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

Issue #260, 10/25/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Antiprohibitionists Meet at European Parliament in Brussels
  2. Vigilante Drug Bust in Arizona Opens Window into World of Hurt on Mexican Border
  3. Election 2002: Governor's Races of Interest
  4. Smoke Dope to Fight Chemical Warfare Attacks? Israeli Activists Say Check It Out
  5. This Week's Cop Corruption Story: Two Texas Villarreals
  6. Newsbrief: Federal Court Upholds Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients
  7. Newsbrief: Bill to Ban Salvia Divinorum Introduced
  8. Newsbrief: In Ecuador, Plan Colombia Foe Appears Headed for Presidency
  9. Newsbrief: Feds to Prosecute Ayahuasca Case
  10. Newsbrief: Baltimore Killings Bring More of the Same Old Policies
  11. Newsbrief: Richmond, Virginia Drug Sweep Underway
  12. Newsbrief: Massachusetts Reform Advocates Release Decrim Study as Elections Near
  13. Newsbrief: Oklahoma Uses Civil Suits in War on Meth
  14. Newsbrief: U Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Petition Drive
  15. Newsbrief: Ontario Court Authorizes Crackdown on Marijuana Growers
  16. Quote of the Week: William Raspberry
  17. Web Scan: DRCNet in the Media, Dan Forbes on Alternet, VoteHemp, Change the Climate, Journey for Justice, Sydney Morning Herald
  18. Job Opportunity: PreventionWorks, Washington, DC
  19. Errata: Polling on San Francisco Proposition S
  20. Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision
  21. Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision
  22. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Antiprohibitionists Meet at European Parliament in Brussels

Antiprohibitionist drug reformers from both sides of the Atlantic met at European Union headquarters in Brussels the week before last (October 15-16) to compare experiences and plot strategy for an effort to end the global prohibition regime. The gathering was sponsored by Parliamentarians for Antiprohibitionist Action (PAA), a political network spearheaded by Members of the European Parliament Marco Cappato (Italy, Transnational Radical Party) and Chris Davies (England, Liberal Democrat), with the Transnational Radical Party (TRP) and the TRP-sponsored International Antiprohibitionist League (IAL), an organization that was active early in the 1990s and which was newly-reformed for the occasion.

The conference brought together some 65 activists and parliamentarians, with a US delegation including DRCNet's Dave Borden, California NORML's Dale Gieringer, Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Carolyn Lunman of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Prof. Arnold Trebach, newly installed as leader of the IAL. Also attending were two Costa Ricans, including Carlos Herrera, Member of Parliament from Costa Rica, of the party Movimiento Libertario.

"This conference was designed to open and debate and discussion about reforming drug policy in the international institutions," said TRP Euro MP Marco Cappato, referring to the United Nations' anti-drug bureaucracy, as he opened the conference. "We believe it is fundamental to prevent international institutions from becoming merely a neutral forum where international agreements are perceived as something carved in stone and unchangeable, and only national officials have a voice in managing these anti-drug programs. We are asking that these international institutions get involved in the political issues of drugs, how these substances are dealt with," he said. "Our approach is explicitly partisan -- we are looking at ways to reform these international institutions. At the end of these two days, I hope we will have more efficient instruments to carry out our work on each of our own battlefronts." Cappato and fellow participants are looking toward Vienna, where the United Nation's next major drug summit will convene this April.

At a minimum, attendees had the opportunity come away with a heightened understanding of the global drug policy situation. They heard from highly placed drug experts such as Liliana Brykman of the European Commission's Justice and Domestic Affairs Committee, Georges Estievenart, the executive director of the European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lev Timofeev, director of the Center for Research on Extralegal Economic Systems in Moscow, Jan van der Tas, former Netherlands ambassador to Germany, now an activist with the Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation, and many others.

"If the Americans, with their liberal political system, cannot change their drug laws, what can we do in Russia?" asked Timofeev. "In both our countries there is a peculiarity of public opinion and consciousness, a moral repressiveness, when we speak about drugs. How do we deal with the people who are misled, who cannot understand the essence of the problem? We must teach them. We must reach out, educate, use the media," he told the audience.

Attendees also heard number of European MPs and MEPs in attendance, though concurrent retreats by a number of political parties reduced the number of PAA members who could attend. A number of members of governmental establishments were also given the opportunity to present information but also their institutions' party lines.

Among this number were Brykman as well as the Colombian ambassador to Belgium, Roberta Arenas Bonilla. "If we analyze drug prohibition in terms of the results achieved in terms of supply and demand, it is clear it has failed," Bonilla said. "We lack any follow-up to track results, suggest changes, and look for new actions. The reason drug trafficking exists is because it is a highly lucrative business. The profit margin is so high it has encouraged citizens of many rich and poor countries alike to create networks to exploit this business. We have created a huge international network that has created huge damage across the globe," Bonilla noted. "Prohibition has had no impact in stopping drug use."

But while Bonilla advocated an "integrated and comprehensive" approach to drug problems, his was an essentially repressive position. "We need an approach based on dismantling components of this business in an integrated strategy to go after everything related to supply, demand, trafficking, and related crimes," he argued. But Bonilla's was a very lonely position at this conference, as speaker after speaker unraveled the failures of prohibition and called for a new path.

It was something new for the Americans. "I was really honored to be to invited to an event at the European Union," said California NORML's Gieringer, who addressed the conference about medical marijuana in the US. "It was amazing to be in the seat of power, to have use of their facilities, their translators. Everyone there seemed really committed to a major long-term project of revising the UN conventions to legalize drugs. We may not think about the conventions too much in the US, but the Europeans are already bumping up against them. Ask the Dutch."

Gieringer told DRCNet that the return of Arnold Trebach to head the IAL was an especially encouraging sign. "He's not a European, and to me, that indicates a real interest in stepping beyond the European orbit. They're ready to form a worldwide coalition," he said. "That is a task that must be met, and now is the time to begin."

DRCNet executive director David Borden, who also addressed the conference, said the event was successful in bringing together a range of political parties, academics and NGOs to work on a common goal of ending drug prohibition. Borden said he took the opportunity while expressing support for a campaign aiming at the conventions to also urge participants to take care to do so in the context of the larger goal. "The conventions are a major obstacle to societies wanting to move toward legalization," said Borden, "but they are only one obstacle. National politics is still the primary issue in most countries, and strong economic and diplomatic pressure, particularly from the US, feeds into that. And should we be focusing primarily on the conventions when it is virtually certain that Vienna will see no official movement on the issue?"

"We think the conference went very well," said Marco Perduca, executive director of the IAL and president of the TRP's General Council. "We were able for the first time to have people coming from different regions to concentrate on a couple of key topics," he told DRCNet. "We saw many national examples of how prohibition doesn't work, and we found common ground not only at the national level but also at the level of opening debate on the need to reform the UN conventions."

