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

Issue #291, 6/13/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #291

IN MEMORIAM: This issue of The Week Online is dedicated to medical marijuana patient/activist Cheryl Miller, who passed away late last week from advanced Multiple Sclerosis. Please read our article below and follow the links to learn more about Cheryl's life and the years of extraordinary work done by Cheryl and her husband Jim for the cause, work that inspired many.

WEEK ONLINE PHOTOS: Last week's photos got pasted into The Week Online web version a few days late, but there are more and better there now than we've have for any issue yet! Visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/290.shtml to check out multiple exciting images of New York's "hip-hop" protest against the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the victorious struggle for justice for the Tulia 14, Ed Rosenthal and more.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: The Rule of Law
  2. Global Social Forum Meeting in Cartagena to Draw Broad Spectrum of Global Activists for Colombia Focus -- DRCNet Will Be There
  3. Anatomy of a Victory: How Reformers Rolled Back Souder and the Drug Czar
  4. Ontario Marijuana Laws in the Twilight Zone
  5. Jacksonville Hemp Fest Marred by Police Violence, Warrant Issued for Organizer for Obstructing (In)Justice
  6. Drug Reform and the Democratic Presidential Nominating Process
  7. Sad Day in the Medical Marijuana Movement: Medical Marijuana Patient and Activist Cheryl Miller Passes Away at 57
  8. DRCNet Urgently Needs Your Donations -- Sullum Book Offer Still Going
  9. This Week in History
  10. Newsbrief: European Union Presidency Calls for Frank Discussion of Drug Laws
  11. Newsbrief: Demonstrations Mark Thailand Drug War Killings
  12. Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Provider Gets Prison Time
  13. Newsbrief: Drug Czar Declares War on Summer
  14. Newsbrief: Supreme Courts Again Says No to Cincinnati Drug Zone Ban Law
  15. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


 

David Borden

1. Editorial: The Rule of Law

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 6/13/03

One of the concepts my friends from Italy's Radical Party talk about is the "rule of law." Along with freedom, democracy and human rights, it makes up the bedrock of their platform extending across numerous policy and social issues, including drug legalization.

Here in the US drug reform movement, the words "rule of law" can evoke a scary image. It's easy to confuse "rule of law" with the "law and order," sound-bite approach -- e.g. "don't break the law and you won't go prison" -- taken to such an extreme in our society with mandatory minimum sentences and millions of people under the control of criminal justice system unjustly.

Of course, that's not what the Radicals mean. "Rule of law" refers primarily to constitutional and statutory restraint on state power, and the obligation of governments to obey their own rules. Human and civil rights promised in governing charters must be guaranteed. Leaders who commit atrocities must be brought to justice. The intellectual or political fashion of the moment must not be allowed to dilute fundamental principles and overturn them in practice or through stretched legalistic misinterpretations of that which has gone before.

The violations of rule of law in drug policy take on numerous manifestations, stretching literally from the top to the bottom of the judicial, legislative and executive branches of political and governmental systems around the world. As usual, this week's drug war news offers several examples:

  • Ontario, Canada police, finally getting the idea that there really is no law against marijuana possession in that province because of court order, until something happens to change that, nevertheless intend to confiscate stashes and take names for prosecutions they hope to bring in the future.
  • Jacksonville police thugs brutalize a peaceful demonstrator and issue a legally unjustified warrant against a speaker who dared to warn people of police presence to protect their safety.
  • Thailand's police forces continue to murder thousands of drug suspects, without even holding trials.
  • An Oregon judge refuses to allow a medical marijuana provider to mount a legal defense for medical marijuana under Oregon's law passed by the state's voters.
  • A patient dies without seeing the victory her long years of effort to legalize medical marijuana deserve, despite conditions of federal law that require marijuana be medically permitted in light of the available evidence on its efficacy and low abuse potential.
Despite the "law and order" types' habitual "tough on drugs" stances, true rule of law does not permit them to do the things they do. The fundamental principles that underlie legitimate systems of law necessitate freedom and an end to prohibition, if they are adhered to with integrity and courage.


2. Global Social Forum Meeting in Cartagena to Draw Broad Spectrum of Global Activists for Colombia Focus -- DRCNet Will Be There

The Colombian conflicts -- criminal drug organizations versus the Colombian state versus leftist insurgents versus rightist paramilitaries -- drag on with no end in sight, fueled by the profits of prohibition and the seemingly inexhaustible supply of war toys from Washington. And so do their diverse dire consequences: thousands killed in political violence each year, hundreds of thousands turned into internal refugees, thousands of acres of fertile croplands sprayed with powerful herbicides. But Colombia's state of perpetual war also has deeply corrosive effects throughout its society, with labor leaders gunned down in their offices and academics assassinated walking across campus, the wealthy and their children fleeing to the safety of Miami, and a peasantry the state cannot afford to help -- only repress.

The government of President Alvaro Uribe and its allies in Washington report this week that their unrelenting aerial eradication campaign against coca planting is finally bringing significant reductions in the coca crop and speculate that the drug cash that supplies the various belligerents will dry up soon. But any elation from that announcement was undercut by figures reported the next day in the New York Times showing that Colombian heroin production was on the increase, with Colombian smack dominating the eastern US market and Mexican brown dominating the West. So it goes when the US war on drugs meets Colombian social reality and the law of the market.

María Mercedes Moreno,
organizer of the Forum's
drug policy track, in Mérida
The crisis in Colombia has drawn global attention for years, and now the misnamed "anti-globalization movement" is bringing its focus to that crisis. The Global Social Forum, which grew out of efforts to combat the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), and which drew some 30,000 participants to its inaugural Rio de Janiero conference last winter, has convened a Special Thematic Global Social Forum meeting in Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, for June 16-20.

DRCNet, in the person of Week Online editor/writer Phillip Smith, will be there. Smith will address the conference in one of a number of panels and sessions devoted to drug cultivation, the drug trade, and alternatives to drug prohibition, as well as reporting on the conference in coming issues of the Week Online. He will also work to deepen and broaden the hemispheric and international drug reform connections made at and after February's Mérida, Mexico, "Out from the Shadows" conference. The Drug Policy Alliance will also have representatives at the conference.

