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

Issue #290, 6/6/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: Courage and Perseverance
  2. Thousands Rally in NYC to Demand Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws
  3. Medical Marijuana Cultivator Rosenthal Sentenced to One Day, Plus Probation
  4. DEA Uses RAVE Act Threats to Block Montana NORML/SSDP Benefit
  5. Dems on Drugs: The Presidential Contenders and Their Drug Policies
  6. In a Strong Reversal, Congress Prohibits Drug Czar from Running Ads Against Ballot Measures and Candidates
  7. Newsbrief: Texas Governor Signs Bill Freeing Tulia 14
  8. Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform -- No in Oklahoma
  9. Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform -- Yes in Missouri
  10. Newsbrief: Feds Reject MPP Complaint Against Drug Czar
  11. Newsbrief: The Next Prohibition? Surgeon General Supports Banning Tobacco
  12. Newsbrief: Belgian Marijuana Decriminalization Now in Effect
  13. Newsbrief: DEA Can't Kidnap People in Other Countries, Federal Court Rules
  14. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


David Borden

1. Editorial: Courage and Perseverance

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 6/6/03

One of the moral charges leveled by campaigners against New York state's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws is that the typically young, typically minority men and women whom the laws take, typically from New York City, are then sent up New York state's rivers to serve their years or decades in prisons located far from their families, providing government employment and economic activity to the typically white residents of those upstate communities. On a drive to a meeting near Albany last Monday, it was inevitable I would encounter highway signs offering directions to one or more of the state's many prisons that warehouse Rockefeller's victims. And so I did -- a sobering reminder of the reasons we in the drug reform movement do what we do.

It is fitting, then, that the other reason I came to New York was for Wednesday's historic "hip-hop" rally to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Promises of a celebrity-led event that would dramatically expand the coalition opposing the laws did not disappoint; it was exciting to see the reform stalwarts of New York Mothers of the Disappeared share the stage with literally dozens of famous and impressive allies from the worlds of entertainment and politics and civil rights.

But even this larger coalition has its work cut out for it. The upstate/downstate schism is not only one more morally repulsive aspect of the Rockefeller laws; it is also a principle difficulty the effort to repeal them faces. New York City-area politicians on their own are more than ready to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. But many of their colleagues upstate rely on the votes of constituents who have become economically dependent on the work that the prisons, and hence the prisoners, provide them. For an upstate legislator, a vote for repeal may be seen as a vote to lose his or her district jobs, at least in the short term -- and in politics the short term is what determines whether you keep your job or lose it.

But that doesn't mean it can't be done. Though in politics, right doesn't always equal might, the rightness of a cause can and will build political might, if its proponents show perseverance and courage and continue to speak the truth until they prevail. The movement to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws has succeeded in a huge way in bringing attention to a terrible injustice. Ultimately, no economic vested interest will stand against the knowledge of that awful reality.

The same holds true for the rest of drug policy reform. We who oppose not only the Rockefeller Drug Laws but the incarceration of half a million nonviolent drug offenders nationwide also have truth and right as our allies. So do we who oppose the drug war as a whole, and so do we who go the furthest and call for an end to drug prohibition itself. Our struggle may take longer, but if we have the courage to speak the truth, it will not be infinite. Truth and justice will prevail, if those who value them persevere.

2. Thousands Rally in NYC to Demand Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws

Pressure mounted on New York's political establishment to repeal the state's draconian Rockefeller as a coalition energized by the enlistment of hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons and his Hip-Hop Action Summit Network ( brought thousands of demonstrators into the streets of lower Manhattan on a rainy day to demand that the laws be repealed. At the same time, tensions emerged between those set on outright repeal of the laws and those seeking to broker a compromise between New York Assembly leader Sheldon Silver (D) and Gov. George Pataki (R), both of whom have introduced proposals that would reform but not repeal those laws. Under the Rockefeller laws, thousands of New Yorkers are serving stiff 15-year minimum sentences for possession of as little as two ounces of illegal drugs or sales of as little as four ounces.

Groups like the Mothers of the Disappeared and the Drop the Rock Coalition, which have struggled in the shadows for years, were joined by a star-studded line-up as politician after politician and celebrity after celebrity took the stage to denounce the Rockefeller laws as unjust and antiquated. The rally, which lasted at least three hours and may have been the first drug reform event to have commercial sponsorship (the name of a financial services provider flashed across the video display periodically), featured speakers ranging from rap stars P. Diddy, 50 Cent, Sean (Puffy) Combs, Jay-Z, Fat Joe, Rev. Run of Run DMC, self-described "old-school" rapper Grand Master Flash, civil rights leaders Benjamin Chavis and representatives of the National Urban League and NAACP, actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, half of the New York City Council, members of the New York State Assembly, pop diva Mariah Carey, one of Gov. Rockefeller's granddaughters, and many, many others.

Russell Simmons, who along with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and Mothers of the Disappeared coordinated the rally, called for outright repeal of the Rockefeller laws. "The Rockefeller Drug Laws WILL be repealed and thousands of people who are unjustly in prison or are in prison for too long will be re-sentenced and will come home," he vowed. "Other people will be deferred to treatment much quicker. No one will get the kind of sentences they're getting right now."

"There are a lot of people in the coalition who want to see change," Simmons continued. "But nothing happens without the power of the people, and your power is the reason the Governor, the State Senators and the State Assembly are at work today. They're working today to prioritize this issue because YOU SAID SO." So remember, that none of this could happen without all you mothers and all you kids and all the members of the hip-hop community. Remember your power."

Hip hop performer Busta Rhymes was in fine form, busting rhymes all over the governor's head. "Governor Pataki, you kinda wacky, homeboy," Rhymes orated. "On the real, at the end of the day, it's a whole lot more cost effective to help save and preserve as opposed to condemn and penalize."

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch also joined the rally. "When you have a young kid who hasn't hardly done anything and gets locked up for 15 years, when he gets out after 15 years, he has a whole different attitude on life," said Yauch, who last emerged to support Tibetan liberation struggles. "Ultimately that's going to affect our whole society. Martin Luther King once said that you are what you are supposed to be, I can't be what I'm supposed to be," he added.