The IAL, the TRP, and their allies come out of the conference with several concrete initiatives underway. Members of Parliamentarians for Antiprohibitionist Action (PAA) have agreed to introduce resolutions in their respective countries calling on their governments to "initiate a process of revision of the UN Conventions on the occasion of the April 2003 Vienna mid-term review conference on UN drugs policies, in order to repeal or amend the 1961 and 1971 Conventions, with the aim of re-classifying substances and providing for other uses of drugs than only for medical and scientific purposes to be legal, and to repeal the 1988 Convention."

Also, said Perduca, IAL president Arnold Trebach will lead a team of experts to produce a counterweight to the UN's annual drug reports. "This will be a counter-report, designed to provide the real data on consumption, production and distribution that the UN tries to hide," he explained.

And the Brussels conference was only the first in what is an as yet undetermined number of international antiprohibitionist conferences to follow, starting with DRCNet's "Out of the Shadows: Ending Prohibition in the 21st Century" conference set for Mérida, Mexico in February. Mexico will chair the ministerial meetings for the next annual UN anti-drug conference in Vienna in April.

"Brussels was a good organizing step, but a lot more work remains to be done," said Borden. "Mérida is next on the agenda. DRCNet is organizing that conference with help from Narco News, the Mexican newspaper Por Esto!, and the major university in Mérida," he explained. "We will be flying in advocates from throughout Latin America, and we hope they will go on to set the issue on fire in the region."

And more global coalition building is coming after that, said Borden. "There will be a series of 'Out from the Shadows' conferences, including Europe, Canada, the US, and maybe Australia or New Zealand -- not conferences for their own sake, but as focal points for building a global "coalition of coalitions" opposing drug prohibition, and to show the world how isolated the US has become on this issue from its partners in the free world, having much more in common with the dictatorships and pseudo-democracies in the un-free."

Not all was high seriousness at the Brussels conference. Comic relief came courtesy of a coalition of nine anti-drug organizations, most of them Swedish, who distributed a letter to all MEPs accusing the Radicals of "pushing drugs" in the European Union headquarters and arguing that the EU shouldn't be used to undermine international agreements. "That's just silly," said Borden. "This is the democratic process at work." Other flyers condemning the conference included one from a purported organization of ex-addicts with no provided contact information, and a ministry.

Portuguese MP Paulo Casaca, however, was not assumed. Casaca gave an impassioned speech in which he decried the totalitarian mindset of the letter's authors and praised the conference's organizers for taking on the issue.

Three Swedish prohibitionists actually attended and observed the conference, including a former MEP with the Green Party. (Sweden's Greens are an exception in the European Green movement in their support for prohibition.) It is now known whether they were involved in the letter. Also attending from Sweden, however, was Erik Lakomaa, an economist with Frihetsfronten, a libertarian free-market think tank that supports legalization. Swedish media also showed up, interviewing both Lakomaa and the Swedish prohibitionists.

To link directly to video footage, visit: Visit and scroll to the bottom left of the page for links to the agenda, video footage in three languages and photographs.

To link directly to video footage, visit:

To link directly to photographs, visit:

2. Vigilante Drug Bust in Arizona Opens Window into World of Hurt on Mexican Border

Armed vigilantes who say they are only protecting property rights and the American way, but whom some border watchers describe as racist thugs, made the news last week when they reportedly seized 280 pounds of marijuana from Mexican drug runners in the desert night. The group, Ranch Rescue ( is one of a number of similar groups that have sprung up in recent years along the US-Mexican border to undertake armed patrols against undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers, but which admit detaining and sometimes brutalizing thousand of Mexicans they encounter on the frontier.

On the night of October 15, according to Ranch Rescue members quoted in the Arizona Daily Star, members of the group on a surveillance mission on the San Antonio ranch south of Tucson twice encountered groups of smugglers. The Mexicans, confronted by the camouflage-clad, semi-automatic rifle-toting vigilantes, dropped their loads and fled back across the border, Ranch Rescue spokesman Jack Foote said.

The group turned in the seized pot late the next afternoon, but only after first alerting the media, said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. "For some reason, they were able to contact the media, but not us," he told DRCNet. "Clearly they wanted this to make them look good in the press."

That's understandable. Ranch Rescue and associated groups such as the American Border Patrol (not to be confused with the official US Border Patrol) haven't won a lot of friends on the heavily Hispanic border. The groups are frankly anti-immigrant and tinged with racist sentiment, referring to incoming Mexican workers as "hordes of predatory criminals that pour across our private property every day," as Ranch Rescue put it on its web site.

The cops would rather see them go away. "Ranch Rescue is a vigilante group, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety does not support vigilantism," a DPS spokesman told DRCNet. "We believe that the Border Patrol and local law enforcement are quite capable of enforcing our laws," he said. "When people take the law into their own hands, 99% of the time bad consequences happen. We don't want to see anyone get shot, we don't want to see confrontations, and we don't want to see these people having to go on trial for shooting someone."

[Editor: It's important to remember that these particular laws are unenforceable, by law enforcement, vigilantes or anyone else.]

Ranch Rescue did not return calls to DRCNet.

Sheriff Estrada agreed with DPS. "We do not want these people here, especially along the border," he told DRCNet. "It's a very dangerous game. These people from outside the area come in looking for confrontations along the border, but there is real potential for an explosion. The smuggling organizations, the cartels that are moving people and drugs across the border understand the risk of law enforcement, but I fear what could happen if they run into armed civilians."

That could be just what the vigilantes want. A shootout or two between armed vigilantes and Mexican traffickers would strengthen the nativist campaign to bring the US military to the border. That campaign, led by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and cheered on by a chorus of conservative commentators, is prominently featured on Ranch Rescue and similar web sites. In May 1997, a young Mexican-American named Esequiel Hernandez was shot and killed by a squad of US Marines on anti-drug patrol while he was herding sheep. The American Border Patrol, based in nearby Sierra Vista, also calls for the deportation of all undocumented workers.

It could also divert attention from the murders of at least 10 Mexicans in Arizona. On Tuesday, the Daily Star reported that police were investigating whether the self-appointed border guardians murdered two Mexican immigrants in the desert last week. A survivor of that incident told police that a dozen immigrants were attacked by men wearing combat fatigues and firing automatic rifles. Authorities found two bullet-riddled bodies. The whereabouts of the other nine immigrants are unknown.

