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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #317, 12/26/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Message from the Executive Director: Another Year at DRCNet and in Drug Policy Reform
  2. Canadian Supreme Court Upholds Marijuana Law -- Cannabis Battle Heads Back to Parliament
  3. The New Jersey Weedman is Back! Forchion Announces House Bid Before Arrest at Liberty Bell Pot-Smoking Religious Demo
  4. Newsbrief: The Complete List of President Bush's Drug War Prisoner Pardons
  5. Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part I -- "B-1 Bob" Dornan to Challenge Rohrabacher in House Race, Attacks Medical Marijuana
  6. Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part II -- Arch-Drug Warrior McCollum Seeks Florida GOP Senate Nod
  7. Newsbrief: Prohibition-Terror Link?
  8. Newsbrief: Cable Giant Censors Medical Marijuana Issue Ads in New Hampshire
  9. Newsbrief: Todd McCormick Released from Federal Prison
  10. Newsbrief: Why Don't People Seek Treatment?
  11. Popular Television News and Drama Programs to Discuss Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in January
  12. BUSTED: New and Improved Video Offer from DRCNet
  13. 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
  14. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  15. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Message from the Executive Director: Another Year at DRCNet and in Drug Policy Reform

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 12/26/03

David Borden
Every year is different in drug policy reform. Past years have seen exciting victories at the ballot box for sentencing reform, medical marijuana and asset forfeiture. 2002 saw some defeats in that arena. 2003 was more of a "keep plugging" sort of year -- most of the action was in Congress and the legislatures, in protests and demonstrations, and of course the general process of educating the public about the terrible consequences of criminal prohibition of drugs. Things went well or badly in the states, depending on where you looked and at what you looked. In Congress, our side lost two important votes this summer, on medical marijuana and Plan Colombia. But at a different level, the votes were victories -- support for medical marijuana increased by more than 60% since the last such vote five years before; and the Plan Colombia vote was razor thin, a margin that not so long ago would have seemed inconceivable.

Just as every year is different in the issue, every organization is different too. I'd like to take a moment to talk about some of the things we are doing here at DRCNet, and some of the things we'd like to do if we find financial help. Before I do so, I also want to mention -- as many of you already know -- that 2003 was a difficult year in drug reform funding overall, and DRCNet was not spared from financial hits. If you can afford to make an end-year donation -- a tax-deductible one to the DRCNet Foundation, if that is helpful to you, or a non-deductible gift for our lobbying work to the Drug Reform Coordination Network. If you can't make one now, but can pledge something for the first month or quarter or half of next year, that would help too. We are trying to balance next year's budget, and though things look promising, we also need a bit more in confirmed pledges or actual money in the bank if we are to avoid cutbacks that will significantly undermine our ability to do this work. You can donate online by credit card at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ or print out a form to send in with a check or money order by mail to P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Or free to give us a call at (202) 293-8340; ask for me or for our associate director, David Guard, and contact us if you would like information on how to donate stocks.

DRCNet's action plan includes two components that DRCNet readers know well, this newsletter as well as our action alerts. More generally, educating and mobilizing the masses on issues from sentencing to needle exchange to Plan Colombia to medical marijuana, supporting the work and amplifying the messages of all the other groups making up the drug policy reform movement, helping new groups start, is all a critical part of our work.

With your help and with some likely grants in the works, we will continue publishing Drug War Chronicle -- the only comprehensive publication of original journalism on drug policy and the reform movement. We believe that 2004 will see Drug War Chronicle's subscriber base soar to over 40,000 e-mail recipients, and many more than that accessing it via the web, but we need your help to ensure that this happens. Also with your help, we will resume our web-based write-to-Congress web sites -- the larger the Chronicle list gets, the more important our list becomes for lobbying too, and the action alert web sites also help to grow the list. One member with a friend has pledged $100 per month by credit card to support our use of this service. Would you sign up to give a monthly contribution, small or large, to bring us closer to the goal? Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to sign up today!

DRCNet entering 2004 is more than just information, though -- please continue and read about the rest of our programs:

 
Arnold Trebach introduces
Senator Nolin of Canada and
Marco Cappato of the European
Parliament at the DC Out from
the Shadows
news conference.

Out from the Shadows -- our international campaign and conference series calling for an end to drug prohibition and building an "edifice of opinion leaders" going on the record calling for legalization (http://stopthedrugwar.org/shadows/). Out from the Shadows has gotten a great start, with a 300-person conference at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan, Mérida, Mexico, featuring five members of national parliaments of Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay) and leaders from the ranks of academia, government, law enforcement, harm reduction, cocalero organizing, media and others. Out from the Shadows Mérida set a record by drawing more high-level participation than any previous drug reform conference in history! Allies organized other Out from the Shadows events, including a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, and a DC press conference with Canada's Senator Pierre Claude Nolin. We are seeking $50,000 in seed money to make the next conference possible -- if you know any individuals or foundations who might be interested in Out from the Shadows, please put us in touch!

