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

Issue #266, 12/6/02

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. DRCNet Needs Your Help!
  2. Editorial: Crimes and Minor Accidents
  3. MPP Files Complaints Charging Drug Czar Violated Election Laws
  4. Wisconsin Rave Rebellion: Racine in the Hot Seat as Hundreds Demand Trial on Bogus Bust at Electronic Music Benefit Concert
  5. Bye, Bye, Asa: DEA Chief to Leave for Homeland Security Gig, Will Be Replaced by Career Narcocrat
  6. The Lone Horseman: Texas Ex-Cop Hits the Trail for Marijuana Legalization
  7. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story
  8. Newsbrief: Radical Party Anti-Prohibitionist Wins European of the Year in European Voice Magazine Online Vote
  9. Newsbrief: Study Says Terminal Patients Don't Get Adequate Pain Treatment
  10. Newsbrief: New Jersey Weedman Still Jailed for Thought Crime
  11. Newsbrief: Study Says Few Medical Marijuana Users, Little Impact on Law Enforcement -- Feds, Some Cops Disagree
  12. Newsbrief: Study Says "Gateway Theory" is Bunk
  13. Newsbrief: US Accuses North Korea of Drug Trafficking
  14. Newsbrief: Illinois Prosecutors Use Ecstasy Law to Charge Partiers With Murder
  15. Newsbrief: Canadian House Panel Will Call for Cannabis Decriminalization, Newspaper Says
  16. Newsbrief: Swiss Marijuana Potency Becomes an Issue
  17. Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Set to Increase Ecstasy Dealing Penalties
  18. Anniversary of Alcohol Prohibition
  19. Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum
  20. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. DRCNet Needs Your Help!

DRCNet urgently needs your help to get through the end of the year! Please help us keep publishing the Week Online, waging the HEA campaign, organizing the Latin American anti-prohibition conference, and more. Small donations or large ones will make a difference -- we really need as many of you as possible to pitch in! Visit to donate by credit card, PayPal, or print out a donation form to send in by mail -- or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Donations of $30 or more qualify for your choice of free gift(s) -- visit for details.

Thank you for your support and for being a part of the movement!

2. Editorial: Crimes and Minor Accidents

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 12/6/02

Two legal matters in recent weeks bring into focus a gaping double standard in the conduct of drug warriors. On the one hand, a drug czar is sued by advocates for "crimes against the taxpayers" (next story), illegally using taxpayer dollars to campaign against a ballot initiative. On the other, a good doctor who spent six months in jail for a crime that never happened is exonerated, the prosecutors and biased witnesses against him soundly repudiated by a thoughtful jury -- but still goes to prison for a minor technical violation that any doctor could have made by mistake and many have and do.

US drug czar John Walters toured the country, on the public dime, to campaign against drug reform initiatives such as Nevada's Question 9 and Ohio's Issue One and Arizona's Prop. 203, and to network and strategize with opponents of the initiatives -- violations of the Hatch Act, which forbids the use of government time or money for lobbying or electioneering. This week the Marijuana Policy Project announced a forthcoming lawsuit seeking to have Walters removed from office for those violations.

Dr. Robert Weitzel, a physician who provided quality and compassionate care for dying elderly patients, was acquitted by a jury who only needed 90 minutes to confirm their strong impressions from the trial. "There was no question in any of the people's minds that he was not guilty," juror Paul Robert Wigren told the Deseret News. An evident lack of evidence had left Wigren and others wondering throughout the trial, "Why are we here?" Juror Reid Alan Robinson told the News that the state's experts, while credible, "seemed to be emotionally invested in a decision against Dr. Weitzel" and were "generally lacking in the academic, professional and publishing credentials that specifically applied to this case." Defense witnesses, on the other hand, were "experts who had conducted studies and written scholarly articles and books about treating the elderly, pain management and end-of-life care," Robinson said.

Weitzel, a victim of the drug war, will never be compensated for the financial ruin, loss of freedom and damaged reputation he suffered in his attempted lynching at the hands of corrupt prosecutors. Adding injury to injury, he will be soon be incarcerated again, for misplacing a trivial amount of morphine and not filling out the proper paperwork to document it.

Walters, a chief victimizer in the drug war, will never go to jail for his crimes, though those crimes may have influenced policies affecting tens of millions of Americans. In the meantime, Walters is free to go his merry way and even continue to lead national drug policy promoting criminal punishment of others.

Weitzel intends on release to seek employment in prison psychiatry and prison hospice care. His work will help relieve some of the suffering caused by policies promulgated by Walters and his ilk.

But there is only so much that can be done in the face of the drug war, and more good pain doctors, like Frank Fisher and Bill Hurwitz, continue to struggle against the mendacity of the drug war devils. So long as the John Walters' of the world continue to run loose and uncontrolled at the reins of government power, doctors, patients and guiltless or harmless Americans of all kinds will live under threat. The drug war double standard must be stopped.

3. MPP Files Complaints Charging Drug Czar Violated Election Laws

In last month's elections, for the first time in recent years more drug reform initiatives lost than won. Why those defeats occurred is the subject of much debate, but there are few who would fail to include the role of an energized and organized opposition spearheaded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy ( and its director, drug czar John Walters. Walters crisscrossed the country in the months leading up to the elections, making stops in states such as Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio to campaign against reform efforts. Now the Marijuana Policy Project ( is fighting back, charging Walters with violating federal and state election laws.

