Breaking News:Initiatives 2020 -- Legalization Sweep, Psychedelic Sweep, Medical Marijuana, Decrim

Drug War Chronicle #528 - March 21, 2008

1. Drug Overdose Deaths Are Going Through the Roof -- Is Anybody Watching?

While the nation worries about baseball players on steroids and teenagers smoking pot, an epidemic of drug overdoses is sweeping the country. There are methods of reducing the toll, but there are many obstacles, too, not the least of which is public and official indifference.

2. States Shifting to "Four Pillars" Approach, Instead of Mass Arrests and Scare Tactics, for Confronting Methamphetamine

Current approaches to methamphetamine use in the US have largely failed and should be replaced by a "Four Pillars" approach embracing prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and law enforcement, according to a report issued Tuesday. Some states have already moved that direction.

3. Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Managing Drugs and Alcohol," by Patt Denning, Jeanne Little, and Adina Glickman (2004, Guilford Press, 328 pp., $16.95 PB)

We usually reserve this space for books hot off the press, but in the case of "Over the Influence," we make an exception. This book is special enough for us to make it a premium for our contributors, and given that we are publishing a story this week about the rapidly rise toll from drug overdoses, we think its importance is self-evident.

4. Appeal: Three Exciting New Book Offers for Our Donating Supporters

We are pleased to offer the works "Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol," "Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the US Prison System," and "Cannabis: Yields and Dosage," as our latest membership premium gifts.

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

Greedy jail guards, pill-peddling cops, sticky-fingered cops, and a sticky-fingered prosecutor. On the corrupt cop front, it's the same old same old. Here's this week's version.

6. Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Officer Who Killed Young Mother in Drug Raid Gets Charged With Misdemeanors, Faces Eight Months at Most

The black community in Lima, Ohio, cried for justice after a SWAT team member killed Tarika Wilson and wounded her infant son during a raid in January. Those cries are unlikely to be quieted now as local authorities charged the police shooter with a pair of misdemeanors for the killing. He faces a maximum of eight months in jail.

7. Law Enforcement: Senate Votes to Restore Byrne Drug Task Force Funding Program

Although the Bush administration has tried repeatedly to zero out funding for the Justice Department grant program that funds state and local anti-drug task forces, Congress keeps trying to put it back. Last week, the Senate voted to restore more than $900 million in funds in the FY 2009 budget, but there's a long way to go yet.

8. Marijuana: New Hampshire House Passes Decriminalization Bill

The New Hampshire House Tuesday approved a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana. But Senate leaders say it is dead on arrival, and the governor is vowing to veto it if it passes.

9. Drug Testing: Washington State Supreme Court Rejects Random Tests of Students

The drug czar's office may be pushing the random drug testing of high school students, but it isn't going to happen in Washington state. The state Supreme Court last week ruled such testing unconstitutional.

10. Europe: Czechs to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Growing Up to Three Plants

The Czech Republic is set to decriminalize the possession of up to 20 joints and the growing of up three marijuana plants. The move comes as an adjustment to the penal code.

11. Latin America: First Coca Plantations, Cocaine Lab Found in Brazil

For the first time, Brazilian authorities have found coca plantations and a cocaine lab on national territory, and they are worried there could be more.

12. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"They're Producing Cocaine in Brazil Now, Too," "DEA Opens Drug War Fantasy Camp," "Mark Souder Accidentally Assists Marijuana Decrim Efforts in New Hampshire," "UN Drug Czar Refuses to Answer a Tough Question," "Internet Users Take a Swing at Anti-drug PSAs," "High School Drug Policy: Striving for Underachievement."

13. Weekly: This Week in History

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

14. Job Listing: Internship Opportunities at the Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is looking for summer interns to work in its Outreach and State Policies departments.

15. 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!

16. Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

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

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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.

1. Drug Overdose Deaths Are Going Through the Roof -- Is Anybody Watching?

According to a little noticed January report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drug overdoses killed more than 33,000 people in 2005, the last year for which firm data are available. That makes drug overdose the second leading cause of accidental death, behind only motor vehicle accidents (43,667) and ahead of firearms deaths (30,694).

What's more disturbing is that the 2005 figures are only the latest in such a seemingly inexorable increase in overdose deaths that the eras of the 1970s heroin epidemic and the 1980s crack wave pale in comparison. According to the CDC, some 10,000 died of overdoses in 1990; by 1999, that number had hit 20,000; and in the six years between then and 2005, it increased by more than 60%.

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naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote
"The death toll is equivalent to a hundred 757s crashing and killing everybody on board every year, but this doesn't make the news," said Dan Bigg of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, a harm reduction organization providing needle exchange and other services to drug users. "So many people have died, and we just don't care."

Fortunately, some people care. Harm reductionists like Bigg, some public health officials, and a handful of epidemiologists, including those at the CDC, have been watching the up-trend with increasing concern, and some drug policy reform organizations are devoting some energy to measures that could bring those numbers down.

