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

Issue #258, 10/11/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: Just Claims
  2. Ordeal of the Pain Doctors: California Physician Still Struggling to Clear His Name, Trial Date Set for December
  3. DRCNet Interview: Nandor Tanczos, Member of Parliament, New Zealand
  4. California Medical Marijuana Chronicles: A Widening Conflict
  5. MedMj Chronicles I: The Feds Are Deadly Serious: Bryan Epis Sentenced to Federal Prison
  6. MedMj Chronicles II: San Jose Police Department Cuts Ties with DEA Task Force
  7. MedMj Chronicles III: Marijuana Patients and Caregivers Sue the Feds, Seek Order to Stop Raids
  8. MedMj Chronicles IV: Marijuana Rescheduling Petition Revived
  9. FDA Approves Buphrenorphine for Home Addiction Treatment
  10. Whose Brain on Drugs? Stanford Symposium Focuses on Addiction and Chemistry
  11. Newsbrief: Colombian Ombudsman Petitions Government for Suspension of Herbicide Spraying
  12. Newsbrief: RAVE Act Stalled in House, Could Be Dead for the Year
  13. Newsbrief: Wisconsin Couple Commit Suicide After Pot and 'Shroom Bust, Forfeiture Notice
  14. Newsbrief: Ban on Narcocorridos Spreads in Mexico
  15. Newsbrief: School Districts Drug Testing for Tobacco, Too
  16. Newsbrief: Leaders of Former Soviet Republics Meet to Fight Drugs and Terror, Drink Wine
  17. Newsbrief: Canadian Researchers Seek Approval for Heroin Maintenance Study
  18. Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision
  19. Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision
  20. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Editorial: Just Claims

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 10/11/02

This past week, two of California's most vulnerable but most determined took a stand for the rights of Americans under the US Constitution. Angel McClary Raich, who suffers from brain cancer and uses marijuana to relieve pain, nausea and loss of appetite, and Diane Monson, a patient who uses marijuana for relief from chronic back pain, have sued the US Dept. of Justice and its violent anti-drug agency, the DEA, for violating the Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause.

The constitutional violation is clear: Congress may regulate interstate commerce, the clause says, and that is the purported basis of federal drug laws. But there is simply no reasonable interpretation of "interstate commerce" that includes a ban on the growing of marijuana by patients for medical use, nor of the growing and supplying of marijuana inside a given state to patients who need it.

It's really very simple: Interstate commerce by definition means commercial activity involving people in more than one state. Intra-state commerce -- activity within a given state -- is not interstate commerce, by definition. And personal cultivation and consumption aren't even commerce. Therefore, the Interstate Commerce Clause does not apply to intra-state activities, because they are not interstate! What part of "interstate" does the DEA not understand?

It's an understandably uncomfortable issue for the DEA. The same line of reasoning renders federal drug prohibition unconstitutional in its entirety, which in turn makes the DEA's very existence an illegal act. At most the federal government might have a role in assisting states in enforcing their individual drug laws in cases where a given drug operation crossed state lines. And even that's kind of sketchy.

But given the unconstitutionality of federal drug prohibition overall, and the consequent illegality of the DEA's existence, use of medical marijuana by patients and the supply of it to them by local cooperatives must fall far outside of the federal government's purview by any reasonable reading of that clause inscribed in the Constitution long ago -- interstate commerce, and regulation thereof -- not prohibition of private intra-state decisions made by consenting adults.

The violation is a particularly terrible one, with scope reaching even beyond states' rights and democracy. Patients of all people, trying to make the best of difficult circumstances and eke out whatever quality of life they can for themselves and their families, should not subjected to raids by armed agents of the state. Patients should not subjected to denial of medicine. Patients should be protected by all means from the cruelty of the DEA law enforcement bureaucracy with its savage political and budgetary objectives.

So the patients and their supporters are saying something that shouldn't even have to be said. As their attorney, Robert Raich, told an assembled press conference, "The government has waged a civil war against sick, disabled and dying Americans." No constitution is needed to see that that civil war is evil on its face. It is time for all good people to demand its halt. Raich and Monson have made just claims.

2. Ordeal of the Pain Doctors: California Physician Still Struggling to Clear His Name, Trial Date Set for December

It has been almost four years since Dr. Frank Fisher's world turned upside down. One day the Northern California physician was a respected healer operating a community health care center for poor patients with severe pain; the next day in was in jail, accused of being a murderous drug dealer. Things have improved since that day in February 1999 when a multitude of armed state and local agents raided the Harvard-trained doctor's clinic in Anderson and a local pharmacy, arresting him and pharmacy owners Steve and Madeline Miller for murder, drug dealing, and prescription drug fraud.

For one thing, the murder charges have evaporated into the thin air from which they were produced in the first place. (For another, Fisher is out on bail (as are the Millers). His bail was reduced from $15 million to $50,000, and then to nothing as the case against him crumbled. And he looks forward to proving himself in court.

But the veteran physician cannot practice his calling. His assets have been frozen. He has been reduced to every grown person's nightmare: living with his parents. "I never expected to spend my 40s doing that," he said with a pained laugh. And he goes to court in December, with his reputation and his freedom on the line. "I'm looking at a million dollars worth of fraud and prescription violations," he told DRCNet. "That's a 20-year sentence."

Fisher seeks vindication in court, he said. "I expect to be exonerated. I'm innocent. I didn't do it," he proclaimed.

What Fisher did do was operate a health care clinic in the Shasta Valley that used the latest opioid pain management techniques for the good of patients, predominantly poor patients covered by Medical, the state medical assistance program. "I was the first doctor in California to apply modern principles of pain management to a disadvantaged population, and when it got expensive, that pushed investigators from the California Attorney General's office over the edge," said Fisher. "They made it look as if I prescribed half the oxycontin in the state of California."

