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Drug War Chronicle #518 - January 11, 2008

1. Feature: International Campaign to Stop Drug Executions Gearing Up

Some 32 countries have laws on their books allowing for the death penalty for drug offenses. A new report details the situation and lays the groundwork for a campaign to stop it.

2. Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View," by Margaret Battin, et al. (2008, Oxford University Press, 279 pp., $21.95 PB)

We review "Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, and Comprehensive View" and find it a valuable, thoughtful, and more accessible than you might think contribution to the literature.

3. Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Team Kills Woman, Wounds Toddler in Drug Raid

An Ohio SWAT shot and killed a young black mother and wounded the toddler she was holding in her arms during a routine drug raid last Friday. An angry community wants some answers and some accountability.

4. Latin America: Drug Gang Battles Cops, Soldiers in Mexican Border Town

The new year has brought more drug war violence to the Mexican border, as drug gunmen battled cops and soldiers in a bloody confrontation in Rio Bravo, across the river from McAllen, Texas.

5. Pain Medicine: Advocacy Group to Challenge Controlled Substances Act In Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Physicians, Patients

The arrest and prosecution of a Kansas pain management physician and his nurse wife have prompted a leading pain advocacy group to file a lawsuit challenging the application of the Controlled Substance Act when it comes to doctors and patients.

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

There's some funny accounting in some Mississippi anti-drug task forces, there's a bunch of dope missing from the Boston police evidence room, and crooked cops are headed for prison in Chicago, Nashville, and New Haven.

7. Appeal: DRCNet Made Amazing Progress in 2007 and We Need Your Help for 2008

An outline of DRCNet's plans and recent accomplishments and an appeal for your support to make it all happen.

8. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"The Truth About Driving When You're High on Marijuana," "The Drug War is a Training Camp for Corrupt Cops," "Police Who Steal From Drug Suspects Are Charged With Theft of "Government" Property," "Ecstasy Laced With Meth is Bad, But it's Not My Fault," "SWAT Team Shoots Baby, Kills Mom in Drug Raid Gone Wrong," "Traffickers Are Hiring Flat-chested Women to Smuggle Drugs in Their Bras," "Alert: A SWAT Team Shot a Mother and Child Last Week -- Take Action Now to Stop the Madness!," "A Column That Deserves a Mention -- AJC's Cynthia Tucker Compares the Drug War with Prohibition," "Barack Obama's Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Record," "Good Guys, Bad Guys: Bills Filed to Improve or Worsen Crack Cocaine Sentencing."

9. 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!

10. Psychedelics: Nebraska Moves to Ban Salvia Divinorum

The Nebraska attorney general and at least one legislator want to protect Cornhusker youth from salvia divinorum by sending them to prison for five years if they get caught with it.

11. Marijuana: Vermont Governor Open to Discussing Decriminalization, He Says

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas says he is willing to discuss marijuana decriminalization. He is responding to a proposal from a key Democratic legislator, and he's taking a much softer stance than he did just a couple of months ago.

12. Law Enforcement: Dallas Police to Accept Recruits With Past Drug Use

The Dallas police department will now hire applicants who admit to past hard drug use -- but only if it was more than 10 years, the applicant was under 21, he didn't shoot up, and he only did it once.

13. Law Enforcement: DEA to Hire 200 New Agents

Thanks to the budget bill passed by Congress last month, DEA will be able to end a hiring freeze and sign up 200 more Special Agents.

14. Weekly: This Week in History

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

15. 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.

16. Job Opportunity: Graphic Designer, Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is seeking a Graphic Designer for its Washington, DC headquarters.

17. Webmasters: Help the Movement by Running DRCNet Syndication Feeds on Your Web Site!

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

18. 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.

19. 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.

Feature: International Campaign to Stop Drug Executions Gearing Up

The notices generally appear as brief blips on the news wires, or perhaps as one-paragraph summaries in the international sections of newspapers: "Iran Hangs Three for Heroin Smuggling," "Vietnam Sentences 12 to Death for Drugs," "Malaysia to Execute Man For Five Pounds of Cannabis." The notices may be brief, but there is a steady drumbeat of them. In just the past week came news that Iran had handed over the body of a Pakistani man executed for drug trafficking and that Malaysia had sentenced a bill collector to death for drug trafficking.

Death sentence is passed against a woman who was immediately executed with three other people on drugs charges. (UN International Anti-Drugs Day, 6/26/03) via Amnesty International web site)
Despite the steadily rising toll, the use of the death penalty as a tool in the war on drugs rarely receives much attention, let alone sustained analysis. But that could be beginning to change as harm reduction and human rights organizations gear up to put the state-sanctioned killing of drug offenders in the international spotlight. The opening volley in that effort took place last month, when the International Harm Reduction Association released a report on the use of the death penalty for drug offenses that both details the extent of the problem and qualifies it as a violation of international human rights law.

The report, The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: A Violation of International Human Rights Law, authored by IHRA analyst Rick Lines, finds that some 32 countries have drug offense death penalty provisions on their books, mostly in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. While the death penalty is typically reserved for drug sales, trafficking, or manufacture, that is not always the case, and in some countries, mere possession can warrant a death sentence.

The number of people executed for drug offenses easily runs into the hundreds, perhaps even more, each year. In the last month, Vietnam alone has sentenced more than 40 people to death for drug offenses, while from Iran comes a steady drumbeat of notices from the state news agency that another trafficker or two or three has been hanged. China has been known to hold mass public executions of drug offenders, while in Singapore, dozens of drug offenders face the executioner each year.

Still, the exact number of executions is unknowable. That's because countries either do not provide details on the number of executions or do not provide breakdowns of why people were executed.

"Because some countries -- China, for instance -- do not release details of the number of executions they carry out each year, it is impossible to arrive at an accurate yearly total of drug war executions," said Lines. "While we can't arrive at an accurate number, suffice it to say that in some countries, as detailed in the report, drug offenders constitute a significant percentage of all executions each year, so this is a major issue in some countries."

Those killings violate international human rights law, the report argues. While international law does not ban capital punishment, it does limit it in significant ways. The report notes that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says the death penalty may be applied only for the "most serious crimes." Both the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions have found that drug offenses do not constitute "most serious crimes," which makes executing drug offenders a violation of international law.

"Capital punishment for drug offences is but one illustration of how human rights have been sacrificed in the name of the 'war on drugs,'" said Professor Gerry Stimson, the IHRA's executive director. "Unfortunately, the death penalty is not the only example of such abuses worldwide. Repressive law enforcement practices, the denial of health services to drug users and the spread of HIV infection among people who inject drugs, due to lack of access to harm reduction programs, are far too common in many countries across the globe."

