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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #310, 11/7/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. DRCNet Video Review: "BUSTED: The Citizens' Guide to Surviving Police Encounters"
  2. BUSTED: Special Video Offer for DRCNet Members
  3. Pain Doctor Acquitted in Virginia -- Feds Fail to Win Single Count
  4. Drug Policy Alliance National Conference Underway in New Jersey -- State Ripped for Leading Nation in Drug-Incarceration Rate
  5. Newsbrief: NJ Supreme Court Just Says No to Vehicle Searches Where a Former Passenger Had Drugs
  6. Newsbrief: A Friend of Reform Forced Out -- Detroit Police Chief Jerry Oliver Resigns
  7. Newsbrief: China Bans Song for Opium Lyrics
  8. Newsbrief: California Woman Gets Life for Meth Baby Death
  9. Newsbrief: Amnesty International Calls on Thai Government to Name Those Killed in Drug War
  10. This Week in History
  11. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime
  12. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  13. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. DRCNet Video Review: "BUSTED: The Citizens' Guide to Surviving Police Encounters"

Many are familiar with the "bust cards" issued by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The wallet-sized cards succinctly inform readers of their constitutional rights in the event of an encounter with police. "You do not have to talk to the police without a lawyer present," the cards say, "Do not consent to any searches." In a nation that saw nearly 700,000 people arrested on marijuana charges alone last year -- the vast majority of them for simple possession -- providing such information is a valuable and necessary public service.

But glancing at a bust card and carrying it around in one's wallet doesn't simulate the high-stakes, adrenaline-charged atmosphere of a real-life encounter with the police. As any criminal defense lawyer will tell you, most people are not aware of their rights, but even those who are typically fail to exercise them in the face of aggressive, demanding police officers unready to accept anything except absolute compliance with their commands. Now, thanks to the Flex Your Rights Foundation (, a Washington, DC-based organization whose raison d'etre is teaching citizens to assert and protect their rights during police encounters, everybody has the opportunity to learn their constitutional rights and to see how to apply them in real-life situations.

Flex Your Rights has just released its instructional video, "BUSTED: The Citizens' Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," and it should be a blockbuster. A combination of civics lesson and COPS, "BUSTED" boasts the forthright narration of one of the nation's leading civil libertarians, recently retired long-time head of the ACLU, Ira Glasser. Glasser's combination of gravitas and grandfatherly mien lend his narration a credibility few could match, and his exposition of what the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments mean to people's ability to defend themselves from unwarranted police intrusions is straightforward enough that even the kid who missed civics class will be able to grasp his meaning.

But while Glasser provides the law lessons and narrative structure, the video's real grabber is the scenes where all-too-common simple encounters with police spin out of control into arrest and a slamming jail cell door. The video opens with three red-eyed, munchie-eating students driving on their way to a concert. Suddenly, the red lights come on behind. (Kudos due here to rising starlet Carolyn Lunman, the young woman in the front seat, who, according to inside sources, upon turning and seeing the police car behind them, improvised the timeless line, "Oh, crap.") From then on, it's all downhill, as the hapless trio repeatedly (and unknowingly) waive their rights until they end up in handcuffs and jail cells.

And here's where Glasser comes in. He revisits the encounter, going over every aspect of the interaction between students and the policeman and showing exactly when and how they managed to turn a simple speeding ticket into a three-person marijuana bust. The driver, Darrell, leaves his car door invitingly wide-open when he exits the car at the cop's command, allowing the officer to stick his head in, sniff, and note that "it smells like Bob Marley's ass in here." Then the officer, in typical fashion, misleads and intimidates the trio into consenting to a search of their car. "You don't have any dope in here and you don't mind if I take a look around, do you?" he asks. "No," says the unprepared driver. But has he denied having any contraband or has he consented to a search? The officer's compound question was a deliberate construction designed to confuse and trick his prey, and it worked. Then yet again, as the officer holds up a backpack and asks to look inside, he alternately cajoles and threatens until the driver yields -- despite being fully aware that he's carrying a baggie of weed -- and seals his own arrest. The young woman, too, admits to owning the pipe accompanying the baggie, thus sealing her arrest. The third young man, the most scared and stoned-seeming ("Let him look in the bag, Darrell," Troy shouts out in a panic after the cop describes how luscious the two students would look to their cellmates), ends up in cuffs, too, after admitting to having smoked pot earlier. "Thanks for being honest with me," the cop says.