But as youth sociologist and long-time critic of the drug policy establishment's overweening fascination with teen drug use Mike Males noted back in February, the official and press response to the CDC report has been "utter silence." That's because the wrong people are dying, Males argued: "Erupting drug abuse centered in middle-aged America is killing tens of thousands and hospitalizing hundreds of thousands every year, destroying families and communities, subjecting hundreds of thousands of children to abuse and neglect and packing foster care systems to unmanageable peaks, fostering gun violence among inner-city drug dealers, inciting an epidemic of middle-aged crime and imprisonment costing Americans tens of billions of dollars annually, and now creating a spin-off drug abuse epidemic among teens and young adults. Yet, because today's drug epidemic is mainly white middle-aged adults -- a powerful population that is "not supposed to abuse drugs" -- the media and officials can't talk about it. The rigid media and official rule: Drugs can ONLY be discussed as crises of youth and minorities."

The numbers are there to back up Males' point. Not only are Americans dying of drug overdoses in numbers never seen before, it is the middle-aged -- not the young -- who are doing most of the dying. And they are not, for the most part, overdosing on heroin or cocaine, but on Oxycontin, Lorcet, and other opioids created for pain control but often diverted into the lucrative black market created by prohibition.

Back in October, CDC epidemiologist Leonard Paulozzi gave Congress a foretaste of what the January report held. Drug death "rates are currently more than twice what they were during the peak years of crack cocaine mortality in the early 1990s, and four to five times higher than the rates during the year of heroin mortality peak in 1975," he said in testimony before the House Oversight and Investigations Committee.

"Mortality statistics suggest that these deaths are largely due to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs," Paulozzi continued. "Such statistics are backed up by studies of the records of state medical examiners. Such studies consistently report that a high percentage of people who die of prescription drug overdoses have a history of substance abuse."

But there is more to it than a mere correlation between increases in the prescribing and abuse of opioid pain relievers and a rising death rate, said Dr. Alex Kral, director of the Urban Health Program for RTI International, a large nonprofit health organization. Kral, who has been doing epidemiological research on opioid overdoses for 15 years, said there are a variety of factors at work.

"There hasn't been a big increase in heroin use," he said. "What's changed has been prescription opiate drug use. Oxycontin is probably a big part of the answer. The pharmaceutical companies have come up with good and highly useful versions of opioids, but they have also been diverted and used in illicit ways in epidemic fashion for the past 15 years."

But Kral also pointed the finger at the resort to mass imprisonment and forced treatment of drug offenders as a contributing factor. "What happens is that people who are opiate users go into prison or jail and they get off the drug, but when they come out and start using again, they use at the same levels as before, and they don't have the same kind of tolerance. We know that recent release from jail or prison is a big risk factor for overdose," he said.

"The last piece of the puzzle is drug treatment," Kral said. "Besides the tolerance problems for people who have been abstaining in treatment, there has been an increase in the use of methadone and buprenorphine, which is a good thing, but people are managing to overdose on those as well."

There are means of reducing the death toll, said a variety of harm reductionists, and the opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan) was mentioned by all of them. Naloxone is a big part of the answer, said the Chicago Recovery Alliance's Bigg. "It's been around for 40 years, it's a pure antidote, and it has no side effects. It consistently reverses overdoses via intramuscular injection; it's very simple to administer. If people have naloxone, it becomes much, much easier to avoid overdose deaths."

"Naloxone should be made available over the counter without a prescription," said Bigg. "In the meantime, every time a physician prescribes opioids, he should also prescribe naloxone."

"For a couple of years now, we've been talking about trying to get naloxone reclassified so it's available over the counter or maybe prescribed by a pharmacist," said Hilary McQuie, Western director for the Harm Reduction Coalition. "The problem is that you don't just need congressional activity, you also need to deal with the FDA process, and it's hard to find anyone in the activist community who understands that process."

Harm reductionists also have to grapple with the changing face of drug overdoses. "We're used to dealing with injection drug users," McQuie admitted, "and nobody really has a good initiative for dealing with prescription drug users. In our lobbying meetings about the federal needle exchange funding ban, we've started to talk about this, specifically about getting naloxone out there."

But while the overdose epidemic weighs heavily on the movement, no one wants to spend money to bring the numbers down. "This is a very big issue, it's very present for harm reduction workers," said McQuie. "But we haven't done a lot of press on it because there is no funding for overdose prevention. We have a very good program in San Francisco to train residential hotel managers and drug users at needle exchanges. It's very cheap; it only cost $70,000, including naloxone. But we can't get funders interested in this. We write grants to do this sort of work around the state, and we never get any money."

Perversely, the Office of National Drug Control Policy also opposes making naloxone widely available -- on the grounds that it is a moral hazard. "First of all, I don't agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That's No. 1," ONDCP's Deputy Director of Demand Reduction Bertha Madras said in January. "I just don't think that's good public health policy."

But even worse, Madras argued that availability of naloxone could encourage drug users to keep using because they would be less afraid of overdoses. And besides, Madras, continued, overdosing may be just what the doctor ordered for drug users. "Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services," Madras said.

"The drug czar's office argues that if you take away the potential consequences, in this case, a fatal overdose, you facilitate the use, but betting someone's life on that is just cruel and bizarre," snorted Bigg.

