Drug War Chronicle #497 - August 10, 2007

1. Editorial: Why Do People the Government Says Don't Exist Keep Writing Me?

Prohibitionists are fond of referring to medical marijuana as a "hoax" -- a "cruel hoax," when they get excited. But calling it a hoax is the real hoax, and we know because the real live patients keep writing us.

2. Feature: Yellow Journalism -- San Francisco Exchange Programs Scored Over Dirty Needles

A series of recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the problem of dirty needles in Golden Gate Park, but seemed to blame needle exchanges for the problem. Experts beg to differ.

3. Feature: Is Addiction a Brain Disease? Biden Bill to Define It as Such is Moving on Capitol Hill

A bill that defines addiction as a brain disease is moving in Congress. Treatment professionals and recovery advocates laud it. There are skeptics too.

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

The charges pile up against a pair of former Virginia police chiefs, a Cleveland DEA agent has some explaining to do, and so does a Houston crime lab tech who didn't follow procedures and wouldn't take a drug test.

5. Europe: Dutch May Join Trend and Ban Magic Mushrooms

Now, "smart shops" selling magic mushrooms abound in Holland, but perhaps not for long. Driven by a handful of unfortunate incidents, a move to ban the phantastical fungus is under government consideration.

6. Law Enforcement: Illegal Search Kills Prosecution in Largest Heroin Bust in California History

It was the biggest heroin bust in California history, but thanks to overzealous law enforcement, the charges have now been dropped.

7. Racial Profiling: Kansas Police Agencies Honor Reporting Law Mostly in the Breach

Kansas passed a law in 2005 requiring law enforcement agencies to report on racial profiling complaints, but only about one-third of agencies are complying.

8. Southeast Asia: Probe into Thai Drug War Killings Getting Underway

In 2003, then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to eliminate drugs in his country. He didn't, but his police managed to eliminate 2,500 drug "suspects" by gunning them down without trial. Now that Thaksin has been overthrown, investigations into the mass killings are getting underway.

9. Latin America: Massive US-Mexico Counter-Drug Aid Package in the Works

Are we about to see "Plan Mexico"? The US and Mexican governments are currently negotiating what could be a multi-hundred-million dollar anti-drug assistance package to help that country in its battle with wealthy and violent drug trafficking organizations.

10. Middle East: More Drug Executions in Saudi Arabia

The executioner's ax fell on three more drug war unfortunates in Saudi Arabia this week.

11. Canada: Health Canada Gives Okay to Sativex for Cancer Patients

Sativex, the THC-based sublingual spray, has been approved for use in cancer pain by Health Canada.

12. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Jury Duty: A Day in the Life of Our Corrupt War on Drugs," "Marijuana Dealers Offer Schwarzenegger One Billion Dollars," "What's a gram of cocaine go for where you live?," "Who should be the next Drug Czar?," "yet another letter from a medical marijuana patient that the feds claim don't exist...

13. 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.

14. Web Scan

Transform guide to making the case, UK MP Harry Cohen, IDPC critique of World Drug Report, Huffington Post on the marijuana-mental illness craze, Dominic Holden in Seattle's The Stranger, The Arrest of Michael C. Kelley, Howard Lotsof ibogaine video, Legalise Drugs to Beat Terrorists editorial, review of Canada's medical marijuana program, Tony Papa, DrugTruth Network, Hecklers on prison abolition.

15. Weekly: This Week in History

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

16. Action Item: If You're on Facebook, Your Help is Needed Today!

Facebook users, please help our friends at Students for Sensible Drug Policy get a Facebook "Speed Grant" for an important campaign that we're working on too.

17. Job Listing: Opportunities at the Marijuana Policy Project

MPP is hiring a government relations director in Washington, and petitioners and team leaders for efforts in Arizona and Michigan.

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

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

19. Announcement: DRCNet RSS Feeds Now Available

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

20. 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 Do People the Government Says Don't Exist Keep Writing Me?

David Borden, Executive Director

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David Borden
One of the mantras in the prohibitionist movement is the claim that "medical marijuana is a hoax." They call it a "cruel hoax" when they're feeling especially passionate or threatened.

We in the drug reform movement often feel bemused by this. After all, we actually know medical marijuana patients -- yes, real live medical marijuana patients. We interact with them at conferences. We help them with protests. Some of us lobby with them in Congress or the state houses. Their relatives are our friends and colleagues too.

During the recent efforts around the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment last month, a lot of people concerned with the issue sent us emails, and some of them were patients. I've published some of their comments on our blog, but I think they merit republishing here:

"I have had multiple sclerosis and a seizure disorder for 13 years now. I tried it the legal way and just got sicker and sicker, to the point of staying in bed all day. Then I tried marijuana, and it's like a wonder drug for me! I do not get high from the marijuana, it helps relax my muscles and takes the spasms away. Not to mention it's the only way I have an appetite to eat anything. How could someone tell me, no medical marijuana for you?"

"Six years ago I was literally struck down with Fibromyalgia. I simply couldn't get out of bed one morning. I crawled versus walking most of the time as it was less painful. My husband had to lift me onto the toilet, give me baths, cook, etc., because I was of no use to anyone, including myself. I also had no appetite whatsoever. I lost 20 pounds in a matter of weeks, leaving me a frail 100 lb 50 year old. My husband thought maybe marijuana might help with my appetite, so he "scored" some for me. It not only restored my appetite, it also took a lot of my pain away. It makes me sick to think we both could have been arrested. When is this country going to wake up?!!"

"I have had to move back home to a state that does not allow the medical use of marijuana -- the state I was in before, Maine, allowed it -- and it is very hard for me to find relief from my pain now. My doctor has increased my medications twofold, and I do not get the pain control I had on 1/2 the narcotics with the smoke. I just hope some day the government will stop demonizing a very useful tool, and allow us who really get relief from it without abuse of the drug."

