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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #404 -- 9/23/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Intrepid DRCNet editor Phil Smith is in Afghanistan -- read our brief intro this issue and check back for reports on Phil's conversations with officials, farmers and many others, and on an important conference happening this week in Kabul.

Attention graphic artists read about our t-shirt design contest, info below in this issue.

Table of Contents

    More Than One Foreign War in Afghanistan
    The sad case of Jonathan Magbie again gained the public's attention after members of his family this week filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the District of Columbia.
    Despite or perhaps because of intense law enforcement efforts against the drug trade, the violence associated with Hartford, Connecticut's black market continues to grow. But a conference next month will bring leaders and reformers together to see if Hartford can find a new way out.
    With Afghanistan still producing nearly 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin, alarm bells are ringing from Moscow to Washington. But a reform conference convening in Kabul next week will explore an alternative to the "more drug war" calls emanating from the Capitol and the Kremlin.
    Medical marijuana is on the move in Wisconsin, with a legislator shopping his bill around and polling demonstrating massive public support.
    A police crackdown on drug users in the Boston Common and Public Garden has raised the issue of the contradictory missions of public health and police in the drug war.
    Recovering from a financial crunch after last year's Boston Freedom Rally against marijuana prohibition was washed out by Hurricane Ivan, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition was back last weekend without missing a beat.
    DRCNet is currently soliciting designs for new t-shirts to be made available on our web site and worn by people nationwide who want an end to prohibition and the war on drugs.
    Chronicle readers who speak Spanish might be interested in two books and a magazine that were available at the Buenos Aires conference last week.
    Change The Climate, Rockefeller Laws, Jonathan Magbie, Marc Emery, More...
    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: Time for Accountability

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

David Borden
The sad case of Jonathan Magbie again gained the public's attention after members of his family this week filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the District of Columbia. Magbie, a 27-year old paraplegic who was paralyzed from the neck down when hit by a drunk driver at age four, died a year ago Monday after the DC Jail and Greater Southeast Community Hospital failed to provide him with proper medical care. Magbie was serving a ten-day jail sentence for marijuana possession, marijuana which he used medically to relieve the pain and discomforts he suffered daily.

To say that proper medical care was not provided actually doesn't quite tell it. The truth is that the jail did not allow Magbie the use of his ventilator until it was too late, despite his family's pleadings. As Capital Area ACLU attorney Art Spitzer, who has joined with the family's attorneys in bringing the suit, pointed out, no one has been held accountable for Magbie's untimely death -- no one at the jail, no one at the hospital, not Judge Retchin, who was not named in the lawsuit because of law protecting judges from that. An investigation by the District's Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure found that Retchin had acted within the law and cleared her of misconduct.

But to be cleared of official misconduct is not the same as to have acted responsibly, much less morally. The impulse to send Magbie to jail at all was a barbaric one that does not serve justice -- the prosecutor in fact had recommended against jail time, which is unusual in DC for that type of a misdemeanor by a first-time offender. And though Retchin claimed to media she lacked the authority to have ordered Southeast Hospital to keep Magbie rather than bounce him back to jail as they chose, there must have been something she could have managed, with sufficient efforts -- pressuring, pleading, something -- to avert the unfolding tragedy. Judges have a lot of pull; if she didn't have the power herself, someone she knew who would take her call certainly had it. While I doubt that anyone involved wanted Jonathan Magbie to die, that does not excuse the baffling series of events that caused his death. We of the District of Columbia and the United States deserve accountability from our public servants, and Magbie and his family deserve justice.

At the same time, for Magbie not to have died in vain, the discussion must range further. What kind of a system would ever send a man in that condition to jail unnecessarily? Why do we send people to jail for drugs at all -- marijuana, no less? How overcrowded is our criminal justice system now -- in significant part from the burden imposed by the drug war -- and how many other basic rights of the incarcerated are neglected daily as a result? Are our judges unaware of the significant shortcomings existing in correctional health care when they pronounce their sentences? Or our legislators when they pass their laws? How then can they so lightly consign low-level offenders to the prison or jail environment despite that and all the other known hazards? And in the face of all the scandals -- the profiling, the testi-lying, the unreliable informants -- should we conclude that there is one standard of ethics for society at large, but a different, lower standard for the criminal justice system?