RTI's Kral noted that there are now 44 naloxone programs run by community groups across the country. "It would be wonderful if there were more of them, because they are staving off a lot of deaths, but they are controversial. The ONDCP says they condone drug use, but you can't rehabilitate a dead drug user."

While battles over naloxone access continue, said Bigg, there are other things that can be done. "We need to engage people, and that means overcoming shame," said Bigg. "Every couple of months, I get a call from a family that has lost a member to drugs and I ask them if they're willing to come forward and talk to reporters to stop it from happening again, and they say 'let me think about it,' and I never hear from them again.

Another means of reducing the death toll would be to start local organizations of people whose friends or family members have died or are still using and at risk. "We could call them 'First Things First,' as in first, let's keep our folks alive," he suggested.

"When people found out naloxone is out there, that it's this medicine that has no ill effects -- it has no effect at all unless you're using opioids -- and that it can't be abused, and that their family member could have had it and still be alive, that's a hard thing to realize," said Bigg. "Everyone who has lost a loved one wants him back, and to think he could still be alive today if there were naloxone is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow."

Despite the apparent low profile of drug policy reform groups, they, too, have been fighting on the overdose front. "We worked to pass groundbreaking overdose prevention bills in California and New Mexico," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We're working to advance overdose prevention bills in Maryland and New Jersey. We had a bill in 2006 in Congress that would have created a federal grant program for overdose prevention," he said, pointedly adding that not a single federal dollar goes to overdose prevention. "We've tried to introduce that in the new Congress but can't find someone to take a lead. To be frank, few politicians care about this issue. Their staff care even less."

A massive public education campaign is needed, said Piper, adding that DPA is working on a report on this very topic that should appear in a few weeks.

In the meantime, while politicians and drug war bureaucrats avert their gaze and deep-pocketed potential donors keep their purses tightly closed, while the nation worries about baseball players on steroids and teenagers smoking pot, the bodies pile up like cordwood.

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2. States Shifting to "Four Pillars" Approach, Instead of Mass Arrests and Scare Tactics, for Confronting Methamphetamine

Although the use of methamphetamine has remained fairly flat throughout this decade -- contrary to popular belief -- and its half-million semi-regular users are far fewer than regular users or heroin or cocaine, meth has been the demon drug du jour for the new millenium. The "meth epidemic" has aroused concerted law enforcement and propaganda efforts at the state and local levels, and belatedly aroused the attention of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which turned away from its obsession with marijuana long enough to include a few anti-meth segments in its National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign.

But while the states and federal government fill their prisons with tens of thousands of meth offenders and crank out ever more draconian laws to try to suppress the popular stimulant, public health officials, harm reductionists, and drug reform activists say there is a better way. Instead of relying on punitive laws, scare tactics, and failed federal leadership in confronting methamphetamine abuse, states and the federal government would be better off adopting more enlightened alternative approaches.

Current, law enforcement-heavy approaches to meth are ineffective and counterproductive, said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance as he introduced a new report he authored, "A Four-Pillars Approach to Methamphetamine: Policies for Effective Drug Prevention, Treatment, Policing and Harm Reduction." "Meth is not a new drug," Piper told the Tuesday teleconference. "Its use has fluctuated for the past 40 years and has been relatively stable since 1999. But it has become more available, more potent, and more addictive over time, and federal policies have failed to reduce most of the problems associated with meth use."

Even when law enforcement can legitimately claim successes, as in the massive reduction in the number of home meth labs, it only breeds new problems, said Piper. "The law of unintended consequences brought us the increasing power of the Mexican meth cartels."

There is a better way, and that is to adopt the Four Pillars approach, Piper argued in the report. That approach, already in use in places like Geneva, Zurich, Frankfurt, Sydney, and most famously, Vancouver, "has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of users consuming drugs on the street, a significant drop in overdose deaths, and a reduction in the infection rates for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis," he said.

A Four Pillars approach to meth should include the following steps, the report said:

  • Eliminate barriers to successful meth treatment, such as the shortage of treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women;
  • Divert nonviolent methamphetamine offenders to treatment instead of jail;
  • Invest in research to develop the equivalent of methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of methamphetamine abuse, and allow doctors to prescribe dextroamphetmaine, modafinil, Ritalin and other medications to treat stimulant addiction as part of counseling and drug treatment;
  • Eliminate failed, scare-based prevention programs like DARE and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and increase funding for after-school programs instead;
  • Re-prioritize local and federal law enforcement agencies to focus on violent criminals instead of nonviolent drug offenders, and set clear statutory goals and reporting requirements for the disruption of major methamphetamine operations; and
  • Make sterile syringes widely available to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

While New Mexico is the only state that has formally embraced a Four Pillars strategy including harm reduction as part of its approach to meth -- a program in which DPA played a key and continuing role -- promising developments are afoot in other places as well, including California and Utah.

In California, Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, in effect since 2001, is making a significant contribution in drying up the flow of new drug prisoners into the state's swollen and budget-devouring prisons. Under Prop. 36, about 35,000 people a year have been diverted from prison to drug treatment through the criminal justice system, with slightly more than half of them reporting meth as their primary drug of abuse. With nearly 19,000 meth users a year entering treatment under Prop 36, the program is the largest meth treatment and prevention program in the nation.

