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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #424 -- 2/24/06

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

    drug warriors attack -- at the Olympics
    Competition at the Olympic Games was overshadowed by a dramatic escalation of the war on drugs by Italian police, who raided Austria's biathlon and cross-country skiing teams late the night before they were set to compete.
    A bill in the Maryland legislature would help students who lost federal financial aid for college because of drug convictions to obtain financial assistance through state programs.
    Along with cannabis dispensaries, patient support services providers and a gift shop, Oakland's 10-year old "Oaksterdam" enterprise now has a newspaper too.
    It's two for Texas, two for Tennessee in this week's rogues' gallery, but also cops gone bad from Pennsylvania and Maryland, South Carolina and Florida.
    A unanimous US Supreme Court ruled Monday that the US branch of a Brazilian church may use a psychedelic tea containing a controlled substance as part of its religious rituals.
    The Wall Street Journal's editorial page has an impregnable reputation as a bastion of conservative thought and a long history of support for drug prohibition. But something is going on at the nation's second most widely read newspaper.
    A bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana squeaked by a state Senate subcommittee with a one-vote margin last week and is now heading for a Senate floor vote.
    For the second year in a row, an effort to push a medical marijuana bill through the New Mexico legislature has won passage in the state Senate only to stall in the House.
    A program to eradicate opium farming in Laos has been so "successful" that farmers there are now in dire need of economic assistance.
    The leading opposition party in the western Canadian province has officially called for legalization of marijuana.
    The Florida 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that police must obtain a warrant before drug-sniffing dogs are allowed to search private property.
    In what is presumably a bid to gin up publicity for his new movie, 16 Blocks, movie tough-guy Bruce Willis is talking tough about cocaine.
  13. WEB SCAN
    Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment, Perjury in Police Misconduct
    Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.
    The capital city's syringe exchange/harm reduction program is hiring a Community Liaison.
    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. Feature: The Olympics Meets the War on Drugs

The agony and the ecstasy of competition at the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, has been overshadowed by a dramatic escalation of the sporting world's war on the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or doping, as the practice is commonly known. On Saturday night and again on Monday, Olympic officials joined hands with Italian police and prosecutors to raid the quarters of the Austrian biathlon and cross-county skiing teams in raids that appeared straight out of the US drug war.

Olympic anti-doping agency
As television news cameras peered through the windows of the Alpine chalets housing the Austrians, Italian police and Olympic officials questioned athletes and submitted them to on-the-spot drug tests, searched the buildings, and seized "suspicious" medications, equipment, and hypodermic syringes that authorities said could have been used in blood doping, or boosting an athlete's red blood cell count prior to competition. Austrian skiing coach Walter Mayer, whose presence with the team after being banned for doping offenses during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics set off the raids, was resting in an Austrian psychiatric hospital this week after fleeing Italy and crashing into a police roadblock just inside the Austrian border Sunday.

While Mayer's bizarre odyssey has captured the media spotlight, it is the unprecedented involvement of police in the Olympic anti-doping effort that is raising eyebrows and concerns in the sporting world and beyond. Olympic and anti-doping officials and Italian authorities, though, were unapologetic.

"It's the first time to my knowledge that sports authorities and public authorities have acted to try to get at a doping situation," said Dick Pound, head of the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency, the international body charged with enforcing rules against the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Busting athletes in the glare of the Olympic spotlight creates "a deterrent effect out there for everybody to see."

It was WADA who noticed Mayer's presence and notified the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which in turn sicced the Italian cops on the Austrians, the IOC said in a Saturday statement. "The IOC can also confirm that it transmitted the WADA report to the Italian authorities for their information and subsequent follow-up as they deem appropriate," the group confessed.

"That Mayer was in the same area as the athletes created quite some concern for us," the IOC's medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist told reporters. Holding up an official postcard featuring a photograph of the Austrian biathlon team which included Mayer, Ljungqvist said: "This is reason enough to act."

"The IOC has always been clear in saying that fighting doping in sports is for the sports authorities, and at the Games for the IOC. But a wider collaborative approach between the world of sports and the world of governments clearly gives a stronger result," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies elaborated.

"Clearly, an intervention like this can inevitably cause a bit of disturbance, but we are using the least-invasive methods possible," Turin chief prosecutor Marcello Maddalena told reporters with a straight face. "The intervention of the judicial authorities is necessary because sports authorities are not self-sufficient."

Despite some IOC reluctance to claim credit for the raid, Italian police said the organization had been fully aware of what was going on. "The operation took place in full cooperation with the IOC, which at the same time tested several athletes for doping. This was done with maximum discretion and without any inconvenience," police said in a statement.

That the winter Olympic games are taking place in Italy only made the resort to local criminal justice authorities more likely. The conservative government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has signaled a hard line on drug-taking in any context. Last month, it passed a bill that would erase a decade-old distinction between "soft" and "hard" drugs and increase prison sentences for drug offenders. The drug measure was passed as part of an Olympic security bill. Italian authorities had also loudly warned that Olympic doping violations could and would be treated as criminal offenses under Italian law.

Still, concern and unhappiness over treating star athletes like common criminals was rising. The Austrians, naturally, were especially upset. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel conceded that Mayer should have stayed home, but lashed out at the Italians.

"It was not right for the carbinieri [Italian police] to come in the night before a competition and pull young athletes out of bed like criminals and interrogate them for five hours," he said.

Austrian State Secretary for Sports Karl Schweitzer agreed. "The whole thing was badly handled. Our athletes were treated like serious criminals," he told Reuters in Vienna.

Austrian skiers, whose cross-country effort crashed and burned the day after the Saturday night raids, were bitter and demoralized. "I didn't get to race," said team member Johannes Eder. "With 20 policemen standing in your bedroom in the middle of the night, how can you compete?" Eder told Reuters as he walked away from the course.

"The mood is shit. Everybody's feeling down because of yesterday," Austrian ski federation spokesman Erich Wagner said before the race which was won by an Italian quartet.

But concern wasn't limited to the aggrieved Austrians. "This has been greeted as some sort of important breakthrough in the so-called war on drugs," said Ellis Cashmore, professor of culture, media, and sport at the University of Staffordshire in England and a well-known critic of the call for ever tighter controls on doping. "But for me, it's a massive case of overkill and what you might call 'the criminalization of sport.' If this sort of thing continues," he told DRCNet, "it could spell the end of sport as we know it."

"I have real mixed feelings about this," said University of Texas doping expert John Hoberman, author of last year's "Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping," among other works on the subject. "I have a history of opposing doping in sports, but for the 21 years of Juan Samaranch's reign at the IOC, the anti-doping was basically for show. It was ineffective and sabotaged from within by numerous sports officials in charge of federations. Some were dishonest and others were basically in office to enjoy the perks that accompanied their posts."

