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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #315, 12/12/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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The PERRY FUND gets PRESS -- first of much to come! Scholarship recipient Melanie Cavyell is featured in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oregon:

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  1. Editorial: Steve Kubby IS a Refugee
  2. Canada Denies Refugee Status to US Medical Marijuana Exile
  3. Fallout Continues in Goose Creek, South Carolina, High School Drug Raid
  4. DRCNet Interview: Darrell Rogers, Acting Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  5. DRCNet Book Review: "A Drug War Carol," by Susan Wells and Scott Bieser (Big Head Press, $5.95)
  6. Newsbrief: Bush Campaign Letter Attacks Drug Reform Funders
  7. Newsbrief: Thai Government to Investigate Itself over Drug War Killings
  8. Newsbrief: Bolivian Government Shifts Away from "Zero Coca"
  9. Newsbrief: New Canadian Prime Minister to Revive Marijuana Decriminalization Bill
  10. Newsbrief: Jamaican Solicitor General Warns Ganja Decrim Could Violate International Treaties, Invite US Retaliation
  11. Newsbrief: Australian Prime Minister Says Injection Room Violates Treaties, UN Says No It Doesn't
  12. Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Approved by German Court
  13. Newsbrief: West Virginia Supreme Court Grants Private Employers Greater Pre-Employment Drug Test Rights
  14. Newsbrief: NYC Cigarette Tax Hike Leads to Black Market Violence
  15. Newsbrief: Cop Kills Cop in Methamphetamine Raid Gone Awry
  16. 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
  17. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  18. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: Steve Kubby IS a Refugee

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 12/12/03

One of this week's pieces of bad news was the denial by an official of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board of Steve Kubby's request for asylum. Kubby contends that medical marijuana is an essential component of his strategy for surviving adrenal cancer, without which he won't be able to survive the 120 days awaiting him in a California jail. His doctor agrees. Board member Paulah Dauns, who presumably is not thoroughly trained in cancer treatment, ignored or disbelieved the doctor's testimony to arrive at her decision.

Canada is a bastion of reason in drug policy compared with the United States, so it feels a little strange as an American drug reformer to criticize a Canadian official. Nor am I an expert in Canadian law or the refugee statute. But I do understand the basic underlying principles of human rights. Last but not least, Steve Kubby is one of our own; Canadian medical marijuana activists have rallied around him; and he is a genuine zealot for the cause, and enthusiast for its organizations, who was active in these issues long before his current situation overtook him. So I'm going to go with it.

In my opinion, Ms. Dauns relied on strained and inconsistent logic in arriving at her decision. Dauns wrote that because his conviction was not for medical marijuana, but on a different, minor drug charge (mushrooms), Kubby's case demonstrates that the system works. The system protects medical marijuana patients in California from persecution.

Well, no. California statute comes down the right way on this, true. But it's not enough for the legislative branch (in this case the people through ballot initiative) to respect a human right in the letter of its laws. The executive branch authorized by that legislature has to respect those rights in practice. Prosecuting and convicting a man because of a medical choice he has made is only one form of persecution. Denying needed medicine that a doctor has prescribed while he is incarcerated is another form, and if the refugee law doesn't recognize that, it should.

Dave Borden and Phil Smith
Dauns also ignored the other levels of government at work, specifically the federal. It's not enough to be free from persecution by California the state. To actually be free, the federal government also needs to desist. Dauns made her decision at a time when the federal government is increasing its prosecutions and anti-medical marijuana operations in California substantially. If federal law didn't intervene, the state might indeed allow Steve Kubby to use marijuana in prison. But that's not the situation. Though indirectly, the federal government is persecuting Steve Kubby, by preventing state authorities from respecting his human rights as California law provides.

Kubby is appealing the decision, and perhaps a different official will reverse it and allow him and his family to remain in British Columbia, safe from government's evil clutches here in the US. The article below provides much more information on his case, and one of the links at the bottom of it points to an action alert with some suggestions of what you can do to help.

Never forget: Rights are not granted by governments, they are respected or they are violated, but they do not depend on the certification of legislatures to exist. A wrong committed by politicians or a system does not justify a wrong committed in cooperation with that system. Steve Kubby should not be sent away to die needlessly in a California jail; and that's a basic truth which no bureaucrat's intellectual contortions can reverse.

2. Canada Denies Refugee Status to US Medical Marijuana Exile

Prominent American medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby (, who fled the US saying an impending jail sentence would cause his death, has been denied refugee status by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board. An adrenal cancer patient, Kubby has smoked a dozen joints a day for year, which he says keeps him alive, and would have been denied that medication while serving a misdemeanor sentence in California. But Kubby did not have a well-founded fear of being persecuted or tortured, nor was there any risk to his life if he returned to his home state of California, the board ruled Monday.

He has said he will appeal, but the clock is ticking for Kubby and his family, whose requests for refugee status were also denied. Under Canadian law, he has 15 days to apply to the Supreme Court for a review of the decision, and if the court chooses not to review his case, he and his family would have to leave the country within 30 days. One option would be to apply for a "pre-removal risk assessment," which would force immigration officials to once again investigate whether he would face "cruel or unusual punishment or risk to life" if returned to the US.

