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Drug War Chronicle #494 - July 20, 2007

1. Editorial: Why Should the Drug Czar's Office Even Exist?

Catching the drug czar's office in deceptions, misconduct, and generally inexplicable behavior is getting to be like shooting fish in a barrel. What is the evidence to justify the agency's existence at all?

2. Feature: In Spreading Scandal Over White House Political Operations, House Panel Head Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Electioneering

Citing smoking-gun memos between White House political staffers and the drug czar's office, the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday accused the Bush administration of politicizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy. And they're deposing witnesses.

3. Feature: Pain Doctor and Patient Advocates Get a Congressional Hearing… Finally

For the first time in more than a decade, the DEA came under congressional scrutiny last week for its interference in the practice of medicine. Pain patient and doctor advocates got a chance to tell a congressional committee about the crisis in chronic pain and how the DEA gets in the way.

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

A New York City cop helps drug dealers rip off other drug dealers, a North Carolina cop builds a really impressive bad cop resume, a former North Carolina sheriff can't account for much of his evidence, and an Indiana cop gets a slap on the wrist for stealing from a drug suspect.

5. Medical Marijuana: DEA, ONDCP Take Flak on Dispensary Raids, Research Obstacles in House Committee Hearing

DEA and ONDCP functionaries got a grilling on medical marijuana issues at a House subcommittee hearing last week.

6. Marijuana: Drug Czar Calls Pot Growers Dangerous Terrorists

Drug czar John Walters suffered a severe bout of rhetorical excess last Thursday at a press conference in Northern California, claiming that marijuana growers are violent criminal terrorists who would not hesitate to help foreign terrorists enter the country and inflict mass casualties.

7. Medical Marijuana: ONDCP Claims Steve Kubby Has Changed His Mind, Kubby Says No Way!

The drug czar's office told Congress that California medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby had changed his tune. Kubby begs to differ.

8. Drug Use: One in 12 US Workers Uses Drugs, SAMHSA Says

One out of 12 full-time workers in the US reported using drugs within the past month, according to survey data released by SAMHSA.

9. Harm Reduction: Jersey City Signs Up for Needle Exchange

The Jersey City City Council voted Wednesday for an ordinance allowing the city to participate in a pilot needle exchange program. It's the fifth Garden State city to do so since Gov. Corzine signed a needle exchange bill in December.

10. Southwest Asia: Afghan Poppy Crop Sets New Record, US Ambassador Says

The 2007 Afghan opium poppy crop has set another record, the US ambassador conceded this week. All the more reason to embark on forced eradication, he said.

11. Europe: Britain to Review Marijuana's Classification, Could Be Moved Back to Tougher Drug Schedule

New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Tuesday that his government will seek a review of marijuana's status as a Class C drug -- with an eye toward moving it back to the more serious Class B.

12. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

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.

13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Time for the Drug Czar to Resign, Sen. Coburn Thinks Police Should Shoot Drug Suspects in the Back, Clinton Promises to End Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, The Difference Between Pot Growers and Terrorists, Rudy Giuliani's Position on OxyContin and Pain Management Is Correct , When Oversight Means Oversight: Waxman Goes After Walters for Politicizing His Office, more...

14. Web Scan

World Politics Review on Colombia fumigation, The Nation on pardons for drug offenders, American Prospect on crack sentencing reform prospects, The Hill, Ibogaine in Barcelona, DrugTruth Network, Belgium drug consumption rooms video, France marijuana study

15. Weekly: This Week in History

Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past.

16. Job Opportunity: Research and Policy Associate, Vera Institute of Justice, DC

The Vera Institute of Justice seeks a research and policy associate to work in its Washington DC Office.

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Support the cause by featuring automatically-updating Drug War Chronicle and other DRCNet content links on your web site!

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A new way for you to receive DRCNet articles -- Drug War Chronicle and more -- is now available.

19. Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

Visit our new web site each day to see a running countdown to the events coming up the soonest, and more.

1. Editorial: Why Should the Drug Czar's Office Even Exist?

David Borden, Executive Director

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David Borden
The frequency of inappropriate or dishonest (or strange) behavior by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (the drug czar's office) seems to be increasing. Last month, DRCNet Blog Editor Scott Morgan and I were wondering at the growing inanity of ONDCP's "anti-drug" ads, which has reached a point where we don't think even ONDCP could really believe they could work. Bizarre productions comparing smoking marijuana with putting leeches on your body, or suggesting if you smoke pot then an alien might steal your girlfriend, were themselves trumped by "Stoners in the Mist," a fake documentary video posted on ONDCP's AboveTheInfluence.com web site featuring the fictional character "Dr. Barnard Puck," who performs various experiments on marijuana users to test their behavior and reflexes. It's really hard to see this slickly-produced video as making any positive or meaningful contribution to anything. How much of our money did they spend to create it? I suggested that maybe they've admitted to themselves that the ads just don't work and can't be made to work, and have decided to go wild and have fun with any looney idea they can come up with while the money lasts.

On the honesty front, professors Robinson and Scherlen provided an embarrassment of riches in the form of their recently-released book Lies, Damn Lies, and Drug War Statistics, which documents in detail the misleading presentations of data ONDCP has made in their annual National Drug Control Strategy reports to create an appearance of an effective drug policy when in reality the policy has proven itself completely ineffective. David Murray, a high-level ONDCP official who is involved with the statistics, professed offense and indignation at a book forum hosted by the Cato Institute where he confronted the authors, artfully playing the part of an injured victim whose integrity has been unfairly maligned.

The details don't support that act, of course, and Murray's most recent public statement demonstrates his true stripes. In testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security last week, Murray offered as evidence against the legitimacy of medical marijuana the claim that Steve Kubby, a prominent medical marijuana advocate, had reversed his position. In a response distributed by email, Kubby vehemently denied the claim, and demonstrated how Murray had taken his words out of context to create an appearance about them that is completely false.

Strange, but not the only strange words to come out of ONDCP recently. According to a news report from Redding, California: "John P. Walters, President Bush's drug czar, said the people who plant and tend the gardens are terrorists who wouldn't hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties."

WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?

When I saw the article, my first reaction was to wonder if Walters' presentation could have been misconstrued by the reporter, as it was not a direct quote, but a description. The direct quotes from Walters were offensive enough. But this particular idea just seemed too far out to me for even Walters to be willing to go there. I emailed the reporter to ask about this, but I haven't heard back from him, so I guess I can't say for sure. But I think we should give the reporter the benefit of the doubt, absent any evidence to the contrary. And a post on ONDCP's blog links to the Redding story, and calls it a "good story," suggesting they don't consider it inaccurate. The blog post has been online and unmodified now for six days, plenty of time for the higher-ups to catch anything they considered inappropriate.

