No Peace."

"The federal war on medical marijuana is the triumph of a small coterie of political fanatics who have hijacked federal law," Orange County Register editorialist Alan Bock told the crowd. "This is the triumph of politics over science and compassion," he added, before quoting the federal government-sponsored 1999 Institute of Medicine study on the uses of marijuana. "The feds know better," he said. "Hutchinson and the drug czar should not be able to say a word until they read that report -- and pass a test," he said, to loud applause.

"This is a bizarro world where reason and logic don't exist," Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club attorney Bill Panzer told the crowd. "Ashcroft, Bush, Hutchinson--we will stop you," he vowed.

Debbie Goldsberry, director of the Cannabis Action Network and the Berkeley Patients' Group, while as defiant as the rest of the speakers, struck a more somber tone. "I'm nervous because we run a cannabis dispensary and we have 4,000 plants," said Goldsberry. The DEA and US Attorneys stoop to scaring sick old men to bust more dispensaries, she said. "They told Jimmy Halloran [arrested in the San Francisco Harm Reduction Center bust in February] that he would die in prison if he did not cooperate, so, yes, Jimmy turned state's evidence, but he told the truth about medical marijuana," said Goldsberry. "Jimmy Halloran is not the enemy. He was threatened and terrorized by the real enemy, and now about a dozen clubs are caught up in his case."

If Goldsberry was focused on the present, Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy was looking to the future. "Welcome to the beginning of the end of the federal war against medical marijuana," he said to loud cheers. "They are trying to scare you away, but they won't succeed," he told the crowd. "We are not political tools for the right wing," he said.

And Stephanie Sherer, head of the umbrella emergency response group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that spearheaded the protest called for continued militant resistance to the federal attacks. "State and federal officials cannot ignore our compassionate effort to end this war against the sick and dying," she said. "Now is the time to push forward. We will win this war, we will push the federal government back," she vowed. With federal raids on medical marijuana patients and providers continuing at a steady pace, push may soon come to shove.

3. WAMM Files Federal Motion for Return of Marijuana Seized in Dispensary Raid

The same week that protestors took to the streets in Sacramento, movement lawyers were opening up a new legal front in the medical marijuana wars in San Jose. Attorneys for the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (, the Santa Cruz medical marijuana co-op whose garden was raided by the DEA on September 5, filed a motion in US District Court in San Jose Wednesday seeking the return of 130 seized marijuana plants, as well as personal property belonging to WAMM founders Mike and Valerie Corral.

The legal team, led by constitutional law expert and Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen, plans to argue that the federal government has no role in California's medical marijuana laws, Uelmen told the Bay City News Report. Because WAMM did not sell medical marijuana and thus did not engage in commerce, the state -- not the federal government -- should have jurisdiction, Uelman argued.

"[The WAMM case] is ideal because we have such a strong showing that there's no commercial transaction involved," Uelmen said. "This is not a case where the government is closing down a storefront where marijuana is being sold to patients. This is not a drug store."

According to Uelmen, the WAMM case could end up as a test case for the US Supreme Court, which has moved under the stewardship of Chief Justice William Rehnquist to take authority from the federal government and return it to the states. The DEA's raid on WAMM represents a new assertion of federal authority, said Uelmen.

"The federal government is saying now that we have plenary authority to tell doctors how to practice medicine," and that has always been a state-controlled area, Uelmen said.

DEA San Francisco spokesman Richard Meyer was dismissive. While he told the Bay Area News Report he could not discuss specifics of the WAMM case, he scoffed at the idea that the DEA would ever return the seized medical marijuana. "We're not a marijuana distribution center," Meyer said. "We seize drugs."

The motion is set to be heard by US District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel on November 4, but WAMM lawyers warned that more legal mores are forthcoming. "This is only our first salvo," said WAMM co-counsel Ben Rice of Wednesday's motion.

The DEA raid on the squeaky clean WAMM operation may have turned out to be a major tactical blunder. It has sparked a nationally covered medical marijuana giveaway at Santa Cruz city hall with the support of city officials. It has caused lethargic state officials, such as Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Governor Gray Davis, to finally rouse themselves on behalf of their constituents. And it has inspired an ever increasing spirit of resistance from the movement.

