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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #413 -- 12/2/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


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"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Table of Contents

    enough talk -- time to sue
    2005 has been quite a year at DRCNet. In 2006 DRCNet will be able to advance the cause in a broader way and at a greater level than ever before -- but only with your help.
    More than 75 readers responded to our request for pro-legalization sound bites. Here's a sampling of them.
    DRCNet's latest premium offer is a re-released classic detailing the outrages of the 1980s drug war -- outrages which still continue today.
    The ACLU is preparing to file a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal law barring students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. Plaintiffs are needed.
    In an historic conference that got underway yesterday in downtown Seattle, drug reform notables met to begin to plot strategies to move from drug prohibition to a regulatory drug control regime.
    While the ACLU Santa Cruz office was preparing a national class action lawsuit, a scholarship program that is finding many of their plaintiffs held a celebrity fundraiser several hundred miles to the south in LA.
    The new book by the reporter who did groundbreaking work exposing the Tulia scandal is a page turner and a must read.
    America's prisons must be a real captive market for wannabe drug dealers -- this week yet another prison guard goes down. And then there's the case of the bad cop turned bad kiddie van driver.
    Open government activists have won a court ruling forcing LA County's Impact drug task force to allow public attendance at its board meetings. The repercussions could be statewide.
    Despite global appeals for clemency, Singapore this morning executed 25-year-old Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van just before dawn.
    Northern California's Mendocino County has been known for marijuana growing for at least 30 years. But the economic scale of the industry may be even greater than was thought.
    Police in Flagler County last week arrested two 10-year-old girls for bringing a bag of parsley to school and pretending it was marijuana.
    Under new powers granted police in Britain's fight against street crime, people arrested for "acquisitive crime" now face mandatory drug tests upon arrest.
    Mexico's war on drugs has traditionally been the domain of federal police and, increasingly, the Mexican armed forces. But as of Monday, state and local police will have the authority to enforce federal drug laws aimed at traffickers too.
  15. WEB SCAN
    New "Change The Climate" Animation
    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. Update and Appeal: DRCNet in 2006

During the last year, nearly 1.5 million people have been arrested in the United States for drug offenses, and the number imprisoned here for drug offenses at latest count reached 530,000, both all-time high numbers. This is just one of the reasons our nation urgently needs to stop its ill-conceived “drug war.”

Ending the drug war is a reason I hope you will support our organization as we head into 2006. Many people don't realize just how important small- or mid-sized individual donations are at DRCNet – they make up a fourth of our total budget and half of our grassroots lobbying budget. That’s a lot of work that can get done or not get done, depending on how steadily and how generously people like you support us. Would you be willing to donate to DRCNet for our work in 2006 right now? Our web site for credit card donations is – mail-in information appears below as well.

David Borden and US Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
at our June 1 Seattle Perry Fund event
2005 has been quite a year at DRCNet, and with your help 2006 can be even more of one – we are poised to build on our steady work of the past 12 years in a way that will propel DRCNet’s impact in new and ever more significant directions – in 2006 we will use the achievements we’ve had in both our educational and lobbying programs as a platform for advancing the cause in a broader way and at a greater level.

First, some 2005 highlights:

  • A year of gaining access: Nine members of Congress and two celebrities spoke for events organized by DRCNet in 2005.
  • A year of affecting federal legislation: Pending likely changes to the Higher Education Act drug provision that may go further this year than anyone thought was possible.
  • A year in which DRCNet has been read: Roughly two million people will have visited DRCNet web sites this year by the end of it.
  • A year in which we’ve been in the media – such as an August article in The Washington Post, where David Borden was quoted criticizing the drug provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA); a July article and editorial in the St. Petersburg Times also quoting Borden, as a vote on the drug provision approached in a House committee; a December Boston Globe article (well, this one late last year, but it’s good) about our 12/9 Perry Fund reception featuring Rep. Barney Frank.
  • A year of cutting-edge journalism – such as Drug War Chronicle editor Phil Smith’s two-week stint in Afghanistan reporting on the impact of opium eradication and prohibition on the war-torn nation. With a month to go, the Chronicle has seen 44 issues so far this year, including more than 700 articles.
Now for 2006:

Drug War Chronicle's Phil Smith interviews former opium-
growing villagers in the countryside outside Jalalabad
On the educational side: You are probably aware that DRCNet is known for producing the most extensive, journalistic, in-depth publication on drug policy in the world, the aforementioned, acclaimed Drug War Chronicle newsletter. Numerous advocates around the world have told us how important this weekly report is to their work. (If you’re not getting Drug War Chronicle, I hope you’ll check it out – visit our web site to read the current issue or sign up for Drug War Chronicle e-mails.) Drug War Chronicle will continue, but that is not all we will be doing. In 2006 we will launch the “Stop the Drug War Speakeasy,” a concerted intellectual assault by anti-prohibitionists on the sphere of media, opinion leaders and communities involved with discourse on social issues. The way to do this in 2006 is via the blogosphere (with accompanying publishing and letter-writing), and the potential for affecting the public debate is greater than ever before. DRCNet’s status as the only full-purpose national membership and lobbying group that formally takes a broad, outright anti-prohibitionist stance, and our in-depth, original reporting via the Chronicle, places us in a unique position for doing this. With your support it will happen in a big way and the case for legalization will be taken to the media where it needs to happen.

On the lobbying side: As you probably know, the bulk of our legislative advocacy at DRCNet has been the spearheading of the campaign to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act, a law that has stripped over 175,000 would-be students of the college aid eligibility since going into effect 5 1/2 years ago. We have devoted as much of our resources to this campaign as we have because it is the only drug law that the US Congress in the current political climate is willing to scale back, because it is the drug law that has the singular most amount of support in Congress for repealing, and because it is a phenomenal issue for purposes of reaching out to mainstream organizations and beginning the process of getting them involved in drug policy reform. The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently considering different versions of partial reforms to the law, and soon a “conference committee” consisting of members of both chambers will pick one or the other or some combination of both. While the outcome this year will not be all that we want – we want the law repealed – it is still a victory, and an historic event – rollbacks of drug laws by Congress are few and far between.