Although the murder charges were so absurd they were dismissed by a judge after Fisher and the Millers had spent five months in jail -- the alleged victims included a woman killed in a traffic accident, a person who stole drugs from a patient and subsequently overdosed, and, most cruelly, a patient who committed suicide two weeks after Fisher's arrest -- state prosecutors remain convinced that Fisher was up to no good. In court, Fisher will have to prove that he was not engaging in fraudulent scrip-writing but in treating pain within accepted medical standards. He fully expects to be able to do so.

His clinic employed multiple practices to avoid the twin banes of pain doctors: junkies and narcs. Those precautions, documented in medical records, included:

  • Rigorous pre-treatment screening to exclude potential abusers of pain medications. Among those screened out were undercover agents sent by the Attorney General's office.
  • Mandatory mental health evaluations of all Chronic Pain patients by a licensed professional.
  • Ejection of patients caught lying, diverting medications or ingesting non-therapeutic doses. As a result the clinic ejected 400 patients for failing the standards of integrity required by Dr. Fisher's practice.
Fisher will also have experts on pain management to back him up in court, he said. "Dr. Robert Brody, chief of pain management at San Francisco General, will testify," said Fisher. "So will Dr. Bill Hurwitz." Hurwitz is the Virginia pain specialist who announced last month he was closing his practice rather than risk seeing his patients suddenly cut off from medication by the DEA (

Prosecutors originally argued that the size of some of the oxycontin doses were clear evidence that Fisher was dealing dope, but neither California law nor expert opinion backed them up. Under a California health statute adopted in 1997, "A physician who uses opiate therapy to relieve severe chronic intractable pain may prescribe a dosage deemed medically necessary to relieve severe chronic intractable pain as long as the prescribing is in conformance with the [1990] California Intractable Pain Treatment Act, Section 2241.5 of the Business and Professions Code."

Similarly, University of California-Davis Pain Control Center founder Dr. David Eisele, told the court about Fisher's prescribing: "The absolute numbers don't bother me a bit. I'll repeat that. The absolute numbers don't bother me a bit. I have cases of my own that I can show on higher doses than any patient that Dr. Fisher ever had in all the records that I've got."

Despite having by all appearances a very weak case, prosecutors continue to press forward. "They have millions of the taxpayers' dollars invested in persecuting me," said Fisher. "They can't just back away now."

If Fisher is confronting the awesome power of the state, he is also finding new allies. Doctors accused of running pill mills have almost universally expressed a sense of being abandoned by their colleagues when charged, but with the federal government on an announced national hunt for pain doctors -- its targets are usually described in DEA press releases as drug dealers -- and physicians being charged and sometimes convicted in growing numbers, the profession is beginning to awaken to the threat.

Two weeks ago, Fisher attended the annual convention of the American Academy for Pain Management ( in Reno, Nevada, where he sat on a panel with fellow accused physicians Dr. Robert Weitzel of Utah ( and Dr. Joseph Talley of North Carolina. "We spoke about our cases and people were horrified," said Fisher. "As the medical community becomes more aware of the problem, there is growing support."

Last weekend, Fisher was attending the conference on pain management at UC Davis, manning a booth for the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain ( and spreading the word about the pain care crisis provoked by heavy-handed prosecutors. There is also a move afoot to provide license defense insurance for doctors accused of similar offenses, Fisher said. "When you're charged with medical or criminal violations, malpractice insurance doesn't help. License defense insurance would fill a real gap," he said.

At the root of the problem is prohibitionist ideology, said Fisher. "For the past century, opioids have been viewed as the ultimate evil in our society. The problem is that this ultimate evil is not evil for an enormous group of pain patients. Opioids are not evil, they are morally neutral," Fisher said. "We are in the beginning of a paradigm shift here. The inquisition condemned Galileo for his views on gravity, and he had to recant, but science eventually prevailed. The science around opioid pain management is irrefutable: Opioids are safe when taken as prescribed, and addiction is rare in pain patients. That differs from the prevailing ideology, but ideology must at some point yield to science."

Dr. Fisher may be a man of science, but Frank Fisher is a man, and he's not a happy man. "These people have taken four years of my life, my patients have suffered, some have died," he told DRCNet. "I'm not well-versed in civil law, but somebody has to pay."

3. DRCNet Interview: Nandor Tanczos, Member of Parliament, New Zealand

Dread-locked Rastafarian Nandor Tanczos was elected to New Zealand's parliament as a member of the Green Party in 1999. Since then, he has used his elected office to become the most prominent spokesman for cannabis law reform in New Zealand. Tanczos was instrumental in pushing for a parliamentary committee to study cannabis reform last year and continues to fight to free the weed. Always a lightning rod for prohibitionists, Tanczos last week was the subject of a criminal complaint filed by an opposition member charging him with continuing to use cannabis while a member of parliament. Thinking it might be time to check in on the Kiwis, DRCNet spoke with Tanczos on Thursday.

Week Online: Member of Parliament Craig McNair filed a complaint with police last week charging that you continue to violate the law by smoking cannabis even though you are a parliamentarian. How do you respond to his charge, and how do you think this will end up?

Nandor Tanczos: I've always been open about the fact that I used cannabis; I even said so before I was first elected in 1999. I don't make a big deal out of it, but when the media ask me, I'm honest about it. Craig McNair from the right-nationalist New Zealand First Party filed the complaint, and that was big news here. The police came to visit to investigate the complaint, but I suspect little will come of it. To prosecute, they have two considerations: First, is there enough evidence of a crime? I have not said that I smoked at a specific place at a specific time, and just saying that I use is probably not enough evidence. The second consideration is the issue of the public welfare. We are in the middle of an important policy debate on cannabis, and one could argue that police should not prosecute because people in public life should be able to address these issues and to arrest me would suppress discussion of the issues. We expect an announcement about what they plan to do soon. If they choose to prosecute me, that's fine. It would become a very interesting freedom of religion case.

WOL: Are you potentially subject to parliamentary sanctions?