And if they wanted to shut up Valerie Corral, they erred badly. The co-founder of WAMM appeared in Sacramento and was clearly unbowed. "We need more nonviolent resistance," she told an appreciative crowd. "They can arrest us, try to intimidate us, try to take everything we've worked for," said Corral. "The federal government knows this is the end. All their screaming and busting people and guns and threats can't stop us. We have the truth."

4. Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision

With the new school year already upon us, and Congressional elections just over a month away, we at the Drug Reform Coordination Network are writing to ask you to help turn up the heat on the student-led campaign to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision.

During the 2001-2002 school year, more than 47,700 students were denied access to federal college aid because of drug convictions, loans, grants, even work-study programs. This number doesn't account for people who didn't bother applying because they assumed they would be ineligible. The current academic year, the third in which the drug provision is in force and the second in which it is being fully enforced, is expected to see just as many young people forced out of school or they or their families plunged into financial hardship because of the HEA drug provision.

In 2002-2003, there is more hope than ever. A bill in the US House of Representatives to repeal the drug provision, H.R. 786, has 67 cosponsors, and ten members of Congress spoke at our press conference last May to call for the provision's full repeal, a stunning success. And Students for Sensible Drug Policy now stretches across more than 200 campuses, with hundreds more in the works. Your voice is again needed, to continue to move this issue forward and repeal the provision in 2003 or 2004 when the Higher Education Act is reauthorized by Congress.

We have just finished updating our HEA activist packet, so please visit to learn about the issue, download the packet, and to sign our petition telling you want them to remove the drug war from education and repeal the anti-drug financial aid ban. When you're done, please call your US Representative on the phone to make an even stronger impact -- you can call them via the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or visit to look up their direct numbers.

Students, visit to find out how to get involved with the campaign on your campus -- more than 90 student governments so far have endorsed our resolution calling for repeal of the drug provision. If you're already at work on this, please write us at [email protected] and let us know what's happening. Also, visit for an online copy of the activist packet. Leave your e-mail address if you want to receive occasional updates on the HEA campaign.

Please forward this alert to your friends or use the tell-a-friend form on, and please consider making a donation -- large or small -- to keep this and other DRCNet efforts moving forward at full speed. Visit to help, or mail your check or money order to DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. (Contact us for instruction if you wish to make a donation of stock.)

Again, visit to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign! In the meantime, here are some more reasons why the HEA drug provision is wrong:

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

5. Former British Drug Czar Mo Mowlam Calls for Total Global Legalization, Cites Need to Quit Funding Political Violence

Former British cabinet member Mo Mowlam, who was responsible for Prime Minister Tony Blair's drug policy from 1999 through last year and who has already called drug prohibition a "failure" (, again called for an end to global drug prohibition, this time explicitly linking drug legalization to the success of the "war on terror." In a September 19 op-ed in the Guardian (UK), Mowlam wrote that the most effective means of fighting the "war on terror" would be to legalize the drug trade and thereby dry up a significant source of funding for criminal activities and political violence worldwide.

Clearly reflecting a broader European revulsion with the war drums beating along the Potomac, Mowlam's essay included a strong critique of President Bush's "war on terror" as it has been waged so far. "While the United States and Britain continue to assert that toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq is the best next step in the war against terrorism, I would like to suggest a more productive course of action," wrote Mowlam. "May I suggest that rather than bombing innocent civilians in Muslim countries, the United States and Britain begin to take a more intelligent approach to the drug trade: namely, to legalize it."

Mowlam cited high US officials, including President Bush himself, as making the drug-terror connection and agreed that such a connection indeed exists. But she argued that the way to break that connection is not an ever-escalating war on drugs that can never be won. "It is clear that the present approach to drugs is not working, and if the war against drugs fails then we can be sure that the war against terrorism will also be unsuccessful," Mowlam wrote. "From my experience of being responsible for drug policy in the previous government, I came to the conclusion that the legalization and regulation of all drugs was the only way to reduce the harmful effects of this activity," Mowlam wrote, adding that she had "many reasons" for reaching that conclusion. "One of those reasons is that we need to detach the international drug business from criminality -- not least because it would further isolate international terrorism by removing the finance and other resources, such as places for training, and money laundering facilities.

