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Drug War Chronicle #512 - November 30, 2007

1. Canadian Tories' Mandatory Minimum Drug Bill Draws Stiff Opposition, But Can It Be Stopped?

Last week, Canada's Conservative government introduced legislation to create mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, including marijuana cultivation. Now, opposition is emerging, but will it be able to block Canada's lurch toward a US-style drug war?

2. Chewing and Grinding: A South Dakota Drug War Story

Going home from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally should have been a pleasant ride for Nebraskan Eric Sage. It didn't turn out that way--for him or his friends.

3. Medical Marijuana: Courts in California and Colorado Rule Cops Must Return Patient's Medicine

Law enforcement agencies which cannot seem to grasp that medical marijuana is legal in their states got their hands slapped by courts in Colorado and California this week. In both states, judges ruled that police must return medical marijuana unlawfully seized from legal patients or providers.

4. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Ron Paul on Medical Marijuana," "Hillary Clinton Pledges Support for Needle Exchange," "John Edwards Criticizes the War on Drugs," "Does Marijuana Make You Better at Sports?," "John McCain's Awful Response to a Cop Who Wants to End the Drug War," "Update on Pain Physician Dr. William Mangino," "Needle Exchange Action May Be Imminent," "California Sent 1,000 Drug Offenders to Fight the Forest Fire," "Republicans Try Marijuana at Higher Rate Than Democrats."

5. Students: Intern at DRCNet and Help Stop the Drug War!

Apply for an internship at DRCNet for this fall (or spring), and you could spend the semester fighting the good fight!

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

Bad cops cost cases in one Georgia county, a bad cop gets popped in another Georgia county, a bad cop gets several breaks from his colleagues in Michigan, and a bad cop goes to prison in Texas.

7. Harm Reduction: New Jersey's First Legal Needle Exchange Is Open

New Jersey's first legal needle exchange opened for business Tuesday. The move comes nearly a year after the legislature finally approved a pilot program for up to six cities. Look for more exchanges to come in Camden, Newark, and Paterson.

8. Hemp: Court Rejects Bid By North Dakota Farmers to Get DEA Out of the Way

A federal district judge in Bismarck has dismissed a lawsuit by two would-be North Dakota hemp farmers who sought to get the DEA out of their way. Congress should address the issue, the judge said.

9. Europe: Edinburgh Police Plan for "Drug Tolerance Zone" in City Center Stirs Controversy

A high police official in Edinburgh has broached the notion of not arresting small-time drug offenders in the city center, but the idea has attracted a lot of heat, and now the police are backpedaling.

10. Southwest Asia: US Plan For Aerial Spraying of Afghan Poppies on Hold -- for Now

Facing strong opposition from the Afghan government, European allies, and even elements of the US government, the State Department announced Wednesday it had given up on an aerial spraying program designed to eradicate Afghan opium poppies -- at least for now.

11. Southeast Asia: Most Killed in Thailand's 2003 Drug War Not Involved With Drugs, Panel Finds

Investigatory panels looking into 2,500 drug war killings in Thailand in the spring of 2003 have determined that more than half of those killed had nothing to do with drugs. Meanwhile, at least one Thai politician wants to return to the tough drug policies that led to those mass killings.

12. Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, More Death Sentences in Vietnam

The use of the death penalty against drug offenders continues apace in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Iran executes six, Vietnam upholds one death sentence, and Vietnamese prosecutors seek 11 more.

13. Web Scan

Libby Davies, Pew Center, Judge Jerry Paradis, Dean Becker CNN/YouTube submission.

14. Weekly: This Week in History

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

15. Job Opportunity: Field Director, SAFER, Denver

Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is hiring a Field Director for its Denver-based office.

16. Internships: Two Openings at Americans for Safe Access

ASA has two internship opportunities available for the spring semester, one in their Washington, DC office and one in their Oakland, CA office.

17. 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.

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

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

19. Resource: DRCNet Web Site Offers Wide Array of RSS Feeds for Your Reader

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

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

Canadian Tories' Mandatory Minimum Drug Bill Draws Stiff Opposition, But Can It Be Stopped?

Canada's Conservative federal government last week introduced legislation -- bill C-26 -- that would create mandatory prison sentences for drug trafficking and drug producing offenses, including marijuana cultivation. The move marks a firm embrace of US-style drug war policies by the government of Prime Minister Steven Harper and comes as part of a larger "tough on crime" legislative package. While the measure has strong support among Harper's culturally conservative base and the law enforcement community, it has also excited a firestorm of opposition, and efforts to move it through parliament are sure to result in a battle royal.

But the Harper drug bill will advance -- or not -- within the context of a minority government able to wield the threat of any early call for elections against a Liberal opposition party that doesn't think it is up to the challenge just now. Because Harper's is a minority government, it will need the support of some opposition members to pass, and whether the Liberals will want to make tougher sentences for drug offenders a make or break issue remains to be seen.

While New Democratic Party (NDP) drug policy critic MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East) has already denounced the measure, neither the Liberals nor the Bloc Québecois have issued statements on it. Nor had either party responded to Chronicle requests for comment by press time.

"Drug producers and dealers who threaten the safety of our communities must face tougher penalties," said Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson in a statement announcing the legislation. "This is why our government is moving to impose mandatory jail time for serious drug offenses that involve organized crime, violence or youth."

According to the justice minister, the legislation will amend Canada's drug law, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to include the following mandatory minimum sentences and other enhanced penalties:

  • A one-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for dealing drugs such as marijuana when carried out for organized crime purposes, or when a weapon or violence is involved;

  • A two-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to youth, or for dealing those drugs near a school or an area normally frequented by youth;
  • A two-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for the offense of running a large marijuana grow operation of at least 500 plants;
  • The maximum penalty for cannabis production would increase from 7 to 14 years imprisonment; and
  • Tougher penalties will be introduced for trafficking GHB and flunitrazepam (most commonly known as date-rape drugs).

"Drugs are dangerous and destructive, yet we see Canadian youth being exposed to and taking drugs at such young ages, and grow-ops and drug labs appearing in our residential areas," said Minister Nicholson. "By introducing these changes, our message is clear: if you sell or produce drugs -- you'll pay with jail time."