MPP executive director Rob Kampia drew a bead directly on Walters' forehead in a press release preceding a press conference on Thursday, December 5. "During the fall campaign, John Walters declared war on the law and war on the truth," Kampia said. "Today, on behalf of US taxpayers -- including the 5,000 who contributed to our campaign -- we are declaring war on the drug czar for his illegal and dishonest activities. In filing this official complaint, we are calling for the removal of John Walters from office for gross violations of the Hatch Act." The Hatch Act, originally enacted in 1887, bars federal employees from carrying out certain campaign-related activities.

"Walters has committed numerous crimes against the taxpayers," Kampia added. "He used his official authority to affect the outcome of the Question 9 election, as well as other state drug policy initiatives, in plain violation of the Hatch Act. Because none of this activity was properly reported as campaign contributions, he is in equally plain violation of Nevada campaign finance laws. Walters conducted a campaign of lies against Question 9, using the taxpayers' money to spread misinformation."

In Nevada, where MPP and its affiliate, Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement ( were fighting a tough battle to win a groundbreaking marijuana legalization initiative, Walters dropped in twice, once in July and once -- just weeks before the election -- in October. On both occasions, he was in full campaign mode, making stump speeches designed to elicit press coverage and even pressing his case in meetings with major state newspaper editorial boards.

During the latter visit, Walters was in a high dudgeon about the measure. "This is a con, and it's insulting to the voters of the state in which it is presented," he said in one widely reported speech. "We have a momentous decision in this state. We saw the problem that marijuana was massively underestimated in the public mind and if we didn't do anything it would grow," he said. "That's why I came."

"This is the most extreme ballot issue they've done so far," he continued, deriding the measure's backers as "misguided people who have a lot of money and decided to make this state a guinea pig." Referring to a pro-marijuana reform television ad featuring a retired Las Vegas police officer, he told reporters: "You probably know some goofballs in journalism, too."

And while Walters complained mightily about wealthy backers of the initiative, he and his office were not lacking in funds to throw at the campaign. Jet travel isn't cheap, and neither is the anti-marijuana advertising campaign his office directs. Budgeted at $180 million this year, the ad campaign was in full swing throughout the run-up to the election, treating Nevada voters (and everyone else) to messages about marijuana and terrorism, marijuana and gang shootings, and marijuana and accidental shootings. The taxpayers' money was being used to finance an electoral campaign against the Nevada initiative.

By all appearances, Walters was out to defeat Question 9 in Nevada. That is certainly how it looks to the Marijuana Policy Project, which is crying foul. At a Wednesday press conference, MPP announced it will file a formal "complaint of possible prohibited personnel practice" with the federal Office of Special Counsel, charging Walters with violating federal law by using "his official authority and influence for the purpose of... affecting the result of an election" -- namely, the election that included Question 9, MPP's Nevada marijuana initiative.

MPP also used the occasion to publicly release a letter to the Nevada Secretary of State's office charging that Walters violated state campaign finance laws by campaigning against the initiative without properly reporting his activities to the state.

Walters also arguably exceeded his drug czar mandate. According to the ONDCP web site: "The principal purpose of ONDCP is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the Nation's drug control program." Not the state of Nevada's marijuana laws. The web site job description continues: "By law, the Director of ONDCP also evaluates, coordinates, and oversees both the international and domestic anti-drug efforts of executive branch agencies and ensures that such efforts sustain and complement State and local anti-drug activities." Again, there is nothing in that language about trying to shape electoral campaigns about drug policy issues.

But the drug warriors are not known for their observance of proprieties. The complaint by MPP may finally begin to confront the drug war's front man -- and his un-indicted co-conspirators -- with the fear of legal consequences for their misdeeds. Moral suasion sure hasn't worked.

Note: Yesterday's "mini-bulletin" stated that Kampia was to be interviewed on "The O'Reilly Factor" yesterday. As often happens on TV news, the interview was rescheduled, for December 20.

4. Wisconsin Rave Rebellion: Racine in the Hot Seat as Hundreds Demand Trial on Bogus Bust at Electronic Music Benefit Concert

Racine, WI, police must have thought they scored a major coup when they raided what they described as a "rave" organized by a local civic organization early in the morning of November 3. But a month after the raid went down, it is turning into a major embarrassment instead -- one that could end up digging deep into the pockets of Racine taxpayers.

It all began when Racine police infiltrated a benefit for the Uptown Theatre Group. Officers allegedly observed people making drug transactions and arrested three of them. It was their next move that sparked outrage and controversy. They then barred the doors and cited everyone in attendance -- some 445 people, some from as far away as St. Louis and Chicago -- for being present in a "disorderly house," a $968 ticket. That was too much for the Uptown Theatre Group and for most of the ticketed attendees. As they complained loudly and vigorously, the word began to spread in the electronic music community and among civil liberties groups.

By this week, groups including the Wisconsin ACLU, the national ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project and the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund (, an affiliate of the Drug Policy Alliance, had joined forces with local attorneys and angry show-goers to start making life miserable for the city of Racine.

"We've received more than 250 complaints," said Susan Mainzer, spokeswoman for EMDEF, an organization formed to defend the electronic music scene from attacks by misguided prohibitionists. "And with reason. This was really over the line." Mainzer forwarded those complaints to the state and national ACLU, she told DRCNet.

