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

Issue #280, 3/28/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. The Week Online Needs Your Help
  2. Editorial: I Smuggled Coca Soap into the United States
  3. Road to Vienna: British Government Chides International Narcotics Control Board on Cannabis Rescheduling Critique
  4. Will Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Be Collateral Damage in Iraq War?
  5. Maryland Legislature Rebuffs Drug Czar, Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Awaits Governor's Signature
  6. DRCNet Interview: Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman
  7. Newsbrief: DEA Issues Final Hemp Rule, Would Ban Hemp Food Products in Weeks, Hempsters Fight Back
  8. Newsbrief: Bill to Allow Syringe Purchases Moving in Illinois Legislature
  9. Newsbrief: Bill to Restrict Needle Exchanges Gets Push in Rhode Island
  10. Newsbrief: Colombia to Get $100 Million Bounty for Supporting Iraq War
  11. Newsbrief: More Americans Dead in Colombia
  12. Newsbrief: Lawsuit Charges Chicago Cops with Pattern of Illegal Stops, Searches of Minorities
  13. Newsbrief: Bush to Nominate Woman Prosecutor to Head DEA
  14. Newsbrief: Silence on Pusherstrasse -- Christiania Drug Sellers Strike for Future of "Free City"
  15. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story
  16. Jobs at WOLA
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. The Week Online Needs Your Help

Dear friend of drug reform:

The Week Online is in crisis and needs your help!


Giving to nonprofits since 9/11/01 has gone down in general as uncertain economic times result in fewer and smaller donations. This is the case for both our smaller membership donations and our larger major donor gifts. Additionally, the movement's major grant-making program has greatly delayed its application process for 2003, and we as well as most organizations in the movement have been hit very hard as a result. The cumulative impact has left The Week Online's budget in dire straits.

Please visit and make a donation to support the Week Online -- large or small, everything helps -- or send your check or money order to DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036 -- or visit to sign up for a monthly credit card donation.

  • $1,400, tax-deductible, will fully fund one issue of The Week Online and all associated costs -- Phil Smith's salary, 20 percent of David Borden's, plus rent, Internet distribution and other overhead -- and a little extra to print it out and mail it to prisoners who've requested it.
  • $40,000, together with other funds received or likely, will complete The Week Online's budget for all of 2003. $45,000 will let us translate it into Spanish too -- very important in the aftermath of our enormously successful, historic Latin America conference (visit to find out more).
  • $100, $50, $25, even $10, if that is what you can afford, times 1,000 contributors -- only one out of every 25 people on this e-mail list -- will add up to make a huge difference. $30 or more entitles you to a choice of free DRCNet gifts!
The Week Online is used by too many drug reform supporters, to empower their own work, to be allowed to go under. Nothing could boost the spirits of our prohibitionist opponents more than seeing the world's leading and most widely-reaching drug reform newsletter cease to publish. But that's what's going to happen without your help. So make a donation to make sure this doesn't happen -- visit to donate today! You can also make a non-deductible donation to support our lobbying work -- visit to make a contribution of either kind.

Donations to the DRCNet Foundation are tax-deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network would support our lobbying work and are not deductible. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number 772973012, DTC number 0188. Or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you in advance for your support.


David Borden, Executive Director
Drug Reform Coordination Network

P.S. Check out our newly-redesigned home page, read the current Week Online headlines and view footage and other info from our historic Latin American legalization conference -- visit to see it all!

2. Editorial: I Smuggled Coca Soap into the United States

With the resumption of editorials this week after a hiatus, I'd like to take this opportunity to make a small confession to DRCNet readers. In part I was inspired by the resurgence of the hemp issue this week, with DEA's re-filing of regulations to ban the sale and consumption of food products made with non-psychoactive hemp -- pretzels, candy bars, pasta, cooking oil and such -- and the hemp industry's rapid response court action to block the implementation of the illegal rule as they did before ( My confession revolves around a product that physiologically is equally innocuous to hemp foods, but politically may be more provocative, if less popularized.

I smuggled coca soap into the United States.

I received one of the infamous cleansing bars as a gift, from an attendee at our legalization conference in the Mexican city of Mérida on the Yucatán peninsula last month, "Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century ( The soap bar was not contraband, at least not at its point of production. Like the soft drink Coca Cola, it was legally produced and distributed by an agency licensed by a government, using coca that was legally grown and supplied to them.

It's possible that, like Coca Cola, the insignificant amount of cocaine contained in the small amount of coca used to make the soap bar had been extracted prior to it going to market. If so, they needn't have bothered -- it's just soap! Even with the cocaine extracted, there's probably more of it remaining in a glass of coca cola you would drink than ended up in my bloodstream each morning after scrubbing my body with the coca soap in the shower. Washing with coca soap didn't make me wired -- just as my usual choice of soap, Dr. Bronner's, which includes hemp oil, doesn't get me stoned. But the company might have had an incentive to extract the cocaine, to sell for use in the legal pharmaceutical supply.

So I'm not really sure if it was illegal to carry my coca soap bar with me into the airports, onto the airplanes, into the glove compartment of my rental car or up to my apartment. Nor, however, can I be sure that technically it wasn't a violation. It was an educational experience to go through customs and observe myself wondering if there was the slightest chance in the world agents could find my bar of soap (identifying label removed), recognize the telltale shade of purple, test it chemically, discover my crime and drag me away in handcuffs or chains. But February 15, 2003 was my lucky night. I endured no search at all on my return, breezed through immigration control, hopped on the van to the long-term parking lot and got away scot-free. Take that, Homeland Security Department.

If anyone reading this is offended by my brazen flaunting of Uncle Sam's dictums, I offer my sincere apology. All I can say is, once or twice in life, everyone has to take a walk on the wild side, right or not. If my transportation or use of coca soap threatened the stability of the social order in any way, I'm certain it posed less risk to myself or others than any number of the President's admitted youthful indiscretions, much less the ones he's never admitted (nor denied). It didn't encourage teen drug use, and it didn't interfere with the war on terrorism, the hoisting of the flag, or the renaming of french fries.

And if anyone in law enforcement reads this and gets any "ideas," you should know: I have no scientific proof that the soap bar I transported actually contained coca or cocaine, and neither do you. For that matter, maybe I just made the whole thing up in order to write an entertaining editorial. The evidence has long since been washed down the drain -- if there ever was any. And, it was my soap, and it's none of your business. If you actually did anything with this, it would be ridiculous. And you didn't go after Jefferson Morley when he published a commentary about trying crack cocaine in the Washington Post, so I could claim selective prosecution.

One day North and South Americans will be free to trade in coca products, free from the fear and paranoia that thrive within the shadows of prohibition and the drug war. In the meantime, coca in the US will remain a rare and forbidden pleasure.

