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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #336, 5/7/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Priorities and Principles
  2. Nation Pays Huge Bill for Criminal Justice System -- $167 Billion a Year, Says Justice Department
  3. Setback for State, Federal Pain Pill Offensive: Florida Prescription Monitoring Bill Dies in House
  4. Million Marijuana Marches: Tranquility in New York, Thousands in Toronto, First Time in Sweden, Troubles in South America
  5. Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" -- New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy
  6. Newsbrief: Australian Greens Call for Uniform Marijuana Laws
  7. Newsbrief: Marijuana Initiative Campaign Underway in Columbia, Missouri
  8. Newsbrief: MPP Files New Challenge to Drug Czar's Nevada Campaigning
  9. Newsbrief: DEA Agent Demonstrates Gun Safety to School Kids -- By Shooting Himself
  10. Newsbrief: Justice Department Investigating National Drug Intelligence Center
  11. Newsbrief: Prison Building Binge Skews Census Figures, Shifts Benefits and Political Power, Study Says
  12. This Week in History
  13. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Editorial: Priorities and Principles

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 5/7/04

David Borden
Scarcely a day goes by that we are not reminded of the new, uncomfortable world we inhabit. The threat and reality of international terrorism; civil liberties vs. security; debates on war, intelligence, diplomacy -- the national dialogue cycles amongst all these and more, as we strive to chart a course amidst the challenges and emotions of an unfamiliar time. One colleague commented to me recently that all times are uncertain, not only our time. This is certainly true. But sometimes the uncertainty is more painful or harder to set to the side than at other times.

One of the less reported aspects of the Richard Clarke book was the discussion of priorities within the FBI prior to 9/11. Drugs figured prominently; the drug war was a top area of concern -- by order of Attorney General John Ashcroft himself (though to be fair, drugs were a high priority under previous administrations too). Drugs are such a high priority for Ashcroft's Dept. of Justice, in fact, that mere days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they began a series of raids against California medical marijuana cooperatives -- the first such raids in three years -- consuming the time of trained law enforcement personnel who might instead have been put to work defending the nation rather than persecuting sick people and their caregivers (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/209/medmjwar.shtml).

Years before, leading drug reform pioneer Arnold Trebach, founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, expressed this sentiment in a speech delivered at a 1996 criminology conference in Jerusalem:

What is not generally recognized is that the skills and personnel most successful in enforcing prohibition are also the most effective in curbing terrorism.

The greatest successes of the American Drug Enforcement Administration have come from good intelligence, long-range planning and prediction, and undercover work. These are the same skills that other agents have used to penetrate terror networks.

It goes without saying that society is at greater risk from bombs than drugs.

All of us would be infinitely safer if the courageous efforts of anti-drug agents in the US, Israel and other countries were focused on terrorists aimed at blowing up airliners and skyscrapers than at drug traffickers seeking to sell the passengers and office dwellers cocaine and marijuana.

At DRCNet we were seven or so years behind the curve in starting an organization, relative to Arnold. We partially made amends for that two years later by issuing our own warning note on a closely related issue destined to hit our country in the face: In issue #21 of this newsletter, December 1997, we highlighted the Taliban's human rights violations and support for terrorism, and condemned a UN and Clinton administration plan to fund them to do extermination of opium poppies in Afghanistan (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/021/editorial.shtml).

We should set rational priorities for law enforcement. And we shouldn't violate our moral principles to turn a blind eye to murder and repression and support for terrorism, building up those who commit such evils by shortsighted acts of realpolitik. It shouldn't require the destruction of a pair of skyscrapers, and a former terrorism czar going on TV, to drive these obvious connections home to our nation's political leaders.

Too bad that police and prosecutors in New York City, the target of the worst attack, haven't yet gotten the priorities part straight: Ten days ago, District Attorney Morgenthau's office issued a press release bragging about the achievement of a full six police agents in finding an alleged dorm room college drug dealer. Instead of stopping her from selling drugs right away, they first waited for her to sell drugs to them eight times, in order to be able to bring charges against her carrying possible multi-decade sentences. The ultimate cost to taxpayers may well exceed a million dollars.

The Ninth Circuit encompasses the nine western states of Alaska,
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,
Washington, and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. (Photo and
info from http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov.)

It is ironic that as the airwaves buzzed with Clarke's critiques of the administration's handling of terrorism, a court dealt a second blow to the fundamental legal and intellectual underpinnings of the Ashcroft medical marijuana raids. Late last year, medical marijuana patients Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson won a stunning victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, on the grounds that the federal Controlled Substances Act did not apply to patients receiving medical marijuana in states where it was legal and who were not engaged in commerce (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/316/victory.shtml); the Interstate Commerce Clause does not reach that far, the court found. Then, two weeks ago, a judge in San Francisco extended the reach of that ruling, applying the same idea beyond a single patient's needs to a cooperative supplying medical marijuana to many patients -- DOJ's raid on the WoMen's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) of Santa Cruz was not legal, according to US District Judge Jeremy Fogel, and DOJ must let WAMM be (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/334/wamm.shtml).

The fate of the rulings in the Supreme Court is uncertain; perhaps they will ultimately be overturned. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, medical marijuana is legal under both state and federal law, within a certain framework, in the several western states making up the 9th Circuit. So the post-9/11 Ashcroft medical marijuana raids were not only a foolish misapplication of limited police and investigatory resources -- they may actually have violated our nation's laws. At least a distinguished panel of high-level federal judges thought so, based on fundamental constitutional principles. If the Supremes eventually decide otherwise, the most the raiders will be able to say is that some judges think their raids were legal. There's no judicial consensus that the raids were legal under the Constitution. And with a host of successful pro-medical marijuana initiatives on the record, bills passed in some state houses, and polling showing public support for medical marijuana in the 70 or 80 percent range, clearly the public for the most part doesn't believe that medical marijuana should be illegal, regardless of whether it is now. I'd wager that fewer that one percent of one percent of Americans consider arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning medical marijuana patients or their providers to be as important to the nation's interests as protecting us from terrorists.

What better time to choose more rational priorities than in this new, uncomfortable world we inhabit? What more important time to return to first moral principles, and see how we can better, if not perfect, our own morality and the actualization thereof? Will clearer thinking about priorities and the drug war make us safer?

