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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #340, 6/4/04

"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: Backwards Again
  2. Federal Court Slaps Down Congressional Effort to Censor Drug Reform Mass Transit Ads
  3. Jail and Prison Population at an All-Time High -- Three Decades of Unbroken Increases
  4. New York: Edging Closer to Rockefeller Drug Law Reform, Sort Of
  5. DRCNet Interview: Arnold Trebach, Grand Old Man of American Drug Reform
  6. Drug Reformers Remember Sam Dash
  7. ALERT: Medical Marijuana Summer
  8. Newsbrief: Wisconsin Defense Attorneys Challenge Drugged Driving Law
  9. Newsbrief: Libertarian Party Chooses Dark Horse Badnarik for Presidential Nomination
  10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  11. Newsbrief: California Assembly Passes Bill to Let Some Drug Felons Receive Food Stamps
  12. Newsbrief: Texas Medical Association, Canadian AIDS Society Give Nod to Medical Marijuana
  13. This Week in History
  14. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Editorial: Backwards Again

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 6/4/04

David Borden
This week's Drug War Chronicle includes an interview with drug reform elder statesman Arnold Trebach, who among other things founded the Drug Policy Foundation, predecessor organization to today's Drug Policy Alliance and the group that more than any other served the goal of making opposition to the war on drugs respectable in US society. Back in the DPF days, the organization had a series of advertisements (and t-shirts, sorry, I don't think there are any left) sporting text about various drug war outrages, but spelled backwards. Then came the punch line in big print, spelled forwards: "Many of our drug policies are backwards."

One example of a backwards policy is Wisconsin's new "drugged driving" law, prompted by US drug czar John Walters' national campaign to get states to pass such laws. Under the Wisconsin law, any quantity of illegal drugs, no matter how minute, invokes a presumption under the law that the driver was impaired and shall be punished heavily. Attorneys in the state are preparing to challenge it, based on the reality that some of these drugs can remain in the system for periods of time extending long after the user is no longer under the influence.

District Attorney Phillip Koss of Walworth County inadvertently demonstrated how backwards the law is. Koss told the newspaper the Journal Sentinel, "We're taking the approach that these drivers should be placed at the high end of the sentencing range because we have no way of measuring impairment and because these drugs are illegal to begin with."

Well no, they do have ways of measuring impairment -- such as asking the driver to walk in a straight line, and there are other ways. They've just decided not to use them. And criminal justice is supposed to be about actual known guilt beyond a reasonable doubt -- a standard that in legal terms applies to the findings of a jury, but which is also a good guiding principle for how law ought to be written. If Koss and his subordinates don't know that a driver was impaired or had engaged in consumption that can reasonably be expected to place one at risk of being impaired, what is the basis in practical or ethical terms for prosecuting such a person with the goal of putting him or her behind bars?

This is not to say that laws criminalizing driving under the influence are bad in and of themselves. Everyone I know agrees that it is wrong to operate a motorized vehicle while impaired from any cause -- alcohol, illegal drugs, sleep deprivation, incompetence, whatever. One of the reasons the new Wisconsin drugged driving law is backwards, in fact, is that it consumes limited law enforcement resources that could otherwise be used to target actual impaired drivers or to enforce other laws protecting property or persons. Indeed, drug reformers often argue that public safety would be more effectively sought by criminalizing only the smaller number of people who drive dangerously because of substance use rather than the larger number who intoxicate themselves without driving.

Prohibition, then, is itself backwards -- it is wasteful and unjust to persecute all users of drugs because of the sins or failings of merely some users. The drug warriors are too far into this, however, to willingly forego their backwards logic in favor of enlightened, forward thinking policy reform. Perhaps they feel if they concede even one point, their house of cards will tumble and the rest of the drug war will unravel as well. If so, I think so too -- ordinary people want safe communities more than they want the drug war, and only need to be educated on the truth of what the drug war is doing to become our allies.

Speak up in your communities! You might not win the argument this week, this month or this year. But if you say sensible things out loud, and do so over and over, eventually your neighbors will listen, and ultimately you will win the argument -- because the other side has it backwards, and you have it right. Help the people learn to look forwards; sound the warning bells when so-called "leaders" try to push things in a backwards direction. The truth is on your side.


2. Federal Court Slaps Down Congressional Effort to Censor Drug Reform Mass Transit Ads

A federal judge Wednesday ruled that a federal law prohibiting the display of paid advertisements advocating marijuana law reform on municipal buses and transit systems receiving federal funding is unconstitutional. Passed by Congress as a section of this year’s federal spending bill at the urging of Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) and known as the "Istook Amendment," the law was provoked by a marijuana reform advertising display on Washington, DC metro facilities. Arranged by the Massachusetts-based marijuana reform group Change the Climate (http://www.changetheclimate.org), the ads caused Rep. Istook such distemper that he crafted legislation jerking federal funds from any transit authority that allowed such paid messages to be posted. In all, transit authorities across the country faced the loss of more than $3 billion if they ran paid political ads advocating reform of the marijuana laws.

Change The Climate's
controversial subway ad
Change the Climate had run earlier ad campaigns in Washington, but the one that moved the Oklahoma conservative to act, but the ad that drove him crazy was controversial even within drug reform circles. It featured a man holding a woman in his arms above the words "Enjoy Better Sex: Legalize and Regulate Marijuana." While Istook remained blissfully unaware (or at least quiet about) earlier Change the Climate ads, the sex-drugs nexus appeared too much for him to handle.

But US District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled that Istook's law violates the First Amendment by infringing on the free speech rights of Change the Climate. "Just as Congress could not permit advertisements calling for the recall of a sitting mayor or governor while prohibiting advertisements supporting retention, it cannot prohibit advertisements supporting legalization of a controlled substance while permitting those that support tougher drug sentences," wrote Friedman. "The government has articulated no legitimate state interest in the suppression of this particular speech other than the fact that it disapproves of the message, an illegitimate and constitutionally impermissible reason."

"I'm delighted with the ruling," said Joseph White, the Massachusetts-based businessman who founded Change the Climate. "Now, we can continue to advertise our message about marijuana reform on transit systems and billboards, and now we can do that in every transit system in the country. Before the ruling, we were barred from presenting an alternative point of view to the government's position," he told DRCNet.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Change the Climate, the Marijuana Policy Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Drug Policy Alliance after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), citing fears of losing federal funding, refused to allow Change the Climate to place more ads. The lawsuit targeted WMATA for refusing the ads, and the federal Department of Transportation, which would withhold funds from offending transit agencies.

