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

Issue #271, 1/10/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Come to "Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century," Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, February 12-15, 2003 -- visit (English) or (Español) for info or to register.

Join the HEA campaign to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act -- visit for info and an activist packet.


  1. The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign
  2. The Road to Mérida: Interview with Mario Menéndez, Publisher of !Por Esto!, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
  3. The Road to Mérida: Dr. Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Argentine Solicitor General
  4. Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
  5. Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 12-15 Febrero, Mérida, México
  6. Canada Cannabis Conundrum Continued: Government Will Appeal Ontario Ruling, Prosecutors to Put Possession Cases on Hold
  7. Newsbrief: Eyeing Stiffer Meth Penalties in West Virginia
  8. Newsbrief: First Local Salvia Divinorum Ordinance Proposed
  9. Newsbrief: Huffington SUV-Terrorism Ad Parodies Drug Czar's Drug-Terrorism Campaign
  10. Newsbrief: Corrupt Cops of the Week
  11. Newsbrief: Ontario Court Clears Tokin' Motorist of DWI Charge
  12. Newsbrief: Massachusetts Cops Slow to Act on Racial Profiling Law
  13. Newsbrief: New Jersey Seeks to Delay Ban on Asset Forfeiture, Will Appeal Ruling
  14. Newsbrief: Federal Court Ruling on No-Knock Search Raises Questions About Standard Procedure in Kansas City
  15. Web Scan: Maia Szalavitz in Slate, GAO on Colombia Coca, Globe and Mail on Ontario Marijuana Ruling
  16. DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign

One of the goals of the "Out from the Shadows" conference series is to elevate the voices of anti-prohibitionist advocates throughout the world. Out from the Shadows Mérida will feature a wide array of impressive and knowledgeable leaders from Latin America, and over the next several weeks we will be interviewing them and other Out from the Shadows participants for the Week Online.

We begin with two members of the conference steering committee, Argentine legal scholar and former attorney general Jaime Malamud-Goti, and Mexican newspaper publisher Mario Renato Menéndez Rodrìguez. Keep checking the Week Online and the Out from the Shadows conference web pages -- (English) and (Español) for more interviews between now and the conference and after.

2. The Road to Mérida: Interview with Mario Menéndez, Publisher of !Por Esto!, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico

The Yucatán's newspaper, !Por Esto! (, first got wide notice north of the border when its publisher, Mario Renato Menéndez Rodrìguez, was sued in New York City for libel, along with Al Giordano of Narco News, in the now famous "Drug War on Trial" case. !Por Esto! had since 1996 been publishing exposes linking Banamex bank owner Roberto Hernandez with the cocaine traffic in the Yucatán. Hernandez had twice sued for libel and lost in Mexico. Seeking a friendlier venue in the United States, Hernandez lost again, allowing !Por Esto! and Narco News to secure a victory for the free exercise of journalism everywhere -- even in cyberspace.

But Menéndez has a journalistic career going back four decades, and has published !Por Esto!, now Mexico's third largest daily, since 1991. From Mérida, Menéndez and !Por Esto! have long comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Menéndez is a member of the Out from the Shadows Mérida steering committee, and !Por Esto! is a host of the event.

Week Online: What are you seeking to do with the brand of journalism you practice at !Por Esto!?

Mario Menéndez: I come from a journalistic family. My grandfather founded El Diario de Yucatán, but my cousins threw out all the principles and values for which it stood. It has become a newspaper of Catholic conservative extremism. I left and formed my own newspaper, one that would provide a voice for the voiceless. We are open to all voices -- left, center, right -- as long as they speak the truth. I don't impose any ideology. We are an independent voice, we do not take money from politicians, and we let the people voice their denunciations of wrongdoing in high places. For that we have been persecuted on many occasions, but after 12 years we are stronger than ever.

WOL: You and Al Giordano practice a brand of journalism you call "authentic journalism." What do you mean by that?

Menéndez: Yes, that is what we practice. Authentic journalism is journalism with a commitment to the good of the community. It is journalism with a commitment to freedom and justice and dignity. Authentic journalism seeks to find a community's problems and help fix them through bringing knowledge of the problem and the solution. Authentic journalism is the voice of the people, the voice of the voiceless.