Higher Education Act Reform -- DRCNet continues to lead, in partnership with our friends at Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the campaign to repeal a federal law that delays or denies federal financial aid for college to students because of drug convictions (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com). Our accomplishments in this area include two other drug reform records -- ten members of Congress speaking at our Capitol Hill press conference calling for repeal of the provision and 67 cosponsors of the bill to repeal it (current count 64), the strongest showing for any positive drug reform legislation before Congress in recent years. HEA offers our movement its first chance to repeal a federal drug law in full since the Boggs Laws (earlier mandatory minimum sentences) were taken off the books in 1970; and achieving that repeal will in turn shift the climate on Capitol Hill in favor of further changes in drug laws.

Ten members of Congress
spoke at our May 2002
HEA press conference.
We have just received a $25,000 grant from the Tides Foundation Fund for Drug Policy Reform for the HEA campaign, and are seeking roughly $10,000 to complete the current project's budget and another $10,000 to expand it. The current project involves grassroots mobilizations in states around the country lobbying Republican Senators to cosponsor the first Senate repeal bill with Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has given his commitment to introduce the repeal bill once such a cosponsor is found. The expansion plan would include a series of forums around the state of Ohio, efforts to start and energize SSDP chapters around the state, substantial local media work, promotion around the state of a student government resolution calling for the law's repeal, grassroots mobilizing and campaigning, "grass-tops" high-level lobbying, more. We will also need further funds by April to continue the campaign on to further stages.

The Perry Fund -- We are seeking funding for a national media/fundraising/organizing campaign built around the John W. Perry Fund, our scholarship program for students who have lost financial aid because of drug convictions. We recently had an initial success in this area, an excellent article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oregon, featuring Perry Fund grantee Melanie Cavyell of Linn Benton College (http://www.gtconnect.com/articles/2003/12/12/news/community/friloc01.txt). Also, a Perry Fund PSA has run or is currently running on about two-dozen campus radio stations around the country.

c
 
Perry Fund grantee Donald Miller, with David Borden
and former Urban Justice Center intern Gabe Freiman

You can help with this in the meantime. We have five students in a variety of locations around the country whose education we have helped fund -- all of it with donations given expressly for the Perry Fund, not with our general support donations -- and we would like to continue supporting them for at least one more semester. (Four of them will be eligible again for aid after that.) We have received several more completed applications from additional deserving would-be students. Most of our grantees have decided to go public telling their story, a courageous act that does more to fuel discussion of the issue than perhaps anything else.

What we are asking is that those of you who know of individuals or foundations, preferably who are not currently active drug reform supporters but who may have compatible values, to tell them about the Perry Fund and put them in touch with us. In many of these cases, one or two of a few thousand dollars is enough to get the students through a semester or more. A small gift to the Perry Fund, and participation in media work if they are willing, could be a great way to bring a new donor into the movement. We currently have completed applications from students or would-be students in New York City, Oregon, California, Colorado, Idaho, Las Vegas, metro-Washington DC/Virginia, Washington state, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere. Visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/ for more information on the scholarship. The Perry Fund is charity but it is also something more, it is a statement.

Under-treatment of Pain -- We are currently seeking funding for a major, behind-the-scenes effort to bring massive pressure to bear on police and prosecutors to stop their monstrous persecution of doctors who aggressively treat chronic pain patients with opioids (narcotics); and to help groups in the pain movement take their work to the next level to make that possible.

I hope this leaves you with a better idea of what DRCNet is about and how important your support of our organization is to the issue. With your help, there is hope for change! Thank you for being a part of drug policy reform.


2. Canadian Supreme Court Upholds Marijuana Law -- Cannabis Battle Heads Back to Parliament

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Tuesday that laws making marijuana possession a criminal offense potentially punishable by jail time do not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ruling came in the conjoined cases of David Malmo-Levine, Chris Clay and Victor Caine, all of whom argued that the harmfulness of marijuana did not rise to a level that allowed the government to threaten their liberty and personal security through criminal sanctions. Instead, the court agreed with government lawyers, who argued that the laws should stand unless and until parliament decides to change them.

"We conclude that it is within Parliament's legislative jurisdiction to criminalize the possession of marijuana, should it choose to do so," said the decision, co-written by Justices Charles Gonthier and Ian Binnie. "Equally, it is open to Parliament to decriminalize or otherwise modify any aspect of the marijuana laws that it no longer considers to be good public policy... The evidence indicates the existence of both use and misuse by chronic users and by vulnerable groups who cause harm to themselves," said the 6-3 opinion. "There is no free-standing constitutional right to smoke 'pot' for recreational purposes."

Justice Louise Arbour
authored the dissenting opinion.
The dissenting justices scoffed at the majority's public health claims and said that it had only vague data to back up those claims. "Canadians do not expect to go to jail whenever they embark on some adventure which involves a possibility of injury to themselves," wrote Justice Louise Arbour said. "I see no reason to single out those who may jeopardize their health by smoking marijuana." But that was the minority opinion.

