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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #327, 3/5/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: What's the Real Reason?
  2. The 2005 Federal Anti-Drug Budget: More of the Same, and Some Hidden Costs
  3. The 2004 Federal Drug Strategy: Drug Czar Makes It Official -- It's War on Pain Patients, Doctors
  4. Fight Looms Over Detroit Medical Marijuana Measure
  5. UN Drug Report Criticizes Safe Injection Sites
  6. Screenings! "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" to Air Around the Country March 29th to April 12th -- Host One in Your Home or Community or School!
  7. DRCNet Merchandise Special Extended
  8. Newsbrief: Players in Haiti Revolt Linked to Drug Traffic
  9. Newsbrief: With Vermont Medical Marijuana Bill Pending, Burlington Voters Send a Message
  10. Newsbrief: Iowa Guardsmen Home from Iraq Face Drug Discipline
  11. Newsbrief: Thailand to Launch New Drug War This Month, Shrugs off US Human Rights Criticism
  12. Newsbrief: Doctors, Scientists Urge Media to End "Crack Baby" Myth
  13. Newsbrief: Canadian New Democratic Party Calls for Regulation of Marijuana
  14. Newsbrief: Jamaica Ganja Decrim Moves Toward Parliament Vote
  15. This Week in History
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: What's the Real Reason?

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 3/5/04

As readers of this newsletter know, one of the most destructive problems in the drug war is the government's targeting (or lynching, it could be called) of physicians engaging in legitimate but enlightened treatment of severe, chronic pain with narcotics. Dozens of physicians have been prosecuted in recent years, their reputations smeared, their bank accounts depleted, in many cases their freedom taken away while they seek exoneration for the scurrilous accusations rogue DAs have brought against them.

Frequently the cases against these doctors collapse. The murder charges brought against Frank Fisher for three patient deaths were withdrawn when the California prosecutors realized they wouldn't fly -- one of the purported victims was killed in a car crash, for example -- she was a passenger in the car. All of a huge number of counts against Virginia's Cecil Knox were voted down by a jury, except one juror among twelve kept some prescription fraud charges alive for the monster prosecutors to retry him on. After publicly labeling Tucson, Arizona, physician Jeri Hassman "a drug dealer with a pen," prosecutors (persecutors) dropped 358 charges against her; Hassman made a deal to end the ordeal, in which she plead guilty to four counts of not informing authorities that some patients had apparently made use of some pills that had been prescribed to family members. (I hope my doctor would respect my privacy that much.)

Sometimes, unfortunately, a doctor is convicted because jurors who trusted the state a little too much couldn't believe officials would deceive them so outrageously so it had to be true, or their defense lawyers didn't manage to make the true case well enough. And sometimes, of course, there is actual prescription fraud, some few bad doctors abusing the system, some addicts or people selling to addicts, who also may need safe and legal supplies of their drugs but whose use of them isn't sanctioned by the government.

In all such cases -- the court victories, the defeats, the actual abuse -- the result of law enforcement's pogrom against pain treatment is the same: patients living or dying in severe, continuous pain can't get the medicine they need for relief. It doesn't matter that only a small handful of doctors get destroyed by the federal and state villains. Even just one or two would be enough to scare the rest of the doctors. And medicine is thereby undermined, patients in great pain subjected to needless agony, in effect torture, for no legitimate reason or benefit to themselves or society as a whole.

In the face of such terrible, evil misconduct, such great harm done to our nation's most vulnerable and suffering, the new national drug control budget offered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, drug czar John Walters) proudly proclaims a war on "doctors shoppers" (patients) and "pill mills" (doctors). How can they do this, and why is it happening?

It's not because of the severity of the prescription abuse problem -- the numbers just don't compare with many other social ills -- and it's not because prescription enforcement has a record of reducing addiction in the past -- everyone knows that addicts will find the drugs they want, or substitutes for them, somewhere or somehow. Prohibiting those drugs and attempting to enforce that prohibition only makes the drugs more expensive, increasing the incentive to divert them to the black market and the inevitability that such diversion will occur.

I suggest an alternative explanation: The prescription abuse focus may have been suggested by the same prosecutors who have colluded nationally the past few years to bring the wave of prosecutions against good pain doctors, or who hope to participate in the next wave. Their purpose, conscious or subconscious, is the likelihood that taking down a doctor will help them get on television and in the papers. Win or lose the cases, the name recognition gained from the publicity, to the public and within their profession, will help them when they later seek to run for higher elected offices or apply for high-level appointments in Washington's Department of Justice or their state capitals.

And if they have to destroy a few good doctors to get there, and indirectly destroy hundreds of thousands of patients, so be it. Apparently, at least.

2. The 2005 Federal Anti-Drug Budget: More of the Same, and Some Hidden Costs

In a time when the federal government faces multi-trillion dollar budget deficits and is warning of belt-tightening all around, the federal anti-drug budget will increase by 4.7% this fiscal year to $12.468 billion dollars. John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) presented the new budget proposal Monday. After two decades of ever increasing federal spending on the war on drugs, the FY 2005 anti-drug budget is largely more of the same -- a small cut here, an increase there, always expanding overall, but its essential contours unchanged -- as always, law enforcement eats up most of the federal billions actually spent to impose prohibition.

But you wouldn't know it from the Bush administration's drug budget. Because of budgetary legerdemain beginning with last year's drug budget, the FY 2005 numbers both seriously undercount the actual costs of federal drug law enforcement and distort the ratio of spending on demand reduction versus law enforcement. Last year, ONDCP "restructured" its budget, but according to John Walsh, the Washington Office on Latin America's ( senior associate for the Andes and Drug Policy, that restructuring resulted in a significant distortion of both the total anti-drug budget and spending priorities within that budget by simply removing the more than $4 billion spent each year to prosecute, try, and imprison federal drug offenders. More on that below, but first the numbers.

