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Drug War Chronicle
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

Issue #437 -- 5/26/06

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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

    more going in than coming out
    (image from
    Often people object to drug legalization, at least for drugs other than marijuana, because, as they say, "drugs kill." But the phenomenon is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Despite half a decade of sentencing reform efforts, America's jail and prison population is increasing at a rate of more than a thousand per week.
    A wave of fatal drug overdoses from the highly-potent masquerading as heroin that has killed dozens of people in recent weeks struck Detroit with a vengeance over the weekend. Harm reductionists are asking why authorities took so long to react to the public health emergency.
    Chronicle editor Phil Smith reviews "Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America" and "The Devil's Picnic: Around the World in Search of Forbidden Fruit."
    Get your copy of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition video that Walter Cronkite called a "must-see for any journalist or public official dealing with [the drug] issue."
    Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we need your feedback to evaluate our work and make the case for Drug War Chronicle to funders. We need donations too.
    Two stories from New York City, a cop peddling "cocaine cookies" in Alabama, a Delaware State Trooper with a drug problem, and a very, very ugly recording are on tap this week.
    A federal appeals court May 17 rejected a bid by South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe member Alex White Plume to grow industrial hemp crops on his land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
    A bill whose sole purpose is to lower the threshold for allowing schools to search students' lockers and bags for drugs and other contraband has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.
    Colombian soldiers operating near the town of Jamundi in the Valle region shot and killed ten undercover anti-drug police and their civilian informant in a case of mistaken identity, Colombian officials reported Monday.
    Bolivian President Evo Morales, himself a former coca growers' leader, announced last weekend he had won an agreement with peasants in the Yungas region to voluntarily limit their coca growing. The move came as part of an emerging two-pronged strategy by Morales to deal with the coca issue.
    An independent working group sponsored by the influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation has called for Britain to open safe injection sites for hard drug users on a trial basis.
    A study at UCLA by a team led by one of the most prominent marijuana researchers has found no link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer.
    The Drug Truth Network has unveiled its new Tin Foil Hat Award (an image commonly associated with whacked-out conspiracy theorists), and selected its first prize-winner -- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Karen Tandy.
    Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.
    Showing up at an event can be the best way to get involved! Check out this week's listings for events from today through next year, across the US and around the world!

(Chronicle archives)

1. Editorial: Making Sure Drugs Kill

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

David Borden
Often people object to drug legalization, at least for drugs other than marijuana, because, as they say, "drugs kill." It's true that drug abuse or even experimental use of illegal drugs can be deadly. But the phenomenon is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A rash of overdose deaths in cities as wide-ranging as Atlanta and New York and Chicago makes the point. Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is 80 times as potent as morphine (according to Wikipedia), has hit the streets, either mixed in with heroin or sold as heroin. Not realizing this, users have taken what they thought was the heroin they were used to, instead getting something massively more potent. More than 20 people have died from fatal overdoses in a fentanyl outbreak in Detroit since this weekend alone -- deaths that might have been prevented, advocates and family of victims have pointed out -- if the word had been spread as would have been done if a single bird flu case had cropped up. Instead, it took this week's dramatic tragedy to finally spur authorities into action.

Such criticisms are legitimate and need to be made if lives are to be saved within the present situation. But even better than improving the public health system's responsiveness to dangerous street drug situations would be to eliminate the prevalence of dangerous street drugs. The law of supply and demand prevents that from being done through enforcement -- too many people are willing to pay too much money for drugs for that to ever succeed -- so something else needs to happen. The fentanyl situation is clearly a consequence of drug prohibition, something that would virtually never happen under a system of regulation. Not surprisingly, this angle has been essentially absent from the media's discussion of the incidents.

At least they're reporting the overdoses; hopefully some people will be warned away and those with the power to help the situation will stay focused on it. But it's time for the media and for opinion leaders to acknowledge the consequences of prohibition as such. Until they do, the drug debate will continue to languish in its current, highly simplistic state.

Baltimore's former mayor, Kurt Schmoke, recognized this and attempted to educate the public on the nuances of the drug issue. At a May 1996 forum in New York city organized by the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information, Schmoke pointed out that what is commonly viewed as the "drug problem" is really three separate problems: crime, addiction, and AIDS. Crime, he said, arguably calls for a health-based approach, but addiction and AIDS clearly call for public health approaches.

To the extent that we are motivated by the desire to protect people from the ravages of addiction or other drug-related dangers, we need to also recognize the impact our laws have on the lives of the very people affected by those dangers. Thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year -- the recent rash of them in some cities is only a particularly gripping case of this. While legalization might not prevent all such overdoses, the fentanyl outbreak shows how prohibition makes overdoses much more likely.

In effect, then, what we are doing is increasing the likelihood of death through overdose -- making sure drugs kill -- in hopes that some other group of people who do not use drugs now but would otherwise do so are thereby rescued from the consequences of those hypothetical choices they are not now making. But those dying from overdoses now are by definition the people we claim we most want to help -- they died, after all, that's what we're trying to stop. Whereas the people being saved -- from themselves -- are un-indentifiable and may or may not really exist. From the moral standpoint this is highly questionable; from the public health standpoint it is downright incoherent.

Numbers and complex arguments aside, each of these unnecessary deaths is an unnecessary tragedy, for the victims and for their families, friends and communities. The book "Between Two Pages: Children of Substance" tells some of their stories in the words of their survivors. (We reviewed "Between Two Pages" last week -- check it out if you haven't already.) We owe it to those who've lost loved ones to addiction -- or to those who could, which is any of us -- to rationalize our thinking on this issue and start to approach it in a more moral and effective way. Their worlds have been changed in a way that can never be repaired. But we can move on and help fix the world itself.

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2. Feature: Number of People Behind Bars in America Increasing By More Than a Thousand a Week

Despite half a decade of sentencing reform efforts, America's jail and prison population is increasing at a rate of more than a thousand per week, according to the latest annual report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. The total number of people behind bars in the US at the end of last June was 2,186,230, up more than 56,000 over the previous year. Once again, the US retains its title as the world's most prison-crazy nation, holding onto first place in both prisoners per capita and total number of people imprisoned.

