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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #341, 6/11/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. The Reagan-Era Drug War Legacy
  2. Medical Marijuana Activists Protest at More Than 100 Congressional Offices in National Day of Action
  3. Despite Ohio State University's Best Efforts, Ohio Hempfest Goes On As Scheduled
  4. Canadian Marijuana Reformers "Fill the Hill" to Make Cannabis an Issue in Upcoming Election Season
  5. Newsbrief: "Three Strikes" Challenge Makes California Ballot
  6. Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Troopers Find Dope Most Often on White Motorists but Search More Blacks and Hispanics, Study Finds
  7. Newsbrief: Swiss Doctors Want Prescription Cocaine, But Government Wary With Cannabis Decriminalization Vote Looming
  8. Newsbrief: Another Pain Doctor on Trial
  9. Newsbrief: Legalize and Tax Cannabis, Says Canadian Institute
  10. Links: Rockefeller Reform Fizzles Again
  11. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. The Reagan-Era Drug War Legacy

Former President Ronald Reagan died Saturday at the age of 93, and since then discussion of his political legacy has filled the airwaves and countless newspaper and magazine column inches. Perhaps out of deference to the former national leader, much of the discussion has been laudatory, at times even hagiographic, and many Americans certainly feel that way about the two-term former president. Reagan made his mark – for better, worse, or both, his two terms left the nation and the world changed places. To change things, however, also means to incur one's share of controversy; on great issues such as economic policy, the end of the Cold War, and "culture war" issues such as abortion or homosexuality – or drugs – the Reagan legacy is and will continue to be a matter of discussion and debate for long after the ceremony and honors of an in-state funeral have concluded.

When it comes to Reagan's legacy in drug policy – the drug war, of which he played a major though not lone role in escalating to an unprecedented level – even staunch Reagan enthusiasts are less likely to brag about it than other issues he impacted. Though polling has found that 3/4 of Americans support the drug war, polls also show that 3/4 of Americans consider the drug war to be a failure, and a number of high-level Reagan administration officials have broken fundamentally with the drug war ideology his administration vigorously espoused – votes of confidence in neither case by any means. While some drug war advocates point to decreases in casual drug use rates during the 1980s as measured by government surveys, others point to much more hard-hitting and more accurately measured phenomena such as increased drug trade violence, constant addiction rates, an explosion of HIV transmission through injection drug use, and the rapid growth, seemingly from nowhere, of crack cocaine into a widespread habit having deleterious effects on the nation's inner cities.

Among drug reformers, no matter their position on the ideological spectrum, there is little debate about it: Reagan's drug policy legacy is a disaster. For all the people contacted by DRCNet for this article – which included both critics and admirers of the Reagan presidency overall – the question was not whether Reagan's drug policies were bad, but how bad and how much of the blame he shares with others. To drug reformers, the Reagan-era represented a traumatic disappointment, a time when the nation hurtled down a path of massive suffering, waste and injustice.

Of course, Reagan didn't create the war on drugs by himself. That the rampant escalation of the drug war in the 1980s was a bipartisan affair is unquestionable. It was Democrats in Congress, for instance, who took the lead on mandatory minimum sentencing in the middle of the decade. And, as we shall see below, Democrats and Republicans were in the grips of a race to the bottom to see who could be "toughest" on crime and drugs.

Nor can Reagan cannot be held directly responsible for its deepening since then, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, and at least some of the seeds of the drug war, such as an incarceration rate still spiraling far beyond any previous time in history. As a graph on the web site of The Sentencing Project illustrates (, America's incarceration binge began during the Nixon presidency and continued unbroken under both his successor, Gerald Ford, and Reagan's immediate predecessor, Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. Even as social tolerance and progressive criminal justice ideals seemed to be taking root in the public consciousness, and as marijuana decriminalization appeared to be on the way with bipartisan support, the prisons continued to grow.

But Reagan lit the fire, and in the years since he took office tens of millions of people have been arrested under the drug laws, millions have been sent to prison, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been incinerated in a program that epitomizes big, intrusive government in one of its most violent forms. And while Reagan did made the occasional gesture, such as allowing the tiny federal medical marijuana program to function, or said the occasional word suggesting a lighter touch might work, those good deeds pale in comparison with an enduring legacy of police and prisons, searches and seizures, and a population ever more surveilled in the name of its own well-being. It was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan that narcotics law enforcement morphed into drug war overdrive with a series of ever more draconian drug laws and an attitude of repressive "zero tolerance" emanating from the White House. Here are some of the lowlights of Reagan-era drug policy:

  • Erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act, the 1868 law that forbids federal troops from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities. It was the erosion of Posse Comitatus that led to the killing of US citizen Esequiel Hernandez by US Marines outside Redford, Texas, and the use of military equipment and personnel against the Branch Davidians in Waco in 1993 (under the pretext that they were cooking meth).
  • Zero-tolerance "Just Say No" as a public policy approach to drug use. "Not long ago in Oakland, California, I was asked by a group of children what to do if they were offered drugs," explained Nancy Reagan in 1986. "And I answered, 'Just Say No.' Soon after that those children in Oakland formed a Just Say No Club and now there are over 10,000 such clubs all over the country."
  • Passage of the 1986 crime bill, notable for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences for the first time since 1970. This act also created the federal Sentencing Commission and the current system of federal sentencing guidelines, which did away with parole in the federal system, ensuring that prisoners would serve at least 85% of their sentences. And it included asset forfeiture.
  • Passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which established a federal death penalty for "drug kingpins." Reagan signed that bill in his wife's honor.
The home page of the Cato Institute (, a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC, features a glowing homage to Reagan, but the former president wins no drug policy kudos from Cato's Timothy Lynch. "When it comes to the drug war, there's just not much good that can be said about Reagan's policy," Lynch conceded. "It was bad, no doubt about it."

Still, unlike his successor, Reagan did not bother to do away with the federal government's limited medical marijuana access program, Lynch pointed out. "The program was modest and people had to jump through a lot of hoops, but there was at least an administration that recognized that sick people may need these things."