After receiving numerous complaints, the Wisconsin ACLU investigated. "The city of Racine needs to drop those charges and apologize," said the group's lead attorney, Micabil Diaz. He said the same thing in a letter sent last week to Wright. He hasn't yet received a response, he told DRCNet.

Wright, hoping to make the hubbub go away, last week offered to reduce the fines to $100, but that wasn't good enough for the busted music fans. On Monday, as the first batch of ticketed partiers appeared for their first hearings on the charges, legal teams outside the courthouse provided them with information about their legal options and the possible consequences of their choices. At the end of the day Monday, 166 people had appeared for their hearings. Only 19 took the $100 "no contest" plea offer, while a whopping 147 people pled not guilty and demanded jury trials. Almost 300 people have yet to make an appearance, but advocates expect to see a similar percentage demanding their day in court.

"We told them about their options, but the decision to demand a trial was up to them," Diaz told DRCNet. "They refuse to take a plea," he told DRCNet. "This is a matter of principle for them."

As it should be, said local attorney Eric Guenther, who is representing the Uptown Theatre and several of those ticketed that night. "The police conduct was an outrageous violation of First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly and speech," he told DRCNet. "The police are supposed to arrest drug violators, but these people didn't do anything more than attend an electronic music concert. The police claimed there was rampant drug activity, but then why did they only arrest three people on drug charges?"

Mary Hahn of the national ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project concurred. "That was a really egregious First Amendment violation with frightening ramifications," she told DRCNet. "Are they going to ticket everybody at a jazz club if someone is using drugs?" she asked. "Those people were not committing crimes, they were doing nothing wrong."

Racine will pay a price if it attempts to prosecute these cases, said Guenther. "The city is saying it will have to hire a special prosecutor to handle the caseload, and it will have to pay huge overtime costs for police officers to testify in hundreds of trials," he said.

And that's not the only possible price. Although Guenther, who represents the Uptown Theatre, refused to comment on the possibility, press reports this week quoted theatre director Gary Newman as hinting that the group could file a civil suit against the city. He told the Racine Journal Press that the raid and arrests damaged the group's reputation and ability to raise funds for the theatre's renovation, a two-year-old project. "We have been harmed by this," Thompson said. "They (police) decided they did not want this party to happen... the police blunder may end up costing the taxpayers."

A civil suit would typically first seek injunctive relief, said Hahn, but plaintiffs could also seek damages.

And the Racine police still don't get it. "When we see probable cause to make an arrest, we do it," said police spokesman Sgt. Macemon. "The courts may disagree, but I don't think we would do anything different."

Racine taxpayers might have something to say about that when the bills start coming in.

5. Bye, Bye, Asa: DEA Chief to Leave for Homeland Security Gig, Will Be Replaced by Career Narcocrat

DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson will be leaving the never-ending drug war next month to help prosecute the never-ending "war on terror." He has been nominated to be Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security in the mammoth new Homeland Security Department, and appears to be a shoo-in for the job. He is expected to leave the DEA and prepare to take over that position in January 2003. The new department will not begin operations until March.

"I have a wonderful job and I love it, but I am responding to the call of the president," Hutchinson told the Washington Times. "The president is putting together a new team, and I am honored he thought I could bring something to it." The new job will be "an enormous challenge," he added. Hutchinson will be tasked with developing a plan to secure the country's borders, territorial waters, ports and terminals to prevent the entry of "terrorists" and "instruments of terrorism." To do so, he will be given authority over the inspection, immigration and enforcement functions of the Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and other federal agencies.

The Washington Times reported that DEA Deputy Administrator John Bert Brown III, in line to take over as interim DEA head, also has the inside track to permanently replace Hutchinson. According to official biographies, Brown is a career drug warrior. After three years as a Brockport, NY, police officer, he joined the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (the DEA's predecessor agency) in 1972. From 1984 to 1988, Brown served at the DEA Resident Offices in Mexico. He also served as DEA Miami Group Supervisor in the Florida Joint Task Force, Group Supervisor of the Caribbean Enforcement Group and Inspector and Senior Inspector in the DEA Office of Professional Responsibility for the Southeast Office.

In 1995, he was assigned to DEA headquarters serving as the agency's Deciding Official for Disciplinary matters. Two years later, he was named director of the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center, and in 1999, Brown became Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Dallas office. From there, he moved back to Washington as DEA Deputy Administrator. One of Brown's few claims to fame is having served as a consultant for the movie "Traffic," but his career trajectory suggests that he doesn't know the meaning of the phrase, popularized in the movie, "thinking outside the box."

But then, neither did his soon-to-be-departed boss, Asa Hutchinson. Coming to the DEA as a former federal prosecutor and three-term Republican congressman from Arkansas, Hutchinson presided over the DEA's newest wars, against club drugs and methamphetamine, led the cheering section for heightening US military involvement in Colombia, and worked to expand the number of localities qualifying for federal drug war pork under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area designation. Hutchinson also talked up prevention and drug treatment, but given his overweening emphasis on law enforcement and the mindset of the professional drug warrior, Hutchinson's vision of prevention and treatment must be viewed not as a substitute for more arrests, but as a means of extending the totalitarian reach of the drug war to ever larger numbers of the population.