"We are not only reducing the number of people locked up, but we have saved about $1.5 billion in the past seven years, with recidivism dropping and no negative impact on crime rates," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Proposition 36 coordinator for DPA. "We can get treatment to people who need it with cost savings and a positive outcome."

Lou Martinez was one of those people. A chronic California meth user for a decade, he was arrested numerous times for possession of drugs or paraphernalia. "I was constantly getting picked up throughout the '90s, I could never comply with the probation conditions, I was in and out of jail all the time," he said.

Things changed after Prop. 36, Martinez said. "I got picked up again in 2002, but this time I was referred to Prop. 36 and was able to detox and get health and psych screenings. I spent 90 days in a transitional house, and when I graduated in 2004, for the first time in my adult life I wasn't under the control of the courts. Without Prop. 36, there is no way I could have broken that cycle of arrests and trying unsuccessfully to quit."

Martinez returned to college, got a bachelor's degree, and now works directly with Prop. 36 clients. "It saved my life," he said of the program.

In Utah, the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Act (DORA), which provides substance abuse screening for anyone convicted of a felony is now taking an innovative Salt Lake County program statewide, while across the Four Corners in New Mexico, policymakers, state agencies and other stakeholders have developed a comprehensive meth strategy bringing together all four of the Four Pillars.

Harm reduction is a key element, said Reena Szczepanski, director of DPA New Mexico, and a key player in developing the New Mexico strategy. "What are we going to do for people before they are ready to go into treatment?" she said. "What other problems and conditions do they have? Since 1997, we've had a statewide system of needle exchanges, where drug users can get health education, access to testing, information on how to respond to overdoses. This is harm reduction. Before someone is ready to go into treatment, they are already engaging a system of services that will be there when they are ready," she said.

Methamphetamine may be over-hyped as a national drug problem, but it is a locus of concern among policymakers, health care professionals, law enforcement, and society at large. With meth such a high profile drug policy issue, the battles over how to approach it may set the tone for drug policy discussions for years to come. With its report calling for a Four Pillars approach, the Drug Policy Alliance is taking up the challenge.

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3. Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Managing Drugs and Alcohol," by Patt Denning, Jeanne Little, and Adina Glickman (2004, Guilford Press, 328 pp., $16.95 PB)

Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/overtheinfluence-smaller.jpg
We usually reserve this space for books hot off the press, but in the case of "Over the Influence," we make an exception. This book is special enough for us to make it a premium for our contributors, and given that we are publishing a story this week about the rapidly rising toll from drug overdoses, we think its importance is self-evident.

Like most people interested in drug law reform, I believe that substance use is a constant in human affairs, and that -- as US history over the past few decades demonstrates -- nothing short of totalitarianism can stomp it out, and then, most likely, only temporarily. I also believe that substance use does not automatically equate to substance abuse or addiction.

Nor am I especially comfortable with the "disease model" of addiction championed by the mad scientists of NIDA, as well as too many well-meaning drug reformers and, perhaps, self-interested drug treatment providers. The concomitant to the disease model, which seeks to replace human agency with biopsychopharmacological determinism, is the Alcoholics Anonymous-based drug treatment dogma that people with problematic drug habits are addicts, the victims of a progressive, incurable disease whose only cure is lifelong abstinence.

As the authors of "Over the Influence" note, philosophical objections aside, a major, major problem with abstinence-based drug treatment is that it just doesn't work. Although abstinence-based programs account for more than nine out of ten programs in the US, that appears to be more because of inertia than results: Such programs, which define "success" as abstinence from all drugs, work only between 5% and 39% of the time, and that's for the small minority of users who actually complete them.

Instead of relying on programs and models that rely on the disease model and the insistence that the only success is staying completely straight, the authors of "Over the Influence" suggest that we apply the principles of harm reduction to drug use in our personal lives. While the notion of harm reduction in this context is controversial, it shouldn't be -- because it's only common sense.

Harm reduction accepts that people may do things that pose potential risks or harms to them and -- duh -- seeks to reduce those harms. Some people like to race automobiles. Abstinence says they should never race; harm reduction says they should wear helmets and protective clothing. Some people (like those darned teenagers) like to have sex without waiting for marriage. Abstinence says they should remain virgins until the holy day arrives; harm reduction says provide them with birth control and protection from disease if they're going to be sexually active.

When it comes to substance use, the advocates of abstinence are even more insistent: The only way to cure the disease is to never use any psychoactive substance (except for cigarettes and coffee, as any AA veteran knows). But Denning, Little, and Glickman, all three of whom have long experience in harm reduction and therapy under their belts, dare to suggest what has heretofore been anathema in the treatment community: There are other choices besides quitting. In fact, they take as their mantra a slogan popularized by the Chicago Recovery Alliance: Any Positive Change.

What does that mean? Say you think your cocaine use is getting out of hand. You had been snorting only on weekends, but now you find yourself doing it every day. Can you at least skip Tuesday and Thursdays? If you manage to do that, you have not only reduced the potential harm of chronic cocaine use, you have also proven to yourself that you can control your relationship with your drug of choice, that you are not a helpless victim doomed to a downward spiral of addiction and misery.

