Media Racial Profiling stopthedrugwar.org
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search

Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #328, 3/12/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

subscribe for FREE now! ---- make a donation ---- search

Host a Screening of "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," March 29th to April 12th -- or just get your own copy at the new reduced rate! See below or visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/screenings.shtml for info or http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to donate and order.

StoptheDrugWar.org gift items special offer extended! See below, visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/328/special.shtml to learn more or visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to contribute and get your t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, ink stamps, strobe lights, buttons or other cool and educational items.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. A Message from the Executive Director About Our Drug Czar
  2. Fallout from Police Drug War Killings Roils Communities
  3. Despite Federal Push for Student Drug Testing, Schools Not Jumping on the Bandwagon -- Yet
  4. March Madness for SSDP: Drug Czars, Nervous Narcs, and More Resolutions
  5. Russia's New Drug Law in Effect: No Jail for Drug Users, Greater Penalties for Drug Traffickers
  6. Dutch to Expand Free Heroin Program
  7. 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!
  8. DRCNet StoptheDrugWar.org Merchandise Special Extended
  9. Newsbrief: A Triple-Shot of Good News for Tulia
  10. Newsbrief: Californians Pay Billions to Lock Up Nonviolent "Three-Strikes" Offenders for Decades, Study Says
  11. Newsbrief: Fat & Sloth Kill 20 Times More People than Illegal Drugs, Study Finds
  12. Newsbrief: European Drug Agency Report Finds Safe Injection Sites Achieve Goals
  13. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  14. Radio: David Borden to be Guest on "His Side With Glenn Sacks," LA, Seattle & Online, Sunday, March 14
  15. This Week in History
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. A Message from the Executive Director About Our Drug Czar

- David Borden, 3/12/04, [email protected]

Dear Drug War Chronicle Reader:

This past Tuesday night, as part of a group organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, I attended a speech by US drug czar John Walters at The George Washington University here in DC. You may remember that our lead article from last week's issue discussed the warping in this year's "National Drug Control Strategy" document of the presentation of federal drug budget numbers to create an appearance of equality between enforcement and interdiction vs. treatment and prevention spending (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/budget2005.shtml). In reality the budget split is still roughly 2-1 in favor of enforcement. ONDCP created a 1-1 appearance by omitting the cost of incarcerating drug offenders from the budget numbers. (!)

I was amazed by how brazenly Walters not only stood by, but bragged about, his budget deception. We didn't even have to wait for his speech to hear about it. It was built into the introduction a student gave for him, which was almost certainly provided by his office, in which she listed among Walters' accomplishments the reworking of the budget presentation to be more honest or accurate.

I raised the issue with Walters during the question-and-answer session following his speech. His answer doesn't pass the straight face test, though remarkably he did manage to keep a straight face. Walters' line was that there are some budget items that are not exclusively focused on drugs. He brought up the example of the Headstart program, for which the federal government provides some drug prevention money. He then pointed out that some drug offenders are also convicted of other crimes and are sentenced to prison time for all of them. In order to make the budget reporting more "honest," Walters stated, they now omit all drug spending, be it enforcement or demand reduction, from the budget entirely.

Those of you who have been with DRCNet for awhile remember that we frequently and enthusiastically pointed out the numerous lies and distortions perpetrated by the former drug czar, retired general Barry McCaffrey. But Walters this month has taken it to a new level. During the Clinton administration, McCaffrey and staffers would frequently exclaim that "empowering young people to stay off drugs is the number one priority of the National Drug Control Strategy."

An examination of the Strategy document revealed that there was a set of five priorities, appearing on a certain page, which included prevention programs for kids and which listed such programs first. But a look at the numbers showed that the government's "number one priority" actually was receiving the smallest amount of money out of all the priorities they listed. But now, so much for spin. Walters has actually altered the numbers themselves! And he went further to alter the presentation of the budget numbers for previous years too. Does the word "Orwellian" come to mind?

One of the ways that Drug War Chronicle plays an important role in drug policy reform is in producing a serious journalistic product to expose such shenanigans and help enlighten the mainstream media's coverage of the issue. When we discuss important drug policy issues such as this one with reporters from major media outlets (as we are in this case, in fact), having an in-depth article on the subject to hand to them or e-mail them a link for makes it a lot easier to get the point across. And that article having been written by us, and sent to tens of thousands of our own subscribers, gives us credibility with them. Contributions by readers such as yourself make up a major component of Drug War Chronicle's funding. So thank you for enabling us to make a difference!

I have a little more to say about the event itself. First, one of the attendees raised the issue of the Higher Education Act drug provision, a law which delays or denies federal financial aid for college to students with drug convictions, no matter how minor. Walters responded by discussing how the law's author, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), believes his law has been misinterpreted by the Dept. of Education and is being applied to students for whom it wasn't intended.

Souder does indeed say that; he claims that the law was not meant to penalize people whose drug convictions were in the past. Hence, his new legislation -- which Walters pointed out may pass during this session of Congress -- would limit the applicability of the law to those who were in school and receiving aid at the time their offense was committed. There is nothing in the text of the law to back him up on the idea that that was what he intended; it's just not there. Who knows, maybe he did intend it that way and did an extremely poor job of writing his bill. Though it's important to note that the law in the new form he wants would still punish people whose offenses were in the past -- for multiple convictions even the distant past -- if they were in school and receiving aid during those past times. It's also important to note how valuable in PR terms having his own "fix" to the bill has been for Rep. Souder, who can purport to be the "reformer" fixing a bill that he wrote himself.

But back to Tuesday night. Walters, discussing the Souder reform, did not stick to the facts about the legislation. Walters actually said the Souder fix would limit it to drug traffickers and other major figures, not possessors or other low-level offenders. Which simply isn't true -- the new Souder version of the law would still apply it to any drug offender, no matter how minor, even first-time possession -- so long as the individual was in school at the time of the offense. In short, Walters wildly overstated the Souder side in a way that even Souder never did!

Third, one of my colleagues, Doug McVay, brought up the issue of a bill passed by the Virginia legislature, now on its way to Gov. Perry's desk, which if signed will restrict access to methadone maintenance programs by limiting their locations. McVay asked Walters we he didn't come out against the bill; methadone is the most important treatment for heroin addiction available in the United States.

Walters got very defensive, clearly not happy to be criticized on an issue that he sees himself as supporting. He said that he wasn't aware of the bill, that he can't run every state, and that he isn't responsible for every bill offered by every conservative in every state legislature just because he's a conservative. He said if a member of the legislature or the media had asked him, he would have said he thinks it's a mistake. Those remarks found their way into the Roanoke Times this morning (http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story164050.html), with more of them from other official ONDCP spokespersons, prompting defensive remarks by the law's sponsors.