Signal Hill jail, southern Los Angeles County, California
In 1980, before the Reagan-era wars on crime and drugs took off, the total jail and prison population was 540,000, or about one-quarter the size it is today. Drug offenders accounted for a measly 6% of all prisoners, compared to nearly one-quarter today. By 1989, the Reagan revolution -- with the aide of a Democratically-controlled Congress -- had doubled the inmate population to a million, and made the turn of the century, the figure had doubled again to two million -- all in an era of declining crime rates.

Of those imprisoned in the US, about two-thirds (1.44 million) were in prison and one-third (748,000) were being held in jails. But most of the increase in the past year was in the jail population, which jumped by more than 33,000 inmates, the biggest increase since 1997. Of the jail inmates, 62% had not been convicted of a crime but were only awaiting trial.

The annual Bureau of Justice Statistics mid-year report does not provide a breakdown of offenses, but other BJS reports do. Based on previous BJS reports last fall, the number of people in jail or prison for drug offenses exceeds 530,000, or roughly one-quarter of all prisoners.

Overall, the rate of increase in the jail and prison population was 2.6% for the year ending June 30, with the federal prison population rising at a slightly higher rate of 2.9%. The federal system now contains more than 184,000 prisoners, a majority of them doing time on drug charges.

Prison systems in 10 states grew by more than 5%, led by three states in the Upper Midwest methamphetamine belt: Montana (up 7.9%), South Dakota (up 7.8%), and Minnesota (up 6.7%). But those are relatively small states. Three larger state prison systems -- Florida, Texas, and North Carolina -- accounted for 40% of all growth in state prison populations.

"Meth is the driving force in a lot of this," said Bob Anez, spokesman for the Montana Department of Corrections. "We're just starting to get the statistics on this, but we believe meth is a big factor," he told DRCNet, explaining that the state had only recently begun disaggregating the numbers for different drugs. "In the first three months of this year, half of our new women inmates and 42% of males were there for meth-related offenses."

Montana hopes to slow the rate of prisoner growth through a new prison-based meth treatment program, Anez said. The legislature has already authorized 80 beds for men and 40 for women, and the program will be up and running by next March. "The idea is rather than have them sitting in prison, put them in a nine-month treatment program, followed by six months of aftercare in a half-way house," Anez explained. The program applies only to those convicted at least twice of meth possession, but not sale or manufacture.

Meanwhile, 12 states reported declines in the population behind bars, led by Vermont (down 2.9%), Idaho (down 2.8%), and New York (down 2.5%), where limited reforms of the Rockefeller drug laws are beginning to have an impact. In the nation's largest state prison and jail system, California, the 2001 "treatment not jail" sentencing reform has contributed to what is essentially zero growth. In the year ending in June, California's prison population grew from 166,053 to 166,532, a 0.3% increase.

Women continue to make up an increasing percentage of the jail and prison population, with BJS noting that the number of women behind bars increased by 3.4% while the number of men rose by only 1.3%. At the end of June, women accounted for 7% percent of all prisoners, up from 6.1% at yearend 1995. But a report released this week by the Women's Prison Association makes the trend even more explicit. According to that report, the female prison population has grown a whopping 757% since 1977, from 11,000 in prison in 1977 to more than 96,000 at the end of 2004.

Most of the increases in female imprisonment can be traced to the war on drugs, the report said. More women are being sent to prison for drug offenses -- notably methamphetamine use -- while convictions for violent crimes have fallen. The report called for alternative sentencing for female prisoners, including addiction treatment for drug offenders.

Looking at the overall picture, criminal justice analysts were troubled by the seemingly endless growth of the incarcerated population. "What's most disturbing is that crime rates have been going down for 10 years now, and one would expect the prison population to decline -- with fewer crimes, we should be sending fewer people to prison -- but that isn't happening," said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a group advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

Mauer pointed toward all-too-familiar culprits. "This continuing growth in the prison population reflects the ongoing impact of a number of policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing, which requires incarceration without any judicial discretion is part of it," he told DRCNet. "Also, people are spending more time in prison. Three-strikes laws are an extreme example, but people are doing more time even for less serious offenses. And parole violators -- often guys whose offense is nothing more than a dirty urine test -- are becoming an increasingly significant part of the prison population, now making up as much as a third."

"What really jumps out at me is that the jail population is shooting through the roof," said Jason Zeidenberg, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. "It's hard to know just what's going on, but there is an increase in the number of people already sentenced and waiting to go to prison," he told DRCNet. "It may be that some states are essentially downloading the prison problem to local jails, telling local officials to keep sentenced prisoners in the counties or even buying jail beds from counties. This could be a bad sign, an omen of a big increase in the prison population next year. Or it could mean the jails are absorbing the prison growth problem. In either case, it's bad news. The jails aren't equipped to deal with big numbers of people coming in there."

BJS chief of corrections statistics Allen Beck told the Associated Press there is another factor at play as well. "The jail population is increasingly un-convicted," he said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."

New prisoners are entering jails faster than new jail beds are being built, BJS reported. With the jail population now at 95% of capacity, trouble looms in the near future.

The drug war is playing an especially serious role in the rapid growth of the number of women behind bars, said Mauer. "Even more so than for men, this is related to drug war policies," he said. "Women in prison are more likely to be there for a drug offense than men. There are too many cases of the 'girlfriend problem,' where the woman may be a bit player but gets more time because she has less information to trade. Women are also more vulnerable and perhaps less sophisticated about being in the criminal justice system, so we are now seeing a vicious cycle of drug war policies combined with the disadvantages women face when the come into contact with the courts."

Despite the steady climb in prisoners, there is hope, Mauer said. "We've seen a number of states enact sentencing and drug reforms in recent years, and that's encouraging. But these numbers tell us it hasn't yet made much of a dent. We are going to need comprehensive approaches and reform strategies or these numbers are going to continue to go up," he predicted.

