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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #314, 12/5/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Congressman Seeks to Censor Public Service Transit Ads with Drug Reform Messages -- Istook Provoked By Pro-Marijuana Ads on DC Metro
  2. Thailand Declares Itself "Drug Free" -- Sort Of -- As Human Rights Watchdogs Condemn Anti-Drug Campaign
  3. Italy Marches Bravely into 20th Century: Government Proposal Would Recriminalize Drug Possession, Including Marijuana
  4. Drug Decrim Bill Introduced in Argentina -- Would Also Bar Forced Treatment
  5. Newsbrief: Bhutan Banning Tobacco
  6. Newsbrief: Chicago Catholic High School to Drug Test All Students
  7. Newsbrief: DEA Tries RAVE Act Intimidation Again, But Activists Successfully Fight Back
  8. Newsbrief: Supreme Court Rules Cops Need Wait Only 20 Seconds Before Kicking Down Door
  9. Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Traffic Stop Drug Dog Search Illegal
  10. Newsbrief: Needle Access Bill Killed in New Jersey
  11. Newsbrief: Lieberman Clueless On California Medical Marijuana Raids
  12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop (or Teach the Children Well)
  13. Newsbrief: Dr. Donald Abrams Receives FDA Approval for First Human Vaporizer Research
  14. Web Scan: Web Chat with Ira and Ethan, Reason on Ecstasy Research, C-Span Drug Debate, Stratford High Footage
  15. 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
  16. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Congressman Seeks to Censor Public Service Transit Ads with Drug Reform Messages -- Istook Provoked By Pro-Marijuana Ads on DC Metro

Change the Climate, the Massachusetts-based organization that places public service ads touting reform of the marijuana laws on big city transit systems, has now aroused the ire of at least one Republican congressman, Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook. Enraged by an ad touting marijuana legalization that showed a couple embracing above the caption "Enjoy Better Sex!" that appeared on DC Metro buses and subway stations in October (, Istook has now moved to punish DC Metro for accepting the ad and to censor similar ads in other transit systems that accept federal funding.

DC Metro and other transit agencies that run public service ads have little choice but to accept Change the Climate's ads -- unless they want an expensive and publicity-generating court battle over the group's First Amendment rights. Boston transit officials barred the group's ads in 2000, and they are still in court. DC Metro at first hesitated to accept the ads, but backed down when Change the Climate and the American Civil Liberties Union threatened similar action. Such subtleties were lost on Istook, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.

"At a time when the nation and the Washington DC area, in particular, suffer from chronic substance abuse... I find it shocking that [the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] provides this ad space, and at no cost!", Istook wrote in a letter to DC Councilman Jim Graham, chairman of the Metro Board. "Since [Metro] has the resources to provide $46,250 in free ad space for this very advertising," Istook wrote, "I have to wonder why [Metro] should expect to receive the $67,050,000 in federal funding." Neither was Istook aware of the irony of berating Graham for DC Metro's decision. Graham, normally a staid liberal, had himself lashed out at Metro over the ads in October before someone explained the Constitution to him.

new Change The Climate's
controversial subway ad
Jim Graham wasn't the only liberal irked by the ads. Paul Begala, one of two liberal representatives on CNN's Crossfire, provided yet more evidence that marijuana causes mental disorders -- in those who are frightened of it. Begala surprised his foe, co-host Tucker Carlson, by not only warning that the ads send a "dangerous public health message," that marijuana is "a dangerous drug," and that it is full of "cancer-causing agents" -- then going on to repeat, with an amazingly straight face, one of the wildest old myths about marijuana: "There have been many cases documented in the medical research of men actually getting breast enhancement out of smoking pot." [At least Begala didn't accuse marijuana of causing his hairy palms -- though perhaps it did. :)]

Istook has now inserted language into an omnibus appropriations bill that would eliminate $92,500 -- twice the amount of free ad space DC Metro provided to Change the Climate -- in DC Metro funding "as a warning to other transit agencies," according to the legislation. But he didn't stop there. Istook also included language barring the use of federal funds if a transit agency "is involved directly or indirectly with any activity... that promotes the legalization or medical use" of illegal drugs.

"I was stunned when the Washington Post called and told me Tuesday night," said Joseph White, executive director of Change the Climate. "On one level, we are grateful to Congressman Istook for bringing these issues so clearly to the forefront. This gives us an opportunity to present our views and contrast them with his," he told DRCNet. "But this cannot pass constitutional muster, and we are prepared to take our campaign to every mass transit city in the country and challenge this on constitutional grounds." Using Istook's maneuver as fodder, White has already begun fundraising for similar ads in transit agencies in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, and, of course, Oklahoma City.