ONDCP has been supportive of methadone maintenance, under drug czars of both the present and the immediate past, and has taken some steps to encourage the opening up of the therapy to more people. But they've only gone to a certain point in how hard they've been willing to work for it. One of the great failings of the drug court system is that many, perhaps most drug courts don't accept methadone as a treatment to satisfy their requirements. Though most drug courts operate at the state or local level, the federal government is a major funder of them. ONDCP therefore has substantial influence in this area, and drug courts figure prominently in the Strategy document under the "Healing America's Drug Users" section. But how can drug courts do a good job of healing users if they ignore the overwhelming medical and scientific evidence favoring methadone and refuse to allow it! Yet ONDCP has evidently not sought to move the drug courts significantly in that direction.

Several years ago, during Barry McCaffrey's tenure, McVay's long-time employer, Common Sense for Drug Policy, ran an ad featuring McCaffrey with a Pinocchio nose, listing five completely false statements he had made on drug policy issues, plus one correct one -- on methadone -- followed with the tag line, "One Out of Six is Not Good Enough!" (http://www.csdp.org/ads/pinocchio.htm). Well six years later, I think one out of six is still not good enough, especially when that one only gets half or less the effort. Not enough of a reason to give them a pass on the other five!

I believe that Walters has gone too far this time and is going to get called on it. With your participation and support, DRCNet can help make that happen. Thank you for being a part of that effort.


2. Fallout from Police Drug War Killings Roils Communities

In recent months, the Drug War Chronicle has reported on apparently unjustifiable police killings of civilians in Columbus, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; and Oakland, California. The past couple of weeks has seen movement toward holding the police shooters to account in all three cases. As students of drug policy are aware, police officers seldom face even departmental disciplinary actions in these cases; winning an indictment is even more rare, and a conviction rarer yet. But in Columbus, Louisville, and Oakland, community activists and elected officials are working to ensure that justice is done.

On the face of it, all three killings appear shocking and uncalled for. On December 10, Kenneth Walker, a 39-year-old black professional and family man, was riding in an SUV with friends when their vehicle was pulled over by police doing a drug investigation (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/316/columbus.shtml). Walker ended up dead with a bullet wound to the head. No drugs or weapons were found in the vehicle.

Three weeks later, on January 3, 19-year-old Michael Newby, a black resident of Louisville's predominantly black West Side, was killed by a Louisville police officer during an undercover drug buy (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/319/threeshots.shtml). Officer McKenzie Mattingly said he shot Newby in self-defense during a scuffle, but the fact that Newby was shot in the back has raised numerous questions, as well as tempers in the black community -- some of whose members engaged in a mini-riot, breaking the windows of the police chief's office and tangling with riot police, a week after the shooting.

Then, on February 17, Oakland resident Rudolfo Cardenas was and killed by a California narcotics officer attempting to serve a parole violation warrant (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/326/wrongman.shtml). But Cardenas wasn't the man the cops were looking for. The 43-year-old ex-con just happened to pass by the house targeted by police and fled for unknown reasons. Police chased him in vehicles and then on foot. Cardenas died in an alleyway, shot in the back repeatedly. No drugs or weapons were found, although police initially claimed he pointed a digital scale at them.

All three cases have generated heated local controversy, angry protests, and racial tension, and now they are generating concrete results. Last Friday, Officer Mattingly was indicted on murder charges. He was arraigned Monday and remains on paid administrative leave with the Louisville Police Department.

"This is the first time a police officer ever been indicted in Louisville for shooting and killing someone," said the Rev. Louis Coleman, a civil rights veteran who heads the Louisville Justice Center. "In the past five years, seven black men have been shotand killed, including one who was killed while he was handcuffed in a police car, but the commonwealth attorney had not seen fit to bring an indictment against a police officer," he told DRCNet. "This is not a new issue in Louisville. The community here has taken issue with the police department and its lack of accountability since the 1970s," he said. "We've been protesting every week in front of the mayor's office and the police chief's office for the last 74 weeks," he added.

"Just because you have a badge on your chest doesn't give you the right to just shoot anybody," said prosecutor David Stengel said at a news conference announcing the indictment. The fact that Newby was shot in the back while fleeing raised concerns, he said. "It's a very difficult situation, being out there and making a split-second judgment," Stengel said. "The fact that he (Mattingly) was indicted for murder doesn't necessarily mean it will end up as murder. But that gives us the full range of options to look at when we try the case."

"It's a small victory," said Alice Wade, 65, coordinator of the Louisville-based Kentucky Alliance Against Racism and another veteran of the civil rights struggles. "The real victory will come if and when they find him guilty and convict him," she told DRCNet.

Coleman gave credit to demonstrations and public pressure for forcing prosecutors to bring an indictment. "They knew they had to do something," he said, especially after two nights of street violence in January. "I guarantee you that if the grand jury hadn't indicted that police officer, we would have had some serious issues on the street. A lot of the young adults who knew Michael Newby are just enraged," he said.

It's not just young adults and veteran activists who are upset. "I have a real problem anytime someone is shot in the back," said City Council member Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who represents Newby's district. "I have a problem with the placement of the bullets," she said, adding that the indictment of Mattingly was a step forward. "We will be able to hear the evidence, and that is a good thing," she told DRCNet. "So many of these investigations are closed and there is no input from the public."

And while figures like the Rev. Coleman and Alice Wade have been lonely in their fight for justice over the years, the killing of Michael Newby has mobilized a new generation of activists. "There have been big marches and they've drawn a very mixed crowd," said Hamilton. "Lots of high school students, both black and white, along with college students, people in the community, and others," she said.

"If it hadn't been for the street heat by the people, this wouldn't have happened," said Wade. "Michael was 19, well-known by his peers, and the young people turned out. When they were hurting after his killing and their adrenaline was high, there we were. Now we have the kids. They've started coming to our Friday meetings, and each time we see one or two new faces. We keep telling the young people that we're old, and now it is their turn to pick up the baton and show leadership," she said.

Anger over the shooting crosses the color line. "We already knew something was wrong; we were already out there," said Wade, "but now the white people have started coming. And the Hispanics. We had a Hispanic guy who was shot and killed by the head of the Fraternal Order of Police. We've been contacting ministers of all races and telling them they need to get their people out, and we see more and more each week."