The scenario is all too familiar. It has happened to us, or to our friends or relatives or classmates. And it has lead to all sorts of dire consequences: criminal records, lost jobs, embarrassment, fines, lost student loans, and on and on and on. But now, Glasser and Flex Your Rights come to the rescue. The next scene in "BUSTED" is an alternate take, with the driver fully aware of and exercising his rights. When the red lights start flashing, Darrell instructs his passengers to stay silent, then takes command of the situation. "Why did you stop us, officer?" he begins, immediately throwing off the inquisitional dynamic favored by police officers. He lowers his window only enough to converse with the officer -- not enough for him to stick his head in and sniff around. He doesn't tell the officer whether they are carrying any contraband. And he calmly and politely refuses to consent to a search of his vehicle. When the officer begins the cajoling and the threats, Darrell simply responds with "Are we free to go?" The visibly angered cop threatens to call in the drug dogs, goes to his car, returns a few minutes later, gives Darrell a speeding ticket, and leaves. "What just happened?" exults Carolyn. "Dude, you the man!" shouts Troy.

Yeah, Darrell was the man that time. By effectively exercising his rights, he saved himself and his friends from a very ugly experience. "BUSTED" does the same thing with two other common scenarios -- the street stop and the loud party -- first showing the typical, uneducated and unpracticed responses leading to arrest and jail, and then contrasting them with educated, assertive (yet non-confrontational) responses of people prepared to exercise their rights.

The acting (a mix of professionals and drug policy wonk amateurs) is good, as are the editing and production values of director Roger Sorkin, but even if it were B-movie quality hackwork, "BUSTED" would still be a critically important self-defense tool, not only for the millions of Americans who violate the drug laws on a daily basis, but for everyone in the country. After all, as Flex Your Rights executive director Steve Silverman will quickly point out, constitutional rights designed to protect us and our privacy from government intrusion belong to all of us. It's up to us to know and exercise them, and "BUSTED" does a great job helping to show us how.

"BUSTED" deserves to be -- needs to be -- seen on every campus and in every high school across the land. (After all, what is more of a civics lesson than learning how to exercise your rights?) It needs to be seen in the communities most at risk as well: the inner cities and barrios of the country.

BUSTED got rave reviews (no pun intended) at its college premier in Bozeman, Montana, last month, where 300 students skipped part of the World Series to check it out, the vast majority of them sticking out not only the 45-minute video but the question and discussion session that followed. I personally showed an informal advance screening of "BUSTED" at an apartment full of young people in Austin, Texas, last week. They grumbled at first when I turned off BET, but the complaints rapidly ceased as these kids were first enthralled by the COPS-style encounter and then entranced by the idea that they could protect themselves. One young man who had been arrested after a traffic stop just days earlier gave perhaps the most impressive and heart-felt testimonial: "Dude, I wish I'd seen this last week!"

Don't be like that kid. Get a copy of "BUSTED" now ( is one good way), and watch it repeatedly. Then show it to anyone you can get to watch. This is important.

2. BUSTED: Special Video Offer for DRCNet Members

DRCNet is pleased to offer a bold and exciting new instructional video, "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," as our new premium gift to members donating at the $35 level or above. Produced by the Flex Your Rights Foundation and narrated by retired ACLU executive director Ira Glasser, BUSTED realistically depicts the pressure and confusion of common police encounters. BUSTED's actors illustrate the right and wrong ways to handle different police encounters, in an entertaining but revealing way, with special attention focused on instructing viewers how to courteously and confidently refuse police search requests. BUSTED is hot off the press, and you can be one of the very first people to own a copy -- just visit to donate and order today!

