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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #357, 10/8/04

"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: A TRAGEDY IN THE CAPITAL
    Jonathan Magbie's death at the hands of DC's court and jail should not be quickly forgotten.
  2. MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACTIVISTS BESIEGE HHS, DEMAND RESCHEDULING
    Medical marijuana activists from around the country converged on Washington, DC, over the weekend for actions culminating in a Tuesday demonstration with civil disobedience.
  3. DRUG POLICY AND THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION -- INTRODUCTION
    Drug War Chronicle this week runs a feature overview of drug policy and the presidential election campaigns.
  4. THE ELECTION I: BUSH AND KERRY ON DRUGS: PAST RECORDS AND PLATFORM PLANKS
    As part of our coverage of drug policy in the presidential campaign, we here examine the respective records of President George W. Bush and his challenger, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
  5. THE ELECTION II: DRUG REFORMERS ON KERRY AND BUSH, NADER AND BADNARIK
    As usual, the drug reform community faces the questions: Do you support the candidate who best represents your views as a reformer -- presumably Libertarian Gary Badnarik or independent Ralph Nader -- despite knowing neither has a chance of winning? Or are the differences between Bush and Kerry on drug policy sufficient to support one of them instead?
  6. THE ELECTION III: DRCNET INTERVIEW: INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER
    As part of a package of articles this week covering drug policy in the presidential election campaign, we present an interview with Ralph Nader, the controversial independent progressive candidate.
  7. THE ELECTION IV: DRCNET INTERVIEW: MICHAEL BADNARIK, LIBERTARIAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (repeat)
    Carrying the Libertarian Party banner in this year's election is Michael Badnarik, a computer consultant and constitutional scholar living in Austin, Texas. The Libertarian Party has for years been a staunch advocate of ending drug prohibition.
  8. NEWSBRIEF: SUPREME COURT HEARS ORAL ARGUMENTS IN CRITICAL FEDERAL SENTENCING CASES
    The fallout from the Supreme Court's explosive June ruling in Blakely v. Washington, which threatens to invalidate the 17-year-old federal sentencing structure, came back to the Court Monday as the nine justices heard oral arguments in two cases seeking to apply the Blakely decision to the federal sentencing system.
  9. NEWSBRIEF: NEEDLE EXCHANGE BILL PASSES NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLY
    Just weeks after departing Gov. Scott McGreevey signaled his approval of needle exchange program (NEP) legislation, a bill that would permit Garden State cities to operate such programs has been approved by two committees and was passed by New Jersey Assembly in a Thursday afternoon vote.
  10. NEWSBRIEF: PROTESTS RISE OVER AWARD AS THAI PRIME MINISTER PREPARES FOR NEW ROUND OF DRUG WAR
    Led by the human rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch, more than 50 organizations have called for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be stripped of the "International Forgiveness Award" granted in September by an Italian group, the Istituzione Perdonanza Celestiniana. Thaksin's government has been accused of complicity in the murders of thousands of Thai drug users.
  11. NEWSBRIEF: BOLIVIA'S CHAPARE COCALEROS SIGN HISTORIC AGREEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT
    At a Sunday meeting, representatives of the Bolivian government and coca growers (cocaleros) in the Chapare region signed an agreement permitting approximately 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of coca to be grown in the region this year.
  12. NEWSBRIEF: DEA PULLS PRESCRIPTION PAIN MEDICINE FAQS WITHOUT EXPLANATION
    In a so-far unexplained move, the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Diversion Control Program has removed a set of frequently asked questions and responses designed to ease doctors' fears of persecution by the agency for prescribing opioid pain relievers.
  13. NEWSBRIEF: HEMP CROPS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA STYMIED BY LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
    The state's Industrial Hemp Act came into effect on March 19, making hemp cultivation legal, but no one is growing it yet -- because state authorities are refusing to grant licenses to potential hemp growers who have cannabis-related criminal records.
  14. NEWSBRIEF: ATLANTA COPS USE FORFEITED FUNDS TO BUY BIGGER GUNS
    The Atlanta Police Department is spending more than $545,000 in funds seized from drug suspects to replace its guns with a newer, more deadly model.
  15. NEWSBRIEF: NO ASSET FORFEITURE FOR MISDEMEANOR DRUG CHARGES, TENNESSEE SAYS
    For years, Tennessee law enforcement officers routinely seized the vehicles and other property of people possessing even small amounts of drugs. But a July 9 opinion by the state's Attorney General Paul has put a stop to that practice, and the law enforcement establishment is grumbling.
  16. NEWSBRIEF: TEXAS DA SAYS DOCTORS MUST TURN IN DRUG-USING PREGNANT WOMEN
    Citing a Texas statute passed last year that classifies fetuses as individuals, one Texas district attorney is threatening to prosecute doctors if they fail to tell authorities about illegal drug use by pregnant women.
  17. NEWSBRIEF: ANOTHER KILLER COP WALKS FREE
    Former Louisville police detective McKenzie Mattingly, 31, was acquitted of murder charges in the killing of black Louisville teenager Michael Newby. Working an undercover drug buy operation, Mattingly shot Newby, 19, three times in the back as Newby attempted to flee after the pair scuffled.
  18. NEWSBRIEF: THIS WEEK'S CORRUPT COPS STORIES
    Drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption continues apace. This week's cases range from the silly to the subversive, with "good cops gone bad" breaking out all over the place.
  19. THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
    Laws, Raids, Quotes of Note
  20. ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT: PART-TIME JOB OPPORTUNITY AT DRCNET
    DRCNet is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant to work with the Executive and Associate Directors and the Member Coordinator. The Administrative Assistant will assist with all manner of clerical and administrative tasks.
  21. THE REFORMER'S CALENDAR
    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: A Tragedy in the Capital
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/tragedy.shtml

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 10/8/04

David Borden
The District of Columbia saw a tragedy this week. Jonathan Magbie, a 27-year old quadriplegic medical marijuana patient, died while under the care of the DC court and jail. Magbie had been arrested for marijuana possession, and Judge Judith Retchin sentenced him to 10 days in jail, despite recommendations from officials against it. Her reason? There was a loaded gun in the car with him.

But Magbie didn't use the gun on anyone. And now I've learned it wasn't even his.

Things went haywire immediately after Magbie entered custody. He wound up getting sent back and forth between the jail and the hospital. His mother was not allowed to bring him his ventilator in jail, for two days. By the time the jail finally agreed to it, it was too late.

I don't believe that any of the officials involved in this debacle wanted what happened to happen. Some combination of incompetence and/or overloading of the system and/or poorly crafted regulations or procedures all combined to end Jonathan Magbie's life. But that doesn't mean there's no one to blame.

Surely Judge Retchin shares the blame. According to the Washington Post article, she is known for harsh sentences. In a nation with two million prisoners, whose incarceration rate has been criticized by prominent human rights organizations, such an impulse is part of the problem. The attitude that drove her to send a helpless, wheelchair-bound young man, who had hurt no one, to jail, is a barbaric one that our society desperately needs to leave behind. And knowing how dangerous the jails can be, even for the healthy and strong, it was especially reckless. If she didn't understand that, it is to her discredit.

Others are to blame too. Why did the hospital send Magbie back to the jail and refuse to take him back? Where did the miscommunications take place in the court and jail? The more basic truth, though, is that gulags breed carelessness and error.

It is too late to save Jonathan Magbie -- the decision-makers who needed to do that didn't try hard enough. But this sad episode must not be allowed to go gently into the night. Magbie and his family deserve a full accounting, and a reflection on the sad state of criminal justice in this country is long overdue. Let it start here.


2. Medical Marijuana Activists Besiege HHS, Demand Rescheduling
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/asa.shtml

Medical marijuana activists from around the country converged on Washington, DC, over the weekend for actions culminating in a demonstration with civil disobedience and 14 arrests at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Organized by Americans for Safe Access, or ASA (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the Tuesday demonstration followed on the heels of the delivery of a petition demanding that HHS make use of the most accurate scientific information about the medicinal uses of marijuana to reschedule the herb as a substance with recognized medical uses.