According to a justice ministry backgrounder on the legislation, marijuana trafficking offenses involving at least three kilograms of weed would be subject to one- or two-year mandatory minimum sentences if "aggravating factors" are present. To earn a one-year mandatory minimum sentence, the offense would have to be "for the benefit of organized crime," involve the use or threat of force or violence, or be committed by someone convicted of a similar offense within the past 10 years. Aggravating factors that can garner a two-year mandatory minimum include trafficking in a prison, in or near a school or "near an area normally frequented by youth," in concert to a youth, or selling to a youth.

The proposed legislation also includes mandatory minimum sentences for any marijuana cultivation offense -- if "the offense is committed for the purpose of trafficking." For up to 200 plants, it's six months mandatory jail time; for 201-500 plants, it's one year in jail; and for more than 500 plants, it's a two-year mandatory minimum. The penalties increase to nine months, 18 months, and 36 months, respectively, if "health and safety factors" are involved. Those factors include using someone else's property to commit the offense, creating a potential health or safety hazard to children, creating a potential public safety hazard in residential areas, or setting traps.

"How fast can we go backwards?" asked attorney and University of Ottawa criminology professor Eugene Oscapella, head of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. "The government is lurching from mistake to mistake on drug policy issues. The Canadian Supreme Court shot down a mandatory minimum seven-year penalty for importing narcotics, and now this government is trying to slip in and establish mandatory minimums that will meet constitutional muster. It is the wrong thing to do in terms of a sensible drug policy," he said.

The legislation could have unintended consequences if it passes, Oscapella said. "By bumping up penalties from seven to 14 years for growing cannabis, it could scare away the "Ma and Pa" operators and leave the field open for organized crime. This bill acts as a broom to sweep out the minor players, and who will fill that gap?"

"This bill will make George W. Bush very happy," said the NDP's Davies. "He will know that at least Stephen Harper is following his lead. The bill has all the dirty hallmarks of the so called 'war on drugs' that has been raging in the United Sates for close to 40 years. As in the US, the rhetoric and spin on this bill plays on fears of drug pushers, especially regarding youth, as the bill promises to get tough on traffickers and dealers, and to protect our children in and around school premises."

Too bad it won't work, said Davies. "The only problem is, as history and reality shows us, this heavy handed reliance on law enforcement is not only a failure; it is a colossal failure, economically, socially, and culturally. Law enforcement regarding drugs typically targets low level dealers and users, and ironically re-enforces the monopoly of organized crime and the drug kingpins, who either escape enforcement or are in the best position to negotiate deals."

The legislation wasn't winning any kudos from Canada's cannabis community, either. "While being portrayed as balanced in government talking points, this legislation is anything but," said Tim Meehan of Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis, a recently formed medical marijuana advocacy organization based in Ontario. "Unlike the de facto leniency Canadians mostly get before the courts if they have a very small home garden, in this bill there is no personal growing exemption -- even one plant will get you six months, which is effectively nine months unless you are growing in your own house, in a rural area, and are miles from schools or even a park where kids hang out."

"They define organized crime as at least three people operating to the benefit of at least one," pointed out Cannabis Culture magazine publisher Marc Emery, perhaps Canada's best known marijuana advocate. "That means if you grow a plant and give some to me and I sell some to someone else, we're now organized crime. If you're growing a few plants for sale, that's a nine-month mandatory minimum and they take your kids away. They're going to need a new prison in British Columbia every year if this passes."

Emery also predicted other unintended consequences. "The price will go up within a year of passage, and that will cause us to be importing weed from the US for the first time ever," he prophesied.

But, of course, the bill does have its supporters, not only among the Conservative base, but also among powerful law enforcement organizations. "We support the legislation," said Fredericton, New Brunswick Police Chief Barry MacKnight, head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. "Our overall position is that there must be a balanced approach to the drug problem, and mandatory minimum sentences are just part of that. A very aggressive judicial approach toward drug dealers and manufacturers is consistent with our objectives," he said. "This isn't aimed at that young person smoking a joint behind a building."

While such words may be intended to provide reassurance to the likes of Meehan and Emery, Canada's cannabis nation should not mistake the chief's attitude as one of tolerance. "When it comes to marijuana, our message is clear," said MacKnight. "The jury is in: Marijuana is a harmful drug. Clearly, we are focused on the most harmful drugs, but you can't isolate marijuana from this debate. When it comes to production and trafficking, marijuana is part of the drug subculture."

Ever the guerrilla warrior, Emery is calling for a a nationwide series of demonstrations outside parliament members' offices on December 17. "There are 308 MP offices, and we plan to have at least a dozen people outside each one of them dressed in prison uniforms and holding signs saying 'This is your child with the new Tory drug laws,'" he said. "There won't be any pot-smoking at these events -- this is about politics, not defiance -- and we'll also have people in suits handing out information. The object is to educate the MP and the public. We're telling everyone to tell their MP to stall the bill, or better yet, reverse it -- legalize pot and end prohibition."

While Emery takes the battle to the streets, others will be walking the hallways as they seek to block the bill. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has long opposed mandatory minimum sentencing, even publishing a 2006 briefing paper detailing its objections. The group's executive director, Richard Elliott, said Wednesday it would fight the bill in parliament.

"We don't know whether we'll be able to stop it, but we will try to talk to the relevant MPs and we will request to appear before the Standing Committee on Justice, as we did last year," Elliott said. "We'll also make the case as to why this is not a particularly good approach to the relevant ministers, although I doubt they will be open to hearing any criticism."

And so it will come down to the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc to stop the bill, and as the largest opposition party, the Liberals are key. With the Conservative threat to call early elections looming in the background, the question is whether the Liberals risk provoking elections over the drug bill. Don't count on it, said Elliott.

"Even if we manage to convince some Liberals this is the wrong approach, I'm not sure they're willing to fall on their swords over this particular issue," he said. "The current political situation is really quite favorable to the governing party because the opposition parties aren't ready to go."

"This is one of those gut-reaction issues," said Oscapella. "When you talk about how we have to tough on drugs, politicians tend to tag along. But it's very important that this bill be blocked; once you have mandatory minimums, they are very difficult to get rid of."

