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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #352, 9/3/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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  1. Editorial: Back Home in Indiana
  2. In Indiana, Gubernatorial Candidates' College Marijuana Use Provides Opening for Discussion of Higher Education Act Drug Provision
  3. Outgoing New Jersey Governor Calls for Needle Access Legislation
  4. Kentucky's New Drug Strategy: More of the Same, Plus a Drug Czar
  5. Montana Moving Toward Appointing a Drug Czar?
  6. Newsbrief: Alaska Supreme Court Restricts Marijuana Search Warrants
  7. Newsbrief: European Drug Reformers Seek More Dialogue with European Union, Funding for Permanent Dialogue
  8. Newsbrief: House Speaker Dennis Hastert Defames Drug Reform Funder Soros, New Jersey DA Joins Smear Campaign
  9. Newsbrief: Human Rights Watch Calls on Schwarzenneger to Sign Needle Access Bills
  10. Newsbrief: Marijuana Policy Ads Return to DC Following Court Victory
  11. Newsbrief: Safe Crack-Smoking Kits Distributed in Winnipeg
  12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  13. Ninety-nine Percent of All Marijuana Eradicated in US is Feral Hemp, Federal Data Reveals
  14. This Week in History
  15. The Reformer's Calendar
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: Back Home in Indiana

David Borden
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

Marijuana has reared its head in politics once again, this time in the conservative midwestern state of Indiana. Mitch Daniels, former director of the Office of Management and Budget for George W. Bush, now back in Indiana as the Republican challenger for governor, has acknowledged incurring a marijuana-related conviction while studying at Princeton in 1970, while incumbent Democratic governor Joe Kernan has admitted to having smoked the plant, a few times at least, in his twenties.

The revelations have led to a discussion in the state's media of the drug provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA), a law written by an Indiana congressman that takes financial aid away from students because of drug convictions. Should today's young people who lack the personal financial resources of members of the elite like Daniels and Kernan, and who have already been punished once through the criminal justice system, be forced out of school and potentially see their careers derailed -- for doing something that Daniels and Kernan and millions of other people did in their youths as well? Should anyone be punished for using drugs, if they don't violate the rights or safety of others in the process?

Neither candidate has come through the episode unblemished. Not because of their past conduct -- 34 years is long enough for most voters to forgive and forget, regardless of how they feel about marijuana or other drug use. Kernan takes a hit from this because it was his campaign that brought up Daniels' decades-old minor college incident in the first place; yet it took reporters' questions to elicit an admission of his own marijuana past. Hopefully the fact of past marijuana use and even a conviction will be a short-lived angle that impacts the campaigns not at all.

Daniels is stained by the hypocrisy angle; his response to inquiries about the HEA drug provision was that he is for consequences. Never mind that he is consigning young people of today to suffer consequences he did not have to live through himself, and which he probably would be in a position avoid if it happened with the law in place today. Kernan's response was better in that regard, in that it at least hinted he might be supportive of repeal. But it did so only vaguely, with plenty of room to wriggle out if it's politically expedient.

Both of these politicians should address this law head-on, and there are only two responses they can provide that take responsibility and make sense. One is that it is a bad law that should be repealed. The other is that they, having indulged in their own pasts, deserved to be forced out of school for it -- and that if they had, it's unlikely they would have ascended to the heights of political leadership they've since attained. And if the latter, they should further conclude that Indiana and the nation would have been better off if that is what had happened. After all, if it's a good law now for the poor and middle class, a law that makes the United States a better place, then it was a good idea then too, even for the privileged.

What drug was used by whom long ago, and who got caught for it, is not an important political question. How politicians design the law to deal with other people, for having done the same things they did, that is very important. That is a question about both policy and character. Daniels and Kernan haven't gotten off to stellar beginnings on this, but there is still time. We'll see what happens.

2. In Indiana, Gubernatorial Candidates' College Marijuana Use Provides Opening for Discussion of Higher Education Act Drug Provision

The Indiana gubernatorial campaign between incumbent Democrat Joe Kernan and Republican challenger, former Bush administration head of the Office of Management and Budget Mitch Daniels, is tight and heated. But when Democrats in mid-August tried to raise questions about Daniels' long-acknowledged marijuana-related arrest in 1970, it backfired.

As a Princeton University student, young Daniels had gone down in a dorm bust, originally charged with possession of marijuana, LSD, and other drugs and "allowing the sale or use of drugs." He eventually pled guilty to a disorderly person charge for smoking pot and was fined $350.

Not surprisingly, as soon as Democrats began shopping old news clippings about the bust around to different media, an intrepid Associated Press reporter asked the Kernan camp the obvious follow-up question: What about the governor? Had he ever smoked pot? Well, yes, said Kernan campaign spokeswoman Tina Noel. But only "a few times in his younger days," she told the AP then, and used precisely the same language in an interview with DRCNet Wednesday.

The Kernan camp has been criticized for bringing up a 34-year old minor marijuana bust from Daniels' college days, and it is likely to have been a short-lived campaign strategy. But while the pot issue has been a draw between Kernan and Daniels, proponents of repealing a law that bars students with drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid have found an opening.

Sponsored by a US representative from northeastern Indiana, Republican Rep. Mark Souder, the Higher Education Act's (HEA) anti-drug provision is the target of the Coalition for HEA Reform (, a wide array of education, civil rights, religious, drug policy reform and other organizations recruited by DRCNet to seek its repeal. While Rep. Souder now says he supports reforming the provision to apply only to students convicted of drug charges while in college, that is not how the law is currently being read by the Department of Education, which administers it. But for CHEAR, partial reform is not enough. It has lobbied for the past six years for a bill sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that would repeal the HEA drug provision outright and which had 69 cosponsors at publishing time.