This battle will most likely be fought in the courts, because the omnibus appropriations bill where Istook inserted the language in conference committee this week will pass or fail on a single up-or-down vote. With all federal spending at stake in the bill, it is unlikely to be defeated. Even more cruelly, the same bill would spend $145 million in taxpayer dollars for anti-marijuana government propaganda.

"That's right," warned the Drug Policy Alliance in an action alert it sent out Thursday in a last-ditch effort to kill the omnibus bill. "Congress wants to run anti-marijuana ads with your tax money, while at the same time banning you from using your own money to run ads in support of marijuana law reform. They want to prohibit you from spending money on things you believe in, while taking money out of your paycheck to spend on things you don't believe in. Without being able to advertise on buses, trains, and subways, it will be very difficult for drug policy reformers to get our message directly to the American people -- which is exactly what the drug war extremists fear. They want to shut us up! And they will get away with it if you don't act right now!"

Visit to see the ad that aroused Istook from his dogmatic slumber.

2. Thailand Declares Itself "Drug Free" -- Sort Of -- As Human Rights Watchdogs Condemn Anti-Drug Campaign

In a birthday present to the king, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Wednesday declared Thailand "drug free" -- or pretty darn close to it, anyway. The long-awaited announcement comes on the heels of a year-long anti-drug campaign that has seen more than 2,700 people killed, tens of thousands arrested, and hundreds of thousands more sentenced to "drug treatment camps." (Oddly enough, Thai security forces reported seizing only $95,000 in drug-related assets over the course of the year.) While Thaksin, the US government, and a significant section of Thai public opinion are heralding the "victory," human rights organizations and other observers are decrying the abuses that accompanied the campaign.

The "final push" for the anti-drug campaign came last week, as some 3,000 Thai security forces conducted massive raids on poor Bangkok neighborhoods, searching some 600 structures and arresting 121 people. In the meantime, the government announced it was sending more army troops to the Burmese border and beginning electronic surveillance there in an effort to suppress smuggling.

In the late 1990s and into this decade, Thailand had become a leading consumer of methamphetamines manufactured in Burma by the United Wa States Army and imported in pill form by the ton. Use and abuse of "ya ba," or "crazy medicine," spread across class and geographic lines until it supplanted the use of opium and heroin as the nation's identified number-one drug problem. In February, Thaksin kicked off his campaign to make the country "drug free." Now it's official.

"We are now in a position to declare that drugs, which formerly were a big danger to our nation, can no longer hurt us," Thaksin told a Bangkok news conference as he declared victory. But even as he claimed success, he acknowledged that he could not eradicate drugs. "No country will be able to completely stamp out drugs from its society," Thaksin added. Still, he said, "Many Thai people now have their sons and daughters back."

Although not the families of the more than 2,700 people killed during the campaign. Human rights groups, both in Thailand and internationally, blame Thai government death squads for the majority of those killings, but Thaksin and his officials have denied it, claiming instead that the victims died in internecine gang wars.

"During the anti-drugs campaign launched by the government from 1 February to 30 April 2003, the Thai Government appeared to condone killings of drug suspects by unknown assailants as one method of fighting the "drugs war," concluded Amnesty International in a report released in October. "According to official statements, 2,245 drug suspects were killed during the three month campaign. However, the government has failed to initiate independent, impartial, effective and prompt investigations into these killings, and as a result those found responsible have not been known to have been brought to justice."

One example of what Amnesty was talking about is the case of Somjit Kuanyuyen, who learned on February 20 she was on a police blacklist of drug users and reported to her local police station. After signing a paper and being reassured by police she was safe, she returned home. "Four unidentified men in a one-ton pickup truck with darkened windows drove up to her house and shot her seven times in front of her seven-year-old granddaughter and her seven-months pregnant daughter," Amnesty reported.

Human Rights Watch has also expressed deep concerns about human rights in the Thai drug war. Most recently, in October the watchdog group complained that the government's policies endangered a newly-announced AIDS reduction grant. "The Thai government has consistently refused to support such services," wrote Human Rights Watch. "Worse, it has engaged in a brutal crackdown against people suspected of smuggling and dealing drugs, resulting in the unexplained killings of several thousand drug dealers since February. Research by Human Rights Watch shows that anti-drug crackdowns can increase drug users' chances of HIV infection. As with other populations at high risk of infection, such as sex workers and men who have sex with men, health experts fear that police brutality can push drug users into hiding and drive them from HIV prevention services."

"Violent crackdowns won't solve Thailand's drug problem, but they will fuel its AIDS epidemic," said Joanne Csete, director of the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights program at Human Rights Watch. "Preventing HIV requires working respectfully with drug users, not trampling on their human rights."