While the IHRA is working all these issues, it is now preparing to bring the death penalty issue to the forefront as part of a broader campaign to tie harm reduction and human rights together. "This report is the first research report from our new HR2 -- harm reduction and human rights -- program, and one of our main emphases in this new program is research and advocacy on human rights issues related to drug policy and human rights abuses against people who use drugs," said Lines. "The death penalty is an obvious issue in that regard, and an important one to highlight with our first publication. This is part of a broader campaign, and we will be using the research in various ways to highlight the issue at the international level in 2008."

The emerging campaign against the death penalty for drug offenders is part of a broader effort to bring more attention to human rights abuses against people involved with drugs, said Lines. "Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been very supportive of our work on this issue and have provided important advice and information along the way," he said. "This is an important link for us. We hope the issue of the death penalty for drugs is one that might be used to raise the issue of human rights abuses and drug policy more generally within the mainstream human rights movement."

IHRA will be working with human rights groups as well as its international network of regional harm reduction groups to put the issue in the spotlight this year. In the US, that means groups like the Harm Reduction Coalition will be joining the fight.

"Our general feeling is that the more repressive the legal environment, the less room for implementing harm reduction measures around HIV prevention, overdose prevention, and related issues," said Daniel Raymond, the coalition's policy director, "We see a direct correlation in places like Thailand," he said.

The Harm Reduction Coalition has already been working the issue to a limited degree and plans to do more, Raymond said. "We've done a little work around China and its tendency to celebrate the international day against drugs by executing people, and we've been involved in the discussions between the IHRA and the regional harm reduction networks on this," he said. "We will be involved again as this campaign begins to gear up. We're very interested in pressure to bear and in bringing the harm reduction community in the US into this issue."

Lines said it is time to act. "As I did the research for this report, I was surprised how little attention this issue has received, despite the fact that executions for drug offenses clearly violate international law. There was much less literature on the topic than I assumed there would be when I started," he noted. "I was also surprised to see that while the worldwide trend is clearly toward the abolition of the capital punishment -- the number of countries with the death penalty has steadily decreased over the past 20 years -- at the same time, the number of countries with laws allowing the death penalty for drugs has increased," Lines continued. "That's completely opposite to the general trend away from capital punishment. I think this is an issue where we can almost empirically measure the negative effects of the war on drugs on human rights."

The campaign against the death penalty for drug offenses got a boost last month when the UN General Assembly called for a moratorium on the death penalty for all offenses. Now, the IHRA, its regional network, and mainstream human rights organizations are ready to bring on the pressure.

"We will begin to initiate more direct lobbying and campaigning this year," Lines promised. "I can't go into any more detail at the moment, but you have not heard the last from us on this issue."

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Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View," by Margaret Battin, et al. (2008, Oxford University Press, 279 pp., $21.95 PB)

Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor

This chewy, provocative, interdisciplinary collaboration by a group of academic experts at the University of Utah appears formidable at first glance, but turns out to be remarkably rewarding. In what they bill as a search for justice when it comes to drugs, the authors delve deep into the fundamental theoretical questions at the center of the debates over drugs -- What is addiction? What is harm? -- as well as the history of how we got to where we are and how we can get to a better place. Their search for justice in drug policy takes them to some very interesting places and takes the reader on a fascinating ride.

Embracing as their starting point the Aristotelian principle that justice means "like cases are treated alike," the authors insist that if we are to develop a "consistent, coherent, and comprehensive" policy toward drugs we must begin by examining the totality of the drug universe -- pharmaceuticals, over the counter (OTC) drugs, illegal drugs, sports enhancement drugs, "common use" drugs (alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco), religious use drugs (peyote, iboga, ayahuasca), and alternative and herbal medications.

The fact that we treat cocaine one way, Ritalin another, and the herbal supplement ephedra yet another is, the authors argue, an historical artifact, the result of complex social and political processes that have little to do with a rational approach to the universe of substances that affect the mind and/or body. Part of our problem, the authors suggest, is that the very division of these substances into the various categories listed above creates enclaves, or "silos," of knowledge, one for prescription drugs, one for illegal drugs, one for OTC drugs. Regulated (to a greater or lesser degree) by different agencies and studied by differing, increasingly specialized, academic and professional disciplines, different categories of drugs become different, unknown universes for those outside the specialty.

Such effects can occur even with drug categories. Consider prescription opioid pain relievers and their users. While pain management specialists and addiction medicine specialists both study the opioids and their effects on their users, their very specializations impel one to see a patient seeking relief and the other to an addict seeking drugs.

And just what is addiction, anyway? The authors accept the consensus that addiction does indeed exist, even if it proves to be a remarkably slippery concept. The pain medicine/addiction medicine field has one definition (the AAPM/APS/ASAM Consensus Definition), the psychiatric profession has another (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [DSM] diagnosis) -- and they don't necessarily agree. In a fascinating intellectual exercise, the authors compare the cases of two men, both professional, both successful. One is a hard-core coffee drinker who thinks about coffee all the time, relies on it to get his work done, and suffers withdrawal headaches and grogginess if he doesn't get his fix. The other has been using cocaine every weekend for the past two years without any great ill effect. Neither has done any appreciable harm to others because of his drug use.

Under the definitions of the pain docs, our coffee drinking friend is an addict; under the definitions of the DSM, he isn't. In fact, he doesn't even qualify for the less serious diagnosis of "substance abuse." Our weekend warrior cocaine user, on the other hand, does not qualify as an addict under either the consensus definition or the DSM, although he could qualify as the less serious "substance abuser."

The most widely used professional definitions of addiction can't agree about our coffee drinking friend, while they do agree that the cocaine user is not an addict. Equally strangely (or perhaps not), both definitions of addiction define the coffee drinker as having the more serious problem than the cocaine user.

Yet the coffee drinker goes about his business unimpeded, while the cocaine user faces the prospect of arrest and imprisonment. In both cases, the drug users are not harming others and only arguably harming themselves. This suggest, the authors write, that we are not treating like cases alike.

