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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #394 -- 7/8/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


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"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Table of Contents

    Too much information from the state of North Dakota.
    Iran and Communist China are overtaking the United States in reforming policies lying at the intersection of the drug war and AIDS.
    A suppressed British government report told Tony Blair two years ago the drug war has failed.
    A broad and diverse coalition is coming together next month to protest the mass incarceration of their loved ones, friends, and countrymen.
    A New York anti-drug activist has edited together video clips from more than ten years ago to attempt to smear the medical marijuana issue. But the tape fails to deliver the damning evidence its maker promises.
    Are you an activist who wants to go to the national drug reform conferences but can never afford it? There may be a scholarship for you.
    Meeting for its annual convention in Knoxville last weekend, the National Organization for Women ( approved a resolution opposing the current drug war and calling instead for an approach to drug use, abuse, and addiction that emphasizes compassion, health, and human rights.
    The US Dept. of Education last week fixed an error on its financial aid web site that deterred some would-be students with drug convictions who might have regained their eligibility. But the deadline for applying had passed the day before.
    This week we have a Texas twofer featuring a wheeling-dealing sheriff and a pot-selling cop, a New Hampshire drug task force with problems, yet another drug-dealing prison guard in New Mexico, and a coke-selling cop in Tennessee.
    Harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges have been underway in Brazil for at least 15 years, but have always operated in the legal shadows. Not anymore.
    In a surprise move, the court that convicted Schapelle Corby of marijuana smuggling and sentenced her to 20 years has agreed to hear new witnesses that supporters say could win her freedom.
    Afghanistan is in danger of once again become a "haven for terrorists," according to the US Government Accountability Office, and "limited" progress in suppressing Afghanistan's booming opium trade is a factor.
    A raft of news articles about methamphetamine accompanied the release of a police chiefs survey. But the subtext was funding.
    King County, Washington's jail hopes to become the second in the country to provide methadone maintenance to imprisoned addicts.
    A report by the nonpartisan think tank Taxpayers for Common Sense has criticized government spending against marijuana.
  15. WEB SCAN
    Change The Climate Flash Animation, Pain and the Law Report, Boston and Providence Phoenix on Medical Marijuana
    Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.
    The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project is hiring for the positions of National Field Organizer and Advocacy Associate.
    Students for Sensible Drug Policy is seeking applications for the position of Legislative Director.
    The ACLU of Washington is seeking a Campaign Manager for the Drug Law Reform Project in its Seattle office.
  20. ERRATA
    Moises Hernandez Case
    Showing up at an event can be the best way to get involved! Check out this week's listings for events from today through next year, across the US and around the world!

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: Falling Behind the Ayatollahs and the Communists

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 7/8/05

David Borden
One of the most encouraging developments on the global drug policy and harm reduction scene recently has been the adoption of needle exchange programs in some unexpected places. Though hard-line anti-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder flew in some of his ideological allies from several harshly prohibitionist Asian countries for a committee hearing he held last February, as part of an effort to squash harm reduction internationally, it was his attempt that got squashed last week at the Geneva UNAIDS session. And the months following the Souder circus have seen China and Malaysia, of all places, adopt needle exchange and announce that they have done so. (Not one but two of Souder's guests at the hearing were from Malaysia.)

This week the Washington Post reported on yet another culturally conservative Asian country, Iran, taking this and other steps. According to a Tuesday article by Karl Vick, "Fearing an AIDS epidemic, Iran's theocratic government has dropped a zero-tolerance policy against increasingly common heroin use and now offers addicts low-cost needles, methadone and a measure of social acceptance." Actually, Iran already has an AIDS epidemic, partly due to ill-conceived drug policies (some now former) that increased the sharing of syringes by injection drug users. But better late than never.

As I began to read the article, I thought to myself, "I hope someone in here points out how Iran is now ahead of the US on this" -- ahead of our federal government, anyway. I was pleased to see, halfway through, harm reduction stalwart Bob Newman do the honors. Newman, who among other things directs the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York -- and who provided testimony supporting harm reduction at the Souder hearing -- was quoted saying that Iranian policies are "in very dramatic contrast to what has been happening with increasing frequency in America, where the judiciary and the criminal justice system in general... does not let the patients receive the treatment that the physician says is necessary."

But Newman wasn't the only one. Azarakhsh Mokri of Iran's National Center for Addiction Studies, a government agency, described how he encountered no official resistance when asking to be able to begin a pilot program dispensing actual opium to addicts instead of methadone. Mokri contrasted this with a bill currently before the US Congress that would create prison terms for Americans who fail to report marijuana dealers to the police. "Sometimes I think the ayatollahs are more liberal" than the Americans, he told the Post.

With regard to marijuana, at least, even the Mullahs were more liberal. According to a New York Times article published December 2001, the Taliban's penal code in Afghanistan specified that "A person who cultivates marijuana will be jailed until his family members get rid of the plant." As we expressed it in this newsletter, a marijuana grower would have faced fewer sanctions in Kandahar than in Kansas City (5 to 15 years for any amount), less trouble in Mazar-e-Sharif than Memphis (1 to 5 years for growing more than a half ounce), and fewer headaches in Tora Bora than Tulsa (2 years to life for any amount).

Progress in drug policy by no means excuses the human rights abuses committed by repressive governments, which certainly includes the ones mentioned here. We condemned the Taliban in this newsletter in 1998 when they first showed up in the drug war radarscope, for example. Iran's treatment of women is deplorable. And it is scarcely a week since China perpetrated its usual raft of drug executions as part of its "celebration" of the UN's yearly International Anti-Drugs Day. Malaysia also executes people for drug offenses.

But all the more stark, then, is the failure of the US to rationally deal with the tragedy lying at the intersection of AIDS and the drug war. I have previously written that the US government in its drug policy has aligned less with its allies in the free world and more with those nations where democracy, human rights, and rule of law are weak. But now it seems even theocratic Iran and communist China are beginning to see the light faster than Souder and his powerful allies on Capitol Hill.

Freedom is only a word if it isn't realized in practice, and there's no appropriate exception for that in drug policy. We are the world's leading jailer, and that undermines our standing in the world court of public opinion when we take on all the other necessary human rights battles. Bans and biases against needle exchange only take it further over the top. Let's try not to get too much further behind the Ayatollahs and the Mullahs and the autocrats in the ways we deal with the drug issue. It's embarrassing.

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2. Feature: The Downing Street Drug Memo

Editor's Note: This article was written before Thursday's terrorist attacks in London took place. We decided to run it this week rather than delay its publication because the story broke this week, in support of the work of our British colleagues, and because drug prohibition has bearing on global security. DRCNet extends our condolences to friends and families of the victims, and our wishes to all Britons for strength during this time.

A study on Britain's drug strategy commissioned two years ago for Prime Minister Tony Blair and suppressed up until last week concluded bluntly that British drug prohibition has failed. The government released part of the report last Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and other London newspapers, but withheld the section of the report dealing with efforts to defeat drug trafficking, where the Cabinet Office of Strategy team led by former BBC director general Lord Birt reached its most politically explosive conclusions.

But somebody leaked the still-suppressed section of the report to the Guardian Sunday, which promptly posted it online for all to see. The report's findings, and the Blair government's futile attempts to squelch them, are creating political waves in Britain despite London's fond wishes that the whole thing would disappear in the bright glare of the media focus on the Live 8 concert and the G8 summit taking place in Scotland.