3. Road to Vienna: British Government Chides International Narcotics Control Board on Cannabis Rescheduling Critique

In a letter sent to the International Narcotics Control Board ( on behalf of the British government, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Member of Parliament Bob Ainsworth slammed the international narcobureaucrats for criticizing British moves to reschedule cannabis and vowed to rectify the problem at the United Nations drug summit in Vienna next month. In its annual report, released late last month, the INCB worried that downgrading cannabis offenses in England would "confuse" other countries and lead to increased cannabis cultivation.

"The reclassification of cannabis by the Government of the United Kingdom would undermine the efforts of the Governments of African countries to counter illicit cannabis cultivation, trafficking, and abuse," the INCB warned. "That action, it was held, sent the wrong message and could lead to increased cultivation of cannabis destined for the United Kingdom and other European countries."

The INCB report also decried the "worldwide repercussions" of Britain's decision to reschedule cannabis, "including confusion and widespread misunderstanding."

But Ainsworth, writing for the Blair administration, was having none of it. Britain's government, wrote Ainsworth, was "dismayed" at the report, and "in particular, the alarmist language used, the absence of any reference to the scientific evidence on which that decision was based, and the misleading way the decision was presented to the media by the INCB."

While Ainsworth was careful to restate the British government's commitment to "tackling the scourge of drugs," he strongly defended the move to reschedule cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug. "The decision to reclassify cannabis was based on scientific advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, following their detailed scrutiny of all the available scientific and research material," wrote Ainsworth. "The Council's report is available on the website at and I urge the Board to study it very carefully. As you will see the Advisory Council concluded that cannabis is unquestionably harmful, but that its current classification is disproportionate both in relation to its inherent toxicity, and to that of other substances (such as the amphetamines) that are currently within Class B of the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. It therefore recommended that it be reclassified to Class C under the Act."

Ainsworth pronounced his government amazed that the INCB would mischaracterize its decision-making and vowed to take the organization to task at the upcoming Vienna meeting. "I would find it extraordinary if the Board thought that the UK Government should have ignored the science and based our decision on what people in some quarters might think," he wrote. "My officials who will be attending the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in April will be taking the opportunity, when the INCB report is discussed, to intervene to correct the extremely misleading picture which your report, and its presentation to the media, have painted."

Ainsworth and the British government were particularly perturbed by comments made by INCB representatives at a press conference announcing the issuance of the report. "The comments made in your report, your selective and inaccurate use of statistics, and failure to refer to the scientific basis on which the UK Government's decision was based all add up to an ill-informed and potentially damaging message," Ainsworth wrote. "This was compounded by the way in which the Board presented the cannabis reclassification decision to the media at the launch of its annual report on 26 February. For example, the Board representative is quoted as having said that we might end up in the next 10 or 20 years with our psychiatric hospitals filled with people who have problems with cannabis, and that a recent study by the British Lung Foundation found smoking three cannabis joints caused the same damage to the linings of the airways as 20 cigarettes. These are totally misleading statements. In its report on cannabis, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs concluded on the basis of all the available evidence that, although cannabis use can unquestionably worsen existing mental illness, no clear causal link has been demonstrated between cannabis and the onset of mental illness. As to the health risks arising from smoking, the Advisory Council report made clear that while smoking cannabis may be more dangerous than tobacco, it needs to be set within the context that in general cannabis users smoke fewer cigarettes per day than tobacco smokers and most give up in their 30s, so limiting long-term exposure."

Besides, Ainsworth added, the INCB's inability to distinguish between cannabis and other, more dangerous, drugs undermines responsible drug education. "It does great damage to the credibility of the messages we give to young people about the dangers of drug misuse if we try to pretend that cannabis is as harmful as drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. It quite clearly is not, and if we do not acknowledge that by ensuring our drugs law accurately reflect the relative harms of drugs, young people will not listen to our messages about the drugs which do the greatest harm. It is the misuse of Class A drugs which leads to a cycle of crime, social exclusion and misery. The reclassification of cannabis will therefore enhance the effectiveness and credibility of our drugs laws as a whole, and thereby facilitate delivery of the Government's key messages on drugs education to young people. It will also help the law enforcement and treatment agencies to focus their efforts on the most harmful drugs and on problematic drug misusers."

The battle is joined. For the first time, the global drug control regime and its bureaucracy will face a serious challenge to its prohibitionist consensus -- not only from the British, but from a growing number of countries and elected officials from around the world who have asked for a reconsideration of global prohibition policies.

4. Will Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Be Collateral Damage in Iraq War?

The momentum for marijuana law reform appears to be slowing within the Canadian government, due in part to fears of alienating the Bush administration. Last December, Justice Minister Maurice Cauchon vowed to introduce marijuana decriminalization legislation by the end of next month, but in remarks in Toronto last week Cauchon pushed back that timeline. Some Canadian politicians and observers believe concerns about angering the US -- already unhappy with Canadian refusals to support its Iraq invasion -- may explain part of the delay.

Although both chambers of the Canadian Parliament last year issued reports calling for marijuana law reform -- the Senate report called for outright legalization -- and Justice Minister Cauchon said the government would push for decrim, he didn't sound so certain last week. Speaking with reporters in Toronto, Cauchon said he "would be happy" if the government could introduce a decrim bill before Parliament's summer break, but that he believed Canada needed a national debate before taking any such step. He also told reporters he wanted to study the two parliamentary reports on marijuana law reform.

"What will take place in the future in terms of policy, we'll see," he said. "I told you, I would like to reform the system... We'll come forward with my policy as soon as I can."

Still, in earlier remarks before Toronto businessmen, Cauchon appeared to be standing by his commitment to move on decrim. "The criminal law is a blunt tool; it is only effective if it is applied consistently and if it reflects true social consensus on an issue," he told the Empire Club of Canada. "I am troubled by the inconsistent application of the criminal law to the possession of small amounts of marijuana for criminal use. Your children or grandchildren may not be charged if they are caught in Toronto, but kids in small towns across Canada are being charged for exactly the same behavior. This means that kids are ending up with a criminal conviction," Cauchon continued. "This can have a devastating impact on their lives -- from the types of jobs they can get, to traveling or going to university in other countries, particularly the United States," he added.

Cauchon added that he had intended to travel to the US to discuss the move with US officials, but that trip had been delayed because of the Iraq invasion. (The National Post reported Thursday that President Bush is considering canceling a scheduled May visit to Canada because of concerns that he would by met by a hostile reception from parliamentarians and mass demonstrations against his invasion of Iraq. A significant portion of Canadian public opinion has been infuriated by US Ambassador Paul Cellucci's recent remarks that many Americans are "disappointed and upset" over Canada's refusal to participate in the US invasion.)

