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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #347, 7/23/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Commentary: Drugs and the 9/11 Commission Report
  2. Canada Prime Minister Says Marijuana Decriminalization Bill to be Reintroduced as Government Report Says Use Has Doubled
  3. It's Official: Oregon, Montana State and Columbia, Missouri, Local Initiatives Make November Ballot
  4. European Union Group Urges Censorship of Pro-Cannabis Web Sites, Activists Plot Counterattack
  5. Newsbrief: Nation's Jails Stuffed With Drug Offenders, Justice Department Says
  6. Newsbrief: Congress, Justice Department Seek Quick Hearing on Federal Sentencing Guidelines Chaos
  7. Newsbrief: Researchers Sue DEA, NIDA for Blocking Medical Marijuana Research
  8. Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill
  9. Newsbrief: Singapore Executes Man for Six Pounds of Marijuana
  10. Newsbrief: China Defends Executing Drug Offenders
  11. Newsbrief: Brazil to Start Shooting Down Drug Planes
  12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  13. Job Opportunity: Internet Advertising Sales at
  14. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Commentary: Drugs and the 9/11 Commission Report

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 7/23/04

Drugs and drug policy are everywhere -- even in the final report released yesterday by the 9-11 Commission. Drugs were a decidedly secondary issue for the commission, understandably -- we are able to include literally every excerpt on the topic in this short article -- but the report information of some relevance and importance to the topic nonetheless.

Page 17, NORAD Mission and Structure: "The threat of Soviet bombers diminished significantly as the Cold War ended, and the number of NORAD alert sites was reduced from its Cold War high of 26. Some within the Pentagon argued in the 1990s that the alert sites should be eliminated entirely. In an effort to preserve their mission, members of the air defense community advocated the importance of air sovereignty against emerging 'asymmetric threats' to the United States: drug smuggling, 'non-state and state-sponsored terrorists,' and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technology."

Drug War Chronicle comments: It's no surprise and not new news that officials would seek to preserve their Cold War budgets and programs by using the drug argument. But that doesn't make it useful to others besides them. Supply will always fill demand, which makes military activity a ridiculous way to reduce substance use or abuse. During his confirmation hearings in January 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Senators, "If demand [for drugs] persists, it's going to find ways to get what it wants. And if it isn't from Colombia, it's going to be from someplace else." It's been reported to DRCNet that during the 1990s, now-Secretary of State Colin Powell, responding to a question asked following an unrecorded speech at a college in New York, said "We will never solve the drug problem militarily."

Page 74, The Justice Department and the FBI: "[P]riorities were driven at the local level by the [FBI's] field offices, whose concerns centered on traditional crimes such as white-collar offenses and those pertaining to drugs and gangs. Individual field offices made choices to serve local priorities, not national priorities."

DWC: The FBI fighting drugs instead of the FBI fighting terrorism -- misplaced priorities, perhaps missed opportunities.

Page 76-77, FBI Organization and Priorities: "FBI, Justice, and Office of Management and Budget officials said that FBI leadership seemed unwilling [during the 1990s] to shift resources to terrorism from other areas such as violent crime and drug enforcement... With a few notable exceptions, the field offices did not apply significant resources to terrorism and often reprogrammed funds for other priorities... In 2000, there were still twice as many agents devoted to drug enforcement as to counterterrorism."

DWC: Misplaced priorities...

Page 80, Other Law Enforcement Agencies: "The [Justice] department's Drug Enforcement Administration had, as of 2001, more than 4,500 agents. There were a number of occasions when DEA agents were able to introduce sources to the FBI or CIA for counterterrorism use."

DWC: Drug war supporters might argue that this is an argument for continuing to wage the drug war -- sometimes the information that drug agents find is useful for counterterrorism. The argument would be flawed, however -- clearly any resources and manpower applied deliberately to counterterrorism would be likely to accomplish more for counterterrorism than counternarcotics efforts then and now might occasionally accomplish by accident.

Page 100, Counterterrorism: "President Clinton's first national security advisor, Anthony Lake, had retained from the Bush administration the staffer who dealt with crime, narcotics, and terrorism (a portfolio often known as 'drugs and thugs'), the veteran civil servant Richard Clarke."

Page 171, General Financing [of al Qaeda]: "Al Qaeda has been alleged to have used a variety of illegitimate means, particularly drug trafficking and conflict diamonds, to finance itself. While the drug trade was a source of income for the Taliban, it did not serve the same purpose for al Qaeda, and there is no reliable evidence that Bin Ladin was involved in or made his money through drug trafficking."

DWC: If any terrorists do use drug trafficking to finance their operations, and there is some evidence for it, that is a much better argument for legalization of drugs, not for fighting them. Of course, the commission did not raise that subject.

Page 179, [Attempted LA Airport Bombing Plotter] Ahmed Ressam: "Inspectors examining Ressam's rental car found the explosives concealed in the spare tire well, but at first they assumed the white powder and viscous liquid were drug related -- until an inspector pried apart and identified one of the four timing decides concealed with black boxes."

DWC: Another example drug warriors might use to argue for the drug war as helping the fight against terror. Also invalid, though -- there's no reason to believe in this day and age that inspectors spotting white powder hidden in a rental car's spare tire compartment would not think to investigate further.

Page 186, Terrorist Financing: "Treasury regulators, as well as US financial institutions, were generally focused on finding and deterring or disrupting the vast flows of US currency generated by drug trafficking and high-level international fraud. Large-scale scandals, such as the use of the Bank of New York by Russian money launderers to move millions of dollars out of Russia, captured the attention of the Department of the Treasury and of Congress. Before 9/11, Treasury did not consider terrorist financing important enough to mention in its national strategy for money laundering."