While Pima County officials suggested the Mexicans could have been killed by coyotes (guides helping others cross the border), immigrant advocates scoffed at the notion that coyotes, who usually blend in with their charges so as to avoid detection, were responsible for the killings. "We have never seen coyotes or smugglers dressed in camouflage," said Isabel Garcia, Pima County public defender and a leading member of the Coalicion por los Derechos Humanos (Coalition for Human Rights). "We can't yet blame vigilantes for these killings, but this is very frightening," she told DRCNet. "We've asked the federal government to intervene. Nowhere else in the country would armed civilian vigilantes be permitted, not even in Washington, DC, where they've been hunting down a mass murderer. These killings crystallize the increasingly hostile and violent atmosphere created by failed US border policies," she said.

As if those killings weren't enough, authorities to the north in Maricopa County (Phoenix) are investigating the murders of eight more Mexicans whose bound, gagged and bullet-riddled bodies have been found in the desert since June. While investigators suggested that smugglers or coyotes could be to blame, they also conceded that it could be the work of vigilantes or hate groups, the Daily Star reported.

"If this had been going on in the Deep South, if someone was attacking blacks like this, something would have been done about it," said Maria Jimenez of the American Friends Service Committee US-Mexico Border Program, a human rights advocacy organization. "We sent a delegation to the Department of Justice, we asked them to intervene, but nothing has happened," she told DRCNet.

"We have a huge problem here in Arizona," said Garcia. "Area rancher Roger Barnett has been the main culprit. He admits detaining thousands of people at gunpoint, and the authorities have done nothing. Now we have the racist American Border Patrol coming in from California and these Ranch Rescue people from Texas. But the fundamental problem is the failed US policy of funneling people into this desert area," she said. "That is causing the kind of division that leads to this chaos and violence."

Barnett told the Daily Star on Tuesday that he and his brother, Donald, were allied with the American Border Patrol and they "had detained at least 8,000 illegal immigrants over the past four and a half years and turned them over to the United States Border Patrol. He said that the migrants, who are made to sit on the ground, sometimes 'get mouthy with us' and that he was forced to become physically aggressive to control them. 'If you go out there and you're not armed, you're a fool," said Barnett, who carries a 9-millimeter pistol. "Who's going to protect you out there?,'" wrote the Daily Star.

Under border control programs such as Operation Gatekeeper, which have made illicit entry into the US more difficult in easier climes, Mexican immigrants have turned to harsh mountain and desert routes to get across. In southern Arizona alone, the Border Patrol reports detaining 333,000 illegal border crossers last year. It also reports that in the year ending September 30, 134 migrants died on their way to the Promised Land, falling victim to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and exposure in the harsh Arizona desert. That's up from 11 in 1998, before operations like Gatekeeper spread across the border, forcing undocumented workers-to-be to take ever more dangerous routes.

"That's only the bodies they've found," said Garcia.

But it's not just people coming across the border -- it's drugs, too, of course, and the effort to suppress the lucrative trade has only made the border more dangerous, said Garcia. But drug policy and immigration policy are linked by more than the border, she added; they are driven by the same myopia "that views that border as the point of origin of US social problems. The solution is a change in US policy to demilitarize the border, stop Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Safeguard and all the rest. Recognize the reality that we need these workers," said Garcia. "And we have to end this failed war on drugs. They have 85% of Border Patrol enforcement dollars going to the Mexican border, so now these migrants are 'drug smugglers.' Of course, these days they're also 'terrorists,'" she said.

Garcia implicitly pointed out another parallel between the drug war and immigration policy. "It's easy to say the migrants are criminals, they're violating the law. Well, they're not like the Enron executives, who get to write the laws, are they?" she asked. "If there are 11 million people violating the law, that tells you something about the law, doesn't it?"

Thirty years of ever-increasing law enforcement hasn't worked for immigration or drug control, said Garcia. "What we are doing isn't working," she said. "Instead it has created a human rights crisis on the border. It's time for America to wake up."

Meanwhile, the flows of substances and people made illegal continue, the casualties mount, and the vigilantes plan further actions. And they're attracting some fine company. Last year it was the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke. Last week on the San Antonio Ranch, it was freelance mercenary Rob Krott and his "tactical team" of ex-military buddies." Krott, chief foreign correspondent for Soldier of Fortune magazine, told the Daily Star he was looking for adventure. Oh, and to protect property rights. Anyone up for a little Meskin huntin'?

3. Election 2002: Governor's Races of Interest

Last week, DRCNet reviewed drug reform initiatives on the state or local ballot in various locales across the country. This week, we take a look at some gubernatorial races in which drug policy is playing a role. In an election cycle dominated by war and rumors of war and with an economy that is shedding thousands of jobs each week, drug policy has not, for the most part, played a large role in this fall's campaigns -- with a few notable exceptions. But insurgent third party and independent gubernatorial candidates, and at least one Democrat have tried to put the drug war on trial in races across the country. This week, DRCNet looks at the races in New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Next week, we will look at selected state and local races.


New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws and medical marijuana have become issues as the governor's race heads into its final weeks. According to recent polling, incumbent Republican Gov. George Pataki has 41% of the vote, Democratic challenger Carl McCall has 30%, and wealthy businessman and Independence Party candidate Tom Golisano has 20%, although Golisano may be surging. Also in the race, and getting some much needed attention from televised candidate debates are Marijuana Reform Party (MRP) candidate Tom Leighton ( and Libertarian Party candidate Scott Jeffrey (

For the major party candidates and Golisano, who has thrown $40 million of his Paychex fortune into his campaign, the goal is winning the election. For the Libertarians and the MRP, the goal is 50,000 votes -- enough to win the parties an automatic ballot line for the next four years.

Pataki and the Democratic-dominated New York Assembly have been sparring for the past two years over competing half-measures that would tweak the Rockefeller laws. Pataki initiated the campaign battle over the Rockefeller laws by quietly seeking early this month to cut a deal with Assembly Democrats. But the Democrats, who have long struggled with the governor over the scope of any reforms and over the key issue of judicial discretion, weren't buying. Pataki's new proposal, which would allow more people serving time on drug charges to ask for resentencing, still had significant flaws, such as a provision that would make people arrested within 1,000 feet of a school or 100 feet of a park ineligible for treatment. That would disqualify most people arrested in New York City. But the Democrats' reluctance to accept the Pataki proposal was also rooted in partisan politics. "The Democrats have no incentive to give the Republican governor a victory on easing the drug laws," the New York Times noted.

Democrat McCall has criticized the Rockefeller laws and Pataki's proposed reforms, but Golisano did him one better last week by taking to the airwaves to call for outright repeal of the Rockefeller laws. The Golisano campaign issued a detailed position paper on the issue, calling for treatment over prison for nonviolent first-time offenders, complete retroactivity for persons previously sentenced under the Rockefeller laws, and substantial reductions in current sentencing guidelines. The Golisano plan would also restore discretion in sentencing to judges (

While Golisano's political aim with the repeal proposal is to strengthen his support among New York City voters by peeling off Hispanic voters who may have favored Pataki and black voters inclined to vote for McCall, the first black man to run for governor in New York, his move has made Rockefeller law reform an issue in a campaign that had, for the most part, ignored the topic. Black and Hispanic votes for Golisano in New York City should provide a good indicator of support for drug law reform, since Golisano otherwise portrays himself as "the most conservative candidate in the race."