This year's version of the bad boy rapper, 50 Cent, put in his four bits worth as well. "They've got these Rockefeller drug laws that sentence our brothers and our people to more time than is just," the controversial performer told a cheering crowd. "I've got lots of friends and family in jail behind that law. I had to come out today to support the repeal of the Laws. I'm not used to speaking at events like this but I'll come out and try to do as much as I can."

But it wasn't all homeboy flava and hip hop beats Wednesday, ex-prisoners such as Anthony Papa ( and family members of those still rotting away behind bars sobered the crowd with stories of the suffering endured. National drug reform leaders also addressed the rally.

"Greetings from the land of hypocrisy," announced Shawn Heller, national director of the Washington, DC-based Students for Sensible Drug Policy, as he help up a t-shirt showing President Bush snorting lines of cocaine, "and here's the biggest hypocrite of all. We are the D.A.R.E. generation," he told the crowd, "and these laws were made in our name. I'm here to tell you we do not want these laws. The Rockefeller laws must go." Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann proclaimed that repealing the Rockefeller Drug Laws was "only the beginning," drawing attention to the half a million prisoners nationwide incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

The multitudinous protest rally came amidst renewed negotiations among Senate Republicans, Assembly Democrats and Governor Pataki to reach a compromise based on competing existing proposals -- none of which would repeal the laws, only modify them. Russell Simmons, along with Deborah Small, director of public policy and outreach for Drug Policy Alliance, joined those negotiations in a Tuesday meeting with Pataki -- a move that has some repeal advocates concerned. Although Simmons called for repeal from the stage on Wednesday, he himself muddied the issue a day earlier by telling the New York Times "repeal or reform, I think, are semantics, but there will be dramatic change."

Simmons' advisor, DPA's Small, caused further worry among repeal advocates by telling the Times she was trying to reach a compromise among the existing reform proposals. "We discussed the differences, and we tried to present to the governor what we thought represented a middle ground," Small said. DPA is hoping to see a bill pass this month that would reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, apply that relief retroactively to prisoners still in the system, and shift control over who decides which offenders qualify for drug treatment away from prosecutors and back to judges.

That's not quite what Randy Credico of Mothers of the Disappeared and the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Social Justice ( was looking for. "Accepting a compromise now would be like signing the Versailles treaty," he told DRCNet. (For the historically challenged, Versailles was a treaty forced upon the defeated Germans after World War I, which some believe paved the way for World War II.) "We've been working for repeal for years, but now the prospects for killing the movement are very good. Who's going to carry the signs, who's going to do the grunt work, once some small bill gets through?" he asked.

Robert Gangi of Drop the Rock member the Correctional Association of New York ( was also worried. "We're part of Drop the Rock," he told DRCNet, "not split the rock or drop half the rock. We are concerned that there is a spirit afoot that any deal is better than no deal. We don't agree," he said. "We have tremendous respect for the people involved in negotiating with Russell Simmons, but we are concerned about the possible outcome."

While outright repeal of the Rockefeller laws appears to be a dead letter this year, time is also running out for any compromise in Albany. As Pataki and the legislature squabble over judicial discretion in sentencing for the third year in a row, the legislative clock is ticking. The session ends this month. And while that would mean no relief yet for imprisoned Rockefeller law victims, at least some activists would rather wait another year and hope to get it all than settle for cosmetic changes now.

"We got the ball down to the five-yard line and gave them four downs, and they chose to kick a field goal," said Credico of reformers seeking a compromise. Credico used equally strong language while addressing the rally: "We're not trying to reform slavery, we're trying to abolish it."

3. Medical Marijuana Cultivator Rosenthal Sentenced to One Day, Plus Probation

In a public slap in the face to the US Justice Department's jihad against medical marijuana, US District Court Judge Charles Breyer refused to send convicted marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal to prison Wednesday. Rosenthal faced up to 60 years after a federal court jury found him guilty on federal cultivation and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors asked for a five-year sentence, but Breyer sentenced Rosenthal to one day in jail, with credit for time served, and Rosenthal walked out of the federal courthouse in San Francisco a free man. Or almost -- he must also serve three years of federal probation.

"The unique, extraordinary circumstances of this case" influenced his decision, Breyer told the courtroom. Those circumstances include not only the clash between California and federal medical marijuana law, but also the huge public outcry generated by Rosenthal's arrest and conviction.

While Rosenthal has vowed to appeal his conviction, and prosecutors could attempt to appeal Breyer's light sentence -- a dramatic downward departure from federal sentencing guidelines -- Rosenthal's court appearance Wednesday marked the culmination of a case that has inflamed the medical marijuana community in California and focused a national and international media spotlight on the Bush administration's rigid insistence on destroying the medical marijuana movement. In the last two years, Attorney General John Ashcroft has repeatedly sent DEA raiders into California to arrest medical marijuana providers and patients. At least four providers have been sentenced to federal prison, and more cases are pending.

But Bush, Ashcroft and the DEA have paid a price in public scorn and repudiation for their attacks on medical marijuana. Editorializing about the Rosenthal case this weekend, the New York Times called the verdict against him "a miscarriage of justice" and urged leniency. Even California's highest law enforcement official, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, joined the chorus, feeling the need to remind Breyer prior to sentencing that Rosenthal had acted in accordance with California law. Even worse for the administration in public relations terms was the reaction of the jurors who convicted Rosenthal after Judge Breyer refused to let him use the California medical marijuana law in his defense. Upon hearing the rest of the story after finding Rosenthal guilty, nine of the jurors publicly denounced their verdict as a travesty of justice. They also publicly urged Breyer to be lenient in sentencing Rosenthal.

A jubilant and combative Rosenthal emerged from the courthouse to cheers and thunderous applause from a crowd of sign-waving supporters outside. "I take responsibility for my actions that bring me here today," he said. "I took those actions because my conscience led me to help people who are suffering. This law is doomed," Rosenthal proclaimed. "This is day one in the crusade to bring down the marijuana laws, all the marijuana laws."