To that end, look for a growing coalition of opponents to emerge and attempt to coordinate. Some portions of the opposition parties will join the fight, as will civil society organizations, and perhaps, given the costs they would have to bear, some provincial governments. But they need to organize quickly; the Conservatives could move fast.

"I suspect this will be one of their top priorities," said Elliott. "They can move this quickly, and I suspect there will be committee hearings early next year, and after that, a vote by the House on a final reading," he predicted.

"This is about creating the perception they are tough on crime," Elliott said. "Unfortunately, we are heading more in your direction with this legislation, and this will only make matters worse."

"These are frightening times," said Oscapella. "We look down and what a colossal failure these policies have been in the US and say, 'Hey, let's do that, too.'"

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Chewing and Grinding: A South Dakota Drug War Story

special to Drug War Chronicle by Bob Newland

[Editor's Note: Drug War Chronicle is beginning a new occasional series of reports on the day-to-day workings of the war on drugs. We spend a lot of time reporting on committee hearings, election campaigns, ballot initiatives, speeches, statements, findings, and even reporting on reports. But while we chronicle the progress (or lack thereof) of drug reform efforts, the drug war grinds on. Last year, some 1.8 million people were arrested on drug charges. We aim to start telling some of their stories -- or to let them tell them themselves. They portray many small injustices nestled inside the larger injustice that is drug prohibition, but that's just business as usual. And business as usual is the problem, as these stories will indicate.

Our first drug war account comes from South Dakota. Famed among motorcycle enthusiasts for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the state also feeds off the event's attendees. As the rally draws nearer every August, South Dakota Highway Patrol cars hover beside the interstates like vultures awaiting the arrival of their prey, and the hunting is good. The Patrol's online publication, The Newsroom, shows a whopping 38 felony and 192 misdemeanor drug arrests for Sturgis week, compared to a normally single-digit number of felony drug busts each week and misdemeanor drug busts in the low dozens.

There's an old line among Sturgis attendees about South Dakota's enforcement activities: "Come on vacation, leave on probation." (An alternate version: "Come on a stroll, leave on parole.") But, as this week's story shows, even when they don't get you, they get you.]

Main Street during Sturgis Rally (courtesy Wikimedia)
Day after day, it chews and grinds. Its only purpose is chewing and grinding. The chewing and grinding gives it no satisfaction, only another day of existence. Another day of chewing and grinding. The War on Some Drugs has endless hunger. Eric Sage has felt that hunger turned toward him.

Sage, 31, works at a family-owned manufacturing company in Sidney, Nebraska. Sage was riding his motorcycle home August 7, after spending a couple of days at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, accompanied by Jorge, who was driving Sage's pickup with passengers Kalie and Barb.

Sage was stopped by South Dakota Highway Patrolman Dave Trautman ten miles
east of Rapid City on Interstate 90 for "weaving" in his own lane. Jorge pulled over also, and stopped ahead of Sage's bike, which was ahead of the patrol car. The patrol car's dash-cam records video of what happens in front and audio of what's said in the car.

Trautman ticketed Sage for a minor traffic infraction, then asked him to wait by the guard rail while he talked to Jorge. Trautman brought Jorge to the patrol car, berating him for tailgating, then asked for permission to search the pickup. Jorge told him the pickup belonged to Sage, but gave permission to search when Trautman told him the driver had that right. Trautman left Jorge in the patrol car, then got out and paused to speak to Sage.

Sage says Trautman asked for permission to search, and, having received it, asked, "Where would I find anything illegal in there?" Sage says he replied slightly sarcastically, "I don't know. Glovebox?"

Trautman then proceeded to the pick-up and ordered the two women passengers to sit on the grass at the road's edge. After spending 16 minutes searching the vehicle, he emerged, poured out a beer, and is seen in the dash-cam coming back to the patrol car with one of the women and a handbag.

"There's weed in your purse," Trautman said in the first comment audible on the tape.

"Yeah," replied the woman, Barbara.

"Where's the weed that was in the glove box?" Trautman then asked. Barb was bewildered by the question. She then admitted to having smoked weed that morning, having nearly finished off the bag in her purse, with the pipe also in her purse.

"With these guys?" Trautman asked.

"Yeah," she said.

Trooper Trautman then walked back to the pickup, looked around the passenger side, and returned to the patrol car. "Here's what I'm gonna do," he resumed. "Everybody's admitted smoking weed..."

Eric Sage
The dash-cam tape ends at this point. In a later written report on the incident, Sage said he was told that the camera "stopped."

Trautman wrote one of the women passengers, Kalie, a ticket for the open container. But he then also cited all four travelers with "possession of paraphernalia," which seems unsupported by the evidence, given that only one of them -- Barb -- was found in possession of paraphernalia. But it gets weirder.

Barb paid her paraphernalia fine, about $250. Kalie paid her open container fine. Jorge is considering what to do. Eric returned to Rapid City August 21 and pled not guilty, thinking it ludicrous that someone on a motorcycle could get charged for something somebody in a nearby pickup had in her purse.

[Editor's Note: The unwary protagonists of this tale did things they shouldn't have done and didn't do things they should have done to avoid getting into this mess in the first place. The basic rule is never consent to a search and keep your mouth shut. As Scott Morgan, Associate Director of the civil liberties organization Flex Your Rights pointed out: "This whole incident stems from the driver's initial decision to consent to a police search. Evidence was discovered, at which point the suspects needlessly implicated one another in criminal activity by admitting to marijuana use. Refusing the search and declining to answer incriminating questions could likely have prevented the subsequent legal fiasco that resulted from this traffic stop."]

Asked why he fought the charges, given that he knew to begin with that it would cost him more than just paying the fine for paraphernalia, Sage said, "I wasn't guilty. I had a clean record. Why should I say I did something I didn't do?"

He was scheduled for a "dispositional" hearing October 15. That's where the state's attorney makes his last plea offer. On October 12, Gina Nelson of the Pennington County state's attorney's office left a message on Eric's phone: "If you don't plead to 'paraphernalia', we'll charge you with 'ingestion'" -- an offense unique to South Dakota.

