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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #307, 10/17/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Supreme Court Upholds Doctors' Right to Recommend Medical Marijuana
  2. Outgoing California Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Guidelines Bill, But Movement Grumbles Over Plant Limits, Caregiver Provisions, More
  3. Bolivia on the Brink: Strikes, Blockades, Mass Marches, Dozens Killed as US-Backed Administration Teeters
  4. DRCNet Interview: Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks
  5. Newsbrief: California's Proposition 36 Generating Big Increases in Drug Treatment
  6. Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia
  7. Newsbrief: Venezuela Vice-Pres Lashes Out at US Drug Czar, CIA
  8. Newsbrief: Bill to Legalize Coca Prepared in Colombia
  9. Newsbrief: Prosecution of Southwest Virginia Pain Doc Stumbles
  10. Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill
  11. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  12. Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants
  13. Media Scan: Zurita on Bolivia/Coca, Barthwell & Kampia, Boston Phoenix on ONDCP Summit, Clarence Page, Prevention Postcards
  14. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  15. SSDP ED Search Accepting Applications
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Supreme Court Upholds Doctors' Right to Recommend Medical Marijuana

In a silent rebuke to the Bush administration, the US Supreme Court Tuesday refused to hear the federal government's appeal of a lower court decision blocking the feds from punishing doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients. While drug reform and patient advocates hailed the decision as a victory, the ruling does not make medical marijuana legal, nor does it prevent the federal government from continuing its policy of raids and arrests of medical marijuana providers. It does, however, block the Justice Department from threatening to suspend the prescription privileges of doctors who recommend medical marijuana. In so doing, it removes one tactic from the Justice Department's arsenal of techniques to harass the medical marijuana movement.

The case in question, Conant vs. Walters, originated in the Clinton administration's response to the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California under state law. Stunned by the measure's success, then drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey sought ingeniously to thwart the will of California voters by scaring doctors into not recommending or even discussing medical marijuana with their patients. While drafters of Prop. 215 sought to avoid conflict with federal law by not requiring a doctor's prescription, only a recommendation, McCaffrey countered that move by threatening doctors with the loss of DEA-controlled prescription privileges if they mentioned pot.

A group of California physicians and patients led by Dr. Marcus Conant filed suit against the federal government, charging that the no-talk policy violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Administrations changed as the case dragged on, but the John Ashcroft Justice Department was more than eager to carry on. After being handed a defeat by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the feds appealed to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court in effect told them to go away.

Drug reform groups involved in the legal effort hailed the ruling, with the Marijuana Policy Project ( calling it "an historic victory for patients and doctors." The Drug Policy Alliance (, which provided financial assistance for the court battle, characterized the decision as "a major victory."

"By deciding not to hear this case, the Supreme Court has eliminated any doubt that states have the right to protect medical marijuana patients under state law, and that physicians have the right to give patients honest advice and recommendations, whether the federal government approves or not," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia in a statement applauding the decision.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Dr. Conant, a San Francisco AIDS specialist, told the Los Angeles Times he was very pleased. "This means I can do my job again and have real conversations with my patients about medical marijuana as part of their treatment options."

Likewise, Graham Boyd of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, who argued the case for the plaintiffs, told the Times the decision not to hear the appeal was a victory for patients and doctors alike. "The Supreme Court's action today protects doctors and patients from government censorship of open and honest discussions in the exam room," said Boyd. "Patients deserve access to accurate information about all possible medicines from their doctors, including medical marijuana."

It is rare for the Supreme Court to refuse to even hear federal government appeals of lower court decisions, but that is what it did Tuesday. The Justice Department could not get the minimum of four justices to agree to hear the case. The justices appear to have been content with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling, which called doctors' ability "to speak frankly and openly" with patients a "core First Amendment right" that could not be infringed by the government.

In briefs submitted to the court, patient and medical groups such as the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the Society of General Internal Medicine compared doctors recommending medical marijuana to physicians providing advice on "red wine to reduce the risk of heart disease, Vitamin C, acupuncture, or chicken soup." Revoking the prescription-writing privileges of doctors who recommended pot to patients would erode the patient-doctor relationship and ran counter to accepted medical ethics, they charged.

The Justice Department argued that the case was about the public health, not free speech. "The provision of medical advice -- whether it be that the patient take aspirin or vitamin C, lose or gain weight, exercise or rest, smoke or refrain from smoking marijuana -- is not pure speech," argued Solicitor General Ted Olsen. "It is the conduct of the practice of medicine. As such, it is subject to reasonable regulation."

But in rejecting the Justice Department's appeal, the Supreme Court made clear it wasn't buying that argument. The ruling is important because if the court had accepted the case and eventually ruled in favor of the federal government, state medical marijuana laws would have been essentially nullified -- all eight states with medical marijuana laws have some sort of medical recommendation requirement. If doctors could not recommend, patients could not legally receive their medicine. Now, however, the federal government will have to find another means of suppressing the medical marijuana movement.

2. Outgoing California Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Guidelines Bill, But Movement Grumbles Over Plant Limits, Caregiver Provisions, More

In a frantic session of last-minute bill-signing before he is replaced by incoming Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, rejected Gov. Gray Davis signed SB 420, a bill championed by State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) that was touted as a means of clarifying Proposition 215, the state's medical marijuana law passed by voters nearly seven years ago. But while some drug reform groups and activists are claiming a victory for the movement, others are not so sure, and some are downright unhappy.

While the bill had always been a subject of debate in California's contentious medical marijuana community, it marked the culmination of a four-year effort by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Sen. Vasconcellos, and the medical marijuana movement to craft a measure that would make clear once and for all what Proposition 215 means. Although the medical marijuana measure has been in effect since 1996, law enforcement and local government in some areas of the state have been loathe to recognize the reality of legal medical marijuana. SB 420 was supposed to rectify this situation by setting state-wide guidelines for the number of plants that could be grown and amount of medicine that could be possessed, and addressing the issue of registration cards for certified medical marijuana users.

