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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #358, 10/15/04

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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    Three short weeks from now, voters in the United States will make a choice affecting the nation's course for decades to come. Regardless of their political affiliations or views on other issues, DRCNet's diverse supporters all agree on this much: The drug war is a moral and humanitarian crisis harming countless people around the world and which has failed to achieve its goals.
    An uncommunicative DEA has left more questions remaining than answers about the mysterious case of the vanishing "PRESCRIPTION PAIN MEDICATIONS: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals and Law Enforcement Personnel."
    Montana's medical marijuana initiative appears headed for victory on November 2, but organizers are taking no chances.
    Backers of the 1998 Oregon Medical Marijuana Act have successfully petitioned to place a new medical marijuana measure on the ballot. They are gearing up for a tough fight, and they have help.
    In addition to the medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot in Oregon and Montana, voters in an ABC of college towns will have the opportunity to approve of local initiatives on Election Day.
    Three authors challenge the conventional wisdom of opium in China as a national disaster. Another explores poppy culture in the United States.
    Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards Monday used a conference call with Midwest reporters to try to make methamphetamine use and manufacture an issue in the presidential campaign.
    With a notice in the Federal Register on September 29, the DEA issued a "final rule" placing the psychedelic typtamines AMT and Foxy Methoxy in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The final rule makes permanent the temporary scheduling that took effect last year.
    Congress voted last Saturday to allow the number of US military personnel in Colombia to double in the coming months.
    Inspired by recent pronouncements by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the Bush administration is working on a "master plan" modeled on Plan Colombia to deal with Afghan opium production, a leading European drug policy think tank has urged the US to think again.
    The ghosts of prohibition past continue to stir: At least one miniscule and aging political party and one independent congressional candidate are calling this year for a return to alcohol prohibition.
    The corruption beat goes on: A former Kansas City police sergeant pleads guilty to bilking the federal government of tens of thousands of dollars, a New York City detective is jailed for robbing drug dealers, and that's not all.
    Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.
    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.
    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. A Message from the Executive Director on What DRCNet is Planning After Election Day and Why We Need Your Help

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 10/15/04

David Borden
Three short weeks from now, voters in the United States will make a choice affecting the nation's course for decades to come. DRCNet readers span a wide range of the political spectrum -- Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, independents, none-of-the-aboves -- but all of us agree on this much: The drug war is a moral and humanitarian crisis harming countless people around the world and which has failed to achieve its goals.

Between now and Election Day, roughly 80,000 people will be arrested for nonviolent drug offenses in that war. And whatever the election's outcome, it is certain that US drug policy will not change for the better on its own. Only continuing efforts by individuals like you, and organizations like DRCNet representing the cause for you in Washington, can make that happen.

That's why I'm asking you to make a generous donation to DRCNet to ensure our ability to continue our programs through the end of the year and to hit the ground running when a new Congress comes to Washington next year. Please visit to support DRCNet and the cause of drug policy reform in 2005!

Some background about our work your donation will support:

  • Your donation will support our acclaimed newsletter, Drug War Chronicle. (Visit to check it out if you're not already a subscriber.) Drug War Chronicle is the leading intellectual publication on the drug war, an in-depth weekly online newsletter covering the full range of drug policy issues and the reform movement. Drug War Chronicle is read by reporters; is used by advocates to empower their speeches and editorials; is a force for bringing new people into the issue and getting them involved in all the good work being done by organizations in the movement, and for forming new organizations.
  • Your donation will support the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reform Campaign, our effort to repeal a law that delays or denies college aid eligibility to students because of drug convictions, our movement's best chance to repeal a federal drug law in more than 30 years. We are currently organizing coalitions in 10 states around the country, and our efforts have garnered recent coverage in the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Boston Herald, the Indianapolis Star, and many other outlets.
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  • Your donation will support our work making the case for an end not only to the drug war but to prohibition itself. (Look for an announcement next month in this area too.)
Donate $30 or more, and you will be eligible to receive our new travel mug. We also continue to offer a range of books, other items like t-shirts and mousepads, and of course the hit video "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters." Feel free to select any or all with a donation of an appropriate size! Donations made to our 501(c)(3) organization, DRCNet Foundation, are tax-deductible too. (Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which support our lobbying work, are not deductible.)

So visit to donate to DRCNet today! You can also donate by mail, at P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Thank you for your support, and please free to write me with any questions or comments.

2. Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Amazing Vanishing DEA Pain FAQ

Last week, DRCNet reported briefly on the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Diversion Control Program's sudden decision to remove a list of questions and answers about proper pain management care from its web site ( We vowed then to dig deeper, but with the DEA uncommunicative, a week later more questions remain than answers about the mysterious case of the vanishing "PRESCRIPTION PAIN MEDICATIONS: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals and Law Enforcement Personnel."

Siobhan Reynolds, Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz,
at a September 17, 2004 Congressional Briefing convened by
the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
(photo courtesy Pain Relief Network)
While some doctors and pain patients' advocates criticized the DEA pain FAQ when it was posted in August (, they acknowledged groups were at least attempting to move the pain situation in the right direction. The FAQ was the end-product of a years-long collaborative effort between the DEA and academic pain specialists and was designed to lay out for health care professionals and drug enforcers alike how doctors could prescribe opioid pain relievers such as morphine or Oxycontin without running afoul of the law.

In recent years, hundreds of doctors have been prosecuted by state or federal authorities or sanctioned by state medical control boards for prescribing practices that are within accepted medical practice but are deemed "suspicious" by the DEA or local law enforcement. This crackdown on "drug diversion" promises to grow even more intense as the White House takes aim at prescription drug abuse, but it also comes at a time when nearly 50 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain.

With great hoopla, the DEA unveiled the pain FAQ two months ago. In an August 11 press release trumpeting its publication, DEA administrator Karen Tandy hailed it as a model of collaboration and balance. "The medical and law enforcement communities continue to work together to carefully balance the needs of legitimate patients for pain medications against the equally compelling need to protect the public from the risk of addiction and even possible death from these medications," said Tandy. "We look forward to continuing this successful partnership. The DEA is committed to assisting the overwhelming majority of health care providers who successfully strike that balance every day, as well as the law enforcement officers investigating diversion and abuse of pain medications."