Financial compensation won't heal the wounds felt by Magbie's family or friends; they will suffer from those wounds for the rest of their lives. But if justice can bring some semblance of comfort, or only make a needed point, let us see justice done for Jonathan Magbie.

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2. Feature: Endless Drug War, Endless Violence -- Hartford Looks for a New Way

Like every major American city, Hartford, Connecticut, has been fighting the war on drugs for decades. Despite drug bust after drug bust, sensational killing after sensational killing, it seems like much has happened but little has changed. The young, predominantly black men of Hartford continue to fill the state's jails and prison on drug charges, the violence associated with the black market drug trade continues -- and grows worse despite (or because of) intense law enforcement efforts, and illicit drugs remain easily and cheaply available, especially in the street dealing scene of the city's northeast side.

In Connecticut, black and Latino males make up less than 6% of the population, but they account for almost 70% of the state prison population of roughly 20,000. And they account for the vast majority of the roughly 14,000 drug offenders doing time in Connecticut.

This year alone, Hartford has seen a series of major drug busts -- 52 arrested in a federal crack conspiracy case early this year, 28 more in one fell swoop in late August -- and a law enforcement "Northeast Violence Reduction Initiative" that has rolled up even more young men and women. But with the violence continuing, the city is now about to embark on a path that could lead to a shift from drug war business as usual to a more rational approach to the problem of illegal drug sales and related violence in the city.

downtown Hartford
The city of Hartford and one of its largest corporate citizens, the Aetna insurance group, are sponsoring a conference October 21 and 22 aimed at evaluating the city's approach to drug law enforcement and reassessing just where the city can best have an impact on the problem. The city is contributing $10,000 and Aetna is kicking in $25,000 to fund "Hartford's Illicit Drug Burden -- Where to Put Our Resources," which will bring state and local law enforcement, political, and community leaders together with outside experts and drug reformers in an effort to bring some fresh ideas to the decades-old war on drugs.

While the conference is officially a city initiative, local drug reform activist Cliff Thornton and his organization Efficacy deserve credit for years of pounding away at state and local officials for change. For this conference, Thornton worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure that a radical reform message would be heard and heard again.

"I don't know of any other city that has sponsored a drug conference like this," said Thornton, "and I think it's going to spread. They wanted to make it as good as possible, and I agree with that. I'm just trying to make sure the drug reform people will get the biggest bang for the buck," he told DRCNet.

"I didn't want Efficacy to be up front, for obvious reasons," Thornton continued, "but if you look at the schedule of speakers, we're probably the main driver behind it, and that's how I prefer to do it. We want to get as many authorities as possible at the conference, and we want a broad cross-section of interested parties as well."

The line-up is indeed impressive on both counts. Officials who will attend and address the conference include Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, Police Chief Patrick Harnett (or his designee), and City Councilman Robert Painter, as well as New Haven drug court Judge Jorge Simone, local DEA representative Mark Kaczynski and a member of the state attorney general's office who is yet to be named. They will be joined by a variety of community figures, including Trinity College president Jimmy Jones, Merrille Friedman of the Connecticut Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council, and Maureen Price of Community Partners in Action.

A stellar roster of nationally known drug reform advocates will also address the conference, including Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Roger Goodman, director of the King County (Washington) Bar Association's Drug Policy Project; Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Jack Cole, Students for Sensible Drug Policy executive director Scarlett Swerdlow, California NORML executive director Dale Gieringer, Nick Eyle of New York's ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy, and retired Judge Arthur Burnett, head of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition.