Let me give you an example. Last September, a fierce hurricane struck the Yucatán, but the other papers downplayed it for fear of hurting the tourism business. While the storm raged, our reporters were going to every corner of the state. No other papers did that, no other so-called journalists risked their lives to tell the people what was going on. It was because of our efforts that the international community sent aid. Now we are finding that much of the aid wasn't distributed. Instead, the politicians plan to use it to buy votes in the upcoming elections. We have photos of the stored supplies and we are asking the government what it is hiding from the people. The governor here is going crazy.

WOL: You and Al Giordano are holding a school of authentic journalism in conjunction with the Mérida conference. What is that about?

Menéndez: The object is to teach the lessons we have learned to a new generation of journalists. We want to introduce the journalistic community to journalism. I believe there are some 25 authentic journalists from all over the Americas to whom we have extended scholarships to attend. We will teach them the commitment to the community and we will teach them a commitment to truth, honesty and justice. Those are the important things. They will not be like other reporters, only chasing the news story. The students will learn to listen to the people to understand their problems, and to help the people find solutions.

The students will cover the conference, of course, but there is much more. For example, one of the things we regularly do at !Por Esto! is go out to the communities in the interior and hold public meetings at the town square. We go without police presence because the people are happy to see us. Anyone who has a complaint, a denunciation of wrongdoing, even a personal opinion, can have his say, and we print it in the newspaper. That is authentic journalism. You do not get rich doing this sort of journalism, but to see the smiles on the faces of the people when you arrive makes it worth more than money.

WOL: How did you get involved in this conference?

Menéndez: Well, I know Al Giordano, of course, that's it. But also, on one of my trips to New York, I spoke at Colombia University. They wanted to know about the drug trade in Latin America. Are we fighting drugs? they asked. I told them the DEA is effectively the most powerful cartel in the world. The United States is the great drug consumer, and the DEA only persecutes those whom it doesn't control. We know how the drugs flow north, and we know this war on drugs is a farce. And we know that the government of the US tells the government of Mexico -- all the governments of Latin America -- what to do. The people at Columbia told me I was idealistic, which I know means they think I am a fool. But that's what I believe. Maybe some people listened to me there.

WOL: If the war on drugs is a farce, then should we legalize the trade?

Menéndez: I believe we should legalize and depenalize drug consumption and the drug trade. That is how we reduce the violence and corruption of those huge black market profits; that is how we reduce the robbing and killing by addicts who need to buy their drugs. But legalization must be accompanied by a strong campaign of education and prevention and rehabilitation for addicts. But even when we educate people about the dangers of drug consumption, we violate their rights if we forbid them from using drugs. Just as an alcoholic can drink without fear of persecution, so it should be for drug users.

But this is a $600 billion a year business and too many people profit from things they way they are. That is why I say the war on drugs is a big fake, a simulation to fool the people. The drug war will continue with all the suffering it brings. And you have so many people in prison up there! And now you can't afford to keep them there. Now you have to choose: More schools or more prisons? What a stupid question. Education is the key to human freedom, not more prisons.

WOL: How's the weather in Mérida?

Menéndez: Warm and sunny. Come on down.

3. The Road to Mérida: Dr. Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Argentine Solicitor General

Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Solicitor General of the nation of Argentina (the equivalent of the Attorney General position in the US) drew international notice during the administration of President Raul Alfonsin, when he managed the human rights trials of members of the Argentine junta that kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands of Argentines (and others) during the military dictatorship's "dirty war" against "subversives" in the late 1970s.

Since then, Malamud has authored two books, one on state terrorism in Argentina and one on the drug trade in Bolivia, and pursued a career as a legal scholar and ethicist. A MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, he currently teaches morality, ethics and criminal law at the University of Palermo and is involved with the founding of a new school of law at St. Andrew's University in Scotland. Malamud-Goti is a member of the Out from the Shadows Mérida steering committee.

Week Online: How did you develop an interest in drug policy?

Jaime Malamud-Goti: When I was Solicitor General under Alfonsin, he also appointed me head of the Argentine drug policy apparatus. I guess you could say I was the drug czar. Even though in those days we concentrated more on public health and education, I was also in charge of the country's drug law enforcement. I began to become aware of the issues involved in the question of drug policy. Back then the number of drug addicts in Argentina was relatively low. But since then, even while different administrations have altered the emphasis toward law enforcement and the stopping of contraband, the problem drug use has been rising in Argentina. My training in ethics and political philosophy also drew me to consider alternatives to the war on drugs.

WOL: In your book, "Smoke and Mirrors: The Paradox of the Drug War," you examined the impact of the war on drugs on Bolivia. What did you find?