Or maybe you like to drink, but you find that your nightly bottle of wine is making you so sluggish the next day that you are not getting your work done and your job could be in jeopardy. Can you make it a half-bottle? If so, once again, you have reduced the harm of your substance use and you have demonstrated your control over your own life. And you have not given up the fruit of the vine, only moderated your use of it.

Of course, not everyone is just going to wake up one day, decide to change their substance use habits, and be successful at it. But even if one does not succeed on the first try, the very act of trying to assess and regulate one's drug use is a step in the direction of harm reduction. One of the elements that makes "Over the Influence" so useful for drug users (and those concerned about them) is that it shows readers how to think critically about their drug use, its benefits, and its potential harms. A little introspection never hurt anybody, and when it comes to potentially lethal substances like alcohol or hard drugs, a little introspection can save lives.

"Over the Influence" is absolutely essential for anyone seeking to come to grips with his or her substance use, and even more so for those friends or family members of people who are having problems with their drug use. Unlike AA-based abstinence programs, which seem to work for only a small percentage of people, applying the principles of harm reduction to substance use is likely to make a difference in the larger world of still-drug-using people.

It seems so sensible. How can this be controversial?

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4. Appeal: Three Exciting New Book Offers for Our Donating Supporters

We are pleased to announce our first membership premiums of 2008, three very different and important books:

Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the US Prison System. This work by Silja Talvi, one of the most active writers on criminal justice issues, draws on interviews with inmates, correctional officers and administrators, providing readers with a look at the devastating impact incarceration is having on our society.

Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol. Dr. Patt Denning offers a much needed guide to options for dealing with substance use issues that go beyond the conventional "all or nothing" approaches.

Cannabis Yields and Dosage, by court-certified cannabis expert Chris Conrad, is the authoritative study of the science and legalities of calculating medical marijuana.

Copies of Women Behind Bars or Over the Influence can be requested with donations of $30 or more -- donate $55 or more to receive both. Copies of Cannabis Yields and Dosage can be requested with donations of $20 or more -- donate $45 or more for Cannabis Yields and Dosages plus one of the others. Donate $70 and receive all three books as our thanks. We also continue all our other recent offers -- visit our donation page online to view all the offerings in the righthand column.

You can also preview Cannabis Yields and Dosage online at ChrisConrad.com -- the print copies we'll send you are thanks for your generous donations, and I hope you will donate. Your donations will help DRCNet as we advance our campaign to stop dangerous SWAT raids in routine situations; to take on new issues like the drug penalties in welfare and housing law; to advance the dialogue on drug legalization; to continue our stunning web site successes of the last third of 2007; while continuing to publish our acclaimed and widely-used newsletter, Drug War Chronicle.

So please make a generous donation today to help the cause! I know you will feel the money was well spent after you see what DRCNet has in store. Our online donation form lets you donate by credit card, by PayPal, or to print out a form to send with your check or money order by mail.

Please note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, our lobbying entity, are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations can be made to DRCNet Foundation, our educational wing. (Choosing one or more gifts will reduce the portion of your donation that you can deduct by the retail cost of the item.) Both groups receive member mail at: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

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

Greedy jail guards, pill-peddling cops, sticky-fingered cops, and a sticky-fingered prosecutor. On the corrupt cop front, it's the same old same old. Here's this week's version. Let's get to it:

In Charleston, Illinois, a former Coles County assistant prosecutor is considering voluntary disbarment after being accused of stealing drugs from a Coles County Sheriff's Department evidence locker. Former prosecutor James Baba, 39, took 10 grams of marijuana from the department and never returned it after telling deputies "he needed the evidence for court purposes," according to an official with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). The ARDC accused Baba of theft in a complaint filed last August but not publicly known until now, and also noted the he successfully sought the dismissal of the case against the man to whom the 10 grams of pot belonged. While Baba had reportedly agreed to voluntary disbarment, he had not submitted paper work to the ARDC by last week, and the commission said it will move to disbar him if he doesn't do it himself. The missing marijuana was discovered after Baba had been fired in 2006 for excessive absences. State prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges.

In Cleveland, a Cleveland police sergeant got out on bail Tuesday after being arrested on charges he stole money from a department evidence locker. Sgt. Carlton Darrell, 41, is accused of stealing $5,779 while he served as supervisor of the narcotics unit. He was originally arrested in November after a four-month Internal Affairs investigation and was rearrested last week after being indicted. He is charged with theft, theft in office and tampering with records. Each count is a third degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Lebanon Correctional Institution officer was arrested last Friday for trying to smuggle heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana into the Turtlecreek township prison. John Curless, 35, is charged with third-degree felony attempting to convey drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility, fifth-degree felony possession of drugs and fifth-degree possession of criminal tools. Curless went down after the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections obtained information that he was working with a prisoner to bring drugs into the prison. He was arrested as he met with his contact to pick up the drugs headed for the prison. He faces up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.