US irritation with Canada may be a factor slowing the move to decrim, said Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy ( "The US ambassador has recently scolded Canada for not sending troops to Iraq," Oscapella told DRCNet. "There have been threats of trade sanctions and interference with cross-border commerce, so the issue may now be on hold. This tension between the two governments might actually cause our government to back off a bit, and that's a real worry."

Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who chaired the Senate committee whose report called for outright legalization of marijuana for those over 16, has also suggested in recent days that the government won't want to further inflame relations with the US by sponsoring a decrim bill now. President Bush himself warned of increasing Canadian marijuana imports in January, calling Canadian anti-drug efforts "inadequate," and his drug czar, John Walters, has strongly criticized any Canadian proposals to relax the marijuana laws.

"The reality of this political relationship between Canada and the US is so important and so hard to predict right now," said Oscapella. "If the war drags on, that will exacerbate US criticism of Canada. I worry that something completely unrelated to our effort to change the marijuana laws will derail this process. Cauchon is the government's lead minister in this, but we also have to consider the Foreign Ministry, the ministries of industry and trade. We're on the brink of serious consequences with the Americans over Iraq, and the business community doesn't want to do anything that might endanger commerce."

Still, said Oscapella, he remained convinced that the government will move on decrim. "Their intentions remain good," he said, "and it is possible the government is delaying because it wants to introduce decrim as part of a national drug strategy, one component of which will be to decriminalize marijuana possession." The opposition Alliance Party has said it will fight decrim if it comes without a national drug strategy, Oscapella added. "The government wants as many allies as possible."

And if Cauchon actually gets around to introducing a bill, things could move fast, Oscapella added. "The government has an absolute majority in Parliament, and the New Democrats and the Parti Quebecois will vote with them on this, so even if there are defections, there are enough votes to go ahead and move this. It could end up passing very, very quickly then," he said.

But until that bill is introduced or the government acts through the regulatory process to effectively decriminalize marijuana, Canadian decrim remains in danger of becoming a collateral casualty of the US invasion of Iraq.

5. Maryland Legislature Rebuffs Drug Czar, Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Awaits Governor's Signature

Ignoring a last-minute intervention by drug czar John Walters, the Maryland Senate voted 29-17 Wednesday to approve medical marijuana legislation. The Maryland House of Delegates passed a similar measure last week. Maryland thus becomes the second state to reform its medical marijuana laws through the legislative process. Hawaii did so in 2000. All other medical marijuana measures in recent years have been enacted through the initiative and referendum process.

The Maryland medical marijuana bill does not legalize or regulate the use of the herb for medical purposes, but does allow for a reduced penalty for those people who can show that their use of the drug is a medical necessity. Under Maryland law, possession of marijuana is punishable by up to $1,000 fine and one year in jail, but under the provisions of this bill, those who successfully argue a medical necessity defense can be punished by no more than a $100 fine and no jail time.

"This is a victory, but it is an incomplete victory," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (, the organization that spearheaded the drive to win this year in Maryland. "The bill is not as we would have liked; it protects patients from prison, but not from arrest. People with cancer, AIDS, and other terrible diseases can still be arrested, handcuffed, taken to jail, and prosecuted, just to finally escape with a minimal punishment," he told DRCNet. "The bill doesn't go nearly far enough, but it's certainly better than the year in prison they could get now."

It didn't start out that way. The medical marijuana bill that started the session would have legalized marijuana use and possession for victims of cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, or other chronic medical conditions upon a physician's advice, but that bill was gutted in a House committee. In place of the original bill, the House passed the "medical necessity defense" bill.

While Maryland legislators failed to fend off language weakening the bill, they did manage to ignore the unsolicited advice of drug czar John Walters, who lobbied against the bill and spoke out the day of the final vote. The gullible legislators were "fooled" by "drug legalizers," said Walters. "Unfortunately, they have snuck up on people in Maryland and used them to help the wider effort," Walters said.

Although Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) has supported medical marijuana in the past and has hinted he will sign the bill, Walters said he hope Ehrlich "will see through the con." Marijuana is no more "a proven, efficacious medicine" than "medicinal crack," Walters added.

"I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the man," retorted MPP's Mirken, "because John Walters is losing his grip on reality. Marijuana is a medicinal herb with 5,000 years of recorded history. And crack is a form of cocaine, which is a Schedule II drug with medical uses. Doctors can administer cocaine, and nobody in their right mind believes marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine. Yet you still can't prescribe marijuana. The drug czar needs to spend more time on planet Earth."

Maybe, but less time in Maryland, according to Erin Hildebrandt, a medical marijuana patient and mother of five from Smithsburg, who testified for the bill. "I am proud of the Senate for ignoring the last-minute campaign of lies conducted by John Walters," said Hildebrandt. "Crohn's disease used to leave me too sick to even get out of bed, other than to go to the bathroom or the doctor's office, until I discovered that marijuana helped me more than any medicine I had ever tried. Medical marijuana literally gave me my life back. It is John Walters who is 'cruel, immoral and cynical,' not the people working to protect patients."

Still, the bill isn't law until the governor signs it. But MPP's Mirken is optimistic. "Nothing is certain until the ink is dry," he conceded, "but Ehrlich has repeatedly told the Maryland press he supports the general idea, he was a sponsor of the Barney Frank states' rights to medical marijuana bill, and this is a weak bill that only gives patients protections roughly equal to what recreational smokers already have in about a dozen states. It would be shocking if he didn't sign it, a transparent knuckling under to outside political pressure from the White House. He would look like a fool."

6. DRCNet Interview: Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman

Ed Forchion, also known as the New Jersey Weedman (, has since his marijuana trafficking arrest in New Jersey in 1997 become an outspoken and outrageous opponent of the state's and the nation's marijuana laws. Energized by his arrest, Forchion commenced a flamboyant public campaign to change the law and, hopefully, avoid being sent to prison for 20 years. Forchion ran for the US Congress and for local office, publicly smoking pot along the way. He appeared at the New Jersey state capitol attired in striped convicts' garb, and smoked there, too. At one point, he even sought political asylum in Canada -- to no avail. At all times, he generated press coverage and controversy.

Finally, Forchion pled guilty in exchange for a short prison stay, then got out on probation last year. By then adopting the NJ Weedman moniker, Forchion was in no mood to call it a day. He soon ran afoul of New Jersey probation officials for -- of all things -- expressing his opinions on public policy issues, particularly marijuana legalization. In a move that should startle the conscience of a democratic society, New Jersey authorities jailed Forchion for five months for planning to air TV commercials airing his political viewpoint. If New Jersey officials had their way, he'd still be rotting behind bars, but thanks to the intervention of a federal judge, the NJ Weedman is back from the land of the living dead and ready to tell his tales. DRCNet spoke with Forchion from his New Jersey home Thursday.