Much of the discussion in crafting the bill hinged around quantities. According to Americans for Safe Access (, a medical marijuana defense group that has played a key role in the negotiations, in late August the medical marijuana task force crafting the bill agreed to guidelines allowing for up to 99 plants, 200 square feet of garden space, and up to six pounds of prepared marijuana each year. But, ASA reported, two weeks later, under strong pressure from law enforcement and Attorney General Lockyer, Sen. Vasconcellos and his staff unilaterally changed that language. Instead of 99 plants, only six would be allowed (or 12 immature plants); there is no provision for indoor grows (garden space allowances); and instead of six pounds of medicine, only eight ounces per patient will be allowed. The bill does contain an escape clause allowing local or county governments to increase the limits, and it includes a provision allowing doctors to recommend higher amounts of marijuana as medically necessary, but those clauses have failed to quiet the squawking.

"We worked on this in a cooperative manner for years," said Bill Panzer, the Oakland attorney who helped craft Proposition 215, "and one last-minute backroom meeting spoiled all that. Now what we have is really an anti-medical cannabis bill," he told DRCNet. "The plant limits have no basis in science or medicine, and worse yet, they are nonsensical in practice. Think about it: A guy lives in the woods, grows his six permitted plants, but when he harvests them -- boom, he's a criminal because he possesses more than eight ounces. Was anyone thinking logically or scientifically when they came up with that?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

"If you're growing outdoors, you can't legally harvest your medicine," Panzer continued. "If you're growing indoors, you can't grow enough. Eight ounces of marijuana is less than a gram a day. Hell, even federal patients get an average of around six pounds a year, but SB 420 says you'll have to make do with eight ounces."

Panzer didn't only have problems with the numbers guidelines. He also criticized the caregiver provision -- if a caregiver is growing for more than one patient, all patients and the caregiver must reside in the same city or county. "So if I'm growing for two patients, one in Berkeley, and one 100 feet over the line in Oakland, I go to jail?" asked Panzer. "What does that have to do with medicine? This section is designed to get rid of the compassion clubs, which fit under Prop. 215's caregiver provisions, but don't now."

Neither was Panzer especially impressed with the voluntary registration language in the bill. Some reformers saw that language as a victory, because it would not allow the state to keep a registry of patients that could potentially be seized by the federal government and used to harass patients and providers. But for Panzer, the voluntary program neither protects patients from the feds nor gets the cops off people's backs. "That a patient could get a card that the police would honor is a wonderful idea," he conceded. "But we already have card programs and police don't honor them. Here in Oakland, where we have rather detailed guidelines for police, they are still tearing up gardens. I was in court today over one of those cases," he said.

As for protecting patients from the feds, Panzer pointed out that while the state would not have a list of names -- only patient numbers -- each county will have a list. The Justice Department could attempt to gain access to that data, said Panzer, although he found the idea unlikely. "I'm not too worried about that," he told DRCNet, "because if the feds started going after individual patients it would be the best thing for the movement."

ASA, which had worked to help craft the legislation, ended up making no recommendation to its members for or against the bill. "Our members are split down the middle on this," said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. "When we heard about the six-plant limit, we did everything we could to change it. We drove to Sacramento and walked the halls of the capitol trying to lobby for a change back to the original language. But it didn't work," she told DRCNet. "As of January 1, when this takes effect, a lot of us who are legal now will become criminals. Now, our position is that we need to make the best of it and we need to prepare ourselves for a new period of indecision."

Sherer is personally affected, she told DRCNet. "I go through four pounds a year for the tincture I use," she said. "My caregiver previously worked under no guidelines, but now he can only grow six plants. As soon as he harvests for me, he becomes a criminal. I'm thinking of taking the overage to Sen. Vasconcellos and asking him to hold it for me."

That will mean new arrests and new test cases, both Panzer and Sherer said. "If you look at the history of Prop. 215," said Sherer, "there were several court cases that began to allow it to take form. I assume it will be the same with SB 420."

"I think that more people will be arrested and there will be further in prosecutions to resolve this," Panzer concurred. "There will be huge problems. Forget the plant limits for a minute and think about doctors recommending larger amounts. How does the doctor determine how many plants are necessary? I can already foresee litigation on that issue. Doctors are already scared to recommend it, but now they have to become marijuana grow experts. They don't have that expertise," he said.

Still, said Sherer, the bill could bring progress to some parts of the state where local authorities have been particularly reactionary. "In some areas, this will be the first step toward implementation the county will have taken, in San Bernadino, for instance, or Riverside, or even Orange County. We've seen judges in Orange County saying 'there is no Prop. 215 in my courtroom.' Now there will be. That will be something real for those areas," she said.

But even that positive effect could be countered by negative responses in areas that had previously been medipot-friendly, like San Francisco. "I'm afraid San Francisco law enforcement will see this as a green light to arrest anyone who has more than six plants if we don't get higher guidelines in place by January," she said. "We are working hard right now to get those higher guidelines."

Even the Drug Policy Alliance, which described Gov. Davis' signing of the bill as "a surprising and important victory" and "a crucial step forward for reform" conceded that it will require a close eye and continuing political pressure to ensure that the bill works for -- and not against -- patients and caregivers. DPA will "monitor its implementation to ensure compliance from the government and law enforcement." DPA will also seek to encourage local governments to enact higher plant limits, the group said in a press release lauding the bill's signing.

But the fight won't just be political. Panzer and others are looking into legal challenges beyond those that will be generated by arrests down the road. "I have been contacted by some people about mounting a constitutional challenge to the law," Panzer said. "Under California law, an initiative cannot be repealed or restricted by legislative fiat unless the initiative provides for that. Many do, but 215 didn't," he explained. "This is one angle. To what extent does this violate the constitutional ban? I would argue that some sections of the bill do, especially the plant limits. Prop. 215 says patients have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical reasons. Limiting the amount they can have legislatively is like saying aspirin is legal, but you can only have as much as fits on the head of a pin."

Similarly, said Panzer, "with the caregivers it seems like we have a situation where someone was legal under Prop. 215, but is now illegal. That looks to me like good evidence the bill is in fact restricting Prop. 215. I'm researching this right now."

So, as of January 1, California's medical marijuana scene will change, and some feel more for the worse than the better. Medical marijuana in California remains a work in progress and many challenges remain. "There will have to be more arrests, more court cases to straighten this out," said ASA's Sherer. "This isn't the dream bill we all hoped it would be to save patients from arrest."