With its pointed comments that British drug dealers have higher profit margins than Gucci, Luis Vuitton, and other luxury goods purveyors and its disconcerting revelation that police would have to intercept up to 80% of drugs entering Britain to affect dealers' profit margin (seizure rates are 20% at best, the report noted), it is little wonder the Blair government didn't want the report to ever see the light of day. Its grim conclusion that even if prohibitionist measures succeeded in driving up prices, the victory would be phyrric because problem drug users would commit more crimes to obtain their drugs, only added to the government's desire to bury the report. Lord Birt and his study group presented the Blair government with the facts about the efficacy of drug prohibition, and Whitehall averted its eyes.

Opposition politicians and drug reform advocates pounced. "What this report shows and what the government is too paranoid to admit is that the 'war on drugs' is a disaster," said Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten in a statement responding to stories in the Guardian, the Observer, and other newspapers. "We need an evidence-led debate about the way forward but if they withhold the evidence we can't have the debate."

And an investigation into the timing of the report's release is needed as well, Oaken added. "Now that the report has been leaked, we can all see that the Government was trying to pull the wool over our eyes. The Information Commissioner must investigate the way in which the report was slipped out hours before Live 8. This government seems unable to face up to its public duty and let people see the information they are entitled to see. We cannot allow ministers to continue to bury bad news."

And it's not just opposition politicians who are raking the Blair government's drug policies. "The leaked report from the Birt think tank is devastating proof of the futility of prohibition," Labor Party Member of Parliament Paul Flynn, a long-time critic of drug prohibition, told DRCNet.

"This is a devastating critique of the government's policy and a powerful argument against prohibition," said Danny Kushlick of the Transform Drug Policy Institute. "Ministers should now publish the whole report and establish an inquiry to balance the cost of the war against drugs against the harm being done by the illegal trade in drugs."

"Drug policy reformers have been sounding alarm bells about the issues contained in the 'how the drug war has failed' report for many years," said Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt, a UK activist. "How long do we have to send this message out before legislation changes substantially? How many more people have to die in illegal drug dealing scenes, or be imprisoned unnecessarily, or killed 'inadvertantly' by cops in their line of duty or by each other over drug turf issues? How many and for how long?"

Mordaunt expected the report to have little impact on policy, she told DRCNet. "The only hope I got from it was to have it on the front page of our Guardian newspaper at this moment in history with the G8 going on in Gleneagles, Scotland. "It puts drug policy reform on the global social justice movement's map," she said. "Thank God. It is way past time."

The report's pages typically consist of a bold finding on some aspect of the drug trade -- peasant drug crop production, money laundering, trafficking networks, British networks -- with supporting evidence in the form of graphs, tables, and sidebars filling the remainder of the page. Among the top-of the-page findings of Lord Birt and his colleagues:

On drug plant production:

  • "Western influence in production areas is limited because a drugs economy thrives where the rule of law has failed, or where international norms have been breached."
  • "Drug crop eradication alone appears not to limit illicit crops in the long term."
On drug trafficking:
  • "The capacity of the drugs industry to source and supply heroin and cocaine is enhanced by the wide diversity of routings, methods and types/scales of organizations involved."
  • Seizures only have a limited impact on profitability for traffickers."
  • "Western government interventions have tended to have a short-lived or negligible impact on retail prices downstream. "The high seizure rates required to put a major trafficker out of business pose a substantial challenge to law enforcement."
On money laundering:
  • "The money laundering business has become increasingly sophisticated and difficult to disrupt."
On the British drug trade:
  • "The long term decline in the real price of drugs, against a backdrop of rising consumption, indicates that an ample supply of heroin and cocaine has been reaching the UK market.
  • "UK importers and suppliers make enough profit to absorb the modest cost of drug seizures."
The Birt report's conclusion, which also addressed consumption issues covered in the first half of the report, is hard to sugarcoat: "The drugs supply market is highly sophisticated, and attempts to intervene have not resulted in sustainable disruption to the market at any level," the group declared. "As a result the supply of drugs has increased, prices are low enough not to deter initiation, but prices are high enough to cause heavy users to commit high levels of crime fund their habits."

The Birt report presents British lawmakers and voters alike with a stark choice: Continue down the path of prohibition with no real prospect of success, or find a better way that reduces instead of increases the harm to both drug using individuals and the societies of which they are an inescapable part.

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3. Feature: Two Million is Too Many -- Grassroots March Against Mass Imprisonment Aims at Washington, DC

They are coming from Alabama and Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. They are coming from Massachusetts and New York and Connecticut. They are coming from Texas and Colorado and as far west as California and Washington state. They are friends and family members of the more than two million people imprisoned in the United States. They are black, white, and brown. They are small-town activists, nationwide networks, and members of the grassroots sprouting up from the cracks in the prison walls. And they are all heading for Washington, DC, on August 13 as part of a nationwide "Journey for Justice" for America's prisoners and their loved ones.

Southern Correctional Institution, Troy, NC
Energized by opposition to the mindless grinding of the US criminal justice machine, which leads the world in putting its citizens behind bars, march organizers say it will demand an end to mass incarceration as social policy, the return of the vote to people who have done their time, an end to the physical abuse and neglect that is endemic even though hidden by high walls of official silence. They are also demanding an end to the war on drugs, under which nearly half a million Americans now rot for years in prison for "crimes" that had no victim.

The notion that the time is right for a national march to demand redress for the crimes committed against individuals and communities -- most often poor and minority -- by the criminal justice system had its genesis in the homegrown activism of Montgomery, Alabama, radio personality Roberta Franklin, herself a former prisoner. Responding to her own experiences as well as the voices of her listeners, who complained bitterly about the Alabama criminal justice system and the state's notorious prison conditions, Franklin formed a local group, Family and Friends of People Incarcerated (FFPI). When 3,000 people marching under the FFPI banner took to the streets of Montgomery last year, the idea of replicating that protest in the nation's capital took root.

"I'm from Montgomery, the home of the grassroots social justice movement," said Franklin. "This is where Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, and this is where we start saying no more to all these harsh prison sentences. After that march here in Montgomery, I thought it was time for a national march. I mortgaged my house, and other people are making sacrifices, too. We don't have any grant money, but we do have more people coming on board all the time, and we're raising money however we can. We've got women doing fish fries," she told DRCNet.

The November Coalition, an organization devoted to freeing the prisoners of the drug war, is one group that heeded the call. "We're going to be there," said Coalition head Nora Callahan, from the group's offices across the country in Colville, Washington. "I wouldn't miss it for the world. There are lots of grassroots groups coming together on this -- more people than the drug reform movement ever brought together -- and these are people and groups who have been working on state and local issues, but who are ready to go to Washington because they understand that if they want their states to change, they need the federal government to stop being so threatening," she told DRCNet.

"There is a deep sense that the problem lies at the top of the national political structure, and that means Washington," Callahan continued. "In the states, where legislators are accountable and have to hold to their budgets, they are finding it impossible to continue down this path of mass incarceration, but in Washington, it is as if budget constraints don't exist. Who is holding back change? It's the feds. When the Supreme Court threw out the sentencing guidelines in the Blakely and Booker cases, that resounded with thousands of people all over the country. Now Congress is responding with crummy legislation, and that is mobilizing a lot of people who want to march on Washington."

Critical Resistance, a national group devoted to abolishing the prison-industrial complex, was also quick to endorse the march. "We have long been involved in supporting the work led by the people most affected by our nation's prison policies," said Zein El-Amine of the group's DC chapter. "In this case, the people leading the march are actually families and friends of prisoners. I don't remember any time in recent history when there has been a mobilization like this in the nation's capital. This is a real grassroots movement," he told DRCNet.