The ruling effectively returns the battle for marijuana law reform to the realm of politics. New Prime Minister Paul Martin has announced that his government will reintroduce a marijuana decriminalization bill, as did his predecessor Jean Chretien. But early indications are that the Martin pot bill will be even more restrictive than Chretien's -- the Chretien bill foresaw a personal possession limit of 15 grams, while talk around the Martin bill is of a 5 or 10 gram limit. The Martin bill may also end up with stiffer penalties for growers and dealers than the Chretien bill.

"It's a sad day for civil liberties in Canada," said John Conroy, attorney for Caine. "The court is saying that as long as there is some risk to some vulnerable group, it is okay for parliament to criminalize behavior and threaten your liberty, and it doesn't involve Charter rights. This has closed off almost every avenue for challenging the marijuana law under the Charter," he told DRCNet. "The court hinted that perhaps one could use a claim of disproportionate punishment, but it showed that it had little regard for the stigmatization and all the other things that happen to people prior to being sentenced," he said.

"Those justices are a bunch of Grinches," said David Malmo-Levine, who had famously toked up before arguing his case before the court. "Their hearts are two sizes too small. They ruined Christmas for over three million Canadians," he told DRCNet. "We are not protected by the constitution. This is a real psychic kick in the nuts."

"This is an unfortunate ruling," agreed Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (http://www.cfdp.ca). "It is a setback, but at least we didn't see any of that demonizing rhetoric that we get from courts in the US," he told DRCNet. "In the Clay case, the judge who originally heard the case basically said the law is stupid but it is not his job to change it. In effect, that seems to be what the Supreme Court said as well. I was hoping the court would force the government's hand, but it did not."

Now some supporters of marijuana law reform are preparing to fight for the decriminalization bill as an alternative, while others categorically reject it as a dangerous charade. "The Supreme Court is basically telling parliament it is up to us," said Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, head of the Senate Select Committee on Illicit Drugs, which last year called for the legalization and regulation of the herb. "Mr. Martin was quite positive in reintroducing the decrim bill this week; he reaffirmed that with minor changes he is ready to push it," Nolin told DRCNet. "I and others will try to convince parliament that prohibition is not the way to go if we want to prevent the abuse and excessive use of cannabis."

"I suspect we'll end up with a ticketing scheme that will jack up the fines," said Conroy. "But that's just not right. People shouldn't have to be submitted to that for this sort of conduct. I will focus my efforts on sentencing issues; we have to make sure there is no prison time for growing and dealing pot."

While decriminalization is not what the New Democratic Party's anti-prohibitionist wing seeks, the party's Brian Taylor told DRCNet it will be the next battleground. "The only route now is the political route," said Taylor. "We have to influence the politicians. A bad decriminalization bill would put discretionary power in the hands of police, and they could become addicted to the additional revenue -- as they always do," he said.

David Malmo-Levine wants nothing to do with decriminalization. "Decrim is worse than doing nothing at all," said the long-time Vancouver pot activist. "Hell, Singapore has decrim. You don't get a criminal record there; you just get 'behavior modification.' Some of the politicians now are talking about similar things: forced treatment for repeat offenders, mandatory minimums for growers. There would be hundreds of thousands of Canadians going to jail," he hissed. "This sort of decriminalization must be fought tooth and nail; we will not tolerate a decriminalization that has punishments. Zero punishment for zero harm," Malmo-Levine insisted.

Malmo-Levine is not alone. While "responsible" activists may seek to craft a least bad decrim bill, much of the Canadian pot-smoking rank-and-file continue to insist on nothing less than legalization. "This is just a scam for the cops to make money, and they want to throw growers in jail for even longer," said one customer at the Holy Smoke Culture Center and Psychedeli in Nelson, BC, as he shared an afternoon smoke.

The ruling won kudos from the usual suspects -- and some unusual ones. The Canadian Professional Police Association applauded the move, with the group's president, Tony Cannavino, telling Canada Press that the decision was only a "first step." Liberalizing the marijuana laws, he said, sends the wrong message about a "harmful drug."

But according to Brian Taylor, commercial growers he spoke with were also applauding the ruling. "This is a Christmas present to the black market," he said. "The growers are saying 'right on.' They said that the market was depressed, but between this ruling and a series of RCMP raids, that should push prices up and stabilize the industry."

"Those growers are idiots," retorted Malmo-Levine. "They're going to have a drug war nightmare if they don't watch out. Mandatory minimums will mean that people like them will go to prison. They think they can't make any money in a legal market, but that's a short-sighted attitude. Just look at all those poor, starving growers in Holland," he scoffed. "No, we'll do better than Starbucks with a legal pot market, and I'd love to see that. There's nothing the straights and the war machine hate more than a hippie with a fad wad of cash."

The Vancouver activist told DRCNet he is pondering direct actions to agitate against pot prohibition. "I'm thinking about dealing openly for an hour or two on the weekends, letting the police come, but then having the customers defend the dealer from the police," he said. The customers would hold onto the dealer. The pot sales would become a political protest against the pot-dealing laws. If the police wanted to arrest one dealer, they would have to arrest 30 customers for obstructing justice," he thought out loud. "I want to send a message through our actions that this is not over. I'm thinking of calling it 'Ounces of Prevention,'" he laughed.