Marijuana reform groups were quick to claim victory. "This is a marvelous victory for Ed and arguably for states rights," said the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's ( Alan St. Pierre. "It is certainly a victory for the larger concept of medical marijuana," he told DRCNet.

"When a jury publicly rejects its own verdict, and a federal judge subverts Congress' system of mandatory minimum sentences to let a marijuana grower go free, it is clear we have reached a turning point," said Marijuana Policy Project Project ( executive director Rob Kampia. "Today marks the beginning of the end of the federal war on medical marijuana patients."

And while some wondered whether Breyer's sentence would deprive the movement of a martyr or take the wind out of its sails, Hilary McQuie of Americans for Safe Access ( was having none of that. "We have enough martyrs already," she said. "I don't want people going to jail. And Ed is an energetic, charismatic public figure. With Ed out of prison, he'll provide plenty of wind for our sails," she told DRCNet.

ASA mounted a major campaign to free Rosenthal through a combination of aggressive tactics and delicate networking. "Public pressure is critical," said McQuie. "Organizing is critical. Attorney General Lockyer didn't decide to write that letter by himself. We asked him to. All of the pressure on Breyer came because ASA and other groups and individuals did a lot of organizing. Breyer felt the public pressure, he sought the path of least resistance, and we cut that path leading to Ed going home this week."

While victory, even a qualified one, is sweet, the battle is far from over. More federal prosecutions of California medical marijuana patients and providers are in the pipeline. The next trial scheduled is that of San Bernadino County patients and growers Anna and Gary Barrett, who were indicted on federal charges days after a state court judge threw out state charges, finding they were protected under the state's Compassionate Use Act. Their trial date is set for July 22.

"ASA will bring all the resources and energy we can to southern California for the Barrett trial," said McQuie. "We'll do what we can, but we're calling for the Los Angeles activist base to come together around this."

4. DEA Uses RAVE Act Threats to Block Montana NORML/SSDP Benefit

An agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used threats of RAVE Act prosecutions to intimidate the owners of a Billings, Montana, venue into a canceling a combined benefit for the Montana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( and Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( last week.

The RAVE Act, now known officially as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, championed by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), was ostensibly aimed at so-called raves, the large electronic music concerts often associated with open drug use, but was so broadly written that opponents argued it could be applied against any event or venue where owners or organizers did not take sufficiently repressive steps to prevent drug use. Opposition to the bill stalled it in the Senate last year, but this year Biden stealthily inserted it into the enormously popular Amber Alert Bill, which passed last month and was signed into law by President Bush.

While the Billings event was advertised as a benefit concert for two local groups interested in drug law reform -- not as a drug-taking orgy -- it still attracted the attention of the DEA. On May 30, the day the event was set to take place, a Billings-based DEA agent showed up at the Eagle Lodge, which had booked the concert. Waving a copy of the RAVE Act in one hand, the agent warned that the lodge could face a fine of $250,000 if someone smoked a joint during the benefit, according to Eagle Lodge manager Kelly, who asked that her last name not be used.

"He freaked me out," Kelly told DRCNet. "He didn't tell us we couldn't have the event, but he showed me the law and told us what could happen if we did. I talked to our trustees, they talked to our lawyers, and our lawyers said not to risk it, so we canceled," she said. "I felt bad. I knew the guys in the bands."

Primary event organizer Adam Jones was unavailable for comment, having been arrested and jailed by his probation officer for switching work-study jobs at Montana State University-Billings without first informing him. He is on probation for possession of psychedelic mushrooms. It has been speculated, but not yet confirmed, that the probation officer, described in unprintable terms by several local sources, was responsible for siccing the DEA on the benefit.

"The DEA guy kept talking about Adam Jones," Kelly said. Jones apparently got the hint. In a message relayed from jail, Jones announced that we was resigning from SSDP and NORML and foregoing further drug reform efforts until he is free from the clutches of the state. That probably spells the temporary demise of Teachers Against Prohibition (, a group that education major Jones founded after having run smack up against drug war reality with his arrest (

DEA Denver regional office spokesman Bill Wyman confirmed to DRCNet that an agent had visited the Eagle Lodge to warn of possible RAVE Act violations and their consequences, but deferred a more detailed response to Special Agent in Charge Jeff Sweet, whom Wyman promised would call back shortly. We're stilling waiting for that call.

"This confirms all our fears about the RAVE Act," said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance (, which spearheaded opposition to the bill, succeeding in blocking it last year. "This isn't about drug parties or raves, it's about having a club to hold over people's heads, whether its hemp festivals, circuit parties, dances, whatever. The RAVE Act is being used to suppress political speech. This is exactly what Sen. Biden said would not happen, and now it's happening," he told DRCNet.

Biden's office did not respond to repeated DRCNet inquiries about whether the Montana intimidation effort was what he intended the act to accomplish. But Biden wasn't alone in his silence. None of the three members of the Montana congressional delegation, Sens. Max Baucus (D) and Conrad Burns (R), and Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R), responded to DRCNet inquiries either.

Other national drug reform organizations also expressed shock and outrage. "This looks like the first application of the RAVE Act, and this is a very scary precedent, said NORML Foundation head Allen St. Pierre. "Preemptively shutting down a First Amendment-protected event is something that just doesn't happen in America," he told DRCNet. "This is absolutely what we feared and predicted would happen if the RAVE Act passed. Isn't Montana known for being resistant to federal encroachment? This should make them mighty uneasy."

"This is just more evidence that the current administration is engaged in a culture war targeting medical marijuana patients, glass blowers, festival goers and young people," said SSDP national director Shawn Heller.

"Wow," said Marijuana Policy Project communications director Bruce Mirken. "This appears to be a clear violation of the purpose and intent of the law. The RAVE Act's sponsors said repeatedly it was to crack down on people knowingly allowing open drug use," he told DRCNet. "To use it to crack down on reform organizations is an outrageous First Amendment violation. If laws, no matter how wrongheaded, aimed at drug use and distribution are used to intimidate efforts to discuss reform or raise money for reform, we are getting really Orwellian. I really hope the folks up there sue and sue hard."