The suit was argued by Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project. "The court ruled that Americans have a right to hear the message that marijuana prohibition has been a cruel and expensive failure," Boyd said in a statement after the ruling. "The constitution protects these messages from the type of viewpoint-based discrimination attempted by the federal government."

Change the Climate is already plotting new campaigns, White said. "We're in discussions right now about how to approach the next six months. There is some discussion about how to advertise at the Democratic and Republican conventions, but that isn't entirely clear because some of our funders are concerned we would raise the marijuana issue and hurt Kerry's chances. They feel we would be better off with Kerry than with Bush."

Congressional conservatives walked into a trap, said White. "Change the Climate decided to place a Trojan horse right outside Congress in the hope that those self-righteous, moralistic conservatives would take the bait and show their true colors. And indeed, the anti-reform members of Congress took it hook, line, and sinker, and provided us with a great opportunity to educate Americans about the folly, futility, and expense associated with the war against marijuana," he said.

"This actually worked out quite well," White continued. "We devised a strategy that allowed us to include all these other groups, we ended up with a great coalition effort, and I have to give everyone credit who was involved. I also am grateful for all the contributions that have come in just since the ruling was announced. This is a great victory not only for free speech but for marijuana reform."

And Boston, where Change the Climate has a similar lawsuit pending against the local transit authority, is next, said White. "I can't help but believe that today's decision will put pressure on the court to rule in our favor," he said.


3. Jail and Prison Population at an All-Time High -- Three Decades of Unbroken Increases

For the thirty-first straight year, the number of people America throws behind bars has increased, leaving the nation with an all-time high of nearly 2.1 million people incarcerated at the end of June 2003, according to an annual report released last week by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Despite sentencing reforms and other measures to trim prison budgets in the states in recent years, the number of people behind bars increased by 57,600, a 2.9% rate of increase, the largest in four years. Growth was fastest in the federal prison system, which swelled by 5.4% to more than 170,000 prisoners, well over half of them drug offenders, compared to a much lesser 2.6% rate of increase in state prison populations. The drug war drives the increase in the federal system, with drug offenders accounting for nearly half (48%) of the increase.

Southern Correctional Institution, Troy, NC
The report did not look at the number of drug offenders imprisoned, but another Bureau of Justice Statistics report found more than 246,000 people doing time in state prisons at the end of 2002, as well as more than 78,000 doing federal time for drug crime. That report did not specify the number of drug offenders in city or county jails, but in past years that figure has been in the tens of thousands. According to that report, drug offenders accounted for 15% of the overall growth in prison populations.

Not only is the absolute number of prisoners continuing to rise, the bureau found, but incarceration rates continue to increase as well. At midyear 2003, 718 out of every 100,000 Americans were behind bars, up from 701 the previous year. With recent amnesties for prisoners in Russia, America's reign as the imprisonment champion of the world is once again un-endangered. (Russia's rate is 584 per 100,000, and by way of comparison with other industrialized Western nations, England’s is 143, Canada's is 116, Germany's is 96 and Japan's is 54.)

"Early warnings in late 1980's, though muted within the drug hysteria, were predictors of the national statistics we see today," said Nora Callahan, cofounder and executive director of the November Coalition (http://www.november.org), a group working end the drug war and free drug war prisoners. She paid close attention early on, because she had a brother facing a federal drug indictment in 1989. "The federal government built an entire prison industrial complex in two decades. Today, state and federal prisoners serve the global war effort making uniforms, tank cables, helmets, furniture, tents, et cetera," she told DRCNet. "This report damns the notion that leaders in power are progressive thinkers, now doesn't it? But we the people all have to pay for the excess of the drug war and a criminal justice policy gone awry. That's the saddest part."

In an extensive analysis of the Bureau of Justice Statistics report's implications, The Sentencing Project attempted to address the obvious question: Why, given the declining crime rate and the moves toward a less punitive, less expensive approach to crime in recent years, do the numbers continue to increase? The Sentencing Project pointed squarely at two factors: more new prisoners (up 7.4% over the previous year) and prisoners serving longer sentences. Prisoners sentenced in 2000 are serving sentences 11% longer than those sentenced just two years earlier, the group noted. Drug offenders were doing 21% more time.

The Sentencing Project duly noted the enactment of sentencing reforms in various states, but pointed out that "the continuing rise in imprisonment suggests that they have not been sufficient in themselves to stem that increase." In California, for example, the projected declines in prison population after the enactment of Proposition 36, the "treatment not jail" initiative passed by voters in 2000, was more than offset by an 8% increase in new admissions in 2002-2003. Similarly, while Texas adopted sentencing and parole revocation reforms in recent years, it still accounted for a whopping 16% of all new prisoners for the period ending midyear 2003. And sentencing reforms that did take place were counterbalanced by the long-term effects of "tough on crime" sentencing policies adopted by the states and the federal government in the 1980s and 1990s, the group said, pointing to "three strikes" and "truth in sentencing" laws in effect in 30 states and the federal system.

Veteran observer Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (http://www.cjpf.org) suggested another force at work as well. "As local governments stagger under the burden of the Bush recession with losses of state and local revenue, the police seek to inoculate themselves from the virus of budget-cutting by stepping up the number of arrests," said Sterling. "Individual officers who may fear being laid off see it in their interests to step up the number of collars. Chiefs of police can go to city councils and say 'see how important our work is, we have increasing arrests.' Prosecutors demonstrate their competence by getting longer sentences," he continued. "And it goes all the way to the top. Attorney General Ashcroft last summer issued directives to the US attorneys telling them to charge the most serious charges they can, get the longest sentences they can, and to refuse plea bargains," Sterling continued. "He also ordered US attorneys to report to him federal judges who imposed sentences lower than what the Justice Department wanted. State and local prosecutors pay close attention to what the attorney general does."

State legislators and the criminal justice establishment inhabit different worlds, Sterling said. "You have a disconnect between state legislators and governors who need to balance state budgets that are struggling to accommodate enormous expenditure of imprisonment and locally elected prosecutors and judges and chiefs of police who answer to local mayors and city councils who drive the statewide prisons population numbers," he said. "They don't have to pay the bill, so you see legislators advancing sentencing reform concepts that are undermined by locally driven political ambitions."

Visit http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cp02.htm to read the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2003."

Visit http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/p02.htm to read the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, "Prisoners in 2002," released in August 2003.

Visit http://www.sentencingproject.org/pdfs/1044.pdf to read the Sentencing Project's analysis.