Steve Kubby
Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian Party nominee for governor of California, fled to Canada with his family in 2001 after being found guilty of possession of a small amount of psychedelic mushrooms and peyote in his home state. That conviction arose from a medical marijuana raid on Kubby's home. The state could not convict on the marijuana charges -- California law allows for its medical use -- but did manage to nail Kubby for the 'shrooms. He was prepared to serve a 120-day sentence provided he could have access to medical marijuana. But local authorities in California refused to allow him to have his medicine in jail, so Kubby ran for his life to what he hoped would be a friendlier clime.

He and his family entered Canada on tourist visas, but were detained by Canadian immigration authorities after newspaper stories featured their cause and described them cultivating a medical marijuana garden at their home in Sechelt, British Columbia, a short ferry ride up BC's Sunshine Coast from Vancouver. At that point, Kubby, his wife Michelle, and their two daughters applied for asylum as refugees fleeing persecution by American drug warriors. Since then, they have remained in Canada, where they produce a program on Pot-TV (, a web-based marijuana reform broadcaster funded by marijuana seed magnate Marc Emery. They also received a permit from Health Canada to cultivate marijuana for Kubby's medicinal use are currently growing 117 plants, Kubby told the Toronto Globe & Mail.

In addition to the fear of persecution because of his well-known advocacy of medical marijuana, Kubby argued that medical marijuana users were not protected in California, and that he would die if deprived of his medicine. The Immigration and Refugee Board, however, ruled that Kubby was not and would not be persecuted, that California law in fact protects medical marijuana users, and that he would not suffer serious health effects if incarcerated without access to medical marijuana.

In an opinion written by board member Paulah Dauns, the board noted that Kubby had not been convicted on medical marijuana charges, but on other drug charges, and that California law protected him. "In effect, the process worked, as it was designed to," she wrote. "He argues that a medical marijuana patient should be protected from persecution. What he has demonstrated is that in fact, they are." Dauns also wrote that while there was little doubt marijuana relieved Kubby's cancer symptoms, there was no evidence that depriving him of cannabis while incarcerated on the California 'shroom charge would kill him, despite testimony from Dr. Joseph Connors of the British Columbia Cancer Agency, who told the court during an April hearing that Kubby would die within four days if denied access to marijuana for his condition. Kubby was not a refugee, wrote Dauns, but a "fugitive from justice."

And while Kubby argued that his use of marijuana was akin to a diabetic's use of insulin, Dauns was having none of that, either. "Insulin has been approved by the medical community as a treatment, whereas marijuana has not," she said. "The research on the benefits of marijuana is woefully inadequate and inconclusive, making a comparison of these two treatments illogical," she wrote.

The Kubby case is the first of a handful of similar "reefer refugee" cases to be decided in Canada. Two Northern California men, Kenneth Hayes and Steve Tuck, who fled federal marijuana charges related to California medical marijuana grows, have cases pending before the author of Monday's decision, board member Dauns. Some advocates had hoped Kubby, with his strong health argument, had the strongest of any of the pending cases.

Canadian Kubby supporters denounced the decision. "This is yet another example of the harms of cannabis prohibition," said Philippe Lucas, director of Canadians for Safe Access (, a medical marijuana defense organization based on its southern sister, Americans for Safe Access ( "The Kubbys are kind contributors to the social well-being of Canadians -- under any other circumstances, Canada would welcome this reverse brain-drain. It is only through the perversion of justice caused by prohibition that a loving family like the Kubbys could be condemned to an uncertain future at the hands of American prosecutors."

But it wasn't only abstract prohibition that had Lucas and other Canadian activists irked, it was the harsh slap in the face from a traditionally refugee-friendly country. "Are we as a nation really so quick to take a chance on Steve Kubby's health?" asked Lucas. "Shouldn't a modern liberal democracy like Canada err on the side of social justice when a man's life is on the line? If Steve Kubby should suffer the same fate as Peter McWilliams -- who died choking on his own vomit while being denied his medicinal cannabis after his arrest -- the hands of those who denied his refugee claim will be forever stained in his blood."

"Today, I'm ashamed of being a Canadian," concurred Tim Meehan, national director of the anti-prohibition wing of the New Democratic Party ( "Here at home, our government constantly reminds us of how important the refugee protection system is. Canada's reputation is built on it. However, when they subject people like Steve Kubby and his family to institutional prejudice because of their choice of medical treatment, and are more concerned about angering a trading partner than saving a human life, that demonstrates our government's priorities are very seriously out of alignment. I hope Canadians remember that in the upcoming federal election," Meehan added.

Visit for a letter-writing alert to help Steve Kubby.

Read a summary of the decision at:

Read the decision in full at:

Or to get right to the paragraphs where Dauns lays out her reasoning, go to:

3. Fallout Continues in Goose Creek, South Carolina, High School Drug Raid

It just keeps getting worse for the perpetrators of the now notorious drug raid at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina, last month. A class action lawsuit was filed December 5, another lawsuit will be filed Monday, and the county prosecutor has handed his investigation of possible police misconduct in the case to state officials for possible prosecution.