When broken down by federal government department, the anti-drug budget looks like this:

  • Department of Defense -- a slight decrease from $908.6 million in FY 2004 to $852.7 million in FY 2005.
  • Department of Education -- a fractional decrease from $611.0 million in FY 2004 to $604.5 million in FY 2005.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (includes the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) -- increased from $3.48 billion in FY 2004 to $3.66 billion in FY 2005.
  • Department of Homeland Security -- increased from $2.38 billion in FY 2004 to $2.52 billion in FY 2005.
  • Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons -- a slight increase from $47.7 million in FY 2004 to $49.3 million in FY 2005. (Per the budget restructuring in FY 2004, this line item is for prison drug treatment only; it does not include the cost of housing drug offenders, who make up 70% of the federal prison population.)
  • Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration -- the lead federal drug law enforcement agency saw a budget increase from $1.7 billion in FY 2004 to $1.82 billion in FY 2005.
  • Department of Justice, Interagency Programs -- includes FBI and other federal drug-related law enforcement programs, up from $550.6 million in FY 2004 to $580.6 million in FY 2005.
  • Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs -- increased dramatically from $181.3 million in FY 2004 to $304.3 million in FY 2005.
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy -- the drug czar's office saw a slight decrease in funding, from $522.2 million in FY 2004 to $511 million in FY 2005.
  • Department of State -- the department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs saw a slight increase, from $914.4 million in FY 2004 to $921.6 million in FY 2005. The bulk of these funds, $731 million, is earmarked for the administration's Andean Initiative, and the bulk of those funds is earmarked for military and fumigation assistance for Colombia.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs -- a significant increase in drug treatment funding from $763.5 million in FY 2004 to $822.8 in FY 2005.
  • Other Presidential Priorities -- includes the Small Business Administration's Drug Free Workplace grant program and the Department of Transportation's impaired driving initiative and increased from $2.2 million in FY 2004 to $3.5 million in FY 2005.
The 2005 anti-drug budget also includes a number of ONDCP initiatives, among them $145 million for the widely criticized National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, $80 million for the Drug-Free Communities Program, which funds the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and $23 million for grants to encourage school districts to undertake drug testing of students, an idea President Bush touted during his State of the Union Address.

The budget also pencils in $70 million to expand the drug courts program, a $32 million increase over FY 2004, as well as a number of initiatives aimed at interdiction and tightening US borders, including $11.9 million of the $54 million allocated for Remote Video Systems along the Canadian border.

When it comes to the ratio between spending on demand reduction (prevention and treatment) and supply reduction (domestic law enforcement, interdiction and crop eradication), the FY 2005 budget shows a nearly even split, with demand-side programs taking up 45% of the budget, compared to 55% for supply reduction programs. And herein lies the rub. By removing the costs of prosecuting, trying, and imprisoning federal drug law offenders from the anti-drug budget, as it did beginning last year, ONDCP seriously distorts both spending levels and priorities. Those costs came to more than $4 billion the last time they were counted, in the FY 2003 budget.

"By removing Bureau of Prison and other drug prosecution spending from the budget, a budget that is really two-thirds law enforcement and supply reduction now looks like it is balanced between demand reduction and enforcement," said WOLA's Walsh, who analyzed last year's anti-drug budget for the Federation of American Scientists' Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin. "This was intended to end the debate about the imbalance between the demand and the supply sides -- they can say, 'Look, we have a budget that is balanced,'" he told DRCNet. "But that's because it fails to include money that is still being spent, and presumably at a higher rate. It is a distortion. People who rely on the drug budget to gauge what we're spending won't get an accurate picture."

ONDCP argued in its budget summary last year that the restructuring of the budget was to make it more useful in carrying out policy analysis of the relative costs and benefits of drug control, Walsh said. "But if you don't include all the spending, how can you do that? Instead of making the budget more useful, this has made it useless. It is ridiculous; this doesn't pass the laugh test."

Walsh is correct, said Peter Reuter, coauthor of "Drug War Heresies" and professor of public affairs and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, who hastened to add that he had worked with Walsh on parts of the analysis. "The change is absolutely mystifying to me," he told DRCNet. "I can't invent an argument that says arresting drug sellers and users is supply reduction, but locking them up is just a response to their use and not part of supply or demand reduction."

ONDCP has reconstituted the budget in a way that "is analytically difficult to justify," Reuter said. But there may be other justifications, he hinted. "It's hard not to believe there was a political intent to create a more balanced looking drug budget," he said.

And ONDCP is doing it retroactively as well. While the federal drug budget has for the past 20 years hewed closely to the one-third for demand reduction, two-thirds for law enforcement ratio, any evidence of that has disappeared from the federal drug budget like an out-of-favor Soviet apparatchik from a Communist Party photo. In its table on "Historical Drug Control Funding by Function, 1996-2005," the budget summary simply erases Bureau of Prisons and other prosecution-related funding as if it never happened. Suddenly, we find that in 1996 demand reduction spending was 52.6% of the total anti-drug budget. But it wasn't so then, and merely erasing the figures doesn't make it so now. ONDCP does note that "consistent with the restructured budget, ONDCP has adjusted the amounts reported for the years 1996-2002," but it only points to the BYRNE law enforcement grant program and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's impaired driving program, not to Bureau of Prisons spending.

"This is the new model budget," said Walsh. "It eliminates the things they eliminated last year, and it is pretty clear future budgets would give no hint of the things that have been excised. And sure enough, if you didn't already know about it, you would have no reason to see in this budget anything about the Bureau of Prisons, the federal court system, the US Marshals, the whole structure related to processing people once they're arrested. Most of them are arrested, and most of those go to prison. This is a major aspect of federal drug control, and it has vanished from the budget."

And speaking of vanishing, that is what has happened to the drug budget as a political issue, said Reuter. "Ten or fifteen years ago, there was an active debate about how to reshape the drug policy budget, but now I am hardly aware of any discussion of the topic," he said. "The drug budget has disappeared as a way of debating drug policy."

The Bush administration is happy with the budget, and the Democrats are not making an issue of it, Reuter said. "Why would Walters and Bush have made any change?" Reuter asked. "It's their budget. If you think that US drug policy is fundamentally wrong, there is an argument for change, but there is no political driver to carry this forward," he said.

Visit to read the FY 2005 federal drug budget and related documents.

Visit to find out more about the Federation of American Scientists' Drug Policy Project and/or to subscribe to the FAS Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin online.

Visit to read Walsh's report, "Fuzzy Logic: Why the White House Drug Control Budget Doesn't Add Up."

3. The 2004 Federal Drug Strategy: Drug Czar Makes It Official -- It's War on Pain Patients, Doctors

The Bush administration took direct aim at America's pain patients and pain doctors as it unveiled its 2004 drug strategy Monday. For the first time, the national anti-drug strategy will explicitly target the use of prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes. With an estimated 75 million Americans suffering from chronic pain according to the American Medical Association, pain patients and the doctors who prescribe for them will now be ground zero in the war on drugs.