Things changed in the aftermath of the 1998 Tour de France scandal, where the Festina team was kicked off the tour after customs officials at the France-Belgium border discovered banned substances in one of the team's support cars. The US sporting establishment has also shown heightened concern over doping in the aftermath of the BALCO scandal, where the laboratory was cooking up new, undetectable performance-enhancers for star athletes.

The Tour de France scandal was a turning point in the approach of global athletics to doping, said Hoberman. "That led to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2000, and it initiated a new, more serious era of doping control. If you care about doping, the aggressive tactics of the last few years have to be seen in relation to the many years of ineffectual enforcement that came before."

But those aggressive tactics have grated on athletes, Hoberman said. "They've been putting people in disguise, springing urine sample cups on athletes, and in Italy in particular, the cops have done raid after raid in cycling. The athletes are always upset when the cops come and search their rooms. What the raids this week in Turin did was bring Italian anti-doping tactics straight out of the cycling world to the world of Olympic sports," he told DRCNet.

"Clearly, the negative side to this is bringing the war on drugs into the sporting world in a new kind of way," said Hoberman. "I have big problems with the way the American war on drugs, sponsored mainly by the Republican Party ever since Nixon, is carried out. There is a mindlessness and cruelty to the drug war that ought to be opposed, so when I see something similar to drug war zealotry infused into what is in theory a defensible anti-doping project, I worry that this will be taken too far by some people," Hoberman said.

That is a concern highlighted by Cashmore, who argues that law enforcement should have no role in sports doping. "Since when should the police be involved in what are, after all, sports issues?" Cashmore asked. "The Italian law permits this and even calls for two-year prison sentences. What kind of sporting world is it where people can get locked up for seeking a competitive edge? Why not lock them up for wearing contact lenses in shooting competitions or getting hypnotherapy to deal with the stress associated with competition?"

That view won support from some people not usually concerned with Olympic affairs, the European NGO Coalition for a Just and Effective Drug Policy. "It is interesting to see this little corner of the war on drugs. This is the only time TV viewers from around the world can simultaneously witness the absurdity of this war," said ENCOD's Joep Oomen. "Hardly anyone doubts that many athletes are using 'something,' so it seems a matter of luck that someone is caught. These sports federations should take responsibility and find a humane system of regulating this. At least now athletes will realize that without ending this war on drugs, they will remain potential victims of both the pharmaceutical industries and the legal authorities."

While Olympic sports is usually not center-stage on ENCOD's agenda, the Turin incident raises concerns, said Oomen. "This is an example of the logic of drug prohibition," he said. "If you stopped prohibiting drugs in sports, you could create a system of regulation for athletes that would allow them to use them in a controlled way, with an emphasis on the prevention of health risks. People would then dope openly, which would probably demystify many sports heroes, but if would reduce the harm."

Ideas like that run up against notions of cheating and fairness in competition and distaste for artificially-enhanced athletic achievement, but Cashmore said perhaps people should think again. The distinction between doping and other forms of preparing for competition is artificial, he suggested.

"Let's say four teams of long distance skiers want a competitive edge," Cashmore explained. "Austria opts for blood doping to pump up the desired oxygen-carrying blood cells. Finland achieves much the same result, but by training at altitude. Germany also trains at altitude in, say, Kenya, last year, extracts the enriched blood from its athletes then transfuses their own blood back prior to the games. Denmark instructs its athletes to sleep in hypobaric chambers. All achieve the same results via different methods. Under current rules, Austria and Germany are cheating. How come? This is not logically consistent; it is arbitrary and hypocritical," argued Cashmore, the author of the text "Making Sense of Sports."

"If it's the safety of athletes we are looking out for, we shouldn't let them compete at all," Cashmore continued. "Skiing and snowboarding claim about 40 victims -- yes, actual deaths -- per year. Ski aerial is also punishing, accounting for broken limbs, spinal and head injuries. And I won't even get into bobsled. The point is, any harm resulting from doping is unknown but certainly nothing compared with the injuries from competition itself."

An open, regulated system allowing doping may be a better solution, Cashmore suggested. "A safer option is to allow athletes across the whole spectrum of sports to use whatever method they want, but ask them to declare it. This way, governing organizations could collate, monitor, research and, of course, advise. This strikes me as more congruent with reality and more consistent with the pragmatic ideals of sports in the 21st century, where winning has supplanted competing."

While Hoberman expressed concern about how far anti-doping efforts might go, he wasn't ready to see doping regulated rather than prohibited. "These people are cheating, and that's dishonorable, but there is an issue of proportionality," Hoberman said. "The IOC and, more importantly, all these dozens of sports federations will have to decide whether they want to treat doping athletes as criminals. There are only a couple of countries that have literally criminalized athletic doping; Italy and France are the main ones," he pointed out.

"I don't favor quitting the anti-doping effort," Hoberman continued. "It's not a point of view I respect," he said, in an argument that in some ways parallels arguments offered against ending drug prohibition itself. "Still, there are appropriate limits to the enforcement of anti-doping rules, there are issues of privacy and the creation of a whole new class of criminals. The people who are zealous about policing and even criminalizing the doping athlete are doing this in the name of traditional sports, but you have to ask whether such zealousness will do more harm than good to elite sports culture."

No matter how tough a crackdown may emerge, it won't stop doping, said Hoberman. "This is one of the contradictions of elite sports. On the one hand it tries to preserve traditional norms, while on the other it refuses to give up the ideal of high performance and breaking records. Doping athletes do it because they see the benefits as being worth the risk, and this won't stop no matter how many athletes you surveil or arrest. This is not a matter of just a few rotten apples."

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2. Feature: Maryland Delegate Introduces Bill to Ease State Aid for Students Affected by Federal Drug Provision

Maryland Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery County) has introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly designed to make it easier for students who lost federal financial under the Higher Education Act's (HEA) drug provision to obtain financial assistance through state programs. According to a recent report from DRCNet and the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, or CHEAR, Maryland is one of 35 states where at least some college students are being denied state financial aid, 28 of which have no law on their books explicitly prohibiting it. The state's largest institution of higher learning, the University of Maryland, is among those denying students disqualified under federal law from receiving state financial assistance.

Under the HEA's drug provision, sponsored by arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), students with drug convictions lose financial aid -- grants, loans, even access to work-study programs -- for specified periods. According to the US Department of Education, more than 180,000 have been barred under the provision since it went into effect in summer 2000.

University of Maryland
Critics say the law is flawed because it punishes students a second time who have already been punished once by the criminal justice system; deters students from seeking to better their life prospects through education; singles out drug offenses among all crimes for additional punishment; and has a discriminatory impact, disproportionately affecting poor and minority students. In the face of criticism of the law he authored, Rep. Souder claimed the law was not intended to apply to people whose offenses took place before they entered school -- despite no language in the legislation suggesting that was not his intention -- and late last month a partial "fix" to the law was finally passed, limiting its application only to students who committed drug offenses while in school and receiving federal Title IV aid.