Why do these people whom the government claims don't exist keep writing me? So much for the "hoax" -- the hoax is calling it a hoax. Another particularly misleading argument we hear from prohibitionists is that "there are better medicines" than marijuana for the conditions people are using it for. Even if it were true (across the board in the way they are claiming), the idea that there are better medicines implicitly contains within it the implication that marijuana is at least a medicine -- and therefore not a hoax.

But the argument is fundamentally flawed. Medicine is an individual matter. The best medicine for me, for a given condition, might not be the best one for you, even if you suffer from the same condition, and vice versa. Doubtless some medications stand out as having a superior track record overall to other ones -- some doubtless stand out for their negatives too, and there may even be some conditions for which one choice of medicine really is the best one across the board. But in general that's not the case -- the idea that there is one best medicine, for all patients, is a false one, and being the "best" is not the standard that's in place for approval of a drug as a medicine. The standard is that the drug has medical benefit, and can be taken with a sufficient degree of safety. Those who argue that there are better medicines than marijuana are applying a double standard, and one that doesn't really make sense.

So who's committing the hoax? (Hint: Not I.)

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2. Feature: Yellow Journalism -- San Francisco Exchange Programs Scored Over Dirty Needles

A series of sensationalistic articles in the San Francisco Chronicle over the past two weeks highlighted the problem of discarded needles near one of the city's needle exchange programs. The series appears -- on the surface -- to have prodded city officials to act on the problem. More accurately, it informed the public of planning that had been going on behind the scenes, though without informing readers of that. While the articles posed as muckraking, civic-minded journalism, they smeared needle exchange workers -- they failed, most importantly, to ask the most basic questions needed to actually determine the programs' impact on needle discarding -- and unnecessarily contributed to public fears about the programs.

The Chronicle series began Sunday July 29 with "The Situation at Golden Gate Park; Sunday in the Park -- With Needles," where the paper reported that the park was "littered" with discarded syringes. The reporting made it seem as if the discarded syringes were the fault of needle exchange programs:

"They tell us he was steaming, but San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom shouldn't have been too surprised when The Chronicle reported that Golden Gate Park was littered with used drug syringes.

"After all, his own Public Health Department spent $800,000 last year to help hand out some 2 million syringes to drug users under the city's needle exchange program -- sometimes 20 at a time.

"Although Health Department officials say 2 million needles were returned, the fact is they don't count them and can only estimate how many are coming back.

"And from the looks of things, a lot of them aren't."

That same article was also shocked to report that drug users can actually buy needles without a prescription:

"Under legislation passed in 2005 by the same Board of Supervisors whose members now decry the needle problem, anyone over 18 can walk into a Walgreens or Rite Aid and buy as many as 10 needles -- no questions asked."

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syringes
Like needle exchanges, non-prescription syringe access is a harm reduction measure designed to save lives and improve the public health by reducing the spread of disease through making needle access easier. Its beneficial impact, however, is blunted by a California statute defining syringe possession as a violation of the paraphernalia law. Hence, users anxious to avoid trouble with law enforcement may be rendered more anxious to get rid of their needles once done with them, and less likely to save them long enough to take them back to a program.

In that article and a same-day companion piece, "Golden Gate Park sweep -- can city make it stick? 'March of junkies': Haight's residents fume over needles," the Chronicle described finding needles in Golden Gate Park and interviewed neighbors upset with finding discarded syringes in the area. It made for compelling reading, but left several critical questions unanswered:

  • How many needles were being discarded in the park before there were needle exchange programs?
  • How many of the needles found by the authors of the neighborhood residents they quoted came from the needle exchange program?
  • What is the risk of HIV or Hep C infection from being pricked with a discarded needle? What was it before there were needle exchange programs?
  • How many needles not returned to the program are actually being unsafely discarded?
  • Overall, how significant is the threat to public safety from discarded syringes, and how does it compare with the threat from pre-needle exchange days?

If advocates and researchers are right, the answers to those questions don't support the premise of the Chronicle stories. "Nobody wants dirty syringes lying around," said Hilary McQuie, Oakland-based Western Director for the Harm Reduction Coalition. "But there were syringes everywhere in San Francisco before we started needle exchanges here in 1988. There is no recognition [in the Chronicle story] that there was a problem with discarded syringes before needle exchange came around, or that needle exchanges help reduce the problem."

The Chronicle also seemed to go out of its way to paint one program, the Homeless Youth Alliance, and its director, Mary Howe, in an unflattering light:

"Finding the needle exchange in the Haight isn't easy. Walk west on Haight Street, take a right at Cole, and turn in the first doorway. There's no identification, just a blue sign that says, 'entrance.'

"Walk up the hall, which smells of urine, and then knock on the scratched and battered wooden door. After two or three tries, someone might open the door a crack to see what you want.

"Welcome to a city drug needle exchange and HIV prevention facility.

"When then-Mayor Frank Jordan signed legislation endorsing needle exchanges in 1992, it was a high-minded, civically progressive program to slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. Drug users would get a needle, use it, then return it for a clean one. That's still the idea -- and it is a good one -- but somewhere along the line the concept went low-rent.

"Today the Haight facility looks more like a hole in the wall. The neighbors, many of whom say they have never been told what's going on up the street, find syringes in their gardens. And the original idea -- a one-for-one exchange -- is largely ignored.

"The exchange is run by the Homeless Youth Alliance, which gets a yearly budget of $275,000 from the city Department of Public Health. As the alliance's program director, Mary Howe, admits, they make no more than a rough count of the incoming needles. If someone says he returned 40, they hand over 40 new ones. And, if he doesn't have any, they give him 20 as a startup stash.