Another core conceptual problem the authors grapple with is the notion of harm. It is, after all, the notion of preventing harm -- to drug users or others or both -- that drives much of drug policy. Justice requires the application of the Millsian Harm Principle, that we are free to do as we choose absent harm to others, but teasing out just what constitutes harm is not as clear-cut as it might seem. Again, our definitions of harm are often based on our "siloed" perspectives and by foregrounding or backgrounding. With illicit drugs, harms are foregrounded and any benefits are hidden in the shadows. (I'm reminded of the scary anti-drug propaganda efforts with their lists of the dire and hideous consequences of using the substances in question. If this stuff is so terrible, why on earth is anyone using it?) The same sort of differing perspective takes place between pain docs and addiction docs; one sees an Oxycontin tablet and thinks of its value as a pain reliever; the other look at it and sees its addictive potential.

Recognizing the problems that still adhere to such key notions in drug policy as addiction and harm, as well as many other complications, the authors nonetheless attempt to posit other, more just, models of drug policy. They construct a policy continuum, with "Drug Anarchism" on one end and "Total Drug Prohibition" on the other, but those are merely ideal types, extremes, unlikely to ever be implemented. More plausible, they suggest, are three alternatives to out present shambolic (inconsistent, incoherent, non-comprehensive) set of drug policies: The Autonomist approach, the Medical Model approach, and the Centralized Superregulatory Approach. One would, absent harm to others, leave drug-taking decisions in the hands of competent adults, one would defer them to pharmacists and "drug trainers," and one would reconstitute our current differing systems of drug regulation into a single system regulated by a single bureaucratic entity, much like the Department of Homeland Security for drugs.

"Drugs and Justice" might appear a daunting jaunt through theory and philosophy, but the authors are very good at bringing things back down to earth. They present numerous case studies to illustrate the various quandaries and dilemmas facing those seeking a just drug policy. It's one thing to pontificate on the philosophy of harm; it's quite another to explore the issues around whether it is just or proper to subject a productive heroin user to a drug court where he must choose between his freedom and his drug of choice.

Throughout this work, the authors are careful to not take sides. But on the last page of the text, they make some recommendations. The most significant is this: "We must make significant changes, not just cosmetic prunings, in the way we treat drugs -- all drugs. This means scrapping many of the laws on the books and starting over."

There is a lot of meat in these pages. And for those with a serious interest in drug policy, broadly defined, it's a pretty tasty treat. This book should be read not only by all those specialists in their silos, but by policymakers seeking a better way forward. Sadly, it's more likely to be read mainly by grad students.

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Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Team Kills Woman, Wounds Toddler in Drug Raid

Stop the Deadly SWAT Raids! Click Here to Sign the Petition

In the latest example of overzealous policing gone fatally awry, a member of a Lima, Ohio, police SWAT team shot and killed a young mother and wounded the child she was holding in her arms during a raid aimed at the woman's boyfriend, who was alleged to be selling drugs from the residence. Tarika Wilson, 26, was killed last Friday in an upstairs bedroom, shot twice by Lima police Sgt. Joseph Chevalia. Her one-year-old son, Sincere, was also shot, as were two pit bulls at the house. The child lost his left index finger, but his injuries are not life-threatening. One of the pit bulls was killed.

In the week since the incident, Lima police have failed to provide any details on what led up to the shooting, except to say they were executing a drug search warrant for Wilson's boyfriend, Anthony Terry. Terry was arrested at the scene and charged with possession of crack cocaine, which, along with marijuana, was found at the house.

Lima police did, however, engage in some preemptive apologetics. "This is a terrible situation that resulted from a very dangerous situation that occurs when a high-risk search warrant is executed," Lima Police Chief George Garlock said.

Garlock did not explain what made the search warrant "high-risk," nor did he explain why he sent a SWAT team to raid a home where officers knew children were present. In addition to her one-year-old, Wilson was the mother of five other children between 3 and 8 who lived at the house.

Officers tossed at least one stun grenade before charging the residence, but that explosion took place outside because officers knew children were present. "Because of the possibility that we had children in there, they were not lobbed inside," Garlock said.

Lima police have turned the investigation of the incident over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation because the shooting involved a Lima police officer. That investigation is expected to take several weeks.

By mid-week, the FBI announced that it was joining the investigation. But angry family and community members are not waiting for answers. A crowd of more than 300 people marched with family members from a community center to the home where the killing took place to express their outrage and from there to the police station.

"Remember that baby who is in a hospital and that woman laying on a slab being dissected because the Lima police overstepped their bounds," Brenda Johnson, executive director of the community center, told the crowd before the march began. Ms. Johnson said it was reckless for police to raid a home with so many children inside. "This time it was someone else's child," she said. "Next time it could be your child, your grandchild."

According to next door neighbor and Wilson cousin Junior Cook, police "broke down the door and started shooting." He also denied that Terry sold drugs from the house. "No one ever came and knocked on that door or bought drugs there," Cook said.

"Not all the police are bad. Some of them have children," Pastor Arnold Manley of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church told the crowd. "But the majority of the ones in Lima are."

Residents and community activists have vowed to march every Saturday until justice is done. On Monday, more than 200 of them showed up at a heated meeting with police officials and the city council to demand action.

"The man who shot her, he's not a suspect? What if that was me?" shouted Quintel Wilson, the victim's brother. "Where would I be? Locked up. No bond! Victim is the word here."

"We're going to see that justice is done," said Bishop Richard Cox, an official with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Councilman Tommy Pitts, chair of the council's safety services committee, said Lima police have long targeted blacks. "This comes as no surprise to me," he said about the shooting.

That the resort to heavily-armed, paramilitarized SWAT teams to do routine drug search warrants can result in civilian fatalities should come as no surprise to anyone who follows their use. In 2006, Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko produced an authoritative report on the topic, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, that showed dozens of cases of people killed or brutalized during such raids.

The raids continue despite little sign of public support for them. (publisher of this newsletter) last October commissioned a Zogby poll that found that two-thirds oppose the use of SWAT-style teams in routine drug raids. Now, from Ohio, comes one more reason to oppose them.

Stop the Deadly SWAT Raids! Click Here to Sign the Petition

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Latin America: Drug Gang Battles Cops, Soldiers in Mexican Border Town

Suspected drug gang gunmen shot it out with Mexican soldiers and policemen in a Monday clash that left three gunmen dead in what was once a quiet border town, according to press service accounts. The attack came in Rio Bravo, across the border from McAllen, Texas, where the November killing of a local politician by suspected drug cartel hit men led President Felipe Calderón to call in the army, sending in 3,000 troops to occupy the town last month.

Mexican anti-drug patrol
According to witness and official accounts, a group of about 20 armed men confronted a unit of soldiers after they had searched a suspected safe house. The gunmen attacked with grenades, sparking a fierce gun battle that also left 10 police and soldiers wounded and 10 people under arrest.