The effort to win the hearts and minds of Hartford and state top cops and elected officials won't stop when each day's sessions end, Thornton said, but will continue in more informal dinner groups. "Right now, I'm trying to schedule Jack Cole to have dinner with the Hartford police chief and the chief of the state police, and I'm trying to get another dinner together where the mayor and some state representatives sit down with Roger Goodman and Nicky Eyle, who helped lead the way with the Syracuse audit," Thornton said. In Syracuse, then auditor Minch Lewis produced an audit of drug war spending that virtually shouted out for changed priorities.

And it won't stop with dinner meetings, either, Thorton emphasized. "There has to be a follow-up to this, and we already have in the planning stages, again sponsored by the city and Aetna."

For Thornton, the October conference is a concrete result of years of relentless activism. "We've been doing this type of work for years, and it's been a constant, repeated message of legalization, decrminalization, and medicalization. The Hartford Police Department and the state police hold press conferences to talk about all the drug dealers they've arrested, but it's pretty much the same old thing," he said. "At one of those press conferences, I told them that all they would achieve is a record number of shootings and killings, and that's what we've got now."

Thornton was also able to entice official interest by suggesting Connecticut cities follow the example of nearby Syracuse. "I forwarded that to the city council in Hartford and asked them to do the same thing. They said let's get together, and now here we are."

The Syracuse example is exciting interest beyond Hartford, said Thornton. "I forwarded that Syracuse audit to just about every city government in Connecticut, and eight cities got right back to me. Four of them are in the process of planning something like what we're doing in Hartford." In good time, said Thornton. "I want to hold off on those until we do Hartford; I want to use that as a template," he said, adding that the Hartford conference would be a test drive for future municipal conferences.

A call for an audit of Hartford's drug control spending will hopefully be a key part of the action plan that will emerge from the conference, said Thornton. "We will try to push the city to have an audit for the purpose of finding out where they're spending the money. Actually, we already know most of it goes for law enforcement, but an official audit would make that crystal clear, and could be the basis for really changing the way Hartford approaches the drug war."

Other favorable outcomes would include the writing of an ordinance to make marijuana offenses the "lowest law enforcement priority," and a move to dismantle the ubiquitous law enforcement drug task forces. "These are things we want to see come out of the conference," Thornton said.

It is now a little more than three weeks until the Hartford conference, and Thornton is making the most of it. "I'm scheduled to do countless radio and TV slots talking up the conference in the next few weeks, and Councilman Painter has a similar media schedule. I've been getting op-eds in the local newspapers. I know how to work the media, and by now, most of the local media knows me and how credible I am. It also helped that I spoke at those press conferences the police like to hold."

For Thornton, the forthcoming conference is vindication of a sort. "When I started talking to people about ending the war on drugs, about legalization and medicalization, they would tell me I was crazy. Now 90% of people who listen to me agree with me. I don't know if it's because I became a better speaker -- with 450 speaking engagements in the past few years, I get lots of practice -- or just because people are getting it, but they are getting it."

Now, thanks to the upcoming Hartford conference, and possibly similar ones in other Connecticut cities, state and municipal elected and law enforcement officials are going to have a chance to get it as well.

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3. DRCNet in Afghanistan: Reformer Conference Approaches in Kabul as Americans and Russians Decry Afghan Opium Trade

Click here for Chronicle editor Phil Smith's daily dispatches from Afghanistan this week and next!

With Afghanistan this year still producing bumper poppy crops and supplying nearly 90% of the world's opium and its derivative, heroin, alarm bells are ringing from Moscow to Washington. United Nations technocrats, British politicians, Russian defense ministers, and American congressmen alike are clamoring for a tougher war on drugs in Afghanistan to break the back of the opium economy. The US government is beginning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year to fight the opium trade, and British and NATO forces on the ground as ostensible peacekeepers are finding themselves drawn into a battle with powerful drug traffickers, some of whom are linked to the government in Kabul the peacekeepers are protecting.

old Taliban anti-drug poster
from BBC News
A European drug policy think-tank has a better idea. The Senlis Council is organizing a symposium early next week in Kabul to explore the radical notion of licensing Afghan opium production and diverting the crop into the legitimate global medicinal market. Doing so would both remove the major source of illicit opium in the world today and make opioid pain medications available to poor countries at reasonable prices, the Council argues in a feasibility study to be officially released in Kabul on Monday.

