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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #400 -- 8/19/05

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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Please Make a 400th Issue Donation to DRCNet for Drug War Chronicle!

If Souder hates it, we'll probably like it -- stay tuned for a special report on this weekend's methamphetamine harm reduction conference in issue #401!

Visit Dean Becker's "Drug Truth" radio network at to hear Drug War Chronicle's Phil Smith read from "This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories" each week!

Table of Contents

    National Marijuana Parks
    Issue #400 seems as good a time as any to show off our long memories at DRCNet. David Borden's long memory points to a double standard in Ohio officialdom's outlook on possible ethical violations by the governor now vs. three years ago when the drug reform measure Question One was on the state's ballot.
    DRCNet reaches an important milestone today -- your support is needed for there to be more.
    Drug War Chronicle reports with depressing regularity on the needless deaths of people, both innocent and guilty, at the hands of police in the course of anti-drug enforcement. What's the alternative to killer drug raids?
    Roughly a thousand people showed up in Lafayette Park across from the White House Saturday for the first national rally aimed at ending this country's reliance on mass incarceration.
    The leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party in the European Parliament has called for the legalization and regulation of all currently illicit drugs.
    This week it's more jail guards in trouble, a US soldier pleading guilty to coke-smuggling, and a Florida cop turned drug dealer.
    DRCNet's Prohibition in the Media blog points to an Associated Press story on marijuana cultivation in Arizona's national forests that missed the point.
    Oregonians wanting Sudafed will now have to get a prescription, thanks to a legislature and governor who hope it will help curb meth labs.
    A leading congressional drug warrior has angrily criticized the Department of Health and Human Services for allowing itself to be named as a "primary sponsor" of this weekend's first National Conference on HIV, Hepatitis and Methamphetamine. But prominent Utahns weren't with him on this one.
    Hysteria over marijuana has been commonplace in the Philippines for years, and remarks this week by the National Police Deputy Director are a fine example.
  11. WEB SCAN
    Seattle Weekly on the Drug Issue
    Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.
    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: Long Memories

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

David Borden
A few weeks ago, in the Drug War Chronicle article on The Sensenbrenner Effect: Fear, Fallout and Firing on the Hill, one advocate commented about the drug warring judiciary committee chairman -- anonymously, in keeping with the article's theme -- "You don't want to cross him. He's mean and he has a memory like an elephant."

I don't expect to ever be as powerful as Rep. Sensenbrenner, and I hope I would not become a "meany" as people say about him even if I did. But with this being a Drug War Chronicle milestone -- issue #400 -- it seems like a good time to point out that having published this newsletter for eight years and done alerts and bulletins for years before that we have long memories at DRCNet too.

Some of my memories were jogged by the news this week that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has been indicted on misdemeanor charges of failing to report certain gifts. The charges are especially embarrassing for the governor due to his having recently taken a public stance on ethical standards for state employees. The memories that were jogged were of credible accusations during and after the 2002 election campaign that Gov. Taft and his wife crossed the line into the realm of unlawful conduct in the midst of campaigning against Issue One, a state ballot measure that would have made drug treatment instead of jail a guaranteed option for first- and second-time drug offenders.

Not having done a sophisticated legal analysis of the governor's current or former alleged misdeeds, I can't venture an informed opinion on whether they merit a criminal prosecution or rise to the level at which a state's chief executive ought to resign as some have called for. But I must ask, why now but not then? If the impact on actual people is a gauge of an offense's seriousness, illegal activity to influence the outcome of a ballot initiative strikes me as far more serious than failure to report some gifts. What if the Tafts' campaign to defeat Issue One was the key element in the measure's defeat, and what if inappropriate activity within that campaign helped make the difference? It can't really be proven that it didn't. If so, the result is that some people went to jail who might not have if the measure had passed, a significant impact on policy and a very drastic impact on lives.

Just because the changes Issue One would have brought about were changes the state officialdom mostly didn't like, doesn't mean that apparent violations of law in the campaign to defeat it should not have gotten a serious investigation. Agree or disagree with this week's indictments, my long memory says there is a double standard at work. There should be no drug war exception to lawful behavior by public officials.

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2. Appeal: Please Make a 400th Issue Donation to DRCNet for Drug War Chronicle

Today, DRCNet reaches a milestone -- issue #400 of Drug War Chronicle, our widely-read publication educating and empowering advocates, journalists, policymakers, around the world while fomenting activism and change. In Drug War Chronicle's eight years, DRCNet has published well over 5,000 articles -- yes, 5,000 -- and we now approach another year of hopeful, distressing, interesting, ridiculous and dangerous developments in drug policy and its impact on our communities and world.

Please mark the occasion of issue #400 by making a generous donation to support the continuation of this important program that serves the entire drug policy reform movement. Donate $35 or more and you are entitled to receive a complimentary copy of "Breaking Rank, A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing," a cutting new volume by former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper. (Click here to read our interview with Stamper -- which also links to our review of his book -- among other things Stamper explains how his views have evolved even further toward ending prohibition than when he wrote the book -- more issue-advancing DRCNet reporting!)

Drug War Chronicle will not be able to continue much longer without your help. In a few months the grant that is paying 60% of the cost of producing it will run out, and we need your help to meet the other 40%. Each issue of Drug War Chronicle costs about $1,400 to produce -- please consider a donation in that amount if you can afford it. Without your help, not only with DRCNet be less able to produce the newsletter, we will have less left to carry out our advocacy campaigns as well -- ultimately DRCNet is not just a reporting organization, but an organization working to change the world -- there will be less for us to work with in changing laws like the Higher Education Act drug provision, the federal ban on medical marijuana, the awful mandatory minimum sentences, laws funding student drug testing and more.

