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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #322, 1/30/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Colorado Cannabis Confrontation: A Patient and a State Judge Take on the Feds
  2. Goose Creek School District Lawyers Blame Students for Raid
  3. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? San Francisco Panel Examines Drugs, Terror and Your Rights
  4. Oakland to Regulate "Oaksterdam" Cannabis Dispensaries
  5. Offer and Appeal: New Ink Stamps and Strobe Lights -- DRCNet Needs Your Support in 2004
  6. Newsbrief: Feds Cop Plea in Arizona Pain Doctor Case
  7. Newsbrief: Mexico's Perpetual Drug War Brings New Talk of Legalization
  8. Newsbrief: Bush's School Drug Testing Initiative Prompts House Bill to Begin Random Testing of School Kids
  9. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kerry National Security Advisor Was Key Drug Warrior
  10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  11. Newsbrief: Scotland's First Cannabis Café Opens
  12. Newsbrief: British Government Drug Expert Calls for Ecstasy Downgrade
  13. Newsbrief: More Federal Judges Object to New Sentencing Discretion Limits
  14. Newsbrief: Leading Georgia Prosecutor Slams Drug War, But Only as He Retires
  15. This Week in History
  16. DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Colorado Cannabis Confrontation: A Patient and a State Judge Take on the Feds

What started as a small-time drug raid that never should have occurred has now blossomed into a confrontation between a Colorado judge and the United States Justice Department. Hayden resident Donald Nord, 57, suffers a variety of maladies and uses marijuana for relief. He is a licensed medical marijuana patient in compliance with Colorado's medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 2000. Local police knew he was a medical marijuana patient and was growing his own medicine. But that didn't stop the Grand Routt and Moffatt Narcotics Enforcement Team (GRAMNET), a federally-funded anti-drug task force, from obtaining a search warrant, raiding Nord's home, and removing his lights, plants, and related materials on October 14.

Nord has been totally disabled since the mid-1980s, he said, citing a litany of health problems, including phlebitis and blood clots, gall bladder surgery, pancreas problems, removal of a kidney, diabetes, and necropathy in the soles of his feet. "It is very difficult for me to walk," he said, "it feels like there are hard rocks in my shoes." But that's not all. Last week, Nord was again hospitalized, this time for prostate surgery and bladder infections from previous hospitalizations. "I have a very hard time relaxing enough at night to where I can get to sleep so I use marijuana for pain and to get rest. I am on complete disability and my income is $655 a month," he told DRCNet.

"I told them I was a registered medical marijuana patient, but they said they're federal agents and my certificate doesn't mean anything to them," Nord related. "I don't think that's right. The DEA agent, Doug Cortinovis, wanted to throw me in jail, but Chief Jody Lenahan said he didn't think that was a good idea given my medical conditions. The chief and I sat at the table and talked while Cortinovis searched the place. I had shown the chief my certificate when I first got it. He knew I had it. He said he hoped this didn't hurt our friendship."

Nord's lawyer, Kris Hammond, sent a copy of Nord's certificate to Routt County Judge James Garrecht. Prosecutors filed no charges against Nord, and Garrett ordered that Nord's property be returned, including two ounces of marijuana. On December 23, the task force brought back Nord's equipment, but not his medicine. A week after that, Hammond filed a contempt motion against the task force members "for failing to follow the Colorado Constitution and a judge's orders" by not returning the marijuana.

On January 7, Judge Garrecht cited the nine officers for contempt of court and ordered them to appear in court February 2 "to show cause, if any they have, why they should not be punished for contempt, for neglect and refusal to comply with the Order of the Court."

That order got the attention of the feds, but not in the way Nord hoped. On January 17, DEA spokesman Jeff Dorschner announced that the US Attorney's Office in Denver would represent not only DEA agent Cortinovis, but also the eight police officers from local jurisdictions. The state officers were deputized DEA agents, Dorschner explained. A week after that, the feds played what they hope is their trump card. On January 24, federal prosecutors filed a motion in federal court, asking that the case be removed from the state court and that the contempt charges be dropped.

Moving the case to the federal courts "... is proper when either a state court civil action or criminal prosecution is brought against a federal official, as long as the action for which the official is being questioned was undertaken under color of federal office," the feds argued.

As for the contempt charges, they wrote: "It is not the intent of officers or agents of the US to violate state law in the performance of their duties or to ignore orders of state court judges. In this instant, regrettably, such violation was mandated by federal law, a circumstance that is unfortunate and rare. Once GRAMNET members had in their custody contraband as defined by federal statute, they were required to follow federal law in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, they would have been subject to discipline and possibly termination or worse, for dereliction of their duties."

A hearing was set for Thursday, but DRCNet had received no information on its outcome by press time.

"These cops don't want to go to jail," said Nord's attorney, Kris Hammond. "Now they're claiming they're federal agents, although only one is DEA; the other guys are local. But they swore to be Jedi knights and now they claim the force protects them. County court was good enough for them when they used it to break into someone's house and take their stuff," Hammond said. "But when the county court wants something from them, they go to federal court."

One could be forgiven for assuming that Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar would be interested in a case where law enforcement officers are defying a state judge's court, but he is not. Salazar has been a prominent foe of medical marijuana, publicly urging federal officials to prosecute all marijuana arrests in Colorado, even those of certified medical marijuana patients. He and Gov. Bill Owens also warned doctors they could face federal prosecution if they wrote medical marijuana recommendations.

Here's what Deputy Attorney General Ken Lane told DRCNet about the case of the contemptuous cops: "We have nothing to do with or say about this matter."

If state officials are not going to uphold the law, said Hammond, there are other options. "The answer is two-fold," said Hammond. "We have to choke them off at the top or at the bottom. In Washington, there is a bill, the Hinchey amendment, which would prevent the feds from doing what they're doing. It would require them to obey state law in medical marijuana cases. As it is now, the feds come in, get a search warrant knowing it's medical marijuana, destroy the pot, and never file charges. It's crazy -- we're giving them taxpayer money to run around and refuse to obey the law," he said.

