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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #308, 10/24/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Bolivians Deal Blow to US Andean Drug Policy
  2. University of Virginia Drug Bust Draws Complaints, Disbelief
  3. Seattle's Sensible Marijuana Initiative Idea Catches On -- Eugene Next?
  4. DRCNet Interview: Robert Rapplean of Parents and Educators for the Reform of Drug Laws
  5. Press Release: Pain Coalition Seeks Relief Through Chronic Pain Treatment Act
  6. Newsbrief: Hawaii to Prosecute Mother in Meth Baby Case
  7. Newsbrief: Urine Sales Case Before South Carolina Supreme Court
  8. Newsbrief: What Racist Drug War? Ask Maryland
  9. Newsbrief: Latest Gallup Poll Finds Public Believes Drugs a Serious Problem But Not the Most Serious
  10. Newsbrief: Glacial Movement on Ganja Decrim in Jamaica
  11. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  12. Newsbrief: Canada to Look at Subsidized Housing for Junkies
  13. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  14. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Bolivians Deal Blow to US Andean Drug Policy

The US-backed reign of Bolivian President Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez de Lozada crumbled last Friday under the weight of mass protests against his free market economic policies and his refusal to end coca eradication. Goni's departure under pressure also signaled a severe blow to the Bush administration's hard line on coca eradication, not only in Bolivia but throughout the Andean region. But while Washington's ally seeks solace in sunny Miami, his successor, new President Carlos Mesa, now faces the same contradictory pressures -- from Washington on one hand, from the Bolivian masses on the other -- that drove Goni from office.

Last week, DRCNet reported on the increasing violence and mounting death toll as Bolivians by the tens of thousands took to the streets to demand an end to US-imposed free market economic and anti-coca policies. While the immediate spark for the popular rebellion was a plan to sell Bolivian natural gas to the US and Mexico via traditional rival Chile, by all accounts the unrest was rooted in long-standing complaints over coca and the economy.

The day we published, Sanchez de Lozada resigned, and what could be a new era in Bolivia and Bolivian relations with the US began. New President Mesa, who was Goni's vice-president but who distanced himself from the president as the death toll at the hands of security forces mounted, now must begin the delicate task of balancing popular aspirations against the wishes of the United States. And the leaders of the popular uprising, foremost among them Evo Morales, the coca-grower leader turned political powerhouse, have put Mesa on notice that he has limited time to act on their demands.

While Mesa has promised a referendum on the gas issue, he has so far made only the vaguest pronouncements on broader economic issues and on coca. That will go only so far with Morales, leader of the Chapare coca growers and head of the Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS), the second-largest bloc in the Bolivian congress. "Within a month, he has to start giving some clear signs," Morales told the Associated Press Tuesday. "If not, once again, the people will take to the streets." But in the meantime, Morales warned, "if Mesa doesn't want problems with the coca sector, he must stop the eradication of the coca crop until we achieve definitive agreements on the matter."

Morales, who represents thousands of coca-growing families who have lost livelihoods because of US-imposed eradication programs, told the AP he would be happy to cooperate with authorities in fighting the drug trade -- as long as they go after traffickers he said sit in congress. But he also defended the traditional use of coca within Andean culture and urged its use in other, non-drug products be accelerated. "I have offered to create a drug-fighting alliance," Morales said. "But coca is not a drug within the Aymara and Quechua (indigenous) cultures."

The cocaleros of the Yungas and Cochabamba joined Morales in calling for an end to Law 1008, the much-hated anti-drug and coca eradication law, and for an immediate end to eradication while commercial applications that would sustain broader legal planting are studied. "To find more legal markets for the coca leaf is to close the space for the drug trade," Yungas cocalero leader Dionisio Nunez told the newspaper Los Tiempos. "A new president can't return to a policy of repression and militarization" to combat drugs, Núñez reiterated for the benefit of the New York Times. "There has to be a change, to a policy that is truly Bolivian, not one that is imposed by foreigners with the pretext that eradication will put an end to narcotics trafficking."

Similarly, Felipe Quispe, leader of the One Union Confederation of Bolivian Peasant Workers (CSUTCB), a largely indigenous grouping, has demanded that the new government address a list of indigenous demands ranging from coca to economic policy. Quispe gave Mesa a slightly longer honeymoon -- three months -- before he would once again unleash new social conflicts, according to the Bolivian press agency Bolpress. If Mesa fulfills his promises, "he will be our friend," Quispe said. But if not? "That's to say he's a friend of the gringos, and will be our enemy."