With both gubernatorial candidates having admitted to marijuana use during their youths, and one having actually been busted for it during college (when a conviction if charged as a drug offense would trigger loss of federal aid even with passage of Souder's reform), CHEAR last week issued a press release calling on both to call on Congress to repeal the HEA drug provision. That press release became the basis for a news story and a scathing op-ed opposing the anti-drug provision in the Indiana University newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, and another story in the Indianapolis alternative weekly NUVO featuring quotes from CHEAR outreach coordinator Scott Ehlers. Most prominent of all, a column in the state's largest newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, by columnist Dan Carpenter, ripped into the fundamentals of prohibition, citing the loss of financial aid for student pot-smokers as a prime example of its cruel silliness.

"I think this story has legs," Ehlers told DRCNet. "There is a national angle, with Mitch Daniels being Bush's former director of OMB, and there is a local angle with this happening in Souder's home state. And now the candidates are having to address the issue. We want whoever is governor to tell Souder to change his position."

While neither candidate is stepping up yet, both are having to deal with the issue. "He has been asked about the HEA anti-drug provision," said Daniels campaign spokesperson Ellen Witt. "What he said is that he believes in rules and limits and consequences when taxpayers are providing aid and when the conditions are clear and known in advance," she told DRCNet.

Putting a very fine point on things, Witt emphasized that Daniels was not actually convicted on a marijuana charge, and that he attended Princeton on an academic scholarship and was not receiving federal financial aid.

While Daniels is apparently willing to let other students suffer a fate that his favorable circumstances would allow him to avoid, Gov. Kernan seems to be creeping slowly toward calling for change. "He has not taken a position on HEA," campaign spokesperson Tina Noel told DRCNet. "But generally he is opposed to any effort to close options for higher education for Americans."

"Those are encouraging words," responded CHEAR's Ehlers," and we would like to see Gov. Kernan endorse full repeal of the HEA drug provision to ensure that students with minor drug convictions can go to college as well."

And the campaign to repeal the HEA anti-drug provision worms its way into the Indiana gubernatorial campaign.

Read the recent Indiana HEA coverage at:

3. Outgoing New Jersey Governor Calls for Needle Access Legislation

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D), who will leave office November 15 after tendering his resignation amidst personal scandal, has called on legislative leaders and Health Commissioner Clifton Lacy to craft legislation that would allow the operation of needle exchange programs (NEPs) in the Garden State. He is also calling for companion legislation that would allow injection drug users to purchase syringes without a prescription.

Numerous studies have shown NEPs and easier access to syringes to significantly reduce the spread of HIV and other infectious blood-borne diseases. New Jersey is one of only two states that allow neither NEPs nor syringe purchases without a prescription.

Although spokespersons for both McGreevey and Lacy told DRCNet that the impression is incorrect, McGreevey had previously been viewed as favoring NEPs only in a hospital setting. While Health Commissioner Lacy and legislators met for the first time Tuesday to begin crafting draft legislation, it remains unclear at this time what those bills will actually look like.

"The governor has always supported needle exchange programs as long as they were in the right health environment," said McGreevey spokeswoman Juliet Johnson. "At this point, given that he is leaving office soon, good politics is not a consideration; good policy is the only concern," she told DRCNet. "We are very confident we can get it done," she said.

Donna Leusner, press secretary for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, told DRCNet McGreevey's push for needle exchange legislation does not mark a departure from his previous position. "Commissioner Lacy and the governor have the same position and have had the same position," Leusner said. "I think there is some misunderstanding of what the governor meant with the hospitals. The governor's position and Commissioner Lacy's position is that NEPs should also provide health, mental health and social services -- it doesn't have to be in a hospital building."

As the state's top health official, Lacy met Tuesday with legislative leaders interested in advancing the issue, including state Sen. Nia Gill (D), Sen. Joseph Vitale, and Assembly Speaker Rep. Joseph Roberts Jr., to begin crafting draft legislation. According to Leusner, Lacy and McGreevey want to get legislation moving on a fast track, especially since McGreevey leaves office mid-November. "This is one of the governor's priority health initiatives, and we are hoping for a concrete draft by the end of next week," she said. "Commissioner Lacy has said he hopes the legislation would be drafted and would move through the legislature and be on the governor's desk before his tenure ends November 15," she explained.

"There is convincing evidence that these programs work," said Leusner. "NEPs are a very effective means of reducing the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases."

"We are encouraged," said Drug Policy Alliance ( New Jersey Drug Policy Project head Roseanne Scotti, who has played a key role in bringing this issue back into play this year. "We are looking for a decent bill and we will work to get it this year. We have a governor who says he is willing to sign such a bill, and it would be good if we could get it done before he left. Assembly Speaker Roberts has said he wants to do this early on, and if he can get legislation before committees and on to a floor vote, it could happen. Sen. Nia Gill is spearheading this in the Senate, and she has met with Roberts. But we only have a little more than two months."

Scotti remained a bit skeptical, however, about what legislation will eventually emerge. "We couldn't support a bill that only gives us hospital-based NEPs," said Scotti. "Whenever that has been tried, it has failed. What we are hoping for is a bill that will allow municipalities to go ahead with their own programs. NEPs can have a significant public health impact if the legislation is broad enough to allow real syringe access."

NEPs have long been a controversial issue in New Jersey. Nearly a decade ago, Gov. Christie Whitman (R) rejected her own AIDS advisory committee's recommendation to support NEPs. Whitman said at the time that giving clean needles to drug users was tantamount to condoning drug use. When campaigning for governor in 2001, McGreevey said he would support a pilot project for an NEP linked to a hospital, but that never happened.

