(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)
Issue #382 -- 4/15/2005
"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"
Table of Contents
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]
Supporters of Dr. Hurwitz say that his decision to treat pain aggressively with opioids (narcotics), in the way he did, derived from an ethical principle applied to its logical conclusion. Physicians are obligated by their medical oath to properly treat pain, which in general means relieving to the best feasible extent. To deny a patient adequate pain treatment is "tantamount to torture," in Hurwitz' own words. If you treat pain, then some of the people seeking opioid prescriptions from you inevitably will turn out to be drug diverters or abusers. But it is unethical to punish actual pain patients -- to torture them by denying them medicine -- just because such people are out there. So Hurwitz chose to err on the side of prescribing for pain rather than not doing so. Because his ethics, and his interpretation of them, required him to do so, drug warriors notwithstanding.
I agree with those ethics. It may be that reasonable people can believe that some degree of non-treatment of real patients should be risked in order to "balance" that priority with the priority of diversion control. I don't agree with that -- partly because denial of pain treatment really is torture, in my opinion -- and partly because I understand that the economics of the drug trade and prohibition renders diversion control ineffective regardless. If we can get to a point where a debate on the issue is taking place at that level, I'm not going to call anyone unreasonable who is rationally and sincerely trying to sort it out. But I agree with Hurwitz on this point.
I also believe that Dr. Hurwitz is in fact innocent. No actual evidence was ever presented that he knew that any of his patients were diverting or abusing drugs. And as one of the few people in the world holding both a medical degree and a law degree, Hurwitz would have been readily able to earn millions of dollars per year; a financial motive for the crimes of which he was accused simply did not exist. But whether my faith in Dr. Hurwitz is on target or not, even that may ultimately only have secondary importance.
There are two primary issues at stake. One is that it should have been doctors who decided whether Hurwitz had acted properly, but was not. Russell Portenoy, one of the world's top pain specialists, moved the issued forward this week by saying as much to the Los Angeles Times.
The other is the sheer lack of ethics displayed by prosecutors, by their witnesses, and sadly even by the judge himself, Leonard Wexler. I have it on good authority that the prosecutor arguing for a life sentence yesterday lied repeatedly during his performance. The judge invoked a tape he claims he saw, but which was never entered into evidence, to justify harsh treatment of Hurwitz. For a variety of reasons this is not very plausible. But even if it turns out to be true, it would still conflict with the spirit (albeit not the letter, perhaps) of the Supreme Court's recent pronouncements on these issues. A witness for the prosecution, an addict in recovery, told of how he squandered his whole inheritance on drugs, conjuring the image of hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions down the drain. He didn't mention, nor did anyone, that it was a mere $20,000, a lot to him perhaps but not a lot. Prosecutors leveraged their power to prosecute that individual and others, in order to get them to testify against Hurwitz in exchange for leniency -- a practice that courts have called bribery, though the Supreme Court ultimately did not uphold that. But the unreliability of testimony made under such duress is clear, and it is unethical to use it or allow it.
Most seriously, the prosecution's medical witness gave testimony that six of the leading experts on pain treatment characterized as "misleading" and even "absurd" in a letter they sent to the judge. But that letter was never shown to the jurors. How dare Judge Wexler withhold exculpatory information of fundamental importance to the case from the jurors? It may be that sharing the letter with the jurors would have been unusual and something that courts don't like to do. But given who that letter came from and the nature of its content, I can conceive of no moral justification for withholding such information from jurors regardless of usual procedures. There must have been some appropriate way for Judge Wexler to get them that information, and that's what he ethically had to do, but did not do.
The Hurwitz case is high profile. But such violations of decency occur all the time, in the countless more ordinary cases being thrust through the system every day. The courts have hence become institutions not to be respected, but rather feared and condemned. It is not good enough for the courts to do the right thing, to protect us from dangerous criminals and enact legitimate justice, but to do so only some of the time. The courts must make all reasonable efforts to maintain and enforce the highest moral and ethical standards at all times. But they lack the will, and perhaps the desire, to do so.
The courts are in a moral fog, unable to discern right and wrong in their own actions, while sitting in judgment on others. It is time not only to oppose and criticize injustice, but to stand against it. Ethics requires that of us too.
The most closely watched in a growing procession of prosecutions of doctors involved in aggressive pain management with opioids came to an end in a suburban Washington, DC, federal courthouse Thursday as presiding federal circuit court Judge Leonard Wexler sentenced Northern Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz to 25 years in prison as a drug dealer for his prescribing habits. The sentence was more than the 20-year mandatory minimum sentence, but less than the life sentence sought by prosecutors. At Thursday's hearing, Judge Wexler said that Hurwitz deserved more than the minimum sentence because he continued to flout the law even though he had opportunities to "reform" his behavior. Hurwitz, who appeared in court in his jail uniform, will be transferred to federal prison pending the outcome of his appeal.
Also key in building the case against Dr. Hurwitz was the testimony of Dr. Michael Ashburn, who told jurors Hurwitz prescribed in quantities far beyond accepted medical practice. That testimony has since been harshly challenged by experts in pain management, including six past presidents of the American Pain Society, who, in a January letter to Judge Wexler, pronounced themselves "stunned" at the "errors" in Ashburn's testimony. The letter was not shown to the jurors. It is not known whether Judge Wexler responded to the doctors.
In a hearing described by some witnesses as highly emotional and by one as a theater of the grotesque, the aggrieved family members of Dr. Hurwitz' patients who died called for a lengthy sentence, while other patients and Hurwitz family members pled for leniency. "People on both sides spoke from the heart in a very passionate, powerful way," said Eric Sterling, executive director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, who attended the hearing. "In the case of family members, they spoke of the irreplaceable loss of loved ones; in the case of the defendant, they spoke of the caring, compassionate qualities of the defendant."
It was if people were describing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, said Sterling. "I was really struck by the bifurcated presentation of the defendant. On the one hand, he was described as a compassionate professional, on the other, he was described as a careless, callous, remorseless person." That wasn't the only stark contrast Sterling noted. "Witnesses and people in the courtroom were weeping, but the judge seemed very businesslike. I was struck by the contrast between the passion and emotion of the witnesses and the coldness of the law and the court."
If there were contrasts, there were also erasures. "There was no sense that the people who died had any responsibility for their own addictions, their own choices. It was the doctor's fault," said Sterling, speaking of family members who called for stiffer penalties for Hurwitz. "These people created a convoluted causation where the fact that their relatives were addicts and pleaded for drugs didn't matter. Doctors are not miracle workers; the most brilliant doctor can't save a self-destructive risk-taker from killing himself."
