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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #355, 9/24/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. EDITORIAL: THE MORAL CHOICE IS CLEAR

  2. David Borden comments on the Judaic traditions in criminal justice and how radically the drug laws conflict with them, especially mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
  3. WITH NEW SENTENCING LEGISLATION PENDING IN CONGRESS, CHURCH LEADERS URGE AN END TO MANDATORY MINIMUMS

  4. In a sign of the growing opposition to draconian sentencing, legislators and leaders of mainstream religious denominations held a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday to denounce a new mandatory minimums bill and support another bill to repeal them.
  5. PATIENTS, DOCTORS, SUPPORTERS HEAD TO WASHINGTON TO DEMAND RESCHEDULING OF MARIJUANA AS A MEDICINE

  6. Medical marijuana patients and supporters are heading to Washington in less than two weeks to demand the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) reschedule marijuana as a medicine.
  7. FOR SECOND YEAR, JOHN W. PERRY FUND HELPS STUDENTS WITH DRUG CONVICTIONS AFFORD COLLEGE

  8. According to the US Department of Education, more than 153,000 persons have lost eligibility to receive student loans, grants, even work-study jobs to further their education, under the infamous drug provision of the Higher Education Act. The John W. Perry Fund, a scholarship fund sponsored by DRCNet Foundation to assist such would-be students, has begun its second year by awarding scholarships to four new and one returning grantee.
  9. DRCNET INTERVIEW: MICHAEL BADNARIK, LIBERTARIAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

  10. DRCNet begins its coverage of drug policy and the presidential election season this year with Libertarian Party nominee Michael Badnarik. The Libertarian Party (LP) has for years been a staunch advocate of ending drug prohibition.
  11. DRCNET BOOK REVIEW: "PATIENTS IN THE CROSSFIRE: CASUALTIES IN THE WAR ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA," BY AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS

  12. Compiled by Americans for Safe Access, the aggressive grassroots medical marijuana defense group that sprang up in response to the initial Ashcroft raids on California patients and providers, "Patients in the Crossfire" a compendium of the stories of medical marijuana users imprisoned, prosecuted, and persecuted by local, state, and federal authorities.
  13. ACTION ALERT: STILL TIME TO CONTACT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABOUT HEA DRUG PROVISION

  14. Last month, DRCNet sent an action alert to subscribers living states which have Senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee. There's still time to act on it.
  15. NEWSBRIEF: SCHWARZENEGGER SIGNS SYRINGE ACCESS BILL, VETOES NEP BILL

  16. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger(R) has signed into law legislation that allows people to buy up to 10 syringes at a time without a prescription. The Governator also vetoed a bill to loosen the requirements on city health departments to constantly re-approve syringe exchange programs every few weeks.
  17. NEWSBRIEF: SCHWARZENEGGER VETOES BILL BARRING HIGH SCHOOL DRUG TESTING

  18. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Saturday vetoed a bill that would have prevented school districts in the state from conducting random drug tests of students. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), had garnered not only bipartisan support in the legislature, but was also backed by the state Parent Teachers Association.
  19. NEWSBRIEF: NEW JERSEY NEEDLE EXCHANGE BILL ON FAST TRACK, PASSES FIRST HURDLE

  20. What a difference a month and a scandal makes. In mid-summer, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (D) was riding high and opposed needle exchange programs (NEP) in practice, if not in theory. Now, after being forced into resigning his office in November because of scandal, McGreevey has had a change of heart, and the legislature has responded accordingly.
  21. NEWSBRIEF: FORMER CHILD ACTOR MACAULEY CULKIN BUSTED FOR DRUGS IN ALL-TOO-TYPICAL CAVE-IN TO POLICE SEARCH REQUEST

  22. Former child star Macauley Culkin, 24, and a companion were arrested on drug charges in Oklahoma City on September 17 in an all-too-typical traffic stop turned drug bust. A popular video providing civil liberties training for the high-pressure situation of a police encounter could have helped Culkin avoid being caught.
  23. NEWSBRIEF: MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW BRINGS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUE TO THE MASSES

  24. The medicinal use of marijuana was the sole topic on Tuesday's edition of the Montel Williams TV talk show. Williams, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, has become an increasingly vocal proponent of medical marijuana.
  25. NEWSBRIEF: BUSH WARNS OF CANADA DRUG THREAT, WHISTLES PAST AFGHAN OPIUM FIELDS

  26. President George Bush used the publication of the annual State Department list of major drug-producing or trafficking countries September 16 to single out Canada for criticism over its possible decriminalization of marijuana and its lack of severe punishment for pot offenders." At the same time, Bush soft-pedaled "concerns" about opium production in Afghanistan, which has skyrocketed under the US-installed government of President Hamid Karzai.
  27. NEWSBRIEF: GUATEMALA SEEKS MORE ANTI-DRUG MONEY FROM UNITED STATES

  28. Just days after once again being named to the State Department's list of major drug-producing or transiting countries, Guatemala called on the US to pay up if it wanted better results in the Central American nation long known as a major transshipment point for cocaine heading north from Colombia.
  29. NEWSBRIEF: DECADES OF COLOMBIAN DRUG WAR BRINGS... NEW, MORE EFFICIENT DRUG ORGANIZATIONS

  30. Colombia's decades-long effort to wipe out the drug trade at the insistence and with the assistance of the United States has mainly succeeded in creating new, more efficient drug trafficking organizations, according to one of that country's top cops.
  31. NEWSBRIEF: NARC HATES FREE PUBLICITY

  32. DRCNet reported last month on the web site of Leon Carmichael, an Alabama man facing marijuana and money laundering charges, whose right to post the names and photographs of a DEA agent and two informants on the Internet in what his attorney calls an effort to gain information for his defense has been upheld two times by federal courts. Now, the DEA agent identified by the web site has gone to federal court seeking an order to have his photos removed.
  33. NEWSBRIEF: THIS WEEK'S CORRUPT COPS STORY

  34. A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer in Washington state is in the slammer after getting caught coming back from Canada with 535 pounds of the dreaded "BC bud" in the back of his van. His explanation... blackmail.
  35. NEWSBRIEF: BRITISH DRUG POLICY THINK TANK SAYS GOVERNMENT ABANDONED PLANNED HEROIN MAINTENANCE EXPANSION

  36. In 2002, British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that the number of licenses granted to doctors to prescribe heroin should be increased from fewer than 50 to more than 1,500, to remove the supply of the drug from the black market. But two years later, the National Treatment Agency, the government body responsible for dealing with addiction, has reported that instead of increasing 30-fold as Blunkett suggested, the number of doctors with heroin maintenance prescribing licenses has only doubled, to 123.
  37. THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

  38. Drug lords, drug bills, drug arrest stats, protests.
  39. THE REFORMER'S CALENDAR

  40. Showing up at an event can be the best way to get involved! Check out this week's calendar for events from today through next year, across the US and around the world!
(last week's issue)

(Chronicle archives)


1. Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 9/24/04

David Borden
Earlier this week, religious leaders from a range of denominations called for Congress to reject a senseless new mandatory minimum sentencing bill sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, and instead pass a wiser bill by Rep. Maxine Waters to repeal them. The issue was not a mere matter of opinion for the participants. As event organizer Charles Thomas of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative pointed out, "No denominations are known to support mandatory minimum sentencing. Can you think of any other issue on which the moral choice is so clear?" Incarcerating human beings for decades, for the reasons done in the drug war, is not moral.

A few years ago I had an editorial published in some Jewish newspapers that critiqued the drug war based on principles of justice as expounded in the Judaic tradition. One need not look far into the texts to find radical differences between the legal framework called for in a thoughtful work of moral philosophy and the reprehensible machine of repression and injustice we have created in America.