Montana activists are also worried but undaunted. Missoula Hempfest organizer and Montana NORML spokesman John Masterson told DRCNet the threat of RAVE Act prosecutions was being carefully considered. "The Hempfest committee just spent most of our last meeting talking about this," he said. "We have more than 5,000 people each year in a Missoula city park. Is the DEA going to come after the city? We are meeting with local attorneys to discuss this, but we're not talking about canceling Hempfest. Screw that."

And the drug reformers are mobilizing. A conference call among NORML, SSDP, MPP, Montana NORML and the Montana ACLU was set for Thursday night or this morning. "We may have a coalition up to fight this by the end of the day," St. Pierre said Thursday. "The Drug Policy Alliance warned us the RAVE Act would be used to suppress free speech, and they haven't been proven wrong. Looks like we have our first case."

5. Dems on Drugs: The Presidential Contenders and Their Drug Policies

With the November 2004 presidential election now less than 18 months away, potential Democratic challengers to President Bush are emerging from their lairs, sniffing the wind and trying to plot a course that will take them to their party's nomination. As they tack left or veer right in search of winning issues, staking out positions they hope will win them votes, the candidates will have to move beyond such bold stands as being for homeland security and the family and against terrorism. For drug reformers, of course, the question is where do they stand on drug policy?

This week, DRCNet looks at the records and the platforms of the nine announced Democratic contenders. For those seeking a refuge from reflex drug war and law and order rhetoric, there is not much positive there. While one candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), has presented a startlingly progressive drug policy platform -- the most progressive ever articulated by a serious major party candidate -- several others are more or less notorious drug warriors, while some have had little at all to say on the issue. What is especially striking is how far out of the political limelight drugs and drug policy have fallen, at least in the eyes of the Democratic pack. None, except Kucinich, make drug policy an important plank in their platforms, and several don't even list crime in general among their key issues.

According to the conventional wisdom, the strongest candidates at this stage are Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former House Minority Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, and good-looking but largely untested junior North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Kucinich and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean form a second tier, along with Florida Sen. Bob Graham and New York black activist Rev. Al Sharpton, while former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun is viewed as an "any black candidate but Sharpton" contender.

Drug reform groups are busy plotting how best to influence the Democratic challengers and take advantage of the campaign to advance the reform agenda. Next week, DRCNet will look at the reform movement's thinking. This week, it's on to the candidates.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean ( makes no mention of drugs or crime as key issues on his website. But an earlier version of his web site -- reproduced at -- contains the following illuminating Q&A:

Q: I was wondering what your drug policies are?

A: I am in favor of really hammering dealers. You know they are merchants of death and destruction and misery. I believe the rest of the drug problem -- the casual users -- is a public health problem, not a criminal problem, and we ought to approach it using a medical model.

I particularly like something we're starting to experiment with in Vermont and which is further along in some states which is drug courts where when drugs are the problem the court has wide discretion to sentence people to rehabilitation. As a physician -- I was trained as a physician -- you know, sentencing people to rehabilitation when they quote-unquote didn't want to go was something that you didn't do, but you know now I think the drug problem is so serious that it's smarter frankly to send casual users of serious drugs to rehab rather than jail. And it's cheaper in the long run. Even though they will fail rehabilitation three or four or five times, that's what you have to understand about substance abusers. From a medical point of view, as a physician, and also as a governor, I think we ought to treat drug abuse a public health problem.

I'm not in favor of decriminalizing drugs. The reason is it sends a very bad message I think to young people, we already have a serious problem with the drugs that are legal, alcohol and tobacco, and adding a third drug, a series of drugs, is not a good idea. But I do think we ought to use a medical model and not a criminal model for most cases.

Dean is also notorious among drug reformers for opposing medical marijuana legislation in Vermont and for his opposition to methadone maintenance programs. Dean has repeatedly said that he would reconsider medical marijuana if the Food and Drug Adminstration were to declare it safe and effective. In other words, as the Rutland Herald noted last year, Dean would support medical marijuana "when pigs fly."

On the other hand, as Vermont governor, Dean supported successful 1999 legislation establishing needle exchange programs in the state. But neither he nor his successor has encouraged the legislature to fund the two existing programs.

Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (, a Marijuana Policy Project web site that rates candidates on their stands on medical marijuana, gave Dean an "F+," the lowest grade given to any Democratic candidate (but still half a grade better than it scored President Bush).

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards ( includes "fighting crime" as part of his agenda and record, but makes no direct mention of drugs or drug policy. In his crime platform, Edwards supports increasing the number of police officers on the beat, "holding parole violators accountable," and increasing penalties for drunk driving. He calls for increases in spending for parole and probation and spending on programs that assist just-released prisoners in order to avoid repeat offending.

Edwards has generally avoided the issue of drug policy, though in a speech last year at Georgetown University he called for more frequent drug testing of the more than 4 million Americans on parole or probation. Punishment for those caught using should be "swift and automatic," he said. In that same speech, he called state prison early-release programs "a festering problem."

During that same speech, a student asked Edwards about the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision. Should it be repealed? the student asked. "I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head," Edwards said. "I'll have to think about that."

But there is no indication he has. He has thought about medical marijuana, however, especially as he campaigned in California last week. On May 29, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I wouldn't change the [marijuana] law now, but I would set up a committee to see if pain relief is different with marijuana." And he approves of the current raids in California. "It's the job of the Justice Department to enforce the law as it presently exists," said Edwards. He has pledged to keep an open mind and listen to opposing views on the issue. Edwards earned a "D" grade from Granite Staters.

Rep. Richard Gephardt ( does not list crime or drugs among his key issues, although in his February 19 speech announcing his candidacy he pledged, among other things, to keep up a strong defense against "manifold new dangers from global terror, to the recklessness of rogue dictators like Saddam Hussein, to international crime and drug-running that rips at the very fabric of freedom."

Similarly, very little about Gephardt shows up in any drug policy archives. A supporter of federal asset forfeiture reform in 1999, he vowed to attempt to fix loopholes in that law but apparently forgot about it. Gephardt has no public record of statements on medical marijuana, although he joined an overwhelming majority in voting for a House resolution condemning it in 1998.

Gephardt earned a "D" grade from Granite Staters.