The issue heated up again earlier this year when, thanks to a close reading of New Jersey law by DPA's Scotti. While state law does not explicitly allow for NEPs, Scotti found a recent revision of the criminal code that appears to provide an opening. City officials in Atlantic City and Camden, both hard hit by injection drug use-related HIV and Hepatitis C cases, voted to go ahead and pass ordinances authorizing municipal NEPs despite opinions from local prosecutors and the state attorney general that NEPs remained illegal.

The battle ended up in court, and Superior Court Judge H. Valerie Armstrong ruled Wednesday that the Atlantic City NEP ordinance, which authorized the city health department to distribute syringes, was invalid. In her ruling, Armstrong said that municipalities lack the legal authority to institute such programs. As a result, a similar ordinance in Camden is now also in doubt.

Wednesday's decision prompted Assembly Majority Leader Roberts to tell the Newark Star-Ledger that the ruling "is the most recent indicator that the Legislature needs to confront the issue of syringe exchange in New Jersey. People -- innocent babies -- are dying."

"Roberts is the person who has really pushed the envelope on this," said Scotti. "After Camden passed its ordinance, city officials there reached out to him and said they wanted to work with him in dealing with this terrible public health crisis. I took him up to Prevention Point in Philadelphia and to NEPs in New York City, and he even checked out NEPs in Boston during the Democratic convention. Now, he is helping to push this through."

Now, the clock is ticking on McGreevey's tenure. More meetings between Health Commissioner Lacy and legislative leaders are set for next week, and the administration hopes to have legislation ready by the end of next week.

"Getting needle exchange and needle access bills passed and signed would be a fine legacy for the governor," said Scotti.

4. Kentucky's New Drug Strategy: More of the Same, Plus a Drug Czar

After months of meetings among law enforcement officials, public health officials, and treatment and prevention specialists, the state of Kentucky unveiled the outlines of its new drug strategy last week. While there is much talk of new efficiencies in treatment and prevention and rationalizing existing drug policy, there is little in the new Kentucky drug strategy that will bring cheer to drug reformers. Experts and activists who spoke with DRCNet about the new drug strategy suggested that it suffered from lack of inclusion, especially of the subjects of the policy -- drug users -- and from a lack of imagination.

In a 480-page report issued August 26, the Kentucky Drug Summit, as the process of creating a new drug strategy is known, called for a number of recommendations for immediate executive action, including:

  • Treat substance abuse "as if" it were an epidemic. (Oddly enough, your reporter has scanned all 480 pages and has been unable to find actual figures on drug use levels in the Bluegrass State.)
  • Create an Office of Drug Control Policy "responsible for the coordination of all substance abuse policy."
  • Create a Working Group to make the transition from the Kentucky Drug Summit to the Office of Drug Control Policy.
The summit also included a number of recommendations for items to be considered for inclusion in the new drug strategy, including:
  • Create a Coordinated Prosecution Campaign to assist local prosecutors and bring state resources to bear at the local level.
  • Set standards for drug enforcement task forces in the state.
  • Promote drug treatment over incarceration.
  • Obtain more funding for drug treatment within the prison system.
  • Create more drug courts.
  • Pay for it all by raising the cigarette tax to $0.09 per pack from its current level of $ 0.03.
The organization of the Kentucky Drug Summit was tripartite, with special committees on law enforcement, prevention, and treatment. Harm reduction, the fourth pillar of drug policy in progressive cities such as Frankfort or Vancouver, was not mentioned. The Summit was also marked by a heavy law enforcement presence on the panels. While a police presence is naturally to be expected on a law enforcement committee, police, parole, or corrections officials also took up 4 of 14 seats on the treatment committee and 5 of 18 seats on the prevention committee. No drug users were invited to participate.

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher has already begun moving on the Summit recommendations. At an August 26 press conference, Gov. Fletcher announced he was creating a new Office of Drug Control and named Sylvia Lovely, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, as temporary head of the office. Fletcher said he was appointing Lovely, who has no experience in drug policy, because the first task of the new Office of Drug Control is essentially bureaucratic reorganization.

"It's probably best at this point not to have somebody with an expertise, perhaps, in drug and substance abuse policy, which I'm not an expert in that area," Lovely said, "but really someone who can help coordinate substance abuse agencies and problems."

And Fletcher was right on-message from the get-go, getting the word "epidemic" out before the public from the beginning. "What has been done in this state to address this issue in the past has not produced the necessary results," Fletcher said. "It is not enough for us to be tough on the substance abuse problem. We must become effective. We have to realize that this is greater than a law enforcement problem," Fletcher said. "We're going to treat it like an epidemic with an effective method of enforcement, treatment and education. This is the beginning, I think, of one of the most progressive initiatives to fight drugs in the country," Fletcher said.

Some begged to differ. "In terms of structure and approach, this looks like the mirror image of what they are doing in Washington with the Office of National Drug Control Policy," said Thomas Nicholson, professor of public health at the University of Western Kentucky, who has published extensively on public health and drug policy. "They are just repeating the same old drug war mantra," he told DRCNet. "They talk about treatment, and they try to gloss it up and make it look like something new, but the drug war just keeps going."

They did things a bit differently in Vancouver, British Columbia, when that city crafted its drug strategy known as the Four Pillars -- prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and harm reduction -- in 2001. For starters, city officials there specifically included both drug user views and harm reduction practices in the mix from the beginning. "The Four Pillars plan is still unfolding," said Zarina Mulla, social planner for the city's Four Pillar's office. "Part of that is talking to the many diverse communities within the city, and drug users are very much a part of that dialog," she told DRCNet. "We have a very active drug users group, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (, as well as an aboriginal drug users' group, so yes, there has been quite a bit of involvement of drug users in this process," she explained. "We think it is crucial to include the voice of the drug user because they know from experience and they have things to say about which people in the policy field have very little understanding."