Tanczos: Parliament does not have the ability to unseat me unless I were convicted of a criminal offense with a sentence of two years or more. That's not the case with personal cannabis consumption. There could be a motion of censure, but nobody has tried that. I think what has actually happened is that most people don't support Craig McNair's actions. This is a country where about 54% of adults have tried cannabis and about 75% of young people. McNair is a 27-year-old who says he's a role model for youth, but adds that he's never even been offered cannabis. I guess that shows how many friends he has. We have received many messages of support saying that people basically believe McNair is a twit.

WOL: The cannabis flap isn't the only attack aimed at you in recent weeks. Last month, you were slammed in the media and by some politicians over the issue of selling certain substances at your hemp store. What was that all about?

Tanczos: I am the part owner of a shop that sells hemp products, among other things. We also sell two products known as Exodus and Frenzy, which basically contain extracts of black pepper, chemical compounds known as piperazines. This became a story because your DEA has just temporarily classified these compounds as dangerous drugs on a temporary basis. But I read the Federal Register on the emergency classification and the only danger I could see was that people were taking these substances and then going out dancing. They were being found in the same places where they find Ecstasy. You would also presumably find beer and even coffee at these locations, but that is no reason for them to be banned.

Media reports appeared saying the New Zealand Health Department is now investigating these substances, but we asked the Health Department, and they are not concerned, they are not investigating these products. The leader of the conservative National Party and others have said I should resign or sell my shares in the hemp store -- are they looking to pick up cheap shares in a profitable business? -- but the real concern seems to be that this is associated with dance parties. It is extremely poor decision-making if people are making decisions on whether to ban substances based on whether or not they like the people who use them.

Also tangled up in the same debate was a controversy over selling ecstasy testing kits. I've been criticized for promoting ecstasy use. I don't use ecstasy, but if other people wish to use such drugs -- and many are -- then we need to make sure those people are as safe as they can be. We want to minimize harm. After all, that is part of our national drug strategy. We are really the only people to take practical steps to help ecstasy users avoid harm.

WOL: What is behind these media flaps and political attacks?

Tanczos: They are very much an attack on me personally. I've been consistently vocal about these issues, and they try to destroy my personal credibility to damp down a whole movement. The complaint by McNair was an attempt to intimidate people who come out of the closet. It won't work; instead it backfires. What happens as a result of the media attention is that we have a chance to get our key messages out and bring the debate into the public arena. We do have real problems with people selling cannabis to school kids still wearing their school uniforms and while, for example, the Nationals may accuse us of wanting children going to school on genetically engineered cannabis, we can state our position that cannabis should be legalized for adults over 18 and that police should concentrate on putting these drug distribution networks that focus on kids out of business. We are also seeing an increase in crystal meth, we're very concerned about that. If we used the $20 million we spend busting people for cannabis, we could target those drug houses and put them out of business. We could also use some of that money to focus on effective drug education. A lot of what passes for education is the abstinence model, and it's pretty clear that doesn't work. Just say no is a proven failure. So you see how we turn these attacks to our advantage.

WOL: Last year, a parliamentary committee was looking into cannabis reform, but it seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. What happened with that committee and what is happening with cannabis reform in parliament?

Tanczos: We set up an inquiry in the Health Select Committee last year. We heard submissions from the public -- about 75% of them favored cannabis law reform -- but unfortunately because of early elections, we did not have time to produce a report. The Health Committee has agreed to complete the report, and we expect it in the next month or so. I think it will contain a recommendation for law reform, and once we sit it, we will decide where to go from there. But since the elections there is a stumbling block. After the elections, the Labor government sought and won support from the United Future Party, and one of UF's conditions for supporting the government was that it not introduce any legislation to change the legal status of cannabis. That will not change until the next election, when I think the Greens will forge an agreement with Labor.

In the meantime, I have introduced a private member's bill to allow farmers to grow hemp. I have not introduced a private bill on cannabis law reform because I don't want to introduce legislation until it's clear it will have support. If my bill is killed on the first vote, the issue is off the agenda. But private member's bills are a random process; which ones will be considered is literally determined by picking names out of a hat.

But progress can be made nonetheless. There are a number of administrative steps that can be taken without passing legislation. One big step would be to change the regulations in the Misuse of Drugs Act that allow police to make warrantless searches. We might get some movement on those sorts of issues. The other thing is that we can continue to build a consensus and solidify support and work to ensure that the numbers are on our side. And we can continue to reach out to educators, health workers, and law enforcement, where there is actually considerable support for reform.

WOL: What about the opposition?

Tanczos: Over the years, the opposition to ending cannabis prohibition has been effectively refuted. In the late 1990s when parliament inquired into the mental effects of cannabis, it found that the dangers had been exaggerated, that some people had problems, but that making it illegal only made things worse. So opponents ended up resorting to "what about the kids?" I suspect we have a well-funded opposition making use of school principals and boards of trustees to attempt to derail cannabis reform. But their prohibitionist consensus is crumbling. I have principals come to argue with me, and they come up to me afterwards and tell me my position is actually quite sensible. Other educators are concerned about cannabis, but feel a punitive approach is not helpful. One-third of all students suspended from school are for cannabis use or possession.

WOL: What sort of impact do international drug reform efforts have on New Zealand?

Tanczos: They are very significant for us, especially what is happening in Australia, Britain, Canada and the US. We New Zealanders share cultural similarities with those countries. We are a small country, and we are acutely aware of what is happening in other parts of the world. People know what is happening in Australia, and the latest moves in Britain, while modest, are very significant. If Canada enacted reform legislation, that would also be very important. We Greens are trying to publicize the fact that we are not going out on a limb all by ourselves, but we are part of a global wave of cannabis law reform. On the other hand, the prohibitionist policies that the US exports influence our politics as well.

4. California Medical Marijuana Chronicles: A Widening Conflict

The struggle between the citizens of California and the federal government over medical marijuana is breaking out on so many fronts that it is difficult for a publication that wants to cover other drug policy news to do it justice. This week alone saw a medical marijuana gardener being sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, a patients' lawsuit against the federal government seeking a court order to halt the raids, the reintroduction of a petition demanding the DEA reschedule marijuana, and a big city police force telling the DEA to get lost. And those are just the biggest stories.