States should look at the example of Maryland, suggested Zeidenberg. Since 2003, the state has moved toward an emphasis on treatment over incarceration, and it's paying off, he said. "While the prison population in the rest of the country increased 4% since 2003, it has decreased by 4% in Maryland, while treatment admissions have increased 4% and publicly funded treatment admissions have increased by 27%. As other states grapple with rising prison populations, Maryland is bucking the trend," Zeidenberg said. "The investment in treatment in Maryland may pay real dividends by reducing the use of prison."

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3. Feature: Fentanyl Death Toll Mounts as Authorities Belatedly Act

A wave of fatal drug overdoses that has killed dozens of people in recent weeks struck Detroit with a vengeance over the weekend, leaving more than 20 people dead after injecting "heroin" that has turned out to mostly or entirely fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 80 times as powerful as morphine. Federal and local authorities are now ringing alarm bells, but with fentanyl-related overdoses occurring at a lower rate for months in Detroit and clusters of deaths breaking out in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic seaboard in recent weeks, some are asking what took so long.

fentanyl package
"I've never seen it this bad," said Harry Simpson, director of substance abuse services for Detroit's Community Health Awareness Group, which runs drug user harm reduction programs, including a needle exchange, in the city. "I'm a recovering injector myself and I've been 22 years in recovery, and in all the years I've been on the drug scene, I've never seen anything like this."

Fentanyl mixed with heroin or sold as heroin has been causing overdose deaths in small numbers since last fall, but alarms bells did not begin going off until a couple of weeks ago, when clumps of people started dropping dead in the Chicago and Philadelphia areas. Chicago authorities reported 10 fatal overdoses and dozens of non-fatal ones, while the death toll in the Mid-Atlantic states is near 30 in the past month. In Detroit, although fentanyl-related overdoses killed 106 people between September and April, officials took no action until 23 people died over the weekend.

The father of one overdose victim complained that it took a mass outbreak of deaths before authorities responded. Ryan Richter, 18, died in February after taking fentanyl. "He and his friends were experimenting," Randy Richter told the Detroit Free Press. At the time, Richter said, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office told him it was aware of the dangers of the lethal fentanyl-heroin mix. "Who is to say how many lives would have been saved if they let this information out then?" Richter asked.

This week in Detroit, the authorities got serious. At the request of Michigan health officials, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta sent two investigators to look into the overdoses -- the first time the CDC has looked at fentanyl use.

The investigators will stay through this week, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced as he warned residents to watch out. "Law enforcement's concern is it's being distributed in the Metro area on the street and it's very point," he warned.

The local DEA office has also gotten involved. "Samples are being tested to see if we can determine if it's pharmaceutical grade or from a clandestine laboratory," DEA agent Christopher Hoyt said at a Tuesday press conference.

Officials are concerned because they don't know if the wave of fentanyl overdoses is a fluke or a harbinger of the future. "We don't know the extent of the problem," said Robert Corso, DEA special agent in charge in Detroit.

Back in the Mid-Atlantic states, law enforcement has responded energetically, seizing thousands of bags of fentanyl-laced dope in the past two weeks. The response in terms of reducing the harm to injection drug users has been less spectacular.

"I think it is just incomprehensible that over a hundred people died in such a short period of time and there wasn't a full-scale community alert put out," said Simpson. "If you have bird fall out of a tree dead, you get a big mobilization to see if it had a virus. A damned bird. If somebody gets sick with salmonella, it's a full-blown emergency, but we're talking about a hundred people dead and nothing happened. To not have a state of emergency to save these people's lives is just unconscionable."

Drug users are seen as worthless, Simpson said. "It is because of the stigma associated with drug users, they're seen as throwaway people. But they're our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and they deserve better. People are still dying here, but once we get a handle on this, we'll go back and try to kick the health department in the ass for their failure to act sooner," he vowed.

But for now, at least, public officials are sounding the alarm. In addition to Ficano's press conference, authorities have contacted hospitals, emergency care providers, and the media to put out the warning. And Detroit harm reductionists are hitting the streets, too.

"We're trying to get the word out on the street to the people who are at risk," said Simpson. "We are using our needle exchange program to go into areas where the users are and we're putting out flyers and brochures. We've got outreach workers talking to people and giving them information about what they can do and how do deal with overdoses. We don't know where this is coming from and we're trying to get as close to the source as we can," he said.

The DEA, the CDC, and state and local authorities may understand that people are dying, Simpson said, but they can't get close to the users. "That's critical because we need a targeted effort to track this thing as close as we can. We're talking to people who have used this stuff or have had ODs around them and trying to find out what is consistent so we can warn people 'If you're cooking up drugs and it does this, then watch out.'"

The effort is going state-wide, Simpson said. "We're doing an outreach blitz, if you will. We're having an emergency call to arms to bring outreach workers from across the state to Detroit to inform and train them around OD prevention and identification. We need these outreach workers, because our target audience isn't necessarily paying attention to TV and radio ads."

The Detroit effort is getting help from the national Harm Reduction Coalition, which fedexed thousands of informational pamphlets and brochures to the city this week, Simpson said. "I called them because we didn't have any appropriate materials," he recalled, "and we really appreciate them doing that."

"These deaths represent the tip of the iceberg," said Harm Reduction Coalition executive director Allan Clear. "Thousands of fatal overdoses occur every year -- but we know that we can reduce overdose deaths by giving drug users the right information, training, and tools."

For now, said Simpson, authorities are doing the right thing. "They are doing all the public health things that should be done, but this is horrible. We've lost 125 lives here since September. The city, the county, and the feds should have been all over this six months ago."

Legalization would effectively put and end to such outbreaks of overdoses and similar problems -- in a regulated market, users would know what they were getting most of the time. In the meanwhile, the harm reductionists have their work cut out for them saving lives that need not have been so endangered and cleaning up some of the mess created by drug prohibition.

