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Drug War Chronicle #543 - July 18, 2008

1. Feature: Beyond 2008 -- Global Civil Society Tells the UN It's Time to Fix International Drug Policy

Meeting in Vienna last week, representatives of more than 300 non-governmental organizations concerned with various aspects of drug policy crafted a consensus document calling for a fundamental shift in global drug control.

2. Chronicle Book Review: "Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine," by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb (2008, NYU Press, 244 pp., $22.00 PB)

Two sociologists take on medical marijuana and Santa Cruz's Wo/Men's Access to Medical Marijuana (WAMM) collective. We review their efforts and find them worthy.

3. Media: David Borden in Televised Drug Legalization Debate's executive director recently did a 25-minute debate on drug legalization on a network that airs across Europe and the Middle East. Video is online here.

4. 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!

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

A North Texas officer snitches for the Zetas, a Louisiana cop gets a package of pot from Mexico, a New Jersey Transit cop gets popped with pounds of pot, a Mississippi cop gets nailed for stealing from the dope fund, and an Ohio narc goes to prison for stealing cocaine.

6. Medical Marijuana: Seattle Police Seize Hundreds of Patient Files in Raid on Co-op

Washington has a medical marijuana law and Seattle has a lowest law enforcement priority ordinance, but that didn't stop Seattle cops from seizing hundreds of patient files from a Seattle co-op.

7. Search and Seizure: Strip Search of School Girl for Ibuprofen Went Too Far, Federal Appeals Court Says

You can't strip search a school girl to see if she's carrying a low-grade pain reliever, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The only shocking thing about this verdict is that five out 11 of the justices disagreed.

8. Europe: Battle of the Swiss Drug Referenda

Voters in Switzerland will have a clear choice on drug policy as they go to the polls November 30.

9. Europe: Austrian Parliament Okays Medical Marijuana, But Only State Agency Can Grow It

Austria's parliament has taken a first step toward making medical marijuana available. A bill it approved allows a state agency to grow it.

10. Europe: Rastafarians Can Smoke Marijuana, Italian Court Rules

Italy's highest court has recognized the religious use of marijuana in a case involving an Italian Rastafarian.

11. Death Penalty: Indonesia Gives Go-Ahead for More Executions

Indonesia had not executed anyone for four years as its high court considered a constitutional challenge to the death penalty for drug offenders. But the challenge is over, the death penalty remains, the executions have started again, and there are more on tap.

12. Europe: Selling Grow Equipment Not a Crime, British Appeals Court Rules

Selling equipment used to grow marijuana is not in itself a crime, a British appeals court has ruled.

13. Weekly: This Week in History

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

14. Job Opportunities: Two Full-time Jobs, a Fellowship, and an Internship, Marijuana Policy Project, DC

The Marijuana Policy Project has openings for an Office Administrator/Bookkeeper, a Director of State Policies, a Membership and Events Fellow, and a State Policies Intern in their headquarters in Washington, DC.

15. Job Opportunity: Outreach Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, DC or San Francisco

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is seeking a highly motivated, well-organized Outreach Director for its Washington, DC or San Francisco office to assist with strengthening the student movement to end the failed War on Drugs.

16. Job Opportunity: Media Relations Director, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Washington, DC

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) seeks a Media Relations Director to prepare and disseminate information on FAMM's federal and state campaigns through newspapers, periodicals, television and radio and other forms of media.

17. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"Drug Testing Advocate Gets Busted For Drugs," "U.S. Drug Warriors Interfere With Vienna Drug Policy Summit," "Former Staffer Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Faking Statistics," "Opponents of Marijuana Reform Can't Keep Their Story Straight," "The Link Between Sagging Pants Laws and the Drug War," "Prosecutors Spend Confiscated Drug Money on Margarita Machine, Win 'Best Margarita' at County Fair," "Save the Children, Legalize Drugs," "How Many Patients You Say??... Well Here Are Their Names, Addresses, and Card Numbers."

18. Help Needed: Drug War Chronicle Seeking Cases of Informant Abuse

Drug War Chronicle is seeking information on serious police misconduct or misjudgments in the treatment of informants. Confidentiality will be protected.

19. 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.

20. 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!

21. 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.

22. 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: Beyond 2008 -- Global Civil Society Tells the UN It's Time to Fix International Drug Policy

Last week, some 300 delegates representing organizations from across the drug policy spectrum met in Vienna for the Beyond 2008 NGO Forum, an effort to provide civil society input on global drug policy. Building on a series of regional meetings last year, the forum was part of an ongoing campaign to reshape the United Nations' drug policy agenda as the world organization grapples with its next 10-year plan.

UN building housing the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna (interior shot)
In 1998, the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs issued a declaration outlining its 10-year strategy to "eliminate or significantly reduce" the cultivation of marijuana, coca, and opium poppies. "A drug-free world -- we can do it!" was the motto adopted by UNGASS a decade ago. Now, with the 10-year review bumped back to next March, it is clear that the global anti-drug bureaucracy cannot claim to have achieved its goals, and civil society is taking the opportunity to intervene in search of a new, more pragmatic and humane direction in global drug policy.