In that raid, whose impact was heightened this week by the release of new police video of the assault, Goose Creek Police Department officers invaded the school early on the morning of November 5, yelling and screaming at students to get on the floor, waving guns around, handcuffing students slow to comply, and searching the area with drug dogs within inches of the terrified victims. The cops had been called by Principal George McCrackin, who suspected "drug activity" among his charges. No drugs were found, nor were any weapons. Stratford High School is a predominantly white high school, but 90 of the 107 students involved in the raid were black. Some parents and others have suggested the timing and targeting of the raid was racially motivated.

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in federal court in Charleston, 17 Stratford students are suing the city of Goose Creek and the Berkeley County School District, as well as four individuals, for violating their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The former protects against unreasonable searches and seizures; the latter bars states from depriving "any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law," and would be the basis for a charge of racial discrimination. The 17 students are asking for an unspecified amount of damages and an injunction to bar similar raids in the future.

The individuals named in the suit are Principal McCrackin, Berkeley County school superintendent Chester Floyd, Goose Creek police Chief Harvey Becker, and Goose Creek police Lt. Dave Aarons, commander of the raid. It's a tough break for Floyd, who had no advance warning of the raid and who pronounced himself "appalled" that it had occurred. But while Floyd might not be to blame, as head of the school board, he is ultimately responsible for the behavior of his principals and other school system employees. "We've had local, state, national and international news coverage on this," Floyd told the Associated Press upon hearing of the lawsuit. "It's a month old. I'm trying to get everything back to normal. I'm sorry it all happened. I'm sorry it's a lawsuit."

But wait, there's more. The American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Policy Litigation Project ( will hold a press conference Monday announcing that it will file a lawsuit on behalf of 20 more students alleging Fourth Amendment violations, the project's Anjuli Verma told DRCNet. "This is for the students as individuals, not a class-action suit," she said, differentiating the ACLU action from the one filed by local attorneys. "And it is not alleging racial discrimination at this point, although we think the facts speak for themselves. About three-quarters of that school is white, while three-quarters of those caught in the raid were black." The families of students in the second lawsuit specifically requested the ACLU represent them, Verma said, but the group would cooperate with attorneys in the other lawsuit. "We may well end up being consolidated and heard as one case anyway," she said.

Meanwhile, the local prosecutor, Ninth Circuit Solicitor Ralph Hoisington of Charleston, punted his investigation of police misconduct up to State Attorney General Henry McMaster the day before the first lawsuit was filed. While some parents criticized his decision not to file charges, Hoisington's explanation suggested he thought charges might be merited. "It's a no-win situation. If I decide to prosecute, I've alienated the entire department," while if he doesn't, he faces an angry community, he told the Charleston Post & Courier. Still, he said, if he reviews a case of alleged misconduct and thinks the police action was justified, he would see no need to send it on for further analysis. "If it's clearly justified, I don't think it's a good idea to send it off to meander through the process when it's already clear to me they were correct in their actions," he said.

Attorney General McMaster can now decide to file charges against the police, decline to prosecute, or hand the case off to another prosecutor unlikely to face a conflict of interest with the Goose Creek Police Department.

For previous DRCNet reporting on the Stratford raid, visit:

4. DRCNet Interview: Darrell Rogers, Acting Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Since its emergence in 1998, Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( has been one of the fastest growing and most high-profile drug reform organizations in the country. Under the leadership of former national director Shawn Heller, the group partnered with DRCNet in zeroing in on the Higher Education Act's (HEA) anti-drug provision, which delays or denies federal financial aid for students with drug convictions, and managed to help forge a strong and growing coalition of educational, civil rights, student, and other groups to get the provision overturned.

Now that Heller has resigned to apply to law schools, one-time SSDP outreach coordinator Darrell Rogers has taken over as acting national director and is an applicant for the permanent appointment. In addition to SSDP's chapter base, Rogers now has full-time legislative and media directors and a new outreach coordinator working with him. DRCNet spoke with Rogers this week about the state of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and its plans for the coming year.

Drug War Chronicle: SSDP is holding its national conference early next month in New Hampshire, of all places. Could this have anything to do with the Democratic presidential campaign primaries?

Darrell Rogers
Darrell Rogers: Absolutely. We will be holding our conference in New Hampshire and we will be organizing about 200 dedicated SSDP activists to bring the issue of the HEA anti-drug provision and drug policy reform in general to the candidates at a time when they are most publicly accessible and firmly in the national media spotlight. We will be coordinating SSDP teams to go out and meet with candidates, to be at all public events, to have our questions ready. We will get our activists behind the microphones as often as possible. Our primary objective is to focus on the candidates and get them to come out in support of repeal of the HEA anti-drug provision.

The conference only lasts three days, but SSDP will have a presence there through the end of January, through the primary, and we will be working with other groups. Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana has already been busy up there. We will work with them, but also with the usual drug reform suspects. And we are ready to work with others; we're going up there with open arms. Our goal is to show the candidates and the nation that drug reform in general and the Higher Education Act in particular are issues that everyone should care about. We want people to see that there are concerned, bright, courageous students dedicated to this. That is the image we want everyone to see while we're up there. And we will have by far the largest number of activists in any drug policy organization working in New Hampshire.