Let's all agree that marijuana growers are out to make money, and therefore want most of all to remain undetected and to go about their business. Hence, they have a strong disincentive to get involved in anything that might attract attention to them, including supporting international terrorism targeting the United States. (I can't believe that even needed to be said.)

ONDCP week isn't over yet, though, we still have one more really big one. On Tuesday Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Operations and Government Reform Committee, accused ONDCP of engaging in electioneering last fall by sending drug czar Walters to make public appearances with Republican Representatives and Senators who were facing tough reelection campaigns. The evidence, which involves communications between Karl Rove, former White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor and ONDCP staff, seems pretty compelling to me, at first glance at least. Of course, as drug reformers we know Walters has violated the law to campaign against marijuana reform ballot initiatives many times.

That's a political scandal. The policy scandal is that the agency continues to fund and lobby for programs which they know do not work. From the ad campaign and student drug testing, to Plan Colombia and the drug war as a whole, the evidence clearly shows we're not getting our money's worth, or maybe any worth. Putting that together with the nonsense constantly emanating from the agency -- misrepresentations of facts, violations of state and federal election laws, ads and quotes that can be truly wild and strange -- this seems like a good time to ask whether ONDCP should exist at all. What are we really getting from this agency that's worth keeping? Even people who agree with the drug laws ought to be taken aback at ONDCP's behavior by now.

Catching ONDCP in lies or lunacy or misconduct is getting to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

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2. Feature: In Spreading Scandal Over White House Political Operations, House Panel Head Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Electioneering

The ever-broadening scandal over White House political operatives' involvement in what are supposed to be non-partisan activities within the federal government engulfed the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office) this week. On Tuesday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the powerful chair of the House Operations and Government Reform Committee, accused ONDCP of electioneering on behalf of vulnerable Republican senators and congressmen in the run-up to last November's elections. Waxman is calling for a former high White House staffer to provide a deposition to the committee next week and to be prepared to appear before the committee as early as July 30.

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John Walters -- BUSTED
According to documents made available in a report on the committee web site, former White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor asked drug czar John Walters and his deputies to attend 31 pre-election events at taxpayer expense where ONDCP's drug-fighting mission commingled with the Republican Party's efforts to retain its hold on Congress. In many cases, the trips were combined with grant announcements or other actions designed to benefit the districts of Republican incumbents. In a post-election memo from Taylor to former ONDCP White House liaison Doug Simon, Taylor recounted how ONDCP had managed to make 20 of the "suggested participation" events on the list.

An email from Doug Simon responding to Taylor's post-election memo only added more ammunition for Waxman and other critics of the White House's politicization of federal agencies and activities. In it, Simon summarized a meeting he had with White House political guru Karl Rove.

"I just wanted to give you all a summary of a post November 7th update I received the other night. Presidential personnel pulled together a meeting of all of the Administration's White House Liaisons and the WH Political Affairs office," Simon wrote. "Karl Rove opened the meeting with a thank you for all of the work that went into the surrogate appearances by Cabinet members and for the 72 Hour deployment. He specifically thanked, for going above and beyond the call of duty, the Dept. of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture, AND the WH Drug Policy Office. This recognition is not something we hear everyday and we should feel confident that our hard work is noticed. All of this is due to our efforts preparing the Director and the Deputies for their trips and events. Director Walters and the Deputies covered thousands of miles to attend numerous official events all across the country. The Director and the Deputies deserve the most recognition because they actually had to give up time with their families for the god awful places we sent them."

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Henry Waxman
In a Tuesday letter to Taylor asking her to voluntarily appear to be deposed on the politicization of what are supposed to be nonpartisan government agencies, Waxman noted that the ONDCP travel schedule hardly appeared to be nonpartisan.

"The list of Republican officials named in your memo reads like a roster of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress seeking reelection in 2006," Waxman wrote. "Your memo identifies 29 events with 26 Republican office-holders. Assessments by political analyst Charlie Cook in October and November 2006 considered the re-election races of 23 of the 26 candidates identified in your memo as 'competitive;' 15 of the races were listed as 'toss-ups.' Your list included eleven Republican candidates who lost, ten who won their races with less than 53% of the vote, and two who won by fewer than 1100 votes. You included no Democrats or Independents in your memo of suggested travel by the ONDCP Director."

ONDCP has traditionally been a nonpartisan office. A 1994 law bars agency officials from engaging in political activities even on their own time, and certainly on the taxpayers' dime.

In 2003, thanks to a challenge to the drug czar's campaigning against a Nevada ballot initiative by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the US Office of Special Counsel held that the drug czar is subject to the strictures of the Hatch Act, which prohibits partisan politicking by federal government employees. The ruling did little immediate good for MPP -- the special counsel held the ban did not apply to non-partisan initiatives -- but would appear to be applicable in the present instance.

Critics of the politicization of the drug czar's office were shocked, shocked, they tell you. "This is shocking evidence that the Drug Czar, John Walters, and President Bush were scratching each other's backs," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Walters used taxpayer money to campaign for Republicans, while President Bush ignored the agency's failures and increased funding for programs his own analysts determined were ineffective."

The recently released memos and e-mails are only the latest evidence that ONDCP uses taxpayer money to influence voters. During a 2000 federal lawsuit, evidence surfaced showing that ONDCP created its billion dollar anti-marijuana TV ad campaign to influence voters to reject state medical marijuana ballot measures. The drug czar and his staff are also routinely accused of using taxpayer money to travel to states in order to convince voters and legislators to reject drug policy reform.

"How long will the drug czar use taxpayer money to influence voters before Congress takes action?," asked Piper.

"ONDCP is charged with developing effective strategies to reduce drug abuse and the problems associated with it," said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). "Instead, under the leadership of political appointee John P. Walters, ONDCP has illegally wasted time and resources pursuing ideological agendas and partisan politics."

In light of the latest evidence of ONDCP misconduct, SSDP is calling for Walters's resignation. The group has created a sign-on letter to be sent to Walters and his congressional overseers where people who agree that Walters should resign can get their message out.

The Marijuana Policy Project has long complained about ONDCP's interference in state initiative campaigns, and was little surprised by the latest revelations. "These 2006 campaign trips were nothing new," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston. "Walters and his deputies have been using tax dollars to interfere in state election campaigns since at least 2002, which is why we filed a Hatch Act complaint that December."

And so there's lots more to find on the ONDCP front, according to Houston, if investigators care to look for it. "John Walters is a serial lawbreaker," he said. "The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is now investigating some particularly blatant violations, but the only reason Walters has been getting away with it for so long is that until now the White House investigated itself."