4. New York: Edging Closer to Rockefeller Drug Law Reform, Sort Of

Under increasing financial and political pressure to undo at least some of the harshest provisions of the state's draconian Rockefeller drug laws, legislators in Albany this week announced a tentative agreement to reduce prison sentences for those convicted of the most serious drug crimes. Under the Rockefeller laws, enacted in the early 1970s, persons convicted of possessing four ounces or selling two ounces of illegal drugs face mandatory prison sentences of 15 years to life. But under the preliminary deal announced Wednesday, mandatory minimum sentences for these offenders would be reduced to as little as three to 10 years.

members of the ARISE clergy coalition
Reform of the Rockefeller laws, however, is by no means a done deal. The agreement reached by a joint legislative committee from the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the Republican-controlled Senate does not deal with sentencing reform for lesser drug offenders, known as "B" felons. And it leaves unresolved several critical issues, including that of retroactivity of any sentencing reforms and, most contentiously, the respective roles of judges and prosecutors in making sentencing decisions.

"B" drug offenders with prior nonviolent felonies are required to serve a 4 1/2-year mandatory minimum sentence. Because many drug offenders are addicts, they have managed to rack up previous felony records, making them subject to the "B" drug felony statute. More than 5,000 "B" drug prisoners are currently serving time in New York, more than twice the number of people serving more serious "A" felony sentences. Another 8,600 drug offenders are doing mandatory minimum sentences under lesser provisions of the drug laws. About 90% of New York drug prisoners are black or Latino, according to the state department of corrections.

"I don't think anyone can predict the outcome," said Robert Gangi, head of the Correctional Association of New York (http://www.corrassoc.org), a member of the Real Reform 2004 coalition (http://www.realreform2004.org) that emerged this year to carry on the years-long battle for reform. "The Democrats and Republicans are talking, but it is hard to assess how real it is and how much of it is a show designed to diffuse some of the pressure on them," Gangi told DRCNet. "The key issue remains judicial discretion, and whether or not Senate Republicans will agree to return any kind of discretion to judges."

"I attended some of the conference committee hearings this week," said Michael Blain, the day before the "A" compromise was announced. Blain is Policy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org), one of the key players in the formation of Real Reform 2004. "The hearing room was packed with real reformers, such as members of the New York Mothers of the Disappeared and ARISE, the interfaith drug policy reform organization," he told DRCNet. "The topic was sentencing, and there was some agreement on the "A" felonies and the lesser drug offenses, but when the "B" sentencing came up, the Republicans hit the roof."

While Blain and the Real Reform 2004 coalition lauded progress on the "B" prisoners, that is not nearly enough, he said. "Our coalition has four goals: judicial discretion, sentencing reduction, retroactivity, and treatment outside the walls," Blain said. "Even the Assembly bill is not far enough left for us. For instance, it is okay with treatment in prison, but we are not okay with that. We want community-based treatment and we want it funded by the state. There would still be significant savings compared to incarcerating people," Blain argued.

"We are concerned that retroactivity be addressed," said Randy Credico of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Social Justice (http://www.kunstler.org) and the New York Mothers of the Disappeared. "These folks who are sitting in prison now have families who have been the main soldiers in this for seven years now. It would be a shame if they come up with something that leaves those people behind," he told DRCNet. "That would be like going to Las Vegas, putting $200,000 in the slot machine, getting $5,000 back, and thinking you're a winner."

The Argentina Madres, Mothers of the NY Disappeared and Patricia Perry
with NYC DA Bob Morgenthau and State Sen. Eric Schneiderman
(courtesy 15yearstolife.com)
Credico and the New York Mothers can take some credit for jump-starting the Rockefeller law reform effort this year. Credico, Tony Papa, and other members of the New York Mothers traveled to Buenos Aires earlier this year to visit the Argentine Mothers of the Disappeared, the internationally known human rights activists who became famous for demanding justice for their vanished children from the right-wing Argentine military dictatorship. Much to Credico's surprise, the Argentine Mothers decided to return the favor by visiting New York and pressing for Rockefeller drug law reform.

"The Argentine Mothers of the Disappeared had a huge impact," said Credico, citing extensive press coverage generated by their visit to the city. "They had a meeting with Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno, and he called for a conference committee immediately afterward. They met with Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and when they were done, he came out for Rockefeller law reform. When you have the foremost Latin American human rights group knocking on your door and pointing the finger at you, you respond. Also, many of the Rockefeller law prisoners are Latino. The Latino vote is the X-factor, so when you have Latin American activists like the Mothers taking a stand, the politicians take notice."

But while the Argentine Mothers turned up the pressure on elected politicians, they were by no means alone. They worked with the New York Mothers, who are part of last year's Drop the Rock reform coalition (http://www.droptherock.org), which in turn is part of this year's Real Reform 2004 coalition, a broad-based grouping consisting of more than 60 advocates, activists, experts and Rockefeller survivors' families' organizations.

And with Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders having vowed for years to reform the Rockefeller laws, newspaper editorialists around the state have also been upping the pressure. "The governor and the legislature should find room for compromise and get it done this year rather than worsen the problem by delaying reform," editorialized the Watertown Daily News late last month. "Send Drug Addicts to Treatment -- Not Prison," chimed in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle a few days earlier.

But while conservative legislators are talking the talk on Rockefeller law reform, they are not walking the walk. Sen. Dale Volker (R), co-chairman with Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D) of the drug reform conference committee, remains resistant to any changes in the "B" drug felony sentencing. Allowing those offenders to avoid prison would be a "dramatic change in our entire sentencing scheme," Volker complained during the hearings.

"You're absolutely correct," Aubry retorted. Aubry is the author of the Rockefeller reform bill passed in the Assembly that is the subject of the conference committee and a proponent of sweeping changes in the drug laws.

And recalcitrant prosecutors, who stand to lose god-like powers over sentencing decisions if real reform is passed, and law enforcement officials in favor of the status quo, are circling the wagons. On Wednesday, they formed the Law Enforcement Coalition Against Drug Decriminalization, the New York Times reported. Composed of the state District Attorneys' Association, the state Association of Police Chiefs, the state Sheriff's Association, and police unions, the group announced it would work against reforms that would allow repeat felony offenders to get drug treatment instead of prison time.

"What these guys want is an anti-reform reform," said Credico. "They want something they can call reform but that isn't because they are not about social justice but social control and maintaining the business of the prison-industrial complex in New York state. What I fear is that even though the public wants to see an end to the Rockefeller laws, we will end up with very little and people will declare victory and that will take the air out of a lot of the movement," he explained. "They've protected the Rockefeller drug laws so far and have ceded very little ground."