The NGO meeting, which included drug treatment, prevention, education, and policy reform groups, harm reduction groups, and human rights groups from around the world, resulted in a resolution that will be presented to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) at its meeting next March. At that meeting, the CND will draft the next UN 10-year global drug strategy.

Of the nine regions of the world, only North America sent two delegations. The first, which had met in St. Petersburg, Florida, in January, deliberately excluding harm reduction and drug reform groups, was the "official" delegation, representing hard-line prohibitionist organizations aligned with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, such as the Drug-Free America Foundation and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the California Narcotics Officers Association, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

The second North American grouping, which had held its regional meeting in Vancouver in February, included dozens of organizations in drug reform and harm reduction, as well as treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation groups. Among the organizations from the Vancouver meeting that went to Vienna were the ACLU Drug Law Policy Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Virginians Against Drug Violence, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Harm Reduction Coalition, Break The Chains, and the Institute for Policy Studies.

In many ways, the three-day meeting in Vienna was a debate among North Americans, with the NGOs of the other eight regions having largely agreed on a reformist and harm reduction approach. And strikingly, for the first time at a UN event, the prohibitionists found themselves in a distinct minority.

After three days of sometimes heated discussion, the unanimous declaration of the NGOs at Beyond 2008 called for:

  • Recognition of "the human rights abuses against people who use drugs";

  • "Evidence-based" drug policy focused on "mitigation of short-term and long-term harms" and "full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms";
  • The UN to report on the collateral consequences of the current criminal justice-based approach to drugs and to provide an "analysis of the unintended consequences of the drug control system";
  • Comprehensive "reviews of the application of criminal sanctions as a drug control measure";
  • Recognition of harm reduction as a necessary and worthwhile response to drug abuse;
  • A shift in primary emphasis from interdiction to treatment and prevention;
  • Alternatives to incarceration;
  • The provision of development aid to farmers before eradication of coca or opium crops;
  • Acknowledging that young people represent a significant proportion of drug users worldwide, are disproportionately affected by drugs and drug policy, and should be actively involved in the setting of global drug policy.

"We achieved a set of declarations of what the people of the world think drug policy ought to look like," said Graham Boyd of the ACLU Drug Law Policy Project. "We reached a consensus on a set of policies that is really different from what we've seen so far. It's a shift away from interdiction, arrests, and imprisonment, and toward including concepts like human rights and harm reduction."

Fayzal Sulliman (Sub-Saharan African Harm Reduction Network, Stijn Goossens (International Network Of People Who Use Drugs), Kris Krane (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)
"We hammered out a pretty amazing set of suggestions as to where the UNODC and CND should go in the next decade," said Jack Cole, executive director of LEAP. "I thought it was wonderful. This is a consensus document," Cole noted. "While that means anything that everybody couldn't agree on didn't get in, it also means that every single person there agreed with what did get in. That's why I'm so pleased with this. At the end, we were able to agree on some really, really good things."

"I think we accomplished a lot," said Lennice Werth of Virginians Against Drug Violence. "What was really important was where the rest of the world stood, and it was clear from the regional meetings that everyone else mentioned harm reduction and the decriminalization of drug use as goals. By the end of the meetings, the whole world was sitting back and watching as two US factions slugged it out. It became evident that the whole world is seeing the light except for these hard-liners in the States."

"This was a really good reality check for the US prohibitionists," said Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies. "They've never been forced to sit in a room with so many people who have evolved so far beyond them. A real wake-up call. And we even got some of them to engage us, and found we had a lot in common. That leaves the hardliners way out in the cold."

"The NGO community is united in insisting that the UN and member states respect the human rights of people who use drugs, and that all drug strategies must be drafted in the spirit of human rights declarations," said Kris Krane, executive director of SSDP. "If adopted by the United Nations, this could have a profound impact in many parts of the world where drug users are routinely treated as subhuman, and subjected to treatment that would be unthinkable even in the context of repressive United States drug policy."

"We achieved some important gains," said Frederick Polak, speaking as a member of ENCOD, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies. "But the central issue for ENCOD and its 150 organizations is to get alternative drug control policies on the agenda of CND and of individual countries. It is no longer acceptable that alternative policies are simply not discussed by governments, and not at the UN, at least not at the level of policymakers."

In that regard, said Polak, Beyond 2008 did not go far enough. "We made very little progress on actually getting legalization and regulation on the agenda, and only in the sense that most people are aware now that the issue 'hangs in the air' in Vienna," he said.

The haggling between the prohibitionist fringe and the rest of the NGOs not only prevented the adoption of more overtly anti-prohibitionist language, Polak said, it also prevented discussion of additional proposals for alternative drug control policies, including one advanced by ENCOD.

But it is a ways from passing a civil society resolution to seeing it adopted by the global anti-drug bureacracy. Now that Beyond 2008 has crafted its resolutions, the goal is to see that it has some impact on the deliberations of the UN drug bodies next year. That involves not only showing up in Vienna, but also impressing upon national governments that they need to heed what civil society is telling them.

