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 #329, 3/19/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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

This week marks the anniversary of the release of the Shafer Report, the Nixon-appointed commission which called for decriminalization of marijuana -- seek THIS WEEK IN HISTORY BELOW for further info and a link to the full text of the Shafer Report in DRCNet's Drug Library web site!

HELP DRCNET GROW! Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/tellfriends.shtml to spread the word to your family and friends.

HOST A SCREENING: "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/329/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/329/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. "Drugged Driving" Campaigners Open New Front with Federal Legislation
  2. Correction/Update: Russia's New Drug Law Held Up, Due to Go Into Effect May 12
  3. Medical Marijuana in the State Legislatures, 2004
  4. New York's Dirty War
  5. 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!
  6. DRCNet StoptheDrugWar.org Merchandise Special Extended
  7. Newsbrief: WHO Says Licit Drugs Greater Health Threat Than Illicit Ones
  8. Newsbrief: Berlin on Verge of Decriminalizing Cannabis Possession
  9. Newsbrief: Trouble in Christiania
  10. Newsbrief: Judge vs. Prosecutor in St. Louis Sentencing Scuffle
  11. Newsbrief: Joycelyn Elders Joins Detroit Medical Marijuana Initiative Effort
  12. Newsbrief: Utah Woman Charged With Murder in Newborn's Death, Drug Use Cited as Factor in Charge
  13. Newsbrief: New Government Good News for Spanish Marijuana Culture
  14. This Week in History
  15. Drug War Facts 2004 Now Available Online
  16. Job Opportunity: Prevention Point Philadelphia Hiring Syringe Exchange Site Worker
  17. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. "Drugged Driving" Campaigners Open New Front with Federal Legislation

A little more than a year ago, DRCNet reported on the opening of a campaign led by drug czar John Walters and backed by self-interested drug testing consultants to crack down on "drugged driving," or operating a motor vehicle while high (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/264/druggeddriving.shtml). Walters, backed up by research and recommendations from the drug test consulting firm the WalshGroup (http://www.walshgroup.org), called on states to enact zero tolerance per se laws against drugged driving.

Per se laws assume that a certain level of a drug in one's system is prima facie evidence that one is intoxicated. State drunk driving laws, where a blood alcohol level of 0.08% gets one an automatic drunk driving conviction, are examples of such laws. The difference between per se drunk driving laws and the per se drugged driving laws envisioned by Walters (and already enacted by eight states, according to the American Prosecutors Research Institute), is that the drugged driving laws will set the amount of drugs in one's system that would trigger a drugged driving conviction at zero. Under such laws, a person who smokes a joint Friday night could be pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated Monday morning, long after the high has worn off, but while the notoriously long-lasting cannabis metabolites linger.

Now, Congress has joined the campaign with two bills introduced in the last two weeks, one that creates a model zero tolerance per se drugged driving law for the states, and one that would penalize the states for failing to implement such laws. On March 4, Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) introduced H.R. 3907, which would take federal highway transportation dollars away from "states that do not enact laws to prohibit driving under the influence of an illegal drug." The bill would strip 1% of federal highway funds from states that do not enact such laws by 2006, with the percentage doubling each year up to a ceiling of 50%. And states must create mandatory minimum penalties for drugged driving to comply with the bill.

Five days later, Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced H.R. 3922, which calls for model legislation for the states to be crafted within one year from its passage. According to H.R. 3922, the model drugged driving law must include a provision defining the crime of drugged driving as occurring when a person drives "while any detectable amount of a controlled substance is present in the person's body, as measured in the person's blood, urine, saliva, or other bodily substance." In other words, a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law.

While the zero tolerance per se provision is the only mandatory provision in the law (except a rather obvious one saying that an obviously impaired person who drives commits the crime), Portman's bill generously allows the states to add more repressive measures at their discretion. Those include penalties for failing to submit to a drug test that are equal to those for a positive drug test, felony status for a third offense within 10 years, revoking the drivers' license of anyone convicted of drugged driving, and, oddly, a provision that would allow "lawful use" of a controlled substance as an affirmative offense to a drugged driving charge.

But the bill has opposition, and not just from the usual suspects. The American Prosecutors Research Institute told the Associated Press state laws already barred driving while high. "In every state of the country it's illegal for someone to drive under the influence of any drug or substance that may cause them to be impaired," said John Bobo, director of the group's National Traffic Law Center.

The states aren't too keen on either bill, said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway traffic safety agencies. He told the AP the move in Congress to force states to adopt the 0.08 blood alcohol limit or lose funding left a bitter taste. The association is advising its members not to adopt any new drugged driving laws at this time, he said. "There has been little to no evaluation as to their effectiveness," said Adkins. "Most drivers who are drug impaired are also alcohol-impaired."

"Of course no one is defending driving while impaired," said Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org), "but that's not what this federal push is about. Under these statutes, they don't have to prove actual impairment; instead, detecting even trace levels of illicit drugs or their metabolites is enough to garner a DUID [Driving Under the Influence of Drugs] conviction."

The campaign is about more than highway safety, said Armentano. "This is really the culmination of an all-out federal effort to not just crack down on impaired drivers, but to cast the net wide enough to target recreational drug users, particularly marijuana users."

Marijuana users are particularly vulnerable. While someone could tweak on meth all weekend long, by Wednesday he would be clean. Not so for the pot people. "Marijuana metabolites may be detectable for up to two weeks in a casual user," said University of Southern California psychologist Dr. Mitch Earleywine, author of "Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, "but the high usually lasts no more than two to five hours."

Rather than test for drug traces, said Earleywine, test for actual impairment. "I would like to see us go in the direction of field sobriety tests," he said. "I think whether someone can't recite the alphabet or walk a straight line is a better indicator of impairment than the state of their urine. While I think the current laws are perfectly adequate, a move to field sobriety tests might get impaired drivers who are using Benadryl or other drugs we don't even look for. The point is we need a good balance between public safety and civil rights."