Week Online: How does it feel to be a free man again?

Ed Forchion: Well, I'm semi-free, anyway; I'm in the ISP, the Intensive Supervision Program, although the state thinks it stands for Inmate Silence Program. The federal judge who freed me ordered ISP to take me back, and while I'm still in the program, they're leaving me alone. They used to make me meet with them twice a week to give urine samples, but now they don't let me near the other participants -- they're afraid I'll contaminate them by telling them the Constitution applies even to prisoners -- and they come to my house to urine test me. I'm still waiting to get the man off my back. I'm happy to be out, of course, but still shocked that I spent five months in jail for making a commercial.

WOL: You had finished a prison sentence on a marijuana charge and were out on parole when they threw you back in jail for making TV commercials?

Forcion: Yes, I was on ISP and had been ordered not to talk to the press and not to talk about marijuana. I was in jail when they told me those conditions, and I knew it was illegal, but I was in jail and I wasn't about to say no. They wanted me to discontinue my public stance for legalization, but when I got out, the newspapers wanted to talk to me, and I talked to them. My parole officer gave me written warnings, then when I continued anyway, threw me in jail for five days in June. It was outrageous! How can you throw someone in jail for talking to the press? That condition of my parole was unconstitutional, and I told ISP that in a letter. They replied that those were the rules, and that's when I decided to challenge it as a First Amendment issue. That's when I taped those commercials to advocate a policy change on marijuana. How can you defend yourself if you don't have the right to free speech? I knew my making the commercials would be controversial, but I didn't know they'd throw me in jail for five months.

WOL: How did you get out?

Forchion: I filed a writ of habeas corpus to the federal court saying I was being punished for exercising my right to free speech, that the order that I not speak about pot was an unconstitutional condition of my confinement. (I was out on parole, but still serving my sentence, thus "confined.") In short, the federal judge agreed that I had the right to free speech. He ordered the state to show a reason why they had me in jail other than for exercising my First Amendment rights, and the state couldn't. I hadn't violated conditions of my parole, they had nothing, except that I talked about certain things to certain people. Of course, that took five months.

I had also filed suit in the New Jersey courts, but that entire process was a sham, a mockery of justice. The first time I was supposed to argue for my freedom, they just left me in jail, they forgot to bring me to court. The judges rescheduled not for the next week or two weeks, but two months later. I finally got a hearing in December, but the judges let the state filibuster all day. I never even got to state my case. It was obvious they were delaying. The judges scheduled another hearing a month later. I was still in jail -- five months -- and I hadn't even been able to make my case in court. It was done deliberately by officials of the state of New Jersey.

That's when the federal court, Judge Irenas, gave the state 21 days to show cause to keep me. They tried to argue that I didn't have free speech in ISP, but the judge ruled my imprisonment unconstitutional and ordered my release. I walked out of jail on January 24.

WOL: Now you are suing Comcast for refusing to run your ads advocating a policy change on marijuana. What is it you hope to accomplish with this lawsuit, and surely the requested $420,000 in damages is just a coincidence?

Forchion: Once the press started writing about my commercials, Comcast censored them. I had a signed agreement with them, I had put down a cash deposit, they had run my campaign commercials in 1999 and 2000, but they suddenly yanked the ads and made public statements saying I advocated drug use, saying I was advocating criminal activity. When my parole officer locked me up the next day, he used the same words Comcast used.

This is a harassment lawsuit; it's designed to get Comcast to air those commercials. I spent five months in jail for those commercials, but they still haven't been on the air. And this is important because our movement can't afford network advertising rates, but cable channel ads are affordable. Comcast is the largest cable provider in the country, and they need to learn not to censor. I would drop the lawsuit in 420 seconds if they agreed to air the commercials. The $420,000 figure was a deliberate attempt to catch the attention of the marijuana community, but it's not about the money.

WOL: How did you become a marijuana radical?

Forchion: I always thought marijuana should be legal, but like lots of people, I just sat around and smoked weed and talked about it. After I got arrested, then I went for it. I also wanted to do jury nullification. I wanted people on the jury to know who I was and how I felt, so I announced I was running for Congress against Rep. Rob Andrews and smoked a joint in his office. I did the same thing at Democratic Party headquarters here as I announced my candidacy for county freeholder. I swore I would smoke marijuana publicly at least once a month during my campaigns, which I did. I told the newspapers I would gladly plead guilty to conspiracy to grow pot if they would charge my coconspirator -- God. I smoked marijuana at the state capitol. I was arrested several times, but never prosecuted after I threatened to file a Religious Freedom Restoration Act defense.

The bigger picture was that I was getting press and getting my opinion heard. All those people in New Jersey were potential jurors, too. And it worked. People thought I was a fool, they said I was talking my way into jail, but when I finally went to trial, I told the prosecutors I only needed one juror to acquit. Then one of the jurors started crying, saying she couldn't convict me. On the third day, they offered me a deal. I went from looking at 20 years to doing six months and parole. Of course, they still screwed me. They did a bait and switch. After I was in prison for a month, I got a letter saying I was ineligible for that early release. I got a real web design ace, James Dawson, to update my website to explain the situation, I called myself a political prisoner, and I filed a motion to change my name to People thought it was ridiculous, but the press picked up on it, people started going to the web site, and what do you know? Suddenly, two months late, ISP changes its mind and I get out on parole. I spent about a year on a 20-year charge.

WOL: You are a Rastafarian. Can you explain how that influences your views on marijuana?

Forchion: I guess I was a searcher. As a kid, I rejected Christianity and religion. For awhile I wanted to be a Muslim; I went to the temple and swore I would be the next Malcolm X. But by my 20s, I was an atheist. My army dogtags said "atheist" and my Marine dogtags said "no preference." I met some Jamaicans, I was smoking marijuana, and they said I should let Jah into my life. I started finding myself then. Rastafarianism teaches respect for nature and natural things, while Christianity teaches that marijuana is the devil's weed, a sinful thing. Rastafarianism eventually got me in trouble, because I believe smoking marijuana is a religious freedom. If we had true religious freedom, we would have an exception to the drug laws. But the authorities in New Jersey knew I was serious about this, about using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect my religious practice, and they would not prosecute me. I could smoke anywhere in New Jersey and not get prosecuted. Arrested, yes, but not prosecuted.

WOL: You are a black guy from New Jersey, but black marijuana activists seem to be a rare breed. Why do you think that is?