First, the tradition calls for a rehabilitative approach to matters of criminal offending. The transgressor who has done injury is taken into a family's home, to provide work in compensation to the victims but also to receive the family's help in learning to become a more responsible member of society. If by the end of the seventh year there are any unpaid debts, those debts are cleared and the individual is released from service.

The tradition calls for testimony used in determining guilt to be very carefully vetted for reliability. No party with an interest in a case may testify, nor may any whose past conduct has been less than upright. Contrast with the drug war, in which real or accused criminal offenders -- the unreliable people whose testimony the Judaic tradition proscribes -- are coerced into testifying against others through threat of harsher prosecution; or offered shorter prison terms or no prison terms -- the priceless commodity of freedom -- in exchange for testimony to help prosecutors garner convictions; or in which informants, often from the criminal set themselves, are paid for such testimony.

The writings lay out highly nuanced differences in sentencing, pointing to an extremely thoughtful and deliberate way of weighing culpability levels, striving in no case to over-punish. Contrast this with the origins of today's mandatory minimum sentences, which were anything but thoughtful. Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, who served as a counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in 1986 when those laws were passed, has discussed how members of Congress rushed into a bidding war, competing with each other to be the toughest on drug offenders following the widely publicized cocaine overdose death of Boston Celtics recruit Len Bias. Congress did not even hold hearings before radically transforming federal sentencing, Sterling recounts.

And because the guiding principle is one of compensation more than of punishment, drug prohibition seems to conflict with that in principle. Who is to be compensated by an individual who chose to use drugs but who committed no adverse actions against others in the process? Who is to be held responsible for damages for a private drug transaction that took place between willing partners? And because the guiding principle is one of rehabilitation more than punishment, drug prohibition itself seems to conflict with that in practice. Prohibition does the reverse of rehabilitation, literally tempting people into lives of crime who might otherwise have never gone such a route, by creating large, widely available profits for engaging in an activity that many consider acceptable.

Lest the foregoing discussion cast too intellectual a sheen on the issue, remember -- always -- there are half a million nonviolent drug offenders languishing in our nation's prisons and jails. Each day going by in this way is an injustice; each mandatory minimum sentence meted out to them is an abomination. The moral choice is clear.


2. With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums

Even as the clamor against mandatory minimum sentences grows louder, a House subcommittee is considering a bill that would impose harsh new mandatory minimums for a wide variety of nonviolent drug offenses. But in a sign of the growing opposition to draconian sentencing, legislators and leaders of mainstream religious denominations gathered for a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday to denounce mandatory minimums in general and the new bill in particular, and to support another bill that would repeal federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Mandatory minimum sentences largely date from the hysterical anti-drug politics of the 1980s, when legislators sought to outdo each other in being "tough on crime" by drafting more and more draconian legislation. Such sentences, which require offenders to serve a certain minimum amount of time, remove discretion in sentencing from judges shifting such power instead to prosecutors. With judges forbidden by law from deviating from such sentences, prosecutors effectively decide punishments by choosing which charges to bring.

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Thursday began hearings on H.R. 4547, sponsored by US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), which would radically increase mandatory minimum prison sentences for anyone furnishing any controlled substance, including marijuana, to a minor or to anyone who has been in drug treatment before. It would also create mandatory minimum life sentences for a second offense, as well as creating mandatory minimum sentences for furnishing drugs in a designated "drug-free zone" (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/344/senseless.shtml). But while mandatory minimum sentence drug bills sailed through Congress in the 1980s, this one is expected to have a tougher time winning congressional approval.

Opposition to the bill was loud and clear at the Tuesday press event organized by the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (http://www.idpi.org), a group formed specifically to mobilize people of faith to promote drug policy reform. "I get invited to a lot of speaking engagements, but I'm only going to accept them if I can speak about mandatory minimums," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), author of a new bill, H.R. 5103, which would repeal mandatory minimums. "I want to make this a priority," she said. "Mandatory minimum sentences destroy lives. Politicians have built their careers on being tough on crime and tough on drugs, but mandatory minimum sentencing targets low level drug users -- victims -- not the drug dealers who should be sentenced to the time they deserve."

One victim of such laws is Hamedah Hasan, who is now serving a 26-year mandatory minimum sentence for a peripheral role in a drug distribution conspiracy. "Mandatory minimum sentences have been horrible for my family," said Hasan's daughter Kasaundra Lomax. "I've been taking care of my family since I was 12. It's not my job, but I don't have a choice. I would like to be in college, but I have to worry about taking care of my family," she said. "All they care about is punishing a person, and they give no thought to how this affects whole families. It's just not fair."

That's right, said Waters. "Many women have boyfriends, they have a conversation and they end up in a conspiracy," she said, urging the religious community to quit obsessing on issues like gay marriage, abortion, and whether women can serve as clergy. "Refocus your attention," Waters pleaded with church leaders, "get on the people's agenda. Mandatory minimum sentencing destroys lives. Instead we need to let judges be judges."

Waters' bill, known as the Justice in Sentencing Act, would do that. The bill systematically strips language creating mandatory minimum sentences from the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. It also mandates no federal prosecution of offenses under those acts for amounts of drugs less than those specified as minimums under the Controlled Substance Act, unless specifically authorized by the attorney general. For cocaine or cocaine base, the bill mandates that no federal prosecutions commence for amounts less than 500 grams without the attorney general's approval.

Church leaders and legislators at the press conference called for passage of the Waters bill and an end to mandatory minimums. "The most incredibly moral thing we can do is look at legislation that is supposed to be helping people, but is harming people," said Eliezer Valentin-Castanon, director of civil and human rights for the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. "As people of faith, how can we proclaim that our religious values allow us to put people in prison for such a long time?" he asked.

"This is the land of the free and home of the brave," said the Rev. Michael T. Bell, pastor of the Peace Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and representative of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, which recently passed a resolution condemning mandatory minimum sentencing. "We should be free enough and brave enough to change course when something is wrong." Mandatory minimums are a legacy of white supremacy, added Bell, who also spoke as representative of the religious affairs department of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (http://www.nabcj.org).

The Rev. Julius Hope, director of religious affairs for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a veteran of the 1954 Alabama bus boycott, sounded a similar note. Calling mandatory minimums "the new Jim Crow laws," Hope called for their repeal. "We stand here today to say mandatory minimums are throwing away the justice system in this country," he said. "Men and women of integrity and faith need to stand up. I pray that by God's grace we can repeal these mandatory minimums," Hope said, as he thanked the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative for leading the way.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the support of the religious community is critical. "The civil rights movement had the church behind it. When the church gets behind this we will prevail," he said.

And the churches are beginning to come around. In addition to addressing the Tuesday press conference, the United Methodist Church, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Church of the Brethren Witness sent spokespersons to the Rayburn House Office Building to present their denominations' official positions denouncing mandatory sentencing laws. But those denominations are not the only ones opposing mandatory minimums. The National Council of Churches, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Church, and the Union for Reform Judaism also oppose mandatory sentencing laws, though they did not send representatives. Similarly, while the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is on record as opposing mandatory minimums, it did not send a representative because the conference has yet to take a position on either of the bills now before Congress.

"The nation's leading religious organizations clearly recognize that mandatory sentencing laws are unjust and ineffective," said Charles Thomas, executive director of the national Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. "No denominations are known to support mandatory minimum sentencing. Can you think of any other issue on which the moral choice is so clear? Congress must defeat Rep. Sensenbrenner's bill and pass Rep. Waters' bill. It's time to put on the brakes and turn toward justice and compassion."

To read the Sensenbrenner (H.R. 4547) and Waters (H.R. 5013) bills online, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and enter the bill number in the search box.

To read about religious denominations' positions on mandatory minimums and other drug policy issues, visit the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative web site at http://www.idpi.us online.


3. Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine

Medical marijuana patients and supporters from around the country are heading to Washington a week from now to demand that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reschedule marijuana. Under current drug schedules, marijuana is considered a Schedule I, like heroin or PCP, with no approved medical uses.