But that is just what the Thai government has been doing, National Human Rights Commissioner Jaran Ditthapichai, who received death threats earlier this year after denouncing the killings of suspected drug traders, told DRCNet. The targeted population is so frightened that it does not even complain much, he said. "We have only received a small number of complaints from the relatives of those killed," said Jaran. "It is because the families are frightened by the brutal killings and afraid of the police. They do not dare complain to us or other organizations. They think they may be in danger," he said.

The commission, a governmental body, had interviewed victims and relatives, as well as police and drug suppression officers and issued its report to the government, Jaran said. "Now we are waiting for a response."

And while the rate of killing has declined in this last phase of Thailand's drug war, said Jaran, the human rights situation remains miserable. "The situation is worse now," he explained. "People's rights not only to life, but their freedom of assembly and their right to a fair trial are at stake," he said.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration official in charge in Thailand wasn't worried about human rights. Last week, as he witnessed a bonfire of seized ya-ba pills, William Snipes, Southeast Asia regional DEA director told reporters so far so good, but cautioned that victory could be fleeting. "Whether that's a lasting effect, we'll have to wait and see. Temporarily, we look at it as successful," he said.

"It has been successful, if you measure success by the price and availability of methamphetamine," said Allen Hicken of the University of Michigan's Southeast Asian Studies Center. "The price has skyrocketed, if you can find the stuff at all," he told DRCNet.

"Now it is very difficult to find speed tablets where they used to be on sale," agreed Nualnoi Treerat, professor of political economy at Bangkok's Clulalongkorn University. "Those who have some may have already buried or destroyed them out of fear [of violent measures by the state]. If any are still available, the prices have risen [almost ten-fold]." But can the policy be called a success? "Perhaps, yes, if we don't think human rights is a problem," she said in an interview with the Nation (Bangkok). "To tackle the drugs problem is supposedly to increase human security. But if the means are not just, they could create an atmosphere of fear, and such fear of violence could in return become a threat to human security," she said.

Despite the human rights abuses, Thaksin and his government have broad popular support for the crackdown, according to Thai pollsters. "It is true," said commissioner Jaran. "Almost all Thai people support the violent policy because for the past ten years the drug was everywhere, millions of addicts, and even social groups like teachers and monks were involved with the drug trade. Thai people see drug traffickers as bad men, the enemy of the nation, and they should be killed," Jaran explained. "The human rights activists and the commission were criticized as people who do not love the nation and who indirectly help the gangsters."

"The Thais aren't any different from the Americans in this regard," said Hicken. "This is a law and order campaign. People generally regret the killings, but after all, they say, it is the drug dealers who are being killed. "And Thaksin is winning points: Drugs have been a scourge, and here is a politician who has done something about it."

Visit to read drug war complaints to the Thai National Human Rights Commission.

Visit to read Amnesty International's October report.

Visit to read the Human Rights Watch HIV/human rights report.

3. Italy Marches Bravely into 20th Century: Government Proposal Would Recriminalize Drug Possession, Including Marijuana

Ten years ago this April, Italians voted to decriminalize simple drug possession. Now the rightist government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to undo that, and then some. A proposal floated by Deputy Prime Minister Giancarlo Fini, leader of Italy's former neo-fascist party, and approved by Berlusconi and his cabinet in mid-November, would make possession of even the smallest amount of drugs an offense, and possession of more than the "daily minimum dose" of even marijuana could lead to a six-year prison sentence.

People arrested with amounts varying with the drug, but in all cases less than a half gram, of cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, or even marijuana would face administrative penalties including confiscation of their passports and loss of drivers' or arms-carrying licenses. Foreign residents arrested with small amounts would lose their residency permits.

The announcement of the government proposal was followed by a series of high-profile raids in Rome targeting celebrities in sports, the media, and political circles. Among those arrested was 82-year-old former prime minister and Senator for Life Emilio Colombo, busted as an alleged cocaine consumer.

While, contrary to perceptions among some in the US, Europe is not a truly "drug tolerant" continent, the Fini proposal would, if adapted, give Italy some of the region's toughest drug laws. For one thing, it abolishes the distinction between "soft" and "hard" drugs, treating marijuana as if it were as dangerous as cocaine. It is also part of an emerging prohibitionist trend among rightist European governments. The Spanish government of Felipe Aznar is moving to suppress pro-pot publications, and even the current conservative Dutch government is moving to restrict access to coffee shops by foreigners.