The Washington Post, August 15, 2005, reporting on the HEA drug provision:
“Going to school is their way of getting back on track,” said David Borden, executive director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, an advocacy group. “This is a second punishment that can [interfere] with the process of recovery.”
“The government has done nothing to publicize it, other than include it on the financial aid form, but that's often too late,” Borden said. “And no one thinks they're going to get caught.”

A key component of our strategy that has helped accomplish this has been the building of a national coalition of organizations, the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, or CHEAR. Over 250 organizations to date have now called for repeal of the drug provision, at least 200 of them due to DRCNet’s outreach efforts. We believe that many of these groups will also be willing to speak up on other issues affected by the drug war, and next year we want to begin the process of bringing them further in. We will probably start with similar “drug provisions” such as those affecting eligibility for welfare or for public housing, but we will also look at what we can do to help medical marijuana, or sentencing, or relieving the undertreatment of chronic pain, etc. By continuing this work, and by broadening it to more issues, we envision building a national network of literally thousands of organizations, some of which will go further or do more than others, but all helping us chip away at one or more pieces of the drug war. Coalition building is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to change policy; we have made a great start of it, and with your help will do this in a bigger way than has ever before been done in this cause.

Though we are eager to see our advocacy branch out into more drug war issues, we also believe it is important to continue what we’ve started and that the financial aid issue has much more potential for building bridges and helping people now. Through this route, DRCNet will also expand in a significant way into the arena of state legislation and policy reform. It came to our attention over the last year that while most state legislatures have never voted to deny financial aid benefits to people with drug convictions, most such people are losing their state aid as well due to the intertwined nature of how federal and state financial aid systems work. One or two weeks from now DRCNet will release (again under the auspices of CHEAR) our first report, detailing the impact of this issue at the state financial aid level. State legislators have told us this will be the most important thing for enabling them to fix this problem. If we can’t repeal the drug provision in Congress this year, maybe next year we can gut or reduce its impact by getting people aid back at the state level. And in doing so, we will forge relationships with state politicians and organizers, some of whom will be willing to do more to stop the drug war in the future; and we will build the expertise needed to help them do it.

And a program that blends education with advocacy: our National Perry Fund Campaign, a series of events in different cities that raise funds for our scholarship program assisting students who have lost their financial aid because of drug convictions. In addition to being a charity, the Perry Fund is also an awareness campaign – it has been covered by BET, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe, among other outlets – and it is a way of establishing contact with a class of people who have been hurt by the drug war – hundreds of people who've lost their financial aid because of a drug conviction have registered with the Perry Fund through our "pre-application" form. The ACLU recently announced that it is seeking people affected by the drug provision for a pending national class action lawsuit – the Perry Fund database is the “big list” for finding such people, and we are calling it to find them plaintiffs. Also, because a scholarship fund is “respectable,” we have been able to bring political officials out in ways they had not done before. For example, our Seattle Perry Fund reception last June featured US Rep. Jim McDermott in his first public showing of support for ending the drug war. The Perry Fund campaign will continue at some level in 2006.

On a budget of a few hundred thousand dollars a year to get all this done, DRCNet is a bargain. But unless you step up to the plate it won’t happen – we can’t do this with grants alone. So please consider making a generous donation today, or by the end of the year. Again, our web site for credit card donations is – consider signing up to donate monthly – or donate by check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. (Note that contributions to Drug Reform Coordination Network, which support our lobbying work, are not tax-deductible. Deductible contributions can be made to DRCNet Foundation, same address.) Lastly, please contact us for instructions if you wish to make a donation of stock.

Thank you for your support. I hope to hear from you soon – please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments, and take care.


David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

P.S. The sooner we receive your donation, the sooner we can move forward on all these plans. Please donate today if you can!

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2. Editorial: Now You Can Ask Me Why

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

David Borden
Two weeks ago in my editorial titled "Tell Me Why," I confessed that after 12 years in the movement I am still uncertain as to how best to make the case for ending drug prohibition (e.g. legalization) during the 10 or 15 seconds that sometimes is all that's available, and I asked for readers suggestions for "sound bites" we can use.

More than 75 Chronicle readers responded to that request. Though not every response qualified as a 15-second sound bite, all of them had some use and intellectual value for thinking about the issue. Apologies go to those whose ideas I am not printing here -- the format does not permit a complete listing -- perhaps we will post a full compendium in the near future. Also, if you did not explicitly give me permission to use your name, I have not done so, unless you are a known public figure in this issue.

One e-mail titled "short and sweet" had a suggestion that indeed fit that bill: "Drug prohibition is a waste of time, resources, and lives. It hurts people who need our help. E-mail me at ___ and I'll tell you more." The advantage of this line, in addition to its shortness, is that it expresses the anti-prohibitionist viewpoint in terms of values that most people share -- not hurting people, especially the people we say we're trying to help, not wasting resources on a system that doesn't work. Something it doesn't do is provide the listener, who might think prohibition is helpful, with our arguments as to why it is not. But it is still pretty good, and giving out the e-mail address is a nice touch.

"It didn't work for alcohol, and it's not working for drugs" -- a succinct expression of an historical analogy that people are likely to understand. From the same reader: "It is a public health issue, not a criminal issue, and we don't lock up fat people." "Using drugs does not make you a criminal -- just ask George Bush." "The war on drugs creates more casualties worldwide than drug usage does." Another reader offered this one on the same idea: "We were smart enough to repeal alcohol prohibition. What's different?"

Another reader offered these among others: "Because legalization allows for regulation and control." "Because the last time somebody shot up the neighborhood in a liquor store turf war was the '30's." "Because I need protection from murderers and rapists
more than I need protection from junkies and stoners."

LEAP's Howard Wooldridge, whose picture with his horse and cross-country traveling companion Misty, said he has used the following throughout the nation with positive effect: "Why do cops want to legalize drugs? To focus on drunk drivers and child molesters, cut crime in half, and stop funding terrorists."

Bob Newland of South Dakota wrote, "There's a lot of evidence that prohibition laws create massive corruption and reduce the effectiveness of programs designed to help people who use harmful substances to excess."