Week Online Writer/Editor
Phil Smith, in Mérida.
Phil is going to Cartagena.
Cartagena will be a reunion for some Merida veterans, with Peruvian professor Baldomero Cáceres and coca grower leader Nancy Obregón, Brazilian harm reductionist and founder of Psico-Tropicus Luiz Paulo Guanabera, and Paris- and Bogota-based Mama Coca leader María Mercedes Moreno (the organizer of the Forum's drug policy track), among others, planning to be in attendance. But it is also an opportunity for people interested in drug policy issues to interact not only among themselves but with a range of other activists whose interests, from the environment and human rights to social justice and an end to the violence, intersect and complement those of the drug reformers.

"Issues like drug trafficking, violence, terrorism, resistance and peace, human rights, and the construction of democratic states and societies are items of great interest in the global agenda," notes the Global Social Forum document explaining the need for the Cartagena meeting. "Phenomena like drug trafficking, money laundering, the trade of chemical products to process illegal drugs, the negative effects on public health, the associated violence, the increased corruption in state and private sectors, and the penetration of drug money in legal activities, are enough reasons to put these items on the spot at this World Social Thematic Forum."

Prohibitionist policies adopted by the United Nations "seem to have failed," the document notes. It has brought both widespread corruption and the persecution of drug-growing farmers, both of which the conference will address. "Furthermore, discussions around legalization, punishment or repression, and its critical effects on human health are of great importance in the context of finding solutions and alternatives to this problem in a global context," the document said.

But conference organizers also place the forum squarely within the context of the global mobilizations associated not only with the "anti-globalization movement," but also those opposing the unfinished US invasion of Iraq and the whole US emphasis on global and domestic security in the post-September 11 era. The massive anti-war demonstrations worldwide "showed the rejection of the politics of allowing the governments of the United States, England and Spain to determine what is good for humanity."

Stay tuned for reports from Cartagena over the next two weeks. For further information on the conference, its agenda and its participants, available in English, Spanish or French, visit the Global Social Forum Special Thematic Meeting web site at http://www.fsmt.org.co online.


3. Anatomy of a Victory: How Reformers Rolled Back Souder and the Drug Czar

When the House Committee on Government Affairs approved the Office of National Drug Control Policy's budgetary authorization last week, it did so only after a two-week delay. The vote, originally scheduled for May 15, had to be postponed after a furious lobbying effort by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project to alert committee Democrats that the bill contained provisions inserted by committee chairman and die-hard drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) that would give the drug czar's office the authority to use its billion-dollar National Youth Anti-Drug media campaign fund to campaign against drug reform initiatives and candidates supporting drug reform.

That lobbying effort paid off in a big way. Not only were the provisions allowing the drug czar to engage in partisan political campaigning stripped out of the bill, but the committee added new provisions barring the media campaign fund from ever being used to defeat pro-reform initiatives or candidates. It also removed language allowing the anti-drug ads to be aired without telling viewers they were government-sponsored propaganda and restored language requiring that the ads -- ostensibly aimed at preventing teen drug use -- actually provide information on local prevention and treatment services.

But wait, there's more. The revamped reauthorization bill also deleted a provision that would have punished states with medical marijuana laws by diverting federal law enforcement assistance dollars away from state law enforcement and into the hands of the feds via the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. And it includes the first hint of a rollback, known as the "Souder Amendment," of one of Souder's own pernicious drug war programs, the anti-drug provision in the Higher Education Act (HEA). Under the language approved by the committee, the drug czar is required to decertify his budget if the Department of Education applies the HEA anti-drug provision to students whose drug convictions occurred prior to the time they were enrolled in college.

As written by Souder and interpreted by the Department of Education, the anti-drug provision currently bars students from receiving financial aid even if their convictions occurred prior to their college days. Responding to criticism, Souder has repeatedly claimed that's not what he meant -- it was only supposed to apply to current students -- but that's what the bill he wrote said.

With the committee approving the revamped bill on a voice vote after it was resubmitted by Chairman Souder, it is clear that by the time the vote was taken, it was a done deal. But the deal was largely done thanks to the efforts of DPA's Assistant Director of National Affairs, Bill Piper, and MPP's director of government relations, Steve Fox. DRCNet asked them how they did it.

"Well, we had two lobbyists working full-time on it for starters," said DPA's Piper. "But it also has to do with the very real power the drug reform movement is gaining. We are beginning to demonstrate the ability to flood congressional offices with letters, email, and phone calls and the ability to get high visibility people to weigh in on our side. And Souder and the Republicans overreached. When we pointed out to the Democrats that Souder's bill would give John Walters the ability to spend a billion dollars potentially campaigning against them, that roused them like nothing else."

"First, we had to raise awareness," concurred MPP's Fox. "At first, the committee Democrats didn't think it was any big deal. But we started working the phones. I called Democratic Party organizations, the various party caucuses, telling whoever would listen that this bill would give Bush and Walters a billion dollars to use for partisan political purposes. That got their attention. It is probably the Democrats' fear of seeing this money used against them -- not deep problems with the anti-drug media campaign -- that got them aroused and got this bill changed," Fox said.

"Committee Democrats didn't even realize those provisions were there until we pointed them out," said Piper. "And then we helped them wake-up by starting a heavy lobbying effort from our membership. Five members of the committee are from California, and we have three California offices. We inundated them with constituent calls and emails. And we were able to get California law enforcement to call the committee about the HIDTA provisions. Committee members have to start wondering what's up when they find law enforcement and drug reformers on the same side."

Like DPA, MPP also activated its membership base to flood committee members with voter input opposing Souder's original bill, Fox said. "We know the committee noticed our members' input on this," he said. "On votes like this, we typically just alert our base in the districts of voting members, but this was such an important issue with national implications that we called a national alert," he explained. "I know we had over 3,500 faxes sent before the vote, and committee staffers told me the phones were ringing off the hook. The mass response is very important. They notice."

But both organizations also profited from the credibility they have built on the Hill with years of lobbying efforts. "MPP contacts congressional offices all the time," said Fox. "Last year, I spent months lobbying against the Barr amendment to the DC appropriations bill. I spoke to probably 140 different congressional offices about that. And we're constantly calling the Hill to gain support for the Barney Frank bill and the Truth in Trials Act." As for building MPP's credibility with Congress, said Fox, "we just try to be honest and accurate and tell them up front what's at stake. We've built up a track record on the Hill, and that's important."

Ditto, said DPA's Piper. "A presence on the Hill is crucial, and it's something that builds over time. And a victory like this will only make future lobbying efforts easier. We are showing Congress we can have some influence."

Face time on the Hill was also important, the two said. "We were meeting with both the congressmen's staff and the committee staff and educating them on the issue," said Piper. "This ended up helping Democrats fend off a weak substitute from Souder that would have left the door open for issue ads not expressly directed at an initiative or a candidate. According to our sources on the Hill, at one point the Democrats were threatening to vote against the entire authorization bill if that wasn't fixed. It was. The Republicans had to compromise if they wanted bipartisan support to make their drug war look reasonable."