DWC: Another case of misplaced priorities, but more -- why is there such a vast flow of laundered US currency? As the commission noted, partly from drug trafficking. How can we get rid of it? Only through legalization, of course -- but again, of course, the commission didn't bring that up.

Page 209, Military Plans: "The FBI was struggling to build up its institutional capabilities to do more against terrorism, relying on a strategy called MAXCAP 05 that had been unveiled in the summer of 2000. The FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, Dale Watson, told us that he felt the new Justice Department leadership was not supportive of the strategy. Watson had the sense that the Justice Department wanted the FBI to get back to the investigative basics: guns, drugs, and civil rights... On May 9, the attorney general [John Ashcroft] testified at a congressional hearing concerning federal efforts to combat terrorism. He said that 'one of the nation's most fundamental responsibilities is to protect its citizens... from terrorist attacks.' The budget guidance issued the next day, however, highlighted gun crimes, narcotics trafficking, and civil rights as priorities. Watson told us that he almost fell out of his chair when he saw this memo, because it did not mention counterterrorism."

DWC: Our nation's misplaced priority of the misguided drug fight seems to emanate right from the top.

Pages 383-384, Protect Against and Prepare for Terrorist Attacks: "In the decade before September 11, 2001, border security -- encompassing travel, entry, and immigration -- was not seen as a national security matter. Public figures voiced concern about the 'war on drugs,' the right level and kind of immigration, problems along the southwest border, migration crises originating in the Caribbean and elsewhere, or the growing criminal traffic in humans."

DWC: Denial of reality -- it is well demonstrated from decades of experience that border enforcement cannot possibly stop the drug traffic, nor even reduce it enough to raise the price of drugs. Whether border security can protect us from terrorists either, I don't know. But drugs? Not a chance.

The 9/11 Commission Report is available at online.

2. Canada Prime Minister Says Marijuana Decriminalization Bill to be Reintroduced as Government Report Says Use Has Doubled

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Wednesday that his government will reintroduce a bill that would make possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana a ticketable offense with no criminal record. This will mark the third time a Liberal Canadian government has introduced the bill. The first time, it died when Prime Minister Jean Chretien stepped down, dismissing Parliament, and it died again earlier this year when Prime Minister Martin dismissed Parliament before last month's national elections.

The bill is the red-headed stepchild of Canadian drug politics, with conservatives reviling it as a cave-in to the forces of decadence but many drug reformers belittling it as going not nearly far enough. While the bill removes criminal sanctions for small-time possession, it increases penalties for all but the smallest marijuana grows. Even the Liberal Party, which as the minority government is sponsoring the bill, does not seem thrilled. Last time around, party leaders announced they would not enforce party discipline -- very tight in a parliamentary system -- and would instead let members have a "conscience vote" on the matter. There is no word yet whether party leaders will allow a "conscience vote" this time around.

But given the results of last month's election, even if every Liberal voted for the measure, it would still have to pick up additional votes. With the second-place Conservative Party firmly opposed, that means Martin will have to look to the third-place Bloc Quebecois or the fourth-place New Democratic Party (NDP) to find the necessary votes. While the Bloc has expressed little interest one way or the other in marijuana legislation, the NDP platform all but calls for legalization of the weed. NDP leaders, who ended up opposing the decrim bill last session because of its weaknesses, have told DRCNet that they believe they will be able to exert more influence to win a better bill from the Liberals now that the Liberals lack a clear majority.

The bill will be introduced in October, when Parliament reconvenes, Martin told reporters Wednesday. "The legislation on marijuana -- the decriminalization of minor quantities of marijuana -- that legislation will be introduced," he said, keeping a promise he had made during the campaign.

Martin's announcement came in the midst of a cannabis-heavy week in Canada. The day after Martin said he would move forward on decrim, Stats Canada released a report finding that marijuana use in Canada had nearly doubled in 13 years. In 1989, Stats Canada found, 6.5% of Canadians over age 15 admitted using cannabis within the previous year; by 2002, that number had risen to 12.2%, or some three million Canadians. About 10 million Canadians, or one-third of the population, have used marijuana at some point in their lives.

The Stats Canada report, the first major study of drug use patterns since the government proposed amending the cannabis laws, found that Canadian use levels are at three times the United Nations estimate of global usage.

While the Stats Canada report is certain to be cited by domestic opponents of the bill, it is also opposed by the US drug war establishment. US Ambassador Paul Cellucci has repeatedly warned that it could result in border delays, while drug czar John Walters has complained loud and long about Canadian marijuana imports to the US.

But yet another report this week, this one from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), punches some big holes in that argument. In its annual assessment of the Canadian drug situation, the RCMP pointed out that while Canadian marijuana exports to the US have been increasing -- seizures were up to about 35,000 pounds last year -- they are dwarfed by imports from Mexico. US authorities seized roughly one million pounds of Mexican pot last year, or about 30 times as much as was seized coming from Canada. But the US remains the major supplier for American tokers, the Mounties said, citing figures from the US National Drug Intelligence Center.

"It's quite clear that we are only a minor supplier of cannabis to the United States," Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, which advocates regulated legalization of marijuana, told Canada Press.

Still, the Mounties consider pot a big headache. Canadian police forces have seized an average of 1.1 million plants in each of the past five years, the report said. And marijuana enforcement takes up a lot of resources. "For some police forces, investigations into marijuana grow operations represent more than half their drug cases," the report said.

Look for a long, hot, smoking summer at Canada prepares to grapple with cannabis in the fall.

Read the RCMP report, "Drug Situation in Canada—2003," online at:

Read the Stats Canada report, "Use of Cannabis and Other Illicit Drugs," online at:

3. It's Official: Oregon, Montana State and Columbia, Missouri, Local Initiatives Make November Ballot

Three medical marijuana initiatives will go before voters in November. State election officials in Montana and Oregon certified that initiatives in those states have qualified for the ballot. Seven states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington -- have passed workable medical marijuana laws through the initiative process, while voters in Arizona in 1996 passed a measure that has been unworkable. In Hawaii and Vermont, medical marijuana has come though legislative action, while Maryland legislators passed a lesser bill allowing medicinal use to be used as a defense in marijuana possession cases.