Organized by Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org) under the rubric "Stop the Federal War on Patients Forever," demonstrators will begin converging on Washington on Saturday, October 2nd for a weekend of training and preparation, followed by a day of press and other events and the submission of a petition demanding that HHS revise its position that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use" the following Monday, followed up by rally at HHS at 10:00am, Tuesday, October 5th.

The petition is being filed under the federal Data Quality Act, which mandates that government regulatory agencies take into account the most scientifically accurate information in arriving at decisions. If, after further consideration, HHS concedes that marijuana does have medical uses, the DEA would be forced to reschedule marijuana. Two earlier efforts to reschedule marijuana have been rebuffed, one after languishing for 16 years, the other rejected just prior to the commencement of DEA raids on California medical marijuana patients and providers by the John Ashcroft Justice Department.

"We believe there is enough medical and scientific research out there to more than justify rescheduling marijuana, and that if HHS complies with the Data Quality Act, it will have to recommend rescheduling," said Stacey Swimme, ASA field manager. "They have the ability to do it tomorrow if they want to. They have to take into consideration all research, not just research they want to see," she told DRCNet.

According to ASA, at this point, busloads of patients are set to come in from Philadelphia, New York, and Providence, as well as carpools bringing patients and supporters from West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland, and as far away as Jacksonville, Florida. But there will undoubtedly be patients from elsewhere as well, as groups including the Ohio Patients Network, Texans for Medical Marijuana, and patients from the Midwest have signed on to the effort.

Some, perhaps a busload, will be coming from Massachusetts, said Whitney Taylor, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts (http://www.dpfma.org). "There has been an e-mail sent out, and ASA has over a hundred people on their list here in Massachusetts alone, so there is a good chance we can fill a bus," she told DRCNet. "We ought to know by the middle of next week."

That the action targets rescheduling to make marijuana available as a medicine under federal law and includes public demonstrations makes it doubly attractive, said Taylor. "This is a very important action because it's a new approach, trying to work on the regulatory apparatus that is already in place," she said. "The more patients and doctors who come out in public for this and maybe even commit acts of civil disobedience will help get the point across about how important this is."

The timing of the action during the high political season is no accident, said Swimme. "We feel like there is a lot of media attention on Washington right now because of the election, and there is not necessarily a lot for those press people to do. We will give them something to write about," she said. "We feel like we have to get this message out before the election to remind people that medical marijuana is a major issue. It has 80% support across the country, more states will be voting on initiatives this fall, and we want to inform the next president that we're still here and we are not going to let what happened during the Bush administration happen again during the next four years, whether it's Bush or Kerry."

For more information about the "Stop the Federal War on Patients Forever" actions, visit Americans for Safe Access at http://www.safeaccess.org online.



4. For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College

One of the uglier manifestations of drug prohibition is a measure authored by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) which bars students from being able to receive federal financial aid for specified periods of time if they have a drug conviction, no matter how minor. Known as the Higher Education Act's (HEA) anti-drug provision, the measure became law in 1998. According to the US Department of Education, since the law went into effect more than 153,000 persons have lost eligibility to receive student loans, grants, even work-study jobs to further their education.

According to Souder and other supporters of the HEA anti-drug provision, the measure is designed to deter drug use among college students. The provision's deterrent effect is unquantifiable, but what is beyond doubt is its deleterious impact on people who have had drug convictions and are trying to advance their education and thus, their life prospects.

In response to Souder's law, DRCNet Foundation, the publisher of this newsletter, formed the John W. Perry Fund (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/) in 2002 to provide limited scholarships to students whose academic careers are threatened by the HEA anti-drug provision. The Fund has so far awarded 14 scholarships to 10 students around the country, and continues to do so as funds become available for it.

John Perry was a New York City policeman who lost his life participating in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was also an ardent civil libertarian who worked with the ACLU and the Libertarian Party as well as with New York City drug reformers. "My son encouraged everyone to continue studying and opposed the provision that denied aid to potential students," said Patricia Perry, John Perry's mother, an active member of the New York Civil Liberties Union and supporter of the Perry Fund. "I believe he would be pleased that a fund bearing his name is being used to encourage support for others to increase their learning," she told DRCNet.

Now in its second year of disbursing scholarships to needy students, the fund recently announced new scholarships for four students and renewed a scholarship for one other. Some are typical college students, some are non-traditional older students, and one is an extremely untraditional student, a former long-time homeless crack user who reports acing all his classes last semester.

This semester's scholarship recipients are:

  • Michael Mayer, 19, Middle Tennessee State University. A native Tennesseean, Mayer dreamt of attending a liberal arts college far from home and began taking classes at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. But after being charged as a peripheral player in dormitory drug sales and being convicted of a marijuana misdemeanor, that dream came to an end. With the help of a $475 scholarship from the Perry Fund (and a full-time job at Outback Steakhouse), Mayer can now continue his college education.
  • Nicholas Haderlie, 21, University of Wyoming. Convicted of possession of less than three ounces of marijuana, Haderlie served four months in jail and is currently on probation as he attends school and works full-time at the Howard Johnson Inn. A $475 Perry Fund scholarship will help him stay in school until his financial aid eligibility is restored in January.
  • Sandra Krizka, 29, Northwestern Oklahoma State history major. The freshman mother of three lost financial aid eligibility after being convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. She received a $475 Perry Fund scholarship to help her get through this semester, after which she will once again be eligible for financial aid.
  • Stephan Hansen, 36, Brunswick Community College (North Carolina) political science major. The married father of six lost financial aid eligibility after being arrested for misdemeanor possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Hansen's wife is a school teacher, but with six kids, he has had to take a full-time job at Pizza Hut to make ends meet. A $475 Perry Fund scholarship will help make it possible for him to stay in school until his financial aid eligibility is restored in April 2005.
  • Donald Miller, 48, York College (Queens, New York City) environmental science major. After spending two decades on the streets of New York, homeless, suffering from schizophrenia with a consequent addiction to crack cocaine, Miller is barred for life from receiving federal financial aid because a string of crack convictions he racked up while living on the street. Now in his third semester at York, Miller has been supported by the Perry Fund all the way, receiving two $2,000 scholarships during the 2003-2004 school year and another installment of $842 (state financial aid kicked in to cover part of the cost) in time for the fall semester.

"I can never get financial aid for the rest of my life. I wouldn't be in school at all if it weren't for the Perry Fund," said a grateful Miller, adding that he had achieved a 4.0 grade point average last semester. With a course load this semester consisting of chemistry, sociology, music, and cultural diversity, Miller expects to maintain that average, he told DRCNet.

For Michael Mayer, the Perry Fund scholarship represented not a last chance but a chance to slightly improve his lot. "With the scholarship, I was able to move out of my mom's house and try to be like other college students," he told DRCNet. "I was able to move close to campus and not have to commute 40 miles. The scholarship money also removed a lot of stress," he said. "My mom and I don't have a lot of money, and every little bit helps."

"Isn't that crazy," exclaimed Stephan Hansen, remarking on losing financial aid eligibility over a joint. "I never heard of that financial aid thing," he told DRCNet, "it's almost like discrimination." Fortunately for Hansen, he had a financial aid officer who had heard of the Perry Fund. "I didn't even know I had lost my aid until I saw her, but she knew about the Fund. It was the greatest thing I've ever heard of."

At least two of the recipients are active in drug reform. Now, after suffering the consequences of a drug bust, they have all the more reason. "I have been active in drug reform for several years now," Krizak told DRCNet. "I contact my representatives regarding different issues, and I also spread the word to raise awareness, and I sign petitions regularly," she said. "Unfortunately, I don't have any money to contribute, though."