"This was a big victory because we not only got the bad provisions out, we got some good ones in," said Piper. "We won decisively, and we proved we can win. As an added bonus, we gave Souder and the other committee drug warriors a bad case of heartburn."

A peeved and defensive Souder told Roll Call the legalizer lobby had distorted what he was trying to do. "A small group who devotes their lives to marijuana want to claim that preventing kids from using marijuana is somehow partisan and political because apparently they consider that drug to be their ideology," Souder said. "We tried in subcommittee to clarify that this extreme argument would not threaten the prevention activities of the media campaign -- a minor provision that was blown wildly out of proportion by the same extremists and some in the media to suggest that the committee intention was to permit the use of the media campaign for activities that everyone in this room would agree are wholly improper and partisan. That was never my intention or the intention of this bill," Souder said.

"Souder is either being dishonest or he wrote a very badly-crafted bill," shot back Piper. "The language was very clear. There was no way to read it other than as saying it explicitly gave the drug czar the power to engage in partisan political campaigns."

Drug reformers won a victory with the committee vote, but that is only one battle in one front in the federal government's drug war. The drug czar's media campaign did win the committee reauthorization vote, the propaganda campaign at taxpayer expense will continue, and at this point, the next battle will be to reduce the appropriations for the media campaign.

"There's not much chance of that in the House," said Fox, "but the Senate has been more interested in cutting back this program and more skeptical about its effectiveness. Last year, they cut it by $80 million, although the drug czar got some of that back in conference committee."

"This is a victory, but the drug war still marches forward," agreed Piper. "Still, when you get behind closed doors on the Hill, you get a lot of sympathy. There is a sense that the drug war has failed and an interest in a search for alternatives. There is still a wall to reform out there, but that wall is crumbling."


4. Ontario Marijuana Laws in the Twilight Zone

There is a huge sucking sound in Ontario, and it's not just delighted marijuana consumers hitting the bong. The sucking noise is coming from the huge legal vacuum into which the marijuana laws in Canada's most populous province have fallen. A succession of court rulings in the province have effectively nullified the marijuana possession law, unprecedented efforts by federal government lawyers to suspend those rulings have failed, and in the process government lawyers conceded what cabinet ministers have denied: Ontario has no marijuana possession law. While the government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien is moving ahead with a bill that would replace criminal penalties for pot possession with fines, it is unlikely to become law for months. And after a court ruling this week, it appears that any judicial resolution to the vanishing cannabis law problem will not take place until the end of July at the earliest.

The police are finally taking notice. Beginning with Toronto police chief Julian Fantino, law enforcement officials heading agencies aground the province have announced that they are no longer arresting marijuana users and people who possess less than 30 grams of the weed. But, while responses vary from department to department, many, including Toronto, have announced that they will continue to seize marijuana and record the names of those found in possession for possible future prosecution if and when Ontario gets its pot law back.

Things came to a head Tuesday, when Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Louise Charron refused a federal Justice Department request to stay a May 16 ruling by Ontario Superior Court Judge Steven Rogin that acquitted a Windsor youth on possession charges because there was no law with which to charge him. Ontario courts have ruled that the federal government has failed to act on a 2000 Ontario Supreme Court ruling declaring the marijuana laws unconstitutional and giving the feds a year to fix them. Crown lawyers tried the unheard of request for a stay to no avail, as Justice Charron pronounced herself "baffled" at the "unprecedented" motion.

"Today is a clear signal that Justice Rogin's decision is, for now, the law of the province, which judges in trial courts have to apply," Brian McAllister, the lawyer representing the teenager, told reporters after the ruling. "I think a lot of judges were hesitant to throw out charges in anticipation of this hearing, but today's decision should certainly have an impact on what people do from now on."

"It wasn't the acquittal we were seeking to have stayed so much as the effect of Justice Rogin's order, which has been interpreted by many to suggest there is no prohibition against possessing marijuana in Ontario," said Justice Department spokesman Jim Leising. Leising's formulation itself suggested that whether there was a marijuana law or not remained controversial and echoed the public statements of Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, but in papers filed with the court last week, the Crown's own lawyers disagreed.

"The practical effect of Justice Rogin's judgment in there is presently no valid prohibition against marijuana possession in Ontario," Crown attorneys wrote in the motion for a stay. Rogin's decision "is binding on lower courts in Ontario, who have exclusive jurisdiction over most marijuana possession cases," the Justice Department conceded. "Without a suspension of Justice Rogin's judgment, the effective prosecution of marijuana possession in Ontario is jeopardized, pending this Court's resolution of this appeal."

Justice Charron granted the Crown motion to appeal Rogin's ruling on an expedited basis, but it will take until late July to assemble a panel to hear that motion and some time after that for it to issue a ruling. The Crown has quit bringing marijuana possession charges in the province, many court have quit trying them, and now the police are almost falling in line, too.

Prodded by an advisory from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police last week calling on police to show "discretion" in handling small-time possession cases, Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino announced June 6 that his department would no longer arrest for possession -- but that it would continue to seize the pot and take names. "Police will not lay charges of simple possession," Fantino said in a release. "Rather, they will seize the marijuana and fully document the incident with a view to laying a charge following clarification of the law by the Court of Appeal or Parliament."

In his advisory, Tom Kaye, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, told police chiefs, "If it's under 30 grams, process them in accordance with your department's policy procedure, lob the drugs in the vault, do up all the paperwork... then wait until we see what's going to happen from the appeals court."

Departments around the province are heeding those words. Departments in London, Ottawa, and Chatham-Kent have adopted similar procedures, and for those honeymooners reading these words, so have the Niagara Regional Police. Hamilton police are still making arrests, but local justices of the peace are refusing to hear the cases. Hamilton Justice Wendy Casey even threw out charges laid before the May 16 ruling, effectively wiping out a half-dozen Crown cases there.

That's not good enough for some Ontario activists and criminal defense attorneys. Brian McCallister, who argued the Rogin case, warned that police could leave themselves open to lawsuits by continuing to harass pot possessors, asking how police can enforce a law that has been "effectively erased." Toronto defense attorney Paul Copeland agreed, telling the Toronto Star, "It's legal to smoke pot in this province. My opinion is there is no law in Ontario prohibiting possession of up to 30 grams, or a gram of hashish, for that matter."