5. MedMj Chronicles I: The Feds Are Deadly Serious: Bryan Epis Sentenced to Federal Prison

Federal prosecutors made an example out of Bryan Epis, and the final act in their judicial witch-burning occurred Monday in federal court in Sacramento, where US District Judge Frank C Damrell Jr. sentenced the Chico resident to a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence. Epis, who was operating within the guidelines of a California state law allowing medical marijuana as he grew for himself and four other patients, was the first California medical marijuana grower to be tried by federal prosecutors, though not the first to be convicted. (Todd McCormick, for example, is in the third year of a five year sentence.)

Epis was convicted of growing more than 100 plants and conspiracy to grow more than 1000 plants after a 1997 raid, a year after Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana in the state. Judge Damrell refused to allow Epis to present a medical defense, citing the Supreme Court's decision in the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club case ruling such defenses invalid.

Federal prosecutors held tough to their fictions that there is no such thing as medical marijuana and that people involved in the movement are essentially dope dealers. "He is no different than any other drug trafficker that this court has seen and sent to jail," US Attorney Samuel Wong said of Epis.

"This is federal law enforcement at its most atrocious," said California NORML ( director Dale Gieringer, "and it really shows how excessive those federal mandatory minimums are. Here is a guy who I know thought what he was doing was legal. He was acting with good faith under California law, and he gets 10 years in prison," he told DRCNet. "It shows you what a ruthless prosecutor like Wong can do."

Wong, a self-described marijuana specialist, proved himself a vindictive inquisitor, even urging the judge to find him guilty of perjury and obstructing justice for testifying that he grew marijuana for medical reasons, not for profit. He did mange to convince the judge that Epis was "a manager or supervisor" of a criminal enterprise. Wong's last words to Judge Damrell before Epis was sentenced were: "He's a crook." "Wong knows nothing about pot," said Gieringer, charitably ascribing the prosecutor's behavior to ignorance instead of malevolence.

The Epis case has become a focal point of resistance to the federal crusade against medical marijuana, and while prosecutors changed his sentencing date at the last minute, his original sentencing date of September 23 in Sacramento saw what may have been the largest medical marijuana demonstration ever. Coordinated by Americans for Safe Access (, an emergency response coalition formed in the face of escalating federal raids, that protest included civil disobedience resulting in 29 arrests at the federal courthouse where Epis was sentenced Monday.

"This is a tragedy," said ASA's Hilary McQuie, "but the real crime here is that a peaceable man in being separated from his young daughter for 10 years." But he may not be the only one, McQuie warned DRCNet. "There are 35 other California medical marijuana people being prosecuted by the feds right now," she said. "Bryan was just the first."

6. MedMj Chronicles II: San Jose Police Department Cuts Ties with DEA Task Force

The DEA's aggressive medical marijuana enforcement activities have put California law enforcement agencies in a difficult position, caught between upholding state laws and maintaining their traditional cooperative ties with federal drug squads. Now San Jose Police Chief William Landsdowne has resolved that dilemma by pulling his officers out of the DEA task force that raided the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana ( in Santa Cruz early last month. Landsdowne told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday that his officers had better things to do than help the feds raid pot clubs. "I think the priorities are out of sync at the federal level," he said, adding that he supports the state's medical marijuana law. "The problem in California right now is methamphetamines, not medical marijuana."

Lansdowne criticized the DEA for putting his officers in the middle of a conflict between state and federal law. WAMM had been operating since 1996 in cooperation with and with the approval of city and county law enforcement officials, Landsdowne said. "It's unfair to put our officers in a position of deciding how they're going to enforce a law that's in conflict with local law," he said.

And in the case of medical marijuana, Landsdowne came down firmly on the side of state law. "I think the public made the decision for us that if it's well-managed, it's legal," he said. "Our district attorney believes that, the state believes that, and I believe they're correct, so long as there are controls in place."

San Jose's refusal to cooperate with the DEA task force is the latest crack in what was once a solid wall of solidarity between state and federal law enforcement officials. San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan has publicly invited the DEA to stay out of his town. And during the WAMM raid, local sheriff's deputies refused to intervene to rescue DEA agents trapped in WAMM's backyard by patients who blocked the way out. Those agents were freed only upon the release of WAMM founders Mike and Valerie Corral later the same day.

"The DEA's raids on the medical marijuana patients and hospices seem to have shocked the consciences of a lot of people whose consciences aren't easily shocked," said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a press release lauding the chief's decision. "I suspect that other police chiefs will soon follow in the footsteps of Chief Lansdowne."

"This is very encouraging," agreed California NORML's Dale Gieringer. "We hope to see this happen elsewhere," he told DRCNet. "We've already had resolutions of non-cooperation in Berkeley and San Francisco, and this just shows how over the top and out of line the WAMM raid was. Maybe the government will begin to realize how indefensible its actions were."

The DEA is showing no sign of that. When the Chronicle asked DEA San Francisco spokesman Richard Meyer (who must have one of the toughest jobs around) about Landsdowne's decision, Meyer replied: "He's certainly entitled to his opinions, and we have great respect for him," Meyer said. "However, the federal law is very clear when it comes to marijuana, and our mandate is to enforce the laws."

[Ed: DEA chief Asa Hutchinson has authority to reschedule marijuana as a medicine with the stroke of a pen -- just as DEA's administrative law judge, Francis Young, recommended be done in 1988. Attorney General Ashcroft and President Bush also have this authority. They can and should do so now, not falsely claim that their hands are tied.]

7. MedMj Chronicles III: Marijuana Patients and Caregivers Sue the Feds, Seek Order to Stop Raids

The California medical marijuana movement opened a new legal front in its counteroffensive against the Justice Department and its DEA henchmen on Wednesday as two patients and their providers filed suit in Oakland federal court, seeking a court order to stop raids on medical marijuana operations that are legal under state law.