According to CHEAR's report, while only seven states have laws barring drug offenders from receiving state financial aid, in another 28 states, statewide policy achieves the same affect. In 15 states and the District of Columbia, there are no state-mandated obstacles to drug offenders receiving state financial aid, while Maryland and 10 other states inhabit a middle ground where the decision about whether to grant aid resides with individual colleges and universities.

Neither the Maryland Higher Education Commission nor the University of Maryland student financial aid office returned repeated calls for clarification this week.

Maryland House Bill 1310, which already has 27 cosponsors, would bar the Maryland Higher Education Commission's Office of Student Financial Assistance from refusing to accept an application for state assistance if the student's federal financial aid application was denied "because the requirements for federal student aid are more restrictive than the statutory requirements for state student financial assistance," according to the bill summary.

"Minor procedural changes at the Commission or the university itself would correct this problem and restore financial aid to people affected by the HEA drug provision," said DRCNet executive director David Borden, a report coauthor. "For that matter, they don't need to wait for the bill to pass, since there are no laws on the books telling them to take the aid away now."

The legislative strategy adopted in the bill -- not mentioning the word "drug" -- was one of two possible approaches recommended in the CHEAR report, explained Borden. "A legislature can say that people affected by the federal HEA drug provision shouldn't be denied state financial aid because of it," he said. "Or a legislature can just say that its state's education agency and schools may not deny financial aid as an indirect effect of federal policies that don't have analogues in state law. Maryland doesn't have a drug provision in its statutes that authorize higher education programs, so the language in House Bill 1310 would have the effect of requiring the bureaucracies to find a way to get state aid to these people if they are eligible financially."

It was a University of Maryland student activist, Jonathan Sherwin, who brought the idea to Gutierrez's attention. Sherwin, a legislative intern in Gutierrez's office who had been active with UMD's Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter, took the opportunity to raise the issue. "This is a bill idea I worked on in college and I thought it was good policy for students to be able to receive financial aid, so I told her about it. She liked it and had me write up a draft, which we sent to the legislative policy department for final touches, and now here we are."

"We hooked up with Jonathan and Gutierrez' office while we were doing research for the report," said DRCNet associate director David Guard. "The report will just solidify the effort to get it through the legislature." Borden elaborated on that idea: "Legislators like to see that there are other states doing this and that they are not going to be all alone doing something that could be mis-portrayed as 'soft on drugs.' The report shows that nearly a third of all states already are providing state financial aid irrespective of drug convictions."

CHEAR and DRCNet are working with Gutierrez' office to prepare for hearings, Guard said. "They've asked us to find student victims of the current policy and help bring together experts to testify, and we're working on that. The great thing about this is that we have this coalition and most groups have offices right here in DC and it should be easy for people from these national groups to just pop over to Annapolis," he said. "We're prepared for this. We've been working on this issue for years, we've got the professionals, the academics, the doctors, the policy wonks."

The bill has been an easy sale so far, said Sherwin, when asked how it had picked up 27 cosponsors. "We just walked around to the offices, and a lot of people were sympathetic," he said.

Introducing a bill is one thing. A bill to reverse Rhode Island state policies barring aid to students with drug convictions was introduced last year, but went nowhere, though advocates are hopeful for its chances the second time around. Even with a couple of dozen cosponsors, prospects for the Maryland bill are uncertain. "I have no idea if we can push it through this year," said Sherwin. "We don't have a hearing date set yet."

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3. Feature: From the East Bay, the Cannabis Culture Speaks

San Francisco has long beckoned cannabis-lovers with its reputation as a wide-open, tolerant city that is the birthplace of the modern medical marijuana movement, but just across the Bay Bridge in Oakland, local activists are helping that city stake its own claim to cannabis-friendliness. Along with dispensaries, patient support services providers and a gift shop, Oakland's 10-year old "Oaksterdam" enterprise now has a newspaper too.

Oaksterdam, a block or so in downtown Oakland where cannabis clubs once feverishly competed, has been reduced somewhat by government exertions of regulatory control, but overall continues to flourish. Standing at a certain corner there and facing a certain angle, one can look through a gap in the nearby buildings to glimpse Oakland's City Hall and Plaza. Oaksterdam cognoscenti are hopeful that that 27-year former Congressman Ron Dellums, a past NORML advisory board member and leading contender in the city's upcoming mayoral election, will win the race and take a friendlier stance toward them.

Oaksterdam tent, San Francisco Cannabis Day 2005
(by Tim Castleman, courtesy SF Bay Area IndyMedia)
Oakland's highly liberal marijuana laws would help him do so. In November 2004, city voters used Measure Z to tell municipal government in no uncertain terms they wanted marijuana to be the lowest law enforcement priority. A handful of private "adult consumption" clubs are operating quietly in the city. And now, the East Bay's thriving cannabis culture has its own voice, The Oaksterdam News.

Actually, the News is coming up on its first birthday, and it has already come a long way. Published by Oakland cannabis café empresario Richard Lee, owner of the Bulldog coffee shop and the SR-71 medical marijuana dispensary, with cannabis activist and expert Chris Conrad playing a key role, the newspaper has seen its circulation jump from 5,000 copies for its first issue in March 2005 to 40,000 for the current issue and somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 for the next. Formerly published out of managing editor Jaime Galindo's home, the News is days away from moving into its own dedicated office space.

"The newspaper was pretty much my baby," said publisher Richard Lee. "It goes with a long-term vision for Oaksterdam, and in a way we are trying to mimic Amsterdam. One of the things they have there were information outlets that advertising paid for. It's a sort of trade publication for the cannabis tourists that was full of information. We want to do that here, but as a serious news organ, too."

"We're looking at this as a way of giving a voice to people who are engaged in activism but are shut out of the corporate media," said Conrad. "The corporate media doesn't reflect the reality we see around us. We are trying to create a vital corridor of communication to present the cannabis consuming community in more honest terms. We're trying to break the stereotypes and the trivialization of cannabis consumers and give America a reality check."

Although he is probably best known for his work as a cannabis expert, editing the Oaksterdam News is nothing new for Conrad, who majored in journalism as a California undergrad, edited campus newspapers, and worked on community newspapers earlier in life. "This is just an extension of my career," he said. Conrad's credits also include co-authorship of the drug war horror stories book "Shattered Lives."

Part of the paper's growing appeal is its inclination for covering cannabis news straight -- without brash editorializing and without allowing its editorial positions to seep too heavily into its news coverage. Instead, the reporting is straightforward, similar to that of established press outlets, but without the stereotypical portraits of pot people and the tendency, apparently irresistible for mainstream reporters, to make silly, pot-related puns. Stories in the most recent issue range from the local ("Mayoral Candidate Nancy Nadel Supports Measure Z Adult Use Clubs") to the regional ("San Francisco Permits Cannabis Outlets") to the state-wide ("Measure Z-Style Reforms Set to Blossom Around State"), the national ("Denver Votes to Legalize Cannabis Use Within City Limits"), and even the international ("Cocalero Wins in Bolivia").