While the aftermath of the Newby killing is bringing blacks, whites, and Hispanics together to some degree, it has also exposed deep divisions in the community and revealed the need for better policing, said Council Member Hamilton. "We have called the chief in and asked him to explain policies and procedures," she said. "There is community pressure for a citizen review board of police, but I don't think we have the votes for that on the council yet."

"The department puts police in the neighborhoods who know very little about the community," said Rev. Coleman. "We told the mayor we need some drug prevention programs and we need some community policing. The vast majority of people here want the drug issue addressed, but we have to look at it as a health problem, not a criminal problem. If the police are out there trying to catch our young men and mistreating everybody in the community, they are going to create people who are anti-police. We don't want to be anti-police; we want to be anti-police criminals," he said. "Some of these police are Vietnam vets or Gulf War vets, and I wonder how stable some of them are. They think they're still in a war."

Changes in drug policy would help, said Council Member Hamilton. "We are wasting a lot of valuable talent with these drug laws," she said. "And there is discrimination in sentencing, such as the crack and powder cocaine disparities. That must be corrected. And there is not enough treatment. More treatment would go a long way."

In the meantime, Officer Mattingly awaits a trial date, and continues to draw a police paycheck while he does so. "We want this officer fired," said Rev. Coleman, who, along with the Kentucky Alliance Against Racism's Wade, vowed to continue protests until that happens and during the trial as well.

A few hundred miles to the south, in Columbus, GA, events have played out a little differently. After the killing of Kenneth Walker on the side of Interstate-185 in December, authorities were slow to respond to public pressure for more information, refusing to release a videotape of the incident or, for more than two months, even the name of the officer involved.

But as pressure mounted, primarily from black religious and political leaders, authorities have begun to respond. On February 20, Sheriff Ralph Johnson named Deputy David Glisson as the shooter -- and fired him. Glisson, a 20-year veteran of the department and member of its SWAT-style Special Response Team, got the ax because of the "totality of facts revealed in the [in-house] administrative investigation," said sheriff's spokesman Capt. Joe McCrea. What that apparently means is that he was fired for not cooperating in either the sheriff's department's investigation of the shooting (now completed), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's inquiry, or the US Justice Department's investigation of whether Walker's civil rights were violated.

While Glisson has been fired, the incident has yet to come before a grand jury as prosecutors wait for the completion of the GBI investigation. And that is keeping tempers high in the city's black community and beyond. The city has already seen an emotional, packed funeral, a series of protest marches and meetings, attention from civil rights groups nationwide, and even an appearance from the Rev. Al Sharpton, who warned that the nation was watching.

"A lot of my constituents are concerned about it," said state Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D), who represents a Columbus district. "African-American moms want to know what they can do to keep their sons safe," she told DRCNet. "I knew Kenny Walker. He was a model citizen, a model son, a married professional man from a respectable family. If he is not safe on the streets of Columbus, then who is? This shooting raises that issue in the hearts and minds of African-American mothers everywhere."

Hugley is afraid she now doesn't have a good answer to that question. "Before this, we could stay to our kids, stay out of trouble, go to school to become a productive citizen, and everything will be fine. Now, we have to rethink that. I have a 21-year-old son. Now, I have to ask myself: Have I told him the right things to do?"

"This has been a very divisive issue," said Father Tom Weise, who holds services at two churches, one predominantly white and the other predominantly black, just across the river in Phenix City, Alabama. "We have a mayor in Columbus who is trying hard and he is very popular in the black community, but feelings are running high there," he told DRCNet. "People have been restrained -- we haven't seen any violence -- but there is real concern in the community because of past history."

But while the black community has been outspoken, said Weise, some supporters of Glisson have played the race card as well. "There has been some awful stuff on the local talk shows," he said, "but the majority of people in town are exercising reasonable moderation."

Weise held out hope that in the long run, the killing of Kenneth Walker will bring the community together, he said. "In the long run, if this is handled properly it could help race relations and improve policing," he said.

The Rev. Jerry Sauls of the University Avenue Assembly of God is doing his part, he told DRCNet. "Our congregation is small and we have few blacks in our church, but we have taken up an offering and sent it to Mrs. Walker," he explained. "I've attended some meetings with the black community, and the Muscogee County Clergy Association has sent a letter to the black community. And last Friday, the Interracial Ministerial Association met with the Black Ministerial Association. There was a lot of camaraderie and interaction there," he said.

"The sheriff has been slow to respond, and there are some people who are very upset. There is a real restlessness about the way this has been handled," he said. "But the community has handled this well and is waiting to see what happens."

Handling it properly will have to include putting Deputy Glisson before the bar of justice, said Rep. Hugley. "There needs to be a trial. If it is shown that the deputy was indeed guilty, he should receive the same sentence any other citizen would receive," she said.

There is no sign of that yet, as local prosecutors are busy handing off the case as if it were radioactive. But the incident has left Rep. Hugley wondering about how the police are enforcing the drug laws. "If we are going to have this punitive drug policy, then it is incumbent on the police to go above and beyond the call of duty and figure out who they are dealing with. Just because there are four black men in a grey SUV does that mean the police don't even check before they stop them? The man who was driving is a high school coach. Why didn't they bother to run the plates? They might have recognized the name."

Hugley would also like to know why there were no black officers involved in the drug investigation that night. "There were no black men on that drug team that night," she said. "There was a real lack of diversity. Had there been a black cop on that team, he might have known the driver was the coach, and this might have turned out different."

In Oakland, the site of the most recent police killing little more than two weeks ago, activists and family members of Rudy Cardenas are still waiting for justice. But pressure resulting from public outcry and angry demonstrations led the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office to take the unusual step Tuesday of seeking an open grand jury hearing into Cardenas' death at the hands of California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Officer Michael Walker, the San Jose Mercury News reported this week. "The public deserves and needs to hear all the facts surrounding the shooting," Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu said Monday.

Grand jury reviews of police shootings are usually confidential, but District Attorney Lane Liroff, who would conduct such a hearing sometime this spring, told the newspaper a closed hearing in this case "could lead to great distrust. "Somebody has been shot in the back by a police officer," Liroff said. "There are a variety of things that can explain that -- or not."

But even an open grand jury hearing is not enough for Cardenas' family and friends and local activists. At a Tuesday appearance before the executive committee of the county's Human Relations Commission, family members asked for a coroner's inquest, an open evidence hearing regarding cause of death. They told the commission a grand jury hearing might not be impartial, the Mercury News reported.

And so it goes. Three men killed for no apparent good reason, one police shooter charged with murder, another fired from his job, and a third facing a grand jury investigation. No police officer has been found guilty yet, but given the track record in the United States, the fact that these cases are getting as far as they have may be a sign of progress. It also shows the power an aggrieved community can wield if it chooses to exercise it.