It's back to parliament for marijuana reform in Canada. And while activists differ on the proper approach, they were unanimous in saying that instead of being deflated by the decision, it is a signal that they need to fight even harder.

Visit http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/ and type in "Malmo-Levine," "Clay," or "Caine" in the "search all judgments" box to read the decision online. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/canada/ for further information and links.

In our Canada update last Tuesday, we inadvertently mixed up the names of the past prime minister, Jean Chretien, and the new one, Paul Martin. Apologies go to our Canadian friends, and thanks to those of you who pointed out the error to us. Please be assured that we did indeed know which was which; this was a typo caused by haste only.


3. The New Jersey Weedman is Back! Forchion Announces House Bid Before Arrest at Liberty Bell Pot-Smoking Religious Demo

Ed Forchion, also known as the NJ Weedman (http://www.njweedman.com), just got off parole, and he's ready to roll. Forchion endured 20 months in prison for marijuana trafficking and another six as a parole violator when New Jersey parole authorities jailed him for trying to run TV ads advocating marijuana legalization. He was only freed when a federal judge forced the state to recognize his First Amendment rights.

A little more than two weeks after his parole ended -- bad weather forced a delay from the original December 6 date -- Forchion declared his candidacy for the US House at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia in front of about 50 supporters and a couple of dozen cops. Running as the candidate of the US Marijuana Party (http://www.usmjparty.org), Forchion offered up a prayer for the nearly 700,000 marijuana offenders arrested each year and the thousands of more jailed for other drug crimes, then fired up a joint with comrade in arms Patrick Duff. They didn't get to finish -- 17 US Park Service rangers promptly swept in and detained them -- but they got what they wanted: An arrest that will serve as the basis for a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim that their Liberty Bell pot-puffing is protected as religious expression under federal law.

There is legal precedent for such a claim. In May 2002, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the RFRA precluded the US government from prosecuting people who possess marijuana on federal lands for religious reasons. Unfortunately for the plaintiff in that case, Bennie Toves Guerrero, who was caught carrying five ounces into Guam, the court also found that the RFRA didn't block him from being prosecuted for importing marijuana.

 
Forchion's cable ad was censored by Comcast.

"I've gone through a lot at the hands of the drug warriors," said Forchion, "and I'm making a statement to let them know I'm back in a big way." In addition to running for the House and plotting the RFRA case, Forchion has also filed a suit in New Jersey challenging the state's new prisoner and parolee DNA testing law and his suit against cable TV giant Comcast for refusing to air his marijuana ads is pending. (See the Comcast newsbrief this issue for a similar episode.)

And it all ties together, Forchion told DRCNet. "I'm running for the House to expose the issue," he said, "but by doing so, I will be able to make Comcast run my ads. They will be political campaign ads now. In fact, I'm going to being submitting the same ads, except at the end they will say 'paid for by the US Marijuana Party.' What Comcast is doing is outrageous. The largest cable provider in the country has decided what political viewpoints are acceptable."

Forchion, who for years has headed his own Legalize Marijuana Party, is ready to be part of something bigger, he said. "I've been a one-man gang for the last few year," said the Weedman, "and I have no problem becoming part of something. My ego is not that big, and I've found that people find it difficult to latch onto the Weedman. Maybe I'll be more effective as part of a group." With chapters in 25 states, the US Marijuana Party is a group that fit the bill.

As for the RFRA challenge, said Forchion, "You can't challenge a law unless you have standing. By going to the Liberty Bell, which is federal property, and holding a prayer service, a non-denominational religious service and smoking marijuana as part of it and being ticketed, I now have standing. I will challenge the constitutionality of my arrest on the basis that I was exercising my religious freedom as guaranteed by the RFRA," he said. "They'll find me guilty, but it should be thrown out. I'm not trying to make the Liberty Bell a smoke-in place," he laughed, "but you can be sure if we get a favorable ruling, there will be people there doing just that. They're already talking about it."

He will be represented by prominent Philadelphia civil liberties attorney Michael Coard, he said. He and Coard will also be in contact with the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, which was involved in the ground-breaking Guam case. "I hope we can at least get them to submit an amicus brief," he said.

He and Duff were not mistreated by the Park rangers, Forchion said, although he noted that he was strip-searched while Duff, who is white, was not. The Weedman was threatened with another arrest when, as part of the strip-search, he removed his jacket and shirt to reveal a t-shirt picturing a large, extended middle finger. "They threatened to arrest me for obscenity," he snorted, "but I said no, it's political expression and it represents my displeasure at government actions, specifically the war on drugs." Forchion emphasized his feelings by giving the officers a live two-handed demonstration of the one-finger salute to the cheers and laughter of videotaping onlookers.

Forchion, a resident of Browns Mills, NJ, is running in that state's Third Congressional District against incumbent Republican Jim Saxton. The district includes Burlington and Ocean counties and some Camden County neighborhoods. Pat Duff, 27, a former radio personality and self-described "renegade car salesman" arrested along with Forchion, will run as the US Marijuana Party candidate for Philadelphia City Council.

"I just can't go back to being incog-negro," said the Rastafarian former truck driver. "This prohibition is wrong!"