The Oaksterdam News is also in many ways a community newspaper. As such, it features booster-style information about Oaksterdam, event listings, and the like, as well as advertising from the area's many medical marijuana dispensaries. But its boosterism isn't limited by the Oakland city limits or even the US border; the most recent issue also features a map guide to Vansterdam, the cannabis-friendly neighborhoods and businesses of Vancouver.

It is probably safe to say that it takes a certain kind of community to make such a venture possible. The San Francisco Bay area, with its twin legacies of countercultural ferment and left-leaning dissent, is a natural cauldron for innovative activism. The East Bay, with intellectual Berkeley and tough-eyed Oakland, brings its own special essence to Bay area cannabis culture.

"There's still a lot of the spirit of the '60s here in the East Bay," said Conrad. "We've had civic and activist leaders who are really visionary and are not just looking at the problem, but at what we are working toward. In the East Bay, you have a lot of people who are not happy with the world as it is and who understand it is up to us to change it."

While the Oakland approach has been radical, it has been radical with a difference. "In San Francisco, you had sort of a Wild West free-for-all approach with Dennis Peron, but in Oakland we ended up with Jeff Jones," Conrad said, referring to the suit-and-tie, by-the-book, work-with-authorities efforts of Jones and his pioneering Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Co-op. "This whole idea that we have the support of local political leadership and they recognize us as an important part of their political base is in some ways an outgrowth of that approach, and it has created a situation where we can actually propose ideas and see them implemented at a level far beyond what we could hope for in most other parts of the country."

"There's a long history of political activism here, from the Black Panthers marching with their rifles through the antiwar protests and beyond," agreed Lee. "Oakland is also a center of cannabis reform; this is where Jeff Jones opened the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Co-op. Jeff and I try to complement each other. He's a healthy guy who works with sick people, and I'm a sick guy who works with healthy people," said the wheelchair-bound Lee.

"It is individuals within the Oakland culture," said News managing editor Jaime Galindo. "It takes both guys like Richard and people like those running the dispensaries and the community they serve. While Oakland is producing a new breed of more unified marijuana and medical marijuana activists, what matters is less where it's being done than who is doing it. Oakland just happened to be the place where it all comes together, and of course part of that is because of the progressive nature of the city."

Part of the News' mission is to push Oakland's city council to interpret Measure Z broadly, but that is a continuing battle. The city dragged its feet for more than a year before appointing a Measure Z oversight committee, and the city council recently interpreted the measure as making marijuana offenses the lowest priority only in residential areas.

"When we were gathering signatures for Measure Z, people would tell us what they wanted was to get the dealing off the street and to save money, but the city council has managed to slow that down," said Lee. "We are getting the private adult use clubs quietly open, and we will keep pushing."

Lee and company are eyeing broader horizons, too. "We have Measure Z-style initiatives going in West Hollywood, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica for the November ballot this year, and there may be a few more cities. There are some small cities where the Greens hold a majority, and legalization is part of their platform," Lee said. "That will leave us in a good position for a 2008 statewide initiative."

In the meantime, that leaves Conrad, Lee, and Galindo busy with running a newspaper -- and changing their world. "We distribute the News at events, too, and people from all over the country and the world are blown away when they see it," said Conrad. "We're not some artsy rag; we're a newspaper with straightforward presentation and good, solid reporting. When people read the News, they understand they're getting the solid reporting on our issues that the corporate media tends to avoid. We're providing a window into the community, and many who are looking through that window are community members themselves. To the degree that we are a new form of media, this is not just about a movement or a culture, but about a major social change going on right now."

"We're in just about every dispensary in the state," said Galindo, who handles the newspaper's business affairs. "We're also now distributing in Canada, and we're sending it out to all the national NORML chapters. We're about to come out with newsracks for businesses, and we hope to broaden our distribution in independently owned businesses -- stores, coffee shops, music stores, entertainment venues and the like," he explained.

"We're getting pretty close to break even," said Lee. "We have been coming out as a quarterly, but sales have been so brisk we may try to squeeze in five issues this year and go bi-monthly next year. Our ads are doubling every issue, the print run keeps increasing, and we're adding more pages, too."

Now the Oaksterdam News is having to deal with the issues that come with success. "We've been very successful so far," said Conrad. "The question we have to ponder now is whether we can make the leap from an all-volunteer effort to actually paying people for their time."

Many of those who have tried their hand at independent publishing can only envy the Oaksterdam News the problems it faces. Whether the paper can take it to the next level will be a key indicator not only of the paper's journalistic and business acumen but also of the maturity of the cannabis culture.

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

It's two for Texas, two for Tennessee in this week's rogues' gallery, but also cops gone bad from Pennsylvania and Maryland, South Carolina and Florida. Some have only been arrested or indicted, not convicted, and deserve the presumption of innocence. Some are on their way to prison. All of them are victims not only of their own characters but also of a system of drug prohibition that generates endless opportunity and enticement for the ethically impaired. Let's get to it:

In Baltimore, three members of Southwestern Police District "flex squad" were indicted February 17 on charges they conspired to rape a 22-year-old woman at the station house.

A Baltimore City Grand Jury indicted Jemini Jones, 28, Brian Shaffer, 31 and Steven Hatley, 27, over a January incident where the woman was arrested, but released and given marijuana after agreeing to have sex with Jones as Hatley and Shaffer stood by. The latter pair are being charged for not stopping the assault. The incident led to a search of the "flex squad's" quarters at the station house where investigators found stolen property, drugs, and unregistered weapons. There is more to come on this case.

In Nashville, hot-shot veteran vice officer Clark Williams III was indicted last month on federal charges of handcuffing a suspected drug dealer and stealing more than a pound of cocaine at gunpoint, the Nashville Tennessean reported. According to the indictment, Williams, 37, "did unlawfully draw his Metro Nashville Police Department service weapon and handcuff an individual involved in cocaine trafficking in furtherance of a plan to rob over 500 grams of cocaine from said individual." Williams was a well-respected narcotics officer who got a letter of commendation from then FBI Director Thomas Pickard in 2001 for his role in busting members of the Mexican Arellano Felix drug trafficking organization. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

In Dyersburg, Tennessee, a prison guard at the Northeast Correctional Center in Tiptonville was arrested February 16 and charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell, WMC TV-5 reported. Corrections officer Santressa Cole was charged along with three others after an investigation involving 20 (!) undercover officers in what local police called the largest drug bust in city history. Agents made a buy of 18 ounces of crack valued at $14,000, and seized drugs, a pistol, several cars, and $1,000 in cash. Cole was immediately fired from her job, although prison officials said they had no evidence she was peddling rocks at work.