In addition to Montana, Oregon, and Columbia, Missouri, marijuana-related initiatives are now confirmed in Alaska, where regulation is the issue; medical marijuana is on the ballot in Detroit (August vote), Ann Arbor and Berkeley, and Oakland will vote on "lowest priority" initiatives directing law enforcement to work on anything other than low-level marijuana offenses instead. The Oakland measure also directs city officials to support changes in public policy that move toward a regulated marijuana market. Last-ditch efforts to get on the ballot in Arkansas (medical marijuana) and Nevada (regulation) are still underway.

In Oregon, the office of Secretary of State Bill Bradbury announced Monday that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act II (OMMA2) had made the ballot. OMMA2 barely squeaked by, turning in 77,782 valid signatures. It needed 75,630 to qualify. Petitioners had turned in about 90,000 signatures earlier in the year, then turned in another 28,000 last month just to be safe. But with nearly 30% of the signatures disqualified, it still ended up being very close.

OMMA2 would amend the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed by voters in 1998 by creating a system of nonprofit dispensaries for medical marijuana patients under the regulatory eye of the Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Services. Such dispensaries could legally sell medical marijuana to qualified patients -- a groundbreaking move if passed.

The act would also increase the amount of marijuana patients can possess from three ounces to six pounds and increase the number of patients for whom caregivers can grow. OMMA2 would also ease regulations to make it easier for patients to qualify for the program. Currently, some 9,000 Oregon residents have registered with the state.

"We need OMMA2 because sick and dying people cannot be expected to produce their own medicine," said John Sajo, director of Voter Power (, one of the groups spearheading the drive. "We have nearly 10,000 card holders in the state reporting good results and no significant adverse health consequences. But many patients don't have their medicine most of the time," he told DRCNet. "OMMA2 creates a safe, regulated system of supply. Unlike in California, where you have a system of clubs that supply medical marijuana but don't have a source of legitimate supply, in Oregon dispensaries will be licensed to sell medical marijuana health products legally to patients or other dispensaries."

The initiative will pass, Sajo predicted. "This initiative came out of five years of working with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, and we feel it can pass even though in some ways it might be seen as a bold step. While, unlike most other drug reform initiatives, we did not write it based on polling data but on what needed to be done to improve OMMA, we have done polling showing 80% of voters believe patients should be able to purchase medical marijuana at a dispensary."

While OMMA2 appears relatively non-controversial to Oregon voters, it has already come to the notice of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and some cable TV mouthpieces. In a July 7 edition of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly and guest Andrea Barthwell, the recently resigned assistant to drug czar John Walters, gave a hint of what could be to come. Starting with the introduction of the topic, O'Reilly was a tear: He described OMMA2 as part of "the drive legalize marijuana," ridiculed its provisions to allow naturopaths and other licensed practitioners to recommend marijuana by saying "Amazonian shamans" could prescribe it, and repeatedly criticized the six-pound limit as "enough to fill a shopping cart."

Barthwell was singing counterpoint. "Two shopping carts, really," the good doctor averred. "It allows a person so much marijuana that they could supply a whole community of schoolchildren with enough marijuana to keep them intoxicated for days at a time." [Editor's Note: The O'Reilly-Barthwell transcript is worth reading in its entirety as an example of the quality of arguments used by medical marijuana's opponents. It is available at online.

"The O'Reilly show was illustrative of what we could face," said Sajo. "If the voters are listening to Fox News going on about the various provisions, that will make our campaign more difficult." But so far, he said, there is little organized opposition inside the state. "The opposition in 1998 was led by law enforcement, and we expect that to be the case again this year. A number of medical marijuana advocates have been meeting with a legislative advisory commission that included five law enforcement representatives, and it was clear that not only did they not like anything in OMMA2, they were still dragging their feet on OMMA," he said. "The question is whether they are organized in the sense of being willing to devote their weekends and spare time to this like we are, or whether they're just willing to say bad things to reporters."

No group has filed papers in opposition to OMMA2, Sajo said, but they are not required to until initiatives qualify and opponents start spending money.

Opposition or no, OMMA2 proponents are gearing up for victory. "Our campaign will be about showing how medical marijuana helps patients and explaining why it is difficult and in many cases impossible for patients to produce their own medicine," Sajo explained. "The restrictions in the current law basically deny patients medicine we now know helps them." And they have funding tentatively lined up for a TV advertising campaign to help get that message out.

Meanwhile, in Montana, an initiative that would bring medical marijuana to Big Sky Country qualified for the ballot July 16. The Montana secretary of state's office reported that the initiative, I-148, presented 22,059 certified signatures and qualified in 28 counties. To make the ballot, the measure needed 20,510 signatures and to qualify in 28 counties -- another close one, but Montanans will get to vote on medical marijuana in November.

According to initiative sponsors the Medical Marijuana Policy Project of Montana (, the measure will allow patients with cancer, AIDS, and other serious diseases and conditions to use marijuana upon a doctor's recommendation. Patients would be issued identification cards by the state government, and would be allowed to grow their own and possess up to six plants and one ounce of smokeable pot.

"This initiative will allow individuals to cultivate and use medical marijuana without fear of prosecution," said Paul Befumo, campaign spokesman for I-148. "It will allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for a variety of listed illnesses and conditions."