"Back here, local government needs to say we won't give you any money if you are violating the laws," Hammond continued. "This medical marijuana law was passed by the will of the people of Colorado. This is a rather conservative state, but conservatives are supposed to be for states' rights. People here need to stand up for that principle."

Hammond, who is accepting token payments of $100 a month from Nord, said he didn't know how far he could pursue the case. "I've talked to the Colorado ACLU, but they didn't seem too interested," he said. "Donald could sure use some kind of legal defense fund."

2. Goose Creek School District Lawyers Blame Students for Raid

Talk about adding insult to injury. It was enough that Stratford High School Principal George McCrackin (since replaced) sicced the police on his young charges. Or that the gung-ho cops of the suburban Charleston Goose Creek Piece Department treated the local high school as if it were a Baathist guerrilla hangout. Ordered to the hit the floor by screaming police raiders waving pistols, handcuffed if they complied too slowly, threatened by police drug dogs, the innocent students were understandably traumatized by the events of November 4. When school and police videotape of the raid aired, Goose Creek became the focus of nationwide outrage.

Now, as the school district prepares to defend itself against a pair of lawsuits brought by the students and their families with the help of local civil rights attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union Drug Policy Litigation Project, it is arguing in court documents that the students themselves -- none of whom were found to be in possession of any drugs or other contraband -- were partly responsible.

"Any injuries or damages" suffered by the students in the raid was at least partly the result of their "own acts of comparative negligence, carelessness, recklessness...," the Berkeley County School District claimed in a filing in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed December 18 by South Carolina attorney Ron Motley. The students are not entitled to monetary damages because the raid was "justified at inception and reasonable in scope," the district maintained.

The district also attempted to foist blame off on its co-conspirators, the Goose Creek Police Department and the city of Goose Creek. Any injuries suffered by the students, the district maintained, were the result of negligence by "some other party or parties over whom the defendants had no supervision or control." Also, the district should not be held responsible because McCrackin did not plan, order, and "execute the search."

"Does the district honestly think it's going to win points claiming police didn't aim loaded guns at students' faces, but rather only their torsos?" asked Ian Mance, a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy ( and Charleston native. "Those students were one hair-trigger away from serious injury or even death. To blame them for this is absolutely unconscionable."

SSDP has been organizing around the Goose Creek raid since it occurred nearly three months ago. SSDP activist Dan Goldman traveled to the area to meet with students, parents, and other activists in November, and reported a warm reception -- from most quarters. Now ex-Principal McCrackin was not happy to see him, Goldman reported.

"Our drug laws ought to protect youth," said new SSDP national director Scarlett Swerdlow. "Unfortunately, as the continued controversy in Goose Creek shows, all too often youth are the victims. We were shocked to see that now they are trying to blame the students."

SSDP is not only shocked, it is organizing. "We've been talking to some of the contacts Dan Goldman made when he was down there. South Carolina holds its presidential primary next week, and we're trying to mobilize our contacts to ask candidates about the raid and what they would do as president to protect the privacy of students against unreasonable raids like the one in Goose Creek," said Swerdlow. "In New Hampshire, our communications director, Melissa Milam, was able to ask General Clark about it, and he said he thought it was atrocious that students were treated that way. We'd like to hear Clark and the other candidates address this issue while they're in South Carolina," she said.

"We have also put out a press release criticizing the district for blaming the students, and we have given our students on campuses across the country some ideas of what they can do to draw attention to this issue while attention is focused on South Carolina," she added. Those tactics include writing letters to the editor, urging reporters to use the raid as a local angle in campaign coverage, and asking questions of candidates, she said.

Lawyers for the students had a field day with the district's arguments. "It's an absolute outrage," attorney Ron Motley told the Charleston Post & Courier, comparing the district to a drunk driver running over someone and then blaming the pedestrian. "I can't wait to tell a jury this," he said. As for the district's contention that it wasn't liable for damages because the students were lawfully restrained, Motley replied: "If you say pointing a Glock at someone's head is a lawful restraint, then you must have grown up in Nazi Germany."

The school district "may say this is a technical defense, but for the life of me, I don't know how it helps their arguments," added Jack Cordray, another attorney for the students. "They try to teach children to be accountable for their actions, but when they are called to account, they deny responsibility and point to others, including children."

The district's filing came as part of a motion to dismiss the case. No word yet on when a ruling in the motion will come.

3. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? San Francisco Panel Examines Drugs, Terror and Your Rights

special to Drug War Chronicle by Steve Beitler
George Orwell crafted many people's mental model of a police state: An iron fist ever ready to pound on the door, spies everywhere, resistance nearly futile. A different picture of a government gone amok emerged at a January 21 San Francisco panel cosponsored by Drug Policy Alliance ( titled "Got Rights? Drugs, Security and the Future of Freedom in America." Four featured speakers described an emerging world closer to Aldous Huxley's dystopian vision than Orwell's: the steady, often invisible erosion of legal rights and freedoms, the broadly growing power of law enforcement with technology in a key role, and many people genuinely cowed by their fears or enthusiastic about the purported trade-off of freedom for security.

The speakers focused on different aspects of a post-9-11 America where the Bush administration has succeeded, to a dispiriting degree, in linking drugs -- never prohibition -- with terrorism. The political, legal and emotional landscape the speakers described was complex and often bleak. They tempered this perspective with reminders of victories, recent and past, and with descriptions of urgent opportunities ahead in the ongoing battle to preserve democracy.

Dorothy M. Ehrlich, who heads the northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), believes America is becoming a "surveillance society" in which "we are putting the laws in place, the technology is getting more sophisticated, and we have racial and ethnic targets." The result is an increasingly blurry line between criminal investigations and efforts to thwart terrorism. Contributing to this blur are the PATRIOT Act and a series of executive orders that are the legal framework for outrages such as "sneak and peek," shorthand for the right of law enforcement people to rummage through a person's house and belongings without telling that person.