The proposal is particularly harsh on marijuana. It allows administrative sanctions instead of criminal penalties for people caught with 500 milligrams of cocaine, 300mg of ecstasy, but only 250mg of marijuana. And, taking a cue from US drug warriors such as Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who is preparing to introduce a bill with similar provisions (, marijuana penalties will be based not just on weight but on the amount of THC in the seized drug.

And although the proposal has aroused a storm of criticism in Italy, where, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction ( nearly 10% of Italian young adults smoked marijuana in the last year, and must still clear parliament, it appears assured of success. All four parties in Berlusconi's governing coalition, which controls both legislative chambers, support the proposal.

"Taking drugs is not an innocuous exercise of freedoms that cannot be curbed, but a rejection of the most elementary duties of the individual towards the various communities in which he or she actually lives," said the cigarette-smoking Fini, providing a concise lesson in neo-fascist values. "The joint of 10 years ago had an active ingredient of not more than 1.5%. Today, you can find them with as much as 15%," he added, using a page from the US drug czar's playbook. "That is how the devastating and progressively less reversible effects of cannabis on physical and mental health are being multiplied."

But while the government is behind the proposal, not everyone agrees in a country where soft drug use has been increasingly tolerated and one guest on a prime time TV program recently lit up a joint to press for less, not more, restrictions on marijuana. One of that program's hosts, Paolo Kessisoglu, told the Guardian (UK) the government would have a fight on its hands. "It's plain as day that, even if the law gets through, it's going to be impossible to enforce."

And while some segments of the Catholic Church, which is heavily involved in drug treatment in Italy, welcomed the proposal, others, including some involved in drug treatment were harshly critical. "The philosophy underlying the bill is that of the authoritarian father who doesn't know how to cope with his son, so takes a strap to him," Monsignor Vinicio Albanesi, president of the Capodarco treatment community, told the Guardian.

Marco Cappato in Mérida
The Italian Radical Party, which sponsored the 1993 referedum decriminalizing drug possession, is preparing to fight. "We do not accept this proposal, it is a piece of totalitarian statecraft" said Marco Cappato, Member of the European Parliament and coordinator of Parliamentarians for Anti-Prohibitionist Action at the European Union. "First, there will be a confrontation in the Italian parliament," he told DRCNet. "There is still a chance to modify this proposal's most repressive aspects -- there are some critics even within the government. But there are also people in the opposition parties who support the proposal, so it is entirely possible it will pass as is."

Parliamentary action will be matched with civil disobedience, Cappato said. "We will try to combine this with CD actions," he said, "perhaps handing out hashish in various cities. We also want to show the harm this has done and will do," he added. "With these raids, they are trying to show that the law is the same for everybody, they are trying to show a hard line and show the public the people they have destroyed. But when they arrested Emilio Colombo, who admitted using cocaine for two years for therapeutic purposes, that caused a big stink."

And if all else fails, there could be another referendum effort, Cappato said. "It would be a huge task, and more difficult than 10 years ago because we now have no access to the media on these issues. But the Italian Radicals are preparing for that eventuality," he added.

Cappato also had a cautionary note for drug reformers in the US. "Americans need to understand that yes, the war on drugs is worse than the tolerant climate in Europe, but that tolerance came from left-wing governments and is not here to stay," the anti-prohibitionist said. "Stopping at tolerance is short-sighted. Without legalization of some sort, being tolerant eventually gives an opening to the political opposition to attack you as soft on drugs or soft on crime. If you don't stand firm for legalization, sooner or later you are on the defensive. That is what is happening now in Italy, and Holland, and Spain."

4. Drug Decrim Bill Introduced in Argentina -- Would Also Bar Forced Treatment

Deputy Eduardo Garcia of the Socialist Party has introduced a bill in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies that would decriminalize the possession and personal use of both hard and soft drugs. The bill, which was introduced November 18, would also eliminate the compulsory treatment of drug offenders. If the bill is enacted, Argentina would join Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay as Latin American countries that have decriminalized, or in Colombia's case, legalized drug use and possession.

Garcia's bill would modify Law 23.737, the current Argentine drug law, which is fully in line with US-style prohibitionist policies. To the law's Article 14, which mandates a one-to-six-year prison term and fine for drug possession, is added the following clause: "except when, because of the small quantity and other circumstances, the evidence suggests unmistakably that possession is for personal use."

The bill also eliminates several articles in Law 23.737 authorizing coerced drug treatment -- the "drug court" model -- and replaces them with a new Article 19, which specifies the limited circumstances in which drug treatment can be ordered. "Treatment can be applied when the defendant grants his consent or when he presents a danger to himself or others," says the article.