The 2004 federal drug strategy codifies and expands on what has been an accelerating federal effort to limit access to powerful pain relievers. Last month, the DEA announced it was seeking to move the hugely popular opioid pain reliever hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, which would greatly restrict patients' ability to obtain it. There has also been an ever-increasing number of federal prosecutions of doctors who prescribe pain medications, particularly opioids such as Oxycontin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a doctors' organization committed to preserving doctor-patient privacy, last July identified more than 30 prosecutions of pain doctors, and more have occurred since then. The DEA, for its part, reported investigating more than 500 doctors last year over their prescribing practices.

"The non-medical use of prescription drugs has become an increasingly widespread and serious problem in this country, one that calls for immediate action," said John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the drug czar's office -- -- or ONDCP) at a Monday press conference announcing this year's drug strategy. "The federal government is embarking on a comprehensive effort to ensure that potentially addictive medications are dispensed and used safely and effectively."

Those medications are dispensed in huge numbers, and despite Walters' warnings, they appear to be safe. According to health care information provider NDC Health, the opioid pain reliever hydrocodone was the nation's leading prescription drug, with 38 million people receiving more than 81 million prescriptions in 2002, while Purdue Pharma reported seven million prescriptions for its proprietary oxycodone formulation, Oxycontin.

While the number of times hydrocodone and oxycodone have been mentioned in the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) mentions of drug-related emergency room visits has indeed increased dramatically in recent years, so have the number of prescriptions written. Hydrocodone prescriptions, for example, jumped nearly 50% in the four years from 1998 to 2002. And while DAWN listed 115,000 emergency room visits where narcotic analgesics (unspecified opioids, codeine, methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone) were mentioned in 2002, less than 48,000 of them were for hydrocodone or oxycodone. With nearly 100 million prescriptions for the two opioids written that year, that means that fewer than one prescription in 2,000 resulted in a hospital visit.

Walters identified two menaces to combat. The first is "pill mills," he said, referring mainly to Internet-based pharmacies operating at the edges of the law, although the term has frequently been used by federal prosecutors to describe the practices of pain management physicians they have indicted. The second menace is "doctor-shopping," or the practice of seeing multiple physicians in an effort to get more pills than one doctor will prescribe.

Only marijuana posed a greater drug abuse threat to the nation, Walters added. The crackdown on pill-popping will feature an attack on those Internet pharmacies and a federal push for states to enact prescription monitoring programs to help catch "doctor-shoppers." While Walters did not trumpet the pattern of prosecution of opioid-prescribing physicians, a fact-sheet presented by ONDCP did vow to continue "criminal investigations involving the illegal sale, use, and diversion of controlled substances," which is precisely what has landed doctor after doctor in federal court.

ONCDP will spend $10 million this year to expand prescription monitoring beyond the 20 states that currently have such laws. Walters said he hoped to add 11 more states to the list this year. It will also invest in web-crawler technologies to monitor and track down Internet pharmacies, according to the strategy. And it will enlist the Food and Drug Administration to work along with the DEA to investigate drug diversion and internet pharmacies.

The crusade against prescription drug abuse is raising alarm bells among those concerned about its impact on the ability of people in real pain to get adequate treatment. Even the staid American Medical Association expressed concern. While the AMA praised the proposed crackdown on Internet pharmacies, it was much more cautious in embracing Walters' war on pill-poppers.

"Preventing prescription drug abuse is a vital goal; however, it is just as crucial to ensure that those in chronic pain have continued access to pain relief medications," said AMA trustee Rebecca Patchin, MD, in a statement Monday. "Some 75 million Americans experience chronic pain, and nearly one in 10 adults suffers from moderate to severe non-cancer pain. It is critical that in the rush to address drug abuse, we do not unintentionally discourage patients and physicians from appropriately treating chronic pain." The AMA would work with the federal government to seek "a balance between promoting pain relief and preventing prescription drug abuse," she added.

Other groups involved in pain relief work were not so confident of the federal government's good intentions. "It looks to me like the same strategy we've had all along," said AAPS head Dr. Jane Orient ( "This persecution of pain patients is something that should frighten us all," she told DRCNet. "Drug czar Walters talks about all these people abusing prescription drugs. I know of patients here in Tucson who were in pain and took drugs from someone else's prescription because they couldn't get theirs filled. Are they drug abusers?"

The impact of such a crackdown would have a disproportionate impact on those at the bottom of the social ladder, said Orient. "Even before this strategy was announced, there were patients who were desperate. This will only make it worse. If you are poor and black and unemployed and uninsured, you may not get access to any drugs. I've seen emergency rooms that have signs saying "We don't prescribe to frequent flyers," meaning folks who repeatedly show up in emergency rooms. But they go there because they have nowhere else to go," she said.

Orient was also leery of efforts to go after Internet pharmacies and to extend prescription monitoring programs. "It is probably unwise to get your prescriptions over the Internet from people you don't know," she conceded, "but for us, attacks on free enterprise are a problem. As with the prescription monitoring, they appear to be saying it is necessary to crack down on everyone's freedom to get at this problem. But they are trying to do the impossible. It's like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The fly gets away, but the sledgehammer does a lot of damage."

Siobhan Reynolds, Pain Relief Network
"We've seen this coming for a long time," said Siobhan Reynolds, director of the Pain Relief Network (, an organization of patients, family members, and others working to protect patients' access to adequate pain relief and physicians' ability to prescribe medically necessary amounts of opioid pain relievers. "The Justice Department and the DEA have come to believe that they regulate medicine. The drug czar is using this exaggerated and alarmist rhetoric about drug diversion in order to criminalize compassionate pain treatment," she told DRCNet. "They tried it against doctors in the criminal courts, but those cases are falling apart. This is a last-ditch effort to push their agenda and get prescription drug monitoring nationwide so they can have an endless supply of patients and doctors to prosecute for their latest version of the drug war."

PRN and associated groups had already been lobbying Congress to hold hearings on the prosecutions of pain doctors, Reynolds said. "We've been working hard to create an opposition so that we would be in a position to oppose moves like this. We are calling on both the House and the Senate Judiciary committees to hold hearings to look into all of this," she said. "I believe that the members of Congress simply don't understand what is going on. The kinds of measures Walters is proposing should shock the conscience. They invade the privacy of every ill American and further institutionalize the role of doctors as drug cops," Reynolds said. "Society will bear great costs for no good reason because of the government's hysteria over prescription opioids," she added.

