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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #320, 1/16/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. SSDP Does New Hampshire, Part II: Candidates, Conventions, and Repealing the HEA Anti-Drug Provision
  2. Venezuela Moving to Decriminalize Drug Possession
  3. New Federal Prosecution of California Medical Marijuana Patients
  4. Hawaii Ice Task Force Issues Report -- Legislature, Governor Vow to Act
  5. Newsbrief: Amnesty International Rakes Singapore over Executions, Mostly of Drug Offenders
  6. Newsbrief: Feds Want Ability to Wiretap VoIP -- DEA Included, Naturally
  7. Newsbrief: Oklahoma Lawmakers to Move Against Sudafed in Meth Battle
  8. Newsbrief: New Jersey "Safe, Drug-Free" Benefit Concert Ends in Melee, Arrests
  9. Newsbrief: Florida Appeals Court Nixes "Knock and Talk" Arrest
  10. Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Push Bill to Legalize More Coca
  11. Newsbrief: In Australia, Queensland Drug Courts Mostly Send Marijuana Users to Treatment
  12. Newsbrief: Flyboys Flying High on Salvia Warned to Come Down Now
  13. Pain Relief Network Joins National Physician and Patient Groups in Denouncing Florida's Hearings on Pain Drugs
  14. This Week in History
  15. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime
  16. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. SSDP Does New Hampshire, Part II: Candidates, Conventions, and Repealing the HEA Anti-Drug Provision

The Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org) national convention in Manchester, New Hampshire, is over, but SSDP leaders and members leaving the bitter cold of New England are convinced they have planted seeds of reform -- not only among the Democratic presidential candidates they targeted, but also among other student activists and groups who were present for the College Convention 2004.

"We met our goal of getting the presidential candidates to come out on the Higher Education Act (HEA) anti-drug provision," said SSDP acting executive director Darrell Rogers, referring to the group's core issue. Under a 1998 revision to the HEA authored by drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), students who have a drug conviction lose their access to federal student financial aid for specified periods. "We met six candidates and we got five calls for full repeal," he said. "We are also seeing that we have had an impact on the candidates. Howard Dean this week this week was asked on MSNBC about problems facing minority communities, and he started talking about white people with drug convictions having a better chance finding a job than minorities with clean records. That was two days after we talked to him," Rogers said.

Former SSDP head and new board member Shawn Heller also dragged something else from Dean, Rogers reported. "Shawn asked Dean if he would nominate as drug czar someone with a public health or medical background instead of someone with a military or law enforcement background, and Dean replied that he would."

The barrage of questions directed at candidates from SSDP members paid off, Rogers said. "We are educating the candidates whether they like it or not," said Rogers. "A couple of the candidates -- Lieberman and Kerry -- had no idea about HEA, and although they came around [Lieberman fully and Kerry partially], that hurt them in the minds of the students present because it showed they were out of touch with student and youth issues."

SSDP also made a media splash with its Friday night prank involving former drug czar and self-appointed moralist Bill Bennett. For Bennett's appearance, students passed out urine sample cups with labels discussing Bennett's desire to drug test students, including conference attendees. That incident was picked up by the New York Daily News, but that was by no means the only mass media interest, Rogers said. "From the candidates, the audience, and the media coverage, all indicators are that this is becoming a serious policy debate in the United States. We got a shitload of media coverage, and our media director Melissa Milam deserves some credit for that."

"This issue is going mainstream," said SSDP Outreach Coordinator Abby Bair. "The candidates were actually briefed by their aides!" she exclaimed. "And seeing things like that begin to happen is really energizing the students. I've had so many phone calls from students saying they've been inspired."

SSDP's success at bringing drug reform in general and repeal of the HEA anti-drug provision in particular to the public eye has not just inspired reformers. Also present at College Convention 2004 was a new, anti-drug student group, Students Taking Action Not Drugs (http://www.standnow.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of the prohibitionist Drug Free America Foundation. The organization, which at this point consists of a handful of George Washington University Students, says on its web site that one of its three key goals is "to challenge a growing movement to legalize and normalize drug use on college campuses."

While, as the Drug War Chronicle reported last week, the STAND students were outgunned and out-argued by SSDP, Rogers expressed a certain glee at their appearance.

"SSDP is excited to see a student effort to specifically oppose us, although I'm dismayed it took them that long to form," he said. "They are polite and well-intentioned, but when it comes to drug policy, we will eat them alive with our knowledge, passion, and honesty."

Editor's Note: On its home page, STAND is offering "seed money" for new campus chapters. Maybe you, too, could start a chapter. Pranksters, arise!

But while students enjoyed poking fun at STAND, SSDP's reason for being in New Hampshire was deadly serious. "I got busted with three joints at Mardi Gras last year," said one HEA anti-drug provision victim who asked to remain anonymous. "I got to stay in jail for 22 hours, I had to pay a $500 fine and a thousand in legal fees, and I lost my financial aid," said the New Hampshire resident. "I had to cut back to part-time for two semesters because I couldn't afford it," he said. He is only one of more than 124,000 students who have been denied financial aid because of previous drug convictions. "SSDP is a great group," he said. "I checked them out. I was interested in applying for the Perry Fund scholarship (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/), but it was out of money after giving scholarships last fall."