"This was the first quarter in a game that has three quarters left," said Boyd. "But we did well in the sense that until this conference, NGOs didn't really have a place at the table when it came to discussing international drug policy. What this means is that when the nations convene and reassess international drug policy in coming months, they will know that NGOs from all of their countries have really called on them to reassess the direction they're going," he continued.

"This is going to provide traction for reform of the international drug control system, and the fact that it was a consensus document make it even more powerful," said Tree. "The prohibitionists were so marginalized, they had to consent. Some even opened their ears and listened. We have opened the door for drug policy approaches like harm reduction, public health, regulation, and ending the folly of blaming other countries for our demand."

"Now we need to make sure our voices are heard," said Boyd. "Part of that is just showing up in Vienna, but part of that is speaking to our national government representatives and making sure they're really representing us. In our case, our national government hasn't shown much empathy for the positions we've taken, but we're a democratic society, so I hope they will include our views."

Reformers must also continue to make the case against drug prohibition, said ENCOD's Polak. "The theory of prohibition is that it will diminish drug production, supply and use. Yet in reality it has achieved the exact opposite, and has additionally created violence, corruption and chaos that is now destroying millions of lives. It's safe to say that prohibition theory has been proven false," he said.

"In any other field of policy, alternative methods would be explored, but in international drug policy, consideration of alternative policies is taboo," Polak continued. "With this argument, drug policy activists should try to convince public opinion and politicians in their country that there is an urgent need for a thorough and rational study of alternative drug control policies."

"This could be an exercise in futility," said Werth, acknowledging the slow pace of change at the UN and the uncertainty over whether change will occur at all. "But it doesn't seem like it. The UN moves at a glacial pace, but they know they didn't achieve a drug-free world, and when they move, it will undercut the gang in charge of drug policy in this country."

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Chronicle Book Review: "Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine," by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb (2008, NYU Press, 244 pp., $22.00 PB)

Click here to order this book today!

Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor

In "Dying to Get High," sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb have written a sympathetic yet academically rigorous account of the contemporary controversies surrounding medical marijuana. They trace the use of marijuana as medicine in the US, its decline as a medicine in the early 20th Century, its removal from the pharmacopeia in 1941 (just four years after it was banned by federal law), the continuing blockage of research into its medical benefits by ideologically-driven federal authorities, and the renaissance of medical marijuana knowledge today, much of it derived from -- gasp! -- patients, not doctors or researchers.

As sociologists, Chapkis and Webb have a keen eye for the broader social, cultural, and political forces surrounding the issue of medical marijuana, from the rise of the pharmaceutical and medical establishments to the "culture war" contempt for marijuana and users among many Americans. But as much as middle America may disdain pot-smoking hippies, it seems that it is marijuana's location on the wrong side of the modern scientific and pharmaceutical discourse that most hinders its acceptance as a medicine.

Pot is a plant, not a pill. It is an herbal medication, not a chemical compound. It is a "crude plant material," not a "pure drug." All of this, Chapkis and Webb suggest, make it difficult indeed for the medical and scientific establishment to wrap its head around medical marijuana. And when scientific bias is coupled with cultural disdain and fear of widespread "abuse," that the federal government remains resistant to medical marijuana is hardly a surprise.

Chapkis and Webb deliver a resounding, well-reasoned indictment of the political and (pseudo) scientific opposition to medical marijuana, and their succinct discussion of the issues surrounding the controversy is worth the price of admission.

But "Dying to Get High" is also an in-depth portrait of one of the country's most well-known medical marijuana collectives, the Wo/Men's Access to Medical Marijuana (WAMM) collective in Santa Cruz, California, and it is here that the authors are really breaking new ground. They go from the big-picture sociology of medical marijuana in the past century to narrowly focus on ethnography of a patient collective, describing in loving detail the inner workings, dynamics, and tensions of a group with charismatic leadership -- Mike and Valerie Corral -- more than 200 seriously ill patients, and the specter of the DEA always looming.

Their account of the emergence and permanence of WAMM is both moving and enlightening. Rooted in the fertile soil of Santa Cruz, already well-tilled by previous social movements such as feminism, gay rights, and AIDS activism, WAMM may only have been possible in a place that friendly to radical movements and that familiar with activism around issues of medical care and social justice. Chapkis and Webb chart its formation, its growth, its conflicts and problems, and the humanity of its suffering members.

They also tell the story of the 2002 DEA raid on the WAMM garden and its devastating impact on members. But that raid and its aftermath were not just a blow to the sick and dying, they were a call to arms, impelling WAMM into ever more overtly political action to protect itself and the broader movement.

More broadly, Chapkis and Webb do a great service by dissecting WAMM, looking at how it works, how it handles dysfunction, and how it provides a service far beyond mere medical marijuana to its members. WAMM is perhaps the model medical marijuana collective, and it has many lessons to offer the interested reader.

Would a WAMM-style collective work elsewhere? Chapkis and Webb emphasize the importance of the cultural and political backdrop in Santa Cruz in making WAMM possible, but I think the very emergence of WAMM as a successful collective makes the possibility of similar collectives coming into being elsewhere all the more likely. After all, even California as a whole is not as radicalized as Santa Cruz or San Francisco, but similar collectives are popping up in Santa Rosa and the San Fernando Valley, among other places.