Also last week, Golisano endorsed medical marijuana, provoking Democrat McCall to say he, too, would activate a long-blocked state medical marijuana program. When asked by the New York Times what his position was, Gov. Pataki, who in the past had flatly opposed medical marijuana, first declined to give an opinion. When pressed, however, he told the Times that his medical professionals "concluded that it is not justified at this time, that there are alternatives, and I support that conclusion."

Golisano's medical marijuana stand was a bit much for Marijuana Reform Party candidate Tom Leighton, who accused him of "political opportunism" in a press release last week. "Golisano is exploiting the suffering of seriously ill patients for his own political gain," said Leighton. "The voters should not be fooled by 'me too' medical marijuana advocates."

Leighton's irritation is understandable; coming off a well-received performance in the first candidates' debate on October 13, he is not about to let Golisano run with an issue that he has been pushing for years. That debate gave wide exposure to Leighton, and to Libertarian candidate Jeffrey. And while the New York Times referred to Leighton as an "obscure candidate," it also printed his name in each of its hundreds of thousands of copies.

Leighton made use of his limited time to appeal to upstate farmers with a pledge to support industrial hemp and to financial conservatives by arguing that legalizing marijuana could bring more money into the state's tax coffers. Leighton said pot smokers would not mind being taxed if the drug were legalized. That provoked Libertarian Jeffrey to retort: "Well, I am a pot smoker who does not want to pay more taxes."

Some New York drug reformers were delighted with Golisano's stands, however, including Anthony Papa, an artist and former Rockefeller prisoner who was granted clemency by Gov. Pataki and the state Parole Board in 1997. Papa had supported Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic Primary because his proposed Rockefeller reformers were superior to that of his opponent, state Comptroller H. Carl McCall. Now, however, Papa is supporting Golisano, and he appears in a campaign ad being run by the Golisano campaign (

Even though a Pataki victory appears assured, Golisano's New York City vote and the ability of the Marijuana Reform Party and the Libertarians to garner the 50,000 votes they seek will be indicators of the strength of the drug reform message in New York.


In no state governor's race is drug reform more tied with partisan politics than Ohio. Republican Gov. Robert Taft and his wife, Hope, have led a major, possibly illegal, effort to block the state's "treatment not jail" initiative, Issue One, from passing. As Dan Forbes reported, they have used state resources to try to defeat a measure they oppose, they have brought in fellow drug warriors from states such as Michigan and Florida, and they have connived with federal anti-drug bureaucrats

Those moves provided an opening for underdog Democratic challenger Tim Hagan, a former Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) commissioner making his first bid for statewide office. In mid-September, Hagan, who has consistently trailed Taft in pre-election polls, announced he would support Issue One. "We all know someone who has struggled with addiction," Hagan said on September 16. "These are individuals who, if given the help they need, can once again become productive citizens. We owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves to give them that opportunity."

Directly addressing arguments against Issue One, Hagan added while he believes drug reform would best be handled by legislation -- not in the Ohio constitution as Issue One requires -- the Republican-led General Assembly had failed even to hold a hearing on a "treatment not jail" bill sponsored by his brother, state Sen. Robert Hagan. That bill would require treatment for most nonviolent drug offenders. Similarly, while Issue One opponents succeeded in obtaining ballot language that emphasizes the $247 million cost of the initiative, Hagan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the measure would save money in the long run because treatment is far less expensive than jail. It would also reduce crime by targeting chronic drug addicts, he said.

Hagan could benefit from endorsing Issue One, according to some Ohio observers. "I could imagine a scenario where Issue 1 fails by a small margin and Hagan actually wins because of the Issue 1 TV ads and then he gets other votes because he's the Democratic candidate," University of Akron political scientist John Green told the Toledo Blade last month. "Hagan's support for Issue One could encourage turnout by black voters who believe drug laws "disproportionately hurt the African-American community," Ohio State political scientist Herb Asher told the Blade. That could give Hagan a big boost, he added.

Two weeks ago, Issue One supporters, frustrated with official obstruction and ballot wording that mentioned the $247 million cost but failed to mention savings the reform would generate, began floating trial balloons suggesting that they would junk a planned advertising blitz for the initiative in favor of supporting Hagan's campaign. That ended when Hagan announced he would not accept financial support from initiative supporters. Hagan, who has made a campaign issue of condemning political action committee contributions to campaigns, told the Blade it would be "pretty hypocritical" to accept money from just such a group. "These separate committees are undermining the process. Whatever they do, they're going to do. I don't have any control over it," Hagan said.

But he may also have feared being smeared as taking money from the "billionaire outsiders," who financed Issue One. The "outsider" charge has been leveled repeatedly by initiative opponents, despite the fact that two of the four major financial backers of Issue One have strong Ohio ties. California high-tech engineer Richard Wolfe is from a family that owns the Columbus Dispatch, while Peter Lewis heads Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance.

If Issue One has been the primary focus of drug policy in the Ohio campaign, an October 15 debate raised the medical marijuana issue. Hagan supported it, citing his father's death from cancer three years ago, then raised eyebrows by adding that he would not have had a problem sending his nephew "or someone" out to buy marijuana for his father. But Hagan stood by his statement in the face of criticism the following day, telling the Plain Dealer, "If that was my daughter and I could ease her suffering, you bet I would."

Taft, for his part, argued against medical marijuana. The following day, he told the Columbus Dispatch that he had confirmed with his wife, whom he considers a drug expert, that marijuana is an addictive "gateway" drug. Hagan is trailing in every poll, with the most favorable sounding showing him trailing by 7%. Other polls have given Taft an 8%, 11% and an 18% margin. Issue One also appears to be losing, although a poll released Tuesday showed it winning 60% to 38%. But that poll, conducted by the New Jersey-based SurveyUSA, did not mention the $247 million in costs -- language that will figure prominently on the actual ballot. Other polls show the measure losing by 20 points.

Still, Issue One supporters are heartened enough to have committed to a last-minute advertising blitz in support of the measure. "We will hit every major media market in the state," Ohio Campaign for New Drug Policies spokesman Rob Stewart told DRCNet. "We still think we can win." And, if the political scientists are correct, the last minute TV ads could bring Hagan a surprise victory.