6. The Lone Horseman: Texas Ex-Cop Hits the Trail for Marijuana Legalization

Howard Wooldridge looks the quintessential Texas lawman. Tall, rangy, mustachioed, usually wearing cowboy hat and boots, the 51-year-old former policeman could have walked right out of the pages of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Except for that t-shirt. The one that says, "Cops Say Legalize Pot. Ask Me Why."

Habitues of the drug reform movement's innumerable conferences may be familiar with Wooldridge and his t-shirt, but the rest of the country wasn't getting the message, so Wooldridge saddled up his pinto horse, Misty, and hit the hustings like an old-time circuit-riding preacher. Beginning in Denver on September 16, Wooldridge rode the trail for 11 weeks, traveling down highways in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, wearing his t-shirt and hoping to strike up a conversation or two about the marijuana laws and the war on drugs. It worked, said Wooldridge.

"I got a tremendous response all across the states," he told DRCNet as he rested up in his Fort Worth home for the next leg of his trail-riding campaign. "People would see Misty and me going down the road, and a day or two later we'd make it into their town, and by then those folks were ready to ask me 'Why?' I had a lady in Kansas who heard a cop was coming; she drove eight miles to bring me doughnuts," he laughed. "She wanted to ask me 'why,' too."

Wooldridge was prepared with three arguments, he said. "I told them it was a terrible waste of police time. It causes a reduction in public safety as police go after pot-smokers as opposed to drunk drivers or child molesters," he said, getting into the rap. "Drunk driving is a thousand times more dangerous. Second, legalizing and regulating marijuana will make it harder for our kids to buy. Third, it will eliminate the contact between our kids and the bloodsucking SOB drug dealers with their free samples of other drugs."

He doesn't talk about personal freedom. "Nobody, no soccer mom, gives a shit about personal rights, as we've seen after 9-11," he said. "What they want to know is how my approach is going to decrease the odds of their child becoming a heroin statistic. It isn't about saving money, it isn't about personal freedom -- those don't have any traction with the public -- it's about fear and public safety."

Wooldridge may be the Lone Horseman with the legalization message, but he's not alone, even among the ranks of law enforcement. He is a founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (, a new national organization composed of present and former law enforcement officers who support regulation and control instead of prohibition, for all drugs, not only marijuana. Organized on the model of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, LEAP brings the credibility of front-line drug fighters to the cause of defeating the drug war itself.

And Wooldridge's travels may result in a few new members for the fledgling group. "I had conversations with about 15 cops during the trip, and of those, probably 12 were receptive to my message," he said. "The other three thought I was the scumbag from hell, the Benedict Arnold of the police world."

But he wasn't just talking to local gendarmes and passers-by. He did ten or so print interviews with local papers, he said, as well as garnering a handful of TV and radio pieces. He will be better at it on the next leg of trip, which will take him from Denver to Portland in the spring. "I only had about two weeks to set this trip up," said Wooldridge, "and I didn't really have a media person until Mike Smithson of [the New York state-based group] ReconsiDer [] came on board. He focuses like a laser beam, especially on TV and radio outlets, and with Mike, we really blanketed Tennessee." The next leg will see that kind of focus on the press from day one with Smithson handling all the media, he said.

"I bill myself as a sort of Paul Revere, sounding the alarm that prohibition is a failed and futile approach to drugs," said Wooldridge. It is a message that resonates, he added. "Everyone knows this is a terrible failure. They just need to hear someone saying it out loud."

While Wooldridge is taking a winter respite from his travels, he is by no means taking it easy. Instead, he will relocate to Austin to lobby the Texas legislature to reduce marijuana penalties. He has received funding from former Dallas Cowboy football player Mark Stepnowski, who last month came out of the closet as a pro athlete pot smoker. "I'm going to be a paid lobbyist for easing the marijuana laws," Wooldridge said.

But come good weather, it's back on the trail for Wooldridge and Misty. And for those gentle-hearted readers concerned about the rigors of a 1,400 mile ride for the loyal pinto, Wooldridge had some reassuring words. "When we're on the road, I ride for two miles and walk for eight miles. I treat my horse's back like it was my daughter's virginity," he chuckled. "I want to protect it and keep it intact."

Wooldridge also found some reassurance along the road. "Dozens and dozens of people went out of their way to help Misty and me," he said. "People stopped to give us water, one guy gave Misty a pound of carrots. It was a real psychological boost to see Americans across the country go out of their way to be kind to a stranger."

7. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story

The years-long scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department's Ramparts division, where rogue cops in an anti-gang unit rampaged through the near downtown neighborhood, is not news. What makes Ramparts worth a mention this week is the news that Los Angeles County prosecutors have decided not to file charges in dozens of cases involving officers implicated in the scandal.

Prosecutors rejected 82 cases presented to them by LAPD detectives assigned to the scandal, in which officers stole and resold drug evidence from police lockers, beat suspects, stole drugs from dealers, and even shot and paralyzed one unarmed man, planted a gun, and provided sworn testimony sending their victim to prison for 23 years. He has since been released.

Prosecutors told the Los Angeles Times they decided not to prosecute because the statute of limitations had expired, but mainly because many of them cases either involved testimony by main offenders Rafael Perez and Nino Durden or were directed at them. The two former cops agreed to plea bargains that sent them to federal prison, but also protected them from further prosecution. Perez and Durden, as convicted liars and thieves, were not credible witnesses, said prosecutors.