"'The point for a needle exchange is not to get every needle back,' says Howe. 'The majority of users dispose of needles in a respectful manner.'

"And those who don't?

"'That's not my responsibility,' Howe said. 'I can't hold everyone's hand and make everyone put them in a bio bucket. If someone has a liquor store, and they sell liquor to someone who gets into an accident, is it the store's fault?'"

"The Chronicle totally attacked Mary Howe," McQuie complained. "She's one of the few people who has a good relationship with the homeless users in Golden Gate Park, and the Chronicle didn't mention that her staff does regular clean-ups [collections of discarded syringes] there."

"That's right, said Peter Davidson, board chairman for the Homeless Youth Alliance. "We go out there monthly and clean up dirty needles," he said. "It's a large park, though, and I have to wonder why we are blamed for every needle in it. Picking on a small, poorly-funded needle exchange program doesn't seem particularly productive," he said.

"We're a little bit frustrated with the Chronicle coverage," said Davidson, "but we hope this whole kerfluffle will cause some movement."

Of course, no one wants people getting stuck with discarded needles, but some research can help to put that problem in perspective too. Infections from needle sticks are quite rare outside medical facilities, according to Dr. Robert Heimer, a professor in the Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale University and an expert on HIV survival in syringes. "While HIV will survive for weeks inside a syringe, needle sticks are not likely to transmit the virus since virus on the surface of the needle, which would be introduced into the body of the person being pricked, loses viability quickly upon drying. Supporting this are the data from hospital needle stick transmission, which were strongly associated with fresh blood," he said.

A 1998 review of the literature on needle stick infections agreed. It found no HIV infections contracted via needle sticks among garbage disposal workers in one study reviewed. Other studies found low numbers (less than 15) cases of hepatitis infections contracted through needle sticks.

In the third article (so far) in the series, "Needles talk of town; SF officials promise system of drop boxes," the Chronicle patted itself on the back for prompting the city to act with its "exposé" of the dirty needle problem:

"City officials and nonprofit agency leaders, responding to an outcry over used syringes littering parks, promise to reform San Francisco's needle-exchange program -- including locked, 24-hour syringe drop boxes and technologically advanced syringes."

Indeed, both city officials and needle exchange program heads were quoted as saying they would be acting soon to install drop boxes where dirty needles could be dropped off. San Francisco currently doesn't have any, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why the city's return rate is only around 70% instead of the 90% reported in some cities that do have drop boxes. But it is not that the city and the exchanges suddenly woke up because of the Chronicle's reporting. According to insiders, planning for drop boxes has been ongoing, and the first ones will appear shortly. What the Chronicle's reporting really did was goose city hall and the exchanges to let the public know what was already underway.

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popular needle exchange logo
"Mary has been meeting with the public health department, the AIDS Foundation, and the police on disposal boxes for the last year and a half," said Davidson. "Everyone agrees it's a good idea. She's been shopping a written proposal around, but when it came to needles in Golden Gate Park, Parks and Recreation didn't want to get involved."

"We've been talking with the city public health department for awhile about disposal boxes, and I think this series and all the uproar it has aroused will make it happen," said McQuie. "That would be a good public relations move, but people don't want to carry their syringes around because of our paraphernalia law here in California." In the face of the assault on the NEPs in San Francisco, McQuie went on the offensive. "What we really need is to change the needle law so people don't feel like they have to get rid of them. We need syringe exchange machines like soda machines, where you put one in and take one out. And we need safe injection sites," she said.

Heimer also had some observations and suggestions about reducing the number of dirty needles strewn about in public. "Our studies comparing Springfield, Massachusetts, where there is no legal access to syringes, to New Haven and Hartford, where there is, found far more unsafe discarding in Springfield (44%) than in Connecticut cities (13.5%)," he pointed out. His unspoken conclusion was obvious: remove restrictions to needle access if you want to lower rates of unsafe discarding.

"We need publicly accessible drop boxes," Heimer suggested, "along with training injectors to use proper containers, training police to not harass people who carry syringes (then people won't have to chuck their rigs when approached by police), and expanding syringe exchange hours and, counter-intuitively, liberalizing exchange policies," he said. "We found that syringe return rates in three US cities -- Oakland, Chicago, and Hartford -- were highest (nearly 90%) in the city with the most liberal policy (Chicago) and lowest (only 50%) in the city with the most restrictive policy (Hartford).

But such fine points apparently did not interest the self-styled crusaders at the Chronicle. While the newspaper may have done a public service by reporting on the discarded needle problem, the way it did so was a disservice to the hard-working, dedicated people who run these programs for the public health. One would think the citizens of San Francisco deserve better than shabby, sensationalized reporting when it comes to critical public health issues. We only hope that the Chronicle's botched job leads to advances, not setbacks, for harm reduction and needle access in California.

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3. Feature: Is Addiction a Brain Disease? Biden Bill to Define It as Such is Moving on Capitol Hill

A bill introduced by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) that would define addiction as a brain disease is moving in the Senate. Treatment professionals, mainstream scientists, and recovery advocates see it as a good thing. There are some skeptics, though.

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NIDA book cover, with brain scan image
The bill, the Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act of 2007 (S. 1011), would also change the name of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction, and change the name of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to the National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health.

"Addiction is a neurobiological disease -- not a lifestyle choice -- and it's about time we start treating it as such," said Sen. Biden in a statement when he introduced this bill this spring. "We must lead by example and change the names of our federal research institutes to accurately reflect this reality. By changing the way we talk about addiction, we change the way people think about addiction, both of which are critical steps in getting past the social stigma too often associated with the disease. This bill is a small but important step towards stripping away the social stigma surrounding the treatment of diseases of addiction," said Sen. Biden.