And, he added, the 1980s drug war was a bipartisan game. "Remember, Congress back then was controlled by Democrats, who not only did not need to have their arms twisted, but in many cases were trying to get to Reagan's right on these issues," Lynch recalled. "After basketball player Len Bias died of cocaine, it was House Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-MA) who was hearing from his constituents about it – Bias had been drafted by the Celtics – and he came back after that saying 'we're going to get the Republicans on drugs.' O'Neill tasked the Democrats and their staffers to come up with harsh measures, and they did."

"That's true, they all get credit," said Eric Sterling, who as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee was present at the creation of much of Reagan-era drug policy legislation. "But Reagan certainly deserves much of the blame. Presidents are responsible for their appointments, and he appointed White House drug advisors who were small minded, who believed and said preposterous things," Sterling told DRCNet. "His drug advisor Carleton Turner was quoted in Time saying using marijuana leads to homosexuality. When Reagan came in, the people he put in charge of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) began purging libraries of materials that contained facts about drugs that were no longer politically acceptable. His top advisor for law enforcement matters and later his attorney general was Ed Meese, who as a California prosecutor had experienced the 1960s at Berkeley. Meese saw marijuana as a great social evil."

"It wasn't just the Republicans," agreed Arnold Trebach (, a pioneer in American drug reform and founder of the Drug Policy Foundation in 1988. "But Reagan just swept the country along with him. It was that the country was in a state of hysteria, Democrats and Republicans alike. He tapped into this hysteria and drove it to incredible heights. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon. We forget the extent to which everyone was into this. There was a phrase both parties used, 'no one to the right of me on the drug issue,'" Trebach recalled.

"I admire Reagan for ending the Cold War, but in the drug policy arena, he was just horrible," said Trebach, whose book "The Great American Drug War" was written as Reagan-era drug laws began to bite. "If you want a taste of the hysteria and the fear, read my book. You had kids turning in their mothers for smoking pot and people like Joyce Nalepka saying that was the right thing to do. You had Reagan pushing to get rid of Posse Comitatus so he could use the armed forces in the drug war. He was for freedom, but like so many people, not when it came to drugs. The Reagan era spawned all sorts of nasty innovations, and while not all of them came from the White House, they were all part of that same intrusive spirit. We are still suffering from that to this day," he told DRCNet.

"I was going around the country at the time and I had just gone on marijuana raids with the DEA in California, and when I got back to Washington, I decided that instead of writing more books, I would create a drug reform organization," Trebach explained. "The formation of the Drug Policy Foundation and the birth of the modern drug reform movement was a direct result of the horrors of the Reagan drug war."

"Drug policy was one of the few areas where Reagan strayed from his conservative philosophy by expanding the power of the government and undermining the Constitution," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (, the lineal descendant of Trebach's Drug Policy Foundation. "The cost to taxpayers and civil liberties has been tremendous. It is sadly ironic," he told DRCNet. "This is a man who warned that government can't solve all problems and that government can do more harm than good, and there is no better example of that than his own war on drugs, with its increased overdoses, broken families, effect on the Constitution, and all the rest."

But Reagan wasn't alone in the drug war debacle of the 1980s, Piper hastened to add. "Reagan was a cheerleader for harsher drug penalties, but at same time both parties were rushing to be the first to advocate tougher penalties. Sen. Joe Biden and Rep. Charlie Rangel and other Democrats leading the charge deserve much of the blame," he said. "At least, those Democrats have come around a little. Rangel has realized that what he did caused more harm than good and is working for change, and even Biden is at least coming around a bit on mandatory minimums. But I don't know that Reagan ever looked back and realized he was wrong."

But in an interview conducted in 1986 and reported by The Economist in 1996, Reagan showed at least some sensitivity to issues of privacy and liberty in the drug war. "I have great concerns," Reagan said, when asked about mandatory drug testing for federal employees. Except for groups such as air traffic controllers and federal agents who carry guns, "I would rather see a voluntary program." Should drug users go to jail? asked the interviewer. "No," he replied. "I think we should offer help for them." And while he said he personally favored executing drug dealers, he thought such a law would "divide our ranks" and "would be counterproductive."

The Economist published those comments in an article making the point that Reagan appeared downright moderate compared to President Bill Clinton and his Republican challenger Sen. Bob Dole as they struggled to out-drug war each other in the 1996 presidential campaign. Clinton was bragging about adding more drug crimes to the death penalty list and urging that teens be forced to take drug tests before they could get a drivers' license. "The Clinton Administration has taken the Republican drug war to soaring new heights of Draconian ineffectiveness," the Economist noted dourly.

"People remember Reagan's charming smile and personality, but they forget the mean-spiritedness of many of his policies," said Keith Stroup, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (, who has been monitoring presidential drug policies since the days of Richard Nixon. "For those of us in drug policy reform, it is hard to feel anything but disappointment in a man who seemed so congenial but unaware of uncaring about the fact that he was filling the jails with nonviolent drug offenders," he told DRCNet. "I don't want to dance on anyone's grave, but Ronald Reagan was certainly no friend of marijuana smokers."

Nancy Reagan's "Just
Say No" Campaign
Stroup also pointed a finger at Nancy Reagan and her "Just Say No" slogan. "Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' did the work of dumbing down the debate on drugs in this country. Instead of recognizing drug use as a complex problem and people as complex beings, she gave us the idea that we could fix everything if we just said no. If that were the case, we wouldn't have a drug problem in this country," Stroup said. "They were only interested in using the criminal justice system. There was no attempt to treat drug use as a medical problem. Anyone who used illicit drugs had a character flaw and needed to be jailed. Alcohol, on the other hand, was no problem whatsoever."

