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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #338, 5/21/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: Benefit of the Doubt
  2. Vermont Becomes Ninth State to Legalize Medical Marijuana – Other States See Progress and Setbacks
  3. Not With a Bang but a Whimper: California Pain Doctor Frank Fisher Exonerated in Last Criminal Case
  4. Needle Exchange in New Jersey? Atlantic City Says Yes, Attorney General Says No
  5. Dope and Diplomacy in Dublin: European Union Conference Tries to Lay Groundwork for Continental Drug Strategy
  6. 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
  7. Newsbrief: New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion
  8. Newsbrief: Drug War Invades Ultimate Frisbee
  9. Newsbrief: One in 11 US Prisoners Doing Life, Study Finds
  10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  11. Newsbrief: Bill to Reform Harsh Tennessee Marijuana Sales Law Dies Lonely Death
  12. Newsbrief: Afghan Government Concedes It Includes Traffickers
  13. Newsbrief: Rural Maryland Cops Force Students to Disrobe During Drug Raid
  14. Web Scan: Ron Paul, Mayor Campbell, Westword, Nature, ACLU-TX Task Force Report, New DPFMA Web Site
  15. Job Opportunity -- Research Assistant, Office of Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Oakland, California
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: Benefit of the Doubt

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 5/21/04

David Borden
It's been some years since Diana McCague and the Chai Project challenged New Jersey's laws banning sterile syringe distribution. The efforts of Diana and her cohorts saved some lives while they lasted. But it was probably inevitable that the power of the state and the political opposition of drug warrior governor Christine Todd Whitman would end needle exchange in New Brunswick -- bringing the lives of some of their former clients to an untimely end in the process, one can presume is statistically likely. I remember some AIDS advocates commenting at the time that the next AIDS baby should be named "Christy," in the governor's honor. I don't remember that happening, though it would have been appropriate.

The next major chapter in New Jersey's needle exchange wars is now unfolding. Attorneys concerned with the issue have discovered that although state law might forbid private projects like the Chai Project (even there the key word is "might," state of emergency resolutions by city health departments are another option), the state has a law on the books that makes it legal for municipalities to distribute syringes. Based on that discovery, Atlantic City has decided to open a needle exchange program.

Unfortunately, that endeavor is now delayed. New Jersey's attorney general, Peter Harvey, has come out with an official pronouncement that in his opinion the law cited by Atlantic City officials only permits distribution of syringes to patients with a prescription for them. The lawyers, and the city, disagree, and in the end it would be for a court to decide that question, not the attorney general, who is just one lawyer, albeit a lawyer with a lot of clout and the power to challenge the city in court.

But also with the discretion to not challenge them. Advocates for syringe exchange believe that Harvey is flat out wrong and that the meaning of the statute is clear. Harvey has not explained his reasoning, while the advocates have explained theirs. But suppose he does have some legitimate legal point to raise. Still the best one could say, if so, would be there are arguments worth hearing on both sides of the issue that need to be sorted out.

New Jersey's legislature should move quickly to enact a bill sponsored by state senator Nia Gill to resolve any possible ambiguity and make the right for cities to do needle exchange completely explicit and irrefutable. In the meantime, though, needle exchange should move forward – the benefit of any legal doubt should lie with saving lives, not ending them by banning life-saving voluntary programs. As Gill told the Press of Atlantic City, "[t]he HIV statistics... are too disturbing for the state to ignore."

Especially for Atlantic City's marginalized and at risk, who face the possibility of contracting a deadly virus for every day the city is forced to wait. Sen. Gill remembers them, and Attorney General Harvey should too.

2. Vermont Becomes Ninth State to Legalize Medical Marijuana – Other States See Progress and Setbacks

The Vermont Senate voted Wednesday to make the state the ninth in the country to legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons. It is only the second to do so through the state legislature. The Hawaiian legislature approved medical marijuana in 2000, while voters resorted to the initiative process to win victories in seven states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. And aside from a vote in Maryland last year that allowed medical marijuana use as a defense against criminal charges, the victory in Vermont is the first for medical marijuana in the states in four years.

It is a done deal. The Vermont House approved the measure last week, and it passed the Senate by a 20-7 vote margin this week. Gov. James Douglas (R), who has been decidedly unenthusiastic about the bill, announced in a Wednesday press release that he will not veto it, but will allow it to pass into law unsigned.

"We are happy that the legislature and the governor finally listened to the people of Vermont," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (, the Washington, DC-based organization that backed the Vermont effort. "This took a whole lot of effort on the part of a lot of people, including a lot of brave patients in Vermont who stuck their necks out by coming forward. Now, we're going to have a law allowed to take effect by a Republican governor with bipartisan support," he told DRCNet.

While Vermont legislators okayed a medical marijuana bill, however, it was watered down in the process. Last year, the Senate approved a version that would have okayed medical marijuana for a broad range of conditions, allowed for the possession of up to seven plants, and placed registration of users under the Department of Health. But the version approved by the House last week narrowed the list of eligible conditions, reduced the number of plants allowed, and put the Department of Public Safety (the cops) in charge of the medical marijuana users' registry.

Under the bill as passed, only patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis may legally possess or grow a limited amount of medical marijuana. Patients growing their own marijuana are limited to a maximum of three plants in a locked room, while other patients may possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana.