What a difference a congressional election makes. With Democrats in charge and more than willing to probe the Bush administration's dealings, ONDCP is now squarely in the sights of congressional investigators.

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3. Feature: Pain Doctor and Patient Advocates Get a Congressional Hearing… Finally

For the first time in more than a decade, the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) heavy-handed intrusion into the field of medicine came under congressional scrutiny last week. The broad-ranging review of the DEA's regulation of medicine came at a July 12 hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security chaired by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

While the hearing also included testimony and members' questions about the DEA's role in pursuing medical marijuana dispensaries and blocking marijuana research (see this newsbrief), as well as its apparent underestimation of the amount of pseudoephedrine needed for legitimate commercial and medicinal uses, testimony by Siobhan Reynolds of the pain patients and doctors advocacy group Pain Relief Network and attorney and chronic pain advocate John Flannery put the issue of the federal prosecutions of doctors who prescribe high-dose opioid pain medications front and center.

The hearings gained an added sense of timeliness the following day, when nationally-known pain management physician Dr. William Hurwitz was sentenced to five years in prison on drug trafficking charges. Hurwitz had originally been sentenced to 25 years in prison, but his original verdict was overturned and he was convicted of 16 drug trafficking counts in an April retrial. While pain patient advocates and Hurwitz supporters believe he should never have been convicted at all, they viewed the much shorter sentence -- which with time-served could see Hurwitz free in 17 months -- as a victory of sorts.

Still, Hurwitz remains behind bars for what is at best laxness in dealing with some patients who lied to him and resold drugs he prescribed them for chronic pain. As such, he is emblematic of the growing number of physicians who have been persecuted and prosecuted by the Justice Department and the DEA, as well as state-level prosecutors who have taken their lead from the feds.

"The subcommittee has received numerous complaints about the DEA's regulation of medicine," said Rep. Scott as he opened the hearing. Turning to prescription drug abuse, Scott noted that, "When it was first introduced, OxyContin abuse became rampant in such areas as Appalachia and rural New England. DEA responded by adopting the OxyContin action plan, which involved prosecuting medical doctors who prescribed high doses of painkillers. The DEA claims that this policy was not intended to impact the availability of legitimate drugs necessary to treat patients; however, the evidence suggests that the DEA's decision to prosecute doctors has created a chilling effect within the medical community, so that some doctors are unwilling to prescribe pain medication in sufficiently high doses to treat their patients. The result is that many Americans live with chronic untreated pain."

The first witness was DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Diversion Control Joseph Rannazzisi, who immediately took issue with the notion that the DEA was trying to regulate medicine. "The title of this hearing, 'DEA's Regulation of Medicine,' is inaccurate," he complained. "DEA does not regulate medicine or the practice of medicine. DEA does investigate violations of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of the source of the violation, be it a Colombian cocaine dealer, a marijuana trafficker or a doctor who abuses the authority to dispense controlled substances."

Saying that DEA considered the diversion of prescription drugs one of its most significant challenges, Rannazzissi said "small numbers of unscrupulous doctors" were part of the problem. Still, he said, the agency wasn't targeting doctors. "Generally speaking, in any given year, DEA arrests less than 0.01 percent of the 750,000 doctors registered with DEA for a criminal violation. More often than not, those violations are egregious in nature and are acts clearly outside the usual course of accepted medical standards."

That brought a sharp retort from the Pain Relief Network's Reynolds, whose life-partner, Sean Greenwood was a former Hurwitz patient who died last year as the family crisscrossed the country searching for a doctor who would treat his chronic pain, during her subsequent testimony. "The DEA contends that they only prosecute 0.01 percent of registrants," she said. "However, that's a misleading figure, because a very small number of registrants prescribe opioid medicines and an even smaller number would prescribe in doses that would relieve serious pain."

"So the actual number of doctors who are arrested is far greater, when you look at the correct denominator, which this leads me to my next point, which I think is really the most important point," Reynolds continued. "This is a government agency that plays fast and loose with the facts, uses incredibly inflammatory rhetoric, talks about crime and addiction and dependence and puts them all together and maybe has no cognizance of the fact that this all ultimately falls on and stigmatizes very, very sick people. But that is in fact what happens."

When it came his turn to testify, Flannery, a former prosecutor and congressional staffer and author of "Pain in America -- And How the Government Makes It Worse," took issue with Rannazzisi's taking issue with the hearing's title. "The title of the hearing, which is the regulation of medicine by DEA is, unfortunately, an apt one," Flannery retorted. "DEA has been regulating medicine, and for them to come here and say that they don't know it means that they either are consciously doing it or recklessly doing it. And I can't believe they're doing it recklessly, because we see the quality of people who work at the department. And that means there's an ideological purpose in regulating medicine. They do not approve of certain medical practices. And, if that is it, they should bring it to the Congress and tell us why, with statistics and explanations, because then it should be a formal policy rather than the secret one that it is presently."

Flannery accused DEA and the Justice Department of "bait and switch" tactics. The legal standard for criminal prosecution of doctors is that they have to be acting outside the course of professional medicine with the intent to push drugs, not treat patients, Flannery noted. "They create these standards on a case-by-case basis," Flannery said. "And how do they do that? They bring a doctor into the courtroom that they pay, who travels around the country, and the standard is created on a case-by-case basis by the DEA doctor."

Determinations of what constitutes criminal conduct by doctors -- as opposed to simple malpractice -- are better left to state medical boards, Flannery said under sympathetic questioning from Rep. Scott.

Ranking minority member Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) carried water for the Bush administration, asking whether marijuana should be legalized, worrying about teen prescription drug overdoses and "pharma parties," and asking about marijuana growing in national forests, while Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) provided inadvertent comic relief. Gohmert wandered into the hearing room, announced that voters in his district didn't support marijuana legalization, then launched into a bizarre tale about a bag of sterilized marijuana seeds from which some seedlings sprouted he had seen in a court case once before retreating back into silence.

While last week's hearing marked the first oversight of the DEA's regulation of medicine in more than a decade, it wasn't enough, Reynolds told the Chronicle. "Although I submitted written testimony, we were limited to five minutes, so I spent my time basically explaining how offended I was at the farcical nature of the DEA and ONDCP testimony, denying the possibility of a chilling effect on physicians."

"This is a step on a slow journey toward enlightenment," Flannery told the Chronicle. "In Jerrold Nadler and Bobby Scott, you can't find two better lawyers who are sensitive to these issues, but the Congress is immersed in lots of other business, and it takes a lot to move members from their preconceived notions of what the drug war is about. Very few understand this is about the government invading medicine -- not prosecuting drug dealers. We will have to turn around an ocean liner in order to get action."

