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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #319, 1/9/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Taking Drug Policy to the Presidential Candidates: SSDP Goes to New Hampshire
  2. Battle of Christiania Flares as Hash-Seller Burn Own Stands
  3. Major New Reform Coalition Forming in Maryland -- Will Call for Treatment, Not Incarceration
  4. DRCNet Interview: Loretta Nall, President, US Marijuana Party
  5. Newsbrief: Principal in South Carolina Drug Raid Resigns
  6. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch: Gephardt On Crank
  7. Newsbrief: Chicago Suburb Seeks to Ban Glow Sticks from All-Ages Clubs
  8. Newsbrief: Secret Courts, and Not Just for Terrorism Suspects
  9. Newsbrief: Ad Execs Charged With Ripping Off Drug Czar's Ad Campaign
  10. Kentucky Cop Kills Drug Suspect with Three Shots to the Back
  11. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime
  12. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  13. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Taking Drug Policy to the Presidential Candidates: SSDP Goes to New Hampshire

More than 150 student drug policy activists made the arduous trek to wintry New Hampshire this week as Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org) combined its annual convention with some presidential politicking. With the New Hampshire primary, the first in the nation, barely two weeks away, the fast-growing nationwide student group is taking full advantage of proximity to the candidates to press home its issues.

Foremost among them is the repeal of the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision. Enacted in 1998 at the behest of arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), the provision bars students with drug convictions, no matter how minor, from receiving federal financial assistance to attend college for varying periods of time.

The SSDP national convention coincides with the national College Convention 2004 (http://www.nec.edu/cc2k4/), an agglomeration of student activists of various stripes who have also seen the political wisdom of going where the candidates are. And the candidates are appearing at the convention. While the College Convention has drawn hundreds, SSDP is by far the largest single contingent, said SSDP legislative director Ross Wilson.

"SSDP has a huge presence here," said Wilson, who reported by phone from Manchester on Thursday's busy schedule of meeting and asking questions of the candidates. "The candidates probably talked more about drug policy than not because we were here," he said, adding that the drug policy reform bloc was also bolstered by the presence of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (http://www.leap.cc), whose Jack Cole had a featured speaking slot on the College Convention's own schedule, by Vote Hemp (http://www.votehemp.com), Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (http://www.granitestaters.com) and other organizations.

What follows below is Wilson's account of Thursday's candidate encounters:

  • Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich: "We asked him about the drug war, and he expressed his opposition to it and how it has been waged and said we had to reexamine the way we dealt with drugs. He also said he favored marijuana decriminalization. He also showed up at the last minute at a dinner we had; he popped in and talked to us for about 15 minutes. He thanked us for our support, and supported our HEA repeal efforts. He's our champion among the candidates."
  • Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun: "We asked her about HEA, which she didn't totally understand, but she did express her concern about filling the prisons with nonviolent offenders. But later, as she was walking out, I asked her again about HEA. This time, she said she thought it was a terrible law and she was against it. That is a firm affirmation that she is for repeal."
  • Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry: "SSDP board member Ian Mance asked him about HEA, and Kerry didn't seem totally familiar with the issue. He asked if it applied to both possession and distribution and when told yes, said he would favor repeal only for possession. He wanted to remain tough on drug dealers, he said. I caught up with him later and asked if he really wanted to punish people by withholding student loans after they had already been punished and when judges already had the option of doing so if they wanted. Was he against judicial discretion? He didn't really answer that except to say that in general judges should have discretion."
  • Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman: "He called on me, and I asked him about the drug provision and what he would do to work for repeal. He hemmed and hawed a little and asked me to repeat what the provision does, then he said he didn't think we should be punishing people who have paid their debt to society. He ended saying he would give a tentative yes to repeal, he would support it. He is perhaps the most conservative of the candidates, so that was a big surprise."
Question and answer sessions with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, retired general Wesley Clark, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards are set for Friday, Wilson said.

It wasn't all presidential candidates, he noted. "There was a group we had never heard of, Students Taking Action Against Drugs (STAND), and they had a panel. We sent some students to check it out and ask questions and point out flaws. We just slaughtered them," Wilson chortled. "They couldn't address our points, they couldn't defend their point of view. They were flustered, and later on, they came out and asked us for more information. We ended up giving them copies of 'Drug War Facts' (http://www.drugwarfacts.org)."

[STAND appears to a project of media educator Renee Hobbs (http://www.reneehobbs.org), who served as a consultant to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration. According to Hobbs' web site, STAND "invites young people to use the power of mass media to design, create and deliver meaningful messages to help other teens resist drug use."]

"Their brochures were slick, but the STAND kids weren't," said Wilson.