"These zero tolerance per se drugged driving laws do not appear to have a rational scientific basis," said Armentano. "If our concern is identifying impaired drivers and getting them off the road, we need to concentrate on impaired drivers, not inert metabolites. We already have per se drunk driving laws, but that level is not set at zero. We do not say it is illegal to drink and drive; we say it is illegal to drive impaired, and there is a measurable scientific standard. If we want per se drugged driving laws, we need to be consistent and set similar, science-based levels," he said.

But the states already have laws that address impaired driving, Armentano reiterated. "The federal government is acting as if police are pulling over wasted drivers and have to let them go because they can't drug test them, but that is not the case," he said. "The problem is, the states that have impaired driving laws make prosecutors work harder. They actually have to prove the person was unfit to drive, show recent drug use, and make a case that the impairment is related to the drug use. Those are more sensible laws."

The fight has been joined. Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have already enacted such laws. But they have also been defeated at least twice, in Utah in February 2003, and last week in Hawaii.

"We have a massive education campaign to undertake," said Armentano. "Concerns about highway safety and impaired driving are legitimate concerns and legislators are understandably interested in this issue. But these DUID laws are not the way," he said. "I think one key argument is to make the analogy to drunk driving laws. They punish the driver for impairment, and have scientifically sound cut-off levels. DUID laws should do no less."

To read the two bills online, visit http://thomas.loc.gov and type in the respective bill numbers, H.R. 3907 and H.R. 3922.


2. Correction/Update: Russia's New Drug Law Held Up, Due to Go Into Effect May 12

Last week, DRCNet reported that a new Russian drug law that would remove the possibility of jail or prison sentences for drug users or possessors had gone into effect (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/328/russia.shtml). We jumped the gun. The law has been delayed for two months while different agencies within the Russian government squabble over what constitutes an "average dose" of various illicit substances, the Russian Harm Reduction Network and members of the Russian Radical Party told DRCNet this week.

Although, as DRCNet reported, the Russian Duma had passed the changes -- amendments to the criminal code of the Russian Federation -- in November, and President Vladimir Putin signed the bill December 11. With the law set to go into effect on March 12 -- 60 days after Putin's signing -- it was derailed by another Duma vote on March 5. In that vote, the Duma gave the government another 60 days to settle the dispute over "average doses."

Under current Russian law, possession of even a single marijuana cigarette can garner a prison sentence of up to three years. But with Russian prisons overflowing and somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 drug offenders contributing to the prison crisis, the Duma and the Russian government have shown themselves open to a new approach to drug use and drug users.

Under the amendments passed in November, the law will make distinctions between users and small-time dealers and large-scale traffickers. The severity of offenses will be determined by the quantity of drug at hand, with possession of up to 10 times the "average single dose" no longer considered a crime but an "administrative infraction." Possession of between 10 and 50 times the "average single dose" is punishable by a larger fine and community service, but again, no jail or prison time. Small-scale dealers will find themselves protected against drug trafficking charges by this second provision -- unless they get caught in the act of selling.

What held up the law is the battle royal being waged by recalcitrant prohibitionists, particularly within the Russian equivalent of the DEA, the Federal Drug Control Service, to define the "average single dose" in quantities so small as to render the reform meaningless.

"The agency responsible for setting new doses is the Ministry of Health," said Vitaly Djuma, head of the Russian Harm Reduction Network, "but using its status as a state security agency, the Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS) tried to push through its own determinations where, for example, a single dose of heroin was 0.0001 gram, thus turning all drug users once again into 'drug dealers.' This could not only nullify the humanizing of legislation by the Russian administration but also directly threaten the safety -- and lives -- of millions of Russians who use drugs."

Under the quantities proposed by the FDCS, the "average single dose" of marijuana would be 0.0015 grams. With a standard joint weighing in at about one gram, possession of a single joint would make the possessor subject to penalties for drug dealing because one gram exceeds 50 doses (0.75 grams) by the FDCS standard. Similar, absurdly low "average single doses" are set for other drugs as well. An independent committee of experts has recommended that the "average single dose" of marijuana be a more reasonable one gram.

"These quantities are unrealistically low and appropriate only for laboratory mice," said Dmitry Zlotnikof of the Russian Radical Party, which has been following the process with great interest. "It is unclear why the government sabotaged itself with these unrealistic doses," he told DRCNet, "but it appears it is because of the lobbying action of the state drug mafia, the presidential elections held last Sunday, and the formation of a new cabinet of ministers."

The Russian Harm Reduction Network, the NAN Foundation, and the New Drug Policy Alliance created the group of independent experts to set more accurate dose levels and to prevent the adoption of the FDCS proposal, said Djuma. "The law was intended as leverage to soften Russia's previous extremely repressive drug policy," Djuma wrote in an e-mail. "We have turned for support to the Ministry of Justice and the Commissioner of Human Rights, and some other high-level officials also supported us," he said.

Indeed, in a March 11 letter to the Russian government, Ella Pamfilova, the Russian Human Rights Commissioner, urged the government to adopt more reasonable standards. "The Commission on Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation believes that approval of above-mentioned drug quantities would directly distort the will of legislators who introduced a strictly differential approach between drug users and those who deal drugs," she wrote, in a translation provided by Djuma. "The Commission of Human Rights can attract experts who are ready to render assistance in developing the draft list of drug sizes. In this connection, the Independent Expert Council with the NAN Foundation has developed an alternative version of the table. We ask you to take into account the stated remarks when drafting the government's order on approval of the doses table."

Now the government has 60 days to arrive at new standards for "average single doses," and Djuma said it will be settled this time around. "I don't think we will see another delay," he told DRCNet. "This happened because of the presidential election. No one wanted to take responsibility for the tough standards before the elections, and on the other hand, no one wanted to take the risk of being progressive, either. But now there is no possibility that the law will not go through, although it will be a tough issue and whatever doses we might suggest, we will always have opponents in the government."