Forchion: It is frustrating. People are afraid. The drug laws are enforced tougher and harder against our communities. The prisons are full of faces like mine. But there are only a couple of black activists -- Cliff Thornton in Connecticut, Sister Somayah in Los Angeles -- that I know of, and a couple of preachers. But groups like the NAACP and the black community groups are almost all run by the reverends and preachers, and they can't get past the idea that smoking marijuana is sinful. It's a real hindrance. I've basically stopped talking to local NAACP chapters. And the New Jersey Council of Black Ministers, they were very active on racial profiling, and that was all about finding drugs, but the ministers shied away from talking about the drug war. Until historical black organizations start taking this up, black people aren't going to be involved. I tell them, if you're complaining about a million black men in prison, then enlighten us on serving on juries. They don't want to hear it.

WOL: You are something of a free agent in terms of marijuana activism. Do you get any support from the organized drug reform movement? Why or why not?

Forchion: I think the drug reform groups think I'm too wacky, with the NJ Weedman thing. Being the Weedman is a double-edged sword. It has got me attention from the mainstream media, and I've been accepted because the reporters listen and understand that what I'm saying is not wacky. But the other side is that movement people think I'm a lunatic. When I start talking about them providing me some help, they ask why they should give money to the silly NJ Weedman.

WOL: What's next for you, and where do you think the movement should be heading?

Forchion: I'm sure not going away. I spent five months in jail for trying to express myself; I want to see those commercials aired. I'm trying to present the case for legalization, but they won't let me put it on TV. So I will continue to push my court cases and I will continue to try to get media attention. It has worked for me and for the issue so far, and if you want to get some piece of legislation passed, you've got to get on the TV. I'm also the subject of two documentaries, one by Peter Christopher, which is strictly on the First Amendment fight, and the second by an independent filmmaker that will be broader, looking at the whole NJ Weedman thing. You know, at first people think "NJ Weedman, ha-ha," people think marijuana is a funny issue, but after they hear me out, it isn't so funny anymore. And now they can't ignore me. My picture has been in the paper many times, so people recognize me at Walmart, and I'm a celebrity at local courthouses. I'm not just another one of those million black guys fighting drug charges, I'm the NJ Weedman!

I think the organizations interested in legalizing marijuana need to reach a national consensus to push civil disobedience and jury nullification. I think it's a waste of time to try to lobby Democrats and Republicans to change the law -- there may be at best a handful of sympathetic congressmen -- so it's up to we the people to change these laws. If the drug reform and marijuana legalization groups got behind jury nullification, we can change those laws. There is tremendous potential there -- just look at the Ed Rosenthal case. If a single juror there knew he could have voted his conscience, Ed would have walked free. This is a valuable option. People wouldn't convict their neighbors for beer violations during alcohol Prohibition; we can do the same thing now. Lots of people don't think people should be punished for marijuana, and jury nullification gives us the chance to exploit that. We have the power, if we just choose to exercise it, but we need to teach the people. If we can use public sentiment in this way, we can win. Juries can judge the law as well as the facts -- let's put the law on trial.

For earlier DRCNet coverage of the NJ Weedman, see:

7. Newsbrief: DEA Issues Final Hemp Rule, Would Ban Hemp Food Products in Weeks, Hempsters Fight Back

In final rules on hemp foods published on March 21, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) essentially banned the sale of all hemp food products in the US by April 21. The final rule is almost identical to the DEA's interpretive rule on hemp foods that was issued in October 2001, but never implemented because of a court challenge by hemp interests. Today, the Hemp Industries Association and several hemp food and cosmetics manufacturers will ask the US 9th Circuit District Court in San Francisco to once again put the kibosh on the DEA's scheme to end the legal sales of hemp seed and oil in the US.

"The DEA's charade of supposedly protecting the public from safe and nutritious hemp food is finally going to end," says David Bronner, Chairman of the Hemp Industry Association's Food and Oil Committee. "The court is currently hearing a substantive challenge to the "Interpretive Rule," and in light of the announcement of the "Final Rule," the hemp industry is optimistic that the Court will ultimately invalidate the DEA's rule, as one of the prime criteria in granting the stay was whether the hemp industry is likely to ultimately prevail on the merits of the case," added Bronner.

Although Congress specifically exempted non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the DEA has asserted authority under the CSA to ban hemp foods. That move has not gone unnoticed. More than 115,000 public comments -- the vast majority opposing the rule -- were submitted to the DEA since the interpretive rule was published, and the hemp industry, through its Vote Hemp project ( has organized public demonstrations and financed the legal effort to rein in the DEA.

The US is the only major industrialized country to ban the growing and processing of industrial hemp. Now it wants to stop us from consuming it, too.

8. Newsbrief: Bill to Allow Syringe Purchases Moving in Illinois Legislature

A bill that would allow Illinois residents to buy and possess up to 20 syringes without a prescription passed the Illinois Senate Monday on a vote of 30-24 and is headed for action in the House, where it has had a first reading and been referred to the House Rules Committee. Possession of syringes without a prescription is currently a crime in Illinois.

The bill is supported by a diverse coalition including the Chicago Recovery Alliance, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and more than a dozen more public health, medical and related organizations. The coalition headed by the AIDS Foundation has lobbied since 1999 to get the measure passed, and has now convinced the upper house that access to sterile syringes will reduce HIV/AIDS infection rates in the state.

SB 880 provides that pharmacists may sell up to 20 syringes to persons over the age of 18 without a prescription. The bill also requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to develop educational materials on safer injection, HIV prevention, syringe disposal and drug treatment, and to make copies of those materials available to pharmacists, who must in turn make them available to persons who buy needles.

The bill has 17 cosponsors in the House (out of 118 members), and supporters plan to keep up the pressure. Hundreds of AIDS advocates traveled to Springfield, the state's capital, on Tuesday and Wednesday to urge legislators to pass the bill as part of the coalition's AIDS Lobby Week.

Click here to read the bill online.

9. Newsbrief: Bill to Restrict Needle Exchanges Gets Push in Rhode Island

The Woonsocket, RI, City Council tried last week to jumpstart a bill sponsored by local representatives that would restrict needle exchange programs (NEPs) in the state. H 5248 would bar NEPs from operating within 300 yards of parks, schools and churches. The effort to restrict the scientifically proven HIV/AIDS prevention programs grew out of local anger at Department of Health-administered mobile NEPs that operated for two hours a week beside the 15-acre World War II Veterans Memorial Park near downtown, a popular gathering place for injection drug users.

In a March 19 vote, the council voted unanimously to support the bill, saying the NEP was a public safety threat and sent confusing messages to children. "I'm having a big problem with this," said Councilwoman Suzanne J. Vadenais. "What kind of message are we sending to our kids that says if you do drugs we have a van out there that'll give you free needles?"