Jay Fleming of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (whose "Cops Say Legalize Drugs -- Ask Me Why" t-shirt inspired this discussion) assured me you get used to this if you wear the t-shirt enough and had some great suggestions: "a 12-year-old can walk into a bar to try and buy alcohol and get thrown out. The same 12-year-old walks up to any drug dealer and get drugs." "The only one controlling the purity of drugs, where drugs are sold, to who, and where the profits go is the drug dealer. If you want to control something, it must be regulated." "There are no gangs fighting over whiskey territories or anything else that's legal. Gangs are fighting over territories covering drugs. Drug prohibition creates a black market with enormous profits that attracts the criminal element and gangs. With marijuana literally worth its weight in gold, as long as people can grow gold in their basement this will not stop."

"jackl" of the blogosphere suggested, "No one would suggest putting millions of alcohol consumers in prisons and their children in foster care as a way of 'protecting kids.'"

Mark Haden of Canada suggested, "All jails have lots of drugs in them. If prohibition does not work when we have individuals guarded and in cages it will not work on our streets," and "The black market [created by prohibition] produces violence, crime, disease, corruption and death and sets up a system that makes drugs widely available and engages our youth."

This one strives to cover a number of the many prohibition-related problems in a breath: "Because it doesn't work! Drugs are as plentiful as ever and almost everything we identify as the 'drug problem' is not inherent in the drugs but is a direct result of prohibition; such as: crime, violence, overflowing prisons, lack of treatment facilities, corruption, third world upheaval, the evisceration of civil rights, destroyed lives..."

Consistency is a prohibition issue: "Why have the presently illicit drugs been selected for prohibition while similar drugs have not?," Australia's Peter Watney wrote.

Then there is the futility and counterproductiveness of it: "Because 60 years of the present policy has made things worse." "Because there are more drug users dying today than when drugs were not prohibited."

A lot of people out there don't buy the freedom or rights argument for drugs, unfortunately (and inconsistently), but that doesn't make it unimportant. If this is the kind of argument you want to make, our readers had some ideas: "It is my mind and body." "Freedom to pursue happiness." "Freedom from incarceration." "Freedom to get into trouble. Freedom *not* to get into trouble." "Under what moral authority does one adult punish another adult for ingesting harmful substances?"

I was not thinking of marijuana-specific arguments when I put this question out, but that is an approach that many advocates take (because of marijuana's relative mildness and safety), and we got some suggestions for it: "Because 800,000 Americans are arrested each year for marijuana, which is clearly non-addictive and less harmful than alcohol." "No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose; it is a natural plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years. Also, it has a number of medicinal properties." Robert Holsinger excerpted from his blog: "Marihuana arrests mess up peoples' lives far more frequently than the herb itself."

More short and sweet ones: "End the drug war, save lives." "Because the fruits of drug prohibition are crime, corruption, violence and death." "90 years and still no light at the end of the tunnel" (Timothy Colgan of Washington state). "When drugs are outlawed, only outlaws will have drugs" (Robert Cook). "We've got bigger fish to fry, and better ways to spend our tax dollars" (also Robert Cook). "It just doesn't make sense when you look at the strategy and the results" -- good if you're not sure what someone's beliefs are, according to the author. "Prohibition is an experiment which has failed" (Dave Michon). "Because dealers don't ask for ID!"

"The war on drugs is a failure, it costs billions and has not stopped anyone from getting drugs if they want to. We should stop wasting tax money on a war that cannot be won any more than prohibition could stop drinking."

"Anytime you make something in demand illegal, you merely create a black market. Would you rather the profits go to criminals or farmers and taxes?" "Who do you want to control your children's access to drugs, drugstores or dealers?"

So, I could narrow these down more, but I'm not sure that would be helpful. The fact is that different advocates will feel more comfortable with different arguments, and different arguments will work better with different listeners in different situations. One the other hand, when there eventually is a specific media campaign to take this on, we may need to pick three or so and stick to them if we are to be effective. Let me know which ones are your favorites and how well they seem to work for you. And thanks again to all of you proffered suggestions. This is still a work in progress, but I feel more ready than before to say "now you can ask me why."

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3. Offer and Appeal: The Great Drug War, by Arnold Trebach

If you've been reading Drug War Chronicle for awhile, or have otherwise followed drug policy reform over the decades, then you likely know the name "Arnold Trebach" -- founder of the modern drug policy reform movement and good friend and partner to DRCNet -- and you may have heard of his classic expose, "The Great Drug War: And Rational Proposals to Turn the Tide," re-released in print earlier this year.


Arnold Trebach

As Drug War Chronicle writer/editor Phil Smith concluded in our review of the Great Drug War published earlier this month, "'The Great Drug War' remains invaluable reading, not just for historical perspective -- which is fascinating and depressing enough -- but for its keen analysis of the dynamics of prohibition that are still at work and, in some cases, more entrenched than they were two decades ago."

Because we feel that "The Great Drug War" offers an important recounting of the genesis of many of today's drug war outrages, we have decided to offer it as our new membership premium -- donate $35 to DRCNet to help us continue our work educating the public and lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and we will send you a complimentary copy of "The Great Drug War." Click here to donate online. Additionally, in order to encourage you to support DRCNet at a higher level, Dr. Trebach has agreed to personally autograph copies for anyone who donates at least $60.

We can also accept donations by check or money order. Send them to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. (Note that contributions to Drug Reform Coordination Network, which support our lobbying work, are not tax-deductible. Deductible contributions can be made to DRCNet Foundation, same address.) Lastly, please contact us for instructions if you wish to make a donation of stock.

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4. Feature: Plaintiffs Wanted -- ACLU to File Lawsuit Challenging Federal Ban on Financial Aid for College Student Drug Offenders

The American Civil Liberties Union Drug Law Reform Project is preparing to file a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal law barring students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid -- and it's looking for a few good plaintiffs. The legal move comes after seven years of struggle by a broad-based coalition to get Congress to repeal the law. While Congress this year is moving to adopt a "fix" to limit the law's scope, that isn't enough for opponents who seek outright repeal. Impatient with Congress's glacial pace, now those foes are taking the battle to the federal courts.

past drug provision victim Marisa Garcia
addresses last month's LA Perry Fund event,
helping to raise scholarship funds
-- and find plaintiffs
The drug provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA), authored by leading congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), blocks students with drug convictions -- no matter how minor -- from receiving financial aid for specified periods. According to the latest figures from the US Department of Education, the provision has so far stopped at least 175,000 potential college students from receiving financial aid, as well as an unknown number who, knowing that they would be denied aid, did not bother to even fill out the application form.