The issue bears close watching. What could be a groundbreaking, progressive new approach to drug use and drug users in Russia is still in danger of being sabotaged by Russia's drug warriors. When the battle over doses is settle, we will let you know the results.

In the meantime, the FDCS has been stalwart in its opposition to any loosening of laws or attitudes about drugs in Russia. In November, Djuma reported, the anti-drug agency issued a letter in which it referred to harm reduction as "propaganda for drug use" and suggested local FDCS offices file administrative or criminal charges against harm reductionists. The movement orchestrated a protest campaign in response, said Djuma, and as a consequence, FDCS has since said it will not oppose the introduction of needle exchange programs.

But now, the narcs are going after books. According to the Radicals' Zlotnikof and reports in the Moscow Times, the FDCS has ordered that Lester Grinspoon's classic "Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine" be pulled from the shelves as drug propaganda. At a Tuesday news conference, Ultra Kultura, which published the Russian translation, accused the government of censorship.

"Society has a right to access to information," Ultra Kultura editor Vladimir Kharitonov said. "The government is starting to interfere in ways we have not seen for a long, long time."

The narcs don't get it. What they are doing is not censorship, said FDCS deputy director Alexander Mikhailov, drawing a very fine distinction in an interview with Kommersant the same day. "We're tracking adherence to laws and leading an uncompromising battle against drugs," he said. "Censorship is interference in the stage of preparation to publish books and printed materials. We don't do that."

Authoritarian habits die hard. Other sectors of the Russian security services have strongly suggested to book distributors that they not carry "Extreme Islam," by Adam Parfrey, publisher of the US-based Feral House, and "Allah Dislikes America." And the drug fighters are also eying more titles, including Alexander Shulgin's PIHKAL, a compendium of psychedelic recipes, and, less understandably, "Storming Heaven," a social history of LSD by Martin Lee, according to Ultra Kultura.


3. Medical Marijuana in the State Legislatures, 2004

After a spate of victories for medical marijuana in the states at the turn of the century, all but one via the initiative process, the spread of legalized medical marijuana has been stalled. Last year, the only medical marijuana victory was in Maryland, and that vote didn't legalize medical marijuana but merely mandated a maximum $100 fine (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/288/yesandno.shtml).

Still, this year the effort continues as reformers and patients take the fight to state legislatures around the country. Relying primarily on a Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org) database, DRCNet has identified 10 states with medical marijuana issues before the legislature: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

While victory has yet to be secured in any of them, movement observers are pointing to one or more of the New England states as the best chance to win a victory at the statehouse this year. "We've been putting most of our resources into Illinois and the New England states," said MPP communications director Bruce Mirken. "I think our best, most realistic shot is in New England. Last year in Connecticut, we got as far as a house floor vote, and the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Jim Abrams (D-Meriden), is talking seriously about winning a floor vote this year," he told DRCNet.

"We've been activating our base, particularly in Vermont," said Kris Krane of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org). "We worked with MPP on the successful initiative in Burlington (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/burlington.shtml)," Krane told DRCNet. "Connecticut and Vermont look like the best bets," he said. "Those are both states where it came close to passing last year."

Progress has been slow the last couple of years, MPP's Mirken conceded, even as he pointed to some reasons why. "If there has been a slowing in laws being enacted, it's not for lack of public support, but because we are taking a more difficult road, going through the legislatures in states where there is no initiative process," he explained. "Most of our effort in the past couple of years has been in the state legislatures. While working legislatures has its advantages -- it is less expensive to do a legislative lobbying campaign than a state-wide initiative campaign -- it is inherently a slower and more difficult process. Legislators are still easily spooked on this issue, and it is easy for a key committee chairman to just bottle up a measure he doesn't like."

And the opposition from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCPóthe drug czar's office) is more focused than before, Mirken said. "Particularly under the Bush administration, the opposition is more intense. Earlier this month, for instance, Dr. Andrea Barthwell from the drug czar's office swooped into Illinois just telling absolute lies, like claiming that Marinol doesn't get you high. She needs to look in her Physicians' Desk Reference," he groaned. "They've gone from spin and distortion and exaggeration to flat-out shameless lies. That kind of intense opposition has an effect; it puts Republican legislators and governors in a very awkward position, even if they're inclined to be supportive. Do you buck the White House in an election year? Still, even in the face of all that, in many places we are getting bipartisan support," Mirken said.

Here's what's going on state by state:

CALIFORNIA: SB 1494 would adjust California's existing medical marijuana law by providing that a qualified patient or caregiver may possess any amount of marijuana consistent with medical needs and providing that a person holding a medical marijuana identification card could not be arrested for possessing up to eight ounces or six mature or 12 immature plants. The bill is set for a hearing in the Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

To read the California bill online, visit:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1494&sess=CUR&house=B&author=vasconcellos

CONNECTICUT: Persistence could pay off for Rep. James Abram (D-Meriden) this year. He has introduced a bill each year since 2000, inching painfully closer each year. In his first try, he failed to get a hearing; in his second try, he got a hearing but no committee vote; last year, the bill was approved by the Legislature Judiciary Committee before failing in a vote before the House.

This year, the bill, HB 5355, is moving again. It passed the Judiciary Committee on a 24-15 vote on Monday. Now it is headed to the Legislative Commissioner's Office, where it will most likely be forwarded to the Public Health Committee for further review. It provides a legal defense for patients who use marijuana for certain medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation, and allow patients or caregivers to grow up to five plants.

To read the bill and track its status online, visit:
http://www.cga.state.ct.us/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05355&which_year=2004

HAWAII: Legislators in the Aloha State became the first (and still only) in the nation to pass a medical marijuana bill in 2002. This year reformers are attempting to fine-tune the program with SB2641. It contains changes in the law that would make the program more efficient and easier for seriously ill patients, but most significantly, it transfers administration of the state's medical marijuana program from a law enforcement agency, the Department of Public Safety, to the state Department of Health.