"Drugs and terrorism are linked and are set to become more so," Mowlam concluded. "Legalization of drugs would stop this connection: It would begin to solve problems caused by drugs today and would isolate the terrorists."

As the US government heightens the schism between itself and its European allies over Iraq and the anti-terror war, it is also bringing fundamental disagreements over drug policy into sharper focus.

6. UC San Diego Orders Student Group to Drop Hyperlink to FARC Web Site, Cites Patriot Act

As the drug war bleeds into the terror war, it appears that one of the targets is US citizens' ability to even hear what the designated foe has to say. A chilling wind from Washington swept through sunny San Diego this week as University of California at San Diego administrators moved to censor a student group web site for having the temerity to link to the web site of a foreign political-military organization out of favor with the US government. UC San Diego administrators told the Che Café Collective that it could not link to a web site supporting the left-wing guerrillas of the Colombian FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ( because such a link violated federal law, Cnet News reported Thursday.

The Che Café Collective is a student-run co-op that focuses on organic gardening, vegan food, all-age music shows and "radical (progressive, leftist) politics." The FARC is a 40-year-old guerrilla army that has been a party to the decades-long civil war in Colombia, profits (like all actors in the Colombian civil war) from the drug trade, and has called for the legalization of the coca trade. While the FARC is a frankly Marxist organization, some commentators have suggested that it has devolved into a merely money-making entity. The FARC is opposed by the right-wing paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces (AUC, operators of the notorious "death squads") and the Colombian government of Alfredo Uribe, which in turn is backed by the US government.

In a September 16 letter to the collective, UC San Diego University Centers Director Gary Ratliff wrote, "this letter will serve to inform you that the Che Café is in violation of UCSD policies and Federal law by maintaining the web site and using UCSD computer network resources to provide access to a terrorist organization. Presently, the web site includes links supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), an organization listed by the US Department of State as a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Providing material support or resources to a designated FTO is a violation of federal law.... Federal law also specifies that providing material support to terrorists not only includes money and training but also includes communications equipment, personnel and facilities. In this case, communications equipment is the use of the UCSD computer network resources, personnel are the Che Café members who maintain the server with burn web site, and facilities include the Che facility where the server is housed.

"I am hereby instructing you to immediately remove the FARC from listing on the web site or any other web site that uses the "" domain name or any computer or other communications equipment or other resources or facilities used by the Che Café that are owned, leased or operated by UCSD. You are further hereby instructed to immediately disconnect the link on to the FARC web site."

But if Ratliff sounded certain of his reading of the USA Patriot Act in last week's letter, he told Cnet News on Wednesday only that the link might violate the law. "The concern of the institution is that this could be interpreted as a violation of the law," Ratcliff said. "What we're trying to be is proactive here. If the FBI decided to pay attention to this matter, the repercussions would go way beyond their group, because we're providing network services."

Despite the university's attempted preemptive strike against free speech, the link was still up as of Thursday afternoon. While the Che Café Collective has not responded publicly, it has challenged Ratliff's and the university's right to quickly shut down the link. In a September 20 letter to Ratliff and school administrators, the collective cited chapter and verse of university regulations, concluding, "Once again, you do not have the authority to unilaterally impose sanctions. A court must find us guilty of violating federal law and the University Judicial Board must find us guilty of violating UCSD Policies and Procedures in order for you to take action based on your allegations."

The collective's link to the FARC also drew support from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (, a group usually devoted to attacking what it views as the excesses of "political correctness" on campus. FIRE director of legal advocacy Greg Lukianoff told Cnet News that the university's effort to censor the link was a massive overreaction. "I think their interpretation of materially supporting terrorism is dreadfully overbroad and a massive threat to freedom of speech," said Lukianoff. "All you'd have to do is declare someone a terrorist organization to prevent someone from knowing who the enemy is or what they stand for," Lukianoff said. "That's not how democracy works."

FIRE has offered to represent the Che Collective in any legal action against the university, Lukianoff added.