The police have come around on harm reduction programs, said Mulla. "We have a safe injection site operating here, and we could not do it without the cooperation of the police. And what is happening is that the police we work with see this is working, and now they are recommending a safe injection site to the people in Victoria [the provincial capital and second largest city] because it makes a lot of sense. It takes addicts off the street, provides them with clean equipment, puts users in touch with social services, reduces overdoses, and generally reduces harm."

So, how do drug users get involved in helping to set policy? "We pretty much forced our way in," laughed Anne Livingston, director of the Vancouver drug user group VANDU. "If we knew there was a meeting going on, we showed up. If there was a neighborhood consultation, we were there. At every opportunity, we would brief our people beforehand on what were the issues and who were the players, then we would go as a group," she told DRCNet. Now organized drug users are some of the most civically involved citizens in Vancouver, said Livingston. "We would show up at meetings, and people would complain that we were there," she said. "Drug users are viewed as criminals and bums; they have terrible social status problems. But eventually those same people who complained came to admire us in a way because we were involved and because we were empowering people. There is a lot of cheap talk about empowerment, but this is the real thing."

"Drug users are seen as bad people," concurred Nicholson. "The state views them as the problem and doesn't want their input, and they don't want to talk about harm reduction. There are lots of things we can do to mitigate the harms of drug abuse and the harms of the drug war, but in the current political environment, both here in Kentucky and in Washington, DC, they don't want to hear it," he said. "For people who are really dependent on drugs, it's a chronic, relapsing disorder, like diabetes," said Nicholson. "It needs to be managed and dealt with, but they want a law enforcement approach. There is no real empathy for people with a substance abuse problem."

"To try to create a drug strategy without involving drug users will only make matters worse," said Livingston. "Part of the reason drug policy is such a mess now is because no one ever thought to talk to drug users. You wouldn't try to set policy on women's issues without inviting women to participate, and you wouldn't meet about black problems without having black people."

DRCNet made repeated attempts to speak with Summit staff assistant David Hobson or Public Information Officer Jamie Neal about including drug users or harm reduction concepts in the drug strategy, but neither responded.

The full 480-page report is available at online.

5. Montana Moving Toward Appointing a Drug Czar?

An interim panel of Montana state legislators voted unanimously on August 27 to recommend appointing a "drug czar" to coordinate drug prevention and treatment programs in the state. The move came just two days after outgoing Gov. Judy Martz (R) convened a conference on methamphetamine, which officials there define as the state's most serious illicit drug of abuse.

The state's current, haphazard policy toward the illicit stimulant, sometimes manufactured in informal home meth labs by users who cannot obtain a reliable supply, is filling Montana's prisons and treatment beds, state officials said during the conference August 25. "This is one of the hottest topics in Montana right now," Gov. Martz told the group of about 30 officials and cabinet members assembled in her reception room. "This affects state government in a broad way."

According to the state corrections department, 85% of women prisoners are in for meth-related offenses, and one Missoula drug treatment facility reported 90% of its beds are taken up by meth-heads, the conference heard.

The vote to create a cabinet-level "drug czar" came in the Montana legislature's joint Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee and was the long-delayed first fruit of a Montana Drug Policy Task Force empanelled by Martz 2½ years ago in January 2002. That task force was heavily stacked toward law enforcement, with members of the criminal justice apparatus holding 10 of its 18 seats and treatment and prevention reps only six seats. One doctor was appointed to that panel, but no members of drug reform organizations or drug user representatives (

"The task force completed its work in 2003," said Sen. Trudi Schmidt (D-Great Falls), from the other side of the aisle. "Appointing a person to oversee the problem statewide was the number one recommendation. But no legislation came of it," she told DRCNet. "We have a pretty significant problem here with meth. Here in Great Falls, people were noticing these meth busts every day, and I eventually carried a resolution from the people I represented to the legislature saying that the state needs to step in here in a more comprehensive way, so yes, this goes back a long way," she said.

The new position will be called the Commissioner of Drug Treatment and Prevention, with Montana legislators recoiling from the "drug czar" handle given the post by the Billings Gazette. "It's not a 'czar,'" said Schmidt, "but this person would be based in the governor's office and would deal with all sorts of state agencies. We have the environment, because of pollution from the labs, we have corrections, health and human services, labor, child welfare, and yes, law enforcement is in the mix. Lots of times social workers are dealing with these people and bringing law enforcement along with them."

The Commissioner post voted for by the interim committee is aimed at coordinating prevention and treatment activities, not law enforcement, said one committee member. "I see this position as a coordination point for all the programs, the treatment centers, the grants," said Rep. Edith Clark (R-Sweetgrass), whose remote, unpopulated district where the plains meet the Rockies borders Canada's Alberta province. "I see it as an information repository. There are treatment and prevention activities going on all over the state, in the communities and in every part of the state government, but we don't have one place to find out what's going on," she told DRCNet.

Under the proposal, the drug czar would be appointed by the governor, but would report to the legislature as well. The czar would be charged with compiling a directory state programs, funds and grants and work on budget proposals for drug prevention and treatment statewide. Something has to be done or the criminal justice system will burst apart at the seams, said Rep. Clark. "We have 10,000 unfilled felony warrants, and 90% are drug-related," she moaned. "Law enforcement has much better tools to do its work, but we want to make their job easier, and that means treatment. Recidivism is so high with this drug, and 60-day treatment programs are not set up for that."

But crafting harsher criminal penalties for meth users isn't the answer, she added. "We've talked about increasing sentences, but what I am hearing is that we need to treat the problem, that imprisonment is not the answer. They just get out again and go right back into the same pattern. We looked at criminalizing the agricultural system, with laws restricting anhydrous ammonia, but you can't penalize a whole industry because there is a criminal element stealing the product they use on their fields."