The bill has made it through the Senate, passing on a 22-1 vote on March 9, and is now headed for the House Health, Judiciary, and Finance committees. It could run into a roadblock there, said Pam Lichty of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, who has been monitoring the bill's progress. "We have one committee chair who is going to be a real hard sell," she told DRCNet.

To read the bill and related documents online, visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/docs.asp?press1=docs and enter the bill's number, SB2641.

ILLINOIS: The Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow persons diagnosed by a doctor as having a debilitating medical condition and their primary caregivers to possess up to six plants and an ounce of usable marijuana, appears to be stalled. Persons covered under the act would be issued registry identification cards by the Department of Human Services.

The bill got a hearing March 2 in the House Health Care Availability and Access Committee, but MPP reported that because it appeared the bill would be voted down in committee, Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), the committee's chair and a medical marijuana supporter, placed the bill in a subcommittee where it will languish until another hearing can be scheduled this summer.

The Illinois bill was notable for attracting the presence of Dr. Andrea Barthwell, deputy director for demand reduction at the drug czar's office, who showed up as the measure was being considered to lobby against it.

To read the bill, HB4868, and track its progress online, visit:
http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=4868&GAID=3&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=9532&SessionID=3

MISSISSIPPI: HB84, which would have allowed the medical use of marijuana by seriously ill patients under a doctor's supervision, is dead. The Mississippi legislative web site reports that that the bill, which was referred to the Judiciary Committee, died there on March 9.

To read the bill and related documents online, visit:
http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2004/html/history/HB/HB0084.htm

MISSOURI: Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson (D-Columbia) was back for the second year with a bill that would allow patients to use marijuana under a doctor's supervision. She managed to get a public hearing before the Health Care Policy Committee on March 3, but the bill is now effectively dead, with no further hearings or other actions scheduled.

Wilson told the Columbia Missourian she had little hope for this year. "In an election year particularly, legislators are afraid that people will see them as either soft on crime or soft on drugs," Wilson said. "So they are less likely to listen to the reasonable arguments about alleviating pain."

To read the bill and related documents online, visit:
http://www.house.state.mo.us/bills041/bills/hb1348.htm

NEW YORK: A05796, the New York medical marijuana bill, is alive and moving. It passed the Assembly Health Committee on an 18-6 vote February 25 and must now be approved by the Codes and Ways and Means committees before going to a floor vote. If it passes that hurdle, it faces a rockier reception in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Read DRCNet's in depth coverage of the battle in New York from three weeks ago at:
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/326/nymedmj.shtml

Read the bill and related documents online at:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A05796

RHODE ISLAND: SB2357, the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act, was introduced February 11 and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. With no hearings scheduled, the bill appears to be stalled. A companion bill introduced in the House, HB7588, was introduced a week earlier and referred to the House Health Education and Welfare committee, again with no hearings scheduled.

Read the text of the Senate bill online at:
http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText04/SenateText04/S2357.pdf

Read the text of the House bill online at:
http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText04/HouseText04/H7588.pdf

VERMONT: S76, the Vermont medical marijuana bill, was already passed by the state Senate on a 22-7 vote and is currently before the House Health and Welfare Committee. But it could die there. Committee chair Tom Koch (R-Barre) told the Burlington Free Press earlier this month it is unlikely the bill will move further because he does not consider it a priority.

But the pressure is on. Fresh on the heels of a dramatic victory (82%) in a Burlington initiative instructing the city to tell the legislature to support medical marijuana, Vermont NORML targeted Burlington Rep. Bill Keogh (D), who sits on the committee, to cast a vote that could force Koch to address the bill.

To track the bill's status and read it online, visit:
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/database/status/summary.cfm?Bill=S%2E0076&Session=2004

WISCONSIN: AB892, the state's medical marijuana bill is dead this session, said Gary Storck of Is My Medicine Legal Yet (http://www.immly.org), the Wisconsin-based patients' right organization deeply involved in the effort. "I just confirmed with a staffer for my representative that the bill is dead as of the end of session today," Storck said Tuesday. "We have to hope it gets introduced early next January," he told DRCNet.

Wisconsin patients and caregivers were cheered last fall when Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh) revealed he would introduce a bill, but Storck said that bill was held up in drafting and not introduced until February 23 -- too late for a legislative session that ended this week.

Read the bill and its tracking information online at:
http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/AB892hst.html


4. New York's Dirty War

by Anthony Papa, Mothers of the New York Disappeared and 15yearstolife.com
On February 5, 2004, an historic march took place at the Plaza de Mayo circle in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Traditionally for over 25 years, Argentina mothers have come to the circle to protest against the disappearance of their love ones from the despicable acts of the dictatorship of Argentina, which formed in 1976. What made the day different was that members of the Mothers of the New York Disappeared joined them. They came to Argentina to pay homage to the Mothers who had inspired them in their seven-year struggle against the Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York State. Two groups of mothers from worlds apart united against the violation of human rights.

It was a bright sunny day. The air was sharp as crowds of tourists gathered to watch the mothers prepare themselves for their vigil. Tens of dozens of elderly women, most in the twilight of their lives, entered the arena of hope praying that their dedication might somehow bring justice to the children of the disappeared. Old women from the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo (http://www.madres.org), the most radical of several groups. began the march waving bright blue flags proudly displaying their logo. Women with hearts full of passion whose frailed hands held tightly onto a banner that read "Ni Un Paso A Tras!!" -- "Not One Step Back" when translated. A sea of white handkerchiefs adorned the heads of the Argentinean mothers as they gracefully marched in protest against atrocities that were committed against them and their families. They were unspeakable crimes against humanity. It is estimated that 30,000 people had been kidnapped and murdered in the reign of terror that existed from 1976 to 1983.