4. Fight Looms Over Detroit Medical Marijuana Measure

Detroit voters will go to the polls in August to decide whether to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Michigan's largest city, and supporters and opponents alike are gathering their forces for what looks to be a hotly contested political battle. The Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care (, sponsor of the proposal, seeks to amend the city code sections dealing with controlled substances and drug paraphernalia to carve out an exclusion for medical marijuana users.

"The provisions of this division [of the city code] shall not apply to any individual possessing or using marijuana under the direction, prescription, supervision, or guidance of a physician or other licensed medical professional," says the amendment. Similar language would amend the city code's paraphernalia section to allow medical marijuana users to possess their medical marijuana delivery systems (pipes, bongs, rolling papers).

The Detroit Coalition has already garnered endorsements for the measure from some of the city's biggest political figures, including US Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D), mother of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, US Rep. John Conyers (D), and Detroit City Councilwomen Maryanne Mahaffey and JoAnn Watson. The coalition has also raised more than $35,000 (and counting) for its war chest, including funds from the Marijuana Policy Project ( said coalition head Tim Beck.

It will need every cent to fend off a challenge from the drug warriors, Beck said. "We are in a good position at this point, but that could change," he told DRCNet. "Detroit is demographically similar to Washington, DC, where voters passed a medical marijuana initiative with 69% of the vote, but the political dynamics are different now. In the days of Clinton there was no substantive opposition, but now, with drug czar John Walters, it's radically different. We have two local groups, the Partnership for a Drug-Free Detroit (PDFD) and the Empowerment Zone Coalition, Inc., that are receiving federal funds and are determined to fight this to the bitter end."

PDFD did not return DRCNet calls requesting comment, but one of its spokesmen, Andre Johnson, told the Detroit Free Press last week the partnership would actively oppose the measure by campaigning on talk radio shows, television, town hall meetings, and other means. Medical marijuana "is dangerous," Johnson said, adding that studies show that communities with medical marijuana laws have higher teen drug use rats.

PDFD is already mobilizing. Thanks to some undercover work, the Detroit Coalition has obtained a copy of a talking points memorandum prepared by PDFD and handed out to its activists. Under the heading "Reasons that the Medical Marijuana Initiative is BAD FOR DETROIT," the memo warns that the measure is "the latest attempt by drug legalizers to deceive people and exploit the suffering of sick people." It then goes on to lay out the reasons medical marijuana is not good for Detroit (and DRCNet reprints them verbatim so reformers can see what they are up against):

"1. IT IS DANGEROUS. According to the National Cancer Institute, inhaling marijuana smoke for any purpose is a health hazard, because it contains over 400 potential carcinogens. In fact, smoking marijuana delivers up to five times the amount of tars and carbon monoxide as tobacco cigarettes into the body, causing severe lung damage, which is not helpful to someone suffering from cancer or AIDS."

"2. IT HURTS AIDS PATIENTS. Studies by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reveal that HIV-positive marijuana smokers progress to full blown AIDS twice as fast as non smokers, and have an increased incidence of bacterial pneumonia."

"3. IT IS BASED ON POLITICS, NOT FACTS. Medical decisions should be made by medical experts, not voters. You wouldn't ask your neighbor to perform heart surgery, so it makes no sense to have our neighbors decide whether a substance such as marijuana has any medical benefit."

"4. IT IS DECEPTIVE. Marijuana is an intoxicant, therefore it is not surprising that sincere people will report relief of their symptoms when they smoke it. Heroin also makes people feel better, but no one would suggest using heroin to treat a sick person. There are effective means of pain relief which are not dangerous to the patient."

"5. IT CAN BE DONE SAFER WITH SCIENCE. Marinol, a synthetic form of the active ingredient in marijuana smoke, has been approved by the FDA as an anti-nausea agent for chemotherapy patients, as well as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients suffering weight loss. Unlike smoked marijuana, Marinol is a stable, well defined, safe substance. Scientists are currently working on other, safe chemical derivatives of marijuana. This scientific approach has worked with other substances. For example, aspirin was originally found in willow bark; scientists synthesize aspirin in laboratories instead of having patients chew willow bark or smoke a piece of a tree to cure a headache. Likewise, raw opium is dangerous, but medical science safely uses its derivatives in morphine, Demerol and Oxycontin."

"6. IT WILL SEND A DANGEROUS MIXED MESSAGE TO OUR CHILDREN, REVERSING POSITIVE TRENDS IN THIS COUNTRY. Since 1977 American teenage marijuana use has fallen by 39%. By comparison, a recent Health Canada poll showed that since Canadian officials have begun to discuss decriminalizing marijuana, marijuana use by teens in Canada has climbed to a level not seen in 25 years."

"7. IT WILL LEAD TO ABUSE OF OTHER DRUGS. Marijuana is truly a gateway drug. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found teenagers who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who do not."

"8. IT IS NOT SUPPORTED BY CREDIBLE MEDICAL EXPERTS. Respected medical organizations have stated that smoked marijuana is not safe or effective as medicine. All of the following organizations OPPOSE making smoked marijuana available for medical use: The American Medical Association, The American Cancer Society, The National Multiple Sclerosis Association, the American Academy of Opthalmology, The National Eye Institute, The National Cancer Institute, The National Institute of Dental Research, The National Institute of Dental Research, The National Institute Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke."

PDFD's "facts" are, of course, open to serious challenge, and the Detroit Coalition will address each of those points, but in the final analysis the vote will be won or lost not on the science but on appeals to emotion, Beck said. "The main mode of attack will be emotion-based; we expect to hear a lot of talk about protecting children and billionaire legalizers, and maybe even about CIA plots to drug black America, he said. "We're going to have to turn that around, and we'll resort to the same sort of emotional appeals. For instance, we have an ad with an African-American woman in a wheelchair and we have her saying, "You wouldn't think about taking my wheel chair, why would you want to take my medicine?"

The fate of the Detroit ballot measure could be a bellwether for other marijuana reform measures set for the November ballot, Beck said. "We are assuming that the drug war crowd will do everything it can to defeat us in August so they can set the stage for defeating statewide initiatives in November. I think we have a real fight on our hands."

5. UN Drug Report Criticizes Safe Injection Sites

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) issued its annual report on drug use and drug trafficking across the globe Wednesday. While it grudgingly approved of some harm reduction measures, it pronounced others in violation of international laws, and it worried repeatedly about a perceived softening of official postures toward drug use as it ignored gross violations of human rights committed in the name of drug prohibition.