But hearings like last week's are a first step. "I've asked for more hearings, but I'm not getting the impression that's the next step," said Reynolds, who was invited to testify by Rep. Nadler. "What I've been told is that we need to educate the Congress. We've been doing that, but there seem to be a lot of closed ears on this issue. Still, more and more, there is some awareness that this is a terrible problem."

Reynolds added that she and others are working with the committee to seek legislation that would ease the DEA pressure on pain doctors. "Both Nadler and Bobby Scott showed real concern and came up afterward and asked what they can do."

Nadler spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chronicle Thursday that Nadler is looking into the matter. "He's very interested in the issue, but I haven't heard anything specific about new legislation yet," Inouye said.

There is a long way to go before America's estimated 40 to 70 million chronic pain patients and the doctors who seek to treat them can live without the fear of the DEA, but last week's hearing was a good -- if insufficient -- beginning, and lays the groundwork for further action.

The written testimony of all witnesses at the hearing is available online here.

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

Bad cops, bad cops, whatcha gonna do? A New York City cop helps drug dealers rip off other drug dealers, a North Carolina cop builds a really impressive bad cop resume, a former North Carolina sheriff can't account for much of his evidence, and an Indiana cop gets a slap on the wrist for stealing from a drug suspect. Let's get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD officer faces federal drug conspiracy charges for allegedly helping a gang of drug dealers rip off other drug dealers. Officer Darren Moonan was arrested July 8 on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit robberies of drugs and drug money over a seven-month period beginning last December. Moonan and his five fellow co-conspirators allegedly netted at least $810,000 in cash and 200 pounds of marijuana in its robberies of competing drug dealers. Moonan is also accused of using his badge to avoid searches and driving stolen drug money away from the scenes of the crimes. He faces up to 60 years in prison.

In Edenton, North Carolina, an Edenton police officer was arrested July 10 for planting drug evidence on innocent people. Officer Michael Aaron Davidson was charged with altering evidence in a criminal investigation for repeatedly planting crack pipes on a man he arrested when a member of the Kinston Police Department back in 2000. Davidson was investigated but never arrested, and left the Kinston department during the initial investigation. According to the SBI, Davidson has been investigated numerous times over allegations of missing money, excessive use of force, and planting evidence (three other times). He was also investigated but not charged in a case where more than $2,000 in seized drug cash went missing. Davidson only went down now because another Edenton cop, Police Officer Nichole Gardner, got busted on Oxycontin charges and decided to mention that she had seen Davidson planting evidence.

In Asheville, North Carolina, a criminal investigation is underway into evidence handling in the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office after an audit showed that cash, guns, and drugs had gone missing. Former Sheriff Bobby Medford, who was in office for 12 years, is in the hot seat over either sloppy or crooked evidence handling during his tenure. According to an audit, at least $217,000 in seized cash could not be accounted for, nor could 337 firearms. In addition, marijuana, cocaine, and pills listed on 1,138 evidence entry sheets have gone missing.

In Evansville, Indiana, a former Evansville Police officer has been sentenced for stealing money from a drug suspect. Former officer Gerald Rainey, a highly decorated veteran, was charged in April after admitting to stealing money from a backpack seized during the arrest of a suspect on an outstanding drug warrant. He plea-bargained to one count of theft and was sentenced July 13 to 18 months probation and 80 hours of community service. The felony conviction means Rainey will not be able to work again as a police officer.

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5. Medical Marijuana: DEA, ONDCP Take Flak on Dispensary Raids, Research Obstacles in House Committee Hearing

A House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security hearing on July 12 saw representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) grilled by Democratic congressmen, including committee chair Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), on the administration's attacks on medical marijuana in states where it is legal and on the administration's stalling the request of University of Massachusetts researcher to be able to grow medical marijuana for research purposes.

(The same hearing also saw pain patient advocates get a chance to tell the committee about the DEA's prosecutions of pain doctors -- see feature story here -- and written testimony from an ONDCP official claiming a leading medical marijuana advocate no longer supported medical marijuana -- see newsbrief here).

Testifying before the committee on medical marijuana issues were the DEA's Joseph Rannizzisi, ONDCP chief scientist Dr. David Murray, and Valerie Corral, cofounder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a California dispensary raided by the DEA in 2002.

Murray was in typical form, telling the committee "it is not the medical community who identifies a need out there for a smoked weed to alleviate pain and suffering." Instead, Murray said, "this is an issue that is pushed overwhelmingly by legalization advocates for marijuana who fund initiatives and referenda in various states, trying to push through what we think is a troubling development." In his written testimony to the committee, Murray called medical marijuana advocates "modern-day snake oil proponents."

Murray went on to charge that marijuana has not been found to be effective as a medicine, that there is better stuff available, and that the weed could even be "harmful for those for whom it was intended to be a healing device."

That prompted Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to interrupt Murray's testimony to ask if he thought marijuana were as dangerous as nicotine, which in turn prompted Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) to denounce Nadler for talking out of turn. After a brief procedural scuffle, Murray adeptly deflected Nadler's pointed question.

WAMM's Corral was up next, telling the committee about how WAMM began as a small collective garden to serve its members -- people who benefited from marijuana as medicine -- and that those people were not lying. "It is not that we wish to break the law, for surely we do not," she said. "We've made every effort to change it. What we ask here today is that you stop the aggressive antics of the DEA against sick and dying people, because that is what we are. Stop the raids. Allow research to continue. Allow the research to continue that the DEA is blocking in the [University of Massachusetts researcher Lyle] Craker case, for instance, because only you can do that."

Committee chair Bobby Scott turned up the heat during later questioning of the witnesses. "I'd like to ask, I guess, Dr. Murray, in terms of policy, what the public policy imperative it is to deny terminally ill patients the right to marijuana, if they believe that it's going to help them, they believe that it reduces pain, terminally ill patients?"

Unsatisified with Murray's response, which basically reprised his earlier testimony, Scott continued to dog him: "Well, if they want it and they're terminally ill, what scientific studies have you had to show the effectiveness of marijuana? What scientific studies have you had? Do you have a list that you can supply to the committee?"

After going around with an evasive Murray, Scott settled for a promise from the ONDCP functionary to respond with written testimony.

Nor was the chairman pleased with Murray's non-response to his question about the problems UMass professor Lyle Craker was having getting his request to grow marijuana for research purposes approved. Rep. Nadler also jumped on Murray about obstacles facing medical marijuana researchers.