Still, in a sign that drug reform remains to some extent at least the movement that dare not speak its name, he is not certain he will join SSDP. "I support what the group is doing, but I'm also trying to build a career," he said, adding that he worried that he could be tainted by association with a drug reform organization.

Fortunately for SSDP, not everyone feels that way. In fact, at the group's board of directors meeting during the convention, there was a changing of the guard as three new student board members prepared to take on more public roles. Former national director Shawn Heller of a law school yet to be determined, Bindu Nair of the University of Texas, and Amanda Brazel of Wayne State University, joined reelected student board members Tyler Smith and Matt Atwood of Loyola University in Chicago. Chris Evans of the University of Maryland and Justin Holmes of SUNY New Paltz were selected as alternate board members. Atwood was also reelected chairman of the board.

"As a student group, every four years or so we are basically a new organization," said Atwood. "We have people rotating out who have been on the board for years and new faces coming in. It is a changing of the guard; we change half the board every year," he told DRCNet.

"But our mission hasn't changed," he added. "This year, the board modified our agenda (http://www.ssdp.org/SSDP_ROOT/9_SSDP_Agenda/SSDP_Agenda.htm),
but only slightly. We amended the section on urine testing to include student privacy rights, which also encompasses fighting school drug raids like at Goose Creek and searches of students," he said. "And we included some language about race and justice in our prison section. But repealing the HEA anti-drug provision remains our key demand."

If there are new voices at SSDP's national leadership level, there are also new voices at the group's grassroots. "This was my first national convention and I really, really enjoyed the experience," said New Yorker Kieran Riley. "SSDP's professionalism and organization and the way the people approached the issues was really admirable," the 28-year-old said. Although he is not currently in school, Riley told DRCNet he felt like he had a place with the group. "I got into this through friends at school and my older brother, and I didn't think as a non-student I would get too much involved, but this organization is impressive and we can't let ourselves be divided by categories like age, so here I am."

Riley is going to work at the state and local level targeting New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws, he said. "Those laws are ridiculous, and now I am more motivated then ever to fight against them."

With new blood like Riley's in the chapters and new voices in leadership positions, SSDP has hit the ground running in 2004.


2. Venezuela Moving to Decriminalize Drug Possession

The embattled government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is moving to decriminalize drug possession. But contrary to some reports circulating on drug reform email lists, decriminalization in Venezuela is by no means a done deal. The opposition newspaper El Universal (Caracas) reported Tuesday that as part of its sweeping reform of the country's penal code, the Chavez government will include the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. The proposed reform would also address penalties for drug trafficking and manufacture, creating a system of sentences based on weight rather than the current system, which subjects all trafficking and manufacturing crimes to the same harsh set of sentences.

Under the proposed new Article 383 of the penal code, "A personal dose would be understood to be the quantity of the drug that does not exceed the average five-day personal consumption; and a maintenance (or supply) dose would be the quantity of the drug used by the average person (as determined by experts) for no more than 10 days."

Under the article, people caught with "personal dose" or "maintenance dose" amounts of illegal drugs will face no criminal sanction. The benchmarks for those doses have not yet been set. Benchmarks for new, graduated penalties for trafficking and manufacturing offenses have been set:

  • 4-6 years if the quantity is greater than the "personal dose" or "maintenance dose" but less than the amounts listed immediately below.
  • 6-10 years if the quantity is more than 1000 grams of marijuana; 200 grams of hashish or synthetic drugs, or 20 grams of cocaine, cocaine base, or opiates.
  • 8-12 years if the quantity is more than above but less than 10,000 grams of marijuana, 4,000 grams of synthetic drugs, 3,000 grams of hashish, 2,000 grams of cocaine or cocaine base, or 70 grams of opiates.
  • 10-20 years for offenses exceeding the quantities listed immediately above.
In all of the above cases, prison sentences can also be coupled with fines. The amounts of those fines are unclear at this time. Typically in Latin America, fines are computed by multiples of the daily minimum wage. The proposed Venezeulan reform speaks of fines in "tributary units." DRCNet is not yet sure exactly what those are.

Venezuelan penologist José Luis Tamayo told El Universal the changes in drug trafficking penalties were needed to ensure justice in sentencing. The reform "would correct a certain current injustice, since today those who traffic drugs in large quantities (for example, a ton of cocaine) are punished with the same sentence as those who traffic in small quantities (for example, 10 grams of cocaine)," he said. "In this manner, the greater or lesser the quantity of the drug detected in each case would be punished in a proportional manner."

Whether the proposed decriminalization becomes the law of the land depends on whether it is approved by the judicial and legislative branches, Venezuelan embassy spokeswoman Arelis Paiva told DRCNet Thursday. "Under Venezuelan law, the reform has to be approved by the Supreme Judicial Tribunal and then by the National Assembly," she said. That process "could take months," she added.