The New York Times had a slightly different account. According to the Times, the fighting broke out when federal agents tried to stop a van with three men visibly carrying arms. The men then retreated to a nearby house to joint their comrades, and engaged soldiers and police with rocket propelled grenade launchers.

Also according to the Times, citing Mexican officials, three of the 10 people arrested were US citizens, one from Texas and two from Detroit.

"The aggressors threw dozens of grenades and there was a lot of blood on the street. Some civilians were badly hurt and taken to hospital," local journalist Ely Enríquez told Reuters.

In Mexico's drug war, northeast Mexico is the home turf of the Gulf Cartel, one of the violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations getting rich off prohibition and killing competitors, cops, and soldiers if they get in their way. The Gulf Cartel is especially notorious for its armed enforcers, the Zetas, composed of former elite Mexican anti-drug soldiers.

On Tuesday, the Zetas struck back, a few dozen miles up the Rio Grande River at Reynosa. That evening, gun men attacked military and police patrols in the city center, killing three agents in a hail of gunfire and RPGs. As a local press account noted, "Witnesses reported seeing several explosions near the scene Tuesday night, including one grenade that detonated next to a truck in a church parking lot. Blood stains, charred body armor and helmets littered the streets surrounding the crime scene.

Last year, a record 2,500 or so people died in Mexico's drug wars. This year, it looks like we're in for more of the same, even though Mexico City and Washington are busy hatching a billion dollar-plus anti-drug assistance package.

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Pain Medicine: Advocacy Group to Challenge Controlled Substances Act In Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Physicians, Patients

Haysville, Kansas, physician Dr. Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife, Linda Schneider, were arrested on a 34-count federal indictment last month for allegedly improperly prescribing opioid pain medications and causing the deaths of at least four patients. The Schneiders are only the latest pain management health care providers to fall victim to the federal government's war against prescription drug abuse and diversion, and now a leading pain relief advocacy group is vowing to take the government to court to block further harassment of physicians and the pain-ridden patients who rely on them.

Last Friday, the Pain Relief Network announced it will seek a civil injunction barring the Justice Department from prosecuting the Schneiders. But the lawsuit could have much broader implications than the couple's freedom. It will argue that the way the federal Controlled Substances Act is applied to doctors and patients is unconstitutional.

"I want a judge to take a look at this and see if the United States has authority to prosecute," Pain Relief Network head Siobhan Reynolds said during a press briefing last Friday. Reynolds cited a ruling in a similar case that such prosecutions give the government unrestrained power to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.

The real victims of the government's crackdown on the Schneiders and other health care professionals prescribing opioid pain medications are patients, said Reynolds. "These patients are in real harm's way," Reynolds said. "They are being attacked by the Department of Justice."

While some of Dr. Schneider's former patients have filed malpractice lawsuits claiming they became addicted because of his prescribing, other patients said he had been a godsend and that they are suffering now without him.

One was Jamie McGuire, 49, who had been receiving pain meds for severe arthritis in his spine, hips, and shoulders resulting from an auto accident. Since Schneider was jailed, he has been unable to even get a referral to another doctor. "I think they railroaded him," he said of the prosecution. McGuire told reporters he is almost out of pain medication and his situation is dire. "If they don't do something, I will take myself out," McGuire said.

Another patient, Martin Beatty, 46, also showed up to support his doctor. He said he opted for a regime of pain meds rather than surgery or steroids after falling from a roof 12 years ago and had been a patient of Schneider's for three years. He admitted being dependent on his pain meds, but said that shouldn't matter. "Addiction doesn't mean I am going to be a bad person," Beatty said. Now he worries about going through withdrawal without being under a physician's care.

This week, patients and advocates continued to fight for Dr. Schneider, who, along with his wife, remains jailed. They gathered at his offices to show support and sign petitions, one to join the federal lawsuit, the other to keep the Kansas Board of Healing Arts from moving to suspend his license. According to Reynolds, the clinic will be forced to close because the physician assistants now writing prescriptions are doing so under the auspices of working for a clinic owned by a licensed physician. Other doctors who once practiced at the clinic have been run off by fears of federal prosecution, she said.

"Right now we are calling on the medical board to refrain from joining in this attack on this clinic. This clinic has been hobbled by the Justice Department. These patients are living in mortal fear," Reynolds said.

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There's some funny accounting in some Mississippi anti-drug task forces, a pot-peddling Houston cop is in hot water, there's a bunch of dope missing from the Boston police evidence room, and crooked cops are headed for prison in Chicago, Nashville, and New Haven. Let's get to it:

In Chicago, three former Chicago police officers were sentenced to prison last week for stealing drugs from dealers and then reselling them. Former officer Eural Black got 40 years, Broderick Jones got 25 years, and Darek Haynes got 19 years. The three went down in a joint 2005 investigation by the FBI and Chicago police into cops working with drug dealers. Five dealers were also arrested. The dealers would tip off Jones to where he and his comrades could steal drugs, mainly cocaine and marijuana, and the cops would then raid the place, but instead of arresting the dealers, they resold their wares.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a former New Haven police detective was sentenced to prison Monday for falsifying evidence and stealing money during drug investigations. Former detective Jose Silva had pleaded guilty three months ago to one count of deprivation of individual rights for what prosecutors called his minor role in wrongdoing uncovered during a joint state-federal probe of the department. That probe resulted in the arrest of the department's head narcotics officer and the months-long disbanding of the drug squad. Silva confessed to standing by while another detective moved seized drugs during a raid to bolster the case against a suspect and to splitting with his partner $1,000 confiscated during a drug raid. He got 90 days.

In Nashville, a former Nashville police officer was sentenced to 12 years in prison last Friday for his role in a plot to rip off drug dealers. Former officer Ernest Cecil got 12 years in federal prison for his role in the scheme where the nephew of one of the cops helped them pinpoint and rob a cocaine dealer, but disguised it as a legitimate law enforcement operation. The nephew then peddled the cocaine, and the crooked cops pocketed $70,000.

In Houston, a a Houston police officer was arrested Wednesday for delivery of between 5 and 50 pounds of marijuana, a second degree felony. Officer Traci Tennarse, 29, is a Class B officer who works in an administrative capacity in the department Identification Division where she checks fingerprints of all suspects brought to the county jail. She has been relieved of duty with pay, but at last report was being held in the very jail where she checked prints.