But October 6, the agency was singing a different tune. "The document contained misstatements and has therefore been removed from the DEA web site," read a terse notice posted that day. "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."

When DRCNet contacted the DEA this week seeking an explanation, there was none. When asked what the misstatements were and why the DEA now says the pain FAQ was not approved as an official statement after it posted it on its web site, DEA spokesman William Grant replied only that "they are coming up with some new changes, hopefully within the next week or so." Any further information would have to be requested via e-mail. DRCNet has done that. We are awaiting a reply.

The consensus pain FAQ was produced by experts from the DEA, the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group, and Last Acts (, 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. Last Acts and the DEA signed an earlier consensus statement stressing the need for "balance" between law enforcement's demand to prevent drug abuse and diversion and the medical imperative to treat the sick in 2001.

Last Acts did not return DRCNet calls for more information, but the Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group pronounced itself mystified by the sudden disappearance. "This was the product of months of effort," said Aaron Gilson, the group's assistant director. "Pain management experts and addiction medicine experts and pharmacologists and pharmacists wrote the sections on pain, while the DEA wrote the sections on the regulatory aspect. Then we switched and each group commented on the other side. There was a strong consensus about the accuracy of the messages contained in that document," Gilson told DRCNet.

As for yanking the pain FAQ, Gilson could only say, "We know nothing more than what the DEA has said. The message says the document contains misstatements, but we don't know what they are. The DEA did not tell us this was coming."

But despite the sudden, unannounced move undoing months of work on the pain FAQ, Gilson held out hope that academics could continue to work with the DEA on addressing the crisis in pain management. "It is important to realize that their statement makes it clear that they aren't backing away from supporting appropriate use for pain relief, but just evaluating this document," he said.

Other observers are less charitable toward the DEA -- and the academics who have tried to work with the agency. "Perhaps when they see their good faith efforts turning to dust like this, academic medicine will start to realize it has been used by the DEA," said Siobhan Reynolds, executive director of the Pain Relief Network (, an advocacy group for pain patients and the doctors who seek to treat them. "Any doctor or scientist who would continue to work with the DEA after the doctors charged and dragged through the mud, the harassment of patients, and now this -- they do not represent the interests of patients in this country. At some point, these people have to wake up and smell the coffee."

The University of Wisconsin Pain Policy Group's Gilson disagreed that working with DEA was a waste of time. He argued the agency was indeed involved in a good faith effort to resolve concerns about drug diversion while at the same time protecting the rights of patients to adequate pain treatment. "It was the DEA who approached us about this issue," he said. "They were receiving reports that physicians were afraid of being investigated or prosecuted by the DEA, and they wanted to create a document that would help both health care professionals and law enforcement understand what is the appropriate use of these drugs."

Gilson said his organization would continue to work under the assumption that the removal of the FAQ was an "anomaly" and DEA sincerely wants to provide guidance for physicians to help them avoid prosecution. Still, said Gilson, he understood why some are skeptical. "There is criticism coming from doctors who have been investigated or prosecuted, and some of those prosecutions were ill-founded and without any probable cause. That deserves an angry response," he said. That is why the group's work with the DEA is so important, he added. "This is why we saw the pain FAQ as such an important resource. If both law enforcement and the health field begin to understand the principles of pain management, we see that as a win-win. Enforcers will understand what is behind what appears to be suspicious prescribing, and we will see less of those unsupported cases."

The vanishing pain FAQ illustrates that the DEA doesn't really know what it is doing, said Reynolds. "This just shows that the DEA doesn't even know what its own expectations of physicians are," she said. "If the DEA doesn't know, how in the world are doctors supposed to know? Look, the problem I had with the FAQ was that these are medical, not criminal, issues, and it was created in the context of the criminal law. But its content clearly expressed the ambiguity and difficulty of pain treatment, especially with people who may be addicted or criminals. The FAQ made clear that just because a doctor treats such a person, it doesn't mean he is a criminal. And now that is gone."

University of North Florida political scientist Dr. Ronald Libby, who is penning a book on the clash between the imperatives of law enforcement and those of medicine, suggested more sinister motives for the removal of the pain FAQ. "There is speculation that this is tied to some high-profile cases being tried soon," Libby said, pointing to the looming prosecutions of well-known Northern Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz and the retrial of Southwest Virginia pain specialist Dr. Cecil Knox.

"In the pain FAQ, there is a section that basically says prosecutors need to establish criminal intent by doctors," Libby told DRCNet. "But prosecutors can't do that in these cases. Instead, they work backward from the patients. They may be legitimate pain patients, but they might also sell drugs. The DEA and prosecutors will try to work backward, to infer the guilt of the doctor from the behavior of the patients, but that is not the same as proving criminal intent," Libby argued.

"By removing the pain FAQ, the DEA was basically responding to the needs of prosecutors in these cases," Libby said. "This appears to be a direct response to the defense position taken in the Hurwitz case. Hurwitz' attorney, Eli Stutsman, specifically referenced that FAQ in his brief, and now it's gone. This should be an embarrassment to the DEA and the prosecutors."

If they have any shame, perhaps. But whether or not the feds are embarrassed, Libby called foul on the removal of the FAQ. "It is just plain duplicitous," he said. "It basically lowers the bar for getting criminal convictions by holding the doctor responsible for anything his patients do, and it does so in a very timely fashion for prosecutors."

"The DEA is an agency out of control," said Reynolds, "and they've now gotten themselves into a terrible crisis. They've been essentially running illegal prosecutions and regulating medicine through intimidation. This is all an artifact of a century-long power grab by the enforcers into the regulation of medicine. While we have been in a showdown between the DEA and medicine in recent years, medicine keeps losing because the other guys have the guns. But the DEA's room for maneuver is getting tighter and tighter."

There need to be congressional hearings on the DEA, said Reynolds -- that's right, said Libby. "We haven't had DEA hearings in more than 10 years," he said. "It is past time to bring their activities to public attention and hold them accountable for what they have been doing."

3. Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative Appears Headed for Victory

Initiative 148 (I-148), the Montana medical marijuana initiative, appears headed for victory on November 2, but organizers are taking no chances. A poll commissioned by the newspaper the Missoulian two weeks ago has the measure winning by two-to-one, with 58% supporting and 29% opposed ( Still, with just under three weeks until Election Day and the deputy drug czar dropping in to speak out against I-148, the Medical Marijuana Policy Project of Montana, or MMPPM ( rolled out a series of television ads Monday designed to solidify what looks to be overwhelming public support for the measure.

activists demonstrate at the
Montana drug czar's anti-medical
marijuana press conference
(courtesy Montana Cares)
"Things are looking good, especially with those polling numbers," said MMPPM treasurer and initiative point-man Paul Befumo. "Everyone I talk to seems to view the initiative favorably, but I'm still working as hard as I can. Now, we have the TV ads that just started running, and we'll be airing those until election day on TV and radio."

The Montana Medical Marijuana Act, as the initiative is also known, would set up a registry for patients and caregivers who suffer from a broad range of "qualifying conditions," including, but not limited to, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, chronic nausea, wasting syndrome, muscle spasms, and seizures. Registered cardholders would not be subject to arrest for possessing or growing marijuana for their medical conditions, but the limits are set at a relatively low six plants and one ounce of marijuana.

The initiative's language makes clear that it does not allow for driving under the influence or for smoking in schools, prisons and jails, or workplaces where the employer objects. Neither will government or private health programs be forced to reimburse patients for medical marijuana costs.

That is too much for Office of National Drug Control Policy ( deputy director for state and local affairs Scott Burns, who was in Montana last week ostensibly to talk about methamphetamine. "I cannot tell anyone how to vote," Burns said at an October news conference in Billings. He then proceeded to tell people how to vote -- against I-148. "This is a con by people who want people to legalize marijuana in this state," Burns said. "They always start with the medical marijuana issue."

While MMPPM has had no problem producing suffering patients who benefit from marijuana use, such as Missoula's Robin Prosser, whose prosecution by local authorities is now on hold, Burns denied that his opposition meant he didn't care about sick people. "It's not about that," Burns said. "It's about our children," he added, trotting out the repeatedly debunked canards about the number of teenagers in treatment for marijuana use. "The marijuana problem is a national problem," he argued. "We don't need more marijuana available to our children."

Burns also warned that whatever Montana voters decide, marijuana use would still be illegal under federal law. There would be "no safe harbor" for medical use, he said. "If this initiative passes, the DEA is not going away. It is still illegal in the US to possess marijuana."

"Burns is difficult to deal with because he sneaks in and out, I think for obvious reasons," said an exasperated Befumo. "He comes in and makes these outrageous statements, and we just respond. But here comes the federal government interfering in our election and they don't follow Montana laws and they don't file campaign statements."

While Befumo and MMPPM have had to deal with Burns, they have not had serious in-state opposition. "We have seen no opposition from any of the county attorneys, although the governor came out and opposed the initiative, which is her right," said Befumo. "But she is misinformed. She said there is no good medical support for marijuana as medicine, but she obviously hasn't reviewed the literature. Whoever is responsible for informing her on this issue fell down on the job."

But if in-state opponents are not well-organized, they do exist. Roger Curtiss, director of alcohol and drug services for the city of Anaconda and Deer Lodge County, told DRCNet he was opposing I-148. "I work in addiction services, I've seen the lives ruined by drugs, and I can't support prescription pot," he said. "I've got to say wait a second."

Curtiss fears that medical marijuana is a stalking horse for legalization, he said. "What is the next step? If it becomes legal medicinally, what then?" he asked. "Is this opening the door to looking at our drug laws in general?"

Despite the opposition of Curtiss and the drug czar's office, Befumo is confident that Montanans understand the issue and will support the measure. "This is a fairly conservative state with a libertarian streak, but my experience has been that there are so many people who have been affected by cancer or other serious illness, whether themselves or because of a family member, that this cuts across party and ideological lines," he explained. "This measure will keep people who are suffering from debilitating illnesses and who are using marijuana with their doctors' support from being prosecuted and jailed. Montanans understand that. If there is a medication that will help people, they want it and they don't want people to go to jail for it."

4. Second Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Tough Fight in Oregon

In 1998, Oregon voters approved the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Since then, more than 12,000 patients have registered with the state, but activists complain that the current law is too restrictive and ends up leaving too many patients forced to resort to the black market to get their medicine. To address those problems with the law as it actually works, backers successfully petitioned to place the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act II (OMMA2) on the November ballot. Now known officially as Measure 33, the ground-breaking initiative would make a number of changes to the existing medical marijuana law, including:

  • Directing the state to conduct scientific research into marijuana as a medicine.
  • Lowering the annual application fee from $150 to $20.
  • Allowing naturopaths and nurse-practitioners to recommend medical marijuana. Under current law, only doctors and osteopaths can make such recommendations.
  • Increasing the amount of marijuana a patient or caregiver can possess. Under current law, patients or designated caregivers can possess three mature plants and up to three ounces of smokeable marijuana. Measure 33 would allow for up to 10 mature plants and one pound of marijuana at any given time. It also includes a provision allowing patients to possess up to six pounds immediately after harvest if they are growing only one crop per year.
  • Requiring the state to license nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries. If no dispensary is licensed in any county with more than six registered patients, the county health department would be required to operate a dispensary under state license. The dispensaries would be subject to record-keeping requirements and would have to pay a fraction of their gross revenue to the state medical marijuana program. Dispensaries would also be required to provide medical marijuana to indigent patients for free.

"The biggest problem with the status quo is that qualified patients are having a hard time obtaining their medicine," said John Sajo, executive director of Voter Power (, which, along with the political action committee Life With Dignity, leads the "Yes on 33" ( campaign. "It remains illegal to sell marijuana in Oregon, even to qualified patients, and many of these people are disabled or dying and unable to produce their own," he told DRCNet.

Measure 33 would address those deficiencies, Sajo said. "It will create a system of nonprofit dispensaries regulated by the Department of Health where patients can obtain their marijuana in a safe environment," he explained. "It will also increase the limits on how many plants and how much marijuana patients can possess so that those limits will be in line with what patients actually require. That decision should be made by patients and doctors, not state or federal bureaucrats."

Madeline Martinez is one of the people who would benefit from the changes. The former California corrections officer was forced to retire when she developed degenerative disk and joint disease." I had smoked when I was young, but I got married, had a family, and all of that," she said. "I was in my 40s when my back starting going. I was using harsh pharmaceuticals and I was tired of being in a drug-induced stupor, so I thought I would try pot," she told DRCNet. It worked wonders, she said, allowing her to maintain her quality of life without suffering the stomach irritation opioid pain relievers caused her.

