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Drug War Chronicle #499 - August 24, 2007

1. Feature: Push for Medical Marijuana Underway in Kansas

A Republican former Kansas attorney general spoke out for medical marijuana last Friday as a push to get a bill passed there gets underway.

2. Feature: Pot Peace in Seattle as Another Hempfest Celebrates Cannabis Nation

An estimated 150,000 people attended Seattle's two-day Hempfest last weekend. Billed as the world's largest drug reform rally, Hempfest is also a celebration of the Cannabis Nation.

3. Drug War Prisoners: 86-Year-Old Alva Mae Groves Dies Behind Bars

Alva Mae "Granny" Groves died in federal prison last week. The 86-year-old grandmother was 13 years into a 24-year sentence for cocaine distribution charges she always said were punishment for failing to snitch on her children.

4. Drug War Prisoners: Pain Patient Richard Paey to Get Shot at Early Clemency

Richard Paey was sent to prison for 25 years as a drug dealer after going from pharmacy to pharmacy in his wheel chair to obtain pain medications. Now he will get an early shot at clemency.

5. Drug War Prisoners: Rockefeller Law Victim Turned Activist Veronica Flournoy Dead at 39

Veronica Flournoy, 39, wanted to get her family back together and change the drug laws after her release from prison in New York state. Instead, lung cancer killed her.

6. Appeal: Massive Increases to Our Web Site Traffic Have Increased Our Costs...

Massive increases to our web site traffic, particularly during the last three months, have forced us to upgrade our web server -- not once, but twice -- and have increased our costs. We need your help to pay for it.

7. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Visit DRCNet's "Speakeasy" blog every day for extensive discussion of the latest developments in drug policy.

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

More prison guards are in trouble. A Louisiana cop gets busted for pills -- corruption or desperation?

9. Medical Marijuana: Is An Ohio Initiative In the Works?

With a medical marijuana initiative effort well underway in Michigan, some drug reformers are turning their attention to a similar effort next door in Ohio.

10. Medical Marijuana: Obama Says End Raids, All Democratic Presidential Candidates Now on Board

With Sen. Barack Obama saying Tuesday he would end DEA raids on patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal, every Democratic Party presidential candidate (and two Republicans, too) are in agreement that the raids should end.

11. Marijuana: Humboldt County Supervisors Say Legalize It

Humboldt County this week became the second county in Northern California's "Emerald Triangle" to call for the legalization of marijuana.

12. Europe: First German Patient Approved to Use Medical Marijuana

Following a court ruling requiring the government to individually consider medical marijuana applications, a German federal institute has for the first time approved its use by a patient.

13. Weekly: This Week in History

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

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

1. Feature: Push for Medical Marijuana Underway in Kansas

An effort to bring Kansas into the ranks of the medical marijuana states took a big step forward last Friday as one of the state's most well-known political figures appeared at a news conference at the state capitol to announce his support of such a move. Former Attorney General Robert Stephan, a Republican who held the position from 1979 to 1995, told the news conference the state has an obligation to act to allow its citizens to use medications that would alleviate suffering.

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Robert Stephan, KSCCC press conference, August 2007
"Let me make clear that I am in no way advocating drug legalization," said Stephan, who has been on record as a medical marijuana supporter since 1983. "But I also do not believe that the state should preempt the role of the physician when it comes to deciding what's best for ill Kansans. That's why I support changing state law to ensure that individuals can obtain and use a limited amount of marijuana if recommended by their doctor -- without fear of prosecution."

Stephan cited his own experience as a cancer patient, as well as the suffering of other patients, in calling for a Kansas medical marijuana law. Rejecting opposition to the medicinal use of marijuana as "voodoo medicine" and recounting the moans of misery he heard on the cancer ward, Stephan said, "It seemed incomprehensible to me that there should be such suffering and any drug, including marijuana, should be available to assist the patient." Stephan said access to medical marijuana should not be limited to cancer patients. It has proven useful for glaucoma, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and other diseases, he said.
Stephan declined a Drug War Chronicle request for an interview. He said he feared talking to a publication that advocates for drug legalization would damage his cause.