I don't know, but I hope so. Certainly it will help us in a lot of other ways. Let's not wait until another skyscraper tumbles down or for something even worse, before we learn from the mistakes of the past and present.


2. Nation Pays Huge Bill for Criminal Justice System -- $167 Billion a Year, Says Justice Department

Americans paid out a record $167 billion to operate the nation's swollen criminal justice system in 2001, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported Monday. While the BJS report did not address the role of drug prohibition in generating the massive spending, drug law enforcement contributes a sizeable share of that figure with about 1.5 million drug arrests nationwide in 2001 and drug offenders making up roughly one-quarter of all inmates in the nation's jails and prisons.

In 2001, every man, woman, and child in the United States paid $586 to finance the criminal justice system, including $254 per person for police protection, $200 per person to pay for prisons, and $130 per person for court and legal services. All that money provided jobs for almost 2.3 million people, including more than 1.1 million cops and nearly 750,000 prison guards.

The 2001 figure for total criminal justice spending, both in the states and federally, is the highest yet, but only the latest in a long line of increasing criminal justice budgets that date back to President Reagan's declaration of a real war on drugs in the 1980s. And prison spending is driving the increases. In 1982, BJS reported, prison spending was at $9.6 billion; by 2001, it had increased to $57 billion. Such increases are the inevitable consequence of criminal justice policies that have caused the number of prisoners in jail and prison to triple since 1985.

Indeed, criminal justice spending has increased at an annual 8% rate overall since the current binge began in the heady days of the Reagan Revolution. Spending in 2001 jumped more than $20 billion over 1999 levels, and per capita spending is now double what it was in 1982, the BJS reported.

Southern Correctional Institution, Troy, NC
While spending increases have also occurred in policing and court costs, they have increased at a lower level than corrections costs. While the number of prisoners being held has increased 300% since the early 1980s, the total number of arrests increased by less than 15% (from 12 million in 1982 to 13.7 million in 2001) and the number of court cases grew by less than 10% (from 86 million in 1982 to 92.8 million in 2001). Clearly, the resort to more and longer prison sentences is the primary factor driving up criminal justice costs in the United States.

"The first time I stood up and gave a public speech about the drug war back in 1997, I said it was a fraud," said Nora Callahan, director of the drug reform group the November Coalition (http://www.november.org), which focuses on freeing drug war prisoners. "That is even more true today. We spend all that money, and we're getting nothing for it but the destruction of people, families, and communities," she told DRCNet. "It doesn't matter if the crime rates are down -- there is a prison-industrial complex to keep propped up and running, and they can't keep it full without the war on drugs."

"These figures really point out the dramatic disjuncture between absolute crime levels and how we are spending our money," said Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project (http://www.sentencingproject.org), a Washington, DC-based group seeking alternatives to incarceration. "This is primarily the result of a policy shift in how we use the courts and the criminal justice system. We have made policy choices that result in more people going to prison and staying there longer," he told DRCNet. "That's why we are in this ironic situation, where crime went down in the 1990s but the prison population continued to increase. This tells us pretty clearly that we can control the size of the prison system and the amount of prison spending if policymakers choose to do so. But instead, they have made a set of decisions consciously aimed at expanding the system regardless of crime rates."

"We have been spending a lot of money for a long time, and this is starting to be felt in the states, if not the federal government," Mauer continued. "Fifteen years ago, they thought they could both build prisons and fund education, but now people realize they can't do both. Do you expand the prison system or do you fund basic services? In a number of states, this has already led to reconsideration of sentencing and drug policies," he pointed out. "This is happening not only because of the budget situation, but because there is also a growing recognition, particularly regarding substance abuse, that prison is not necessarily the best response. There is a greater public acceptance of a range of options for dealing with social problems, and more sophistication about the balance between prison spending and spending for other social needs."

If there are signs of sanity in the state legislatures now, said Mauer, there is little indication that it is catching on at the federal level. "In the federal system, the changes have outpaced even those in the states," he said. "At the federal level, neither Democrats nor Republicans have shown any interest in recent years in revisiting the sentencing and drug policies that have led to these record increases. The cost of incarceration is proportionately a much smaller part of the federal budget, so they don't feel it as much. And there is also the perception that sounding tough on crime is good politics, a perception that these days in more true in Washington than in state capitals."

More BJS report factoids:

  • State and local governments take the bulk of criminal justice spending, combining for 85% of all expenditures while the federal government accounts for 15%.
  • Justice activities accounted for 7% of all state and local government spending, about the same as spent on health and hospitals. By comparison, states and localities spent 30% of their budges on education and 14% on public welfare.
  • New York state leads in the percentage of justice system employees, with 94 per 10,000 inhabitants, while West Virginia was lowest at 42 per 10,000.
  • New York state also leads in sworn law enforcement officers per capita, with 39 per 10,000 population, while Vermont had the lowest figure, with 15 per 10,000 inhabitants.
  • New York state tied with Texas for the highest number of prison guards per capita at 32.7 per 10,000 population, while West Virginia once again took last place with only 9.1 per 10,000.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics report, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States," is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/jeeus01.htm online.


3. Setback for State, Federal Pain Pill Offensive: Florida Prescription Monitoring Bill Dies in House

A bill to allow the electronic monitoring of patients' prescriptions championed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the federal drug war establishment as a model for other states was withdrawn from consideration in the Florida House April 30 when it became apparent that it did not have enough votes to pass. The failure to pass the prescription monitoring bill is a political setback for Gov. Bush, who publicly called the bill his number one legislative priority.

It is also a blow to US drug czar John Walters, who announced in March that he was declaring war on prescription drug abuse. Walters announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov) would spend $10 million this year to expand prescription monitoring programs to an additional 10 or 11 states beyond the 20 that currently have such programs (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/327/full.shtml#budgetpain). Florida was supposed to be the first out of the gate this year, but it didn't happen despite the best efforts of Jeb Bush, John Walters, and his Sunshine State mini-me, Florida drug czar James McDonough.

Electronic monitoring of prescriptions is touted by supporters as a means of detecting, halting, and prosecuting patients who seek pain medications from different doctors or doctors who indiscriminately dispense pain medications.