7. Colombian Leader Meets with Bush, Paramilitary Leader to Surrender Following US Indictment

Colombia's new hardline President Alvaro Uribe met this week in Washington with President Bush and congressional drug warriors to grease the way for $450 million in new, mostly military, US assistance to Colombia. But even as the two heads of state formed an impromptu mutual admiration society, congressional inaction forced a delay on the vote until after the November elections, giving opponents of the aid more time to derail or tighten the package. And the day before Uribe arrived in Washington, the Justice Department announced it had indicted Carlos Castaño, the notorious head of the right-wing paramilitaries responsible for civilian massacres that have left thousands dead, for cocaine trafficking. Both the paramilitaries and the leftist guerrillas of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), as well as the smaller leftist Army of National Liberation (ELN) are listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the US State Department.

Since taking power in August, Uribe has unveiled plans to heighten the conflict in Colombia, a posture that fits perfectly into the Bush administration's increasingly belligerent stance toward the FARC, which has been fighting since 1964 to implant a Marxist government and which is alleged to be deeply involved in the cocaine traffic. In the last six weeks, Uribe has announced a war tax on the rich to finance a massive increase in the size of the Colombian armed forces, unveiled a program to create a million-strong army of informers, announced unprecedented levels of herbicide spray attacks on coca fields, and declared a national state of emergency that abrogates basic human and civil rights in Colombia.

Those are precisely the kinds of policies to warm Bush's heart. Bush lavished praise on Uribe for fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, adding: "We look forward to working with President Uribe to hold others into account."

Uribe returned the compliment, saying Bush was an example of "the way we need to go... to fight and defeat terrorism. I want not to appease them," he said of the leftist guerrillas. "We can no longer allow the terrorist groups to threaten our people." Uribe also vowed to end Colombia's role as the world's largest producer and distributor of cocaine, suggesting that he would cover the whole country with herbicides. "The goal is to destroy 100 percent of the coca crop," he said. "We will not stop. We will spray and spray."

Uribe's visit to Washington came just one day after Attorney General John Ashcroft and DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson jointly unsealed an indictment charging Castaño and two other high paramilitary figures, Salvatore Mancuso and Juan Carlos Sierra-Ramirez, with exporting 17 tons of cocaine to Europe and the US since 1997. (A handful of FARC members were similarly indicted earlier this year.) The paramilitary leaders are violent criminals who "threaten our national security," Ashcroft said.

"It is clear that the paramilitary organization led by Carlos Castaño was immersed for years in the illegal drug trade, from the taxing of the coca growers to the processing laboratories to the transportation of cocaine to the targeted country," added Hutchinson.

The indictment of Castaño will place new pressure on Colombian authorities to move against him even though the paramilitaries are de facto allies of the Colombian state in its civil war against the leftist rebels. Even though Castaño is wanted on some 90 charges in Colombia, including torture and mass murder, and even though he regularly gives interviews to journalists, the Colombian government has been curiously unable to find and arrest him. Ties between the Colombia government and Castaño and his paramilitaries have been one of the chief obstacles for the Bush administration's war policy in Colombia, with Democratic opponents citing government collaboration with paramilitary atrocities as a reason to restrict assistance to Colombia. Now, Castaño faces becoming the sacrificial lamb at the altar of victory against the left.

According to wire reports at press time, Castaño is negotiating his surrender to US authorities. Ironically, his indictment comes just weeks after he belatedly attempted to separate his paramilitaries from the drug trade, a move that has occasioned numerous fractures in the loosely-structured 10,000-strong rightist ranks.

Human rights groups lauded Castano's indictment, but remain firm in their opposition to fueling Colombia's civil war with even more money and guns. The Latin American Working Group (, a coalition of non-governmental organizations critical of US policy in Colombia, has seized on the delayed appropriations vote to urge a renewed round of lobbying Congress, and the Colombia Mobilization (, a series of actions nationwide, is taking place today (Friday 9/28).

8. Newsbrief: Putin to Create Russian DEA

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that he would create a specialized narcotics enforcement service similar to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to head off a looming "social catastrophe," the Spanish press agency ANSA reported this week. The announcement came at a cabinet meeting called to deal with Russia's increasing levels of drug use and ever-worsening rate of HIV/AIDS infection, much of it related to injection drug use.

Putin put the number of "drug addicts" at around three million, or 2% of the population, adding that many of them are youthful. He also said that "narcomafias" are prospering and have developed dramatically since 1995. "In those years, the country confronted radical changes in a very brief period of time," leading to tears in the Russian social fabric and leaving a space for criminality to flourish, Putin said. "Drug traffickers took advantage of a period of instability and weakening of the state," he added.