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4. DRCNet Review Essay: Drug Policy and Prohibition in Context

Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor, [email protected]

"Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America," by Philip Jenkins (2006, Oxford University Press, $28.00 HB)

"The Devil's Picnic: Around the World in Search of Forbidden Fruit," by Taras Grescoe (2005, HarperCollins, $23.95)

The books reviewed in these pages typically hone in on drug policy with a tight, laser-like focus, exploring the tragedy of drug overdoses, the history of prohibition, or the high wonkery of drug policy reform. This week, we're backing away from that tight focus. Drug policy and prohibition do not occur in isolation, and the two books under consideration here both do an excellent job of situating these issues in a broader context.

"Decade of Nightmares" by historian Philip Jenkins and "The Devil's Picnic" by Montreal food critic and travel writer Taras Grescoe are world's apart in tone and substance, but both authors offer enlightening reflections on the role of drug policy and prohibition in shaping the world in which we live. "Decade of Nightmares" is a sweeping social, political, and (pop) cultural history of how America made the dramatic shift from the hippy hedonism of the 1960s to the mean and fearful era of Ronald Reagan, while "The Devil's Picnic" is marketed as travel/cultural studies but is really a global tour of prohibited items and the cultures that prohibit them.

For people interested not only in drug policy but the broader social and political currents around prohibited items, "The Devil's Picnic" is an absolute gem. Montreal food critic Grescoe takes the reader to Norway, home of the West's most restrictive alcohol laws, to sample hjemmebrent, or Norwegian moonshine, and on to France and Switzerland in search of authentic absinthe, the wormwood liquor banned in the US and most of Europe for the past century. He smuggles narcotic poppy seed bagels, chewing gum, and pornography into squeaky clean Singapore and samples bulls' balls and tobacco-poisoned eel in Spain.

He puffs on banned Cuban cigars in the smoke-easies of San Francisco as California lurches toward anti-smoking totalitarianism and sips coca tea in La Paz as the US wages war on the plant that produces it. Grescoe also investigates the case of the incredibly stinky and unpasteurized French cheese banned in the US, and he travels to Switzerland in search of the ultimate proscribed substance: sodium pentobarbital, the suicide drug that will put you to sleep forever.

Grescoe's touch is light and entertaining, his prose sparkles, and his curiosity about the whys and wherefores of the various prohibitions he encounters is both delightful and enlightening. He has a vivid way with words, as witnessed by his description of the incredible French Epoisse cheese: "Tackling an Epoisse is a bit like gnawing on a urinal cake in the middle of a feedlot lagoon," he writes. "Once past the odor barrier of mingled barnyard and ammonia, however, one is reminded that Satan is indeed a fallen angel. The tongue is suddenly suffused with the divine essence of fresh milk, a pure distillation of salt, sugar, cream, and all the rich flavors of the Burgundian countryside."

But if his touch is light, Grescoe's purpose is serious. In his chapter on Norwegian moonshine, for instance, he looks at -- and past -- the statistics and the official line. Norway claims to have half the per capita alcohol consumption of the rest of Europe, he notes, but then adds that the difference is largely made up by moonshine and smuggling. Grescoe talks to experts, to scientists, to entrepreneurs, to drinkers, and in so doing, reveals the hidden reality of Norwegian alcohol consumption.

Likewise, as he sits at 10,000 feet in Bolivia, desperately sucking down coca tea in an effort to fend off altitude sickness, Grescoe ponders the futility of the war on the plant. He ponders how to end an absurd drug war and writes with sympathy about the traditional and sacramental uses of the plant, but scoffs at the notion of "resacralizing" it. The notion is "romantic but disingenuous," he writes. You can't undo the knowledge of how to make cocaine. What does give him hope, he writes, is his certainty that the drug war is doomed to failure. "Short of defoliating the entire planet and napalming all the Earth's arable land, the total eradication of drug crops is an unattainable goal," he concludes, rather happily.

His global journey was an education, Grescoe writes. "After 12 months of traveling through seven different countries, I've encountered vastly different attitudes toward prohibitions, ranging from welfare-state tolerance to nanny-state fury, from urbane indifference to xenophobic hysteria; not to mention the perplexed patience of those in the developing world whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign prohibitions. The world changed my outlook, as it always does. If I started out as a libertarian, in favor of legalization, I ended up with a more nuanced view of how prohibition, and drug prohibition in particular, should be handled."

Grescoe's education is a joy to read and will doubtless educate and entertain the reader as well. This is an ideal book for anyone who appreciates fine writing, thoughtful exposition, and the lure of the forbidden.

In "Decade of Nightmares," Philip Jenkins inhabits a much darker world, that of America in the 1980s. Jenkins attempts to answer the question of how, in less than a generation, America moved from Woodstock to Ronald Reagan. Jenkins' is a big-picture portrayal of the massive demographic and attitudinal changes that resulted in the seismic political shift to the right epitomized by the 1980 election of Reagan, who only a handful of years before was considered a raving extremist. For Jenkins, the reaction to the hedonistic drug use of the 1960s was a key, if not the central, element in the massive social and electoral lurch rightward in the 1980s.

For Jenkins, the successes and excesses of radical liberalism in the 1960s did not create the socially rightist reaction -- those forces are always lurking beneath the surface of American politics -- but helped awaken the dormant beast and ensure that it stayed frightened -- and angry. Gay liberation and women's liberation won great advances in the early 1970s, but those advances only served to mobilize -- to this day -- a reaction from Americans worried about traditional gender roles and morality. Rising crime rates led to a turn away from "soft-hearted" liberal criminal justice policies and toward the penitentiary. American uncertainty and timidity in foreign policy in the wake of Vietnam resulted in an ever louder crescendo of fears that the country would fall to the Soviets or Arab terrorists or Third World radicalism.