In Swampscott, Massachusetts, a Swampscott police officer was arrested March 13 on federal charges of selling Percocet pills. Officer Thomas Wrenn, 37, is charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. According to an affidavit, Wrenn purchased Percocet pills, which contain oxycodone, over a period of months and routinely consumed them and cocaine. He is also accused of selling some pills to a former Nahant police officer and a young woman in whom he had a romantic interest. Wrenn was arrested by DEA agents and Swampscott police as he purchased 50 pills from his regular supplier.

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6. Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Officer Who Killed Young Mother in Drug Raid Gets Charged With Misdemeanors, Faces Eight Months at Most

Back in January, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a member of the Lima, Ohio, SWAT team shot and killed Tarika Wilson, 26, and shot and maimed her infant son, Sincere Wilson, as she held him in her arms as he and other SWAT team members executed a drug search warrant at the home Wilson shared with her boyfriend. The boyfriend was the object of the raid.

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graphic appearing on Lima SWAT team web site, removed after shooting
Police have presented no evidence that Wilson acted in a threatening manner as the SWAT team burst into her home.

On Monday, prosecutors charged Chavalia with two misdemeanors -- negligent homicide in the death of Wilson and negligent assault in the wounding of her child -- that could see him spend a maximum of eight months in prison if convicted on both counts. Wilson's relatives and activists, many of whom allege a pattern of discriminatory policing by the Lima police, were outraged.

The shooting itself touched off heated city council meetings and protest marches. Many citizens and civil rights leaders, including national figures like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had called for police and local elected officials to be held accountable. Those calls grew louder after Chavalia's charges were announced.

"Any time a man shoots through a baby and kills an unarmed woman, and is charged with two misdemeanors, I think it would be an understatement to say that that's unacceptable," said Jason Upthegrove, Lima NAACP president, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Upthegrove said the charges should have been more serious. He added that the Lima NAACP will ask the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate whether the case has been handled fairly.

"No one's above the law, even if he serves it," said Ivory Austin II, brother of Tarika Wilson. "Don't separate the police from the people. We are all equal in the society. Treat the police like you would treat the common man," he told the AP.

Lima Police Chief Greg Garlock said there was continued sadness over the shooting. "It's a sad day for us that one of our officers was indicted," Garlock said.

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7. Law Enforcement: Senate Votes to Restore Byrne Drug Task Force Funding Program

The US Senate voted last Friday to restore funding to the federal grant program that pays for the multi-jurisdictional state and local anti-drug task forces that roam the land enforcing the drug laws. The Bush administration's Fiscal Year 2009 budget had zeroed out appropriations for the program, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program.

Funded at $520 million in Fiscal Year 2007, the two-decade old program that allows states to supplement their anti-drug spending with federal tax dollars was already down substantially from previous funding levels. For the past three years, as a cost-cutting move, the Bush administration has tried to zero it out completely, but that has proven extremely unpopular with Congress. In December, as it sought to pass the FY 2008 budget, the House voted to fund the block grant portion of the program at $600 million and the Senate at $660 million, but in last-minute budget negotiations, the White House insisted the funding be cut.

For FY 2009, the Bush administration again zeroed out appropriations for the JAG program, instead allocating $200 million for a combined federal grants program. But it is up against a powerful law enforcement lobby that has mobilized to restore funding. Democrat politicians eager to appear "tough on crime" have been especially vulnerable to such appeals.

It was two Democrats, Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Diane Feinstein of California, along with Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who cosponsored an amendment to the 2009 budget that would fund the Byrne JAG program at $906 million, far above the levels of recent years.

"Day in and day out, communities depend on our law enforcement professionals to keep them safe and be fully prepared to respond in emergencies," Feingold said. "The dedicated service they provide cannot happen without support from the federal government. We must provide adequate funding for successful programs like the COPS program and the Byrne program in order to provide the tools, technology, and training our law enforcement professionals need to protect our communities," he said.

"Unfortunately, the president's proposal to cut funding for these successful crime-fighting programs is nothing new," Feingold said. "Congress has rightly rejected the President's cuts to these programs in the past, and I'm working with my colleagues to include this critical funding in the 2009 budget."

Despite the demagoguery and the Senate vote, a reinvigorated Byrne JAG grant program is not yet a done deal. The House must also vote to approve funding, and if the White House follows the direction it has taken in recent years, it will once again oppose any expansive new funding -- as it successfully did in December.

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8. Marijuana: New Hampshire House Passes Decriminalization Bill

In a vote that caught most observers by surprise, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a scaled-back marijuana decriminalization bill by a margin of 193-141. To become law, the measure must still pass the state Senate, where it will receive a cool reception, and be signed by the governor, who has signaled his opposition to it.

Sponsored by Reps. Jeffrey Fontas (D-Nashua) and Andrew Edwards (D-Nashua), the bill, HB 1623, would make possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana a violation punishable by a maximum $200 fine. Currently, small-time possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The favorable vote came despite the bill's rejection by a House policy committee and the opposition of law enforcement officials. Among arguments raised by proponents was that young offenders would be unfairly punished by having a marijuana offense on their records.

"How can we expect young people to get back on the right path if we take away every opportunity to do so?" Rep. Fontas said during the debate.