Ehrlich reminded the audience that the government's zeal for aggressive spying is not new; one example is the massive smear campaign against Martin Luther King, Jr. by the FBI from 1963 to 1968. The ACLU chapter in southern California recently launched a campaign to promote its proposed Safety and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act of 2003. The proposal, if made law, would impose curbs on "sneak and peek" and would reduce government access to many forms of personal data, such as bank records, Internet activity, bookstore purchases and library paper trails, that the PATRIOT Act permits.

In his State of the Union speech the night before the conference, President Bush had claimed solid accomplishment on the drug front and had announced his request for "an additional $23 million dollars for schools that want to use drug testing as a tool to save children's lives." Such drug testing is one way to socialize young people to relinquish their rights, said one panelist.

"Why are these people on a crusade about testing in our schools?" asked Judith K. Appel, DPA Deputy Director of Legal Affairs. One reason, she believes, is pragmatism. "They think it sells, and it does divert attention from the big-ticket spending in the drug war, such as in Colombia," she said. Beyond that, drug warriors like the socializing effect of early drug testing. "The war on drugs softens young people up for not having their rights later on," Appel said. She also cited drug testing in schools as an example of policy driven by profit and ignoring science. One of the benchmark measures of teen drug use, the Monitoring the Future surveys, which sampled 76,000 students nationwide in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, found no difference in the rate of drug use between schools that test and those that don't.

Gerald Uelmen, who teaches at Santa Clara University Law School, reported on the legal battle for medical marijuana. "Thank God for the Ninth Circuit," said Uelmen, referring to the Federal District Court that has delivered several key victories for patients and providers. Here Uelmen cited Conant vs. Walters, in which the court upheld a doctor's right to discuss all available treatments with his or her patients, and Raich vs. Ashcroft, which shielded two cannabis growers, who were clearly uninvolved in interstate commerce, from prosecution under the laws governing such commerce. "On the national level, the best way to protect our liberties would be to change the composition of the US Supreme Court," Uelmen said. "We need a Court that takes the Constitution seriously. The Fourth Amendment has barely survived the drug war, and it may not survive the war on terrorism."

For John Gilmore, computer entrepreneur and civil libertarian, the issue boils down to the "right to be anonymous." Gilmore, who said he doesn't carry a driver's license or other form of personal identification, recounted several cases of people who refused to show ID to the police and suffered for it. Gilmore joined this group when he was denied passage on airplanes at Oakland (California) and San Francisco airports last July 4th ( As he deplored the "pervasive encroachment of the right to move around, and the right to be an ordinary person doing ordinary things," Gilmore noted that "there are other countries where things seem to be getting better and that seem more civilized than the US."

There are what look like greener pastures elsewhere, but those are not an option for the vast majority of US-based reformers, who have plenty to occupy them here at home. A recent example came on December 13, the day the world saw the first images of a just-captured Saddam Hussein. That day President Bush signed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. The new law, wrote Kim Zetter of Wired News, gives the FBI expanded powers to obtain records from financial institutions without needing a judge's permission. The law also broadens the definition of a financial institution to include travel agencies, real estate agents, jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships.

It's hard to imagine an administration more hostile to drug reform than the Bush gang, and several people in the audience expressed support for regime change at home. Gilmore cautioned that "none of the Democratic candidates are speaking out about these horrible laws and policies." Indeed, with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich's campaign, the Democratic candidates' offerings on drug policy seem grudging and unwilling to challenge the assumptions of the drug war. As the panel members expressed, and as almost-daily events make clear, the battle to preserve democracy will be long, difficult and uncertain.

4. Oakland to Regulate "Oaksterdam" Cannabis Dispensaries

In the past two years, a sort of renaissance has been taking place in a section of downtown Oakland near the 19th Street BART station. A string of shops offering medical marijuana to card-holding patients has emerged along Telegraph Ave. and Broadway. On one sunny Sunday a few months ago, the dispensaries, with names like the Bulldog Café and the 420 Café, drew crowds of people into an otherwise deserted downtown Oakland. With jazz bands playing and street vendors offering various alimentary delicacies, the area took on more of the aspect of a low-key street party than a depressed urban district. Or more like Amsterdam, land of the cannabis café, than other mid-sized American cities, thus the "Oaksterdam" moniker.

But the number of establishments offering medical marijuana has continued to increase, and not all of them have been rigorous in ensuring that only medical marijuana card-holders can buy their product. Some appear to be fly-by-night operations, with no phone numbers or business licenses, and one has become known as the "Parking in Rear" dispensary, so named for the only sign that marks its door.

Now, prodded by anti-drug councilmen and one loudly complaining neighbor, the Oakland City Council is considering a measure that would regulate and limit the enterprises. Members of the Bay Area medical marijuana community told DRCNet they approved of regulation in principle, but had big problems with some of the measure's particulars.

While negotiations over the final wording of the proposed Oakland medical marijuana ordinance are underway, the proposal as currently written would:

  • Require the Oakland Police Department to make permitted clubs a low priority.
  • Require that the clubs be nonprofit.
  • Prohibit clubs from operating within 1,000 feet of public or private school, library, youth center, residential zone, another dispensary, park or recreation facility.
  • Prohibit the consumption of marijuana on club premises.
  • Limit the number of clubs to four.
  • Set up a system of fees and permits for the clubs.
  • Bar people with arrest records from being employed at the clubs.
"Regulation is a positive step -- if you don't look at the details of this ordinance," said Jeff Jones, founder of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative (, the city's original medical marijuana dispensary, located at the heart of Oaksterdam. The co-op is blocked by a federal injunction from providing marijuana to patients, but it continues to help patients with the process of obtaining medical marijuana cards. "This ordinance has some draconian provisions," he told DRCNet. "The language about proximity is very tough."

If the ordinance as written were to be enacted, the proximity language would virtually wipe out Oaksterdam. Nestled among the dispensaries on Telegraph and Broadway is the Sexual Minority Alliance of Alameda County, which qualifies as a "youth center." The director of the alliance, Roosevelt Mosby, is the one person who has complained the loudest about Oaksterdam, telling anyone who would listen -- including drug czar John Walters -- that activity around the clubs had a negative impact on his clients.