"It's not exactly what we would have liked," said Mirken, "but it is better than what we got in Maryland. It shouldn't have been this difficult, and that's a sign of how out of touch some of these politicians are. The people understand how nuts it is to arrest sick people for merely trying not to suffer so badly. I don't know of any issue with this level of public support where it is so difficult to win a victory."

Officials in the office of Gov. Douglas told the Rutland Herald that the White House had lobbied him to veto the measure. Deputy drug czar Dr. Andrea Barthwell showed up last month to lobby against the bill, and "a Bush administration official" called Douglas urging him to reject it, the Herald reported. But if Washington was telling him one thing, Vermonters were telling him another -- and he listened.

Gov. James Douglas reluctantly declined
to veto Vermont's medical marijuana bill.
"I will not oppose this decision of the elected representatives of the people, nor will I support it by signing it into law," Douglas said Wednesday. "I cannot actively support a measure that allows Vermonters to be subject to prosecution under federal law, increases the availability of a controlled substance and sends a dangerous message to our children. I believe that we owe Vermonters with debilitating medical conditions the very best that medical science has to offer," Douglas said, before signaling that he was not fully convinced. "Proven science has not demonstrated that marijuana is part of that," he said. "Despite that fact, marijuana offers those with the most painful chronic diseases a measure of hope in a time of suffering."

A report in the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus even suggested that Gov. Douglas had pushed the House to pass its amended bill – in order to prevent the passage of the more far-reaching version approved last year by the Senate and to remove it as a campaign issue. The newspaper cited two nearly apoplectic Republican legislators, Rep. Loren Shaw and Rep. Nancy Sheltra, both of Derby, furious with Douglas for signaling support for the House version.

And Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs confirmed those accounts, calling the Senate version a "dangerous proposal" that was too far-reaching. "That was an extremely broad and, from a public safety point of view, dangerous proposal," Gibbs told the Times-Argus. "The administration has said to House leaders that if in fact their body is going to pass a marijuana bill, it should be as narrow as possible and address as many public safety concerns as possible."

Broad public support for medical marijuana influenced the governor and legislative leaders, said Gibbs. "What I do know is that the governor and legislative leaders have talked about the broad public support for a compassionate effort to help those with terminal illnesses and severe, debilitating conditions alleviate their symptoms."

A similar effort in Connecticut came agonizingly close before being killed by the House leadership in the last week of the state's legislative session. Reintroduced by Rep. James Abrams (D-Meriden) after losing in the House by 12 votes last year, the bill would have allowed persons suffering from diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis to grow and possess pot legally for medical reasons with a doctor's recommendation.

Abrams and medical marijuana supporters had enough support to get the bill approved by through three committees – Judiciary, Appropriations and Public Health – and, after that, in a House floor vote. With only a week left in the session, the bill should have been sent to the Senate for approval without delay.

But it was instead sabotaged by House Majority Leader James Amann (D-Milford), who claimed the bill now needed to be reviewed by the Finance committee. That committee, acting promptly, actually approved the bill, but Amann refused to return it to the floor for another vote.

In an interview with the Bridgeport News, Amann denied that he had maneuvered to kill the bill. "If I didn't want it heard or debated, it would not have made it that far," Amann said. "The reality is that the bill had to go back to Finance. That's part of the process." Amann argued that the late version of the bill had financial implications. "If it cost money, it has to go to finance," Amann said. "We did exactly what should have been done."

But the powerful legislator conceded he opposed the bill, saying medical marijuana was not proven. "There are still just too many questions," Amann said.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, medical marijuana bills remain alive in Rhode Island and New York state. The Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow patients with a qualifying illness and a doctor's recommendation to possess up to one ounce or grow up to six plants, has 20 cosponsors, broad public support, and "no organized opposition," said MPP's Mirken.

Prospects appear less cheery for the New York medical marijuana bill, as legislators in the Empire State devote all their attention to grappling with budget issues. But at worst, with the victory in Vermont, this is the first year since 2000 any state has managed to legalize medical marijuana.

3. Not With a Bang but a Whimper: California Pain Doctor Frank Fisher Exonerated in Last Criminal Case

Former Shasta County physician Dr. Frank Fisher was acquitted Tuesday of charges that he had defrauded the state Medi-Cal system, ending a nightmarish six-year legal odyssey that began with his being charged as a murdering drug dealer. Prosecutors who once charged him with multiple counts of murder saw their last chance to nail Fisher for any criminal violations end in a Redding jury room with eight verdicts of innocent.

Frank Fisher
"I'm profoundly relieved," said Fisher Thursday. "The system worked as it should, but really, really slowly. Shortly after they threw me in jail, my attorney, Patrick Hallinan, said they wouldn't get away with it, and they didn't," he told DRCNet. "I have now been exonerated twice by the courts."

The 1999 arrest of Fisher, along with local pharmacy owners, Steven and Madeline Miller, marked the beginning of a sensational, if ill-begotten, prosecution. Shasta County prosecutors indicted Fisher for the deaths of several patients, bizarrely including those of one patient who was a passenger in a fatal traffic accident and of one person who was not a patient but had stolen drugs from Fisher's patient.

When Fisher and the Millers were arrested, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said they had joined in "a highly sophisticated drug-dealing operation" that caused deaths, got hundreds of people hooked on drugs, and cost Medi-Cal about $2 million. After national publicity and much ridicule, those charges were dropped in January 2003.