Chanting "Truth and Evidence, Cannabis is Medicine" and "Schedule I to Schedule III, Cannabis is Helping Me," around one hundred people listened to testimonials from patients before unfurling a 600-foot banner with over 7,000 names of doctors who had signed onto a statement promulgated by the Marijuana Policy Project supporting medical marijuana. Along the border of the banner was repeated the phrase, "Accepted Medical Value."
ASA demonstrators prepare to be arrested
Demonstrators then demanded that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson come down from his office and meet with them to see for himself the roster of doctors supporting medical marijuana. When Thompson failed to show, the demonstrators demanded to be let in the building to deliver the banner personally. After a brief standoff, 14 demonstrators sat down to block the doors to the main entrance of HHS and were quickly arrested. Among those engaging in civil disobedience were DRCNet's associate director David Guard and ASA's executive director Steph Sherer, as well as patient and parent Erin Hildebrandt, SSDP's Scarlett Swerdlow and Tom Angell, and many others.

"We had patients from California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Maryland, and Rhode Island," said Sherer. "It was beautiful. Only about a hundred patients could make it, but they represent close to 10,000 others organized in patient groups in those states. This is a message to whatever administration is in power come January that we are not going away."

What ASA and the patients want is for HHS to adhere to the requirements of the federal Data Quality Act, which mandates that information used and disseminated by government agencies meet standards for "quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information," as the ASA petition notes. Instead of using accurate, up-to-date information about the medical efficacy of marijuana, ASA charged, "HHS repeatedly misstates the scientific evidence and ignores numerous reports and studies demonstrating the medical utility of marijuana and its constituent compounds."

ASA has highlighted HHS's 2001 determination that "marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" as violating the Data Quality Act by ignoring numerous studies attesting to the herb's numerous medicinal uses. That determination came as HHS reviewed a 1995 petition to reschedule marijuana, a petition it rejected.

ASA and the patients are seeking specific changes in the HHS determination of marijuana's medical uses. Where HHS found that "there have been no studies that have scientifically assessed the efficacy of marijuana for any medical condition," ASA requests that HHS replace this statement with the following statement: "Adequate and well-recognized studies show the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity."

Where HHS found that "it is not clear there is a consensus" regarding the medicinal uses of marijuana, ASA requests that it be replaced with: "There is substantial consensus among experts in the relevant disciplines that marijuana is effective in treating nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity. It is accepted as medicine by qualified experts."

And most critically, where HHS holds that marijuana "has no accepted medical use...," ASA asks that that statement be replaced with: "Marijuana has a currently accepted use in treatment in the United States."

"HHS has 60 days to respond," said ASA field manager Stacey Swimme. "We expect them to ignore it, but after 60 days we will have the opportunity to take them to court," she told DRCNet. "We want them to change their policy to say they recognize that cannabis does have medical and therapeutic efficacy and that they recommend to the DEA that it reschedule marijuana to Schedule III. The DEA must accept the HHS recommendation," Swimme added.

"HHS can recommend to the DEA at any time that it reschedule marijuana," said Swimme. "If they wished, they could create a panel to review the most recent research that indeed shows cannabis is safe and effective. That's what we want them to do."


3. Drug Policy and the Presidential Election -- Introduction
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/theelection.shtml

Drug War Chronicle this week runs a feature overview of drug policy and the presidential election campaigns. We begin with a look at the drug policy records and platforms of major party candidates President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionI.shtml), followed by a discussion of drug policy and the presidential election among drug reformers from across the political spectrum (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionII.shtml).

We then move on to an interview with independent candidate Ralph Nader (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionIII.shtml). Finally, we reprint our earlier interview with Libertarian Party nominee Michael Badnarik (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionIV.shtml), in order to present the full set of articles all together.

We have not covered the Green Party, whose presidential candidate David Cobb has been largely overshadowed by the Nader candidacy, but which also holds progressive positions on drug policy issues. See the Green Party platform on social justice issues at http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/socjustice.html#1001998 online.

For the record: DRCNet is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which does not endorse candidates; and Drug War Chronicle is a reporting venue in which we seek to provide complete and accurate information. The information in this election feature is provided purely for educational purposes, with no electoral agenda, and has been compiled objectively to the best of our ability.


4. Bush and Kerry on Drugs: Past Records and Platform Planks
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionI.shtml

As part of a set of articles covering drug policy in the presidential campaign, we here examine the respective records of President George W. Bush and his challenger, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. While both independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Badnarik have responded to interview requests, we did not bother to seek interviews with either Kerry or Bush because it seemed too unlikely that either would grant one. And since neither the Kerry nor the Bush campaigns responded to DRCNet requests for comment this week, we will have to rely on their platform positions and their records to examine where they stand on drug policy.

When President Bush came to office in January 2001, some drug reformers dared to hope he would be amenable to change, especially given his campaign comments suggesting he would rethink mandatory minimum sentencing and that medical marijuana could perhaps be handled as a states' rights issue. But as president, George W. Bush has reverted to the tough "law and order" politics on which he has based his political career.

With a few exceptions, however, President Bush has not radically deepened the war on drugs, but has instead largely adopted the course of his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. Instead of adopting broad changes, for better or for worse, the Bush administration has tweaked its drug policy to emphasize what it has identified as the issues of the day.

  • The Drug-Fighting Budget: The Bush administration has presided over modest increases in funding for the federal war on drugs while maintaining the rough 2-to-1 ratio of spending on enforcement over spending on treatment and prevention. (It did, however, attempt to distort this pattern by budgetary legerdemain; in the fiscal year 2004 budget it removed the costs of incarcerating federal drug prisoners from the mix, giving the misleading impression that treatment and prevention had increased as a proportion of the federal anti-drug budget.)
  • The War on Medical Marijuana: Under Attorney General John Ashcroft and drug czar John Walters, the Bush administration has fought a desperate rearguard action against medical marijuana users and providers in the states where it is legal. While the Clinton administration also opposed medical marijuana, it was only under President Bush that the Justice Dept. unleashed the full weight of criminal law against the medical marijuana movement.
  • Holding the Line Against Hemp: Under Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spent three years and untold taxpayer dollars in a vicious, ridiculous, and ultimately failed effort to block the sale and use of hemp-based food products.
  • Attempting to Block Drug Reform in Other Countries: The Bush administration has been particularly shrill in its efforts to stop other countries from liberalizing their drug laws. It has growled threateningly at Jamaica as that island nation considered marijuana decriminalization, but most brazenly, it has threatened long-time ally and close neighbor Canada with all sorts of dreadful consequences (mostly relating to trade interruptions) if the Canadians have the temerity to adopt a decriminalization scheme similar to that already in effect in many US states.
  • Escalating the Latin American Drug War: Under the Bush administration, the Clinton-era drug war in Colombia has merged seamlessly into the "war on terror." As US taxpayer dollars continue to flow into the Colombian morass, the administration is currently seeking to increase the congressionally-imposed ceilings on US troop and mercenary levels. But while the administration has been rigid in demanding coca eradication as the centerpiece of its Latin American drug policy, even spraying vast stretches of Colombia with herbicides, it has also recently begun to show the faintest hints of flexibility, not in Colombia, but in Bolivia. In the face of instability there, generated at least in part by the US-imposed "zero coca" option, the State Department last year increased alternative development funding and last week did not scream when the Bolivian government signed an agreement with Chapare coca growers to allow limited coca production this year.
  • Student Drug Testing: In his State of the Union speech in January, President Bush announced a new $25 million initiative to encourage school districts to embark on student drug testing programs. Such programs have been found to be ineffective in reducing student drug use. Bush administration lawyers have also forcefully defended testing students before the Supreme Court and have suggested that recent court rulings mean that random suspicionless testing of any student may be legal.
  • Maintaining Harsh Prison Sentences for Drug Offenders: While the Bush administration has, as a rule, not pushed for harsh, new anti-drug legislation, as occurred in the anti-drug frenzy of the 1980s, Attorney General Ashcroft has directed an administrative and legislative offensive designed to reduce vestigial judicial discretion in sentencing even further and to ensure that judges never depart downward from statutory mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Compassionate Conservatism: In addition to touting his school drug testing initiative, Bush's campaign highlights as part of his "compassion agenda" the Access to Recovery program, a three-year $600 million drug treatment initiative designed to "give recovering addicts expanded access to a full range of faith-based and community providers." He mentions a three-year, $150 million initiative to provide 100,000 mentors from faith-based and community organizations to mentor the children of prisoners. The Bush campaign also calls HIV/AIDS an "urgent problem," notes that Bush has increased domestic AIDS funding to $17.1 billion, and vows to continue to fight the disease, but opposes liberalizing federal needle exchange policy.
Of possibly greater significance is Bush's support for the bipartisan movement to expand efforts to assist prisoners with the process of reentry to society. Within this context, as well as within the pending reauthorizations of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the administration favors a partial reform to the HEA's anti drug provision to limit its applicability to those students who were in school and receiving federal financial aid at the time of their drug offenses.