"I was a dues-paying member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org) when I was arrested," said Haderlie. "After I was convicted and before I went to jail, I was helping to try to charter a Wyoming NORML chapter, but my membership expired while I was in jail, and I don't have the money to renew it," he told DRCNet. In the meantime, Haderlie said, he is getting active with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org) and a campus-based progressive activist group.

"Of course we are only able to help a tiny fraction of the would-be students affected by the drug provision," said DRCNet executive director David Borden, who founded the Perry Fund. "But the Perry Fund is more than a scholarship program," Borden continued, "It's a statement. The Perry Fund is a provocative, attention-grabbing way of drawing attention to the issue and to the drug war as a whole, while helping young people who have been harmed by the drug war and bringing some of them into the issue. Giving out scholarships makes an impression in a way that goes beyond mere advocacy."

The Fund's kickoff forum/fundraiser, held in March 2002, succeeded in drawing such attention. The event, which featured former ACLU executive director as keynote speaker as well as Patricia Perry and others, was covered by Black Entertainment Television's Nightly News program, the Associated Press, Long Island Newsday and other venues. Time will tell what the Perry Fund's new ventures achieve.


5. DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate

DRCNet begins its coverage of drug policy and the presidential election season this year with Libertarian Party nominee Michael Badnarik (http://www.badnarik.org). We may have a similar interview with Independent candidate Ralph Nader in the near future. While we have not asked major party candidates Sen. John Kerry and Pres. George Bush for interviews, we will examine their drug policy records and relevant campaign platforms in the weeks to come.

The Libertarian Party (LP) has for years been a staunch advocate of ending drug prohibition, a plank to which it adheres to this day. In the party's current position statement on drug policy, it says bluntly, "Drugs should be legal. Individuals have the right to decide for themselves what to put in their bodies, so long as they take responsibility for their actions."

While the LP advocates drug legalization as part of a comprehensive and consistent anti-statist approach -- party planks also include ending welfare programs, protecting gun-owners' rights, opposing foreign wars and the war in Iraq in particular, opposing the Patriot Act and any other infringements on civil liberties and free speech, and opposing government regulations that interfere with free enterprise, such as minimum wages -- it has never caught hold with the voting public. In the last 20 years, the LP presidential candidate has never done better than second among the minority parties or important independents -- typically Nader and/or Greens on the progressive left or the Reform Party on the populist right have come in third, except in 1988, when Ron Paul (now a Republican congressman from Texas) beat out Lenora Fulani and the New Alliance Party. Except for businessman Harry Browne in 1996, no LP presidential candidate has since equaled Paul's showing with 0.5% of the popular vote. Browne, who ran again in 2000, saw his total decline to 0.36%.

Carrying the Libertarian Party banner in this year's election is Michael Badnarik, a computer consultant and constitutional scholar living in Austin, Texas. Badnarik was "turned off" from politics and pursuing his professional career until his study of the Constitution led him to the Libertarian Party, according to his biography. He ran for the Texas House of Representatives in 2000 and 2002 before successfully claiming the LP presidential nomination earlier this year. Badnarik answered DRCNet questions via e-mail as he flitted around the county campaigning this week.

Drug War Chronicle: The Libertarian Party has long stood tall against the "war on drugs." Are you continuing that stance?

Michael Badnarik: Absolutely. Libertarians have a number of good reasons to oppose the "war on drugs." The first, of course, is based in the notion of self-ownership. What you or I might choose to eat, drink, smoke, inject or otherwise ingest into our own bodies is none of the government's business. We own ourselves. The government doesn't own us.

Secondly, the "war on drugs," by any reasonable set of criteria, has been an abject failure. Any drug you care to name is just as available now -- perhaps even more available -- as it was when "war" was declared on it. Billions of dollars in government spending and millions of arrests and imprisonments have failed to achieve anything resembling "victory." And they'll continue to fail.

Finally, there are the unintended consequences and side effects. Drug war prisoners constitute a large minority, some say a majority, of the US prison population, and that prison population is the largest per capita in the world. The Bill of Rights -- in particular the 4th and 5th Amendments -- has been eviscerated. Law enforcement has bee corrupted. Lives have been ruined. Communities have been torn apart. There's just no upside to the drug war.

Chronicle: Clearly, drug abuse can be harmful. What do you say to people who argue that avoiding the harms of drug abuse justify drug prohibition?

Badnarik: We could argue all day about whether the "war on drugs" would be justified if it minimized drug abuse. The fact is that it doesn't. As a matter off fact, the evidence militates toward concluding that in encourages drug abuse. The "war on drugs" has encouraged a trend of ever more potent, dangerous drugs which are more addictive and more likely to engender an abusive response in their users. Marijuana is engineered for higher THC content. Opium evolves into morphine and then heroin. Coca leaves become powder cocaine, which becomes crack.

All of these changes are due to the imperative to maximize profit and to create drugs that give more "bang for the buck" in terms of being able to fit a given number of doses into a smaller space to facilitate smuggling. Then, when someone discovers that he or she has a drug problem, they're afraid to seek help. They've been deemed criminals. They're afraid of being arrested -- so they go on with their self-destructive behavior rather than risking it.

Chronicle: What do you see as the primary harms of the "war on drugs"?

Badnarik: I've listed a number of them above. To me, the basic, primary harm is that it gives government more power over the individual. The other harms are the side effects, intended and unintended, of that basic problem.

Chronicle: If we were to end drug prohibition, with what sort of drug control regime might we replace it?

Badnarik: The only sort of "control regime" I'm interested in is the market. Historically, government "control regimes" have produced inferior results to those achieved by letting the market meet demand and maximize benefits. As a matter of fact, government controls usually have an effect counter to the intended one, with numerous bad side effects.

Chronicle: The Libertarian Party's national office under Ron Crickenberger, who died last fall, was very strong on pushing for the end of the "war on drugs." Is the drug war still a major issue for the party? What is the national office doing?

Badnarik: The Libertarian Party adopted ending the drug war as a "signature issue" a couple of years ago. A lot of that was due to Ron's influence, which is very much missed. In this presidential election, foreign policy and civil liberties in a more general sense have taken center stage. However, neither I nor the LP in general have abandoned our goal of ending the drug war. If anything, it's more urgent than ever, precisely because the drug war facilitates the terrorism we now find ourselves at war with.

Chronicle: What are the outlines of the debate within the party over the centrality of the "war on drugs" to the party platform?

Badarik: It's been said that if you stick two Libertarians in a room and ask them a question, they'll emerge from the room with three conflicting and mutually exclusive points of view. That's as true of the drug issue as it is of any. However, I think that there are certain points on which we agree. We agree that the drug war is a failure. We agree that individuals should be free to make their own choices -- so long as they don't inflict the consequences of their mistakes on others.

Where we disagree sometimes is on the relative importance of the drug issue to others, and on the best approach for achieving our goals. Some Libertarians prefer to emphasize just marijuana, or just medical marijuana. Some Libertarians argue for a "control regime" like that currently in place for alcohol. Others want to tackle the whole subject, top to bottom, with a no-holds-barred, immediate battle for total victory over prohibition. And some Libertarians want to relegate the issue to a less prominent position in our platform, program, and public activities. These are all ongoing struggles within the Party. However, I believe that we're in general agreement on keeping the issue up front and continuing to do battle on it. And we're winning, as the progress of medical marijuana legislation, decriminalization legislation, etc., indicate.

Chronicle: The "war on drugs" is open to attack from across the political spectrum. Why is the Libertarian position superior to, say, the liberal critique of someone like George Soros or the public health-centered critique avowed by harm reductionists?

Badnarik: It really comes back to the libertarian critique of government in general, and to Lord Acton's dictum -- "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The liberal critique and the "harm reduction" critique still rely on government power. They assume that "the right people" or "the right policy" will remedy the situation. But once you hand power to government, you substantially lose control of how that power is exercised. Victories are temporary. Everything depends upon the whim of the politicians and how much influence can be exerted over them at any given time to go in any particular direction. Libertarians want to take the question out of the political arena entirely instead of trusting the transient wisdom and good intentions of bureaucrats and politicians to secure our rights.