For drug reformers, the Wisconsin governor's race is a three-way contest between Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Libertarian Party candidate Ed Thompson, the blue collar brother of former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, now Secretary of Health & Human Services in the Bush administration. Sitting Republican Gov. Scott McCall, who was appointed to replace Tommy Thompson, is facing off against Democratic Attorney General Jim Doyle.

Drug policy has not been much of an issue in a campaign dominated by budget crisis -- except when Ed Thompson brings it up -- but both major party candidates have been doing their best to demonstrate their "tough on crime" bona fides.

Doyle, whose political career has been based on prosecuting criminals, brags on his web site about ending parole and cracking down on drug dealers, while McCallum touts his efforts to keep building new prisons.

"Jim Doyle has cracked down on drug dealers, deploying over $10 million in grants to local communities to fight drugs and penetrate networks of criminals trafficking crack, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine," his web site tells voters. "He has opened new anti-narcotic offices and launched education campaigns to encourage the public to use the drug tip hotline. These efforts have led to the arrest of over 1500 drug dealers in the last twelve years."

McCallum, for his part, uses his web site to brag about limiting inmates' ability to request reconsideration of their sentences and adds that he has "worked hard to ensure that the state's prisons have adequate space to keep criminals locked up." McCallum's drug policy positions are limited to attacking methamphetamine with harsher penalties and supporting "law enforcement's work throughout the state to interdict shipments of illegal drugs and the various regional task force efforts to get these drugs off the street."

Both candidates have admitted to smoking marijuana in college, but if their drug policy positions are any indication, such activity must have taken place in a galaxy far, far away.

Libertarian Ed Thompson ( has made drug policy reform one of his key campaign planks and has hammered away at it at campaign stops across the state. Using the state's budget crunch for leverage, Thompson advocates slashing the prison population and budget through reforming mandatory minimum sentence laws and removing drug possession from the criminal codes. "We can cut the corrections budget in half, get nonviolent people out of prison. We could cut the prison budget in half and it would still be twice as big as it was in 1989," he said at one campaign stop.

"Taxpayers would save billions of dollars and citizens would better be able to seek therapy if nonviolent drug offenses were removed from the criminal justice system and the priority placed on those who do harm to you and your loved ones," says his policy statement.

But while Thompson has received plentiful media coverage, both in Wisconsin and in the national press, and has plowed more than $300,000 into his campaign, his dreams of a Jesse Ventura-style surprise victory appear to be fading. In a tight three-way split, 34% of the voters could make him governor, but a Tuesday poll shows him at 8%. A similar poll three weeks ago, which the Thompson campaign criticized as biased, had him at 6%.

According to this week's survey, the We the People/Wisconsin statewide poll, Democrat Doyle is leading with 46% of the vote to McCallum's 35%, with Thompson in third place trailed by Green Party candidate Jim Young with 3%.

"Our drug war is a dismal failure," said Thompson. But it doesn't look like that issue is grabbing Wisconsin voters this year.

4. Smoke Dope to Fight Chemical Warfare Attacks? Israeli Activists Say Check It Out

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported October 11 that the US Army had registered a patent on a substance that blocks brain damage from nerve gases such as Sarin, Soman, and Tabun. The substance, HU-211, is also known as dexabinol, described by the Israeli Green Leaf Party (, a marijuana reform group based in Tel Aviv, as a "mirror for THC except for psychoactive effect."

Dexabinol, a THC analogue, was developed by Prof. Rafael Meshoulam at the School of Pharmacology in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an Israeli company, Pharmos Ltd., holds an exclusive worldwide license on the substance. (A patent fight with the US Army is now underway.) According to Maariv, in an experiment conducted by the US Army, HU-211 was found to reduce brain damage caused by convulsions brought on by nerve gas exposure. In rats injected five minutes after exposure, damage was reduced by 86%, and even in rats injected 40 minutes after exposure, damage was reduced by 81%.

Upon seeing the Maariv report and interviewing Meshoulam, whom Green Leaf said conceded that smoked marijuana could have similar effects, the group has formally requested that the Israeli Defense Forces and Health Ministry investigate whether the same results could be achieved by smoking marijuana. In a press release last week, the group announced that it had taken initial steps to get research underway in Europe.

The idea is not so far-fetched as it might appear, according to US cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo. "Dexabinol is an analogue of THC. It is not psychoactive, but it is neuroprotective," he told DRCNet. "All of dexabinol's mechanisms are shared with THC; everything that dexabinol does, THC does -- and more. If dexabinol helps reduce brain damage -- not just from nerve gas, but with stroke and head injuries -- there is no reason to believe that THC does not do the same thing. But no one has done the research."

That will change if Green Leaf has its way. Party chairman Boaz Wachtel has received the necessary approvals for European researchers to test the effect of Soman nerve gas on rats exposed to marijuana smoke and the test will begin within "a few weeks," Maariv reported. "Cannabinoids (including marijuana) succeed in protecting from the irreversible damage caused by Soman exposure, thus shielding form the toxic effect without any side effects except for psychoactive ones: a sense of elation and spiritual release for a short time," Wachtel wrote in the research proposal.

Protection from chemical warfare attacks is on the minds of Israeli citizens as they anticipate the repercussions from a possible US attack on Iraq. According to some nightmare scenarios, if Iraq possesses chemical weapons, if it possesses the means to deliver them to Israel, if the US attempts to overthrow the Iraqi government, and if Saddam Hussein feels like the end is near, then Iraq could, in a last spasm of vengeance, send missiles with nerve gas warheads plummeting into Israeli cities.

"It appears that the establishment would prefer people sober and dead rather than high and alive," Wachtel said. "There appears to be a scientific base for the assumption that smoked marijuana can enhance survival, reduce brain damage and prevent nausea and vomiting as a result of nerve gas exposure. We hope to have results from new research before the upcoming war so as to provide Israeli citizens with maximum protection from nerve gas using marijuana."

"Considering that Iraq could well drop bombs or missiles on Israel, doing this research would be prudent," said Russo.

(Visit the National Institutes of Health's Medline at and type in "HU-211" and "Soman" to view the latest research on dexabinol's effect on nerve gas damage.)

5. This Week's Cop Corruption Story: Two Texas Villarreals

[Editor's Note: Since beginning this continuing series last week, DRCNet has received various nominations and encourages readers to send their local favorites to [email protected]. Schenectady and Dallas, your turn will come! But this week we go deep in the heart of Texas.]

Two unrelated Texas cops named Villarreal went down on drug corruption charges this month. On October 15, a South Texas jury in Floresville found former narc Albert J. Villareal guilty of tampering with records, fabricating evidence, and abusing his authority as a member of the 81st Judicial District Drug Task Force. He faces 10 years in prison.