If you've ever been stopped and searched by the police, you know how humiliating it feels to be forced to sit and wait like a child while strangers with guns tear through your personal belongings. But that could be just the beginning of your ordeal. What if the police find a marijuana seed that your friend accidentally dropped? What if they find a prescription pill with no prescription? In these cases, waiving one's constitutional rights can lead to arrest, jail, expensive legal bills and seized property. Viewing BUSTED can prevent this from happening to you and your loved ones. So visit and donate $35 or more, and DRCNet will send you a copy for free!

Your donation will also help DRCNet (and Flex Your Rights) navigate the troubled waters of our nation's struggling economy. The drug reform movement is in a financial crisis of greater proportions than we have ever seen in nearly ten years of operating -- which means that members and readers like yourself are more important to drug policy reform than ever before -- we need your help! So please visit to make a generous donation by credit card or to print a form to send in with your donation by mail -- or just send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number: 772973012, DTC number: 0188, make sure to contact us directly to let us know that the stocks are there and whether they are meant for the Drug Reform Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.

Here is some of the advance praise that BUSTED has received:

"Our precious constitutional rights are worth only the paper they are written on unless we understand and exercise them. BUSTED makes an important contribution toward transforming the Constitution's paper promises into real rights for real people."
-- Nadine Strossen, president, American Civil Liberties Union

"BUSTED provides effective instruction in how to benefit from basic constitutional rights. It deserves wide distribution."
-- Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution fellow; Nobel laureate economist

"As a journalist covering the war on drugs, I've often been surprised at how readily people consent to searches. By clearly explaining and vividly illustrating the dynamics of encounters with the police, BUSTED should help people keep their calm -- and their freedom."
-- Jacob Sullum, senior editor, Reason Magazine; author, "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use"

"Chronic disregard for civil rights is tearing apart the fabric of America. Flex Your Rights has hit the nail on the head in this hard hitting instructional video."
-- Mike Gray, author, "Drug Crazy"; chairman, Common Sense for Drug Policy

"BUSTED is the only video I know of that is providing clear and candid information about how to 'just say no' to intimidating police searches. Parents, teachers, and concerned citizens across the US should use BUSTED to protect young people, who are often targeted by police, from the greatest harm of using marijuana -- arrest."
-- Robert Kampia, executive director, Marijuana Policy Project

"We should not be put in the position of trying to protect individuals from themselves, because that is when we police start violating people's constitutional rights."
-- Jack A. Cole, executive director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

"If enough people see BUSTED it will alter the balance of power on America's streets forever."
-- Nora Callahan, executive director, November Coalition

I was privileged to assist with the production of BUSTED as a member of the Flex Your Rights board of directors. I learned a great deal from watching BUSTED and also enjoyed it a great deal, and I believe you will too. So please order your copy today! Again, just visit and donate $35 or more, and we will put your copy in the mail! (You can also request other books we offer, as well as t-shirts, mugs and mousepads, a variety of books and other items.)

Please note that donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to support our educational work, make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation, same address. Again, visit to join, donate and order your free copy of BUSTED today. Thank you for your support.

Read DRCNet's June 2002 interview with FyR's Steven Silverman at
-- and visit Flex Your Rights at to learn much more!

3. Pain Doctor Acquitted in Virginia -- Feds Fail to Win Single Count

Roanoke, Virginia, pain specialist Dr. Cecil Knox walked out of a federal courthouse a free man October 31. Despite a high-powered and highly-publicized prosecution of Knox as a murderous, profit-driven Dr. Feelgood, federal prosecutors failed to convict him on any of the 69 counts of illegal prescribing and associated Medicare fraud with which they had charged him. After seven weeks of testimony and more than a week of deliberations, jurors acquitted Knox of all 30 of the drug charges and were unable to reach a verdict on the remaining, mostly fraud counts.