And the Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis (http://www.ocsarc.org) demanded an end to any further police attention toward pot possessors. "Search and seizure laws are quite clear: You may only be detained and lawfully searched on suspicion of committing a serious offence," said Tim Meehan, OCSARC's Communications Director. "This new policy could open the Toronto force to a wide range of liability for illegal search and seizure for possession of a substance which is legal under law according to the courts. Seizing joints and taking names just in case the law is reenacted on appeal smacks of sour grapes, and could be a financially painful lesson for the police -- and for Toronto ratepayers," Meehan continued.

Other members of the cannabis consuming community, however, were a bit more mellow. Mike Foster, owner of Ottawa's Crosstown Traffic head shop, told the Buffalo Evening News, it didn't matter much. "We all kind of live our lives oblivious to government anyway," Foster said. "We smoked dope yesterday, we'll smoke dope tomorrow." And at least for the time being, they can smoke it without fear of arrest in most of Ontario.


5. Jacksonville Hemp Fest Marred by Police Violence, Warrant Issued for Organizer for Obstructing (In)Justice

Scott Bledsoe is staying out of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, for the time being. That's because Bledsoe is a wanted man in the tiny northeast Florida community. His offense? Telling the crowd at the Jacksonville Hemp Fest Memorial Day weekend that undercover narcs were among them and pointing out who the narcs were. That was enough for the Jacksonville Beach Police Department to charge Bledsoe with a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. Fortunately for Bledsoe, no law enforcement agency anywhere outside Jacksonville Beach gives two hoots about a misdemeanor warrant, so he continues to walk free until he goes in to face the music -- an opportunity he says he will relish.

This isn't the first time Bledsoe and the Jacksonville Cannabis Action Network have tangled with local authorities over their hemp fests -- festival organizers won lawsuits over permit and free speech issues against Jacksonville Beach in 1998 and Jacksonville in 2001 -- but it has been several years since police have been so aggressive, according to organizers and eyewitnesses. And it is with police aggressiveness that the problems that marred an otherwise mellow and peaceable event on Jacksonville Beach began.

"The police were there to intimidate and harass, and they did their job well," said Bledsoe. "Undercover cops were circulating in the crowd, and, as usual, they made a handful of arrests, a couple for open container, one for a guy smoking a doobie, but they really seemed more interested in harassing the vendors and speakers," he told DRCNet.

But thing began going south for the narcs when one of their most gung-ho members, Jacksonville Beach police officer Jerry Dearing, sicced a pair of uniformed officers on waiting fest speaker Rev. Roland A. Duby (also known as Marijuana Man, nee Ronnie Williams of Kentucky). According to Duby's account, as well as those of other witnesses, the uniformed police approached him and asked to search a tobacco tin he was holding. He refused, citing his right to be free of unwarranted searches, and dumped the contents of the tin in a nearby trash can. At that point, according to eyewitnesses, the cops flipped out. They bum-rushed Duby, threw him to the ground, injuring his knee in the process, handcuffed him, then, as he lay moaning in cuffs, lifted up his eyeglasses and sprayed mace in his eyes.

Officer Jerry Dearing of the
Jacksonville Police Dept.
has been accused of police
brutality by event organizers.
Christopher Largen, coauthor of the soon-to-be-published "Prescription Pot" and caregiver for federal medical marijuana patient George McMahon saw the whole thing. Once Duby tossed the tin, said Largen, "two uniformed officers push in on Roland without stating that he's under arrest. Roland backs up and the cops tackle him from behind using a chokehold. He sputters as he tries to pull the choking arm away from his neck and restore his airflow," Largen told DRCNet. "He is thrown to the ground and begins screaming, "You've broken my leg." The tattooed bald undercover officer [Jerry Dearing] steps forward and reaches in front of Roland's face and sprays him with mace. Roland's glasses block a direct shot and he's squeezing his eyes shut, so the bald guy lifts his glasses and directly blasts his eyes with mace."

[For Jacksonville residents and others who want a better sense of how scary Duby's attacker and other Jacksonville narcs are, visit the Jacksonville Hemp Fest web site -- http://www.jaxhempfest.com -- which has posted pictures of them.]

Not surprisingly, the violence perpetrated against an event speaker by the Jacksonville Beach police did not play well with the crowd or with Bledsoe. The crowd swarmed toward Duby's tent, where the police had him under guard, yelling "Shame, shame," "Nazis," "Pigs," and generally expressing their disapproval. "People were very angry and yelling at the cops, but there was no violence, there was nothing thrown. Still, the cops were freaking out," said Bledsoe.

Bledsoe added to their worries by ascending to the stage, telling the crowd what was happening, and notifying them that there were narcs in their midst. "I told the crowd there were four narcs out there, that they had arrested Duby because he refused an illegal search, and that one of them was a bald-headed guy wearing earrings. I told the crowd to watch out for those people, to stay away from them. I did not incite violence," he emphasized, adding that the entire oration, as well as Duby's arrest, had been captured on videotape.

Jacksonville Beach police told local media that "the crowd became a problem, and we could no longer conduct our operation," arguing that Bledsoe's identification of Dearing endangered the narc and prevented him from doing his job, thus meriting a charge of obstruction of justice against Bledsoe.

"It was the police conduct that incited the crowd, not anything I said," Bledsoe retorted. While Bledsoe is not exactly thrilled at having to deal with the warrant -- it will cost time and money, he said -- he is eager to once again skewer the local gendarmerie in court, and it looks like he's got a very good case. Florida legal precedent is on his side. In a handful of cases, the most recent only three years ago, Florida appeals courts have ruled that "a person whose speech identifies an undercover police officer and frustrates the officers' attempt to make a drug buy is not guilty of obstructing the officer in the lawful performance of a legal duty."

"I don't know what's wrong with these people, why they want to start this crap up again," said Bledsoe. "We already sued both Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach over ordinances they wrote to try to block us -- and won -- and now they're sending in the police to disrupt a peaceful festival. There was no violence, no drunkenness, not even any cursing on stage. We run a class act, a family-oriented event. After all, we are out here not only to celebrate our culture but also to educate the public. And this arrest warrant is a big joke. It's just harassment, but I'm not worried, I have the law on my side."
 

Scott Bledsoe addresses
the Hemp Fest

Bledsoe will give himself up for arraignment at an appropriate time, he told DRCNet. "Sometime in the next week or two, once we get the media lined up and can make a real show of it," he said. "The cops could have avoided all this controversy if they had just left us in peace. Now we will get more publicity, they will get more scrutiny, and the taxpayers of Jacksonville Beach will pay. They'll pay because I fully intend to sue the city for violating my First Amendment rights with this warrant."