And then there was Bill Bennett, the former drug czar and self-appointed moralizer for the nation, whose halo of virtue was tarnished recently by his admission under pressure that he has a big-time gambling jones. To greet Bennett, an early advocate of drug testing and "zero tolerance" for student drug use, SSDP demonstrators met him with urine sample cups and fliers detailing his career of atrocities. The great moralizer did not respond to the urine sample challenge.

And last but not least, said Wilson, SSDP media director Melissa Milam and Caton Volk from Chicago are working on a documentary to be shown on MTV's "Choose or Lose" get out the vote campaign. "They've been filming all the interactions with the candidates, the meeting with STAND, everything," said Wilson. Freelance journalist Dan Forbes, a notable on the drug policy beat, is also in attendance.

SSDP will remain in New Hampshire through Saturday, with the organization holding elections for a new board of directors Thursday evening, and other business to attend to. Stay tuned for a follow-up report next week on the rest of the convention.


2. Battle of Christiania Flares as Hash-Seller Burn Own Stands

The hash sellers of Denmark's famed Christiania Freetown dramatically burned their own stands on the community's Pusher Street Sunday afternoon. The self-immolating move came in response to increasing pressure from the Danish government to crack down on soft drug sales in the enclave, which has been an autonomous, self-governing community since hippies swarmed into an abandoned military base in downtown Copenhagen in 1971.

"The stalls with open hash-trade, which have caused one of the main conflicts between the free-state Christiania and the Danish government, have now been removed by the pushers themselves," said Christiania spokesperson Pernille Hansen in a statement Sunday. "The trade is now as visible, as anywhere else in the world, in street, parks and apartments where hash-trade is taking place. The only point where there will be no normalization is the continuing successful ban on hard drugs."

"What's happening in Christiania is that the people working in the open air market for cannabis in the middle of Christiania voluntarily demolished their improvised shops and redrew to the cafés and other places where they are expected to continue selling," said Hansen. "This is a strategic reply to the threat of the Danish government (a coalition of liberal and conservatives heavily influenced by the extreme right-wing) to use the drug issue as a justification to eradicate Christiania in order to build luxury apartments in the area. In spite of the fact that Christiania is Copenhagen's third most important tourist attraction, the government claims that the area could serve better as an object for property development. Recently, it has won a court case in the dispute, and since then, police raids against the cannabis market have been increasing."

"In Christiania, in the middle of a modern Western city, an alternative economy, society and life style has been created, which involves much more than only an alternative drug policy. It has survived several attacks from both illegal and legal interest groups, and although it has been forced to give up some of its ideals, it has also become an integrated part of the city and the region," the statement continued. "The cannabis market in Christiania is not the only provider in Denmark. As all over Europe, there are local providers everywhere. The percentage of regular cannabis consumption among the Danish population is one of the highest in Europe. What the Danish government is doing is fighting a war on drugs in the interests of big time capitalists."

Since its establishment three decades ago, Christiania has become a global counterculture icon, with its open cannabis sales, its psychedelic spirit, its radical democracy, and also for what it lacks: cars, police and government. Christiania residents banned hard drugs in 1979, and the Danish government regularized the 84-acre, 1000 strong community's status a decade later. While tensions between Christiania and the Danish state have risen and fallen over the years -- a 1976 effort to shut it down was countered by tens of thousands of anarchists from all over Europe -- the current Danish government announced last month that it could legally evict Christiania's residents, and that has raised alarms in the enclave and among its supporters worldwide.

"We don't want Pusher Street to be a lever for the government's illegal and amoral plans to close our Christiania," said the community in a statement. Police raids have been increasing in recent months, making a dent in Christiania's estimated $1.3 million in annual hash revenues and otherwise disrupting the Danish cannabis market.

But Danish police and the Liberal-Conservative government headed by Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen see no reason to let up the pressure just because the hash stands are gone. "The open sale of hashish continues and that means that we will continue as we always have done," Copenhagen police spokesman Flemming Steen told reporters Monday, promising to press the crackdown.

The latest crackdown is fully in line with the government's expressed policy since it took office in 2001, the first conservative government in Denmark in some 30 years. Prime Minister Rasmussen has promised to stop the open sales of hashish and to "normalize" the area by redeveloping it. "Any step toward legalizing Christiania is a good step," Rasmussen said in a televised interview last month.

"This is the first time the right wing has found its way to power since the 1960s," said Gert Nope of Fri Hampe (Free Hemp), a pro-cannabis Danish organization, "and they think they can make big money on redevelopment. There is also definitely a cultural element involved," he told DRCNet. "I also suspect, though I can't prove it yet, that the US government and Swedish prohibitionists are exerting some influence here now."

"All the millionaires want fine fancy apartments here, they want to park their fancy cars in front, they want to make Christiania a fashionable neighborhood," said Klaus Truxen of the Danish Hemp Party. "They don't talk about that; they talk about the drugs, but we know it will go step by step. First it's no pushers, then it's no illegal houses, then it's no Christiania. We don't trust the government," he told DRCNet.