But while Montana politicians appear to be beginning to move beyond punitive drug policies and toward prevention and treatment, they have yet to consider -- in fact, are barely aware of -- the notion of harm reduction. "I haven't heard of harm reduction," said Sen. Schmidt, sounding intrigued at the notion when it was briefly explained to her. "Well," she considered, "Montana is not exactly known as a progressive state, but we can't keep our hands in the sand."

The proposal must pass the 2005 legislature. If it does, the committee hopes to have someone in the post by next fall.

6. Newsbrief: Alaska Supreme Court Restricts Marijuana Search Warrants

It's getting tougher and tougher for cops in Alaska to bust people for pot. Since the state Court of Appeals last year reaffirmed a 1975 Supreme Court ruling legalizing the possession of marijuana for personal use in one's own home, striking down a 1990 referendum that overturned the earlier decision, police have been unable to arrest people for possession of less than four ounces in their homes. Now, an August 27 Court of Appeals ruling has law enforcement once again wailing and gnashing teeth. In that ruling, the Court of Appeals held that police cannot seek or execute a search warrant for a person's home for marijuana unless there is reason to believe there are more than four ounces of it.

The ruling came in the case of Leo Richardson Crocker Jr., who was charged with "controlled substance misconduct" after police searched his home and found marijuana and grow equipment. A lower court ruled the search warrant should never have been issued because there was no evidence Crocker possessed more than four ounces of marijuana, and the Court of Appeals last week upheld that ruling.

Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the state will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. Renkes is "fearful that this will shut down effective investigation of marijuana growing cases," he said. The decision will hamstring police efforts to go after grow-ops, he added. "It will be rare that there will be someone who can provide eyewitness information to the amount of marijuana in a growing operation," Renkes said. "At this point the only way to get a search warrant is for someone to testify to the size of the crop."

That a search warrant cannot be issued for a legal substance -- less than four ounces of marijuana -- would seem an eminently logical conclusion. But Alaska law enforcement officials remain recalcitrant about obeying the ruling of the state's highest courts on marijuana. Although the state Supreme Court last year clearly held that possession within one's home is legal, Renkes continues to maintain, publicly as well as in arguing court cases, that they didn't really do that. Instead, Renkes claims, the Supreme Court decision merely provided people with an affirmative defense if they were arrested. Since marijuana possession is still a crime, Renkes' argument goes, search warrants can and should be issued for possession of any amount.

The Court of Appeals wasn't buying. "We addressed and rejected this same argument in our opinion on rehearing in Noy [last year's Court of Appeals ruling]: Ravin [the 1975 Supreme Court decision] did not create an affirmative defense that defendants might raise, on a case-by-case basis, when they were prosecuted for possessing marijuana in their home for personal use," the Court of Appeals opinion said. "The Alaska Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently characterized the Ravin decision as announcing a constitutional limitation on the government's authority to enact legislation prohibiting the possession of marijuana in the privacy of ones home. Accordingly, we reject the State's suggestion that Ravin left Alaska's marijuana statutes intact..."

So, at least for now, the people of Alaska are secure in their homes and possessions from search warrants based on the possession of legal amounts of marijuana. Too bad it takes appeals court rulings to instruct the attorney general to follow the law. And from the looks of it, at least one more Supreme Court ruling before he and his minions get completely over it.

The Court of Appeals decision in State v. Crocker is available at online.

7. Newsbrief: European Drug Reformers Seek More Dialogue with European Union, Funding for Permanent Dialogue

The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (, an umbrella organization of drug reform groups across the European Union, is keeping the pressure on the EU as the supranational body works to elaborate a new, five-year drug strategy. With the new drug strategy set to be agreed upon by member states before year's end, ENCOD this week sent a letter to the EU's Horizontal Drug Group seeking a "concrete dialogue" between the EU and civil society, as represented by ENCOD.

The letter is only the latest step in the European reformers' ongoing battle to win a place at the table for bold new thinking. As the deadline for the new drug strategy loomed, ENCOD managed to get itself invited to a May EU drug strategy conference in Dublin, where its attempts to broaden the debate engendered both out-front hostility from some governments and behind-the-scenes approval from representatives of others (

Dublin left something of a sour taste in ENCOD's mouth, the letter said. "We were invited to the first summit in order to prepare the discussion on this new strategy, which took place on 10 and 11 May 2004 in Dublin. Our representative was allowed to speak for 6 minutes during a plenary panel discussion in the morning of the first day," ENCOD noted. "However, the response he received did leave serious doubts about the willingness of EU authorities to engage in a true process of dialogue and participation of civil society in the development of a new strategy on drugs."

But ENCOD is continuing to fight for a place at the table. Writing that its 83 member organizations represented "millions of Europeans: drug users as well as non-users, grassroots activists, researchers, health practitioners, officials, parents, development workers, etc.," the umbrella group argued that it could make a real contribution to the debate.

ENCOD encouraged the EU to adopt two proposals to deepen the discussion. The first calls on the chair of the Horizontal Drug Group "to invoke a concrete moment of dialogue between now and January 2005" to "facilitate a sincere input of civil society organizations to the debate on the essential guidelines for the future EU Drug Strategy, as well as on the role that civil society can play in the implementation of this strategy."

The second called for money to make the dialogue a permanent feature of European drug strategy discussions. It urges the European Parliament "to speedily adopt a particular budget line that is addressed to the facilitation of a constant dialogue process between EU policymakers and civil society representatives on the drug issue."

In an e-mail to member groups, ENCOD's Joep Oomen said that no reply has yet been received, but he will let people know if and when it is.

Read about European Union drug strategy at online.