Chronicle: Are you looking at other issues as well?

Rogers: Repealing the HEA anti-drug provision is first and foremost for us because it will be going through reauthorization in early 2004. It will be the keystone of our campaign, but once we get one or more candidates to take a stand for repeal, we can begin to branch out to some of our other concerns, such as medical marijuana, needle exchange programs, and US policy in Colombia. All of these are important issues, but HEA is number one.

Chronicle: Do you think you can win repeal of the HEA anti-drug provision in Congress next year?

Rogers: We have a stand-alone bill for HEA anti-drug provision repeal that will be introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and now we are looking for a Republican cosponsor. There are some Republicans who have said they would sign on after we got another initial GOP cosponsor, but none so far are ready to stick their necks out and be the first. The Kennedy bill is sure to get Barney Frank's repeal bill in the House moving again, and we will take that momentum into the reauthorization hearings. There is a chance we could succeed next year, but even if we don't, those two bills will help build momentum for language that will repeal the provision.

Chronicle: What is the state of SSDP?

Rogers: The group has grown from one chapter in 1998 [Rochester Institute of Technology] to more than 200 chapters across the country now. We're still growing. And at the beginning of the fall semester this year, we got 124 requests for information on how to start a chapter. Not all of those will translate into new chapters, of course, but it suggests that interest in the organization is very, very high. In terms of the quality of the membership, I can only say that our people are becoming more savvy, more active, and more dedicated. We are seeing greater output and better work from our existing chapters, whether it is the Skate for Justice at SUNY New Paltz, organizing movie screenings at Ohio State, or doing the more mundane but essential work of getting schools behind the effort to undo the HEA anti-drug provision.

We have not entirely covered the country. There are a handful of low-population states where we have no organized presence. We generally follow the country's population contours. The majority of our chapters are in the Northeast, where more people are, but we also have a presence in other major urban hubs across the country, and chapters at large state universities, such as the University of Iowa, Ohio State, and the University of Texas.

Chronicle: NORML also has a strong campus presence. Are you in competition with them?

Rogers: Not at all. We work cooperatively with other reform groups. We ally ourselves with other reform groups for legislative actions, media events, and conferences. Remember that our last conference was a joint event with the Marijuana Policy Project. SSDP activists are happy to stay in tune with other drug reform groups. As for campus NORML groups, we believe that the supply of potential drug reform activists is endless and we don't need to fight over members. NORML has more resources and more information on marijuana than SSDP does, so SSDP students who are interested in that issue will go to NORML chapters. For other issues, NORML students may come to us. In fact, sometimes both organizations have chapters on the same campus, often with the same people involved. We encourage that. It means more funding from the universities; you can get funding for two events, two speakers, two presentations instead of just one. In a situation where both groups have campus chapters, students can double their effectiveness, and they can wear whichever hat is most appropriate.

Chronicle: Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is the author of the HEA anti-drug provision. Last year, SSDP activists went to Souder's district in an effort to knock him off in the Republican primary. Unfortunately, that didn't work. But he has offered new language that would restrict the anti-drug provision to those students who are receiving financial aid when they commit their offenses. Will you be going back to put the pressure on Souder again?

Rogers: We would love to hassle Souder again, but right now our focus in here on the Hill in Washington and in the states and congressional districts where we have a chance of generating some support. Souder's new provision is only a band-aid. The HEA anti-drug provision is so ill-conceived and poorly written that the only way to fix it is to repeal it. And that's what we're working on.

As of press time, it was Darrell Rogers' birthday. You can write Rogers at [email protected] to wish him a happy one.

5. DRCNet Book Review: "A Drug War Carol," by Susan Wells and Scott Bieser (Big Head Press, $5.95)

'Tis the season for a charmingly pointed little comic book about the drug war. With apologies to Charles Dickens, whose work they cheerfully adapt, Susan Wells and Scott Bieser have pulled it off with "A Drug War Carol." The 64-page comic, or, as Bieser calls it, "graphic novella," grabs readers for a whirlwind tour of drug prohibition past, present, and future. In the process, Bieser and Wells revisit some of the shameful episodes at the root of our century-long crusade against drugs, while at the same time tying it in with a most contemporary tale of drug war madness.

"A Drug War Carol" begins on a snowy December evening in Washington, DC, as our protagonist, drug czar Scrooge McCzar holds a press conference vowing unrelenting struggle against the latest danger to the nation, medical marijuana. A small band of demonstrators and patients circle outside, and when McCzar leaves, he is confronted by a sick woman in a wheel chair, multiple sclerosis sufferer Mary Jane Cratchet, and her husband Bob. In an act of civil disobedience, Mary Jane fires up, and an angry McCzar orders the pair arrested on drug conspiracy charges. "But who will look after our child, Tiny Tim?" asks the sick woman as the police wheel her off to jail.