South Dakota codified law 22-42-15 prohibits ingesting anything except alcohol for the purpose of intoxication, and they'll put you in jail for as long as a year, and fine you as much as $1,000, for wanting to get "high" instead of drunk. It also doesn't matter if you were even in South Dakota when you ingested the drug: "The venue for a violation of this section exists in either the jurisdiction in which the substance was ingested, inhaled, or otherwise taken into the body or the jurisdiction in which the substance was detected in the body of the accused."

Sage refused to cave in. At the hearing, Nelson did as promised, withdrew the paraphernalia charge and instituted an ingestion charge. A preliminary hearing was set for November 21, for a judge to decide whether there was enough evidence to take the case to trial.

For Eric Sage, who has a spotless criminal record, the stakes had just leaped at least fourfold. Chewing and grinding.

The search had yielded .1 oz. of marijuana, according to Trautman's arrest report, which probably includes the weight of the baggie (1/10 oz. on a postal scale) and a pipe, both found in Barb's purse. Sage said he wasn't even aware that anything besides a pipe was in evidence until he saw the report in early November.

South Dakota law requires an arrest report on a Class 1 misdemeanor (ingestion), but not on a Class 2 (paraphernalia), so Trooper Trautman dutifully sat down nine weeks after the day he ticketed Eric Sage and wrote a report in which he alleges that Sage confessed to smoking marijuana that day out of the bag in question. The alleged confession took place after Trautman's dash-cam "stopped." But Sage maintains that Trautman merely informed him he was "doing him a favor" by only charging him with paraphernalia and not taking him to jail.

Trautman's report contains several statements that don't jibe with the camera's story, and he admitted not remembering some details more than two months after the fact. Still, the report contained enough claims by the trooper to arguably support the charge. In other words, Trautman tried to do the job the state's attorney wanted him to do.

A preliminary hearing was set for November 21. Sage retained an attorney, Rena Hymans of Sturgis, who called Assistant States Attorney Nelson repeatedly asking if she was really going to move forward on the case. She left detailed messages on Nelson's voice mail: "Are you really going to have a prelim on this?" The calls went unreturned.

On November 21, Sage drove the 241 miles from his Nebraska home to the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City. After meeting with Hymans, the pair went to the Clerk of Courts, who handed them a piece of paper saying the charges had been dismissed by Nelson five days earlier.

In dismissing the charges, Nelson cited "jurisdictional issue (charges involve Meade County)." In other words, faced with having to actually prosecute the case, Nelson and her boss, Pennington County States Attorney Glenn Brenner, punted. Since they now argued that the "ingestion" offense for which Sage was charged allegedly took place at Sturgis, in Meade County, Nelson dumped the case on Meade County States Attorney Jesse Sondreal, who has declined to pursue it. After all, who really wants to prosecute a case where there is no evidence to support the charge?

Despite losing a skirmish in the war on drugs, Brenner and Nelson were able to stick it to Sage one final time by making him take the long journey to Rapid City for nothing. Sage's expenses attributable to being charged with a crime that presented no evidence have mounted to at least $3,000. And so the war on drugs chews and grinds.

"They do this all the time at the Sturgis rally," Sage said after the charges were dropped. "They pull people over, then they figure out why. It's just revenue for them. I'd have played a part in that if I'd paid the ticket. It turns out I played a part anyway. I was mugged. I was mugged by guys in suits with law degrees who knew I wasn't guilty. They just wanted to see me pay. It was like sport to them."

Chewing and grinding, guilty or innocent, the beast doesn't care. Chew them up and swallow them, or chew them up and spit them out. They're still chewed up. Charge with a crime, and if they fight it, punish them. Make them pay. Up the ante. Make them pay again. And, if after having the gall to demand their day in court, they lose, whack them hard for taking up the court's valuable time. And so it goes. Just another day in the drug war. This time it was South Dakota, but it could be Anywhere, USA.

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Medical Marijuana: Courts in California and Colorado Rule Cops Must Return Patient's Medicine

Court rulings in two medical marijuana states this week slapped down law enforcement agencies who don't want to uphold the law. In both cases, judges ordered law enforcement agencies to return marijuana seized from patients or providers.

In Colorado, a Larimer County District Court judge ruled Monday that the sheriff's department must return 39 marijuana plants and growing equipment seized from a Fort Collins couple during an August 2006 raid. After listening to four hours of testimony in which patients told him James and Lisa Masters were growing for them, Judge James Hiatt issued a verbal order requiring the department to turn over the plants and equipment to the couple. Although the couple were not registered as caregivers, they were acting as caregivers and thus protected by the law, the judge held.

The couple's attorney, Brian Vicente, who also heads the marijuana advocacy group Sensible Colorado, warned authorities that his clients will seek compensation if the sheriff's department does not deliver the plants in good condition. "If they've allowed these plants to die, they've broken the law," said Vicente, adding that he estimated their combined value at $100,000.

The district court ruling could be appealed. Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson had not decided by week's end whether his office would appeal.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a California appeals court ordered the Garden Grove Police Department to return marijuana it seized from a patient. Police had seized eight grams of marijuana from Felix Kha during a June 2005 traffic stop. Prosecutors dropped marijuana possession charges after Kha proved he had a doctor's recommendation. Kha asked for his medicine back, and his trial judge agreed. But the city appealed, arguing that it should not have to violate federal drug laws.

In its Wednesday opinion, a three-judge panel from the Fourth Appellate District slapped the city down, saying state law comes first. "By returning Kha's marijuana to him, the Garden Grove police would not just be upholding the principles of federalism... They would be fulfilling their more traditional duty to administer the laws of this state," the opinion read. "We do not believe that federal drug laws supersede or preempt Kha's right to a return of his property,'' they later continued.

Medical marijuana advocates, who have tallied dozens of similar seizures by local law enforcement agencies, called the ruling a victory for patients' and states' rights. "It should now be abundantly clear to law enforcement across the state that it is not acceptable to seize the medicine of seriously ill patients," said Joe Elford, who represented Kha as Chief Counsel for Americans for Safe Access.

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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!

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

Since last issue:

Scott Morgan writes: "Ron Paul on Medical Marijuana," "Hillary Clinton Pledges Support for Needle Exchange," "John Edwards Criticizes the War on Drugs," "Does Marijuana Make You Better at Sports?" and "John McCain's Awful Response to a Cop Who Wants to End the Drug War."