One solution, said Jones, was to grandfather in existing clubs. "The city manager is considering grandfathering," he said, "so it could be worse."

"We will speak against the ordinance," said Hilary McQuie of Americans for Safe Access ( "For us, the optimum solution would be that there is some sort of regulation around the clubs and that they be subject to health and safety inspections like any other place serving patients. They should have good ventilation and be able to control odor leakage. They should be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Some aren't, and how can they say they're serving patients if they're not accessible? Ideally, we'd like them to be regulated and to have a way of dealing with bad actors that is fair and transparent," she said.

"But this ordinance as written is too arbitrary," McQuie told DRCNet. "The current proposal would limit the number of clubs to four, and some council-members want them not to allow smoking on site. I think we should have as many clubs as the market will bear, and we should allow smoking on site because the social space aspect of the clubs is one of their most important functions, especially for people who are new to marijuana," she said. "Oakland needs people coming into town, and if these clubs bring people downtown, that's great."

The current number of clubs is at least 15, Jones said, and he believes the city should have a higher limit. "I'm pushing for 9 to 12 clubs," he said. "Maybe we can reach an acceptable compromise number." Neighboring Berkeley, with about one-third the population of Oakland, has four clubs, he pointed out.

Another issue is that of variety. "The clubs have different formats," McQuie explained. "Some are like clinics or doctors' offices or pharmacies. Some people aren't comfortable with the smoking and the paraphernalia and all that," she said. "Other places cater to different folks. We need to have a variety of formats to fit the needs of the patients," she said.

Now, negotiations are going on before the ordinance is presented to the city council on Tuesday. "I support regulation, but this ordinance needs some changes," said Councilmember Nancy Nadel. "It was submitted hastily, and the amount of cannabis allowed in the facilities is lower than what the city decided earlier," she told DRCNet. "I am also working to try to change the proximity limitations, and I think four dispensaries is not enough." The ban on consumption may be a tougher nut to crack, she said. "I don't think I can change that, but we may be able to only ban consumption by smoking."

For Nadel, one of the most irksome provisions of the ordinance is the ban on hiring people with arrest records. "Many of the people involved with this have records because they've been dealing with federal interference with our state law," she said. "Under this provision, Jeff Jones, one of the most honest and upright medical marijuana advocates I know, would not be able to work in one of these facilities."

In an indication of the politics of pot in the Bay Area, even supporters of the ordinance's harshest measures are careful to couch their comments within a broader acceptance of medical marijuana. "This will bring the city into closer conformity with the state medical marijuana law," Councilmember Jean Quan told DRCNet. "From walking the streets of the neighborhood, I think this goes beyond medical cannabis. We need to separate legalization from medical cannabis. There have to be tighter standards," she said. "If you're going to defend medical cannabis, we have to make such it stays within that core function."

Councilmember Quan also defended the ordinance as one that would protect dispensaries. "It would protect informal collectives, and for larger, more organized dispensaries, it would provide some standards and give us the opportunity to do some formal monitoring," she said. "There is no regulation now, and many places have opened without permits. I have heard that there are some abuses, that some dispensaries are selling to people who are reselling, some are selling to people without cards, some are letting smoke get outside or into other parts of their buildings. We want to stop that," she said.

The City Council will discuss, possibly amend, and then vote on the ordinance on Tuesday. If approved then, the measure would have to be approved a second time.

"We were under the radar for a long time, but with two clubs opening recently with a different vibe, I think the issue hit critical mass. Regulation is inevitable; we just have to have reasonable regulation," McQuie said.

5. Offer and Appeal: New Ink Stamps and Strobe Lights -- DRCNet Needs Your Support in 2004

DRCNet is pleased to announce two new "fun" gift items available as our gift to any and all interested parties who want to donate to DRCNet at or above a certain level and also get the message out in their own communities. In addition to our t-shirts, mugs and mousepads, DRCNet's merchandise line now includes a stop sign shaped ink stamp (complete with red ink pad) and a stop sign shaped strobe light. Mark your envelopes and other papers or appropriate possessions with the message via red stamp; and use our 2 1/2 inch octagonal, flashing light as the perfect attention-getter at parties or other events. The flashing red light also doubles as a bike safety device as it is visible for up to 1/2 mile, and comes complete with a replaceable battery good for 100 hours of continuous use and a handy clip.

Just visit and donate $25 or more by credit card or PayPal, and we'll send your complimentary strobe light. Donate $30 or more and we'll send you the stamp with red ink pad. Donate $50 or more and we'll send you both, or two of either one. Send any amount, large or small and you will qualify for a free button and sticker. While you're there, consider getting some of our t-shirts, mugs or mousepads, the exciting Flex Your Rights Foundation video "BUSTED: The Citizens Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" or any other item -- use the handy comment box at the bottom of the donation form for any needed clarifications to your order.


If you're not comfortable donating by credit card, visit to print out a paper order form to mail with your check or money order 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.

Again, please visit to check out the new items and help DRCNet work to end the war on drugs! Thank you for your enthusiasm and support.

6. Newsbrief: Feds Cop Plea in Arizona Pain Doctor Case

When Tucson pain specialist Dr. Jeri Hassman was indicted on 54 counts of prescribing opioid painkillers without a legitimate medical reason in March, federal prosecutors called her a Dr. Feelgood. When, after she refused to buckle under pressure, she was re-indicted in August, this time on a whopping 362 counts, they called her "a drug dealer with a pen."

Thursday, federal prosecutors accepted a plea bargain in which they dropped 358 charges, leaving Dr. Hassman to plead guilty only to four counts of failing to notify authorities that patients had admitted using other family members' prescription drugs. A case that began with a massive blaze of publicity courtesy of federal prosecutors has now ended with a whimper. There was no press release from the Arizona US Attorney's Office.