In Boston, some 700 bags of drug evidence have gone missing at the Boston Police Department central drug depository, a 14-month investigation into missing evidence has found. Another 265 evidence bags had been tampered with, in some cases with drug evidence replaced by aspirin tablets. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced last Friday that the most likely culprit is a police officer because only police are allowed into the depository. Boston police, Suffolk County prosecutors, and the FBI have launched a joint investigation. The 12 officers who worked at the depository were removed last October. Among the missing drugs are cocaine, heroin, Oxycontin, and marijuana.

In Jackson, Mississippi, at least three of the state's multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces are being investigated over suspicious payment vouchers for drug buys and time sheets that appeared to show officers in two places at the same time. The irregularities appeared during routine audits in 2006 and have resulted in at least one task force, North Central, losing its state-disbursed federal funding for the last two years. Officials from the South Central Narcotics Task Force and the Tri-County Narcotics Task force are appealing decisions to deny them funding as well. The state Department of Public Safety has requested that the US Justice Department investigate.

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Appeal: DRCNet Made Amazing Progress in 2007 and We Need Your Help for 2008

Dear DRCNet reader: (DRCNet) is at a very interesting and promising point, and I am writing to seek your support for our organization at this time. In brief, first, and then in more depth:

  1. We have enormously increased our web site visitation, with most of the increase being new people who don't read about drug policy or legalization on a regular basis. We have achieved this by capturing an audience share on the popular "Web 2.0" sites like where readers nominate and vote on which articles should go to "the top," the only drug reform group to achieve this success on an ongoing basis.
  2. We have taken concrete steps to expand the range of issues in which we actively do advocacy including: the explosive issue of the overuse of SWAT raids in drug cases with the sometimes deadly consequences (visit for further information); the penalties for drug offenders and their families in welfare and public housing law, expanding the major coalition we've already built on the similar college aid law; and continued work on the college aid law. Initial steps have been taken to engage the Afghanistan opium issue as well.
  3. We have expanded our public education efforts on the drug prohibition/legalization question itself, with more on the way (
  4. We have continued the most important aspects of our program from before, including the Drug War Chronicle newsletter, and our leveraging of our programs to benefit the work of other groups.
  5. Further site work in the short- and medium- term pipeline should have additional major effects.


As you may know from emails I've sent to the list, our web site underwent a major redesign during the summer of 2006, plus an expansion of our publishing (adding the daily content model – blogging, latest news links, daily posting of announcements and releases and so forth from other organizations) commenced in Sept. '06. The immediate result was a substantial increase in our site traffic, with a gradual increase in traffic continuing most of the time for the next several months.

Around August last year, things started "going wild," with high profile links to DRCNet beginning to appear on major web sites, and more and more often ever since. We literally have had to have our server upgraded twice in order to handle the traffic, and are now negotiating a third upgrade. The chart appearing to the right, unique hosts by month on (an estimate for the number of people), illustrates the trend.

I hope you'll agree that we are in a seriously different place now than before. To provide a flavor for how (in part) this has been accomplished, we here list "big hits" that has had since fall 2006 – "big hits" defined as articles getting 4,000 "reads" or more. (These numbers were last updated on Nov. 26, so there have been new "big hits," as well as increases in the totals for the articles listed, especially the most recent.) The key point is not just how many times our stories have gone "big," but how much more often it is happening now compared with a year or more ago. Here they are:

9/29/2006 Feature: Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative Trails, But the Fight Is On (7,013 reads)
9/29/2006 Feature: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Organizers See Tight But Winnable Race Going Into Final Stretch (5,155 reads)
12/15/2006 Feature: Clamor Grows for Freedom for Texas Marijuana Prisoner Tyrone Brown (20,190 reads)
2/5/2007 Feature: The Conviction That Keeps On Hurting -- Drug Offenders and Federal Benefits (4,570 reads)
2/16/2007 The Anti-Dobbs: Winning the War Within Through Drug Legalization (5,781 reads)
2/23/2007 Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy," by Matthew Robinson and Renee Scherlen (13,143 reads between two copies)
3/23/2007 Feature: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Free Speech Case Goes to the Supreme Court (4,354 reads)
4/13/2007 Feature: The War on Salvia Divinorum Heats Up (15,180 reads)
4/25/2007 ONDCP Admits Exaggerating Marijuana Potency (10,589 reads)
5/25/2007 Middle East: Opium Poppies Flower Again in Iraq (5,356 reads)
5/25/2007 Feature: Border Blues -- Canada, US Both Bar People Who Used Drugs -- Ever (4,046 reads)
6/1/2007 Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island Bill Passes With Veto-Proof Majorities (11,959 reads)
6/8/2007 Feature: Canadian Mom Searching for Missing Daughter Denied Entry to US Over 21-Year-Old Drug Conviction (8,754 reads)
6/25/2007 Justices Stevens, Souter, & Ginsburg: Drug Policy Reform Sympathizers? (8,050 reads)
6/28/2007 Editorial: Two Good Reasons to Want to Legalize Drugs (6,185 reads)
7/10/2007 Rudy Giuliani Hates Medical Marijuana, But He Loves OxyContin (15,090 reads)
7/26/2007 Analysis: Who Voted for Medical Marijuana This Time? Breakdown by Vote, Party, and Changes from '06 (7,227 reads between two copies)
7/30/2007 San Francisco Orders Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Sell Fatter Bags (7,438 reads)
8/2/2007 New Study: Marijuana Does Not Cause Psychosis, Lung Damage, or Skin Cancer (49,721 reads)
8/6/2007 Press Release: Marijuana Dealers Offer Schwarzenegger One Billion Dollars (72,302 reads)
8/6/2007 Marijuana Dealers Offer Schwarzenegger One Billion Dollars (48,654 reads)
8/14/2007 Police Often Lack Basic Knowledge About Marijuana (21,612 reads)
8/15/2007 Who's Planting All That Pot in the Woods? (6,694 reads)
8/23/2007 Drug War Prisoners: 86-Year-Old Alva Mae Groves Dies Behind Bars (6,821 reads)
8/30/2007 Drug Testing Encourages Cocaine, Heroin, and Meth Use (20,291 reads)
9/26/2007 Why Do Police Really Oppose Marijuana Legalization? (20,994 reads)
10/5/2007 McCain and Giuliani Say Terrible Things to a Medical Marijuana Patient (39,636 reads)
10/10/2007 The Truth About Why Republican Candidates Oppose Medical Marijuana (4,801 reads)
10/16/2007 Digg & Reddit Users Want to Legalize Marijuana (16,576 reads)
10/22/2007 DEA Director Resigns, Says She Had an Awesome Time (11,182 reads)
10/24/2007 This Man Receives 300 Marijuana Joints a Month From the Federal Government (40,075 reads)
10/31/2007 Cowards: Democratic Front-Runners Reject Marijuana Law Reform (6,608 reads)
11/2/2007 Feature: Can Medical Marijuana Cost You Your Kid? In California, It Can (15,105 reads)
11/5/2007 Drug Scare: Kids in Florida are Getting High by Sniffing Feces (7,797 reads)
11/13/2007 Marijuana Evolves Faster Than Human Beings (27,144 reads)
11/23/2007 John McCain's Awful Response to a Cop Who Wants to End the Drug War (34,950 reads)
11/23/2007 Feature: On the Anniversary of Kathryn Johnston's Death, Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Use of SWAT-Style Tactics in Routine Drug Raids (7,183 reads)