Welcome back, Weedman.


4. Newsbrief: The Complete List of President Bush's Drug War Prisoner Pardons

American presidents have traditionally used the Christmas holiday season to hand out the gift of freedom to a few unfortunates locked up behind bars. The presidential power to grant pardons is unfettered, despite cries of special favors directed at President Clinton for his pardons of a handful of well-connected non-drug offenders. Clinton also used his pardon power to free some drug offenders, and previous presidents have used the power to free other convicted criminals.

George Bush pardons turkeys but not humans
According to a Christmas Eve report in the Wall Street Journal, Bush had issued only 11 pardons as of September 30, leaving him ahead of only Presidents William Henry Harrison and James Garfield, both of whom died shortly after taking office. At the same points in their presidencies, other recent presidents were far ahead of Bush's pace: Clinton had issued 56 pardons; Bush, Sr., 39; Reagan, 181; Carter, 319; Ford, 404; Nixon; 522; Johnson, 925; Kennedy, 391; and way back at the beginning of the modern drug war era, Eisenhower, 132.

Bush's pardons have been for "very safe cases," the Journal reported, including a man who got probation in 1962 for making moonshine, a minister sentenced to two years in 1957 for not reporting for his military induction, and a 1971 case where a postal worker served one year for stealing $10.90 from the mail. Bush was also stingy with pardons as governor: He pardoned fewer people than any Texas governor since the 1940s. But one of those he did pardon, an unpaid constable convicted on a marijuana charge, went on to get caught stealing cocaine in a drug raid.

Bush apparently cannot get over the errant constable. He pardons two turkeys every Thanksgiving (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/313/turkeys.shtml), but is content to let hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders continue to rot in prison. The complete list of the Bush drug prisoner pardons follows:

...

The end. That's right: Nobody. Merry Christmas, Mr. President.


5. Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part I -- "B-1 Bob" Dornan to Challenge Rohrabacher in House Race, Attacks Medical Marijuana

Former Republican congressman Robert "B-1 Bob" Dornan has announced he will challenge incumbent Rep. Dana Rorabacher for the right to be the Republican nominee for his Orange County, California, House seat. Dornan, who served for nine terms before being defeated by Democrat Loretta Sanchez in 1996, has never accepted that defeat and is trying once again to win public office.

During his time in Congress, Dornan developed a well-earned reputation as a man of the far conservative right. A fervent anti-communist, he never met a military procurement bill he didn't like or a liberal issue he did. The slogan prominently displayed on his campaign web site is "Fighting for Faith, Family, and Freedom 2004." Dornan is a particularly loud-mouthed and belligerent politician. He sucker-punched Democratic Congressman Tim Downey on the House floor in 1992 and famously referred to women critics as "lesbian spearchuckers."

In his first broadside against Rohrabacher, Dornan targeted him for supporting medical marijuana. Although a conservative Republican -- not as conservative as Dornan, but then again, who is? -- Rohrabacher is an active cosponsor of the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act (H.R. 2233), introduced each session by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and also cosponsored the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment that would have barred the use of federal funds for raids on medical marijuana patients and the Truth in Trials Medical Marijuana Act, H.R. 1717. But equally bad in Dornan's eyes were some off-the-cuff Rohrabacher comments from seven years ago.

"Anybody who wants to legalize marijuana or any other illegal substance is the enemy of this country," Dornan told the Orange County Register. "This is all a bogus smokescreen for the legalization of recreational use of mind-altering chemical substances."

Dornan's son, Mark, joined the attack with an op-ed in the Register. Criticizing the newspaper for saying there was little ideological difference between Rohrabacher and Dornan, the younger Dornan could find some: "For instance, illegal drugs. While Bob Dornan was landing in Burma with DEA agents in support of opium-eradication efforts and accompanying our California National Guard on nighttime drug-interdiction flights along our porous borders, where was Rohrabacher?," asked junior. "On a national ABC talk show, proudly proclaiming, 'I did everything but drink the bong water.' (Isn't that cool, boys and girls?) Rohrabacher also cosponsored H.R. 2233 to legalize marijuana. That's not exactly part of Republican ideology. Many of us are frustrated with the inconsistent success of the drug war, but Rohrabacher wants to run up the white flag."

[Editor's Note: Rohrabacher in fact uttered those words on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" -- in 1996. Also, H.R. 2233 does not "legalize marijuana." It allows for the use of medical marijuana in states that have approved it.]

Rohrabacher blamed youthful indiscretion for his own drug use. "I have not touched any illegal drug since I was 23, and I don't intend to detail for anybody the mistakes of my youth," he told the Register. "I have never pretended to have lived a puritanical life. When I was younger, I did some pretty wild things, and I have no apologies for anything I've done... But when you grow up, you become more responsible."

And he drew a distinction between medical marijuana and just plain old marijuana. "I do believe that marijuana is a threat and is harmful," Rohrabacher said. "But that doesn't mean that if someone is sick and it will help their appetite, we should arrest them. I'm not for changing federal laws, but if the states want it, they should be allowed to proceed."