3. Despite Federal Push for Student Drug Testing, Schools Not Jumping on the Bandwagon -- Yet

President Bush used his State of the Union address in late January to announce he was budgeting $23 million to encourage school districts to do pilot student drug testing projects. The line item would be a ten-fold increase over this year's $2 million appropriation, which financed pilot projects in eight school districts. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, or ONDCP (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov) and drug czar John Walters have made expanding student drug testing a "national priority" in this year's anti-drug strategy, and Walters has been hitting the theme wherever he appears.

And Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) has introduced a bill with administration support that would encourage random drug testing of high school students. Until 2002, drug testing was limited to student athletes, but in a Supreme Court decision last year, the court held that such testing could be extended to students involved in extracurricular activities or who sought special privileges, such as parking permits, from school authorities. And according to some interpretations of that decision, the court opened the door for random drug testing of all students.

Clearly a dedicated effort to expand drug testing of school kids is underway. But while the Bush administration drug warriors are leading the charge, if they glance behind them they won't see that many followers. While no one is keeping exact tabs on the number of school districts in the country that have resorted to student drug testing, it appears to be a tiny, probably single digit, percentage of all school districts.

"Nobody in the country has an absolute count," the US Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, which would not venture a guess, told DRCNet.

"We're not seeing any wholesale rush to drug testing," said Tom Hutton, staff attorney for the National School Boards Association. "We've seen a few programs that were on hold before the Supreme Court decision get underway, but not much more than that," he told DRCNet. "It's probably less than 10% of all districts," he estimated.

"It is not a big issue with our members," said Michael Carr, spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "We talk to our members on a regular basis, and while certain regions of the country are a bit more inclined to move forward than others, we haven't seen a real shift toward drug testing," he told DRCNet.

Similar opinions issue from state school board associations, even in states such as Alabama, where drug testing has been greeted with more enthusiasm than elsewhere. At the slow rate schools are embracing drug testing in Alabama, said Alabama School Board Association staff attorney Susan Salter, it would take ten years for drug testing to cover the entire state. "It has been a slow but steady march toward drug testing ever since the Supreme Court decision," she told DRCNet. "It is probably happening at the rate of about one district a month, although these plans don't always fly. Sometime they don't get a good reception from the community."

So why aren't the school districts embracing drug testing? "Budgets are tight," suggested Hutton. "The money has been talked about, but not appropriated yet, and schools have other priorities," he said. But he also pointed to lingering mistrust of the administration among educators over the No Child Left Behind program, which has caused countless headaches for local administrators. "There is a lot of persuasion coming from the feds, but in the context of No Child Left Behind, if people think there is a little money to do this but lots of strings attached, they won't think it's worth it," he said.

"Principals are like anyone else," said Carr. "Some think it's the best thing to ensure the safety of the kids, but many others have serious concerns over invasion of students' privacy, and principals are worried about anything that could bring them a lawsuit," he said. "While some are gung-ho, many principals are extremely leery of going down that road. And even in places where they might be interested, the funding is not there yet," he said.

Still, drug reformers and civil libertarians are not watching complacently. Late last month, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project kicked off a campaign to block the Bush administration initiative by distributing a booklet, "Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No," describing drug testing's many failings and suggesting alternatives to 24,000 school board members and other educational stake-holders in selected states.

"Drug testing is humiliating, costly and ineffective, but it's an easy anti-drug sound bite for the White House," said Judy Appel, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "'Making Sense...' is for the people and educators across the country who've got to make serious decisions about young people's safety. They need the actual research, not slogans and junk science."

"We think the real push for drug testing will come when that $23 million Bush talked about begins to be disbursed through the Safe and Drug-Free School Act," said DPA's Marsha Rosenbaum, whose involvement with student drug issues includes development of the Safety First (http://www.safety1st.org) alternative drug education and prevention strategy. "Without that money, I don't think it has the kind of allure it will have once funding comes in," she told DRCNet. "It's an expensive logistical nightmare, and schools would just rather not do it."

Also, Rosenbaum suggested, administrators may not see a need for it because they accurately perceive the problem is not severe. "You would think from listening to these proposals that there was a rampant epidemic of out of control kids stumbling around campus all the time, and that's just not true," she said. "The reality is that the problem of kids coming to school intoxicated or running the risk of endangering themselves during extracurricular activities because they're intoxicated is not real."

And there are better alternatives, Rosenbaum said. "Drug abuse prevention is about two things. First it's about good science-based, honest, balanced drug education; and second, it's about forming relationships with adults, with counselors, teachers and parents. It's not rocket science," she said. "Drug testing sounds like the easy way out, but that is so simplistic. What keeps kids from getting into trouble with drugs is not a drug test but a good education, being engaged in school, and having good relationships with parents and other adults."

Visit http://www.drugtestingfails.org or http://www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/ for the "Making Sense" booklet or to learn more about the DPA/ACLU campaign against student drug testing.

Read the White House's booklet on student drug testing at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/drug_testing/ online.


4. March Madness for SSDP: Drug Czars, Nervous Narcs, and More Resolutions

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org), the national campus drug reform organization headquartered in Washington, DC, has been busy this month. The group has seen more colleges pass resolutions calling for repeal of the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision, SSDP's public enemy number one. SSDP national office members joined students and drug reformers to confront drug czar John Walters and a new anti-drug reform student organization in Washington Tuesday night. And down in Albuquerque, the local chapter had some curious dealings with a nervous DEA agent at a debate it sponsored.

In Washington, Tuesday night was to be the grand unveiling of Students Taking Action Not Drugs (http://www.standnow.com), a project of the Drug-Free America Foundation whose stated goals are to warn students about the dangers of drug use, train them to act as drug policy players, and "to challenge a growing movement to legalize and normalize drug use on college campuses." John Walters was there, as was former Nixon drug advisor Robert DuPont, along with Miss Virginia, Jennifer Pitts, to welcome the new group at its base, The George Washington University campus, where its four founding members are students.

But several GWU students had other ideas, and joined by SSDP National, drug reform groups, and activists with the Libertarian Party, they held a protest outside and distributed numerous copies of a flyer calling for repeal of the HEA anti-drug provision. It was little better for the drug czar inside, where STAND had little to say, Walters had a lot to say, and an overwhelmingly skeptical, if not downright hostile, audience had more hard questions than the drug czar wanted to hear.