So please make a one-time donation to support DRCNet -- or sign up to donate monthly instead! In addition to "Breaking Rank," we continue to offer our full range of member incentives -- books, shirts, mugs, coasters, the video "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," more -- as our thanks and to help you help us spread the word.

Contributions to DRCNet Foundation to support Drug War Chronicle are tax-deductible. (If you select a gift item, the portion of your donation that you can deduct is reduced by the item's retail price.) Contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network supporting our lobbying work are not-deductible. The address for checks or money orders is P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036; contact us for information if you wish to make a donation of stock.

Thank you for your support of DRCNet. Please feel free to write or call if you have any questions, and stay tuned! A little bit about our work that your donation will support:

  • Your donation will support our acclaimed newsletter, Drug War Chronicle, the leading intellectual publication on the drug war, an in-depth weekly online newsletter covering the full range of drug policy issues and the reform movement. Drug War Chronicle is read by reporters and is used by advocates to empower their speeches and editorials, and is a force for bringing new people in and getting them involved in all the good work being done by organizations in the movement.
  • Your donation will support the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reform Campaign, our effort to repeal a law that delays or denies college aid eligibility to students because of drug convictions, our movement's best chance to repeal a federal drug law in more than 30 years. We are currently organizing coalitions in states around the country to influence the forthcoming bipartisan Senate HEA reauthorization bill to include repeal.
  • Your donation will support legislative action on alerts on sentencing, medical marijuana, needle exchange, Plan Colombia, more.
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  • Your donation will support our work making the case for an end not only to the drug war but to prohibition itself.

Activist Tom Angell wrote the following letter of support for us earlier this month:

If you're a regular DRCNet reader, then you might know about me from DRCNet's Drug War Chronicle newsletter -- first as the founder of the University of Rhode Island chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and now as the campaigns director in the SSDP national office. Earlier this summer, Rhode Islanders scored a big hit: Our state Senate overwhelmingly passed a pro-medical marijuana bill, a mere one day after the US Supreme Court rejected states' rights to medical marijuana in the Raich case, and in the face of a veto threat by Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri. The bill was then passed overwhelmingly by the state House of Representatives as well -- and the governor did veto it. But the Senate overrode his veto the very next day. If things go as well in the House, it will be a great victory for medical marijuana that will help patients throughout the state and send a necessary message to Congress that they should act too.

While DRCNet played no direct role in the Rhode Island medical marijuana campaign, it very well may not have happened without them. The reason is that DRCNet's long-term movement-building, movement-empowering work laid a crucial portion of the groundwork for it. The Rhode Island medical marijuana campaign was founded by myself and an activist at the Brown University SSDP chapter. But SSDP might not have existed were it not for DRCNet's starting the Higher Education Act Reform Campaign in 1998 -- rallying students nationwide against a law that takes financial aid away from students with drug convictions -- and using its list and its funding to get SSDP off the ground as an independent national organization, which now has thousands of activists on more than 100 college and high school campuses nationwide. That's one of the reasons. The other reason is that I became an activist because of Drug War Chronicle. Reading the Chronicle week after week taught me just how serious and just how important an issue this is, inspired me to get involved, pointed me to opportunities for doing so, and then kept me informed and prepared to do the best job that I could. And I am just one of many people around the country who say the same thing.

I hope you will take a few moments today to make the most generous donation to DRCNet that you can. With everything that DRCNet does to support, build and get the word out about all the other organizations in the movement, there are many deserving places to send a check that come to your attention in Drug War Chronicle every week. But even if the issue that you care most about -- be it medical marijuana, sentencing, drug testing, etc.
-- is not one that DRCNet is leading, it would be shortsighted to not support DRCNet as well. Because without DRCNet, we would have a smaller movement less capable of taking all those things on; and who knows how much DRCNet will be able to do for the movement moving forward in the same way -- subtle, long-term, but powerful? In my opinion, a lot -- but only with your help.

DRCNet is so important, for the movement's present and for its future -- thank you for making the most generous donation that you can.

Tom Angell, Campaigns Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Washington, DC


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When Ecuadoran former army colonel Lucio Gutierrez gave an interview to Chronicle editor Phil Smith at an anti-Plan Colombia conference, he didn't expect it to come back to haunt him when three years later as President of Ecuador, under US pressure, he denied attending that conference or ever opposing Plan Colombia. But El Universo, one of Ecuador's largest daily papers, found the interview online. The article ran on the front page -- click here to read it online (in Spanish).

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3. Feature: Killer Drug Raids -- What's the Alternative?

Regular readers of Drug War Chronicle know we report with depressing regularity on people killed in drug raids -- some completely innocent, some who may have been drug offenders, some who went down shooting at police. In the last month alone, we reported on a Utah man shot and killed by undercover police on a stake-out as they prepared for a drug raid, a Florida man shot dead by police as he fled unarmed from the scene of a drug raid, and another Florida man shot dead by police after he allegedly went for his pistol when police kicked his door down in a pre-dawn raid over a couple of ounces of marijuana.

SWAT Team, Contra Costa County, California
The toll continues. In yet another Florida killing, a Jupiter police officer last week shot and killed a 40-year-old Toronto man in a marijuana buy sting under unclear circumstances. Donovan "Rasta" Brooks was lured to West Palm Beach to buy $80,000 worth of weed in a sting set up by a snitch seeking to beat his own pot-smuggling rap. When the joint federal-local drug squad met Brooks in a motel parking lot, they ordered him to the ground and shot and killed him. No more is known because the police aren't talking.