Visit to read the bill and ASA's detailed analysis of it.

3. Bolivia on the Brink: Strikes, Blockades, Mass Marches, Dozens Killed as US-Backed Administration Teeters

The administration of Bolivian President Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez de Lozada is on the verge of collapse after a week of social and political chaos that has left dozens of people dead and brought the country to a virtual standstill. Sanchez de Lozada, elected with 22% of the popular vote last year, has seen his popularity plummet to single digits in recent weeks as widespread discontent over government policies grew into a storm.

The primary catalysts for Bolivia's social unrest are starvation-level economic woes and blame for them directed by large segments of Bolivia's population at free market policies directed from Washington, DC; Bolivia is a nation where criticism of free market economics is deep and pervasive and is fueled by deep and longstanding social divides along lines of race and class. But the government's wholehearted embrace of the US approach to coca cultivation -- wipe it out -- also lies at the heart of the crisis; and in the minds of much of the indigenous majority and substantial elements of the mestizo population, the two issues are inextricably linked to each other and to intervention in Bolivian matters by the United States.

The current storm began brewing when the Bolivian government announced plans to privatize and sell off natural gas reserves. The fact that the plan included a pipeline to a port in Chile only made matters worse. That port sits on land Chile won from Bolivia in an 1879 war, leaving the country landlocked and resentful ever since. That the United States would be the destination for much of the gas didn't help either, since the US is widely viewed by Bolivia's indigenous majority as a nation that profits from Bolivia's resources while Bolivians suffer.

Nationalist protests against the plan dovetailed with parallel protests by workers and indigenous peasants demanding better living conditions. By now, hundreds of thousands of Bolivians have joined in the angry, often violent, confrontations with the security forces. And coca-grower leader Evo Morales, who controls the second largest bloc in parliament (Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS), is now sitting atop a huge, rambunctious set of popular movements poised either to force Sanchez de Lozada from power or simply overthrow the government through popular rebellion.

Protests have been building for the past three weeks, but exploded this week as the government replaced police forces whose loyalties were suspect with the Bolivian Army. The immediate result has been an upsurge in deaths, with 14 people reportedly being killed by soldiers in one day in El Alto, an industrial suburb of La Paz that is home to almost a million residents. On Wednesday, Goni backed down from the gas privatization plan, but by then it was too late to quell the rising protests. It was also too late for Morales and labor leader and congressman Felipe Quispe, both of whom are still demanding Sanchez de Lozada's immediate resignation.

By the time of this writing Thursday evening, La Paz, the capital, was in a virtual state of siege, with the international airport closed down by protestors for the third day. Food shortages loom as transport from the rest of the country is blocked. The streets are filled with tens of thousands of farmers, workers, miners, and indigenous people wielding sticks and dynamite demanding Sanchez de Lozada's removal. "Goni, murderer," came the shouts from the streets. Sanchez de Lozada is barricaded in his suburban residence, while only four tanks stand between the protestors and the presidential palace in downtown La Paz.

And the strife is not limited to the capital. Roadblocks are up all across the country, and clashes between police or the military and protestors have spilled blood in the countryside as well as the city. Thousands of cocaleros are pouring into the country's second city, Cochabamba, to add their numbers to the swelling ranks.

"It's actually a little calmer today," the Andean Information Network's Kathy Ledebur told DRCNet earlier Thursday from her office in Cochabamba. "There have been no people killed so far. But yesterday, we saw a lot of efforts to clamp down on the press. Police and soldiers confiscated editions of newspapers and magazines, and hooded men blew up the transmission tower of a progressive radio station."

Sanchez de Lozada's retreat did him no good, said Ledebur. "The government offered a referendum on the gas issue and a constitutional assembly, but at the same time its security forces were illegally entering homes, and they killed two miners yesterday. The government lacks any credibility. The people don't believe their promises."

Or, as Evo Morales put it to the Associated Press Thursday, "There are too many deaths now."

Sanchez de Lozada's effort to save his presidency is taking on an increasingly sinister tone, said Ledebur. "In his speech, he said he was not stepping down, and he said that the darkest international forces were behind this movement. He said that Sendero Luminoso [Peru's Maoist "Shining Path" rebels] was among the coca growers and, oh yes, the Colombian FARC and ELN, too. This is a national movement, the whole country is in chaos and it extends far beyond Evo Morales and the coca growers, but to link protests to a terrorist presence is really scary for us," she explained. "It is clear that Sanchez de Lozada has lost touch with reality when he adopts this 'narco-terrorist' rhetoric. He is even blaming 'well-meaning non-governmental organizations' for funding the protests. I hope he doesn't mean us; we don't have any money."

And neither do most Bolivians. More than half the population lives on less than $2 a day. That's a big part of Goni's problem. With US backing, he embarked on free market reforms during his first term, from 1993 to 1997, and he promised more of the same when he took office again in August 2002, after barely defeating Morales in the presidential run-off election. His economic programs appear to promise more austerity for the majority. While the conflict over the US-backed coca eradication policy of Goni's government is not center-stage in the current struggle for power, it has helped lay the groundwork. "It is really important to note," said Ledebur, "that during the past five years or so, the government's hard-line approach to the coca issue, which is the US government's approach, has really impeded resolution of this conflict. Even when the government and the coca growers were both willing to make concessions, the US has shut down those dialogues. So now the demands are not only Sanchez de Lozada's resignation and no gas deal to the US, but also no more US-imposed eradication policy. The coca growers are very active in these protests. There are large numbers of them here in Cochabamba today, they have been blockading in the Chapare despite a very strong military presence, and the Yungas has been blockaded for the past three weeks," the on-scene analyst reported. "Now a large contingent of coca growers has arrived in La Paz. The coca growers provide the backbone for these protests on a national level because they've had longer experience fighting the government on issues that affect their existence. They can articulate for other groups that have not experienced this before."

"US policy in Bolivia has utterly failed," said Larry Birns, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Council on Hemispheric Relations (, which Thursday joined the chorus calling for Sanchez de Lozada to resign. "The cause of eradication is not popular in Bolivia," he told DRCNet. "The US wishes to impose this policy but has been chronically unprepared to fund the necessary alternatives to coca. The US has utterly failed to interdict processed drugs coming into the US, and Bolivians resent having to spend their money to solve the US' problems."