But the lead gringo in Bolivia, US Ambassador David Greenlee, continued not only to state the US hard line this week, but also to betray a certain obliviousness to the political repercussions of those policies. "We think on balance that our policies and our emphasis on alternative development, together with Bolivian participation and their own policies regarding drugs, have been positive things for Bolivia," Greenlee told the Times Monday. "We don't think it is a problem."

But "Latin America's success story in the war on drugs," as US officials had taken to describing Bolivia, has just blown up in their faces. And while US officials point with pride to the massive ongoing eradication program in Colombia, reports from the region suggest that coca cultivation is reemerging in Peru as well as expanding in Bolivia. In all three countries, the US pursues the drug war hard line with little thought of the political consequences. As a result, US policy feeds the Colombian insurgency and now appears to be helping fuel the resurgence of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) Maoist guerrillas in Peru, who protect peasants and traders from repression there.

The Bush administration just has too much on its plate to make Andean coca a real priority, said Larry Birns, executive director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (, a Washington, DC-based think tank. "Since September 11," Birns told DRCNet, "drug policy in the region has gone from being an independent policy to being a dependent policy. US drug policy is now distinctly collateral to the main thrusts of administration policy, which are trade and terrorism," Birns explained. "I think you may see a de facto reduction in US anti-drug activity in the region and more and more calling those involved in the trade 'terrorists.' There is blurring between political opponents of the US and terrorists," he added. "This is an ominous development."

The US has already been trying that tack in Bolivia, with little success. It attempted to get Morales thrown out of Congress and has tried to link him with both home-grown guerrilla groups and Colombian rebels. From Miami this week, exiled former President Sanchez de Lozada was still playing that game, referring to the opposition in an AP interview as "narco-unionists" and "terrorists."

New President Mesa, a political independent, historian and former television journalist, has a grace period now, but the clock is ticking, and like all Bolivian leaders in recent years, he is caught between the wishes of the powerful Americans and the needs of his own countrymen. "I don't think the looming confrontation has changed," said Elaine Starmer, program associate at the Latin America Working Group ( "How the new government will deal with popular demands and whether the US will allow more flexibility remains to be seen."

2. University of Virginia Drug Bust Draws Complaints, Disbelief

The Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) task force was so proud of its sweep of low-level drug dealers around the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville earlier this month that it held a press conference to celebrate the arrests of 15 of 33 indicted suspects. JADE also displayed a flair for the theatrical by dramatically bursting into campus area bars to arrest its targets -- even though it could simply have arrested them at home -- and by arranging a sting where targeted students were invited to join a new UVA secret society, but were instead driven off to jail in a van painted with the logo "Zeta Tau."

JADE consists of members of the Charlottesville Police Department (6 officers), the Albemarle County Police Department (3), the UVA Police Department (3), the Virginia State Police (1), the DEA (1), FBI (1), and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (2). In existence since 1995, JADE last year picked up added duties as an anti-terrorism task force, but has so far made no terrorism-related arrests.

While the cops crowed at what they considered a public relations coup, the busts have led to spontaneous protests by some UVA students and raised a host of questions about law enforcement priorities and practices in the Charlottesville area. The questions revolve around not only the show-boating behavior of the police, but also the rather paltry results of JADE's 15-month investigation, complete with undercover informants, into campus-area drug dealing.

For all the police ballyhoo about dealing with the campus area drug menace, they didn't come up with much. Fifteen months of investigating turned up 33 people, most of them charged with delivery of less than a half-pound of marijuana. Of the 15 people arrested in the first sweep, 14 were busted for dorm room-scale pot sales, while two faced cocaine distribution charges, and one poor soul was indicted for misdemeanor distribution of less than half an ounce. One was indicted for both marijuana and ecstasy sales. JADE warriors also turned up about $20,000 in cash and drugs -- a paltry average of some $600 per indicted individual. Additionally, JADE conceded that it had smashed no drug ring, only made a serious of unconnected arrests.

"What a complete waste of university, local, state, and federal law enforcement dollars," said Darrell Rogers, national director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( "That task force spent 15 months finding some kids selling a few bags of weed?" he scoffed. "Please."

Operation Spring Break Down also drew scorn from the Marijuana Policy Project ( "It shouldn't even be necessary to say that this is an absolutely crazy waste of law enforcement resources," said MPP communications director Bruce Mirken. "Memo to law enforcement: college kids sometimes smoke pot, and civilization has yet to crumble," Mirken continued. "But the upshot of this is probably that a number of students are going to have careers and futures ruined or at least seriously derailed for what certainly sounds like no good reason."