Malamud-Goti: I had been challenging the drug war from a political philosophical standpoint, and I realized that a philosophical approach was not working. So I looked for something empirical. I found that drug repression in Bolivia has been lethal and destructive, and its results paradoxical. The criminal law is used to repress deviants, but when you have something as high-yielding as coca in Bolivia, the criminal law is powerless to stop it. So the Bolivian and US governments -- the US funds most Bolivian anti-drug activities -- try to repress coca and they create the paradox of a powerful mass movement, a political opposition. Evo Morales [leader of the Chapare coca growers' federation] is a national hero now and a powerful political figure. I don't think that is what the drug war anticipated.

But there are other paradoxes. Hardly anyone in Bolivia believes it is immoral to produce coca, but the government sets out to smash it. Then there is the paradox of success. The Americans measure success in drug repression in terms of arrests and pounds seized. But when the industry faltered here because US pressure deflected drug buyers from Brazil and Colombia and Peru, the price dropped, nobody sold, and activity was low. Arrests and seizures dropped, too, and that upset the Americans. They told Bolivian police they would lose their bonuses if they didn't make better numbers. How irrational! Then there is the paradox of competing anti-drug agencies. You would think the more drug fighters, the more efficient the drug war, right? In Bolivia, while the DEA was supervising the repression of coca, the CIA was profiting off drug laboratories and using the proceeds to hire Argentine and other Latin American military officers to teach the Contras all those lessons they learned in the dirty war.

WOL: So, do you take a position on drug legalization?

Malamud-Goti: Yes, I believe we should legalize and regulate, but probably in stages. First, we should take marijuana out of play, and then we should decriminalize use, and then legalize the traffic. You still want to be able to go after big drug smugglers just as you go after smugglers of other goods, but petty dealing should be legalized, and the sooner the better. Prosecuting people for drugs is a violation of fundamental rights and dignity.

WOL: How did you get involved with Out from the Shadows?

Malamud-Goti: I'm not sure. Former Colombian Attorney General Gustavo de Greiff suggested my name. But I think a conference like this is critical. The war on drugs is so wrong and so destructive that it demands a collective political response. This conference, and others like it, are the beginning of that process. But the drug war is a self-sustaining enterprise, and I fear we have a long road ahead of us. I haven't decided what I will say at the conference. Maybe something derived from my Bolivia research. Maybe something from the perspective of political philosophy. I guess I'll surprise the audience. I may surprise myself.

4. Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico

Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century

an international conference series uniting reform forces in a call for global sanity

Please join activists, academics, politicians, journalists and others in Mérida for the first Latin America-wide summit opposing drug prohibition. Be a part of this historic gathering! Meet, listen, talk, collaborate and show your solidarity with our allies in the growing Latin American drug reform movement.

February 12-15, 2003, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico (Español)

Register by credit card online (, or print out a registration form to submit by mail ( Registration is free to Latin Americans (, and sliding scale is available to others who need it. Scholarships to assist with travel costs may be available. Please make a donation if you can afford to, so we can offer more scholarships to bring more Latin American attendees to the conference! Your registration fee will support scholarships too, so please register today!

Steering Committee: Gustavo de Greiff, former attorney general, Colombia, Chairman Jaime Malamud, former attorney general, Argentina Mario Menéndez, publisher, Por Esto!, Mexico Marco Cappato, Member of European Parliament, Lista Bonino, Italy John Gilmore, United States Conference Staff Director: David Borden, DRCNet, United States Volunteer Media Advisor: Al Giordano,

Details on program to be posted shortly. Visit for hotel and discount travel options. Other dates and locations to be announced for Europe, Canada and the United States. E-mail [email protected] to sign up for an official event notication by mail or e-mail. Visit or to read or subscribe to our weekly online newsletter.

Contact the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) at: P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, voice: (202) 362-0030, fax: (202) 362-0032, [email protected]

5. Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 12-15 Febrero, Mérida, México

Saliendo de las sombras: Terminando con la prohibición de las drogas en el siglo XXI

Una serie de conferencias internacionales que unirá a las fuerzas de reforma en un llamado a la sensatez mundial

Participa en "Saliendo de las sombras", la Primera Cumbre Internacional sobre Legalización, reuniendo Norte, Centro y Sudamérica, y a aliados de todo el mundo.

Del 12 al 15 de febrero de 2003, en la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, México (English)

Por favor, ven a reunirte con activistas, académicos, políticos, periodistas y otros en Mérida, en la primera cumbre latinoamericana contra la prohibición a las drogas. Forma parte de este encuentro histórico. Encuentra, oye, habla, colabora y demuestra tu solidaridad con nuestros aliados en el creciente movimiento para la reforma en América Latina.