And in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a police detective and a former National Honor Student turned marijuana dealer are both dead after police last week tried to raid his home. Detective Terry Melancon, 31, was shot by LSU graduate Garry Devai, 25, as he burst through Devai's door. Two other officers were wounded but managed to shoot and kill Devai. They found a grow-op, bagged marijuana, almost $1,400 in cash, and two weapons. Although police were carrying a "no-knock" warrant, they claimed to have knocked repeatedly before bursting through the door, but a neighbor in the same building said it sounded like Devai was being robbed. "These walls are paper-thin," Mike Brady said. "All I could hear was screaming, yelling, banging and shots being fired," he told the Baton Rouge advocate.

Nobody knows how many people are killed by law enforcement agents prosecuting the war on drugs -- mainly because no one is counting, as we reported nearly five years ago. In preparation for that article, a perusal of newspaper articles compiled by the Media Awareness Project done for DRCNet by the group's Tom O'Connell, pulled up at least 60 drug war-related killings by police in the previous year. While current numbers are hard to come by, what is indisputable is that people continue to die at the hands of police enforcing the drug laws, and those SWAT-style no-knock raids are often the precipitating factor.

In an effort to better understand why police routinely resort to tactics more akin to a military assault than to domestic policing, DRCNet this week spoke with a pair of prominent criminologists and a former police chief. (All the narcs we attempted to contact for this story were on vacation -- seriously.) For the criminologists, while there were critiques of drug policy and the "war on drugs" mentality, the bottom line was that the law must be enforced as long as it's on the books. For the former chief, with years of experience fighting the drug war, it just isn't worth it.

"If you have a reasonable suspicion that there are drugs or drug trafficking, it is appropriate to make those arrests," said Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and expert on police training and accountability. "The real question is over how that raid is conducted and what kind of controls and supervision there are. The SWAT teams are controversial, but control is the key issue. If you have good policies and tight supervision, you can actually reduce problems. It's better to have a trained SWAT team conduct a raid than just a patrol officer."

For David Klinger, a former police officer who is a criminologist and associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, drug prohibition is not a battle worth fighting, but since it is the law, it must be fought anyway. "I think we ought to just legalize the stuff and get it over with, but if we are going to make this stuff illegal, and that is what the polity apparently demands, we have to figure out a way to enforce the law. Those raids are one way, and you want your best-trained guys and gals doing it. That will reduce the violence and make it safer for innocents, suspects, and the good guys, the cops."

There are less confrontational ways of making a drug arrest, Klinger said, though they have their drawbacks. "A lot of agencies are moving away from these 'dynamic entry' raids and toward 'surround and call out,' he explained. "Unless you have a situation where you absolutely cannot stop the individual from destroying the dope, you surround the place and announce yourself and tell him he needs to step outside. That's safer for everybody." The down side is the evidence is likely to get flushed.

"Then there's the knock and talk, when a pair of officers just knock on the door and ask if they can ask him about drug activity or look around. It's a version of an investigation," Klinger continued. "The problem with that is, if the knucklehead doesn't want to cooperate, he might shoot you. This is dangerous work; there is no safe way to do this. My opinion is the risk is not worth it. If people want to be stupid in their own homes, we should legalize it. But it's currently a crime in all 50 states and under federal law. If you're not willing to take some risks to enforce the law, then by definition they're home free."

Former St. Augustine, Florida, Police Chief Jerry Cameron saw no legitimate purpose for drug enforcement no-knock raids. "The only time a no-knock warrant or search or seizure is appropriate is when human life will be in danger if you don't do it, but to seize some drugs? Even the Supreme Court talks about balancing tests. Is the possibility of a police officer or a guy smoking marijuana dying worth it?" he asked not so rhetorically.

"If you're doing a no-knock late night or in the wee hours and waking somebody out of a sound sleep, there is just too much room even on carefully crafted raids for something to go wrong."

For Cameron, the root of the problem is not police tactics but prohibition. "After having spent 17 years in fighting the war on drugs, I don't think the whole drug thing is serving any positive purpose," Cameron said. "When you start raising the risks on something that has already proven to be pretty hopeless, it really begins to make no sense. These no-knock raids are just a manifestation of something gone terribly bad."

The war metaphor is part of the problem, said Walker. "When you define this as the war on drugs you adopt a militaristic mentality, along with all the trappings and equipment. As I and others who study this have written for decades, the war metaphor is simply inappropriate for domestic crime issues. This is domestic crime, not war, and citizens and suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."

Klinger begged to differ. "There is a bright line distinction between the military and law enforcement. I've heard a few people say you need to behave like a soldier, but they don't last too long. Cops didn't sign on to be soldiers, and while a certain warrior ethos does exist, most of the SWAT guys I know don't buy into it. Cops are fundamentally civil servants, line members of bureaucracies who have a job to do, only a small portion of which deals with force," he said. "I haven't seen the widespread problems we would see if the officers were really buying into that notion."

In an interview with DRCNet last week, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper pointed to police efforts to achieve total control of a situation. "The rationale for 'high risk warrant service,' such as drug raids, is to take the suspect down in his own home, usually at o'dark thirty, and to hit the house with sudden, unexpected, overwhelming force, both decisions designed to catch the suspect unawares, reduce the chances that he can/will get to a gun or dump the dope, and minimize risks to officers, neighbors, innocent passersby who might be caught in the line of fire if there's any shooting. In other words, the cops are trying to control every aspect, every variable of the operation. Of course, this doesn't explain or excuse the 'wrong house' mistakes, or shots fired unnecessarily. For that, I think you look to judgment and discipline compromised by fear, adrenalin, machismo -- and drug war zealotry."