"You can't talk about this without talking about Nancy Reagan," agreed Sterling. "She was extremely influential in policy, especially drug policy in the White House. She had been condemned for bringing an imperial style to the White House after the homespun Carters, and her advisors said she had to find a public service issue to improve her profile. She got drugs, and her 'Just Say No' program came to symbolize an approach toward drug abuse prevention that focused primarily on young people who never used drugs, while it completely ignored talking realistically to young people who were using drugs."

Sterling also pointed to another area where Nancy Reagan's role was pivotal. "She became the honorary chair of the national federation of parents for drug-free youth and led an enormous effort to organize Republican women in the context of the anti-drug effort," he said. "This has continued to the present day. What ostensibly are volunteer parent organizations are in fact recipients of lots of grant money from a variety of federal agencies. This was a way to counter the growing and genuine critiques of Reagan economic and social policies. Urban communities were being destroyed by those policies, but the drug-free groups organized in the context of fighting drugs, not poverty or injustice."

And just as Arnold Trebach gave Reagan-era drug war horrors the credit for inspiring him to found the Drug Policy Foundation, Sterling gives Nancy Reagan perverse credit for impelling new approaches to drug abuse. "Harm reduction became civil society's response to the head-in-the-sand 'Just Say No' approach," he said.

Although the impetus for marijuana reform under Reagan's predecessor, Jimmy Carter, had faded before Reagan took office, the Reagan administration absolutely froze any progress toward reform, Stroup said. "In 1979, Nebraska was the last state to decriminalize marijuana, but after that the message went out that marijuana smokers were no longer to be treated as decent people. That held for Republicans and Democrats alike," Stroup recalled.

"During the 1970s, we had Democrats like Harold Hughes of Iowa and Philip Hart of Michigan, as well as Republicans like Jacob Javits of New York, who would sponsor decriminalization bills every year in Congress. Up until 1981 or 1982, it was possible to have an honest debate over marijuana policy, but after the arrival of the Reaganites it was no longer acceptable for mainstream politicians to argue for decrim instead of filling our jails with pot smokers. The last decrim bill was introduced in 1982 or 1983, and I'm sorry to say that streak remains unbroken to this day."

"Drug use is a profoundly social phenomenon," Sterling pointed out. "Lawmakers tend to forget that and think that drug use is a consequence of inadequate law enforcement or not enough tough laws, but people make decisions about drugs in the same utterly unpredictable way in which hair style changes, or facial hair, or clothing styles. And there is a certain zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. Most of what we think of as the "1960s" really took place in the 1970s – the climax of the civil rights struggle, the bloodletting in Vietnam, the student protests leading to the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State, protests in Washington where tens of thousands of demonstrators were illegally arrested. There was a level of social conflict that was really intense. Then after Nixon came Jimmy Carter, a calming figure. Carter wanted marijuana decriminalization, the country was smoking pot, and it fit into an attitude of mellowness after the conflict and violence," Sterling explained.

"Then came Reagan. He rejected the mellow, homespun approach for grand style. I remember his inauguration; Washington was suffering from limousine gridlock. Reagan came in with a transforming national message: We're Number One, we're the greatest, the most powerful, the strongest. There is a drug that fits that zeitgeist. It's cocaine. It was the cocaine '80s, although not for long because of the price to be paid. But if you were on Wall Street or an athlete, it was the drug that made you smarter, faster, better. And the Reagan drug policy had set the stage for the cocaine boom."

"Having been a lifelong Goldwater Republican, I welcomed Reagan's election," said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. "By the end of his regime, I was appalled by the mounting wreckage caused by his blithe, hypocritical abandonment of free-market, limited-government principles in waging the war on drugs. Personally, I don't hold Ronald Reagan 100% responsible for the complete disaster; Democrats cheered him along and rivaled him in proposing tough anti-drug measures. Reagan was a product of his generation, ignorant of marijuana, and responding to a powerful tide of genuine, popular, anti-drug sentiment that swept the nation during the coke-addled '80s."

It was not only Reagan's drug policies, but his willingness to abandon them in the pursuit of "higher purposes" with some very shady characters that disturbed Sanho Tree, drug policy analyst for the Institute of for Policy Studies ( "Reagan preached 'Just Say No' and sought tougher criminal penalties while his administration worked hand in hand with some of the most notorious drug traffickers in the world," Tree pointed out. "Ollie North and his gang knowingly worked with drug smugglers in order to send the profits to a mercenary army called the Contras working for the CIA to overthrow the elected leftist government of Nicaragua. The Contras practiced some of the most horrific forms of terror and mutilation ever known in this hemisphere. Their human rights record was so blood curdling that Congress forbade military assistance to them – hence the turn to covert drug funding for the Contras."

And if by the mid-1980s American elites had said good-bye to cocaine, there was room down-market. By the mid-1980s, the beginning of Reagan's second term, as cocaine flooded the streets of American cities, crack cocaine appeared and, along with it, crack hysteria. It was different when the cocaine users were poor and black instead of wealthy and white.

But the Reagan administration's turning of a blind eye to other armed irregulars was to have even more long-lasting consequences, said Tree. "In Afghanistan, Reagan sought to give the Soviets their own taste of Vietnam, so the CIA funded and trained the fundamentalist mujahadeen, including Osama bin Laden. These forces quickly turned to opium poppy cultivation to supplement their CIA funding and now Afghanistan produces three-quarters of the world's heroin," the analyst said. According to numerous reports, profits from that trade are helping to finance Al Qaeda and the Taliban (not to mention warlords within the US-backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai). "Reagan called these armies 'freedom fighters' and the 'moral equivalent of our founding fathers. The founding fathers grew hemp for peaceful purposes -- they didn't traffic in cocaine and heroin in order to wage war! In fact, one could argue that Reagan's foreign policy gave birth to the original 'narco-terrorists,' the Contras and the mujahadeen."

Eric Sterling summed up the Reagan era. "When Reagan came into office, marijuana was cheap and plentiful, cocaine was scarce and expensive, and AIDS was unknown. When Reagan left office, pot was expensive and hard to find, cocaine was cheap and plentiful, and AIDS had become a full-blown epidemic he refused to address."