But drug reformers weren't the only ones complaining. In an opinion piece in the UVA Cavalier Daily, associate editor Alec Solotorovsky, ripped into the operation: "Either drugs are not a major problem at the University, or JADE is not competent to investigate the problem of drugs at the University," wrote Solotorovsky. "If 33 indictments and $22,000 worth of narcotics are the extent of the University's drug problem, then our law enforcement resources could be put to better use. But if those seizures and indictments are representative of a larger drug problem, they're a sorry prize for 15 months' work."

There do appear to be normal levels of recreational drug use at UVA, if student opinion as expressed in various Cavalier articles is to be trusted. Students quoted in the Cavalier said that drug use was not unusual at the school. One UVA student who asked that his identity not be revealed told DRCNet that many students used drugs recreationally, mainly marijuana, adding, "I don't know that it's a major problem." On the other hand, the student said, "many students were shocked by the bust and felt it unjust."

The sting using the fake secret society van also offended academic sensibilities at UVA, the student told DRCNet. "A lot of people are critical of the operation because of that," he said. "Secret societies are a UVA tradition, and this just seemed like a horrible abuse of that tradition just to humiliate those kids. It seems like this was less designed to bust drug dealers than to humiliate the university."

The arrests also sparked a more visceral reaction from one group of UVA students, the self-styled Rabble (or Rabblers), who last week counterattacked with a blitz of flyers on campus denouncing the task force and chalk-drawn pot leaves on university walls. Some of the leaves had the web address of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( written beneath. The bright green flyers sported the word "JADED" in large type and criticized law enforcement priorities. Some fliers featured a picture of a long-uncaught campus-area serial rapist, suggesting that police funds could be better spent.

"We are appalled by the actions of our government," wrote the Rabblers in an e-mail seeking assistance. "Our government is making a side show out of us, abusing their power and exploiting their people. Entrapment, unlawful surveillance -- are these not extreme measures, both financially and legally, to be taking for such a small amount of drugs?"

"There is quite a bit of resentment about the busts," one Rabbler told DRCNet. "A group of us made about 500 flyers (with 20 or so different but related messages) protesting our local and national law enforcement's recent actions, the Patriot act that allowed it, as well as the drug war as a whole," she said. "We used flyers and chalk so as not to break any rules; we want to make this peaceful and legitimate," she said.

But the Rabble is isolated, she said. "Unfortunately, we don't have a drug reform group on campus right now. We hope to change that by the end of the semester."

The task force stands by its work. "It was a pretty good yield, based on its target audience," said JADE member Sgt. CR Smith. "Most of these people were indicted on more than one charge, predominantly felonies," she told DRCNet. When queried as to the puny nature of such felonies, Smith said, "You have to start somewhere."

As for charges that aspects of the operation, such as the secret society van sting, were related more to theatrics than policing, Sgt. Smith defended the sting. "The Zeta Tau van was a very safe way to bring a number of them in," Smith explained. "It was safer for them and safer for us," she said, raising the specter of the heavily-armed, drug-crazed college pot dealer. As for making splashy arrests at campus area bars, Smith said, "If we could have gotten them at their houses, we would have." She did not explain how the home addresses of the subjects of a 15-month investigation could elude the task force.

Smith also pooh-poohed any connection between JADE's efforts and the failure of local law enforcement to catch the serial rapist. "Our budget is totally separate from the Charlottesville Police Department," she explained. "Besides, some of the things we seize produce money for us. All of our drug buy money is seized money."

So it goes down in Charlottesville. But hey, at least they aren't trying to seize the fraternities, as was the case in 1991's Operation Equinox, a drug war excess so over the top it caused a national stir (

3. Seattle's Sensible Marijuana Initiative Idea Catches On -- Eugene Next?

More sensible marijuana policy initiatives may be about to hit the pot-friendly Pacific Northwest. It started with Sensible Seattle, the group whose initiative ordering Seattle police and prosecutors to make marijuana possession arrests their lowest priority cruised to an easy victory in September ( Now, a similar initiative is getting underway just a few hours down the I-5 corridor in Eugene, Oregon.

A group calling itself Sensible Lane County -- Eugene is the county seat -- is working on final language for an initiative that would bar the county from spending public funds for marijuana law enforcement, arrests, prosecutions, and county jail time. Initiative organizers told DRCNet this week that the initiative may also include language forbidding Lane County law enforcement from contracting with the federal government in marijuana eradication and raids against medical marijuana patients.

"This initiative will block the county from spending money to harass adults who use marijuana. It does not apply to minors, and it does not apply to marijuana-related commercial activities. As citizen legislators, we can cut off funding for marijuana arrests, prosecutions and punishment by county officials," said Sensible Lane County ( co-director Chris Wise. "We intend to do just that. Let's get people out of county jail for personal marijuana use. Let's quit wasting our tax dollars on marijuana enforcement," he told DRCNet. "We became aware of what voters in Seattle were doing to get law enforcement to stop spending money persecuting people who use cannabis, and we decided to follow their example," he explained.