Since the provision began to bite 5 1/2 years ago, a broad coalition of student, academic, civil rights and justice reform organizations known as the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (CHEAR) organized by DRCNet with the ACLU as a key partner, has been fighting to repeal the drug provision. With Rep. Souder and his allies up against the likes of coalition members the American Council on Education and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, this year reformers are on the verge of winning a partial victory. Rep. Souder retreated from the law he authored, saying he had never intended the provision to apply to old drug convictions, but only to students who committed drug offenses while in college receiving aid.

The so-called "Souder fix" is now pending in Congress. It will limit the provision's reach to include only students whose offenses occurred while they were in school and receiving federal financial aid. But with drug arrests at an all-time high -- more than 1.5 million last year -- that will still leave thousands or tens of thousands of students in the lurch every year, barred for receiving financial aid for offenses as trivial as simple marijuana possession.

"We support the proposed legislation, but it is not a complete solution, and we don't even know if it is going to pass this year," said the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project's Adam Wolf, who is heading preparations for the lawsuit. But with Congress fiddling around with partial fixes, it is time to go to court, Wolf told DRCNet. "What really needs to happen is that the government needs to see it cannot deny an education to someone just because he or she has a drug conviction."

While the lawsuit is not yet filed, the ACLU will likely challenge the HEA drug provision on three grounds, said Wolf. "First, it is unlawfully retroactive in that it punishes people for conduct that occurred prior to the enactment of the HEA," he explained. "Second, we are looking at a claim for violation of equal protection under the law. Third, the denial of student loans is a form of double jeopardy in that students are punished twice -- once by the court, and once by the denial of loans for violating the drug laws. In enacting the law, legislators were very clear about this. They said people like this need to be punished as part of our nation's effort in fighting the war on drugs."

CHEAR's Chris Mulligan is pleased the ACLU is moving forward on the legal front. "We have been going through the legislative process," he told DRCNet, "and Congress is considering some potential changes, but repeal of the law is not really on the table in Congress. Regardless of whether Congress acts to reform the drug provision, people are still going to have their lives ruined because of this policy."

"We have people who were already punished once, and denying them financial aid acts as a second, illegal punishment," Mulligan continued. "And where is equal protection under the law when only those students poor enough to need financial aid are punished?"

"Congress has failed to listen to the growing chorus of student voices demanding repeal of this discriminatory and counterproductive law," said Scarlett Swerdlow, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). "Far too many students have had their education held hostage by drug war politics. It's time to stand up and take our aid back."

CHEAR, DRCNet and SSDP are doing what they can to find potential plaintiffs for the lawsuit. "We're very excited about this development because it provides us with a useful tool in articulating that the drug provision just hasn't been dealt with and is fundamentally flawed," Mulligan said. "We've sent some people who said they were willing to be plaintiffs over to the ACLU, and we're trying to reach out to others right now, including Perry Fund scholarship applicants." With the Perry Fund contact database numbering in the hundreds, the program is likely to be a major source of plaintiffs for the suit.

But ACLU is looking for more in order to strengthen the class action lawsuit, Wolf said Wednesday. If you have been or will be affected by the HEA drug provision, call the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project toll-free at 1-866-4-HEA-FIX or email Wolf at [email protected] -- let him know you heard about it from DRCNet and let us know too.

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5. Feature: Conference to Plot Drug War Exit Strategy Gets Underway in Seattle

In a historic conference that got underway yesterday in downtown Seattle, drug reformers, scholars, activists, and experts from across the USA, as well as Europe and Canada, met to begin to plot strategies to move from drug prohibition to a regulatory drug control regime. Organized by the King County Bar Association (KCBA) the "Exit Strategy for the War on Drugs" conference is also bringing Washington state legislators, judges, and other public officials into the mix as it seeks to study the "pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts details of alternative drug control model."


KCBA's Roger Goodman emceeing the
Seattle Perry Fund event, 6/1/05

The conference builds on the KCBA Drug Policy Project's groundbreaking efforts to make Washington state a laboratory in moving beyond drug prohibition. Led by Roger Goodman, the project has spent the last few years bringing together the state's professional organizations behind a proposal -- now manifest in the form of legislation that will be introduced when the session begins in January -- for the state to examine alternatives to prohibition. That proposal is supported by a massive KCBA study, "Effective Drug Control: Toward a New Legal Framework," released earlier this year. While aimed at Washington state, the KCBA model is applicable elsewhere, and with this conference the organization is making clear its goals extend far beyond the Pacific Northwest.

"We're not here today to talk about what's wrong with the war on drugs," said Goodman, acknowledging a broad consensus among the crowd that the drug war was a failure. "We are talking about where to go from here. This is a historic meeting."

To befit the occasion, Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann gave a Thursday morning speech challenging audience members to really think about what they are trying to achieve and the best means of doing so. "Is there a way to think about the far-reaching alternative, legalization? The optimal policy is one that reduces the harms of drugs and the harms of the drug control system," he maintained, telling the story of a 1990 Princeton round table on drug policy. "We used a form of intellectual stretching. We started with the prohibition model and asked how could we stretch it to reduce its harms while sustaining its benefits. Then we considered a libertarian supermarket model and thought -- gasp! -- millions would drug themselves and society would crumble. But what if we could impose constraints and regulate it, what if we could stretch that model?"

The Princeton group couldn't quite square the circle, Nadelmann said, splitting over issues such as whether and how the state should be involved. But an interim model eventually emerged, "the mail order/vitamin house model," where a single, legally licensed drug supply house would accept orders for any drug from any adult anywhere in the United States.

"The model is based on two assumptions," Nadelmann elaborated. "First, our core principle is nobody deserves to be punished simply for what they put into their bodies absent harm to others, and second, people have the right of access, to obtain the substance of their choice from some legally regulated producer and supplier."

Such a model is not a libertarian free market model -- it does not assume a right to sell -- and it leaves room for flexible approaches in the states, Nadelmann said. The benefits would be obvious. "This would surely devastate organized crime, eliminate most of the criminal market, and the problem of adulterated drugs," he argued.