"The Hemp Party supports Pusher Street because it is a protest against a stupid cannabis law," said Truxen. "We have members in Christiania. I use Pusher Street myself. It's a nice place to buy hash, and it is also free of hard drugs since they threw out the junkies all those years ago. The government is fucking conservative; it is run by a party of farmers," he fumed. "Christiania has always been a free town. I spent my youth here, it is a symbol of freedom, and there is much more to it than hash culture. There is theatre, culture, craftsmanship, there is free-thinking."

Christianians are plotting a survival strategy, said "mother of Christiania" Britte Lillesøe. "I've only been sleeping about three hours a night," Lillesøe told DRCNet. "We are having meetings, we will fight further, we are meeting with politicians, we will meet with the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Friday," she said. None of the people who spoke with DRCNet expect an imminent confrontation. "The government doesn't want a confrontation," said Lillesøe. "They are a law and order government; they don't want to create disorder. We are in dialogue even with the rightists. The pushers were happy to tear down their stands, because it removed this excuse."

"What I expect is the government will let the police harass the pushers every now and then, usually once or twice a month until a government deadline passes in four months," augured Nope, "then they will occupy Pusher Street with hundreds of police until the pushers surrender -- they hope -- and while they're there they can start evicting some of the inhabitants as well. There could be some Pan-European planning for this going on right now, but it will probably be some months until the shit really hits the fan."

"It may get worse," conceded Lillesøe, "but we will stay. This is so strange. We banned hard drugs here in 1979 because prohibition made the crime come in. Our solution was to throw out the dealers, but we said cannabis was okay. It's a soft drug, so you can push it if you keep the hard drugs out. And we said you can sell it only on Pusher Street. It got bigger and bigger because nothing happened elsewhere. Now the right-wing government has closed hash clubs in Copenhagen, and the customers come here. I'm just an old hippie and we're just a little tiny place that tried to set the best example for ending prohibition," she said.

"The people love that we are here," Lillesøe continued. "Black sheep of all classes unite!" she laughed. "In this old barracks ground, this former ground for war, we create a more caring, more spiritual way of thinking. We keep the good of the hippie days. We are not hard-core left-wingers, we are not reds, we are hippies. There are many old hippie pushers here," she said. "They must be crazy to try to get rid of the pushers. I don't like my friends to be criminalized."

Visit http://www.christiania.org to learn more about Christiania. Visit http://www.hampepartiet.dk for information (in Danish) about the Danish Hemp Party.


3. Major New Reform Coalition Forming in Maryland -- Will Call for Treatment, Not Incarceration

Faced with an overcrowded, expensive prison system primarily filled with black faces, in his inaugural speech a year ago this month, incoming Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich called for reforms of the state's criminal justice system. A year later, a potent new coalition has emerged to push Ehrlich, the state's first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew in the 1960s, to turn his words into deeds.

"We must work together to get nonviolent drug offenders out of jail and into treatment programs, where they belong," said Ehrlich in his speech a year ago.

The Campaign for Treatment Not Incarceration in Maryland (http://www.TreatNotJail.org) wants to do just that. "We want to pass a Prop. 36-type bill that would divert people from prison to treatment, with treatment broadly defined to include things like education and housing," said Vince Schiraldi of the Justice Policy Institute (http://www.justicepolicy.org), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research and advocacy group seeking alternatives to imprisonment. "We are also hoping to abolish mandatory minimum sentences, which are in effect for second- and third-time drug offenders in Maryland," he told DRCNet. "We also would like to see good-time credits equalized. Right now, drug offenders are treated like violent offenders when it comes to good time," Schiraldi pointed out. "Remember, Len Bias played ball here, so a lot of really dumb laws got passed after his death back in the day."

And Marylanders, especially black ones, have been paying for it ever since. In a state that is 28% black, almost 75% of prisoners are African-American. And when it comes to drug war prisoners, 90% of Maryland's are black. Drug offenders account for 24% of the state's prison population, leaving Maryland behind only New York and New Jersey when it comes to drug offenders as a percentage of the prison population, according to a Justice Policy Institute report issued in October.

"Maryland is emerging as a national leader in the dubious distinction of drug incarceration," said Schiraldi, coauthor of the report and executive director of the institute.

And that costs money. With the state budget $700 million in the red and with the state owing an additional $300 million it borrowed from the transportation fund last year, the prison budget will inevitably be closely eyed during the state legislative session beginning today.

It's not only dollars that people are concerned about. According to an October-November poll commissioned by the institute (http://www.treatnotjail.org/facts_md_poll_summary.pdf), Marylanders by a two-to-one majority (41% to 21%) said there are too many people in prison in the state, while 53% said being in prison makes it more likely that someone will commit more crimes. And a whopping 73% of those polled said drug treatment was a more effective way of dealing with drug offenders than prison. That figure stayed high across race, class, and demographic lines, with even self-described "very conservative" Marylanders supporting treatment over prison at a rate of 65%.