The passage of decriminalization also depends on the survival of the Chavez government. The democratically-elected president faces a possible referendum over his rule this summer. The referendum to remove Chavez -- signatures are still being counted in a highly contentious process -- is the latest effort by Venezuela's elites and upper classes to remove the populist, nationalist leader. Those elites, aided and abetted by the US government, attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow Chavez with a coup in 2002 and have remained unalterably opposed to his rule ever since. (Chavez himself attempted a coup in 1992 and was imprisoned, but he used that imprisonment to launch his career as a democratic politician.)

The move toward decriminalization of drug possession will likely provide even more ammunition for the Chavez demonization campaign emanating from the White House, the State Department, and more shadowy agencies. Chavez is already well-hated by the conservative ideologues, such as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, a former aide to Sen. Jesse Helms, and Bush's special envoy to the region Otto Reich, who cut his teeth helping craft the Reagan administration's wars in Central America in the 1980s.

Both men have recently increased their drumbeat of criticism of Chavez, particularly in the run-up to this week's Summit of the Americas in Mexico. Among other things, they accuse Chavez of providing assistance to the revolt in Bolivia that overthrew US ally President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in October -- but they did so gutlessly, retreating to the anonymity of "officials who declined to be named" in an Associated Press story last week.

The attacks on Venezuela from Washington drew a predictable response from Caracas. President Chavez bluntly told the US to butt out of Venezuelan internal affairs, and Foreign Minister Carlos Rangel angrily denied the charges. "If they have any evidence... they should put it on the table so we can discuss it," Rangel told reporters in Caracas on January 6. "What proof do they have of these statements?" Like Rangel, we are still waiting for a response.


3. New Federal Prosecution of California Medical Marijuana Patients

David Davidson and Cynthia Blake, medical marijuana patients and growers from California's remote Tehama County, sat in court in Redding Tuesday awaiting the dismissal of state marijuana cultivation with intent to distribute charges against them as their attorney met with Tehama County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Strom in the judge's chambers. They got their wish -- Strom dropped state charges -- but only because she had handed the case over to the federal government.

Now Davidson and Blake are facing possible life sentences and a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted on the newly filed federal charges of conspiracy to grow more than a thousand plants with the intent to distribute and cultivation and possession of 100 plants. Medical marijuana supporters are crying foul.

"If Lynn Strom thought this a medical marijuana case, she should not have turned it over to the feds," said Hilary McQuie of Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), a medical marijuana defense group, "and if she thought it wasn't a medical marijuana case, she should have prosecuted it at the state level," she told DRCNet. Instead, said McQuie, Strom interrupted the hearing in chambers by suddenly announcing: "I'm dropping the charges because federal marshals are arresting your clients at this very moment in the courtroom."

"She clearly thought she couldn't get a conviction, so she turned it over to the feds," said McQuie.

Strom was unavailable for comment Thursday, and a spokeswoman for the Tehama County District Attorney's office said no one else was, either.

Davidson has a medical marijuana patient card from the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop and a signed doctor's recommendation to use the herb, while Blake has only a verbal recommendation from her doctor, McQuie said. The novice growers, who were also growing for other patients, had planted about a thousand seedlings, "but most of them were dead," McQuie added.

According to McQuie, the California Attorney General's office told ASA that while turning cases over to the feds was not their practice, Strom did not do anything wrong. "I beg to differ," McQuie said. "Lynn Strom is a rabid anti-marijuana person. She was responsible for convicting someone last year for transporting medical marijuana. She said Prop. 215 didn't cover transportation. She has been going after people, and that is wrong."

ASA is calling out the troops for demonstrations at federal courthouses today. Protests have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco, as well as Spokane and Cincinnati, while others may also take place. In Sacramento, Blake and Davidson will address a press conference at the courthouse, along with ASA's Steph Sherer and attorney Tony Sierra.

"We don't want another Bryan Epis case," said McQuie. "This is the same federal courthouse, the same federal prosecutor. This case is a good heads up to remind people that the federal war on patients hasn't ended. They've been attacking patients and providers throughout the Bush-Ashcroft administration. They may have laid low for awhile this election year, but they can still strike when they want."

Still, McQuie said, this appeared to be a case of an overzealous state prosecutor rather than a reinvigorated federal campaign of raids and prosecutions. "We think this was Lynn Strom's doing," she said, "but we would like to know more about how this decision was made."

Also, McQuie said, "this is all the more reason to join in on our national day of action at congressional district offices during Medical Marijuana Week (2-15 to 2-22) on Tuesday, Feb. 17 and demand Congress change the law to protect patients."

Last year's national day of action featured "evict the DEA" protests at DEA offices around the country. This year, ASA is suggesting a "Spank You/Thank You" (or thank/educate if you prefer) theme for press events at congressional district offices for representatives' records on medical marijuana. The goal is to get local coverage on both the issues and the representative's record in every hometown newspaper and local TV station.

Visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org to learn more about the National Day of Action.