Defense attorneys moved in vain to have Judge Wexler exercise "safety valve" rules that would have allowed him to reduce Hurwitz' sentence, but Wexler, who was the real star of the hearing, did add five years to the 20-year minimum based on an audio tape he claimed to have listened to that was never entered into evidence. And with a scolding of Hurwitz by Wexler for having squandered opportunities, the hearing was over and Hurwitz was hustled back to jail.
"The sentence is about what we expected," said Siobhan Reynolds, head of the patients and doctors advocacy group the Pain Relief Network. "I am concerned for Billy. It's one thing to be on the outside and say it's what we expected, given the brutality of the system, but what must he be feeling now? There is a collective madness at work here," she told DRCNet.
The case is the most closely-watched yet in an escalating confrontation between the imperatives of pain management and those of drug abuse control. For the past decade, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug diversion control program, ironically funded by doctors' licensing fees, has spent tens of millions of dollars annually to investigate doctors it suspects of improperly prescribing prescription drugs. Equally ironically, the diversion control fund also includes money from an asset forfeiture kitty that includes goods once belonging to doctors prosecuted by the DEA.
With those funds, the DEA monitors the prescription writing of all doctors. Those who prescribe large doses of drugs such as Oxycontin are flagged for investigation. Typically, the feds find former or current patients who are abusing or selling prescribed drugs, charge them with federal crimes, then plea bargain with them to get them to testify against the targeted doctor. At trial, prosecution expert witnesses testify that the prescribing was outside the bounds of accepted medical practice, while defense witnesses testify it was not. Jurors, who may or may not have a firm grasp on the medical science involved, tend to come down on the side of prosecutors.
While firm numbers are hard to come by, dozens -- if not hundreds -- of doctors have been tried, convicted, and sentenced as drug dealers in recent years, with the pace accelerating since drug czar John Walters declared prescription drug abuse a national menace last year. According to Dr. Joel Hochman, director of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain, the DEA has investigated some 1,800 doctors nationwide in the last three years, 1,200 of whom lost their licenses. The Justice Department is engaged "in a fruitless and bizarre effort to curtail the use of drugs, and has begun to eat its citizens and physicians," Hochman told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday.
While doctors and pain patient advocates said Hurwitz' conviction and sentencing will only deepen the chill felt throughout pain management circles, Judge Wexler attempted to deflect physicians' concerns that they could be next, said Sterling. "The judge read a letter from a Florida pain management specialist who said he'd had a handful of patients fool him over the years and asked if he should now fear being prosecuted," Sterling related. "The judge said no, Hurwitz' practice was different. Hurwitz knew his patients were either getting high or selling the drugs or both, or else he was willfully blind. Honest doctors have nothing to worry about, the judge said."
Critics weren't buying that argument. "These cases do have an impact," said Dr. Fisher, "and the impact from even a single case can be enormous. I was arrested in 1999, and the following year California had the lowest per capita Oxycontin prescribing in the country. I cannot imagine that my arrest did not influence that. Likewise, when Dr. James Graves got a 60-year prison sentence in Florida, all of a sudden there were no new pain clinics opening up, there were doctors closing their doors or throwing out their patients. Since then, it has become more and more difficult to find anyone who will treat a chronic pain patient."
"We are already in a crisis," said Reynolds. "We get four or five emails every day from people with severe pain -- cancer, lupus, surgeries -- being cut off by their doctors for the slightest infraction of the rules," she said, referring to elaborate protocols doctors foist upon patients in hopes of avoiding trouble with the DEA. "The doctors are frightened, and the result is zero tolerance for human frailty. Doctors are afraid any attempt to ameliorate this zero tolerance will result in them being charged as criminals. Doctors have become extraordinarily harsh and brutal; people who were previously able to work are now bed-ridden. This has been going on for years, and it's only getting worse. Almost no one I know is getting decent pain treatment."
Some advocates accused the federal government of bringing phony cases and using deceptive methods to prosecute them. "In the Hurwitz case, and in all the other trials I have observed, the government has never produced evidence that the accused doctor intended to divert drugs outside his professional practice or to profit from any such diversion," said Reynolds. "In the Hurwitz case, government lawyers have said that his conviction should stand even if he wrote the prescriptions in good faith. No wonder doctors all over America are putting down their pens."
"Throughout the US, physicians are being threatened, impoverished, de-licensed and imprisoned for prescribing in good faith with the intention of relieving pain," said Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. "Law enforcement agents are using deceitful tactics to snare doctors, and prosecutors manipulate the legal system to frighten doctors who might be willing to testify on behalf of the wrongly accused doctors."
"We have a real legitimate worry that there is going to be greater reluctance to prescribe pain medication and as a consequence more under-treatment of chronic pain," Dr. Russell Portenoy, chairman of the pain medicine department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, told the Times.
With an estimated 50 million Americans suffered from under-treated chronic pain and doctors now running scared, the clash between law enforcement and medicine is bound to deepen. Doctors and pain patients are now beginning to pick up support from some unexpected places, including at least 30 state attorneys general, who, in a January letter to DEA administrator Karen Tandy, criticized the agency for improperly emphasizing stopping drug diversion at the expense of legitimate pain treatments.
"As attorneys general who have worked to remove barriers to quality care for citizens of our states at the end of life, we have learned that adequate pain management is often difficult to obtain because many physicians fear investigations and enforcement actions if they prescribe adequate levels of opioids," the letter said.
Dr. William Hurwitz is headed for prison, at least until his appeals are heard, federal prosecutors have scored another "victory" in their never-ending hunt for "dope dealer" doctors, physicians are running scared, and patients are finding it more and more difficult to obtain adequate care for chronic pain. But with the quality of life of some 50 million Americans at stake, this is a battle that is far from over.
Colorado college campuses, and the University of Colorado at Boulder in particular, have garnered much unwelcome publicity in recent months because of alcohol-related incidents. CU has suffered the national humiliation of its powerhouse football team chasing recruits with booze and hookers, and at least five Colorado students died of alcohol overdoses last semester. Without a doubt, alcohol is a major concern in Boulder and other Colorado campus towns.
The problem isn't limited to Colorado. According to an American Medical Association report on campus drinking, the annual toll from student alcohol abuse includes 1,400 deaths, 70,000 sexual assaults or date rapes, and half a million injuries each year. But in the eyes of university administrators and student conduct codes, marijuana is a far worse problem, one that should be treated more severely.