Under the current medical marijuana law, the trouble is getting your medicine, she said. "I've become an expert grower, but what if I have a crop that doesn't produce or gets attacked by bugs? Where do I go?" she asked.

Because of her illness and the fact that the substance that helps her is marijuana, Martinez trajectory has been from prison guard to executive director of the Oregon chapter of the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( She is using that position to campaign for Measure 33. "We've endorsed the initiative," she said. "The current law just isn't working well enough. We'll be doing what we can. We will be out there fighting for patient's rights," she said.

With its mandate for state-regulated dispensaries, Measure 33 will push the envelope on medical marijuana policy, and proponents understand they are in a tough fight, even in a state where voters approved medical marijuana six years ago. A poll sponsored by the Oregonian newspaper at the end of September found the measure opposed by 52% of voters and supported by only 34%.

Still, supporters are prepared to slug it out in the final weeks of the campaign and remain cautiously optimistic that they can prevail. "It looks like a real horse race," said Sajo, who conceded that the measure appeared to be trailing in recent polls but pointed out that the campaign had really barely begun. "It's really a question of how well we get our message out," Sajo told DRCNet. "After voters are exposed to the arguments on both sides, support for the measure gains dramatically. Voters know we have a medical marijuana law on the books, but they are not aware that qualified patients are having a hard time getting a supply."

The hopes of Measure 33 supporters will only be bolstered by a late infusion of cash from the Marijuana Policy Project ( to blanket the state with television ads from now through Election Day. "We have put significant resources into the TV campaign in Oregon," MPP communications director Bruce Mirken said, before adding, "We've put a lot into the TV campaigns in Alaska and Montana, too." Those ads, featuring seriously ill patients supporting Measure 33, began running this week.

"The ads are running now," said Sajo, "and we certainly are grateful to MPP for the help. Given the polling showing we need to get our message out, we think the TV ads are critical. We have one showing a patient paralyzed from the neck down talking about how he can't produce his own medicine. That's powerful stuff."

The fresh funds and the ads they will buy come just in time, because even though initiative organizers report no organized opposition to the measure, it does have its opponents, including some unexpected ones. That conservative medical organizations oppose medical marijuana is hardly a surprise, and the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) has gone on record opposing Measure 33. In a one-sided statement issued last month that mentioned only medical marijuana negatives, the OMA urged voters to vote no "because it is first a thinly disguised effort to legalize the use of marijuana without any medically scientific justification."

Similarly, some Oregon district attorneys and law enforcement officers have created an informal "no on 33" campaign. "It's nothing formal," said Washington County District Attorney Mitch Lampson, who has taken on initiative organizers in debates on the topic. According to Lampson, although the Oregon District Attorneys Association has come out against the initiative,Oregon DAs are not opposed to medical marijuana, but think Measure 33 goes too far. "People need to understand that the District Attorneys Association is not taking a position against medical marijuana," he told DRCNet. "We have medical marijuana on the books, and while it's not perfect, it works." Perhaps some changes are necessary, Lampson conceded, "but the changes proposed in Measure 33 are not tweaking the system, they would basically throw out the old system."

Lampson also followed the OMA's lead in describing the measure as a stalking horse for outright legalization. "The sponsors of the measure are on record saying their goal is to legalize marijuana, but they're doing it under the guise of medicine and on the backs of sick people," he said. "Don't try to pool the wool over voters' eyes," Lampson said. "If your goal is to legalize marijuana, do it straightforwardly."

Opposition is also coming from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (, though the drug czar and his underlings are careful to say they are not campaigning against the measure -- they are only responding to inquiries. Last month, drug czar John Walters told the Associated Press the measure was an attempt to legalize marijuana in Oregon and that its backers are perpetrating a "fraud" on Oregon voters. "People are being played for suckers, Walters said. "Their compassion for sick people is being used to do something that is destructive for the state. We do not intend to let any part of the United States become a safe haven for drug trafficking," he warned, without specifying what his office would do. Last week, Walters replayed those lines during a brief visit to Portland and Salem.

Given the Bush administration's record of attacks on medical marijuana dispensaries next door in California, the implications of Walters' threats are both obvious and ominous. The specter of potential federal attention and repression has led to defections within the ranks of medical marijuana supporters, most notably in the case of Stormy Ray (, the 48-year-old, wheelchair-bound Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who was the poster child for the successful 1998 Oregon medical marijuana initiative. In op-eds, widely distributed e-mails, and an essay in the official voters' pamphlet, Ray comes out against Measure 33. Not only would the measure bring down the feds on the state's medical marijuana patients, Ray said, it would also allow criminals to grow and could even "turn our program over to the black market," she warned. "We could even lose our medical marijuana program."

"We think that's a silly argument," Sajo retorted. "While there has been some federal action in California, there are still dozens of dispensaries operating. But we do believe the federal government is wrong, and we think it is our duty as citizens to challenge the federal government. We can predict there will be conflict, but in the end we will prevail."

The initiative was drafted with a leery eye on the feds, Sajo said. "We have nothing in our initiative that would involve commerce between the states. We drafted it to withstand court challenges over conflicts with federal law. If it goes to court, we will win it court," he predicted. "There is no reason to think the feds are going to come in and start arresting patients if we win at the polls. That is a bogus reason for opposing Measure 33," he said.

Neither are Stormy Ray's other criticisms valid, Sajo argued. The initiative allows the state health department to craft administrative rules to block the taint of the black market, and requires scrupulous record-keeping. And the higher limits specified are in line with what patients need, he said. "Stormy Ray knows better. I was her caregiver, and I had to provide her with more than 10 pounds a year," he said.

With little more than two weeks until the election, the race is on. "It's going to come down to the wire," said Sajo. "The TV ads are running. We continue to do our aggressive grassroots campaigns. We're hoping for a big turnout among young voters." In a battleground state like Oregon, turnout should be high. The same poll that showed Measure 33 losing at the end of September showed Kerry and Bush in a dead heat.