"All we have is a draft at this point," Wise said. "We have had an analysis come back from the legislative council and we are redrafting based on their comments. We are also consulting with the Oregon ACLU and with state Rep. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) on the draft," Wise continued. Still, he said, the goal is to have the initiative drafted and signatures gathered in time to get the issue on the November 2004 general election ballot. That will require a signature gathering campaign completed by the end of June, he said.

Wise also cited the experience of Mendocino County, California, where voters directed county officials to leave alone gardens of less than 25 plants, then threw out a sheriff and district attorney who refused to comply. And Wise and Sensible Lane County co-director Eileen Erdelt pointed to a recent DEA raid against a medical marijuana patient and grower in Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal under state law. With more than 6,000 registered patients and nearly 4,000 registered providers, the state could be fair game for rampaging federal agents. It happened October 2 to Lebanon, Oregon, resident Travis Paulson, whose garden was raided and his medicine seized by the DEA.

"We do not want Lane County authorities to aid and abet this behavior," said Wise, "and that is why we are considering language that would bar county law enforcement from cooperating in federal marijuana law enforcement. But we are not certain at this point we will include that. We have to make sure it would not violate a provision in the state constitution that bars separate issues on one initiative, and there is also the issue of funding a campaign that included that language." Sensible Lane has a grant application pending with the Marijuana Policy Project (, Wise said. "They are interested in the language barring participation with the feds and may fund us."

MPP communications director Bruce Mirken confirmed that an application is pending and that MPP is interested in just such language in an initiative. "Any time a community chooses to just say no to the war on pot, we see that as a step in the right direction," he told DRCNet. "This is important both locally and symbolically as a step away from these absurd national policies. We're inclined to support these efforts if we think they're feasible," he said.

Sensible Lane isn't just sitting around waiting for grants to roll in, though. "We have formed a political action committee for Sensible Lane," said Erdelt, who also operates Cannabis TV, a Eugene cable access program. "We're looking for funding. We'll go door to door to register voters and fundraise, and we'll also organize fundraisers and celebrations through June. We also have a few high-donor fundraising parties planned," she explained. "The consciousness here is so good, we basically just need to go out and visit people. We are very confident of the community support we will find," said Erdelt.

"And one of the primary goals of the PAC is to defeat George Bush. We are registering voters both to get the initiative passed and to defeat Bush," she told DRCNet. "Vote against one Bush, vote for another," she laughed.

Such an overtly partisan approach might just work in Eugene, a city known as a hot-bed of Greens, anarchists, and similarly minded folks, said Mirken. "You have to design your campaign around the constituency you're talking to," he told DRCNet. "In San Francisco or Seattle or Eugene, an anti-Bush campaign would be very popular. Clearly on marijuana and drug policy, Bush has been absolutely horrible, but people could have differing views about Iraq or the economy, and you need to discuss this with the public in a way that does not alienate potential voters."

Lane County officials contacted by DRCNet shared no views on the merits of President Bush, and while they were not exactly jumping for joy over the prospect of an initiative that would block the county from enforcing marijuana laws, neither were they rabidly opposed. (Lane County District Attorney Harcleroad, identified by Sensible Lane as a real foe, was out of town at a legislative conference and unavailable for comment. Sheriff Jan Clements was similarly unavailable for comment, but told the Eugene Register-Guard last week that "the law is the law"). A Eugene police spokesperson pronounced herself unconcerned about the initiative, telling DRCNet it would not have much impact on the city's police practices.

But Lane County public affairs officer Tony Vieda begged to differ. "Their cops may arrest people, but they would have to use our courts and our prosecutors to try them and our jail to incarcerate them," he said. "Eugene investigates and arrests, then it becomes a county matter. The district attorney has to use resources even to decide if a case merits prosecution." While Vieda joined the Eugene police in suggesting that simple possession arrests were relatively rare, he did not venture an opinion on the substance of the initiative.

Lane County Judge Darrell Larson wasn't so reticent. "I think an initiative like that would be impractical," he told DRCNet. "How does the poor cop on the street apply something like that? Sometimes you're investigating a marijuana case and you find other drugs, sometimes you're investigating stolen property and you find a grow," said Larson, who served as a drug court judge in Lane County through 2001.