SAFER, or Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation, a Boulder-based nonprofit, has a different idea: Equalize the campus penalties for alcohol and marijuana infractions so students don't choose the more dangerous substance in order to avoid being punished more severely. Having begun only in January with seed money from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, SAFER has already scored one victory, with students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins last week approving a non-binding referendum urging the school to adopt parity in its alcohol and pot punishments by a margin of 56% to 44%. "Do you agree that the penalties for student marijuana use and possession should be no greater than those for student alcohol use and possession?" students were asked.
This week in Boulder, students at CU are voting on a similar referendum, and SAFER organizers are predicting an even larger margin of victory there. "Given the more liberal make-up of the student body in Boulder compared to Fort Collins).
The group held a Monday rally at the UMC Fountain on campus to urge students to support the referendum. "It is simple poor public policy to encourage students to drink by having harsher penalties for marijuana use," said CU SAFER campaign manager Vanessa Cisneros. It is time for the university to accept that marijuana is safer than alcohol, she said.
That was a message echoed by former Boulder city councilman and Boulder County Commissioner Paul Danish. "Marijuana use is less likely to cause violence and addiction," he said, pointing out that millions of crimes are fueled by alcohol each year. It is important, especially in an institution devoted to intellectual honesty and scientific inquiry, that the information given out about drugs is honest and accurate, he added.
But early indications are that CU administrators don't particularly want to hear any such message. In an interview with the student newspaper the Daily Coloradan, UC Student Union director of public relations Jessica Bralish said that even if the referendum passes, it will not prompt any action. Instead, administrators would view it as showing what students want to see happen with marijuana policy. "I don't know the official UCSU stance on it," said Bralish, "but from my perspective it seems like we'd be conflicting with the state's policy." Passage of the referendum would run counter to the university's policy she said. "Let's see what the students think and then we can act accordingly," said Bralish.
But the state's policy toward marijuana is fairly progressive -- simple possession of less than an ounce has been decriminalized, with violators facing only a summons and a maximum $100 fine. It is only in on-campus disciplinary proceedings that marijuana offenders face stiffer penalties -- including suspension for a second offense -- than alcohol offenders.
Even so, it is alcohol offenders who more frequently come to the attention of CU campus police. According to campus police Lt. Tim McGraw, last year, 304 students were either cited or arrested for alcohol offenses and another 126 arrested for DWI, while there were only 70 drug offenses, and 68 of those were for simple possession. "We don't break down the drug arrest numbers," McGraw told DRCNet, "but the overwhelming majority are for marijuana."
When asked if campus pot-smoking was a problem for police, McGraw hesitated. "It can be," he said. "It's illegal. There is a lot of usage and that can lead to problems. That's not to say that everyone who smokes becomes a heroin user, but I've never met one who didn't start with marijuana." McGraw also pointed to anecdotal accounts of drug rip-offs and to finding marijuana at hard drug busts.
"Current disciplinary policies send the wrong message," said Tyvert. "Telling students over 21 that they can get thrown out of school for smoking marijuana but not for drinking just fuels the culture of alcohol, and CU is already like a poster child for Coors Brewing. And telling students under 21 that they will face more severe penalties for marijuana than for drinking just does the same thing. Administrators think that us winning this referendum will damage the school's image, but the sight of a drunk kid choking to death on his own vomit is not a very pleasant image either. Nobody dies from a marijuana overdose. The potentially harmful consequences of using alcohol far exceed those of marijuana," he told DRCNet.
Tyvert's and SAFER's ambitions extend beyond the Front Range of the Rockies. "This is the beginning of a national movement," he said. "Students are fed up with a system that punishes them for making a safer choice."
Meanwhile, Tyvert and SAFER have work to do back at Colorado State. "The school is very interested in not acknowledging this whole thing, but that sends a terrible message to the students," he said. "This was the first student-initiated referendum since 1995, and what is the school telling the students? You pay us to do what you want, but we're not going to listen. We will be following up at CSU to help them get over their timidity and acknowledge the will of the students and acknowledge that marijuana is safer than alcohol."
Update: Drug War Chronicle feature story on this topic published 3/23/07, available online here.
special to Drug War Chronicle by Andrea Cavanaugh, public outreach associate for Stop Prison Rape
Troy Bishop had no idea how much grief a small amount of cocaine could bring him when he was arrested in Texas 12 years ago. Because he was considered a "habitual offender," the four-fifths of a gram of powdered cocaine he was carrying netted Bishop a 25-year prison sentence.
He thought things couldn't get any worse, but he was wrong. Soon after he was imprisoned, he was brutally raped by a prison gang member. Bishop, a slender man who stands 5 feet, 8 inches tall, was unable to defend himself. In an effort to protect himself, he made a homemade knife seven years ago and was placed in administrative segregation. Since then, Bishop has broken the rules again and again so he can remain in his single-man cell, away from prison predators.
Unfortunately, Bishop's case is far from unusual. Often unfamiliar with prison life, nonviolent drug offenders are among those at highest risk for prisoner rape. And America's prisons are bulging with prisoners of the "War on Drugs" -- one in four state prison inmates and nearly three in five federal prisoners are serving time on drug charges, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
America's incarceration frenzy is at an all-time high. More than two million people are imprisoned in this country at any given time. According to the Department of Justice, one in 15 Americans will serve time in prison at some time in their lives. For men of color, the odds are even greater -- one in ten Latinos and one in three black men will serve time.
Many corrections officials maintain that prisoner rape is a rare occurrence, but research shows otherwise. Although prisoner rape is a subject that has been virtually ignored by scientists -- a researcher in 1992 found only a dozen studies on the subject -- those who have delved into the problem have found that a pervasive culture of sexual violence governs many US prisons and jails.
Research on Midwestern prisons conducted by social scientist Cindy Struckman-Johnson of the University of South Dakota in 1996 is the most comprehensive research to date on prisoner rape. After surveying 1,800 inmates, Struckman-Johnson found that one in five male prisoners has been coerced or pressured into sex, and one in ten has been raped. In one women's prison, more than a quarter of the inmates said they had been pressured into sex by guards, Struckman-Johnson found.
Sexual abuse of prisoners is America's most neglected and most shameful human rights crisis.
Although many Americans would like the problem of custodial rape to remain behind prison walls, its effects ripple outward into our communities. More than 95% of all prisoners eventually are released. Rates of HIV are more than three times higher inside prison than on the outside. Many prisoner rape survivors suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological problems, and carry the spiraling culture of violence they learned behind bars into our communities.
Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization dedicated to eliminating sexual violence against men, women, and youth behind bars, is embarking on a groundbreaking project that will focus on those whose voices are rarely heard -- the prisoners themselves. "Stories from Inside" will highlight firsthand accounts of nonviolent drug offenders who have endured sexual abuse in custody. The project will shatter stereotypes about prisoner rape and the public's perception that drug offenders "get what they deserve" while incarcerated.