In a February 2002 poll, 66% of Montanans approved of medical marijuana, and Befumo told DRCNet he thinks that still holds true, citing not only increasing public awareness of its efficacy but also the state's conservative leanings. "The issue has support all over the state," Befumo said. "The traditional view is that the Western part of the state is more liberal than the East, but that doesn't seem to matter. In some ways, this is a conservative issue. Montanans believe in states' rights and limited government, and they will say they don't need some politico or some bureaucrat from Washington, DC, telling them what kind of treatment their doctor can give them."

As in Oregon, initiative organizers are keeping an eye out for drug czar John Walters and his henchmen. "The ONDCP has said they will oppose these initiatives, so they've given us fair warning," said Befumo, a 23-year Montana resident. "My guess is if there is any organized opposition it will be stirred up from Washington. The question is whether it will be open and people can see it's from Washington or whether they will try to do it surreptitiously," he warned.

Befumo and MMPPM are settling in for a fight. According to an e-mail sent to supporters from Rob Kampia, director of the national Marijuana Policy Project, MPP wants to spend $100,000 on a media campaign, although it doesn't yet have all the money. "We will be embarking on a campaign to educate the public about what this initiative does and does not do," said Befumo. "The arguments against are basically that marijuana has no medicinal value, and I think that's great! That position is so outrageous and so easily disproved by the current state of the science that it will be easy to show who's telling the truth and who's not."

And in Columbia, Missouri, the Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education (CAPE) has won certification of two municipal initiatives. The first would order city prosecutors to dismiss misdemeanor marijuana or paraphernalia possession charges if the defendant can show a doctor supports his need for marijuana for a legitimate medical condition. The other initiative, known as the Smart Sentencing Initiative, would require prosecutors to refer misdemeanor possession cases to the municipal -- not the state -- court, remove the possibility of jail time, and reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $250.

"We have succeeded in certifying both initiatives," said CAPE spokesperson Dan Viets, a local defense attorney and member of the NORML board of directors. "We will be on the ballot in November," he told DRCNet.

"The sentencing initiative eliminates all jail time and cuts the fines," Viets added, "but it also very importantly means you do not lose your eligibility for federal student financial assistance. The Higher Education Act only applies to state or federal convictions, not municipal ones. We think others should be aware of that and if they have municipal courts, they should do the same thing."

Seven states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington -- have passed workable medical marijuana laws through the initiative process, while voters in Arizona in 1996 passed a measure that has been unworkable. In Hawaii and Vermont, medical marijuana has come though legislative action, while Maryland legislators passed a lesser bill allowing medicinal use to be used as a defense in marijuana possession cases.

4. European Union Group Urges Censorship of Pro-Cannabis Web Sites, Activists Plot Counterattack

A European Union (EU) working group on drug policy has issued a draft resolution identifying marijuana as European drug problem number one and recommending, among other things, that governments move to censor or criminalize Internet sites that provide information on cannabis cultivation or promote its use. The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (, an umbrella organization of drug reform groups that seeks to influence EU drug policy, was working this week to formulate a response.

Meeting on July 6, the EU's Horizontal Drug Group approved the Draft Council Resolution on Cannabis. It will now be presented to the European Council for approval as the EU works toward completing its continental drug strategy. Noting its concern about the rising popularity of cannabis (marijuana), the high potency of some marijuana, possible ill health effects, and the role of organized crime in the cannabis trade, the drug group called for more international law enforcement cooperation against trafficking, "alternative development" for cannabis producing regions, demand reduction at home, no marijuana in prison, and more research.

But it was the drug group draft's 21st paragraph that was the attention-getter. It encouraged "Member States in accordance with national legis1ation to consider taking measures against Internet sites providing information on cultivation and promoting the use of cannabis."

"This is nothing less then a direct attack against many organizations, groups of people, and individuals, who are active on the Internet giving information on cannabis cultivation and use," said Joep Oomen, ENCOD coordinator. "If member states really adopt these measures, they could even address them to all sites that have a cannabis leaf on it," he said. "If Western authorities start to limit the freedom of expression of their own citizens -- and we are talking about 25-40 million cannabis consumers in the EU -- we can be sure that something is really going wrong."

"It is also a silly measure," he told DRCNet. "Local and national authorities are well aware that allowing consumers to cultivate cannabis is not leading to massive health problems. On the contrary, if you persecute them, conditions for obtaining cannabis become harder, and all kinds of problems start to arise which had disappeared with depenalization," he argued. "Cultivation of cannabis for own one's consumption is depenalized in several EU countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, and in practice in all the EU -- no one will get into trouble for cultivating some plants. So allowing them to cultivate but forcing them and others to keep their mouth shut about it is a ridiculous policy."

ENCOD, which includes more than 75 different European drug reform organizations in its membership, is plotting a response, said Oomen. "After the European Union drug summit in Dublin in May (, we have a foot inside the door for the debate on the new EU drug strategy," he said. "We were already preparing a proposal to organize a dialogue between civil society and policymakers on the new strategy, and we may use this issue as a good example to explain our main criticism to policymakers, namely that they are completely out of sync with reality. We will offer them our help to design and implement reality-based drug policies."

Still, said Oomen, there may be less here than meets the eye. "It is a nonbinding resolution and is really meant as a symbolic measure, with which the national and supranational policymakers hope to strengthen the repressive trend in recent European drug policies," he explained. "It comes just before the start of the discussion on a new EU Drug Strategy, and is meant to push this discussion in a certain direction."

The resolution was the work of the governments of Sweden, probably Europe's leading prohibitionist government, and Spain, but the conservative Spanish government of Prime Minister Felipe Aznar has since been replaced by the more reform-friendly Socialists. "It was presented in March by Sweden and Spain in an even more repressive form, but afterwards a lot of member states presented objections, but chose to agree on the final version as they did not want this discussion to be mixed up with the debate on the new EU Drug strategy that starts in September," Oomen reported.