Late in the evening, after Walters' long-winded responses to earlier questions prevented her from asking one of her own, Erin Hildebrandt, director of Parents Ending Prohibition (http://www.parentsendingprohibition.org), leapt up brandishing a banner saying "Mothers Say Walters Lies" and verbally lit into Walters until she was hustled away by security guards. "Shame on you," Hildebrandt yelled at the stunned and steaming drug warrior. "Your lies are putting my kids at risk."

"We wanted to show whatever press showed up and whoever actually attended the event that John Walters and STAND are only one side of the story," said SSDP national director Scarlett Swerdlow. "Most students who have grown up with DARE and the war on drugs don't support it and want to see the laws change," she told DRCNet. "I think we succeeded, although the only press so far has been a story in the GWU Hatchet. But the majority of the audience was clearly pro-reform, and on top of that, we got to meet some great new activists at GWU, who will hopefully reinvigorate that chapter. That was a good outcome." (By the morning of this publication, that had changed; see the "Message from the Executive Director," first article this issue.)

"You could tell he was scared of us, and he started turning purple," said DRCNet's Dave Guard, who attended the event. "Seriously. It started with red, then shaded over to purple. He was exposed to spontaneous protests, emotional reactions from parents, a room filled with reformers. We hadn't really tried to organize to be there in force; it was just that our people cared," Guard said. "He got hammered by question after scathing question, and he needs to feel that passion against his policies. The event proved to him that he better not tell people where he's going to be because if he tries to take this to the larger community he will be hammered again and again."

The problem is, he already has announced his schedule, or some of it. A bulletin released on the Internet yesterday by the Drug Policy Alliance redistributed information from ONDCP on Walters' student drug testing speaking tour, including stops in Chicago, Atlanta, Fresno and Denver (http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/walterstour.cfm).

While activists had the drug czar off balance in Washington, the University of New Mexico SSDP chapter had a DEA agent in fits in Albuquerque. It wasn't supposed to be that way. UNM SSDP had weeks earlier reached an agreement with DEA agent Finn Selander to debate former Texas police officer and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (http://www.leap.cc) board member Howard Wooldridge at the UNM Student Union last week, according to SSDP member Kevin Killough, who wrote a column about the fiasco for the Daily Lobo on Monday.

At the last minute Selander tried to back out, "citing some vague, unspecified DEA policy that forbids debates," Killough reported. Because SSDP had invested such time and effort in the event, the group sought to persuade him to stay. The increasingly reluctant agent eventually agreed to participate, but only if the forum were not a debate but consecutive presentations followed by questions, and only if the media were barred from covering the event, Killough told DRCNet.

Then, the night of the event itself, Selander backed out, sending as a replacement an "Agent Paul Stone," who, oddly enough was the spitting image of Selander. "The guy was really nervous," said UNM SSDP head Gabby Guzzardo. "We had worked for two weeks to get media coverage, but he wouldn't even let audience members with camcorders turn them on," she said.

The nervousness of the DEA agent -- whoever he was -- could be related to the fact that in accepting the invitation to debate, Selander had run afoul of DEA rules forbidding such jousts, but then proceeded to participate anyway, at least until the un-photographable "Agent Stone" took the stage.

"It's really quite strange," said Killough. "On their web site, the DEA has specific instructions on how to debate the issues, but then they don't allow their people to actually debate."

Despite the DEA's strange behavior, the event was a hit, said Guzzardo. "It went fabulously; more than 100 people showed up, and everyone loved Howard's speech. Since then, I've been approached by so many people on campus who now want to get involved with SSDP," she said.

Perhaps less exciting and definitely not as odd as the DEA agent in Albuquerque or as entertaining as hassling the drug czar in Washington, but of equal import, the slow, steady work of passing resolutions against the HEA anti-drug provision at schools around the country continues apace. So far this month, student governments at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Montana State University have passed such resolutions.

"That makes at least 107 schools," said Swerdlow. "We don't necessarily know about all of them because sometimes they do it without our involvement; that's what happened at Santa Barbara," she said. "And at Montana State, it was a joint effort between the campus SSDP and NORML chapters."

It is a good time for SSDP, Swerdlow said. "We have a big push on the Higher Education Act, we have a handful of real opportunities to repeal the drug provision, and that has done a lot to excite the national office and the chapters as well. The organization is at a time when we have a larger staff so we can help the chapters more, but at the same time the chapters have been doing really amazing work," she explained. "One of the things SSDP contributes to the movement is that we take young people interested in this issue and educate and train them so they become serious, savvy activists. As the group grows, we'll only see better and busier activists emerging in our movement."


5. Russia's New Drug Law in Effect: No Jail for Drug Users, Greater Penalties for Drug Traffickers

As of today, Russian drug users and people in possession of small amounts of illegal drugs no longer face any jail time. Under previous Russian law, smoking marijuana or being caught with as little as one-tenth of a gram of it could bring a three-year prison sentence. But in a bald reversal of the Putin government's hard line against drug users enunciated only two years ago, the Russian Duma approved the changes in November, President Putin signed them into law in December, and they go into effect today.
In February 2002, the Putin government announced a tough, three-year strategy to crack down on drug sellers and users alike. When he presented the package to the Duma, then Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov called for a "total ban on illegal acts related to drugs" and tougher enforcement of the drug laws. "This is prompted by the drug situation that has arisen in our country over the past decade," Gryzlov said. "The development of legislation is lagging behind the rapidly deteriorating situation."

At least give the Russians credit for being fast learners. The legislation Gryzlov dreamed of has been tossed in the dust heap of history, and this relatively progressive new law has instead emerged.

Under the package of amendments to the criminal code, distinctions will be made between large-scale drug traffickers and users and small-time dealers. As reported by the Moscow Times, possession of up to ten times the "average single dose" of a controlled substance is no longer considered a criminal offense but an "administrative infraction" punishable by a fine of between five and 10 times the daily minimum wage. Possession of between 10 and 50 times the "average single dose" is considered "possession of large amount" and is punishable by a larger fine and community service, but again no prison sentence. This second measure effectively decriminalizes small-time dealers -- unless they get caught in the act of selling.

Penalties for large-scale drug sales, production, or trafficking, on the other hand, will be increased. And while the amendments to the criminal code eliminated asset forfeiture for almost all crimes, they kept them for drug trafficking offenses.

The radical change in Russian drug policy came as part of sweeping reforms of the criminal code, which also include the strengthening of citizens' protections when facing criminal charges. But the real impetus for the change probably lies in the country's festering, overcrowded, and disease-filled prison system. With some 850,000 prisoners, Russia is second only to the United States in the number and percentage of its people it imprisons, and an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 of them are incarcerated on drug charges.