That sentiment was echoed on the Republican side of the aisle, too. "The question today is not whether marijuana should be illegal, but whether a teenager making a stupid decision should face up to a year in prison and loss of all federal funding for college,'' said Rep. Jason Bedrick (R-Windham).

Rep. John Tholl (R-Whitefield), a part-time police chief in the village of Dalton, was typical of opponents. He warned darkly that anyone sharing small amounts of marijuana could be charged with a felony and that anyone transporting it could still face jail time. Still, the measure would send the wrong message, he said.

"If you send a message to the young people of our state that a quarter ounce of marijuana is no big deal, like a traffic ticket, what you are doing is you are telling them we are not going to be looking at this very hard,'' Tholl said.

According to the Nashua Telegraph, Gov. John Lynch also thinks the bill sends the wrong message. His press secretary, Colin Manning, said Lynch will urge the Senate to reject it.

"This sends absolutely the wrong message to New Hampshire's young people about the very real dangers of drug use. That is why the governor joins with the House Criminal Justice Committee and law enforcement in opposing this bill,'' Manning said. "If the bill were to reach the governor's desk, which seems very unlikely, the governor would veto it.''

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster (D-Nashua) told the newspaper the bill is going nowhere in his chamber. "I know of no interest in the Senate on either side of the aisle to entertain this,'' Foster told reporters. "The governor has expressed his view, but I don't think he will see it coming to him.''

The New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, which has led the lobbying charge for the bill, praised the House and urged the Senate to act. "Our representatives in the House did the right thing for New Hampshire -- and especially for New Hampshire's young people," said the coalition's Matt Simon. "It's time for the Senate to finish the work we've started here and bring some sanity to our marijuana sentencing policies."

Eleven states have decriminalized marijuana possession, mostly in the 1970s. Nevada was the most recent, decriminalizing in 2001.

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9. Drug Testing: Washington State Supreme Court Rejects Random Tests of Students

In a March 13 ruling, the Washington state Supreme Court has rejected the random, suspicionless drug testing of high school students. In so doing, the court threw out a Wahkiakum School District policy in effect since 1999 that forced would-be student athletes to participate in drug tests if they wished to participate in school sports. The state constitution offers protections to students that federal courts have failed to find in the Fourth Amendment, the court held.

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drug testing lab
The ruling came in York v. Wahkiakum, in which the parents of student athletes Aaron and Abraham York and Tristan Schneider sued the school district, arguing that the program violated the state constitution.

In particular, York and Schneider argued that the random suspicionless drug tests violated Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution: "SECTION 7 INVASION OF PRIVATE AFFAIRS OR HOME PROHIBITED. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law."

As the Washington state Supreme Court noted, the US Supreme Court had held that requiring student athletes to submit to random drug tests is constitutional: "The United States Supreme Court has held such activity does not violate the Fourth Amendment to the federal constitution," wrote Justice Gerry Alexander for the majority. "But we have never decided whether a suspicionless, random drug search of student athletes violates article I, section 7 of our state constitution. Therefore, we must decide whether our state constitution follows the federal standard or provides more protection to students in the state of Washington."

It does indeed, the court held. "The school district asks us to adopt a 'special needs' exception to the warrant requirement to allow random and suspicionless drug testing," wrote Justice Gerry Alexander in the majority opinion. "But we do not recognize such an exception and hold warrantless random and suspicionless drug testing of student athletes violates the Washington State Constitution."

It will be back to the drawing board for school districts in Washington that currently have random drug test policies, thanks to the state Supreme Court.

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10. Europe: Czechs to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Growing Up to Three Plants

The Czech Republic will decriminalize the possession of up to 20 joints, a gram of hashish, or up to three marijuana plants, according to a report from the Czech news site iDNES. Under Czech law, possession of "more than a small amount of drugs" is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

But Czechs are among the most prolific of European pot-smokers, and pressure has been mounting for years for an adjustment in the law. Now, the vague "more than a small amount" has been codified. Also included in the decrim measure is possession of up to a half-gram of methamphetamine.

"Several European countries have similar rules. It is good to say somewhere that you will not face prosecution for a single hemp plant," Viktor Mravčík, head of the Czech National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug Addiction, told iDNES.

This change in the Czech penal code will bring the law into line with prevailing practice. According to Czech police, who had issued their own limits on minor drug possession (which were ignored by the courts), only about one-fifth of people caught growing marijuana plants were prosecuted in 2006. The rest only paid fines.

"We already have our own criteria on what we consider a crime," Břetislav Brejcha, an officer at the national anti-drug headquarters NPDC, told iDNES. The police limits "are quite similar to the new regulation, therefore we don't mind it at all," Brejcha added.

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11. Latin America: First Coca Plantations, Cocaine Lab Found in Brazil

In an ominous sign for US coca eradication efforts in South America, the Brazilian military said Sunday it had for the first time discovered coca plantations and a cocaine laboratory on its national territory. Coca has been grown by indigenous people in the Andes for thousands of years, and in recent years, three countries -- Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia -- have accounted for all the world's coca leaf.

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coca seedlings
The Brazilian army used helicopters and small boats to reach the coca fields and lab in a remote area near the northwestern city of Tabatinga, close to the borders with Peru and Colombia. The fields were discovered when satellite photos showed large clearings hacked out of the jungle.