Support for the resolution is not strong, Oomen said. According to one government official who spoke to Oomen, "everybody, including the governments that presented it, prefers now to forget this resolution, and go on to the discussion on the EU Drug Strategy." This official advised laying low, saying, "Don't paint the devil on the wall -- then it will appear in person."

But ENCOD's membership appears disinclined to simply watch and wait. "Perhaps everyone has forgotten about this already, but the main trend behind this resolution will not go away if we just sit and pray, so we definitely plan actions," said Oomen. "First we want to see how far they allow us to go with the dialogue process, and if that is unsatisfactory, we have other ways to put pressure on them."

Read the EU Horizontal Drug Group's Draft Council Resolution on Cannabis online at:

The full text is at:

5. Newsbrief: Nation's Jails Stuffed With Drug Offenders, Justice Department Says

In its latest survey of the nation's jail populations, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that 665,475 people were being held in local lock-ups as of June 30, 2002. Of that number, 156,000 were doing time for drug crimes, an increase of 37% since 1996. According to BJS, drug offenders "represent the largest source of jail population growth." Some 13% of jailed drug offenders, or about 20,000 people, had no previous criminal record and were facing drug charges for the first time.

But it was a dramatic increase in the number of people doing jail time for drug sales that drove the increase in drug offenders. Some 76,400 people were doing time for drug sales, up from 47,700 in 1996. According to BJS, about two-thirds of the increase in jailed drug offenders was due to the increase in the number of people jailed for trafficking.

The report also found that more than half of jail inmates were on probation, parole or pre-trial release at the time of their arrests. About 18% of all jail inmates were being held for parole or probation violations, while 28% were being held simply because they could not make bail pending trial.

While 41% of jail inmates had a current or prior violent offense, 46% were nonviolent repeat offenders and, as noted above, 13% first-time drug offenders. Nearly one-quarter of all jail inmates had been locked up three or more times before, the report found.

The BJS report also found heavy drug involvement by people who ended up in jail. According to the report, two-thirds of 2002 jail inmates said they were regular drug users, with more than half reporting use within the last month. Almost one-third said they were using drugs at the time of their offense, and slightly more than one-third said they were using alcohol.

The percentage of women inmates jumped from 10% to 12% of the total jail population. About 30% of them were doing time on drug charges, a higher rate than among the male population.

More than 60% of jail inmates were non-white, with blacks making up 40% of those jailed, whites 36%, and non-white Hispanics 19%. Two percent were Asian or American Indian, while 3% claimed a multicultural heritage.

The BJS special report, "Profile of Jail Inmates, 2002," and associated documents are available at online.

6. Newsbrief: Congress, Justice Department Seek Quick Hearing on Federal Sentencing Guidelines Chaos

Both the Congress and the Department of Justice moved this week to seek an expedited hearing from the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the federal sentencing guidelines. The federal criminal justice system has been in a state of chaos since the Supreme Court ruled late last month that Washington's state's sentencing guideline system was unconstitutional.

Although that ruling did not directly address the federal guidelines, federal judges in districts across the country have read it as implicitly applying to the federal guidelines and ruled them unconstitutional. Some judges have dramatically cut sentences and others have postponed sentencing pending clarification, while the Justice Department has begun urging federal prosecutors to rewrite indictments and to seek waivers from defendants where they would promise not to seek sentencing relief based on the Supreme Court decision.

In Blakely v. Washington, the Supreme Court held that any factor that increases a sentence beyond the maximum allowed by law must be proven before a jury. The practice in the federal courts since 1987 has been for judges to make findings of fact on factors that could increase sentences, such as the amount of a drug involved in an offense or whether a gun was used in the commission of a crime. As a result of Blakely and the earlier ruling on which it was based, the Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, more than 200,000 federal sentences handed down since Apprendi are now potentially subject to appeal.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the matter, and this week the Senate passed by unanimous consent a resolution asking the Supreme Court to quickly resolve questions over the constitutionality of the sentencing guidelines. The House was expected to pass a similar resolution late this week. According to the Wall Street Journal, committee head Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was considering legislative remedies, but held off after committee witnesses warned of the dangers of a quick fix.

Congressional resolutions have no weight with the Supreme Court except to indicate how concerned legislators are, but the Justice Department's request Wednesday for an expedited hearing on two Blakely-related cases is more likely to result in quick action. Justice sent the pair of petitions to the Supreme Court seeking a September 13 hearing for oral arguments so the court could decide the issue at the beginning of its October term.

Appropriately enough, the two cases Justice wants the Supreme Court to review are drug cases. Both Duncan Fanfan of Massachusetts and Freddie Booker of Wisconsin were sentenced to lesser terms by judges who ruled that the Blakely decision limited their ability to impose longer sentences based on facts not heard by a jury.

A quick review is necessary to avoid "an impending crisis in the administration of criminal justice in the federal courts," wrote Solicitor General Paul Clement. "Even several weeks of delay would result in additional hardship" for courts and defendants, Clements wrote, although it is federal prosecutors and fans of ungodly long prison sentences who appear to have the most to lose.

The Supreme Court rarely hears cases on an expedited basis, but it did so last year with the campaign finance law. And now, all three branches of the federal government have weighted in seeking quick review on the sentencing fracas. The Supreme Court has now given defense attorneys two weeks to respond to the Justice Department filings, which is a pretty strong sign it will accept the cases for an expedited ruling.

7. Newsbrief: Researchers Sue DEA, NIDA for Blocking Medical Marijuana Research

In a pair of lawsuits filed Wednesday, researchers accused the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of violating federal law in blocking research on medical marijuana. They were joined as plaintiffs in the cases by Valerie Corral, cofounder of the Wo/Men/s Alliance for Medical Marijuana ( in Santa Cruz, California, a medical marijuana patient.