For Critical Resistance, the war on drugs is a key part of the broader resort to mass incarceration. "Everyone knows the war on drugs is a failure," said El-Amine. "We have had mandatory minimums, we have had three-strike sentences, we have half a million drug offenders behind bars. But every time the American people are given the chance to vote, they have chosen drug treatment over the dead end of incarceration. We have seen that in California, Arizona, and other places, including right here in DC, where a measure to divert drug users into treatment instead of prison passed with 78% of the vote. But our mayor, Anthony Williams, has it tied up in court. The war on drugs is a really important issue to DC, and the people voted one way and the officials are resisting these progressive measures."

Critical Resistance DC is doing what it can to pump up attendance, said El-Amine. "We are mainly going to events where we think people will be open to the march and setting up tables and passing out flyers. Our resources are very limited, but we're doing the best we can and will be working with the march's DC host committee."

"I'll be there, and everyone who can go should be there," said Loretta Nall of the US Marijuana Party, herself an Alabama activist who worked with Franklin on last year's Montgomery march. "We marched in Montgomery because Alabama's prisons are at 214% of capacity, the guards are overworked and underpaid, and the health care is nonexistent, and the state responds by creating a new prison task force -- although they've already done that two or three times. We know what the answers are. If you don't change the drug laws, you'll just keep those prisons full."

Again, it's personal. "I have friends and family members in prison," Nall told DRCNet. "It's inhumane to lock people in cages with violent criminals for smoking a joint. It's just insane. That's one reason I'm going to Washington, DC."

Nall is emblematic of the nascent and tentative relationship between the drug reform movement, and its marijuana component in particular, and the broader, largely minority-based local, grassroots movements to ease the nation's harsh criminal justice policies. The large national marijuana advocacy groups, such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, have been silent on the August march. But that may be because no one has asked them about it. Representatives of both groups told DRCNet this week they had not been approached by march organizers.

For many marijuana activists, said Nall, it is a learning curve. "When people first become involved with us, it's about marijuana," she said. "But then they start to focus on what the drug laws do and most people realize it's much broader than just pot; it's a whole system that needs to be destroyed and rebuilt."

Not all drug reform organizations are staying away from the march. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, while mainly focused on campus-related drug policy issues, has signed on as a march endorser. "Students are tired of attending mediocre schools that could be improved with the valuable public resources that are instead being used to construct more and more prisons to lock up more and more nonviolent drug offenders," said SSDP communications director Tom Angell. "The government should prioritize education over incarceration," he told DRCNet.

The Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform is another reform group that has picked up the gauntlet. "Women are the fastest growing, least violent segment of the prison population. Women are losing their children and families and communities are being destroyed by these harsh drug laws that make people responsible for drug crimes and conspiracies when they aren't really responsible at all," said Jean Marlowe, the group's cofounder and executive director. "We are marching for the 6.5 million children in this country who have a parent in prison in jail or on parole or probation. That's why we think this march is important," she told DRCNet. "When children are abused in the name of war on drugs, when they are taken from their homes and ripped from their families to grow up with no sense of security, it's time for women to step up and say these policies will change."

For WONPR's Marlowe, who did time herself in the federal prison system, her activism is a promise kept. "When I left the Alderson prison camp, I promised those girls I would give them and their children a voice, I promised them that I would let people know how outrageous these drugs laws are. I wish I could have brought them all home with me, but all I can give them is my word, so here I am."

"Not all wisdom resides in Washington, and grassroots leadership around the country deserves to be encouraged," said Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, who will address the march in Washington. "I am completely sympathetic to the issues that Roberta and others are organizing around and I'm looking forward to the march on August 13. I'm encouraging everyone to come and bring their colleagues," he told DRCNet.

Jennifer Williamson of Rice, Texas, knows the agony of having a family member behind bars, too, and as is the case many others involved, it is that personal experience with the criminal justice system that is fueling her activism. Her mentally disturbed 20-year-old son is in prison in Florida, where both his mental and his physical problems go untreated, she told DRCNet. "I went to see him in jail there, and you wouldn't believe it. He's got a broken bone sticking up out of his shoulder and they don't fix it. He needs mental health treatment, but they don't even want to acknowledge he has a problem. I couldn't do anything but cry when I saw him," she said.

"They are not doing prisoners right throughout the country," Williamson said. "Something has to change. You keep forcing air into a balloon, and it pops. You keep kicking a dog and he will eventually bite. I wrote letters to my senators and representatives, but nobody wrote me back. I wrote to Gov. Bush, and his office said he would look into it, but nothing has happened. I'm going to Washington, DC, even if I have to go alone," said the small-town Texas mother.

Like others involved in the march, Williamson is doing what she can to ensure that she is not alone. "When I went to see my son, I took 150 flyers for the march and plastered them on gas stations and conveniences stores along I-10 from Texas to Florida," she said.

In a low-budget, grassroots campaign like the Journey for Justice, what Williamson did needs to be multiplied a thousand times. We will know on August 13 whether it succeeded.

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4. Feature: Damn Mad Dad Uses Ancient Video Clips in Anti-Medical Marijuana Smear Campaign

A New York anti-drug activist has edited together a few comments made by a trio of drug reformers more than ten years ago and trumpeted the resulting minutes-long video as putting to rest once and for all "the lie" that marijuana has medicinal value. But while the video has caused a minor flurry among true-believing drug fighters and provided an opportunity for ultra-conservative foes of financier George Soros to bash him over drug policy, it delivers neither the promised damning evidence of perfidy nor a smoking gun (or joint, for that matter).

"If there was ever any doubt about the lie that has been perpetuated on the American people about 'medical marijuana,' this video clip should put the matter to rest," wrote Steven Steiner, the founder of both Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers and the anti-Soros attack site Soros Monitor where the video is available.

What the clip actually shows is a few seconds of former National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Richard Cowan explaining to an early 1990s crowd that "the key to it [legalization] is medical access because once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically under medical supervision the whole scam is going to be blown... Once there's medical access and if we continue to do what we have to do -- and we will -- then we'll get full legalization."

Viewers are supposed to infer that Cowan's use of the word "scam" refers to marijuana. But last week, Cowan told one reporter that the scam he was referring to was marijuana prohibition.

Further damning evidence of the medical marijuana "hoax" comes when cannabis cultivation guru Ed Rosenthal jokingly remarked that he had a "latent case" of glaucoma, but it had never been diagnosed because he was already treating himself for it. Besides, said Rosenthal, "I like to get high."

But more than half the video consists of footage of Drug Policy Alliance drug education expert Marsha Rosenbaum, or "the infamous Marsha Rosenbaum," as Steiner referred to her, in a talk having nothing to do whatsoever with medical marijuana. Instead, Rosenbaum discussed the notion of exposing young people not just to worst case examples of drug users but also to people who successfully functioned as drug users.

Picked up by a handful of conservative news agencies, such as the Christian News Association, the video and Steiner's press release made their way into the blogosphere, proving quite popular with arch-conservative sites like Free Republic and News With Views. They also caught the attention of Accuracy in Media, a self-described media watchdog group with a decidedly conservative bent, whose editor, Cliff Kincaid, took Steiner's press release and ran with it in a June 30 column. Saying the video could deal "a major blow" to the medical marijuana movement, "largely funded by billionaire George Soros," because it "gives the lie to the claim that we often see in the media that smoking marijuana is a legitimate medical treatment for people with diseases," Kincaid concludes that "the video proves that 'medical marijuana' is a joke to those on the inside of the pro-pot movement who realize that getting the public and the media to accept the notion that smoking marijuana alleviates health problems is a major step down the road to complete legalization of dope."

Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, wasn't buying that. "The reality is that medical marijuana is not going to lead to marijuana legalization,” he told DRCNet. "Legislators are not going to be somehow hornswoggled into voting to legalize marijuana because they voted for medical marijuana."

Nevertheless, for Kincaid, "the Steiner video is just the latest evidence that 'medical marijuana' is just a front for the illegal drug movement and that it exploits sick people." The mass media is part of the problem, Kincaid implies, asking, "But will the major media report on the shocking and explosive comments on the tape?"

Well, no. Unlike Accuracy in Media and the hyperventilating blogosphere, the mass media failed to notice anything shocking or explosive in off-handed comments from a decade ago which prove little except that Ed Rosenthal has a sense of humor.

"In some sense, I think this is a testament to the success of the medical marijuana movement that folks like Steiner have to reach into the past in such a trivial way to attack the issue," said Sterling, who saw little possibility of the video having any impact at all. "I don't think we have to worry a lot about 11-year-old videos."

Steiner, the founder of DAMMADD and apparent source of the video, has used his son's 2001 Oxycontin overdose death as the raison d'etre for the anti-drug crusade he began shortly thereafter and shows photos of his dead body on his web site. Bizarrely enough, Steiner takes money from the company which manufactured the drug that killed his son and uses it to attack medical marijuana, which has never killed anyone. According to his web site, his largest donor is none other than Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin, who have kicked in at least $50,000 dollars in blood money.

While Steiner says the purpose of DAMMADD is two-fold, to operate a snitch program (he claims 68 arrests and 35 convictions so far) and to "raise drug awareness," he has become increasingly obsessed with George Soros. Along with creating the Soros Monitor, a curious amalgamation of drug war hysteria and conservative ire derived from Soros' efforts to see President Bush defeated last November, Steiner rushed the stage at a Soros speech at the National Press Club in October, waving a photo of his dead son and yelling until he was none-too-gently removed from the scene.

But the video and its use as a vehicle to attack not only medical marijuana but also George Soros was notable, Sterling told DRCNet. "Even before Soros jumped into the 2004 election with some very big feet, he was a target of a segment of the conservative movement, and this is part of that. Some of them think his involvement in drug policy reform or medical marijuana is mud that can be slung at his Democratic political activities, and in that sense, it's very much red-baiting and mud-slinging. It's possible that one of the goals of the Steiner types is to try to embarrass him around drug policy reform and hope he would back away, but I would be extremely surprised if that happened."

Marsha Rosenbaum, who was not only featured in the video but was also attacked in Kincaid's column, felt bushwhacked. While she said that her thinking had evolved and that she no longer thought it practicable to expose youths to controlled drug users -- they should instead be exposed to the research tools that can help them make their own decisions -- she said the episode left her feeling unfairly attacked. "It doesn't feel very good to have your message and your statements taken out of context by people who mean to hurt you," she told DRCNet. "Say what we are actually saying, but this whole digging up of snippets from years in the past is a cheap shot."

In the light of the video, Rosenbaum had one word of advice for people speaking in public. "Always assume the other side is in the audience -- with the cameras rolling," she advised.

Where will DAMMADD mad dad Steve Steiner strike next? Stay tuned.

Disclosure: DRCNet is indirectly a recipient of Soros funding.

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5. Announcement: Scholarships Available to Drug Policy Reform Conference in Long Beach This November

Many of you know from our newsletter that this November, a major gathering of drug policy reformers will take place in Long Beach, California -- the 2005 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance. Common Sense for Drug Policy, in hopes of making this the largest drug reform conference to date, has made a substantial commitment to provide scholarships to help interested attendees afford to go. DRCNet has been asked to help find some of those people.

The scholarships are intended for individuals who have some demonstrated record of activism, ideally including drug policy reform or harm reduction, but whose opportunities to interact with reformers on a national scale has been limited due to financial constraints. In particular, the scholarships are intended for people who have not attended any of the last three NORML conferences or the last two DPA conferences. They will include the conference registration fee (a savings of at least $250), and up to $750 toward travel and lodging, depending on the individual's financial situation and travel costs.

If you fit this description and want to attend the conference, please e-mail us at [email protected]. Include information on your past and current activism, as well as how much you can afford to spend (if anything) out of your own pocket to get there, and what conferences if any you've attended in the past. (If you don't fit the above criteria, or aren't sure, feel free to contact us anyway, but understand that your chances of scholarship may be less. We are only making recommendations for scholarships, not the final decisions.)

Needless to say, DRCNet will be there, and we hope to see you there too. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

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6. The Long March: NOW Adopts Stance Opposing Drug War -- After Prodding from Activists

Meeting for its annual convention in Nashville last weekend, the National Organization for Women approved a resolution opposing the current drug war and calling instead for an approach to drug use, abuse, and addiction that emphasizes compassion, health, and human rights. In addition, the resolution calls on NOW to educate its membership about the harms perpetrated by current drug policy and to create an ad hoc committee to develop an action plan to work for drug policy reform.

NOW is the nation's largest feminist organization, with some 500,000 contributing members and 550 local chapters. While it is best known for its defense of abortion rights, NOW is dedicated to achieving equality for women, and equal justice for all.

NOW's collective decision to take on the drug war came as a result of a careful intervention by a handful of drug reform movement activists, including Deborah Small of Break the Chains, Angelyn Frazer of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Wyndi Anderson of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Jean Marlowe and Cher Ford-McCullough of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy executive director Scarlett Swerdlow. This small group of activists laid the groundwork for the resolution by organizing and hosting a session at the convention exposing the drug war's dire consequences for women, children, the poor, and minorities.

"With Deborah's help, I was able to draft a resolution that the NOW Congress voted on," said Swerdlow in a message to supporters announcing the news. "The gist of it is that NOW has adopted a resolution opposing the war on drugs."

In the 1960s, some activists opposing the Vietnam War spoke of the need to have their opposition embraced by existing social and political organizations -- unions, professional organizations, civic groups, and the like. Such a strategy they called "the long march through the institutions." Thanks to good work on the ground in Knoxville, drug reform's long march just got one step shorter.

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7. Campus: Education Department Error on HEA Drug Provision Deterred People with Drug Convictions from Applying for Student Aid

The US Department of Education web site regarding student financial aid applications contained false information that likely caused some would-be students to incorrectly think they were ineligible for federal student loans because they had a drug conviction. Under the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision, authored by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), students with drug convictions are not eligible for federal financial assistance, but the act contains provisions allowing some students to regain their eligibility, depending on the date and type of the conviction.

But that important proviso was not as prominent on the Education Department web site as a sentence that misstated things. Near the top of the FAQ, the document instead read that applicants "must not have any drug convictions." The correct information also appeared in the FAQ, but not until much further down in the document.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization which plays a major role in the campaign to repeal the drug provision, reported that it asked the department in early June to fix the error, with the department saying it would do so, but not until later this month. While SSDP couldn't get the department to budge by itself, the glare of public scrutiny could. When the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article about the error last Friday, after SSDP drew the magazine's attention to it, the department managed to get the incorrect information changed the next day.

Unfortunately for students interested in obtaining financial aid for the fall semester, that action came one day after the fall application deadline. More than 160,500 students with drug convictions have been denied financial aid under the anti-drug provision, but not all of them were necessarily ineligible.