Drug War Chronicle will be there. Editor Phillip Smith will be reporting from Kabul next week and the following on the conference and related topics.

In the meantime, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), chair of the House International Relations Committee, is warning that Afghan heroin is not only undermining stability in Afghanistan, but that profits from it are financing insurgents in Iraq as well. "We know that illicit drugs fuel and finance terrorism in Afghanistan, where the opium and heroin in the region originates," Hyde wrote in a September 8 letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. "It passes out through terrorist-controlled areas, is taxed by them, and helps finance and arm our terrorist enemies."

And not just in Afghanistan. Hyde warned of an "emerging and dangerous growth of the illicit drug trade in Iraq, especially with heroin, now originating and pouring out of nearby Afghanistan. We can no longer ignore the threat to our national security from drugs in Iraq," Hyde wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Times.

Hyde's suspicions were seconded by former Pentagon anti-drug official Andre Hollis, who told the Times Iraqi intelligence had documented drug smuggling routes cutting from Iran into Iraq and then on into European drug markets via turkey. "Iraq has become a transit route for drugs, which are sold in both Europe and in Iraq and are used to further destabilize Iraq by funding anti-coalition militant activities in Iraq," Hollis said.

While Rep. Hyde and other Washington conservatives are worried about Afghan heroin funding anti-American insurgencies, Russia's defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, was worried about all the smack that he says is headed his way. In comments Monday to the RIA-Novosti news agency, he warned that as much as 500 tons of heroin could be flooding into Europe by year's end. "Production of pure heroin (in Afghanistan) is on the rise, and this year, if it is possible to put it this way, 500 tons of the substance may be supplied to the markets in Russia and Western Europe," he said during a cabinet meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With opium remaining the mainstay of the Afghan economy and providing a living -- directly or indirectly -- for millions of Afghans, the West's Afghan opium problem is unlikely to go away soon. Perhaps the Senlis Council can present a less bloody, costly, futile alternative then yet more of the same old war on drugs.

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4. Medical Marijuana: Wisconsin Bill Pending as Poll Shows Broad Support

Medical marijuana is on the move in Wisconsin. Long prodded by local activist groups like Is My Medicine Legal Yet, state Rep. Greg Underheim (R-Oshkosh) is now once again pushing a medical marijuana bill, and poll results just released by the Marijuana Policy Project show that such a measure would win the backing of three-quarters of Wisconsin voters.

In a September 14 message to his legislative colleagues, Rep. Underheim, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Health and vice chair of the Committee on Public Health circulated a draft of a bill he intends to introduce this session. According to the draft, the bill will prohibit the arrest of "qualifying patients" and "primary care givers," as well as provide for a medical necessity defense in the event they are arrested. Patients qualify by having a debilitating medical condition, including but not limited to AIDS, wasting, severe pain or nausea, seizures, and severe muscle spasms. Once verified by a physician, patients and caregivers must register with the state to be protected.

The draft of the bill also warns that federal law prohibits marijuana use, possession, or cultivation even for medicinal purposes. "This bill changes only state law regarding marijuana," the draft is careful to note.

Underheim is currently looking for cosponsors, he said in a note attached to the draft. If Wisconsin politicians are as attuned to polls as most are, he should be able to find some. According to a July poll of Wisconsin residents conducted for MPP by Chamberlain Research Consultants and released this week, more than 75% of respondents favored legislation to permit seriously ill patients to use marijuana. Support was bipartisan, with 68% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats in favor. It also cut across all age groups, with no age group reporting less than 70% support.

"We are heartened by such overwhelming, bipartisan support for legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said MPP legislative analyst Adam Horowitz. "Young or old, Republican or Democrat, Wisconsin residents believe seriously ill patients should not have to live in fear. We are hopeful that legislators will listen to their constituents and give Wisconsin patients the protection they deserve."