Michael Blain looked at the same situation and saw the cup half-full. "We have to get everything we can get this year," he said, "and we'll be back next year for more. We are all hoping and pushing for outright repeal of the Rockefeller laws; we need to just keep working together to get everything we can this year. The Rockefeller drug war is over," Blain said. "It's time to bring the prisoners home."


5. DRCNet Interview: Arnold Trebach, Grand Old Man of American Drug Reform

Arnold Trebach (http://www.trebach.org) is indeed a godfather of the American drug reform movement. From his post at American University in Washington, DC, in the 1970s, Trebach began exploring the impact of drug enforcement on crime policy, leading him to found the Drug Policy Foundation, progenitor to the Drug Policy Alliance. The author of groundbreaking critiques of US drug policy, such as "The Heroin Solution" (1982) and "The Great Drug War" (1987), Trebach played a central role in making drug reform an issue that could be addressed in polite circles.

But as his exploration of drug policy deepened, Trebach moved toward the embrace of legalization of drug use and the drug trade as the best solution to "the drug problem." Now a spry 76-year old in retirement, Trebach continues to monitor the drug reform milieu, whether as a board member and advisor to the International Antiprohibitionist League, a compiler of drug treatment program abuses, or, as just last month, a speaker at a cutting edge conference, the Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His major passion at the moment is finishing a book on drug control in the age of terror, in which he argues that today prohibition makes even less sense than before and that a rational system of legalization or re-legalization is demanded by the age in which we live and in which we are trying to survive.

We thought it was time to check in with Arnold again, on the occasion of his recent birthday, and we spoke with him by phone at his suburban Washington, DC, home last week.

Drug War Chronicle: You've been in this game for a long time. How did you get started in drug reform and how do you think the movement is doing?

 

Arnold Trebach

Arnold Trebach: I came out of the civil rights movement. For example, I was on the streets of Birmingham with Martin Luther King. I was there as a federal civil rights official to observe events and, truth to tell, to give aid and comfort to the revolutionaries. I made sure to call up Bull Connor and tell him I was there and that I would like to speak to him. He was unimpressed and un-cowed and called up Burke Marshall and told him that the next time he sent down a civil rights official, teach him to speak dog talk and I will let him talk to my dogs. I did not work for Burke, a wonderful man, but he told me about it later. The important point is that I marveled at the courage of the protestors, King, and Shuttleswoth and Oliver and the others. They were my heroes.

That's the tradition I came out of, civil rights not drugs and rock and roll. I often say I grew up at a time when I missed the sex and drugs revolution, damn it. I wandered into the field of drug policy by accident. I was an analyst of crime control policy and a civil rights scholar at American University, and I found my students knew more about drugs than I did. It was only when I started looking at the federal crime control budget that I got intrigued. I read that and thought, "Wait a minute, this is very strange." The alleged facts, the basis for the policy, seemed wrong or distorted or half true.

These were the grains of sand in my oyster, so to speak. I just started looking around and following my nose, and I started going to England with seminars or institutes from American University. I saw that what we said about heroin and its use as a medicine there was totally distorted. On the basis of those visits and much research I wrote "The Heroin Solution," which title was really a play on words. What I said then was there was no solution, at least not in American terms. You can't have unconditional victory over heroin; you just have to learn to live with it. Also, if properly used, it's a wonderful drug and should be used as a medicine.

Then in the mid-1980s I wrote "The Great Drug War." I was so appalled at what I saw in the process of gathering information for that book that when I was done I told my dean that I was not going to write another book for awhile but that I was going to start a reform organization. I sat down at the same old word processor I had used for the book and wrote out the plans for a centrist drug policy reform organization based on my experiences overseas and here. I had 50 names for it in my files and eventually came up with the Drug Policy Foundation, a real white bread name.

Rich Dennis, a truly decent and compassionate human being, was our first big funder. When he asked me what I wanted to accomplish, I told him that I hoped to make opposition to the drug laws decent and respectable. That's what I was trying to do. Back then, many drug reform conferences were places were guys got pies thrown in their faces. I wanted something more professional, more mainstream. The idea was to create a center for a movement that would pull in decent people, professionals who were proper in their actions, but very strong in their opposition, and I think I've helped that to happen. Drug reform is now in the mainstream, there is an enormous amount of support for it, there are many organizations involved, and I'm very proud of that.

Chronicle: It seems that we have managed to win some reforms around the edges (sentencing reforms, treatment instead of jail, medical marijuana), but that we haven't made much progress in busting the prohibitionist paradigm. Is that assessment too pessimistic?

Trebach: Enormous progress has been made on many fronts and we are starting to make some small progress on on as you say busting the prohibitionist paradigm. Let me back up a bit and explain what I saw back in the 80s. DPF never supported legalization, but I eventually got to a point where I did. I supported treating all drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Near the end of my time there, when we were going through battles at DPF which led to my leaving, it was not over policy, but power and prestige, who was going to run the biggest organization in drug policy reform. Obviously I lost that battle, a power struggle. But we never had a real battle over whether we should stand for legalization; our battles were over tactics and who would control the money and who would appear on TV and who was the fairest in the land -- that kind of bullshit. It wasn't about legalization; legalization never really came to the fore as a major internal issue, even though it was discussed.

By the time I left DPF, I had published "Legalize It? Debating American Drug Policy" with Jim Inciardi. He supported prohibition with some humane adjustments and I laid out the case for legalization. What's happened since then is that the Drug Policy Alliance, the descendant of DPF, has gone on to do all kinds of great things, and at times it sounds like a legalization organization, but as we all know, it's not. Fortunately, DRCNet, Dave Borden's group, is definitely out there as a legalization proponent, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Jack Cole's group, is about legalization, too. And there is the International Antiprohibitionist League, a very good organization led by Marco Perduca and Marco Cappato, that stands for legalization and for something related that I believe is very important -- going after the United Nations treaties. I was president of the IAL for about a year, but I've stepped down because I'm tired of running organizations.

Back to your question -- some progress has been made on directly attacking prohibition but not nearly enough. The main movers in the so-called reform movement are afraid of it, I guess, figuring it is the third rail in the politics of reform.