8. Newsbrief: House Speaker Dennis Hastert Defames Drug Reform Funder Soros, New Jersey DA Joins Smear Campaign

In another sign of the growing nastiness of this year's presidential race, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert Sunday defamed drug reform funder George Soros on national television, wondering aloud whether the Hungarian-born billionaire financier was getting money from drug cartels and passing it on to political opponents of President George Bush. The GOP is unhappy with Soros, not because he funded some drug reform efforts, but because he has contributed millions of dollars to groups trying to defeat Bush in November. Still, that didn't stop Hastert from using Soros' interest in drug reform to try to smear him as a criminal.

Hastert's remarks came in an interview Sunday on Fox News with anchor Chris Wallace. In a discussion of 527s and other unregulated political groups active in the campaign, to some of which Soros has contributed, Hastert said, "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from."

An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" Hastert continued: "Well, that's what he's been for a number of years -- George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there."

Wallace then asked, "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartels?" To which Hastert replied, "I'm saying I don't know where groups -- could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."

Soros responded quickly and angrily. In a fax sent Tuesday to Hastert's office and excerpted by Capitol Hill trade paper The Hill, Soros wrote, "Your recent comments implying that I am receiving funds from drug cartels are not only untrue, but also deeply offensive. You do a discredit to yourself and to the dignity of your office by engaging in these dishonest smear tactics. You should be ashamed."

Then Soros called Hastert on the claims. "I must respectfully insist that you either substantiate these claims -- which you cannot do because they are false -- or publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation," he wrote.

When given a second chance to back down Tuesday by The Hill, a Hastert spokesman instead stayed the slanderous course. "George Soros has an agenda," said Hastert spokesman John Feehery. "He supports the legalization of drugs, and the statement stands. [Hastert] has been fighting Soros on this for years because it is a character flaw. The Speaker thinks legalizing drugs is wrong."

[Editor's Note: Soros has in fact not taken a legalization position, but his Open Society Institute has attempted to foster debate on drug policy reform by funding organizations espousing a range of viewpoints -- some entirely mainstream, such as the group Drug Strategies, headed by Carter-era drug policy official Mathea Falco; some anti-prohibitionist, such as DRCNet; most somewhere in between.]

[Second Editor's Note: If it is a character flaw to advocate or discuss drug legalization, then it is a character flaw shared by some of the nation's most prominent conservatives, including long-time National Review leader William F. Buckley, Reagan administration secretary of state George Shultz and Nobel laureate economist and free market advocate Milton Friedman. When Hastert and his spokesman insulted Soros in that way, by extension they also insulted a large portion of the Republican base that leans libertarian or is thoughtful on this issue for other reasons.]

And if frontal attacks on national TV weren't enough, Soros is also enduring sniping from New Jersey drug czar-wannabe Terrance Farley. An assistant prosecutor in Ocean County, Farley is a prolific prohibitionist propagandist, filling column-inch after column-inch with his diatribes against drug reform of any stripe. In his latest broadside, an attack against critics of mandatory minimum sentences published Sunday in the Ocean County Observer, Farley wrote that Soros' objective "is to legalize all drugs." But then, in bit of bizarre demagoguery, Farley added that the reason Soros wants to "legalize all drugs" is to "deflate the alleged supremacy of the United States in the world."

But wait, there's more, and it suggests that Hastert's attack on Soros is not an aberration. Other Republicans have also been attacking Soros, such as GOPAC, a GOP political action committee, which veered uncomfortably close to the fetid terrain of anti-Semitism when it wrote on its web site last year that Soros, a Jew, was a "descendant of Shylock," the Jewish banker in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" who was so venal he would cut human flesh to repay loans. And Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley also contributed to the campaign against Soros, calling him "a robber baron, he's a pirate capitalist, and he's a reckless man" -- ironic language from a conservative capitalism enthusiast.

Welcome to campaign 2004, Mr. Soros. To be fair to the Republicans, though, some of their luminaries are drug policy reformers or even outright legalizers themselves, such as former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, former secretary of state George Shultz and longtime National Review chief William F. Buckley.

Nor are Republicans the only ones whose leaders have publicly attacked drug reformers. After Colombian attorney general Gustavo de Greiff, just having defeated notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, came out for legalization, John Kerry, then chairman of the Senate International Relations Committee, responded by saying that the US "must engage in a major rethinking of its relationship with law enforcement in Colombia" and that "the situation is a serious one and requires the US to consider its options under the circumstances," according to an alert issued 10 years ago by The Drug Policy Foundation, predecessor organization to the Drug Policy Alliance, in defense of de Greiff.

Footage of Dennis Hastert's slanders of George Soros can be viewed at online.

9. Newsbrief: Human Rights Watch Calls on Schwarzenneger to Sign Needle Access Bills

The California legislature has passed two bills that would ease injection drug users' access to needles, and Thursday the internationally respected human rights group Human Rights Watch called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to sign the bills.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2871 would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles that current hamper locales seeking to establish needle exchange programs (NEPs). Under current California law, cities and counties must declare a "health emergency" to allow the legal operation of NEPs, and that declaration must be renewed every two weeks. AB 2871 removes the biweekly renewal requirement.

"When it comes to needle exchange, excessive red tape can cost lives," said Jonathan Cohen, researcher with Human Rights Watch's HIV/AIDS Program and author of a 2003 report on sterile-syringe programs in California. "Cities and counties in California have shied away from these lifesaving programs because of the bureaucratic hurdles involved." A second bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1159 would dramatically loosen California's prescription requirement for syringe sales. The Golden State is one of only five in the nation that require a prescription to buy a needle. Under SB 1159, drug users would be permitted to buy up to 10 needles at a time without a prescription.

Providing easier access to needles is a proven means of reducing HIV and other infections. In a review this year of more than 200 studies of NEPs, the World Health Organization found that there is "compelling evidence" that needle exchange "contributes substantially to reductions in the rate of HIV transmission." The WHO found "no convincing evidence" of major unintended side effects of these programs, such as increases in drug injection.