"It's shameful that the Department of Education left this misinformation on the web until after the aid deadline and only acted when the press started calling," said SSDP executive director Scarlett Swerdlow. "There's no way to tell how many eligible students saw the Department of Education's webpage and didn't apply for aid because of this false information. The government should be in the business of providing accurate information to citizens, not misleading them about opportunities for education."

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8. Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

And the beat goes on. This week we have a Texas twofer featuring a wheeling-dealing sheriff and a pot-selling cop, a New Hampshire drug task force with problems, yet another drug-dealing prison guard in New Mexico, and a coke-selling cop in Tennessee. Let's get to it:

In San Benito, Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley, former police officer Reymundo Hernandez, 27, was sentenced this week to eight years in federal prison for selling drugs he and his partner seized at traffic stops. The enterprising Hernandez pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute 240 pounds of marijuana. His partner and indicted co-conspirator, Officer Edgar Lopez, has fled, while a civilian co-conspirator was sentenced last fall to three years in prison.

In Weatherford, Texas, former Parker County Sheriff Jay Brown was sentenced Tuesday to a year's probation on charges of abuse of office. Brown had the nifty idea of using money seized in drug cases to purchase vehicles for county use, then later trading them in for less valuable cars and pocketing the difference, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. In one case, he used $3,800 in seized drug money to buy a car, traded it for another valued at $,2600, and pocketed the $1,200 change. Brown also has to pay restitution.

Editor's Note: A tip of the hat to Texas criminal justice blogger Scott Henson's Grits for Breakfast for those two Texas items. Other readers are invited to send in your entries as well. Send them to [email protected].

In Dover, New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Drug Task Force continues to draw scrutiny. The task force has been under the spotlight over a drunken brawl on St. Patrick's Day 2004, and now two of its members, Officers Kyle True and Michelle Murch, are in the news after refusing to testify during a deposition in a drug paraphernalia case. The two officers cited the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination when asked if their paraphernalia expertise was based on knowledge outside their professional experience. That follows a pattern established in the investigation of the bar fight, where both officers also refused to testify. An earlier attorney general's investigation of the bar fight concluded that the drug task force has lost the confidence of area police chiefs and that task force officers' behavior threatened the credibility of police undercover operations across the state.

In Greeneville, Tennessee, former Cocke County Deputy Sheriff Larry Joe Dodgin pleaded guilty July 1 to federal drug and firearms charges. The plea came only two weeks after Dodgin was caught in a $60,000 cocaine buy. But according to the local US attorney's office, Dodgin may only be the beginning. That office told local news channels it has been investigating Cocke County for four years for organized crime, drugs, prostitution, and racketeering. Among those recently netted: 143 people arrested at a cockfight in mid-June.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, a guard at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility was arrested June 29 on drug charges, KFOX-TV reported. Guard Dennis Duran is suspected of smuggling heroin into the jail. He was arrested after he picked up a package he believed contained heroin. He is jailed on $20,000 bond.

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9. Latin America: Brazil Recognizes Harm Reduction

Brazil possesses a vibrant harm reduction movement in ABORDA, the Brazilian Harm Reduction Association, and harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges have been underway in Brazil for at least 15 years, but have always operated in the legal shadows because Brazilian law defined anyone who assists a drug user in using drugs -- such as someone who hands him a clean needle -- as guilty of violating the country's drug laws. Not anymore.

Now, Brazilian harm reduction is beginning to come in from the cold. In a decree issued July 1 and published July 4, the Brazilian Health Ministry announced that it is bringing harm reduction measures under its purview. In the decree, the ministry stated that the measure "determines that actions aimed at social harm reduction and health related to product, substance or drug use will be regulated" by the ministry.

The move is a landmark for Brazil's harm reduction movement, which began in the late 1980s when Fabio Mesquita, who is currently head of AIDS/HIV prevention for the city of Sao Paulo, began a program in the city of Santos. While harm reduction efforts continued to expand during the 1990s and early this decade despite their fuzzy legal status, police repression of programs such as needle exchanges continues on a sporadic basis.

Still, there are now at least 25 harm reduction or drug user organizations in the country, the Health Ministry noted, with nearly 200 harm reduction projects underway, as well as more than 100 "psychosocial attention centers," where drug users can access free, anonymous harm reduction assistance.

"We know this is only one more step in the process of making harm reduction a part of public policy that responds integrally to drug use," said Pedro Gabriel Delgado, national coordinator of mental health policy for the Health Ministry, in a statement announcing the move, "but we know this is a very important step because it means harm reduction will be regulated under public health. We hope the endless resistance to harm reduction we have observed in recent times will now be reduced, but we certainly have plenty to do."

While the legal process continues, said Delgado, the move should be viewed as a true victory. "Today is a day of celebration and acknowledgement for all of those who, anonymous or not, fought for all these years to see these regulations published."

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10. Asia: Indonesia Court Reopens Corby Trial for New Witnesses

Schapelle Corby, the 27-year-old Australian woman whose 20-year sentence for smuggling marijuana into the Indonesian resort of Bali has led to an international uproar in the far South Pacific, will soon be back in court seeking to establish her innocence. In a surprise move, the Denpasar High Court on Bali announced Monday that her trial will be reopened, paving the way for her lawyers to call a dozen witnesses they say can win her freedom.

In an ordeal that became a national soap opera in Australia, the Gold Coast beautician was caught carrying nine pounds of Australian pot in her surfboard bag when she arrived for an October vacation in Bali. Corby proclaimed her innocence, and her defense argued that she was the victim of a drug smuggling operation run by baggage handlers at the Brisbane or Sydney airports. But the Indonesian trial judges did not credit that testimony, instead finding her guilty and sentencing her to 20 years as Australians demanded her freedom and some Indonesian anti-drug activists demanded her execution.

In Bali, Denpasar High Court Chief Judge Gusti Made Lingga ruled that although evidence presented at trial appeared sufficient to convict Corby, the defense had presented "relevant" reasons to reopen the case. If new witnesses could convince the High Court that someone had planted drugs in her bags, she could be acquitted or have her sentence reduced, Linga said.

The new hearing is not a new trial, but will only consider evidence from new witnesses. The same trial judges who convicted Corby in May will hear the evidence, but this time they will not decide guilt or innocence. Instead, they will make a report on the hearing and present it to the High Court, which will render a decision.

While Corby supporters say they have witnesses who will bolster her case that she was set up, whether her defense can provide a witness who can convince the Indonesian courts remains to be seen. Two potential witnesses have named an Australian former prisoner as the owner of the drugs, but he has said he will testify they were not his. Other potential witnesses include Qantas Airlines, Australian airport and Australian customs officials, who could testify to the existence of drug smuggling rings among baggage handlers, but again that evidence is only circumstantial.

The new hearing has not yet been scheduled, but could take place as early as next month, the Indonesian high court said.

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11. Asia: GAO Warns Afghanistan Effort Endangered by Drugs, Terrorists

Afghanistan is in danger of once again becoming a "haven for terrorists," the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported July 30. The congressional watchdog warned that "limited" progress in suppressing the country's booming opium trade and the failure of occupation forces to more quickly set up Afghan military and police forces could result in the deposed Taliban and regional warlords taking control of the country.

incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
At the head of a coalition of Western powers, the United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 in the wake of the attacks on Washington and New York that September. Since then, the country's opium crop, which was almost entirely suppressed by the Taliban in 2000, has rapidly regained its place as the primary motor of the Afghan economy and is now estimated by the United Nations to constitute as much as 90% of the total global opium harvest.