Last Friday's event marked the public coming out for the Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition, which has been busy laying the groundwork for a campaign it hopes will lead to legislation next year. It certainly garnered attention in the Jayhawk State. A Google search this week produced dozens of local media mentions of the news conference.

And that's just fine with KSCCC head Laura Green. "Our goal is to get a bill introduced in the Kansas legislature to protect seriously ill Kansans from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana as a medicine," said Green, "and this will kick-start the conversation."

It is a conversation that could use a boost in the Heartland. Twelve states with some 50 million inhabitants currently have medical marijuana laws, but none of them are in the Midwest. Efforts in legislatures in states such as Illinois and Minnesota have not reached fruition, while voters in South Dakota last year narrowly defeated a medical marijuana initiative -- the first state to reject medical marijuana at the ballot box.

The KSCCC is not carrying a pre-drafted bill to present to the legislature, said Green. "We're still five months away from the legislative session, so we don't have a bill yet," she said. "We're working with individual legislators and trying to built support and a consensus. There are many different medical marijuana models out there, and we're looking for one that our legislators can get comfortable with," Green said.

Some Kansas politicians were quick off the mark to reject medical marijuana after last Friday's press conference, but Green is not concerned. "We don't have a lot of political support right now, but that's to be expected," she argued. "Some politicians say they haven't had a chance to hear from their constituents, while even some of the ones who say publicly they're against it tell us something different in private."

It's not just legislators, said Green, who added she and the KSCCC will do everything they can to make sure elected officials do hear from constituents favoring a medical marijuana bill. The coalition is about a year old and some 400 members strong right now. "We're going around the state recruiting members -- patients, physicians, nurses, members of the religious community -- to try to build our numbers," Green said.

The Kansas State Nursing Association is a key target. The influential group will vote on a medical marijuana resolution in October, Green said, noting that an endorsement from the nurses will be a powerful tool.

The group is also attempting to get the Kansas clergy on its side. "We are getting a lot of religious support," said Green, who, as head of the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas spent long hours mapping out the state's hundreds of congregations as part of laying the groundwork for drug reform efforts. "We did a mailer to members of the clergy last Friday, and we've already had 30 responses. The response from the clergy has really been great," Green said.

If the legislative record in other medical marijuana states is any indication, KSCCC and its supporters have a long and twisting road in front of them. Passage of a medical marijuana law seems to be almost universally a three-year affair, or more. But in Kansas, patient proponents have been laying the groundwork for a year or more, and now they have emerged with a key state political figure standing with them. If they manage to enter the legislative session in January with some momentum, they just might short-circuit the normal, glacial legislative process.

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2. Feature: Pot Peace in Seattle as Another Hempfest Celebrates Cannabis Nation

Cannabis Nation was on the march in Seattle last weekend. An estimated 150,000 people showed up Saturday and Sunday at Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliot Bay just north of downtown to celebrate the 16th annual Seattle Hempfest and call for marijuana legalization. Lauded by organizers as the world's largest drug reform protest rally or, as they like to put it, "protestival," once again, the Hempfest lived up to its advance billing.

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DRCNet associate director David Guard addresses Hempfest
As usual, Hempfest was marked by peacefulness, a hefty dose of commerce, and the heady, sickly sweet smell of burning marijuana. Hundreds of vendors -- the vast majority of whom seemed to be peddling glass pipes, eight-foot bongs, and other smoking accoutrements -- did a brisk business, and thousands of celebrants toked up blissfully as Seattle police -- obeying a 2003 voter-installed city "lowest priority" ordinance -- looked on without acting.

Some 60 bands ranging from rock to reggae to hip-hop to punk, as well as a tent pumping out techno music, kept the sounds coming. Among the musical highlights were reggae veteran Pato Banton, whose "I Do Not Sniff the Coke (I Only Smoke Sinsemilla)" evoked huge roars of approval and Hempfest mainstays the Herbivores, whose "Losing Battle" ("You can throw us all in prison, but you can never win the fight") could well be the Hempfest anthem.