The measure is garnering bipartisan support. It passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee in June with the backing of Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the ranking minority committee member. "Science shows us the addiction to alcohol or any other drug is a disease," Enzi said in a statement marking the vote. "While the initial decision to use drugs is a choice, there comes a time when continued use turns on the addiction switch in the brain. That time can vary depending on factors ranging from genetics to environment to type of drug and frequency of use. Because of that and the continued stereotypes and challenges that are often barriers to people with addiction issues seeking treatment I am proud to support this legislation. Although the names of the Institutes will change, their mission -- preventing and treating drug and alcohol addiction -- will remain the same."

The politicians are taking their cue from neurological researchers led by NIDA scientists who have been working for years to find the magic link between the brain and compulsive drug use. Dr. Nora Volkow, current head of NIDA, has been leading the charge, and Biden and Enzi could have been reading from her briefing book.

"Drug addiction is a brain disease," said Volkow in a typical NIDA news release. "Although initial drug use might be voluntary, once addiction develops this control is markedly disrupted. Imaging studies have shown specific abnormalities in the brains of some, but not all, addicted individuals. While scientific advancements in the understanding of addiction have occurred at unprecedented speed in recent years, unanswered questions remain that highlight the need for further research to better define the neurobiological processes involved in addiction."

Not surprisingly, the treatment and recovery communities, anxious to see the social climate shift to one of more support and less punishment for the addicted, support the legislation. "Recognizing addiction is the next step forward," said Daniel Guarnera, government relations liaison for the NAADAC -- The Association for Addiction Professionals. "NIDA and its scientists have demonstrated overwhelmingly that addiction is not a behavioral trait, but rather is caused by physiological changes to the body that make people want to use addictive substances. This bill allows the terminology to catch up with the science."

Although the bill does little more than make a congressional pronouncement and rename a couple of institutes, it is still an important step, said Guarnera. "Yes, it's symbolic, but that symbolism is hugely important, because language should reflect medical knowledge, and medical knowledge has demonstrated that drug abuse is a physical phenomenon."

"We utterly endorse this bill," said Pat Taylor, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery, a treatment and recovery advocacy umbrella organization. "I think it's a great idea to rename the agencies. People with drug and alcohol problems can and do recover from addiction. Calling them 'abusers' just stigmatizes them."

Taylor and her organization are actively supporting the bill, she said. "We've sent letters of endorsement for the bill," she said. "People blame people for their drug and alcohol problems, so this is an important issue for the recovery community. We need to rethink how we talk about this."

Is addiction in fact a brain disease? Some researchers think that's too simple. Scott Lilienfeld, a professor of psychology at Emory University told ABC News last week: "What I find troubling with the brain disease rhetoric is that it's grossly oversimplified, it boils down an incredibly complex problem to not necessarily the most important explanation. You can view a psychological problem on many levels. Low level explanation refers to molecules in the brain. There are other levels including people's personality traits and moods, people's parents, environment. Higher level than this is community."

"Every level tells you something useful," Lilienfeld continued. "Brain disease is only one level among many and not even the most helpful. Implying it's the only level of explanation, that's counterproductive."

Some mavericks go even further. "No, addiction is not a brain disease," said Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, a psychologist and professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, DC, and author of "The Myth of Addiction." "Diseases are physical wounds, cellular abnormalities. Addiction is a behavior, something that a person does. Diseases are things a person has," he argued.

"You can't will away a real disease," Schaler continued. "But people will away behaviors they don't like all the time."

Others feel that the concept of addiction itself is too imprecise. "There is no clear conception of what people mean by the word 'addiction,' and there are numerous papers on this unsatisfactory concept," said Professor John Davies, head of the Center for Applied Social Psychology at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, another prominent critic of the "addiction is a brain disease" model. Using drugs and 'addiction' are not synonymous," Davies continued, noting that many "fun drug users" become "addicts" as soon as they end up in court.

"Of course, people can and do get into an awful mess when they fail to manage their habit effectively," Davies concedes. "But look at the data. Harmful damaging drug use is heavily social-class related whereas drug use per se is less so. People give up the so-called 'disease' when their lives change, they get a new partner, a new job, a move of house."

"Sen. Biden's crusade is part of a decades-long, political struggle to isolate drug habits in users and to obscure the social and historical factors that ultimately underline so-called drug problems," said Richard De Grandpre, author of "The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became The World's Most Troubled Drug Culture" (see review here next week), citing the case of the Vietnam war veterans who picked up opiate habits, but who, for the most part, rapidly shed them upon returning home.

"These vets used chronically and were said to be addicted. What happened to their addictions?" De Grandpre asked. "The feared epidemic did not materialize because the social factors that sustained heroin use in Vietnam had all but disappeared upon returning."

Davies sees the addiction label as having pernicious consequences for problem users as well. "It makes things far worse," he said. It makes people believe that the roots of their behavior are beyond their capacity to control, which is the last thing you need when you're trying to get someone to change their behavior."

How should drug policy reformers (e.g., those concerned first and foremost with loosening prohibitionist drug policies) respond to the Biden bill? Rhetorically, both the "disease" and "choice" models have been used repeatedly to justify draconian policies -- the former at drug sellers, who mostly are not kingpins or monsters seeking to addict children to their goods, but get charged as such in the court of public opinion -- the latter at problem users, or even users in general, because they should just stop, because it's a choice.