Despite Mark Dornan's effort to find differences between his father and Rohrabacher, the differences are few. Rohrabacher, too, is a conservative. As his web site notes, he took time off from crafting anti-illegal immigrant measures and trying to get special awards for reporters embedded with US troops in Iraq to accept the "True Blue" award from the Family Research Council, a "traditional family values" organization that supports abstinence and opposes abortion and the estate tax.


6. Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part II -- Arch-Drug Warrior McCollum Seeks Florida GOP Senate Nod

Former Congressman Bill McCollum (R-FL), who as head of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime played a key role in much of the repressive anti-drug legislation to pass in the last 15 years, is seeking to return to Capitol Hill, this time as a senator. McCollum gave up his House seat in 2000 to run for the Senate only to be defeated by Democrat Bill Nelson, and then was passed over in his bid to be named drug czar for the new Bush administration. Since then, he has licked his wounds as a Washington lobbyist.

Now, he wants back in the game. But while he is well-positioned in early polls, there is a problem: President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have anointed Mel Martinez as their pick for the position. Martinez, who served under Gov. Bush before serving as housing secretary under President Bush, resigned that position earlier this month to engage full-time in the Senate run. And if that wasn't enough, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who gained notoriety for her role in the Florida presidential election crisis, is also running and running well.

While neither Martinez nor Harris have ever given any indication of being anything other than ardent prohibitionists, they have a long way to go to match McCollum's record. He advocated tougher sentencing policies, then authored legislation allowing federal prison labor to compete against private companies. He was a congressional stalwart for Plan Columbia, embracing any and all escalations, including the use of the fusarium fungus in coca eradication. He also supported funding for research on an anti-marijuana fungus, and played a key -- if ultimately unsuccessful -- role in pushing for the censorship of anti-drug war views in a 1999 methamphetamine bill. He was also author of a House resolution condemning medical marijuana as a hoax, an act that resulted in a visit to his office from Multiple Sclerosis patient Renee Emry Wolf. Wolf lit up in his office and was subsequently convicted of marijuana possession.

But McCollum's has been condemned not only by drug reformers but by privacy advocates as well. He was winner of the Orwell Award at the 1999 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in Washington, DC. That dishonor goes to the person who has most promoted Big Brotherism. McCollum scored the award for his efforts to give the FBI expanded wire-tapping capabilities and the ability to read encrypted emails.


7. Newsbrief: Prohibition-Terror Link?

The US Navy seized three vessels carrying drugs in the Persian Gulf in the last two weeks, and those seizures could provide the first concrete evidence that drug prohibition is helping to fund Al Qaeda. Two of the small wooden ships, known as dhows, were seized Saturday, with Navy personnel finding 130 pounds of methamphetamine on one and 75 pounds of heroin on the other. Five days earlier, a naval vessel intercepted another dhow, this one carrying nearly two tons of hashish.

According to unconfirmed reports from the US military, some of the crewmen on the boats could have connections to Al Qaeda. "We are investigating potential Al-Qaeda connections to these operations," Rear-Admiral Jim Stavridis, commander of the Enterprise aircraft carrier strike group, said in a brief statement. The seizures are "indicative of the need for continuing maritime patrol of the Gulf in order to stop the movement of terrorists, drugs and weapons."

"An initial investigation uncovered clear ties between the smuggling operation and Al-Qaeda," US Central Command said Monday in a statement from its Florida headquarters. It refused to provide any information to back up that claim.

Drug warriors in the US have been eager to link the tired and tarnished drug war with the shiny new "war on terror," and they are certain to leap on this alleged connection as further proof that, as one of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's widely ridiculed ads put it, drug users support terrorism. "Where do terrorists get their money?" one ad asked viewers. "If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you."

But according to James Gurule, a former US Treasury Department official involved in tracking terrorist finances, Al-Qaeda would find drug smuggling attractive "because of the huge profit margins involved. I wouldn't be surprised at all," he told the AP. Those profits, it should be noted, are a function of the black market created by global drug prohibition.

Maybe we need some new ads. How about: "Where do terrorists get their money? If you support drug prohibition, you're supporting terrorists."


8. Newsbrief: Cable Giant Censors Medical Marijuana Issue Ads in New Hampshire

Cable television giant Comcast Cable is refusing to run ads from Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (http://www.granitestaters.com), a grassroots group of patients and activists seeking to raise the profile of medical marijuana as a campaign issue. Granite Staters sought last month to buy airtime to run the ads, but was informed on December 1 that Comcast would not run them.

According to Granite Staters, a Comcast official told the group's Aaron Houston that it would not run the ads "based on its message about medical marijuana." A written explanation would be forthcoming, the official said. Two weeks later, when Houston called to inquire, the same Comcast official told him Comcast's legal department "doesn't issue written explanations."

"They denied us based solely on who we are," Houston said. "Comcast Cable is infringing on our right to speak to 21 million subscribers, even though 84% of likely voters in the upcoming election agree with our point of view. We think voters who have a vital role in picking the Democratic Party's nominee believe this is a serious and relevant issue."