"This whole drug war is bizarre when you stop to think about it," said Cameron, who serves as a volunteer speaker for the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "As a law officer, you don't question the war, you just hit the beach, but as you move up the chain of command and are accountable for the expenditure of taxpayer money, then you begin asking questions. You realize that people don't make decisions about what to put in their bodies based on the law. Unless we get so draconian we are publicly executing people, that's not going to change. We lost the war and we've probably done a lot of damage. We've created a symbiotic relationship between drug dealers and the government. The dealers need high prices and the government needs the specter of the dealers to keep expanding funding and the bureaucracy. Neither wants the other to go away."

The drug war may be bizarre, but it's not about to go away, so how to make it less dangerous for drug suspects and police officers alike? "One of things we know," said Klinger, "is that the better trained and more experienced you are, the better you perform. It's when you move away from the larger agencies with full-time SWAT teams or well-trained drug units that you have a problem. The bottom line is some of these agencies are in over their heads, they're simply not qualified to be doing these sorts of things. Just because you have Kevlar vests and helmets and assault rifles doesn't make you a SWAT team. If you look around the country, you won't see the big departments' raid teams shooting grandma; that's coming from the smaller departments."

If better training is one answer, so is an increasing recognition that police need to avoid the cavalier resort to violence or violence-inducing situations, said Walker. There is a fairly good and growing consensus that care has to be taken to avoid reckless use of police powers, whether it's deadly force, drug raids, or highway pursuits," he said. "Any kind of action where a citizen's life is in danger is a critical incident."

While police drug raids certainly deserve high levels of scrutiny and law enforcement needs to be held accountable for recklessness that results in deaths, the police cannot be blamed for enforcing the drug laws. That's their job. It seems clear that the only way we are not going to have cops kicking down doors and pointing guns at the heads of drug users or sellers is to embrace the solution called for by Chief Cameron and criminologist Klinger: Legalize it.

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4. Feature: DC "Two Million is Too Many" Prison Rally Lays Groundwork for More, Better Collaboration

Roughly a thousand people showed up in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, DC, Saturday for the first national rally aimed at ending this country's reliance on mass incarceration and obtaining better treatment for those behind bars. While the numbers were relatively small, the protest could mark an important step in bringing together a more unified movement calling for fundamental reforms of the nation's criminal justice apparatus.

representatives of the New York City Jericho Amnesty Movement
photo courtesy Journey for Justice
Led by Montgomery, Alabama, radio personality Roberta Franklin and Friends and Families of the Incarcerated, the Journey for Justice to Washington was a true grassroots effort. While it picked up endorsements from a lengthy list of prison and drug reform organizations, including DRCNet, it didn't pick up any big grants. Instead, local groups and individuals spent money from their own pockets to get to Washington. In Alabama, mothers of prisoners held fish fries to raise money to rent buses. David Losa, the brother of a man doing 25-to-life under California's three-strikes law for possession of trace amounts of methamphetamine, rode his bicycle 3700 miles across the country to be there. New York City sent at least two busloads.

For those who persevered and arrived at Lafayette Park on Saturday morning, it was not so much the Promised Land as the inferno, with Washington's notoriously steamy summer weather living up to its reputation. As sweating speakers orated in the blistering sun, demonstrators sought shelter beneath the shade of trees. But the rhetoric was as hot as the temperature as speaker after speaker blasted the system that makes America the most prison-friendly country in the world.

Roberta Franklin told the crowd how her crusade began with letters from women inmates in Alabama complaining about their lack of medical care. The letters and her involvement with the lawsuit that arose from them opened her eyes to the injustice of the system, she said. "I used to believe in this system," Franklin said. Now, she said, "it's my belief when good people... hear the story of America's prisons, they'll be disgusted."

Eric Sterling, executive director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation shared with the crowd some perspectives on movement building. "We are already well along in building a movement," he said, "and we need to understand what it is we are trying to do. We want to appeal to the vast mass of Americans because they will ultimately be the political support we need for the changes we want. If we do not do that, we will not succeed. We need to appeal to the common values of the American people, the things we all believe in, like fairness, equal opportunity, strong families, redemption. What we are trying to do is win over the American people," Sterling insisted.

Part of the movement's job, said Sterling, is to demolish the myths that power-holders use to maintain the status quo. "There is the myth that long sentences reduce crime through deterrence, but they don't -- they only destroy families. There is the myth of country club prisons, where in truth the prisons are unsafe and dangerous, with inadequate health care and rife with violence," Sterling said as part of lengthy list of such myths.

Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who heads the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, excoriated tough sentencing policies. "We've represented dozens of people sentenced to life in prison without parole for stealing a bicycle, writing a bad check or simple possession of marijuana. And it's that kind of sentencing policy that has resulted in the prison population growing from 200,000 to two million in the last 30 years," he told the crowd.

"I was proud of what we accomplished," Franklin told DRCNet. "A lot of prisoners' family members got some hope. That's important. But there were also alliances made. We had a real mixture, we had people there on behalf of those physically abused and medically neglected in prison, we had death penalty people, we had people representing political prisoners, we had the drug people," she said. "I will say this for prisons and the criminal justice system: They present so many issues you can form alliances around."