4. Hawaii Ice Task Force Issues Report -- Legislature, Governor Vow to Act

A Hawaii legislative task force studying methamphetamine use in the state has come out with a comprehensive package of legislative proposals weighted heavily toward education, prevention and treatment. While the task force included some calls for tougher drug laws in its recommendations, it declined to endorse proposals sought by Gov. Linda Lingle (R) and the law enforcement community that would have heightened police powers at the expense of Hawaiians' privacy and civil liberties.

Hawaii has one of the nation's highest methamphetamine use rates. It is also unique in that most Hawaiian users favor "ice," a glassy, crystalline form of the drug suitable for smoking.

"We are going more toward treatment and early intervention," said state Senator Colleen Hanabusa (D), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of three co-chairs for the legislative ice task force. "The testimony we heard showed that if anything was working to reduce ice use in this state, it is educating the youth. The statistics show that use has declined among 6th to 12th graders because they're getting the message that ice is not only addictive, but a very bad drug," she told DRCNet.

"We do have some law enforcement legislative packages, but that approach cannot be the answer in and of itself," she added. "It won't work, and it's extremely expensive. You have to have prisons, and we're already shipping a good percentage of our prisoners out of state, almost 2,000 out of 5,000, and then we have to pay other states, Oklahoma or Texas, to watch our prisoners," she continued. "No, we have put a lot of money on early intervention, we'll be asking for funding for those sorts of programs, and for treatment."

At a time when state legislatures around the country are responding to methamphetamine use with such reflexive measures as increasing sentences for meth offenses, restricting the sale of legal products that can be used in meth manufacture, and heightening penalties for other meth-related offenses, such as stealing anhydrous ammonia, the Hawaii legislative task force's embrace of a public health approach to ice use and its attendant social consequences -- whether derived from prohibition or from the particular pharmacological effects of the drug itself -- is remarkable. And the task force is putting its money where its mouth is. Spending priorities for the $21.6 million dollar set of programs are as follows:

  • $10.7 million for adult drug treatment
  • $4.5 million for teen intervention and drug treatment
  • $3.5 million for drug abuse prevention for families, schools, and youth programs
  • $1.2 million for expanded drug court programs
  • $850,000 to fund the state's "treatment not jail" program for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders, which the legislature passed in 2002 but failed to fund
  • $300,000 to study the impact of ice labs on Hawaii's environment, particularly groundwater supplies
According to the task force, some 20,000 Hawaiian adults need drug treatment, and 10,000 of those want it. But with treatment available for only 6,000 of those, the task force identified a shortfall. Its recommendations are intended to provide treatment for anyone willing to accept it. "The problem we have here is with future costs," said Sen. Hanabusa. "We know that for every dollar we put into treatment or prevention, we'll save seven down the road. If people look at the cost savings, they will see it makes sense to fund this."

It's not all sweetness and light and fiscal responsibility, however. While it shot down the governor's wiretapping and "walk and talk" proposals, the task force did endorse stiffer sentences for drug traffickers, for harming children exposed to ice, operating ice labs near schools or public parks, and distributing drugs to pregnant women. The task force also recommended toughening the state's paraphernalia laws, more funding for drug dogs in the Department of Public Safety, and funds to the Office of Community Services to coordinate community, government, and law enforcement anti-ice efforts.

Reflexive "tough on crime" measures notwithstanding, drug reformers and researchers involved in the issue pronounced themselves generally satisfied. "It's actually a pretty decent set of recommendations," said Pam Lichty, head of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. "While no one has seen the actual bills yet, by and large they are taking the public health approach. They are talking about spending a lot of money on treatment, prevention, and funding the diversion program for drug offenders," she told DRCNet. "And while there are some parts of the package that we don't like, the task force explicitly rejected changing the wiretapping laws. The law enforcement coalition really wants that, but the task force noted that they asked for more information from prosecutors about how they are hampered by current law, and they didn't get it."

"I was very, very pleased with the recommendations," said Alice Dickow of the Ice Treatment Project and principal investigator for the MATRIX study, an 18-month look at women and methamphetamine abuse. "The fact that they lead with the statement that it's a public health issue is heartening. It's a very enlightened and helpful approach. It also shows they listened, because they heard reams of testimony to that effect," she told DRCNet.

"I was concerned during this process that with two campaigns being waged -- the anti-crime law enforcement campaign and the treatment and prevention campaign -- that the public health message would be obscured in the furor over how best to crime-fight this," she added. "That didn't happen. And the amount the recommended indicated they were aware they couldn't use half-measures."

Ah, the money. Therein lies the rub. "There is no funding mechanism in this," said Lichty. "Tax increases will be hard to pass. They have suggested sin taxes, maybe on alcohol or tobacco, or tapping into one of the state funds, like the tobacco settlement fund or the hurricane relief fund. At the same time there is real public support for some of these measures, so this promises to be real interesting."

"We're not sure there is going to be support to raise any form of taxes, but that doesn't mean that we've ruled it out," said Sen. Hanabusa. "But we will leave those decisions to the Finance and Ways and Means committees," she said. "They need to find the ways and means to get this done."