The Ramparts scandal, one of the most shocking in recent years, resulted in the convictions of six LAPD officers beside Durden and Perez for obstructing justice, although those cases are still being appealed. Another two dozen officers were fired or resigned. More than 100 criminal cases were dropped because prosecutors didn't trust police witnesses, and the city is preparing to spend $100 million on Rampart-related civil rights claims.

Meanwhile, three allegedly unjustified shootings that the LAPD failed to properly investigate remain pending -- awaiting further LAPD investigation. And the findings of a Los Angeles County Grand Jury report on leadership failures within the LAPD were prepared, but never released.

8. Newsbrief: Radical Party Anti-Prohibitionist Wins European of the Year in European Voice Magazine Online Vote

Brussels' Musées des Beaux-Arts was the scene Tuesday night of European Union-watching publication European Voice's ( Europeans of the Year awards, and the Transnational Radical Party's ( Marco Cappato went home with the top honor. Thanks in part to an e-mail campaign by the Italian Radikale, Cappato, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), leading international anti-prohibitionist activist and key partner in the DRCNet-initiated "Out from the Shadows" campaign, won in a landslide, European Voice reported.

Cappato was only weeks ago being chastised by a British magistrate for getting himself arrested for cannabis possession in a protest of the treatment of Manchester cannabis club owner Colin Davies and fellow MEP Chris Davies (no relation), who preceded Cappato in his act of civil disobedience. But Tuesday night he was among the recognized European glitterati.

Other award winners included: US Secretary of State Colin Powell (Non-EU Citizen of the Year), Pope John Paul II (Campaigner of the Year), EU Commission President Romano Prodi (Diplomat of the Year), assassinated Dutch leader Pim Fortuyn (Politician of the Year), and Irish campaigner for Romania's abandoned children and MEP Emma Nicholson (MEP of the Year).

In his remarks, Cappato praised European Voice readers for being open-minded enough to vote for both him and the Pope -- the Radical Party has incurred the wrath of the Vatican by successfully campaigning for the legalization of abortion and divorce in Italy. But Cappato also spoke about his parliamentary report denouncing plans for EU member states to snoop on phone, fax and e-mail communications. "The fight against terrorism should be a strong priority," he said. "But I also think that priority cannot in any way clash with basic and fundamental human rights and freedoms."

9. Newsbrief: Study Says Terminal Patients Don't Get Adequate Pain Treatment

A comprehensive study of end-of-life care released last month and comparing all 50 states and the District of Columbia suggests that the US does only a mediocre job of caring for seriously ill and dying patients. The report issued by Last Acts, a 1,000 organization-strong campaign dedicated to improving end-of-life care, graded the states on eight key elements of end-of-life care and found that most earned Cs, Ds, and even failing grades on most indicators.

The report, "Means to a Better End: A Report on Dying in America Today," found, among other things, that almost half of the 1.6 million people living in nursing homes suffer persistent pain that is unnoticed and inadequately treated. Also, policies in 35 states regarding the use of controlled substances for pain relief "create formidable barriers to good pain management," the authors noted. Furthermore, palliative care -- designed to ease and comfort dying patients -- training is lagging behind the needs of patients and many hospitals lack pain management programs, the report found.

"Dying patients and their families today suffer more than they should," said Judith R. Peres, deputy director of Last Acts and the leader of the report's research team, in a press release. "We still have a long way to go to improve health care and policy for this segment of the American population."

Among the report's recommendations, Last Acts calls for Medicare reform to meet the needs of seriously ill and dying people. It also chided state governments, saying: "In many states, people will suffer needless pain until state lawmakers change the rules that affect doctors' ability to prescribe needed medications."

Visit to view the study, news release, and much, much more online. An interactive special report on Means to a Better End, including research findings, is available at on the web site of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research.

10. Newsbrief: New Jersey Weedman Still Jailed for Thought Crime

Ed Forchion, also known as the New Jersey Weedman, remains behind bars in New Jersey for advocating reform of the state's marijuana laws. Forchion, who received a 10-year prison sentence for marijuana distribution, had done his prison time and was out on parole when New Jersey parole authorities threw him back in jail. His offense? Taping a pair of public service announcements advocating changes in the marijuana laws and talking about them to the local press. The ads were never even aired, but Forchion has been rotting in the Burlington County Jail as a "parole violator" ever since August.

A hearing Wednesday before a three-judge Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) panel could have freed Forchion, but the judges adjourned without reaching a decision or scheduling a new hearing. Attorneys for the ISP parole program presented a laundry list of other alleged parole violations -- none of them crimes -- but it has been clear from the beginning that Forchion's real crime was daring to voice his opinion of the marijuana laws.

Thomas Bartlett, a regional supervisor for the ISP, testified that Forchion agreed not to advocate the use of marijuana as one of the 30 conditions of his entry to the program. But Forchion, acting as his own attorney with assisting counsel present, challenged Bartlett during cross-examination. He had not advocated the use of marijuana, said Forchion, but changes in the drug laws. He asked Bartlett whether convicts have First Amendment rights:

"Do you believe the First Amendment does not apply to convicted felons?" he asked Bartlett.

"I believe you entered a voluntary program and agreed to abide by the conditions of that program," Bartlett said.

"I enrolled in the program, I wish to remain in the program, but the program has treated me in a very unconstitutional manner," Forchion replied, adding that he had never failed a drug test while in the program.