David Borden contributes "Update on Pain Physician Dr. William Mangino" and "Needle Exchange Action May Be Imminent."

David Guard authors "California Sent 1,000 Drug Offenders to Fight the Forest Fire" and "Republicans Try Marijuana at Higher Rate Than Democrats," and posts numerous press releases, action alerts and other organizational announcements in the In the Trenches blog.

Please join us in the Reader Blogs too.

Thanks for reading, and writing...

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Students: Intern at DRCNet and Help Stop the Drug War!

Want to help end the "war on drugs," while earning college credit too? Apply for a DRCNet internship for this fall semester (or spring) and you could come join the team and help us fight the fight!

DRCNet (also known as "Stop the Drug War") has a strong record of providing substantive work experience to our interns -- you won't spend the summer doing filing or running errands, you will play an integral role in one or more of our exciting programs. Options for work you can do with us include coalition outreach as part of the campaign to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act, and to expand that effort to encompass other bad drug laws like the similar provisions in welfare and public housing law; blogosphere/web outreach; media research and outreach; web site work (research, writing, technical); possibly other areas. If you are chosen for an internship, we will strive to match your interests and abilities to whichever area is the best fit for you.

While our internships are unpaid, we will reimburse you for metro fare, and DRCNet is a fun and rewarding place to work. To apply, please send your resume to David Guard at [email protected], and feel free to contact us at (202) 293-8340. We hope to hear from you! Check out our web site at to learn more about our organization.

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Bad cops cost cases in one Georgia county, a bad cop gets popped in another Georgia county, a bad cop gets several breaks from his colleagues in Michigan, and a bad cop goes to prison in Texas. Let's get to it:

In Aiken County, Georgia, prosecutors are expected to begin dismissing drug cases this week in the wake of the firing of the four officers who made up the Aiken County Sheriff's Office drug squad. The four were fired after they got jacked up on booze and went on a bar-to-bar joyride in a county vehicle with a woman who engaged in sex acts with them. Aiken County Solicitor Barbara Morgan said some 300 drug cases are now in jeopardy.

In Marietta, Georgia, a Marietta Police officer was arrested Tuesday as Gwinnett County authorities swept up 31 people indicted in an international ecstasy distribution bust. Officer Isaac Saleumsy, a two-year veteran of the force, was reported to be currently sitting in the Gwinnett County Jail and will presumably face ecstasy possession and distribution conspiracy charges. Saleumsy has been suspended pending his upcoming termination.

In Detroit, a previously indicted Flat Rock police officer was jailed by a federal judge after several traffic incidents where fellow law enforcement officers provided him with the "professional courtesy" of not ticketing him for alcohol or drug-impaired driving. Former Flat Rock Officer David Dewitt, 37, had been indicted for his role in an illegal prescription drug ring in which two people died, but had been free on bail pending trial. In court papers filed Monday, the FBI said police in Woodhaven and Flat Rock had looked the other way as Dewitt accumulated six traffic stops that appeared to be drug or alcohol related. In one case, where Dewitt hit another vehicle while driving the wrong way on an I-75 exit ramp, officers failed to conduct a sobriety test, didn't write him a ticket, and gave him a ride home. Things came to a head for Dewitt Saturday, when he got nailed twice in one day for driving under the influence of drugs. Dewitt was a threat to public safety, the judge said in revoking his bail.

In McAllen, Texas, a former Elsa police officer was sentenced November 21 to seven years in federal prison after being caught in an undercover bribery and drug sting. Herman Carr, 46, had earlier pleaded guilty to taking $5,000 in August 2006 to provide protection for a vehicle he believed was carrying 11 pounds of cocaine. The drug dealers were actually FBI agents. Carr is the second former Elsa officer to go down in the sting: In May, Ismael Gomez, 27, got an eight-year sentence for taking $2,500 to protect a supposed 22 pound coke shipment.

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Harm Reduction: New Jersey's First Legal Needle Exchange Is Open

The needle exchange program bill passed nearly a year ago by the New Jersey state legislature has borne its first fruit. A needle exchange program operated by the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City began operations Tuesday.

popular syringe exchange logo
Under the New Jersey law, up to a half-dozen municipalities can apply to operate needle exchange programs. Atlantic City has long clamored for such a program and is the first off the mark, but preparations for similar programs are underway in Camden, Newark, and Paterson.

Needle exchange programs are a proven means of reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

According to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance's New Jersey head Roseanne Scotti, who was instrumental in guiding the legislation to passage, 20 people registered for the Atlantic City program on its first day of operation. The program runs out of the South Jersey AIDS Alliance drop-in center and is currently limited to four hours a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The city plans to take the exchange program mobile, but it still working on gathering the money to pay for a van.

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Hemp: Court Rejects Bid By North Dakota Farmers to Get DEA Out of the Way

In Bismarck, US District Court Judge Daniel Hovland Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by two would-be North Dakota hemp farmers seeking to end the DEA's ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States. Controlling opinions in the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals find that the federal Controlled Substances Act includes industrial hemp within the definition of marijuana, thus leaving hemp under the jurisdiction of the drug agency, Hovland wrote in his 22-page decision.

Backed by a state law permitting industrial hemp production and a friendly state Department of Agriculture, farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, the latter also a Republican state legislator, applied for licenses from the DEA to grow hemp. When the DEA failed to act on their applications, they sued in federal court.

Attorneys for the farmers said they are considering whether to appeal the decision. Among possible grounds would be the court's finding, following the DEA, that hemp and marijuana are the same thing.

While recognizing that industrial hemp could be a valuable commercial crop for North Dakota and that the farmers are unlikely to ever get DEA approval of their applications, Hovland wrote that the issue is one best resolved by Congress.

"The policy arguments raised by the plaintiffs are best suited for Congress rather than a federal courtroom in North Dakota," wrote Hovland, noting that a bill -- the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 -- had been introduced to address the issue. "Whether efforts to amend the law will prevail, and whether North Dakota farmers will be permitted to grow industrial hemp in the future, are issues that should ultimately rest in the hands of Congress rather than in the hands of a federal judge."