"I tend to think that language changes that reduce the fuel in the drug discussion will help rather than hurt our cause," said David Borden, executive director of Stop the Drug War (DRCNet, publisher of this newsletter). "Terms like 'Diseases of Addiction' pack less verbal or rhetorical punch than shorter ones like 'Drug Abuse,' and are less useful for purposes of political propaganda. If the names of the agencies shift, the language coming out of the agencies will also have to shift, at least somewhat, and that will help -- it will be harder for politicians to focus their rhetoric on nonsense statements like 'all use is abuse,' if 'abuse' is no longer the government-endorsed term of choice in the discussion."

"Those are political concerns, however," Borden pointed out. "If 'disease' is a scientifically imprecise term for describing the set of conditions that are commonly known as 'addiction' -- and it seems to me that it probably is -- then Congress and NIDA probably shouldn't be using the term for that purpose. I'd be more comfortable with the bill if it used slightly different language." Still, he thinks it's probably a net positive. "I think the obvious message of the terminology shift would be to say that people with drug problems are not really criminals, and that's a good thing."

"Plus if addiction isn't a disease, there's still obviously some condition that some people have, physical for at least some of them, that makes it harder for them to make favorable choices," Borden added. "Otherwise I don't think there would be thousands of people risking arrest or overdose to inject themselves daily with heroin, or millions knowingly doing what they're doing to themselves with cigarette smoking. So I'm not sure that the imprecision in the term chosen for the discussion is such a big problem."

Schaler disagrees. "Drug policy reformers play into the hands of the therapeutic state when they support the idea that drug addiction is a treatable disease," he said. "It means doctors have more power over people instead of just drug agents."

In principle, neither Congressional fiat, nor therapists' concerns over what the right message is to send to patients, nor advocates' concerns over what will ultimately lead to better policies, should take a second seat in this debate -- the question is fundamentally a scientific one, and a philosophical one. With Congress holding the purse strings for the bulk of addictions research in this country, however, Congress' choices now may indeed affect the language being used in the future for some time to come. And language can indeed have an impact in ways going beyond its initial purposes.

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

The charges pile up against a pair of former Virginia police chiefs, a Cleveland DEA agent has some explaining to do, and so does a Houston crime lab tech who didn't follow procedures and wouldn't take a drug test. Let's get to it:

In Houston, more than 200 drug cases are in jeopardy after a lab technician is accused of "failing to properly secure drug evidence." It's only the latest scandal for the city's troubled crime lab, which has been under scrutiny for the past five years over faulty DNA testing that sent people to prison, the drug and alcohol testing division being shut down after its director failed a proficiency test, and evidence from thousands of cases being improperly stored in the evidence rooms. In the latest blow, the Houston Police Department announced Tuesday that lab tech James Carpenter had been relieved of duty with pay. Carpenter, who worked in the drug lab since 2002, had been recently warned about missing work, and investigators sought him out last week after receiving reports that he "was not handling evidence in compliance with lab protocols." When Carpenter refused to give a formal statement or submit to a drug test, he was suspended. Now, all his work for the past six months -- some 200 drug cases -- is under review.

In Richmond, Virginia, two former Southwest Virginia police chiefs already facing charges were arrested again last week on new drug charges. Former Damascus Police Chief Anthony Steven Richardson was charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs, obstruction of justice, possession of drugs and possession of firearms. Richardson, 40, already faced seven felony counts from June, including distributing methamphetamine. Former Chilhowie Police chief Dwayne Sheffield was charged with distribution of drugs, child abuse/neglect and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Sheffield, 37, already faced charges from May of committing sex crimes against a 17-year-old girl during a Halloween haunted house that raised money for sexual assault victims. The new charges resulted from an investigation by state, local, and federal law enforcement officials, and officials said the drugs involved were mainly methamphetamine and marijuana. Sheffield's wife, Nancy, was also charged with drug distribution, conspiracy, and child abuse/neglect.

In Cleveland, a DEA agent is under scrutiny after one of his informants admitted sending dozens of people to prison with false testimony. Informant Jerrell Bray told authorities in May he had made up testimony and lied on the witness stand in numerous cases, resulting in the dropping of charges in two cases and the release of one prisoner so far. Many more could come. DEA Agent Lee Lucas, who has a reputation as gung-ho drug fighter, is Bray's handler. The testimony of both Bray and Lucas in numerous drug cases is being challenged. Look for more to come out in coming weeks and months on this one.

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5. Europe: Dutch May Join Trend and Ban Magic Mushrooms

Since the turn of the century, psychedelic (or magic) mushrooms have been declared illegal by authorities in Britain, Denmark, Ireland, and Japan. Now, amidst a media blitz over a handful of incidents involving people high on 'shrooms, the conservative Dutch government is considering doing the same.

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psilocybe cubensis (courtesy erowid.org)
While the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances banned psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, the mushrooms themselves, especially when fresh, have inhabited a murkier legal status. In the United States, magic mushrooms are illegal under federal law, but not the spores from which they can be generated.

In Holland, where marijuana is retailed at state-sanctioned coffee houses, magic mushrooms are also available at so-called smart shops. Under Dutch practice, the smart shops can sell the mushrooms as long as they are fresh. They also sell various "smart drugs" and herbs, as well as other exotic psychedelics, such as salvia divinorum or San Pedro cactus.

But ever since Gaelle Caroff, a photogenic French teenager, died after jumping from a building under the influence of magic mushrooms in March, sectors of the Dutch press and conservative politicians and Caroff's parents have agitated for their sale and use to be banned. Although Caroff had suffered previous psychiatric problems, her parents blamed the mushrooms.

Dutch newspapers repeatedly published photos of the 17-year-old Caroff and they began highlighting other incidents involving people high on mushrooms, usually young tourists: a Brit, 22, who ran amok in a hotel, breaking a window and cutting his hand; an Icelander, 19, who, thinking he was being chased, leapt from a hotel balcony, breaking both legs; a Dane, 29, who drove crazily through a campground.