And then there was drugs. The 1960s was the decade of mind-blowing drug experimentation, and by the early 1970s drug taking was relatively uncontroversial, especially when compared to the big chill that followed. Jimmy Carter dabbled with marijuana decriminalization, and his aides were spotted partying hard in DC nightclubs. But, Jenkins notes, by 1977 the first parental anti-drug groups were emerging, and they soon forged alliances with a weak and lonely drug war bureaucracy desperately searching for allies. By 1982, Nancy Reagan ushered in the era of "just say no."

Since then, it has been almost all downhill on the drug policy front. The Reagan 1980s saw the onslaught against drug paraphernalia, the rise of drug testing in the workplace, the use of the military to fight the drug war, both on the US border and in foreign countries, and of course, the boom in imprisonment that has yet to end. Equally important, drug policy was key to the Reagan era's crime policy. "Though violent crime and terrorism both made a huge public impact," Jenkins writes, "the centerpiece of Reagan-era law enforcement policy was the war on drugs, a campaign against the primary symbol of the freedom, and excesses, of the 1960s."

Jenkins is a historian of, among other things, moral panics, and brings a sharp eye to bear on the hysterical response to drug use that has emerged since the 1970s. In an earlier work, "Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs," he examined in great detail the creation of such panics, examining the great Ecstasy fear of the 1980s and -- surprise -- a methamphetamine panic of about the same time. In "Decade of Nightmares," he charts how fears about the demon drug of the day, PCP, morphed into an unyielding demonization of all drugs, and how that discourse tied into the other great Reaganite discourses of fear -- of the foreign, of the different, of the other, and above all, for the children.

Indeed, Mrs. Lovejoy, the preacher's wife in The Simpsons who is always screaming "What about the children!?" could be an icon of the era. As Baby Boomers aged -- the 18-year-old dope-smoking hippy in 1972 was a 28-year-old parent in 1982 -- libertine attitudes toward drugs curdled into fears of what they would do to the kids, radical feminist concerns with liberating women's sexuality curdled into fear of marauding men who rape women and sexually abuse children, the notion that criminality was a social problem curdled into the cult of personal responsibility and the fear of "predators" and "serial killers" (both terms that originated in that frightened era).

The Reagan 1980s birthed a perfect storm of hysterical fears. This was the time of ritual child sex abuse, Satanic cults, and highly publicized mass murderers. Although Jenkins is careful to point out that no credible evidence exists of such things as Satanic child sex abusers, they were on the evening news day after day.

Jenkins does readers a service by writing not just a political history of the transition to darkness, but a social and cultural one. One can glean as much information about changing attitudes toward drugs by noting that the same comedy team that wrote the drug-drenched Taxi in the late 1970s also created Cheers in the early 1980s -- where there is nary a drug reference and the lead character is a reformed alcoholic -- than by reading reams of policy papers.

"Decade of Nightmares" is rich and dense, and an extremely useful study for those of us old enough to remember the heady days of 1968 and what went wrong afterward. For those for whom the Reagan 1980s was a time of playing in the sandbox, "Decade of Nightmares" is a welcome attempt to explain how we got from Woodstock to Reagan.

What makes it even more important today and for this audience, is Jenkins' elucidation of the central role drugs played as bogeyman for a frightened America. And what makes it extremely important is that sad fact that we are, to a large degree, still in Reagan's 1980s, only more so than ever.

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  • "Filled with hard numbers that shed much needed light on the drug war." - Lester Grinspoon, MD, Assoc. Prof of Psychiatry (emeritus), Harvard Medical School
  • "A compendium of facts that fly in the face of accepted wisdom." - David Duncan, Clinical Associate Professor, Brown University Medical School

We continue to offer the new DVD from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). As Walter Cronkite wrote in a testimonial for the video, "Anyone concerned about the failure of our $69 billion-a-year War on Drugs should watch this 12-minute program. You will meet front line, ranking police officers who give us a devastating report on why it cannot work. It is a must-see for any journalist or public official dealing with this issue."

DRCNet's ability to get the word out about important tools like Drug War Facts and the LEAP DVD depends on the health and reach of our network, and that depends on your donations.Please consider donating more than the minimum -- $50, $100, $250 -- whatever you are able to spare to the cause.The cause is important -- as former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper expressed it in the LEAP video, "The Drug War has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional social policy since slavery."

LEAP DVD promo

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6. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

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

Two stories from New York City, a cop peddling "cocaine cookies" in Alabama, a Delaware State Trooper with a drug problem, and a very, very ugly recording are on tap this week. Let's get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD officer was indicted May 18 on charges she conspired to rip off cocaine from stash houses in Manhattan, federal prosecutors announced. Officer Kirsix De La Cruz faces up to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to commit robbery. Two others, including her uncle, are also charged in a series of robberies where De La Cruz pointed out potential robbery targets to her con-conspirators. The officer became involved in the scheme after borrowing money from her uncle, who asked her if she knew someone who could help rob drug dealers. De La Cruz allegedly put her uncle in contact with a dealer who knew where the dope houses were, and the rip-off crew hit a house last July and made off with seven kilos of coke. But a snitch heard about it, the uncle went down, and he turned snitch on De La Cruz.

In New York City, two members of the New York Air National Guard pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan last Friday to conspiring to distribute Ecstasy. They admitted flying a US Air Force jet from New York to Germany to pick up 300,000 hits of the popular club drug. Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 36, and Master Sgt. John Fong, 37, detoured from an official mission to the republic of Georgia in April 2005, to go to Germany to pick up the stash, but were arrested on landing at Stewart Air National Guard base near Newburgh. As part of his plea agreement, Rodriguez forfeited $726,000 cash found in a safe in his apartment, a 2001 BMV, and $49,000 he had put down on a property in Mt. Vernon. Both men face up to 20 years in prison.