According to GAO, the US military has trained 18,000 of the 43,000 Afghan army troops it wishes to deploy across the country. While training accelerated in 2004, US "efforts to fully equip the increasing number of combat troops have fallen behind, and efforts to establish sustaining institutions, such as a logistics command, needed to support these troops have not kept pace," the report said.

Meanwhile, the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies are keeping up the pace. After two years of relatively low-level combat where US military fatalities did not exceed 50 each year, more than 50 American soldiers have already died this year in Afghanistan, including 16 killed last week when Taliban fighters shot down their helicopter in eastern Kundar province. Two US Navy SEALS were also killed in that incident, and one more is missing and presumed dead.

The opium trade is keeping up the pace, too, and the US and its allies are not keeping up, the GAO reported. Opium production "poses a serious challenge to the Afghan government's authority," said the GAO. The agency quoted the State Department as saying "narcotics revenues breed corruption at virtually all levels of the Afghan government while providing revenues to Taliban remnants, drug lords and other terrorist groups."

Britain, which has been charged with leading the anti-opium fight in Afghanistan, was accused of taking only "limited" actions to challenge the opium economy. The British announced late last month they would be sending an additional 5,000 troops to help wage war on the poppy. The heads of state meeting at the G8 summit Scotland were expected to announce an increase in support for the anti-drug effort in Afghanistan, but that announcement had not come as of press time.

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12. Methamphetamine: In Move to Restore Funding Cuts, Local Officials Dub Meth Public Enemy #1

Police and local officials from across the country used the Tuesday release of a nationwide survey of local officials on the drug problems they faced to call for the restoration of an $804 million drug-fighting program cut from the federal drug budget. According to the survey, officials in 58% of counties across the United States say methamphetamine is their leading problem drug, and they blame it for a variety of woes, from jail overcrowding to increased theft and violent crime to child abuse and neglect.

The North Dakota Dept. of Transportation kindly
provides a complete list of methamphetamine
Newspapers and TV news programs aired stories on the survey release with headlines like "Officials Across US Describe Drug Woes" (New York Times), "Counties Say Meth is Top Drug Threat" (USA Today), and "Sheriffs Say Meth is Top Drug Problem (Washington Post). ABC News led its broadcast Tuesday with the story under the title "The Plague of Meth."

But while the message came through loud and clear in the headlines, the subtext was not meth but money. Officials from the National Association of Counties, whose report The Meth Epidemic in America, provided the hook for both the news stories and a Tuesday Washington news conference, used the survey's release to plead with federal lawmakers to ignore the Bush administration's plan to eliminate the $800 million Justice Assistance program and instead fund it fully. That program pays for the ubiquitous task forces consisting of law enforcement officers from different jurisdictions who specialize in drug war prosecutions.

"This is a national problem that requires national leadership," Angelo Kyle, the president of the association and a member of the Board of Commissioners in Lake County, Illinois, north of Chicago, said at the news conference. The Justice Assistance Program is vital, he told reporters. "With the elimination of that program, that really stifles us from being able to combat this epidemic drug," Mr. Kyle said.

Reality is not quite so grim. In fact, it appears the country is facing more of an epidemic of meth-related law enforcement than an epidemic of meth use. According to the 2003 National Household Survey of Drug Use and Health, the latest year available, there is no rapidly spreading epidemic of meth use. "The number of new users of stimulants generally increased during the 1990s, but there has been little change since 2000," the report found. "Incidence of methamphetamine use generally rose between 1992 and 1998. Since then, there have been no statistically significant changes. There were an estimated 323,000 methamphetamine initiates in 2002." That same survey found that methamphetamine use among 12-to-17-year-olds had actually declined from 0.9% in 2002 to 0.7% in 2003.

Still, the local officials have opened up a rift between themselves and the White House, accusing drug czar John Walters of placing too much emphasis on preventing marijuana use. "On the national level, the federal government still considers marijuana as the No. 1 drug problem in America, but county law enforcement officials have a different perspective on this ranking," the association said in its survey.

"We're not saying that that's misplaced or that they shouldn't be doing this," said Larry Naake, executive director of the association, "but we think that there is now an epidemic that needs to get their attention because it's just as serious, if not more serious, because of the overall consequences of it."

A defensive drug czar's office responded that the Bush administration is working on a national methamphetamine strategy, but that it cannot ignore marijuana because of its estimated 15 million users -- compared to an estimated one million meth users. "We do have to keep all drug threats in context, which means you cannot ignore marijuana," said Office of National Drug Control Strategy policy analyst David Murray.

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13. Opiate Maintenance: King County (Seattle) Seeks Approval to Provide Methadone for Imprisoned Addicts

King County, Washington, jail and public health officials are seeking approval to start providing methadone to prisoners addicted to heroin and other opiates, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday. Only one other jail in the country, New York City's Rikers Island, currently offers methadone maintenance for prisoners.

A synthetic opiate, methadone is used as an oral opiate substitute for people strung out on other opiates, such as heroin, morphine, or oxycodone, the main ingredient in Oxycontin. Methadone maintenance therapy has been found to help addicts stabilize their lives, thus reducing public costs of addiction by reducing drug-related offenses and emergency room expenditures.

"It's going to save taxpayer money in the long haul -- plus give people a chance for a better life," Deb Cummins, a drug treatment manager with the state, told the newspaper.

King County has already budgeted $200,000 for staffing and medications for 2006, as well as an additional $150,000 for community treatment vouchers for inmates on their way out jail.

But methadone maintenance therapy is governed by a thicket of bureaucracies, ranging from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to the Washington state Board of Pharmacy and Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), making approval an arduous process. DSHS is currently considering the King County health department's application for certification -- the first step in the process.

On any given day, the King County Jail holds between 300 and 400 opiate-addicted inmates, said Mike Alstead, head of the Jail Opiate Dependency Engagement and Treatment program (JODET). According to the county's application, the program would start next spring and eventually provide methadone for between 50 and 100 patients per day. The target population will be long-term addicts arrested for misdemeanors or not-so-serious felonies, Alstead told the Post-Intelligencer.

The program also envisions a separate, short-term program for incoming inmates who are addicted, but don't enroll or qualify for the program. Those inmates would be given a 12-day, low-dose methadone program to get them through physical withdrawal.

"What we're trying to do is focus on the people who have the opioid dependency but are also the ones who return to jail over and over again so we can interrupt that cycle," said Alstead."

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14. Report: Taxpayers for Common Sense on Failed Anti-Marijuana Policy

courtesy NORML News,

Federal spending on marijuana-related activities -- primarily enforcing criminal policies prohibiting the drug's use -- cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion annually, but fail to influence the public's use or perception of the drug, according to an economic report released by the nonpartisan Washington, DC think-tank Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"Annual federal marijuana spending is at least $3.67 billion [per year], yet little evidence indicates this spending accomplishes the government's stated goal of reducing marijuana use," concludes the report. Of this total cost, the federal government spends $1.43 billion enforcing marijuana prohibition, $1.11 billion for marijuana use prevention (which includes funding for anti-drug media campaigns and school-based drug testing programs), $0.37 billion for marijuana treatment (which includes federal subsidies for drug abuse treatment programs), and $0.76 billion for marijuana-related policy research funding for activities designed to improve the efficacy of federal drug control policies.)