With support for Sanchez de Lozada crumbling by the minute, the question now appears to be whether the transition will be constitutional or popular. The US and the European Union have both issued warnings that a regime change that breaks with constitutional norms will not be greeted with open arms. But the forces of mass protest, long repressed, may prove to be unstoppable if Goni refuses to step down soon.

Jaime Solares, head of a big trade union, reflected broad public opinion in the country today when he told reporters: "Let him not just leave the government, but Bolivia as well. And may he take the ambassador from the United States with him."

But Birns warned against moving extra-constitutionally to replace the government. "Evo is not acting prudently," he said. "He is going to have to build a coalition, and he is going to have to moderate his rhetoric to do so. Under the constitution, the vice-president will take over, and it is critical that this follow constitutional means. But Goni will have to go. He is now irrelevant and obsolete. The question is will the US tell him to hang tough? If so, I don't think he'll resign."

That could be a recipe for extended political and social chaos. "Bolivia is the poorest country is South America and the average Bolivian earns about $2.75 per day," explained Sanho Tree, drug policy analyst for the Institute for Policy Studies. "We've been trying to force Bolivians not to grow their most profitable crop in a country that is the size of Texas and California combined. Like our marijuana eradication efforts in California, it hasn't worked. Draconian counternarcotic and economic policies imposed by the US are pushing many Bolivians to the breaking point," he continued. "Imagine how the average US citizen would react in this situation. Americans threw off the yoke of King George III and Bolivians are rebelling against President George II and his lapdog." [Ed: King William (J. Clinton) also did his part to escalate the coca wars; the Bolivia situation is very much a bipartisan disaster. But it is George Bush who is in the driver's seat at the moment.]

Drug reformers are not monolithic in their economic views and include free marketeers, socialists and everything in between -- DRCNet's Latin American "Out from the Shadows" conference in February, for example, included both the aforementioned Bolivian congressman Felipe Quispe and Costa Rica libertarian (Movimiento Libertario) congressman Ronaldo Alfaro. But it seems increasingly clear from Bolivia that the US will not be able to achieve an economic agenda that is free market for gas and other sectors, but violently anti-market (prohibitionist) for coca. The US drug war has served to catapult a socialist coca grower leader to enormous power in Bolivia, perhaps soon the presidency; that may not be inevitable at this point, but then again it may. Perhaps America's political leaders will one day grasp the concept of choosing their battles.

Visit for updates on the situation in Bolivia from a variety of media.

4. DRCNet Interview: Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks

Judge Jerome Marks, 88, has had a long and distinguished career as a New York elected official and jurist. He served as state representative from the East Village and Lower East Side for six years beginning in 1963, then moved steadily upward as a judge, serving in the civil courts and then as a Supreme Court justice until he retired in 1992. Since his retirement, Marks has devoted considerable effort to undoing some of the worst excesses of New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws, including undertaking successful clemency petitions for a handful of people languishing in prison for years for minor roles in drug crimes. He has also been active in efforts to reform or repeal those laws. Judge Marks' years of work are being celebrated with a special dinner in his honor Monday presented by the Mothers of the NY Disappeared and the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Social Justice, two of the groups prominent in the struggle to overturn the Rockefeller laws. DRCNet spoke with Judge Marks on Tuesday.

Drug War Chronicle: Were you still in the Assembly when the Rockefeller laws passed, and if so, did you support them at the time?

Judge Jerome Marks: No, I was no longer in the Assembly by then, but I probably would have voted against those laws if I had been. Of course, now even some of the Rockefeller laws' original sponsors, like then state Sen. John Dunne, now oppose them, with Dunne being an especially prominent voice. That is unusual -- usually an effort to change a law like that comes because a different party has come to power. But when you enact a law, you can't always tell how it's going to work out. I think that's why Dunne and the others are all now very much opposed to the way this law has worked. I think even Nelson Rockefeller would be opposed to this law if he were alive today.

Chronicle: When did you start having problems with the Rockefeller laws?

Marks: I was doing civil court, but when I transferred over to the Supreme Court I started getting these drug cases. I would have these cases in front of me where if people had sold over two ounces of drugs or possessed over four ounces, they were looking at 15-25 years-to-life. That's the same sentence as murder, and it's the only nonviolent crime with that type of sentence. Most of the time, prosecutors would make an offer for a guilty plea, and I would pressure defense lawyers to accept the plea bargain because the gamble was too great. Lose and you're going away for 15 years at least. Those drug convictions were easy to prove -- they had professional witnesses, police officers who testified they made a drug buy or watched it take place. You don't have that in murder or rape trials, for instance. Even if you're innocent, it's easy to accept the plea.

I never had to sentence anyone to 15-to-life because they always accepted the plea bargains, but I was increasingly unhappy with the law. I've been a lawyer since 1940, and I can tell you that as a prosecutor, I wasn't neutral, I was gung-ho. It's the same thing with defense attorneys. The only one who is neutral in this process is the judge; he's the one who should set the sentence. I would see things like the case of Darrell Best, who was offered 1½ to 4½ years. He went to trial and got 15 years. I had to ask myself how a prosecutor could justify sending him to prison for 15 years when he had just offered 1 ½ to 4 ½ years.

Chronicle: Were you hearing similar concerns from other judges?

Marks: Not really. There wasn't a lot of time for judges to talk because in the criminal division business was very good and we were very busy. There was some concern, but there is not much the judges can do, except in the appellate courts, and the Court of Appeals found the law to be constitutional in 1975. As judges, we were bound by what the appellate court ruled.

Chronicle: You retired from the bench in 1992. How did you keep involved after that?