This year's effort to pass a bill in Florida, however, did not initiate with concerned physicians, but with conservative politicians, state law enforcement and health officials, and a pair of crusading newspapers, the Orlando Sentinel and its sister publication, the Ft. Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The former newspaper published a sensational and poorly-reported series on Oxycontin deaths, editorialized loudly in favor of a prescription monitoring bill, and proudly trumpeted its role in prodding Gov. Bush to push such a bill. The latter paper published a series focusing on the "abuse" and "over-medication" of Medicaid patients being prescribed Oxycontin and other opioid pain relievers.

Gov. Bush and his drug czar, James McDonough, argued that the measure would save lives, with McDonough telling the Sun-Sentinel for good measure that it would also pay for itself by reducing Medicaid costs. Bush appointed a task force of state law enforcement and health officials to promote prescription monitoring, and it was they who pushed to get the bill passed.

"Lives are being lost," said state Attorney General Charlie Crist in a December news conference. "We have to do what we can to make sure this new era of drug dealing discontinues."

"It's about taking the bad guys down to protect the good guys," said John Agwunobi, secretary of the state's Department of Health, as he warned of "doctor shopping," "pill mills," and other efforts to obtain pain medications.

There was some support for the measure in the medical community. Dr. Charles Levi, chief medical examiner for Brevard County, told the Sun-Sentinel in November he supported prescription monitoring. "During the first half of the year, we were just getting hammered with prescription-drug deaths. We've become a society of pill pushers," Levi said. "I think having the system would make people be more responsible."

The Florida Medical Association, the state's largest physicians' group, initially opposed the bill, but its board of governors reversed course after winning concessions on privacy, according to its web site.

But while prescription monitoring had support from state officials, and to a lesser extent, physicians, critics of such measures view them as an intolerable invasion of patient privacy and the patient-doctor relationship. They also worry that information made available through such programs would fall into the hands of law enforcement, which could use that information injudiciously.

Richard Paey (courtesy PRN)
Given the performance in recent years of police and prosecutors in persecuting legitimate pain patients and the doctors who prescribe to them (an issue which DRCNet has reported on repeatedly), the concerns held by opponents of electronic prescription monitoring are understandable. In Florida, pain patient Richard Paey, sentenced just weeks ago to 25 years in prison as a drug trafficker for forging prescriptions to obtain the medication he needed for chronic severe pain (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/332/paey.shtml), became the stark personification of the plight of pain patients in the state.

Unfortunately for Jeb Bush and the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Fasano, Paey just happened to be a resident of Fasano's district. "There was the embarrassment factor," said Siohban Reynolds, director of the Pain Relief Network (http://www.painreliefnetwork.org), a patient advocacy group that worked to defeat the bill. "Rep. Fasano, the legislator who introduced the bill, represents Richard Paey's district. The publicity from Richard's case generated all kinds of calls to Fasano. Richard really deserves credit for bringing the situation of pain patients to light at this critical time. We've got the truth on our side, and no politician wants to be near to the injustice that happened to Richard Paey."

Still, Fasano and House leader Rep. Johnny Byrd (R) acceded to pressure from Gov. Bush to bring the bill to the floor last week, only to pull it from consideration when it became clear the votes weren't there. The monitoring system in the bill would have allowed doctors, pharmacists, designated medical assistants and law enforcement personnel to review the pharmacy records of adult patients in an effort to crack down on "doctor shopping," or patients seeking multiple prescriptions of pain medications, such as Oxycontin and Percodan, as well as other popular prescription drugs, such as Xanax and Valium.

During debate in the House few lawmakers spoke up for the bill, while opposition came from both sides of the aisle. Typical of legislators' remarks were those of Rep. Dan Gelber (D), who warned that the bill would infringe on the liberty of Floridians. "This goes far in violation of [constitutionally protected] liberties," said Gelber. "It has some advantages, but we'd have to accept some other deprivations of liberty that I don't think we should tolerate."

Opponents of the measure pointed to a variety of reasons for its defeat. "It was a combination of things," said PRN's Reynolds. "The citizens of Florida were rightly suspicious of what the government might do with that information, and that was important. And then you had Richard Paey standing up on principle. His situation, and the media coverage it received, really brought to life the realities facing patients in pain," she argued. "When you put those two things together, the Paey case and the distrust of government intrusion, you have a real one-two punch."

Dr. Donna Gillette, owner and operator of the Stress and Pain Management Clinic of North Florida in Tallahassee, who was one of the few practitioners to publicly oppose the prescription monitoring bill and the offensive against pain patients in general, said it may have been a seemingly unrelated issue that helped doom the bill. The state has seen a recent proposal to register gun-owners, and unsurprisingly, that proposal was greeted with howls of protest. "One of the things that really swayed the legislators was when I mentioned the gun bill. Here are law-abiding citizens who own guns and now everyone is screaming about the invasion of privacy. But what about law-abiding citizens taking legal drugs from law-abiding doctors? You want to put them on a list and track them -- and that's not a violation of privacy?" asked Gillette. "That argument had a lot of impact," she said. "It is a huge erosion of privacy."

Gillette has had some practice with politicians lately, she told DRCNet. "I spoke to the governor's statewide symposium on prescription drug abuse a few months ago, and I was the only dissenting voice there," said Gillette. "Everyone else was very much of the opinion that these opiates are terrible things and doctors are pill mills and drug addicts are posing as pain patients, and we've got to crack down and put everyone in jail."

Little wonder. That symposium was essentially a dog-and-pony show designed to gin up support for the looming prescription monitoring bill. With the help of the aforementioned Orlando Sun-Sentinel and its sister South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which lavished extensive coverage on the summit, Bush and his allies hoped to use the confab as a springboard to passing the bill.

What Gillette had to say wasn't exactly what Bush, McDonough, and their guests wanted to hear, though. "People in pain have legitimate reasons to have pain addressed and the first role of the physician is to address suffering," Gillette said. "Why take away the right of that doctor to address pain and suffering? I pressed them very hard on what is doctor shopping? Most all of us have more than one doctor, a cardiologist, a podiatrist, etc. I got no response. How do you define it? No answer. Who will define standards of care? Only 7% of US medical schools teach a course in pain management, and that's an elective. Most MDs aren't necessarily qualified to treat pain. Are the MDs going to define the standard of care, or law enforcement, or politicians? Again, I got no response. But this is important because this is how people are being prosecuted, on the standard of care. There are a wide range of professionals who specialize in this, and they are the ones who should be defining standard of care. The goal is to keep people functional. For some people that means a lot of opiates. If that keeps people employed and with their families, that's a good thing. When pain goes away, they don't take the pills anymore."