"There are also a lot of misconceptions about marijuana," Larson continued. "It makes people who use it lethargic and nonproductive, but it's not a real threat to the community -- except when people are driving. As a judge and a member of the community, my real concern about marijuana smokers is that they're clueless as to the risk they pose behind the wheel to themselves and others." [Ed: The risk of mayhem by marijuana-impaired drivers is often raised, but finds little support in scientific literature on marijuana and driving -- and no more justifies prohibition than drunk driving justifies prohibiting alcohol. See for a discussion of this.)

While Larson went on to bemoan the recalcitrance of some marijuana addicts, even noting that they sometimes disrupted drug treatment groups by justifying their drug use, and declared himself opposed to marijuana legalization, he conceded that "jail is not the answer." Treatment works, said the judge. Still, said Larson, marijuana is "a unique drug in that there is a broad general acceptance of it as a substance. Even though it's unlawful, it's not so unlawful, if you know what I mean."

Sensible Lane County aims to make it even less unlawful, and if Judge Larson is any indication of what they're up against, they have a lot of talking to do.

4. DRCNet Interview: Robert Rapplean of Parents and Educators for the Reform of Drug Laws

A new, grassroots drug reform group grows in the shadow of the Rockies. Parents and Educators for the Reform of Drug Laws (, formed by concerned citizens in the metro Denver area, aims at taking the struggle against the war on drugs and the propaganda apparatus that sustains it to two groups deeply concerned about the impact of drugs and drug policy on the nation's youth. With a core group consisting of educational director Tiffany Rapplean, administrator Robert Rapplean, graphic designer Cecilia Barrett, and webmaster James Vances, PERDL is just beginning to make its contribution in the long battle for a safer, saner drug policy. DRCNet spoke with Rob Rapplean earlier this month.

Drug War Chronicle: There are already a number of drug reform groups or political organizations out there, nationally and even in Colorado. Why the need for another one?

Robert Rapplean: We wanted an organization that specifically focuses on teachers and parents. For one reason or another, we couldn't get much support from other local organizations. I've actually hooked-up with most of the reform groups in Colorado at one time or another, and while some people are doing good work, others seem to be in it because it's cool or for some form of self-aggrandizement. So instead of attempting to get another group to share our vision, which I've found virtually impossible, we created this group. We've been planning this for a couple of years, although, naturally, we didn't hear about Teachers Against Prohibition [since renamed Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, still at on the web], until after we had our first meeting.

Chronicle: What does PERDL do?

Rapplean: We just had our first meeting last month, so we are just getting off the ground. We had about 20 people show up -- some educators, some parents, some merely concerned citizens -- and they were all very enthusiastic about PERDL's mission. What we aim to do is create educational materials that we can use in presentations to educator and parent groups to show them clearly and simply that if they want to save the children, the war on drugs is something to save them from. The presentation is the key, of course; you have to provide the information in a compact and comprehensible manner. Ours has been put together by a couple of the best education professionals in the Denver area. But we continue to fine-tune it. We recently gave the presentation to a group of people capable of intelligent criticism and are adjusting as necessary.

Right now, we are generating interest on a word of mouth basis, but one of the things we will address at our next meeting [set for October 29] is the issue of how to bring this up and get it presented and convince people they should come see it. We will be producing brochures we will leave at libraries and other public places, we will staff booths at various festivals. We will go to the PTAs or to any group at all that will take the hour necessary to hear our presentation. And we have a web site, where we are accumulating information from a multitude of sources and putting that data in a format parents and teachers can easily use to find specific pieces of information supporting our arguments. Our plan is essentially to expand our organization to the point we can provide more and more effective tools, because we believe this is a battle of education. We think if people realize what they are doing with the war on drugs, they'll stop doing it.

Chronicle: What sort of arguments do you make in your presentation?

Rapplean: Our presentation gives a basic lesson in economics at a level that your typical parent can understand. Then it explains that it order for the war on drugs to succeed, you have to either stop production, stop demand, or prevent the flow of drugs from producer to user. We present evidence and arguments to show why the war on drugs is not effective in any of those three cases. Then we do a listing and synopsis of all the horrible consequences that the war on drugs causes, and compare that to the harms done by drugs themselves. This is an effective way of conveying to parents and teachers that the evils caused by the drug war are considerably worse than those caused by drugs themselves.

Then we suggest an alternative. What PERDL is calling for is not complete legalization, but changing the laws so that instead of having completely prohibited substances, we have substances that are reasonably regulated. Drugs should be kept out of the hands of children, and unlike current policies, which encourage the involvement of children in the drug trade, regulation would do that. Drugs should be taxed, and the revenues generated used to pay the social costs they create. And people who want to use dangerous drugs like heroin or PCP should have to complete an educational course before being allowed to purchase them.

Chronicle: Is PERDL a national organization?