In any case, Chapkis and Webb provide plenty to chew on, for those who want to pick up some historical knowledge and debating points, for those interested in the genesis of the contemporary marijuana movement, and for those who are pondering the viability of similarly radical approaches to health and self-organizing.

Click here to order this book today!

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Media: David Borden in Televised Drug Legalization Debate

  • David Borden, Executive Director,, Washington, DC

  • Deirdre Boyd, CEO, Addiction Recovery Foundation, London
  • host: Shahab Mossavat
  • part 1 of 3:


    part 2 of 3:


    part 3 of 3:


    Click here to view the full one-hour program on David Borden did not appear in the first half due to technical problems. PressTV is an English-language network based in Teheran, which airs across Europe and the Middle East.

    references for statements made by David Borden:

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

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

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

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

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    Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

    A North Texas officer snitches for the Zetas, a Louisiana cop gets a package of pot from Mexico, a New Jersey Transit cop gets popped with pounds of pot, a Mississippi cop gets nailed for stealing from the dope fund, and an Ohio narc goes to prison for stealing coke. Let's get to it:

    In Dallas, a former Collin County deputy constable was arrested July 8 for allegedly passing law enforcement information on to his cousin, who state and federal officials say is a "cell leader" for the Zetas, the hit men for the Mexican Gulf Cartel. Deputy Constable Robert Benavides is charged with six counts of abuse of official capacity for checking on whether any arrest warrants were pending for his cousin and for running the registration on vehicles his cousin suspected were police surveillance vehicles. In return, Benavides received "several grams" of cocaine, he allegedly told authorities. Benavides went down after a DEA agent surveilling his cousin recorded conversations on the cousin's cell phone, including one to him. Benavides has worked for several Texas law enforcement agencies, most recently at the Richland College Police Department, where he is now on paid administrative leave.

    In Marksville, Louisiana, a Marksville police officer was arrested July 9 after taking delivery of a drug-laden package from Mexico. Officer Victor Greenhouse, 40, is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute after he was busted with seven pounds of pot when Louisiana State Police and Avoyelles Parish sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at his home. Local authorities said they had been tipped off to the package by police in Houston. Greenhouse is now on administrative leave and was residing at the Avoyelles Parish Jail at latest report.

    In Newark, New Jersey, a New Jersey Transit police officer was arrested July 10 after police found four pounds of marijuana in the back seat of his car. Sgt. Barrington Williams, 46, was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by the Transit Police and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He is charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a handgun (because he had his service revolver with him during the incident) and official misconduct. He is out on $5,000 cash bail, but is suspended without pay from his $87,000-a-year job.

    In Natchez, Mississippi, a former Natchez police officer turned himself in July 10 to face charges he ripped off the Metro Narcotics unit where he worked. Former officer Eric Kaho, 30, was indicted by an Adams County grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $500 from a fund that included seized drug money and Metro Narcotics "drug buy" money. Kaho went on sick leave last year, but accidentally shot himself in the chest shortly before he was scheduled to return to work.

    In Lisbon, Ohio, a former Colombiana County narc was sentenced July 9 to a year in prison for stealing cocaine under his control. Former undercover narcotics officer Thomas Smith, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in office after cocaine in a storage unit came up missing. Smith had recently retired from the sheriff's office, where he made numerous undercover drug buys over the years.

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    Medical Marijuana: Seattle Police Seize Hundreds of Patient Files in Raid on Co-op

    Seattle police who acted after a bicycle officer smelled marijuana seized files on nearly 600 medical marijuana patients Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. After consulting with prosecutors, police raided the Lifevine cooperative and seized 12 ounces of marijuana and a computer, as well as the patient files.

    According to Martin Martinez, who heads the co-op as well as Cascadia NORML, no marijuana was being grown at the scene and no one was arrested. The patient files were on hand because Cascadia NORML was preparing ID cards and needed proof the patients were legitimate, he said.

    Under Washington's medical marijuana law, patients can have a 60-day supply of marijuana. The law does not define that quantity, but the state Health Department this month proposed that it be defined as 24 ounces of usable marijuana, and six mature and 18 immature plants. Seattle voters in 2003 passed an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority.

    Apparently somebody in the city's law enforcement establishment didn't get the message. A spokesman for the King County prosecutor's office told the AP that police consulted a deputy prosecutor before raiding the co-op. The Seattle police have so far not commented.

    Martinez and Seattle medical marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt said they tried to persuade police and the deputy prosecutor not to raid the premises since the state's medical marijuana law was not being violated. But that didn't work.

    The police "have a heck of a lot of patient records I don't think they should have," said Hiatt. "For one thing, those records are protected under federal privacy laws. If you're a medical marijuana patient, you don't want the police to know who you are or where you live, and this is why -- because you don't get treated very well."

    Washington ACLU attorney Alison Chinn Holcomb told the AP there was no evidence the co-op was growing or providing marijuana and no information so far revealed that would justify seizing patient records. "These are very sick people with very serious conditions, and we're sure none of them want the nature of those conditions made available to the public or to anyone who doesn't have a valid need for it," she said.