Also walking away free were Knox's nurse, Beverly Boone, who was acquitted on 60 charges (the jury hung on one count) and counselor Willard James, who faced five fraud counts. The jury failed to reach a verdict on any of the counts against James.

Prosecutors have announced that they will retry Knox on the remaining counts in a matter of weeks, but Knox, his supporters, and the growing movement to rein in the Justice Department's aggressive stance toward pain management specialists are elated. "Right now, there is no anxiety," Knox told the Knight-Ridder newspaper syndicate. "I feel very good and very positive about the future. I think I'm going to be back, my practice will be back."

"Cecil Knox, Beverly Boone, and Willard James are real American heroes," said Siobhan Reynolds, director of the Pain Relief Network (, who witnessed the trial and whose organization emerged to fight just such unwarranted prosecutions. "They stood up to an overwhelming power and bet on truth and justice," she told DRCNet. "And these days, that takes a lot of courage."

The prosecution of Dr. Knox is only the latest of a string of prosecutions of pain management specialists across the country. But its outcome so far is a blow to the Justice Department's already staggering campaign against what it views as doctors running "pill mills" but what patients' and doctors' advocates see as physicians applying the latest and most effective techniques of pain management. In recent years, federal or state prosecutors have brought charges against dozens of doctors for their opiate prescription practices, while hundreds have been disciplined by state medical boards. Despite some successes, such as the murder conviction of Florida Dr. James Graves, more convictions have been overturned on appeal, and now the Justice Department has lost outright in the Knox case. Still pending is the prosecution of nationally known Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz.

"These people should never have been prosecuted," said Reynolds, who is preparing a documentary on the plight of pain patients and doctors. "Cecil was prescribing medications in combinations and in dosages that the Justice Department doesn't agree with. Justice isn't supposed to have an opinion on medical practices, but it does. Then they bring a drug dealing case to stop this practice with which they don't agree. It's a shameful manipulation of the law," she said.

While federal prosecutors portrayed Knox as a money-hungry, conscienceless fraud, patients and other witnesses disagreed. "Over the past seven weeks, there's been a complete and total character assassination of Dr. Knox," argued Knox's attorney, Toby Anderson said during closing arguments. And from the verdicts, it appears the jury agreed.

For Reynolds, the Knox trial is just one more battle, but the war may be turning in the direction of patients and doctors. "We're making real progress now," she said. "A year ago, the DEA was running its Oxycontin campaign full-tilt and trying to evolve it into a full-blown prescription drug abuse crisis, but now they are running into significant opposition. The war on prescription drug abuse kills pain patients and is an invasion of privacy on an unprecedented level, but the pain patients are organizing now and they'll be addressing these issues more forcefully in the future."

4. Drug Policy Alliance National Conference Underway in New Jersey -- State Ripped for Leading Nation in Drug-Incarceration Rate

Hundreds of drug reformers, activists, academics, treatment professionals, elected officials, and interested citizens from across the continent (and even a few from across the water and south of the border) converged on the New Jersey Meadowlands, just across the Hudson River from New York City, as the Drug Policy Alliance ( held its biennial national conference. Proceedings opened with a bang as DPA hosted a noon press conference to announce the release of a report it commissioned that cites the Garden State as the nation's worst when it comes to percentage of drug offenders in the prison population.

Hours earlier, DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann officially opened the conference -- the first real national movement confab since April's NORML convention in San Francisco -- with a keynote address outlining his and DPA's vision of the state of the struggle and where it is headed. Citing movement responses to the outing of Rush Limbaugh as a pill-taker as indicative of a movement with two sides -- left progressives and freedom-loving (or anti-statist) conservatives -- Nadelmann called for drug reformers to transcend ideological differences. "We need to build coalitions that cross over," he said, "They are a fundamental imperative for our future. For drug policy reform to succeed, we need to have the right wing fighting for freedom as well."