The report issued some new recommendations on dealing with youth, drugs, and violence at the micro-level, but for the most part merely noted the evidence of massive drug use and drug trafficking more than four decades after the signing of the United Nations Single Convention on Drugs in 1961 and recommended staying the course.

Along with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Bureau of Narcotic Drugs, the INCB is part of a global anti-drug bureaucracy established by the Single Convention and enhanced by new conventions in 1971 and 1981. Its annual report gives the INCB, which is dominated by US-style prohibitionists, a handy vehicle for praising governments for intensifying anti-drug efforts and criticizing those who dare to stray from the flock.

This year, Canada was in the bull's eye. The opening of a government-sponsored safe injection facility in Vancouver aroused the INCB's ire. Such sites are sites "a grave concern," the board said, reiterating that they "violate the provisions of the international drug control conventions." The conventions require that controlled substances be used only for medical or scientific reasons, and safe injection sites don't qualify because they are "facilities where injecting drug abusers can inject drugs acquired illicitly," the INCB explained. "The board remains concerned about this development and urges the Canadian government to comply with its obligations under the international drug control conventions."

But Vancouver authorities were having none of it. Mayor Larry Campbell, a staunch supporter of harm reduction in general and the safe injection site in particular, told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation Thursday that the INCB "had no credibility in a country that is taking a progressive approach to drug addiction," while Vancouver police spokeswoman Constable Sarah Bloor added that police supported the site. "We believe this is one type of initiative that can move forward," she said.

The INCB also attacked another harm reduction practice, testing drugs for purity for consumers, as has been the case with ecstasy in rave and nightclub scenes in Europe and the United States. Sometimes such testing has been done with government approval, as was the case in Holland; other times it has been done independently by harm reduction groups such as Dance Safe ( in the US.

Warning potential consumers that their drugs may be impure or adulterated "conveyed the wrong message on the risks of drug abuse and provided a false sense of safety for drug abusers," said the INCB. And that's a no-no because it "run[s] contrary to drug abuse prevention efforts required by governments" under the conventions. The board did give a qualified okay to drug maintenance and substitution regimes and needle exchange programs, but worried that the latter "should not promote and/or facilitate drug abuse."

What little acceptance the INCB showed for harm reduction was not nearly enough for the Senlis Council (, a grouping of European politicians, academics, and non-governmental organizations seeking innovative global drug policies. Noting that the INCB report had highlighted the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Russia and Eastern Europe, but had only given grudging acceptance to needle exchange programs and rejected safe injection sites, the Senlis Council criticized the board as an "impeding" the fight against HIV/AIDS. "The rigid political stance of the INCB and the United Nations drug control regime is irresponsible," said Emmanuel Reinert, the council's executive director, in a statement released Wednesday.

The INCB also worried about trends in Western Europe. The board warned against "ambiguity" in European drug policies and practices, complaining that "authorities do not take measures against incitement of drug abuse, and drug abuse may even be promoted through certain media or other channels." And it expressed concern about the spread of cannabis cultivation and use in Europe and the "relaxation of controls."

There was no ambiguity in Thailand's drug policy last year, where an estimated 2500 people were killed by state agents as part of that country's war on drugs, and neither was there any criticism from the INCB for the Thai regime's brutality. That lack of concern prompted the Senlis Council to blast the INCB for favoring brute repression over "the core United Nations universal values of compassion, freedom, human rights and the continual fight for a better world."

The INCB implicitly recognized, however, that repression sometimes has unintended consequences. "The illicit cultivation of coca bush has no regard for international borders," the report noted as it warned of balloon effect increases in coca cultivation not only in traditional coca countries such as Bolivia and Peru, but also in Ecuador, and Venezuela.

And it noted the phoenix-like rise of Afghanistan to renewed prominence among the planet's opium producing countries, even if its analysis is arguably off the mark. "Despite the armed intervention and political change in Afghanistan and the fight against terror, illicit cultivation of and trafficking in opiates has grown, which may result in more political instability," wrote INCB, although it may have been more accurate if it had begun that sentence with "because of" instead of "despite." In any case, it was certainly accurate in its conclusion: "Opium cultivation in Afghanistan continued on an even larger scale in 2003."

Another year, another INCB report. As it is every year with the INCB, much has happened but little has changed.

Visit to read the International Narcotics Control Board Annual Report 2003 online.

6. Screenings! "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" to Air Around the Country March 29th to April 12th -- Host One in Your Home or Community or School!

Over the past few months, DRCNet readers have ordered roughly 400 copies from us of the Flex Your Rights (FyR) video "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters." From March 29th to April 12th, civil rights enthusiasts around the country will be holding screenings of BUSTED at homes, campuses and theaters around the country. And the DVD copies that some of you have requested will be ready on time for them, with DVD and VHS copies both having great new cover artwork.

In order to encourage you to participate in this nationwide set of events, we are now offering copies of BUSTED with donations of $25, down from the previous $35 level. Also, if you simply can't afford even $25, but will definitely be holding a screening, we will send you a copy for a donation of $15. And if you are with an organization, we can arrange for you to be sent additional copies of BUSTED, to be sold on the occasion of your screening and paid for or returned after it. So please visit to make the most generous contribution you can and to order your copies of BUSTED today!

Your donation will also help DRCNet (and Flex Your Rights) navigate the troubled waters of our nation's struggling economy. Members are more important to organizations like ours than ever before! You can also donate by check or money order, by sending them to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Visit to print out a form to send in with your donation or to give by credit card today. Consider signing up for a monthly donation too! Contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to support our educational work, make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation, same address -- the portion of your donation that you can deduct will be reduced by the retail value of the gifts you request.

For further information on BUSTED screenings, please contact FyR executive director (and former DRCNet HEA staff member) Steven Silverman at [email protected], or visit FyR at online. Lastly, if you never read Phil Smith's review of BUSTED published in Drug War Chronicle after BUSTED first came out, you can check it out at online.