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    Search and Seizure: Strip Search of School Girl for Ibuprofen Went Too Far, Federal Appeals Court Says

    An Arizona school violated the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old school girl when it subjected her to a strip search to see if she was carrying the pain reliever ibuprofen, a narrowly divided federal appeals court ruled last Friday. Lower courts had held that the school did not violate Fourth Amendment strictures against unreasonable searches and seizures because officials have a legitimate interest in protecting students from prescription drugs.

    Ibuprofen is available in lower doses as a non-prescription drug and is found in common medications such as Advil and Motrin to treat ailments like cramps and headaches. Higher doses of the drug require a prescription.

    The ruling came in Redding v. Stafford Unified School District, in which honor student Savana Redding sued the district over the 2003 search. On the day in question, Safford Middle School Principal Kerry Wilson found two prescription strength ibuprofen tablets in the possession of one of Redding's classmates, who fingered her as the source. After escorting Redding to his office, Wilson informed her of the accusation, which she denied. Redding then agreed to a search of her possessions, which turned up nothing. Wilson then ordered a female administrative assistant to conduct a strip search in the school nurse's office. In the school nurse's office, Redding was ordered to strip to her underwear. She was then commanded to pull her bra out and to the side, exposing her breasts, and to pull her underwear out at the crotch, exposing her pelvic area. The strip search failed to uncover any ibuprofen pills.

    "The strip search was the most humiliating experience I have ever had," said Redding in a sworn affidavit following the incident. "I held my head down so that they could not see that I was about to cry."

    For the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the search was not only humiliating, but unconstitutional. "Directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen, an infraction that poses an imminent danger to no one, and which could be handled by keeping her in the principal's office until a parent arrived or simply sending her home, was excessively intrusive," Justice Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the 6-5 majority. "A reasonable school official, seeking to protect the students in his charge, does not subject a thirteen-year-old girl to a traumatic search to 'protect' her from the danger of Advil. We reject Safford's effort to lump together these run-of-the-mill anti-inflammatory pills with the evocative term 'prescription drugs,' in a knowing effort to shield an imprudent strip search of a young girl behind a larger war against drugs," Wardlaw wrote.

    "It does not take a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old girl is an invasion of constitutional rights. More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity. The self-serving statement of a cornered teenager facing significant punishment does not meet the heavy burden necessary to justify a search accurately described by the 7th Circuit as 'demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant [and] embarrassing,'" Wardlaw continued. "And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen pills. No legal decision cited to us, or that we could find, permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over-the-counter at any convenience store throughout the United States."

    Not all the justices agreed. In his dissent, Justice Michael Daly Hawkins wrote: "We should resist using our independent judgment to determine what infractions are so harmful as to justify significantly intrusive searches. Seemingly innocuous items can, in the hands of creative adolescents, present serious threats. Admittedly, ibuprofen is one of the mildest drugs children could choose to abuse. But that does not mean it is never harmful."

    The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, whose Adam Wolf, helped argue the case, was pleased. "Students and parents nationwide can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that adolescents cannot be strip searched based on the unsubstantiated accusation of a classmate trying to get out of trouble," said Wolf, co-counsel in the case with the law firms Humphrey & Petersen and McNamara, Goldsmith, Jackson & Macdonald, in a statement greeting the ruling. "This ruling is a victory for our fundamental right to privacy, sending a clear signal that such traumatizing searches have no place in America's schools."

    Redding pronounced herself pleased, too. "I took my case to court because I wanted to make sure that school officials wouldn't be able to violate anyone else's rights like this again," she said in the same statement. "This was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I am relieved that a court has finally recognized that the Constitution protects students from being strip searched in schools on the basis of unreliable rumors."

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    Europe: Battle of the Swiss Drug Referenda

    Swiss voters will have a clear choice on their drug policy preferences as they head to the polls on November 30. They can put their seal of approval on reforms approved by parliament in March, or they can vote for an abstinence-promoting referendum submitted by rightist parties that last week announced they had gathered the 50,000 signatures necessary to put their proposal on the ballot.

    In March, the parliament backed a proposal that would decriminalize the use and possession of small amounts of drugs. The proposal would also permit the use of psychoactive drugs, including heroin, for scientific or therapeutic purposes.

    That's too much for the uber-conservative Federal Democratic Union and Swiss People's Party, who filed the referendum challenging the proposal. The proposed law is too liberal, they said. Opposition from the People's Party has helped block drug reforms before in Switzerland. Later this year, we will see if the Swiss still find them persuasive.

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    Europe: Austrian Parliament Okays Medical Marijuana, But Only State Agency Can Grow It

    The Austrian parliament approved a bill July 9 that allows for the cultivation of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, Agence France-Presse reported. But the bill gives the exclusive right to grow marijuana to a health and food safety agency under the control of the Health Ministry.

    Maria-Theresien-Platz with Kunsthistorisches Museum and Hofburg Palace in background, downtown Vienna
    Still, it is progress, said Michael Bach, president of the Austrian pain studies association OeSG. "Any initiative that makes it possible to develop and provide new drugs for pain therapy is welcome," he said. "Substances drawn from cannabis have been used for medical purposes more and more in the last few years," he added.