Marks: I had been a lawyer for many, many years and I'd had enough. I decided to take it easy, travel with my wife, things like that, but I got bored. I got in touch with a referral organization, and then went out to Riker's Island lecturing to prisoners about the dangers of drugs. I did the same thing in high schools. In 1994, I was reading the New York Law Journal and read about the case of Angela Thompson. She was 17, had come up from the South after her parents separated and the grandma who was taking care of her died. Her uncle brought her to New York. Unfortunately, he was a drug dealer in Harlem. He had five prior convictions, two of them felonies, he didn't want to be going away for life, so he wanted her to sell drugs for him. This was her guardian. He was breaking her in, and an undercover officer made five buys, only one from Angela, but it was a tenth of an ounce over two ounces. They offered her a three-year sentence, her uncle told her not to take it, her trial lasted a day, she was convicted and was facing 15-to-life. Judge Juanita Baine Newton, who also handled her uncle's case, didn't feel like she could sentence this kid to life, and she relied on the 1975 Court of Appeals decision saying there could be rare exceptions to the sentences. Judge Newton sentenced her to eight years, thinking the prosecutors wouldn't appeal because they had only sought three. Wrong.

When I read about that, I went down to see Judge Newton and congratulate her. But a year later the Court of Appeals said the judge had no discretion and had to resentence Angela to another seven years. Judge Newton resentenced her, but the judge's eyes were full of tears. Angela was pregnant when she went to prison, and she gave birth there. Her sister was taking care of the child. I thought this was a horrible injustice, so I drove up to the prison and introduced myself and told her I would try to help. I applied for clemency for Angela after she had served half her minimum time, and I got lucky. There must be about 500 clemency petitions each year; the governor signs two or three.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert used to write for the Post. He once criticized me because I didn't sentence someone to enough time. But he came around on the Rockefeller laws. "Bob Herbert owes you one," my wife said. But he evened the score by writing three or four columns about Angela's case and the Rockefeller laws. He helped generate a lot of publicity, and Angela won clemency after eight years.

After that, I had two more successful clemency petitions, but the next two after that were turned down. One of these was a woman who did 12 years. Another was that rare case of someone who was probably actually innocent -- most of these drug defendants are not. Sometimes they get off because of Fourth Amendment violations because the cops know they're guilty, but arrest them without probable cause. But this was a guy who had two priors for his own drug problem, did his time, then got married. He went with his wife to Albany, and she was involved in the traffic. He got 20 years-to-life.

Chronicle: Why isn't this a bigger deal?

Marks: There are legislators in the Assembly who want to see the laws reformed, **Aubrey has a bill, and the governor has indicated he would like to change the law, to reduce the penalties. Things were moving until September 11, when that suddenly became more important than anything. There is public support -- a New York Times poll last year saw 80% in favor of reforming the Rockefeller laws -- but the problem is, it's just not a priority. Earlier, the legislature was afraid of appearing soft on crime, but now the public is more educated than the legislators. Now, it's not a priority because voting for it will not help a lot of legislators. Of our prisoners, 80-90% are from New York City, and about 95% of them are either Black or Latino. If you're an average person upstate or in the suburbs and you're dark-skinned, this doesn't affect you. This is not a priority because it doesn't happen to the average person. The average person is concerned about health care, schools, taxes, not inner city prisoners. Voting for reform doesn't gain any votes for the legislator from the suburbs or upstate. And don't forget that upstate we have a lot of prisons, which have proven very helpful in providing jobs.

Chronicle: The legislature says it wants reform. The governor says he wants reform. This has been going on for several years, yet nothing happens. What can break the impasse?

Marks: Money. We have a $5 billion budget deficit this year, and we're not alone. States around the country are changing mandatory minimum laws, especially on drug cases. It costs the state of New York $32,000 a year to keep a man in prison. In Michigan, they will save $60 million by having repealed their mandatory minimums. We could really save some money here, and that is becoming a powerful argument. The fact that we could save millions is why I think change is now possible.

Chronicle: Some proponents of change are advocating nothing less than repeal of the Rockefeller laws. Others would settle for sentencing reforms. What do you think can be achieved?

Marks: I would like to see judicial discretion restored. If judges had discretion, most first-time offenders would receive probation, certainly the three I won clemency for would have. There is a tremendous spread in sentencing here. I must have talked to 20 or 30 inmates doing 15-to-life, most of whom would have, should have received probation, especially those with no prior record. 99% of those in prison under the drug laws are addicts or low-level, small sellers. There are very few big-time drug dealers, and I don't have much sympathy for them. Only prosecutors support the current law, because it leaves discretion in their hands. They say mandatory minimums are needed because judges are not consistent in their sentences, but that's usually a difference of a few months, not like the difference between the 1½ years you get if you plea and the 15-to-life you get if you don't. Talk about sentencing disparities! Also, by offering pleas with only a few years, prosecutors get some defendants to become squealers and give them information on more people selling drugs. I have never seen a law as bad as this. The punishment just doesn't fit the crime. And it doesn't make sense.

But I don't think even the restoration of judicial discretion is likely this year, let alone repeal. If we get action, it won't go as far as I would like, but I'm willing to take what I can get. We might be able to get some sentencing reductions.

Chronicle: What about legalizing the drug trade as a solution?

Marks: I'm equivocal. I could consider legalization, but it would have to include lots of programs for people who are addicted. No programs, no legalization. I was a great admirer of our criminal justice system as a young man, and I still am, but not as much. Back then we were concerned with rehabilitating people, but now we are more concerned with incarcerating them. We need more programs to help people. Many inmates need adult education; when I went to Riker's Island only 20% had high-school diplomas. They come from poverty, they have families with drug or alcohol problems, they don't have educations, but they could be helped. I've seen lots of them in front of me. They have street smarts -- if you could tie that in with a real education, they'd have it made. When Nelson Rockefeller was elected, we had prisons that tried to help the addicts, but they closed them up. We didn't know as much about treatment as we do now. We need more treatment. We've been going in the wrong direction, and I just hope it changes. It's not a sin to be poor, but we need to help these people, not just incarcerate them.

5. Newsbrief: California's Proposition 36 Generating Big Increases in Drug Treatment

A five-year tracking study funded by the National Institutes of Drug Abuse and implemented by the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute's Integrated Substance Abuse Program has found a big jump in admissions to treatment programs in five major California counties since California voters approved the "treatment not jail" Proposition 36 in November 2000.