Visit to find out more about the New Jersey Weedman or assist in his defense.

11. Newsbrief: Study Says Few Medical Marijuana Users, Little Impact on Law Enforcement -- Feds, Some Cops Disagree

A report released last week by the US General Accounting Office (GAO), an executive branch agency that acts as an investigative arm of Congress, found that registered medical marijuana users make up a tiny fraction of state populations and that state laws allowing for medical marijuana have had little impact on law enforcement. The study was conducted at the request of arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform's Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, but Souder is unlikely to be smiling at the results.

The GAO looked at four states -- Alaska, California, Hawaii and Oregon -- that have medical marijuana laws on the books. The study found that, on average, only about one-half of one percent of the population in each state were medical marijuana users. (In California, which has no statewide registry, the GAO looked only at four counties. According to California NORML, the state has an estimated 30,000 medical marijuana users, roughly one-tenth of one percent of that state's population.) Most medical marijuana users are males past age 40, and most are using the herb to control pain or muscle spasms, the study found.

Based on figures from Oregon, the only state to keep detailed records on physicians' participation, only a small fraction of doctors are recommending medical marijuana to their patients. In Oregon, some 435 physicians, only 3% of the state's doctors, had recommended marijuana.

When it comes to medical marijuana's impact on law enforcement, the GAO found little evidence that medical marijuana was affecting arrests or prosecutions, primarily because few medical marijuana users ever encounter a policeman to whom they must show a registration card. In the course of the study, GAO interviewed 37 law enforcement officials in the four states.

"Officials representing 21 of the organizations we contacted indicated the medical marijuana laws had had little impact on their law enforcement activities for a variety of reasons, including very few or no encounters involving medical marijuana registry cards or claims of a medical marijuana defense," the report said.

But more than a third of the law enforcement personnel interviewed expressed concerns that the medical marijuana laws could make it more difficult to prosecute some cases or that they would somehow send the wrong message. "For example, state troopers in Alaska said that they believe the law has desensitized the public to the issue of marijuana, reflected in fewer calls to report illegal marijuana activity than they once received," the GAO reported. "Hawaiian officers state that it is their view that Hawaii's law may send the wrong message because people may believe that the drug is safe or legal."

The Bush Justice Department was typically churlish in its response to the study. State medical marijuana laws have caused a "worsening of relations between federal, state and local law enforcement," Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert F. Diegelman wrote in a review of the study included in the GAO report. The laws create "legal loopholes for drug dealers and marijuana cultivators to avoid arrest and prosecution," he said.

Read the report, "Marijuana: Early Experiences with Four States' Laws That Allow Use for Medical Purposes," at online.

12. Newsbrief: Study Says "Gateway Theory" is Bunk

The RAND Corporation's Drug Policy Research Center released a study Monday that casts grave doubt on the validity of the "gateway theory," the intuitive but unproven notion that the use of marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs. The "gateway theory" has guided US drug policy for a half-century and has been used by prohibitionists to justify imposing tough penalties for even the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In recent months, drug czar John Walters and others of his breed have seized on the "gateway theory" to campaign against relaxing marijuana laws in the states.

While the RAND researchers found links between marijuana use and the subsequent use of harder drugs, they determined that the "gateway theory" was bunk -- or in the more diplomatic terms of the study's lead author, Andrew Morral: "We've shown that the marijuana gateway effect is not the best explanation for the link between marijuana use and the use of harder drugs. An alternative, simpler and more compelling explanation accounts for the pattern of drug use you see in this country, without resort to any gateway effects. While the gateway theory has enjoyed popular acceptance, scientists have always had their doubts. Our study shows that these doubts are justified," he said.

"The people who are predisposed to use drugs and have the opportunity to use drugs are more likely than others to use both marijuana and harder drugs," Morral said. "Marijuana typically comes first because it is more available. Once we incorporated these facts into our mathematical model of adolescent drug use, we could explain all of the drug use associations that have been cited as evidence of marijuana's gateway effect.

"If our model is right, it has significant policy implications," Morral said. "For example, it suggests that policies aimed at reducing or eliminating marijuana availability are unlikely to make any dent in the hard drug problem. When enforcement resources that could have been used against heroin and cocaine are instead used against marijuana, this could have the unintended effect of worsening heroin and cocaine use."

Still, ever-cautious RAND was not willing to call for marijuana legalization or decriminalization. "Even without the effects of a marijuana gateway, relaxing marijuana prohibitions could affect the incidence of hard drug use by diminishing the stigma of drug use generally, thereby increasing adolescents' willingness to try hard drugs," Morral said. "Moreover, marijuana itself can be a serious problem for those who become dependent on it."

The study is getting attention from academic drug specialists. "This is a very important study with broad implications for marijuana control policy," said Charles R. Schuster, a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and now director of the Addiction Research Institute at Wayne State University. "I can only hope that it will be read with objectivity and evaluated on its scientific merits, not reflexively rejected because it violates most policy makers' beliefs." Would that it were so.

13. Newsbrief: US Accuses North Korea of Drug Trafficking

The Financial Times reported Wednesday that a US military official in South Korea has accused the government of North Korea of operating a multi-million dollar illicit drug industry. While other US officials have previously hinted at such charges, the comments by the unnamed military official are the most explicit denunciation yet of alleged North Korean drug trafficking.