Patients Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson and their two caregivers, known in court papers only as John Doe #1 and John Doe #2, will argue that the federal government has no right to interfere with activities that are lawful under state laws and do not involve interstate commerce. "For the federal government to attack patients and caregivers for activities that never cross state lines is an absolute violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution," said attorney Robert Raich, who married Angel McClary Raich two months ago and is representing the plaintiffs.

Monson is a 36-year-old bookkeeper from Oroville who uses marijuana to control chronic back pain. Her home was invaded by the DEA last August, and her plants cut down and seized.

Angel McClary Raich told an Oakland news conference she suffers from brain cancer and uses marijuana to relieve pain, nausea and loss of appetite. Marijuana has allowed her to function and raise her children, she said. "The government has waged a civil war against sick, disabled and dying Americans," Raich said. "If cannabis works for us, we should be able to have that medicine."

"I suspect this is our best chance for some immediate progress and relief," said California NORML's Gieringer. "We won't get it from this administration or this Congress; the federal courts are our best bet. There are real legal issues here that even Bush appointees on the bench will find difficult to ignore, questions about federalism," he told DRCNet. "This is the beginning of the counteroffensive, but there is more coming," he warned.

8. MedMj Chronicles IV: Marijuana Rescheduling Petition Revived

Finally this week, in a move aimed at shifting national drug policies but inspired by the federal offensive against medical marijuana in California, a coalition of groups advocating for medical marijuana has refiled a petition asking the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a drug with medical applications. Virginia resident Jon Gettman and High Times magazine filed the original petition in 1995, but after years of administrative and legal limbo, it was dismissed on the grounds that Gettman and High Times lacked standing to seek rescheduling because they could not show they had been harmed by marijuana being labeled a Schedule I drug, one with no medical uses and a high danger of abuse.

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis is comprised of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, Americans for Safe Access, California NORML, the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Gettman, High Times, Iowans for Medical Marijuana, the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, national NORML, the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, Patients Out of Time and several individuals. In a press release announcing the renewed effort, the Coalition wrote: "This petition seeks to have marijuana removed from schedule I and placed in a less restrictive schedule that provides for medical use based on a doctor's prescription. If successful, this petition would also eliminate the clash between federal law and the laws of states that accept and recognize the medical use of cannabis."

While the original Gettman-High Times petition was shot down for lack of standing, the coalition was created to address that problem head on. "This petition is being filed by a coalition of interested parties including nonprofit organizations and individual citizens," said the coalition. "The memberships of these organizations and these individual citizens have various interests in the appropriate scheduling of cannabis under federal law, including but not limited to an interest in legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use based on existing medical conditions."

The coalition rescheduling petition argues that the scientific arguments for marijuana as medicine have never been reviewed by the DEA, which by statute sets drug schedules. "In their review of the Gettman petition neither DEA nor HHS gave any consideration to marijuana's medical use, its safety for use, its relative abuse potential or its relative dependence liability, as called for by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This petition addresses all of these relevant issues."

Petitioners will argue that recent advances in the understanding of medical marijuana render invalid its classification as a drug with no accepted medical value. "Key developments in the assessment of marijuana's medical use include: acceptance of marijuana's medical use by health care professionals; recognition of marijuana as a medicine of last resort by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; recognition of the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids by the scientific community and health care providers; the emergence of basic research explaining the mode of action of cannabis-based medicines; the emergence of clinical research on the medical use of cannabis; and acceptance of marijuana's medical use by eight states. These developments contradict the [current] classification of marijuana as having no accepted medical use in the United States."

Despite having science on their side, petitioners expect the DEA to deny the petition. "We have all the latest information, but regardless of that the DEA will still turn us down," said Jay Cavanaugh, head of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. "Then we will appeal in federal court on the grounds that the DEA is violating its own laws," he told DRCNet. "The Controlled Substances Act is very clear about the process of drug scheduling. If the DEA follows the law, which I don't expect, they must reschedule. If they don't follow the law, they will be overturned on appeal."

Cavanaugh told DRCNet a member of his group, Laura "LJ" Carden, had prompted the renewed rescheduling effort. "She asked whatever happened to the Gettman petition and I told her he lacked standing," said Cavanaugh. "She said, 'We don't lack standing, why don't we do it.' She was right, we e-mailed Jon and he got excited, then Al Byrne from Patients Out of Time jumped in, and off we went. You want people with standing? We have patients with extensive medical records."

The rescheduling effort is part of a multi-pronged strategy, said Cavanaugh. "You have this, you have the Oakland lawsuit, and there will be more cases," he said. "The federal government is going to be running around putting out fires. This is a well-planned, carefully thought-out strategy."

Cavanaugh told DRCNet California Attorney General Bill Lockyer needs to act more aggressively, perhaps by filing a brief in support of the Oakland lawsuit or, better yet, filing a similar suit on behalf of the state of California.

If state officials fail to protect medical marijuana patients and providers, trouble could be brewing, he said. "Lockyer needs to act or the moderates are going to be pushed into the hands of folks feeling much more extreme," Cavanaugh warned, adding that even within his own group people were asking what was the good of cooperation with state officials. "As leaders, we risk losing our base unless the people we are working with can deliver some relief," he said. "That would be a real tragedy."

Cavanaugh noted a tactical split between his group and more confrontational groups, such as Americans for Safe Access, which has led street demonstrations and civil disobedience actions. For ASA's Hilary McQuie it's a matter of defending California patients and patience is growing thin. "When they raided the 6th Street dispensary in February, nothing happened," she told DRCNet. "But look at the response when the raided WAMM. The more the DEA pushes us, the more we push back."

Now the DEA and the Justice Department are starting to get pushed from many different directions. One day they might begin to notice.

9. FDA Approves Buphrenorphine for Home Addiction Treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the narcotic pain reliever buphrenorphine for the treatment of heroin addiction Tuesday. Buphrenorphine blocks the euphoric high of heroin while staving off withdrawal symptoms because it is an opioid. The drug could become a widely used alternative to methadone maintenance. Unlike methadone, which is dispensed at clinics operating under cumbersome federal restrictions, buphrenorphine will be available by prescription from specially licensed doctors.