In Dothan, Alabama, a Houston County Sheriff's Department narcotics officer was arrested May 17 on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and selling a firearm to a convicted felon. Michael Campbell, 27, was arrested by FBI agents after an undercover investigation. He is accused of providing "cocaine cookies" to the same ex-felon to whom he sold a semi-automatic pistol. The ex-con was to sell the cookies, and he and Campbell were allegedly plotting for Campbell to provide him with more cookies and 1,500 hits of Ecstasy for sale. Houston County District Attorney told WTLV News 4 in Dothan that drug cases in which Campbell was involved might have to be thrown out. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

In Camden, Delaware, the unnamed trooper mentioned here last week in connection with an investigation to thefts of drugs from an evidence locker has been identified. He is State Police Sgt. Charles Mullett, who was suspended after officials learned he tried to obtain syringes at a Milford hospital on April 23. Mullett, a 19-year veteran of the force, also removed "drug evidence" from the Troop 3 evidence locker at the barracks south of Camden, the State Police announced last Friday. Mullett has not been arrested, but his case is set to go before a grand jury June 5. By Saturday, the Delaware State Troopers Association was saying Mullett had chronic service-related pain and may have become dependent on prescription drugs. (This case, depending on the facts, may make a good example of how the line between corruption and personal problems or habits can sometimes be hard to define.)

In Memphis, a remarkably disturbing audio tape has been made publicly available. Back in February 2005, we reported on the terrible ordeal of Lester Siler, a convicted drug dealer who was brutalized and tortured over the course of an afternoon by a crew of sadistic Tennessee cops. Those cops have now all gone to prison for the assault, and the tape that sealed their fate is now available. Be warned: This is nasty, sadistic stuff. Listen here if you dare.

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8. Hemp: No Farm on the Pine Ridge, Says Federal Appeals Court

A federal appeals court May 17 rejected a bid by a South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe member to grow industrial hemp crops on his land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Alex White Plume and his attorneys had argued that the Controlled Substances Act did not apply to non-psychoactive hemp and that the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 gave the Sioux control over agriculture on their land.

White Plume and his family members tried in 2000, 2001, and 2002 to grow hemp crops on their land, citing an explicit approval by the tribal council in 1998. But each year, DEA agents invaded the land and destroyed the crops. In 2002, the Justice Department sought and received a restraining order barring White Plume from planting any new crops.

The appeal to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis was a last-ditch effort to win approval for the crop. But while the three-judge panel expressed sympathy for the White Plume family, it found that growing hemp was barred under US law and that US law overrode tribal law.

"We are not unmindful of the challenges faced by members of the tribe to engage in sustainable farming on federal trust lands... And we do not doubt that there are a countless number of beneficial products which utilize hemp in some fashion," wrote Circuit Judge Arlen Beam in the unanimous opinion. "Nor do we ignore the burdens imposed by a DEA registration necessary to grow hemp legally, but these are policy arguments better suited for the congressional hearing room than the courtroom."

Much of the decision was devoted to arguments over whether Congress intended the Controlled Substances Act to apply to hemp, and while the court was open to arguments that was the case, it ultimately rejected them. "Essentially, what appellants seek from this court is an amendment of the CSA," wrote Beam. "But the proper venue for amending a statute is, of course, the duly elected legislature, equipped as it is to make these policy decisions."

Yes, and the duly elected legislature has done so well on this issue.

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9. Search and Seizure: House Bill Aiming to Lower Standards for Student Searches Introduced

A bill whose sole purpose is to lower the threshold for allowing schools to search students' lockers and bags for drugs and other contraband has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. Sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-NY), the "Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006," or HR 5295 is concerned only with changing the current "reasonable suspicion" standard for searches to the lower (and entirely fabricated) standard of "colorable suspicion."

The proposed legislation sets out findings allegedly demonstrating a real need for more searches of students, the obstacles placed in the path of would-be searchers by the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures, and a way around those obstacles based on an expansion of the logic of the Supreme Court's 2002 decision allowing schools to drug test students without any particular suspicion.

School administrators and teachers face lawsuits if they search students' lockers or possessions without reasonable suspicion, the lawmakers complained. The solution for Rep. Davis and his buddies is to lower the standards. Under the bill, school officials would be able to search a student's locker or possessions "acting on any colorable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment."

In other words, a hunch, as Students for Sensible Drug Policy put it in a release denouncing the bill. "Essentially, a teacher would need nothing more than a hunch in order to search a student's locker or possessions," the campus-based drug reform group noted. "This bill is nothing more than another attack on the constitutional rights of young people by the federal government. Students should never have to check their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door."

The bill would also force school districts to enact such policies or lose access to federal funds. If a district has not drafted policies allowing for searches based only on "colorable suspicion," it will not "receive any Safe Schools and Citizenship Education funds after fiscal year 2008."

SSDP is calling for a congressional letter-writing campaign to kill this bill now. Click here to send a pre-written letter (you can edit or rewrite it) to your representative.

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10. Latin America: Colombian Soldiers Accidentally Kill Ten Colombian Narcs

Colombian soldiers operating near the town of Jamundi in the Valle region shot and killed 10 undercover anti-drug police in a case of mistaken identity, Colombian officials said Monday. The soldiers also killed a civilian informant.

"I regret to announce that an accident occurred that resulted in the death of 10 police officers and one civilian," Defense Minister Camilo Ospina told a Bogota press conference. An inquiry has begun, he said. Those killed were members of the judicial police working on dismantling a drug trafficking operation, officials said.

This is only the latest "friendly fire" incident to befall Colombia. At least 30 police or soldiers have died in similar incidents in the last two years, the most notorious of which was the Guaitarilla shoot-out in March 2004, when soldiers killed seven policemen and four civilians. The slow-moving investigation into that incident has occasioned loud criticism and charges of cover-ups by police and the military.

President Alvaro Uribe, who stands for re-election on Sunday, called the killings "extremely serious" and urged investigators to "quickly tell the country the whole truth so this doesn't turn into another Guaitarilla." While Uribe, who is backed by the United States, is expected to emerge victorious on Sunday, at least in part because of his hard-line approach to the country's drug trade and guerrilla conflict, he has also been criticized for pushing security forces to the point that deadly mistakes occur -- like Monday's misbegotten massacre.