Fisher has resolutely maintained his innocence all along, arguing that he was singled out for prosecution because he was one of the few physicians brave enough to prescribe high doses of narcotic pain relievers. His Westwood Walk-In Clinic in Redding served hundreds of patients in pain, including many poor people whose costs were paid by Medi-Cal. That Medi-Cal was footing the bill had something to do with charges being filed, too. "Prescribing opioids for pain is the most dangerous thing a doctor can do, particularly if he treats poor people," Fisher said.

It was Medi-Cal fraud charges that were at the core of Fisher's latest legal case. Prosecutors originally charged Fisher with 99 counts of medical fraud regarding Medi-Cal claims and improper prescribing, but a state court judge dismissed all but eight misdemeanor counts of improper billing earlier this year. Now, he has been found innocent.

"Prosecutors reactivated this case when their other case was falling apart," said Fisher. "The charges are seven or eight years old, and they basically amounted to allegations I stole $150 from the Medi-Cal program. The jury didn't buy it, but between the county and the state, they've spent tens of thousands of dollars on this case – and that's just for expert witnesses."

Here's what one juror had to say to Dr. Fisher in an e-mail he received after the trial: "I was juror #1. Now that I am home and can read about you on the Internet, my heart really goes out to you for what you have been through. I was upset that the prosecutor wasted my time and the court's time on such a weak case. But now that I know what you have really been through I feel embarrassed and selfish to be thinking about my own time. I hope you can reopen your clinic some day and get back to practicing medicine, in your office or back room or anywhere you choose. Thanks for doing the job most doctors won't."

But Dr. Fisher can't get back to practicing medicine just yet. "Having failed to win any convictions, the attorney general is now going to prosecute me yet again on the same charges, this time before the state medical board. They will try to go after my license in an administrative venue this time. It seems to me that there is something slightly unconstitutional in the same prosecutorial agency trying a guy three times in a row on the same charges in different venues."

But despite the remaining hurdle, pain patient advocates and Fisher supporters are claiming victory and demanding accountability from the officials involved. "Dr. Fisher's case signals the pressing need for systemic governmental reform at the state and federal level while highlighting the dangers present when the law enforcement community seeks to impose its outdated views on cutting edge medical practice," said Siobhan Reynolds of the pain patient advocacy group the Pain Relief Network (

"Over five years ago, Attorney General Bill Lockyer came to Redding and declared that by arresting and detaining Dr. Fisher, his prosecutors had shut down the biggest drug ring in the history of Northern California," Reynolds continued. "Apparently unaware that aggressive pain management had become a widely recognized imperative of mainstream medicine, Lockyer sought to characterize Dr. Fisher's practice as sinister. Most of Dr. Fisher's patients have been unable to obtain the quality of pain care they'd received from him, hundreds have deteriorated unnecessarily, and several have died as a result. At the time of Dr. Fisher's arrest, for example, twenty-five people who had been working, with Dr. Fisher's help, were forced to apply for full disability. In response, PRN intends to hold the State of California and participating counties and municipalities accountable for their wanton and reckless conduct."

Come back next week for an in-depth interview with Dr. Fisher on his ordeal and the broader issues of pain relief and law enforcement. In the meantime, visit his web site at online.

Visit for our summer 2000 interview with Dr. Fisher and the Millers.

4. Needle Exchange in New Jersey? Atlantic City Says Yes, Attorney General Says No

The long-simmering battle over providing injection drug users with clean needles in return for used ones is heating up again in New Jersey. Despite the fact that nearly half of all new HIV cases in the state are related to injection drug use, nearly twice the national average, New Jersey is one of only five states that require a prescription to purchase a syringe and, along with neighboring Delaware, one of only two states that have not passed laws explicitly allowing needle exchange programs (NEPs).

The situation is even worse in the resort town of Atlantic City. According to the city's HIV prevention staff, almost 60% of new HIV cases in the city are caused by needle-sharing, and the HIV rate among black males is among the highest in the state.

Supporters of NEPs cite numerous scientific studies to demonstrate that giving out clean needles to drug users saves lives by reducing infection rates for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Opponents claim that NEPs encourage or facilitate drug use.

Supported by a legal analysis provided by Roseanne Scotti of the Drug Policy Alliance's ( New Jersey office, last month Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford announced that the city could and would legally operate a NEP under a 1999 revision of the state criminal code. But despite language in the criminal code that seems clear on its face, and despite the contentions of Scotti, needle-exchange law experts, and city attorneys in Atlantic City and Camden, first a local prosecutor and now New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey have issued opinions stating that a city-operated NEP would be illegal.

Sen. Nia Gill is Championing
Needle Exchange in the
New Jersey Senate
As a direct response to the action of Attorney General Harvey, state Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) has filed a bill that would make explicit the right of any municipality in the state to operate such a program.

While the nay-saying opinions have not stopped the city's planned NEP program in its tracks – in the end the courts, not the Attorney General, interpret the law – they have put it on hold at least temporarily, said Gene Brunner, HIV coordinator for the city. "We are not looking to get into a fight with the county prosecutor and the attorney general," he told DRCNet. "Now that Sen. Gill has introduced that bill to allow cities to do NEPs, we will see how that plays out. The legislature goes on break on June 30, then it is up to us to decide how to proceed. In the meantime, we are still doing our homework on NEPs, getting ready to go."

"As part of the consolidation of the criminal code, the legislature moved authority over needle access from the food and drug section to the criminal code," explained Scotti. "The existing language on needle access included a list of individuals and entities that were exempt from the restrictions on possessing needles without a prescription. During the 1999 revision, they broadened the language to say these people and governmental entities were exempted not just from the ban on possessing needles but also from the ban on distributing them," she told DRCNet.