Former Florida governor and current Senator Bob Graham ( has staked out a hard-line drug- and crime-fighting platform. In his position statement on criminal justice issues, Graham brags that he is a fervent supporter of police, judges, and prosecutors in their fight against crime. He proudly claims credit for a "pioneering state-federal partnership to confront illegal drug smuggling and immigration" and pushing through Florida's "first minimum-mandatory sentencing law for drug smugglers," as well as reinstituting the death penalty in the state.

When it comes to his federal anti-drug activity, Graham's accomplishments speak for themselves: "In Washington, Graham has been a leader in beefing up the federal government's role in the fight against illegal drugs, including passing the death penalty for drug kingpins, creating a new High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, expanding the Defense Department's involvement in counter narcotics programs, targeting funds for drug eradication and crop substitution in Latin America, and criminalizing the deadly club drug Ecstasy," his position paper notes. "In addition to stiffening penalties for its production and possession, he has obtained more than $5 million to educate young people about the dangers of Ecstasy. If elected, Graham promises to provide "assistance to states so they can build new prisons."

Regarding medical marijuana, ABC News reported in February that "Graham does not support legalizing marijuana. His spokeswoman said he hasn't taken a position on whether states should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes, though she said Graham 'generally disfavors' federal preemption of state law."

Graham's hint at a states' rights position earned him a "C-" from Granite Staters.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry ( appears to be playing both sides of the drug policy fence in his position statement on "Stopping Crime and Guaranteeing Homeland Security." While he calls for expanded funding of drug treatment and prevention and decries racial profiling, he is quick to point out that he is a former prosecutor in favor of "tough laws" and "an early advocate of laws that cracked down on international drug dealers and money laundering."

Author of the federal Community Oriented Policing System (COPS) act that paid for an additional 100,000 police officers, Kerry burnishes his law-and-order and anti-drug credentials even more with his paragraph on fighting illegal drugs. "In order to deal with the problem of illegal drugs in this country, efforts must be focused on keeping drugs out of the country and our communities, as well as reducing demand for illegal drugs," he writes. "John Kerry supports aggressively targeting traffickers and dealers, as well as making a commitment to sufficiently fund drug prevention and treatment programs."

Kerry made a name for himself in the 1980s investigating the contra-cocaine connection that developed out of the covert US military intervention against Sandinista Nicaragua, but has been a supporter of the US military intervention in Colombia. That's not necessarily a contradiction, because if there's one thing Kerry is against, it's drug trafficking. He elaborated on that theme in his 1997 book, "The New War: The Web of Crime That Threatens America's Security, which included the following blurb from drug reform nemesis Joe Califano: "A riveting and penetrating look at the number one problem in international crime -- illicit drugs." Among other things, "The New War" called for expanding US-style asset forfeiture and surveillance to other countries.

Kerry himself makes clear in the book that under a Kerry presidency, the war on drugs will finally get serious. "The most serious task of all, however, remains our alone. The reason is clear. The greatest deficit in our fight against crime is our demand for drugs. Almost 70 percent of all our crime is drug related. Put simply: We are not losing the war on drugs -- we have yet to fight a war!"

Kerry angered drug reformers in 1994 by attacking Colombian prosecutor general Gustavo de Greiff for his pro-legalization stand in the wake of his nation's bout with drug lord Pablo Escobar ( More recently Kerry disappointed reform-minded Bay Staters who had written him asking his support for repealing the drug provision of the Higher Education Act; Kerry wrote back expressing his support for keeping the drug provision.

Kerry receives a "C" grade on medical marijuana from Granite Staters, primarily because he's done or said nothing one way or the other.

Former Cleveland mayor and US Rep. Dennis Kucinich ( was the first candidate to endorse medical marijuana -- despite voting against it in 1998 -- and his drug policy platform, drafted with assistance from Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access ( and Mike Gray of Common Sense for Drug Policy (, is the boldest critique of drug war orthodoxy ever heard in presidential campaign circles. It is worth reproducing in its entirety:

A safe, free and just America is undermined, not bolstered, by the costly and ineffective War on Drugs. While well-intentioned, this misguided policy -- which emphasizes criminalization over treatment -- has led to increased violent crime, misdirected resources of law enforcement and restricted Constitutional liberties.

Despite billions spent yearly on the drug war, addiction is up. Our country must rethink a policy that produces many casualties but benefits only the prison-industrial complex. Nonviolent drug offenders often receive Draconian sentences, tearing apart families.

Racial bias in the enforcement of drug laws is pervasive. According to a Human Rights Watch report based on FBI statistics, blacks were arrested on drug charges at nearly five times the rate of whites. Drug use is consistent across racial and socioeconomic lines -- yet in the state of New York, for example, 94 percent of incarcerated drug offenders are Latino or African-American, mostly from poor communities.

Countries in Europe and elsewhere are turning away from failed policies. They are treating addiction as a medical problem and are seeing significant reductions in crime and violence -- with fewer young people becoming involved with addictive drugs in the first place. In our country, due to misplaced priorities and resources, only one bed exists for every ten people who apply for drug treatment. Addiction is a medical and moral problem that should be treated by professionals, not dumped on the criminal justice system.

Most Americans believe that medical marijuana should be available to help relieve the suffering of seriously ill patients, and eight states have passed laws to allow it. But the Bush administration has harassed medical marijuana patients in an effort to assert federal authority. This is another aspect of the drug war that should be ended.

Kucinich wins the only "A" for medical marijuana from Granite Staters.

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman ( does not list drug policy or crime among his issues of concern, but uses his civil rights plank to oppose racial profiling and note his co-sponsorship of a bill requiring data collection on the practice "as a first step to stopping it." He also emphasizes his history of "fighting for voting rights," but makes no mention of restoring voting rights to felons who have served their sentences. In his health plank, he touts his sponsorship of a bill that would require parity in the insurance coverage of physical and mental disorders, a move that could lead to increased access to treatment for drug abusers.

Lieberman has been a strong, consistent supporter of the US military intervention in Colombia, apparently for a combination of mercenary and ideological reasons. Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky is based in Connecticut; it won big contracts to supply choppers to Colombia. Lieberman publicly acknowledged that voting for more Colombia aid would be "good for Sikorsky."