The lawsuits stem from the federal government's refusal to act on one application for a research facility for medical marijuana that has been pending for three years and to allow researchers seeking to study vaporization to obtain marijuana for their research. Dr. Lyle Craker, director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, filed an application with DEA to approve a facility that would produce marijuana for US Food and Drug Administration-approved research. Despite the support of home-state Sens. John Kerry (D) and Edward Kennedy (D), DEA has not responded.

The DEA's inaction violates the federal Administrative Procedures Act, charged the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (, which would sponsor the facility.

"We first filed our application with the DEA on June 25, 2001," Craker explained. "After three years of waiting and repeated delays, we still don't have an answer. There is an urgent need for an alternative supply of marijuana for medical research," he said. "Independent sources are allowed to produce other Schedule I drugs -- including MDMA (ecstasy) -- for research, but NIDA maintains a monopoly on research marijuana. Many researchers believe that NIDA's monopoly is an obstacle to getting needed studies done on a timely basis."

NIDA has refused to supply marijuana for at least two FDA-approved research studies, said the lawsuit against the DEA. Thus, the naming of NIDA as a respondent.

MAPS also charges the DEA with blocking efforts to obtain 10 grams of marijuana for a study of vaporizer technology, which could reduce or eliminate smoking-related hazards of marijuana use. MAPS sought to import 10 grams from the Dutch Office of Medical Cannabis on June 24, 2003, but the DEA has refused to act. NIDA has also refused to supply material from its Mississippi pot farm.

"We should welcome, rather than feel threatened by, scientific research into the medical uses of marijuana," said Dr. Barbara Roberts, former senior policy analyst and acting deputy director for demand reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who left in September 2003 after serving for 10 years. "DEA licensing of the UMass Amherst facility, importation, and timely reviews by HHS of protocols are solutions, not problems."

"This litigation is necessary because of the federal government's obstructionism regarding medical marijuana research," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, which, along with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has supported this legal effort. "The government regularly claims that if marijuana were really medicine, it would already have been approved by the FDA, and that more research is needed, yet they have not only failed to support medical research, they've actively obstructed it."

Read the complaints at and online.

8. Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week terminated a bill passed by both houses of the legislature that would have removed quantity limits on medical marijuana patients in the state. Sponsored by retiring Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), SB 1494 would have allowed patients to possess any quantity of marijuana deemed necessary to meet their medical needs. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill on Monday.

SB 1494 was the latest effort to fix continuing problems with the state's medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 1996. Currently, local governments set quantity limits, with the result that patients face widely varying quantity rules depending on where in California they live.

The bill was supported by the California Medical Association and the California Nurses Association. Social conservative groups, such as the Traditional Values Coalition and one we haven't heard of before called the Capital Resources Group opposed it, arguing that "the bill is the latest attempt to legalize dangerous and destructive illegal narcotics."

Gov. Schwarzenegger has previously spoken out in favor of medical marijuana, but he said he vetoed this measure because it would make marijuana law enforcement more difficult. "Reasonable and established quantity guidelines allow medicinal marijuana patients to seek relief from symptoms free from legal questions and permit law enforcement to carry out the law," Schwarzenegger wrote in a note to the State Senate explaining his veto. "Enactment of this bill would create uncertainty in this area of the law, thereby making it more difficult for law enforcement to determine when a person was in possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes."

9. Newsbrief: Singapore Executes Man for Six Pounds of Marijuana

According to local news reports picked up by Deutsch Presse Agentur, authorities in Singapore executed a man Monday after he was convicted of storing 2.7 kilograms (slightly more than six pounds) of marijuana at his apartment. Raman Selvam Renganathan, 39, was hung at Changi Prison. He was found guilty of drug trafficking after an eight-day trial last September.

Another man arrested in the same case, Dhanabalan Gopalkrishnan, 33, awaits sentencing. Dhanablan in turn named Rama Selvam as the mastermind. Oddly enough, Selvam didn't get the death penalty; instead he was sentenced to 20 years and 24 lashes.

Under Singapore law, anyone possessing more than a half ounce of heroin or a little more than a pound of marijuana is presumed to be a drug trafficker. The only penalty available for drug trafficking is death by hanging.

In a January report, Amnesty International harshly criticized Singapore for its use of the death penalty. In that report, Amnesty noted that of 408 executions reported by Singapore since 1991, 252 were for drug offenses. The actual number executed for drug offenses is higher, said Amnesty, because for the last three years the Singapore government has released only the total number of executions and has refused to say who was executed for what (

"Many of those executed have been migrant workers, drug addicts, the impoverished or those lacking in education," Amnesty said in the January report. "Drug addicts are particularly vulnerable. Many were hanged after being found in possession of relatively small quantities of drugs. Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act contains several clauses which conflict with the universally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and provides for a mandatory death sentence for at least 20 different drug-related offenses. For instance, any person found in possession of the key to anything containing controlled drugs is presumed guilty of possessing those drugs and, if the amount exceeds a specified amount, faces a mandatory death penalty for "trafficking".

"Such provisions erode the right to a fair trial and increase the risk of executing the innocent," Amnesty stressed. "Moreover, it is often the drug addicts or minor drug pushers who are hanged, while those who mastermind the crime of trafficking evade arrest and punishment."

The Singapore government defended its policy. "By protecting Singaporeans from drugs, we are protecting their human rights," Inderjit Singh, a member of parliament, told the Associated Press. "The rule breakers have to be dealt with -- it's the same in any part of the world," said Singh, who is also president of a chip-making company. "We just do it differently."

10. Newsbrief: China Defends Executing Drug Offenders

In the wake of criticism following its customary celebration of UN International Anti-Drugs Day by executing dozens of drug offenders, the Chinese government has defended its frequent use of the death penalty against traffickers as it cracks down on drug use. A top Chinese anti-drug official said the executions were both popular and necessary, the Associated Press reported.