Villarreal had framed at least two innocent men on bogus cocaine charges and possibly as many as a dozen more, according to trial testimony reported in the San Antonio Express-News. His fall from grace began when a confidential informant approached lawyers for a defendant charged by Villarreal with selling cocaine, telling them that the cocaine had actually been purchased from one of Villarreal's cousins. A subsequent investigation led to a grand jury indictment on 28 counts of tampering, obstruction of justice, abuse of authority and official oppression.

"[Villarreal and his informant] made a lot of drug buys, but not like he put in his report," Wilson County Prosecutor Carrie Moy told the jury. "Sometimes the buys were not even made. If they couldn't make a case, they faked it. Who is going to question it? It is a police officer's word against a drug dealer."

Two days later, a federal jury in San Antonio convicted another Texas drug task force cowboy, Xavier Villarreal, of possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Villarreal, a member of the Central South Texas Narcotics Task Force and a Live Oak County sheriff's deputy, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

According to testimony reported by the Express-News, Villarreal was so desperate for money that he pawned his service revolver, then attempted to enlist a local bail bondsman as a cocaine buyer. Unfortunately (and ironically), the bondman was also moonlighting as a snitch for the task force. In his defense, Villarreal attempted to argue that he was investigating the snitch, but FBI tape recordings suggested otherwise.

"I'm an undercover agent," Villarreal complained. "What they convicted me for here, I've done hundreds of times."

6. Newsbrief: Federal Court Upholds Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the state of Michigan's use of mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients in an opinion issued October 18. Michigan welfare officials had attempted to implement welfare drug testing three years ago, but after the Michigan ACLU challenged the plan in court, US District Judge Victoria Roberts issued a temporary injunction blocking it in November 1999.

A three-judge appeals court panel -- all appointed by former President George Bush -- ruled that random drug testing of welfare recipients is a justifiable method of protecting children, the public, and tax dollars from abuse. It further held that the state can deny benefits to anyone who tests positive for illegal drugs.

Michigan politicians and bureaucrats were happy, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. John Engler (R-MI) hailed the ruling, saying "testing and treatment for welfare recipients for drug use is consistent with our goal of helping them reach true self-sufficiency." And both candidates to replace Engler, Democratic Attorney General Jennifer Granholm and Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus said they would implement the program if elected. Granholm had earlier called the program "degrading and humiliating," but has had a change of heart in the heat of the campaign.

The Michigan ACLU was not so pleased. "Our concern is that this can really open up the door to uncontrolled government surveillance in every aspect of our lives," said the group's Mary Moss. "What about students who take out student loans or taxpayers who take deductions?" Moss said the group would appeal. "We see the Fourth Amendment being whittled away," she said.

The court's opinion may be viewed online at:

7. Newsbrief: Bill to Ban Salvia Divinorum Introduced

Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) has quietly introduced a bill in the House that would make the hallucinogenic Mexican herb salvia divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance. HR 5607, "The Hallucinogen Control Act of 2002," would make both the plant and its psychoactive ingredient, Salvia A., banned substances whose use or sale would earn federal prison terms.

With this session of Congress all but ended, the bill will have to be reintroduced next year, but the October 10 move marks the first congressional action against the plant. The DEA includes the herb, a member of the mint family, on its list of "Drugs and Chemicals of Concern," noting that: "There has been a recent interest among young adults and adolescents to re-discover ethnobotanical plants that can induce changes in perception, hallucinations, or other psychologically-induced changes."

Since S. Divinorum, or any of its active ingredients are not specifically listed in the Controlled Substances Act, some online botanical companies and drug promotional sites have advertised Salvia as a legal alternative to other plant hallucinogens like mescaline.

"Salvia is being smoked to induce hallucinations, the diversity of which are described by its users to be similar to those induced by ketamine, mescaline, or psilocybin. It is being widely touted on internet sites aimed at young adults and adolescents eager to experiment with these types of substances. The user population, thus far, seems limited to younger adults and adolescents influenced by the promotion of the drug on internet sites."

The powerful herb has its defenders. After Australia became the first country to ban salvia earlier this year and the first rumblings of official concern were heard in the US, the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics filed comments with DEA arguing that the plant did not meet the criteria for placement in Schedule I. Other self-styled "salvianauts," enthused by the plant's spiritual qualities, such as the Salvia Divinorum Corps (, are also mobilizing to fend off any attempt to schedule salvia.

The DEA "welcomes" comments and additional information at the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, fax to (202) 307-8570 or phone (202) 307-7183.

The complete DEA summary can be read at:

CCLE comments submitted to DEA, actually an authoritative report are available online at:

8. Newsbrief: In Ecuador, Plan Colombia Foe Appears Headed for Presidency

Lucio Gutierrez, an Army colonel cashiered after he joined a popular indigenous rebellion that overthrew the Ecuadorian government and briefly seized power in 2000, won the first round of that country's presidential election on Sunday. Gutierrez won 19.5% of the vote, compared to 17.6% for runner-up and second-round challenger Alvaro Noboa, a banana magnate and the country's wealthiest man. Socialist Leon Roldos came in third with 15.8%. The run-off election is scheduled for November 24.

Gutierrez could best be described as a military populist in the tradition of Brazilian military rebel Luis Prestes in the 1930s, Juan Peron in the 1940s and 1950s, the 1968 Velasco regime in Peru, Panamian leader Omar Torrijos in the 1970s, and Hugo Chavez, the embattled current leader of Venezuela, with whom he is often compared. Gutierrez won the first round with the support of indigenous voters, peasants, labor unions and leftist groupings, running on a platform of nationalism, social justice and ending pervasive political corruption.

In an interview with DRCNet in San Salvador in July 2001, Gutierrez said he opposed Plan Colombia, calling it "a massacre of innocent people" and "environmental terrorism." Nor would it end the drug trade. "A problem like the narcotics trade cannot be solved by military action, but only by addressing the underlying social and economic factors instead," he said (

In a nationally broadcast speech after the election, Gutierrez said he would implement "the political model of Jesus Christ" for the "poor and the barefoot." His victory on Sunday was "a sign that the Ecuadorian people are tired of the same politicians of always," he said. "Who is responsible for the country that we have? We have one of the most corrupt, unjust countries, with the greatest inequalities and greatest migration, in Latin America and the world. The moment has arrived to tell those politicians who do not understand the true concept of democracy. Enough."

Gutierrez faces a tough campaign from the deep-pocketed Noboa, who unveiled his campaign strategy by calling Gutierrez a "communist" on Monday. Still, according to Ecuadorian analysts, Gutierrez is better placed to win supporters from the ranks of the vanquished candidates. He began moving Monday to try to win over the skeptical ranks of private enterprise, saying that he was willing to work with "the honest bankers remaining in Ecuador." (The military/indigenous uprising he led in 2001 overthrew then President Jamil Mahuad, who had received $3 million from a crooked banker.)