    It is unclear whether or how quickly this move will result in the provision of medical marijuana to patients or whether it signals a softening of official attitudes toward medical marijuana users. Currently, possession or sales of marijuana will get you six months in prison in Austria.

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    Europe: Rastafarians Can Smoke Marijuana, Italian Court Rules

    The Italian Court of Cassation, the highest criminal court in the land, has thrown out the drug trafficking conviction of a Rastafarian, saying the amount of marijuana he possessed was consistent with the heavy use that comes with his religious beliefs.

    Under Italian law, using or possessing small amounts of marijuana is not a crime, but possessing larger amounts can bring a drug trafficking charge. That's what happened to an Italian Rastafarian from Perugia, who was sentenced to 16 months in jail and a $5,000 fine for possession of about 3 1/2 ounces of marijuana.

    But the Court of Cassation said the court of first appeal had failed to consider that the man smoked because of his religious beliefs. According to the high court, Rastafarianism allows for smoking up to 10 grams a day. Rastas smoke the herb "with the memory and in the belief that the sacred plant grew on the tomb of King Solomon," the court said. They use it "not only as a medical but also as a meditative herb. And, as such [it is] a possible bearer of the psychophysical state of contemplation and prayer."

    The conservative Italian government is not happy. The ruling "shatters the laws which forbid and proscribe penal sanctions for" the use of illegal drugs, an Interior Ministry spokesman said in remarks reported by London's The Independent.

    "Today we learn a Rasta is free to go around with drugs. If somebody belonged to a religion which permitted them to eat their children, would they give them the go-ahead, too?" worried right-wing Senator Maurizio Gasparri.

    Radical Party Senator Marco Perduca was more concerned about practitioners of Italy's most popular religion. He suggested to ItaliaNews that Italian Catholic pot smokers should find their own saint to worship.

    The reaction was also more upbeat at Rototom Sunsplash, Europe's largest reggae festival, which happened to be occurring as the ruling came down. "Finally the principle of religious pluralism is beginning to make headway," Filippo Giunta, president of the festival, said. "This judgment... underlines again the difference between this substance and so-called 'hard' drugs, alcohol included."

    The ruling recognizing the spiritual use of marijuana is the first in Europe. Advocates of religious marijuana use have made little headway in the courts in the US, despite devoted efforts, although the Guam Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that a Guamanian Rasta charged with importing marijuana could not be prosecuted because his use was religious.

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    Death Penalty: Indonesia Gives Go-Ahead for More Executions

    Indonesian authorities executed two Nigerian men, Iwachekwu Okoye and Hansen Anthony Nwaliosa, for drug trafficking on International Anti-Drug Day, June 26. They were the first executions of drug offenders in the island nation since 2004, but Indonesian authorities are warning they won't be the last.

    Executions for drug offenders had been on hiatus, but that has changed since the county's Constitutional Court upheld the death penalty for drug offenses late last year. Indonesia had suspended executions for drug offenders in 2006 while the court was considering the constitutional case and had not executed a drug offender for two years prior to that.

    Now, the country's attorney general is warning drug offenders on death row their days could be numbered. In a statement late last month, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said executions would be expedited for the 58 drug offenders sentenced to death there.

    That could still take some time, Deputy Attorney General A. Ritonga told the New York Times on Sunday. "Death row inmates will only be executed according to the law, after their appeals are exhausted," he said.

    Ritonga added that death row prisoners can apply for clemency. But Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has publicly said he will not pardon drug offenders.

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    Europe: Selling Grow Equipment Not a Crime, British Appeals Court Rules

    A British appeals court has thrown out the convictions of three men charged with conspiracy to aid and abet the production of cannabis for selling hydroponic growing equipment. Prosecutors argued that the men used their hydroponics firm to supply equipment to marijuana growers and should have reasonably foreseen that the equipment would be used to grow marijuana. But prosecutors never showed that anyone had used the equipment to grow marijuana.

    Still, that was enough to win convictions at trial court, and the three men, owner David Kenning, employee Paul Blackshaw, and business partner Paul Fenwick, were sentenced to 21 months, probation, and three years, respectively.

    But it wasn't good enough for the British appeals court. In his June 24 decision in Regina v. Kenning et al., Lord Phillips, the lord chief justice, ruled that the offenses of conspiracy to aid and abet and counsel the production of cannabis were "unknown to law" and had to be quashed. "There can be no conviction for aiding and abetting, counseling or procuring, unless the offense is shown to have occurred," he said. "It is not an offense to attempt to aid and abet, counsel or procure the commission of an offense."

    Britain is in the midst of a marijuana mania, with busts of grows reported every day across the country. According to some estimates, home growers account for between 60% and 80% of the British marijuana supply. While it is legal to sell high-powered lights and hydroponic growing systems -- both of which can be used to grow all sorts of plants -- it is not legal to assist in growing marijuana.

    But now, British authorities will have to actually prove that any given equipment supplier knew that the person he sold it do was going to use it to grow marijuana. That should bring some relief to the British grow shop industry.