5. Medical Marijuana on the Local Ballot in Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Columbia

In addition to the medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot in Oregon and Montana, voters in an ABC of college towns -- Ann Arbor, Michigan; Berkeley, California; and Columbia, Missouri -- will have the opportunity to approve of local initiatives on Election Day. A similar measure cruised to success in Detroit in August, while efforts to get on the ballot in Minneapolis were thwarted by a recalcitrant city council.

In Ann Arbor, where simple pot possession was made a ticketable offense in 1968, the Ann Arbor Medical Marijuana Act ( would establish an affirmative defense for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Fines and all other costs would be waived for persons presenting such a defense. The measure also mandates "no incarceration, probation, nor any other punitive or rehabilitative measure" for qualified patients.

Under the initiative, medical marijuana patients would not join a registry, but could offer a doctors' recommendation as proof of medical use in the event they are ticketed. Such a defense could be offered any time until the fine is levied.

The Ann Arbor Medical Marijuana Act effort is being spearheaded by Washtenaw Coalition for Compassionate Care and Scio Township Trustee Charles Ream, 57, a former kindergarten teacher who began using the herb medicinally as a college student. "It was only after a friend gave me cannabis joints to smoke that I managed to take control of my life again," he told the university newspaper the Michigan Daily. The initiative, Ream said, is a chance for Ann Arbor to "send a big message that we want to help patients here, and that it is foolishness that marijuana is not available to sick people."

Although the initiative is a local affair, it has drawn the opposition of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), who sent a letter to the city council making clear that she does not approve of medical marijuana. In her letter, Granholm warned that it would still be illegal to use, possess, or sell marijuana under state and federal law.

Such interference just raised Reams' hackles. In a written response to Granholm, Reams bluntly noted that "Ann Arbor voters don't like it when you tell them that their vote will be ignored."

In Berkeley, the Patients Access to Medical Cannabis Act ( would replace the city's current 10-plant medical marijuana limit with an amount to be determined by each patient's needs, as set by the patient and his or her doctor. The act also calls on the city to take up medical marijuana distribution itself in the event that federal raids close the four private medical marijuana dispensaries currently serving the city.

In addition, the act would officially recognize caregiver/grower collectives as necessary to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients who are unable to grown their own. "Qualified patients may join together with or without their primary caregivers to form medical cannabis collectives for the purpose of acquiring or cultivating and manufacturing medical cannabis solely for the personal medical use of the members who are qualified patients," the initiative language reads.

And in Columbia, home of the University of Missouri, medical marijuana is one of two marijuana-related issues on the November ballot. (The other would make simple possession a municipal -- not state -- offense punishable only by a fine). Sponsored by the Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education (CAPE) with the help of Missouri NORML, the Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative (Proposition 1) would amend the city code so that "adults who obtain and use marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia for medical purposes pursuant to the recommendation of a physician shall not be subject to any arrest, prosecution, punishment, or sanction."

While no polling has been done, "it's looking pretty good," said Dan Viets, an attorney active with Missouri NORML and a national NORML board member. "We are pleased to have gotten an endorsement from the League of Women Voters, and the local graduate student organization has also endorsed the measures," he told DRCNet. "Thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project, we will be able to do a media campaign in the last 10 days with substantial newspaper and radio advertising and a couple of direct mailings."

While this is the first time around for a medical marijuana initiative in Columbia, it will be the second shot at reducing the penalties for marijuana possession, which is on the ballot as Proposition 2. Last time around, it was defeated by 60% to 40%.

Viets reported no organized opposition, although he did say the police chief would speak against it if anyone asked him.

6. DRCNet Book Review: "Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China" by Frank Dikotter, Lars Laaman and Zhou Xun (Oxford University Press, $35.00 HB) and "Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon" by Barbara Hodgson (Greystone Press, $14.95 PB)

We all know the story of opium in China: how greedy British traders forced the fruit of the poppy down China's throat and enslaved a nation. It is a quintessential tale of imperialism, a narrative that served as a rallying cry for moralist American missionaries and Chinese nationalists alike. But according to Frank Dikotter and his co-authors in "Narcotic Culture," the accepted wisdom about opium in China is fiction.

In a stunning revisionist history of Chinese opium use and the efforts to eradicate it, Dikotter and colleagues systematically debunk not only the historiography of drugs in China but also the founding myths of drug prohibition. Lest we forget, it was the Chinese opium "problem" that fueled the first, early 20th Century efforts to enact a global prohibition regime, a regime that is not only with us to this day, but has only grown stronger and more punitive, even as it becomes hidebound and brittle.

Contrary to the received wisdom, says Dikotter, China had a long and relatively healthy relationship with opium, one that dates back centuries before the appearance of the foreign devils bearing shiploads of Indian opium toward Chinese shores. The drug was used widely -- universally, if ritual ceremonial use is included -- with few ill effects to relieve pain and mask the symptoms of physical ailments for which contemporary medicine had no cure. In fact, says Dikotter, China had evolved an "opium culture" in which the use of the drug was tolerated and took place within constraints that prevented excessive use.

"Narcotic Culture" is a myth-buster, debunking long-held assumptions and quasi-racist stereotypes as it proceeds. In just one example, Dikotter examines the portrayal of opium smokers as emaciated wretches, their bodies wasted away from years of chasing the dragon. There are famous photos purporting to depict just such people, with sunken chests and ribs showing. There were indeed opium smokers in poor health, Dikotter concedes, but, like the mythical crack babies of late 20th Century America, the "opium-ravaged" subjects of those photos are artifacts not of the pharmacological properties of the poppy but of extreme poverty. For every portrayal of poor, emaciated opium smokers, there is a contrasting portrait of sleek, healthy, well-off aficionados of the pipe.

But the realities of Chinese opium use fit neither the nationalist agenda of Chinese reformers, who sought an imperialist scapegoat to explain their country's subjection, nor the moral imperatives of Western missionaries, who viewed the poppy as the devil's hand maiden. Driven by these twin imperatives, Chinese opium policy shifted from tolerance to persecution. By the early 20th Century, the quiet pleasures of the opium den gave way to a carnival of cruelty, with users imprisoned, executed, and used as guinea pigs in bizarre and often painful "drug treatment" experiments.