As for the Rev. Duby, he is reportedly recuperating back home in Kentucky after friends posted a $15,000 bond for him. He is charged with resisting arrest. "I thanked God for my eventual release into blessed America and asked him to forgive my kidnappers, for they know not what they are doing," said Duby.

The Jacksonville Beach Police Department did not respond to repeated calls from DRCNet.

As for next year's Jacksonville Hemp Fest? "We'll be there," said Bledsoe. "Count on it."


6. Drug Reform and the Democratic Presidential Nominating Process

Last week, DRCNet presented the views of the nine announced Democratic contenders for the 2004 presidential nomination -- and apart from the progressive drug reform plank of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is not considered a first-tier candidate, we didn't find much beyond rote drug war rhetoric, with a few nods to drug treatment thrown in here and there (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/290.shtml#demsondrugs). We also found that in these times of a troubled economy, the "war on terrorism" and the occupation of Iraq, drug policy is barely on the political horizon. This week, DRCNet spoke with drug reform leaders from across the country to see how they view the race and the role of the drug reform movement in influencing it.

The consensus seems to be that, aside from medical marijuana, drug reform is unlikely to be an issue at play in the campaigns, and even for medical marijuana to become a prominent issue will require constant pressure on candidates and at least one of the front-tier candidates to attempt to use it to break out of the back -- most probably in California, where the issue is hotter than anywhere else. While pressure is mounting to do something about mandatory minimum sentences, racial profiling and related issues, it is unlikely the Democratic candidates will embrace those issues. Additionally, said some, the drug reform movement is still too weak and still generates too much organized opposition to have a positive impact on the campaigns. And reform groups are spending their resources accordingly.

Political campaign veteran Bill Zimmerman, whose Campaign for New Drug Policies (http://www.drugreform.org) won a long string of ballot initiatives before running into stiff opposition last year, doesn't see much chance for the drug reform movement to influence the process, he told DRCNet. "It's not worth it for the candidates," said Zimmerman. "Drug reform is not that salient to the average voter, and Democratic politicians still fear being attacked for being soft on drugs. Given that it is not a salient issue for most people, why take the chance?"

Also, Zimmerman noted, focusing on the presidency to change the country's drug laws may be putting the cart before the horse. "A president's ability to affect drug reform and the country's drug laws is limited by public opinion, and we have not yet succeeded in moving public opinion to the point where a president can feel safe moving to change the laws," he said. Nor does Zimmerman expect that to change anytime soon. "That sort of change won't happen without massive public education, and that requires either massive expenditures or vastly increased access to the media, and I don't see any sign of either happening," he said.

If it's not worth it for the candidates, said Zimmerman, it's not worth it for his organization. "We're not doing anything related to the nomination campaign," he said.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org), which was closely associated with the Campaign for New Drug Policies' initiatives, largely agreed, but still pointed to some areas where the movement can have an impact. The drug reform movement's ability to impact the nomination campaign is "minimal, but more than ever before," said Nadelmann. The movement draws some leverage "from the fact that there is a growing number of wealthy individuals who are both prominent drug reform supporters and engaged in trying to get the Democrats back in power." Nadelmann has been able to get meetings with candidates Dean, Gephardt and Graham, he told DRCNet. "One reason I've been able to do that is because one of our funders is very involved with the Democratic campaign committee. That gives us some access; for the first time, the candidates are obliged to sit and listen to us respectfully."

Also giving the drug reform movement some heft, Nadelmann said, were victories at the ballot box. "With victories in the ballot initiatives, especially Proposition 36 in California, we've shown we have a substantial majority on issues like treatment instead of incarceration, asset forfeiture reform and medical marijuana. We've shown we can win," he said.

"What we have not shown is that we can get people to vote based on these issues. If we could show more strength, the candidates would at least have to give lip service to supporting treatment over incarceration, getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences and getting rid of the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity," Nadelmann continued. "A sign of our continuing political weakness is that we can't even get the candidates to make a clear statement on medical marijuana, even when we have three-quarters of the voters on our side. I find this very troubling. And we can't even get them to mention mandatory minimums and those other issues."

Still, said Nadelmann, the reform movement can seek to raise its profile at several levels. "At the elite level, the more big donors raise these issues in those small meetings and dinners with candidates, the more these guys will feel they have to say something positive. And at the mass level, it makes sense to keep stirring this up. I don't think it's worth a major investment of drug reform resources, but maybe worth putting out some modest resources for billboards and ensuring that we have a constant presence at forums and debates. If we can keep the issues popping up all the time, the candidates will eventually feel pressured to come up with coherent and hopefully reformist positions."

Also, Nadelmann suggested, "We need to come up with better evidence about how this issue can work for the candidates. It is possible, just look at New York. Even the Republicans feel like it is in their interest to support reforming the Rockefeller laws. The fact that even they feel the need to call for reform, that's a major step."

Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (http://www.cjpf.org) was more optimistic than Zimmerman or Nadelmann and advocated a full blitz on the early and manageably-sized primary states. "I think the movement could easily influence the Democratic candidates with some effective organizing in New Hampshire and Iowa," Sterling said. "Right now every Democratic candidate is practically going door-to-door in those two states. They are visiting living rooms, cafes, schools, county fairs, and spending a lot of time listening to the voters and shaping their messages. We need to mobilize our supporters to go to those meetings and seek out the candidates to ask them why they don't strongly support medical marijuana, especially since Bush and company are so vehemently against it. They should raise this issue every time they see the candidate."

The movement could benefit from doing some grunt work, said Jodi James of the Florida Cannabis Action Network and a former state congressional candidate. "It's important to become active in your local and state parties right now," she told DRCNet. "I'm a delegate to the state conference through the local Executive Committee and through the state Democratic Women's movement. We already know several of the candidates scheduled at our state conference this year."

It's time to call out the youth wing, too, said Sterling. "We need to organize every college campus in Iowa and New Hampshire to put on some drug policy reform forum every month from September to January so that the issues are raised at least every week. Students need to be organized to raise this issue and to offer to volunteer for the candidates who take the best position."