Neither the Bush campaign (http://www.georgewbush.com) nor the Republican Party platform (http://www.gop.com/media/2004platform.pdf) have much to say about drug policy, or even criminal justice policy, for that matter. While the Bush campaign sounds a bit soft and fuzzy, with its talk of treatment and compassion, the party platform is hard-edged. After citing the administration's "progress" in reducing teen drug use, the platform warns that to continue this progress, "We must ensure that jail time is used as an effective deterrent to drug use and support the continued funding of grants to assist schools in drug testing."

The Bush administration has an actual record in office, while challenger John Kerry's performance must be assessed by examining what he has done in the past. California NORML head Dale Gieringer examined Kerry's voting record in the Senate and found it decidedly mixed:

  • Kerry was part of the congressional mob that in the mid-1980s fell all over itself to pass one draconian anti-drug bill after another. For instance, he supported the Omnibus Drug Bill of 1986, championed by Massachusetts Democrat House Speaker Tip O'Neill, which created the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparities that have seen the federal prisons filled with dark-skinned drug offenders. To be fair, only two senators voted against that bill.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: In later votes, Kerry voted against mandatory minimums for selling drugs to minors, for the use of firearms in drug crimes, and for the use of firearms in state drug crimes.
  • The Death Penalty: As a senator, John Kerry consistently voted against measures to expand the death penalty to drug crimes, a reflection of his broader stance against the death penalty.
  • Drug Testing: Senator Kerry was one of only seven senators to oppose random drug testing of transportation workers. He also voted against a successful bill by then-Senator John Ashcroft to require random drug testing of job training participants, and another proposal to require drug testing of welfare recipients. (He did, however, vote to deny welfare benefits for life to anyone convicted of a drug crime, even simple possession.) But Kerry also voted for a one-year demonstration program requiring drug testing for drivers license applicants and for a measure that would require Veterans Affairs employees to be subject to random drug testing.
  • Money Laundering: Former prosecutor Kerry has been very active in promoting legislation against money laundering, arguing that "damping drug traffickers' financial lifeline could be a successful tactic."
  • The Latin American Drug War: Kerry has been a staunch supporter of the drug war in Latin America. He sided with the Reagan administration in pushing for decertification of Latin American countries that the US determined were not doing their share in the drug war. He was also among a handful of Democrats who voted to authorize the shooting down of suspected drug smuggling aircraft, a policy that resulted in the deaths of American missionary Ronnie Bowers and her infant child in 2001. And he has been a strong, consistent backer of the US drug war in Colombia. One of the architects of the Clinton-era Plan Colombia, Rand Beers, is currently a key Kerry foreign policy advisor.
  • Medical Marijuana: Kerry last year signed a letter with fellow Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy asking the DEA to approve the necessary licenses requested by the University of Massachusetts to perform medical marijuana research. While campaigning for the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire in January, Kerry said he would keep medical marijuana illegal until research to complete the FDA approval process was completed, but would not pursue medical marijuana prosecutions in states that have passed medical marijuana laws in the meantime.
  • The Higher Education Act's Anti-Drug Provision: Also in New Hampshire, Kerry said he supports "partial repeal" of the provision. Students should not lose aid for simple drug use, he said. "But if the offense is selling, no."
While the Democratic Party platform (http://www.democrats.org/pdfs/2004platform.pdf) mentions neither drugs nor crime, the Kerry campaign (http://www.johnkerry.com) does, and it plays up his "tough on crime" credentials, promising more police and more drug war -- all part of the "stronger America" meme rampant in both campaigns. "John Kerry and John Edwards will aggressively target drug traffickers and dealers and provide funding for coordinated regional efforts aimed at cracking down on drug trafficking," the campaign proclaims. "They will also adequately fund drug prevention and treatment, including innovative approaches to requiring treatment for offenders like drug courts." Despite hints from the campaign trail that Kerry might be amenable to looking at mandatory minimums or more kindly disposed toward medical marijuana, there is no mention of either topic in either the Democratic platform or the Kerry campaign.

In the movie "Traffic," the drug czar character played by actor Michael Douglas begged loudly for someone in charge of drug policy to "think outside the box." It appears there is no danger of that happening with either of these candidates.


5. The Election II: Drug Reformers on Kerry and Bush, Nader and Badnarik
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionII.shtml

The presidential election is now less than a month away. With the US waging hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the threat of terrorist attacks looming over everything, few issues other than war and terror are getting any play at all. The state of the economy and concerns about the health care system appear to be the primary domestic issues, while drug policy is not even on the radar. The major party candidates have not broached the topic on their own and their challengers on the left and the right who do articulate radically sensible drug policies struggle to be heard.

While many argue that the drug reform community skews toward the progressive side of the political spectrum, it is by no means monolithic. In addition to social justice-minded progressives, who presumably are mostly supporting Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry, the movement also contains a healthy measure of libertarians, many though not all of whose natural sympathies lie closer to incumbent President George W. Bush.

As usual, the drug reform community faces the questions: Do you support the candidate who best represents your views as a reformer -- presumably Libertarian Gary Badnarik or independent Ralph Nader -- despite knowing neither has a chance of winning? Or are the differences between Bush and Kerry on drug policy sufficient to support one of them instead?

This week, DRCNet spoke with a variety of drug reform advocates about drug policy and the presidential campaign. Bear in mind that many of them are constrained by their nonprofit tax status from endorsing a political candidate. Most saw no sign that either Bush or Kerry would break with drug war orthodoxy, but most also saw little reason to vote for third party candidates. Interestingly, the degree of difference people saw between Kerry and Bush on drug policy generally appeared to correlate with their positions on the ideological spectrum.

"There is not much difference between Bush and Kerry that I'm aware of," said David Boaz, executive vice-president of the libertarian Cato Institute (http://www.cato.org). "As far as I know, both candidates support drug laws as they are. I certainly haven't heard Kerry criticizing the administration on it."

"There is absolutely no difference between them," concurred Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason magazine and a self-described small-L libertarian. "Kerry has always been a drug hawk," he said, pointing to Kerry's choice of former Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, a key architect of Plan Columbia, as an example. "Which is not to say that Bush is good. With both Democrats and Republicans, there is a real commitment to keeping control of all aspects of drug policy at the federal level. That's why under both Janet Reno and John Ashcroft you had the Dept. of Justice attacking legal medical marijuana in California and elsewhere."

But Janet Reno only sicced the Justice Department's civil division on the medical marijuana movement, while John Ashcroft unleashed a campaign of criminal investigations and arrests, pointed out Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML (http://www.canorml.org). That racheting-up of repression has been typical of the Bush administration's approach, he said. "This is the first time in many years that I can see a discernible difference between the major party candidates regarding marijuana and drug policy," said Gieringer. "Clinton was terrible on drug policy, and Gore never repudiated that. In 2000, Bush made encouraging comments about states' rights and marijuana, but once in office, Bush's record has been as bad as any we've seen. When John Ashcroft raided and closed the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center two weeks after 9/11, I knew this administration was a worse threat to our welfare and safety than Saddam Hussein would ever be. From a drug reform perspective, we could not do worse than Bush," he told DRCNet.

"We've seen what the Bush administration considers compassion toward medical marijuana," agreed Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the California-based medical marijuana defense group. Sherer said that during ASA's conversations with the Kerry campaign, the group had extracted a promise to put a moratorium on raids. "All we can do is see if he lives up to his promise," she said.

The Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org) has been reaching out to both parties on drug reform, but DPA's Bill Piper also saw clear differences between Bush and Kerry. "Look at mandatory minimum sentences, medical marijuana, and needle exchange," said Piper. "Kerry has actually voted against mandatory minimums and he has supported greater access to sterile syringes. The Senate hasn't dealt with medical marijuana, but Kerry did sign a letter along with Sen. Kennedy urging the DEA to allow medical marijuana research to go forward at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst."

But Kerry's record isn't all sweetness and light, Piper added. "He has a history of talking tough on drugs and crime, and he has been totally supportive of the Latin American drug war. He's been awful on a host of civil liberties issues, but on his voting record and his rhetoric, on drug policy he is clearly better than Bush. How he will govern as president, however, remains to be seen."