Russian Deputy Justice Minister Yuri Kalinin told a Moscow news conference shortly before the package passed that it could reduce the prison population by 150,000 by next year. The amendments are "aimed at easing the state's punitive policy, above all with respect to minors, women and persons guilty of insignificant public offences," he said. "The state's criminal policy is being moved towards more liberal punishments and more objective assessment of deeds committed by an aberrant person," Kalinin said.

Russian drug expert Lev Levinson told the Moscow Times that in addition to stopping new drug possession prisoners from entering the gulag, the change in the law could lead to the early release of the hundreds of thousands currently doing time on drug possession charges.

According to official statistics, Russia has seen a nine-fold increase in drug addiction in recent years and suffers 70,000 drug-related deaths annually. State Narcotics Control vice-chairman Alexander Mihailov told a press conference last month that another massive increase could be on the way. "Currently, according to the experts, the number of drugs addicts is nearing four million people," he said.

But trying to stop it by throwing drug users in prison hasn't worked. Give the Russian government credit for seeing the light. Now, if only someone could shine that light on the State Narcotics Control cowboys, who hgave, the Times reports, recently been on a rampage against what they consider pro-drug propaganda. The Russian narcs have been targeting images of marijuana leaves on t-shirts, commercial billboards, and other consumer products.


6. Dutch to Expand Free Heroin Program

special to Drug War Chronicle by John Calvin Jones, Department of Political Science, Xavier University, New Orleans

The Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer) has voted to expand the country's free heroin program after hearing of the overwhelmingly positive results of a two-year pilot program, the Rotterdam newspaper de Volksrant reported March 5. The pilot program is currently providing free heroin to some 300 users, who must be Dutch nationals and at least 25 years of age. The program, started in March 2002, came about as the Ministries of Public Health, Social Affairs, and Justice recognized that despite their best efforts to stop and reduce heroin use, the county had anywhere from one to two thousand hardcore heroin addicts who could not or would not kick the habit. By this summer, a thousand Dutch users could be in the program, parliament members told the newspaper.

Government officials had supported the original pilot project in part because of anticipated economic and social benefits. And they are seeing them. Public Health Minister Borst told de Volksrant that the free heroin program costs around 15,000 euro per patient annually, a far cry less than the costs of prison and petty crime associated with black market drug use.

The policy also conserves law enforcement resources, and keeps heroin users in touch with mainstream society. "All the statistics point to the fact that free heroin is the best policy," Dr. Wim Van den Brink, director of the Dutch agency to treat heroin addicts (CCBH), told the newspaper. After one year in the program, according to Van den Brink, all participants had better mental and physical health, while the number of days addicts engaged in crime to "score" heroin dropped from 14 to two per month.

The announcement that the pilot program would be not only continued but expanded is remarkable coming from a Dutch government controlled by the conservative Christian Democrats (Christen Democratisch Appel or CDA). In addition to earning its rightist stripes by appealing to anti-immigrant sentiments, and sending Dutch troops to Afghanistan and supporting the US occupation of Iraq in the face of mass public opposition, the CDA has proven no friend of relaxing drug laws.

In January 2002, as reported by the newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, before they gained power, the CDA sponsored and passed a bill to prohibit the "testing" of MDMA (ecstasy) pills at raves for impurities or adulterants. For about 10 years local city governments turned a blind eye and allowed such tests at youth centers and private raves as a harm reduction measure, said the Algemeen Dagblad. Despite the obvious public health benefits, the CDA, joined with other Christian and right-wing parties banned the practice. Further, in May 2002 (The Week Online, Issue #238, May 24, 2002), the CDA floated a trial balloon about closing down hash bars and has continued to make similar noises ever since. Their ideological preferences notwithstanding, even CDA leaders, unlike their American counterparts in the US Congress or the Bush Administration, cannot challenge statistics showing the success of free heroin.

Dutch social scientist and drug expert Peter Cohen has famously noted that drug policy has little to do with drug use levels. A comparison of Dutch and US heroin use rates appears to support his point. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the lifetime use rate was 0.85 in the harshly prohibitionist US, while Cohen and other researchers have found lifetime use rates in the more tolerant Netherlands about half the US rate, 0.4%


7. 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ 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 http://www.flexyourrights.org 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/310/bustedreview.shtml online.

SOME OF THE ADVANCE PRAISE FOR "BUSTED":

"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


8. DRCNet StoptheDrugWar.org Merchandise Special Extended

Late last month DRCNet announced a special for the last week of February on our StoptheDrugWar.org 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 StoptheDrugWar.org 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 StoptheDrugWar.org logo prominently among your friends and in your community. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to take advantage of these or any of our other offers:

  • Donate $25 or more and receive a complimentary StoptheDrugWar.org t-shirt;
  • Donate $20 or more and receive a StoptheDrugWar.org mug;
  • Donate $15 or more and receive a StoptheDrugWar.org mousepad;
  • Donate $20 or more and receive a StoptheDrugWar.org red ink stamp;
  • Donate $15 or more and receive a StoptheDrugWar.org 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 StoptheDrugWar.org 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to join, donate and get your free button and sticker or other drug reform items today. Thank you for your support.


9. Newsbrief: A Triple-Shot of Good News for Tulia

The victims of the notorious Tulia, Texas, drug busts of 2001, where 46 people, nearly all black, were arrested and imprisoned on drug charges fabricated by a discredited police officer, got a triple-shot of good news this week. Not only has the man who prosecuted them been driven from office, but the Tulia victims also won a settlement to their civil suit against the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, to which the discredited officer belonged, and now there are two competing screen versions of the whole sordid tale set to air in the near future.

On Wednesday, attorneys in the case announced that the city of Amarillo, which had primary responsibility for the drug task force, had agreed to pay $5 million, permanently disband the task force, and send two task force supervisors into early retirement. "This is undoubtedly the last major chapter in the Tulia story, and this will conclude the efforts of people in Tulia to get some compensation and justice," Amarillo attorney Jeff Blackburn, who represented the people arrested five years ago, told the New York Times. "With the abolition of the task force, it completely closes the circle on what was done."

The next target is similar task forces statewide, said Blackburn. "I am really hopeful that this will send a shock wave to Austin and that it will result in a complete systematic overhaul of narcotics enforcement in Texas."

The $5 million will be divided among the 45 remaining victims (one has since died) according to whether and for how long they served time in prison. At least 13 of the Tulia victims had to wait for a pardon from Gov. Rick Perry last year to be freed.