While the task force was a bipartisan effort, that is likely to fade away in the heat of political combat. The process has already begun. The press conference announcing the task force's recommendations was a Democratic affair, and the task force's bills will be introduced as part of the Democratic legislative program. Gov. Lingle's initial response to the proposals was tart and snippy, saying they were way too expensive. The proposals do call for substantially more spending than Lingle's competing anti-ice legislative package. Lingle is also peeved because the task force rejected two key parts of her package, easing restrictions on wiretaps and allowing "walk and talks."

"We're hoping the governor's preliminary reaction isn't sustained and she will support this," said Hanabusa. "She has said she would look at this in more detail, and in order to get this through the system, she needs to be working with us," she said.

There are other concerns. "When we looked at data on the women we treated, the one thing that really stuck out was employment and education issues," said researcher Dickow. "I would really hate to see money for this initiative come at the expense of other social services. That would be robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Dickow also pointed to another, often overlooked issue. "There are talking about a lot of money, more than we've ever had in our system," she said. "Just throwing money at this without monitoring outcomes would be foolish. We need treatment providers to look at outcomes to ensure treatment and prevention is effective. I don't believe poor service is better than no service; there has to be scientific accountability."

"We are demanding accountability," said Hanabusa. "We have to have measurements of success. We are responsible to the taxpayers. We've been telling them we studied this, but for them to say okay, we also have to be accountable."

That would be great, said Dickow. "Hawaii is really poised to show the rest of the nation what works, what interventions work, what treatment programs work. A serious evaluation of efforts in Hawaii would be a service to the nation."

The legislature has 60 working days to figure it out. Expect results by mid-May or not at all this year.

The report of the Joint House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement can be viewed at:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/lists/ice_finalrpt.pdf


5. Newsbrief: Amnesty International Rakes Singapore over Executions, Mostly of Drug Offenders

The tiny Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore has the world's highest execution rate, and a majority of those it executes are drug offenders, the human rights watchdog group Amnesty International charged in a report issued Thursday. Singapore authorities have executed at least 408 people since 1991, the report found, and at least 252 of them were drug offenders. The actual number of executed drug offenders is higher, but cannot be determined because Singapore will not release any information on executions in the last three years other than their annual totals.

Singapore has earned a reputation as an authoritarian society, and its drug laws certainly bolster that notion. Anyone holding more than half an ounce of heroin or little more than a pound of marijuana is presumed to be trafficking. The only sentence available for that offense: Death by hanging. That's what happened in one case cited by Amnesty, that of Rozman Jusoh. The 24-year-old Malaysian laborer was hanged for drug trafficking in 1996, despite a reported IQ of 74.

As everywhere else, the death penalty in Singapore falls disproportionately on the most marginalized members of society.

"Many of those executed have been migrant workers, drug addicts, the impoverished or those lacking in education," Amnesty said. "Drug addicts are particularly vulnerable. Many were hanged after being found in possession of relatively small quantities of drugs. Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act contains several clauses which conflict with the universally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and provides for a mandatory death sentence for at least 20 different drug-related offences. For instance, any person found in possession of the key to anything containing controlled drugs is presumed guilty of possessing those drugs and, if the amount exceeds a specified amount, faces a mandatory death penalty for "trafficking".

"Such provisions erode the right to a fair trial and increase the risk of executing the innocent," Amnesty stressed. "Moreover, it is often the drug addicts or minor drug pushers who are hanged, while those who mastermind the crime of trafficking evade arrest and punishment."

Singapore is the runaway global leader in executions per capita with 13.6 per million citizens, according to the United Nations. It was followed by Saudi Arabia (4.65), Belarus (3.20), Sierra Leone (2.84), Kyrgyzstan (2.80), Jordan (2.12) and China (2.01). The United States couldn't place it that category, but it did take fourth in the total number executed. The US trailed first-place China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Saudi Arabia, but did manage to out-execute also-rans Nigeria and Singapore.

The Singapore government defended its policy. "By protecting Singaporeans from drugs, we are protecting their human rights," Inderjit Singh, a member of parliament, told the Associated Press. "The rule breakers have to be dealt with -- it's the same in any part of the world," said Singh, who is also president of a chip-making company. "We just do it differently."

To read the Amnesty International report, "Singapore: The death penalty: A hidden toll of executions," visit http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engasa360012004 online.


6. Newsbrief: Feds Want Ability to Wiretap VoIP -- DEA Included, Naturally

The Justice Department, the FBI, and the DEA have all signed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking it to order companies that offer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services to reengineer their networks so law enforcement has the ability to overhear subscribers' conversations. Without those rules, the agencies warned in the letter delivered to the FCC in December, "criminals, terrorists, and spies (could) use VoIP services to avoid lawfully authorized surveillance."

VoIP offers telephone service through the Internet and bypasses regular phone company networks. Companies such as Vonage and Skype have stirred the telephony world by offering low, set-price long distance service, and the big telephone companies are now beginning to enter the competition. But the more consumers turn to VoIP, the more telephone conversations slip out of the grasp of would-be government wiretappers.