The study of the first year of Prop. 36, from July 2001 to July 2002, saw admissions to drug treatment programs jump by 27% in Kern County, 21% in Riverside County, 17% in Sacramento County, and 16% in San Diego County. Only San Francisco County failed to show an increase, but it already had an extensive diversion and treatment program before Prop. 36 was adopted.

The study does not draw conclusions about the success of drug treatment programs in preventing crime or drug abuse, but it did find that drug programs have problems dealing with people with severe drug habits or multiple problems, such as a dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug abuse. Other complications included homelessness or disability. Most people in treatment were in outpatient programs, the researchers found. Most people diverted into treatment were male first-offenders with full-time jobs. Methamphetamine and marijuana users were more likely to participate, while heroin users and injection drug users were less likely, the study found. [Ed: The apparently significant number of marijuana offenders sentenced to treatment is an indication that many people who are not addicted are being sent to treatment by the criminal justice system.]

The goal of the NIDA-funded study is to identify the best ways of treating drug users who would have been sent to prison had Prop. 36 not been enacted.

6. Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia

On October 2, police in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, unveiled their 15-month "Operation Spring Break Down" by dramatically arresting 15 people -- eight of them UVA students -- and announcing that indictments for 18 others were pending. Two of the 18 had also been arrested by press time.

The operation, conducted jointly by University Police and local and federal law enforcement officials operating as the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) task force, featured a media-friendly "sting" where police posing as fraternity members invited potential arrestees to join a secret fraternity, Zeta Tau. When the five who responded to the invitation showed up at the designated location, they were escorted into a van and driven to city hall, where they were arrested. Zeta Tau really stood for "zero tolerance," joked one cop comedian.

The lawmen also touted their bust with an October 3 press conference, but on close examination there seems to be less to it than meets the eye. The cops proudly announced they had seized drugs with an estimated street value of $20,000, but that is a pretty paltry sum for a multi-month, multi-agency law enforcement effort. And while the UVA Daily Cavalier, picking up on police lingo, referred repeatedly to "narcotics," 14 of the 15 arrested in the first round were accused of marijuana sales. Authorities also admitted that while some suspects knew each other, there was no "major drug ring" involved.

Now a group of predominantly pot-dealing undergrads face prison time and expulsion from the university. The Drug War Chronicle will take a longer look at this story next week.

7. Newsbrief: Venezuela Vice-Pres Lashes Out at US Drug Czar, CIA

Venezuelan Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel struck back rhetorically against US drug czar John Walters on October 10 after Walters, in a Washington speech earlier last week, accused the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez of lending support to not only the leftist FARC guerrillas of neighboring Colombia but also Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. In the speech delivered before the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies, Walters praised Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's tough stance against both rebels and the coca farmers as a model for Latin America, and criticized other countries for not following Uribe's lead.

Walters singled out Venezuela, whose populist president had clashed frequently with Washington, for special criticism. "As has been reported in the press," said Walters, "the Venezuelan government is granting refuge to terrorist groups like those obviously involved in the drug traffic" and the Venezuelan government is "probably" providing them arms and "other sorts of support." It may also be aiding Islamic radicals, Walters threw in for good measure. While Venezuela had maintained "reasonable collaboration in some respects" with the DEA, Walters said, "the fundamental issue" is Venezuela's support of Colombian rebel groups. It's worrying for the people of the region, and it is worrying for the United States."

"This is a lie, a calumny, a total infamy," retorted Rangel at a Caracas press conference denouncing Walters' charges. "I can say that I am worried about what happens in the United States about drugs. The world's leading producer of marijuana is the United States, the world's leading drug consumer is the United States, the first country to use the financial system to recycle drug profits is the United States," Rangel said. "I am very worried about this."

For Rangel, the pressure from Walters is part and parcel of a larger effort by the Bush administration to destabilize the Chavez government. The role of the US in the attempted coup against Chavez in April 2002 continues to be murky, with many Venezuelans seeing the sinister hand of the CIA at work. Rangel told reporters the agency is still trying to unsettle the country. "I am convinced that there is a permanent campaign [by the CIA] in Venezuela and in all the region," the vice president argued. "The CIA is acting in Venezuela as it is in Brazil; in all countries where there is a politics of change, we see the CIA acting immediately," he said.

8. Newsbrief: Bill to Legalize Coca Prepared in Colombia

Colombian legislators have introduced a bill that would legalize the possession, cultivation, and consumption of coca, the Colombian media outlet Actualidad Etnica reported. First presented at last month's National Forum on Drug Policy, the proposed "Coca Law" is aimed specifically at protecting peasant, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian communities from persecution for growing a bush cultivated in the Andes for millennia. The bill would not legalize the cocaine traffic. "The growing of coca bushes and the use of coca leaf for [traditional religious] practices and for industrial, medicinal, or alimentary use will not be considered possession or use of drugs," says the text of the bill.

"The right of traditional licit uses of the coca plant is considered sacred under international and national norms that apply to Colombia," wrote the bill's authors. "It is necessary that this prerogative of taking advantage of the diverse virtues of this plant for food, medical, and industrial use that favors the indigenous communities be extended to all the population. It is necessary to have a law that -- maintaining the distinction between renewal natural resources of vegetal origin (with alkaloids) and the drugs processed from these plants -- legalizes for all the Colombian population the growing and consumption of coca."

The proposal's proponents cite the 1961 Vienna Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Colombian law as providing for the recognition of coca as distinct from cocaine, and also call for legalization of the leaf as a means of protecting the environment and aiding sustainable development. "Upon reducing the number of illicit hectares of coca, the alternative legitimate and licit uses would reduce the environmental harm generated by the use of pesticides and of chemical precursors in land and water sources in the cultivation of illicit coca," argued the bill.

Coca legalization would also presumably lessen the environmental and human toll of the US government-funded coca eradication aerial spraying program, which has covered more than ** acres with glyphosate and other pesticides. But that is the policy of President Alvaro Uribe, and it is difficult to see this bill going anywhere under his government.

9. Newsbrief: Prosecution of Southwest Virginia Pain Doc Stumbles

The federal prosecution of Roanoke, Virginia, pain specialist Dr. Cecil Knox and his employees suffered a blow October 9 when a federal judge dismissed a set of charges against him and two coworkers and dismissed all charges against an area contractor caught up in a federal sting directed at his practice. Knox and officer manager Beverly Gale Boone face life sentences if convicted of charges that they improperly prescribed opioid painkillers leading to the deaths of eight patients. Three employees faced lesser charges; one has since pled guilty under duress and testified against Knox last month.