But even a do-nothing Kerry would be better than Bush, Piper suggested. "Even if Kerry turns out like Bill Clinton, who did nothing of substance on drug policy, the fact that he would not be actively working against us would be helpful. It is hard to imagine that Kerry would appoint such ardent drug warriors and ideologues like John Ashcroft and John Walters."

For Keith Stroup, the soon-to-retire long-time head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (http://www.norml.org), the differences between Bush and Kerry are clear and stark. "Without question, as you can see from the information we have on our web site, it is clear that Bush is the ultimate drug warrior," Stroup argued. "Kerry, on the other hand, has a relatively soft position. He talks about how when he was a prosecutor they would exercise discretion and not prosecute simple marijuana possession cases. I wish he would clearly say he supported medical marijuana, but marijuana smokers will be in much better shape under a Kerry presidency," said Stroup.

"Nobody is talking about drug policy so far, and I don't expect it to happen, but Kerry's record does have a few bright spots," said Gieringer. "He has voted against mandatory minimum sentences, he has voted against the death penalty for 'drug kingpins.' I spoke with him, and the one thing he said without any prompting is that there are far too many people in prison for drug offenses and that mandatory minimums have to go. He doesn't say that on the hustings, though."

For all the nuanced discussion about drug policy differences between Bush and Kerry, everyone DRCNet spoke with agreed that neither breaks with the prohibitionist paradigm. But candidates who are very strong on drug policy, meaning Libertarian Michael Badnarik and independent Ralph Nader aren't getting much respect in an election that many are calling critical for the nation's future.

"Realistically, the next president will be either Bush or Kerry," said Cato's Boaz. "If you are a single issue voter, you probably want to try to determine which of the majors is less bad on this issue. It would be good if the media paid more attention to minor candidates, but as long as election laws are set up to sustain the two party system, the media correctly understand that third parties face an insuperable barrier," he argued.

"If you're looking to be a purist," said NORML's Stroup, "Ralph Nader is very clear and good on drug policy, but the problem is that he is just not a serious candidate." Reflecting the anybody-but-Bush attitude rampant in broad swathes of the American polity, Stroup warned that "the impact of voting for Nader may allow Bush to win. If I were just voting on the best marijuana position, it would be either Nader or the Libertarians. But because of the importance of this election and because I think Kerry's position is as supportive as we can expect from a major party candidate, I suspect I will be voting for John Kerry."

"The Libertarians, the Greens, and Ralph Nader are all better on all of our issues than either Kerry or Bush," said DPA's Piper. "If they were elected president they probably would follow through on their campaign promises. But they aren't going to win." Still, he argued, minor candidates are worthy of consideration. "The more votes they get, the more helpful for drug policy reform, because they send a message to the major parties."

While both Nader and Libertarian nominee Badnarik have strong drug policy platforms, drug reform voters determined to cast a protest vote should note the differences between them, said Reason editor Gillespie. "There are significant differences between their general drug policies," he pointed out. "Badnarik is very much for legalization, while Nader is much more interested in medicalizing drug use. While Nader's position is better than what we have, it's not as good as Badnarik's. If you are going to vote based on the drug issue and you believe human beings have the right to control their own bodies and ingest what they wish, Badnarik is your candidate."


6. The Election III: DRCNet Interview: Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionIII.shtml

As part of a package of articles this week covering drug policy in the presidential election campaign, we present an interview with Ralph Nader (http://www.votenader.org), the controversial independent progressive candidate. (He has also won the nomination of the Reform Party, enabling him to get on the ballot in seven states.) Nader has a lengthy history as a consumer advocate, bursting onto the national scene with the 1963 publication of "Unsafe At Any Speed," a devastating account of safety problems with the Chevrolet Corvair. Since then, he has spawned numerous consumer advocacy organizations and authored numerous books, most recently "Crashing the Party," about the Green Party and electoral reform.

Nader also ran as the Green Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, garnering 1% of the popular vote in 1996 and 2.75% in the hotly disputed 2000 contest between Democratic Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. While the Greens did not offer Nader the nomination this year, his independent candidacy is consistently polling at between 1% and 2%, and he is on the ballot in at least 26 states at this writing, including some key battleground states.

Nader's candidacy is highly controversial among progressives, including a broad swathe of drug reformers, who fear that a vote for Nader is a vote for George Bush. We asked him about that; see below. This interview was conducted by e-mail over a period of weeks. We received final responses Monday.

Drug War Chronicle: In your issue statement on the war on drugs, you say "it is time to bring some illegal drugs within the law by regulating, taxing, and controlling them." Are you referring specifically to marijuana, or do you have other drugs in mind?

Ralph Nader: Marijuana is the drug that should most clearly be brought into a system of regulation and taxation. It is less dangerous than drugs like alcohol and tobacco as far as addiction and death. Regulation and taxation would provide greater control over purity, potency labeling, health warnings and age restrictions then the ineffective current 'war on marijuana' approach. In addition, experience with allowing retail sales of marijuana in Holland have shown effectiveness -- significantly less marijuana use in all age categories, especially by youth, twice as many US youth use marijuana on a per capita basis than Dutch youth.

Regarding other drugs, there has not been enough research done to show whether regulation and taxation approaches would work. Research being done in Switzerland on heroin assisted treatment -- where heroin users go to a government controlled clinic, purchase their heroin and use it at the clinic under the eyes of a health care worker -- show promise in that they have reduced crime, disease, death and dysfunction without increasing drug use, indeed leading to reduced drug use.

Chronicle: You have long been a critic of corporate power. How would you prevent a legal marijuana market from being dominated by large corporations? If you are talking about legalizing or regulating marijuana, how would that work?

Nader: We do not want the forbidden fruit enticement of marijuana's illegality to be replaced with glamorization by Madison Avenue advertising. Preventing national advertising that would create national brand name recognition would help keep large corporations out. This does not mean all advertising should be banned -- just national advertising to develop national brand recognition. Control of large corporations is a broader question that relates to this issue. The US needs to do more to control corporations through their corporate charters, taxation, and enforcement against corporate crime, fraud and abuse and the ending of corporate welfare.

Chronicle: What about medical marijuana?

Nader: The criminal prosecution of patients for medical marijuana must end immediately, and marijuana must be treated as a medicine for the seriously ill. The current cruel, unjust policy perpetuated and enforced by the Bush Administration prevents Americans who suffer from debilitating illnesses from experiencing the relief of medicinal cannabis.

While substantial scientific and anecdotal evidence exists to validate marijuana's usefulness in treating disease, a deluge of rhetoric from Washington claims that marijuana has no medicinal value. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 defines marijuana as a Schedule One narcotic, making it very difficult for American researchers to perform rigorous double-blind scientific studies on marijuana. Even without these difficulties, research has shown marijuana to be a safe and effective medicine for controlling nausea associated with cancer therapy, reducing the eye pressure for patients with glaucoma, and reducing muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, para- and quadriplegia.

Internationally, scientists are undertaking massive studies to determine the healing powers of cannabis. In August 2003 the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet reported that the world's largest study into the medical effects of cannabis have confirmed that the drug can reduce pain and improve the lives of people with multiple sclerosis. The three-year study was the first proper clinical appraisal of whether cannabis-derived drugs can help treat MS. Harvard medical doctor Lester Grinspoon has said he would have loved to do a similar study, but has been held back by the law. On his web site (http://www.rxmarijuana.com), and in his book "The Forbidden Medicine," Grinspoon documents how marijuana relieves the pain of people enduring more than 110 different medical conditions -- like AIDS, Crohn's Disease, glaucoma, cancer, and many more. Marijuana helps increase appetite, reduce blood pressure and intraocular pressure.

Whenever given the chance, the American public has voted to allow seriously ill people to relieve their pain with marijuana. Despite well-funded opposition from the federal government, citizens in nine states have cast ballots to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana. No state has ever rejected such a voter initiative. Medical marijuana community health centers have opened up in the states, like California, only to be aggressively attacked and closed by federal law enforcement agents. Physicians must have the right to prescribe this drug to their patients without the fear of the federal government revoking their licenses, and doctor-patient privacy must be protected. The Drug Enforcement Administration should not be practicing medicine.

Chronicle: There are more than two million people behind bars in this country, about one-quarter of them prisoners of the war on drugs. In terms of broader criminal and social justice policies, what would you do to reduce this number? And what about the people who are already in prison?