At least a few Reagan administration officials have publicly taken drug reform stances since the Reagan-era ended. George Shultz, Reagan's Secretary of State, has questioned prohibition and spoken at reform gatherings, including two events for police leaders and public officials organized by former San Jose and Kansas City police chief Joseph McNamara at Stanford's Hoover Institution. And Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger has discussed his own medical use of marijuana and championed that issue in conservative publications such as National Review. Perhaps more of the participants in the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush drug war will rethink that area of policy and perhaps it will make a difference.

2. Medical Marijuana Activists Protest at More Than 100 Congressional Offices in National Day of Action

Last Friday, June 4, medical marijuana activists and supporters gathered outside the district offices of more than 100 members of Congress (perhaps as many as 150; reports are still coming in) as the first step in a campaign to win passage this year of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment. Named for its sponsor, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and its lead cosponsor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), the amendment would prevent the US Department of Justice from arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning medical marijuana patients and caregivers in states where medical marijuana is legal under state law. The protests were carefully aimed at lawmakers who had voted against the measure in the past, but who are considered susceptible to political pressure.

From Spokane to Philadelphia, from Albuquerque to Baltimore, activists gathered in small groups to try to persuade, shame, or scare their recalcitrant representatives into supporting a cause that has repeatedly shown broad popular support in polls and at the ballot box in states where citizens have been given the opportunity to put it to a direct vote. A prominent fixture at demonstrations across the country was a flyer with the targeted representative's name appearing before "thinks cancer, MS, and AIDS patients should be sent to federal prison" for using medical marijuana.

In Connecticut, about a dozen activists protesting Rep. Rob Simmons' (R) vote against Hinchey-Rohrabacher last year got a surprise when Simmons himself came out and addressed them. "As you know, there is a great debate on this issue," Simmons said, according to an account in the Norwich Bulletin. "Even here in Connecticut, not everyone is in agreement on this issue, and I haven't seen the evidence yet to convince me to change my view." While Simmons pronounced himself unconvinced, he added that if protestors could provide compelling evidence to the contrary, he would be happy to review it.

That kind of attention impressed demonstrators. "I was very impressed with him being cordial, and literally coming out here," said Mark Braunstein of Quaker Hill, a medical marijuana user and one of the protest organizers. "In terms of his response, I don't think I possibly could have asked for anything more."

Aaron Houston, national field director for the Marijuana Policy Project (, one of the groups sponsoring the protests, was pleased, but less impressed. "We didn't hear that much from Simmons that was actually encouraging, but the fact that we were having a dialogue could be construed as at least a first step," he told DRCNet. "At the very least, we have his attention."

Joining MPP in coordinating the protests were the Drug Policy Alliance (, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (, among others. Last year, Hinchey-Rohrabacher got 152 votes on the House floor, coming up 66 votes short of passage. The protests June 4 were designed to start finding those votes. June 4 was chosen to mark the one-year anniversary of the sentencing of Ed Rosenthal, the marijuana cultivation guru convicted on federal marijuana cultivation charges for overseeing a grow authorized by the city of Oakland. In a legal and public relations defeat for the Justice Department, Rosenthal's sentencing judge gave him time served (one day) when he could have sentenced him to 10 years.

In Albuquerque, about 30 people showed up outside the offices of Rep. Heather Wilson (R), reported MPP summer fellow Gabrielle Guzzardo. "I was quite pleased," she told DRCNet. "While Wilson didn't react directly and one of her staffers told a local radio station her position was firm – she worries that legalizing medical marijuana will lead to rampant drug use, including alcohol, he said – we got overwhelming support from passersby. People were honking their horns, yelling approval out their car windows, things like that. We ran out of flyers."

And while Wilson remains intransigent, said Guzzardo, she will pay a price. "We will campaign aggressively against Wilson. I know there are some volunteers here who are going to volunteer to work on the campaign of her Democratic challenger because of her stand," the University of New Mexico student said. And the word is going out. "We got great press coverage from two large state newspapers, two radio stations, and the Spanish language network Univision. All of the coverage was favorable to us, except Univision, which ran a mediocre story."

In seven cities across the country, the campaign organized press conferences to coincide with the protests, said Bill Piper, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We took out ads in Philadelphia and Baltimore criticizing Rep. Hoeffel (D) in Pennsylvania and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) in Maryland," he told DRCNet. "Cummings is the ranking minority member on the government reform subcommittee and the chair of the congressional black caucus. He is also one of only three members of the caucus to vote against Hinchey-Rohrabacher last year. Those ads generated a good response," said Piper. "People were outraged and upset. We urged them to contact their representatives to tell them that."

The representatives were carefully chosen, said Piper. "We basically decided to target people who voted no last year but might be amenable to persuasion. We could have targeted all 273 no votes, but it is doubtful, for instance, that we could change how Rep. Mark Souder votes," he explained. "Some were state sensitive. We focused on Elijah Cummings because of his position on the government reform subcommittee, but there were a lot of Maryland and Pennsylvania Democrats who voted the wrong way. By singling out one or two, we can make examples of them for all the rest. We can show them that if they vote for medical marijuana, nothing bad will happen to them, but if they vote no, they could have this organized opposition in their district. If a member votes to send cancer patients to prison, we will let the voters know."

A vote on Hinchey-Rohrabacher may came in July, when it is set to be offered as an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Defense spending bill, said Piper. But he warned that because of election year politics it is possible the spending bill will be dumped into an omnibus appropriations bill, "which would limit the ability to offer different amendments" like Hinchey-Rohrabacher, he said.

In the meantime, organizing to gain the votes to pass Hinchey-Rohrabacher will continue. "This was just the beginning," said Piper.

3. Despite Ohio State University's Best Efforts, Ohio Hempfest Goes On As Scheduled

The ninth-consecutive Ohio Hempfest (, held on the campus of Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, came off as planned last Saturday, with some 8,000-10,000 people listening to music and speeches, buying hempen goods and fair trade items, and firing up their favorite smokeables under a peaceful Ohio sky. The event, sponsored by the OSU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (, nearly didn't happen, and it took a last-minute ruling from a federal judge to save it.