"The public clearly understands the difference between the medical use of marijuana and the recreational use of marijuana, and the public clearly supports the medical use of marijuana," said Underheim. Now the question is whether the Wisconsin legislature will listen to the people who elect it.

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5. Needle Exchange: Boston Crackdown Nets Needle Exchange Client

Early last week, the Boston Herald precipitated a police crackdown on drug users in Boston Common and the Public Garden with sensational stories about shooting up in public by heroin users. By the end of the week, the Herald found itself having to report on the contradictory missions of police and public health as a client of a city-approved needle exchange program was arrested by police doing anti-drug sweeps in the areas identified by the newspaper.

The arrest of a needle exchange client was unprecedented, Public Health Commission executive director John Auerbach told the Herald. "We've worked very hard over the last decade to make sure we have good communications with police to minimize the likelihood that would be a problem. Over that entire period, I can't remember a single instance where someone was getting monitored or getting arrested just as they were getting out of the van," he said. "I think this is a coincidence," he added hopefully.

Coincidence or not, that is precisely what happened to Joanna Leahy, 31, last Thursday. Just moments after stopping by the unmarked silver city van operated by the AHOPE Needle Exchange Program and picking up a brown bag with syringes and alcohol swabs, Leahy and another person, Rafeal Rodriguez, were arrested on heroin possession charges by Boston transit police.

According to the Herald, other people approached the van to exchange syringes during the course of the day, but because of the heavy police presence unleashed by the paper's exposé at least one client "broke into sprint" after scoring his needles to get rapidly away from the scene.

Numerous studies have found needle exchange programs to be effective in reducing the spread of HIV, Hep C, and other blood-borne diseases. Boston's AHOPE program has 2,000 clients, which it provides with access to detox programs, testing, and medical care, as well as syringes, condoms, alcohol wipes, and information. The program also provides membership cards, which will protect clients from arrest for syringe possession, but as Leahy's case makes clear, they do not protect clients from being arrested for drug possession.

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6. Marijuana: Boston's Freedom Rally Bounces Back

Overcoming a financial crunch after last year's Boston Freedom Rally against marijuana prohibition was washed out by Hurricane Ivan, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition was back on the Boston Common last Saturday without missing a beat. With this year's Hurricane Ophelia dampening the skies of New England, attendance was reportedly down from the 40-50,000 people the event has drawn in the past, but despite the wet weather and uncertainty until recent days that the event would actually come off, thousands of people streamed into the Common for a diet of rock, rebellion, and reefer politics.

Despite numerous calls from the stage for the legalization of marijuana, Boston police weren't taking the day off. Instead they sent uniformed and undercover police into the smoky crowds, managing to make 44 arrests, mostly for simple drug possession. Those arrests made the theme of the 16th annual Freedom Rally, "Secure the Blessing of Liberty," all the more resonant.

MassCann leader Keith Saunders told the crowd that one way MassCann wanted to secure the blessings of liberty is with the passage of a bill that would decriminalize simple pot possession. Under that bill, which has not moved since a June hearing in the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, people caught with less than one ounce of marijuana would be ticketed and subject to a fine of up to $100, with no criminal record.

While Saunders warned the crowd of the police presence and advised against toking up during the rally, not everyone heeded his advice. The Boston Globe interviewed Worcester resident Wayne Burke, a 53-year-old retired painter, as he shared a joint with a pair of young friends who came with him to the rally. "When we're done smoking this bone, we're not going to rob somebody," Burke shrugged. "We're going to go home and eat a sandwich and watch TV."

For MassCann, the aftermath of the rally was a time to give thanks, especially to people who contributed to ensure the rally came off after the financial disaster of last year's washout. It was not only people opening their wallets, MassCann noted; many vendors agreed to let the group hold their 2004 fees in a bid to keep the rally afloat. The event also had the backing of national NORML, High Times magazine, Radio WBCN "The Rock of Boston," and local businesses such as the Salvia Zone, Tripatouriam, and the Hempest, which provided promotional and other assistance.