Nader: Repeal mandatory sentencing and "three strikes and you're out laws" and return power to judges to sentence people as individuals within voluntary guidelines. Mandatory sentencing laws coincide with the rapid rise of people incarcerated since the mid-1980s. This is especially true for the rapid rise of incarceration of African Americans. Handling substance abuse as a health problem more than as a law enforcement issue will slow the expansion of the number of drug offenders arrested and incarcerated. Regarding people already in prison, first, reforms in sentencing should be made retroactive. It is an injustice to say these laws are not fair, but then keep people incarcerated based on those unfair laws. Second, many people -- indeed hundreds of thousands -- are being released annually. Government, rather than providing assistance to these people to help them make the most of their lives, has put roadblocks in front of them. We need to remove the roadblocks, and make it easier for people to get a good education and a good job. Along with this we need to encourage them to rejoin the community as full citizens by restoring their right to vote.

Chronicle: Your issue statement on reforming the criminal justice system says you want to replace the war on drugs with "a health-based, treatment and prevention focused approach." Now, much drug treatment is coerced; people are given a choice between treatment and prison. Should ordering someone into drug treatment be a function of the criminal justice system?

Nader: The best drug treatment is treatment that the user chooses. It is a lot less expensive, and less damaging to the individual, to make drug treatment as available as any other health service then it is to have the government arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and then force someone into treatment. So, the first choice is to make treatment as easily available as possible. That means making it affordable and user-friendly, i.e. located in neighborhoods where people can access it, and have treatment available to treat individual needs. (For example, many drug addicted women have been victims of sexual or spousal abuse -- this needs to be incorporated into drug treatment.) Treatment also needs to include programs that reduce the harm from drug abuse, e.g. preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through needle exchange programs. And, we need to recognize that the most effective barometer of whether someone is going to succeed in drug treatment is whether they have a job. Thus, the US needs to be creating jobs that can give people hope and opportunity in life. While there are problems with coerced treatment, it is better to give people a choice of treatment instead of incarceration as done in many of the better drug court programs currently in existence and as has been passed by voters in California and other states.

Chronicle: Should drug treatment be available on demand? If so, how do you pay for it?

Nader: On our web site we have a detailed plan for making health care available to all Americans -- this should include substance abuse treatment and prevention. The Nader campaign supports a single-payer health care plan that replaces for-profit, investor-owned health care and removes the private health insurance industry (full Medicare for all). A major problem with our health care system is that we spend an inordinate amount of money on unnecessary bureaucracy and duplicative overhead caused primarily by our reliance on the private health insurance industry. Indeed, 25% of every dollar spent on health care in the US goes to duplicative and unnecessary overhead. The United States spends far more on health care than any other country in the world on a per capita basis, but ranks only 37th in the overall quality of health care it provides, according to the World Health Organization. The US is the only industrialized country that does not provide universal health care. Forty-five million Americans have no health insurance, and tens of millions more are underinsured. Providing universal health care can only be accomplished through a single-payer system: no country ever achieved universal coverage with private health insurance. President Harry Truman proposed universal health care in 1948 but was rebuffed by Congress. The time to act is yesterday. Let us end our disastrous descent into the corporatization of medicine and its callous consequences.

Chronicle: Is the drug war, and more broadly, the criminal justice system, racist?

Nader: The drug war and criminal injustice system certainly have a racially unfair impact. The facts on this are evident, according to federal surveys, "most current illicit drug users are white. There were an estimated 9.9 million whites (72 percent of all users), 2.0 million blacks (15 percent), and 1.4 million Hispanics (10 percent) who were current illicit drug users in 1998." Despite these facts, African Americans constitute 36.8% of those arrested for drug violations, over 42% of those in federal prisons for drug violations. African-Americans comprise almost 58% of those in state prisons for drug felonies; Hispanics account for 20.7%. From racial profiling to discretionary decisions of prosecutors and judges, African Americans and Latinos are treated more harshly than European-Americans.

Chronicle: Your issue statements on criminal justice and the war on drugs illustrate some of the harm done by the drug war. The evidence of the damage is irrefutable, yet little changes. Why is reforming our drug policies such an intractable issue?

Nader: Change is always difficult. Their are entrenched interests that profit from the current system -- within the government , e.g., the drug enforcement bureaucracy, and outside the government, e.g. profit-making corporate prisons or the drug treatment industry that relies on court-ordered clients. In addition, many politicians who have supported the war on drugs have a hard time publicly admitting they were wrong. They have no standard of failure so as to change course. Yet, progress is being made. States are voting for medical marijuana and treatment instead of prison. The public seems to see the failure of the drug war, now it is time for politicians who refuse to see it to be replaced by elected officials ready to end the expensive and failed drug war.

Chronicle: Your agricultural policy issue statement does not mention hemp. What's up with that?

Nader: At http://www.votenader.org/media_press/index.php?cid=29 we have a strong position supporting industrial hemp. The Nader-Camejo Campaign supports industrial hemp as a renewable resource with many important fuel, fiber, food, paper, energy and other uses. Industrial hemp is a commercial crop grown for its seed and fiber and the products made from them such as oil, seed cake, and hurds (stalk cores). Industrial hemp is one of the longest and strongest fibers in the plant kingdom, and it has had thousands of uses over the centuries. In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp -- particularly for bio-composite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them. Federal legislators, meanwhile, continue to ignore the issue of removing it from the DEA list. It is time to allow hemp agriculture, production and manufacturing in the United States.

Chronicle: Drug reform ranks include supporters from across the political spectrum. Most will consider your drug policy positions very favorably, but many of those who are aligned with the political left will oppose your candidacy nevertheless, because they fear splitting the vote and handing the election to George Bush. Do you think they're wrong, and if so, why?

Nader: The only wasted vote is a vote for a candidate you don't believe in. George Bush and John Kerry have strong pro-drug war records. George Bush and John Ashcroft have a terrible record on all the issues discussed in this survey and have been aggressive in their prosecution of drug offenders including medical marijuana in states like California where the voters have voted to support medical marijuana. But, the Clinton administration was not much better, even on medical marijuana they took steps to enforce the marijuana laws and close community-based medical marijuana clinics sanctioned by local governments. Senator John Kerry is a former prosecutor who was one of the lead sponsors of Plan Colombia and has supported crime bills that have led to the mess of our criminal injustice system and the high levels of incarceration. People who oppose the drug war are showing little respect for themselves if they vote for candidates who want to incarcerate them, their friends or their family for addictions; or who support a policy as damaging as the war on drugs. As your question notes "fear" is behind voting against your interest for the lesser evil. When you operate out of fear you are likely to make mistakes. People need to put aside fear and vote for the greater good, not the lesser evil.


7. The Election IV: DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate (repeat)
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/electionIV.shtml

This interview initially ran in Drug War Chronicle two weeks ago, 8/24/04. We are running it again in order to present all of our presidential election-related coverage together.

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?

Badnarik: 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.


8. Newsbrief: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Critical Federal Sentencing Cases
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/blakely.shtml

The fall-out from the Supreme Court's explosive June ruling in Blakely v. Washington, which threatens to invalidate the 17-year-old federal sentencing structure, came back to the Court Monday as the nine justices heard oral arguments in two cases seeking to apply the Blakely decision to the federal sentencing system.

In Blakely, the Supreme Court held that longer prison sentences for criminal defendants must be based on facts found by a jury -- not the presiding judge. But the federal sentencing system does just that: It relies on juries only to find guilt or innocence, but allows judges to increase sentences based on findings of fact never presented to, or even rejected by, the jury.

The Monday hearing was an emergency expedited appeal, accepted by the Supreme Court after the federal system fell into chaos in the wake of the Blakely decision. Some federal judges around the country did not wait for the Supreme Court, but instead began using Blakely to hand out lesser sentences. Others handed out dual sentences, one based on Blakely, one not. Others have deferred sentencing until the issue is settled.

At immediate issue are the prison sentences of the more than 60,000 people sentenced in the federal courts each year, the majority of them drug offenders. Under the old rules, drug offenders could see their sentences increased if judges found the amount of drugs involved exceeded certain benchmarks. According to the US Sentencing Commission, judges have boosted sentences in that fashion in 44% of all federal cases in 2002.

While the justices expressed concern over how juries might handle the complicated fact-finding necessary to impose sentences and how the federal justice system could re-jigger itself to fit with Blakely, observers believe the Supreme Court will indeed rule the current federal sentencing system unconstitutional.

"It seems almost a certainty that Blakely will be applied to the federal guidelines," Douglas Berman, a professor of law at Ohio State University told the Wall Street Journal. "There was nothing said that suggested that any of the justices in the Blakely majority thought otherwise."