Lt. Col. Antônio Elcio Franco Filho told reporters Sunday finding coca plants was a surprise. "It is the first time these plantations have been found in Brazil," he said, adding that the find had prompted authorities to look for more fields in the region.

"This is new in Brazil and it's a concern," Walter Maierovitch, an organized crime expert who once headed Brazil's anti-drug efforts, told the government's Agência Brasil news service. "It could mean a change in the geo-strategy of some Colombian cartels."

While coca grows well in the Andean-Amazon highlands, the climate in the Amazon basin is not believed to be favorable to coca cultivation. But according to Franco Filho, the leaf growing in Brazil could be adapted to that climate.

"We believe they are using a transgenic or an adaptation of the leaf used in the Andean region," Franco Filho said. "They are probably trying to find new locations to grow this, so we need to stay alert. Authorities need to crack down on them immediately. If we don't do anything it might even become a source of deforestation."

By Monday, US anti-drug officials were raising alarms. "Brazilian law enforcement is going to have to be vigilant on this front, so it doesn't become a major producer," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney told the Associated Press. If coca can be successful grown there, said Courtney, "the Amazon would be a perfect area, with all the brush and uninhabited areas. It almost creates a perfect opportunity. Drug traffickers and organizations are always moving to new areas."

No one was arrested in the raid. Brazil, whose status as the world's number two cocaine consumer nation may be threatened by the rising popularity of the drug in Europe, may now be about to join the elite ranks of the coca producing nations.

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12. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

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

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

Since last issue:

Scott Morgan brings us: "They're Producing Cocaine in Brazil Now, Too," "DEA Opens Drug War Fantasy Camp," "Mark Souder Accidentally Assists Marijuana Decrim Efforts in New Hampshire," and "UN Drug Czar Refuses to Answer a Tough Question."

DRCNet interns Amanda Shafer and Jenifer Van Nortwick contribute: "Internet Users Take a Swing at Anti-drug PSAs" and "High School Drug Policy: Striving for Underachievement."

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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13. Weekly: This Week in History

March 22, 1972: The Richard Nixon-appointed, 13-member National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommends the decriminalization of marijuana, concluding, "Marihuana's relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it."

March 23, 1983: Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush is placed in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, which was supposed to staunch the drug flow over all US borders. Twenty-five years later drugs continue to be widely available throughout the United States.

March 25, 1994: Retired minister Accelyne Williams dies of a heart attack when a SWAT team consisting of 13 heavily armed Boston police officers raids his apartment based on an incorrect tip by an unidentified informant. No drugs or guns were found in the apartment. An editorial in The Boston Globe later observed: "The Williams tragedy resulted, in part, from the 'big score' mentality of the centralized Boston Police Drug Control Unit. Officers were pumped up to seize machine guns in addition to large quantities of cocaine and a 'crazy amount of weed,' in the words of the informant."

March 24, 1998: House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) establishes the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America to design a World War II-style victory plan to save America's children from illegal drugs and achieve a Drug-Free America by 2002.

March 25, 2002: The Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly approves H.B. 1222, the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, which removes criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana.

March 26, 2002: A unanimous US Supreme Court rules that public housing tenants can be evicted for any illegal drug activity by household members or guests, even if they did not know about it.

March 21, 2003: President Bush announces his intention to nominate Karen P. Tandy to be the Drug Enforcement Administration's new administrator. Tandy served in the Department of Justice (DOJ) as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. She also previously served in DOJ as Chief of Litigation in the Asset Forfeiture Office and as Deputy Chief for Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Earlier in her career, she prosecuted drug, money laundering, and forfeiture cases as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia and in the Western District of Washington.

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14. Job Listing: Internship Opportunities at the Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is now hiring summer interns. MPP internships offer the chance to gain experience in a successful nonprofit organization -- while helping to restore sense to our nation's marijuana policies. MPP summer internships are unpaid and part-time (12-20 hours per week), with class credit available.

Internships are available in two departments: Outreach and State Policies.

The Outreach intern will assist with online outreach, including utilizing blogs, online social networking sites, and online advertising. Responsibilities also include conducting research, assisting with logistics for campaign events and advertisements, assisting with video production, and helping to produce handouts and other publications.

The State Policies intern will monitor the news for relevant articles, format and post news articles on MPP's state Web pages; ensure MPP's state Web pages are working correctly, and otherwise assist in the State Policies Department's work to reform marijuana laws on the state level through lobbying campaigns.

Candidates should expect a fast-paced, professional environment and should have excellent oral and written communications skills, strong Internet research skills, a professional demeanor, and be meticulous, organized, and detail-oriented. Knowledge of HTML is helpful but not required. Additionally, candidates for the Outreach position should be familiar with emerging Internet technologies, and candidates for the State Policies position should have an interest in the legislative and policy-making process.

To apply for either internship, please visit http://mpp.org/internships.

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15. 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org to learn more about our organization.

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16. 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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17. 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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18. Resource: DRCNet Web Site Offers Wide Array of RSS Feeds for Your Reader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drug War Issues

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