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    Weekly: This Week in History

    July 18, 1956: The Narcotics Control Act/Daniel Act is passed, establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

    July 24, 1967: The Beatles pay for a full page advertisement in a British newspaper, which states, "The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice." The ad calls for the legalization of marijuana possession, release of all prisoners on marijuana possession charges and government research into medical uses.

    July 23, 1985: Tulio Manuel Castro Gil, judge of the Superior Court of Bogota, Colombia, is assassinated as he climbs into a taxi, following his indictment of Pablo Escobar for the murder of Lara Bonilla.

    July 20, 1995: The total number of US marijuana arrests since 1965 passes the 10,000,000 mark, according to an estimate by NORML.

    July 22, 1997: Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey says, "In the view of the nation's scientific and medical community, marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no generally accepted therapeutic value." He says this despite an editorial from the January 30, 1997 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that states, "Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medicinal use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat."

    July 19, 2001: The Washington Post reports that a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration compromised dozens of prosecutions across the United States by falsely testifying under oath and concealing his own arrest record, but the DEA continued to employ him for 16 years despite detailed knowledge of his wrongdoing, according to interviews, court records and an internal report by the agency.

    July 19, 2001: In conjunction with a two-day NIDA-directed Ecstasy conference, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), introduces the "Ecstasy Prevention Act of 2001." An initial analysis by the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) shows that this new bill, while giving lip-service to generating more scientific data about the health consequences of MDMA (Ecstasy), directs over 22 million dollars to increased law enforcement, media propaganda, and the creation of a new MDMA drug test.

    July 21, 2004: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Prof. Lyle Craker, and Valerie Corral file lawsuits against the DEA, HHS, NIH, and NIDA for obstructing medical marijuana research.

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    Job Opportunities: Two Full-time Jobs, a Fellowship, and an Internship, Marijuana Policy Project, DC

    For all positions described below, please visit for full job descriptions, salary information, and instructions on how to apply.

    Job I: Office Administrator/Bookkeeper

    The Office Administrator/Bookkeeper manages MPP's main office, does all bookkeeping, and assists the executive director. This position is an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of operating a fast-paced grassroots lobbying organization. The successful candidate will be a highly organized self-starter with excellent written and verbal communication skills, meticulous attention to detail, and a professional demeanor and appearance. Experience with accounting, bookkeeping, or QuickBooks is strongly preferred.

    Job II: Director of State Policies

    The Director of State Policies manages MPP's grassroots and direct lobbying efforts in all state legislatures, as well as managing MPP's State Policies department staff. The overarching goal of the position is to pass medical marijuana legislation and/or marijuana regulation legislation in state legislatures, while preventing bad bills from being enacted. The position requires strong political instincts, solid political or government relations experience, and exceptional management skills.

    Fellowship Opportunity: Membership and Events Fellowship

    The membership and events fellow assists MPP's Membership and Grants & VIP Outreach departments. The Grants & VIP Outreach department coordinates MPP's special events and manages MPP's grants program, which dispenses $1.5 million annually in support of efforts that foster measurable changes in marijuana policy. The Membership department coordinates MPP's fundraising, conducts donor research, oversees communications with members, maintains MPP's member database, processes donations, and submits grant applications. The fellowship begins in late August or early September, pays $9 per hour and requires a minimum four-month commitment.

    Internship Opportunity: State Policies Internship

    The state policies intern works in MPP's State Policies department, which is dedicated to reforming marijuana laws on the state level through direct lobbying and by inspiring lobbying at the grassroots level by individuals and allied organizations. This is an unpaid, part-time internship, with class credit available. Interns work 16-20 hours per week and have the chance to play a responsible role in a successful nonprofit organization.

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    Job Opportunity: Outreach Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, DC or San Francisco

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a grassroots political advocacy organization with a member network of thousands and a national staff of five, is seeking a highly motivated, well-organized individual to assist with strengthening the student movement to end the failed War on Drugs. This is a full-time, entry-level position that is ideal for a person with prior student organizing experience. The application deadline is August 3rd, 2008.

    SSDP currently employs one outreach director. Due to the growing demand for services, SSDP is hiring a second outreach director, who will be based in Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA. Interested individuals may apply for the position in either location.

    Duties of the outreach director include:

    1) Assisting students who wish to start SSDP chapters: The outreach director receives several chapter startup inquiries each day. He/she promptly responds to each inquiry and guides the student through the process of establishing a chapter on campus. The outreach director is also responsible for the development of trainings and materials that will benefit students working to start new chapters. Information on new chapter progress is tracked using database software.

    2) Proactive recruitment: The outreach director proactively recruits new students to start chapters by tabling at schools, concerts, conferences and other events. He/she also seeks out likely chapter leaders via social networking websites like Facebook.

    3) Providing support to established chapters: The outreach director works with the field director on developing materials and the execution of grassroots campaigns. The field director takes the lead on creating resources for chapter events and campaigns, while the outreach director works with new and inexperienced chapters on implementation.