But for many, the benefits would be outweighed by the specter of mass intoxication. "What divides people who like the model from people who don't has to do with a deep-seated feeling about how you regard the vulnerability of human beings in contemporary society under such a model," Nadelmann said. "Many believe Americans are fundamentally weak and, given the opportunity, tens of millions would succumb." We must confront those fears, he said. "We have a great appreciation of the horrors of the drug war, and that's why we have to look at the alternatives and look at what we are afraid of."

While Nadelmann provided plenty to chew on, he was hardly alone in a Thursday line-up that included ACLU Drug Law Reform Project head Graham Boyd, Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies, Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, and Deborah Small, executive director of Break the Chains -- and those are just some of the professional reformers. Prominent academic specialists including "Drug War Heresies" author Peter Reuter, UC Santa Cruz sociologist Craig Reinarman, historian David Courtwright, and University of Washington psychologist Alan Marlatt were also in the house, with more big names, such as Reuters' coauthor Robert MacCoun and UCLA professor Mark Kleiman scheduled for today.

Dutch psychologist and drugs researcher Fredrik Polak flew across the Atlantic to address the conference, as did Steve Rolles of Transform, the British drug reform organization. And the Canadians, unsurprisingly, brought a large contingent, including Mark Haden of the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, and Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, who gave Thursday's luncheon address.

Nolin, who rose to drug reform prominence by authoring a 2002 Canadian Senate report calling for marijuana legalization and the consideration of regulatory approaches for other drugs, emphasized the importance of the work being done this week in Seattle. "This conference will not only guide future efforts in the Washington state legislature, it will also send a clear message to the federal authorities in the US that the status quo is not sustainable," Nolin said. "And it also ties in to rethinking the international agreements that have regulated drugs since 1909. Many governments are now feeling pressures from their own citizens to end the war on drugs, and prohibition, that venerable grandmother, is now on her last legs. The solution lies within our hands, we North Americans. We must send a clear message to our leaders. If governments around the world feel the wind of change blowing from North America, we will win."

The "Exit Strategy for the War on Drugs" conference continues through today. Look for more on the conference and related articles next week.

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6. Feature: Los Angeles Event Raises Funds for HEA Victims

Rick Overton
While the ACLU Drug Policy Project was preparing its potential Higher Education Act (HEA) drug provision class action lawsuit last month in Santa Cruz, a few hundred miles down the Pacific Coast several dozen people gathered at the luxurious Hollywood Hills home of drug reform supporter Richard Wolfe for a fundraiser designed to benefit the provision's victims. Amidst a marvelous collection of psychedelic Huichol yarn paintings, ayahuasca-inspired art, and other rarities collected by Wolfe, the guests enjoyed wine and fine foods before sitting down to listen to actor Dean Cameron -- who describes himself as "that guy from those movies" -- emcee an evening that mixed comedy and earnestness.

Organized by DRCNet, the fundraiser will benefit the John W. Perry Fund, a scholarship program devoted to helping students affected by the HEA drug provision stay in school. It follows previous benefits in Washington, Boston, and Seattle. So far, the Perry fund has awarded nearly $21,000 in scholarships to 13 students.

As guests including cyber-rights pioneer John Gilmore, former medical marijuana drug war prisoner Todd McCormick, and Reason magazine's David Nott looked and listened, Cameron introduced comic actor and writer Rick Overton. "Our culture has gone reverse insane," intoned Overton, pacing intently. "We are ruled not by God, but by a drunken step-god -- 'Don't you make yer mama cry, boy!'" he threatened in a fine imitation of a redneck drawl.

"We have to legalize," Overton explained, circling a little closer to the evening's theme. "I went to Amsterdam, it was like Eurodisney for adults. There's nothing illegal for adults there because being human isn't a crime. I went to the Bulldog Café, and they had an entirely different kind of menu on the back with, like, $10 Moroccan hash," Overton sighed at memory. "I bought a brick, I held it, I smelled it, and I started crying like Miss America. It was the happiest day of my life."

Cal State Fullerton student Marisa Garcia -- introduced by Cameron as "the national spokesperson for the campaign to repeal the HEA drug provision, who enjoys archery, quiet walks on the beach, and romantic dinners..." -- spoke to the effect the provision had on her after she got popped for a pot pipe in her car. "It was a first offense, I pled guilty, and I thought I broke the law, I'll pay the fine. I thought that was the end of it, but I was in for a surprise when I got my form back and found out I wasn't eligible for financial aid."

Thanks to help from a mother who couldn't really afford it, Garcia managed to stay in school, but it was a painful experience. "At first, I was devastated. I thought I had made a huge mistake that was going to impact my education, but a few months later I met Steve Silverman (then HEA coordinator at DRCNet), and he told me about the drug provision, the way it affects mostly minorities and people from low- and middle-income families. You shouldn't get punished again just because you need financial assistance."

The crowd also heard from Dr. Pat Hurley, financial aid director at nearby Glendale Community College and a player in national financial aid policy circles. "The big problem with the HEA drug provision is that it penalizes people who want to turn their lives around by going to college," she said. "Why is this population so much more dangerous than murderers and rapists and all those other criminals?"

DRCNet's David Borden, the fund's founder, pointed out pending changes to the Higher Education Act that will scale the drug provision back, though with as yet undetermined details. "It's not all we want -- we want the law repealed -- but it is a significant event that Congress is rolling back a drug law. The last time that happened was in 1994 when the safety-valve was create to exempt some first-time drug offenders from the mandatory minimum sentences."

Borden continued to explain some of the rationale for a policy reform group like DRCNet choosing to create a scholarship fund to help individuals. "History often turns on the actions of individuals. When someone like Marisa speaks out and the stories of people harmed by these laws gets heard in the media, that's the most important thing that needs to happen to get them changed." Having a scholarship fund is a provocative way to make the point and increases the number of contacts the organization can make with more such potential spokespersons, Borden said.

"This is about the students, said Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (CHEAR) campaign director Chris Mulligan. "DRCNet and the Perry Fund help people like Marisa. Borden and DRCNet have decided to help these people directly while we work to change the law. Now you can help us help them."

And then it was the hour of the checkbooks.