Rep. Todd Brien (D-District 50) told the Providence Journal he sponsored the bill because the mobile NEP could cause crime. "We just don't want it in a place where they are in such close proximity to children and the elderly," said Brien, who is also a Woonsocket police detective. "This could lead drug users attracted to the needle exchange to commit a crime, turning to prostitution or breaking and entering to support a habit. These people should be in treatment centers."

The mobile NEP program was operated by ENCORE (Education, Needle Exchange, Counseling, Outreach and Referral), a harm reduction program of the states AIDS Care Ocean State agency that has operated NEPs in Providence for years. The Woonsocket program shut town temporarily in January after coming under fire from city officials. Health officials estimate that some 1,500 of the state's injection drug users are enrolled in NEPs, and suggest that the NEPs are playing a role in declining HIV infection rates.

"There is a wealth of evidence that the most effective way to prevent transmission of HIV and AIDS among drug users is to provide adequate syringe access," Brown University infectious disease specialist Dr. Josiah D. Rich told the Journal. "This is a tremendously successful intervention, and has not led to any rise of drug use." But local officials have their heads in the sand, he said. "The fact that this needle exchange program is there points out to the mayor and other officials that there is a problem, but they would prefer not to acknowledge it," Rich said. "It's not like drug users are coming into Woonsocket from other areas. They're already there."

The bill is currently awaiting action in the House Subcommittee on Health, Education and Welfare. Read it online at:

10. Newsbrief: Colombia to Get $100 Million Bounty for Supporting Iraq War

The government of hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe won an extra $100 million to pursue its war against the drug trade and leftist guerrillas by joining -- along with such powerhouse states as El Salvador, Eritrea and the Marshall Islands -- the list of Bush administration allies in the invasion of Iraq. Colombia was rewarded for its stand this week when the Bush administration unveiled its $75 billion Iraq war appropriation request, including $100 million for Uribe's war.

The $100 million comes in addition to the roughly $500 million already approved in the 2003 budget. The Bush administration is seeking another $600 million for Colombia next year. The US has spent nearly $2 billion in recent years to inflame the Colombian conflict.

The Bogota newspaper El Tiempo reported Monday that additional funds will be used for the "struggle against terrorism." Most of the money will be used to pay for equipment and training to beef up the government's intelligence capabilities, the newspaper reported.

In contrast to the simplistic "war against terrorism" rhetoric increasingly favored by the US and its allies against any armed resistance anywhere, the four-decade old Colombian civil war is a complex and complicated struggle involving large guerrilla armies, paramilitary bands and the Colombian security apparatus, and is rooted in deep, longstanding social inequalities.

But since the 2001 attacks on the US, both the US and other governments facing armed resistance have attempted to brand such conflicts as "terrorism," implying that all such struggles are somehow linked in a web of evil.

The Bush administration's $74.7 billion Iraq war appropriation request includes $5 billion for countries who have kept their mouths shut about the war (Egypt, Jordan), the rightwing government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, countries enlisted in the struggle against Al Qaeda (Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines), and countries that provided rhetorical support for the Iraq invasion (Eastern Europe), as well as Colombia.

11. Newsbrief: More Americans Dead in Colombia

While the US mass media has been busy with play-by-play coverage of the US invasion of Iraq, the war in Colombia continues apace. On Monday, a second plane carrying US civilian mercenaries went down in rebel territory in Caqueta province, the same area where FARC rebels shot down a US plane on February 13. The three unidentified US citizens on board Monday's downed flight were killed, according to El Tiempo. It is unclear at press time whether the plane crashed or was shot down.

The dead civilian mercenaries were part of a massive search effort underway for the past five weeks to find the three US citizens captured by the FARC when their spy plane was shot down in the February 13 incident. Two other members of that doomed flight, a US civilian mercenary and a Colombian army sergeant, were killed either attempting to escape or resisting arrest by FARC guerrillas.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that although the State Department refused to provide any details on the flight's passengers, they were US citizens who were "contractors for the US government." US mercenary outfits, such as Dyncorp and California Microwave systems (employer of those killed or captured in the February 13 incident), employ hundreds of people to undertake tasks such as spraying coca fields with herbicides and gathering intelligence on leftist rebels. The FARC has declared such civilians engaged in war support activities as legitimate targets of war.

Citing anonymous sources in the Colombian military, El Tiempo reported that the downed plane was participating in military operations "directly coordinated by US military personnel at the Larandia airbase." The Larandia base, in the jungles of Caqueta, is headquarters for the massive US and Colombian effort to recover the three mercenaries held as POWs by the FARC.

The FARC has said it will release the detained mercenaries, as well as others it holds, in exchange for the freedom of rebels held by the Colombian government.

12. Newsbrief: Lawsuit Charges Chicago Cops with Pattern of Illegal Stops, Searches of Minorities

The Illinois American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit Monday charging Chicago police with a pattern of indiscriminately stopping young black and Hispanic men without any legal justification and then subjecting them to illegal searches. The suit was brought on behalf of three plaintiffs, two Chicago brothers and an Olympic speed skater, all of whom say they were lawfully walking on Chicago sidewalks when stopped and searched by police in separate incidents.

While the lawsuit is not strictly a racial profiling lawsuit -- it charges police with violating 4th Amendment rights against illegal searches -- ACLU of Illinois director Harvey Grossman told a Monday news conference that police were stopping "disproportionate" numbers of blacks and Hispanics.

There was "a custom of the part of the police department to stop, detain, and search young men due to inadequate training and supervision and failure to discipline officers who make these kinds of unlawful stops," said Grossman.

Lead plaintiff Shani Davis, the first African-American member of the US Olympic speed skating team, told the news conference how he was stopped and searched on March 30, 2001 as he went to have his hair braided. Police pulled his pants and underwear away from his body and shined a flashlight inside his pants, said Davis, adding that police claimed they were looking for drugs. "I felt powerless just from the fact that he had a weapon," said Davis. "I felt that my life could be at stake at any moment. I felt threatened."

Co-plaintiffs Damien and Quincy Joyner described a similar incident on West Belmont Avenue in January 2002. The two men were walking down the sidewalk when stopped and searched for no reason, said Damien Joyner. "We are not criminals, and we shouldn't be treated as if we were," Joyner added.

"These events demonstrate that there is a fundamental problem with the way police treat individuals on the streets of Chicago," said Grossman. "Young, law-abiding men like Shani Davis and the Joyners should not be subjected to this humiliating, abusive behavior."

According to the ACLU of Illinois, 71% of those stopped by police in the Belmont district and 91% of those stopped in the Rogers Park district were black or Hispanic. "We believe that the effect of this is that it disparately impacts on young men of color," Grossman said.