As much good as is accomplished by the push for harm reduction and the medical marijuana issue, the movement fails in not fully embracing legalization as one of the main thrusts of drug reform. Here in Maryland, we just passed a treatment-not-jail bill -- in many respects a good advance, but it implies that large numbers of marijuana users need treatment, when most just simply like marijuana. That shouldn't be a crime. Sending people to treatment who don't have anything wrong with them is preposterous. While I'm not unhappy about such laws, they may do some good, they don't deal with the main issue. Reform organizations ought to have their eye on the ball, and the ball is ending prohibition. Achieving legality for medical marijuana is short of that goal.

Yet it is a step that I support. I was just down at the medical marijuana conference in Charlottesville, and the science was stunning. I was amazed at how much I learned. Wow, there is a massive amount of movement forward showing many more uses of marijuana in medicine than I knew existed. The science is incontrovertible; to deny the utility of medical marijuana is obscene. But I just reread Lester Grinspoon's "Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine," and at the end Lester says that we can't get marijuana into medicine until we legalize the drug. I mentioned that to people down there, but I am not sure they all wanted to hear it. Still, I don't think we can have a healthy situation regarding drugs as medicine until we treat them as ordinary substances, and that means legalization. The whole mindset will be different then. While I support the legalization of medical marijuana, that alone is not sufficient.

But before any real progress can happen, one thing that is necessary is that law enforcement must listen to the voices of reform. I recently gave a speech at the Association of Retired Federal Narcotics Officers; it was a debate with my friend Robert Stutman; Peter Bensinger, the former head of DEA, moderated. I was proud of them that they were open enough to invite me and to treat me with respect. At one epoint, I said, "Look you won't agree on legalization, but you have to face the fact you, as good law enforcement officers, need to stay out of medicine. If you keep interfering with the use of narcotics or marijuana in medicine, you will be extinct like the woolly mammoth." I was wonderfully eloquent, I think, but I made zero progress. That shows the difficulty we face. It might be easier if the feelings on the other side were based on mean motives, but they are based on sincerely held beliefs.

Chronicle: You quite presciently warned a few years ago that the drug war was diverting valuable law enforcement resources away from real enemies. Now there are reports that Al Qaeda is benefiting from the Afghan opium trade, that the Spanish bombers financed their misdeeds by selling hash, etc. Do you see any possibility this link between prohibition and terrorism could help create a different attitude toward prohibition in the ranks of government or the voting public?

Trebach: Back in 1996, I was at a conference in Israel and I observed that the same skills used by courageous drug enforcement officers could be used in going after terrorism, and that I think we'd all be a lot safer if they were going after terrorists who might blow up a building or an airplane rather than worrying about drug dealers selling the inhabitants and passengers marijuana and cocaine. I am stunned by the extent to which those few sentences have been repeated all over the world, time and time again. I was not predicting the future, but it struck me as a father and grandfather that I could deal with drugs in my family, but I expect law enforcement to deal with bombs. Protect me from bombs, not bongs. Since then, what really shocks me is finding out the extent to which we have been incompetent in dealing with terrorism. When you listen to the 9/11 Commission testimony and read Richard Clarke's book, it is all unbelievable. Some FBI offices didn't know how to get on the Internet! If we don't have the competence and the troops to go after terrorism, it is absolutely obscene to think we are wasting one second of law enforcement time on drugs.

This may be the opening that starts people rethinking prohibition and the war on drugs. Right now, as we speak, there is a terror alert out, pictures and names of seven suspected terrorists. Has the Justice Department ordered the DEA to stop all drug investigations and go out and look for them? Should the federal government be spending one minute looking for drug dealers when there is an alert for seven terrorists who want to do us immense harm?

I have recommended many times that we dismantle the DEA. There are almost 5,000 armed federal agents, most of them good decent officers, in DEA and it seems to me that the president ought to say he is assigning them to the front lines of the war on terror. That could easily be done, and would have the support of at least half of Congress, I suspect. What I mean is that I believe that the president probably has the executive power to accomplish this without an act of Congress but Congress must be informed and brought on board. In any event, this is a time when we might want to consider abolishing the DEA or redirecting all of its agents into other work, and the same with other state and local narcotic units. That would be a real signal that we are serious about dealing with terror.

Drug profits support terrorism; that's well documented. The drug laws should be called the Human Savage Full Employment Acts because they empower some of the worst people on the face of the planet to sell the drugs because the profits are so high and to use the profits for whatever they want. They also may use the profits to buy guns and carry out terrorist enterprises. By keeping the drug laws, we allow terrorists ready sources of cash and guns. There is a connection and we ought to be rethinking what we do.

Reports from Afghanistan provide a brilliant piece of revealing theater about the absurdity of drug prohibition. Those people in Afghanistan are growing opium for one reason: because people come and pay them many, many tens of times what they can make growing anything else. The farmers are largely innocent, but as the opium goes up the line, in goes into the hands of bad people, including terrorists. All of this exists because of the framework of prohibition. This shows the horrors we have created with our well-intentioned laws. And we have to face the fact that this is only one of the many defects in these laws.

I spend more time these days looking at the broader world situation then I used to. A couple of things affect my view of the world and drug policy very much. A lot of people on the left and in the Democratic Party see what is happening today as proof of the fundamental rottenness of America. A lot of our colleagues in drug policy around the world, look at our drug policy and say this shows the Americans are rotten to the core. I react badly to that. I want to say that I view our drug policy as bad but not proof of the rottenness of America. I'm amazed with how much I like Andrew Sullivan, a gay Republican moralist conservative. Like me, he goes back and forth and agonizes about Iraq and a lot of things, but when it comes to the standard liberal Noam Chomsky-like critiques of America, Sullivan is furious and so am I. When I was in the European Parliament chairing a conference on legalization several years ago, I told them that I was a critic of American policy, but I fiercely resent the broadside attacks on my country. There I was in Belgium, where I could glory in the guts of our people, not too far away and not too long ago in Bastogone, so I said please don't talk to me about how bad America is. At the end of the day, I glory in this country and what it stands for, especially at times like these when so-called liberals and leftists the world over are on a detest-America binge.

Chronicle: In "The Great Drug War," you began to expose some of the abuses that have gone on in the name of drug treatment, and you have been involved in the issue in recent years as well. Are you still?

Trebach: I've worked on that issue for almost 20 years, and I'm proud to say I helped put Straight, Inc. out of business, but I've backed away now. I feel like I've done my part. Still, these problems have never been resolved. One of my concerns about treatment-not-jail laws is the simple but very disturbing fact that there is no core medical consensus on what works in treatment. If you have a broken leg, doctors may disagree on the best treatment, but there is fundamental agreement on the nature of the problem. That doesn't exist with drug treatment, the approaches are all over the map.