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7. DRCNet Book Review: "Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town," by Nate Blakeslee (2005, Public Affairs Press, 450 pp., $26.95 HB)

Regular Drug War Chronicle readers are undoubtedly familiar with Tulia, the small Texas Panhandle town where an itinerant undercover cop almost single-handedly sent a fifth of the town's adult black population to prison on bogus cocaine sales charges. We've been reporting on the bust and its fall-out since October 2000, a little more than a year after the early morning raids that set events in motion, and when the first faint rumblings about massive drug war injustice in Tulia were beginning to appear on the national mediascape.

Operation Rolling Redemption, Tulia, 2003
In that first story, we relied heavily on the groundbreaking investigative reporting of the Texas Observer's Nate Blakeslee, author of "Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town." In July 2000, his Austin Chronicle piece chronicle-oldd the mass bust, the mass incarceration that followed, and the first successful attack on the credibility of rogue narc Tom Coleman. Since then, Tulia has been Blakeslee's story to own, and with "Tulia" he has taken full journalistic possession.

The book is a page-turner. In 450 pages, Blakeslee weaves a virtually seamless narrative that brings the characters to vivid life, from the mostly young, mostly black men who were the real victims in Tulia to the staunch, church-going sheriff who ordered their arrests and the shiftless drifter with a badge and a racist attitude whose lies sent many of them to prison. He also paints a stark portrait of Tulia itself, a weathered West Texas town whose best days are behind it and whose white population still has problems accommodating itself to the blacks who now make up a tenth of the town's 5,000 souls.

Blakeslee's story is fast-moving and riveting, as he moves with ease from character portraits to explanations of legal arcana and dramatic courtroom scenes. In "Tulia," Blakeslee tells how local iconoclast Gary Gardner, who became an outcast after suing the local school district over its drug testing policy, played a crucial early role, his sense of smell sharpened by his earlier run-in with the Tulia establishment and his near obsession with the mass bust providing the documentation that eventually attracted journalists, civil rights activists, and attorneys from Texas and around the nation to the cause.

Readers also meet white Tulians the Friends of Justice, whose faith-based belief in social justice impelled people like Alan Bean and Charles Kiker to risk becoming outcasts as well for demanding justice for people most of the white community believed rightfully convicted. And the lawyers, the ones who defended the early cases memorable mainly for their varying mixtures of incompetence and indifference, as well as the ones who emerge as heroes in the tale, like feisty Amarillo defense attorney Jeff Blackburn and still-wet-behind-the-ears NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer Vanita Gupta, who orchestrated a high-dollar legal onslaught the likes of which Tulia had never seen before.

Reading Blakeslee's rendition of the climactic hearings where Gupta, Blackburn and their team shred the reputations not only of Tom Coleman, but also Sheriff Larry White, who hired Coleman despite his poor history in law enforcement and lied about it in court, and District Attorney Terry McKeachern, who hid evidence of Coleman's misdeeds from defense attorneys, is as entrancing as any Grisham novel. Similarly, Blakeslee's description of Tulia victims like bald, hulking Joe Moore, the godfather of the town's black community McKeachern called a "drug kingpin," are sensitively drawn, warts and all.

With the skill of a talented journalist, Blakeslee has created a masterful portrayal of the town, the people, the narc, and a legal system that seems to epitomize the worst notions of small town justice. But he does more than that. His narrative is interrupted for one chapter in the middle of the book, but it is an invaluable break because that chapter is devoted to the larger pork-barrel politics of the drug war. Tulia narc Tom Coleman was the employee of a Texas law enforcement anti-drug task force, one of up to 45 that covered the state. As Blakeslee explains, those task forces are the creation of a federal program, the Byrne grants program, explicitly designed to generate and fund such task forces across the country. What happened in Tulia was exceptional only for its brazenness and the resulting spotlight that revealed the moral corruption and injustice at the very heart of the drug war.

Thanks in part to Blakeslee's earlier reporting, the Tulia story has a largely happy ending. The villains received their comeuppance, the victims regained their freedom (some for only awhile), and -- will wonders never cease? -- the Texas legislature was actually shamed into passing limited reform bills reining in the drug task forces. Their numbers are starting to decline now in Texas, caught as they are between increasing regulation from Austin and decreasing funding from Washington.

But "Tulia" also tells a larger tale. It is America's war on drugs writ small. The essentially injustice of America's drug war is not just in Tulia, not just in small town America, not just in Red State America. It's everywhere. "Tulia" should be required reading for every criminal justice major, ever prosecutor, every judge in the land. And it makes damn good reading, too.

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8. Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

America's prisons must be a real captive market for wannabe drug dealers -- this week yet another prison guard goes down. And then there's the case of the bad cop turned bad kiddie van driver. Let's get to it:

In Eddyville, Kentucky, prison guard Charles McGregor, 29, was arrested November 22 on charges of first-degree promoting contraband and bribery of a public servant after being caught trying to smuggle five ounces of weed into the Kentucky State Penitentiary in his shoes, the Associated Press reported. McGregor had been under investigation by internal affairs officers, and they searched him as he arrived at work after they observed him receiving a package from an inmate's family member. He faces a second contraband charge after police found a handgun in his vehicle on prison property after his arrest -- a no-no. He was booked into the Caldwell County jail.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a former Gallup police officer who spent eight years in prison after shooting his wife in 1992 has found more trouble in his new career. According to KOB-TV4, Thomas Mayes was arrested Monday for transporting 60 grams of cocaine along with the four children he was carrying in his job as a van driver for the Santa Fe Boys and Girls Club. Police turned up another 60 grams of coke and a stolen handgun when they searched his apartment. He is charged with cocaine distribution and being a felon in possession of a handgun. And while Santa Fe police told KOB-TV4 there was no evidence Mayes was giving coke to the kiddies, he has also been charged with four counts of child abuse.

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9. Law Enforcement: California Drug Task Force Must Hold Public Meetings, Court Rules

In a November 23 ruling with potential statewide repercussions, California's 2nd Appellate District Court has upheld a lower court ruling ordering Los Angeles County's LA Impact drug task force to allow public attendance at its board meetings. The decision in McKee v. LA Interagency Task Force could also be applied to the 41 other California drug task forces registered with the state attorney general's office.