The research conducted and sponsored by the Justice Policy Institute has been key in the emergence of a political movement to undo the state's draconian drug laws, said Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy (http://www.csdp.org), one of the 27 state and national groups that have joined the coalition. "The JPI research on racism in the Maryland justice system and its polling on attitudes toward reform was very important in energizing people," he told DRCNet. "They got good press coverage, and getting those facts out there really made a difference in opening people's eyes," he said. "Since then, there has been a gradual process of people meeting and getting to know each other."

It has evidently worked. According to Schiraldi, the Maryland Black Legislative Caucus was "furious" over the racially disproportionate imprisonment of African-Americans and will introduce reform legislation next week on Martin Luther King Day. They will introduce a "treatment not jail" bill, he said.

A package of bills is being drafted now, said Tara Andrews of the Maryland Justice Coalition, a group formed specifically to encourage reform of the state's criminal justice system. "Each bill will reflect the goals of abolishing mandatory minimums, increasing good time for drug offenders, and there may be an omnibus bill diverting drug offenders from prison altogether and into community-based treatment," she told DRCNet. "We also anticipate the administration will introduce its own bill. If it is good enough and positive enough, we will support it," she said, "but we don't want little bitty bites. This is the time to be aggressive and do this right."

It's been a long time coming, Andrews and Schiraldi said. "Vinnie and I were both active in the Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition, and we started meeting with folks this summer to put together a push here to overcome the state's over-reliance on incarceration. After some preliminary research, it became clear that the best way to do that given the fiscal and political position of the state was to concentrate on saving the state money by reducing the prison population."

"For years, this has not been an issue that grabbed the public, and that was reflected in lethargy in the legislature," said Schiraldi. "There had not been an active community advocating for this. It was our job to rouse the people and the politicians. I think that process is off to a good start. The black caucus is energized now, and they're not fooling around," he said. "It is much harder to win reform by passing legislation than through an initiative -- you have to educate the public -- but that rough fight for public opinion has longer lasting effects than a one-time initiative campaign."

The fight for drug sentencing reform in Maryland will be an inside job, said Zeese. "The question is not will we win, but how much we will win," he said. "The governor supports treatment over incarceration, the public supports its, the black caucus is energized. This is not a time for noisy demonstrations in the street but for lobbying in the corridors of power."


4. DRCNet Interview: Loretta Nall, President, US Marijuana Party

Self-described "Alabama housewife" Loretta Nall has become one of the brightest new stars in the drug reform firmament. Inspired by a visit from drug-hunting police at her home a year-and-a-half ago, Nall has embraced activism with a vengeance. Founder of the US Marijuana Party (http://www.usmjparty.org) and host of Canada's Pot-TV (http://www.pot-tv.net) Internet marijuana legalization program, Nall addressed the Drug Policy Alliance conference in New Jersey in November, then spent time in Goose Creek, South Carolina, home of the notorious Stratford High School police raid, as she made her way home to Alabama. Nall's most recent journey was to Austin, Texas, to interview Democratic presidential nomination candidate Dennis Kucinich. DRCNet spoke with Nall from her home on Wednesday.

Drug War Chronicle: What inspired you to become an activist?

Loretta Nall: Although I've smoked pot off and on since I was 12, I had never grown or sold it or been arrested. Then, last September, I was sitting at my computer and heard a helicopter overhead. I wasn't worried -- I wasn't growing or anything -- but it circled the house for about an hour, so I grabbed my video camera and started taping. As soon as I got back inside the house, four big black Dodge wagons pulled into the yard, and about 15 or 20 heavily-armed undercover cops came piling out. I ran out and said, "What the hell is going on?" One of the cops flashed a badge and said the helicopter pilot thought he saw some pot. He asked if they could look around, and I asked if they had a warrant. He said no, and I said, "Well, you can look, but let me get my camera to film you doing this warrantless search." I went inside to get the camera, and by the time I got back outside they were all hauling ass in a cloud of dust.

There was no pot found, no charges, but that incident shook me. The cops didn't know who I was; they could just target anybody. I'm a libertarian, and I feel like I own my 2.15 acres from the ground up. I had just found the Cannabis Culture web site (http://cannabisculture.com) and was learning about Marc Emery's British Columbia Marijuana Party (http://www.bcmarijuanaparty.ca), so I decided to start an Alabama branch of the BCMP. A month later, I wrote a letter to the Birmingham News calling on citizens to stand up and fight to change the marijuana laws. Six days after that, there were 20 cops all over my property. This time they had a warrant -- based on my letter to the editor and an alleged statement from my daughter to her teacher that we had green plants hanging in our house. The cops either found or brought with them 87/100 of a gram. They locked me up for nine hours, and the case has dragged on since then. I go back to court next month. My lawyers tell me I will be convicted at the district level, but I will be able to appeal to the circuit court and get a jury trial. Alabama doesn't do jury trials at the district level. If I can get a jury trial, I'm confident I will win.