The plea bargain was hailed as victory by the Pain Relief Network (, a national pain patient and doctor advocacy group that has called an April 19 march on Washington to focus national attention on the persecution of pain doctors and the chronic under-treatment of pain in this country. Still, PRN criticized the government for seeking guilty pleas to the four counts. "If we couldn't see it before," said PRN executive director Siobhan Reynolds, "I hope this deal makes it perfectly clear. The US government, by threat of criminal indictment, will hold physicians criminally responsible if they fail to act as law enforcement officers in their relationships with patients. Neither the Constitution nor the Congress ever gave the Department of Justice the power to do this and yet they use their sheer might to enforce their will."

The persecution of pain doctors has a chilling effect on pain treatment, Reynolds said.

"Doctors were already simply putting down their pens and telling people with high dose needs to look elsewhere for help. We are hearing daily about patient suicides from untreated pain. Now, I'm afraid, the situation will only deteriorate further."

PRN and the National Pain Patients Coalition are calling for a moratorium on drug war prosecutions of pain doctors and calling on Congress to rein in the DEA. "It's becoming increasingly clear that the DEA only goes after doctors who actually apply the science and give people in pain enough medication to resume their normal lives," said Reynolds. "This is an agency out of control."

Visit Dr. Hassmann's web site at:

Read earlier DRCNet coverage of Dr. Hassmann's case at:

7. Newsbrief: Mexico's Perpetual Drug War Brings New Talk of Legalization

An ongoing upsurge in murders due to a realignment of Mexican drug trafficking groups as a result of law enforcement actions against the organizations is bringing legalization talk back to the pages of Mexico's newspapers, if not to the government of President Vicente Fox. Early in Fox's term, high ranking members of his government, including Fox himself, made noises about legalization, but that talk faded as the Fox administration quietly returned to business as usual.

As big bust after big bust yields spectacular headlines, but nothing ever changes, the rumbles for reform are beginning again. Provoked by remarks this week from Secretary of Defense Gerardo Clemente Vega García and Attorney General Rafael Macedo, Mexican drug analysts and members of the judiciary warned that more of the same will change nothing.

"The criminal organizations are trying to reconstitute themselves, to confront each other, to occupy the spaces that they occupy in relation to one another," said Macedo at a Monday news conference. "It is a war among traffickers. Although it is certain that today we live in a crisis because the drug trade wants spaces, there will be no truce with crime, cost what it costs," he vowed.

Those costs were apparent this week, as the press was full of accounts of 18 murdered "narcos" last week and the 11 bodies dug from the "narco-tomb" in Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday. Thirteen Mexican police officers have been detained in that case. All told, at least 70 people have been reported killed in internecine warfare between the traffickers this year -- and it is only the end of January.

Two days after Macedo spoke, Vega Garcia complained at his news conference that the drug laws were too lax and the judiciary too lenient. "If there is something we have to stay focused on in this country it is that the judicial power can see the possibility that the laws are made tougher and that they don't favor the criminals so much, but that the laws support society," he said.

That provoked law professor Clemente Valdes to tell the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada that "you won't be able to do away with the drug trade with stiffer penalties and stuffed prisons." That's because that sort of response doesn't deal with "the root of the problem," said Valdez. "The drug trade is totally profitable for the criminals. We cannot doubt that the business of drugs corrupts entire governments, police forces, ministers, judges and magistrates, because it manages impressive volumes of money," explained the jurist. "We must look for deep solutions to those problems that are public health problems, but have been transformed into security problems," Valdes concluded.

Leading Mexican expert on the drug trade and national security Jorge Chabat of the Center for Economic Education and Investigation concurred. "Here the problem is not so much the executions that are occurring, but that they increase and arrive at other spheres, such as politics, the looming election campaigns... and especially with the possibility that drug money penetrates some of these areas," he told the newspaper El Universal. The possibility that drug violence and drug money could contaminate the nation's political life "is something that we cannot ignore because it has already occurred in other countries and because conditions in Mexico are beginning to be similar," he said.

The upsurge in trafficking-related violence "has to do with the natural movements of the drug trade, and if we review recent years we find a similar pattern, with highs and lows that certainly have to do with internal reorganizations and with the system of rewards and punishments that there is in this illicit business," he said. For Chabat, it is time to think again of legalizing the drug trade. "Drugs ought to be legalized," he declared, "or we will continue having these sorts of manifestations of corruption and violence.

8. Newsbrief: Bush's School Drug Testing Initiative Prompts House Bill to Begin Random Testing of School Kids

In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush called for spending $23 million to encourage the nation's public schools to drug test students. It didn't take long for the presidential initiative to bear its first strange fruit. On January 22, three drug-fighting congressmen, Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), Tom Osborne (R-NE) and Mark Souder (R-IN) introduced legislation that would potentially extend drug testing to include random tests of all students.

According to the bill, grants would be given to school districts for "Drug-Free School Demonstration Programs." But funds would only be granted to districts that met a series of requirements. The first requirement listed is that the program "includes, consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, random drug testing of students." The US Supreme Court has upheld the testing of student athletes and students involved in extracurricular activities, but has not addressed the constitutionality of random drug tests of all students. The Peterson-Osborne-Souder bill would, if passed, almost certainly generate a challenge that would end up before the nation's highest court.

"This is about helping kids," Peterson said. "In my view, I'd like to see everybody tested."

The bill, The Empowering Parents and Teachers for a Drug Free Education Act (H.R. 3720) would set guidelines for testing accuracy, test result confidentiality, and would require parental consent -- but parents would have to proactively opt out of the program if they did not want their children to be submitted to drug testing. The bill would not allow schools to turn drug test results over to law enforcement, and test results would be destroyed after the students left school.

"Drug testing was used in the military to reduce the once rampant drug problem, and is a way of life in the workplace," said Peterson. "Drug testing is already being used in some schools to effectively reduce drug use because young people know that if they do drugs, they will get caught. By helping schools implement effective drug testing programs, we can give kids a reason to say no to drugs and give parents a report card that may help save their child's life."