Lieberman also supported a 1998 Senate resolution condemning efforts to legalize medical marijuana, a move that earned him a "D-" from Granite Staters.

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun's web site ( contains nothing about her positions on drug policy or crime issues. That is much in keeping with her record as a one-term senator who didn't do much of anything. Moseley-Braun did write to a constituent in 1994 that she supported decriminalizing marijuana and wrote in Parade magazine in 1996 she suggested "decriminalizing all but wholesale distribution" of all drugs. But she never acted on those words.

She received a "?" from the perplexed people at Granite Staters.

New York activist Al Sharpton ( has not yet gotten around to releasing any position papers or issue statements, although he does warn that individual liberties, the system of checks and balances, and the separation of powers are all "in danger" and "now is the time to rediscover the Constitution."

Sharpton, who has never held elected office, comes out of a background of controversial black activism in New York state. As a black activist he has been an increasingly fervent critic of the New York Rockefeller laws, police abuses related to the war on drugs, and mandatory minimum sentences. Sharpton harshly attacked then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York City prosecutors over the police killing of Patrick Dorismond. Sharpton also lent support to the 2000 Millenium Marijuana March.

In recent weeks, Sharpton has led the chorus of critics over the death of Alberta Spruill, who died of heart failure after her home was mistakenly raided by an NYPD drug squad, and has stepped up his criticism of the Rockefeller drug laws.

Sharpton received a grade of "I" for incomplete from Granite Staters, which suspects he would support medical marijuana, but notes that he has never said a word about it.

6. In a Strong Reversal, Congress Prohibits Drug Czar from Running Ads Against Ballot Measures and Candidates

(press release from Drug Policy Alliance,

In a surprising vote, the House Government Reform Committee voted to turn-back sweeping anti-drug measures that a House Subcommittee had approved just weeks ago. If enacted, the anti-drug measures would have, among other things, spent millions of dollars in local and state law-enforcement funding to arrest AIDS and cancer patients that smoked marijuana for medicinal reasons and given the Bush White House the unprecedented ability to spend over a billion dollars in taxpayer money to try to defeat medical marijuana ballot measures and pro-reform candidates for public office. Committee Members not only repealed these provisions, they passed many other important drug policy reforms.

"This is a major victory for the majority of Americans that favor a more compassionate and less expensive national drug policy," said Bill Piper, Associate Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Members of this committee should be thanked for working to ensure that federal bureaucrats don't use taxpayer money to tell taxpayers how to vote, that states that adopt medical marijuana laws are not financially punished, and that former drug offenders are not denied student loans."

The bill under question, the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2003, was ultimately approved by the Committee with significant changes. If enacted by the House and Senate, it would renew the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the so-called drug czar's office) for five more years as well as continue the office's billion dollar anti-drug advertising program.

The House Government Reform Committee:

  • Repealed provisions allowing Drug Czar John Walters and the Bush White House to spend up to $195 millions a year in taxpayer money to defeat medical marijuana ballot measures and pro-reform candidates;
  • Added new provisions prohibiting the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign from ever being used to defeat pro-reform candidates, legislation, regulations or ballot measures;
  • Eliminated provisions allowing the drug czar's office to run anti-drug ads without telling voters the ads were paid for by the government;
  • Restored requirements that anti-drug ads include specific information on prevention or treatment resources for viewers within specific local areas;
  • Repealed provisions allowing the drug czar to divert millions of dollars away from local and state law-enforcement agencies to federal agencies to arrest medical marijuana patients and their caregivers; and
  • Supported a provision requiring the Drug Czar to decertify the federal budget if the Department of Education blocks school loans and grants to certain former drug offenders.
Although very important, drug policy experts believe the Committee's reforms do not go far enough. For example, the reform of the ban on providing people convicted of drug offenses with financial aid still leaves tens of thousands of poor and middle-class Americans without the ability to go to college, if their offenses occurred while they were in school receiving financial aid. However, it was the first ever rollback of the controversial program blocking aid to students who received drug convictions. Drug Policy Alliance thanked Representatives Mark Souder (R-IN) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for the step but also vowed to continue fighting for full repeal.

Recent rulings by the US Office of Special Counsel indicate that the Committee's attempt to reign in the power of the drug czar to lobby and campaign at taxpayer expense doesn't go far enough. The US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently ruled that the Hatch Act, a federal law designed to keep federal officials from campaigning at taxpayer expense, does not apply to ballot measure campaigns. OSC ruled that Drug Czar John Walters could legally use the power of his office to campaign against local and state drug-related ballot measures he doesn't like, including spending taxpayer money on campaign trips. OSC even ruled John Walters could use the threat of withholding or giving federal funds to state agencies to coerce state officials into opposing certain ballot measures.

7. Newsbrief: Texas Governor Signs Bill Freeing Tulia 14

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) this week signed legislation that will lead to freedom in a matter of days for the 14 remaining prisoners from the notorious Tulia, TX, drug bust of July 1999. Senate Bill 1948, which passed the Texas Senate last week, will allow the 14 to get out on bail pending a decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on whether they should be retried on the tainted Tulia charges. Thirty-eight people pled guilty or were convicted of small-scale drug sales on the uncorroborated testimony of Swisher County lawman Tom Coleman, whose damning testimony was later found by a specially-appointed judge to "be riddled with perjury and purposely evasive answers" and who has now been charged with perjury.

The arrests, literally decimating the town's African-American population, blew up into a national scandal as local groups such as the Friends of Justice and the Amarillo NAACP were joined by the Texas ACLU, the NAACP, the New York City-based William Moses Kunstler Fund for Social Justice, and a handful of dedicated lawyers systematically unraveled Coleman's cases. The bill was championed in the legislature by state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Rep. Terry Keel (R-Austin).

Whitmire told the Houston Chronicle he will now press for an investigation of the scandal- and abuse-plagued regional drug task forces that have rampaged across the state since the mid-1980s. Alleged perjurer Coleman was working on behalf of the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Task Force when he did his dirty work in Tulia.