The marijuana-oriented groups and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org) are attempting to do a little of that. The Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org) is putting a modest amount of money into efforts to influence the campaign, primarily with its Granite Staters web site (http://www.GraniteStaters.com), comparing the candidates' positions on medical marijuana. "We're using the web site to focus on medical marijuana and educate the public about where the candidates stand," said MPP director of government relations Steve Fox. "We'll be very active in New Hampshire, with a full-time staffer there through January putting together events to raise the issue's profile and explain it to New Hampshire voters," he told DRCNet. "We'll see what kind of impact we can produce there, and go from there," he said. MPP is also forming a political action committee, Fox said. It should be up and running soon, he added.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org) executive director Keith Stroup largely shared the glum assessments and his group is behaving accordingly. "We don't have much leverage," Stroup told DRCNet. "Most candidates will duck drug reform. It barely registers with them. If they do take a stand, it's usually just trying to be tougher on drugs than the next guy. Still, according to the latest CNN/Time poll, 47% of adult Americans have smoked marijuana -- and that is probably underreported. And 80% of voters support medical marijuana, and 70% could live with fines for pot smokers. That's a huge potential base of support."

But given NORML's assessment of its influence on the candidates, it is limiting its nomination-related projects to a candidate questionnaire and a man on the ground in New Hampshire. "We'll be trying to birddog the candidates on the issues with the questionnaire, and we've got New Hampshire NORML's Phil Greazzo up there getting to every candidate he can. People don't understand that when you go to those candidate meetings up there, sometimes there are only 20 or 30 people. You can get your question asked if you're persistent. Greazzo did it with Gore last time, and got him to be very positive about medical marijuana -- at least until he left New Hampshire." Greazzo will attempt to work with MPP's man in New Hampshire, Stroup added.

SSDP executive director Shawn Heller told DRCNet his group would have bodies on the ground in New Hampshire if it could get funding. "We're looking for money right now," he said.

If there is one issue and one state where some reformers are hoping to see movement, the issue is medical marijuana and the state is California. "California is the one state where this is a higher priority issue, thanks to John Ashcroft," said NORML's Stroup. "It is also a historical hotbed of marijuana activism. All the candidates will spend a lot of time there, and they will be asked about medical marijuana. I can't imagine many of them are going to want to support the federal government's position," he said.

Even Zimmerman conceded that medical marijuana could make the candidates' and the public's radar screen there. "It would be because of all the federal intervention," he said, "and what happens in California could have an impact down the road since we have an early primary this time." Particularly vulnerable in California is former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Zimmerman said. "He's received a lot of financial support from the entertainment industry folks in LA, and they are very supportive of medical marijuana. He could be leaned on. The public needs to understand that he is a politician first and a physician second. If those roles were reversed, he would not have acted as he did in Vermont."

Steph Sherer and Americans for Safe Access, (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the medical marijuana advocacy group that believes the best defense is a good offense, will work their home turf hard on the medical marijuana issue, Sherer told DRCNet. "We're already working with Dennis Kucinich [Sherer and Mike Gray essentially drafted Kucinich's drug policy plank], and we'll continue to do so to ensure he is able to effectively frame the issue," she said. "We're also going to a presentation at the California Council of Democratic Clubs, and we are in the process of putting together a platform on medical marijuana that we can shop around to California candidates."

ASA is also massaging other presidential nominee candidates, she added. "We're putting together packets for Dean and John Edwards. The packets compile all their statements on medical marijuana and show them how uneducated their positions are," Sherer said.

As soon as Dennis Kucinich came out in support of medical marijuana, Edwards and Dean were put on the spot, Sherer added. That's good -- as long as Kucinich can stay in the race. "If Kucinich can stay alive and keep bringing this up and use it to hammer the other candidates, we might see some movement," said MPP's Fox.

And while attention is focused on the Democrats, don't forget the Republicans, several people said. "The Democrats need to return to being the voice of progressive change if they want to win, but we haven't given up on the Republicans, either," said Sherer. "When you're talking 80% support for medical marijuana, you're catching people across the political spectrum."

Zimmerman agreed that drug reform is not a strictly partisan issue. "There is a partisan dimension here, but that dimension is not controlling," he said. "Polling shows more support for various reforms from Democrats than Republicans, but there are nevertheless significant minorities among Republican and independent voters who favor drug reform."

And in a surprising prediction, Nadelmann suggested that it might be the Republicans who move first. "After two years, the Bush people need to tack to the center for votes and to eat away at the Democratic base," he said. "If the Democrats don't move on issues like sentencing reform and mandatory minimums, I'd bet even money that Bush will put forward modest sentencing reforms next year."


7. Sad Day in the Medical Marijuana Movement: Medical Marijuana Patient and Activist Cheryl Miller Passes Away at 57

Cheryl Miller, a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who became a potent and prominent activist for medical marijuana, died of her disease Saturday morning in a hospital near the Silverton, New Jersey, home she shared with her husband and fellow activist, Jim. Funeral services were held in New Jersey this week, and her ashes will be interred in her native Oklahoma.

Cheryl Miller
(photos courtesy IMMLY)

 
Miller, who found that marijuana provided more effective relief for her pain and other symptoms than any other pharmaceutical agent and who typically used it in a tincture or in foods made using marijuana butter -- she was never a recreational smoker -- became increasingly visible in the medical marijuana movement, participating with her husband in medical marijuana marches, with Jim pushing her wheelchair, or later, hospital bed, as they marched. By the late 1990s, the Millers had turned their activism up a notch, with Cheryl publicly taking her medicine from her bed in front of the New Jersey state capitol in 1997, and again at the office of US Rep. James Rogan (R-CA) -- a one-time medical marijuana supporter in California's assembly who changed his tune for the worse after entering Congress -- in 1998.

 

Jim & Cheryl Miller with
Gary Storck & Jacki Rickert,
outside Bob Barr's office

The following year, the Millers joined in protests at the offices of uber-drug warrior Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), with Jim carrying Cheryl from her wheelchair and laying her in front of Barr's office door. While New Jersey state troopers were too embarrassed to arrest Cheryl and Jim, the congressman had no such compunctions. [Barr, fine specimen of prosecutorial humanity that he is, sneeringly called Cheryl "a human prop."] The Millers treated their arrests as another means of education and agitation -- the Capitol-focused newspaper "Roll Call" ran a photo of Jim and Cheryl with supporting demonstrators blocking Barr's office doorway -- and used their prosecutions to spread the word about marijuana's soothing powers.