"Marijuana is the only controlled substance currently for which the federal government maintains a monopoly on the supply for use by scientists conducting research, even though federal law requires competition in the production of research-grade, schedule-one substances, such as research-grade heroin, LSD, ecstasy and cocaine," Nadler said. "Can you please tell us marijuana, as a comparatively harmless drug, compared to these other substances, is the only controlled substance for which the federal government maintains a monopoly on the supply made available to researchers? In other words, why is it different than heroin, ecstasy, LSD, et cetera?"

Murray had no substantive response to Nadler's question, a posture the congressman qualified as "evasive," and DEA's Rannazzisi fared little better. "They've refused the supply for basically every researcher. They've basically cut off medical research with respect to marijuana," Nadler pushed.

"I don't believe that's the case," Ranazzisi responded. "If you look at my testimony..."

"I won't debate that with you because it's clearly the case," an annoyed Nadler retorted.

Nadler went on to pepper Ranazzisi about when the DEA is going to get around to moving on the Craker application, without getting a straight answer.

With Democrats in control of the Congress, some of the right questions are finally being asked of the drug war bureaucrats. We may not like the answers we are hearing, but at least the questions are being asked and the drug warriors are on notice.

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6. Marijuana: Drug Czar Calls Pot Growers Dangerous Terrorists

In a bout of rhetorical excess unusual even for the nation's drug czar, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) head John Walters called California marijuana growers "violent criminals" and "terrorists" who wouldn't think twice about helping foreign terrorists enter the country to cause mass casualties. Walters made his remarks at a June 12 press conference in Redding, California as he lauded paramilitarized teams of law enforcement personnel conducting raids on marijuana grows on public lands in Shasta County.

People need to get over their "reefer blindness" and realize that drugs "fund terror and violence," Walters said in remarks reported by the Redding Record-Searchlight. As for pot growers tending crops on public land in the area: "These people are armed, they're dangerous," Walters said, calling them "violent criminal terrorists."

Upon reflection, the ONDCP noted the following day in its blog that Walter's comments were all good. "Do you have Reefer Blindness?" the blog post asked, qualifying the Redding Record-Searchlight story as "a good story" and displaying no second thoughts about Walters' incendiary rhetoric.

Unfortunately, no reporters present at the Walters press event challenged him on the role of marijuana prohibition in promoting violence or pushing marijuana growers onto public lands. Nor did anyone challenge him to present the least scintilla of evidence for his claim that marijuana growers would happily aid and abet Al Qaeda-style terrorists in attacking their fellow citizens. That is a good thing for Walters, because there simply isn't any.

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7. Medical Marijuana: ONDCP Claims Steve Kubby Has Changed His Mind, Kubby Says No Way!

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) used testimony submitted to Congress last week to misrepresent the position of Steve Kubby, a leading California medical marijuana advocate. Kubby acted this week to denounce the deception and clarify his continuing support for medical marijuana.

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Steve Kubby
In written testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Dr. David Murray, ONDCP's Chief Scientist called medical marijuana advocates "modern-day snake oil proponents," sneered at medicines that make patients "feel good," and claimed that laws okaying medical marijuana in a dozen states have led to "abuse, confusion, and crime." Then, to further buttress his argument against the therapeutic use of the herb, he added:

"Founding proponents of medical marijuana in the United States have reversed their key positions of support for medical marijuana. Rev. Scott Imler, Co-founder of Prop 215, has lamented the passage of California's medical marijuana law stating that, 'We created Prop. 215 so that patients would not have to deal with black market profiteers. But today it is all about the money. Most of the dispensaries operating in California are little more than dope dealers with store fronts.' Imler also said that medical marijuana has 'turned into a joke.' Steve Kubby, another Co-founder of medical marijuana in California stated in a letter to supporters on April 14th, 2006 that 'Marinol is an acceptable, if not ideal, substitute for whole cannabis in treating my otherwise fatal disease.' (Alternatives magazine, Fall, 2006 Issue 39, San Gabriel Valley Tribune 2/07, Message from Steve Kubby, Steve Kubby Released After Serving 62 Days in Jail, April 14th, 2006)"

Imler, a founder of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, which was raided and shut down by the DEA in 2001, has not taken exception to Murray's portrayal of his position -- after all, Murray accurately transcribed his words from the year-old magazine article. But Kubby, who was forced to resort to Marinol while jailed for two months in California, certainly took umbrage.

"My comments about Marinol were based upon my relief that I did not die in jail," he wrote in an email to supporters. "My comment was intended to acknowledge that I did get good blood pressure control with the Marinol and that finding certainly deserves further study. On the other hand, I lost 33 pounds in 62 days while on Marinol, so perhaps I should have used stronger language than 'less than ideal.'"

Kubby suffered from almost constant nausea while on Marinol, he wrote, adding that Murray took his sentence about Marinol out of context. The paragraph from which it was extracted reads as follows: "During that time I experienced excruciating pain, a vicious high blood-pressure crisis, passed blood in my urine and I lost 33 pounds. However, there was also good news. I learned that Marinol is an acceptable, if not ideal, substitute for whole cannabis in treating my otherwise fatal disease. Now I am a free man and I am profoundly grateful to be alive and to have friends and supporters such as you."

While conceding that Marinol can be effective for treatment of hypertension and would allow him to travel briefly without medical marijuana, it does not allow him to have an acceptable quality of life, Kubby said.

"Please help me squash this deceptive and dangerous misrepresentation of my true feeling on this matter by the ONDCP," Kubby wrote. "It just shows how desperate they are that they must mislead people in this way. And just so there is no question about this, let me be clear: Whole cannabis is not only the best medicine for me, it is the only medicine that has kept me alive during the 32 years that I have continued to live, in relatively good heath, despite a terminal diagnosis of malignant pheochromocytoma."

With Murray and ONDCP, it's sort of like that old country song title: "Who Are You Going to Believe -- Me or Your Lying Eyes?"

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8. Drug Use: One in 12 US Workers Uses Drugs, SAMHSA Says

One out of every 12 full-time workers in the United States used an illegal drug in the past month, according to survey data released Monday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey indicated that 8.2% of full-time workers -- or 9.4 million people, including 7.3 million marijuana smokers -- were past-month illegal drug users.

The survey also found that about 10.1 million full-time workers were heavy alcohol users, defined as downing five drinks at a time at least five times a month. Although SAMSHA's inclusion of past-month drug users with heavy alcohol drinkers suggests an equivalence between the two groups, that is not borne out by its estimates of dependence or abuse among the two. Of the 9.4 million illegal drug users, less than a third met SAMSHA's dependency or abuse criteria -- which undoubtedly overstate the number of problem substance users -- while the number dependent on alcohol or who abused alcohol was 10.5 million -- more than the number identified as heavy drinkers.