"Obviously we are disappointed with the decision," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a grassroots group working to bring industrial hemp farming back to the US. "The court's decision shows it understands that the established and growing market for industrial hemp would be beneficial for North Dakota farmers to supply. Yet the decision overlooks Congress's original intent -- and the fact that farmers continued to grow hemp in the US for twenty years after marijuana was banned. If the plaintiffs decide to appeal the case, we would wholeheartedly support that effort. We are not giving up and will take this decision to Washington, DC to prompt action by Congress on HR 1009, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007, which would clarify a state's right to grow the crop," added Steenstra.

While the farmers lost their case, it has apparently prompted the DEA to finally act on an eight-year-old application from North Dakota State University to conduct research on industrial hemp. During oral arguments in the case two weeks ago in Bismarck, the DEA's failure to act on the university's application came under discussion as the court weighed the likelihood of the agency ever responding to the farmers. Now, the DEA has sent a "Memorandum of Agreement" to the university which, if signed by the school, would clear the way for research to get underway.

"It seems our arguments about the DEA's delay in processing NDSU's application have resulted in the agency finally taking positive action to allow research," noted David Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a manufacturer of soap and other body care products using hemp oil imported from Canada.

But that's small solace for hemp advocates and North Dakota farmers in the face of a federal court system that has so far been unable to apply common sense to the hemp question.

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Europe: Edinburgh Police Plan for "Drug Tolerance Zone" in City Center Stirs Controversy

Under a plan pushed by new police Inspector Andy Gilhooley, Edinburgh, Scotland police could be told not to arrest people for small-time drug possession in the city center. But if a legion of critics have their way, that pragmatic approach may never see the light of day.

Gilhooley, who just took charge of the central policing team at the West End station, briefed officers on his proposal last week. Under the plan, people carrying small quantities of drugs would simply have them confiscated. Similarly, staff at pubs and clubs would be told not to call police when they find drugs, but to seize them and store them in a sealed container until police could collect them at a later date.

"If someone is caught with £2 of a drug, is arresting that person the best use of police time? This is something that has happened in various UK cities and we are now looking at it. We're looking for best working practice," Gilhooley said in remarks reported by The Scotsman. "I'm interested in keeping officers on the streets rather than having them distracted for several hours to deal with someone caught with a small amount of drugs. We have a responsibility to provide a high-visibility presence. That's one measure we're considering to see if it's worth pursuing. Is it worth it? My personal answer is that yes, it is worth pursuing."

But at least one of the officers he briefed didn't think so and went running to the press, exciting a storm of opposition to the proposal in the process. "This would be aimed at stopping officers being tied up for hours with drug arrests," said the nameless officer. "But it leaves officers open to complaints they have taken drugs off someone and 'where did they go?' It's a trap door for police," he whined. "And once the word goes out that carrying drugs in the city center will only result in confiscation, that will have an impact."

After The Scotsman's initial report, the critics piled on. In the newspaper's Tuesday edition, the story on the affair was titled "Fury At Police Suggestion of Drugs Tolerance Zone for Capital City Center", and concern about sending wrong messages was the trope of the day.

The move "sends the wrong message," said Labor Party justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill. "I understand the officer's desire to have more visibility in the streets. That's what people want. But this isn't the way to do it."

"This sends a disastrous message," said Bill Aitken, the Scottish Tories' justice spokesman. "A zero-tolerance approach needs to be followed or Scotland's drug problems will get even worse."

Even Glasgow University drug use researcher Neil McKeganey, who usually spends his time hunting for signs of mental illness among pot smokers, chimed in. The police proposal was "extraordinary," he said. "If one wanted to turn Edinburgh city center into a drugs fair, this is how to do it."

Local officials, however, were more willing to give the idea some consideration. Tory Councillor Joanna Mowat, who sits on the police board, gave a "cautious welcome" to the idea. "I think this could be a pragmatic approach," she said.

While Councillor Iain Whyte pronounced himself "concerned" that he had not heard of the idea before reading about it in The Scotsman and predicted the plan would win little public favor, he was willing to consider it. "I would be concerned to think that we encourage door staff to confiscate drugs when we can't be sure where they would end up," he said. "I'm sure most members of the public would also be concerned about any idea of a drug tolerance zone in the city centre. But at the same time we do want to see more police out and about. I would hope the police will consult widely on this and I would like to hear from the Chief Constable about this at our next board meeting."

It remains to be seen if the Lothian and Borders Police will follow-up on the proposal, given the harsh reaction so far. By Tuesday, the department was already back-pedaling. "The idea was raised at an informal police briefing, where staff were encouraged to think about ways in which we could be more sophisticated in our approach to policing in the city center," a department spokesman said. "This was merely a discussion point, and we have no plans to take this suggestion further. Our focus mains on providing the highest levels of policing."

And if that requires refocusing police attention away from small-time drug offenders? Stay tuned to find out if the Scottish police have the courage of at least one of their chiefs' convictions.

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Southwest Asia: US Plan For Aerial Spraying of Afghan Poppies on Hold -- for Now

The US government has given up for now on efforts to persuade the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai to allow aerial spraying of the country's opium poppy crop, Reuters quoted a senior US government official as saying Wednesday. The US State Department and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had pushed hard for spraying, but ran into opposition not only from the Afghans, but also from the US's European allies and even other parts of the US government, including the Congress and the Pentagon, which fears such an effort could backfire and drive Afghans into the waiting arms of the Taliban.

incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
"We've talked to President Karzai about the program we want to work with him on this season," Thomas Schweich, the US coordinator on counternarcotics in Afghanistan, told the news agency. "He has said he doesn't want to do aerial eradication so we won't do aerial eradication. If he changes his mind, we will," Schweich said in Brussels.

Instead of aerial spraying of herbicides, Schweich said, the US will rely on ground eradication. A ground eradication program this year managed to eradicate only 9% of the crop, according to the United Nations.

"That program is going to continue," Schweich said. "It got about 15-16,000 hectares last year. We didn't think it was enough so we are going to monitor very closely whether it is down equitably," he said, adding that there are signs some powerful figures in Afghanistan are using their positions to ensure their fields are not targeted.