David Losa arrives on time from his 3,000 mile bike ride for justice
photo courtesy Journey for Justice
Despite the heat and the less than huge turnout, organizers and attendees alike called the event a success. "This was a good start for better, larger marches to come," said Garry Jones, a former state and federal corrections officer and founder of the Atlanta-based Advocate4Justice, a group dedicated to undoing mandatory minimum sentences and reintroducing parole in the federal system. "This is going to grow year after year. When I speak, I want people to know that it's not the drug users but the drug dealers who are causing the violence in our communities, and we can destroy the dealers by regulating drugs instead of banning them and taxing that income and putting that money back into reentry programs and back into our neighborhoods," Jones told DRCNet.

During his Saturday speech, Jones challenged black ministers to hold politicians accountable. "If a politician wants to speak in your church, you should check his voting record," Jones said. "Is he the same person who voted for those mandatory minimum sentences that are destroying black neighborhoods?" If so, Jones said, maybe the church should not implicitly endorse him by allowing him to use its pulpit as a platform.

As a correctional officer, Jones got to see the human face of the drug war close up. "We've been fighting this drug war for 20 years and they haven't put a dent in the drugs. They came out with the mandatory minimums to get the so-called kingpins, but it's the low-level guys -- and their girlfriends -- who get locked up," he said. "I want to go back into those prisons with a message of hope and to tell those prisoners to start writing their congressmen about the parole bill. That bill offers hope for the prisoners, and that makes for a better, safer environment inside the prison -- for the prisoners, for the guards, and for the smooth running of the institution."

"I'm not disappointed in the turnout," said Franklin. "The crowd in Washington tells me we could accomplish a lot more if we had more money and more support. Generally, these national demonstrations have big money behind them, but we didn't have any money. Everybody who was there was there on their own dime. This was a real grassroots movement," she said. "What I was disappointed about was the lack of support from some of the major groups that claim to speak for prisoners. Some of them wouldn't even put out the word for the march on their web sites. I thought that showed a real lack of a spirit of camaraderie. Some people are scared of us. They call us radicals. When did radical become a bad word?"

"Unfortunately, sometimes the reformers fail and we saw that in part in Washington Saturday," said Sterling. "Most of the reform organizations failed to provide any meaningful support for the demonstration."

"There were more than a thousand people who wanted to be there bad enough to pay their own money," said Franklin. "Imagine what we could have done if we had had the money to do mass mailings to get the word out. You know, I'm sick of going to conferences and hearing the same people say the same things and in the meantime, the prisons are getting fuller. We've had enough conferences. We know what the problem is. Now, it's action time."

As is to be expected in a movement encompassing diverse elements -- prison reformers and prison abolitionists, people interested in drug policy and people interested in prison health care -- there was little agreement on ultimate solutions. But there was agreement on working together despite differences. "We were not going to let our differences divide us," said Nora Callahan, executive director of The November Coalition, a group advocating for freedom for drug war prisoners.

"I think the drug people and the prison people really came together in Washington," said Dean Becker of the Drug Truth radio network. "They all really seem to get it. They see it's going to require a combination of forces to get it done," he told DRCNet.

former mandatory minimum prisoner Amy Ralston, granted
clemency by Pres. Clinton, now with the CAN-DO Foundation
photo courtesy Journey for Justice
It will get more complicated, Callahan predicted. "This is a young movement. Mass incarceration only started a heartbeat ago in the 1980s, and it has taken us some time to react. We began to work on the issues where we had been victimized. For me and the November Coalition, it was the war on drugs. For some else, it might be the death penalty. For others, it's prison abolition. For a long time, each of us have been focused on our issue within the broader movement for criminal justice reform and not getting what we want. We realized we have to get together, and many grassroots leaders did get together in Washington."

Plans are already afoot to turn Saturday's rally into the basis for continuing collaboration among the various groups represented in Washington. "We are trying to form a national committee with representatives from each state," said Franklin. "If we can become a true national movement, we can start to have an impact on things." One possible action, Franklin said, was a national boycott of prison phone lines, whose extremely high rates led to charges of gouging what is literally a captive market. "If we got all the men and women to stay off the phones, maybe we could get some justice," she mused. "And it's something that both families and prisoners can participate in."

Some participants in the Saturday rally are already expressing interest. "If I'm invited, I'd like to participate as a regional organizer," said Julie Mormando of the JusticeWorks Community in New York City. "This is a grassroots movement largely organized by the people directly impacted, but they want to garner representatives from different states and cities, and when that happens, New York will be represented for sure," she told DRCNet. "This is the beginning of a much, much broader movement."

That it is time to forge a broader coalition was a common notion. "Now we need to begin coming up with a common vision of a strategy for raising this issue to the level where the public becomes aware of the impact that this country's criminal justice policies are having," said Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, campaign director for Unlock the Block, part of the nationwide Right to Vote campaign, an effort to restore voting rights to people with felony records. Hayden helped organize two busloads of protestors from New York City for Saturday's march.

"There will be another march," said Callahan, "and it won't be in August and Congress will be in session. We are looking at September 2006, we have already begun forming a working committee, and having a year to organize gives us time to create local activity that will bring progress long before we join together again. The first time I went to DC on a Journey for Justice there were 60 people. This time, there were 1,200. Next time, let's have 250,000."

It might take more than a year to pull that off, suggested Sterling. "I'm not sure doing this on an annual basis makes the most sense, but there is no question there is a role for mass rallies," he said. "Clearly, though, we're not yet at the stage where we can organize the kind of huge mass rally that makes the history books. Those take enormous resources, but whether that is the tactic for this particular stage is something we need to think about."

With a first national committee meeting set for October, Franklin said the nascent coalition is looking to develop an alliance that can get things done. "We want that parole bill passed, that would be a terrific accomplishment," she said. The crusade started in Montgomery appears to have created some ferment and awareness among the diverse groups working prison issues in relative isolation, and Franklin is getting set to keep stirring the pot. "You haven't seen the last of me," she warned.