In San Antonio, a 10-year veteran of the San Antonio Police Department was arrested February 17 on marijuana possession charges after raiding the home he shared with his girlfriend, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Joseph Evans, 42, went down after his girlfriend, Katherine Sanchez, was pulled over in a traffic stop and police found drugs. She then consented to a search of their home, and police found marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription drugs, much of it packaged for resale in small baggies. While neither Evans nor Sanchez are charged with drug trafficking at this point, a Bexar County District Attorneys Office investigation is continuing. Evans made $800 bail the next day, but Sanchez remains jailed on heavier narcotics possession charges.

In Texarkana, Texas, a 14-year police department veteran is on paid leave on suspicion he conspired to have his wife killed and is involved in drug dealing, the Texarkana Police Department announced February 17. Officer Randy Case "may have conspired to have his wife killed and may have conspired to manufacture and distribute methamphetamines," the department said, citing information it received from the FBI. Although Case has actually been on leave since the FBI notified Texarkana police of the investigation in December, the department made no announcement until now.

In Florence, South Carolina, a former Lake City police officer was sentenced to at least 13 years in federal prison February 16 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. William Webb, 41, was arrested a year ago as part of a joint state and federal investigation into corruption and drug dealing in Florence and Williamsburg counties. He was a lieutenant with the Lake City department, but according to investigators, had spent the last decade taking payoffs from drug dealers. He was also accused of selling cocaine from his patrol cruiser, the Associated Press reported.

In Gainesville, Florida, former Polk County sheriff's deputy Roderick Stevenson, 39, will have to stick with his plea bargain after all. Stevenson was arrested in February 2004 after being indicted by a Florida grand jury in a yearlong investigation of corruption in northern Florida. He was accused of taking bribes to provide protection for a drug-dealing ring that stretched from Gainesville to Miami and pled guilty last August to conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine. Three months later, Stevenson reconsidered, and filed a motion to withdraw his plea, charging prosecutors reneged on an offer to recommend a reduced sentence for ratting out other officers. That motion was denied February 16. He will be sentenced March 3.

In Scranton, Pennsylvania, a Jessup police officer was charged February 18 with stealing a gun and marijuana from the department evidence room. Robert Santarelli, 36, was arrested by state police on multiple charges after a break-in on January 25 or 26 where an ounce of pot, a rifle, and three syringes were taken, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported. He is charged with burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and could face up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. He was released from the Lackawanna County Jail the next day on $50,000 bond. The 10-year veteran has been suspended without pay.

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5. Ayahuasca: Supreme Court Okays Use of Psychedelic Tea in Church Rituals

A unanimous US Supreme Court ruled Monday that the US branch of a Brazilian church may use a psychedelic tea containing a controlled substance as part of its religious rituals. The ruling, the first decision on religious freedom under the court of Chief Justice John Roberts, was a strong signal the court will move decisively to keep the government from interfering in a church's religious practices even when the government invokes the Controlled Substances Act.

Jurema rootbark, a component of ayahuasca tea
courtesy Erowid
Ayahuasca, a tea made of two Amazonian plants, contains DMT, a hallucinogen banned as a Schedule I drug under the act. Members of the church, which has tens of thousands of adherents in Brazil, believe drinking the tea helps them comprehend God. It is used in ritual ceremonies lasting four hours.

The ruling came in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, whose branch in New Mexico sued the federal government after Customs inspectors seized a shipment of the Amazonian concoction and threatened to prosecute members under federal drug laws. The Union of the Vegetable, as the name translates in English, argued that its practices were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it won both in US district court and in the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeal. The Bush administration Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court.

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed by Congress in part to protect peyote use by members of the Native American Church, the government must show a "compelling government interest" in restricting religious freedom and use "the least restrictive means" of furthering that interest. The federal government failed that test, wrote Justice Roberts.

"The government failed to demonstrate... a compelling interest in barring the UDV's sacramental use of hoasca," he found. Even though the government claimed a compelling interest in the uniform enforcement of the drug laws, Roberts added, its claim that no exceptions could possibly be made was too weak to trump the RFRA. Neither did the court find compelling the government's arguments that it was bound by international law to ban the substance, noting that the government presented as evidence only two State Department officials who said generally the US should obey international law.

"The Supreme Court's sad track record of carving out a 'drug exception to the Bill Of Rights' has narrowed freedoms for all Americans. Thank God the Court has at last decided that there are exceptions to that exception," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "The government's attempt to deprive church members ayahuasca in the name of the war on drugs is like denying Catholics wine at communion to combat drunk driving," said Nadelmann in a statement issued Tuesday.

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6. Prohibition: The Wall Street Journal Wavers

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page has an impregnable reputation as a bastion of conservative thought and a long history of support for drug prohibition. But something is going on at the nation's second most widely read newspaper. In a signed editorial Tuesday by deputy editor for international affairs George Melloan, the Journal came out swinging at the drug war and its failures.

Just to increase the comfort factor, Melloan began by name-checking conservative icons economist Milton Friedman and big word user William F. Buckley Jr., both of whom have strongly criticized drug prohibition before wading into what, for readers of the Chronicle, will be a familiar litany of drug war failures and unforeseen consequences.

"The drug war has become costly," Melloan complained. "Civil rights sometimes are infringed." Interdiction "isn't working," and may even be pushing Latin American peasants into the arms of Journal bogeymen Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. "Mexico is being destabilized" and prohibition is aiding Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Melloan continued.

Prohibition contradicts the dogma of the free market, Melloan argued, citing Friedman. Thwarting supply only drives up prices, making the trade immensely profitable and difficult to kill. "The more the US spends on interdiction, the more incentive it creates for taking the risk of running drugs," he noted.

Alcohol Prohibition "left a legacy of corruption, criminality, and death," and no one would consider reinstating it, Melloan wrote. "Yet prohibition is still being attempted, at great expense, for the small portion of the population -- perhaps little more than 5% -- who habitually use proscribed drugs."

Instead, Melloan implied, we might to better to deal with the problems of drug use as we do with those related to alcohol. "Society copes by punishing drunken misbehavior, offering rehabilitation programs and warning youths of the dangers. Most Americans drink moderately, however, creating no problems either for themselves or society," he noted.

Given the damage from prohibition, Melloan wrote, the question must be asked: "Do you favor legalization or decriminalization of the sale and use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines?" Most Americans will probably still say no because of fears of damaging the fabric of society, he conceded before ending with another question: "Is that fabric being damaged now?"

The times they are a changing...

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7. Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Moving, Passes Senate Committee

A bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana squeaked by a state Senate subcommittee with a one-vote margin last week and is now heading for a Senate floor vote, probably next week. The last day to move Senate bills is next Friday.

The medical marijuana bill, SB 2568, passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a 6-5 vote despite hearing testimony against it from law enforcement and drug abuse prevention groups. That testimony was countered by medical marijuana patients such as Julie Falco, a Chicago resident and multiple sclerosis sufferer, and by the bill's endorsement by groups such as the Illinois State Nurses Assocation.