Chronicle: Since Ed Clark got 920,000 votes and 1.1% of the popular vote in 1980, the LP presidential candidate has never received more than 0.5% of the popular vote (Paul in 1988 and Browne in 1996), and Harry Browne saw his vote totals decline from 1996 to 2000. Will you be able to break that ceiling and what are you doing that is different from earlier campaigns to enable you to do that?

Badnarik: I'm not even going to try to predict the outcome this November. Every election has certain unique features, and every election presents the LP with obstacles and with opportunities.

Will we bust the million-vote ceiling this time? I don't know. My gut feeling is that we will. Whatever the outcome, though, I know that I'll have earned every vote I get, that those votes will make a difference, and that the people who vote for me will never need to be ashamed for having done so.

How well we do this November depends upon a number of factors. However, I am confident that we can get our message out, affect the outcome of the election and achieve a greater degree of relevance for the Party than any previous campaign.

And, unlike previous campaigns, we're collecting hard data on what works and what doesn't instead of relying on anecdote and subjective perception. We're doing polls. We're coordinating those polls with our media buys so that we can gauge their effectiveness. This will be the best-documented presidential campaign in the LP's history -- and subsequent campaigns will be able to avoid making the same old mistakes over again.




6. DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in the Crossfire: Casualties in the War on Medical Marijuana," by Americans for Safe Access

Phillip Smith, Editor, [email protected], 9/24/04

In Amsterdam, you can go down to the local pharmacy and get quality-controlled, medical marijuana from government-registered suppliers. In Canada, a government contractor supplies pot for patients registered with the health ministry. (Alright, it is crappy stuff, but that's another story.) In Oklahoma, on the other hand, if you can't get your medical marijuana and you try to grow your own, you might get 93 years in prison. And even in states like California, where the voters have made the medical use of marijuana legal, rabid feds can always drop in and try to send you away for five or ten years or life.

Compiled by Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the aggressive grassroots medical marijuana defense group that sprang up in response to the initial Ashcroft raids on California patients and providers, "Patients in the Crossfire" is primarily a compendium of the stories of medical marijuana users imprisoned, prosecuted, and persecuted by local, state, and federal authorities. Largely based on "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War," by long-time cannabis activists Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, and Virginia Resner, and written with additional assistance from Norris, the volume includes a very personal introduction by ASA executive director Steph Sherer, as well as brief glances at the history of marijuana as a medicine, federal policies that block its current use, and the latest advances in the science of medical marijuana.

But it is the stories of the patients that are the heart of this book. Some are well-known in drug reform circles, like Will Foster, sentenced to 93 years for trying to grow his own medicine. Fortunately for Foster, that sentence proved too long even by Oklahoma standards and he was eventually released. But not before drug warrior Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating kept him in prison for two years after a state appeals court cut his sentence, saying it "shocks our conscience."

Another Oklahoman, Jimmy Montgomery is less well-known, but suffered just as grievously at the hands of the state. Confined to a wheelchair for over 20 years because of a spinal cord injury, whose spasms he controlled with marijuana, Montgomery was convicted as a drug dealer over two ounces of pot found in his wheelchair and sentenced to life in prison. Oh, and the police tried to seize the home in which he lived -- his mother's house. The state provided muscle relaxants, opiates, and tranquilizers to the man it imprisoned for using marijuana as a medicine, but his condition deteriorated as prosecutors blocked his release. His sentence was eventually cut to ten years and he made it out early on medical parole. But he is minus one leg, the result of an ulcerated bed sore that developed while he was lying handcuffed in a prison hospital bed.

There are more. More patients thrown in prison, like Todd McCormick, or persecuted to their deaths, like McCormick's friend, author Peter McWiliams. Or forced into exile, like Steve Kubby, to avoid a veritable death sentence at the hands of vengeful local authorities. Or driven to suicide, like Shirley Dorsey, 73, who killed herself a year after she and her companion Byron Stamate were arrested for growing medical marijuana on their land.

"They want to take our property, security and herbal medicine from us, even though we have not caused any harm to anyone," Dorsey wrote in her suicide note. "It is not fair or in the best interest of people or society. I will never testify against you [Byron] or our right to our home. I will not live in the streets without security and a place to sleep. I am old, tired, and ill, and I see no end to the harassment and pressures until they destroy us."

After Dorsey's death, Byron Stamate was sentenced to nine months in prison, and his home, cottage, and life savings were seized. The prosecutor later said he would do it exactly the same way if he had to do it over again.

Maybe it's just me -- maybe not -- but this book made me angry. While "Patients in the Crossfire" doesn't delve into the whys and wherefores of this modern day witch hunt and doesn't mention the gigantic industry of control and incarceration that has grown up around drug prohibition, the stories of the patients beg the question: Who is responsible for this?

Let us not mince words: There are indeed villains in this piece. What can you say about a prosecutor who goes out of his way to send a pot patient to prison for years and then goes above and beyond the call of duty by seeking to keep him there even as he reaches death's door? Or a judge who spinelessly fails to let a jury hear the whole story and sits by as the federal imprisonment machine gobbles up another patient? Not to mention taxpayer-paid propagandists like drug czar John Walters, whose job description surely reads "must lack conscience, have ability to lie on demand without blinking." Or those minor villains, the laughing, smirking, blue-uniformed thugs who take such pleasure in invading the homes of peaceful people and ripping them and their inhabitants' lives apart. When do we get our prohibition war crimes trials, our Nuremberg?

Don't get me wrong. "Patients in the Crossfire" is hardly a fiery polemic. It doesn't have to be. Its tone is careful and measured. But in bringing to light the hideous crimes perpetrated against sick people in the name of drug prohibition, it does a great service. If its purpose is to shock the conscience, it has certainly succeeded.


7. Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision

Last month, DRCNet sent an action alert to subscribers living states which have Senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee. The alert concerned the Higher Education Act drug provision, a law that delays or denies federal financial aid to students because of drug convictions, and which DRCNet has worked since 1998 to repeal. The committee had initially scheduled a vote relevant to the issue a few weeks ago.

As often happens in Congress, the vote has been delayed -- which means there is still time to write, fax, call or visit your Senator's office if you haven't already. The vote will take place -- soon -- on a bill, S. 1860, whose main purpose is to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The bill is certain to pass, and includes as part of it a change to the Higher Education Act to scale back the financial aid penalty to only apply to people who were in school and receiving aid at the time of their offenses.

This is good, but not good enough. Please scan the following list to see if you have a Senator on the Judiciary Committee, and to get his or her contact information if so. Then please call and/or fax your Senator today to urge that the Higher Education Act's drug provision instead be repealed in full.

Alabama: Jeff Sessions (R-AL), (202) 224-4124, (202) 224-3149

Arizona: Jon Kyl (R), (202) 224-4521, fax (202) 224-2207

California: Dianne Feinstein (D), (202) 224-3841, fax: (202) 228-3954

Delaware: Joseph Biden (D), (202) 224-5042, fax: (202) 224-0139

Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R), (202) 224-3521, fax: (202) 224-0103

Idaho: Larry Craig (R), (202) 224-2752, fax: (202) 228-1067

Illinois: Richard Durbin (D), (202) 224-2152, fax: (202) 228-0400

Iowa: Charles Grassley (R), (202) 224-3744; fax: (202) 224-6020

Massachusetts: Edward Kennedy (D), (202) 224-4543, fax: (202) 224-2417

New York: Charles Schumer (D-NY), (202) 224-6542, fax: (202) 228-3027

North Carolina: John Edwards (D), (202) 224-3154, fax: (202) 228-1374

Ohio: Mike DeWine (R), (202) 224-2315, fax: (202) 224-6519

Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter (R), (202) 224-4254; fax: (202) 228-1229

South Carolina: Lindsey Graham (R) (202) 224-5972, fax: (202) 224-1189

Texas: John Cornyn (R), (202) 224-2934, fax: (202) 228-2856

Utah: Orrin Hatch (R), (202) 224-5251, fax: (202) 224-5251

Vermont: Patrick Leahy (D), (202) 224-4242

Wisconsin: Herbert Kohl (D), (202) 224-5653, fax: (202) 224-9787

Wisconsin: Russell Feingold (D), (202) 224-5323, fax: (202) 224-2725

You can also contact your Senator online, using a web site we've set up for this purpose, http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/senate/ -- there is a prewritten letter there, which we encourage you to edit. Our online grassroots lobbying system will direct your letter to your Senator, if you live in one of the states listed above. Also, please write us at [email protected] to let us know that you've taken action and to report back to us on any potentially important information about this vote that you learned. Thanks for your help on this important issue.