In an op-ed published in the days before the Freedom Rally, MassCann's Steve Epstein cited Bostonian John Adams' 1763 prophecy that, "We shall by and by want a world of hemp more for our own consumption." From the sound of things at the Freedom Rally, some Bostonians are ready to consume hemp in all its forms.

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7. DRCNet T-Shirt Design Contest

DRCNet is currently soliciting designs for new t-shirts to be made available on our web site and worn by people nationwide who want an end to prohibition and the war on drugs. If you are a talented graphic artist who cares about this cause, we hope you'll donate your time and take part.

T-shirt designs must include our web site, -- possibly in the form of our stop sign logo, though we are open to other design options and we are not necessarily looking to make the stop sign a centerpiece of our new shirts as it has been of our shirts so far. Note that DRCNet does not use the marijuana leaf or any other drug image on its products. Also, we recommend that you run your ideas or rough drafts by us first, before putting in a large amount of your time on a design that may or may not wind up getting used. (Designs that might be usable on other products too would be especially welcome.)


If we use your t-shirt design, now or in the future, you will receive ten free DRCNet t-shirts in any size, a book of your choice from our premiums list, a travel mug, a mouse pad, and one of our "flashy" stop sign strobe lights. You will also of course be recognized in Drug War Chronicle and on our web site. Runners-up will also receive a free choice of one premium gift. (Click here to see all our current premiums.)

Entries must be submitted by the competition deadline of Friday, November 4, 2005, and correspondence discussing concepts or presenting rough drafts should be sent by Friday, October 21. E-mail all of the above to David Guard at [email protected] -- faxes may be sent to (202) 293-8344 if needed as well, but please let us know they are coming.

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8. Latin America: Three Spanish-Language Resources on Drug Policy Available

For Chronicle readers who understand written Spanish, the September conference in Buenos Aires continues to provide dividends. Available at the conference (and now through the publishers or authors) were two books, one hot off the presses and one a couple of years old but still packed with valuable information, as well as a magazine. All three resources deal in a comprehensive manner with different aspects of drug policy in Latin America, and for you Spanish speakers, well worth checking out. For you who don't speak Spanish, maybe it's time to think about learning it.

For a thorough, well-documented and well-researched look at all aspects of coca and cocaine in Peru, check out the just published "The Devils Speak: Amazonia, Coca, and the Drug Trade in Peru; Urgent Writings" ("Hablan los diablos: Amazonia, coca, y el narcotrafico en el Peru; escritos urgentes") by economist and coca grower advisor Hugo Cabieses, psychologist and coca grower advisor Baldomero Caceres, attorney and drug trafficking expert Ricardo Soberon, and journalist Ruger Rumrill. In addition to heavily annotated chapters on coca use and production, the coca growers movement, the cocaine traffic, and environmental impacts of the drug trade, the book also contains extensive interviews with coca grower leaders Nancy Obregon and Elsa Malpartida. "Devils" is available through the Ecuadorian publishing house Abya-Yala.

"Drugs: Making the Impossible Possible, the Harm Reduction Experience in Argentina" ("Drogas: hacienda possible lo imposible, experiencia de la reduccion de danos en Argentina") was published two years ago, but its in-depth look at harm reduction in a good-sized Latin American city (Rosario, Argentina) remains unparalleled and well worth the effort. Beginning in the 1990s, with the help of the Argentine health ministry, teams organized by the University of Rosario's Center for the Study of Drug Dependence and AIDS (CEADS-UNR) began hitting the streets of Rosario in an effort to take harm reduction where it was most needed: to the young people of the city's night life and to the slums or "irregular urban settlements" surrounding the city. Headed by CEADS-UNR director Dr. Silvia Inchaurraga, a group of contributors describe the various aspects of, and issues surrounding, what has become a very successful model harm reduction program. "Making the Impossible Possible" is available through the Argentine Harm Reduction Association.