In 1973, a similar reign silently began in New York State. Men and women, many nonviolent offenders, were being convicted of drug crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment. They had in fact disappeared from the roles they played in society. For over thirty years, these draconian laws have devastated and destroyed families, especially affecting the lives of children. Although it cannot be said that the acts of the legislature were of the same caliber as those implemented by the Argentinean dictatorship, the enactment of the Rockefeller Drug Laws has led to the systematic imprisonment of men and women of black and Latino decent. Over 94% of the population of New York State prisons are persons of color. It was not a concrete act of genocide, but no less a form of it, and for sure, a violation of human rights.

In 1998 the Mothers of the NY Disappeared was formed to fight to repeal these laws. In five years, using street level protests inspired by the Argentine mothers, they managed to change the political climate of New York State by putting a human face on the issue of the drug war. In 2001, for the first time in 27 years, the governor of New York along with the Senate and Assembly all agreed that the laws must be changed. However, for three consecutive years this was not done because of disagreement on what changes should be made. In the meantime, over 16,000 men and women convicted under these laws are wasting away in New York State prisons.

One member of the Mothers group from New York was Julie Colon, an aspiring actress whose mother, Melita Oliviera, a first time nonviolent offender, had served 13 years of a 15 to life sentence for the sale of cocaine before she was granted clemency two years ago by Governor George Pataki. "My mother had made a mistake, and she paid dearly for it" said Colon. "I am here to join with other mothers and family members to share the pain of losing someone dear. Although it was not final, the act of her being taken from my life for all those years was devastating to me." Julie was placed in foster care. Her case is representative of many others in the New York group, including Arlene Olberg, whose baby was born in prison while she was serving time under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Randy Credico and Anthony Papa, center, Julie Colon, right,
with members of Argentina's Mothers of the Disappeared

The day before, a meeting took place in the office of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, the Grandmothers of the Disappeared, a group that was formed on October 22, 1977, dedicated to finding the children that were stolen from them. One of the vile acts of the dictatorship was to kidnap pregnant women and put them in concentration camps where their children were born. Then they were murdered and their children were put up for adoption. It was a method of political repression. To date 77 children have been found through DNA testing. We spoke to their president, Estela de Carlotto, whose own daughter was kidnapped on November 26, 1977. Estela, an attractive, soft-spoken woman in her 70's, has felt the pain of losing a child first hand. She said, "We had warned her of the danger, but she wanted to change the country." Her daughter, Laura Estella de Carlotto, had been a militant student at the university. On August 25, 1978, the military police called her, saying that her 21-year-old daughter had been assassinated.

When asked if she was afraid to protest their actions, she responded, "Yes, it was dangerous, some of us were kidnapped and assassinated. But for the most part because we were women so they left us alone. They felt we were no threat." Their perseverance paid off. Recently the government has annulled two immunity laws protecting those who committed the atrocities, allowing the law to be able to prosecute them. She told us that "the new president opens his doors to us all the time because he belongs to the same generation of the children that disappeared."

It was a similar story that was told by a half dozen members of another group called the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora. Their office walls were adorned with photos of loved ones that had disappeared. Some of the women had pictures of murdered family members draped around their necks in the place of jewelry. A roundtable discussion took place, exchanging information about each groups' struggle. At the end of the meeting their leader suggested that she would write an open letter to the governor of New York State, asking him repeal the laws. The letter would be signed by many organizations that fight for human rights in Argentina. "We thanked them for their generosity and understanding. We went there not knowing how they would accept us," said Luciana, the wife of a former Rockefeller drug offender who attended the meeting. "Seeing these women gives me the strength to continue my fight to change these laws."

Some might argue that the families of those incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws have not suffered as the Madres in Argentina. But, I would point out that for thirty years the oppression of these laws has been felt in the context of the social death implemented by the punitive laws of New York State. There are haunting similarities which make one think of what the difference is between a democratic society and a dictatorship. For both groups of mothers, worlds apart, they are connected by their respective struggles. One day it is hoped that both groups find peace when justice is found.

In the second week of April 2004, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora will visit New York as guests of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice to meet with New York politicians and others to voice their protest. Visit http://www.15yearstolife.com/imothers.htm for more information on the schedule of events.

Anthony Papa is cofounder of the Mothers of the NY Disappeared. He served 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. His book "15 To Life" is being published in fall 2004 by Feral House.


5. 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


6. 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.


7. Newsbrief: WHO Says Licit Drugs Greater Health Threat Than Illicit Ones

In a report released Thursday in Brasilia, the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) found that the negative health effects of legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, far exceeded those from illegal drugs. The report, the first of its kind by the WHO, explored advances in neuroscience in the treatment of drug dependence.

"The main global health burden is due to licit rather than illicit substances," said the report. While the WHO put the number of illegal drug users worldwide at about 200 million, or 3.4% of the global population, it found that illegal drug use accounted for only 0.8% of global ill health in 2000. Alcohol, on the other hand, accounted for 4.1% and tobacco for 4.0%.

"Health and social problems associated with use and dependence on tobacco, alcohol and illicit substances require greater attention by the public health community," WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-Wook said in a statement accompanying the report's release.

The report singled out men living in wealthy countries as particularly vulnerable to tobacco- and alcohol-related health problems.

The report, "The Neuroscience of Psychoactive Substance Use and Dependence," is only available by purchase. Visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/releases/2004/pr18/en/ to read the press release and executive summary online.


8. Newsbrief: Berlin on Verge of Decriminalizing Cannabis Possession

The city assembly in Berlin, Germany's largest city, is moving to decriminalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana or hashish, Expatica.com, a web site devoted to covering European news for American expatriates, reported Monday. The assembly is "bowing to reality" in a city where cannabis use is common, Expatica said.