Gillette did more than stand up to the assembled drug warriors in Orlando. She also lobbied legislators about the prescription monitoring bill. "My representatives were clueless," she said. "They had no idea about the prosecutions of doctors, the cops barging in waving guns, the little old ladies handcuffed to their chairs in the waiting room, and the police searching people's bras for drugs. Their jaws dropped when I told them about what was going on."

Lobbying legislators was only part of the opposition campaign. "There was also an enormous letter-writing and internet campaign," said Reynolds. "And Dave Borden and DRCNet deserve some credit. The action alert they sent out was a real call to arms, and we were delighted to see it happen because we think this is a real wedge issue," she said.

And then there was Richard Paey, sitting in the Pasco County Jail in his wheelchair with a morphine pump, waiting to go to prison for the next two decades for trying to medicate himself. "I'm not sure how much opposition to the bill there was to start with, said Paey's wife, Linda. "But Richard was in Fasano's district and people could see how police and prosecutors didn't use common sense in his case. The possibility of those same people not using common sense with prescription monitoring was scary," she told DRCNet.

"I couldn't support this bill, and I spoke with reporters and got my opinion aired. I've also been speaking at Rotary Clubs and churches to say I opposed the bill. We tried to meet with Fasano, but he wouldn't see us."

Fasano could run, but he couldn't hide. "They were very aware of us. There were a lot of people calling and writing both Fasano and Bush, the St. Petersburg Times editorialized on our side, and there were a lot of letters to the newspapers," Linda Paey said. "They may have had good intentions with this bill, just like with the trafficking law they used to convict Richard, but there is no doubt in my mind that law enforcement would use this just to get convictions, not in a common sense way."

Whether it was privacy concerns or Richard Paey, in the end, the bill's supporters could not muster the strength to ram it through. "It was read several times, but it didn't even go to a vote," said Reynolds. "They had to acknowledge that the votes weren't there, either on the Democratic side or the GOP side. This was Jeb Bush's number one legislative priority and it was defeated by out-of-state Internet organizations of people who care that horrible things not continue to happen and that political opportunism not fly unchecked."

Reynolds found herself buoyed by the victory. "I was frankly surprised -- and very encouraged -- by the complete lack of support for Bush's bill. For the first time, one of those prosecutor and drug warrior media disinformation campaigns didn't succeed in grabbing another chunk of our civil liberties. Maybe people are beginning to see through these government-created drug panics."


4. Million Marijuana Marches: Tranquility in New York, Thousands in Toronto, First Time in Sweden, Troubles in South America

This year's Million Marijuana Marches got underway last weekend in towns and cities around the world. Though because of scheduling issues, this year many marches will not take place until this weekend, the first round of marches and demonstrations suggest that the movement continues to expand. But that expansion is uneven. In some places, notably Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, the pot culture ran up against ugly social realities or intransigent local officials, while in other places, especially staunchly prohibitionist Sweden, the movement emerged publicly for the first time.

Now in their fourth decade, the Million Marijuana Marches are coordinated by long-time marijuana (and ibogaine) activist Dana Beal and his group Cures Not Wars (http://www.cures-not-wars.org), who not only take responsibility for organizing the New York City march but also act as a clearinghouse for activists from around the world planning events in their own communities.

As always, initial reports this year indicate a mixed bag of results. In some cities, especially the smaller ones, turnout was only in the dozens, while other cities saw thousands of demonstrators. In New York City, attendance was on the rise compared to last year's ill-organized march, with an estimated 1-3,000 people participating. And in marked contrast to the term of former Mayor Rudolf Giuliani, police seemed markedly disinclined to arrest anyone.

Million Marijuana March, Battery Park, NYC
(courtesy DrugWar.com)
"The march here was a lot better than last year," said Beal. "Last year, we had a confluence of things go wrong -- people who didn't have the march's best interests in mind, publicity materials that didn't work, things like that. This year we had better people involved and we had propaganda that really worked. Our flyer this year was graphically interesting -- it had a person in a wheelchair being attacked by a cop with a club -- and it also had the march route and schedule information. I think that really made a difference," he told DRCNet.

"And there were no arrests. This is a complete sea change from the Giuliani era," said Beal. "It took about 18 months for the police to change their attitude. Of course, I went on the radio to tell people it was a protest, not a pot fest, but the cops could have arrested people this year and chose not to do it. The police attitude in earlier years came right from the mayor's office, and Giuliani is just an evil, malicious, sadistic man. Now he's gone, and the attitude has changed."

While Million Marijuana Marches took place in dozens of cities across the US, perhaps the highest per capita participation was in Canada, with marches scheduled in dozens of towns across the country. Thousands of people marched in Toronto, hundreds more in Vancouver, and even out of the way places like Lethbridge, Alberta, held events drawing small crowds.

Things were a little different in Latin America. While marches in Mexico City (6,000 attendees, according to organizers) and Santiago, Chile, came off with little police interference, Million Marijuana March organizers in Argentina ran into unexpected problems with local authorities, even though they had worked uneventfully with them in earlier years.

At the last minute, the mayor of Buenos Aires refused to issue the permit and police came to the scene with orders to seize our equipment if we insisted on putting on the concert and the speeches," said Silvia Inchaurraga of the Argentine Harm Reduction Association (ARDA), the lead organizer of the event. "But thousands of people were already there or on their way, and even though we announced in the media that the festival had been cancelled, we still ended up with about 10,000 people at the site. Even in the face of official intolerance, the Festival Against Intolerance went on," she told DRCNet.

And there is another set for Rosario, Argentina's second largest city, this weekend, Inchaurraga said. "Now the biggest Million Marijuana March activity in Argentina will be in Rosario," she told DRCNet. "We have 11 musical groups and we have the authorization of the local government, which is even letting us use an auditorium free of charge." Inchaurraga expects larger crowds than in Buenos Aires, she said.