It's not that Comcast shies away from drug-related ads; it's just that it seems to want to publicize only one side of the issue. Two months ago, it announced a three-year advertising pledge, valued at $50 million, allowing the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to increase exposure for anti-drug advertising on Comcast's cable systems in 35 states. The deal constituted "the largest single upfront commitment of advertising from a major media company to The Partnership in the organization's history," according to a PDFA news release. While anti-drug advertising to persuade is not automatically incompatible with medical marijuana or even broader drug policy reform, the PDFA is an organization with a known ideological bent, and some of their commercials are believed by reformers to be designed to fuel pro-drug war sentiments.

"Comcast pledged $50 million dollars to the war on drugs, yet they have censored us from raising a critical question about this policy," Houston said. "If we're going to have a drug war, can we at least take sick and dying people off the battlefield?"

This isn't the first time Comcast has censored what it considers to be "pro-drug" views. In the summer of 2002, Comcast first signed, then tore up, a contract to broadcast political issue ads by marijuana activist Ed Forchion, also known as the NJ Weedman (http://www.njweedman.com). Comcast dumped the ads and told the media Forchion was advocating the illegal use of drugs. In an interview with Preston Peet's Drug War news web site (http://www.drugwar.com/pweedmanarrested.shtm), at time of Forchion's arrest for parole violation last August, Comcast's vice-president of corporate communications told Peet the cable giant did run commercials by drug prohibition outfits, such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, but that it would not run Forchion's ads because they "promote the use of habit forming drugs or drug paraphernalia." Because of publicity generated by Comcast's decision, Forchion was illegally imprisoned as a parole violator by New Jersey officials for six months until a federal judge ordered him released.


9. Newsbrief: Todd McCormick Released from Federal Prison

One of America's most well-known drug war hostages walked out of federal prison in Southern California on December 10. Todd McCormick had served nearly four years for his role in an early post-Proposition 215 medical marijuana grow operation in Los Angeles. Other players in that operation included libertarian author Peter McWilliams, who financed the grow and who died choking on his own vomit in 2000 after a federal judge denied him the right to use medical marijuana while out on bail. Also involved was Renee Boje, who fled to Canada rather than face ten years in prison for tending the plants. Boje remains in Canada, where she fights for political refugee status.

McCormick and McWilliams pled guilty in November 1999 after the trial judge denied them the right to use a medical marijuana defense against federal cultivation and trafficking conspiracy charges. Six months later, McWilliams was dead, Boje was safe in Canada, and McCormick was serving his sentence.

While McCormick, who is afflicted with severe medical conditions eased by medical marijuana and who has authored a book on growing medi-pot, is out of prison, he is not quite a free man just yet. He currently resides in a Los Angeles area halfway house, where he must stay until his sentence expires on May 19. In the meantime, he is beginning work on a pair of projects, he told supporters in an e-mail message. One is creating AHEMP -- Artists Helping End Marijuana Prohibition -- a project he began before losing his freedom -- while the other is a book based on his recent experiences, working title "How to Navigate Federal Prison."

McCormick's return to the Southern California medical marijuana scene is likely to add to old tensions over the case that were recently reignited when Scott Imler, head of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, was sentenced to probation for his federal medical marijuana offense. Imler received probation, in part because prosecutors credited him with testifying against McCormick and McWilliams in their case. Imler has long been an advocate of a strict, by-the-numbers approach to medical marijuana and was critical of the McCormick-McWilliams camp's mixing of the hemp, marijuana and medical marijuana issues and the large size (4,000 plants) of the garden busted at McWilliams' Bel Air property. Imler has also noted that he and other LACRC members were forced to testify against McCormick and McWilliams under federal subpoenas granting them limited immunity against self-incrimination. McCormick has indicated he will address the topic in the near future.

McCormick added that he is out of touch after his stint in the land of the living dead. Anyone who wants to renew contact can reach him at [email protected].


10. Newsbrief: Why Don't People Seek Treatment?

Drug and alcohol abusers are not seeking treatment because of the inability to stop using drugs, the cost of treatment, and the associated stigma, the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly reported late last month, citing a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to that study, some 23 million people meet diagnostic criteria for drug or alcohol dependence, but are not getting treatment.

But a closer look at the study shows that the vast majority of people diagnosed as needing treatment under SAMSHA criteria disagreed with that diagnosis. The study found 7.7 million people it said needed treatment for drug abuse or dependence, but only 6% of those people thought they needed it. The study found 17 million people it said were in need of alcohol treatment, but only 4.5% of those agreed. It was that small percentage who formed the basis for the study's conclusions.

The problem lies with SAMHSA's reliance on the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which includes not only such non-controversial symptoms as withdrawal and the inability to stop using, but also problems with the law -- a function not of the properties of any particular drug, but of that drug's prohibited status. Thus, for example, people who continue to smoke marijuana after having been arrested or otherwise hassled for it need treatment, or so the argument goes.

According to SAMHSA, last year about 18% (1.4 million) of those it identified as needing drug treatment received it. That number is three times as high as the number of drug users who thought they needed treatment. Some drug users, of course, are in denial about the seriousness of their substance abuse problems. But in other cases, it may be some policymakers, analysts, judges and treatment providers who are in denial about the lack of need or the overabundance of coerced drug treatment commitments.