It is shocking to note that some high level physicians, including Robert Dupont, supported the behavior of Straight, Inc. and its descendants. They signed off on the brutality of Straight, Inc. There is still unfinished business with these abusive treatment programs, and we clearly have a long way to go to reach an understanding of the Hippocratic Oath's injunction to first do no harm as it applies to drug treatment. It is another defect of the war on drugs. Because we so irrationally fear drugs as a nation, we say that you can practically destroy children to prevent them from using drugs.


6. Drug Reformers Remember Sam Dash

For most people old enough to recognize the name, Sam Dash is remembered for his role as chief congressional counsel during the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. For members of the legal community, Sam Dash is remembered as a vibrant teacher, rigorous scholar, and ardent advocate of fairness and justice. But while his role as a drug reformer was secondary to his primary interests, Sam Dash is also being remembered as a man who, in search of justice, came to see the drug war as pernicious and who, in some not so small ways, helped advance the cause of drug reform.

Dash, 79, died Tuesday of multiple organ failure at Washington Hospital Center. He had been ill for some time, and taught his last year of classes at Georgetown University Law School from his wheelchair.

His death marked the end of a legal career spanning five decades, one that brushed up against some of the most important moments in US and world political history. Samuel Dash was the first American to interview jailed anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. He subsequently wrote a magazine article about Mandela, publicizing his plight, and mediated discussions with the South African government that helped lead to the release of the future South African president. Dash's foreign involvement also included advising the governments of Chile, Northern Ireland, and Puerto Rico during investigations into human rights abuses.

Dash was also notable as a legal scholar. One book he authored, on the law of electronic surveillance, is credited with influencing Supreme Court decisions on the topic. Just before he died, he finished another scholarly book, "The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft," which will be published in June.

But it was Dash's work at chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee that made him a household name. After spending months doggedly questioning White House officials about the break-in at the Watergate hotel and subsequent cover-ups, Dash hit pay dirt when White House aide Alexander Butterfield revealed that the Nixon White House had an extensive taping system that included Oval Office discussions about the break-in. When Dash asked Butterfield who knew about it, he replied, "The president..." A year later, Nixon was gone.

Although Dash continued his 40-year tenure as a law professor at George Washington until his death, his last prominent public role was as ethics counselor to independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, whose investigation led to impeachment charges against President Clinton as well as charges that Starr held bringing down Clinton as a goal. Dash resigned that position after accusing Starr of exceeding the counsel's mandate -- and Dash should know; he helped write that law -- and for leaving impartiality behind to become an "aggressive advocate" of impeaching Clinton.

But Dash also worked quietly behind the scenes with drug reformers. He helped organize and moderated a debate on drug legalization between Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Criminal Justice Policy Foundation executive director Eric Sterling in 1989. Similarly, he moderated a daylong symposium on the drug war at Georgetown University as part of a four-part Frontline special for PBS on the topic. And in 1997, he agreed to serve as a board member of the newly reconstituted Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (VCL), modeled after an organization formed in the 1920s to combat Alcohol Prohibition. (For some history, as well as an update on the current VCL, read our interview with current VCL executive director Roger Goodman at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/243/rogergoodman.shtml online.)

"Sam Dash was no legalizer -- I debated him privately on this -- and drug reform was not one of his key issues, but his interest was the law and the tendency of government to use improper procedures to invade civil liberties," said early drug reformer Arnold Trebach, Dash's friend and neighbor as well as a fellow toiler in the fields. "Often these abuses occurred in the name of the war on drugs. That was his concern. He believed in the fair application of the law, and he thought that the court decisions on search and seizure were terrible," Trebach told DRCNet. "Sam Dash was a pillar of the law. He adored the principle of law in a free society and stood up in the face of every attempt to pervert the law."

"Sam Dash was a law professor concerned about justice," said Sterling, who is president of the current incarnation of the VCL. "He recognized how the war on drugs contributed to injustice all over the country. "Sam Dash was not a leader of the drug reform movement, but an extremely important national figure willing to lend his prestige to the drug reform movement."

One of the ways he did that, said Sterling, was by supporting the new VCL. "Northampton, Massachusetts, attorney Richard Evans had become fascinated with the role of the VCL in ending Prohibition, and a group of attorneys decided to create a new corporation of the same name," Sterling told DRCNet. "Thomas Haines of the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information (http://www.prdi.org) helped bring these folks together with some respected legal names, including former Attorney General Elliot Richardson -- and Sam Dash. Dash agreed to sit on the board."

Both Trebach and Sterling recalled personal encounters with Dash. "We lived just a few blocks apart," said Trebach, "and whenever he or his wife Sara would see me, they were always so happy. He was a man of great personal warmth. A humane, decent man."

"He was a close friend of Rufus King, a real advocate for drug reform," said Sterling. "I remember having dinner with him at Rufus' home. He was charming, but also passionate for justice and concerned about human rights."

Dash's funeral reflected the position he had achieved in life, said both men. "On the one hand, people like Bob Woodward and Watergate-era Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee were there," said Trebach. "On the other hand, there were legions of his students. They talked about how they adored him, about how he came to class in his wheelchair, and his devotion to them," said Trebach.


7. ALERT: Medical Marijuana Summer

If you've been reading Drug War Chronicle for awhile or otherwise following the issue, you probably remember that last summer the United States House of Representatives held an important vote on medical marijuana: An amendment sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), cosponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), would have forbid the US Dept. of Justice from using its resources to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. Though the Hinchey amendment was defeated, the number of members who voted for it, 152, represented a 150% increase in Congressional support for medical marijuana since the only previous House vote on the issue five years before. Rep. Hinchey is again championing his amendment this summer, and it is anticipated that a vote on it will take place sometime next month.

If you didn't receive or haven't yet acted on our medical marijuana action alert distributed last Wednesday, please take action now to help ensure maximum support for the Hinchey amendment. The truth is that there is only so much we can do here in Washington to persuade members of Congress to take a stand for the rights of medical marijuana patients. Whether you think your Rep. is likely to support the Hinchey amendment or to oppose it, it is important that your Rep. hears from constituents like you who have the power to vote stay or go in November. YOUR LETTERS AND PHONE CALLS WILL COINCIDE WITH A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORGANIZED BY A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS WHICH IS TAKING PLACE AT LOCATIONS NATIONWIDE TODAY!