The report notes that the actual federal spending on marijuana-related policies is likely higher than $3.67 billion because the federal government no longer includes annual costs from federal agencies and programs that are not explicitly devoted to anti-drug activities (such as federal prison costs, salaries for federal law enforcement personnel, etc.). State and local spending on anti-marijuana programs and activities weren't tabulated in the report. Previous estimates published by the NORML Foundation and others place these costs at between $5 and $7 billion per year.

"The ultimate measure of the drug war's worth is its impact on drug usage. By this standard, the federal marijuana program has fared poorly," said Taxpayers for Common Sense Senior Policy Analyst Erich Zimmermann. "Despite spending billions of dollars over the years to enforce the prohibition of marijuana, use and perception of the drug are little different now than they were 30 years ago... Rather than continue to spend billions of dollars on the problem, it would be better for the US government to get out of the marijuana business entirely."

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15. Web Scan: Change The Climate Flash Animation, Pain and the Law Report, Boston and Providence Phoenix on Medical Marijuana

Operation Overkill, new flash animation from Change The Climate

Drug Control Policy Out of Balance" pain and the law report by Dr. David Brushwood for Saint Louis University and the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics

Boston and Providence Phoenix front page article on the Rhode Island medical marijuana bill

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16. Weekly: This Week in History

July 8, 1999: Mexican PAN and PRI legislators in the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico City exchange heated accusations about each others' party's associations with drug trafficking organizations.

July 9, 1997: Thirty-seven leading physicians announce the formation of Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy.

July 10, 1992: Manuel Noriega is convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

July 10, 1997: Researchers at the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich release the final report on Switzerland's three-year heroin prescription trial. The study concludes that the carefully supervised provision of heroin to long-term addicts with a history of failure in other treatment modalities results in a significant decrease in crime, mortality, disease transmission, treatment failure, and unemployment, at a substantial savings over other, less successful treatment methods.

July 11, 1979: A deadly shootout between Colombian traffickers in broad daylight at Miami's Dadeland Mall brings the savagery of the Colombian cocaine lords to the attention of US law enforcement.

July 12, 2002: The Wall Street Journal reports that former president Bill Clinton acknowledged, "I was wrong" to not lift the ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs.

July 13, 1931: The International Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs is convened in Geneva.

July 13: 1995: The New York Times reports the FDA has concluded for the first time that nicotine is an addictive drug that should be regulated.

July 13, 1998: The Associated Press reports that US drug czar Barry McCaffrey has created a controversy in The Netherlands over his erroneous claim that "The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States," which he explained by saying "that's drugs." In actuality the Dutch homicide rate is less than one fourth the US rate. The Dutch ambassador response, "I must say that I find the timing of your remarks -- six days before your planned visit to the Netherlands with a view to gaining first-hand knowledge about Dutch drugs policy and its results, rather astonishing."

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17. Job Opportunity: ACLU Drug Law Reform Project

Founded in 1998, the Drug Law Reform Project (DLRP) is a special division of the national ACLU. DLRP's goal is to end punitive drug policies that have caused an unprecedented level of incarceration and have resulted in widespread violation of constitutional rights. Visit to learn more about DLRP.

DLRP is expanding to create a new program that challenges the punishment of nonviolent marijuana users, and is hiring a National Field Organizer and an Advocacy Associate, both located in DLRP's Santa Cruz, California, office. This program is led by DLRP staff who have designed a national campaign involving ACLU affiliates and other organizations, with the goal of repealing punitive marijuana laws.

The NATIONAL FIELD ORGANIZER will help execute the public education and communications components of DLRP's campaigns and will be primarily responsible for community outreach and organizing strategies aimed at solidifying support for drug policy reform and connecting to new audiences, especially in communities of color. The National Field Organizer will recruit and supervise local organizers for specific litigation and campaigns. The National Field Organizer also works with DLRP Staff to carry out strategies in the areas of media relations, producing targeted multi-media publications, and state and federal legislative advocacy. The position will require close coordination with the national ACLU, its 53 state affiliates, private attorneys, and allied organizations, both in litigation efforts and in efforts to secure reform in state legislatures and Congress.

The National Field Organizer must have exceptional interpersonal skills and experience organizing communities around social justice issues. Eagerness and demonstrated success in working in coalitions to attract greater support for an issue is a must. Because this position will require community outreach and organizing throughout the country, applicants must have a willingness and ability to travel often. The candidate must have experience using the internet as an organizing tool and competence in developing websites and web features, or an ability and aptitude to learn these areas. The National Field Organizer must also have an understanding of multi-faceted public education campaigns that integrate strategies around litigation, legislative advocacy, community organizing, and strategic communications. The following skills and experience are strongly preferred: Experience working with communities of color; proficiency in speaking and writing Spanish; media relations experience; familiarity with public interest, impact litigation and drug policy-related advocacy.

Salary is commensurate with experience, within the parameters of the ACLU compensation scale. Excellent benefits package provided. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, which will not be before June 25th, 2005. Please submit a letter describing your qualifications and interest in the position, a current resume, a writing sample of no more than ten pages connected to community outreach or organizing efforts, and the names and phone numbers of two references to: Anjuli Verma, ACLU Drug Law Project, ATTN: [DPLP-15], 1101 Pacific Avenue, Suite 333, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or [email protected].

No phone calls; please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting. Visit for the complete job listing.

The ADVOCACY ASSOCIATE will help execute the public education and communications component of the DLRP's campaigns and will be responsible primarily for executing media relations strategies and producing multi-media publications, with a focus on the DLRP's campaign to reform marijuana laws.

The Advocacy Associate also works with the National Field Organizer to coordinate national and state legislative advocacy and community outreach and organizing strategies. These strategies aim to solidify support for drug policy reform and connect to new audiences, especially in communities of color.

The position will require close coordination among the national ACLU, its 53 state affiliates, and allied organizations, both in litigation efforts and in efforts to secure reform in state legislatures and Congress.

The Advocacy Associate must have exceptional research and writing skills and experience producing materials for the news media. Applicants must also have the ability to author, coauthor and assist with the production of advocacy and/or research materials in print, online, and/or video formats. The Advocacy Associate must be competent at updating websites, working with Information Technologies staff to develop web sites and web features or have a demonstrated ability and/or aptitude to learn these areas. Superior organizational skills, attention to detail, and eagerness and ability to work in coalitions are a must. The Advocacy Associate must also have an understanding of multi-faceted public education campaigns that integrate strategies around litigation, legislative advocacy, community organization, and strategic communications. The following skills and experience are strongly preferred: Experience working with communities of color; proficiency in speaking and writing Spanish; familiarity with public interest, impact litigation and drug policy-related advocacy.

Salary is commensurate with experience, within the parameters of the ACLU compensation scale. Excellent benefits package provided.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, which will not be before July 28th, 2005. Please submit a letter describing your qualifications and interest in the position, a current resume, a writing sample of no more than ten pages, and the names and phone numbers of two references to: Anjuli Verma, ATTN: [DPLP-16], ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, 1101 Pacific Avenue, Suite 333, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or by e-mail to [email protected]. Visit for the complete job posting.

The ACLU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and Encourages Women, People of Color, Persons with Disabilities, Lesbians, and Gay Men to apply.

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18. Job Opportunity: Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is seeking applications for the position of Legislative Director. The responsibility of the Legislative Director is to increase SSDP's influence on Capitol Hill to promote drug laws and policies that reduce the harms associated with drug use. In addition, the Legislative Director advocates for reform of drug laws and policies that have a negative impact on youth.