Conservatives opponents of drug reform, however, got no slack from Nadelmann. "That goddamned Ashcroft is doing things to people," he yelled in reference to the persecution of medical marijuana users and providers in California. And he painted a picture of a foe broader than simply drug warriors as he noted President Eisenhower's warning of the military-industrial complex, compared it to the prison-industrial complex, and suggested that we are now seeing the emergence of a "Homeland Security Act-industrial complex playing to people's fears of terrorism and drugs."

Recalling the gay rights struggles that began in the 1960s, Nadelmann also called for drug users to come out of the closet. "Forty years ago, everyone in America knew a homosexual," he told the crowd, "they just didn't know they knew. But people wanted human dignity, and by acts of personal courage they made change. Today, everybody in America knows a drug user, but they don't know they know one," he said. "But people are stepping out," not only in California's medical marijuana struggle, but with AIDS and Hep C as well. There needs to be more of this, Nadelmann said. "We have to change the media images."

He also sought to play down divisions in the movement and pointed to common ground. "There is a powerful, compelling case for legalization," Nadelmann said. "Some of us don't want to go that far, but we are united in believing that the criminal justice system should not rule drug policy."

At the noon press conference, DPA formally unveiled a study conducted by the Justice Policy Institute ( at its behest. "Costs and Benefits? The Impact of Drug Incarceration in New Jersey" raked the state for filling its prisons with a higher percentage of drug offenders than any other. "New Jersey wastes valuable human and financial resources by incarcerating drug offenders who don't need to be behind bars," said JPI executive director Vincent Schiraldi. "States like Texas and Michigan are reforming their drug laws to divert drug offenders into treatment instead of prison. New Jersey needs to move towards the more effective and less expensive solution of treatment for drug offenders."

"Just about everyone in New Jersey has paid a steep price for the war on drugs -- from prisoners and their families to cops and judges, from people struggling with addiction to taxpayers and policymakers," said DPA's Nadelmann. "Few states have suffered so much, and few could gain so much from basic reforms."

The report itself paints a bleak portrait of drug policy justice in New Jersey. Among its findings:

  • With 36% of its prison population doing time for drug offenses, New Jersey's rate is 80% more than the national average and higher than those of usual suspects, such as three-strikes California and lock-'em-up Texas.
  • Throwing drug offenders in prison has a disproportionate impact on people of color, particularly African-Americans. While blacks and latinos represent little more than one-quarter of the state's population, they are 81% of the prison population.
  • Features of New Jersey's sentencing structure, including mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and "drug-free school zones" have made the problem worse.
  • The state is spending $266 million a year in direct costs to keep its drug prisoners locked up, a figure higher than total prison spending for one-third of other states. The massive increase in prison spending (up $825 million over the 1980s and 1990s) accounts for 20% of this year's state budget shortfall -- a shortfall that was made up by cutting education, health care, and social services.
  • And it doesn't make any difference. According to the study, which compared drug use with prison admissions in 22 states, "JPI researchers tested whether states with high rates of incarceration for drug offenses experienced a statistically significant decrease in drug use and found there is no statistically significant basis for believing that increasing prison admissions for drug offenses deters drug use."
Meanwhile, even as the press conference was underway, the convention was already in full swing, with first-day panels on topics ranging from "Got Teenagers? How to Talk to Teens About Drugs" to "New York City: Harm Reduction Advances," "Congress, Club Drugs, and the Business of Dancing," and "Drug Wars in the Americas: Views from the South." Unfortunately, this embarrassment of riches is limited by time constraints, leaving participants to forego some in order to see others.

The panel on "Pain, Opiates and Opiophobia" was representative of the quality of participants brought together by DPA for the conference. It included one of the nation's leading pain experts, Dr. Russell Portenoy, chair of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center, who told the audience that "under-treatment of pain is way worse" because of doctors' fears of prosecution. Also on the panel was Dr. Sidney Schnoll, executive medical director for health policy for Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the much praised and much maligned Oxycontin. Schnoll provided a history lesson on the ever-tightening legal constraints faced by doctors, as well as pointing the finger at a sensational media for uncritically reporting death after death caused by Oxycontin -- figures that have not been matched by coroner's reports.