The report found the highest rates of current illicit drug use were among food service workers (17.4%) and construction workers (15.1%). Highest rates of current heavy alcohol use were found among construction, mining, excavation and drilling workers (17.8%), and installation, maintenance, and repair workers (14.7%). Public security workers, librarians, and health workers had the lowest rates of illegal drug use.

Other, unsurprising, findings: Young people were more likely to be illegal drug users or heavy drinkers, and drug users were less likely to work for employers who had drug testing programs.

Government anti-drug officials used the survey data release to raise alarms about workplace drug use and call for expanded drug testing. "Substance abuse is a serious problem for the health, wellbeing and productivity of everyone in the workplace," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline.

"Employees who use drugs miss work more often, are less healthy, and are more prone to harming themselves and others in the workplace," said drug czar John Walters. "We hope that employers will take note of this report and consider implementing workplace drug testing policies that can help prevent drug use before it starts, help identify drug-using employees who need drug treatment services and also reduce employers' liability from drug-related workplace accidents."

"The high rates of drug and alcohol use in hazardous industries is cause for concern," said Elena Carr, drug policy coordinator at the US Department of Labor (DOL). "Clearly businesses can ill-afford the risk of having workers operating meat slicers, backhoes, or other dangerous equipment while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is one reason why DOL helps employers and employees work together to proactively prevent such safety hazards."

Of course, admitting to past month drug use or heavy drinking does not necessarily equate to "operating… dangerous equipment under the influence of alcohol or drugs." While the people paid to send out anti-drug messages see only danger, an alternative reading of the data could suggest that millions of American workers manage to hold down jobs despite smoking a joint on the weekend or perhaps drinking too much.

The report is Worker Substance Use and Workplace Policies and Programs.

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9. Harm Reduction: Jersey City Signs Up for Needle Exchange

The Jersey City, New Jersey, City Council Wednesday unanimously passed an ordinance allowing for the creation of a needle exchange program in the city. The move came after the city hesitated earlier this year because Mayor Jeremiah Healey, a needle exchange supporter, balked at a part of the state's pilot program that would have included a needle exchange van.

Jersey City becomes the fifth Garden State city to pass a needle exchange ordinance since Gov. Jon Corzine (D) signed a bill allowing them into law in December. The other cities are Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, and Paterson. None have functioning needle exchange programs yet. All have either just passed ordinances or have applications to join the pilot program under review by the state.

New Jersey has the highest rate of cumulative HIV/AIDS cases among women, the third highest rate of pediatric HIV/AIDS cases, the fifth highest rate of adult HIV/AIDS cases and a rate of injection-related HIV infection that is nearly twice the national average.

Still, it took years of activism and lobbying by local public health officials and the Drug Policy Alliance, whose Roseanne Scotti paced the halls of the state capitol, to win approval of needle exchange programs in New Jersey. And the battle isn't over yet. Seven other New Jersey cities that could be eligible to participate have so far failed to do so.

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10. Southwest Asia: Afghan Poppy Crop Sets New Record, US Ambassador Says

The Afghan opium poppy crop will set a new record this year, US Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood said Tuesday. The crop is set to exceed last year's record harvest despite more intensive efforts to combat the trade, he conceded.

According to Wood, preliminary data show that Afghan farmers harvested 457,000 acres of opium poppy this year. That's up from the 407,000 acres planted last year. Opium is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring and early summer.

Last year, Afghanistan accounted for 92% of the global opium supply. In 1997, the country accounted for only 52%, and it accounted for 70% in 2000, before the Taliban banned it in 2001. Thanks to high yields from Afghan opium, the global opium supply reached more than 6,600 metric tons last year, up a whopping 43% over 2005. There will be even more this year.

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the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
Heroin manufactured from Afghan opium is now finding its way into the veins of junkies from London to Lahore and Turin to Tehran to Tashkent. It is now also reportedly beginning to show up on the West Coast of North America, providing competition for the Mexican and Colombian poppy-producers who have historically supplied most heroin for the US market.

Volatile southern Helmand province, where US and NATO troops are engaged in a fierce guerrilla war with Taliban insurgents, alone produced nearly 212,000 acres of poppies, almost half the national total.

Afghan government-led opium eradication efforts managed to destroy about 49,000 acres of poppies, or a little more than one-tenth of the total crop, Wood said. He called the results of the eradication effort "disappointing."

"I think there is growing recognition both nationally and internationally of the importance of the illicit narcotics trade and the threat it poses," he said, adding that he is a firm believer in forced eradication. "We need to remove drug cultivation as an option, both because it threatens security and governance and stability in Afghanistan and because the product of drug cultivation is taking lives inside of Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan through addiction and other criminal activity," he said. "Drugs, because of their value are like diamonds," Wood continued. "They are small, they are high value, they are easily transportable, and no one has ever found a successful way to stop people from picking diamonds up from the ground and trying to sell them. If the diamonds are on the ground, people will try to pick them up and try to sell them. So you've got to eradicate them from the ground," Wood said.

Good luck selling that to the Afghan farmers, opium traders, gunmen-for-hire, Taliban insurgents, and government officials making a living off the thriving black market in opium under the global drug prohibition regime.

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11. Europe: Britain to Review Marijuana's Classification, Could Be Moved Back to Tougher Drug Schedule

New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told parliament Tuesday that his government will reconsider whether marijuana should remain a Class C drug (steroids, minor tranquilizers) or should be treated more harshly and considered a more dangerous Class B drug (amphetamines, barbiturates). The move comes as the opposition Conservatives have called for rescheduling and amidst a sustained media scare campaign linking marijuana to mental illness.

The government of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair downgraded marijuana to Class C in January 2004, which largely made marijuana possession a non-arrestable offense. But the move has been controversial since its inception, and has already been reviewed twice before. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which is charged with the new review, also reviewed the decision last year, but found the risks were not severe enough to merit reclassification. Similarly, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke commissioned a review of the decision, but decided in January 2005 to keep marijuana in Class C.

"We will be asking the ACMD to review the classification of cannabis, given the increase in strength of some cannabis strains and their potential harm," the Home Office said Wednesday. "It would be wrong to prejudge that review which shows how seriously we take our priority of reducing drug-related harm."

The opposition Tories, who are calling for a harder line on drug policy, said they would support reclassification. "We would welcome the reclassification of cannabis," said Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis. "Drugs are a scourge on society and a major cause of crime which Labor has failed to tackle. We have long called for the reclassification of cannabis based on the science and evidence available which shows all too clearly the real damage this drug can do to people -- especially young people."