Afghanistan produced 93% of the world's opium supply this year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in a report released last month. In addition to finding their way into the pockets of corrupt government officials and poor Afghan farmers, profits from the opium trade have also fueled the Taliban insurgency, leaving Western policy-makers with a real dilemma: Do they crack down on opium and drive farmers into the hands of the Taliban or do they turn a blind eye and watch opium profits buy shiny new weapons for the Taliban? Prohibition appears to have created a lose-lose situation for the West.

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Southeast Asia: Most Killed in Thailand's 2003 Drug War Not Involved With Drugs, Panel Finds

An estimated 2,500 people were killed during a three-month crackdown on drugs by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2003. Now, one of a half-dozen panels belatedly investigating the killings has reported that as many as 1,400 of those victims were killed and labeled drug suspects despite having no link to drugs.

bloody Thaksin (courtesy Wikimedia)
"The government drug policy was unclear," said a representative of the Office of Narcotics Control Board during a meeting at the Chao Phya Park Hotel in Bangkok. "Operation staff thus did everything to achieve the goal of reducing the number of drug traffickers. The death toll was highest in February when the policy was first implemented. The number of deaths had lowered in the two following months," the representative said, according to an account in The Nation.

Since Thaksin was overthrown in a coup last year, the interim Thai government has moved forward with a review of his government's drug policy and how it was implemented. A complete assessment is expected by year's end.

During Thaksin's drug war, police attributed many of the killings to drug traffickers who were presumably killing their partners to silence them. But the families of many victims protested that their family members had nothing to do with drugs or the drug trade.

Even as the new government investigates Thaksin's drug war, at least one veteran Thai politician is calling for more of the same. Chalerm Yubamrung, viewed as the number two man in the People Power Party and an avowed aspirant to the interior ministry position, told the Bangkok Post Tuesday he was prepared to follow Thaksin's bloody path.

"Drug suppression needs to be handled seriously, the same way the Thaksin administration did," Chalerm said in a lengthy interview. "Regarding the extra-judicial killings, people misunderstood that authorities killed innocent people. Instead, it could be that people were killed by their peers to cut the leads for authorities to pursue," he argued, parroting the line of police at the time of the killings.

While Chalerm said small-time dealers and users should be treated as patients, there is an urgent need to suppress the drug trade. "Illicit drug suppression cannot be handled gradually," he said. "It needs timeframes and targets, as well as authorities staying alert. But when there are mistakes and doubts, we need to clear the air promptly. It needs to be strictly, urgently and hastily handled with the provision of special task forces."

When asked point-blank if he had any criticisms of Thaksin's drug war, Chalerm couldn't find any. "There were not any failures," he said. "Some people just accused the then government. There was a high number of killings, but no one knew who carried out the activities."

Chalerm would like to be Thailand's future. Let's hope his embrace of Thaksin's bloody drug war means he has a tin ear when it comes to current Thai attitudes toward that sort of drug policy.

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Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, More Death Sentences in Vietnam

The use of the death penalty against drug offenders continues at a brisk pace in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In the past week, Iran executed five more drug offenders, while in Vietnam, prosecutors demanded 11 death sentences for traffickers and the courts upheld one more.

According to the international anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, Iranian authorities executed five men November 20 in the eastern city of Birjand for distributing 146 kilos of narcotics. The men were not named. The following day, a man identified only by his first name, Gholam Reza, was hanged in Qom for trafficking in 90 kilos of narcotics.

The same day Iran executed the five men in Birjand, a United Nations General Assembly committee passed a non-binding resolution urging Iran to "abolish, in law and in practice, public executions and other executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized standards."

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese justice system has been busily calling for and upholding drug trafficking death sentences, too. On November 21, a court in Ho Chi Minh City threw out the appeal of Australian-born Tony Manh, 40, and upheld his death sentence for trafficking two pounds of heroin. He had been arrested at Tan Son Nhat airport after security officers found the heroin hidden on his body as he prepared to board a plane for Sydney.

And Wednesday, prosecutors in Hanoi called for the death penalty to be imposed on 11 people involved in an organization that smuggled 416 kilos of heroin. Death sentences were demanded for ringleader Luong Ngoc Lap and 10 of his lieutenants, while prosecutors demanded life sentences for seven others and 18-to-20 years in prison for three more. The call for the death penalty and other sentences came at the end of a four-day trial in what is northern Vietnam's largest drug case ever.

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Web Scan

Politics of Fear: Harper's "War on Drugs," Member of Canada Parliament Libby Davies on Rabble News

Pew Center study -- "When Offenders Break the Rules: Smart Responses to Parole and Probation Violations" -- briefing and key questions.

retired British Columbia Judge Jerry Paradis of LEAP on Calgary TV, here and here

Prohibition a Failure, Dean Becker video submitted to CNN/YouTube debate

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Weekly: This Week in History

December 2, 1993: Notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar is hunted down and killed by Colombian police making use of US technology. At his funeral days later, tens of thousands of Medellin residents come out to mourn him.

December 3, 1998: Colombian police seize about seven tons of cocaine in Cartagena, Colombia, destined for the US via Cuba.

November 30, 2000: The DEA announces that it intends to prohibit hemp products, including shampoo, soap, and food made from non-psychoactive hemp seeds. (DEA loses this one.)

December 1, 2000: President of Uruguay Jorge Batlle is quoted in El Observador suggesting legalization of drugs.

December 6, 2000: Belgium's parliament decriminalizes possession, consumption and trade in up to five grams of marijuana or hashish.

November 30, 2001: The Austin Chronicle calls John Walters, the new US drug czar, "the Dr. Strangelove of our country's absurd drug war -- he dismisses anyone who says our nation's prisons are too full, he favors longer jail sentences for marijuana users, he has declared that there's too much 'treatment capacity' in the US, he opposes efforts to address the racial discrepancies in drug enforcement, he wants more militarization of the drug war at home and abroad, he'd like to see an expansion of our government's war in Colombia, and he's been a noisy opponent of state initiatives to allow the medical use of marijuana."

December 4, 2001: Canada's Auditor General releases a report on the federal government's role in dealing with illicit drugs. Part of the report reads: "Eleven federal departments and agencies are involved in the effort to control illicit drugs at a cost of about $500 million a year... But they don't know the extent of the problem and whether or not they are succeeding in their efforts."