"The guidelines as we know them are very likely to be found unconstitutional," agreed Frank Bowman, an Indiana University law professor who testified in Congress about the sentencing dilemma. "The big question is what they do about that, whether or not the guidelines have to be struck down completely, whether they can be applied in part, whether they become advisory."

"Major change is coming one way or another," said Ron Weich, a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There is enough opinion that the system is broken... there will be major reform. A very salutary effect of Blakely has been to air a lot of frustrations with the system that has now burst into public view."


9. Newsbrief: Needle Exchange Bill Passes New Jersey Assembly
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/nj.shtml

Needle exchange finally appears to be on the fast track in New Jersey. Just weeks after departing Gov. Scott McGreevey signaled his approval of needle exchange program (NEP) legislation, a bill that would permit Garden State cities to operate such programs has been approved by two committees and was passed by New Jersey Assembly in a Thursday afternoon vote. It picked up $10 million in funding for drug treatment earlier in the week when it was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

"Needle exchange programs have been proven to be an effective deterrent to the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases," Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts (D-Camden), who cosponsored the measure, told his colleagues. "New Jersey is alarmingly behind the curve of the vast majority of other states that have looked at the data and embraced needle-exchange strategies." Along with neighboring Delaware, New Jersey is one of only two states that neither have NEPS nor allow for the sale of syringes without a prescription.

The issue of NEPs has been festering for years in New Jersey, ever since then-Gov. Christine Whitman blocked legislation in the early 1990s. It finally came to a head earlier this year when the municipalities of Atlantic City and Camden voted to authorize NEPs in defiance of local prosecutors and the state attorney general, who successfully argued state law did not authorize such programs.

But it was the impending departure of Gov. McGreevey under a cloud of scandal that cleared the way. Without reelection worries, a McGreevey spokesperson told DRCNet last month, the governor could concentrate on "good policy, not good politics." Now, it is on to the New Jersey Senate.

To read the bill, A3256, "The Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act" online, go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us and type in the bill number.


10. Newsbrief: Protests Rise over Award as Thai Prime Minister Prepares for New Round of Drug War
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/thaksin.shtml

Led by the human rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch, more than 50 organizations have called for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be stripped of the "International Forgiveness Award" granted in September by an Italian group, the Istituzione Perdonanza Celestiniana. The Italian group granted Thaksin the award in recognition of the Thai government's official position that drug users are "patients, not criminals."

But while Thaksin talks the talk, he doesn't walk the walk. Last year, Thaksin presided over a murderous four-month campaign to suppress drug use in Thailand, resulting in the killings of at least 2,275 drug suspects, according to human rights observers. While official ire was directed at drug traffickers, drug users have been among the victims. They have also reported beatings, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention at the hands of Royal Thai Police, according to Human Rights Watch and local human rights organizations. Some have been forced to sign false confessions, while others have dropped out of treatment programs or gone into hiding out of fear of arrest of murder.

And last weekend, Thaksin was at it again, promising a new round in the anti-drug campaign that was supposed to make Thailand "drug free" by the end of last year. The next round would feature "brutal measures" against drug traffickers, the prime minister said Sunday. "Drug traffickers and dealers are heartless and wicked. All of them must be sent to meet the guardian of hell, so there will not be any drugs in the country."

"These latest developments mark a new low in Thai drug policy," said Brad Adams, executive director of the Human Rights Watch Asia Division. "Thaksin's approach to drug addiction merits disgust and condemnation, not forgiveness."

Thaksin has consistently resorted to violent rhetoric to stoke the war against drug users and traffickers. Just before last year's orgy of violence, Thaksin said, "Because drug traders are ruthless to our children, so being ruthless back to them is not a bad thing." Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, the interior minister at the time, said of drug traffickers, "They will be put behind bars or even vanish without a trace. Who cares? They are destroying our country." In August 2003, Thaksin ordered a "shoot to kill" policy against people suspected of smuggling methamphetamines into Thailand from neighboring Burma.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin sounds like a man who needs forgiveness, not a mean to be awarded a prize for forgiving drug users or dealers.

Read the letter of protest to the Istituzione Perdonanza Celestiniana and see the list of signatories at http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2004/10/04/thaila9441.htm online.

For more information on human rights in Thailand, visit http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=thaila online.

For more information on HIV/AIDS and human rights, visit http://www.hrw.org/doc/?t=hivaids&document_limit=0,2 online.


11. Newsbrief: Bolivia's Chapare Cocaleros Sign Historic Agreement with Government
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/cocaleros.shtml

At a Sunday meeting, representatives of the Bolivian government and coca growers (cocaleros) in the Chapare region signed an agreement permitting approximately 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of coca to be grown in the region this year. According to a report from the Andean Information Network (http://www.ain.org.bo), cocaleros in exchange agreed to voluntarily eradicate another 7,500 acres by the end of the year. Cocaleros also accepted coca eradication in two national parks in the area.

The accord comes after weeks of rising tensions in the zone that have left at least one cocalero dead and 30 wounded, along with at least seven wounded among Bolivian security forces, AIN reported. After nearly a year of quiet in the Chapare, conflict arose anew when cocaleros clashed with the Joint Task Force, the Bolivian government's combined police-military eradication unit. At a September 12 meeting, cocaleros voted to renew vigils around eradication camps and coca fields slated for eradication in an effort to block further destruction of their crops.

The Sunday accord should at least temporarily put a damper on further conflict in the Chapare. In the agreement, cocaleros agreed to end their vigils and work with the Joint Task Force to eliminate crops whose eradication has been agreed upon. In return, in addition to being allowed to grow coca this year, cocaleros won concessions from the government to improve alternative development programs and an agreement that a study of legal coca markets will be carried out within a year and will be used to determine future coca policy.

According to AIN, the agreement represents a "dramatic departure" from the "zero coca" option of totally suppressing production in the Chapare. AIN credits not only cocaleros and the Bolivian government, but also the US government, which has historically placed coca eradication at the crown of its Bolivia policy. The US Embassy did not reject the accord outright, instead emphasizing its eradication component, AIN noted approvingly: "This more strategic stance is in stark contrast to past blanket opposition to permitted coca production in the Chapare region, which had generated escalating levels of recurring conflict."


12. Newsbrief: DEA Pulls Prescription Pain Medicine FAQs Without Explanation
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/deapain.shtml

In a so-far unexplained move, the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Diversion Control Program has removed a set of frequently asked questions and responses designed to ease doctors' fears of persecution by the agency for prescribing opioid pain relievers (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/350/guidelines.shtml). In a quiet notice posted Wednesday, the agency announced that "the document contained misstatements and has therefore been removed from the DEA web site."

It is unclear what the DEA found wrong with the FAQ list. The FAQ, which was released in August, was a consensus statement produced by experts from the DEA, the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group, and Last Acts (http://www.lastacts.org), a national coalition of consumer and professional organizations working to improve end-of-life care through the use of palliative medicine and pain management techniques. The document was controversial within the pain activist community, some advocates from which felt it would further entrench a system in which law enforcers rather than doctors set medical standards.

That debate may now be moot. In its brief, terse statement, the agency said, "DEA wishes to emphasize that the document was not approved as an official statement of the agency and did not and does not have the force and effect of law."

Does this mean the DEA thinks it was too easy on physicians or too harsh? We don't know, but we will inquire and report next week.


13. Newsbrief: Hemp Crops in Western Australia Stymied By Licensing Requirements
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/wa.shtml

Since March, it has been legal to grow industrial hemp in the Australian state of Western Australia. The state's Industrial Hemp Act came into effect on March 19 (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/330/westernau.shtml), but no one is growing hemp because state authorities are refusing to grant licenses to potential hemp growers who have cannabis-related criminal records, the Perth Sunday Times reported this week.

The six-month-old law allows for the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp with a THC level of less than 0.35%. The low THC level mandate will guarantee that no one will enjoy psychoactive effects by ingesting the hemp in any manner.

According to the Sunday Times, Perth businessman Kim Hough, the proprietor of Hemp Resources, was poised to begin industrial hemp production, but his plans were halted when the Department of Agriculture rejected Hemp Resources' license application. Registrar of Hemp Mark Holland told the newspaper the application was rejected because two of Hemp Resources' directors and an associate had criminal convictions.

Under the Industrial Hemp Act, applicants with "serious" drug offenses cannot be granted a license. The convictions of the Hemp Resources people were "minor cannabis-related offenses," the Sunday Times reported. But Holland did not use the "serious" drug offense clause; instead, he rejected the application because Houghton and his crew "are not of good character and repute."