As in New York City, the idea in Argentina is not a pot fest but a protest. For Inchaurraga and ARDA, the May mobilizations are part of a broader effort. "We are seeking to advance the consensus in favor of modifying our drug laws, which penalize the possession of drug for personal use, and to reduce the harm caused by this law," she said.

In Brazil, it was not official intolerance but a very ugly social atmosphere that put on a damper on the Rio de Janeiro Million Marijuana March. Violent clashes in the Rio slum of Rocinha two weekends ago that saw drug trafficking gangs fighting each other and the police left a toll of nearly 20 dead and created an atmosphere of intolerance for drug users of any stripe. While the drug legalization group Psicotropicus had organized the previous march and was organizing this year's event, it pulled out in the wake of the Rocinha violence, citing requests from friendly politicians such as Congressman Fernando Gabeira, as well as concerns that the group's reputation could be damaged either by open conflict or by a march that was not successful.

But although Psicotropicus pulled out, Rio's pot-smokers were not to be denied. According to reports in the Brazilian press, the demonstration, which took place at Ipanema, was small -- the crowd was estimated at 60 people -- but peaceful.

"The march took place even though Psicotropicus withdrew as organizers at the behest of allies like Congressman Gabeira," said Psicotropicus director Luiz Paulo Guanabara. "We wanted to postpone the march, but there is a big marijuana movement in Rio and other cities like Sao Paulo, and the pot-smokers were already looking forward to demonstrating, so they went ahead and did it anyway. It was a spontaneous demonstration, like a carnival," he told DRCNet.

"We withdrew because the violence in Rocinha has created a very hostile atmosphere against drug users. And the government is running TV ads that basically say if you use drugs you are supporting the drug terrorists, so the drug users are being accused of being responsible for the drug trafficking-related violence," he explained.

Ironically, Brazil is in the midst of a move to substantively reform its drug laws. That is not the case in Sweden, arguably the most prohibitionist of any European country, but while friendly authorities in Brazil urged organizers to cool it, unfriendly authorities in Sweden turned a blind eye to that country's first public pro-marijuana demonstration.

Million Marijuana March, Stockholm, Sweden (courtesy SWECAN)
Sponsored by the Swedish marijuana reform group Swedish Cannabis Organization (http://www.swecan.org) and featuring the International Anti-Prohibitionist League's Marco Perduca, among other speakers, the Stockholm rally drew about 400 supporters of marijuana legalization. "I would call the rally a significant success," Perduca told DRCNet. "Hundreds showed up to support the legalization of marijuana in peace and harmony in front of the building where the Nobel prizes are handed out. The police watched attentively, but from a distance," Perduca reported. Arch-prohibitionists the Hassela Nordic Network were present, but not a problem, he said. "There were a couple of dozen anti-marijuana activists with their orange balloons watching," he said.

At this date, reports are still coming in from around the world, with the size of demonstrations reflecting not only popular attitudes toward marijuana law reform but also the organizing groundwork that did or did not take place. For instance, small-town Burlington, Vermont, drew more than 1,000 people, while big city Philadelphia could muster only 60 marchers along South Street. Al-Jazeera reported that more than 600 people marched in Capetown, South Africa.

Events were scheduled for more than 200 cities worldwide, but with demos stretching across two weekends, there is much, much more to come. Many European capitals will be holding their marches this weekend, Beal said.

While the Million Marijuana Marches all have local angles, said Beal, their ultimate goal is global marijuana legalization. "We are working on getting a new international treaty," he said. "If somewhere between 80 and 90 of the countries that are signatories to the UN conventions renounce them, they are no longer in effect. Our ultimate goal is to replace the existing treaty with one that not only recognizes the legality of marijuana but defines marijuana prohibition as genocide. The current UN scheme seeks to wipe out distinct groups who are engaging only in a harmless cultural practice. And by maintaining the prohibition against marijuana, the UN is effectively maintaining the monopoly of alcohol and tobacco -- killer drugs -- over cannabis. Millions will die of disease related to alcohol and tobacco because they cannot switch to marijuana. If that's not genocide, what is?"


5. Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" -- New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy

If you've been reading DRCNet for awhile, or have been keeping up with drug policy reform in different ways, then you may be familiar with the work of Sheriff Bill Masters, a top Colorado law enforcement official who is a leading critic of the "war on drugs." In 2002, Sheriff Masters published "Drug War Addiction: Notes from the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster."



We are doubly pleased to announce that Sheriff Masters has come out with a new work, "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War," a compendium of essays authored by drug reform thinkers representing a range of angles and viewpoints on the issue. The reason we are doubly pleased is that DRCNet's executive director, David Borden, is one of those featured authors -- "The New Prohibition" opens with a foreword by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and closes with a chapter by Borden. In between can be found another 20 fascinating chapters, whose authors and titles I list below.

Responses to our initial offer have been strong -- a heartfelt thanks to those of you who've ordered copies from us. If you haven't already, we hope you'll consider it again. You can order a copy of "The New Prohibition" from DRCNet by making a donation of $25 or more to DRCNet and selecting it as your complimentary membership premium -- visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to contribute online. If you haven't read "Drug War Addiction," feel free to select it instead for the same donation amount, or donate $40 or more and receive both. You can also opt with your $40 donation to receive "The New Prohibition" and a DVD or VHS copy of "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters." Donate $50 or more and receive free copies of "The New Prohibition" and another recent book, "Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett" by Jennifer Gonnerman, donate $70 or more and select all three, or $90 or more and receive all four of the above-mentioned items.

DRCNet needs your financial support now more than ever -- this 2nd quarter of 2004 is our leanest in terms of grants and major gifts; we simply need your help now to get through to our next round of likely major funding in July. So visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ to support DRCNet and order your copy of "The New Prohibition" today! You can also donate by mail -- just send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Remember that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network to support DRCNet's lobbying work are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible gifts can be made to DRCNet Foundation instead, same address; the portion of your gift that is tax-deductible will be reduced by the retail value of any premiums that you choose to receive.