To read AB 2871 online, visit:

To read SB 1159 online, visit:

To read the Human Rights Watch report, "Injecting Reason: Human Rights and HIV Prevention for Injection Drug Users" online, visit:

10. Newsbrief: Marijuana Policy Ads Return to DC Following Court Victory

The marijuana reform group whose controversial ads on Washington Metro buses and subway stops spawned a congressional effort to effectively censor them it back at it, and this time it has partners. Change the Climate (, the Boston-based group behind the ads, was vindicated in federal court in June, where it was joined by the Marijuana Policy Project ( and the American Civil Liberties Union Drug Policy Reform Project (formerly the Drug Policy Litigation Project -- in filing suit. US District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled that an attempt to block the ads by pulling federal funding from any transit system that ran them was an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights. That failed effort to suppress political opinions with which he did not agree was the brainchild of Oklahoma Republican Rep. Ernest Istook (

"Istook's ban provides powerful evidence of how scared the federal government is of genuine debate," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance ( in a press release announcing the new ads. "I guess that's no surprise since they're trying to defend a policy that is indefensible."

The federal government has appealed Judge Friedman's ruling to the DC District Court of Appeals, but in the meantime, free speech reigns once again. And beginning Thursday, marijuana reform ads are once again appearing, this time at the Union Station and Capitol South stops of the Metro. But this time, Change the Climate has been joined by MPP, the ACLU, and DPA as sponsors whose logos appear on the ads.

"We are pleased that the court's ruling will allow the public to see this message, despite the efforts of the government to stifle our point of view," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

The ad will run throughout September and features a group of ordinary looking people standing behind prison bars under the headline, "Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Lock Up Non-Violent Americans." It can be viewed at online.

11. Newsbrief: Safe Crack-Smoking Kits Distributed in Winnipeg

A Winnipeg harm reduction group is providing crack-smoking paraphernalia to hardcore users in the largest city in Manitoba, a Canadian province bordering North Dakota and Minnesota, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. The group, Street Connections, is working with the approval of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), which okayed the program as a means of curbing the spread of disease.

The kits consist of glass tube pipes, cleaners, alcohol swabs, and matches, as well as lip balm to prevent users' lips from cracking and chewing gum to prevent teeth grinding. They cost the WHRA about $1.50 each, and the organization said it has distributed about half of the 200 kits it has assembled since the program began August 16.

"I think this is a very good use of public health -- it's a harm reduction service," said Dr. Margaret Fast, WRHA medical health officer. "We're not helping addicts have more, we're helping them to be safer when they use," she told the Free Press. "People who use crack are already doing it and they are often using very poor equipment, so we want them to be safe when they undertake this activity."

Fast said harm reduction workers assess clients and try to make a connection with them while handing out the kits. "It's all very controlled," she said. "We work with our clientele on a one-on-one basis. We won't go to known crack houses and hand them out."

The initiative is supported by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. "The objective is to keep those folks as safe as they can, while building a relationship with them," said Laura Goosen, director of the Winnipeg region. "Hopefully, those users will move toward a point when they are ready to make changes in their life."

Winnipeg police are aware of the program and have no concerns, Fast said. But despite support from the WHRA, law enforcement, and the harm reduction and treatment communities, the conservative Winnipeg Sun managed to scare up some opposition. It found and quoted two ex-crackheads who thought it was a bad idea and the director of a Christian drug treatment facility who called the idea "retarded."

12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

One thing you can say about drug prohibition is that it provides an endless supply of fodder for this feature. This week, we head down south to West Memphis, Arkansas, where the Crittenden County jail administrator was charged August 23 with possession of a controlled substance and public service bribery, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Reginald Abram, 29, was busted after accepting delivery of more than two ounces of cocaine for delivery to an inmate, West Memphis Police Chief Mike Allen told the newspaper. "We received information that Reginald Abram was using his official capacity as chief administrator of Crittenden County Detention Center in an illegal capacity," Allen said. So they set him up and busted him when he bit.

Abram is a five-year veteran of the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department. He took over the jail administrator job June 5. There must be something about that position. Abram got the job after his predecessor, Robert Bretherick, was charged with witness tampering and deprivation of rights.

13. Ninety-nine Percent of All Marijuana Eradicated in US is Feral Hemp, Federal Data Reveals

courtesy NORML News,

Approximately 99% of all marijuana eradicated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in 2003 was feral hemp -- not cultivated marijuana, according to figures recently published online by the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.

According to the DEA data, of the estimated 247 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2003, more than 243 million were classified as "ditch weed," a term the agency uses to define "wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending." Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade.

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre criticized the program for spending millions of taxpayers' dollars eradicating hemp. "Hemp is grown legally throughout most the Western world as a commercial crop for its fiber content, yet the US government is spending taxpayers' money to target and eradicate this same agricultural commodity," he said, noting that many of today's current hemp plots are remnants of US-government subsidized crops that existed prior to World War II. "Virtually all wild hemp goes unharvested and presents no legitimate threat to public safety. As such, it should be of no concern to the federal government or law enforcement."

According to DEA figures, Indiana led all 50 states in the volume of ditchweed eradicated, destroying more than 219 million plants. Oklahoma law enforcement eradicated some 10 million plants, and Missouri destroyed an estimated 4.5 million. More than half of all states failed to report their ditch weed totals. California led all 50 states in the number of cultivated plants eradicated in 2003, with the DEA citing nearly 1.2 million plants destroyed.

Begun in 1979, the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program allocates federal funds to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states for the purpose of uprooting marijuana. For 2003, DEA data indicates that 8,480 arrests were derived from law enforcement raiding over 34,000 outdoor plots, and over 2,600 indoor gardens.