"The law is similar in effect to the law in California," she added. Although NEPs typically remain illegal in California, cities or counties can get around the law by declaring a health emergency, and have done so in most of California's large cities.

Scotti's analysis is correct, said Temple University law professor Scott Burris, a leading expert on needle exchange law, who told the Press of Atlantic City he would help represent the city if it came to that. "I look forward to finding out exactly what legal objection the attorney general has," Burris said. "The statute and its legislative history clearly show that local governments are exempt from the law against distributing syringes."

Burris will have to wait for a court case to find out Attorney General Harvey's objections, because he has not made them clear. "The attorney general agrees with the legal advice provided by the prosecutor," was all Harvey spokesman Chuck Davis told the Press on May 14. The prosecutor referred to is Atlantic County prosecutor Kevin Blitz, who a week earlier had issued an opinion against the NEP. In that opinion, Blitz argued that the 1999 criminal code revision only exempted the delivery of needles to people who had prescriptions.

Bring it on, said Scotti. "The officials of Atlantic City clearly have the legal authority to do what they're doing," Scotti said. "If the county prosecutor or the attorney general choose to challenge that in court, it would be ultimately, as always, for a judge to decide. We are confident that the judge, looking at the law, will find that the city is well within its legal authority in establishing such a program."

But arguments over the scope of the 1999 law revisions are on the back burner for now, as all eyes turn to Sen. Gill and her bill that would make clear the city's authority to operate a NEP. Gill, a prominent leader of the legislative black caucus, could persuade other black legislators to support needle exchanges. Last year, black Democratic state senators led by Ronald Rice (Essex) and Sharpe James (Newark) played key roles in killing a NEP bill.

"I will have to bring them all on board," Gill told the Press. "The community that's dying looks like them, and we have the statistics to show that whatever we're doing, it's not effective. The HIV statistics for the state are too disturbing for the state to ignore," she said. "Those are devastating numbers," Gill continued. "This is a health issue. If a municipality feels conditions have reached epidemic proportions, they should be allowed to do needle exchange."

But the clock is ticking toward the June 30 recess, and Atlantic City is eager to go. "If you look at the rate of HIV infection, particularly among African-Americans, it's off the charts," said Brunner. "We have a lot of support in the community, including from law enforcement and some black clergy, and we've also had a lot of letters and faxes supporting us from outside the community. We need to do something about this now."

5. Dope and Diplomacy in Dublin: European Union Conference Tries to Lay Groundwork for Continental Drug Strategy

More than 200 European drug experts (and some international observers) gathered in Dublin, Ireland, on May 10 and 11 as part of the European Union's effort to develop a continental drug strategy for the next five years. The conference, "EU Strategy On Drugs – The Way Forward," was designed to "facilitate an exchange of ideas between all participants and to agree on conclusions and recommendations on the main elements of a future EU drugs strategy," according to the EU's Justice and Home Affairs council.

But it didn't quite work out that way, according to Joep Oomen, who attended as an invited representative of ENCOD, the European NGO Council on Drugs (, an umbrella grouping of drug reform groups throughout Europe. Not only were no conclusions reached, Oomen reported, some governments reacted harshly to ENCOD's presence and the harm reduction and drug reform agenda it represented.

Oomen participated in a plenary panel session early in the conference, where he broached the topic of ending the drug war. "I was the only panel member to propose a fundamental change of logic in drug policy by referring to the need to start creating political 'room for maneuver' for policies that are not based on prohibition," ENCOD's representative reported.

That same plenary panel then viewed a video featuring drug reform activists and experts, including activists Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt and Danny Kushlick from Britain and Jan van der Tas from the Netherlands, as well as British harm reductionist David Liddell. Academics featured in the video were Tomas Zabransky from the Czech Republic, Mike Trace from Britain, and Krzysztof Krajewski from Poland. All called on viewers "to work toward a review of existing policies," reported Oomen.

That was a bit much for some of the more prohibitionist governments in attendance, who reacted vociferously during the panel's discussion period. "The first three governments to react – Belgium, Italy and Greece – immediately protested against my presence," Oomen wrote. "The Belgian government even used the word 'scandalized' to describe their feelings on my presentation and the content of the video, accusing the organizers of being extremely biased in their choice of speakers. They also felt scandalized by the fact that ENCOD had dared to use the EU symbol in our flyer" (

Joep Oomen
With the hot rhetoric becoming the talk of the conference, wrote Oomen, other reform-resistant governments grew irritated. "Some governments, especially Sweden, Italy, France and even Germany, were quite outraged about the fact that the call for change in drug policies had been at the center of attention in the morning," he reported. That anger manifested itself in the conference's remaining workshops, where some representatives were positively "Pavlovian," Oomen wrote. "Every time the word harm reduction was mentioned, they would fly up and state that this could not be the objective of EU drug policy, which still had to be based on reduction of drug consumption etc."

This is an odd position, given that harm reduction is already part of official European Union drug policy. When it adopted the current action plan in June 2000 at the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira, the EU explicitly embraced harm reduction. "The plan notably refers to reducing the adverse consequences of drug use," explains the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Commission. "This means that harm-reduction measures such as needle-exchange programs or providing treatment as an alternative to imprisoning problem users are encouraged."