"The opportunities for misuse of that license (by Hemp Resources) are obvious," Holland wrote in rejecting the application. "Its grant would provide a cover for a person seeking to grow and sell cannabis, other than industrial hemp."

But, as Hough pointed out to the Sunday Times, Holland was merely displaying his lack of knowledge about cannabis. "Hemp and cannabis don't grow together like that. If there are any marijuana growers in the region, they're not going to like us because we'll be pollinating their plants with very low-THC hemp pollen which will ruin their cannabis crops."

Hough should know. He has admitted growing cannabis -- both the hemp and the recreational cultivars -- which, along with the cannabis offenses, make him suspect in the eyes of the Registrar of Hemp. Ironically, people like Hough, who because of their interest in cannabis have propelled the legalization of industrial hemp and know the most about cultivating industrial hemp, are being shut out.

Hough said it was absurd to let minor pot convictions block a legitimate, potentially profitable business. "We're putting together one of the most important agricultural projects in this state's history and we've been crippled," he said. "We can take it elsewhere, but it will cost this state millions of dollars in export earnings, revenue and jobs."

The Registrar of Hemp reported that he has granted only two licenses -- both to the Department of Agriculture for research purposes. When the hemp bill passed in March, Western Australian Green Party legislator Christine Sharpe told DRCNet passing the bill was only the beginning; that without government support, the industry would never get off the ground. At this point, it appears that the government of Western Australia is more interesting in obstructing than supporting the potential agricultural goldmine.


14. Newsbrief: Atlanta Cops Use Forfeited Funds to Buy Bigger Guns
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/atlanta.shtml

It's Christmas in October for the Atlanta Police Department. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the department is spending more than $545,000 in funds seized from drug suspects to replace its long-time workhorse pistol, the 9mm Smith & Wesson, with the more deadly 40-caliber Smith & Wesson. The Atlanta police, along with the Gwinnett and DeKalb County sheriff's departments are among the last police forces in Georgia to switch to the 40-caliber weapon, the newspaper reported.

The department is switching to the new weapon because it kills better. The "heavier bullet" in the 40-caliber "tends to penetrate deeper into the body to impact the organs deep in the body. This whole thing is about terminal ballistics," state firearms trainer Ernie Tobin told the Journal-Constitution. But, he added, there was "nothing wrong" with the old 9mm, calling it "an adequate pistol."

Atlanta police don't see that much combat. According to the department, the force's 1,530 officers discharged their weapons a total of 34 times lat year, including seven incidents where people were shot. During that same period, 17 officers were either "shot or shot at," police said. The cops were happy with their new toys, said Lt. Judy Smith, an assistant zone commander. "We hope [the equipment upgrade] will really help morale," Smith said, quickly noting that new equipment almost always provides a boost in job attitude.

But for some Atlanta police, it was a case of "give 'em a new gun and they want an armored personnel carrier." Bud Watson, head of the Police Benevolent Association, told the newspaper the new guns were "a step in the right direction." But the department shouldn't stop there, Watson said. The police union would also like "some other equipment upgrades. I think certain units need more sophisticated, more appropriate weapons to perform their jobs. SWAT, fugitive and narcotics units would be safer."


15. Newsbrief: No Asset Forfeiture for Misdemeanor Drug Charges, Tennessee Says
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/tennessee.shtml

For years, Tennessee law enforcement officers routinely seized the vehicles and other property of people possessing even small amounts of drugs. But a July 9 opinion by Attorney General Paul Summers has put a stop to that practice, and the law enforcement establishment is grumbling, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

In his July opinion, Summers found that "the mere presence of a misdemeanor amount of a controlled substance cannot trigger the seizure of a vehicle," nor can a forfeiture action start with "simple possession of a small amount of drugs or drug paraphernalia."

That opinion prompted Joe Bartlett, the attorney who runs the asset forfeiture program for the state Department of Safety, to complain to the News-Sentinel that it would cause an increase in low-level drug use. "I think we're going the wrong way," Bartlett said. "You're going to see a lot more use of misdemeanor amounts because their property won't be at risk."

While some big city police departments said the ban on seizing vehicles for misdemeanor drug cases would not make much difference because most of their seizures came in felony cases, one small town law man said the move would result in lesser drug fund revenues for small departments. "That's going to definitely cut into it quite a bit," said Alcoa Assistant Police Chief Ken Beeler.

One defense attorney contacted by the News-Sentinel said he feared law enforcement would try to get around the ban by charging people with felonies when they previously would have charged them with misdemeanors. "They could charge it as a felony and let everyone sort it out when they get to court," Ken Irvine said. But by then, he added, the property could have already been forfeited in a civil procedure.


16. Newsbrief: Texas DA Says Doctors Must Turn In Drug-Using Pregnant Women
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/texas.shtml

Citing a Texas statute passed last year that classifies fetuses as individuals, one Texas district attorney is threatening to prosecute doctors if they fail to tell authorities about illegal drug use by pregnant women. Rebecca King, district attorney for Potter and Armstrong counties in the Texas panhandle, sent a letter to Potter County physicians in September 2003, just after the law passed, warning them that they must "report a pregnant woman who is using or has used illegal narcotics during her pregnancy," according to the Dallas Morning News. She told the Morning News last week that she would prosecute doctors who failed to rat out their patients. King has already prosecuted two pregnant women under the law, she said.

But health care providers, women's rights groups, and even the anti-abortion group that pushed for the legislation and the legislator who sponsored it say King's interpretation of the law is not just wrong but also potentially damaging. State Sen. Ray Allen (R-Grand Prairie), the author of the bill, has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for an opinion clarifying the law's intent. That opinion is expected in January.

Dr. Moss Hampton, an Amarillo obstetrician and gynecologist who has practiced for 20 years, told the Morning News King's stance threatens the doctor-patient relationship. "I think it's a sticky wicket and it puts us in a very precarious position," said Moss, a member of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' executive council. "In confidentiality the patient tells us a lot of things they expect us not to tell anyone else. It puts a little more distrust into the system."

But King argued that laws protecting doctor-patient confidentiality must yield to the imperatives of protecting unborn children. "You don't have a privacy act when you break the law. I'm doing this because I believe the law mandates it," she said.

"When you enlist secret police then you are intentionally, deliberately and devastatingly undermining the very relationship needed to produce healthy children," said attorney Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org). "This interpretation of the law demonstrates absolute disregard for maternal and fetal health by frightening women away from getting the health care they need during pregnancy."

King scoffed at that argument. "It is a minimal percentage of women who have any prenatal care who we are looking at here," she said.

But the Texas Medical Association is among the organizations asking Attorney General Abbott to support Sen. Allen's contention that King is overreaching. So is Texas Right to Life, the state's largest anti-abortion organization. "Her interpretation is incomplete and erroneous," spokeswoman Stacey Emick told the Morning News. "When legislators work hard to spell something out, it's surprising to see someone take that and not accurately interpret the law."


17. Newsbrief: Another Killer Cop Walks Free
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/mattingly.shtml

Former Louisville police detective McKenzie Mattingly, 31, was acquitted of murder charges in the January 3rd killing of black Louisville teenager Michael Newby. Working an undercover drug buy operation, Mattingly shot Newby, 19, three times in the back as Newby attempted to flee after the pair scuffled.

Newby was the seventh black man killed by police since 1998, and protests over his death led to violent clashes between police and demonstrators five days after he was shot. Detective Mattingly became the first police officer charged in any of those killings. Louisville Police Chief Robert White also fired Mattingly from the force, charging that he had violated departmental policies in the killing.

During the trial, Mattingly testified that he feared for his life after he and Newby struggled over his service weapon and that he thought he had been shot. He hadn't. Witnesses agreed that Mattingly and Newby had scuffled and that Newby was trying to flee when he was shot. Newby was found to be carrying a pistol after he was shot, but according to police testimony, neither Mattingly nor his partner, Detective Matthew Thomerson, knew Newby was armed when Mattingly shot him. Thomerson testified that "at no point did I see a weapon or see him (Newby) make an aggressive movement other than when he was down on the ground and probably [sic] already been shot."

Louisville prosecutors undercut their own case by telling the jury during closing arguments that it should not find Mattingly guilty of murder, but instead convict him of a lesser charge, begging the question of why Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel charged Mattingly with murder if he did not intend to seek a conviction. "I do not think that is what he is guilty of," assistant prosecutor Scott Davis told the jury.