Visit http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/2k3/SAnoTX/SAnoTX.htm to read "Reasons for Not Receiving Substance Abuse Treatment" online.


11. Popular Television News and Drama Programs to Discuss Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in January

According to a bulletin distributed by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the CBS 60 Minutes news magazine and the NBC drama The West Wing will highlight mandatory minimum sentencing laws as well as FAMM itself:

On January 4, 60 Minutes will air Ed Bradley’s investigation of recent attacks on judicial discretion and the effects of mandatory sentencing. FAMM member Brenda Valencia, who served a 10-year federal mandatory minimum sentence, and Eric Sterling, FAMM board member (and DRCNet advisory board member, were interviewed for it.

On January 14, in an episode of The West Wing, President Bartlett will consider, just before the State of the Union address, whether to veto a popular bill that happens to contain an amendment limiting judicial discretion, as well as whether to commute the sentences of certain drug offenders. Reportedly, there is a scene in which Bartlett speaks with FAMM's president -- though the fictional FAMM president, unlike Julie Stewart, is a man.

Visit http://www.famm.org for further information.


12. BUSTED: New and Improved Video Offer from DRCNet

Over 300 DRCNet members have ordered VSH copies of the new Flex Your Rights film "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters." BUSTED is hot! We are pleased to announce that DRCNet now has a new and improved version of our BUSTED membership offer to those of you who have already ordered a copy, or who order two or more now: We will send you your second, third or further copies of BUSTED free with a donation of $25 or more -- a perfect gift for your friends, family members, or school or public library! That means $35 or more for your first copy, $25 or more for your second (or $60 or more for your first two, if you haven't ordered already), $85 or more for your first three or $50 or more for your second and third, etc. Also, BUSTED will soon be coming out in DVD (though we don't have an exact date yet), and we are willing to hold your orders for DVD copies if you request it.

Just visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ and make a contribution in an appropriate amount by credit card -- or by US mail to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036 -- and let us know in the comment box or in a written note that you would like to take advantage of the new BUSTED repeat order offer. Also, if you really want BUSTED, but really, really can't afford it, write to us and let us know what you can afford or can scrape up, and we'll see what we can do. Also, add $5 to your donation, and in addition to BUSTED, we'll also send you a copy of the new "A Drug War Carol" anti-drug war comic -- send $15 or more for a free copy of A Drug War Carol only.

Your donation will also help DRCNet (and Flex Your Rights) navigate the troubled waters of our nation's struggling economy. The drug reform movement is in a financial crisis of greater proportions than we have seen in our nearly ten year history -- which means that members and readers like yourself are more important to drug policy reform than ever before -- we need your help! So please visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to make a generous donation today! And please contact us for instructions if you'd like to make a contribution of stock.

Note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. Contributions to the DRCNet Foundation are tax-deductible as provided by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; requesting copies of BUSTED will reduce the portion of your gift that is deductible by $20 each.

Thank you for your interest and support.


13. 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ 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 http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov 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:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/
http://stopthedrugwar.org/justice/
http://stopthedrugwar.org/stopthehelicopters/
http://www.raiseyourvoice.com
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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ 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.


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

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

Please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/perryfund/ 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 http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/perryfund/ for information and to apply, or to contact DRCNet at (202) 362-0030. Thank you for spreading the word.


15. The Reformer's Calendar

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

January 7-10, 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 http://nh2004.ssdp.org for further information.

January 17, 3:00pm, Sacramento, CA, Medical Marijuana Seminar. At the Actors Workshop Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Blvd., free, contact (707) 275-8879, (916) 806-2314, or [email protected], or visit http://www.eddysmedicinalgardens.com for further information.

January 21, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Got Rights? Drugs, Security, and the Future of Freedom in America." Forum at the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter St., call (415) 921-4987 or visit http://www.drugpolicy.org for further information.

January 24, 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, 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, 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, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!", March on Washington and Chronic Pain Patients Leadership Summit. For further information, visit http://www.PainReliefNetwork.org 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 http://www.ihra.net or e-mail [email protected] for information.

April 22-24, Washington, DC, NORML conference, details pending, visit http://www.norml.org for updates.

May 18-19, New York, NY, "Break the Cycle: Tear Down the New Slave Industry -- Criminal Injustice." Conference at Manhattan Community College/CUNY, 199 Chambers St., for further info contact Johanna DuBose at (212) 481-4313 or [email protected], or Victor Ray or Umme Hena at the BMCC Student Government Association, (212) 406-3980.

May 20-22, Charlottesville, VA, Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. At the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com for further information.

September 18, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 15th Annual Freedom Rally, visit http://www.masscann.org for further information.

November 11-14, New Orleans, LA, "Working Under Fire: Drug User Health and Justice 2004," 5th National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, at the New Orleans Astor Crowne Plaza, contact Paula Santiago at (212) 213-6376 x15 or visit http://www.harmreduction.org/conference/5thnatlconf.pdf for further information.


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

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