The authors of the bill use its prologue to lay out their case. Citing Argentine statistics as well as sources such as the Canadian Senate special committee on drugs, the prologue argues that the current drug law has "harmful effects on personal and public health" while it has showed itself "absolutely ineffective in achieving its expressed objective of reducing the demand for illicit substances." What is equally bad, write the authors, is that "it is more than evident that the criminalization of possession for personal use is highly inefficient in combating the drug trade, even to the point of causing the undesired effect of allowing and promoting its development."

According to Argentine researchers, almost 98% of people arrested under the drug law had not been jailed before and the same number were not charged with any crime, while 91% were unarmed and 40% were employed -- a respectable figure in Argentina's battered economy. And the vast majority of arrests made under the law -- 87% -- have been for possession of less than five grams of marijuana or cocaine. A similar study by the Buenos Aires Health Secretariat found that 89% had never had problems with the law.

L-R: Gustavo Hurtado of ARDA, Deputy Eduardo Garcia,
Silvia Inchaurraga of ARDA, Deputy Maria Elena Barbagelatta
at the Deputies Chamber, November 18, 2003
The bill was drafted with the assistance of the Argentine Harm Reduction Association (, which has also begun a media campaign to generate support. That campaign is ongoing, and includes the use of posters and flyers emblazoned with messages such as "In our country the drug law is more harmful than drugs" and "Do you know that in Argentina most of the drug related cases are associated with possession?" The campaign aims not only at generating support for the bill, but also more broadly at raising public awareness of the possibility of more effective and humane responses to the issue of drug use.

"This bill has two key points," said ARDA executive director Silvia Inchaurraga. "First is no more punishment of possession of personal use, and second is no more compulsory treatment for drug users. There is a provision in the bill that would allow treatment options for people who commit other crimes -- not drug possession -- and have a drug problem," she told DRCNet. "And the bill modifies existing law so that different treatment options can be tried. Now, only abstinence-based treatment is allowed."

The bill is unlikely to move far this year, Inchaurraga said. "We have a long way to go in discussing the bill with the deputies, and many of them are changing in a few weeks, but the bill will be forwarded to the relevant committees -- the health committee and drugs committee, of course, but also the security committee."

The decriminalization proposal is being championed by Socialist Party deputies, all eight of whom are cosponsors. But the Socialist Party is only a part of the third largest bloc in the chamber, the Alternative Interbloc, whose 29 deputies are outnumbered by the opposition Radicals (66 seats) and the ruling Peronists (116 seats). While the bill also has sponsors among the Radical Party, the United Left, and the National Party's Irma Parentella, who earlier this year introduced a medical marijuana bill in conjunction with ARDA (, it as yet has no Peronist cosponsors, and the government of President Nestor Kirchner has given only weak and mixed signals as to whether it would support it.

"Kirchner has said nothing about the bill," said Inchaurraga, "but he did nominate Dr. Zafforoni, who supports drug decriminalization, to the Supreme Court. The Health Minister, who was appointed by Kirchner's predecessor, however, has criticized the bill, and that was a surprise to us, but on the other hand, the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SEDRONAR) has expressed interest in analyzing the bill."

For Spanish speakers, the bill is available online at:

5. Newsbrief: Bhutan Banning Tobacco

excerpted from the newsletter of the International Antiprohibitionist League,

Last week, several publications including The Christian Science Monitor ran a story on Bhutan, informing that the little Asian Kingdom has decided to become the first smoke-free nation in the history of humanity. According to the CSM in Bhutan, "19 of 20 districts have already banned the leaf, often on religious grounds, as Buddhists consider smoking to be a sin. Health officials are now laying the groundwork for Thimphu to follow suit next year. If they succeed, it will be illegal to sell tobacco products, and Bhutanese smokers will be fined if caught in public." Bhutan's Secretary of the Ministry of Health is reported as saying that "It's not just about banning tobacco; we have to provide support services. If people want to give [it] up, we will help them."

Bhutan is trying to open up to democratic rules and, the CSM reports, some ask themselves if this "should mean a more laissez-faire attitude to private vices like smoking" while others ask "if alcohol would be a better target, given the dangers of drunk driving on the nation's treacherous mountain roads." Apparently, much of the smoking debate is being conducted in the national newspaper, the Kuensel (, and its online forum.

6. Newsbrief: Chicago Catholic High School to Drug Test All Students

Beginning next fall, Chicago's St. Patrick's High School will become the first in the state and possibly the nation to require all students to submit to drug tests. Since St. Patrick's is a private school, it is not bound by Supreme Court rulings that bar the suspicionless testing of all students. The Supreme Court has so far carved out "rights free" zones only for student athletes, students involved in extracurricular activities, and students who want access to parking permits.