Despite OSU having been aware for months that the annual event was once again in the offing – the site had been reserved in October and the reservation confirmed by the university in January – the university informed OSU SSDP a mere five days before Hempfest that the event was canceled. The ostensible reasons were the group's failure to notify OSU police 10 days ahead of the event -- it arrived a day late – and its failure to have a form signed by the group's faculty advisor.

The trouble didn't come as a complete surprise, said Russell Selkirk, a former member and now alumni advisor for OSU SSDP. "We hosted an SSDP event last fall, and several kids were smoking pot in an academic building. The campus police were prepared; they had undercovers there, and they called in the uniforms and shut us down. We were investigated by the university review board as to whether we could continue to be a recognized student organization. They decided we could, but we had to abide by some stipulations, including the 10-day rule, he said.

Then came an ominous email from OSU Chief of Police John Petry. "Petry said he had serious reservations about the event, and we began scrambling around to try to resolve it with him and campus administrators, but they would not return our phone calls. They did not want to talk to us," he said. "Then, on the Tuesday before Hempfest, Petry and Pat Hall, director of the Judicial Review Board, met behind closed doors, then came out and declared that Hempfest was canceled."

Rich Hollingsworth, associate vice president of student affairs, told the Columbus Dispatch that the nature of the event wasn't the issue. "The issue here, really, is about compliance with the directives of the Office of Judicial Affairs," he said. "If the group wanted to reschedule... they could do it. Of course, that would be a little hard to do with the school year ending."

But OSU Police Chief John Petry had other concerns. In an e-mail he sent to SSDP's Sean Luse that same day, Petry cited drugs. "In past years, there has been significant drug use at the event and the sponsoring group has done little to stop that and could even be said to encourage it," Petry wrote. "I am very reluctant to grant any permission for the event to go forward."

With 24 bands and numerous speakers lined up, and with vendors having shelled out money in advance to finance the fest, SSDP was not prepared to see Hempfest go down the drain. Two days later, they were in federal court seeking a temporary injunction against OSU. "This group is being targeted for their message, and the school should know better," said Bob Fitrakis, an attorney who teaches political science at Columbus State Community College and who represented SSDP. "It's one of the last bastions of liberal rights and free thinking in society."

At 5:00pm Friday, about 18 hours before the gates were scheduled to open, US District Court Judge Algenon Marbley ruled on SSDP's behalf, granting the injunction. "Not allowing Hempfest to occur would deprive [SSDP] and the Hempfest speakers and attendees their freedoms of speech and assembly," Marbley held.

And the ninth consecutive OSU Hempfest went off as scheduled under the banner "Overgrow the Government," though not undamaged. All 24 bands played, the vendors hawked their wares, and attendees heard speakers including long-time Kentucky marijuana movement personage Gatewood Galbraith, the Ohio Hempery's Don Wirtschafter, Dan Solano of Police Officers for Drug Law Reform, Abby Bair from SSDP's national office, NJ Weedman Ed Forchion, Fitrakis, and, last but not least, Marvin Marvin of the Party Party.

Attendance was about the same as last year, said Selkirk. It should have been higher. "We really aimed to expand our reach this year," Selkirk said. "We did a lot more advertising outside the immediate area, like in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the uncertainty about whether Hempfest would go canceled that out. The day before Hempfest, newspapers all over the state were running stories saying it had been canceled. That hurt."

OSU SSDP will undoubtedly do it again next year, said Selkirk, and he has some advice for them. "I think what happened here shows it's important that no matter what you're organizing for that you stand up the unjust and ridiculous rulings the university might try to use to repress you," he said. "They really tried to shut us down, and we took it to court and we won. Keep pushing the powers that be."

Here's some more advice: Don't give them any openings. Get your paperwork in on time.

4. Canadian Marijuana Reformers "Fill the Hill" to Make Cannabis an Issue in Upcoming Election Season

Thousands of people flooded onto Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada's capital, Saturday to demand the legalization of marijuana. The event came three weeks before Canadians go to the polls to elect a new national government, and while it was scheduled long before Prime Minister Paul Martin called elections for June 28, Fill the Hill ( has only added to the prominence of marijuana as a campaign issue this year.

With Martin's ruling Liberals having introduced a weak decriminalization bill this year – it would have created a system of fines for possession of less than 15 grams, but left cultivation illegal and increased penalties for all but the smallest marijuana grows – and Martin having promised last week to reintroduce it if returned to power, the issue is in play. And like the Liberal decrim bill, Martin's position on pot is drawing attacks from all sides.

(courtesy Fill The Hill)
Conservative opposition leader Stephen Harper weighed in when asked the same day by reporters while on the campaign trail in southern Ontario. "Marijuana should remain illegal," Harper said. "But he also implied that even the Conservatives felt the need to do something about marijuana. "I think we can look at fines rather than jail terms for possession under five grams."

The Conservative leader should have stopped there, but he also had a pot joke. "What I said was that I was offered a joint once and I was too drunk," he said when asked if he had ever smoked. "But the serious answer is that I'm an asthmatic, so I've never smoked anything."

While Harper was yukking it up, New Democrat Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton was pounding away at Martin's marijuana position from the left. Campaigning in Surrey, BC, this week, home of an estimated 4,500 marijuana grow-ops, he told a press conference he wanted to take the crime out of marijuana. "The best way to deal with marijuana grow-ops, in our view, is decriminalization," Layton said. "Right now you've got these huge grow-ops, it's entirely in a criminal context so you have violence, you have illegal activity of all kinds," he said. "Our approach has been to come up with a rules-based system that would prevent these kinds of big grow-ops."