As mentioned briefly above, we have begun our first foray into the explosive issue of the overuse of SWAT teams in low-level drug enforcement, the kind of practice that led to the killing of 93-year-old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta last year. In October we commissioned a set of polling questions (our first) in a likely voter poll conducted by the Zogby firm. One of them asked if police should use aggressive entry tactics in non-emergency situations. (The text of the question, which recounted the Johnston tragedy and listed a few specific tactics, along with other info about the issue including extensive recommendations of how policy should change appears on our web site at, and our Chronicle article about it appears at – it has continued to get traffic since the data compilation listed above, and now has almost 10,000 reads.) We got 66% of respondents on our side, including a majority of conservative and very conservative voters, politically a strong result.

There's a lot more to say about our issue expansion and our activist plans in the raids issue -- please email David Borden at [email protected] for further info.


Another question included in the aforementioned Zogby poll asked, "If hard drugs like heroin or cocaine were legalized, would you be likely to use them?" A mere 0.6% of respondents answered yes. While the poll should be thought of as more qualitative as quantitative -- people don't always predict their future behavior accurately -- the results clearly show that almost all Americans have strong reasons for not wanting to use these drugs that are not limited to the laws against them. Therefore the prohibitionists' specter of massive increases in addiction and social implosion following legalization isn't a sound assumption to make.

The web page presents this result, as well as links to our many "consequences of prohibition" news category feeds. We have also had video footage from our 2003 Latin American legalization conference formatted for the popular YouTube web site, so that people can run the videos from their own web sites. Videos available so far are linked from the same legalization main page. A major component of our strategy is the idea of promoting the voices of respected leaders who are pro-legalization, in order to use the persuasiveness of their reputations to shift public opinion. With the web site successes of the past several months, and certain technical issues being addressed by a web site designer over the next couple of months, we will also soon be launching our VIP blogger series, also fitting into this strategy. Other publishing is on the way too.


One of the particularly gratifying aspects of our web site success is that at times we have been able to bring other groups along with us. By this I refer primarily to the use of YouTube video – as mentioned above, a way that different web sites can easily present the same video clips without having to host copies of the footage on their own servers. Among our "big hits" articles are blog posts running video footage from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (one of their speakers posing a tough question to John McCain that he answers in an unbelievable way), the DrugTruth Network (an interview conducted during the NORML conference with federally legal medical marijuana patient Irv Rosenfeld), and MPP's "Granite Staters" New Hampshire presidential candidates and medical marijuana campaign. YouTube's stats indicate that roughly a third of the people visiting our web pages running these videos actually click to watch the videos (though after a certain amount of time the YouTube stats start omitting older data).

The stats also indicate that our relative effectiveness for getting out the drug reform message in terms of number of people can actually be greater than the most widely visited web sites that cover lots of different issues. For example, of the 36,000+ readers we had on the aforementioned John McCain story, nearly 13,000 clicked to watch the video itself, accounting for more than half of the total views the video has gotten. An article about the encounter on the widely-read Huffington Post blog, by contrast, garnered not quite 1,400 views for the video. Our post with the Irv Rosenfeld video on DrugTruth, and our post featuring outrageous McCain and Giuliani footage responding to a medical marijuana patient with Granite Staters, both have garnered over 40,000 reads. Hence, our cooperative approach of promoting the work of other organizations has extended to the new web site format, and we are thereby in some cases getting them a lot of exposure.

Here are a few of the testimonials we've received recently for how readers put the Chronicle to use:

I read Drug War Chronicle assiduously to be up to date on the failing drug war.
- Gustavo de Greiff, former attorney general of Colombia, chair of Latin American drug reform network REFORMA

As LEAP [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition]'s representative in Washington, DC I read without fail the weekly Drug War Chronicle and have for years. This allows me to quickly and without wasted time know what events and people are shaping policy. To date I have met with staffers from half of the 535 offices on Capitol Hill. Years of reading the Chronicle have made me informed and able to speak knowledgeably on all facets of the New Prohibition. It is an invaluable tool I use constantly.
- Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (Retired)

The Drug War Chronicle is the first place I send people who want to know more about what is going on in drug policy today.
- Tyler Smith, Associate Director, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative

I'm an award-winning investigative journalist. I've heard about things on DRCNet that I then turned into articles for the likes of Rolling Stone and Wired magazines.
- Vince Beiser

Drug War Chronicle is useful for me and my staff to keep us up to date on issues around drug policy and practice. We hear from hundreds of DC prisoners caught up in this nightmare and have little time to keep current on the issues you report on.
- Philip Fornaci, Director, D.C. Prisoners' Project, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

I find Drug War Chronicle very helpful in doing grassroots activism. I serve on my county's Substance Abuse Advisory Board and Substance Abuse Prevention Association and as the community co-chair for the Washington State HIV Prevention Planning Group. I have used information from Drug War Chronicle to bring others in my community to recognize the need for drug policy reform. As a member of the Substance Abuse Advisory Board I have been able to circulate materials to all members of county government.
- Monte Levine

I host a weekly radio program where we discuss issues related to the failed war on drugs and the prison industrial complex. We use the DRCNet as a resource every week. DRCNet makes this activism work so much easier, by providing a resource that is accessible, not only as a tool for research, but as an interpreter in this political world. Occasionally, a guest will need to cancel at the last minute. This hazard is part of live radio, and our way of being prepared is to have the DRCNet information in hand, ready to share with listeners.
- Sharon North, Shattered Lives Radio, KZFR, 90.1 FM, Chico, CA.