December 2, 2002: Reuters reports that an independent study concluded marijuana use does not lead teenagers to experiment with hard drugs like heroin or cocaine. The study by the private, nonprofit RAND Drug Policy Research Center countered the theory that marijuana acts as a so-called gateway drug to more harmful narcotics, a key argument prohibitionists use against legalizing marijuana in the United States.

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Job Opportunity: Field Director, SAFER, Denver

As one of just two staff members (along with the executive director), the Field Director will be responsible for filling a variety of organizational and campaign roles. He/she will serve as 1) a membership and outreach director, 2) a campaign and volunteer coordinator, and 3) a general assistant to the executive director.

Campaign coordination duties include performing various organizational and campaign tasks (e.g. collecting signatures, distributing literature, waving signs, attending events), and recruiting and organizing volunteers to complete or assist in completing such tasks; scheduling volunteers to be at various concerts, festivals, and other events; designing and/or producing (copying/cutting) campaign materials and distributing campaign materials to volunteers and supporters; and creating and maintaining separate databases of volunteers and supporters for specific campaigns.

Membership coordination duties include maintaining a detailed database of supporters and corresponding with new supporters to gauge their level of interest in working with and/or supporting SAFER; tracking donations to SAFER and the SVEF and providing thank-you notes and receipts for contributions as necessary; communicating with supporters who are engaged in volunteer activities in their area and ensuring they have the necessary; and maintaining and improving SAFER's presence on the Web, including SAFER's site(s) and blog, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites.

General assistant duties include acting as liaison between volunteers/supporters and the executive director; answering the office phone, sending faxes, checking the P.O. Box, and completing other office tasks as necessary; coordinating press events (eg. mobilizing supporters to attend, purchasing/locating props or signs, etc.); and data entry (eg. adding press contacts to media lists, adding professional contacts to a database, etc.).

A qualified applicant will be willing and able to follow instructions and adhere to SAFER's strategy and principles (generating earned media coverage of the message that marijuana is safer than alcohol); will have a college degree and some form of relevant campaign or non-profit experience (such experience is not entirely necessary, but helpful); will be a clear writer and speaker with well-developed communication skills, who is comfortable using e-mail and speaking on the telephone; will have a thorough knowledge of basic computer applications, such as Word and Excel, as well as basic knowledge of social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook (experience with Web design, video production, and/or other forms of new media is a HUGE plus); will be a self-starter who is able to work independently and under limited supervision; must understand that initiative campaigns entail a fast-paced environment and require a passionate and dedicated staff (this position will -- not always, but at some points -- require work during evenings and weekends); and will be creative and able to think both within and outside the box. Finally, a thorough or basic knowledge of drug policy issues and politics is preferred but not required.

The salary is from the mid-twenties to mid-thirties depending on experience and abilities. Benefits include a monthly reimbursement for health care.

There is no application deadline -- this position will be available beginning January 1, 2008, and it needs to be filled immediately. Applicants should apply AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to Executive Director Mason Tvert at [email protected]. In your cover letter, please indicate why you are interested in working with SAFER and discuss any relevant experience. Applicants will only be contacted if we require further materials or wish to set up an interview. Phone and in-person interviews will be scheduled as necessary.

Please visit (and the previous campaign sites, and for more information on SAFER, its mission, and its accomplishments.

SAFER is an equal opportunity employer. Women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of color are encouraged to apply.

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Internships: Two Openings at Americans for Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access is hiring interns for its Washington and Oakland offices:

Washington, DC:

As part of ASA's Graduate & Undergraduate Government Affairs Internship Program, interns will work closely with ASA's Director of Government Affairs to research policy issues, facilitate grassroots outreach and assist with administrative work. Internships are unpaid, but ASA staff will work to ensure academic credit is received, if applicable.

Responsibilities will vary but in general include administrative support to the Government Affairs staff; researching and reviewing medical cannabis policy topics; drafting of memos, advocacy materials and letters to federal policy makers; and, attending hearings, briefings and various meetings where appropriate.

Qualifications include a demonstrated willingness to undertake unfamiliar initiatives with enthusiasm and creativity; an informed knowledge about the issues facing medical cannabis patients and their providers; a sense of humor; excellent research, communication and organizational skills; the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously while working independently or as a team; and some basic understanding of the federal legislative process. Some prior campaign experience preferred but not necessary.

Interns are expected to work in between 15-30 hours per week. The minimum duration of an internship is 8 weeks. To apply, please fax or e-mail a cover letter, resume, and short writing sample (no more than 5 pages) to [email protected].

Oakland, CA:

Grassroots Intern for Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group

ASA is currently seeking an undergraduate intern to work closely with their Field Coordinator to research policy issues, facilitate grassroots outreach and assist with administrative work.

Responsibilities include researching city and county medical marijuana regulations as well as opportunities for local activists to question candidates about medical marijuana; compiling content for medical marijuana websites reaching out to condition-based communities (HIV/AIDS, cancer, seniors, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain); accompanying the Field Coordinator on trips to local chapter meetings; staffing ASA's outreach table at local conferences and events; and assisting the Field Coordinator with maintaining contact with ASA's grassroots leaders, assembling mailings and other administrative work

Qualifications include commitment to the mission and goals of Americans for Safe Access; computer literacy; being comfortable with acquiring new skills; strong written and oral communication skills; a sense of humor, high ethical professional standards, and a multi-cultural perspective; working well in a team environment; and dedication to working closely and cooperatively in a community-based organization with diverse staff, volunteers, and community members.

The internship is an unpaid experience, but ASA staff will work to ensure academic credit is received, if applicable. Interns are expected to work between 15-20 hours per week. To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected].

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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:

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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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Resource: Reformer's Calendar Accessible Through DRCNet Web Site

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.

  • Visit each day and you'll see a listing of upcoming events in the page's right-hand column with the number of days remaining until the next several events coming up and a link to more.

  • Check our new online calendar section at to view all of them by month, week or a range of different views.
  • We request and invite you to submit your event listings directly on our web site. Note that our new system allows you to post not only a short description as we currently do, but also the entire text of your announcement.

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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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 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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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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