So why did I get active? Well, they started it! I had wanted to be active in the cause, but fear held me back, as I'm sure it does millions of others. If they hadn't come and messed with me, I'd probably still be back in the closet. Now I've decided to play their game, but not necessarily by their rules. They don't like me very much here now, but with people getting their doors kicked in, getting their homes and kids taken away, I decided I had to see what I could do.

Chronicle: What is the US Marijuana Party? What does it want? What will it do?

Nall: We are a grassroots organization of regular people all across the country. We're sick and tired of being persecuted and hunted and locked in jail; a lot of us have tasted the jackboot up close and personal. We want to see all criminal penalties for adult marijuana use removed, criminal records expunged, the ability to buy, grow, and sell without prosecution, and the government out of our bladders. We will run for office at every level of state, local, and national government. We don't really expect to win on a one-plank platform, but to put the issue in the public spotlight. We aim to shave a few votes from Democrats and Republicans here and there until some of them begin to realize that there are 90 million people in this country who have smoked pot. The US Marijuana Party aims to wake up those people who are running for elected office and let them know they will pay a price in votes if they continue to oppress us.

Chronicle: How many state chapters do you have now, and what do you expect from the state chapters?

Nall: We currently have chapters in 27 states, a little more than half. We've got Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman (http://www.njweedman.com) in New Jersey. If we had a guy like Ed in every state, it'd be over in no time. We'd be there... or we'd be dead. Running a state chapter is an important role. Folks in the state chapters are expected to do a lot of letter writing, to be in the public eye, to get contact info out, to organize other people, organize events and protests, do media interviews, fundraising, the whole ball of wax.

Chronicle: Why create a new organization instead of joining an existing one like NORML or the Marijuana Policy Project?

Nall: Those groups do an exceptional job of lobbying, but none of them actually runs candidates for office. We saw a niche there. By getting candidates on the ballot, we can both force other candidates to address the issue and get our message out to people who are not necessarily interested in drug reform, but who do follow the elections. The US Marijuana Party can serve as a large umbrella for anyone who wants to change the marijuana laws, and drug reform in general. We would like to see the USMJ Party become a massive voting machine. We have all of these excellent groups working various issues -- is it medical marijuana or recreational? -- and we want it legal so we don't have all these problems. If we can demonstrate support at the ballot box for changing the marijuana laws, maybe we can get somewhere.

Chronicle: You also host Pot-TV, which is funded by Canadian marijuana seed entrepreneur Marc Emery, who founded the British Columbia Marijuana Party. What's the connection?

Nall: Marc Emery and the BCMP were my political inspiration. As I said, I had just found Cannabis Culture, which Marc publishes, when I had that run-in with the police, so Marc was one of the first activists I came in contact with. He funds a great deal of what I do through Pot-TV, but the USMJ Party relies on contributions and donations from concerned Americans, as well as paying for things out of our pockets. Still, the Pot-TV money pays for my travels, and while I'm traveling I also do my USMJ Party business. I wear a lot of different hats.

Pot-TV is great! I started at the end of May. Steve and Michelle Kubby were the hosts, and when Steve got really sick, Michelle asked if I could co-host. I did four or five shows with her and got good reviews, so when they decided to move on, Marc asked me to take over. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world now. I do it from my house in Alabama, but they're upgrading the server in Vancouver and are about to start doing live broadcasts from BCMP headquarters there. We're looking at doing a cable version and some other expansions; there are investors looking at it. We're trying to take it to the next level. We don't want to be just a bunch of hippies. We want it do be like CNN in its credibility and the breadth and scope of its coverage.

Chronicle: So how has life as an activist been?

Nall: Very exciting. In the last year-and-a-half, I've spoken at events in Atlanta, Ohio, Oregon, Seattle, and, of course, at DPA in New Jersey. I went to Goose Creek twice, and that was my first really confrontational activist gig. It was frightening, very racist. I was a little bit scared. Still, I felt like I had an advantage over some other people because at least I was southern. If nothing else I informed people of their rights. The second time, I talked to Jesse Jackson a little bit, and went on my first civil rights march. And now Principal McCrackin's resigned! I was so happy you had to peel me off the ceiling. And there's a lesson there: When big shit happens, don't be afraid to go in and set up shop. Have your material ready and start talking to the first person you meet. If you can get to where something is going on and start spreading the word, that helps everybody. Those kids and parents in Goose Creek were so happy to see us; they could see they weren't alone.