Last but not least, please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com for further information on this issue and the ongoing campaign to repeal this bad law. Some talking points for your phone calls:

  • Over 150,000 people have been affected by this law, all of whom had already been punished by the criminal justice system.
  • The vast majority of drug convictions are for simple, nonviolent, low-level possession.
  • The HEA drug provision represents a penalty levied only on the poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have the doors of college closed to them for want to financial aid.
  • The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different races. African Americans, for example, comprise 13% of the population and 13% of all drug users, but account for more than 55% of those convicted of drug possession charges.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

Again, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write to Congress

and get involved in the campaign! Students, visit http://www.ssdp.org to learn about Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization playing a leading role in this effort.


8. Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger(R) October 13 signed into law legislation allowing people to buy up to 10 syringes at a time without a prescription. The new law, which is designed to reduce the incidence of HIV and Hepatitis C infections from needle-sharing by injection drug users, is similar to measures approved by the legislature but vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

"My administration supports this measure because it will prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users, their sexual partners and their children," Schwarzenegger wrote in a statement issued with the bill signing. "Research conducted on syringe access through pharmacies in other states concluded that access to sterile syringes and needles significantly decreased HIV and [hepatitis C], but did not increase drug use or crime rates."

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), won approval only after restrictions were added. It sets out a trial program lasting until the end of 2010, and pharmacists will be allowed to sell syringes only if local authorities approve the program.

The same day, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have made operating needle exchange programs (NEPs) easier by eliminating the requirement that they be continuously reauthorized by local authorities. Under California law, NEPs are legal only when local health authorities declare a medical emergency. At least 14 cities or counties currently run NEPs, but under current law, the declaration of a health emergency must be renewed every two or three weeks.

The bill did not require close enough local control, he said. "While cumbersome, the reauthorization ensures that local government and local public health officials review the status of syringe exchange programs when deciding to continue the program," the governor wrote. He would consider a similar bill in the future if language is added ensuring that health officials and law enforcement have a chance to weigh in to "ensure that the health benefits of a syringe exchange program outweigh any potential adverse impact on the public welfare."

Despite the mixed signals, the Drug Policy Alliance's Glenn Backes hailed the signing of the syringe sales law. "This is the most important AIDS-prevention legislation in the history of California," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Needle exchange the way Davis did it has helped create about 20 legal access points for sterile syringes. There are hundreds of pharmacies in Los Angeles County which, if the county so chooses, could become legal points of access for sterile syringes."

Read the bill, SB 1159, online at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/bill/sen/sb_1151-1200/sb_1159_bill_20040826_enrolled.html


9. Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Saturday vetoed a bill that would have prevented school districts in the state from conducting random drug tests of students. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), had garnered not only bipartisan support in the legislature, but was also backed by the state Parent Teachers Association.

The bill was a direct response to efforts by drug czar John Walters and President Bush to expand the use of student drug testing as part of their war on drugs. It would have barred drug testing of any student unless there was a reasonable suspicion the student was using illegal drugs or alcohol "in the school environment" (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/339/notests.shtml).

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger called the measure "unnecessary," saying "specific drug testing policies in schools are local issues." Under current law, Schwarzenegger noted, local officials can create a drug testing program if they feel it necessary. "I cannot support legislation that eliminates the ability of local school districts to make decisions based on the needs and values of their community. For these reasons, I cannot sign the bill," he concluded.

The veto didn't set well with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (http://www.ssdp.org). "Governor Schwarzenegger's veto is a major setback for students' rights and the legislative efforts to protect them," said SSDP executive director Scarlett Swerdlow. "Students have been long collateral damage in the drug war, but Schwarzenegger seems to want to make a predator out of every high school principal. Forcing drug tests on students only drives a wedge between them and the teachers they rely on for good drug education."



10. Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle

What a difference a month and a scandal makes. In mid-summer, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (D) was riding high and opposed needle exchange programs (NEP) in practice, if not in theory. Now, after being forced into resigning his office in November because of scandal, McGreevey has had a change of heart, and the legislature has responded accordingly.

With McGreevey saying he wants a needle exchange bill on his desk before he departs, the Assembly Health Committee Thursday passed the bill after a day of emotional hearings. "We find ourselves today at a critical point in the course of public health in New Jersey. We have the opportunity today to bring into our state proven methods of harm reduction and disease prevention," Health Commissioner Clifton Lacy testified. He and others testified in support of A3256, the Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act, which would permit municipalities to approve NEPs within their jurisdictions. It would also refer injection drug users who participate to health care providers and counselors.

Currently, although New Jersey has the fifth-highest number of AIDS and HIV cases in the US, it is one of only two states that do not explicitly permit NEPs under state law or provide for the sale of syringes without a prescription. Impatient local authorities in Atlantic City and Camden, two areas especially hard-hit by drug-injection related HIV infections, had returned the issue to public attention earlier this year when officials there claimed a statute dealing with municipal health programs authorized them to do so. They were slapped down by a New Jersey Superior Court ruling on September 1.

"Now we move on to the appropriations committee and a floor vote as early as next week," wrote Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey point-person Roseanne Scotti in a message to supporters after the vote. Scotti has played a key role in advancing the issue in the Garden State this year, not only providing a legal analysis that allowed the Atlantic City and Camden city councils to move forward, but also ginning up support among previously reluctant legislators.

But not all of them. State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) was impervious to all arguments in favor of NEPS, instead arguing that they constituted something like genocide. "Do like Hitler, give us the gas. Do like Tuskegee, give us the experiment. Do like Jim Jones, give us the Kool-Aid," Rice said.


11. Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request

Former child star Macauley Culkin, 24, and a companion were arrested on drug charges in Oklahoma City on September 17 in an all-too-typical traffic stop turned drug bust. Culkin, who is best known for his role in the "Home Alone" movies, went down after police stopped the car in which he was riding for going 70 mph in a 60 mph zone.

In a fatal blunder, the driver, Brett Tabisel, 22, of New York, consented to a search of the vehicle by the police officer, according to the police report. The officer then asked Culkin to step out of the car. Culkin then told the officer he had $3,000 in cash in a black bag on the car floor. When the officer opened the bag, he found marijuana. Tabisel than told the officer there were more drugs in the car. When Culkin was asked about prescription drugs, he pulled a bag containing 24 Xanax and sleeping pills from his pocket. In a further search of the vehicle, the officer found six more joints and two roaches, the police report said. The total marijuana haul was 17.3 grams, or slightly over a half-ounce.

Tabisel was issued tickets for speeding, making an illegal lane change, and marijuana possession. Culkin was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of marijuana. He was jailed for two hours before paying a $4,000 bail bond.

Culkin had only one word to say to reporters on his release: "Jesus."

The young actor would have been better off if he had devoted some of his time to watching movies instead of making them. We refer in particular to the video "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," which instructs people on how to exercise their rights during just such incidents. Produced by the Flex Your Rights Foundation (http://www.flexyourrights.org), the central theme of "BUSTED" is NEVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH! If Culkins' driver, Tabisel, had not given initial consent to a search, the whole chain of events that ended up with Culkins behind bars in the Oklahoma City jail might have been avoided.