The panel also featured Will Rowe, executive director of the American Pain Foundation ( and Siobhan Reynolds, executive director of the Pain Relief Network ( Rowe, who reported that an estimated 50 to 75 million Americans suffer from under-treated chronic pain, read letter after letter from pain patients who wrote of their inability to find doctors who would treat them with opiates and the resulting despair, while Reynolds, a veritable firebrand compared to her staid co-panelists, called for a stronger defense of pain doctors and patients. "I thought the war on drugs was like Smokey the Bear, it wasn't serious," she said. "But they were dead serious." And now, after being educated by her husband's endless pursuit of treatment for his chronic pain, so is she. The drug war cannot stand in the way of treating pain, she said. "Worrying about drug diversion and abuse is counterproductive when we have this national health care crisis," she said.

The conference continues through Saturday. Look for additional reporting on the conference next week.

5. Newsbrief: NJ Supreme Court Just Says No to Vehicle Searches Where a Former Passenger Had Drugs

The fact that someone who just left a car possessed drugs is not sufficient grounds for a warrantless search of the automobile, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous decision upholding an appeals court ruling, the court threw out charges against Floyd McDonald, Jr. of Paterson, who was arrested after police searched his car subsequent to finding drugs on a man who had just left the vehicle.

McDonald was approached by police after they arrested his passenger, Larry Wilson of Paterson, with bags of marijuana. McDonald produced a valid driver's license and was not intoxicated, but police searched his car anyway and found 50 bags of crack cocaine. The trail judge concluded that police were justified in conducting a warrantless search.

The appeals court disagreed, and McDonald was freed from prison pending Monday's ruling. Now, the state Supreme Court has also agreed. "We reiterate that the warrantless search in this case is presumed invalid and that the government bore the burden of creating an evidentiary record to uphold its conduct," the court said in its 7-0 decision, written by Justice Peter Verniero. (Ironically, Verniero is the former New Jersey Attorney General who became embroiled in the state's racial profiling scandal in 2002 over alleged misstatements to the legislature.) "It is not enough to describe the quantity of drugs, their location on defendant's person, and defendant's proximity to the car," Verniero said. "The officers need to articulate more fully why those facts provided the threshold level of suspicion required to justify their search of the car itself."

See to read the ruling online.

6. Newsbrief: A Friend of Reform Forced Out -- Detroit Police Chief Jerry Oliver Resigns

Drug reformers have lost a highly-placed ally with the retirement under pressure of Detroit Police Chief Jerry Oliver last week. Oliver resigned October 31 after becoming the target of an investigation by Wayne County (Detroit) prosecutors. Oliver was charged with misdemeanor possession of an undeclared handgun after federal airport inspectors found a loaded weapon in his checked baggage at Detroit Metro Airport on October 18.

Oliver, who was brought in by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in February 2002 to clean up the image of an out-of-control police department, brought with him a commitment to finding an alternative to the war on drugs. Oliver rose to national prominence when, as police chief in Richmond, Virginia, he came out in opposition to the drug war. "Our nation's premier drug-war strategy of more police, more interdiction, and more incarceration is failing and the trajectory continues downward," Oliver wrote in a widely-hailed op-ed in 1998. "A growing number of thoughtful Americans across the political spectrum have strong doubts about the efficacy of the current drug war, its costs, its true impact, and its future consequences. They want to rethink our direction and possibilities. As a police officer on the front line, quite frankly I'm one of them."

Mayor Kilpatrick described himself as "disappointed" and reluctant to accept Oliver's resignation. The chief was "a diamond to bring to this community," Kilpatrick said. Oliver had played a key role in erasing the stigma attached to the Detroit police, said Kilpatrick. "What this chief did in coming into this town is immediately erase that."