Chronicle: And you met with Dennis Kucinich?

Nall: Yes, I traveled to Austin to interview him for Pot-TV. He has a very progressive drug policy platform, and his campaign has asked me to work with them on drug policy. The USMJ Party is supporting Kucinich. We will be taking out full-page ads in the major primary states in support of Kucinich and his drug policy planks. Look for ads in Boston, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware soon.

Chronicle: How does a self-described libertarian end up supporting a progressive Democrat like Kucinich?

Nall: He has a pretty good platform overall. I guess we'll have to go our separate ways on gun control.


5. Newsbrief: Principal in South Carolina Drug Raid Resigns

George McCrackin resigned Monday as principal of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina -- the school made infamous as an example of drug war excess after police raiding the school pulled guns and sicced drug dogs on cowering students during a November 5 raid. Videotapes of the raid led to national outrage after being televised.

Local reaction was equally fierce, with parents of students involved in the raid, in which no drugs or weapons were found, filing two lawsuits against the school district, the police department, and the individuals involved, including McCrackin. Goose Creek, a normally placid Charleston suburb, also became the scene of demonstrations and protests, with local residents joined at various points by "outside agitators" Loretta Nall of the US Marijuana Party (http://www.usmjparty.org -- see interview this issue) and Dan Goldman of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org), and later, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"I realize it is in the best interest of Stratford High School and of my students for me to make a change," McCrackin said in a prepared statement released Monday by Superintendent Chester Floyd.

While McCrackin has resigned as principal, he has not left employment with the school district, Floyd said. "Mr. McCrackin has been under a tremendous amount of stress related to this," said Floyd. "I didn't want to take a dedicated, loyal employee of 20 years and put him in a role that would put increased pressure on him." While Floyd is not sure just what McCrackin's new duties will be, they will be at the school district office, not another school, he said. One duty McCrackin will have is helping the district defend itself in the two lawsuits, Floyd added.

McCrackin, who was principal at Stratford for 20 years, was the only principal the school has ever had. It was his zeal to keep his school drug-free that did him in. Based on surveillance tapes from the school's multi-camera video system, McCrackin called in the cops. And while he claims -- and the claim is not contradicted -- that he didn't know the Goose Creek Police would come in like gangbusters, that wasn't enough for many of the families affected by the raid.

McCrackin called in the cops. Now the career educator gets to conclude his career trying to save his school district from having to pay for that decision.


6. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch: Gephardt On Crank

Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, saw one question on drug policy aimed at one candidate. In the nationally televised debate, broadcast on CNN, most candidates spent most of their time attacking front-runner Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, for various real or imagined sins. But sitting in the Upper Midwest, where methamphetamine has been identified as a leading drug of abuse, debate moderator Paul Anger, editor of the Des Moines Register, couldn't allow the evening to pass without at least a mention of it.

But long-time Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, at whom the question was directed, had little to say of substance, instead using the question to promote his policies on jobs, education, and mental health care. And in a sign of just how much of a hot button issue drug policy is not, no other candidate felt compelled to jump in with his or her own position.

The complete exchange follows:

Moderator Paul Anger: "To Congressman Gephardt, a slightly different health question -- drug use in America. While the war on drugs often brings to mind the effort to bring the drug trade and cocaine abuse and the cocaine trade under control, particularly in urban settings, here in Iowa and in other cities across the country the biggest drug challenge is actually crystal methamphetamine. Does current drug policy adequately address this, and how would you propose dealing with this home-grown problem, crystal meth?"

Congressman Gephardt: "Well, it's a problem not only in Iowa; it's a big problem in my state of Missouri and in a lot of other states. And it's a big problem in rural communities. So we need to have a better policy to deal with it. But I'll tell you what, I believe in trying to find the drug dealers, and trying to bring them in, and trying to go after the drugs that are coming in the United States. But in this case we're talking about a homemade drug here in communities all across the Midwest and in other parts of the country.'

"I think the ultimate answer to the drug problem lies in some other things that we are not doing well enough in this country. We've got to get people good jobs. Part of the reason people get involved in drugs is they lose hope. And my plans for building jobs I think are the best, the boldest plans out there. We need better education of our young people. We need more mental health benefits in health insurance policies so that people will not turn to drugs when they can't get the right mental help that they need from their insurance policies. These are the things we need to do to solve the problem."

The complete debate transcript is available online at:
http://desmoinesregister.com/extras/politics/caucus2004/transcript_final.html


7. Newsbrief: Chicago Suburb Seeks to Ban Glow Sticks from All-Ages Clubs

Last month, the city council in the Chicago suburb of Elgin gave preliminary approval to a local ordinance that would ban pacifiers, glow sticks, and other "drug paraphernalia" from clubs in the city that cater do an under-21 crowd. The measure must pass another vote at the council this month.