Amsterdam health services reported in January that emergency services were summoned to deal with bad mushroom trips 148 times over a three-year period from 2004 to 2006, or about once a week. Of the 148 incidents, 134 involved foreigners. Other Dutch government numbers suggest that tourists are gobbling up most of the mushrooms sold in smartshops.

In response to the rising clamor in the press, Health Minister Ab Klink ordered the national health institute to reassess the risks of magic mushrooms. Klink has said that, depending on what the institute concludes, he will recommend either that magic mushrooms sales be banned outright or limited to those over 18.

Either proposed move appears to have broad support in parliament. A majority of center and rightist parties has demanded the fungi be banned. That would be in line with the broad contours of a Dutch government that is increasingly conservative on issues ranging from Muslim immigrants to misbehavior in Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District to a mostly frustrated inclination to try to reverse the country's liberal marijuana policy.

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6. Law Enforcement: Illegal Search Kills Prosecution in Largest Heroin Bust in California History

Two Mexican brothers arrested in the largest heroin seizure in California history walked free this week after federal prosecutors in San Diego dropped the charges against them. Prosecutors had little choice because a federal judge ruled last month that police had violated the Fourth Amendment's ban on warrantless searches and threw out the evidence against them. Two others arrested in the case have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

At the time of the Valentine's Day bust, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nearly dislocated their shoulders patting themselves on the back for uncovering what they described as a major heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana trafficking operation. But their eagerness to search and make arrests eventually cost them the case.

It all started when ICE agents at the San Ysidro border crossing found a car with nearly 12 kilos of Mexican heroin hidden inside. The driver was allowed to continue to his destination in Anaheim under ICE surveillance. The driver met with another man, then drove to an Anaheim house and pulled into the garage. Without waiting for a search warrant, ICE agents entered and searched the house, arresting six people and seizing 121 pounds of heroin, 34 pounds of marijuana, and 3 pounds of methamphetamine, along with about $3,500 in cash.

Attorneys for the two Mexicans argued in court papers the men had been staying at the Anaheim home and had a "reasonable expectation to privacy" guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. They also argued that there was no threat to officer safety or that the evidence would be destroyed if ICE waited to get a search warrant.

Federal prosecutors argued that agents had no time to obtain a search warrant and that the drugs and the driver who led agents to the house were at risk, but US District Court Judge James Selna wasn't buying it. He instead ruled for the defense, holding that the search was unconstitutional and that the evidence derived from that search -- the seized drugs -- could not be admitted in court.

"To me, the issue is a rule of law and it won," said attorney Joel Levine, who represented one of the brothers.

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7. Racial Profiling: Kansas Police Agencies Honor Reporting Law Mostly in the Breach

Only one out of three Kansas law enforcement agencies are reporting racial profiling information to the state attorney general's office, the Kansas City Star reported Saturday. This despite a law signed two years ago by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) requiring them to do so in a bid to end police stops based solely on skin color.

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enter at peril of profiling
The law requires departments to make annual reports listing complaints of racial profiling, but it has no enforcement mechanism. "We don't have any enforcement ability" over those agencies that don't report, said Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison. "There's no penalty if they don't report."

"There's no hammer behind the law. No teeth in it," said state Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), who was an original sponsor of the bill. "It became the proverbial toothless paper tiger."

So toothless that 284 of Kansas' 431 law enforcement entities -- that's 66% -- didn't bother to comply. It doesn't have to be that way. Next door in Missouri, there is a 97% compliance rate, not least because departments that don't comply stand to lose funds. In 2005, the Missouri Department of Public Safety withheld more than $7,000 from 17 non-complying agencies.

Nor is that the only problem with the Kansas racial profiling law. It also called for a 15-member Governor's Task Force on Racial Profiling, which was supposed to quantify the problem and make recommendations for abolishing the practice. But some of the task force's members apparently can't be bothered to actually show up for monthly meetings, leaving it without a quorum at its last one.

Among the critics is the task force's co-chairman. "Up until this point there's been a lot of dialogue, but the truth is, people are looking for action," said the Rev. Allen Smith of Salina. "We're expecting some real results," said Smith, pastor of St. John's Missionary Baptist Church in Salina. "I don't think the issue is going away."

Sen. Donald Betts (D-Wichita), another sponsor of the legislation, said the task force's role was even more critical because of the lack of teeth in the data collection part of the law. He said he would call for the replacement of task force members if something doesn't happen. "It does not take forever and a day to come up with recommendations of data collection," he said. "It's time to stop talking about it and time to be about it. It's time to move… If the task force doesn't do something, I intend to hold the task force accountable."

Racial profiling was identified as a problem in Kansas after a study released in 2003 showed that state troopers were three times as likely to stop black and Hispanic motorists than white ones. Police in some Kansas cities were also found to be twice as likely to stop black or brown motorists.

The 2005 bill was supposed to address that problem, but without the cooperation of law enforcement it will not. As for the task force, it has until 2009 to complete its work. But it may not get that long, especially if the police don't step up and start handing in their numbers.

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8. Southeast Asia: Probe into Thai Drug War Killings Getting Underway

In early 2003, then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared that he would wipe out drugs in Thailand by spring's end. That didn't happen, but some 2,500 alleged drug users and traffickers were killed by shadowy death squads as part of the Thaksin government's drug war that year alone.

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2003 protest at Thai embassy, DRCNet's David Guard in foreground
With Thaksin overthrown by a military coup some months ago, the new Thai government has said it would investigate the killings. This week, the investigation took a step forward with the naming of former Attorney General Khanit Nakhon to lead an independent committee looking into the killings.