    4) Event planning: The outreach director coordinates events that require many different components (e.g. outreach, logistics, materials, etc). These events include international and regional conferences, small fundraising events, campaign rallies, and demonstrations.

    A qualified applicant will have succinct, persuasive, inspiring writing, plus a close attention to detail. Exceptional interpersonal skills are essential. The applicant will communicate orally with comfort and conviction, and must be extremely comfortable with phone communication, as the outreach director will be required to spend a great deal of time on the phone communicating with potential chapter leaders. The applicant must also be comfortable with working nontraditional hours (occasional nights and weekends), as this is when students are most available.

    A qualified candidate will be a self-starter who is creative in developing outreach strategies and tactics. A demonstrated dedication to drug policy reform is valuable, but not necessary. SSDP places a premium on experience working with and managing volunteers, especially in the context of student organizing and activism. SSDP relies heavily on Apple products and Facebook, so a working knowledge of both is preferred.

    The outreach director is trained and supervised by the field director, and reports directly to the executive director.

    Interested applicants should e-mail a one-page cover letter and one- or two-page resume to Executive Director Kris Krane at [email protected]. In your cover letter, please indicate (1) how you learned about SSDP's job opening, (2) why you are interested in working with SSDP, (3) why you think this particular position is a good fit for you, (4) what experience you have in student organizing or drug policy reform work and (5) which of our offices you are interested in working from (San Francisco, CA or Washington, DC) and if your desired location is flexible. Feel free to include any additional information you deem relevant, not to exceed one page.

    Salary is $28,000-$32,000, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health care and the satisfaction that comes along with changing the world for the better.

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an equal opportunity employer. SSDP has a strong commitment to diversity and, as such, women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and individuals who have been directly affected by the Drug War are encouraged to apply.

    If you submit a cover letter and resume, SSDP will respond to you within three weeks with either a request for additional documentation, or notification that your application is being considered.

    Please visit for information on SSDP's advocacy.

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    Job Opportunity: Media Relations Director, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Washington, DC

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to challenge inflexible and excessive prison terms required by mandatory sentencing laws. FAMM seek to restore judicial discretion so the punishment fits the crime and the individual. FAMM's national membership include individuals, organizations, prisoners and their families concerned about achieving sentencing equity.

    Responsibilities include working with the communication director and other staff to maximize the reach and impact of FAMM's campaigns and programs through the media; writing press releases, white papers and supporting materials, including resource lists; managing media relations, announcements and editorial placement; pitching reporters and arranging interviews to get FAMM's messages out; planning and coordinating policy-related media events for state and federal campaigns; writing op-eds and letters to the editor of newspapers on behalf of staff and public officials; updating FAMM media lists with national and state contacts; managing, archiving and distributing media clips on FAMM and related issues to staff and email lists; updating website pages with news clips, press releases and related resources; coordinating media training for members and program staff; and speaking at educational forums and meetings.

    Qualifications include at least 2-4 years of media relations experience, including significant writing and editing experience, preferably in a related area; creativity in packaging stories on sentencing and fearlessness in pitching ideas to reporters; familiarity with and a passion for criminal justice related issues; experience creating and managing policy-related media events; and an ability to work independently and as part of small teams with multiple responsibilities.

    This is a full-time position with salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include generous vacation and holiday schedules and medical, dental and disability insurances.

    Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to Monica Pratt Raffanel at [email protected]. For more information, see No phone calls please.

    FAMM is an equal opportunity employer.

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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! Check out the Speakeasy main page at

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

    Since last issue:

    Scott Morgan brings us: "Drug Testing Advocate Gets Busted For Drugs," "U.S. Drug Warriors Interfere With Vienna Drug Policy Summit," "Former Staffer Accuses Drug Czar's Office of Faking Statistics," "Opponents of Marijuana Reform Can't Keep Their Story Straight," "The Link Between Sagging Pants Laws and the Drug War," "Prosecutors Spend Confiscated Drug Money on Margarita Machine, Win 'Best Margarita' at County Fair."

    SSDP's Irina Alexander guest blogs: "Save the Children, Legalize Drugs."

    DRCNet intern Jimi Devine (also of SSDP) authors: "How Many Patients You Say??... Well Here Are Their Names, Addresses, and Card Numbers."

    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.

    Again, is the online place to stay in the loop for the fight to stop the war on drugs. Thanks for reading, and writing...

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    Help Needed: Drug War Chronicle Seeking Cases of Informant Abuse

    Many of our readers know about the tragic case of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old in Tallahassee, Florida, who was killed by drug dealers after police coerced her into acting as an informant without having access to an attorney. Drug War Chronicle is currently looking for cases, reported or unreported, in which police appear to have committed misconduct or made serious misjudgments in their treatment of informants.

    If you can help us find such cases, please email David Borden at [email protected]. We will keep your name and personal information confidential unless you tell us otherwise. If you are uncomfortable sending this information by email, feel free to contact us by phone instead; our office number is (202) 293-8340, and you can speak or leave a message with David Borden or David Guard. Thank you in advance for your help.

    Further information on the informant issue, including the Rachel Hoffman case, can be found in our category archive here.

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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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    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.

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

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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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