Rapplean: Not now. We can canvas support most effectively around Denver because that's where we physically are, but our idea isn't geographically specific. It can be used anywhere. We would like to expand, we would like to find people in other cities who are capable of doing this work, but before we concentrate on expanding nationally, I think we need to demonstrate some success locally. How do we measure that? I'm not sure yet, getting people to not just listen to but act on our presentations would be a measure. If we can get 2,000 people to surround the capitol building in Denver and yell "No more drug war!" for half an hour, we might begin to get the idea across. But to really be successful, we will have to show we can use our membership list to coordinate letter-writing campaigns, to be able to encourage people to vote in one direction or another.

Chronicle: How does PERDL support itself?

Rapplean: Out of our own pockets. Once we get a stable core group, we may start charging memberships, but this is an operation with a minimal budget. Our workers are all volunteers, and our actual out-of-pocket expenses have run about $400 for an overhead projector and slides. I'm a software engineer who works at home, and I have the technical expertise to produce this. We will use free public spaces for our presentations. We will eventually seek grants or other funding, but we need to become a more established group first. We want to have existing successes to show potential funders. Once we have the talent to do a video of the presentation, we can copy it to a hundred cassettes and start sending them to people for use elsewhere. And I'm working on a flash presentation for the web. We want to get our message out in as many formats as possible to hit the broadest possible audience. And once we start getting any sort of national publicity -- and we think if someone starts converting parents and teachers to the cause of drug reform, that's news -- then we will be able to start hitting up big names like Woody Harrelson and Katherine Zeta Jones. She and her husband are both conscious of this issue, and they have children.

Chronicle: How did you get involved in this issue?

Rapplean: My brother was arrested for drug possession when I was 12, and it completely ruined his life. He spent three teenage years in various juvenile detention facilities, and that was ruinous. For more than 20 years now, I've essentially been doing examinations of social and political structures. I've researched government data, and the Internet certainly makes that easier. I've been looking at what we're doing, why we're doing it, and why we should stop doing it. What I see as a key element is the overall dishonesty that pervades the war on drugs. Just as parents and educators are a key target for all that dishonesty from the government, so they are a key target for us.

5. Press Release: Pain Coalition Seeks Relief Through Chronic Pain Treatment Act

press release from Citizens for Pain Relief and the National Pain Patients Coalition, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Citing the public health crises created by the revocation of the medical licenses and DEA certificates of physicians who treat chronic pain patients, Citizens For Pain Relief and the National Pain Patients Coalition (NPPC) are advocating for the passage of a Chronic Pain Treatment Act by the Governor and the Louisiana Legislature.

"Thousands of Louisiana citizens are suffering needlessly from
chronic pain because doctors are afraid to write the medications they need from fear of losing their livelihood," states Danny LeTard, President of Citizens For Pain Relief and the Louisiana Director of the National Pain Patients Coalition (NPPC). "This has resulted in loss of productivity, quality of life, and in some cases people choosing suicide over living in intolerable pain."

"Many physicians have been wrongly disciplined by the Louisiana State Medical Board for appropriately treating chronic pain patients because of a DEA witch hunt of doctors who treat chronic pain," states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., MD, President of the American Pain Institute. "These physicians have lost their livelihood and thousands of their patients who suffer from chronic pain have no where to go for help."

The Louisiana Chronic Pain Treatment Act will allow doctors who appropriately threat chronic pain patients to be protected from disciplinary action by the state medical board and protect the right of patients to receive proper pain management drug therapy.

The Pain Rally & Press Conference will take place on Tuesday, October 28, 2003, on the East Side Steps of the State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at noon. For information contact Kay Hoyt at (985) 792-5151 or visit online.

6. Newsbrief: Hawaii to Prosecute Mother in Meth Baby Case

In an Aloha State first, Hawaii prosecutors have charged a Kane'ohe woman with manslaughter in the death of her two-day-old son because she used methamphetamine during the late stages of her pregnancy. The decision to charge 31-year-old Tayshea Aiwohi in the infant's death came just days after the US Supreme Court upheld a similar prosecution and conviction in South Carolina by refusing to hear the case ( It also comes as Hawaii is in the midst of a full-blown methamphetamine mania fueled in part by real social problems associated with meth use, but also energized by a steady drumbeat of "the sky is falling" assessments from lawmen and lawmakers, which, along with each "meth warrior" crime, are eagerly trumpeted by a sensation-seeking press (

The charge comes more than two years after Aiwohi's infant son died a day after coming home from the hospital in July 2001. The case marks the first time Hawaii prosecutors have charged a woman based on her treatment of her unborn fetus, but Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle told the Honolulu Advertiser it would probably not be the last. Heck, said Carlisle, he might even file assault charges against "meth moms" and heavy drinkers if their babies are born injured but do not die.