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5. Europe: Leader of Liberal Democrats in European Parliament Says Legalize It All

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Chris Davies, has called for the legalization and regulation of all currently illicit drugs. Davies' public airing of his views in the Brussel-based magazine The Sprout, a European Union-watching publication, puts Davies ahead of the official platform of the British Liberal Democratic Party, which calls for the regulated supply of marijuana "in the longer term" and for not arresting drug users, but not for legalizing any other drugs.

Chris Davies
"Prohibition is taking us nowhere, and leaving the trade in the hands of criminal gangs," Davies wrote in the article now being widely reported on in the British press. "A legalized but regulated market would put the emphasis on harm reduction and undermine the criminal element. Unfortunately most European governments are in the position of insisting the Emperor has got his clothes on."

Davies is not new to British drug reform. He took part in the 1995 Liberal Democratic Party debates where delegates revolted against party leader Paddy Ashdown by calling for a national commission to study cannabis legalization. And readers of the Chronicle will recall that, along with Italian Radical Party MEP Marco Cappato, Davies had himself arrested for possession of symbolic amounts of pot in protest of the arrest of suburban Manchester cannabis cafe owner Colin Davies (no relation). But as leader of his party's delegation to the EP this may be Davies' boldest attack on prohibition yet.

Davies' comments come little more than a month after the long-suppressed "Birt report" on British drug policy was made public. Commissioned for Prime Minister Tony Blair, that report bluntly called British drug prohibition a failure. But despite its incendiary findings, the report was blown off the British front pages by the July 7 London suicide bombings.

The Birt report's findings back Davies' policy prescription. It found that the supply of drug dealers in Britain was "inexhaustible," and despite decades of drug law enforcement consumption had grown and prices had dropped, thanks to a "large, highly flexible, and very adaptable" drug business created by black market profits. Authorities only managed to seize at most 25% of illegal drug imports, with negligible impact on use or price, the report found.

Davies took that theme and ran with it. "Taking a small percentage of the drugs off the market simply forces up the price, adding to the already vast profits made by the traffickers and providing a stronger financial incentive for others to get involved. It's a vicious circle," he wrote. "Far from preventing the use of illegal drugs the policy of prohibition creates the profits which drive the growth of the trade. It leads to the corruption of our institutions and provides funds for terrorism. These views used to be controversial but now that the prime minister's personal adviser says that existing policies are doomed to failure it is surely time for all responsible politicians to consider whether alternative strategies could do more to curb crime, reduce harm and save lives."

Click here to watch Chris Davies' speech at an October 2002 drug legalization conference in Brussels, organized by Members of the European Parliament with the Italian Radical "Bonino's List" as part of the DRCNet-initiated "Out from the Shadows" international conference series.

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6. Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another week, another set of corrupt cops, Or to be more precise, this week it's more jail guards in trouble, a US soldier pleading guilty to coke-smuggling, and a Florida cop turned drug dealer. Let's get to it:

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, a Cherokee County sheriff's deputy and a jailer are on paid leave after marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found at the home they share, the Muskogee Phoenix reported. Cherokee County Sheriff Norman Fisher said Deputy Dusty Ryals and jailer Lynn Trammel are being investigated for allegedly smuggling drugs into the county jail and that he would seek investigators from outside the county to look into the matter. According to the sheriff, Ryals and Trammel deny taking drugs into the jail. Instead, Ryals claimed the drugs were drugs he had seized but took home because the lock on his work locker did not work. Authorities also found methamphetamine residue on a bong seized at the residence. No charges have yet been filed.

In El Paso, one of four Fort Bliss soldiers accused of smuggling cocaine into the US from Colombia using military aircraft pleaded guilty August 10 on cocaine possession and distribution charges, as well as a count of making a false official statement, the Associated Press reported. Specialist Francisco Rosa, 25, will spend five years in prison, be busted down in rank to private, and be given a bad-conduct discharge. Rosa was arrested with fellow soldiers Staff Sgts. Daniel Rosas, Victor Portales, and Kevin Irizarry-Melendez earlier this year. The latter three face courts-martial later this year. All four are currently imprisoned at Fort Bliss.

In Ocala, Florida, former Officer David Cizmadia was arrested August 12 on cocaine sales charges, the Associated Press reported. The bust came after the Multi-Agency Drug Enforcement Task Force received a tip in June. During a six-week investigation following the tip, the task force documented three occasions when Cizmadia allegedly sold drugs to an undercover informant. A police officer since 1994, Cizmadia suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after killing a man in November 2000 and was fired from the force in September 2001 after admitting he used cocaine in a suicide attempt. He is now charged with distribution of cocaine, possession of cocaine, and use of a two-way device to facilitate a felony. Cizmadia had filed suit against the department in July 2002 alleging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other claims related to his firing, but the Ocala Police said the suit had nothing to do with Cizmadia's arrest.

Visit Dean Becker's Drug Truth radio network at to hear Drug War Chronicle's Phil Smith read from "This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories" each week!

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7. Blogging: National Marijuana Parks

As reported last week, DRCNet's Prohibition in the Media blog has resumed publishing today after a hiatus. Last week we commented on reporting by Reuters on an outbreak of drug trade violence in Acapulco that failed to note the role of drug prohibition. Yesterday Prohibition in the Media took aim at an Associated Press story on marijuana growing in Arizona's national forests.