Ironically -- but not surprisingly to anyone who follows the inexorable logic of prohibition -- the efforts to suppress the opium habit led to the introduction of its chemical compounds, morphine and later heroin, and a move from smoking with a pipe to injecting with a needle. Also unsurprisingly, both morphine and heroin were eagerly embraced early on by doctors and preachers alike as the "cure" for opium addiction.

Reading "Narcotic Culture," one is struck first by the senseless inhumanity of drug prohibition Chinese-style, with its heavy-handed repression and its "treatments" right out of the cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But that was a century ago, at the dawn of the modern prohibitionist era. The moralists and would-be saviors of those addicted wretches can perhaps be forgiven for their ignorance. What is depressing is to ponder how similar is the discourse of contemporary prohibition. Will observers a hundred years for now look back and condemn us for our barbarism? Probably. And, thanks to people like Dikotter, we don't even have the excuse of ignorance.
While "Narcotic Culture" focuses on the politics and sociology of opium in China, Barbara Hodgson's "Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon," explores other facets of our centuries-long affair with the poppy, particularly the romance of opium for Western artists, writers, and intellectuals, but also the near-hysterical reaction against opium (and the Yellow Menace) in early 20th Century American pop culture.

A slender, elegantly wrought, and beautifully produced volume, Hodgson's "Opium" is a celebration of the decadent dream world opium represented to Western eyes. For aficionados of the poppy and its culture, the photos and illustrations alone make the book a worthy addition to the library. Movie stills showing our white women falling prey to evil Orientals under the spell of the pipe reveal more about contemporary attitudes and fears than a dozen scholarly monologues.

Hodgson also provides a lively text, replete with sketches of such literary and artistic figures as Thomas de Quincy, Charles Baudelaire, and Edgar Allen Poe, and their opium-influenced work. But Hodgson also swoops from the high culture of the West to its pulp fiction, where maniacal mandarins and evil poppies threaten our society, our culture, and most of all, our white women.

"Narcotic Culture" is an important contribution to the emerging true history of drugs and drug prohibition and belongs on the bookshelf of every student of the topic. Hodgson's "Opium" will appeal not only to those interested in the history of opium in both East and West, but to students of Western decadence and the pull of exotic Orientalism on Western intellectual traditions. For those who know a serious opium fiend, the two books together make a very nice set.

7. Newsbrief: VP Hopeful Edwards Makes Meth a Campaign Issue

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards Monday used a conference call with Midwest reporters to try to make methamphetamine use and manufacture an issue in the presidential campaign. In the call, Edwards unveiled plans for expanded prevention, treatment, and enforcement, as well as restrictions on over-the-counter cold medications used as ingredients in home meth lab recipes.

John Edwards' anti-meth plan
would restrict Sudafed sales.
"Faced with the meth scourge that has devastated families and communities throughout rural and small town America, George Bush has done worse than nothing," said Edwards. "He has failed to come up with a plan to address the problem and has actually cut important law enforcement measures that fight meth use and trafficking. John Kerry and I understand how meth is hurting rural communities, and we have a real plan to stop meth in its tracks. By cracking down on meth trafficking and expanding smart treatment and prevention, John Kerry and I will stop this deadly epidemic."

The Edwards announcement came as he campaigned in Iowa, a state where methamphetamine has been the demon drug du jour since the late 1990s. Notably, Iowa is also a fiercely contested battleground state in the November election. A Chicago Tribune poll released Tuesday had Bush at 47% and Kerry at 45%, with Ralph Nader polling 1%. With the difference well within the poll's 4.4% margin of error, Iowa is essentially a dead heat going into the campaign's final weeks.

Methamphetamine is "a cancer on rural areas and small towns," Edwards said as he promised that if he and Sen. John Kerry are elected, they would crack down on meth labs and dealers. "John and I believe we have a moral responsibility to do something about this," he said.

Edwards said a Kerry administration would spend $30 million on preventive measures, as well as increased funding for drug treatment programs and increased meth prosecutions in state courts. He also said he would push for federal limits on the amount of cold medicines consumers could purchase that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed. Customers would be limited to two standard-size packages a day under the Edwards proposal.

Edwards also raked the Bush administration with some vintage drug war rhetoric, saying: "The number of meth labs discovered has gone up 79% since George Bush took office, and the number of kids killed has tripled. Thousands of lives are being ruined."

In a response to Edward's comments to the Associated Press, Bush campaign spokesman Brian Jones accused Kerry of voting against a 1999 bill that would have toughened penalties for drug manufacture, including methamphetamines. He also pointed to a nationwide decline in meth use among young people last year.

8. Newsbrief: AMT, Foxy Methoxy Permanently Placed on Schedule I

With a notice in the Federal Register on September 29, the DEA issued a "final rule" placing the psychedelic typtamines Alpha-Methyltryptamine (AMT) and 5-Methoxy-N,N-Diisopropyltryptamine (Foxy Methoxy) in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It has been illegal to buy, sell, or possess either substance without a DEA license since April 2003, when the agency temporary placed them on Schedule I. The final rule makes permanent the temporary scheduling that took effect last year.

Foxy Methoxy pills, photo from the
National Drug Intelligence Center
Typically, substances may be temporarily scheduled for no more than one year, but in March 2004, the DEA published a notice that proceedings to permanently schedule AMT and Foxy Moxy were underway, thus gaining another six months to do so. That six-month grace period expired two days after the DEA's latest Federal Register notice.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, substances may be classified as Schedule I only if the meet three criteria: that they have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and are not safe for use under medical supervision. According to the DEA, AMT and Foxy Methoxy meet those criteria. (Never mind for now that the DEA also says that marijuana meets those criteria.)

AMT and Foxy Methoxy share their mind-warping properties with other tryptamines, including DMT and psilocybin. The tryptamines were explored by chemist Sasha Shulgin, who first synthesized Foxy Methoxy in 1981, and who is cited in the DEA's final rule. According to the DEA, AMT has subjective effects similar to amphetamines and MDMA (Ecstasy), while Foxy Methoxy's effects are more akin to those experienced with LSD.

The designer drugs came to the attention of federal regulators in the 1990s, when they began appearing as an adjunct to Ecstasy and other drugs in the European rave scene. In the past several years, the DEA reported, the psychedelic pair crossed the Atlantic, exciting the agency's worry. DEA described the use of AMT and Foxy Methoxy as an "emerging problem" at raves and clubs in Arizona, California, Florida, and New York. AMT and Foxy Methoxy may be an emerging problem, but not a very big one, according to the DEA's own statistics. The agency has filed only 14 AMT cases since 1999 and 32 Foxy Methoxy cases.