The measure is an effort to rein in Ecstasy use. The move arises out of the city's experience with The Mission, a club the city allowed to hold alcohol-free parties for 17-to-21-year-olds for a limited time last year. Patrons had to become club members to enter. Police arrested eight people for Ecstasy or look-alike drug sales during that period.

"Obviously, not everyone that has these items is on Ecstasy, but it would be helpful to keep these things out of the club," Rick Kozal, Elgin's assistant city attorney, told the council before it voted initial approval by a 5-1 margin on December 17. Glowsticks and pacifiers are drug paraphernalia, Kozal claimed.

The proposed ordinance is probably unconstitutional, Graham Boyd, head of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, told the Chicago Tribune. "It's one thing if the venue's operators decide to ban certain legal items on their own," Boyd said. "It's another thing when the government is calling for such a ban." Boyd successfully argued a suit in New Orleans overturning a judge's ruling that such items must be banned as part of a settlement in a rave club case there.

But at least one Elgin council member didn't see any government imposition. "If you want to come to the club, you have to be a member," said John Walters. "If you want to be a member, you have to agree not to bring these items to the club. If you don't want to do it, no one is going to stop you from sitting at home and waving a glow stick in front of your face."

The next vote is scheduled for January 14.


8. Newsbrief: Secret Courts, and Not Just for Terrorism Suspects

At least one US federal court, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is handling entire cases on a "secret docket" with no public record of convictions, pleas, or prison sentences. The practice was unearthed only by a combination of clerical error and lawyerly doggedness in two cases, one involving a strained alleged link to terrorism and one involving a high-level Colombian drug trafficker, and is now being challenged before both the US Supreme Court and the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

"We don't have secret justice in this country," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which has filed briefs with the two courts on behalf of more than two dozen media and legal organizations.

One case involves Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel, 34, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, who was arrested for violating his student visa in October 2001. Bellahouel was accused by the FBI of being the waiter for two of the September 11 hijackers at a restaurant in Delray Beach and possibly being seen with a third hijacker at a nearby movie theater. After his arrest, he and his case vanished into a black hole. Bellahouel was detained at the Krome detention center in Dade County until he was released on an immigration bond in March 2002, but neither his initial conviction nor his appeals appeared on any public record until he appealed to the US Supreme Court. Bellahouel had appealed to open his files to the 11th US Circuit of Appeals, but that motion was denied -- secretly.

Attorneys in that case are under a gag order and cannot comment. US Solicitor General Ted Olsen has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court defending the secrecy. It, too, is sealed. Bellahouel's case has a "terrorism" connection and thus could be defended as part of the government's informal "war on terrorism." But the same sort of secrecy has also been used in at least one drug case in the Miami federal court.

The Reporters Committee is also challenging secret court proceedings related to the conviction of Colombian drug trafficker Fabio Ochoa Vasquez. In that case, Nicolas Bergonzoli, a Colombian drug smuggler, accepted a plea bargain and was sent to prison with no public record of any court proceedings. His case, which originated with a Connecticut indictment in 1995, was transferred to Miami in 1999, when it promptly vanished from the record until Ochoa's defense attorneys dug it up four years later, as the prosecution was resting its case.

It is Ochoa's appeal of that conviction to which the Reporters Committee and a raft of other groups, including media heavyweights such as the New York Times and Washington Post, have submitted a friend of the court brief.

"In recent months, it has become evident that the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida maintains a dual, separate docket of public and non-public cases," Dalglish wrote in that brief. "A free and open society cannot tolerate hiding federal court proceedings from public view. Collectively, the repeated pattern of secrecy in the proceedings below paints a picture of a court that conducts its business with a casual disregard for the public's First Amendment right of access to criminal judicial proceedings."

The Ochoa amicus brief is available at:
http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20031223-ochoavasqu.pdf

The motion to intervene in the Bellahouel case can be found at:
http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20040102-mkbvwarden.pdf

The amicus brief filed in that case is at:
http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20031103-mkbvwarden.pdf


9. Newsbrief: Ad Execs Charged With Ripping Off Drug Czar's Ad Campaign

Since 1998, the New York advertising firm of Ogilvy & Mather has had a contract to produce anti-drug ads for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov -- the drug czar's office). The firm is responsible a series of controversial creations linking illegal drug use to everything from teen pregnancy to terrorism, and had its ONDCP contract renewed in 2002 despite having admitted to improper billing practices.

Now, the Justice Department has charged two of the Ogilvy & Mather executives involved with criminal conspiracy for over-billing the taxpayers in as part of its $684 million contact. The indictment charges Thomas Early, the agency's finance director, and Shona Seifert, who formerly managed the contract, with "an extensive scheme to defraud the United States government by falsely and fraudulently inflating the labor costs."