In other words, heroin users who wish to treat themselves with buphrenorphine will be able to go to a doctor's office, not a clinic, and be prescribed medicine from a pharmacy to be taken at home. The Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 laid the legal groundwork for the shift to home treatment of addiction, which is expected to increase the number of heroin users seeking freedom from the drug.

"We hope we have made a major impact on the reduction of heroin addiction," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who helped sponsor the act, at a Wednesday press conference in Washington, DC.

"Currently the available medications, methadone and ORLAAM (a relative of methadone), are extremely useful but ensnared in regulations that grossly limit their potential effectiveness," added Wayne State University psychiatry professor Charles Schuster.

Of an estimated one million heroin habituated heroin users in the US, only 200,000 are currently seeking treatment, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. Half of all persons offered methadone maintenance refuse, citing onerous restrictions, dingy facilities, dangerous neighborhoods and a lack of say in their own treatment.

The FDA approved two buphrenorphine formulations, drugs marketed under the names Subutex and Suboxone by British drug-maker Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals. Subutex is buphrenorphine alone, while Suboxone also includes naloxone, another drug that blocks the effects of opioids on the brain.

"Until recently, opiate dependence treatments... like methadone could be dispensed in a very limited number of clinics that specialize in addiction treatment," the FDA noted in a Wednesday press release. "As a consequence, there have not been enough addiction treatment centers to accommodate all patients desiring therapy."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), another sponsor of the 2000 legislation, also attended the Wednesday press conference. He reiterated his opposition to legalizing drug use while arguing that drug abusers should be treated as patients, not criminals. "I hope that FDA approval will help spur the private sector to redouble its efforts to find new cures for drug addiction," said the veteran drug warrior, whose bill to remedy disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentences would do so by increasing powder penalties and slightly decreasing crack penalties. According to the US Sentencing Commission, his bill, if passed, would have freed a grand total of 67 prisoners during the last three years.

10. Whose Brain on Drugs? Stanford Symposium Focuses on Addiction and Chemistry

Chemistry Special to DRCNet by Steve Beitler

"Who remembers when this ad came out?" The speaker's slide was a still image of the classic egg and frying pan ad, "This is Your Brain on Drugs." The speaker, Timothy Condon of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), answered his own question. "It was 1987... not that long ago. But, today, this is your brain on drugs."

His next slide showed aerial views and cross-sections of the brain, two rows of four neatly ordered ellipses of gray matter mottled with bright reds and greens. "Look how far we've come," Condon said. "This shows how we're mapping the impact of drugs of abuse on the brain. We're making incredible strides in the neurobiology of addiction."

Condon's talk, on October 4 at Stanford University, kicked off a highly technical symposium entitled "Addiction and the Brain." Hosted by Stanford's medical school, the program featured Condon and six researchers, each of whom addressed a different aspect of the same question: How are the brain's chemical interactions and "circuitry" implicated in creating or sustaining addiction? The scientists reviewed recent studies on changes in brain chemistry that appear to alter the brain's mechanisms that control euphoria, aversion, reinforcement and subtle aspects of learning and memory.

Lurking behind the onslaught of obscure terms, overcrowded slides and non-stop obeisance to academic colleagues was the belief that what happens to complex chemicals in molecular-level interactions might hold the key to understanding the profound reality that is addiction. Also lurking behind the symposium was NIDA, whose hefty packets were available as people arrived at the auditorium and whose funding had supported a good bit of the research discussed at Stanford.

Condon's opening talk was the most accessible to the non-specialist. "Drug addiction is our number one public health problem," he said. He showed a slide depicting what he called "the history of serial epidemics" -- surges in the use of heroin, crack cocaine and amphetamines over the last 40 years. "Just when you get a handle on one, another one pops up," he noted, ignoring the policy implications of that fact.

Condon pegged the dollar cost to society of illegal drug use at $161 billion per year, midway between the $185 billion toll extracted by alcohol and the $138 billion cost impact from tobacco. But Condon was hopeful. "Science has revolutionized our view of addiction," he said. He let the ideological cat peek out of the bag when he praised the Partnership For a Drug-Free America, the gang that created the egg-and-frying-pan ad, as "good people with whom NIDA partners a lot."

Rob Malenka of Stanford focused on the brain's synapses, those infinitesimal spaces between neurons that are important pathways for the complex interactions of brain chemicals and cells. With a keen eye for the obvious, he noted that, "a major problem in treatment is the persistence of addiction." He noted the difference between relapses that are stress-related and those that are cue-related. As an example of the latter, Malenka described an experiment that showed differences in neurochemical levels and activity when people with a history of cocaine use were shown two videos: one of scenes of nature, and the other showing people using cocaine.

The molecular mechanisms of drug addiction were the topic for Eric Nestler of the University of Texas. He discussed gene expression, which is the mechanism by which genes encode the proteins that do the heavy lifting when it comes to determining each person's genetic endowment. "Drugs of abuse act on these proteins at the synapses," Nestler said. "Chronic exposure to drugs produces changes in the proteins that we're just starting to understand." The changes in these molecules that take place among drug users could be similar to the changes observed in lab rats that develop what Nestler termed "natural addictions." "One rat in our lab was running as many as 20 miles a day on his little wheel," Nestler noted. "That's quite a lot for a rodent." He also noted that chronic amphetamine use leads to changes in the dendrites, which are part of brain cells. "That might be a potential target for intervention (read: a vaccine) to treat addiction."

Charles O'Brien of the University of Pennsylvania concluded the symposium with a review of the history of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist or blocker that was approved by the FDA in the 1980's for the treatment of heroin addiction. Later research showed that naltrexone had promise as a treatment for alcoholism, and its use for that disease remains controversial. As part of the lead-in to his discussion of naltrexone, O'Brien cited some intriguing numbers. Seventy-five percent of people surveyed had tried tobacco at least once; of this number, 24 percent of them became addicted. Forty-six percent of his respondents tried marijuana at least once, and 9 percent of them were classified as "addicted." Only 1.5 percent of the people O'Brien questioned had ever tried heroin, with 23 percent of them eventually succumbing to addiction.