Here in the Netherlands we use a lot of your paper to write our own monthly "war in drugs journal" made by the Legalize! Foundation.
- Has Cornelissen, Stichting Legalize!

I use stories from Drug War Chronicle to lead high school juniors and seniors in an on-going inquiry into the Drug War as a model of failed public policy. DWC enables me to track current issues, update my materials, and stay connected to the drug policy reform community so I can continue my work of developing in young people a deep and critical understanding of the world in which they are coming of age.
- Jeanne Polk Barr, Chair, History Dept., Francis W. Parker School, Chicago

I am editor of The Liberator Online, a libertarian email newsletter. With almost 70,000 readers, it is as far as we know the largest-circulation libertarian publication of any kind. It is published by the Advocates for Self-Government, a non-profit non-partisan libertarian educational organization. I use Drug War Chronicle and DRCNet as a source for information on Drug War-related issues of interest to our readers. In fact, we have a story based on a DWC item (Sen. Mike Gravel's support for drug law reform) in our current issue.

I used information in an article to help form a scholarship for those convicted of a drug crime who have lost federal funding for school. Now, we are aiming to expand the scholarship to other universities and community colleges. Thanks for your help!


Plans in the works for have the potential to achieve as much for the site's reach and impact as the work already done has achieved. Along with some needed improvements and fixes to our logon, commenting, and list subscription frameworks, we will be executing major improvements to how we promote our material to the aforementioned "Web 2.0" sites that have driven so much traffic to our site already. Right now, we are only doing a good job of promoting our material to the site Digg, and only for our blog posts. Our minor redesign will make the Digg links on our pages more prominent, will add them to our Drug War Chronicle pages and elsewhere, and will add links to promote articles to other important sites where we've had some success already, like Stumbleupon, Reddit and Netscape. This is a logical extension of a strategy that has already been very successful.

Plans are also underway to dramatically expand the background information we have available on all the different drug policy issues, using the technology available through our web site system to present it in some pretty powerful ways. (Here again, more later.)

I hope you can tell from the foregoing how excited we are about the state of DRCNet's work at this juncture, and how important we feel it is to continue to push forward at full strength. With your continued support, we will build on our successes reaching wider online audiences. We will take on the explosive issue of reckless police raids. We will expand the coalition opposing the college aid drug conviction penalty to include the similar laws in welfare and public housing. We will get the message out about the urgent need for legalization and the impressive people who support that viewpoint. We will continue to publish Drug War Chronicle to empower activists throughout the drug policy reform movement, and to educate the media, policymakers and the general public. And we will put in place new, important sections of our web site to increase the reach and impact of our educational work even further. Thank you for your support and for being part of the cause.


David Borden, Executive Director

P.S. Contributions of $50 or more can be credited toward our first (not-yet-selected) book premiums of 2008. (You'll need to remind us after we send out the upcoming premium announcements.) Remember that tax-deductible donations should be made payable to DRCNet Foundation. (The amount that is deductible will be reduced by the retail price of any gift(s) you select.) Non-deductible donations for our lobbying work should be made payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network.

P.P.S. In case you would like to donate at this time, I am providing the information here for your convenience: DRCNet Foundation (for tax-deductible donations supporting our educational work) or Drug Reform Coordination Network (for non-deductible donations supporting our lobbying work), P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, or online. (Contact us if you'd like information on donating stock.)

P.P.P.S. Please feel free to call us at (202) 293-8340 if you'd like to discuss any of our programs or have other questions or concerns.

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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 brings us: "The Truth About Driving When You're High on Marijuana," "The Drug War is a Training Camp for Corrupt Cops," "Police Who Steal From Drug Suspects Are Charged With Theft of "Government" Property," "Ecstasy Laced With Meth is Bad, But it's Not My Fault," "SWAT Team Shoots Baby, Kills Mom in Drug Raid Gone Wrong," "Traffickers Are Hiring Flat-chested Women to Smuggle Drugs in Their Bras."

David Borden writes: "Alert: A SWAT Team Shot a Mother and Child Last Week -- Take Action Now to Stop the Madness!," "A Column That Deserves a Mention -- AJC's Cynthia Tucker Compares the Drug War with Prohibition," "Barack Obama's Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Record," "Good Guys, Bad Guys: Bills Filed to Improve or Worsen Crack Cocaine Sentencing."

David Guard 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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Psychedelics: Nebraska Moves to Ban Salvia Divinorum

If state Attorney General Jon Bruning has his way, Nebraska will soon join the short list of states that have criminalized the sale and possession of salvia divinorum. In a Monday press release setting his key legislative priorities, Bruning announced that banning salvia was one of his top three. (The other two were eliminating intoxication as a defense in considering the mental state of a defendant and moving against certain types of scam artists.)

salvia leaves (photo courtesy
The obscure plant, a member of the mint family native to southern Mexico, is a potent, fast-acting hallucinogen and has achieved a certain measure of popularity among recreational drug users in recent years. But because of its powerful disorienting effects, it is not one most people use repeatedly.

The DEA has had the drug under consideration for several years, but has yet to announce any plans to move it under the rubric of the Controlled Substances Act. Several states, most recently Illinois, and a handful of local municipalities, have banned it.

It is time that Nebraska joined that group, Bruning said. "Salvia is a powerful hallucinogen that can be purchased legally. This legislation will make it illegal and put it on par with other powerful drugs like peyote, psychedelic mushrooms and LSD," said Attorney General Bruning. "Several other states have already made salvia illegal. It's time to add Nebraska to the list."

In the measure he describes as "protecting Nebraska kids," Bruning would submit them -- and Nebraska adults -- to up to five years in prison for possessing the plant, and to 20 years for selling it.

"Videos of teens using this common plant to get high have become an internet sensation," said Sen. Vickie McDonald of St. Paul, who will sponsor the legislation. "Nebraska needs to classify salvia divinorum and its active ingredient, salvinorin A, as a controlled substance in order to protect our children from a drug being portrayed as harmless when it's not."

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Marijuana: Vermont Governor Open to Discussing Decriminalization, He Says

In an apparent change of attitude, Vermont Republican Gov. Jim Douglas said last week that he was open to discussing marijuana decriminalization. That stance is a shift from positions he took just a couple of months ago, when he had the state take temporary control of marijuana cases from Windsor County after the local prosecutor, Bobby Sands, was accused of having a policy of diverting marijuana cases because he thought it should be legalized.