The current EU drug strategy sets six main targets:

  • reduce significantly over five years the prevalence of drug use, as well as new recruitment to it, particularly among young users under 18 years of age;
  • reduce substantially over five years the incidence of drug-related health damage (HIV, hepatitis, TBC, etc.) and the number of drug-related deaths;
  • increase substantially the number of successfully treated addicts;
  • reduce substantially over five years the availability of illicit drugs;
  • reduce substantially over five years the number of drug-related crimes;
  • reduce substantially over five years money laundering and the illicit trafficking of precursors.
"All the best available evidence suggests that of these six objectives, only one can be said to have met with some success: an increase in the number of persons treated," ENCOD noted in its formal presentation to the conference, before casting a skeptical eye even at drug treatment. "But isn't this is a dubious achievement, if we recognize that many of the individuals who go into treatment do so only because they wish to avoid sanctions or fines after being detained by police for minor quantities of illicit drugs? Can we point to success if in fact many of these people do not really need treatment at all, as surveys in several countries reveal to be the case?"

Although presentations were given by a number of drug experts, politicians, and police types, reported Oomen, there was little such talk in Dublin, at least not formally. Instead, there were many cries for more research (and more funding) and more international law enforcement cooperation. The relative sterility of the debate, said Oomen, was because Sweden, Italy, Belgium, France and Germany refused to enter into real discussion. "Their goal seemed mainly to sabotage the debate, to make sure no mention was made that would open the Pandora's box [of legalization]." That left "a bitter aftertaste" among participants, he noted.

It was different in the hallways, said Oomen. "Meanwhile, several representatives came to me and said that on a personal title, they agreed with lots of the things we were saying. Especially the representatives of the new EU Member States were very positive, saying that they did not agree with the Belgian representative. They said that from own experience, they knew all too well how 'civil society' is treated by authorities and that the future is ours."

Oomen also reported "positive talks" with Irish, Dutch, Slovenian, Czech, Finnish, Cypriote, Slovak, Bulgarian and Hungarian, European Commission and Council of Europe delegates, and "even a constructive conversation with someone from the Swedish Ministry of Justice, who also said that he found the drug debate too dogmatic." The 100 copies of the formal ENCOD statement to the conference were also quickly grabbed up, he said. "In personal conversations, one could feel however that even repressive governments (like Denmark and Sweden) do not have a real response to the argument that more law enforcement on drugs means more money to organized crime. They typically respond by saying that we do not have a proposal of how to do things in a post-prohibition system, and as long as we do not have answers to many questions on how such a system could function they will never take us seriously."

And so it goes as the EU plods toward a new drug strategy. The EU 2005-2008 action plan on drugs must be designed by October for final approval in the spring of 2005. And ENCOD's Oomen remains optimistic despite the apparent rigidity in the halls of the EU. The action plan will include an evaluation of the current drug strategy, and the facts are not the side of the prohibitionists. "We already know that these will be favorable for our cause," Oomen told DRCNet.

Read Oomen's complete report and the ENCOD Dublin presentation online at and respectively.

Read about European Union drug strategy online at:

Read about the European Union drug action plan online at:

6. 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 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 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 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.

7. Newsbrief: New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion

Under its zero-tolerance anti-drug policy, the Washington Township, New Jersey, school district expelled Adam Gutin in August 2000 and has kept him from returning ever since. Gutin was expelled after testing positive for marijuana in a school-administered drug test. Now, he is suing the school district in federal court, charging that both the drug testing and the district's harsh punishment are unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit filed last month, Gutin claims that although he consented to be tested, he was too young to lawfully consent, and his parents did not give permission. In one case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld school drug testing at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, the court noted the school district in question required consent from both student and parent.

Gutin's attorney, Christopher Manganello, told the South Jersey News that he was also suing on the grounds that Gutin did not receive equal protection under the law. Gutin was deprived of a "free and appropriate public education" because of the district's zero-tolerance policy. The district did not consider "reasonable alternative educational options," the lawsuit alleges.

In the Hunterdon case upheld by the State Supreme Court, students who tested positive were not expelled but only suspended from non-educational activities and required to take counseling or other treatment. The district also established an assistance program that provided drug counseling for students and their families. But the Washington Township school system provides none of that – only expulsion.

Gutin and his parents are suing for punitive damages as well as damages to cover fees and the costs of repeated appeals. Legal costs for the appeals have been "substantial," Manganello said.

8. Newsbrief: Drug War Invades Ultimate Frisbee

First, the drug testers came for the chess players, and we did nothing ( And now the inexorable, totalitarian logic of drug prohibition has invaded the laid-back domain of competitive Frisbee, or, in this world leery of copyright infringement, flying discs. The sport's governing body, the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), voted May 2nd at its annual conference in Santa Cruz, California, to adopt the World Anti Doping Code, a drug testing regime that will subject Frisbee players to rigorous, Olympic-style drug testing.

Under the anti doping rules adopted by the WFDF, competitive Frisbee-tossers will be punished not only for using performance enhancing steroids, but also for having smoked marijuana within recent days. The rules are not just for international competitors, but to "all member national flying disc associations of WFDF ("Member Associations") and all players participating in the events organized by WFDF or its members."

The drug testing rules are harshing the mellow of some disc enthusiasts. The United Kingdom Flying Disc Association News, warned its readers that even participation in student events sanctioned by the WFDF could get you drug tested.