While the Justice Department prefers for political reasons to paint the request -- and legions of other post-911 encroachments on privacy -- as part of the war on terrorism, if VoIP wiretaps run in similar patterns to regular wiretaps, then the main target is not terrorists but drug scofflaws. In 2002, the last year for which information is available, law enforcement listened to nearly 2.2 million phone conversations under court-approved wiretaps. More than 80% of them were related to drug investigations, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

The question the FCC must ponder is whether VoIP falls within the mandate of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). That law, a legacy of the Clinton administration -- the imperatives of the security state being a bipartisan endeavor -- requires "telecommunications carriers" but not "information services" to provide ready wiretapping access. If the FCC rules against the feds, they could then appeal to Congress to rewrite the law.

But it's probably all for naught, anyway, said Jim Harper of the privacy advocacy web site Privacilla.org. "The FCC should ignore pleas about national security and sophisticated criminals because sophisticated parties will use noncompliant VoIP, available open source and offshore," he told CNet News. "CALEA for VoIP will only be good for busting small-time bookies, small-time potheads and other nincompoops."


7. Newsbrief: Oklahoma Lawmakers to Move Against Sudafed in Meth Battle

Oklahoma lawmakers are preparing to submit legislation that would restrict the sales of popular over-the-counter decongestants, such as Sudafed, as part of the state's war on methamphetamine and its users. The products contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in at least one method of homemade meth manufacture. According to Oklahoma law enforcement officials, more than 1,300 meth labs were busted in the state last year.

Reuters reported this week that state Senator Dick Wilkerson (D-Atwood) will sponsor a bill now being drafted that would ban convenience stores and gas stations from selling products containing significant amounts of pseudoephedrine and force pharmacies to offer it only behind-the-counter. Customers who wished to purchase Sudafed or similar products would have to register their names with each purchase, and purchase amounts would be limited.

"Is it a big industry secret that meth is a highly addictive, easily made drug?" Wilkerson asked. "No." He told Reuters he would introduce the bill early next month.

Over-the-counter medicine sellers are not amused. "We don't think legislation is the way to do it," said Donna Edenhart, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "The over-the-counter-products that contain those chemicals are helping millions and millions each year," she told Reuters.

Other common items that can be used in cooking meth include rock salt, battery acid, red phosphorous road flares and anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer not readily available for purchase but found in storage tanks in many rural communities, he said. No word yet on when the Oklahoma legislature will ban rock salt.


8. Newsbrief: New Jersey "Safe, Drug-Free" Benefit Concert Ends in Melee, Arrests

A benefit concert billed as a safe, drug- and alcohol-free event for teenagers turned into a violent confrontation between police and club-goers in Brick, New Jersey, last Friday night. By the time it was over, the benefit had been shut down and 10 people arrested, including one for marijuana possession.

Brick Township police told reporters Saturday that four adults and five juveniles had been arrested, including a 14-year-old charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. The trouble started when police arrived at the event, sponsored by the Brick Municipal Alliance Committee on Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, and Youth Services, on a first aid call. That call was handled without incident, but security staff on the scene told police they were concerned about intense activity in the club's mosh pit.

Police subsequently removed several of the more agitated moshers from the event, raising tensions until they decided to shut down the whole thing. According to police, the crowd became increasingly hostile and disorderly after the closing. At this point, police clashed with the crowd, arresting four adults and three juveniles for disorderly conduct, two teens for assault, and one teen with resisting arrest. (Some people were charged with more than one offense).

The event was a fundraiser for the state's Safe Haven for Infants program, and was sponsored in part by a grant from the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Use.


9. Newsbrief: Florida Appeals Court Nixes "Knock and Talk" Arrest

A Florida appeals court ruling calls into the question the popular police tactic of using "knock and talks" as a means of intimidating citizens into waiving their constitutional rights. In a "knock and talk," police may suspect someone of a crime but lack evidence to support a search warrant, so they confront the person in question and attempt to gain permission to enter the person's home to conduct a search. According to the Orlando Sentinel, which surveyed local law enforcement agencies, "knock and talks" are used in almost every jurisdiction it covered. They are widely popular with law enforcement across the United States because they provide a means of entering homes without the need for a warrant.

But the police may have to think again. In a January 10 ruling, Florida's 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers 13 central Florida counties, threw out the drug conviction of Orange County (Orlando) resident Lynn Miller. Miller was arrested after allowing police to enter her home during a "knock and talk" encounter generated by an anonymous tip. The Orange County Sheriff's Office maintains a special squad of drug agents to investigate such tips using "knock and talk" techniques.

According to court records, Miller was leaving her home to run errands when she found three deputies dressed in black "Orange County Sheriff" jackets in her yard. They told her they needed to speak with her about a tip that "possible drug activity" had occurred in her home, and persuaded her to go inside with them. They never told her she had the right to refuse their requests, the court found.

After being questioned, Miller turned over a small bag of marijuana, a single rock of crack cocaine, and a pipe. Miller told the court one of the deputies told her "that I needed to let him in or they'd get a search warrant... I thought I had no alternative." She was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia based on the seized evidence.