That good news made Tuesday's primary election results in Swisher County, where Tulia is located, even sweeter. District Attorney Terry McEachern, who sent dozens of innocent people to prison on the basis of fabricated testimony by his sole witness, police officer Tom Coleman, and who never conceded that he had been wrong, was defeated in the Republican primary for district attorney for Swisher and Hale counties. McEachern came in a weak third, with 25% of the vote.

And two days before that, the World Entertainment News Network reported that actresses Halle Berry and Alfre Woodard are starring in competing movie versions of the Tulia tale. Berry will play a real-life Tulia attorney in a movie set to be shot in 2006, while Woodard will play Tulia matriarch Mattie White, whose four children were among those arrested, in a CBS TV movie set to air before that.

Justice (and Hollywood) come at last to Tulia.


10. Newsbrief: Californians Pay Billions to Lock Up Nonviolent "Three-Strikes" Offenders for Decades, Study Says

Law-and-order Republican Gov. Pete Wilson signed California's "Three-Strikes and You're Out" law ten years ago this week, and in the years since, this groundbreaking act of draconian sentencing has spread like a malignant virus to 25 states and the federal system. Under California's three-strikes law, anyone with a serious or violent felony must serve double the sentence for any second felony. Anyone with two prior serious or violent felonies must serve 25 years to life in prison for any new felony.

According to a new study released to mark the anniversary, Californians aren't getting their money's worth. The study, released by the Justice Police Institute (JPI) on March 5, found that while taxpayers spent or will spend more than $8 billion to pay for extra prison time for the more than 42,000 second- or third-strikers now sitting in the state's gulag, the harsh sentencing measure has had little impact on reducing crime. The study compared crime rates in the state's 12 largest counties and found that counties that used three-strikes laws less frequently actually had a 22% greater decrease in violent crime than those that used three-strikes law often. The study also compared California to states without three-strikes laws, and found that the non-three-strikes states had a violent crime rate 29% lower than California's, despite eight years of harsh sentencing there.

"Whether you compare California counties, or California to other states, the crime data tells us that you do not need a Three Strikes law to make communities safer," said report coauthor Scott Ehlers. "If Californians are not getting the crime declines they should expect, should they be paying the price tag that comes with three-strikes?"

Where three-strikes has had an impact, the study found, is growth of the prison population, the increased imprisonment of nonviolent offenders, and the increased imprisonment of minority offenders. In ten years, the number of people doing enhanced sentences under the law increased nearly ten-fold, from 4,408 in 1994 to 42,445 last September, increasing from 3.5% to 27.2% of the state's prison population. Some 7,234 people are serving third-strike 25-to-life sentences compared to 254 ten years ago.

Of those doing enhanced sentences, nearly two-thirds were serving the time for nonviolent offenses, the study found. Among them were 672 people doing 25-to-life for drug possession and another 354 staring at decades behind bars for petty theft. In fact, there were more people doing three-strike time for drug possession for second-degree murder (62), assault with a deadly weapon (379), and rape (119) combined.

Enhanced three-strikes sentences have a disproportionate impact on blacks and latinos, the study found. Blacks were imprisoned for third-strikes at a rate 12 times higher than whites, while Latinos were imprisoned at a rate 45% higher than whites for theft under the Three-Strikes law.

Visit http://www.justicepolicy.org/article.php?list=type&type=76 to read "Still Striking Out: 10 Years of California's Three Strikes" and related documents.


11. Newsbrief: Fat & Sloth Kill 20 Times More People than Illegal Drugs, Study Finds

For every American who died in the year 2000 because he got too high, more than 20 Americans died because they got too fat. That's according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which Wednesday published "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000," a study of "modifiable behavioral risk factors" that kill people. The study reported 2.4 million deaths in 2000 and found that nearly half of them were related to lifestyle or other risky behavior, which in this study includes getting killed in a car wreck or murdered.

Not surprisingly, the leading lifestyle killer is tobacco, which accounted for more than 18% of all deaths that year, but sloth and piggery are running a close second and threaten to surpass tobacco, JAMA reported. Here are the lifestyle killers in rank order:

tobacco: 435,000 deaths
poor diet and physical inactivity: 400,000
alcohol: 85,000
microbial agents: 75,000
toxic agents: 55,000
motor vehicle crashes: 43,000
firearms deaths: 29,000
sexual behaviors: 20,000
illicit use of drugs: 17,000
"We found that about half of all deaths that occurred in the United States in 2000 could be attributed to a limited number of largely preventable behaviors and exposures," the authors commented. "Our findings indicate that interventions to prevent and increase cessation of smoking, improve diet, and increase physical activity must become much higher priorities in the public health and health care systems.

"The most striking finding was the substantial increase in the number of estimated deaths attributable to poor diet and physical inactivity," they continued. "The gap between deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity and those due to smoking has narrowed substantially. "It is clear that if the increasing trend of overweight is not reversed over the next few years, poor diet and physical inactivity will likely overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of mortality."


12. Newsbrief: European Drug Agency Report Finds Safe Injection Sites Achieve Goals

The European Union's drug monitoring agency, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (http://www.emcdda.eu.int) this week released a report on the benefits and risks of safe injection sites (or "consumption rooms"), where injection drug users shoot up under medical supervision. Its findings stand in stark contrast with last week's report from the International Narcotics Control Board, which called such facilities "a grave concern" and said they violated international drug control treaties (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/incbreport.shtml).

The EMDCCA was more concerned with practicality than legality, noting early on that it would not get involved in the debate over whether the sites violate international law. Instead, the agency's report provided a history of the growth of safe injection sites -- the first government-approved site was in Berne, Switzerland, in 1986, and they can now be found in Australia, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands as well -- examined what they set out to accomplish, and evaluated how they did.

The EMCDDA identified the primary goals for the sites as increasing public health and safety (i.e. by reducing drug use overall), decreasing death and illness among their users, and "stabilizing and promoting" client health. At the same time, the report examined whether the sites increased problems associated with public drug consumption or drug-related crime in their neighborhoods.

According to the report's conclusion, the research it reviewed suggested "that consumption rooms do achieve some of the specific purposes for which they were set up. They reach a population of long-term problem drug users with various health and social problems. They provide a hygienic environment for drug use and, for regular attenders at least, decrease exposure to risks of infectious diseases. They contribute to a reduction in levels of risk-taking among their clients and increase access for specific 'hard-to reach' target populations of drug users to health, welfare and drug treatment services. They provide immediate emergency help in case of overdose, and can make a contribution to the reduction of overdose deaths at community level."