13. Newsbrief: Bush to Nominate Woman Prosecutor to Head DEA

The White House announced on March 21 that President Bush will nominate Karen P. Tandy, head of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, to head the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). If approved, Tandy would replace acting DEA head John B. Brown III, a DEA administrator tapped to sit-in as agency head in January after former DEA chief Asa Hutchinson resigned to become Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security at the Department of Homeland Security.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement task force takes credit for prosecuting more than 44,000 people and seizing more than $3 billion in cash and goods from suspects since its inception in 1982.

Tandy, who, if confirmed, would be the first woman to head the drug-fighting agency, is a long-time prosecutor who has previously served as chief of litigation for the Justice Department's asset forfeiture program and as deputy chief for narcotics and dangerous drugs. She is currently a Deputy Associate Attorney General.

Tandy also has experience as an Assistant US Attorney in Virginia and Washington state, where she prosecuted drug, money laundering and asset forfeiture cases. She has also worked closely with the DEA, most recently in investigating a widely publicized pseudoephedrine smuggling operation operating between Canada and the US. Last year, the DEA's Detroit field office gave her a crystal plaque recognizing her "significant contributions and support."

14. Newsbrief: Silence on Pusherstrasse -- Christiania Drug Sellers Strike for Future of "Free City"

Reuters reported Wednesday that the legendary hash-sellers of Christiania, the Danish "free city" at a former Copenhagen army base, have gone on strike to protest government proposals to raze the three decade-old enclave.

"All trade has been stopped since this morning and we do not know how long this strike will take, maybe days, maybe months," said Pernilla Hansen of the Christiania Information Office. "We want to show the government that an open market for soft drugs is better than forcing people on to the streets where much harder stuff is sold illegally," she said.

Politicians from the center-right Liberal Party of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which has long loathed the hippies of Christiania and their open soft-drug market, are calling for the enclave to be demolished and replaced with an "urban renewal" project.

The dealers' strike is not a first in Christiania. In 1994, after a year of escalating conflict with police over open hash sales, Christiania vendors went on a five-day strike because "parliament doesn't have a grip on Danish drug policy," according to the official Christiania web site ( After media and ministerial attention was prompted by the strike, the police went away.

15. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story

What is it about Texas? The corrupt cop stories keep oozing out of the Lone Star state like toxic sludge from a Port Arthur petrochemical plant. In Texas, at least, the drug war is an equal opportunity corrupter. DRCNet has run numerous stories on the Tulia scandal and drug task forces run amok, and this feature has spotlighted crooked Rio Grande Valley police chiefs, the Dallas sheetrock scandal, larcenous sheriff's deputies, and rentable Customs agents.

Now the rot spreads to those sun-glassed men of the highway patrol, as former Department of Public Safety (DPS) veteran trooper and narcotics investigator Johnnie Davis begins serving a pair of 40-year prison sentences for robbing alleged drug dealers and keeping their goodies. Davis was arrested in a sting a year ago after suspicions grew that he was ripping off drug couriers on Texas highways. In the sting, Davis pulled over and attempted to rob an undercover agent posing as a courier. He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance, and on Monday District Judge Carol Davies sentenced him to 40 years on each count. He will not be eligible for parole for 20 years.

"You are an embarrassment to the pride of the brotherhood of police officers," said Davies after passing sentence. "Your conduct weakens public confidence in our entire criminal justice system."

16. Jobs at WOLA

The Washington Office on Latin America is hiring for two position, Senior Associate for the Andes and Program Assistant.

The Senior Associate for the Andes will to develop, coordinate and implement program work on US policy toward the Andean region of South America (including Venezuela), monitoring developments in US foreign policy toward the region, with a strong emphasis on US international drug control policy, and will provide leadership to the WOLA staff team working on drug policy and related issues. Activities will include engaging the US policymaking community, providing timely written analyses, developing media and public outreach strategies, and working in collaboration with counterpart organizations in the US, Europe and Latin America. S/he will have significant institutional and oversight responsibilities.

Responsibilities will include monitoring and producing analysis of US policy towards the Andean region and US international drug policy by maintaining contact with US and Andean policymakers, as well as US-based and local counterparts; developing and implementing advocacy and public education strategies, and playing a leadership role on Andean issues within the US-based NGO and human rights communities; preparing briefs, memos and articles for WOLA publications, and other written materials as appropriate; designing and coordinating WOLA's press work on the Andean region, including writing and production of press materials, editorial mailings and interviews with media outlets; representing WOLA in public forums and organizing conferences, seminars and other meetings as appropriate; participating actively in and providing leadership to the staff team working on WOLA's Drugs, Democracy and Human Rights Project; supervising interns, team assistant and other staff; coordinating visits of in-country colleagues to Washington, and developing and carrying out joint advocacy campaigns with WOLA's regional counterparts, including Peru's Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos; preparing planning documents and participating in WOLA's planning process; and carrying out other institutional responsibilities as determined by the executive director; and participating in fundraising efforts as determined by the executive director.

Strong analytical and writing skills are required. A demonstrated commitment to human rights work is required. Experience in political advocacy and US policy processes is strongly desired. Knowledge of Andean social and political reality and experience working or living in an Andean country is strongly desired. Knowledge of international drug policy is preferred. The candidate must be fluent in English and Spanish, and should have a master's degree and relevant work experience.

Salary is negotiable based on experience and qualifications, and includes excellent benefits. To apply, send a letter of application, résumé, names of three references with daytime telephone numbers, a brief writing sample, and indication of salary requirements to: Washington Office on Latin America, Attn: Senior Associate Search, 1630 Connecticut Ave, NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20009, fax to (202) 797-2172. No phone or e-mail inquiries, application deadline ASAP, start date May/June 2003.

WOLA is also seeking an administrative staff person to work with program staff covering the Andean region, Mexico, and US international drug control policy. S/he will coordinate the work of a four-person team in this fast-paced human rights organization working in Washington and Latin America. The position is for two years, subject to an evaluation at the end of the first three months, and will bring a committed individual into contact with the human rights, religious and foreign policy communities in Washington and Latin America. WOLA's Washington office has a paid staff of 16 plus six interns.

Responsibilities will include organizing, coordinating and staffing informal lunch talks, seminars, workshops, delegations and conferences; coordinating publication and distribution of reports, memos, press work and other materials; drafting correspondence; editing, proofreading and formatting documents; responding to information requests; transcribing seminar proceedings; maintaining contact with US-based and Latin American NGOs; monitoring congressional hearings and legislation; supervising interns who provide general office support, together with the Office Manager and other administrative staff; maintaining mailing lists and updating the web site; assisting associates with program work including congressional and press advocacy; and other duties depending on the Team needs and the Assistant's abilities.