The Bush administration has identified North Korea as part of its "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran. Washington has also accused North Korea of exporting ballistic missiles and of committing human rights violations at home. In October, North Korea further angered the US when it announced it was developing nuclear weapons to protect itself from an aggressive United States. [Ed: Their words, not ours!]

The US military official told the Financial Times drug trafficking has become a crucial source of foreign currency for the regime in Pyongyang, with diplomats taking on the role of overseas drug dealers. "This is state-controlled drug-trafficking. The military grows the drugs and diplomats sell it overseas," said the US official.

According to the unnamed officer, the Bush administration is convinced North Korea is producing and exporting about $100 million in illicit drugs to countries such as Japan, Russia, China and Taiwan. He also said that North Korea has become the world's third leading producer of opium, behind Afghanistan and Burma, and the world's sixth largest heroin producer. North Korea also manufactures amphetamines for the black market, he added.

With North Korea's industrial economy in collapse and foreign aid cut-offs over the nuclear program, the country will increasingly rely on drugs and arms trafficking to survive, the official charged.

14. Newsbrief: Illinois Prosecutors Use Ecstasy Law to Charge Partiers With Murder

An anti-ecstasy (MDMA) law passed last year to crack down on drug sellers is now being used to lodge drug-induced homicide charges against friends who get high together. Under the law, if someone dies "as a result of" taking illegal drugs, anyone who helps in any way to obtain any amount of those drugs can be so charged. The charge is a Class X felony, with a mandatory minimum six-year sentence and a possible sentence of up to 30 years. Last month, prosecutors in suburban Chicago's Lake County charged three young Wauconda men with drug-induced homicide after their friend died from cocaine and alcohol use at a party in his apartment. The three men all chipped in to buy cocaine, and the dead man, Kenneth Willand, snorted some of his own free will.

Although Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller described the incident as "a casual deal among acquaintances and friends," he vowed to prosecute anyway. "That's enough under the law," he told the suburban Daily Herald. "We're dealing with a recently amended law that deals with some harsh -- some very harsh -- consequences, but the purpose is to deter drug use."

One of the law's cosponsors, state Rep. Suzanne Bassi (R-Palatine), expressed surprise at the prosecution, but didn't criticize it. "The idea was to go after club-drug dealers," she told the Daily Herald. "I hope Waller is looking at the spirit as well as the letter of the law. But maybe we need to really send that message -- even louder -- that these drugs are lethal."

But if Bassi is alright with the prosecution, it isn't sitting so well with defense attorneys and civil libertarians. Jim Reddy, chief of appeals for the Cook County (Chicago) public defender's office, said the law was unconstitutional because the punishment doesn't fit the crime. "It's preposterous," he said. "This is voluntary, taking drugs. If I give you a gun, and you shoot yourself, I didn't kill you," he told the newspaper.

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the prosecution demonstrates that the law was too loosely written. "This is someone who fits the profile of literally millions of people across the country, and is it really the intent of the General Assembly to place all those people in jeopardy of being charged with a Class X felony?" he asked. "This is not what this law was touted to be. If this is the kind of people we intend to prosecute, then the General Assembly should have debated about this." There was no such debate on the expanded drug homicide provisions in the new law.

15. Newsbrief: Canadian House Panel Will Call for Cannabis Decriminalization, Newspaper Says

Citing "sources familiar with the work of the committee," the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal reported November 28 that the special House of Commons committee on the non-medical use of drugs will recommend that marijuana possession should be decriminalized and that people should be allowed to grow marijuana for personal use. A sister panel in the Canadian Senate earlier this year called for the outright legalization of marijuana.

According to the newspaper, the House panel's decriminalization scheme would leave pot possession illegal, but make it punishable only by a fine -- leaving no criminal record.

The supposed recommendation to allow growing may be the committee's way to avoid going the legalization route. "If you're going to decriminalize marijuana, where is a person supposed to get it?" one source told the Telegraph-Journal. The suggestion is that people will grow their own.

According to Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy, the committee report will be released in two stages next week. On Monday, the panel will release the non-marijuana portion of its report, which the Telegraph-Journal said will include support for safe-injection sites and heroin by prescription. On Thursday, the committee will release the marijuana portion of the report. According to Oscapella, the panel is concerned that the marijuana recommendations will overshadow the recommendations on other drugs, thus the hard stuff first.

16. Newsbrief: Swiss Marijuana Potency Becomes an Issue

Reuters reported Monday that opponents of the decriminalization of cannabis in Switzerland are trying to make an issue of Swiss marijuana's potency in an effort to derail the pending move. Last year, the upper house of the Swiss parliament approved decriminalization, and the lower house is scheduled to address the matter early next year.

But a study of cannabis potency done by a Swiss consumer watchdog group found that Swiss pot was much more potent than lawmakers had previously assumed, allowing opponents an attack opening along the lines of drug czar John Walters' "it's not your father's marijuana." According to the study, Swiss marijuana contained up to 28% THC, far more than the 1.5% to 6% reported in 1997.

Some marijuana experts argue that higher potency simply means that users smoke less to achieve the desired high, but Swiss opponents are following the lead of US prohibitionists. "We have to revise our verdict," said Richard Mueller, director of the Swiss Institute for Drug Abuse. "Smoking cannabis isn't as harmless as we thought," he told Sonntags Zeitung.