And they can do so without disrupting public order, the report added. "As long as there is sufficient capacity and coverage in terms of location and opening hours, as well as consultation with residents and police, consumption rooms can reduce the level of drug use in public places and help to reduce public nuisance," EMCDDA concluded. "There is no evidence that consumption rooms encourage increased drug use or initiate new users. There is little evidence that by providing better conditions for drug consumption they perpetuate drug use in clients who would otherwise discontinue consuming drugs such as heroin or cocaine, nor that they undermine treatment goals. When managed in consultation with local authorities and police, they do not increase public order problems by increasing local drug scenes or attracting drug users and dealers from other areas."

It can only be hoped that the next time US drug czar John Walters goes to Vancouver to criticize the safe injection site there, someone will ask him about what the Europeans have found.

To read "European Report on Drug Consumption Rooms" online, visit http://www.emcdda.eu.int/responses/themes/consumption_rooms.cfm or http://www.emcdda.eu.int/multimedia/project_reports/responses/consumption_rooms_report.pdf online.


13. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

This feature has been on hiatus for the last couple of weeks, but that's not because all the crooked cops have suddenly gone straight. Making up for lost time, this week we note a pair of crack-slinging officers, but the prize goes to an FBI analyst who was helping out the wrong people.

First, the Rock Hill Herald reported on the March 2 arrest of South Carolina corrections officer Terrill Ambrose Banks for trafficking crack. Banks, whose day job was at the Catawba County Pre-Release Center, spent at least one night selling rocks to some folks who turned out to be the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit. They busted him for selling 13.8 grams of the stuff and seized another six grams, $275 in cash and his $1,200 car. Clearly not a drug kingpin, Banks nonetheless deserves a mention.

Apparently a little further up the corruption food chain was Polk County, Florida, sheriff's deputy Roderick Myron Stevenson, 37, who was indicted on federal crack conspiracy charges in Gainesville on February 26. According to Orlando's WFTV 9, Stevenson was one of 39 people arrested after a joint investigation by the DEA and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He faces charges involving more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, which carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison.

But this week's winner is FBI legal technician Narissa Smalls, sent to federal prison for 12 months for turning over sensitive FBI files to acquaintances who were the subjects of federal drug investigations. The news came in a February 26 Justice Department announcement. Smalls was assigned to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Unit in FBI Headquarters, and her duties included searching Automated Case System (ACS) files in response to FOIA requests.

But Smalls, a Washington, DC, resident, used her access to conduct searches of the ACS to funnel information to drug investigation targets, she admitted as part of a plea bargain agreement. She told the court that between September and November 2002, she did unauthorized searches of the files, printed out the results, and took them home. She also admitted sharing the results of those searches with people she knew were under FBI investigation, and agreed to resign from the FBI.

It is unclear whether Smalls was corrupted by the allure of cash or the tug of personal loyalties. Some drug war opponents may even appreciate what she did. But from the law enforcement standpoint, it is clear that she was corrupted.

The examples of corruption are relatively small-scale this week. But the temptations the war on drugs presents law enforcement are just as corrosive at the retail level as they are at the wholesale.


14. Radio: David Borden to be Guest on "His Side With Glenn Sacks," LA, Seattle & Online, Sunday, March 14

Reformers and others interested in drug policy can listen and dialogue with DRCNet executive director David Borden and radio commentator Glenn Sacks this coming Sunday, March 14. "His Side With Glenn Sacks" airs on KMPC 1540 AM in Los Angeles at 9:00pm PST and on KKOL 1300 AM in Seattle at 11:00pm PST. The show can also be heard live on the Internet and will be archived online.

Call (800) 770-1540 between 9:00 and 10:00pm PST this Sunday to participate in the discussion, and visit http://www.hisside.com for further information or to listen.


15. This Week in History

March 15, 2001: Notimex News Agency reported that Miguel Angel de la Torre, Mexico's Director of Technical Support for the Federal Preventive Police said that he supports legalization of all drugs as "the only possible solution... to combat narco-trafficking." De la Torre told Notimex the "corrupting power that the narco [traffic] generates is tremendous and in the consumer arena of money it is more important than the moral principles that the drug laws instill."

March 17, 1999: A report by the Institute of Medicine for the Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that, "there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs." IOM also found that "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic values of cannabinoid drugs for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. This value would be enhanced by a rapid onset of drug effect."

March 17, 2001: La Jornada reported that Father Miguel Concha, head of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church reading from a statement adopted at Centro de Periodistas de Investigation, a seminar organized by the Mexican Academy of Human Rights, said, "We who are Civil Society and its organizations -- the final document affirmed -- with the decided support of a mass media genuinely committed to democratic values... propose to consult, in the most open, professional and objective manner, what our societies think and decide about the deregulation and progressive decriminalization of the production, commerce and consumption of certain types of drugs."

March 17, 2001: Mexican President Vincente Fox is quoted in Unomasuno saying, "My opinion is that in Mexico it is not a crime to have a small dose of drugs in one's pocket... But the day that the alternative of freeing the consumption of drugs from punishment comes, it will have to be done in the entire world because we are not going to win anything if Mexico does it, but the production and traffic of the drugs... to the United States continues. Thus, humanity will one day view it [legalization] as the best in this sense."

March 18, 1839: Lin Tse-Hsu, the imperial Chinese commissioner in charge of suppressing the opium traffic, orders all foreign traders to surrender their opium. \ In response, the British send expeditionary warships to the coast of China, beginning the First Opium War.


16. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to [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 http://www.911media.org for further information.

March 19, 5:00-8:00pm, Madison, WI, benefit for Is My Medicine Legal YET? (IMMLY)' patient travel fund, featuring patient/activist and IMMLY founder Jacki Rickert and recording artist Rick Harris. At Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson St., $8 advance ticket purchase or $10 at door, visit http://www.immly.org or contact Gary Storck at Gary Storck at (608) 241-8922 for info.

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 http://www.lifeontheoutside.com 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 http://www.kwru.org/updates/10-18-01.htm 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 http://www.lifeontheoutside.com 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 http://www.breakingthechains.info 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 http://www.lifeontheoutside.com 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 http://www.lifeontheoutside.com 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 http://www.politics-prose.com or http://www.lifeontheoutside.com 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 http://www.lifeontheoutside.com or http://www.ihhcpar.rutgers.edu/cmhs-cjr/conference.html for further information.

April 18-20, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!", March on Washington and Chronic Pain Patients Leadership Summit. For further information, visit http://www.PainReliefNetwork.org or contact Mary Vargas at (202)-331-8864 or Siobhan Reynolds at (212)-873-5848.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


If you like what you see here and want to get these bulletins by e-mail, please fill out our quick signup form at http://stopthedrugwar.org/WOLSignup.shtml.

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

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

Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]