By telling their stories, survivors will help the public to see the human cost of the war on drugs and three-strikes laws -- people like Troy Bishop, who may live for decades in virtual solitary confinement in order to avoid horrific sexual brutality.
Years after he was raped, Bishop is still haunted by the violent attack he suffered at the hands of another inmate. "Is this justice?" Bishop wrote to SPR from his prison cell. "I have awful dreams. How I only wish I could somehow totally forget the rape. I am willing to do anything I can to prevent others from becoming victims of rape in prison."
For more information or to participate in "Stories from the Inside," contact Andrea Cavanaugh at 3325 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 340, Los Angeles CA 90010, 213/384-1400 x106, or [email protected], or visit the Stop Prisoner Rape web site.
Orgies of the Hemp Eaters: Cuisine, Slang, Literature, and Ritual of Cannabis Culture," Hakim Bey and Abel Zug, eds. (2004, Autonomedia, $24.95)
Phillip S. Smith, Editor, [email protected], 4/15/05
As someone who writes about drug policy for a living, it is indeed refreshing to sit back and enjoy "Orgies of the Hemp Eaters." There is very little of the standard drug policy reform rhetoric in this compilation of cannabis culture -- no concern about teenage drug use, no worries about the link between pot-smoking and schizophrenia, no maneuvering over how to craft a political message that will appeal to the not-so-pot-friendly masses or political classes, no concessions to the prohibitionists. But while "Orgies of the Hemp Eaters" may have little to offer for drug reform wonks, what it does do -- and very successfully -- is remind us that there is indeed a whole pot-smoking (and eating and drinking) world out there in which drug czar John Walters and the rest of his prohibitionist posse are basically irrelevant.
Bey in particular is especially well-suited for the task. Born Peter Lamborn Wilson, Bey is an experienced traveler in the Middle East and Asia and a longtime cannabis aficionado who is also a deep, if extremely unorthodox, spiritual seeker. Founder of the Moorish Orthodox Church, an obscure sect that uses cannabis as a sacrament and which is historically linked to even more obscure psychedelic sects such as the Neo-American Church and Timothy Leary's International Freedom Front, Bey is a standard bearer for mystic cannabis spirituality. (As author of the 1990 work, "Temporary Autonomous Zones," Bey has also become one of the leading anarchist theorists of the era.)
"In the tribal society of the Neolithic," writes Bey in his introductory essay Bhang Nama (treatise on cannabis), "cannabis appears to have been widely used as a sacrament, allowing everyone at least a taste of the shamanic experience. But with the rise of Civilization, all the entheogens are either denatured or condemned... Psychedelic knowledge was never wholly lost, but it was forced underground and remains 'forbidden' to this day." There is a reason for that, Bey writes, and it is one that transcends left and right. "In this [last] century, revolutionary movements have condemned cannabis as vehemently as the reactionary regimes they oppose, because the herb is seen as the enemy of order, productivity, discipline, militancy, good morals, and the unidimensional rationalist model of human cognition. Capitalism and communism could at least agree on their hostility to entheogens."
Given the interests and proclivities of Bey and Zug, it is no surprise that "Orgies of the Hemp Eaters" focuses primarily on cannabis in the Middle East and South Asia. But that focus is very broad, with articles, essays, and scientific reports covering everything from prehistoric Indian cannabis gods and the ritual uses of bhang, charas, and kief to hoary legends of the Assassins, the 11th and 12th Century Ismaili Islamic heretics who sowed terror around the civilized world. Supposedly, the word assassin itself derives from hashashin, the name given to the young killers in the employ of Hassan-i Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, whom Sabbah would convince would be rewarded in heaven after supposedly dosing them with hash and leaving them in a veritable garden of earthly delights. Bey isn't buying this story, but it is a fascinating tale, and one that should resonate in these troubled times. Am I the only one who sees eerie parallels between Sabbah and another bearded, murderous global personage and Islamic fanatic glowering down these days from some remote mountain?
I wrote above that "Orgies of the Hemp Eaters" pretty much ignores drug policy, but that is not entirely true. As Bey noted, and as Brian Inglis teased out in his essay, "The Forbidden Game," the proper role of cannabis has long been the subject of scholarly debate among Islamic religious thinkers. One of them, whose name has been lost in the mists of time, articulated a policy position on cannabis that rings as true today as it did nine centuries ago:
"Hashish intoxication contains a hidden secret too subtle for minds to explain. They have declared it forbidden without any justification on the basis of reason and tradition. Declaring forbidden what is not forbidden is forbidden."
Running to more than 700 pages, including 250 pages of bibliographical citations, and including nearly a hundred discrete articles, essays, or reports, "Orgies of the Hemp Eaters" is an invaluable compendium of cannabis lore and scientific investigation. It includes extensive excerpts from the 1893 Indian Hemp Commission findings, as well as numerous other scientific reports from an era where science was not guided by the politicized imperatives of drug control, which now finds researchers trapped in an effort to find something, anything wrong with cannabis -- if they want to be funded. It also includes an extensive selection of cannabis-inspired literature, ranging from Baudelaire and Fitz Hugh Ludlow to Paul Bowles and the Fugs. And there are some mighty fine looking recipes in there, too.
"Orgies of the Hemp Eaters" is organized in a fashion that allows readers to jump in wherever they feel like it. That nonlinearity should be part of a book by Bey and Zug comes as no surprise, especially once the reader has gotten a glimpse of their mindsets by reading this volume. Put it on your nightstand. Then, after a hard day of toiling in the trenches of drug reform and butting heads with prohibitionists, relax, read, and ruminate on a world where charas-smoking mystic fakirs are more important than besuited drug czars.
The US law enforcement barrel is large, and the bad apples, covered in the residue of drug prohibition, keep on coming. This week, police officers in Pennsylvania and Texas are headed to prison for their misdeeds, while in other incidents across the country, cops, deputies, and even a fire department official have found themselves in trouble with the law. Let's get to it:
In Dallas, Mark Delapaz, the former Dallas Police narcotics officer at the center of the city's infamous "sheetrock scandal," is going to federal prison for five years for lying to a judge to obtain a search warrant in a case related to the scandal. In the affair, which first came to light in 2001, crooked informants working with Delapaz set up dozens of people, mainly Mexican immigrants, by planting "cocaine" or "methamphetamine" in their homes or vehicles, then siccing the bust-hungry Delapaz on them. But the drugs were not drugs at all -- they were simply ground up gypsum, the material used to make pool chalk or sheetrock. On April 7, the jury that had earlier convicted Delapaz gave him a five-year sentence, half of that requested by prosecutors.