Legislation that would permit possession of up to 15 grams is supported by an "overwhelming majority" of assembly members, the web site reported. The bill, which was spearheaded by civil libertarians within the Free Democratic Party, also has the support of the city's majority coalition of left-leaning Social Democrats and Greens, as well as the support of the Socialist Party, a rump remnant of the former East German Communist Party.

"The ban was based on a drug policy which has failed utterly," Free Democrat City Senator Martin Lindner, who introduced the bill, told Expatica. " We are not trying to play down this drug," he adds, "but are simply striving to attain a more realistic approach to this drug."

The web site noted that Berlin is a city where beer is available for sale almost everywhere, from fast-food restaurants to movie theaters to autobahn gas station to newsstands, and cigarette consumption is still high by American standards. Getting high on pot is increasingly socially acceptable in a city so relaxed about other drug use, Expatica suggested, reporting that "there is hardly a club or disco, a cafe or gallery opening where with-it Berliners are not smoking joints. And that is just the public aspect of the drug which is clearly obvious to all. Pot consumption at private parties is ubiquitous."

And the police can't keep up, officials told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung. "We'd need 1,000 additional officers just to begin to clamp down on the cannabis trade," one drug-enforcement agent said, according to Expatica's translation. Because there is little likelihood of funding increases for cannabis enforcement in Berlin's political climate, police have essentially given up on prosecuting people for growing their own marijuana, he added. "It's not worth it," the investigator told the paper. "We only roll if we get a tip-off to a really big-time pot plantation. But we don't go out looking through people's back gardens any more on the off chance of finding a marijuana seedling."

If the Berlin assembly does approve the bill, it will create a contradiction between city policy and national policy, which still considers cannabis illegal, and heighten the pressure to resolve that contradiction.


9. Newsbrief: Trouble in Christiania

Danish police raided the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania Tuesday, arresting 53 people in a crackdown on hash sales days after the conservative Danish government announced it would. About 200 police stormed the 84-acre "free city" at 5:00am, tearing down awnings along Pusher Street, destroying the sheds of alleged hash-sellers, and clearing the streets of rocks put up as roadblocks by local residents, the Independent (UK) reported.

As DRCNet reported in January (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/319/christiania.shtml), the Liberal-Conservative government of Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen has been determined to undo the three-decades-old social experiment that is Christiania, and it has used hash sales as its wedge. It was doing so again Tuesday.

"The raid is not against Christiania, it's against the hashish sale," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch told the Independent. Munch vowed that those arrests would be prosecuted as drug sellers and could face up to 10 years in prison.

But the raid came just four days after the Rasmussen government announced it was ending a 1987 agreement with the free town that defined Christiania as a "social experiment," where residents were give the right to use -- but not own -- the land. But the government generously announced that the enclave's residents could stay -- as long as they didn't sell hash, let their homes get below code, or otherwise break the law.

"There should still be an area where there is room to live in a different way," said Finance Minister Thor Pedersen in remarks reported by the Associated Press Friday. "But it must be normalized, it must respect the laws that apply in the rest of the Danish society."

Don't bet on it, said Klaus Truxen of the Danish Hemp Party (http://www.hampenyt.dk). "The police and the right-wing Danish government try to smash Pusher Street, but they will find it cannot be done," he told DRCNet. "The open hash market will continue. They are wasting so much taxpayer money with all these police," he said.

Official Christiania -- if that's not an oxymoron -- is laying low for now.

"The whole thing is a big media stunt," spokesman Peter Pless told the AP. We have decided not to do anything unless they start tearing down our houses."


10. Newsbrief: Judge vs. Prosecutor in St. Louis Sentencing Scuffle

The head prosecutor in St. Louis, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, has repeatedly sought to have cases removed from a judge she considers too lenient, and the judge has publicly criticized prosecutors' "ridiculous" sentencing recommendations, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported March 12. Joyce has ordered prosecutors to file motions to remove Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker from more than 150 cases.

While lawyers familiar with the brouhaha told the Post-Dispatch Joyce was upset with Baker's "leniency" in drug cases, Joyce would not comment directly, telling the newspaper only, "I request a change of judge when I believe it is in the best interest of justice, and the victims' and citizens' safety."

"That's such a joke," Baker shot back. "The safety of citizens. Whatever happened to the efficient and effective administration of justice?" Moving to disqualify her from cases only further slowed an already overloaded court system, she told the newspaper. "It's a disservice to taxpayers," the judge said. "People are sitting over there in that jail -- that we're paying for -- because their cases are not moving."

Prosecutors want sentences that are "very high," Baker said, particularly for first-time non-violent drug offenders. "Treatment is a lot cheaper than incarceration for an extended period of time," she argued.

Prosecutors' sentencing recommendations are often "ridiculous," Baker continued, citing the case of an aging drug user with no history of violent crime. He was convicted of heroin possession, and prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence, she said. By contrast, those same prosecutors recommended the minimum 10-year sentence for an alleged gang member convicted of second-degree murder. In another case, Paul D. Baker pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, and prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence. Judge Baker gave him probation.

While Circuit Attorney Joyce told the Post-Dispatch she denies Baker's accusation that her office had a "blanket policy" of seeking her removal from cases, Joyce did say that her attorneys had filed at least 150 removal motions directed at Baker. They had filed none against any of the 10 other circuit court judges in the jurisdiction, she admitted.

Baker told the Post-Dispatch that her sentences adhered strictly to the state's sentencing guidelines, but that she also kept prison overcrowding with drug offenders in mind when pronouncing sentences. "I know they don't like a lot of my rulings," she said, "but I strictly go by the law."

The rebellion of the black robes, most pronounced in the federal judiciary, creeps through the state courts as well.


11. Newsbrief: Joycelyn Elders Joins Detroit Medical Marijuana Initiative Effort

The Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care (http://www.mmdetroit.org), the group spearheading the effort to legalize the medical use of marijuana in Michigan's largest city through a voter initiative, announced Tuesday that Dr. Joycelyn Elders has endorsed the initiative and will be joining the group's steering committee. Elders served as US Surgeon General under President Bill Clinton until she was forced to resign after becoming a lightning rod for conservative critics because of her outspoken views on a number of sensitive issues, including drug policy.