"The Chinese masses applaud giving the death penalty to drug traffickers," said Yang Fengrui, deputy secretary general of the National Narcotics Control Commission. "Drug trafficking has severe social consequences. It's equal to killing people." While the government hopes to "rehabilitate" drug users so they can "return to society," Yang elaborated, it is fully prepared to enact "severe punishment" for criminals.

With more than a million registered drug addicts -- and who knows how many unregistered ones -- the number of Chinese drug users is on the increase. But to be transformed from mere user to "trafficker" eligible for the death penalty requires only possession of five kilos of cannabis resin, one kilo of heroin, or less than two ounces of cocaine.

According to the Associated Press, China executed 28 people on drug charges on International Anti-Drugs Day alone. As DRCNet reported three weeks ago (, Chinese authorities had spent the whole week before Anti-Drug Day executing dozens, and perhaps hundreds, more.

In a report issued by Amnesty International just before Anti-Drugs Day last month, the human rights organization said "more than 50 people were executed on drug-related charges in just eight of China's 23 provinces in the single week leading up to Anti-Drugs Day last year. The total number across China is likely to have been in the hundreds."

Amnesty International is calling on the Chinese government to halt these executions and to review all future use of the death penalty. "In the week leading up to 26 June, UN Anti-Drugs Day and government measures to tackle drug crime are publicized in the Chinese media. Despite this extra reporting of death sentences, drug-related crime, drug use, and amounts of drugs seized by customs are all at a high level or actually rising in China. This reality seriously undermines official claims that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against drug crime in China."

11. Newsbrief: Brazil to Start Shooting Down Drug Planes

President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva signed a law Monday that will allow Brazil to shoot down aircraft smuggling drugs across its borders. The controversial law was passed by the Brazilian Senate six years ago, but had languished awaiting a presidential signatures. It will go into effect in 90 days.

Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Viegas told Reuters such a law was necessary to prevent smugglers from flying drugs through or to Brazil. Although not a major drug producer, except for marijuana, most of which is destined for the domestic market, Brazil is the world's number two cocaine consumer, behind the United States. The trade in cocaine has helped fuel the rise of violent drug gangs, or "commands" who dominate large areas of the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

According to Viegas, more than 4,000 unregistered small aircraft are flying over the Amazon rain forest, an area larger than the continental United States.

Under the law, Brazilian fighter pilots would shoot down suspected drug trafficking planes only as a "last resort" after a series of steps had already been taken. The fighters would shoot at planes only if they refused to identify themselves, failed to respond to warning shots, and refused to land, at which point they would be "considered hostile and subject to destruction," the law says. Planes would not be shot down over population centers and only over "routes presumably used by drug traffickers."

The notion of shooting down unarmed civilian aircraft was never popular in Brazil, and the killing of American missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant child in 2001 when their plane was shot down over the Amazon by the Peruvian Air Force working with US CIA spotters, made the matter a dead letter for several years ( But now, even though US-sponsored shoot down programs remain on hold, Lula has signed the bill into law. Ironically, according to Reuters, the US State Department has warned Brazil that anti-drug assistance could be jeopardized if Brazil does not follow adequate safety precautions to ensure innocent planes aren't shot down. The US currently shares with Brazil information about the departures and courses of suspect planes.

12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

It's an embarrassment of riches this week, with examples of corruption ranging from the opportunistic and banal to the systematic and fatal. Let's just start at the bottom and work our way down -- while also remembering the presumption of innocence for those merely charged and not yet convicted of a crime:

Forsythe County, Georgia, sheriff candidate Gary Allen Beebe, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, was arrested by FBI agents July 13 on charges he promised contracts and political favors -- including ignoring crimes -- to supporters if elected. Among Beebe's promises recorded by government informants was an offer to give "permission to rob known drug dealers in Forsyth County that have eluded law enforcement without threat of prosecution," according to a complaint filed by federal agents.

In more than two hours of audio and video tapes made public by the US Attorney's office on CD and DVD, Beebe also offered to treat a proposed murder by a supporter as "an unsolved murder." But most of Beebe's bribes had to do with more mundane matters, such as contracts for bail bonds companies, towing companies, and county jail concessionaires. At one meeting, the FBI informant, someone in the adult entertainment industry, handed Beebe a stack of cash. As, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported: Beebe smiled, looked around and said, "Okay. Got any cameras in here?" The informant responded: "Oh yeah, I got 'em all over the property. Don't worry about it."

In Birmingham, Alabama, former Lauderdale County Drug Task Force director David Scogin was arraigned on federal fraud and extortion charges July 15. In a 10-count indictment, he stands accused of taking money and vehicles from drug suspects in exchange for dropping charges against them. According to sources cited by the Florence Times Daily, the booty was supposedly to be turned over to the task force, but 14 vehicles and more than $40,000 in cash remain unaccounted for. He is also charging with ripping off his informants by forging their signatures on reimbursement forms and only paying them a fraction of their blood money.

Most counts of the indictment describe Scogin seizing cash or vehicles from parties identified only by their initials between 2000 and 2003. Three counts come from allegedly lying to the FBI as it was called in by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Count seven is illustrative of Scogin at work. He told the FBI an individual wanted to donate a vehicle to the drug task force because he had "done such a good job in the battle against drugs." But the FBI found that the person in question had really paid Scogin $5,000 in cash after Scogins found a small quantity of marijuana at his home. Scogin turned in half of it and pocketed the rest. The pay-off was a "necessary condition" for Scogin's help in making any charges go away.

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, a local couple has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Muskogee County District Attorney John David Luton, his chief investigator Gary Sturm, and several members of the District Attorney's Drug Task Force, alleging retaliation and harassment for reporting apparent corrupt practices. Luton had been the subject of scathing report from the state auditor's office last August regarding his forfeiture practices, and it was those practices that are at the root of this lawsuit.