"As a former coach and educator," said Rep. Osborne, "I have seen first hand that student drug testing can be used as a powerful preventive measure. For many youth, the possibility of being tested for drugs is reason enough to deter them from using drugs."

But, as we reported last week (, Monitoring the Future, the annual survey of drug-taking habits among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, found that "drug testing of students in schools does not deter drug use. The research findings challenge the premise that has been central to the rationale for schools adopting a drug testing policy." According to the statement, investigators found "virtually identical" drug use rates at schools that tested and schools that don't. The finding hold true across grade levels, the research found.

But, hey, let's not let science get in the way of feel-good policymaking.

Visit to read the bill online.

9. Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kerry National Security Advisor Was Key Drug Warrior

Alexander Cockburn's iconoclastic magazine, Counterpunch, reported Monday that Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. John Kerry has hired former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Rand Beers as his top national security advisor. Beers is a bipartisan drug warrior, serving as one of the main administration cheerleaders for us anti-drug policy in the hemisphere under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

One of Beers' primary tasks was to flak for Plan Colombia. He was a forceful proponent of the ongoing aerial coca eradication program, in which private contractors hired by the State Department spray peasants' fields with herbicides, testifying in favor of the program before Congress and in the mass media. The US government touts the program as a success, pointing to a reduction last year in acres planted, but the "balloon effect" is reportedly at work, with coca production increasing again in Peru and Bolivia, as well as migrating into the Colombian Amazon.

While the fumigation program's success in reducing the total supply of cocaine is minimal, its impact on the Colombian peasantry has been dire. Reports of food crops being poisoned by the spraying are common, as are reports of damage to livestock and humans. But Beers downplayed those reports, and sneeringly rejected claims that peasants needed to grow coca to survive. "An illegal activity is an illegal activity. And one doesn't get a special pass for being poor," he told John Stossel on ABC's 20-20. "They have to recognize that every effort to grow coca will be challenged by the government. Every work effort, every dollar, every pound of sweat that goes in to growing that coca may be lost."

Beers, who left his post as assistant secretary to become a counterterrorism advisor to President Bush, also played a key role in creating that perfect bogey-man, the "narco-terrorist." That was good practice for his performance last August when, attempting to block a lawsuit filed by 10,000 Ecuadorian peasants claiming they were harmed by spraying across the border, he attempted to link the Colombian conflict with Islamic radicalism.

"It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaida terrorist caps in Afghanistan," he wrote in a deposition for the case (

The claim boggled the minds of intelligence insiders contacted by UPI when the story broke. "That statement is totally from left field," one unnamed federal law enforcement official said. "I don't know where Beers is getting that."

"There doesn't seem to be any evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," an unnamed US intelligence official added. "We have never briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in a briefing to the State Department or anyone else," he told UPI.

"My first reaction was that Rand must have misspoke," a congressional staffer told UPI. "But when I saw the proffer signed under oath, I couldn't believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." Except to block the case from going to trial, which he explicitly said he wished to do in his deposition, citing national security reasons.

According to Counterpunch, Beers would be in line to be National Security Advisor or Secretary of State in a Kerry administration. "If John Kerry lets Rand Beers continue to guide his foreign policy, a Kerry administration will be no better for rural Colombians than a Bush administration," the magazine concluded. "Democrats who believe that Senator Kerry offers a humane alternative to Bush should think long and hard about what Rand Beers would set loose on the world if he were allowed to run the State Department."

10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

This week's corrupt cop is a Florida mystery man. Somebody in the Volusia County (Daytona Beach) Sheriff's Department made off with $500,000 worth of cocaine and marijuana from the sheriff's evidence compound, and Sheriff Ben Johnson is none too happy about it.

Evidence of misconduct in the evidence section began to emerge last October, Johnson said in a Monday press release. On January 12, an administrative probe turned criminal when nearly 600 grams of cocaine couldn't be accounted for. At that point, Sheriff Johnson called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. Federal investigators joined the effort last week. By now, Johnson said, more evidence has gone missing: Several hundred pounds of marijuana and an additional 300 grams of cocaine have also vanished.

"I'm deeply troubled to think that one of our employees may have abused his position by lying and stealing and jeopardizing other criminal prosecutions in the process," Johnson said. "This is an extremely serious matter, and we will leave no stone unturned in this investigation. I'm extremely angry and personally distressed about these events," he added. "The person or persons responsible for these actions has violated the community's trust, and that is not something I take lightly."

An arrest will come soon, authorities vowed. And the beat goes on.

11. Newsbrief: Scotland's First Cannabis Café Opens

Scotland's Chief Executive has warned that the downgrading of cannabis to a Class B drug will mean no change in its policy of arresting pot smokers, but the Purple Haze Café in Leith has put the government to the test by allowing customers to bring their own stash and light up beginning yesterday, the day the cannabis reclassification went into effect. The move is the first in a campaign to create a network of "cannabis tolerance zones" across Scotland.

Led by Rebel, Inc. publisher and Scottish Socialist Party drugs spokesman Kevin Williamson and Purple Haze owner Paul Stewart, the Scottish Cannabis Coffee Shop Movement (SCCM) wants to integrate cannabis cafes into Edinburgh's burgeoning night life and tourism industry. "Licensed cannabis coffee-shops would only add to the city's already cosmopolitan reputation, which, in turn, would add to the allure of the city as a potential holiday destination," wrote Williamson in an op-ed in the Scotsman earlier this month. "The benefits to the local citizenry would be just as enticing. The sale of cannabis could be taken out of residential areas -- where it is often sold alongside harder drugs like heroin. And, for users, it would end years of unjust persecution which wastes police and court time."

And it could be profitable for the exchequer, Williamson added. "Recent studies have indicated that UK tax revenue raised by legalizing cannabis could be in the excess of UKP 1.75 billion. This could be used to help treat individuals damaged by the effects of heroin and alcohol abuse for example, or to pay for its prescription to sufferers of illnesses like MS," he argued. "Licensing the sale of cannabis is such a pragmatic idea, with so many positive aspects to it, that when it finally happens most people will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place."