The United States has supported Colombia's war on coca and cocaine and, since 2002, its fight with the leftist FARC guerrillas, with about $5 billion in aid since 2000. But as much coca is being grown there as when the US funding spigot opened.

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11. Latin America: Bolivian President Wins Voluntary Limits on Coca Production

Bolivian President Evo Morales, himself a former coca growers' leader, announced last weekend that he had won an agreement with peasants in the Yungas region to voluntarily limit their coca production. The move came as part of an emerging two-pronged strategy by Morales to deal with the coca issue. On the one hand, he has signaled he will continue to go after the cocaine traffic, while on the other hand, he is seeking to normalize coca production in a country where it has a long history of traditional use.

Evo Morales, probably holding a coca branch
"Never, never will there be coca zero," he told a crowd in the Amazon town of Caranavi on Saturday. "But neither can there be unrestricted cultivation," said Morales, draped in coca leaf necklaces. "Thanks to the unions, we've got rid of the zero-coca policies. Here it's about rationalizing production," he said.

In the Yungas, coca has been grown for thousands of years, and current Bolivian law allows for 30,000 acres to be cultivated there for traditional uses. Under the agreement with the Morales government, coca farmers in Caranavi have agreed to limit their production to one "cato," or about 1,600 square meters.

"This is a voluntary eradication and many comrades have already started. It's already on the way," Rene Coromi of the FAPCCA, a local federation representing farmers of coca and other crops including tea, citrus fruits and coffee, told Reuters.

"For us, a cato sometimes does not seem enough but we will follow it because we don't want to do anything wrong by our president," said coca and coffee farmer Carmelo Olori as he waved a banner reading "Viva Coca." He said he thought the region would back Morales, who gained 90% of the vote there in the December election.

The agreement is a limited first step dealing with one part of the Yungas. No agreements have been reached with coca growers in the Chapare, where no legal production is currently allowed. Even in the Yungas, the complexities of Morales' path were made obvious when he was criticized by other coca growers for announcing the opening of a third coca market where authorized Caranavi growers can sell their leaves.

Opening new coca markets is part of Morales' larger plan to create new coca-derived products as well as boost sales of traditional nostrums like coca tea. That plan is in turn part of his effort to "revalorize" coca, or see it recognized by the international community as a valuable and legal plant. Under the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics, coca is defined as an illegal drug.

The United States is casting a wary eye on Morales' coca policies and has criticized his plans to open a third coca market. Bolivia is currently the world's number three coca producer, behind Colombia and Peru.

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12. Europe: British Report Calls for Safe Injection Sites -- Home Office to Consider

An independent working group led by Dame Ruth Runciman and including police and health officials issued a report Tuesday calling for Britain to open safe injection sites for hard drug users on a trial basis. The report has been sent to the British government's Home Office, which would initiate any such moves. A House of Commons panel rejected a similar recommendation in 2002.

Conducted by the influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the report found strong evidence that safe injection sites -- or drug consumption rooms (DCRs), as the report calls them -- save lives, reduce needle-sharing, and generally improve the well-being of injection drug users. They can also reduce public drug use and the number of discarded syringes without increasing crime or becoming foci of drug use, the report found, citing the experiences of six other European countries, as well as Australia and Canada.

"While millions of drug injections have taken place in drug consumption rooms abroad, no one has died yet from an overdose. In short, lives could be saved," said Runciman in a statement Tuesday. "Setting up and evaluating drug consumption rooms would be a rational and overdue extension to UK harm reduction policies. Well-designed and well-implemented drug consumption rooms would have an impact on some of the serious drug-related problems experienced in the UK."

According to the report, tens of thousands of heroin injections occur in public in Britain each month. The United Kingdom has the highest number of drug overdose deaths in Europe, with more than 1,300 reported in 2003.

The report recommended that pilot DCRs be set up based on local agreements with key agencies -- and with or without the support of the central government. Although some European countries have expanded from safe injection sites to accommodate heroin and cocaine smokers, the Rowntree report recommended initially limiting the DCRs to safe injection rooms. The DCRs should be integrated with local social welfare and health services, and the results carefully evaluated to determine whether the program should be expanded.

According to the report, DCRs would provide sterile syringes and other items for users who registered and brought their own drugs. Trained staff would observe and advise and be available in case of overdose, but not assist in the injection process.

The report was welcomed by Martin Barnes, director of DrugScope, a leading British drug policy center. "This carefully-considered report will test the extent to which we are able to have an informed, rational and calm debate about drugs policy and reducing drug-related harms," he said. "A policy which can save lives deserves serious consideration however controversial it may seem at first. The international evidence in favor of piloting drug consumption rooms in the UK is strong and persuasive and we particularly welcome the emphasis on local agency working and engaging with local communities."

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13. Marijuana: Smoking It Doesn't Cause Lung Cancer, Study Finds

A new study by researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine led by Dr. Donald Tashkin, a prominent marijuana researcher, has found no link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer. While smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of lung cancer, smoking marijuana did not appear to have any effect, the study found.

""We know that there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes," said Tashkin. "But we did not find any evidence for an increase in cancer risk for even heavy marijuana smoking."

The study involved more than 600 lung cancer patients, more than 600 patients with other head and neck cancers, and a control group of more than 1000 people without cancer.

Previous studies had found high levels of carcinogens in pot smoke. Given that users tend to inhale deeply, researchers theorized that they were at increased risk of cancer. But the study found that even heavy marijuana users -- more than 22,000 joints smoked -- had no elevated risk of lung cancer.

We can now add lung cancer to the seemingly endless list of things marijuana has actually not been found to cause, government claims to the contrary: axe-murdering, male breast enlargement, amotivational syndrome, brain damage, the urge to use other drugs...