After eight hours of deliberations, jurors returned with a partial verdict of not guilty on the murder charge and hopelessly deadlocked on a lesser charge of wanton endangerment. Prosecutors have not announced whether they will seek a retrial on that count.

Newby's shooting sparked weeks of protests in Louisville, many led by the Rev. Louis Coleman, a civil rights activist who has led protests over the killing of other black men by police in the city. "It's business as usual," Coleman told the Louiville Courier-Journal.

"The message is clear. The police can act with impunity," Newby friend Philip Bailey, a university student, told the newspaper after the verdict was announced.

"There are murderers out here," said Newby's stepfather, Jerry Bouggess, as he left the courthouse.

See our earlier coverage at:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/319/threeshots.shtml
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/328/fallout.shtml
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/334/louisville.shtml

18. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/thisweek1.shtml

Drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption continues apace. This week's cases range from the silly to the subversive, with "good cops gone bad" breaking out all over the place. Without further ado:

* When a cop smokes dope, that's not necessarily corruption, just hypocrisy. When he smokes dope in the office, that's not necessarily corruption, either, just stupidity. But when he sits in his office and smokes dope that he stole from his own evidence room, that's hypocrisy, stupidity, and corruption. And that's what Weatherly, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Brian Cara found himself contemplating Wednesday. Cara was freed on his own recognizance, after being charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, obstruction of justice, and attempted obstruction of justice.

According to prosecutors quoted by the Associated Press, a grand jury had been hearing evidence for more than a year about strange goings-on with Chief Cara. Police officers reported that sealed evidence envelopes containing cocaine had been opened and resealed, with the cocaine having mysteriously disappeared. Two of Cara's officers told the grand jury Cara told them missing drugs could have exploded while inside the evidence locker. Police officers also reported smelling marijuana smoke inside the police department on numerous occasions, and that drugs and paraphernalia missing from the evidence locker had been spotted in Cara's desk.

In August, state drug agents installed a hidden video camera. They watched Cara smoke pot on duty nine times in one day and on numerous other occasions on succeeding days. The camera recorded Cara filling a pipe with marijuana and sticking it in his breast pocket before going out on control. When they raided Cara's office on August 4, they found his pipe and stash. Dude, you are so busted!

* Two Newark, New Jersey, police officers were indicted October 1 in an ongoing investigation of corruption in the Newark Police Department. They are among six Newark cops named last week by a fellow officer as he pleaded guilty to working with them over a two-year period to enrich themselves by stealing from alleged drug dealers, the New York Times reported. Officers Lawrence Furlow, 44, and Darius Smith, 33, face numerous charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and theft. Furlow faces 25 years in prison, while Smith faces 30 years. Both have been suspended from the force. They were named by former officer Tyrone Dudley during his guilty plea September 23. Dudley told the court Furlow, Smith, and other officers robbed drug dealers, planted drugs on innocent parties, lied to obtain search warrants, and lied in official reports to cover up their thefts. The activity took place from December 2002 to March 2004.

Such thefts under official color took place at least a dozen times, prosecutors said. In one case detailed by Dudley, the thieving cops went to a Newark apartment building where they knew a drug seller was in business. They grabbed a man who knew the drug dealer, planted heroin on him, then threatened to arrest him if he did not help them get into the dealer's apartment, investigators said. When the dealer opened his door, the cops rushed in and seized money and drugs, which they did not report. They later claimed they had probable cause to enter the apartment because they had seen drugs in plain view when the dealer opened the door. Two drug cases have been dropped so far because of the scandal, said Essex County prosecutors, and more could follow.

* A Tennessee drug task force member was arrested October 1 and charged with felony theft after being accused of ripping off task force funds. Cpl. Jeff Tabor of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department and the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force had admitted to taking $888.61 out of the task force drug buy fund for personal use, the Johnson City Press reported. He approached his superiors in a bid to pay back the money, but instead was suspended in September and then arrested and charged last week.

* In Baltimore, two detectives were suspended and placed under departmental investigation for perjury after searching a suspect's car without a search warrant and lying about when they obtained one. Detectives Clarence Grear and Kevin Jones were suspended August 20, after a complaint by Antoine Collins, whose car was searched. In a report written the day after the search, Grear wrote that the car was searched on July 20, after a warrant had been procured. But the Baltimore Sun investigated and found the car had been towed by police the day before and searched immediately. Baltimore prosecutors have dismissed some cases where Grear and Jones are key witnesses and are postponing others in an effort to find other witnesses who could salvage the prosecutions. If the investigation shows that Grear and Jones are lying about the search warrant, their credibility in every case in which they have been involved will be challenged, defense attorneys and prosecutors told the Sun.


19. This Week in History
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/thisweek2.shtml

October 8, 1932: The Uniform State Narcotics Act is passed, endorsed by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics as an alternative to Federal laws. By 1937 every State prohibits marijuana use.

October 12, 1984: The passage of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act establishes the first Federal "mandatory minimum" sentencing guidelines, eliminating most judicial discretion in handing down prison terms. Over the following two years drug sentences increase by 71% nationwide.

October 13, 1999: In a series of raids named "Operation Millennium," law enforcement in Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador arrest 31 persons for drug trafficking, including Fabio Ochoa. Ochoa is indicted in a Ft. Lauderdale court for importing cocaine into the US, which requests his extradition in December.

October 13, 1999: New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is quoted in the Boston Globe saying, "Make drugs a controlled substance like alcohol. Legalize it, control it, regulate it, tax it. If you legalize it, we might actually have a healthier society."

October 14, 1970: President Nixon spearheads the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), legislation establishing today's "schedules" as a means of classifying drugs by their medical value and potential for abuse.

October 14, 2003: At Emory University Law School, former President Jimmy Carter says, "All three of my boys smoked pot. I knew it. But I also knew if one was caught he would never go to prison. But if any of my [black] neighbors got caught, they would go to prison for ten, twelve years. No law school has had the temerity to look at what is fundamentally wrong with our legal system, which discriminates against the poor."


20. Administrative Assistant: Part-Time Job Opportunity at DRCNet
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/assistant.shtml

DRCNet is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant to work with the Executive and Associate Directors and the Member Coordinator. The Administrative Assistant will assist with all manner of clerical and administrative tasks.

Applicants should be experienced in using e-mail, Microsoft Word and Excel, filing, and other typical office duties, and must have a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. The ability to deal competently on the phone on issues such as billing and ordering of supplies and other items is a plus, as is enthusiasm for the cause of drug policy reform.

Applicants should be able to work in the office 10-20 hours per week, between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm, preferably including some hours on all or most weekdays. Within those constraints, we will show flexibility and work with the right applicant to find a mutually workable schedule. College students are encouraged to apply. The job will last from now through the end of the year, and is likely to be renewed in 2005 as well. Starting pay is $10/hour, negotiable for the right candidate.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume via e-mail, fax, or mail to: David Guard, Associate Director, DRCNet, 1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009, fax: (202) 293-8344, e-mail: [email protected].


21. The Reformer's Calendar
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/357/calendar.shtml

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 14-15, 8:00am, Cordoba, Argentina, "Sixth National Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Days." Sponsored by the Argentine Harm Reduction Association (ARDA), at the Auditoria de Radio Nacional, Av. General Paz 293. For further information, e-mail [email protected].

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 17, 2:00pm, Atlanta, GA, Benefit for Georgians Opposed to Prohibition, featuring music, speakers, food, more. At SWITCH International Artist Guild, 845 Memorial Drive, admission $10, call (404) 522-2267 or visit http://www.goplobby.org for info.

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 21, 9:00pm-4:00am, New York, NY, book party for "Under the Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs," edited by Preston Peet of DrugWar.com. At Uncle Ming's, 225 Avenue B, 2nd Floor (between 13th and 14th Sts.), featuring music by Peet and DJ Ness, admission free. Visit http://www.drugwar.com/utireleaseparty.shtm for further information.

October 23, 10:00am-2:00pm, New Haven, CT, "The War on Drugs: Changing Policies?" Panel and debate, sponsored by People Against Injustice. At New Haven Public Library, Community Room, 133 Elm Street, contact Barbara Fair at (203) 503-3290 or e-mail [email protected] 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.

March 10-12, 2005, Silver Spring, MD, Families Against Mandatory Minimums National Conference. Details to be announced, visit http://www.famm.org or contact (202) 822-6700 or [email protected] for updates.

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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