And that is a real pain, the News complained. "You won't be able to take cough syrups anymore -- almost all of them have a banned substance. You won't be able to sit in a room with someone smoking a spliff for fear of second-hand smoke making it into your bloodstream. If four or more people on your team still have alcohol in their system on Sunday morning, the team can be disqualified and banned for up to two years," the litany continued. "No raving anytime near a tournament. If you are a diabetic or an asthmatic, you will need to fill out forms, have them signed by your doctor, and submit them to a UKUA advisory panel before you can use an inhaler or take insulin (this will probably end up costing an administration fee).

"Unless you research your herbal supplements in a book 1,000 pages long, you won't be able to ascertain whether they are legal," the News went on. "Your wife will be prohibited from taking fertility treatment or anticancer drugs even if she plays on your third team because if tested she could have all three teams disqualified. And it you want to dispute the disqualification you have to take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (in Montreal). And this is all before you consider how much extra tournament and UKUA fees will be once you add the cost of drug testing. And let's not forget getting jabbed or having someone watch you pee."

What these whiners fail to understand is that theirs is a small price to pay to make the world safe from Frisbee-related drug scandals. If this prevents one child from growing up to play Frisbee while stoned, it was worth it! And you hacky-sackers, watch out. You're next.

Read the WFDF drug testing announcement and related documents at online.

View the World Anti Doping Associations list of prohibited substances at online.

9. Newsbrief: One in 11 US Prisoners Doing Life, Study Finds

Nearly 128,000 people are serving life sentences in state and federal prisons in the United States, and more than one-quarter of them are doing life without parole. The number of people doing life sentences has increased a whopping 83% in the past decade, even as the violent crime rate dropped 35% during that same period.

"Tough on crime" sentencing policies are the main reason for the dramatic increase, said The Sentencing Project, the Washington, DC-based sentencing reform advocacy and research group that released the study. The group pointed specifically at mandatory minimum sentences and tougher parole and commutation policies.

The report studied prisoners who may end up serving life, such as those sentenced to 25-to-life under California's "three strikes" law, as well as those doing life without any possibility of parole. Among the former group, the average number of years spent behind bars has risen from 21.9 to 29.0 in the decade from 1992 to 2002, the study found. But as a group, the lifers showed much less propensity to re-offend, with only 20% being arrested again within three years of release, compared to 68% of the general inmate population.

Slightly more than 90% of lifers have been sentenced for violent crimes, 68% for murder, but drug offenders make up 4% of the lifer population, people doing sentences for economic crimes make up 3.9%, and a mysterious "other" constitutes 2% of lifers.

"The people serving life have committed serious offenses, but it doesn't mean that imposing life sentences across the board is always appropriate or the best crime control strategy," said Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project and coauthor of the study.

Read "The Meaning of 'Life:' Long Prison Sentences in Context" at online.

10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

While this feature has taken a brief hiatus, cops corrupted by the drug war have not. And they've been particularly busy lately, so without any further ado:

Third prize this week goes to a so-far unnamed chemist employed until last week by the Missouri Highway Patrol. According to the Springfield News-Leader, the chemist resigned May 10th after being accused of stealing methamphetamine from the samples he was supposed to be testing. Prosecutors told the newspaper "several hundred" drug cases are jeopardized because "his credibility is gonna be shot."

The chemist, a civilian employee of the patrol for six years, worked at the state's crime lab at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. Springfield Police, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, and Troop D of the Highway Patrol are undertaking criminal investigations, they told the News-Leader.

In second place is former Georgia police officer Brandon McDonald, sentenced Monday to six years in prison after pleading guilty to selling drugs. McDonald, who had worked for law enforcement agencies in Rockdale, Newton, Walton, Jasper, and Morgan counties, repeatedly sold methamphetamine to undercover officers working for the Atlanta-area East Metro Drug Enforcement Team in 2002.

McDonald had another former cop, Greg Rogers, as an accomplice in his off-duty drug dealing business. Rogers, who has pleaded not guilty and faces 76 years in prison, has been jailed since October, when both men were denied bond after Rogers reportedly threatened agents involved in arresting them, Atlanta TV-station WSB-TV reported.

no more glory days for
Sheriff Gerald Hege
But this week's winner is a former corrupt cop of the week, Sheriff Gerald Hege of Davidson County, North Carolina ( Hege, a self-promoting drug war macho who made humiliating prisoners part of his schtick. Hege last graced these pages in September, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury on 15 felony counts, including embezzling money from the department's "drug buy" fund to be used on his reelection campaigns.

Better make that "ex-Sheriff Hege," because as part of a plea agreement announced Monday, Hege resigned as sheriff. But while he lost his status as a tough, drug-fighting lawman, he gained the new status of convicted felon. He pled to two counts of obstruction of justice. Unlike the prisoners who formerly languished under his stewardship of the Davidson County jail, Hege will not wear a striped uniform nor reside in a jail painted pink. Instead, the man who used to sell posters of himself in paramilitary get-up saying "Do the crime scumbag, and you'll do the time," got two suspended six-month sentences and will do three years on probation, the first three months on house arrest with an electronic monitor wrapped around his ankle.

The 15 counts Hege had faced included charges of racial profiling, brutality toward inmates at the jail, and attempting to intimidate officers he suspected of cooperating with investigations into his affairs, as well as stealing $6,200.

11. Newsbrief: Bill to Reform Harsh Tennessee Marijuana Sales Law Dies Lonely Death

Under Tennessee law, selling a half-ounce of marijuana can get you up to six years in prison, and it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. State Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) attempted the not-so-radical move of raising that amount to one ounce, but his bill to do so died because he could not get a single senator to second it in committee, the Nashville City Paper reported this week.