Although the Detroit Free Press reported that Oliver's resignation was greeted by cheers in precinct stations around the city, his replacement, newly appointed Chief Ella Bully-Cummings warned police that she will insist on the same tough discipline and accountability for misbehavior that alienated Oliver from many of the rank and file. The Detroit Police Department is currently working under two consent decrees with the federal government related to its lethal force policies and its treatment of prisoners.

And on October 30, one day before Oliver's resignation, a federal grand jury indicted 18 officers accused of stealing money and drugs during illegal searches of alleged drug dealers.

7. Newsbrief: China Bans Song for Opium Lyrics

Chinese authorities have banned a song by Hong Kong pop superstar Faye Wong because its lyrics contained references to opium, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. Government censors objected to one line in the song "In the Name of Love" from Wong's forthcoming album, "To Love." The line in question says "opium is sweet and warm."

"Relevant departments banned this because they thought the lyrics were too decadent and will influence the health of young people," Xinhua reported. The Chinese Ministry of Culture reviews all song lyrics for albums to be released in the country.

According to the Associated Press, which picked up the Xinhua report, Chinese communist leaders view references to opium as symbolic of the country's domination by Westerners. The era of Western domination of China began with the Opium Wars of the 1840s, in which British traders, backed by the crown, forced the Chinese to accept opium imports from India.

A spokesperson for Xinsuo Music Company, which will distribute the album in China, told AP the album would be released without the offending track. The album goes on sale throughout Asia starting this month. The Chinese-born Wong is often the country's hottest selling female vocalist, but she won't be singing for her countrymen about the poppy's sweetness and warmth.

8. Newsbrief: California Woman Gets Life for Meth Baby Death

A Riverside, California, woman was sentenced to life in prison October 30 for killing her infant son by allowing him to ingest a fatal dose of methamphetamine, possibly from her breast milk. Amy Leanne Prien was convicted of second-degree murder and felony child endangerment in the death of her 3-month-old son in January 2002. Jacob Wesley Smith was found dead in his mother's bed.

Riverside County prosecutor Grover Trask told the Los Angeles Times he sought the harsh sentence for Prien, who is a mother of four, to deter other drug users and to change the county's reputation as a "meth capital." Sending Prien to prison would also protect her other children, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Stephen Yagman vowed to appeal the conviction. Yagman argued that she was convicted in error because of faulty sentencing instructions from the judge. The judge in the case told jurors that child endangerment could be considered an inherently dangerous crime, thus opening Prien up for the murder charge. If appeals fail, Prien must wait 15 years for a first shot at parole.

9. Newsbrief: Amnesty International Calls on Thai Government to Name Those Killed in Drug War

The global human rights watchdog group Amnesty International has issued a report harshly critical of the Thai government's spring offensive against drug traffickers and users and calling on the Thai government to release the identities of some 2,245 people Amnesty said were killed in the crackdown.

The internationally respected human rights group called on the Thai government to take immediate action to investigate the deaths, which police generally blamed on feuding drug gangs but which are widely believed to be committed by police death squads. Amnesty derided two ongoing investigations as whitewashes and called for an independent investigation.

"The Thai authorities must take immediate action to investigate these deaths and to send a clear public message to the national police force, the military, and paramilitary groups, that extrajudicial executions by the security forces are not acceptable," said Amnesty International. "Serious human rights violations and abuses that have been taking place in Thailand require serious attention by the authorities," said Amnesty. "The authorities have an obligation to offer better protection to the vulnerable members of the society. They must also offer adequate redress for past human rights violations and abuses. The Thai authorities must take further measures to ensure that respect for human rights becomes a reality for all people in Thailand."

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra responded to the report as he has to previous criticisms of his personal crusade to make Thailand drug-free by December 4. Amnesty didn't know what it was talking about, he said. "Don't listen too much to them," he told the Bangkok Post. Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha claimed that Amnesty was exaggerating; the official toll was only 1,766, he told the Post.

For the full text of the report, visit:

For further information on related issues, visit:

10. This Week in History

November 11, 1988: The Anti-Drug Abuse Act established the creation of a drug-free America as a policy goal.