"We're not glamorising drug use, or advocating drug use," Purple Haze owner Stewart told BBC Radio Tuesday. "All we're saying is people are going to use cannabis, we have to accept that, and if they are we're trying to give them advice and information so that they can use it in the safest possible way. If I have to be criminalized for that then that's up to the police."

"We want to build a network of cannabis tolerant zones across Scotland beginning with the Purple Haze Cafe and expanding it across the whole of Scotland with the objective of calling on the Scottish Executive, the police forces and the local authorities to create Scottish-wide cannabis tolerant zones until our parliament has the powers to change the law," added Williamson.

A cannabis café in Stockport, England, just outside Manchester, has been operating for more than a year, but also has been raided three times. According to Scottish police, the Purple Haze can expect the same fate.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said all offenses would be reported to prosecutors. "The possession and supply of cannabis is illegal," he told the Scotsman. "It is also illegal for the occupier or any person concerned in the management of the premises to knowingly allow any person to smoke or supply cannabis."

Editor's Note: That anticipated first raid has just taken place -- Stewart and two others were arrested for lighting up inside the Purple Haze Thursday. More details next week. In the meantime visit for last week's report on British tabloid media reactions to cannabis reclassification.

12. Newsbrief: British Government Drug Expert Calls for Ecstasy Downgrade

While Britain is still recovering from the shock of downgrading cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug, one of the government's leading drug experts has called for a similarly downgrading of MDMA (ecstasy), from a Class A to a Class B drug. Class A drugs include cocaine and heroin, Class B drugs include amphetamines and barbiturates, and Class C drugs include steroids, anti-depressants, and now, cannabis.

Ecstasy has been a staple of British club life for years, although its use appears to be tapering off. At the peak of the drug's popularity a year or two ago, British observers estimated that partiers were gobbling down 500,000 hits every weekend.

"Ecstasy is not a Class A drug. It shouldn't be," said Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs' technical committee. It was this committee that earlier recommended the downgrading of cannabis. Nutt told the Independent on Sunday that the committee is carrying out a full review of the classification system.

But Home Secretary David Blunkett has said he has no plans to reclassify ecstasy, and when three leading psychologists last year dared to suggest there was no conclusive damage that the drug damages the brain, they provoked an hysterical reaction similar to that seen in recent weeks as cannabis downgrading loomed (

Professor Nutt also had something to say about that. "Four years ago everyone was saying we were not going far enough. Then everyone was very positive and a month before the legislation everyone discovers cannabis is a deadly toxin," he complained. "Almost nothing has changed. This thing about it might cause schizophrenia -- that is still a possibility but that is not a reason for not reclassifying, it's a reason for making sure people are aware of the dangers."

13. Newsbrief: More Federal Judges Object to New Sentencing Discretion Limits

The chorus of complaints from the federal judiciary over a new law limiting judges' discretion grew louder this week as the chief judges of the federal courts in the US 9th Circuit Court added their collective voice to the clamor. They are complaining about the Feeney amendment, named for its sponsor, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL). The measure, attached to the politically popular Amber Alert bill, which passed in April, limits federal judges' ability to sentence defendants to lesser sentences than those called for in federal sentencing guidelines. It includes a provision that requires the Justice Department to report to Congress each time a judge grants such a downward departure from the guidelines.

Federal judges already chafing under the restrictions imposed by mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing guidelines, and sometimes appalled by being forced to apply them to low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, have reacted angrily to what they see as a further congressional and Justice Department usurpation of their powers. In September, the Judicial Conference of the United States, a group of 27 judges who set policy for the federal courts, voted unanimously to ask Congress to repeal the amendment. And in his year-end state of the courts speech, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court William Rehnquist lashed out at the amendment, saying it "could appear to be an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges in the performance of their judicial duties."

This week, the 15 chief district judges of the US 9th Circuit met in Laguna Beach, California. After the meeting, Judge John Coughenour of Seattle told the Associated Press the group had "virtual unanimity" in its disdain for the law. The amendment, which was the brainchild of the John Ashcroft Justice Department, was drafted without consulting judges, Coughenour said, and ignored the recommendations of the US Sentencing Commission, created by Congress expressly to set sentencing with such recommendations.

Judge Ancer Haggerty of Portland, Oregon, told the AP that Congress erred by using misleading statistics to suggest federal judges initiated most downward departures. "If you look at the overall number of times a judge supposedly departed, it was done at the request of the government in most cases," Haggerty said.

The 9th Circuit includes federal courts in Hawaii, Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

And the black-robed rebellion against congressional efforts to mandate harsh prison sentences with little opportunity for judicial discretion festers.

14. Newsbrief: Leading Georgia Prosecutor Slams Drug War, But Only as He Retires

As DeKalb County District Attorney for 21 years, J. Tom Morgan played his part to perfection, operating the criminal justice machinery that sent thousands of drug law violators to prison from the Atlanta suburbs. But as he prepared for his retirement on Saturday, Morgan had some harsh words to say about the war on drugs.

In an interview published in last Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the award-winning prosecutor had some blunt warnings to a drug prohibition machine running on autopilot. People don't trust the cops as much any more, leading to juries that won't convict, he told the newspaper, and that could lead to vigilante justice from victims who don't see offenders punished. Much of the problem lies with the drug war, he said.

"I think our whole war on drugs needs to be looked at," Morgan said. There is a perception of unequal justice and a scent of hypocrisy when, on one hand, poor crack users get sent to prison, "and on the other hand you've got Rush Limbaugh getting thousands of [prescription pills] and he's making millions of dollars and he's out on the street," he added.

As a result, Morgan said, "juries will no longer hold individuals accountable in drug cases... Juries are telling us that prosecution is not the answer." Jurors no longer blindly believe police testimony, Morgan said, adding that some jurors seemed to mistrust all officers when "99.9% of our police officers are good people."