In the land of Elvis, possession of up to a half-ounce of pot is misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, but selling a half-ounce garners the same penalty as selling 10 pounds: one to six years in prison.

Cohen told the City Paper he made the proposal in the context of proposals to stiffen the state's penalties for methamphetamine possession to make them as tough as those for cocaine. Cohen, who said that marijuana ought to be legalized, added that his experience with the marijuana bill showed how hard it is to undo legislation already on the books. "It just shows, once you pass a bad law, it's difficult to change it," he said.

12. Newsbrief: Afghan Government Concedes It Includes Traffickers

As the Afghan opium crop moves toward another record harvest this year, and US officials warn darkly that the trade is filling the coffers of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a high official of the US-backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai has admitted that the traffickers and their supporters are part of the regime. Corrupt officials and regional warlords, who prop up the weak Karzai government, are threatening to engulf the nation's economy and turn it into a "narcostate," Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told a Kabul press conference May 13.

"I can't tell you particularly who is doing what, but generally I can say, yes, we have proof that government officials, including security officials, are involved in drug trafficking," said Jalali, according to an account in the Washington Times. Government officials either protect the trade for a cut in the profits or are directly involved, he said.

"In some parts, criminals are supported by those who have power," he said, referring to regional warlords such as Abdul Rostum who hold sway over large parts of the country. "In some cases, we have been able to identify and arrest them; in other cases, we have not been able to capture them." That is too often because of corruption, he said. "Unfortunately in Afghanistan administrative corruption is one of our main problems."

And if the Afghan government is doing what it can to flood the streets of Europe with cheap heroin, the Russians announced this week they will assist by removing their troops from the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, where some 20,000 of them have fought the cross-border drug traffic since entering the country to maintain stability after a civil war that ended in 1997.

"We are pulling out of Tajikistan in general," First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacjeslav Trubnikov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "The result will be a porous border. Porous means drugs. The Americans are not happy with this," Trubnikov said. "They know that things get past us at the moment, so the drugs traffic will spread further."

13. Newsbrief: Rural Maryland Cops Force Students to Disrobe During Drug Raid

It was supposed to be business as usual – just another police dog drug search – at Kent County High School in Maryland's Eastern Shore on April 16, but it ended up with 16 students patted down and two female students ordered to strip down and be inspected by a female sheriff's deputy. No drugs or other contraband were found on any of the 18 students.

Drug dogs brought in by the Kent County Sheriff's Department at the behest of the school district sniffed about 250 book bags at the school and alerted on 18. The owners of those 18 book bags were the students who got searched.

Now, the Baltimore Sun reported, Kent County Sheriff John Price has conceded his deputies were on shaky legal ground. "We were acting under what we thought was probable cause, and we still believe there was probable cause," he said. "At the same time, it was an area that was unclear," Price said. "We didn't know it was a gray area."

He is reviewing the department's policy, he said. So is the school district. Superintendent Bonnie Ward told the Washington Post the high school policy on searches is being reviewed, but added that safe, drug-free schools are her "top priority."

But Ward's top priority may soon turn out to be defending the district from lawsuits filed by outraged students like Heather Gore and her parents. According to the Post, Gore, a varsity tennis player and majorette in the school marching band, broke down in tears as described her ordeal at a recent school board meeting held to discuss the raid.

"My name is Heather Gore," she began, sobbing before even the first word was out. "I am a sophomore at Kent County High School, and on April 16, I was forced to endure a partial strip-search due to a drug search carried out by the Kent County Sheriff's Office. The humiliation that I endured that day, and that I am still enduring, is overwhelming."

Heather, 15, and fellow sophomore Lacey Fernwalt, 16, were taken to a room with a school administrator, where a female deputy ordered them to partially undress. Lacey removed her pants, and the deputy, Marcellene Beck, looked inside her bra, she said. According to Heather, Beck told her to remove her skirt then lifted her tank top, exposing her breasts. Then Beck told Heather to spread her legs as the deputy tugged at the edges of her underwear. "I was crying and hyperventilating. I sat there in disbelief," she told the Post. "I'm still so embarrassed," she said.

Heather's mom, Patricia Gore, is looking for more than a simple policy review. An apology would be nice, she said. "I certainly have a lot of things besides lawyers' fees I need to spend money on, but my daughter shouldn't have had to go through all this, and neither should anyone else," she said.

The Gores may get some help from the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Deborah Jeon, managing attorney for the group's Eastern Shore office, told the Sun. "I think there is a very significant question as to how the entire sweep could be consistent with the Maryland regulation prohibiting investigative searches by a police officer unless there is a warrant," Jeon said. Those regulations also bar police from searching a student unless the student is under arrest or believed to be concealing a weapon, she added.