November 12, 1970: Keith Stroup forms the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

11. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime

Due to funding shortfalls, DRCNet has been forced to suspend our web-based write-to Congress program. We will bring it back to life as soon as you and other DRCNet supporters make it possible through your financial contributions. Please visit and make the most generous donation that you can!

Most importantly, don't let this temporary setback at DRCNet prevent you from lobbying Congress. We intend to continue to issue legislative action alerts in the meantime, and you can act on them by calling your US Representative and your two Senators on the phone; go through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or visit and to look up their names and phone and fax numbers or to contact them via e-mail or web form. The information contained on the alert pages of our legislative web sites will provide you with sufficient information to take such action. There are current action alerts posted at:
It's important that we get the web-based service online as soon as possible, for a few reasons:
  1. E-mails to Congress are more important and effective now than they were in the past, since the 2001 anthrax attacks and the resulting slowness and unreliability of snail-mail to Capitol Hill;
  2. The ease of going to a web site, reviewing and editing a prewritten letter, typing in your address and sending it at the click of a mouse, is highly effective for increasing our participation rates and resulting impact on Congress;
  3. The action alert web sites are a highly effective means for recruiting new people onto our e-mail lists, growing the movement and doing so in the process of carrying out needed grassroots activism -- and ultimately increasing our potential donor base and ability to maintain and enhance these services;
  4. The system lets us look up subsets of our list based on geography (e.g. state, congressional district, city, state legislative district, county), and target action alerts to people who live in the key areas whose legislators or officials need to be lobbied especially vigorously due to their membership on committees responsible for active legislation or other reasons; and
  5. The personalization features the online system provides us allow us to send each of you individualized e-mails containing the name and phone number of your legislators, making it easier for you to take it to the next level of lobbying by phone, thereby increasing the number of phone calls to Congress that we can generate, a crucial show of passion for the issue that members of Congress need to see. For example, if you've used our write-to-Congress web forms in the last 2 3/4 years, you've probably received a few e-mails from us recently with text like the following:

    "If you haven't moved since we last communicated (zip code ___ in ___, __, than your US Representative is Rep. ___. Please call Rep. ___ at ____ and ask him to vote YES on ___ when it comes to a vote on the House floor..."
So while we can continue to send you legislative alerts without the online lobbying system, we can't make use of any of those extremely powerful features described in the paragraphs above. In order to resume our use of the service, we need to pay off our balance with the company that provides it as well as raise additional funds to ensure we can continue to afford it after that. All in all, we need to raise at least $10,000 in non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, to reactivate the service and be fiscally responsible in continuing to subscribe to it. While this sounds like a lot of money, it's only slightly more than members like you gave us during our most successful previous fundraising appeal.

So please take a few moments to send DRCNet a few dollars today and make it happen! Please visit to make a contribution by credit card or PayPal or to print out a form to send in with your check -- or just send your donation by mail to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network to support our lobbying work (like the action alert program) are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible contributions to support our educational work can be made to the DRCNet Foundation, same address. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number: 772973012, DTC number: 0188, make sure to contact us directly to let us know that the stocks are there and whether they are meant for the Drug Reform Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.

12. 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.

13. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to [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 Cit� 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 13, 8:00pm, New York, NY, "Unlock the Rock!", fundraiser and artists showcase to benefit the campaign to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws. At Void, 16 Mercer St., contact Piper Anderson at (718) 753-1202 or [email protected], or Tamar Kraft-Stolar at (212) 254-5700 ext. 306 or [email protected] to RSVP or for 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 21, 8:00pm, New York, NY, "Reading to End the War on Some Drugs and Users" and benefit for New York NORML. At the Slipper Room, 167 Orchard Street at Stanton, call (212) 253-7246 for info.

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.

April 22-24, Washington, DC, NORML conference, details pending, visit for updates.

May 20-22, Charlottesville, VA, Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. At the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, visit for further information.

If you like what you see here and want to get these bulletins by e-mail, please fill out our quick signup form at

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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