The 14 remaining Tulia prisoners should be home within two weeks, but the light shown on police practices and the legal system in Texas has revealed serious and systematic abuses and opened up the Lone Star state's criminal justice system to well-deserved and too long-delayed scrutiny. The reverberations from Tulia will echo across Texas for years to come.

8. Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform -- No in Oklahoma

A bill that would have led to early release for some 800 Oklahoma prisoners, the majority of them drug offenders, and saved the state millions in its swollen corrections budget, failed on a 47-49 vote in the state House of Representatives May 30th. According to a report in the Daily Oklahoman, Rep. Ron Kirby (D-Lawton) "threw the bill on his desk in disgust after the vote."

The bill, SB 803, would have allowed nonviolent offenders who were nearing a non-supervised release date to leave prison early under electronic monitoring. Even that was too much for opponents, who argued the bill would turn loose people Oklahomans didn't want around. "This is the gambling with prisoners system," warned Rep. Mike Wilt (R-Bartlesville), apparently oblivious to the fact that the prisoners in question will be walking around free in a matter of weeks or months anyway.

"Give this bill a chance to work," Kirby pleaded with his colleagues. Not this year, not in Oklahoma, even though a state sentencing commission had recommended a variety of sentencing reforms, notably reducing drug sentences, in an effort to stanch the flow of dollars into the state's $400 million a year prison system (

9. Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform -- Yes in Missouri

They're not waiting another month, let alone another year, next door in Missouri, where cash-starved legislators passed reforms late last month. Gov. Bob Holden (D) is expected to sign the bill, which will go into effect immediately under an emergency clause contained within it. The reform legislation reduces mandatory minimum sentences for the least-serious felony offenders, including many drug offenders, while increasing sentences for violent criminals. It also expands the use of "shock sentences" and creates a presumption that offenders will be released upon their completion.

Missouri has been groaning under the burden of a swelling prison population fueled by nonviolent drug offenders, who make up more than half of all new prisoners in the state. Because of tough sentencing laws enacted in the 1990s, the state's prison population has nearly doubled to 30,000 inmates, while the Corrections Department budget has nearly quadrupled, to more than half a billion dollars for the fiscal year beginning July 1st, according to a legislative report, "Arresting the Overflow," coauthored by the bill's sponsor, Sen. Harold Caskey (D-Butler).

The reforms just passed would lead to the release of about 1,500 current prisoners, saving the state $21 million this year, with annual savings expected to double in coming years.

Under the reform legislation:

  • Mandatory minimum sentences for least serious felonies, including drug offenses, are reduced from five to four years. Prisoners serving sentences for the two least serious categories of felonies can petition for early release after 120 days.
  • Nonviolent second offenders are required to serve only 30% of their sentences, down from the current 40%.
  • Nonviolent first offenders will be sentenced to 120 "shock sentences" and then released under court supervision. While incarcerated, the prisoners will receive drug treatment and job skills training. While judges were able to do the same under the old law, the new law requires judges who fail to release prisoners who have completed the program into probation or parole to explain in writing to the Board of Probation and Parole why they did not grant supervised release.
  • The list of "dangerous felonies" requiring inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences is expanded from rape, arson and 2nd degree murder to include first degree offenses of assault of a law enforcement officer, domestic assault, elder abuse and statutory rape and statutory sodomy when the victim is under age 12.
"There's a sense we don't have the right sentencing mix in the state," Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit) said after the bill passed the Senate 26-0 in April. "Our violent offenders probably need to be put away longer. Some of our lighter offenders probably shouldn't be incarcerated."

Now Missouri has taken a step in that direction. And by the way, the bill also bans human cloning. Just to be safe.

10. Newsbrief: Feds Reject MPP Complaint Against Drug Czar

The Marijuana Policy Project's "war on the drug czar" campaign suffered a second defeat this week as the federal Office of Special Counsel (OSC) ruled that drug czar John Walters did not violate federal law when he campaigned against a failed MPP-sponsored marijuana legalization initiative in Nevada last year. Last month, Nevada state officials declined to pursue campaign finance violation charges against Walters after the state attorney general's ruled that he is probably exempt from state campaign finance laws.

MPP complained to the OSC, an independent agency charged with investigating campaign violations by federal executive branch officials, that Walters' campaigning against its ballot initiative violated the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits those officials from using their official position to influence the outcome of elections. But the OSC ruled that ballot initiatives are not elections and that federal officials are free to campaign against them.

MPP has announced that it will appeal both the Nevada and the OSC rulings. A third front in the group's attack on Walters, an April 2nd complaint to the General Accounting Office by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), is pending. That complaint charges that Walters illegally used taxpayer money to inspire local law-enforcement officials to lobby in favor of harsher marijuana penalties.

MPP may not yet have succeeded in nailing Walters, but the drug czar must notice the nipping at his heels. It's always nice to see the bad guys have to play defense once in awhile.

Visit to learn more.

11. Newsbrief: The Next Prohibition? Surgeon General Supports Banning Tobacco

United States Surgeon General Richard Carmona told a House subcommittee Wednesday he would support a ban on tobacco products. Carmona's comments marked the first time a surgeon general, the federal government's top public health advocate, had gone so far on the politically sensitive topic.

Asked if he would "support the abolition of all tobacco products," Carmona told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee investigating smokeless tobacco and other reduced risk tobacco products, "I would support banning or abolishing tobacco products." Carmona equivocated when asked if he would support a law to ban tobacco, saying "legislation is not my field," but then reiterated his support for criminalizing tobacco. "If Congress chose to go that way, that would be up to them," he said, "but I see no need for any tobacco products in society."

In stark contrast to its position on illicit drugs, the Bush administration was quick to back away from Carmon's comments. "That is not the policy of the administration," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. "The president supports efforts to crack down on youth smoking, and we can do more as a society to keep tobacco away from kids. That's our focus."

Still, Carmona's remarks are only the latest indication that a prohibitionist approach to tobacco use and sales is gaining ground, both nationally and globally. From California to New York City, tobacco smokers have been forced out of public accommodations and into the streets under laws that do not even provide people with the option of choosing to enter a smoke-filled room. As DRCNet reported last week, in Holland, Amsterdam's fabled marijuana coffee houses face extensive renovation, new construction or closure to comply with new Dutch anti-tobacco legislation. And tobacco is a favorite target of cash-strapped legislators, who in state after state combine arguments for public health with punitive taxes.