That's not McCzar's concern, he tells himself, as he heads home to a well-deserved meal of beer and microwavable "Frozen Crud." But like its Dickensian model, Ebeneezer Scrooge, to whom Wells and Bieser also apologize -- Scrooge's miserliness doesn't compare with the depredations of the drug war, in their opinion -- McCzar's evening has only just begun. It continues in a particularly nightmarish way, as the first in a series of apparitions to visit him that night makes his entry. Yes, the hideous beast from the past is none other than the original drug warrior, Harry Anslinger! Ooh, the horrors! "I am here to give you a chance of avoiding my fate," warns the greenish ghoul, his bald pate glistening, his broad shoulders weighted down with chains. "Human beings were meant to do each other good, not harm," he tells the stricken McCzar, as he points to the wraiths of drug warriors past, their mouths opened in soundless screams, condemned to haunt the netherworld for their misdeeds against their fellow man.

But the ghostly, ghastly Anslinger is only the beginning for McCzar. Three more visitors will come in the night, he warns, and so they do. The spirit of Christmas past, an odd little long-haired imp wearing a robe with pot leaf embroidery; the spirit of Christmas present, a seven foot tall dreadlocked Jamaican Santa in a green suit; and the spirit of Christmas future, an eerie police state emblem resembling Robocop or a SWAT team member on bad steroids, take the increasingly appalled McCzar on a guided tour of prohibition then and now. In the meantime, Mary Jane Cratchet, jailed in the hospital infirmary, lingers at the edge of death.

Will McCzar see the light? Will he act to save Mrs. Cratchet and poor Tiny Tim? Will he survive his encounter will the drug war beast he helped create? You'll have to read the comic to find out. And as you do, you'll enjoy not only Wells' pithy, pointed, and historically accurate text, but also Bieser's beautiful artwork and lettering in the finest comic tradition.

A Drug War Carol may be a comic, but it's no laughing matter. Instead it is a thoughtful, visually pleasing addition to the ever-growing anti-prohibitionist literature. Though frequently making use of marijuana culture references (such as the name "Mary Jane,"), A Drug War Carol also strives to inform readers on a wide range of important drug policy issues, such as mandatory minimum sentencing, civil asset forfeiture, under-prescribing of opioids to chronic pain patients, the crime and violence caused by drug prohibition, dilution of constitutional rights and others. It is also unusual among comic books in its inclusion of several pages of end notes and an extensive bibliography of recommended reading.

A Drug War Carol is fun and would make a worthy gift for fellow drug reformers this season. But it could also be the perfect thing to prick the conscience of that Scrooge McCzar on your Christmas list -- or more likely that well meaning member of the public who simply needs a little more information. With half a million nonviolent drug offenders spending the holiday in jail or prison, now's a good time to provide it for them. In the meantime, visit for a web site edition and further information.

DRCNet is now offering A Drug War Carol as a new membership premium -- please visit to secure your copy or copies -- there's still time to get them before the holiday, but place your order soon to be sure! Due to A Drug War Carol's low cost, we are able to offer a free copy to any reader donating $15 or more -- add $5 for each additional copy (e.g. $20 and get two, $25 and get three, etc.) -- or add $5 to your order for any other DRCNet premium (such as a mug or t-shirt or the Flex Your Rights video "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters") and we'll include a copy of A Drug War Carol with it. Remember that donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. Contributions to the DRCNet Foundation to support our educational work are tax-deductible, but the amount of your donation will be reduced $5.95 per copy, the book's list price.

6. Newsbrief: Bush Campaign Letter Attacks Drug Reform Funders

It's getting nasty out there. In a Wednesday e-mail sent to members of a Bush-Cheney campaign e-mail list, Bush-Cheney '04 campaign chairman Marc Racicot urged loyalists to send money to help fight off "vicious personal attacks" on President Bush. Along the way, however, Racicot engaged in precisely that practice in going after George Soros and Peter Lewis, two prominent drug reform funders who this year have contributed heavily to efforts to defeat the Bush re-election effort.

Soros is a "billionaire liberal" who said "Bush reminds him of the Nazis," Racicot warned. But Lewis, the founder and head of the Progressive Insurance company, is that rarest of all creatures, the "billionaire leftist." And while it was not their drug reform politics which drew Racicot's ire, but large contributions by Soros and Lewis to liberal get-out-the-vote organizations hoping to unseat Bush in the next election, Racicot couldn't resist using -- or abusing -- the drug policy connection, telling Bush-Cheney subscribers that Lewis is "an ardent advocate of hard drugs."

Lewis, who has contributed millions of dollars to drug reform, last year put most of his money into marijuana-related projects. He is known as a marijuana consumer, having been famously arrested in New Zealand for pot possession. But while he has advocated changes in drug laws, and not only for marijuana, he has never, as far as DRCNet knows, been "an ardent advocate of hard drugs."

7. Newsbrief: Thai Government to Investigate Itself over Drug War Killings

Last week, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave King Bumipol Adunyadet a birthday present of a "drug-free" Thailand, an illusory achievement accomplished in part by the death squad-style murders of as many as 2,700 suspected drug dealers or users ( But the Thai anti-drug pogrom has come under increasing criticism from national and international human rights groups, as well as the United Nations, and the king used his birthday speech to the nation to call for the government to account for the killings. The Thai government has agreed, but critics complain that the government cannot and should not adequately investigate itself.