To that end, the Legislative Director will: determine drug laws and policies that the organization should track and possibly target with local and/or national resources; work with the Executive Director to determine which drug laws and policies to target and to determine legislative strategies and tactics; lobby legislators and legislators' staff on drug laws and policies, paying particular attention to legislators in districts and states or legislators on committees important to the organization's campaigns and actions; develop materials and literature to distribute to legislators; develop relationships and resources to assist influential organizations and individuals, especially those in target districts and states, lobby their legislators; and develop relationships and resources to assist the organization's chapters and activists, especially those chapters and activists in target districts and states, lobby their legislators.

A qualified applicant must have the ability to communicate orally with comfort and conviction, plus flawless writing that is succinct and persuasive. Attention to detail is essential. Experience working with or in Congress is necessary, as is a professional demeanor. The ability to be assertive is a must, as is comfort working with people of all ages. A qualified candidate will be a self-starter who's creative in developing legislative strategies and tactics. A demonstrated dedication to reform of drug laws and policies is valuable, but not necessary. The Legislative Director reports to the Executive Director and works closely with the Outreach Director and Communications Director.

SSDP is a national network of students committed to an open, honest, and inclusive dialogue on alternatives to our country's current approach to drug use, abuse, and addiction. Through youth involvement in the political process, SSDP works to reform drug laws and policies that have a negative impact on youth. Specific SSDP campaigns have included efforts to repeal the federal financial aid ban on students with drug convictions and to restrict federal funding for student drug testing. Visit for information on SSDP's mission and campaigns.

Salary is $30,000+, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health care. Applications are due by July 30, 2005.

Interested applicants should e-mail a one-page cover letter and one-to-two page resume to Scarlett Swerdlow at [email protected]. In your cover letter, please indicate (1) how you learned about SSDP's job opening, (2) why you are interested in working with SSDP in particular, and (3) whether you have any experience in drug policy in particular. Feel free to include any additional information you deep relevant, not to exceed one page. Please do not call the SSDP office at this time. If you submit a cover letter and resume, SSDP will respond to you within seven working days with either a notice of rejection of a request for additional documentation.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an equal opportunity employer. The SSDP office is located in Washington, DC near Dupont Circle (on the Red Line). SSDP has a fun, yet professional work environment.

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19. Job Opportunity: ACLU of Washington Drug Law Reform Project

The ACLU of Washington is hiring a full-time Campaign Manager for the Drug Law Reform Project. The position will be located in Seattle and will be jointly supervised by the National ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and the ACLU of Washington. The successful candidate will lead the effort to design and implement a multi-year strategic educational campaign to reframe public thinking about drug laws, and marijuana laws, in particular. The campaign will help build support for the view that there are better ways to address drug use and abuse, ways that will ultimately lead to a society that is freer, fairer, healthier, and less crime-ridden.

The campaign will work to educate the public and opinion leaders concerning the criminalization of drug users. It will engage in outreach to and persuasion of opinion leaders, professional organizations, political moderates, and others who have not previously considered the harmful consequences of the "war on drugs." The campaign will also focus on broadening the range of communities that understand the deleterious effects of the drug war and developing innovative and dynamic strategies to develop support for reforms that protects freedom, while effectively addressing the heath and social concerns associated with drugs.

Applicants should preferably have: high-level experience working in a state or national campaign for significant policy reform; demonstrated ability to think and plan strategically and an understanding of public opinion research, media relations, and other communications strategies; well-developed ability to facilitate communication and collaboration; highly-tuned organizational skills; and ability to work independently.

Exceptional candidates with less experience will also be considered. The project is looking for a highly effective collaborator, who can work very closely with the ACLU-WA staff (including the drug policy project director, field director and executive director), the staff of the national ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, as well as allied organizations and atypical partners.

Outstanding speaking and writing skills in order to advocate before diverse audiences are required. Applicants must have a car and driver's license, the ability to travel throughout Washington and the flexibility to work irregular hours that include evening meetings. Language ability in addition to English is a plus. Salary will be commensurate with experience within the parameters of the ACLU-WA salary scale. Benefits will include medical, dental and disability insurance, a pension plan, and three weeks vacation to start.

To apply, mail a letter of application and a resume to: Campaign Manager Screening Committee, ACLU of Washington. 705 - 2nd Avenue, 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98104-1799. (No fax or e-mail applications.) Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Visit for the full job listing.

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20. Errata: Moises Hernandez Case

Issue #392 of Drug War Chronicle incorrectly reported that Hernandez was continuing to draw a salary while Union County authorities continue to investigate his relationship with the target of a drug probe. Hernandez is not drawing his salary at this time.

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21. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

July 8-9, 7:00pm, New Brunswick, NJ, "Waiting to Inhale," screenings of new medical marijuana documentary, at the New Jersey International Film Festival. At Rutgers University, Scott Hall #123, 43 College Ave., visit for info.

July 20, 10:00am-noon, London, England, "The Opium Production Challenge in Afghanistan: Current Responses and New Strategies," seminar hosted by the Senlis Council. At the House of Commons, Committee Room 6, visit or call +44 207 2222 901 for information or to register.

July 21, 7:00pm, Madison, WI, presentation by Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), part of a national tour with his horse Misty to promote drug policy reform. At the Madison Senior Center, 330 W. Mifflin, sponsored by Progressive Dane Drug Policy Task Force and Madison NORML. Contact (608) 241-8922 or visit for further information.

July 25, 4:00-8:00pm, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Event to Celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Psicotropicus. At General Justo Ave. 275, Room 316-B, Castelo, downtown Rio, contact Carla Mourão at +55 21 2240-4293 or visit for further information.

July 26, 5:30-7:30pm, San Francisco, CA, "Is San Francisco Going to Pot?," forum featuring Mayor Gavin Newsom and Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann. At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California Street, contact Sue Eldredge at (415) 921-4987 or [email protected] for information and reservations.

August 12-13, Washington, DC, "Over 2 Million Imprisoned – Too Many!", March on DC, sponsored by Family and Friends of People Incarcerated (FMI). Reception Friday evening, march Saturday morning from 9:00am to noon. Contact Roberta Franklin at (334) 220-4670 or firstladytms©, or visit for further information.

August 12-28, New York, NY, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo performance by Sheldon Norberg. At the International Fringer Festival, visit for further information.

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 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 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 for further information.

September 17, Boston, MA, "Sixteenth Annual Fall Freedom Rally," sponsored by MASSCANN. On Boston Common, visit for updates, or contact (781) 944-2266 or [email protected].

September 23-25, New Paltz, NY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Northeast Conference. At SUNY New Paltz, contact Jenny Loeb at [email protected] for further information.

September 25-29, Kabul, Afghanistan, "The 2005 Kabul International Symposium – Drug Policy: Challenges and Responses." Sponsored by the Senlis Council, at Kabul University, visit or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

October 1-2, Madison WI, "35th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival." At the UW Campus Library Mall, visit 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 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 for info.

January 13-15, 2006, Basel, Switzerland, "Problem Child and Wonder Drug: International Symposium on the occasion of the 100th Birthday of Albert Hofmann." Sponsored by the Gaia Media Foundation, visit for further information.

February 9-11, 2006, Tasmania, Australia, The Eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA), coordinated by Justice Action. For further information visit or contact +612-9660 9111 or [email protected].

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 for updates.

April 30-May 4, 2006, Vancouver, BC, Canada, "17th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm," annual conference of the International Harm Reduction Association. Visit for further information.

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