The vote came as the group Illinois Drug Education and Legislative Reform released a poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project and conducted by Anzalone-Liszt Research found 62% of Illinoisans supported legislation "that would allow people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other serious illnesses to use and grow their own marijuana for medical purposes, as long as their physician approves." Only 28% were opposed, with 10% undecided.

SB 2568 would do just that. It would set up a registry system where anyone diagnosed by a physician as suffering from a debilitating disease or medical condition would be allowed to possess up to 12 marijuana plants and 2 ½ ounces of usable pot.

The Senate committee vote "is a major step forward," said Christopher Fichtner, MD, former director of mental health for the Illinois Department of Human Services. "The evidence that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for some very ill patients has been repeatedly verified by government commissions in the US, Canada, Britain and elsewhere. This is a sensible, well-crafted bill that deserves quick passage," said Fichtner, a medical consultant to IDEAL Reform who testified before the committee.

The Marijuana Policy Project suggested Illinois legislators would be wise to vote for the bill. "Since the passage of Rhode Island's medical marijuana law in January, we are seeing tremendous momentum," said Adam Horowitz, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, DC. "This new Illinois poll reflects what we are seeing nationwide, and legislators are learning how hugely popular medical marijuana legislation is."

If the bill becomes law, Illinois would become the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana. The others are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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8. Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Dies in House as Time Runs Out

For the second year in a row, an effort to push a medical marijuana bill through the New Mexico legislature has won passage in the state Senate only to die in the House. SB 258, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, supported by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, was only one of a number of Richardson-backed bills that fell victim to Republican filibusters on the last day of the session last Thursday.

After moving swiftly through the Senate, the bill was sent to purgatory by House Speaker Ben Lujan (D-Albuquerque). Instead of sending it to a committee that would be logical, such as judiciary or public health, Lujan detoured the bill into the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, a committee which had never heard it and was known to be hostile to it. Despite passionate testimony from patients and advocates, that committee voted 4-3 to kill the bill.

Last minute efforts by bill supporters finally persuaded Speaker Lujan to pull the bill from the agriculture committee and pass it on to the House Judiciary Committee, but Lujan did not act until 3:45am on Tuesday, the last day of the session. Then, for reasons largely unrelated to medical marijuana, the legislature's Republican minority led filibusters in both houses. On the House side, Rep. Justine Fox (R-Albuquerque) filibustered for most of the last hour of the session, and then the clock ran out.

"It's heartbreaking that one or two members of the House could prevent this bill from getting an up-or-down vote. This legislation deserves a House floor vote, and I hope that next time we'll get it," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, which led the fight for the bill.

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9. Southeast Asia: Drug War Success Means Poverty for Laotian Farmers

A program to eradicate opium farming in Laos has been so successful that farmers there are in dire need of economic assistance, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported last week. Laos was the world's third-largest opium producer in the mid-1990s, but production has dropped 93% since then thanks to the cooperation of the Laotian government, the UNODC said.

Land-locked Laos is one of the world's poorest countries with an average per capita income of less than $6 a day. As part of the legendary Southeast Asian Golden Triangle of opium, Laos and its peasant farmers benefited financially from the opium trade. Now that source of income has largely vanished, and farmers are hurting, UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa acknowledged.

"The progress that Laos has made is quite dramatic," Costa said. But those who have seen their livelihoods destroyed by eradication should be compensated, he said. "We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the poorest of the poor are not the ones who pay the price for successes in drug control." The country is at a "critical juncture" if it is to stay essentially poppy-free, Costa added.

anti-opium posters, Nejat Center, Kabul, Afghanistan
Opium production in the Golden Triangle (parts of Thailand, Laos, and Burma, or Myanmar) has declined 78% in the past decade, with Thailand declared opium free in 1993 and Laotian cultivation declining to 4,500 acres last year compared to more than 60,000 acres in 1998.

But the price of freedom from poppies is eternal vigilance, said Costa. "Even some 10 years after Thailand and Vietnam officially eliminated opium, they still have to eradicate many hectares of opium poppy every year."

Meanwhile, the peasant farmers and drug traffickers of Afghanistan have taken up the burden of supplying the world's junkies with their fixes. That war-torn country now accounts for nearly 90% of world supply, which is at record levels despite the dramatic reductions in the Golden Triangle.

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10. Canada: British Columbia's New Democrats Say Legalize It

The New Democratic Party of British Columbia has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana. The BC New Democrats are the leading opposition party in the province, holding 33 of the 79 seats in the provincial legislative assembly. The governing party, the BC Liberals, hold the remaining 46 seats.

The endorsement came Sunday, when the BC NDP's provincial council passed a resolution pushed by Dana Larsen, a former editor of Cannabis Culture magazine in Vancouver who now heads the NDP's anti-prohibitionist wing. Larsen is calling on NDP activists in other provinces to use the BC resolution as a model to win similar support from other provincial NDP parties. While the national NDP under Jack Layton has adopted a progressive drug policy platform, the independent provincial parties have not been as forward-looking.

Once Larsen was able to navigate the provincial party process and actually get the resolution discussed, passage came easily, he reported. "It wasn't easy getting this debated and voted on at the council meeting, but once we got it to a vote it passed with about 85-90% support," he wrote.

The BC NDP council also passed a resolution calling for harm reduction, the expansion of the Vancouver safe injection site program, and the creation of "safe inhalation" sites for crack and heroin smokers. This puts the provincial party squarely at odds with the national Conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper, who has said he does not think federal funds should be spent for such programs.

The resolution on marijuana reads as follows: "Be it resolved that the BC NDP formally establish an explicit cannabis policy based upon a non-punitive, regulatory approach, including support for a legal supply of cannabis, elimination of all penalties for personal cultivation and possession, and amnesty for past cannabis possession convictions."

This means that the BC NDP must now develop a provincial policy statement explaining how a legal supply of cannabis in the province could be created and regulated. It also commits the BC NDP to lobbying the federal government to eliminate all penalties for personal cultivation and consumption and to enact an amnesty for past marijuana possession convictions.

The move only further cements British Columbia's reputation as a pot-friendly province and Vancouver as a mecca for marijuana pilgrims. The province is already Canada's largest marijuana producer, with an annual crop estimated at somewhere around $5 billion.

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11. Search and Seizure: Florida Appeals Court Restricts Warrantless Drug Dog Searches

The Florida 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach has ruled that police must obtain a warrant before drug-sniffing dogs are allowed to search private property. In a February 15 opinion in the case of a Hollywood man charged with drug offenses after police without a warrant used a drug dog to sniff his front door, the appeals court refused to overturn a lower court ruling that found the warrantless search unconstitutional.

Rockland County, Missouri,
drug dog demonstration
In April 2002, police received an anonymous tip that James Rabb was growing marijuana in his home. They surveilled his home, then followed him when he drove away in his car and pulled him over on a pretext (improper lane change, going 40 in a 55 mph zone), finding a joint and two books and a video about marijuana cultivation in his car. When Rabb exercised his 5th Amendment right to silence, police arrested him for marijuana possession and returned to his home. They brought in a drug dog, who sniffed at the front door and alerted, signaling the presence of marijuana. Police then used the drug dog alert as well as the seized joint and grow literature as the basis for a search warrant that uncovered marijuana under cultivation.