"Our precious constitutional rights are worth only the paper they are written on unless we understand and exercise them. BUSTED makes an important contribution toward transforming the Constitution's paper promises into real rights for real people."
-- Nadine Strossen, president, American Civil Liberties Union

"BUSTED provides effective instruction in how to benefit from basic constitutional rights. It deserves wide distribution."
-- Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution fellow; Nobel laureate economist

"BUSTED teaches that people have precious inherent rights under our Constitution and should never feel guilty when exercising these rights during police encounters."
-- Joseph D. McNamara, former police chief of San Jose, CA

"Most nonviolent drug offenders would have avoided my courtroom if they had seen BUSTED."
-- Robert W. Sweet, US District Court Judge

"As a journalist covering the war on drugs, I've often been surprised at how readily people consent to searches. By clearly explaining and vividly illustrating the dynamics of encounters with the police, BUSTED should help people keep their calm -- and their freedom."
-- Jacob Sullum, senior editor, Reason Magazine; author, "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use"

"Chronic disregard for civil rights is tearing apart the fabric of America. Flex Your Rights has hit the nail on the head in this hard hitting instructional video."
-- Mike Gray, author, "Drug Crazy"; chairman, Common Sense for Drug Policy

"BUSTED is the only video I know of that is providing clear and candid information about how to 'just say no' to intimidating police searches. Parents, teachers, and concerned citizens across the US should use BUSTED to protect young people, who are often targeted by police, from the greatest harm of using marijuana -- arrest."
-- Robert Kampia, executive director, Marijuana Policy Project

"We should not be put in the position of trying to protect individuals from themselves, because that is when we police start violating people's constitutional rights."
-- Jack A. Cole, executive director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

"If enough people see BUSTED it will alter the balance of power on America's streets forever."
-- Nora Callahan, executive director, November Coalition

7. DRCNet Merchandise Special Extended

Late last month DRCNet announced a special for the last week of February on our t-shirts and other gift items. This week's good news is that we've decided to continue this offer through the rest of March! DRCNet's t-shirts, mugs, mousepads -- and our two new items, ink stamps and strobe lights -- are therefore available now as premiums for gifts of significantly lower size than the usual amounts. Donate, place your order, then get ready to wear and display the stop-sign shaped logo prominently among your friends and in your community. Visit to take advantage of these or any of our other offers:

  • Donate $25 or more and receive a complimentary t-shirt;
  • Donate $20 or more and receive a mug;
  • Donate $15 or more and receive a mousepad;
  • Donate $20 or more and receive a red ink stamp;
  • Donate $15 or more and receive a red strobe light/bike reflector;
  • Add the prices together to request any number of any or all of the above, and make a note in the comment box at the bottom of the donation form to let us know exactly what you'd like.
  • Make a donation of any amount, no matter how small, and we'll send you a button and sticker.
Your donation -- which can also be sent by mail to DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036 -- will help get the message out in another, important way. As you may already know, recently we reactivated our online "write-to-Congress" grassroots lobbying service. This was made possible by a generous $2,000 donation from a long-time supporter of the organization. But to keep it going past March 31st, we need your help. More generally, we need continued support, from more of our readers, if we are to avoid the budgetary problems that plagued DRCNet during much of 2003. Please help us help you send the drug reform message to Congress in 2004 and beyond, by visiting and making the most generous contribution that you can -- the reduced amounts listed above, if that's what you're able, or $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or more for one of our higher membership levels if you can. Consider signing up for a monthly credit card donation while you're on the site.

Please note that donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to support our educational work, make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation, same address; choosing any gift items will reduce the portion of your gift that is tax-deductible by up to $20 each. Again, visit to join, donate and get your free button and sticker or other drug reform items today. Thank you for your support.

8. Newsbrief: Players in Haiti Revolt Linked to Drug Traffic

The government of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide fell Sunday morning after the US and France stood aside rather than defend a democratically-elected president from an armed rebellion. While the US government has criticized Aristide's drug enforcement record for years, even suggesting sotto voce that drug corruption "reached the highest levels" of the Haitian government, it is now becoming evident that the men who rose against him are even dirtier than the US accused Aristide of being.

As the Haitian economy went into freefall amidst political gridlock between Aristide and an intransigent elite opposition backed by funds from the National Endowment for Democracy's International Republican Institute, the country became an increasingly important transshipment center for cocaine from South America destined for the US and Europe. With a weak, underpaid police force (and no army), Haiti was both easy and corruptible, according to US and foreign diplomatic sources cited this week by the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle in separate reports.

"They were all on the payrolls," one unnamed senior US law enforcement official told the Tribune, adding, "There's nothing else to be involved in there if you want money."

US displeasure with Aristide's drug fighting efforts is also a matter of public record. The US refused to certify Haiti as cooperating in the war on drugs for the last two years. In recent years, the US has revoked travel visas for at least six Aristide officials because of their suspected involvement in the drug trade.

But with Aristide now cooling his heels in the Central African Republic, the question of his or his government's culpability in the drug trade is of less interest than the question of the narco-involvement of the men who overthrew him as the US stood by. The armed rebels were led by two men, Guy Philippe and Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who are both accused of involvement in the drug trade.

Philippe "became involved in narcotics smuggling in the 1990s while he was a leading Haitian police official," the Tribune reported "experts and diplomats" as saying. The Chronicle repeated the charge, citing internal documents from a regional governmental organization adding that Philippe's second-in-command, Gilbert Dragon was also involved in trafficking.

The other leader of the armed revolt, Chamblain was a member of the FRAPH, a paramilitary death squad that murdered hundreds of Aristide supporters after he was overthrown in a 1991 military coup. FRAPH was allegedly bankrolled by former Haitian Police Chief Joseph Michel Francois, the Tribune reported. Francois was indicted in 1997 on charges he headed a smuggling ring responsible for delivering 33 tons of cocaine to the US during the 1990s. He remains a fugitive.

Both Chamblain and Philippe denied the charges, the papers reported.

9. Newsbrief: With Vermont Medical Marijuana Bill Pending, Burlington Voters Send a Message

Voters in Burlington, Vermont, overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure Tuesday urging the state legislature to support a pending medical marijuana bill. Asked, "Shall the voters of the City of Burlington urge the State Legislature to exempt seriously ill Vermonters from state arrest and prosecution for the medical use of marijuana in the privacy of their homes, with the guidance of their doctors, if registered with the state?" the voters replied "yes" by a margin of 82% to 18%.

A medical marijuana bill, S. 76, which would protect patients from arrest, passed the Vermont Senate last year but has been stalled in the House Health and Welfare Committee. The Marijuana Policy Project, which has been active in the state, identified Rep. Bill Keogh (D-Chittenden-3-5) as the key vote on the committee.

"The voters of Burlington have sent an unmistakable message tonight: They don't want seriously ill people facing arrest and jail for using medical marijuana," said Neal Levine, MPP's director of state policies. "We are optimistic that Bill Keogh and his House colleagues will listen to the voters and pass the medical marijuana bill without further delay."