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14. Law Enforcement: Drug Truth Network Awards First Tin Foil Hat Award to DEA's Tandy

The Drug Truth Network has unveiled its new Tin Foil Hat Award "for outstanding achievement in the field of outstanding" and selected its first prize-winner, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Karen Tandy. While "tin foil hats" are commonly associated with whacked-out conspiracy theorists, Drug Truth is making expansive use of the term to single out especially stupid or wrongheaded statement about drug policy and give them the attention they deserve.

Tandy is certainly an outstanding achiever when it comes to comments like that. As Drug Truth's Dean Becker notes in his award notification:

* The day she was selected to be the administrator, in response to a question about medical marijuana and the findings of the US Institute of Medicine report, Tandy proclaimed: "I don't read the peripheral reports."

* Last week she told the Houston Chronicle that when she took on the job of administrator, "I made money the number one priority. The amount of money the DEA seized each year has more than quadrupled, to $1.9 billion last year, making the DEA the rare federal agency that nearly pays for itself," she joked.

Tandy crows about taking down the "godfather" of marijuana seeds, Canada's Marc Emery, yet the entity who invented these seeds and is the true father of the seed industry is widely known to be someone much higher than Mr. Emery.

"For these and at least 1.6 million other reasons, (the number of US citizens arrested each year for bags of plant products), the Drug Truth Network hereby awards its first ever Tin Foil Hat Award to Karen P. Tandy," Becker wrote. Congratulations, Ms. Tandy.

If you have someone you think merits the award, contact Becker at Drug Truth. And prepare to get in line.

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15. Weekly: This Week in History

May 26, 1971: In tapes revealed long after his presidency ended, President Richard M. Nixon says, "You know it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it's because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there's so many, all the greatest psychiatrists are Jewish."

May 27, 1963: President Nathan M. Pusey of Harvard University announces that an assistant professor of clinical psychology and education has been fired. The man dismissed was Dr. Richard Alpert, later known as "Ram Dass."

May 28, 1994: President Clinton's appointed director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas Constantine, says in a Washington Times interview: "Many times people talk about the nonviolent drug offender. That is a rare species. There is not some sterile drug type not involved in violence -- there is no drug user who is contributing some good to the community -- they are contributing nothing but evil."

May 28, 2001: Notimex News Agency reports that Mexican congressman Gregorio Urias German has called for the legalization of the drug trade.

May 29, 1969: The Canadian government forms the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical use of Drugs, which ultimately issues the famed LeDain report, recommending that simple possession of cannabis and cultivation for personal use be permitted.

May 31, 1996: Psychedelic guru Timothy Leary dies.

May 31, 2000: Lions Gate Films releases Grass, the Woody Harrelson-narrated/Ron Mann-directed documentary about the history of marijuana in 20th century America.

June 1, 1996: Actor and hemp activist Woody Harrelson is arrested and charged with cultivation of fewer than five marijuana plants after planting four industrial hemp seeds in full view of Lee County Sheriff William Kilburn in Lexington, Kentucky.

June 1, 1998: A well-publicized letter signed by more than 600 international leaders and high-profile, influential professionals from various fields is written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to reconsider "failed and futile drug war policies" as the signers believe the war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself. The signatories call for opening the debate to alternative approaches to drug abuse based on common sense, science, public health and human rights.

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16. Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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

May 26, 7:00-9:00pm, Vancouver, BC, "The Devastation of Prohibition: Bearing Witness to the Personal and Social Harms of the Drug War," sponsored by Creative Resistance, the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. At the Unitarian Church, 49th & Oak St., admission free.

May 27, 6:00-9:00pm, Spokane, WA, "Set Up to Fail," play by Justice Works! of Lake Stevens. At Gonzaga Law School Moot Courtroom, 721 North Cincinnati, visit for info.

May 28, 12:30-3:00pm, Colville, WA, "Set Up to Fail," play by Justice Works! of Lake Stevens. At "Our House," 282 West Astor, visit for info.

June 2-4, Marysville, CA, 4th Annual California Music that Matters Festival, benefit for Americans for Safe Access, California NORML and the Dr. Stephen Banister Legal Defense Fund, featuring music, camping, health fair, vendors and more. At the Mervyns Riverfront Pavilion, admission $60 for three days with camping or $30 for one day with no camping. Visit or call (530) 346-2763 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. >June 4, 6:30pm, New York, NY, William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice Ten Year Anniversary celebration and Racial Justice Awards Ceremony, featuring hosts Danny Glover and Amy Goodman, and Lifetime Freedom Fighter Award recipient Harry Belafonte. At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Synod Hall, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 110th St., visit or contact (212) 924-6980 or [email protected] for further information.

June 12, 6:00-9:30pm, New York, NY, MPP Awards Gala. At Capitale, 130 Bowery, featuring Medeski Martin & Wood, tickets $250 if purchased by May 22 or $300, $500 VIP. Visit for further information.

June 13, 7:00-9:00pm, Lawrence Township, NJ, Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey Public Meeting. At the Mercer County Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike (corner of Darrah Lane & Business Route 1), room #3, light refreshments served, all welcome. For further information visit or contact Ken Wolski at (609) 394-2137 or [email protected].

July 4, Washington, DC, Fourth of July Rally, sponsored by the Fourth of July Hemp Coalition. At Lafayette Park, call (202) 251-4492 or visit for further information.

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

July 15-20, Chicago, IL, "Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society," free summer seminar for college students, sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies. At Loyola University, visit by April 10 for information or to apply -- apply before March 31 and receive a free book.

July 20-23, Vancouver, BC, Canada, "Fourth Biennial International Meaning Conference on Addiction," contact Dr. Paul T.P. Wong at [email protected] or visit for information.

July 21, 7:00pm, Washington, DC, "Race to Incarcerate," book talk with The Sentencing Project's Marc Mauer. At Politics & Prose bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, visit 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.

October 7-8, Madison, WI, 36th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, sponsored by Madison NORML. At the Library Mall, downtown, 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].

February 1-3, 2007, Salt Lake City, UT, "Science & Response: 2007, The Second National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis," sponsored by the Harm Reduction Project. At the Hilton City Center, visit for info.

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