The prosecution of Knox is one of a series of arrests of pain management specialists as part of a coordinated federal campaign to crack down on the diversion of opioids into the black market. But advocates for pain patients and doctors argue that the Justice Department is encouraging prosecutions even when doctors' prescription practices are within accepted medical guidelines. (See and for our earlier coverage of the Knox case.)

Prosecutors have attempted to portray Knox and his Southwest Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine clinic as a "pill mill" where mercenary medicos carelessly prescribed opioids such as Oxycontin to junkies masquerading as patients. But more than that, prosecutors are blaming Knox for the deaths of patients. In cross-examination, however, Knox's attorneys were able to point out that the deaths occurred long after Knox quit prescribing to those patients. Defense attorneys were also able to present patient witnesses who testified to Knox's ability and willingness to treat their intractable pain.

While Chief US District Judge Samuel Wilson did not dismiss the most serious charges against Knox and Boone, he threw out charges that Knox traded Oxycontin to local resident Edwin Shoemaker on 10 occasions. Shoemaker testified for federal prosecutors, but was unable to identify Knox, either in the courtroom or from a photograph. The judge also dismissed all charges against a third defendant, licensed counselor Willard Newbill, who had worked with the clinic. A day earlier, Judge Wilson dropped all charges against therapist Kathleen O'Gee, who was facing years in prison on medical fraud charges derived from the alleged improper prescribing.

After seeing her charges dismissed, O'Gee told the Roanoke Times she had been the target of two years of intimidation by federal agents and prosecutors. "I'm happy that truth and justice came out of it," she said. "I think that it's important to people when they're standing in the truth not to back down."

Not everyone involved in the case shared O'Gee's fortitude. Knox's longtime receptionist, Tiffany Durham, testified for the prosecution after pleading guilty to two counts of not reporting a felony -- the prescription practices of her boss, Dr. Knox. Durham had stood tough after also being charged with crimes carrying a life sentence, but that changed in August. Maybe it was because, as defense attorneys suggested, that meant that Durham, the mother of three young children, would no longer face that life sentence.

10. Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill

Despite no longer having to worry about the political consequence of his actions, outgoing California Gov. Gray Davis continues steadfast in his opposition to harm reduction measures that could save the lives of drug users. Spurning the pleas of harm reductionists to sign a bill that would have made it easier for California cities and counties to implement needle exchange programs, and ignoring the wishes of incoming Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that he not act on bills awaiting his signature, Davis wielded his governor's veto Saturday, killing the measure.

The needle exchange veto was one of five bills Davis vetoed. He signed nine others, and more than 200 more await gubernatorial action -- either by Davis or by Schwarzenegger once last week's election results are officially certified. That process must be completed within a month.

The needle exchange bill (AB 946) would have loosened current state laws that require a public health emergency to be declared before a needle exchange program could be implemented. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Patty Berg (D-Sebastopol), the bill passed with strong support from Democrats and opposition from Republicans. Needle exchange programs have proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other diseases spread by injection drug users who share syringes.

But Davis, who had signed the compromise legislation creating the exemption for public health emergencies, refused to take the next step. "This bill undermines the key element that won my support for that legislation, by eliminating the requirement for a local governing body to make a declaration of a local emergency," Davis declared in a statement announcing the veto.

11. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

This week's corrupt cop is a mystery man. Somebody at the Massachusetts State Police Troop C headquarters in Holden is a thief, and he's gotten away with $31,370 in seized drug money. The money was discovered missing from a safe in the office of Major Stephen Leary, then the area state police commander, in January 2002. In a recent update on the story, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that no money has yet been recovered and no arrests made. The incident remains under investigation, according to a state police spokesman.

The money was seized in December 2001 from Wilson Osorio of Worcester, who was pulled over during what the paper quaintly referred to as "a routine traffic stop." A police search of the vehicle turned up marijuana and cash, which was hidden inside the dashboard. Osorio is now a fugitive after failing to appear in court in September 2002.

As for the money, it appears to have released itself on its own recognizance.

12. Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants

The Harrison County, Mississippi, Sheriff's Office thought it had scored a big bust last month when it raided a hunting club and destroyed more than 500 suspected marijuana plants. Oops! It turns out the plants were actually kenaf, a plant harvested as a wood substitute and used for deer and other animal feed. And the president of the hunt club, who saw the raid unfolding on television, told Sheriff George Payne Jr. just that before Payne's raiders cut down the innocent herbs.

Now, hunt club president Bucky Waldman wants the county to pay $255,000 for the damage it did. In a demand letter addressed to Harrison County officials, Waltman accused Payne and his agents of negligence, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Walton told the Jackson Sun Herald he took the step after the sheriff's office refused to resolve damages caused by the September 8 raid on Boarhog Hunting Club land.

"I want them to fix the road and gate they destroyed, compensate me for my plants, arrest the people that were trespassing and apologize to the hunting clubs," Waltman said. "I think [Payne] made a mistake, and now he doesn't know how to fix it. I've just had my 12th heart surgery. I don't need this stress. I used to be just an old hunting club president," he complained. "Now, people know me as the old dope-grower."

Sheriff Payne had little to say, except "we were assisting the DEA-HIDTA task force on an investigation they were conducting. Everything that was done was done in the interests of public safety." That's more than either the DEA or local HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) had to say. They wouldn't talk to the local paper.

The sheriff had earlier reported that people seen picking leaves from the destroyed plaints had threatened teens cruising the property on four-wheelers. The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has done its part to fight the kenaf menace, warning that smoking it can cause illness. But no one has named the law enforcement expert who identified the plant as pot.