But compared to statements Layton made last fall to Marc Emery's Pot-TV (, the NDP leader is mincing words. In response to a question from the Vancouver marijuana seed millionaire and British Columbia Marijuana Party ( founder, Layton explained why decriminalization wasn't enough. "Decriminalization addresses a very small part of the current problem, while leaving supply in a criminalized context," he said. "The NDP would like to see legislation that allows people to consume marijuana, particularly that they might grow themselves, and some technique that would allow them to be able to purchase safely, knowing what the quality is, and have that all be a legal activity."

Layton made his position even more clear in an advertisement he did for Pot-TV. "Folks, you're watching POT-TV, I'm Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and I'd like to invite you to support our party, which is in favor of modernizing our marijuana laws, creating a legal environment in which people can enjoy their marijuana, in the peace and quiet of their own home, or in a cafe, without having to worry about being criminalized."

Layton's remarks, coupled with an NDP platform that does everything but say the L-word ("a non-punitive, rules based approach to adult use"), prompted Emery and other activists to embrace the NDP, with some even forming an "anti-prohibitionist" wing of the party (, and to endorse it in this month's election. Emery went so far as to produce 50,000 flyers touting the NDP's pot position, an action that drew a rebuke, as well as some semantic hair-splitting from the Layton campaign. "Mr. Layton did not and does not endorse the legalization of marijuana," they said. "The NDP endorses its decriminalization." The party did not sanction Emery's flyers, and Emery is not authorized to speak for the NDP, they added.

While there has been some grumbling about Layton's semantics from the marijuana reform bases, Emery is unfazed. "Layton hasn't backtracked," Emery averred. "The NDP is solidly on cue, and we remain very excited. "There is some cynicism about the three established parties, but I don't share that cynicism when it comes to the NDP. I have been working with them for months and months now, and I have no complaints."

As for the brouhaha over the flyers, Emery professed little concern. "The literature campaign has been quite successful, and the controversy has only helped us out. I expect campaign managers to be miffed when someone who isn't under their control put out 50,000 flyers, but we're not going to let them make this issue number 15. For us, this is issue number one, and we treat it that way."

While Emery has thrown his support to the NDP, not all marijuana activists have followed that lead. Certainly not Marc Boris St.-Maurice, head of the federal Marijuana Party of Canada ( "We are in this," he told DRCNet. "We're staying true to our founding principles. I will continue to do everything I can to make this party work until marijuana is legalized," he said. "People who jump from party to party like gadflies do not inspire confidence. The party is running 71 candidates, mostly in Quebec and Ontario, but we've also experienced some growth in Manitoba, of all places. We'll be running seven candidates in Winnipeg, up from one last time."

If that sounded like a jab at Emery somewhere in there, it was. Emery strongly urged the national Marijuana Party not to field candidates but to support the NDP instead, and had some strong words for the party. Among other things, Emery said recently that some of its candidates were "sorry ass."

But if different factions of the Canadian marijuana movement are bickering, they set it aside long enough to share a stage in Ottawa Saturday. The pair of Marcs were among a roster of movement luminaries, also including Loretta Nall of the Emery-affiliated US Marijuana Party (, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( head Jack Cole, and Philippe Lucas, head of Canadians for Safe Access (, the medical marijuana defense organization, who addressed the sun-baked crowds at Fill the Hill. Other speakers included Jude Renaud, director of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (, lawyer and law professor Alan Young, Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (, Dominic Kramer of the Toronto Compassion Club. Member of Parliament Libby Davies and Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin sent letters that were read aloud.

Organized by Jody Pressman, a 23-year-old graduate of Ottawa's Carleton University, Fill the Hill pulled in some 5,000 people over the course of the day under the banner "REPEAL PROHIBITION – Harmful. Failed. Unjust." More broadly, Fill the Hill called for the defeat of the Liberal decrim bill, passage of a regulated approach that eliminates the black market, and the assurance of safe access for medical marijuana users. It was endorsed by LEAP, Educators for a Sensible Drug Policy, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and Canadians for Safe Access. The hours-long event was all talk, no music.

"We're in the middle of a federal election, and the issues concerning medical and recreational users haven't been dealt with," said Pressman. "A lot of people are suffering as a result. The government's medicinal cannabis program is horrible, there are ongoing raids like the one a few weeks ago at the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, these are big, unresolved issues. With their neglect, they are hurting us, and when we are harmed by certain laws, we demonstrate," he said.

And no music? "We asked do we need DJs and musical artists, and we decided that wasn't appropriate," said Pressman. "I'm proud of everyone who showed up; it was a testament to their convictions and to the quality of the speakers, who were all passionate and heartfelt," he said. "People came together not for a pot party but to repeal prohibition," said Pressman. "There were thousands of people smoking pot, but it wasn't about pot smoking. This was about when and where and why they were smoking. They were telling the people in power that they want in; they were smoking pot for a cause," he told DRCNet.

LEAP's Jack Cole was the hit of the show, as the Canadians wrapped their minds around the idea of an America cop calling for an end to prohibition. "I believe in legalizing all drugs," he said, adding that regulated drug distribution would drive out criminals. "When I speak to police officers on a one-to-one basis, they almost always agree with me that the war on drugs is a dismal failure," he said.

"Jack Cole was really impressive," said the Marijuana Party's St.-Maurice. "I think that's one of the biggest turning points I've seen since I've been an activist. To have police officers come on board loud and proud, well, that's one of the last pieces of the puzzle."

But in his remarks to the crowd, St.-Maurice had the election on his mind. "I explained that the Marijuana Party will see this through to the end," he said, "and I talked about people joining other parties to further the cause. I endorse that, but if they found they weren't getting the respect they deserved, we will always be there, the door will also be open in the Marijuana Party."

Pressman said that the real enemy was the Liberals. "Prime Minister Martin said he will revive the decriminalization bill, but it is really more like alternative penalties -- that's what former Justice Minister Cauchon said when he introduced it," Pressman argued. "What Martin is doing is actually quite conservative. Decrim means you take the criminal aspects out of it, and Martin's bill doesn't do that. If he gets his way, we may end up with a weak bill, and that would be pathetic 30 years after the LeDain Commission recommended real decriminalization. Martin's bill does nothing for medical users, makes things worse for recreational users, and kills the momentum behind our issue."