Morgan, a Democrat, was widely respected by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, and was appointed by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue as a special prosecutor in the corruption case against former parole board member and corrections commissioner Bobby Whitworth. Morgan won a conviction. Last year, he became the first American district attorney to win a Special Achievement award from the International Association of Prosecutors. That award came for his successful prosecution of then-Dekalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey for the murder of the man who defeated him in the 2000 election, Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown.

15. This Week in History

February, 1985 (exact date missing): DEA agent Enrique Camerena is kidnapped and murdered in Mexico. Camerena's disappearance spotlights the pervasive drug corruption in Mexican law enforcement. The Mexican's lack of cooperation leads Commissioner of Customs William Von Raab to order a six-day Operation Intercept-style crackdown on the Mexican border. Camerena's body is found within a week of the border closing, but evidence of a cover up by Mexican officials is clear.

February, 1993 (exact date missing): A totally fictitious report of a methamphetamine lab inside the compound of a group of religious extremists in Waco, TX is used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to secure military support and training through Joint Task Force 6 (JTF-6) to assist in their upcoming raid.

February 1, 1909: The International Opium Commission convenes in Shanghai. Heading the US delegation are Dr. Hamilton Wright and Episcopal Bishop Henry Brent. Both tried to convince the international delegation of the immoral and evil effects of opium.

February 3, 1987: Carlos Lehder is captured by the Colombian National Police at a safe house owned by Pablo Escobar in the mountains outside of Medellin. He is extradited to the US the next day. On May 19, 1988 Lehder is convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus an additional 135 years.

February 5, 1988: A federal grand jury in Miami issues an indictment against Panamanian General Manuel Noriega for drug trafficking. Noriega had allowed the Medellin cartel to launder money and build cocaine laboratories in Panama.

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

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

Most importantly, don't let this temporary setback at DRCNet prevent you from lobbying Congress. We intend to continue to issue legislative action alerts in the meantime, and you can act on them by calling your US Representative and your two Senators on the phone; go through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or visit and to look up their names and phone and fax numbers or to contact them via e-mail or web form. The information contained on the alert pages of our legislative web sites will provide you with sufficient information to take such action. There are current action alerts posted at:
It's important that we get the web-based service online as soon as possible, for a few reasons:
  1. E-mails to Congress are more important and effective now than they were in the past, since the 2001 anthrax attacks and the resulting slowness and unreliability of snail-mail to Capitol Hill;
  2. The ease of going to a web site, reviewing and editing a prewritten letter, typing in your address and sending it at the click of a mouse, is highly effective for increasing our participation rates and resulting impact on Congress;
  3. The action alert web sites are a highly effective means for recruiting new people onto our e-mail lists, growing the movement and doing so in the process of carrying out needed grassroots activism -- and ultimately increasing our potential donor base and ability to maintain and enhance these services;
  4. The system lets us look up subsets of our list based on geography (e.g. state, congressional district, city, state legislative district, county), and target action alerts to people who live in the key areas whose legislators or officials need to be lobbied especially vigorously due to their membership on committees responsible for active legislation or other reasons; and
  5. The personalization features the online system provides us allow us to send each of you individualized e-mails containing the name and phone number of your legislators, making it easier for you to take it to the next level of lobbying by phone, thereby increasing the number of phone calls to Congress that we can generate, a crucial show of passion for the issue that members of Congress need to see. For example, if you've used our write-to-Congress web forms in the last 2 3/4 years, you've probably received a few e-mails from us recently with text like the following:

    "If you haven't moved since we last communicated (zip code ___ in ___, __, than your US Representative is Rep. ___. Please call Rep. ___ at ____ and ask him to vote YES on ___ when it comes to a vote on the House floor..."
So while we can continue to send you legislative alerts without the online lobbying system, we can't make use of any of those extremely powerful features described in the paragraphs above. In order to resume our use of the service, we need to pay off our balance with the company that provides it as well as raise additional funds to ensure we can continue to afford it after that. All in all, we need to raise at least $10,000 in non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, to reactivate the service and be fiscally responsible in continuing to subscribe to it. While this sounds like a lot of money, it's only slightly more than members like you gave us during our most successful previous fundraising appeal.

So please take a few moments to send DRCNet a few dollars today and make it happen! Please visit to make a contribution by credit card or PayPal or to print out a form to send in with your check -- or just send your donation by mail to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network to support our lobbying work (like the action alert program) are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible contributions to support our educational work can be made to the DRCNet Foundation, same address. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number: 772973012, DTC number: 0188, make sure to contact us directly to let us know that the stocks are there and whether they are meant for the Drug Reform Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.

17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

February 6, 8:30am-2:30pm, San Diego, CA, "Demystifying Harm Reduction: Social, Political and Clinical Implications for Abstinence Based Treatment," conference sponsored by A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing), and NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies). At the San Diego HILTON Hotel Mission Valley, 901 Camino Del Rio South, guest speakers Ethan Nadelmann and Pat Denning. For further information visit > or contact Dr. Annette Smith at (858) 549-8949 or [email protected] or A New PATH at (619) 670-1184.

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

February 10, 4:00pm, Brooklyn, NY, Keith Donoghue of the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project speaks on the Conant v. Walters Ninth Circuit medical marijuana free speech case. At Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon Street, contact David Ries at [email protected] for further information.

February 15, 4:00-6:30pm, Austin, TX, "Where is Our Constitution When We Need It?" Dinner hosted by the Libertarian Distinguished Speaker Series, featuring LP presidential candidate Gary Nolan and former Austin City Councilman George Humphrey discussing peace, politics and the dissolution of our freedoms. At Threadgill's, 301 W. Riverside at Barton Springs Rd. Dinner $12 and optional, all political affiliations welcome. For further information call (512) 467-1776.

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 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 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 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 or contact Mary Vargas at (202)-331-8864 or Siobhan Reynolds at (212)-873-5848.

April 20-24, Melbourne, Australia, "15th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm." Visit or e-mail [email protected] for information.

April 22-24, Washington, DC, NORML conference, details pending, visit for updates.

May 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 for further information.

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