Putin did not reveal how a new anti-drug enforcement agency would reduce the black market profits that have made drug trafficking organizations wealthy.

9. Newsbrief: RAVE Act Sheds Another Cosponsor

The RAVE Act, a proposed expansion of existing federal "crack house" statutes to include entertainment venues, appeared on a fast-track to approval as little as three weeks ago, but there are now increasing signs that opponents may be able to derail or amend the bill. This week, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) removed his name from the list of the bill's cosponsors. Last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did the same. Thus, a bill that appeared to have unanimous bipartisan support is in danger of becoming a partisan issue.

Of the original six cosponsors of the bill, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, only one Democrat remains: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), along with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), author of the original "crack house" law and sponsor of this attempt to expand its purview into the world of techno and trance. Republican cosponsors, who have so far stood firm, are Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), Charles Grassley (IA) and Strom Thurmond (SC).

The defections appear to be the fruit of an inside-outside strategy to defeat or amend the bill. The Drug Policy Alliance, the Electronic Music Education and Defense Fund, and a variety of locally based rave culture organizations have combined lobbying in Congress with feisty demonstrations and "protest raves," as well as hammering at any media outlets that will pay attention. The strategy seems to be working, but time is running out. The bill could still come up for a vote this fall, and the conventional wisdom at this point is that it will pass, amended or not.

10. Newsbrief: "Buzzkill" -- Venerable DC Weekly Rave Party Dies from Overdose of Ecstasy Enforcement

Buzz is no more. For the first time since 1995, the Nation nightclub in southeast Washington, DC, that hosted the weekly dance party, was dark last Friday. For the past seven years it had hosted Buzz, one of the nation's best known continuing rave events, but Nation pulled the plug on Buzz after DC police arrested eight people on Ecstasy distribution charges during the September 13 show.

"Nation's Friday night rave event has attracted a peaceful and generally law-abiding crowd," the nightclub said in a statement announcing the cancellation. "Unfortunately, it recently has become clear that an unacceptable criminal element has infiltrated this event. Despite stringent security measures on the part of Nation, including thorough pat-down searches, this element has been difficult to dislodge."

Indeed, according to some patrons of the club, Nation had resorted to increasingly tough security measures. "They were doing everything they could, a raver identified only as Moore told the Washington Post. "You had to go through a full search when you came through the door, practically airport-level security. They would pat people down, make people take off their shoes, unfold the brim of your hat. They would throw people out on the slightest inclination."

Some Buzz patrons who spoke with DRCNet vowed to boycott Nation's other ongoing events in protest, and supporters of Buzz staged a candlelight demonstration at the club last Friday. But Buzzlight Productions, whose Amanda Huie is a member of ROAR (Ravers Organized Against the RAVE Act), vowed to find a new location for the DC tradition. "Buzzlife has nothing to hide," she told the Post. "We are about the music and the scene, which is about being as you are." Huie described a week's work of fruitless negotiations with Nation as "intensely sad."

11. Newsbrief: UN Drug Control Chief Warns Canada Not to Legalize Marijuana

Reacting to the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs' September 4 report calling for legalization and regulation of marijuana (, the head of the United Nations' global anti-drug bureaucracy warned this week that Canada would make a "significant error" if it followed the committee's advice. Antonio Mario Costa, executive director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, used a Tuesday interview with the Toronto Globe & Mail to defend marijuana prohibition worldwide.

Although Costa conceded that marijuana has few links with violent crime and lacks the same association with dependency as harder drugs, he called it a health hazard that could only be dealt with by global prohibition, trotting out the familiar canards about marijuana as a "gateway drug" and the higher potency of contemporary marijuana.

"Some of our countries are on the verge of making an error which is as significant as when tobacco spread," said Costa, referring to the Canadian controversy over marijuana. He said that legalization would violate the UN conventions on narcotic drugs. "Just because something can be legalized, it does not become good per se," he added, demonstrating a flair for the non sequitur.

Costa also warned that the West is sending a bad message to other countries with its increasing tolerance of drug use. "The drug scene cannot be parceled out to individual countries," he said. "The drug scene has to be seen in its totality. I've heard very negative comments from developing countries, saying 'We are maintaining a very strong policy of prohibition and what's happening? It's considered with leniency by some northern countries.'"