Elders has agreed to allow her image to be used on direct mailings to Detroit voters, the coalition announced, and she will pen an op-ed to appear in a major Detroit newspaper in the month before the August vote. In the direct mailing, a photo of Elders will accompany her statement of support for the initiative: "The doctor/ patient relationship must be protected in this country. Medical use of use of marijuana should be legal and I urge the voters of Detroit to say YES on August 3rd."

Elders' addition to an already impressive roster of endorsers will be welcome in what is shaping up to be a real battle in the Motor City. Anti-medical marijuana forces led by the Partnership for a Drug-Free Detroit are mobilizing against the measure (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/detroit.shtml).

Elders was the first African-American and the second woman ever to hold the title of surgeon general, but her tenure was short-lived and marked by controversy -- her willingness to approach sensitive topics with an open mind proved too much for her political foes and, eventually, for President Clinton, who forced her from office after only 15 months. She was finally ousted in 1994 after daring to suggest at an AIDS conference that masturbation "is part of human sexuality and it's a part of something that perhaps should be taught."

But Elders had already irritated conservatives with her support of Clinton's national health and irritated Clinton by having the temerity to even suggest that the US might want to study legalizing drugs. "I do feel that we would markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized, but I don't know all the ramifications of this," she said at a December 7, 1993, speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. "I do feel that we need to do some studies. In some of the countries that have legalized drugs, they certainly have shown that there has been a reduction in their crime rate and that there has been no increase in the drug use rate."

While Elders was forced out of the Clinton administration, she has remained a visible fighter for progressive health causes and continues to speak out on sexual health and drug policy issues, and not just medical marijuana. In a 1997 interview with the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, she said her greatest regret about her tenure as surgeon general was that she did not push harder for needle exchange programs. As perhaps the country's best-known black physician, Elders continues to draw crowds at speeches around the country.

The Detroit coalition credited the Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org) with facilitating the dialogue between initiative organizer Tim Beck and Dr. Elders and thanked MPP for a $30,000 donation received last week.


12. Newsbrief: Utah Woman Charged With Murder in Newborn's Death, Drug Use Cited as Factor in Charge

Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, sits at the center of a growing controversy in Utah after she was charged with murder in the death of one of two babies with whom she was pregnant. Rowland refused to submit to a Caesarean section procedure that doctors said could have saved the unborn child's life. Prosecutors alleged the other baby was born with drugs in her system and have said Rowland's alleged drug use would be a factor in the murder case, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Rowland, who has been jailed since the January 13 deliveries, denied using drugs while pregnant, but in court documents her boyfriend admitted smoking marijuana with her three weeks before she gave birth. Then Rowland admitted to the marijuana use, but said it must have been laced with cocaine. Prosecutors alleged that alcohol and cocaine were found in her system after she gave birth.

That finding influenced prosecutors, said Salt Lake County Deputy District Attorney Kent Morgan. Pregnant drug users do not "show the type of care and responsibility that we expect of mothers in the United States," he told the Tribune. Morgan called Rowland "callous and indifferent" toward her children. "She was taking drugs at the time her pregnancy was imminent," he said.

But although she was originally charged with endangerment of a child in the case of the surviving infant, those charges were dropped. Rowland, whom the Tribune reported has a history of mental illness, does not face a drug charge or an endangerment charge but a murder charge for not having the C-section done. And that has aroused the ire of mental health advocates and women's organizations across the ideological spectrum.

Doctors had recommended a C-section as early as December 25, when they found the babies were distressed. Susan Vogel, a member of the social justice group Salt Lake City Code Pink told the Tribune Rowland would not have been prosecuted if she had been more polite with doctors and nurses urging the procedure. Instead, Rowland reportedly replied that she did not want to be cut "from breast bone to pubic bone" and that a long C-section scar would detract from her sex life. "She does not fit the Utah ideal of motherhood," said Vogel. "If she was a married, church-going, religious woman, this case would not be prosecuted."

Vogel also pointed out that the case could set a dangerous precedent for prosecuting people who refuse to undergo elective medical procedures. "This woman has a right to decide whether to get a C-section," she said. "Women still have the right to decide how to give birth in the state of Utah."

She wasn't alone. Kim Gandy of the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) put the Rowland prosecution in the context of the struggle over abortion and the tendency to promote the rights of the fetus over those of the mother. "Our legal system recognizes every person's right to bodily integrity and the right to make your own medical decisions," Gandy said in a news release. "You can't force a father to donate a kidney, or bone marrow or even blood to save his child's life."

The Rowland case is making strange bedfellows. The Eagle Forum, the conservative women's group led by Phyllis Schafly, is also supporting Rowland. "She is being charged for not following an opinion," said Eagle Forum director Gayle Ruzicka. "Mothers should always have the right to say 'no.' The medical world doesn't know all. There are pregnancies all the time where doctors give advice that women choose not to take. Parents shouldn't be prosecuted for making medical decisions for themselves and their children."

Or charged with murder in part because of alleged drug use that had nothing to do with the death.


13. Newsbrief: New Government Good News for Spanish Marijuana Culture

The conservative Popular Party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar went down in a startling defeat Sunday because of its support for the US invasion of Iraq and its efforts to avoid acknowledging Al Qaeda as the probable author of the bombings that killed more than 200 Madrid train commuters three days earlier. But the Aznar government was rightist in more than just its foreign policy, and its defeat spells good news for Spain's burgeoning cannabis culture.