A past NORML report and analysis on domestic marijuana cultivation can be found at online.

14. This Week in History

September 4, 1991: US District Judge Juan Burciaga said, "The fight against drug traffickers is a wildfire that threatens to consume those fundamental rights of the individual deliberately enshrined in our Constitution."

September 5, 1989: In his first nationally-televised address from the Oval Office, President George Bush declared that narcotics were "the gravest threat facing our nation," and said that he was stepping up the war on drugs. Bush waved a packet of seized "crack" cocaine around on national television and declared, "This is crack cocaine, seized a few days ago by drug enforcement agents in a park just across the street from the White House." During the same address, Bush also demanded the death penalty for kingpins such as Pablo Escobar and called for the largest budget increase to date in the history of the drug war by pledging $2 billion in aide to the drug fight Andean nations. A Washington Post article by Michael Isikoff published later that month revealed that DEA agents had to lure a suspected drug dealer to Lafayette Park four days earlier in order to make the bust, the agency's first ever in that park.

September 5, 1990: Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates said during testimony before the US Senate Judiciary Committee that casual drug users should be taken out and shot. It was later revealed that such a policy could have led to the summary execution of his son, a drug user.

September 6, 1988: After two hearings, DEA administrative law judge Francis Young recommended shifting marijuana to Schedule II so it could begin to be used as medicine. Young wrote, "It would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record" and called marijuana "in its natural form... one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

September 6, 1999: Jorge Castaneda, an NYU law professor who was later appointed foreign minister of Mexico, is quoted in Newsweek, "In the end, legalization of certain substances may be the only way to bring prices down, and doing so may be the only remedy to some of the worst aspects of the drug plague: violence, corruption, and the collapse of the rule of law."

September 6, 2000: The Ottawa Citizen reported that Jaime Ruiz, senior adviser to Colombia's president, said, "From the Colombian point of view [legalization] is the easy solution. I mean, just legalize it and we won't have any more problems. Probably in five years we wouldn't even have guerrillas. No problems. We [would] have a great country with no problems."

15. The Reformer's Calendar

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

September 5, 10:00am-5:00pm, Santa Cruz, CA, 2nd Annual Santa Cruz WAMMfest, benefit for the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medial Marijuana. At San Lorenzo Park Benchlands, visit or call (831) 425-0416 for further information.

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 13, 6:00pm, New York, NY, Housing Works Annual Meeting & Dance Party. At Ruby Falls, 609 W. 29th St., admission to meeting free, $5 donation requested for party. For further information visit or contact [email protected] or (212) 967-1500 x141.

September 14, 5:30pm, San Francisco, CA, Young Professionals International Forum: "The Drug War in a Post 9/11 Environment," featuring David Abruzzino of the CIA and State Dept. and Judith Appel of Drug Policy Alliance. At the World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, $12 for nonmembers, $7 for cosponsors, $5 for students, free to Council Members. Contact (415) 293-4600 or [email protected] to register or visit for further information.

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.

September 23, Kalamazoo, MI, Drug Policy Symposium, featuring representatives of Sheriff Bill Masters of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Rev. Edwin Sanders of Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy, Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and many others. At Western Michigan University, contact Ben Lando at (269) 760-5107 or [email protected] for further information.

September 25, 8:00am, Asheville, NC, "The Adverse Effects of Drug War Prohibition: Our Families, Our Children and Our Communities." Saturday morning conference sponsored by the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform and cosponsored by the UNC-Asheville Women's Studies Dept. At UNC-Asheville, visit for further information.

October 1, 5:00-8:00pm, Madison, WI, Medical Marijuana Benefit. At Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson, $10 requested donation. Hosted by IMMLY and Wisconsin NORML, contact [email protected] or [email protected] for further information.

October 1, 6:30pm, New York, NY, "The Body Electric," benefit for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, at Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, 520 W. 27th St. 4th Floor. Full admission to dinner and dance party $100 requested donation, join MAPS at any membership level for admission to dance party only. Visit or e-mail [email protected] for further information, visit to RSVP.

October 1-3, London, England, London Hemp Fair, visit for further information.

October 2, noon, Madison, WI, "33rd Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival," Library Mall at 700 State St., 3:40pm parade to rally at State Capitol. Contact [email protected] for further information.

October 4-5, Washington, DC, two days of medical marijuana events sponsored by Americans for Safe Access, including a Rally for Rescheduling Marijuana as Medicine at the Dept. of Health & Human Services at 10:00am on October 5. For further information visit or contact (510) 486-8083 or [email protected].

October 19, 6:30-9:30pm, Washington, DC, PreventionWorks! 6th Anniversary Celebration/Fundraiser supporting harm reduction in the capital. At HR57, 1610 14th St. NW, contact (202) 588-5580 or [email protected] or visit for further information.

October 23, 2:00-10:00pm, Atlanta, GA, "The 11th Annual Great Atlanta Pot Festival", cannabis reform event sponsored by the Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition. At Piedmont Park, for further information visit or contact (404) 522-2267 or [email protected].

October 26, 7:00pm, Burlington, VT, Forum with the Vermont Cannabis Coalition, with Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, 162 Pearl St., visit or call (802) 496-2387 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.

November 27, Portland, OR, "Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards 2004," Seminar & Trade Show 10:00am-4:00pm, Awards Banquet & Entertainment 6:30-10:00pm. At the Red Lion Hotel, Portland Convention Center, sponsored by Oregon NORML, visit or contact (503) 239-6110 or [email protected] for further information.

April 30, 2005 (date tentative), 11:00am-3:00pm, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!" 2nd Annual National Pain Rally. At the US Capitol Reflecting Pool, visit for further information.

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