While much of the blame for the scandal, which sent innocent men to prison for years, lies with the informants, three of whom have also been convicted in the case, jurors blamed Delapaz for continuing to use their reports as the basis for search warrants even after he should have known they were lying. By the time he told a judge in October 2001 that his informants were reliable, he already knew that at least six previous drug seizures based on those informants' information contained no real drugs. That was the charge that sent Delapaz on the same path to the Texas Department of Corrections on which he had sent so many innocent others.
In Scranton, Pennsylvania, former Coaldale police officer Michael Weaver, 35, was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in federal prison Monday for planting drugs in the homes of suspects. Weaver had pleaded guilty on January 4 to a federal civil rights violation in the scheme, in which he and Lansford police officer Jeremy Sommers, 28, planted heroin and cocaine in the homes of two criminal suspects. Both suspects were then arrested on drug charges. According to federal prosecutors, Weaver and Sommer used drugs that were being held as evidence to incriminate the two suspects. Sommers was also set to be sentenced this week, but no information on his sentence was available at press time.
The arrest and conviction of the two Pennsylvania officers came as part of a widening investigation into the illegal sale of a machine gun by former Lansdale police chief Joseph Stawiarski, 47, to former Coaldale police chief Shawn Nihen, 32. Stawiarski was sentenced to three months house arrest this week, while Nihen will be sentenced next week.
In Jacksonville, Florida, Clay County sheriff's deputy Jason Gambrill, 32, was arrested Tuesday on drug distribution charges after providing the prescription drugs Cialis and Lortab free to department members for recreational use. Cialis is used by males for erectile dysfunction, while Lortab is a narcotic pain reliever. Gambrill is charged with sale and delivery of a controlled substance, according to Jacksonville's News 4 TV. Local authorities are still investigating who within the department received the drugs and said more arrests could follow. Sounds like quite a party at the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
In Hackensack, New Jersey, a report in the Bergen Record Tuesday revealed that Bergen County prosecutors have fired the head of the county's narcotics strike force and are investigating four unnamed members of the squad. Prosecutor James Molinelli told the Record he had fired former head narc William Cullen, 55, over a "personnel matter," and declined to specify the reason for the investigation. When asked if he had opened a criminal investigation into the four officers, he said, "We're still investigating it. Right now, it's purely a personnel matter."
In Atlanta, Fire Department Capt. Calvin Matthews, a 20-year veteran with the department, was arrested April 7 and charged with felony possession of marijuana and cocaine and obstructing an officer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The cocaine possession charge alone carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years under Georgia law. Matthews went down when he was spotted by members of the Atlanta Police Red Dog Team, who were checking out drug activity on Thomasville Boulevard. Team members watched Matthews apparently score, then arrested him after they found two small baggies containing $10 worth of marijuana each and one baggie containing $20 worth of cocaine.
Legislation approved last year allowing California cities and counties to pass ordinances okaying the sale of syringes without a prescription is beginning to bear fruit. Introduced by state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), passed by the legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the measure aims to slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis through needle-sharing by injection drug users.
While many jurisdictions have yet to act, Contra Costa county approved an ordinance in January, and a similar ordinance okaying syringe sales went into effect in San Francisco Tuesday. Under the city ordinance, part of the state's Local Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, participating pharmacies must be licensed and registered with the city. They must also provide free disposal containers and written information about HIV and hepatitis testing and treatment. All Walgreen's stores in the city will participate in the program, and the needles will go for about 50 cents each.
Under existing California laws, possession of a syringe is without a prescription is considered a crime. The state has 23 legally authorized needle exchange programs, but ordinances authorizing prescription syringe sales will further reduce the need for hard drug users to resort to needle-sharing and reduce their criminal exposure.
Faced with increasing concern over the use and home manufacture of methamphetamine, Illinois last year restricted the sales of over-the-counter cold remedies such as Sudafed. But while the Sudafed solution, pioneered in Oklahoma, has proven popular across the country, Illinois lawmakers wanted more. This year, Gov. Rod Blagejovic (D) and Attorney General Lisa Madigan crafted a bill sponsored by State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) that would ramp up penalties for methamphetamine offenses and create new meth-related offenses. The bill, SB 562, the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, passed the Illinois House unanimously on April 8 and is awaiting action in the state Senate.
While any manufacture of meth is a felony under Illinois law, the bill creates mandatory minimum six-year prison sentences for persons convicted of manufacturing more than a half-ounce (15 grams) of meth, mandatory eight-year sentences for more than 100 grams, and mandatory 10-year sentences for more than 400 grams. The bill also creates the offense of aggravated meth manufacture, to be invoked in the stuff is being cooked in an apartment building, motel, or hotel, where children or a pregnant woman are present, or if firearms, video cameras, or other means of protecting the premises are involved. If charged with aggravated meth manufacture, the mandatory six-year sentence kicks in no matter how small the amount cooked.
The bill also criminalizes the possession of meth precursors and creates the new offense of possession of anhydrous ammonia with the intent to cook speed, as well as aggravated possession with intent, which carries the favored six-year mandatory minimum. And the bill makes being a look-out for a meth lab a felony as well. "Methamphetamine-related child endangerment" also becomes a felony. It is defined as cooking meth in a home or vehicle where children are present.
"Senate Bill 562 focuses on a factor that makes meth different from other drugs targeted by the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, namely the manufacture of meth here in our communities in Illinois," Madigan said. "Unlike many other drugs, meth is made in our state, and making meth can cause as much harm as using it."
"This bill will help protect the people of the State of Illinois from the scourge of methamphetamine. I will continue to fight this dangerous drug and will work to make sure that our law enforcement officers have all the necessary tools to stop this terrible drug and the effects that it has on communities across the state," Rep. Haine said.
And now the bill appears set to steamroll its way through the Senate under Haine's stewardship.
A newly formed group headed by veteran South Dakota cannabis activist Bob Newland has taken the first official steps toward getting a medical marijuana initiative on the November 2006 ballot there. South Dakotans for Safe Access, or SDSA, sent a proposed medical marijuana petition to the state's Legislative Review Council for review Tuesday. Once the language is reviewed by the council, signature-gatherers will have until May 2006 to obtain the nearly 17,000 valid signatures necessary to place the initiative on the ballot.
According to Newland, the initiative will set up a registry system within the state Department of Health that would allow qualifying patients and caretakers to avoid arrest and prosecution. The initiative will also include a "medical necessity" defense for people who have not yet obtained a registry card. Under this provision, people who are arrested and tried would be able to argue to a jury that they would qualify as a patient under the initiative.