In both the lower court case and the appeal, the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs' Association, which created LA Impact 14 years ago and supervises its operations today, argued that the multi-agency task forces should be shielded from public scrutiny because of the sensitive investigations they undertake.

But the appeals court found the chiefs' concerns were unfounded, citing a provision in the state's open meetings law that allow task forces to meet behind closed doors to discuss ongoing investigations. "LA Impact urges that public policy requires that its meetings not be open to the public," the court wrote. "What LA Impact ignores, however, is that not all of its meetings are required to be open to the public."

"This ruling was imperative if the public is going to know where its money is being spent," plaintiff Richard McKee told the Pasadena News after the ruling was announced. He and former Pasadena Weekly reporter Chris Bray filed the lawsuit to force LA Impact to open its books and meetings to the public. "Anytime a government agency is able to hide itself from public scrutiny we are inviting trouble," McKee said. He told the News he would ask Attorney General Bill Lockyer to notify the other drug task forces they must now comply with the open-meeting laws.

McKee and Bray first became interested in LA Impact when the drug task force announced in 2002 it wanted to expand into domestic terrorism investigations. Bray and McKee, an open-government activist, became convinced the task force came under the open-meetings law like any other government agency.

LA Impact has a budget of more than $9 million last year, most of it from asset forfeiture, the News reported.

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10. Asia: Singapore Executes Australian for Drug Smuggling

Just before dawn this morning, Singapore executed Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, despite global appeals for clemency. Nguyen was condemned death after being caught carrying 14 ounces of heroin when he transited the Singapore airport while traveling from Cambodia to Australia.

"The sentence was carried out this morning at Changi Prison," the Australian Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

About a dozen friends and family supporters dressed in black kept a vigil outside the prison. Among them was Nguyen's twin brother, Nguyen Khoa. Vigils also took place in cities around Australia, where bells and gongs sounded 25 times at the hour of his execution.

Singapore has executed more than 100 people for drug offenses since 1999.

Australian leaders pleaded for clemency for Nguyen, but Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ignored them. "We have stated our position clearly," Lee said Thursday in Berlin. "The penalty is death."

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11. Marijuana: Marijuana Crop Worth $1.5 Billion in One California County Alone, Paper Estimates

Northern California's Mendocino County has been known for marijuana growing for at least 30 years. Part of the state's legendary Emerald Triangle of high-grade pot production along with neighboring Humboldt and Trinity counties, Mendocino has long profited from the underground economy. Last week, a local newspaper, the Willits News, tried to gauge just how large the profits may be, and the result is startling.

According to the News, the local marijuana industry will add $1.5 billion to the county's economy this year. With Mendocino's legal economy estimated at about $2.3 billion, that means the pot economy is almost two-thirds as large as all other legal economic activities combined. When combining the aboveground and underground economies, the marijuana industry is responsible for roughly 40% of all Mendocino County economic activity, a figure approaching the proportions of the Afghan opium economy.

As the News is quick to acknowledge, because marijuana is an illicit commodity, no one really knows how big the industry in the county is, so the paper relied on extrapolations based on the number of plants seized and on information it acquired about current wholesale (pound level and up) marijuana prices in the area. The County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET) seized 144,000 plants this year, and District Attorney told the paper COMMET normally seized between five and eight percent of the crop, a little less than the 10% rule of thumb for estimating all drug seizures. The paper more than compensated for the lowball seizure rate by also factoring in a 20% crop loss to spoilage. Following the formula, the News estimated 1.8 million plants were sown in the county this year, with 1.32 million surviving droughts, floods, bugs, mold, and cops.

And while both the DEA and Mendocino County law enforcement like to say that one plant produces one pound, the newspaper consulted local grower "Dionysius Greenbud," who said the average yield is closer to a half pound -- a very rough estimate, given a local crop that consists of both high-yielding outdoor plants and smaller, lower-yielding indoor plants. The paper's in-the-ballpark estimate for total pot production in the county is thus some 662,000 pounds.

The paper assumed a wholesale price of $2200 a pound, based on reports from local growers, and a simple multiplication yields a total of $1.5 billion.

Is that figure out of line? It's hard to say. In last year's "Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market," Eric Schlosser quoted former DEA officials as estimating the value of all marijuana grown nationwide at $25 billion. While it is difficult to believe that one California county accounts for nearly 5% of all pot grown in the US, who is to say different?

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12. Silliness: Two Florida Grade School Girls Arrested for Fake Marijuana Prank

What is it about Florida and kids? Plagued by sex offenders seemingly attracted to the Sunshine State like ants to rotting fruit, the state has enacted sex offender laws among the toughest in the nation. Clearly, Florida will spare no effort -- no matter how punitive -- to protect its children.

But it also seems Florida law enforcement and schools are scared to death of the little darlings themselves. Last year, police in Monticello arrested, book, and detained a 4'6", 60-pound, seven-year-old boy on battery charges for hitting a classmate, a teacher, and the principal. A month after that, a scuffle between two second graders in Tallahassee ended with an eight-year-old charged, handcuffed, and held overnight in a juvenile jail for battery and criminal mischief. But even these sad tales pale in comparison to a 1998 incident, also in Tallahassee, where school officials had police arrest a five-year-old girl on felony assault on an educator charges after she refused to stay in the lunch line and threw furniture.

Police in Flagler County are the latest to make an addition to the canon of overreaction. Last week, they arrested two 10-year-old girls for bringing a bag of parsley to school and pretending it was marijuana. According to an arrest report by Flagler County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Don Apperson, a school resource deputy, the two Old Kings Elementary School students were showing the bag to other students and telling them it was marijuana. Somebody squealed, school officials found out, and the girls were called to a conference with their parents. They confessed the bag contained not pot but parsley and said they were playing a prank on their classmates.

Instead of sending them to detention or barring them from a field trip or some other appropriate sanction, Apperson charged them with a crime: Possession of a fake drug. While fake drug laws are difficult to justify on any grounds -- in a sane world, people selling fake drugs would be charged with consumer fraud and not for not selling a controlled substance -- their use in this case seems especially unjustified. Still, people can be charged under the fake drug law even if it is not intended for sale or distribution.

And in Flagler County, Florida, they will be, even if they are 10-year-old girls pulling a prank. The young criminals -- for that is what they now are -- were taken to the Flagler County Inmate Facility and later released to their parents. They were also suspended from school and ordered to attend drug awareness classes.