"The NDP offers true decrim," Pressman said. "Jack Layton came out and made some strong statements about legalizing it earlier. Now he's in election mode and he's trying to couch his message in words that appeal to the mainstream, so I don't fault Jack for saying decrim now instead of legalization. Your heart may say you want your leader waving a joint and saying legalize it, but your head knows that first he has to get into office, and grandma and grandpa aren't going for the joint-waving."

"Let the Marijuana Party and the BCMP and the Greens say legalize," Pressman suggested. "The NDP says it wants a non-punitive rules-based approach, and I trust them on that. Instead of criticizing Jack Layton, we should be thanking him for making this more palatable."

The Canadian federal election is set for June 28. Although the most recent polls show the ruling Liberals in a neck and neck race with the Conservatives, with the NDP placing a strong third, the conventional wisdom is that the Liberals will be able to form the next government. The question is whether they will have to so as a minority government. If that turns out to be the case, the Liberals will have to turn to members of Parliament from other parties to pass legislation, thus, in the eyes of hopeful activists, providing an opening for the NDP to push for "non-punitive, rule-based" marijuana policies that do not stop halfway.

5. Newsbrief: "Three Strikes" Challenge Makes California Ballot

Organizers of an initiative that would undo some of the harshest provisions of California's "three-strikes" law have gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot, the group announced this week. Under the state's three-strikes law, which mandates 25-to-life for third time felony offenders, thousands of prisoners are doing decades of prison time for nonviolent offenses. And it's official: The initiative is now listed as approved on the web site of the California Secretary of State.

Sponsored by Citizens Against Violent Crime (, the "Three Strikes and Child Protection Act of 2004" would require that only violent or serious felonies count as a third strike. Under the current law, people are doing 25-to-life for third strikes that included stealing a piece of pizza, stealing videos, and walking out of sporting goods store with a set of golf clubs without paying.

The initiative effort came about after the US Supreme Court in March 2003 upheld the laws ( The sentences were not so grossly disproportionate as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment, the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision.

The initiative has been endorsed by a large number of political office-seekers, community leaders and organizations, ranging from the ACLU of Southern California and California NORML to the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles African-American Chamber of Commerce, as well as dozens of Democratic clubs statewide.

It appears to have strong support at this early stage. The Associated Press reported Thursday that a non-partisan Fielding Poll of voters on a variety of pending initiatives found the three-strikes challenge winning the approval of a whopping 76% of those polled, including 74% of Republicans. Although, led tough-on-crime politicians, Californians have for the past two decades gorged themselves on fear of crime and stuffed the state's prisons with nonviolent offenders -- including more than a thousand doing three-strikes sentences and dozens doing them for a marijuana offense – the expenses of maintaining those prisons has provided an opening for reformers.

But expect a tough fight from conservative politicians, powerful prison guard and police unions, and victims' rights activists, such as Mike Reynolds, the Fresno father of a murdered teen who helped write the three-strikes law. Visit his web site – -- for a taste of what to expect.

6. Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Troopers Find Dope Most Often on White Motorists but Search More Blacks and Hispanics, Study Finds

A year-long study of racial profiling practices in the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) has found little evidence to show that state troopers stop minority motorists in disproportionate numbers, but has found that troopers are more likely to search them even though white motorists are more likely to be carrying contraband. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Penn State University for the PSP, in response to public and political pressure to examine whether state troopers are engaging in racially discriminatory police practices.

The PSP is, naturally, trumpeting the study's finding that "no consistent evidence exists to suggest that Pennsylvania State Troopers make stopping decisions based on drivers' race or ethnicity." In a press release late last month, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller noted that the PSP had commissioned the study as part of a policy prohibiting bias-based policing. "I'm pleased that the results clearly show that our troopers are not stopping drivers based on their race."

But apparent bias does show up in "post-stop outcomes," where "it appears there are racial, ethnic and gender disparities, particularly for arrest and search decisions," the study's authors reported. The study found that blacks were 1.5 times more likely to be arrested and 3.0 times more likely to be searched than whites. For Hispanics, those figures were 1.8 and 2.7 respectively.

The difference between the post-stop arrest and search figures for each ethnic group is attributable to the study's finding that while minorities are more likely to be searched during a traffic stop, they are less likely to be carrying contraband than whites. PSP officers found contraband in 29% of searches of whites, compared to 21% for blacks, 17% for Hispanics and 12% for "other."

Revealingly, searches conducted at the trooper's discretion – as opposed to those mandated by departmental policy – show an even greater discrepancy in search success rates and a higher percentage of searches conducted that found nothing. For these types of hunch-based searches, PSP officers found contraband in 17% of searches of whites, compared to 11% for blacks, 9% for Hispanics and 7% for "other."

"Differential searches and success rates of minority drivers appears to be an issue of department-wide concern," the study's authors noted.

And by the way, when it comes to "contraband" seized by the PCP, 51% was drugs, 18% was alcohol, then came cash and cars. Weapons were seized in only 5.5% of the successful searches. And in fully half of all vehicle searches, the only reason for searching the vehicle was the driver's consent.

Read the study, "Project on Police-Citizen Contacts, Year I Report," online at:

7. Newsbrief: Swiss Doctors Want Prescription Cocaine, But Government Wary with Cannabis Decriminalization Vote Looming

A little more than a decade ago, Switzerland embarked on what is by all accounts a successful program of prescribing heroin to addicts. Now, some doctors are calling for that program to be expanded to include prescribing cocaine as well, the Swiss news agency Swiss Info reported last week. The Swiss government isn't so sure, however, especially with a controversial vote on decriminalizing cannabis set for later this month.