"The wording is based on the wording of the medical cannabis petition that passed with 62% of the vote in Montana last year," Newland said. "We adapted it to refer to specific chapters and sections in South Dakota law. We're not at the 'engraved in stone' point yet," Newland continued. "We might change anything in the petition that's currently posted on the website. We're still looking for input, suggestions, on how to improve the language," he said.
"The Legislative Research Council has 15 days to comment on the proposed petition language and form, then we can either apply the LRC's suggestions or not," Newland said. "After that, we'll send the petition to the Secretary of State, according to proper procedure, and, on May 7, we can start circulating the petition for signatures of South Dakota voters."
The move comes in reaction to repeated failures to get movement on medical marijuana bills in the South Dakota legislature, which has rejected the bills three times since 2000. "The legislature is hopeless," Newland said. "They are so subservient to their perverted party lines that they are willing to watch people in agony suffer rather than do the right thing. People who need cannabis as medicine need it now. They can't afford to wait while a bunch of old drunk insurance agents and ex-bankers and retired farmers serving in the statehouse die off. From what we've seen the youngsters who replace them -- people who've smoked pot themselves -- are worse. We're sick of it. We'll do what's necessary to get this issue on the ballot."
Farmers in Uganda's Busia district have responded to police raids on their marijuana crops by calling for legalization of the crop, the Kampala Monitor reported April 9. The calls came days after police in Uganda and neighboring Kenya destroyed 22 acres of pot plants.
Marijuana growing should be legalized because it is one of the district's major sources of income, farmers told the Monitor. Profits from the crop have helped educate local children, some of whom are High Court judges, the farmers claimed.
"It is only through marijuana growing that we have managed to take our children to school. It is on this record that the district has been able to produce good judges and lawyers," one of the farmers said. Another farmer, Mzee Opio Wanyama, 78, said he had been growing pot for 30 years and had managed to educate his 15 children with his profits.
Such talk didn't sit well with Steven Wantenga, officer in charge of the Busia Criminal Investigation Department, who said local growers were fond of smuggling their crop into Kenya. They should find other work, he said. "I call upon all local leaders to sensitize the masses about adopting new other income generating activities rather than smuggling and growing marijuana," Wantenga said. But he had no suggestions.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Monday announced plans to initiate a third phase in his now two-year-old effort to eradicate drug use in Thailand, Reuters reported. In the war's first phase, running from February through December 2003, some 2,500 people were killed, with local and international human rights groups pointing the finger at Thai law enforcement death squads.
"As long as I am prime minister, I will not allow narcotic drugs to return," Thaksin vowed at Bangkok police headquarters as he announced this year's campaign before a thousand drug-busting police officers and volunteers.
The new phase in Thaksin's drug war will focus on major meth producers along the Cambodian and Laotian borders, where traffickers have relocated to avoid the crackdown on the Burmese border. The campaign will also target retail dealing in bars and clubs, Thaksin said.
Following the lead of its neighbors in what has become the world's most repressive region in the war on drugs, Vietnamese police over the weekend rounded up more than 650 people in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) nightspots and forced them to undergo on-the-spot urine tests, the newspaper Thanh Nien (Young People) reported Monday. After waiting hours for drug test results, more than 100 people reportedly tested positive for the popular party drug ecstasy.
Extra police had to be called to the scene to keep order as hundreds of youths converged on police headquarters in the middle of the night to see what was happening. Eventually, all nightclub patrons were released, but it was unclear whether those who tested positive would be charged or face other penalties.
According to the Associated Press, ecstasy use is common at nightclubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In March, police in Ho Chi Minh City broke-up three major ecstasy trafficking rings, driving the price per tablet up from $15 last month to $22 now.
Mass sweeps of nightclub patrons in search of drug offenders are not uncommon in Southeast Asia. They have occurred in Bangkok, Singapore, and most recently, Malaysia, as authorities in Southeast Asia seek to suppress an ever-rising level of drug use, especially methamphetamines.
The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare and the ruling Uri Party agreed April 8 to allow courts to impose drug treatment when handing down suspended sentences for drug offenders, the Korea Times reported. The agreement in principle comes some three months after the health ministry unveiled its plan to revise the country's drug laws to allow for court-ordered drug treatment. To go into effect, the proposals must be approved by the South Korean parliament, something that should happen within a year, the Times reported.
Under the proposal, courts would be able to order "drug addicts" into either in-patient or out-patient treatment for up to one year when sentencing them to a suspended jail sentence. The central and local governments would pay all costs. Probation officers would be able to either warn or detain probationers if they believe they are using drugs and would also have the authority to cancel the suspended sentence and return "serious violators" to prison.
Drug abuse is not a large problem in South Korea, a nation of nearly 50 million that had fewer than 7,000 drug arrests last year, of which 4,000 were for personal use, according to the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office. In its annual survey of global drug law enforcement, the US State Department found that "Narcotics production or abuse is not a major problem in the Republic of Korea," although it noted an increase in the use of "club drugs" among urban youth. Methamphetamine has also been a longtime Korean favorite.
Under current Republic of Korea law and practice, convicted drug offenders currently get prison time in many cases. Government officials are using the terminology of "helping drug addicts" and "rehabilitation" to describe the latest proposed intervention into the lives of nonviolent drug users.
What was supposed to have been a model for the Afghan government's new opium eradication program ended in violent confrontation Monday as poppy-growing peasants in the town of Maiwand in Kandahar province greeted Afghan eradicators led by American mercenaries with rocks, clubs, and bullets. According to reports in Reuters and the British newspaper The Independent, at least nine people, including one American, were wounded, and as many as five people were killed.
Some 4,000 protesting villagers blocked the highway from Kandahar with burning tires and confronted the eradicators, and some villagers began throwing rocks at the intruders. Then, according to Reuters, both sides opened fire with assault rifles. "One local was killed and six wounded," a local official told the news agency. Three eradicators, including one identified as a US soldier by Maiwand district chief Khan Agha, were also wounded.
By day's end, according to The Independent, the American security contractors were said to be hunkered down behind razor wire at a protected camp, and the death toll had risen to five. The newspaper reported dense smoke hanging over the town of Maiwan, hundreds of rounds fired, and American helicopter gunships flying overhead.
Maiwan was chosen as a demonstration project because it was considered friendly territory in firm government control. But by mid-week, local political leaders were unable to negotiate a resumption of eradication with angry farmers. Some farmers complained of inequities in the eradication program. "The farmers are angry with the Americans and the Kabul government," one told the Independent. "It is only the fields of the poor that are being destroyed, not the fields of the rich." He also said that wealthy warlords get to keep their stockpiles of opium while farmers lose their crops. And he complained that crops will be spared if the farmer pays bribes or shares kinship ties with the eradicators.