While the king praised Thaksin's efforts to rid the country of drugs, in his address from Chitralada Palace on December 4, he also said the exact number of people killed in the drug war should be tallied and the circumstances of their deaths clarified. "It is said the prime minister's war on drugs killed about 2,500 people," noted the monarch. "That is not correct. Most of them were killed by their accomplices and others by the government crackdown," he added, following the official line. "If the matter is not clarified, many people will blame the prime minister. The findings should be made available to the public and to the international community," said Bumipol, the world's longest reigning monarch.

The king's speech came before an audience that included Thaksin, cabinet members and other high-ranking officials. It was broadcast live on radio across the nation, and taped for TV broadcasts later in the day. He used the occasion to chide government officials, including Thaksin, for failing to take responsibility for the deaths. "If this continues, in the end, the people will blame the King," he complained. "This would breach the constitution, which stipulates that the King should not have to take responsibility for anything. In this country, who is going to shoulder the responsibility? In the end, the prime minister must take responsibility."

Still, the king seemed to imply that 2,500 deaths was a small price to pay to suppress drug use. "If the prime minister had not taken this action, there would be more than 2,500 deaths, including addicts, and that number would grow every year," he said.

The Thaksin government responded by announcing it will create two panels -- one from the Royal Thai Police, one from the Narcotics Control Board -- to look at each killing. And it will announce its finding within a week, the government said. But some police officials didn't need even that much time. Pol Lt-Gen Nawin Singhapalin, chief of the General Staff Office and chairman of one of the panels, told the Nation newspaper that his group had already looked at more than a thousand killings and found only 45 extra-judicial executions.

Neither the composition of the panels nor the speed with which they are expected to come to conclusions is creating much confidence among critics of the campaign. For an investigation to be credible, it must be independent, the National Human Rights Commission told the Nation. The Campaign for Popular Democracy, an opposition group, agreed. "I can't see justice being done if police are assigned to do it alone," said Campaign leader Pipop Thongchai. "We have been asking the police for information, but they always cite 'state secrets' to shut us down. We need the involvement of the Justice Ministry, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Human Rights Commission," he said.

Come back next week for the results of the anticipated one-week whitewash.

8. Newsbrief: Bolivian Government Shifts Away from "Zero Coca"

Two members of the government of Bolivian President Carlos Mesa signaled this week that his administration would shift the emphasis of its anti-drug policy from forced eradication of "excess" coca to efforts to block the arrival of precursor chemicals into the country and finished cocaine out. The Mesa government is under severe political pressure from coca growers, led by Movement Toward Socialism head Evo Morales, to end its US-backed eradication policies. "Zero coca isn't an objective that will be achieved because taking into account that coca is a legal traditional crop within the country, it is a scheme that cannot be accomplished," said Minister of Agriculture and Peasant Affairs Diego Montenegro.

"What we are talking about now is to achieve a greater intensity in interdiction actions and above all, an energetic position against the chemicals that are used to make the drug," Minister of Government Alfonso Ferrufino added to the Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos. "Our anti-drug plan will do a study of the legal destination of coca, of the final use of the crop, which will give us a policy instrument, because when the number of allowed hectares was defined in Law 1008, they used certain elements to define the allowable quantity, but all of that happened 15 years ago," Ferrufino explained.

That study would include satellite monitoring of the crop, the ministers added. The broader anti-drug strategy would also make "structural adjustments" in existing alternative development programs and attempt to give renewed emphasis to prevention and rehabilitation efforts, they said.

US Ambassador David Greenlee, for his part, told Los Tiempos that there is more illegal coca growing in Bolivia (16,000 hectares) than there is legal (12,000 hectares). The US government would continue to back the Mesa government, Greenlee said, as long as it remained firm in the unalterable struggle against the drug traffic.

9. Newsbrief: New Canadian Prime Minister to Revive Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

New Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who replaced Jean Chretien today, supports Chretien's cannabis decriminalization bill and will allow members of parliament (MPs) to vote on it next month, his spokesmen told reporters in Edmonton, Alberta, Tuesday. But that vote will be a "free vote," where MPs are not bound by party discipline, and enough ruling Liberal Party MPs could vote against it to kill it.

Paul Martin
The Chretien decriminalization bill would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but would increase penalties for all but the smallest marijuana grow ops. It has received a lukewarm reception from marijuana reform advocates, while exciting opposition from the US government.

And US Ambassador Paul Cellucci was quick to respond to the latest noises. "Our concern is the perception of this is that this is a weakening of the law... that it will be easier to get marijuana in Canada," said Cellucci -- who must be visiting the wrong parts of Canada if he finds it difficult to find marijuana now. "Our customs and immigration officers, they're law-enforcement officers. If they think it's easier to get marijuana in Canada, they're going to be on the lookout," he told the Toronto Sun.

Parliamentary vote or not, the issue could well be rendered moot by legal action. The Canadian Supreme Court is currently considering a trio of cases that challenge the government's ability to regulate marijuana possession. The decision in that group of cases could come any day.