"NIDA has always been big on brain research, and they tend to accept the results of these studies pretty uncritically," said Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance. "They're selective on what they choose to publicize, and what bothers me is what they don't talk about or acknowledge." She cited the recent controversy over an article published in the journal Science, in which a team led by Dr. George A. Ricuarte of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine claimed to find that the amount of Ecstasy that some recreational users take in a single night may cause brain damage and may help hasten the onset of Parkinson's disease. The Ricuarte study has been savaged by other scientists, who say that the monkeys and baboons in the research were given massive amounts of Ecstasy and that the kinds of damage purportedly seen by the Johns Hopkins researchers have never been observed in autopsies or brain scans of people who were not shy about taking the drug.

The frontiers of brain chemistry aren't as germane to policy reform as the front lines of the battle for medical marijuana or prison reform, but they are an intriguing intersection of policy and science. Advances in our understanding of how the brain works, coupled with growing knowledge of the genetic basis of disease, health and perhaps behavior, will slowly deepen our understanding of the role of neurochemistry and genetics in aspects of drug use and abuse. While the scientists at Stanford would probably disclaim any link between their research and policy, reformers need to confront the fact that, so far, policy has had a bigger impact on science than science has had on policy.

11. Newsbrief: Colombian Ombudsman Petitions Government for Suspension of Herbicide Spraying

Colombia's "Defender of the People," a paid government official who acts as a sort of ombudsman between citizens and the Colombian state, has asked the government to halt the spraying of herbicides as part of its coca eradication campaign, the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo reported on Thursday. The defender, Luis Eduardo Cifuentes, announced this week that he had received more than 6,500 complaints from peasants and was asking for a suspension of the eradication program in Putumayo province while the program undergoes a rigorous evaluation of whether the government has complied with its own promises to the affected population.

Cifuentes accused the aerial eradication program and its main contractor, the US mercenary firm DynCorp, of violating promises to not spray over bodies of water, settlements, Indian reservations and areas where farmers had signed voluntary eradication contracts. Peasants complained that the spraying has destroyed their food crops as well as illicit coca, Cifuentes said.

Although the US State Department controversially certified last September that the spraying was not harmful to humans or animals, peasants in affected areas continue to complain of a variety of ailments. According to Cifuentes, the Colombian government's failure to set up a program of epidemiological monitoring has made it impossible to verify a link between the spraying and the ailments and made a "joke" out of environmental regulations. The defender's findings came in a minutely detailed 42-page report made available to the press and government officials on Wednesday. Surprised Colombian governement officials had no comment Thursday, El Tiempo reported.

The Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe, in connivance with the US government, embarked on a new, expanded round of spraying in recent weeks.

12. Newsbrief: RAVE Act Stalled in House, Could Be Dead for the Year

Foreign policy may have caused a healthy distraction from domestic drug war policy this year, as the House of Representatives went into recess Friday without taking action on the RAVE Act, which would dramatically expand federal "crack house" statutes to include any venue where drugs are consumed. The act has seen growing opposition and defections in the Senate, but it was the lack of time, not organized opposition, that apparently did in the bill for this year. According to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance's RAVE Act point-man, Bill Piper, the House Subcommittee on Crime held a hearing on the bill Thursday, but failed to vote on it because of the imminent recess.

Still, wrote Piper, the Senate will be in session through next week, "so we have to keep the Senate version from passing and setting a bad precedent." The ultimate aim is to defeat the bill entirely, but opponents are prepared to offer amendments to make a bad bill slightly better if it appears headed for passage. Two original cosponsors of the Senate Bill, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) have withdrawn their support for the bill.

Visit the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund at to join the effort against the act.

13. Newsbrief: Wisconsin Couple Commit Suicide After Pot and 'Shroom Bust, Forfeiture Notice

The funeral for a Waukesha couple who committed suicide last month turned into a cry for marijuana law reform last week as the adult children of Dennis and Denise Schilling charged the government with hounding them to their deaths. Facing lengthy prison sentences and the loss of their home, the couple hung themselves in a Madison motel on September 25. At the funeral, four of five Schilling children wore shirts bearing messages such as, "DARE to Know the Truth About Marijuana," and told the Milwaukee Journal their parents were martyrs to the cause of legalizing marijuana, especially for medicinal purposes.

The Schillings were arrested earlier this year after a snitch told the Waukesha Metro Drug Enforcment Unit they had a grow-op in their home. An undercover policeman and another snitch bought a total of $120 worth of marijuana from the couple, after which police raided the home, finding 21 plants, 12 grams of pot and "drug paraphernalia." On June 27, the Schillings and their son Joshua were charged with maintaining a drug house, manufacturing marijuana and mushrooms, and possession with intent to deliver marijuana and mushrooms.

All three faced possible years in prison, but that wasn't enough for the drug warriors. On September 20, US Marshals hand-delivered a notice of forfeiture action against the couple's home. Although no one has explained why federal authorities were involved in seeking seizure of a home in a small-time state-prosecuted case, US Attorney Steven Biskupic, whose office filed the forfeiture motion, called the Schillings' set-up "a substantial grow operation."

In a suicide note left at the scene, Denise Schilling offered a different explanation, citing her efforts to overcome a lifetime of disease. "I had tried every politically correct route, from religion to psychotropic drugs, and none of them helped me in any way," she wrote. "Perhaps someday people like me will not be persecuted. Perhaps someday it will not be a crime to take care of your health."

Another of the couples' children, Caleb Schilling, pointed an accusing finger at the legal system. "We're being screwed by these people," he said.