Kimm Bushey is an auto mechanic, while his wife, Ruth, was employed by the district attorney's office. According to their lawsuit, Ruth Bushey reported to Sturm that her husband had noticed parts taken from vehicles seized by the District Attorney's Drug Task Force and installed on other vehicles. But instead of investigating the allegation, Sturm and the task force used a methamphetamine search warrant at one address to raid a garage containing Kimm Bushey's tools at another address. The tools, valued at $5,000, were improperly seized and ordered returned by the Muskogee County District Court, but never were. Luton admitted to the court that some of them had already been auctioned off.

But that wasn't all, the suit complains. Luton, Sturm, and task force members defamed Kimm Bushey by claiming he was a meth cook, threatened witnesses, and drove Ruth Bussey from her job at the district attorney's office. The intimidating behavior continues to the present, the lawsuit alleges, with unwarranted traffic stops and harassing questioning of the couple's teenage son.

The couple's attorney, Robert Haupt, said Muskogee county law enforcement thought it was a law unto itself. "This is a situation where we have law enforcement officers just out of control, and that is what this lawsuit is going to be about," he told the Oklahoma City newspaper the Oklahoman. And since a story about the case ran in a local newspaper, he added, he had received dozens of phone calls from local residents with similar stories or worse.

Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the target of a federal civil suit filed by a Roanoke, Virginia, car dealer who claims the agency is unfairly targeting him. Bill Kennedy, a luxury car dealer, has had four cars seized as part of Roanoke drug investigations, and he filed suit last week to get them back.

The suit names Kenny Garrett, a DEA task force office in Roanoke, who, Kennedy swore in an affidavit, accused him of knowingly selling cars to drug dealers and threatened to go after him personally. "I have news for you, I'm going to pick up every car you own in Roanoke," Garrett allegedly said.

Kennedy told the Roanoke Times he believes he was targeted by the DEA after repossessing a high-end luxury car purchased by a Roanoke man. The man became so angry, he threatened to tell the DEA Kennedy sold cars to drug dealers, Kennedy said. Since that time, he has repeatedly been approached by men wanting him to launder money, but who expressed no interest in buying cars.

DEA agent Garrett denies he is targeting or harassing Kennedy. But when asked by the Times whether he was investigating Kennedy, he replied, "I can't comment on ongoing investigations."

And in a particularly nasty episode, in El Paso, Texas, four US Customs special agents are being investigated over allegations their "close relationship" with an informant led them to ignore agency requirements to warn people they found during their investigation could be in danger. The informant in question, nicknamed "Lalo," is believed to be a high-ranking member of Mexico's Juarez cartel, and, according to the Dallas Morning Herald, was involved in a number of slayings in Ciudad Juarez while under the supervision of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Some of those slayings took place while ICE agents listened over an open cell phone line, the paper reported. At least one of the victims was a US citizen, Luís Padilla-Cardona, from the nearby town of Socorro, Texas.

Ten months after ICE first knew "Lalo" had killed someone, an ICE investigator reminded the agency that "during the course of criminal investigations, threats to life or serious bodily injury to individuals, as well as threats to occupied structures and conveyance can become known to agents." In such cases, "reasonable action must be taken to attempt to protect the individual or structure in question." As in the present case, failure to do so can get people killed. Or worse yet, wrote the investigator, it can result "in a Federal Tort Claims Act suit against the agency and the individual agents involved."

The case has wracked the agency since the Morning News first broke the story in March, with two ICE group supervisors transferred to Washington in June and four special agents, Raul Bencomo, Todd Johnson, David Ortíz and Luís Rico facing questioning by the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility. It is likely to be the subject of a Senate committee hearing today, the Morning News reported. Lawsuits from the victims' families are in the works, the newspaper reported.

According to the Morning Herald, US law enforcement officials describe the case as one of the worst examples of government misconduct they have seen. "I am embarrassed and disgusted that I am part of an agency that allowed this to happen," said one current agent who requested anonymity.

13. Job Opportunity: Internet Advertising Sales at

The soon-to-be-launched, a web site that will follow the drug and drug war economies, is seeking a creative and motivated individual for Internet advertising sales.

Candidates must have experience with Internet marketing and e-commerce, as well as revenue sharing and affiliation programs.

Candidates must be able to cultivate solid working relationships with advertisers. Ability to negotiate, prioritize, and manage time effectively essential. Proven ability to generate leads, analyze advertiser's objective, and close deals appropriately. Must be results- and detail- oriented.

Network of contacts in global industries helpful. Knowledge of economics and global markets and trends a plus.

Must have a positive, up-beat attitude and be willing to perform above and beyond the call of duty.

Please send cover letter, salary and commission requirements, and resume to [email protected]. Text only, attachments will not be considered. Deadline is August 1, 2004.

14. The Reformer's Calendar

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

July 23-25, Boston, MA, drug policy reform groups participating in the Boston Social Forum. For further information, visit and follow the criminal justice and domestic repression links.

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 4, Toronto, Canada, "Oh, Cannabis: A Medical Marijuana Comedy Show Extravaganja," benefit for the Toronto Compassion Centre, featuring Mike Wilmot and others. At Yuk Yuk's, 224 Richmond St. W., contact Howard Dover at (323) 253-3472 or [email protected] or visit for further information.

August 7, from Binghamton to Ithaca, NY, for information visit or e-mail [email protected].

August 17, 7:00pm, New York, NY, "The Marijuana-Logues" three-man comedy show. Benefit performance for NORML, at The Actors' Playhouse, 100 Seventh Ave. South, admission $50. Visit for further info.

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.

October 1-3, London, England, London Hemp Fair, 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.

November 18-21, College Park, MD, Students for Sensible Drug Policy national conference. Details to be announced, visit to check for updates.

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