Inscríbete en línea usando tu tarjeta de crédito (, o imprime un formulario de inscripción y envíalo por correo ( La inscripción es para latinoamericanos gratuita, y hay precios reducidos para quienes en verdad lo necesiten ( También podríamos tener becas disponibles para costear algunos viajes. Por favor, inscríbete ahora y dinos cuánto costaría tu traslado, trataremos de hallar financiamiento para ti. Por favor, haz una donación si es posible, para que podamos ofrecer más becas y traer a más latinoamericanos a esta conferencia ( Tu pago de inscripción va a financiar igualmente esas becas -- por favor, inscríbete hoy mismo.

Comité organizador: Gustavo de Greiff, ex fiscal general de la nación, Colombia, Presidente Jaime Malamud, ex fiscal general de la nación, Argentina Mario Menéndez, director del diario Por Esto!, México Marco Cappato, miembro del Parlamento Europeo, Lista Bonino, Italia John Gilmore, Estados Unidos Director del equipo de la conferencia: David Borden, DRCNet, Estados Unidos Asesor voluntario en medios: Al Giordano,

En breve anunciaremos aquí detalles sobre el programa, los conferenciantes y las opciones para viajar. Hay información sobre hoteles un poco más abajo. Otras fechas y sedes serán anunciadas para Europa, Canadá y los Estados Unidos. Envía un correo electrónico a [email protected]. Para recibir más noticias sobre las conferencias. Visita nuestra página web y lee/suscríbete a nuestro correo semanal de noticias o

Contacta the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) en: P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, voz: (202) 362-0030, fax: (202) 362-0032, [email protected]

6. Canada Cannabis Conundrum Continued: Government Will Appeal Ontario Ruling, Prosecutors to Put Possession Cases on Hold

The Canadian government announced on January 3 that it will appeal an Ontario court decision overturning Canada's laws against the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The ruling by Justice Douglas Phillips came in the case of an unnamed 16-year-old Windsor youth. Phillips agreed with defense counsel that the Canadian government's failure to adequately deal with an earlier Ontario Court of Appeals ruling effectively invalidated the possession law. In the earlier case, involving medical marijuana patient Terry Parker, Justice Marc Rosenberg ruled that if the government did not craft new legislation within a year allowing for medical use of marijuana, the blanket prohibition on marijuana possession in Canada's drug laws would be nullified. Although Ottawa responded by crafting medical marijuana regulations, Phillips ruled that they fell short of the new legislation demanded by Rosenberg, thus rendering void the nation's current marijuana possession ban.

Government spokesmen painted the rapid decision to appeal as aiming at reducing "uncertainty" about Canada's marijuana policies. But the move only adds to the confusion about what the government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien intends to do about the contentious issue. Last year, a Senate panel called for legalization of marijuana and a House of Commons panel called for its decriminalization. Justice Minister Martin Cauchon told reporters he would introduce decrim legislation by April. But his boss, the prime minister, undercut Cauchon late in December, saying no decision had been made on marijuana policy. This week, a Cauchon spokesman retorted that "nothing had changed." The Canadian Supreme Court last month also reprimanded the government for sending mixed messages on pot. Now, the government is appealing a court decision that could have resolved the issue, and at the same time it is telling prosecutors to hold off on trying simple possession cases.

"It makes you wonder," said Brian McAllister, attorney for the 16-year-old, telling the Calgary Herald the appeal made him suspicious about whether the government would actually move to decriminalize and calling on Ottawa to clarify its position. "It seems like every time there's a court challenge to marijuana laws, there are rumblings out of Parliament about decriminalization and. it's almost as if they're trying to influence the courts," he said.

"We were aware of the uncertainty the decision created, so we thought we'd move as quickly as possible," Canadian Justice Department spokesman Jim Leising told an Ottawa press conference. "We are hoping the appeal will be heard quickly because it is in the public interest that this occurs," he said, adding that he expected a hearing from the Ontario Superior Court within 30 days.

In the meantime, said Leising, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act remains the law of the land and police will continue to arrest people for possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis. "We haven't given any direction to police to not continue to enforce the law," he said. But he did say Crown prosecutors should consent to postpone cases involving less than 30 grams pending the outcome of the appeal. "What we've put on hold is proceedings with trials where people want to rely on the same defense. Hopefully, by prosecutors agreeing to adjournments, nobody will be jeopardized by the uncertainty."