Following below is a list of the essays you can read in "The New Prohibition." As you'll see, the book is notable for the serious treatment it gives to a range of drug policy options and viewpoints, "liberal," "libertarian" and in between; for practical, philosophical and tactical analyses of their differences; and in the ink it devotes to a number of reform thinkers whose words have not previously been well distributed to the reform community or the general public -- as well as to long-time reform luminaries like Kurt Schmoke and Eric Sterling and Joe McNamara -- all of it new, fresh and relevant to the present. We're especially pleased that Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Nick Eyle of ReconsiDer were included. A chapter by Ari Armstrong of the Colorado Freedom Project (who played a major role in making "The New Prohibition" happen) provides a fascinating analysis of the federal government's recent "drugs and terrorism" ads. You'll also see that one of the chapters was written by our friend Ron Crickenberger, who sadly did not live to see its publication. Ron's discussion of his act of civil disobedience in late 2002 is both witty and inspiring. Last but certainly not least, a member of Congress, Dr. Ron Paul (R-TX), provides his overview of the drug war from his vantage point on Capitol Hill. Here's the full listing:

Foreword, by Jesse Ventura

Section I: Perspectives from Law Enforcement

1. Shoveling Hay in Mayberry, by Sheriff Bill Masters
2. Prohibition: The Enemy of Freedom, by Sheriff Richard Mack (Ret.)
3. Gangster Cops in the Drug War, by Chief Joseph McNamara (Ret.), PhD
4. End Prohibition Now, by Lieutenant Jack Cole (Ret.)
Section II: Public Officials Speak Out
5. Policy is Not a Synonym for Justice, by Judge John L. Kane
6. A View of the Drug War from Capitol Hill, by Congressman Ron Paul, MD
7. Forging a New Consensus in the War on Drugs, by Mayor Kurt Schmoke (Ret.), JD
Section III: Harms of the Drug War
8. A Businessperson's Guide to the Drug Problem, by Eric E. Sterling, JD
9. A Foreign Policy Disaster, by Mike Krause and David Kopel, JD
10. The Social Costs of a Moral Agenda, by Fatema Gunja
11. A Frightening New Trend in America, by Nicolas Eyle
12. How Drug Laws Hurt Gunowners, by John Ross
13. The Drug War as the Problem, by Doug Casey
Section IV: Answering the Prohibitionists
14. America's Unjust Drug War, by Michael Huemer, PhD
15. Drugs and Terror, by Ari Armstrong
16. Your Government Is Lying to You (Again) About Marijuana, by Paul Armentano and Keith Stroup, JD
Section V: Strategies for Reform
17. Liberal Versus Libertarian Views on Drug Legalization, by Jeffrey Miron, PhD
18. Medicalization as an Alternative to the Drug War, by Jeffrey A. Singer, MD
19. My Arrest for Civil Disobedience, by Ron Crickenberger
20. Restoring Federalism in Drug Policy, by Jason P. Sorens, PhD
21. Out from the Shadows, by David Borden
Again, the web page to make a donation to DRCNet and order your copy of "The New Prohibition" or other gift items is http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ online. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments, and thank you for your support and your interest in this important book and cause.


6. Newsbrief: Australian Greens Call for Uniform Marijuana Laws

The Australian Green Party (http://www.greens.org.au) is making marijuana law reform part of its national campaign strategy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported Sunday. The party will challenge Prime Minister John Howard's zero-tolerance drug policies and call for uniform national marijuana laws, according to ABC.

Currently, the states of Western Australia and South Australia, along with the federally-controlled Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria still treat simple possession as a criminal offense. In practice, however, few people are jailed over simple marijuana offenses.

Still, the issue is seen as a potential vote-getter, and not just by the Greens. The Howard government three weeks ago launched a new offensive against marijuana, with Australian National Council on Drugs chairman Brian Watters leading the way with a new booklet that will "tell the truth" about pot and challenge the rise of the "pro-marijuana lobby."

"I think there has been a really concerted effort in some quarters to trivialize its effects," Watters told the newspaper The Age. "The pro-marijuana lobby has done very well. They are very, very active." Watters said his booklet will act as a counterbalance by presenting the latest research in "a balanced, non-ideological way."

The Greens, for their part, kicked off their campaign at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin over the weekend. Queensland senate candidate Drew Hutton used the occasion to announce the campaign and to declare Prime Minister Howard's approach to drug policy a failure. Every state should adopt laws that allow individuals to use, possess, and grow small amounts of the weed, Hutton said.

"You remove, as a part of the criminal justice system of this country, you remove the involvement of the criminal underworld in these sorts of areas and you remove the problems about criminalizing young people," Hutton said.

The campaign for uniform pot laws is hardly a departure for Australia's Greens. The national party's platform plank on drugs is clear: "The regulation of drugs should be moved outside the criminal framework. In a democratic society in which diversity is accepted, each person has the opportunity to achieve personal fulfillment. It is understood that the means and aims of fulfillment may, for some people at particular times, involve the use of drugs."

Drugs should be classified and regulated based on their known health effects, the platform plank said. "Programs operating among users of addictive drugs should focus upon harm minimization. Less addictive drugs [such as marijuana] should be more freely available as in the Netherlands model, as research shows that such availability mitigates against the use of hard drugs."

Among its specific drug policy proposals, the party includes "allowing the regulated supply of cannabis at appropriate venues" and "decriminalization, leading to eventual legalisation of cannabis cultivation and possession for personal use, while monitoring the effects of this in relation to the health of young people."

But while the Green platform is breathtakingly progressive, the party itself is far from being a powerhouse in Australian politics. It has only representative in the Australian House and two in the Senate, leaving it far behind the leading Liberal and Labor parties, and trailing even the Australian Democrats and the Nationals.


7. Newsbrief: Marijuana Initiative Campaign Underway in Columbia, Missouri

Activists affiliated with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org) are seeking to place a marijuana reform initiative on the local ballot in the college town of Columbia, Missouri for a second time. In April 2003, voters rejected a similar initiative, Proposition 1, that would have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, mandated a maximum $25 fine for possession of less than 35 grams of the herb, and required that those cases be prosecuted as municipal rather than state criminal law violations (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/282/prop1.shtml).

This time around, initiative organizers are trying a slightly different tack. They have split their initiative in two, with one initiative legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana. While essentially the same as Proposition 1's medical marijuana provisions, the current initiative specifies that if the legalization of medical marijuana is found unconstitutional, persons found with less than 35 grams of pot would face a maximum $50 fine and community service.