A member of the advisory board of the Wisconsin-based medical marijuana rights group Is My Medicine Legal Yet (http://www.immly.org) and founder of the Cherylheart Project (http://www.cherylheart.org), Miller helped engineer Barr's downfall last year. As part of a Libertarian Party campaign to oust the "worst of the worst" drug warriors from Congress, Cheryl played a starring role in commercials run against Barr in last year's primary. "Bob Barr thinks I should be in jail for using my medicine," said bedridden Miller, struggling to speak. "Why would you do that to me, Bob?" [Voice-over]: "When the drug war turns on our own sick and dying, it's gone too far. And so has Bob Barr." Then Miller, struggling again, repeats: "Why would you do that to me, Bob?"

Barr lost that primary.

Cheryl and Jim Miller were supposed to be at the annual NORML conference in San Francisco in April to accept the Peter McWilliams Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Cause of Medical Marijuana, but IMMLY founder Jacki Rickert and IMMLY member Gary Storck had to accept for the Millers. Cheryl was too sick to make the trip. Cheryl also didn't make it to Washington one last time to lobby Congress in support of Barney Frank's "States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act," as she and supporters had hoped to do this year, due to a delay in the reintroduction of the bill until last month, for which they were waiting.

Storck has promised that a larger patient delegation than they were initially planning will come to Washington, in Cheryl's honor, and the visit may include an event for members of the public to come out and meet them.

This article offers only the barest beginning of a tribute to Cheryl Miller's life and contributions to the movement. Visit http://www.cherylheart.org and http://www.immly.org to learn more.


8. DRCNet Urgently Needs Your Donations -- Sullum Book Offer Still Going

Since we first announced our new book offer, Jacob Sullum's "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use," and appealed to our readers for donations to help us reach the fall when major grants are expected to be received, more than 150 of you have responded with donations totaling more than $9,000. Thank you!

Because we are looking at more months, however, DRCNet's adverse financial situation unfortunately still remains. We need more of your help, from more of you, in order to continue to operate and get through this difficult time. The fall is likely to see exciting and groundbreaking new projects at DRCNet, along with the rest of our core work. So please help assure DRCNet can continue functioning until then by visiting http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ and making the most generous contribution you can afford -- $35 or more will still get you a free copy of "Saying Yes," or your choice of our other current membership premiums.

You can also send in your donation by mail -- visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ and click on the PDF link to print out a form to send in, or just mail your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036 -- and contact us for instructions if you'd like to make a contribution of stock. (Remember that donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to support our educational work, make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation, same address.)

Please visit http://www.drcnet.org/wol/289.html#sayingyes if you haven't read Phil Smith's review of "Saying Yes," and visit http://www.cato-institute.org/events/030529bf.html for video footage of Sullum's book talk at the Cato Institute.

Again, visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ today so DRCNet can continue our efforts toward stopping the unjust "war on drugs."


9. This Week in History

From time to time, DRCNet will present "This Week in History," recounting of historical events of interest to drug policy that occurred during the coming week in previous years. This first History Week includes two events of great significance in the escalation of the drug war, and other interesting items.

June 17, 1971: President Nixon declares "war on drugs." At a press conference Nixon names drug abuse as "public enemy number one in the United States." He announces the creation of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP), to be headed by Dr. Jerome Jaffe, a leading methadone treatment specialist. During the Nixon era, for the only time in the history of the war on drugs, the majority of funding goes towards treatment, rather than law enforcement.

June 19, 1812: The United States goes to war with Great Britain after being cut off from 80% of its Russian hemp supply. Napoleon invades Russia to sever Britain's illegal trade in Russian hemp.

June 19, 1986: The death of Len Bias, a promising college basketball star, from a cocaine overdose, stuns the nation. Ensuing media reports provoked and public concern sparked a political frenzy in which Congress passed harsh mandatory minimum sentences, radically altering the framework of federal criminal sentencing, without holding hearings.

June 19, 1991: Colombia's assembly adopts a news Constitution which bans extradition, to take effect July 5th, in a secret vote. Brutal drug lord Pablo Escobar surrenders to Colombian police the same day.


10. Newsbrief: European Union Presidency Calls for Frank Discussion of Drug Laws

In an address to the European Union's Dublin Group on drug policy, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou called for a frank discussion of drug laws "without taboos." Papandreou was speaking on behalf of the Greek government, which now holds the presidency of the European Council. The council, which represents the governments of Europe, and the European Parliament, together form the political institutions of the European Union (EU).

The EU must formulate a common drug policy, Papandreou said, and must begin a debate that is open and frank. "If we do not speak openly, if we do not discuss these issues without taboos, we shall not be able to achieve effective solutions. The more open and frank we are, I believe the more easily we shall be able to arrive at certain joint positions." Noting a "polarization" between countries with more lenient policies and those favoring existing international drug conventions, Papandreou called for rising above rhetoric and "ascertaining what works and what must be changed." That dialogue would, of necessity, include the US, "the leader in the area of anti-narcotics policies," Papandreou said.

The Greek foreign minister gave his imprimatur to harm reduction policies, despite the opposition with which they are greeted in some member countries. "I continue to believe that it is a justified approach, but there is some ambiguity which allows certain misconceptions and criticism by international narcotics control agencies of the practices adopted in certain countries, as well as hesitation on the part of other countries to adopt measures which have proven effective."

Papandreou also told attendees that decriminalizing drug use was becoming increasingly accepted and that "we must examine this issue, to see how we will deal with users."


11. Newsbrief: Demonstrations Mark Thailand Drug War Killings

Demonstrators protesting the murders of more than 2,000 Thais as part of the Thai government's war on drugs that began February 1, gathered in New York, Washington, DC, and other cities worldwide Thursday to demand an end to the slaughter. The day of action, called by a coalition of organizations including Lifeline, The (Methadone) Alliance, the UK Harm Reduction Alliance, Transform Drug Policy Institute, the International Harm Reduction Association and the Thai Network of Drug Users, was designed to repudiate the Thai government's campaign and show support for an effective, nonviolent response to Thailand's drug problems and AIDS epidemic.

  Drug Policy Alliance's Bill McColl
prepares to deliver petitions to the
embassy, with representatives of
Student Global AIDS Campaign
In New York City, protestors stood in solidarity with Thai activists at Thailand's mission to the United Nations, as the Thai Drug Users' Network presented a letter to be delivered to the prime minister calling for an end to repression and the adoption of more humane policies. "The Network has been paying close attention to the implementation of government policies to solve Thailand's drug problems, especially since the announcement and execution of the 'War on Drugs,'" the letter noted. "We would like to compliment the government on its seriousness and dedication to raising the issue of drugs as a matter of national priority. However, we are of the opinion that the government still lacks an adequate understanding of the problem and, in trying to address the problem, neglects to include drug users in the process, despite the fact that drug users possess valuable expertise and are directly affected by policies intended to solve the problems related to drugs in Thailand. Your information deficit and exclusion of drug user participation in policy development preclude the possibility of your policy's success, and has had negative consequences for an enormous number of innocent people, including drug users."