Leising maintained that the government's position is consistent. "There is a continued and consistent view that there needs to be a prohibition against possession of marijuana, he said.

7. Newsbrief: Eyeing Stiffer Meth Penalties in West Virginia

As methamphetamine makes its way east across the continent, so does the impulse to deal with the problem by legislating it out of existence. The latest example of reflexive responses to meth comes from West Virginia, where prosecutors are beating the drum for stiff new penalties against the popular stimulant. On Monday, Wood County Prosecutor Ginny Conley told the Parkersburg Sentinel that she has contacted key lawmakers on behalf of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association to push legislation that would:

  • Make it a felony to assemble or possess chemicals with the intent to manufacture meth.
  • Expand the definition of "drug paraphernalia" to include equipment used to manufacture meth.
  • Increase the penalties for assembling, possessing and manufacturing meth. Under the prosecutors' draft proposal, an as yet unspecified mandatory minimum sentence would be imposed.
  • Make it a felony to "knowingly assemble or possess two or more chemicals in a quantity that may be used to manufacture." This proposed new crime, similar to one thrown out by a Nevada judge last month (, would be punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
  • Make it a felony to keep any building for the purpose of assembling meth precursor chemicals or storing or manufacturing meth. Violators would face five to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
According to Conley, harsh new meth legislation is needed because meth manufacture should be distinguished from less potentially dangerous drug manufacturing operations, such as marijuana grows. "Due to the extreme danger to the community posed by the dangerous fumes and chemicals used and produced by meth labs," meth manufacture needs more severe penalties, Conley said. "Meth trafficking and production are different than other drugs because they are dangerous from start to finish. The reckless practices of the untrained people who manufacture it in clandestine labs result in explosions and fires that can injure or kill not only the people and families involved, but also law enforcement or firemen who respond. Legislation is needed to address the use of meth, an extremely dangerous and addictive drug," Conley said.

Conley did not mention one other possible response to the problem of dangerous meth labs: Eliminate the need for them by making the drug available in a regulated fashion.

8. Newsbrief: First Local Salvia Divinorum Ordinance Proposed

The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics' (CCLE) Divinorum Action Center ( reported January 3 that police in a Missouri town are urging town officials to enact an ordinance barring the sale of the Mexican shrub to persons under the age of 18. Salvia divinorum, a plant native to the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, has mild psychedelic properties and is offered for sale in the US and elsewhere as, among other things, a legal substitute for marijuana. (See and for information on the pharmacology of salvia.)

Salvia is currently not listed in the US schedule of controlled substances, although Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) introduced H.R. 5607 last year. H.R. 5607 would have added salvia and its active principle, Salvinorin A, to Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. That bill died at session's end, but Baca has vowed to reintroduce it in the new Congress. Baca has likened salvia to ecstasy (MDMA) before it was criminalized and said his bill was intended to "raise awareness" of the new drug menace.

[Editor's Note: Perhaps "raising awareness" of an obscure substance is not the best course to take to prevent it from becoming more popular. One Madison, WI, salvia seller reported a huge run on the substance after a spate of newspaper articles on the topic late last month.]

Police in St. Peters, MO, however, don't feel they can wait for congressional action. According to CCLE, St. Peters police claim there has been a recent increase in the use of the plant, which they described as "chewable marijuana." The perceived increase has prompted Police Chief Tom Bishop to urge city officials to pass an ordinance outlawing the sale of Salvia divinorum to anyone under the age of 18. Police department spokesman Sgt. Dave Kuppler said the ordinance is needed to give police "as much ability to control [salvia] as the law can allow."

If St. Peters passes a salvia ordinance, it would be the first law in the nation designed to suppress the little-known herb.

9. Newsbrief: Huffington SUV-Terrorism Ad Parodies Drug Czar's Drug-Terrorism Campaign

A man stands at a gas pump, filling his SUV with premium as the numbers on the pump spin around. A child's voice is heard: "This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV." The scene changes to a shot of an executive walking down a city street. "This is the oil company executive who sold the gas that George bought for his SUV." The scene changes to a map of the Persian Gulf region. "This is the part of the world where the executive bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his SUV." The scene changes to a shot of terrorists training. "And these are the terrorists bankrolled by many of the countries where the oil companies do business so that George can fill up his gas-guzzling SUV."

Writing appears superimposed on the image: "Oil money supports some terrible things. If you drive a SUV, you might too. Brought to you by Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars."