Now, if we could only get Cpl. Apperson and Old King Elementary School administrators into a justice awareness class.

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13. Europe: England to Drug Test Arrested Burglars and Muggers

Under new powers granted police in Britain's fight against street crime, people arrested for "acquisitive crime" now face mandatory drug tests upon arrest, according to the Home Office. Refusal to submit to testing will now become a crime in itself, punishable by fine or jail time. Until this week, persons arrested for crimes such as burglary or mugging did not face drug testing until further along in the judicial process.

Upon arrest, suspects will be swabbed for traces of cocaine or heroin in an effort to identify those committing crimes to support a drug habit. All will be assessed by counselors, and those found to be addicted will be offered drug treatment. For many, it will be an offer they can't refuse: Failure to comply with the assessment could mean they will be denied bail.

People who turn out to be innocent of a crime but who tested positive will also be offered treatment, although presumably without the coercion facing those convicted of a crime.

The British government estimates that drug-related crime costs Britain around $30 billion a year. With heroin users spending an average $100 a day to fix and binging crack users spending even more, that's an awful lot of stolen purses and TVs. The new, more aggressive drug testing approach will begin with pilot programs in high-crime areas, according to the London Observer.

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14. Latin America: Mexico Allows State, Local Cops to Join Drug War

Mexico's war on drugs has traditionally been the domain of federal police and, increasingly, the Mexican armed forces. Even street-level drug sales have been handled by the feds. That will now change, thanks to the passage of a package of bills aimed at strengthening the state's response to the powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations who have been engaged in a power struggle for the past year. As of Monday, state and local police will have the authority to enforce federal drug laws aimed at traffickers.

Other measures in the package of anti-drug bills include the use of seized drug trafficker assets to fund rewards for the capture of other traffickers and the registration of the bulletproofed cars favored by the traffickers. In a move clearly aimed at destroying the ability of imprisoned traffickers to control their enterprises from behind prison walls, the package also bans the use of cell phones within prisons.

The move to bring state and local police into the battle required a change in the Mexican constitution. That change was approved by a majority of state legislatures and by both houses of the Mexican congress and was published Monday in the government gazette, making it official.

"We are multiplying our power in an extraordinary way," said Eduardo Medina Mora, the federal secretary of public safety, in remarks reported by the Associated Press. "Local authorities will be able to pursue drug distributors and dealers. They will be able to conduct searches without a federal warrant."

The move will vastly increase the number of law enforcement personnel fighting the drug war, Mora said. There are some 20,000 federal police, but more than 380,000 state and local police in Mexico. "Now that states have powers to deal with this, we will have a much more resolute and effective combat against this issue," he said.

That may be too optimistic. Mexican drug enforcement efforts have been dogged in the past by systematic corruption, and the Mexican government has had to disband rotten federal anti-drug agencies and start anew on several occasions. The Mexican army has taken a lead role in recent years, leading observers like Dr. Luis Astorga of the National Autonomous University of Mexico's Institute for Social Investigations to warn not only of increasing political power for the military, but also the risk it will be similarly tainted by the lure of easy money.

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15. Web Scan: New "Change The Climate" Animation

"Mayhem," showing what would likely occur if the Congressional silence over marijuana legalization were lifted

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16. Weekly: This Week in History

December 2, 1993: Notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar is hunted down and killed by Colombian police making use of US technology. At his funeral days later, tens of thousands of Medellin residents come out to mourn him.

December 3, 1998: Colombian police seize about seven tons of cocaine in Cartagena, Colombia, destined for the US via Cuba.

December 5, 1933: Passage of the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution repeals federal prohibition of alcohol.

December 6, 2000: Belgium's parliament decriminalizes possession, consumption and trade in up to five grams of marijuana or hashish.

December 7, 1993: During a speech at the National Press Club, US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders says, "I do feel that we would markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized, but I don't know all the ramifications of this... I do feel that we need to do some studies. In some of the countries that have legalized drugs, they certainly have shown that there has been a reduction in their crime rate and that there has been no increase in the drug use rate."

December 7, 2001: John P. Walters is sworn in as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

December 8, 1929: Col. Levi G. Nutt, head of the Narcotics Division of the U.S. Treasury Department, declares, "I'd rather see my children up against a wall and see them shot down before my eyes than to know that any one of them was going to be a drug slave."

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17. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

December 1-3, Providence, RI, "America Incarcerated: Community and Political Impacts of the US Prison System," symposium on the impact of prisons on US society. Sponsored by Brown University SSDP, e-mail [email protected] for further information.

December 1-30, San Francisco, "Confessions of a Dope Dealer," solo performance by Sheldon Norberg. Thursday, Friday & Saturday evening performances except Christmas and New Years, at Climate Theater, 285 9th St., visit for further information.

December 3, 8:00pm-2:00am, San Francisco, CA, Savoir Faire, fundraising party with the "Hotties of Harm Reduction," benefiting the Points of Distribution, NEED and SF/NE needle exchange programs. Admission $10-$25, no one turned away for lack of funds, those giving $25 receive the "Hotties of Harm Reduction 2006" calendar. At 672 South Van Ness (near 17th), contact [email protected] for information.

December 10, 9:00am-5:00pm, Alexandria, VA, "Children Doing Time -- Children of Incarcerated Parents and in the Juvenile Justice System," Virginia C.U.R.E. Annual Conference, featuring panels on "Is the Juvenile Justice System Working?" and "Parents in Prison -- The Real Child Left Behind." At Alfred Street Baptist Church, 301 South Alfred Street, rear entrance, e-mail [email protected], call (703) 765-6549 or visit for further information.

December 15, 7:00-9:00pm, Lawrence Township, NJ, public meeting of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. At the Lawrence Township Library, room #3, Darrah Lane at Business Rt. 1, light refreshments available. For further information visit or contact Ken Wolski at (609) 394-2137 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.

January 21, 2006, 4:00pm-3:00am, Brickell, FL, "8th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert," benefit for Florida NORML hosted by Ploppy Palace Productions and Tobacco Road. At Tobacco Road, 626 South Miami Ave., admission $10, 21 years or over with ID, visit or e-mail [email protected] 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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Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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