12. Newsbrief: French Cannabis Growers Create Facts on Ground

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, a law-and-order hardliner, has rejected the decriminalization of cannabis and even the notion of "soft drugs," but despite official attitudes, cannabis cultivation is going through the roof. The Guardian Weekly (UK), citing government figures, reported this week that between 1990 and 2001 the number of pot plants seized in grow-op busts had increased more than 20-fold, and that the number of French marijuana users now numbers more than 7 million.

Personal cultivation is booming, the Guardian reported, with more than 50 shops around the country selling grow equipment to a new set of gardeners whose numbers are in the tens of thousands. A 1990 how-to book on growing, Jean-Pierre Galland's Fumee Clandestine (Secret Smoke) has sold 60,000 copies and a recent Ed Rosenthal tome, Growing in the Cupboard, has sold 20,000, the newspaper reported.

"This is a market niche that is booming; there is no need for advertising," said Kshoo, manager of the Mauvaise Graine (Bad Seed) shop in Montpellier. "We want people to legalize cannabis by growing it themselves, since its still prohibited and the politicians aren't doing anything except to crack down harder," he told the Guardian. "So we've organized ourselves."

And they're getting cocky. Eric Chapel, who runs a grow shop on the outskirts of Paris, told the Guardian some French growers are beginning to export -- to the Netherlands. "There are even some French people who go to Holland to sell their produce," he said. "The Dutch only produce industrial quality cannabis for export. When it comes to top-quality grass, anyone can market the stuff."

13. Newsbrief: German Health Ministry Says Safe Drug Centers Save Lives

Following pioneering efforts in Hamburg and Frankfurt in the mid-1990s, the German Health Ministry in April 2000 authorized the nationwide opening of safe drug centers where users can inject under medical supervision. All but three of Germany's 16 lander, or administrative regions, have open up such centers since then. This week, the Health Ministry released research results showing that the centers saved lives and helped drug addicts quit.

The Health Ministry contracted with the Center for Social and Psychological Research in Bochum to survey the 21 centers between November 2001 and this July, and the survey found that of 2.1 million drug-taking incidents at the centers since 1995, some 5,500 had resulted in a medical emergency. None of those medical emergencies within the confines of the safe drug centers resulted in a fatality, the survey found.

More than half of the addicts interviewed by researchers reported making contact with withdrawal programs, with most mentioning detox centers (23%), followed by other healthcare centers (20%) and hospitals (19%).

"Only those who survive have a chance of coming off drugs," said secretary of state for drug addiction Marion Casper-Merk, lauding the centers' contribution to reducing drug-related deaths and addiction.

14. Do You Read The Week Online?

Do you read the Week Online? If so, we'd like to hear from you. DRCNet needs two things:

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At 23,000 subscribers, The Week Online is the world's most widely read drug policy newsletter. With the pulse of reform quickening around the globe, an election season filled with drug policy initiatives, and a rapidly growing confrontation between the federal government and the medical marijuana movement, the Week Online and the news it reports are more critical than ever.

So please help us keep it alive! Again, please visit to support the Week Online at this important time -- or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation to make a tax-deductible donation for The Week Online -- or make a non-deductible donation for our lobbying work, check payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, by credit card. We can also accept contributions of stock -- our brokerage is Ameritrade, account #772973012, company name Drug Reform Coordination Network, Inc, contact [email protected] for info.

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

Visit 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.

Support States' Rights to Medical Marijuana: Visit to write to Congress today!

Demand Freedom for the Tulia Victims

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

16. The Reformer's Calendar

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

September 26-28, Los Angeles, CA, "Breaking the Chains: People of Color and the War on Drugs." Conference by the Drug Policy Alliance, Hyatt Regency, Macy's Plaza, 711 South Hope St. Admission $25, visit for info.

September 27, nationwide, "National Day of Action" against Plan Colombia, sponsored by the National Mobilization on Colombia. Visit for further information.

September 28, Palo Alto, CA, "Putting the Government on Trial," a Continuing Legal Education Seminar hosted by the Fully Informed Jury Association. Nine speakers will address various legal defense issues related to jury nullification, including jury empowerment, opening and closing statements and strategies for defense attorneys. Visit or contact Iloilo Marguerite Jones at (406) 442-1388 or [email protected].