"I will do everything to prevent this issue from coming through," added parliamentarian Toni Bortoluzzi of the conservative Swiss People's Party. But the People's Party is in the opposition, and the governing coalition remains wedded to decriminalization.

"We have always said it (smoking cannabis) is not harmless," a spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Public Health told Reuters, "but it is no more dangerous than other substances out there." The spokeswoman added that the government emphasized prevention by informing youths of the potential risks of drugs and alcohol. "Especially with youths, I think it makes sense to tell them cannabis is treated the same way as alcohol and tobacco. Then we may have better access to them rather than if we tell them that it's against the law," she said.

Still, it appears that decrim faces a rockier road in the lower chamber than in did last year in the upper chamber. "In the last few months there has been a more restrictive way of looking at it," Rosemarie Dormann, a member of the lower house's social security and health committee, told Sonntags Zeitung.

17. Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Set to Increase Ecstasy Dealing Penalties

Legislation that would increase penalties for dealing ecstasy (MDMA) in Pennsylvania passed the state House on November 27 and awaits only the governor's signature to become law. Senate Bill 1431, sponsored by state Sen. Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), would allow judges to sentence ecstasy sellers to the same terms given heroin sellers. Under the bill, selling more than 50 tablets (or 15 grams) can earn up to five years in prison, selling more than 100 tablets (or 30 grams) garners up to 10 years, and selling more than 1000 tablets (or 300 grams) earns up to 15 years, along with a $250,000 fine.

Corman introduced the anti-ecstasy bill after an ecstasy dealing ring was busted in March and a woman died after taking ecstasy in November 2001. "This community witnessed a senseless death as a result of this drug," said Corman in a press release. "Ecstasy is a deadly substance that is claiming the lives of teens and college students across the country and right here at Penn State. Those seeking to make big money by dealing this drug should know this: When your [sic] caught you fill face a long prison sentence and huge fines."

DRCNet could document a total of two ecstasy-related deaths in Pennsylvania in recent years. The state Department of Health was unable to tell DRCNet how many people had died from ecstasy use in the state, but the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported a total of 27 deaths nationwide from 1994 to 1999. In comparison, more than 100 people died from heroin overdoses in one Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh, alone last year.

18. Anniversary of Alcohol Prohibition

As DRCNet's "mini-bulletin" noted yesterday, December 5th was the 69th anniversary of the repeal of Alcohol Prohibition. As promised, we recommend here a few good links exploring this important topic. Please let us know of anything especially good that we missed. There's much more information out there on the web -- including some (unrealistic) pieces claiming prohibition succeeded -- do a net search and explore!

Mark Thornton of Auburn University on "Alcohol Prohibition was a Failure," policy briefing published by the Cato Institute

"History of Alcohol Prohibition," chapter of the report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972

"The Effect of Alcohol Prohibition on Alcohol Consumption," by Boston University economist Jeffrey Miron

Online petition to stop alcohol prohibition in the Islamic nations

19. Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum

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

Stop H.R. 5607 that would prohibit Salvia Divinorum

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

20. The Reformer's Calendar

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

December 7, 10:00am-3:00pm, New York, NY, Criminal Justice Education Forum, featuring two films, personal testimonies of ex-prisoners and family, and action alert participation. Sponsored by Just Reform, a project of the Catholic Charities Department of Social and Community Development and the JusticeWorks Community. At the Church of St. Joseph of the Holy Family, 405 West 125th Street, corner of Morningside Avenue, refreshments and lunch provided. Contact Tom Dobbins at (212) 371-1000 x2473 or [email protected] for further information.

December 8, 2:00pm, New York, NY, screening of "Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War," 27 minute documentary by Emily & Sarah Kunstler. At Cinema Village Theater, 22 E. 12th Street at University Place, (212) 924-3363, visit for further information.

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.

December 10, 6:00-9:00pm, Washington, DC, "Posadas Sin Fronteras," enactment of journey of Mary and Joseph to advocate human rights on the US-Mexico border. Sponsored by the Border Working Group, at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street, contact Rebecca Phares at (202) 281-1608 or [email protected] for further information.

December 11, 1:45, New York, NY, screening of "Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War," 27 minute documentary by Emily & Sarah Kunstler. At Cinema Village Theater, 22 E. 12th Street at University Place, (212) 924-3363, visit for further information.

January 9-18, Brazil, healing retreat with Silvia Polivoy, Rick Doblin and others. Visit for information, or e-mail [email protected].

January 19, 2003, Winston-Salem, NC, conference on the effects of drug prohibition. At the Winston-Salem Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, Robinhood Rd., contact [email protected] for info.

January 20-30, Brazil, healing retreat with Silvia Polivoy. Visit for information, or e-mail [email protected].

February 11, 2003, Bradford, PA, Eric Sterling speaks on "Origination of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws and What We Can Do Instead." At the University of Pitt at Bradford, organized by Reconsider: Forum on Drug Policy. Visit for information or contact Mike Smithson at (315) 488-3630 or [email protected].

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.

March 12, 2003, Charleston, SC, Dr. Gene Tinelli speaks on "Alternatives to Punishment in the War on Drugs." Part four of a four part series, at the College of Charleston, organized by Reconsider: Forum on Drug Policy. Visit for information or contact Mike Smithson at (315) 488-3630 or [email protected].

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.

June 7-11, 2003, Denver, CO, 23rd National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry. Visit or contact Sr. Carleen Reck at [email protected] 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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