Between the people-watching -- oh! What a glorious parade of punks, Goths, aging hippies, junior hippies, suburban moms with strollers, Oregon pot fairies, men in skirts, and the simply indescribable -- the music, the pipe shopping, and the effort of moving among the masses, it was easy to miss the serious political message behind the event, but organizers made every effort to ensure that even the most apolitical stoner got a healthy dose of the reform message.

"Hempfest is all about promoting the freedom of choice and human rights," said head organizer the ubiquitous and tireless Vivian McPeak from the Main Stage during one of his countless mini-rants between acts. "Responsible, law-abiding adults should not be incarcerated for marijuana offenses," he reminded the audience.

McPeak was only the most visible (and audible) voice of Hempfest. An all-volunteer effort involving hundreds of people, Hempfest is a testament to the power of community organizing.

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David Guard and Phil Smith at DRCNet table
And while the Hempfest multitudes may have mostly been more interested in bong hits than politics, those who were there for something more than a party had plenty of opportunities to listen and learn. Dozens of drug reformers, from nationally known figures like Jack Herer, Ed Rosenthal, Rick Steves, and Keith Stroup, as well as lesser-known but equally impressive local activists, were on the speakers' list. While serious drug policy discussion was relegated to the Hemposium tent, where panel after panel met to argue different aspects of the marijuana laws, medical marijuana, and broader drug reform issues, drug reformers also graced all the stages in between musical acts.

Travel writer and TV travel program host Rick Steves addressed a huge crowd Sunday afternoon from the Main Stage. Having just returned from Europe, Steves told the crowd that most Europeans don't consider marijuana a big deal, and neither should Americans. Steves cited the Declaration of Independence, with its call for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "I think that's what America is about," he said.

An impassioned Debby Goldsberry of the Cannabis Action Network moved the crowd with her account of DEA harassment of medical marijuana dispensaries in California, while federal medical marijuana patient Elvie Musika drew cheers and applause for standing firm for the herb.

While the crowds were happy to listen to Steves and other reform advocates talking to them from the stages between bands, drug reform booths were relatively quiet. Perhaps one out of a hundred Hempfest attendees stopped to talk politics, and maybe one out of 500 bothered to add his or her name to reform email lists.

That could be a mark of the "normalization" of marijuana on the West Coast in general and in Seattle in particular. After a rocky start with police in the festival's early days in the 1990s, police and organizers have reached an accommodation. Law enforcement reasonableness is doubtless linked to experience with the peaceful gathering, which has become a Seattle institution, but is also a matter of law and public policy in the city. In 2003, voters there approved an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. With fewer than 40 marijuana possession arrests in Seattle last year, the police clearly have heeded the voters.

While Seattle police were visible and circulating among the crowds, a no-arrest policy was clearly evident. Officers walking or riding bicycles routinely passed clusters of young pot-smokers without taking action. Seattle police Wednesday told the Chronicle there had been a grand total of five arrests. "It was a peaceful event," said Officer Mark Jamieson, a department spokesman. "There were three felony arrests and two misdemeanor arrests, and a few patrons were escorted out of the park," he said.

One of those arrested was a young man who blew pot smoke in a police officer's face, a move McPeak denounced as "boneheaded" from the stage. Another was a young man who tried to steal a woman's purse and was chased down by the crowd and held for police.

For Officer Jamieson and the Seattle police, Hempfest is just another event. "Hempfest is approached the same way as any of the hundreds of other events held in the city annually," he said. "It is a permitted, legal event which requires Seattle police officers to staff, based on the numbers of participants that attend each year."

And that's as it should be. Hempfest is indeed the world's largest drug reform "protestival," but it is also -- and for the majority of attendees, more -- a celebration and normalization of the cannabis culture that they share. Given the broad community support in Seattle and a police department that knows how to follow as well as lead its community, America will know it has reached "drug peace" when Seattle's approach is norm and not the exception for similar events around the country.

To see how far we are from drug peace now, though, just ask yourself what might have happened if Hempfest had been held in your community.