Qualifications include a demonstrated commitment to human rights, democracy and social justice in Latin America. Human rights, political advocacy and/or Capitol Hill experience is preferred. Word processing and some office experience required. Knowledge of Word is preferred. Knowledge of desktop publishing and database management is helpful. Good initiative, with ability to accept supervision, delegate tasks to interns and learn office and organizational procedures is needed. Flexibility and the ability to work in a fast-paced office environment with a changing agenda, heavy influx of phone calls and international visitors is needed. Excellent organizational and administrative skills, follow-through and attention to detail are needed. Spanish is required; strong written and oral communication skills are required; BA and knowledge of Latin America is required.

Salary is $27,000 plus full health and dental insurance, with three weeks annual vacation. Time commitment is two years, subject to a favorable evaluation after the first three months. Extension is possible by mutual agreement. To apply , send a letter of application, a list of three references and a brief writing sample to: Program Assistant Search, WOLA, 1630 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009, fax to (202) 797-2172. No telephone inquiries. Applications must arrive by Friday, April 18. Preferred starting date July 1, 2003 (flexible).

Visit for information about WOLA.

17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

March 28, 7:00-10:00pm, Minneapolis, MN, "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War," exhibit and speaking engagement at the University of Minnesota. At Willey Hall, 225 19th Avenue S., exhibit from March 24-28, sponsored by NORML at the University of Minnesota, e-mail [email protected] or call Jason Samuels at (651) 247-8327 for further information.

March 28-29, Mestre (Venice), Italy, "Un'Alternative Realistica ed Efficace Alla 'War on Drugs' in Nomi Dei Diritti Umani," seminar preparing for the Vienna UN drug summit, in campaign to reform the international drug conventions. Sponsored by Forum Droghe, at Centro Culturale Santa Maria delle Grazie, on Via Poerio, visit for info.

March 30, 9:00am-5:00pm, Washington, DC, "The Washington Conference on Imprisonment in America." Sponsored by the Peace and Justice Foundation, with the Community Action and Social Justice Office (CASJ) of American University. At the AU School of Public Affairs, Ward Circle Building, e-mail [email protected] for directions and call (202) 246-0092 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

March 31, 7:00pm, Washington, DC "More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs, and America's War in Colombia," book talk with Human Rights Watch researcher Robin Kirk. At Olsson's Metro Center, 1200 F Street NW, cosponsored by HRW and Washington Office on Latin America, visit for further information.

April 1, noon-1:30pm, "Reducing Drug Use and Crime: Strategies That Work," forum at the Urban Institute, 2100 M Street, NW, 5th floor. Seating limited, lunch included, RSVP to (202) 261-5709 or [email protected].

April 3, 7:30pm, Madison, WI, "Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure," film presentation with question & answer with filmmakers Gerard Ungerman & Audrey Brohy. At Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., $8, call (608) 241-8633 for further information.

April 4, noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC "Campaigning for Peace in Colombia Amidst Increasing Violence," luncheon discussion with Ana Teresa Bernal, founder of REDEPAZ, Colombia's National Network of Initiatives for Peace and Against War. At NCCC Hamilton Conference Room, Suite 108, 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, RSVP to Pax International at (202) 543-4347 or [email protected].

April 4-6, Providence, RI, Medical Marijuana Symposium, organized by Brown University Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Contact [email protected] for further information.

April 4-6, New Orleans, LA, "Critical Resistance South Regional Conference and Strategy Session." Call Critical Resistance South at (504) 837-5348 or (866) 579-0885, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

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 8, 7:00pm, Houston, TX, Drug War Forum, featuring Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Houston NORML and the November Coalition. At Emerson Unitarian Church, 1900 Bering Drive, visit for info.

April 8, 8:00pm, Los Angeles, CA, "High Hopes," medical marijuana benefit comedy show. At the Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., benefiting the Inglewood Wellness Center and the Ed Rosenthal Defense Fund. Admission $20, cash at the door or by credit card at online. Doors open 7:00pm, contact Howard Dover Productions at (323) 253-3472 or [email protected] or visit for further information.

April 10, 6:00-8:00pm, "Murder: The 'Real Thing' in Colombia," forum with Javier Correa, president of SINALTRAINAL, the national food and beverage workers union, which organizes Colombian Coca-Cola workers. At Kay Spiritual Life Center, American University, Ward Circle, call Lesley Gill at (202) 885-1833 for directions or further information.

April 10, 6:30pm, Austin, TX, Drug War Forum, followed by a social hour at 8:30, with the Drug Policy Forum of Texas and the November Coalition, featuring Ann del Llano, Texas ACLU Criminal Justice Liaison and co-coordinator of the Police Accountability Project. At Trinity United Methodist Church, 600 E. 50th Street, visit for info.

April 10-13, Vienna, Austria, "Alternative Summit on Drugs," coinciding with the UN drug summit, visit for further information.

April 12-13, Chicago, IL, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Midwestern Conference. At Loyola University, contact Matt Atwood at [email protected] or visit for info.

April 13, 12:30pm, Dallas, TX, Drug War Forum, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, 4015 Normandy, visit for info.

April 15, 9:00am-6:00pm, New York, NY, "Current Trends in Drug Policy Reform," symposium by NYU School of Law Student Drug Policy Forum. Panels on collateral consequences of the drug war, alternatives to incarceration and enforcement, and impact of federal law, featuring law professors, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and other criminal justice experts. At Greenberg Lounge, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South, contact Adam Bier at adam.bier at for further information.

April 17-19, San Francisco, CA, "Back to Basics: Stop Arresting Marijuana Smokers," 2003 NORML Conference. At the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center, registration $150 or $100 for students. Call 888-67-NORML, e-mail [email protected] or visit for information.

April 22, 6:30-8:30pm, Berkeley, CA, "What D.A.R.E. Didn't Teach You: from Absolut to Zima," evening of education on alcohol. At the Drug Resource Center, UC Berkeley, cosponsored by University Health Services and the US Department of Education, contact Scarlett Swerdlow at [email protected] for information.

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

May 3-5, many cities worldwide, "Million Marijuana March." Visit for local contact info.

May 8, 10:00am-evening, New York, NY, "Educate Don't Incarcerate," youth demonstration on the 30th anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. March from Rockefeller Center to Gov. Pataki's office, noon rally in front of Gov. Pataki's office, 4:00pm youth speak out, party to follow. Call (718) 838-7881, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

May 26-28, Wellington, New Zealand, 4th International Conference on Drugs and Young People. At the Wellington Convention Centre, call +61 (03) 9278 8101 or +61 (03) 9278 8137, e-mail [email protected] or visit for information.

June 1-13, Witness For Peace Drug Policy Delegation to Colombia. Contact Alex Volberding at [email protected] or visit for info.

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

August 16-17, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, "12th Annual Seattle Hempfest." At Myrtle Edwards Park, call (206) 781-5734 or visit for further 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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