At trial, Rabb and his attorney, Charles Wender, argued that the evidence from the home search should be thrown out because police had violated Rabb's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes agreed, throwing out the evidence.

"It would have opened the door to terrible civil liberties violations," Wender told the Miami Herald.

The state appealed, citing the US Supreme Court decision in Cabello vs. Illinois, where the high court held that a drug dog search is not a search. But appeals court Judge Bobby Gunther, joined by Judge Gary Farmer, held that Cabello did not apply to a home search because such searches must be held to higher standards than vehicle searches.

"A firm line remains at [a home's] entrance blocking the noses of dogs from sniffing government's way into the intimate details of an individual's life," wrote Gunther. "If that line should crumble, one can only fear where future lines will be drawn and where sniffing dogs, or even more intrusive and disturbing sensory-enhancing methods, will be seen next."

No word yet on whether the state of Florida will appeal the decision.

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12. Celebrity Mouth: Bruce Willis Declares War on Cocaine

In what is presumably a bid to gin up publicity for his new movie, 16 Blocks, movie tough-guy Bruce Willis is talking tough about cocaine. In an interview with the entertainment media web site UndergroundOnline, Willis, who plays an burnt-out, alcoholic cop in the new flic, seemed to be in character.

After announcing an deep admiration for police officers -- "they are the last line between us and the wolves and the chaos that's out in the world -- and a "strong affinity for working class people," the multimillionaire Hollywood act told interviewer Daniel Robert Epstein too little is being done about drug trafficking and that he is thinking of challenging politicians to attack the drug trade more aggressively.

"I think what the United States, and everyone who cares about protecting the freedoms that the largest part of the free world now has, should do whatever it takes to end terrorism in the world and not just in the Middle East," Willis said when asked whether he supported violence in real life. "I'm talking also about going to Colombia and doing whatever it takes to end the cocaine trade. It's killing this country. It's killing all the countries that coke goes into," he said in a fit of hyperbole.

"I believe that somebody's making money on it in the United States. If they weren't making money on it, they would have stopped it. They could stop it in one day," Willis continued. "It's just a plant that they grow, and these guys are growing it like it's corn or tobacco or any other thing. By the time it gets here (America), it becomes a billion dollar industry. And I think that's a form of terrorism as well."

If Bruce Willis wants to wage some cinematic war fantasy in Colombia as a means of "protecting freedoms," he might want to talk to the people who would be on the receiving end of his tender mercies. Willis may be imagining Pablo Escobar, but his invasion fantasy is more likely to hurt the thousands of peasant farmers who depend on the crops. It looks like when it comes to intelligent drug policy, the diehard is a blowhard.

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13. Web Scan: Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment, Perjury in Police Misconduct

"Police Misconduct: A Preponderance of Perjury," from the Muckraker Report:

"Cannabis as Cancer Hope," discussion by NORML's Paul Armentano of a review of the literature published in "Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry":

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14. Weekly: This Week in History

February 24, 2000: Members of the Belgian Parliament make a proposal to modify their laws in order to partially decriminalize the possession of cannabis and its derivatives. Simple marijuana possession is effectively decriminalized three years later.

February 25, 1997: President Bill Clinton proposes spending $175 million for a national television blitz targeting drug use by America's youth. Matching funds from the private sector would be sought. Clinton says, "If a child does watch television -- and what child doesn't -- he or she should not be able to escape these messages."

February 26, 1995: Former mayor of San Francisco Frank Jordan is quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying, "I have no problem whatsoever with the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I am sensitive and compassionate to people who have legitimate needs. We should bend the law and do what's right."

February 27, 1999: Conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. is quoted in the New York Post, "Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could."

February 28, 1995: In compliance with the 1994 Crime Act, the US Sentencing Commission issues a report on the current federal structure of differing penalties on powder cocaine and crack cocaine, recommending that Congress "revisit" penalties enacted for those offenses.

February 28, 1998: President Clinton recertifies Mexico as a fully cooperating ally in the struggle against drug smuggling despite a letter from 40 US senators urging Clinton to deny certification.

February 28, 2000: UPI reports that Spanish researchers said the chemical in marijuana that produces a "high" shows promise as a weapon against deadly brain tumors.

February 29, 1996: In his State of the Union address, President Clinton nominates Army General Barry McCaffrey, a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

March 1, 1915: The Harrison Narcotics Act goes into legal effect, beginning prohibition of drugs.

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15. Job Opportunity: Community Liaison, PreventionWorks!, Washington, DC

PreventionWorks is hiring a Community Liaison, to increase awareness of and support for syringe access and other harm reduction issues among local elected leaders, law enforcement, community, and neighborhood groups; and coordinate community advisory panels.

The primary duties and responsibilities of the Community Liaison will include:

ADVISORY PANELS: Coordinating advisory panels, which are made up of supportive community members, service providers in the community, and program participants; identifying and recruiting participants and community residents to join the advisory panels; coordinating orientation of advisory panel members to the mission, history, and programs of PreventionWorks and to the history, philosophies, practices, and science supporting needle exchange; coordinating advisory panel meetings and communication; maintaining and facilitating communication between PreventionWorks and the advisory panels.

SYRINGE ACCESS WORKING GROUP (SAWG): Attending regular meetings and working closely with other members of the SAWG (including representatives of the Washington AIDS Partnership, Whitman-Walker Clinic, The DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and PreventionWorks); with the Executive Director, leading SAWG initiative to create a comprehensive syringe access implementation plan for the District of Columbia with benchmarks.

COMMUNITY RELATIONS: Increasing awareness and support among elected Advisory Neighborhood Council (ANC) members; representing PreventionWorks at regular ANC meetings throughout the city; meeting with individual ANC Commissioners and constituents; maintaining and facilitating communication between PreventionWorks, ANC Commissioners, and community constituents; educating ANC members about background, mission, and work of PreventionWorks; increasing awareness and support among members of the Metropolitan Police Department Police Service Areas (PSA); representing PreventionWorks at regular Police Service Area (PSA) meetings throughout the city; meeting with PSA members and area residents; maintaining and facilitating communication between PreventionWorks, PSAs, and area residents; educate PSA members about background, mission, and work of PreventionWorks; increasing awareness and support among City Council Members; representing PreventionWorks at appropriate City Council hearings or briefings; coordinating meetings with individual Council Members and staffers; facilitating communication between PreventionWorks, City Council Members, and ward residents; educating Council Members and Council Staffers about background, mission, and work of PreventionWorks; increasing awareness and support among neighborhood associations and other community groups; representing PreventionWorks at neighborhood association meetings around existing and potential exchange sites; facilitating communication between PreventionWorks, community groups, and other residents; educating the community groups and other residents about the background, mission, and work of PreventionWorks; increasing awareness and support among churches and other religious institutions; representing PreventionWorks at meetings with representatives of religious institutions; facilitating communication between PreventionWorks and religious communities; educating religious institutions and their congregations about the background, mission, and work of PreventionWorks; with the Executive Director and other members of the Syringe Access Working Group, identifying and pursuing other venues and strategies for strengthening community awareness and support of PreventionWorks.