With Hugo Chavez in power in Venezuela, a Gutierrez victory in November and a victory for leftist Brazilian presidential candidate "Lula" Da Silva on Sunday would leave rightist Colombian President Uribe and his benefactors in Washington increasingly isolated in the region. Pro-US Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo's government is increasingly unpopular, plagued by scandal and Toledo's inability to actually govern.

9. Newsbrief: Feds to Prosecute Ayahuasca Case

Salvia Divinorum isn't the only Latin American psychedelic catching the attention of the feds these days. In an opinion issued in Atlanta on Wednesday, a federal magistrate cleared the way for a federal prosecution of Alan Thomas Shoemaker on charges of smuggling almost a thousand pounds of Amazonian ayahuasca vines and huambisa leaves into the US in early 2000.

When combined, the two plants make a potent hallucinogenic tea, confusingly also commonly referred to as ayahuasca, which is used in religious rituals by tens of thousands of followers of the syncretic Brazilian religions Santo Daime and the Union of the Vegetable. In fact, it is not the vine but the huambisa leaves that contain the substance that got the feds' eye: DMT. Under federal law, DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Attorneys for Shoemaker had filed a motion arguing that because the Controlled Substances Act did not name both DMT and the plants that contain it (as with THC and marijuana or heroin and opium poppies), the plants were not controlled substances. But US Magistrate Alan Baverman declined to dismiss the indictment against Shoemaker, finding that Congress intended the ban to include "any material" that contains DMT. "When Congress speaks clearly, the court must follow what Congress has stated," Baverman wrote in the opinion obtained by DRCNet.

Last month in New Mexico, ayahuasca users had better luck. In that case, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the federal government from interfering in religious ceremonies involving ayahuasca, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Look for an in-depth article on the politics of ayahuasca in the Week Online next week.

10. Newsbrief: Baltimore Killings Bring More of the Same Old Policies

The horrific murders of a Baltimore couple and their five children, allegedly by drug sellers angered by their attempts to curb the street-corner traffic, have shocked the conscience of Charm City, but have failed to shock city and state officials into trying anything different. Anti-drug crusader Angela Dawson, her husband Carnell, and their five children died in house fire allegedly set by a neighborhood drug dealer on October 15.

While city officials, law enforcement leaders and neighborhood activists traded barbs and called for more, more, more drug war, no one was calling for a new approach in a city where an estimated 10% of the population is strung out on heroin or other opiates.

Instead, Mayor Martin O'Malley announced that the killings had energized government officials to pursue their repressive policies even further. The state of Maryland will provide 150 state troopers to patrol city streets and will hire an additional 75 parole officers, O'Malley said at a Tuesday news conference. The state will also provide additional jail space. These measures come on top of the $2 million the city spent on an anti-drug campaign that began six months ago.

11. Newsbrief: Richmond, Virginia Drug Sweep Underway

Following the lead of cities such as Philadelphia, police in Richmond, VA, have embarked on a massive enforcement effort to shut down inner city drug markets. Police Chief Andre Parker, who assumed the position in August, told an October 16 news conference he was sending "wave after wave" of police officers into poor neighborhoods in an initiative he called "Blue Wave."

Parker said he decided to begin the operation after hearing from community groups tired of being at ground zero in the war on drugs. "What I've heard is their concerns over drug dealing and other criminal activity making their streets dangerous," he said. "We are going to interdict that."

Philadelphia embarked on "Operation Safe Streets" in May (, flooding areas of heavy street dealing with uniformed police, and city officials there are claiming impressive results. Robberies and assaults between May and August fell 20% compared to the previous year, and drug-related homicides declined by more than half, though the number of murders in the city stayed roughly unchanged.

But similar operations in other cities had merely pushed the traffic to other areas, Edward Tully, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs, which represents the heads of the 60 largest police departments in the United States and Canada, told the Philadelphia Inquirer last month. "Open-air drug dealing is a problem in every community in the United States. Philadelphia is not alone," Tully said. "As long as the demand exists, it will be serviced."

12. Newsbrief: Massachusetts Reform Advocates Release Decrim Study as Elections Near

In a recent article, DRCNet incorrectly reported that local marijuana initiatives on the ballot in various Massachusetts locales were the sole handiwork of MassCann, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Alliance/NORML, the group best known for sponsoring the annual Freedom Rally on Boston Commons. The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts has also been deeply involved in the effort, and this week the forum stepped up its public presence by releasing a study that finds that decriminalization of marijuana possession would save the Commonwealth an estimated $24.3 million per year in law enforcement cost -- without seeing a significant increase in marijuana use.

The report, "The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization on the Budgets of Massachusetts Governments, with a Discussion of Decriminalization's Effect on Marijuana Use," was authored by Boston University professor of economics Jeffrey Miron. "Decision makers and the public want to know if decriminalizing possession will increase use," said Miron in a press statement issued Wednesday. "This report indicates there is no reason to expect marijuana use to significantly increase if we decriminalize possession in Massachusetts. What we can expect is to save millions of dollars for the Commonwealth."

On election day, now less than two weeks away, more than 350,000 voters in 19 legislative districts will have the chance to vote on advisory questions directing their elected representatives to vote in favor of marijuana decriminalization. The electoral effort builds on a successful campaign two years ago, where two-thirds of Middlesex County voters supported legislation that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation, subject to a maximum fine and $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties.

Look for a profile of DPFMA in the coming weeks.

13. Newsbrief: Oklahoma Uses Civil Suits in War on Meth

Oklahoma prosecutors are trying a novel legal tactic in their effort to suppress methamphetamine production in the state, which ranks fourth in the nation in meth lab busts. On October 16, Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced that his office had filed a civil lawsuit against six Oklahoma County companies and two individuals who allegedly sold large amounts of pseudophedrine, a key ingredient in meth manufacture.

In a press release, Edmondson's office touted the lawsuit as the first time in the state and probably the nation that authorities had used the civil courts to go after suppliers of precursor drugs. The lawsuit charges four supply houses and two markets with negligence, creating a public nuisance, and conspiring to evade limits on pseudophedrine purchases. It seeks unspecified damages to compensate communities for "costs incurred in cleaning up meth lab sites and punitive damages to punish these defendants and deter others from recklessly selling pseudophedrine." The lawsuit also asks the judge to dissolve the businesses and to permanently enjoin these defendants from ever selling pseudophedrine again.

Under federal law, wholesale distributors must be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to lawfully sell pseudophedrine. Oklahoma has only 35 registered wholesalers and six of them are named in the lawsuit. According to Edmondson, the wholesalers supplied more than 6.9 million tablets during the first seven months of this year.