To take action, please do the following:

1) Please visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/ to write to your US Rep. in support of the Hinchey amendment. (Note that the letters available at this URL will only work for US residents and only for people for whom we have a record of their Rep.'s vote on the Hinchey amendment last fall -- it will work for the vast majority of you living in the US, but not all.)

2) Please call your Rep.'s office on the phone to follow up. You can use the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to reach the office, or to find out who your Rep. is if you don't know, or you can find the direct phone number at http://www.house.gov online. When you're done, send us an e-mail at [email protected] to let us know you've taken action and to report to us any information you receive from the staffer taking your call on your Rep.'s intentions. We will forward any such information to lobbyists working on this bill here in Washington.

3) Please use the tell-a-friend form on our action alert web site, or forward this message, to let friends and other likely medical marijuana supporters know that now is the time to take action.

Thanks for being a part of this important effort. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/05_12_04dayofaction.cfm for information on the Day of Action.


8. Newsbrief: Wisconsin Defense Attorneys Challenge Drugged Driving Law

A new Wisconsin state law declaring that drivers with "any detectable amount" of illegal drugs in their systems are impaired is being challenged by defense attorneys, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Sunday. The law is known as the "Baby Luke" law, named for an infant who died in a crash where the driver was high on cocaine, and is in line with a federal offensive to crack down on "drugged driving" nationwide (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/329/driving.shtml).

Now, attorneys in two of the earliest cases prosecuted under the law, which went into effect in December, are challenging it. The defense attorneys are challenging the law's "zero tolerance" provision, which presumes anyone showing any trace of an illicit substance is impaired, unlike the drunk driving law, which sets a blood alcohol limit -- not zero -- above which impairment is assumed.

"Unlike consumers of alcohol for which empirical evidence shows a relationship between blood level and impairment, drug users can be penalized for the mere use of a restricted substance even after considerable time has passed, so long as it is allegedly detected even under what is here an undefined standard," wrote defense attorney Laurence M. Moon, who has filed a pre-trial motion for a Milwaukee man being prosecuted under the law. "This discrepancy is irrational."

"Not only does the statute impermissibly create a presumption of guilt, but the evidence establishing guilt may have no bearing whatsoever on whether the presence of the restricted substance caused the incident," Moon elaborated for the Journal-Sentinel. "The wording of (the law) indicates that the defendant must prove that he was entirely blameless."

Moon is defending Eric B. Gardner, 33, of Milwaukee, who faces a felony charge of causing great bodily harm while driving under the influence of a controlled substance -- drugged driving. Gardner ran into a tree, injuring a passenger, on December 20, one day after the law went into effect. Blood tests showed no alcohol, but did find traces of cocaine. Gardner said he fell asleep at the wheel. Cocaine byproducts can remain in the system for up to 72 hours, Moon noted.

According to the Journal-Herald, Moon is not the only attorney raising a constitutional question about the new law. Bruce Jacobson, a Waukesha defense attorney, told the newspaper he is considering filing the same motion.

They could have a chance. "It is very typical for the question to be raised about whether the new law is constitutional," said Janine Geske, a distinguished professor at Marquette University Law School and former state Supreme Court justice. "Because this law is not like operating while intoxicated and there is no specified amount, I think that is a serious, legitimate issue to raise," she told the newspaper. "Whether it will rise to the level of making it unconstitutional remains to be seen."

Meanwhile, prosecutors in at least one county told the Journal-Sentinel they were seeking harsh penalties, akin to those for high-blood alcohol level drunk drivers, for convicted drugged drivers. "We discussed this within the office, partly because it's so difficult to determine the levels at which impairment takes effect," Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss said. "We're taking the approach that these drivers should be placed at the high end of the sentencing range because we have no way of measuring impairment and because these drugs are illegal to begin with."


9. Newsbrief: Libertarian Party Chooses Dark Horse Badnarik for Presidential Nomination

In a surprise vote, the national Libertarian Party chose Michael Badnarik, an Austin, Texas-based computer consultant and constitutional scholar, to carry the party's banner in the November presidential election. Badnarik emerged victorious Sunday at the party's national convention in Atlanta, defeating leading candidates film producer Aaron Russo and radio talk show host Gary Nolan.

As part of its bedrock belief in individual freedom, the Libertarian Party has long championed the position that the use and sale of illegal drugs should be "re-legalized." Despite a seeming de-emphasis on drug prohibition as a wedge issue for the party in the wake of the departure of former national political director Ron Crickenberger last fall, ending drug prohibition remains a firm plank in the party's platform.

Badnarik's position statement on drug policy is fully in line with the party platform. Citing government intrusions on personal rights and privacy in the name of the drug war, such as asset forfeiture laws, which deprive citizens of their freedom from unwarranted seizures and corrupt police departments, Badnarik wrote that "the government's war on drugs violates the rights of Americans so egregiously that it is a bigger threat than the drugs themselves." The mechanisms of the black market ensure continued drug use, Badnarik argued. "The Libertarian solution is to decriminalize drugs, which will make drugs extremely cheap, which will remove the profit motivation for selling drugs, which will result in fewer children taking drugs."

Although Badnarik refers to "decriminalization" of drugs, what he describes is more commonly known as "legalization," or the end of drug prohibition. And although the drug issue does not appear to be a hot button issue for Badnarik -- gun owners' rights are of great interest to him -- once again the Libertarian Party will be providing US voters with the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who promises to end the war on drugs in full.

With President Bush's conservative base restive over budget deficits and the war in Iraq, some analysts are suggesting the Libertarian Party could pose as grave a threat to Bush's reelection chances as, by the conventional wisdom, Ralph Nader poses to Democratic nominee John Kerry's. In a thumbsucker piece last week, CBSNews.com chief political writer David Paul Kuhn made the case, saying: "The Libertarian Party nominee could cost Mr. Bush his job in 2004. With conservatives upset over the ballooning size of the federal government under a Republican White House and Congress -- and a portion of the political right having opposed the war in Iraq from the outset or else dismayed at how it's being handled -- the Libertarian nominee may do for Democrats in 2004 what Nader did for Republicans in 2000."

Visit Michael Badnarik's campaign web site at http://www.badnarik.org online.

Visit the Libertarian Party web site at http://www.lp.org online.


10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

And the beat goes on. This week's corrupt cops hail from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and got themselves in trouble by peddling pain pills. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies Richard Wong, 48, and Floyd Carver, 49, were fired on May 28 after being arrested on charges of selling hydrocodone, the generic version of the popular pain reliever Vicodin. The pair were also charged with malfeasance in office, and Wong was hit with an additional 18 counts of payroll fraud.