10. Newsbrief: Jamaican Solicitor General Warns Ganja Decrim Could Violate International Treaties, Invite US Retaliation

As the Jamaican parliament moves toward a vote on the decriminalization of ganja for personal use (, the government's top lawyer warned legislators Wednesday that the move would violate international anti-drug treaties and draw the ire of the United States. A National Ganja Commission has recommended that "the relevant laws be amended so that ganja can be decriminalized for the private, personal use of small quantities by adults." But Solicitor General Michael Hylton told the Joint Select Committee of Parliament studying ganja decrim that if "the Dangerous Drugs Act is amended to decriminalize the private, personal use of marijuana in small quantities, Jamaica would, in all likelihood, be in breach of certain international obligations in respect of drug control."

Jamaican Parliament
Decrim could also lead to decertification by the United States as a good partner in the war on drugs, Hylton warned. "Thus, if Jamaica were to decriminalize marijuana for personal use, there would be a distinct risk that the country would be subject to the sanctions associated with decertification," he said. But Hylton's claims are questionable. The US state of Ohio, for example, has decriminalized the possession of up to 100 grams (or almost a quarter-pound) of marijuana. It has been neither decertified by the United States nor invaded by the United Nations. Still, his remarks were enough to wreak havoc with the pro-decriminalization consensus that had been emerging in the committee. Now, according to the Jamaica Observer, the committee is attempting to rebuild that near consensus.

11. Newsbrief: Australian Prime Minister Says Injection Room Violates Treaties, UN Says No It Doesn't

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch opponent of drug law liberalization, has attempted to use international drug control treaties as a reason to shut down Sydney's successful trial safe injection room in Sydney. Unfortunately for Howard, his claim that the safe injection room violates those treaties has been undercut by the UN's International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) -- not exactly a hotbed of drug legalizers.

Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald published excerpts from a letter from Howard to New South Wales Premier Bob Carr in which Howard claimed that continued operation of the site could jeopardize Australia's $100 million a year legal opiate industry. "I am concerned that actions to continue trials... could constitute a breach of Australia's international treaty obligations," he wrote. The INCB had reinforced its opposition to the safe injection site, Howard added.

Wrong. What the INCB said about safe injection sites in its most recent report, in February, was that they may be useful in combating the spread of infectious disease and that they did not appear to be efforts to promote drug use. "It would be difficult to assert that, in establishing drug injection rooms, it is the intent of parties to actually incite or induce the illicit use of drugs, or even more so, to associate with, aid, abet or facilitate the possession of drugs," wrote the INCB. "On the contrary, it seems clear that in such cases the intention of governments is to provide healthier conditions for IV drug abusers, thereby reducing their risk of infection with grave transmittable diseases and, at least in some cases, reaching out to them with counseling and other therapeutic options."

"It is clear the Prime Minister has got it wrong," Premier Carr told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He appears to be using the medically supervised injecting centre for political purposes."

Visit to read the INCB Annual Report online.

12. Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Approved by German Court

At least some Germans can legally grow and use marijuana for medical reasons after a November 27 ruling by a Berlin District Court judge, the Berliner Zeitung reported. In a case involving defendant Michael Grosse, a Crohn's Disease sufferer who used the herb to alleviate diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal spasms, Judge Michael Zimmerman ruled that Grosse acted out of urgent need and his marijuana use was justified.

Because prosecutors have already announced they will not appeal the ruling, it is now the law throughout the judicial district, which includes Germany's largest city. It is not the first German court ruling in favor of medical marijuana. In May, a Mannheim District Court judge acquitted a patient who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. But prosecutors there have appealed that ruling.

Grosse had earlier been found guilty by another district court judge, who gave him a suspended five-month prison sentence, but a higher court overturned that ruling and ordered the district court to take Grosse's circumstances into consideration. In the second trial, Judge Zimmermann heard testimony from Grosse's family doctor, who said Grosse's health had improved considerably with his marijuana self-medication. Zimmerman also invited two experts, Dr. Rommelspacher, professor of pharmacology at the Free University of Berlin, and Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, executive director of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (, both of whom testified that cannabis could be helpful with Crohn's Disease symptoms.

Grosse, who had been busted with 59 plants, didn't get away scot free, however. That was too many plants, Zimmerman ruled, sentencing him to a fine and probation.

13. Newsbrief: West Virginia Supreme Court Grants Private Employers Greater Pre-Employment Drug Test Rights

Thirteen years ago, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the random drug testing of employees of private companies violated their privacy rights under the state constitution. Last week, in a ruling in which the state Supreme Court noted its uneasiness with its own decision, the court refused to extend that privacy right to persons confronted with demands for pre-employment drug testing. Under the ruling, private employers in West Virginia will be able to demand such tests of all prospective employees.

The ruling came in the case of Stephanie Baughman, who was offered a job by Wal-Mart, the state's (and the country's) largest employer. In 2000, Wal-Mart forced her to submit to a urine screen being started working at the chain's Grafton store. Although Baughman passed the drug test and later left Wal-Mart for unrelated reasons, she sued the giant corporation for violating her privacy rights. Forcing her to submit to the urine test caused her "embarrassment, indignity, humiliation, annoyance, inconvenience and other general damages," she claimed.