The above is one of a pair of advertisements set to air this Sunday during the morning network talk shows. Avid TV watchers and drug reformers will immediately grasp the obvious: The ads are a sharp parody of the infamous ad campaign from the Office of National Drug Control Policy seeking to tie drug users to global terrorism ( But beyond parody, the ads also make another point, according to Arianna Huffington, the political columnist who inspired the campaign.

"The idea for this project came to me while watching -- for the umpteenth time -- one of those outrageous drug war ads the Bush administration has flooded the airwaves with," she wrote on her web site's SUV page ( "You know, the ones that try and link using drugs to financing terrorism. Instead of shaking my head in disgust and reaching for the Mute button like I usually do when I see these ads, I decided to channel my indignation. Why not turn the tables and adopt the same tactics the administration was using in the drug war to point out the much more credible link between driving SUVs and our national security? Thus began our campaign to create a series of TV ads designed to win the hearts and minds -- and change the driving habits -- of American consumers by asking them to connect the dots and think about the effect energy wastefulness is having not just on the environment, but on our foreign policy."

The ads, which challenge Americans' cherished right to guzzle as much gasoline as they can as well as implicitly critiquing the drug czar's ad campaign, have already proven controversial. Huffington told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Wednesday that four major TV stations -- WABC in New York, WDIV in Detroit, and WABC and WCBS in Los Angeles -- have refused to run the ads. WABC said it has a policy against running "controversial" ads; the other stations refused to comment.

And by mid-week, conservative talk radio hosts were bleating and blathering, outraged at "liberal wacko" Huffington's nerve in suggesting that Americans curb their oil habit. They apparently did not get the parody aspect of the ads.

Agree or disagree with Huffington's anti-SUV stance, they do make a much-needed point about the government's ill-conceived "drugs fund terrorism" campaign, a point drug warriors don't like to think about.

The ads can be viewed online at Huffington's web page above or at online.

10. Newsbrief: Corrupt Cops of the Week

Although the Dallas Police Department "sheetrock" scandal has been festering for months, it is time to give Dallas police officers Senior Cpl. Mark Delapaz and Officer Eddie Herrera their due. After all, a federal grand jury is hearing testimony about their behavior and they are likely to end up as indicted ex-cops within a matter of days or weeks. Delapaz and Herrara made a name for themselves as avid dope-busters, enlisting informants to nail suspect after suspect with pounds of powder. Only one problem: Although the pounds of powder were supposed to be cocaine, they have turned out to be sheetrock.

The discovery came too late for dozens of men, mainly Hispanic, who, faced with zealous narcs and prosecutors and prison sentences in the decades, pled guilty and went to prison for crimes they knew they did not commit. Others -- those arrested by Delapaz and Herrara, but yet to be tried -- have been more fortunate. Dallas County prosecutors have been forced to drop more than 80 cases. They are also preparing to defend numerous civil lawsuits claiming false imprisonment.

The vast majority of the suspect cases were made by Delapaz and Herrera with the help of paid informant Enrique Martinez Alonso. He started working with police after being arrested with a pound of cocaine in July 1999. Alonso is reported to have told police he could deliver some of Dallas's biggest dealers -- if his charges were dropped and if he got a cut of the value of the seized drugs. Top police officials agreed to the set-up.

According to police and court records, Alonso was the department's top snitch within a year. He took in $200,000 in payments from police as he led them to more than 70 arrests and huge amounts of what was supposed to be cocaine and methamphetamine. Instead, either Alonso or Alonso, Delapaz and Herrara framed dozens of innocent men.

The question is whether the cops were in on it. "It's all going to boil down to whether the narcs knew the informants were setting innocent people up or whether they were snookered themselves," said a former Dallas federal prosecutor told the Washington Times. Former DEA El Paso Intelligence Center chief Phil Jordan had little doubt, however. Any experienced narcotics officer would have known at a glance, he told the Times. "The feel and texture is different," he said.

But whether it was a hustler who fooled the cops or crooked cops in cahoots with him, the sheetrock scandal has exposed dirty dealings in Dallas. It was not just a bad cop or a bad informer, but a police, prosecutorial and judicial culture that mindlessly marched those innocent men through the legal meat grinder.

11. Newsbrief: Ontario Court Clears Tokin' Motorist of DWI Charge

In what could become a precedent-setting case, a Canadian provincial court has acquitted an eastern Ontario man of driving while impaired by marijuana. Cannabis activist and Health Canada-certified medical marijuana user Rick Reimer was caught driving joint-in-hand, but that wasn't enough to convince Justice Bruce McPhee that he was too high to drive safely.