13. Media Scan: Zurita on Bolivia/Coca, Barthwell & Kampia, Boston Phoenix on ONDCP Summit, Clarence Page, Prevention Postcards

"Coca Culture," New York Times op-ed by Bolivian cocalera leader Leonida Zurita Vargas: (free registration required)

PBS post-Conant ruling debate between ONDCP's Andrea Barthwell and MPP's Rob Kampia: or visit and click the RealAudio link

Boston Phoenix stories featuring reactions to the ONDCP New England Governors Summit:

"So Long to a Misguided Gag Rule on the Medicinal Use of Marijuana," column by the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page:,1,3849253.column?coll=chi-news-col (free registration required)

Electronic prevention postcards from Progressive Solutions, 31 images on outreach principals and effectiveness (examples of visual aids for HIV/AIDS outreach training), impact of drug use, abuse and availability (culturally specific consequences of the illicit drug trade in the USA), and the African American condition (a short presentation designed to spark discussions concerning the complexities of being Black in America):

14. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions

The John W. Perry Fund, a project of the DRCNet Foundation in association with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, provides college scholarships to students losing federal financial aid because of drug convictions. The Fund has monies remaining for fall 2003 as well as future semesters, and eligible students are urged to apply as soon as possible.

Please visit to fill out a pre-application, print out an application form or brochure, or for further information. Students, financial aid officers, friends and family members and supporters of students, as well as media, activists, potential donors and other interested parties, are all welcome to contact us!

Supportive parties are urged to take copies around to financial aid offices, social services agencies whose clientele are likely to include drug ex-offenders, high school guidance offices, and to forward information about the Perry Fund to appropriate e-mail lists. Community and state colleges are of particular interest to the Perry Fund, because the low tuition rates enable us to fully finance a student's education in many cases, and because their student bodies include a high proportion of low income with especially great financial need.

Any applicant losing federal financial aid due to a drug conviction, however, attempting to attend any school, is welcome and encouraged to apply. We continue to raise money for the Perry Fund, and the more applications we have received, the more money we will likely be able to raise for them. Please urge potential applicants to visit for information and to apply, or to contact DRCNet at (202) 362-0030. Thank you for spreading the word.

15. SSDP ED Search Accepting Applications

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is seeking a responsible, proven leader committed to drug policy reform and grassroots activism, with vision and confidence, to lead the nation's leading student drug policy reform organization. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the ideal candidate to take Students for Sensible Drug Policy to the next level of growth and sustainability. The executive director is responsible for the continuation of productive relationships with student chapters, staff, the board of directors, board of Advisors, supporters and the drug reform community, and to continue to develop new relationships.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems. SSDP is a nonviolent youth-oriented organization that neither encourages nor condemns drug use. Rather, SSDP seeks to reduce the harms caused by drug abuse and drug policies. SSDP believes that in order to protect the autonomy of individuals' minds, bodies and spirit, drug laws and policies must always respect personal choice and freedom so long as a person's actions do not infringe upon another's freedoms or safety. SSDP focuses on drug issues with the greatest impact on young and underrepresented communities. SSDP strives to achieve sustainable policies that foster civil rights, health and safety through the exploration of alternatives to the current drug war.

Job responsibilities will include developing, leading and managing projects; leading the development program; grant writing and research; individual and member-based fundraising; managing staff and assisting student activists with the highest degree of respect; preparing the budget, maintaining financial records and managing programs within those parameters; working with the board of directors to develop SSDP; and acting as spokesperson. Additional qualifications include proven track record as fundraiser; excellent oral and written skills; experience in public speaking; ability to work with diverse communities; and savvy political understanding.

Application deadline is November 1, 2003, start date is January 2004, location is Washington, DC. To apply, visit or send resume and short writing sample (press release, fundraising letter, event announcement, etc.) to [email protected]. No phone calls, please.

16. The Reformer's Calendar

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

October 18, noon, St. Louis, MO, Missouri NORML 2003 State Conference, featuring keynote speaker judge James P. Gray, presentations by professors Fredric Raines and Chuck Terry and others, followed by dinner in St. Louis. Contact Dan Viets at (573) 443-6866 [email protected] for further information.

October 28, 6:00-8:00pm, Washington, DC, "Daughter's Keeper," book talk with author Ayelet Waldman, plus remarks by Kemba Smith, story of a woman struggling to help her daughter who faces 10 years mandatory minimum for unwitting involvement in a drug deal. Sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, copies of "Daughter's Keeper" on sale, profits to benefit Our Place DC. At Ellington's, 424A 8th St. SE (Eastern Market Metro), contact [email protected] for info.

October 20, 6:30pm, New York, NY, Tribute and Dinner Party for Judge Jerome Marks, fundraiser for the Mothers of the NY Disappeared campaign to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At Gus' Place, 149 Waverly Place (just west of 6th Ave.), minimum donation $60, call (212) 924-6980 for further information.

October 22, 7:00pm, Syracuse, NY, "Against All Odds: Cops Fighting the War on Drugs," forum with Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Sponsored by Reconsider: Forum on Drug Policy and Syracuse University Students for Sensible Drug Policy. At Syracuse University, for further information contact Gerrit Cain at [email protected] or Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected].

October 23-26, Lisbon, Portugal, Lisbon International Symposium on Drug Policy. Sponsored by the Senlis Council, visit for info or contact [email protected].

October 25, 9:00pm-2:00am, Knoxville, TN, benefit show to help NORML-UTK do public education on medical marijuana, featuring "Drum-N-Bass" and "Groove Bubble." At Friends bar, Univ. of Tennessee, 17th St. & White Ave., general admission $5 or $3 for NORML members, 18 and over. For further information, contact Greg Webber at [email protected].

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.

November 9, 9:30pm, Los Angeles, CA, "Sixty Spins Around the Sun," documentary about comedian/drug reform activist Randy Credico. Screening at the American Film Institute Festival, visit for further information.

November 16, 3:30pm, Los Angeles, CA, "Sixty Spins Around the Sun," documentary about comedian/drug reform activist Randy Credico. Screening at the American Film Institute Festival, visit for further information.

November 22, 11:00am-10:00pm, Portland, OR, "Second Annual Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards 2003." At the Double Tree Inn Lloyd Center, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information!

January 28-February 7, 2004, Hannibal, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City, MO, "Special Delivery for John Ashcroft," speaking tour by Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Roger Hudlin. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for details of individual engagements.

April 20-24, Melbourne, Australia, "15th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm." Visit or e-mail [email protected] for information.

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