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3. Drug War Prisoners: 86-Year-Old Alva Mae Groves Dies Behind Bars

Alva Mae "Granny" Groves, the 86-year-old North Carolina grandmother sentenced to 24 years behind bars after refusing to testify against her children, died last week at a federal prison hospital in Texas. Federal prison officials denied her request to die at home, saying her charges were too serious to allow compassionate release.

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Alva Mae Groves (courtesy november.org)
Groves had already served 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to sell cocaine and aiding and abetting the trading of crack cocaine for food stamps. She was 74 when she went to prison. She always maintained that she had been punished for failing to cooperate with federal prosecutors to lock up her children for life.

"My real crime... was refusing to testify against my sons, children of my womb, that were conceived, birthed and raised with love," Groves wrote in a 2001 letter to November Coalition, an anti-prohibitionist group that concentrates on freeing federal drug war prisoners.

Law enforcement officials continue to maintain that Groves played a key role in a cocaine conspiracy conducted by family members, but family members have always said she did nothing more than look the other way. Five members of her family were imprisoned in the investigation. Her son, Ricky Groves, is doing a life sentence, while Groves, her older daughter, and her granddaughter were all sent to federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida.

Groves became one of the poster children for sentencing reform as reaction grew to the drug war excesses of the 1980s and 1990s. But any reforms will come too late for the grandmother who loved tending her garden.

"It's a relief she's dead, but it's a hurt, a real hurt we weren't with her," daughter Everline told the Charlotte Observer. "What could she have hurt?"

Groves dreamed of getting out of prison, planting new gardens, and seeing grandchildren born while she was behind bars, but never had the chance. Her kidneys began failing early this year, and she was transferred to a federal prison hospital in Fort Worth.

Groves did not want to die in prison, she told the November Coalition in a recent letter. "I realize everyone has a day to die; death is a fate that will not be cheated. But I don't want to die in prison. I want to die at home surrounded by the love of what's left of my family."

Last winter, the Groves family asked for compassionate release so she could die at home. The family wrote to every official they could think of and enlisted the help of groups like the November Coalition, to no avail. As Groves' daughters leaned over her bed on July 19, prison officials handed them a letter denying the request.

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4. Drug War Prisoners: Pain Patient Richard Paey to Get Shot at Early Clemency

A Florida man serving a 25-year sentence as a drug dealer for attempting to obtain pain medications for his back injuries will be granted an expedited chance to appeal for clemency. Richard Paey, 48, has already served four years in Florida prisons for using undated prescription forms to obtain pain medications.

Inmates must typically serve at least a third of their sentences before being considered for clemency. But in the Paey case, which has received national attention, the state Clemency Board last week voted to grant a waiver. His case is scheduled to be voted on by the board next month.

Paey, a former lawyer and father of three, was observed going from pharmacy to pharmacy in his wheelchair seeking medications to relieve the pain from a 1985 auto accident that injured his back. Prosecutors argued that anyone forging prescriptions to obtain so many pain pills had to be selling them, but Paey said he had to use large amounts of opioid pain relievers to be able to function. Paey's pain is so severe that the Florida Department of Corrections has him on a morphine pump.

Paey appealed his conviction, but the Florida Supreme Court in March refused to hear his case. Now, clemency appears to be his best shot at regaining his freedom.

(The November Coalition has posted an important action alert about the case here.)

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5. Drug War Prisoners: Rockefeller Law Victim Turned Activist Veronica Flournoy Dead at 39

Former New York Rockefeller drug law victim turned reformer Veronica Flournoy died last week of lung cancer in a Florida hospice. Flournoy, 39, a heavy drug user in her younger years, was snagged in an undercover drug operation and sentenced to eight years to life under New York's draconian Rockefeller laws.

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Veronica Flournoy, with NY Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, daughters Candace and Keeshana and mother Eileen (courtesy kunstler.org)
Flournoy served her minimum sentence, then collected her two young children and tried to begin life anew with her family. But the lung cancer, which appeared while she was in prison and which prison doctors told her not to worry about, left her with little time.