The pair were charged with directing employees to falsify time sheets to show they had put in more time on the project than they actually did. They were also charged with directing employees to submit false vouchers to support the inflated court costs, the indictment said.

Both Early and Seifert have maintained their innocence, as has Ogilvy & Mather. But, covering its corporate behind, the ad agency also noted in a press release that if the pair had committed any crimes, "their behavior was inconsistent with the high standards the company promotes and maintains."

Those standards rose considerably in 2000, after the General Accounting Office reported the rip-off, which had occurred in billings for the previous year. The ad agency has already paid $1.8 million to the government to settle a civil suit based on the over-billing. According to Tuesday's indictment, the criminal activity began in mid-1999, when Ogilvy executives discovered their employees were not logging enough hours on the drug czar media campaign project. Seifert allegedly ordered her subordinates to change timecards to retroactively increase hours billed to the government, while she and Early are accused of telling employees to report working a certain percentage of their time on the contract whether they had done so or not.

"It really bothers me that money that was supposed to be used to prevent drug use among our young people appears to have been misused by an ad agency, and yet this agency gets a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back, 'here's another contract,'" Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) told the Washington Post. Dorgan is one of a number of senators who had already suggested barring Ogilvy & Mather from further contracts because of its accounting misdeeds.

The indictment comes as the oft-criticized media campaign was enjoying some undeserved good news. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future report issued last month credited the media campaign for a drop in teen drug use in the last two years, although the study's lead researcher, Lloyd Johnson, would go only so far as to say it was "quite possible" the ad campaign had had its intended effect of heightened perceptions of the risks of marijuana and ecstasy.

On the other hand, teen use of Vicodin and Oxycontin are up, according to Monitoring the Future. That's some trade-off.


10. Kentucky Cop Kills Drug Suspect with Three Shots to the Back -- Protest Turns Into Near Riot Thursday Night

A protest march over the police killing of Michael Newby in Louisville ended in violent clashes between police and demonstrators at Louisville police headquarters Thursday night. At least four persons from a crowd estimated at 400 people were arrested as demonstrators called police "pigs" and "cowards" and broke windows in the police chiefís office.

An undercover Louisville Metro Police shot and killed 19-year-old black city resident Michael "Li'l Mike" Newby Saturday night in a drug bust gone bad, Police Chief Robert White had announced Sunday. Newby, who was found to be carrying a pistol in his waistband, was shot three times in the back as he fled after scuffling with white Officer McKenzie Mattingly near 46th and Market Streets in Louisville's West End neighborhood.

Mattingly, who was assigned to a police anti-drug unit, was in the area attempting to make drug buys when the deal "went bad," White said. "There was a tussle for the [officer's] service weapon, a shot was fired, the subject fled and in the course of that, the subject was shot three times in the back," White said.

White did not explain why Newby was shot as he fled. Nor did he explain why other anti-drug officers nearby handcuffed the dying man as he lay on the ground.

Officer Mattingly is now on paid leave, and Chief White said the shooting would be investigated by the department's public integrity unit and the mayor's Police Accountability Commission. "I would ask that our department and the community at large be mindful that this investigation is very young," White said. "There are a lot of unanswered questions. There are concerns that I, like members of this department and I'm sure members of this community, have that relate to this."

White became chief a year ago this month, as the department was embroiled in controversy over earlier white police killings of black men. Newby's death was the second police killing in three months, but the earlier killing -- of an armed robber holding a gun to a victim's head -- was non-controversial.

Newby's killing, however, is once again raising the specter of racial tension in the city, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The Rev. Louis Coleman, retired director of the Louisville Justice Resource Center, prayed Sunday with Newby's family and was to meet with them this week to start planning strategy.

The family is criticizing the killing and the police response so far. Family members attended White's news conference and met privately with the chief, but pronounced themselves unsatisfied. "He didn't know anything," Helen Swain, Newby's aunt, said of the chief. "We already knew what he said. The only thing we can do is continue to pray and continue to try to find the truth."

Jerry Bouggess, Newby's stepfather, complained that police prevented he and his wife, Angela, the youth's mother, from coming to their son's aid and that police lied to them after they ran to the scene. "We told them that we were his parents, but they wouldn't let us cross," he said. "They told us that no one's been hurt and that no one was shot. This is just terrible," Bouggess said. "They treated him like he was an animal."

One family friend at the home told the Courier-Journal black people in the neighborhood are frightened of the police. Bouggess agreed. "I feel terror, really," he said. "The West End has gotten so that black men not only have to look out for crime, but they have to look out for the police, too. He always had a fear of the police."


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

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


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

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

Please visit 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.


13. 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.

January 31-February 1, Vancouver, BC, Canada, " Entheogenesis: Exploring Humanity's Relationship With Sacred Plants, Past, Present and Future." Visit http://www.entheogenesis.ca for further information.

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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