50 marijuana grows were destroyed in Sequoia National Park last March.
The story, which ran from Phoenix on Tuesday, reported that Gila County narcs had spotted their sixth marijuana farm in Coconino National Forest this year. Task Force Commander Steve Craig commented that they "seem to be the marijuana growing capitol of Arizona." Defendants busted from the previous five grows are all Mexicans in the country illegally, and are facing sentences up to ten years. If US Attorney Paul Charlton is to be believed, some of them were using assault weapons to guard their crops. All in all, the grows so far this year have had more than 83,800 plants. And the latest one is in a heavily forested canyon that is so steep that Craig's task force is having to airlift the plants out, an operation which they expect to take at least a week. Robin Poague, Forest Service law enforcement chief for Arizona and New Mexico, says the cultivation hurts the environment too, because the growers use pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful to forest vegetation.

No on quoted in the story pointed out that the Parks don't have a problem with assault weapon toting, pesticide-using growers planting hidden fields of strawberries or corn or wheat -- crops which are legal. If marijuana were legal then this sort of thing wouldn't happen with that crop either.

KPHO Phoenix, a CBS affiliate, is one outlet that ran the story. (The link points to a text article, but with at least two video links at the bottom right.) If you know of any other outlets running this or related stories, please post that information back to our blog entry from the Prohibition in the Media main page or the entry's permanent archive page. We weren't able to find any e-mail addresses or feedback forms, but that doesn't mean they aren't there -- please post that info too if you find it. We have also initiated a thread on KPHO's online forums, in the Valley News section.

Last but not least -- visit to check out Prohibition in the Media as it comes out or to subscribe to the Prohibition in the Media e-mail alerts list.

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8. Methamphetamine: In Anti-Meth Lab Move, Oregon Becomes First State to Require Prescription for Cold, Allergy Medications

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski Tuesday signed into law a bill, HB 2485, that will make people seeking cold and allergy remedies containing pseudoephedrine go to a doctor's office and get a prescription before they can obtain what were formerly over-the-counter nonprescription medications. Some 40 states have either passed or are considering measures that restrict the sales of popular products like Sudafed and Claritin D, because pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in some popular meth-cooking recipes, but Oregon now becomes the first state to require a prescription for their purchase.

While that measure garnered the most attention, it was only one of a package of four bills aimed to ratchet up the "war on meth" -- all signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Kulongoski. SB 907 heightens penalties for methamphetamine-related offenses and defines meth-cooking as child abuse or neglect. SB 5630 allocates $1.5 million to pay for the increased imprisonment costs resulting from SB 907. And HB 5174 allocates $2.5 million more to pay for an expansion of drug courts.

In an emergency move last year, Gov. Kulongoski ordered that cold and allergy remedies containing the precursor be moved behind the counter, a move that he credits with reducing the number of meth lab busts by half since then. This new law, part of his "Meth Initiative" package, will strike an even harder blow against home-cooking, he said.

"Meth has robbed many Oregon children of the right to grow up in a happy and healthy home," said Gov. Kulongoski. "Limiting the availability of pseudoephedrine and providing long-term treatment will give hope for these kids to get their families back. We all have a role to play to fight the meth epidemic in our state. For some that means developing new ways to prevent meth use and for others that means finding an alternative cold remedy."

Despite the complaints of cold and allergy sufferers, the pseudoephedrine bill sailed through the legislature. The bill's backers argued that other over-the-counter medicines would remain available and that the "meth crisis" and particularly the spread of home labs was so severe the pain was worth it.

According to the latest federal data (from 2002), Oregon has treated more people for meth dependency than any other state in the union. In 2003, some 20,000 Oregonians received treatment for meth, Kulongoski said.

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9. Methamphetamine: Souder Attacks HHS for Funding HIV Meth Conference

Leading congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) angrily criticized the Department of Health and Human Services in a letter last Friday for allowing itself to be named as one of the "primary sponsors" of this weekend's first National Conference on HIV, Hepatitis and Methamphetamine in Salt Lake City. Souder's problem is that the conference was organized by the Harm Reduction Project, and Souder simply cannot tolerate the words "harm reduction." For the self-described Christian conservative congressman from Fort Wayne, the notion that drug users should be given needles, for instance, signals an insidious effort to undermine drug prohibition.

Souder and former SSDP national director
Shawn Heller, moments before Souder loses his
cool in a televised street encounter in his district
For the Harm Reduction Project, the concept is not nearly so nefarious. "The term harm reduction refers to various strategies and approaches for reducing the physical and social harms associated with risk-taking behavior. Harm reduction is about preventing disease, death, incarceration and isolation. It is about improving and saving lives. Harm reduction is about making dangerous behaviors less dangerous," the group says in its mission statement.

The Salt Lake City conference aims at reducing harm for both methamphetamine users and society at large by bringing together scientists, law enforcement, providers, and professionals to "discuss the intersection between methamphetamine use, HIV, and Hepatitis, as well as other relevant issues."

HHS is kicking in $3,000 in travel scholarships for conference attendees, the Harm Reduction Project's Luciano Colonna told the Washington Times, which was leaked a copy of the Souder letter. That qualified the agency to be listed as a "primary sponsor," along with the Utah Department of Health, the Utah State Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the California Department of Health Services, among other governmental entities.

But that was too much for Rep. Souder, who, in a letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, blasted the agency's association with harm reduction, however limited. "That administration officials from your department are consulting with harm reduction advocates... and sponsoring conferences controlled by the harm reduction network completely undermines the work of the president, the Congress and the men and women who work in law enforcement across the nation who are trying desperately to fight the meth epidemic," wrote Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources.