September 29, sunset, nationwide vigil for medical marijuana. Contact [email protected] or (510) 486-8083 or visit 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 or call (202) 628-0871 for further information.

September 30-October 2, Washington, DC, Hemp Industries Association Convention. At the Phoenix Park Hotel, contact Candi Penn at (707) 874-3648 or visit for info.

October 1, 7:00pm, Washington, DC "Treatment Instead of Jail," movie and panel discussion by the DC Campaign for Treatment (Measure 62) in conjunction with the Independent Media Center, and additional five-minute film on drug reform measures and activities. At Visions Cinema, 1927 Florida Ave., visit 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 for further information.

October 2, 1:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop The Rock" demonstration outside Gov. Pataki's office on the theme "Prisoner Voting Rights and Community Investment." E-mail [email protected] for info.

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 or call (503) 605-5182 for info.

October 8, 6:00-8:00pm, Hartford, CT, Community Discussion on Drugs and Violence, sponsored by Efficacy and the Upper Albany Collaborative. At Liberty Christian Center, International, 23 Vine St., contact Efficacy at (860) 285-8831 or [email protected] or Pat or Mikhail at (860) 724-6703 for further information.

October 9, 1:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop The Rock" demonstration outside Gov. Pataki's office on the theme "Healing Ourselves: Successes in Treatment and Recovery." E-mail [email protected] for further information.

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 10, 5:00-7:30pm, San Francisco, CA, "The Politics of Medical Marijuana," forum with the Drug Policy Alliance and the San Francisco Medical Society. At the First Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St., refreshments served, admission free, call (415) 921-4987 or e-mail [email protected] to reserve a space, or visit for info.

October 12, 6:30pm, San Francisco, CA, NORML Benefit Party. At the SomArts Gallery, 934 Brannan St., minimum requested contribution $100, featuring the Extra Action Marching Band and a silent art auction. Advance registration recommended, visit or call (202) 483-5500 for further information.

October 16, 1:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop The Rock" demonstration outside Gov. Pataki's office on the theme "Invest in Our Youth: Build Schools not Prisons." E-mail [email protected] for info.

October 19, Portland, OR, "PottyMouth Comedy Competition: Flushing Away the DEA," $5,000 first prize. Visit or call (503) 605-5182 for info.

October 23, 1:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop The Rock" demonstration outside Gov. Pataki's office on the theme "Stop Racial Profiling: Are You a Target?" E-mail [email protected] for further info.

October 25-29, Albuquerque, NM, "International Conference on Altered States of Consciousness." At the Crowne Plaza Pyramid, visit for further information.

October 27, 10:00am-4:00pm, London, England, "A Modern Inquisition -- the General Medical Council," conference on the targeting of addiction practitioners by British regulatory authorities, featuring Dr. John Marks, Prof. Arnold Trebach, an unidentified senior British politician and others. Sponsored by the Health and Law Foundation, at the University of London Union, Malet Street, call (0)20 7274 5008 or e-mail [email protected] for information or to register.

October 30, 1:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop The Rock" demonstration outside Gov. Pataki's office on the theme "Reunite Families: Families of the Incarcerated Speak Out." E-mail [email protected] for further information.

November 2, 9:00am-5:00pm, Kansas City, MO, NORML/SSDP Drug Law Conference. At UMKC, education building, featuring Keith Stroup, Debbie Moore, Alex Holsinger and others. Visit http:/ or e-mail [email protected] for 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 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 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 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 for further information.

November 9-10, 10:00am-6:00pm, London, England, European Conference of The Libertarian International and Libertarian Alliance. At the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, admission £75.00 ($111 or 115 EURO), for information contact Dr. Chris Tame at +020 7821 5502 or e-mail [email protected].

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.

November 22-24, Toronto, ON, Canada, Canadian Harm Reduction Conference, conference for current and former drug users, peer educators and front line workers to respond to critical and emerging issues through skills building and education, policy development and networking. Sponsored by the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, 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 or call (212) 213-6376.

February 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, "Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century," sponsored by the DRCNet Foundation in partnership with organizations around the world. Visit or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

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 or contact [email protected] or (6653) 223624, 894112 x102.

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Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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