Instead of repression and social exclusion, the Network said, the government must:

"Eliminate the policies that promote violence in addressing the drug problem. Investigate each case of murder or other gross negative consequence following the government's announcement of its war on drugs.

"Promote educational campaigns about drugs and drug use that provide comprehensive and factual information. This will result in a well-informed public and not cause drug users to be reviled and discriminated against by society.

"Rescind any law or policy that violates or leads to the violation of drug users' human rights, such as mandatory HIV-antibody testing, exclusion from anti-retroviral therapy access for HIV-positive drug users, etc.

"Urgently implement programs that aim to reduce the dangers associated with drug use, and provide information to prevent the spread of HIV among drug users. Establish programs to make clean needles and syringes available, which will reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis among injectors.

"Cover costs related to prevention, care and treatment for drug users, including rehabilitation, detoxification, and substitution therapy, under the national health care plan.

"Involve both active and former drug users at all levels to address drug-related problems in Thailand, including policy development."

No sign yet the prime minister is listening.


12. Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Provider Gets Prison Time

In a non-jury trial, a Marion County judge Tuesday found Robert Gray, director of the Medical Cannabis Resource Center in Salem, guilty of marijuana possession, manufacture and distribution and sentenced him to 40 months in prison. Also found guilty was Linda Johnson, Gray's girlfriend and grower, who was sentenced to 18 months probation.

While Gray had vowed a noisy defense after his arrest 15 months ago, Tuesday's convictions came after Gray and Johnson dropped demands for a jury trial and stipulated to facts that supported a guilty verdict. That was a tactical move, Gray told the Salem Statesman-Journal. "I had no choice," Gray said. "He wouldn't allow me to use medical marijuana as an affirmative defense. I didn't plea because I didn't commit the crime. I need to take it to the Supreme Court on appeal."

Gray would appear to be arguably within the boundaries of Oregon law, but that's not how the Marion County criminal justice system saw it. Police raided and prosecutors prosecuted the case as a drug trafficking case, and Marion County Judge John Ochoa refused to allow Gray to present a medical marijuana defense.

Gray and Johnson were arrested after the Marion Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team raided Johnson's residence next door to the center and found 37 plants and a pound of dried marijuana. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act allows each patient or his caregiver to grow seven plants and possess up to seven ounces of marijuana, and the law also allows doctors to recommend more. Gray, who is a certified medical marijuana cardholder, said he was growing for about a half-dozen patients, including himself. That would add up to 42 plants and a pound-and-a-half of dried pot.

As Gray vowed to appeal and promised to file a lawsuit against Marion County, about 25 supporters applauded. Johnson, with whom Gray lived, was sentenced to 18 months probation, ordered to undergo evaluation for drug treatment, cease being a caregiver and, to add injury to injury, ordered to stop associating with Gray. "I'm only a caregiver," she said. "I don't smoke it. I do it just to help someone out."


13. Newsbrief: Drug Czar Declares War on Summer

Summer is a threat to the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov) quixotic crusade against marijuana, drug czar John Walters announced Tuesday. "Many parents don't know that new teen marijuana use spikes in the summer," Walters said as he rolled out his latest anti-marijuana campaign, "School's Out: Don't Let Your Teen's Summer Go to Pot."

Nearly 5,800 teens will try marijuana for the first time each day this summer, Walters warned, citing statistics from last year's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse that found nearly 25% of all first-time teen pot use occurs in June and July and nearly 40% during the four-month period from May to August.

The summer anti-marijuana campaign finds the drug czar teaming with the YMCA, the American Camping Association, and the multi-mall-owning Mills Corporation in a less than completely altruistic effort to keep kids at the gym, at camp, or at the mall and away from the evil weed this summer. The campaign will distribute anti-marijuana propaganda at malls and theaters across the country in coming weeks.

While Walters' summer threat is hyped -- the numbers suggest marginally greater first-time use at best during summer -- it carries an unspoken corollary: Some months must have lower rates of first-time teen use. We await with anticipation the November unveiling of Walters' "Let's Just Chill Out and Relax About Pot For Awhile" campaign. Or perhaps a seasonally-based, color-coded marijuana warning level system similar to the one used in that other war against an abstract entity. Summer could be Code Orange, rising to Code Red each weekend, while winter could be Code Green -- no, wait, oh... never mind.


14. Newsbrief: Supreme Courts Again Says No to Cincinnati Drug Zone Ban Law

The US Supreme Court rejected for the second time Monday a Cincinnati law that created a "drug exclusion zone" banning anyone convicted of certain drug offenses from the city's poor, black Over the Rhine neighborhood. The court rejected without comment an appeal by the city asking it to overturn a US appeals court ruling that found the ordinance an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of association and movement. The Supreme Court had earlier rejected the city's appeal of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling throwing out the law on similar state constitutional grounds.

The law was part of an aggressive push by Cincinnati's white city fathers against crime and drug dealing in Over the Rhine, a push that in the late 1990s led to more drug arrests in the neighborhood than there were residents and contributed to the anti-police riots that put the city in the national spotlight in April 2001. But even after being repeatedly rejected in the courts and seared by the riots, the city continued to try to revive the drug exclusion zone ordinance (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/223.html#exclusionzone).

Now the ordinance should be dead once and for all. It has been effectively dead since 2000, when the city quit enforcing it after adverse court rulings, but between 1996 and 2000 more than 1,500 people were served exclusion orders. Among them were Patricia Johnson and Michael Au France, who challenged the law. Johnson, a grandmother, was barred for 90 days from Over the Rhine after being indicted (but never tried or convicted) on marijuana distribution charges. Au France, a homeless man with various drug-related convictions, was barred from Over the Rhine for four years, thereby depriving him of the ability to go to his attorney's office or seek shelter from social service organizations in the neighborhood.


15. The Reformer's Calendar

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

June 16-20, Cartagena, Colombia, World Social Thematic Forum, including drug policy track organized by Mama Coca. For further information, visit http://www.fsmt.org.co/eng-narcotrafico.htm 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 http://www.skateforjustice.org 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 http://actioncenter.drugpolicy.org/ctt.asp?u=3456&l=1908 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 http://www.hempfest.org 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 http://www.drugpolicy.org 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 http://www.festival-du-chanvre.com for further information.


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