"We're really doing it to help our kids," Principal Schmidt told WBBM radio Wednesday. "We want to take a little peer pressure off of them and be able to have a good reason to say no to drugs." But it's not a "zero tolerance" approach, he said. "The whole program has an emphasis of, 'Don't do drugs. If you do drugs, stop. If you can't stop, get some help,'" Schmidt said. Students should quit now, he said. "They have really 100 days, because that kid's going to get tested again," Schmidt said. "We'd better see some improvement, if not a total stop, in terms of what happens with that drug use."

All students will be tested during the fall semester, at a rate of 10 to 20 per day, and one-quarter will be randomly tested at other times of year, Schmidt said. St. Patrick's is passing on the $60 cost of the drug test to students' families, he added, although he is looking for donors to cover some of the costs.

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future annual surveys of teen drug use have shown no difference in use between schools that drug test and those that don't.

7. Newsbrief: DEA Tries RAVE Act Intimidation Again, But Activists Successfully Fight Back

Oregon NORML held its Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards banquet November 15 at the Lloyd Center DoubleTree Hotel, but not before successfully fending off an effort by the DEA to scare the hotel into canceling the event. As was the case earlier this year in Montana (, the DEA attempted to use the RAVE Act to shut down an event it didn't like. Under provisions of the RAVE Act, the owners or operators of venues where drugs are present could be subject to severe civil and criminal sanctions.

According to the Portland alternative paper the Willamette Week, two days before the event, Ken Magee of the Oregon DEA office sent a letter to the hotel noting Oregon NORML's planned event and raising the specter of a RAVE Act prosecution. Did the hotel intend to "knowingly permit... the illegal possession, conspiracy to possess or to aid and abet the possession of marijuana"? asked Magee.

Good corporate citizen that it is, the DoubleTree promptly canceled the event. But Oregon NORML was having none of that. Instead, the group teamed up with the Oregon ACLU, Graham Boyd of the national ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, and Portland attorney Michael Harting to send letters to the hotel and the DEA threatening legal action for breach of contract and violation of the First Amendment.

A compromise ensued. Oregon NORML ditched its "Beautiful Bud Award" and the hotel relented. Afterwords, Magee told the Week that he wasn't trying to block the event, only ensure that no drugs were used there. But this is the second time the DEA has blatantly attempted to suppress drug reform events with RAVE Act threats. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who got the act passed by sneaking it into another, more popular bill, has said this is not what he intended the RAVE Act to do. Maybe someone should let the senator know what's going on.

8. Newsbrief: Supreme Court Rules Cops Need Wait Only 20 Seconds Before Kicking Down Door

The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police serving a drug search warrant need not wait for more than a few seconds after announcing their presence before forcibly entering the target residence. The ruling overturned a decision by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco -- the most liberal federal appeals court -- which had attempted to set up a matrix of conditions that would govern how long police officers must wait before breaking down the door.

In previous rulings, the Rehnquist court has grudgingly acknowledged the traditional legal norm that for searches to be "reasonable" under the Fourth Amendment generally require police to knock and identify themselves before entering a home. But, largely driven by the logic of the war on drugs, the court has also carved out increasingly large exceptions, allowing police to conduct "no-knock" raids when they have reason to believe they are at risk or evidence may be destroyed.

It is the "no-knock" raids that are so familiar to viewers of COPS and similar pro-police programs, where heavily armed, SWAT team-style units burst into houses with guns drawn, screaming commands at frightened residents. Such raids have led to numerous deaths as residents shoot at the masked, screaming intruders, who typically arrive in the middle of the night, or as adrenaline filled police shoot the people inside -- sometimes with reason, sometimes not.

In the case in question, North Las Vegas, Nevada, police and FBI agents served a search warrant on LaShawn Banks, a suspected drug dealer. They knocked on the door, but after hearing no response for 15 or 20 seconds, broke it down. Banks was in the shower. Police handcuffed him, still naked and dripping wet, and interrogated him in the kitchen, where they recovered crack cocaine and guns. Banks argued that the evidence should be suppressed because police failed to give him an opportunity to answer the door.

While the 9th Circuit had attempted to set standards for "no-knock" raids based on a number of factors, including the crime being investigated, Justice David Souter, writing a unanimous opinion, said the Supreme Court "disapproved" of the 9th Circuit's effort. Police need flexibility, the Supreme Court said. "Though... this call is a close one," Souter wrote, "we think that after 15 or 20 seconds without a response, police could fairly suspect that cocaine would be gone if they were reticent any longer."

Randall Roske, who represented Banks, told the Associated Press the ruling would be seen as a green light by police. "Police are going to read this as, 'Knock and announce and kick the door in,'" he said.