Prison opened Flournoy's eyes to the injustice of the drug war, and she never forgot her fellow prisoners. Flournoy participated in rallies designed to pressure polticians to undo the Rockefeller laws and even consented to using her terminal illness in a move to heighten the pressure. She appeared in a February public service announcement sponsored by the William Moses Kunstler Fund aimed at Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and other state politicians who have been slow to act on vows to reform the state's harsh drug laws.

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6. Appeal: Massive Increases to Our Web Site Traffic Have Increased Our Costs...

Massive increases to our web site traffic, particularly during the last three months, have forced us to upgrade our web server -- not once, but twice -- and have increased our costs. I'm writing to ask if you can help us manage this new expense. Would you be willing to make a donation to support this breakthrough work?

Things started picking up about a year ago, when we professionally redesigned the site and started publishing more than previously -- we don't just do the weekly Chronicle now, but also bring you daily blog posts, mainstream news links, an "activist feed" of bulletins from other organizations, and other interesting items.

Most recently we have had a series of big hits -- top links on sites like Reddit and Netscape where users vote for the stories they like -- and because it has continued, over and over for about three months, we have tentatively concluded that something is "going on" and that DRCNet has truly reached a new level sooner than we thought we would. Just this month, an item we posted made it to the #1 spot on the popular web site Digg, and that and another item paired with it collectively got almost 100,000 hits! On one day, StoptheDrugWar.org had almost as many people visit it as the Huffington Post -- if our server had been prepared for the traffic in advance, we would have gotten more.

Of course the costs of the machine, while significant, are only part of the picture. Literally every staff member at DRCNet is involved in this campaign, and that's a major devotion of resources that can only be sustained if you support us. Could you let us know if you're "in," by making a donation today, or by sending us an email to let us know if you will be soon?

As an encouragement, our friends at Common Sense for Drug Policy have agreed to donate copies of their updated "tabloid" publication including over 40 of the drug policy reform public service ads they have run in major publications for the past several years. Donate any amount to DRCNet this week, and we will send you a copy of the CSDP tabloid for free! Of course we continue to offer a range of books, videos, and StoptheDrugWar.org gift items as member incentives as well.

Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate to make a donation online, or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Donations to Drug Reform Coordination Network to support our lobbying work are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations to support our educational work can be made payable to DRCNet Foundation, same address. We can also accept contributions of stock -- email [email protected] for the necessary info. Thank you in advance for your support.

Sincerely,


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P.O. Box 18402
Washington, DC 20036
http://stopthedrugwar.org

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7. 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 -- huge numbers of people have been reading it recently -- 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)

This week:

Scott Morgan brings us: "FOX News Discusses Drug Legalization," "Democratic Presidential Candidates All Support Medical Marijuana," "Bush Makes Lengthy Incoherent Statement About Plan Mexico," "Supporting Medical Marijuana Is Smart Politics," "'Marijuana Signature Project' Not as Cool as it Sounds," "Why Isn't the Drug War a Mainstream Political Issue?," "Anti-Drug Researchers Claim That All High Schools are Either 'Drug Infested' or 'Drug Free.'"

David Borden contributes: "Pain News" and "New Mexico Medical Marijuana Update -- Richardson Says Full Steam Ahead Despite Attorney General's 'Prank.'"

The Reader Blogs have some really interesting posts this week too, including links to interesting articles, discussion about politicians, and other issues.

David Guard has continued to repost press releases, action alerts and other organizational announcements. in the In the Trenches blog.

Thanks for reading, and writing...

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

More prison guards are in trouble. A Louisiana cop gets busted for pills -- corruption or desperation? Let's get to it:

In Tallahassee, Florida, a Florida Department of Corrections officer was arrested last Friday on drug and other charges. Officer Terrance Ruffen, 31, faces charges of tampering with evidence and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. He was arrested after Gadsden County sheriff's deputies raided a home in Quincy in an investigation of crack cocaine sales there.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, a Shreveport police officer was arrested Tuesday on drug charges. Sgt. Thomas Morgan, a supervisor in the Uniformed Services Division, faces four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Morgan, 39, went down after Shreveport narcotics officers received a complaint a week ago that he was illegally obtaining prescription medications. He is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. (Is this corruption, or desperation? Hard to tell without more facts.)