Reimer, a retired lawyer who has multiple sclerosis, defended himself. He told the court he drove while smoking marijuana, but insisted it did not impair his driving ability. Among witnesses he called were several Ontario residents who testified that they, too, drove while or after smoking, again without impairment. Some witnesses even told the court that smoking made them better drivers.

In acquitting Reimer Wednesday, Justice McPhee said his decision did not mean that he could dismiss the notion that some people could be impaired by marijuana smoking, but given the lack of scientific evidence, he could not be sure "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Reimer had been impaired. McPhee said that he could not convict in the absence of scientific evidence -- none of which was offered by either side -- but also because he had never seen Reimer straight, which he never was during the trial.

"I know I'm not guilty, I'm innocent, and I hoped the court would see it this way and I'm glad it did," Reimer told reporters in Pembroke, Ontario, after his acquittal. "The most important thing, in my opinion, that the judge said is that this is an area that needs a lot more scientific study. It also, in my opinion, is an area that needs a lot more democratic debate."

The ruling stands in stark contrast with a current campaign led by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy to have states nationwide enact "drugged driving" laws that would allow drivers to be convicted of DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) based not on any evidence of actual impairment but on the presence of even miniscule amounts of cannabis metabolites (

Crown prosecutors pronounced themselves satisfied with the verdict and have not decided whether to appeal, they said after the acquittal.

I'm very happy," Reimer said outside court, firing up a half-smoked joint. I'm feeling the euphoria that I used to get out of marijuana."

12. Newsbrief: Massachusetts Cops Slow to Act on Racial Profiling Law

Two years after Massachusetts passed a law requiring all law enforcement agencies record racial information on traffic citations to track racial profiling, some agencies are failing to do so and the state has done little about it, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Now incoming Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn has told the AP he will create a task force on racial profiling and will address noncompliance with reporting requirements by sending monthly statistics to law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be sending the numbers to him.

The renewed attention to racial profiling comes in the wake of a recent Boston Globe analysis of some 750,000 tickets issued by police in the last two years. The Globe's review found that blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be searched during routine traffic stops, even though white drivers were more often charged with drug offenses as a result of searches.

Flynn told the AP that some police departments are not recording racial data required by the 2000 racial profiling law. He said he would address that by sending each department monthly statistics on their traffic stops. He did not explain how doing so would compel departments to submit the required data. Nor did Flynn evince much interest in having police collect and record more racial information from traffic stops. Under current regulations, officers do not record information from traffic stops where no citations were issued. Recording that information would add to the paperwork burden, Flynn said.

Flynn also cautioned against quick interpretations of the Boston Globe study, adding that he is awaiting the results of a state-commissioned study by Northeastern University. "We can't discount these statistics, but we can't afford to be simplistic," Flynn said. "I'm in favor of doing right by the law as it's written right now." While the newly hired former chief of police for Arlington County, VA, warned against police "backing off," he also acknowledged that concerns over racially unequal policing run deep. "We can ill-afford cops backing off protecting those communities because they're afraid they're going to get branded because their data didn't break down right," said Flynn. "But this is a community conversation that has to happen everywhere because that trust and confidence in the police is so important."

13. Newsbrief: New Jersey Seeks to Delay Ban on Asset Forfeiture, Will Appeal Ruling

The state of New Jersey will appeal a judge's ruling that declared its asset forfeiture laws unconstitutional and has asked that it not be enforced pending appeal. On December 11, Superior Court Judge G. Thomas Bowen threw out the state's asset forfeiture laws after finding the potential for profit taints law enforcement decisions about seizing property ( Between 1998 and 2000, the state seized some $25 million in cash and goods, with the proceeds going to police and prosecutors in all 21 counties.

But attorneys for the state appeared in Bowen's court on January 2 to complain that the ban would cause them administrative headaches and might be overturned on appeal, thus should be delayed pending appeal. In a letter offered to the court, Deputy Attorney General Linda Danielson wrote that seized property had been placed "in limbo" by the ruling, since it cannot be divvied up among police and prosecutors. Even worse, wrote Danielson, owners of seized property might flood the courts seeking the return of confiscated items.

And that could cost money. "Whether their claims are successful or not, judicial and prosecutorial resources will need to be expended entertaining such contentions," Danielson told the court.