Justice Ministry permanent secretary Jarun Pukditanakul told theBangkok Post Saturday the commission will ask the Department of Special Investigation to provide information to help bring guilty officials to justice. ''The government has to give priority to this issue," he said. "Those who had a hand in the extra-judicial killings must be held responsible for their acts."

That sounded good to Somchai Homlaor, head of the Foundation for Human Rights and Development, who said the murders involved people from low-level policemen all the way up to former Prime Minister Thaksin. ''This is a big issue. The government should be serious about it,'' said the human rights activist.

Thaksin acted amidst growing concern over the rapid increase in the use of methamphetamine in Thailand early this decade. Known in Thailand as "ya ba," or "crazy medicine," the drug has been popular among workers, students, and night-clubbers. Thaksin's bloody offensive to wipe out drugs failed, of course, and methamphetamines are still widely available in Thailand, but 2,500 are dead. Now they just might get some justice.

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9. Latin America: Massive US-Mexico Counter-Drug Aid Package in the Works

The government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the Bush administration are quietly negotiating a drug war aid package that could see a deepening of US involvement south of the border. The negotiations come as drug prohibition-related violence has killed around a thousand people so far this year in Mexico and 3,000 since the beginning of 2006. 2007 is on track to be even bloodier than last year.

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Mexican anti-drug patrol
Calderon has responded vigorously to prohibition-related violence since taking office at the end of last year. Currently, more than 20,000 Mexican army troops and federal police are patrolling cities like Monterrey, Tijuana, Acapulco, Mazatlan, and Culiacan, and troops are also out in the fields in drug-producing regions of the country. While the troops have made some well-publicized arrests and drug seizures, the effort has not had a noticeable impact on either the flow of drugs north or in reining in the competing drug trafficking organizations.

Mexican drug organizations make tens of billions of dollars each year funneling cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin north to the insatiable consumer markets in the US. They have used their profits to buy off the police and other public officials who are susceptible, and to buy weapons to fight those who aren't.

According to an account Wednesday in the Christian Science Monitor, the package being discussed "could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars and include everything from Blackhawk helicopters and other sophisticated military equipment to increased training and surveillance capabilities." If that turns out to be the case, it would mean Mexico will be receiving US anti-drug aid at a level before seen only in Colombia.

In fact, the proposed assistance is already being referred to as "Plan Mexico" in some circles, a not so arch reference to Plan Colombia, which, after years of fruitless US spending, finally looks to be cut back by Democrats in Congress this year. Currently, US anti-drug assistance to Mexico stands at about $40 million a year.

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10. Middle East: More Drug Executions in Saudi Arabia

Three drug offenders were among five people executed in Saudi Arabia last Friday, one of the busiest days for the executioner there in some time. According to the Saudi interior ministry, the total number of executions so far this year now stands at 117, four more than the number executed in all of 2000, the previous record high year.

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In Riyadh, Pakistani national Omar Sardar was executed for "smuggling heroin concealed in his stomach." His compatriot, Jahangir Zarin Bin Adam Khan Mhanid was executed in Jeddah for the same offense. Nigerian Nureddin Mohammed was also executed in Jeddah, for cocaine trafficking.

The other two people executed last Friday were Pakistani nationals convicted of robbing taxis.

In an International Harm Reduction Association report on drug executions issued last month, the author cited Amnesty International as finding that 26 of 50 Saudi executions in 2004 were for drug offenses and "at least" 33 more occurred in 2005. There are no figures yet available for last year.

According to the IHRA report, the number of countries that have death penalty provisions for drug offenses has climbed from 22 in 1985 to 34 this year. While nearly three dozen countries, including the US, have the death penalty for some drug offenses, actual executions have only been carried out in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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11. Canada: Health Canada Gives Okay to Sativex for Cancer Patients

Health Canada announced Tuesday it has approved Sativex, a marijuana-derived sublingual spray, for use as a pain reliever in patients suffering from advanced cancer. Sativex contains THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as well as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound.

The drug, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British concern, and Bayer, can now be used by adult cancer patients who experience moderate to severe pain even while using the highest tolerated doses of opioid pain medications. Previously, its use in Canada had been limited to multiple sclerosis patients.

Like its use for MS, Sativex's use in cancer patients was approved under Health Canada's Notice of Compliance with Conditions policy, which means that while Sativex has demonstrated promising benefits, is of high quality, and possesses an acceptable safety profile, it still needs further study.

"Cannabinoids have an important role in treating complex cancer pain, particularly neuropathic pain, and demonstrate a positive effect with current treatment options," Dr. Lawrence Librach, the director of the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, said in a Health Canada release.

"GW is delighted to receive Health Canada's regulatory approval for Sativex in the relief of cancer pain," said GW chairman Dr. Geoffrey Guy. "Sativex has been shown to provide important pain relief to the most high need patients with advanced cancer. We are pleased to be able to offer the prospect of an improved quality of life for people who previously had little such opportunity."

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12. 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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prohibition-era beer raid, Washington, DC (Library of Congress)

David Guard has been making his usual many repostings of press releases, action alerts and other organizational announcements. From the rest of the staff this week:

Scott Morgan writes: "Jury Duty: A Day in the Life of Our Corrupt War on Drugs" and "Marijuana Dealers Offer Schwarzenegger One Billion Dollars" (related post made #1 spot on Digg!).

Phil Smith asks: "What's a gram of cocaine go for where you live?" and "Who should be the next Drug Czar?"

David Borden posts: "and yet another letter from a medical marijuana patient that the feds claim don't exist..."

Join our Reader Blogs here.

Thanks for reading, and writing...

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13. 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!