By the time you read this, there is a good chance that the US Supreme Court will have spoken on Raich v. Ashcroft, a major court challenge by medical marijuana patients Angel Raich and Diane Monson to the constitutionality of federal prohibition of medical marijuana use. The Court heard oral arguments on the case last December. (Click here and here for background.)
Last summer, Congress voted for the second time on an amendment that would have forbid the Dept. of Justice from using its resources to block state medical marijuana laws. DRCNet posted a tabulation of the votes online for our readers to find out whether their own Reps voted for or against medical marijuana. That information is still accessible and can be found online here -- click on the HTML, PDF, Excel or delimited text links. If your Rep. is still in Congress this session, you'll be able to see how he or she stands on the issue. Visit the House of Representatives web site and use the "Find Your Representative" tool if you're not sure who represents you in Congress.
Last but not least, visit the Angel Justice web site to learn much more about the Raich/Monson saga.
On March 9, members of Congress introduced H.R. 1184, a bill to repeal the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act, with the largest number of starting sponsors (56) that the bill has yet had. If you are a US voter, then your help is needed to build on this momentum to get this bill passed.
Click here to ask your US Representative to cosponsor H.R. 1184. Even if you don't think your Rep. would support this bill, it's still important to write -- it could make the difference in how much opposition we face when the legislation comes up for a vote.
Click here to write your Senators asking them to introduce and support equivalent legislation in the Senate.
If you live in Rhode Island, click here to ask your state legislators to support legislation just introduced (at our suggestion) that would have the state make up for federal aid lost by Rhode Island residents because of the drug provision and put the state legislature on record calling on Congress to repeal the drug provision.
If you live in Arizona, click here to ask your state legislators to support legislation (also introduced at our suggestion) to put the state legislature on record calling on Congress to repeal the drug provision.
Thank you for taking action! You can also read about our two big events this month on this issue -- a Wednesday, March 9 fundraiser to provide to scholarships for students affected by the drug provision, featuring US Rep. John Conyers and former drug war prisoner Kemba Smith; and a Thursday morning, March 10 press conference in the Capitol with seven members of Congress and other advocates announcing the introduction of H.R. 1148 -- click here to read the Drug War Chronicle report about both events. Video footage and pictures from the events are now online as well, formatted for Windows Media Player -- visit www.RaiseYourVoice.com or go straight to the Wednesday night pics or the Thursday morning pics. Finally, please consider making a generous donation to support this accelerating campaign.
April 15, 1998: California Superior Court Judge David Garcia orders Dennis Peron, author of Proposition 215, to cease operations of his Cannabis Cultivators' Club (CCC) in San Francisco. Judge Garcia says, "The court finds uncontradicted evidence in this record that defendant Peron is currently engaging in illegal sales of marijuana." The illegal sales, the court said, were to "primary caregivers," not patients as defined by California's medical marijuana law. Peron agrees to resign as head of the CCC in an effort to keep the operation open.
April 16, 1998: The Iowa Legislature overwhelmingly approves a bill enhancing marijuana penalties for repeat offenders, and enabling police officers to conduct drug tests on drivers who appear to be operating under the influence of marijuana.
April 16, 2004: Richard Paey, a wheelchair-bound pain patient, is sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Florida judge. Paey, who was convicted of forging prescriptions for pills to ease chronic, severe back pain dating from failed surgeries after an auto accident in 1985, was sentenced under Florida law as a drug dealer -- though even prosecutors conceded there is no evidence he did anything other than consume the opioid pain relievers himself.
April 17, 2002: Two US pilots mistakenly drop a bomb that killed four Canadians in Afghanistan while under the influence of amphetamines issued to them by the US government to stay awake during the mission.
April 18, 2001: Kenneth Hayes and Michael Foley are acquitted by a Sonoma County, California jury on charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana. The two had been arrested for growing 899 marijuana plants for the 1,200 members of a San Francisco medical marijuana club called CHAMP (Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems). Hayes ran the club.
April 19, 1943: Albert Hoffman takes the first dose of LSD in Basel, Switzerland.
April 20, 2001: American Christian missionary Veronica Bowers and her seven-month-old daughter, Charity, are killed when their small plane is shot out of the sky by a Peruvian military jet as part of a CIA-backed program that patrols the Amazon Basin for drug couriers.
April 20, 2002: Robin Prosser of Missoula, Montana begins a hunger strike demanding access to governmental grown marijuana to help her treat symptoms of Lupus. Prosser says that marijuana helps combat the illness and relieves her of pain and stress.
April 21, 2004: US Circuit Court Judge Jeremy Fogel bars the US Dept. of Justice from interfering with Mike and Valerie Corral, heads of a medical marijuana hospice near Santa Cruz, California, with their 250 patients, or with their marijuana garden. Judge Fogel cites Raich v. Ashcroft, a 2004 Ninth Circuit decision which found the federal government has no jurisdiction over patients who grow their own plants.
Best-selling author Andrew Weil, MD, will be online for an audio web chat with Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann on the re-release of "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs and The Natural Mind," two books that have been recognized as the definitive guide to legal and illegal drugs. Dr. Weil's work has helped to frame the debate surrounding drug use in society, as well as exploding the myth that legal drugs are substantially different from illegal ones.
The Drug Policy Alliance is seeking a Deputy Director of National Affairs for its Washington, DC office. The Deputy Director of National Affairs works with the Director of National Affairs to promote drug policy reform in the nation's capitol, influence federal legislation and regulations, and change the national drug policy debate.
Candidates should have at least three years experience in advocacy or public policy; experience coordinating legislative campaigns (lobbying, media, grassroots mobilization, etc.); working knowledge of the federal legislative process (Capitol Hill experience is a plus, especially Health, Judiciary, or Appropriations); good research, writing and public speaking skills; and strong attention to detail.
Job responsibilities will include tracking and analyzing federal legislation and executive branch polices; working with the Internet communications and membership departments to mobilize supporters to take action; developing fact sheets, position papers and other lobbying materials; managing the work of office interns; planning Congressional briefings and other events; and communicating the Alliance's positions to Congressional staffers and representatives of other organizations.
Salary commensurate with experience, plus excellent benefits. Qualified applicants should fax or e-mail a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and salary requirements by April 18 to Lancelota Washington, [email protected] or fax to (202) 216-0803.
Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to [email protected].
April 15, 11:00am, Washington, DC, screening "The Chilling Effect: Pain Patients in the War on Drugs." At the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2257, visit http://www.painreliefnetwork.org for further information.