In Elkhart, Indiana, an Elkhart County corrections officer was arrested Monday for taking home drugs seized from a prisoner after a visit. Mario Randle, 35, allegedly searched the inmate after a visit, finding a modified screwdriver containing at least two illegal drugs. Police said Randle did not report the incident, but instead took the items with him when his shift ended. He faces felony counts of drug trafficking and official misconduct and is looking at up to three years in prison. He has been fired.

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9. Medical Marijuana: Is An Ohio Initiative In the Works?

With the effort to get a medical marijuana initiative on the 2008 ballot in Michigan well underway, reform proponents are now eying next door Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday. The newspaper said the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is weighing its options in the Buckeye State.

"Ohio would be a state worth considering, certainly a high priority. It would be a question of timing," said Edward Orlett, a former Democratic state legislator who represents DPA in Ohio.

DPA sponsored a 2002 Ohio initiative that would have mandated treatment instead of incarceration for many drug offenders. It was defeated 2-to-1 at the polls after the state's Republican political establishment campaigned against it, but now Ohio legislators are pondering passing a bill that would do basically the same thing.

A medical marijuana initiative effort in Ohio would likely attract the interest of Cleveland-based Peter Lewis, the chairman and former CEO of Progressive Insurance, and a major contributor to marijuana reform efforts who gives millions of dollars each year to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

MPP has awarded a startup grant to the Ohio Patient Network, a Columbus-based group that supports medical marijuana, the newspaper reported.

Twelve states have enacted laws allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana. None of them are in the Midwest.

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10. Medical Marijuana: Obama Says End Raids, All Democratic Presidential Candidates Now on Board

The Democratic Party presidential field is now in agreement on at least one issue: The DEA's raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal should be stopped. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who had been the last holdout, on Tuesday said he would end such raids.

Obama's pledge came as a response to a question from Nashua resident and Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana volunteer Scott Turner, who asked the senator what he would do to stop the federal government from putting seriously ill people like Turner in prison in states where medical marijuana is legal. Granite Staters is a project of the Marijuana Policy Project designed to advance the issue by taking advantage of New Hampshire's crucial role in presidential primaries.

"I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users," Obama said. "It's not a good use of our resources."

Obama now joins all seven other Democratic presidential contenders in opposing the raids, as well as Republican candidates Rep. Ron Paul (TX) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO).

"For the first time in history, the leaders of one of our nation's major parties have unanimously called for an end to the federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients," GSMM campaign manager Stuart Cooper, from Manchester, said. "New Hampshire voters and medical professionals effectively sent a clear message that we would not support a candidate who would arrest – rather than protect – our nation's most seriously ill citizens. Compassion and reason are finally overcoming politics and propaganda."

Last Friday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took it a step further by sending a letter to President Bush asking him to end the raids. "Respected physicians and government officials should not fear going to jail for acting compassionately and caring for our most vulnerable citizens," Richardson wrote. "Nor should those most vulnerable of citizens fear their government because they take the medicine they need."

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11. Marijuana: Humboldt County Supervisors Say Legalize It

In a 4-0 vote, the Humboldt County, California, Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send a letter to their congressional representative asking him to work to legalize marijuana. Humboldt County is part of Northern California's famed marijuana growing "Emerald Triangle."

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Humboldt County ''Drug Enforcement Unit'' -- just abolish it
The letter, which was proposed by Supervisor Roger Rodoni, asks US Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) for his "support in helping to initiate legislation which will legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana."

Rodoni pronounced himself pleasantly surprised by the unanimous vote in an interview this week with the Eureka Reporter. "I was prepared to consider it a furthering of the conversation," he said, adding that he didn't anticipate the board's receptive vote.

The move comes on the heels of a similar effort by nearby Mendocino County, which last month endorsed marijuana legalization. Other California localities have approved measures calling for the taxation and regulation of marijuana, including Oakland (2004), Santa Cruz (2006), and San Francisco (2006).