But the "knock and talk" was unlawful, the appeals court held. "We conclude... that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to comply with the officers' requests, and that [Miller's] encounter with police amounted to an unlawful seizure within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment," wrote Judges Vincent Torpy and Earle Peterson. "This considerable show of authority was sufficient to create the perception that a major criminal investigation was under way."

Miller's lawyer, Steven G. Mason, says the ruling may have widespread ramifications on "knock and talk" practices. "The court is telling judges in 13 counties that here we have a process and this 'knock and talk' is inherently coercive," Miller's attorney, Steven Mason, told the Sentinel. "I think this opinion is sending a message that 'knock and talk' is constitutionally suspect."

While, according to the Sentinel, most central Florida law enforcement agencies continue to use "knock and talks," at least one agency, the Seminole County Sheriff's Department, does not. "We've done it in the past, but we certainly do not do it as a matter of routine," said Chief Deputy Steve Harriett. "We want to emphasize that we understand and appreciate the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable search and seizure, and we're sensitive to that."

Learn how to handle yourself in "knock and talk" situations and other encounters with police officers. Donate $35 or more to DRCNet and get your complimentary copy of "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," an outstanding new video from the Flex Your Rights Foundation. Donate $25 for your second, third or any further copies -- count previous BUSTED orders as your first! Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to support DRCNet and order your copies of BUSTED today!


10. Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Push Bill to Legalize More Coca

Coca-growing peasants (cocaleros) from Bolivia's legal coca-growing region are preparing a bill that seeks to legalize more coca production and win government help in jump-starting markets for non-cocaine coca products, the Bolivian newspaper El Diario reported Monday. Under Bolivia's coca law, the much reviled Law 1008, coca can only be legally grown in the Las Yungas region in La Paz province and one tiny part of the Chapare. But even in Las Yungas, the law limits production to a little more than 5,000 acres (12,000 hectares), while cocalero leaders say they need 8-12,000 acres (20-30,000 hectares) just to meet the demand for legal coca products.

Las Yungas cocalero leader Luis Cutipa told the newspaper the bill is still in the works, with meetings among peasants and groups linked to the coca business set for coming weeks to draft final language. The bill will include language calling on the government to broaden markets for the crop, especially in neighboring Argentina and Chile. In the Andean north of those two countries are as many as one million traditional coca users, Cutipa said.

Because the Bolivian internal market alone requires more coca than allowed under Law 1008, Cutipa said, the law needs to be modified to eliminate "illegal zones." Under the law, in addition to the legal zone in Las Yungas, there is a "transitional zone" where the crop is illegal but eradication is voluntary, and an "illegal zone," where farmers face forced eradication without compensation. Aside from the limited, defined areas of Las Yungas and the Chapare, most of Bolivia is an "illegal zone."

The government has other plans. Government Minister Alfonso Ferrufino last month announced that he would seek a plan of compensation for voluntary eradication of excess coca in Las Yungas, but would put off for the moment eradication in the region.

Meanwhile, the head of the Coca Producers' Association (Adepcoca), Roberto Calle, told the newspaper that the group would petition the government of President Meza to approve more commerce in the leaf. Citing projects for developing the coca industry dating from the 1960s, Calle argued that broadening the legal coca market would ensure that "illegal" production was not funneled into the cocaine traffic.

The cocaleros are positioning themselves for the coming legislative season. With the Bolivian government caught between the prohibitionist hard-line emanating from the US Embassy and the powerful political currents represented by the cocaleros, it should be a very interesting season.


11. Newsbrief: In Australia, Queensland Drug Courts Mostly Send Marijuana Users to Treatment

Under the headline "First-Time Drug Offenders Avoid Jail," the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported Monday that Queensland's Illicit Drugs Court Diversion Program had helped more than 600 people avoid criminal convictions by getting them into treatment programs. But the real story is that the Australian state's drug court program is sending hundreds of people caught with a joint to drug treatment.

According to statistics from the program, 654 people were diverted into treatment last year by the drug courts. People charged with marijuana offenses constituted two-thirds of them. Some 400 adults and 40 juveniles were sent to drug treatment for pot-smoking -- or in the case of some of the kids, having a bong -- compared to 107 for amphetamines, 56 for ecstasy, 31 for heroin, and five for cocaine.

Drug treatment providers unsurprisingly called the 12-month pilot project successful and urged its expansion. The trial program has been centered on Brisbane, the state's capital and largest city. It should be expanded throughout the state, they told the Courier-Mail.

The diversion program applies only to first-offenders caught with one gram or less of ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin, 50 grams of marijuana, or three "hits" of LSD.


12. Newsbrief: Flyboys Flying High on Salvia Warned to Come Down Now

Salvia divinorum, a Mexican herb with weird psychedelic properties, is reportedly being gobbled up by airmen at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. According to the Air Force Material Command News Service, uniformed Air Force personnel have been seen buying the drug, which is not yet on the controlled substances list, and the number of users at Tinker AFB alone could be "as high as 100 or more."