Again, please help us keep Drug War Chronicle alive at this important time! Click here to make a donation online, or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation to make a tax-deductible donation for Drug War Chronicle -- remember if you select one of our member premium gifts that will reduce the portion of your donation that is tax-deductible -- or make a non-deductible donation for our lobbying work -- online or check payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, same address. We can also accept contributions of stock -- email [email protected] for the necessary info.

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14. Web Scan

After the Drug War on Drugs: Tools for the Debate, 76-page publication from UK's Transform Drug Policy Foundation

UK MP Harry Cohen discusses prohibition and ending it in Parliament

IDPC critique of World Drug Report

Interpreting Hazy Warnings About Pot and Mental Illness, Mitch Earleywine & Paul Armentano on the Huffington Post

Budthirsty: The Washington State Patrol Will Do Almost Anything to Bust a Pot Grower, by Dominic Holden for The Stranger, Seattle

The Arrest of Michael C. Kelley, first in a series of reports by Christine Beems, Gozarks.com, Arkansas

Howard Lotsof video discussing ibogaine, HaRdCOREhARMREdUCER's Drug War Log web site

Legalise Drugs to Beat Terrorists, Willem Buiter of the London School of Economics, Financial Times

A Review of the Cannabis Cultivation Contract between Health Canada and Prairie Plant Systems, report by Rielle Capler from the British Columbia Compassion Club Society

Drug Treatment Isn't a Silver Bullet, Tony Papa in the Detroit News

DrugTruth Network:
Cultural Baggage for 08/03/07: Valerie Corral, director of Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana & Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project (MP3)
Century of Lies for 08/03/07: Judge James P. Gray, author of "Why our Drug Laws have Failed and What We Can Do About It -- A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs" (MP3)

BBC program "Hecklers" program discusses prison abolition Real Audio

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15. Weekly: This Week in History

August 15, 1988: In his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, George Herbert Walker Bush states, "I want a drug-free America. Tonight, I challenge the young people of our country to shut down the drug dealers around the world... My Administration will be telling the dealers, 'Whatever we have to do, we'll do, but your day is over. You're history.'"

August 11, 1991: After ten months of extensive research, the Pittsburgh Press begins a six-day series chronicling what it calls "a frightening turn in the war on drugs": seizure and forfeiture doing enormous collateral damage to the innocent.

August 16, 1996: While visiting San Francisco, US drug czar Barry McCaffrey claims to media, "There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed. This is not science. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax and sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show." Advocates later point out that there is scientific evidence supporting medical marijuana.

August 12, 1997: The US Justice Department announces that there will be no indictments issued in the killing of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., an 18-year-old American citizen killed by US Marines on an anti-drug patrol while he was herding goats near the border town of Redford, Texas. Lt. General Carlton W. Fulford, who conducted an internal military review of the incident, said the killing might not have happened at all had civilian law enforcement agencies been patrolling the border.

August 13, 1998: Reuters reports that the US repeatedly scandalized the Colombian presidency of Ernesto Samper with allegations that he had used drug money from anti-American groups to fund his 1994 presidential campaign, and eventually the US used that as an excuse to decertify Colombia and withdraw foreign aid.

August 14, 2002: Twelve hundred medical marijuana patients, many suffering from life-threatening illnesses, lose their supply of medicine when Ontario police raid the Toronto Compassion Centre.

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16. Action Item: If You're on Facebook, Your Help is Needed Today!

Do you have a profile on Facebook? As you may know, Facebook has a new Speed Granting application that allows organizations to win grants based solely on how many votes they get. Over last weekend, our friends at Students for Sensible Drug Policy shot from last place all the way to third, and at last report were just 100 votes shy of overtaking the front-runner.

If they win, the money will go directly to a campaign in which DRCNet is always deeply involved, the effort to repeal a federal law that delays or denies financial aid to would-be students because of drug convictions. Specifically, SSDP would use this grant to pay for materials to send to campus chapters for a national Day of Action as committees in Congress prepare to consider the issue as part of the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act since 1998.

To help:

  1. Visit http://apps.facebook.com/speedgranting/proposal.php?pid=82 on the Facebook web site.
  2. Allow the application to install itself in your facebook profile. (It won't install anything on your computer, and you can remove the application from your profile after the contest is over.)
  3. Click the "Vote for this" link on the right side of the page and confirm your vote.
  4. Invite your friends to vote for SSDP too -- the Speed Granting application allows you to send a message to ten friends at a time and invite 40 friends a day, so you can do this up to four times per day until it's done. (You can also spread the word by email, instant messenger, word of mouth, etc.)
  5. Click the "Share+" button to post it to your profile.

http://apps.facebook.com/speedgranting/proposal.php?pid=82

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17. Job Listing: Opportunities at the Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project has one full-time job opening in Washington, DC, as well as several contract positions around the country. The positions are as follows:

Director of Government Relations in Washington, DC:

The Director of Government Relations, based in MPP's headquarters in Washington, DC, is MPP's congressional lobbyist. He or she also works to maintain and build coalitions with medical, religious, environmental, and property-rights organizations to persuade them to take action on MPP's legislative agenda. The position also requires managing the work of a small department staff. This is a great opportunity to play an integral role in the legislative work of the nation's largest marijuana policy reform organization.

Petitioners and Team Leaders in Arizona and Michigan:

MPP is also seeking team leaders and rank-and-file petitioners to collect signatures to place medical marijuana initiatives on two statewide ballots in November 2008. Specifically, MPP is seeking petitioners and team leaders to work in Michigan (from now through November) and Arizona (from this fall to July), and work might be available in other states in the months to come.

Visit http://www.mpp.org/jobs for detailed job descriptions for each of the above positions and instructions for applying. MPP is not taking phone calls about these positions; rather, all interested candidates should apply by using the process described at the links above.

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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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