Ironically, Carmona's comments came during a subcommittee hearing on harm reducing tobacco products, such as smokeless chews and snuffs. The committee was addressing efforts by the US Smokeless Tobacco Company, to have its products recognized and marketed as less harmful that cigarettes.

Even more ironically, spokesmen for both the tobacco industry and anti-tobacco activists agreed that tobacco prohibition was not the answer. "We were surprised, because over the course of the years there have been very few people advocating a ban on tobacco products," said Philip Morris spokesman Michael Pfeil. "It's just not a very effective way to deal with the problem."

"We would all like to see a tobacco-free world," concurred Joel Spivak of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "But the reality is that there are 45 million Americans who are smokers, and we can't just take away their tobacco."

12. Newsbrief: Belgian Marijuana Decriminalization Now in Effect

As of Tuesday, marijuana possession is decriminalized in Belgium. The move, part of a broader revamping of the country's drug laws, was approved earlier this year by the Belgian government and went into effect upon its publication in the legislative journal this week.

Under the new law, possession of one plant or up to three grams of dried marijuana will draw a warning and a fine of 15 to 25 Euros, and the drug will be confiscated. A second offense within one year draws a fine of 26 to 50 Euros. A third offense within one year may be punished by up to a month in jail. Decriminalization does not apply to cannabis oil or cake. Smoking in the presence of minors, near schools or army barracks is considered a public nuisance, punishable by three months to a year in jail and/or a fine of 1,000 to 100,000 Euros. If police or prosecutors detect signs of "problematic use," the offender may be assigned therapeutic counseling by a court-appointed case manager.

The legislation also separates marijuana from other drugs and creates mechanisms for governmental coordination on drug policy. It wipes the offense of use of drugs in a group from the books, but creates the new offense of use of drugs in front of a minor. And it codifies the concept of case managers and therapeutic counseling within Belgian drug law -- a kinder, gentler version of the US drug court phenomenon.

Belgium now joins Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain on the list of European countries that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana possession. Britain has moved to reschedule marijuana as a less serious drug, with possession punishable only by a fine. The Netherlands keeps its marijuana laws on the books, but tolerates possession and regulated sales. Marijuana possession remains a crime in other European countries, but is generally lightly punished.

For French speakers, a copy of the text of the Belgian law is available from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Abuse European Legal Database on Drugs at:

13. Newsbrief: DEA Can't Kidnap People in Other Countries, Federal Court Rules

In a case that originated with the murder in Mexico of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that the DEA "had no authority to effect an arrest and detention of a Mexican citizen in Mexico, and he may now pursue civil remedies under US law for his abduction by Mexican citizens acting on behalf of the DEA." Dr. Humberto Alvarez-Machain was believed by the DEA to be involved in Camarena's torture and murder and, frustrated by Mexican government intransigence, the agency hired a group of Mexican citizens to kidnap Alvarez-Machain and transport across the border to El Paso.

Alvarez-Machain was charged in Camarena's death, but was acquitted when his case finally went to trial. But that didn't happen until after a lengthy legal battle that ended with an astounding Supreme Court ruling that his illegal kidnapping from a foreign countrydid not bar him from being tried in the US. Alvarez-Machain returned to Mexico upon his acquittal, but sought to sue the US government for violating international law and the US Alien Claims Tort Act, with representation from the ACLU of Washington's Drug Policy Project. That claim was challenged by federal attorneys, ending up in the 9th Circuit.

"We must decide whether the forcible, trans-border abduction of a Mexican national, Humberto Alvarez-Machain, by Mexican civilians at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration gives rise to a civil claim under United States law," began the 9th Circuit's opinion. "In an earlier, related proceeding, the Supreme Court acknowledged, without deciding, that Alvarez "may be correct" in asserting that his abduction was "shocking" and "in violation of general international law principles." United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655, 669 (1992). "We now address the question left unanswered..."

Now that court has made clear what the Supreme Court couldn't see: It's a crime to kidnap someone from another country with no legal authority.

The full opinion in ALVAREZ-MACHAIN v. US, No. 99-56762/56880 (9th Cir. June 03, 2003) is available online at:

14. The Reformer's Calendar

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

June 6-7, Milwaukee, WI, "Breaking the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs," Midwest Regional Conference. Sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance and WISDOM, a Wisconsin-based coalition of community and religious leaders for public policy reform. Admission $25 adult or $10 youth, 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.

June 12, Liverpool, London and other locations, "Stop the Murder or Thai Drug Users," international Day of Action protesting extrajudicial killings in Thailand's drug war. Visit or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

June 16-20, Cartagena, Colombia, World Social Thematic Forum, including drug policy track organized by Mama Coca. For further information, visit or contact María Mercedes Moreno at [email protected], or contact the World Social Thematic Forum at +1 571 3480781 or [email protected].

June 22, Binghamton to Ithaca, NY, "Skate for Justice," 50-mile trek against the drug war, sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Full skate beginning in Binghamton, secondary starting point in Richford for skaters who only want to do the last 17 miles, speakers and entertainment at Ithaca Commons in the evening. E-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

July 23, "Drug Policy Reform 2003: The State of the Movement," forum with Ethan Nadelmann. At the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter St., call (415) 921-4987.

July 24, "Can We Really Afford a (Failed) War on Drugs?", forum with Ethan Nadelmann. At the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, 595 Market St., visit for info.

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.

September 18, Tallahassee, FL, "Innovations in European Drug Policy," the Richard L. Rachin Conference. Sponsored by the Florida State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, in conjunction with the Journal of Drug Issues, at the Center for Professional Development, contact (850) 644-7569 or [email protected] to register or (850) 644-7368 or [email protected] 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.

November 7-9, Paris, "Fourth Hemp and Eco-Technologies Exhibition." At the Cité de Sciences et de L'Industrie, call +33(0) 1 48 58 31 37, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

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