With psychedelics such as AMT and Foxy Methoxy, warns the DEA, "the alteration of sensory perception and judgment can pose serious health risks to the user and the general public." And to consensus reality. Find out more about AMT and Foxy Methoxy at the Vault of Erowid's respective web pages for each substance, and online.

9. Newsbrief: Congress Votes to Double US Troops in Colombia

Congress voted Saturday to allow the number of US military personnel in Colombia to double from 400 to 800 in coming months. The joint conference committee vote on the 2005 Defense Department appropriations bill also allows the administration to increase the number of US citizens working as subcontractors for the US-backed anti-drug and counterinsurgency effort from 400 to 600.

Congress imposed a personnel cap on the US presence in Colombia in 2000 in an effort to avoid a rapid escalation in the number of US troops and civilian contractors involved in that country's four-decade-old civil conflict. The personnel cap was part of the Clinton era Plan Colombia, which, unlike current Colombia policy, at least kept up the pretense that US involvement was an anti-drug effort, not an attempt to intervene in the civil war.

The vote marked a victory for the government of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and its US backers. Uribe has spent his term -- and $3.3 billion in US assistance -- attempting to defeat leftist guerrillas militarily even as he negotiates peace deals with rightist paramilitaries. As part of his campaign against the guerrillas, Uribe has enthusiastically supported US-backed efforts to destroy the country's coca and cocaine economy, which feeds tens of thousands of peasant coca growers as well as funding armed combatants on all sides of the conflict.

But even as Uribe basked in the glow of a fresh commitment from the US, massive demonstrations broke out in Colombia's largest cities this week against his economic policies and his plan to defeat the leftist rebels militarily. According to an Agence France Press dispatch from Bogota Tuesday night, some 300,000 protestors led by student, peasant, labor, and indigenous groups filled that city's downtown Bolivar Plaza, while similar demonstrations were reported in Barranquilla, Bucamaranga, Cali, Cartagena, and Medellin.

While demonstrators in Bogota were demanding new policies from the Uribe government, its US supporters were singing a different tune. "We will stay the course," Gen. James Hill, the commander of American military operations in Latin America, said last week in Bogotá in a farewell address before he retired. According to the New York Times, Hill added that the US would "assist the Colombian people in ways that are necessary to win the war."

10. Newsbrief: European Drug Think Tank Rips US on Afghan Opium Policy -- No "Plan Afghanistan," Please, Says Senlis Council

Inspired by recent pronouncements by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the Bush administration is working on a "master plan" modeled on Plan Colombia to deal with Afghan opium production, a leading European drug policy think tank has urged the US to think again. While agreeing that that opium production funds warlords and private armies on all sides of Afghanistan's lingering armed conflicts, the Senlis Council ( called this week for a radically different approach.

incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
Established by the Drug Policy Fund of the Network of European Foundations in May 2002 at Senlis, France, the council serves as an international collaborative framework for gathering expertise and generating new initiatives on drug policy. The Senlis Council targets high-level policy-makers at the national and intergovernmental level to adopt new ideas on drug policy.

Both the US and the international community must treat the drug issue as the number one priority in reconstructing Afghanistan's war-ravished economy and political institutions, the Council said this week. "It is the drug trade, with the lucrative illicit market that it creates that is behind the instability in Afghanistan because it creates corruption and gives power to individuals or groups that threaten democracy, such as warlords and private armies," said Council executive director Emmanuel Reinert in an October 7 statement.

But US-style "war on drugs" policies are a "failed policy model" that only fuels the drug trade in countries like Afghanistan, the Council said. "The United States has traditionally been the driving force behind the purely law-enforcement based 'war on drugs' approach which has been dominating the international drug control system for the past 40 years," Reinert said. "The fundamental problem which lies behind Afghanistan's drug crisis is this failed policy model. It does not provide the solution to the drug problem in Afghanistan or elsewhere."

According to the United Nations, opium accounts for more than half of the Afghan economy, with revenues estimated at $2.3 billion. The West cannot eradicate or repress its way out of the problem, said the Council. "Military action or the eradication of opium crops may perhaps make a small dent on the opium production in Afghanistan, but it will not solve the root of the problem, which is the flourishing illegal economy created by the sale of opium," said Reinert. "Even military power is not enough to defeat the force of the extremely lucrative illegal drugs economy."

Instead of tried-and-failed prohibition policies, said the Senlis Council, the West should turn toward internationally integrated policies such as a health-based approach to heroin consumption combined with regulated drug production that would allow for economic development and the establishment of the rule of law in countries like Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan needs sound solutions, not eradication plans," said Reinert.

And given the past performance of the US, the initiative should come from Europe, the Council said. "Considering past experiences and erroneous policies of the US, which does not appear to be learning from its mistakes, Europe seems best placed to continue the initiative to assist Afghanistan," said Reinert. "Afghanistan is unfortunately a perfect example of how the powerful market created by illicit drugs can totally disrupt, destabilize and jeopardize a whole country, even a whole geographical region."

11. Newsbrief: Dinosaurs Walk the Earth as Prohibition Party, Independent Candidate Demand Return of Alcohol Prohibition

Even as drug prohibition is undergoing a sustained, if glacially-paced, final assault, the ghosts of prohibition past continue to stir. At least one miniscule and aging political party and one independent congressional candidate are calling this year for a return to alcohol prohibition. While they are the last vestiges of a once-powerful alcohol temperance movement, they represent an enduring tendency in American political culture, one that remains strong when it comes to banning drugs other than alcohol.

Our side won the fight against alcohol prohibition.
(Repeal Prohibition campaign car photo appears courtesy
Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware.)
The Denver-based Prohibitionist Party (, which apparently consists of a handful of aging anti-alcohol agitators, is again fielding presidential and vice-presidential candidates this year. Earl Dodge and Howard Lydick are running on a platform opposed to commercial pornography, the "radical homosexual agenda," abortion, illegal immigration, welfare, and, of course, drugs and alcohol. But they are not just "antis." The Prohibition Party supports states' rights, limited government, and campaign finance reform, the party web site declares. As for its core issue, the party is adamant: "We will strengthen and enforce laws against the sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and illegal drugs," says the party platform. The party opposes the legalization of "anti-social drugs" like LSD and marijuana, the platform adds.