"Pseudophedrine is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications," said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director Malcom Atwood. This lawsuit concerns so-called 'gray market' pseudophedrine, a name given by law enforcement to those brands not usually used as medicine but which are popular with methamphetamine manufacturers.

Attorney General Edmondson had been criticized the week before for lax meth enforcement by the Republican candidate for the position, Denise Bode. Bode joined Edmondson and Atwood at the press conference last week announcing the lawsuit.

Click here for the full text of the attorney general's press release.

14. Newsbrief: U Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Petition Drive

The University of Missouri chapters of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are leading a petition drive in the college town of Columbia to have everyone busted with less than 35 grams of marijuana sent to municipal instead of state court. Punishment would be limited to small fines and would not result in a criminal record -- thus sparing Columbia residents from the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision, which blocks financial aid to students convicted of any drug offense.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, a city ordinance passed in 1985 allows for marijuana possession to be tried in municipal court, but does not require authorities to do so. That was fine until 1997, when new Police Chief Norm Botsford started sending most possession cases to state court. An uproar ensued, and in 1999, city administrators and law enforcement officials announced a new policy where cases involving five grams or less would go to municipal court.

That wasn't good enough for local attorney and national NORML board member Dan Viets, who circulated a petition that year seeking to have all possession cases tried in municipal court. That way, students could get around the financial aid law, he told the Columbia Daily Tribune. That petition drive faltered, but now the university SSDP and NORML chapters are behind the new drive, initiated by Missouri law student and American Civil Liberties Union chapter head Anthony Johnson. They have until mid-December to gather at least 1,191 signatures to place the measure on the April ballot.

15. Newsbrief: Ontario Court Authorizes Crackdown on Marijuana Growers

Prosecutors in Ontario are vowing to follow the lead of a provincial Court of Appeal ruling last week that upheld a jail sentence for a Stoney Creek man convicted of running a residential grow-op, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record reported. Most cannabis cultivators charged in Ontario in recent years have received conditional sentences (probation), while the longest jail sentence in recent years was 15 months.

In sentencing Khuong Van Nguyen to two years in prison last June for turning his home into a grow-op, Justice Bernd Zabel lashed out at cannabis cultivators. "They have invaded our community with apparent impunity," she said. "They have boldly entered residential areas where our citizens have saved to purchase dream homes for themselves and their families -- only to be confronted with large-scale, high-risk criminal activity on their street and even next door." Now was the time to make the "risk-reward ration" less favorable to growers, she said.

Nguyen's lawyers appealed, arguing that the sentence was too harsh. The Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that jail time was indeed appropriate for grow-op convictions, especially in light of "evidence of the increasing prevalence of this form of offense in the local communities." Even so, the court reduced Nguyen's sentence to time served. Nguyen has done 14 months in jail.

Still, Crown prosecutors are crowing. "The Crown will be using the Court of Appeal decision as a precedent for all future sentencings," said Kitchener drug prosecutor David Rowcliffe.

16. Quote of the Week: William Raspberry

Washington Post columnist William Raspberry, writing in a column that appeared on Tuesday, October 21 in the Washington Post, offered the following commentary on drug policy and the incarceration of baseball star Darryl Strawberry:

"We invoke the public health as the reason we make certain substances illegal, but then we allow our policy to be driven by the illegality rather than by health considerations. If the illegality is the main consideration, then maybe it makes sense that Strawberry is behind bars. And if health is?"

Raspberry drew on a conversation with Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann, as he has in the past.

17. Web Scan: DRCNet in the Media, Dan Forbes on Alternet, VoteHemp, Change the Climate, Journey for Justice, Sydney Morning Herald

The Week Online in the media:

Drug Warriors Crusade Against Reform Initiatives, by Dan Forbes:

VoteHemp Voter Guide online:

Change the Climate Nevada billboards: --- scroll down

Journey for Justice Connecticut photos:

Sydney Morning Herald on needle exchange:

18. Job Opportunity: PreventionWorks, Washington, DC

PreventionWorks, a needle exchange and harm reduction program in the District of Columbia, is hiring a Program Specialist. The Program Specialist will assist the Executive Director and the Deputy Director.

The Program Specialist will provide harm reduction services, materials, information, and counseling to active drug users; manage volunteer resources; develop and present harm reduction and other health education programs; help the Executive Director prepare funding proposals and reports; assist the Executive Director in preparing narrative and statistical reports as required by funders and internal project management; work with the Deputy Director to develop and implement a program outreach plan; maintain a network of community resources, referral arrangements, and agency collaborations; maintain a database of PreventionWorks' services and participants; maintain inventory and oversee supply ordering; Provide HIV pre- and post-test counseling; assist the Deputy Director in all aspects of managing service delivery, including scheduling staff coverage and driving program vehicle; and assist the Executive Director with expansion, development and implementation of services and program protocols.

Applicants should have a knowledge of harm reduction and needle exchange and HIV and hepatitis diseases, transmission, prevention, and treatment; strong interpersonal skills, strong sense of quality service, and ability to engage people; ability to work harmoniously with program participants, staff, volunteers, visitors, board members, and community partners; strong skills in computer-based data-management and word processing; ability to work a flexible schedule; a bachelors degree; and a valid driver's license and ability to drive program vehicle

Send resume and cover letter to:

Paola Barahona, Executive Director, PreventionWorks, 1407 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, fax to (202) 939-7827, e-mail [email protected].

19. Errata: Polling on San Francisco Proposition S

Last week in our local ballot measure report, the Week Online reported about San Francisco's Proposition S that "DRCNet is aware of no polling on the issue." While technically correct -- DRCNet was unaware of any polling on Proposition S -- we have since been made aware that there in fact was a poll, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, carried out by the SF firm David Binder Research and released on September 12. Visit to read the results.

As previously noted, the same local issues report attributed the Massachusetts questions solely to MassCann. In fact the project was a collaboration of MassCann and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. The Reformer's Calendar

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

October 25, 6:00-9:00pm, New York, NY, Journey for Justice, symposium with the Fordham Law Drug Policy Reform Project. At Fordham School of Law, 140 W. 62nd St., Room 430 B&C, refreshments will be served.

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, noon-2:00pm, Laguna Beach, CA, Pre-Election Vigil against the War on Drugs, sponsored by the November Coalition. At Main Beach and Coast Highway, call (509) 684-1550 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

November 2, Davis, CA, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo theatrical performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the Varsity Theater, not recommended for children under 13, call (415) 666-3939 or visit 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 9-10, 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 3, 6:30pm, Tampa, FL, American Cannabis Society event with music, nonprofit presentations and a hemp fashion show. Visit for information or contact (800) 256-7424, [email protected] or [email protected].

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, M�rida, Yucat�n, 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.

April 17-19, 2003, San Francisco, CA, 2003 NORML Conference. Details to follow, visit for information.

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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