As DRCNet reported in January (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/318/spain.shtml), the Aznar government had been moving for months toward drafting a plan to shut down pro-cannabis publications such as Canamo and Yerba as "apologists" for teen age pot-smoking and to move against the cannabis seed and grow shops sprouting up around the country. That effort is now as dead as the political career of its main patron in the Aznar government, Justice Minister Angel Acebes, now infamous as the man who tried to convince Spanish voters it was Basque nationalism and not his government's support of the war in Iraq that led to last week's attacks.

"Now, without the Popular Party in the government, it is almost certain that the commission of experts appointed by Acebes and their National Drug Plan will remain without effect and forgotten," Canamo editor Gaspar Fraga told DRCNet. "It is dead, as you say."

The Popular Party will be replaced by the Socialists (PSOE) led by prime minister-in-waiting Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The party fell short of an absolute majority in parliament, so Zapatero must build a coalition with either smaller regional or other ideologically compatible parties of the left and center.

The Socialists criticized Acebes' attack on cannabis culture as "scandalous" back in January, saying anti-drug efforts should be concentrated on big hard-drug trafficking organizations, and their posture toward cannabis is a definite improvement over that of Aznar and company, but there is still room for improvement, said Fraga. While cannabis use or possession is not a criminal offense in Spain, users can still be fined and its sale remains illegal.

"Our mission now is to initiate conversations with the PSOE in order to achieve the legalization of cannabis and its production and sale," said Fraga. "At the least, we must get the Socialists to repeal Law 1/92, known as the "Corcuera law," which they themselves promulgated, and which imposes a minimum fine of 300 Euros ($368 US) on whoever has more than a small quantity of the drug for his own use and consumption."

Still, the battles for drug reform in Spain will now be fought on friendlier terrain.


14. This Week in History

March 22, 1972: The Nixon-appointed, 13-member National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, chaired by retired Republican governor of Pennsylvania Raymond P. Shafer, recommended the decriminalization of marijuana, and concluded, "Marihuana's relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it. This judgment is based on prevalent use patterns, on behavior exhibited by the vast majority of users and on our interpretations of existing medical and scientific data. This position also is consistent with the estimate by law enforcement personnel that the elimination of use is unattainable."

Regarding marijuana use and violent crime the Commission concluded, "Rather than inducing violent or aggressive behavior through its purported effects of lowering inhibitions, weakening impulse control and heightening aggressive tendencies, marihuana was usually found to inhibit the expression of aggressive impulses by pacifying the user, interfering with muscular coordination, reducing psychomotor activities and generally producing states of drowsiness lethargy, timidity and passivity."

Visit http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm for the full text of the Shafer Commission report.


15. Drug War Facts 2004 Now Available Online

The 2004 online edition of Drug War Facts is now available -- at 188 pages a full 50% longer than the soon-to-be-released print version. Visit http://www.drugwarfacts.org/factbook.pdf to prep for an upcoming debate, to bolster your next letter to the editor with solid facts, or just to check it out. Visit http://www.drugwarfacts.org for Drug War Facts in HTML format.


16. Job Opportunity: Prevention Point Philadelphia Hiring Syringe Exchange Site Worker

Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP) is a multi-service public health organization working to reduce harm associated with drug use by providing safe and humane alternatives to the war on drugs. Through education, outreach, advocacy and direct service, PPP offers culturally sensitive, non-judgmental programs to address the health and social service needs of drug users and sex workers in Philadelphia.

Prevention Point Philadelphia is hiring a Syringe Exchange Site Worker for a full-time, Tuesday through Saturday position reporting to PPP's Syringe Exchange Coordinator. The SEP Site Worker helps operate and manage six weekly SEP sites where PPP provides the following free services: anonymous syringe exchange, HIV counseling and testing, primary medical care, family planning counseling, harm reduction counseling, and referrals to health care and social services.

Responsibilities include logistical tasks related to operating the SEP including stocking, driving and maintaining the mobile SEP vehicles, conducting a weekly inventory of SEP supplies, collecting data, coordinating and supervising SEP site volunteers, facilitating service delivery at the SEP sites (e.g., syringe exchange, case management, harm reduction counseling, general health education, primary medical care, etc.); and helping to facilitate harm reduction education groups.

Minimum acceptable candidate requirements include: valid driver's license and insurable driving record; professional written and oral communication skills; demonstrable understanding of and commitment to harm reduction service delivery; and commitment to work and interact with drug users and sex workers professionally, respectfully, and non-judgmentally. Fluency in both Spanish and English is preferred.

Qualified candidates will also possess good organizational and leadership skills, some general knowledge of drugs and drug use, and an understanding of the issues and concerns that PPP consumers face. They will be patient and able to prioritize tasks for completion and issues for discussion. They will pay close attention to detail, advocate for PPP consumers as they seek services, and convey information about PPP's programs and services and harm reduction theory and practice to consumers, community members, and volunteers.

The SEP Site Worker must be able to see and read 10pt type, work both inside and outside in various weather, climb stairs, stand for at least three hours at a time, walk on uneven ground, lift and carry containers up to forty pounds, bend, squat, stock shelves above his/her head, and have good manual dexterity handling small items.

Address resumes and questions to: Jes Maaswinkel, Syringe Exchange Coordinator, 333 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19123, phone: (215) 787-0116, fax: (215) 787-0113, e-mail: [email protected].


17. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 21, 11:00am-1:00pm, Madison, WI, medical marijuana film festival and panel discussion concluding Medical Marijuana Awareness Week, featuring State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), Madison Alder Judy Olson, IMMLY activist and patient Gary Storck, and others. Sponsored by the UW-Madison Green Progressive Alliance, at UW-Madison Memorial Union. Check the (Today in the Union) for room location, or contact Gary Storck for further information at (608) 241-8922 or [email protected].

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.

March 31, 4:00pm, Washington, DC, panel on the war on drugs, featuring Criminal Justice Policy Foundation president Eric Sterling. At Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Slowinski Courtroom, 3600 John McCormack Road, NE. Sponsored by the American Constitution Society CUA chapter, for further information call (202) 319-5140.

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]