Even though the plant is not illegal and can be purchased easily over the Internet -- as well, apparently, in nearby Oklahoma City -- Tinker's narcs are warning airmen that they consider it a drug and getting caught with it could get them thrown out of the military. According to Ven Sovo of Tinker's Joint Drug Enforcement Team (a division of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 114), use of salvia falls within the Air Force's definition of drug abuse.

Drug abuse is "the illegal, wrongful or improper use, possession, sale, transfer or introduction onto a military installation of any drug," Sovo told the news service. And the Air Force defines drugs as "any intoxicating substance, other than alcohol, that is inhaled, injected, consumed or introduced into the body in any manner for purposes of altering mood or function."

Taking his cue from the DEA, which has begun including salvia in its "drugs and chemicals of concern" list and is reviewing whether to ban it, Sovo warned of salvia's hallucinogenic properties. But the warning Air Force members need to hear is that salvia can now get you in trouble.

For more information on salvia and its effects, visit the Salvia Divinorum Research and Information Center at http://www.sagewisdom.org and the Vaults of Erowid salvia page at http://www.erowid.org/plants/salvia/salvia.shtml online.

For more information on the battle to prevent salvia from being designated a controlled substance, visit http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/dll/salvia_divinorum_action_center.htm.


13. Pain Relief Network Joins National Physician and Patient Groups in Denouncing Florida's Hearings on Pain Drugs

press release from the Pain Relief Network, http://www.painreliefnetwork.org

In response to a combined state and Federal month-long series of hearings, purportedly aimed at curbing abuse of prescription drugs, Pain Relief Network is calling for a moratorium on government measures attacking legitimate pain care. Citing the virtual collapse of pain care throughout the state of Florida, Pain Relief Network's Executive Director Siobhan Reynolds is vowing to hold tough-talking legislators responsible for actions that hurt and kill the most vulnerable citizens of Florida.

"In an effort to appear tough on drug abuse and diversion, Florida's elected representatives are attacking patients in pain. Rush Limbaugh is a wealthy man and has access to high-powered attorneys to fight for his medical privacy. But who is standing up for the average Floridian in pain?"

Pain Relief Network joins The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the American Pain Institute, and the National Pain Patients Coalition in opposing government intrusion into medical privacy that will only further chill legitimate pain management, putting even more patients in pain at risk for suicide.

"Patients in the worst pain, those with the highest dose requirements, those are the people victimized by this kind of legislation. With prosecutors and Federal agents eager to score points in their war on drugs, Americans in severe pain raise every kind of alarm on law enforcement's radar screen. Doctors already turn them away in droves. Sick people have simply got to be excluded from the list of potential drug war targets. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs only ensure that patients in pain won't get care."

The facts:

  • Prescription Monitoring Programs are not effective. They do not reduce substance abuse. Illicit prescription drugs on the streets come primarily from importation and theft. Doctors' offices are not the source. Evidence: Kentucky has the "gold standard" Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and their rate of abuse of prescription pharmaceuticals is among the highest in the country.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are inaccurate. They misidentify legitimate patients who are simply struggling to survive, labeling them "doctor shoppers." The system cannot differentiate. With 50 to 70 million Americans unable to access appropriate care, the mistake is foreseeable, inevitable, and devastating.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs have a chilling effect on legitimate pain management. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring all available evidence. Evidence: David Joranson's studies at the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Center show that doctors prescribe less opioids, even when opioid rugs are indicated, if they know the government is watching them. If Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs actually worked to curb drug abuse, perhaps one could argue that they had some merit. But since they don't work, there is no value to offset this unspeakable cost.
  • Illicit prescription drugs are now readily available through the Internet and through importation from Mexico and other countries, utterly undermining law enforcement's rationale for its focus on medical practice as a source for diverted prescription drugs. Absent evidence that medical practice is a substantial source for illicit prescription drugs, policy makers have no justification for destroying patient privacy and worsening what is an already appalling and disgraceful situation facing Americans in pain.
Visit http://www.painreliefnetwork.org for information on the pain patient march on Washington, DC, April 18-20.


14. This Week in History

January 18, 1990: Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry is arrested after hidden cameras record him smoking crack cocaine with an ex-girlfriend in her hotel room. Barry's quote to the press: "The bitch set me up!"

January 19, 1920: The 18th Amendment becomes law, making alcohol illegal. Prohibition proves to be unenforceable, and the enormous profits generated by bootlegging creates a new criminal class.

January 23, 1912: In the Hague, twelve nations sign a convention restricting opium and coca production.


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

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


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

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

Please visit 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.


17. 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 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.

February 1-6, Hannibal, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Springfield, MO, "Special Delivery for John Ashcroft" speaking tour by Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] or visit http://www.leap.cc for further information.

February 15-22, nationwide, "Medical Marijuana Week 2004," day of protests organized by Americans for Safe Access. E-mail [email protected], call (510) 486-8083 or visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org to get involved.

March 1-2, Houston, TX, speaking tour by Bob Owens of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] or visit http://www.leap.cc for further information.

March 3-11, Idaho, "Modern-day Paul Revere calls America to the Truth," speaking tour by Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] or visit http://www.leap.cc 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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