"Next he'll be adding in the women who don't eat right," retorted Aiwohi's attorney, deputy public defender Todd Eddins, adding that the prosecutor's logic could see women arrested for smoking while pregnant or failing to attend prenatal doctor's appointments.

While prosecutions of women who used drugs while pregnant have occurred nearly 200 times in the US beginning with the "crack baby" mothers of the 1980s, the practice has been strongly condemned by a panoply of medical and public health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Nurses Association and American Public Health Association.

"Criminal prosecution of chemically dependent women will have the overall result of deterring such women from seeking both prenatal care and chemical dependency treatment," concluded a position statement by the American Association of Addiction Medicine, "thereby increasing, rather than preventing, harm to children and to society as a whole."

"These women are addicts who become pregnant," reads a statement by the National Association for Perinatal Addiction Research and Education, "not pregnant women who decide to use drugs and become addicts."

7. Newsbrief: Urine Sales Case Before South Carolina Supreme Court

Kevin Curtis is a rare man. It's not just anyone who can get a law passed that aimed directly and only at him, and then become the only person ever arrested -- or likely to be arrested -- under that law. And be the only person convicted under that law. But Kevin Curtis managed to do just that when his anti-drug test kit containing drug-free urine provoked the ire of a powerful politician, State Sen. David Thomas (R-Fountain Inn).

Thomas managed to get a law passed banning urine sales for the purpose of defeating drug tests, and two years later, after Thomas insisted the law be enforced, a State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) undercover agent purchased a kit from Curtis. Curtis was tried, convicted, and sentenced to six years in prison with 5 ½ suspended. He remains free on bond as the state Supreme Court prepares to decide his fate following hearing arguments Tuesday.

This is the same state Supreme Court that earlier upheld the validity of the urine sales law. In arguments Tuesday, attorneys for Curtis argued that his conviction should be overturned because there was no intent to defraud a drug test. Curtis sold his product to protect people's privacy, not defeat drug tests, they argued, and the SLED agent never told Curtis he intended to defeat a drug test.

Curtis' attorneys also argued that the trial court improperly allowed irrelevant but damaging testimony about a pornographic web site linked to a web site that was in turn linked to Curtis' web site. And, the Curtis team argued, the trial judge erred in not forcing state Sen. Thomas to testify as to whether he pressured SLED into targeting Curtis.

A Supreme Court decision is expected within 60 days, but Curtis, who no longer sells the urine and has relocated his business to North Carolina, is through regardless of the outcome. "I don't think I'll ever sell urine in South Carolina again," he told the Associated Press Monday.

Visit to read our January 2002 interview with Kenneth Curtis, the South Carolina Urine Felon.

8. Newsbrief: What Racist Drug War? Ask Maryland

A study commissioned by Maryland's Legislative Black Caucus and reported Thursday in the Baltimore Sun offers a stunning picture of racially disparate justice in the state. While blacks constitute 28% of the state's population, they make up 76% of all Maryland prisoners, the study found. Worse yet, 90% of people in prison for drug offenses in the state are African-Americans.

Maryland prison growth since 1970 has come largely on the back of the black population, according to the study conducted by the Justice Policy Institute. Blacks accounted for more than 75% of the total increase in prison population and an astounding 94% of the increase in drug prisoners, a figure that has jumped from 5% of the prison population in the 1980s to 24% now.

Maryland now trails only New York and New Jersey in the percentage of prisoners doing time for drug crimes, the study found. "The reason Maryland has the third highest proportion of drug prison admissions in the country is because too many African Americans and Latinos are incarcerated for drug and other nonviolent offenses," explained Vincent Schiraldi, report coauthor and Justice Policy Institute Executive Director. "If Maryland diverts drug and other nonviolent offenders from prison into rigorous community treatment, it will reduce unwarranted disparities, improve outcomes and save taxpayer dollars. Reducing racial disparity is key to building a more balanced and effective justice system in the state of Maryland."

Read the study and associated materials by going to and clicking on "New Report -- Race and Incarceration in Maryland."

9. Newsbrief: Latest Gallup Poll Finds Public Believes Drugs a Serious Problem But Not the Most Serious

A Gallup Poll released Tuesday finds that 71% of Americans believe the US has a "serious" or "very serious" drug problem, a high figure, but one 12 points below the 83% who said so in 2000. Similarly, only 2% of respondents identified drugs as the most serious issue facing the nation, down from 5% in 2000. Those figures are in stark contrast to the late 1980s, when President Bush the Elder was waving bags of crack around on national television and Gallup found majorities saying that drugs were the worst problem facing the nation.