The Prohibition Party is the nation's third-oldest political party, having run presidential candidates in every election since 1872, but reached its peak of influence in 1919, with the passage of the Volstead Act enacting alcohol Prohibition. In recent years, the party faithful split over the leadership of long-time party head and perennial candidate Dodge, so this year there are actually two prohibitionist tickets on the presidential ballot. The Concerns of the People (Prohibitionist) Party will split the miniscule prohibitionist vote.

Meanwhile, alcohol prohibition lives as well in the breast of independent Rhode Island congressional candidate Dorman Hayes Jr., according to the Providence Journal. In an interview last week, Hayes told the Journal he supported a return to Prohibition. "I would support a new Volstead Act and a return to Prohibition," said Hayes. "It might sound crazy to some, but if you look objectively at the issues, it makes sense. What percent of highway fatalities are alcohol related?" said Hayes. "How many children are being hurt by alcohol and drugs?"

Hayes, who carries around a manila envelope stuffed with photocopies of 1920s Congressional Record entries lauding Prohibition, also supports banning tobacco. Hayes has run for office numerous times, sometimes as a Green Party candidate, and was a one-time Ralph Nader supporter, but broke with Nader over his call for legalizing some recreational drugs. "Nader has been a disappointment to me on the issue of drugs," said Hayes. "I think drugs are a big problem in our society."

12. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The beat goes on. Without further ado:

In Kansas City, a former police sergeant pleaded guilty in federal court on October 7 to bilking the US government out of $30,000 for security services never performed. Robert Maize, 45, established two companies that employed off-duty Kansas City police officers to provide security at inner city apartment complexes, with payment coming from anti-drug security grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The contract was legitimate, but Maize's work reporting wasn't. In pleading to one count of wire fraud, Maize admitted to billing 743.5 hours of security time worth $29,099.58 for work that never took place. Maize, who resigned from the force the day before he pled guilty, now faces up to six months in federal prison. Maize was suspended from the force in April 2002 and received wages totaling more than $120,000 after the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners decided to pay him until the case was resolved.

In New York City, a former narcotics detective was sent to prison for two years October 8 after pleading guilty in April to robbing drug dealers. Carlos Rodriguez, 39, became the first officer sent to prison in what is the city's worst police corruption scandal in a decade, the New York Times reported. Rodriguez admitted to stealing $100,000 from a drug dealer and splitting the proceeds with another officer. He told the court he spent his $45,000 take on renovating his Long Island home. He also told the court he was drunk and distraught over his wife's health when he committed the crime, but that didn't buy him much leniency.

The same day that Rodriguez was sentenced, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest of Highway Patrol trooper Sgt. Reginald Flagg of Clarksville and three others on crack cocaine possession and conspiracy charges. Flagg is accused of conspiring to possess more than 300 grams of the rock, while a nightclub owner and two others face related charges. The charge is a Tennessee Class A felony and carries a 15-to-25-year prison sentence. Flagg is free on $50,000 bail.

And a day earlier in Sanford, North Carolina, a former Sanford police officer was charged with stealing two pounds of marijuana from the department's evidence room. James Ed Gregory faces two counts, one of delivering marijuana and one of possession with intent to sell, the Sanford Herald reported. Gregory allegedly stole the weed stash in March, when he took it from the evidence locker saying he was going to destroy it because it was no longer needed as evidence.

13. This Week in History

October 15, 1986: Assistant Attorney General Mark Richard testifies before the Kerry Committee that he had attended a meeting with 20 to 25 officials and that the DEA did not want to provide any of the information the committee had requested on the Contra involvement in drug trafficking.

October 16, 1989: A Time Magazine quote from an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, reads, "If the government cannot stop people from using drugs in the prisons over which it has total control, why should Americans forfeit any of their traditional civil rights in the hope of reducing the drug problem?"

October 21, 1999: In a syndicated column, conservative author William F. Buckley writes: "Now it's one thing to say (I say it) that people shouldn't consume psychoactive drugs. It is entirely something else to condone marijuana laws the application of which resulted, in 1995, in the arrest of 588,963 Americans. Why are we so afraid to inform ourselves on the question?"

October 21, 2000: Harry Browne, the libertarian candidate for president, lists seven ways that ending the war on drugs would make our neighborhood safer -- freeing up prison space for violent offenders, freeing up police resources to fight violent crime, ending gang warfare over drug turf, reducing police corruption, ending the incentive for drug sellers to recruit children into the drug trade, ending property crime by addicts by lowering the price of drugs, and restoring "respect for decent behavior."
support their habits.

October 22, 1982: The first publicly known case of contra cocaine shipments appears in government files in a cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations. The cable passes on word that US law enforcement agencies were aware of "links between (a US religious organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups [which] involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms." The material in parentheses is inserted by the CIA as part of its declassification of the cable. The name of the religious group remains secret.

14. 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.

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].

15. The Reformer's Calendar

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 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 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 for info.

October 18, 7:00pm, Charleston, SC, "Women and Illegal Drugs in South Carolina," free public talk by Attorney Susan Dunn, sponsored by South Carolinians for Drug Law Reform. At Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street, contact Sharon Fratepietro at (843) 577-0637 or [email protected] or visit for further information.

October 19, 6:30-9:30pm, Washington, DC, PreventionWorks! 6th Anniversary Celebration/Fundraiser supporting harm reduction in the capital. At HR57, 1610 14th St. NW, contact (202) 588-5580 or [email protected] or visit 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 At Uncle Ming's, 225 Avenue B, 2nd Floor (between 13th and 14th Sts.), featuring music by Peet and DJ Ness, admission free. Visit 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, 11:00am-6:00pm, Columbia, MO, Fourth Annual Statewide Missouri NORML/Missouri Cannabis Coalition Conference. At the Roger Wilson Building, 8th and Ash Streets, visit for further information.

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

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

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 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 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 for further information.

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

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

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

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 for further information.

March 10-12, 2005, Silver Spring, MD, Families Against Mandatory Minimums National Conference. Details to be announced, visit 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 for further information.

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