"This is a textbook example of how not to handle a police traffic stop," said Flex Your Rights Executive Director Steven Silverman. "Culkin foolishly consented to the officer's search request. When pressed, Culkin or his driver should have said, 'Officer, I don't consent to any searches. Are we free to go now?' They could have driven away safely with a warning. If the officer searched him anyway, he would have been no worse off, and his lawyer could have gotten the charges thrown out of court."

Silverman pointed out that Culkins is hardly alone, noting that recent marijuana arrests of Kimora Lee Simmons, the wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and singers David Crosby and Art Garfunkel could have easily been avoided if they hadn't consented to police searches. "This epidemic of celebrity pot busts could easily be cured -- if they would just flex their rights," he said.

Instead, Culkins is now a statistic, one of the more than one million people arrested on drug charges each year, most of them for simple possession.



12. Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses

The medicinal use of marijuana was the sole topic on Tuesday's edition of the Montel Williams TV talk show. Williams, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, has become an increasingly vocal proponent of medical marijuana, and Tuesday's program was no exception.

The show opened with an extended sympathetic piece about California medical marijuana patient Angel McLary Raich, then turned to Debbie Jeffries, author of "Jeffrey's Journey: A Determined Mother's Battle for Medical Marijuana for Her Son," a story of a child pumped full of stimulants, tranquilizers, and antidepressants who was helped tremendously by using medical marijuana. Audience members moaned in empathy as Jeffries described how the DEA raid on their supplier, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, cost them access to his medicine and led to him being institutionalized.

Other guests on the program included Jeffries' mother Larayne; Donald Abrams, professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, who studies marijuana for medicinal uses; Irvin Rosenfeld, federal-supplied legal medical marijuana patient; Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project; Andrea Barthwell, former ONDCP deputy director; Roger Curtiss, Montana addiction counselor; and Don Murphy, a Republican state legislator who introduced medical marijuana bills in Maryland.

Jeffries was a hard act for former deputy drug czar Dr. Andrea Barthwell to follow, and in typical talk show host manner, Williams was making no pretense of being even-handed. "You don't know what this woman is going through," he barked, pointing at Raich. "You don't know what I'm going through. If my doctor is smart enough to be able to give me Oxycontin, which has lots of adverse effects -- but the government doesn't care about the adverse effects of these drugs -- I'm saying why can't the federal government expand this [NIDA compassionate use] program so I don't have to get locked up and pay taxes to keep people like you employed?"

There's plenty more in a similar vein. And it's available at online at http://www.drugpolicycentral.com/real/csa/montel.rm online.


13. Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields

President George Bush used the publication of the annual State Department list of major drug-producing or trafficking countries September 16 to single out Canada for criticism over its possible decriminalization of marijuana and lack of severe punishment for pot offenders, even though Canada is not even on the list of "majors." At the same time, Bush soft-pedaled "concerns" about opium production in Afghanistan, which has skyrocketed under the US-installed government of President Hamid Karzai -- which is on the list.

"While the vast majority of illicit drugs entering the United States continues to come from South America and Mexico, the President expressed his continuing concerns about the flow of illicit drugs from Canada," said a statement issued jointly by the White House and the State Department. The statement noted Canada's efforts to suppress methamphetamine precursor chemicals and address cross-border marijuana smuggling, but warned that "we are concerned the lack of significant judicial sanctions against marijuana producers is resulting in greater involvement in the burgeoning marijuana industry by organized criminal groups."

At a White House press briefing the same day, Bush spokesman Scott McLellan quoted the president as saying he was also "concerned" that pending legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana "could be an invitation to greater activity by organized crime and can undermine law enforcement and prosecutorial efforts."

Afghanistan, which now accounts for roughly 75% of the world's opium, barely merited a mention. In the second to the last paragraph of the statement, well below the Canadian "threat," the US ally got one sentence: "Despite good faith efforts on the part of the central Afghanistan Government, the President reported his concerns about the increased opium crop production and the Government's lack of capacity to prevail in the provinces." Bush did not explain how incorporating warlords who make a fortune from the opium trade into the government constituted a "good faith" effort to stamp out the opium trade. (See http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/316/rumsfeld.shtml and links provided there for background.)

In other news of the "majors," Thailand was removed from the list, with the administration citing a drop in opium production and heroin processing there, while the US-installed regime in Haiti was cited as making progress. Bush sharply criticized Myanmar (Burma), naming it as the only country on the list that had failed to demonstrate its commitment to anti-drug activities. Bush also harshly attacked political foe North Korea, which is not on the list, over its alleged involvement in heroin and methamphetamine trafficking.

The following 22 countries were named as major drug-producing or transiting countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Read the "Annual Presidential Determination of Major Drug-Producing and Drug-Transit Countries" at http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/prsrl/ps/36263.htm online.


14. Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States

Just days after once again being named to the State Department's list of major drug-producing or transiting countries, Guatemala called on the US to pay up if it wanted better results in the Central American nation long known as a major transshipment point for cocaine heading north from Colombia.

In remarks reported by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said the US must provide more financial and material assistance if his country is to be more efficient in prosecuting drug traffickers. "Guatemala is and will continue being a good partner of the United States in the combat against drug-trafficking," Berger asserted. "Should the United States want more efficiency, then it ought to be a better partner. They have the resources and must strengthen the Guatemalan army with speedboats and helicopters," Berger said. "The only resources we count with in the combat against drug trafficking in Guatemala are ourselves," he added.

US military and police aid to Guatemala, almost all for anti-drug purposes, has averaged about $3 million per year since the turn of the century. The bulk of the aid comes from two programs, the State Department's International Narcotics Control program and the Defense Department's Counternarcotics program. Unfortunately, it appears that the Guatemalan military has taken a leading role not in suppressing the drug traffic but in running it. (For journalistic accounts of Guatemalan military involvement in the drug traffic, read Guatemalan journalist Jose Ruben Zamora at http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=18179 online and US journalist Frank Smyth at http://www.franksmyth.com online. At Smyth's web site click the link for Guatemala to find several relevant articles.)


15. Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations

Colombia's decades-long effort to wipe out the drug trade at the insistence and with the assistance of the United States has mainly succeeded in creating new, more efficient drug trafficking organizations, according to one of that country's top cops. In a Tuesday interview with the Associated Press, Col. Oscar Naranjo, head of the Colombian judicial police, said a new wave of "drug kingpins" is now emerging, and these individuals and their organizations are keeping a low profile while raking in profits from cocaine.

Earlier traffickers, such as Pablo Escobar, the Medellin "cartel" leader gunned down by Colombian troops with US assistance in 1993, were often flamboyant and violent, even flamboyantly violent, and led lavish lifestyles, thus attracting the attention of Colombian and US authorities. But this new generation of traffickers, said Naranjo, are not interested in flaunting wealth or bloody vendettas, just business. "They're basically dedicated to laundering profits in the international financial system, and they're experts in marketing," he said.

Trafficking styles change over the generations in response to law enforcement pressures, said Naranjo, who was described by AP as "one of Colombia's most respected law enforcement officers, who works closely with US drug agents." Naranjo identified four generations of Colombian traffickers.

The first generation, he said, were the marijuana smugglers of the 1960s and 1970s, who trafficked tons of "Colombian Gold" to the US. But they were soon eclipsed by the second generation, who turned to the more easily smuggled cocaine. Exemplified by Escobar and the Medellin "cartel," the traffickers of the 1980s waged a bloody, high-profile campaign of assassinations and bombings against the Colombian government in a bid to avoid extradition to the US. Escobar and his ilk were in turn replaced by the generation of the 1990s, led by the Cali "cartel," which Naranjo called "more sophisticated," and which resorted more frequently to bribery than bullets in order to operate.