Interestingly, the October 6-8 poll found that while a majority believes drugs are a serious national problem, less than half who said so believe drugs are a serious problem in their own communities. "It is common," Gallup noted, "for Americans to perceive conditions in their local communities much more positively than they view conditions in the United States, more generally."

Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents reported that drug abuse had caused problems in their families, continuing a slight upward trend evident since 1995, when that figure was 19%. By contrast, 31% reported that alcohol consumption had caused family problems.

As for "progress in coping with the problem of illegal drugs," however respondents defined it, the nation appears closely divided. Some 38% said progress was made, 32% said the nation stood still, and 28% felt that the country had lost ground. This year's figures reflect no substantive change in attitudes on "progress," with the "made progress" figure roughly the same as reported in 1972 (35%) or 1995 (38%), although lower than the all-time high of 47% reported three years ago.

Visit to read the complete findings online.

10. Newsbrief: Glacial Movement on Ganja Decrim in Jamaica

The Jamaican parliament took one more step in its sluggish movement toward a vote on marijuana (ganja) decriminalization last week. A new parliamentary Joint Select Committee on ganja met October 15 to finally consider the recommendations made by the National Ganja Commission in July 2001. Among those recommendations was the decriminalization of the use and possession of small amounts of ganja, as well as its use for religious purposes (

The meeting of the Joint Select Committee is only one step in the process that will, supporters hope, bring the issue to a vote this year. The committee will meet with the members of the national Ganja Commission in early November, and then should require only a few more meetings before making its own recommendations to parliament, committee member Delroy Chuck told the Jamaica Gleaner.

Chuck pressed his colleagues for quick action. "We have been lagging with this since 1972... I don't want us to be sitting on this next year; let us finish it this year," he said. "Let there be as minimum deliberations as possible so that the parliament can get it and let the parliament by whatever means make a decision," he added.

The National Commission on Ganja met over a nine-month period beginning in November 2000 and interviewed more than 350 people including health, legal, and other professionals and influential social leaders. The commission reported that the health consequences of marijuana did not merit making criminals out of "thousands of Jamaicans for using it in ways and with beliefs that are deeply rooted in the culture of the people."

While the ruling Jamaican Labor Party had vowed to move quickly on the commission's findings, internal divisions within the party have held it hostage. Some members fear decriminalizing ganja could bring down the wrath of the United States. But now, if the committee moves forward, the question could soon be before parliament.

11. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

It isn't the Salton Sea, location of the speed-drenched Val Kilmer flic of the same name, but Riverside County, California, is apparently close enough for at least one allegedly tweaked-out deputy sheriff. Deputy James Reynolds, 32, is facing a multitude of charges after being arrested in a sting where he was videotaped stealing six grams of methamphetamine from a crime scene. Investigators also charged that Reynolds broke into sheriff's lockers and stole speed that had yet to be placed into evidence.

Along with numerous meth possession charges, Reynolds also faces charges of being under the influence while armed, transporting methamphetamine, attempted evidence tampering, filing a false police report, embezzlement by a public officer, and solicitation to commit a felony, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office. Four other deputies, including Reynolds' wife, will not be charged. They are on administrative leave as an investigation continues into whether they knew about, but failed to report, Reynolds' alleged misbehavior.

Sheriff Bob Reynolds pronounced himself "devastated" by the charges. "We take an oath to be a cut above, and we need to conduct our everyday life as such," Doyle told the Los Angeles Times.

12. Newsbrief: Canada to Look at Subsidized Housing for Junkies

Canada Press reported Sunday that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the federal government's housing agency, is looking into alternative residential programs for drug users who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Such housing would be based on harm reduction principles and could include safe injection sites, according to a CMHC spokesman.

The proposal is in stark contrast to the United States, where convicted drug users are barred from public housing and other benefits under federal law. "We want to look at that population and how people are already helping them, or the kinds of cutting-edge ideas on how we can best create long-term housing for this group," said Jim Zamprelli, a senior policy researcher at CMHC. "Harm reduction, at least theoretically, would create an environment which doesn't bar [substance users] and recognizes that at this point maybe complete abstinence is not the answer," he added. Housing for drug users based on harm reduction principles could well include the controversial but effective safe injection sites. "One could suggest building a living environment around a safe injection facility," said Zamprelli.

The proposal got a predictably cool reaction from Member of Parliament Randy White, the conservative Canadian Alliance's shadow minister for drug issues. "This idea of harm reduction is not reducing harm. It's keeping people on drugs," he said.

13. 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.

14. 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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