The second initiative retreats somewhat from last year's Proposition 1. Last year, initiative supporters sought a maximum $25 fine in municipal court, while this year, the initiative would allow municipal courts to set the fine, with a maximum of $250.

Keeping minor marijuana possession cases in municipal rather than state court is an important issue in a college town like Columbia. A state conviction on even a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge can cost a student access to federal financial aid under the anti-drug provision of the Higher Education Act.

A $250 maximum is more than is usually handed out by local judge, local attorney (and NORML board member) Dan Viets told the Columbia Missourian. "The courts generally fine people $200 or less now," said Dan Viets, a lawyer working with NORML. "This would allow for an even higher fine."

Initiative supporters are now in the middle of signature-gathering. To make the November ballot, supporters need to gather signatures from 20% of votes in the last election, or some 2,276 signatures. Their deadline is late June.


8. Newsbrief: MPP Files New Challenge to Drug Czar's Nevada Campaigning

The Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org), which bumped heads with drug czar John Walters during its unsuccessful marijuana legalization campaign in Nevada two years ago, is trying once again to reign in White House politicking against its initiatives. This year, MPP and is local affiliate, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana (http://www.regulatemarijuana.org), are gathering signatures to put a modified version of the 2002 initiative on the ballot, and Walters has already shown up in the state to campaign against it.

accusations of
corruption continue
against US drug
czar John Walters
Now, MPP has filed suit in the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to force Walters to file campaign expense reports when he politics against the Nevada initiative. Under Nevada law, individuals or organizations who campaign for or against ballot questions must report their contributions or expenses to the office of the Secretary of State.

But in the face of a ruling from the White House Office of Special Counsel that Walters was exempt from state law after MPP complained in 2002, Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval ruled that Walters need not file campaign expenses. Walters was exempt because he was acting within the scope of his official duties, Sandoval ruled.

Sandoval's opinion is wrong, asserted MPP in its lawsuit, filed April 22. Walters indeed campaigned against the 2002 initiative, "with security detail in tow," MPP asserted. "[Walters] had a motorcade to shuttle him between television appearances in Las Vegas and Reno" and the federal officials racked up hotel expenses, MPP said.

If Walters was campaigning against the 2002 initiative -- he was -- and if he campaigns against this year's model -- he already has -- he should have to play by the same rules as everyone else, MPP told the Nevada Supreme Court. It is a question of "significant statewide impact in the regulating of [Nevada's] own election," the group told the justices.

MPP seeks to get a ruling from the Supreme Court that will require state officials to require that Walters play by the rules. As importantly, the MPP move puts Walters on notice that his attacks on reform initiatives will not go unchallenged.


9. Newsbrief: DEA Agent Demonstrates Gun Safety to School Kids -- By Shooting Himself

Now, here's a lesson on gun safety that will not quickly be forgotten. According to Orlando, Florida, television station WKMG, an Orlando-based DEA agent shot himself in the leg during a gun safety presentation to local kids. The agent, whom superiors mercifully refused to name, was treated at the Orlando Hospital Center after the April 9 incident and is now back on the job.

According to police reports, the agent drew his .40-caliber pistol and removed the magazine, then pulled back the slide and asked someone from the audience to look inside the gun and confirm it wasn't loaded. The pistol was pointed at the floor, and when he released the slide, one bullet fired into the top of his left thigh.

The DEA agent's presentation was at an event sponsored by the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association (http://www.omyga.org). There was no explanation as to the link between teen golf and gun safety.

But the agent's presentation had an impact, according to witnesses. "The kids screamed and started to cry," said Vivian Farmer, who attended the presentation with her 13-year-old nephew. "Everyone was pretty shaken up," Farmer told WKMG. "But the point of gun safety hit home. Unfortunately, the agent had to get shot. But after seeing that, my nephew doesn't want to have anything to do with guns."


10. Newsbrief: Justice Department Investigating National Drug Intelligence Center

In a series of stories last week, the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Times-Democrat reported that the Justice Department is investigating charges of mismanagement, sexism, and absentee leadership at the National Drug Intelligence Center (http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/). The center, located in Johnstown, employs more than 400 people to track drug trends, issue intelligence reports ("threat assessments"), and assist other government agencies in counterdrug, and increasingly, counterterror intelligence.

Alerted by repeated employee complaints, the Justice Department last week sent a team of investigators to Johnstown to begin a review of NDIC's management and listen to employee concerns, the newspaper said. Neither the Justice Department nor NDIC is talking much about the specifics of the complaints, but a Justice Department memo and a letter from employees obtained by the Times-Democrat sheds some light on problems with NDIC.

"Serious management and personnel issues have been reported by employees and supervisors within the National Drug Intelligence Center," Paul Corts, assistant attorney general for administration, wrote in the memo addressed to NDIC staff. After the allegations were reviewed at "numerous levels" within the Justice Department, wrote Corts. "A decision has been made to look more closely at the NDIC organization."

An anonymous statement released by employees of NDIC accused not only Justice Department officials but Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha (D), who represents Johnstown and was instrumental in getting the center located there in the early 1990s, of ignoring repeated complaints about a "hostile" environment in the agency. "Employees have been in fear of retribution for speaking out," they said in the statement. "For over two years, employees have communicated their concerns to Congressman Murtha's office."

The anonymous employees also said that NDIC administrators, led by Director Michael T. Horn, have exaggerated the agency's achievements, especially in counter-terrorism, an effort that has been praised by Attorney General John Ashcroft. "NDIC management continues to deceive (the public), particularly regarding NDIC support for counterterrorism efforts," the staff statement said.

They also complained about hiring practices and administrators' treatment of women. "Female employees who do not enjoy 'special' relationships with senior managers are frequently referred to in hostile, derogatory terms," the statement said.

And then there is Horn's extensive travel, often accompanied by his assistant, Mary Lou Rodgers. Although NDIC's mandate is domestic anti-drug intelligence, the peripatetic pair have racked up more than $164,000 in travel expenses traveling to Barbados, Jamaica, London, Paris, Romania and Hong Kong, among other destinations. That, too, has not gone over well with some employees. "It's waste and abuse," said an employee familiar with the situation, who spoke to the Tribune-Democrat on condition of anonymity. "These trips are a laughingstock, not only here but in the law-enforcement community."