10. Newsbrief: Iowa Guardsmen Home from Iraq Face Drug Discipline

The Iowa National Guard sent 21 soldiers to Iraq despite positive drug tests that normally would have kept them home. Now, after they survived months of service in the war zone, the Guard wants to throw them out with dishonorable discharges, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Register unearthed a memo from Iowa National Guard judge advocate general Lt. Col. Michael Kuehn notifying commanders that positive drug test results would be "held in suspense" until soldiers arrive back from Iraq, when the Guard will begin steps to discharge them "other than honorably" in every case. "Regardless of whether they come back a war hero, served admirably or were a dirtball, they'll be processed for separation," said Kuehn.

Of the 2,158 Iowa Guardsman called up through last April, 37 tested positive for drugs, but the results were not known before the soldiers left the state. Sixteen soldiers were not mobilized because their tests came back positive, the Register reported. The Iowa troops in Iraq are assigned to medical treatment units and the supply convoys that have been the target of frequent attacks by Iraqi insurgents.

One Iowa Guard official told the Register he hoped commanders would take troops' battlefield service into account. "They have made sacrifices. They've performed their mission over there in an outstanding manner," said Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the Iowa Guard's adjutant general. "I would hope that their commanders take that into consideration."

11. Newsbrief: Thailand to Launch New Drug War This Month, Shrugs off US Human Rights Criticism

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is at it again. It was only last December that he declared "victory" in his version of the war on drugs, after a year-long campaign that left more than 2,500 people killed, most probably by Thai police, according to Thai and international human rights groups. But according to Associated Press and Reuters reports, Thaksin used his weekly radio address to the nation Saturday to announce a fresh offensive, aimed at Bangkok and other urban centers, where critics say last year's crusade has failed to dampen demand.

Thaksin's new call to arms came just days after the US State Department issued its annual human rights, noting that Thailand's record had "worsened with regard to extra-judicial killings' and arbitrary arrests." The Thai government has claimed that only 42 out of more than 2,500 killings between February and April of last year were done by police. The government's official position is that more than 1,300 killings it called drug-related were caused by fighting among drug gangs. But according to the State Department report, police were involved in some killing and the Thai government "failed to investigate and prosecute vigorously those who committed such abuses, contributing to a climate of impunity."

The Unites States is "a useless friend," Thaksin angrily retorted. "I am very upset and annoyed by the report," he told reporters. "What kind of friends are they? They are friends who damage the reputation of their friends every year. What would they do if Thailand issued the same report annually? These kinds of friends are useless friends," he said.

The looming crackdown will target methamphetamine pills known as ya-ba (crazy medicine) manufactured by factories controlled by the United Wa States Army across the border in neighboring Myanmar and imported by the millions annually.

Visit to read the State Department's annual human rights report online.

12. Newsbrief: Doctors, Scientists Urge Media to End "Crack Baby" Myth

Thirty prominent doctors, scientists, and psychological researchers have signed an open letter urging the mass media to stop using terms such as "crack baby" and "crack addicted baby," as well as similar terms, such as "ice baby" and "meth baby." The terms have no scientific validity and unfairly stigmatize the children to whom they are applied, the researchers said in a February 25 letter sent to the Washington Post, the Charleston (South Carolina) Post & Courier, and the Amarillo Globe, among other media offenders.

"We are deeply disappointed that American and international media continues to use a term that not only lacks any scientific basis but endangers and disenfranchises the children to whom it is applied," said the letter, whose signatories included Emmalee Bandstra, MD, director of the University of Miami School of Medicine's Perinatal Chemical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Program; Dr. Marjorie Beegley, professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School, Mary Behnke, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine; Dr. Maureen Black, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and Elizabeth Brown, MD, director of neonatology at the Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center -- and that's only the B's.

"Throughout almost 20 years of research, none of us has identified a recognizable condition, syndrome or disorder that should be termed 'crack baby," said the letter. "Some of our published research finds subtle effects of prenatal cocaine exposure in selected developmental domains, while other of our research publications do not. This is in contrast to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which has a narrow and specific set of criteria for diagnosis."

"The term "crack addicted baby" is no less defensible," the letter continued. "Addiction is a technical term that refers to compulsive behavior that continues in spite of adverse consequences. By definition, babies cannot be "addicted" to crack or anything else. In utero physiologic dependence on opiates (not addiction), known as Neonatal Narcotic Abstinence Syndrome, is readily diagnosed, but no such symptoms have been found to occur following prenatal cocaine exposure."

The letter pointed to recent usages of the terms in the Washington Post ("Some of the children just had speech delays; others were crack babies" -- November 9, 2003) and the Amarillo Globe-News ("Woman Indicted in 'Crack Baby' Case" -- February 4, 2004), but said the signatories were inspired to action by a New Jersey case where the "crack baby" label was used by some to explain away a couple's apparent starvation of thee adopted foster children. The letter scored the New York Times for adopting the terminology both in quoting others and in its own reporting ("Michael, the youngest, was born a crack baby before being taken in" -- October 28, 2003).

Visit to read the open letter and complete list of signatories online.

13. Newsbrief: Canadian New Democratic Party Calls for Regulation of Marijuana

Canada's current third national party, the New Democrats (, is now calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, although in its new issue statement on marijuana it dares not actually use the L-word. The party's repositioning was foreshadowed by NDP head Jack Layton, who in a November interview on Pot-TV ( called for legalization of the weed, and in party social critic Member of Parliament Libby Davies' critique last month of the ruling Liberals' marijuana decriminalization bill.

"Canada should move marijuana out of the criminal legal framework and eliminate punitive measures for responsible adult marijuana use," reads the party's new position on marijuana, announced Monday. "The NDP believes the federal government must move beyond decriminalization and examine and introduce a non-punitive, rule-based, approach to adult marijuana use with an emphasis on prevention, education and health promotion."

The position statement on marijuana also hints at a broader anti-prohibitionist approach to drug policy. "It is not necessary to use the criminal law to discourage harmful forms of drug use," the statement said. "In many cases it is counterproductive."

Marijuana regulation should be based on a strong system of rules about age, impaired driving, and "disruptive illegal industrial grow-ops," the statement elaborated, and should have a strong public health component. But Canadian marijuana policy should not follow the lead of or bow to pressure from the US, the statement said. If the US is to be an example, said the NDP, it is "an example of a country with a disastrously failed drug policy -- a failed policy because of its perennial reliance on prohibition."