14. Newsbrief: Ban on Narcocorridos Spreads in Mexico

The congress of the state of Nuevo Leon this week passed legislation that would ban the radio or TV broadcast of narcocorridos, the Mexican border ballads that sometimes lionize participants in the drug trade. Nuevo Leon becomes the seventh state this year to attempt to suppress the wildly popular musical genre, joining Baja California, Sinaloa, San Luis Potosí and Coahuila y Querétaro. The ban cuts across the narcocorrido heartland in north-central Mexico, leaving Chihuahua and Tamulipas as the only border states that have not banned the songs.

Narcocorridos, with their tales of bravery, treachery, smuggling, and above all, putting one over on the gringos, sell millions of copies on both sides of the border, but their popularity has frightened Mexico's moral watchdogs and good burghers. The songs glamorize the drug trade and make heroes out of criminals, they complain. Such complaints are often valid, but, like gangster rap music in the US, narcocorridos are a means of expressing social reality, as unsavory as it may be. CD sales in the hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, on both sides of the border, testify that the music touches a popular nerve.

But the legislators are having none of it. The resolution passed in Nuevo Leon asks the Mexican attorney general to apply with full rigor articles of the constitution that allow for the censorship of broadcasts that "are contrary to good customs, whether through malicious expression, provocative words or images, phrases and scenes with double meanings, or apologies for violence or crime" or "contrary to the security of the state or public order."

In the 1950s, unregulated Mexican radio superstations pumped Wolfman Jack and the throbbing beat of rock 'n' roll deep into the American heartland. Now, as US stations from Los Angeles to Houston continue to play narcocorridos while Mexican stations turn silent, another subversive cultural message is heading in the opposite direction, going back home.

15. Newsbrief: School Districts Drug Testing for Tobacco, Too

A small number of school districts around the country have expanded anti-drug urine testing programs to include tobacco, the use of which is unlawful for most high school students. According to the Associated Press, about a dozen districts in the Birmingham, AL, area test for tobacco, along with alcohol and several illegal drugs, including marijuana. The AP report also cited the Blackford County, IN, school district as having such a policy in place and noted that the Columbia County, FL, school district is considering one this week.

School districts around the country are revisiting the issue of drug testing after the Supreme Court ruled in June that random drug screening of students involved in extracurricular activities was constitutional. A 1995 Supreme Court ruling had okayed the practice for student athletes.

In most cases in the Alabama school districts, students who test positive for cotinine -- the metabolic byproduct left over after smoking or chewing tobacco -- face the same penalties as those who test positive for illegal drugs: The student's parents are called and the student is typically suspended from sports or other activities and placed on school probation.

Perhaps the addition of tobacco testing will prevent the programs from being a complete waste of time. In Alabama's Hoover High School, authorities conducted 679 drug tests on its athletes and only two came up positive for illicit drugs. Twelve came up positive for tobacco.

16. Newsbrief: Leaders of Former Soviet Republics Meet to Fight Drugs and Terror, Drink Wine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of 10 other former Soviet republics met in Moldova this week to fight terror and drugs and drink Moldovan wine. Just last week, Putin was busy announcing the creation of a Russian DEA; this week he was working as first among equals at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in an effort to improve coordination of joint crime-fighting, including efforts against "terrorism" and the illegal drug trade.

The leaders met informally Sunday night, with a few hours of formal sessions Monday morning. Then leaders adjourned to the Cricova wine cellars near Chisinau to continue their discussions, the Associated Press reported. Putin reportedly pushed for a joint anti-terrorism center in Central Asia.

17. Newsbrief: Canadian Researchers Seek Approval for Heroin Maintenance Study

Researchers are this week sending a proposal to the Canadian Health Ministry seeking approval to study the use of heroin instead of the substitute drug methadone in addiction treatment programs. Vancouver physician Martin Schechter of the University of British Columbia announced the proposal last weekend at the first International Conference on Inner City Health in Toronto. Addiction maintenance therapy with methadone had proven "highly effective," he said, adding that studies of heroin maintenance had been carried out in Europe, but not so far in North America.

The conference, which ran from October 3 to 6, attracted some 300 participants from around the world, according to a press release from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, the event's host institution. Medical researchers, sociologists, public health experts, academics, government representatives and front-line health and shelter workers were among those in attendance. Conference organizers also announced the formation of the International Society for Urban Health, which will organize next year's conference, set for October in New York City.

18. 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.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

20. 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.

21. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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, noon-9:00pm, Dayton, OH, Ohio Cannabis Society rally and march, protesting the killing of Clayton Helriggle. Rally at noon at Dave Hall Plaza, Main St. & E. Fifth St., march to Montgomery Courthouse at 4:00pm, benefit party at 6:00pm. For info call (216) 521-9333, visit or e-mail [email protected].

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 29, 5:00-7:30pm, Philadelphia, PA, Journey for Justice forum at Temple University Beasley School of Law, featuring speakers from The November Coalition, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Tri-State Drug Policy Forum and Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey Drug Policy Project. Sponsored by Temple University National Lawyers Guild and Tri-State Drug Policy Forum, at 1719 N. Broad St., call (215) 204-7861 for directions or parking info and contact (215) 633-9812 or [email protected] for event information.

October 30, noon, Philadelphia, PA, Journey for Justice vigil and march. Meet at the federal courthouse at 6th & Market, march to the Federal Detention Center 700 Arch St. Contact Diane Fornbacher at (215) 633-9812 or [email protected] for information.

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.

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.

October 30, Princeton, NJ, Journey for Justice forum at Princeton University. Contact Roseanne Scotti at (609) 396-8613 or 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 20-24, Walnut Creek, CA, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At Dean Lesher Center for the Arts, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit 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.

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.

December 5, Seattle, WA, "Race, Class and the War on Drugs: Justice for All?" All day forum by King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project's Task Force on Racial and Class Disparity, cosponsored by the King County Bar Association and the Loren Miller Bar Association. For further information, contact Roger Goodman at [email protected].

December 8-10, Nashville, TN, Conference of Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy. Registration $50, visit or call (615) 327-9775 or for further information.

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.

November 5-8, 2003, East Rutherford, NJ, biennial conference of Drug Policy Alliance. At the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center, 2 Meadowlands Plaza, visit for further information.

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