MEDIA: With Executive Director and PreventionWorks Public Relations Committee, developing and coordinating media strategy and materials; investigating and pursuing opportunities for educational campaigns, including funds for production of public service announcements; track news articles and other documents, broadcasts, publications, etc., highlighting the work of PreventionWorks and the Syringe Access Working Group; tracking news and research on issues relating to syringe access around the country.

REPORTING: Providing reports after each meeting.

Perform other duties as assigned.

The Community Liaison will work closely with and report to the Executive Director, and will also work with other members of the Syringe Access Working Group and PreventionWorks staff, board, and volunteers.

Required qualifications include background and knowledge of harm reduction theory, philosophy, and practices; ability to effectively and professionally represent PreventionWorks to elected officials, citizens, and PW participants; strong interpersonal skills; ability to work a flexible schedule, including weekends and evenings; independent, self-motivated worker; team player; able to develop and share network of contacts and resources.

Interested applicants should e-mail resume and a cover letter to: Paola Barahona, Executive Director, [email protected].

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16. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

February 25, 1:00-5:00pm, Boston, MA, Drug Policy Conference. At the West Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, 1961 Centre Street, including various drug policy reform organizations.

February 25-26, New York, NY, 2006 NYC Ibogaine Conference, sponsored by Cures Not Wars. At Columbia University, Lerner Hall, Satow Room, 5th Floord, 115th St. and Broadway, call (856) 577-2446 or visit for further information.

February 28, 5:00pm, Abbotsford, BC, Canada, "Should Canada Really Legalize Dangerous Drugs?", panel debate/discussion with retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper of LEAP, Abbotsford police chief Ian McKenzie and others. At the University College of Fraser Valley, Room B101, 33844 King Road, contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

February 28, 8:00pm, Providence, RI, screening of "High: The True Tale of American Marijuana." At Brown University, List Art Center 120, contact [email protected] for further information.

March 3-5, Columbia, MO, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Midwest Regional Conference. At the University of Missouri, contact Joe Bartlett at [email protected] for further information.

March 5, 8:00pm, Hollywood, CA, "F* the Oscars!", comedy benefit supporting medical marijuana. Screening of "Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," preceding the comedy show featuring Fear Factor's Joe Rogan headlining, with Rick Overton and others. At The Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., admission $20, 21+, two-drink minimum, cash at the door, or tickets available from Galaxy Gallery at 7224 Melrose Ave. or local compassion clubs. Visit for info.

March 9, 7:30pm, Ridge, NH, "Cops Say Legalize Drugs. Come Ask a New Hampshire Cop Why." Forum featuring LEAP speaker Bradley Jardis, at Franklin Pierce College, hosted by FPC SSDP. For further information, contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] Jonathan Perri at [email protected].

March 13-26, central New Jersey, speaking tour by LEAP spokesperson Peter Christ. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

March 27-April 10, western Kansas, focusing on Wichita, Topeka, Lawrence & Kansas City, speaking tour by LEAP executive director Jack Cole. Contact Bill Schreier at [email protected] or Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

March 29, 6:00pm, New York, NY, "Drug Policy for the Union Man," forum for members of the Local 375 District Council 37, presented by LEAP, DPA, CJPF and ReconsiDer. At 125 Barkley St., two blocks north of Old World Trade Center, contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

March 29-April 1, Cincinnati, OH, "Howard Wooldridge Returns to the River City" speaking tour by LEAP. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

March 30, 8:00pm, Los Angeles, CA, MPP Party at the Playboy Mansion, tickets $500, visit for further information.

April 2-8, St. Louis, MO, speaking tour by LEAP spokesperson Howard Wooldridge. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

April 5-8, Santa Barbara, CA, Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time, details to be announced, visit for updates.

April 7, Charleston Beach, SC, launch of "Journey for Justice Number Seven: Cross Country Bicycle Ride for Medical Marijuana Safe Access," by medical marijuana patient Ken Locke. Visit for further information.

April 9, noon-6:00pm, Sacramento, CA, "Cannabis at the Capitol," medical marijuana rally sponsored by the Compassionate Coalition. At the California State Capitol, west steps, visit or contact Peter Keyes at (916) 456-7933 for info.

April 9-12, Vancouver, BC, Canada, speaking tour by LEAP spokesperson Norm Stamper. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

April 20-22, San Francisco, CA, National NORML Conference, visit for further information.

April 25, 4:00-6:00pm, Washington, DC, forum with recipients of the 2006 Keith D. Cylar Activist Awards for HIV/AIDS Activism. Sponsored by Housing Works, location TBA, contact Christopher Sealey at [email protected] or visit for further information.

April 25-27, Olympia, WA, speaking tour by LEAP spokesperson Norm Stamper. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

April 26, 6:30pm, New York, NY, the 2006 Keith D. Cylar Activist Awards for HIV/AIDS Activism. At the Prince George Ballroom, sponsored by Housing Works, contact Christopher Sealey at [email protected] or visit for further information.

April 27, 6:30pm, Portland, ME, "Patients, 'Potheads,' and Dying to Get High: the Challenge of Medical Marijuana," lecture by Dr. Wendy Chapkis. At the University of Southern Maine, Glickman Family Library, 7th floor special events room, admission free, call (207) 780-4757 for further information.

April 28-30, New Paltz, NY, SSDP Northeast Regional Conference. At SUNY New Paltz, contact [email protected] for further information.

April 30-May 4, 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.

May 5-6, Seattle, WA, "1st National Harm Reduction Therapy Conference: Bringing Us Together," visit for further information.

May 6-7, worldwide, Million Marijuana march, visit for further information.

June 3, 1:00-11:00pm, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 10th Legalize! Street Rave Against the War on Drugs. Visit or contact Jonas Daniel Meyerplein at +31(0)20-4275626 or [email protected] for info.

July 4, Washington, DC, Fourth of July Rally, sponsored by the Fourth of July Hemp Coalition. At Lafayette Park, contact (202) 887-5770 for further information.

June 8-9, Monterey, CA, speaking tour by LEAP spokesperson James Anthony. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for further information.

August 19-20, Seattle, WA, Seattle Hempfest, visit for further information.

September 16, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 17th Annual Boston Freedom Rally. On Boston Common, sponsored by MASS CANN/NORML, featuring bands, speakers and vendors. Visit for further information.

November 9-12, Oakland, CA, "Drug User Health: The Politics and the Personal," 6th National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, for further information visit or contact Paula Santiago at [email protected].

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