Now, after decades of prohibitionist war, Colombia faces not only leftist rebels, rightist paramilitaries, and the Northern Valley "cartel," an offshoot of the Cali "cartel," all of which either produce or distribute coca and cocaine, but a new generation of businesslike traffickers. "Today, they want to be invisible," he said. "We don't even know the names of the big capos."

The new generation is less vulnerable to police because of one important difference with their predecessors -- they do not actually produce or monitor the production of cocaine, Naranjo said. Instead, they simply purchase the end product from either guerrillas or paramilitaries, who have established well-protected cocaine production facilities in areas they control, and then distribute it around the world.


16. Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity

DRCNet reported last month on the web site of Leon Carmichael (http://www.carmichaelcase.com), an Alabama man facing federal marijuana and money laundering charges, who posted the names and photographs of a DEA agent and two informants on the Internet in what his attorney called an effort to gain information for his defense. While law enforcement screamed in outrage and federal prosecutors tried to force the site to shut down, federal courts have twice upheld Carmichael's right to post that information. (See http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/349/pictures.shtml and http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/351/names.shtml for background information.)

Now, the DEA agent identified by the web site, Raymond David DeJohn, has gone to federal court seeking an order to have his photos removed, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. He is claiming that the photos were illegally obtained and that they pose a personal and professional danger to him.

According to the Advertiser, which has published several articles on the affair, the photos of DeJohn that appeared on the Carmichael web site were obtained from a Montgomery police lieutenant by a former police officer now working as an investigator for Carmichael. Montgomery Police Lt. George Salem was fingered as the culprit and has since retired for "health reasons."

"The government cannot introduce illegally obtained evidence in a criminal proceeding. Why then can the defendant utilize an illegally obtained photo to seek evidence in his defense?" DeJohn asked in a motion presented Monday.

An attorney for Salem scoffed at DeJohn's argument that posting his photos on the web endangered him. Julian McPhillips showed the Advertiser a photo of DeJohn on a web site for US Attorney Laura Canary, and his name is also mentioned as a law enforcement officer elsewhere on the same web site. "This web site predates Mr. Carmichael's site," McPhillips said, adding that if there was a danger of exposing DeJohn's occupation, the first site was as culpable as Carmichael's. "What's he blowing smoke over?" McPhillips said of DeJohn.

No date has been set for a hearing on DeJohn's motion. Meanwhile, Carmichael faces a November trial date for what he insists was a frame-up by the informants and DEA agent DeJohn.



17. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer in Washington state is in the slammer after getting caught coming back from Canada with 535 pounds of the dreaded "BC bud" in the back of his van, the Seattle Times reported. CBP Officer Corey Whitfield, 35, whose job it is to prevent drug smuggling, was stopped at the border at Blaine, Washington, on September 13 while driving a van with BC plates into the US.

The eight-year CBP veteran presented a diplomatic passport when asked for ID, saying, "I'm one of us," and claimed to be carrying an engine back to the US. But when a suspicious CBP officer looked in the back of the van, he found it contained not only the engine but hundreds of pounds of high-dollar marijuana in plastic bags stuffed into cabinets, according to charging documents filed in the case.

Whitfield at first denied knowing the marijuana was in the van, but then changed his story, saying he had been blackmailed by a man he met at a party on the Canadian side of the border while moonlighting as a security guard. Whitfield told agents he was forced into the smuggling scheme when the man showed him photos of himself in "compromising situations involving illegal drugs and a sexual encounter with a female at the party" and threatened to send them to his wife.

Whitfield now faces a minimum five-year federal prison sentence. Moral of the story: If you're a married border patrolman who likes toking on fatties and doing the nasty with little cuties, make sure the cameras are turned off first.



18. Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion

In 2002, British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that the number of licenses granted to doctors to prescribe heroin should be increased from fewer than 50 to more than 1,500, to remove the supply of the drug from the black market. But two years later, the National Treatment Agency, the government body responsible for dealing with addiction, has reported that instead of increasing 30-fold as Blunkett suggested, the number of doctors with heroin maintenance prescribing licenses has only doubled, to 123.

"These figures are disappointing," Natasha Vromen, a spokesperson for the drug policy think tank Drugscope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk) told the British newspaper the Observer. "There were great hopes that the government and doctors were developing a drugs policy where the health aspects were brought to the fore. Unfortunately, it is now dominated by the crime agenda."

Ironically, Blunkett initially called for a massive expansion of heroin prescribing after a Home Affairs Select Committee found that Britain's 250,000 heroin addicts were fueling crime at a rate of $11 billion a year. The committee also called for safe injection sites for drug users, but that idea has faded as well in the face of strong local opposition (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/238/homeaffairs.shtml).

According to Drugscope's Vroman, a mass murdering physician helped derail the plan to expand the number of doctors prescribing maintenance heroin. Dr. Harold Shipman was convicted in 2000 of killing 215 patients using heroin, or diamorphine, as it is known in British medical parlance. While Shipman's trial was four years ago, inquiries into the case have continued. In a report issued just two months ago, Dame Janet Smith, who is leading the inquiry, called for stricter controls on heroin to avoid the sort of stockpiling that allowed Shipman to amass his killer supply.


19. This Week in History

September 24, 1997: A federal grand jury in San Diego indicts Ramon Arellano-Felix on charges of drug smuggling. The same day, he is added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

September 25, 1996: Mere days before Congress adjourned for the year, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) introduced H.R. 4170, the "Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996." Within a few days, the bill had attracted a coalition of 26 Republican cosponsors. The legislation demanded either a life sentence or the death penalty for anyone caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States.

October: Every year the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issues its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which among other things provides drug offender arrest totals for the previous year. Nearly seven out of every eight arrests for marijuana continue to be for possession of the drug.

October 1, 1998: Increased funding of prisons and decreased spending for schools prompts massive protests by California high school students.


20. The Reformer's Calendar
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/354/calendar.shtml

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

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 http://www.maps.org/announce/thebodyelectric.html or e-mail [email protected] for further information, visit http://www.maps.org/donate/ to RSVP.

October 1-3, London, England, London Hemp Fair, visit http://www.londonhempfair.com for further information.

October 2, New York, NY, "LOCKED UP: Drugs, Prisons & Privilege," Students for Sensible Drug Policy Northeast Regional Conference. At Columbia University, 116th & Broadway, contact Daniel Blau at [email protected] for information or to RSVP.

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 http://www.safeaccessnow.org or contact (510) 486-8083 or [email protected].

October 8, 9:00am-1:00pm or 2:00-6:00pm, Chicago, IL, Harm Reduction in Violent Relationships, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

October 15, 9:00am-1:00pm, Chicago, IL, Harm Reduction 101, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

October 15, 2:00-6:00pm, Chicago, IL, Harm Reduction 102, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

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 http://www.preventionworksdc.org 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 http://www.worldcamp.org 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 http://www.VtCannabisCoalition.org or call (802) 496-2387 for further information.

October 29, 2:00-6:00pm, Chicago, IL, Harm Reduction and the Sex Trade, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

November 5, 9:00am-1:00pm, Chicago, IL, Safer Injection, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

November 5, 2:00-6:00pm, Chicago, IL, Legal Rights, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org for further information.

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

November 18-21, College Park, MD, Students for Sensible Drug Policy national conference. Details to be announced, visit http://www.ssdp.org 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 http://www.ornorml.org or contact (503) 239-6110 or [email protected] for further information.

December 3, full day, Chicago, IL, Opiate Overdose Intervention, presented by the Chicago Harm Reduction Training Collaborative. Registration $30, discounts available for multiple event signups. At the Bridgeview Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, contact Shira Hassan at (773) 728-0127 or visit http://www.anypositivechange.org 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 http://www.AmericanPainInstitute.org for further information.


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