At a national conference on addiction in Bern last week, doctors broached the topic with government officials. "Of the 150 heroin patients I have here, perhaps a third of them could also benefit from cocaine prescription," said Dr. Daniel Meili, who heads Zurich's prescription heroin program. "They come here to get the heroin, but they are also addicted to cocaine, which they buy on the illegal market. "They can spend between [$8,000-16,000] a month to feed their habit, which means they are often involved in crime."

According to the Swiss government, there are some 90,000 cocaine users in the country, although many of them are recreational users. Drug-related crime increased 6% last year, the government reported.

A typical client for prescription cocaine would be a multi-drug addict already receiving prescription heroin, said Meili. Clients who remain strung out on cocaine do not reap the benefits enjoyed by the heroin prescription program's other clients, such as improved health, more stable lifestyle, even regular employment, he said. "The mortality risk among these patients is quite high," he said. "Without treatment, many of them will die in the next ten years."

But the Federal Health Office, which doctors look to for assistance, isn't so sure. "There's just no evidence that such a scheme would be successful," said Markus Jann, head of the drug addiction department. "We would be very hesitant about trying such a thing, and anyhow we have more important addictions to tackle, such as alcohol or tobacco," he told Swiss Info.

Still, the ultimate decision on whether to allow a prescription cocaine program lies with local authorities, and in Zurich doctors and officials are in the talking stages of a trial program that would involve around 20 patients. "If Zurich wants to try, we won't be against it," Jann told Swiss Info. "We will follow it with interest, but there's no reason for us to finance it. There are many different options for treating cocaine addiction without working with cocaine itself. We haven't tried everything yet."

The government is also reluctant to pronounce on something as potentially controversial as prescription cocaine because of nervousness over a looming vote on a government measure that would decriminalize cannabis. "The Federal Health Office -- which spent months drafting the legislation and lobbying for it – fears that a rash move towards cocaine prescription could encourage opposition to the law," Swiss Info reported.

8. Newsbrief: Another Pain Doctor on Trial

Florida panhandle physician Dr. Freddie Williams went on trial beginning June 3 on charges he improperly prescribed opioid pain relievers, including the notorious Oxycontin, a hydrocodone formulation manufactured by Purdue Pharma. In opening statements, a federal prosecutor told the jury Williams was "a drug dealer with a medical license."

The prosecution is the latest in a nationwide wave of arrests and trials of pain doctors engineered by federal and local prosecutors with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement agencies. It comes in the midst of a campaign called by drug czar John Walters this spring to crack down on the illicit use of prescription drugs.

And it is the second in the Florida panhandle. In 2002, Dr. James Graves was sentenced to 63 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter for the Oxycontin-related deaths of patients. He sits in prison as he appeals the verdict. South Florida prosecutors were forced to drop murder charges against another physician, Dr. Dennis Deonarine (

"This is about a doctor peddling controlled substances, highly addictive opiates, for cash money," said Assistant US Attorney Stephen Kunz in his opening statement, according to an Associated Press account. He would prove that Williams put profit ahead of principle, he said, and that Williams prescribed drugs to "known addicts."

Williams maintains his innocence. Defense attorney Armando Garcia told the court Williams should not be blamed for patients who lied in order to obtain prescriptions. "Simply because someone becomes dependent on a substance does not make the doctor who prescribed the substance a criminal," Garcia said.

That's not what the prosecution thinks. They charged Williams with 93 separate charges, including 57 counts of illegally dispensing drugs and 30 counts of fraud related to the allegedly improper prescriptions. And just in case, they threw in a pair of conspiracy counts and a count of committing a felony while in possession of a weapon, i.e. owning a gun.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

9. Newsbrief: Legalize and Tax Cannabis, Says Canadian Institute

The Canadian government could earn revenues of more than $1.5 billion a year if it legalized and taxed marijuana, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based free-market think tank. And that's just what the government should do, the report concluded.

In British Columbia alone, the province on which the report concentrated, the retail value of the annual pot crop is $5 billion, the report said. BC appears strikingly cannabis-friendly, said report author Stephen Easton, noting that only 13% of those arrested for growing marijuana in the province are actually charged, compared to 60% in the rest of the country. And those who are convicted are less likely to be sent to jail; only 45% got jail time in BC.

Noting that BC police bust 3,000 marijuana grow-ops a year without making a dent in the trade, Easton likened current Canadian marijuana policy to Prohibition. "If we treat marijuana like any other commodity we can tax it, regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates rather than continue a war against consumption and production that has long since been lost," said Easton. "It is apparent that we are reliving the experience of alcohol prohibition of the early years of the last century."

The question is no longer if Canada is going to tolerate marijuana, said Easton, but who will profit from it. "Unless we wish to continue the transfer of these billions from this lucrative endeavor to organized crime, the current policy on prohibition should be changed. Not only would we deprive some very unsavory groups of a profound source of easy money, but also resources currently spent on marijuana enforcement would be available for other activities," he said.

Read the executive summary with link to the full report, "Marijuana Growth in British Columbia, online at:

10. Links: Rockefeller Reform Fizzles Again

One important news item that we did not get to this week is the fizzling, once again, of legislative efforts to seal a deal on some reform to New York state's Rockefeller Drug Laws. Republicans on the conference committee blamed Democratic legislators for inflexibility, while Democrats charged the Republicans didn't really want to see it happen.

We will report on this next week, but in the meantime wanted to provide you with some links to find out more in the meantime:

Anthony Papa on "Selling Us a Dream," on Alternet's "Drug Reporter":

Real Reform 2004:

William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice and Mothers of the NY Disappeared:

11. The Reformer's Calendar

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

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].

July 18, noon-6:00pm, New York, NY, 5th Annual Isidro Aviles Memorial Picnic, teach-in with Teresa Aviles of the November Coalition, contact isidro© for further information.

July 29-31, Colville, WA, "Once in a Blue Moon," November Coalition National Workshop. For further information, visit or contact (509) 684-1550 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 7-10, Vienna, Austria, "Ethnicity & Addiction: 16th International Congress on Addiction. For further information, visit or contact [email protected] or +43(0)1-585 69 69-0.

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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