Altogether, Wong faces 25 counts of hydrocodone sales, two counts of conspiracy to possess drugs, two counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs, and two counts of malfeasance in office, as well as the payroll fraud counts. Carver was booked on three counts of hydrocodone sales, one count of possession, two possession conspiracy counts, and two sales conspiracy counts, as well as one count of malfeasance in office.

Carver was a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office, while Wong had put in four years. Wong has been released on a $305,000 bond, while at last report Carver was still sitting in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna trying to come up with $40,000 to cover his bond.

The sheriff's department has released no other details on the case.


11. Newsbrief: California Assembly Passes Bill to Let Some Drug Felons Receive Food Stamps

The California Assembly voted May 24 to approve a bill that would let people convicted of drug possession receive food stamps. Under the 1996 federal welfare reform act, drug felons are not eligible to receive federally-linked assistance, but that law contains an opt-out provision for the states. So far, 32 other states have opted to provide benefits to people convicted of drug possession, while 12 others voted to provide benefits to all drug offenders, including those charged with drug sales or manufacture.

"Denying public assistance means families headed by former offenders will have less money for food and less of a chance to rebuild their lives," said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who wrote the measure, during debate on the bill. Leno and other supporters of the measure pointed to the passage of Proposition 36 in 2000, which allows first-time drug offenders to get treatment instead of jail, as evidence that Californians were ready to be less punitive toward drug offenders.

Bill supporters also pointed out that the current law singles out drug offenders for extra punishment because it does not bar assistance to people convicted of violent crimes. And being able to get food stamps could help people seeking treatment. "The food stamps help pay for the food costs while they are in treatment," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles). "Those of us who want to help people who are in treatment really ought to be supporting this."

It wasn't just bleeding heart liberals who supported the bill. The California Police Chiefs Association also endorsed it, arguing that "preventing an otherwise eligible person from receiving food stamps because of a prior drug conviction makes little sense and merely increases the chances that they will fall back into re-offending behavior."

According to state welfare officials, about 1,640 people are denied food stamps each year under the current law. Those people are losers and don't deserve food stamps, said Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Murrieta). "It's appropriate to say as a society we are not going to subsidize your addiction," said Haynes. "The welfare benefits are not going to help them get off drugs," he added.

But two members of his party joined a solid Democratic bloc to pass the bill. With a 42-27 margin, the bill passed by one vote. Now it heads to the state Senate.

Read the bill, AB1796, online at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_1796&sess=CUR&house=B&author=leno


12. Newsbrief: Texas Medical Association, Canadian AIDS Society Give Nod to Medical Marijuana

Marijuana continues its long march back to a respected place in the pharmacopeia. In recent weeks, two more medical organizations have adopted positions signaling the plant's increasing acceptance as a medicine.

On May 14, the Texas Medical Association (TMA), the nation's largest state medical association, unanimously adopted a policy recommendation on marijuana saying that doctors and patients should be free to discuss the use of marijuana as a treatment option for various medical conditions. While the TMA did not offer an outright endorsement of medical marijuana, the policy recommendation marked an advance over the association's last statement on the issue in 1998.

The 1998 policy, which specified that the TMA did not condone the recreational use of marijuana, merely called for research into marijuana's "deleterious effects and any possible beneficial uses" should be undertaken. But the TMA's concern was with what it saw as the abuse of the herb, as it noted then that "medical treatment of persons who become significantly involved in the recreational use of marijuana may be indicated."

While reaffirming the 1998 recommendation's call for more research on medical marijuana, "including well-controlled studies in patients who have serious pain-related conditions," the TMA's Council on Scientific Affairs, zealously guarding the professional prerogatives of physicians, inserted the following language, which was approved by TMA delegates: "The Texas Medical Association supports the physician's right to discuss with his or her patients any and all possible treatment options related to the patients' health and clinical care, including the use of marijuana, without the threat to physician or patient of regulatory, disciplinary, or criminal sanctions."

A week later and a couple of thousand miles to the north, the Canadian AIDS Society's Board of Directors also updated its 1998 position on medical marijuana, and it went quite a bit further than the Texas doctors. In a position statement adopted May 20, the Canadian AIDS Society called not only for access to medical marijuana for people with HIV/AIDS, but also for a panoply of other measures, including the legalization of marijuana for any purpose.

"People living with HIV/AIDS should have access to cannabis for medicinal purposes in the treatment of HIV/AIDS through a compassionate framework," said the AIDS society. "People living with HIV/AIDS should have a choice as to the cannabis product they want to consume, and should have access to a safe, legal, reliable, affordable, fresh and organic source of cannabis." And they should be able to grow their own, the society added for good measure.

The society endorsed "more clinical studies on all of the active ingredients in cannabis and their effects on health." It called for the creation of a Canadian research agenda on marijuana and called on Health Canada to expand its research agenda and include compassion clubs in its funding and as stakeholders on the issue. The Canadian AIDS Society also called on Health Canada to improve its widely-ridiculed medical marijuana supply program by growing organic strains and by granting cultivation contracts to a variety of experienced growers.

But, perhaps recognizing the obvious solution to the problem of cannabis supplies for HIV/AIDS patients, the Canadian AIDS Society called for legalization of the herb. The society "favors a controlled legalization system for cannabis in Canada, where the production, distribution and consumption are regulated, designated cannabis distribution centers are established and recognized, and appropriate prevention messages and harm reduction strategies are developed."

The TMA policy recommendations are only available online to TMA members at:
http://www.texmed.org/FormsLogin.asp?/moc/ata/texmed04hod/april2004refcom.asp#Science

The Canadian AIDS Society position statement is available online at: http://www.cdnaids.ca/web/position.nsf/cl/cas-pp-0021


13. This Week in History

June 8, 1993: William F. Buckley in an interview said, "the amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense -- the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditures of social energy."


14. The Reformer's Calendar

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

June 4, US, National Day of Action for Medical Marijuana, visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/05_12_04dayofaction.cfm for further information.

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

June 5, noon-midnight, Columbus, OH, Ohio Hempfest, visit http://www.ohiohempfest.org 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 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:// www.PreventionWorksDC.org 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 http://www.encod.org 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 http://www.aidslaw.ca/bangkok2004/e-bangkok2004.htm 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 http://www.hempfest.org 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 http://www.hiphopsummitactionnetwork.org online.

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