While drug policy groups differed in their responses to the Brown government's announced review, none supported reclassification. Instead, such groups called for the review to be viewed in the context of a broader review of drug policy as the British government's 10-year drug plan ends in 2008.

"This announcement is all about political posturing, and has nothing to do with science," said a spokesman for the Transform Drug Policy Institute. "It follows in the wake of a series of all-too-familiar cannabis health panics, which have been hyped up by certain newspapers and more recently the Tory party who have been vocally calling for reclassification back to B."

The review of marijuana classification was redundant, Transform argued. "In reality the potency issue and the mental health issues associated with cannabis are well understood and have not changed significantly since they were last reviewed by the ACMD in 2005. The ACMD will not be happy to have to rake over the coals yet again: there is no evidence to warrant another time consuming review, and even if there were, there is also no evidence to suggest another reclassification would reduce harm.

It is not marijuana's classification but its criminalization that is the problem, the group said. "Classification appears to be entirely irrelevant to levels of use, or associated harms; Since the move from B to C in 2004, cannabis use has continued its slow decline, according to data from the British Crime Survey," Transform noted. "It is the criminalization of cannabis, and the unregulated illegal markets this creates, that is responsible for increasing the harms associated with its supply and use. If the Government is serious about reducing harm they should legally regulate the trade and use their limited resources to educate young people about the risks."

Rethink, an organization that concentrates on mental health issues, didn't call for legalization but for a public health campaign to warn of the mental health dangers of the weed. Paul Corry, Rethink's director of public affairs, says:

"We welcome the review of the government's drugs strategy and fully expect it to endorse the now accepted link between high risk groups using cannabis and the development of severe mental illness," said Paul Corry, the group's director of public affairs in a Wednesday press release "The strategy should look back at past government promises of a high profile, sustained public health campaign on the issue and ask 'what happened to it?'"

But while Rethink emphasized the dangers of marijuana consumption, the group did not see reclassification as the answer. "Although there has been renewed interest in yet again reclassifying cannabis, the experiences of our members tell us that reintroducing tougher criminal penalties for possession and use would do nothing to reduce use," said Corry. "What most people who have experienced the misery of developing mental illness from using cannabis want to see is a properly funded health campaign, not harsher laws that end up criminalizing people who have developed a health problem."

For the past decade, Britain has been one step forward, one step back on marijuana policy. It looks like the political pressure is building for one step back again.

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12. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we'd like to hear from you. DRCNet needs two things:

  1. We are in between newsletter grants, and that makes our need for donations more pressing. Drug War Chronicle is free to read but not to produce! Click here to make a donation by credit card or PayPal, or to print out a form to send in by mail.

  2. Please send quotes and reports on how you put our flow of information to work, for use in upcoming grant proposals and letters to funders or potential funders. Do you use DRCNet as a source for public speaking? For letters to the editor? Helping you talk to friends or associates about the issue? Research? For your own edification? Have you changed your mind about any aspects of drug policy since subscribing, or inspired you to get involved in the cause? Do you reprint or repost portions of our bulletins on other lists or in other newsletters? Do you have any criticisms or complaints, or suggestions? We want to hear those too. Please send your response -- one or two sentences would be fine; more is great, too -- email [email protected] or reply to a Chronicle email or use our online comment form. Please let us know if we may reprint your comments, and if so, if we may include your name or if you wish to remain anonymous. IMPORTANT: Even if you have given us this kind of feedback before, we could use your updated feedback now too -- we need to hear from you!

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13. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Along with our weekly in-depth Chronicle reporting, DRCNet has since late summer also been providing daily content in the way of blogging in the Stop the Drug War Speakeasy, as well as Latest News links (upper right-hand corner of most web pages), event listings (lower right-hand corner) and other info. Check out DRCNet every day to stay on top of the drug reform game!

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Speakeasy photo, with flappers (courtesy arbizu.org)

This week:

Scott Morgan brings us: "It's Time for the Drug Czar to Resign," "Sen. Coburn Thinks Police Should Shoot Drug Suspects in the Back," "Clinton Promises to End Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries," "Showtime's "In Pot We Trust"is a Must-see," "The Difference Between Pot Growers and Terrorists," "Rudy Giuliani's Position on OxyContin and Pain Management Is Correct ," "David Murray Lies About Steve Kubby's Position on Medical Marijuana" and "Drug Czar Says Pot Growers are 'Terrorists.'"

Phil Smith opines, "When Oversight Means Oversight: Waxman Goes After Walters for Politicizing His Office," and points out how "Rudy Hates Pot Smokers (Especially Black and Brown Ones) More Than He Likes Effective Policing."

David Borden comments that "You know the drug war's been lost when they're growing marijuana right outside the DEA's office..." and discusses "Hurwitz Receives Lesser Sentence Second Time Around, Could Be Free in 17 Months.

David Guard has been busy too, posting a plethora of press releases, action alerts, job listings and other interesting items reposted from many allied organizations around the world in our "In the Trenches" activist feed.

Join our Reader Blogs here.

Thanks for reading, and writing...

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14. Web Scan

Criticism of Fumigation Grows in Colombia as Cocaine Trade is Undiminished, report by Matthew Stein in World Politics Review

Pardon Whom?, Katha Pollitt suggests the president look to the war on drugs, in The Nation

A Crack in the System, American Prospect on prospects for crack sentencing reform

The Marijuana Lobbyist, The Hill article about MPP's Aaron Houston

A Home for Ibogaine in Barcelona, Mary Clare Ditton on the Huffington Post

DrugTruth Network:
Cultural Baggage for 07/13/07: Jay Fisher, asst Atty General in Georgia, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (MP3)
Century of Lies for 07/13/07: Medical Marijuana Special: Jeff Jones, Paul Armentano, Bruce Mirken & Canadian Radio extract (MP3)

Vlissingen drug consumption rooms, video from the HaRdCOREhARMREdUCER web site, Belgium

report of the French Observatory on Drugs on cannabis consumption and cultivation in France

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15. Weekly: This Week in History

July 24, 1967: The Beatles pay for a full page advertisement in a British newspaper, which states, "The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice." The ad calls for the legalization of marijuana possession, release of all prisoners on marijuana possession charges and government research into medical uses.

July 23, 1985: Tulio Manuel Castro Gil, judge of the Superior Court of Bogota, Colombia, is assassinated as he climbs into a taxi, following his indictment of Pablo Escobar for the murder of Lara Bonilla.

July 20, 1995: The total number of US marijuana arrests since 1965 passes the 10,000,000 mark, according to an estimate by NORML.