Marijuana is a multi-billion dollar business in California and is especially important to local economies in Northern California.

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12. Europe: First German Patient Approved to Use Medical Marijuana

The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices has for the first time approved the use of medical marijuana for a patient. The institute acted in the case of a 51-year-old woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who will be able to legally buy marijuana at a pharmacy to ease her symptoms.

Beginning next month, the woman will be allowed to buy a "standardized extract" of the marijuana plant from the pharmacy for a year. The woman's health will be monitored by a doctor. In addition, both the woman and the pharmacy must store the marijuana extract in a safe to prevent theft.

Marijuana is illegal in Germany, but a 2005 German Federal Administrative Court ruling has muddied the waters when it comes to medical marijuana. In that ruling, the court held that it was "in the public interest" to improve the health of patients, so now the federal institute must individually evaluate each case where a patient seeks access to medical marijuana.

Until now, German doctors have only been able to prescribe Marinol, but that compound is both expensive and lacks some of the cannabinoids that patients say makes natural marijuana preferable to the synthetic drug. Marinol is also not approved as a medicine in Germany, meaning it is not covered by health insurance. Natural marijuana should be less expensive.

Still, despite this week's decision to approve medical marijuana for one patient, other medical marijuana patients still face possible prosecution. Last week, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported on the case of a hepatitis-C patient sentenced to a year in jail for marijuana possession.

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13. Weekly: This Week in History

August 28, 1964: The Beatles are introduced to marijuana.

August 28, 1995: The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes "WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use." The original version -- not the official one -- states, "... there are good reasons for saying that [the risks from cannabis] would be unlikely to seriously [compare to] the public health risks of alcohol and tobacco even if as many people used cannabis as now drink alcohol or smoke tobacco."

August 30, 1996: The Washington Post reports that presidential hopeful Bob Dole hammered President Clinton for his drug policy and made the war on drugs one of his top campaign issues. Declaring that President Clinton had "surrendered" in the war against drugs, Dole called for an expanded role of the National Guard, and for military and intelligence services to fight drugs.

August 25, 2001: The Denver Post reports that US District Judge John L. Kane, Jr. said: "The best way for a kid who is caught using or selling drugs to get off is to select a congressman, senator or high-ranking official as one's parent." Indeed, after the son of the now-disgraced US Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), was found flying an airplane loaded with 400 pounds of marijuana, he was freed on bail but then tested positive for cocaine three times. He wound up getting 2 1/2 years in prison -- a long time, but not by the standards of US criminal justice today. Former Education Secretary Richard Riley's son got just six months' house arrest for conspiring to sell cocaine and marijuana, though he had been indicted earlier on charges that can lead to life in prison.

August 29, 2001: The Dallas Morning News reports that Ernesto Samper, the former president of Colombia, said, "The problem is the law of the marketplace is overtaking the law of the state... We have to ask, is legalization the way out of this? We cannot continue to fight this war alone. If the consuming nations do nothing to curb demand, to control money-laundering, to halt the flow of chemicals that supply the drug-production labs, then in a few short years the world is going to see legalization as the answer."

August 29, 2001: ABC News' 20/20 Downtown features a comparison of US and Dutch drug policy, with an accompanying online interactive poll, asking "Should marijuana be legalized?" Seventy-eight percent respond "YES."

August 27, 2002: Canadian Press, Canada's national newswire, reports that Health Minister Anne McLellan said the federal government is not backing away from its plan to supply patients with medical marijuana. Bristling earlier reports that the project had been shelved, McLellan said, "In fact, far from shelving it, what we're doing is implementing the second stage."

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14. 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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15. Webmasters: Help the Movement by Running DRCNet Syndication Feeds on 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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16. Resource: DRCNet Web Site Offers Wide Array of RSS Feeds for Your Reader

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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17. Resource: Reformer's Calendar Accessible Through DRCNet Web Site

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/appointmentbook.jpg
DRCNet's Reformer's Calendar is a tool you can use to let the world know about your events, and find out what is going on in your area in the issue. This resource used to run in our newsletter each week, but now is available from the right hand column of most of the pages on our 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.

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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