14. Web Scan: Ron Paul, Mayor Campbell, Westword, Nature, ACLU-TX Task Force Report, New DPFMA Web Site

The War on Drugs is a War on Doctors, by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX):

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell addresses the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association conference in Vancouver:

Westword, Colorado's most widely read weekly, reviews Sheriff Masters' "The New Prohibition":

Nature magazine article and editorial on MDMA and post traumatic stress disorder, with commentary by Rick Doblin -- go to May 13th news entries

"Flawed Enforcement," report on Tulia-style drug task forces by the ACLU of Texas:

Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts launches new web site under new leadership:

15. Job Opportunity -- Research Assistant, Office of Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Oakland, California

The Office of Legal Affairs of Drug Policy Alliance, based in Oakland, California, pursues drug policy reform goals through impact litigation, legislative drafting for local and state bodies, and advocacy on behalf of public health interventions which address the problems associated with substance abuse at the individual, family and community levels. The office works on a variety of issues, including reforming sentencing laws; increasing access to substance abuse treatment services instead of incarceration; increasing acceptance and implementation of harm reduction services; reducing drug testing and other pervasive surveillance technologies; increasing eligibility for public benefits for individuals with drug problems or prior drug convictions; providing for lawful use and supply of medical marijuana and sacramental cannabis; ensuring adequate treatment of severe and chronic pain free from federal interference; combating the criminalization of pregnant drug users; and addressing racial disparities in drug laws and sentencing.

The Research Assistant supports the work of the attorneys in the Office of Legal Affairs through research, writing and editing, and a variety of other tasks. Responsibilities include:

  • Research: Compiling public health, medical and criminal justice resources in order to supplement briefs, legislative materials, website content, and talking points produced by the Office of Legal Affairs.
  • Project Management: Managing various projects and ensuring that tasks are completed and deadlines met, maintaining databases and contact information, organizing meetings, and providing regular updates to staff and constituents.
  • Litigation Support: Conducting witness interviews, editing briefs, interviewing potential plaintiffs for litigation, assisting in the production of briefs, and researching factual, medical and social science issues specific to litigation.
  • Community Outreach and Education: Drafting public presentations and educational materials, press releases and website content, collaborating with community based organizations, and attending community meetings or hearings.
  • Administrative: Responding to e-mail and phone requests for assistance, assisting with basic administrative functions, recruiting and supervising interns, and assisting office manager in providing technical support to the office.
Applicants should be self-motivated, detail-oriented and must have a strong commitment to the purpose and goals of the Drug Policy Alliance. Strong writing, editing and analytic skills are a must. Applicants must have a BA or equivalent degree. Drug Policy Alliance is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and encourages women, people of color, and gays and lesbians to apply.

Salary DOE, benefits include full medical, dental, and vision, 403B plan, and a generous vacation package. Job begins July 2004. Applicants should mail a cover letter, resume, and the names and phone numbers of two references on or before June 11 to: Brenda Smeeton, Office Manager, Drug Policy Alliance, 717 Washington Street, Oakland, CA 94607, or by e-mail (preferred) to [email protected].

16. The Reformer's Calendar

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

May 20-22, Charlottesville, VA, Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. At the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, visit 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 or contact Jeremy at (605) 484-1806 or [email protected].

May 22, Chicago, IL, Drug War Awareness Party, event celebrating Columbia College SSDP's new recognition as a student organization. Contact Emily Fioramonte at [email protected] for information.

May 26, 7:30pm, Kailoura, New Zealand, Drug Policy Forum Trust public presentation on medical marijuana. At the Old Government Buildings, Room LT3, 3 Lambton Quay, Wellington (across from Beehive and Cenotaph), free and open to the public. For further information, contact DPFT at 083 275 557 or [email protected] or visit online.

May 27, 7:30pm, Kailoura, New Zealand, Drug Policy Forum Trust public presentation on medical marijuana. At the Old Government Buildings, Room LT3, 3 Lambton Quay, Wellington (across from Beehive and Cenotaph), free and open to the public. For further information, contact DPFT at 083 275 557 or [email protected] or visit online.

June 3, 7:00pm, Los Angeles, CA, "Un-Cabaret" benefit event for Drug Policy Alliance, featuring Arianna Huffington, Laura Kightlinger, Beth Lapides, Bill Maher, Kevin Nealon, Jill Sobule, Jerry Stahl and Tenacious D (Jack Black & Kyle Gass). At the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., contact Mann Productions at (323) 314-7000 for further information.

June 4, US, National Day of Action for Medical Marijuana, visit for further information.

June 4-5, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Legalize! street rave against the drug war. Visit for further information.

June 5, noon-dark, Jacksonville Beach, FL, "7th Annual Jacksonville Hemp Fest," sponsored by the Florida Cannabis Action Network Jacksonville chapter. At Sea Walk Pavilion, visit for further information.

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

June 18, 6:00-8:30pm, Washington, DC, fundraiser for the Prevention Works! needle exchange program. At Ellington's on 8th, 424 8th Street, SE, minimum donation $25 tax-deductible. Visit http:// or contact (202) 588-5580 or [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 for info.

July 9, Bangkok, Thailand, "Human Rights at the Margins: HIV/AIDS, Prisoners, Drug Users and the Law," satellite conference preceding the 15th International AIDS Conference. Sponsored by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit (India), the International Harm Reduction Development Program, and the Thai Drug Users Network, co-hosted by UNAIDS with additional partner ICASO. Registration fee $75, can be waived for persons with HIV or from developing countries, limited to 125 participants. For further information, visit or contact Natalie Morin at (514) 397-6828 or [email protected].

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

August 30, 3:00-6:00pm, New York, NY, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network protest against the drug war and mandatory minimum sentences, requested location 7th Ave. between 24th & 34th Streets. For further information e-mail [email protected] or visit online.

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

September 20, Shrewsbury, MA, "Help or Hurt: Responding to the Criminalization of Mental Illness and Addiction," forum sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts. At Hoagland Pincus Center, registration opens June 15, visit for further information.

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

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