But Sands, who claimed he had no blanket policy of diversion, is not alone in supporting decrim. Democratic Senate President Peter Shumlin has now floated a proposal to consider decriminalization. The cut-off level for diversion instead of court proceedings should be a half-ounce of weed, Shumlin suggested.

Responding to Shumlin's proposal at a January 3 press conference in Montpelier, Gov. Douglas said he was open to discussing the matter, but that he wasn't sure about a specific amount. He added that the state needs to maintain enforcement efforts against harder drugs and the misuse of prescription drugs.

Vermont arrested some 1,800 people for small-time marijuana possession last year, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

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Law Enforcement: Dallas Police to Accept Recruits With Past Drug Use

Past drug use is no longer a bar to employment with the Dallas Police Department -- as long as the applicant was under 21 at the time, it was more than 10 years ago, it was one time only and it didn't include shooting up. That was the policy approved by the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee Monday in a last-minute compromise after council members balked at the department's slightly more liberal original proposal.

Jack Evans Police Headquarters, Dallas
Under current Dallas police hiring policy, any drug use except for limited instances of marijuana smoking barred applicants from the force. The only exception was if the hard drug use took place before the age of 15. Last fall, the department quietly proposed allowing past hard drug use if it was fewer than four times, at least 10 years ago, and the applicant was under 21, but when the city council found out, it threatened to kill the proposal.

That's what it looked like was going to happen Monday. Although police officials including Deputy Chief Floyd Simpson and Chief David Kunkle told committee members they supported relaxing the hiring ban, council members were inclined to kill it.

"I'm dead set against any change in our policy on drugs, and I think that would not exactly be a morale boost to our present police officers," said council member Mitchell Rasansky during the debate.

Other council members wondered about sending mixed messages to children. "We can't say that on one hand, but on the other side allow some type of relaxed policy," Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said.

But council member Ron Natinsky, who opposed the initial proposal, suggested the compromise of allowing only one instance of past drug use instead of four. That motion picked up a second from council member David Neumann.

"We have to be reasonable role models to our families, to our friends and to our citizens," Neumann said. "And part of that is being benevolent in understanding that we make mistakes."

The measure then quickly passed on a 4-2 vote. Dallas now joins several other large police departments and the FBI in no longer insisting on a life-long history of drug abstinence in its new recruits.

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Law Enforcement: DEA to Hire 200 New Agents

Thanks to funding provided in the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed last month by Congress, the DEA will be able to lift a hiring freeze in place since August 2006, the agency announced late last month. The new funds will allow the agency to hire 200 new agents, as well as a similar number of support staff.

"This is an important and most welcome development," Leonhart said. "With this much-needed funding, DEA will be able to fill 200 Special Agent positions, as well as many vacant Intelligence Analyst and critical support positions. This legislation sends a strong and encouraging message to all of us at DEA as we continue our worldwide drug law enforcement mission."

According to the most recent DEA staffing figures, the agency employes 5,230 agents and 5,571 support staff, an all-time high. In 1972, the agency's first year, it had 1,470 agents and a budget of $65 million. The current annual budget is more than $2 billion.

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Weekly: This Week in History

January 11, 1906: LSD inventor Dr. Albert Hofmann is born.

January 16, 1919: The 18th Amendment (alcohol prohibition) is declared ratified and is scheduled to take effect in one year.

January 16, 1920: At midnight, the 18th Amendment becomes law, making alcohol illegal.

January 11, 1923: The New York Times publishes the article "Marihuana Is Newest Drug," and claims the State of New York has 50,000 drug addicts.

January 12, 1929: The Porter Narcotic Farm Act is enacted, establishing the first two narcotics hospitals for addicts in federal prisons in response to addicts' crowding.

January 14, 1937: A private federal cannabis conference takes place in room 81 of the Treasury Building in Washington, DC, leading up to enactment of federal marijuana prohibition later that year.

January 15, 1963: President Kennedy establishes the Advisory Commission on Narcotic and Drug Abuse, with Judge E. Barrett Prettyman as chair.

January 16, 1980: Paul McCartney is arrested by Japanese customs officials at Tokyo International Airport when they find two plastic bags in his suitcases containing 219 grams of marijuana (approximately 7.7 ounces). Concerned that McCartney would be refused a US visa under immigration laws if convicted and be unable to perform in an upcoming Wings concert in the US, Sen. Edward Kennedy calls first secretary of the British Embassy D.W.F. Warren-Knott on January 19. McCartney is released and deported on January 25.

January 15, 1997: Milahhr Kemnah, an AIDS patient visiting the Cannabis Cultivators Club in San Francisco, becomes the first person to buy medical marijuana in California following passage of Proposition 215.

January 12, 2001: reports that the nephew of Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft received probation after a felony conviction in state court for growing 60 marijuana plants with intent to distribute the drug in 1992. This is a lenient sentence, given that these charges often trigger much tougher federal penalties and jail time. Ashcroft was the tough-on-drugs Missouri governor at the time.

January 15, 2002: The Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court ruled that, in Idaho, marijuana users can drive legally as long as their driving isn't erratic and they can pass a field sobriety test. A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that while it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, Idaho law doesn't list marijuana as a narcotic.

January 14, 2003: A high profile pain prosecution ends with a whimper when California prosecutors dismiss all remaining charges against Dr. Frank Fisher.

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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:

  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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Job Opportunity: Graphic Designer, Marijuana Policy Project

The Graphic Designer is the Marijuana Policy Project's sole design employee and thus is responsible for all aspects of design work -- from the design work itself to obtaining price quotes from printers and mail shops and shepherding projects through all stages of production.

Specifically, the Graphic Designer is responsible for designing, typesetting, and laying out a wide range of print materials, including newsletters, brochures, reports, and mailings; designing t-shirts and other promotional items; designing graphics for MPP's web site; finalizing publications for printer (ensuring proper colors, proper color mode, proper resolution, proper file formats, etc.); working with printers and mail shops to ensure jobs are printed and mailed correctly; and miscellaneous production tasks, such as obtaining price quotes from printers and ensuring that MPP's mailings comply with post office regulations.

Candidates should be experienced in using InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop (CS2) in a Macintosh environment and have several years of experience in print production. Candidates should also have a meticulous attention to detail, be highly organized, and be able to perform exceptionally in a fast-paced environment.

The Graphic Designer reports to the Chief of Staff, who in turn reports to MPP's Executive Director.

The salary of the Graphic Designer is $40,000 - $45,000. The position includes full health insurance and an optional retirement package.

To apply, please see MPP's application guidelines at and follow the instructions there.

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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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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.

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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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