The party has been attracting marijuana activists since Layton spoke out in November, telling Pot-TV viewers they should join the party to help create "a legal environment in which people can enjoy their marijuana in the peace and quiet of their own home or in a cafe." Activists from around Canada have formed an anti-prohibitionist wing ( within the party, whose social democratic and trade union bases are not necessarily as sympathetic to or interested in marijuana law reform as the leadership. And the British Columbia Marijuana Party (, headed by Vancouver pot seed entrepreneur Marc Emery, is urging its members to get involved with NDP's nomination process for federal elections to ensure that anti-prohibitionist candidates win nominations, Emery told DRCNet.

Currently, with only 14 Members of Parliament, the federal NDP is a distant fourth behind the ruling Liberals, who hold a commanding majority, the Conservatives, and the Quebec-based Bloc Quebecois. But most political observers expect Prime Minister Paul Martin to call parliamentary elections within the next two or three months, and the Liberals have been sinking in the polls because of corruption scandals. While the Conservatives have been the primary beneficiary of the Liberals' woes, the NDP has also seen its numbers rise. Some enthusiasts dare to envision a federal election result where the Liberals lose an outright majority and are forced to seek the NDP's support to form a government. Could Canada have a government one of whose member parties supports legalizing pot? Stay tuned.

To read the NDP position statement on marijuana online, visit:

14. Newsbrief: Jamaica Ganja Decrim Moves Toward Parliament Vote

The Jamaican parliamentary Joint Select Committee examining the recommendations of the National Commission on Ganja has accepted its call for the decriminalization of marijuana possession, and the matter will now come before parliament for a vote. The committee vote came February 25, the Jamaica Observer reported.

The vote before the Jamaican House could come in April, the Observer noted, and members will not be subject to party discipline. Instead of being expected to vote with their party, as is normally the case in parliamentary systems, members will be allowed to have a "conscience vote."

The National Commission headed by Dr. Barry Chevannes recommended nearly two years ago that "the relevant laws be amended so that ganja be decriminalized for the private, personal use of small quantities by adults." The parliamentary committee rejected the commission's recommendation that the sacramental use of ganja be recognized, in part because such use would take place in public, and insisted that any public use of ganja remain illegal.

The committee fended off efforts by Solicitor-General Michael Hylton to frighten it with fears of violating international drug control treaties and an effort by one senator to retreat from decriminalization to reclassifying possession as a minor offense.
In an editorial the next day supporting decriminalization, the Observer asked for clarification on public use. "The truth is that if this is not carefully handled it could end up victimizing the existing victims. Many poor urban youth hardly consider hanging on the street corner in their communities as being an overly public endeavor," the newspaper noted. "Indeed, given the living conditions of many, being on the street is important social space. To put in bluntly, there is hardly anything private and personal about the tenement or a shack on the gully bank."

One pro-reform member, Rep. Delroy Chuck, at least partially addressed that issue. At his insistence, the committee adopted the following recommendation: "The Dangerous Drugs Act be amended so that the use of small quantities of marijuana in public be made a minor offence to be tried in the petty session of the Resident Magistrate's Court." The committee also decided that marijuana possession offenses should not be included in a person's criminal record.

15. This Week in History

March 9, 1982: The largest cocaine seizure ever to date raises US awareness of the Medellin cartel. The seizure of 3,906 pounds of cocaine, valued at over $100 million wholesale, from a Miami International Airport hanger permanently alters US law enforcement's approach towards the drug trade. They realize Colombian traffickers must be working together because no single trafficker could be behind a shipment this large.

March 10, 1984: By tracking the illegal sale of massive amounts of ether to Colombia, the DEA and Colombian police discover Tranquilandia, a laboratory operation deep in the Colombian jungle. In the subsequent bust, law enforcement officials destroy 14 laboratory complexes, which contain 13.8 metric tons of cocaine, 7 airplanes, and 11,800 drums of chemicals, conservatively estimated at $1.2 billion. This bust confirms the consolidation of the Medellin cartel's manufacturing operation.

16. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 11, 10:00am-2:00pm, Washington, DC, "Arms, Drugs, and Terrorism in the Western Hemisphere," symposium sponsored by the OAS Office of External Relations and the Center for Latin American Issues at The George Washington University. In the Ruben Darío Conference Room, OAS Building of the Americas, 1889 F St., NW, 8th Floor, RSVP by March 8 to (202) 458-3720, fax to (202) 458-6319, or [email protected].

March 12, 8:00pm, Seattle, WA, "Drug War Film Festival," featuring Crimes of Compassion (BC and Vancouver Island) and Final Days (about the LACRC). Sponsored by the 911 Media Arts Center and the BC Compassion Club Society, $6 or $4 for 911 members. At 117 Yale Ave N., call (206) 682-6552 or visit for further information.

March 24, 7:30-8:30pm, New York, NY, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. At Barnes & Noble, 4 Astor Place in the East Village, visit for further information.

March 25, 9:30am, Philadelphia, PA, Drug War Reality Tour, "a journey through ground zero in the Drug War and the War against the Poor." Sponsored by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, registration fee charged with sliding scale available. Meet in front of the KWRU office at 2825 N. 5th St., limited to 45 seats, early reservations recommended. For further information contact the KWRU Office at (215) 203-1945 or [email protected], Arun Prabhakaran at (2150 888-0889 or [email protected], or visit online.

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.

March 29, 6:00pm, New Haven, CT, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. At Yale Bookstore, 77 Broadway, visit for further information.

April 1-3, Houston, TX, "Breaking the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs," conference of Drug Policy Alliance, contact [email protected] or (888) 361-6338 or visit for further information.

April 2, 7:00-9:00pm, New York, NY, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. At West Side YMCA, 5 West 63rd Street, visit for further information.

April 5, 6:00-8:00pm, Harlem, NY, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. At Hue-Man bookstore, 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd., sponsored by Writer's Voice of the West Side, visit for further information.

April 8, 7:00pm, Washington, DC, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. At Politics & Prose bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, visit or for further information.

April 15, 1:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Life on the Outside," book talk with authors Elaine Bartlett, former Rockefeller drug law prisoner and reform activist and Jennifer Gonnerman, journalist with the Village Voice. Luncheon address at a conference organized by Rutgers University's Center for Mental Health Services and Criminal Justice Research. At the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel, visit or 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.

August 21-22, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, "Seattle Hempfest." For further information, e-mail [email protected], visit or call (206) 781-5734.

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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