Souder demanded that Secretary Leavitt respond to him by Monday afternoon to explain why HHS was involved in the conference and to provide the names and contact information for HHS personnel who planned to attend. Leavitt and HHS did not meet that deadline and have yet to respond.

But while Souder was sour on the conference, it has been praised by his fellow hard-line Republican, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, as well as by Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. And some of the very law enforcement personnel Souder alluded to will be there sharing experiences and perhaps learning some new perspectives.

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10. Asia: More Reefer Madness from the Philippines

Hysteria over marijuana has been commonplace in the Philippines for years, and some remarks this week by Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director General Ricardo de Leon are a fine example of Reefer Madness at its most deluded. Not only did de Leon elaborate a version of the discredited "gateway theory", he also made the novel claim that marijuana is so toxic nothing can be grown on soil where it has been cultivated. De Leon did, however, reject the idea of poisoning methamphetamine users -- although for a quite curious and disturbing reason.

De Leon's remarks came during a press opportunity as he visited Dumaguete City and in the context of a discussion over whether marijuana cultivation could be stamped out by helping farmers plant a substitute crop, coffee. The PNP was studying the idea, de Leon said, and was looking at what varieties would grow in areas formerly planted with pot.

As quoted by the Philippines internet news portal INQ7 Express, de Leon claimed: "Marijuana is so toxic that after the soil is planted to it, no other crop can grow there," laying waste both to agricultural science and logical consistency in one fell swoop. There is no evidence that marijuana is "toxic" to soil. And if it were, why would the PNP be considering a crop substitution program that was doomed to failure?

De Leon also told reporters marijuana use was on the rise because of local shortages of methamphetamines. But once again demonstrating that consistency, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it, is "the hobgoblin of small minds," de Leon also warned that marijuana users were likely to graduate to meth, or "shabu" in the local parlance.

In any event, the herb should not be legalized or decriminalized, as City Councilor Noel de Jesus, a physician, has suggested. In November de Jesus called for decriminalization of marijuana for use and possession. But de Leon was having none of that. "I am happy that the law does not allow us the cultivation or use of marijuana," he said.

At least the high ranking PNP official frowned on suggestions being floated that one way to stop shabu use was to mix it with poison and sell the lethal concoction to consumers. He could not support that, he said. "That will not be fair to drug users because some users are victims. Some users do not even want to take drugs but do so without knowing it," he said.

By implication, poisoning drug users would be okay if only the PNP could ensure that the tiny fraction of those unknowingly "dosed" would not be affected.

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11. Web Scan: Seattle Weekly on the Drug Issue

Seattle Weekly on the Drug Issue:

Jimi's First Experience

A Drug War Peace Plan

The Port and the Pot Granny

Just Say Ommmmmm...

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12. Weekly: This Week in History

August 20, 1990: The US House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations releases a report on the results of Operation Snowcap, the Reagan-Bush administration program aimed at stopping the flow of drugs into the United States at their source. Snowcap's goal had been to eliminate coca crops, cocaine processing laboratories, clandestine landing strips, and other trafficking operations in the coca producing countries of South America. The report found that less than one percent of the region's cocaine had been destroyed by this campaign and that authorities in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia were deeply involved in narcotics trafficking.

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13. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

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 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 26-28, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD, 4th Annual Lakota Hemp Days. At the "Horse Camp," one mile west of BIA Highway 33, at the Kiza Park turnoff three miles north of Manderson. Suggested donation $50, camp or stay in Tipi for small fee, contact Vic White Plume at (605) 455-1122 for further information.

August 28, 11:00am-9:00pm, Olympia, WA, Third Annual Olympia Hempfest. At Heritage Park, visit for further information.

September 7-9, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Latin American Drug Policy Reform Meeting (in preparation for the Latin American Anti-Prohibitionist Conference, Brazil 2006), and First Regional Symposium of Legislators and Judges on Drug Policy. Sponsored by REFORMA, in the Salón Manuel Belgrano, Honorable Camara De Senadores de la Nacion (Senate Chambers), e-mail [email protected] for further information.

September 9, 8:30am-1:30pm, Washington, DC, "Drug Cops and Doctors: Is the DEA Hampering the Treatment of Chronic Pain?," forum featuring officials, academics, physicians, patients, and advocates, luncheon follows. At the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW, visit for further information.

September 14-17, Scottsdale, AZ, "Speaking Truth to Power: Vision, Voice & Justice," conference on racial and economic justice, sponsored by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the Project for the Future of Equal Justice. Contact Charles Wynder at [email protected] or (202) 452-0620 ext. 221 or 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].

POSTPONED: 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.

September 30, 5:00-8:00pm, Madison, WI, Third Annual IMMLY/Madison NORML Benefit. At the Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson, contact Gary Storck at (608) 241-8922 or visit for information.

October 1-2, Madison WI, "35th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival." At the UW Campus Library Mall, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

October 3-4, Washington, DC, "Rally for Rescheduling: Demand HHS Reschedule Marijuana Now!" Demonstration for medical marijuana at the US Dept. of Health & Human Services -- training 10/3 from 10:30am-6:30pm, rally 10/4 at 10:00am. Visit for further information.

October 18-19, Vancouver, BC, Canada, "Escaping the Chaos: A Public Health Alternative to Black Market Drug Distribution," conference and evening multi-faith session sponsored by the "Keeping the Door Open: Dialogues on Drug Use" coalition. At the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 W. Hastings St., visit for further information.

October 21-22, Hartford, CT, "Hartford's Drug Burden -- Where to Put Our Resources," sponsored by the City of Hartford and Aetna Insurance. For further information visit or contact (860) 657-8438, (860) 522-4888 ext. 6112, or [email protected].

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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