April 17, 1:30-5:00pm, Beverly Hills, CA, "Westside Story: A Conversation about Drug Policy, Prevention, and Addiction Treatment," conference sponsored by Progressive Jewish Alliance, Progressive Christians Uniting and Drug Policy Alliance. At Temple Emanuel, 8844 Burton Way, contact (310) 384-0807 or [email protected] for further information.
April 18, 8:00am-4:00pm, Salem, OR, "Education Day" with Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, contact Sandee at (503) 233-4202 or
April 19, 8:30am-3:00pm, "The Colombian Conflict: Regional Impact and Policy Responses," one-day conference sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America. Visit http://www.wola.org/colombia_conf_agenda_april05.pdf for further information, RSVP to [email protected] by 5:00pm, April 12.
April 19, 6:45-8:45pm, Washington, DC, "Harm Reduction 102: Dispelling Some of the Myths," free training at the Social Action Leadership School for Activists. At 733 15th Street, NW, Suite 1020, space limited, visit http://www.ips-dc.org/salsa/signup.asp or call (202) 234-9382 for info or to register.
April 20, 12:15-1:45pm, Washington, DC, " Regional Implications of the Colombian Conflict," forum sponsored by the George Washington University Seminar on Andean Culture and Politics and the Washington Office on Latin America. At the GWU Marvin Center, 800 21st St. NW, room 403, RSVP to Jamie Foster at [email protected].
April 20, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Marijuana: Medicine, Menace, or Both?" Forum at the San Francisco Medical Society, 1409 Sutter Street (at Franklin), RSVP to (415) 921-4987 or [email protected] or visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/events/event.cfm?eventID=500 for info.
April 20, 7:30pm, Boulder, CO, "Regulation vs. Prohibition," debate featuring Jay Fleming of LEAP and Scoot Crandall of Team Fort Collins. At the University of Colorado, Glenn Miller Ballroom, contact [email protected] for further information.
April 20, 7:30pm, Falls Church, VA, Reignite-It concert and fundraiser for the 35th Anniversary July 4th Smoke-In. At the State Theater, 220 N. Washington St., admission $12 in advance or $15 at the door, visit http://www.reignite-it.com for information.
April 20, 8:00pm, Pomona, NJ, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo performance by Sheldon Norberg. At Richard Stockton College, call (609) 652-4205 or visit http://www.adopedealer.com for info.
April 21, 7:00pm, Williamsburg, VA, "A Cop on Drugs," legalization debate including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's Peter Christ. Sponsored by William & Mary College Students for Sensible Drug Policy, location to be announced, contact John McLean at (804) 426-3444 or [email protected] or Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.
April 21-23, Tacoma, WA, 15th North American Syringe Exchange Convention. Sponsored by the North American Syringe Exchange Network, visit http://www.nasen.org for further information or contact NASEN at (253) 272-4857 or [email protected].
April 22-24, Washington, DC, "Promoting Health and Justice," 1st Annual National Drug Policy Summit of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition. At the Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street NW, registration $250 (or $225 by April 15) for summit only, $500 including Friday evening black tie reception and dinner, $250 for reception and dinner only. Click here or contact (202) 806-8604 or [email protected] for further information.
April 26, 6:45-8:45pm, Washington, DC, " Politics and Race: A Truly American Perspective," free training at the Social Action Leadership School for Activists (SALSA). At 733 15th Street, NW, Suite 1020, space limited, visit http://www.ips-dc.org/salsa/signup.asp or call (202) 234-9382 for info or to register.
April 30, 11:00am-3:00pm, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!" 2nd Annual National Pain Rally. At the US Capitol Reflecting Pool, call (662) 247-1471 or visit http://www.AmericanPainInstitute.org for further information.
April 30, 7:00pm, New York, NY, "Drop-The-Rockathon," all night benefit concert against the Rockefeller drug laws. Sponsored by Revel Arts and Liv-I-Culture Holistic Living Arts Collective, at Space 515, 515 W. 29th St. (between 10th and 11th, A/C/E to 34th St. by subway), admission $10-$20 sliding scale. For further information visit http:// www.Liv-I-Culture.com or e-mail [email protected].
May 4, Washington, DC, Marijuana Policy Project 10th Anniversary Gala. Featuring Montel Williams and Rep. Sam Farr, at the Washington Court Hotel, contact Francis DellaVecchia at (310) 452-1879 or [email protected] or visit http://www.mpp.org/galas/ for further information.
May 4-6, Columbus, OH, " COPE Corrections: Opportunity for Professional Excellence," 4th annual conference of the Ohio Community Corrections Association. At the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, 50 N. 3rd St., visit http://www.occaonline.org/event_conference2005.asp for further information.
May 7, numerous locations worldwide, "Million Marijuana March," visit http://www.cures-not-wars.org for further information.
May 9, Santa Monica, CA, Marijuana Policy Project 10th Anniversary Gala. Featuring Montel Williams and Tommy Chong, at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel, contact Francis DellaVecchia at (310) 452-1879 or [email protected] or visit http://www.mpp.org/galas/ for further information.
June 1, Seattle, WA, John W. Perry Fund fundraiser, featuring US Rep. Jim McDermott. Details to be announced, contact DRCNet Foundation at (202) 362-0030 or [email protected] for updates or visit http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/ online.
August 13, Washington, DC, "Million Family Members and Friends of Inmates March," sponsored by Family Members of Inmates. Contact Roberta Franklin at (334) 220-4670 or [email protected] for further information.
August 19-20, Salt Lake City, UT, "Science and Response in 2005," First National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis C. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Harm Reduction Project, visit http://www.harmredux.org/conference2005.htm after January 15 or contact Amanda Whipple at (801) 355-0234 ext. 3 for further information.
August 20-21, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, Seattle Hempfest 2005. At Myrtle Edwards Park, Pier 70, admission free, visit http://www.hempfest.org or (206) 781-5734 or [email protected] for further information.
August 28, 11:00am-9:00pm, Olympia, WA, Third Annual Olympia Hempfest. At Heritage Park, visit http://www.olyhempfest.com for further information.
November 9-12, Long Beach, CA, "Building a Movement for Reason, Compassion and Justice," the 2005 International Drug Policy Reform Conference. Sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, at the Westin Hotel, details to be announced. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/events/dpa2005/ for updates.
November 13-16, Markham, Ontario, "Issues of Substance," Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse National Conference 2005. At Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre & Spa, visit http://www.ccsa.ca/pdf/ccsa-annconf-abstract-2005-e.pdf for info.
April 5-8, 2006, Santa Barbara, CA, Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time, details to be announced, visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com for updates.
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