July 22, 1997: Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey says, "In the view of the nation's scientific and medical community, marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no generally accepted therapeutic value." He says this despite an editorial from the January 30, 1997 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that states, "Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medicinal use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat."

July 26, 2001: The British newsmagazine The Economist devotes an entire issue to drug policy, endorsing decriminalization and harm reduction.

July 25, 2002: The Hawaiian Tribune Herald reports: Marijuana eradication in Hawaii contributed to the increase in the use of the drug "ice," according to a three-year study prepared for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The study's four-page executive summary states, "The use of ice in Honolulu had led to particularly serious physical and psychological problems and significant social disruption in poor working communities where it replaced marijuana, which had become scarce and expensive due to eradication policies... Residents were both pushed away from pakalolo [marijuana], their staple drug of choice, and pulled toward ice by a well organized marketing campaign by Asian distributors." It also notes that violence is more prevalent in the Honolulu meth users.

July 26, 2003: The Honolulu Advertiser reports that a Hilo woman who smokes marijuana to treat her glaucoma received a check for $2,000 from her homeowners insurance company for the loss of four plants stolen from her yard. Under a state law passed in 2000, patients with permits who are under a doctor's care may possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and grow up to seven plants at a time for medical purposes.

July 28, 2003: James Geddes, originally sentenced to 150 years for possession of a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia and for growing five marijuana plants, is released.

July 21, 2004: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Prof. Lyle Craker, and Valerie Corral file lawsuits against the DEA, HHS, NIH, and NIDA for obstructing medical marijuana research.

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16. Job Opportunity: Research and Policy Associate, Vera Institute of Justice, DC

Responsibilities of the research and policy associate include conducting research, interviewing experts, visiting facilities, and writing standards for the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC). The research and policy associate reports to the director. In addition to working on standards for NPREC, the office will be developing programs to further the work of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons. The research and policy associate may work on a number of projects but initially will play a substantial role in the work that Vera produces for NPREC. Additionally, the research and policy associate will be responsible for producing targeted literature reviews, assessing existing standards, researching problems and practices in a variety of correctional environments, and working with the Vera staff and experts in the field to develop appropriate standards.

Applicants should have at least three years of research experience or other relevant experience in law or corrections and have worked in the area of criminal justice, prisons, or closely related fields. Applicants should have a law or master's degree. Particular experience with issues related to sexual violence, although not required, would be useful. A demonstrated interest in issues related to prison conditions is an important quality in an applicant. Excellent writing and research skills are required. In addition, there will be some travel required.

The salary is mid-40's to mid-50's, or dependent on experience; excellent benefits.

To apply, send a cover letter and résumé to: Alex Busansky, Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, 601 Thirteenth Street, NW, Suite 1150 South, Washington, DC 20005. You can also e-mail the information to [email protected] or fax it to (202) 639-6066. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. No telephone calls, please.

Background

In June 2006 the Vera-staffed Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons issued its final report and recommendations to prevent violence and abuse in prisons and jails, to improve safety for prisoners and staff, to improve the medical and mental health care of prisoners, and to improve public safety and public health through the work of responsible corrections. Vera staff in Washington, DC, continue the work that the Commission started by pursuing a variety of projects aimed at improving safety and conditions in prisons and jails. As part of this work, Vera staff are working with the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) to develop standards for lock-ups, jails, prisons, juvenile facilities, community corrections, and immigration detention centers. The standards will contribute to the detection and prevention of, and response to sexual assault and rape during incarceration. NPREC was established by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 and is charged with conducting research and developing standards addressing prison rape. NPREC is currently scheduled to issue a report and standards in winter 2008-2009.

The Vera Institute values diversity and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

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17. Announcement: DRCNet Content Syndication Feeds Now Available for YOUR Web Site!

Are you a fan of DRCNet, and do you have a web site you'd like to use to spread the word more forcefully than a single link to our site can achieve? We are pleased to announce that DRCNet content syndication feeds are now available. Whether your readers' interest is in-depth reporting as in Drug War Chronicle, the ongoing commentary in our blogs, or info on specific drug war subtopics, we are now able to provide customizable code for you to paste into appropriate spots on your blog or web site to run automatically updating links to DRCNet educational content.

For example, if you're a big fan of Drug War Chronicle and you think your readers would benefit from it, you can have the latest issue's headlines, or a portion of them, automatically show up and refresh when each new issue comes out.

If your site is devoted to marijuana policy, you can run our topical archive, featuring links to every item we post to our site about marijuana -- Chronicle articles, blog posts, event listings, outside news links, more. The same for harm reduction, asset forfeiture, drug trade violence, needle exchange programs, Canada, ballot initiatives, roughly a hundred different topics we are now tracking on an ongoing basis. (Visit the Chronicle main page, right-hand column, to see the complete current list.)

If you're especially into our new Speakeasy blog section, new content coming out every day dealing with all the issues, you can run links to those posts or to subsections of the Speakeasy.

Click here to view a sample of what is available -- please note that the length, the look and other details of how it will appear on your site can be customized to match your needs and preferences.

Please also note that we will be happy to make additional permutations of our content available to you upon request (though we cannot promise immediate fulfillment of such requests as the timing will in many cases depend on the availability of our web site designer). Visit our Site Map page to see what is currently available -- any RSS feed made available there is also available as a javascript feed for your web site (along with the Chronicle feed which is not showing up yet but which you can find on the feeds page linked above). Feel free to try out our automatic feed generator, online here.

Contact us for assistance or to let us know what you are running and where. And thank you in advance for your support.

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18. Announcement: DRCNet RSS Feeds Now Available

RSS feeds are the wave of the future -- and DRCNet now offers them! The latest Drug War Chronicle issue is now available using RSS at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/feed online.

We have many other RSS feeds available as well, following about a hundred different drug policy subtopics that we began tracking since the relaunch of our web site this summer -- indexing not only Drug War Chronicle articles but also Speakeasy blog posts, event listings, outside news links and more -- and for our daily blog postings and the different subtracks of them. Visit our Site Map page to peruse the full set.

Thank you for tuning in to DRCNet and drug policy reform!

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19. Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

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With the launch of our new web site, The Reformer's Calendar no longer appears as part of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter but is instead maintained as a section of our new web site:

The Reformer's Calendar publishes events large and small of interest to drug policy reformers around the world. Whether it's a major international conference, a demonstration bringing together people from around the region or a forum at the local college, we want to know so we can let others know, too.

But we need your help to keep the calendar current, so please make sure to contact us and don't assume that we already know about the event or that we'll hear about it from someone else, because that doesn't always happen.

We look forward to apprising you of more new features on our web site as they become available.

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Permission to Reprint: This issue of Drug War Chronicle is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School