George Washington University law professor Stephen Saltzburg agreed. "This gives officers the leeway they were taking throughout the country," he told AP. "This is a case that suggests great deference to the police."

Visit to read the decision online.

9. Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Traffic Stop Drug Dog Search Illegal

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that police may not detain motorists until a drug-sniffing dog arrives unless they have a reasonable suspicion that some crime has been committed. The ruling came in the case of Jody James Boyce, a New Jersey man who was pulled over for a traffic violation on I-95 in Georgia in 2001, issued a warning ticket by Officer David Edwards, but then detained until a drug dog could arrive after he refused to consent to a vehicle search. The drug dog signaled that drugs were present, police recovered 10,000 ecstasy tablets and two large containers of marijuana, and Boyce was subsequently convicted of possession with intent to distribute the drugs and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

He appealed, arguing that Edwards had no lawful reason to detain him after having written a warning ticket. The federal appeals court agreed, granting Boyce's motion to suppress the evidence from the unlawful search and sending the case back to the lower courts, where the state now has no case.

"While we recognize that drug trafficking is a serious problem in this country and we encourage law enforcement agencies to use every available means to control it, we cannot condone methods that offend the protections afforded by the Constitution," Judge Stanley Birch wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "The detention of Jody Boyce extended beyond the time necessary to process the traffic violation for which he was stopped and Edwards did not have the reasonable suspicion to justify such a detention. Accordingly, the detention and search were unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

The state attempted to argue that Boyce's behavior was suspicious enough to provide probable cause to detain him, pointing to, among other things, the fact that he was driving a rental car on I-95, which it called "a drug corridor." The appeals court wasn't buying, though. That set of facts "would likely apply to a considerable number of those traveling for perfectly legitimate purposes," the opinion noted curtly.

The court also took pains to make clear that exercising one's right to refuse to consent to a search is no grounds for calling in the dogs. "In addition... Officer Edwards immediately called in the drug dog after Boyce refused to allow a search," the court noted. "The immediacy of Edwards' response also indicates to us that the refusal to consent was the deciding factor for Edwards to continue Boyce's detention. The police cannot base their decision to prolong a traffic stop on the detainee's refusal to submit to a search."

Visit to reach the US v. Boyce opinion online.

10. Newsbrief: Needle Access Bill Killed in New Jersey

A bill that would have legalized the possession and sale without prescription of syringes (SB 2794) died Wednesday under pressure from the state Attorney General and a handful of legislators. New Jersey is one of only five states where it remains illegal to possess a syringe or buy one without a prescription. And only in New Jersey and Delaware are needle exchange programs also banned.

With 46% of new HIV cases caused by shared needles according to the New Jersey Health Department -- nearly twice the national average -- a broad coalition of public health, religious, and drug reform groups had worked with state legislators to craft a bill that was aimed at reducing the rate of HIV infections related to injection drug use. The bill had bipartisan sponsorship and was endorsed by city councils in Atlantic City, Newark, Jersey City and Camden.

But it fell afoul of Republican drug warriors. "We're certainly sensitive to the issue of HIV transmission from the sharing of needles," Attorney General's Office spokesman Lee Moore said. "However, we're concerned this bill is not the proper vehicle for addressing it." It doesn't address needle disposal, he told the Atlantic City Press, and it lacked measures to prevent needles being sold in "illicit markets."

[Editor's Note: We are still trying to figure out how creating a legal market creates an illegal market.]

On Wednesday, the Republican legislative team in Ocean County's 9th District joined the attack, issuing a statement calling the bill "a giant step backwards in the enforcement of the drug war in New Jersey." Sen. Leonard Connors also warned that the bill was a prelude to needle-exchange programs in the state.

That was enough to convince the bill's Senate sponsor, Joseph Vitale (D) to pull the bill. But it could come back next year.

11. Newsbrief: Lieberman Clueless On California Medical Marijuana Raids

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Lowell Lieberman (CT) showed himself clueless about the Justice Department's attacks on California medical marijuana patients and providers during an appearance on C-SPAN Tuesday night. Lieberman, who cosponsored a 1998 resolution opposing efforts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, in part on grounds that it would "create ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use," had promised during his campaign to bone up on the medical marijuana issue. But it is clear from his remarks Tuesday that he isn't there yet.

During the live C-SPAN broadcast, Aaron Houston of Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (, a group formed by the Marijuana Policy Project with the express purpose of giving the issue a high profile in the Democratic presidential nomination campaign, posed the following question to Lieberman: "Will you stop [Attorney General] John Ashcroft's raids on cancer and AIDS patients, and other seriously ill people who happen to use medical marijuana under the sanctions of state law?"