Last but not least, the Colombian Institute for Peace and Development Studies (INDEPAZ) publishes the bi-monthly magazine "Meeting Point" ("Punto de Encuentro"), which concentrates on issues of war, peace, human rights, and development in Colombia, which means there is a lot of writing about coca, cocaine, and the drug trade. The September-October issue, for example, contains a selection of pieces on "the other war," the spraying with pesticides of hundreds of thousands of acres of Colombian farm land in an effort to wipe out the coca crop. It also contains a critical examination of Plan Colombia ("Plan Colombia: The Patriot Plan?), a rather jaundiced view of the "demobilization" of right-wing paramilitaries, and a call for a humanitarian and political solution to the war on drugs by 2010. "Meeting Point" is available through INDEPAZ or via Mama Coca.

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9. Web Scan: Change The Climate, Rockefeller Laws, Jonathan Magbie, Marc Emery, More...

New Change The Climate TV ad

Anthony Papa on the non-implementation of Rockefeller reform

Washington Post's Colbert King on Jonathan Magbie

Los Angeles City Beat on the Marc Emery extradition case -- could it legalize marijuana in Canada

Former drug possession prisoner Charles Shaw writes about A Less Fashionable War for Newtopia Magazine

Paul Armentano of NORML on student drug testing, Fort Wayne News Sentinel

UDV Supreme Court case briefs

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10. Weekly: This Week in History

September 23, 2002: Mike and Valerie Corral's medical marijuana hospice near Santa Cruz, California, is raided just before dawn by federal agents. The Corrals are held at gunpoint while their co-op garden is destroyed.

September 24, 1997: A federal grand jury in San Diego indicts Mexican cartel leader Ramon Arellano-Felix on charges of drug smuggling. The same day, he is added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

September 25, 1996: Mere days before Congress adjourns for the year, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) introduces H.R. 4170, the "Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996." Within a few days, the bill attracts a coalition of 26 Republican cosponsors. The legislation demands either a life sentence or the death penalty for anyone caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States.

September 26, 2002: In a move that eventually leads to a lawsuit regarding unlawful interference in an election, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awards a $3,000,000 grant to the governor's office in Nevada during the time when US Drug Czar John Walters is attempting to build opposition to Nevada's ballot initiative, Question 9, which proposes amending the state constitution by making the possession of three ounces or less of marijuana legal for adults. (Only two other states are awarded large SAMHSA grants at that time -- Michigan and Ohio, also facing drug reform initiatives.)

September 27, 2004: Struck by a drunk driver at four years old and paralyzed from the neck down, quadriplegic Jonathan Magbie dies from inadequate medical care while serving a ten day sentence for marijuana possession in a Washington, DC jail.

September 28, 2001: Drug Enforcement Administration agents seize files containing legal and medical records of more than 5,000 medical marijuana patients associated with the California Medical Research Center in El Dorado County when they raid the home and office of Dr. Mollie Fry, a physician, and her husband, Dale Schafer, a lawyer who earlier announced his bid for El Dorado County district attorney.

September 29, 1989: The domestic cocaine seizure record is set (still in effect today): 47,554 pounds in Sylmar, California.

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11. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

September 23-24, outside Sturgis, SD, "The Hemp Throw Down," festival benefiting the Alex White Plume legal defense fund and the South Dakota Safe Access to Medical Cannabis petition drive. Admission $10 per day including camping, at the Elk View Campground, exit 37 off I-90, gates open 3:00pm on Friday and 10:00am Saturday. Contact Jeremy at (605) 484-1806 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 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].

October 21-23, Chicago, IL, "Partnering for Peace: Colombian and North American Communities in Solidarity," and "Encounter of Communities," sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and others. Visit or contact Natalie Cardona at (215) 241-7162 or [email protected] for further information.

October 26, Washington, DC, "Rally for Rescheduling: Demand HHS Reschedule Marijuana Now!" Demonstration for medical marijuana at the US Dept. of Health & Human Services, 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.

December 1-2, Seattle, WA, "Exit Strategy for the War on Drugs: Toward a New Legal Framework," KCBA Drug Policy Project 2005 conference. At the Red Lion Hotel, 1415 5th Ave., registration opening 11/1. For further information contact KCBA at (206) 267-7001 or [email protected].

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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