"Our director, Michael T. Horn, has become an absentee director," wrote employees in their letter.

The House Intelligence Committee signs off on the center's annual budget, which reached $44.3 million this fiscal year. Committee staffers expressed an interest in the investigation when contacted by the Tribune-Democrat. "The committee is very interested in any result of any inquiry that the Justice Department may be conducting," spokesman Patrick Murray said. "If there is wrongdoing uncovered, we need to get to the bottom of it."


11. Newsbrief: Prison Building Binge Skews Census Figures, Shifts Benefits and Political Power, Study Says

So many prisons have been built in rural areas in recent years and so many prisoners housed in them that the impact is showing up in census figures -- and in local, state, and federal aid allocations based on those census figures. According to a study released April 29 by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research group, prisoners make up as much as 30% of the population of some rural counties. Because the US Census Bureau counts prisoners where they are being held, not where they live, the binge in prison construction since the 1980s is skewing financial assistance and political power toward rural counties, the study's authors said.

The numbers are dramatic. According to the report, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion," the number of state and federal prisons has jumped from 592 in 1974 to 1,023 in 2000. The report focuses, however, on the 10 states that led the way in prison building between 1980 and 2000. Those states are California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Texas.

During that period, the number of state and federal prisoners increased nearly eight-fold, from 316,000 to 1.3 million, with the war on drugs being a significant driving force. People doing time on drug charges typically account for 20-30% of state prison populations and nearly 70% of federal prisoners.

The "Big Ten" states responded with an unprecedented prison construction frenzy, with Texas alone accounting for 120 new prisons (compared to 17 total in 1980), while Florida has been second-busiest, building 84 new prisons, and California came in a close third with 83. New York placed fourth with 65 new prisons since 1980.

But it is the location as well as the sheer numbers of prisons and prisoners that is having an impact. In 1980, only 13% of US counties hosted prisons; now 31% do. In Florida, 78% of all counties have prisons; in California, 59%; in New York, 52%. And in rural counties, where legislators have viewed the prison boom as a jobs and economic development program, prisoners now account for significant portions of the population.

In 114 of the 1,052 counties included in the study, inmates counted for at least 5% of the county's population. Two counties -- one in Florida and one in Texas -- had populations that were composed of more than 30 percent prison inmates. Thirteen counties in the 10 states, including eight counties in Texas, had 20 to 29% of the resident population imprisoned in 2000. Each state had at least five counties in which 5 to 9% of the population was imprisoned and at least one county at the 10 to 19 percent level.

The most populous county with more than 10 percent of its residents incarcerated was Kings County, California, where 13 percent of its approximately 130,000 residents were in prison in 2000. The county with the largest share of its residents in prison was Concho County in Texas: With just under 4,000 people in 2000, it had 33 percent of its inhabitants in prison.

"Prisons built in communities far away from prisoners' homes make visitation more difficult," said report co-authors Jeremy Travis and Sara Lawrence. "But the locations of prisons can affect the distribution of political power, the allocation of governmental resources, and the economies of the communities in which the new institutions are built and those from which the prisoners are drawn. Every dollar transferred to a 'prison community' is a dollar that is not given to the home community of a prisoner, which is often among the country's most disadvantaged urban areas," they said.

"This study shows that the prison network is now deeply intertwined with American life, deeply integrated into the physical and economic infrastructure of a large number of American counties," added Travis. "This network has become a separate reality, apart from the criminal justice system," he said. "It provides jobs for construction workers and guards, and because the inmates are counted as residents of the counties where they are incarcerated, it means more federal and state funding and greater political representation for these counties."

"The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" is available at http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=410994 online.


12. This Week in History

May 11, 2000: Mexican cartel leaders the Arellano-Felix brothers are charged with 10 counts of drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and aiding and abetting violent crimes. The US State Department offers a $2 million reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

May 14, 1993: The New York Times reported that Judge Whitman Knapp said, "After 20 years on the bench I have concluded that federal drug laws are a disaster. It is time to get the government out of drug enforcement."


13. The Reformer's Calendar

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

May 7, 8:00pm, Los Angeles, CA, "Green Therapy," medical marijuana comedy show. Featuring Joe Rogan, Rick Overton, Dean Haglund and others. Admission $20 or $10 for patients with a compassion club card or a doctor's recommendation, funds to benefit the Inglewood Wellness Center and the Crescent Alliance Self Help for Sickle Cell/Nigritian Kief Society. Visit http://www.greentherapy.com or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

May 8, 8:00am-5:30pm, Vancouver, BC, Canada, "Beyond Prohibition: Legal Cannabis in Canada," featuring keynote speaker Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin. Sponsored by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, registration $20. For further information, visit http://www.bccla.org/pamphlet.pdf or contact Kirk Tousaw at [email protected] (preferred communication method) or (604) 687-2919.

May 13, 12:30-2:30pm, Washington, DC, "Social and Economic Dimensions of Conflict and Peace in Colombia," lunch time seminar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. At 1300 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 5th Floor Conference Room, RSVP to Elizabeth Bryan at [email protected] or (202) 691-4030, light lunch served.

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.

May 21-22, Sturgis, SD, "Fourth Annual Hemp Hoe Down," two-day educational event. At Elk View Campground, Exit 37 off I-90, $20 includes two days of live music, hemp food and hemp beer, and campaign, or $7 per day with $5 one-night camping fee, 1/3 of proceeds to benefit Alex White Plume and family. For further information visit http://www.HEMPhasis.net or contact Jeremy at (605) 484-1806 or [email protected].

June 4-5, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Legalize! street rave against the drug war. Visit http://www.legalize.net for further information.

June 5, 1:00pm, Ottawa, Canada, "Fill the Hill 2004: Freedom March on Parliament Hill," demonstration against marijuana prohibition. Visit http://www.fillthehill.ca or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

June 26, Copenhagen, Denmark, Assembly of members of the European NGO Council on Drugs (ENCOD), coinciding with the United Nations "Day Against Drug Abuse" spring event. Contact [email protected] before June 1 to attend, or visit http://www.encod.org for info.

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.


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

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