"I've asked my staff to check into... accusations that Aaron and others have made, that our Justice Department is spending too much time carrying out raids on cancer patients, AIDS patients, doctors who are using marijuana as a pain killer. I don't know that -- and I'm waiting for an answer to that... But in fairness, I want to get a full report before I make any accusations or conclusions about what even this Justice Department and this administration is doing."

"We're amazed that Senator Lieberman still doesn't understand the suffering that armed DEA agents have inflicted on California's medical marijuana patients for the simple act of taking their medicine, even though these raids have received extensive press coverage, and we have provided the senator's staff with extensive documentation," said Houston.

On its web site, Granite Staters gives the Democratic candidates letter grades on the medical marijuana issue. The group recently raised Lieberman's grade from a D- to a D+, but it seems the grade should be "incomplete." Lieberman saying he had to investigate "accusations" of Justice Department raids is less believable than saying the dog ate my homework.

12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop (or Teach the Children Well)

This week we go to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where the city cop who headed the town's D.A.R.E. program is under investigation for allegedly stealing up to $20,000 in Chelmsford Police Department funds. According to the Lowell Sun, Police Chief Raymond McCusker has confirmed that Officer Mike Horan is on paid leave pending the results of a departmental investigation.

McCusker wouldn't comment further on the nature of the investigation, but sources inside the department told the Sun Horan is suspected of ripping off D.A.R.E., the ineffective but popular anti-drug program that uses police as drug "educators," and perhaps other programs. The sources told the Sun the thefts had apparently occurred over a period of months and that Horan was the only officer being investigated. He was placed on paid administrative leave on November 18.

Horan is a five-year veteran of the department. He has run the D.A.R.E. program at two city middle schools for the past three years.

13. Newsbrief: Dr. Donald Abrams Receives FDA Approval for First Human Vaporizer Research

from the e-mail bulletin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies,

FDA has approved Dr. Donald Abrams' study comparing cannabinoid blood levels, carbon monoxide levels, and subjective effects in human subjects who smoke marijuana and (at a different time) inhale vapors from the same amount of marijuana in the Volcano vaporizer ( This historic study will begin in early 2004.

The only remaining milestone that is required before it makes financial and political sense to initiate a major medical marijuana drug development effort is for NIDA's monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in FDA-approved research to be broken. MAPS hopes to accomplish this by either obtaining a DEA license for the UMass Amherst project (most desirable) or by obtaining a DEA permit to import marijuana from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (less desirable). DEA is still leisurely reviewing applications for both of these sources of supply.

14. Web Scan: Web Chat with Ira and Ethan, Reason on Ecstasy Research, C-Span Drug Debate, Stratford High Footage

Live Web Chat with Ira Glasser and Ethan Nadelmann, Tuesday, December 9th, 3:00EDT:

Ronald Bailey writes on "The Agony of Ecstasy Research" for Reason magazine:

Thanksgiving day C-Span broadcast of drug policy debate, including former NM governor Gary Johnson, Howard Law School dean and former mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke, former US drug czar William Bennett and US congressman from New York City Charlie Rangel:

Additional footage from Goose Creek post-Stratford High raid:

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

December 6, 10:00am-1:00pm, Washington, DC, Town Meeting on Ex-Offenders. Sponsored by R.E.A.C.H., Process Work DC and the International Graduate University, at 1325 D St. SE. Contact Wallace Kirby at (202) 582-8520 or Dr. Omowale Elson at (202) 483-1251 for further information.

January 7-10, 2004, Manchester, NH, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Annual Conference, held at the New Hampshire College Convention. E-mail [email protected], call (202) 293-4414 or visit for further information.

January 24, 2004, 4:00pm-3:00am, Brickell, FL, 6th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert, supporting medical marijuana campaigns by Florida NORML and Florida Cannabis Action Network. Admission $10, at Tobacco Road, 626 South Miami Ave., 21 or older with ID, contact (305) 374-1198 or Ploppy Palace Productions at [email protected] 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.

March 27, 2004, noon-6:00pm, Sacramento, CA, Medical Marijuana Rally. At the State Capitol, L & 12th, north steps, featuring singer/songwriter Dave's Not Here, speakers, entertainment. Contact Peter Keyes at [email protected] or (916) 456-7933 for further information.

April 18-20, 2004, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!", March on Washington and Chronic Pain Patients Leadership Summit. For further information, visit http:// or contact Mary Vargas at (202)-331-8864 or Siobhan Reynolds at (212)-873-5848.

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.

September 18, 2004, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 15th Annual Freedom Rally, 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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