Justice Bowen had not ruled on the state's request at press time. The state has announced it will file an appeal within 10 days.

14. Newsbrief: Federal Court Ruling on No-Knock Search Raises Questions About Standard Procedure in Kansas City

A federal magistrate in Kansas City, MO, ruled late last month that police illegally searched a drug suspect's home because they used a no-knock warrant without justifying the need for one. Police are normally required to announce themselves, knock on the door, and wait a reasonable amount of time for an answer. Exceptions to the rule require specific justifications, such as a suspect's violent past. But police testifying in the case told the court they routinely obtained no-knock warrants to protect officers and gain the element of surprise -- not because of specific fears.

That is a no-no, ruled Magistrate Judge Sarah Hays. "There is no blanket exception to the knock and announce requirement in a drug investigation," she wrote, ruling that evidence seized from cocaine conspiracy defendant Montonio Workcuff could not be used in his trial. But Hays bypassed an opportunity to extend her ruling to all search warrants in Jackson County (Kansas City). "The court will rule on these issues only as they apply to defendant Workcuff's case, she wrote.

Because Kansas City police testified that they routinely obtained no-knock warrants, the ruling could potentially affect hundreds of cases, Workcuff attorney Patrick Peters told the Kansas City Star. Attorney David Smith, who recently won a $2 million settlement for a client in another search warrant case, agreed, adding the ruling should be a heads-up for local law enforcement. "The Kansas City Police Department can't circumvent the Constitution," he said.

Although the Kansas City Police Department was "reviewing the decision" and had no comment for the Star, Presiding Jackson County Circuit Judge Jay Daugherty told the newspaper county judges would review the decision to see whether they needed to change search warrant procedures. The Kansas City US Attorneys Office has not yet decided whether it will appeal the ruling, but it has asked for a postponement in Workcuff's trial, set for next Monday.

15. Web Scan: Maia Szalavitz in Slate, GAO on Colombia Coca, Globe and Mail on Ontario Marijuana Ruling

"Trick or Treatment: Teen Drug Programs Turn Curious Teens into Crackheads," Maia Szalavitz writing for Slate:

"Drug Control: Coca Cultivation and Eradication Estimates in Colombia," General Accounting Office report GAO-03-319R, 1/8/03:

Globe and Mail on Ontario Marijuana Ruling

16. DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator

DRCNet is accepting resumes from applicants for the position of Campus Coordinator, a full-time job working on the campaign to repeal the HEA drug provision ( The ideal candidate will be a recently graduated college drug reform activist, but others will be considered. This position will involve non-stop high energy work contacting student organizations and student government leaders around the country, as well as basic maintenance of the campaign web site and database, speaking with campus media, tracking drug provision impact data and other tasks.

Please send resumes via e-mail to [email protected] or fax to (202) 293-8344, attn: David Guard.

17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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

January 11-12, Columbus, OH, free medical marijuana activist training, sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Americans for Safe Access, at Ohio State University. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for information.

January 15, 5:30-7:30pm, San Francisco, CA, "The Politics of Pain." Forum sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance and the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter St. (at Franklin). RSVP to (415) 921-4987 or [email protected], contact Steve Heilig at (415) 561-0870 for further information.

January 15, 7:00-9:00pm, Willimantic, CT, "How to Get Rid of Drug Dealers," public forum with Efficacy and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At Windham Middle School, featuring Jack Cole of LEAP, contact Cliff Thornton at (860) 285-8831 or [email protected].

January 19, 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].

January 25-26, Kingston, RI free medical marijuana activist training, sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Americans for Safe Access, at University of Rhode Island. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for information.

February 3-4, Las Vegas, NV, free medical marijuana activist training, sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Americans for Safe Access, at University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for information.

February 10-11, Berkeley, CA, free medical marijuana activist training, sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Americans for Safe Access, at Ohio State University. Contact [email protected] or [email protected]">[email protected] for information.

February 11, 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.

February 18, noon, nationwide, "Evict the DEA" national medical marijuana protest. Call (510) 486-8083, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

March 1-2, Kingston, RI, 2003 Students for Sensible Drug Policy Northeast Regional Meeting. At the University of Rhode Island, featuring speakers, training sessions, break-out discussions, entertainment, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

March 12, 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, 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, San Francisco, CA, 2003 NORML Conference. Details to follow, visit for information.

April 23-26, Manchester, NJ, 13th North American Syringe Exchange Convention. Visit for further information.

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

November 5-8, 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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PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

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

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