While the court had ruled in 1990 that random drug tests of employees violated privacy rights, it was not ready last week to extend those same rights to prospective employees. "[I]n the pre-employment context, it is apparent... that a person clearly has a lower expectation of privacy," said the unsigned opinion. "Employers regularly perform pre-employment background checks, seek references, and require pre-employment medical examinations, etc., that are far more intrusive than what would be considered tolerable for existing employees without special circumstances. Giving a urine sample is a standard component of a medical examination."

But the court also took pains to say it remained concerned about privacy issues involved. "The principle and right of personal autonomy and privacy is just as important as the more traditional civil rights of freedom of assembly, speech, and religion," read the opinion. "It is central to our constitutional system of government. Its protection needs strong and sometimes controversial and fearless, bulwarks -- especially in an age of ever-more sophisticated and intrusive technologies, and cries for heightened surveillance and monitoring of every aspect of life. It is a crucial role of courts in a constitutional system to see that these bulwarks of privacy, autonomy, and ultimately freedom remain strong -- even in the face of short-sighted efforts to erode them, or to make an end-run around them."

But you still have to pee in a cup if you want a job at Wal-Mart. Visit to read Baughman v. Wal-Mart online.

14. Newsbrief: NYC Cigarette Tax Hike Leads to Black Market Violence

Welcome to the drug wars, Mr. Butts. New York City's black market cigarette business turned violent this week, with two people killed and two others shot in separate attacks linked to turf wars over prime sales locations, the New York Post reported Wednesday. The violence comes amidst a surge in cigarette bootlegging since the city increased its cigarette tax from 8 cents per pack to $1.50 per pack in June of last year -- a whopping 1,900% increase.

As a result of the tax increase, cigarette smuggling has gone through the roof.

By purchasing smokes in tobacco-friendly states such as Kentucky and North Carolina, bootlegging entrepreneurs can make a profit of as much as $50 per carton. With profit margins like that, a single van load of Kools or Winstons can be worth tens of thousands of dollars once the smokes are sold on the street corners and bodegas of the city. Such profits are attracting criminal gangs, New York police and federal officials said. Among those mentioned by authorities are Russian mobsters, Chinatown gangs, and Arabs with ties to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia facilely labeled a "terrorist group."

"You can liken this to narcotics trafficking; there are people who buy in bulk, then break it down and distribute to stores or to street dealers who sell them by the cigarette," said Garry McCarthy, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for operations.

Naturally, the police are ready to confront this new menace. NYPD has created a special unit, the Cigarette Interdiction Group (CIGóget it?) to go after the black market trade. These new Untouchables have so far made 146 arrests, seized six cars, $250,000 in cash, and 30,000 cartons of cigarettes. Those figures do not include the more than one thousand cigarette-related arrests made by patrol cops since the tax took effect last year.

According to Patrick Fleenor, author of "Cigarette Taxes, Black Markets, and Crime: Lessons from New York's 50-Year Losing Battle," efforts to suppress behaviors through excessively punitive taxation always yield such unanticipated yet predictable results. "Since the first state cigarette taxes were imposed in the 1920s, black markets and related criminal activity have plagued high-tax jurisdictions. Such activity has proven to be resistant to law enforcement curtailment efforts," wrote Fleenor. "The negative side effects of high cigarette taxes in New York provide a cautionary tale that high tax rates have serious consequences -- even for such a politically unpopular product as cigarettes."

15. Newsbrief: Cop Kills Cop in Methamphetamine Raid Gone Awry

Meth prohibition took another law enforcement officer's life in Huntsville, Tennessee, on November 27. Scott County Deputy Sheriff Hubert "John John" Yancey died after being shot by another raider, Scott County Sheriff's Department Drug Officer Marty Carson, the son of Scott County Sheriff Jim Carson, as the pair entered a mobile home near Oneida to check on a suspected methamphetamine lab.

According to District Attorney Paul Phillips, Carson entered the trailer first after obtaining permission from a resident and made his way toward a back bedroom where he thought the meth was being cooked. Hearing a noise from the bedroom that sounded like a shotgun loading, Carson hid in the bathroom. Fearing an armed suspect was advancing, Carson shot when he saw a figure coming down the hall.

"Tragically, it was Sgt. Yancey who had come to assist him," Phillips said told the Tennessean newspaper. "We have lost a wonderful public servant," Phillips said of Yancey, and Carson "has lost his partner and his best friend. He is completely devastated by this tragedy and needs the prayers of this community."

Carson had been distracted by the screams of a woman in the trailer and blinded by the glare of police headlights shining on the scene, Phillips added. Two men and a woman were arrested and charged with three counts each of meth manufacture. No weapons were found. And the police habit of treating each drug bust as an adrenaline-fueled potential firefight just cost them another one of their own.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. The Reformer's Calendar

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

December 13, Culver City, CA, "Chongstock" Concert, benefit for the Free Tommy Chong movement. At The Cinema Bar, 3967 Sepulveda Blvd., e-mail [email protected] for further information.

December 16, 12:30pm, Washington, DC, "Stop Civil Forfeiture" Rally, sponsored by Forfeiture Endangers American Rights. At Freedom Plaza, 14th & Pennsylvania NW, visit or contact Alicia Bradley at (760) 409 3209 or [email protected] 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 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.

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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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